Key Lime Pie

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“Pie makes everybody happy”

Squeezing the last bits of summer out with this key lime pie – kinda literally. The only key limes I could find were so tiny I had to squeeze a ton of them to get my key lime juice! But it was totally worth it! This pie is perfect part tart and sweet – you won’t regret making it this weekend!

Crust

2.5 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 350F. Chop graham crackers in food processor until you get smooth crumbs. Add the brown sugar and continue to process for about 30 seconds, or until the mixture is smooth. Pour this mix into a large bowl and add melted butter and mix. Use a spoon to press this crust into a 9-9.5 inch pie pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Meanwhile, make filling.

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Key Lime Filling

8-10 key limes (depending on size)

1/3 cup Key lime juice

3 large egg yolks

14 oz sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350F. Zest limes in one bowl, and then squeeze zested limes to collect juice in a separate bowl. Set aside. Beat egg yolks in your stand mixer until the yolks become thickened and pale. Mix zest in, then add in the condensed milk and beat for a couple minutes. Now mix in the juice for another minute.

Pour filling into the cooled crust. Bake pie for about 15 minutes –  do not let the top brown! Let cool completely to room temperature before topping with meringue and little lime slices.

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Meringue topping

3 egg whites

3/4 cup granulated sugar

¼ tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp vanilla extract

Place a large metal bowl over a saucepan of just boiling water. In the bowl, add the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Transfer this to your stand mixer and beat with whisk attachment to firm peaks. Add vanilla and beat to stiff peaks. Pipe the meringue onto your cooled pie. Next use a kitchen torch to brown the tips a bit. Make sure to always hold the torch at a safe distance and turn it off when you’re all done. (Follow the directions that come with your torch.) Top your finished pie with some zest.

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Mini Pavlovas with Blackberry Sauce

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“Too much of a good thing is wonderful” …. hmmm… like dessert!

Yay for easy summer desserts! And these are naturally gluten free! These desserts are great because you can make most of it a day ahead – so they are perfect for your summer soirées – when you have too much to prepare and not enough time.

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Mini Pavlovas

4 egg whites

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp vanilla extract

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Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 225F.

For the next part you can use a double boiler or a large metal bowl over a saucepan of just boiling water. In the bowl, add the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar and whisk until the sugar dissolves.

Next transfer this to your stand mixer and beat with whisk attachment until frothy. Add vanilla. Beat to stiff peaks. Use a large round tip to pipe out a tiny bit of the meringue under each corner of the parchment paper to keep it form moving while you pipe the pavlovas. Pipe out the meringue in 6 circles on each baking sheet, leaving space in between them. It’s ok if your circles aren’t perfectly neat. Alternatively, if you like the more rustic look (as I did in this case), use large spoons to dollop out semi-round pavlovas. Use the back of one spoon to create a nest at the top of each pavlova – where you will place your filling.

Bake for about 1 hour – or until pavlovas are dry to your touch. (Do not open the oven until the hour is up).Once they are done, turn off the oven and leave the oven door slightly open for at least 2 hours, up to overnight.

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Whipped cream topping

 1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tbsp. sugar (optional)

1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat heavy cream in your stand mixer with whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add vanilla. You can also add sugar if you prefer a sweeter cream. Beat until stiff peaks form.

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Blackberry sauce

2 boxes of fresh blackberries

1/2 cup sugar

1/8 cup water

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Lower to simmer and allow to cook for another 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and strain the sauce. Let cool. Save some of the whole cooked blackberries to add to your pavlovas as well.

Assembly

Pavlovas

whipped cream

blackberry sauce

fresh berries

mint leaves (optional)

Chopped pistachios (optional)

Lemon zest (optional)

Remove Pavlovas from parchment paper and place on plates you would like to serve them on. Fill nests with dollops of the whipped cream. Add some of the cooked blackberries and fresh berries on top of the cream, as well as pistachios. Pour on the blackberry sauce. Top with mint leaves and lemon zest. Ready to serve!

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Brûléed Oranges and Ricotta Tart

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“Orange is the happiest color”

Happy January everyone! This tart is super easy to make and sooo tasty.

The Crust

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup melted butter

Chop graham crackers in food processor until you get smooth crumbs. Add the brown sugar and continue to process for about 30 seconds, or until the mixture is smooth. Pour this mix into a large bowl and add melted butter and mix. Use a spoon to press these into the tart pan (with removable bottom – makes everything that much easier).

Bake this crust in a preheated 350F oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

The Filling

1 cup ricotta

1/4 cup sugar

1 egg

juice of 1 orange

zest of 1 orange

Combine all of the filling ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer and mix until smooth. Pour into the cooled tart shell – leave some space at the top because the filling rises a bit. Place in the 350F oven for about 30 minutes – make sure it does not brown too much. Remove from oven and let cool.

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Topping

2-3 oranges, depending on size

2 egg whites

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/8 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Extra sugar

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar and use the whisk attachment to whisk to firm peaks. Add vanilla and beat to stiff peaks.

Meanwhile, cut the oranges into thin round slices, and cut off the peel. I chose to leave some of the pith on. I used to always try to remove as much pith as I could, until I found out that A LOT of the vitamins and nutritional benefits can be found in the pith rather than in the flesh of the orange itself. There is as much if not more Vitamin C in the pith, it has also been found to have high amounts of fiber, helps the digestive tract, and can help lower cholesterol, among other things. And also, don’t even worry about the bitter taste of pith here, because you’re going to brûlée it anyway, so it will be sweet.

Place the orange slices on top of the baked and cooled tart. Dust the oranges with sugar and use your kitchen torch to safely brûlée the oranges.

Pipe or dollop the meringue onto your cooled tart in whatever fashion you prefer. Use your kitchen torch to brown the meringue a bit too. Now refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour and then enjoy!

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Carrot Cake Cupcakes (dairy free)

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“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the Fall”

It’s Fall! It’s Fall! And I have some great Fall recipes coming your way! This one doesn’t have any pumpkins or apples, but it does have the fall spice flavors, and carrots – and those are orange and good for you – so they basically count 🙂 This one’s also dairy free, because everyone should be able to enjoy a cupcake, even if you can’t have dairy!

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Carrot Cake Cupcakes

3 large carrots, grated

1 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla

4 large eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 cups flour

pinch of salt

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp cloves

Pulse carrots in blender. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 48 mini cupcake liners in cupcake pans.

Mix oil, sugar, vanilla, and eggs in stand mixer. In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients and mix well.

Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients, mixing well. Then add carrots and mix until combined. Fill cupcakes liners about 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting.

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Toasted Marshmallow Frosting

4 egg whites

1 cup granulated sugar

¼ tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp vanilla extract

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I know everyone is used to cream cheese frosting with carrot cake, but trust me – this is an awesome flavor pairing too! Try it and you’ll see for yourself!

Place a large metal bowl over a saucepan of just boiling water – not touching the water. (I just used my metal stand mixer bowl so I wouldn’t have to transfer the mixture). In the bowl, add the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar and whisk until the sugar dissolves about 4-6 minutes. Transfer this to your stand mixer (or it’s already in your stand mixer 😉 ) and beat with whisk attachment to firm peaks. Add vanilla and beat to stiff peaks. Pipe onto room temperature cupcakes using a large round tip.

To get those nice dollops you’ll want to firmly squeeze the piping bag until you get a spherical marshmallow, then pull up, stop squeezing as you release the bag to get that cute little tip. For the toasting, use a hand- held kitchen torch (great investment!). I toasted just one side (Be sure not to hold the torch too long or too close in one spot at a time, and keep it away from the liners.), and added a few orange sprinkles to the other side as a little homage to the carrots! Mmm, should smell like fall in your kitchen by now!

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Strawberry Meringue Cake

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“Where there is cake, there is hope. And there is always cake.”

Yes! And this Strawberry Meringue Cake is the perfect addition to any summer soiree. Also, strawberry curd. It’s in this cake, but it should also be on top of your bagels, in your pastries, and just on a spoon headed into your mouth – because it is sooo tasty! Try not to eat all of it before you finish making the cake 😉

Strawberry Cake

10 large strawberries, pureed in blender, put through strainer

2 sticks (1 cup) butter

2 cups sugar

1 package strawberry gelatin

3 cups flour

pinch of salt

2 tsp baking powder

4 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla (clear)

Pre-heat oven to 350F. Prepare cake pans with non-stick spray. Combine flour, salt, and baking powder in large bowl and set aside.

Beat butter in stand mixer until fluffy. Add sugar and strawberry gelatin to combine. In a separate bowl mix together milk, buttermilk, vanilla, strawberry puree, and eggs. Add this mixture to the stand mixer and combine. In 3 parts add in the dry ingredients from separate bowl. Mix well.

Place batter into cake pans and bake for about 30 minutes. Check if it is done with a toothpick in the center of the cake that comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature.

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Blackberry Cream Cheese frosting

1 box pureed and strained blackberries

1/2 cup butter

8 oz cream cheese

1 tsp clear vanilla extract

4.5 cups powdered sugar

After pureeing the blackberries in the food processor, strain the puree so you don’t have any seeds. Beat butter and cream cheese together in stand mixer. Add powdered sugar in 1/2 cups and mix. Add Blackberry puree 1 tbsp at a time until desired color and consistency. (Remember you don’t want it too liquid-y because you will be piping the cream cheese frosting)

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Strawberry Curd

1 box strawberries, pureed in blender and strained

½ cup sugar

1 tbsp corn starch

3 eggs yolks

Juice of 1 lemon

½ cup butter, cut into cubes

Add first 5 ingredients to a saucepan over medium heat and whisk until thickened. Turn off the stove and add butter 1 cube at a time to further thicken. Continue mixing until melted. Let cool to room temperature and then cover with plastic wrap (so that the plastic wrap touches the curd), and place in refrigerator for 1-4 hours. The more time, the thicker it will get – but if you’re in a rush like I was, and making this a couple hours before you are supposed to bring it to a party (oops!) – 1 hour will do!

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Meringue frosting

4 egg whites

1 cup granulated sugar

¼ tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp vanilla extract (clear)

Place a large metal bowl over a saucepan of just boiling water. In the bowl, add the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Transfer this to your stand mixer and beat with whisk attachment to firm peaks. Add vanilla and beat to stiff peaks.

Assembly

On your first layer of cake, spread a thin amount of blackberry cream cheese frosting, layer this with fresh strawberries that have been thinly sliced. Next, pipe a thick circle of the frosting around the top of the cake in a circle to create a border for the strawberry curd. Now using a spoon, fill the center of the cake with desired amount of curd. Place next cake layer on top and repeat the process one more time. Place last cake layer on top. Next crumb coat the cake with the meringue in a thin layer (it spreads very smoothly). Place this in the fridge for 15 minutes. Remove from the fridge and using a closed star tip, pipe roses around the cake (starting at the bottom), with the meringue. Once you’ve completed piping the roses, use your kitchen torch to toast the meringue. This helps stabilize the frosting as well. Place in fridge for at least 30 minutes, and then enjoy!

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Individual Key Lime Tarts

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“Keep calm…it’s almost summer.”

Yes! What kind of desserts make you think of summer? I’ll tell ya one of mine is definitely Key Lime Pie. So Key Lime Pie originates from none other than Key West, Florida. It’s a bit embarrassing but I had never actually tried the pie until I went to Key West and ordered it…and let me tell you, though nothing compares to the original, this recipe comes preeeetty close! It got rave reviews from family and friends – so I hope you like it!

Since I like to make mini things, and hadn’t used my tart pans for a long time, I decided it was time to break those babies out and put ’em to work! This recipe makes 6 individual sized Key Lime tarts. I topped these with meringue – Key Lime pie can also be topped with whipped cream, but since the recipe for the filling calls for egg yolks, I prefer to use the whites for the topping so as not to be wasteful 🙂

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Crust

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup melted butter

Chop graham crackers in food processor until you get smooth crumbs. Add the brown sugar and continue to process for about 30 seconds, or until the mixture is smooth. Pour this mix into a large bowl and add melted butter and mix. Use a spoon to press these into the tart pans (with removable bottoms – makes everything that much easier).

Bake this crust in a preheated 350F oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

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Key Lime Filling

1 tbsp. Key lime zest

1/2 cup Key lime juice

3 large egg yolks

14 oz sweetened condensed milk

Zest limes and then squeeze zested limes to collect juice into a separate bowl. This will take anywhere from 6-12 limes depending on the size of your Key Limes. Set aside. Beat egg yolks in your stand mixer until the yolks become thickened and pale. Mix zest in, then add in the condensed milk and beat for a couple minutes. Now mix in the juice for another minute.

Pour filling into the crusts that have been cooling. Bake tarts in preheated 350F oven again, for 12-15 minutes – but do not let the tops brown! Turn off oven and remove tarts. Let cool completely to room temperature and remove from tart pans before topping with meringue.

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Meringue topping

3 egg whites

3/4 cup granulated sugar

¼ tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp vanilla extract

Place a large metal bowl over a saucepan of just boiling water. In the bowl, add the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Transfer this to your stand mixer and beat with whisk attachment to firm peaks. Add vanilla and beat to stiff peaks. Pipe the meringue onto your cooled Key Lime tarts in whatever fashion you prefer. I used the closed star tip and did three different styles. I did the rose design (pipe from inside out), a cupcake style swirl (from outside in), and little star dollops (squeeze piping  bag at 90 degrees to get a star shape, then stop squeezing, and quickly release and lift). Then use a kitchen torch to brown the tips a bit. Make sure to always hold the torch at a safe distance and turn it off when you’re all done. (Follow the directions that come with your torch.) Top your finished tarts with some lime zest and dig in!

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Rose Swirl Meringues

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“Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet, and so are you!”

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More like so are these cute little meringues! So there are 3 types of meringue – French, Swiss, and Italian. These are based on the Swiss kind, because the egg whites are heated over a double boiler. Anywho, I definitely recommend making these because they’re easy to make, Fat Free (!), can be eaten as a cookie on their own, or used to decorate cookies and cupcakes. They’re perfect for any old day, or a special day, like a bridal shower, wedding, or anything pretty!

Meringues

(makes 1 dozen 2 inch rose meringues)

2 egg whites

½ cup granulated sugar

¼  tsp cream of tartar

½ tsp vanilla extract

Pastel pink gel food coloring

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Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 175-200F.

For the next part you can use a double boiler – I don’t have one so I use a large metal bowl over a saucepan of just boiling water. In the bowl, add the two egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar until the sugar dissolves.

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Transfer this to your stand mixer and beat with whisk attachment until frothy. Add vanilla. Beat to stiff peaks. Divide meringue in two parts, and add a drop of pastel pink food coloring to half the meringue. Mix just until combined into a smooth color. Place meringue in piping bags with Wilton 2D tips and pipe swirly roses about 2 inches in width, and 1 inch apart. The meringues won’t change in size or shape so the way you pipe it is the way you get it!

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Bake for 1.5 hours – do not open the oven door! After this time, turn off the oven and prop open the oven door. Let cool for about 2 hours, up to overnight.

Meringues can be stored in an airtight container if you don’t finish them right away!

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