Key Lime Pie for Two
Key lime pie always reminds me of my wedding in Key West so Key lime pie always makes me happy! Key limes were actually the jumping off point for our theme. We had a Key lime cake and the florist used Key limes in some of the arrangements. We also sampled LOTS of Key lime pie while on our honeymoon. I can’t wait to go back! In the mean time I will console myself with these cute little individual sized Key lime pies. I wanted something that tasted like those pies in Key West but we also don’t need to eat a whole pie so these perfect little portion control pies for two really have that authentic taste I was looking for!
You can use regular grocery store limes in this recipe. I’m in New York so Key limes aren’t readily available. You won’t be able to taste the difference, I promise! IF you do have Key limes available to you, you will need 10 of them to get 1/4 cup juice. You will also need two mini pie plates, like these: Corningware French White III Mini Pie Plate. These are 5.4 inch x 1 inch. It’s also important to add the filling to the crust while it’s still warm so the filling “sticks” to the crust and doesn’t separate when you cut into it. If your crust does cool off though you can rewarm it in the oven for 5 minutes before adding the filling.
The filling is really simple. Just whisk the egg yolks and lime zest until the mixture has a light green tint, about one minute.
Next you’ll whisk in the condensed milk and then the lime juice of two limes to total 1/4 cup. Don’t be tempted to use bottled lime juice, it’s just so tart tasting and you won’t get a great tasting pie. Cover the mixture and let it rest for 30 minutes. This will thicken it.
While the filling is thickening make sure your oven rack is in the middle position and heat it to 325°. Process the graham crackers in the food processor, mix in the butter and sugar. Sprinkle crumb mixture between the two pie plates and using the bottom of a measuring cup press the crumbs into and even layer on bottom and sides of the pie plate. Bake the crust until it’s fragrant and beginning to brown, about 13-18 minutes. Transfer the pie plates to a wire rack but don’t turn off the oven yet. Add the filling to the warm crust.
Bake pies until the center is firm but jiggles slightly, 15 to 20 minutes. Let the pies cool on a wire rack for about an hour and then wrap them loosely and refrigerate for 3 hours.
Now we didn’t come all this way to put imitation topping on our cute little pies. This topping is super simple and quick. It’s lightly sweetened and perfectly balances the tartness of these pies so don’t skip it! Using your handheld mixer beat the cream, sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl on medium low speed until foamy. Increase the speed and beat until soft peaks form, about another minute longer. Spread over the top of the chilled pies and have a taste of Key West!
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons grated lime zest plus 1/4 cup lime juice (2 medium limes)
- 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 4 whole graham crackers or a heaping 1/4 cup of graham cracker crumbs
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 4 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup heavy cream, chilled
- 2 teaspoons confectioners sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Whisk egg yolks and lime zest until mixture is light green, about one minute. Whisk in condensed milk until smooth, then whisk in the lime juice. Cover and set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes. This will thicken the filling.
- While the filling is thickening adjust your oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Process graham crackers in the food processor to fine even crumbs or if you're using graham cracker crumbs that have already been processed measure out a heaping 1/4 cup. Add melted butter and sugar to crumbs and either pulse or stir to combine.
- Divide mixture between the two pie dishes and using the bottom of a dry measuring cup, press crumbs into an even layer on the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Bake until crust is fragrant and beginning to brown, 13 to 18 minutes. Transfer pie plates to wire rack; don't turn off the oven. (Crust must still be warm when filling is added.)
- Pour thickened filling into the warm pie crusts, dividing equally. Bake pies until center is firm but jiggles slightly, 15 to 20 minutes. Let pies cool on a wire rack for an hour and then cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until filling is chilled and set, about 3 hours.
- Using a handheld mixer set at medium-low speed, ,beat cream, sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to high and beat until soft peaks form, 1 to 3 minutes. Divide the whipped cream in half and spread on each chilled pie.
- If using Key limes you will need 10. Be sure to add filling warm crust. If it has cooled you'll need to rewarm it for 5 minutes before adding the filling.
Fresh Strawberry Mousse for Two
It’s finally strawberry season here! I usually make jam or strawberry shortcake but I wanted to elevate them somehow and this recipe feels very summery and elegant! I love that you can make it up to 48 hours in advance too.
This make-ahead strawberry mousse is rich, creamy and full of intense berry flavor! Processing the strawberries into small pieces and letting them sit with sugar and a little salt causes them to release liquid. Reducing that into a syrup before adding it to the mousse reduces the amount of moisture in the dessert and concentrates the berry flavor. Pureeing the juiced berries results in bright, fresh berry flavor. Gelatin adds structure and cream cheese gives the mousse the perfect rich and creamy texture!
- 1 pound strawberries, hulled (3 1/4 cups)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- Pinch salt
- 3/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
- 2 ounces cream cheese, cut into 4 pieces and softened
- 1/4 cup heavy cream, chilled
- Cut enough strawberries into 1/4-inch dice to measure 1/2 cup and refrigerate until ready to garnish. Pulse the remaining strawberries in a food processor until most pieces are 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick about 6 to 10 pulses. Transfer strawberries to a bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons sugar and salt. (Don't clean the processor.) Cover the bowl and let strawberries stand for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Strain processed strawberries through a fine-mesh strainer into bowl, you should have about 1/3 cup juice. Measure out 1 1/2 tablespoons juice into small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the juice, and let sit until the gelatin softens, about 5 minutes. Place remaining juice in small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to 1 1/2 tablespoons, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat, add softened gelatin mixture, and stir until the gelatin has dissolved. Add cream cheese and whisk until smooth. Transfer mixture to large bowl.
- While juice is reducing, return strawberries to empty processor and process until smooth, 15 to 20 seconds. Strain the puree through a fine-mesh strainer into medium bowl, pressing on the solids to remove seeds and pulp, you should have 3/4 to 1 cup puree. Discard the solids in the strainer. Add strawberry puree to juice-gelatin mixture and whisk until combined.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip cream on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form, 1 to 3 minutes. Gradually add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and whip until stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk whipped cream into the strawberry mixture until no white streaks remain. Portion into dessert dishes and chill for at least 4 hours or up to 48 hours. Serve, garnishing with reserved diced strawberries.
- If chilled longer than 6 hours, let mousse sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.
Apple Upside-Down Cake
Growing up in Florida I never saw an apple tree, I saw plenty of orange trees but always wished I could go apple picking. I would see images of people on fun apple picking outings and feel instantly envious! I wanted fall leaves and crisp cool autumn days! While everyone up north was wearing cozy fall sweaters I was still wearing my shorts and flip flops and blasting the air-conditioner! (I have to admit though that when there’s so much ice on the ground in the winter that I can’t walk my chihuahua I wish for Florida weather! ) Ack! We wish for what we don’t have sometimes! 😛
I didn’t get to see a real live apple tree until I moved to New York six years ago. Since picking my own apples was something I always wanted to do, when I got the chance I picked way too many for two people to ever eat! We gave some away but still had too many so I started making spiced apples in the crockpot for spooning over vanilla ice cream and stirring into oatmeal but I wanted to try a recipe that just lets the flavor of the apples shine through. I think this upside-down cake recipe really showcases my gorgeous apples without hiding behind a lot of spices although if you really wanted to you could certainly throw in some apple pie spice if you like.
The cake part of the recipe is really just a quick bread so it comes together easily plus the addition of cornmeal in the batter helps the cake hold up to the weight of the apples. Pre-cooking some of the apples before putting them in the bottom of the pan infuses the apples with caramel-like buttery goodness!
I definitely recommend using firm apples like Granny Smith so that your apples hold their shape during the cooking process. I did mix it up with what I used but all the apples I had were pretty firm.
You will need a 9-inch cake pan with 2-inch sides for this cake. If you don’t have one you could use an 8-inch square pan. Give this easy cake a try and let me know what you think!
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, plus extra for pan
- 4 Granny Smith apples or firm red apples (about 2 pounds), peeled and cored
- 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon cornmeal (optional)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- FOR THE TOPPING
- Generously butter bottom and sides of a 9-inch round, 2-inch-deep nonstick cake pan; set aside. Adjust oven rack to the lowest position and heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut all apples in half, then cut 2 of the apples into 1/4-inch-thick slices; set aside. Cut remaining 2 apples into 1/2-inch-thick slices.
- Heat butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. When foaming subsides, add 1/2-inch-thick apple slices and cook, stirring 2 or 3 times, until apples begin to caramelize, about 6 minutes. (Do not fully cook apples.) Add 1/4-inch-thick apple slices, brown sugar, and lemon juice; continue cooking, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves and apples are coated, about 1 minute longer. Transfer apple mixture to prepared pan and lightly press into even layer. Set aside while preparing cake.
- FOR THE CAKE
- Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside. Whisk granulated sugar, brown sugar, and eggs together in large bowl until thick and well mixed, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter until combined. Add sour cream and vanilla; whisk until combined. Add flour mixture and whisk until just combined. Pour batter into pan and spread evenly over apples. Bake until cake is golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.
- Cool pan on wire rack for 20 minutes. Run knife around sides of cake to loosen. Place a wire rack over cake pan. Holding rack tightly, invert the cake pan and wire rack together; lift off cake pan. Place wire rack over baking sheet or large plate to catch any drips. If any fruit sticks to pan bottom, remove and place it on top of the cake. Let cake cool for 20 minutes and then transfer to a serving platter.
Rustic Free-Form Tartlets for Two
I love summer fruit pies but making a whole pie for just two people is just too much not to mention the pie crust takes time. This simple free-form tartlet is a great alternative to pie.
I wanted a flaky crust so I learned a new technique called fraisage, in which the dough is smeared with the heel of your hand, spreading the butter pieces into long, thin streaks between layers of flour and water. This technique is perfect for free-form tarts where leaking might be a concern. Because you are creating alternating layers of butter and dough, you are less likely to get a clump of butter that will melt during baking and form a hole in your crust as it bakes.
The dough is then lifted up and back over the fruit leaving the center exposed, and loosely pleated. The fruit needs only the simple addition of sugar, 3 to 5 tablespoons depending on the type of fruit.
Some of the best mix of fruits are stone fruits and berries (I’m using peaches and blueberries but plum and raspberries or apricots and blackberries would be delicious too), you can use only one type of fruit if you prefer. Peeling the stone fruit, even the peaches, is not necessary.
Taste the fruit before adding sugar to it; use the lesser amount if the fruit is very sweet, more if it is tart. Be sure not to add the sugar to the fruit until you are ready to fill and form the tart, the sugar releases the juice in the fruit and you’ll end up with a soggy crust if done too soon.
Once baked, the tartlets are best eaten warm, or within 3 or 4 hours, although you can reheat them in a 350-degree oven. Don’t forget to add a scoop of vanilla ice cream…heaven!
- 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (3 3/4 ounces), plus additional for work surface
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 - 3 tablespoons ice-cold water
- 2 medium peaches
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- 2 - 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar for sprinkling
- In a food processor, pulse the flour and salt to combine, about three 1-second pulses. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour, then pulse until the texture resembles coarse bread crumbs and the butter pieces are about the size of small peas, eight 1-second pulses. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon water over the mixture and process for two pulses; repeat using 1 teaspoon at a time until dough begins to form small curds and holds together when pinched with fingers. Empty dough onto your work surface; dough will be crumbly (if the dough has large dry areas, sprinkle additional 1 teaspoon water over dry areas and incorporate by gently fluffing entire amount of dough with fingers). Using bench scraper, gather dough into rough mound about 6 inches long and 2 inches wide (mound should be perpendicular to edge of counter). Beginning from farthest end, use the heel of your hand to smear about one third of dough against work surface away from you. Repeat until all the dough has been worked. Using the bench scraper, gather dough again and repeat. Dough should now be cohesive. Form dough into 3-inch disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until cold and firm but malleable, about 1 hour.
- During the last 30 minutes of chilling, prepare fruit. Halve and pit stone fruit and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. Gently wash and dry the berries and combine the fruit in medium bowl (you should have about 3 cups); set aside. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.
- (If dough has chilled longer than 1 hour and is cold and hard, let stand at room temperature 15 to 20 minutes before proceeding.) Divide dough into 2 equal portions. On a large sheet of parchment paper lightly dusted with flour, roll each dough portion into 7 inch round about 3/16 inch thick, dusting with flour as needed. If the dough sticks to parchment, gently loosen and lift sticky area with bench scraper and dust parchment with additional flour. Stack rounds and refrigerate until cool and firm but still pliable, 15 to 30 minutes If refrigerated longer and dough is hard and brittle, let stand at room temperature until pliant.
- Sprinkle fruit with sugar and toss gently to combine. Remove the dough rounds from refrigerator. Mound one half of fruit in center of each dough round, leaving 1 1/2-inch border around edge. Carefully grasp one edge of dough and fold up outer 1 to 1 1/4 inches over fruit, leaving 1/4-inch area of dough just inside of fold free of fruit. Repeat around circumference of tart, overlapping dough every 2 to 3 inches; gently pinch pleat dough to secure, but do not press dough into fruit. Transfer parchment with tart to rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining fruit and dough. Brush the dough with water and sprinkle each tartlet with remaining 1/2 tablespoon sugar. Bake until deep golden brown and fruit is bubbling, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool tartlets on wire rack 10 minutes. Using a wide metal spatula, loosen tartlets from parchment and transfer to a wire rack and cool until warm for about 20 minutes, or to room temperature.
- The amount of water that the dough will require depends on the humidity; in a dry environment, it may need more water, in a humid environment, less. The dough can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight or tightly wrapped in two sheets of plastic wrap and frozen for up to one week. If at any point the dough becomes soft, sticky, and difficult to work with during rolling, chill it until it becomes workable.
Valentine’s Day Strawberry Cake for Two and a Love Story
My “Gamer” Valentine’s Day Love Story
We met in an online game. Star Wars Galaxies to be exact.
It’s weird telling people how we met, “How’d you meet?” “umm…in an online game…” We are met with either blank stares or “That’s so cool”! You’re never sure what you’re going to get. Even in this tech savvy world we live in it still seems weird to some people, like it can’t be taken seriously. For instance we can’t say, “Yeah we met at the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity or something important sounding like that and to make matters worse it’s a Star Wars game…geeky AND weird!
(There’s more to read below!)
I ended up in his guild, (for you non-gamers that’s a group of like-minded people that share common goals in a game, like taking down the baddest boss (monster) in the game. We started talking some or rather typing and eventually ended up curious about each other’s real names and he miraculously guessed mine on the very first try! I was pretty astounded and he had my attention after that!
I have to say that meeting in this way turned out to be really important in that we got to know each other without any physical distractions. It was just what we typed to one another and nothing else. Our thoughts and our feelings only. This built such an intimacy between us that I never knew could exist. That beginning bonded us in a special way. We knew each other, I mean REALLY knew each other before we ever physically met…not to mention my typing skills improved dramatically! 🙂
We eventually moved on from Star Wars and onto the world of Azeroth (World of Warcraft) where our relationship grew until we finally decided to meet! It had been nearly two years since we’d met online and finally meeting in person was one of the most exciting, thrilling, heart-thumpingly nervous days of my life! Meeting him really “sealed the deal” in my heart and I have never looked back!
Now we get to game side by side instead of over 1000 miles apart and we look forward to “leveling” together offline and on for the rest of our lives!
Happy Valentine’s Day and….May the Force be with You!
- 2 large egg yolks plus 1 large white, room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar, divided (2 Tbsp will go in the egg white)
- 3/4 cup cake flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup buttermilk, room temperature
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup mashed or finely chopped strawberries, (I used a food processor)
- 4 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature
- 4 Tbsp butter at room temperature
- 1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 1/4 cup mashed strawberries, drained well
- Red food coloring is optional. 3 drops will make cake a pale pink.
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray with cooking spray two 6‑inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper, grease and flour parchment or spray again if using cooking spray.
- Using a hand-held mixer set at medium-low speed, beat egg white in a medium bowl until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and beat egg white to soft, billowy mounds, about 1 minute. Gradually add 2 tablespoons sugar and beat until glossy, stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed; set aside.
- Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and remaining 6 tablespoons sugar together in second medium bowl.
- In small bowl, whisk buttermilk, melted butter, oil, vanilla, and egg yolks together.
- Using hand-held mixer set at low speed, gradually pour butter mixture into flour mixture and mix until almost combined, 15 to 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl, then beat on medium-low speed until smooth and fully combined, 10 to 15 seconds.
- Stir drained strawberries into batter.
- Using a rubber spatula, stir one-third of whites into batter, then add remaining whites and gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans, smooth tops, and gently tap each pan on counter to release air bubbles.
- Bake cakes until toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 16 to 18 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking.
- Let cakes cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Run knife around edge of cakes to loosen. Remove cakes from pans, discarding parchment, and let cool completely on rack, about 1 hour.
- Line edges of cake platter with 4 strips of parchment paper to keep platter clean. Place 1 cake layer on platter. Spread 1/2 cup frosting evenly over top, right to edge of cake. Top with second cake layer, then spread 1/2 cup frosting evenly over top. Spread remaining frosting evenly over sides of cake. Carefully remove parchment strips before serving.
- Combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on low speed for about 30 seconds. Stop the mixer and add the sugar and drained strawberries. Blend on low speed until the sugar is incorporated then raise the speed to medium and mix the frosting another minute or until the frosting lightens and is well combined.
- Cooled cakes can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 1 day. Wrapped tightly in plastic, then aluminum foil, cakes can be frozen for up to 1 month. Defrost cakes at room temperature before unwrapping and frosting.
- Assembled cake can be refrigerated for up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before serving.
- The frosting might seem a little loose at first. I put the frosted cake in the fridge to firm up before serving and it was perfect. Just make sure you don't have a lot of juice left in the berries. If it's very loose just add more powdered sugar, a little at a time, until you get the consistency you like.
Mississippi Mud Brownies
I was seriously craving chocolate after seeing all the Christmas dessert recipes all over the web and this brownie really delivers on ooey-gooey, nutty, chocolatey yumminess!
These brownies have lots of chocolate! There is a dense, chocolatey, nutty brownie layer on the bottom, on top of that are the marshmallows, and then you top all of that with a layer of chocolate frosting! You really need to try these for yourself!
You’re definitely going to want a glass of milk with these! These are super easy to throw together. You’ll definitely want to share these, well maybe… 🙂 This recipe makes 24 brownies and I don’t think even I can eat that many, and I LOVE brownies!
So don’t make regular ole brownies when you can take your brownies to the next level with these!
- 4 (1-ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
- 1 cup butter
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 3 cups miniature marshmallows
- Fudge Frosting
- 2 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
- 1/2 cup evaporated milk
- 1/2 cup butter
- 5 cups sifted powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Combine chocolate and butter in a large saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring until chocloate and butter melt. Remove from heat.
- Combine sugar, flour and salt, add to chocolate mixture.
- Add eggs and chopped pecans; stir until blended.
- Spoon batter into a lightly greased 13 x 9 inch pan.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean.
- Sprinkle marshmallows over hot brownies.
- Frost with Fudge Frosting.
- Cool and cut into bars.
- Combine chooclate, milk, and butter in a heavy saucepan.
- Cook over low heat, stirring frequently until chocolate and butter melt.
- Remove from heat.
- Transfer to a medium bowl.
- Add powdered sugar and vanilla.
- Beat at low speed with an electric mixer until smooth.
The Ultimate Banana Bread
If you’re looking for the best banana bread but don’t want to make a dozen recipes trying to find it, rest easy, I’ve done it for you! This recipe from Cooks Illustrated has a little science behind it in extracting the most banana flavor possible from bananas for a moist, tender loaf with over-the-top banana flavor!
Most banana bread recipes use just 3 bananas but this one uses 6! How do you add that many bananas without getting pudding you ask? There’s a secret to it….we’ll extract the juice from the bananas!
Who Knew Bananas had Juice?
We’ll add banana flavor without adding too much moisture to our banana bread by microwaving the fruit and draining it. Then we’ll simmer the banana liquid in a saucepan until it’s reduced and then incorporate it into the batter. We’ll use brown sugar instead of granulated and swap out oil for the nutty richness of butter. Toasted pecans give our banana bread a nice crunch, and a sixth banana sliced thin and caramelized on top of the loaf gives this banana bread an enticingly crisp, crunchy top.
Do it Ripe!
As bananas ripen, their starch converts to sugar so be sure to use very ripe, heavily speckled (or even black) bananas in this recipe. If you use anything less than very ripe bananas, you’ll end up with a very bland loaf.
Microwaving ripe bananas for 5 minutes causes them to release “juice.”
STRAIN IT OUT
After straining the bananas, you should have 1/2 to 3/4 cup of liquid to work with.
REDUCE THE JUICE
Reducing the banana liquid yields a concentrated liquor, intensifying flavor without making the loaf wet.
Pour the reduced banana juice back into the bananas, mash and add the butter, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla. Pour banana mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just combined with some streaks of flour remaining. Gently fold in the pecans. Pour the batter into a pan sprayed with cooking spray. Add the 6th banana to the top, layering the banana slices on either side of the loaf. This will add more banana flavor and it looks pretty! Make sure to leave a 1 1/2 inch wide space down the center so the loaf will rise evenly.
It really is best after it’s been cooled a bit and fresh from the oven. That’s when the crust is the crunchiest! Okay enough talking, the banana bread is calling me! 🙂
- 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 6 large very ripe bananas (about 2 1/4 pounds), peeled
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar, for sprinkling on top
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and cinammon together in large bowl.
- Place 5 bananas in microwave-safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap and cut a few steam vents in plastic with small knife. Microwave on high power until bananas are soft and have released liquid, about 5 minutes. Transfer bananas to fine-mesh strainer placed over medium bowl and allow to drain, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes (you should have 1/2 to 3/4 cup liquid).
- Transfer liquid to medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat, stir reduced liquid into bananas, and mash with potato masher until fairly smooth. Whisk in butter, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla.
- Pour banana mixture into flour mixture and stir until just combined with some streaks of flour remaining. Gently fold in walnuts, if using. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Slice remaining banana diagonally into 1/4-inch thick slices. Shingle banana slices on top of either side of loaf, leaving 1 1/2-inch-wide space down center to ensure even rise. Sprinkle granulated sugar evenly over loaf.
- Bake until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 50 to 70 minutes. Cool bread in pan on wire rack 15 minutes, then remove loaf from pan and continue to cool on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Salted Butter Caramel Sauce
Ooey, gooey caramel…who doesn’t love caramel?! I love it on ice cream, I love to dip fruit in it…I love to eat it right out of the jar! I also love it drizzled on apple desserts like this Apple Crumble. This one’s easier because you add the water first instead of the sugar so you don’t have to worry about stirring right away. Keeping the lid on the pot also allows condensation to keep crystals from forming. Try it out if you’re new to making caramel sauce! Make sure your pot isn’t too small because when you add the cream the mixture will boil furiously.
If you don’t own a candy thermometer, spot-check the sugar syrup with an instant-read thermometer that can read temperatures in excess of 350 degrees. Otherwise, follow the time approximations in the recipe and watch the color of the sugar syrup; it should be a deep amber color before the cream is added. To keep the sauce from clumping, make sure the cream is hot before adding it to the sugar syrup; try to coordinate it so that the cream reaches a simmer when the sugar syrup reaches 350 degrees.
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- pinch table salt
- 2 tablespoons salted butter, cold
- pinch of sea salt if desired
- Pour 1 cup water into 2-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan.
- Add sugar to center of pot to keep granules from adhering to sides of pot.
- Bring to boil over high heat, covered.
- Uncover pot, insert candy thermometer, and continue to boil until syrup is thick and straw-colored, registering 300 degrees on candy thermometer, about 15 minutes.
- Reduce heat to medium; continue to cook until sugar is deep amber, begins to smoke, and registers 350 degrees on candy thermometer, about 5 minutes longer.
- Meanwhile, when temperature of syrup reaches 300 degrees, bring cream and salt to simmer in small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over high heat. (If cream reaches simmer before syrup reaches 350 degrees, remove cream from heat and set aside.)
- Remove sugar syrup from heat.
- Pour about one quarter of hot cream into sugar syrup; let bubbling subside.
- Add remaining cream; let bubbling subside.
- Whisk gently until smooth; whisk in butter. Let cool until warm.
- Can be covered and refrigerated up to 1 month; reheat in microwave or small saucepan over low heat.