Saturday, 16 July 2016

Bridal Shower Part 4 - Meringue Sandwiches

As if making two cakes and macarons wasn’t enough, I wanted to make something for my friend’s bridal shower party favours. Keeping with the theme of “a shower in Paris”, I decided on meringues. They are so much easier to make than macarons, and as I would soon discover, sooo much more delicious.

Check out the verdict at the end of the post!

Meringue Sandwiches
Meringue recipe from Bakers Royale

3 large egg whites
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon white vinegar
Gel food colouring

  1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees F.
  2. Wipe down a metal bowl (e.g., of your stand mixer) and whisk with vinegar to get rid of residual grease.
  3. Whisk egg whites to stiff peaks. Gradually add sugar while mixing on medium. Add vanilla and vinegar and continue to whip until stiff and glossy (there should be no granules when you rub between your fingers).
  4. Add gel food colouring and beat to combine.
  5. Place the meringue in a pastry bag with the tip of your choice. I used 2M. Pipe rosettes or other shapes to your liking, 1 inch apart. Smaller rosettes work better (see note at the end).
  6. Bake for 90-120 minutes until the meringue easily peel off the paper. Cool on a wire rack.

Fillings are only restricted by your imagination. Some options are jam, buttercreams, marshmallow fluff, ganache, lemon curd, caramel, Nutella, cookie butter, etc.
I had leftover chocolate swiss meringue buttercream from the chocolate cake that I made for the shower.

Spread filling on one meringue and sandwich with another. Place in an airtight container for 12 hours to ripen.This will soften the meringue and improve the texture and flavour.

Verdict: OMG these are amazing!! Go and make these right now! They are my absolute new favorite treat! The texture is so chewy marshmallow-y and delicious. So happy that I made these for the party favours.

Note: Be sure to pipe smaller rosettes as the moisture from the filling does a better job of making the meringue chewy. Larger rosettes stay relatively crunchy.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Bridal Shower Part 3 - Berry Cheesecake Macarons

As I wrote in my previous posts (here and here), I recently helped throw my very dear friend a Paris themed bridal shower. Of course I had to bake some macarons as part of the event’s dessert line up! The bride loves macarons, particularly the ones from Laduree, which she had for the first time when she went to Paris (and got engaged!).

I’m still on my macaron perfecting journey. I still cannot bake filled macarons (i.e., I end up with hollows). And I’m sad to say that I can’t bake them in the Winter/Fall/Spring because it’s so rainy and humid in Vancouver and I have a gas oven. After many trials and tears, I realized after talking to a foodie colleague, that gas ovens pump out moisture, which destroys macarons. I think it’s completely ridiculous that I can only bake them in the summer - to the point where I might change out my gas oven for an electric.

So good thing it’s summer! I decided on a berry cheesecake filling for the shower. Check out the verdict at the end of the post.

Berry Cheesecake Macarons

Macaron shells
1 ½ cups icing sugar
1 cup + 2 Tablespoons almond meal/ground almonds
3 egg whites
⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ + 2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Gel food colouring

  1. Line three baking sheets with parchment. Wipe the inside of a metal bowl and whisk with vinegar to get rid of any grease. Insert a round tip # 2A into a pastry bag, place in a tall cup, and fold the edge over the outside of the cup.
  2. Combine icing sugar and almond meal in a blender or food processor and pulse a few times to mix and further grind the almonds. Set aside.
  3. Place egg whites in the bowl and beat until frothy. Add cream of tartar and whip to soft peaks. Gradually add sugar while whisking and continue to very stiff peaks.
  4. Add vanilla and combine. Add gel food colouring (I used a mix of pink and purple) and combine. Knock the meringue off the whisk by hitting it against the side of the bowl.
  5. Sift the almond-icing sugar blend into the meringue. Set timer for 30 seconds and mix with a spatula to deflate the air.
  6. Begin to fold and smear the mixture against the bottom/side of the bowl. Take your time and test the consistency periodically - hold some of the mixture up with the spatula and see if it flows down in a thick ribbon. If you can make a number 8 with the flow as it drips off the spatula, it’s ready. Check out this video for a reference on the consistency.
  7. Fill the pastry bag with half the mixture (now called a macaronage). Pipe small circles. Refill and repeat with remaining macaronage. Bang the baking sheet 2x on the counter to release bubbles. Set aside.
  8. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees F. Let macarons sit and form a shell as the oven is pre-baking (15-30 minutes).
  9. Bake one sheet at a time for 15 minutes. The shells should easily release from the parchment. Cool on tray before filling.

Berry cream cheese filling
1 Tablespoon of butter, softened
¼ cup cream cheese, softened
2 Tablespoon of your favorite berry jam
2 Tablespoons icing sugar

Beat butter and cream cheese together until fluffy and combined. Add jam and icing sugar and mix to combine.

Spread jam on one macaron shell and add (or pipe) a dollop of cream cheese filling on the other. Combine. But wait, you’re not done! Be sure to ripen them in the fridge in a sealed container for a minimum of 24 hours. This will improve flavour and texture. Don’t skip this step! It’s worth it.

Verdict: The bride and the guests were delighted by the macarons, which of course made me really happy! It just added a really nice touch to the event. I send everyone home with leftover cake and macarons.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Bridal Shower Part 2 - Chocolate Butter Cake

Part 2 of the Bridal Shower baking is the other cake - the chocolate cake. While chocolate cake is not my go-to, I knew that some people just have to have their chocolate. This cake is a chocolate lover’s dream with some sophistication with the raspberry jam between the layers and not too sweet swiss meringue buttercream. It was definitely what the kiddies (and some chocolohic adults) at the shower wanted.

Chocolate Butter Cake with Raspberry

Chocolate Butter Cake
I baked in three, 6-inch cake pans for about 40 minutes, until a toothpick came out clean.
Notes: be sure to whip the mayonnaise with a spoon before adding it into the batter. Instead of folding it in, I got better results by incorporating it with the beaters - just be sure not to overbeat.
When cooled, slice off domed top (and eat) and slice in half so you end up with 6 layers.

Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream
3 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 ½ cup unsalted butter
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
125g chopped dark chocolate

  1. Wipe down bowl of stand mixer and whisk attachment with vinegar to get rid of any grease.
  2. Combine egg whites and sugar in bowl and place over a pot of simmering water. Place a candy thermometer on the side and whisk more or less continuously until the mixture reaches 155 degrees F.
  3. Take off the heat and whisk using the stand mixer until thick, glossy and cool. I like to put a gel ice pack around the bottom to speed up the cooling process.
  4. Meanwhile, cut butter into cubes.
  5. Melt chocolate over a pot of simmering water and set aside to cool. Or melt in 10 second intervals in the microwave, stirring in between.
  6. When the meringue is cool, change to a beater attachment and beat on medium, adding cubes of butter one at a time. Beat on high until smooth (may take a while, sometimes up to 20 minutes).
  7. Add salt and vanilla and beat to combine.
  8. Add melted chocolate and beat to combine. Note: Chocolate should be at room temperature, not warm.

Chocolate drip
⅓ cup chopped dark chocolate
2 Tablespoon butter

Microwave chocolate and butter in 10 second intervals until melted, stirring in between. Cool to room temperature before using.

Other ingredients
Raspberry jam, or whatever kind you have in the fridge.

  1. Place first layer on your cake board. Spread jam and a thin layer of the buttercream. Place next layer and repeat with remaining layers, capping off with the last layer.
  2. Cover entire cake with buttercream to crumb coat (seal in the crumbs). Smooth out as much as you can with a metal spatula and place in fridge for 15 minutes to set.
  3. Add another layer of frosting and repeat until you get a smooth exterior.
  4. Spoon or pipe chocolate at the edge of the cake so that it drips down. Spread the remaining on the top with a metal spatula.
  5. Decorate and enjoy!

Verdict: The cake is super moist and rich (without being too dense) which is my favorite. The chocolate buttercream is not too sweet and the tartness of the jam cuts through the sweetness in the cake. I’ll definitely be making this again.

Stay tuned for the next post if you want to know how to make the macarons.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Bridal Shower Part 1 - Orange Earl Grey Cake

My very dear friend M is getting married! I’ve known this gal since we were in high school (we’re now in our 30’s to put this in context). We’ve been through a lot of fun and not so fun times (as is life) together and watched each other grow up. There have been times when we’ve been apart (she moved to Toronto for a while) and times when we didn’t get together often (I had grad school, she had a child!) but we have one of those friendships where we can jump right back in and nothing has changed. So I was delighted to help organize her bridal shower and send her on her way to her wedding in Santorini (talk about dream wedding!)!

We decided to throw her a Paris themed bridal shower since it’s her favorite place in the world and it’s where she got engaged. I decided to make an array of desserts to fit the theme, which I will post over the next little while.

First, cake! I made two cakes, an orange earl grey cake and a chocolate cake (to satisfy those for whom only chocolate will do). The orange earl grey cake was supposed to be two separate cakes (and orange creamsicle cake and an earl grey cake), but plans changed and I did a mash up - the flavours worked well together.

Check out the verdict at the end of the post!

Orange Earl Grey Cake
Orange cake layers by Tessa Huff
I baked them in two, 6-inch cake pans and the remaining batter in a small loaf pan (for snacking on).
The cakes baked for around 40 minutes or until a toothpick came out clean (started checking around 30 minutes).
When cooled, slice off the domed tops and slice cakes in half so you end up with 4 layers. (If making ahead, wrap in plastic and freeze. Defrost with the plastic on when ready to assemble.)

Earl grey cake layers by Tessa Huff
I cut the recipe in half and baked in two, 6-inch cake pans for around 40 minutes (or until a toothpick came out clean - started checking around 30 minutes).

Tea syrup by Tessa Huff
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
1 Tablespoon loose leaf earl grey tea

In a small saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil. Bring down the heat to a simmer and add the tea. Let simmer for 10 minutes then take off heat and cool. Strain the leaves.
*I steeped the tea in the syrup for a week in the fridge for extra flavour

Cream cheese filling adapted from recipe by Tessa Huff
½ cup butter, softened
3 cups icing sugar
¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons cream cheese, softened and whipped with a fork
Zest of ¼ of an orange
3 Tablespoons of tea syrup (recipe above)

In a bowl, beat butter and icing sugar until smooth. Add cream cheese and beat until combined. Add orange zest and tea syrup. Feel free to add more syrup to get the consistency you want (should be spreadable).

Earl grey swiss meringue buttercream
Adapted from recipe by Tessa Huff
3 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 ½ cup unsalted butter
3 Tablespoons tea syrup (from above)
½ teaspoon of ground earl grey tea

  1. Wipe down bowl of stand mixer and whisk attachment with vinegar to get rid of any grease.
  2. Combine egg whites and sugar in bowl and place over a pot of simmering water. Place a candy thermometer on the side and whisk more or less continuously until the mixture reaches 155 degrees F.
  3. Take off the heat and whisk using the stand mixer until thick, glossy and cool. I like to put a gel ice pack around the bottom to speed up the cooling process.
  4. Meanwhile, cut butter into cubes. When the meringue is cool, change to a beater attachment and beat on medium, adding cubes of butter one at a time. Beat on high until smooth (may take a while, sometimes up to 20 minutes).
  5. While on medium, gradually add tea syrup. Stop and add the ground tea and beat to combine.

  1. Place orange cake layer on a cake board. Brush with tea syrup. Spread a cream cheese filling on top. Place another orange cake layer and repeat.
  2. Repeat with the two earl grey cake layers. Finish with the remaining two orange cake layers.
  3. Crumb coat with the Earl Grey Swiss Meringue buttercream. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes to set. Add another layer of buttercream and repeat until you get a smooth coat. Decorate and enjoy! (Keep the fridge and bring to room temperature ~2 hours before eating.)

The shower came together splendidly! The bride was really happy with all the little details and had a lot of fun. I’m so happy with how everything turned out and glad that I could send her on her way with a bang! I’m still coming down from the high of the event!
Oh and the cake? It was delic. I especially liked the fluffiness of the orange cake. The earl grey flavour was a complimentary flavour.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Ice Cream Fake Out Cake

Anyone else dreaming of summer? Living in Vancouver, it’s been rain errryday and the Huz said that I’m not allowed to check the weather anymore. Well, for my friend’s birthday, I thought I’d bring her some summer. And since she has 2 adorable kiddies, I thought they’d like a fun whimsical cake.

My inspiration for this cake is Katherine Sabbath. Have you seen her work??? Mind blowing. Not only are her designs amazing, her flavor combinations are out of this world. I’m pretty much in awe of her. Check this out:

Here’s what I’ve done for my friend in the past:
I always try to do something big and different for her. It keep me on my game keeps me flexing my muscles.

Here’s my technique for decorating this cake. I’m not including a recipe for the cake itself - I did a vanilla cake with raspberry jam - because I wanted to focus on the decor. And lucky for you, I’ve worked out the kinks (trust me, there were some tears, right Huz?).

Ice Cream Fake Out Cake Decor
Buttercream Frosting - for sprinkle layer and “ice cream”
1.5 cups butter, softened (add ¼ teaspoon salt if using unsalted butter)
5 cups icing sugar
½ cup heavy cream, room temperature (nuke in the microwave in a time pinch)
2 teaspoons vanilla
¼ teaspoon almond extract
¼ cup jimmies sprinkles
2 Tablespoons chopped chocolate
1 Tablespoon raspberry jam
Food colouring of choice (I used a mix of blue and green gel)

Ice Cream Cone
1 sugar cone
¼ cup white chocolate, or white chocolate discs, or candy melts
¼ cup sprinkles or nuts or anything you want to decorate the ice cream cone with

Drip Icing
½ cup icing sugar
3-4 teaspoons water
Food colouring of choice (I recommend gel colour)

Large and mini ice cream scoops
Metal spatula
Piping bag

Decorating instructions
  1. Make buttercream frosting by whipping butter (and salt if using) with beater attachment in a stand mixer until fluffy. Add icing sugar and mix on a low speed. Gradually stream in cream as it’s mixing and beat until well incorporated and fluffy. Add vanilla and almond extract and beat until incorporated.
  2. Stack and fill your cake layers. I baked a vanilla cake in 3, 6-in cake pans and sliced them in half. In between the layers, I used raspberry jam. But sky’s the limit here in terms of flavour combos.
  3. Crumb coat the cake - apply a thin layer of frosting to the entire cake to seal in the crumbs. Scrape off any excess. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes.
  4. At this point, you’ll need to estimate how much frosting you’ll need for the sprinkle layer and the “ice cream” portions. Scoop out the amount that you’ll need for the “ice cream” into a bowl and set aside.
  5. With the portion of frosting you’ve portioned for the sprinkle layer, add sprinkles and fold in with a spatula. Feel free to add more if you want it extra sprinkl-y.
  6. Frost the cake with your sprinkle frosting and scrape off excess. If you want it extra smooth, put it in the fridge for 10 minutes. Dip a metal spatula in hot water and wipe off, and smooth out the frosting. You can add more frosting and repeat this process of refrigerating and smoothing out with a hot spatula.
  7. Next, colour the frosting that you will use as ice cream. In my design, I made a turquoise large scoop and smaller scoops of chocolate chip and raspberry ripple. For turquoise, I mixed blue and a small amount of green into the frosting. For chocolate chip, I chopped up chocolate and mixed it into the frosting. For raspberry ripple, I added 1 tablespoon of raspberry jam into the frosting and ran a few strokes through it with a spoon. And for the important part: Spread out the frosting on the bottom of their bowls and refrigerate for 10 minutes. This will give it the ice cream look when scooped out.
  8. In the meantime, you can do 2 things: decorate your ice cream cone and make your drip. First the cone: melt your white chocolate in a double boiler or in 10 second intervals in the microwave, stirring between intervals. Dip your the outer 1-inch of your cone in the melted chocolate, then dip in sprinkles or nuts. Place on parchment/wax paper/foil and harden in the fridge.
  9. Next the drip icing: Place icing sugar in a small bowl and add water 1 teaspoon at a time, stirring after each addition. Stop when you get a thick but fluid consistency. I recommend putting a drop of the icing on the lip of a cup to see how fast it drips down. If you’ve added too much water, you can add more icing sugar. Add food colouring and mix to incorporate (I recommend gel colour so that it doesn’t add more liquid to the drip).
  10. Apply the drip icing: I’ve seen this done in a number of ways, but here’s what I did - I put some of the drip icing in a small pastry bag with a small round tip. I applied beads of drip icing on the edge of the cake and allowed it to drip down. I put the remaining drip on top of the cake and spread it out with an offset spatula.
  11. Apply the “ice cream”: Scoop the ice cream frosting with an ice cream scoop and place on the cake. If the frosting is too hard, you can run the scoop under hot water (be sure to dry with towel before scooping). Place ice cream cone on the middle ice cream.
  12. Keep cake in the fridge. Bring up to room temperature before eating - 2 hours prior.

*What to do with extra frosting and cake: If you’ve found yourself with extra cake scraps from cutting off the dome of the cakes and frosting, why not make cake pops or cake truffles! You can keep both the cake scraps and frosting in the freezer until you’re ready to make these. I’ll do a post on this next!

Verdict: This cake was an absolute show stopper! I was really happy with the way it turned out and how much it resembled ice cream! Such a whimsical cake. I have so many ideas of how this ice cream technique can be used!

Ps. Does this remind of you Baskin Robins of the 90’s? I got a few of those comments.