Just Jan’s: Jams, Preserves, Curds, Marmalade……Fruit Spreads and More #Review! Plus, a Meyer Lemon Sponge Cake #Recipe

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Being a fruit lover and especially when made into purees and spreads, the one thing I find difficult in locating, is good jams and the such. The market is flooded with everything from gourmet brands, local “Farmers Market” varieties, to the common major brands and store brands. You flip a jar over and you find that there is much more going on than just the fruit. Heck, sometimes even the fruit itself is last on the list and I’m sorry but when you advertise a spread as Raspberry, but you start with apple, pear, and white grape……I may smell Raspberry in the jar but that is as close as I may be getting to one! Jars of shame is what they should be called! I no longer even venture further if the list of ingredients starts wrong, no matter the art/picture in the front, if the prominent fruit pictured is not the only fruit being used. You tell me Raspberry and the next question should be with seeds or seedless? Not, red dyes, strawberry as a filler, and flavor enhancers, plus an emulsifier here and there to hold the lab experiment together. I desire simple, real and honest ingredients.

 

When Tryazon offered me the Just Jan’s campaign, I first did some nosing around. I did not want to take a spot away if in the end by just looking at the list of what makes this stuff…..well, is not to my liking. I first spot the “About Us” page and notice that Jan started this company in 2012. Has a dog in the picture (always a plus) and I see no preservatives, 14% lower in sugar and refusing to compromise quality or flavor. Okay, Jan, you are my long lost twin! I found ya! So, I quickly sign-up and especially when the Fig fruit spread and Lemon curd were the focus of the campaign. Hard finding a good fig spread. So many are figgy jello like spreads that sort of spread in a lumpy manner even though they have few seeds and fruit. It’s like the sugar water they made, found a way to keep together wants to stay forever together. It then tastes like if someone just took fig juice and jarred it. No backbone to the product and it’s really mostly water and sugar…..oh, and some even get cute and add caramel coloring. The only thing cute is Jan’s dog and after that, she is serious about the 13 different products she offers.

Retail Price Point: $6.95 to $7.50 per jar.  Each jar measures a generous 10 ounces.  My gift pack is the “green gift pack“.  The green gift pack sells for just $15.00 and comes with 6 jars.  This pack includes, Kadota Fig, Tangerine Marmalade, Meyer Lemon Curd, Muscadine Grape, Apricot, and Seedless Raspberry.  They sell a red gift pack but it seems to be out of stock at the moment.

I started off with tasting the Lemon Curd. I buy two different brands and one being from Trader Joe’s. Jan’s has a more lemon flavor, is less yellow in color and less sweeter. The curd is lighter in texture too. This means I can have more options when using it. I decided from the get go making a marbled Meyer Lemon pound cake. As the days passed and I ate this curd. That seemed like the lazy way out. I wanted the spread to be the focus more. So, I changed it around and decided on a Meyer Lemon Sponge Cake! It’s still Spring and Summer is like right there, just a few inches away from getting into pool weather, so why not a more lighter and delicate dessert. This also allowed me to make Jan’s Meyer Lemon Curd the focal point. You also need no milk or butter because again, this about the Meyer Lemon Curd popping!

Let’s Begin……

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs at room temperature (divided)
  • 3.5 ounces of Sugar
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of Vanilla
  • 1/2 a Zest of a Meyer Lemon, Sweet Lemon or just a normal Lemon
  • 1/4 cup of Lemon Juice from the lemon you used for zest
  • 1/2 cup of Cake Flour
  • Jan’s Meyer Lemon Curd (about a teaspoon to a tablespoon of spread per cakelette, so you will need 6 teaspoons or tablespoons because you add the amount you are comfortable with)

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This recipe is a super easy and fast to make. Set the oven to warm at 350 degrees and I used the Convection mode.

Then divide the eggs and first whip the egg whites until firm and form peaks. Not soft peaks or super firm ones, just peaks (somewhere in between). Scoop the egg whites out and set aside.

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Then add to the mixing bowl the 2 yolks, the sugar, the zest, the lemon juice and the vanilla. Whip for about a minute and stopping in between to scrape down and around, just so everything mixes well.

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Then in intervals, add 1/2 of the egg whites and 1/2 of the amount of cake flour. Whip quickly and stop the moment it combines about 75% of it coming together. Scrape down and around, and then add the remaining of the ingredients until combined.  Again making sure to not over whip. You can also try the folding technique if you do not trust yourself by folding in the egg whites and flour. This makes sure you do not break the cake batter.

Then take 6 (buttered or cooking spray) ramekins and fill them evenly with the batter. The batter should fill about 6 of the smaller ramekins leaving none to waste.

Bake for 15 minutes. Then take the almost set cakes out and add Jan’s Meyer Lemon curd to the center (amount of your choosing) and return to bake between 4 to 5 minutes.

You can eat them warm by flipping them upside down and they taste like a Molten Meyer Lemon cake that is moist and light in texture (airy).

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You can also eat them cooled by serving them in the ramekin and you can dust then lightly with powdered sugar or even serve them with ice cream. A dessert that is done in 20 minutes and gives you the option of eating both warm or at room temperature!

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Verdict:

Phenomenal cake!  You can make these cakes with pretty much any of Just Jan’s spreads.  The juice and zest are optional and you can add a little more vanilla, even orange zest with juice, extracts of different flavors, and so on.  Imagine a center dollop of Just Jan’s Raspberry in the center of a lemon flavored cake?  Replace some of the cake flour (about a 1/4 cup) with unsweetened cocoa powder and you can create chocolate sponge cakes!  The possibilities are endless and in 20 minutes, you are munching!  The Just Jan’s fruit spreads were very well received.  No one found a negative thing to say and the most common thing said, “so fruity and not sugary, I like that.”  It’s nice to know I am not the only one that found ways to avoid jams, preserves, and spreads because they just stopped being what they were suppose to be.  It’s a way to preserve a fruit so you can enjoy it at any season.  Just Jan’s did just that and in the good way!  Thank you Jan and cute dog 🙂

Connect with Just Jan’s and find your favorite fruit spread (plus they carry a few savory blends) at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Just Jan’s and Tryazon. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

 

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U.S. Cake Supply: Chefmaster Liqua-Gel 12 Color Set #Review #USCakeSupply

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The month of March for us means Birthdays in this home. Everyone who resides here, was born in March. You throw in St. Patrick’s Day and those times Easter falls in March….let’s say it gets busy. I always run out of red food dye because of red velvet cakes. Desperate times means I have made pink velvet cake or even purple velvet cake! I’m picky about what I use from how the food dyes  perform to what they are made of, so I don’t always buy from the local market, which only thinks the one thing food dye is made for, is for coloring eggs.

Gel based dyes are great because they tend to be more stable and don’t require a lot of liquid to achieve the pigmentation you desire.  Extra liquid may result in your frosting breaking down unexpectedly. A little goes a long way when it comes to achieving the hues you desire, so the bottles last. Stability also becomes important when temperatures alone can affect decorating. You want dyes that you truly do not need to worry about and won’t upset or compromise what you are trying to achieve! Not nice when you spent time decorating to then have the cake be soggy because the dyes began to separate the fats (butter, cream cheese, mascarpone cheese ect.) from the water, which then started to affect the cake itself. I have been there where dyes that bleed and the next day everything looks more like a swirly mess versus the pretty landscape of flowers you spent 2 hours working on the night before. Don’t wake up to nightmares!

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Retail Price Point: A set of 12 colors is $19.96 via Amazon with free shipping for Prime members.  The bottles are made of plastic, which makes it easy to squeeze and control the flow of the gel (easy to just count the drops you need by gently squeezing).

When U.S. Cake Supply offered me to try the Chefmaster Liqua-Gel 12 Color Set, I was thrilled because I love to bake. These gel dyes can be used in everything from cake batters, cookie dough, sauces to simple icing/frosting decor. Even rices can be changed, so this is not just for sweet based dishes.  Sweet breads to savory breads too! That means you are just limited by your imagination! No worries when it comes to the Liqua-Gels affecting or breaking down anything because stability is what they do best, as they do to adding happy colors to your edible goods. The set comes in 12 beautiful and vibrant colors that you can even mix to make your creations go further, so 12 colors can easily become hundreds of colors by customizing your own blends. Like I said, no limits here! You get:

  • Coal Black
  • Royal Blue
  • Sky Blue
  • Buckeye Brown
  • Fleshtone
  • Leaf Green
  • Sunset Orange
  • Deep Pink
  • Rose Pink
  • Super Red
  • Violet
  • Lemon Yellow

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Create edible art safely as these dyes from U.S. Cake Supply are FDA approved (certified Kosher too) and made in the USA. I was able to create 4 red velvet cakes for my Husband’s birthday and the dye never bled out onto the white batter even days late. The last thing you want is red cake with white frosting that turned pink! The Chefmaster 12 color set provides color and no off taste. You just taste what you created!

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Grab a set at and connect with U.S. Cake Supply at:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from US Cake Supply. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Ardenne Farm: Giveaway for Chocolate Cookie Gluten Free Baking Mix

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***GIVEAWAY ALERT***

Ardenne Farm’s is offering one of my wonderful readers one free Chocolate Cookie baking mix, just like the one I received. To enter, all you need to do is:

  • Follow the company on Facebook
  • Via Twitter and
  • And, leave me a comment on this posting (the review for the product).
    Almost as simple as baking these cookies!

I will announce the winner in March 7th, so you have a little over a week to enter. Good luck!  Ardenne Farm’s will be sending out the product to the winner.

Final Product as baked at home

Final Product as baked at home

I used a simple Vanilla Bean and then press and enjoy!

I used a simple Vanilla Bean and then press and enjoy!

Ardenne Farm: All Natural Chocolate Cookie Baking Mix Review #ArdenneFarm

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Even though I love to cook and bake, there are days I want to break down and just be able to drop contents in a bowl, stir, bake and eat! My biggest guilt comes from when I grab a box and start reading or glance at the list of ingredients. The stuff has so many chemicals that they might as well include a mad scientist inside to make the stuff for me. Most of my boxed mixes expire and when I throw them out, I make a mental note to never buy________ again. I think it’s my way of telling myself I know better.

My family and I are thankfully not gluten intolerant but I am always open in trying a product that is gluten free to add a change to our routine diet. I must admit that most gluten free products I have tried, well they are like imitators but of the worse kind. Think about an Elvis impersonator and then look at the real Elvis (in his good days) and maybe the outfit looks sort of the same but definitely not the wearer. When I saw Ardenne Farm was kindly offering an all natural baking mix and it said the magic word “chocolate”, I figured I would give it a try.

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The Chocolate Cookie Mix is Vegan friendly and like I mentioned Gluten Free, but the list is short when it comes to ingredients. I know what everything listed is and that is not something I see at the common market when it comes to baking aisle.

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Ingredient List: Cane Sugar, Gluten Free Flour Blend (White Rice Flour, Brown Rice Flour, Potato Starch, Tapioca Flour), Brown Sugar, Cocoa, Baking Soda, Non GMO Aluminum Free Baking Powder (Baking Soda, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Corn Starch, Monocalcium Phosphate), Salt, Xanthan Gum, Natural Vanilla.

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The directions are also simple and it’s not like some mixes where I need to bring so much to the cookie party that I end up realizing, I just bought a box of flour with a pretty picture on the front that is only possible if I add $5 more of ingredients to make it happen. You just need one stick of unsalted butter and three tablespoons of water. That is it and everything else is included.

Ardenne Farms’ has simple instructions to follow and the only factor that differs from my everyday made from scratch mixes, is the 5 minute setting time after you take the baked product out of the oven. I usually only do 1 to 2 minutes, but this is a rich chocolate product that needs to set and I’m thinking because it’s lacking the gluten glue 🙂 Other than that, no eggs to crack and you just open one bag, mix and bake.

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Appearance:

The box yields 20 cookies and I am use to cookies being so small that when mixes state this, I know I will be lucky to get 10 cookies, but you see the cookie spreads out more than other cookies, so do stick to a tablespoon per cookie drop, versus the 2 tablespoon-ish I did. I am making ice cream sandwiches, so I needed a larger size. I now call it ice cream sandwiches for two, so even my oopsie has a fix!

Retail Price Point: $4.79 on-line via Ardenne Farm’s website for a 16 ounce box

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Taste Test:

My Husband has been negative about gluten free baked products because they are all impostors (he says). He told me it’s like craving a pizza but you eat a bagel bite and of course still crave pizza. It never fills the craving, so he of course was not too positive about me even baking this. He kept saying, “just make real cookies”. I ignored him and went on baking. I did notice the mix has no chips of chocolate but when I opened the bag, you quickly are taken over by a sweet and cocoa rich cloud. I say a cloud because I was hunting for chocolate chips and forgot you let things settle before cutting open. The smell is very pleasant. I mixed as directed, baked, and waited 5 minutes for the cookie to set. I tasted it and thinking is this just something we will be throwing out and I was truly surprised at how good the cookie tasted. It’s a simple chocolate cookie but the dark rich chocolate flavor is there and so is the softness. You can see it’s flat but it has that desired slight crisp texture on the outside, but it’s very gooey on the inside. I gave him half and he groaned and took a bite. He stated it’s not bad and took a second bite of the cookie (the thing has maybe 1/4 bite left) and then said, “for gluten free stuff….this is not bad but I call it more like pizzelles are cookies but this is softer”. In this house, it’s a win because he would just stop eating it and walk away from the treat. He finished the 1/4 bite and walked off while I finished the ice cream cookie sandwiches. I loved the taste and it’s sweeter than I make my own dark chocolate cookies, but it really is one of the better gluten free products out there. I would pick-up this product and especially for making ice cream sandwiches and not caring if it had gluten or not. The batter lends itself beautifully for this application and I don’t feel bad baking from an Ardenne Farm box, because the ingredients are “family friendly” and I know the cookies will be eaten. 🙂

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***GIVEAWAY ALERT***

Ardenne Farm is offering one of my wonderful readers a free Chocolate Cookie mix, just like the one I received above.  I will be posting the giveaway within a few hours and all you need to enter is follow the company on Facebook, Twitter and leave me a comment on this posting.  Almost as simple as baking these cookies! 

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Connect with Ardenne Farm and they have cookies, cakes, and all the sweet stuff your heart desires at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Ardenne Farm.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

Bob’s Red Mill: Crake! a Fusion Dessert made of a Cinnamon Roll and caKE all-in-one

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With all the fusion of desserts going on today, I thought I would enter into that playground and have a go at it.  I present to you what I call a Crake!  It’s actually pastry dough that I made using a blend of flours and a cake that engulfs each roll.  Being that Valentine’s Day is around the corner, we all need a hug and this moist buttermilk-based cake does just that to each roll.  So let’s get started creating and let me add, this has a sticky bun topping so I made sure to splurge!

We start by getting our starter going:

Starter-
3 ounces of Warm Water (105 to 110 degrees)
1 teaspoon of White Sugar
1/2 tablespoon of Yeast
1 ounce of Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Flour

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I have a proofing option with my oven that I set at 110 degrees.  No need to have one, so you can also place the starter to bloom in a dark warm corner in your kitchen.  I gently mix everything in a small bowl, but one with enough room for the rise. Then cover with plastic and give it about 15 minutes.

While that starter get’s….well started, I begin with the Sweet Dough Mix for the Rolls:

Dough-
3 ounces of Yogurt (or you can use 3 ounces of cream cheese, plus 1 tablespoon of milk)
2 ounces of Unsalted Butter (softened)
1 egg at room temperature
1 3/4 ounces of White Sugar
1 teaspoon of Salt
1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
6 1/2 ounces of Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Flour
4 Ounces Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour

Between a 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of All Purpose Flour (separate from above measurements) will be needed while the dough kneads.

I cream the sugar and butter together with a mixer (stand or hand will do, use your whisk attachment).  I then add the Yogurt but in this case I went with the 3 ounces of cream cheese (with 1 tablespoon of milk).  Add the egg and vanilla.  I then add the starter and incorporate everything, being careful not to over mix.   In another bowl, I mix the salt and both flours with a whisk.  I add the mix to the wet ingredients, still with the whisk attachment on.  Things will look a little shaggy at this point; that’s okay. I then change over to the dough hook.  I find using a little butter on my dough hook makes it easier in preventing the dough from sticking to it.  I begin to knead and add All Purpose Flour as needed.  Sometimes I need a 1/4 cup and other times I need up to a 1/2 a cup, it all depends on the elasticity it builds.  I knead for about 10 minutes using the mixer.

After the dough is a nice texture, I place it in a buttered bowl and cover it with plastic. In it goes to the proofer for a hour to an hour and 20 minutes. You want the dough to grow almost double in size.

I then begin on the “sticky bun” topping that I call “The Glaze”:

Glaze-
4 tablespoons of Butter (salted)
3 tablespoons of Maple Syrup
1/2 a cup of Brown Sugar

I melt the above items down and I find my little “gravy” pan works great as it has a notch for pouring.  Stir frequently and don’t hurry it up by turning up the heat.  Use low heat until things melt and just begin to bubble.  You want no sugar crystals (grains), just a smooth glaze.

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While the glaze melts, I get 1/2 a cup of pecans and throw them on some parchment paper to toast.  This intensifies the flavor profile and also adds a nice texture to the glaze.  The glaze will actually almost create a butter nut toffee texture over the pecans, so it is really delicious and beautiful looking at the same time.  I use my toaster oven because my dough is proofing in my oven.  Just place them at 350 degrees and then watch them so they do not burn.  It may take 5 minutes or 10 to be done, so the time is never exact but keep an eye on them until the color changes (darkens slightly).

Nuts-
1/2 cup of toasted Pecans (or any nut of your choice)

I then get a glass pan that I will use to bake this entire concoction in.  I use a “lasagna” pan that is the size of 9 x 13 inches (3 quart).  This allows enough room for the rolls to rise and for the cake batter to fit.  I use cooking spray on the glass and then place parchment.  The spray allows my parchment paper to stick and stay put better so I don’t have to fuss with it.  I also find that it’s easier to first cut and shape the paper to your liking BEFORE spraying so you don’t then end up with baking spray on your hands too.  Yes, it has happened where I forget and then end up with slippery hands!

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Pour the glaze onto the paper and make sure to help it spread evenly.  Once it spreads out, add the Pecans.

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I get started in making the filling for the Rolls:
Roll Filling-
You can use the standard cinnamon roll filling of 1/2 tablespoons of melted Butter, 1 cup of Brown Sugar, 1/2 to 3/4 tablespoon of ground Cinnamon, with a dash of Nutmeg.
Roll Filling Variations-
With Strawberries being in season and I am going for a Valentine’s Day dessert, I picked Strawberries.  You can go with any berry you wish like Blackberries or even a mix.  I used 6 ounces of fresh Strawberries that I sliced up and because they were already sweet, I used less than a teaspoon of White Sugar and just tossed them.  Take note the glaze is sweet and you don’t want an overly sweet filing too but do sugar the fruit by taste.
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By now the dough has “poofed” to my liking and close enough to being double the size so I get it out of the proofer and just flip it on to a floured surface.  Have a 1/2 cup of flour ready if needed when it comes to rolling the dough out.  I roll the dough out to about 14 inches (length wise).  I then spread the filling and in this case the fruit, and then I begin to roll like I would any cinnamon roll.
You want 8 rolls in total and this is my method:
Cut the ends off and then cut the roll in half.
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You now have 2 small rolls and you will cut each on in half again.
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You now have 4 pieces and you then simply cut each piece in half and you end up with 8 (close enough) equally sized rolls.
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Place the rolls in the pan that has the glaze and in it goes back in the oven to proof for about 30 to 45 minutes.  You want expansion but not so much that you won’t have room for cake batter.
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While the rolls proof, off we go to make the cake batter.  Start making the batter when you are about 10 minutes away from the rolls finish proofing:
Buttermilk Cake Batter-
3/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Flour
1/4 cup of Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 cup of White Sugar
1/2 teaspoon of Salt
1/3 cup of Unsalted Butter
1 Egg (room temperature)
1/2 teaspoon of Maple Syrup
1/2 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
1/4 teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon
3/4 cup of Buttermilk
Cream the sugar and butter together.  While that incorporates nicely, get the 3/4 cup of buttermilk and add the egg, vanilla, maple syrup to it until well blended.  Then in a separate bowl blend the dry ingredients, the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Once the butter and sugar are nice and creamy, add 1/2 of the “wet” buttermilk mixture and 1/2 of the “dry” flour mixture to the mixing bowl.  Make sure to not over mix as this results in a tough textured cake.  Scrape the sides and bottom, then add the rest of the wet and dry ingredients.
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
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Take the rolls out of the proofer and then add the cake batter to the areas around each roll.  Make sure to not get cake batter on the top of the rolls since you do not want a soggy roll.  A couple of drips is okay but do not spread the cake batter on top of the rolls.  I used all my cake batter because the point here is for the cake to rise to the height of the rolls.  You do not want when you flip these over to collapse.
By now my bossy oven has beeped at me that it is ready for the Crake to go in.  I then bake it between 30 to 40 minutes.  If you see it start to over brown, just place foil on top and make sure to not over bake.  Take it out when the cake is set and a toothpick comes out clean.  Mine was ready at 37 minutes.
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I allow the pan to cool for 8 to 10 minutes and carefully place a dish that accommodates the size of the pan you used over the Crake.  I use a glass cutting board so that I just dirty one thing and I can just slice when needed.  Use oven mitts to keep a nice grip and also in case it’s too hot.  Flip and this is where you will thank the parchment paper….just carefully peel and I use a small spatula in case a pecan here or there tries to escape.
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Viola, you made a Crake!
I then heated up dinner and allowed the Crake to cool.  It won’t get soggy on the bottom as the glaze stays on top.  After dinner I cut into it and served it with a whipped topping made of Heavy Cream, Mascarpone Cheese, and Powdered Sugar.  You just whip until you get nice stiff peaks but don’t over-whip as you will make butter.  To let my guest know the pastry had a Strawberry filling, I added a cut Fresh Strawberry on top and also a whole one to a dollop of whipped cream I placed on the plate.  This allows anyone to get more topping in case I went light on it.  Enjoy!
You can do this any way you desire.  What I mean is this is a dessert that is really two-in-one.  Want to just make the glaze and the cake, you can.  Stop at the glaze and the rolls….go for it.  I write my recipes as I go on a note pad and the above was created on my first try, so if I can do it, so can you…..so make it any way you want 🙂
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I received some of the above products free of charge from Bob’s Red Mill, an employee-owned company.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.
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