Toffee Mocha Cake

I used to avoid toffee. It was just too crunchy and the bits of sugar would get stuck in my teeth and I’d have to try and fish it out with my tongue while trying to look like I wasn’t. No? Just me? I could never bring myself to fish it out with my fingers in public, although I’ve seen many people do it without batting an eye. Ick. I’ve always been partial to caramels and their chew until I made my own toffee. Unlike brittle or a not-so-great toffee, good toffee not only breaks into delightful shards in your mouth (as opposed to the jagged, sharp chips) but disintegrates into a caramel liquid that is pleasant on the tongue and doesn’t stick to your teeth.
This cake is an ode to toffee and coffee. I call it a mocha cake because there are layers of chocolate cake in the center and chocolate + coffee = mocha. If I had it my way though, it would really be a toffee coffee chocolate cake. What a mouthful.
The cake itself is well balanced with a salty sweet coffee toffee and its chocolate cake. But if you really don’t want to go through with this over-the-top cake, I’m pleading with you to at least try the toffee. That is one worth taking your time making.

Toffee Mocha Cake
(For a step-by-step video of how I put it together, check out my stories on Instagram (@thebusyspatula)!)

You will need:


Chocolate Cake (recipe below)
Salted Nut Coffee Toffee (recipe below)
Coffee Ganache (recipe below)
Coffee Swiss Meringue Buttercream (recipe below)
Espresso Beans (optional)

Instructions:

  1. On a cake board, place one layer of your chocolate cake.
  2. Spread a thin, but even layer of the coffee buttercream.
  3. Spread a layer of the coffee ganache.
  4. Top with the coffee toffee.
  5. Repeat two more times.
  6. Crumb coat the cake with leftover buttercream and set in freezer for about 10-15 minutes or until the buttercream is firm.
  7. Remove cake from freezer and frost entire cake smoothly.
  8. Garnish the bottom of the cake with crushed coffee toffee.
  9. Place cake in freezer until firm, about 20-30 minutes.
  10. While cake is in the freezer, put the leftover ganache in a squeeze bottle and warm up ganache in a cup of hot water. You want the ganache to be runny enough that it will drip down the sides but not so hot that it will melt the buttercream.
  11. Remove cake from the freezer and do a ganache drip down the side of the cake. Fill the top smoothly with coffee ganache.
  12. Place cake in freezer to set.
  13. In a pastry bag fitted with a star pastry tip (I used Wilton’s 1M), swirl buttercream all around the edge of the cake.
  14. Dust the tops of the buttercream with crushed leftover toffee, and garnish each swirl with one espresso bean.

Chocolate Cake:

Ingredients:

1 ¾ c. flour
2 c. sugar
¾ c. cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 c. buttermilk, shaken
½ c. vegetable oil
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 c. hot coffee

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚ and grease and line the bottom of four 6” 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 evenly amongst the four cake pans and bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating the cake pans halfway.
  8. Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out of cake pan and move onto wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Salted Nut Coffee Toffee:

Ingredients:

1 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 ½ tsp. espresso powder
1 ½ tsp. molasses
¼ tsp. kosher salt
nuts (I used walnuts and sunflower seeds)
flaky salt (I used maldon sea salt)

Instructions:

  1. Prepare a sheet pan lined with either parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. On medium-low heat in a small to medium HEAVY saucepan with a candy thermometer attached, mix butter, sugar, espresso powder, molasses and kosher salt together. (I’m emphasizing heavy because I’ve tried with a lighter pan and I ruined my first batch.)
  3. Whisk mixture constantly until temperature reaches 285˚F.
  4. Pour mixture onto the sheet pan and sprinkle your nuts and then the flaky salt.
  5. Let cool and break into shards.

For the Coffee Ganache:

Ingredients:

120 ml. heavy cream
180 g. white chocolate
2 tsp. espresso powder
1 tsp. coffee emulsion

Instructions:

  1. In a microwave safe bowl, heat heavy cream and white chocolate for one minute. Whisk mixture together until it becomes homogenous. If the white chocolate did not fully melt, microwave at intervals of 30 seconds until melted.
  2. Add in espresso powder and coffee emulsion and whisk.
  3. Pour onto the mocha cake layer and put cake in fridge to set the ganache. About 30 minutes to an hour.

Coffee Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Ingredients:

1 ¾ c. sugar
1 tbsp. espresso powder
7 large egg whites
a pinch of kosher salt
5 ½ sticks unsalted butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. coffee emulsion

Instructions:

  1. Simmer an inch of water in a medium pot.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk egg whites, espresso powder, sugar and salt 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.
  7. Add 2 tsp. of the coffee emulsion and whip until light brown and homogenous.

Salted nut coffee toffee recipe adapted from The Smitten Kitchen and All Recipes.
Chocolate cake recipe adapted from Food Network.

Crème Brûlée Cake

Happy New Year! I say this knowing that it already passed 3 weeks since the beginning of 2018. What better way to start a new year than with cake? Admittedly, I made this cake last year, but that doesn’t make it any less delicious!One of my favorite things to do with dessert is trying different versions of an already established dessert. This time it was crème brulee. Did you guys see this video of a dessert shop that specializes in crème brulees? I just want to dip my spoon into every crispy crackly shell that they advertise. I think that’s one of the great things about it, you can add your spin to just about whatever you want.
As usual, I went out of my way to get the best crème brulee cake that I could make. It is filled with crisp sugar shards, caramelized white chocolate ganache and pastry cream. But the one thing I didn’t prepare for was the pastry cream being absorbed by the cake. I highly recommend you eat this cake sooner than later to fully enjoy all the components.Most of the parts of the cake are things I’ve made before, but the caramelized white chocolate was a new technique for me. You essentially bake very good white chocolate on low heat while stirring to transform it into a complex caramel flavor. I first read about it on David Lebovitz’s blog years ago, but never had the chance to make it. Why did it take so long? Well, one of the biggest factors was the cost of the chocolate. Valrhona Ivoire white chocolate is very pricey! I would be extremely sad if it failed. Luckily, I still had some in stock from baking the ultimate mocha cake.So what does caramelized white chocolate taste like? Kind of like dulce de leche but less sweet and a little more milky. Is it worth the trouble? I’m 50/50 on it. I don’t know if I want to use my precious Valrhona on it again. The answer would be definitely if I had a cheaper option to use. (David says not to use the cheap supermarket chocolate.)Aesthetically, there are two parts that love about the cake. The first being the amazing cake topper made by my friend, Carmiña of Sohnmade. Just look at the details on it! The tiny fork and spoon and the cupcake just kill me. I know cake toppers are super popular these days because they jazz up any cake, but I’ve rarely seen one that has so many details. And of course, because she is multi-talented, she also throws wonderful events and does a whole assortment of custom décor. I highly recommend her. The other part that I love is the sugar shards of the cake. I love the stained glass effect it gives off and I can imagine  making different colored ones and doing actual, edible stained glass work. The ones in the recipe have a similar flavor of the crisp sugar shell of crème brulee because you cook sugar until it gets that toasty taste. Win-win.

Crème Brulee Cake
Makes one 6-inch cake

You will need:
1 batch caramelized white chocolate ganache (recipe below)
1 batch vanilla pastry cream (recipe below)
1 batch vanilla buttermilk cake (recipe below)
1 batch vanilla swiss meringue frosting (recipe below)
1 batch sugar shards (recipe below)

Instructions:

  • On a cake board, place one layer of vanilla cake and using an offset spatula, spread a layer of ganache. (picture #1 in photo above)
  • In a piping bag fitted with a plain tip, fill it with some vanilla frosting. Pipe a dam around the outer edge of the cake. This will keep the cream from spilling out of the sides. (picture #2 in photo above)
  • Use an offset spatula to fill with pastry cream. (picture #3 in photo above)
  • Top with small sugar shards. Note: The sugar shards will dissolve over time. It is best to eat sooner than later to experience the full textural effect. (picture #4 in photo above)
  • Repeat the sequence twice, ending with a layer of cake.
  • Cover the cake with a thin layer of vanilla frosting and freeze to firm.
  • Cover the cake fully with vanilla frosting, smoothing out the sides and top as well as you can.
  • Decorate the top and sides with sugar shards.

Caramelized White Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients:
12 oz. highest quality white chocolate you can get your hands on
Pinch of kosher salt
6 – 8 oz. heavy cream

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 250˚F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Chop the white chocolate into pieces and evenly distribute over baking sheet.
  3. Place in oven for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove and stir with a spatula. (The mixture will look lumpy and chalky for a while. Picture #1, #2, #3 in photo above)
  5. Place it back into the oven in 10 minute intervals until chocolate is smooth and caramelized. (picture #4 in photo above)
  6. At this point, if there are small lumps in the chocolate, use a fine mesh strainer and strain. (It will be messy, but worth it.)
  7. Heat the chocolate with 6 oz. heavy cream in the microwave for 1-2 minutes and stir. Let cool.
  8. If the mixture is too thick, add the other 1-2 oz. of heavy cream to thin out. The mixture should be thick enough to spread onto cake but not flow off of it, like nutella.

Vanilla Pastry Cream

Ingredients:

2 c. whole milk
½ c. sugar, divided
2 egg yolks
1 large egg
¼ c. cornstarch
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract (or if you really want to go fancy, vanilla paste)

Instructions:

  1. In a pot, heat whole milk and ¼ c. sugar and bring to a simmer.
  2. While the milk heats, mix egg yolks, egg, cornstarch and ¼ c. sugar in a medium bowl.
  3. When the milk is hot, use a ladle to slowly drizzle hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking to prevent curdling.
  4. Once all of the milk is introduced into the egg mixture, return all of it back into the pot.
  5. Bring the mixture in the pot to a boil while whisking. When it is thick, remove the pot off the heat.
  6. Add in the butter and vanilla. Once the butter is completely mixed in, move to a bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly against the pastry cream (to prevent a skin from forming). Chill completely, about 2-3 hours, before using.

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake

3 c. cake flour
2 c. sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. kosher salt
1¼ c. buttermilk, divided
8 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature
4 eggs, room temperature
2 egg yolks
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F and grease 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 1 c. buttermilk and butter and mix until combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, egg yolks, 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. 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.

Sugar Shards

Ingredients:
3 c. sugar
½ c. water

Instructions:

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a small pot over medium heat, stir water and sugar together until the sugar dissolves. Stop stirring.
  3. Let the sugar cook until it turns into a caramel color.
  4. Pour out the sugar onto the prepared pans.
  5. Tilt the pans to spread the liquid sugar.
  6. Once the sugar is cooled, break them into shards for decorative use and smaller pieces for the inside of the cake.

Caramelized white chocolate recipe adapted from David Lebovitz.
Pastry cream recipe adapted from All Recipes.
Vanilla buttermilk cake recipe adapted from Sky High Cakes.
Sugar shard recipe and cake inspired by The Cake Blog.
Cake topper by Sohnmade.

S’mores Cookies

Why is s’mores a “summer” thing? Toasted marshmallows and melty chocolate seem more suited for winter, no? Because I like it so much, I decided to go homemade on all the components of it. I’m not knocking on my ol’ standby of Honey Maid graham crackers, Jet-Puffed marshmallows and Hershey’s chocolate, but sometimes a girl’s gotta do some from-scratch projects.
I guess (for most people) the deciding factor boils down to: is it worth it? I won’t lie that the store-bought s’mores are almost as good and are way quicker to make, but do you see the char on that homemade marshmallow? You just can’t get the same toast on a ready-made version. If there was one component of the cookie that is worth making, it would be the marshmallows. The texture and flavor is unbeatable when compared to its commercial counterpart.A couple of notes about making marshmallows: 1) It is very sticky. Do not wrestle with it or try to get every bit out of the mixer. 2) Gelatin smells. When you whip up the gelatin and hot sugar mixture, it will smell awful. It’s hard to explain…but to me, it kind of smells like a farm? (I once took a class in college that required me to take care of a cow. It takes me back to that experience every time.) Either way, it is not a pleasant smell, but it will dissipate when the mixture cools. 3) You NEED a thermometer. There is no way around it. My thermapen might be the most used kitchen gadget and is worth every penny. Please, do not try and buy the $10 thermometers on Amazon. I promise you, you will not regret it.Homemade graham crackers are more flavorful and you can cut them into any shape and thickness that you want. Plus, you know every single ingredient that goes in it. And as for the chocolate coating, you can use way better quality chocolate. Oh! I tried using the sous vide cooker to temper chocolate and I’m not kidding, the best way to do it, EVER. We were having lunch as a group the other day and I was talking smack about my sous vide cooker… how it takes forever, how it’s only good for making steaks. But after this experience, I take it all back. I’m sorry I talked smack about you, I love you forever.
S’mores is one of my favorite cookies because it combines everything I like: crisp cookie, a soft-chewy marshmallow and rich chocolate. So I decided to share it with you guys along with a bunch of other cookies from my very talented blogger friends! Seriously, the list is outrageously delicious. If a recipe stands out to you, please visit and show them some love!

What Should I Make For… – Ugly Sweater Gingerbread Cookies
The Sweet Nerd – Gingerbread Cookies – All Spruced Up
Girl Heart Food – Orange Poppy Seed Shortbread Cookies
The Beach House Kitchen- Hot Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies
Beyond Mere Sustenance – Brandy-Spiked Mexican Hot Chocolate
Seasons & Suppers – Lemon Pistachio Shortbread Cookies
Ciao Chow Bambina – Lemon Drop Italian Cookies
Contemplating Sweets – Hedgehog Cookies
Salt & Lavender – Vegan Gingerbread Cookie Bars
Meg Is Well – Bradshaw Cookies: A Sour Cream Cookie with Cream Cheese Frosting


S’mores Cookies

You will need:

Homemade graham crackers (recipe below)
Homemade marshmallows (recipe below)
8 oz. chocolate, tempered (I used the sous vide method here)
Toppings, optional

Instructions:

  1. Put all the chocolate in a tall container for easier dipping. I used a 2-cup pyrex measuring cup.
  2. Have a sheet pan lined with a parchment paper ready.
  3. Place one square of marshmallow on top of the graham cracker and lower both on an angle so you get a crisp line. Work quickly so your chocolate doesn’t fall out of temper.
  4. Sprinkle the chocolate covered side with any toppings you want. Above, I used nonpareils, freeze dried strawberries, royal icing poinsettias, and flaky salt. The flaky salt looked the least impressive, but tasted the best.
  5. Let set. Toast marshmallow with a kitchen torch before eating for best taste. The chocolate melts a little when you toast the marshmallow, giving you the s’mores effect.

Homemade Graham Crackers

Ingredients:

2 ½ c. plus 2 tbsp. all purpose-flour
1 c. dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. kosher salt
7 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
1/3 c. honey
5 tbsp. whole milk
2 tbsp. vanilla extract

Cinnamon-Sugar Topping:
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, pulse together the flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt.
  2. Add in the chunks of frozen butter and pulse until the mixture looks very crumbly, or a coarse meal.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the honey, milk and vanilla extract and add it to the flour mixture.
  4. Pulse the mixture until the dough barely comes together. Do not over process, the cookies will become tough.
  5. Wrap the dough in a large piece of plastic wrap. The dough will be sticky, so try to avoid using your hands and use the sides of the plastic wrap to form the dough into a large rectangle. Refrigerate the dough for two hours, or overnight.
  6. Take the dough out and divide it in half, refrigerate the half that you are not using.
  7. Roll out the dough (remember, the dough is sticky, so use flour as needed) about ⅛ inch thick, and use a square 2 ½ inch cutter to cut out squares.
  8. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  9. Take the thicker end of a skewer and poke nine holes in each square, like a cracker.
  10. In a small bowl, mix the sugar and ground cinnamon for the topping.
  11. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with the topping and refrigerate for about 30-45 minutes until firm. Repeat with the remaining dough. Once you cut out all the squares, put the scraps together and re-roll and cut out more squares.
  12. Preheat the oven to 350˚F and bake the cookies about 10-15 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown.

Homemade Marshmallows

Ingredients:

3 envelopes of unflavored gelatin
1 c. ice cold water, divided
1 ½ c. sugar
1 c. light corn syrup
¼ tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp, vanilla extract
¼ c. powdered sugar
¼ c. cornstarch

Instructions:

  1. Place the gelatin into a bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add ½ c. ice water and let bloom.
  2. In a small pot either fitted with a candy thermometer (or not, if you’re using an instant-read thermometer), combine ½ c. water, sugar, corn syrup and salt.
  3. Heat mixture over medium high heat and cook until the mixture hits 240˚F, which should take about 6-8 minutes depending on the type of pot you used and the heat of the stove.
  4. Once the mixture hits 240˚F, take it off the heat and start your mixer on low speed.
  5. Add the hot sugar to the gelatin mixture slowly, avoid hitting the whisk.
  6. Once all of the sugar is mixed in gradually raise the speed of the mixer to high.
  7. Mix for about 12-15 minutes, or until the side of the bowl is luke warm and the mixture becomes very thick. Add in the vanilla in the last minute of mixing, taking care to lower the speed while you add it in, so you don’t fling extract everywhere (like I did. Ha!).
  8. Prepare an 8×8 pan, with high sides (at least 2 inches), by spraying the inside with nonstick spray and lining the inside with parchment paper.
  9. Spread the sugar mixture into the 8×8 pan using a silicone spatula also sprayed with nonstick spray. Try to smooth it down the best you can.
  10. In a small bowl, mix the powdered sugar and cornstarch together. Use a mesh strainer to dust the top of the marshmallow mixture and wrap with plastic wrap overnight to cool and set. Save the rest of the powdered sugar mixture for the next day.
  11. When the marshmallow is set, overturn it on a cutting board dusted with the powdered sugar mixture.
  12. Use a 2 ½ in. square cutter to cut out squares of marshmallows. Dust the cutter with the powdered sugar to avoid sticking.
  13. Store in an airtight container.

Graham cracker recipe adapted from the smitten kitchen.
Marshmallow recipe adapted from the food network.

Weekday Update // Currently Loving…

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  1. Tory Burch Cecile Sandal – I love the gold detail on the heel. So unique and the very walkable heel is a bonus.
  2. Uniqlo Rayon Check Shirt – Incredibly light and wrinkle resistant, which is perfect for hot and humid northeast summers. I got both the gray and the blue because they’re so versatile.
  3. DC Fix Adhesive Film in Grey Marble – 1) Marble is expensive. 2) I am not strong enough to lift and move a slab of marble every time I want to shoot photos for the blog. This faux marble sticker works well on any surface and mimics the effect wonderfully.
  4. Korres Greek Yoghurt Foaming Cream Cleanser – I have very dry skin and any cleanser that thoroughly cleanses my skin usually makes my face feel tight and dry. This is one of the few cleansers that gets rid of all traces of makeup, even stubborn eyeliner and mascara AND isn’t drying to the skin. Holy Grail status.
  5. Naps and Entrees Shaker Set – Is this not the cutest salt and pepper shaker set? Pandas are always adorable.
  6. Club Monaco Valencia Sandal – I’m in love with gingham these days and the multi-wrap ankle strap makes it slightly sexy.

 

Weekday Update // Currently Loving…

april 7 2016* I realized that one category of blog posts that I love to read are monthly/weekly favorites. I love learning about new products and finds from other people. So I decided to share some of my favorite things too.

  1. Mansur Gavriel Lady Bag – No matter how many purses I look at, I always come back to this bag. Perfect in its simplicity and shape. It’s such a shame that it goes out of stock so quickly.
  2. Zara Printed Ballerinas – Goes with everything and incredibly comfortable. It’s super light too!
  3. The Original Beauty Blender – It’s what I’m currently using to apply foundation. Fast, fool proof application every single time. Just remember to wet it thoroughly and squeeze out the excess water.
  4. B.P. Straw Boater Hat – I first saw this on Blair Eadie on her blog (I love every single outfit of hers.) and had to have it. Bonus,  it’s on sale!
  5.  Stuart Weitzman Nudist Heels – The shoe that inspired a thousand copies. I’ve looked at them all, and nothing beats the original.
  6. Gentle Monster Love Punch Sunglasses – I’ve been waiting for these to come back in stock. I love the uniqueness of the frames.

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.

 

Green Tea White Chocolate Sugar Cookies

green tea white chocolate cookiesIt’s December! I can’t believe that it’s already more than a week into December and Christmas is fast approaching. No, I haven’t done my holiday shopping yet but I can already envision the empty bank account as I think about the things I have to buy. But the Christmas tree is up and I’m glad I got that done at least.
green tea cookiesWhen December rolls around, cookies seem to be extra popular to bake. I’ve never done cookie exchanges or made cookie platters but I think it’s always fun to see people enjoy the things you make in the kitchen. These green tea white chocolate sugar cookies are extra tender and soft. The white chocolate in the batter softens the taste of green tea, which can come across as bitter to some people. But the green tea flavor is still bold and you might not even notice the white chocolate.
green tea white chocolate sugar cookiesI put a dollop of royal icing on mine, because I made a whole batch to decorate the same cookies that were cut into Christmas tree shapes. But I didn’t realize that the royal icing wouldn’t stick onto the cookies because of the coating of green tea sugar. I had to force it onto the domed cookies by squeezing it straight onto the cookie and hoping it would stay. So, if you are planning on decorating these, you can skip the green tea sugar coating (ah, but that sugar is so delicious though!!).
matcha white chocolate sugar cookies

Here are a couple of past posts for more holiday baking:
Christmas Wreath Macarons
Pomegranate Coconut Marshmallows and Coconut White Hot Chocolate
Snowball Cookies

Green Tea White Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:
¾ c. sugar, divided
½ tsp. plus 2 tbsp. matcha
2 c. flour
½ tsp. kosher salt
8 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature
½ c. brown sugar, packed
1 ½ tbsp. honey
1 large egg, room temperature
1 egg yolk
2 tsp. lemon zest
3 oz. white chocolate, melted

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk ½ c. sugar and ½ tsp. matcha together.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, salt and 2 tbsp. matcha.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, brown sugar, honey and ¼ c. sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add egg, egg yolk, and lemon zest and mix until pale.
  5. On low speed, add flour mixture and white chocolate.
  6. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  7. Preheat oven to 350˚F and scoop tablespoon sized dough onto parchment lined baking sheets. (I used a domed baking pan like the one here. I sprayed the pan with nonstick spray before putting the dough into the pan.)
  8. Bake 8-10 minutes, until the bottom and the edges are barely golden and the tops no longer look wet.
  9. Immediately, toss cookies into reserved green tea sugar gently and let cool before eating.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit.

Bacon Wrapped Enoki Mushrooms and Kabocha Squash

Bacon Wrapped Enoki Mushrooms and Kabocha Squash 2It’s officially fall. Only it’s too cold for fall. Last night it was 35 degrees outside and this morning there was a chance of snow for a couple of hours. As much as I love having four seasons, I feel like fall in New Jersey only lasts a few weeks. Whenever I’m on Pinterest or on Instagram I see posts of girls in short sweater dresses with ankle boots without tights or thick coats, I ask myself, “Just where do these girls live? And how can I get myself there?”
ingredientsAlthough it may not feel so much like fall, we can certainly eat like it is. The color orange seems to be the theme of fall food. Pumpkin, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, acorn squash… all of these have orange flesh that not only taste great but are healthy too. If you’ve never tried Kabocha squash, it also has an orange flesh but is sweeter than a butternut squash. Mix that with the salty bacon and the delicate fruitiness of the Enoki mushroom, you have a winner. I added a dash of Unagi sauce on one of them and it was the perfect touch.
kabocha squash bacon enokiIt is incredibly easy to put together and you don’t even have to put in the Kabocha squash or the Unagi sauce. It can be as easy as wrapping the mushroom with the bacon and you’ll still have a crowd-pleasing appetizer that can be made on the fly.
kabocha squash baconI probably won’t be able to write another post before Thanksgiving. So, I hope you have the happiest of Thanksgivings with your loved ones this Thursday and I’m so thankful for all of you reading this. ❤
Bacon Wrapped Enoki Mushrooms and Kabocha Squash 3

Bacon Wrapped Enoki Mushrooms and Kabocha Squash

1 – 4 oz. package of Enoki mushrooms, split into 8 bundles
4 slices of bacon, halved vertically
8 slivers of Kabocha squash, raw
salt and pepper to taste
parsley, minced, for garnish
Unagi (eel) sauce, optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375˚F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, shiny side down.
  2. Top a bundle of mushrooms with slice of squash and very lightly sprinkle salt on top of the squash.
  3. Wrap the vegetable bundle with a slice of bacon and secure with toothpick. Repeat for the rest of the bundles.
  4. Season the bundles with pepper and roast the bundles for 15-20 minutes, until the bacon is browned and crisp.
  5. Drain bundles on paper towels and if using the unagi sauce, lightly drizzle sauce before serving.
  6. Garnish with minced parsley.

Coffee Macarons

coffee macaronsWhere in the world did the time go?? It’s a week before Thanksgiving! I always feel a little overwhelmed right before the week of Thanksgiving. Not so much the day of, because by then I have already planned and prepped for the big day. But the week before, I’m trying to figure out grocery lists, what dishes to remake from last year and try for this year, and the number of people coming while doing every day things like work, house chores and errands. This is the first time I ever felt like leaving Thanksgiving dinner to someone else (that says volumes since I’ve been doing Thanksgiving dinner since I was a junior in high school).
coffee macaron shellAs children of Korean immigrants, we didn’t celebrate American holidays like my non-Asian friends. Thanksgiving was just another day off of school (which we were more than grateful for) and we would maybe have a chicken for dinner. In hindsight, we didn’t even have chicken every year. I didn’t even care about having a Thanksgiving meal with turkey until my one friend said to me, “What?? You don’t eat turkey on Thanksgiving?? No mashed potatoes? No gravy or stuffing? What about sweet potatoes with marshmallows, you must have that at least.” Mind you this was over AIM (omg remember those days?? Being on AIM was the lifeline to having a social life) and it may have sounded harsher than he intended in my mind. Either way, that night (the night before Thanksgiving) I searched high and low for a turkey recipe and in the morning, I insisted that my dad buy us a turkey. (Now that I think about it, it was a miracle in itself to have found a fresh turkey the day of Thanksgiving.) So with a fresh 12-lb. turkey with no other fixings, we made our first Thanksgiving meal. It was just salted, peppered and basted with butter and it was the most delicious turkey I’ve ever had.
coffee macaronMy meals since then have evolved and developed. We have had a variation of every side dish you can think of (mashed and roasted potatoes and vegetables, stuffing, salads, cranberry sauce, gravy, sweet potatoes, mac and cheese…). I’ve tried about every method there is to making a turkey (brined, dry-brined, roasted upside down halfway and turned over, spatchcocked, blanketed with a weave of bacon strips…) with the exception of deep frying. But nothing ever tastes as good as that first turkey I made.

keurig macaronsEither way, yes, for once in my life I feel overwhelmed with Thanksgiving. Last year, when my brother asked, “Are we having a Thanksgiving dinner with everyone?” I replied, “As long as I’m living and breathing, there is always Thanksgiving dinner.” I think I forget what we started with and it’s so easy to see the tough part of the task that it’s even easier to dismiss the highlights of the fruit of the labor. So this year, I’m so incredibly thankful for every opportunity and task that I’ve been given. Not because I’m so gung ho about the work, but because I’ve been blessed with the ability and the environment to accomplish it and that is more than enough to be thankful for.
DSC_0484*Somehow I ended up with this soliloquy about Thanksgiving. But this macaron would be the perfect ending to a meal. Thanks to the coffee emulsion (which is more potent than an extract) and a sprinkling of coffee grounds (I just opened up a fresh Keurig pod), it is bursting with coffee flavor. Also, I’m kinda macaron-ed out. Hahaha So it may be a while before you see another macaron post. But I’m looking forward to bringing different things for the blog. 🙂

Coffee Macarons

For the macaron shell:

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
fresh ground coffee (for garnish)
brown gel food coloring (for decorating the macaron)
vodka (for diluting the food coloring)

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 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. 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.
  11. Sprinkle coffee grounds on only 1/3 of the macaron shell.
  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 325-350˚F.  If your oven tends to run hot go for 325˚F, if not then 350˚F.
  14. Lower the heat to from 350˚F to 300˚F. (If starting from 325˚F, lower to 275˚F.)
  15. Bake 10-12 minutes, until the feet are formed and the tops are smooth.  The macaron shell is done when you slightly wiggle it and it starts to come off of the parchment paper / silicone mat.
  16. Remove pan from oven and reheat oven to higher temperature for 10 minutes before baking the next tray, lowering the temperature when you start baking it.
  17. Continue until you bake all of the macaron shells.
  18. Once the macarons have cooled, dilute brown food coloring in some vodka to make it paint-like.
  19. With a flat brush (food-only use), draw a thick line down the middle of the macaron.
  20. Once all the macarons have been drawn, dilute food coloring with a drop or two of vodka for a stronger color and turning the flat brush to the side, draw a thin stripe down the thick light brown stripe.
  21. Let dry and fill with coffee frosting.

For the coffee frosting:

Ingredients:
1 c. whole milk
¼ c. flour
⅛ tsp. salt
8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ c. sugar
1 – 1½ tbsp. coffee emulsion  

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 1 tbsp. coffee emulsion and mix until combined.
  8. Taste and if you want a stronger flavor, add another ½ tbsp. coffee emulsion.