Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Coffee Macarons

I told my husband last week that I intended to make macarons over the long weekend and he groaned and said "ugh, you're always so cranky when you make macarons".  Well, that usually may be true but not this time, I had sweet macaron success!  Okay, some of the tops were a little hollow and one batch still looked like little boobs, but otherwise these ones are keepers.  I made vanilla macarons with my sister during Christmas and they turned out lovely, but since then the macaron has eluded me.

In the past few months I had tried raspberry macarons (fail), chocolate macarons (huge fail), and vanilla again (turned out mediocre).  What was I doing wrong?  If you've made macarons before, you know that the slightest little thing can ruin the entire pastry.  My discovery this weekend?  Don't use carton egg whites.  I had some pastureized egg whites that I had tried to whip up the night before for some frozen lemon souffles (more on that later), I cranked my kitchen aid and they simply woudln't get past soft peaks.  I had plans to make macarons the next day and had some leftover egg whites from making lemon curd so I used those instead.  I could immediately see the difference when I piped them.  Another thing I did differently was go by weight rather than measurement. 

I used a coffee buttercream from my favorite UK blog The Art of Being Perfect (go check out her blog for some of the most creative macarons I have ever seen!), and they turned out quite delectrable.  Yay me! ;)

Coffee Macarons
from I Love Macarons

2 teaspoons instant coffee, finely ground
2/3 cup (3 ounces/85 grams) almond powder
1 1/2 cups (5.25 ounces/150 grams) powdered sugar
3 large (90 grams) egg whites, at room temp
5 tablespoons/65 grams granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean

1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.  Draw 1-inch circles on the paper, spacing them at least 1/2 inch apart.  This pattern will be your guide for squeezing out the macaron batter
2. In a food processor, process the instant coffee and almonds with the confectioners’ sugar until well blended. Sift the mixture through a medium-mesh sieve into a bowl twice.  Set aside. 
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed until foamy. Very gradually add the granulated sugar and beat until stiff and glossy. Add the vanilla and stir lightly.
4. Add half of the sifted almond mixture and fold it in with a spatula. Add the remaining almond mixture and mix it in a light circular motion. Once the almond mixture is just combined, press and spread out the batter against the side of the bowl. Scoop the batter from the bottom of the bowl and turn it upside down. Repeat this motion about 15 times (no more, no less). When the batter becomes nicely firm and drips slowly as you scoop it with the spatula, it is ready to be piped.
5. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Note: this is the temp recommended by the cookbook I Heart Macarons, but as I mentioned some of my macarons had hollow tops.  Xiaolu from the blog 6Bittersweets suggested I might try a lower temp, around 300 next time.  
Fit a pastry bag with a .4-inch plain tip (Ateco #4). Scrape the batter into the bag. Pipe out 1-inch rounds of batter onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them ½ inch apart. Rap the baking sheet firmly against the counter. Dry the batter at room temperature, uncovered, for at least 15 minutes, I did 30 minutes though. The batter circles should not stick to your finger when you touch them. If they do, let them dry a little longer.
6. Stack the baking sheet with the macarons on it on another baking sheet. Place both sheets, stacked, in the oven and bake the macarons for 15-18 minutes, until slightly crisp (they will crisp more upon cooling). Cool completely on a wire rack.

For the Coffee Buttercream:

100g butter, softened
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
1tbsp instant coffee
2 tbsp hot water

Cream the butter and add half the powdered sugar. Mix well.  Dissolve the coffee granules in the hot water and cool before adding to the butter mixture along with the vanilla extract, mix to combine. Add the remainder of the sugar until you reach your desired consistency (you may need more or less). 

Fill a piping bag, pipe buttercream onto half of your macaron shells and sandwich them together with a plain shell.

Linked to:

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Dutch Baby Pancake

Pancakes are a weekend staple in our house, but once in a while I like to make something a little different.  I remember my Mom making Dutch babies once on occasion when I was growing up and I remember them being quite tasty.  They're basically an oven skillet pancake, heavy on the eggs, light on the flour.  Perfect with some butter melted on top and warm maple syrup.

If you're feeding a crowd, you'll probably want to make two batches, one Dutch baby barely feeds my husband, toddler, baby, and me.  I think these would be a perfect addition to a nice weekend brunch with some fresh fruit and whipped cream.  I just whizzed up the ingredients in my Magic Bullet, poured in the buttered skillet, and baked for 20 minutes.  When it comes out it's all golden and puffy (it does fall quickly), very impressive for something that is so easy to make!

Dutch Baby Pancake
from Martha Stewart 

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3 large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a medium cast-iron or ovenproof nonstick skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat; set aside.
In a blender, combine eggs, milk, flour, salt, vanilla, an  sugar. Blend until foamy, about 1 minute. Pour batter into skillet; bake until pancake is puffed and lightly browned, about 20 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Linked to:
Melt in Your Mouth Monday
Sweet Tooth Friday 
Sweets for a Saturday

Raspberry Peach Jam

If you had told me ten years ago that I would be all exciting about doing some canning this year I would have laughed at you.  I don't know if it's having kids, getting older, or having a small garden that might potentially bear some fruits and veggies this year, but I am all about being domestic lately.  So when I read an article on canning/preserving in a magazine recently I decided to get started.

My Mom did canning throughout my childhood, but like most kids I totally took for granted how cool it was that we could eat delicious things made of fruits and veggies from our own yard year-round.  Now we don't have any of the fruit trees or massive garden that I did growing up, but luckily there's Costco and the Farmer's Market.

My first canning project was raspberry peach jam, and it is delicious!  Full of gorgeous raspberry flavor, the peach seems to cut the tartness a bit.  My husband confessed after I bought a boatload of raspberries from Costco that he doesn't really like them that much.  Um.  But he really enjoys this jam since the peach actually doesn't get entirely overpowered by the raspberry.

Making jam is really quite simple, and I'm super exciting to stash these jars away and crack them open on a dreary winter's day.

Raspberry Peach Jam
from Taste of Home 

2 2/3 cups peeled and finely chopped peaches
1 1/2 cups crushed fresh or frozen raspberries
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

In a Dutch oven combine all ingredients.  Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved and mixture is bubbly, about 10 minutes.  Bring to a full rolling boil; boil for 15 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, skim off foam.

Carefully ladle hot mixture into hot half-pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles, wipe rims, and adjust lids.  Process for 15 minutes in a boiling water canner.

Linked to:
Melt in Your Mouth Monday
Sweet Tooth Friday

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Car Cookie Pops

I wanted to do a special cupcake topper for my son's 3rd birthday a few months ago, and thought I would try my hand at some car cookie pops.  I was pretty nervous making these since I'm not exactly an artist, but I think they turned out pretty darn cute.  The kids loved them, and we also gave them away as party favors.

I used my favorite sugar cookie recipe, and a recipe for royal icing using meringue powder.  I have never worked with royal icing before, but it make decorating the cookies fairly easy.  I won't lie, these took FOREVER and there were plenty of cookies that didn't make the cut.  The main thing to remember is that consistency with the icing is key.  If it's too runny your designs will all run together, too thick and it won't even out and dry with a nice finish.

I followed this tutorial from Sweetapolita for making the cookie pops, and then used a variety of tips and tricks on decorating with royal icing from Sweetopia.  I love checking out both these blogs, their cookies and cakes are simply gorgeous! 

Photo by Jamie Lacey Photography

Photo by Jamie Lacey Photography

Car Cookie Pops

1 recipe sugar cookies (below)
1 recipe royal icing (below).  You made need more depending what type of designs you do
lollipop sticks (any craft store should have them, don't get the shortest ones, get medium or longer)
Gel Color (I use Wilton)

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, reserving egg white to decorate
2 C plain flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 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.

Roll the dough out between two pieces of parchment paper, put on a cookie sheet or cutting board, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.   Then using your cookie cutters, cut out the dough and insert your lollipop stick approximately half way into the cookie.  If it pokes through just patch it up with some scrap cookie dough, no one will notice the back and the front will be covered with icing.  Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet

I then put the cookie pops back in the fridge for another 30 minutes before baking.  This helps the cookie keep it's shape when baking.

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.

Once cookie pops are completely cool you can get on with the icing.

Royal Icing
from Joy of Baking

4 cups (440 grams) confectioners' (powdered or icing) sugar
3 tablespoons (30 grams) meringue powder
1/2 teaspoon extract (vanilla, lemon, almond)
1/2 - 3/4 cup (120 - 180 ml) warm water
Food Coloring (I use Gel Pastes)

 In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the confectioners' sugar and meringue powder until combined.  Add the water and beat on medium to high speed until very glossy and stiff peaks form (5 to 7 minutes). If necessary, to get the right consistency, add more powdered sugar or water. To cover or 'flood' the entire surface of the cookie with icing, the proper consistency is when you lift the beater, the ribbon of icing that falls back into the bowl remains on the surface of the icing for a few seconds before disappearing.
The icing needs to be used immediately or transferred to an airtight container as royal icing hardens when exposed to air. Cover with plastic wrap when not in use.
Makes about 3 cups
Decorating the Cookie Pops
I started by doing an outline around the edge of the cookie, and then flooding the center and filling gently with a toothpick.  This is where you'll know if the consistency of yoru icing is right.  You can always add more water or a bit more confectioner's sugar.  Once you've done the main color, let them dry completely, this usually takes several  hours.

I did the windows and wheels at the same time, but be very careful not to use too much icing.  A lot of my cookies ran and didn't turn out so great.  If you catch it in time you can try and use a toothpick to clean off any icing.

Linked to:
Sweet Tooth Friday
Sweets for a Saturday 
Sweet Indulgences Sunday 
Melt in Your Mouth Monday

Turtle Bars

I wanted to make something a little more for the adults at my son's recent 3rd birthday party.  I had been eyeing the heartland turtle bars recipe in my Baked Explorations book, and thought they sounded like the perfect thing to make.  I have made turtle squares in the past with a recipe using boxed cake mix and caramel candies, and it always has gotten rave reviews so I thought I would try this from scratch recipe which also has the added heartiness of an oatmeal crust.

These were pretty delicious, although my one complaint is definitely not enough caramel.  I found the caramel to be quite runny and just sort of mixed in with the crust.  Great flavor but not that shot of pure caramel delight I was hoping for.  Next time I will use my favorite caramel recipe instead, it's a bit thicker and quite salty.  Otherwise I loved the buttery oatmeal crust and the rich chocolate center.  I must sound like a broken record, but use good quality chocolate chips, it makes a huge difference in the taste!

Photo by Jamie Lacey Photography

Heartland Turtle Squares
from Baked Explorations

For the Oatmeal Base and Topping:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 3/4 cup rolled oats
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
1 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the Caramel Filling:
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Make the Bar Topping and Base:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and butter the bottom and sides of a 9x13-inch glass or lightly colored metal baking dish. Line pan with parchment paper so that the paper overhangs the pan on two sides.  Butter the parchment.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda.   Use your hands to rub in the brown sugar.  Stir in the oats until evenly combined. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the melted butter, stirring until combined. Lightly press about 2/3 of the oat mixture into the bottom of the pan and bake for 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven to cool on a wire rack for a bit, leaving the oven on. Sprinkle the chopped pecans and chocolate chips over the cooled crust.

Make the Caramel Filling:
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt together the butter and light brown sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil and allow it to boil for one minute, stirring constantly. After 1 minute, remove the pan from the heat and quickly whisk in the cream, then pour the caramel evenly over the pecans and chocolate chips.  Use an offset spatula to evenly distribute the caramel.  Sprinkle the remaining oatmeal mixture over the top and bake for 10-12 minutes further or until the top is golden brown.

Let bars cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, then place the pan in the fridge and chill for 1 hour to firm up.  Cut and serve.

These bars will keep, covered tightly, at room temperature, for about 3 days.

Linked to:
Sweet Tooth Friday
Sweets for a Saturday
Sweet Indulgences Sunday
Melt in Your Mouth Monday

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Lemon Cake Pop Bouquet

I am so excited by how cute these turned out!  I made a cake pop bouquet to donate to my Mom's Club for a raffle, and I wanted to try a different flavor so I went with lemon.  I had my doubts since I'm still not 100% on board with the cake mixed with frosting thing, but these were awesome.  Super lemony and tasty, I think I might like these better than the chocolate ones from my son's birthday.  I used a boxed cake mix but I would definitely do my own with real lemon juice next time.

The filigree type design was rather time consuming, but once I did a few I got the hang of it.  Whatever you do, don't have a cup of coffee beforehand.  You need some seriously steady hands.  I used a squeeze bottle and candy melts for the piping, it worked great!  I'll try squeeze bottles for cookie decorating next time, it was easy and considerably less messy than decorating bags.  I hope whomever won these enjoys them!

Cake Pops
from Bakerella 

1 box lemon cake mix
1 can cream cheese frosting (16 oz)
Candy melts, for a full batch you will probably need about two of the Wilton-sized bags
Lollipop sticks (you can find these at Michael's, if you're making a bouquet you'll want the medium Length sticks)
Block of florist foam 
Small flower pot
Paper grass

  1. Bake the cake according to instructions.
  2. When the cake has cooled completely, crumble it into pieces with your hands, the crumbs should be pea-sized or smaller.  Mix the frosting and cake together in a large bowl until the cake is moist.  Start with about 1 cup of frosting and try rolling it into a ball about the size of a quarter.  If the ball falls apart add 1/4 cup more frosting and try again.  I ended up using about 3/4 of the can of frosting
  3. Form the cake and frosting mixture into balls with the hands and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Chill in refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
  4. Melt a small amount of candy melts in a double boiler or in the microwave and dip each stick about 1/2-inch into the melted chocolate, then stick about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way through the cake ball.  If it starts to crumble just reshape.
  5. Place the finished balls onto a sheet of parchment paper and put in the freezer for about 30 minutes or longer.
  6. Melt chocolate in a double boiler in the microwave.
  7. Remove the cake pops one at a time from the refrigerator and dip them into the melted candy.  If you use a deeper bowl it will make it easier to fully coat the cake pop.  Rotate and tap the stick at an angle to let the candy drip off to thoroughly coat. 
  8. Put the stick in the florist foam block to let them dry completely.
  9. Once they are dry, melt the candy melt color you are planning to decorate with.  Pour into a squeeze bottle or a decorating bag with the smallest plain tip attached.  Pipe designs and let dry.
  10. Place a square of florist foam in the bottom of the flower pot and cover with paper grass.  Then put in as many cake pops as you like.
  11. To package it I put a plastic treat wrapper (from Michael's) around each cake pop and tied it with a pink ribbon.
Linked to:
Sweet Tooth Friday
Sweets for a Saturday 
Sweet Indulgence Sunday 
Sweets This Week 
A Baker's Themed Sunday
Melt in Your Mouth Monday 

    Friday, May 13, 2011

    Chocolate Cake Pops

    In my first attempt at making cake pops, I made a yellow cake from scratch and a vanilla Swiss meringue frosting, dipped in melted chocolate.  I had big expectations for them and was a little dissapointed.  They had an odd texture and were way to sweet.  But for my little boy's 3rd birthday I wanted to give them another try.  I mean, cake pops are too cute and perfect for a party.  I went with a chocolate cake mix, prepared cream cheese frosting, and candy melts.  Damn were they good!  I guess cake mixes and canned frosting have their place after all.

    Liam's birthday colors were green and blue (yes, I'm a matchy matchy nut when it comes to parties), so I did a few different decorations, all of which I thought turned out pretty cute.  They were a big hit with kids and adults alike.  I can't wait for an excuse to make them again!

    Photo by Jamie Lacey Photography

    Photo by Jamie Lacey Photography

    Cake Pops
    from Bakerella 

    1 box chocolate cake mix, I prefer the super moist with pudding in the mix
    1 can cream cheese frosting (16 oz)
    candy melts, for a full batch you will probably need about two of the Wilton-sized bags
    Lollipop sticks (you can find these at Michael's)
    Decorations (I used sanding sugar, nonpariels, and star sprinkles)
    1. Bake the cake according to instructions.
    2. When the cake has cooled completely, crumble it into pieces with your hands, the crumbs should be pea-sized or smaller.  Mix the frosting and cake together in a large bowl until the cake is moist.  Start with about 1 cup of frosting and try rolling it into a ball about the size of a quarter.  If the ball falls apart add 1/4 cup more frosting and try again.  I ended up using about 3/4 of the can of frosting.  Yup, ate the rest with a spoon.
    3. Form the cake and frosting mixture into balls with the hands and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Chill in refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
    4. Melt a small amount of candy melts in a double boiler or in the microwave and dip each stick about 1/2-inch into the melted chocolate, then stick about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way through the cake ball.  If it starts to crumble just reshape.
    5. Place the finished balls onto a sheet of parchment paper and put in the freezer for about 30 minutes or longer.
    6. Melt chocolate in a double boiler in the microwave.
    7. Remove the cake pops one at a time from the refrigerator and dip them into the melted candy. Rotate them as the candy drips off to thoroughly coat. 
    8. If you're using decorations that stick on do this before the chocolate dries, so pretty much right away.
    9. Place the finished pops on parchment paper until thoroughly cool.
    Linked to:
    Sweets for a Saturday
    Sweet Tooth Friday

      Sunday, May 8, 2011

      Southern Caramel Cake for a Sweet Mother's Day

      Happy Mother's Day!  My own amazing mother is many miles away in Canada, but I got to spend this Mother's Day with my awesome sister, my husband, and my kids.  I love any excuse to bake a cake, and so I asked my sister what she would like for this special day.  We both love caramel, so I found this delectable recipe in my new Cook's Country Blue Ribbon Desserts book from Costco (amazing, buy it if you can!).

      This cake is very easy to make.  The cake layers are a buttermilk yellow cake.  It was moist and tender with a light vanilla flavor.  But the crown jewel is the caramel frosting.  It is so freaking good.  It's more like fudge than frosting, and has a grainy sugary texture with a rich caramel flavor.  The one thing that is difficult is frosting the cake.  This frosting hardens really fast, like I barely got the cake frosted before it started sticking to my spatula at which time crumbs started to stick to it.  So get everything ready to go and frost at top speed.  You can always microwave the frosting for a few seconds if it does harden on you too quickly.

      We enjoyed this cake thouroughly on this day to celebrate motherhood. 

      Southern Caramel Cake
      from Cook's Country

      1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
      4 large eggs, room temperature
      2 tsp vanilla extract
      2 1/4 cups (11/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
      1 1/2 c ups (10 1/2 ounces granulated sugar
      1 1/2 tsp baking powder
      1/2 tsp baking soda
      3/4 tsp salt
      16 TB ( 2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces and softened

      12 TB (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened
      2 cups packed (14 ounces) dark brown sugar
      1/2 tsp salt
      1/2 cup heavy cream
      1 tsp vanilla extract
      2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) confectioners sugar, sifted
      For The Cake:

      Adjust an oven rack to the middle position ans heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two
      9- inch round cake pans. Whisk the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla in a large measuring cup. In a large bowl, mix the flour granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with an electric mixer on low speed until combined. Beat in the butter, 1 piece at a time, until only pea-size pieces remain. Pour in half of the buttermilk mixture and beat at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Slowly add the remaining buttermilk, mixture to the bowl and beat until incorporated, about 15 seconds.

      Scrape equal amounts of batter into the prepared pans and bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. cool the cake in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks.  Let cool completely, at least 1 hour.

      For The Frosting:

      Heat 8 TB of the butter, brown sugar, and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat until small bubbles appear around the perimeter of the pan, 4 to 8 minutes. whisk in the cream and cook until a ring of bubbles reappears, about 1 minute. Off the heat, whisk in the vanilla.  Transfer the hot frosting mixture to a bowl and, with an electric mixer on low speed, gradually mix in the confectioners sugar until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the frosting is pale brown and just warm, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 4 TB butter, 1 piece at a time, and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

      To Assemble:

      Place 1 cake round on a platter. spread 3/4 cup of the frosting over the cake, then top with the second
      cake round. spread the remaining frosting evenly over the top and sides of the cake. Serve.

      Note:  the cooled frosting stays soft and spreadable longer than most recipes, but will harden over time.
      If frosting begins to stiffen, microwave it for about 10 seconds ( or until it returns to a spreadable consistency).

      Linked to:
      Melt in your mouth monday
      Sweets for a Saturday
      Sweet Indulgence Sunday 
      Sweet Tooth Friday 
      A Baker's Themed Sunday

      Saturday, May 7, 2011

      Strawberry Coconut Lamingtons

      Haven't heard of a Lamington?  Allow me to introduce you to this delightful sweet treat.  Lamingtons originated in Australia, and are typically a white cake, dipped in a chocolate frosting and then covered in coconut.  The original cake truffle, if you will.  I came across the blog Delicious Delicious Delicious a while ago, and they were hosting a Reinventing The Lamington challenge.  Incredible.  I wanted to try every single one of those.

      When I was planning treats for my little girl's 1st birthday party, I remembered some Maraschino Cherry Lamingtons I had seen on Whisk Kid's blog.  Go check them out, they are simply gorgeous.  So I adapted her recipe slightly to make them a little more pink for my pink theme, and I came up with Strawberry Coconut Lamingtons.

      These are super yummy, and look a lot more difficult to make than they actually are.  You simply make a very small layer cake, cut it into tiny pieces, coat with candy melts, and roll in coconut flakes.  They look impressive and are a delicate delicious treat.

      Photo by: Jamie Lacey Photography

      Strawberry Coconut Lamingtons

      Almond Genoise

      from Whisk Kid and Chef de Cuisine

      2 egg yolks
      1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
      2 egg whites
      2 teaspoons sugar
      1/6 cup (17 g) ground almonds
      1/4 cup (36 g) flour
      1 tablespoons (14 g) butter, melted

      Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease an 8" x 8" pan, line with parchment paper and re-grease.

      Combine the ground almonds and flour in a small bowl. Set aside.

      Combine egg yolks and 1/4 c sugar in a double boiler, and whisk constantly until tripled in volume.

      Meanwhile, in another bowl, whisk the egg whites until they just start to peak, then gradually sprinkle in the sugar. Beat until soft peaks form.

      Gently fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture. Fold in the dry ingredients and the butter.

      Pour into your prepared pan and bake 10-15 minutes until the cake is lightly browned and springs back when pressed lightly.

      Cool completely in the pan on a rack. 

      Strawberry Filling
      adapted slightly from Whisk Kid

      4 tablespoons (57 g) butter, room temp
      1/4 teaspoon salt
      1/3 cup (52 g) powdered sugar
      1 tablespoon strawberry jam
      1/2 teaspoon vanilla

      Beat the butter until smooth, then add the salt and powdered sugar. Beat until light and fluffy, then add the strawberry jam and vanilla. Beat until combined, light and fluffy.

      from Whisk Kid

      2 1/2 cups (592 ml) coconut flakes, preferably unsweetened
      10 oz pink candy melts

      Cut the cooled cake into a 6" x 6" square. Cut that cake into two 3" x 6" halves and set one layer aside. Spread and smooth the frosting over one half of the cake, then top with the other, smoothing the frosting along the edges. Chill overnight, if possible, then cut the cake in half lengthwise, resulting in two 6" x 1.5" rectangles. Cut each of these strips into 4 pieces and you will end up with eight 1.5" x 1.5" x 1.5" cubes.

      Place the mini cakes on a plate or baking sheet and return to the refrigerator.

      While the cakes chill, turn your attention to dipping:

      Place the coconut in a bowl and set out a sheet of parchment paper or a plate to hold your coated Lamingtons.

      Melt the candy melts either in the microwave or in a double boiler.  To make coating the Lamingtons easier, transfer the melted chocolate to a tall thin container.

      Dip each chilled Lamington into the candy melts.  I find that using one or two forks works best. Tap fork on the edge of the bowl to slightly thin the coating and immediately roll the Lamington in the flaked coconut to coat. Let set/harden on parchment paper or plate.  

      Linked to:
      Melt in your mouth monday
       Sweets for a Saturday
      Sweet Tooth Friday

      Friday, May 6, 2011

      Banana Crunch Cake

      For some reason we always have over ripe bananas in our kitchen, and I'm getting sick of making banana bread so I thought I would try something a little different.  This recipe is the first I tried out of my King Arthur Flour's Whole Grains book, and it's perfect for a tasty little afternoon (or midnight) snack.

      The recipe uses oat flour and white whole wheat but doesn't taste that grainy which is nice.  The crunch topping is salty and sweet and delicious.  And the added chocolate chips are heavenly and a total must if you ask me.  I will definitely make this one again, it's nice to have a bit of variety when it comes to using up your bananas!

      Banana Crunch Cake
      from King Arthur Flour

      Cake batter
      1 cup (120g) oat flour (or ground oats)
      1 cup (120g) whole wheat flour, traditional or white whole wheat
      1 teaspoon baking soda
      1/2 teaspoon salt
      1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
      2/3 cup (132g) packed light or dark brown sugar
      2 large eggs, room temp
      1 cup (225g) mashed banana (2 large or 3 medium), the riper the better
      1/2 cup (109g) plain yogurt, non-fat to full-fat
      1 teaspoon vanilla extract
      1/2 cup (60g) chopped pecans or walnuts
      1 cup (168g) chocolate or toffee chips (optional, but awesome)

      Crunch topping
      3/4 cup (60g) old-fashioned rolled oats
      1/3 cup (66g) packed light or dark brown sugar
      1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
      1/4 teaspoon salt
      2 tablespoons (28g) unsalted butter, melted
      1/4 cup (30g) chopped pecans or walnuts

      Grease and flour an 8-inch-square pan. Preheat the oven to 350F.

      Whisk the flours, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
      Cream together the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
      Beat in the eggs, one at a time, stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl between additions.

      Mix in half the dry ingredients until moistened, then mix int the bananas, yogurt and vanilla. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then add the remaining dry ingredients and the nuts and chocolate chips, if using, mixing until evenly moistened.

      Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.
      Make the topping. Combine the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a small mixing bowl until well blended. Stir in the melted butter until the moisture forms large crumbs; stir in the chopped nuts. Sprinkle the topping over the batter in the pan.

      Bake unit the edges pull away from the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and place on a rack to cool for 20 minutes before serving warm, with ice cream, or cool completely before eating.

      Linked to:
      Sweets for a Saturday
      Melt in your mouth monday
      Sweet Tooth Friday 

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