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Tiramisu Birthday Cake

Tiramisu Cake

There are things in life that have a simple majesty.

A cake, for example is how we mark a special occasion. This January, I’m celebrating the new year; I’m also celebrating my birthday, but most importantly, I’m celebrating 15 years of cooking with my newly designed web site and a new cookbook on the way! After a decade of Brazilian oriented cooking, a new era of recipes seethes with the needs of our current times.

Tirami- who? Tiramisu Birthday Cake! if you’d like to celebrate anything in your life, I highly recommend this recipe! Inspired by Dorie Greenspan’s Baking book (love her!), this cake is absolutely delicious; a detour from the classic Tiramisu, but with all the authentic flavors of the beloved Italian dessert. Go ahead cake! This is your moment to be beautiful! Make a wish Leticia! The possibility of my wish coming true is actually very exciting!

Tiramisu Cake

Tiramisu Birthday Cake

Adapted by Dorie Greenspan’s Baking, From My Home to Yours

Makes 12 servings

For the Cake:
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch salt
1 ¼ sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup buttermilk

For the Expresso Extract:
2 tablespoons instant expresso powder
2 tablespoons boiling water
For the expresso syrup:
½ cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoons amaretto, Kahlua, or brandy

For the Filling and Frosting:

one 8-oz mascarpone cheese
½ cup confectioner’s sugar sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon amaretto, kahlua, or brandy
1 cup cold heavy cream
2 ½ oz semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter two 9 X 2-inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess and line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper.

1- Make the Cake: Sift together the cake flour, baking powder and baking soda and salt.
2- Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one by one, and then the yolk, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Don’t be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternatively with the buttermilk, adding the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the milk in 2 additions (begin and end with the dry ingredients). Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed and mix only until the ingredients disappear into the batter. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops with an off-set spatula.

3- Bake for 28 to 30 minutes, rotating the pans at midway point. When fully baked, the cakes will be golden and springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the centers will come out clean. Transfer the cakes to a rack and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.
4- Make the Extract: stir the expresso powder and boiling water together in a small cup until blended. Set aside.
5- Make the Syrup: Stir the water and sugar together in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil. Pour the syrup into a small heatproof bowl and stir in 1 tablespoons of the expresso extract and the liqueur or brandy. Set aside.
6- To make the Filling and Frosting: Put the mascarpone, sugar vanilla and liqueur in a large bowl and whisk just until blended and smooth. Working with a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream until firm peaks. Switch to a rubber spatula and stir about one quarter of the whipped cream into the mascarpone. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream with a light touch.
7- Assemble the Cake: of the tops of the cake layers have crowned, use a long, serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to even them. Place one layer right side up on a cardboard round or a cake plate protected with strips of parchment paper. Using a pastry brush, soak the layer with about one third of the expresso syrup. Smooth some of the mascarpone cream over the layer- use about 1 ¼ cups, and gently press and chopped chocolate into the filling. Put the second cake layer on the counter and soak the top of it with half the remaining expresso syrup, then turn the layer over and position it, soaked side down, over the filling. Soak the top of the cake with the remaining syrup.
8- For the frosting, whisk 1 tablespoons of the remaining expresso extract into the remaining mascarpone filling. Taste the frosting as you go to decide how much extract you want to add. If the frosting looks a bit too soft to spread over the cake, refrigerate it for 15 minutes or so. Refrigerate the cake too.
9- With a long metal icing spatula, smooth the frosting around the sides of the cake and over the top. I decorated my cake with chocolate shavings; but you can choose expresso beans, cocoa nibs, chocolate sprinkles, or just about any kind of pastry decoration you wish. Refrigerate the cake for at least 3 hours, or up to 2 days, before serving.
10- Remove the cake from the fridge 30 minutes to take out the chill; serve and enjoy!

 

Like this Tiramisu Birthday Cake? Follow my food adventures on Instagram!

If you’d like to get in touch, contact me.

 

 

Chocolate Peanut Cake

Chocolate Peanut Cake

When it comes to matters of food and cooking for the holidays, I have high standards, which makes this recipe a perfect feature for the festivities.

Not all recipes are easy. Just so you know. Composed of 4 different steps, this cake comes together in a sheet pan and can be frozen up to 3 months ahead of time. Look at the photo again: stay here!

This is truly fancy restaurant style dessert, adapted from Johnny Iuzzini ‘s cookbook Dessert Fourplay. He is a rock star pastry chef who worked for many years at Jean George’s restaurant in NYC. I love his work.

This recipe is a true gem. Godsent. It makes any home cook appear to be better than he or she really is, elevating average baking skills into something that approaches alchemy. Tell no one how many steps this takes though. Make it sound like a breeze, especially since you’ll forget about all the work after freezing the cake. I promise.

If you feel intimidated by it, don’t. I’m here with you, and I’ll be with you every step of the recipe, holding your hand in the kitchen while you make this recipe, and you’ll hear my voice in the procedure.

I’ve made this recipe a few times, so by now, I made my own adaptations and I’ll share a few tricks (like using parchment paper for the sponge; add the peanut butter at the ganache after it is done).

About the feuilletine: this is really the secret of this dessert. If you buy it in a pastry supply store, you are bound to buy a 5lb bag. So, I found these cookies that are made of feuilletine; just crunch them up with your hands (be careful not to over crush them).

ingredients

Hunting for praline paste is also a little time consuming, so if you want to make life easier, just use almond butter and call that your praline paste.

Chocolate Peanut Cake
Serves 8

Chocolate Peanut Praline

1 cup (250g) smooth peanut butter

1 cup (250g) hazelnut praline paste

4 oz (105g) white chocolate

8 oz (230g) feuilletine

Hazelnut Peanut Sponge

½ cup (50g) hazelnut flour

½ cup (50g) peanut flour

8 teaspoons all-purpose flour

1 cup + 4 tablespoons (250g) sugar

8 egg whites

Pinch of cream of tartare

8 tablespoons chopped peanuts and hazelnuts

Chocolate Peanut Ganache

10 oz (324g) milk chocolate, chopped

1 ½ cups heavy cream

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup (250g) smooth peanut butter

Caramel Chocolate Mousse

2 cups + 3 tablespoons heavy cream

6 oz (170g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped

4 tablespoon (50g) sugar

pinch salt

4 egg yolks

Cocoa powder to dust over the cake

  • Prepare the Chocolate Peanut Praline: Line a 12 X 18-inch baking sheet with parchment paper. Put the peanut butter and praline paste in the food processor and pulse to combine, scraping the bowl.
  • Melt the chocolate over low heat in double boiler (without touching the water). At this point you can’t go anywhere or your chocolate will overheat. Use a rubber spatula and as soon as your chocolate is just melted, take it off the heat. Add to the food processor. Pulse to combine. Scrape into a bowl. Fold in the feuilletine and mix thoroughly, being careful not to break the pieces too much.
  • Feuiettine

    Feuiettine all crunched up

  • Pour the mixture into the prepared baking sheet and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly into the pan. It’s not super easy as the feuilletine will present some force against spreading, but just have patience and it will spread. Cover with another piece of parchment paper and freezer until needed.
  • Prepare the Hazelnut Peanut Sponge: Center a rack in the middle of the oven and pre-heat it to 350˚F. Lightly spray a baking sheet with grease, line with parchment paper, then spray grease again. (Warning: a silpat will not work well).
  • In a bowl, whisk the hazelnut flour, peanut flour, and all-purpose flour until is well mixed and light in texture.
  • Put the egg whites and a tine pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Start beating the egg whites on low speed, slowly and gradually increasing the speed to medium and slowly adding one third of the sugar. Continue beating on medium until the whites develop more body. Add another one third of sugar and continue beating. Gradually increase the high speed as you add the remaining sugar and beat the whites at full speed until they are completely structured and looing shiny and glossy and at soft peaks. Remove from the mixer.
  • Carefully sprinkle the dry ingredients over the whites, and fold them with a rubber spatula. Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and smooth it out with an off-set spatula. Scatter the nuts on top.
  • Bake in the oven until it just starts to get golden, about 8 minutes. Be very careful here. You are looking for a sponge that is completely malleable after baking. If you over bake, even by a few minutes, the sponge might get too hard and become more like a meringue than a sponge—you don’t want that.
  • Remove the pan from the oven, let it cool for 3 minutes, then careful peel off the parchment paper off of the sponge. Let cool on a rack, then transfer to a clean baking sheet—this is the first layer of your cake.
  • Now we are going to start assembling the cake: on the bottom, the sponge. Then, take the praline from the freezer, and invert on top of the sponge, pressing down firmly to make sure you don’t have any air bubbles between the layers. Peel off the parchment paper from the praline layer, and chill in the fridge while you prepare the Ganache and Mousse.
  • Prepare the Chocolate Peanut Ganache: Put the chocolate in a medium bowl (glass or stainless steel). Place the cream in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Pour over the chocolate (be sure it is finely chopped) and let it sit for one minute, to allow the heat of the cream to melt the chocolate. Using a rubber spatula, start mixing slowly, from the center to the edges, until the ganache comes together beautifully. When it’s nice and smooth, add the peanut butter, and continue mixing, until it’s smooth again. Let it cool completely to room temperature. But not that long that the ganache is set. 20 minutes should do, and only then, spread over the praline layer, using an off-set spatula to make sure it’s nice and smooth. Every time you add another layer to the cake, place it back in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  • Prepare the Chocolate Mousse: Place 4 tablespoons of the heavy cream in a small bowl to be used in the caramel. Place the remaining heavy cream in the mixer of an electric mixer and whip to soft peaks. Transfer whipped cream to a bowl and reserve in the fridge for just a few minutes. Warning: remove from the fridge a few minutes before mixing in the mousse as you don’t want the whipped cream to be icy cold when mixing with the chocolate.
  • Melt the chocolate over the top of a double boiler on low heat, without touching the water, until the chocolate is just melted, mixing with a rubber spatula. Remove from the heat and let it sit at room temperature.
  • Put the sugar in a small pan and moisten with a few drops of water to make it moist. You’re looking for the consistency of wet sand, so about 1 tablespoon of water should be fine. Cook the sugar over medium heat, swirling the pan as it begins to color, until it riches a golden amber color. Pour in the cream from the bowl and mix well. Let it cool completely.
  • Meanwhile, put the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Start beating on low speed and gradually increasing speed. When the yolks have developed some structure (if the yolks are too little on your bowl, feel free to whisk by hand), carefully pour the caramel (should not be too hot) into the yolks, and beat now at high speed until it’s higher in volume, thicker, fuller and completely cool.
  • Fold the melted chocolate into the yolks, mixing well.
  • Then fold in the whipped cream, using a rubber spatula, and making sure the mixture is homogeneous. This mousse is easy to break; work fast as you are dealing with temperature sensitive components here.
  • Spread the mousse evenly over the ganache layer on the baking sheet. Freeze overnight.
  • Remove the cake from the freezer and dust it lightly with cocoa powder. Use a knife dipped in hot water to cut the cake, cleaning the knife between each cut. You want to cut the cake while it’s still frozen, but you don’t want to serve it frozen. Keep the cake in the fridge until ready to serve. Cake can be served by itself, or, if you want to dress it up a little, serve with some chocolate sauce, or gold leaves, or some chocolate décor, or a caramel sorbet, or a chocolate sorbet… or anything that you might desire. You don’t need too much with this cake. It’s a lot of work, but worth it! Enjoy!
Pumpkin Mousse Parfait Latin Style

Pumpkin Mousse Parfait Latin Style

Every family has its own sequence of non-negotiable desserts during the Holidays and for mine, it’s pumpkin recipes. What is negotiable however, are the recipes itself. Now let’s be honest, to break the rules, you have the master them. After many pumpkin pies, it’s time to give them wings. I’m putting a drone on this recipe so that it lands in your kitchen and make your family super happy!

Get ready for some baking! There are several components to this parfait. Good news: everything can be prepared ahead of time. As always, please get in touch if you have any questions before making this recipe and I’d love for you to share your photos and comments when you make it. Happy October everyone!

 

Components:

Dulce de Leche Sauce

Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Pumpkin Mousse

Whipped Cream

Caramelized Pecans or any other crunchy nuts

 

Serves about 10

For the Dulce de Leche Sauce:

1 cup whole milk

½ cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup dulce de leche, store bought, at room temperature 

 

For the Pumpkin Mousse:

¼ cup cold water

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

3 eggs, separated

3/4 cup sugar, divided

1 ¼ cups canned pumpkin puree

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup whole milk

½ cup heavy cream

 

For the Chocolate Brownie Cookies:

¼ cup (35g) all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon of salt

2 large eggs, at room temperature

2/3 cup (125g) sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter

5 oz (140g) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into medium pieces

2 oz (60g) bitter chocolate, chopped into medium pieces

¾ cup (120g) mini chocolate chips

  • Prepare the Dulce de Leche Sauce:In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the milk, heavy cream, and butter and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 1 minute and remove the pan from the heat.
  • Add the dulce de leche and whisk gently but constantly in ever-widening circles.
  • When smooth, return the saucepan to the stove, and cook over high heat, whisking constantly, until you reach a full boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, still whisking, until the sauce becomes thick and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • If you want to use the sauce in its pourable state, let it cool for about 10 minutes. If you want to save it for later, keep it in a plastic container covered with a tight-fitting lid for at least 2 weeks in the refrigerator (re-heat in a saucepan, over low heat, whisking constantly, or in the microwave, 10 seconds at a time, whisking after each turn, until it’s hot and pourable).
  • For the Pumpkin Mousse: Fill a medium pot with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer.
  • In a small pot, add ¼ cup of cold water, sprinkle gelatin over the top, and let soften for a minute or two. Place on stove and stir over low heat to liquify, being careful not to boil. When gelatin is dissolved, remove from heat and let cool.
  • In a medium stainless-steel mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, and ½ cup sugar.
  • Add the pumpkin, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and milk and whisk to blend. Set the bowl over the pot of simmering water on the stove and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens and becomes custard-like, about 5 minutes. You are looking for a mixture with a similar consistency of vanilla sauce, not too thick, not too thin.
  • Add the gelatin into the now pumpkin custard. Pour and scrape the mixture into a large mixing bowl and let the pumpkin mixture cool for about 10-15 minutes.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks and slowly add the remaining sugar, beating until the whites are firm and the sugar has been fully incorporated. Beat half of the whites into the pumpkin mousse. Add the remaining whites, folding gently.
  • Beat the cream until it is stiff and fold it into the mousse. Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic film. Chill until set, at least 2 hours, or up to a day.
  • Prepare the Chocolate Brownie Cookies:Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs with sugar at full speed until white-ish and volume doubles, about 10 minutes. Add the vanilla and continue to beat.
  • While the eggs are beating, combine butter and the two bitter chocolates chocolates in a bowl of glass or stainless steel on top of a pan filled with warm water. (Attention: the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water.) Melt, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until the chocolate and butter are well mixed. Remove from the water bath and let cool for 5 minutes.
  • Carefully pour the chocolate mixture into the eggs, incorporating with a rubber spatula. Add the flour and continue incorporating and mixing until homogeneous.
  • Add the chocolate chips and mix again. This batter will harden slightly. You can make this up to 5 days in advance and leave it in the refrigerator, or in the freezer for 3 months.
  • Using a scoop or small ice cream scoop, mash the dough and flatten slightly. Place the cookies on the tray with at least 2-inches space between each cookie. Bake until the top cracks, but the inside should still be very moist. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the tray for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack and let it cool completely before eating.
  • Assemble the Pumpkin Mousse Parfait:Scoop some pumpkin mousse and divide onto individual glasses, top with some dulce de leche sauce, break some chocolate brownie cookies, sprinkle some caramelized pecans, some whipped cream, and dust some ground cinnamon on top. Serve immediately.
Pumpkin Mousse in October

Pumpkin Mousse in October

What do I love most about October? The impeccably crisp smell of fall in the air, the turning leaves, apple cider at its best and pumpkins are all around us. With Halloween and Thanksgiving around the corner, it’s time to get in the kitchen. Let’s set the stage for the extraordinary to happen…

 How tired are you of pumpkin pie? If you’re looking for pumpkin recipes but need fresh ideas, I got you covered on this post (and the next one coming up, stay tuned). Yes, this recipe is an oldie, adapted from the NYTimes   and it’s worth revisiting it.

 My ardent health orientation was put aside when preparing this recipe, as I confess I did take a a few bites. But living a healthy lifestyle is not about total deprivation. It’s about balance. Plus, in cooking, no less than in writing, I feel that I am well positioned to help readers negotiate the passage from fat to fit. Bake, have fun, listen to music while doing it, take a few bites—just a few—and hit the gym the day after.

This pumpkin mousse is a breeze to make. Own it’s own, it is absolutely fantastic. It can be the starting point of many other recipes. Can’t wait for you to try it. As always, please share comments and photos as you make the recipes in your kitchen.

 

Pumpkin Mousse Adapted from the New York Times

Serves 6

 

Ingredients: 

¼ cup cold water

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

3 eggs separated

3/4 cup sugar, divided

1 ¼ cups canned pumpkin puree

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup whole milk

½ cup heavy cream

Caramelized Pecans for garnish

 

Procedure: 

  • Fill a medium pot with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer.
  • In a small pot, add ¼ cup of cold water, sprinkle gelatin over the top, and let soften for a minute or two. Place on stove and stir over low heat to liquify, being careful not to boil. When gelatin is dissolved, remove from heat and let cool.
  • In a medium stainless-steel mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, and ½ cup sugar.
  • Add the pumpkin, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and milk and whisk to blend. Set the bowl over the pot of simmering water on the stove and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens and becomes custard-like, about 5 minutes. You are looking for a mixture with a similar consistency of vanilla sauce, not too thick, not too thin.
  • Add the gelatin into the now pumpkin custard. Pour and scrape the mixture into a large mixing bowl and let the pumpkin mixture cool for about 10-15 minutes.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks and slowly add the remaining sugar, beating until the whites are firm and the sugar has been fully incorporated. Beat half of the whites into the pumpkin mousse. Add the remaining whites, folding gently.
  • Beat the cream until it is stiff and fold it into the mousse. Divide prepared mousse among glasses or into a trifle bowl. Chill until set, at least 2 hours, or up to a day.

Gislaine Murgia’s Best Honey Cake

Gislaine Murgia

Gislaine Murgia

 

Gislaine Murgia came to the U.S. 11 years ago. Her kitchen in Queens, New York is strongly connected to her homeland—and mine— from the cakes and snacks like empadinhas (empanadas) and coxinhas (chicken fritters), to brigadeiros and other confections from Brazil. But the sweet she craves the most is pão de mel, or honey cake. And so she decided to give life to the recipe, here in New York City.

Contrary to what the name indicates, there is nothing bready about pão de mel(pão means bread in Portuguese). Gislaine’s honey cake is based on her mother’s recipe, baked in a sheet pan, soaked in syrup, cut into small squares, and dipped in chocolate.

Gislaine was born and raised in São Paulo and immigrated to the U.S. following the footsteps of her mother, who had done the same 20 years ago. Determined to restart her life after becoming pregnant with a baby daughter, Gislaine left a drug addict and alcoholic husband behind, losing 75 pounds in the process.

In Brazil, Gislaine worked as a sales associate in different home décor stores, but when her family bought a pizzeria, she joined the party and acquired a liking for cooking.

Since Gislaine arrived in New York, she has been taking a step-by-step approach to life, not afraid of knocking on people’s door offering her delicious confections. “Everyone who tries my honey cake (pão de mel), wants to buy more”, she says happily.

Mercifully, this style of classic Brazilian pastries has proven remarkably resistant over the decades, and because tolerance is such a strong Brazilian trait—for good and bad—it also got carried over food. Brazilians became so immune to dried versions of pão de mel, that a good one has become an emblem of a particular culinary skill. If one can make a marvelous pão de mel, then one can truly cook.

Gislaine’s pão de mel, moist and perfumed with cinnamon and cloves, reveals the prefect balance between sugar and spicy, chocolate and honey. It caught me by surprise since I wasn’t expecting to find a version as good as this, in New York City, of all places.

Honey Cake

This is just one of the reasons why I love to meet Brazilians who live here. We are immigrants, and we are here not by birth, but by choice. Behind every recipe, there are beautiful story, and the more recipes I discover, the more I realize how strong Brazilian people really are.

Back in Brazil, pão de melis frozen in the past; at best it is home-made classic, at worst, and most often, it is dried cake, overly coated with hydrogenated chocolate. Gislaine’s pão de melrepresents the past at its best. Even thousands of miles away from home, it brought me back to Brazil, and reminded me of my own past and childhood, sweet and unforgettable.

To know more about Gislaine’s work, visit her facebook page

To order Gislaine’s honey cake and other treats, please get in touch with her: [email protected]

Carrot Cake

Best Carrot Cake

There are occasions in life that have a simple majesty. A birthday. Anniversary. Graduation. Birth. This recipe for Best Carrot Cake is witness to boundless passion for cooking and it doesn’t just fit the occasion. It creates the occasion. You have to click on this, because this recipe will fit so well in your kitchen!

Carrot Cake

 

 

Best Carrot Cake

Makes 1 cake, serving 12- 14 people

 

For the Cake:

1 ½ cups chopped pecans, lightly toasted

1 lb grated carrots (grated by hand on the largest whole of a grader)

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

1 ½ cups buttermilk

2 ½ (368g) all-purpose flour

2 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

2 tsp baking powder

1 ½ tsp kosher salt

¾ tsp baking soda

4 large eggs, room temp

1 cup (205g) sugar

¾ cup (118g) dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

¾ cup vegetable oil

For the Frosting:

12 oz cream cheese, room temp

¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter room temp

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup powder sugar

 

Topping (optional): Corn Flakes

  • Prepare the Cake:pre-heat the oven to 350˚F. Spray two cake pans (9”- diameter) with grease, line with parchment paper and spray again.
  • In a bowl, combine the carrots, ginger and buttermilk.
  • In another bowl whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, salt, baking soda.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs with the two sugars on high speed until pale and thick, about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and continue beating.
  • Change the attachment to a paddle attachment, reduce the speed to low, and start adding the oil.
  • Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with carrot mixture in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until blended.
  • Remove the bowl from the mixer, add the pecans and fold well. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans.
  • Bake the cakes until a toothpick comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes, rotating half way through baking time.
  • Transfer the pans to a wire rack and cool for about 10 minutes. Run a knife around the sides of the cakes and invert onto a wire rack. Be sure to peel off the parchment paper and cool completely. Cakes can be done up to 5 days ahead of time and kept wrapped in plastic film in the refrigerator.
  • Prepare the Frosting:in the bowl of an electric beater fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter.
  • Beat in the vanilla and mix well.
  • Reduce the speed to low and add the powder sugar. Carefully increase the speed to high and beat until the frosting looks light, fluffy and creamy, about 4 minutes.
  • Assemble the Cake:place one cake, domed side down on a platter. Using an off=set spatula, spread ¾ cup of the frosting on top. Place the remaining cake (domed side down) on top. Use the remaining of the frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake, making decorative swirls.
Strawberry Cream Cheese Tart

A Pie from the Sky: Strawberry Cream Cheese Tart

In praise of summer, this Strawberry Cream Cheese Tart is the dessert of now!

it’s a pie in the sky, adapted from Nick Malgieri’s cookbook Bake! (Kyle Books 2010)

Strawberry Cream Cheese Tart

 

Strawberry Cream Cheese Tart

Makes a 10-inch or 8 to 10 servings

The dough is enough for 2 tarts

Cookie Dough Tart Crust

¼ cup (52g) slivered almonds

¾ cup (108g) confection sugar

2 ½ cups (405g) all-purpose flour

pinch salt

2 sticks (227g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Almond Crumb Topping

1 ¼ cup (190g) all-purpose flour

1/3 cup (65g) organic sugar

¼ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch salt

¼ cup (35g) slivered almonds

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

 

Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling

1 lb (454g) cream cheese, softened

1 cup confection sugar (more for garnish)

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 lb strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and halved (or quartered if large)

 

  • Prepare the Dough:Combine the almonds and confection sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse repeatedly until finely ground, about 1 minute. No visible pieces of almond should remain. Use a spatula to scrape the bowl.
  • Add the flour and salt and pulse a couple of times to mix. Add the butter and pulse well. Add the yolks and vanilla and pulse until the dough form a a ball.
  • Invert the dough onto a floured surface. Shape the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, or at least 1 minute. You can prepare the dough u to 5 days ahead.
  • Bring the dough to room temperature at least 20 minutes before handling. Flour the surface and dough and use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a round disk, adding pinches of flour under and on top of the dough as needed.
  • Warp the dough on the rolling pin, lift it onto the tart pan, and unwrap. Fit the dough into the pan, making sure it’s flat against the bottom and sides of the pan. Trim away the excess.
  • Plate the tart pan in the refrigerator and chill for at least 20 minutes before blind baking.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 350˚F. Line the crust, bottom and sides with a parchment paper and fill with dry beans. Bake until the crust is dry and looking set, about 10 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and return the tart to bake until the crust is evenly lightly golden, 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Cool the crust on a rack.
  • Prepare the Almond Crumb:In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the almonds and butter. Let the mixture stand for a few minutes then use your fingers to break the mixture into ¼ – to – 1/2-inch crumbs. Spread the crumbs onto a sheet pan and bake in the oven until deep golden brown.
  • Prepare the Cream Cheese Filling:Place the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the confection sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla and continue beating until lightened, about 1 minute.
  • Assemble the Tart:Spread half of the cream cheese filling on the bottom of the tart crust and arrange the berries on it, cut side down. Spread the remaining filling over the berries. Scatter the crumb topping over the filling. Right before serving, dust the top with confection sugar.
  • Unmold the tart and slide it off the pan base to a platter and serve.

A Recipe Passed Me By

Have you ever seen a recipe in a magazine, or newspaper, or cookbook, and marked it with a sticky note with the intentions of making it — tomorrow ? Then life passed you by, and you just didn’t have the time. Sounds familiar? Welcome to my life.

The recipe featured in this post has been in back of my mind for a long time, and it got me thinking …

The other day, I was talking to a friend of mine who was lamenting how he really let his real love pass him by. He met a lady. They seemed attracted to each other. They started a very interesting conversation. He asked for her number. But he was so afraid of changes, or something new, that when he finally realized how much they clicked, and tried calling her—a few months later, she never answered his e-mail.

Years went by, and he still didn’t forget that lady. Had he called her the day after they met, would his life had changed completely? We’ll never know.

What is the relation between the story of this man and this recipe? Nothing. Nothing at all. But I am just so glad that recipes aren’t like people. If you want to get back to the same recipe, it’ll be there, documented, unchanged. And I may recover the feeling I had at the moment I marked the recipe, full of excitement to cook and bake.

Here is a recipe (adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine) that I have been thinking about for a long time, and life got too busy. Glad it still there.

 

Triple Caramel Cake 

Serves 8 to 10 people

 

Ingredients:

3 cups heavy cream

2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided

6 oz. (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

4 large eggs, at room temperature

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch salt

Equipment: one 12-cup bundt or tube pan greased with baking spray.

1- Prepare the Caramel: Pour 2 cups of the cream into a medium saucepan and slowly bring it to a boil. Lower the heat and keep at a bare simmer.

2- Put 1 cup of the sugar in a heavy-based medium saucepan over medium heat. Leave undisturbed until the sugar begins to melt and darken. Gently shake the pan to distribute the sugar and to keep the melted sugar from burning. When all has melted and the caramel is a very dark amber, remove from the heat. Carefully add the hot cream, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Don’t worry if the caramel hardens; it will melt as the sauce boils. Return the pan to the heat and keep the sauce at a gentle boil for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Set aside for at least 30 minutes, stirring often, until the sauce is cool. Measure 1 cup of the caramel to add to the cake batter and refrigerate the rest.

3- Prepare the Cake: Heat the oven to 325°F. With an electric mixer, cream the butter and the remaining 1-1/2 cups sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one by one, waiting until each is incorporated before adding the next. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With a rubber spatula, gently but thoroughly fold the dry ingredients into the butter and eggs alternately with the reserved 1 cup caramel, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients

4- Bake the Cake: Pour the batter into the prepared pan

and bake until a skewer comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Set on a rack for about 10 minutes and then unmold and let cool completely on the rack. Bring the rest of the caramel sauce to room temperature. When the cake is cool, glaze it by drizzling half of the remaining caramel sauce over the top

5- Whip the remaining 1 cup cream until it holds firm peaks. Fold in the last third of the caramel gently, leaving streaks visible. Serve with the cake.

Apple Cake for Thanksgiving

Apple Cake for Thanksgiving

If you are looking for dessert ideas to make for Thanksgiving, but don’t have tons of time to invest, I have a great suggestion for you: Apple Cake.

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook Around My French Table (she is simply amazing!), this Apple Cake is the answer to all of your dessert problems, and cravings too.

This time of year, you will find a bonanza of apples to choose from, but whenever I bake with apples, I like to stick to Golden Delicious, it’s my safest choice.

Golden Delicious Apple

Fuji apples also bake beautiful desserts. Feel free to be adventures, especially if you go apple picking! And feel free to try a variation of apples (in fact, Dorie Greenspan encourages the readers to do that).

I love the taste of rum in this cake, but if your costumers (you know who they are) won’t like it that much, feel free to skip rum. My favorite way of serving this cake is slightly warm, about an hour out of the oven, with a scoop of caramel ice cream on the side, but even the day after, this cake is delicious in every way.

 

 

 Apple Cake

 

Serves 6 to 8

 

¾ cup (100g) all-purpose flour

¾ teaspoon baking powder

pinch salt

3 apples (preferably Golden Delicious, or see note)

2 large eggs

¾ cup (135g) sugar

3 tablespoons dark rum

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

8 tablespoons (1stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

 

  1. Center a rack on the oven and pre-heat the oven to 350˚F.
  2. Generously butter an 8-inch springform pan.
  3. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together.
  4. Peel the apples, cut them in half and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 1 to 2 – inch chunks.
  5. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until they are foamy. Pour in the sugar and whisk for a minute or so to blend. Whisk in the rum and vanilla.
  6. Whisk in half of the flour and, when it is incorporated, add half of the melted butter, followed by the rest of the flour, and the remaining butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have a smooth, rather than thick batter. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the apples, turning the fruit, so that they are coated with batter. Scrape the mix into the pan, and poke it around a little with the spatula so that it’s even.
  7. Place the pan on a baking sheet and into the oven and bake, until the top of the cake is lightly golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 to 50 minutes.
  8. Transfer to a cooling rack and rest for 5 minutes.
  9. Carefully run a knife around the edges and remove the sides of the pan. Allow the cake to cool until it’s just slightly warm or at room temperature.
  10. To serve, carefully remove from the bottom of the springform pan and place the cake on a serving dish.

 

See more here!

 

Rhubarb Strawberry Pie

Rhubarb Strawberry Pie

Think pink!

IMG_1476

I love rhubarb and always try to create new recipes to use it, but I have to admit that this classic is—and will always be—my number one favorite way of using this vegetable!

It’s a vegetable after all, from the buckwheat and garden sorrel family and the stalk is quite tart, which is the beauty of it.

I couldn’t help sharing this recipe that I learned from my sister in law (who is a great cook and a great host!) Leslie Riback.

Happy moment: lovely ladies of the family; start from left: me, Leslie Riback, Gabby Riback (her daughter), and Bianca Laila (my daughter)

Happy moment: lovely ladies of the family; start from left: me, Leslie Riback, Gabby Riback (her daughter), and Bianca Laila (my daughter)

She told me she has been making this recipe for many years and when she brought it to a party recently I had to ask for the recipe.

Baking in the oven. Almost ready!

Baking in the oven. Almost ready!

I tweaked just a little bit, but the recipe is very much adapted by her version. Happy baking!

IMG_1537

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Serves 8 to 10

 

For the Crust:

3 cups all purpose flour

¼ cup sugar

2 ½ sticks (10oz) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1/3 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into pieces

About ½ cup iced water

 

For the Filling:

3 cups rhubarb

2 cups strawberries

Zest of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

4 tablespoons tapioca starch

7 tablespoons flour

Pinch salt

1 ¼ cups (285g) sugar

1 whole egg beaten, for glazing

 

Equipment: one round 9-inch pie pan

 

  • Make the Pie Crust: Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse. Add butter and shortening and beat just until it looks like a coarse sand. With the machine on, gradually add iced water, enough to start bringing dough together.
  • Scrape the dough onto a floured surface and gather into a ball. Cut in half, flatten each into a disk, and wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour before using. (Dough can also be prepared up to 5 days ahead of time, or 1 month ahead and frozen.)
  • Prepare the Filling: Cut rhubarb into 1-inch pieces.
  • Wash and hull strawberries and cut them in half (not fours or fruit releases too much water). Place fruit on a large bowl and stir. Add lemon zest and ginger as well.
  • Stir the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl and add to the cut up fruit. Fold carefully into the fruit, making sure you scrape all dry ingredients on the bottom of the bowl. Warning: mix fruit with dry ingredients just before ready to place inside the crust, or, the fruit will start macerating in sugar and releasing liquid before baking.
  • Assemble the Pie: Pre-heat the oven to 350˚F.
  • Remove the dough from the refrigerator at least 20 minutes before rolling, so that it becomes malleable. On a lightly floured surface, roll the first piece of dough into a circle between 1/16 and 1/8-inch thick, lifting the dough often, and making sure that the work surface and the dough are amply floured at all times. Roll the dough up and around your rolling pin then unroll onto the pie pan. Fit the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the mold. If the dough cracks or splits as you work, don’t worry— patch the cracks with scraps using a wet finger to “glue” them in place.
  • Pour the fruit filling onto the unbaked pie crust and spread as evenly as possible.
  • Roll out the top crust into a circle, and transfer to the top of the mold, pressing against the bottom crust in an attractive way with your fingers, then trim the overhang from both crusts. Make sure the two crusts are securely sealed together. Cut 4 slits with a pairing knife in the center to vent while baking. Chill for at least 20 minutes before baking.
  • Place the pie on a sheet pan, and bake on the center rack of the oven until the top looks lightly brown, about 30 minutes. Remove the tart from the oven, brush the top with egg wash, and return the tart to the oven, until the crust is gorgeously brown, about 10 to 15 minutes more. Sprinkle just some sugar on top (about 1 tablespoon) and bake for yet another 15 minutes, total of 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let the pie cool for at least 2 hours before serving. Pie should be served slightly warm. (If you want to bake one day ahead, simply let it cool completely, loosely wrap it in plastic and refrigerate. Remove from refrigerator 2 hours before serving, warm in a 250˚F for 30 minutes, and let it cool again at room temperature for another 30 minutes.)
I guarantee this is what your pan looks like when you make this pie!

I guarantee this is what your pan looks like when you make this pie!

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