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GINGER SNAP COOKIES by Nurture Me Nature

Almost a decade ago my grandmother took on a new adventure into living a gluten free lifestyle. As a woman raised in Louisiana and now living in Texas, this was not an easy feat. At the time, gluten free products were only sold at specialty stores, horribly expensive and limited in numbers. The industry has come a long way over the years, but a common complaint is still the amount of sugars and MSG being used to boost flavors of pre made goods and mixes. My grandmother hasn’t let this challenge slow her down, as she’s adapted our family’s gumbo recipe, my grandfather’s favorite chocolate pie and all of our traditional holiday dishes to be gluten free. I would love to be able to support a local company not only succeed in their own venture, but expand the baking options available to my sweet grandmother, aunt and others that have changed their diet for their health.

Nurture Me Nature is the heart and soul of Marina, a Southern Californian with a passion for creating baking mixes that are not only Gluten Free, but also Organic, Kosher, Low Sugar and Non GMO. She is currently producing her mixes in small batches and receiving rave reviews on the quality, taste and texture of the baked goods created with her mixes. She has turned to an Indiegogo campaign to raise the funds to increase her production so that her mixes can nurture a broader audience. If compelled, please take a second to visit her campaign and consider donating in any way that you can.

1. Contribute to the Campaign – every bit helps!
2. Place an order now by emailing – she’ll send you a price and availability list – every order helps fund the growing campaign!

lemon sunflower spritz cookies

Lemon Sunflower Spritz Cookies

Homemade lemon curd brightens the flavor of these buttery sunflower spritz cookies making them just perfect for celebrating Earth Day.

Happy Earth Day! Easter, Earth Day and some very special birthdays kind of snowballed on top of each other and snuck up on me this year. Better late in the day than never, I wanted to be sure that I shared this delightful Lemon Sunflower Spritz Cookie recipe with you. These cookies are perfect for celebrating the beauty of Earth Day, but their bright flavors are light and refreshing all year long. My homemade lemon curd added a subtle flavor that spritz cookies are known for and some chocolate jimmies added a realistically textured center. As per usual with spritz cookies, these turned out as delicious as they are whimsical and I’m totally in love.

I used my beloved OXO Good Grips Cookie Press and the sunflower disk that comes standard with the press. You may have noticed that I use a silicone baking mat with my press – I have found that people are very opinionated when it comes to baking spritz cookies. I, myself, come from a house divided when it comes to this topic. My grandmother swears by an ungreased, unlined baking sheet while my mother and I are known to use parchment or silicone lined baking sheets for pretty much everything we do. Know your equipment and do what works best for you.

Sunflower Lemon Spritz Cookies

That weird metal cone you see? That’s an inverted large piping tip. I placed it around the center of the sunflowers and dropped in a pinch of chocolate jimmies so that I could create perfectly round centers with very little effort. Seems silly, but my clumsy little fingers were getting jimmies everywhere when trying to do this freehand. Just a little tip (pun intended) to help control the jimmie population.

Yields: approximately 6 dozen cookies
  • ¾ unsalted butter (1½ sticks), room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons lemon curd
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • yellow food coloring and chocolate jimmies for decorating
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, sugar and flour until light and fluffy.
  3. Add egg, lemon curd and vanilla extract, beating until smooth.
  4. Gradually add flour, beating until fully incorporated. Add a few drops of yellow food coloring at a time until desired color is reached.
  5. Put through cookie press onto cookie sheets and decorate with jimmies prior to baking.
  6. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 8-10 minutes until edges are lightly browned.

OXO Good Grips Cookie Press

Lemon Curd Recipe
Guittard REAL Chocolate Sprinkles – these make a world of difference in baking, no waxy or artificial flavors here!

Lemon Sunflower Spritz Cookies

homemade lemon curd

Homemade Lemon Curd

Smooth, rich, tart, and perfectly sweet – there’s nothing quite as elegant as homemade lemon curd.

I have some cookies in the works this week that pull their delicate lemon flavor from lemon curd. Though I had previously never made lemon curd from scratch, I was no stranger to its delightfully tart existence. It has always been one of my favorite components of afternoon tea as nothing beats house made scones topped with dainty dollops of lemon curd and devonshire cream. I was excited to embark on a new adventure in the kitchen and my first batch of lemon curd exceeded every expectation.

Lemon curd is another one of those delicacies that I once thought I disliked. Afternoon Tea at The Adolphus in Dallas changed my mind in just one bite and I have been hooked ever since. I recently discovered that The Ritz Carlton in San Francisco has added an afternoon tea back to their year-round events schedule and I am beyond thrilled that I have found the perfect company to join me at one of their limited seatings in the coming months. You really haven’t experienced lemon curd until you’ve had it freshly made from scratch and this batch will more than satisfy my cravings until I am able to cross Afternoon Tea at the Ritz off of my bucket list.

Homemade Lemon Curd

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice, approximately 3 lemons plus zest
  • ½ cup of butter (1 stick), cubed
  1. Set up a double boiler by adding approximately 1 inch of water to a medium saucepan and allowing to come to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  2. In a metal bowl that is large enough to sit on top of your saucepan without touching the water, whisk together egg yolks and granulated sugar until smooth.
  3. Once water has reached a simmer, reduce heat to low and place bowl on top of saucepan. Add lemon juice and zest and whisk continuously until mixture thickens, approximately 8 minutes. Mixture should coat the back of a spoon and leave a clear path when you run your finger through the middle of it.
  4. Remove from heat and whisk in butter, one cube at a time until smooth and glossy.
  5. Transfer curd to a jar or other sealable container and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Don’t know what to serve with lemon curd? Try it on scones, sandwiched between shortbread cookies, folded into buttercream or layered with granola and your morning yogurt. 

Homemade Lemon Curd

friday five

Easter Friday Five

Weekly highlights from our kitchen and the web – our favorite ways to prepare Easter eggs and delicious recipes to make after the hunt.

1. How to hard boil eggs and recipe for Jalapeño Dill Deviled Eggs  ///  2. Natural Easter Egg Dye Recipes from Tried and Tasty  ///  3. Absolutely gorgeous Easter Brioche from The Seaside Baker  ///  4. Rustic Egg Salad from Diethood  ///  5. Asparagus Egg and Bacon Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette from Skinny Taste

chocolate carmallow squares

Chocolate Carmallow Squares

Sweet honey caramels are layered with fluffy homemade marshmallow and dipped in rich dark chocolate to make these sinfully delicious Chocolate Carmallow Squares.

A recurring discussion around here is how much of a mess I’m capable of making in the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong, I always clean up after myself, but we are constantly amazed by how one person can destroy every inch of the kitchen night after night with their baking adventures. I’m not going to sugar coat this – this recipe is going to make a mess. We’re talking having to clean at least three pots, an electric mixer, a baking pan and all of the utensils in between. Plus if you’re anything like me, you’ll be cleaning caramel splatters off of the stovetop, melted chocolate off of the countertops and marshmallow fluff off of the cat’s face for days. But these Chocolate Carmallow Squares are worth it. They are so worth it.

Chocolate Carmallow Squares

When I stumbled upon an Oregon Meadowfoam Honey at the Ferry Building that had deep candy and marshmallow tasting notes I knew that not only did I want to make caramels with it, but that I also wanted to pair it with actual marshmallow. As expected, the caramels were divine and even better when topped with a fluffy layer of homemade marshmallow. The finishing touch was a dip in smooth dark chocolate and a drizzle of pastel candy melts to dress them up for Easter. This may easily have been one of the biggest messes that I’ve made in a while, but you better believe I’ll be making them again soon!

Chocolate Carmallow Squares

Yields: approximately 100 squares
  • ½ cup pure honey
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon fine fleur de sel
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ packets unflavored gelatin
  • ½ cup ice cold water, divided
  • ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 12-ounce packages dark chocolate melting wafers
  • Paramount Crystals (optional)
  • Pastel candy melts for decorating (optional)
  1. Line a 9×13 inch cake pan by criss-crossing two sheets of parchment paper, being sure to cover all sides. Spray lightly with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Combine honey and sugar in a deep saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Boil until mixture is a fragrant golden brown, swirling occasionally.
  3. In a small saucepan, bring cream, butter and fleur de sel to a simmer while waiting for the sugar mixture to brown. Once simmering and butter melted, remove from heat and set aside.
  4. When sugar mixture is ready, turn off heat and slowly add cream mixture. Take caution as the sugar and cream combination will bubble violently at first and then settle as you stir. This is why a deep saucepan is key.
  5. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon and return the caramel to medium low heat. Stirring occasionally, cook for about 10 minutes until a candy thermometer reads 248 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Once desired temperature is reached, remove from heat and carefully pour into prepared baking pan. Do not scrape sides of saucepan, this caramel will be slightly overdone and can be discarded.
  7. Set aside and allow to cool while making the marshmallow.
  1. Place gelatin and ¼ cup cold water into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Let sit.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine remaining ¼ cup cold water, sugar, corn syrup and salt. Cook over medium high heat for approximately 10 minutes until a candy thermometer reads 240 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Immediately remove from heat and turn mixer on to low speed. Slowly pour sugar mixture into running mixer until all syrup has been added.
  4. Increase speed to high and beat for approximately 15 minutes. When the mixture is thick and the sides of the bowl are just slightly warm to the touch, add vanilla and beat for an additional minute.
  5. Pour marshmallow over the top of the prepared caramel and evenly spread out with a lightly oiled spatula. Mix confectioners' sugar and cornstarch and dust over the top of the marshmallow. Allow to set, uncovered, at room temperature for at least four hours and up to overnight.
  1. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Set aside.
  2. Cut carmallow into 1 inch squares with a large sharp knife. Refrigerate squares until ready to dip to prevent caramel from melting in chocolate.
  3. Melt chocolate melting wafers in a microwave safe bowl, one package at a time, according to package directions. Stir in up to three tablespoons of Paramount Crystals per 12 ounce package of melting wafers to thin out chocolate and give it a shiny appearance.
  4. One at a time, dip squares into chocolate. Pick up using a fork and tap on side of bowl to remove excess. Slide onto prepared baking sheets to set.
  5. In a microwave safe bowl, melt pastel candy melts according to package directions. Use a fork or pastry bag fitted with a small tip to drizzle color over the top of each square.
  6. Once set, squares should be stored in an airtight container or packaged for immediate gifting.

High Temperature Candy Thermometer

Oregon Meadowfoam Honey
Paramount Crystals aid in thinning candy melts without adding unwanted flavor.

Chocolate Carmallow Squares