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IMG_3965I inherited some limes from my workplace's Frozen Drink Friday happy hour, and made a key lime pie. This is probably my first deliberate endeavor into slightly more gluten-free baking. I had some almond flour left over from my macaron-making adventures (which turned out to be quite dissatisfactory, and is the reason why no mention of it has been made) and decided to incorporate it into the key lime pie, which traditionally has a graham cracker crust. I also happened to have some ginger at home, which is probably one of my favorite spices which unfortunately gets little use in my kitchen. I grated some into the crust mixture, and voila – spicy, nutty, tart flavor explosion.

What you see here though, was actually my second attempt at a key lime pie using this recipe. For my first attempt, I tried to avoid using condensed milk and used rehydrated powdered milk instead but that didn't end up so well.

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The pie filling was crumbly and powdery, and nothing like the silky texture I was hoping for. But I knew I found a winner with the ginger almond crust and I simply had to try again, even if it meant going to the store and buying a can of condensed milk for the express purpose of this pie. (And you know I’m not terribly fond of purchasing recipe-specific ingredients since it leads to wastage.)

Fortunately my second attempt turned out much better. The pie filling, with its simplicity of ingredients, really is fail-proof. It’s smooth and tart, and contrasts well with the nutty crust. I like that the crust is not just a base for holding the pie filling, but actually contains a unique flavor of its own. Its texture is a little chewy, somewhat resembling a granola bar. It is modifiable to be entirely gluten-free if you so desire, but not in an overt way that might put off food purists.

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Key Lime Pie with Ginger Almond Crust
Makes one 9-inch pie

Crust
1/2 cup almond flour/meal
1/2 cup all purpose flour (Feel free to use all almond flour or change around the proportions a little bit as long as you use 1 cup of flour eventually)
2 tbsp butter, softened.
1.5 tbsp fresh grated ginger root
2 tbsps honey
30g brown sugar

Heat oven to 350 F. Line an 9-inch round pan with parchment paper, or use a pie dish if you have one. Mix all the ingredients together into a clumpy mix. Use your hands to mix it more evenly, if necessary. Press into the base of round pan. Bake for 10 minutes until edges of the crust is very lightly browned. Leave to cool.

Pie Filling
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp grated lime zest
1/2 cup lime juice (I used the juice of two large limes)
1 (14 oz) can of condensed milk

Mix egg yolks, lime zest, and lime juice. When mixture is homogenous, stir in condensed milk. Pour mixture into crust and bake at 350 F for 15 minutes. The pie filling should still be glossy and wet. Let it cool out of the oven, and then refrigerate at least a couple of hours so the pie filling sets.

I already have a seven layer bar recipe on this blog, but this one deserves a post on its own because it’s even more homemade. Usually seven layer bars are made with graham crackers, canned condensed milk, sweetened coconut flakes and chocolate chips. All highly processed stuff, and I’ve a great disdain for things that come out of a package. This seven layer bar takes homemade to a new level: I made the condensed milk out of milk, and the cookie base is made out of an oatmeal cookie dough. The chocolate chips were from a chopped up chocolate bar. I could up the ante by making my own sweetened coconut flakes… and mill my own flour. Hah, I could carry the homemade schtick a lot further.

Honestly the only real reason why I had homemade condensed milk around was because I bought some milk to make cinnamon buns, but then I realized my yeast packets were expired and they didn’t activate. Which sucked, because I really wanted to make bread. But never mind, I used up the milk to make some condensed milk. If you wanted the condensed milk recipe, you can click here. I really don’t expect you to, though. Mine came out a little bit grainy, but then it didn’t matter in the seven layer bar.

The oatmeal cookie base is quite lovely, it holds everything up well and I feel good about putting a little bit more fiber into my body. The recipe had way more cookie than I’d like, so I just made oatmeal chocolate chip cookie dough with the rest and it’s now in the freezer, ready to be baked whenever I want some homemade sugary goodness.

Seven layer bars are so incredibly easy; I guesstimated all the proportions of the filling by just sprinkling it by hand. I like baking like this; I feel more at one with my food, you know?

From-Scratch Seven Layer Magic Cookie Bars
Adapted from Allrecipes
Makes 1 9×5 inch pan

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cups packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

FILLING
1/2 (7 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I threw in some white chocolate chips in there)
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Add egg and vanilla; mix well. Combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture. Spread in the bottom of an ungreased 9×5 baking pan with the thickness to your liking; set aside. Spread condensed milk on cookie dough base. Sprinkle chocolate chips, coconut and walnuts. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes.

I recommend freezing the bars before cutting into them. It’s a lot easier to handle and you get cleaner slices.


I’m always inspired by bread baskets I get at restaurants. More often than not, they serve a crusty artisan bread with butter or olive oil. However, there’s always the odd place that realizes that the complimentary bread basket is a great way to go above and beyond. I got an extremely outstanding bread basket at Public, and the one most memorable bread was their chipotle and cranberry roll. The bread flavors are apparently experimental and vary from day to day, so I’m glad that I was there that day. And that bun was what really inspired me. The bread was soft, sweet and fluffy, but had a hint of spice from the chipotle. And that’s what inspired my curry buns.


A basic sweet dinner roll recipe with curry powder, they turned out amazing. Extremely soft and fluffy and sweet, and also harbored a slight hint of curry. They taste delicious on its own, but might be interesting with fried Spam (mmmm fried Spam) or as a way to sop up stew sauces.


I used some egg wash to give it a glossy coat, but I didn’t have a pastry brush, so I did what I could with a fork. Alas, the plight of a college baker. Also, I kinda haphazardly shaped the balls. I’m pretty sure there’s a proper technique to it but I did whatever I felt like.

Curry Rolls
Makes 16
Adapted from Allrecipes

Ingredients
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1/2 cup warm milk
1/3 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons curry powder.
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast

Directions

1. Nuke water and milk in the microwave for 1 minute and 15 seconds and mix sugar in till dissolved. Add yeast to mixture and let yeast bloom.
2. In the yeast mixture, mix in the salt, curry powder butter and egg. Mix flour in half cup at a time. Knead dough for about 10 minutes or until the dough passes the windowpane test. If you can stretch a small amount of the dough until it becomes a translucent sheet (just about 1.5 inches wide is fine), then it’s ready.
3. Let it rise for about 60 minutes in a bowl covered loosely with a kitchen towel, until the dough doubles.
4. Punch it down, divided it into 16 balls and let it rise for another hour. (I realized it’s easiest to section the dough by using a pair of scissors.)
5. Bake for 12 minutes at 375 F.

Tres leches translates into “three milks”, and that’s what makes this nondescript cake so delicious. The three milks are heavy cream, condensed milk and evaporated milk, and this mixture is poured over the light, airy cake that then soaks up the milks overnight. Conceptually, this cake is similar to a tiramisu, where a cake is left to soak up a liquid. The reason why this cake doesn’t get soggy is because it uses a recipe very similar to a sponge cake, which makes use of whipped egg whites.
Sad to say, my own version didn’t turn out quite so airy. I don’t have an electric mixer, and beating egg whites to a soft peak by hand is not easy. (Which reminds me of this mise en place relay race in Top Chef Just Desserts…) Despite the slightly gummy texture, it still tasted good. And I’m going to have to attribute that to the liberal amounts of rum I used. The recipe I used didn’t actually include rum in it, but the tres leches cake that inspired me to make it was from a restaurant called Amor Cubano and I had detected rum in it.

Also, my cake is frosting-less. I figured all that moisture from the milks would be enough to give it good moisture. I did NOT want to whip cream after having to whip egg whites.

Tres Leches Cake
Makes one 9-inch round cake
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse

  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup clear rum

Cream topping:

  • 1/2 14-ounce can fat-free evaporated milk
  • 1/2 14-ounce can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup fat-free half-and-half (feel free to use full fat heavy cream for this and non-fat free for everything else)

Directions

To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour a 9 inch round pan and set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat the egg whites on low speed until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually with the mixer running and peak to stiff peaks. Add the egg yolks 1 at a time, beating well after the addition of each.

Sift together the flour and baking powder and add to the egg mixture, alternating with the milk. (Do this quickly so the batter does not lose volume.) Add the vanilla. Bake until golden, 25 minutes.

To make the cream topping: In a blender, combine the evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream and blend on high speed.

Remove the cake from the oven and while still warm, pour the cream mixture over it. Let sit and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.

This is probably one of the easiest things I’ve ever made. It’s made out of graham cracker crumbs, chocolate chips, condensed milk and shredded coconut: essentially a mix of all the sweet, gooey, and chewy things you can find in the kitchen. Feel free to play around with the proportions and add different kinds of fill-ins or toppings. I put mine in the oven for ten minutes just to get the coconut toasted but you can feel free to skip that step.

Graham Cracker Balls
Makes 25 balls
Adapted from this Taste of Home thread

8 graham cracker sheets
14 tbsp condensed milk
1 cup shredded coconut (I used sweetened)
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven at 350 F. Crumble 10 graham crackers very fine. Add condensed milk and chocolate chips. Mix well. Form into balls and roll in shredded coconut. Bake for 10 minutes till coconut is lightly toasted. Remove and let cool on pan. Refrigerate (optional).


I’ve always thought the idea of putting cookie dough in ice cream was one of the best things to happen to food. Everyone likes licking off cookie dough batter, so why not add some of that slightly gritty dough into smooth creamy ice cream? So I thought of my other favorite desserts I could put cookie dough in, and viola: COOKIES. They belong together! Crispy, warm, caramelized cookies with raw, gritty cookie dough chunks in it. Mmmm.

Unfortunately, this idea is hard to pull off. Cookie dough is MEANT to be baked. This was my second try at making cookies with cookie dough “chips” in them. So far, it hasn’t really been successful. It’s hard to achieve contrast between the cookie and the cookie dough without baking the cookie dough chunks through too. But trust me, there will be more attempts in the future.

The problem with this recipe was that the cocoa powder in the main cookie dough batter didn’t really come through. Perhaps I didn’t use Hershey’s Special Dark like the recipe recommended and just used regular cocoa powder. Also, the entire cookie just wasn’t very sweet. I liked the idea of using condensed milk in the cookie dough chunks to hold everything together; it gave the chunks a nice creaminess but unfortunately the chunks lacked the grittiness of undissolved sugar, which I really like in cookie dough.

Cookie Dough Chunks Cookies
Makes 25
Recipe adapted from Bakespace

Mini Cookie Dough Truffles:

¼ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
7 oz sweetened condensed milk
¼ cup mini chocolate chips

Using a stand mixer (or a bowl and beaters) on medium speed, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Beat in vanilla.

With speed on low, slowly add flour, alternating with condensed milk, beating well after each addition.

Add chocolate chips and blend until fully incorporated. Place into fridge for about 5-10 minutes to firm up a bit before rolling.

Shape balls into ¼ -inch balls. Lightly dust with flour to prevent from sticking (about 2 TBSP) and place into an air tight container. Store in freezer for at least 3 hours.

Chocolate Cookie Base
* 6 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
* ½ cup granulated sugar
* 1 cup brown sugar
* 1 egg
* 1 egg yolk
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* pinch of salt
* ½ tsp baking soda
* 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
* 2 TBSP unsweetened dark cocoa powder (like Hersey’s Special Dark)
* 1 ½ cups Mini Cookie Dough Truffles

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375F.

Grease cookie sheets with either butter or baking spray.

In a large bowl, on medium-high speed, cream together sugars and butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Add egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract and beat until fully incorporated. Scrape down the bowl. Mix another 30 seconds.

In a medium bowl, sift together salt, baking soda, cocoa powder, and flour.

With the mixer on slow, add the flour mixture. Mix until thoroughly combined.

With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the cookie dough truffle pieces. Only mix until just combined, but evenly distributed through the dough. Place in fridge for 20 minutes.

Using a small cookie/ice cream scoop, scoop out cookie dough and place onto prepared pans. (I guesstimated by scoops to be somewhere between ping pong and golf ball sized.)

Place on cookie sheet and bake 9-10 minutes.

Leave on cookie sheet for 3 minutes then remove and let cool on wire rack.