Thursday, December 22, 2011

Snowman Cake

I made this cute cake for my son's preschool holiday party.  I am honestly so proud of it, it took about 6 hours total and turned out just as I had imagined it.  The top tier of the cake was chocolate, bottom was vanilla.  I made the little snowmen out of modeling chocolate, which is a dream to work with.  The snowflakes were cut out of fondant and dusted with luster dust (also completely awesome).

I usually make my own marshmallow fondant, but I used Satin Ice fondant, which actually tasted pretty good, I would definitely use this over Wilton fondant again.  The fondant did start to crack from the pressure of the top tier since I stacked the cake the night before.  I think next time I would transport and then do finishing touches.

The cake was a hit, I actually got more of a reaction from the parents then the kids.  So many lovely compliments, it really made my day and all the effort totally worthwhile.

Happy holidays!!!

Photo courtesy of Studio Six Photography

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Peppermint White Chocolate Meringues

Ah, these are awesome.  They might just be my new favorite Christmas cookie.  Even my husband, who doesn't like meringues, thought these were amazing.  They're a perfect combination of a chewy meringue, white chocolate, and sweet peppermint candy.  We ate the first batch so fast I can't wait to make another. 

I actually don't particularly care for white chocolate these days, but something about the combination of peppermint and white chocolate is delectable.  I dipped these lovely little sweets in a fringe of dark chocolate as well, and let me tell you, they are heaven.  Love love love.

The only thing I did a little differently is I ran the candy canes through my Bullet to make it more of a powder than coarsely crushed.  My teeth don't do well with super crunchy so this was a good solution to make them easier to eat.




White Christmas Dream Drops
from Sunset 
 

2 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tbsp. coarsely crushed peppermint candies (mine were powdery, I ran them through my Bullet)


Preheat oven to 250°. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar in a deep bowl with a mixer, using whisk attachment if you have one, just until soft peaks form. Add vanilla and salt. With motor running and mixer on high speed, pour in 1 tbsp. sugar and beat 10 to 15 seconds, then repeat until all sugar has been added. Scrape inside of bowl and beat another 15 seconds. At this point, meringue should form straight peaks when beaters are lifted. Fold in chocolate chips and 1/3 cup candies with a flexible spatula.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, using a bit of meringue at corners as glue. Using a soup spoon, drop meringue in rounded 1-tbsp. portions slightly apart onto sheets, scraping off with another spoon. Sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tbsp. candies.

Bake until meringues feel dry and set when touched but are still pale, 30 to 35 minutes, switching pan positions halfway through. Turn off oven, open door, and let cookies stand about 10 minutes. Let cool on pans.


If you're feeling like an extra hit of chocolate, dip these in good quality melted chocolate and let dry on the parchment.

Make ahead: Up to 2 days, stored airtight.

Christmas Sugar Cookies

I have an insanely long list of Christmas cookies that I plan to make this holiday season.  I doubt I'll get around to even half of them, but I knew I wanted to make my favorite sugar cookies.  I love decorating cookies, and there is so much inspiration on the Internet.  One of my favorite websites is Glorious Treats.  Her cookies are simply gorgeous.  I have honestly been waiting all year to make her pastel snowflake cookies, and once December arrived these are the first cookies I made.

Decorating sugar cookies isn't hard, but holy smokes is it time consuming.  Set aside several hours for decorating, at least.  If you want to do piping on top of the fill color, you ideally need to wait about six to eight hours for the base to dry.  I use royal icing to do the frosting, using meringue powder.  I sort of go by Wilton's recipe but I find I need to at least double the amount of water, maybe it depends on the powder I'm using.  Consistency is key, so if you've never decorated sugar cookies before check out one of the many excellent online tutorials.


 Tyler and Laura's Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies
from Cafe Blue Ridge

1 C sugar
1C butter, softened
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg yolk
2 C plain flour

In large bowl, use mixer to cream butter with sugar, then cream cheese. Add next 4 ingredients, blending well, then add flour and mix until incorporated. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours, this makes the dough easy to roll. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

On lightly floured surface, roll out dough, one-third at a time, to desired thickness, and cut into shapes with lightly floured cookie cutters. If you really want the cookies to hold their shape, place cookies on a parchment lined cookie sheet and refrigerate for about 20 minutes, then put directly into pre-heated oven.  Depending on the size of your cookies, this recipe makes 4 dozen or so.

Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 10 minutes or so, until they begin to brown lightly at the edges. Cool a few minutes in the pan, then transfer to rack.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Eggnog Cupcakes

If you adore eggnog as I do, you must must MUST make these!  I got the recipe from Bake and Destroy, and quite simply, they rule.  Bursting with eggnog flavor, I made these for my Iron Cupcake Challenge this month.  The cupcakes are moist and buttery rich, and the frosting is to die for.

Do make sure to use freshly ground nutmeg for these.  I never used to get whole nutmeg, but it's so worth the little bit of extra effort to grate it yourself (I use my microplane).  I have pre-ground nutmeg and it doesn't even smell like nutmeg now that I use the fresh stuff.

I added a snowflake sugar cookie on top to go with the winter/holiday theme, and made some cupcake wrappers to finish them off.   Cute, festive, and oh so yummy!



Eggnog Cupcakes
from Bake and Destroy


1 3/4 cups cake flour, not self-rising
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 large eggs
1 cup eggnog
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Preheat your oven to 325 and line two cupcake pans with paper liners. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix all the dry ingredients together. Mix butter pieces in until they’re coated with the flour mixture.
Mix eggs, eggnog and vanilla together in a large glass measuring cup. Add to dry ingredients gradually until mixed. Don’t over mix!
Fill cups 2/3 full and bake 17-22 minutes or until golden brown and the tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool in pans about 5 minutes then cool completely on wire rack.

Eggnog frosting:

2 sticks butter, room temperature
4-6 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup – 1/2 cup eggnog (I used about 1/3 cup to get it to piping consistency)
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch salt


Mix butter and sugar on medium speed. Add nutmeg and salt. Pour in eggnog gradually until frosting is spreadable. Add eggnog and sugar to taste and to desired consistency. Add less eggnog if you plan on piping the frosting on.

Linked to:
Sweets for a Saturday
Mrs Foxs' Sweet Party 
Seasonal Inspirations 
Strut Your Stuff Saturday

Friday, December 2, 2011

Apple Cider Cream Pie

I made this quite a while ago for my supper club.  It was a lovely fall flavored pie and definitely something a little different.  I had some issues with the crust, it got quite over-baked despite covering it with tin foil, but the apple cider vinegar gave it a nice tart flavor anyways.

The reduced apple cider custard filling is amazing, I could have eaten it on it's own.  But with the addition of the lovely cinnamon spiced whipped cream the whole pie is delightful.  The pie does take some time, but if you're looking for a change to the usual holiday pies try this one out!



Apple Cider Cream Pie
from Food and Wine

Crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice and chilled
3 tablespoons cold milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar


Filling:
2 cups apple cider
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 

In a food processor, combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar and salt. Add the butter and pulse in 1-second bursts until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Combine the milk and vinegar and drizzle it on top. Pulse in 1-second bursts until the dough just comes together. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather up any crumbs and pat into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.

On a floured work surface, roll out the dough to an 11-inch round, a scant 1/4 inch thick; ease it into a 9-inch glass or ceramic pie plate. Trim the overhanging dough to 1 inch and fold it under itself. Crimp decoratively and chill the crust until firm, about 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425°. Line the crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake in the lower third of the oven for about 15 minutes, until the crust is barely set. Remove the parchment and pie weights. Cover the edge of the crust with strips of foil and bake for about 15 minutes longer, until the crust is just set but not browned. Press the bottom of the crust lightly to deflate it as it puffs; let cool. Lower the oven temperature to 350°.

In a medium saucepan, boil the cider until it's reduced to 1/2 cup, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool. Whisk in 3/4 cup of the sugar, the sour cream and salt, then whisk in the eggs.
Pour the custard into the pie shell without removing the foil strips. Bake the pie in the lower third of the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until the custard is set around the edge but the center is slightly jiggly. Let the pie cool completely.

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the heavy cream with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and the cinnamon until firmly whipped. Mound the cream on the pie, cut into wedges and serve.
Make Ahead The recipe can be prepared through Step 5 and refrigerated for 2 days. Serve With Baked apple slices.

Linked to:
Sweets for a Saturday
Strut Your Stuff Saturday 
This Week's Craving

Monday, November 21, 2011

Gingerbread with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

I'll admit, when I saw this recipe over on Jam Hands a few months ago I was far more interested in the frosting then the gingerbread.  It looks so ethereal and gorgeous!   I pinned it and just kept waiting for the weather to turn cold enough that it seemed reasonable to make gingerbread.

And finally it's cool (I won't say cold) here in the Bay Area, so I've been making plenty of Autumn treats, this recipe included.  And it's good.  The gingerbread is dark, moist and has a bold molasses flavor which I love far more than the Starbucks version.  It calls for cold tea, and since we're not tea drinkers I just used some English Tea I had on hand.  I'm sure you could get a wide variety of flavors if you choose stronger teas.

And the frosting?  Oh, it did not disappoint.  It is glorious.  I ate so much out of the bowl I should be ashamed of myself.  But I'm not.  :)




Cold Tea Gingerbread with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting
From Jam Hands

Makes one 9" x 5" loaf

1 1/4 cups plus 2 Tbsp. sifted flour
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup cold tea (I used Honey Ginger Peach tea)
1 scant tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. hot water
1 egg, beaten

 Set the oven rack in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350-f degrees. Line the bottom and ends of a 9" x 5" x 3" loaf pan with a single strip of wax paper or parchment paper. Coat the pan and wax paper liner with vegetable spray.

 Mix together flour, ginger, cinnamon, and salt.

Cream butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add molasses and combine.

Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with cold tea. Dissolve baking soda in hot water and add to batter. Add egg and combine thoroughly.

Pour batter into loaf pan. Bake 45 minutes, or until tester inserted into loaf comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Invert pan and place on rack to continue cooling. Serve gingerbread hot with lemon sauce or cold with whipped cream and chipped walnuts. Store loosely covered with wax paper at room temperature.

Gingerbread Source: Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted slightly from Jam Hands

1/2 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1/2 cup white sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

In a small bowl beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form; set aside.
In a large bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla. Beat until smooth, then fold in whipped cream.  I found this required a good deal of folding, so don't worry if after a few minutes it doesn't seem to be combining.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

Okay, time to get back into blogging.  So Fall has yet to really hit us in the Bay Area.  We're still wearing shorts and t-shirts during the days, and summer berries are still making a weekly appearance at our farmer's markets.  I grew up in British Columbia, where I took the change of seasons for granted, and I totally miss it.  Most of the food blogs I follow are in the full swing of Fall baking, and even though it's still summer here I can't resist making all these lovely treats.

I had the idea to make these cupcakes for our first Iron Cupcake Challenge here in the East Bay (more on that later!!).  I wanted to make an apple cupcake with a caramel center, topped with caramel frosting, and finished with a mini caramel apple on top.  I don't know why but I thought other than crab apples that there was such thing as mini apples, but alas I couldn't find any.  Then my Sunset magazine arrived with the most adorable mini caramel apples made using a melon baller.  Brilliant!



Well, making the caramel apples was a bit of a debacle.  The caramel recipe wouldn't really adhere to the apple since it was so damp.  So I gave up and found a similar recipe online using melted butterscotch chips.  Not quite the authentic effect I was going for but cute enough. 



One thing I have to mention is that the caramel sauce I usually make for cupcake fillings didn't quite work out this time.  I trusted my candy thermometer (which broke shortly thereafter) instead of my gut and I ended up with gritty caramel sauce.  I was really annoyed until it hardened up and my husband told me what I made was the center of our favorite See's candy, which is a fudgy textured caramel covered in milk chocolate.  Yay!  I'm going to try and recreate my mistake and hopefully you'll be seeing a caramel candy post soon. :)


Caramel Apple Cupcakes

Caramel Cupcakes
from Magnolia Bakery

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
5 large eggs, at room temp
1 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups coarsely chopped, peeled, crisp tart apples

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line 24 muffin tins with liners (note: this makes more than 24 cupcakes, but most people I know don't have an oven large enough to fit more than two 12 muffin tins so you may need to do this in batches).
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, on med speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth.  Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with milk and vanilla.  With each addition, beat until ingredients are incorporated, but do not over beat.  Using a rubber spatula, scrape down sides making sure ingredients are well blended.  Stir in apples.
Divide the batter into tins, filling each about 3/4 full.  Using a large ice cream scoop makes this easy peasy.  Bake for 22 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.  After about 5 minutes remove to a wire rack to cool.

Caramel Sauce for Filling
from Martha Stewart

2 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon salt (if you like salted caramel increase this to at least 1 1/2 teaspoons)

Heat sugar with the water and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan over high, stirring occasionally, until syrup is clear; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan and stop stirring.

Cook until syrup comes to a boil, washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush as needed. Boil, gently swirling pan occasionally, until mixture is caramelized and just reaches 360°F. Remove from heat and slowly pour in cream; stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in sea salt.

Use immediately; if caramel begins to harden reheat gently until pourable.

Caramel Buttercream Frosting
from Bakers Royale  (this website is all kinds of awesome)

½ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons of heavy cream
½ teaspoons of kosher salt
1 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
11/2 cup powdered sugar


To make the caramel portion: Add sugar and water into a saucepan over medium low heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Use a wet brush to remove any crystals that form on the side. Once sugar has dissolved increase heat to high. Now and then, using the handle give the pot a swirl to keep the mixture moving. Do not stir the mixture directly. The mixture will start to bubble after a minute. As the mixture darkens to a medium amber color, approximately 5-7 minutes add the 2 tablespoons of  butter and cream to saucepan. The mixture will bubble wildly. Whisk to combine (bubbles will subside upon cooling). Add salt and stir to combine. Set aside to cool completely before adding it to the next step.
Finishing the caramel buttercream frosting: Place butter and vanilla in a bowl and beat on high until butter is pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Turn mixer speed down to medium and add powdered sugar ½ cup at a time. Beat until combined. 3. Add in  caramel sauce and beat until combined.


Mini Caramel Apples
from Sunset Magazine 


3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
About 1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup decorative mini orange candies
2 large red apples

About 20 slender but sturdy food-safe twigs, such as magnolia twigs, or craft sticks
1. Heat corn syrup, sugar, butter, and 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. cream in a 3-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat until mixture reaches 275° on a candy thermometer*, about 15 minutes, stirring often with the thermometer or a wooden spoon once it starts to brown. While caramel boils, prepare the remaining ingredients (you'll need to have everything ready before beginning step 3).
2. Grease a baking sheet and set aside. Put nuts, chocolate chips, and candies on individual plates and set aside. Using a 1-in. melon baller, cut apples into balls (you should get 8 to 10 from each apple). Push thickest end of a twig into each apple ball through skin side to center. Set on paper towels to absorb moisture.
3. Remove caramel from heat when at 275° and pour in remaining 1/4 cup cream, stirring until very smooth (it will come together after about 1 minute) and being careful of any splattering caramel.
4. Dip apple balls into caramel, making sure caramel comes over edges of skin and letting excess drip off. Dip bottom of each ball into either nuts, chocolate chips, or candies, then set on the baking sheet to cool.
*You'll need an accurate candy thermometer. Check it by immersing in boiling water; it should read 212°. If it's a few degrees too high or low, cook the caramel to a corresponding few degrees more or less. If it's way off, get a new thermometer.
Make ahead: Chill until ready to serve, up to 3 hours ahead. Serve at room temperature.

Linked to:
Sweet Treats Thursday

Monday, October 17, 2011

Peach Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting

Sorry for my lack of posts lately, I have a lot of stuff going on right now.  I still have loads of posts from the summer so here's an old one that I never got around to posting.  Peaches may not be in season for most of us anymore, but you could easily use canned peaches.

I made these luscious peach cupcakes for my birthday back at the end of August.  I used the pineapple cupcake recipe from Glorious Treats and subbed diced peaches in for the pineapple.  These were super moist and had a lovely fresh taste.  I had no idea what kind of frosting to use and my husband suggested brown sugar.  Brilliant!  The frosting was a little crunchy from the brown sugar and was a nice contrast to the ultra moist cupcakes.  A quick disclaimer:  I can't remember the exact measurements I used for the frosting so the recipe below might not be precise.  Frosting is one of the easiest things to make and fix so just adjust either the confectioner's sugar or heavy cream to get the consistency you're looking for.

I served these at my birthday potluck with a bunch of old friends, and they were a hit.  I actually got so many lovely compliments on them, I was truly flattered.  Maybe the idea of one day opening a bakery isn't so crazy after all. :)





Peach Cupcakes
adapted from Glorious Treats

2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups diced peaches, the juicier the better

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs and sugar until slightly thickened and a light cream color (about 2 minutes).

On low speed, mix in the oil and vanilla until blended.  Add in the peaches and sour cream and mix until fully incorporated.  Add the flour mixture and blend until just combined and smooth.

Line a 2 cupcake pans with paper liners and fill about 2/3 full. I find that using a large ice cream scoop is the ticket to perfectly portioned cupcakes

Bake cupcakes in a pre-heated 350*F oven for about 22 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

Brown Sugar Frosting

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
4 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar


Cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the confectioners' sugar 1/2 cup at a time, alternating with the cream.  Beat until light and fluffy.  If it isn't the consistency you want, add more cream to make it runnier, and more confectioner's sugar to firm it up.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Snake Birthday Cake


I made this cake for a little boy's 5th birthday party today.  It's the biggest cake I've made, a 12 X 18 sheet cake, two layers of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, serving 60 people.  I was so pleased with the way the snakes came out, the big snake is made out of two mini bundt cakes and covered in fondant.  The little snakes and letters are all fondant.  Cute, no? :)


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Sweet Little Bird Baby Shower

My dear friend Jessica is expecting her second little boy any day now, and my friend Helen and I recently threw her an intimate baby shower in my backyard.  I LOVE throwing any kind of party, and Jessica kindly agreed to let me share the details with you.  :)

We made the invitations, nothing fancy, but cute:


Plenty of sweet treats of course:





Brioche Recipe
Recipe coming soon




I made the cupcake wrappers, they're super easy and it makes it easy to coordinate your party.  Find the instructions here.



The Wishing Tree: guests could leave wishes for the new baby



We invited guests to decorate a onsie for the new baby:




Me and the glowing mama-to-be:



Congrats Jessica!!!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Chocolate Banana Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting

My darling husband bought me a huge Wilton cake decorating caddy for my birthday this year.  I have no idea what half of the tools are for, but I love to experiment.  I made these cupcakes for my friend's baby shower that I co-hosted a few weeks ago.  I usually use a large star tip to pipe frosting onto cupcakes but I wanted to try something a little different (these are made with the small petal tip).  I had seen this on another blog and thought they looked so pretty.  Not bad for a first attempt, right?


The cupcakes were delicious, I got the recipe from Joy of Baking, and they were moist and had lots of cocoa flavor.  There isn't a lot of banana in the recipe so it wasn't too overpowering.  The frosting was awesome, and even better the next day when each petal had gotten that crisp sugar texture.  I made the cupcake wrappers from a tutorial on Cupcake Project, it was super easy and I thought they looked quite pretty.  Thanks for visiting!




Chocolate Banana Cupcakes
from Joy of Baking.com 

1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar
1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (35 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (regular or Dutch-processed)
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 1 medium sized banana)
1/2 cup (120 ml) warm water
1/4 cup (60 ml) milk
1/4 cup (60 ml) canola, corn, or vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in the center of the oven. Line 12 regular-sized muffin cups with paper liners or spray each cup with a non stick vegetable spray.
In a large bowl whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In another large bowl, whisk together the egg, mashed banana, water, milk, oil, and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir, or whisk, until combined. (The batter is quite thin.) Pour or scoop the batter into the muffin cups, about 3/4 full, and bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  
Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.

Strawberry Frosting

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
1- 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons pureed strawberries (approximately ½ cup whole)


Combine butter and confectioner’s sugar in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on low speed for about 1 minute, or until the butter and sugar come together (it will start off quite crumbly).  Add the whipping cream and beat on high speed until the frosting becomes light and fluffy, approximately 2 minutes.  Add the strawberries and beat until combined.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Mocha Cream Icebox Cake

You know you're behind on your blogging when you have pictures of desserts and you have no idea what they are.  Anyways...

I made this delicious and super easy icebox cake when I was in Canada this summer.  Icebox cakes look and taste impressive but are insanely easy to make.  I found this one of my favorite blogs, Sugar Bananas.  It's creamy, mochalicious, and just a little bit boozy.  Perfect for a hot summer's day.   I cheated and used store-bought chocolate wafers, but come on, I was on vacation. :)  I also used cream cheese instead of marscapone, which we couldn't seem to easily find.  The hardest part of this was waiting until company arrived to cut a slice!



Mocha Cream Icebox Cake
adapted very slightly from Sugar Bananas


2 cups cold heavy cream
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup coffee liqueur
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon espresso powde
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
24 oz thin chocolate cookies 
Shaved semisweet chocolate, for garnish


Combine heavy cream, cream cheese, sugar, coffee liquer, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and vanilla in bowl of electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment.  Mix on low speed to combine and then raise the speed until firm peaks are formed.

Arrange cookies on bottom of an 8" springform pan to cover the bottom.  Spread a third of the mocha cream evenly over the cookies.  Layer more cookies on top, followed by another third of the cream.  Continue once more, ending with the cream.  Smooth the top, cover with plastic, and refrigerate for 8 hours.  

Run a small knife around the outside of the cake and remove the sides of the pan.  Sprinkle the top with the chocolate, cut in wedges, and serve cold.

Linked to:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Caramel Filled Caramel Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

I had the pleasure of making cupcakes for our friends/neighbor's son's third birthday.  I love when people request cupcakes above and beyond vanilla and chocolate, they're so much fun to make and eat.  I'm all about tasty cupcake fillings, and what better filling for caramel cupcakes than more caramel.  Seriously, can you ever have too much caramel?

I had some trouble finding an actual recipe for caramel cake, most of the cakes just use brown sugar instead of white, or a mixture.  Finally I found this recipe from Shuna fish Lydon which uses a caramel syrup in the batter.  The cake didn't have the strongest caramel flavor and would have been completely overpowered by the chocolate frosting, so the filling definitely added to the caramel deliciousness.  I used a standard chocolate frosting recipe, and it came out nice and fluffy, perfect for piping.  Some colored sprinkles were a must for this sweet boy's birthday celebration!






Caramel Cake
from Shuna fish Lydon
(adapted to make cupcakes)
 
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup caramel syrup (recipe follows)
2  large eggs, room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line 24 muffin tins with cupcake liners.  Sift together flour and baking powder.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth.
Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.  Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl.  Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.

Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time.  Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dries.

Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds. making sure batter is uniform.
Fill the cupcake liners about 3/4 of the way full.  I actually found the recipe made about 18 cupcakes per batch, but you could probably fill the tins a bit less full and get more.  Bake for approximately 22 minutes.  Let cool for about 5 minutes and then remove cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.


Caramel Syrup

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water for "stopping"

In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand.  Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush.  Turn heat on high.  Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.

When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter, it is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and prepared to step back.  Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly (about 5 minutes).

Caramel Sauce for Filling
from Martha Stewart

2 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon salt (if you like salted caramel increase this to at least 1 1/2 teaspoons)

Heat sugar with the water and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan over high, stirring occasionally, until syrup is clear; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan and stop stirring.

Cook until syrup comes to a boil, washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush as needed. Boil, gently swirling pan occasionally, until mixture is caramelized and just reaches 360°F. Remove from heat and slowly pour in cream; stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in sea salt.

Use immediately; if caramel begins to harden reheat gently until pourable.

Chocolate Frosting

2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tablespoons butter, softened to room temp
5 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, sift together the confectioners' sugar and cocoa, and set aside.
In a large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth, then gradually beat in sugar mixture alternately with whipping cream. Blend in vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. 


Assembly

To finish, use a paring knife to cut a cone-shaped piece (about 1/2 inch deep) from the center of each cupcake and throw away the pieces (or eat them). Spoon 1 to 2 teaspoons warm Salted Caramel Filling into each hollowed-out cupcake. You will notice the caramel will sink into the cupcake a little, just fill it up a bit more.  Make sure the caramel is completely cool before you pipe over your frosting or it will probably start to melt your frosting.

Use a pastry bag with a medium open-star tip and pipe chocolate frosting onto each cupcake, swirling tip and releasing as you pull up to form a peak. Garnish each cupcake with a pinch of sea salt. Cupcakes are best eaten the day they are filled and frosted. Store at room temperature in airtight containers - do NOT refrigerate.

Linked to:
Sweets for a Saturday
Sweet Indulgences Sunday

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pink Layer Cake with Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting

My sweet little Ellis was baptized while we were home in Canada, so of course I wanted to make a fancy cake for her party afterward.  I had seen this gorgeous idea for a pink layer cake on Martha's website a few months ago, and what better for a darling little girl than a completely pink cake?



I had intended for the entire cake to be covered in roses, but after frosting the top I knew there was no way I had enough and I didn't have time to make more.  I still think it turned out pretty cute.  The cake itself is pretty dense, but tasty nonetheless.


I got quite a few complients on the frosting, I used my favorite recipe from Glorious Treats, but subbed in some raspberry flavoring which I got from the Gourmet Warehouse in Vancouver.  Which by the way, if you live there it is such an awesome source for all things baking.





Pink Layer Cake

3 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans and parchment
6 1/2 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising), plus more for pans and parchment
3 tablespoons baking powder
Salt
2 1/4 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups sugar
10 large egg whites
Gel-paste food coloring
2 recipes raspberry cream cheese frosting (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter five 8-inch round cake pans, and line with parchment (you may need to bake in batches). Butter parchment, and dust with flour, tapping out excess. Sift flour, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt into a large bowl. Combine milk and vanilla. Beat butter with a mixer on medium speed until very smooth. With machine running, gradually add sugar, and beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Beat until just combined; do not overmix.
Beat egg whites in a clean mixer bowl on medium speed until stiff (but not dry) peaks form, about 3 minutes. Gently fold egg-white mixture into batter in 3 additions.
Divide batter among 5 bowls, and tint each with food coloring to create different pastel shades. Spread each into a prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely in pans on wire racks.
Loosen edges of cake with a small metal spatula or paring knife; invert onto racks. Discard parchment. Reinvert cakes, top side up. Let cool completely.

Trim top of each cake to make surface even. Spread 1 cup frosting onto top of 1 cake. Top with another cake. Repeat, spreading 1 cup frosting between each layer. Frost cake with about 1 cup of frosting to create a crumb coat.  Basically this should be a very thin layer of frosting that will help to seal in the cake and act as a base for your roses.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Frost the sides of the cake with about 1 1/2 cups of frosting.  To create roses use a large open star tip and pipe frosting in circles, starting in the center.  Place raspberries around the bottom of the cake.  Et voila!

Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted slightly from Glorious Treats

½ cup (1 stick/8 Tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (always use pure vanilla extract if possible)
1 1/2 teaspoons raspberry flavoring
4 cups powdered confectioners sugar
1 Tablespoon heavy cream, heavy whipping cream or milk

Place butter in a large mixing bowl and blend until smooth. Add cream cheese and blend until well combined, about 30 seconds.
Add vanilla extract, raspberry flavoring and powdered sugar (1 cup at a time) and blend on low speed until combined. Increase to medium speed and beat until it begins to get fluffy.
Slowly add the heavy cream.
Beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Samoas Cupcakes

I'll be honest here, I don't really like Girl Scout cookies.  But the flavor combinations are brilliant.  Especially Samoas.  Chocolate, caramel, and coconut, what could be better?  I had seen different versions on the samoas cupcake on several blogs, and while on vacation in August I had plenty of time for baking and plenty of people to bake for so I thought I would finally give these a go.

If you love the three main flavors in samoas you will ADORE these cupcakes.  They were simply scrumptious, and looked pretty impressive to if I do say so myself.  I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe, and the salted caramel buttercream frosting from Bakers Royale.  I topped the cupcakes off with some toasted coconut and drizzled chocolate (wonderful ideas also from Bakers Royale).  Much better than the cookies. ;)



Samoas Cupcakes

Chocolate Cake
from allrecipes.com


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 cup butter
1 cup water
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line 24 cupcake tins with liners.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Beat in the sour cream and eggs. Set aside. Melt the butter on low in a saucepan, add the water and 5 tablespoons cocoa. Bring mixture to a boil then remove from heat. Allow to cool slightly, then stir cocoa mixture into the egg mixture, mixing until blended.

Scoop batter into lined cupcake tins, about 3/4 full. Bake in the preheated oven for about 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 
Let cool for about 5 minutes and then remove each cupcake to a wire rack to cool completely.  

Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting
from Bakers Royale

½ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons of heavy cream
½ teaspoons of kosher salt
1 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
11/2 cup powdered sugar


To make the caramel portion: Add sugar and water into a saucepan over medium low heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Use a wet brush to remove any crystals that form on the side. Once sugar has dissolved increase heat to high. Now and then, using the handle give the pot a swirl to keep the mixture moving. Do not stir the mixture directly. The mixture will start to bubble after a minute. As the mixture darkens to a medium amber color, approximately 5-7 minutes add the 2 tablespoons of  butter and cream to saucepan. The mixture will bubble wildly. Whisk to combine (bubbles will subside upon cooling). Add salt and stir to combine. Set aside to cool completely before adding it to the next step.
Finishing the caramel buttercream frosting: Place butter and vanilla in a bowl and beat on high until butter is pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Turn mixer speed down to medium and add powdered sugar ½ cup at a time. Beat until combined. 3. Add in  caramel sauce and beat until combined.
Toasted Coconuts
½ cup of sweetened coconut

Spread coconut on baking pan and place in an oven set to 350 degrees F for 5-7 minutes or until shreds start to turn light brown.  Stir coconut around once to ensure even toasting.

Chocolate Drizzle
¼ cup milk chocolate
Melt chocolate carefully in the microwave or in a pot set over simmering water.  To drizzle I pour the melted chocolate into a zip lock bag and cut a tiny hole in the bottom.

Assembly

Pipe the frosting onto each cooled cupcake.  Top with cooled toasted coconut and drizzle with milk chocolate.  Enjoy!  

Linked to:
Sweet Indulgences Sunday
Melt in Your Mouth Monday

Monday, September 5, 2011

Homemade S'mores

Hi all!  We're back from our lovely vacation visiting family and friends in BC.  It was so great to see so many people that we haven't seen for a couple years.  I'm actually feeling a little homesick still, even after being gone since 2005.

But let's get back to business.  I made these s'mores before we left, using my homemade marshmallows and graham crackers.  First let me tell you that when made over a fire (we made ours over a fire bowl in our backyard) these don't look anything like they're pictured below.  But they're oh so good.  Rather than roasting the marshmallow and then building your s'mores sandwich you compile the entire thing, wrap it in foil and roast.  So you end up with an ooey gooey delectable treat. 

If you don't want to bother with making the marshmallows and crackers (but you'll be glad if you do) these would still be delightful with store bought ingredients.  If you are going camping you can make these packets up beforehand and have s'mores any old time you feel like it. 



Ultimate S'mores
from Sunset Magazine


Vegetable oil
Homemade Graham Crackers
4 bars (3.5 oz. each) dark chocolate with almonds (such as Lindt), each broken into 3 pieces
Homemade Marshmallows
Fold 12 sheets of foil, each 12 by 20 in., in half crosswise; then oil tops. Center 1 graham cracker on each oiled doubled sheet, then top with a chocolate piece, marshmallow, and another cracker. Gently fold foil over s'mores and crimp to seal.

 Heat packets on a cooking grate over glowing coals in a campfire or on a grill over medium heat (about 350°), turning often just until chocolate softens, 2 to 3 minutes. Or, using tongs, grasp packets on sides and heat over a low fire.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Vanilla Marshmallows

Sorry for the lack of posts lately, I'm in Canada visiting family and friends right now.  I'm actually doing loads of baking while on vacation (you know you love to bake when...) so expect some fun delicious posts in the upcoming weeks! :)

I have wanted to make marshmallows for a while.  I love the "artisan" marshmallows that you can buy at specialty stores, they're so much more flavorful than grocery store marshmallows without that funny chemical taste.  But they're not exactly cheap, I think Williams Somoma had a small box for $15 last time I checked.  Seriously?

So these were super easy to make and delicious.  I was a little hesitant to feed it to the kids because I don't know how heated the egg whites get from the hot candy mixture.  Anyone know?  For myself I could care less and these tasted fantastic in s'mores.  I envision making marshmallow chocolate caramels in the very near future!



Homemade Marshmallows
from Sunset Magazine

Cooking-oil spray
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup powdered sugar
3 large egg whites
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Coat a 9- by 13-in. pan with cooking-oil spray. Stir cornstarch and powdered sugar together in a large bowl, then dust pan with half of mixture, tipping to coat. Set remaining cornstarch mixture aside.
2. Put egg whites in the large bowl of a mixer. Stir 1/4 cup cool water and the gelatin in a glass measuring cup; let stand to soften while you make syrup.
3. Stir granulated sugar, corn syrup, and 2/3 cup water in a small saucepan. Insert a candy thermometer. Boil over high heat, tipping pan occasionally to cover thermometer bulb, until 240°, 6 to 10 minutes. Immediately microwave gelatin mixture until it dissolves, about 30 seconds, and also beat egg whites on high speed into soft peaks. Stir steaming gelatin into hot syrup.
4. Pour about 3 tbsp. syrup at a time into egg whites (stop mixer if needed to keep syrup from flying up onto inside of bowl), beating on high speed 20 to 30 seconds after each addition. Continue to beat until meringue holds soft peaks and underside of bowl is completely cool, 5 to 7 minutes. Beat in vanilla.
5. Spread marshmallow mixture in coated pan, using an oiled metal spatula. Let stand until firm enough to cut, 2 hours. Sprinkle with 2 tbsp. reserved cornstarch mixture, then cut with a pizza cutter or scissors into 12 rectangles to fit graham crackers; you may have leftover marshmallows.
6. Toss marshmallows in bowl with remaining cornstarch mixture to coat.
Make ahead: Up to 4 days, chilled airtight with plastic wrap between layers; coat with more cornstarch mixture if they get sticky.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Graham Crackers

Every once in a while I see a post for homemade graham crackers, and I think to myself "why bother?".  I was reminded again this weekend, that if it's made from scratch it's usually a million times better than out of a box, and these little babies are no exception.

They're more like a honey shortbread cookie rather than a cracker, and mmm boy are they good.  I made them for a s'mores recipe and my kids and husband were all over them.  They're quick to make, crispy, buttery, with a warm taste of honey.  I don't think I'll ever buy graham crackers again.




Homemade Graham Crackers
from Sunset Magazine

3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt


Beat butter, sugars, and honey in a large bowl with a mixer until smooth. In another bowl, mix dry ingredients. Add to butter mixture and beat until blended.

Divide dough in half and roll each half between 2 sheets of parchment paper into an even 10- by 12-in. rectangle. Slide each set onto a baking sheet and freeze until firm, about 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 300°.

Pull off top parchment. Cut dough on pans into 2 1/2- by 4-in. rectangles. Bake until deep golden brown, 13 to 18 minutes; swap pans halfway through. Cut crackers again on lines.

 Let crackers cool on pans 2 to 3 minutes. Separate pieces and transfer to cooling racks.
Make ahead: Up to 1 week, airtight; or freeze up to 2 months.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Turtle Layer Cake

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 Sometimes you're just in the mood for cake. Well, I'm always in the mood for cake, but last weekend I was also in the mood for caramel and chocolate. And so I made a turtle cake.

I read on a blog that baking super thin cake layers reduces the dome that often occurs, but that definitely wasn't true for this recipe. Instead of having two domed cakes to trim I had four. Not a huge deal since I snacked on the scraps until dessert, but it took extra time since I only two pans of each size. I also used some leftover salted caramel for the caramel drizzle, which my husband said was a bit much.  I actually liked it but I'm a total salt addict so you may want to adapt according to your taste.  I also used salted pecan pieces so that might have something to do with it.

I was really pleased with the flavor of this cake, the buttercream is like silk but it absolutely must be at room temp when served.  There is a boatload of butter in it (3 sticks!) and if it is even a little cold it hardens up. 



Turtle Layer Cake
Makes 4 layer 6-inch round cake

1 recipe chocolate cake, recipe below
1 recipe caramel buttercream, recipe below
1 recipe salted caramel sauce, recipe below
1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans, can be salted or not depending on your preference

For the cake layers:
Chocolate Cake
from allrecipes.com

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 cup butter
1 cup water
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Butter two 6 inch round pans.  Cut parchment to fit into the bottoms and butter the parchment.  Dust with flour and tap out the excess.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Beat in the sour cream and eggs. Set aside. Melt the butter on low in a saucepan, add the water and 5 tablespoons cocoa. Bring mixture to a boil then remove from heat. Allow to cool slightly, then stir cocoa mixture into the egg mixture, mixing until blended.
Pour batter into prepared pans . Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Let cool for about 10-15 minutes and then run a small knife around the side to unmold.  Turn out onto a rack and cool completely.  Once it is cool use a long serrated knife to cut each layer in half, giving you four layers.  If the tops have domed trim them so they are relatively flat.

For the caramel buttercream:
From Martha Stewart

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup heavy cream
12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Bring 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar and the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Wash sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming. Cook, undisturbed, until caramel is dark amber. Remove from heat, and slowly add cream, stirring with a wooden spoon until smooth. Let cool.
Beat butter with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
Place whites and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer.
Remove from heat, and attach bowl to a mixer. Whisk on medium speed for 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high, and whisk until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 6 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, and add beaten butter, cup at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in vanilla.

Switch to paddle attachment. With mixer on low speed, add caramel, and beat until smooth, 3 to 5 minutes.

For the caramel sauce:
From David Lebovitz

Rich Caramel Sauce
slightly adapted from David Lebovitz 

1/2 cup unsalted or salted butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Fleur de Sel

In a large saucepan or a Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat.  Add the sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar begins to caramelize, then turns dark amber in colour and begins to foam a bit (it should smell and look like it's just on the verge of burning).  Remove from heat and slowly and carefully add in the cream (the mixture will bubble vigorously), whisking constantly until all of the cream is added.
Return the pan to med-low heat and stir until the sauce is smooth, about 1 minute.(this took about 5 minutes for me).  Then stir in vanilla and salt. 
Remove from the heat and allow to cool, then taste, and add more salt, if desired.

Assemble the Cake:
Place the first cake layer on a plate or cake round.  Place pieces of parchment underneath the cake so when you're frosting you don't have to worry about getting the plate covered in frosting, just pull out the parchment when you're done.

Put about 1/4 cup frosting on the first cake layer and smooth with an offset spatula.  Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of chopped toasted pecans over the layer.  Then drizzle with caramel sauce.  Repeat for the next two layers.  Once you've put the last layer on top, do a crumb coating if you have time.  This is basically putting a very thin layer of frosting on to seal in any stray crumbs from your final buttercream coating.  With buttercream frosting I like to stick the cake in the fridge for at least 1/2 hour to firm up the crumb coat.  Then slather on the rest of the frosting.  I bought a frosting smoother from Ateco, you just dip it in hot water, shake off the excess, and it smooths the frosting quite nicely.  A bench scraper also works.

Top with more pecans and a final drizzle of caramel sauce.  Enjoy!!

Linked to:
Sweets for a Saturday

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Blueberry Crisp

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Even though it's only August, I'm already thinking about all the lovely fall and winter recipes I want to make.  Gingerbread cakes, pumpkin bars, caramel apple pies.  But this week I decided to try and focus on summer fruit desserts, so I started with this recipe for blueberry crisp my niece gave to me. 

It's different from any other crisp recipes that I've tried since it uses cornmeal and almonds in the topping.  Heaven!  The almonds add a nice crunchy texture and the cornmeal gives it a heartier flavor.  I served it warm with some vanilla bean ice cream.  It was a really easy dessert to put together and I thought it looked cute in the ramekins.  :)


Blueberry Crisp
from the Food Network

For the Topping:

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the baking dish
1/2 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup chopped almonds (I used toasted slivered almonds)

For the Filling:

4 cups blueberries
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 2-quart shallow baking dish or eight 6-ounce ramekins (if you are using ramekins, double the filling).

Make the topping: Whisk the cornmeal, flour, brown sugar and salt in a bowl. Stir in the almonds. Work in the butter with your fingers until evenly moistened.

Make the filling: Toss the blueberries, granulated sugar, flour and lemon juice in a bowl.

Transfer the filling to the prepared dish or ramekins and dot with 2 tablespoons butter. Squeeze handfuls of the crumble mixture and scatter on top of the fruit. Bake until golden and bubbly, 40 to 45 minutes.

Let sit 10 minutes before serving. Top with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.

Linked to:
Sweet Treats Thursday
Sweet Tooth Friday 
Sweets for a Saturday
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