Okinawan Sweet Potato Macarons

Okinawan Sweet Potato MacaronsThere isn’t much that I remember about living in Seoul, South Korea as a little girl. But one memory that lingers after all these years is how the streets were perfumed with the scent of roasted sweet potatoes in the winter. I don’t know how it is now, but back then the streets were filled with carts that sold perfectly roasted sweet potatoes. Roasted Korean sweet potatoes are very different from their American counterpart. They are insanely sweet and the flavor is chestnut-like. And unlike American sweet potatoes, they don’t get watery. Instead, they are more fibrous and hold their shape when peeled. For many years, I’ve tried to recapture that memory by roasting Korean sweet potatoes in my oven. The smell was spot on, but I couldn’t get that same roasted taste that I remembered.
Okinawan Sweet Potato MacaronsThere is a Korean market that I stop by for snacks when I’m at my local Laundromat. If you stop by in the colder months, there is a small machine that churns out roasted sweet potatoes and the whole store smells has that warm roasty toasty smell. Anyways, after having one that was properly roasted, I became obsessed with trying to recreate it at home and scoured the internet on how to do it. I finally came upon a blog that featured this pot and after finding it in a Korean supermarket (It’s so much cheaper. I got it for less than $20 because it was on sale), I gave it a try and I finally reached sweet potato nirvana. Tip: The instructions say to roast on medium heat for 20-30 minutes but I found that roasting for about an hour on low heat produces the best results.
Okinawan Sweet Potato MacaronsArmed with my new roasting pot, I wanted to feature sweet potatoes differently and made these macarons. Purple sweet potatoes are just as sweet but not as flavorful as their yellow cousins. However, I couldn’t resist their beautiful purple flesh. I suppose I could’ve made the frosting a vibrant purple by adding a little food dye, but I wanted you to be able to see what it would look like without it. The best part about the frosting is that it takes just one stick of butter and about ¾ cup of powdered sugar (which just might be perfect for filling cakes for babies since you are using minimal sugar).
Okinawan Sweet Potato MacaronsCan you tell that I originally made these for Valentine’s Day? The purple ombre effect is easy to achieve by using an edible food color spray can. They’re easy enough to find on amazon. You want to be careful to be light handed or you will end up spraying the entire macaron purple. This is especially true if your spray can is new. There are so many options out there, I feel like you have a rainbow at your fingertips and it’s an easy way to spruce up a plain macaron.
Okinawan Sweet Potato MacaronsEven if you don’t decorate it, they’re definitely worth giving a try and best eaten within two days. Since the frosting has low butter/sugar content, it will turn your macarons soggy as the days go by.

Okinawan Sweet Potato Macarons

For the macaron shells:

Ingredients:
212 g. almond meal
212 g. powdered sugar
172 g. egg whites, divided to 82 g. and 90 g
236 g. sugar
158 g. water
purple edible spray paint
heart sprinkles
white pearl sprinkles

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 degrees, 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 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 twice until the mixture “flows like magma”.  The mixture should be smooth and run thick ribbons off the spatula.
  9. Fill batter in a pastry bag fitted with a ½ in. plain tip.
  10. The piped batter may have peaks but should smooth away in a minute or two. Sprinkle the top of the macaron batter with the pearl and heart sprinkles. Let the batter stand until the tops of the macaron batter are dry to the touch, about 30 mins to 1 hour.
  11. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
  12. Once you place the macarons in the oven, reduce the heat to 300˚F. Bake 10-13 minutes, until the feet are formed and the tops are smooth.  The macarons are done when you slightly wiggle them and they start to come off of the parchment paper / silicone mat.
  13. Once you remove the macarons, reheat the oven to 350˚F for ten minutes before baking another pan of macarons at 300˚F.
  14. Once the shells are cool, spray one side of the macarons lightly about 7 inches away from the surface. Fill with frosting.

Okinawan Sweet Potato Frosting

Ingredients:
1 ½ lb Okinawan sweet potatoes, roasted (about 3 medium potatoes)
4 oz. (one stick) unsalted butter
¾ – 1 c. powdered sugar

Instructions:

  1. Peel the outer skin of the sweet potatoes and put them the food processor.
  2. Puree the sweet potatoes until very smooth and silky. Set aside.
  3. In a bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the butter until light and fluffy.
  4. Add in ¾ c. of the powdered sugar and the sweet potato puree and whip until a smooth frosting forms. If not sweet enough, add the remaining ¼ c. powdered sugar and whip until smooth. Fill the macarons.

Grapefruit Pavlova with Grapefruit Mousse

Grapefruit Pavlova with Grapefruit MousseI’m feeling the post-holiday blues. I can’t motivate myself to go to the gym. I don’t want to leave the house and face the cold. Now that I finally put the Christmas tree away, there is a sizeable vacant spot in my apartment. The cats loved to spend time on the tree skirt and when it was gone, they sat on the bare floor with a confused look wondering why their butts were so cold. In my heart, I know that this is just one step towards warmer weather and one month closer to Disney World/Universal. (I’m going in May! I’ve never been! I’m excited to wear the Minnie headband, eat a dole whip, take a photo in front of the castle, have all the butterbeer, and visit Hogwarts.) But that seems forever away. Bah humbug.
Grapefruit MousseThere is something about the bright hues of citruses that lifts the spirits. Are there any types of fruit that are more refreshing? I think it’s ironic that they are at their peak season when the weather is so cold. I crave citrus fruits the most in the summer when the weather is hot and humid. The sharp acidity and mellow sweetness is the perfect answer to beat the weather. But I can’t argue that they’re the juiciest during the winter and I wanted to make the most of it when I saw the recipe for a grapefruit mousse in a magazine.
baked pavlovaGrapefruit MousseThe truth is whipped cream and any type of fruit will guarantee you a win and this recipe doesn’t disappoint. The lightly sweetened whipped cream goes well with the tart juiciness of the grapefruit. I love the contrast of the dark pink against the white.
Grapefruit PavlovaAs for the meringues, I took a cue from use real butter, and boiled down the grapefruit juice until it became syrupy. Then I brushed the syrup onto the baked meringues and let them sit in warm oven until completely dry. This way you get sparks of citrusy tartness with each bite of the sweet meringue. It’s delightful.
Grapefruit Pavlova with Grapefruit MousseLooking back on the pictures makes my heart a little lighter. After all, how can we enjoy the warmth without having braved the cold? (Meh. In hindsight, I still think I could go without the cold, but I definitely appreciate it more after winter.)Grapefruit Mousse

Grapefruit Pavlova with Grapefruit Mousse
Makes about 6-8 mini pavlovas

For the Grapefruit Pavlova:

Ingredients:

300 g. superfine sugar
150 g. egg whites, room temperature
1 pinch cream of tartar
3 large grapefruit
1 tbsp. sugar
grapefruit mousse
mint, for garnish (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Spread sugar in an even layer over parchment.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the egg whites and the cream of tartar.
  4. Place sugar into the oven and bake until the edges of the sugar begins to melt but not brown, about 5 minutes.
  5. Once the sugar begins to melt, turn the mixer onto high.
  6. Remove baking sheet from the oven and the eggs whites should be foamy.
  7. Turn the mixer to medium high and slowly pour the hot sugar from the parchment paper into egg whites.
  8. Once all the sugar is added, turn the mixer onto high and mix until stiff, shiny peaks form.
  9. Reduce oven to lowest setting 140˚F.
  10. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. With a pencil, draw 4 inch circles on the parchment paper, leaving a 1 inch border on each side. Flip the parchment paper over. The circles will be your guide lines for the meringues.
  11. Fit a medium open star piping tip into a piping bag and pipe little meringue cups starting from the center onto the edge of the circle. Once you get to the edge of the drawn circle, pipe one more layer of meringue on the outer edge, forming a bowl shape.
  12. Once you piped all the meringues, take a spoon and make an indentation in the center of each circle, deepening the bow.
  13. Bake the baking sheet with the 4-inch circles for 1- 1.5 hours until they are crisp and sound hollow when tapped.
  14. While the meringue is baking, peel and section the grapefruit.
  15. Reserve the sectioned grapefruit for the grapefruit mousse.
  16. Squeeze the juice of the remaining grapefruit husk to get approximately 1 cup of grapefruit juice.
  17. In a small pot on medium heat, simmer the grapefruit juice until about ¼ cup of the grapefruit juice remains. Set aside.
  18. Remove the baked meringues from the oven and using a basting brush, brush specks of grapefruit concentrate all over the meringues making sure not to over saturate the meringues (as in, do not paint it too generously or you it will lose its crispness).
  19. Place the meringues back into the oven.
  20. Turn off the oven and let it dry out for about an hour until the grapefruit concentrate is dried onto the meringue.
  21. If you are not yet ready to decorate the meringues, places the meringues into a zip lock bag until ready for use.
  22. If you are ready to fill the meringues, use a medium or large disher to scoop out round mounds of the grapefruit mousse into the meringue cups.
  23. Garnish with the smallest mint leaves if desired.

Grapefruit Mousse

Ingredients:

Sectioned grapefruit reserved from the grapefruit pavlova (above)
3 tbsp. turbinado sugar
1 c. cold heavy cream
1 tbsp. confectioner’s sugar
Instructions:

  1. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Line the sectioned grapefruit on the parchment paper in rows.
  2. Take a paper towel and dab the grapefruit to get rid of excess juices.
  3. Sprinkle turbinado sugar on the grapefruit.
  4. Take a kitchen torch and caramelize the sugar on each grapefruit section. (Alternatively, you can broil the grapefruit for 5 minutes in the oven.)
  5. Whip the heavy cream and sugar together until you reach firm peaks.
  6. Fold in the caramelized grapefruit.

Grapefruit meringue recipe adapted from Use Real Butter.
Grapefruit mousse recipe adapted from The Family Circle.

2016: A Year Recap

This was my #1 post this year.
This was my #1 post this year.

I’m not sorry to see 2016 go. I kind of felt like it could be salvaged until Carrie Fisher died. That kind of gave it the nail in the coffin. It was as if 2016 was saying, “Sayonara, sucker!” while waving a rude gesture. I’m not quite looking forward to 2017 either, the exception being that I am looking forward to creating more projects for you and sharing this and that about my life (hopefully good news, and not bad). By the way, I did finish the holiday cake I was raving about in my last post. Unfortunately, I came down with a severe case of sinusitis and I couldn’t work on the actual post. I think I will save it for 2017. (Side note: I hope unicorns are still relevant by this point next year.)

top posts 2016

Here are the top 10 posts from this year:

  1. Lucky Charms Cake (featured in beginning of post)
  2. Blueberry Cruffins (Croissant + Muffin)
  3. Paw Patrol Cake
  4. Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf with Brown Sugar Ketchup Glaze
  5. Red Velvet Rose Pavlova
  6. Strawberry Ombre Cake
  7. Conversation Heart Macarons with Vanilla Elderflower Frosting
  8. Croquembouche with Vanilla Orange Blossom Pastry Cream
  9. Star Wars Mini Doughnuts – Part 1 & 2
  10. Calcifer Meringues

As always, thank you for sticking with me. I mean every word of it.

Gold Pineapple Cake with (Real) Pineapple Buttercream

gold pineappleThis year of blogging seems to be a year of making things that are out of my comfort zone, like the blueberry cruffins or the croquembouche. I used to steer away from projects that looked too difficult or time consuming, but this year I feel like the challenge just spurs me on. When I first saw this gold pineapple cake from adorn cakes, I thought it would be just something I would bookmark and never look back on. But when someone special to you loves pineapples, you make the prettiest pineapple cake that you can. (Seriously, he loves pineapples. One of the first things he ever said to me was, ” I love pineapples.” Kinda strange, I know.)
gold gum paste leavespineapple leavesI would gladly sit here and name off all the steps on the how-to on making this cake, but Aleta already did such a great job, that I’m just going to share the links with you.
YouTube link on how to build the outside of the cake.
Facebook link on how she made the top of the pineapple.gold leavestiny cakeHere are some things I’ve noted while making this cake:

  1. It is time consuming. You need at least two days for this project. You will need one full day to shape, cut, wire, dry out and paint the leaves. It is probably a safe bet to bake the cake the day before too.
  2. Aleta uses modeling chocolate for her cake and so I ordered some. I’ve never worked with modeling chocolate before, and now I understand that it is a very soft medium. If I were to ever tackle this project again, I would use 50% (maybe even 25%) modeling chocolate and the rest fondant.
  3. I made a very small cake. A cake size that I usually use to make smash cakes and I nearly used the entire 2 g. jar of gold powder.
  4. A manicure scissor is really useful for cutting the tiny triangles on the cake.
  5. If you don’t have the green molding tool that is used on the video, just take your bladed molding tool and make three small lines in each pineapple diamond. It will mimic the effect pretty well

modeling chocolate cakegolden pineappleYes, the outside of the cake is important but what about the inside? I couldn’t have a pineapple cake that didn’t have a pineapple filling, so I filled it with a pineapple frosting. I’m a firm believer in using real fruit in all of my fruit flavored frosting so, the pineapple was a challenge. As you know, pineapples are juicy and I could not risk a runny frosting for a cake that required a lot of time sitting at room temperature. So, I solved my problem by using freeze dried pineapples.
golden pineapple cakegold pineappleFreeze dried fruit is an ingenious way to incorporate real fruit into your frosting without increasing the liquid content. I ordered my bag off of amazon and used the whole thing for the 4 inch cake. The resulting frosting had a pineapple tang and complemented the vanilla cake well. It was an expensive cake to make with the modeling chocolate, pineapples, gumpaste, and some extra tools I needed to buy, but well worth the effort. I mean look at it, it’s SO. GOLD.
gold pineapple fondant cakeReal Pineapple Buttercream
For a 4-in. cake

Ingredients:

¼ c. sugar
1 large egg white
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
1.5 oz. freeze dried pineapple

Instructions:

  1. Put dried pineapple chunks into a dry blender, and blend until a very fine powder forms. Set aside.
  2. Bring a small pot filled with about 1 inch of water to a simmer.
  3. Whisk egg white and sugar together in the bowl of your standing mixer.
  4. Place the bowl on top of the small pot and continue whisking the egg whites until you cannot feel the granules between your fingers.
  5. Move the bowl to the standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip until the mixture becomes fluffy and doubles in size.
  6. Add the butter and continue whipping until a smooth buttercream forms.
  7. Add in ¾ of the pineapple powder and mix until well combined.
  8. Taste and add the rest of the powder if desired.

Buttercream recipe adapted from smitten kitchen.

Paw Patrol Cake (A How-To Guide)

paw patrol cakeI rarely ever take cake orders in the summer, not since the cake fiasco of 2015. On a hot summer day, I made a two-tiered cake with an assortment of fondant animals that took hours to create. It was too large to refrigerate so we had it sitting at room temperature until it was ready to be delivered. Right when we were about to move it, there was a strange buckling around the edge of the cake. We kept calm and moved it to the car, which even after having the AC on for 30 minutes was not cool, but warm. During the 30-minute ride to our destination, the buckling worsened and the fondant pieces started to warp with the frosting. By the time we got there, the cake looked like the Michelin Man’s arm. It sucked that all my hours of work went down the drain, but it was even worse that I ruined someone’s event. That’s the thing about cakes; they are usually the centerpieces of celebrations and can make or break a party. Since then, I’ve turned down any requests for a cake in the summer. Not because I didn’t want to do it, but more so because I was worried about ruining someone else’s big day.
paw patrol cakeWhen my sister approached me about making a cake, my gut reaction was, “No.” After hearing my reasons, she said that it didn’t matter if the cake was perfect and that her friends were just grateful that I would do it. Knowing that perfection wasn’t what they were after took a load off my back, but that didn’t mean that I would try any less.
how to make paw patrol logoThere is a very popular Pinterest picture of a dog bone shaped Paw Patrol cake (this was the photo I was asked to recreate), but it has no information on the dimensions and how to put it together. And after scouring the internet for information, I decided to make a guide on how to put a cake like this together. Like many of my projects, it is not very difficult, but it is time consuming. I think the overall effect is worth it and even more worth it to see the smiles on kids’ faces.
how to make a paw patrol cakeInstead of using fondant for all of the Paw Patrol logo, I used Wilton’s sugar sheets. It is much more stable for hot and humid weather and it’s great for crisp edges. It is important to have a fresh Xacto knife blade. You want the edges to be super crisp. Almost like you printed the logo onto the cake. I did make a fondant base for the logo so that the logo would not be flat against the cake like paper. Other than that, it’s making a lot of paw prints, which looks simple but it ends up taking more time than anticipated because for every paw print there are 4 parts to be made. This cake has approximately 50 paw prints.
paw patrol cake The most difficult part about the cake part is covering the cake with frosting. There are many circles and lines and it took a while to get the crisp edges. But then again, it might be because I’m a novice at frosting untraditional cake shapes. I’m not complaining, it’s always fun to stretch beyond my comfort zone and try new things.

Paw Patrol Cake

For the Paw Patrol Logo:

You will need:

white fondant
wilton’s sugar sheets in white, red, blue, yellow and silver
silver pearl dust
xacto knife
scissors
water
vodka
small paintbrush (food use only)
paw patrol logo, cut out of paper
paw patrol outer stencil, cut out of paper
paw patrol inner stencil, cut out of paper

Instructions,

  1. Roll out the fondant to ¼ inch thickness and place the paw patrol outer stencil on top of it. Using the xacto knife, cut out the fondant to the shape of the shield. (As shown in picture #1)
  2. Place the outer stencil on top of a silver sugar sheet and cut out a piece of the sugar sheet large enough for the stencil. Peel off the plastic backing. Cut out the shape of the outer stencil with the xacto knife. (As shown in picture #2)
  3. Using the paintbrush, paint a small amount of water on top of the white fondant and stick the silver sugar sheet cutout on top of it. (As shown in picture #3)
  4. Place the inner stencil on top of a red sugar sheet and cut out a piece of the sugar sheet large enough for the stencil. Peel off the plastic backing, Cut out the shape of the inner stencil with the xacto knife. (As shown in picture #4)
  5. Using the paintbrush, paint a small amount of water on top of the silver sugar sheet and stick the red sugar sheet cutout on top of it. (As shown in picture #5)
  6. Cut out the “PAW” from the paw patrol logo, remembering to keep the yellow border. (As shown in picture #6)
  7. Place the “PAW” letters on top of a yellow sugar sheet and cut out a piece of the sugar sheet large enough for the letters. Peel off the plastic backing. Cut out the “PAW” with the xacto knife. (As shown in picture #7)
  8. Cut out the yellow border of the “PAW” from the paw patrol logo.
  9. Place the “PAW” letters on top of a blue sugar sheet and cut out a piece of the sugar sheet large enough for the letters. Peel off the plastic backing. Cut out the “PAW” with the xacto knife.
  10. Using the paintbrush, paint a small amount of water on the back of the blue “PAW” and stick it onto the yellow “PAW”. (As shown in picture #8)
  11. Cut out the white paw in the middle of the “A” from the paw patrol logo.
  12. Place the paw print on top of a white sugar sheet and cut out a piece of the sugar sheet large enough for the paw print. Peel off the plastic backing. Cut out the paw print with the xacto knife.
  13. Using the paintbrush, paint a small amount of water on the back of the paw print and stick it onto the middle of the “A”. (As shown in picture #8)
  14. Cut out the white bone from the paw patrol logo.
  15. Place the bone on top of a white sugar sheet and cut out a piece of the sugar sheet large enough for the bone. Peel off the plastic backing. Cut out the bone with the xacto knife.
  16. Place the bone on top of a blue sugar sheet and cut out a piece of the sugar sheet large enough for the bone. Peel off the plastic backing. Cut out the “PATROL” letters with the xacto knife.
  17. Using the paintbrush, paint a small amount of water on the back of the blue letters and stick it onto the white bone. (As shown in picture #9)
  18. Center the “PAW” onto the shield and make sure you know where you want to place it before painting a small amount of water on the back of the letters to place it onto the shield. (As shown in picture #10)
  19. Center the white patrol bone under the “PAW” and make sure you know where you want to place it before painting a small amount of water on the back of the bone to place it onto the shield. (As shown in picture #10)
  20. Mix a small amount of vodka with the silver dust to create a thick silver paint. Brush the silver on the silver shield border to give it a metallic look. Let dry. (As shown in picture #11)

For the Bone Shaped Cake

You will need:

2 batches of vanilla buttermilk cake (recipe below)
1 batch of chocolate frosting (recipe below)
1 batch of vanilla swiss meringue frosting (recipe below)
fondant paw prints (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Cut all the 6-inch cake layers in half. Cut one of the halves into quarters.
  2. Cut a 2 inch strip from both of the 9×13 cake layers. You want to cut the width side of the cake (the long side, not the short side). You will be left with two 7×13 cake layers.
  3. Center one 7×13 cake layer on top of a sheet cake sized cake board. (As shown in picture #1)
  4. Use ¾ of each 6-inch cake layer on three corners to form the circular part of the dog bone. Use three ¼ sections left from the 6-inch cake layer to form the fourth corner of the dogbone. (As shown in picture #1)
  5. Spread a generous layer of the chocolate frosting.
  6. Repeat the same method to the second layer of the cake. (As shown in picture #2)
  7. Crumb coat with the remaining chocolate frosting, remembering to fill in any gaps between the 7×13 cake layer and the 6-inch cake layers. (As shown in picture #3)
  8. Let the cake set in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
  9. Remove the cake from the freezer and spread one layer of the vanilla frosting. Trying to cover up the chocolate as well as you can.
  10. Let the cake set in freezer for about 10 minutes.
  11. Remove the cake from the freezer and smooth on the second layer of vanilla frosting. Try to make it as smooth as you possibly can. This will be your final layer. (As shown in picture #4)
  12. Place the Paw Patrol logo in the center. If you made fondant paw prints, now is the time to place it on the cake. (As shown in picture #5)

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake
(This will make three 6-inch round layers and one 9×13 layer. You will need two batches of this.)

Ingredients:

450 g. cake flour
500 g. sugar
1 tbsp + 1 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. kosher salt
5 whole eggs, room temperature
3 egg yolks, room temperature
1 ¼  + ⅓ c. buttermilk, room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 ¼ c. (two and a half sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare one 9×13 baking pan and three 6-inch round cake pans for baking by spraying them with nonstick spray and lining the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and kosher salt on low speed.
  3. Add in the butter and 1 ¼ c. buttermilk into the flour mixture on low speed. Scrape down the side of the bowl.
  4. In a large cup with a spout, mix the eggs, egg yolks, ⅓ buttermilk and vanilla extract with a whisk. Slowly add the egg mixture into the flour mixture.
  5. Scrape down the side of the bowl and mix on low speed again until well combined.
  6. Divide the batter evenly amongst the four pans, making sure that the three 6-in pans are even.
  7. Bake about 15-20 minutes until cake is golden brown or a toothpick inserted comes out clean. The 6-inch cake pans and the 9×13 pan will have different cook times. Make sure you check both to make sure one doesn’t overbake.

Chocolate Frosting

Ingredients:
9 oz. good quality dark chocolate, melted and cooled (The darker the better. Emphasis on good quality.)
400 g. confectioner’s sugar
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ tsp. kosher salt
½ c. heavy cream
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Place all the ingredients in the food processor and pulse a few times before processing it until the frosting is smooth.
  2. Put the whole bowl in the freezer until the frosting sets. Similar to a ganache, the frosting will become more firm and easier to handle after about 10-15 minutes in the freezer.

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Ingredients:
400 g. sugar
8 large egg whites
3 ¼ c. (6 ½ sticks) unsalted butter
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. kosher salt

Instructions:

  1. Bring a small pot filled with about an inch of water to a simmer.
  2. In a bowl of a standing mixer, whisk the egg whites, sugar, and salt together.
  3. Place the bowl on top of the pot and whisk continuously until the mixture becomes slightly foamy and you cannot feel the grittiness of the sugar, about 5-8 minutes. The mixture will be hot. Be careful.
  4. Move the bowl to the standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip the egg mixture until the bowl feels cool to the touch.
  5. Add in the butter, and continue to whip until a smooth buttercream forms.
  6. Add in the vanilla extract and continue to whip until incorporated.

Cake and chocolate frosting adapted from sweetapolita.
Swiss meringue frosting adapted from the smitten kitchen.

Giant Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

Giant Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich CakeYou guys, I’m obsessed with the tv show, ”Girls”. That is the reason why this post is so late. All of my free time has been going to binge watching this show. If you’ve never watched it, I would describe it as “Friends” and “Sex and the City” put together except it doesn’t have the laugh track and is somehow more real and dark and relatable and freaking awesome. Before the show, I always wondered why they casted Adam Driver as Kylo Ren in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”. But after watching this show, I realized that the man can act. I love his character, Adam, in “Girls” because he’s SO weird and so honest. I always find weird people fascinating, and this is probably why he is so intriguing to me.
Giant Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich CakeI originally wanted to post this before Memorial Day because to me, Memorial Day is the green light of the year to start eating ice cream again. I know, I know… True die-hard fans of ice cream always say that you can have ice cream any day of the year, but when I’m freezing and my fingertips feel like ice, ingesting something that is as just cold is unpleasant to me. But Memorial Day has now passed and this needs to be shared with the internet community as soon as possible.
Giant Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich CakeMacaron ice cream sandwiches are just like regular ice cream sandwiches but instead of cookies, you use macaron shells. Since my sister’s birthday was coming up, and she loves ice cream, coffee and only the shells of macarons (not so much the filling, which I never understood) I figured that this was the perfect cake for her. Filled with layers of homemade crunchies, Ben and Jerry’s coffee coffee buzz buzz buzz (my sister’s favorite ice cream), and layered with two giant macaron shells, it’s chocolaty, cold, and smooth with crunchy and chewy textural differences from the macaron shells and the crunchies.
Giant Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich CakeI did make a pattern for the top macaron shell by drawing streaks of gel food coloring on the inside of my piping bag, but it’s not necessary for the cake. Basically, if you made macaron shells before, it’s pretty much the same thing except that you are making two giant shells. You will have leftover batter which you can use to make regular sized macaron shells. You should also take caution and remember that the batter will spread a bit. I didn’t think of this possibility, which made my macaron shells a little larger than I wanted, but in hindsight, it gave me enough room to cover the outside with cool whip, which helped give it a super smooth outside and keep the ice cream from leaking and hold its shape.
Giant Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich CakeIt is so worth the time. If you like macarons and ice cream, this is the cake for you. The best part? You can totally customize this by coloring the macaron shell and changing up the ice cream flavors.
Giant Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich CakeNot really feeling this ice cream cake? Here are some of my previous ice cream cake recipes:

The Ultimate Oreo Ice Cream Cake with Homemade Crunchies
Tiramisu Crunch Ice Cream Cake

Giant Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

You will need:

Two 8-inch macaron shells (recipe below)
4 pints of Ben and Jerry’s coffee coffee buzz buzz buzz, softened
1 batch of homemade crunchies (recipe below)
cool whip

Instructions

  1. Try to prep the ice cream cake a day before you want to serve it. You want the ice cream layer to be as firm as possible.
  2. In an 8-inch cake pan with high sides (at least 3-inches), use plastic wrap to line the bottom and the sides, letting it overhang over the pan.
  3. Spread a third of the homemade crunchies on the bottom, then layer 2 pints of the ice cream on top.
  4. Layer another third of the crunchies on top of the ice cream, and then layer the other 2 pints of ice cream, finally topping the top with the last third of the crunchies.
  5. Wrap the cling film over the top of the ice cream cake and place in the freezer. Freeze until firm, preferably overnight.
  6. When you are ready to assemble your ice cream cake, place one macaron shell, flat-side facing up on a cake stand.
  7. Remove the cake pan from the freezer and slide the ice cream layer out and place it on top of the macaron shell.
  8. Place the other macaron shell, domed side facing up on top of the ice cream layer.
  9. Use the cool whip around the ice cream layer to smooth the cake trying not to get it on the macaron shell. You want it to have smooth sides and look like an even ice cream sandwich.
  10. Place back in the freezer for at least two hours, or until cool whip is firm to the touch.
  11. The colder the ice cream cake is, the cleaner the cuts you will make.

Giant Macaron Shells

Ingredients:
212 g. almond meal
212 g. powdered sugar
172 g. egg whites, divided to 82 g. and 90 g
236 g. sugar
158 g. water
brown food color

Instructions:

  1. On a parchment paper that is the size of a baking sheet, draw an 8 inch circle with a pencil. Repeat with another parchment paper.
  2. Line two baking sheets with the parchment paper, pencil side down.
  3. In the bowl of a food processor, add the almond meal and powdered sugar and pulse until thoroughly combined.
  4. 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.
  5. Add the brown food coloring to the almond paste to get the color you desire.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Once the syrup reaches 248 degrees, 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.
  9. Once the egg whites are fully incorporated, increase the speed to medium high until egg whites form glossy, stiff peaks
  10. 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.
  11. In a pastry bag fitted with the largest plain piping tip that you have, paint about 8 vertical lines along the inside of the piping bag using a clean food-use-only paintbrush and the brown food gel color.
  12. Fill the piping bag with the macaron batter.
  13. Pipe the batter onto the parchment paper in a tight spiral pattern until you get to the edge of the 8-inch circle that you drew. You should have a concentric circle pattern of brown circles. Take a toothpick and draw lines into the center through the brown circles to create a pattern. This will be the top macaron shell.
  14. Fill the piping bag with more batter and pipe another large circle. There may or may not be a pattern here because you already piped out the first circle. If there isn’t, there is no need to stress because this will be the bottom shell.
  15. If there is leftover batter, feel free to pipe out some normal sized macarons for later use.
  16. The piped batter may have peaks but should smooth away in a minute or two.  Let the batter stand until the tops of the macaron batter are dry to the touch, about 30 mins to 1 hour.
  17. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
  18. Once you place the macarons in the oven, reduce the heat to 275˚F. Bake 15-18 minutes for the large shells, 10-13 for the small shells, until the feet are formed and the tops are smooth.
  19. Once you remove the macarons, reheat the oven to 350˚F for ten minutes before baking another pan of macarons at 275˚F.
  20. Let cool and fill.

Homemade Crunchies

Ingredients:
30 Oreo cookies
1 – 7.25 oz. bottle of Magic Shell ice cream topping

Instructions:

  1. Using a food processor, Crush Oreos into even crumbs.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix cookie crumbs and ice cream topping until each crumb is well coated.
  3. Reserve for later use.

*Homemade crunchies recipe from Our Best Bites.

Jackson Pollock Macarons

Jackson Pollock MacaronsThere is a store called “Marbles: The Brain Store” in my local mall. As the name suggests, the store mainly sells puzzles and games that exercise your brain. I ended up stopping by a few years ago with my friends and while we were browsing, we noticed a display of various puzzles. When one of us picked up a jigsaw puzzle of Jackson Pollock’s Convergence, a store clerk leaned over to us and commented, “I’ve never seen anyone complete it.” Of course after a comment like that, we HAD to take it home and try to solve it. A few years later, it’s still incomplete and sitting in my room.Jackson Pollock MacaronsJackson Pollock MacaronsThese macarons are inspired by my incomplete puzzle. I’ve done paint strokes on my macarons before and the difference between the strokes and the splatters is the amount of liquid you add to the food coloring. In order to make your splatters look imperfect and messy, you need to dilute your gel food coloring with a generous dose of vodka.Jackson Pollock MacaronsJackson Pollock Macarons Jackson Pollock Macarons Jackson Pollock MacaronsJackson Pollock Macarons Jackson Pollock MacaronsI’ve done the splatters two ways, and I believe it works the best when you arrange your macarons side by side as if you’re creating a blank canvas for a painting. If you leave the gaps in between the macarons like my first try, you’ll miss the trail of paint that makes it look so convincing and similar to Pollock’s work. I absolutely love the effect that it makes. Try to get a small bit of each color on every macaron so that when you get the full effect for each macaron.
Jackson Pollock MacaronsJackson Pollock MacaronsAs fun as it is to splatter food coloring everywhere, I will leave you with a word of warning. The food coloring will get everywhere. It will get on your counter, on your clothes, and on your skin. My best advice is to lay a layer of paper towels on your work surface and wear an apron before you start. Now go satisfy your inner artist and have fun.Jackson Pollock MacaronsJackson Pollock Macarons

Jackson Pollock Macarons

You will need:

1 batch of vanilla macarons (recipe below)
1 batch vanilla frosting (recipe below)
red gel food coloring
yellow gel food coloring
blue gel food coloring
black gel food coloring
vodka

Instructions:

  1. Cover your work surface with a layer of paper towels.
  2. Arrange your unfilled macaron shells closely in a square/rectangular shape.
  3. In four plastic cups, place a few drops of gel food coloring in each cup.
  4. Dilute each color with a tablespoon of vodka and mix until your desired color is reached.
  5. Using a clean, food use only paint brush, saturate your brush with the yellow paint and use a flicking motion with your wrist to create a splatter pattern on your macarons.
  6. Once done, thoroughly clean your brush with water and dry as well as you can with a paper towel before repeating step 5 with a different color.
  7. Let macarons dry completely before filling and sandwiching them with your vanilla frosting.

Vanilla Macarons

Ingredients:

212 g. almond meal
212 g. powdered sugar
172 g. egg whites, divided to 82 g. and 90 g
236 g. sugar
158 g. water

Instructions:

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, add the almond meal 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 degrees, 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.  Let the batter stand until the tops of the macaron batter are dry to the touch, about 30 mins to 1 hour.
  11. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
  12. Once you place the macarons in the oven, reduce the heat to 275˚F. Bake 10-13 minutes, until the feet are formed and the tops are smooth.  The macarons are done when you slightly wiggle them and they start to come off of the parchment paper / silicone mat.
  13. Once you remove the macarons, reheat the oven to 350˚F for ten minutes before baking another pan of macarons at 275˚F.
  14. Let cool and fill.

Vanilla Frosting

Ingredients:

1 c. whole milk
¼ c. flour
a pinch of salt
8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. 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.

 

 

Croquembouche with Vanilla Orange Blossom Pastry Cream

Croquembouche with Vanilla Orange Blossom Pastry CreamThere are a few things every experienced baker thinks of trying in their lifetime. They are recipes that are known to be notoriously finicky and difficult, usually French. The kind of desserts you buy at the bakery because it’s not worth the trouble making in your own kitchen. One of these recipes is the croquembouche. In fact, if you google “difficult desserts to make”, the croquembouche makes the list almost every time.
pate a choux cream puffsSo what is a croquembouche? I would describe it as a tower of caramelized cream puffs, held together only by caramel and covered by delicate sugar threads. It’s definitely looks impressive and I can see why some people would choose one over a traditional wedding cake. Plus, that crunch of the caramel over the cream puff is really delicious. Almost like a crème brûlée wrapped up in a cream puff.
ombre cream puffsThis was a trial run that I did before a friend’s bridal shower and I learned that it takes a lot of time if you try to do it all in one day. What I did learn was that it’s not very difficult if you divide the work between three days. If you make the pastry cream two days before, and bake the cream puffs the day before and fill, dip and assemble it the day of, it is quite manageable in a decent amount of time. Here are my thoughts on the process:
croqeumbouche1) I think the most difficult/scary part of making this is the hot caramel. I am not embarrassed to admit that I burned my fingers a few times while making this. Have a bowl of ice water on hand just in case you do burn yourself. Your gut reaction may be to put the finger in your mouth to cool it (at least mine was), but that will not help the burn. Take your time when dipping the creampuff into the caramel, and if the cream puff gets stuck in the sugar, then use a spoon to fish it out. DO NOT attempt to take it out using your fingers. This is not something that can be done in a hurry, so make sure you have plenty of time before doing this step.
croqeumbouche2) No matter how carefully and evenly you try to pipe the pâte à choux (the cream puff batter), you will end up with unique looking cream puffs. At first, you may be disappointed, but the funny shapes come in handy later on when you’re assembling the croquembouche. It becomes kind of like a game of Tetris, where you try to find that perfect piece to fit that nook.
croqeumbouche3) The most fun part is making the sugar threads. When the caramel is somewhat cool, you take your fork and spin it around the croquembouche making a fine web of sugar strings. It makes you feel like a spider and you can do as much or as little as you like.
croqeumbouche4) I tried to put fondant flowers on it and realized it was not worth it. The fine sugar threads harden as soon as they touch the cream puffs and there is no way for the fondant to stick to it. I just wedged it in between the gaps that were created. I wouldn’t recommend trying it. It wasn’t worth the work.

Croquembouche with Vanilla Orange Blossom Pastry Cream
Makes 1 medium-sized croquembouche

For the pâte à choux:

Ingredients:
1 c. water
4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter
½ tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. granulated sugar
1 c. all-purpose flour
4-5 large eggs, plus an extra egg for the egg wash

Instructions:

  1. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 425˚F.
  2. In a large saucepan, bring the water, butter, salt, and sugar to a boil.
  3. Once the mixture reaches a boil, remove pan from heat and dump in flour at once and quickly stir with a wooden spoon.
  4. Once all the flour is incorporated, return the pan to the heat and cook the mixture for 30-60 seconds by continuing to stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until a thin film forms on the bottom of the pan.
  5. Move the dough into a mixing bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix for about 1-3 minutes until the dough is cool enough for you to stick your finger in. After that point, add 4 eggs, one at a time until incorporated. If the dough does not fall off the paddle in a “V” shape, add the fifth egg.
  6. In a pastry bag fitted with a large plain piping tip, pipe 1 inch circles of dough.
  7. In a separate bowl, make an egg wash by mixing 1 egg and 1 ½ tsp. water with a fork until well mixed.
  8. Use a pastry brush and lightly brush dough with your egg wash, brushing down any peaks you may have formed when you piped out the dough.
  9. Bake your cream puffs one baking sheet at a time in the center rack of your oven. Bake for 7 minutes and reduce the heat to 375˚F and bake for 10 minutes until golden brown.
  10. As soon as they come out of the oven, poke holes in each puff with a toothpick to release trapped steam.
  11. Once cool, use a small star pastry tip to make holes on the bottom of all the puffs

For the vanilla orange blossom pastry cream:

Ingredients:

4 c. whole milk
1 c. granulated sugar, divided
3 egg yolks
2 large eggs
½ c. corn starch
1 pinch of salt
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. orange blossom water

Instructions:

  1. In a large saucepan, bring milk and ½ c. sugar to a boil.
  2. While the milk is heating, whisk egg yolks, eggs, ½ c. sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
  3. When the milk boils, slowly add milk to the egg mixture while whisking, one ladleful at a time.
  4. Once half of the milk mixture is added, add the egg mixture back into the milk mixture.
  5. Continuously whisk the mixture over medium heat until the cream thickens.
  6. Once thickened, take the mixture off the heat and mix in the butter until completely incorporated.
  7. Stir in the vanilla extract and orange blossom water.
  8. Strain the mixture through a sieve and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until ready for use.

For the caramel:

Ingredients:

2 ½ c. granulated sugar
2 tbsp. light corn syrup
½ c. water

Instructions:

  1. Prepare a metal bowl with ice water.
  2. In a saucepan, boil sugar, corn syrup and water until light amber. Do not stir while the sugar is cooking, it can cause crystals.
  3. Once the caramel becomes light amber, place pan into the ice water to prevent further cooking and cool the caramel.

Assembly:

  1. Place a 5 ½ inch cake board on a sheet of parchment paper.
  2. Fill the cream puffs with the pastry cream.
  3. Dip the top of each cream puff into the hot caramel, reheating it if caramel becomes too hard to dip. (CAUTION: Be careful not to touch the hot caramel, the hot sugar will stick to your skin and burn you. Keep a bowl of ice water on hand just in case to cool the burn asap.)
  4. Use the larger cream puffs for the bottom of the croqeumbouche.
  5. Dip the bottom of the first creampuff and stick to the outside of the cake board.
  6. Dip the next cream puff on the bottom and to the side, to stick to cream puff that is already on the cake board. Repeat the process until the first layer is done.
  7. When doing the second layer of cream puffs, arrange the cream puff in between each cream puff on the first layer, to create a stable tower.
  8. Continue to dip and build, heating the caramel if it becomes too hard.
  9. Once the tower is built, cool the caramel until it forms a thread when you lift it from the pot with a fork.
  10. Dip the fork into the caramel and circle around the croqeumbouche to create a web of caramel strings around it.

Pâte à choux recipe adapted from food network.
Pastry cream recipe adapted from all recipes.
Caramel recipe adapted from bon appetit.

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.

 

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.