Vanilla Rose Cake

IMG_3810

When my daughter saw photos of a rose cake on The Quiet Baker– she had to have it! The rose cake frosting pattern, originally from I am Baker, I believe, is actually quite simple and seems to be popping up all over the place. I think that the pink sugar pearls were a nice addition. What a pretty cake!

My daughter requested a yellow cake with cream cheese frosting; I aim to please. ;)  I used a yellow cake recipe adapted from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum, via epicurious.com. The vanilla cream cheese frosting recipe is from Martha Stewart Living. This cake needs a LOT of frosting… I initially made 1 1/2 times the amount for a standard cake, but had to make even more! The recipe below may yield extra frosting (not such a bad thing)- but better safe than sorry. :)

The frosting needs to be warm enough to pipe, but not so warm that the roses slide down the sides of the cake. I had to repeatedly chill my frosting to prevent this from happening. I guess that is a drawback of warm weather… (Trust me, after this past winter, I’m not complaining!) I used a 1M pastry tip. Lovely. <3

Yield: Serves 12

For the Cake:

  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup milk (I used whole milk)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (must be softened)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (on convection).
  2. Prepare 2 standard cake pans by lining with parchment paper and grease with cooking oil spray.
  3. In a medium bowl lightly combine the yolks, 1/4 cup milk, and vanilla.
  4. In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend.
  5. Add the butter and the remaining 3/4 cup milk. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed (high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake’s structure. Scrape down the sides.
  6. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides.
  7. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a spatula. The pans will be about 1/2 full.
  8. Bake 25 to 27 minutes on convection or up to 35 minutes in a standard oven, or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven.
  9. Let the cakes cool in the pan on racks for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto greased wire racks. To prevent splitting, reinvert so that the tops are up and cool completely before wrapping airtight.

For the Frosting:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 10 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • sugar pearls, optional
  1. Beat together butter and cream cheese with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 1 minute.
  2. Reduce speed to medium. Add confectioner’s sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Add salt, milk, and vanilla and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Note: If not using immediately, cover surface of frosting with plastic wrap. Frosting can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 week. Before using, bring to room temperature, then beat on low speed until smooth.

To Frost the Cake:

  1. Place 1 cake layer on a cake plate and spread 1 cup frosting on top. Place remaining cake layer on top.
  2. Crumb coat the cake. Chill for about 10 minutes.
  3. Using a pastry bag fitted with the 1M tip, pipe rows of rosettes, starting from the bottom edge and work upwards towards the center of the top. (Piping the side is a little more challenging than piping the top, so try to do a couple of practice rosettes on the side first, then scrape them off  being careful not to take off any crumbs.) (a 2D tip could also be used)
  4. Once the entire cake is covered in piped rosettes, pipe in little ‘stars’ to fill any areas between the roses.
  5. Add on edible sugar pearls, if desired.

Note: If frosting becomes too soft, refrigerate to firm up. The cake can be covered with a cake dome and refrigerated overnight.

**Bring the cake to room temperature before serving.**

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Black & White Crème Brûlée

When my husband works at night, he is home with me during the day. It is the best! Not only are we able to do yard work and other things around the house (fun!?!) together, we occasionally also go out for a special lunch while the kids are at school. Recently, we had an amazing lunch and splurged on dessert as well- it was a black and white crème brûlée- SO delicious. Such a nice surprise to have the taste of chocolate underneath the classic custard. It had to be recreated at home! :)

I started collecting recipes while living in Charleston, South Carolina- many years ago. Southern Living was my absolute favorite recipe resource. I had saved this recipe for many many many years and was so happy to have found it! (My crazy recipe collection payed off!) It was similar to the delicious dessert we had enjoyed. I adapted the recipe to decrease the portion size, adjust the cooking time, to incorporate dark bittersweet chocolate, and to torch the brown sugar topping.

The chocolate layer is baked first. When I poured the custard topping over the chocolate layer, some of it rose to the top. I don’t think that the baking time needed to be adjusted- next time I would pour the custard layer even more slowly over the top? I’m not sure if it would make a difference, but it certainly didn’t affect the flavor. SO rich and delicious! This recipe was adapted from Southern Living. We enjoyed it on Easter this year; it is perfect for a dinner party or special occasion because it is made a day ahead.

Yield: 8 servings (using 4 to 5 oz ramekins)

  • 2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 5 oz dark bittersweet chocolate (I used 71% cacao Valrhona chocolate), finely chopped
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons light brown sugar
  1. Cook 1/2 cup whipping cream and chocolate in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Pour into a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together remaining 2 cups whipping cream, yolks, sugar, and vanilla until sugar dissolves and mixture is smooth. Whisk 1 cup egg mixture into chocolate mixture until smooth. Cover and chill remaining egg mixture.
  3. Pour chocolate mixture evenly into 8 (4 to 5-ounce) custard ramekins; place ramekins in a 13- x 9-inch pan and a 8- x 8-inch pan. (I placed a silicone square underneath to prevent the ramekins from shifting in the pan.) Add hot water to pan to a depth of 1/2 inch.
  4. Bake at 325° (I used convection) for 15 to 20 minutes or until almost set. (Center will be soft.)
  5. Slowly pour remaining egg mixture evenly over custards, and bake 20 to 25 more minutes or until set.
  6. Cool custards in water in pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan; cover and chill at least 8 hours.
  7. Sprinkle each custard with 1 tablespoon brown sugar.
  8. Using a handheld propane kitchen torch, brûlée the topping until caramelized. Let stand 5 minutes to allow sugar to harden before serving.

Note: Make the custard a day ahead and torch the topping at the last minute.

IMG_3503

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Tate’s Shortbread

My way of celebrating a friend’s birthday is to bake something for her… This is difficult for one of my buddies because she isn’t really a fan of desserts. It’s terrible. ;) (One year I actually just gave her butter! – it was special butter…) Well, lucky for me, I was able to find the recipe for her absolute favorite cookies this year. Yay! Shortbread from Southampton, New York’s Tate’s Bake Shop.

This super simple recipe results in perfect, slightly crunchy, crumbly cookies. The recipe was adapted from Baking for Friends by Kathleen King, owner and founder of Tate’s Bake Shop, via redtri.com. I used unsalted butter and coarse salt instead of salted butter. Delicious!

Yield: Makes 32 cookies

  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar
  • 3/4 lb (3 sticks) cold unsalted butter
  • 3/4 tsp coarse salt
  1. Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (on convection). Line the bottom and 2 short ends of a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with parchment paper or a 20-inch length of aluminum foil, pleating the foil as needed, and letting the excess foil hang over the ends. Butter or lightly spray the parchment with cooking oil.
  2. In the bowl of a standing, heavy-duty electric mixer, combine the flour and sugar. Add the butter and mix with the paddle attachment on low-speed until the mixture looks crumbly, about 1-½ minutes. (Add any of the variation flavorings listed below at this point.) Press firmly and evenly into the prepared pan. (I use the base of a dry measuring cup.)
  3. Bake until the shortbread is golden brown on top and slightly darker around the edges, about 1 hour. Cut into 32 pieces while still warm. (If cooled before cutting, the shortbread will break.) Let cool completely in the pan on a wire cooling rack.
  4. Run a dinner knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the shortbread. Lift up the parchment or foil “handles” to remove the shortbread from the an. Cut through the previously cut marks into 32 pieces.

Other variations:

Lemon Ginger Shortbread: Add 1 cup chopped crystallized ginger, 1 cup minced candied lemon peel (or the grated zest of 1 lemon), and 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice.

Brown Sugar Ginger Shortbread: Substitute 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar for the granulated sugar, and add 1 cup crystallized ginger.

Chocolate Chip Shortbread: Add 1-cup (6 ounces) miniature chocolate chips

Pecan Shortbread: Add 1 cup toasted and finely chopped pecans.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

If you like this you may also like:

Gooey Cinnamon Squares

Wow. These super moist cookie-cake squares were good. They are snickerdoodle meets creme brûlée meets coffee cake (maybe even (our favorite) King Cake!?!). Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen has shown me- once again- why she is an amazing food blogger… This is her own description of this dessert:

“The base is slightly more cake than cookie, the topping is a cross between toasted marshmallow and cinnamon toast, and if you just read that and haven’t shut this book to make this happen in your kitchen immediately, I’ve failed.”

She didn’t fail to encourage me to make them- and we were very pleased with the results. :) This recipe is from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook: Recipes and Wisdom from an Obsessive Home Cook by Deb Perelman. I used coarse salt instead of table salt. Traditionally cream of tartar is used, but 2 teaspoons of baking powder could be substituted for both the cream of tartar and the baking soda. I used the traditional corn syrup but Perelman noted that honey or golden syrup would work equally well. Great!!

For the Soft Cookie Base:

  • 8 T (115 g, 1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
  • 1 1/2 cups (188 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) milk (I used 1 percent)

For the Gooey Layer:

  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) light corn syrup, golden syrup, or honey
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) milk, half & half, or heavy cream
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 12 T (170 g, or 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 2 T (225 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/4 cups (155 g) all-purpose flour

For the Topping:

  • 2 T (25 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

IMG_3265

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. (I used the convection setting.)
  2. Line the bottom of a 9×13-inch cake pan with at least 2-inch sides with parchment paper and either butter the paper and sides of the pan or coat them with non-stick spray.
  3. Prepare the Soft Cookie Base: Whisk the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the 8 T butter with sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the egg and the milk, and beat until combined, scraping down the bowl and then beating for 10 seconds more.
  6. Beat in the dry ingredients until just combined.
  7. Dollop cookie base over the bottom of the prepared pan and spread it into an even layer with a butter knife or offset spatula. Set pan aside.
  8. Prepare the Gooey Layer: Whisk liquid sweetener, milk, and vanilla together in a small bowl and set aside.
  9. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  10. Beat in the egg, scrape down sides of the bowl, and mix 10 seconds more.
  11. Add 1/3 of the flour and mix, then 1/2 of the vanilla mixture and mix. Repeat again, twice, until all of the flour has been mixed until just combined.
  12. Dollop over the cookie base and spread carefully with an offset spatula or butter knife.
  13. Make the Topping: Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a tiny dish and sprinkle it over the entire gooey layer. It will be thick but will come out of the oven almost like a creme brûlée lid, i.e. awesomely.
  14. To Bake & Serve: Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the cookies have bronzed on top. The gooey layer will rise and fall in the oven but will still be a bit liquidy under the cinnamon crust when the squares are done.
  15. Let cool completely on a rack, then cut into 1-inch squares.

Note: The squares keep at room temperature in an airtight container for at least a week.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

If you like this you may also like:

Apple Biscoff Crumble

We love love LOVE LOVE Biscoff cookies in our house. An absolute favorite. (You get the idea…) When I saw this recipe, it had to be made ASAP!! We ate it warm with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. It transported us to a Parisian bistro with every bite. Easy and fabulous!!

This recipe was adapted from Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere by Dorie Greenspan. I used a combination of Gala, Fuji, Pink Lady, and Granny Smith apples. Greenspan suggests that any fruit can be substituted for the apples (making it a year-round dessert!!): peaches, nectarines, plums, berries, or cherries in the summer, pears, bananas, or pineapple in the winter, or a holiday mix of cranberries, apples, dried fruit and nuts. I’m pretty sure we’ll be eating it at least once a season! :)

  • 2 pounds (900 grams) apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 T granulated sugar
  • 3 T plump raisins
  • 1 package (about 8 oz) Biscoff or other speculoos cookies
  • 1 stick (8 T) unsalted butter, cut into small chunks, at room temperature
  • vanilla bean ice cream for serving
  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (on convection).
  2. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan or a baking dish that holds 4 to 5 cups. Put the dish on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the apples with the sugar and raisins. Set aside, but stir occasionally while assembling the topping.
  4. Using your hands, break the cookies into pieces in a large bowl. Add the butter and toss, turn and press the cookies and butter with your fingers, working them together until you have a fairly well-blended ball. (You want the cookies to stick together.)
  5. Stir the apple mixture and then pour it into the prepared baking dish. Spoon any accumulated juices over the mixture.
  6. Pull off bits of the crumble mixture and strew it over the apples- you should have enough to practically cover all of the fruit.
  7. Bake the crumble for 25 minutes and then tent it with foil to prevent over-browning. Continue to bake an additional 10 to 20 minutes, or until the topping is deeply brown and the fruit is bubbling.
  8. Transfer to a cooling rack and let it cool until it is just warm. (It can also be eaten at room temperature.) Serve with vanilla bean ice cream.

Two Years Ago:

If you like this you may also like:

Viennese Sablés

These cookies are supposed to taste just like the wonderful Danish butter cookies that come in the famous blue tin. (I think they may even be better!) Aside from that yummy association, what is really winning about them is their texture; they are very slightly crisp on the outside but the inside is soft and melts in your mouth. Mmmmmm.

This recipe is from Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere by Dorie Greenspan. According to Greenspan, they are traditionally piped into a “W” shape as both the initial for Wittamer, a famed pastry shop in Brussels where they are made, and for Wien, the German word for Vienna- where the cookies were thought to have been invented.

Despite requests from my kids to pipe the cookies into their own initials, I made the traditional “W”‘s. (I’ll get more adventurous next time!) Other suggested shapes included circles, pretzels, or swirls. I initially had difficulty piping the dough, but as the dough warmed up it became much easier to pipe. I was hoping that they would be worth the trouble- and- thank goodness- they were! :)

These cookies can be served just as they are or dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Greenspan suggests eating them with coffee or tea, ice cream, fruit salad, or creme brûlée. Delicious!!

Yield: Makes 2 dozen cookies

  • 9 T (4 1/2 oz; 128 grams) unsalted butter, very soft
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 large egg white, at room temperature
  • 3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 T (153 grams) all-purpose flour
  • confectioners’ sugar for dusting, optional
  1.  Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (on convection).
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  3. Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift the confectioners’ sugar over it, then add the salt.
  4. On low speed, beat until smooth but not fluffy. (You want the dough to be homogeneous, but you don’t want to beat air into it.)
  5. Beat in the egg white. The white will make the dough separate and it will be slick and slidey. Keep mixing for about 1 minute, and, if the mixture curdles, don’t be concerned; the flour will smooth it out.
  6. Beat in the vanilla and scrape down the bowl.
  7. Gradually add the flour, beating only until it disappears into the soft dough.
  8. Fit a pastry bag with an open star tip, one that’s a scant 1/2 inch in diameter. Scrape the dough into the piping bag.
  9. Pipe the dough onto the lined baking sheets in tight “W” shapes that are 2 inches wide and 1 1/2 inches high (or in desired shape), leaving about 2 inches of space between them (the dough will puff and spread under heat).
  10. Bake the cookies for 14 to 15 minutes on convection, or up to 17 to 20 minutes in a standard oven, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The cookies should be golden brown at their edges and on their bottoms and paler at the center.
  11. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes, then transfer them to racks to cool to room temperature.
  12. Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving, if desired.

Note: These cookies will keep for at least 1 week in an airtight container. They can be frozen for up to 2 months.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

If you like this you may also like:

Vanilla-Bean Sablés

I learned so many things from this recipe! My first lesson was to learn that the sablé, a simple shortbread cookie, is the French equivalent of the American chocolate chip cookie. The “icon.” Greenspan says that these cookies are really known for their fine texture (sablé means sandy)- “snappy around the edges, cakier in the center- its fresh butter flavor and, often, its bit of saltiness.” I HAD to try her version- what an irresistible description!! :)

Typically, the sugar and butter in cookie dough are mixed until light and fluffy. My next lesson was learning that in order to achieve the desired sandy texture in these cookies, the sugar and butter are mixed only until a smooth consistency is achieved (much less) so that air is not incorporated into the dough.

My third (most exciting!) lesson was learning how to achieve super-tight cookie logs! Greenspan includes her party-trick technique (with photos in the book) that I describe below to share with you. Worked perfectly. LOVE it!!

This recipe is from Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere by Dorie Greenspan. Delicious and pretty cookies- perfect for dessert, a snack, or with a cup of tea.

I’m sharing these with my friends for Fiesta Friday #60 at The Novice Gardener- Enjoy!!

Yield: about 36 cookies

For the Dough:

  • 1/3 cup (67 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 moist, fragrant vanilla beans
  • 2 sticks (8 oz; 226 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (40 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 cups (272 grams) all-purpose flour

For the Edging:

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • coarse sanding sugar or turbinado sugar
  1. Put the granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  2. Cut the vanilla beans in half lengthwise and scrape the pulp over the sugar. (I save the pods in a jar filled with turbinado sugar to make vanilla sugar.) Using your fingertips, rub the vanilla pulp into the sugar until it’s fragrant.
  3. Add the butter, confectioners’ sugar and salt to the bowl and beat on low speed until the mixture is smooth and creamy (you DON’T want it to get light and fluffy), scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
  4. Drop in the egg yolk and beat for 1 minute.
  5. Add the flour all at once and pulse the mixer on and off to start incorporating it into the dough. Mix on low speed just until the flour has disappeared (or do this last little bit by hand with a flexible spatula).
  6. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide it in half. Shape each half into a log about 9 inches long. (**Trick to get really tight logs (perfectly round and free of air pockets): Place a large sheet of parchment paper on the counter. Place the cookie log one-third in and parallel to one short edge. Fold the remaining two-thirds of the parchment paper over the log. Grab the bottom edge of the parchment with one hand and place a ruler on top of the overlaying parchment with the other hand. Wedge the ruler against the bottom of the log. Push the ruler under the log at the same time that you pull the bottom paper toward you. Don’t be afraid to aggressively push and pull- it will result in a firm log. Lift the paper off of the dough.**)
  7. Wrap the logs in parchment and/or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. (They can be wrapped airtight and put in the freezer for up to 2 months. Let the logs sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before cutting and baking; no need to fully defrost.) I place them in a wrapping paper tube in order to ensure that they keep their round shape in the refrigerator.
  8. To Bake: Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degrees (on convection). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  9. Add a splash of cold water to the yolk and mix with a fork to blend. Brush each log with this egg wash and roll it in sanding sugar until it’s evenly coated.
  10. Using a sturdy knife, trim the ends of the logs if they’re ragged, then cut the dough int 1/2-inch thick rounds. Place them on the baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.
  11. Bake the cookies for 14 to 15 minutes (on convection) or for up to 18 to 22 minutes in a standard oven, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The cookies are baked when they are brown around the edges and golden on the bottom.
  12. Carefully transfer them to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature. These cookies really shouldn’t be eaten warm; they need time to cool so that their texture will set properly. The cookies will keep in an airtight container for about one week.

Variations:

  • Lemon Sablés: Rub the grated zest of 1 1/2 lemons into the sugar with the vanilla bean.
  • Orange Sablés: Rub the grated zest of 1 orange into the sugar with the vanilla bean.
  • Nut Sablés: Lightly toast 1/2 cup hazelnuts (skin them while they are still warm), almonds, pistachios, or other nuts, finely chop them and mix them into the dough once the flour is incorporated.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

If you like this you may also like:

Outrageous Chocolate Chunk Cookies

IMG_2844

Move over brownies! These cookies are super chocolatey, soft, and chewy. Loaded with chocolate chunks. Quick, easy, and delicious. The recipe for these tasty cookies was adapted from Martha Stewart Living; I melted the chocolate in a double boiler and adapted the cooking time to use a convection oven. I’m ready to make them again!!

I’m bringing these goodies to Fiesta Friday #59 at The Novice Gardener. Enjoy :)

Yield: Makes 2 dozen

  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 package (10-12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chunks
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (on convection).
  2. Heat chopped chocolate and butter over a double boiler. Set aside to cool.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla on high-speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low; beat in melted chocolate.
  5. Mix in flour mixture until just combined. Stir in chocolate chunks.
  6. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough 2 to 3 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are shiny and crackly yet soft in centers, 8 to 10 minutes in a convection oven, or up to 12 to 15 minutes in a standard oven. Cool on baking sheets 10 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. (Do not bake the cookies to a crisp; they are meant to be soft and chewy.)

Note: Don’t worry if the batter seems thin. It should look more like a brownie batter than a cookie dough.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

If you like this you may also like:

Baby Sea Turtles, a Volcano, & the Perfect Spritz Cookies

I HAVE to share… My family and I were able to escape our frigid New York weather for Valentine’s Day this year. It was WONDERFUL! :)

Besides being relaxed and warm, we were able to enjoy the sunset from the top of a volcano,

DSCN0213

IMG_2568

and release baby sea turtles into the Pacific Ocean each night after sunset. (When the sky was free from pelicans, hawks, and vultures! :/ )

IMG_2671

DSCN0288

DSCN0290

Amazing!!

Before we left on our trip, I did squeeze in a Valentine’s Day dessert (of course!). This is a simple and amazing recipe for what I think are the perfect spritz cookies. When working as a chef years ago, the father of one of my daughter’s best friends made thousands of these cookies. (TWENTY thousand in a weekend for a single event to be exact- I am happy he is still willing to make them!) He has since made them with his kids and their friends (including my lucky daughter!) and I have been the fortunate recipient of not only warm cookies but also the fabulous recipe. I’m happy to share it this week with my friends at Fiesta Friday #57 at The Novice Gardener. By changing the cookie press shape, they are perfect for any occasion! We ate most of them plain but sandwiched some of them with dulce de leche or Biscoff spread. Yum! :)

Perfect Spritz Cookies

  • 8 oz butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 3 oz (6 T) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees on convection.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream butter and cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add sugar; beat to combine.
  4. Add egg yolk and vanilla; beat well.
  5. Add salt and cinnamon; beat to combine.
  6. Slowly add flour and mix on low speed until incorporated.
  7. Using a cookie press, pipe onto parchment-lined cookie sheets.
  8. Bake for 11 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

IMG_2508

Fudgy Brownie Cake

Brownies are often considered to be cookies- but isn’t it fun to consider them as a cake?!? Fudgy or cakey (I love it all!!) they are one of my absolute favorite desserts- especially warm with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on the side. :) This cake was made with Lindt 70% cacao dark chocolate- AMAZING rich flavor. Super moist and fudgy too. This recipe is from Martha Stewart Living. I adapted the time to bake in a convection oven.

I’m bringing this snow day comfort food to share with my friends at Angie of The Novice Gardener’s First Fiesta Friday Anniversary Celebration (Part 2). Enjoy!!

IMG_2277

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into large pieces, plus more for pan
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (61 to 70 percent cacao), finely chopped (I used Lindt 70% cacao dark chocolate)
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. Melt butter and chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring until smooth.
  3. Remove chocolate mixture from heat, and whisk in 3/4 cup sugar.
  4. Whisk in egg yolk, then cocoa powder and salt.
  5. Beat egg whites with a mixer on medium speed until foamy. Raise speed to medium-high, gradually beat in remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, and beat until soft, glossy peaks form, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  6. Fold flour into chocolate mixture with a rubber spatula, then fold in egg whites.
  7. Pour batter into pan, and bake until set, about 25 minutes on convection or up to 33 minutes in a standard oven.
  8. Let cake cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Remove side of pan, and dust top of cake with cocoa powder.

Note: Cake can be stored in pan at room temperature, wrapped in plastic wrap (do not let plastic touch cake), up to 1 day.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

If you like this you may also like:

Black Hole Birthday Cake

I am terrified by the concept of a black hole. Massive collapsing stars with such a strong gravitational pull they are swallowing up surrounding stars out there in the galaxy. It makes me feel like such a little helpless speck on this Earth…. On the other hand, my now 10-year-old son loves thinking about the concept of a black hole- completely fascinating (but still scary!) for him. :) He has such an interest in astronomy and things greater than we are here on our little planet.

IMG_1943

I am also frightened to have four 9-year-old boys sleepover at my house! Well, I recently had to conquer these fears in order to celebrate my son’s birthday. All he wished for was a black hole birthday cake and a sleepover party. We all survived! (The cake was tasty- not scary- and we had fun!) :)

IMG_1938

This vanilla bean bundt cake recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, via Sweetapolita. The original recipe calls for lemon extract in the cake batter as well as a vanilla bean glaze over the top of the cake. I omitted the lemon extract because of my son’s preference for a pure vanilla cake. (Personally, I think it would have been tastier to include it!) After a bit of a struggle about how to create a black hole out of a vanilla cake, I replaced the vanilla glaze with a dark chocolate ganache in order to make the black hole “black“! The ganache was delicious, but I included the recipe for the vanilla bean glaze below because it sounds like a lovely alternative. The dark chocolate ganache recipe was adapted from Food and Wine. I melted the chocolate over a double boiler until it was completely smooth before drizzling. OR…Forget the glazes- this cake would be just as delicious simply dusted with confectioners’ sugar. I love how a simple dusting lets the beautiful shape of the cake steal the show.

I can’t believe my son is TEN!!! :( (For the second year in a row, he requested that his Birthday “Number Cookies” be Roman Numerals!)

IMG_1937

For the Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake:

  • 3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon (4 g) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 g) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon (4 g) salt
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (2-1/4 sticks)(255 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1-3/4 cups (350 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 vanilla beans, halved lengthwise or 2 tablespoons (30 ml) vanilla bean paste
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) pure lemon extract, optional but recommended
  • 1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk, at room temperature

For the Vanilla Bean Glaze:

  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped or 1 tablespoon 915 ml) vanilla bean paste
  • 2-3 tablespoons (30-45 ml) whole milk
  • about 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

For the Dark Chocolate Ganache Glaze:

  • 3 oz dark bittersweet chocolate,  finely chopped/shaved  (I used 72% cacao dark chocolate)
  • 1/2 T corn syrup
  • 1/2 T unsalted butter
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • 5 T heavy cream

IMG_1957

For the Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (convection) with rack in middle. Generously butter pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess.
  2. Weigh and then whisk together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Beat together butter and sugar in an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape seeds from vanilla beans with tip of a paring knife and add into butter mixture, reserving pods for another use, and beat until well combined, about 1 minute.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in lemon extract (if using) until well combined. At low-speed add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture, mixing until just combined.
  5. Pour batter into pan, smoothing and spreading evenly. Gently tap pan on counter to eliminate air bubbles.
  6. Bake until the tip of a knife or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes on convection, or up to one hour in a standard oven. Cool in pan 1 hour, then invert onto a rack and cool completely, about 1 hour more.
  7. Once the cake has cooled, drizzle glaze (vanilla bean glaze OR chocolate ganache glaze OR confectioners’ sugar) over top.

IMG_2007

For the Vanilla Bean Glaze:

  1. Split vanilla bean and scrape seeds into whole milk. Let sit in a spouted container, such as a large pyrex measuring cup, for about an hour.
  2. Add confectioners’ sugar gradually, whisking, until you get desired consistency–about 1 cup.
    You want to make sure that it’s not too runny, or it won’t dry white on the cake, and will run off too quickly. It should take a few seconds to whisk it, and it will feel too thick at first–keep whisking until you get desired thickness. If too thick, add a teaspoon or so of the vanilla milk.

For the Ganache Glaze:

  1. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil.
  2. In a heatproof bowl, combine the remaining 3 ounces of chopped chocolate with the salt, corn syrup, and butter. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let stand until melted, about 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. (At this point, I had to gently continue heating the mixture over a double boiler while constantly mixing until smooth.)
  3. Briefly let the ganache glaze cool until thick but still pourable.
  4. Drizzle the ganache over the cooled cake. Let the cake stand until the glaze is set, at least 30 minutes, before serving.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Spritz Butter Cookies

IMG_1598

I have had difficulty with cookie press dough in the past. The consistency of this dough was absolutely perfect and easy to punch through the press. So, of course, the new problem was that half of my little Christmas tree cookies had a practically unrecognizable shape! I opted to make these little “wreaths”- and had absolutely no issues with the shape. :) This recipe was adapted from the Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. According to the author, the cornstarch makes the cookies more delicate and easier to push through the cookie press.

These were my husband’s favorite Christmas cookie this year; they reminded him of “fresh” Danish butter cookies. Buttery with a hint of almond. Lovely!

  • 44 g (1/2 cup minus 1 T/1.5 oz) blanched sliced almonds
  • 257 g (9.1 oz/2 cups plus 2 T) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 30 g (1 oz/1/4 cup) cornstarch
  • a pinch of fine sea salt
  • 150 g (5.3 oz/3/4 cup) superfine sugar
  • 2 sticks (16 T/8 oz/227 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp pure almond extract
  • sugar sprinkles for decorating, optional
  1. Set an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (convection) for 30 minutes or longer before baking.
  2. Spread the almonds evenly on a baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes, or until pale gold. Stir once or twice to ensure even toasting and avoid over browning. Cool completely.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and salt.
  4. In a food processor, process the almonds until fairly fine. (They have to be able to squeeze through the cookie press!)
  5. Whisk the almonds into the flour mixture.
  6. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a flat beater, beat the sugar and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  7. Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract and beat for 30 seconds, or until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  8. Add the flour mixture and pulse in just until blended. Do not over mix.
  9. Scrape the mixture onto a sheet of plastic wrap and use the outside of the plastic wrap to knead together the dough until it is completely even and soft enough to pipe smoothly.
  10. Form sections of the dough into a log and put into the tube of a cookie press. (Cover remaining dough.)
  11. Using the press, place cookies on parchment-lined cookie sheets 1-inch apart.
  12. Decorate with sugar sprinkles, if using.
  13. Bake cookies for 6 to 7 minutes (convection) or up to 10 to 12 minutes in a standard oven, or until pale gold.
  14. Cool on a wire rack.

Note: Cookies can be stored airtight at room temperature for 1 month; refrigerated or frozen for 6 months.

IMG_1587

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

my foodgawker gallery
my photos on tastespotting

Community

Top Posts & Pages

Archives

Recipe Categories

Foodista Food Blog of the Day Badge
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 458 other followers

%d bloggers like this: