What if I couldn’t buy lemons at the store? Where would I get that wonderful lemony flavoring from? The answer is Lemon Balm. It has an amazing citrus-like smell – the trick is to get the same citrus taste to come out in cooking. This Lemon Balm Pudding is flavorful and lemony. There’s only the slightest hint that the source of the flavor isn’t fruit; its an herb.
I had a few unsuccessful attempts last year at cooking with lemon balm. Nothing came out very flavorful. But for this dessert, I wanted lots of lemony flavor. At the same time, I wanted to avoid turning the pudding green. So I simmered the milk separately, and then allowed the lemon balm to steep in the milk for about fourty minutes. That let the milk soak up all the flavor, and then I was able to strain the lemon balm out.
When the pudding was done, the lemon flavor was pronounced. The next day, it was amazing. Success!
Lemony Lemon Balm Pudding
A very flavorful lemony pudding, without lemons. The secret ingredient? Lemon Balm.
Pour milk into a medium sauce pan, and slowly bring to a simmer. Once the milk is just starting to get frothy, take it off the heat. Add the lemon balm, and stir.
Allow the lemon balm to steep in the milk for about 40 minutes.
While the milk mixture is cooling off, combine the sugar and flour.
Strain the lemon balm out of the milk. Whisk together the milk and sugar and flour in a medium saucepan. Cook the milk-flour mixture on low heat.
Add the egg yolks and salt, and allow the pudding to cook. Keep an eye on the pan, stirring occasionally, to keep the pudding from burning. The pudding will start to thicken, stirring more frequently as it gets thicker.
Once the mixture is of about pudding consistency, take it off the heat. Pour it into serving dishes, and let it cool before serving.
Top with fruit (if desired) before serving.
Lemony Lemon Balm Pudding is great the first day, but it is even more flavorful after it has had a chance to cool in the refrigerator over night. It also perfectly compliments seasonal fruit, like strawberries and mulberries.
This mildly sweet cake tastes of flowers and lemons and sunshine. And when I say it tastes of flowers, I mean that literally. Lemon Balm cake by itself is a light lemony treat, but covering it in syrup made with chamomile flowers really makes it special! This herbal cake is a great way to use the herbs in your garden. Also, Chamomile and Lemon Balm compliment each other beautifully!
I can just imagine eating this cake with tea in a lacey white dress and hat, and feeling very refined.
Lemon Balm Cake with Candied Flower Syrup
A simple cake, flavored with Lemon Balm. What really makes it special is the candied flower syrup which gives it extra sweetness. It also looks pretty!
Molasses and dark chocolate mixed together make quite the cookie! A completely black cookie. Yes, you needed this information. Chocolate molasses cookies turn out to be rather yummy.
I started with a standard chocolate chip recipe. Alas, I had no chocolate chips. Such minor inconveniences never keep me from my cookies, however. Some days require cookies (this is a fact).
Instead of chocolate chips, I added dark cocoa, and supplemented the sugar with molasses. The result was a very lovely cookie. Not too sweet, but not un-sweet. I suspect it would be more chocolatey with chocolate chips, or more flavorful if I used more spices. But overall, it is an excellent cookie!
Cookies of Blackest Molasses
Dark chocolate molasses cookies - chocolate chip cookies with dark cocoa and molasses.
Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy (or at least smooth). Add molasses, stir. Add egg and vanilla extract. Mix until well combined.
Add your dry ingredients - flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt - to the wet mixture. With stirring, you should get a nice cookie dough.
Throw in your chocolate chips last, if desired. You want to get them evenly distributed throughout the dough. Mmmm. . . chocolate. . .
Scoop out 2ish tablespoons of dough for each cookie. Bake on an ungreased baking sheet at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about ten minutes.
Enjoy with milk.
Between the dark cocoa and the dark molasses, it will be very difficult to tell when your cookies are done. Make sure to take them out of the oven while they are still soft. Because molasses isn't quite as sweet as pure sugar (especially with dark chocolate thrown in), your chocolate molasses cookies will not stay sweet if they're overcooked. . .
I try to keep my fridge stocked with the basics – eggs, milk, and butter. The jar of white flour should be full, and there should be extra whole wheat flour stashed away somewhere. I keep sour cream or yogurt around because I tend to cook with it, but I try not to keep multiple packages of cream cheese around. Its dangerous!
So what to do when I just have to have cheesecake? (these are the important questions)
Yes, cheesecake. Very dangerous. Very rich.
It turns out, you don’t need to use cream cheese. There are recipes for cheesecake which use a variety of other cheeses – like ricotta, or farmer’s cheese. The beauty of using Farmer’s Cheese, of course, is that you can make it yourself, and flavor it however you like while making it.
I tried this recipe using cheese made from apple cider vinegar and sprinkled with cinnamon and topped with applesauce. Awesome.
Cheesecake made from Farmer's Cheese - delicious, rich, and made from ingredients already in your fridge!
Pour your milk into a large pot, and gently warm until it is frothy. Use the apple cider vinegar to separate the curds from the whey and drain. Add cinnamon if desired.
(this is just the standard Farmer's Cheese recipe adapted; you can find more details here.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium sized bowl. Cut in butter, as if you were making pie crust dough.
Beat 3 egg yolks and 3 tablespoons of sour cream together, and then add to the flour mixture. Mix until it forms dough (again, resembling pie crust dough). Roll out and place in pie plate.
Beat the 4 eggs and one egg white at high speed until frothy. You will probably want to use an electric beater!
Put farmer's cheese, granulated sugar, 1/2 cup sour cream, and vanilla extract in a blender. Blend well. The Farmer's Cheese will be naturally rather granular when first made; it should be chopped up until very fine and liquid. Add some of the egg mixture if necessary.
Fold together the farmer's cheese mixture and egg mixtures. Pour into the pie plate.
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40 minutes. The cake will rise in the oven, turn golden, and set.
Cool for a few hours in the refrigerator before serving. Enjoy!
One thing I like about this recipe is that it does have instructions on making its own crust. You could definitely still do a typical graham cracker crust with this, but if you don't keep graham crackers around either, this makes it simpler.
Prepare the ingredients - crush the vanilla wafers, and chop up your walnuts.
Combine all your ingredients - vanilla wafers, cocoa, walnuts, corn syrup, brandy, and confectioners sugar - and mix well. I suggest using a blender. It makes it so much faster! The mixture should form a sticky dough.
Divide the dough into small balls (1-2 inches in diameter), and roll them in powdered / confectioners' sugar. Chill, and store with more confectioners' sugar - it keeps them from sticking together.
Cream pies are amazing creamy goodness. There is, granted, probably not much redeeming benefit health-wise (unlike fruit pies – those are totally healthy, right?), but they are delicious.
You can add as much or as little cinnamon to this recipe as you like to give it some flavor. Otherwise, its all cream – and its very very important that you make it with cream! I’ve tried a lot of variations with less cream, more milk, or buttermilk, and its just not worth it. If you are horrified at the thought of a pie with cups and cups of cream and then some butter added for good measure, this pie is not for you. Just. . . don’t make a cream pie. Make some other kind of pie.
In other news, I realize that I’ve missed a few weeks here. Christmas bustle got to me. I will be resuming regular scheduling as of. . .now!
The Ultimate Cinnamon Cream Pie
Cream pie made with heavy cream, cinnamon, and butter.
Mix together your dry ingredients - sugar, flour, and salt - in a medium sized bowl. Make sure they're well combined.
Add two (2) cups of heavy cream. Mix well.
In another bowl, mix together egg yolks, 1/2 cup of cream, the 1/2 cup of milk, and vanilla extract. Add to original cream and sugar mixture. Again, mix well, but don't beat it! You don't want whipped cream.
Pour the cream mixture into your prepared pie crust. Dot with butter. Sprinkle Cinnamon across the top.
Bake for about 1 hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You'll know the pie is done when its bubbling ALL the way across the top. Let it do this for about 10 minutes before taking it out of the oven.
Let the pie cool completely in the fridge for optimal creaminess.
You can also use half and half instead of 1/2 cup cream and 1/2 cup milk, but then you will be buying 3 dairy products instead of 2. This seems silly to me, unless you already buy half and half.
If you really can't get enough cinnamon, you can add cinnamon to the cream mixture as well as sprinkling it across the top. Nutmeg and Ginger also taste good. Add as much or as little spice as you like.
As part of my great pie experiment, I decided to try Sweet Potato Pie. The verdict? Its yummy, but very heavy. . . in a potatoey way. If I were to make it again, I’d probably try to go lighter on the sweet potato part.
If you too decide to try out Sweet Potato Pie, I definitely recommend having it cold, and with whipped cream. Mmmmmm, yummy!
Peel and chop your sweet potatoes, and start them cooking with a little water on the stove over medium heat.
While your sweet potatoes soften, put the pecans, 2 tbsps of butter, and 2 tbsps of karo syrup in the food processor. Pulse until the pecans resemble crumbs, and press into the bottom of a deep dish pie plate.
Once the sweet potatoes are soft, mash them. Add butter, brown sugar, karo syrup, eggs, evaporated milk, vanilla extract, and salt. Mix well.
Pour your filling into your pie plate.
Cook at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40 minutes. The pie should be firm, and not like a custard.
In my pie making adventures, I’ve tried quite a few recipes whose results were questionable (Shoofly Pie with blackstrap molasses; do not do this!) or which mysteriously morphed into something else. Such it was that I started with the notion of making chess pie and ended up with this Almond Custard Pie.
I’m not entirely sure how one thing led to another anymore, but this is a delicious almondy confection. I’m not entirely sure it counts as a pie, as the almond crust has the interesting habit of rising to the top of the pie instead of remaining on the bottom as crust.
Almond Custard Pie
A delicious almond custard which may or may not be a pie. . .
Chop your almonds up in a food processor. Once they are finely chopped, add the butter and almond extract and continue processing until well mixed. If the butter starts out soft, then the almonds should start clumping together in a loose dough.
Press your almond dough into the bottom of a pie plate, and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
While your crust is cooking, cream together your butter and sugar until smooth.
Add in the eggs, flour, whey, almond extract, and nutmeg. Mix well.
Pour the filling into your pie plate, and bake for an additional 60 minutes.
On the whey - the first time I made this recipe, I had really thick whey from one of my cheese-making experiments.. It was a bit like soft yogurt. You can also use buttermilk, OR 1 cup of whey/milk with 1/2 cup of yogurt.
On the pie crust - 1 cup of almonds only makes enough to cover the bottom of the pie plate. I like limited crust, but if you want it to go up the sides as well, double the crust recipe.
When I was growing up, pie was made with fruit. There was peach pie, cherry pie, apple pie, and maaaaybe berry pie (that was exotic!). But then, one day, I ventured into the wilds of Indiana and discovered that not all pie was fruit. Some pie was weird. Some pie was. . . vinegar.
Intrigued, I ordered the mysterious vinegar pie. It smelled like vinegar, but it didn’t taste like vinegar. It was creamy, and different, and interesting! So I decided to make it for myself.
While searching for vinegar pie recipes I discovered a whole host of different pie ideas that I’d never heard of; chess pie, mock apple pie, oatmeal pie, etc. I resolved there to broaden my pie horizons!
So first up, in the Great Pie Experiment is Vinegar Coconut Pie. I ran across this recipe under the name “French Coconut Pie” and it seems to basically be vinegar pie with coconut. Its definitely outside of Vinegar Pie’s “poor man’s pie” roots, but its delicious.
Deep Dish Coconut Vinegar Pie
Buttery coconut pie, with just a hint of vinegar. Delicious!