Vanilla Pudding Pops

These creamy popsicles are a great summer treat. The chilled pudding was also absolutely delicious prior to being frozen, making this a dessert that can be enjoyed year-round. 🙂

This recipe is from Martha Stewart Living’s Everyday Food. An easy crowd pleaser.

Yield: 7-10 ice pops (depending on the size of the popsicle mold)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
    1. Place a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl; set aside. In a medium saucepan, off heat, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt.
    2. Gradually whisk in milk, mixing until ingredients are dissolved. Whisk in egg yolks.
    3. Whisking constantly, cook over medium heat until the first large bubble sputters. Reduce heat to low; continue to whisk, and cook 1 minute.
    4. Remove from heat, and immediately pour through sieve into bowl; stir in vanilla.
    5. Using a funnel, divide mixture among ice-pop molds.
    6. Chill in refrigerator until cool and thickened, about 1 hour.
    7. Insert pop sticks, and freeze until solid, at least 4 hours and up to 2 weeks.
    8. Dip molds briefly in warm water to release pops.

    Italian Easter Bread Wreath

    Happy Easter! I made this sweet and tender orange-scented bread to serve for breakfast with our hard-boiled Easter eggs. The texture was similar to panettone without the dried fruit.

    As an aside, I have to share a photo of my Easter cat with his catnip carrot. ❤ We are all very festive in my house!

    Because I live in fear of overbaking my sweets, I was disappointed that this loaf was slightly overdone after I had already significantly reduced the baking time in the original recipe. :/ Don’t worry! We still gobbled it up, but, I modified the recipe below. The sweet orange glaze made it a crowd-pleaser.

    This recipe was adapted from King Arthur Flour. I weighed all of the dry ingredients and used vanilla and orange extract instead of Fiori di Sicilia. I also reduced the baking time and tented the loaf during baking. Pretty.

    Yield: One 10-inch round loaf

    For the Starter:

    • 120 g (1 cup) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
    • 1/2 cup (113 g) cool water
    • 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast

    For the Dough:

    • 269 g (2 1/4 cups) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
    • 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
    • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
    • 67 g (1/3 cup) granulated sugar
    • 4 tablespoons (57 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 large egg yolk
    • 1/4 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract + 1/4 teaspoon orange extract or orange oil
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground anise seed, optional (I omitted it)
    • grated peel of 1 large orange

    For the Glaze:

    • 113 g (1 cup) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
    • 2 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
    • sprinkles or nonpareils, for decorating
    1. To make the bread: Mix together the starter ingredients, cover the bowl, and let rest at room temperature overnight, or for up to 15 hours.
    2. Next day, combine the bubbly starter with all the remaining dough ingredients. Mix and knead, using a mixer or bread machine, until the dough is elastic and satiny. We don’t recommend preparing this dough by hand, as it’s quite sticky and challenging to bring together. (I used the beater until the dough came together and the dough hook for about 7 minutes on medium speed to knead the dough.)
    3. Grease a large bowl and let the dough rise for 1 to 2 hours, until it’s noticeably puffy. (I used a proofing oven.)
    4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface, divide it into three pieces, and shape each piece into an 18″-long rope. Braid the ropes together, and connect the two ends to form a wreath.
    5. Cover the wreath and allow it to rise until puffy, about 1 to 2 hours. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F, preferably on convection.
    6. Bake the wreath for 10-15 minutes, then tent the loaf with aluminum foil and reduce the oven heat to 350°F and bake for an additional 8-15 minutes. The finished loaf will be golden brown, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will register at least 190°F. (I baked it at 375°F for 15 minutes, and 350°F for 10 minutes and the internal temperature of the loaf was 205°F.)
    7. Remove the wreath from the oven, and transfer it to a rack to cool.
    8. To make the glaze: Stir together the sugar and 2 tablespoons of the milk or orange juice. Add more liquid 1/4 teaspoon at a time, until the glaze is thin and pourable.
    9. Drizzle the glaze onto the cooled braid, then decorate with sprinkles, if desired.

    Meyer Lemon Pizzelle

    I love a crispy pizzelle! I was first introduced to these traditional Italian cookies by a friend who made them every year for our kids’ preschool Christmas celebration. They were so pretty and delicious that I put a pizzelle iron on my holiday wishlist. 🙂 Eating them with ice cream made me understand why my husband loves waffle cones too. This is a wonderful version with subtle lemon flavor.

    This special dessert recipe was adapted from a Food 52 community pick, contributed by Hilarybee. I used lemon extract but may try orange next time. I also increased the amount of Meyer lemon zest and added salt.

    The original recipe also recommends serving them filled with pastry cream or mousse or sandwiched with a little bit of lemon curd. Yum!

    • 3/4 cup plus 2 T granulated sugar
    • 3 large eggs, at room temperature (I place them in a bowl of warm water)
    • 1 stick of unsalted butter, melted and cooled
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1/2 teaspoon pure orange or pure lemon extract
    • zest of 2 Meyer lemons
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/8 tsp coarse salt
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
    1. Whisk to combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
    2. Combine the sugar and eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes until well incorporated. Note: The eggs must be at least room temperature; cold eggs will result in an unworkable batter.
    3. Slowly drizzle the melted butter into the mixture, while mixing on medium speed.
    4. Add the extracts followed by the zest.
    5. On low-speed, add the flour mixture 1/2 cup at a time. Alternate between medium and low-speed while beating in the flour. (I turn it to low while pouring in the flour; medium to incorporate the flour before adding more).
    6. The batter should have a satin sheen to it, but should be light and stiff. If your batter is too liquid, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time until the batter is stiff.
    7. Using a tablespoon scoop, place dollops of batter into the iron. The cookies take about 25-30 seconds in the iron.

    Note: Fresh, hot cookies can be rolled or shaped into cups. I shaped them into cups by placing a hot cookie on the base of a juice glass and then topped it with an inverted glass prep bowl. The cookies cool very quickly and maintain the shape.

    Zebra-Striped Shortbread Cookies

    I made these “Art Deco” vanilla & chocolate shortbread cookies as part of my Christmas cookie assortment, but the colorful sanding sugar edge could easily be modified to suit any occasion. Pink and red would be amazing for Valentine’s Day! 🙂

    This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Chris Morocco. I doubled the recipe, in two separate batches, making the process even easier because I kept one batch to use for the vanilla stripes and the second batch for the chocolate stripes. I also used egg yolks to coat the cookies instead of a whole egg. Wonderful.

    Yield: Makes 40-48 cookies

    • 2⅓ cups all-purpose flour, divided
    • 1½ tsp Kosher salt, divided
    • ⅓ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted
    • 1¼ cups (2½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
    • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
    • ¼ cup powdered sugar
    • 1 large egg yolk
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
    • 1 egg yolk or 1 large egg, beaten to blend
    • ¼ cup sanding sugar (any color)
    1. Whisk 1⅓ cups flour and ¾ tsp. salt in a medium bowl. Whisk cocoa powder, remaining 1 cup flour, and remaining ¾ tsp. salt in another medium bowl. These are the bases for your chocolate and vanilla doughs.
    2. Beat butter, granulated sugar, and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. (Do in 2 separate batches if doubling the recipe, making the vanilla dough first.)
    3. Add egg yolk and vanilla to the butter and sugar mixture and beat until smooth.
    4. Divide (for 1 batch) mixture between the 2 bowls of dry ingredients (about 1 cup in each). Scrape vanilla mixture back into stand mixer bowl (save the mixing bowl) and beat on low-speed just until combined. Return to reserved bowl.
    5. Repeat process with chocolate mixture.
    6. Arrange 2 large sheets (per batch) of plastic wrap or parchment paper on a work surface. Dollop one-quarter of chocolate dough in the center of each sheet and pat into rough 6×2″ rectangles. Dollop one-quarter of vanilla dough on top of each chocolate slab and pat into rectangles the same size and shape so that you have 2 layers each. Repeat entire process so you have 4 alternating layers.
    7. Tightly press stacked dough into cylinders about 1½” wide and 8″ long, using the plastic wrap or parchment to help you.
    8. Wrap logs in plastic wrap and chill until very firm, at least 2 hours. I chilled my dough overnight.
    9. Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 350°, preferably on convection.
    10. Working one at a time, unwrap dough and brush with egg. Carefully sprinkle surface with sanding sugar and roll logs in sugar to coat well (really press dough into sugar so it sticks).
    11. Slice into rounds a generous ¼” thick, rotating after every few cuts to keep slices round.
    12. Arrange cookies on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2″ apart.
    13. Bake, rotating baking sheets top to bottom and front to back halfway through, until edges are just set, 12–14 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets.

    Note: Dough can be made 3 days ahead; keep chilled. Cookies can be baked 5 days ahead; store airtight at room temperature.

    Baked Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

    My daughter is obsessed with donuts- specifically donuts with pink icing and sprinkles. Her new bicycle bell is a life-size pink frosted donut with sprinkles! 🙂

    I must say that she was quite pleased with this cinnamon sugar variation. When we debated over whether or not they were too heavily coated with cinnamon sugar, both of my kids informed me that such a problem was not even possible. 😉

    This recipe is from Sally’s Baking Addiction. Using my mini donut pans, this recipe made 12 donuts. I substituted 1/2 cup of buttermilk instead of a combination of yogurt and milk and I reduced the amount of butter in the topping. They made a very special breakfast.

    Yield: 8 standard size donuts or 12 mini donuts

    For the Donuts:

    • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
    • 1 large egg, at room temperature
    • 1/3 cup (65g) packed light brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup (60ml) buttermilk (or skim, 1%, 2%, or whole milk, almond milk, soy milk, or coconut milk), at room temperature
    • 1/4 cup (60g) yogurt or sour cream (nonfat, low-fat, vanilla, plain, Greek or regular yogurt), at room temperature (I used another 1/4 cup of buttermilk)
    • 2 T (30g) unsalted butter, melted
    • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

    For the Coating:

    • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 4-5 T unsalted butter, melted

    To Make the Donuts:

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C), preferably on convection. Spray a donut pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.
    2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
    3. Whisk the egg, brown sugar, milk, and yogurt together until smooth. Add the melted butter and vanilla, whisking until fully combined.
    4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not overmix. The batter will be very thick.
    5. Spoon the batter into the donut cavities—I highly recommend using a large zipped-top bag for ease. Cut a corner off the bottom of the bag and pipe the batter into each donut cup, filling 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full.
    6. Bake for 9–10 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Allow to cool for about two minutes and transfer to a wire rack set on a large piece of parchment paper or on a large baking sheet.
    7. Bake the remaining donut batter and transfer to the wire rack. Allow donuts to cool down until you can handle them.

    To Coat with Cinnamon Sugar:

    1. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
    2. Brush the melted butter, on the top or on the top and bottom, as desired; dunk into the cinnamon sugar mixture coating all sides.
    3. Donuts are best served immediately.

    Notes:

    • Leftovers keep well covered tightly at room temperature for up to 2 days.
    • You can freeze the donuts for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm up to your liking in the microwave, usually a few seconds.

    Festive Sugar Cookie Bars

    I hope everyone had a lovely Fourth of July celebration. 🙂

    We had a very low-key day followed by a delicious meal prepared on the grill, in Fourth of July fashion. This fun dessert was a festive way to end the day! The meringue icing was incredibly thick and fluffy; the pattern could be easily modified to decorate for any occasion.

    This recipe is from Better Homes and Gardens. The cookies kept well for several days in the refrigerator.

    Yield: 24 bars

    For the Sugar Cookie Bars:

    • 3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
    • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
    • Meringue Icing (recipe follows)
    • red and blue paste food colorings

    For the Meringue Icing:

    • 3 cups Confectioners’ sugar
    • 2 T meringue powder
    • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
    1. Preheat oven to 350°F, preferably on convection.
    2. Coat a half sheet pan (15×10-inch baking pan) with nonstick cooking spray, line with parchment paper, and coat the parchment with cooking spray.
    3. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
    4. In a large bowl beat butter with mixer on medium speed 30 seconds. Add sugars; beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
    5. Beat in egg and vanilla bean paste.
    6. Beat in flour mixture. (Dough will be crumbly.)
    7. Pat dough firmly and evenly into prepared pan. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are light brown. Cool in pan on a wire rack.
    8. Meanwhile prepare Meringue Icing. In a large bowl beat Confectioners’ sugar, ½ cup water, the meringue powder, and cream of tartar with mixer on high 3 to 5 minutes or until thick and fluffy.
    9. Divide three 1/4-cup portions into small bowls. Cover remaining Meringue Icing to prevent drying out.
    10. Tint 1/4-cup portions with paste food coloring to make red, light blue, and dark blue. Transfer each to a small resealable (sandwich) plastic bag.
    11. Evenly spread remaining Meringue Icing onto cooled cookie.
    12. For firework “burst” design, snip a small corner from each pastry bag. Pipe concentric circles in different sizes with tinted colors. Pull a toothpick from center to outer edge to create the firework pattern; wipe or replace the toothpick between each pull. Repeat as desired.
    13. Chill, uncovered, 2 hours or until icing sets. To store, cover loosely with foil and chill up to 3 days.

     

    Vanilla Flan

    After gobbling up a double batch of chips and guacamole followed by Sam Sifton’s Middle School Tacos, we ate this flan as our celebratory Cinco de Mayo dessert this year.

    A while ago, my son read a book that mentioned flan and he really wanted to make it. We actually made it together at that time. 🙂  It really is quite simple to prepare, and he felt like he had achieved a great accomplishment when it came out well. He’s been asking to have it again ever since!

    I think that it is particularly delicious served with strawberries. This recipe is a blend of multiple flan recipes- including one from my grandmother.

    Yield: One 8-inch flan

    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 5 large eggs
    • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (low fat can be substituted)
    • 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
    • 1 T pure vanilla extract
    • pinch of coarse salt
    • strawberries, for serving, optional
    1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, preferably on convection.
    2. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan; bring to a simmer and stir until sugar is dissolved.
    3. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, without stirring, occasionally swirling, until amber, about 5 to 7 minutes.
    4. Pour into a 1 1/2 to 2 qt (8-in) ceramic baking dish or 8-in cake pan, tilting to cover the bottom surface and halfway up the sides of the dish.
    5. Place the prepared dish on a dish towel or a silicone pot holder (to prevent it from shifting) inside a roasting pan. (I used an enameled cast iron lasagna pan.)
    6. Place the eggs, condensed milk, evaporated milk, vanilla, and salt in a Vitamix. Blend for 20 seconds. (Alternatively, mixture can be whisked in a bowl until combined.)
    7. Pour through a fine strainer into the prepared pan.
    8. Slide the oven rack out and place the roasting pan on the hot rack.
    9. Fill the outside of the pan with HOT water halfway up the sides of the flan dish.
    10. Bake for 60-70+ minutes, or until the center is wobbly.
    11. Remove from the oven; let cool to room temperature.
    12. Remove flan from the water bath. Cool and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
    13. Dip the bottom of the dish in warm water, then invert onto a rimmed platter. Serve.

    One Year Ago: Cheesy Enchilada Skillet

    Two Years Ago: Cinco de Mayo Chicken-Chipotle Tacos

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