April 2011



“Good morning! Today’s forecast calls for blue skies!”
Indeed, that is today’s forecast, but the sun was in short supply this past week, so I baked some up in the form of lemon squares. Almond-y shortbread crust with a bright lemon topping–this classic treat is as good as sunshine on a plate for this kat.

LEMON BARS
Adapted from Joy of Baking

FOR THE CRUST
1 cup flour (or better yet, 3/4 cup flour + 1/4 cup almond flour)
1/2 cup salted butter, softened
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

FOR THE TOPPING
2 eggs
juice of 2 large lemons
zest of one lemon
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
additional confectioners sugar to dust over the top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix flour, butter, salt, almond extract with a fork. Press crumbly mixture into a buttered 8 x 8 inch pan.


Bake for 20 minutes. Crust will be lightly golden at the edges. Cool on a wire rack. Now it’s time to make the lemon part. Ready?

Beat sugar, salt and eggs till smooth. Add lemon juice and zest. As always, scrape the zest down carefully, as it tends to stick to the beater or paddle. Fold in flour.

Pour over crust and bake for 20 minutes or until there is no imprint when you touch the center.

Freshly baked sunshine–straight outta the oven!

Cool completely, then dust with powdered sugar. Now they’re ready for cutting and eating. The bars will keep in an airtight container at room temperature up to three days (if they last that long in your house). You can keep them in the fridge, too.

The Queen, a true sun goddess, enjoyed some rays earlier this week.

While Queenie cannot vouch for the deliciousness of these bars, I certainly can! Care for a spot of sunshine?

Sending sunny thoughts your way today!
April Katt (Queenie) and her girl
>>^..^<<

Yesterday I made a rum cake for the first time. It was a holy experience. OK, hole-y is more accurate: you poke lotsa holes in the cake when it comes out of the oven so you can pour hot buttered rum syrup all over it to soak in. Heavenly!

I found a recipe in Southern Living to get started, tweaked with some good ideas from King Arthur Flour’s Harvey Wallbanger cake and from my faraway girlfriends who are near to my heart. My own katty thoughts are baked in, too, of course!  I couldn’t be happier with how this came out. I busted out the good rum for this effort.


CENT’ANNI!

KATTY’S RUM CAKE

THE CAKE
1 stick butter (salted), softened
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 ¼ cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
zest of one orange (1 tablespoon)
3/4 cup dark rum
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a Bundt pan.

Beat together sugar, butter and salt till fluffy. Add vegetable oil and vanilla. It’ll look like this.


Add eggs, one at a time, beating till each egg is fully incorporated. Add orange zest. Orange zest loves to hang out on the paddle, so be sure to scrape it off and get it into the batter where it belongs! Gradually add the rum next.

In a separate bowl, combine the  flour, baking powder and baking soda. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the sour cream to the batter, scraping down the bowl as you go.

Pour batter into Bundt pan and bake for 1 hour or until a pick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Place pan on wire rack to cool for 15 minutes.


Now it’s time to poke around! I used a knitting needle to make nice, deep holes all over the cake. A wooden skewer would do the trick, too. Lots of rummy, buttery goodness is coming, so make plenty of holes to catch it all! Let the cake cool 15 minutes before adding the syrup.


I love this cake a “hole” lot! HA HA! Now, let’s make the rum syrup!

HOT BUTTERED RUM SYRUP
1 stick butter (salted)
3/4 cup brown sugar
¼ cup water
½ cup dark rum

Melt butter. Stir in water and sugar. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.


Remove from heat, then stir in the rum.

Using a ladle makes it easy to make sure you get all those holes filled in.


Can you handle such rummy lusciousness? 🙂


Let stand 45 minutes till you take that leap of faith–please, please, please come out of the pan in one piece. Place a plate over the cake and invert it. You’ll hear that comforting SWOOSH as your cake releases perfectly from the pan and lands safely on your plate.

A perfect 10 on the dismount! YESSS!

At that moment, you’ll know life’s been good. Rock on! Remember, this cake tastes even better the next day as the rum is absorbed.

Breakfast is served!

Ever in the mood for just a little somethin’ sweet? Well, welcome to my world where I feel that way daily!

Yesterday I wanted to try a recipe from the Hartford Courant for almond shortbread, then thought, “Do I really want a whole pan of that in the house? No.” So I decided to halve the recipe and use the mini food processor to make it so. If you don’t have a food processor (mini or otherwise), simply buy almond flour and use a mixer. I already had almond flour on hand, but used the mini FP just to make sure it all fit–and it does!

I added almond extract to amp the almond-y-ness. You can top these with drizzled melted chocolate, but I kept ’em plain and simple.

ALMOND SHORTBREAD
adapted from the Hartford Courant Recipe Exchange and Linda Giuca

¼ cup almond flour (or ¼ cup almonds processed till finely ground in a food processor)
¼ cup sugar
1 cup flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 stick butter (salted), softened
3/4 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Add almond flour, sugar, flour and salt to bowl. Pulse to blend. Add softened butter and process till well blended. Again, if you’re not using a mini food processor, you can pull this off easily with a mixer.

Butter a 4 x 6″ (or similar) casserole dish. Pat dough into the dish, smooth the top of the dough as best you can, then score the dough into shapes. I cut into basic bars, then cut them into smaller bite-sized pieces when they were done baking. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. The top of the shortbread will be a pale golden color. Cut into the shapes you wish when the shortbread comes out of the oven. They may not be particularly pretty, but they are pretty tasty!


Outside Katty’s Kitchen, it’s pouring again. I promised I’d try to remember this song next time the rain came. It’s gotta be the happiest song about rain I know. Wishing you laughter in the rain as you walk off the calories from these scrumptious shortbread snickity-snacks!


If I’d known how ridiculously simple and delicious it is to make your own Irish cream, I’d have probably worn out the blender by now. Holy smokes! If you enjoy Bailey’s, you owe it to yourself to take this recipe for a spin soon. Curious? April Katt was!

KATTY’S IRISH CREAM

1 cup heavy cream
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup Jameson’s Irish Whiskey (I was a bit short of a cup, so I topped it with Maker’s Mark!)
½ teaspoon fine grind espresso
½ teaspoon cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
scant ¼ teaspoon almond extract

Ready for how easy this is? Pour all ingredients into blender and blend on high for about half a minute. Store in tightly sealed containers in the fridge. I understand this will keep for several weeks, though am not sure I’ll find out here a Casa Katty!

Shake it like ya mean it before you serve. Oh, and if straight up Irish cream isn’t enough deliciousness for you, try combining with Grand Marnier on the rocks for a French Kiss. MWAHH! It’s also quite nice in coffee and perfect as a nightcap, much like this Louis Prima tune: Buona Sera! And CENT’ANNI, AMICI!