Lemon Almond CheesecakeSUMMARY – lemon and almonds balance out in this light and creamy cheesecake. This is 5-star restaurant dessert!

egg-whites-in-spongecake-layer

I admit that I was worried about this recipe due to my sad encounter with lemon curd in the tart tart a few weeks ago. Others around me had a similar reaction.

spongecake-batter-ready-for-baking

“I’m making cheesecake this weekend for my baking project.”

“REALLY?” Smiles and excitement! “That’s great! What kind of cheesecake?”

“Lemon almond.”

Fallen sad faces. “Oh.”

cooling-spongecake

Such a supportive bunch.

spongecake-bases

Before I even started the cake, I decided to skip the lemon curd. I was not going through that whole too tart thing again!

ground-almonds

I also decided to make mini-cheesecakes. I’ve had mini brioche paper wrappers that I bought a long time ago during a trip to the King Arthur Flour store up in Vermont. This would be the perfect opportunity to use them. And I can give cakes away without the whole leftover thing.

adding-yolks

Friday night I made the sponge cake layer in a half-sheet pan. Rose said that the sponge cake came together quick, in 10 minutes. I took longer than 10 minutes. More like 20 minutes. That’s OK. I had to take pictures. I also toasted the almonds while the cake

finished-batter

I went through my collection of cookie/biscuit cutters and found one that would be the right size for the sponge cake layer.

ready-for-oven

After cutting 20-some cheesecake bottoms from the cooled sponge cake, I had some cake scraps. Those disappeared pretty quickly! And the scraps tasted pretty good. Not quite angel food cake, more like cherub-food cake. Hope for the completed cheesecakes grew.

baked-cheesecakesSaturday morning started with shopping for Sugar in the Raw, dairy and more eggs. And a bag of lemons. I didn’t see Meyer lemons. I am seriously jealous of people who have Meyer lemon trees in their yards. I almost cheated with the sugar and just used granulated. I did relent after realizing that part of the almond grinding was probably the texture of the sugar crystals.

topped-cakes

I portioned the batter out with a trusty ice cream scoop. I got 21 cakes out of the batter. I baked them for half the time, on 2 stacked half-sheet pans, since there was no way to put these in a water bath.

overhead-cheesecakes

They looked really good and didn’t crack at all when I cooled them down. Some I topped with lemon Greek yogurt and more sliced almonds. The yogurt worked well as a substitute for lemon curd. Tangy and creamy. The cakes were even better with whipped cream! Good enough for a restaurant dessert. Yes, I would pay $6 or more for that cheesecake!

happy-girlsI brought some over to the gals at the convenience store on the corner. Sad faces disappeared when I walked in with cheesecake! Briana and Mariah were so happy 😉

I will make these again. And ignore the nay-sayers!

My Chocolate Chip Cookies BannerSUMMARY – brown butter and a rest in the fridge give these cookies added taste. Crunchy on the bottom, cakey on the top. You will have to hide these if you want them to yourself!

chocolate-chip-cookie-ingredients

Chocolate chip cookies were a household staple when I was growing up. Not store-bought chocolate chip cookies. But homemade cookies, from the recipe on the back of the yellow chip bag, made with butter. Kinda crunchy and kinda chewy at the same time.

browned-butter-cooking

It wasn’t just my mom who made them. My great-grandmother made them, and kept them in the freezer. My grandmother made them too, but she was cheap and used shortening. But given a choice between shortening and no cookies, we kids chose somewhat lousier cookies.

toasted-walnuts

My current favorite cookie recipe is King Arthur Flour’s Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies. I tweak the recipe a bit, going with regular flour and skipping the butterscotch flavor.

butter-sugar-mixed

You could say chocolate chip cookies are in my blood. I was looking forward to these, wondering what Rose would do to make cookies special.

flour-added

Browned butter and rest.

finished-dough

I’ve seen some different versions of chocolate chip cookies, different variations for soft, crunchy, thin, etc. cookies. But I never saw browned butter as a variation.

scaling-cookies

I used Finlandia butter in these, since I can get 7 oz for 99 cents! It’s cheaper than regular butter! So there was more actual butterfat in the butter, and there may have been more brown bits.

cookies-into-oven

It’s a revelation. It adds a subtle nutty flavor to the cookies, beyond even the toasted walnuts. The texture was light and even cakey, with a crunchy bottom.

cookies-on-rack

A rest in the fridge was a little surprise, but yes, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt says the same thing. And he is another big food geek.

cookies-on-rack

These really were good chocolate chip cookies. Straight out of the oven and soft chips? Some very good cookies.

cookies-and-milk

Would I make these again? Absolutely. But I would double the recipe. Because 20 are not nearly enough!

hands-off-my-milk

This post is part of the Alpha Bakers bake-along. It’s an online project where a group of food bloggers bake our way through The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

Most of the recipes made during this project will not be shared. If you see something amazing and want to know about the recipe please let me know. You might want to get the book for yourself, or at least check it out from your local library before deciding.

Cranberry and Lemon Tart TartSUMMARY – super-tart, lemony and creamy. The crust is fragrant with almonds and very good raw.

incorporating-butter

I was skeptical about this tart when I first read about it. And I wasn’t the only one in my house who was not enthusiastic about it.

Me: My project this week is a lemon and cranberry tart.

Roommate Kathy: Ugh. <spitting sound> Bogberries.

She calls cranberries bogberries. Because that is what they are, berries grown in a bog. The cran part is marketing, because who would eat bogberries or drink bogberry juice?

processing-crust

I also don’t like cranberries. Or bogberries. Whatever. I merely tolerate them. I don’t ever exclaim “Cranberries! Yay!” I will have a tablespoon of the canned stuff next to my turkey on Thanksgiving. I will eat craisins already in something, because they are mostly sugar and it’s too much work to pick them out. Cranberry nut bread? I’ll eat it if there is no banana bread nearby. Unsweetened cranberry juice is medicine for a UTI. Otherwise, thanks but I’ll pass.

I didn’t try too hard to find cranberries for this recipe. I jogged (more like sprinted) through the produce department, looking around (not very carefully) for a bag. Since I didn’t see any (oh, darn!) I decided to use blueberries instead. Blueberries and lemon? That will work. Enthusiasm went up.

 

rolled-crust

The crust of this tart was tasty. Really delicious. When I make a tart I save some dough to patch it. Not this time. I ate it. It was the best almond cookie dough I ever had. Not too sweet, lots of almond flavor, buttery, oh so good. I should have skipped the filling part and just ate raw dough and been very happy.

But no.

unbaked-crust

I made the blueberry sauce. It was good. If I made more and cooked it longer, I would have had blueberry preserves! I may do that sometime.

 

I made the lemon curd. I stirred and stirred and stirred it over the double boiler. I think I stood at the stove for 20 minutes stirring hot lemon curd, hoping it would thicken. NOTE: that is probably not the best idea. Maybe a gentle stir every minute would have worked. Next time I will stir, then put something in the kitchen away. Or wash a dish or two. Then stir again.

cooking-lemon-curd

I put the tart together. Poured in the warm curd into the crust. My blueberries would not pour nicely as a ribbon. It was more like a blop of berries. (Is blop a word? It’s probably Dutch for “non-homogeneous measure of fruit.” Or maybe Hungarian.) I sort of pushed the berries down into the curd. I added the final layer of curd. I re-draped the foil edging around the tart.

lemon-curd-layer

Here is where my poor maligned tart went further afield. I put it in the oven, and I set the timer on my phone for 15 minutes. I went into the living room and played a game.

An unknown (but longer than 15 minutes) interval of time passed. I realized that the tart was still in the oven. And my timer did not go off.

Crap.

tart-oven-ready

I pulled the tart out and it looked … overcooked. Not burnt, but not bright yellow anymore. Brownish-reddish mixed with purple. And it leaked. I put it on the back porch to cool off and went to bed, disappointed and annoyed with myself.

The next morning, I wrestled it out of the tart pan. It looked better in the daylight. I cut a couple of small pieces and took a bite.

baked-tart

Rose was not kidding when she called this a TART tart. It was like I shoved a handful of lemon drops and an almond in my mouth. LEMON!!!! I couldn’t taste the blueberry. I got the crust but … LEMON!!!!!!

Not wanting to suffer alone, I offered a bit to Kathy. She knew I had substituted blueberries for the cranberries. She took a bite. She got serious pucker-face. It was like watching a YouTube video of small children eating something sour.

tart-pieces

No one in the house liked it. I didn’t even share it. I ate the edges and tossed the rest of it. Sad.

I am looking forward to chocolate chip cookies, though!


This post is part of the Alpha Bakers bake-along. It’s an online project where a group of food bloggers bake our way through The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

Most of the recipes made during this project will not be shared. If you see something amazing and want to know about the recipe please let me know. You might want to get the book for yourself, or at least check it out from your local library before deciding.