Key Lime Pie Poke Cake

Key Lime Pie Poke Cake

As you probably guessed, Key Lime Pie (and key limes) come from the Keys. Many southerners consider the Florida line to be the official end of the south, but it is south of the Mason-Dixon so it counts.

When key lime pie is done right (i.e. made with key limes) it can be magical. Refreshing yet sweet, and creamy and cool.

All of the traditional Savannah restaurants offer some version of key lime pie on their dessert menu. When I speak of traditional Savannah restaurants I am referring to the ones that have been around forever, like the Olde Pink House or Garibaldi’s.

Since summer has officially begun in Savannah, it felt natural to make a southern dessert that is inspired by the season. Note: it is not officially summer, but when you live this deep in the south, the heat makes it feel like summer arrives early.

And to be completely honest, I did not feel like making a pie crust so baking a version of the dessert without a pie crust was my approach for this one. What is just as good a pie crust? Cake!

The base flavors/components for key lime pie recipes are always the same, key limes, graham cracker, and meringue. This recipe includes all of the essential components. A graham cracker cake, key lime pudding, toasted meringue, and a graham cracker crumb.

As for a poke cake, the concept is simple. Bake a one-layer cake in a cake pan and once it is cool poke holes into and pour something delicious over the cake. I finish my version off with a slathering of meringue and a blow torch.

 

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White Chocolate Mousse Tart + Pink Peppercorn Strawberry Sauce

White Chocolate Mousse Tart + Pink Peppercorn Strawberry Sauce

Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope your day is filled with joy and love–even if that means cuddling your dog a little extra.

I did not plan on posting for Valentine’s Day. That all changed when I watched the latest episode of Kids Baking Championship. I watch almost any baking show available.

On the last episode, the challenge was to create a tart with crazy ingredient. Pink peppercorns were one of the ingredients given to use. So, laying in bed, watching these kids kill it in the kitchen I thought, “I can do that!”

Strawberry, chocolate, and a little spice from peppercorns just seemed like the perfect Valentines combination. So the stars aligned, and this recipe would be the perfect one to post on Valentine’s.

Also, I knew my husband would love it. Two birds, one stone.

The tart itself is nothing crazy–simple dark chocolate pate sucree (crust) sits on the bottom with a swirled airy white chocolate mousse to full it. The crazy comes in with the sauce for the top, cooked down fresh strawberries with pulverized pink peppercorns.

Pink peppercorns work perfectly with fruit because they are much more floral than normal black peppercorns. They also have less of a peppery bite.

Finished tart ready to be served

This is not a beginners recipe so as always I want to give you a few tips to help:

  • Creating a light mousse only takes a few ingredients and proper technique. You use both meringue and whipped cream. To create a perfect meringue use room temperature egg whites and ensure there is not even a fleck of egg yolk in the whites.
  • Folding is how your incorporate meringue and whipped cream into the chocolate. Folding is not like whisking or stirring. To fold you gently cut down the middle of your mixture with a spatula, then fold over one half of the mixture over the second half. Repeat until everything is blended.
  • Always chill your tart shell before rolling it out, fit the shell to the tart pan once cooled, and also chill again before baking it once it is fit into the tart pan. This will prevent shrinkage.
  • Always poke holes with a fork in the bottom of the tart dough to prevent it from puffing during baking.

A close up of the tart

Pluot & Almond Galette

Pluot & Almond Galette

Summer is all about seasonal cooking with the freshest ingredients (and laying by the pool too), so when I make a trip to the store I grab the produce that looks best and is in season, it automatically drives what I will make next. The same applies if I spot something fun and unique that I have never tasted before–my mom taught me to try everything at least once. Not too long ago I spotted pluots, a plum and apricot hybrid. A fruit that has the best of both and that is easy to bake with.

Being lazy after a long summer day laying by the pool, I do not always have the most energy to really make my baked goods pretty. Sometimes you just want the end result without all of the work. A galette is perfect for that baker.

A galette is essentially a free form pie, great for those of us that struggle with making our baked goods pretty. A bit more rustic, you simply roll out your pie crust, pour your filling in the middle, and fold the edges up and over. The center stays open allowing the sugar in the filling to cook down and get extra gooey.

For this recipe I use brown sugar instead of regular sugar; it adds a deeper flavor to the baked good

There are a few tricks to remember when making a pie crust because we all know they can be very tricky:

  • Make sure your butter is very cold, the same applies if you are using lard or shortening.
  • Use a pastry cutter, and if you do not have one use a large fork.
  • Do not overwork or your pastry will become tough.
  • Adding a bit of vinegar allows the glutens to relax, so your dough is not tough.
  • Always let your dough rest in the fridge at least 30 minutes before using.

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A French Mousse Tart

A French Mousse Tart

Can you believe that Easter is almost here? It feels like just last week I was coming up with something to bake for Valentine’s Day. Regardless of your beliefs, I know for most people Easter is a wonderful time to dress up and enjoy a bountiful meal with your family.

Creamy deviled eggs, sticky glazed ham, and a few gooey casseroles are just some of the things my family normally fixes for Easter dinner. My favorite part of the meal are all of the desserts. Banana puddin’, humming bird cake, and pound cake are just some of the sweets you can normally expect one of our southern gatherings. Besides loading a tiny paper plate with a sampling of each pie, puddin’, or cake, I love being someone who contributes to the dessert table. My family responds a bit more positively to my baked goods than my covered dishes.

At least a week before the gathering, I thumb through my library of cook books or have a heated but friendly discussion with my husband on what to bake. The inspiration for this one came from a true classic: Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

The below recipe is adapted from her recipe for a normal Pate Sablee, a tender sweet tart crust and a Chocolate Mousse. If you have never made a mousse (this was my first time too) just remember to be gentle when folding in your egg whites. Mixing the egg whites in thirds will help with the process.

For this recipe you will want to start with the tart base. You have to let it rest in the fridge for several hours.

I topped the tart with those adorable milk chocolate eggs that you can find in the Easter candy section at the grocery store. They are so adorably festive, and they taste delicious too.

Chocolate Pate Sablee

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 Cups of Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons of Chilled Shortening
  • 5 Tablespoons of Cold Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons of Coco Powder
  • 1/8 Teaspoon of Baking Powder
  • 5 Tablespoons of Sugar
  • A Pinch of Salt
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Tablespoon of Cold Water

Directions:

  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine your flour, sugar, salt, coco powder, and baking powder. Stir to combine.
  2. With you finger tips, mix in the two types of fat. The ending result should look similar to dry oatmeal.
  3. Beat together your egg and water, then pour over your mixture.
  4. Kneed mixture together to create a ball.
  5. Wrap the dough and chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
  6. After chilled, roll out to appropriate size to fit a 9 or 10 inch tart pan.
  7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  8. Place dough in tart pan, cover dough with parchment paper and pie weights.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes.
  10. Remove and let cool completely before adding mousse.

Strawberry Mousse

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Pound of Fresh Strawberry’s, hulls removed
  • 1/4 Cup of Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon fo Fresh Lemon Juice
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 2 Eggs, separated
  • 1/2 Cup of Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Vanilla

Directions:

  1. Purée strawberries to create strawberry juice.
  2. In a small saucepan combine strawberry juice, lemon juice, sugar, and egg yolks. Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until mixture thickens to coat the back of a spoon.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  4. After the mixture has cooled, begin making your merengue. Beat the two egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  5. Working in thirds, gently fold in the egg whites into your chilled strawberry mixture. Place in the fridge to rest while you make the whipped cream.
  6. Whip the heavy whipping cream and vanilla with a mixer until stiff peaks form.
  7. Fold the whipped cream, working in thirds, until fully combined with the strawberry mixture.
  8. Evenly spoon into the bottom of your chilled tart crust. Only fill with enough mouse to create an amount even with the top of the tart shell.
  9. Allow to set in the fridge until the white chocolate mousse layer is ready to add.

White Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients:

  • 3 Eggs, divided
  • 1/3 Cup of Sugar Plus 1/2 Tablespoon
  • 4 Ounces of White Chocolate Chips, or 1/2 of a Cup
  • 5 Tablespoons of Butter, softened
  • 1/2 Cup of Heavy Whipping Cream Plus 2 Tablespoons

Directions:

  • Prepare a double boiler, heating the water over medium heat. In a bowl used for the double boiler, combine three egg yolks and 1/3 cup of sugar.
  • Whip the mixture, by hand or with a beater, until the eggs are pale yellow and fall back on themselves dissolving in a slow ribbon. Should take 3-4 minutes by hand.
  • Place the mixture over the double boiler and beat for another 3-4 minutes until the mixture is too warm to touch.
  • Remove from the heat and continue to beat the egg yolks until they form the consistency of mayonnaise, another 3-4 minutes. Set aside.
  • Using another bowl that will work as part of the double boiler, combine the white chocolate and 2 tablespoons of heavy cream.
  • Heat in the double boiler, constantly stirring until the chocolate has melted.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the softened butter, mixing until fully combined.
  • Combine your chocolate mixture and egg yolk mixture. Set aside.
  • With beaters or in a stand mixer, beat your egg whites until soft peaks form.
  • Pour in 1/2 Tablespoon of sugar, continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
  • In thirds, gently found the stiff egg whites into your white chocolate mixture. Set in the fridge while you make the whipped cream.
  • With beaters or in a stand mixer, beat the remaining heavy cream until it forms stiff whipping cream.
  • In thirds, gently fold the whipped cream into your white chocolate mixture.
  • Cover and let rest in the fridge for an hour.
  • When ready, use a piping bag with the desired tip to pipe the mousse as the top layer of your tart.
  • Cover and let the completed tart set up in the fridge for at least two more hours.
  • When ready to serve, top with desired decoration. I used chocolate milk eggs.