Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Snow Way It's Another Snow Day!

Welcome to another snow day. I would be wholly pissed and utterly embittered if it wasn't for last night's sweet interlude. We hosted a Dessert Night for the PTA. Expecting snow, people turned out to dig in.

I began this baking project with a Buttermilk Pound Cake. You can never go wrong with a sweet, simple, and sturdy pound cake. It holds a special place in the hearts (and palates) of vanilla enthusiasts. With a dollop of fresh whipped cream and a few ripe berries it is a study in simple culinary joy.

It's never a question of whether there'll be chocolate at a dessert party, rather, it's what form/s the chocolate will take? Again I turned to an old standard, my Truffle Tart. I toyed with the possibilities of a couple of interesting chocolate cake recipes, but in the end I went back to Trufullar Tart. With it's oreo crust and dense, dark, rich chocolate filling, it's a reason for chocoholics to assemble and share in the glory of chocolate.

I love making cheesecakes. I feel like I'll never have enough time to try out all the cool variations out there. I was considering trying out a 5 Spice Cheesecake, and then thought about a Pina Colada version made from cream of coconut and carmelized pineapple. In the end I decided to be practical and make my Caffe Latte Cheescake in order to work out some details and add some finishing touches. It was light and fluffy, and was topped with a foamy layer of sweetened whipped sour cream and a sprinkling of cocoa powder. It was very good. My mother would love it, I have to remember to make it for her next time she visits.

I've had a recipe for lemon cream blueberry crumb bars for a while now. Why not? I decided the morning of the dessert gathering. So glad I did. It was buttery, crumbly, juicy sweet, with the slight suggestion of lemon due to the lemon cream layer mixed in with the fresh blueberries. I was left with only 2 measly little bars this morning, which is probably a good thing. Due to all the snow days and bake days , I am getting soft.

I put out a couple experiments last night, which were pretty well recieved. An apple-pear cinnamon nut puff pastry which shows some promise. And then some chocolate toffee nut brittle that was scarfed down by a self avowed toffee fiend.

I lost track of the accumulated snow days some time last week. I was told by someone that all this snow has something to do with global warming, which, seems counter-intuitive to say the least. I wouldn't mind a few days of global warming right now, short sleeves, bare legs, hot sun, cold drinks, out doors.

Blueberry Crumb Bars with Lemon-Cream Filling

1 c. unsalted butter, softened
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. old-fashioned oats
1 1/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 egg, separated
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. fresh blueberries

Place rack in center of the oven and heat to 350F. Line a 9 x 13" baking pan with foil or parchment paper and be sure to leave an overhang on the ends. Grease bottom and sides of foil.
In a large bowl combine flour, oats, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder. With your fingers blend the butter into the flour mixture. Reserve 2 cups of crumb mixture in another bowl. Blend egg white into remaining crumbs and press mixture into the bottom of the pan to form an even crust. Bake crust until it forms a dry top 10-12 minutes.
In medium bowl whisk together the condensed milk, lemon juice, zest, vanilla, and egg yolk. Let stand for 5 minutes to thicken.
Sprinkle blueberries over the hot crust and drop spoonfuls of the lemon cream over blueberries. Spread gently with spatula. Bake until the lemon mixture becomes shiny (8-9 mins). Sprinkle reserved topping over lemon-blueberry layer, making sure to press the streusel between your fingers to make small clumps as you sprinkle. Bake until dilling is bubbling and the crumb layer is golden brown (30 minutes). Remove from oven, let cool and cut into squares.

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