Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Monday, October 6, 2008

My 1st (successful) Fondant Covered Cake

Last weekend a co-worker, who I like a lot, got married on the sly. She went on vacation for a week then came in on Monday morning with the 'glow' and announced she was a married women. It was very 'no frills', just the way she wanted it.

While at my desk, she jokingly said she didn't have a wedding cake and peeked at me. I asked her what type of cake would she haven't wanted and she said "a chocolate cake with a not so sweet icing". Hmmmmm. Instantly my mind started a working. Now, I know she was joking but shoot she gave me a reason to bake!

I decided to make chocolate cake with vanilla SMBC and cover it in white fondant with a red ribbon border. I wanted to make some gum paste flowers.....and I did...but I didn't like them enough to put on the cake. I found this video and have the technique down, I just need the correct tools. Since the flower idea wasn't working I decided to make a little bow on the top of it.

I am VERY happy and proud of my cake. This is my second time working with fondant and loved the results. The first time wasn't bad I just didn't like how it turned out. I didn't put a good base of icing under the cake so it was a bit bumpy.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Lavish 3 ways

It's that time of the month.

NO! Not THAT time but time for the the Daring Baker's challenge. This month's challenge was the group first vegan challenge. We were to make Lavish Crackers. We also make a vegan dip. I was a little apprehensive at first but quickly got over it. I had ideas for day but none stuck out, then I straight forgot that today was challenge post day and had to whip up some lavish real quick. Thanks to our hosts Natalie and Shel for one of the best challenges since I've been a member of Daring Bakers.

I made Tomato Basil Garlic Lavish with Sun-dried Tomato hummus

Cinnamon Sugar Lavish with Mexican Chocolate Dip

And since I had some dough left over I made some non-vegan crackers...

3-Cheese Lavish


END VERDICT - 5 stars

These cracker were GRREEAT! My mom and daughter ate the cinnamon sugar lavish before they got ANTM on so I had to make another batch so I could take their picture. I will definitely make these again! Check out all the other daring baker here.

Until next time,

Happy Smacking!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Strawberry Eclairs

So it's about that time when the Daring Bakers showcase that one special recipe. This month's hosts, Tony Tahhan and MeetaK, picked Chocolate Eclairs from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme by Dorie Greenspan.

I was excited because I have never had a real e'clair. The closest thing I have had to an e'clair was a Boston Cream donut (cream filled, chocolate topped baked good).

The rules for this was that the dought for the ecliars must be the pate a choux recipe given and that either the chocolate glaze recipe or the chocolate pastry cream recipe had to be used. I choose to use the chocolate glaze recipe and I filled my eclairs with strawberry pastry cream and vanilla pastry cream.

Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate Éclairs
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

Cream Puff Dough
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)
½ cup (125g) whole milk
½ cup (125g) water
1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
¼ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
5 large eggs, at room temperature

1. In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to a boil.
2. Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very quickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to. You need to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough will be very soft and smooth.
3. Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your hand mixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time,beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough. You will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again do not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time you have added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.
4. The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs as directed below.

1. Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.
2. You can pipe the dough and the freeze it. Simply pipe the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets and slide the sheets into the freezer. Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer the piped shapes into freezer bags. They can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.

Cream Puff Dough (see above for recipe), fresh and still warm

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Divide the oven into thirds by positioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2/3 (2cm) plain tip nozzle with the warm cream puff dough.Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in long, 4 to 4 1/2 inches (about 11 cm) chubby fingers. Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff. The dough should give you enough to pipe 20-24 éclairs.
3. Slide both the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes, slip the handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar. When the éclairs have been in the oven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continue baking for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total baking time should be approximately 20 minutes.

The éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.

Vanilla Pastry Cream
from Williams Sonoma Cakes
1 1/2 cups milk (12 fl oz/375 ml)
1/2 cup sugar (4 oz/125 g)
4 large egg yolks
2 tsp pure vanilla extract (or vanilla paste)
2 tbsp cornstarch

2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature

1. In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan over medium heat, warm the milk until tiny bubbles form alone the pan edges. Remove from heat
2. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until blended. Add the cornstarch whisk until blended.
3. Slowly pour the hot milk into the yolk mixture while whisking constantly.
4. Return the mixture to the saucepan, over medium heat, and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens and just comes to a boil, 2-3 minutes.
5. Pour mixture through a fine-mesh sieve placed over a bowl. Add the butter and vanilla and stir slowly until the butter melts.
6. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface, poke a few holes in the plastic with a toothpick and refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours.

Chocolate Glaze Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1 cup or 300g)
1/3 cup (80g) heavy cream
3½ oz (100g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 tsp (20 g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
7 tbsp (110 g) Chocolate Sauce (recipe below), warm or at room temperature

1. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly begin to add the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula.
2. Stirring gently, stir in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce.

1. If the chocolate glaze is too cool (i.e. not liquid enough) you may heat it briefly
 in the microwave or over a double boiler. A double boiler is basically a bowl sitting over (not touching) simmering water.
2. It is best to glaze the eclairs after the glaze is made, but if you are pressed for time, you can make the glaze a couple days ahead of time, store it in the fridge and bring it up to the proper temperature (95 to 104 F) when ready to glaze.

Chocolate Sauce
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1½ cups or 525 g)
4½ oz (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup (250 g) water
½ cup (125 g) crème fraîche, or heavy cream
1/3 cup (70 g) sugar
1) Place all the ingredients into a heavy‐bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure to stir constantly. Then reduce the heat to low and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens.
2) It may take 10‐15 minutes for the sauce to thicken, but you will know when it is done when it coats the back of your spoon.

1) You can make this sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for two weeks. Reheat the sauce in a microwave oven or a double boiler before using.
2) This sauce is also great for cakes, ice-cream and tarts.

Assembling the éclairs:

Chocolate glaze (see above for recipe)

Vanilla pastry cream (see above for recipe)

1. Slice the éclairs horizontally, using a serrated knife and a gently sawing motion. Set aside the bottoms and place the tops on a rack over a piece of parchment paper.
2. The glaze should be barely warm to the touch (between 95 – 104 degrees F or 35 – 40 degrees C, as measured on an instant read thermometer). Spread the glaze over the tops of the éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime fill the bottoms with the pastry cream.
3. Pipe or spoon the pastry cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottoms with enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the pastry cream and wriggle gently to settle them.

1. If you have chilled your chocolate glaze, reheat by placing it in a bowl over simmering water,stirring it gently with a wooden spoon. Do not stir too vigorously as you do not want to create bubbles.
2. The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled.

END VERDICT - 3 3/4 Stars

Completely assembled these eclairs are yummy in the tummy. I found the cream puff dough to be a bit eggy by itself. I also was not satisfied with the strawberry pastry cream recipe I used so I didn't include it. It called for flour and I find that the pastry cream came together before the flour was cooked off leaving a nasty aftertaste. The vanilla pastry cream very yummy. So yummy that any leftovers was eaten like pudding.

Until next time,

Happy Smacking!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Blueberry-Lemon Muffins

It been awhile.

*checks comment section*


Doesn't seem as though anyone noticed.


I pulled out my Weight Watchers cookbook looking for a more healthy yummy recipe. I have the 2006 Annual Recipe book and on the front cover is some yummy looking muffins. I have made these muffins before. Back when I as beginner baker and they came out more like cupcakes because I add more milk to the batter because it didn't "look right". Now I know that a muffin batter is much thicker than a cupcake batter.

This time they came out perfect and Yum-May. This recipe is so quick and easy that I gave my standing mixer a much needed break.

Blueberry-Lemon Muffins
recipe from Weight Watchers Annual Recipes for Success 2006
(makes 12) I got 10

2 cups all-purpose flour
⅔ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 tbsp grated lemon rind, divided
¾ cup low-fat buttermilk
3 tbsp butter, melted
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice, divided
1 large egg, lightly beaten
½ cup powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda into a medium bowl and whisk well.
3. Add blueberries and 2 teaspoons of lemon rind and toss gently. Make a well in the center of the mixture.
4. Combine buttermilk, butter, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and the egg into a bowl. Whisk well.
5. Add buttermilk mixture into the well in the flour mixture.
6. Stir mixture thoroughly in no more that 13 turns of the bowl. (Alton says so)
7. Scoop batter into muffin tins. I used cupcake papers but you can put the batter directly into the muffin tins if you spray it with cooking spray before scooping in the batter.
8. Bake muffins for 17 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Remove muffins from the pan immediately and cool on a wire rack.
9. Combine powdered sugar, remaining 1 teaspoon lemon rind and remaining 2 teaspoons of lemon juice in a small bowl. Stir until smooth. Drizzle on muffins.

Cooled and topped with lemon glaze. YUM.

End Verdict - 5 stars
These are very good. I ate one for breakfast with a glass of reduced fat milk and was satisfied. Mine came out bigger than the recipe calls for (I got 10 instead of 12) but they were still smaller (and better) than any muffin you can get at Dunkin Donuts. Saving calories and fat with better taste?! Who wouldn't want that?
4 points (mine are probably worth 5 points)
Until next time,
Happy Smacking!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cookies

It was kinda of a lazy weekend. I had a hankering for a chocolate chip ice cream sandwich. When I get that feeling.....I need caught up in a moment. Anyhoo, I decided to make my own. I do not own a ice cream I went to supermarket and picked up some good ole


Vanilla Chocolate Chip to be exact.

I used a different chocolate cookie recipe then usual. I got this recipe from

Chocolate Chip Cookies
from BlogChef
makes about 40 cookies


2 ¼ cups of all purpose flour
¾ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter (softened)
¼ cup of sugar
1 package instant vanilla pudding
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs (beaten)
2 cups chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a bowl sift flour and baking soda together.
3. In mixer bowl beat sugar, brown sugar, butter, pudding mix, vanilla extract. Mix until combined.
4. Add in the eggs and mix well.
5. Beat the flour mixture into the sugar mixture and stir in chocolate chips.
6. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. I use a small ice cream scooper.
7. Bake for 10-13 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Ready to be baked

Baked cookies. Let cool to room temperture and place cookies in the freezer.

Take a small scoop of slightly defrosted ice cream and place in the center of your cookie.

Enjoy! Also enjoy my nail color of the week.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Butterscotch Crumpcakes

Over the holiday weekend I went on a baking frenzy! I made a sweet potato danish braid, chocolate cookies, lemon curd and cupcakes! The cupcakes were a special request from my brother as a belated birthday present. Since I didn't give him anything but a hug and a "Happy Birthday" I obliged. He is not a fan of icing of any kind so he asked for plain vanilla cupcakes. I have made Chockylit's recipe and while I liked them, my taste tester found them extremely sweet. My go to vanilla cupcake recipe comes from Williams-Sonoma Cakes book.

While getting the ingredient together to make the cupcakes I just couldn't help thinking about what could go on top of them. I know my brother loves Tastykake Krumpets so I decided to translate them into a cupcake.

Vanilla Cupcakes
Adapted from Butter Cake recipe in Williams Sonoma Cakes book
makes 12 - 14 cupcakes

1 1/4 cups plus 2 tbsp cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
seeds from 1/2 of vanilla pod
1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 350. Place cupcake papers into pans.
2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.
3. Place the butter and sugar in your bowl and cream ingredients until light and airy, about 2 minutes.
4. Add eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly before adding the next. Stop the mixer and scrap down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add vanilla extract and vanilla bean seeds.
5. Add one-third of the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. Next add one-half of the milk and mix until incorporated. Continue adding the ingredients in the same order, ending with the last third of the dry ingredients
4. Scoop batter 2/3 full into cupcake cups and bake for 15-20 minutes or until tester comes out clean and the cupcakes are golden brown.

Butterscotch Icing
from CDKitchen
makes 3 cups

1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons milk
2 cups powdered sugar

1. Melt butter in saucepan. Add brown sugar; bring to a boil over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

2. Stir in milk; bring to boil, stirring constantly. Pour mixture into standing mixer bowl and cool to lukewarm.
3. Gradually add powdered sugar until you get the desired consistency. Beat until thick enough to spread.

I dipped the tops of the cupcakes into the butterscotch icing and let them set for 15 minutes. Make sure the cupcakes are room temperature when you dip them or the icing will melt.

END VERDICT - 4 1/2 Stars

These cupcakes are FREAKING awesome. I think they taste as close to a Krumpet as possible. This is how good they are: My brother picked up his gift (8 cupcakes...My Stinkie and I had a couple and he ate a couple before leaving the house) Sunday night 9:00. By Monday noon I received a phone call from my mother telling me how greedy my brother is BECAUSE THEY WERE GONE. Tell you alot huh?

Until next time,

Happy Smacking!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Daring Baker Challenge - Danish Braid

This month's challenge was making a danish braid. I was very excited to make it because I have never worked with yeast before. I'm sorry for the short post put I was up until 2am proofing the dough because I waited until the last minute to make the danish braid. Now for the recipe and pictures.

Danish Braid
Makes 2/12 pounds of dough

For the dough (Detrempe)

1 ounce fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated (I omitted)
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (I omitted)
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 large eggs, chilled
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

Dough Directions

1. Combine yeast and milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed.
2. Slowly add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice. Mix well.
3. Change to the dough hook and add the salt with the flour, 1 cup at a time, increasing speed to medium as the flour is incorporated.
4. Place dough on floured surface and knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth. You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky.
5. Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Without a standing mixer: Combine yeast and milk in a bowl with a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk. Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice and mix well. Sift flour and salt on your working surface and make a fountain. Make sure that the “walls” of your fountain are thick and even. Pour the liquid in the middle of the fountain. With your fingertips, mix the liquid and the flour starting from the middle of the fountain, slowly working towards the edges. When the ingredients have been incorporated start kneading the dough with the heel of your hands until it becomes smooth and easy to work with, around 5 to 7 minutes. You might need to add more flour if the dough is sticky.

For the butter block (Beurrage)

1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Butter Block Directions

1. Combine butter and flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle and then beat for 1 minute more, or until smooth and lump free. Set aside at room temperature.

1. After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.
2. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick. The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour. Spread the butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough.
3. Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter.
4. Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third.
5. The first turn has now been completed. Mark the dough by poking it with your finger to keep track of your turns, or use a sticky and keep a tally. Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
6. Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface. The open ends should be to your right and left. Roll the dough into another approximately 13 x 18 inch, ¼-inch-thick rectangle.
7. Again, fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third. No additional butter will be added as it is already in the dough. The second turn has now been completed. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
8. Roll out, turn, and refrigerate the dough two more times, for a total of four single turns. Make sure you are keeping track of your turns. 9. Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight.

The Danish dough is now ready to be used. If you will not be using the dough within 24 hours, freeze it. To do this, roll the dough out to about 1 inch in thickness, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze. Defrost the dough slowly in the refrigerator for easiest handling. Danish dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Cream Cheese Filling

3 8oz packages cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean

1. Place the cream cheese and sugar in a food processor and blend until smooth.
2. Add the vanilla, egg and vanilla bean seeds and blend until completely incorporated.

Sweet Potato Filling

2 medium sweet potatoes
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup milk
4 1/4 tbsp sugar

1. Individually wrap the sweet potatoes in aluminum foil and bake at 375 for 40 to 45 minutes.
2. Remove potatoes from oven and let cool for 15 minutes or until they are cool enough to handle.
3. Remove the pulp from the potatoes and smash slightly.
4. Add the cinnamon, milk and sugar.
5. Blend until smooth.

Dough kneaded and ready to go into the refrigerator

Butter Block Process

Filled with cream cheese filling

Ready for last proof

Cooked and ready to be devoured.

Sorry for the sucky pics. Here are the sweet potato filled danishes

Topped with a simple cinnamon glaze and chopped walnuts. Freaky Yum!!!

END VERDICT - 4 1/2 stars

The danish dough is soooooo yummy. The cream cheese filling was little more runny than I wanted but it was still extremely delicious. I haven't tried the danishes with the sweet potato filling yet. I will post a pic and tell you how it tastes later tonight.
The sweet potato filled ones are off the chains!!! Do people still say that?

Until next time,

Happy Smacking

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

My father requested a cake for father's day. A chocolate cake with white (that's what he said) icing. The chocolate cupcake recipe I use is from Chockylit. I have tried to make it into a cake and it didn't turn out that well so I had to find another recipe. I took to my fellow daring bakers and Amn8rchick suggested this recipe. I used it with some changes and it turned out yummy.

Chocolate Cake
makes two 9 inch cake and 12 cupcakes

2 cups hot water
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp instant coffee granules
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 1/4 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Pour 2 cup of milk in a saucepan and place over medium heat. Do not bring to a boil, just bring it until you see small bubbles around the outside of the pan.
3. Grease two 9 inch round cake pans.
4. In medium bowl, pour hot milk over cocoa and coffee granules, and whisk until smooth. Let mixture cool.
5. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.
6. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
7. Beat in eggs one at time, then stir in vanilla.
8. Add the flour mixture alternately with the cocoa mixture.
9. Spread batter evenly between the 2 prepared pans. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Allow to cool.

I know my lettering can be better but I'm working on it! The dots are made out of candy melt.

Vanilla Buttercream

6 large egg whites
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperture
1 tbsp vanilla extract
seeds from 1 vanilla bean

1. In the heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine egg whites and sugar. Cook, whisking constantly, until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch (about 160 degrees).
2. Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg-white mixture on high speed until it holds stiff (but not dry) peaks. Continue beating until the mixture is fluffy and cooled, about 7 minutes.
3. Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low speed, add butter one tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. (If frosting appears to separate after all the butter has been added, beat on medium-high speed until smooth again, 2 to 4 minutes more.)
4. Beat in vanilla and vanilla seeds. Beat on lowest speed to eliminate any air bubbles, about 2 minutes.

END VERDICT - 4 and 1/2 stars

While I didn't have any of the cake, I did cupcakes. The cupcakes are yummy and have a good chocolate flavor. I just wish they were a little sweeter. The next time I make these I will probably add an extra 1/4 cup of sugar.

Until next time,

Happy Smacking!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

I bake more than I post!

I really do.

I actually bake each weekend, execpt of late....It has been hotter than a mug in Philly. I am going to post some pics of my yummy treats. Hopefully I will get to posting the recipes sometime soon.

Vanilla cupcakes with chocolate, chocolate-vanilla swirl and vanilla buttercream

Vanilla Cupcakes with Sunflower design from Hello, Cupcake!

Apple Cake from Williams-Sonoma Cake

Until next time,

Happy Smacking!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

May's Daring Bakers Challenge - Opera Cake

I am sooooooo sorry for posting this late. I made the cake about two weeks ago!

This month challenge was OPERA CAKE. It is a multi layer almond cake that is usually flavored with the flavors chocolate and coffee in the form of buttercream, mousse and syrup. Our hosts Lis, Ivonne, Fran & Shea changed the flavors to something more light in honor of the spring season. We were allowed to use any flavors we wanted as long as they stayed within that light flavor, light color category. That means NO dark chocolate or coffee. I chose to make two cakes. One flavor combination was Honey Apricot and the other flavor combination was Blueberry Lemon. I will give you the recipe for the Honey Apricot Opera Cake. I will note where to change flavors to make the Blueberry Lemon Opera Cake. I will not include the recipe of the mousse I made. I will explain in the verdict section.
Honey Apricot Opera Cake
Yields about 20 servings
For the Joconde
(Note: The joconde can be made up to 1 day in advance and kept wrapped at room temperate)
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 tbsp. (30 grams) granulated sugar
2 cups (225 grams) ground blanched almonds (Note: If you do not want to use almond meal, you can use another nut meal like hazelnut. You can buy almond meal in bulk food stores or health food stores, or you can make it at home by grinding almonds in the food processor with a tablespoon or two of the flour that you would use in the cake. The reason you need the flour is to prevent the almonds from turning oily or pasty in the processor. You will need about 2 cups of blanched almonds to create enough almond meal for this cake.)
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
6 large eggs
½ cup (70 grams) all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. (1½ ounces; 45 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1.Divide the oven into thirds by positioning a rack in the upper third of the oven and the lower third of the oven.
2. Preheat the oven to 425◦F. (220◦C).
3. Line two 12½ x 15½- inch (31 x 39-cm) jelly-roll pans with parchment paper and brush with melted butter.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a handheld mixer), beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy. If you do not have another mixer bowl, gently scrape the meringue into another bowl and set aside.
5. If you only have one bowl, wash it after removing the egg whites or if you have a second bowl, use that one. Attach the paddle attachment to the stand mixer (or using a handheld mixer again) and beat the almonds, icing sugar and eggs on medium speed until light and voluminous, about 3 minutes.
6. Add the flour and beat on low speed until the flour is just combined (be very careful not to over mix here!!!).
7. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the meringue into the almond mixture and then fold in the melted butter. Divide the batter between the pans and spread it evenly to cover the entire surface of each pan.
8. Bake the cake layers until they are lightly browned and just springy to the touch. This could take anywhere from 5 to 9 minutes depending on your oven. Place one jelly-roll pan in the middle of the oven and the second jelly-roll pan in the bottom third of the oven.
9. Put the pans on a heatproof counter and run a sharp knife along the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Cover each with a sheet of parchment or wax paper, turn the pans over, and unmold.
10. Carefully peel away the parchment, then turn the parchment over and use it to cover the cakes. Let the cakes cool to room temperature.
For the syrup
(Note: The syrup can be made up to 1 week in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator.)
½ cup (125 grams) water
⅓ cup (65 grams) granulated sugar
1 to 2 tbsp. apricot jam (1 to 2 tbsp. blueberry juice)
1. Stir all the syrup ingredients together in the saucepan and bring to a boil.
2. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
For the Honey buttercream
(Note: The buttercream can be made up to 1 month in advance and packed in an airtight container. If made way in advance, you can freeze the buttercream. Alternatively you can refrigerate it for up to 4 days after making it. To use the buttercream simply bring it to room temperature and then beat it briefly to restore its consistency.)
1 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
¼ cup (60 grams) water
seeds of one vanilla bean or 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1¾ sticks (7 ounces; 200 grams)
unsalted butter, at room temperature
1-2 tbsp honey (1 to 2 tbsp of lemon juice)
1. Combine the sugar, water and vanilla bean seeds or extract in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves.
2. Continue to cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 225◦F (107◦C) [*Note: Original recipe indicates a temperature of 255◦F (124◦C), however, when testing the recipe I found that this was too high so we heated to 225◦F and it worked fine] on a candy or instant-read thermometer. Once it reaches that temperature, remove the syrup from the heat.
3. While the syrup is heating, begin whisking the egg and egg yolk at high speed in the bowl of your mixer using the whisk attachment. Whisk them until they are pale and foamy.
4.When the sugar syrup reaches the correct temperature and you remove it from the heat, reduce the mixer speed to low speed and begin slowly (very slowly) pouring the syrup down the side of the bowl being very careful not to splatter the syrup into the path of the whisk attachment. Some of the syrup will spin onto the sides of the bowl but don’t worry about this and don’t try to stir it into the mixture as it will harden!
5. Raise the speed to medium-high and continue beating until the eggs are thick and satiny and the mixture is cool to the touch (about 5 minutes or so).
6. While the egg mixture is beating, place the softened butter in a bowl and mash it with a spatula until you have a soft creamy mass.
7. With the mixer on medium speed, begin adding in two-tablespoon chunks. When all the butter has been incorporated, raise the mixer speed to high and beat until the buttercream is thick and shiny.
8. At this point add in your honey and beat for an additional minute or so.
9. Refrigerate the buttercream, stirring it often, until it’s set enough (firm enough) to spread when topped with a layer of cake (about 20 minutes).

Assembling the Opéra Cake
(Note: The finished cake should be served slightly chilled. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 day)
Line your serving platter with parchment or wax paper.
Working with one sheet of cake at a time, cut and trim each sheet so that you have two pieces (from each cake so you’ll have four pieces in total): one 10-inch (25-cm) square and one 10 x 5-inch (25 x 12½-cm) rectangle.
Place one square of cake on the baking sheet and moisten it gently with the flavoured syrup.
Spread 1/3 of the buttercream over this layer.
Top with another piece of cake. Moisten these pieces with the flavoured syrup.
Spread 1/3 of the buttercream over this layer.
Place the last piece of cake top and moisten it with syrup.
Spread the remaining buttercream on top of the final layer of joconde and then refrigerate until very firm (at least half an hour).
Serve the cake slightly chilled.
END VERDICT - 3 stars
This cake gets only 3 stars as an assembled cake. Separately this components yield a 4 1/2 stars. I did not like the flavors together. I had to make the almond meal because I could not find it. I was able to grind the blanched almonds into a pretty fine meal but the cake still had a nice bite to it. The cake was awesome but it definitely needed the strong flavors of the coffee and chocolate it is usually made with.
The mousse recipe I used consist of putting gelatin in a fruit base then mixing it with light billowy whipped cream. After putting it into the refrigerator it turned into whipped cream with fruity rocks floating in it. BUT I didn't notice it until I spread the blueberry mousse on my cake, completely ruining it. I will test out a few mousse recipes then post the best one.
Until next time
Happy Smacking!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Blueberry Turnovers

I recently borrowed Williams-Sonoma Collection: Desserts from the library. There a lot of good recipes in this book. I have bookmarked 6 recipes and when I make them I will post about them.

First up is Blueberry Turnovers.

Blueberry Turnovers
makes 8 turnovers

1/1/4 cups (5oz/155g) blueberries
2 tbsp firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp finely grated lemon zest
pinch of salt
1 large egg, room temperature
2 tsp water

Double recipe Basic Pastry Dough, divided into 2 equal disks and chilled


2 tbsp sliced almonds (optional)
2 tsp granulated sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Line the bottom of a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl toss the blueberries with the brown sugar, flour lemon juice, vanilla, zest, and salt, crushing the berries slightly with the back of a spoon, until the dry ingredients are evenly moist. Set the mixture aside.

In a small bowl, using a fork, make an egg wash by stirring together the egg and water until well blended. Set aside.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one dough disk into a 10½-inch (27-cm) square about ⅛ inch (3 mm) thick. Use a dough scraper or an icing spatula to loosen the pastry if it sticks. Trim away the ragged edges, removing about ¼ inch (6 mm) from each side. Repeat with the second disk. Cut each square into four 5-inch (13-cm) squares.

Spoon some of the blueberry filling onto the center of each square, dividing the filling evenly. Lightly brush the edges of the squares with some of the egg wash, then fold the dough over the filling to form triangles. Crimp the edges with tines of a fork to seal. Place on the prepared baking sheet about 1½ inches (4 cm) apart. Brush the turnovers with the remaining egg wash and sprinkle evenly with the almonds and granulated sugar, if desired. Cut 2 or 3 small slits in the top of each turnover to vent.

Bake the turnover until, golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Dough rolled, filled and ready for baking.

Baked, cooled and ready for grubbing!

END VERDICT - 4 stars

I thought these little things were yummy. I halved this recipe and made 4 turnovers. I will need to give that pastry dough another run before I give a definitive answer. I think I added too much water but it was still good. I would recommend you use fresh blueberry instead of frozen.

Until next time,
Happy Smacking!

Basic Pastry Dough

Basic Pastry Dough
from Williams-Sonoma Desserts Book

1¼ cups (5¾ oz/175 g) all-purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
½ tsp salt
¼ cup (2oz/60 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into ¾-inch (2-cm) pieces
3 tbsp cold vegetable shortening cut into ¾ (2 cm) pieces
3 tbsp very cold water

To make the dough in a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl. Pulse to blend. Add the pieces of butter and shortening and pulse until reduced to ½ (12-mm) pieces. Add the water a little at a time and pulse until the dough just begins to come together in a rough mass.

Remove the dough to a work surface and shape into a 5-inch (13-cm) disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours. Makes enough dough for 1 single-crust pie, tart, or galette.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Lemon Cupcakes with Blueberry Buttercream

I have to admit. I am a little bit of a cupcake snob. I don't like cakes or cupcakes made out of cake mix. I'm saying I won't eat them (haha) but I won't make them.

I was cruising Cassie's baking blog when I came across a post regarding Sprinkles Cupcakes. I know I heard of these cupcakes before. I know Martha Stewart had them on her show recently but I think I remember seeing their cake mix somewhere. Suddenly I remembered. I saw it while going through a Williams-Sonoma catalog. I decided to get off my high horse and stop by my local Williams-Sonoma and pick up a canister of Sprinkles Cupcake Mix. I didn't take pictures because I wasn't going to blog about it but I thought since I made cake box cupcakes the least I could do was make some homemade frosting, and it was sooooo good I felt the need to post it.

Blueberry Buttercream
adapted from Martha's Strawberry Buttercream
Makes 2 cups

3 large egg whites
½ cups sugar
1 cup (2 sticks)unsalted butter, room temperature
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
3 tbsp blueberry jam

1. In the heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine egg whites and sugar. Cook, whisking constantly, until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch (about 160 degrees).
2. Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg-white mixture on high speed until it holds stiff (but not dry) peaks. Continue beating until the mixture is fluffy and cooled, about 4 minutes.
3. Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low speed, add butter one tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. (If frosting appears to separate after all the butter has been added, beat on medium-high speed until smooth again, 2 to 4 minutes more.)
4. Beat in vanilla. Beat on lowest speed to eliminate any air bubbles, about 2 minutes.
5. Stir in blueberry jam with a rubber spatula until frosting is smooth.

END VERDICT - 4 stars

The frosting makes up for the dryness in the cupcake. For ding dong $14 you would think the cupcakes could taste better but I could have baked some lemon cupcakes from scratch that could have tasted better. On the real the frosting made the cupcake. Without it, those cupcakes would have gotten 3 stars. I say, save your money and make your own cupcakes or go ahead and buy some Betty.

Until next time,

Happy Smacking!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Daring Baker Challenge - Cheesecake Pops

Last month I joined The Daring Bakers. This is a group of awesome people who love to bake. This month we were asked to bake Cheesecake Pops. They are bites of cheesecake, stuck on lollipop sticks, then dipped chocolate. Freaking YUM! They were a big hit at work and a even bigger hit with my tummy!

Cheesecake Pops
Adapted from
Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey
Makes 30 – 40 Pops

5 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature
2 cups sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ cup heavy cream
Boiling water as needed
Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks
1 pound chocolate, finely chopped – you can use all one kind or half and half of dark, milk, or white (Alternately, you can use 1 pound of flavored coatings, also known as summer coating, confectionery coating or wafer chocolate – candy supply stores carry colors, as well as the three kinds of chocolate.)
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening(Note: White chocolate is harder to use this way, but not impossible)
Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees) - Optional

1. Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 °F.
2. Set some water to boil.
3. In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.
4. Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a spring form pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes. (It actually takes more like 1 hour to bake. Just make sure you bake until the cake is firm)
5. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.
6. When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 – 2 hours.
7. When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose it’s shine after it has dried. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety. (Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.)
8. Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.) Place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionery chocolate pieces) as needed.Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.

The yummy yummy batter

Batter in oven bath ready to go in oven

Cooling cake.....yes I HAD to taste it before it completely cooled. Freaking knee weakening good

Scooping process

It is a good idea to have a some hot water near by to rinse the spoon between scoops

Ready for the freezer

I dipped a few balls in strawberry jam but that didn't turn out good. Once it was placed in the freezer the jam stuck to the parchment paper. Oh well.

Chocolate dipping process

END VERDICT - 5 stars

The cheescake was extremely smooth and creamy and the chocolate just took it to another level. I will being making recipe again, sometime soon. Make sure you check out the what the other Daring Bakers did!
Special thanks to our hosts for the month Elle and Deborah!

Until then,
Happy Smacking!