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Nova Scotia Ginger Cake and Lemon Curd Sauce

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Between having a flu-like creepy crud and my daughter’s wedding, I haven’t posted in a while!  Well, I’m baaaaaack!  The wedding was beautiful and I gained a great son-in-law.  I’m directing a children’s musical this weekend at my church, so I can’t believe I’m posting this-but the recipe was too good not to.  Besides the kids are coming home from their honeymoon and my son-in-law loves lemon!

For  our 25th wedding anniversary my husband and I took a cruise to Canada.  On e of the stops was Halifax, Nova Scotia.  It was a beautiful place and we took a trip to Peggy’s Cove, a fishing village.  Totally commercial now it was pretty but a tourist trap.  However, we had an outrageous gingerbread cake with warm lemon sauce while sitting on a rock looking at a lighthouse.  I have been searching for that recipe ever since!  The cake was dark, spicy, moist and yummy!  The lemon sauce added the right amount of tartness and sweetness-a winning combination!

This recipe comes very close to the gingerbread at The Sou’Wester at Peggy’s Cove.  This recipe comes from a cookbook called “From Old Nova Scotia Kitchens”-I had to tweak it a little because the cake wasn’t cooking in the middle.  I added 10 minutes and then 10 more- and then it was done!  The sauce is really lemon curd that can be used warm immediately or refrigerated and heated to thin at a later time (or used as a delicious lemon curd!).  Warning-these are not  low-calorie recipes! Enjoy!

Nova Scotia Ginger Cake

1/4 c. butter

1/4 c. shortening (I use Butter Flavor Crisco)

1/2 c. sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 c. molasses

2 1/2 c. flour

1 1/2 t. baking soda

1/2 t. salt

1 t. ground ginger

1 t. cinnamon

1/2 t. ground cloves

1 c. hot water

Cream together butter, shortening and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs and molasses and mix until smooth.  Add dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves.  Add hot water and beat until smooth.  Pour into a prepared (butter and flour or spray) 9″x9″ pan (I used a 9″ round).  Bake at 350 F. for 50-55  minutes.  A toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake should come out clean. Serve warm with Lemon Curd Sauce.  Can be reheated in microwave, cover with a paper towel.

Lemon Curd Sauce

6 eggs

Juice and zest of 3 lemons

2 c. sugar

1/2 c. butter (unsalted) (1 stick)

In the top of a double boiler with simmering water underneath blend the eggs lemon juice and zest and sugar.  Add the butter cut into pieces and cook stirring constantly until as thick as honey.  Use immediately, warm or cool and refrigerate.  Can be reheated for sauce or used cool as a lemon curd filling or spread.

Tips

1.  Make sure you use the right size pan for the cake-it could make a difference in the moistness and doneness!

2.  The sauce takes a long time to thicken, be patient.  Do not be tempted to put it directly on the stove-it will burn!

3.  This is addicting-don’t blame me for your weight gain!

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Lemon Polenta Cookies

I am a sucker for texture!  Creme Brulee with a crunchy top, creamy ice cream with sandy cookies or crumbly cake mixed in, rice pudding with a bite to the rice… I don’t know why, but the texture of foods speak to me.  These cookies have texture, there’s a certain crunch and sandiness the polenta adds to the cookie that makes them irresistible!  The fragrance of the fresh lemon zest only adds to the appeal.

Just a warning-you need some “special” equipment for these cookies and a lot of muscle!  The cookies need to be piped out in an “s” shape, so you need a pastry bag fitted with a 7/16″ star tip.  If you can fit the tip at the corner of a plastic zip top bag, then you don’t need the pastry bag.  They do make plastic, washable and reusable pastry bags and they’re pretty cheap.  Ateco and Wilson make great tips and they ‘re very cheap.  As for the muscle, the dough isn’t the easiest to squeeze out, I’ve been sore a few tines after making double batches of these delectable morsels!  I’ve even considered teaching my husband how to pipe out the dough!

These are my daughter’s Christmas favorite and we never leave them out.  If you decide to “bite the bullet” and try these-you won’t be disappointed!

Lemon Polenta Cookies (about 2 1/2 dozen cookies)

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour                                            2/3 cup sugar

1 cup polenta or coarse corn meal                                1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon salt                                                              1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp               1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk together flour, polenta and salt in bowl.

Put butter, sugar and lemon zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Beat on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add yolk and egg, one at a time, beating after each addition to combine.  Mix in vanilla.  Gradually add in flour mixture, beat until just combined.  Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a 7/16″ star tip.

Pipe “s” shapes about 3″ long and 1″ wide, spacing 1 1/2″ apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment (or silpat). Chill in freezer until firm, about 30 minutes.  Bake cookies until edges are golden, 15-18 minutes, rotating halfway through.  Transfer cookies, parchment and all to wire racks, cool 10 minutes.  Transfer cookies to racks to cool completely.  Can be stored in an airtight container for 1 week.

 

Tips

1. I can’t say enough about using the right tools for the right job.  I believe that if you have the right equipment, half the battle is one.  A microplane is the best tool for grating zest for cookies and a plastic pastry bag is the right tool for piping!  (I could go on and on about a proper stand mixer-but I won’t.  At least not now!).

2. DO NOT LET THE DOUGH STAND!  It becomes stiffer and harder to work with.  I think the polenta starts to really absorb the liquid and stiffens the dough, it also loses some crunch.

3. You really need to work at the piping, there’s no getting around it.  It’s hard work, but it’s worth it.

4. I don’t transfer the cookies,  parchment and all to the wire racks.  I let them cool a little on the silpat and then transfer just the cookies to the racks.  The cookies are none the worse for wear.

5. Once cool, I freeze the cookies.  The lose nothing in flavor or texture (and you know how I feel about texture!) and they last forever! Enjoy!