Easter

Lemon Cookie Butter Cheesecake Parfaits

Lemon Cookie Butter Cheesecake Parfaits

Lemon Cookie Butter Cheesecake Parfaits. Yes, you read that correctly. I will let that sink in for a moment. As much as I love all the chocolatey treats I’ve made over the years, this might be one of my favorite desserts I’ve ever made. I say one of because I definitely would never be able to choose. You know about my love affair with homemade lemon curd from Monday’s post so I’m going to skip ahead here and dive right into this no-bake cookie butter cheesecake layer.

Lemon Cookie Butter Cheesecake Parfaits  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you’ve never tasted cookie butter before (also known as speculoos spread), it tastes like crushed up sweet spice cookies that have been turned into a spread a little thicker than peanut butter. If that description is blowing your mind right now wait until you actually try some; definite life-changing experience right there. So this amazing spreadable cookie butter is combined with cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. Right when you think it can’t get any better, Cool Whip is folded in to make the whole layer light, airy, and perfect for eating by the spoonful. But try to resist! You need it for the parfaits!

Lemon Cookie Butter Cheesecake Parfaits  |  Lemon & Mocha

The cookie crumb layer is made with speculoos cookie crumbs, which are the same cookies used to make cookie butter. The predominant flavor is brown sugar with a bit of cinnamon. I used the Lotus Biscoff brand for both the cookies and the cookie butter, but Trader Joe’s also makes an excellent version of both products.

Lemon Cookie Butter Cheesecake Parfaits  |  Lemon & Mocha

The buttery cinnamonyness (say that five times fast!) of the speculoos cookie crumbs and cheesecake pair perfectly with the tart creaminess of the lemon curd. Top it all off with some Cool Whip and extra cookie crumbs and you are one spoon away from light, creamy, and flavor-exploding heaven.

Lemon Cookie Butter Cheesecake Parfaits  |  Lemon & Mocha

These are the first parfaits I’ve made and they do take a fair amount of time to put together. The presentation is spot on and they would look really nice for a shower or fancy brunch. Next time I might try putting all the layers in a small trifle bowl to reduce the amount of assembly time. And I say next time because these will be happening again very, very soon. Enjoy!

Lemon Cookie Butter Cheesecake Parfaits  |  Lemon & Mocha

Lemon Cookie Butter Cheesecake Parfaits
 
Yield: 4 parfaits (see note)
Ingredients
for the lemon curd layer
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced into small pieces
for the cookie crumb layer
  • 16 speculoos cookies, about half of an 8.8 ounce package
for the cheesecake layer
  • 8 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup cookie butter or speculoos spread
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 8 ounces reduced fat Cool Whip
for the topping
  • 4 ounces low fat Cool Whip
Directions
for the lemon curd layer
  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar and eggs. Place the saucepan over medium-low heat and stir in the pieces of butter. Whisk the curd frequently until the curd is thick enough that it keeps the mark of the whisk when you touch it to the curd in the saucepan.
  2. Transfer the lemon curd to a small bowl to cool. If there are small lumps of egg you can push the curd through a fine mesh sieve, but I typically skip this step because it will also strain out the lemon zest, which adds a lot of flavor. Cover the surface of the lemon curd with a piece of plastic wrap so that it’s completely touching the curd. Place in the fridge to cool.
for the cookie crumb layer
  1. In a food processor, pulse the cookies until you have crumbs. If you don’t have a food processor, carefully smash the cookies in a freezer bag with a rolling pin or meat mallet. Put in a bowl and set aside.
for the cheesecake layer
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese, cookie butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the Cool Whip and fold in until combined. Try not to eat it all and set aside.
assembling the parfaits
  1. Use parfait dishes or stemless wine glasses to layer the parfaits. Start with the cookie crumbs. It will depend on the size of your dish, but I used a couple spoonfuls. Then top with some of the cheesecake layer. You’re going to want the cheesecake layer to be the thickest layer (other than the Cool Whip on top). It takes a bit to get into a rhythm with these; I found if I used a spoon to push the cheesecake cream to touch the edge of the glass all around it stuck better and let me smooth it instead of it moving around with my spoon when I was trying to spread it. Next is the lemon curd layer. A little goes a long way; you don’t want it to overpower the cookie butter cheesecake. The layer looks thick in mine, but that was because I was trying to make sure it was visible it for the photos. Next top with another cookie crumb layer, then more cheesecake, then more lemon curd. Finally top with Cool Whip to fill the glass, smooth and sprinkle some cookie crumbs on top. Eat or cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge until ready to serve.
Notes
I used 11 ounce stemless wine glasses and it made 4 parfaits. Depending on how hungry you are, this was a lot of parfait for 1 serving. Maybe fill them only ¾ of the way up or use smaller glasses.

Lemon curd from Sketches and Scribbles.

How to Make Homemade Lemon Curd

How to Make Homemade Lemon Curd  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you have never had homemade lemon curd you are in for a treat. Homemade lemon curd is luscious, tart, and sweet with a texture similar to pudding. In other words, nothing like the jelly-consistency store-bought lemon curd I have purchased. Not that I have anything against store-bought lemon curd; I grab it if I’m super time-crunched for a recipe or if I’m simply mixing a bit of it into a dish. But every time I make homemade lemon curd I stand there swooning while spooning it into my mouth thinking, why don’t I make this more often? Oh yeah, because then I will stand at my kitchen counter and eat it with a spoon while making inappropriate noises. Got it.

How to Make Homemade Lemon Curd  |  Lemon & Mocha

Making the lemon curd is super simple. As long as you keep your heat on medium-low and continuously whisk it you literally cannot mess it up. You can do this! It takes a bit for the lemon curd to start to get thick. It will stay liquidy for quite a while and you will be ready to give up. But don’t! Because then all of a sudden it will become thick and you will be moments away from the most decadent lemon spoonful of heaven you’ve ever had.

How to Make Homemade Lemon Curd  |  Lemon & Mocha

Other than eating it with a spoon, lemon curd is great for topping all sorts of baked goods to make them bright and springy. Lemon curd especially pairs well with berries. Some of my favorite ways to serve lemon curd is on this easy puffy pastry tart with berries, on top of this lemon cheesecake, or as part of a DIY waffle bar. I have a couple new outrageous ways to use lemon curd that I will be sharing later this week so stay tuned!

How to Make Homemade Lemon Curd  |  Lemon & Mocha

How to Make Homemade Lemon Curd
 
Yield: about 1½ cups
Ingredients
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced into small pieces
Directions
  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar and eggs. Place the saucepan over medium-low heat and stir in the pieces of butter. Whisk the curd frequently until the curd is thick enough that it keeps the mark of the whisk when you touch it to the curd in the saucepan. It takes a bit of time for it to thicken, but just keep whisking!
  2. Transfer the lemon curd to a small bowl to cool. If there are small lumps of egg you can push the curd through a fine mesh sieve, but I typically skip this step because it will also strain out the lemon zest, which adds a lot of flavor. Cover the surface of the lemon curd with a piece of plastic wrap so that it’s completely touching the curd. Place in the fridge to cool.

Recipe from Sketches and Scribbles.

Cheesy Pesto Bread with Crispy Prosciutto

Cheesy Pesto Bread with Crispy Prosciutto  |  Lemon & Mocha

Could there be any more delicious words in one recipe name? Oozing with melted mozzarella, this bread is begging to be made and shared. But maybe shared with a small group of people so there’s more for you. Unless you bake two, then the more the merrier!

Cheesy Pesto Bread with Crispy Prosciutto  |  Lemon & Mocha

In all seriousness, this recipe comes to you from a very special place. It was inspired by my Aunt Karen’s pepperoni bread, which is a definite top three staple at all extended family gatherings. When it comes out of the oven quiet whispers of its presence get spread throughout the party. Everyone fulfills their duty of not being selfish by letting at least one other person know it’s ready without alerting too many people so you have time to go snag some yourself before it’s gone in approximately eight minutes. And eight is probably being generous.

Cheesy Pesto Bread with Crispy Prosciutto  |  Lemon & Mocha

When I think of a recipe that is easy, family-friendly, and perfect for large-groups I immediately think of Aunt Karen’s pepperoni bread, however, it doesn’t really make me think of springtime or Easter. So I set out to “springify” the recipe and came up with the Cheesy Pesto Bread with Crispy Prosciutto you are currently drooling over on your screen. The pesto brightens up the bread and pairs well with the lighter prosciutto, which still brings the same mouthwatering deliciousness as the pepperonis.

Cheesy Pesto Bread with Crispy Prosciutto  |  Lemon & Mocha

In addition to being completely whisper-worthy delicious, this Cheesy Pesto Bread with Crispy Prosciutto is a necessary recipe in your repertoire for two other reasons. The first is that even though it looks fancy with its hypnotizing spirals of cheese, pesto, and prosciutto, making it is very simple. I use Trader Joe’s garlic and herb pizza dough (hard to beat $0.99 fresh dough that tastes like you got it at a pizza shop), but you can use any pre-made or homemade pizza dough you wish.

Cheesy Pesto Bread with Crispy Prosciutto  |  Lemon & Mocha

The pizza dough is rolled out then topped with pesto, fresh Parmesan, and crispy prosciutto. I quickly crisped the prosciutto in a pan over medium-high heat, but you can skip the crisping if you are in even more of a time-crunch. Then comes the shredded mozzarella. After a quick egg wash to seal the edges, the dough gets rolled up, topped with more egg wash and Parmesan, then baked until the top has a gorgeous browned crust and the inside is bursting with gooey cheese. Done!

Cheesy Pesto Bread with Crispy Prosciutto  |  Lemon & Mocha

The second reason you need this recipe in your life is that it is a great make-ahead dish. Whether it’s for a weeknight dinner or a dinner party I love make-ahead recipes. Make and bake the Cheesy Pesto Bread with Crispy Prosciutto ahead of time then when you’re ready to eat it simply reheat wrapped in foil in a warm oven for about 20 minutes. If you want clean and even slices you can cut the bread after it has cooled before wrapping it up like a loaf in the foil. This way after it is warmed in the oven it will already be sliced and ready to be eaten.

Cheesy Pesto Bread with Crispy Prosciutto  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you decide to make your own pesto, I highly recommend this kale pesto. I make a batch of it and then freeze it in separate small freezer bags. I lay the sealed bags flat in my freezer to freeze so once they are solid they take up barely any room. Freezing them like that also makes it easy to break off a chunk when you need only a little bit of pesto instead of defrosting the entire bag. Since they are frozen in a thin layer instead of a block they also defrost very quickly.

Cheesy Pesto Bread with Crispy Prosciutto  |  Lemon & Mocha

I hope you and your family, friends, and lucky taste-testers enjoy this Cheesy Pesto Bread with Crispy Prosciutto!

Cheesy Pesto Bread with Crispy Prosciutto
 
Yield: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 16 ounces pizza dough
  • 3 ounces sliced prosciutto
  • 3 tablespoons pesto
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
  • 4 ounces shredded mozzarella
  • 1 egg
Directions
  1. Set the dough out to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with nonstick foil and set aside. Meanwhile, crisp the prosciutto in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Flip the prosciutto once it becomes slightly browned then continue to cook until the other side is slightly browned as well. Once done, turn off the pan and lay the crispy prosciutto on a paper towel to soak up any grease.
  2. Using cornmeal or flour so it doesn’t stick, roll out the dough on a clean surface until it is roughly the shape of an 11” x 14” rectangle. I usually hold it then let gravity stretch the dough to get it started. Leaving a 1” border, evenly spread the pesto on the dough. Sprinkle the pesto with 1 tablespoon of the Parmesan. Next, evenly lay the crispy prosciutto. Top with the shredded mozzarella.
  3. Beat the egg in a small bowl. Lightly brush the egg on the border you left. Gently fold the short edges in then, working carefully, tightly roll the dough up lengthwise. You want to be rolling from long edge to the other long edge, being sure to tuck in the short edge sides as needed. When you’re done rolling, pinch the dough at the seam to seal it. I like to pinch it twice to make sure it’s really tight. Carefully place the bread roll seam side down on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly brush the egg on all exposed top and sides of the roll then sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of Parmesan.
  4. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Let cool slightly then cut into slices and serve.

 

Asparagus with Creamy Orange Sauce

Asparagus with Creamy Orange Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

These next couple weeks are all about simple weeknight recipes. Sometimes when I plan the meals for the week I have such large ambitions and enthusiasm. It’s a Sunday morning, I’m feeling well rested, and Matt and I are ready to head to the grocery store with nothing but a lazy day in front of us.

Asparagus with Creamy Orange Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Skip ahead to a regular weeknight. I was just at work for 9 hours, now I’m driving through traffic to pick Matt up at work and go home, we’re hungry, tired and that hour long multistep dish is so not happening. Sound familiar?

Asparagus with Creamy Orange Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

I absolutely love cooking, but most weeknights, dinner is just something I want to get done so I can get to work on my to-do list, read or just flop on the couch. Lately, one of my biggest dilemmas has been coming up with different, but still quick, ways to cook our veggies. Enter this asparagus with creamy orange sauce!

Asparagus with Creamy Orange Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Greek yogurt, mayonnaise and orange zest are combined to provide a bright and tangy complement to steamed asparagus stalks. The sauce adds a little something extra to the asparagus while adding only a minute more of cooking time.

Asparagus with Creamy Orange Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

So keep it simple, but exciting, this weeknight and jazz up your veggies!

Asparagus with Creamy Orange Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Asparagus with Creamy Orange Sauce
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound asparagus spears
  • 2 tablespoons plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil mayonnaise
  • ½ teaspoon orange zest
  • Pinch of paprika, ground cayenne pepper or chili powder depending on heat preference
  • Slices of oranges for serving, optional
Directions
  1. Snap off the woody stems of the asparagus and discard. Steam until crisp tender.
  2. Combine the yogurt, mayonnaise, zest and ground spice in a small bowl. Spread over the cooked asparagus before serving. Serve with the sliced oranges if desired.

Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens.

Smoked Salmon Salad

Smoked Salmon Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

My brother and I are very different from one another, but there is definitely one thing we have in common: we both LOVE to eat. We also share a lot of favorite foods. I’m talking to you macaroni and cheese, sushi, and asparagus!

Smoked Salmon Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Another item high on the list is smoked salmon. Man, we can seriously chow down on smoked salmon. Toss us a platter with toast, hard boiled egg and some red onion and we are very, very happy campers. Or happy diners. I wouldn’t suggest bringing a smoked salmon platter camping, but that’s just me. When the two of us walk into a buffet we… oh you got the point already? Okay then, I promise all this raving about our cravings has a point.

Smoked Salmon Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

And it is this amazing smoked salmon salad. All the balanced flavors you love from a traditional smoked salmon platter with an added freshness. Refreshing leafy greens are piled with salty smoked salmon, fluffy hard boiled egg crumbles, crunchy mini pumpernickel croutons and red onion.

Smoked Salmon Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

The whole salad is lightly drizzled with a lemon and shallot vinaigrette that brings an extra pop of acidity and brightness to the dish.

Smoked Salmon Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

So a special happy early birthday to my brother who inspired this outrageous dish! I hope you get to eat all your favorites on your birthday.

Smoked Salmon Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Smoked Salmon Salad
 
Yield: 2 servings
Ingredients
for the salad
  • ⅔ cup ½ inch cubes of pumpernickel bread
  • 8 cups mixed greens
  • 6 ounces smoked salmon slices
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, crumbled with a fork
  • Thinly sliced red onion
for the dressing
  • ½ shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon capers, optional
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
for the salad
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Very lightly toss the bread cubes with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place evenly on a pan and cook until crisp, about 10 minutes.
  2. Place the greens on a medium serving bowl or platter. Layer the smoked salmon, hard boiled egg crumbles and sliced red onion on top. Drizzle the salad dressing on top then serve.
for the dressing
  1. Combine the shallot, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, parsley and capers, if using, in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup. Whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste.