Archive for category Carrie’s Confections

Carrie’s Confections: Raspberry Lemon Thumbprint Cookies

Monthly Feature
Looking to make a dynamite dessert? Carrie has you covered!

First, a family confession. My mom has a bit of a lemon addiction. Anytime she sees a recipe for something with lemon she feels compelled to add it to her recipe collection. Last time I helped her organize her recipes there were hundreds of recipes for lemony creations…chicken, curd, dessert bars, cakes…you name it, it was there. So when she sent this recipe to me after making it for a Christmas cookie exchange in 2005, I figured it was just another tart treat, but nothing extraordinary. Boy, was I wrong. She found a winner with this one. Thanks, Mom! (You’ll be thanking her, too!)

½ C raspberry jam or jelly
1 Tbsp Chambord, Kirsch, or other raspberry liquor
2¼ C all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2 sticks of butter, room temperature
2/3 C sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 Tbsp lemon zest, finely grated
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 C confectioner’s sugar
1½ tsp almond extract
2 tsp water

Preheat oven to 350˚. In a small bowl, combine jam and raspberry liquor. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt, whisking to blend.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar using an electric mixer until light and creamy. Beat in egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla. Add the flour mixture in 2 additions and beat just until moist clumps form. Gather dough into a ball.

Using a 1” scoop (or you can eyeball it), form dough into balls. Place 1” apart on baking sheets. Use finger or back of a ½ teaspoon measuring spoon to create depressions in the center of each ball. Fill indentation with nearly ½ teaspoon for jam mixture. Bake 13-14 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

In a small bowl, whisk together confectioner’s sugar, almond extract and water. After cookies have cooled, drizzle back and forth across cookies.

Yields 2½ – 3 dozen cookies

The taste: The cookie is a flaky, shortbread base with a hint of lemon. Pair this with the touch of raspberry in the center and the hint of almond in the glaze and you’ve got a winning cookie! Yum, yum!

The ease: Although these look difficult to make, they are simple. The most difficult part is rolling the dough into balls and pressing divots to hold the raspberry filling.

The fat-assness: With two sticks of butter for 36ish cookies means approximately ½ tablespoon of butter per cookie. You may have a fat ass after eating these, but it will be worth it!

The cleanup: 4 bowls, the mixer and utensils. And, 2 cookie sheets. Or, you can take my favorite easy route and line the sheets with parchment paper. Easy schmeasy.

The verdict: They look beautiful (this batch doesn’t look so hot, as the Texas heat got to them), taste delicious and are simple. What’s not to like about that?

The variation: Although I haven’t done it, I imagine that using orange zest and juice for the lemon (sorry, Mom) and strawberry jam for the raspberry would be a delicious alternative.

The tip: When making cookies, always beat the butter and sugar more than you think you should. It should lighten in color and look fluffy. Then, once the flour is added, beat minimally, just enough to combine the ingredients. You’ll get tender, flaky cookies every time!


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Carrie’s Confections: Fresh Fruit Tart

Monthly Feature
Gotta sweet tooth? Carrie has you covered!

This recipe is one of my favorites. It’s tasty and has a great presentation. Like all desserts, it’s great after dinner, but because it is light and fruity, it also makes a great dessert for brunches.

The taste: This is a great dessert to impress guests, as it looks as beautiful as it tastes. The crust is similar to a shortbread cookie. Buttery, flaky yumminess. Layer that with sweet cream cheese and fresh fruit and voila! The recipe calls for a limeade-based glaze which offers a nice hint of tartness.

The ease: The glaze is the only part of this recipe that seems troublesome. So, if you want to substitute a quick glaze to make your fruit shine, melt some apple or apricot jelly and brush it on top. You won’t get the little tang from the acidic lime, but it may be worth it for ease of preparation.

The fat-assness: It’s a Paula Deen recipe, people. There’s a fair amount of butter in the crust which probably more than offsets any of the semi-justifiable health benefits of the fruit. And, the danger with this desert is that it’s so light and delicious that it’s hard to eat just one piece. In fact, I guarantee that if you manage to have some left over, you’ll end up eating it for breakfast the next day.

The cleanup: 2 bowls, the tart pan and the pot for the glaze. The pot is a bit of a pain to clean up because of the stickiness factor, but other than that, it’s a breeze.

The verdict: This is straight-up delicious. It’s simple and elegant, perfect for parties, dinner guests, or just the fam. Trust me…make this once and it will become one of your go-to recipes too!

The variation: While this isn’t the wildest variation, changing out the fruit keeps this recipe interesting and customizable. In addition to the berries that I used this time, you could also use kiwi, mango, or even mandarin oranges. Also, this recipe can be used to make beautiful individual tarts. This takes a little more time and care, but it’s worth it when each guest gets their own dessert.

The tip: Don’t bother with the food processor to make the crust…just get in there with your hands. You may get a little messier, but washing your hands sure beats washing the food processor!



Carrie’s Confections: Faux Trifle

Monthly Feature
Got a sweet tooth? Carrie has you covered!

After all of the buzz surrounding the nuptials of William & Kate, I was inspired to whip up my quick and easy adaptation of an English trifle to take to Easter dinner. Now, I’m sure anyone of English descent would quickly take aim at me for even daring to compare this to their beloved sweet treat. Traditionally, a trifle is made of layers of jam filled sponge cake, custard, cream (all homemade, of course) and fruit. But, hey, we’re here in America…land of convenience and gluttony, so this version uses white cake, fruit, vanilla pudding and whipped cream (or, if you prefer chocolate, see the variation). How can that be bad?

1 boxed white cake
1 large (5.1 oz) package of instant vanilla pudding
3 cups fresh fruit (use any combo you like; I’m partial to strawberries, raspberries & blueberries), chopped
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 Tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

Prepare cake according to directions on box; however, bake in a 9×17” jelly roll pan. Bake approximately 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Set aside to cool. **If you don’t have a jelly roll pan, you can make in a regular 9×13 pan, but you will need to cut this like a layer cake and then in bite sized pieces so that the pieces are not too thick.

Prepare pudding according to directions. Leave in refrigerator until ready to assemble trifle.

Mix whipping cream, vanilla, and confectioner’s sugar until firm peaks form.

Cut cake into bite-sized pieces. Place pieces in bottom of a trifle bowl or other deep glass bowl to form a solid cake layer. Top with 1/3 of the pudding, 1/3 of the fruit and 1/3 of the whipped cream. Repeat to make 3 full layers. Decorate top with fruit and refrigerate until ready to serve!

The taste: This is a surprisingly light treat that is especially great in the hot summer months. It’s cool and refreshing with great vanilla flavor from the cake and pudding that is complimented by the fresh fruit. If summer had a taste, this might be it!

The ease: Super simple! And, although I’m violently opposed, if you want to use Cool Whip instead of making your own whipped cream, it would save you some time. This is a great recipe to throw together when you don’t have a lot of time, but it tastes even better when it has had some time to sit in the fridge.

The fat-assness: At least it includes fruit! And maybe, if you eat enough of it, your daily dose of dairy!

The cleanup: Not bad. 4 bowls, a couple of measuring spoons and cups, a jelly roll pan, and the serving bowl.

The verdict: This really is a great go-to dessert. It is super simple, delicious and beautiful, too! This makes a great Memorial Day or 4th of July dessert when you use the trio of berries.

The variation: For the chocolate lovers – use chocolate cake and pudding instead of vanilla, and replace fruit with crushed Heath bars or Oreos. Trust me, it’s divine, but this version is a little more of a guilty pleasure!

The tip: When separating eggs for the white cake, crack the egg and place into your hand (which is over the bowl!). Gently transfer the yolk back and forth between your hands until all of the white is in the bowl. Although this is a little messy, it doesn’t require any gadgets and it’s easier than using the shell to separate, as this can puncture the yolk.


Carrie’s Confections: Luscious Lemon Cheesecake

Monthly Feature
Carrie has a sweet tooth. You benefit.

In honor of my mother’s birthday, this month I bring you her favorite dessert. This recipe was given to her by a friend many years ago. It is originally from a magazine, although which one or when it was published are unknown. Regardless of it’s origin, it is a winner. Every time I serve this dessert, there are oohs and aahs, even from self-proclaimed cheesecake-haters! A light, refreshing dessert, this would make a wonderful addition to your Easter table.

2 cups crushed graham crackers (I use cinnamon)
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350°. Mix graham crackers and butter until well combined. Press into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9” buttered springform pan. Bake for 5 minutes. Set aside.

3-8oz packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon grated lemon peel
2 teaspoons vanilla

Beat cream cheese until soft. Gradually blend in sugar. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Mix in lemon juice, lemon peel and vanilla. Pour into prepared crust and bake until slightly puffed, approximately 40 minutes.

2 cups sour cream
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Blend all topping ingredients. Spread on hot filling and bake additional 15 minutes. Cool cake 30 minutes.

¾ cup water
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 egg yolk
½ cup sugar
1 ½ Tablespoons corn starch
¼ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons lemon peel

In a heavy saucepan, combine water, lemon juice and egg yolk. Stir in sugar and corn starch. Bring to a boil over low-medium heat, stirring constantly, approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in salt, butter, and lemon peel. Stir until butter melts. Cool for 20 minutes and then spread on cake. Place cheesecake in refrigerator and remove 20-30 minutes before serving. Best when made a day ahead.

The taste: Yum, yum, yum! This is a creamy, light, lemony filling topped with a rich sour cream topping and a tart glaze. The various textures layer together to make a winning combination. And, how can you go wrong placing all of that goodness in a simple cinnamon graham cracker crust?

The ease: I used to think this recipe was a real pain, but now that it’s a regular in my repertoire, I don’t think it’s so bad. The key is to squeeze the lemon juice and zest the peel for the filling and the glaze at the beginning. And, making this the day ahead is crucial. It allows the flavors to meld and the cake to get good and cold. Make this when you have plenty of time, and you’ll love it, too!

The fat-assness: OK…it’s cheesecake. Maybe we can make ourselves feel better by saying that we are getting our citrus and dairy in, but let’s be honest, this is not on anyone’s diet.

The clean up: 3 bowls, mixer, 1 pan, measuring cups and spoons and the springform pan. Somehow I always manage to make my kitchen look like a bomb went off when I make this cake, but I think this speaks more to how I cook than the recipe itself!

The verdict: The telltale sign of a favorite recipe in my collection is one with lots of crud splattered onto it. This one is nearly illegible at this point. It is an amazing, and yes, luscious, springtime treat! Enjoy!

The tip: Have you ever nearly blinded yourself when trying to juice a lemon? Before squeezing, poke the halved lemon with a knife. By making these little cuts in the lemon, you make it softer and easier to squeeze…no lemon juice in the eye!

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