Wednesday, May 29, 2013

"fat gives things flavor"


I found myself with a lot of extra heavy cream after making the tres leches cake this past weekend.  What to do?  Turns out the Back in the Day Bakery's Cookbook has the perfect solution.  How about Lemon Pie Bars?

Yield: one 13 x 9 pan 

For the crust
3 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 24 crackers)
12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbsp sugar

For the filling
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 cup fresh lemon juice
Two 14 oz cans sweetened condensed milk
6 large egg yolks
Fresh Whipped Cream (optional)

Position a rack in the middle of  the oven and preheat the oven  to 350° F.  Grease a 9 X 13 inch baking pan and line with parchment, allowing the ends of the paper to hand over two opposite edges of the pan.
To make the crust:  In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, butter,  and sugar and blend with a fork until the crumbs are evenly moistened.  Press the graham cracker mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Use a piece of parchment to press on the crust with the palm  of your hands to make sure it is completely level.

Bake the crust for about 8 minutes, until lightly golden.  Let cool completely before adding the filling. Turn the oven temperature down to 325° F.

To make the filling:  In a large bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, sweetened condensed milk,  and egg yolks.  Pour the filling over the cooled crust.

Place the baking pan  inside a larger baking pan and pour enough hot water into the larger pan to come halfway up the sides of the smaller pan.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the filling is puffed at the edges and no longer jiggles in the center when the pan is tapped.  Remove the pan from the water bath and set it on a rack to cool for 1 hour, then refrigerate until cold.

Cut the bars into squares and serve chilled, with the whipped cream.  The bars will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

To make fresh whipped cream: 
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the cream on medium until it starts to thicken.  Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until the cream holds nice soft peaks.

You're welcome.
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Somehow recent beach conversation landed on a well-worn 30 year old cookbook I once had.  It was a spiral bound Chinese cookbook . . . and I learned so much from that ratty thing.  The first time I attempted egg rolls was because that cookbook showed me I could.  And then fried rice - and gow gees - and Chinese BBQ pork.  For all I know that thing exists in a box in my garage . . . one of those boxes from that time I packed up my life to move to a new house, but didn't.  When I arrived home (the ride home from the beach always makes me cry) I was on a quest to find that book on the internet.  Less than $5 later, it's in the mail.  I'm excited.
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The kitchen is my place to create.  If I go too long without seeing something wonderful come out of my oven I get antsy.  So a few nights ago I dragged out all that fancy Sharffen berger chocolate I bought at Bristol Farms, my chopped up Heath bars, some milk chocolate and a pound of butter and made the cookies I like to see in my cookie jar.  It's a satisfying hobby with a terrific rapid rewards program.  Highly recommend.
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Another thing I highly recommend?  Sprinkles Ice Cream.  You read that right.  Cap'n Crunch, Coffee Fudge Almond, Red Velvet, Rocky Road (made with their homemade marshmallow) . . . worth waiting in a very long line - you're going to have to trust.  Salty caramel was good, too.  If you aren't interested in the trek to Newport Beach (how can we be friends?) wait until December and come to Las Vegas.  There will be cupcakes, ice cream and . . . wait for it . . . a cupcake ATM.  I couldn't make this up. 
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I have a new mattress.  I have an old back that needed help, help the board between that inexpensive mattress and box spring couldn't give.  So it was time to bite the bullet.  It was painful to make that purchase.  And why?  I cannot explain it because it makes no sense, but it felt like an expensive car repair, one you just really resent.  It hasn't fixed the problem.
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