Plum Kuchen

20170710_152921Summer is typically a slow time of year for me. School is out. The back-to-back flow of major holidays is absent. I no longer have to be someplace all the time and there are a less incentives given to require constant recipe creation. I rely on this time to relax, plan out the craziness of the fall and winter months ahead, and sneak a few trips to the park for my oldest to exert some of her excess energy.

This year, however, has not been typical. It seems like I have been going nonstop since last August when I am usually settled down around early June. The reason for the change? Well, in June I was approached by a local magazine, Edible Orlando, to have a recipe of mine featured in their Summer issue. Almost immediately after that exposure, I was approached by two different authors who are assembling cookbooks and would like to feature some of my recipes in their books. I gladly obliged but it also means a bit more involvement than I’m used to regarding this website. Meanwhile, I celebrated my fiance’s 33rd birthday, the Baptism of our second daughter, followed by Independence Day festivities, and in a little over two weeks it will be our second daughter’s 1st birthday. If I am lucky I will get a week or two off before the crazy school year starts all over again with registration for my daughter in school and a bunch of extracurricular activities along with the constant recipe development needed for the fall/winter holidays.

20170710_153132Since I have been busy I haven’t planned much in advance regarding future posts and I haven’t involved myself in other incentive-based projects. This post came about after I was out doing regular shopping and got a deal on some organic plums for $1.99/pound. I figured I could find something to make with them. Sure enough, after having a brief conversation with my mom about how my great-grandmother used to make plum jelly I decided to do a bit of research on traditional German recipes using plums. I quickly discovered that plum cake (Pflaumenkuchen) is a staple in many German homes, especially when having guests for coffee or tea. It’s so popular that every year between the months of July & September, in the southwestern city of Buhl, Germany there is a festival (Zwetschgenfest) to celebrate the annual plum harvest. During my brief studies on the subject I have found that there are two ways to prepare a plum kuchen, one being with a yeast base and the other with a cake batter. Due to my time constraints I chose the quicker cake batter option.

20170710_152959After preparing this simple coffee cake I know why it is so beloved in Germany. What is not to love about a dense yet tender spice cake adorned with tart plums and finished with a crispy cinnamon sugar topping! I prefer using a mixture of black, red, and yellow plums for contrasting flavor and color but any plum variety will work in this scrumptious cake. Serve it as a quick breakfast with coffee, as an afternoon snack with tea, or a satisfying dessert following dinner!

 

Plum Kuchen

 

Ingredients:

  • 6.75 ounces (1 ½ cups) All-Purpose Flour
  • 2/3 cup plus 2 tbsp. Granulated Sugar; divided
  • 2 tbsp. Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 3/8 tsp. Salt; divided
  • 1/4 tsp. Ground Allspice
  • 1/8 tsp. Ground Cardamom
  • 7 tbsp. Unsalted Butter; divided
  • ½ cup Milk
  • ½ tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 pound Plums; quartered & pitted
  • ¼ tsp. Ground Cinnamon

 

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°. Grease a 9 inch round springform or metal cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Combine flour, 2 tbsp. granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, ¼ tsp. salt, allspice, and cardamom in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in 4 tbsp. butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  3. Combine milk, vanilla, and egg in a bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Arrange plums in a circular pattern over the batter.
  4. Combine remaining 2/3 cup granulated sugar, remaining 1/8 tsp. salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl, stirring well. Place remaining 3 tbsp. butter in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds or until butter is melted. Stir melted butter into sugar mixture. Sprinkle sugar mixture evenly over top of cake. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until browned and bubbling. Cool in pan for 1 hour on a wire rack. Cut into wedges and serve.

 

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: PAUL GRIMES
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2017

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No-Bake Cherry Cheesecake Bars

20170629_102444If you haven’t already noticed, this summer I am all about the no-bake desserts. With limited time available and no desire to make the A/C work any harder than it already is, no-bake desserts are a perfect option. Not only are these cherry cheesecake bars an easy summertime treat but they are also a great addition to your 4th of July picnic or party.

As with every dessert I make I try to make it as healthy as possible without the taste being noticeably off. These bars are no different. Instead of a traditional graham cracker crust made with fattening butter, this crust is made with olive oil containing heart healthy fats and omega-3 rich walnuts. The walnuts add a touch of extra flavor to the crust to make up for the loss of richness when butter is cut from the equation. To keep saturated fat in check in the filling, regular cream cheese is swapped out for a blend of reduced-fat cream cheese and nonfat Greek yogurt. You can even make these bars gluten-free if you make the simple exchange of gluten-free graham crackers for regular.

20170629_102431Whether you want to pass a delicious dessert at an Independence Day themed picnic/party or simply desire an easy, no bake summer dessert for your family, these no-bake cherry cheesecake bars are sure to never disappoint!

No-Bake Cherry Cheesecake Bars

 

Ingredients:

  • Half of a 14 oz. box of Graham Crackers; preferably whole-wheat
  • ½ cup chopped Walnuts; toasted
  • ¼ cup Sugar
  • 1/3 cup light Olive Oil
  • 2 (8 oz.) pkg. Reduced-Fat Cream Cheese (Neufchatel); softened
  • 2 cups Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 6 tbsp. Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 2 cans Cherry Pie Filling (you may not need all of the 2nd can)

 

Preparation:

  1. Process graham crackers in a food processor until finely ground. Add walnuts and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the sugar. Drizzle with the oil and stir to combine. Press into the bottom of a 13-x-9 inch baking dish.
  2. Beat cream cheese, yogurt, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Spread evenly over the crust. Spoon the cherry topping over the filling until no filling shows through the topping. Cover and refrigerate until cold and set, about 3 hours. Cut into squares and enjoy!

 

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: CAROLYN MALCOUN
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2017

No-Bake Double Chocolate Pudding Pie

Untitled-1Chocolate lovers rejoice! This amazing no-bake pie explodes with chocolate flavor and is sure to be loved by any chocoholic. Seriously, what is not to love about an Oreo cookie crust filled with rich and creamy chocolate pudding spiked with a (optional) hint of Kahlua. That’s what I thought…nothing!

20170610_135838Chilled desserts like puddings, pies, ice creams, and sorbets are naturally summer dessert favorites by helping the body stay cool. Additionally, no-bake items are also summer favorites because you do not have to heat up the oven that will make the A/C work that much harder or *gasp* heat up the oven when you don’t even have A/C to cool the house back down.

20170610_135747This chocolate pudding pie is quick and easy to prepare and can be adapted to the tastes of the audience it is serving. For example, if this pie is being served to a grown-up crowd, go ahead and spike the pudding with a shot of Kahlua or white rum for a boozy kick. If the pie is going to be hitting the taste buds of the younger crowd or a mixture of both young and old you may want to skip the shot of alcohol and keep things vanilla with none other than a shot of vanilla extract. Either way you make it, this pie is to die for and you will not regret giving it a try this summer!

20170610_135205

No-Bake Double Chocolate Pudding Pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8 in.) prepared Oreo Cookie Pie Crust
  • ¾ cup Granulated Sugar
  • ¼ cup Cornstarch
  • ¼ cup unsweetened Cocoa
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • 1 ¾ cups Milk; divided
  • 2 large Egg Yolks
  • 4 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate; finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. Kahlua (or 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract)
  • ½ cup Fresh Raspberries (optional)
  • Whipped Cream; for topping (optional)

 

Preparation:

  1. Place prepared Oreo crust in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to chill. Meanwhile, prepare the filling.
  2. In a large saucepan combine the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, and salt; stir with a whisk. Add half of the milk and the 2 egg yolks. Stir with a whisk until smooth. Add the remaining milk and stir until combined. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
  3. Add the 4 oz. of chocolate and stir until smooth. Stir in the Kahlua (or Vanilla). Pour filling into the prepared crust and cover with plastic wrap. Place pie back in the refrigerator and chill for 4 hours or until set. Serve with raspberries and whipped cream.

 

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: JEANNE KELLEY
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2017

Easy Cherry-Almond Crisp

20170529_174601June has only just begun and temperatures here in Central Florida have already been averaging in the mid-90’s (heat index well over 100°) since early May. I enjoy the heat but it makes going outside with the kids for walks or playtime practically impossible unless it is really early or late (but late in the swamp only trades heat for mosquitoes). Seeing as outside play is limited this time of year, other activities need to fill the void. Baking happens to be one of our favorite go-to activities year round but even more so in the hot and rainy summer months.

With the A/C already working overtime to keep us cool I want a recipe that is not too extensive but also screams summer for the days we stay cooped up indoors. Along with cobblers and pies, one of the quintessential desserts served in the summer is a crisp. A crisp is quick, easy, and makes the most out of in season fresh fruit. Sweet cherries are a favorite of mine and happen to currently be in season, making them easily accessible at supermarkets. If you happen to stumble across this recipe when sweet cherries are not in season, you can easily use frozen sweet cherries with the added bonus that they will already be pitted for you.

cherryalmondcrisp1Although I love sweet cherries on their own, I prefer a balance of tart and sweet flavors in a crisp. For example, when I make apple crisp, I always use a blend of sweet and tart apples. I chose to replicate the same process by using tart dried cherries in addition to fresh sweet cherries. Before burying the cherries under a blend of oats and almonds I add a touch of cinnamon and vanilla to further enhance the flavor.

I prefer to serve this dessert warm and with a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt (or ice cream), however it is just as enjoyable at room temperature or after a quick warm up in the microwave. I mean, what is not to love about a simple recipe that takes fresh in season fruit, tosses it together with some pantry staples, and bakes into a summertime stunner beckoning for a scoop of ice cream!

Note: To keep this dessert super simple, use frozen pitted cherries if you do not want to pit them yourself. If you elect to use fresh cherries (recommended) and you do not own a cherry pitter, you can pit the cherries with a straw or pastry tip. Simply insert the straw or pastry tip into the stem end of the cherry and push it through until the pit pops out on its on. This recipe yields one 8 x 8 inch baking dish of crisp. You can easily double the recipe ingredients and bake the crisp in a 13 x 9 inch baking dish to accommodate larger families/crowds.

Easy Cherry-Almond Crisp

 

Filling Ingredients:

  • ½ cup dried Tart Cherries
  • ½ cup Boiling Water
  • 1 pound fresh (or frozen) Sweet Cherries; pitted
  • 1/3 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 ½ tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1/8 tsp. Ground Cinnamon

Topping Ingredients:

  • 3.4 oz. (¾ cup) All-Purpose Flour
  • ¾ cup Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
  • ½ cup packed Light Brown Sugar
  • ¼ cup Sliced Almonds
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • 5 tbsp. Unsalted Butter; melted
  • ¼ tsp. Almond Extract

 

Preparation:

  1. Combine dried cherries and boiling water in a small bowl (or pan you boiled the water in); cover and let stand 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°. Coat a 8 x 8 inch glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl combine the dried cherries (including the soaking liquid), pitted sweet cherries, sugar, flour, vanilla, and cinnamon; stir well. Let stand for 15 minutes.
  4. Pour the cherry mixture into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes or until thick and bubbly.
  5. Meanwhile, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, almonds, and salt in a medium bowl; stir well. Combine butter and almond extract in a small bowl. Drizzle butter mixture over oat mixture, stirring until moist clumps form.
  6. Remove cherry mixture from oven and sprinkle evenly with streusel topping (you may have extra topping). Bake an additional 20 minutes or until streusel is golden brown. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes. Serve warm on its own or with a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt/ice cream.

 

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: JEANNE KELLEY
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2017

Skinny Tuscan Lemon Muffins

20170521_161331Summer is just around the corner and that means longer, hotter days and kids running around the house 24/7 (if you are a parent). Although summer is supposed to be a more relaxed time of year it can actually be more hectic, especially if you are an adult with school age children. With the summer schedule already (or about to be) in full gear, it is good to have versatile recipes that are quick and easy to prepare and light on the palate.

20170521_161513Muffins are my preferred versatile recipe item, mainly because they were the first thing I learned to bake on my own as a kid. They are quick and easy to prepare, leave minimal clean-up, and have a seemingly infinite amount of flavor combinations so you never get bored. Today, I elected to work with the flavors of Italy, hence the name Skinny Tuscan Lemon Muffins. A combination of classic Italian ingredients (lemon, ricotta, and olive oil) creates a tart and satisfying muffin. The combination of ricotta cheese and olive oil make this muffin insanely moist, like a mini lemon pound cake. For striking lemon flavor, lemon zest and juice was not enough. To get lemon flavor that shines through everything else, I added lemon extract with the zest and juice. If you don’t like a heavy lemon flavor you can always omit the extract. Lastly, each muffin is finished with a heavy sprinkle of turbinado sugar to lend a crunchy textural contrast.

20170521_161429I highly recommend giving these muffins a try, especially this summer. They are great fresh out of the oven, at room temperature, or reheated. If you want to keep some on hand for quick snacks they can be frozen for longer storage and reheated in the microwave or simply left out to thaw on the counter to room temperature. If you elect to keep them at room temperature right after baking, make sure you store them in an airtight container and do not hold for more than 3 days (although they will likely never last that long). Enjoy these muffins at breakfast with coffee, grab one out the door before work/school, enjoy one as a sweet afternoon snack with tea, or fulfill a late night sweet craving. The possibilities are seemingly endless!

 

Skinny Tuscan Lemon Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 7.9 ounces All-Purpose Flour (about 1 ¾ cups)
  • ¾ cup Granulated Sugar
  • 2 ½ tsp. Baking Powder
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • ¾ cup part-skim Ricotta Cheese
  • ½ cup Water
  • ¼ cup Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp. Grated Lemon Zest
  • 2 tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
  • ½ tsp. Pure Lemon Extract
  • 1 large Egg; lightly beaten
  • Turbinado Sugar (Sugar in the Raw); for topping

 

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Coat a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray or fill tray with muffin-cup liners and coat liners with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine ricotta, water, oil, zest, juice, lemon extract, and egg. Add ricotta mixture to the flour mixture, stirring just until moist.
  4. Divide batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle turbinado sugar over batter in each muffin cup. Bake 15-16 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the muffin tin then transfer muffins to a wire rack to cool completely or serve warm.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

(1 Muffin)

NutritionLabel

 

Weight Watchers: 7 Smart Points, 4 Points Plus, or 4 Traditional Points

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: MAUREEN CALLAHAN
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2017

Coconut Cream Pie

20170418_110650When I think of no-bake pies, coconut cream is hands down my favorite (lemon being a close second). I have fond memories of the sprawling collection of pies my grandparents would serve at every holiday. Whether it be Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter we would always have a banana cream, pumpkin, chocolate ambrosia, mincemeat, and coconut cream pie. The pies would always be ordered from a local buffet called Bishop’s. Unfortunately, Bishop’s has long been closed and I have not had a coconut cream pie quite the same since. When the craving would call there is always a variety in the supermarket freezer section but they are never the same as freshly made.

20170418_110205I recall when I was a pre-teen (about 17 years ago), I attempted to make a coconut cream pie from scratch. I remember the taste being off and I never attempted to make it again since I could always count on the holidays to quench my craving. Since moving away from my hometown and the closure of Bishop’s I decided to make another attempt as an adult and serve this pie for Easter.

20170418_110216I believe my mistake all those years ago was from using coconut extract to flavor the filling. This time I decided to steep coconut in a blend of half-and-half and milk as my base for the filling. I strained out the raw coconut with cheesecloth, resulting in a smooth, flavorful custard that harbors a bit fewer calories and saturated fat. Add a homemade whipped cream topping and you have a dreamy mile-high coconut cream pie worth every second spent in the kitchen!

Coconut Cream Pie

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen (9 inch) Deep-Dish Pie Crust
  • 2 cups 1% Low-Fat Milk
  • 1 cup Half-and-Half
  • 1 ½ cups flaked Sweetened Coconut
  • 1 tsp. pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2/3 cup Sugar
  • 1/3 cup Cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • 4 large Egg Yolks
  • 2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter

Whipped Cream Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • ¼ cup Sugar
  • 1 tsp. pure Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ cup flaked Sweetened Coconut; toasted

 

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven according to package directions of the pie crust. Bake the pie crust according to the package directions for a chilled/no-bake pie. Cool crust completely on a wire rack.
  2. Meanwhile, combine milk and half-and-half in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Add 1 ½ cups coconut and vanilla extract. Bring milk mixture to a simmer then immediately remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes. Strain through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a bowl. Gather the edges of the cheesecloth and squeeze over the bowl to release any extra moisture. Discard the coconut solids.
  3. Whisk together the 2/3 cup sugar, cornstarch, salt, and egg yolks in a large bowl. Gradually add the milk mixture, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the pan and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and add the butter. Stir until smooth. Place the pan in a large bowl filled with ice for 6 minutes, stirring to cool. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour to set.
  4. While the pie chills prepare the whipped topping. Chill a large bowl and the beaters of a hand mixer in the freezer for 5-10 minutes. Whip the cream in the chilled bowl with a hand mixer until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Be sure you do not over mix! Chill until the pie filling is set.
  5. To assemble the pie, spread the whipped cream over the set custard filling. Top with the toasted coconut just before serving. Enjoy!

 

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: KATHY KITCHENS DOWNIE
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2017

Spicy Mexican Shortbread Cookies

20170501_150058Cinco de Mayo is tomorrow and there will be festivities all across America and Mexico to celebrate. Whether you want to bring a dish to a party you’re attending or simply desire to serve some Mexican inspired cuisine at home to family then I have just the dessert for you.

20170501_150014Spicy Mexican Shortbread Cookies combine different elements of Mexican cuisine into one delicious cookie, making them the perfect dessert addition to any party table or family dinner. The cookie base features the rich combination of cocoa and cinnamon with a hint of spice from cayenne pepper, all reminiscent of Mexican hot chocolate. The icing is designed to replicate the flavors of dulce de leche and compliment the cookie without conflicting with its complex flavors. Lastly, the sweet and salty pecan topping adds a crunchy texture to an otherwise extremely delicate shortbread cookie base.

20170501_150119Whether you plan to make these cookies as a last-minute treat for Cinco de Mayo or enjoy them at other times of the year, you can’t go wrong with this stellar combination of pecans, chocolate shortbread, and dulce de leche flavored icing!

Spicy Mexican Shortbread Cookies

Cookie Ingredients:

  • 6.75 oz. (1 ½ cups) All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • ¼ tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • ¼ tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • ½ cup Unsalted Butter; softened
  • ½ cup light Olive Oil or Vegetable Oil
  • ¾ cup Powdered Sugar

Icing Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
  • ½ cup packed Light Brown Sugar
  • ½ cup 1% Low-Fat Milk
  • 1 ¼ cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Nut Topping Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp. Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp. Unsalted Butter; softened
  • ¾ cup Chopped Pecans

 

Preparation:

  1. To prepare cookies, combine flour, cocoa, cinnamon, salt, and cayenne pepper in a bowl; stir with a whisk.
  2. Place ½ cup butter in the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl if using a hand mixer). With stand or hand mixer set to medium speed, beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add oil and beat 3 minutes or until well blended. Gradually add ¾ cup powdered sugar and beat well. Add the flour mixture and beat at low-speed until well blended. Form dough into a long uniform log, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for 30-45 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 325°. Meanwhile, unwrap chilled dough from plastic wrap and slice into ¼ inch thick slices. Bake for 20 minutes (DO NOT turn off oven after last tray of cookies is removed). Cool 1 minute on baking sheet. Remove from baking sheet and cool completely on a wire rack.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the icing. Melt 2 tbsp. butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar and milk; cook 1 minute or until the sugar dissolves, stirring constantly. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Add powdered sugar and vanilla, stirring with a whisk until smooth. If mixture is too thin, add more powdered sugar until icing is thin enough to drizzle over cookie.
  5. To prepare nut topping, arrange pecans on a small baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until toasted. While pecans toast, combine 1 tsp. brown sugar, sea salt, and 1 tsp. butter in a medium bowl. Once pecans have finished toasting, add hot pecans to butter mixture. Immediately toss pecans well to coat. Cool completely.
  6. To assemble cookies, drizzle 1 tsp. of icing over each cookie then sprinkle with chopped pecans. Enjoy!

 

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: JENNIFER BRUMFIELD
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2017