Lemon, Lemon, Lemon
Spring has sprung all over the blog world. Andrea is making Easter cupcakes, Erica is baking her farmer’s market asparagus, and Jen is pulling out the stops with a cilantro potato salad. There are so many gorgeous spring flavors to come, with farmers markets opening and bountiful fruits and vegetables piling atop our plates. Do you find you eat more vegetables during the summer? I certainly do! And one flavor that comes to me every spring, every year, is lemon.
Lemon is one of my favorite flavors. Zesty, lively, and bright. A bowl of lemons represents summer, the south of France, and refreshment. In my future dream kitchen I will have dark blue and white walls with a large glass bowl of lemons sitting on the counter. Plus lemon can go with anything: from salads to fish, from chicken to pasta, and, last but not least, sugar.
That’s right, Miss Self-Professed I-Don’t-Have-A-Sweet-Tooth has a weakness: lemon desserts. I have never (and may never) find something I like so much as a lemon bar. The tang of lemon combined topped with melting powdered sugar is unbeatable. I could probably eat an entire jar of lemon curd with a spoon…in one sitting. Instead of laying heavily in your stomach, lemon desserts are so refreshing that they are a happy pick-me-up at the end of a meal. Lemon meringue pie, lemon cake with lemon icing, lemon sorbet, lemon pound cake, lemon pudding with crystallized violets (my Aunt’s amazing recipe!)…yes, you can say I am a bit obsessed.
I have recently been hunting for a lighter cheesecake. Z grew up with Polish cheesecake, which is much fluffier than the traditional American version, and I prefer it that way as well. What I came across was a recipe for Turkish yogurt cake, Tatlisi, a citrus Greek yogurt cake. The reviews were astonishing for this light treat, and I still had a big container of Stonyfield Oikos in the fridge. Whats more, I could pick whatever citrus I like, and I don’t think you need two guesses to know which one I went for 🙂
Mini Lemon Tatlisi (Greek yogurt cake) adapted from Holy Basil (makes 6 cupcakes)
2 large eggs
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1.5 tablespoons all-purpose flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill GF Mix)
10 oz Greek yogurt (I used Stonyfield Oikos — yum!)
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
The night before, mix the Greek yogurt up in a bowl. Cut the cheesecloth into 6″ by 6″ pieces and layer about 4 on top of one another (my cheesecloth was not very closely knit, so I had to do this). Scoop the Greek yogurt on to this, gather up the ends around it and tie them with a twist tie, and gently squeeze so water starts coming out. Once you have given the yogurt a significant massage, put the cheesecloth bundle in a sieve over a bowl and leave overnight. In the morning your yogurt will now be “strained” and have a more cream-cheese like consistency.
Preheat oven to 350* and grease the muffin tin.
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar to a thick, pale cream, 3-5 minutes.
Beat in the flour, then the yogurt, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form and fold them into the yogurt mixture.
Pour mixture in the muffin tin to fill each one to the top. Bake for 25 minutes or until the tops are golden brown (they will poof up, but collapse slightly when you take them out of the oven).
Let the cakes cool, then run a knife around the edge and turn them out onto a plate. These are very delicate little cakes, so be gentle!
*Note: I made a lemon sauce by mixing lemon juice, sugar, and water in a pan and heated through. This would have been delicious had it not hardened in an instant and become a dentist’s worst nightmare. Anyone have any good lemon sauces?
These cakes did not quite turn out like a cheesecake per say, but they were incredibly moist, delicately flavored, absolutely airy cupcakes. The almost gooeyness about them resembled the texture of a cheesecake, which I loved, but without the heavy cream density. The lemon flavor comes through lightly (I will probably add more next time) but along with some lemon sauce they were a delight. I would have loved to serve these with some fresh berries and cream. They were the perfect springtime treat, lacking absurd amounts of sugar and fat (the Greek yogurt was fat free). One warning: they are so light that you can eat 3 and not even notice! Or you will try to count how many have been eaten and look at your boyfriends puppy eyes when he tries to convince you he only had 3 of them.
What is your favorite dessert?