Nah Nah Honey, I’m Good…

…I could have another but I probably should not….

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I wouldn’t be surprised if that Andy Grammer song was actually a sweet serenade to honey graham crackers!

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Chocolate s’mores: Use a chocolate marshmallow and top with Hershey’s chocolate syrup!

The lightning bugs are out in the parks, the tourists are flocking to Lake Michigan in droves, and I’m pretty sure there is a waiting list to reserve the grill on my apartment’s shared patio.  This can only mean one thing… s’more season is here!  When you make this graham cracker recipe from scratch, the whole s’mores process is certainly a bit more fussy than opening some packaged Honey Maid grahams, but is also makes the treat a whole new level of delicious.  Whether you’re toasting your marshmallows over the gaslight in your kitchen or over a crackling fire pit in the woods, these cookies are sure to attract the attention of kids, critters, and food snobs alike.

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Honey grahams sandwiching strawberry and raspberry ice creams that I made earlier in the year during pastry school. The perfect flavor profile for summer!

While s’mores are the quintessential summer cook-out dessert, another easy variation involves slathering these tasty graham crackers with your favorite ice cream to create these darling ice cream sandwiches.  I found that tangy flavors were the best match with the sweet cookies.  I took MANY photos of these sandwiches because everything about them screamed “summer.”  Take a look through these refreshing shots, and then try your hand at making some graham crackers in your own kitchen!  Scroll down for the recipe.

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Honey Grahams Recipe

Ingredients: 2 cups whole wheat flour, 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 cup margarine, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup honey, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/2 cup whole milk, 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions: Cream together margarine, brown sugar, and honey.  Separately, mix together all dry ingredients.  Slowly incorporate the dry mixture into the creamed mixture, alternating with the milk and vanilla.  Let dough sit overnight in the fridge for best results.  Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Top with cinnamon sugar to taste (excellent for traditional s’mores), or use sanding sugar for decoration.

The Naked and (Almost) Famous

June is the month when strawberries are at their ripest. What better time to make a fresh strawberry flavored cake? (Or be born, might I add?)

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This birthday cake order was my first attempt at a naked-style layer cake!  It’s four layers, for a 24 year old.  I haven’t quite worked my way up to 24 layers yet!  I really like being able to see a hint of the layers from the outside.  I’ll definitely be trying my hand at more “naked” cakes this summer.

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The cake had a bright strawberry flavor that I balanced with layers of vanilla Italian meringue buttercream and a pop of tart raspberry preserves.

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I sampled a few different cake recipes… while the ones that included the most fresh strawberry puree were the most appealing on paper, they produced mushy cakes that tasted like Special K cereal!  No one wants to think about Special K and weight loss on their birthday…  I did more research and found that recipes using a hint of strawberry gelatin along with strawberry puree maintained the most vibrant fruit flavor and color.

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I decorated the top of the cake with fresh seasonal berries.  Nothing beats a strawberry blossom!

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These colors make me believe that summer is officially here!  I was thrilled to make this cake and can’t wait to try my hand at other summer birthday combinations.  Let’s keep celebrating all summer long.