Tiramisu

It was 120 degrees in my part of Arizona here the other day. I actually don’t mind when it’s this hot (I’m one of the very few) because it heats our pool up to a nice soaking bed of liquid nirvana. One of my favorite things is to swim late at night when the moon is shining and the palm trees are swaying. I close my eyes and just float mindlessly, shutting out the world. We have three palm trees that line the back edge of our pool, and with the right amount of wind they lend a soft gentle breeze. I love this time of year. The only downside is that when it’s this hot the last thing you want is to turn on the oven. Enter one of the classic no bake desserts-Tiramisu. It’s super easy and comes together quickly. There is only one caution and that is you have to be careful and not over whip the mascarpone once you add it to the custard portion. I’ve actually made this twice; the first time with flatter softer lady fingers and it turned out too soggy for my liking. The second time I used hard, crunchy type savoiardi biscuits and I much prefer this version. This tiramisu is not 100 percent classic as I used whole eggs versus only egg yolks, and I also did a sifting of cocoa powder over the custard to help combat sogginess. There are two layers of biscuits, but it’s hard to see in the picture above as when I scooped out the piece for the picture I ended up leaving the bottom layer behind a bit, but rest assured there are two. If you don’t like the mouth feel of cocoa powder on the top you can use grated chocolate shavings, or chocolate curls instead.

                          I used cookie cutters to decorate the top of the cocoa powder

Tiramisu

Soaking Syrup

2/3 Cup strong (hot) coffee or espresso

1/4 Cup + 2 Tbsp. Kahlua

1/4 Cup Crème de Cacao liqueur

1  1/2 Tbsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. vanilla

1/4 Cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder (I like Valrhona) + more for assembly

Savoiardi biscuits (cookies) for assembly (Look for them in the cookie aisle)

Filling

5 whole eggs

1/2 Cup + 1 Tbsp. sugar

1/4 tsp. kosher salt or a pinch of salt if regular salt

24 oz. mascarpone cream cheese

 

Prepare filling:

Assemble a double boiler using the bowl of a stand mixer to fit over a 3 quart saucepan. Place eggs, sugar and salt in bowl and continually whisk over simmering water until mixture measures 160° F on a candy thermometer. Place mixer bowl on stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment and whisk egg mixture on medium high speed until you reach ribbon stage. Ribbon stage  means when you stop the mixer and lift the whisk up out of the whipped eggs it should fall into ribbons that fall back and disappear into the foam.  The entire mixture will resemble loose shaving cream and will have quadrupled in size. Place the entire mixer bowl in the fridge and chill for 30 minutes.

Remove the mixer bowl from the fridge and use the same whisk (no need to wash) and turn mixer on medium speed. Take the mascarpone out of the fridge and add a serving spoon size (about 1/4 Cup) at a time while the mixer is running, stopping frequently to scrape the bottom of the bowl. DO NOT TURN THE MIXER TO HIGH. If you over whip the mascarpone with the egg mixture it can separate and your mixture will “break” and resemble cottage cheese. THIS CAN HAPPEN VERY EASILY. Continue to keep adding in the cheese and mix on medium speed until smooth. Note: I prefer to mix the filling until it appears almost smooth and then finish by inserting an immersion blender in and out several times until mixture is smooth-this prevents the filling from being over whipped, and the filling comes out super smooth.

Prepare soaking syrup:

Whisk ingredients together (except the biscuits) in a small bowl that is wide enough to allow dunking of biscuits.

Assembly:

Use a baking pan for assembling the dessert. I used a 7 x 11 inch baking pan but a 9 x 9 pan has the same volume, so either one will work. With the 7 x 11 inch pan I ended up using 12 biscuits for each layer which ended up being one whole package of biscuits.  Dunk (submerge) each biscuit into the soaking syrup for a couple seconds and place in an even layer to cover the bottom of the baking dish. Measure out 2 cups of the custard and smooth out into an even layer over the biscuits. Sift a layer of cocoa powder over the custard using a fine mesh strainer. Repeat with a second (final) layer of dunked biscuits and the final layer of custard, followed by a sifting of cocoa powder. I used a varied size of cookie cutters to dip and lift into the cocoa powder for a designed effect. Chill the dessert (uncovered) in the fridge for at least 2 hours to firm up. Serve chilled.

 

 

 


Summer Peach and Prosciutto Flatbread

 

Do you like flatbread? My son and I will quite often share one while dining out.  It’s a nice appetizer to share with friends or if you’re not super hungry. Peaches are in season now and they pair nicely with prosciutto. It’s a nice light alternative when you don’t want to eat something too heavy.  Now I know it might sound weird to be firing up the oven to 425 on a hot Summer day, but they bake rather quickly once you’ve assembled them. Alternatively you could throw them on the grill as well and enlist some friends to help assemble. Cut into wedges and serve with a nice crisp white wine while lazing around the pool.

Summer Peach and Prosciutto Flatbread

yield: serves four

4 store bought naan flatbreads (such as Stonefire brand)

apricot preserves

6-8 slices prosciutto ham, sliced into 1/4 inch ribbons

7 oz. white cheddar cheese, sliced into thin slices (I used Kerrygold aged white cheddar)

fresh thyme leaves

2 fresh peaches, washed and dried and cut into thin slices

fresh ground pepper to taste

red onion sliced thin (optional)

approx. 2 Cups fresh baby spinach, sliced into 1/4 inch ribbons

 

Preheat oven to 425° F. Place flatbreads on parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool for a few minutes, then spread a thin smear of apricot preserves over each flatbread. Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves, 5 slices of white cheddar broken into pieces, ribbons of prosciutto, and 5 slices of peaches. Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper. If you like, you could add some thin slices of red onion (I did not have any in the house, but I think it would be nice). Bake for 10 minutes until flatbreads are crisp and golden brown. Top with the lemon-olive oil dressed ribbons of spinach. Cut into wedges and enjoy.

 

Lemon-Olive Oil Dressing

1 T fresh lemon juice

1 T extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard

pinch of each salt and pepper

In a medium bowl whisk together the ingredients and then toss the spinach gently to combine.

 

 

 

 


Blackberry Lavender and Lemon Pound Cake

Are you as happy as I am that blackberries are in season? I’m seeing them left and right on sale now in the markets and it’s making me oh so happy. My latest greatest find was 3 for a dollar, so I had to strike! Brought these beauties home and made this scrumptious pound cake. It is super duper moist. That’s right- I said super duper. The lemon glaze that adorns the top takes it to the next level. The recipe calls for quite a bit of lavender- but don’t be scared, the flavor does not overpower the cake at all-just make sure you are buying culinary dried lavender. It can be a bit hard to find, but higher end stores like Whole Foods carries it in their spice aisle. The original recipe comes from Miche Bacher from her cookbook “Cooking with Flowers” which now that I took a sneak peak on Amazon, I might have to purchase the book! The recipe is posted on fancy flours website.

Blackberry Lavender & Lemon Pound Cake

recipe: from fancyflours.com (reprinted from original recipe by Miche Bacher) from cookbook “Cooking with Flowers”

2 Tbsp. dried (culinary) lavender buds

3/4 Cup buttermilk (or 3/4 Cup milk + scant Tbsp. lemon juice-see notes in step one).

2  1/2 Cups all purpose flour

1  1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

zest of one lemon

1 pint blackberries (2 small 6 oz. containers)

1 Cup unsalted butter, softened

2 Cups sugar

4 eggs + 2 egg yolks

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

 

1.  Stir lavender buds into the buttermilk and let steep for 30-45 minutes, or if you don’t have buttermilk stir the buds into 3/4 cup of milk and 10 minutes before preparing the batter stir in a scant tablespoon of lemon juice.

2. Preheat oven to 325° F.  Prepare a loaf pan (9x5x3) with nonstick baking spray and line with a parchment sling, leaving parchment so it hangs over the long sides of the pan with at least 3 inches, then spray again. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Gently stir in the (washed & dried) blackberries.

3. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and yolks one at a time on medium speed until incorporated. Note: the mixture may appear curdled, but don’t worry-it will come together once you add the dry ingredients.  Stir in the lemon juice.

4. Gently fold in BY HAND (not with an electric mixer), one third of the flour/berry mixture, then add in 1/2 of the milk/lavender mixture, adding in another third of flour mixture, then the last half of milk mixture, ending with last 1/3 of flour mixture. Gently pour the batter into the pan (Note: only fill the pan 3/4 of the way full- you may have some batter left over), and bake for ~ 40 minutes or a wooden skewer when inserted comes out with a few moist crumbs. Let cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then remove using the parchment sling. Allow the cake to cook completely on a wire rack, then glaze with lemon glaze.

Lemon Glaze

2 Cups confectioners sugar

3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

In a small bowl whisk together sugar and juice until glaze is smooth and free of any lumps.


Creamsicle Macarons (Orange-Vanilla Macarons)


Does your childhood Summer evoke memories of you and your friends sitting on the porch eating a creamsicle popsicle? That sound of the dude with the push cart full of popsicles with the distinct unmistakable sound of bells clang al-ang- ing against each other. You could spot that sound 3 blocks away I swear. Just enough time for you to run in the house and yell, “Mom!!!!!!” “The ice cream man is coming, can I have a popsicle?” “Pleassssse?” The tang of the orange encapsulating that sweet vanilla flavor. There is nothing like it. It’s still one of my favorite flavors.

These macarons will transport you back to the 70’s (if you’re in your 50’s like me) when times were simpler. No WiFi, no reality Tv, no silly internet stories clouding your brain, just the nice weather forcing you to play outside. One bite will have you day dreaming of peaceful summers….

Creamsicle Macarons

75 g aged egg whites, room temp

pinch of cream of tartar

1 tsp. egg white powder

50 g superfine granulated sugar

90 g almond flour

135 g confectioners sugar

1 tsp. vanilla powder

orange gel food coloring

clean small brush for “painting piping bag” (cheap @ the craft store) or use the blunt end of a wooden skewer

* A note about superfine sugar- please do NOT buy it-it’s priced higher. Simply make up a batch by pulsing some in a food processor and store away in an airtight container.

1. In a food processor pulse the almond meal, and confectioners sugar, stopping to push contents down into the bowl and process until fine. Sift contents into a bowl and discard any hard lumps. Stir in the vanilla powder. In the bowl of a stand mixer place the egg whites, cream of tartar, egg white powder, and superfine granulated sugar, and hand whisk until foamy. Fit a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and mix on low speed (Kitchen aide stop 4) for 2 minutes, then medium speed (stop 6) for 2 minutes, then on high speed (stop 8) for 2 minutes, then increase to highest speed (stop 10) for one minute, or until whites are stiff. Hint: if you remove the bowl and turn it upside down and the whites do not slide out they are ready! (Just be careful when checking!)

2. Gradually add the almond flour mixture to the meringue and mix/fold with a rubber spatula until mixture when lifted is able to form a figure 8 ribbon. About every 5th fold lift the spatula up and let the batter fall gently back into the bowl. Once you can form a figure 8 ribbon without the mixture breaking, the mixture is ready. Prepare the piping bag with a round tip and swipe three stripes of orange gel coloring inside the piping bag. Fill gently with the mac batter.

3. Prepare a sheet pan with either Silpat or parchment paper and preheat the oven to 300° F. Pipe the macarons onto the prepared sheet pan about a quarter size with 1 1/2 inches space between. Note; if after piping there are visible peaks then the batter is too thick and could cause problems such as cracking or not rising correctly. Squeeze out all the batter back into the bowl (with firm pressure) and refill the batter back into the piping bag and re pipe.  Usually the act of doing this will thin the batter enough (without having to mix more) to get a more ideal thickness. Once you have piped the batter take the sheet pan and rap it on the counter a few times (3-6)  to release any air bubbles. If you still see any visible air bubbles pop them gently with a bamboo skewer or toothpick. Allow the sheet pan to sit for 30-60 minute to form a “skin” so when touched the batter is no longer tacky feeling.

4. Bake the macs for about 13-15 minutes until when touching the top of a macaron, the top does not wiggle or slide but is firmly set. If they look like they are getting too browned then cover with tinfoil for the last few minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Do not attempt to remove until they are completely cool. Once cooled fill as described below.

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream

3 large egg whites, room temp

3/4 Cup granulated sugar

2 sticks unsalted butter

1 tsp. vanilla

 

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine egg whites and sugar. Set over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk until mixture is hot and sugar is dissolved. Remove bowl and place on mixer and beat until stiff meringue forms and bottom of mixer bowl is cool to touch; about 5 minutes. Add softened butter one tablespoon at a time until all is incorporated. Add the vanilla,  then beat until smooth.

To assemble macarons- Pipe a ring of vanilla buttercream onto one half of the underside of a cookie, then pipe the orange curd inside the vanilla ring, cover with another half of mac cookie. (see photo)

Orange Curd

1/2 Cup fresh orange juice

zest of two oranges

3/4 Cup superfine granulated sugar

6 large egg yolks

pinch of salt

1/2 Cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Combine yolks, sugar, orange zest, orange juice, salt, and butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan; whisk to combine. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula (be sure to scrape the sides of the pan), until the mixture is thick, 8 to 10 minutes. Let mixture come to a boil and cook, continually scraping sides of pan, for 2 minutes. If desired, strain through a fine sieve into a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled and very firm, about 2 hours.

Any leftovers will last in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks in the fridge. You may also freeze leftover curd.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Blackberry-Mint Vodka Fizz

I always wanted a house with a big wrap around porch. You know the kind you see on those fancy home renovation shows. It would have dual porch swings facing each other and trees in the front yard lending soft breezes. My friends would stop by and I would whip up some boozy fruit flavored drink and we would sit for hours talking about nothing. I have a backyard pool with palm trees that give off a nice breeze, so don’t feel too sorry for me, but this is the kind of drink that evokes porch sippin’. If you have a nice covered front porch I demand you to make this drink and invite over a friend or two….

 

 

Blackberry-Mint Vodka Fizz

1.5 oz. blackberry mint syrup (recipe below)

crushed ice (this is key)

lime (or plain) flavored sparkling water (I used La Croix lime)

1.0 oz. vodka (optional)

4-5 fresh blackberries

sprig of fresh mint

 

In a short glass tumbler place crushed ice and blackberry mint syrup. Add in sparkling water or plain soda and optional vodka. Stir. Top with berries and fresh mint.

Blackberry mint syrup

makes a generous 1 Cup

1 Cup water

1 Cup sugar

2 Cups fresh or frozen blackberries

1/4 Cup fresh (clean) mint (about 20 leaves)

Bring everything to a boil except the mint. While mixture is coming to a boil crush the blackberries softly (they don’t have to be totally crushed). Let mixture boil for about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and then add the fresh mint. Let mint steep for 20 minutes, then strain out solids and store syrup in refrigerator.


Lemon-Vanilla Cake (Speckled Easter Egg Cake)

 

I haven’t made a layer cake in a while, but for some reason I was feeling it. My lemon tree is dropping lemons like grenades every four seconds right now as it’s time for the ol’ tree to shed all of it’s lemons, so after making what seemed like endless pitchers of lemonade, I decided a lemon cake was in order. This cake is super fun to make because of the speckled decorating part. It’s a bit of an ambitious cake, so by all means make parts of it ahead; such as the filling and the cake a day before if you like. Just make sure to wrap the cakes well in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge. I even brushed the cakes with the syrup the day before and wrapped the cakes each separately in plastic wrap and chilled in the fridge. If you’re not feeling that ambitious you can of course buy a store bought cake mix such as vanilla- and use that (I won’t judge)- but by all means make the buttercream yourself as you’ll want that amazing vanilla flavor that you can’t get from store bought.

 

For pure white looking layers- use a sharp knife to cut off the browned areas of the cakes from top, bottom and sides.    

                  

 

Speckled Easter Egg Cake: Lemon-Vanilla Cake

yield: 4 layer 6 inch cake or 2 layer 9 inch cake

Lemon Vanilla Cake

1 Cup unsalted butter, room temp (227 g)

1  1/2 C sugar (300 g)

finely grated lemon zest of 2 lemons

6 large egg whites, room temp

3  1/4 C sifted cake flour

1 Tbsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. pure lemon extract

1  1/3 C whole milk (320 ml), room temp

Optional for finished garnish: toasted coconut and Cadbury mini chocolate Easter eggs

 

Prepare four 6 inch cake pans with baking spray; bottom and sides (that contains flour) or grease and flour pans. Line bottom of each pan with parchment paper. You can use 2 nine inch cake pans also if you don’t want to make a six inch tall cake.

In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

In the bowl of stand mixer place the sugar and lemon zest and rub the sugar and lemon zest together with fingers to release natural oils in lemon zest. Add in the softened butter and using paddle attachment cream on medium speed until fluffy; about 2 minutes.  Add in the egg whites one at a time and mixing until incorporated. Stir in the vanilla and lemon extracts.

Add in flour mixture in 3 additions alternating with milk; beginning and ending with flour mixture. Note: I like to fold in the flour mixture and milk with a spatula by hand first then gently turn on the mixer and beat gently- This ensures a lighter cake and avoids over beating the batter and helps that the crumb stays light and soft. Divide the batter evenly between the pans.

Bake the pans in a preheat 350° F oven for 27-29 minutes or until the cake springs back when pressed gently with a finger. The cakes will just start to pull away from the sides of the pans.  Do NOT overbake. Cool the cakes in the pans for about 15 minutes, then turn out and allow to cool completely.

Lemon Syrup

1/2 Cup sugar

1/2 Cup water

4 one inch strips of fresh lemon peel (careful to make sure no white pith remains)

3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

In a glass measuring cup place the sugar, water, and lemon peel and microwave on high until sugar dissolves. Let lemon peel steep for 15 minutes, then remove. Stir in lemon juice. You can do this a day or two before to save time.

Note: any leftover syrup you can strain to remove any cake crumbs , keep chilled in the fridge and use in iced tea.

 

Lemon Cream Filling

3 oz. cream cheese, room temp

9 Tbsp. heavy cream, cold

1 1/2 tsp. nonfat dried milk powder

1/2 tsp. vanilla

3/4 Cup purchased Lemon Curd (I like Dickinsons brand)

Beat the heavy cream and dried milk powder on high speed using an electric hand mixer to stiff peaks. Move the whipped cream to a separate bowl and chill while proceeding. and using the same mixer bowl (no need to wash), beat cream cheese on medium speed for 2 minutes. On low speed, beat in vanilla. Add in the lemon curd and beat until well incorporated and smooth. Fold in the cold whipped cream by hand until mostly blended (don’t overmix), and cover and chill while making buttercream. Note: you can make a day or two ahead if desired and keep covered and chilled.

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream

5 large egg whites

1 Cup + 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

4 sticks unsalted butter

2 tsp. vanilla bean paste or vanilla, or seeds of one vanilla bean + 1 tsp. vanilla

Sky blue gel food coloring

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine egg whites and sugar. Set over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk until mixture is hot and sugar is dissolved. Remove bowl and place on mixer and beat until stiff meringue forms and bottom of mixer bowl is cool to touch; about 5 minutes. Add softened butter one tablespoon at a time until all is incorporated. Add vanilla,  then beat until smooth.

Note: Reserve about a cup of the buttercream (before coloring blue) to pipe a dam of buttercream on 3 of the layers to “hold” in the lemon cream layer.

To color the buttercream: Beat in one drop at a time of gel color until desired color is achieved. [I ended up using about 6 drops, but go SLOW and add a tiny bit at a time]. Note: the color of the buttercream will deepen in color about 1-2 shades as it sits.

 

Cocoa Speckle for decorating

1 Tbsp. cocoa powder

1  1/2 Tbsp. vanilla

small clean brush for decorating (I used a never used clean toothbrush)

In a small bowl whisk together the cocoa and vanilla. To “speckle” lay down wax paper underneath your work area and dip your brush into the mixture and then dab the brush onto the wax paper to remove any excess. You don’t want it too thick- if too thick you’ll end up with huge spots or unattractive drips. Practice first a few times on the wax paper-you’ll want to use your index finger to quickly flick the bristles of the brush about an inch away from the cake. It’s also best to whisk your cocoa mixture from time to time to prevent it from becoming too thick-you may need to add a few TINY drops of water occasionally if needed. If you end up with a real bad boo boo just chill the cake then use a small offset spatula to lift off any spots you don’t want. Note: you WON’T taste any cocoa flavor in the finished product.

 

To Assemble: Brush each layer of cake with the lemon syrup. Pipe a ring of “dam” of vanilla buttercream on 3 of the layers to hold in the lemon cream filling. Spread the lemon cream inside the dam of buttercream and continue stacking until you reach the top layer. Apply a crumb coat of buttercream and chill the cake for about 30 minutes. Continue frosting the top and sides of the cake.

Make the cocoa speckle mixture and speckle the top and sides of the cake as noted above.  (Note- I find it helpful to lay down a few sheets of wax paper as you will get speckles of brown on your work area).

Garnish the top of the cake by toasting small amount of sweetened coconut in the oven at 350° F for about 6 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Top off with a few of mini candy coated Easter eggs.


Chocolate-Malt Whopper Whoopies

Who wants a whoopie?!  I could use anything about now that gives me a hint of a mental boost. I’m sure my readers on the East coast of the U.S. right now will agree. Hang in there- Spring is coming! How can you be mad when you say the word whoopie? My computer keeps trying to auto change it to whoopee every time-clearly hinting to me with a mind of it’s own that I need to whoop it up a bit more than usual. Note taken.

I’ve been wanting to make whoopie pies for a while now, but wanted to forgo the traditional marshmallow filling.  A couple of years ago I made this whopper buttercream for a filling in a buche de noel, and remembered how yummy it was. There are crushed whoppers in the buttercream which boosts the malt flavor even more. Who doesn’t love a good whopper?  I love the flavor combination of chocolate and malt, and now that I have a container of malted milk powder I’m going to have to bust out some more recipes I supposed with malt! These are fun for a party or casual gathering.  If you don’t know what a whopper is, you might know what a malteser is (if you hail from somewhere besides the U.S.) This recipe is adapted from a recipe called Devil Dogs from the Cookbook Baked Elements. Enjoy!

 

Keep the batter spaced well when scooping, as they spread when baked….

 

Chocolate-Malt Whopper Whoopies

yield: ~ 12-13 whoopie pies

 

Chocolate Whoopie Pies

yield: 12-13 assembled sandwiched whoopies

recipe: adapted from “Devil Dogs” in Cookbook Baked Elements

 

2 Cups all purpose flour

1/2 Cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder (such as Valrhona)

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. instant espresso powder

1/4 Cup unsalted butter, room temp

1/4 Cup vegetable shortening, room temp

1 Cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 tsp. vanilla

1.5 oz. dark chocolate (60-72 %), melted and cooled (I used Guittard “Extra Dark” 63 % chocolate chips)

1 large egg yolk

1 Cup whole milk +1 Tbsp. vinegar (Or you can use 1 Cup buttermilk)

 

Whisk the first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.

In a glass measuring cup place the milk and vinegar and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening until smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary.

Add the brown sugar and vanilla and beat (about 3 mins.)  until fluffy-stop to scrape down sides and bottom of bowl as needed. Add the cooled chocolate and yolk and beat until combined. Note: I used the microwave to melt my chips and it took me exactly 60 seconds total heat time-which I stopped several times to stir the chocolate as to avoid burning).

Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the milk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Stop the mixer often to scrape down the sides and bottom of work bowl. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a spatula to mix gently one last time and gather the batter into the middle of the bowl. Place the bowl in the refrigerator to chill for 10 minutes.

Prepare sheet pans with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 400° F.

Remove chilled batter from fridge. Using a 1 oz. scoop (2 Tbsp.), scoop and place batter onto prepared sheet pans, leaving 2 inches of space to allow for spreading while baking. Bake for 10 minutes or until cakes spring back slightly when gently pressed. Do not overbake. Allow to cool on pans completely, then carefully use a spatula to gently scrape underneath to remove. Note: the original recipe says to chill the cakes on pans for 10 minutes then remove, but I found that the cakes fell apart too easily with this, so I advise allowing the cakes to cool completely on the sheet pans then removing gently. Another helpful tip: I found that chilling the cakes (unassembled for about an hour before filling them also helps the cakes to firm up a bit which helps them stay firmer once assembling).

To Assemble: Scoop a generous amount of buttercream filling (recipe below) between two cakes and serve immediately. If not serving immediately, store assembled cakes in the fridge in an airtight container or in a container covered with foil.

 

Malted Buttercream with Crushed Whoppers

recipe adapted from the Book:  Baked Elements

2 Tbsp. boiling water (I do this in a coffee mug in the microwave)

4 Tbsp. (1/4 C)  malted milk powder (such as Carnation)

1/2 Cup heavy cream

6 Tbsp (1/4 C + 2 Tbsp. ) whole milk

1/4 Cup  flour

1 Cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp

1  3/4 C confectioners sugar, sifted

1 tsp. vanilla

1 Cup Whoppers Malted Milk Balls + more (if desired for garnishing outside of pies)

 

Dissolve the malted milk powder in the boiling water and using a spoon, stir and  smoosh the powder as necessary against the side of the mug to ensure all of the powder dissolves.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the cream, milk, and malted milk mixture. Whisk in the flour gradually and stir constantly until mixture reaches a boil and becomes thick, about 3 minutes. Set the mixture in the refrigerator to chill for about 10 minutes.

Cream the butter and confectioners sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until fluffy. Remove the cooled malt mixture from the fridge and slowly pour in the mixture with the mixer on low. Once all the milk mixture is added, add in the vanilla and turn up the mixer and beat on medium speed until mixture is fluffy.

Place the Whoppers in a freezer type ziplock bag and using a heavy saucepot crush the candies until coarsely crushed.

Fold in the crushed whoppers into the buttercream.

Note: You can make the buttercream a day in advance if desired and store in an airtight container in the fridge. When ready to assemble whoopies- let the buttercream come to room temperature and rewhip by hand (vigorously) with a spoon to allow the buttercream to become fluffy again.

Note: you can crush additional Whoppers and roll the finished/assembled whoopies in crushed candies if desired.