French Strawberry Cake

A friend shared this wonderful recipe with me knowing that I go strawberry picking every June. I couldn’t wait for my fresh picked berries to make it though. 😉 It was such a crowd pleaser, I will have to make it again with my special berries! It’s a summertime version of French Apple Cake. We ate it for dessert but it would also be fabulous as a coffee cake.

This recipe was adapted from Foodtastic Mom, via The View from the Great Island. I used 3 large eggs instead of jumbo eggs and modified the baking time. The recipe suggests baking the cake in a springform pan or a cast iron skillet. Next time, I’ll have to try the skillet version. Amazing!

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 14 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  1. Set oven to 350°F, preferably on convection.
  2. Lightly spray a 9 or 10 inch springform pan with cooking oil spray. (Alternatively, a 10-inch cast iron skillet can be used.)
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
  4. Cream the soft butter with 1 cup of granulated sugar in a stand mixer for 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl a couple of times.
  5. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then beat in the vanilla.
  6. Stir the sour cream and buttermilk together, and then add the flour to the mixing bowl alternately with the wet, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix until combined, but be careful not to overmix.
  7. Fold in the berries and turn into the prepared pan. Smooth out the top. Sprinkle the surface of the cake liberally with the remaining 1/4 cup of granulated sugar.
  8. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the cake no longer jiggles in the center and the top is golden and slightly crackled. This cake is meant to be custardy in the center. The exact cooking time will depend on the pan size you use. You can insert a toothpick in the center to test. (I baked mine for 38 minutes in a 9-inch springform pan.)
  9. Let cool briefly, and then unlatch the spring and remove the outer ring. I like to run a spreading knife along the edge first to loosen any parts of the cake that are sticking to the pan. If using a skillet, serve the cake right out of the pan.
  10. Cool completely on a rack before slicing.

Notes:

  • This version uses half sour cream and half buttermilk, but you can use all sour cream, all buttermilk, half and half, full fat yogurt, or full fat milk for this cake.
  • Other berries or fruit can be substituted for the strawberries.

One Year Ago: Berry Breeze and Blueberry Muffin Tops with Streusel Topping

Two Years Ago: Whole Grain Blueberry Muffins with Orange Streusel

Three Years Ago: Dori Sanders’ Blueberry Cornmeal Muffins

Four Years Ago: Alton Brown’s Berry Muffins

Five Years Ago: Whole Wheat Raspberry Ricotta Scones

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Brown Butter & Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oh my… these were quite fabulous. The combination of brown butter, dark chocolate, and the finishing touch of sea salt really elevated this incredible variation of a classic chocolate chip cookie. I know that I will make them again and again. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Kate Davis. I used Nestlé 62% cacao bittersweet chocolate morsels instead of the recommended dark chocolate wafers or disks, and they were still absolutely amazing. I also made smaller cookies.

Yield: about 50 cookies

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 chocolate toffee bars, 1.4 oz/39 g each, (preferably Skor), chopped into ¼-inch pieces
  • 1½ cups chocolate wafers (disks, pistoles, fèves; preferably 72% cacao) (I used one 10 oz bag of Nestlé 62% cacao bittersweet chocolate morsels)
  • flaky sea salt
  1. Cook butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until it foams, then browns, 5–8 minutes. Scrape into the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl) and let cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk flour, baking soda, and kosher salt in a separate medium bowl.
  3. Add brown sugar and granulated sugar to the browned butter. Using the mixer on medium speed, beat until incorporated, about 1 minute.
  4. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until mixture lightens and begins to thicken, about 30 seconds.
  5. Reduce mixer speed to low; add dry ingredients and beat just to combine.
  6. Mix in toffee pieces and chocolate wafers with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula.
  7. Let dough sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes to allow the flour to hydrate. Dough will look very loose at first, but will thicken as it sits. (I let my dough sit for 1 hour.)
  8. Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 375°, preferably on convection. Using a small ice cream scoop, portion out 11 balls of dough and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing about 3″ apart (you can also form dough into ping pong–sized balls with your hands). Do not flatten; cookies will spread as they bake. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  9. Bake cookies until edges are golden brown and firm but centers are still soft, 7 to 9 minutes.
  10. Let cool on baking sheets 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  11. Repeat with remaining dough and fresh parchment-lined baking sheets.

Do Ahead: Cookie dough can be made 3 days ahead; cover and chill. Let dough come to room temperature before baking.

One Year Ago: Apple-Cider Doughnut Cake

Two Years Ago: Chocolate-Avocado Pudding

Three Years Ago: Lemony Butter Cookies and Vanilla Rose Cake

Four Years Ago: Speculoos and Mini M&M Cookies

Five Years Ago: Banana-Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies and Pretzel-Shortbread Bars

Vanilla Flan

After gobbling up a double batch of chips and guacamole followed by Sam Sifton’s Middle School Tacos, we ate this flan as our celebratory Cinco de Mayo dessert this year.

A while ago, my son read a book that mentioned flan and he really wanted to make it. We actually made it together at that time. 🙂  It really is quite simple to prepare, and he felt like he had achieved a great accomplishment when it came out well. He’s been asking to have it again ever since!

I think that it is particularly delicious served with strawberries. This recipe is a blend of multiple flan recipes- including one from my grandmother.

Yield: One 8-inch flan

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (low fat can be substituted)
  • 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
  • 1 T pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • strawberries, for serving, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan; bring to a simmer and stir until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, without stirring, occasionally swirling, until amber, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Pour into a 1 1/2 to 2 qt (8-in) ceramic baking dish or 8-in cake pan, tilting to cover the bottom surface and halfway up the sides of the dish.
  5. Place the prepared dish on a dish towel or a silicone pot holder (to prevent it from shifting) inside a roasting pan. (I used an enameled cast iron lasagna pan.)
  6. Place the eggs, condensed milk, evaporated milk, vanilla, and salt in a Vitamix. Blend for 20 seconds. (Alternatively, mixture can be whisked in a bowl until combined.)
  7. Pour through a fine strainer into the prepared pan.
  8. Slide the oven rack out and place the roasting pan on the hot rack.
  9. Fill the outside of the pan with HOT water halfway up the sides of the flan dish.
  10. Bake for 60-70+ minutes, or until the center is wobbly.
  11. Remove from the oven; let cool to room temperature.
  12. Remove flan from the water bath. Cool and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  13. Dip the bottom of the dish in warm water, then invert onto a rimmed platter. Serve.

One Year Ago: Cheesy Enchilada Skillet

Two Years Ago: Cinco de Mayo Chicken-Chipotle Tacos

Three Years Ago:

Four Years Ago:

Five Years Ago:

Raspberry Crumb Muffins

A couple of my friends thought that I was joking when I told them that I try not to bake that much! I am trying not to… 😉

That being said, I was dying to make these as soon as I saw them on Marisa’s Italian Kitchen.  She made them in the most darling muffin pan too. This recipe was adapted from New York City’s Clinton Street Baking Company Cookbook, via Marisa’s Italian Kitchen. I incorporated white whole wheat flour, modified the proportions, and reduced the baking time.

They were a very special breakfast. 🙂

Yield: 10 muffins

For the Crumb Topping:

  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 T unsalted butter, cubed

For the Muffin Batter:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • a teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup white whole wheat flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries or blueberries, plus 10 additional raspberries for topping (or 20+ blueberries)
  • Crumb Topping (above)
  1. In a small bowl, mix together all the Crumb Topping ingredients using a pastry blender, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Refrigerate the crumb mixture until your ready to use it. (This can be prepared in advance.)
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F, preferably on convection.
  3. Line a muffin pan with 10 paper muffin cups or coat with cooking oil spray.
  4. Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the egg and the lemon zest to the mixture and blend until combined.
  6. Whisk the flour, baking powder and baking soda in a separate bowl.
  7. Mix in ¼ cup of the sour cream into the butter mixture, then half of the flour mixture and repeat with the rest of the sour cream and flour mixture. Do not over mix!
  8. Gently fold in the 1 cup of raspberries with a rubber spatula until evenly distributed.
  9. Scoop the batter into the muffin cups and top each muffin with 1 tablespoon of the Crumb Mix and a raspberry.
  10. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, on a middle rack, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean.
  11. Allow to cool, then serve.

One Year Ago: Crisp Toffee Bars

Three Years Ago: Tate’s Shortbread and Gooey Cinnamon Squares

Four Years Ago:

Five Years Ago:

Easter Carrot Cake

This is the best carrot cake I’ve ever had in my life. My entire family felt the same way. I’ll never be able to try another version.

When my friend gave me this special cookbook, she mentioned that the carrot cake recipe was wonderful and that it incorporated crushed pineapple. I can’t believe I waited so long to make it! The author notes that this is their most popular cake- and that its sales in the bakery double every year. It really was unbelievably delicious.

This recipe was adapted from Kathleen’s Bake Shop Cookbook: The Best Recipes from Southampton’s Favorite Bakery for Homestyle Cookies, Cakes, Pies, Muffins, and Breads by Kathleen King, founder of Tate’s Bake Shop. I roasted the walnuts, reduced the baking time, and lined the cake pans with parchment paper.

Yield: One 9-inch, 2-layer cake

For the Cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups grated carrots (from 5 to 6 carrots)
  • 1/2 cup chopped raw walnuts
  • 1 cup crushed and drained pineapple
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Roast the walnuts until lightly browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  3. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  4. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, grease paper and dust pans with flour.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  6. In another large bowl, mix sugar and oil.
  7. Beat in eggs with an electric mixer. (I used a hand held mixer.)
  8. Stir in carrots, roasted nuts, and pineapple.
  9. Stir in the flour mixture.
  10. Pour into prepared pans. (I use a scale to ensure that the pans hold an equal amount of batter.)
  11. Bake for 35 minutes on convection, or up to 45 minutes in a standard oven, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  12. Remove pans to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes before removing from the pans.
  13. Let the cakes cool completely before icing.

For the Cream-Cheese Icing and To Finish the Cake:

  • 1 pound cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the cream cheese and butter until smooth.
  2. Add vanilla and mix.
  3. Beat in the sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  4. Spread the icing between the 9-inch layers and over the top and sides of the cake.
  5. Chill before serving. (I made the cake a day in advance.)

Note: This cake is very moist and keeps for at least a week in the refrigerator; it also freezes perfectly unfrosted.

One Year Ago: French Apple Cake

Two Years Ago: Carrot-Cake Thumbprint Cookies

Three Years Ago: Outrageous Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Four Years Ago: Jacques Pepin’s Plum Galette and Raspberry Custard Tart

Five Years Ago: Carrot Cupcakes and Cheesecake Brownies

Linzer Hearts

We drag out holidays in my house. One day just isn’t enough of a celebration. 😉

We were so busy eating leftover Mardi Gras King Cake on Valentine’s Day, I had to make a belated Valentine’s Day dessert! The truth is that I was procrastinating a little bit. As much as I wanted to make this special dessert for my husband, I really didn’t want to peel the hazelnuts. :/ I was quite happy to find a method to remove the skin by blanching the nuts. This method is a little bit time-consuming but it completely removes the bitter skin. Yay!

These cookies were very special- completely worth every minute of work. My husband wants me to add them to our Christmas cookie assortment! (in a different shape, of course) The blanching method used to peel the hazelnuts was adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum, via Fine Cooking.com. The cookie recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. Wonderful!

Yield: 9 3-inch sandwich cookies and 14 2-inch heart cookies

  • 4 1/2 oz (1 cup) raw hazelnuts
  • 4 T baking soda, for blanching the hazelnuts
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup raspberry jam, for filling
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

To Blanch, Peel, and Roast the Hazelnuts:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add 4 T baking soda and the hazelnuts.
  3. Boil for 3 minutes- expect the water to turn black. Run a nut under cold water and see if the skin slips off easily. If not, boil the nuts a little longer until the skins slip off.
  4. Strain and then cool the nuts under cold running water, slip off the skins, blot dry with paper towels.
  5. Place peeled nuts on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Roast in the preheated oven for 7 to 10 minutes, until fragrant.
  6. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.
  7. Pulse the nuts in a food processor until finely ground.

To Make the Cookies:

  1. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
  2. Whisk the ground hazelnuts into the flour mixture; set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and granulated sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Add the egg yolks, vanilla, and lemon zest; beat to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  5. With the mixer on low-speed, add hazelnut-flour mixture, and beat until just combined, about 10 to 15 seconds.
  6. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface or onto plastic wrap. Divide in half and shape into flattened disks.
  7. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight. (I refrigerated overnight.)
  8. Remove one disk of dough from the refrigerator, and let stand until softened slightly. (This will help keep the dough from cracking when rolled.)
  9. Between layers of plastic wrap or on a large piece of parchment paper lightly dusted with flour, roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Wrap in plastic wrap and transfer to a baking sheet. Place in freezer and freeze until firm, about 20 minutes.
  10. Repeat with second disk of dough. (You can stack the parchment and dough in the freezer.)
  11. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, preferably on convection. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  12. Remove one sheet of dough from the freezer. Working quickly, cut into heart shapes with a 3-inch cookie cutter. Cut out the center from half of the shapes with a 2-inch cutter. (If the dough begins to soften too much, return to the freezer for a few minutes.)
  13. Transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart. (I kept the similar shaped cookies on separate sheets as they had the same baking time.) Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.
  14. Repeat with second sheet of dough.
  15. Bake on the center rack, one cookie sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until cookies are crisp and lightly golden all over, about 17 minutes for full 3-inch hearts and 15 minutes for the open hearts and full 2-inch hearts.
  16. Let cool slightly on cookie sheet and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. (Cooled cookies can be stored overnight in an airtight container at room temperature before filling.)
  17. Spread the flat sides of the whole hearts with jam.
  18. Sift confectioners’ sugar over the open hearts.
  19. Just before serving, top open hearts with jam. Cookies should be eaten the day they’re filled.

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Four Years Ago:

Five Years Ago:

Vanilla Cupcake Ice Cream Sandwiches

Who isn’t a fan of an ice cream sandwich? We love every variation in my house, so, naturally, I had to try this version using vanilla cupcake tops.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Candace Nelson. I made the cupcake tops using a muffin top pan to give them more surface area- genius, right?

We gobbled up these all-American treats for dessert during the Super Bowl this year. I filled half with salted caramel gelato and half with vanilla bean ice cream. The vanilla ice cream-filled sandwiches were our favorite.

Yield: Serves 6

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°, preferably on convection. Coat a standard muffin pan or a muffin top pan with cooking oil spray.
  2. 
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the milk with the vanilla.
  4. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with the sugar 
at medium-high speed, scraping down the bowl once or twice, until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  5. At medium-low speed, beat in the eggs one at a time until incorporated.
  6. At low-speed, beat in the dry ingredients and the milk mixture in 3 alternating additions until smooth.
  7. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the batter into each prepared cup.
  8. Bake the cupcakes for 15 minutes if using a muffin top pan, or about 18 to 25 minutes in a standard pan, until a toothpick inserted in 
the centers comes out clean.
  9. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then cool 
completely on a wire rack, about 1 hour.
  10. Working with 1 cupcake at a time, carefully slice off the cake top. Reserve 
the cupcake bottom for another use.
  11. Arrange the top smooth side down 
on a platter. Repeat with the remaining cupcakes. Freeze the tops for 1 hour.
  12. Spread 1/4 cup of the ice cream 
onto each of 6 cupcake tops.
  13. Close the sandwiches with the remaining cupcake tops and gently press together. Wrap individually in plastic wrap.
  14. Freeze for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Note: The ice cream sandwiches can be wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to 1 week. Let soften at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

One Year Ago: Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Two Years Ago: Country Apple Fritter Bread

Three Years Ago: Soft Baked Snickerdoodles

Four Years Ago:

Five Years Ago:

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