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.

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.

Jocondularity, Jocondularity, Jocondularity. (M*A*S*H Father Mulcahey Omage)

The weather was, and still is, unusually cold the past few weeks here in the Sierra Nevada foothills. A cup of hot chocolate is a welcome, warming treat. A Hot Chocolate Joconde cake ain’t too shabby either.  I made a variation of Amanda Faber’s (The Great American Baking Show champion) Hot Chocolate Cake. First I reduced the recipe by 1/3rd to suit my family’s and tasters (who happen to be the same people) appetites and thinking marshmallow pairs properly with hot chocolate, I substituted mint marshmallow frosting for the mint vanilla butter cream. The first modification was a good choice, although it added a couple of challenges, the second did not work as well as I hoped. The marshmallow frosting did not set firm which resulted in smeared lines between the layers. It looked ok for a few jaconde-servings-close-upminutes, but the frosting started to flow a short time later. The other issue was tempering a small amount of chocolate. Because the cake was 1/3rd the original size I cut the
chocolate glaze to about 1/3rd as well. That mean starting with 40g of bittersweet chocolate and adding 20 g to temper. Accurately measuring and stabilizing the temperature of small amounts of chocolate and controlling the temperature is a challenge. I think I was lucky as the resultant glaze was well tempered and glossy.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate Cake Amanda Faber – The following is the full recipe as posted by the GABS with comments by me reflecting any modifications.

INGREDIENTS

Chocolate Joconde

  • 171g almond flour
  • 171g confectioners sugar
  • 171g all-purpose flour
  • 45g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 9 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolk
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 96g granulated sugar
  • 84g (2tbsp) unsalted butter, melted

Peppermint Buttercream

  • 1/2c water
  • 150g granulated sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 226g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1tsp pure peppermint extract

Chocolate Glaze

  • 80g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 200g bittersweet chocolate chips, divided

Chocolate Milk Soak

  • 1tsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2c water
  • 115g granulated sugar
  • 1/2tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2tsp pure chocolate extract
  • 1tbsp heavy whipping cream

METHOD

Chocolate Joconde – Remember I only made 1/3rd of this recipe, so only made one pan of sponge

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400° F/205° C .
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the almond flour, confectioners sugar, flour, and cocoa.
  3. Add eggs and egg yolk. Mix on high for 5 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Put a new bowl on the stand mixer and change to a whisk attachment. Whisk the egg whites with the granulated sugar until soft peaks.
  5. Fold half of the egg whites in to the other mixture. Then, stir in the melted butter.
  6. Fold in the rest of the egg whites.
  7. Using a scale with a bowl on top divided batter evenly among 3 sheet pans. Spread with off-set spatula to smooth.
  8. Bake one at a time for ~7 minutes.
  9. When the sponge is removed from the oven, slice around the edges to loosen.
  10. Invert the cake on to a large cutting board covered with a piece of parchment paper. Cool.

Peppermint Buttercream – I didn’t make this frosting. I used the marshmallow below

  1. In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan over high heat, boil the water and sugar until 238° F/114° C.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks for one minute.
  3. Once the sugar has reached the proper temperature, stream it in to the stand mixer with eggs while it is running.
  4. Beat until completely cooled, 5-7 minutes.
  5. Beat in the butter little by little until thick and smooth.
  6. Add in the peppermint extract.

Chocolate Glaze – using 60 g of chocolate rather than 200 g was challenging

  1. Over a bain-marie, gently melt the butter and 170g of the chocolate. Stir constantly to keep an even temperature.
  2. Once melted and smooth, stir in the remaining 30g of chocolate.
  3. Cool until room temperature but still liquid. Reheat if necessary.

Chocolate Milk Soak

  1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium-high heat, stir the cocoa powder, water, and sugar until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Stir in the vanilla extract, chocolate extract, and heavy whipping cream.

ASSEMBLY

  1. Assembly the cake on a large cutting board.
  2. Soak the first cake with the chocolate milk soak. Cover with a thin layer of buttercream. Repeat with remain two layers. The top layer of buttercream should be very, very thin. You should see the cake through it in all places. It’s only there to make it smooth.
  3. Pour on the chocolate glaze. Spread it to be smooth. It’s okay if it runs off.
  4. Chill the cake for ~10-15 minutes.
  5. Cut in to 12 equal pieces, probably about 4×1.5 inches.
  6. Garnish each cake bar with a marshmallow and a mint leaf. (I had the mint leaf, but not marshmallows so I skipped this. It was for tasting anyway.)

SUBSTITUTED MINT MARSHMALLOW FROSTING

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 tablespoons cool water, plus more for the double boiler
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Pour some water, about 2 inches deep, into a saucepan to create a makeshift double boiler. Put the pan on the stove and bring the water to a gentle simmer. Dip the instant-read thermometer into the simmering water to clean any impurities off the end and to test that the thermometer works.
  2. In a clean, large mixing bowl, combine the 5 tablespoons of cool water, cream of tartar, sugar, egg whites and corn syrup. Gently lower the bowl over the simmering water. Turn off the heat under the pot. Use an electric hand beater to whip the whites over the water. Do not leave the egg white mixture unattended or stop beating any time during this process.
  3. After about 3 minutes, remove the bowl from the heat, set the beater down and quickly take the temperature of the egg whites. You want them to reach 140 degrees F. If you measure the temperature before they reach that point, immediately put the bowl of whites back over the water and resume beating until they are finished, an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Remove the bowl from the water and fold in the vanilla extract. It should look like marshmallow fluffiness. Set the frosting aside to allow the mixture to cool. Frost the cake by, as my father used to say, “glopping” the frosting all over the top and the sides. Serve immediately

 

Nearly Neapolitan Mousse Cake

As Nearly Headless Nick cannot join the hunt because of a technicality, this dessert is only nearly a Neapolitan Mousse Cake due to a couple of technicalities. Picky, picky picky.

neapolitanish-cake-3

The chocolate ice cream base is actually almond chocolate cake. the vanilla ice cream is white chocolate mousse, much like a white chocolate ganache but lighter and airier as the cream is whipped, and the strawberry ice cream is raspberry mousse, because I like raspberries.

I have to be honest, this dessert takes some time and patience. Experimenting with the cake recipe (two tries), making the mice, mousses, err… white and pink fillings took 2 or three recipes each adjusting the amount of pectin, when to add it, the amount of whipped cream and how much to whip it. The whipped cream for the raspberry has to be whipped to firm peaks while the white chocolate should be soft peaks. I have removed gelatin from my pantry and replaced it with pectin. Gelatin is easier and fine if you like processed skin, bones, and connective tissues of animals such as domesticated cattle, chicken, pigs, and fish. I don’t. Pectin is sourced from fruit and vegetable peels. I am sure there are some nasty processing steps, but at least it didn’t start with Bessie or Babe or Miss Piggy.

The almond cake uses almond flour instead of food processor ground baked almonds. Its easier and I had some. The batter is pretty low viscosity but don’t worry, it about doubles in thickness in the oven. After cut, wrap the cake disks in plastic and they will stay fresh for 2 or 3 days so you can make them ahead.

I ordered some 3 mil acetate sheets online. I cut them to size (10 x 41/2″), cut 10 paper bands to hold the acetates in place around the cake. This obviated (not obliviate, we want to remember this recipe) the requirement to tape the acetate. I hope to use them again.

The vanilla mousse sets quickly so work with some speed. Varying the whipping time – Tied to the Whipping Post – can create a thinner mousse, but too short a time can make the mousse dense. I like to pipe the mice, mousses, errr… fillings so I can control the thickness of each layer.

The raspberry fruit has the most powerful flavor, but is the trickiest to make just right. Pectin requires sugar and acid to cross link. Pectin’s structure binds with water in an acid environment and sugar increases pectin’s ability to gel. The lemon juice (I used key lime juice, it was in the fridge) provides the acid and the berries and sugar provide the sugar environment. Vary the amount of each and when to add them. The method below worked well for me.

Neapolitan Mousse Cake

CHOCOLATE ALMOND CAKE

INGREDIENTS

  • 200 g (¾ cup + 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 30 g (¼ cup) unsweetened cocoa
  • 60 g (½ cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 120 g (1 cup) almond flour
  • 225 g (1 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 5 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 180° C (350° F). Line rimmed jelly roll pan with non-stick baking paper or silicone baking mat. Be sure to line the sides as well.
  2. In small saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat, occasionally swirling pan, until it begins to brown and smells nutty, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, using fine mesh sieve, sift cocoa two times. Then sift together cocoa (for a third time), flour, almond flour and sugar, baking powder and salt into mixing bowl.
  4. Add egg whites, one at-a-time, whisking until just combined after each addition (do not over mix).
  5. Stir the vanilla into the cooled butter.
  6. Gradually pour the vanilla-butter in a thin, steady stream into the batter, whisking to just combine. (Kitchenaid with beater on level 2)
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared jelly roll pan.
  8. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 22 minutes. Poke the cake gently, the depression of your finger should bounce back.
  9. Remove from oven and transfer to wire rack. Let stand 5 minutes, transfer cake to wire rack. Let stand until cooled completely.
  10. Using a 2½” ring cutter, cut 10 round mini cakes from the cooled sheet cake.
  11. Line rimmed baking sheet with non-stick baking paper or silicone baking mat. Arrange cakes on baking sheet, spacing 2½ cm (1-inch) apart.

 VANILLA MOUSSE

 INGREDIENTS

  • 200 g white chocolate, cut fine
  • 350 g heavy whipping cream

METHOD

  1. Melt the chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave. Heat 30 sec, then check the chocolate and stir. Heat another 30 seconds and stir again. Heat 15 seconds and stir. The chocolate should be liquid but not boiling. If more time in required keep reducing the time by 5 sec and check. Do not over cook.
  2. Whip the heavy cream until it forms soft peaks. If you overwhip the chocolate/cream mixture will set to quickly and will not form smooth even layers.
  3. Gently fold the liquid chocolate into the whipped cream using a figure 8 pattern. Be sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.
  4. Add to a piping bag and fill the acetate cylinder with about an inch of vanilla mousse.

RASPBERRY MOUSE

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon powdered pectin
  • 175 g fresh raspberries (about 1 pint)
  • 2½ tablespoons sugar
  • ½ cup cold heavy cream

METHOD

  1. Place lemon juice in a small bowl and sprinkle with pectin. Let sit until pectin softens, 3 minutes.
  2. In a blender, puree raspberries until smooth, scraping down bowl as needed.
  3. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a measuring cup, pressing on solids (you should have about 1/3 cup of puree); discard solids.
  4. In a small saucepan, combine raspberry puree and 2½ Tbsp sugar over medium. Cook until bubbles form at edge. Add pectin mixture and cook, stirring constantly, just until gelatin dissolves, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a small bowl and let cool to room temperature, 20 minutes.
  5. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream and 1 Tbsp sugar on medium-high until firm peaks form, about 4 minutes. Do not over mix.
  6. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in raspberry puree mixture in 3 parts until combined.
  7. Add raspberry mousse to a piping bag and fill the acetate cylinders with about an inch of mousse.
  8. Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours (or up to overnight).

 DARK CHOCOLATE GANACHE

 INGREDIENTS

  • 120 ml (½ cup) heavy cream, 35%
  • 113 g (4 ounces) dark chocolate, 70%

METHOD

  1. In a small saucepan, bring cream and corn syrup just to boil (small bubbles beginning to form around the sides of the pan) over medium heat, stirring until corn syrup is dissolved.
  2. Meanwhile, finely chop the chocolate and place in small bowl.
  3. Pour the cream mixture over the chocolate and let stand, 2 minutes. You may not need all the cream. I pour some to just wet the chocolate, wait a minute and stir. If it is too thick, I add more cream, too thin, more chocolate.
  4. Using a flexible spatula, gently stir together beginning in the center of the bowl gradually working toward the edges pulling in as much as chocolate as possible until the mixture is smooth, glossy and combined well.

 Assembling Mousse Cakes

  1. To make acetate collars, cut ten 10 x 4 ½” strips of acetate paper or non-stick baking paper. Also cut 20 1” x 8½” pieces of paper for use as bands to secure the acetate. Wrap one collar around the base of each cake keeping the base flush with the baking sheet. Slide paper band down to base to secure the acetate collar. Return to baking sheet. Cover loosely with a sheet of plastic wrap.
  2. Prepare Vanilla Mousse.
  3. Evenly divide the vanilla mousse between each acetate collar. (The layers should be no more than 2½ cm or 1-inch high.) Cover the cakes with a couple of sheets of plastic wrap (don’t secure too tightly otherwise the collars will lose their shape).
  4. Transfer the cakes on the baking sheet to the refrigerator. Let chill until firm, about 2 hours.
  5. When vanilla mousse layer is firm, prepare Raspberry Mousse.
  6. Remove the cakes from the refrigerator.
  7. Evenly divide the strawberry mousse between each acetate collar. (Again, the layers should be no more than 2½ cm or 1-inch high.) Again, cover cakes with plastic wrap.
  8. Place the cakes in the freezer. Let chill until firm.
  9. Remove the cakes from the freezer and immediately remove collars. (I recommend
  10. Removing collars immediately after removing cakes from the freezer because removal is much easier when the cakes are firm. It makes for best presentation too.)
  11. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of chocolate ganache in the center (onto the surface) of each cake, gently coaxing the ganache to the edges, leaving a 6 mm (¼-inch) border. Chill, uncovered, in the refrigerator until thawed, about 15 minutes.
  12. To serve, transfer each cake to a dessert plate, and top each cake with raspberry.