Mini Lemon Meringue Pies

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Happy Monday!

Forgive me for not posting. Life gets in the way sometimes! But what happens when you get lemons? You make lemonade? Nope. You make Lemon Meringue Pie–and make them small for added cuteness.

I love making two-bite desserts, like two-bite brownies. Not only are they adorable, but they also are good for dieters and dessert lovers alike. It’s a great palate cleanser! These are super lemony!

Personally, I am a huge fan of chocolate, but lately, I’ve been craving citrus. Lemons to me are so bright, fresh, and clean–and it makes me feel like I am not in a dull, cold, miserable winter. I feel like when I zest a lemon, it’s like a free aromatherapy session; all my tension seems to fade.

This dessert is for the lemon lover in your life, and it really couldn’t be simpler to make. I make it with a mini muffin tin, store-made crust (don’t tell anyone), and fresh lemon curd. The lemon curd is so good by itself that I would double the batch and have an English tea party. 🙂 This recipe makes 24 mini bites, but you may find that they disappear sooner than you anticipate. Enjoy!

Mini Lemon Meringue Pies (makes 24 servings…in which you may consume half in one sitting).

The Lemon Curd

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks (save whites for meringue)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)
  • 6 Tbsp lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)

The Crust

  • Store-Bought Pre-Made Crust (I used Pillsbury’s)–one out of the box is enough to make 24 mini pies. You can use a standard pie recipe you like too, but for this dessert, the pre-made works great!

The Meringue

  • 2 egg whites
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
 Directions:
  1. Take our crust and make sure it is thawed properly on the counter. It’ll become more pliable this way.
  2. Next, make the lemon curd. In a large heatproof bowl (or use a double boiler), mix eggs, yolks, sugar, lemon zest and juice.
  3. Set bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened and custard-like, about 8 minutes. If you see any small pieces of egg, not to worry! Your mixture will be strained and those fragments will not be in the final product.
  4. Once you strain the mixer, it will become velvety smooth. Strain mixture with a mesh sieve or metal strainer and into a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for approximately an hour and a half.
  5. While your lemon curd is cooling in the refrigerator, take out your pie crust and spray your mini-muffin pan with cooking spray. You should also at this time pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Using a small cookie cutter/biscuit cutter (or anything you have, like the bottom of a glass, that is the size of a silver dollar), cut out 24 circles.
  7. Using your thumb and forefinger, stretch the circles you would like a small pizza. Place each small circle of dough in the muffin tin. Press down the center with your finger first, then press along the side. Try to make sure each cup is even.
  8. Once your tart shells are formed in the mini-muffin pan, put shells in the oven for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Once finished cooking, allow the shells to cool in the mini muffin pan.
  9. While the tart shells are cooling, make the meringue using the leftover egg whites from previously. I find a hand mixer on high works best to get the peaks!
  10.  To make the meringue, you will beat egg whites in a bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar until stiff peaks form, about another 10 minutes. Fill a pastry bag with the meringue and top filled tarts. Tip: If you do not have a pastry bag, put your filling in a plastic Ziplock bag, twist around tightly, and cut the slightest bit at the tip to simulate a pastry bag. 🙂
  11. Once everything is cooled, put cooled shells on an oven safe plate or pan. Fill with the lemon curd, about a teaspoon each. Next, top with the meringue, swirling around the tart and making a small indent on top.
  12. Lastly, broil the tarts for about 1-2 minutes–until lightly brown or golden brown. Don’t leave them in too long–you just want the meringue to get toasty! Alternatively, if you have a kitchen torch, you could individually brown the tarts.
  13. Eat right away or stow in the refrigerator for a cool, refreshing snack! 🙂

Mini Carrot Cakes Three Ways: Trifle, Truffle, and Petit Fours (and a Bonus Recipe!)

 

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Happy Hump Day!

I definitely made these carrot cakes weeks ago, and I am certainly late in posting this recipe; however, my film editor and I made the video in a timely manner, and I am excited to announce that we are beginning to shoot videos to correlate with the blog from today onwards…exciting!

Heres the video!

I’ve always loved carrot cake; I had a terrible craving a few weeks ago, but I didn’t necessarily want to make an entire two-three layered cake for myself (although that would probably go quickly, without fail). I am a fan of mini desserts; they’re whimsical, fun, and they don’t make the diet conscious too jealous. 🙂

I decided to show you three ways of making mini carrot cakes because I couldn’t personally decide what I wanted to make. You don’t need to make three batches, either. All from one recipe you have three different desserts! If you have a favorite style, feel free to just make all petit fours or all trifles. It’s all up to you!

So…what’s the difference among the three?

Trifle: Layering cake and alternating with cream/frosting. This is great when you have a cake crumble/fall apart, but you want to make it look like it was intentionally “deconstructed.” Put it in a shot glass or martini glass to show that it’s all ready for the party.

Truffle: Similar to the aforementioned situation, you could have a crumbly cake and bind it back together with some frosting/cream and shape it into a fun ball. Truffles sound fancier than cake pop, but who are we fooling? Feel free to coat these in white chocolate (like the petit four below) to keep its shape and give it a sweeter edge.

Petit Four: Ah, the creme of the creme. The small, tiny, perfect bite of layered cake.  You can make it with the cream cheese frosting alone, or you may coat it in white chocolate on top to go for the sweetest level of deliciousness. I make round and square . Note: Round is easiest for pouring frosting and is the traditional “carrot cake shape.” Square can be done with or without the petit four cutter, but wastes much less cake than its circular counterpart.

If you are making these for entertaining, you may want to offer some choice for your guests. Also, it’s to show you how you can use one baking sheet pan to make a multitude of desserts. I can foresee this recipe coming into extreme popularity around Easter. For some people, they forget the sheer brilliance a carrot can bring to a dessert. I guess the fluffy bunnies serve as a reminder. 🙂

Hopefully, making this recipe will inspire you to make your other favorite cake recipes in a similar manner: a small, thin layer on a baking sheet. I first learned this when I made Seven Layer (Rainbow) cookies over Christmas. I had a similar revelation when I made Almond Petit Fours with Apricot Jam for my friend’s baby’s first birthday. Making tiny cakes are now becoming quite the pastime for me! Any recipe that has similar measurements that I am mentioning below will work! I think I might do a chocolate cake with raspberry mousse and chocolate ganache petit four for Valentine’s Day! Decadent bites are the best!

If you are fine with square cuts, you don’t necessarily need to order a petit four cutter; however, I find using my round and square petit four cutter has come in handy. I ordered mine on Amazon.

Alright, Doc…here we go!

Carrot Cake Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ½ cup of sour cream
  • ¼ cup  canola oil
  • ½ cup  sugar
  • ½ cup (100gr) brown sugar, light or dark
  • 1 cup  of finely grated carrots (preferably using a Microplane)

Optional, but recommended…

  • 4 ounces of chopped pecans (or you can also use walnuts, if you like!)
  • White chocolate candy coating (Microwavable tray, if possible)** (only if you want to have a candy coating for the truffle or petit four)

Cream Cheese Icing

  • 8oz cream cheese at room temperature
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

**P.S: You will have leftover icing, and you will not have a problem finding uses for it. Make some cinnamon rolls, or do what I did the next day…I made “Cinnamon Roll(ed) French Toast). So. Good. (I will post the “bonus” recipe) at the bottom.

First, make the cake!

  1. Take everything out that you need and grate your carrots before you begin! It’s quite the arm workout. 🙂 All ingredients should be at room temperature for this recipe. While you’re prepping, pre-heat your oven.
  2. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 375°F . Line 17x11in baking sheet with a parchment paper and spray cooking spray all over the parchment paper and on the sides. If you don’t have parchment paper, you can survive–just make sure you use enough cooking spray to get the cake out! It’s very thin!
  3. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.
  4. In a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment, mix together eggs, sour cream, oil, sugar and brown sugar until well combined. You may also add some vanilla extract here, about one teaspoon. Add flour mixture and mix just until combined. Don’t overmix at this point. Fold in grated carrots from bottom to top.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared baking sheet and tap a few times to get rid of bubbles. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and inserted toothpick comes out clean. It took me about 15 minutes.
  6. Make the frosting while the cake is cooling. Beat butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed until fluffy for 1 minute. Add powdered sugar, heavy cream and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed for a minute. Then increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Transfer into a piping bag with plain round tip, if desired. If you don’t have a pastry bag, put your filling inside of a ziplock baggie. Squeeze it to a corner and using a scissor, clip a very small tip.

***To make all three desserts, I use a butter knife around the edge and slice vertically into three even pieces. I allocate one third of the cake to each dessert. Even if you’re only making the petit four, for example, you still want to slice the cake into thirds as you want layers of cake. This prevents you having to bake another sheet pan’s worth! You’ll be stacking one on top of the other.

Directions for Each Dessert

Trifle: In a given glass (martini or shot preferable), cut out and/or crumble carrot cake on the bottom. On top of this layer, add your cream cheese frosting. Alternate frosting and cake until you reached the very top.

Truffle: Scoop out 2-3 tablespoons of cake. Starting with a tablespoon of cream cheese frosting, put a dollop in your hands with the cake and roll into a ball like you would a meatball. Put in the freezer once rolled. Microwave the white chocolate. Stir every minute or so. Once properly melted, dip the truffle (or cake pop) into the tray and coat entirely. Let the truffle’s coating harden on a piece of parchment paper. To speed up the process, you may put the truffles inside a refrigerator.

Petit Fours: Cut out your petit fours using your round and/or square petit four cutter. If you don’t have one, you may use a ruler and cut squares by making elongated cuts diagonally.  Place the cutout cake layers on wire rack. Pipe a heaping tablespoon of frosting on half of the cake squares/ circles. Put another matching cake on top. If going for less sweetness/tradition, put some cream cheese filling on top,  using an offset spatula lightly spread the frosting and sprinkle optional pecans.

Alternative approach (if you are short on time/impatient)…put cream cheese frosting on whole layer of cake (remember, you cut your cake into three?) without cutting it into smaller pieces. Place a whole third of cake on top and press down. Put in the freezer for a few minutes to seal together. Using your petit four cutters/knife (if you’re cutting by hand), cut out your small cakes.

If you would like to candy coat your petit fours, make sure you freeze the cut cakes first. Melt your microwavable white chocolate tray in one minute alternates, stirring each minute for proper melting consistency. Once hot and melted, dip your cake and use a spoon to cover the entire mini cake with coating.Let the petit four’s coating harden on a piece of parchment paper. To speed up the process, you may put the truffles inside a refrigerator. Before it hardens completely, sprinkle on pecans, if desired. If you do not do it while it’s hot, it will not stick!

Enjoy!

Bonus Recipe: Cinnamon Roll(ed) French Toast (Recipe inspired by Scrambled Chefs)

 

16194903_727584080734383_6643892865896689340_n.jpgIngredients

  • 12 slices of white bread, crusts removed
  • butter for greasing the pan (or you can use cooking spray)
Cream Cheese Topping
  • Use your leftover cream cheese icing from above!
Cinnamon Filling
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp cinnamon powder
Egg Mixture
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon (add more if you want!)
  • 1 teaspoon of white sugar
Cinnamon Sugar Coating
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon powder

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients to make cinnamon filling. At this time, take out your leftover cream cheese frosting and make sure it’s room temperature.
  2. Prepare the egg mixture by slightly beating the egg and adding milk to it. Mix well. Add cinnamon and sugar as directed.
  3. Combine white sugar and cinnamon powder in a plate and set aside.
  4. Remove crusts from the white bread slices and with the help of a rolling pin, roll up the bread flat.
  5. Spread ½ to ¾ tbsp worth of cinnamon filling onto the bread and roll up. You do not need anything to help this stick together as the filling will do that for you. Roll it up tightly!
  6. In a non-stick pan, heat a little butter on a low to medium heat. Dip the roll ups into the egg mixture and place on the frying pan.  Let excess dredge before placing in the pan. Don’t overcrowd the pan. I made about 6 at once (they look like tiny eggrolls, but man are they filling!)
  7. Keep turning the french toast every 30 to 45 seconds or until slightly golden brown on one side.
  8. Remove from pan when every side is down and immediately put them in the coating mixture prepared early. Roll it around while it’s hot so it sticks.
  9. Serve with cream cheese glaze as a topping or for dipping.
  10. Serve immediately for the sweetest breakfast/dessert! 🙂