Almond, Cake, Fruit

Almond Shortcakes with Roasted Stone Fruit

For me, summertime is all about easy desserts, and shortcakes are here to help us all out on that front. Below, I’ve got a recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour’s shortcake recipe that adds almond flour into the mix for delicious results. Try them out with some roasted peaches and whipped cream, and you’ll be loving this treat all summer long!

Almond Shortcakes
yield: 6 -7 shortcakes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour*
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 6 tbsp butter, chilled
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • Additional buttermilk and sanding sugar, optional
  • Berries, stone fruit, whipped cream, or whatever you might want!

Preheat oven to 450 degrees, and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

In a minimum 6-cup capacity food processor, combine the flours, salt, baking powder, baking  soda, and salt. Pulse a couple times just to combine.

Add the chilled butter, sliced into roughly 8 portions. Pulse until the mixture is even and crumbly.  Transfer the dough to large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk the vanilla, almond, egg, and buttermilk together. Add to the flour mixture and fold together with a silicone spatula until the liquid is distributed.

Pour out the dough on a lightly floured surface, and knead just until it comes together, about 4 or 5 turns. Pat into a rectangle that’s about 3/4-inch thick and cut into 6 squares. At this point, you can chill the biscuits if you want, prior to baking. Otherwise, transfer each biscuit to the prepared baking sheet, brush with additional buttermilk, and sprinkle with sanding sugar.

Bake for 5 minutes at 450 before reducing temperature to 400 and continuing to bake for another 8-10 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Cool 15 minutes before serving.

Top however you wish. Pictured at the top of this post is roasted stone fruit and whipped cream.

*Almond flour is expensive, and I like to use this as a way of using up small amounts left over from making macarons. If you want to make these without almond flour, just substitute all-purpose flour though the dough may be a little dryer.

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Birthday Cake, Cake, Coffeecake

Birthday Cake for Breakfast

With my birthday coming up, I have birthday cake on my mind (which is odd, as I’m looking forward to a Bakewell Tart for this birthday). So it got me thinking: why not modify a delicious, proven coffee cake recipe to be birthday cake flavored? That way I can have my cake and eat it too – AND for breakfast!The original recipe comes from one of my favorite recipe and ingredient sources: King Arthur Flour. Their Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake is well recommended with excellent reviews. Here’s my birthday-cake-take:

Birthday Coffeecake

Birthday Cake Topping

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 tsp birthday cake flavoring*
  • 2 tbsp sprinkles

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Add in the butter, vanilla, and sprinkles, mixing with a silicone spatula to create a crumb-like topping. If it’s a bit wet, add in another tablespoon or two of flour until you get coarse crumbs. Set aside.

Filling

  • 8 oz white chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sprinkles

Place the white chocolate in a small, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir – the chocolate should barely be melted at all. Microwave for another 30 seconds. At this point, the chocolate should be about half melted. Continue microwaving, but on 10 second intervals, until it’s almost completely melted. Remove it from the microwave and let it sit: the remaining chocolate will melt and it will begin to cool down. After about 5-10 minutes, add in the sprinkles.

Cake

  • 3 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp birthday cake flavor*
  • 3 eggs

Prepare a 9 x 13 pan by lightly greasing the sides and bottom. Dust with flour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (or 325 degrees if your pan happens to be dark).

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream and milk. Set this aside as well.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes on medium speed. Add in the birthday cake flavoring (or vanilla) followed by the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

With the mixer on low, add in the flour and and milk mixture alternately in a 3:2 pattern, beginning and ending with flour. Pour or spread about half  of the batter into the bottom of the pan. Spread the white chocolate filling on top,  and top with the remaining batter, swirling the batter lightly with a knife to create a marbled effect.

Sprinkle the topping over the batter, patting it down lightly. Bake until the batter is a golden brown around the sides of the pan, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55-60 minutes.

Let the cake cool for 20 minutes before cutting and serving. The cake can be served from the pan or transferred to a plate for serving.

*Birthday cake flavoring – you can go a lot of ways. The easiest is to use clear imitation vanilla extract. Personally, imitation butter flavor, imitation vanilla, and a little bit of almond extract make a great birthday cake flavor! If you don’t want to fool with it though, vanilla is a solid option.

Bourbon, Cake, Caramel, Cupcakes

Bourbon Caramel Popcorn Cupcakes

These cupcakes are a love note to two of my favorite flavors: caramel and bourbon.

The guys over at Probably This have such inventive, tasty recipes, and they’re absolutely perfect the way they are. If you’re after a goat cheese buttercream or cookies with heaps of chocolate and rosemary, then they should be your go to guys for A Better Homo and Garden.

However, I am someone who enjoys riffing on a good idea like their brilliant Crunchy Caramel Popcorn Layer Cake with Rye Whiskey Buttercream:

Rye Whiskey? I prefer Kentucky Bourbon.

Layer cake? Let’s make cupcakes for a crowd instead.

Caramel  Cupcakes

yield: 2 dozen caramel cupcakes

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 six-ounce containers vanilla yogurt (not greek)
  • 1 cup salted caramel sauce
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 4 eggs

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line two muffin tins with 24 cupcake liners. Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

 

In another large bowl, combine the yogurt, caramel sauce, butter, brown sugar, and vanilla. Mix in the eggs, one at a time just until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix until it comes together.

Honestly, you can mix these cupcakes by hand, and they work wonderfully. Using a 1/4 cup measure or two large tablespoons, fill each cupcake liner a little over halfway full and bake in the preheated oven for 15-18 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

 

Let them cool in the pan for about 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Bourbon Buttercream

  • 1 1/2 cups salted butter, softened
  • 5 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted to remove lumps
  • 1/4 cup bourbon*
  • 3-4 tbsp heavy cream

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter for at least 3-5 minutes on medium-high speed, until nearly white in color. Add in 3 cups of the confectioner’s sugar, mixing on low to incorporate. Increase speed and mix on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes longer. Add one cup of confectioner’s sugar, the bourbon and the cream, and mix together, again starting on low before increasing speed to medium.  Add in the remaining cup of sugar gradually, until desired consistency and taste is achieved.

Transfer to a piping bag or spread generously on cupcakes.

*My favorite bourbon that comes in right around the $20 dollar mark is Jim Beam Double Oaked. It offers a hefty flavor that translates well in this frosting and is pleasant to drink on its own (which is always a perk!). Feel free to experiment with your own favorites!

Salted Caramel Sauce

Here’s my recent post to my own Sour Cream Salted Caramel Sauce, or you can always buy a trusted delicious brand. Either way, you’ll need a total of 2 cups to use in the cupcakes and for decoration.

 

 

 

Assembly:

  • Pipe a ring of frosting.
  • Fill the center with caramel.
  • Pipe frosting to cover.
  • Drizzle with a little caramel.
  • Top with caramel popcorn.

Cake, Candy, Marshmallow, Treat

Crispy Marshmallow Squares, Elevated

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What do you get when you combine the Crispy Marshmallow Square aesthetic of The Treat House, in New York City, and the ingenuity of Momofuku Milk Bar’s Cake Crumble? A delicious, elevated Birthday Cake Marshmallow Square.

The story behind this combination starts with Unique Sweets – a television show on The Cooking Channel – that I use as one source for inspiration. If you’re unfamiliar with the show, the purpose is for chefs to travel around and talk about delicious, inventive sweets they find all over the country. On an episode I watched recently, they visited The Treat House whose soul mission is to elevate that humble childhood delight: Crispy Marshmallow Squares. I loved this idea!

Additionally, I’ve been using my own variation on Momofuku Milk Bar’s Cake Crumble as a topping for cupcakes for a while now, and it seemed like the crumble would work well folded into a crispy marshmallow square.

Birthday Cake Crispy Marshmallow Squares

yield: 24 squares

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 5 cups crispy rice cereal
  • One batch Cake Crumbles, recipe to follow
  • 1/4 cup sprinkles plus additional for the top

Line a 13 x 9 pan with foil or parchment paper with overhang to make for easy removal.

In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the vanilla. Add in the marshmallows and cook for another minute until they are melted.

With a silicone spatula, fold in the cereal and one batch of the cake crumbles, and press the mixture into the prepared pan. Use an offset spatula to even out any lumps and make sure the mixture is pressed tightly into the pan. Top with extra sprinkles

Let the treats sit to cool down and firm up for at least an hour before slicing them into 2-inch squares.

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Cake Crumbles

yield: enough to top a 13 x 9 cake or two dozen cupcakes

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sprinkles
  • 5 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and sprinkles. In a small bowl, whisk together the butter and vanilla. Using a silicone spatula, stream in the liquid over the dry and fold together until mostly dry crumbs form. Spread crumbs out over baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. About halfway through, use a spatula to stir the crumbs around to ensure even baking. Remove from oven and let cool completely on baking sheet. Store in an airtight container. Cake Crumble can be made a few days in advance, but be careful not to eat it all in a single sitting with a glass of milk. Like me.

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Bourbon, Cake, Cupcakes, Pecans, Vanilla

Somedays You Just Need a Win… (Bourbon Baller Cupcakes)

I’ve had some baking failures recently, and those are just no fun to post about: miniature blueberry pies came out with a perfect crust and a charred, congealed filling like dark candle wax; cookies spread; cakes fell; crops died; Trump became president; the world ended.

Okay maybe not all that, but definitely the first and second things. And sadly one of the last ones too.

And so I find myself wanting to bake something I know I can do well; I need a win to rebuild my confidence. And what is confidence in a bottle?

Bourbon.

Bourbon can help anyone rebuild their confidence with a few quick swigs! I present to you, dear reader, Bourbon Baller Cupcakes, adapted from and embellished upon this delicious Whiskey Soaked Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake recipe I came across over at the New York Times. This recipe requires Mise-en-place: for everything to be in it’s place before you start creaming and baking.

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Bourbon Baller Cupcakes

yield: 28-30 cupcakes

  • 5 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • ¼ cup instant espresso powder
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • boiling water
  • 1 cup bourbon, Four Roses Yellow Label is my preference
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two muffin tins with liners. Personally, I made 24 cupcakes and a dozen miniature cupcakes with this recipe. In the top of a double boiler, melt the unsweetened chocolate. Set aside to cool.

In a 2-cup or larger glass measuring cup, combine the espresso and cocoa powders. Add enough boiling water to reach the 1-cup mark and stir to dissolve the powders. Add the bourbon. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

Cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract and melted chocolate.

On low speed, beat in a third of the cocoa-bourbon mixture. Then mix in half of the flour mixture, a third of the bourbon, the rest of the flour, and the last third of the bourbon mixture. Mix well after each addition, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Despite the liquid content, the batter will not be thin.

Divide batter among muffin tins and bake in preheated oven for 18-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan before removing cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Toasted Pecans

  • 1 cup chopped pecan
  • 24 pecans halves

Spread the chopped pecans on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake t 350 degrees for abut 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and fragrant. Set aside to cool. Can be made in advance (or while the oven is preheating for the cupcakes).

Chocolate Ganache

  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp bourbon

Chop the chocolate. Add the bourbon. Heat the cream in a microwave-safe measuring cup until it begins to just bubble around the sides. Pour over the chocolate. Let the mixture sit for one minute before stirring to melt. If there are unmelted bits of chocolate, heat in the microwave for 5-10 second intervals until melted.

Dip the tops of the cupcakes into melted chocolate. Sprinkle chopped pecans over the wet ganache. Let sit until the chocolate firms up a bit.

Vanilla-Bourbon Buttercream

  • 1  cup butter
  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 tbsp bourbon
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • Cream as needed

Cream butter until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes on medium speed in an electric mixer. Add 2 cups of confectioner’s sugar, bourbon, and vanilla. Cream until combined. Add 1 tbsp cream and bourbon to taste. The frosting may look thin or even broken. Add remaining confectioner’s sugar until desired texture and sweetness is reached.

Pipe frosting over solid chocolate ganache and pecans. Top each cupcake with a pecan half.

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Bourbon, Cake, Cereal

Breakfast of Champions Cake

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For a close friend’s wedding next June, I’ve offered to bake pies and cakes. I’m still building up my comfort-level with pies, so those posts will come later. For now, I’m thinking we’ll have a couple small-but-tall cakes to contrast the size and shape of the pies. I’m leaning towards three 6-inch tall, 3-layer cakes.

I also thought I could get away with some fun flavor combinations, like cereal and bourbon. What a weird combo, right? But it works quite well in the form of cake, and it adds a certain youthful, brash quality to a wedding.

Breakfast of Champions Cake

Cereal Milk

yield: about 1 1/4 cups cereal milk

  • 2 1/2 cups unsweetened cornflake cereal (I used Wheaties)
  • 2 cups cold whole milk
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spread cereal over a baking sheet lined with parchment, and bake until lightly toasted, about 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature before continuing.

Transfer cereal to a large bowl and pour milk over. Let steep for 20 minutes at room temperature. Strain milk, pressing cereal to release its starchy goodness. Add brown sugar and salt, stirring to dissolve. Store in a mason jar in the refrigerator. This can be made two days in advance.

Cereal Milk Cake

yield: three 6-inch layers

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 six-ounce container of vanilla yogurt
  • 1 cup cereal milk, divided
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1  cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 4 eggs

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and prepare three 6-inch pans: first, coat them in a light layer of butter, and then dust the pans in flour.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In another large bowl, combine the yogurt, 3/4 cup cereal milk, melted butter, both sugars, and vanilla. Whisk until homogenous. Mix in the eggs, one at a time just until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix until it comes together. Divide the batter evenly amongst the three pans and bake for a total of 25-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Rotate the pans halfway through to ensure even baking.

Let the cakes cool in their pans for about 10-15 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Once cool, use a bread knife to slice off the very top of each layer to create even layers (feel free to nibble on these tasty bits). Spread the remaining 1/4 cup milk over the layers, about 1 tbsp each.

img_20161028_160309Cereal Milk-Bourbon Buttercream

yield: more than enough to frost the outside of the cake as well, but I was going for a certain aesthetic.

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 4 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 tbsp bourbon
  • 1/4 cup cereal milk

Cream the butter until it’s light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes on medium speed. Add 3 cups of the confectioner’s sugar and continue creaming until light. Add the bourbon all at once and mix to combine. Add the cereal milk and mix. The frosting may be a bit thin at this stage; that’s perfectly fine. Add the remaining confectioner’s sugar a half cup at a time to get the frosting to a smooth and creamy consistency.

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Assembly

One layer of cake, frost with buttercream, 1/2 cup cereal, another cake layer, frosting, 1/2 cup cereal, final cake layer, frosting all over. I made those tasty toppers in the style of Rice Krispie Treats, but with Wheaties and a little extra marshmallow to give them a coated-in-milk look.

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Cake, Candy, Carrot Cake, Cream Cheese, Cupcakes, Pecans

21 – Carrot Gold

This updated classic spice cake features cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger to play off the natural sweetness of carrots. Each cupcake is  plump with cream cheese frosting and topped with cinnamon-roasted pecans

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Carrot cake is a classic confection, and everyone has their preferred recipe: some involve raisins or pecans or pineapple, and the spices used in the cake can vary wildly as well.

My recipe is set apart by its spice mixture: cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger are the backdrop against which sweet orange carrots are set.  I could add raisins or orange zest to the cupcakes, but I wanted them to stand on the sweet flavor of the eponymous carrots.

Cream Cheese frosting is a prerequisite, and I enjoy adorning the cupcakes with chopped candied pecans to add a nutty crunch while keeping distance from that cousin of carrot cake, the fruitcake.


Cinnamon Roasted Pecans yield: 1 cup roasted pecans

  • 1 cup pecans, halved
  • 1/2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Toss chopped pecans with butter to evenly coat. Toss with sugar mixture. Spread evenly over parchment. Bake until slightly darkened in color and fragrant, about 15 minutes.

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21-Carrot Cupcakes yield: a frustratingly uneven 21 cupcakes

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1 six-ounce container vanilla yogurt (not greek)
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup darkbrown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 medium carrots, 8 ounces or about 2 cups finely shredded

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two muffin tins with 21 cupcake liners. Set aside.

Grate the carrots on the smallest teeth of your box grater. The result should measure 8 ounces in weight or about 2 cups of very loosely packed grated carrot. Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom.

In another large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, butter, and both sugars to combine. Add in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Add the dry ingredients all at once to the wet and whisk to combine. With a silicone spatula, scrape down the bowl and stir in the grated carrots. Divide the batter among the muffin tins, about 1/4 cup per cupcake. Bake in the preheated oven for 16-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let the cupcakes cool in their pan for 5-10 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.IMG_20160530_141727


Cream Cheese Frosting yield: about 4 cups of frosting*

  • 12 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • 12oz cream cheese

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter until lightened in color, about 3 minutes on medium speed. Add the vanilla and salt to combine. Add in all of the confectioner’s sugar and mix on low until combined, then increase speed to medium and cream for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.

With the mixer on medium, gradually add in the cream cheese. I use a butter knife and cut it in about 2oz at a time. Cream together for an additional 30 secs. You can frost cupcakes immediately or store the frosting in the refrigerator for later use.

*This is the same cream cheese frosting I use in most of my other recipes with the amounts adjusted, so as a recipe it multiplies and divides very easily in a 4:4:1 ratio – 4 tbsp of butter, 4oz cream cheese, 1 cup confectioner’s sugar.

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