Strawberry Ombré Cake

Strawberry Ombré Cake The first day of spring came with snow in Jersey this week. I feel like I should be surprised, but I’m really not. The weather has been pretty off-kilter this year. Remember when it was 60 degrees during Christmas? This cake reminds me of springtime with its bold strawberries and fresh mint leaves. Decorated with tiny white fondant and frosting flowers and a few pink pearls, it is feminine and floral too.
Strawberry Mint Cake The secret to amazing strawberry frosting is to use fresh strawberries and cook it down until it becomes thickened. It is similar to making jam, except you are boiling down just strawberries, a squeeze of lemon and a splash of water. Add this mixture to your standard frosting, and you’ll have the freshest, strawberry-est tasting frosting ever.
Strawberry Ombré Cake When I make a strawberry layer cake, I tend to add a layer of fresh strawberries to up the fruit flavor. You just need to remember to slice your strawberries thinly to keep the cake layers intact. If you don’t, it might compromise the structural integrity of the cake and the layers might slide off of one another.

Strawberry Ombré Cake
Makes one 6-inch cake

You will need:

1 batch of vanilla buttermilk cake (recipe below)
1 batch of strawberry frosting (recipe below)
½ pint fresh strawberries, divided (7 small strawberries left whole, the rest sliced thinly)
1 batch swiss meringue buttercream (recipe below)
pink gel food coloring
fresh mint leaves
pink edible pearls
white mini fondant flowers

Instructions:

  1. Frost the top of one layer of vanilla cake with strawberry frosting.
  2. Put one layer of sliced strawberries on top of the strawberry frosting.
  3. Repeat with the remaining layers of vanilla cake.
  4. Use the remaining strawberry frosting to crumb coat the entire cake.
  5. Let cake set in freezer for 5-10 minutes. Until the crumb coat is set.
  6. Reserve three tablespoons of swiss meringue buttercream in a bow.
  7. Evenly divide the rest of swiss meringue buttercream into 4 bowls.
  8. Leave one batch white and color the other 3 batches in different shades of pink.
  9. Fill an icing bag fitted with a very large round tip with the white swiss meringue buttercream.
  10. Remove the cake from the freezer.
  11. Ice the cake from the top with the white swiss meringue buttercream, moving slowly down.
  12. Once the white frosting runs out, add the light pink swiss meringue buttercream to the same bag and continue moving downwards.
  13. Once the light pink frosting runs out, add the darker pink swiss meringue buttercream to the same bag and continue frost down the cake until you get to the bottom of the cake. (The cake will look bulky and messy. This is normal.)
  14. Using a flat spatula, start going around the cake and smoothing out the sides.
  15. As you move around the cake and start removing frosting, an ombré pattern will appear.
  16. Once the cake is relatively smooth, take a small offset spatula and using a light pressure, start moving the offset spatula in a circular pattern around the cake to create soft ridges.
  17. Top the cake with the whole strawberries with the leaves removed. Do not cut the strawberries. They will release their juices if they are cut.
  18. Fill a piping bag fitted with a small closed star tip with the reserved 3 tablespoons of buttercream frosting.
  19. Fill any gaps between the strawberries with the frosting.
  20. Take the mint leaves and arrange it around the strawberries as desired.
  21. Make tiny buttercream flowers with the closed star tip by squeezing the bag and releasing it in one spot. Place one pear at the center of these flowers.
  22. Fill the rest of the gaps with tiny white fondant flowers.

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake

Ingredients:

2 c. cake flour
1⅓ c. sugar
¾ tbsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
¾ c. buttermilk, divided
6 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature
3 eggs, room temperature
1 ½ egg yolks
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F and line four 6-inch cake pans 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 yolks, ¼ c. buttermilk, and vanilla extract until homogeneous.
  5. On low speed, slowly add the egg mixture to the flour mixture.
  6. Increase speed to medium, and mix until combined.
  7. Evenly divide cake batter into the four cake pans.
  8. Bake about 20-25 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.

Strawberry Frosting (for the filling)

Ingredients:
1 c. whole milk
¼ c. flour
¼ tsp. salt
8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c. sugar
strawberry puree (recipe below)

Instructions:

  1. In a saucier pan, put milk, salt and flour and whisk until combined on medium heat.
  2. Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
  3. Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture and put into the fridge until fully cool.
  5. In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add ¾ of the strawberry puree and mix until combined. Taste and see if it needs the rest.
  8. If it needs more strawberry flavor, add in the rest of the strawberry puree and mix until combined.

Strawberry Puree

Ingredients:
¾ pint of strawberries, hulled and cut in halves
2-3 tsp. lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 tbsp. water

Instructions:

  1. In a small pot, cook strawberries, lemon juice and water on medium heat.
  2. Use a potato smasher to smash the strawberries while cooking to get an even consistency.
  3. Cook strawberries for 5-10 minutes until thickened.
  4. Once thickened, put in a bowl to cool and refrigerate.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream (for the outside)

Ingredients:

1 c. sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Simmer an inch of water in a medium pot.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk egg whites and sugar together.
  3. Place the bowl over the pot of simmering water and whisk the egg white and sugar mixture continuously until the mixture becomes lighter and no longer grainy.
  4. Remove the bowl from the pot and transfer the bowl into the mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
  5. Mix on high until mixture becomes white and fluffy, and cool (check for this by seeing if the outside of the bowl is cool to the touch).
  6. Add in vanilla extract and butter one stick at a time until a silky smooth frosting forms.

 

Weekday Update

pink swirl cakeIt’s been a quiet few weeks on the busy spatula. Mostly, I’ve been busy filling cake orders and baking here and there. Not enough photos to write an actual blog about, but just enough for a glimpse of what’s been going on. (If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw some of these already.)

Pink and Gold Swirl Cake – It’s such a whimsical cake, I couldn’t help taking close up photos of this one. Swirled with pastel pink and white frosting then filled to the brim with pearls, gold stars, and dragees. It was four layers of chocolate cake filled with toffee coffee frosting.

DSC_0487DSC_0428DSC_0475DSC_0477

Baymax Macarons – I wanted to post these for Valentine’s Day, but I never had the time. Place a few red heart sprinkles on each macaron and draw in two circles and connect with a line with a black edible color marker. I filled the inside with some leftover strawberry frosting. So simple and very cute.

baymax macarons baymax macarons

Pink Ombre Ranunculus Cake – The inside of this cake was layered with layers of pink ombre cake. Filled with fresh strawberry frosting and topped with fresh ranunclus, it was so pretty. I originally wanted peonies, but the florist didn’t have any that were in bloom. Did you know that you had to order peonies in advance? I never knew.

pink ombre flower cakeranunculus flowers on cake

Lemon Basil Macarons

Lemon Basil Macarons 2The first day of spring came and went with a generous dose of snow in New Jersey and there are still patches of snow here and there. Like many of you, I’m craving warm weather like a breath underwater. I kind of feel like I’m at the end of a race and I can see the finish line, but no matter how fast I run it’s not getting any closer.
Lemon Basil Macarons 4As I stared blankly into my fridge on a frigid Saturday morning, I saw a bag of lemons I bought a couple of weeks ago. Isn’t it funny how we tend to forget things in the crisper drawer? I swear, once I found a few grapes that were beginning to become raisins. Okay, that was kind of gross. Anyways, something about the bright yellow of lemons conjured up thoughts of springtime, warm weather, fresh flowers, sandals, dresses without tights, picnics and longer days, and I just had to use them right away.
Lemon Basil Macarons 7 Lemon Basil Macarons 6These lemon basil macarons are made with lemon macaron shells and filled with a vanilla basil buttercream and homemade lemon curd. The flavor of the basil is subtle and hits you at the very end. I should tell you that as the days go by, the basil becomes less and less pronounced so it is better eaten sooner than later. I thought about incorporating a stronger basil flavor by steeping some basil in warm milk before making the buttercream, but I got cold feet. In fact, I wasn’t sure if lemon and basil would make a good pairing. I’m a little wary of adding a savory element to my desserts but it turned out very tasty. If you love basil though, it might not be enough of a “punch” for you. I suppose you could add more basil to the frosting to increase the basil factor.
Lemon Basil Macarons 5For the lemon macaron shells, I used crystallized lemon. I happened to have some True Lemon lying around and I think it’s a better alternative to using lemon juice. As you know, macarons are very finicky and I’m not quite sure how the extra liquid in lemon juice would affect the batter. If you want, you can omit the crystallized lemon in the recipe. I feel that the lemon curd has enough of a citrus punch but if you can use it, I recommend it.
Lemon Basil Macarons 1The lemon curd recipe makes more than you need, but it’s so delicious that I’m sure you won’t mind having extra around. I’m already thinking of another recipe to use it in. These macarons really taste like springtime in your mouth. I think you’ll love it.
Lemon Basil Macarons 3Lemon Basil Macarons
Ingredients:
212 g. almond meal
212 g. powdered sugar
172 g. egg whites, divided to 82 g. and 90 g (aged, if possible)
236 g. sugar
158 g. water
1 ½ tsp. crystallized lemon
yellow gel food color
green gel food color (optional: for decorative brushstrokes)
vanilla basil buttercream (recipe below)
lemon curd (recipe below)

Instructions:

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, add the almond meal 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 the crystallized lemon and 82 g. of the egg whites and stir until you get a thick mixture.
  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. in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed until soft peaks are reached.
  6. Once the syrup reaches 248 ˚F, remove the pot off the burner 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.
  8. Add yellow gel food coloring little by little until the desire color is reached.
  9. 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.
  10. With a pastry bag fitted with a ½ in. plain tip, pipe 1¼ – 1½ in. rounds.
  11. The piped batter may have peaks but should smooth away in a minute or two.
  12. Let the batter stand until the tops of the macarons are dry to the touch, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  13. Preheat the oven to 275-325˚F.  If your oven tends to run hot go for 275˚F, if not then 325˚F.
  14. 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.
  15. Once cool, mix a tiny bit of water with a small amount of green gel food color and with a small (food use only) paintbrush, paint small strokes onto the macaron shells. Let dry.
  16. Pipe a small circle of vanilla basil frosting on the outer border of a macaron shell. This creates a dam so the lemon curd does not ooze out.
  17. Fill the center of the macaron with the lemon curd and top with another macaron shell.

Vanilla Basil Buttercream

Ingredients:
½ c. whole milk
3 tbsp. flour
⅛ tsp. salt
4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ c. sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
3 tbsp. fresh basil, finely minced and stems discarded

Instructions:

  1. In a small pot over medium heat, whisk milk, salt and flour until combined.
  2. Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
  3. Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture (to prevent skin from forming) and put bowl into the fridge until fully cool.
  5. In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add the vanilla extract and minced basil and mix until combined.

Lemon Curd

Ingredients:
5 egg yolks
1 ¼ c. sugar
⅓ c. lemon juice
zest of 4 lemons
1 pinch of kosher salt
4 oz. (1 stick) cold butter, cut into 8 pieces

Instructions:

  1. Start a double boiler by adding water in a small pot and bringing it to a simmer.
  2. In a medium metal bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until smooth. (Make sure the metal bowl is wider than the small pot of water.)
  3. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest and salt and mix until combined.
  4. Place the metal bowl above the small pot of simmering water and whisk until the mixture is thickened. About 8 minutes or around 170˚
  5. Once thickened, remove from heat and stir in butter one piece at a time, making sure each piece has melted before adding the next.
  6. Place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate up to 2 weeks.

*Macaron recipe adapted from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller, Sebastien Rouxel.
** Lemon curd recipe adapted from Alton Brown.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake  3Is it the middle of February already?? I feel like February just started and here it is already nearing its end. As Valentine’s Day approaches, I can’t help but feel a little more love and happiness in the air. Maybe it’s all the hearts plastered every way I turn or people posting all things related to love on social media, but I’m digging the atmosphere. Yes, I know that you should show your love and affection to your significant other/ loved ones every day of the year but what’s the harm of celebrating that love?
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake  2I once had an ex-boyfriend who frequently bought me chocolate covered strawberries from Godiva. Not knowing how much they cost ($7 a piece!!), I used to eat them in one seating without much thought. I only found out how much they cost recently and boy, do I feel bad about not savoring them. But that was my first encounter with chocolate covered strawberries and it’s been one of my favorite flavor parings since.
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake  4This cake is my spin on a chocolate covered strawberry. A rich dark chocolate cake is filled and frosted with fresh strawberry frosting and covered in a chocolate ganache and adorned with chocolate dipped strawberries. Because fresh strawberries in February are not the tastiest, I suggest buying frozen strawberries for the frosting to ensure full strawberry flavor. I happened to have this cake pan that I bought on clearance a year or two ago, and I thought it fit the theme perfectly. If you do not have the cake pan, you can always make the same cake sans the strawberry frosting heart in the middle. Talking about clearance, am I the only person that scours the holiday section at Target after every major holiday? I cannot resist the themed sprinkles and sparkling sugar at a deep discount. Sometimes, I’ll land on a real gem… like this cake pan at 75% off. It’s a guilty pleasure and I look forward to going to Target post February 14th. 😉
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake  1Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake

Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:
1 ¾ c. all-purpose flour
2 c. sugar
¼ c. natural unsweetened cocoa powder
½ c. Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1. tsp. kosher salt
½ c. vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. strong, hot coffee

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease and line 2 cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, both cocoa powders, baking soda, baking powder and salt until fully combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract until combined.
  4. With the mixer speed on low, add the egg mixture to the flour mixture until combined.
  5. Turn off the mixer. With a spatula, scrape the sides of the bowl to fully incorporate the two mixtures.
  6. Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the hot coffee to the batter. Once added, raise the speed to medium until completely homogenous.
  7. Divide batter equally among the two cake pans and bake about 25-30 minutes. Checking at 20 minutes for doneness with a toothpick test.*
  8. Let stand for 5-10 minutes when done, then put onto a cooling rack to fully cool.

Strawberry Puree

Ingredients:
2 lbs of strawberries, smashed
1 tbsp. lemon juice

Instructions:

  1. In a small pot, cook strawberries and lemon juice on medium heat until mixture thickens and reduces 1/3-1/2 of the original volume, about 20-30 minutes.
  2. Once thickened, put in a bowl to cool and refrigerate.

Basic Vanilla Frosting

Ingredients:
2 c. whole milk
½ c. flour
¼ tsp. salt
1 1b. (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 c. sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. In a saucier pan, put milk, salt and flour and whisk until combined on medium heat.
  2. Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
  3. Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture and put into the fridge until fully cool.
  5. In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add the vanilla extract and mix until combined.

Strawberry Frosting

Ingredients:
1 batch of strawberry puree
1 batch of vanilla frosting

Instructions:

  1. Mix vanilla frosting with strawberry puree until the mixture turns strawberry pink and fluffy.

Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients:
8 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
¾ c. heavy whipping cream

Instructions:

  1. In a heatproof bowl, pour heavy cream on top of chocolate and microwave for one minute.
  2. Let stand 3 minutes and stir until combined.

Assembly

1 batch chocolate cake
1 batch strawberry frosting
1 batch chocolate ganache
6-8 strawberries, rinsed and dried

Instructions:

  1. Fill and frost chocolate cake with strawberry frosting.
  2. Chill in freezer for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Pour ¾ of chocolate ganache and use offset spatula to push ganache over the edge.
  4. Before the ganache sets completely, dip the strawberries in the remaining ganache and garnish the cake.

* Chocolate cake recipe adapted from Ina Garten.

Pomegranate Coconut Marshmallows and Coconut White Hot Chocolate

Coconut White Hot Chocolate 1As a subscriber to Bon Appètit magazine, I fell in love with their section on holiday desserts in their newest issue. It was filled with such beautiful photographs (seriously, OMG how gorgeous is this cookie wreath?) and unexpected flavor pairings; I had to make something from it. The blood-orange marshmallows were calling my name and that’s where my journey started.
Pomegranate Coconut Marshmallows 1If you’ve never made homemade marshmallows before, I can only describe it as a springier, fluffier, less dense version of the store bought kind. Without the preservatives, the marshmallows melt in your mouth and it is best consumed as soon as possible. While I loved the idea of blood orange marshmallows, I just felt that pomegranates were more of a winter fruit so I substituted pomegranate juice for the blood orange juice and it worked out great. The problem was when I tried to make the coconut half of the marshmallow, it wouldn’t whip up fluffy like the pomegranate layer. I used the low fat coconut milk as the recipe stated and I tried it a second time, using less coconut milk and subbing water for the rest of the liquid stated but again, it did not puff up as it was supposed to.
Pomegranate Coconut Marshmallows 2My “spider-sense” tingled when I first read the recipe thinking that it was odd that there was any kind of fat in a marshmallow recipe. After all, a marshmallow is a stabilized meringue and fats are meringues’ number one enemy. So having two failed batches of coconut marshmallows, I just dumped it on top of the pomegranate layer and hoped for the best. It set alright and the coconut marshmallow was definitely denser than the pomegranate half, but tasty nonetheless.
Coconut White Hot Chocolate 2I had some coconut milk leftover so I decided to make it some white hot chocolate with it. Heat some coconut milk and low fat milk, add some white chocolate Lindt truffles and stir until it melts. You can blend it in a blender if you want some froth too. Top with whipped cream (I uh… whipped mine for a little too long hahaha) and some marshmallows and it’s a flavor bomb that is just rich enough for it to be indulgent but not heavy.
Pomegranate Coconut Marshmallows 3All in all, I think making marshmallows at home is a fun weekend project and people are always amazed when you make homemade candy.  As for packaging, you can always cut them out in fun shapes, or you can cut them into neat squares and put them into treat bags tied with a little ribbon.
Pomegranate Coconut Marshmallows 4Pomegranate Coconut Marshmallows and Coconut White Hot Chocolate

Pomegranate Coconut Marshmallows

Note: I will state the recipe as written by the original author with my adaptations. I’m going to chalk up my coconut layer not forming because my light coconut milk was not “light” enough. I bought it from Trader Joe’s.

Ingredients:

For the pomegranate layer:
3 ¼ tsp. unflavored powdered gelatin
¼ c. cold water
¾ c. sugar
½ c. 100% pomegranate juice
5 tbsp. light corn syrup, divided
red food coloring

For the coconut layer:
3 ¼ tsp. unflavored powdered gelatin
¼ c. cold water
¾ c. sugar
½ c. low-fat coconut milk
5 tbsp. light corn syrup, divided

Assembly:
powdered sugar

Instructions:

For the pomegranate layer:

  1. Spray a 13×9 in. baking pan with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer with a whisk attachment, add the ice water and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let gelatin bloom for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, add the sugar, pomegranate juice, 2 tbsp. corn syrup and cook until the mixture hits 230˚F.
  4. Add the remaining 3 tbsp. corn syrup to the gelatin mixture.
  5. When the mixture hits 230˚F, turn on the mixer to high and slowly drizzle the pomegranate syrup down the side of the bowl.
  6. Beat until soft, fluffy peaks form and the bowl is cool to the touch, about 5 minutes.
  7. Beat in a few drops of red food coloring until you reach the color you desire.
  8. Quickly add the pomegranate mixture into the prepared pan and smooth with an offset spatula coated with nonstick spray. Cool.

For the coconut layer:

  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer with a whisk attachment, add the ice water and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let gelatin bloom for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, add the sugar, coconut milk, 2 tbsp. corn syrup and cook until the mixture hits 230˚F.
  3. Add the remaining 3 tbsp. corn syrup to the gelatin mixture.
  4. When the mixture hits 230˚F, turn on the mixer to high and slowly drizzle the coconut syrup down the side of the bowl.
  5. Beat until soft, fluffy peaks form and the bowl is cool to the touch, about 5 minutes.
  6. Quickly add the coconut mixture on top of the cooled pomegranate layer and smooth with an offset spatula coated with nonstick spray. Let set for 12 hours before unmolding.

Assembly:

  1. Dust a cutting board with powdered sugar and unmold the marshmallow slab on top of it.
  2. Dust with additional powdered sugar and cut marshmallows either with a cookie cutter or into 1-2 inch squares.
  3. Package as desired.

Coconut White Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:
⅓ c. low-fat coconut milk
⅔ c. low-fat milk
3 white chocolate Lindt truffles
whipped cream for garnish

Instructions:

  1. Heat coconut milk and milk together until hot.
  2. Stir in Lindt truffles and stir until melted.
  3. Optional: Blend in a blender for froth.
  4. Pour into mug, top with whipped cream, marshmallows and a Lindt truffle.

Marshmallow recipe adapted from Bon Appètit.

 

 

Caramel Apple Monkey Bread

Caramel Apple Monkey Bread 1There are a few things that scream “autumn”. Pumpkins, apples, fall foliage, football and Thanksgiving are at the top of my list. A couple several weeks ago, I went apple picking with a group of friends and came home with a big ol’ bag of apples. Apples are notorious for lasting along time (as long as they are not bruised) and I have plans for the other ones I have in my fridge. But for now, I have this recipe for you.
Caramel Apple Monkey Bread 2 Caramel Apple Monkey Bread 3 Caramel Apple Monkey Bread 4If you’ve never had monkey bread, you’re missing out on some serious yum. If you took cinnamon rolls but made them bite sized and decided to glue them together with some cinnamon sugar, you’ve got monkey bread. Cut up some fresh apple chunks and stuff them in the sweet dough and you have fall in bread form.
Caramel Apple Monkey Bread 5I have to be honest. I’ve made and shot this recipe weeks ago and I started writing the first paragraph last week, but things became hectic and that’s as far as I got. But to be fair, I threw a Star Wars Rebels themed party and that kept me quite busy for a several days. I’m excited to share it with you on my next post!
Caramel Apple Monkey Bread  6Caramel Apple Monkey Bread

Ingredients:

1 ¼ c. milk
2 tsp. instant yeast
4 c. all-purpose flour
5 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 egg
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
3 apples, peeled, cored and cut into small bits
1 ¼ c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
½ c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Instructions:

  1. Generously spray the inside of a 10 in. Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a small bowl, warm your milk, add the yeast and whisk to dissolve. (Do not warm it above 110˚F or you will kill the yeast).
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the flour, 5 tbsp. sugar, egg, and salt until combined.
  4. Slowly add in the milk mixture until combined. Add the 5 tbsp. melted butter and mix until the dough comes together.
  5. Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook attachment. Continue to mix on medium speed until the dough becomes silky and tacky, but not sticky, about 8-10 minutes.
  6. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest in a warm area until the dough has doubled in size, approximately 1 hour.
  7. Use your clean hands to push down and deflate the dough. Roll out dough in a rough rectangle, ¼ in. thick. Spread 1/3 of apple bits onto half of the rolled out dough. (As pictured above)
  8. Fold dough in half and spread another 1/3 of apple bits on another half of the dough and fold once again in half to form a quarter of its original size. (As pictured above)
  9. Cut dough into 1 to 1 ½ inch pieces and roll the pieces into balls (apple pieces may stick out). Place the balls on the sheet pan.
  10. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon. Place the melted butter in a separate bowl.
  11. Dip one dough ball in the melted butter. Let the excess butter drip back into the bowl, roll the ball in the brown sugar mixture, and place it in the Bundt pan.
  12. Continue this process with each ball, until halfway where you will scatter the rest of the apple pieces.
  13. Wrap the Bundt pan tightly in plastic wrap and let rise in a warm area until the dough balls have doubled in size.
  14. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  15. Bake until the top layer is deep brown and the caramel coating begins to bubble around the edges, about 30 minutes.
  16. Cool the bread for 5 minutes, then turn it out directly onto a platter and serve warm. If you have any leftovers, reheat them in a 300 degree oven until warm to the touch.

Recipe adapted from Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.

Peaches and Cream Crêpe Cake

Crêpe Cake 6It’s been a while. Residency was kicking my butt and I ate too well for my birthday week and decided to go on a diet. Two weeks later, residency is still kicking my butt and the diet was a disaster. What happens when a food blogger decides to go on a diet? They lose content. Lesson learned. I won’t do it again. I promise.
Crêpe Cake 3Several weeks ago my good friend, H, brought two slices of crêpe cake from Lady M Confections. If you don’t know already, Lady M is a chain of cake boutiques that specialize in crêpe cakes. I never tried a crêpe cake before and was pleasantly surprised by the delicate layers and the light taste. But when H told me how much she paid, I was shocked at the price tag. $8 for a slice of cake?? As delicious it was, I could not justify that kind of cost and said I would never pay that that much for a slice of cake, ever.
Peaches and Cream Crêpe Cake 1Fast forward two weeks and as my birthday approached closer, I couldn’t help but think of that ridiculously expensive crêpe cake. Do I just bite the bullet and buy it or should I try it on my own? I’ve never attempted at making crêpes at home but it was my birthday, and I decided I would make one if I wanted to.
Crêpe Cake 2I know some people think making your own birthday cake is sad or depressing and until this year, I’ve been blessed with significant others that would buy me the cake of my desire. But you know what, making your own cake is better because you get exactly what you want and how you want it. Plus, if you make a mistake or mess up, you don’t feel guilty or pressured about ruining someone’s special day.
Crêpe Cake 4I had some fresh picked peaches when I went peach picking in August, so I decided to incorporate it into the cake. If I could redo this cake, I would make the crêpes thinner. As a novice, I was worried about it tearing and made them on the thicker side. In hindsight, it wasn’t necessary. So go thin if you decide to make it.
Crêpe Cake 5In the end, it was worth the effort and I suggest eating it immediately after caramelizing the sugar.  Because when you take a bite of the crisp bits of sugar with the light cake, you will be in heaven. Plus when you refrigerate it, the sugar melts and you get an odd syrup that may or may not pool all over your refrigerator shelf. (Yes, this happened. No, I was not fun cleaning it up.)

Peaches and Cream Crêpe Cake

For the Crêpes

Ingredients:
6 tbsp. butter
3 c. milk
6 large eggs
1 ½ c. all-purpose flour
7 tbsp. sugar
pinch kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Prepare the batter a day before you want to serve the cake.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt and brown the butter.
  3. In a separate saucepan, heat the milk and cool for 10 minutes. (Do not boil milk.)
  4. In a food processor, pulse eggs, flour, sugar and salt until fully combined.
  5. Add milk and butter and pulse until fully combined.
  6. Refrigerate batter for 8-24 hours.
  7. On the day of, bring the batter to room temperature.
  8. Heat a 6” nonstick pan and spray the pan with nonstick spray and wipe off.
  9. Spread 3 tbsp. of batter and swirl to cover the pan.
  10. Cook until the bottom begins to brown and flip the crêpe cook the other side until it sets.
  11. Repeat until all of the batter is used.

For the 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

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the pastry cream a day before you want to serve the cake.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring milk and ¼ c. sugar to a boil.
  3. In another medium bowl, mix egg yolks, egg, cornstarch and ¼ c. sugar until a paste forms.
  4. 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.
  5. Take the egg milk mixture and pour it into the saucepan with the remaining milk.
  6. Cook the mixture while stirring constantly over medium heat until mixture is thickened and pudding like.
  7. Remove saucepan from heat and mix in butter and vanilla extract. Set aside.

To Assemble

Ingredients:
1 ½ c. heavy cream
3 tbsp. powdered sugar
2 tbsp. Kirsch
3 large very ripe peaches, cut into small bits
granulated or powdered sugar for garnish (optional)
sliced peaches for garnish (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Whip the heavy cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form.
  2. Fold in prepared pastry cream, Kirsch and peaches.
  3. Lay two crêpes on a cake plate. Using an offset spatula, spread a thin layer of peach pastry cream. Cover with a crêpe and repeat until all the crêpes are used. Save the best looking crêpe for the top.
  4. Chill for at least 2 hours to set.
  5. When ready to serve, you can:
    1. Dust the top with powdered sugar.
    2. Sprinkle the top with granulated sugar and caramelize with a blowtorch.
    3. Garnish the top with sliced peaches, sprinkle the top with granulated sugar and caramelize with a blowtorch.

Crepe Cake recipe adapted from NY Times.

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.

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.