Last week, I got a new cookbook in the mail. The Joy the Baker Cookbook, to be precise. It is filled with so many luscious and beautifully photographed recipes….if you enjoy baking, you should totally buy it. Even if you don’t enjoy baking…she has other types of recipes too. Like coffee bacon. And a pineapple malt. Do what? A pineapple malt? Excuse me. I need to go to the store…..
Okay, I’m back. Anyway, one of the things that I have struggled with as a food blogger is recipe development. I have voraciously cooked recipes from my gigantic collection of other people’s recipes for many, many years, both from cookbooks and found online. I haven’t made up too many of my own, though. I mean, I’m not a food scientist, and I am unlikely to be developing an Alton Brown-like arsenal of recipes that employ my own culinary-scientific genius. I mean, look. Pretty much every type of recipe I want to make has already been developed. It’s true.
When I was going through the Teacher Preparation Academy at UTC, one of the things we were told over and over is that if someone else has already done it, you don’t have to spend your entire career reinventing the wheel. Feel free to use other people’s ideas. Use them, adapt them, make them your own. I won’t be reinventing many wheels, but more and more I have been looking at other people’s recipes and thinking about how I could make them my own. Perhaps I’ll borrow their proportions but use different flavors combinations. Maybe I’ll throw in some different spices, or an unexpected topping.
Back to Joy the Baker. As I was flipping through the cookbook, one of the last recipes in the book was for lavender lemon bars. Man, I love lemon bars. The sweet and slightly tart citrus-y filling coupled with the shortbread base is a perfect study in flavor and texture contrast. Lemon and lavender sounds inspired….but as soon as I looked at this recipe, I was struck with my own idea: mojito bars (mint/lime). Yowza.
I’m not exactly a mojito drinker. I’ve had a mojito exactly twice in my life. As you know, I don’t bother with alcohol. I do love lime and mint, though. The combination of the two…genius. Of course, the lime mimics the citrus of the lemon in the original recipe, and the mint mimics the herbaceousness of the lavender…but the cool, tart, sweet combo is all its own. Perfect. I would have used key limes if I could have found them, and if I had spearmint extract as opposed to peppermint, I would have splashed in a bit of that, too…just to ramp up the flavor.
|Prep time||20 minutes|
|Cook time||25 minutes|
|Total time||45 minutes|
|From book||The Joy the Baker Cookbook by Joy Wilson|
- 1 cup unsalted butter (softened)
- 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- pinch salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried mint (crushed lightly with your fingers)
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup lime juice (freshly squeezed-I used 2 limes)
- zest from one lime
- 1/4-1/2 cup mint leaves (I used spearmint)
- powdered sugar for sprinkling
|Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9x13 pan or line the bottom with parchment.|
|Zest a lime into a small mixing bowl; set aside.|
|Juice enough limes to get 1/2 cup of juice. Place the mint leaves into the juice and use a spoon, reamer, or other tool to agitate the leaves (this will get as much of the oil out of the mint as possible). I used my Pampered Chef tart shaper since I don't have a reamer. Set aside while you make the crust.|
|In a stand mixer, cream together the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy-3 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the flour, salt, and mint, then beat again on low until all ingredients are just incorporated. Press into the prepared pan.|
|Bake crust for 18-20 minutes (although in my stoneware pan this took more like 30 minutes. They sure take a long time when they aren't preheated!).|
|While the crust is baking, make the filling. Whisk the eggs and the sugar together until they are pale and begin to thicken slightly.|
|Strain the lime juice through a fine mesh strainer into the bowl with the lime zest, then pour into the egg mixture along with the 6 tablespoons of flour. Mix until completely combined.|
|When the crust is done, pour the egg/lime mixture over. Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned around the edges and set in the center.|
|Cool completely. Cut into squares and sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving. Store in the refrigerator.|