Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Use-Up-The-Ripe-Bananas Cupcakes
with Fresh Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
or Peanut Butter and Chopped Peanuts Frosting

Is it just me, or do most people buy too many bananas (well, they come in a bunch) causing some to sit around the kitchen becoming very ripe and no longer pretty on the outside, but wonderfully flavorful and sweet on the inside?  One son-in-law thinks that very ripe, sweet bananas have gone rotten--all those black spots-- and won't touch banana bread or banana desserts...bananas with black anything, in his view, are way past their prime and way ready for the trash.

One of my favorite uses for these bananas that would find their way into the trash tomorrow is to bake cupcakes, which, with this recipe, are more like muffins topped with a dollop of flavorful  frosting added to their tops.

This recipe yields 12-14 regular sized cupcakes.

First, in a mixer bowl with a paddle attachment cream together:
1 stick butter at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar

When this mixture is smooth and fluffy add:
2 large room temperature eggs

Then add 2 or 3 (I go with 3) very ripe bananas broken into large chunks.  Mix 2 minutes, making sure the banana pieces have distributed well into the mixture with no large chunks remaining.

Now, add 1/4 cup of a  liquid sugary ingredient such as honey or light corn syrup or real maple syrup, depending on your tastes and what is in your pantry.

Next, add 1/4 cup of plain or vanilla yogurt or buttermilk.

Now choose a flavor booster such as vanilla extract, banana flavor, or rum, and add ½ to 1 teaspoon of your flavor choice.

This mixture may look curdled and due to the banana chunks it will be lumpy...not a pretty batter, but this is all how it should be.

In a separate medium size bowl whisk together: (You can do this while above is mixing or at the beginning of the cupcake making process, and set aside.)

2 1/3 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Now, preheat your oven to 350^ and line your cupcake pan with papers.  You are ready to add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in the mixer bowl.  Beat these ingredients together until all are well incorporated, but don’t over beat.  2 minutes of mixing is long enough, with a break to scrape down the bowl sides at about 1 minute.

It is easiest to use an ice cream scoop to fill the cupcake liners.  You will want to fill them 3/4 full.  Bake these cupcakes for 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean and the tops are golden brown.

When done, remove from oven to a wire rack and remove the cupcakes from the pans after 2 minutes.  If the cupcakes are allowed to completely cool in the pan, their bottoms may become soggy.

When the cupcakes are completely cool, make the frosting and pipe a swirl on each.

Frosting ideas:

1.    Peanut Butter Frosting:

In the bowl of a mixer with a paddle attachment place:
3/4 Cup peanut butter–I like chunky, but creamy is OK
2 Cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ Cup whole milk or cream or any milk will do...but creamy milk is best.

Beat all together...may need a tad more milk to create a good piping consistency.  In dry AZ I usually need more liquid.  (Piping is not necessary, can frost with a knife or spatula.)

After piping onto cupcake tops, garnish tops with chopped salted, roasted peanuts.  (Again any peanuts will do such as honey peanuts...whatever you have or like best.)

These cupcakes keep well for 3 days in an air-tight container.  If you keep them in the fridge, they will be good for an extra 2 days.
This frosting also works well with chocolate cupcakes or desserts with jam such as shortbread with jam.

2.    Fresh Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Beat together until creamy, but not airy (too much air does not pipe well):
1 stick butter
1 eight oz package cream cheese

Add the zest and juice of one juice orange (not navel orange).  Beat again.

Add enough powdered sugar to make good piping consistency...about 3-4 cups, depending on the juiciness and size of your orange.  Any leftovers keep well in the fridge in an airtight container for 2 weeks.  This frosting works well with strawberries or other berries desserts (such as strawberry cupcakes) or any citrus desserts that need a dollop of iciing.

NOTE:  One great thing about these cupcakes is that frosting is not necessary...they are good on their own, much like a muffin.  Without frosting these cupcakes are wonderful for brunch or as a quick on-the-run breakfast.

Add Ins you may like:
chopped pecans or walnuts
crushed pineapple (reduce the sugary liquid in the recipe)

Saturday, March 31, 2012


My Favorite Lemon Meringue Pie

A major advantage of living in the Arizona desert is the climate is perfect for growing our own citrus.  Nothing compares with freshly picked, zested, and squeezed fruit for my favorite lemon meringue pie.  The entire house is filled with the refreshing aroma from the lemon oils and juices every time I use our fresh fruit. 

For this pie, I like a milk and egg based custard, or pudding, for the filling rather than traditional lemon curd, which has richer flavors and has better uses.  It takes about 15 minutes to complete the filling and that includes time to run to the backyard, pick the fruit,  zest the rind,  and squeeze the juice

Kris Coconut Cupcakes with Lemon Curd and Cream Cheese Frosting


Kris’ Coconut Cupcakes with Lemon Curd

Yield: 24-36 Cupcakes, depending on size

First, make your garnish by spreading a cup or two of sweetened, shredded coconut on a baking sheet and place in a preheated 325^ oven.  Stir every few minutes until the coconut has toasted to a light, golden color.  This process will take 5 to 10 minutes.



1 3/4 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt, kosher is best

3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup buttermilk


Preheat oven to 350^, place rack in oven center, and line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until fluffy, add the sugar and beat on medium high until light–3 minutes.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.

Add vanilla and combine.

Beat in the coconut until combined, scraping the bowl sides as needed.

Add half the flour mixture and beat on low until combined.  Add buttermilk and beat until combined.  Then add the remaining flour mixture and beat just until all ingredients are incorporated.

Divide the batter among the muffin cups, using an ice cream type scoop, about 1/4 cup batter per paper liner, filling the cups about 3/4 full.

Bake until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of cupcake comes out clean, about 18 minutes.

Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes and place on rack to cool completely. 

Create a hole in the top of each cupcake using a small knife or very small scoop.  Fill this hole with lemon curd, recipe to follow.

Frost the filled cupcakes with a layer of cream cheese frosting using a piping bag with a large decorative tip.  A star stip works well.  Recipe to follow.

Sprinkle with the toasted coconut. 

Keep the filled and frosted cupcakes in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 days.  Bring to room temperature before serving.


2 large eggs
8 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice, strained
2 Tbls. Unsalted butter


In a heatproof bowl set over, but not touching, simmering water in a saucepan.  Whisk together the eggs and yolks, sugar and lemon juice.  Cook stirring constantly, until thickened, about 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and add the butter, stirring until incorporated.  Strain and cover with plastic wrap pressed directly on top of the curd and refrigerate until chilled.  The curd will keep for a week in the fridge.  Makes about 2 cups.

Cream Cheese Frosting:


4 cups powdered sugar (or more for desired consistency)
1 stick butter
8 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice


Beat cream cheese until smooth and fluffy.  Add butter and beat until smooth.  Add powdered sugar and beat on low until incorporated and then mix on medium for 1 minute or until smooth, but not airy.  Add lemon juice and beat until mixed.

Pipe onto cupcakes as desired for frosting.

Kris' Strawberry Cupcakes


Kris’ Strawberry Cupcakes

Yield: 30-36 cupcakes, depending on size



2 1/4 cups     AP flour
½ cup           cake flour
1 Tbls.          baking powder
1 tsp.           salt
2 sticks        unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/4 cups     sugar
1 ½ tsp         vanilla extract
3 large eggs,  room temperature, plus 1 egg white
1 cup             milk
2 ½ cups        strawberries, finely chopped


1 ½ cups        fresh strawberries (8 oz), rinsed, hulled and coarsely chopped
4                    large egg whites
1 1/4 cups      sugar
3 sticks          unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into cubes

Extra strawberries


Preheat oven to 350^.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cake flour, baking powder and salt; whisk to blend.  Set aside.
In a mixer bowl using medium speed beat the butter until creamy , about 3 minutes, then add the sugar and vanilla, beat again 2 minutes.

Add the eggs and egg white one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl sides 2 or 3 times.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix just until incorporated after each addition.

Remove bowl from mixer and using a spatula, gently fold in the chipped strawberries.

Divide the batter between the paper liners using an ice cream type scoop; about 1/4 cup per liner.
The liners should be about 3/4 full.

Bake about 25 minutes until light golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remember to rotate pans halfway through the baking process.

When done, remove pans from oven and cool on wire racks for 5 minutes.  Then remove cupcakes from pans and allow to cool completely on the racks.

To make the frosting, place the strawberries in a food processor or blender and puree. 

Combine the egg whites and sugar in the clean, heatproof mixer bowl and set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160^ and the sugar has dissolved.  Pinch a little of the warm mixture between your fingers to make sure the sugar has dissolved.

Place the mixer bowl on the mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.  Whisk on medium until the mixture is frothy, then use a higher speed and whisk until the mixture has cooled to room temperature and stiff peaks have formed. The mixer bowl should be cool to the touch.

Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, one cube at a time.  Continue to beat until the frosting is thick and smooth, more than 5 minutes.  This frosting may look curdled or soupy until it comes together.  Putting the frosting mixture in the fridge for 20 minutes can process. 

When the frosting has come together and is fairly firm, add the strawberry puree and blend until smooth.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and whisk until all ingredients are incorporated.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large decorative top with the frosting.  A star tip works well.  Frost cooled cupcakes as desired, and garnish with fresh berries or slices.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Vanilla Sheet Cake (Cut into Strawberry Cakelets)

This coming Tuesday is the first day of Spring.  I took a dessert to my class that would celebrate this anticipated day, which this year is rainy and cold.  But the winter will soon be gone, making way for warm, sunny days ahead.

Kris’ Vanilla Sheet Cake

Preheat oven to 350^
Use spray oil such as Pam to prepare baking sheet (12 X 18 x 1)
If you want to remove whole cake from pan, butter and flour pan before adding batter, instead of using Pam.


    1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for baking sheet
    3 cups  flour (for my cutout cakes) or use cake flour for a lighter cake
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 1/4 cups sugar
    2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 cup milk, warmed (not hot) in microwave
    4 large room temp eggs, whipped with a fork

(For a white cake, use 8 whites and no yolks..Whip them separately to form stiff peaks with 1/4 cup of the sugar.  Gently fold these whites into the other ingredients at the end, after wet and dry ingredients have been mixed.  This makes a lighter cake that is great with the cake flour.  Cut the vanilla to ½ teaspoon.)

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, using a paddle attachment, beat butter and 2 cups sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy, scraping down sides and bottom of  bowl as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition.

With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until just combined.    

Transfer batter to prepared baking sheet and smooth batter evenly with a spatula.

Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack and let cool 10 minutes. If you want to remove cake from pan, invert cake onto rack, then re-invert and let cool completely.

I double this recipe for my SS class.  Makes 75 one inch 2 layer cakelets with two baking sheets of cake.  And I add an extra egg when doubling the recipe.  (For 1 1layer Strawberry Cakelets used 2 oz souffle cups by Solo from Smart and Final.)

Cream Cheese-Heavy Cream Frosting for Vanilla Cakelets, piped on using large tip for SS class:

In a mixer bowl with a whip attachment:

Whip 16 oz cream cheese, room temp, until smooth and creamy.
Add 1 Cup Sugar, whip again till smooth.
Add 1 Tablespoon Vanilla extract
and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Whip again to combine.

Now, add 2 Cups Cream and whip to stiff peaks. 

I refrigerate this mixture overnight to thoroughly chill and then re-whip to ensure stiff peaks.  These peaks will keep well all day long...through SS class and family dinner, etc.

This mixture can be flavored with a fruit puree or other flavors as long as the puree is not too watery...some fruit purees may need to be reduced...kinda like a jam.

This is a great dessert to make in advance and then assemble quickly.  The cakes can be made and cut out a day ahead and so can the frosting be made a day ahead.

On the day of use, I cut out the cakelets, topped with fruit puree, added another cake layer (or not on above photo), topped that with frosting, and garnished with a piece of fruit (a nut leaf would have been lovely).
I assembled 75 cakelets in 15 minutes.  Got up at 7, re-whipped my frosting, got cleaned up, did my hair, got dressed, and was at Church by 8:10...and during that time I also assembled my dessert.   Not bad for a not-morning person.  This was the favorite dessert I took (others were chocolate and oat cookies).

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Kris' Coconut Mararoons

I'm surprised by how many dessert lovers dislike coconut, and even more surprised by those disliking chocolate.  But among my friends there are many with skewed taste buds.  These are two of my very favorite ingredients and the desserts they grace are some of the world's best.

I've tried many macaroon recipes.  Some incorporate sweetened condensed milk or ingredients that I think detract from a simple, basic recipe that should showcase quality ingredients.

The recipe below is the one that satisfies me best and bakes into the loveliest macaroons.  And, although they do have a goodly amount of sugar, there is no fat, except that naturally in the coconut.

My absolute favorite way to eat these cookies is when they have been dipped into dark chocolate...oh my, what a divine treat!  I could eat an entire batch.


Preheat oven to 350^
Line baking sheets with parchment paper or non-stick mats

1 C     Egg Whites, room temperature   (about 8 large)
½ C     Cake Flour, Sifted
2 C     Sugar
1 tsp.  Salt
2 tsp.  Vanilla
8 C     Shredded Coconut, loosened and with no clumps

Whisk together:
In a large bowl, whisk together Flour, Salt, and Sugar.  Set aside.

In a mixer bowl, whip the Egg Whites until stiff, shiny and peaks form, taking care not to let them get dry.

First combine about 1/4 of the beaten egg whites to the dry ingredients, stir to lighten.  Then fold in remaining egg whites.  (For folding, less is more.)
While folding, add Vanilla & sprinkle Coconut over the top, continuing to fold until incorporated.  (Again, remember that less is more and a few streaks of uncombined batter are OK.)

Using a small ice cream type scoop (1 teaspoon size is great, but slightly larger is OK), drop batter onto lined baking sheets, allowing space for spreading and rising.

Bake about 20 minutes or until golden brown and dry on surface.

Remove baked macaroons from oven and let cool in pans 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and finish cooling on wire racks.

When completely cooled, store in air-tight container.  Will keep 3-4 days, or a week in the fridge.
These cookies freeze well for 2-3 months in air-tight container, separated with parchment or waxed paper.

This recipe will make about 60 macaroons, depending on size.

Fun mix-ins:
Miniature chocolate chips
Finely chopped nuts
Chopped candied cherries and ½ tsp. almond extract

My favorite:
While holding cooled macaroon by one side, dip opposite side in melted chocolate.  Allow dipped cookie–chocolate-- to set up while resting on parchment or waxed paper.


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Honey Turns 2

March 1st, 2012

I love two year old birthday parties.  It is always fun and special to celebrate a 1st birthday, especially to watch the yearlings eat their cake and make their mess, but by the 2nd birthday they have figured out what gifts are, they have cute little friends, and they get so excited over all the decorations, the food, and appreciate all the fun.

Here are a few photos from Honey's 2nd birthday party, which was at her house last Saturday.










Everyone had fun, lots to eat, and loved celebrating with Honey on her special day at her SWEET SHOP!!!