Saturday, June 25, 2011

Fat Free Lemon Glazed Cupcakes

I've been back on the East Coast for just over a week now, and I'm just starting to feel like I'm on vacation. Since I've been hanging out on the left coast for the past three years, its been entirely too long since I've had the chance to see many of my good friends back East. I remedied that malady by taking a whirlwind East Coast World Tour, covering 1300 miles and 7 states in 5 days. It was exhausting, exhilarating, amazing, fun and such a blast. One of the stops along the way was back in my old stomping grounds of Fredericksburg, VA.

Lately it seems that the creative juices often flow whenever the heck they want, with little regard for convenience or time restrictions. This was the case in Virginia, when I had the chance to hang out and bake with the wonderful Bonnie of Bonz Blogz. I have to thank Bonnie for being such a prepared host, with a fully stocked, and may I add impeccably organized pantry, a culinary game plan, and a keen ability to wrangle my travel induced ADD brain into some form of focus. Recipe in hand, off we went bravely into the land of flour and eggs.

Fat Free Glazed Lemon Cupcakes
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup applesauce
1/3 cup egg whites
1/3 cup skim milk
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tsp lemon extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1 cup confectioners sugar
3 Tbsp lemonade
few drops yellow food coloring (optional)

Preheat oven to 350° and line cupcake pan with liners. Combine first seven cake ingredients in medium bowl. Combine remaining four cake ingredients in smaller bowl and slowly mix into first bowl until smooth.

Pour batter into cupcake cups until about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Meanwhile, combine glaze ingredients in a small bowl.

Allow cupcakes to cool completely. Glaze by turning each cupcake upside down and dipping top in glaze. Allow excess to drip off, flip back over and allow glaze to set.

The jury was split on these little guys. My initial impression was that they were more than faintly reminiscent of a Halls Lemon coughdrop, which was a hair off from my anticipated and desired flavor profile. I never want anyone to prejudge a recipe, but in the spirit of creativity, this one might use a good tweaking.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Walnut Brown Sugar Shortbread Bars

Annnnd we're back.

Being off the radar for so long from the blogging world, it's hard to approach the proper tone upon returning. Will anyone still want to read this? Have I been unfollowed by the world? Is this thing on? *tap tap* Are those... crickets?

For whatever the reason, the spirit has not moved my gustatory gray matter in a blue moon. It's not like I haven't tried, mind you. My appetite for Food Network shows remains voracious. I consume daily helpings of food blogs, and I'm certainly meeting the RDA of recipes and food photography. My consumption remains the same, but my execution and production just ain't what it used to be.

In a grand attempt to swing the balance back to normal, I recently attempted a feat not for the faint of heart. Last week, while beginning to succumb to some strange pneumonia like ick that robbed my breath, motivation and my appetite, I went there. The grocery store. The frozen food aisle to be exact. As I stood before my two trusted old friends who've guided me through good times and bad, I waited for it. The internal lightbulb that had so eagerly glowed so many times before. The recognition was there, but the love.. the love was no more.

I stood before Ben and Jerry asking for sweet creamy divine intervention, and I got nothing. Not a twinkle, a flash or a glimmer.

I. Didn't. Want. Ice cream.

And this is how I knew I'd hit my rock bottom.

And now, I stand before you a changed woman. Having crawled out of that cold dark aisle of despair, ice creamless and uninspired, I'm back. This random recipe popped into my head last night and literally was the first thing that's sounded good to me in weeks. Have I ever had it before? Nope. Ever even made shortbread previously? That's a negative ghost rider. Sometimes we can't pick or plan for what brings us back, we just need to accept it and be happy to be there.

Walnut Brown Sugar Shortbread Bars
(Recipe found at Lottie and Doof.)
Makes 2-3 dozen bars

4 sticks (1 lb) plus 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
9 ounces brown sugar
5 ounces white sugar
2 eggs,
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 pound 3 ounces organic King Arthur bread flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla until combined, then mix in dry ingredients.

Divide dough evenly into prepared sheet trays, spreading smooth and level (I used a rolling pin). Sprinkle with granulated sugar and bake at 325° until golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes.

Let cool completely before cutting into bars.

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