Lip-Puckering Key Lime Bars

KL1Key lime is one ingredient that I have never worked with. When I was grocery shopping last weekend I stumbled upon a huge display of key limes and I squealed. The produce guy looked at me like I was crazy but I immediately grabbed a bag and started thinking about what I would make.KL6

Key lime pie and key lime cheesecake are two of my most favorite desserts. I am just not crazy about super sweet and rich desserts; I’ll indulge once in a while. But key lime anything? I am always, always here for. The fragrance, the flavor, the tartness, the tingle in the back of my jaw? My favorite!

The taste of the creamy filling instantly makes me smile. I can’t wait to play with key lime more over this summer.

Be warned: this recipe is not for the faint of heart. If you don’t like sour things, if you’re afraid of a little puckering- use less lime juice or add a whipped cream topping too, but this recipe is for champs.

 

 

Ingredients:

 

For the crust:

  • 1 (heaping) cup of finely ground graham crackers
  • 6 tbsp melted unsalted butter

For the filling:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp of key lime zest
  • 2/3 cups of freshly squeeze key lime juice
  • 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
  • Reserve one key lime for garnish (either zest or thinly slice)

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In the microwave or on the stove, melt your butter.
  3. In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers into a fine crumb.KL3
  4. Slowly add the melted butter. The graham crackers will resemble wet sand.
  5. Spray your baking dish with cooking spray.
  6.  Line your baking dish.(I recommend an 8 x 8 or the next size up, which is what I used) with parchment paper (I did not and I had a helluva time removing my bars despite using cooking spray. I did that so you won’t have to go through that.)
  7. Spread your ground crackers into the dish and press down to make an even layer with your fingers.KL5
  8. Bake for about 10 minutes, the crust will be fragrant.
  9. Carefully remove from the oven (leave the oven on) and allow it to cool on a baking rack.
  10. While the crust is baking, zest your key limes and juice them (strain seeds).KL6KL7KL8
  11. Separate the yolks from the whites.KL9KL10
  12. In the bowl of a mixer, add the yolk and the lime zest.
  13. Using your whisk attachment, mix the yolk and zest on high until it thickens (at least 5 minutes)
  14. Reduce the speed, and in a steady stream, slowly add the condensed milk.
  15. Raise the speed back up to high until the mixture thickens.
  16. Once thickened, reduce speed, add the lime juice and mix until it is combined.
  17. Spread the filling over the cooled crust.KL11
  18. Bake for about 15 minutes (it should be set, but it should not brown).
  19. Halfway through rotate the dish. (Again it should not brown.)
  20. Remove from oven and place on baking rack, allow to cool thoroughly.KL12
  21. Chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight to allow them to fully set and firm up.

 

Optional:

  • Whip ¼ c and 1-2 tsp of confectioners sugar heavy cream in the bowl of your stand mixer on high until stiff peaks form and top your bars with whipped cream.
  • Garnish with lime zest or thin slices of lime

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© 2017 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Grown Up Double Chocolate Brownies

Listen, these ain’t Betty Crocker’s brownies.

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These are sinfully indulgent. Butter, cocoa powder and dark chocolate chips throughout. Chocolate is absolutely the star of this recipe. The brownies are moist, gooey, not super sweet. You can also taste little flecks of salt.  I’m telling you, these are very grown brownies.

Add more or less chocolate morsels. Top with nuts. Go crazy! (But honestly, they are so f*cking good, they can stand alone.)

 

Ingredients:

1 Cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

2 cups of granulated sugar

1 ¼ cups of cocoa powder

1 tsp coarse salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp vanilla extract

4 eggs

1 ½ cup of flour

1-2 cups of Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Chips

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Lightly grease a 9×13 or 11×7 baking pan (with butter, shortening, baking cooking spray)
  3. In a sauce pan, melt your butter over low heat and then add sugarbrownies
  4. Stir very carefully and cook for about 2 minutes. (do not skip this step)
  5. Pour this mixture into the bowl for your mixer
  6. Carefully beat in your salt, cocoa powder, vanilla and eggs one at a time
  7. Mix until well combined
  8. On low, add your flour.
  9. Using a spatula fold in the chocolate morsels.brownies3
  10. Spread batter into the baking pan (the batter will be thick, this is okay!)
  11. Carefully smooth the top of your batterbrownies4
  12. Bake for up to 30 minutes; start checking for doneness around 20 minutes
  13. Cool on a baking rackbrownies4 copy

 

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Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Chunky Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

For the last several days I have been randomly tweeting about wanting to bake something. Last night I had a dream that I made the most decadent, three-layer cake. Clearly, baking needed to happen on this chilly Sunday. So, I recruited my sidekick, Mason.

I stood and looked in our pantry and racked my brain. I considered oatmeal cookies but I do oatmeal cookies so often, I couldn’t bare it today. We have a massive jar of chunky peanut butter and my mind started working.

Chocolate and peanut butter are a match made in heaven. These cookies are crisp to bite but chewy on the inside. The sweetness of the sugars combined with the salty crunch of the peanuts, man! These are so delicious; you have to try them.

These are low-carb and because we used coconut oil instead of butter, we added some healthy fats too. You can cut the sugar for a more modestly sweet cookie or amp up the recipe with additional nuts or dark chocolate morsels. This recipe is very simple and it can definitely serve as a building block for a more complex cookie.


Ingredients

1 heaping of cup chunky peanut butter

1/4 cup coconut oil

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

¼ heaping cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup baking cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda


Directions

Preheat oven to 350

In one large bowl: mix flour, salt, baking soda and cocoa.

In the bowl of a mixture: mix sugar, peanut butter and oil.

When combined, add eggs one at a time.

Slowly incorporate the cocoa-flour mixture into the peanut butter mixture.

This dough will be sticky and very thick.

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Using a small ice cream scoop or a tbsp measuring spoon, scoop out some dough and shape them into balls.

Using a fork or the palm of your hand, slightly flatten the dough mounds.

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Note: This recipe will yield roughly 2 dozen cookies. If you have more than you need, bake what you want and freeze the rest!

Leave about 1 ½ to 2” of space between your cookies.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. The cookies will be cracked and highly fragrant. The tops should be set.

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Allow them to cool on the pan for at least one minute before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.

Optional: Lightly dust with confectioner’s sugar

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© 2016 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

 

Pumpkin Cranberry Scones

Tis the season! Cranberries are available!! This makes me happy, as you can tell. I like to use cranberries as often as I can. They’re yummy and tart, but they’re also really good for you! I like to keep a bag in the freezer and one in the fridge. Next time you make a smoothie, grab a handful and add them! So good.

My son went pumpkin picking and this guy has been gracing our dining room table for weeks. I wanted to make good use of him before he began to rot since he opted out of making a jack-o-lantern. I decided to make some scones. pump

I’m pretty sure that scones were my first foray into “adult baking” (whatever the hell that means lol). They’re pretty easy and the technique remains the same no matter what you add in. I’ve done blueberry, blueberry lemon, cranberry and a few others. They keep very well and if you want, you can freeze the formed scones and just pop them in the oven at a later date!

This is my first time making these. My first time cooking with fresh pumpkin too!

 

 

Ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour

1/3 c (packed) light brown sugar

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp salt

½ cup VERY cold butter

1 cup pureed pumpkin (fresh or canned)

½ VERY cold milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

½-1/3 cup fresh cranberries (or ½ cup dried)

¼ heavy cream

 

(Aside: I used fresh pumpkin for this recipe. I cut the pumpkin, lubed it up with some olive oil. I roasted the pumpkin for about 45 minutes (or until tender). I allowed the pumpkin to cool before scooping out the flesh. If you want to skip this step, feel free to use canned pumpkin.)pump2pump3

Preheat oven to 375.

 

In a food processor, pulse VERY COLD butter (cut your butter into ¼ inch tabs) and flour together until it resembles coarse meal.

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To that, add sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.

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In another bowl, combine milk, pumpkin and vanilla until smooth.

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Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, as well as the cranberries. Mix until just combined.

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Onto a lightly floured surface knead the dough gently. It may be sticky, just make sure your surface and your hands are well-floured.

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Form the dough into a rectangle about 1 ½ inches thick. Cut the scones into your desired shape, I’m partial to triangles. (Some people like to form a circle and cut “slices”, whatever floats your boat).

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Brush the top with heavy cream, sprinkle with turbinado sugar if you want to be fancy. I sprinkled these with cinnamon-sugar.

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Bake until golden brown and they pass the toothpick test. About 20-25 minutes.

 

MAN! Look at how moist these are!!pump15

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Allow to cool before serving.

I made a quick glaze and drizzled that over the scones. You can find a simple recipe here.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Will keep for a few days but…who are you kidding? You’re going to eat them.

 

 

 

 

 

© 2016 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

 

 

Fresh-Picked Apple Danish

Autumn is my favorite season. This weekend my family and I went apple picking at Larriland Farms in Maryland. It was a wonderful afternoon and we got a lot of goodies. Including a ton of fresh-picked apples. Pink Ladies, Granny Smith and Stayman were the varieties that my little boy picked.applesapples2apples3

I spent two days trying to figure out what to make and I settled on an apple danish. This recipe was super fun to make and actually really relaxing. I can’t wait to play around with this again with a different filling.

These were so tasty fresh out of the oven. Will keep for a couple of days in an airtight container in the fridge.

 

Ingredients:

5-7 apples (I used Pink Ladies and Granny Smith)

Half stick of unsalted butter

¼ cup of white sugar

1/3 cup of light brown sugar

¼ teaspoon of cinnamon

Pinch of salt.

 

Egg Wash

1 large egg, room temp

2 tbsp of milk, room temp

 

Follow the recipe for homemade Danish pastry dough.

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Preheat oven to 400 deg

While the dough rests in the fridge, slice your apples.danishh6danish6

Melt butter, allow it to brown not burn over medium heat.

Add apples

Add Add ¼ cup of white sugar and 1/3 cup of light brown sugar.

Simmer until crisp-tender. The apples will be soft but have some bite to them. A sauce will form.danish7danish8

Remove apples from pan and allow to cool in a small bowl.
Pour the sauce that formed into a a bowl and allow it to cool.

Remove dough from fridge

Flour your work surface and roll the dough out into a rectangle that is about 12×6-12×7”.

Slice the corners off of one side and two small triangles off of the other side.

Place dough onto your parchment lined or cooking sprayed baking sheet. (It will be very hard to move the braid if you form the braid on the counter.)

Using a sharp knife or pastry blade, create angled slices. This will form your braid.

Spread the sauce down the center of the rectangle and layer your apple slices.danish13danish14danish15

Alternate dough-strands to form a braid

Fold up the end and create a seal

Brush braid with egg wash

Bake the Danish for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. You will want to rotate the pan every 4-6 minutes to ensure the Danish browns evenly.

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The Danish will be crispy and flaky on the outside and moist on the inside. For a bit of added decadence, brush any remaining sauce onto the Danish fresh out of the oven. Super NOM!

 

 

© 2016 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Quick & Easy Brownies with Coffee Infused Butter

I am still learning to bake quite a few things, as such, brownies have been the last boxed treat that I had to ditch. I’d long since stopped baking cakes and such from the box, but brownies remained a staple until recently. A warm piece of Duncan Hines’ brownie is really sinful. Partially because it’s from the box and *gasp* “YOU cook from THE BOX!?” and partially because, well, chocolate.

 

They serve a purpose. A middle-of-the-night, “you know what I could go for?” purpose. Then there are other times when not only do you need a hit of chocolate, but you also need the therapy that comes with following the steps of a recipe; the browning of the butter, the measuring and the stirring.

 

Today was one of those days. I needed to eat a brownie just as badly as I needed to create a brownie. This recipe has been adapted from a very basic recipe from King Arthur flour, it’s a bit less sweet and I steeped coffee in my browning butter before adding it to the mixture. (Listen….it’s an extra step but the flavor of the brownie?? NOM!)

 

Ingredients:

10 tbsp unsalted butter (1 stick +2 tbsp)

1 to 1 ¼ C white sugar

¾ C unsweetened cocoa powder

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp of baking powder

1/8 cup of ground coffee (or espresso)

2 large eggs

1 tsp of vanilla extract

2/3 C of AP flour

 

Cooking spray

Foil or parchment

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350
  2. In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Allow the butter to cook, stirring frequently. After about 5 minutes add the coffee, again, stirring frequently. The butter will froth up but continue to stir. After about 10 minutes remove pan from the heat.brown1brown2
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, add sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Grab a small bowl and using a fine mesh strainer, pour your butter-coffee mixture. Using a spatula, gently press the coffee mixture in order to get as much of the butter out as you can. (There will be fine coffee particles, don’t worry. This is OK.)brown3brown4
  4. Pour your coffee-butter into your bowl of dry ingredients. Using a silicon spatula, or wooden spoon, stir into all of the ingredients are well-combined.brown5brownie10brown6
  5. In a larger bowl, pour your flour. Into the flour, add your cocoa mixture. Add one egg and stir until combined, then add the final egg and your vanilla extract. Beat this mixture thoroughly until it is well combined, 30-45 seconds. You should not see any flour.brown8
  6. Line your cooking dish with foil or parchment paper, grease with butter or cooking spray.brown7
  7. Add your batter and smooth the top. Using a knife or the flat side of your spatula, create some light swirls.brown9Bake for 20-25 minutes, it should pass the tooth pick test.
  8. Allow the brownies to cool in the pan.
  9. Once cooled, remove lined brownies from the pan and cut into squares.brownier15brown13
  10. Store in an airtight container.

 

© 2016 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Fig Cinnamon Rolls

I’m unlearning the knee-jerk reaction to exclaim, “I’m not a baker!”. Cooking came easy to me. Baking remained this elusive, scary beast. Exact measurements, chemical reactions, the infamous “don’t run in the house or the cake will fall!”

I started baking with simple recipes and I quickly realized baking is only as complicated as you make it. This will be my first time making cinnamon rolls but I am excited to try it out with you guys.

 

I received this awesome shipment of sun-sweetened fruits. First of all, when I think of dried fruit I think of raisins and apricots that stick in your teeth-crevices. I think of prunes that stick to everything before they even reach your mouth and are nearly impossible to cut.

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Fruit Bliss has reinvented dried fruit. They claim this and upon opening the package and taking a bite of the first piece, I’m inclined to agree. There is no sugar added, no extra ingredients (something I look for when I’m trying to be all healthy and stuff). Just water and organic fruit. So, naturally I’m adding this healthy fruit to a dessert. Healthier, –ier.

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Each piece of fruit is soft and moist, not overly sweet and the natural flavor of the fruit really shines through. I decided to go with a recipe that allows the fig to be the star with spices that are known to elevate their flavor.

 

Yields: 12

For the dough:

1 package of active dry yeast

¼ cup warm (to the touch) water

¼ cup plus 1 tsp of granulated sugar

½ cup of milk

2 tbsp of packed light brown sugar

1 tsp of vanilla extract

1 egg + 1 yolk

2 ¾ cup of all purpose flour (extra for kneading)

½ tsp of salt

4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

 

For the filling:

5 oz of dried figs

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp cinnamon

¼ brown sugar

(Hack: This is basically a Fig Butter. If you don’t want to do this from scratch, feel free to sub with ¾ cup of store bought. I hear that Trader Joe’s has a yummy one.)

 

For the glaze:

1 cup of powdered sugar

½ tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp milk

 

(*Note: This recipe can be made the night before. If so, after step 11 cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight and simply bring to room temperature, preheat the oven to 375 and bake 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.)

 

  1. Attach your dough hook to your stand mixer and in the bowl combine the yeast and ½ teaspoon of the sugar and the warm water. Stir to combine and let rest for about 10 minutes or until the yeast begins to froth up
  2. Add the rest of the white sugar, and the remaining ingredients up to and including the eggs, and mix to combine. Add the flour and salt, knead for 1-2 minutes on med-high.
  3. Add the butter to the bowl and continue needing for about another 5 minutes. Put the dough onto a floured surface and begin to incorporate flour while you knead. Your dough should go from wet and sticky to smooth. No more stickiness.fruit-bliss-3fruit-bliss-4
  4. In a large bowl spray with cooking spray, place your dough inside. Spray some plastic wrap and cover. Let it rest in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours.fruit-bliss-5fruit-bliss-6
  5. In a food processor add the ingredients for (excluding the brown sugar) the filling and pulse until just combined. It should be a course mixture.fruit-bliss-7
  6. After the dough has risen, again place it onto a floured surface and knead it gently about five times.
  7. Flour a rolling pin and roll the dough out into a rectangle that measures roughly 10×20 inches.
  8. Spread the filling onto the dough and leave a 1-inch border then sprinkle the brown sugar evenly on top.buns1
  9. Beginning on one (long) side of the rectangle, roll slowly and tightly. Be sure to pinch the sides as you go in order to seal the roll.buns3
  10. Cut the cylinder in half. Cut the halves into quarters. You should be able to cut 3 rolls per quarter. These grow to be decently sized rolls. buns4
  11. Place the cylinders into your greased pan (I used my cast iron skillet).buns5buns6
  12. Allow prepared rolls to rest for 1-2 hours covered in a warm place, they will become puffybuns8-copy
  13. Towards the end of this final rest, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  14. Bake the rolls for about 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.buns12
  15. While rolls bake, in a large bowl add the glaze ingredients. Quickly and steadily whisk the ingredients together until it comes together. The mixture will be smooth.
  16. Pour the glaze over the warm rolls and serve.

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Disclosure: This is not a paid recipe or a sponsored post.

 

 

 

© 2016 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

 

 

#TT: Maple Bourbon Bacon Cupcakes

Thrifty or Throwback Thursday? It’s the inaugural post, we’ll figure that out as we grow. For the #TT posts I intend to revisit dishes that I’ve previously posted to IG (but did not include recipes)*

I know that there are certain posts that some of you have messaged me about. So, this #TT series will be your opportunity to get your hands on those recipes!

This #TT will be in honor of our housewarming. My family and I recently moved to Washington, DC. We warmed our home with old friends, new friends and family. It was a blast! And there was so. much. food. I barely ate but, as most cooks do, I tasted along the way so I was full before I could put my feet up.

There were jerk chicken sliders. There was a spicy pineapple slaw. Turkey burger sliders. Veggie packed lasagna. And the star of the show- Maple Bourbon Bacon Cupcakes. That’s a mouthful and they were a mouthful.

NOM!

 

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These are a basic vanilla cupcake that are topped with a simple maple buttercream.

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Where’s the booze!? I know that’s why you’re here. Booze and bacon, I’m getting to it. So, instead of incorporating the booze into the batter, I chose to make a simple syrup with the bourbon. That beautiful twankle and glisten on the cupcakes? Bourbon simple syrup. But Alexa, is that all the booze in these cupcakes!? Oh. Oh, absolutely not. That very same boozy simple syrup was poured onto each and every single cupcake before the buttercream topping. Yes. You’re welcome.

 

And obviously. The bacons.

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Maple Bourbon Bacon Cupcakes 

Yields 12-18 cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

1 stick of unsalted butter

1 cup of sugar

2 large eggs

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 ½ Cups All Purpose Flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ cup of milk

 

For the buttercream:

2 sticks of unsalted butter (room temperature)

3 ½ cups powdered sugar

6 tbsp pure maple syrup

pinch of sea salt

 

For the simple syrup:

½ cup of water

½ cup of sugar

½ cup of bourbon

 

For THE (candied) BACONS:

¼- ½ lb bacon

2 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp maple syrup

2 tsp bourbon

 

For the simple vanilla cupcakes:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line your cupcake tin
  2. In a large bowl or your stand mixer (you should totally invest in a stand mixer) place the butter and sugar; beat until light and fluffy on med-high speed
  3. Add in the eggs one at a time until well combined; add the vanilla and scrape the sides. Mix until smooth, about one minute on med-high speed.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together baking powder and flour
  5. Pour in some of the flour mixture, some of the milk and alternate until incorporated fully
  6. Fill the cupcake liners about ¾ full
  7. Place them in the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes, you want a golden top.
  8. Do the handy dandy toothpick test
  9. Place tin on a cooling rack; after a few minutes remove the cupcakes from the tin
  10. Once fully cooled use a tooth pick to poke a half dozen holes in the cupcakes; carefully spoon the syrup over the cupcakes. The cake will absorb the flavorful liquid.
  11. After, you can go on and frost them bad boys!

For the buttercream:

  1. In a large bowl or a stand mixer that is fitted with the whisk attachment (I told you a stand mixer is a good investment), whip the butter for about 30 seconds
  2. Add the powdered sugar very carefully, one cup at a time. You do not want to inhale a sugar cloud. Trust me.
  3. Scrape the sides; alternate the speed from slow (as you pour) and then med-high to incorporate well for each addition
  4. Scrape down the sides and slowly add the maple syrup
  5. Mix on med-high for about four minutes until the buttercream comes together and is nice and fluffy.
  6. Chill in the fridge for a few minutes prior to icing the cupcakes

For the boozy simple syrup:

  1. Pour ½ cup of water and ½ cup of sugar into a sauce pan
  2. Heat the ingredients until fully dissolved, whisk constantly
  3. Add ½ cup of booze and stir to incorporate
  4. Taste, taste, taste! Adjust accordingly, if needed. I vaguely remember adding more booze. Don’t be like me (be like me, they were amazing!)
  5. Let simmer until it thickens up like a syrup

For THE (candied) BACONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cut the bacon in half so that they’re easier to manage
  3. In a small mixing bowl combine the brown sugar, maple syrup and bourbon
  4. Place the bacon in the bowl and toss to coat evenly
  5. While the bacon rests in the boozy mixture, line a baking sheet with foil and top with a baking rack
  6. Lay the bacon on the rack in a single layer
  7. Back 20-30 minutes, or until just crispy. Because there is sugar, this bacon can and will burn very quickly so pay close attention as it nears the 20 minute mark.
  8. Let cool and then chop up
  9. Sprinkle the chopped bacon on top of the frosted cupcakes

 

 

 

 

 

(*Due to the nature of these posts, images and recipes may not be as thorough as newly posted content. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask.)

 

 

 

 

© 2016 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved