We Only Have One Second Birthday

Granddaughter Grace’s 2nd birthday was Friday, June 1 and her party was Saturday the 2nd. For Mother’s Day, Fran and I met the rest of the family at the San Diego Zoo sending Grace to near Nirvana with all the animals. In the following weeks she visited the Los Angeles Zoo. She fed the giraffe and when she tried to pet it, the zoo keeper said, “No, no, no, don’t pet him,” so now every time she sees a giraffe Grace says “No, no, no.” She calls lions “Roars,” elephants are the trumpeting sound of an elephant that I cannot spell and zebras, oddly, are just “Zebras.”03C2353D-6118-4EC7-B8C0-84C1E604F759

So of course I had to make a zoo themed birthday cake with several fondant animal decorations. I made a “roar”, a “no, no, no” a “bbbrrrrreeeeehhhhaaaaa” (sp?), and a zebra from marshmallow fondant. They sat atop a  a double layer chocolate cake beside a white meringue “2” cake. The chocolate base cake was frosted with pink Italian Meringue Buttercream and the “2” was frosted with traditional white buttercream.

The white meringue “2” cake and the animals were bordered with green buttercream grass and “Happy Birthday Grace” was piped in purple letters. Purple is currently her favorite color. Unfortunately, my handwriting does not enhance the quality of my piping script.  The zebra is eating the grass (because he was falling forward and Fran suggested having him graze to make it look on purpose.)

White Meringue Cake

INGREDIENTS

• 1 cup butter (softened)
• 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
• 3 cups cake flour* (345 grams spooned & measured carefully)
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 cup milk (2% milkfat)
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 3/4 cup egg whites plus 3 tablespoons (160 g)

METHOD

1. Using a stand mixer, beat the egg whites with the whisk attachment until they are stiff and form peaks. This may take a minute or two. Pour the egg whites into another bowl and place them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to add them to the batter.
2. Using the same bowl that you used to beat the egg whites, place the softened butter in and cream the butter for about 2 minutes (using the beater blade attachmenuntil it is white in appearance.
3. Add the sugar to the butter and beat until fluffy (about another 1-2 minutes).
4. In a small bowl, combine the flour (measured carefully*), salt and baking powder. Set aside.
5. In another bowl, combine the milk and vanilla extract.
6. Add the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture alternately with the milk.
7. Add the stiffly beaten eggs to the cake batter. Fold the egg whites in gently. Do not overmix at this point. If you do, your cake will become more dense.
8. Grease and flour 2 9″ round cake pans. Pour the cake batter equally into the prepared cake pans.
9. Bake the cakes at 350 degrees for 25-27 minutes or until the top bounces back when you touch it.
10. Allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes, then loosen the edges and remove them from the pans to a wire rack, allowing them to cool completely.

Italian Meringue Buttercream Frosting

https://ofbatteranddough.com/italian-meringue-buttercream-frosting-recipe/ Author: Rebecca Blackwell
Serves: 7 cups

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup water
  • 1¼ cup plus ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 9 large egg whites
  • 6 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

METHOD

  1. Combine the water and 1¼ cup sugar in a small saucepan and stir once or twice just to moisten the sugar. Do not stir again; stirring encourages the sugar to crystalize. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and continue to cook until it reaches a temperature between 246 and 250 degrees.
  2. As soon as you set the syrup to cook, begin the meringue. Beat the egg whites in a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment at medium speed until frothy. While beating, sprinkle in the cream of tartar and then the remaining ⅓ cup sugar. Beat until stiff, but not dry, peaks form. *The goal is to have the syrup at the right temperature and the meringue at the stiff peak stage at the same time. If the syrup is not quite ready, but the meringue is, continue to beat the egg whites with the mixer on the lowest speed until the syrup reaches the desired temperature. If the syrup is done before the meringue is ready, add a very small amount of hot (not cold) water to lower the temperature slightly.
  3. When the syrup is ready, turn off the mixer and quickly pour about ⅓ cup into the meringue. Immediately turn the mixer to medium-high and then continue to pour the hot syrup into the meringue in a thin, steady stream. Try to keep the syrup from getting on the beater, although some will get on there no matter what you do.
  4. Continue to beat the meringue with the whisk attachment at medium speed, until you touch the bottom of the bowl and it is cool to the touch. *It’s important to not add the butter before the meringue is completely cool, so that the butter doesn’t melt.
  5. Turn the mixer to low and add the butter in 2 or 3 tablespoon size chunks. Keep mixing and adding the butter until all 6 sticks are incorporated. If the buttercream doesn’t look completely smooth at this point, just keep beating. It will smooth out. If it looks runny or curdled, the butter has probably melted. Put it in the refrigerator for 20 or 30 minutes and then continue beating until it’s smooth.
  6. After the butter has been fully incorporated, you can add any flavor additions you like. See ideas below.
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Which Way to Carnegie Hall?

Everyone knows how to get to Carnegie Hall, right? I am considering making bite size desserts for a gala at our temple with about 200 people expected to attend. Conventional wisdom indicated I will need 4-600 individual desserts. Perhaps you can see why I have not yet committed to this task. Allotting 2-3 desserts per person I should also have 5 or 6 dessert options, too many and it’s overwhelming (for the attendees and the baker!)

blueberry lemon and mango keylime profiteroles

So, back to Carnegie Hall. Practice, practice, practice. For anyone who follows my blog you know mistakes to not leave the house, so I practice everything first. I also experiment with different flavors and combinations. For instance, I made profiteroles last week. One was to be a mango/key lime and the other a lemon/blueberry. They were fine, except the key lime overpowered the mango. I will have to try again. Practice, practice, practice. The lemon was fine, if a bit intense.

vanilla cake and swiss meringue buttercream frosting

A couple of days ago I made some vanilla cake bites with Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting. It was a new cake recipe, I was looking for something a bit lighter, plus a new buttercream. This one uses a Swiss meringue (egg whites and sugar whisked over simmering water in a bain marie. The frosting was delicious but a bit of a pain in the butt. I would use this if I could have  several desserts that use the same frosting. I may just divide it into aliquots and color them differently to make an easy differentiation.

chouxI make choux fairly often so don’t really need to practice, but the little choux pastries are a good way to try the different filling flavors and icings. I made these choux in an hour or two last week, used a dozen or so for experimenting and froze the other 4 dozen. If I decide to do this project I will take a day and make 200 or so. I just need enough freezer space.

This morning I decided to add two new pastries File Jan 10, 10 17 21 AMto my portfolio. The first, and easiest was the chocolate cookies with chocolate mousse filling. I decided to add some shaved milk chocolate and white chocolate over some of them and since I had some raspberry coulis in the fridge, I drizzled that over some to add more color.

pineapple upside down bites.jpeg

Once those were complete and I finished cleaning the kitchen, (yes, I clean everything up between each bake) I started the one bite Pineapple Upside Down cakes. I used the same vanilla cake recipe as last week. It was a little tricky miniaturizing everything and keeping them looking good. Next time I will reduce the amount of pineapple and use a quartered cherry so there will be more room for the cake.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

INGREDIENTS

  • 7 large (210 grams or 7 oz) egg whites
  • 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1½ cups (3 sticks or 340 grams) unsalted butter, softened*
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt (we use non-iodized fine sea salt)

METHOD

  1. In a medium pot, add at least 1-inch of water and bring to simmer.
  2. Thoroughly wash and dry the stainless-steel mixing bowl from your stand mixer* (you don’t want grease touching meringue). Add 7 egg whites and 2 cups sugar and whisk together.
  3. Place mixing bowl over pot of barely simmering water, creating a seal over the pot (bowl should be over the steam, not touching water). Whisk constantly until mixture reaches 160˚F (takes about 3 min). Sugar should be fully dissolved (you should not feel any sugar granules when rubbing mixture between finger tips). Mixture will feel hot to the touch.
  4. Wipe water from bottom of mixing bowl and transfer bowl to stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff glossy peaks form (about 15-20 min) and bottom of the bowl feels completely at room temp and not warm (important: warm meringue will melt the butter).
  5. Once bowl is at room temp, switch to paddle attachment, reduce to medium speed and add butter 1 Tbsp at a time, adding it just as fast as it is absorbed by meringue. Once all butter is in, scrape down the bowl and continue beating until it reaches a thick whipped consistency (3 min on med-high speed). If it looks lumpy or liquidy at all, keep beating until smooth, thick and whipped.
  6. Add 2 tsp vanilla extract and ¼ tsp salt and mix on med-high until incorporated (about 1 min).

Notes

*Butter should be softened at room temp about 1 hour (more or less depending on your room temperature). It should be slightly cool to the touch and not overly soft or warm. If too soft, refrigerate for 10 minutes at a time.

Vanilla Butter Cake

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 3/4 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk Note: I use 1% milk and add the 2 Tbl as whipping cream

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a cast-iron pan, and dust with all-purpose flour, tapping out excess. Sift together flours, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, mixing well after each addition.
  3. Fill pan halfway, and bake until golden around edges (time will vary depending on size of pan). Remove from oven, and let cool in pan for 15 minutes. Transfer cakes from pan to a wire rack. Let cool. Coat each with glaze just before serving.

Chocolate Mousse Filled Chocolate Cookies

INGREDIENTS (Half Recipe)

  • 1 cup butter, softened (1/2)
  • 2 cups white sugar (1)
  • 2 eggs (1)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (1)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (1)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (6 Tbl)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (1/2)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (1/4)

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
  4. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; stir into the creamed mixture.
  5. Spray Baker’s Joy or similar product into mini cupcake pans and fill ½ full (about a level teaspoon).
  6. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes in the preheated oven, until cookies are set.
  7. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 egg yolks (2)
  • ¼ cup sugar (2 Tbl)
  • 1 cup whipping (heavy) cream (1/2)
  • 1 package (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (1 cup) (1/2)
  • 1 ½ cups whipping (heavy) cream (3/4)

METHOD

  1. Beat egg yolks in small bowl with electric mixer on high speed about 3 minutes or until thick and lemon colored. Gradually beat in sugar.
  2. Heat 1 cup whipping cream in 2-quart saucepan over medium heat until hot. Gradually stir at least half of the hot whipping cream into egg yolk mixture; stir back into hot cream in saucepan. Cook over low heat about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens (do not boil). Stir in chocolate chips until melted. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours, stirring occasionally, just until chilled.
  3. Beat 1 1/2 cups whipping cream in chilled medium bowl with electric mixer on high speed until stiff. Fold chocolate mixture into whipped cream. Pipe or spoon mixture into serving bowls. Immediately refrigerate any remaining dessert after serving.

3 Strikes In A Row!

As you may know, I often make a “practice” cake prior to producing the “public” cake. Thanksgiving Windtorte“Practice” cakes do not leave the kitchen, (unless they are good.) I made a practice Thanksgiving cake based on a Spanische Windtorte as seen on GBBO. It looked beautiful and tasted awful. It would have been easier to eat a half cup of sugar with a strawberry chaser.
I fell back to a standard chocolate cake but decorated with a Thanksgiving theme. The feathers are chocolate, white chocolate and butterscotch chips, warmed, mixed with corn syrup, rolled into long thick strings, braided, rolled and cut into equilateral triangles, about 2″ on each side. Fold one side and pinch together forming the feather.

 

Frost the chocolate cake using a spatula to make feathers across the top. Array 18 chocolate frosted cupcakes (I used white cake for variety for the guests) around the frosted chocolate cake. Place the feathers on the cupcakes and add a few to the front side of the turkey body.

Frost one cupcake with white buttercream, form some red dyed gum paste into the snood and waddle and invert a chocolate chip (pointy side down) into the top as an eye.

Boom!

Chocolate Cake

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 5 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans.
  2. Use the first set of ingredients to make the cake. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 3 minutes with an electric mixer. Stir in the boiling water by hand. Pour evenly into the two prepared pans.
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to cool completely.
  4. To make the frosting, use the second set of ingredients. Cream butter until light and fluffy. Stir in the cocoa and confectioners’ sugar alternately with the milk and vanilla. Beat to a spreading consistency.
  5. Split the layers of cooled cake horizontally, cover the top of each layer with frosting, then stack them onto a serving plate. Frost the outside of the cake.

Chocolate Frosting

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 pound confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup milk

METHOD

  1. Melt chocolate and butter in the microwave, or in the top of a double boiler. In a large bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and 1/2 cup of the milk. Blend in the melted chocolate mixture. Add remaining milk, a little at a time, until desired consistency is achieved.
  2. Let stand until spreadable (frosting will thicken as it cools).

Heavenly White Cake (Cupcakes)

INGREDIENTS                                               

  • 2 3/4 cups sifted cake flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

METHOD

  1. Measure sifted flour, baking powder, and salt; sift together three times.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add 1/2 cup sugar gradually, and continue beating only until meringue will hold up in soft peaks.
  3. Cream butter or margarine. Gradually add remaining 1 cup sugar, and cream together until light and fluffy. Add sifted ingredients alternately with milk a small amount at a time, beating after each addition until smooth. Mix in flavorings. Add meringue, and beat thoroughly into batter. Spread batter in a 15 x 10 x 1 inch pan which has been lined on the bottom with parchment paper.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool cake in pan 10 minutes, then remove from pan and transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. This cake may also be baked in two 9 inch round pans for 30 to 35 minutes, or in three 8 inch round pans for 25 to 30 minutes.

Shield of David

Our best friend gave me two gifts for my recent birthday. Now, I am not saying there were ulterior motives here, but she is visiting us this fall. Coincidence? Perhaps not.

The Shield of David (Mogen David, or Jewish Star) is a six pointed star symbolizing the internal and external connections of Torah, God and Israel. A Shield of David bundt pan makes an awesome cake, too.

You may have read elsewhere in this blog, we had a bumper crop of figs in our backyard tree this year. My challenge was how to use all these fresh figs. I froze a few pounds but our freezer is pretty small and already has chocolate chip cookie dough ready for baking, extra tartlet shells for an emergency snack or drop in guests and several quarts of Vermont maple syrup from near my home town in Vermont, so I have frozen enough already.

slice 2

Today I made a fig-spice cake in my new pan. Think apple-spice but with figs instead. The Bundt pan worked really well. Spraying with some Baker’s Joy helped the cake slide out of the pan perfectly. The cake is moist with good texture and is sweet.  (It was even  sweeter after dusting with confectioners sugar.) The figs were well dispersed throughout the cake and the edges had a nice caramelized crunch.

 

Based on hungryforlouisiana.com/figging-out-fresh-fig-cake/

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 Tbl white vinegar mixed into 1 Cup milk)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped fresh figs (between 15-20 small to medium figs)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • Confectioner’s sugar and fig leaves for garnish

METHOD

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Using a standing mixer or bowl, whisk eggs briefly. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about one minute. Add oil, and beat until just combined.
  2. In a separate medium bowl, add buttermilk and stir in baking soda.
  3. Beginning with flour, add flour and buttermilk mixture alternately and mix until combined.
  4. Add chopped figs, cinnamon, ginger, salt and nutmeg, and mix until thoroughly incorporated.
  5. Pour batter into a greased and floured Bundt pan, and bake until done (50-60 minutes).
  6. Cool in baking rack for 5-10 minutes, then remove from pan. Allow to cool another 5-10 minutes. Arrange on plate, and garnish with confectioner’s sugar and fresh figs.

San Juan Hill Pastry Hand Pies   

Making puff pastry at home is a tedious process requiring several hours to incorporate the butter into the flour. For years I have relied on the kindness of Trader Joe’s and Pillsbury as my source of puff pastry. Both are delicious and easy to use. TJ’s has less rise and is good for a variety of pastries while Pill’s has skyscraper (get it?, “high rise?”) puff. This spring I found out that TJ’s puff pastry is seasonal. Who knew? Also, trying to insert a very little humor and perhaps some click bait with “San Juan Hill” – Teddy Roosevelt and the “Rough” Riders? Oh well, maybe not.

Anyway, I decided it was time to try, at least rough puff pastry. I tried two different recipes, one from King Arthur Flour and the other from Gordon Ramsey via BBC. The primary difference between the two is KAF adds sour cream while Gordon uses cool water as the liquid and KAF adds some baking powder to assist the rise.

To create the characteristic layers in the puff pastry it needs to be book folded and rolled. Both recipes called for repeating this twice, but many of the comments said to repeat up to four times, which I will do next time. The final pastry was very good, but lacked the layers and puff of either TJ’s or Pill’s.

I have trouble making the pastry and remembering to take photos as the work progresses. What I need is a camera that will take pics every 15 seconds, the just use the appropriate ones. I missed the filling of the pies. I used a heaping teaspoon for the blueberry mix and made a few using 3 fresh raspberries. Another suggestion: cut the tops of the pies about and inch bigger than the bottoms. Once the dough tries to stretch over the filled bottom the edges do not line up. I used about 2.5″ for the bottom and 3:5 inches for the tops. Also, round hand pies are much better looking but wastes a lot of dough. Square pies are rather plain, but more efficient.  What I need are two hexagonal cookie cutters, one 2.5″ and the other 3.5″. Then I could have the “roundish” look but a closest pack design, minimizing waste.

Gordon’s pastry was a bit easier to work with than KAF’s. The original recipe called for too much water which made a very, very wet dough. Luckily, I started with about 50 ml (one third of what the recipe said you may need and half of what it said to add initially.) They both tasted excellent and the texture was good, not great, but that may improve with additional rolling, folding and chilling. Once I made Gordon’s pastry I used the bottom of KAF’s to fill and finish the hand pies.

Rough Puff Pastry – Gordon Ramsey

INGREDIENTS

  • 250g strong plain flour
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 250g butter, at room temperature, but not soft
  • about 150ml cold water

METHOD

  1. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Roughly break the butter in small chunks, add them to the bowl and rub them in loosely. You need to see bits of butter.
  2. Make a well in the bowl and pour in about one-third of the cold water, mixing until you have a firm rough dough adding extra water if needed. Wrap dough with cling film and leave to rest for 20 mins in the fridge.
  3. Turn out onto a lightly floured board, knead gently and form into a smooth rectangle. Roll the dough in one direction only, until 3 times the width, about 20 x 50cm (~ 8”x20”). Keep edges straight and even. Don’t overwork the butter streaks; you should have a marbled effect.
  4. Fold the top third down to the center, then the bottom third up and over that. Give the dough a quarter turn (to the left or right) and roll out again to three times the length. Fold as before, cover with cling film and chill for at least 20 mins before rolling to use.

Blueberry Hand Pies with Rough Puff Pastry – KAF

INGREDIENTS

Pastry

  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (16 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter
  • ½ cup cold sour cream

Filling

  • 2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt (a large pinch)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • *For frozen berries, use 2½ tablespoons cornstarch.

Topping

  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons white sparkling sugar, for garnish

METHOD

  1. To make the pastry: Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add the butter, working it in to make a coarse/crumbly mixture. Leave most of the butter in large, pea-sized pieces.
  2. Add the sour cream, and stir until the mixture starts to come together in chunks. Turn it out onto a floured work surface, and bring it together with a few quick kneads.
  3. Pat the dough into a rough log, and roll it into an 8″ x 10″ rectangle. Dust both sides of the dough with flour, and starting with a shorter end, fold it in three like a business letter.
  4. Flip the dough over, give it a 90° turn on your work surface, and roll it again into an 8″ x 10″ rectangle. Fold it in three again.
  5. Wrap the dough, and chill for at least 30 minutes before using.
  6. To make the filling: If you’re using fresh berries, rinse and drain well. Place fresh or frozen berries in a saucepan. Whisk the cornstarch with the sugar, and pour over the berries. Add the salt and lemon juice, stirring to combine.
  7. Place the saucepan on a burner set to medium-high heat and cook, stirring, until the small amount of liquid in the bottom of the pan comes to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Transfer the cooked berries to a bowl and let cool to room temperature. It’s fine to make the filling ahead of time, and refrigerate until you’re ready to use it.
  8. Preheat the oven to 425°F; place a rack on the middle shelf. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  9. To assemble the pies: Roll the dough into a 14″ x 14″ square. With a straight edge and pastry wheel, or a 3½” square cutter, cut out sixteen 3½” squares.
  10. Divide the filling among eight of the squares, using about a heaping tablespoon for each; a slightly heaped tablespoon cookie scoop works well here. Brush some of the beaten egg along the edges of each filled square.
  11. Use a knife to cut a vent into each of the remaining eight squares; or use a decorative cutter of your choice.
  12. Top each filled square with a vented square, and press along the edges with the tines of a fork to seal.
  13. Brush the top of each pie with the remaining beaten egg, and sprinkle with sparkling sugar. Transfer the pies to the prepared baking sheet. Note: If at any time during this process the pies become sticky and hard to work with, simply refrigerate them for about 20 minutes, until firm.
  14. Bake the pies for 18 to 20 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and let cool for 20 minutes before serving.
  15. Store pies, lightly wrapped, at room temperature for a couple of days; freeze for longer storage.

Wascally Easter Wabbit

It’s always fun when Easter and Passover coincide. This doesn’t happen as often as you might imagine, and this non-coincidelitization is not by accident. In 325 CE the Council of Nicaea established that Easter would be held on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after first day of spring unless the full moon is on Sunday when Easter is delayed by 1 week. Passover commences on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Nisan and lasts for either seven or eight days depending on the Jewish tradition being observed. The Jewish month is lunar based and varies substantially from the Gregorian calendar. I know, TMI. Anyway, this decreases the chances of Easter falling on the same day as Passover, but doesn’t eliminate it, as in this year. Following the Jewish Passover dietary restrictions for the 8 days of Pesach (which I don’t; The first two days are enough for me) while preparing desserts for Easter is… interesting.

Several years ago I purchased a Wilton Egg Mold to make an M&M cake for Robin’s birthday and a football for another party, and now an Easter egg cake. This mold creates perfect egg shaped cakes, but has some challenges. The mold measures 9″x6″x6″ which means you need to time the bake for a 6″ deep cake, but the ends are thinner so don’t over bake and burn the ends. I found doubling the baking time is about right, i.e. 60 minutes for a recipe for a standard 2″ deep pan calling for 30 min.

Another problem is sealing the two halves during the bake. The chocolate cake recipe I prefer adds a cup of boiling water just prior to pouring. This makes a very low viscosity batter which is easy to spill, hence you don’t want to move the mold after it is filled. Mold with stringTying the two mold halves together without sloshing batter is a challenge. I place the string across the oval stand prior to placing the empty mold on it. The mold should be filled to the top rim with batter. Thus far, doing this assured the top half is filled with cake. I Egg Mold with Clipsthen place the top half on and tie the string around both. This time I also added 5 paper binder clips positioned around the edge of theEgg Mold two molds. (I would use 7-10 clips, if I had them.) Do place the mold on a cookie sheet to catch spills and choose one that does not warp in the heat.

If there is little leakage, and the bake is properly timed, and you coated the molds with release spray you should end up with a beautiful Peanut M&M – Football – Easter Egg – shaped cake. A couple of other hints with this mold: remove the top half 5 minutes after removing the cake from the oven, Chocolate Cakethen remove the cake from the bottom mold 5 minutes later. You may have to shake the pan slightly for the cake to release. Cool on a rack.

For Grace’s 1st birthday I am making a cake for  about 100 people. I want this to be a smooth surface (i.e. fondant) but dislike store bought fondant. This weekend I made a Fondant Covered Chocolate cakebatch of marshmallow frosting to try it on the Easter egg cake. It was easy to make, roll and drape. While intensely sweet (read: marshmallow and confectioners sugar) it tasted much better than store bought, plus it cuts easily to make decorations. This fondant may be flavored, but will be very sweet no matter what flavor. This fondant is smooth and soft, IMG_0025easy to drape and form. The pink band around the cake is a band of colored fondant, wetted and wrapped around the cake.

I wanted the second cake to be a chocolate covered egg with lots of colored royal icing decoration. I envisioned a chocolate egg, like the hollow chocolate eggs you buy in the market for Easter. Alas, my tempered chocolate set to quickly and would not pour over the crumb coated cake. I had to spread it as quickly as possible, but was not quick enough. It was too thick and lumpy.  If anyone has suggestions to remedy this I would appreciate your input. The Finished Tempured Chocolate Yellow Cakepiping is all buttercream, both white and colored. I was going to make buttercream roses for the toppers, but by the time I finished the rest, my hand was cramping and decided simple dropped flowers (Wilton #193 tip) would suffice. I added the jelly beans for some additional color, they probably weren’t needed but we like jelly beans.

At the end of the meal there was 1/3rd of the white frosted cake left, a 1/4 of the chocolate and almost none of the outstanding carrot cake Fran made. Both 9″ tarts (one creme patisserie/fruit and one chocolate/orange) were left. Not a bad effort for 20 adults.

INGREDIENTS

Chocolate Cake

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

Yellow Cake

  • 4 1/2 cups (570g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cup (460g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 3/4 cups (700g) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240g) sour cream, at room temperature
  • 2 cup (480ml) whole milk, at room temperature

Buttercream

  • 4 cups of powdered sugar (or 1 box)
  • 1 Cup (2 sticks) of softened butter
  • 1/4 cup meringue powder to make a crusting frosting
  • 2-3 teaspoons of vanilla
  • 1-2 tablespoons of milk
  • Violet food coloring (a little of this will make the frosting white, not yellow from the butter coloring. Just a little on the end of a tooth pick is enough)

Marshmallow Fondant

  • 500 g marshmallows
  • 1000 g confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp white vanilla
  • 2-3 Tbl water

Tempered Chocolate

  • Scharffen Berger Semi-Sweet Dark Chocolate (I like this brand but any would do)

METHOD

Chocolate Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray both halves of the egg mold.
  2. Use the first set of ingredients to make the cake. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 3 minutes with an electric mixer. Stir in the boiling water by hand. Pour to fill the bottom mold to the brim.
  3. Bake for 60 minutes in the preheated oven. (Bake time make take some experimentation)  Cool for 5 minutes before removing the top half and another 5 minutes before rolling the cake on a rack to cool completely.

Yellow Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Spray both halves of the egg mold.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 3 full minutes until creamed together. The mixture should be a light yellow color. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. On medium-high speed, add 1 egg at a time, beating well after each addition until both are mixed in. On high speed, beat in the vanilla extract and sour cream. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  3. With the mixer running on low speed, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients alternating with the milk. Start and end with the dry ingredients. Mix each addition just until incorporated. Do not overmix this batter. The batter will be smooth, velvety, and slightly thick.
  4. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan. Smooth it out into an even layer.
  5. Bake for 60 minutes in the preheated oven. (Bake time make take some experimentation)  Cool for 5 minutes before removing the top half and another 5 minutes before rolling the cake on a rack to cool completely.

Buttercream

  1. Add powdered sugar and meringue powder to mixing bowl.
  2. Add softened sticks of butter
  3. Add vanilla. If you want white buttercream use clear imitation vanilla.
  4. Add 1 tbsp of milk.
  5. Beat on low until powdered sugar is incorporated. Then move mixer up to medium-high speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When completely mixed the frosting may appear dry.
  6. Add more milk, a little bit at a time until frosting is the proper consistency.
  7. Again, for white frosting now add a little violet food coloring. I use the end of a toothpick and add just a little at a time. Mix thoroughly.

Marshmallow Fondant

  1. Grease (well with Crisco or equivalent) a heat proof microwavable bowl
  2. Place marshmallow in the bowl and sprinkle 2-3 Tbl water over the marshmallows
  3. Heat in a microwave in 30 second increments until the marshmallow is melted and smooth. Don’t overcook and burn.
  4. Grease (well) dough hook and stand mixer bowl and add melted marshmallow.
  5. Add confectioners sugar a cup at a time and stir on medium until incorporated.
  6. Add the vanilla during one of the sugar additions.
  7. Reserve about a cup of sugar to use during hand kneading
  8. Grease (well) your workspace and hands and turn the fondant out.
  9. Cover with sugar and begin kneading, adding more sugar as necessary until the fondant is smooth and not sticky.
  10. Use a greased rolling pin and roll the fondant out to required size. For this cake I rolled it out to about 18″ x 14″. It was easy to pick up and drape over the cake.

Tempered Chocolate

  1. Cut 1 lb of chocolate into small pieces (or pulse in a food processor)
  2. Place chocolate in a heat proof bowl over simmering water (the bowl should not touch the water.)
  3. Heat the chocolate while stirring until melted, continue heating to 120 deg
  4. Remove the bowl from the heat (dry the bottom of the bowl. Any water will cause the chocolate to seize.)
  5. When the chocolate cools to 82 deg, place back on the heat and heat to 90 deg.
  6. Pour the liquid chocolate over the cake. This will cool the chocolate and make it set into a thin crust. My problem was I let the chocolate cool too much before trying to pour. Next time I will leave the bowl on the hot water and remove both from the heat. Hopefully this will keep the chocolate thin enough to pour. If anyone has suggestions I would appreciate them.

Tart vs. Prostitute

I decided to make a new dessert for Passover this year. Of course, leavening agents, such as flour, yeast etc are prohibited from Passover foods, so the chocolate/orange tart I was considering was out… or was it?

My research into Passover prohibitions and tarts logically led me to a discussion of the difference between tarts and prostitutes. Using the Wiki dictionary (the source of all truths) I find the word prostitute, as a verb, is to use one’s talents in return for money, or fame, or perhaps a few nights lodging, whereas a tart, as a noun, is a small open pie, or piece of pastry. Dictionaries are like statistics: what do you want them to say?

This research actually stemmed from looking at the story of Solomon deciding which woman was the real mother by offering to split the child with his sword and giving half to each woman. The women were actually prostitutes, but their profession was either superfluous to the story, and Solomon’s decision, or not, depending on the interpretation. And, of course, as usual in midrash, there are many more opinions than “opinioners.”

I find it interesting that a judge can rule on a case 3000 years ago by purely considering the facts of the case and not the legal standing of the two women. Some say wisdom began flowing from his mouth when he threatened to cut the child in half. Today so many people with questionable legal standing are unable to appeal to the legal establishment for fear of reprisal due not to the injury they may have sustained but rather for the superfluous state of their resident status. And therefore, so often judgement is rendered without any wisdom present.Almond Flour Tart Shell

Anyway, I decided an almond flour tart shell with chocolate mousse and orange zest swirl is appropriate and fitting for our Passover this year. I made a shell to be confident it would have the taste and texture required, and it did. It doesn’t roll our like a standard AP flour
dough, but can be formed into the tart shell by hand and pastry weights should keep the shape well enough to form the final tart. Because there is less binding agent in almond flour, I doubled the amount of egg.  I will probably increase the almond flour content by 25-50% to make the dough easier to handle and hopefully a little more pastry-like. The chocolate and orange ingredients are allowed anyway, substituting almond flour for AP flour where appropriate.

Please pass over me when the gefilte fish is served!

INGREDIENTS

For the Tart Shell

  • 100 g cold butter cut into small cubes
  • 200 g almond flour (I may increase this by 50g, not sure yet)
  • 60 g icing sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs (100g)

For the Chocolate Filling

  • 75g butter
  • 115g dark chocolate (no more than 60% cocoa solids), finely chopped
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 55g almond flour
  • 4 medium eggs

For the Orange Filling

  • 25g butter
  • 50g white chocolate
  • 1 orange, finely grated zest only
  • 35g caster sugar
  • 25g almond flour
  • 2 medium egg yolks

METHOD

Tart Shell

  1. Mix butter with sugar (I break up the chunks of butter by rubbing them into the sugar with my hands)
  2. Add salt then vanilla
  3. Add egg and mix well
  4. Stir in flour. Mix by hand until incorporated. I did this in 3 parts mixing well between each.
  5. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 30 min until it firms up a bit.
  6. Butter (spray) tartlet pan
  7. Coat hands with flour and press the sticky dough into tart mold
  8. Prick holes in bottom and sides of formed dough
  9. Add pastry weights to the pan
  10. Bake in preheated oven 350o F (175o C) for 17 – 20 min
    1. Remove pastry weights with 5 min left in the bake
    2. Remove pastry shells from pans and let cool on wire rack

Chocolate Filling

  1. Melt the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water until melted and smooth.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar and flour.
  3. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and leave to stand.

Orange Filling

  1. Melt the butter and white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water until melted and smooth.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the orange zest, sugar and flour.
  3. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time and pour the mixture into a bowl.

Assemble and Bake the Tart

  1. Place the tart shell on a baking tray.
  2. Pour the chocolate mixture into the shell.
  3. Drizzle or pipe the orange filling over the chocolate filling to create a swirl effect.
  4. Draw a tooth stick through the filling to create a marbled effect.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until just set around the edges, but still slightly wobbly in the centre.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly, until warm but not piping hot, then serve. It is actually very good cold also.