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Category Archives: Fruit

O Beautiful, For Spacious Pies

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Blueberry pie, click image for recipe

Oh what I meant skies, not pies. But yes, it’s almost the 4th of July y’all! And in honor of that I feel the need to help you out a little bit. Trust me, I know the frenzy you feel. Grill recipes, pie recipes, treat recipes, snack recipes, goodness gracious how many times must I visit the Martha Stewart website before I can finish my menu!

But, wait, I’ve been baking for more than 2 years now, I should have some things…

What about some Mixed Berry Boy Bait?

Mixed Berry Boy Bait

I’m a pretty big fan of  blueberries. How great that it’s such a 4th of July classic, eh?

But that doesn’t mean blueberries are all! Check out Lemon Basil Shortbread Hearts. A delicious food to bring for a picnic if you’re one of those people heading out to parks to check out the fireworks this year.

Lemon Basil Shortbread Hearts

What if you’re going to a park and need picnic food? Well besides shortbread, look at peach crumb bars!

Peach Crumb Bars

Oh and drinks are on me too in the form of virgin mojitos.

Virgin mojitos

Maybe you’re looking for a summery cake that is just as aesthetically pleasing to the eye as it is to your taste buds? Try a ridiculously simple Summery Fruit Cake.

Summery Fruit Cake

I feel like I’ve covered most of my summer favorites for baking that you could surely incorporate into your own 4th of July menu. And just some last few options that might interest you:

Peanut Butter Blondies

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Hummingbird Coffee Cake and Over-Cognition

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I am an over-cognitor. That doesn’t mean I’m intelligent, it means I can’t get out of my head and think too much about things that needn’t be thought about that much. I have difficulties reading some novels because I can’t finish the novel without writing it in my own way in my head. I will read a description, a quote, or even a wonderfully used vocab word and my mind will take off running at a hundred miles per hour in the exact opposite direction that the author was going.

I love bookstore sales where they have pile after pile of books, used and sometimes new, for a mere dollar or less. I get extremely carried away and buy any novel that looks like it might hold any hint of a well-written plot full of mystery and/or historical fiction (my two favorite genres), but more often than not, I end up with a book that I can’t finish reading, so instead I dissect it. I take out lines, ideas, words, and let my mind wander off with them.

Over-cognition, my friends, is not that great of a trait. It involves spontaneous creation of poetry, supposedly witty lines, situations, and stories in my mind at the most random times. Today at work in my research lab, I received a new sample from a patient to study and I spent my entire lunch break spinning up a (now that I look at it) rather boring medical mystery. That is what I do. I don’t know if that makes me insane, a mad writer, or simply someone who is constantly lost in the many thoughts in my head.

Maybe I’m meant to be a mad writer…like the 21st-century female version of Ernest Hemingway. But I honestly don’t think anything I have is worthy of publication. I only write down what I believe to be great. The rest I store away in my little noggin (yes I just used that word) for when I am sitting in an orthodontic office and the only things they have to read are brochures about gum disease and then I can lose myself in some story I created once in my head.

That being said, here’s a delicious recipe for a hummingbird bundt coffee cake that I made for Father’s Day last weekend. My Dad absolutely adored it and so did my family. The cake is so wonderfully moist and the glaze and coconut on top made it look so nice. Enjoy!

Hummingbird Coffee Cake (Adapted from Annie’s Eats)

Yield: about 16 servings
For the cake:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
8 tbsp. (½ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. coconut extract (optional)
1 cup low-fat plain greek yogurt
2 mashed bananas (about a scant 1 cup)
2/3 cup shredded coconut
1 cup finely chopped pineapple

For the glaze:
2 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp. milk
½ tsp. vanilla extract
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more as needed

To finish:
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, macadamia nuts, or pecans

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Thoroughly grease a bundt pan with butter.  Coat the inside with flour, tapping out the excess.  In a small bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Whisk to blend; set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Mix in the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition.  Blend in the vanilla and coconut extracts.  Beat in the yogurt until well incorporated.  With the mixer on low speed, beat in half of the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.  Beat in the mashed bananas and then the remaining dry ingredients, again mixing just until incorporated.  With a silicone spatula, gently fold in the coconut and chopped pineapple.
  • Transfer the batter to the prepared bundt pan and smooth into an even layer.  Bake, rotating halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean, about 50-55 minutes.  Let cool 20-30 minutes in the pan placed on a wire rack.  Gently loosen the cake from the sides of the pan with a knife, and carefully turn out onto the cooling rack.  Allow to cool completely.
  • To make the glaze, whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl.  If the glaze is too thin, whisk in more confectioners’ sugar.  If the glaze is too thick, whisk in additional milk 1 teaspoon at a time.  Drizzle the glaze over the top of the cooled cake.  Sprinkle with shredded coconut and chopped nuts for garnish.  Let glaze set before slicing and serving.

Home from the Dorms, so here’s some Crumb-Topped Banana Toffee Cake

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It’s so hard to believe that it’s been an entire six months since I’ve blogged and six months since I moved into my room in McCarty Hall at college. I sit on the floor of my family room as I write, surrounded by boxes of hangers, books, and shampoo that I have yet to unpack, even after having moved back home for a week. Dorming has been…an adventure, to say the least. I was blessed with having the very considerate J– as my first roommate ever in our cozy room at the end of the hall.

Dorming was having to stand outside in the cold when a fire alarm went off because someone forgot to add water while making ramen on the stove. It was watching “Jersey Shore” in the lounge with my floormates while imitating Pauly D and Ronnie’s ridiculous dance moves. It was walking to the nearby 24-hour QFC at 3 am because one of my best friends C– and I decided we wanted food. It was studying (or trying to study) in the rooms downstairs with her until 5:37 am and capping it all off by dancing on tables because we were the only ones left. It was the cheers that echoed through the row of North Campus dorms when announcements of “School cancelled” were made back in January because of snow. It was the 24-hour Mexican fast food place by the name of Memo’s that we frequented (and the memories that were made there). It was blasting Britney Spears in our room and hearing “Oops…I Did It Again” echo from our neighbors’ room, and then having the R.A. come tell us to quiet down.

Besides calling it an adventure, I don’t quite know what other word to make synonymous to my dorm experience. Looking back though, it all ended in valuable friendships being made, experiences had, lessons learned, and two quarters gone.

I baked this cake with my future roommate and wonderful friend R–, while dancing in the kitchen and laughing helplessly (the way we usually do). And to think, 3 months from right now, I will be packing everything up in these boxes again and lugging it all back to McCarty for another year in the dorms. The thought of re-packing the many, many things I have unpacked is quite terrifying. Before any of that happens, though, there’s summer! This summer I’ll be taking a half-term history class about space (oooh!) and working at my research lab, before heading to Cancun with my family the end of July through early August. And then it’s work, and…September! The great thing about colleges on a quarter system is that we don’t start until the end of September, so I can savor my last bit of summer that month.

And, now that I’m home, expect to see a lot more blogging happening. Toodles!

Future roomies!

Crumb-Topped Banana Toffee Cake (Adapted from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody)

Crumb Topping:

1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
8 TBSP unsalted butter (1 stick), melted and still warm
1¾ cups cake flour

Whisk sugars, cinnamon, salt, and butter in medium bowl to combine.

Add flour and stir with spoon until mixture resembles thick, cohesive dough; set aside to cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.

Cake:

1 ½ cups cake flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
4 TBSP unsalted butter (1/2 stick), cut into 4 pieces, softened but still cool
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 bananas, super ripe
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 cup Heath toffee bits

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 8-inch baking pan with baking spray and set aside.

In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix butter, flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt on low speed to combine.

With mixer on low speed, mix until batter resembles moist crumbs, with no visible butter chunks remaining, 1 to 2 minutes. Add banana and beat until fully incorporated.

Add egg, yolk, vanilla, and buttermilk; beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute, scraping once if necessary.

Fold in the chocolate chips.

Transfer batter to baking pan.

Spread batter into even layer. Break apart crumb topping into large pea-sized pieces and spread in even layer over batter, beginning with edges and then working toward center.

Bake until crumbs are golden and wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on wire rack at least 30 minutes. Remove cake from pan.

Upside-Down Pear Cake and Upside-Down Friendships

Walt Whitman once said, “I have learned that to be with those I like is enough” and that is probably one of the truest quotes I have heard in my entire life. It is absolutely possible to still feel empty even when you have numerous text messages waiting in your inbox every time you check your phone and a monumental and growing number of Facebook friends. While it always brightens my day when I find sweet text messages waiting for me or amazing people leaving lovely posts on my Facebook wall, friendship is about finding people who you truly feel connected with and who appreciate you in your entirety.

A truly wonderful friendship that is Casablanca-ending-worthy is rare and precious. So why should we settle for classifications like “BFF” and “Soul Sister” when we know that the relationships we have with certain people are not based on really “liking” each other? I have “friends” who want me to be their therapist and “friends” who want to be my therapist (um no thanks). I have “friends” who belittle my quirks (what, you don’t like my abrupt rambling and bursting into song? Fine) and “friends” who only stick with me because my quirks are attention-grabbing.

Why do I spend so much time interacting with “friends” when the actual friends with whom I feel completely comfortable and amazing with deserve all of that time? Recently, Jimmy Kimmel announced something he called “National Unfriend Day” for deleting Facebook friends who really don’t mean anything to you. Now actual friendship of any sort (regardless of whether or not there should be quotation marks around the friend part) should not be deleted just like that. The whole point of my abnormally serious and emotional post is that we need to learn to re-evaluate our friend-related priorities in life. We must focus on those who truly love and appreciate us.

But let’s set aside the drama-queen-side of things for a moment, shall we? Let us think about what is to come and smile and marvel:

  • I have wisened up so I will spend my spare time with people who I can imagine myself walking away with like Humphrey Bogart at the end of Casablanca.
  • I will buy Christmas gifts and imagine how people’s faces will light up when they open their gifts.
  • I will celebrate my dog’s belated 5th birthday.
  • I will turn another year older in a week.
  • I will hope that a very dear friend K– who has recently moved in with her boyfriend (Congratulations! You two are so amazing!) will be able to spend time with me come Winter Break.
  • I will hope that I will not be so blind-sighted by “friends” and make time in my life for the valuable friendships I have managed to hold on to and rekindle those which I have so mindlessly let go of.
  • I will not hold so many grudges.
  • I will take final exams and at the end of it all throw my hands up in the air and say “Ay-yo, I’m done with finals!”
  • I will listen to Christmas music and dance around with my cup of peppermint hot chocolate.
  • I will tell you guys how to make an amazing upside-down pear cake.

Upside-Down Pear Cake (From Bon Apetit)

Ingredients

  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided, plus more
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons coarse yellow cornmeal or polenta
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 2 medium pears (about 1 pound)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • Whipped cream or caramel gelato (optional)

Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Butter pan; line bottom with a parchment-paper round. Whisk four, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Stir 1/4 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high. Boil syrup without stirring, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush, until sugar turns dark amber, 8–10 minutes. Remove pan from heat; add 1 tablespoon butter (caramel will bubble vigorously) and whisk until smooth. Pour caramel into prepared cake pan and swirl to coat bottom.
  • Peel, halve, and core the pears. Place flat on a work surface and cut lengthwise into 1/8″-thick slices. Layer slices over caramel, flat side down, overlapping as needed.
  • Mix remaining 3/4 cup sugar, 8 tablespoon butter, and vanilla in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add yolks one at a time, beating to blend between additions and occassionally scraping bowl. Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
  • Using clean, dry beaters, beat egg whites on low speed in a medium bowl until frothy. Increase the speed to medium and continue to beat until whites form soft peaks. Fold about 1/4 of the whites into cake batter. Add in remaining whites; gently fold just to blend. Pour batter over pears in pan; smooth top.
  • Bake cake, rotating pan halfway through, until top is golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out with a few small moist crumbs attached, about 1 hour. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Run a thin knife around the inside of pan to release cake. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.
  • Invert cake onto a plate; remove parchment paper. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or caramel gelato, if desired.

The Wise Words of Natalie (And Summery Fruit Cake)

Having lived for a relatively extended period of time on this planet already (or so it feels), I feel that it is my duty as a human being to share with the world some tidbits of wisdom that I have gained from being a human in the late 20th/early 21st century.

First, never leave a CD drive open and jutting awkwardly out of your computer. Because while you may think that you only need to get up for less than a minute and retrieve the next CD to import into your iTunes library, fate/supernatural forces will have it so that you move your legs/arms/head in a sudden motion and break your CD drive. You will then be in a state of eternal lamentation until the CD drive is repaired and your inner music addict is no longer suffering from withdrawal. Okay? That’s lesson 1. Trust me, supernatural forces definitely exist when it comes to messing electronics up.

Lesson two: we are all foolish people, so don’t be afraid of foolishness. Even if a hundred unkind souls are snickering at you, you can bet there’s going to be that 101st awesome person who’s thinking “I’ve totally done something just as foolish” or “How sweet/cute/charming/adorable!”. So go out and be fools because that is better than becoming an unpleasant person in the process of avoiding foolishness. In the long run, the people who you’ll really like are people who appreciate your foolish side anyways.

Lesson three:  stop analyzing text messages. While Faulkner and Tolstoy may have mastered the art of generating “read between the lines” exercises for readers, most ordinary people (i.e. the person whose text messages you’re analyzing) are not quite as skilled in creating those sorts of exercises. So, gals (you know who you are), there is no hidden message in that text. Stop worrying about the lack of a smiley face, which could only mean that someone’s thumbs were too lazy to reach for a colon and parenthesis (ee cummings’s lack of punctuation could be a different story).

Lesson four: never assume the worst. Think of a smile as an expression of friendliness and not pity. Assume that a lack of response is a side effect of being busy and not avoidance. Think of being smiled/winked at by strangers as proof of just how adorable you are. Think of tripping on the sidewalk as a lesson that 1) you should stop texting while walking, 2) you should stop wearing 5-inch stilettos, and/or 3) even if you’re too busy staring at that cute guy on the other side of the street, please continue using peripheral vision, but NEVER think of that as proof that you are a clumsy, awkward person.

Have I enlightened you? Good. That was the point of this post. And now…the recipe. Summery Fruit Cake. MM MM!

Something to always remind me just how beautiful Seattle is.

Summery Fruit Cake (From Happy Home Baking)

Ingredients:

100g butter, soften at room temperature
200g caster sugar (I cut down to180g)
50g sour cream (I replaced with same amount of low fat yogurt)
3 eggs, lightly beaten, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon or orange zest
210g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
500g fruits* tossed with 2 tablespoon sugar*
(You can use strawberries, blueberries, peaches, bananas, oranges, pears, apples, pineapple, or any other fruits that are not too juicy. I omitted the sugar and used as much fruits, either fresh or canned, as needed to fill the top of the cake)

Method:

  1. Wash, cut (chunks or slices, as desired) and drain fruits, toss with sugar (if desired) and set aside. (if using canned fruits, wash the fruits to remove the syrup, omit the sugar).
  2. Grease (with butter) and flour the side of a 9″ round pan or a 8″ square pan and line the base with parchment paper.
  3. With an electric mixer, cream butter, sugar and sour cream (or yogurt) till light and fluffy.
  4. Dribble in the eggs gradually and beat till incorporated in the batter. (The mixture may appear slightly curdled.)
  5. Add vanilla extract and zest. Mix to combine.
  6. Sieve over flour and baking powder and mix till smooth. (To avoid getting flour all over my work surface, I mixed the flour into the batter using a spatula, just a few strokes will do, then I used the electric mixer to mix the batter till smooth.)
  7. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth out the top with a spatula.
  8. Arrange fruits on top, don’t press the fruits down into the batter. Decorate the fruits as desired.
  9. Bake in pre-heat oven at 180degC for 60-70 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the cake. Cover the top with foil in the last 15 mins of baking to prevent the top from getting over browned.
  10. Leave the cake to cool in the pan for about 5~10 mins. Unmold and transfer to wire rack to let cool completely. Dust the cake with some icing sugar if desired.

Mixed Berry Boy Bait and a Semi-Annual Reflection

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Truth: I actually made this just so I could tell my friends “I have boy bait” and they would go “Oh do you? Ha ha” and I would go “No, I’m serious” and let the anticipation build and then break the silence by saying, “Mixed berry boy bait!”.

I didn’t make that name up–the cake’s name is “boy bait”. So I know you’re wondering just how many boys this cake brought to my yard (I am chuckling to myself because I just semi-quoted that song.) Here comes truth #2:

Uh…does my dog count? I seriously baked a cake called “boy bait” but sat at home and ate it with my dog while having an O.C. marathon and wearing gym clothes. So no boys came to the yard. Sorry to disappoint you.

And me, well, I was very content eating that cake with my pug. I think one of the seniors at the assisted living community where I volunteer once jokingly told me that the best part of being single was being able to eat the “Tiramisu for Two” at a restaurant all by yourself. I have to admit I see the truth in that statement.

Anyways, it’s July 7. July fricking seventh. We are halfway (plus one week) through 2011. Wait…what? Halfway? How the @#$% did that happen? I was just sitting here writing about boy bait when I came to this shocking revelation.

So here you have…my little semi-annual reflection of everything that has happened that is memorable in this half-year. Some of the most striking memories were the late nights I spent at the undergraduate library with my friends and study buddies. I know library time probably seems like the most unexciting thing to remember in a half-year, but remembering what happened there just makes me smile.

Like that night when my friend S– and I had only one energy drink, but became so energetic while studying human reproduction for biology that we made great fools of ourselves. And how my friend J– was so obsessed with playing Tetris, he had to take Tetris breaks during our study sessions. And how much laughter can be shared with a group of sleep-deprived, caffeine-dependent students during finals week.

What else? Let’s resort to bullet points (since those are my thing):

  • I developed a severe tank tan from the numerous hours I spent in the Quad ever since the sentence “Today will be a sunny spring day” was first uttered on a Seattle weather forecast this year.
  • I finished the organic chemistry series.
  • I fell in love with froyo.
  • I also fell in love with late night runs. So yeah I’m the person running like crazy down the street at 11 pm.
  • I performed at a Grieg Piano Concert.
  • I got bangs. And no pics unless you ask.
  • I dissected chick embryos and cat testes (probably not the best thing to put on a food blog so don’t read it if you don’t want to lose your appetite)
  • It became a habit of mine to take over classrooms during the weekends and plug my iPod into the speakers so I could have a room swirling with music while I studied.
  • I went to a theme park with some of my friends and went on all the upside-down rides that I was too scared to go on when I was in middle school and consequently befriended some of the gutsy 5th graders who went on the rides with us.
  • I got elected to be Secretary at the UW Cuisine Club for the 2011-2012 school year.
  • I rode the bus to more random places in the Seattle area than I have ever done before.
  • I started listening to alternative rock and consequently fell in love with The Airborne Toxic Event (they are my favorite band at the moment).
  • I found a new favorite coffee shop to get my morning lattes from.
  • I started shadowing physicians this year and learned more about the field of medicine than I have ever learned.
  • I set off a sparkler for the first time on the 4th of July. My friend S– also set off a sparkler and almost dropped the sparks on a woman’s hair. As hilarious as it might have been embarrassing.

Come to think about it…I guess it makes sense that more than half of 2011 is over already. What have you done this past half year?

Mixed Berry Boy Bait (Adapted from Une Gamine Dans La Cuisine)

Cake ingredients
2 cups plus 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
16 tablespoons (that’s 2 sticks) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup of fresh berries (strawberries, cleaned and sliced, and blueberries, lightly washed)

Topping ingredients
1/4 cup granulated sugar
zest of 2 limes
1/2 cup of fresh berries

Method
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 13 by 9-inch pan with foil. Grease and flour the entire pan, gently tapping out any excess flour.In a large bowl, whisk two cups flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl. Set aside.

With electric mixer, or in a stand mixer (using the paddle attachment), beat the butter and both sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy (about 2 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated and scraping down bowl.
Reduce speed to medium and beat in one-third of flour mixture until incorporated; beat in half of milk. Beat in half of remaining flour mixture, then remaining milk, and finally remaining flour mixture. Set aside.

In another bowl, toss the berries with remaining 2 teaspoons of flour. Using rubber spatula, gently fold in the berries. Spread the batter evenly into prepared pan. Set aside

Prepare the topping: In a medium bowl, and using your fingertips, rub the sugar and lime zest together until it becomes moist and fragrant.

Sprinkle the 1/2 cup of berries evenly over the top of the cake batter, followed by the lime-sugar mixture. [Note: I found it easier to sprinkle the sugar over the cake by using my fingers.]

Bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean (try to avoid running it through a berry). Cool in pan 20 minutes, then turn out and place on serving platter (topping side up).

Serve warm or at room temperature. Great with ice cream!

Lemon Basil Shortbread Hearts And Reading Food Blogs in Libraries….

While most library-goers are frantically practicing calculus problems or typing up papers, I’m the one munching away at my almond cranberry trail mix while scrolling through food blog after food blog on the library computers. Though food blogs beat watching Netflix and checking Facebook incessantly, I always imagine being labeled as “Fatty who likes looking at food” or “Loud Munching Girl” behind my back by the other students.

Do you not secretly classify your peers in the library? There’s the guy who takes up a nice seat by an outlet (which would have been just perfect to charge your laptop with) just to snore with wild abandon. There’s the Facebook addict who refreshes his/her home page every 10 seconds or so. There are the potato-chips-and-soda guys. They keep the library echoing with the sound of soda cans opening and the squeaky rubbing of a plastic bag of chips as they rip it open.

Oh right and there are hungover people. Avoid these at all costs. They are obnoxious and distracting. I’ve had more than a fair share of experiences with these on Sundays at noon in the undergraduate library.

Yet, nothing quite matches that feeling when you look up from hours of intense cramming at a certain wooden desk in the library and see snow.

And not just a light sprinkle or something my friend likes to call “Snrain” (snowy rain), we’re talking about legitimate snow. Not powdered sugar, granulated sugar. When my dad drove me home from the park ‘n’ ride yesterday, the granulated sugar snow had just started sprinkling on the road outside my neighborhood. The little pieces of snow fell on the road like Dippin’ Dots and whenever a car drove by, the Dippin’ Dots came up in a wild flurry like free-flowing air particles.

Granulated sugar…Dippin’ Dots…air particles. Snow is monumental in our world. It’s beautiful, it postpones midterms, it cancels school, and it makes it acceptable to lie on a lawn and make repetitive motions with your arms and legs (what some may call snow angels). Try doing that on a lawn without snow. You’d get stares.

Snow’s a pretty powerful thing.

So are shortbread hearts that I made for my best friends. As February comes to an end, try to spread the love.

Lemon Basil Shortbread Hearts (Adapted from Cherry Tea Cakes)

1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 or 2 T. lemon peel (to taste)
2 T. basil flowers or 1 ½ T. fresh basil leaves chopped
10 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks), cold and cut into small pieces
To begin to make the shortbread, in a small bowl beat together egg and vanilla extract until yolk is broken up and evenly combined; set aside.
Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add butter and mix until mixture looks like sand. Add egg mixture and mix just until dough comes together. Add lemon zest and basil. Form into a flat, rectangular disk, wrap in plastic, and chill at least 1 hour.
Heat oven to 375°F. Place dough on a 14-inch piece of parchment paper, lightly flour, and roll into a 13-by-8-inch oval, about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer parchment paper with dough to a baking sheet, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate again for 15 minutes.
Cut each cookie into a heart using a heart-shaped cookie cutter.

Place on a baking sheet and cook until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Remove to a wire rack and let cool.