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Monday, April 29, 2013

Crumb Cake is GREAT for Brunch!

Happy Monday all! Hope it wasn't too rough for you...but maybe something sweet will keep a pep in your step! This weekend I had a lovely brunch with my husband and some friends, and I chose a new recipe - brown butter-sour cream crumb cake. The recipe turned out deliciously, though it takes longer than suggested. Be sure to constantly check your cake with a cake tester as ovens vary. Also, stay close to the butter as it melts; the recipe says 5 minutes but it took me closer to 10 to brown and 20 to solidify in the freezer. Enjoy!

Brown Butter-Sour Cream Crumb Cake
Food & Wine January 2013

Crumb Topping:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Scant 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  1. MAKE THE CRUMB TOPPING: In a food processor, combine the butter with the sugar, flour, baking soda and salt and process until the mixture forms small crumbs. Transfer to a plate and press into 1/2-inch clumps. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, until firm.
  2. MAKE THE CAKE: In a small saucepan, cook the butter over moderate heat until the solids turn brown, 5 minutes (this took me closer to 10!). Immediately scrape the butter and solids into a shallow bowl and freeze until firm but not hard, 15 minutes (this is closer to 20-25).
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with baking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper. Spray the paper. In a bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Scrape the firmed brown butter into the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle. Add the sugar and beat at moderate speed until light and fluffy, 5 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth. Working in 3 alternating additions, beat in the dry ingredients and the sour cream, scraping down the bowl occasionally.
  4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and scatter the crumbs on top. Bake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes (this took my oven closer to 1 hour 15 min), until the cake is golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool.
  5. Remove the ring and transfer the cake to a plate. Peel the paper off the bottom of the cake before serving.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Chocolate From Around the World!

Hello all! Surprised to see me on a Thursday? I had a killer workout last night, which was awesome, but it also meant I was too tired to move for the rest of the evening. I'm sorry! To make it up to you, I'm posting this morning! I've got a few recipes of the chocolatey variety to keep you cheerful on this beautiful Thursday. These recipes are inspired from chocolate around the world. I encourage you to seek out brands that hail from the lovely countries from which they originate. It's not as hard to find quality chocolate anymore, either. Fairway has a variety of bars, chips, and chunks from high-end chocolatiers and Whole Foods offers more than just organic bars. Also check out your local chefy shop (like Chef Central or NY Cake).


Mexican Chocolate Pots de Creme
Stephanie Prida for Food & Wine


  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 6 ounces Mexican chocolate, preferably Ibarra, finely chopped
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, plus shavings for garnish
  • Unsweetened whipped cream, for serving


  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the whole milk with the heavy cream and bring to a simmer over moderately high heat.
  2. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks until combined. Slowly whisk in 1/2 cup of the hot milk, then transfer the mixture to the saucepan. Cook the custard over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until it is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Immediately add the finely chopped Mexican and bittersweet chocolate and remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted, then strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a large glass measuring cup or bowl. Pour the chocolate mixture into 6 small bowls and refrigerate until the pots de crème are chilled, at least 6 hours or overnight. Serve the pots de crème with unsweetened whipped cream and chocolate shavings.
MAKE AHEAD The pots de crème can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.


Makes about 30 truffles.


Dark Chocolate Ganache
  1. Boil the cream and the honey. Pour 1/3 of this mixture over the chocolate.
  2. With a spatula, mix rapidly to obtain a smooth and glossy texture. Gradually add the remaining cream, making sure to keep the smooth and glossy emulsion.
  3. Mix until the chocolate is completely emulsified.
  4. Stir in softened butter and mix thoroughly. Leave to chill until set.
  1. Put in piping bag.
  2. Pipe small balls on the greaseproof paper chill. Roll ball between your hands to make a regular shape.
  3. Roll in cocoa powder.
Chef’s tips: 
  1. If the truffles are not for children, you can add 1 oz of your preferred alcohol after the addition of butter.
  2. If you can not find a piping bag at the store, use a large zipper bag and cut a small hole in one of the corner of the bottom of the bag.


Chocolate Olive Oil Cake
Nigella Lawson
You need a good scale for this recipe in order to convert to g.

  • 150 ml regular olive oil (plus more for greasing)
  • 50 grams good-quality cocoa powder (sifted)
  • 125 ml boiling water
  • teaspoons best vanilla extract
  • 150 grams ground almonds (or 125g plain flour)
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 200 grams caster sugar
  • large eggs
  1. Preheat your oven to 170°C/gas mark 3/325ºF. Grease a 22 or 23 cm/ 9inch springform tin with a little oil and line the base with baking parchment.
  2. Measure and sift the cocoa powder into a bowl or jug and whisk in the boiling water until you have a smooth, chocolatey, still runny (but only just) paste. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then set aside to cool a little.
  3. In another smallish bowl, combine the ground almonds (or flour) with the bicarbonate of sodaand pinch of salt.
  4. Put the sugar, olive oil and eggs into the bowl of a freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment (or other bowl and whisk arrangement of your choice) and beat together vigorously for about 3 minutes until you have a pale-primrose, aerated and thickened cream.
  5. Turn the speed down a little and pour in the cocoa mixture, beating as you go, and when all is scraped in you can slowly tip in the ground almond (or flour) mixture.
  6. Scrape down, and stir a little with a spatula, then pour this dark, liquid batter into the prepared tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the sides are set and the very centre, on top, still looks slightly damp. A cake tester should come up mainly clean but with a few sticky chocolate crumbs clinging to it.
  7. Let it cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, still in its tin, and then ease the sides of the cake with a small metal spatula and spring it out of the tin. Leave to cool completely or eat while still warm with some ice cream, as a pudding.


Chocolate Turkish Coffee Cake
Tasting Table Test Kitchen

  • 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • ½ cup canola or grapeseed oil
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground espresso
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 large eggs
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream, warmed
  • 1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
  1. Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly coat a 9-inch cake pan with nonstick pan spray. Set the pan on top of a sheet of parchment paper. Trace a circle around the pan, cut out the circle, and place it inside the cake pan. Turn the circle over so both sides are lightly greased. To a microwave-safe medium-size bowl, add the chocolate and microwave until the chocolate is melted, stirring every 20 seconds, for 1 to 1½ minutes total (take care not to overheat the chocolate or it will turn grainy). To the chocolate, whisk in the oil, dark brown sugar, espresso, pomegranate molasses and salt.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, cardamom, baking powder and baking soda together through a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium bowl.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs on medium speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. With the mixer running, slowly add the granulated sugar. Once it is added, increase the mixer speed to high and continue to whip until the mixture is very thick and creamy and drips from the whisk in thick ribbons, about 3 minutes. Add the chocolate-espresso mixture and beat until well combined. Remove the mixer bowl from the stand and fold in the flour mixture. Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake until the cake springs back when pressed lightly, about 30 to 35 minutes.
  4. While the cake bakes, make the ganache: To a microwave-safe bowl, add the chocolate and microwave until the chocolate is melted, stirring every 20 seconds, for about 1 to 1½ minutes total. To the melted chocolate, add the warm cream and the pomegranate molasses and gently stir until smooth. Set the ganache aside at room temperature to cool and thicken.
  5. Remove the cake from the oven and cool for 15 minutes, then invert it onto a wire rack and let it cool completely. Peel the parchment circle from the cake, then invert it onto a cake plate and spoon the ganache over the cake, using the back of a spoon to create soft peaks and to push the ganache over the edges (if the ganache is still too soft to hold peaks, refrigerate it for 10 minutes, then gently stir). Slice the cake into wedges and serve immediately, or refrigerate until completely chilled, then slice and serve cold (or let the cake stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before slicing and serving).

Happy baking!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Baking Bonanza!

Lemon Tartlets
It's that day of the week again folks...Monday night is upon us. This weekend was busy for me. I was tempted by my cookbooks to try some new recipes. Faint echoes of "you're gonna make me fat!" and "It's too tempting!" dance in my head as I think of the recipients of another one of my test batches. I figured I'd try some mini desserts to help them feel guilt-free - well, less guilty anyway. In an attempt to persuade Mother Nature to push spring into full swing, I chose a lemon tartlet recipe and mini blondies filled with milk chocolate chunks, "chunked" (if you will) from local chocolatiers' Easter bunnies. Both addictively delicious.
Blondies, pre-shrinkage

Now for today's recipe...I didn't want you to miss out on a recipe today, and this one took me by surprise! Pumpkin Fluff, as it was called on Pinterest, is a low cal treat that feels rich and decadent. This is my adaptation.

Pumpkin Fluff


  • 15 oz can pumpkin puree (make sure you don't get canned pumpkin pie's not the same thing!)
  • 1 container fat free Cool Whip
  • 1 box fat free instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, mounded
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, mounded
  1. Whisk all ingredients until smooth. Use your own preferences and judgments for the amount of spices in this recipe!
  2. Divide equally into 4 ramekins. Refrigerate 2 hours or until set. 

Happy baking!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Shortcakes Abound!

Happy Wednesday my lovely readers! I hope you made it to the halfway point in the week without any big bumps in the road. Today I'm going to give you a few unique recipes to showcase the lovely idea of a strawberry shortcake...from classic to fancy!

If you prefer the classics...

Strawberry Shortcakes
Parade, Sheila Lukins, May 2008

  • 4 pints strawberries, lightly rinsed, hulled and halved
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 6 shortcakes (see recipe below), for serving
  • 6 whole strawberries, for garnish
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 2 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoon heavy (whipping) cream


For the Shortcakes:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a baking sheet.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl.
  3. Add the butter. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, rub it into the dry ingredients until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Stir in the milk until a very soft dough is formed. Do not overwork.
  4. Drop the dough in 6 equal portions onto the prepared baking sheet. Lightly pat the dough into rounds—3 to 3 1/2 inches in diameter—and lightly brush the tops with the cream.
  5. Bake the shortcakes in the center of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

For the Strawberries:
  1. Place strawberries in a bowl. Sprinkle with lemon juice and sugar, then gently toss with a rubber spatula. Let rest for 1 1/2 to 2 hours for juices to develop.
  2. Just before serving, whip cream with 1 Tbsp sugar until it holds soft peaks.
  3. To serve, slice off the top third of each shortcake. Place the bottoms on 6 dessert plates and top with 1/3 cup of the prepared berries and juice, plus a spoonful of whipped cream. Cover with the top. Spoon over more berries and juice, then dollop with whipped cream. Garnish each with a whole berry and drizzle with any remaining juice.

A little more kid-friendly...

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes
Food & Wine, Grace Parisi

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
Frosting and Topping:
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
  • Strawberry jam

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper or foil liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the cornstarch, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the sugar with the eggs and vanilla extract at medium-high speed until smooth and thickened slightly, about 3 minutes. Add the butter and oil and beat until incorporated, scraping the bottom and side of the bowl. Add the dry ingredients and milk in 3 alternating batches, beating well between additions. Carefully pour the batter into the lined muffin tins, filling them about two-thirds full.
  4. Bake the cupcakes in the center of the oven for 20 to 23 minutes, until springy and a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool slightly in the muffin tin, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. In a medium bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the softened butter at medium speed until smooth. Add the confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract and salt and beat the mixture at low speed just until combined. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until smooth. Add the milk or heavy cream and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  6. Mix the frosting with strawberry jam to taste. Spread the frosting on the cooled cupcakes and serve.
MAKE AHEAD The unfrosted cupcakes can be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month. The white buttercream frosting can be refrigerated in an airtight plastic container for up to 2 days. Return to room temperature before using.

If you don't like strawberries...

Rhubarb Shortcakes 
Bon Appetit, Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer

Roasted Rhubarb
  • 2 pounds rhubarb, trimmed, sliced 1-inch thick
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
Biscuits and Assembly
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour plus more for work surface
  • 3 cups chilled heavy cream, divided
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Roasted Rhubarb
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Combine rhubarb, sugar, and wine in a medium baking dish or ovenproof skillet. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean and toss to combine.
    Roast until rhubarb is very tender and juices are syrupy, 30-40 minutes, depending on thickness of stalks. Let cool. Discard vanilla bean.
Biscuits and Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Whisk cake flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and 1 cup all-purpose flour in a medium bowl to combine. Add 1 1/2 cups cream; gently mix just until dough holds together.
  2. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and form into a 9x6-inch rectangle about 1-inch thick. Cut dough in half length-wise, then cut crosswise 3 times to form 8 rectangular biscuits.
  3. Arrange biscuits on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, spacing 1 inch apart. Brush tops and sides of biscuits with butter. Bake until golden brown, 18-20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool (biscuits can be served warm or at room temperature).
  4. Beat remaining 1 1/2 cups cream in a medium bowl until soft peaks form. Split biscuits and brush cut sides with remaining melted butter. Fill biscuits with roasted rhubarb and serve with whipped cream.
DO AHEAD: Rhubarb filling can be made 5 days ahead. Let cool, then cover and chill. Reheat slightly before serving. Biscuits can be made 1 day ahead. Let cool completely and store airtight at room temperature.

For the sophisticated table setting...

Jacques Pepin's Favorite Pound Cake
Jacques Pepin

  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Butter a 10-by-5-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with a strip of parchment paper that extends 2 inches past the short ends of the pan.
  2. In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar, vanilla and salt at medium speed until fluffy, 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 2 at a time, beating between additions. Beat in the milk. Sift the flour over the batter and whisk it in until smooth. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.
  3. Bake the cake for 1 1/2 hours, until it is cracked down the center, golden on top, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then unmold the cake and let cool completely.
MAKE AHEAD The cake can be kept at room temperature, covered, for up to 3 days.

Lizzy Bee's twist....
Add your own berries - strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc. - and some whipped topping and elegantly decorate slices of the pound cake to serve and enjoy!

Happy baking!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Another post beginning in sadness...

My thoughts and prayers go out to the people in Boston. I hope we can all keep them in our hearts.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cupcake Wars Lovers...Unite!

HELLO! I'm baaaaack! How have you been this week? Baking away I hope! I had a few days off from the day job, but I'm back tomorrow. *Dramatic sigh* Oh well. Let's get right down to baking, shall we? My favorite subject! Do you like to watch Cupcake Wars and are perhaps curious about some of the recipes? Well curiosity begone because I'm going to give you a few to try this weekend. You're welcome. ;)

One of my favorite classic combos...
Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
Lori Jacobs, CW 2011


  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 10 to 12 cups powdered sugar
For the cupcakes: 
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins with 24 paper liners.
  2. Mix the flour, soda and salt together in a bowl. Set aside. Add the butter and sugar to a mixing bowl and cream until light and fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time and mix thoroughly. Add the vanilla and lemon zest and mix to combine. Add the dry mixture in 3 parts alternating with the sour cream, ending with dry mixture. Stir in the blueberries. Fill the prepared tins two-thirds full and bake 16 to 20 minutes. Cool.
For the frosting: 

  1. Cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla, lemon zest and juice and blend until combined. Add the powdered sugar gradually until combined.
  2. Frost the cooled cupcakes with the cream cheese frosting.

For those of you who like a little kick...
Red Hot Velvet Cupcakes with Fiery Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
Anthony Valerio, CW 2011

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ounce red liquid food coloring
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
Fiery Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 2 sticks butter, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 6 to 7 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 to 1 shot cinnamon schnapps
For the cupcakes: 
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with 24 regular-size cupcake liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, all-purpose flour, cake flour, cocoa, cayenne powder, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. Set the bowl aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the oil and eggs on low speed until combined. Add the red food coloring and vanilla extract. Continue beating until the mixture is well combined. Turn the mixer to the lowest speed and add the flour mixture and buttermilk, alternating between the two, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
  4. Fill the cupcake liners approximately half full with batter and bake until the cupcakes are set and a toothpick is removed cleanly, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool the cupcakes completely.
For the frosting: 
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the cinnamon, vanilla extract and salt. With the mixer on low, begin adding the powdered sugar, alternating with the schnapps, until the desired consistency is reached and the mixture is smooth.
  2. Frost each cupcake with the fiery cinnamon cream cheese frosting and serve.

A twist to a British classic...
Banana Toffee Cupcakes
Casey Shiller, CW 2011

  • 2 ounces unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 ounces light brown sugar
  • 2 ounces granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 ounces whole egg
  • 6 1/4 ounces ripe banana puree
  • 7 ounces cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 ounces chocolate toffee candy bar bits
  • 2 ounces buttermilk
Dulce de Leche Toffee Filling:
  • 7 ounces prepared dulce de leche (available at Latin-American grocery stores)
  • 3 1/2 ounces chocolate toffee candy bar bits
Caramel Cream Cheese Icing:
  • 7 1/2 ounces butter, softened
  • 24 ounces cream cheese
  • 12 ounces powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 9 ounces prepared dulce de leche (available at Latin-American grocery stores)
  • Freeze-dried chocolate chip ice cream (recommended: Astronaut Foods)
  • Miniature chocolate chips
For the cupcakes: 
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard size muffin pan with 12 cupcake liners.
  2. Combine the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream on medium-high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and add the egg and banana puree. Cream for an additional 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, and then add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Mix for 30 seconds on low speed. Add the toffee bits and buttermilk. Stir on low speed until combined.
  3. Fill the prepared cupcake liners three-quarters full with batter and bake until golden brown and baked through, about 25 minutes. Cool the cupcakes completely.
For the filling: 
  1. Stir the dulce de leche and toffee bits together until fully combined. Place in a pastry bag with a round tip large enough to allow the toffee bits to pass through without becoming lodged.
For the icing: 
  1. In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the cream cheese and mix on medium-high speed until well combined and lump free. Scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl and add the powdered sugar. Stir on low speed until well combined. Add the vanilla extract and beat on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. Remove from the mixer and stir in the dulce de leche in by hand to create a marbled appearance. Place in a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip.
To assemble: 
  1. Using an apple corer, remove the center core of the cupcakes and fill with Dulce ee Leche Toffee Filling. Pipe the Caramel Cream Cheese Icing generously on top of each cupcake. Using a paring knife, gently poke the freeze-dried ice cream to create separated chunks. Place 4 chunks on top of each cupcake. Dredge the outer rim of each cupcake in the miniature chocolate chips.

For my sister, down in Charleston...
Sweet Tea Cupcakes with Lemon Sweet Tea Frosting
Heather McDonnell, CW 2011

Sweet Tea Cupcakes:
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 10 black tea bags
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
Lemon Sweet Tea Frosting:
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
For the cupcakes: 
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with 12 liners.
  2. Heat the milk in the microwave for 1 minute, stir and then add 30 more seconds. Place the tea bags in the milk and allow steeping for 5 minutes.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the granulated sugar, oil, vanilla and the eggs, 1 at a time. Alternate adding the flour and only 1/2 cup of the tea until incorporated. Reserve 1/2 cup of the tea for the frosting.
  4. Fill the cupcake liners and bake for 15 minutes. Rotate the pan and continue until the cupcake tops spring back and a tester comes out clean, about 5 more minutes. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
For the frosting: 
  1. Cream the butter in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the lemon zest. Slowly alternate adding the confectioners' sugar and 1/2 cup reserved tea until you reach the desired frosting consistency.
  2. Frost the cooled cupcakes and serve.
Happy baking!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Unique Cakes

Happy Wednesday everyone! We're almost to the weekend and that can only mean one thing: 2 days to bake, bake, bake! Not sure what to do? Put away the classic vanilla and try one of these unique cake recipes.

Hummingbird Cake
Watershed Restaurant, Atlanta


  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3 cups flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1  8-oz. can crushed pineapple, juice reserved
  • 2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 5 bananas)
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1" cubes, chilled
  • 3  8-oz. packages cream cheese, cut into 1" cubes, chilled
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  1. Make the cake: Heat oven to 350°. Line the bottoms of three 9" round cake pans with parchment paper. Grease each pan with 1 tbsp. butter and dust with a little flour; shake pans so that flour evenly coats them. Invert pans and tap out excess flour; set pans aside.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; stir in the pecans and set aside. Using a handheld mixer set on high speed, beat the sugar, brown sugar, and eggs in a large mixing bowl until smooth, 1 minute. Add the crushed pineapples and their juice, bananas, oil, and vanilla and mix until combined. Add the pecan mixture and mix on low speed until evenly combined.
  3. Divide the batter evenly between the 3 prepared cake pans, smoothing the tops with a rubber spatula. Bake cakes, rotating occasionally, until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Transfer cakes to racks and let sit for 15 minutes; invert pans and unmold each cake; discard parchment paper. Let cakes cool.
  4. Make the frosting: In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth, 2 minutes. Add the cream cheese and vanilla and beat until creamy, 1–2 minutes more. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix on low speed until incorporated. Increase speed to medium-high and continue mixing until the frosting is light and fluffy, 2–3 minutes. Remove any dust from the pecans by shaking them in a wide-mesh sieve over the sink; using a rubber spatula, fold the pecans into the frosting.
  5. Assemble the cake: Place 1 cake layer on a cake stand. Using a butter knife, spread 2/3 cup frosting evenly over the top. Place second cake layer atop first one and frost top of it with another 2/3 cup frosting. Repeat with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over the sides of the assembled cake. Serve immediately or wrap loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Orange-Scented Olive Oil Cake
 The Perfect Finish: Special Desserts for Every Occasion by Bill Yosses and Melissa Clark 

  • 2 oranges
  • 2⅓ cups sugar
  • Unsalted butter, for greasing the pan
  • 2½ cups flour, plus more for pan
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice
  • ¼ cup confectioners' sugar
  • Sea salt, for garnish
  1. Trim about ½" from the tops and bottoms of oranges; quarter oranges lengthwise. Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a 4-qt. saucepan; add oranges. Bring water back to a boil; drain. Repeat boiling process twice more with fresh water. Put oranges, 1 cup sugar, and 4 cups water into a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often, until sugar dissolves and orange rind can be easily pierced with a fork, about 30 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let cool to room temperature.
  2. Heat oven to 350°. Grease a 10" round cake pan with butter and dust with flour; line pan bottom with parchment paper cut to fit. Set pan aside. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside. Remove orange quarters from syrup, remove and discard any seeds, and put oranges into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until oranges form a chunky purée, 10 to 12 pulses. Add remaining sugar, reserved flour mixture, vanilla, and eggs and process until incorporated, about 2 minutes. Add olive oil; process until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan; bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes. 
  3. In a small bowl, whisk orange juice and confectioners' sugar to make a thin glaze. Remove cake from pan and transfer to a cake stand or plate. Using a pastry brush, brush orange glaze over top and sides of cake; let cool completely. Garnish cake with salt.

Classic Carrot Cake
Saveur Magazine

  • ¾ cup canola oil, plus more for pan
  • 2 cups flour, plus more for pan
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 3 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups finely grated carrots
  • 1 cup canned crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • Marzipan carrots for garnish
  1. Heat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9" x 13" baking dish; set aside. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; set aside.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together oil, sugar, buttermilk, 2 tsp. vanilla, and eggs; whisk into flour. Stir in carrots, pineapple, nuts, coconut, and raisins. Pour batter into prepared dish; smooth. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Let cool.
  3. In a bowl, beat cream cheese and butter with a hand mixer until smooth. Add remaining vanilla and confectioners' sugar; beat until fluffy. Spread icing over cake; refrigerate. Garnish with marzipan carrots, if using.

Boston Cream Pie
Saveur Magazine

  • 12 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
  • 1½ cups flour, plus more for pan
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • ⅔ cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped and reserved
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1½ cups milk
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 oz. 60-percent bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  1. Make the cake: Heat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9″ round cake pan; set aside. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; set aside. In another bowl, beat butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium-high speed of a hand mixer until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each, until smooth. Alternately add dry ingredients and buttermilk in 3 batches, beginning and ending with dry ingredients; beat until just combined. Pour into pan; smooth top with a rubber spatula. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes, and then invert onto a wire rack; let cool completely.
  2. Make the filling: Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt, and vanilla seeds in a 4-qt. saucepan; add yolks, and whisk until smooth. Stir in milk, and place pan over medium heat; cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and add butter one cube at a time, whisking until smooth; stir in vanilla extract. Transfer pudding to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap; chill until firmed, at least 2 hours.
  3. Make the glaze and assemble cake: Place chocolate in a bowl. Bring cream to a boil in a 1-qt. saucepan over high heat; pour over chocolate and let sit for 1 minute. Slowly stir chocolate and cream until smooth and shiny; set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Using a serrated knife, split cake horizontally into two layers so that the top layer is slightly smaller than the bottom. Spread chilled pudding over cut side of bottom layer and cover with top layer; pour chocolate glaze evenly over cake, letting it drip down the side of the cake. Refrigerate cake until glaze is set, at least 30 minutes. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Happy baking!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Cupcake Tips for Kids!

Happy Monday all! As you can imagine, I had a very busy week, both baking for the holidays and filling cupcake orders. I had a double order for a 3 year old and 6 year old's classroom birthdays. My customer asked for vanilla cake with the option of either chocolate or vanilla frosting. I did a total of 4 dozen cupcakes, alternating the two flavors and sprinkling them with sugar crystals on top. Here's the picture:

So what's my tip, you ask? When it comes to kids remember less is more. Sounds simple but if you think about the average cupcake you buy in a store, it's a small cake with a huuuuuuge mound of frosting on top. This is unnecessary. There are usually only 3 kinds of kids: those that eat frosting only, those that eat cake only, and those that start the whole cupcake but get bored halfway through. Why waste all of that time and energy on mounding on the frosting when your littlest customers won't eat it? If you're not making bite-sized cupcakes, half the amount of frosting you're using per cupcake and you'll save time and money!

Happy baking!