My Favorite Lemon Bars

My Favorite Lemon Bars

I grew up in a family which took their baked goods pretty seriously. Maybe it’s a Midwestern thing. At every family picnic (or “cook-out”, as we called them) there would be an array of pies, bars, and other confections, to follow up the standard burgers, salads, slow cooked baked beans, and so on. Lemon bars seemed to be one of the most treasured treats, yet one of those which seemed very difficult to get just right. I always loved one of my aunt’s lemon bars. Whenever they made an appearance at a picnic, I made sure to have one (or two, maybe more–my memory is foggy). They were like pure delicious sunshine, to me.

As an adult, when I started baking, naturally, I wanted to try my hand at the elusive lemon bars. I tried a few different recipes. I tested a few I found online and in magazines. I even used my aunt’s recipe. None of them brought about the kind of perfection I was seeking. Maybe I’m too much of a perfectionist, but I think there are worse pursuits than creating the perfect lemon bar.

My Favorite Lemon Bars

Here are my criteria for the perfect lemon bar: The crust has to be thick enough to hold the filling and not crumble in your hand, while you hold it up to your mouth, yet soft enough to be tender when you bite into it. The filling should have a lovely balance between sweet and tart. The powdered sugar on top should be like fresh snow, gently dusted on, to allow you to just barely see the underlying bright, lemony surface.

After trying several recipes, I was lucky enough to be given a friend’s mom’s recipe, which turned out to be just what I had been searching for. I have made these lemon bars a number of times, and they are always incredibly delicious. I have simply added more detailed instructions to the recipe, based on my own way of doing things. Otherwise, the recipe is the same.

My Favorite Lemon Bars

I just made a batch for a play group party, and I knew I had to share the recipe with you. If you’re wary of recipes which claim to be the BEST EVER, let me tell you, I’m right there with you. If I see one of those, I will probably pass it by, simply because of its audacity. That is why I didn’t call this recipe the best. I called it my favorite. But, seriously, to me, it really is the best. I hope you will enjoy it, too.

 

My Favorite Lemon Bars

This is my very favorite recipe for lemon bars. Each bar is like a delicious ray of sunshine in your mouth. They are always a hit at backyard barbecues and parties.

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 1 cup/ 2 sticks/ 225grams unsalted butter, softened and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar/ soft icing mixture
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

Filling:

  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 Tbsp grated lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)
  • 5 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Powdered sugar/ soft icing mixture, for dusting on top

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F/ 180C degrees. Spray oil in a 9×13 inch Pyrex pan.

Make the crust: Using 2 forks or a pastry cutter, in a large bowl, blend butter, salt, 1/2 cup powdered sugar/ soft icing mixture, and 2 cups sifted flour, to make a soft dough. Press dough evenly into oiled Pyrex dish, using the back of a metal spoon to flatten. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until crust is lightly golden.

Make the filling: In a large glass or ceramic mixing bowl, combine eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, and 1/4 cup sifted flour and blend with a metal whisk until smooth. Pour over baked crust.

Reduce oven temp to 325F/ 160C degrees. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the center is firm and the edges are lightly golden.

Cool on wire rack, covered with a clean tea towel.

Dust with sifted powdered sugar/ soft icing mixture. Slice into bars when cooled completely.

Store in refrigerator. Consume within 3 days.

This recipe was created by Kim Sequoia for a delicious moment.

All written content and photos are copyright Kimberly Sequoia 2017 for a delicious moment.

If you would like to use this recipe on your own site, please re-write it in your own words and link back to my original post.

 

 

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Flourless Chocolate Cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake

I have been making this flourless chocolate cake for a several years, for special occasions and dinner parties, especially those which include guests who are gluten intolerant. This decadent cake is a chocolate lovers dream come true! (That’s me! Give me the chocolate.) It has a very rich, fudgy texture, which is absolutely to-die-for. Dark chocolate ensures that this cake is not overly sweet. It’s kind of like a giant fudgy brownie, but with a creamier crumb, if that makes sense.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Not only is this cake incredibly delicious and impressive, it is very easy to make. You simply mix everything in your food processor. What is truly amazing to behold, when preparing this cake, is the way the hot coffee melts the chocolate. It’s like magic! This cake could not be easier to make. The prep time is minimal. The baking time will depend on your oven a bit. Then, the cake must cool in the refrigerator for at least three hours. In fact, I think this cake is best after having been refrigerated overnight. Factor the refrigeration time in, when you plan to make this cake. I like to make this cake the day before I plan to serve it. Then I allow the cake to come up to room temperature before serving it, which usually takes about 10-20 minutes, depending on the room temp, of course.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

This cake would be lovely served with a few fresh berries, a little cream, or maybe a peanut butter sauce. Of course, you can just serve it all by itself, because it is heavenly.

Enjoy!

Flourless Chocolate Cake

This decadent flourless chocolate cake is sure to please chocolate lovers. It’s very easy to make, using a food processor to mix everything, and it's gluten-free. This is an impressive cake for a special occasion.

This recipe was adapted from Gluten-Free Goddess.

Ingredients

  • 500g/ 16 oz. 70% dark chocolate (Use your favourite dark chocolate bars. I prefer Lindt or Cadbury Old Gold. DO NOT use compound chocolate! It will clump up into a ball in the food processor.)
  • 1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup very hot strong coffee (or use an espresso shot mixed into boiling water)
  • 225g/ 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 8 large free-range eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon organic vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/ 170ºC fan-forced/ 350ºF. Prepare a 10-cup springform pan by lining the bottom with parchment/ baking paper and spraying with oil.
  2. To prevent the edges of the cake from browning too much while the center is still wet, wrap the outside of the whole pan with a big piece of foil, with an inch or so overhanging around the top edge. Note: Using a smaller cake pan will result in a longer baking time. Adjust baking time accordingly and keep an eye on the edges. Place the springform pan onto a slightly larger baking tray or pizza pan, to prevent batter from dripping down into the oven.
  3. Break up the dark chocolate into pieces and place the chocolate into the bowl of the food processor. Pulse until the chocolate breaks up into small bits. Add the sugar. Pulse until the chocolate and sugar turns into an even, sandy grain.
  4. Pour the hot coffee slowly into the feed tube while running the processor on low speed. Process until the chocolate is completely melted.
  5. Add the butter pieces and the cocoa powder, and pulse to combine. Add the eggs and vanilla, and process until smooth. The batter will be a creamy liquid.
  6. Pour the batter into the lined springform pan. Bake at 180C/ 170 º C fan-forced/ 350º F in the centre of the oven, until it is puffed and cracked on top. (Bake about 55 to 65 minutes. Note – it may take an hour plus 15 minutes to bake this cake at high altitude.) Use a wooden toothpick to check the center of the cake; pick should emerge clean, with maybe a crumb.
  7. Place the cake pan on a wire rack to cool, covered loosely with a clean tea towel. The cake will deflate. This might not be a pretty cake, but it is insanely delicious. So, don’t worry too much about the crackly top.
  8. When the cake is completely cooled, remove from the pan, cover, and chill it for at least three hours (up to eight hours), until serving. Overnight is best.
  9. Before serving, let the cake sit out at room temperature for about 10-15 minutes (or 5 minutes, on a hot day). Sprinkle a little sifted powdered sugar/ soft icing mixture over the top of the cake, to make it look pretty, if you prefer.
  10. Slice cake into thin slices, because this cake is very rich. Serve with fresh berries and/ or a bit of double cream, if you like. A peanut butter sauce would probably be fabulous, as well. Keep cake refrigerated, and consume within 3 days.

This recipe was created by Kim Sequoia for a delicious moment.

All written content and photos are copyright Kimberly Sequoia 2017 for a delicious moment.

If you would like to use this recipe on your own site, please re-write it in your own words and link back to my original post.

 

Lemon Lavender Pound Cake

Lemon Lavender Pound Cake

 

One of my favourite flavours to bake with is lemon. Give me just about any lemon dessert, and I will be very happy. I have been baking lemon pound cakes for years. It has a permanent place on my list of favourite cake recipes. Last summer, I was feeling curious about baking something with lavender in it. I love lavender. It has such a lovely, light, floral scent. When I started to look for recipes using lavender, I kept seeing recipes combining lemon and lavender. Obviously, I thought of my favourite lemon pound cake.

Lemon Lavender Pound Cake

The following weekend, I convinced my partner to go on a family excursion to a nearby lavender farm, where I knew I could pick up some culinary lavender. We are lucky enough to live in a gorgeous, warm climate, here in South Australia. In the beautiful Barossa Valley, a place known for producing some of the best wines in the world, there happens to be a little lavender farm. So, off we went to the Lyndoch Lavender Farm. It was such a lovely place. I really enjoyed wandering through the rows of lavender and gazing out upon the views of vineyards and hills beyond. There was a cafe and shop at the farm, where I found what I was looking for. Culinary lavender is what you need to bake or cook with, because it is organic. Actually, you can use lavender tea, as I did. It is simply dried and crushed lavender flowers.

Lyndoch Lavender Farm

Lemon Lavender Pound Cake

Lyndoch Lavender Farm

Now let’s talk about the cake… I tried a recipe for lemon lavender pound cake, last summer, but I decided that I was more fond of my trusty glazed lemon pound cake recipe from Martha Stewart. Comparing the two recipes, I realized that the main difference, other than lavender, was that the former recipe uses Greek yogurt while the latter uses buttermilk. Last weekend, I tried the first recipe, replacing yogurt with buttermilk, and I was very happy with the results. I also wanted to intensify the lemon flavour a little, with more lemon zest, because I absolutely love lemon. Feel free to adjust the lemon zest to your taste. I must caution you not to add any more lavender to the recipe, though. A little goes a long way when baking with lavender. One more change I made to the recipe was to use lemon juice instead of milk for the glaze, and not use vanilla, to give the cake more lemon flavour.

Lemon Lavender Pound Cake

This lemon lavender pound cake turned out to be wonderful. It’s full of refreshing lemon flavour and a pleasantly floral-herbal lavender taste. I really like the zesty lemon glaze on top. It is the perfect finishing touch. The crumb of the cake is soft and moist. It’s just delightful. I hope you will enjoy this cake as much as I do.

Lemon Lavender Pound Cake

 

Here’s the recipe…

Lemon Lavender Pound Cake

The fresh lemon flavour pairs so beautifully with the floral lavender taste in this delicious pound cake. It's simply delightful.

This recipe was adapted from Bake Your Day and Martha Stewart.

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda/ bicarb soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup/ 115g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest (from 2-3 large lemons)
  • 1 Tbsp. culinary lavender

For the glaze:

  • 2/3-1 cup powdered sugar/ soft icing mixture
  • 1-2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • A little lavender for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325F/ 160C. Grease a standard 9×5” loaf pan. Then line pan with baking paper, with the long sides overhanging, for easy removal of cake.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream the butter. Gradually add the sugar, creaming until fluffy. On a lower speed, add the eggs, one at a time, mixing each completely before adding the next. Mix until blended well.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter mixture, alternating with the buttermilk. Mix until just incorporated. On a low speed, mix in the lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract, until blended. Mix in the lavender on low speed.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the edges begin to brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before transferring cake to the rack.
  6. To make the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice until you reach a thick yet pourable consistency (a Pyrex measuring cup works well). Pour evenly over cooled cake. Sprinkle a little lavender on top of the cake (if using), while the glaze is still wet.
  7. Wait for glaze to set up before serving cake. Slice cake into thick pieces. Enjoy!

This recipe was created by Kim Sequoia for a delicious moment.

All written content and photos are copyright Kimberly Sequoia 2017 for a delicious moment.

If you would like to use this recipe on your own site, please re-write it in your own words and link back to my original post.

 

Lemon Lavender Pound Cake

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Blondies

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Blondies

Sometimes I just want a simple oatmeal cookie. This time, I wanted something more. So, I baked a batch of oatmeal blondies (or oat “slice”, for those of us in Australia). Of course, I couldn’t stop there. I had to add chocolate chips.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Blondies

This is such a simple, delicious treat. Each slice is like a thick, soft, chewy oatmeal cookie. These blondies are so good and so easy to make. You may already have the ingredients in your kitchen. Made with little more than butter, brown sugar, and oats, these blondies can be whipped up in about an hour. I will definitely be making these many more times! My family loved them.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Blondies

They would be really good with dried apple pieces, or any dried fruit you like. Nuts would be a welcome addition, too. Feel free to put whatever you like in these oatmeal blondies. I’m sure they would be equally good.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Blondies

Enjoy the recipe…

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Blondies

These easy blondies are like thick, soft, chewy oatmeal cookies, full of sweet chocolate chips. Feel free to swap some or all of the chocolate chips for dried fruit and/ or nuts, if you like. They're so good!

This recipe was adapted from My Lovely Little Lunch Box.

Ingredients

  • 125 grams/ 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/3 cup plain flour
  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup quick oats
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips (or dried fruit, like apple, and/or nuts)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/ 350°F.
  2. Spray oil a square 8 x 8” or equivalent pan. Then line the pan with baking paper, allowing extra paper to overhang on two sides, for easy removal.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, mix melted butter with brown sugar by whisking until smooth. Whisk in egg and vanilla. Gently stir in flour until combined. Then fold in oats and chocolate chips.
  4. Pour oat mixture into prepared pan. Spread evenly and flatten the mixture with a spatula, pushing the batter into the corners.
  5. Bake blondies for 20-25 minutes or until golden around the edges and just set in the middle. Do not overbake, or the top will get too crunchy.
  6. Leave blondies in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes, then carefully lift them out in the baking paper. Cool blondies on wire rack before cutting into squares. Enjoy!
  7. Store blondies in a tightly-lidded container. They should stay fresh for about 5 days.

This recipe was created by Kim Sequoia for a delicious moment.

All written content and photos are copyright Kimberly Sequoia 2017 for a delicious moment.

If you would like to use this recipe on your own site, please re-write it in your own words and link back to my original post.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cupcakes

With the 4th of July coming up, I just had to make these red velvet cheesecake cupcakes, and top them with some red and blue sprinkles. I still celebrate Independence Day, even though I’m a resident here in Australia. I really enjoy teaching my son about American holidays and celebrating them with our own family traditions.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cupcakes

One of my favourite things to do for most holidays is baking (of course). I love to make a special treat for the 4th of July. These red velvet cheesecake cupcakes are perfect for a red, white, and blue treat. They would also be wonderful on Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Australia Day, or any other occasion when you want something red (or you simply want cupcakes).

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cupcakes

The creamy cheesecake filling adds another level of goodness to the already delicious cakes. The cream cheese frosting adds even more sweet, creamy goodness. I lightened up the original recipe by using half the amount of oil. I also used Greek yogurt instead of buttermilk. These cupcakes are so moist and delicious. They are definitely a crowd-pleaser. I hope you will enjoy this recipe as much as I do!

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cupcakes

Enjoy the recipe…

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cupcakes

  • Servings: 24 cupcakes
  • Print

These rich red velvet cupcakes are made even more delicous with a sweet, creamy cheesecake filling inside. They make a wonderful treat for your holiday gatherings, or any time you want cupcakes!

This recipe was adapted from Crazy for Crust.

Ingredients

CUPCAKES:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon red food coloring

CHEESECAKE:

  • 8 oz/ 225g cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sour cream (not low fat)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

FROSTING:

  • 8 oz/ 225g cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar/ soft icing mixture
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

OPTIONAL:

  • Sprinkles of your choice, such as red and blue ones for the 4th of July

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F/ 180°C. Line cupcake pans with liners. (I like the look of plain white paper liners, because they allow the red cake color to show through.)

2. Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer). Sift cocoa powder into flour mixture (to prevent lumps). Whisk until thoroughly combined.

3. Add eggs, oil, Greek yogurt, white vinegar, and vanilla to a large measuring cup or bowl and whisk until combined. Add to dry ingredients, a little at a time, beating with your stand or hand mixer until smooth.

4. Turn mixer down to a LOW speed. Add red food coloring and mix slowly until thoroughly combined. (The mixer speed needs to be low so you won’t splatter red batter everywhere.)

5. Place about 2-3 tablespoons of batter into the bottom of each cupcake liner about 1/2 full. Do NOT overfill! It is important to leave enough room for the cheesecake mixture to be dolloped on top.

6. To make the cheesecake mixture: Using the whisk attachment for your mixer, mix cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and sour cream until smooth. Drop about 1 1/2 tablespoons of cheesecake mixture on top of each cupcake. Smooth it down with the back of a small spoon. Keep it from touching the edges, if you can, because the cupcakes look nicer that way.

7. Bake cupcakes for about 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick stuck in the cake part comes out clean. The cream cheese filling will still be a little soft, but it should be set up, not raw and creamy. Cool cupcakes to room temperature on a cooling rack, then chill for at least 2 hours before frosting. (Note: the cupcakes can be frozen once cooled, and then frosted later.)

8. To make the frosting: Using the whisk attachment on your mixer, cream butter and cream cheese until blended well and fluffy. Sift the powdered sugar/ icing mixture into a large bowl. Switch to the paddle attachment on your mixer. Turning the mixer to a low speed, slowly add in powdered sugar/ icing mixture. Add salt and vanilla. Mix gently until smooth.

9. Frost the top of each cupcake generously. For a decorative effect, use a star-shaped tip with a pastry bag. Top with sprinkles, if you like.

10. Store cupcakes in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

All written content and photos are copyright Kimberly Sequoia 2017 for a delicious moment.

If you would like to use this recipe on your own site, please re-write it in your own words and link back to my original post.