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.

The Best Mocha Cake

The Best Mocha CakeI rarely ever call anything the “best” because I know there is something out there that’s better. But I’m telling you, this cake is very, very good. Most of the cakes on this website are cakes that I’ve made for my family’s birthday celebrations, and they’ve tasted every single one of them. The good and bad thing about family members is that they are your biggest critics. They’re not too polite to say everything is good when it’s not, and aren’t afraid to tell you that your previous work was better. So when my brother said that it’s one of the best cakes I’ve ever made and requested the same one for this next birthday, I knew it was a winner.
The Best Mocha CakeThis isn’t your average layer cake where you glue rounds of the same flavored cake with some frosting and call it a day. It’s complex and flavorful. With 5 different layers and a jelly glaze, it’s definitely a labor of love. I’m telling you, even I was worn out after putting this cake together, but oh man was it worth it. It’s rich, soft, buttery, light, crunchy and silky at the same time. You can’t mistake the coffee or the chocolate and one doesn’t overpower the other. They’re perfectly balanced.
The Best Mocha CakeFirst, you have a chocolate cookie crust, then a mocha cake: followed by a coffee ganache and then chocolate crunchies with a coffee mousse on top. The whole thing is covered in a coffee mirror glaze that’s very glossy and jelly-like. I’ve never made a mirror glaze before, but I have to say I’m not impressed by the flavor. Please, feel free to peel it off before consuming your cake.
The Best Mocha CakeYou want to make sure to use the very best white chocolate for the coffee ganache. I feel if you use the waxy cheap white chocolate, the balance of the cake will be off. This is the time to pull out the valrhona or the guittard and savor every bite of it.
The Best Mocha CakeThe Best Mocha Cake
Makes one 9-inch cake

*Because there are so many components to this cake, I’ll put the ingredients and the instructions for each layer. I don’t want you to have to keep scrolling up for each ingredient. Note that each layer is layered in the same 9-inch springform pan.

For the Oreo Crust:

Ingredients:
25 Oreo cookies, crushed
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
  2. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  3. Stir the cookie crumbs and melted butter in a bowl.
  4. Press the evenly crumbs into the bottom of the springform pan.
  5. Bake the crust for 8 minutes and cool completely before moving onto the next layer.

For the Mocha Cake:

Ingredients:
½ c. strong coffee, room temp
1 ½ tsp. espresso powder
½ c. whole milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ⅓ c. all-purpose flour
⅓ c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
½ c. unsalted butter, room temp
½ c. granulated sugar
⅓ c. light brown sugar

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  2. In a measuring cup, whisk coffee, espresso powder, milk and vanilla extract together. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter and the granulated and light brown sugar together until light and fluffy.
  5. Turn the mixer on low and add in a third of the flour mixture followed by half of the coffee mixture. Repeat with another third of the flour followed by the remaining coffee mixture. End with the last third of the coffee mixture.
  6. Pour about ¾ of the cake batter onto the cookie crust and bake for about 20-25 minutes until the cake is set. Let cool.
  7. *You can bake a few cupcakes with the remaining cake batter to taste test.

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.

For the Espresso Chocolate Crunchies:

Ingredients:
10 Oreo cookies
¾ bottle of magic shell
2 tsp. espresso powder

Instructions:

  1. Pulse the oreo cookies in a processor until fine crumbs form.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix ¾ of a bottle of magic shell with the oreo crumbs until thoroughly combined.
  3. Smooth on a layer of crunchies over the chilled coffee ganache.
  4. Evenly sprinkle the 2 tsp of espresso powder over the crunchies.
  5. Chill until the crunchies set, about 15-20 minutes in the freezer or an hour in the refrigerator.

For the Espresso Mousse:

Ingredients:
1 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1 tbsp. water
1 c. heavy cream
2 tbsp. powdered sugar
2 tsp. espresso powder
1 tsp. coffee emulsion

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, mix gelatin with water and set aside to hydrate.
  2. Beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form.
  3. Heat the gelatin mixture in the microwave in 10 second increments until melted.
  4. Add in the powdered sugar to the heavy cream and once it is mixed in, add in the gelatin slowly.
  5. Whip until semi-stiff peaks form. Add in the espresso powder and the coffee emulsion.
  6. Whip until stiff peaks form.
  7. Lay a smooth layer of the espresso cream on top of the crunchies using an offset spatula.
  8. If desired, you may use the remaining ¼ of the magic shell from the above recipe and smooth it over on top of the mousse to create a smoother top for the cake.
  9. Chill in the refrigerator until firm, about an hour.

For the Espresso Mirror Glaze:

Ingredients:
1 ¼ c. water, divided
3 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1 ¾ c. granulated sugar
1 tbsp. espresso powder
1 tsp. coffee emulsion
white chocolate (for decoration)
gold leaf/ gold flakes (for decoration)
gold sanding sugar (for decoration)
silver dragees (for decoration)

Instructions:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix ¼ c. water with 3 tsp. gelatin and set aside for 5 minutes.
  2. Add 1 cup of hot water to the gelatin mixture and whisk until gelatin has dissolved.
  3. Add in sugar, espresso powder and coffee emulsion and whisk until smooth.
  4. Once mixture is thickened and cooled, about 20-25 minutes (it should be viscous, I didn’t wait long enough and it wasn’t as thick as I would’ve liked), remove the cake from the refrigerator and unmold from the springpan.
  5. Place cake on top of wire rack with a sheet pan on the bottom.
  6. Pour the gelatin mixture evenly over the cake and let it set. This is a messy move, you will have leftover gelatin all over the bottom of the sheet pan. There is no saving it, just let it go.
  7. While the cake sets, melt about ¼ c. white chocolate in piping bag with a tiny hole cut at the end. Drizzle over one side of the cake in straight lines.
  8. Sprinkle the gold sanding sugar and silver dragees over the same side.
  9. Add the gold leaf.
  10. Chill in fridge until ready to serve.

Oreo crust recipe adapted from Crazy For Crust.
Mocha cake recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker.

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.

Tiramisu Cinnamon Rolls

Tiramisu Cinnamon RollsIf I bottled the scent that came out of the oven while this baked, I would be a millionaire. It smells as if your house was smack dab in the middle of a Starbucks and a Cinnabon store. Er.. kind of like a mall. (I suppose living in the mall would be a nightmare for some people.) Everyone knows the best part about going to the mall is passing by a Cinnabon or a Weltzel’s Pretzels store. I’m always battling my inner fat kid every time I walk by.
Cinnamon RollsFilled with a cinnamon-coffee sugar, topped with a whipped mascarpone frosting and dusted with a generous dose of cocoa powder, it highlights the best parts of both worlds. I would suggest taking the buns out of the pan about 5-10 minutes after it comes out of the oven. The coffee cinnamon sugar creates a caramel when it bakes, and if you let it cool completely in the pan, it will become a type of glue which makes it nearly impossible to get clean cuts out of the pan. Also, don’t be like me and roll the dough out too thinly, I originally wanted just 8 cinnamon rolls, but I had to slice the dough more because it was too tall for the pan. Boo.

Tiramisu Cinnamon RollsCinnamon rolls are definitely not an on-the-whim kind of treat. But if you do decide to make it, I can imagine it being part of an awesome Christmas morning breakfast.
DSC_0579

Tiramisu Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients:

For the Cinnamon Rolls:
1 ½ teaspoon active dry yeast
½ c. water, warm (110-120°F)
¼ cup granulated sugar, divided
2 tbsp buttermilk
1 large egg
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt

For the Filling:
¼ c. unsalted butter, softened
¾ c. light brown sugar, packed
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 ½ tbsp. coffee emulsion
For the Frosting:
8 oz. mascarpone cheese, room temp
2 tbsp. butter, room temp
⅓ c. powdered sugar
2 tbsp. heavy cream
cocoa powder, for dusting on top

Instructions:

  1. In a microwave safe cup, warm ½ c. water until 110°F-120°F or lukewarm. Stir in 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar until dissolved. Stir in dry yeast and let stand until foamy (about 5 minutes).
  2. While the yeast is proofing, mix flour, buttermilk, 3 tbsp. sugar, egg, salt, and the melted butter into a bowl of a stand mixer.
  3. Add the water mixture into the flour mixture and stir until a loose dough forms.
  4. Let stand for 8 minutes to hydrate flour.
  5. With the dough hook attachment, knead the dough on speed 2 for about 8 minutes until dough is pliable and stretchy.
  6. Move dough to an oiled bowl and cover the bowl and let the dough rise until double its size, about 1 to 2 hours.
  7. In a separate bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, corn starch, butter, and coffee emulsion until combined. Set aside.
  8. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 9” x 12” rectangle. Spread the cinnamon sugar mixture evenly, except 1” along the bottom of the dough.
  9. Roll the dough tightly, using the uncovered border to seal the roll.
  10. Cut the roll into 8 even rolls.
  11. Grease a 9×13 inch pan, and evenly space out the rolls. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 – 1 ½ hours until rolls have doubled in size.
  12. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
  13. Bake for about 20 minutes until rolls are golden brown.
  14. Let cool for about 5-10 minutes before turning out the rolls onto parchment paper or a nonstick surface.
  15. While the rolls cool. Make the mascarpone frosting.
  16. Using a handheld mixer, whip butter and powdered sugar in a medium bowl.
  17. Add mascarpone cheese and heavy cream and mix until light and fluffy. Do not overwhip.
  18. Spread frosting over cooled rolls and dust the top generously with cocoa powder using a fine meshed sieve.

Cinnamon roll recipe adapted from The Slow Roasted Italian.

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.

Tiramisu Crunch Ice Cream Cake

Tiramisu Crunch Ice Cream Cake 1I made this cake for my sister’s birthday last week. As far as sisters go, my sister and I are as different as night and day. We don’t look alike, with the exception that we both share freckles. Growing up, I would be pale from staying in and reading books while she would be as tan as can be from playing outside. She loves the color black while I love white. She is loud and I am quiet. She prefers vegetables, while I prefer steak. She likes things simple and casual while I cannot get enough frills and bows. She favors pants in comparison to my preference to dresses. She is also not partial to desserts whereas I cannot live without them (as evidenced by this blog). I always tell people that whatever she is good at, I lack it and whatever I am good at, she lacks it.
Tiramisu Ice Cream Cake 3I love creating cakes and I look forward to baking one for all of my family members on their special day. But my sister does not like cake. HOW?! As someone whose life (or a good part of their life) revolves around frosting, and sugar and flour, it is hard to understand someone who does not like cake. So every year on her birthday, I resort to an ice cream cake. Because let’s face it, who doesn’t like ice cream?
Tiramisu Crunch Ice Cream Cake 2Tiramisu was one of my least favorite desserts because I used to rarely drink coffee. If anything, I loved it for the mascarpone cream. (Ah, mascarpone cream… everything you touch becomes a magical milky confection.) But ever since I gave up diet coke, I’ve been leaning towards coffee for my caffeine fix and I’ve managed to fall in love with the bitter brew. My sister’s preferred choice of drink has always been coffee, so tiramisu was a no-brainer when it came to a flavor choice.
layoutI have to say, this cake ranks as one of the best cakes to come out of my kitchen. It features layers of coffee ice cream sandwiched between coffee syrup soaked sponge cake, chocolate almond crispies (!!!), and is covered by a blanket of mascarpone whipped cream and adorned with dark chocolate accents and cocoa powder. I know. It sounds like it is too much work and it is true that there are many components to the cake. However, each part is simple to make!
mascarpone cream I always use high quality ice cream when it comes to ice cream cakes. It is important to have the lower air content so that the ice cream stays firmer, longer. I used Haagen-Dazs in mine. The sponge cake is a standard sponge cake that is divided in half. The coffee syrup is nothing more than a mix of sugar and dark brewed coffee. The chocolate almond crispies provide a crunch and a textural contrast to the smooth ice cream and cake. To make it, you simply stir chocolate almond spread with Rice Krispies cereal until it is evenly coated. The mascarpone whipped cream is a mix of vanilla extract, powdered sugar, mascarpone, and cool whip. I am not a fan of cool whip, but when it comes to ice cream cakes, I think it is superior in terms of spreadability and stability. To make the chocolate accents, simply melt some chocolate and using a small offset spatula, drag a dollop of chocolate over parchment paper and repeat until you have as many pieces as you need. They will not all look uniform, but I think that’s what makes it look slightly “rustic”.
Tiramisu Ice Cream Cake 4I understand if you are a little overwhelmed by it. But trust me, it is worth every minute you spend making it. 😉

Tiramisu Crunch Ice Cream Cake

Ingredients:

56 oz. premium coffee ice cream, softened
sponge cake, halved horizontally (recipe below)
coffee simple syrup (recipe below)
chocolate almond crispies (recipe below)
whipped mascarpone cream (recipe below)
dark chocolate, melted (for garnish)
cocoa powder (for garnish)

Instructions:

  1. Line two 8-inch cake pans that are 3 inches deep with a double layer of plastic wrap that overhangs over the cake pan.
  2. In one of the cake pans, place one half of the sponge cake and brush liberally with coffee syrup. (You do not want to soak the cake, but put enough of it that it is moist.)
  3. Layer 28 oz. of coffee ice cream over the cake base, smooth so that the coffee base is as smooth as you can get it.
  4. Place pan in freezer for about 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, make the chocolate almond crispies.
  6. Get half of the chocolate almond crispies and layer it over the ice cream, flattening it with an offset spatula to make it as flat, even and smooth as possible.
  7. Wrap the overhanging plastic wrap over the cake pan and place in freezer until completely frozen, preferably overnight.
  8. In the second lined cake pan, smooth 28 oz. of coffee ice cream with offset spatula evenly.
  9. Chill in freezer for 10 minutes.
  10. Layer the remaining chocolate almond crispies over the coffee ice cream.
  11. Place the second half of the sponge cake and brush liberally with coffee simple syrup.
  12. Wrap the overhanging plastic wrap over the cake pan and place in freezer until completely frozen, preferably overnight.
  13. On a cake board you are planning to serve, carefully unmold the first cake pan you put together by lifting the plastic wrap off of the pan and unwrapping it completely.
  14. Take the second cake pan and unmold it, and place on top of the first cake pan layer with the sponge cake layer facing downwards. Apply pressure to fuse the two layers together.
  15. Place in freezer to harden for about 20-30 minutes.
  16. Meanwhile, make the whipped mascarpone cream.
  17. Remove frozen cake from freezer and frost the outside of the cake with ¾ of the whipped mascarpone cream.
  18. Place cake back in the freezer and put the remaining whipped mascarpone cream in a piping bag with a plain large round tip.
  19. Remove cake from freezer and use the piping bag to place decorative dollops of cream over the top of the cake by making even vertical rows of cream.
  20. Using a mesh strainer, liberally dust the top of the cake with cocoa powder. The cocoa powder will dust the surface of the cake board too, carefully use a wet paper towel to clean the cake board off.
  21. Place cake back in the freezer.
  22. While cake is freezing, make decorative chocolate pieces.
  23. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  24. Using a small offset spatula, drag dollops of dark chocolate to create a streak. Use larger dollops for the bottom and smaller dollops for the top. Place in refrigerator to set for 5-10 minutes.
  25. When set, remove the cake from the freezer and decorate the bottom of the cake with the longer chocolate pieces and the top of the cake with the smaller chocolate pieces.
  26. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Vanilla Sponge Cake

Ingredients:

½ c. all-purpose flour
½ c. cornstarch
4 large eggs, separated
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¾ c. sugar, divided
pinch of salt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F and grease the inside of an 8 inch baking pan with nonstick spray.
  2. In a small bowl, sift together flour and cornstarch.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks, vanilla extract, and ½ c. sugar on high until thick and pale.
  4. Transfer mixture into a large bowl.
  5. Thoroughly wash and dry mixing bowl and whisk attachment.
  6. In a clean bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites and salt until soft peaks form.
  7. Slowly incorporate the remaining ¼ c. of sugar into the egg whites and mix until whites are stiff and glossy.
  8. Fold egg whites into the egg yolk mixture in three additions.
  9. Fold in flour mixture
  10. Transfer batter into the prepared cake pan.
  11. Bake 30-40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  12. Cool cake on a wire rack until ready for use.

Coffee Simple Syrup

Ingredients:

½ c. strong, dark coffee
¼ c. sugar

Instructions:

  1. Heat coffee and sugar together until sugar is completely dissolved.
  2. Cool until ready for use.

Chocolate Almond Crispies

Ingredients:

3 c. Rice Krispies Cereal
1 c. chocolate almond spread (I used this one from Trader Joe’s)

Instructions:

  1. Heat chocolate almond spread until easily pourable.
  2. In a large bowl, mix chocolate almond spread and cereal until cereal is evenly coated.
  3. Cool mixture until ready for use.

Whipped Mascarpone Cream

Ingredients:

12 oz. Cool Whip (thawed)
1 lb. mascarpone cheese
3 tbsp. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, whip Cool Whip and half of mascarpone cheese until smooth with an electric hand mixer.
  2. Add the remaining half of the Cool Whip and mix until incorporated. Do not over whip.
  3. Add powdered sugar and vanilla extract and whip until homogeneous.

* Vanilla Sponge Cake recipe from Martha Stewart.

White Chocolate Tiramisu Eggs

Two years ago, I bought a Jello egg mold with grand hopes that it will mold and form beautiful rainbow-striped Jello eggs.   After mixing endless bowls of different flavored Jello, the project flopped terribly.  The eggs didn’t set properly and I ended up with shattered Jello eggs that wouldn’t hold their shape.  I called it a lost cause and put the mold away thinking I would never use it again.

Chocolate Tiramisu Egg 3

Fast forward two years and I unearthed the egg mold while digging through my cake pans.  Since Easter is around the corner, I called it fate and contemplated a way to use it.  It didn’t come easy, but in the end I finally thought of an original idea.  An idea that was original until this moment when I googled it and saw that 7 hours ago someone beat me to the punch!!  NOOOO!  Le sigh.

Chocolate Tiramisu Egg 2

Well original or not, these eggs look so much like the real thing at first glance it’s a little weird to eat them.  But you need to, because encased in the chocolate egg is the most heavenly bite of tiramisu.  It’s adorable and let’s be honest, it’s a little fun freaking out people.

Chocolate Tiramisu Egg 4

White Chocolate Tiramisu Eggs

You will need:

1 Batch of Lady Fingers (Recipe Below)
1 Batch of Mascarpone Cream (Recipe Below)
1 Cup of Strong Coffee
1/2 Package of White Chocolate Melts
1 Jello Egg Mold*
Approximately 10 Pieces of Yellow Chocolate Melts
Cocoa Powder (Optional)

Assembly:

  1. Place white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl/cup with a spout.
  2. Melt the white chocolate melts in the microwave in 15 second intervals until completely melted.
  3. Thoroughly spray the inside of your egg mold with a non-stick cooking spray.
  4. Use the spout of your bowl/cup to pour white chocolate into the egg about ¼ of the way.
  5. Start rotating your egg mold (left, right, and upside down) until it starts to set.** (When flipping the egg mold upside down, do so above your melted chocolate so the excess can drip back into the bowl.)
  6. Once set, repeat steps 4 and 5 two more times to ensure through covering and place in freezer to completely set. (4-5 minutes)
  7. While the eggs are setting,
    1. Punch out ½ -⅔ in circles of the prepared lady fingers.
    2. Place Mascarpone cream into a piping bag fitted with a ¼ in. plain piping tip.
  8. Take the eggs out of the freezer and carefully unmold the chocolate. It may stick a little. Just wiggle it around and it should come out in one piece.
  9. Run a serrated knife in hot tap water and wipe off excess water. While the knife is hot, cut the top ¼ -⅙ of the egg. (After every egg, make sure to reheat your knife for easier cutting.)
  10. Place the eggs back into the bottom half of the egg mold, and put about a teaspoon of the mascarpone cream inside.
  11. Layer one piece of the lady finger and with a small pastry brush, brush coffee onto the lady finger to soak it. Place a second piece of lady finger on top and brush coffee again.
  12. Layer another teaspoon of mascarpone cream, and repeat step 11.
  13. Layer the final teaspoon of mascarpone cream and let set in freezer.
  14. Melt the yellow chocolate melts and put into a squeeze bottle for easy use.***
  15. Take the chocolate out of the freezer and squeeze a dollop of yellow chocolate melts to imitate the yolk.
  16. Optional: Pinch a little cocoa powder between your fingers and (over the sink) flick specks of cocoa onto the white chocolate. Rotate the egg and repeat until completely speckled.  (This resembles the cocoa that is usually dusted on top of traditional tiramisu.)

Lady Fingers

Ingredients:
2 eggs, separated
6 tbsp. sugar, divided
⅓ c. flour, sifted
½ tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  2. In a stand mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites until foamy.
  3. Slowly add in 2 tablespoons of sugar and continue whisking until stiff, glossy peaks form.
  4. Empty the egg whites in a separate bowl.
  5. Place 2 egg yolks and 4 tablespoons sugar into the mixer bowl and mix until pale and very thick.
  6. Add the vanilla extract and fold in sifted flour. (It will be very thick.)
  7. Mix in 1/3 of the reserved whipped egg whites to the flour mixture
  8. Fold in the remaining whipped egg whites 1/3 at a time.
  9. Spread the batter onto prepared sheet pan to about ¼ inch thick.
  10. Bake about 8 minutes, rotating the pan halfway until golden brown
  11. Let cool.

Mascarpone Cream

Ingredients:
1 c. heavy cream
¼ c. powdered sugar
4 oz. mascarpone cheese

Instructions:

  1. In a cold stand mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form.
  2. Sift in the powdered sugar and mix until just incorporated.
  3. Add the mascarpone cheese and mix until stiff peaks form.

* If you do not own a Jello egg mold, you can always take a shortcut and order pre-made hollow chocolate eggs from Amazon. If you do this, start from step 7.
** This process is messy. Don’t let that get you down!
*** If you do not have a squeeze bottle, you can always just spoon on the chocolate.