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Friday, June 21, 2013

Apricot Cakes

Happy first day of summer!  I'm trying hard to mentally prepare myself for the hot, sticky summer weather, but honestly, I'm not looking forward to it.  I find the high temperatures to be extremely uncomfortable, and might I mention, it makes me very reluctant to partake in my love of baking.  Living in Southern California with no air conditioning means I have to be very selective when it comes to turning on the oven.

However, although there are things I clearly don't enjoy about the summer, there are plenty of things that I am looking forward to!  I can't wait to spend days at the beach, and hopefully get a nice summer tan.  I also hope to do a bit of traveling this summer, with Hawaii being the first destination on our summer to-do list.  Most importantly of all, I'm looking forward to enjoying all of the fresh summer produce.  I especially love all of the delicious fruit that summer brings; berries, peaches, plums, and apricots, to name a few.

That's why I'm so excited to share this recipe with you all.  I actually had a few other recipes lined up before this one, but since today is the first day of summer I thought this would be most appropriate.  I baked these little cakes yesterday afternoon, after enduring a leisurely day of running errands, walking the dog, and doing some things around the house.  I saw this recipe in the most recent issue of Bon Appetit magazine, and have had my mind on these cakes ever since.

This recipe was a part of a picnic themed segment in the magazine, and I agree, these would be perfect little cakes to wrap up and bring along to a picnic.  However, I don't have any plans to go on a picnic anytime soon, so I whipped these up for a simple afternoon snack.  These cakes were much better than I could have ever anticipated.  I immediately knew I was in for a treat when they were baking in the oven, because the smell that filled my home was amazing.  The buttery, sugary, vanilla-y aroma made me anxious for these to finish baking, and when they did, I was not disappointed.  I love the crusty edges and tops, which have a hint of crunch from the raw sugar.  The apricot slices lend just enough flavor and sweetness to offset the smooth buttery vanilla flavor of the cake.

The cakes are great by themselves, but I've already started thinking about how they would taste with a dollop of fresh whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Unfortunately, I don't have either on hand.  At the rate I've been eating them, I have a feeling I may run out of these cakes before I can make it to the store to buy whipping cream or ice cream.  I guess I'll have to make these again.  Darn...  ;)


Apricot Cakes
Print this recipe
Yield:  12 cakes
Recipe from Bon Appetit magazine, June 2013 issue

Nonstick baking spray (or vegetable oil spray)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
6 Tbsp. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk
2 apricots, halved, pitted, cut into 1/4" wedges
2 Tbsp. raw sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Coat muffin cups with nonstick spray.  Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in another medium bowl, occasionally scraping down sides, until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add egg, lemon zest, and vanilla and beat until combined.

With mixer on low speed, add dry ingredients in 3 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.  Divide batter among muffin cups (cups will be only 1/3 full) and smooth tops.  Top with apricot slices and sprinkle with raw sugar.

Bake until cakes are golden and a tester inserted into the centers comes out clean, 20-25 minutes.  Transfer pan to a wire rack; let pan cool 5 minutes.  Transfer cakes to rack and let cool completely.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Goat Cheese Cake with Mixed Berries

Hello!  Finally, summer is here!

Well...almost here.  This Friday, June 21st is the first official day of summer, so I figured I'd begin my "return" to this blog by sharing an amazing summer dessert:  Goat Cheese Cake with Mixed Berries.

Clearly, it's been quite a while since my last post, and A LOT has happened in my life.  Let's see....in the past few months I:

Got married

Quit my job to focus on school (and had a special happy hour for my last day)

Completed my mental health and med-surg rotations in nursing school (1 year down, 1 more to go)

Went out a few times with fellow nursing classmates, to celebrate being halfway done with the nursing program, making it to our summer break and actually having a social life again!

Won a scholarship

Went to Disneyland

Went to a Dodgers game (Boo Dodgers)

Took a few trips to San Diego

Spent Father's Day with Tony's dad (and now my father-in-law)

And throughout all of this,

Roy's Restaurant in Anaheim, CA

ate a lot

Creole Crawfish Crabcake from The Palace Grill in Santa Barbara


Thai Chicken Empanadas from Zengo in Santa Monica


Now that I'm officially done with school, I'm going to have a lot more free time to bake and cook until school starts up again on August 26th.  I've already tried quite a few new recipes last week in preparation of my return to this blog, so I hope you're ready for a food-filled summer!

There were several recipes I could have used for today's post, but I decided on this goat cheese cake, because not only is it a great dessert utilizing some delicious seasonal berries, but its presentation is gorgeous!  This would be a perfect dessert to make for a summer get-together, because the arrangement of fruit on the top makes it so impressive.  It looks professionally done, but in reality, it is extremely simple to make.

I found this recipe in the June 2013 issue of Bon Appetit magazine.  Even though it did not have a photo in the magazine, it STILL caught my eye because....hello?  Who doesn't love cheesecake?  I've been craving cheesecake for the longest time, and was intrigued with this goat cheese variation.  The fact that it uses goat cheese instead of cream cheese makes it seem a little healthier, and makes me feel a little less guilty eating it.  It may have even convinced me to cut myself some extra large slices....

The final result of this recipe is a cheesecake that has a much lighter, fluffier texture than traditional cheesecake.  It also has a flavor that is slightly creamy but not too sweet, allowing for the berries on top to really lend their own delicious flavor to the cake.  I topped my cake with strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries, but you could use any type of fruits or berries that you prefer.

I'm glad I took a chance on this goat cheese cake, because not only did I experience a new type of cheesecake, but I satisfied my cheesecake craving....for now.

Goat Cheese Cake with Mixed Berries
Print this recipe
Yield:  8 servings
Recipe from Bon Appetit magazine, June 2013 issue, originally from Waterbar in San Francisco

Unsalted butter (for pan)
3/4 cup sugar plus more for pan
12 oz. fresh soft goat cheese, room temperature
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
6 large eggs, separated
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 pints mixed berries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a 9" springform pan and dust with sugar, tapping out any excess.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat goat cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla, and 3/4 cup sugar in a large bowl until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes.  Add egg yolks two at a time, beating to blend and scraping down sides of bowl between additions.  Reduce speed to low, add flour, and mix just until blended.

Using clean, dry beaters, beat egg whites in a medium bowl until soft peaks form.  Fold 1/4 of egg whites into goat cheese mixture just until blended; fold in remaining mixture just until blended.  Scrape into prepared pan and tap pan to level batter.

Bake cheesecake until top is set but still jiggles slightly in the center, and edges are golden brown, 30-35 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack; let cool in pan; unmold cake.  Serve topped with berries.