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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Hold the Chocolate on Valentine's Day

It's Thursday, and just one day closer to celebrating that magical holiday with friends, family, and loved ones. Honestly, it's really just an excuse to eat cake, am I right? This Hallmark holiday was made for bakers! Whether or not you actually choose to celebrate this not-really-a-holiday-holiday, let it be your reason to bake something special. My last post was for the chocolate lovers, but this one is for the rest of us! Before we get started, I've been busy in the bakery this week. Check out the photos for a this cupcake request. Not the usual mountain of delicious frosting clouds!                          

Puppy-themed party with
chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, topped
with cream cheese frosting

Sunshine Cake
Watts' Tea Shop

  • 18 large eggs, separated
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1⁄2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Filling and Frosting:
  • 8 large egg yolks, plus 1 1⁄2 cups egg whites
  • 1 1⁄2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1⁄2 cups milk
  • 2 cups softened unsalted butter
  • 3 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups granular sugar
  • 1 1⁄2 cups water
  • 3 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 pinch salt
  1. Make the cake: Heat oven to 350˚. In a mixer with a whisk attachment, beat on high egg whites, 1 cup sugar, cream of tartar, and salt until a medium peak. In a second bowl, beat egg yolks, vanilla, 1⁄2 cup water, and remaining sugar until the mixture turns pale yellow and doubles in volume. Turn mixer on low and slowly add the flour in three parts. Gently fold egg yolk mixture into the egg white mixture in three parts until blended smoothly. Divide mixture between two 10'' ungreased angel food-cake pans and bake for 45 minutes. Let each cake cool upside down, then cut into 3 layers.
  2. Make the filling: In a double boiler, slowly cook egg yolks, powdered sugar, and milk until mixture thickens, then pour into a flash dish to cool thoroughly. Once custard is cooled, cream butter and 1 tsp. vanilla extract with an electric mixer set to high, stopping occasionally to scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula; add custard with the mixer on low until fully blended.
  3. Make the frosting: In a medium saucepan, boil granular sugar and water until the temperature reaches 300˚ and the mixture is a light amber color and has the consistency of corn syrup. With a mixer, beat egg whites, salt and cream of tartar to a soft peaks. Slowly add sugar syrup in a steady stream and 2 tsp. vanilla; whip until cooled.
  4. Assemble the cake by spreading filling between layers and covering with frosting.

Crepes with Strawberries and Muscat-Yogurt Sauce
Nichole Birdsall

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup skim milk
  • 1 large egg
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon Muscat dessert wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 24 strawberries, sliced
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
  1. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the salt. Add the milk, egg and 1 tablespoon of oil and whisk until smooth. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes. In another small bowl, whisk the yogurt, honey, Muscat and zest.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°. Heat an 8-inch nonstick skillet. Rub the pan with an oiled paper towel. Add about 3 tablespoons of the crêpe batter, swirling the pan to coat evenly; pour off any excess. Cook the crêpe over moderate heat until the bottom is brown in spots and the sides are crisp, about 2 minutes. Flip the crêpe and cook for 1 minute longer. Transfer to a baking sheet; repeat to make 7 more crêpes.
  3. Fold the crêpes into quarters and bake until hot, 4 minutes. Place 2 crêpes on each plate. Top with the yogurt sauce and garnish with the strawberries. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve immediately.

Salted Caramel Pots de Creme
Curtis Stone

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 3/4 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • Flake sea salt, such as Maldon, for garnish
  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Place eight 1/2-cup (4-ounce) ovenproof cups, custard cups, or ramekins in a large baking pan.
  2. In a large heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the brown sugar and kosher salt. Using the tip of a small sharp knife, scrape the vanilla seeds from the bean, add to the butter mixture, and drop in the bean too. Stir for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture has the texture of thick sand and has taken on a nutty, caramel fragrance.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and gradually whisk in the cream. The mixture will bubble vigorously and will seize when the cream is added. Whisk for about 5 minutes, or until the hardened sugar bits dissolve and the mixture begins to boil. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the milk.
  4. In a large bowl, stir the egg yolks to blend. Gradually whisk in the warm caramel mixture. Strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a 4-cup liquid measuring cup or a bowl with a spout. Pour the custard into the cups, dividing it equally. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, leaving one corner uncovered. Place the pan in the oven and carefully pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the cups, then cover the open corner with the foil. Bake the custards for about 50 minutes, or until they are just set around the edges but still jiggle slightly when the cups are gently shaken. (Be very careful of escaping steam when you uncover the pan.)
  5. Remove the cups from the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool, about 1 hour. Cover each cup with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours, or up to 2 days.
  6. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over each pot de crème and serve chilled.
Storing: The pots de crème can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.
Finishing Salts: Chefs use different salts for different purposes. "Finishing salts" are not for cooking; rather, they're intended to flavor and add a bit of texture to your food as you're serving it. I am partial to Maldon salt, harvested from the sea near Essex, Britain. It has a pristine white color and very crunchy flakes.

Happy baking!

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