Pansy-Topped Shortbread Cookies to Celebrate Friendship

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Spring is a season of renewal and wonder.  I love to walk through my garden and welcome back tender shoots of beloved perennials as if welcoming back a long lost friend.  Having reached a certain age when friends do leave the winter for warmer climes, a new spring ritual has become reconnecting with friends returning home.  This week my dear friend Dona returned from Arizona. We  met to walk through our local gem of a garden, Chanticleer(www.chanticleergarden.org/). Much to our surprise, there was already so much in bloom to celebrate friendship and spring and make our hearts soar with the joy of both.Imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimage

After our brown bag lunch, I surprised my friends with a box of flower-shaped  shortbread cookies each topped with a fresh sugared pansy, which I had seen on a favorite blog, Stonegable, last month. (You can see the original post here:  www.stonegableblog.com/2010/05/pansyshortbreadcookies.html‎)

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The cookies were easy and as scrumtious as they were pretty!   In French, pansies have such a pretty name, pensées, or thoughts…. Befitting for a girlfriends’ reunion to catch up on friendship!

“I pray, what flowers are these?  The pansy this, O, that’s for a lover’s thoughts”

George Chapman

Pansées, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Pansies,  Metropolitan Museum of Art, Henri Fantin-Latour, 1903

PANSY-TOPPED SHORTBREAD COOKIES(Adapted from Stonegable blog)

1 1/4 c flour

1/4 c sugar

1/2 c butter, room temperature

1/4 t vanilla

1 egg white, whisked

2 T sugar to sprinkle over flowers

INSTRUCTIONS:

Rinse, pat and dry pesticide-free pansies and leave to dry on paper towels.  Make sure to cut back all the stem and most of the back greenery so your flowers will lay flat on the cookie.image

Combine flour and sugar.  Cut in the butter and vanilla until mixture looks like oatmeal.  Shape into a ball, roll out on a floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness and cut out desired shape.  imageimageimagePlace on a parchement lined cookie sheet, 2 inches apart, and bake at 325 F 30 minutes until edges are golden.image

Remove, cool, then brush with a thin coating of egg white.  Add a pansy and coat the top of the flower with additional egg white, brushing the petals flat onto the cookie as you work.  Sprinkle with some sugar and rebake for 5 minutes at 325F.imageimageimageimage

Although best eaten fresh, these cookies can be frozen.  The flower will absorb moisture and its texture will be more noticeable on the thawed out cookie.

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Enjoy!!!!!

Luscious Layers: Peanut Brittle-Banana Pudding Trifle

Right out of college, my Pennsylvania Dutch husband accepted a job in North Carolina.  While living there, he fell in love with, not me, but banana cream pie!  He’s not a big dessert guy, nor that passionate about cake so I was never too sure what to make him for his birthday(my favorite cake usually won out!).  A few years ago I stumbled upon a recipe in Southern Living for a Banana Pudding Trifle.  I had never made trifle before nor owned a proper trifle dish.  I made it for him in a low, wide-mouth vase actually!  I have beeen searching for a perfect trifle bowl since and recently found it!  A young neighbor was having a Pampered Chef party and they had the best trifle bowl for sale.  This ingenius contraption had a separate pedestal base for easier washing, chilling  and storage plus it had its own lid. Image

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Brilliant and just in time for Prince Charming’s birthday!  With a name like Peanut Brittle-Banana Pudding Trifle, you know this is going to be good!

PEANUT BRITTLE-BANANA PUDDING TRIFLE (adapted from Southern Living Magazine)

serves 10-12

1 1/3 c sugar

3/4 c flour

1/2 t salt

4 c whole milk

8 eggs yolks

1 T vanilla

12 oz of either vanilla wafers, Nutter Butter cookies or pound cake

3 T bourbon or rum

6-7 bananas, sliced

6 (1.4oz) peanut brittle candy bars, crushed(I used Munch bars)

2 c whipping cream

2 T powdered sugar

PREPARATION:

To make the pudding:  Combine sugar, salt and flour in a heavy saucepan. image Whisk in milk and bring to a boil while whisking continuously.  Remove from heat. Beat egg yolks in a separate bowl until thick and pale. image Gradually add about 1/4 of hot milk mixture to the egg yolks, mixing non- stop.  imageRepeat 3 times and mix until smooth and thick.  Add vanilla.image

Crush your candy bars. Break up your cookies roughly or cube your pound cake, if using.imageTo assemble the trifle:  Layer 1/3 of your wafers( I used pound cake) in the bottom of a 4 quart trifle dish. image Lightly brush with 1/3 of the bourbon.  Top with 1/3 of the banana slices.  imageSpoon 1/3 of the pudding over the bananas and top with 1/3 cup of the crushed candy.  image imageRepeat this layering twice more.  Beat the whipping cream with the 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar until soft peaks form.  Spread the whipping cream over the pudding-banana layers and sprinkle with the remaining crushed candy.

imageCover and chill 3 hours minimum.

image imageHappy Birthday, Honey!

 

 

 

Hello Gorgeous! 3 ways to Showcase Hellebores

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imageHellebores are one of the first flowers to bravely emerge in early spring, often pushing through frozen ground.  Even before snowdrops or crocuses, they burst through with new life to bring a thrill to the late winter/early spring garden.  The beauty of these small blooms is often overlooked because of their drooping habit.   Continue reading

Pucker Up! My Favorite Lemon Tart

If you are wild for all desserts lemon, then this little lemon tart may very well become your “go to” spring dessert.   Deliciously simple, it is a taste of heaven for lemon lovers.  I first tasted this tart when it was served to me at a dinner party more than 10 years ago.  I just had to get the recipe and have since made it dozens of times.  Yes, it’s that good. Plus it always turns out, even for a non-pie baker such as I.image Continue reading