Domo Macarons (Chocolate Chestnut Macarons)

Domo Macarons (Chocolate Chestnut Macarons) 3I’m a sucker for anything kawaii. Stick a cute face on a character and I’ll fall for it. There used to be a Morning Glory very close to my middle school and I used to spend all of my lunch money there on Monday only to starve the rest of the week. The call of the stuffed animals, sticker pictures and stationary was too hard to resist.
Domo Macarons (Chocolate Chestnut Macarons) 2

Many years later, I’m proud to say I quit my Morning Glory addiction but I still have moments of weakness for adorable things. The first time I laid my eyes on Domo-Kun I fell in love. The round beady eyes and his wide mouth with his sharp little teeth won me over instantly. And when I thought of decorating a chocolate macaron, I figured that his simple yet distinctive face would be perfect for it.
Domo Macarons (Chocolate Chestnut Macarons)

Macarons are the perfect vehicle for using leftover fillings and frostings. I had a bunch of leftover chestnut pastry cream from my Groot cupcakes, and chestnuts and chocolates go surprisingly well together so I suppose it was meant to be. What wasn’t meant to be was taking these photos. For some odd reason, I lost a ton of photos while transferring files from my camera to my computer. This includes the step by step pictures that I took.  No one is more disappointed than me. Boo. :(

Domo Macarons (Chocolate Chestnut Macarons)

You will Need:
chocolate macarons, filled with chestnut pastry cream (recipe below)
black fondant
white fondant
red fondant
pastry wheel/ sharp knife
water
thin paint brush (used for food only)

Instructions

  1. Roll out black fondant thinly and using the end of a thin straw or a small, plain round pastry tip punch out little black circles for eyes. After punching it out, slightly push the circles down to flatten and smooth out the edges.
  2. Roll out red fondant thinly, and using a pastry wheel or a sharp knife, cut out ½ in. rectangles for Domo’s mouth.
  3. Roll out white fondant and using a pastry wheel or a sharp knife, cut out thin strips of white fondant. Then cut triangle shaped teeth by running the pastry wheel diagonally cross the rectangle.
  4. Let fondant pieces dry out for an hour or more to firm up.
  5. Take four “teeth” and attach it to the red rectangle by using a thin paint brush to moisten the edges with water.
  6. Place black eyes on the top quarter of the macaron and attack the completed mouth to the bottom half.

Chocolate Macarons

Ingredients:
184 g. almond meal
184 g. powdered sugar
56 g. Dutch-processed cocoa powder
172 g. egg whites, divided to 82 g. and 90 g (aged, if possible)
236 g. sugar, plus a generous pinch
158 g. water

Instructions:

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, add the almond meal, cocoa powder and powdered sugar and pulse until thoroughly combined.
  3. Sift the mixture over a large mixing bowl, throwing out the lumps as they appear.  Add 82 g. of the egg whites and stir until you get a thick paste.
  4. In a small pot attached with a candy thermometer, combine the sugar and water over medium heat and boil until the syrup reaches 200˚F.
  5. Once the syrup reaches 200˚F, start whipping the remaining 90 g. of egg whites with a generous pinch of sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed until soft peaks form.
  6. Once the syrup reaches 248 degrees, remove the pot off the heat and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl with the egg whites on medium speed.
  7. Once the egg whites are fully incorporated, increase the speed to medium high until egg whites form glossy, stiff peaks.  Add two drops of the yellow gel food color and mix until batter turns a light shade of yellow.
  8. Mix a ⅓ of the egg white mix to the almond mixture and stir together until the batter is slightly lighter and less pasty.  From then on, fold in ⅓ of the egg white mixture at a time until the mixture “flows like magma”.  The mixture should be smooth and run thick ribbons off the spatula.
  9. With a pastry bag fitted with a ½ in. plain tip, pipe 1¼ – 1½ in. rounds.
  10. The piped batter may have peaks but should smooth away in a minute or two.  Let the batter stand until the tops of the macaron batter are dry to the touch, about 30 mins to 1 hour.
  11. Preheat the oven to 275-325˚F.  If your oven tends to run hot go for 275˚, if not then 325˚.
  12. Bake 10-13 minutes, until the feet are formed and the tops are smooth.  The batter is done when you slightly wiggle it and it starts to come off of the parchment paper / silicone mat.
  13. Let cool and fill.

Chestnut Pastry Cream

Ingredients
2 c. milk
¼ c. sugar
2 egg yolks
1 egg
¼ c. cornstarch
¼ c. sugar
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
320 g. chestnuts, roasted and peeled
¼ c. heavy whipping cream

Instructions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring milk and ¼ c. sugar to a boil.
  2. In another medium bowl, mix egg yolks, egg, cornstarch and ¼ c. sugar until a paste forms.
  3. Using a ladle, drizzle a ladleful of milk while continuously whisking the egg mixture. Continue to drizzle in hot milk a little at a time until you mix in ¾ of the milk.
  4. Take the egg milk mixture and pour it into the saucepan with the remaining milk.
  5. Cook the mixture while stirring constantly over medium heat until mixture is thickened and pudding like.
  6. Remove saucepan from heat and mix in butter and vanilla extract. Set aside.
  7. In a food processor, puree chestnuts until very fine.
  8. Add the pastry cream and process until a smooth paste forms.
  9. Add the heavy whipping cream and process until completely mixed in.

Chocolate macarons adapted from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller, Sebastien Rouxel

Broiled Lamb Chops with Roasted Potatoes and Broccoli {Simple Sundays}

Broiled Lamb Chops with Roasted Potatoes and Broccoli  4I understand that sometimes my recipes are a little tricky, have too many steps, slightly overabundant in ingredients or a bit complicated. So on Simple Sundays, every recipe will be exactly as stated. Simple. There will be many recipes almost too basic to even write a recipe for, but still delicious in its simplicity. It will include every day dinners that can be done around 30 minutes or cookies that can be whipped up on a whim. After all, we can’t make gourmet meals every night. :)
Broiled Lamb Chops with Roasted Potatoes and Broccoli  1I have to be honest; I’m not a huge fan of lamb. It is usually too gamy for my palate. But, there is something about lamb chops that is so tender and delicious, I can’t resist them. Plus, they aren’t as gamy as other cuts of lamb.
Broiled Lamb Chops with Roasted Potatoes and Broccoli  2This is one of those dinners that are effortless but sounds fancy and plates beautifully. The only downside is that your oven has to be on. However, it’s been so chilly here in Jersey that the prospect of a warmer kitchen isn’t terribly off putting.
Broiled Lamb Chops with Roasted Potatoes and Broccoli  3Broiled Lamb with Roasted Potatoes and Broccoli

Ingredients
1 rack of lamb, frenched
1 lb. baby potatoes*
4 cups of broccoli florets
1 tsp. granulated garlic (or 4 garlic cloves, minced)
dried or fresh thyme
olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F and on a sheet pan lined with aluminum foil, drizzle the potatoes with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and 1/2 tsp. granulated garlic. Put into oven to start roasting.
  2. Divide the rack of lamb into individual lamb chops. Arrange your lamb chops on a sheet pan lined with aluminum foil and season with salt, pepper and thyme on both sides.
  3. When the potatoes have roasted for about 15 minutes, turn the oven on to broil and remove the pan of potatoes.**
  4. Add the broccoli to the pan and season the broccoli with the remaining ½ tsp of granulated garlic, salt and pepper. Place the pan back in to the oven.
  5. Broil the lamb chops 5 minutes per side, 10 minutes in total. Let the meat rest for about 10 minutes.
  6. The potatoes and broccoli should be done at the same time as the lamb chops. If not, continue baking while the lamb is resting and check every 2 minutes. You want a knife to slide easily into the potato and the broccoli to be crisp tender.
  7. Arrange them on a plate and you’re done!

* Buy them as small as you can get them for faster cooking.  I get teeny tiny potatoes from Trader Joe’s and it’s the best thing for quick meals.
** I should note that I have a gas oven that has a separate broiling rack under the oven.

Groot Cupcakes (Mont Blanc Cupcakes)

guardians of the galaxy cupcake 2Remember how I gushed about Guardians of the Galaxy a couple of posts back?* Apparently, I wasn’t done with it. (Wait, have you watched it yet?  Can you please? It’s totally awesome. Thanks.) The latest Marvel movie had me racking my brain for a dessert idea and naturally I started with my favorite character of the group, Groot. To be honest, I thought that the idea of Groot was silly. Really, a talking tree that only says, “I am Groot” exclusively in that order? But as the movie went on, the simplest character became the most interesting and loveable of them all.
guardians of the galaxy cupcake 3A Mont Blanc is a chestnut flavored dessert. The chestnut cream is traditionally piled high and topped with powdered sugar which resembles a snow capped mountain. Hence the name, Mont Blanc, just like the mountain that borders France and Italy. The tan color of the chestnut cream is similar to the color of tree bark so instead of piling up the cream in a circle, I decided to turn it into Groot’s face.  
Groot Cupcakes (Mont Blanc Cupcakes) 2This particular Groot cupcake starts with a syrup soaked genoise cake. It is then filled with chestnut cream and dipped in a perfectly shiny chocolate ganache. (Seriously, so shiny.  I couldn’t keep my eyes off of them.) It is then topped with more chestnut cream, only this time it is piped with a multi-hole pastry tip in the shape of Groot’s face.
Groot Cupcakes (Mont Blanc Cupcakes) 1A few fondant additions later, you have your very own mini swarm of Groots.** Super cute and perfect for a Marvel, Guardians of the Galaxy or Superhero themed party, I hope you give it a try for your next gathering.
guardians of the galaxy cupcake 1Groot Cupcakes (Mont Blanc Cupcakes)

Genoise Cake

Ingredients:
5 large eggs, room temperature
⅔ c. sugar
½ tbsp. corn syrup
1 ⅓ c. cake flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. butter, melted
2 tbsp. milk
2 tbsp. vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325˚F and line muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  2. In a bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs until homogenous.
  3. Add the sugar and corn syrup to the eggs and mix on high speed until thickened, lightened and a ribbon forms when whisk is lifted.
  4. Sift the cake flour into the egg mixture and fold until no traces of the flour remain.
  5. In a separate bowl mix vanilla extract, butter, milk and vegetable oil and mix into the flour mixture.
  6. Fill the cupcake liners with batter and bake 12-15 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Cool on a cooling rack.

Simple Syrup

Ingredients
¼ c. sugar
¼ c. water

Instructions

  1. In a small pot, heat sugar and water until sugar is completely dissolved. Set aside and let cool.

Chestnut Pastry Cream

Ingredients
2 c. milk
¼ c. sugar
2 egg yolks
1 egg
¼ c. cornstarch
¼ c. sugar
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
320 g. chestnuts, roasted and peeled
¼ c. heavy whipping cream

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring milk and ¼ c. sugar to a boil.
  2. In another medium bowl, mix egg yolks, egg, cornstarch and ¼ c. sugar until a paste forms.
  3. Using a ladle, drizzle a ladleful of milk while continuously whisking the egg mixture. Continue to drizzle in hot milk a little at a time until you mix in ¾ of the milk.
  4. Take the egg milk mixture and pour it into the saucepan with the remaining milk.
  5. Cook the mixture while stirring constantly over medium heat until mixture is thickened and pudding like.
  6. Remove saucepan from heat and mix in butter and vanilla extract. Set aside.
  7. In a food processor, puree chestnuts until very fine.
  8. Add the pastry cream and process until a smooth paste forms.
  9. Add the heavy whipping cream and process until completely mixed in.

Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients:
8 oz. good quality dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
¾ c. heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 pinch kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Bring whipping cream and sugar to a boil in either a saucepan or microwave.***
  2. In a medium bowl, pour hot cream mixture over the chopped chocolate.
  3. Let it rest for 5 minutes, then whisk mixture until smooth.
  4. Add the butter and salt and mix until fully incorporated.

Fondant Pieces

You will need:
green fondant
black fondant
white fondant

Instructions

For the leaves:

  1. Pinch off tiny pieces of green fondant and form shapes of leaves by molding one end narrower than the other side.

For the eyes:

  1. Roll out black fondant ⅛ in. thick. Cut out circles that are ¾ in. in diameter.  (I used the end of a fat bubble tea straw.)
  2. Pinch off tiny pieces of white fondant and make tiny circles to press flat onto the black fondant. Remember to place the pieces off center to avoid deadpan eyes. (I placed mine to in the north east quadrant of the eyes.)

Assembly

  1. With a pastry brush, brush the tops of cooled cupcakes with the simple syrup.
  2. Let it rest 5 minutes and go over it once more with the simple syrup.
  3. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a narrow plain pastry tip with half of the chestnut pastry cream; fill each cupcake with about a tablespoon of pastry cream.
  4. Dip the tops of the cupcake with the chocolate ganache, and let set in the freezer for about 5 minutes.
  5. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a multi-hole pastry tip, with more chestnut pastry cream.
  6. Using a stead pressure, draw Groot’s face using an up and down motion. Make sure you go over the each area several times to give it a 3D effect.
  7. Carefully place the fondant eyes in the center of the face and arrange the fondant leaves at the top of the head. Remember the fondant WILL melt in time, do not place the fondant pieces until you are ready to serve or as close to the serving time as possible.

*If you don’t know by now, I’m into the geek/nerd culture.  I wouldn’t say I’m fully immersed it in, but maybe waist deep.
** Warning about the fondant addition.  Because the fondant is resting on top of a pile of pastry cream, the fondant will melt with time.  I would give you a solid hour before it starts to melt.  Tread lightly and be aware. :)
*** If using the microwave, be careful not to overheat it.  It will bubble over, leaving you a large mess to clean… not that this happened to me.  No, it totally did.  Don’t be like me.

Chocolate ganache recipe adapted from recipe girl.

Toasted Marshmallow Caramel Banana Cake with Cheesecake Frosting

Toasted Marshmallow Caramel Banana Cake with Cheesecake Frosting 2Wordy, I know.  This journey of mine started when I was trying to figure out what to post next for the blog.  I have this great caramelized banana bread recipe that I use and was going to blog about that.  But right when I was about to start baking, I realized that banana bread recipes are a dime a dozen on the internet.
Toasted Marshmallow Caramel Banana Cake with Cheesecake Frosting 4Why would I bore you with something that has been done for the umpteenth time?  No, I needed to do something different, maybe even drastic.  That’s when I spotted a bag of caramel bits that I picked up at Target a few months ago and the cogs in my brain started turning.

Toasted Marshmallow Caramel Banana Cake with Cheesecake Frosting 6It starts with a soft caramelized banana cake.  What makes it “caramelized” banana cake?  Because you caramelize bananas with sugar and melted butter until it starts to smell like banana heaven in your kitchen.  Then you mix your caramel bits into the batter to increase the caramel factor.
Toasted Marshmallow Caramel Banana Cake with Cheesecake Frosting 5Next, the cake layers are sandwiched with cheesecake frosting which is essentially my version of a cream cheese frosting only it is extra thick and tastes very much like cheesecake.  Then the entire cake is surrounded by marshmallow frosting which you toast with your kitchen torch (or in your oven if you don’t have one) and as if you really needed more, you finish it off with a caramel drizzle.
Toasted Marshmallow Caramel Banana Cake with Cheesecake Frosting 1Sweet, gooey, soft, toasty, and slightly chewy (from the caramel bits) this cake is definitely worth making for a celebration… or for no reason because it’s your kitchen and you can bake if you want to. ;)
Toasted Marshmallow Caramel Banana Cake with Cheesecake Frosting 3Toasted Marshmallow Caramel Banana Cake with Cheesecake Frosting

Makes one 6 inch 4-layer cake

Caramelized Banana Cake

Ingredients:
2 oz. unsalted butter
¾ c. brown sugar
3 medium brown bananas
½ c. buttermilk
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. cake flour
¾ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. kosher salt
8 oz. caramel bits

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F and prepare four 6 inch cake pans by spraying them with non-stick spray and lining the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. In a small pot, melt the butter. Once the butter melts, add the brown sugar and bananas and cook for 4 minutes.  Cool mixture for 10 minutes before transferring mixture into a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Beat for 2-3 minutes until mixture is cool and combined.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk buttermilk, vegetable oil and eggs until homogeneous.
  4. In another bowl, mix both kinds of flour with baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  5. With the mixer on low, add half the buttermilk mixture followed by half the flour mixture.
  6. Finish the batter by alternating the buttermilk mixture and flour mixture again.
  7. Fold in the caramel bits into the batter.
  8. Divide the batter evenly between 4 pans and bake about 12-15 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Cheesecake Frosting

Ingredients:
10 oz. cream cheese
4 oz. unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ c. powdered sugar
8 oz. mascarpone cheese
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pinch of kosher salt

Instructions:

  1. In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter until combined.
  2. Add the powdered sugar slowly, followed by the mascarpone cheese, vanilla extract and kosher salt.  Do not overbeat the mascarpone cheese it will separate if you do.

Marshmallow Frosting

Ingredients:
4 large egg whites
¾ c. sugar
¼ tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. In a metal bowl of a standing mixer, whisk egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar over a small saucepan with simmering water.
  2. Whisk until sugar is dissolved and whites are slightly foamy and warm to the touch, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Transfer bowl to the standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat starting from low speed and gradually moving to high speed until stiff and glossy.
  4. Mix in the vanilla extract to finish the frosting.

Caramel Drizzle

Ingredients:
3 oz. caramel bits
¼ c. heavy cream

Instructions:

  1. In a small saucepan, melt caramel bits with heavy cream until a thick sauce forms. If the sauce is too thick, feel free to add more heavy cream.

Assembly:

  1. Frost each layer of banana cake with cream cheese frosting, ending with a layer of banana cake. Make sure you smooth the sides as well as you can. (As shown above.)
  2. Generously frost the top and sides with marshmallow frosting using your spatula to make swirl patterns along the cake. This will make a more impressive cake when you toast the frosting.
  3. Toast the frosting with a torch (kitchen, butane, or propane your choice) until golden brown.
  4. Drizzle caramel frosting.
  5. Stand back and enjoy your work of art.

Caramelized banana cake adapted from espresso and cream.
Marshmallow frosting adapted from Martha Stewart.

 

Elsa Doll Cake

Elsa Doll Cake 1This is a little late in the whole Frozen craze, but I finally made an Elsa Doll Cake.  But it must’ve been in the stars because I was lucky enough to simultaneously have a doll cake request and was finally able to get my hands on an Elsa doll.  It blows my mind that even after 9 months of its release, it is still difficult to obtain an Elsa figure.  How?? Does every little girl in the world want an Elsa doll?  It’s either that or they are releasing them ever so slowly to keep the demand up.  By the way, I still can’t stop listening to the Frozen soundtrack which is a testament to how great it was.  Speaking of soundtracks, did you guys watch Guardians of the Galaxy?  If so, one phrase… Awesome Mix Vol 1.  That’s it.  If not, watch it.  It’s fantastic in every way.
Elsa Doll Cake 4Back to the cake. The thing about Elsa is, unlike Sofia the First, her dress is fairly simple from the waist down.  It’s a sparkly slinky number with a high slit and there is no place to fit a cake under there.  So this is my interpretation of what a poofy Elsa dress would look like.
how to make an elsa doll cakeIt’s fairly straight forward in terms of decorating it, but here are a few tips when creating your own doll cake: 1) Make sure your cake is well chilled- it will help reduce the number of crumbs when you carve it.  2) Try to make your frosting as smooth as possible to reduce the number of bumps and lumps when you put on the fondant.  3) When rolling out your fondant, make sure it isn’t too thick (it will be hard to mold) or too thin (it will tear when you drape it).  4) If your fondant shapes become too soft, toss it in the freezer for about 30 seconds to firm up.  Do not freeze fondant, it will melt when it comes to room temperature.  Above all, have fun making it.  The world is your oyster when it comes to designing a doll cake.
Elsa Doll Cake 2Elsa Doll Cake

You will need:

light teal fondant
teal fondant
white fondant
snowflake fondant cutters
edible glitter, silver star shape
white shimmer dust
silver pearl dust
an Elsa doll

Instructions:

  1. Prepare a lightly frosted, 4 layered 6 inch cake that has a hole cut in the middle for your doll. (pictures 1 and 2)
  2. Chill the cake and while the cake is chilling, prepare your Elsa doll by removing her skirt and wrapping the bottom portion of the doll completely and tightly with plastic wrap. Put her arms up and her cape up and over her head and wrap the top portion of her body with plastic wrap. (picture 3)
  3. Remove the cake, insert the plastic wrapped doll and cut along the top quarter of the cake at a 45˚ angle. Use your eye to gauge where you want the skirt to start and the desired slope of the skirt. (picture 3)
  4. Crumb coat the cake, giving it a rough shape and making sure to cover the gap between the hips and the cake. (picture 4)
  5. Give it a second coat of frosting, hiding the crumbs and making it as smooth as possible to make it easier for the fondant to stick. (picture 5)
  6. Roll out a piece of light teal fondant and cut a rounded door shape for the front of her dress. Adhere it onto the front of the dress. (picture 6)
  7. Roll out a larger piece of teal fondant and drape it over the waist down to the bottom of the cake, making sure to have all of the buttercream covered. (picture 7)
  8. Using your hands, roll a skinny teal fondant rope to blend the top and the bottom of the dress together. Adhere it where the waist meets the cake. (picture 8)
  9. Cut out a white snowflake fondant and adhere it to the center of the dress to cover the seam. (picture 9)
  10. Using vodka, paint white shimmer dust and pearl silver dust all around the teal portion of the dress to give it a shimmery effect. (picture 10)
  11. Take the silver stars and place it over the light teal fondant portion of the dress. (picture 11)
  12. Using your fondant cutter, cut out various shapes of white and light teal snowflakes and adhere it to the teal portion of the dress. Feel free to use any pattern that suits you, but remember that there will be a transparent snowflake cape that covers the back of the cake. (picture 12 and 13)
  13. Remove the plastic wrap from the top portion of the doll, be careful about positioning the arms and letting the snowflake cape flow over the back of the cake.  (picture 14)

Blueberry Cake Balls

Blueberry Cake Balls 3So, I made blueberry cake balls that look like blueberries.  Where in the world did I get such an idea?  It all started with a text from my sister, who sent me a photo of a strawberry layer cake that looked like a strawberry.  I wasn’t surprised that it originated from my favorite macaron café of all time, Laudrée.  This image fueled my creative fire and with the help of a good friend, we came up with an idea for this cake ball.
Blueberry Cake Balls 1Blueberries are in season right now, and here in Jersey we grow some very tasty ones.   They’re really fat and juicy, but I feel that the most “blueberry flavored” blueberries are wild blueberries.  They are very small, but they pack a huge wallop of blueberry flavor.  This cake ball uses both kinds of blueberries for the biggest berry impact.
IBlueberry Cake Balls 2The cake ball consists of blueberry vanilla cake mixed with blueberry frosting then dipped in a thin coat of chocolate (your preference dark, milk, or white) and then finished off with a thin layer of fondant.  When I tried this recipe out, I dipped a handful of the cake balls in chocolate and left the others plain.  When I proceeded to wrap both kinds in fondant, I was surprised that they both held up well.  Unfortunately, I celebrated too early because the moisture from the blueberries in the cake and frosting started melting the fondant on the non-chocolate coated ones.  Lesson learned: you must cover this with chocolate before proceeding to the fondant portion
Blueberry Cake Balls 6Please tell me I’m not the only person who thought of Violet Beauregarde from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when I saw these.  If you don’t know, Violet is the girl who turns rotund and blue like a blueberry in the book and movie.  To get this shade of blueberry, I mixed three kinds of gel food coloring: Wilton’s violet, Spectrum’s royal blue and Americolor’s super black.  As for the fondant, I tried to mimic the flared crown by doing a double layer of fondant but it wouldn’t stay.  So I settled on drawing it in with black food coloring and a small paint brush (which I reserve for food use only).
Blueberry Cake Balls 5I know there may be a few of you who are looking at this post (or maybe many of my other posts) thinking, “Yeah, I can never do that”.  Whenever I try a novel concept, I always have my doubts whether it will work or not.  Am I wasting precious time, ingredients and money?  Is it worth the pile of dishes?  But in the end, I always feel like the risk of taking the dive outweighs watching from the sidelines.  If I fail, I fail but not without learning something.  So, why don’t we just dive together? :)

Blueberry Cake Balls

You will need:
1 batch of blueberry cake
1 batch of blueberry frosting
chocolate or candy melts
blue tinted fondant
black gel food color

Instructions:

  1. Mix blueberry cake with a third of the blueberry frosting until fully incorporated. If the cake does not hold shape, add more frosting and mix until desired consistency is reached.
  2. Scoop tablespoon sized portion of cake and roll into slightly flattened circles.
  3. Chill in the freezer while you melt your chocolate.
  4. Once the chocolate has melted, dip your cake balls into the chocolate using a fork and make sure to tap off the excess.
  5. Chill the chocolate covered cake balls while you roll out the fondant.
  6. Roll out the fondant as thin as possible.
  7. At this point the chocolate should have set, if not then refrigerate until the chocolate has set.
  8. Cover the cake balls and make sure you smooth it out so that there are no lumps.
  9. Mix your black gel food color with a little bit of water to loosen up the pigment.
  10. Draw a five pointed crown on the top of your blueberry and a dot in the center.

Blueberry Cake

Ingredients:
1 ½ c. cake flour
1  c. sugar
½ tbsp. baking powder
⅛ tsp. salt
¾ c. buttermilk, divided
4 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
1 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pint fresh blueberries, washed and drained

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F and line a 9×9 in cake pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, add flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix until combined.
  3. On low speed, add ½ c. buttermilk and butter and mix until combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, egg yolk, ¼ c. buttermilk, and vanilla extract until homogenous.
  5. On low speed, slowly add the egg mixture to the flour mixture.
  6. Increase speed to medium, and mix until combined.
  7. Fold in fresh blueberries
  8. Bake about 25-30 minutes until cake is done or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  9. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, and then move onto a cooling rack until completely cool.

Blueberry Frosting

Ingredients:
2 c. frozen wild blueberries
¼ c. sugar
2 tsp. lemon juice
4 tbsp. butter, room temperature
½  tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. heavy cream
⅔ c. powdered sugar

Instructions:

  1. In a small pot, cook blueberries, sugar and lemon juice until the mixture reduces to about half or until thickened.
  2. In another bowl, beat butter, cream and vanilla.
  3. Slowly add powdered sugar ⅓ c. at a time until completely used.
  4. Once the blueberry mixture has thickened and cooled, add to the sugar mixture until fully incorporated.

Piña Colada Frozen Yogurt (Pineapple Coconut Frozen Yogurt)

Pineapple Coconut Frozen Yogurt 3Do you also hear Rupert Holmes’ Escape a.k.a The Piña Colada Song when someone mentions Piña Coladas to you?  For me, it’s as if a record starts playing in my head and the very familiar “If you like Piña Coladas and getting caught in the rain…” begins.
Pineapple Coconut Frozen Yogurt 4The weather has been ridiculously hot this past week, and the thought of turning my oven was a major turn off.  (Insert HIMYM joke here.)  So with Piña Coladas on the brain, I started a journey for a pineapple coconut frozen yogurt.  I’ve always loved pineapples, but coconuts have been a love-hate relationship until a few years ago when out of nowhere I became a coconut fiend.  Dried, toasted, grated, shredded, fresh – I ate it all until like all good things, I eventually got tired of it.  But this recipe has sparked the love again, and I’m back on the coconut train.

Pineapple Coconut Frozen Yogurt 1Instead of using only shredded coconut as most recipes call for, I added a good dose of coconut cream into the yogurt base.  To make coconut cream, refrigerate a can of full fat coconut milk overnight.  When you’re ready, open up the can and the cream should’ve separated from the coconut water.  Scoop up the thickened cream and reserve the coconut water for another use.  So easy, yet it adds a surprising coconut element that you can’t put your finger on.

Pineapple Coconut Frozen Yogurt 2I have to say, this frozen yogurt was not easy to photograph.  Because of the added water content of the coconut cream and the pineapple, it is icier than your normal frozen yogurt.  This translated into melting quickly and causing me much grief.  If I could do this again, I would make them into popsicles.  I had half a mind to just scrap the project, but it was too tasty not to share.  Onto the next one …
Pineapple Coconut Frozen Yogurt 5

Piña Colada Frozen Yogurt (Pineapple Coconut Frozen Yogurt)

Ingredients:
2 c. vanilla whole-milk yogurt
2 c. plain nonfat or reduced-fat Greek yogurt
½ c. granulated sugar
3 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 batch of coconut cream
1 20 oz. can of crushed pineapple, drained
2 c. sweetened shredded coconut

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk whole milk yogurt, Greek yogurt, sugar, corn syrup and coconut cream together until combined.
  2. In an ice cream maker, pour the yogurt base and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions until you reach a soft serve consistency.
  3. Transfer to a plastic container and fold in crushed pineapple and shredded coconut. Line the top with plastic wrap and seal with the lid.
  4. Freeze for at least 2 hours. Let it sit out for about 15 minutes if completely frozen.

Coconut Cream

Ingredients:
1 – 14 or 13.5 oz. can of full fat coconut milk

Instructions:

  1. Place can of coconut milk in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight.
  2. When ready for use, open the can to reveal a thick layer of coconut cream.
  3. Carefully scoop out the cream portion of the coconut milk. You will see the separated coconut water when you harvest all the cream.
  4. You can whip the coconut cream like whipped cream if desired.
  5. Do not throw out the coconut water. You can use it for smoothies, recipes or just drink it.

*Frozen yogurt recipe adapted from The Food Network.

 

Sausage and Spinach Pasta

Sausage and Spinach Pasta 3I have this silly mentality that as long a dish has dark leafy greens, it is somewhat healthy.  Peas, carrots, celery… those don’t fool me, but add kale, spinach, or broccoli to the mix and I’ll think that it’s nutritious.  So if you follow my train of thought, you can understand why I would proclaim that this pasta is nutritious and healthy.
Sausage and Spinach Pasta 6It’s really not though, I should know.  It’s rich without feeling heavy and gloriously creamy without being greasy.  In fact, it tastes so decadent that people were surprised I only used 4 tablespoons of butter for an entire pound of pasta.
Sausage and Spinach Pasta 1It starts with a pound of good Italian sausage, and when the sausage is cooked and the delicious brown bits are formed, you add your veggies.
Sausage and Spinach Pasta 2Then you start your béchamel sauce which is the key to having a pasta taste so creamy and finally, you add your freshly grated cheddar.  No, not the shredded bagged stuff, the seriously sharp, good stuff you get by the block. The dish comes together relatively quickly and the sauce requires only one pot. Oh, and the flavor? Explosive! ;)
Sausage and Spinach Pasta 4

Sausage and Spinach Pasta

Ingredients:
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage
1 lb. dried pasta (I used thin spaghetti)
½ lb. baby spinach
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
⅓ c. all-purpose flour
1 ½ c. whole milk
1 ½ c. chicken stock
6 oz. aged white cheddar, grated
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil while you prepare the sauce.
  2. In a large, heavy bottomed pot cook the Italian sausage until cooked through and brown bits have formed on the bottom of the pan.
  3. Add the onion and cook until softened, then add the spinach, garlic and red pepper flakes until the spinach wilts and releases liquid.  Continuously scrape the bottom of the pot to remove the brown bits.
  4. Add the butter and once it melts, stir in the flour and cook until the mixture becomes pasty and smells slightly nutty.
  5. Slowly add in the chicken stock while stirring the mixture to avoid any lumps.
  6. Then, slowly add in the whole milk while stirring the mixture to avoid any lumps.
  7. Add the grated cheddar in small increments until completely incorporated.
  8. Simmer sauce while boil the pasta.
  9. Once the pasta is cooked and drained, add salt and pepper to the sauce to taste.
  10. Add the pasta to the sauce and stir until sauce is evenly distributed throughout the pasta.

 

Mini Green Tea Cake

Mini Green Tea Cake 2It’s been forever since I posted something on the blog.  This is what happened…  The weekend before I left for my vacation to Korea, I made a wedding cake, mini wedding desserts and did desserts for a confirmation banquet.  It was jam packed with sugar, whipped cream, flour and butter.   At this point, I was so sick and tired of seeing ingredients I had to take a break.  If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw that I went on a two week vacation to South Korea and by the time I got back, I was so jet lagged I didn’t have it in me to do anything.  And so here I am, three weeks later posting a new recipe for you guys.  I think I’m sufficiently rested and I hope to continue on this culinary journey with you with no more stops in the road.
Mini Green Tea Cakes 4This green tea cake was inspired by my trip to O’Sulloc Tea Museum in Jeju, South Korea.   Unfortunately the weather was horrible the day we went and I wasn’t able to see the plantation but, I did enjoy some green tea desserts.Mini Green Tea Cakes 1I paired my cake with both red bean and sweet potato frosting.  The slight bitterness of the green tea balances well with the smooth creamy sweet potato and the red beans give it a pop of interesting texture.  While we are talking about sweet potatoes, I should let you know that I do not mean the orange fleshed American sweet potato.  This is the potato I am talking about.   The Korean/Japanese sweet potato has purple skin and yellow flesh.  When baked, it tastes slightly like a perfectly roasted chestnut and is less water logged than its American cousin. With that bit of information, I hope you give it a try! Enjoy :)Mini Green Tea Cake 3

Mini Green Tea Cakes

Green Tea Cake

Ingredients:
¾ c. cake flour
2 tbsp. matcha powder
1/2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. kosher salt
4 large eggs, separated
pinch of cream of tartar
¾ c. granulated sugar, divided
2 tablespoons buttermilk

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F and line a half sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, sift together cake flour, matcha powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until foamy.  Once foamy, slowly add ¼ c. granulated sugar until incorporated and raise speed to high until stiff peaks form.
  4. In a separate bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk egg yolks until pale and thickened.  Then add ½ c. granulated sugar and mix until thick and the batter forms ribbons when whisk is lifted.
  5. Stir in buttermilk to the egg yolk mixture until combined.
  6. Fold in flour mix into the egg yolk mix until just combined.
  7. Fold in egg white mixture until fully incorporated.
  8. Pour batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.
  9. Bake for 10-12 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean or the cake is springy to the touch.
  10. Let cool.

Sweet Potato Frosting

Ingredients:
1 lb. Korean/Japanese sweet potatoes, roasted and peeled
2 tbsp. heavy cream
pinch kosher salt
⅓ c. vanilla frosting

Instructions:

  1. In a food processor, add all the ingredients and puree until smooth.

Red Bean Frosting

Ingredients:
8 oz. canned sweet red beans
⅓ c. vanilla frosting

Instructions:

  1. In a separate bowl, mix red beans and vanilla frosting until completely blended.

Assemble the Mini Green Tea Cakes:

  1. Using a 2” cookie cutter, cut out 2” cake rounds.
  2. Use the same cookie cutter to assemble the cake.
  3. Place a cake round into the cookie cutter and proceed to layer the red bean frosting, a cake round, sweet potato frosting and finish off with a cake round.
  4. Slowly remove the cookie cutter to reveal your layered cake.
  5. If desired, you can garnish the tops of the cake with powdered sugar.

Green Tea Cake adapted from Oh Sweet Day!

 

The Krabby Patty (California Roll Burger)

California Roll Burger 6Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?  I discovered Spongebob when I was in middle school many years ago.  It caught my attention from the very first episode, and I was an avid fan for a while.  If you don’t know already, Spongebob works at the Krusty Krab where he makes Krabby Patties as a fry cook.  A Krabby Patty looks like this.  Every time they did a close up shot, my adolescent mind wanted to sink my teeth into one.  Now I wonder if I was the only one that was hankering for a made-up burger…
California Roll Burger 2I saw a recipe for a California roll burger, and my first thought was, this is what a Krabby Patty would taste like!  Perhaps minus the beef, because where would they get it from?  And maybe minus the crab sticks, because wouldn’t that be cannibalism? A Sweeny Todd scenario perhaps?  Let’s stop questioning a fictional burger that has no definite flavor and substance, and get down to the nitty-gritty.
California Roll Burger 1It starts with a beautiful set of hamburger buns.* Followed by a spread of Sriracha mayo, and a stack of the standard lettuce and tomato.  The beef has just a dash of fish sauce for the umami factor and is topped with a light crab stick salad.  It is then followed by a few slices of avocado tossed in lime juice and topped with masago (smelt roe) and nori (dried seaweed).
California Roll Burger 9It’s bursting with flavor and is definitely a king of burgers, worthy of being flipped by Spat (Spongebob’s spatula).
California Roll Burger 7
The Krabby Patty (California Roll Burger)

Makes 8 large burgers

Ingredients
2 lbs. ground beef
1 tsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. Sriracha
3 tbsp. mayo
½ lb. crab sticks
2-4 tbsp. mayo
2 avocados, sliced
1 lime, juiced
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
butter lettuce, washed
tomato, sliced
masago (smelt roe)
nori (dried seaweed)
8 large burger buns

Instructions:

  1. Mix 1 tbsp. Sriracha and 3 tbsp. mayo in a small bowl to make Sriracha mayo.
  2. Shred crab sticks and mix in 2-4 tbsp. of mayo to make the crab salad.
  3. Mix ground beef, fish sauce, salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Form into 8 large patties.
  4. In a large skillet over medium high heat, cook patties about 3 minutes per side or to desired doneness.
  5. While the patties are cooking, slice avocados and toss in lime juice.
  6. When the burgers are ready, layer the components in the following order: Sriracha mayo, lettuce, tomato, beef patty, crab salad, avocado, masago, and nori.

*I made mine from scratch, but you are welcome to use store bought.  These buns deserve a post of their own, and will be featured in the future.
** Recipe adapted from use real butter.

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