Coconut Lemon Macaroon Bird Nests

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Sometime around second grade, I decided to start “collecting” things. I can’t remember if I had read about collections in a book, been inspired by a friend, or if it was just what the cool kids did, but for some reason or another I got it in my head that I needed to start a collection. Of something. Of anything. Two weeks later I had a desk drawer filled with about 100 shiny Wrigley’s gum wrappers, 3 of those fancy little plastic toothpicks you get from a restaurant, 2 tiny “pizza tables” (the white plastic things that separate pizza from the top of the box, which happen to make marvelous doll house tables), a handful of bouncy balls, and about 50 Bazooka bubblegum comics. Apparently it’s much easier to beg your parents for a pack of gum every time you go to the store than to accumulate a satisfactory amount of pizza tables. Collections are definitely a “quantity vs. quality” kind of deal…you can have a million foil gum wrappers and gloat about the nice big collection you have, or you can have two preciously rare pizza tables that are technically called a pair, not a collection. Whatever, I was happy.

I quickly outgrew my “collection” phase for the trivial gum wrappers, bouncy balls, etc. (quite possibly because of the day my dog snuck into my room and used her supersonic beagle nose to scout out what she thought was a delectable pile of gum-scented chewing material), but I hung on to some of my more prized collections. Like my bird nests, for instance.

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Bird nests fell into the “quality” type of collection. Ever since my brother and I were tiny, we were constantly on the lookout for empty fallen bird nests to study, treasure, and place on a shelf in our living room. Whenever we were lucky enough to come across an idolized bird nest, we would speculate as to what type of bird used to live in it, how many baby birds had hatched in it, and where they’d all flown off to. Now I’m not quite sure if our nests had such happy stories behind them…*ahem*…but we sure did love our nest collection.

When I saw these adorable little nest cookies on Two Peas and Their Pod, one of my favorite blogs, I knew I had to make them! We’re talking sweet, chewy lemon-coconut macaroon “nests” filled with lemon curd and jelly bean “eggs”…what more can you want in a springtime treat? The sun is shining, birds are chirping, and I have a plateful of bird nest cookies in the fridge….life is good. 🙂 Happy Easter Weekend, everyone!

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Coconut Lemon Macaroon Bird Nests

Yield: 1 dozen cookies

2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp fresh lemon zest

Pinch of salt

3 & 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

To decorate:

1 cup store-bought or homemade lemon curd

36 jelly beans

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with silicon baking mats or parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir together the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt until smooth. Stir in the coconut until well-combined.

Scoop the mixture into about 2-inch balls and place on prepared cookie sheets. With damp fingers, form the dough into “nest” shapes by using your thumbs to make an imprint in the center of each cookie. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden-brown. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 5 minutes before removing to a rack.

When the cookies are completely cool, fill each “nest” with about 1 Tbs lemon curd. Press 2 or 3 jelly beans into each nest. Store the cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

(Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)

Maple-Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

IMG_3264 To use a much-hated clichĂ©, there are two kinds of people in the world: breakfast-lovers and breakfast-haters. I know many people whose favorite meal of the day is breakfast, who love everything from pancakes to eggs to bacon, who savor their morning meal like no other. I’m also aware that for some people, breakfast is their nemesis. Whether it’s because they like to sleep right up until 5 minutes before they have to leave for work/school, because they have zero appetite so early in the morning, or because they simply can’t stand having to put a meal together first-thing, those in the breakfast-hating category have some reason or another to steer clear of “the most important meal of the day,” as it’s so often labeled.

Speaking to the members of both camps, I think you’ll like this little recipe for Maple-Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies. They’re not nearly as sweet as most cookies, instead getting their wonderful flavor from nutty toasted oats and pure maple syrup. The cookies manage to be both chewy and crunchy at the same time, with crisp edges and soft centers. Made with ingredients that you most likely already have in your cupboard, they took no time at all to mix up. Those of you who read my blog regularly know that I don’t usually share nutritional information for my recipes (mainly because I don’t know it myself and don’t want to take the time and energy to calculate it…plus I prefer to bask in ignorance concerning the unhealthier treats on here ;)), but since these are so minimal in the ingredient department and so much healthier than other cookies I figured I might as well boast their low-calorie, low-fat, low-sugar qualities. Finally, a cookie you can (justifiably) eat for breakfast!

Breakfast-lovers will hopefully add these cookies to their arsenals, and I urge you breakfast-haters out there to bake these up and keep them on hand for a boost of energy in the morning. I find it hard to believe that even the most ardent of breakfast-loathers could resist these Maple-Oatmeal Cookies!

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Maple-Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

Yield: 2 dozen cookies

2 cups old-fashioned oats

3/4 cup + 2 Tbs whole wheat or all-purpose flour

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp salt

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/4 cup canola oil

2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the oats in a large, wide skillet. Cook over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until oats are fragrant and golden. Let the oats cool for a few minutes.

Place the toasted oats into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the applesauce, oil, maple syrup, and vanilla. Stir the maple mixture into the oats until well-combined.

Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons onto lined or greased cookie sheets. With wet fingers, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until cookies are golden-brown. Let cookies cool on the sheets for 3 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

(Recipe adapted from Whole Foods Market)

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Nutritional Information:

For 1 cookie (assuming 24 cookies total):

Calories: 80

Fat: 2.8 g

Total Carbohydrate: 12 g

Sugar: 4.9 g

Protein: 1.3 g

Lemon Ricotta Muffins

IMG_3247As they say, spring has sprung! Kind of. Yesterday, the first official day of spring, I woke up to sheets of rain pelting against my window, 32 mph gusts of wind, and a thin layer of ice on my windshield. Not to mention the fact that with daylight savings time in full effect, the sky was still dark gray. It was lovely.

Instead of moping around resenting the weather’s apparent ignorance that every day should now be sunny, clear, and warm, I decided to bake something that would usher in a little bit of spring vibe…which to me, always means one thing: lemon. A quick peek in my baking cupboard led me to find an unopened package of the cutest purple polka-dot muffin liners, which I just had to use. The combination of lemon-yellow, purple muffin liners, and polka dots was far too springish (no, spellcheck, that is indeed a word) to pass up….I mean, really.

Not only were these muffins beautiful with their sunshiny yellow color, sparkly sugar tops, and pretty purple muffin liners, they tasted fabulous! The zesty lemon flavor was pronounced but not overpowering, the tops had a little crunch from a sprinkle of sugar, and the insides were tender and sweet. The ricotta cheese gave the muffins a hint of cream cheese-like flavor and helped keep the muffins nice and soft. Using ricotta makes the batter very thick, almost like a dough, but fear not…the muffins bake up perfectly light and delicious.IMG_3243

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until the weather around here shapes up, I guess I’ll just keep eating Lemon Ricotta Muffins and pretending that it’s spring. With a 30% chance of snow showers tomorrow night, that may be hard to do…wish me luck!

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Lemon Ricotta Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup granulated sugar

1 Tbs lemon zest (from about 2 large lemons)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 large egg

1 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Coarse sugar, for sprinkling

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Place the sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl. Using your fingers, rub the lemon zest into the sugar. Add the softened butter to the bowl and mix with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add in the ricotta cheese and beat until well-combined. Beat in the egg, lemon juice, and vanilla, scraping down the bowl as needed.

Using a rubber spatula, stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients just until combined. The batter will be very thick. Scoop the batter into prepared muffin tins, then sprinkle the tops with coarse sugar. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until muffin tops are slightly golden and bounce back when lightly touched. Cool the muffins for 5 minutes, then remove from muffin tins. Serve warm or store in an airtight container at room temperature.

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(Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip-Pretzel Cookies

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You know that a batch of cookies is going to be good when, while forming the dough into balls, you start to fear that certain trouble could ensue…i.e. uncontrollable “tasting,” and result in all that wonderful dough being consumed before ever making it into the cookie stage. It would be a very sad day indeed if these cookies never actually became cookies, which is why I had to strategically shove a stick of gum into my mouth so the dough would be safe. Luckily the dough balls made it into the oven un-eaten, and ten minutes later I pulled out these amazing Browned Butter Chocolate Chip-Pretzel Cookies.

These are not your average chocolate chip cookies. First, you brown a stick and a half of butter. For those of you who have never made brown butter, don’t be afraid! All you have to do is heat the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, and wait for it to brown. You’ll know it’s ready when it’s turned golden-brown, little dark flecks have appeared, and it smells like heaven on earth–rich, nutty, and caramely. Just be careful, because in a matter of seconds your glorious browned butter can turn into bitter burned butter. Been there, done that.

Rather than adding the liquid browned butter right into the cookie dough, it’s chilled for a few hours to come back to a solid state. This helps your cookies stay thick and tall rather than flat and greasy, which can happen if melted butter is used rather than creamed, solid butter. After the butter has chilled, you can get started with the cookie dough. It’s similar to your basic chocolate-chip cookie recipe, but with a few twists…the recipe calls for cornstarch, which works its magic and makes the cookie dough extra thick and the baked cookies extra soft. These babies will stay soft for days! Genius.

Next you stir in 1 & 1/2 cups of mix-ins…I used milk chocolate chips and broken-up pretzels this time, and the result was a super-delicious sweet & salty combo. The depth of flavor from the browned butter, sweetness from the milk chocolate, and salty crunch from the pretzels all rolled into a thick, soft, chewy cookie was out of this world! That said, throw in whatever you like…any type of chocolate chips, chopped up candy bars, nuts, etc. Then it’s back to the fridge to let the dough stiffen up a little and the flavors meld together.

I have to say, making these cookies took a great deal of willpower and a great deal of patience. Between chilling the browned butter and chilling the cookie dough we’re talking 4 hours of refrigeration, and as mentioned above the actual shaping of cookie dough was quite an exercise of self restraint…the smell of that browned butter dough is intoxicating! In a good way. The good news is that you don’t have to make these all in one day…the browned butter can hang out in the fridge for days, as well as the cookie dough. Heck, you could even roll the dough into balls and freeze them! I’m not sure why you’d want to wait any longer than absolutely necessary before stuffing your face with these cookies, but it’s an option. 🙂 The second good news (for lack of better phrasing) is that all your patience and willpower pays off as soon as you sink your teeth into the finished product. I’m not sure I’ll be able to go back to regular cookies made with regular butter after baking these!

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Browned Butter Chocolate Chip-Pretzel Cookies

Note: This recipe includes two steps that require refrigeration, so plan accordingly.

3/4 cup (1 and 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter

3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp cornstarch

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup milk chocolate chips

1/2 cup broken-up pretzels

Directions:

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Watch the butter closely, whisking constantly. It will foam up and bubble, and after about 5 minutes it will turn golden-brown and dark flecks will appear. As soon as this happens, pour the butter into a shallow bowl. It should smell nutty and caramel-like. Keep a close eye on the butter as it cooks, because butter can go from browned to burned in just a few seconds. Refrigerate the browned butter for at least 2 hours, or until it returns to its solid state.

After the butter has chilled for a few hours, place it in a large mixing bowl. Beat for about 1 minute or until creamy. Add in the sugars and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla until smooth. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and pretzel pieces. Cover the dough and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats. Roll the dough into balls using about 1.5 tablespoons per ball. (You’ll be best off using your hands since the dough will be pretty thick and crumbly.) Place cookies on prepared sheets about 2 inches apart and bake for 8-10 minutes or until just barely golden-brown around the edges. It’s okay if they look a little underdone–you don’t want to overcook these!

Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 3 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container. Yield: about 24 cookies.

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(Recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction)

Miniature Tarts with Cream Cheese Crust

tarts_2I still vividly remember the day I got my mini tart pan. It was one of those dreaded days for a 6-year-old where my dad had to work, my brother had some sort of play date, and my mom had a meeting to attend at a friend’s house. I, of course, had no choice but to go to the meeting as well. Lucky for me, one of my mom’s friends was selling products from a baking company, and as we sat in the living room a catalog was passed around. Of course while sitting in a circle of friends, one of whom is presenting merchandise, there’s naturally some pressure to buy something. It’s one of those things, such as spending 45 minutes talking after having your plates cleared at a restaurant or knowing to never wear black socks with brown shoes, that my dad will never understand but is basically written into my mom’s genes.

Since I was with her at this little marketing spiel, my mom told me that I could pick one thing out of the catalog to order. After much debate, I selected the miniature tart pan, which looked to be perfect for making adorable, tiny little tarts and muffins. I loved the nursery rhyme The Queen of Hearts (who made some tarts, all on a summer’s day….any pre-90’s kids out there?) which probably contributed to my decision as well. Back then the main character of one of my favorite nursery rhymes was definitely a major idol of mine, right after MLK, Lindsay Lohan–who I thought was two different people thanks to the incredibly deceiving movie The Parent Trap–and Santa Claus. Only one of those idols still remains on the list. Can you guess who?

A few weeks of excruciating patience later, my pan finally arrived! I remember slipping it out of its tight plastic wrapping (which required scissors and the closest available parent) and running my hands down its dark, smooth surface. The pan also came with a little recipe booklet and a wooden tart tamper, which I felt so sophisticated using.

I can’t remember making any crust other than the Cream Cheese Crust recipe featured in the recipe booklet, which was about as simple as it gets: 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup butter, and 1/2 cup cream cheese. (I’ve adapted it a little in the recipe below.) Over the years I made mini tarts again and again for tea parties, neighborhood gatherings, and on the occasional mid-morning whim. I experimented with different fillings, which included strawberry jam, chocolate kisses, lemon pudding, and my favorite, cherry preserves. For a while it was a 3-person project between my mom, my brother, and I. We would make the dough, roll it into little balls, squish the tart tamper into each cup (my favorite part), bake the shells, and fill the tarts. I learned the hard way that you should never be stingy when it comes to greasing the pan, that having a container of flour on hand for dusting the tamper in between squishes is an absolute necessity, and the charcoal-y flavor of burnt tarts can be nicely masked by an extra-large spoonful of lemon pudding placed in the center. What can I say…practice makes perfect!

If you happen to be a proud owner of a miniature tart (aka mini-muffin) pan, try these! The crust is flakey, delicate, and has an extra-rich flavor from the cream cheese, and the lemon curd filling is thick, sweet, and just a bit tart. Not to mention that these itty bitty baby pies are so freaking cute! That said, if you want to make these in a regular muffin pan you totally can. They just won’t be as cute. Yes, I realize that some people don’t care about the cuteness factor of their baked goods but I’m just saying…

I just now realized that I was going to center this post around the fact that yesterday was Pi Day (3/14, get it?), which is why I made the tarts in the first place (to bring to my Calculus class). Being me, of course I got sidetracked with my reminiscence of the good ole tart-making days. Whoops.tarts_5

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Cream Cheese Crust

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

4.5 oz cold cream cheese, cut into small pieces

Directions:

Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in the butter and cream cheese until the mixture is crumbly. Pat the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease and flour a 24-cup mini muffin pan or a regular 12-cup muffin pan. Divide dough into 24 pieces and roll into balls. Place each ball into a muffin cup and press into the bottom and sides. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until tarts are golden. (If using a 12-cup muffin tin, bake for about 20 minutes.) Cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then gently remove onto a wire rack. Cool completely before filling.

Lemon Tarts: After baked tart shells have cooled, fill each shell with store-bought or homemade lemon curd (recipe below).

Chocolate Kiss Tarts: After the shells have baked for 5 minutes, remove from oven and press a chocolate kiss into each tart. Continue baking for 5-10 minutes or until crust is golden. Cool tarts for at least 30 minutes before serving so that the chocolate can re-harden.

Cherry, Strawberry, or Raspberry Tarts: Fill the baked, cooled tart shells with fruit preserves.

Lemon Filling

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 Tbs cornstarch

1/8 tsp salt

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 1 large lemon)

Zest of 1/2 a lemon

3 large egg yolks or 1 whole egg + 1 yolk

1 Tbs unsalted butter

Directions:

In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, salt, water, lemon juice, zest, and egg yolks. Add in the butter and place pan over medium heat. Cook, whisking constantly and scraping along the bottom and sides, until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Let it boil for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly, and the pour the mixture into a medium-mesh strainer placed over a bowl. When all the lemon filling has drained into the bowl and only the zest and large particles remain in the strainer, remove the strainer and let the filling cool to room temperature. Then place a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the filling and store in the refrigerator. The filling can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

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(Lemon Filling and Cream Cheese Crust adapted from the 75th Anniversary Edition of The Joy of Cooking)

Orange Chocolate Chip Scones

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It’s a bit of a struggle to sit here and type this post. As much as I love putting together new recipes for my readers, there is something outside right now that makes me want to gravitate to the front door and step out. It’s something that rarely shows up around here, and brings with it warmth and hope and vitamins and general all-around happiness. Yep, I’m talking about the sun. Sadly, it tends to hide beneath a thick layer of gray clouds for about 9 months of the year around here, and when it finally shows its face it’s pretty much cause for celebration. While the Pacific Northwest is home to tons of amazing things such as the Cascade and Olympic mountains, apple orchards, the first Starbucks, Macklemore, and of course the ocean, it doesn’t have much to boast about when it comes to days of sunshine, contrary to what those touristy travel brochures will tell you. You know it’s the truth when the first sunny day of spring results in your entire newsfeed on Facebook being filled with nothing but statuses about the sun. Sad, yet true.

If I had any sense at all, I’d be cutting to the chase right about now so I can go outside and enjoy this beautiful, blue-skyed day! Here’s the gist of it:

-I’ve been trying to branch out from trying so many recipes off of blogs, Pinterest, and other Internet sources and instead experience the old-fashioned baking nostalgia that can only come from following a recipe off of a real-life, 3-dimensional, flour-stained cookbook. So instead of scouring my millions of bookmarked recipes-to-try, I pulled out my copy of The Joy of Cooking and leafed through the pages until I found….

-Orange Chocolate Chip Scones, today’s featured recipe. Perfect for spring, perfect for breakfast, brunch, snacks, desserts…the list goes on and on. Tender, slightly flaky, not-too-sweet scones with a dose of fresh orange zest and decadent dark chocolate make for a fabulous Saturday morning treat. Or a Sunday brunch addition. Or a late-night snack on Monday. You get the point…

-Don’t skimp on the chocolate here. Dark chocolate and orange is my favorite combo, but use whatever type you like. Just make sure it’s good-quality chocolate, since the orange zest and chocolate are the major players here. The combination is so good. So very, very good.

-I’m going to go enjoy my sun now, before it disappears. Happy scone-making!

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Orange Chocolate Chip Scones

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/4 tsp baking powder

3 Tbs granulated sugar*

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut into small cubes

2 large eggs

1/3 cup whipping cream

1 Tbs fresh orange zest

1/2 cup dark or bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Sugar, for sprinkling

*If you like sweeter scones, add in an extra tablespoon or two of sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in the cold butter until it’s the size of small peas.

Whisk the eggs in a small bowl. Reserve 2 Tbs of the beaten eggs. Whisk the cream into the remaining eggs. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the egg/cream mixture, the orange zest, and the chocolate chips. Gently fold the mixture together until barely combined. Be careful not to over-mix, or the scones will be tough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface or a silicone baking mat. The dough should stick together but still be pretty “shaggy.” If it’s way too dry, drizzle a little cream onto the dough, about 1 teaspoon at a time, until it can be patted into a disc. Pat the dough into an 8-inch circle and then cut into 8-12 wedges. If you’re using a silicone mat, just slip the mat onto a cookie sheet and slightly separate the wedges. Otherwise, place the wedges onto a lightly greased cookie sheet.

Brush the scones with reserved eggs and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until tops are golden-brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. These are best eaten the day they are made, but can be stored in an airtight container for several days.

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(Recipe from the 75th Anniversary-edition of The Joy of Cooking)

Fresh Lime “Brownies”

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I was about 6 years old when I learned that there was more than one way to peel a banana. Like most people, I had always peeled from the top down, meaning I started by snapping the stem-like portion that had been attached to the bunch and then peeling downward. Then one day, my banana would not peel. I tried again and again to break the stem, but as you experienced-banana-peelers can imagine it just got weaker and weaker and less likely to break. So my mom gently took the banana from me, turned it upside-down, pressed her thumb under the bottom, and neatly peeled it from the bottom up. I laughed and ate it holding onto the stem, feeling like I was eating the banana upside-down. But was I? Maybe I had been eating bananas upside-down all along, and this was the right way to do it. Or maybe there was no right way or wrong way.

Sorry for the banana analogy. I’m not just spouting out a random stream of consciousness; I do have a point here. What I’m getting at is that we’re often taught that there are “right” ways of doing things and “wrong” ways. Our culture expects us to like certain things, behave in certain ways, dress in certain styles, etc. If I was a perfectly stereotypical American I would love watching football games, eat at fast-food restaurants at least twice a week, and own at least 5 pieces of technology. If I was a stereotypical Pacific Northwestern teenage girl I would probably own at least 1 pair of Ugg boots, spend way too much time online shopping at Forever 21, and consider chocolate an evil enemy/beloved savior. Being me, I absolutely hate football (warning: do not say this on the Friday of high school homecoming or you will be met with a classroom-full of stunned, disbelieving, borderline-hostile stares…or in some cases, glares); couldn’t eat at fast-food restaurants if I wanted to since I live a boat-ride away from them; own a cell phone, iPod, lap top, and two computers; just might have three pairs of Ugg boots sitting in my closet; spend a reasonable amount of time online shopping at Forever 21; and can take chocolate or leave it. Some parts of me are probably subconsciously shaped by the status quo, but others are not. Which is good.

The bottom line is that it’s okay to “peel your banana the wrong way” because it isn’t wrong. If you’re a person who happens to hate chocolate, contrary to the thousands of chocaholic people out there who wax poetic on the stuff and claim to be unable to comprehend what possibly goes on in the minds of those who prefer vanilla, that’s okay. You’re not crazy; you don’t have terrible taste; you don’t need to be pitied. You just aren’t that crazy about chocolate. All of this deep contemplating has been intended to make those of you who are chocolate-haters (or even chocolate moderates) feel okay about yourselves. Not everyone has to choose triple-fudge brownie ice cream over vanilla. You are good, smart, capable, tasteful people too! And fortunately for you, I have an alternative to brownies…I call them Limies, or lime brownies.

Their dense, slightly chewy texture is similar to that of brownies, but instead of having a rich chocolate flavor they’re light and citrus-y. Imagine taking a piece of zesty lime pound cake, making it a little more fluffy and cake-like (this is more theoretical than logic, as I have no idea how one would go about making a piece of pound cake more “fluffy”), shaping it into little squares and then covering it with a lime glaze. The bars’ citrus-packed flavor makes them perfect for spring, and their green color would be great for St. Patrick’s Day! For those of you who want a break from chocolate brownies but don’t want to give up the dense, chewy texture, make these! Lime-lovers will go crazy…and if you aren’t a lime lover, you can use lemons instead. In the case that you’re a person who doesn’t like the taste of chocolate, lime, or lemon, I totally take back the part where I said you were a good, smart, capable, tasteful person. Just kidding! I think.

Enjoy these beauties!

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Fresh Lime “Brownies”

For the bars:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 1/2 tsp lime zest

2 Tbs lime juice

2 large eggs

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

For the glaze:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 Tbs lime juice

2 tsp lime zest

1-2 drops green food coloring, if desired

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8″x8″ glass pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Using your fingers, combine the lime zest with the sugar until well-incorporated. Then beat  the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, followed by the lime zest. Mix in the flour and salt until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing down the top. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until edges are golden-brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool bars completely.

Meanwhile, make the glaze by whisking together the powdered sugar, lime juice, lime zest, and food coloring. Spread the glaze over the cooled bars and allow it to set before slicing.

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(Recipe adapted from Budding Baketress)