Tags: baking, dessert, fruit
Charlotte Akoto’s recipe for Tropical Napoleons is in a section of the book called “Grand Pastries,” which seems to mean plated desserts. I have to say that a lot of them look kinda dated to me, but that doesn’t mean they don’t still taste great. This dessert, with layers of coconut and sesame meringue, fruit and rum whipped cream is really light, but so satisfying. I wouldn’t turn down Eaton mess or a pavlova, so I knew I would like this one, too.
Despite its “grand” status, this recipe isn’t really that involved. Whipped cream and sliced fruit are easy enough to prep. If you don’t have a good selection of tropical fruit (I wish I could buy passion fruit in Brooklyn from any corner fruit guy like I could when we lived in Sydney), just go with straight-up berries. Even the meringue is a simple one to make, and a quick stencil cut from a yogurt lid makes perfect meringue disks. I baked my meringues on a Silpat and they took almost twice as long as the recipe said to get fully crisp. If anything gives you trouble, it will be getting those meringues off your sheet pan after they’re baked– they’re meant to be really thin, which also makes them really brittle. I only broke one before discovering that if I ran an offset spatula carefully around its outer edge before kind of pressing the spatula down into the Silpat and scooting it underneath the meringue, it would come off in one piece. The meringues are sweet, so I cut back a bit on the sugar in the cream.
Tags: baking, cake, citrus, dessert, fruit
It might technically be spring, but it sure doesn’t feel like it yet. I’m still wearing a scarf inside, my down parka outside, and there was even talk of pulling snow boots out again last night. Oh, bother. A bright spot here, while I wait for spring to really show up, is that the citrus is still good. I think we’re at the tail-end of the preciously short blood orange season. Blood oranges are so sweet and vibrantly colored– I still feel surprised every time I cut one open.
I’ve made lots of yogurt cakes here (and even yogurt cupcakes, too). They stay moist for days, feel less guilty than pound cakes and they’re a great match for citrus, so I looked around on-line to see if anyone had a good one using blood oranges. Most cakes that I saw seemed to resemble another one I’d made, Ina’s Lemon Yogurt Cake, swapping out the lemon zest and juice for blood orange. At its core, so did this one but it has a few tweeks that set it apart for me. Subbing some of the AP four with cornmeal gives the cake a more rustic taste and texture. Swapping the plain vegetable oil for olive oil adds to its fruitiness. Cutting out just a bit of the sugar and forgoing the powdered sugar glaze keeps it from being overly sweet. Don’t worry– a jewel toned blood orange juice soaking syrup drenches the top and seeps into the cake, so you still get enough of that sticky sweetness to call this dessert.
P.S.: If you like cocktails, add a little vodka and a splash of simple syrup to blood orange juice, top it off with seltzer and ice, and you’ll have the most brilliantly colored drink you’ve ever seen.
for the cake
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal,
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
zest of two blood oranges
1 cup yogurt (Greek or regular, but preferably not non-fat)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup olive oil
for the soaking syrup
1/3 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice (from the two zested oranges)
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
-Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/4″ loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.
-In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, rub the 3/4 cup sugar and the blood orange zest together with your fingers until fragrant. Whisk in the yogurt, eggs, vanilla and olive oil. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, switching to a spatula, if needed. Mix until just fully combined.
-Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Start checking for doneness at 40 minutes.
-When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. While you’re waiting, make the soaking syrup by combining the 1/3 cup blood orange juice and remaining 2 tbsp sugar in a small pan. Bring it up to the boil and simmer until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear, about a minute. Set aside.
-Carefully place the cake on a baking rack over a sheet pan. Use a skewer to poke holes in the top. While the cake is still warm and the syrup is hot, pour the syrup mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. (You can get all the syrup to absorb into the cake or reserve a little bit of it for drizzling over the cut slices, if you’d like).
-Cool completely before slicing.
Tags: baking, brownies, cake, chocolate, dessert, holiday
For Saint Patrick’s Day, I turned the Mocha Brownie Cake from Marcel Desaulniers into a Baileys Brownie Cake. Oh yeah! It was as easy as just replacing the coffee in the ganache with Baileys…plus a swig more to taste. I’m lucky I’m a fast baker, because I pushed the clock on this one. All those resting and chilling times didn’t really register when I read through the recipe. Thanks to my BFF, the freezer, I managed to get a photo while it was still light(ish) out.
I made a half recipe in six-inch form. It only took about 35 minutes to bake (I watched it closely, cuz no one likes a dry brownie). The cake is a cake-brownie hybrid. It starts out with whipped eggs– sort of like those Best-Ever Brownies we made awhile back– and also has baking powder for lift. I was kind of nervous to cut the cake into three layers, but it rose nicely in the oven and after it was chilled and firm, it was really no problem to slice…it helped that it was a small cake, I’m sure.
The filling and glaze is a dark chocolate ganache flavored with coffee (or Baileys for me, thanks). Delicious! I just realized after reading another blogger’s post that I completely forgot to add the extra sugar in the ganache. Oh well– it doesn’t need it, especially if you like your chocolate on the dark, bitter side (or you use sweet Baileys to make it). Even thought the recipe said to make sure the ganache was still pourable when filling the layers, mine was definitely spreadable– the consistency of thick custard. I didn’t see any problem with using it that way, and in fact it set up nicely. I didn’t need to build the cake up in a springform pan and it was ready to glaze quickly. I did reheat the remaining ganache so I’d have a shiny, pourable glaze for over the top. And then I sprinkled the cake with green luster dust for extra shimmer.
I’m really impressed with this actually. It looks great cut (use a hot knife) and it totally satisfies my ever-present chocolate craving. Also, it’s a heck of a lot easier to put together than Marcel D’s “Death by Chocolate Cake,” which I made once and is waaaay more involved.
Tags: baking, birthday, cake, dessert, giveaway
Sometimes I just want a piece of birthday cake…even if it’s no one’s birthday. Know how that is? I do feel I’m embarrassingly late to the imaginary party with this confetti cake. I don’t even know if I’ve ever had the Pillsbury version. And it seems everyone’s made a homemade one but me (till now). What I thought was some magical secret to the colored bursts of confetti is really just jimmies stirred into cake batter. A cute book called Sprinkles!, which helps turn all things sparkly or rainbow-colored, showed me that. My own sprinkles collection borders on the absurd. Apparently I really needed this book– I’m filing it in the “self-help” section of my bookshelf.
Back to the cake! The base here is a delicate white cake flavored with almond extract, although it would be also great flavored with lemon, so I included that as an option. The sprinkles folded into the batter explode in the in oven (not in a dangerous way, I promise!) into little pops of color scattered throughout each slice. I think any frosting you like with white cake would work well here, so use your favorite. I made an American-style powdered sugar buttercream with a blob of cream cheese added in to temper the sweetness just a bit. The sides of the cake are exposed to show off the fun inside, and don’t forget the extra sprinkles on top!
The kind folks at Quirk Books sent me a copy of Sprinkles!, and now I want to jazz up your baking by sending a copy to one of you. Just leave me a comment (one per person, please) on this post before 4:00 pm EST on Tuesday, March 18 and I’ll randomly choose a winner from the list. Be sure your e-mail address is correct so I can contact you if you’re chosen.
***Giveaway Winner Update: I used random.org to generate a random comment number to find the winner. It selected comment 24, so congratulations to Barb T. I’ll be in touch and sending your book soon!***
Confetti Layer Cake– makes a 9-inch triple layer cake
adapted from Sprinkles! by Jackie Alpers
Steph’s Note: Obviously I didn’t bake my cake in 9-inch rounds. I scaled it back to a third and baked it as a quarter-sheet (adjusting baking time accordingly), which I then cut into three strips and frosted.
1 1/2 cups milk
9 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1/3 cup applesauce or Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract or lemon extract
4 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted, plus extra for flouring pans
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup rainbow jimmies, plus extra for decoration
4 cups (approximately) your favorite buttercream or cream cheese frosting
-Preheat oven to 350°F. Line three 9-inch round cake pans with parchment circles, grease, then dust with flour.
-In a medium bowl, stir milk, egg whites, applesauce or yogurt and extracts. Into another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
-Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low; add flour and milk mixtures alternately, starting and ending with the flour. Fold in the 1/2 cup sprinkles.
-Divide batter among pans. Bake until a tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
-Cool cakes in pans set on wire racks for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the sides of each pan, then invert cakes onto a cutting board. With a serrated knife, carefully cut off the tops and “crusts,” exposing the confetti sprinkles (this is optional).
-Place first layer on a plate. Spread 3/4 cup frosting evenly over top. Repeat with second and third layers, leaving the sides exposed. Decorate the perimeter of the top with the remaining jimmies. Serve, or refrigerate up to 3 days.
Tags: baking, cheesecake, dessert
I wouldn’t want to eat David Ogonowski’s Chocolate Mascarpone Cheesecake in any type of weather other than the type we’ve been having (i.e., “two blizzards a week” weather). It’s true hibernation food…if you told me it was a thousand calories a slice, I wouldn’t be surprised. This is a dense and creamy cheesecake with cream cheese, of course, mascarpone and sour cream. Oh, and there’s chocolate, too, although frankly it gets a little lost in all the dairy. Adding a dark chocolate ganache layer on top of the cooled cake is an option, but might send this cake over the top.
The recipe doesn’t call for a crust. Well, actually, it calls for baking the cheesecake without a crust and then patting cookie crumbs onto the bottom and sides once it’s set. My inner baker’s voice told me that was weird and that I’d probably have some sort of disaster in the process, so I went ahead and made a real crust for mine. I had a baggie of homemade chocolate-hazelnut cookie crumbs in the freezer that need to be used up (and I love crumb crusts!) anyway. Also, I’ve always liked making my cheesecake batter in the food processor rather than in a stand mixer. Faster mixing and fewer lumps.
Tags: baking, dessert, pie
I grew up in Virginia. Just as soon as I moved up to Boston for college, my family moved out to Seattle. I go visit once or twice a year (I was just there a couple of weeks ago, in fact), so have a fondness for Seattle. Being a born Southerner, I also have a fondness coconut and for cream pies, and, interestingly enough, Seattle has a legendary combo of the two– Dahlia Bakery’s (and Lounge’s) Triple Coconut Cream Pie. It is dangerously good, and I’ve been holding off making it at home until I had a real excuse. The Seahawks’ Sunday performance was good enough for me.
This pie has a coconut crust, a coconut filling and toasted coconut on top…hence the whole “triple” thing. You’ll notice the recipe instructions are…ummm….lengthy. Nothing’s hard, though, especially if you break it up a bit. With a multi-step pie like this, I like to get ready the day before by processing my crust, letting it chill a bit and then getting it in the pan. That way it can really set in the fridge overnight, which not only helps it hold a better crimp while baking, but it means a lot less work the following day. Another crusty trick I have up my sleeve is that after the crust is fully baked, but still piping hot, I paint a touch of egg white on the bottom. It gives it a little barrier of protection from the soft filling and helps keep it crisp. Usually the residual heat coming off the pie shell will set the egg white straight away, but you can always pop it back in the oven for about a minute to make sure. You can also make the coconut pastry cream a day ahead if you’d like…just keep it airtight in the fridge overnight with some plastic wrap pressed on the surface.
This coco pie is soft but crisp, rich but light. It’s no wonder, really, that Dahlia has sold something like 350,000 of these things.
Dahlia Triple Coconut Cream Pie— makes a 9-inch pie
adapted from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook: Sweetness in Seattle by Tom Douglas and Shelley Lance
for the coconut pastry dough–makes a 9-inch piecrust
Steph’s Notes: The crust must be baked and cooled before you can fill your pie. If you’d like, you can “seal” the bottom your just-out-of-the-oven hot crust with a little thinly brushed on egg white…this will help keep it crisp when it’s filled. I also like to go ahead and toast the coconut chips for garnish while I have the oven on during this step. 400° is a little high for coconut, so I do this while the oven is coming up to temp or after I’ve turned it off and it’s coming back down (watching closely so it doesn’t burn).
1 cup plus 2 tbsp flour (165 g), plus extra for rolling dough
1/2 cup (50 g) shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 cup (113 g or 1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup (75 g) ice-cold water, or more as needed
-In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine flour, coconut, sugar and salt and pulse two or three times to combine. Add the diced butter and pulse to form coarse crumbs. Gradually add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing each time. Use only as much water as needed for the dough to hold together when pressed gently between your fingers (don’t work dough with your hands, just test to see if it is holding). The dough will not form a ball or even clump together in the processor, it will be quite loose.
-Place a large sheet of plastic wrap on the counter and dump the coconut dough onto it. Pull plastic wrap around dough, forcing it into a rough flattened round with the pressure of the plastic wrap. Refrigerate 30 to 60 minutes before rolling.
-When ready to roll dough, unwrap round of coconut dough and place it on a lightly floured board. Flour rolling pin and your hands. Roll out dough in a circle about 1/8-inch thick. Occasionally lift dough with a bench knife or scraper to check that it is not sticking, and add more flour if it seems like it’s about to stick. Trim to a 12- to 13-inch round. Transfer rolled dough to a 9-inch pie pan. Ease dough loosely and gently into pan. You don’t want to stretch dough at his point, because it will shrink when it is baked.
-Trim any excess dough to 1- to 11/2-inch overhang. Turn dough under along rim of pie pan and use your fingers and thumb to flute the edge. Dock the bottom of the shell with a fork. Refrigerate unbaked pie shell for at least 1 hour before baking (this prevents the dough from shrinking in the oven).
-When ready to bake piecrust, preheat oven to 400°F. Place a piece of parchment in pie shell, with sides overhanging the pan, and fill with dried beans or wieghts (this prevents the bottom of the shell from puffing up during baking). Bake piecrust for 20 to 25 minutes, or until pastry rim is golden. Remove pie pan from oven. Remove paper and beans and return piecrust to oven. Bake for an additional 10 to 12 minutes, or until bottom of crust has golden brown patches. Remove from oven and allow pie shell to cool completely.
for the coconut pastry cream:
1 cup (230 g) milk
1 cup (230 g) canned unsweetened coconut milk, stirred
2 cups (170 g) shredded sweetened coconut
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
2 large eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. (125 g) sugar
3 tbsp. (26 g) AP flour
4 tbsp. (57 g or 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
– In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine milk, coconut milk and shredded coconut. Using a paring knife, scrape seeds from vanilla bean and add both scrapings and pod to milk mixture. Stir occasionally until mixture almost comes to a boil.
-In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar and flour until well combined. Temper eggs by pouring a small amount (about 1/3 cup) of scalded milk into egg mixture while whisking. Then add warmed egg mixture to saucepan of milk and coconut. Whisk over medium-high heat until pastry cream thickens and begins to bubble. Keep whisking until mixture is very thick, 4 to 5 minutes more. Remove saucepan from heat. Add butter and whisk until it melts. Remove and discard vanilla pod.
-Transfer pastry cream to a bowl and place it over another bowl of ice water. Stir occasionally until pastry cream is cool. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on surface of pastry cream (to prevent a skin from forming) and refrigerate until completely cold. The pastry cream will continue to thicken as it cools.
for the whipped cream topping:
Steph’s Notes: This is a ton of whipped cream! If you’d like to be a little less extravagant here, cut it in half and you’ll still have plenty of topping.
2 1/2 cups (600 g) heavy cream, chilled
1/3 cup (63 g) sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
-In an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip heavy cream with sugar and vanilla extract to peaks that are firm enough to hold their shape.
for the garnish:
2 oz (57 g) unsweetened chip or large-shred coconut (about 1 1/2 cups), or shredded sweetened coconut (about 2/3 cup)
a chunk of white chocolate (4-6 oz ,to make 2 oz of curls)
-Preheat oven to 350°. Spread unsweetened coconut chips (or large-shred coconut, or sweetened shredded coconut) on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 7 to 8 minutes, watching carefully (coconut burns easily) and stirring once or twice until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
to finish the pie:
-When pastry cream is cold, fill pastry shell, smoothing the surface with a rubber spatula.
-Transfer whipped cream to a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe it all over the surface of the pie (or just mound it on top and swirl with a spoon).
-Sprinkle toasted coconut over top of pie. Use a vegetable peeler to scrape about 2 ounces of white chocolate curls on top of the pie (or you can cut pie into wedges, garnish each wedge individually on the plate) and serve.
-Store the pie in the refrigerator.
Tags: baking, cake, dessert
I start this post with a warning: after I made Mary Bergin’s Vanilla Chiffon Roll, I took a look in the sink and internally freaked out. I think I used every bowl, whisk and spatula I own to make the cake and mousse filling, not to mention the food processor and all its bits and pieces. Well, I was really glad that this cake was totally worth that mountain of dirty dishes I had to tackle! And also that assembly was much easier than washing up. The soft vanilla chiffon cake was really easy to roll around its delicious chocolate-walnut mousse filling. I didn’t get any tears or cracks…just a little sticking, which was easily disguised with a dusting of cocoa and powdered sugar.
I made a half recipe of the cake in a quarter sheet pan. I think it took a few minutes longer to fully bake than the time indicated for the full-sized cake, so go with your good judgment if it looks underdone. I noticed when I watched the video that there was a lot of leftover mousse in Mary’s bowl after she filled her cake, so I decided that I’d just make a third of the mousse recipe (I keep typing “mouse” BTW). The full cake supposedly yields six servings…if you’re feeding giants…I easily cut six slices from my smaller cake. Once this roulade has had time to chill out in the fridge, it’s really divine, not to mention classy. I loved the chocolate-walnut mousse (and was psyched to use my special black walnuts and fancy walnut oil for it). If I had had any extra left, I most certainly would have polished it off with a spoon.
Tags: baking, dessert, holiday, pie
I’m not making Thanksgiving dinner myself this year. You never know what you’re gonna get when you’re not in charge, so I had to make a pre-Thanksgiving pie for the two of us here at home.
I mixed things up from the typical pumpkin pie by making a sweet potato one. To tell you the truth, I think that pumpkins and sweet potatoes can make pretty interchangeable pie fillings in terms of taste, because they’re often identically spiced. This pie, though, mixes it up a bit in the spice department. It’s a little more ginger-heavy than most– a little more zippy– and leaves out the traditional cloves entirely. When I make a pumpkin pie I normally reach for a can-opener, but this filling uses a fresh-roasted sweet potato. If you have a big potato left over from last night’s dinner, you can use that, no problem. Using a fresh sweet potato for a custard pie gives a slightly different texture than canned pumpkin does. The sweet potato filling is not quite as velvety smooth as pumpkin filling– it’s a little more dense and substantial.
Sweet Potato Ginger Pie– makes a 9-inch pie
adapted from the wonderfully reliable Melissa Clark
Steph’s Note: To speed things along, you can cook the sweet potato in advance or use a leftover one for this pie. Just bring it to room temperature before processing the filling.
single-crust recipe of your favorite flaky pastry dough, well-chilled
1 c cooked sweet potato
3/4 c heavy cream
1/2 c milk
2/3 c light brown sugar
2 tbsp brandy, bourbon or rum
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp salt
-To make the filling, cut a slit into one large sweet potato and wrap tightly in foil. Bake at 400°F until sweet potato is very soft, about an hour. Let cool.
-Meanwhile, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the piecrust to a 12-inch circle. Transfer the crust to a 9-inch pie plate. Fold over any excess dough, then crimp as decoratively as you can manage.
-Prick the crust all over with a fork and freeze it for at least 15 minutes. Cover the pie with aluminum foil or parchment and fill with pie weights. Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes (you can do this while the sweet potato is also in the oven). Remove the foil or parchment and weights and bake until golden, about 5 to 10 minutes more. Cool on a rack until needed.
-Scoop 1 cup of cooked, cooled sweet potato into food processor, discarding skin. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Add all remaining filling ingredients to food processor and puree until smooth. You can skip this, but if you want to smooth the filling out a bit more, strain it by pressing through a fine sieve.
-Spoon filling into pie crust and spread until flat and even. Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the custard is mostly firm and set but jiggles slightly when moved, 45 to 55 minutes. Let cool to room temperature and serve with whipped cream.