Strawberry Season

Strawberry season might be one of my favorite times of the year.

Growing up, this time of year always meant driving back to New Orleans to visit family and, most importantly, heading back to Texas with at least a few flats of fresh, sweet Ponchatoula strawberries.

In case you’re saying to yourself, “Ponch-a-what?”, let me explain: Ponchatoula, Lousiana is famous for its strawberries. It’s a small town north of New Orleans and east of Baton Rouge which truly has some of the best strawberries.

Because of this tradition, I’m a bit strawberry spoiled: I find myself often disappointed with watery, flavorless varieties in the off-season (not to mention how expensive they can be in NYC off-season!). So when strawberry season comes around and I do find flavorful, sweet, juicy berries, it makes me incredibly happy. And reminds me of those trips we made growing up, eating countless berries in the car ride home and over the next couple weeks. πŸ™‚

Chocolate strawberry fudge

In honor of the season, I’ve been happily baking quite a few berry recipes!

To name a few which I’ve made so far/on my to-make list…

(Hover over for recipe links to all the above!)

Who else is loving strawberry season, and what are you baking??

Strawberry basil scones – yum!
Irresistible fudgy squares…

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat No-Bakes

Spring has finally arrived to NYC, and I’m so excited.

Yesterday, I took full advantage of the spring sunshine to go for a long run in Central Park and was marveling at all the flowers which seemingly bloomed overnight! Just a few days before, I had been walking along a path where some initial green shoots were starting to poke through, and yesterday they were already full-blown daffodils!

With the spring and extended daylight, I’m definitely looking forward to more baking, but today I’m actually starting off with a quick and easy no-bake treat!

These Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat No-Bakes are not quite a bar, not quite a cluster, not quite a cookie….they’re just sort of pieces of gooey goodness.

Any really, I could call them Chocolate Nut Butter Oat Bars/Clusters/Cookies, because I’ll tell you a secret: I didn’t actually use peanut butter in this batch πŸ˜€

Super easy and quick, these are sure to be treat for anyone!

Recipe:

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk (regular, almond, soy – anything works)
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup any nut butter (peanut, almond, sunflower…)
  • 3 cups oatmeal
  • Handful of chocolate chips
Instructions:
  1. In medium-sized pot, combine sugar, milk, cocoa powder, and butter and melt together over medium heat, stirring occasionally. After butter has fully melted, cook for another 2-3 minutes until just bubbly.
  2. Reduce heat to low, and add salt and nut butter. Stir until nut butter begins to melt and incorporate.
  3. Add oatmeal 1 cup at a time, mixing in with a spatula after each scoop.
  4. Line an 8×8 baking pan with wax paper and pour mixture into pan, spreading evenly to the edges. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top and gently press into mixture. (Feel free to go as chocolatey or not as you like, and if you’re really feeling it, you could even mix these in the pot for chocolate chips throughout!)
  5. Place pan in the freezer for at least 20 minutes for bars/clusters to cool. Can be stored in container at room temperature.

Donuts donuts donuts

Ever since I bought my new donut pan from Sur La Table, I’ve been on a donut kick.

Blackberry donuts

The first donuts I made were these blackberry donuts by Preppy Kitchen, a few weeks ago when we were hosting my boyfriend’s cousin + her boyfriend at our place. They were super moist, so easy to make, and our guests loved them!

The recipe only calls for blackberry juice in the dough, but I decided to add some leftover juice and additional bits from straining to the frosting for extra blackberry flavor. If you’re looking for a smooth, glossy finish to the donuts, probably best to leave out the blackberry pieces from the frosting, as it made it a little inconsistent in texture; otherwise, why waste perfectly good blackberry bits (and it gives such a nice pink color)!

Blood orange donuts

Next, I decided to go for blood orange donuts! I’d been seeing lots of these pink beauties on my Insta feed, so I joined in the trend πŸ™‚ Conveniently enough, the donut pan came with a recipe for just that: Sur La Table’s own take on blood orange donuts.

Comparing the two recipes, I’d say the dough for the blackberry donuts was moister, but I slightly preferred the sugar glaze of the second batch over the cream cheese frosting. Might have to try a mash-up recipe of my own for batch number three… πŸ˜‰

YUM!

Best Chocolate Chai Cookies Ever. Seriously.

Two weekends ago I discovered one of the best new cookie recipes I’ve made in a while: Chocolate Chai Cookies.

They’re so good, I would encourage you all to go make a batch ASAP πŸ™‚

These cookies by Two Cups Flour have definitely landed a spot towards the top of my all-time favorite cookies list. Essentially, they’re soft chocolate cookies with a molten chocolate center, coated in chai flavor spices (think: ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, etc.).Β 

One of my best friends makes the perfect cup of chai tea, so when I saw these cookies I instantly knew we’d need to team up for an afternoon of chai tea and chai cookies next time she came to visit. In the meantime, I’d say these cookies would go perfectly with any type of tea or coffee!

Check out this awesome recipe by Two Cups Flour here!

Apricot Cake (Marillenkuchen)

In an earlier blog post, I wrote about my time in Austria and discovery of the myriad of apricot dishes, especially in late summer. And while it’s not currently stone fruit season in NYC, it is a 3-day weekend and we’re expecting a snowstorm later this afternoon, so I decided to to dig out the recipe my host mom gave me for her amazing Marillenkuchen (apricot cake)!

I’ve kept her original recipe intact except for the addition of a bit of lemon zest, just to give the cake a bit of that zesty flavor to really complement the apricots.

If fresh apricots are hard to come by, a great thing about this recipe is that you can also make it with peaches, raspberries, or most other fruits that might be in season/locally available.

And in case you haven’t figured by now, Marille means apricot in German. πŸ™‚

Recipe:

Note: Since this recipe is straight from Austria, the ingredients below are measured in grams. If you have a kitchen scale, no problem! If not, I’ve also included approximations of measurements in standard American conventions.

Ingredients

  • 200g butter, softened at room temp (~1 1/2 stick)
  • 200g powdered sugar (~1 5/8 cup)
  • 5 eggs
  • 200g flour (~1 3/8 cup)
  • 8g vanilla sugar (1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 4g baking powder (1 tsp)
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 5-6 apricots

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Rinse and quarter apricots.
  3. Beat together butter, half the sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, and egg yolks. Then add in flour and baking powder.
  4. In separate bowl, beat egg whites until frothy, then add in second half of sugar until mixture is peaked and stiff.
  5. Gently fold egg whites into first mixture.
  6. Grease 9″ round baking pan/pie dish and sprinkle with flour. Pour mixture evenly into pan.
  7. Bake for 25 min or until cake is starting to firm. Line the top of the cake with apricot pieces in whatever pattern you like. (If you put the apricots on the cake from the beginning, they will likely sink to the bottom! This happened to me once…)
  8. Bake for additional 15 minutes, or until cake turns golden brown and toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool a few minutes and dust with powdered sugar if desired.