Springtime Lemony Angel Food Meringue Torte

What shall we make for Easter Dinner dessert??? This is the question I kept asking myself all week. I have an idea, and someone else has offered me theirs, but before making the final choice, I decided to take a poll. I randomly asked six different sisters to answer this question. What immediately comes to mind when you think of choosing a most favorite Easter dessert?

Five out of six said “…something light and fluffy.” Four out of six said “…cool and creamy.” Three out of six said “…something lemony.” Two out of six said “…white or light yellow.” Interestingly enough, each of our desserts fit these descriptions, so we ingeniously combined them into one spectacular creation which we hope that many will enjoy!

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Springtime Lemony Angel Food Meringue Torte
SERVINGS
12servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
45mins
PREP TIME
1hr
READY IN
2hrs

Ingredients

Instructions

To Make the Angel Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350​ ​F and arrange an oven shelf in the bottom third of the oven. Sift the flour and 3½oz of the sugar together in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl with an electric hand whisk or mixer on a high speed for one minute until frothy. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, cream of tartar and salt and continue whisking for 2-3 minutes, or until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed from the bowl. Increase the speed and add the remaining 7oz of sugar, one tablespoon at a time to form firm, but not stiff peaks.
  3. Sprinkle over one-third of the flour mixture and fold gently to combine. Repeat with the remaining two-thirds of the flour mixture folding gently to keep as much air in the mixture as possible.
  4. Transfer the batter to a 10 inch angel food cake pan. Gently run a knife through the center of the batter to remove any pockets of air. Cook for 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
  5. Remove from the oven and immediately turn upside down onto the tin’s cooling legs, or place over the neck of a wine bottle. Leave to cool for at least one hour. Run a knife around the inner and outer edges of cake to remove it from the pan. Invert onto a plate. Carefully use a palette knife to separate the cake from the base of the pan. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
To Make the Lemon Curd:
  1. Mix the egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest together in a large pan. Cook over a low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, making sure to stir the sides and base of the pan.
  2. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Pass through a sieve into a large jug. Fill two 12​ ​oz glass jars with the lemon curd and seal with lids. Cover the remaining curd with cling film and leave to cool.
To Make the Meringue Layers:
  1. Preheat oven to 275. In a mixer, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Switch to high speed and gradually beat in the sugar until stiff and glossy peaks form and sugar is dissolved. Add the vanilla.
  2. Remove beater whisk and by hand, gently fold in 1/2 cup sliced almonds.
  3. Line two sheet pans with baking paper and trace two circles of the base of the angel food cake pan - 10" diameter on each. Divide meringue between the two circles and form into rounds - staying 1/4" within the border - they will be about 3/4" high. Sprinkle with the additional 2 Tbsp of sliced almonds.
  4. Bake at 275 degrees for 3-35 min. or until golden and crisp. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.
To Assemble:
  1. Cut the Angel food cake in half horizontally
  2. On the bottom layer, spread some lemon curd, followed by cool whip, meringue layer, then the top of the angel cake spread with lemon curd, cool whip and then the top meringue layer.

This can be frozen and pulled out when ready to serve.
A lovely presentation for Easter and not as difficult as it sounds.
You can always make a box angel cake mix in place of the homemade one and you could buy a jar of lemon curd, but it's just not like the real deal!

Hot Cross Buns

One of our favorite Lenten traditions here at the C of J is the baking and sharing of Hot cross buns on Good Friday a.m. First attributed to a 12th century monk, it has blesses countless numbers of believers over the years. This meaningful little act is a significant way of remembering and acknowledging our Lord’s death on the cross on our behalf.

There are many legends connected with this tradition. One of my favorites is that a fresh baked bun hung in your kitchen window will bring blessing upon all the baking done there throughout the coming year.

Each year I intend to do this, but before I get to it every bun has disappeared.

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Hot Cross Buns
SERVINGS
1dozen buns
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
dozen buns
COOK TIME
25mins
PREP TIME
30mins
READY IN
3hrs

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Dissolve the yeast by sprinkling it over the very warm water and add a pinch of sugar to activate.
  2. Heat milk in a medium saucepan over low heat until about 100 degrees F. (but no more than 110 degrees)
  3. In a mixer, fitted with a dough hook, add the warmed milk to the yeast mixture.
  4. Plump the raisins (or currants) and citron in the microwave with a little orange juice; cool and set aside
  5. To the yeast & milk mixture add the remaining sugar, melted butter, egg yolk and extract.
  6. Add the salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger to the mixture and continue kneading.
  7. Add the flour, 1 cup at a time, until the dough starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl.
  8. Remove the orange juice from the raisins and citron and discard.
  9. Add the raisins and citron to the dough and mix well. The dough should be slightly sticky and not dry.
  10. Knead until soft and elastic, about 8 min. Shape into a ball.
  11. Brush the inside of a large bowl with butter. Put dough in the bowl and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hr. 30 min. **
  12. To form the rolls: Pam a 9x13” pyrex pan. Turn the dought out of the bowl and roll into a log. With a dough cutter or sharp knife, divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Roll each of these pieces into a round bun shape, tucking the edges under.
  13. Place them seam side down in the prepared pan, leaving a little space between each roll. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until the rolls are doubled in size, about 45 min. or longer.
  14. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. and prepare your egg wash.
  15. Prepare glaze: In a mixer, combine powdered sugar, milk and vanilla or almond extract and oil until smooth (the oil will give it a high gloss). The icing should be quite thick. If too runny, add more powdered sugar. Transfer icing to a pastry bag or a ziplock bag with a corner snipped off.
  16. Remove the plastic wrap from the top of the rolls and brush the buns with egg wash. Bake rolls until golden brown and puffy, about 25 min. (an instant read thermometer inserted into the roll should read 190 degrees F.)
  17. Ice buns with a thick cross shape on the top of the warm buns and serve.

Good Friday Hot Cross Buns

Good Friday marks the second day of the Triduum (from the Latin for ‘three days’), the day on which we commemorate the Lord’s crucifixion and death. The Good Friday liturgies at our monastery (and many others around the world) mark our observance of Christ’s final hours, picking up from Maundy Thursday Eucharist, and continuing through the Holy Saturday Vigil, the Great Vigil of Easter, and carrying us all the way to Easter morning.

In keeping with the solemnity of the day, we remember Christ’s death by bringing to the liturgy of the hours the full range of spiritual depth and beauty found in the ancient texts; we participate in the veneration of the cross, and chant Gospel Passion Narrative. It is a special and holy time, filled with moments of silence, listening, reflection and conviction, as well as a time of joy-filled anticipation.

This day of the Cross marks us with God’s presence, and He marks us for his own.

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Good Friday Hot Cross Buns
SERVINGS
1dozen buns
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
dozen buns
COOK TIME
25mins
PREP TIME
30mins
READY IN
3hrs

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Dissolve the yeast by sprinkling it over the very warm water and add a pinch of sugar to activate.
  2. Heat milk in a medium saucepan over low heat until about 100 degrees F. (but no more than 110 degrees)
  3. In a mixer, fitted with a dough hook, add the warmed milk to the yeast mixture.
  4. Plump the raisins (or currants) and citron in the microwave with a little orange juice; cool and set aside
  5. To the yeast & milk mixture add the remaining sugar, melted butter, egg yolk and extract.
  6. Add the salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger to the mixture and continue kneading.
  7. Add the flour, 1 cup at a time, until the dough starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl.
  8. Remove the orange juice from the raisins and citron and discard.
  9. Add the raisins and citron to the dough and mix well. The dough should be slightly sticky and not dry.
  10. Knead until soft and elastic, about 8 min. Shape into a ball.
  11. Brush the inside of a large bowl with butter. Put dough in the bowl and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hr. 30 min. **
  12. To form the rolls: Pam a 9x13” pyrex pan. Turn the dought out of the bowl and roll into a log. With a dough cutter or sharp knife, divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Roll each of these pieces into a round bun shape, tucking the edges under.
  13. Place them seam side down in the prepared pan, leaving a little space between each roll. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until the rolls are doubled in size, about 45 min. or longer.
  14. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. and prepare your egg wash.
  15. Prepare glaze: In a mixer, combine powdered sugar, milk and vanilla or almond extract and oil until smooth (the oil will give it a high gloss). The icing should be quite thick. If too runny, add more powdered sugar. Transfer icing to a pastry bag or a ziplock bag with a corner snipped off.
  16. Remove the plastic wrap from the top of the rolls and brush the buns with egg wash. Bake rolls until golden brown and puffy, about 25 min. (an instant read thermometer inserted into the roll should read 190 degrees F.)
  17. Ice buns with a thick cross shape on the top of the warm buns and serve.

** Please note:  This dough might take a long time to rise, but be patient...it is worth the wait because they will come out nice and light!

Fresh Fig, Walnut and Mascarpone Tart

When I was a child, there was a peacock that used to strut through the back yard of my great-grandmother’s house. He would time his performance perfectly; as soon as all of us were gathered at the window, he would throw his head back, arch his feathers into a magnificent fan, and do a little pirouette as graceful as a king. It is like this with figs — they must be showcased.

I can’t pass up a fresh fig in a grocery store, especially when I’m doing holiday baking. Our local grocer had a nice selection of figs this past week, and I thought they would make a handsome and tasty dessert for a holiday luncheon we were preparing. Flamboyant as they are with their velvety exterior and intricate, seed-filled interior, they beg to be shown off.

The marriage of figs, mascarpone, and walnuts makes a fabulous winter dessert, and I would recommend this one for any dinner party. You can make the tart shells ahead and freeze them. When you are ready to use them, fill them while still frozen, and they will thaw in time for dessert. Since fresh figs are one of the most perishable fruits, they should be purchased only a day or two in advance of your meal. Look for figs that have a rich, deep color, and are plump and tender, but not mushy.

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Fresh Fig, Walnut and Mascarpone Tart
SERVINGS
6individual, or a 10" round tart pan
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
individual, or a 10" round tart pan
COOK TIME
15 minutes
PREP TIME
15 minutes
READY IN
30-35minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

Crust
  1. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy for 3 minutes, using a stand mixer with paddle attachment, scraping down the sides and bottom occasionally. Add the flour and mix on low speed until fully incorporated, about one minute (don’t over mix). Add the egg yolk and continue to mix on low speed until the dough comes together, about 30 seconds.
  2. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour (or up to 4 days).
  3. Remove from refrigerator and let soften until pliable. Flour your work surface so dough does not stick, and sprinkle the top of dough with a little flour. Roll out dough, starting in middle and rolling outward, to a 1/4 inch thick disk or rectangle, depending on your tart pan.
  4. Don’t worry if dough tears or crumbles, it’s easily pressed together in the tart pan. Lift over the rolling pin and place in tart pan with removable bottom. Patch holes or tears by pressing dough with fingers. Press dough into sides, corners and bottom. Roll the rolling pin over the top of the tart pin for a clean even edge. Refrigerate 30 minutes -this is important.
  5. Bake at 350 for 30 -35 minutes, positioned in the center of the oven, until golden. Be sure to keep a careful eye so that it doesn’t over cook. If using individual tart pans, these will take about 12 min. to bake. Let cool before filling.
  6. While these are baking, spread your walnuts onto a sheet pan and toast in the oven – once you smell them, remove them, they will be done!
Filling
  1. Put the jam in a microwaveable bowl, and heat in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds until the jam is of a more spreadable consistency. Add the brandy, a tablespoon at a time until desired consistency. Spread this over the bottom of the tart shell (s) but not up the sides. Let cool.
  2. In a stand mixer with the beater attachment, whisk together the mascarpone, whipping cream, vanilla, powdered sugar and salt until soft peaks form. Be careful, especially if you are using an electric mixer, because the mixture will thicken very quickly.
  3. Spread this mixture over the fig jam leaving about 1/4 “ of space of the jam showing on the edges, so not completely covering the jam base.
  4. Decorate the top w/ some toasted walnuts mounded in the center, a couple of quartered figs and right before serving, drizzle with some light honey.

If making ahead, have your components ready but don’t assemble until close to serving time.

Amaretto Fruit Tart

Our summer dinner theaters were sold out every weekend this year. We now have a fine reputation for our food as well as our productions, so people come for both. The many sincere compliments and genuine thanks we receive for these events makes the extra effort put into them worthwhile and very rewarding.

This week’s dinner menu featured skewers of beef tenderloin and of shrimp grilled with mushrooms, mini onions and potatoes and plated alongside a mélange of colorful vegetables. This was accompanied by a crisp pungent salad of mixed greens and fragrant herbs straight from our gardens. All combined to form a lovely summer nights’ dinner eaten in a tranquil setting out on the patio overlooking a view of Cape Cod Bay.

One more detail to savor was the magnificent dessert which one elderly gentleman referred to as “a most splendid creation.” This marvelous fruit tart is formed on a rich shortbread crust spread with an amaretto cream, topped with beautiful fruit and sealed with an apricot glaze. Tonight the chef has chosen sliced nectarines and blueberries. Other evenings it has been strawberries, kiwis, peaches,
raspberries. If you want a dessert that is both impressive and delectable this is it!

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Amaretto Fruit Tart
SERVINGS
8
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
PREP TIME
READY IN

Ingredients

Instructions

Crust
  1. In food processor, combine almonds, butter, sugar and flour. Add yolks and extracts. Blend until dough forms.
  2. Line 11- inch tart pan with removable side with a circle of baking paper in the bottom and press crust into pan.
  3. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes. Cool. Set aside.
Filling
  1. Mix all filling ingredients until smooth and spread evenly on the cooled tart.
  2. Chill until firm (about 30 minutes).
Glaze
  1. In a small pan, mix all glaze ingredients over low heat until hot. Strain. Cool. Set aside. Orange marmalade can be substituted.
  2. Arrange fruits in a circular pattern on filling.
  3. One to two hours before serving, brush fruit with glaze, (sprinkle sliced almonds on top, optional). Serve slightly chilled.

Cheese Soufflé

For years I thought of making a soufflé as something too difficult to tackle except by the experts, so I put off making them. After finally trying one, I was amazed to discover how simple and straightforward it really is…and how very satisfying! The sight of your creation as it begins to rise before your eyes in the oven and then finally puffs up into all its glory… is reward enough to say nothing of the delight in tasting it.

In case you have been intimidated as I was, this may be the perfect time for you to overcome that fear and tackle one, because these light fluffy wonders are perfect for hot weather meals when you want to serve something other than cold food, and you don’t want anything cooked that’s too heavy. Guests in our retreat house are always thrilled when served a soufflé.  They say it makes them feel so special!

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Cheese Soufflé
SERVINGS
4people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
35-40minutes
PREP TIME
25minutes
READY IN
30minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Allow the egg yolks and egg whites to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. For cheese sauce, in a medium saucepan melt butter; stir in flour, dry mustard, onion salt, Worcestershire and cayenne pepper.
  3. Add milk all at once.
  4. Cook and stir cheese sauce over medium heat until thickened and bubbly.
  5. Turn heat to low. Add cheese, a little at a time, stirring until melted.
  6. In a medium bowl beat egg yolks with a fork until combined.
  7. Slowly add cheese sauce to egg yolks, stirring constantly. Cool slightly.
  8. In a large mixing bowl beat egg whites with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight).
  9. Gently fold about 1 cup of the stiffly beaten egg whites into cheese sauce.
  10. Gradually pour cheese sauce over remaining stiffly beaten egg whites, folding to combine.
  11. Grease with butter and coat with grated Parmesan a 2-quart soufflé dish.
  12. Pour batter into dish.
  13. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 40 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean.
  14. In the last 10 minutes of baking sprinkle some grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 tablespoons) for a nice crust on top.
  15. Serve immediately.

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