Strawberry Shortcake (a.k.a. #75)

“Here is an old-fashioned favorite that doesn’t seem to go out of style. ”

Excerpt From: Jennifer Appel. “The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/idq2G.l

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RECIPE LINK

As it turns out, I had some strawberries left over from the previous recipe. So, I looked around (or rather, inside the Magnolia cookbook) and found a recipe for strawberry shortcake. “Waste not. Want not.”

But, for some reason, I was in a hurry to get this one done. Oops. Getting in a hurry while baking usually spells trouble. And, well, a bit of trouble followed.

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A tender, buttery, light cake. Well worth making and well worth waiting for – to avoid breakdown.

LEARNING CURVE

What was I thinking? I dunno. I thought I could lift this cake out of its tin well before the suggested cool-down period. SEE?! Now I get it. THAT’S why they say let it rest and cool down for a few minutes. Cake and cookies are generally very tender and prone to come apart if handled right out of the oven. They tend to solidify in the cooler air of room temperature. As you can see, the main cake fell all apart.

DETOUR

Lemons… lemonade. Torn cake…….?

Strawberry shortcake parfait!!

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Yo doodle!! No complaints here.

What about “plus-que-parfait”?

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Oooh. Cool idea – I think – but it didn’t quite hold up in presentation mode.

Worth doing again. I would pursue the parfait idea more on purpose next time. I like the small tartlet idea too. Needs more thinking.

SWEET DREAMS !

(It’s bedtime where I live. At least, it’s bedtime for bakers.)

Strawberry Tart with Black Currant Cream Cheese Filling

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This post was supposed to be about Magnolia’s Srawberry Double-Crust Pie, but I was in such a mood for France, and the whole “tart” tradition, that I just couldn’t bring myself to make an American style pie. I ended borrowing from here and there to create the desert of the title and pictured below. I’ll explain:

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The stawberry filling follows the recipe found in Magnolia’s Strawberry Double-crust Pie.

The cream cheese filling comes from the Cream Cheese Pecan Pie. But I added two tablespoons of the black currant liquer, Crème de Cassis, plus 1/4 cup of black currant jam. The double-crust pie has no cream cheese filling,

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The crust was a classic,buttery, Pâte brisée.

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I cooked, cooled, then arranged the strawberry filling on top and put it in the fridge overnight.

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We ate this at home on the weekend, keeping it all to ourselves.

I plan on making a very similar pie for the weekend ahead of us, the Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie with Graham Cracker Crust. But that is still a few days away.

SWEET DREAMS!

Magnolia’s Vanilla Cupcakes (#77) with Vanilla Buttercream (#78)

““Everyone was always asking us which was the most popular cupcake at the bakery. Most people were surprised that it was what we called the vanilla vanilla—the vanilla cupcake with the vanilla icing (and the most popular color for the icing was pink).”

Excerpt From: Jennifer Appel. “The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/idq2G.l

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RECIPE LINK

My daughter and I baked these beauties last weekend. School work was caught up (or so it seemed), we had everything we needed and it just seemed like the right thing to do. After all, this recipe represented 50% of the book completed for my project – which is obviously running behind schedule —- but still running.

Nothing unusual – butter, sugar. “You know the routine.”

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Only this time, we multiplied by 3.

Do the math: 12 x 2 x 3 =

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What to do with 72 cupcakes?

Have a party! Make new friends! Make an old friend smile!

I think that cupcakes are the the quintessential “smile desert”.

See?!

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DETOURS AND LEARNING CURVES?

  1. Bananas: Not all of the 72 cupcakes were simply vanilla. I had some bananas that were headed south, so we threw them into the mix of a later batch. Every one brought a smile to someone’s face.
  2. SIGNATURE FROSTING DESIGN ! Oh no!@#$#! Although I need to develop my own style, I thought I’d try to copy the Magnolia signature style. It ain’t that easy. According to a Magnolia baker, it requires about 40 hours to master the style. Well, I’ve put in one of those hours.
  3. FROSTING QUALITY – Even though everyone said they were great (Thank you all of you sweethearts!), I know that the icing was not what it needs to be. Still too grainy and not stiff enough. What to do? Research tells me that I need to 1) beat the butter-sugar longer, 2) don’t be afraid of very soft butter, 3) let it sit for a few hours. I’ll let you know in a future post.511g9RsiBWL__SL500_AA300_

#81 Cherry Jamboree with #76 Sweet Vanilla Whipped Cream

“We started making this at the bakery when a staff member remarked that her grandmother made a dessert just like our cream cheese chocolate pudding squares but with cherry pie filling instead. It turned out to be even more popular with our customers.” Excerpt From: Jennifer Appel. “The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/idq2G.l

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RECIPE LINK

This recipe reminded me a lot of a desert my mother used to make called “Cherry-O-Cheesecake”. The crust in this recipe is NOT the graham cracker crust my mother used, and “cheesecake” was not the right word for her delicious desert. This desert comes from the Icebox Deserts section of Magnolia – the crust is the only part that is cooked.

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If mom had only known about adding nuts to crusts. We had a pecan tree just outside the kitchen door.

This desert is definitely layered: Crust-filling-crushed pecans (my addition)

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-cherries-whipped cream

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pecans for deco.

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DETOURS AND LEARNING CURVES?

Hmmm. What did I do differently from the recipe? Not much. I added a layer of crushed pecans between the cream cheese and cherries (probably not a worthwhile addition) and splashed a couple of tablespoons of Spanish brandy onto the cherries (Mom would probably not approve).

What about that tart pan? The cookbook says to put this in a glass pie dish. But I LOVE my fluted tart pans – L O V E ! ! So I took a chance (sometimes the only way to learn) and, voilà, it worked. The bottom of the tart pan is removable. The “pie” slipped right out of the mold and was lovely to behold – thankfully.

THANKS, MOM. I LOVE YOU.

HAVE A SWEET DAY – AND SHARE IT WITH SOMEONE

#80, Rum Mocha Cheesecake with #79, Chocolate Glaze (and Raspberries)

“The rum, espresso, and chocolaty-creamy filling atop a dark chocolate cookie crust makes this cheesecake pure decadence.”

(Add to that a layer of Chocolate Glaze and Raspberries and … what comes after “decadence” ?)

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………Rum – Espresso – Vanilla……. ……….Say no more!……….

RECIPE LINK

Are you familiar with the story of the Prodigal Son? The part I’d like to mention is how the father does not care to hear excuses from his son when he returns from a far-off land (being a naughty boy!). The young man starts to ask for forgiveness and the father butts in to start giving orders for a party. OK. So, I’ve been gone from the blog for quite some time — Party time! OK?

What party? Well, a reading party in the ASD MS/HS Professional Reading Library to be exact.

Lots of new books are on display for the teachers, and Patisserie Chezbonneau was asked to offer some treats to pull in some reading customers. So………..

Teachers can find the following in their professional library today:

  1. Mocha Rum Cheesecake (with Chocolate Glaze and Raspberries) – the subject of this blog.
  2. Banana Bread with Toasted Pecans and Coconut
  3. Blueberry Coffee Cake with Vanilla Glaze
  4. Magnolia’s Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Icing

STORY ABOUT THE CHEESECAKE?

This was only my second cheesecake ever. I was excited about the flavors and that’s why I chose to bake it for this special occasion. Yes. It’s riskly to do something new for the public, but I had no time for a trial run and the whole year is a risky one for this Learner-Baker.

Risk #1, the crust

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Crust of chocolate Graham Crackers (lucked out when I saw these at the store!) and butter. Baked for 10 minutes, let cool, then it was time for risk #2.

Risk #2, the filling

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Visual flavor

In the end, it all came together.

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And then came apart! In the best sense.

So far so good. Chocolate has a way of attracting followers.

DETOURS OR LEARNING CURVES?

Actually, this cheesecake frightened me a bit. While in the oven, it puffed up in a very uneven way. The surface never broke, but the cake began falling around the perimeter and created a kind of moat all round at the edge. That’s when I decided to add the chocolate glaze and ring the perimeter with raspberries.

Yes, the final touch was damage control. However, the damage control took the cake to a higher level. Chocolate, cheesecake and raspberry. Here’s what the taste looked like:

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Speechless in Doha.

READ-ON!

And have a sweet day.

#69, White Chocolate Coconut Cookies with Hazelnuts

“All the exotic tastes of a tropical island wrapped up in one yummy cookie” (Allysa Torey)

DETOUR: i substituted Hazlenuts for the Macadamia nuts called for in the recipe, “White Chocolate Coconut Macademia Cookies.” I never think to look for these nuts when I’m shopping, and I had hazelnuts ready to go, so I sent in the sub.

SILLY EXCITEMENT: This is the first time I’ve used the kind of shredded coconut expected in the Magnolia recipes. It comes already sweetened.

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RECIPE LINK

Well, I had a little extra time on my hands this morning. We are having Parent-Teacher-Student conferences at school this morning beginning at 8 AM. No ducks that I needed to get in a row this morning, so I took the opportunity to bake.

ALERT!

These cookies are at my station and available to my students and parents who come by for a chat. If you are reading this blog and are at ASD, you too are welcome to drop by and put your hand into the cookie jar.

Wanna see what my morning looked like while everyone else was sleeping? Ok!

Vrooom. Vrooom.

Here’s a gif of our trusty mixer creaming butter with white and brown sugars.

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Here’s what Hazelnuts, Coconut, and coarsely chopped White Chocolate looks like BEFORE getting mixed up with batter.

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The volume of these ingredients was actually more than the rest of the cookie batter.

TAKING A PEAK! (Is it “peek” or “peak”? — still too early in the morning.)

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I put this on Instagram as “A baker’s selfie”.

HAPPY HAPPY

You can tell pretty early on whether your cookies are going to hold their shape or flatten out like a cow pie in the pasture (Sorry, but having been raised in a cow barn, that’s the most accurate image I could conjure.) As you can see in the photo above and here below, the cookies held their own.

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HAVE A SWEET DAY.

PERHAPS I CAN HELP?

#68, Apple Tart with Hazelnut Brown Sugar Topping

“This tart is a nice alternative to apple pie, and it makes a great dessert for a dinner party, especially if served with vanilla ice cream and perhaps some caramel sauce.”

Excerpt From: Jennifer Appel. “The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/idq2G.l

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RECIPE LINK

I am feeling homesick – for France. As I look at the photo above, I am thinking of all the apple trees at Chezbonneau that need pruning and the chestnut tree not far away from the kitchen window.

Wanna see a picture of our apple orchard? Sure you do.

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 This photo is from our first summer at Chezbonneau, 12 years ago. 

Back to business. What about that tart?

LEARNING: Crust – filling – topping. I knew the crust would be the hardest part for me. Making great pie crusts represents an area in need of much learning and practice. I am still afraid and hesitant every time it comes time to making a pie for this reason. And, as it turns out, I hit a bump — getting the dough off of the table and into the pan without breaking it.

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Feels “oopsy” to me. You know, like something “oops” is about to happen.

In the end, I managed, but not without tearing the freshly rolled out dough. Luckily, this recipe is very, very, pliable and forgiving.

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At this point, it looks promising.

Time to stop complaining and worrying. It DID turn our great and I’m happy about this tart for a couple of reasons.

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REASON #1: See that beautiful crust? You wouldn’t know that it was a very patched-up pie. I am considering making this my GO-TO-RECIPE for pie crusts. Could you use this crust for other things like a quiche? Yep. Just leave out the two table spoons of sugar (which I wasn’t supposed to put in anyway — but it was an accident).

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REASON #2: This recipe is headed in the direction of my original inspiration for baking – somewhere between French and American pastry making. This is not a typical French or American apple tart. Actually, I would probably get a “you’re a foreigner” look for saying “tart”instead of “pie”. But I am sure that both French and American folk would reach for a second piece of this. Everyone in our family did.

#00 Banana Bread Muffins with Pecans and Peanut Butter Chips

Totally moving as fast as I can this morning to get to school early but with muffins I’d promised.

OK. So I’m not bringing the muffins that I actually promised but muffin flavors I was hungry for and for which I had all the ingredients.

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RECIPE LINK SORT OF

WHAT’S THE MEANING OF THIS “sort of”?

The muffins this morning follow – for the most part – the Magnolia recipe for Banana Bread with Coconut and Pecans.

I have made the following changes:

  1. Instead of 3 cups all-purpose flour, I used
    1. 2 cups all-purpose flour
    2. 1/2 cup Barley
    3. 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
    4. 1/2 cup rolled oats
  2. I omitted the coconut
  3. Added 1 cup peanut butter chips

I was hungry for peanut butter and banana – one of my favorite snacks! So I put it in a muffin.

Also – up close and personal – anytime I make anything with bananas and pecans, I think of my father for whom Banana Nut ice cream was a favorite flavor. If you make this recipe sometime, eat a spoonful of the batter – if you too like Banana Nut ice cream.

Oooooooooooooh !!!!!! I am on the second floor of the house and I can smell those muffins RIGHT NOW!!!!

I HOPE they turn out as well as the muffins in the photo below.

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Thanks to Nancy at https://nancysrecipes.wordpress.com for this photo.

If you are a follower of this blog, drop by Gail Seay’s office to see if you can grab one of these muffins – or at least see if they have turned out tempting. It really is a “I hope so” this morning.

I should also have some in my room 1106.

If you are not at my school but somewhere else in the world, keep my muffins in your prayers.

HAVE A SWEET DAY!

FIVE OTHER RECENT DESERTS

If you’ve been paying close attention to the blog, you may have noticed that there are some gaps in the numeration of recipes. I’ve been baking – still not at a sufficiently high rate – but not getting the blogs written. In this single posting, I want to fill you in on a number of things, five to be more precise.

  1. ASD PROFESSIONAL LIBRARY INVITATION – Two Magnolia recipes.
    1. #62, Chocolate Drop Cookies with Heath Bars, Vanilla Chips, and `Pecans
    2. #63, Peach Cobbler (instead of “Nectarine”as in the Magnolia cookbook)
  2. SOMEONE’S BIRTHDAY
    1. #64, Raspberry Crumb Squares
  3. A BABY SHOWER
    1. #66, Devils Food Cupcakes
  4. ST. VALENTINE’S DAY
    1. Alfajores Peruanos

ASD PROFESSIONAL LIBRARY INVITATION

#62, Chocolate Drop Cookies with Heath Bars, Vanilla Chips, and Pecans

“These cookies have white chips in a deep chocolaty cookie, with toffee and pecans added to make them extra rich. Grab a glass of milk and enjoy!”

Excerpt From: Jennifer Appel. “The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/idq2G.l

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RECIPE LINK

Lots of stuff to be stuffing inside of a cookie. Left to right: Heath Bars (coarsely chopped), Pecans, Vanilla Chips. IMG_1311 Too flat! Again! Never thought that drop cookies would give me such a hard time. I’ll keep trying. It seems to be all about the butter, how soft and warm it is, how well it’s been “fluffed” with the sugar.

#63, Peach Cobbler (“Nectarine” in the Magnolia Cookbook)

“A lovely, not-too-sweet summer dessert that’s equally delicious with peaches.” — and so I did.

Excerpt From: Jennifer Appel. “The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/idq2G.l

As it turned out, there were fresh nectarines in the house, but I didn’t realize it when I began to bake. Perhaps I simply had my memory sticks set on peaches in a cobbler – THE kind of cobbler I always had as a child. There was a can of peaches on the shelves and I wanted to use them and knew that I could. Even the cookbook gave me free reins to substitute the nectarines with other fruits…. I obliged.

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RECIPE LINK

IN THE LIBRARY

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Cobbler in a cup!
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Have a bite and a book!

SOMEONE’S BIRTHDAY

#64, Raspberry Crumb Squares

“This scrumptious bar is a perfect blend of fruit and crumb.”

Excerpt From: Jennifer Appel. “The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/idq2G.l

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RECIPE LINK

This did not turn out well. Too much butter?

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I double-checked the amount of butter and I had it right. Still, the bottom shortbread crust would not firm up. It would just kind of melt – even after hours in the fridge.

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Looked like all was going well. I need to revisit this recipe before too long. I need to do some research about that crust.

After all, it ought to taste as good as this looks.

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A BABY SHOWER

#66, Devils Food Cupcakes (with Caramel Frosting – not)

How embarrassing! I ought to have pictures of a beautiful set of cupcakes for such an occasion, but I have none. The occasion was a small affair with colleagues and was a pot luck lunch as well. I made a meatloaf as well as the cupcakes.

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Click on this photo for a wonderful cupcake idea.

RECIPE LINK

MAKING DO and TWISTING THINGS A BIT

Even though I didn’t get any pictures of this batch of cupcakes, I did manage to pull off some YUMMY FUN.

  1. USING LEFTOVER STUFF– I didn’t make the caramel frosting (that’s the second time I’m making excuses for that) because I had leftover chocolate buttercream and cream cheese icings in the fridge. Having those icings ready to go was part of the reason I made the cupcakes.
    1. To the leftover cream cheese icing I added another 8 ounce block of cream cheese. I had never been satisfied with the earlier results. It wouldn’t stiffen up. The addition made a nice difference – a bit more tangy and stiff enough to stay on the cupcake.
    2. To the leftover chocolate buttercream I added more chocolate. I melted 4 oz of unsweetened block chocolate and stirred it into the existing frosting. YUM! I ended up with a darker, richer, chocolatier frosting.
    3. I took the cupcakes unfrosted to school and asked some students if they thought they had the willpower to frost the cupcakes knowing that they couldn’t eat any of them since they were intended for a baby shower. The power of chocolate and sugar in the air got them to accede to this pleasant suffering – and I decided that the baby shower wouldn’t miss a couple of cupcakes. 🙂
  2. KISSES and Cupcakes – I put a Hershey’s chocolate kiss inside each cupcake. All you need to do is put the chocolate kiss on top of the batter in the paper cup before putting them in the oven – and gently press down just a bit. The cupcake with rise up and cover the kiss. It makes a fun surprise.

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ROUTINE CHALLENGE

The morning baking routine I had before Christmas has got to change. In fact, a change HAS occurred to which I have not adjusted – a morning commute to work that did not used to be a part of the equation. I can no longer rise at 4 AM and have something baked and blogged in time to then make breakfast and get everybody up and out the door. I love the early morning, THEREFORE, I don’t want to rush through it toooo much.

ST. VALENTINE’S DAY

Alfajores

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RECIPE LINK

These were not red or made in the shape of a heart, but they were made WITH heart for my Peruvian girl. These cookies hold a place in our hearts whenever we think about our family in Peru and the AMAZING food culture that is there. These are VERY delicate cookies and worth the practice it takes to make but not break them.

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I almost threw the batter away to begin again because it was just TOO soft and sticky when trying to roll out the dough (like a sugar cookie) and then cut them. Instead, I re-floured my table, reformed the dough in a ball and put it back in the fridge. In the end, it worked. There are enough cookies here for 8 Alfajores.

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I am using store-bought dulce de leche here, but have since learned how to make my own. Next time I make these, I’ll explain that bit. Anyhooooo, this is going to be a sweet, milky, caramelly cookie sandwich.

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Powdered sugar for the final touch.

WE HAD A SWEET DAY!

Merci, Saint Valentin.

#65, Apricot Cream Cheese Streusel Bars

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Magnolia Man announces his latest recipe.

Trying to stay on top of things. School’s about to begin but I wanted to get this new recipe up for my followers.

RECIPE

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This 4-layer “bar” is the best I’ve ever done from the standpoint of technique. From the shortbread crust, through a thickened cream cheese filling, the non-sweetened apricot layer, to the crumble topping, it all held together nicely.

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Almost ready for the oven.

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Done! Look at that sweet-heart !

LEARNED: The importance of letting such a desert rest overnight in the fridge before cutting – as given in the instructions.

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Now whose gonna get this treat – besides my family and those I bump into while getting to my classroom this morning?

Maybe YOU – if you’re paying attention.

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HAVE A SWEET DAY!