Yeesh. The site is still a mess, I know. There’s still a chunk of posts I have to restore manually, one-by-one, and then of course the look of the site. Please try to ignore that and focus on these muffins. They’re my new favorites and I’ve been itching to share them.
These muffins are so simple, but so wonderful. One morning I was running late for work (story of my life) and totally forgot to eat breakfast, so I stopped by the deli to pick up a muffin. I saw cream cheese muffins, which is something I was totally unfamiliar with up to that point. My first reaction was, “Boring.” But something made me take a second look. I ended up trying it, and I was instantly obsessed. I knew I needed to make them at home. They’re super moist and slightly tangy from the cream cheese with a bright lemon zing, flecked with beautiful vanilla bean. Sweet but not too sweet, with a crunchy raw sugar topping. They’re the perfect breakfast or snacking muffin—so simple and delicious on their own, but easily enhanced with a spread of your favorite jam.
You can even put the jam in the muffins. I was intrigued by some blueberry-chocolate jam at the farmer’s market a couple weeks ago, so I bought it with the sole purpose of baking it into these muffins. And it was fab. Simply fill the muffin cups halfway with the batter, add a teaspoon of your favorite jam, and cover with the remaining batter. You can even stir fresh fruit into the batter! These muffins are simply the perfect base for your favorite fruit flavors. You must try them this summer.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place a muffin liner inside each opening of a muffin pan. Spray each liner lightly with non-stick cooking spray.
Add flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk together.
In a small bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest. Rub together with your fingers until well-combined. Add to flour mixture and whisk together.
In a measuring cup, combine the milk and lemon juice and stir. Let sit for several minutes until slightly curdled.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the room temperature cream cheese until light and creamy. Add eggs and beat until smooth. Add milk mixture, vanilla bean paste and melted butter and mix thoroughly.
In 3 batches, add the flour mixture to the cream cheese mixture, mixing after each addition until just incorporated.
Using an ice cream scoop, spoon the batter evenly into the 12 prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle the tops generously with the turbinado sugar. If using jam, fill each cup halfway and add about a teaspoon of jam, then top with the remaining batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the muffins are firm and just beginning to brown.
Today’s post is inspired by the lovely city of Toronto. Or, more specifically, a heavenly milkshake I had there. I just visited the city for the first time, and I’ve spent every night since I’ve been back trying to craft a “Toronto Eats” post for you—but I’ve just been stuck. So instead, I made some ice cream to further fuel my denial that I’m not still on vacation. Maybe I’ll get around to that post eventually, but I’m pretty sure we’d all rather talk about ice cream anyway. I usually save this kind of decadence for Sunday Sweets, but I couldn’t wait until next Sunday to share this. I’m sure you understand. Summer, schmummer—I’m more excited that it’s finally ice-cream-making season.
And this was an outstanding first batch of the season. This flavor is so light and fresh, but still creamy and indulgent. It’s truly the perfect way to welcome warm weather. The ice cream is sweet, creamy, and slightly tangy—just like good cheesecake should be. The hint of lemon and the zing of the fresh raspberries cut the richness of the ice cream and provide that bright, refreshing flavor. And of course, I couldn’t forget the crust—the graham cracker crumbs add a bit of texture and toasty deliciousness.
The ice cream base starts as a standard custard, but then we add the magic: cream cheese, vanilla bean paste, and lemon juice. The lemon juice is key—it doesn’t impart an extremely strong lemon flavor, but it provides an extra little tang that really gives the ice cream that distinct cheesecake flavor. Then, as the custard base chills, we whip up a super-quick homemade raspberry jam. Just throw some fresh raspberries, sugar, and some lemon in a pot, and about 20 minutes later…BAM! Jam! Then the base goes into the ice cream maker to churn away. When it’s ready, we layer the ice cream with our jam and graham cracker crumbs and freeze for a few hours before digging in.
In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the yolks just to break them up, then whisk in half of the sugar (6 tablespoons). Put the cream cheese in another medium heatproof bowl. Set both bowls aside.
In a heavy nonreactive saucepan, stir together the cream, milk, and the remaining sugar (6 tablespoons) and put the pan over medium-high heat. When the mixture approaches a bare simmer, reduce the heat to medium.
Carefully scoop out about ½ cup of the hot cream mixture and, whisking the eggs constantly, add the cream to the bowl with the egg yolks. Repeat, adding another ½ cup of the hot cream to the bowl with the yolks. Using a heatproof rubber spatula, stir the cream in the saucepan as you slowly pour the egg-and-cream mixture from the bowl into the pan.
Cook the mixture carefully over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it is thickened, coats the back of a spatula, and holds a clear path when you run your finger across the spatula, 1 to 2 minutes longer.
Strain the base through a fine-mesh strainer into the bowl with the cream cheese. Whisk until smooth, then set the bowl into an ice-water bath, wash your spatula, and use it to stir the base occasionally until it is cool. Remove from the ice-water bath, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate the base for at least 2 hours or overnight.
(In this recipe, it’s particularly important that the base is cold before proceeding to the next step, because otherwise the lemon juice will cause the mixture to “break” and lose its emulsion.)
Place metal spoon in freezer to chill. Combine raspberries, sugar, and lemon juice and zest in large saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium. Mash fruit with potato masher until fruit is mostly broken down. Simmer vigorously until fruit mixture thickens to jamlike consistency, 15-20 minutes.
To test for set point, remove saucepan from heat. Dip chilled spoon into jam and allow jam to run off spoon; jam should slowly fall off spoon in one thickened clump. If jam is runny, return to medium heat and simmer 2 to 4 minutes before retesting. Transfer finished jam to jar with tight-fitting lid, and let cool to room temperature before using in ice cream. Any extra jam can be covered and refrigerated for up to 4 weeks.
Ice Cream Assembly
½ cup graham cracker crumbs
When the custard base is fully chilled, add the lemon juice and vanilla and whisk to incorporate well.
Freeze in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. While the ice cream is churning, put the pint containers you’ll use to store the ice cream into the freezer.
When the ice cream is finished churning, take out the chilled pint containers and put a scoop of ice cream in the bottom of one (about ½ to 1 cup). Add a tablespoon or two of jam on top, along with a tablespoon or two of graham cracker crumbs. You can use as much or as little of each as you like. Then, repeat these steps until the container is full. Repeat this process with the other containers.
When the containers are full, stick a knife or chopstick down to the bottom of each and swirl it around just slightly. At this point, you can eat as-is for a soft-serve texture, or press a square of parchment or waxed paper on top of the ice cream in each container and put the lids on tightly before freezing for at least 4 hours. Always let the ice cream thaw slightly before serving. Top with a graham cracker piece and enjoy.
ds are a divisive subject. You’re either a lemon person or an almond person. For most of my life, I’ve been staunchly pro-almond. I’ve only recently come around to citrus in general, but it took me longer still to come around to lemon-flavored sweets. I’d still pick an almond
poppy seed muffin over a lemon one almost any day, but I’ve learned to appreciate the sweet and sour alternative. I’m an equal-opportunity poppy seed eater now. If it has poppy seeds in it, I’m on board. Do poppy seeds serve any purpose other than providing a delicate “crunc
h” with every chew? And getting stuck in your teeth?
Even if they’re just for show, poppy seeds sure do make for delicious muffins, cakes, and quick breads. This one included! The base is a simple lemon quick bread lightened up with greek yogurt, and I topped it off with a lemon-vanilla bean glaze that’s made with a little cream cheese. The glaze is totally optional, of course, but its sweetness—combined with the slight tang of the cream cheese—is a perfect complement to the tart lemon flavor. The cake itself has a dense crumb but isn’t heavy, and it’s super moist. And the glaze keeps helps to keep it that way. The beauty of quick breads like this is that they’re satisfyingly sweet, but also light—so you can enjoy a slice as a snack, for breakfast, or dessert. I do love a triple threat.
Lemon Poppy Seed Bread
Adapted from Allyou Yields 1 9×5″ loaf, 12 slices
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
¼ cup nonfat greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
¼ cup 1% or skim milk
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1½ tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon lemon juice
⅓ cup sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Splash 1% or skim milk (as needed)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan with baking spray or line with parchment paper. Stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Using electric mixer, cream unsalted butter, sugar and lemon zest on medium-high speed until fluffy. Beat in greek yogurt until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in vanilla bean paste. Mix in dry ingredients alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in lemon juice and poppy seeds.
Pour batter into pan and bake in center of oven until a tester inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Let loaf cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes before turning out onto rack. Cool completely.
For glaze, combine cream cheese, lemon juice, and vanilla bean paste in a small bowl and stir until combined. Whisk in powdered sugar until smooth. Stir in a splash of milk if glaze becomes too thick. Pour over cooled cake.
I’ve been traveling for work for the past couple weeks. The thing about traveling is that it inspires a domino effect of bad eating habits. First, in the days leading up to your trip, you don’t want to go grocery shopping and are stuck eating the weirdo hodgepodge at the back of the freezer—or, eating out for every meal. Then, on the trip you eat out for every meal. Then, when you get home, if you can’t go grocery shopping immediately, you have the option of eating the remnants of the weirdo freezer hodgepodge—orrrr eating out for every meal. .
Let’s just say, it hasn’t been a great couple of weeks as far as home cooking goes. Today, I at least got back in the kitchen—though it wasn’t exactly for a wholesome, healthy meal. But gosh, was it good. And after some tweaking, a totally reasonable indulgence. As you know if you’ve been reading the ol’ blog for a while, until last summer, I lived in Savannah, Georgia. I couldn’t be happier with my decision to move, but there is one thing that makes me wistfully recall those Southern days of yore: Back in the Day Bakery. I now realize that I should have eaten there as often as possible while I had the chance (and maybe taken up marathon running to counteract it).
Thankfully, Back in the Day recently came out with a cookbook. And it’s a seriously awesome cookbook. You should all buy it. I want to make everything in it forever. For my first recipe from the book, I could’ve made any number of the delicious sweet treats (and savories) that I sampled when I visited the bakery, but I wanted to try something new—and the recipe for “Lovely Lemon Loaf” caught my eye. As I’ve mentioned before, I haven’t been a huge fan of lemon-anything in the past. It takes a really good lemon-something to make me like it, but I trusted in Back in the Day Bakery. And it didn’t disappoint. This is really good. .
Of course I made a few changes to healthify it a bit and due to the fact that I have no groceries, but the essence remains: a moist, fluffy, light, lemony cake. It’s beautiful in its simplicity. I’m an all-chocolate-all-the-time kinda gal, but I gotta say that if you put a chocolate cupcake in front of me right now, I would reach for another slice of this lemon loaf.
Did you guys make resolutions? I generally don’t make any but I made a whole slew of them this year. The big one, which is proving to be the most problematic already on day 3 of 2012, is to cut way back on sugar and hopefully whip my sweet tooth into shape. Today was my first day of really giving it the old college try since it was my first day back in my regular routine, and I’ve got to say it was harder than I thought. Sugar is my kryptonite, and I have some seriously wicked cravings to overcome! .
In the spirit of starting the year off right, here’s a recipe that’ll make it a little easier to get off on the right foot. Chicken tetrazzini (not just of “Maury” fame) is a creamy pasta dish that is generally made with a base of condensed cream of mushroom soup, or copious amounts of heavy cream. Not exactly resolution-worthy, am I right? This version, from Clean Eating Magazine, uses a pureed vegetable base plus a bit of light sour cream for the sauce. It’s light and lemony and delicious at just 250 calories per serving. Impressive!
Among my produce for the past couple weeks has been a plethora of citrus. Oranges, lemons, and grapefruits. Now, I’m not a person who loves oranges, fresh and unadulterated. I like orange-flavored foods, but I have a weird “thing” about the texture of oranges so I don’t eat them by themselves. Obviously, I had to find a way to use some oranges in recipes so I wouldn’t have to eat them plain. .
I found a Cooking Light recipe for a basic orange coconut bread using orange zest and orange-flavored yogurt (Seriously? Yuck! If you’re going to buy an orange for the zest, at least use the juice!), so I messed with it a little and came up with the bread I’m featuring in this post. I could tell as soon as I finished mixing the batter that this bread was going to be insane. The smell was out of this world, and I could see that the texture was going to be fluffy and amazing. I was right—I’m in love with this stuff! .
The combination of the orange flavor and coconut (with lovely toasted bits on top) is, of course, delicious. The added lemon gives it an extra punch (though it doesn’t add a pronounced lemon flavor, it simply enhances the orange flavor), and the texture is soft and fluffy with just the right amount of chew for a quick bread. It’s just the right amount of sweet, but if you wanted to dress it up a little, you could make a quick glaze out of powdered sugar, lemon juice, orange juice, and maybe a little splash of milk. You could even add some orange liqueur to the cake itself or a glaze to really take it over the top for a special occasion, but it’s perfect as-is for everyday deliciousness. Continue reading →