Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Marshy Mallows

Making marshmallows had never crossed my mind until I saw a recent episode of Barefoot Contessa. I've always been hesitant to delve into the world of candy-making, but Ina Garten made it look so easy, that I had to give this recipe a shot. I was very pleased with the end result. These marshmallows are light and fluffy clouds that taste subtly sweet and are a far cry from the artificial tasting marshmallows sold in supermarkets. They're perfect for dipping in chocolate, dunking in coffee or eating as is. But personally, I can't wait to make s'mores with these. 

Make sure to use parchment paper when lining your pan. Dust extremely generously with confectioners sugar to make cutting and removal easy and stick-free.

 The mixture should have a very thick consistency.

 It's possible to make these marshmallows without a candy thermometer. I did! Here's the test - after the sugar mixture comes to a boil, continue boiling for about 7-8 minutes, then remove from heat. If you boil it any longer, it will not be in the soft-ball stage and will probably turn into burnt caramel, which is a no-no!

For best results, let the mallows set overnight. Cut them into squares using kitchen scissors. Rinse the scissors with hot water between cutting to avoid sticking. 


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bananas for Banana Cream Pie

The world needs more banana recipes. I often find myself confused as to what to do with browning bananas (which seems to happen on a weekly basis). So when I found this amazing banana cream pie recipe, I was excited to make something besides banana bread, muffins, or cake. The vanilla custard came out impeccably smooth and delicious, and surprisingly, it wasn't an egg or butter overload. This custard is definitely my new go-to recipe for future pie and tart fillings.

Crust Ingredients
1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers
1/3 cup melted unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar

Crust Directions
Combine the three crust ingredients in a bowl. Press the crumbly crust into a pie crust lined with parchment paper. Use the bottom of a flat cup to pack the crust tightly. Refrigerate the crust while you prepare the filling.

Vanilla Custard Ingredients
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
dash of salt
3 cups milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsps vanilla extract
2-3 large bananas
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp sugar 

Vanilla Custard Directions
In a saucepan (not over heat), combine the cornstarch and milk. Mix until very smooth and thickened. There should be no lumps. Place the saucepan over low heat and add the sugar and salt to the milk mixture. Cook and continuously stir over low heat until the mixture is thick and starts to bubble. This will take awhile so be patient. Make sure the heat is on low, otherwise the milk will scald. Keep stirring! Once the mixture starts to bubble, cook for 2 more minutes while stirring. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir a very small amount of the hot filling into the egg mixture. Stir very quickly to temper the eggs and raise the temperature to avoid curdling. Strain the egg mixture into the saucepan through a sieve and bring to a gentle boil while stirring. Once the mixture comes to a boil, remove from heat and stir in butter, vanilla and salt. Cool the mixture to room temperature, then refrigerate.

Assembly Directions
Slice the bananas and arrange in a single layer over the chilled crust. Pour the custard over the bananas and spread evenly. Beat the heavy whipping cream with 2 tablespoons of sugar until medium-stiff peaks form. Spread the whipped cream over the custard in an even layer. Chill the pie for at least 6 hours. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Let Luce Lately

Late Night Dessert: The lindzer danish at Extraordinary Desserts in San Diego.  

 Home-made shamrock sugar cookies for St. Patty's Day

 Old Hollywood Glamour: The gorgeous Orpheum Theater in DTLA

 Lemon overload: Loads of lemons in preparation for this amazing lemon-honey tart with salted shortbread crust

Mussels for lunch at Santa Barbara Shellfish Company

Spring in full swing


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