Chocolate Strawberry and Neapolitan Macarons

I am having a total 70’s flashback today (in reference to my childhood) thinking about Neapolitan ice cream. In the 70’s it was still the cheap square cardboard boxes when it came to ice cream, and you didn’t have a million flavors like we do today. Somewhere along the line we transitioned into circular ice cream containers. What’s up with that?

Neapolitan ice cream was a frequent in our house growing up. I loved the first glance of those perfectly proportioned lines of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry when you first lifted the lid on the container. I was a naughty girl and always scooped from the strawberry stripe only. I’m sure my Mother figured it out. If not-she is certainly right now- reading this. For some reason I was not much interested in the chocolate or vanilla. Today I have grown out of my strawberry obsession and am an equal flavor opportunist.

Neapolitan macarons. You get all 3 wonderful flavors at the same time. Give it a try….

I did a couple variations on flavors. You could use vanilla swiss meringue buttercream to fill all or also choose to divide some of them and fill with chocolate ganache or even strawberry buttercream.

neapolitan macarons

strawberry choc and neapolitan macs

neapolitan macaron closeupstrawberry mac and neapolitan macs

chocolate with neapolitan macs

Chocolate Macarons

200 gms almond flour, sifted

200 gms confectioners sugar, sifted

2  Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

76 gms egg whites

200 gms granulated sugar

50 gms water

75 gms egg whites (room temp)

pinch of cream of tartar

1. In a large bowl combine the almond flour, and confectioners sugar and cocoa powder. Add the 75 gms of egg whites, and stir to combine. Set aside.

2. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment combine 75 gms of egg whites and the cream of tartar and begin whipping them on medium-high speed.

At the same time combine the 200 gms of  granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan on high heat; bring to 240° without stirring while whipping the egg whites on your mixer simultaneously. You want the cooking sugar syrup to reach 240 degrees at the same time your whites reach stiff peaks. To time this; keep the stand mixer next to the stove so you can peek at the whites while still watching your cooking syrup. If you notice the whites starting to get too stiff before the sugar is done; slow down the mixer to low-speed.

3. Once the syrup is at 240 degrees, stop/take off the heat and start pouring the syrup down the side of the mixer bowl slowly with the mixer running on slow-medium at the same time; careful not to let the syrup hit the whisk to prevent hard syrup forming. Once all the syrup is in, crank up the mixer and whip the whites until very glossy and stiff.

4. Take the whipped meringue and place on top of the almond mixture and start to  fold gently until all of the meringue is incorporated; careful not to deflate the mixture. You are looking for a thick consistency like lava. Fill a piping bag fitted with a 1/2 inch round tip and pipe the cookies on parchment lined sheet trays; leaving at least an inch space between cookies. Take the trays and rap them hard on the counter to release any air bubbles. Let the trays sit out anywhere from 30-60 minutes; as long as it takes until when you touch the top of the cookies they are dry and no longer tacky to the touch.

5. Bake the cookies double panned (placing one empty tray underneath the piped cookies) one tray at a time in a 325° oven for about 15-18 minutes until the cookies are no longer wet on the bottom and appear dry. Sacrifice one if you have to test. Let the cookies cool on the tray. Sandwich with the filling. Store the cookies in the fridge covered loosely for 8 hours or overnight; this helps the cookies become even more chewy as the moisture from the filling helps the texture of the cookie.

Strawberry Macarons

Follow the same recipe as above except substitute the cocoa powder with 2 Tbsp. dried strawberry powder and add a few drops of deep pink food coloring gel in step one.

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream

4 egg whites

1 cup granulated sugar

4 sticks  unsalted butter

2 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 vanilla and and beat until smooth. Use a generous 1 tsp. full to fill macarons.

Note: any leftover buttercream may be frozen. Store in an airtight container. To use: thaw at room temperature and rewhip with paddle attachment. You may also make strawberry buttercream by dividing adding in some seedless strawberry jam and whipping to combine.

Assembling Neapolitan Macarons: match up one chocolate and strawberry mac cookie and fill with vanilla buttercream. As an alternative you may fill some with chocolate ganache.

Small batch chocolate ganache

4 oz. semi sweet chocolate, chopped fine

3 oz. heavy cream

In a medium bowl place the chopped chocolate. Heat the heavy cream on high until small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let sit for one minute before stirring to combine thoroughly. Place the ganache in the fridge while you make the cookies.


Passionfruit Yo Yo’s (passion fruit sandwich cookies)

One of the things I discovered when I was in pastry school was passion fruit. Yes I had heard of it, but living in the West I could never get my hands on an actual fresh passion fruit. The best I could do was buy frozen passion fruit puree (at a premium price) through a high-price store when we lived in San Francisco. When we finally made the concrete decision to move here to Taiwan–I was giddy just in the fact knowing I could get my hands on fresh passion fruit. Moving to Taiwan and being able to get passion fruit alone is worth the daily struggles I face each day in a foreign land. Passion fruit is in season now and one block from where we live I can buy these little gems. Iced tea stalls are abundant in Taiwan and they sell wonderful sweet fruit tea. Down the street from where I live there is a woman who combines different fresh fruit with ice tea.  I knew she made passion fruit iced tea from the picture of the passion fruit on the front of her stall, and even though I did not know how to say passion fruit in Chinese I bit the bullet, tossed all shame aside and ordered the tea by pointing. Luckily the sweet lady understood enough English and with some creative pantomime gestures between the two of us, we sealed the deal. When I got home, I jumped on the internet and I vowed to learn how to say passion fruit in Chinese as perfect as I could so I could order that wonderful tea all over Taipei.

Passion Fruit Yo Yo's

 

Passion Fruit Sandwich Creams

 

passion fruit cookies on tray

 

passion fruit

Passion Fruit Yo Yo’s: Passion Fruit Cookies with Passion Fruit Buttercream

 

recipe adapted from Gourmet Traveler

Cookies:

180 gm unsalted butter

90 gm Icing sugar

80 ml passion fruit juice (1/3 cup)*

*(to make passion fruit juice place passion fruit pulp in a strainer over a bowl and push the pulp back and forth with a flexible rubber spatula to release the juice from the black seeds which are enclosed in a thin membrane- to make juice).

2 teaspoons lemon zest

225 gm all-purpose flour (1 1/2 cups)

100 gm cornstarch

pinch of salt

1. Beat butter and sugar in mixer until light and fluffy. Add passion fruit juice, lemon zest and combine. Add flour, cornstarch and salt and combine until dough comes together. Shape dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap and chill.

2. Preheat oven to 160º C or 325° F. Roll dough into 1/4 inch thick or 8mm thick. Cut out rounds with a 1  1/4 inch round cutter or 3 cm round cutter. Bake for 7-8 minutes until just starting to turn light golden around the edges. Let cookies sit on the sheet pan to cool completely. Place cookie sheet on a wire rack to cool. Once cookies are completely cool sandwich with buttercream.

Passion Fruit Buttercream

90 gm. unsalted butter, softened

1 1/4 Cups confectioners sugar

1 Tbsp. passion fruit juice (the pulp of one passion fruit pressed through a fine mesh strainer= 1 Tbsp. juice)

1. Whip the butter and sugar until fluffy, add in the passion fruit juice. If filling is too loose add a bit more confectioners sugar until thick.


Pink Champagne Cupcakes With Champagne Buttercream for Breast Cancer Awareness

Last year I did a few recipes with pink in mind in the spirit of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This year I would like to continue the tradition and post more recipes with pink as a message in tribute for continued awareness. The month of October is for Breast Cancer Awareness. Wear  your pink proudly. Men, this means you too; you know that pink shirt you have hiding in the back of the closet? Pull it out baby. Women everywhere will stop and thank you.  Everyone who knows me knows I love anything retro. This recipe is one of those 1950 retro style cakes. The recipe hails from Oceana restaurant in New York. Instead of a big cake I decided to make cupcakes. The recipe will make about 24 cupcakes or a good 2 layer standard size 8 or 9 inch cake. One last thing- make sure to sip a good glass of bubbly when you are whipping up this wonderful cake….There’s just the right amount leftover for sharing a glass with a loved one.

To your health, and a toast to all the ladies out there who are breast cancer survivors.

Cheers,

xoxo Suzie

 

Pink Champagne Cake (cupcakes)

Recipe adapted from Oceana Restaurant in New York

Yield: 24 cupcakes or a 2 layer 8 or 9 inch cake

3 Cups Cake flour

1  1/2 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. baking soda

3/4 tsp. salt

3/4 Cup unsalted butter (1  1/2 sticks) room temp

2 Cups sugar

6 egg whites (6 oz.) (I like to use ” liquid egg whites” in the carton  and fill to the 6 oz. mark on a liquid measuring cup)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 Cups pink Champagne, room temp

red food coloring

Champagne Buttercream

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 lb. confectioners sugar

3 Tbsp.  pink champagne

1 tsp. vanilla

To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Sift all the dry ingredients together through a mesh sieve and set aside. In a mixer bowl cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the egg whites slowly until combined. Add vanilla and mix. Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions; alternating with the champagne in 2 additions, and ending with the flour mixture until combined. Tint the batter if desired to a shade of pink with pink or red food coloring. Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for about 18-20 minutes until a few moist crumbs show when pierced with a wooden skewer or until cakes bounce back when pressed lightly. Let cool and frost with champagne buttercream.

To make the buttercream: Cream the butter along with sifted confectioners sugar until creamy and combined well. Add the champagne and vanilla and beat until combined. Careful not to overbeat or the liquid can cause the buttercream to separate.


Snickers Cupcakes

Who doesn’t love a good Snickers. Chocolate, creamy peanut nougat, and caramel. What’s not to love?? Who doesn’t love a good chocolate cupcake. If a Snickers and cupcake had a baby this would be it. A perfect marriage. Talk about a bun in the oven. Is there anything else to say? This recipe is wordy enough, so I’ll just stop right there. Enjoy.

Suzie

Snickers Cupcakes

Peanut Praline

1/2 Cup granulated sugar

2 Tbsp. water

1/4 Cup salted “party” peanuts

1. Prepare a rimmed sheet pan with either a Silpat silicone liner or grease lightly. In a small saucepan combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil over high heat until medium-dark amber in color. Turn off the heat, remove from burner and stir in peanuts, pour out onto prepared sheet pan, let cool completely and place in a plastic ziplock bag and bash with a meat mallet to grind into fine powder. Set aside for peanut praline buttercream filling.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

8 egg whites

2 Cups granulated sugar

6 sticks (3 Cups) unsalted butter

2 tsp. vanilla

*Peanut Praline (from above)

* 4 oz. Bittersweet chocolate bar, chopped fine, melted and cooled

1. In the mixer bowl of a stand mixer place the egg whites and sugar and place over a saucepan of simmering water.

2. Heat the egg white mixture while whisking until the temperature is about 160 degrees and/or the mixture is very warm to finger touch and can no longer feel any sugar crystals between your fingers.

3. With the whisk attachment; place the bowl on the stand mixer and whip until you have a stiff meringue and the bottom of the bowl is barely warm. Add the butter one tablespoon at a time until all of the butter is incorporated; mix on high speed. Add the vanilla and whip until smooth.

4. Divide buttercream

To make Peanut Praline Buttercream Filling: Take about 2 Cups of buttercream and stir in 1/2 Cup of the * peanut praline. Set aside for filling cupcakes.

To make Chocolate Buttercream: Take the rest of the buttercream and beat in the cooled, melted bittersweet chocolate until smooth. Use this to frost cupcakes.

Devils Food Cupcakes

makes ~ 24 cupcakes

3/4 Cup unsalted butter, room temp

2  1/4 Cup Sugar

3 eggs, room temp

1  1/2 tsp. vanilla

2  1/4 all-purpose flour

3/4 Cup Extra dark cocoa powder (such as Hershey’s special dark, or regular cocoa powder)

1  1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 Cup buttermilk, room temp

3/4 Cup  coffee, room temp

1/3 Cup Purchased caramel sauce, mixed with pinch of salt (For drizzling cupcakes)

1. Preheat oven to 375° degrees.

2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light &  fluffy; about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time and beat until combined; stopping to scrape down bowl in between each addition. Add vanilla, stir to combine. In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients and whisk to combine; set aside. Combine buttermilk and coffee together in a liquid measuring cup; set aside. Add dry ingredients alternatively with buttermilk coffee mixture ending with flour mixture, beating after each addition.

3. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full. Bake at 375° degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Don’t be tempted to overfill as they rise quite a bit! Let cakes cool on a wire rack in pans for 10 minutes then remove to wire rack to let cool the rest of the way completely.

Cupcake Assembly-

Make a hole in the cupcake using apple corer, fill with Peanut Praline Buttercream. Frost with swirl of Chocolate Buttercream. Drizzle with salted caramel topping. Top with small slice of snickers candy bar.


Carrot Cake

Why do carrots get such a bad rap?  Carrots are cool; just ask Bugs Bunny. Matter of fact, tre cool! Carrots are healthy. Carrots are full of beta carotine. Carrots help make the most amazing cake! Everytime I make this cake people tell me its the best carrot cake they’ve ever had; and quite frankly I agree. I think it’s because of all the yummy ingredients of coconut, pineapple and raisins. I have never met a person that does not like carrot cake.  I know it’s all in my head, but somehow I feel like a good Mother when I make carrot cake as my child is actually eating carrots– for a change. Yes I know it’s hardly much carrot he actually gets and yes I know it’s wrapped around a bunch of sugar and other things but I can’t help it, I still feel sneaky and giddy. The word carrot usually sends Seth running for the hills. It is literally the only way he will eat a carrot; unless I sneak it into a smoothie. This is a great party cake as young and old alike will fall for this cake. All your carrot phobia offspring will go for it. You can make it in a 9 x 13 pan or if you like it will make a nice 2 layer (9 inch) cake. I have even made a recipe and a half and done an impressive 3 layer cake. The recipe below for cream cheese frosting is the perfect amount for a 9 x 13 pan. If you want to make a layer cake I would double the frosting for a 2 layer. Party on~ Suzie.

Carrot Cake

Cake:

3 Cups all-purpose flour

1  1/2 Cups sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp baking soda

1 Tbsp cinnamon

1  1/2 Cups vegetable oil or grapeseed oil

4 Lg eggs

1 Tbsp vanilla

2 Cups shredded carrots

1 Cup golden raisins

1 Cup of drained crushed pineapple

1 Cup sweetened shredded coconut

1 Cup chopped walnuts

Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 oz. cream cheese; kept cold

4 Tbsp unsalted butter; cubed and kept cold

2 tsp vanilla

1 pound confectioners sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease or spray with nonstick baking spray a 9 x 13 inch pan or 2 (9 inch round pans).

2. In a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer combine dry ingredients and  whisk together.

3. Add oil, eggs and vanilla and beat well for about 2 minutes. Stir in carrots, raisins, pineapple, coconut and walnuts. Pour batter into pan(s). Set on middle rack of oven and bake for about 35-40 minutes or until edges have pulled away from sides of the pan; if cake looks like it’s getting too dark cover with aluminum foil. Let pans(s) cool completely on wire rack. Frost with cream cheese frosting. Keep cake cold until about 30 minutes before serving. Store any leftover cake wrapped and stored in the fridge.

For Frosting: Beat together the cold cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add in vanilla and beat.  Slowly sift in confectioners sugar about 1-2 cups at a time and beat until smooth.


Red Velvet Cake/Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Frosting

I can’t tell you how many times people have asked me the secret to a good red velvet cake recipe. People swear to me [and I’m not braggin’] that my red velvet cake is the best. You wanna know the secret? No, you don’t have to move to the South. No, you don’t need to add vinegar. No, you don’t have to use buttermilk. You wanna know? Do ya? Do ya? Okay. Here’s the answer….Drum roll….wait for it, wait for it…

You go to www.mcCormick.com and look for the recipe. Or better yet; it’s right below for your convenience. That’s right. The same recipe I have been using for years comes straight from the people who supply that red food color/one ounce of/love it red boldness/gotta make red velvet cake color red food color. That’s right. You heard me right. I’m not even kidding. I’ve tried all kinds of recipes and theirs is the best. I swear-you just have to trust me on this. I just have one piece of advice. When you go to the store to buy the McCormick red food color buy more than one bottle. Buy three. Next time when you want to make red velvet cake and you can’t find red food color because let’s say it’s the eve of Valentines Day and every other baker Betty has cleared the shelf; you’ll thank me. Keep it on hand. Okay, down to business. One other piece of advice. Make sure the dairy and the eggs are room temp when you go to mix the batter. That’s it. Carry on.

Red Velvet Cake

(recipe from McCormick spice co.) 

(yield: 24 cupcakes, one 2 layer 9 inch cake or one 9 x 13 inch pan)

CAKE/CUPCAKES:

1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (such as Hershey’s)

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

2 cups granulated sugar

4  eggs (room temp)

1 cup sour cream (room temp)

1/2 cup milk (room temp)

1 bottle (1 ounce) McCormick® Red Food Color

2 teaspoons  vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 2 (9-inch) round cake pans; or (for cupcakes  prepare a standard size muffin/cupcake tin with 24 paper liners) or (for 9×13 inch pan grease and flour the pan, tap out excess flour). Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

2. Beat butter and granulated sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Mix in sour cream, milk, food color and vanilla. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until just blended. Do not overbeat. Pour batter into prepared pans/cupcake pan. [For cupcakes use a 1/4 cup equivalent ice cream scoop to fill them 2/3 full].

3. For 9 inch Cake pans: Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. For Cupcakes: Bake for 20-22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. For 9 x 13 inch pan; Bake for about 40 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pans if using 9 inch pans; cool completely on wire rack.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING: (Suzie tip: I make double the amount of the recipe originally called for in the recipe). I can’t stand a cake that wimps out on the amount of frosting. I’m just sayin’

2 (8 oz. packages) (1 lb. total) cream cheese, softened

1/2 Cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1/4 Cup sour cream

2 teaspoons  vanilla

2 lbs. confectioners’ sugar

(optional)* 8 oz. white chocolate melted and cooled

Beat cream cheese, butter, sour cream and vanilla in large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Fill and frost cooled cake or frost cupcakes with frosting.

* Suzie variation: If I’m making the 9 inch cake where I’m using the frosting as filling and frosting I like to add the white chocolate. It gives the frosting a little more body and adds a really rich flavor.


Pretty In Pink Strawberry Guava Cupcakes

Strawberry Guava Cupcakes 

Breast Cancer Awareness Month continues with pretty in pink cupcakes, and to also honor my friend Ruth and her birthday. Ruthie as we like to call her sprinkles sugar where ever she goes; just like these pretty cupcakes. Happy Birthday Ruthie! We love you so much.

Strawberry Chiffon Cake

(this chiffon cake recipe is from Jennifer at use real butter) please check out her blog- it is amazing. Her site is www.userealbutter.com)

[note: this recipe calls for a lot of egg whites- because of this I like to buy the carton of fresh egg whites; you can find them near the butter section of your grocery store] It will save you time and you won’t have a ton of egg yolks leftover.

14.5 oz cake flour

8.75 oz. confectioners sugar

0.5 oz. baking powder

6.75 oz. whole milk

6 oz. canola oil

3-4 oz. strawberry puree

2 eggs

13 oz. egg whites

9.5 oz. granulated sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

(Guava jam for filling cupcakes)

1. Pre heat your oven to 350 degrees. Line 3 standard muffin tray with cupcake liners.

2. Sift the dry ingredients (except the granulated sugar) together and set aside.

3. In a large bowl combine the milk, oil, 2 eggs, strawberry puree and vanilla.

4. Whip the 13 oz. of egg whites and the granulated sugar together until they reach medium peaks.

5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients from step 3 and combine until incorporated.

6. Fold the whipped egg whites into the batter gently. Note; if you like you can add some additional red food coloring at this point if you want your batter a little darker.

7. Fill the paper liners with 1/4 Cup batter. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-16 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool on a wire rack. Fill and frost when completely cool.

Strawberry Buttercream

8 egg whites (or equivalent of liquid “just whites” the carton will tell you the conversion amount)

2 Cups sugar

6 sticks unsalted butter

2 tsp. vanilla

3/4 C strawberrry preserves

1. In the mixer bow of a stand mixer place the egg whites and sugar and place over a saucepan of simmering water.

2. Heat the egg white mixture while whisking until the temperature is about 160 degrees and/or the mixture is very warm to finger touch and can no longer feel any sugar crystals between your fingers.

3. With the whisk attachment; place the bow on the stand mixer and whip until you have a stiff meringue and the bottom of the bowl is barely warm. Add the butter one tablespoon at a time until all of the butter is incorporated; mix on high speed. Add the vanilla and strawberry preserves. Whip until smooth.

Assembly:

If you desire you can remove a piece of the cupcake with an apple corer and fill with guava jam. Frost the cupcakes with the buttercream and sprinkle with choice of decorated sugars. To get the swirled effect as above I have used a 1M Wilton pastry tip.

Printable Recipe:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qwk7bcg94gqkPvmUSOF098gJEPYdIFaZHkwKTS3P6RU/edit?hl=en_US

Happy Baking,

Suzie