Saturday, January 28, 2012

Chocolate Birthday Cake with Whipped Vanilla Frosting

I made this cute little cake with companion cupcakes for a sweet little boy's first birthday party.  Lately I've really been into using fondant and a lot of decorations, but since the cake was for a cake smash I went for a more of a simple style.  I used my usual chocolate cake recipe, but instead of sour cream I used non fat Greek yogurt.  I don't think there was much of a difference but it came out nice and moist, and I guess there is the added bonus of some protein in there!

For the cutouts, I actually used modelling chocolate which was cut out on my Cricut Cake that I got for Christmas.  I love modelling chocolate, but I won't be doing this again.  It was a huge pain to roll out and it kept getting stuck on the blade.  Last time my marshmallow fondant didn't work well either, so far the best has been Satin Ice rolled fondant.   There is definitely a learning curve with the Cricut, but it's so nice to have for detailed letters.

If you're wondering, I make my modelling chocolate using candy melts, which I have a ridiculous amount stashed away from my cake pop making days.  The recipe, from Spider Farmer is below.  

 Sugary Birthday Buttercream Frosting
from Sweetapolita

1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, softened

6 cups icing sugar (confectioners’)
120 ml whipping cream
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon water
pinch of salt
Beat the butter and icing sugar in an electric mixer on low with the paddle attachment for about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla, water, whipping cream, and salt, and whip on high speed until fluffy and smooth–about 4 minutes. If consistency is too thick, add more water 1 teaspoon at a time, then whip again for 30 seconds or so.
Makes enough to fill & frost a 3-layer, 8″ cake.

Modeling Chocolate from Candy Melts:
from Spider Farmer
  • 7 ounces (200 grams) Candy Melts
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  1. Melt the candy in a large pyrex measuring cup in the microwave, 1 minute /half power, then 2 more bursts of 30 secs at half power, stirring at the end of each heating cycle.
  2. Grease your measuring spoon with veggie oil or shortening, so the corn syrup will easily slide off.
  3. Stir the candy until smooth and lump free, then add the corn syrup. The candy will start to seize almost instantly, but keep stirring until you’ve incorporated all the syrup. You’ll end up with a big blob of warm candy. It’ll have the texture of a tootsie roll. (Well, a warm tootsie roll.)
  4. Put your blob in a freezer safe resealable bag and pop it in the fridge. Once your dough is cold, you can take it out, cut off a piece that you want to work with, and knead it until it’s a workable mass.
It’ll be really hard when you first take it out of the fridge. If you have time to let it warm up a bit, it will be easier to work. You can mold it like it were fondant or marzipan.

Linked to:
Sweet Indulgences Sunday

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Raspberry Meyer Lemon Macarons

Yes!  I did it!  I finally made the perfect macarons!  They don't look like little boobs and they're not hollow.  Absolute perfection.  The secret?  Brave Tart.  Go check out her blog, she is seriously a macaron goddess. 

After many failed attempts and sometimes mediocre results, I found her blog post about macaron myths.  She made making them sound so easy, not like some detailed ritual that most recipes do.  So I did what she said.  The first batch came out completely cracked, and I thought I had another dud.  Until I checked my oven and it was 50 degrees higher than what I had set it at, so yeah, if you're having macaron issues get thee an oven thermometer.

The second batch I monitored the temp carefully, and voila.  Don't these look kickass?

Raspberry Macarons with Meyer Lemon Filling

use the basic Vanilla French Macaron recipe from Brave Tart, but substitute 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract with 1/2 teaspoon raspberry flavoring (you may need to adjust this depending how strong your raspberry flavoring is and how strong you want it to be)

If you like it quite pink add a few drops of pink food coloring when she recommends adding in the recipe (before last whipping of the meringue)

Meyer Lemon Buttercream:

1/2 cup sugar
2 large egg whites
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Zest of 1 Meyer Lemon
Juice of 1/2 a Meyer Lemon

In the bowl of a stand mixer or a heat proof bowl, add the sugar and egg whites together. Whisk constantly over a saucepan of simmering water. Keep whisking the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and place the bowl back to the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat the meringue on medium high until it cools. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat the buttercream until thick and very smooth, about 6-10 minutes. Add lemon zest and lemon juice and beat until well incorporated.

Linked to:
Sweet Tuesday
Mrs Fox's Sweet Party 
Strut Your Stuff Saturday 
 Sweet Indulgences Sunday

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Meyer Lemon Yogurt Cake

 Loved this cake.  It's made with gorgeous Meyer lemons, which are in season right now so take advantage!  It also has low fat Greek yogurt in it, which makes it ultra moist.  I usually use sour cream to make my cakes nice and moist, but I'm totally on board with the Greek yogurt.  Even though it's low fat it's so rich and creamy.  And it's loaded with protein!  So this cake is actually good for you!  Hah.

I made these as mini bundts and used a simple lemon juice and confectioner's sugar glaze.  Perfect for a mid-winter citrus fix.

Meyer Lemon Yogurt Cake
 1/2 cup fruity olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup almond flour (I used the almond meal from Trader Joes)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 cup cane sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons Meyer lemon zest (juice the lemons and set aside for the glaze)
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped 
  Make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously brush an 8-inch Bundt pan with oil and dust with flour, tapping out excess.  I used a mini bundt pan.
In a medium bowl, mix together flours, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and eggs until combined. Add oil, yogurt, lemon zest, and vanilla seeds. Add dry ingredients into wet ones and mix until just barely incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake until golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. (about 25 if using mini pan).  Let cake cool completely in pan before unmolding.
To make the glaze: carefully whisk the lemon juice with confectioner's sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time until it reaches desired consistency.

Linked to:
Melt in Your Mouth Monday
Tuesday Talent Show 
Sweet Tuesday 
 Mrs Fox's Sweet Party 
Sweets for a Saturday 
 Strut Your Stuff Saturday
 Sweet Indulgences Sunday

Deep Dish Butter Tarts

I made these rich little treats quite a while ago for my Supper Club.  If you're from Canada you're probably familiar with the butter tart.  My mom used to make them quite often when I was a kid, so they're quite nostalgic for me.  I guess they're similar to pecan pie, but there is nothing quite like a gorgeous little butter tart.  I loved this recipe since it uses muffin tins so you get that much more tart crust.  Delish!

Pie Crust Pastry:
1 1/4 cups (175 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon (15 grams) granulated white sugar
1/2 cup (113 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces
1/8 to 1/4 cup (30 - 60 ml) ice water
Butter Tart Filling:
1/3 cup (70 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (210 grams) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup (60 ml) light cream (half-and-half) (10% butterfat)
1/2 cup (120 ml) raisins or chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)

Pie Crust Pastry:  In a food processor, place the flour, salt, and sugar and process until combined. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal (about 15 seconds). Pour 1/8 cup (30 ml) water in a slow, steady stream, through the feed tube until the dough just holds together when pinched. If necessary, add more water.

Turn the dough onto your work surface and gather into a ball. Flatten into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about one hour before using. This will chill the butter and relax the gluten in the flour. 

After the dough has chilled sufficiently, place on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough and cut into 12 - 4 inch (10 cm) rounds. (To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll (always roll from the center of the pastry outwards).) Gently place the rounds into a 12-cup muffin tin. Cover and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to firm the dough. 
Butter Tart Filling: In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until creamy and smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla extract. Stir in the cream. If using nuts and/or raisins, place a spoonful in the bottom of each tart shell and then fill the unbaked tart shells with the filling. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for about 15 - 20 minutes or until the pastry has nicely browned and the filling is puffed and set. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
Makes 12 - 4 inch tarts.

Linked to:
Melt in Your Mouth Monday

Monday, January 16, 2012

Apple Fritters

I recently bought a deep fryer after years of saying I never would.  My husband read an article that said fried foods aren't necessarily that bad for you, as long as they are fried at the correct temperature.  This made sense to me, the few times I have tried to make doughnuts I found it really hard to control and maintain the temperature and the doughnuts always ended up quite greasy.

If this problem sounds familiar, get thee a deep fryer, stat!  The first thing I made were these apple fritters, and they were close to being the best I have ever had.  Crisp on the outside, moist and tender on the inside.  Yum yum yum.  These are so easy to throw together, if you're an apple fritter lover like I am you'll adore these.

Apple Fitters
from The Picky Apple 

1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup milk
1 egg
1 cup chopped apple
Glaze: (I adapted this part)

2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons half and half or heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:   Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon.  Stir in milk and egg until just combined.  Fold in apple.  Pour oil into skillet so that it is approximately 1 1/2 deep (or use a deep fryer according to manufacturer's instructions).  Heat oil on high.  Oil is ready when dough floats to top.  Carefully add dough to oil in heaping teaspoons.  Cook until brown, about 2 minutes, then flip.  Cook another 1-2 minutes, until both sides are browned.  Transfer briefly to paper towels to absorb excess oil, then transfer to cooling rack.  Make glaze by stirring milk and powdered sugar together in a small bowl.  Drizzle over apple fritters.  Wait approximately 3 minutes for glaze to harden, then flip fritters and drizzle glaze over the other side.  Best served warm.

Linked to:
Melt in Your Mouth Monday

Sunday, January 15, 2012

New Years Cake

I wanted to share the easy chocolate whipped cream filling I used for this New Years Cake I recently made.  It's from Baking With The Cake Boss, which is a cookbook I picked up recently.  If you're into cake decorating, I find it a great resource.  There are lots of step by step instructions and pictures, particularly to do with fondant.

I haven't tried many of his actual recipes, they call for extra large eggs which I never have around.  But I did make his Dad's chocolate mousse for filling and frosting the cake.  The cake was a simple white cake, and each layer was filled with a dark chocolate ganache and then the mousse.  A great combination to satisfy both vanilla and chocolate lovers and not too sweet.

Chocolate Mousse
from Buddy Valastro

2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tablespoon coffee liqueur

Put the cream, sugar, cocoa powder, and coffee liqueur in a stainless steel mixing bowl.  Blend with a mixer at high speed until fluffy, about 1 minute.

Use immediately or refrigerate in a an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Last year for Christmas my husband bought me a Madeleine pan.  I couldn't wait to make these dainty little lemon scented treats.  Unfortunately, my first attempt was a total bust.  Annoyed, I shoved the pan to the back of my baking cupboard.  I admit to being totally intimidated by these cookies, I mean, they seemed so easy and they had been a complete fail.

But when browsing my Baking cookbook by Dorie Greenspan, I read through her recipe and decided to give them another try.  I love Dorie.  Her recipes are full of info and super detailed so you really can't go wrong.  And I didn't this time.  My Madeleines were perfect, even with the requisite 'bump'.  These are best eaten the day they are made, so a perfect treat to impress your guests any time of year.

Classic Madeleines
from Dorie Greenspan

3/4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. double-acting baking powder
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 c. sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Sift together the flour and baking powder. In a mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar together at medium-high speed until they thicken and lighten in color, about 2-4 minutes.
Beat in the lemon zest and vanilla. With a large rubber spatula, gently fold in the dry ingredients, followed by the melted butter. Cover the batter with plastic wrap, pressing it against the surface to create an airtight seal. Chill for at least 3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If your Madeleine pan is not nonstick, generously butter it and dust with flour. Set the pan on a baking sheet for easy transportability. Spoon the batter into the molds, filling them almost to the top. Don’t worry about smoothing the batter. It will even out as it bakes.
In the center rack of the oven, bake large madeleines for 11-13 minutes, and small ones for 8-10 minutes, or until they are puffed and golden and spring back when touched.
Remove the cookies by either rapping the pan against the counter or gently running a butter knife around the edges of the cookies. Cool on a cooling rack.
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