Treat mom to something sweet on Sunday

There’s a dessert for every skill level as you celebrate your mother for all she does for her family year-round

    Sunday is Mother’s Day, a time to indulge mom with all her favorite things.
    Pick her a bouquet of her favorite flowers, serve her breakfast in bed or make a meal with the foods she loves best. But don’t forget a delicious dessert.
    After all, mom deserves a sweet treat for all she does.
    The variety of desserts runs the gamut from a tray of fresh fruits with dip to simple baked treats to an elaborate decorated cake — no matter your skill set, there’s a dessert to fit your talent.
    Get the kids involved, too. Have young children help by measuring ingredients, while older children may be able to make the dessert themselves.
    And if all else fails, you can always pick up a cake from the store and decorate it to match your mom. Use flowers or a tiny toy to personalize the dessert. Try piping a design or message with frosting. Garnish with sprinkles, sanding sugar, candies or other treats.
    Or serve it as is, perhaps with a scoop of mom’s favorite ice cream.
    After all, it is a day to celebrate, not to count calories.
    Following are some dessert recipes from

Lemon Blueberry Cake

1 15.25-ounce box vanilla cake, plus ingredients called for on box
Juice and zest of 1-1/2 lemons, plus more zest for garnish
1-3/4 cups fresh blueberries
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch kosher salt
2 thin lemon slices
    Prepare cake mix according to package directions, then stir in juice and zest of 1 lemon.
    In a small bowl, toss 1 cup blueberries with flour until coated. Gently fold blueberries into the batter.
    Divide batter evenly among three 9-inch cake pans lined with parchment paper and coated with cooking spray. Bake in a  350-degree oven 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
    Let cake cool in pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and let cool completely.
    In a large bowl using a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat butter and 2-1/2 cups powdered sugar. Add remaining lemon juice and zest and heavy cream and beat until combined, then beat in vanilla and salt. Add remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar as desired for texture and flavor.
    Place a dab of frosting on cake plate to keep cake in place and place parchment strips on each side of the cake plate. Place first cake layer on dab and top with frosting, then top with second cake and frost. Repeat with third cake and frost sides.
    Garnish with remaining blueberries, lemon slices and zest and serve.


Margarita Cupcakes

For cupcakes:
1 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
Juice of 3 limes, plus zest of 1 lime
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup milk, preferably whole or 2%
For frosting:
1 cup butter, softened
5 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup tequila
Coarse salt, for garnish
Lime zest, for garnish
Small lime wedges, for garnish
    Line two muffin tins with 18 cupcake liners.
    In a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add lime juice, zest and vanilla and mix until combined.
    In another large bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Add half the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, beating until just combined. Pour in milk and mix until fully incorporated.Add remaining dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Fill cupcake liners three-quarters full with batter.
    Bake in a 350-degree oven about 25 minutes, until slightly golden and a toothpick inserted into center of each cupcake comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in pans five to 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
    In a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat butter, half the powdered sugar, lime juice, and tequila until light and fluffy. Add remaining powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
    Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes. Garnish with coarse salt, lime zest, and lime wedges.


Strawberry Upside Down Cake

1 pound strawberries, thinly sliced into rounds
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1-3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vanilla ice cream, for serving
    In a large bowl, stir together strawberries, brown sugar and cornstarch until fully coated and juicy. Place in a 12-inch oven-safe skillet that’s been greased, then lined with a parchment circle and greased again. Spread strawberry mixture into an even layer.
    In small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, mix together sugar, eggs, sour cream, butter and vanilla. Add in the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
    Pour the cake batter over the strawberry mixture and spread as evenly as possible with a rubber spatula or wet hands.
    Bake in a 350-degree oven about 35 minutes, until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
    Let cake cool in the skillet, about 15 minutes, then invert onto a serving platter or large plate and gently remove parchment paper. Let cool completely or refrigerate before slicing.     
    Serve with vanilla ice cream.


Strawberry Shortcake Trifles

1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups chopped pound cake or angel food cake
2 cups sliced or chopped strawberries
    In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat cream and sugar about five minutes, until stiff peaks form. Stir in vanilla until combined. Transfer mixture to a piping bag.
    Layer pound cake or angel food cake among four jars or large glasses with whipped cream mixture and strawberries.


Cheesecake-Stuffed Strawberries

1 cup cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 pint strawberries, bottoms and tops sliced off and hollowed out
Crushed graham crackers, for garnish
    In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese two to three minutes. Add heavy cream and powdered sugar and beat until fluffy.
    Transfer mixture to a piping bag and pipe into strawberries. Garnish with crushed graham crackers and serve.


Death By Chocolate Cheesecake

For cookie crust:
24 whole chocolate sandwich cookies
6 tablespoons melted butter
Pinch kosher salt
For cheesecake:
4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 large eggs
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped and melted
For ganache:
1-1/2 cups chocolate chips
3/4 cup heavy cream
Chocolate shavings, for garnish
    In a large zipper-lock bag or a food processor fitted with a metal blade, crush or blend cookies until fine crumbs form. Transfer to a bowl and pour in melted butter. Add salt and stir until crumbs are completely coated and moist.
    In a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat cream cheese, sugars, cocoa powder and salt until smooth. Add eggs, one a time, beating well between each addition. Fold in melted chocolate.
    Coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray, then press cookie mixture into pan and one-third of the way up the sides, packing tightly. Pour cheesecake filling over crust.
    Bake in  350-degree oven for 60 to 75 minutes, until cheesecake is only slightly jiggly in the center.
    Cool, then refrigerate cheesecake until totally chilled, at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
    Place chocolate chips in a medium heatproof bowl and set aside. Heat heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. When bubbles begin to break the surface around the edges of the pan, turn off the heat. Pour hot cream over chocolate chips, whisking constantly until the sauce is smooth.
    Pour ganache on top of the cheesecake. Garnish with chocolate shavings. Return to the refrigerator about 10 more minutes to let the ganache set, then serve.


White Chocolate Cheesecake With Raspberry Swirl

For crust:
15 graham crackers
3 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons butter, melted
For raspberry sauce:
6 ounces raspberries
3 tablespoons sugar
For cheesecake:
8 ounces white chocolate, melted
4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1-1/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
    Butter a 9-inch springform pan and wrap bottom and sides of pan in double layer of aluminum foil.     
    In food processor or blender, grind graham crackers into fine crumbs. Add sugar and salt and pulse to combine. Transfer to medium bowl, add butter and use fork or fingers to blend mixture until crumbs are evenly moist. Press into bottom and about a third of the way up sides of springform pan, then freeze pan for 10 minutes.
    Place pan on baking sheet and bake in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes. Set on rack to cool.
    In food processor or blender, purée berries and sugar about 30 seconds, until smooth. Pour through fine-mesh strainer set over small bowl, pushing on berries to release any juices. Discard solids. Set aside.
    Bring medium saucepan or tea kettle full of water to boil.
    In a clean, dry metal bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, melt white chocolate, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
    In a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat cream cheese on medium three to four minutes, scraping bowl as necessary, until completely smooth. Add sugar and salt and beat three to four minutes, scraping bowl as necessary, until smooth and fluffy. Add vanilla and beat for 30 seconds. Add eggs, one at a time, beating one minute after each addition and scraping down bowl as necessary. Add melted white chocolate, sour cream and heavy cream and beat on low about one minute, until fully incorporated and completely smooth.
    Pour batter into cooled crust and smooth top. Drop teaspoons of raspberry sauce over top of cheesecake. Use a wooden skewer or toothpick to swirl sauce into batter.
    Place cheesecake in deep roasting pan and set on middle rack of oven. Carefully pour enough boiling water into roasting pan to come about halfway up sides of springform pan. Bake in 325-degree oven about 90 minutes, until top is just starting to brown and crack. Turn off oven, prop door open with wooden spoon, and let cheesecake slowly cool in water bath for one hour.
    Remove roasting pan from oven, then carefully lift springform pan out and remove foil. Set cheesecake on a rack and let come to room temperature.
    Once cool, loosely cover cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate four hours to overnight.


Rhubarb Tart

For shortbread crust:
1-1/4 cups flour
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract For frangipane filling:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 cups almond meal
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon dark rum
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
For rhubarb lattice topping:
8 to 10 stalks fresh rhubarb
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar

    For crust, place flour, powdered sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
    Combine egg, cream and vanilla in a small bowl, then add to the flour/butter mixture while running the machine. Continue to process until the dough comes together into a ball.
    Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes.
    Roll dough to a thickness of about 3/16-inch. Place it in a tart pan, trimming away any excess, then line with foil and ceramic pie weights or dried beans. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 15 minutes, until just beginning to turn golden.
    For filling, place butter in a small pan and cook over medium heat until nutty-brown.  Set aside to cool slightly.
    Place almond meal, sugar, egg, rum, vanilla, zest, almond extract and salt in a bowl and stir to combine. Mix in the browned butter, then transfer to the partially baked tart shell. Bake an additional 30 minutes, until golden brown and set.  
    Cool completely.
    Using a mandolin slicer or vegetable peeler, slice rhubarb length-wise to a thickness of about 1/16-inch.
    Place water and sugar in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a bare simmer and add four or five slices rhubarb. Cook until slightly softened, then drain on paper towels.  Repeat until all the rhubarb is cooked.  Reserve the remaining syrup.
    Line slices of cooked rhubarb side-by-side on a sheet of parchment.  Fold alternate slices up, then place perpendicular slices over, in a lattice pattern.  Repeat until the lattice is big enough to cover the entire top of the tart.
    Flip lattice onto the top of the cooled tart, then peel off parchment.  Trim off any overhang with kitchen shears.  
    Using a silicone pastry brush, dab poaching liquid over the lattice to glaze.
    Tart can also be made in a 9-1/2-inch diameter round tart pan. You will need to double the frangipane filling quantities, but the crust and topping recipes would remain the same.



Almond Blackberry Financiers

3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup almond meal or flour
1-2/3 cups confectioners sugar, plus a little more
1/2 cup flour
Pinch salt
6 large egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
21 blackberries
Sliced almonds

    Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. When butter begins to give off a nutty aroma, after  about three minutes, remove from the heat. Set aside.
    In a large bowl, whisk together almond meal, confectioners sugar, flour and salt. Set aside.
    Lightly beat egg whites. Make a well in the center of the dry mixture and add the egg whites and vanilla. Whisk until fully combined. Slowly stir in browned butter and whisk slowly to incorporate.
    Pour the batter into each tartlet molds that have been coated with cooking spray until two-thirds full. Bake in a 400-degree oven for seven minutes, then open oven door and place three blackberries and a sprinkle of sliced almonds on each tart. Close oven door and to bake an additional seven to 10 minutes, until financiers are lightly browned at the edges and spring back in the middle. Let cool in the tartlet pan for five minutes, then remove and place on a wire rack to fully cool. Repeat with remaining batter.
    Sprinkle each financier with confectioners sugar before serving.Serve with additional berries, if desired.




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