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!