Giant Peeps Doughnut Cake (Meyer Lemon Marshmallow Doughnut Cake)

Giant Peeps Doughnut CakeThis Lent season I gave up online shopping. I used to think that online shopping was for people who were too lazy to go to the mall and try on clothing, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve seen the light. With a click of a button, you can see what is available to you in your size instead of rifling through all the different sizes in the stores. What I really like is that the clothes come looking pristine and new (even though I’m pretty sure someone else has tried it on before me). You know what I mean though right? You go through piles of clothing in a store trying to find that perfect dress on sale and when you find it, it has a lipstick or deodorant mark on it and sometimes, a strange stain that may or may not come out in the wash. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the mall and I believe that retail therapy is sometimes best done in stores. It’s just that now I’m in love with two forms of shopping.
Giant Peeps Doughnut CakeWhat I’ve learned is that online shopping is really hard to avoid. It follows you through email, social media, and even through paper catalogs. I’ve become so used to the thrill of finding a “good” deal that many times I perused through websites just to see what was available without the intention of buying anything. And then when I found something really great, it was very hard for me to not purchase it. Like an alcoholic that goes into a liquor store just to see what is available, I was just torturing myself for no reason.
Meyer Lemon Marshmallow Doughnut CakeWhy even go through it if it was so difficult? Because it gave me time to reflect on my lifestyle, and on my faith. At the times where I caught myself window shopping (online), I would close the window and spend some time in prayer and meditation. I’ve come to appreciate the things I already have in my life and realize the abundance of needs that are already met despite the lack of the perfect lace up suede flats. I am so thankful and am writing this with an overwhelmingly grateful heart.
Giant Peeps Doughnut CakeMeyer Lemon Marshmallow Doughnut CakeWhen Easter rolls around, seasonal bunny, egg and chick themed candy appear and I think Peeps is the most iconic Easter candy of them all. I know they come in different shapes and colors, (they even have peeps flavored milk these days) but I think the OG is the yellow chick peep. Super bright in color with a squishy marshmallow interior, it makes me feel like it should be lemon flavored. This is where I got my inspiration from.  As for the doughnut shape, well anything doughnut is superior to plain cake. No?
Meyer Lemon Marshmallow Doughnut CakeMeyer Lemon Marshmallow Doughnut CakeI happened to have a giant doughnut cake pan set from Williams Sonoma, which they don’t sell anymore but this cake can be made with two 8” cake pans if desired. Or, you can carve a hole in the middle and make yourself a makeshift doughnut cake too.
Giant Peeps Doughnut CakeMeyer lemons are popping up everywhere this season, so this cake is filled with all things lemon. It’s a lemon cake, filled with lemon curd and topped with a lemon glaze. As for the marshmallow component, it’s filled with my favorite marshmallow frosting and also topped with a toasted marshmallow frosting that when you put the chicks in, the browned top kind of looks like a nest. I decorated mine with a few Cadbury min eggs (the best chocolate egg candy IMHO) to give that nest feel a little more oomph.  Seasonal in flavor and themed, it’s the perfect baking project for this weekend. 🙂
Meyer Lemon Marshmallow Doughnut CakeHere are other Easter themed blog posts from the past:

Easy Peanut Butter Eggs
Easter Bunny Surprise Cake
White Chocolate Tiramisu Eggs
Bunny Cake Pops

Giant Peeps Doughnut Cake (Meyer Lemon Marshmallow Doughnut Cake)

You will need:

1 batch of meyer lemon cake (recipe below)
1 batch meyer lemon curd (recipe below)
1 batch meyer lemon glaze (recipe below)
1 batch marshmallow frosting (recipe below)
Cadbury mini eggs
yellow marshmallow chick Peeps

Instructions:

  1. Carve a small ditch around each half of the doughnut cake, making a tunnel for the filling.
  2. On the bottom half of the doughnut, fill the cavity with the lemon curd.
  3. On the top half of the doughnut, fill the cavity with marshmallow frosting.
  4. Sandwich the bottom and half together and set the cake on top of a wire cooling rack and pour the lemon glaze over the top, letting it dribble down the sides.
  5. Fill a piping bag with a large open star frosting tip (the one with a lot of teeth, not the one with 5 teeth) with the rest of the frosting.
  6. Make a swirl pattern all over the top of the cake.
  7. Use a kitchen torch to toast the tops of the marshmallow frosting.
  8. Place a marshmallow Peep all around the cake.
  9. Decorate the empty spaces with the mini eggs.

Meyer Lemon Doughnut Cake

Ingredients:

8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 ¾ c. granulated sugar
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
¼ c. grated meyer lemon zest (3-4 meyer lemons)
3 c. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
¼ c. meyer lemon juice, freshly squeezed
¾ c. buttermilk, at room temperature
1 tsp.  pure vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Grease and flour the two doughnut pans. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. (The cake pan I used is discontinued but this product is similar.)
  2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, mix lemon juice, buttermilk and vanilla extract. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream sugar and butter together until light and fluffy.
  5. Add eggs one at a time until blended and then the zest.
  6. Add the flour and buttermilk mixture alternatively to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour.
  7. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans, smoothing the tops.
  8. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  9. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan onto a wire cooling rack and cool completely.

Meyer Lemon Curd

Ingredients:

2 tsp. meyer lemon zest
½ c. meyer lemon juice, freshly squeezed
½ c. sugar
2 large eggs
pinch of salt
4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

Instructions:

  1. Simmer about an inch of water in a small pot.
  2. In a medium metal mixing bowl, whisk together the zest, juice, sugar, eggs and salt.
  3. Add the butter to the mixing bowl and set the bowl over the pot of simmering water and whisk mixture continuously until mixture thickens and reaches 160˚F, about 5 minutes.
  4. Strain the curd through a fine meshed sieve and refrigerate to thicken completely.

Meyer Lemon Glaze

Ingredients:

2 c. confectioners’ sugar
¼ c. meyer lemon juice, freshly squeezed

Instructions:

  1. Whisk together sugar and meyer lemon juice until smooth.

Marshmallow Frosting

Ingredients:

3 large egg whites
¾ c. sugar
¼ tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Simmer about an inch of water in a small pot.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk together egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar.
  3. Place the bowl over the pot of simmering water and whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved, 3-4 minutes.
  4. Transfer the bowl to the standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whisk on high speed until white glossy, stiff peaks form.
  5. Add the vanilla extract and mix until combined.

Meyer lemon cake and glaze recipe adapted from Ina Garten.
Meyer lemon curd adapted from Epicurious.
Marshmallow frosting adapted from Martha Stewart.

 

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.