Lavender Lemon Meltaways

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: Lavender Lemon Meltaways! Are you still on the fence about tasting the flavor of lavender? Is it possible you believe it’s way too close to air freshener or bath soap? Think about this a moment…one of the most popular cooking staples in France is dried herbes de Provence. Lavender is in there. It’s a distant cousin to rosemary, which is one reason the leaves can appear similar in young plants. The taste of lavender has a slight undertone of fresh mint, making it a perfect partner for lemon in homemade cakes, creamy frostings, and sprinkled on ice cream. Now I see I have your full attention.

LAVENDER LEMON MELTAWAYS

Ingredients:

3/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon lemon citrus peel

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 eggs

Lavender Glaze Ingredients:

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon lavender extract

2 tablespoons lemon zest

Lavender buds, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9”x9” square baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside. Combine flour and baking powder in a bowl. Set aside. Using a hand mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, lemon citrus peel, and lemon juice until light and fluffy. One at a time, beat in eggs. Gradually add the dry ingredients; mix until combined. Pour batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake 25 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out with moist crumbs. Do not over bake. Allow cake to cool completely on a wire rack. To make the lavender glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice. Add lavender extract and lemon zest. Stir until smooth. Pour the glaze over the lemon cake and spread evenly. Sprinkle with lavender buds. Allow glaze to harden before cutting into bars.

Jello Strawberry Cake

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Jello Strawberry Cake! Take advantage of the price of strawberries when the opportunity arises. Whether it be a local Farmer’s Market, grocery store featured item, or pick-your-own berry field celebrating years of family history, run don’t walk to fill your basket without plans to what comes next. Everyone loves strawberries. The sun-kissed fruit kindles childhood memories of joyous occasions when we would eat our weight in berries as juice ran down our chins. Never mind the red stained fingers or dewy rows from early morning fog. In a week or so, strawberries need to be eaten, canned, or frozen. Anything goes.

JELLO STRAWBERRY CAKE

Ingredients:

16.25 ounce box of yellow cake mix

1 1/4 cups water

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

3 ounces strawberry gelatin mix

1 1/2 cups water, divided

8 ounces whipped topping

2 cups strawberries, sliced

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9”x13” cake pan. Set aside. Combine cake mix, water, vegetable oil, and eggs. Mix well. Pour batter into prepared cake pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove pan from oven and allow cake to cool at room temperature. Using a fork, poke many holes in the cake. This will allow the liquid jello to fill the gaps creating a ribbon effect. Bring one cup of water to boiling. Remove from heat. Add gelatin mix. Stir 2 minutes to completely dissolve flavoring. Add 1/2 cup ice water to mixture. Stir. Slowly pour the liquid strawberry jello into the holes on the top of the cake. Cover the cake and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Once chilled, “frost” the cake with whipped topping. Garnish with sliced strawberries. Serve. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Lemon Poppyseed Mini Bundt Cake

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Lemon Poppyseed Mini Bundt Cake! So, apparently mini bundt cakes have been the rage for some time now with quaint little bakeries and countless molds popping up everywhere. My friend, Nancy, was kind enough to gift me with a cute little ceramic mold. I began looking at recipes and couldn’t believe all the variations out there. Choosing the first one came easily with almonds, lemon, and poppyseed ingredients, especially with a lemony sweet-tart glaze. But wait, you utter. You’ve heard me say my husband simply does not like lemon baked goods. I know, but there’s a method to my madness. You see, lemon poppyseed is one of those combinations that can be eaten as dessert or breakfast. Need I say more? Every little bundt helps.

LEMON POPPYSEED MINI BUNDT CAKE

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

3 tablespoons butter, room temperature

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

1 tablespoon poppyseeds

1/4 cup almonds, sliced

Sliced almonds, for garnish

Ingredients for Lemon Glaze:

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons lemon zest

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Spray a mini bundt pan and 6-mold muffin tin with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and sea salt. Mix well; set aside. Using a mixer on Low speed, cream together the softened butter, vegetable oil, sugar, egg, buttermilk, almond extract, and lemon extract. Mix for about one minute. Slowly add flour mixture, poppyseeds, and sliced almonds just until combined. Divide the batter between the mini bundt pan and muffin tin, filling batter to the top. If desired, sprinkle additional sliced almonds over top before baking. Bake for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to 375° and bake 15 minutes longer. The tops will be golden brown. Cake is ready when a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and allow cakes to cool another 10 minutes. Drizzle lemon glaze over cakes, if desired.

Dark Chocolate Mug Cake

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Dark Chocolate Mug Cake! The first thing I want to tell you about this recipe is coconut flour can make a cake drier than all-purpose flour. True, it does make it a gluten-free alternative AND an excuse to add a scoop of ice cream, which I did. I would call the texture very dense, but my husband was painfully honest and used the word “dry”. I believe adding an extra egg white might alleviate that problem, but who knows? Perhaps you’ll try it and get back to me. The gist of the story is, when you’re really craving something sweet and don’t want to put a lot of time into it, this is a “piece of cake”. Two minutes in the microwave and you’ve got it. Just add fresh strawberries, sliced almonds, and a wicked scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. You can blame me.

DARK CHOCOLATE MUG CAKE

Ingredients:

1/4 cup coconut flour

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 large egg, room temperature

Powdered sugar, for sprinkling

Fresh strawberries, for garnish

Sliced almonds, for garnish

Instructions:

Rub the inside of a microwave-safe coffee mug with butter. Set aside. In a bowl, combine coconut flour, cocoa powder, maple syrup, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, almond extract, and a large egg. Mix well. Pour the batter into the prepared mug. Microwave on High for 1-2 minutes. Carefully remove the mug and let cool for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Add fresh strawberries and sliced almonds, for garnish.

Sift Bake Shop in Mystic, Connecticut

Dining Outside the Home: Sift Bake Shop in Mystic, Connecticut. How lucky to discover a celebrity pastry chef, who won the Food Network’s “Best Baker in America” award, owning a bakery in Mystic, Connecticut. Talk about a hidden gem. Adam Young’s French inspired bakery will lure you down to Water Street with its fresh-out-of-the-oven aromas. Follow your nose to be pleasantly surprised by artisanal breads, sold by the whole or half loaf. Croissants might be stuffed with meats, veggies, nuts, or chocolate. Choose wisely. Exquisite cakes and delectable cookies satisfy the sweet tooth cravings now and later in the day. Better get extra. By dilly-dallying around you could find yourself yearning for something another customer already placed in her French market basket.

Wine Lovers Vineyard Cake

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Wine Lovers Vineyard Cake! Every once in awhile a special occasion rolls around where you need a dessert that’s outside the box. By substituting some of the liquid with a sweet wine, such as peach, blackberry, or elderflower, you create an unique taste that intensifies the flavor. I chose a peach passion for this particular recipe. With subtle hints of orange extract, it transformed the rich moist bundt cake into a delectable version of a fuzzy navel. The photo reflects a powdered sugar dusting, but you may certainly opt for a glaze finish instead.

WINE LOVERS VINEYARD CAKE

Ingredients for Cake:

1/4 cup pecans, chopped

2 3/4 cup flour

1 3/4 cups sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 small box vanilla pudding, instant

3/4 cup white wine

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon orange extract

1/4 cup water

4 eggs

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Grease and flour a bundt pan. Arrange pecans in the bottom of the pan. Using a mixer on low speed, blend the flour, sugar, baking powder, sea salt, vanilla pudding mix, white wine, vegetable oil, orange extract, water, eggs, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Scrape sides, as needed. Pour batter into bundt pan. Bake for 60-70 minutes, until a pick comes out clean and cake is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. To unmold, place a cake plate on top of the bundt pan. Holding tightly, invert.

Ingredients for Glaze:

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon orange extract

1-2 tablespoons white wine, slightly warmed

Instructions:

To make glaze, cream together the butter and powdered sugar until smooth. Add vanilla extract and white wine. Drizzle over warm cake.

Quazy Carrot Cake

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Sweet Celebrations: Quazy Carrot Cake! “What’s up, Doc?” is something we’ve all heard Bugs Bunny say more than once. You may find yourself asking the same question when you take a bite of this tasty version of Carrot Cake. It’s loaded with fresh carrots, pineapple tidbits, and chopped pecans. The crowning moment comes when you smack your lips together over the wonderful cream cheese icing. I have seen expressions of jubilation over this award-winning dessert. Treat yourself to something special this weekend.

QUAZY CARROT CAKE

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 1/4 cups vegetable oil

4 eggs

3 cups carrots, grated

1 cup crushed pineapple, drained

1 cup pecans, chopped

Ingredients for Icing:

1/2 cup butter, softened

8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9″x13″ pan with nonstick oil. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Mix well. Add oil, eggs, carrots, pineapple, and nuts. Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. Transfer to baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes or until done. Meanwhile, cream together the butter and Neufchâtel cheese. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth and creamy. When cake is cool, top with cream cheese icing. Garnish with a pecan half.

Pumpkin Roll

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Sweet Celebrations: Pumpkin Roll! Announcing a festive cake that looks as though you stopped by the bakery. Anyone can feel like a professional pastry chef with this holiday specialty. In a few simple steps, the rich pumpkin flavor is enhanced by the velvety cream filling. Afterwards all you have to do is sit back and bask in the accolades.

PUMPKIN ROLL

Ingredients for Pumpkin Roll:

3 eggs

2/3 cup pumpkin purée

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cup flour

1/3 cup chopped pecans

Ingredients for Velvet Filling:

8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese

3/4 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Grease and line a 10″x15″ jelly roll pan with waxed paper. For pumpkin roll combine eggs, pumpkin purée, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and flour. Mix until well blended. Pour into jelly roll pan and spread evenly to edges. Sprinkle with chopped pecans. Bake 12-15 minutes. Watch carefully. Remove from oven. Sprinkle powdered sugar on a tea towel, turn cake onto towel, and remove the waxed paper. Starting at one end, roll the cake up, and refrigerate for one hour. Meanwhile, combine Neufchâtel cheese, vanilla, butter, and powdered sugar. Mix together until smooth and velvety. After one hour, unroll cake and spread the filling all the way to the edges. Reroll cake and refrigerate two hours longer. Dust with powdered sugar. Slice and serve.

Hibiscus Passion Tea Icing

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Hibiscus Passion Tea Icing! If you ever get bored, take a stroll down the Tea Aisle at your nearby grocers. Choose from any assortment of gourmet blends; especially one containing full-leaf sachets. Read the label. In a few seconds, you will feel as though you have been transported to a magical land “bursting with life and tinged with the color of true love to make sure you never have to live a day without passion”.* And that’s only the beginning. Turn to the side panel for an invigorating adventure that awakens the senses as well as the imagination. After that when I decided to steep this delicacy to flavor buttercream icing, I knew it would be nothing short of fabulous. Perhaps you may think so, too.

HIBISCUS PASSION TEA ICING

Ingredients:

2 1/2 tablespoons brewed hibiscus passion tea

1/4 cup butter, room temperature

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Garnish with loose tea leaves

Instructions:

Brew a cup of hibiscus passion tea, according to package directions. (Since you won’t need all of it, the reserve tea can be sipped over ice.) Refrigerate until slightly cool. In a medium bowl, cream together softened butter and powdered sugar. Add the hibiscus passion tea and almond extract. Stir until smooth. Spread a thin layer of icing over your favorite cake. I made a gluten-free chocolate cake.** Open a dry tea sachet and sprinkle the tea leaves over one side. When serving, place a dollop of extra icing on the side of the plate or on top of the cake. Either way, it will disappear, I promise you that.

*TAZO Passion Tea.

**For Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake, follow the link.

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