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

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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

Summer Stone Fruit Crisp

20160703_153619Stone fruits are one of summer’s best seasonal produce options. When I spotted some fresh Georgia Peaches on sale along with a red variety of plumcots, I had to bring them both home (plus a few plums that happened to hop on in). Unfortunately, these tasty gems go from remarkable to rotten extremely quick, like overnight quick. I probably should mention that it didn’t help matters that one of my cats decided to taste test one, bruising it pretty good. Of course once one peach gets bruised any near it also get bruised and soft.

20160703_153805Upon first glance, the fruit looked like it deserved a trip to the trash. However, the great thing about stone fruits are they can easily be salvaged. Crisps are a simple, rustic way to save any stone fruits that seem past their prime. My golden rule is if the fruit still smells sweet and you don’t see any mold it can be thrown in a crisp. A crisp is a simple way to showcase the abundance of summer’s stone fruits. All you need is a small baking dish, the fruit, and a few other ingredients that are typical pantry staples. No extravagant shopping trips necessary.

20160703_153738The stone fruits used in this crisp are peaches, plums, and plumcots. I specifically used black plums and red plumcots but you are welcome to use whatever combination you have on hand. I prefer this combination as it provides a mixture of tart and sweet fruits that complement one another. The goal is to add a hint of sweetness from the peaches but keep the flavor remaining tart overall so that it does not become too sweet when paired with the ice cream. The addition of cinnamon and nutmeg warms up the flavor of the stone fruits while the crispy oat topping provides a crunchy textural contrast to the soft fruit base.

I find this crisp to be the perfect end to any summertime meal. This year it will be served at our Independence Day BBQ. It is best served warm with some low-fat vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt. Enjoy & Happy 4th of July to America!!!!!!!

Note:

  • If you are preparing the crisp ahead of time and would like to serve it warm to guests, you can place it in single serving bowls then microwave each bowl for approximately 30 seconds. If you would like to heat up the entire crisp at once you can place it in a 350° oven for approximately 5 minutes or until it reaches your desired degree of warmth.
  • This crisp yields about 6 servings, however it can easily be doubled. When doubling the recipe make sure you use a 13 x 9 inch baking pan to accommodate the larger amount of ingredients.
  • The nutritional information is based upon a serving that includes ½ cup of crisp and 1/3 cup low-fat vanilla ice cream.

Summer Stone Fruit Crisp

Fruit Base Ingredients:

  • 2 ¼ cups Sliced Peaches
  • 1 cup Sliced Plums
  • 1 cup Sliced Plumcots
  • 3/8 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 ½ tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
  • ¼ tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. Ground Nutmeg

Oat Topping Ingredients:

  • ½ cup Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
  • ¼ cup Light Brown Sugar; packed
  • 1.7 ounces All-Purpose Flour
  • ¼ tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • 2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter; melted
  • 2 cups Low-Fat Vanilla Ice Cream

Preparation:

  1. Combine all of the fruit base ingredients in a large bowl. Let mixture stand for 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°. Grease an 8 x 8 inch glass or ceramic baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon the fruit mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Drizzle mixture with the butter. Stir mixture with a fork until crumbly.
  4. Once the fruit base has finished baking, sprinkle the oat mixture over the baked fruit. Continue baking another 10 to 15 minutes or until the topping is lightly browned and the fruit is bubbly. Serve warm with low-fat ice cream or frozen yogurt.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

(½ cup crisp & 1/3 cup low-fat vanilla ice cream)

SummerStoneFruitCrispNutritionLabel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weight Watchers: 14 Smart Points, 8 Points Plus, or 6 Traditional Points

 

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

 

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2016

Strawberry Almond Cream Tart

20160606_110931As Spring comes to a close and we turn things over to summer on June 20, now is the time to enjoy the bountiful fresh fruit options spring provides. Luckily, here in Central Florida, you can find white tents and loaded pickup trucks all over the sides of the roadways selling fresh, in season produce and other oddities (such as gator jerky) on a typical drive home year round. This time of year, the main produce being sold at these mini markets of sorts are strawberries. Since I live rather close to Plant City (Florida), the winter Strawberry capital of the world and host of the annual festival dedicated to strawberries, it is not hard to come by an abundance of strawberries at affordable prices. With an abundance of fresh, irresistible strawberries, finding new ways to use them is not only fun but tasty.

20160606_111339-1Strawberries (and cherries) have always been my go to topping for cheesecake. As much as I love fruit glazed cheesecakes, I do have a problem with the cheesecake to fruit ratio often found in many recipes. The ratio ALWAYS leans heavily in the side of the cheesecake with minimal fresh fruit topping. I decided this needed to be changed. Why not make a cheesecake-esque dessert that focuses more on the fruit topping over the cheesecake filling.

20160606_111935The following recipe is the result of such a desire I have had since childhood. With this recipe, for once, the strawberries are the star of the show. Instead of being a simple topping, the strawberries are nestled in a thinner layer of creamy cheesecake filling and graham cracker crust, allowing them to shine. Perhaps even better than the taste itself, is the fact that this dessert will not set you back a ton of calories. In fact the tart is very low in cholesterol and high in vitamin C. It is perfect to serve at spring and summer parties and your guests will never suspect it is not as indulgent as it appears.

20160606_111325While on the topic of parties, this is also a great dessert that can be made in advance. You can easily make the crust and filling ahead of time (up to 2 days) and then assemble the dessert the day of the party. This will help free up some time to make all of the other items you may be serving that do not have the ability to be prepared in advance.

Notes:

  • This tart will easily serve 10 people. If you need it to serve more you can easily double (or triple) the recipe and divide the crust, filling, and topping evenly amongst two (or more) tart pans.
  • You may have some extra strawberries if your cartons managed to miraculously not have any squishy or moldy strawberries at the bottom.
  • Although I chose to use a 9 inch round tart pan, you may also use an 8 x 12 inch rectangular tart pan or 9 inch pie plate.

Strawberry Almond Cream Tart

Crust Ingredients:

  • 36 Honey Graham Crackers (9 sheets)
  • 2 tbsp. Granulated Sugar
  • 2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter; melted
  • 4 tsp. Water

Filling Ingredients:

  • 5 oz. 1/3-less-fat Cream Cheese; softened (about 2/3 cup)
  • ¼ cup Granulated Sugar
  • ½ tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ tsp. Almond Extract

Topping Ingredients:

  • 2 cartons Fresh Strawberries; hulled & divided
  • 1/3 cup Granulated Sugar
  • ½ tbsp. Cornstarch
  • ½ tbsp. Lemon Juice
  • 2 tbsp. Sliced Almonds; toasted

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly coat a 9 inch round removable-bottom tart pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Place the graham crackers in a food processor and pulse to fine crumbs. Add the sugar, butter, and water. Pulse until the mixture is moistened. Place the crumb mixture in the prepared tart pan and press into the bottom and up the sides of the pan.Bake for 10 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  3. Once crust has cooled completely, prepare the filling. In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract. Stir until mixture is smooth. Use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to spread the mixture evenly over the crust.
  4. To prepare the topping, place 1 cup of strawberries in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is pureed. In a small saucepan over medium heat combine strawberry puree, sugar, and cornstarch. Stir with a whisk until smooth. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and cook for 1 minute. Remove the glaze from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
  5. Combine remaining strawberries (approximately 3 cups) and lemon juice; toss to coat. Arrange the strawberries, bottoms up, in a circular pattern over the filling. Spoon the glaze evenly over the berries. Sprinkle almonds around the edge. Cover and chill tart for at least 3 hours.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

(1 Wedge)

STRAWBERRRYALMONDCREAMTARTNutritionLabel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weight Watchers: 11 Smart Points, 6 Points Plus, or 5 Traditional Points

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: JEAN KRESSY
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

 

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2016

Butterfly Blue Iced Sugar Cookies

3The past month has been a busy one and I admittedly placed the blog on the back burner once again. I have been flooded with med school homework lately and when I am not working on that I am following around my toddler. A few months ago I also started a new commitment to a more healthy lifestyle and began working out again. This commitment to eating clean, organic foods led me to really increase my desire to garden. I went and bought a bunch of organic seeds (to ensure my seeds were never derived from a GMO plant) and started planting. I involved my toddler so she could learn to appreciate living off the land as much as her father and I do. The daily process of watering, pulling weeds, and fertilizing (natural of course) has consumed the extra little bit of time I would normally have for writing.

2I truly have missed writing but with my new course of healthy eating I really don’t like making sweets since they will be there to tempt me into eating them. To solve my new dilemma I sat awake one night thinking how I could continue the blog in a new direction that would not only fit my current lifestyle but also stay loyal to the readers who already followed. The initial result would be to focus on what used to only be a segment of this blog…the skinny sweets. If I focus on skinny sweets (desserts that are significantly lower in calories and fat and therefore inflicting less guilt when you devour them) then I could continue the blog without the risk of completely spoiling my healthy lifestyle. This was the plan until one day I was gardening with my daughter.

5While I was pulling weeds, my daughter was watching two blue butterflies swarming around the flowers growing in the yard near our garden. I thought to myself that the butterfly would make a really beautiful cookie. It had been some time since I had made decorated cookies and I began to have an itch for them. Cookies have always been a great way to bring out one’s artistic expression through food. Even children love taking part in them, which means I could have my daughter help me and I would then have more time to bake if she feels like she is involved. This gave me the revelation that I could not only post skinny sweets but also decorated cookies since I absolutely hate the taste and texture of royal icing. With each cookie being covered in royal icing it would keep me from being tempted to eat the cookies and not disrupt my new healthy lifestyle.

1I know this post is getting more lengthy than usual so I promise to wrap it up soon. I chose to write a lengthy post because I wanted to thoroughly explain to all of my loyal followers the reason for the slight shift in the content of the blog from here on out. For my first post of this kind I decided to make a blue butterfly based off the butterfly that triggered my initial epiphany. The base is a simple sugar cookie and I dug out an old butterfly cookie cutter I had lying around collecting dust. Once the cookies had cooled I prepared a big batch of royal icing (recipe will be provided in a future post). I separated the batch into three portions and colored two of the portions, taking only a little bit from the third portion and saving the rest for a future project. The first portion I tinted with royal blue gel color. Americolor is my favorite brand of gel color but I only had Wilton on hand in the colors I needed so that is what I used. The second portion I tinted with cornflower gel color.

4I used the royal blue tinted icing as my base color. I outlined and flooded the cookies and allowed them to dry overnight. The next day I used the cornflower tinted icing to outline the cookie again and add more details. I also used the white icing to add accents that finished the cookie. This was a simple design that I made sure wasn’t too complex since it was my first time making these cookies in a long time and I didn’t want to overcomplicate things, especially it would be the first time doing it with my daughter around. All in all I am very happy with how they turned out. I feel they are perfect to serve now as we flutter into the summer months ahead. The blue really sets the tone of summer, similar to the crisp blue, sunny skies.

PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2015

*PLEASE DO NOT REPLICATE AND DISTRIBUTE THIS DESIGN WITHOUT WRITTEN CONSENT*

Graham Cracker Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting

20140524_101116I hope you all have not forgotten me for I have not forgotten you. I have been away for quite some time as a result of moving, starting college once again, and chasing a toddler. All of this silly adult stuff left me little to no time to bake and without anything baked I simply can’t write…or at least I can’t write anything interesting. So I suppose Memorial Day is a good time to return to all those who have not forgotten the work of this website despite my long absence.

20140524_101752Although Memorial Day weekend is a U.S. national holiday to remember our loved ones who have passed away it has also become a weekend full of family get-togethers, barbecue’s, camping, and traveling. One of America’s favorite classics usually makes its grand debut around this time each year and continues through the rest of the summer. You will find it featured on t.v. shows, local eateries, and in your newspaper circular hosting sales of the items that go into making the classic. What is it you ask??? Why the S’more. S’mores are a classic all-american summer favorite and although this post is not about s’mores it does have two of its main components.

20140524_101912As much as I love s’mores they are very messy and especially in 90 degree heat the chocolate part of the s’more deteriorates rapidly. I sought after a travel-friendly pastry that would be inspired by the s’more without the messy chocolate. Also I do so much with chocolate it is nice to take a break from it every now and again. Oh and don’t worry, I have no plans on boycotting chocolate. Chocolate and I have a long-standing relationship I would never dare break.

20140524_101713So without chocolate that leaves graham crackers and marshmallow. The graham crackers are always the base of a s’more so in this recipe they are also used as the base. By grinding the graham crackers in a food processor I created a graham-like flour that bound the cupcake batter together pretty well on its own, which made the addition of flour minimal. The amount of graham cracker “flour” not only held the batter together but also leant a subtle sweetness and hearty graham flavor. With the base so perfect the topping also had to be perfect. What better way to incorporate the marshmallow of the s’more into a rich and creamy marshmallow frosting.  The rich marshmallow frosting meshes so well with the graham cake it is no wonder the match has been loved by so many for so long. If only the chocolate was invited to the party…maybe next time.

Graham Cracker Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting

 

Graham Cake Ingredients:

  • 17 whole Graham Crackers; broken into smaller pieces
  • ¼ cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1½ tsp. Baking Powder
  • Pinch of Salt
  • ¾ cup Whole Milk
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 4 tbsp. Unsalted Butter; softened
  • 4 tbsp. Shortening
  • 3 Eggs; separated
  • 1 recipe Marshmallow Frosting; recipe follows

Marshmallow Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Unsalted Butter; room temperature
  • 1½ tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 (7 ounce) jar Marshmallow Creme
  • 2 cups Confectioners’ Sugar; sifted
  • 2 to 4 tbsp. Light Cream or Milk

 

Formula:

  1. For the cake: Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat to 350°. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with liners. Grind the graham crackers, flour, baking powder, and salt together in a food processor until fine. Set aside. Whisk milk and vanilla in a measuring cup and set aside as well.
  2. With a stand mixer set on medium-high speed, beat the sugar, butter, and shortening together until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, until combined. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add a portion of the graham cracker mixture, leaving enough for 2 more additions. Following the first addition of the graham mixture, add half of the milk mixture, followed by another addition of graham mixture. Add the remaining milk mixture followed by the final addition of the graham mixture. Mix until all is well incorporated.
  3. With a clean mixing bowl and electric hand mixer (you can alternatively whisk by hand or clean the stand mixer bowl if you do not own a hand mixer), beat the egg whites on medium-high until soft peaks form. Whisk 1/3 of the whites into the cake batter, then gently fold in the remaining whites. Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin tin, filling each liner ¾ full. Bake cupcakes 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in muffin tin 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. Once the cake has cooled completely prepare the frosting. For the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy. Beat in the vanilla extract and marshmallow creme until well combined. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the confectioners’ sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed until all of the confectioners’ sugar has been added and the mixture is incorporated. Add 2 tbsp. cream or milk. Turn the mixer to high speed and beat the frosting until light and fluffy. Add more cream or milk if necessary until the proper piping consistency is achieved. If too much cream or milk is added, you can add more confectioners’ sugar by tablespoons until the proper consistency is reached.
  5. Pipe marshmallow frosting onto cooled cupcakes using a large star tip. Top each cupcake with a broken piece of graham cracker. Serve

 

SPECIAL THANKS TO:

PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2014