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Archive for the ‘Cake’ Category

The weekend that Nate and I went up to beautiful Mohonk Mountain to rock scramble, we also attempted to pick some apples.

Unfortunately neither of us realized that apple season is September til early October and that the apples are pretty much gone by late October (at least in NY). Although it wasn’t quite as fun, they had barrels of apples for purchase. Since I already had my heart set on making some tasty apple treats, we grabbed a huge bag that probably had 2-3 dozen apples.

We also grabbed some hot cider and cider donuts while we were there, so it wasn’t a total bust.

Anyway, I’m not exactly sure what I thought I’d be making with all those apples, but this recipe is one that I made last year and it was so good I knew I wanted to make it again.

The cake is super moist and not too sweet. It could seriously be one of my favorite desserts. So if you still have some apples left from your apple picking, or you just want to make this since it’s so good, head on over to Smitten Kitchen’s website where I got the recipe.

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For those of you who don’t know, later in this week is Rosh Hashannah, the Jewish New Year.

The traditional food that one eats at Rosh Hashannah is honey, for a “sweet” New Year. So in honor of the holiday, I made this honey cake that my mom recommended.

Honey cakes are very often  made on Rosh Hashannah so there are a lot of recipes going around out there, but most of them are pretty average. I have to say that all the spices in this one made it really flavorful.

I can’t write too much more because this has been a long day…I got engaged!!!! What a sweet way to start off the new year!

So this short post will have to do. I hope you enjoy this, while I go admire my ring 🙂

Levana Kirschenbaum’s Honey Cake

Taken from Levana

Print this recipe!

Makes one 10-inch tube/bundt pan

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 eggs
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 cup honey (see note)
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup very strong warm tea (2 tea bags steeped in 1 cup hot water)
1/2 cup ground almonds, optional
3 tablespoons sliced almonds (add only if using the ground almonds)

In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon an set aside.

In a food processor, process the eggs with the sugar, honey, and oil, just until combined. Beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, add the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with the tea. Pulse 2 to 3 times after each addition, just to incorporate. Add the ground almonds, if desired.

Pour the batter into a greased 10-inch springform pan or tube pan. Top with the sliced almonds, if using. Bake for 1 hour or until a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Invert the cake onto a rack to cool. Turn right side up to serve.

Note: If you measure the oil for the recipe first, then use the same measuring cup to measure the honey, the honey will slide out easily.

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As you may have figured out, the challenge this month was all about candy! How very exciting.

The August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!. These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies! This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks athttp://www.chocoley.com offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy!

Candy is one of those things I’ve always wanted to try making but have been too scared. Having a reason to make it was the perfect motivator to give it the old college try.

And you know what? It wasn’t all that hard.

I did have a couple issues with the recipes. First, while I followed the recipe to a T, I think the Honeycomb candy had a bit too much baking soda (or maybe I didn’t mix it well enough?). In certain pieces of the finished product, it had a baking soda aftertaste that was not pleasant.

My main issue, however, was with melting the chocolate to the appropriate dipping consistency. I didn’t temper it, but tried the microwave method that many people had recommended. I think maybe I overcooked it? All I know is that it was more gloppy than silky smooth. This didn’t in any way affect the taste (they were amazing!), but it did make the process a whole lot messier and more frustrating.

By the time I finished, there was chocolate smeared on the refrigerator door handles, the microwave, all over the counter, on my face where I wiped my brow in frustration, and dripped all over the floor. I think I may have even seen a few drops on LC the cat. It’ll be a nice surprise for her the next time she decides to groom herself 😉

Filled Chocolates (made with molds)

Makes about 25 small chocolates

Ingredients:

Dark or milk chocolate melted, preferably tempered, about 14 oz
Powdered food coloring (lustre dust mixed with extract) for decoration (optional)

Other Equipment:
A small brush
Chocolate molds
A Ladle
Bench or plastic scraper
OR
A small brush or spoon

Preparation:

1. When coating the molds with the tempered chocolate, I like to do it how the chocolate pro’s do it (much faster and a lot less tedious). While holding mold over bowl of tempered chocolate, take a nice ladle of the chocolate and pour over the mold, making sure it cover and fills every well. Knock the mold a few times against a flat surface to get rid of air bubbles, then turn the mold upside down over the bowl of chocolate, and knock out the excess chocolate. Turn right side up and drag a bench or plastic scraper across so all the chocolate in between the wells is scraped off cleanly, leaving you with only chocolate filled wells. Put in the fridge to set, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Alternatively, if you’d like (or if your chocolate wasn’t tempered correctly and didin’t allow for pouring!) you could take a small brush and paint the tempered chocolate into each mold, or spoon it in if you’d like.

3. Remove from refrigerator and fill each well with the filling of your choice. With the mint filling I used, I rolled each into a small ball, put it in the chocolate filled mold, and flattened it.

4. Again take a ladle of chocolate and pour it on top of the filled chocolate wells, knocking against a flat surface to settle it in. Scrape excess chocolate off the mold with the bench scraper then refrigerate until set.

4. When set, pop your beautiful filled chocolates out of each well.

5. If decorating with lustre dust, put a small amount in a little bowl mixed with a drop or two of extract of choice. Mix well and paint in desired pattern on top of chocolates!

Sponge Candy (also called Honeycomb or Sea Foam candy)

Adapted from Christine Cushing’s Sponge Toffee Recipe

Full photo tutorial Here

Ingredients:

2½ cups (20oz/560gm) Granulated White Sugar
2/3 cup (160 ml) Light corn syrup
6 tablespoons (90 ml) Water
1 tablespoon (0.5 oz/ 15g) Baking Soda
2 teaspoons (10 ml) Vanilla extract
Vegetable oil for greasing pan

Preparation:

1. Liberally grease a 10-inch round spring form cake pan with vegetable oil. Trace the bottom of the pan on a piece of parchment paper. Line the bottom of the pan with the parchment paper circle. Line the sides of the pan with a parchment paper so that the parchment paper creates a collar that sits 1 to 2-inches above the pan. Liberally grease the parchment paper.
2. In a deep medium saucepan add sugar, corn syrup, water, and vanilla. Over medium-high heat bring the mixture to a boil (without stirring) and cook until hard crack stage, i.e. until temperature reads 285°F / 140°C on a candy thermometer (if using light corn syrup, it will be light amber, if using dark corn syrup it will be the color of maple syrup). This should take about 10 minutes. If sugar crystals form on the sides of the pan during the cooking process, brush the sides of the pan with a clean pastry brush dipped in water.
3. Remove from heat. Working quickly, add the baking soda and quickly blend to incorporate the soda into the sugar mixture, about 5 seconds. The mixture will bubble up when you add the baking soda. Be very careful not to touch the hot mixture.
4. Immediately pour the hot toffee into the prepared pan. Let set completely before touching. Cut into pieces. It makes a huge mess. But the messy little crumbs can be saved to top ice cream. Leave candy as is and enjoy, or dip pieces in tempered chocolate and let set.


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Ever since Nate’s last birthday, I’ve been plotting and planning a cake to top what I made him last year. He told me that his fave cake flavors are Red Velvet or Carrot Cake.

But I knew a Red Velvet Cake alone wouldn’t be special enough for his 30th birthday. So I thought bigger.

Nate told me that when he was younger, he loved rainbow sherbert and tye-dye, and basically all things colorful. So I knew when I was scoping the web and saw pictures of Rainbow Cakes, I’d have to do something similar.

However, I don’t have 6 separate pans for different colors, so I thought about putting all the colors in one pan, for more of a tye-dye effect, and only used 2 pans for 2 layers. I had seen that others had already tried this so I knew it would work out.

The only thing that worried me is that all of these were done with white cake, so the colors were very vibrant. I’d be using red velvet batter, though, which is already tinted slightly brown from the cocoa.

In the end, it certainly wasn’t as bright as it would have been with white cake, but it was pretty darn awesome.

But the best part was seeing everyone’s face when I cut the first slice. Nobody had a clue of what was inside that innocent looking white-frosted cake 🙂

Happy 30th Birthday, Nate! I can’t wait to celebrate many more with you…


Rainbow Velvet Cake with Raspberries and Blueberries
Adapted from Bon Appetit

Print this recipe!

Make one 9-in layer cake

Ingredients:

Cake
2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (sifted, then measured)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Violet food gels

Frosting
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

3 1/2-pint baskets fresh raspberries
3 1/2-pint baskets fresh blueberries

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides.

Sift sifted flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl.

Whisk buttermilk, vinegar, and vanilla in small bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Beat in dry ingredients in 4 additions alternately with buttermilk mixture in 3 additions.

Divide batter evenly into 6 small bowls. Add food gel to each of 6 bowls, about 1/4 tsp each or until desired color is achieved.

Drop the colours, one by one, into the middle of the pan, in neat concentric blobs.

When you’re three colours in, start doing the reverse with the other pan. Since I’m going in rainbow order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, I got from red to yellow in the first pan, then purple, blue, green in the second. This is so that your two pans are equal if your measurements aren’t exact (and they’re not likely to be).

For a good visual of how to do this, view here.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25-30 min minutes. Cool in pans on racks 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto racks; cool completely.

Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.

Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on platter. Spread 1 cup frosting over top of cake.

Arrange 1 basket raspberries and 1/2 basket blueberries atop frosting, pressing lightly to adhere.

Top with second cake layer, flat side down.

Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Arrange remaining berries decoratively over top of cake. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.)

Cut into cake and watch the amazement on everyone’s faces!

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Thank goodness the weather has been in the 80s lately instead of 90s. Unfortunately, I’m pretty tired of sweating within 5 minutes of stepping foot outdoors. I hate to say it, but I’m so ready for sweater weather.

Both Nate and my favorite season is fall. We love the crisp air, beautiful leaves, earthy smells and cooler temperatures! Plus, I love wearing sweaters.

So it would only seem appropriate that to celebrate our 1 year dating anniversary on Friday, we had a Cider Cake.

This actually came about because we had this bottle of TJ’s Cranberry Cider laying around for a while, and with the cold weather long gone, Nate had no desire to drink it. He also said that he had had it before and didn’t love it.

I hate wasting things or throwing them out, so I figured the cider would have to get used in some other form that we’d both enjoy. I scoured the internet for recipes that use cider and found quite a few, but I wanted our anniversary dessert to be something special.

So when I came across a recipe for a 3 layer cake with cider cake, cider filling and cider frosting, I knew that had to be it. Luckily, altogether it used 3+ cups of cider, but unfortunately that still leaves me with over half the bottle.

Next up I’m thinking of cider roasted pears, and maybe a cider vinaigrette.

This cake is part of the #cakelove bloghop!

you can see it here.


October Cider Cake
Taken from Oxmoor House

Print this recipe!

Makes one 3-layer cake 

3/4 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
3 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Cider Filling (recipe below)
Creamy Cider Frosting (recipe below)
Chopped pecans (optional)

Cream shortening; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves; add to creamed mixture alternately with cider, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in lemon juice.

Pour batter into 3 greased and floured 8-inch round cake pans. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove layers from pans, and cool completely in fridge.

Put a thin band of icing along the perimeter of each later, and then pool the Cider Filling inside. Put back in fridge to let it set completely or the filling will ooze out from the weight of the cake (trust me).

Spread top and sides with Creamy Cider Frosting. Garnish top of cake with pecans, if desired.


Cider Filling

1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter or margarine

Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a heavy saucepan; gradually stir in cider. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened.

Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice and butter; cool in fridge.


Creamy Cider Frosting

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon apple cider
1/4 teaspoon salt
About 4 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Combine first 3 ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat; cool. Gradually add sugar until spreading consistency; beat until smooth.

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lemons brown bananas, make banana bread!

My mom recently decided to bestow 3 extremely brown bananas on me. I suppose not everyone would appreciate such a gesture, but I was ecstatic! It’s rare for me to remember to buy bananas, and even less likely for me to have ones ripe enough for a perfect banana bread.

If you’ve ever made banana bread with yellow bananas, you’re doing it wrong. Even ones heavily mottled with brown spots aren’t quite there. The best bananas for bread have to be brown and so soft that they’re falling apart. If you happen to have bananas in this state and don’t have time to be baking banana bread, remove the peel and put them in a ziploc in the freezer until you’re ready.


Please don’t forget to peel them before you freeze them. I made this mistake once, and that’s all it took. It’s literally impossible to remove the peel, and just messy after it defrosts. Trust me.

Anyway, I wanted to make some changes to my family’s absolute favorite banana bread recipe. I’m not one to alter perfection, but I had some buttermilk leftover from making baked chicken fingers, and didn’t want it to go to waste. I also, for some unknown reason, had the idea that I wanted to throw some polenta into the recipe to give it a little crunch.

When I first took the bread out of the oven and cut myself a slice, I wasn’t sure what to think. It wasn’t the bread I was used to, and I’m not big on change.

But when I had another taste the next day, I kind of liked the subtle, crunchier texture. I mean, it’s not the recipe from childhood, but that’s ok. I can always go back to the old recipe, but I think this one might stick around for a while.


Chocolate Chip Polenta Banana Bread

Recipe by Me

Print this recipe!

Makes 1 loaf

1 cup sugar
1 egg
3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 cup flour
1 cup polenta
1/2 cup light buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325. Grease bottom of a loaf pan.

Mix together sugar and egg, by hand or with mixer. Mix in bananas, butter, and buttermilk.

In a small bowl, mix together flour, polenta, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add to banana mixture.

Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into loaf pan.

Bake 50-60 minutes til golden, and toothpick comes out clean.

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As you all know (or maybe not if you’ve only recently joined me), but I am a member of the Daring Bakers. Each month they host a challenge composed of a very complicated dessert that you must bake and post on the 27th of the month.

Unfortunately, last month I was in the midst of packing up my kitchen, so I wasn’t able to complete it. It’s too bad because the challenge was something I’ve always wanted to make, baklava.

But I’m back in the game this month with my brand new, much larger kitchen! It’s so nice to be cooking on the huge counters. I don’t even know what to do with all the space. You should see the mess I made in the process of cooking this. I used 4 bowls and two pots…just because I could!

Jana of Cherry Tea Cakes was our July Daring Bakers’ host and she challenges us to make Fresh Frasiers inspired by recipes written by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson in the beautiful cookbook Tartine.

This recipe was randomly requested from someone at work who happens to be French, but I put off making it because I knew it would take a lot of time. Well who would have thought it would be the recipe for my Daring Bakers Challenge! At least it gave me a reason to dive in and conquer this many stepped recipe.

Me and Frenchie

Honestly, it wasn’t as bad as I thought, and even kind of fun. I got real satisfaction seeing the finished product and knowing that I made that.

I brought it into work and it got compliments. Personally, I thought it was good but probably not worth all the effort I put into it. Maybe it’s because I’m not a fan of cream-based desserts. But if you are, and you have a spare weekend to bake/whip/assemble, then by all means give this a shot! 😉

These recipes have been adapted from the cook book Tartine by Elisabeth M Prueitt and Chad Robertson, the chefs and owners of Tartine, a beloved San Francisco bakery.

Basic Chiffon Cake:

Ingredients:

1 cup + 2 tablespoons (270 ml) (5½ oz/155 gm) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (4 gm) baking powder
3/4 cups (180 ml) (6 oz /170 gm) sugar
1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) (1½ gm) salt, preferably kosher
1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) vegetable oil
3 large egg yolks
⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon (3.17 fl oz/95 ml) water
1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon (3¾ ml) (3 gm) lemon zest, grated
5 large egg whites
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1 gm) cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to moderate 325°F (160°C/gas mark 3).

Line the bottom of an 8-inch (20 cm) spring form pan with parchment paper. Do not grease the sides of the pan.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. Add in all but 3 tablespoons (45 ml.) of sugar, and all of the salt. Stir to combine.In a small bowl combine the oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla and lemon zest. Whisk thoroughly.

Combine with the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly for about one minute, or until very smooth.

Put the egg whites into a stand mixer, and beat on medium speed using a whisk attachment on a medium speed, until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat on a medium speed until the whites hold soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining sugar and beat on a medium-high speed until the whites hold firm and form shiny peaks.

Using a grease free rubber spatula, scoop about ⅓ of the whites into the yolk mixture and fold in gently. Gently fold in the remaining whites just until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Removed the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack.

To unmold, run a knife around the sides to loosen the cake from the pan and remove the spring form sides. Invert the cake and peel off the parchment paper. Refrigerate for up to four days.

Simple Syrup

I chose to flavor by stirring in 1-2 teaspoons of almond extract.

Ingredients:
1/3 cup (2⅔ fl oz/80 ml) (2⅔ oz/75 gm) of sugar, flavored or white
1/3 cup (2⅔ fl oz/80 ml) of water
1-2 tsp flavored extract (optional)

Combine the water,sugar, and extract in a medium saucepan.

Bring the mixture to a boil and let the sugar dissolve. Stirring is not necessary, but will not harm the syrup.

Remove the syrup from the heat and cool slightly.

Transfer syrup to a lidded container or jar that can be stored in the refrigerator. Simple syrup can be stored for up to one month.

Fraisier Assembly

Components:

1 baked 8 inch (20 cm) chiffon cake
1 recipe pastry cream filling
⅓ cup (80 ml) simple syrup or flavored syrup
2 lbs (900 g) strawberries
confectioners’ sugar for dusting
½ cup (120 ml) (5 oz/140 gm) almond paste

Line the sides of a 8-inch (20 cm) spring form pan with plastic wrap. Do not line the bottom of the pan.

Cut the cake in half horizontally to form two layers.

Fit the bottom layer into the prepared spring form pan. Moisten the layer evenly with the simple syrup. When the cake has absorbed enough syrup to resemble a squishy sponge, you have enough.

Hull and slice in half enough strawberries to arrange around the sides of the cake pan. Place the cut side of the strawberry against the sides of the pan, point side up forming a ring.

Pipe cream in-between strawberries and a thin layer across the top of the cake. DO NOT USE UP PASTRY CREAM HERE.

Hull and quarter your remaining strawberries and place them in the middle of the cake. Cover the strawberries and entirely with the all but 1 tbsp. (15 ml) of the pastry cream.

Place the second cake layer on top and moisten with the simple syrup.

If desired, knead food gel into the almond paste to get desired color. Lightly dust a work surface with confectioners’ sugar and roll out the almond paste to an 8-inch round 1/16 inch (1.5 mm) thick. Spread the remaining 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of pastry cream on the top of the cake and cover with the round of almond paste.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

To serve release the sides of the spring form pan and peel away the plastic wrap.

Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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Have I told you how much I love long weekends? 🙂 Nate and I took the 3-day weekend opportunity and headed down to PA to visit his mom and get some R&R.

One of the nice parts about vising Nate’s mom is that my childhood friend, Nicole, lives only about an hour drive from her. So when we get a long weekend, I can take half a day and go spend time with her, her husband and her new ADORABLE baby boy, Luc. He is a seriously cute baby.

Nicole loves to cook but told me that she hasn’t had that much experience with baking and was hoping to bake something with me. She’s been asking me this for a while but the last couple times I visited, we just didn’t have time.

But this time we prepared ahead of time. She wanted to bake a big cake for her hubby. She said he loves dark chocolate and caramel, so I scoured the internet for some cakes that made use of this flavor combo and came across this recipe from the blog Sugar Pies.

I copied the recipe below exactly from their site. It was good…not the best cake I ever had. But I think it could get there with the following changes:

  1. Triple or quadruple the amount of Caramel Cream Frosting. It didn’t even make enough to go between the layers and on top and sides of cake. I think this is because it was supersweet and it would have been overkill with the ganache.
  2. Third or halve the Chocolate Ganache, and don’t spread it but simply allow it to cover the top and drip down the sides of the cake.
  3. Definitely pop the cakes in the freezer before icing them, and again before pouring on the ganache.
  4. Serve the cake at room temperature.

Personally, I think it would be perfect with the cake completely frosted with the Caramel Cream Frosting and then with a thin layer of ganache on the top and dripping down the sides.

I’ll give it this, though- it’s quite impressive/massive looking. I think it could look even more impressive with the changes I made with the ganache dripping down the sides 🙂

Caramel Cream Cake
Adapted from Sugar Pies Food

Print this recipe!

Makes one 9″ 3-layer cake

Caramel Cream Cake

1/2 pound unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
5 large eggs, separated
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
4 tsp. cocoa powder
1 cup buttermilk
5 tsp. strong coffee
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°. Cut parchment paper circles to fit bottoms of 3 9-inch round cake pans. Grease and flour bottoms and sides of pans.

In mixer fitted with whisk attachment beat the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and egg yolks and beat until incorporated. Sift together the dry ingredients and add to the mixture alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Add the coffee and vanilla and beat well.

In a clean bowl and with a clean whisk, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gently fold into batter. (Note: If you have only one bowl for your mixer, beat the egg whites first and transfer them to another bowl while you mix the batter.)

Divide the batter evenly among the 3 pans and bake for 30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes then remove from pans and allow to cool completely on wire racks. When completely cool, ice with Caramel Cream Frosting.

Caramel Cream Frosting

1 pound confectioner’s sugar
2 tsp. cocoa powder
1 egg yolk
8 tbs. unsalted butter, softened
1 tbs. strong coffee (liquid)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Sift together sugar and cocoa. In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolk until pale on low speed. Add the butter and beat well. Add the liquids and the sugar/cocoa mixture and beat until light and fluffy.

Spread frosting between layers of cake and on top and sides. Place cake in refrigerator or freezer to chill thoroughly and allow frosting to set.


Whipped Chocolate Ganache

2 cups heavy cream
16 oz. good bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tsp. instant coffee crystals

Place chopped chocolate and coffee in large heat proof bowl.

Heat heavy cream in saucepan until it begins to simmer. Pour over chocolate and allow to sit about 10 minutes to melt the chocolate. Stir with rubber spatula and then whisk chocolate until it is smooth.

Set bowl over another bowl filled with ice water and beat chocolate with electric mixture until about the consistency of sour cream (about 3-10 minutes depending on temperature). Be sure not to over beat the chocolate. You just want it nice and spreadable but not too liquid.

Remove cake from refrigerator and place on wire rack set over baking sheet. Pour chocolate over cake and using offset spatula spread the chocolate over top and sides of cake.

Return cake to refrigerator or freezer to allow the chocolate to set up then allow cake to come to room temperature to serve.

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One of my dearest friends, Erica (and the one I’ve known the longest!), celebrated a special bday this past weekend- the big 3-0. Because I wasn’t able to make it to her bowling bday bash, I did what I always do and baked her a cake 🙂

It’s so nice to love cooking and baking, because it makes giving presents so easy, enjoyable and special (I also sometimes paint/draw/crochet my gifts). I mean who doesn’t love some homemade treats? Plus, it’s so nice to put some thought and effort into a present and give it that handmade touch rather than just picking up a random gift from the store because you’re “supposed to” give presents on bdays.

And I have to say, I think my gifts tend to be much more appreciated! So when it came time to get thinking about what type of cake Erica wanted, I went straight to the source. I like to be creative, but Erica wanted the basics: yellow cake with chocolate frosting. I suppose that IS the traditional bday cake combo.

Of course, I had to add my touch and make it a little different and more gourmet- adding white chocolate chips to the batter and making a sour cream chocolate frosting. But I also have been so busy  that I took a few shortcuts- using a boxed cake mix that I jazzed up.

Yes, Erica is wearing scrubs in those pics. She works in tv and is currently filming a show and is in the hospital all day long. I wish I could wear such comfy clothes to work!

Anyways, the cake result was nothing short of amazing…a birthday tradition from now on, to be sure.

Happy 30th Birthday, Erica!!!

I’m so happy to have you as my friend and I can’t wait to celebrate many more birthdays with you 🙂


Yellow Birthday Cake with White Chocolate Chips and Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

Cake recipe by me, Frosting recipe taken from Smitten Kitchen adapted from The Dessert Bible

Print this recipe!

# of Servings-who cares, it’s your birthday! (Makes one 2 layer bday cake)

Cake:

1 box Classic Yellow Cake mix
1 cup water
1/3 cup oil
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1/2-1 cup white chocolate chips
1 recipe Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting, recipe below

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Butter two 9-inch round cake pans (or two 8-inch, depending on how high you want the cake to be) and line with circles of parchment paper, then butter parchment.

Place cake mix, water, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a bowl. Beat well. Add eggs and beat to incorporate, 2 min. Stir in 1/2-1 cup of white chocolate chips, depending on how much you like.

Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 30 min. Cool in pan on a rack 15 minutes. Invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour (put in fridge if you want them to cool faster. Sometimes they’re easier to frost when cold). Do not frost until cakes are completely cool.

Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

15 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/4 teaspoons instant espresso (optional, but can be used to pick up the flavor of average chocolate)
2 1/4 cups sour cream, at room temperature
1/4 to 1/2 cup light corn syrup
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the chocolate and espresso powder, if using, in the top of a double-boiler or in a heatproof bowl over simmering water. Stir until the chocolate is melted. (Alternately, you can melt the chocolate in a microwave for 30 seconds, stirring well, and then heating in 15 second increments, stirring between each, until the chocolate is melted.) Remove from heat and let chocolate cool until tepid.

Whisk together the sour cream, 1/4 cup of the corn syrup and vanilla extract until combined. Add the tepid chocolate slowly and stir quickly until the mixture is uniform. Taste for sweetness, and if needed, add additional corn syrup in one tablespoon increments until desired level of sweetness is achieved.

Let cool in the refrigerator until the frosting is a spreadable consistency. This should not take more than 30 minutes. Should the frosting become too thick or stiff, just leave it out until it softens again.

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As I’ve mentioned before, not only is Nate a loyal Trader Joes (TJs) customer, but a creature of habit who eats the same exact items for breakfast and lunch every day of the week. I’ve tried to take him with me to the supermarket that’s nearby (TJs is a 40 min walk), but he just won’t go.

So you can imagine his distress when he discovered that TJs discontinued his beloved Lemon Ginger Scones that he used to eat each morning along with his cereal, yogurt, and giant glass of grapefruit juice (yes, this boy eats a humongous breakfast). This, of course, gave me a challenge to reproduce these delicacies that he couldn’t do without.

I had only tried my hand at making scones on a few occasions, but I figured it couldn’t be too difficult. Over the course of a couple of months I tried several recipes, but only one got the thumb’s up from Nate.

The recipe came from a cookbook I’d requested at Christmas: A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, by Molly Wizenberg (the creator of the blog Orangette). I had stumbled across its title in several other blogs, touting its greatness.

I read through the whole book in a matter of days. It weaves her life story from childhood to present day, alternating with the recipes that defined those memorable times in her life. I loved every word of it and highly recommend it both for the recipes and the tales.

So you can imagine my delight when I came across her recipe for Lemon Ginger Scones! I had thought I’d have to just find a regular scone recipe and alter it for the correct flavor that Nate desired, but I didn’t have to. I followed her recipe except doubled it so the scones would last Nate a while. They had a bit too much liquid when doubling, so I added more flour. The next time I made them I added only enough liquid for one batch. although still doubling the rest of the ingredients, and it was just right.

They’re flaky, moist and delicious. These are now a staple in my kitchen…and on Nate’s breakfast plate 🙂

On an unrelated front…

Nicole from HeatOvento350 has nominated me, among others, for the Versatile Blogger Award! Thank you so much, Nicole 🙂

The rules of the award stipulate that you share seven random facts about yourself and pass the award on to 15 new found bloggers. So here we go:

1) Almost every movie makes me cry (and even commercials sometimes!)

2) My most favorite fruit is the mango, and I’m sadly allergic to them (did you know they’re in the same family as poison oak??)

3) When I was 10, I had 7 teeth pulled at once without being knocked out, but I never had to wear braces.

4) I will never sit alone in a restaurant, but go to the movies by myself all the time.

5) Much to Nate’s amusement, I trained for the Mr. & Mrs. Penn amateur bodybuilding competition when I was in college, and then couldn’t compete because I got mono a few weeks before (I wouldn’t have won anyway).

6) I completed a year of Architectural grad school, and have a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy, have worked as a Civil Engineer, but currently work in IT in the financial field.

7) Despite #6, I really just want to be a housewife.

Ok, there ya go! I now nominate the following 15 bloggers to play along. If you’ve already done this before or just don’t feel like it, that’s perfectly ok, but here you go:

EspressoAndCream

SugarPlum

SweetPeasKitchen

Mis Pensamientos

KissMyBroccoli

MakeItNaked

Tri2cook

TheCulinaryChronicles

BackToTheCuttingBoard

SweetAsSugarCookies

AFoodLoversJourney

RufusFoodAndSpiritsGuide

InGoodTaste

GetOffYourTushAndCook

LaCaseDeSweets


Lemon Ginger Scones

Adapted from
A Homemade Life

Print this recipe!

makes 16*

4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
8 Tbsp (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
6 Tbsp sugar
4 tsp grated lemon zest
1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1/2 cup half-and-half (plus more if dough is too dry), and more for glazing
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 425.

In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Using your hands or a pastry cutter, rub the butter into the flour mixture, squeezing and pinching with your fingertips until the mixture resembles a coarse meal and there are no butter lumps bigger than a pea. Add the sugar, lemon zest, and ginger and whisk to incorporate.

Pour 1/2 cup half-and-half into small bowl or measuring cup and add the eggs. Beat with a fork to mix well. Pour wet ingredients into the flour mixture,and stir gently to just combine. The dough will be dry and shaggy, and there may be some unincorporated flour at the bottom of the bowl. If the dough seems too dry, add more half-and-half, 1 Tbsp at a time.

Using your hands, squeeze and press the dough into a rough mass. Turn the dough, and any excess flour out onto a board or countertop, and press and gather and knead until it just comes together (sometimes I knead in the bowl so I don’t have to dirty my counter). Don’t overwork the dough. As soon as the dough holds together, divide it in two and pat each portion into a rough circle about 1 inch thick.** Cut into 8 wedges.

Place wedges on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Pour a splash of half-and-half into a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the cones with a thin coat to glaze. Bake for 10-14 in, or until pale golden. Transfer to wire rack to cool slightly, and serve warm.

 *If you want to halve the recipe, halve all ingredient amounts, EXCEPT the half-and-half.
**If halving the recipe, pat dough into 1 circle instead of two.

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