Easter Milk Chocolate Malt Cadbury Macarons

 

 

Do you know how therapeutic it is crushing candy into tiny pieces after a mind bending day at work? Yeah. Therapeutic, I’m here to tell ya. I normally don’t buy Cadbury during other times of the year; although their chocolate is amazing. There’s something about these tiny little eggs that dare you to stop after eating just a few. The hard crunchy outer shell while being smooth, is thick enough that cracking one open with a side back tooth- launches that file used just for methodical eating-corner of your brain. For me, that’s the same file used for eating macadamia nuts; but that’s a story for another time.

Cadbury egg crushing/bashing with a meat tenderizer caveman style while being encased safely inside a ziplock bag did just the trick for getting over a bad day at work.

I was unsure if I wanted to fold them inside of chocolate ganache or use them sprinkle fashion showing off their pretty little pastel like dress colors. Obviously, I went with the later. It says-look at me Mommy in my pretty little Easter dress. Yeah, I’m weird. My candy talks to me.

I chose to flavor the ganache with a malted milk chocolate flavor to envoke the same flavor as a malted milk egg. Spring is here folks!

 

Easter Malted Milk Chocolate Cadbury Macarons

 

140 g fine almond flour

125 g confectioners sugar

108 g egg whites

1/8 tsp. cream of tartar

110 g granulated sugar

gel food coloring of your choice (I used a mixture of teal and navy blue)

 

In a food processor place the almond flour and confectioners sugar and run for 30 seconds. Stop and scrape down the sides so the mixture settles into the processor bowl. Repeat this 2 more times, then sift mixture through a strainer (it doesn’t have to be fine) over a large bowl (I use a 5 quart size stainless steel bowl). Preheat the oven to 300° F convection, 325° F for non convection setting.

In the bowl of a stand mixer place the egg whites and cream of tartar and whisk by hand (using the mixer whisk) until foamy for about 30 seconds. Prepare two baking sheets with either parchment paper or Silpat liners.

Set the mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment assembled to the mixer, and start the meringue by running mixer on power level 4 (Kitchen Aide) and start gradually adding in the granulated sugar- run/whisk for 2 minutes once all the sugar is in. Stop once to scrape the sides of the bowl to push down any sugar that appears on the sides.

Increase mixer then to power level 6 and run for 3 minutes.

Increase mixer to power level 8 and run for 3 minutes.

Stop mixer and with a bamboo skewer or toothpick add in your gel color.

Increase mixer to power level high (10) and run for 1 minute (Just to show it who’s boss!!) or until meringue is stiff peaks. A sign that meringue is ready is there will be a good amount collected within the whisk and if you turn the bowl upside down the meringue will not slip or move. If the color does not appear to be mixer to your liking at this point I add in any color and mix gently by hand; being careful not to overmix.

Add one half of the meringue to the almond flour/sugar mix and start folding with a rubber spatula until mixture starts to look cohesive. Add in the remaining half of meringue and continue to gently fold, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. The batter is perfect when you lift up the spatula and tip the spatula down and ~ 4 ribbons of batter fall smoothly back into the bowl and the edges of the ribbons fade into the rest of the batter in 10 seconds.

Fill your pastry bag by using a heavy tall cup or mason jar to hold your pastry bag with the top folded over the glass. When preparing your bag after you drop in your round tip (I use an Ateco 804), twist the bag right above the larger end of the tip and push it down into tip. Fold the top 4 inches of the bag over the jar or glass. Pipe quarter size of your batter and let sit for about 15-30 minute until they are no longer tacky feeling with touching with a finger.

Bake in a preheated oven for ~ 15-16 minutes at 300° F- 325° F (see above). Allow to cool completely on the tray and then remove and sandwich with the malted milk chocolate ganache and roll each macaron edge into the crushed Cadbury egg pieces.

 

Malted Milk Chocolate Ganache

1 Cup milk chocolate chips

1/3 Cup heavy cream

3 Tbsp. Carnation malted milk powder

Crushed Cadbury Easter mini egg candies (for dipping macs into)

 

In a small saucepan scald the heavy cream and stir in the malt powder, combining well. Pour over the chocolate chips in a heat proof bowl and let sit for one minute, then stir slowly to combine. Let ganache firm up in the fridge until ready to use. Use a piping bag to pipe dollops of ganache to sandwich each cookie, then roll in crushed Cadbury egg pieces. Chill in the fridge in a covered air tight container to allow the macarons to “mature” for 1-2 days ideally before serving.

 

 

 

 


Earl Grey & Lavender Cake with Blackberry Buttercream

 

 

 

 

 

 

I came across this black loose flavored tea while in the grocery store one day and it sounded so good, I bought it, but parked it in my pantry for the longest time.  I finally decided it was time to put it to good use. I just love the flavor of tea infused into cake. It’s not the first time I have used this process for flavor. This particular combo pairs really well with the subtle flavor of the blackberry buttercream. The Husband is really picky when it comes to desserts; he will usually comment when he really likes something and this time he said this one was a “real winner”. I have to say I agree; the color of the cake is a bit strange because of the color it turns the milk when infused but don’t let that turn you off, it is sublime! The cake comes out super moist as well, so that’s always a plus. I went a bit strong I have to admit on the amount of the tea- but I really wanted the flavor to come through. If you want a more subtle flavor cake you can cut down to 3 tablespoons total if you prefer. Also- I added in a little bit of non infused tea to the cake so that it has those little bits of black flecks of the tea. (I know people will ask me why I did that, so that’s why I’m explaining it here). I get a lot of questions on why I do certain things and sometimes it’s just a whim that hits me when recipe developing, as in this case.

These would make adorable mini cupcakes as well for a party.

 

Earl Grey & Lavender Cake with Blackberry Buttercream

 

Cake

2 1/2 Cups all purpose flour

2 Cups sugar

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 tea bag of earl grey (cut open and contents removed) (I used Stash brand)

1 Cup milk (I used whole)

1/4 Cup loose (earl grey with lavender black tea)

1 Cup warm water

1/2 Cup grapeseed oil

1 Tbsp. vanilla

2 large eggs

purchased blackberry seedless preserves (I like Dickensons brand)

fresh blackberries (optional for serving and decorating the top of the cake)

 

Preheat the oven to 340° F and prepare three 6 x3 inch cake pans (If you don’t have 6×3 inch pans you can use 6×2 and divide batter into 4 pans instead) with non-stick baking spray and line with parchment circles. You may also divide batter into 8×2 inch pans or 9×2 evenly but will have to adjust your baking times. I used a little over 2 cups of batter into each 6×3 inch pans.

Heat the milk to a scald, remove from heat and steep the 1/4 cup loose tea in the milk for 15 minutes. Strain the tea and throw away the tea and keep the milk.

In the bowl of a stand mixer whisk together the first 5 ingredients.

In a large glass measuring cup or mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, water, eggs, and vanilla

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and beat on low to medium speed until combined; stopping the scrape down the sides to ensure you get everything combined well. Do not over beat.

Bake until tops of cakes are no longer wet looking and when touched lightly with a finger they spring back lightly, or a toothpick inserted comes out with a few moist crumbs. Let cakes cool in their pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes then remove to cool completely on the rack.

For my 6×3 inch pans, I baked at 340° F for 40 minutes, but all ovens are different so make sure to test cakes often so as not to overbake.

 

To assemble cake:

Pipe a dame of blackberry buttercream around the edge of a cake layer and spread a layer of blackberry preserves, then top with blackberry buttercream and gently spread the buttercream evenly over the preserves, then continue to layer in this manner until you reach the top layer and spread with just buttercream. Do a crumb coat of buttercream on top and sides and chill cake at least 30 minutes until you spread the remaining buttercream over sides and top and decorate as desired.

 

Blackberry Buttercream

5 egg whites

1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

4 sticks unsalted butter, room temp

1 tsp. vanilla

4-5 Tbsp of seedless blackberry preserves

optional lavender, regal purple, or violet gel food colors (I used a combination of to boost purple color)

Heat the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until temperature reaches 160 degrees. Whip with a whisk on medium-high speed until you reach a billowy meringue and meringue is cool and bottom of the bowl does not feel warm. Add butter in by tablespoons at a time and continue to beat until smooth. Add in vanilla and blackberry preserves a tablespoon at a time until fully incorporated. Stop and taste after 3 tablespoons of preserves to adjust flavor. You may not need all of the preserves to achieve the desired taste. I added a few drops of different purple gel colors to boost the color of my finished buttercream.

 

 

 

 

 


Moist and Fudgy (sugar free/gluten free) Keto Brownies

 

Hey everyone. I’m sure a lot of you have heard of the Keto diet, or know someone personally who is following that way of eating.  Myself, I have been on it for about 50 days now and loving how I’ve been able to incorporate it into my life rather easily and still lose weight. One of the things I enjoy most about being a baker is the creative process of recipe development; it’s one of the reasons why I went to pastry school so that I could learn the science behind what works in a recipe. There are so many options now for sugar substitutes than say ten years ago. Sure, I still love to make regular desserts-that has not changed and it will never change. This is just another role play in my arsenal of becoming a better baker and what I can offer people.

I was intrigued with the whole sugar substitute thing and ways I could incorporate it into a brownie recipe as the Keto diet has become all the rage. This is my first foray into recipe development with replacing both sugar and flour. I’m no stranger to almond flour as a replacement for wheat flour as I’ve used it many times before. I was pretty pleased with the outcome of this brownie recipe. They came out fudgy and full of flavor and no weird aftertaste.

If you’re following a Keto diet, I hope you give these a try. There is a baking company called (Lillys click here) that makes chocolate chips and bars (my fave is the milk chocolate salted almond)  that use Stevia, and you would be amazed at how they taste! You cannot even tell a difference in the taste- there is no weird aftertaste at all!! They definitely cure a chocolate craving for sure!

 

Fudgy Keto Brownies 

1 stick (1/2 Cup) unsalted butter, melted

1/3 Cup Lily’s brand chocolate chips

4 oz. softened cream cheese

3/4 Cup Lakanto “classic” monkfruit sugar substitute

2 large whole eggs, + 1 yolk

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 Cup almond flour

2 Tbsp. Hersheys (or another brand of natural) cocoa powder

2 Tbsp. black cocoa powder  (I use King Arthur brand)

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 bar Lily’s milk chocolate caramelized and salted, coarsely chopped

 

Preheat the oven to 325° F. Prepare an 8×8 inch pan by spraying with nonstick spray and lining one side with a parchment sling.

In a large bowl microwave the butter until melted. Toss in the chocolate chips and stir until melted. Add in the softened cream cheese and stir to combine. Add in the sugar substitute and whisk to combine-note it will not melt like regular sugar and appear grainy (this is normal). Add the eggs one at a time and mix to combine, then stir in the vanilla.

Place a sifter over the bowl and add in the dry ingredients, then whisk gently to combine. Fold in the chopped “milk chocolate caramelized and salted Lily’s bar”.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and level the batter with an offset spatula.  Bake until a few moist crumbs appear once pierced with a toothpick, and the top no longer appears wet; about 25-27 minutes. Allow the brownies to cool completely over a wire rack in the pan, then pull out the entire slab using the sling and cut into squares.

 

 


Caramel Swirl Marshmallows

 

You know all those packets of hot cocoa mix you got in your Christmas stocking? Yeah, I’m here to tell you that if you plop one of these melt in your mouth, gooey, sticky, caramelly marshmallow nuggets in your mug of cocoa, you will be extra happy. I promise.

People often get very intimidated about making homemade marshmallows, but it’s really not difficult; you just have to be organized from the get go and assemble all your ingredients and tools and read through the recipe to get a sense of the flow before you start.

I’m here to tell you, people LOVE getting homemade mallows as gifts. This time of year, everyone is making cookies (myself included), but tucking into a hot cup of cocoa with a large homemade mallow is so comforting and they make a really thoughtful gift. You’ll be an instant rock star. This is the gift you give when you may not know the person too well and you don’t know what they like or dislike. EVERYONE loves a good mallow!

Yes, I’m probably a little late on the draw posting this I know, but like everyone else, I’ve been uber busy and you can always give these as hostess gift for a New Years Party as well.

 

Caramel Swirl Marshmallows

yield: one 9×9 inch pan or 24 large size mallows

 

Bloom

1/2 Cup cold water

4 1/2 tsp. unflavored gelatin

Misc

1/4 Cup light corn syrup

2 tsp. butter vanilla flavoring or 2 tsp. vanilla

1 Cup + 2 Tbsp.  room temp store bought caramel sauce (I used Coronado Cajeta-it has the perfect consistency) which you can find in Mexican Grocery Stores or Target for that matter…

Syrup

3/4 Cup granulated sugar

1/4 Cup water

1/4 Cup light corn syrup

2 pinches of salt

Prep

Candy thermometer at the ready

3/4 Cup confectioners sugar placed in a ziplock bag with 1/2 Cup cornstarch, seal bag and shake to mix

9×9 or 8×8 inch pan lightly sprayed with non stick baking spray, then line both sides with parchment paper sling and brush lightly with soft butter again on all sides (clean hands work best)

medium bowl brushed lightly with soft butter

1 Cup + 2 Tbsp. caramel sauce (misc. list)

rubber spatula

wooden skewer sprayed with non stick spray

small offset spatula sprayed with non stick spray or lightly buttered

mesh sifter

 

  • Assemble prep list as above and keep on a cookie sheet for ease of use
  • In a small bowl prepare the “bloom” by placing the cold water and sprinkle over the gelatin. Let sit at room temperature. After two minutes stir gently then set aside
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer place 1/4 cup light corn syrup (from the misc. list)
  • Microwave the bloomed gelatin for 30 seconds
  • Start heating the syrup contents in a medium non stick pan over medium high heat. Stir the contents 1-2 times, to mix, then don’t stir after that. Clip the candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and heat until soft ball stage (240° F) Meanwhile…
  • Place the heated/bloomed gelatin in the mixer bowl along with the corn syrup fitted with the whisk and turn mixer on low speed (have the butter vanilla flavoring next to the mixer)
  • When the syrup reaches 240 degrees, turn off the heat and pour the syrup down along the side of the mixer bowl and try to avoid the syrup hitting the whisk. Turn speed up to medium and whip for 5 minutes. Then increase speed to medium high for 5 minutes, then add the butter vanilla (or just vanilla) and whip on high for 2 more minutes.
  • Stop the mixer, working quickly and remove about 1/4 of the marshmallow and place in the buttered bowl and mix with the caramel sauce. Return the caramel mallow mixture to the remaining mallow in the mixer bowl and mix gently in a figure eight pattern.
  • Tip out the combined mixture into the prepared pan and smooth with the small offset spatula. At this point I like to dot the top with the (2 Tbsp. caramel) and use the long wooden skewer to mix the caramel into the top.
  • Dust the top of the marshmallow with the confectioners sugar/cornstarch coating
  • Allow the marshmallow to sit at room temperature uncovered in a cool dry place overnight to “cure”
  • The following day or 8 hours later, dust a cutting board heavily with some of the coating and flip out the entire pan of marshmallows onto the board and dust the top with more coating. Cut into squares, and dip the sticky sides of the marshmallows into more of the coating, tapping off the excess. Store mallows in an airtight container.
  • After a few days, mallows will most likely need to be dusted again.

 

 


Peppermint Candy Cane Macarons

 

Okay, I have a confession- I still have leftover candy canes from last year. I mean, it’s not like they go bad….

Put them in a food processor or plastic bag and smash them into small pieces and get baking.

I’m part of a monthly book club/potluck and I’m asked often to bring macarons. This month we are doing a cookie exchange at our meeting, so I’m doing double duty by making these and being able to get another post in.

Peppermint (Candy Cane) Macarons

140 g finely ground almond flour

125 g confectioners sugar

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

110 g granulated sugar

108 g egg whites

 

In a food processor place the almond flour and confectioners sugar and run for 30 seconds. Stop and scrape down the sides so the mixture settles into the processor bowl. Repeat this 2 more times, then sift mixture through a strainer (it doesn’t have to be fine) over a large bowl (I use a 5 quart size stainless steel bowl). Preheat the oven to 300° F convection, 325° F for non convection setting.

In the bowl of a stand mixer place the egg whites and cream of tartar and whisk by hand (using the mixer whisk) until foamy for about 30 seconds. Prepare two baking sheets with either parchment paper or Silpat liners.

Set the mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment assembled to the mixer, and start the meringue by running mixer on power level 4 (Kitchen Aide) and start gradually adding in the granulated sugar- run/whisk for 2 minutes once all the sugar is in. Stop once to scrape the sides of the bowl to push down any sugar that appears on the sides.

Increase mixer then to power level 6 and run for 3 minutes.

Increase mixer to power level 8 and run for 3 minutes.

Stop mixer and with a bamboo skewer or toothpick add in your gel color.

Increase mixer to power level high (10) and run for 1 minute (Just to show it who’s boss!!) or until meringue is stiff peaks. A sign that meringue is ready is there will be a good amount collected within the whisk and if you turn the bowl upside down the meringue will not slip or move. If the color does not appear to be mixer to your liking at this point I add in any color and mix gently by hand; being careful not to overmix.

Add one half of the meringue to the almond flour/sugar mix and start folding with a rubber spatula until mixture starts to look cohesive. Add in the remaining half of meringue and continue to gently fold, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. The batter is perfect when you lift up the spatula and tip the spatula down and ~ 4 ribbons of batter fall smoothly back into the bowl and the edges of the ribbons fade into the rest of the batter in 10 seconds.

Fill your pastry bag by using a heavy tall cup or mason jar to hold your pastry bag with the top folded over the glass. When preparing your bag after you drop in your round tip (I use an Ateco 804), twist the bag right above the larger end of the tip and push it down into tip. Fold the top 4 inches of the bag over the jar or glass. Pipe quarter size of your batter and let sit for about 15-30 minute until they are no longer tacky feeling with touching with a finger.

Bake in a preheated oven for ~ 15-16 minutes at 300° F- 325° F (see above). Allow to cool completely on the tray and then remove and sandwich with the whipped white chocolate ganache and sprinkle crushed candy canes on top of ganache inside and around the outside of the cookies.

Whipped White Chocolate Peppermint Ganache Filling: 

11 oz. white chocolate chips

5.5 oz. heavy whipping cream

1 tsp. peppermint extract

finely crushed candy canes

 

In a heat proof bowl place the white chocolate chips. Bring the heavy cream to just a boil. Pour the hot cream over the chips and let sit for 2 minutes, then stir gently to combine. If there are small pieces of chocolate not melted microwave on high in 20 second intervals until melted and stir to combine. Let ganache sit until set and then gently stir in the peppermint extract. Place the ganache in a stand mixer bowl and whip with the paddle attachment until lightened in color and it becomes thicker in texture. Place in a pastry bag to pipe. Place a circle of filling onto one cookie and top with crushed candy canes, then place another cookie on top to sandwich cookies together.

 


Pumpkin Spice Macarons

 

Are you a lover or a hater? We’re talking pumpkin spice. Please don’t be a hater, I’ll be crushed.

You know who you are. Yeah, you cinnamon haters. You spice deserters. Spice is life! Spice is my jam.  I could spend all day in a spice store-and I’m sure I have. Opening jars and sniffing. Certain cultures embrace spice. Just spend an afternoon in an Indian grocery store and you’ll know what I’m talking about; you’ll find me snorting the packages like a junkie.

You’ll wonder why I don’t give specific measurements for the buttercream in this recipe. It’s because everyone has a different barometer when it comes to cinnamon and the other spices that dance together in pumpkin spice blend.

I was poking around in Homegoods store (oh yeah the Gourmet foods aisle) one afternoon and found a jar of pumpkin curd. Now, I’ll be the first to admit you can make ALL kinds of curds, but I had never heard of pumpkin curd, so that jar found it’s way into my cart. It was rather loose for a curd, and also contained a bit of orange flavor, so I stirred a little bit (~ 2 Tablespoons)  of it into a basic vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream and added little shakes of pps (pumpkin pie spice) until it tickled me just right.  You can substitute pumpkin butter in place of or even a spoonful at a time of pumpkin puree I think to achieve a flavorful buttercream.

 

Pumpkin Spice Macarons

107 grams egg whites

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

110 grams granulated sugar

124 grams confectioners sugar

140 grams blanched fine almond flour

1/8 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

orange gel food color

 

In a food processor place the almond flour and confectioners sugar and run for 30 seconds. Stop and scrape down the sides so the mixture settles into the processor bowl. Repeat this 2 more times, then sift mixture through a strainer (it doesn’t have to be fine) over a large bowl (I use a 5 quart size stainless steel bowl). Preheat the oven to 300° F convection, 325° F for non convection setting.

In the bowl of a stand mixer place the egg whites and cream of tartar and whisk by hand (using the mixer whisk) until foamy for about 30 seconds. Prepare two baking sheets with either parchment paper or Silpat liners. I use these macaron mats by Velesco

Set the mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment assembled to the mixer, and start the meringue by running mixer on power level 4 (Kitchen Aide) and start gradually adding in the granulated sugar- run/whisk for 2 minutes once all the sugar is in. Stop once to scrape the sides of the bowl to push down any sugar that appears on the sides.

Increase mixer then to power level 6 and run for 3 minutes.

Increase mixer to power level 8 and run for 3 minutes.

Stop mixer and with a bamboo skewer or toothpick add in your gel color.

Increase mixer to power level high (10) and run for 1 minute (Just to show it who’s boss!!) or until meringue is stiff peaks. A sign that meringue is ready is there will be a good amount collected within the whisk and if you turn the bowl upside down the meringue will not slip or move. If the color does not appear to be mixer to your liking at this point I add in any color and mix gently by hand; being careful not to overmix.

Add one half of the meringue to the almond flour/sugar mix and start folding with a rubber spatula until mixture starts to look cohesive. Add in the remaining half of meringue and continue to gently fold, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. The batter is perfect when you lift up the spatula and tip the pointed end of the spatula down and ribbons of batter fall smoothly back into the bowl. I like to gauge its ready when I can count ~ 4 ribbons falling without breaking and I can “draw” a figure 8 with the batter when lifting the spatula and letting it fall into the bowl.

Fill your pastry bag by using a heavy tall cup or mason jar to hold your pastry bag with the top folded over the glass. When preparing your bag after you drop in your round tip (I use an Ateco 804), twist the bag right above the larger end of the tip and push it down into tip. Fold the top 4 inches of the bag over the jar or glass.

 

Let the batter fall right into the bottom of the bag and continue filling to ensure you don’t get air bubbles. When ready to pipe and all of the batter is in the bag, twist the top of the bag and when ready to pipe, push down with your dominant hand to force the bottom of the tip to open.

Pipe the batter onto prepared baking sheet with 30 macarons per sheet. Six across the long side, and five rows perpendicular. Sift a light dusting of cocoa powder over each piped macaron round. Take the sheet pan and wrap against the counter for 13 times. Repeat x 2 more times of 13, then look for any visible air bubbles and pop with a toothpick or bamboo skewer. Allow the macarons to rest for 10-30 minutes, then bake in a preheated (convection oven if you have at 300° F , 325° F for NON convection oven*) for about 16-18 minutes or until the cookie does not wiggle when attempting to check by carefully grabbing both sides of a cookie and gently testing.

Let the tray rest on a wire rack and then bake the second tray.

Cool the cookies completely and pipe the buttercream between two cookies and sandwich together.

*A word about oven temperatures: EVERY one’s oven is different and after painstaking doing several batches of macarons I determined that in MY oven 300 F convection setting is best for me. Check your oven temperature against a thermometer placed in the middle of your oven. Some people bake there’s at 285, 290, 310 etc. unfortunately it’s something that you have to play around with and determine what is best for you and your oven.

 

Pumpkin Spice Buttercream

3 egg whites (large eggs)

3/4 Cup granulated sugar

2 sticks unsalted butter

pumpkin curd or pumpkin butter to taste

pumpkin pie spice to taste

 

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. Fold in the pumpkin curd/pumpkin butter or puree; whichever you are using and taste it as you go along, adding in little shakes of spice mixture to your liking.

Note: you can make the buttercream a day or two ahead and keep chilled in the fridge, just let it come to room temperature and stir vigorously with a spoon or re whip with the whisk attachment.

 


Salted Caramel Toffee Crunch Cake

 

Do you know how hard it is to decorate a cake with caramel and not lick your fingers? The bad thing about caramel is it’s sticky and gets all over everything. The good thing about caramel is it’s sticky and gets all over everything.

Okay, I might have had a lick or two…

This past weekend I was invited to a Friendsgiving party so I wanted to bring something different besides the typical pie.  I was planning on making my Pumpkin Orange Spice Cake, but the host said to please bring something without cinnamon or pumpkin, so that kind of killed that notion right there. Once I switched gears, it got me thinking of something everyone loves- salted caramel. If you decide to make the caramel you’ll most likely have some leftover, but that’s never a bad thing. You may also use purchased caramel sauce such one found by the ice cream isle, such as Smuckers brand.

Salted Caramel Toffee Crunch Cake 

Make the Caramel Filling  (salted version)  used to flavor the buttercream) before starting the cake and allow to set at room temperature, or alternatively make the day before and store in the refridgerator. Bring to room temperature when ready to make the buttercream.

 

Brown Sugar Cake

3/4 C + 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

2 Tbsp. sunflower or vegetable oil

1/4 Cup packed dark brown sugar

1 1/4 Cup granulated sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 1/4 Cup whole milk, room temp

1/4 Cup sour cream, room temp

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste

3 1/2 Cups cake flour, sifted

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

3/4 tsp. kosher salt

 

In a medium skillet melt the butter and stir continuously with a heat proof spatula over medium heat until the butter smells nutty and the butter turns foamy and brown bits form on the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl. Place the bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes to solidify while you prepare the pans and assemble your other ingredients.

Spray the cake pans with baking spray and place a parchment round in the bottom of each pan.

Preheat the oven to 325° F.

In a bowl sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.

Once the browned butter has solidified, remove it from the freezer and place it in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whip the butter until the browned bits in the butter are no longer visible and appear to have combined well. Add in the oil and stir. Turn off the mixer and place a sieve over the bowl and press the brown sugar through the sieve to remove and hard lumps. Mix the brown sugar and butter on medium speed until combined. Add in the granulated sugar slowly with the mixer running, stopping the mixer a few times to scrape down the sides and bowl of the mixer.

Add in the eggs one at a time until combined.

In a glass measuring cup whisk the milk, sour cream and vanilla bean paste.

With the mixer on low speed, add in a third of the flour mixture, alternating with the milk mixture in 2 increments, and ending with the flour mixture.

Pour the batter evenly between the four cake pans. Note: you may also divide the pans between two 9 inch pans instead.

Bake in a preheated oven for approx. 28 minutes or until the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and when touched the cake springs back. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for about 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Fill with the toffee crunch buttercream, and frost with the salted caramel buttercream (recipes below).

Swiss Meringue Buttercream (to be divided for both flavors)

6 egg whites from large eggs

5 sticks unsalted butter

1 1/2 Cup granulated sugar

Kosher salt to taste

1 tsp. vanilla

a recipe of my salted caramel filling or purchased caramel sauce such as Smuckers

1 1/4 Cups Finely chopped chocolate toffee such as Heath brand (hint: if you can find “bits of brickle” by Heath its easier)

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the eggs whites and sugar and place over a pot with simmering water. Whisk the egg whites and sugar and heat until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is about 160 degrees F on an instant read thermometer* (*alternatively- you can feel the mixture with your first two fingers and if you don’t feel any sugar granules then it is ok). Turn off the heat. Attach the mixer bowl onto the mixer with the whisk attachment and whisk the mixture on medium until the bottom of the bowl is almost cool to the touch and the mixture has turned into a nice stiff meringue.  This will take several minutes. With the mixer on medium high, add the softened butter one tablespoon at a time and continue to mix until all the butter is incorporated and the mixture is smooth. It will go through a curdled looking stage as it mixes; but don’t worry keep adding the butter and it will come together. Add in the vanilla and mix to combine.

Divide half of the buttercream evenly into a large bowl. Mix with the chopped toffee bits. This will be the filling.

Using the mixer, combine the remaining bowl of buttercream with salted caramel, stirring in 2 Tablespoons at a time and stopping and tasting until desired flavor is reached; adding in pinches of salt as necessary.

Assemble the cake with the toffee crunch buttercream as the filling and frost the outside of the cake with the salted caramel buttercream. Decorate as desired. Store the cake in the fridge until 1-2 hours prior to serving, remove the cake to come to room temperature.