Cashew Turtles

Cashew Turtle

“Yolande was fitting the tea cozy over the pot when I came in. There were cups on the table. I knew where her cookie plates lived, so I got one down and put my offerings on it: chocolate chip hazelnut, Jamdandies, Cashew Turtles, plus butterscotch brownies and half a dozen muffins.”
-Sunshine

Ending an extended period of experimentation and non-blog related baking, my renewed enthusiasm to tackle the forty-some remaining recipes in Sunshine has coincided perfectly with an unseasonable late heatwave. With such rare weather it seems ungrateful to blow the dust off the AC knob and turn on the oven. A day like this calls for something sweet, simple, and cool. A day like this is for making Cashew Turtles. Continue reading Cashew Turtles

Bran and Raisin Muffins

Bran and Raisin Muffins

His eyes were wandering to the muffin racks. There were bran raisin and oatmeal applesauce allspice waiting to go into the cases up front.
“Have one for the road,” I said.
“Thanks,” he said. He took two.
-Sunshine

If I had taken a look at this list at the start of this mad endeavor, I wouldn’t have thought that the baked good featured on my (second) birthday would be Bran and Raisin Muffins. Easily the least cool, least decadent of all the possible pastries. Bran and Raisin Muffins aren’t even cool next to other muffins. But so goes (my) life. And the force that is Muffin Season cannot be denied. Besides–these are pretty good for bran muffins. Continue reading Bran and Raisin Muffins

Oatmeal Applesauce Allspice Muffins

Oatmeal Applesauce Allspice Muffins

His eyes were wandering to the muffin racks. There were bran raisin and oatmeal applesauce allspice waiting to go into the cases up front. “Have one for the road,” I said.
“Thanks,” he said. He took two.
-Sunshine

Muffin season means morning muffin posts! Next on the muffin rack: Oatmeal Applesauce Allspice. It’s impossible not to get excited for October when you take the best flavors from an orchard and mix it with peppery allspice. And like Pumpkin Muffins, some of the oil is replaced with cooked produce–apples in this case. And since these muffins use whole wheat flour and oatmeal…these might even be classified as–dare I say it?– “healthy”.

But not to worry! They don’t taste like you sucked the goodness out of them. I first recipe I tried didn’t use any oil and while those muffins made a pretty good breakfast, the texture of this version with just 3 tablespoons (over 12 muffins, mind you) is clearly superior. And for an extra boost of decadence there’s the butter-brown sugar topping, which are the two main ingredients in caramel and toffee and happiness. Don’t worry, you’re in good flour-dusted hands. Continue reading Oatmeal Applesauce Allspice Muffins

Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin Muffins

“I don’t suppose there are any cinnamon rolls left?”
“No,” I said.
“Walnut sticky bun?” said Paulie. “Blueberry muffin, pumpkin muffin, orange, carrot and oat muffin, pear gingerbread, honeycake?”
“One of each,” said Pat, and disappeared.
-Sunshine

After several late-September heat waves we had the first crisp fall day of the year. And you know what tumbling leaves and warm sweaters mean? Muffin season!

It’s been…a while…since I last posted, but I’m still here. I’m fifteen versions of Killer Zebras in and the end is in sight. But an almost-perfect Killer Zebra is a year round goody; it didn’t seem like a festive enough way to mark the occasion. So I took a break from endless recipe testing and baking chemistry and threw the warm spices of fall into muffin cups. Because muffins are delicious and forgiving. Because nutmeg and cloves and cinnamon are sharp and warm, but pumpkin has a mellowness that wraps around all those flavors like a silky scarf. Because it’s muffin season. Continue reading Pumpkin Muffins

Lemon Lust Pastry Bars

“Paulie’s piled-up plate two and a half hours ago hadn’t been enough; he was now eating Lemon Lust pastry bars and Killer Zebras. Any normal human ought to have a gut he’d have to carry around on a wheelbarrow, the way he ate.”
-Sunshine

Tangy, zinging lemon bars are one of my all time favorite bake sale treats. But I’ve long since learned that the ubiquitous yellow square is too often chalky on the bottom, gritty in the middle and wet on top. The whole spectrum of human disappointment could probably be mapped to the quality of a lemon square. But when it’s good? Dear gods of lemon zest, when it’s good…

A firm buttery base, creamy lemon-blessed center, and a pristine snowy top that melts into your mouth…

Well. You’ll see. Continue reading Lemon Lust Pastry Bars

Lemon Lechery

“Paulie, still hoarse but no longer sneezing, came in and started on Lemon Lechery and marbled brown sugar cake”
-Sunshine

Unlike the esteemed authoress, I’m not a big gardener. But I love gardens (which is probably why I get along so well with those books that feature it rather heavily). Take lemon trees. One little tree and you’re rolling in so many sunny citrus pops of zesty goodness you’re giving it away to the daughter of a friend of a friend who is fawning over the un-waxed skin like a doe over an actual fawn.

So thank you all you lovely gardeners who share their bounty with others. You are wonderful human beings.

Speaking of wonderful human beings, today’s guest kitchen and baking know-how is provided by my friend Mariko, one of my favorite baking buddies. Look at that tart! No wonder we get along so well.

 

No, seriously. Look at that tart.
No, seriously. Look at that tart.

Mariko was a big help while I fumbled through the recipe for Lemon Lechery. Which invaluable since Lemon Lechery is one of those intriguingly decadent-with-no-details recipes that I’ve been mulling over for a while. There were a couple ways to go with this one, but one bite of this rendition and I was humming my approval so loud I don’t know that I’ll need to revisit this one any time soon. Plus this one has the Mariko-Going-For-Seconds Stamp of Approval.

Lemon Lechery is mentioned only once in Sunshine, bundled in with marbled brown sugar cake. So I decided to go with a dessert in a similar genre. I pictured a generously sliced slab of lemon loaf cake topped with something sinfully excessive to bump it up to the next level. So I over-lemonized a well respected lemon loaf recipe and ditched the light syrups and glazes and went right for a thick white chocolate crust.

The result? Pretty damn tasty. Continue reading Lemon Lechery