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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Pistachio~Rose Cake: Pistachio Cake with Pistachio and Rose Buttercream

 

I think everyone knows my obsession now with rose flavored desserts, and pistachio and rose are like BFF’s. Since I had some rose buttercream leftover from my macarons it gave me an idea to come up with a recipe for pistachio and rose cake. I still ended up making buttercream since my leftovers weren’t enough but no bother it was a good excuse to make a layer cake. A word to the wise since pistachios are a bit expensive- make sure you buy them from a purveyor who’s supply is quickly turned over and store them if not using right away in the freezer. I had bought some a while back (even stored them right away in the freezer) but when I thawed them they were rancid. It was from a bulk bin of nuts so I think they sat there a while. Anywho…I digress. This cake turned out to be one of my absolute favorites of all time. It kind of reminds me of the preppy pink and green from the 80’s. Muffy and Biff would be proud. I admit I bumped up the color of the cake with a bit of mint green gel food color just because I found it added that extra pretty preppy punch from being nicely dressed to va va voom.

 

Pistachio Cake, Rose~Pistachio Buttercream

Pistachio Cake 

yield: 8 inch 3 layer cake or ~ 24 cupcakes

 

3 Tbsp. Confectioners sugar

1 C + 2 Tbsp. unshelled pistachio pieces (I get mine from Trader Joes)

3 Cups all purpose flour

1 Tbsp. + 1  1/2 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. kosher salt

1  1/2 C sugar

1 Cup + 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temp

4 1/2 large eggs

1 Cup + 2 Tbsp. whole milk, room temp

1  1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

3/4 tsp. pure almond extract

mint green gel food coloring (optional)

 

 

In a food processor place the confectioners sugar and the pistachios and grind/pulse until finely chopped with some nuts being ground into a coarse powder. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Prepare 3 eight inch cake pans with baking spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper and spray lightly again. Note: If you only have 2 pans, you may bake the third one separately after allow the pans to cool.

In a separate bowl place the flour, baking powder, and salt and stir to combine well. Set aside.

Cream the sugar and the butter until soft and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat on medium speed until combined. Note: mixture will look somewhat curdled (don’t worry-mixture will come together). Add in half of the flour mixture on medium speed, stopping to scrape down the mixer bowl as needed. In a glass measuring cup mix the extracts with the milk. With the mixer running, stream in the milk and beat on low speed until combined. Add in the last half of the flour mixture and beat until combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down sides and bottom of bowl to combine everything well. Add in the ground nut mixture and fold with a rubber spatula until combined. Divide the batter evenly among the 3 pans. Bake in preheated oven for ~ 24 minutes or until the cake has a few moist crumbs when pierced with a wooden skewer, or when pressed lightly the cake springs back. Allow the cakes to cool on a wire rack until cool.

Pistachio Sugar Syrup (optional)

1 Cup water

1 Cup sugar

4 drops Pistachio flavored concentrated essential oil for baking (such as Lorann brand) (found in cake supply stores)

Boil the water and sugar until the sugar dissolves, then allow the mixture to cool for 15 minutes and add in the drops of the pistachio flavored oil.

Pistachio Paste

1/2  Cup shelled unsalted & roasted pistachio nuts

6 Tbsp.  sugar

1 1/2  Tbsp. water

1 Tbsp. pistachio oil (or vegetable oil)

1. Prepare a sheet pan with either a Silpat or by lightly greasing with vegetable oil.

2. Pour the water in a saucepan and then add the sugar. With a clean finger mix the sugar and water until it looks like wet sand. Have a cup of water with a clean pastry brush placed in the cup.  Bring the sugar to a boil stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once sugar dissolves-stop stirring. If sugar crystals form along the sides of the pan; use the wet pastry brush to let water drip down to dissolve the crystals. Continue to cook until the mixture comes to a light caramel color. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the nuts. Return to the heat and cook until comes to a medium amber color. Working quickly- pour the nut mixture onto prepared pan and with a heat proof spatula do your best to flatten out nuts. Allow the nuts to cool until they become hard.

3. Once mixture is hard and completely cooled- use your hands to break apart any large clumps. Place the mixture in a food processor and pulse several times to initially break up the mixture. Proceed to process the mixture until it starts to form a thick paste. When the blade no longer seems to move add the oil and continue to process until as smooth as possible. Leftover should be stored in an airtight container in the freezer.

Buttercream

5 egg whites

1  1/2 Cups sugar

4 sticks unsalted butter, cool but not cold

2 tsp. vanilla

2 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. pistachio paste

1/4 + 1/8 tsp. Rose water (I like Nielsen Massey brand)

mint green gel food color

deep pink gel food color

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. Divide buttercream evenly into two bowls.

To one bowl add the pistachio paste and mix well with a spoon or spatula. Add in a tiny bit of mint green gel color using a toothpick, and stir to combine. Add more a little at a time until desired color is achieved.

In the other bowl add the rose water and stir to combine. Add in the deep pink gel color using a toothpick, and stir  evenly to combine until desired color is achieved.

If using the simple syrup: brush each cake liberally with the syrup and allow to seep into the cake a while before stacking and assembling the cake.

Fill a piping bag with each pistachio buttercream and rose buttercream side by side. Using a spiral technique pipe a layer of buttercream over the surface of cake round and stack the next round of cake on top. Continue til all three are stacked. Pipe rows of alternating flavored buttercream onto sides and top of cake and smooth as necessary to create a two toned affect.

 


Stump de Noel

I’ve always been a person that is mostly “out of the box”. I tend to think a bit differently than your average Joe, so when I saw this recipe for a stump de noel vs. the traditional buche de noel, I was intrigued. It’s a very striking dessert that has that “wow factor” when you’re called to bring the dessert for the Christmas party or family gathering. It requires quite a bit of work, but you can scatter the work over a few days time so on the day of assembly you can just focus on pulling it together. It’s best to read through the recipe a few times so you understand all that is required. You can make the buttercreams 2-3 days ahead and keep chilled; when it comes time to assemble you’ll have to let the buttercream come to room temperature and rewhip with the stand mixer. The meringue mushrooms and the sugared decorations can be made a couple days before. The assembled cake requires chilling so plan to assemble it the day before service, and assemble on the platter that you’ll be serving it on-I used a large square platter that I found with room on the sides for the pretty garnishes.

Merry Christmas!

Stump de Nöel 

recipe: Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, pages 144-145

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 pound bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 1/4 cup of hot water
  • 1 dozen large eggs, at room temperature, separated
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Malted Buttercream and Dark Chocolate Buttercream
  • Meringue mushrooms, candied cranberries and candied rosemary sprigs, for garnish (optional; see Note)

 

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter two 12-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheets and line them with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang on all of the short sides. Butter the paper and dust with flour.

Step 2

In a small bowl, whisk the 1 cup of flour with the cocoa and salt. In another small bowl, combine the chocolate and espresso. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, combine the egg yolks with 2/3 cup of the sugar. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Transfer the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk and beat at high speed until the yolks are pale and thick, about 5 minutes. Beat in the melted chocolate mixture along with the vanilla. Transfer to a large bowl.

Step 3

Thoroughly wash and dry the mixer bowl and the whisk. Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar on moderately high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 2/3 cup of sugar and continue beating at high speed until the whites are glossy, about 2 minutes longer. Whisk one-fourth of the egg whites into the cake batter, then fold in the remaining whites until no streaks remain.

Step 4

In a small bowl, whisk the melted butter with 1/2 cup of the batter; fold this mixture into the batter. Working in 2 batches, sift the cocoa powder mixture over the batter and gently fold it in. Divide the batter between the prepared pans, spreading it out to fill the pans. Bake for about 18 minutes, until the cake feels springy and dry; shift the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Transfer the pans to racks to cool completely. Run the tip of a knife around the edges, cover with parchment paper and a baking sheet and invert; peel off the parchment on top.

Step 5

Spread the Malted Buttercream over the cakes. Using a ruler, cut each cake precisely in half lengthwise, cutting through the paper; you should have four 6-by-17-inch strips of cake. Roll one strip into a tight coil, leaving the paper behind. Roll the 3 remaining cake strips around the coil in the same way to form a very wide, short jelly roll. Set the cake on a large plate, spiraled end up. Frost the outside of the cake with the Dark Chocolate Buttercream. Refrigerate until set, at least 8 hours. Decorate the cake with meringue mushrooms, cranberries and rosemary sprigs and serve, cutting the cake into wedges or horizontal slices.

FOR THE DARK CHOCOLATE AND MALTED BUTTERCREAMS

5 large egg whites, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 ounces good-quality dark chocolate (60-72%), melted and cooled

1/4 cup malt powder

12 malted milk balls candies, crushed

MAKE THE DARK CHOCOLATE AND MALTED BUTTERCREAMS

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, combine the egg whites and sugar. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are just warm to the touch. Return the bowl to the mixer and fit it with the whisk attachment. Add the vanilla and beat the egg whites at high speed until firm and glossy, about 5 minutes. With the machine running, whisk in the butter a few tablespoons at a time. If the mixture begins to look curdled, continue to beat until smooth before adding more butter.

Transfer 1 1/2 cups of the buttercream to a bowl and whisk in the melted chocolate. Cover the chocolate buttercream and refrigerate.

Dissolve the malt powder in 2 tablespoons hot water, then beat it into the buttercream remaining in the mixer. Beat in the crushed milk balls. Cover the malt buttercream and refrigerate.

Meringue Mushrooms

Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, pages 194-195

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

¾ cup sugar

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

1 ounce good-quality white chocolate, melted and cooled (I actually used semisweet)

2 ounces dark unsweetened cocoa powder, (like Valrhona) for sifting over assembled mushrooms

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.

Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in the heat proof bowl of a standing mixer. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (double boiler method). Cook, whisking constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture registers 140 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, 6 to 8 minutes.

Transfer the bowl to a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat it on high speed until stiff peaks form. Add the cream of tartar when the mixture begins to thicken, or after 3 minutes. Keep beating for another minute or so until stiff peaks hold.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip with the meringue. To make the caps, hold the pastry bag close to the parchment paper-lined pan and pipe out a small dome (about a tablespoon) of meringue, pulling up at the very end  of piping to give your cap some height.

To form mushrooms stems, hold the bag close to the parchment paper and pipe the meringue, pulling up as you go, into small cone shapes. Make the same number of stems as caps.

Place the pans in the oven and bake the meringue pieces for 90 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway thought the baking time. Turn off the oven, prop the door slightly open and leave the meringues in place for at least 2 hours longer, or overnight.

ASSEMBLE THE MERINGUE MUSHROOMS

Turn the caps over and use a toothpick to make a tiny hole large enough to fit the tip of the stem into. Fill the hole with a tiny bit of white chocolate (or semi sweet-which is what I used). Gently press the stem into place and allow the chocolate to set. Sift cocoa powder over the assembled mushrooms.

Sugared cranberries and sugared rosemary

¼ cup superfine sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cinnamon stick

¾ cup fresh cranberries

10 rosemary sprigs

Line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper. Place the superfine sugar in a small bowl.

In a medium saucepan, stir together 1 cup of water with the sugar, then add the cinnamon stick. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and pour into a heatproof, wide-mouthed bowl. Let the liquid cool for a few minutes, then remove the cinnamon stick.

Drop the cranberries in the syrup and stir to coat the cranberries completely. Remove the cranberries, a few at a time, with a slotted spoon (tap the spoon to release excess syrup) and drop them in the superfine sugar. Toss the cranberries in the sugar to coat completely, and place on the parchment paper to dry. Repeat the above procedure with the rosemary. Decorate the stump as you wish.


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.


Pumpkin Coffee Cake with Pecan and Pumpkin Seed Streusel

Pumpkin Coffee Cake with Pecan and Pumpkin Seed Crumble

Are you tired of pumpkin spice yet? Not me. I’ll find any reason to come up with a new coffee cake recipe. This time of year I always have a can or two of pumpkin puree for when the mood strikes.

The house smells amazing as this bakes, and the cake is divine. That’s all you need to know.

Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake with Pecan and Pumpkin Seed Streusel

Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake

Pecan & Pumpkin Seed Streusel:

1 Cup all purpose flour

1/2 Cup sugar

1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 Cup), cut into small pieces and kept cold

3/4 tsp.  cinnamon

1/8 tsp. ground ginger

1/8 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 Cup pecan pieces

1/4 Cup pumpkin seeds

In a bowl of a stand mixer place the flour, sugar, spices and salt. Stir to combine. Add the cold butter pieces and mix on low speed for about 5-6 minutes until mixture resembles coarse wet sand. Do not allow to form a dough. Mix in the pecan pieces by hand. Reserve the pumpkin seeds to sprinkle over later. Remove the streusel to a bowl and chill until ready to bake.

Cake:

1 Cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

1/8 tsp. ground mace

3/4 Cup unsalted butter, room temp

3/4 Cup sugar

2 Lg. eggs, room temp

1 tsp. vanilla

3/4 Cup pumpkin puree

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray a 9×9 square baking pan with baking spray.

In a small bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices and set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and mix until combined. Add in the vanilla and pumpkin and mix until combined; don’t overbeat-note mixture will appear curdled but don’t worry. Add in the flour mixture all at once and mix gently on low until combined. Don’t overbeat. Pour the batter into prepared cake pan and smooth out top.

Remove streusel from the fridge and sprinkle over cake batter evenly (it will seem like a lot but use it all). Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds over the top of the streusel and bake in preheated oven for about 35-40 minutes. Cover with foil for last several minutes if seeds appear too brown.

Note: I finished my cake by placing under the broiler on lowest rack for a couple minutes to brown the streusel a bit further.

Allow to cool over a wire rack and serve warm or at room temp.


Boozy Bourbon and Coke- Bundt Cake Bites

Bourbon and Coke Cake Bites

This is an ADULT dessert cake bite, so plan accordingly… The bourbon packs a punch and definitely is assertive, front and center. These are conveniently bite size and although they look dainty, they are meant to be popped into the mouth whole for one glorious bite. The perfect boozy bite of chocolaty goodness. This is NOT your wall flower kind of cake bite. There is no hiding in the corner. Bring these to your next Uker, Bunko or Poker party cause it’s about to get rowdy….you’ve been warned.

Bourbon Chocolate Cake Bites

Boozy Bourbon Cake Bites

(recipe adapted from Cake Simple by Christie Matheson)

yield: 5 Cups of batter- about 60 mini cake bites

1/2 Cup unsalted butter, room temp

1/2 Cup (packed) light brown sugar

1/2 Cup + 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

1 large egg + 1 egg yolk

3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted & cooled

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

2 Tbsp. natural (not dutch- processed) cocoa powder (such as Hershey’s)

6 Tbsp. (90 ml) boiling water

1/2 Cup bourbon (preferably 100 proof-I used Knob Creek brand)

1 Cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1. Preheat oven to 325° F. Spray two mini bundt bite (tea cake size pans) generously with nonstick (baking with flour spray) and set aside. You can also use a small bundtlette size pan; both work well as I have tested the recipe in both. Conversely you can double the recipe and bake in a 10 Cup size large Bundt pan.

2. In a small bowl place the cocoa powder and pour the boiling water over and mix with a spatula to dissolve cocoa. Add the bourbon and stir to combine; set aside to cool to room temp. In another small bowl:  whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.

3. Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and egg yolk and beat until combined. Hand stir in the vanilla and melted chocolate until combined. (You want to avoid overbeating batter in order to keep it moist). With the mixer on low add the flour mixture (in three increments) alternately with the cocoa/bourbon mixture (in two increments) beginning and ending with the flour mixture until just combined (avoid overbeating). Note: the cocoa/ bourbon mixture will seem like too much- but trust me it will mix in.

4. Pour the batter into the wells of the tea cake pans filling them 3/4 full. Note: I find it easier to put the batter into a pastry bag with a round tip and fill the wells this way- you have better control.

5. Bake in a preheated oven for 10 minutes. For the larger bundt (but still mini) bundts I baked them for 18 minutes. If confused: this particular size Bundt wells hold 6 Tbsp. of batter.

6. Allow cakes to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn pans over to remove and allow to cool over a wire rack. Drizzle tops of cakes with Bourbon and Coke Chocolate Glaze. Store in an airtight container. Note; because of their size they tend to dry out quickly- they are best served the day they are made.

Bourbon & Coke Chocolate Glaze

recipe from Southern Living

1/4 Cup unsalted butter

3-4 1/2 Tbsp. Coke soft drink

2 1/2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

2 Cups + 2 Tbsp. Confectioners sugar, sifted

1 Tbsp. bourbon (preferably 100 proof-I used Knob Creek)

In a small sauce pan over low heat melt butter. Add in the cocoa powder and 3 Tbsp. of the coke, and whisk to combine, cooking for 1-2 minutes over low heat. Remove from heat and add in the bourbon. Add the sifted confectioners sugar a little at a time and whisk until smooth. If too thick add a little more coke a teaspoon at a time until desired consistency.