Vanilla-Sour Cream Cake with Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting

I have had my eye on a couple of easy sheet cake recipes. My indecisiveness led me to combine them. 😉 It was a successful combination! This cake was moist and delicious.

The simple vanilla cake is from Food 52, from their book Genius Desserts, contributed by Jami Curl. It was proposed to serve it topped with strawberry compote & butterscotch whipped cream. I included these original topping recipes below- just to keep my options open.

The frosting recipe is from Bon Appétit, contributed by Claire Saffitz. It was originally from an easy sheet cake recipe with a “reverse creaming” technique. Of course, I’ll have to try this cake as well at some point. 🙂

For the Vanilla–Sour Cream Cake:

  • 3 1/3 cups (400 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 T plus 2 tsp (20 g) baking powder
  • 1 tsp (5 g) kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup (227 g) sour cream
  • 1/2 cup (105 g) canola oil
  • 1 T (18 g) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup (75 grams) boiling water

For the Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 6 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 T) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/2 to 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • sprinkles, for garnish, optional

To Make the Vanilla–Sour Cream Cake:

  1. Heat the oven to 350°F, preferably on convection. Line the bottom of a 9×13-inch pan with parchment paper. Spray with cooking oil spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Whisk until combined.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the eggs and sour cream with a fork, mixing until smooth. Add the oil and vanilla and use the fork to mix until they’re incorporated. The mixture will be smooth and creamy.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and continue to stir until the dry ingredients are mostly incorporated. The batter will turn very thick.
  5. Add the boiling water and stir until the batter is smooth and uniform with no traces of unmixed ingredients remaining.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and use a spatula to smooth it evenly into the corners.
  7. Bake the cake for 35 (to be safe- check even earlier) to 40 minutes, until it’s golden, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely.

To Make the Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting:

  1. Make icing while cake cools.
  2. Using electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add powdered sugar, sifted cocoa powder, and salt and beat again, scraping down sides of bowl, until completely smooth.
  4. Add vanilla and continue to beat until fluffy and lightened in color, another minute.
  5. Smooth icing over top of cooled cake (it should not be at all warm to the touch, or else the icing will melt).
  6. Top cake with sprinkles, if desired.
  7. Cut into pieces and serve.

Do Ahead: Cake can be baked and frosted 2 days ahead. Chill until icing is solid, then cover with plastic wrap and keep chilled. Bring to room temperature before serving.

For the Alternate Cake Toppings:

For the Strawberry Compote & Butterscotch Whipped Cream:

  • 4 cups (600 grams) frozen strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) apple cider vinegar
  • 4 cups (800 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 cups (480 grams) heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup (72 grams) brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (12 grams) pure vanilla extract

To Make the Strawberry Compote:

  1. Combine the strawberries and vinegar in a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until the fruit is soft and has released some juice.
  2. Add the granulated sugar 1 cup (200 grams) at a time, stirring between additions until the sugar disappears.
  3. Increase the heat to medium and bring the fruit and sugar to a boil. Boil for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Turn off the heat and let the compote cool before using.

To Make the Butterscotch Whipped Cream:

  1. Chill a bowl and a whisk.
  2. Pour the cream into the bowl and add the brown sugar and vanilla.
  3. Whisk the cream until stiff-ish peaks form. Take care that you don’t turn it into butter by overwhipping.(You can use a mixer with the whisk attachment to whip the cream.)
  4. Use immediately.

To Serve the Vanilla Sour-Cream Cake with Compote & Whipped Cream: **Two Options:

Option 1: Spoon the Strawberry Compote over the cake. Top the compote with the Butterscotch Whipped Cream, using the back of a spoon to give it some pretty swirls.

Option 2: Use the parchment paper to lift the cooled cake out of the pan. Cut the cake into 12 equal pieces. Spoon some Strawberry Compote over each piece. Top with a generous dollop of Butterscotch Whipped Cream.

Note: The Vanilla–Sour Cream Cake will keep, tightly covered at room temperature, for several days. Once assembled with the Strawberry Compote and Butterscotch Whipped Cream, plan to enjoy this cake the day you assemble it. That said, if you cover and refrigerate it, it will not disappoint the next day or the day after that. Especially for breakfast.

Sourdough Pancakes & Waffles

I apologize in advance for bombarding everyone with sourdough starter recipes. 😉

During this extended time at home, I decided to make a sourdough starter but started regretting throwing out the discarded starter on a daily basis- a twice daily basis. So, I started saving it to make other goodies. (I am keeping it in a jar in the refrigerator!)

These sourdough pancakes may be some of the best pancakes I’ve ever made. AMAZING. The first sourdough waffle recipe is a wonderful way to use an excess of starter without incorporating a lot of other ingredients, and, finally, the cinnamon-sugar sourdough waffles were a close second to the pancakes in terms of deliciousness factor. All great!

The recipe for the sourdough pancakes was adapted from theperfectloaf.com. I weighed the ingredients and used whole wheat flour and full fat Greek yogurt. We ate them topped with fresh berries and drizzled with pure maple syrup.

Sourdough Pancakes

Yield: about 16 pancakes

  • 2 large eggs
  • 245g (1 cup) whole milk
  • 61g (1/4 cup) Greek yogurt
  • 250g (about 1 1/2 cups, stirred down) non-fed sourdough starter
  • 4g (1 tsp) pure vanilla extract
  • 180g (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose and/or whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat flour)
  • 6g (1 tsp) baking soda, sifted
  • 4g (1 tsp) baking powder
  • 5g (1 tsp) fine sea salt
  • 50g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 63g (1/4 cup, 4T, or 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  1. Beat eggs in a medium bowl.
  2. Add milk, yogurt, sourdough starter, and vanilla. Stir to incorporate.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
  4. Add dry mix to the egg mixture, mixing well.
  5. Stir in melted butter.
  6. Let rest for about 30 minutes to let your sourdough starter get going just a bit. Adjust the consistency of the batter, if needed. (see note below)
  7. Lightly grease a hot griddle. (I used cooking oil spray.)
  8. Ladle the batter onto the griddle and cook until light brown and bubbles start to appear on top, then flip to cook the other side. Refrain from flipping multiple times.
  9. Serve with fresh berries and pure maple syrup, as desired.

Note: You may need to adjust the amount of milk depending on the stiffness of your sourdough starter and your preferred batter consistency. The above ingredients worked well with my starter; if you’re using a stiff starter, you might want to add around 1/2 cup more milk.

These sourdough waffles are the perfect option if you have a lot of starter to discard. I made them plain but plan to try them with incorporated fresh or frozen blueberries next time. We ate them topped with sliced bananas and pure maple syrup.

Sourdough Waffles

Yield: 8 waffles

  • 2 cups (454g) milkshake-thick sourdough starter discard (non-fed)
  • 4 T canola oil or melted butter
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup granulated or light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp baking soda, sifted
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • milk, if needed to adjust the batter consistency
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, optional
  • sliced bananas and/or fresh berries, to serve
  • maple syrup, to serve
  1. Combine starter, oil/butter, vanilla, sugar and egg in a large bowl. Whisk well to combine.
  2. Add baking soda and salt. Whisk to combine. Adjust the batter consistency with milk, if necessary.
  3. Fold in berries, if using.
  4. Lightly coat the waffle iron with cooking spray.
  5. Ladle some of the batter into the waffle iron to fill the pan. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until golden and crisp.
  6. Transfer to a cooling rack for a minute or two and then to a cutting board. Separate and keep warm.
  7. Repeat with the remaining waffle batter.
  8. Serve with fruit, drizzled with maple syrup, as desired.

These cinnamon-sugar sourdough waffles were very special. The recipe was adapted from Artisan Sourdough Made Simple: A Beginner’s Guide to Delicious Handcrafted Bread with Minimal Kneading by Emilie Raffa, via epicurious.com. I used white whole wheat flour and incorporated vanilla extract.

We ate them with cubed pineapple and fresh berries. My son sprinkled them with additional cinnamon-sugar. 🙂 Fabulous! I actually made a double batch.

Cinnamon-Sugar Sourdough Waffles

Yield: 7 to 8 waffles

For the Cinnamon-Sugar:

  • 1⁄4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp (3 g) cinnamon

For the Waffle Batter:

  • 1⁄2 cup (120 g) leftover starter (non-fed)
  • 1 cup (240 ml) milk, whole or 2% (I used 1%)
  • 3 to 4 T (42 g) unsalted butter, melted, divided
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (120 g) all-purpose flour and/or whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat flour)
  • 1 T (12 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp (10 g) baking powder
  • 1⁄2 tsp fine sea salt
  • cooking oil spray, for coating

Optional Toppings:

  • cubed fresh pineapple
  • mixed seasonal berries
  • coconut flakes
  • pure maple syrup, to serve (we ate them without syrup)
  1. Combine the cinnamon and sugar in a shallow bowl. Set aside.
  2. Preheat your waffle iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Combine the leftover starter, milk, 2 tablespoons (28 g) of melted butter, egg, and vanilla in a large bowl. Whisk well to combine.
  4. Add the sugar, baking, powder and salt and whisk until smooth.
  5. Add the flour and continue to whisk until smooth. If the batter seems too thick, add more milk to thin out the texture. (This will all depend on the consistency of your sourdough starter.)
  6. Lightly coat the waffle iron with cooking spray.
  7. Ladle some of the batter into the waffle iron to fill the pan. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until golden and crisp.
  8. Transfer to a cooling rack for a minute or two and then to a cutting board.
  9. Brush lightly with some of the remaining melted butter. Sprinkle with reserved cinnamon sugar to coat the top.
  10. Repeat with the remaining waffle batter.
  11. To serve, top your waffles with the pineapple, mixed berries, and coconut flakes, as desired. Enjoy with sweet maple syrup on the side. (We ate them without syrup.)

Note: Once completely cool, these waffles can be frozen for up to 2 months. Cover in plastic wrap and a layer of foil before freezing. Bake frozen at 350°F (180°C) until warmed through.

Sourdough Chocolate Chip Cookies

Like many others, when I started panicking about running out of bread yeast, I started the process of making a sourdough starter.

When I lived in South Carolina (in a former lifetime!), I had a sourdough starter that absolutely flourished. This go-round, in Long Island, it has been taking extra-long for my sourdough starter to achieve it’s full potential in my cold house. Because I’ve been feeding it for days, I have a lot of discard readily available. Thankfully, there are many different ways to put it to good use!

This recipe was adapted from Amanda Rettke of iambaker.net. I used a stand mixer, incorporated whole wheat flour, modified the cookie size, and baked the cookies in a convection oven. Very cakey and chocolatey.

Yield: 30 cookies

  • 14 T (1 stick + 3/4 stick) unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 cup (227gsourdough starter, unfed
  • 1 T pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (125g) white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda, sifted
  • 2 cups (16 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. In to bowl of a stand mixer or other large bowl, combine the softened butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes in a stand mixer. (Make sure the butter is soft enough to mix with the sugar by hand.)
  2. Add the egg to the mixture, stirring until incorporated.
  3. Stir in the sourdough starter and vanilla extract.
  4. Add the flour, salt, and baking soda, being careful to not over-mix.
  5. Incorporate the chocolate chips.
  6. Let the dough rest at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 15 minutes or refrigerate or up to overnight (in the refrigerator). (I have made them without refrigeration and they get more cake-like in texture.)
  7. When ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350°F, preferably on convection. (Let the refrigerated cookies come to room temperature.)
  8. Drop spoonfuls (2-3 tablespoons) of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. (I used a 3 tablespoon ice cream scoop.)
  9. Bake 8-10 minutes for a cake-like cookie or 6-8 minutes for a chewier cookie. The cookie may appear a little wet in the center and that is ok. It will continue to bake and be cooked throughout after being out of the oven for a few minutes. (Rettke recommends baking for 6-8 minutes- next time!)

Exceptionally Creamy Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

I have made many tried and true dinners and desserts during this quarantine period- more than usual. I was surprised to realize that I’ve never posted our gold standard and absolute favorite ice cream. This is it. 🙂

The recipe is from Food and Wine, contributed by Jeni Britton. I have made it for years! According to the recipe, the ice cream is exceptionally creamy from the inclusion of cornstarch to help thicken the base and cream cheese to make it more scoop-able. I confirm the results. Fabulous.

Yield: 3 1/2 cups

  1. Fill a large bowl with ice water.
  2. In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch.
  3. In another large bowl, whisk the cream cheese until smooth.  (I use a stainless steel bowl.)
  4. In a large saucepan, combine the remaining milk with the heavy cream, sugar, corn syrup and vanilla bean and seeds.
  5. Bring the milk mixture to a boil and cook over moderate heat until the sugar dissolves and the vanilla flavors the milk, about 4 minutes.
  6. Off the heat, gradually whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and cook over moderately high heat until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
  7. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth.
  8. Whisk in the salt.
  9. Set the bowl in the ice water bath and let stand, stirring occasionally, until cold, about 20 minutes.
  10. Strain the ice cream base into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (I churn it in the ice cream maker for 25 to 30 minutes.)
  11. Pack the ice cream into a plastic container or loaf pan.
  12. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the ice cream and close with an airtight lid or with additional plastic wrap.
  13. Freeze the vanilla ice cream until firm, about 4 hours.

Note: 1 tablespoon of Nielsen-Massey vanilla bean paste can be substituted for the split vanilla bean.

Traditional Ukrainian Easter Bread Podil’ia Style (Podil’ska Paska)

Happy Belated Easter! We were very lucky to enjoy beautiful weather yesterday. 🙂

I like to bake new Easter breads to serve for our holiday breakfast. This year, I looked through my Ukrainian cookbook collection for a paska (Ukrainian Easter bread) recipe.

My mother-in-law has given me several Ukrainian cookbooks and there were many variations of paska to choose from- all quite different from one another depending upon the region of their origin. Traditionally, a paska or babka is an essential part of an Easter breakfast. Many are beautifully decorated with a cross, braid, or birds. This version is more of a cake, with batter, and did not have dough that could be used to decorate the top.

The recipe was adapted from Festive Ukrainian Cooking by Marta Pisetska Farley. According to the book, this paska recipe, from the northwest province of Podil’ia, is at least a hundred years old! It is a golden paska, reminiscent of the sun, and is similar to a sponge cake.  It was very rich and indulgent.

Yield: One 9 or 10-inch cake

  • 1 cup dry white bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 10 large or extra-large eggs
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 to 4 T powdered sugar
  1. Line the bottom and sides or a 9, 10 or 12-inch springform pan with parchment paper. (Because I used a 9-inch pan (smaller than the original recipe suggests), I cut 7-inch tall pieces of parchment paper to line the sides of the pan, buttered on the portion lining the walls of the pan and sprayed with cooking spray above the walls of the pan.)
  2. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F, preferably on convection.
  3. Sift the bread crumbs until fine, then sift again with the flour baking powder, and spices.
  4. Add the grated lemon and orange zest.
  5. Separate the eggs.
  6. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the egg yolks with the granulated sugar until thick and pale, about 3 minutes.
  7. Add the vanilla and beat again.
  8. Fold the bread crumb mixture into the egg yolk mixture.
  9. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gently fold them into the batter until no white streaks can be seen.
  10. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until set or a toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour. (I was afraid that the cake would fall if I checked it too early- and baked it for 1 hour.)
  11. When fully baked, keep the cake in the oven with the door ajar, and allow to cool slowly. (The cake may fall slightly. Mine did!)
  12. When cool, remove the parchment paper and sprinkle the top with powdered sugar. Serve.

Cinnamon-Date Sticky Buns with Vanilla Glaze

The photo of this special breakfast is on the cover of the April issue of Bon Appétit. I made it almost immediately after seeing the magazine! I really liked the idea of using dates in the filling to add a little bit of natural sweetness and fiber- and to reduce the amount of sugar. Yum.

This recipe is from Bon Appétit, contributed by Molly Baz, Sohla El-Waylly, and Sarah Jampel. It was included in an article titled, “Butter, Sugar, Flour, Magic: A Basically Guide to Better Baking.” There are a lot of other delicious treats included in the article. 🙂 I made the dough and the date filling the day before assembling and baking.

It would be a lovely breakfast to serve on Easter morning.

Yield: 9 sticky buns

For the Dough:

  • 3/4 cup buttermilk or whole-milk plain yogurt
  • 7 T vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4-oz (2 1/4 tsp) envelope active dry yeast
  • 3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

For the Filling and Assembly:

  • 1 cup (180 g) packed Medjool dates, halved, pitted
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 T vegetable oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (83 g) Confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 T buttermilk or plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract

To Make the Dough:

  1. Combine the buttermilk and 6 tablespoons of oil in a small microwave-safe bowl. (It won’t get smooth.) Heat in the microwave in three 10-second intervals until just about body temperature, or when it registers 98°F with an instant-read thermometer. (Alternatively, the mixture can be heated in a small saucepan on medium-low for about 1 minute.)
  2. Whisk egg, brown sugar, and yeast in a liquid measuring cup to combine, then whisk in the buttermilk mixture.
  3. Pulse the flour, baking soda, and salt in a food processor to combine.
  4. With the motor running, stream in the buttermilk mixture. Process until about 80% of the dough comes together in a ball, about 2 minutes. (The mixture will look very wet at first, then the sides will begin to pull away.)
  5. Using a bowl scraper or rubber spatula, scrape the dough onto an unfloured surface. (It will be wet and sticky.)
  6. Knead, pushing it away from you, then pulling it back toward you, until a smooth ball forms, about 3 minutes. (You can lightly oil your hands if the dough is too sticky.) The dough will grow silkier, tighter, and easier to work with as you knead.
  7. Roll out the dough into a rough 8-inch square.
  8. Fold dough over onto itself to make and 8×4-inch rectangle, then flatten it slightly and fold over once more to make a 4-inch square.
  9. Roll dough back out into an 8-inch square.
  10. Repeat the folding process (Step 8); you will finish with a 4-inch square.
  11. Pour remaining 1 tablespoon of oil into a medium bowl and add dough (still folded); turn to coat.
  12. Cover bowl tightly and chill dough until doubled in volume, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day. (I refrigerated my dough overnight.)

To Make the Filling and Assemble:

  1. Place dates in a small bowl and pour in 1 1/2 cups hot water to cover. Let soak until softened, about 10 minutes.
  2. Drain dates and transfer to a food processor; discard soaking liquid.
  3. Add cinnamon, salt, and 2 tablespoons of oil.
  4. Purée, scraping down sides as needed, until smooth, about 4 minutes. (You should have about 1/2 cup purée.)
  5. Grease a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with remaining 1 tablespoon of oil.
  6. Transfer dough to a clean, unfloured surface and roll out to an 8-inch square.
  7. Fold in half into an 8×4-inch rectangle, then fold rectangle over itself to form a 4-inch square. If dough feels tough and uncooperative, let it sit for about 5 minutes to relax and try again.
  8. Roll out dough into a 12-inch square, about 1/4-inch thick.
  9. Dollop date purée all over. Using a small offset spatula, spread evenly over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border without purée along edge farthest from you.
  10. Sprinkle brown sugar over purée.
  11. Starting at the edge closest to you, roll up dough into a tight log.
  12. Using a sharp serrated knife and long sawing motions, trim about 1/2-inch of dough from both ends. (These ends can be discarded, but I baked them in a separate small ramekin.)
  13. Slice log crosswise into 3 sections, wiping knife clean between cuts.
  14. Slice each section crosswise into 3 buns. (I used a ruler.) You should have 9 buns total that are each about 1-inch thick. Transfer buns to prepared pan as you go.
  15. Cover pan tightly with plastic wrap or foil. Place in a warm, dry spot. (I used plastic wrap so that I could monitor the rising process. I also placed the pan in a warming drawer.)
  16. Let buns rise until they’re doubled in volume and spring back when poked, leaving only a small indentation, 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending on the humidity and warmth of your kitchen.
  17. Remove plastic wrap, if using, and cover pan with foil.
  18. Place a rack in the middle of the oven; preheat to 350°F, preferably on convection.
  19. Bake buns, still covered, until puffed, pale, and mostly set, about 20 minutes. (I baked the small ramekin with the extra end pieces, covered with foil, at the same time.)
  20. Remove foil and continue to bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes if you prefer a soft and squishy bun and up to 25 minutes for a more toasted bun. Let cool slightly. (I baked the small ramekin with the extra end pieces at this point for about 5 minutes- uncovered.)
  21. Meanwhile, whisk powdered sugar, buttermilk, and vanilla in a medium bowl to combine.
  22. Brush glaze over warm buns and serve in skillet.

Do Ahead: Purée can be made 3 days ahead. Place in an airtight container, cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.

Mini Gâteaux Breton

These cake-type cookies are based on the classic French cake. They are buttery, nutty and minimally sweet. Lovely!

This recipe is from The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. I used granulated sugar, unbleached all-purpose flour, and baked them in regular brioche pans instead of mini pans. I may need to purchase mini brioche pans for my next batch! 😉

Yield: Makes 14 regular or up to 38 mini cookies

  • 25 g (1/4 cup, 0.9 oz) blanched sliced or slivered almonds
  • 75 g (6 T, 2.6 oz) granulated sugar or superfine sugar
  • 1/8 tsp (0.7 g) fine sea salt
  • 9 T (1 1/4 sticks, 4.5 to 5 oz, 128 to 142 g) unsalted butter, preferably high fat
  • 2 large egg yolks (2 T plus 1 tsp, 35 ml, 1/3 oz, 37 g), at room temperature
  • 1/2 T (7.5 ml) kirsch, dark rum, or water
  • 3/4 tsp (3.7 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 125 g (1 cup, 4.4 oz) all-purpose flour
  1. Twenty minutes (or longer) before baking, set an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F (160° C).
  2. Toast the almonds: Spread the almonds evenly on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, or until pale gold. Stir once or twice to ensure even toasting and avoid over-browning. Cool completely.
  3. In a food processor, process the almonds with 2 T (25 g, 0.9 ounce) of the sugar and the salt until fairly fine but not powder.
  4. Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a flat beater, mix the remaining sugar and the bittern low-speed for about 1 minute, or until smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  5. On low-speed, beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, beating for about 20 seconds between each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  6. Add the almond mixture, water or liquor, and vanilla and mix on low-speed until the almond mixture is moistened. Beat for about 20 seconds until evenly incorporated.
  7. Add the flour in four parts, turning off the mixer between addition, and beat no the lowest speed for about 15 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  8. Scrape the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap. Wrap tightly and refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes, or until firm.
  9. If using regular brioche pans, use a large cookie scoop (about a tablespoon in volume) to ration the dough. (For mini brioche pans, scoop out rounded teaspoons of the dough (0.3 oz/10 g).
  10. Roll each piece of dough between the floured palms of your hands into a ball and set it into a brioche pan. (The flour will prevent the dough from sticking to the pan.)
  11. Press the dough balls into the pans. Use a finger to press the dough into the fluted edges.
  12. If the dough is sticky, refrigerate the dough until firmer.
  13. Set the dough-lined brioche pans at least 1/2-inch apart on a rimmed baking sheet.
  14. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, rotating halfway through, or until golden brown. (An instant-read thermometer should read about 205°F/96°C.
  15. Set the baking sheet on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.
  16. Using a toothpick (for regular pans) or a needle (for mini pans), loosen one of the edges of the gâteaux to loosen it and invert it onto another wire rack. Cool completely.
  17. Repeat process with remaining dough.

Notes:

  • These cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room-temperature for up to 5 days, refrigerated for up to 10 days, or frozen up to 3 months.
  • The regular brioche tins are 8 cm/3 inches in diameter. The mini brioche pans are ~4.5 cm/1 3/4 inches in diameter.

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