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‘Bake Happy’ cookbook highlights fillings and frostings

“Bake Happy” is a charming cookbook with a sense of playfulness and whimsy.

And why not? After all, the subject is baked desserts – from gluten-free and vegan Chitchat Bars with fresh ginger and a hint of lime to Citrus and Browned Butter Madeleines with Burnt Honey Cream and Fennel, Lavender and Lemon-scented Custard.

Eight chapters are divided mainly by dessert type (fruit, cookies, cakes, custards, tarts, meringues) and color-coded in soft pastels. Each comes with a short introduction, and recipes are topped with lovely little vignettes.

The biggest disappointment of this sweet and cheery cookbook? Most of the recipes, sadly, aren’t accompanied by images.

Citrus and Browned Butter Madeleines with Burnt Honey Cream

From “Bake Happy” by Judith Fertig

For the madeleines

1/2 cup unsalted butter

3 large eggs, at room temperature

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Baking spray

Powdered sugar, for dusting

For the honey cream

1/2 cup clover, wildflower or other amber honey

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

1/8 teaspoon fine salt

Make the madeleines: Melt the butter in a small, light-colored or stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat until it turns a golden brown. The butter will foam, then the foam will subside; bigger clear bubbles will form, and in about 1 to 2 minutes from that point, the butter will start to brown. Remove the pan from the heat and let the butter cool until it is just warm.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together until the mixture is thick and pale yellow. The mixture should ribbon from the beaters when you stop the mixer and lift the beaters up. With a spatula, fold in the flour, vanilla, citrus zests and baking powder until smooth and well blended. Fold in the browned butter, including the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until well blended. Cover and refrigerate the batter for at least 1 hour or overnight.

When you’re ready to bake the madeleines, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly but thoroughly spray the inside of a madeleine pan with baking spray; wipe out any extra baking spray as this could interfere with the scallop shell design. Fill each cavity half full with batter. The batter will spread and fill each mold as it bakes.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges of the cakes turn golden brown and the tops feel springy to the touch. Remove the pan from the oven and turn the madeleines out of the pan onto wire racks, using a table knife to help dislodge them, if necessary. Dust the warm madeleines with powdered sugar.

Respray the madeleine pan and repeat the process with the remaining batter.

Make the cream: Bring the honey to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until the honey has caramelized and reduced slightly, about 4 minutes. Carefully whisk in the cream until it is well blended and continue to cook over medium-high heat until the cream has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir in the salt, remove pan from the heat, and set sauce aside to cool.

To serve: Dip the madeleines in the burnt honey cream, sip your tea and wander back in time. Madeleines are best enjoyed the same day they are made.

Chitchat Bars

From “Bake Happy” by Judith Fertig

For the bars:

1 cup gluten-free unbleached all-purpose flour blend

1 cup almond flour or finely ground almonds

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon fine salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1/4 cup water

1/3 cup sorghum or molasses

1/3 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the icing:

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

2 tablespoons vanilla-flavored almond, rice or soy milk

1 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest

Make the bars: Line a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with parchment paper so that the paper comes up the sides of the pan. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and ground ginger. In a small bowl, whisk together the fresh ginger, water, sorghum, oil and vanilla until well blended. Pour the sorghum mixture into the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until you have a soft yet sturdy dough. Spoon and press the dough into the prepared pan.

Bake for 10 or 12 minutes or until the cookie is firm to the touch in the middle of the pan. Remove the cookie from the oven and let it cool for 20 minutes, then cut it into bars using a small, sharp knife.

Arrange the cooled bars on a piece of parchment paper on a flat work surface.

Make the icing: Whisk together the powdered sugar, almond milk and lime zest in a medium bowl until smooth. Using the tines of a fork or whisk, drizzle a pattern of icing over each bar. Let the icing set for 1 hour before serving. Store the bars in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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