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.
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
1/2 Cup cold water
4 1/2 tsp. unflavored gelatin
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…
3/4 Cup granulated sugar
1/4 Cup water
1/4 Cup light corn syrup
2 pinches of salt
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)
wooden skewer sprayed with non stick spray
small offset spatula sprayed with non stick spray or lightly buttered
- 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.
Do you love rose flavored treats? I do. What better way to celebrate Valentines day than having a rose flavored treat. I was so inspired I even treated myself and picked up some pretty pink roses. I just love sneaking in a little rose water with different desserts when possible. Try it in blueberry pie sometime, or a blackberry dessert. You have to be careful though because too much and it can taste “soapy”. The key is to start with a little amount and add accordingly with several tastings. The flavor should be subtle and not overpowering. I was lazy when I made these and didn’t sift my almond flour so they didn’t turn out as smooth as I like, but I have to admit I’ve been feeling a little punky lately since overcoming the flu. I’m still trying to recover fully with getting my energy back, so I skipped that step. I does make a difference. Rose water can be a bit pricey, so if you can try to locate an international market or an Indian market for the best price! Try filling a mini spray bottle with distilled water and adding in some rose water for a quick spritz at work when you’re feeling draggy at the end of the day. It’s super refreshing!
75 g egg whites, room temp
pinch of cream of tartar
50 g superfine granulated sugar
90 g almond flour
135 g confectioners sugar
pink gel food color (2-3 drops) (I used half electric pink and deep pink)
1. In a food processor pulse the almond meal, and confectioners sugar, stopping to push contents down into the bowl and process until fine. Sift contents into a bowl and discard any hard lumps. In the bowl of a stand mixer place the egg whites, cream of tartar, and superfine granulated sugar, and hand whisk until foamy. Fit a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and mix on low speed (Kitchen aide stop 4) for 2 minutes, then medium speed (stop 6) for 2 minutes, then on high speed (stop 8) for 2 minutes, add the gel color then increase to highest speed (stop-i 10) until whites are stiff. Hint: if you remove the bowl and turn it upside down and the whites do not slide out they are ready! (Just be careful when checking!)
2. Gradually add the almond flour mixture to the meringue and mix/fold with a rubber spatula until mixture when lifted is able to form a figure 8 ribbon. About every 5th fold lift the spatula up and let the batter fall gently back into the bowl. Once you can form a figure 8 ribbon without the mixture breaking, the mixture is ready. You want the batter to fall down in ribbons-if it falls off in “plops” then it’s not ready, continue folding. Prepare the piping bag with a round tip. Fill gently with the mac batter.
3. Prepare a sheet pan with either Silpat or parchment paper and preheat the oven to 325° F. Pipe the macarons onto the prepared sheet pan about a quarter size with 1 1/2 inches space between. Note; if after piping there are visible peaks then the batter is too thick and could cause problems such as cracking or not rising correctly. Squeeze out all the batter back into the bowl (with firm pressure) and refill the batter back into the piping bag and re pipe. Usually the act of doing this will thin the batter enough (without having to mix more) to get a more ideal thickness. Once you have piped the batter take the sheet pan and rap it on the counter a few times (3-6) to release any air bubbles. If you still see any visible air bubbles pop them gently with a bamboo skewer or toothpick. Allow the sheet pan to sit for 30-60 minute to form a “skin” so when touched the batter is no longer tacky feeling.
4. Bake the macs with rack in middle position for about 15-17 minutes or until when touching the top of a macaron, the top does not wiggle or slide but is firmly set. If they look like they are getting too browned then cover with tinfoil for the last few minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Do not attempt to remove until they are completely cool. Once cooled fill as described below with the rose buttercream.
Rose Buttercream Filling
3 large egg whites, room temp
3/4 Cup granulated sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4-1 tsp. Rose water (make sure it’s water and NOT extract)
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. Add in 1/2 tsp. at a time of rose water and beat till smooth (all rose waters run a little different, so taste test to your liking). I used 3/4 tsp. of rose water Nielsen Massey brand.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.