Sunday, 24 January 2016

Chocolate Stuffed Sugar Cookies


Guess what. I'm getting back into it. Baking and blogging that is. My mood to photograph and write ebbs and flows. That doesn't mean I haven't been checking out recipes and baking - see my Instagram for evidence.

One of the recipes that I've been wanted to try is a sugar cookie recipe. You might think it's boring, but there's something about a no-frills cookie that I like. It can't hide from fancy add-ins and flavours. It's all about texture and the balance of sugar and salt. Like a butter cookie (which by the way, is my favorite cookie). But just in case a basic sugar cookie is too boring for you, here's a version with ganache.

Check out the verdict at the end of the post!

Ready to form back into a ball.
Ready for baking. No need to press down.

Chocolate Stuffed Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookie base recipe from Brave Tart

Ingredients
1 cup butter, cold
1 ½ cups of sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch of nutmeg (freshly grated if available)
1 large egg, cold
1 Tablespoon vanilla
2 ¼ cup all purpose flour

Ganache
40 grams dark chocolate, chopped
52 grams cream

½ cup of cane or muscovado sugar

Directions
1. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat butter, sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg until fluffy (5 min).
2. Scrape down the sides, add egg and vanilla, and beat for another 2 minutes.
3. Scrape down the sides and add flour. Mix on the lowest speed until combined (no more than 30 seconds).
4. Put your dough in the fridge while you make the ganache.

At this point, you can pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment.

5. Put the chopped dark chocolate in a bowl. In a microwave safe cup, microwave cream in 10 second intervals until steaming. Swirl between rounds.
6. Pour cream onto chocolate and let sit for a couple minutes. Stir to combine starting from the middle going outwards. Once smooth, let it sit in the fridge until cool.
7. Scoop out 2 Tablespoon portions of dough and form a ball. Make a deep indent in the ball with your thumb, insert a small dollop of ganache (~½ teaspoon), and patch up the hole with dough from the sides and bottom of the ball. Roll in your hands to re-form a ball.
8. Roll dough in sugar. Place 5 on a baking sheet and bake for 14 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing.

Makes about 26 cookies.



Verdict: Crispy edges, chewy centers. Delic! I made a couple without the chocolate and sugar on the outside and they were still really good. Not boring - classic, OG.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Various Winter Bakings

Here are some things that I've been baking this winter. No recipes here but I thought it might be nice to show you some photos. I really need a professional light for taking photos. Short days mean short time periods of when I can photograph, and in dark and rainy Vancouver, the light that is available isn't great. This winter, I didn't even bother trying to catch the light, thus these photos. Oh well.

Let's start with a birthday cake with blueberry jam. I just love those colours.


Next is a Winter Wonderland cake that I made for a potluck. A chocolate cake with vanilla swiss meringue buttercream. Pretty simple and it's all in the decor!



Next is the World's Best Cake, which was a disaster, but which I managed to salvage. The final product is layers of angel food cake, whipped cream, and meringues with slivered almonds.

Next is a dairy free birthday cake. Chocolate cake with meringue frosting. Fluufffyyyy!


And finally, a pretzel cake from Christina Tosi (Milk Bar). Interesting flavours for sure - pretzel, honey frosting, and ganache. A grown up cake for 3 grownups' birthdays.


That's all for now. I'll be here hoping for better weather and lighting.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Various Summer Bakings

Want to know what's been happening in the kitchen? Check these out!

First up, shoe cupcakes. These were for my boss who loves shoes - I think some of us can relate. I've seen these made with Milano cookies but I made the cookies myself and attached Cadbury Fingers.


There was also these eye shadow palette cookies for a makeup themed bridal shower. This was the first time I decorated cookies with royal icing. Definitely need more practice - whoa these took time to decorate.



And finally, these cupcakes and cake for a birthday party. The cake was Neapolitan (vanilla and chocolate cake layers with strawberry swiss meringue frosting in the middle). Did you know that you can get images printed on rice paper at the grocery store? So awesome!



Check out the birthday girl :)



Sunday, 28 June 2015

Strawberry Cheesecake Cake


This one’s been in the blog bank for a while - since Mother’s Day to be exact. I wanted to bring a cake to a family potluck for mother’s day. The Huz’s family has 5 aunts (and one uncle) so they like to celebrate Mother’s Day together. Instead of bringing a cheesecake, why not make a cake that plays on a cheesecake? I’m really into desserts that are like other desserts (e.g., a cake that’s a take on a pie, an ice cream that tastes like birthday cake, a doughnut that tastes like root beer, etc). It’s confusing and awesome.

This cake has many components, so I premade the cake layers and froze them and kept the graham crunch in an airtight container until assembly day.

Check out the verdict at the end of the post!

Graham Crunch
adapted from Milk Bar Cookbook
Ingredients
¾ cup graham crumbs
2 Tablespoons milk powder
1 Tablespoon sugar
pinch of salt
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 Tablespoons heavy cream

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Toss graham crumbs, milk powder, sugar, and salt in a bowl to combine.
  3. Pour in butter and cream and toss to combine.
  4. Spread on a baking sheet and break apart large chunks. Bake for 25 minutes tossing halfway through.
  5. Cool completely. Break apart and big pieces. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.

Vanilla Cake
From Anna Olson.
Baked in 3, 6-inch cake pans. 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
If the cakes dome, cut off to make them flat (and you can eat the best part of the cake!)

Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling
Ingredients
¼ cup butter, softened
½ cup cream cheese, softened
½ teaspoon lemon juice
½ cup icing sugar
3 Tablespoons strawberry jam
pinch of salt

Directions
  1. Beat butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer to combine.
  2. Add lemon juice, icing sugar, jam, and salt and beat until fluffy.

Cream Cheese Marshmallow Frosting
Ingredients
½ cup cream cheese, room temperature
1 ¼ cup butter, room temperature
1 cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 jar marshmallow cream
pinch of salt
pink food colouring

Directions
  1. Beat cream cheese and butter together with a stand mixer (paddle attachment) to combine. Add icing sugar and vanilla and beat to combine.
  2. Add marshmallow cream and salt and beat to combine.
  3. For an ombre decorating effect, colour ⅓ of the frosting with a dark pink and the remaining ⅔ light pink (less food colouring).
*note that this frosting won’t be completely smooth - it’ll look a little bit curdled. I know, not ideal for a frosting, but it does taste great.


Assembly
Components
  1. 1 cup thinly sliced strawberries
  2. Vanilla cake layers
  3. Strawberry jam
  4. Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling
  5. Cream Cheese Marshmallow Frosting

  1. Smear a small dollop of strawberry cream cheese filling on you cake plate or cake board. Ideally, use a turntable for easier decorating. Place the first layer of cake on top.
  2. Spread strawberry jam. Top with strawberry slices.
  3. Spread the strawberry cream cheese filling and sprinkle the graham crumbs on top.
  4. Place next cake layer and repeat. Finish with the final layer.
  5. Frost the entire cake with the light pink cream cheese marshmallow frosting. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes to firm up.
  6. Spread the dark pink frosting on the bottom ⅓ of the cake. Smooth out with a large spatula, blending the line between the two colours as you twirl the cake around.
  7. Add graham crumbs along the bottom. Decorate to your liking. Keep in the fridge until an hour before serving.




Verdict: I really liked the flavours of this cake - really reminiscent of a strawberry cheesecake. The crunch of the graham crumbs on the outside gave the cake an interesting texture. Too bad that the graham inside the cake turned soft. It was definitely a crowd pleaser!

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Banana Nut Crunch Layer Cake


I have a friend again! My friend who moved to Toronto 8 years ago came back to Vancouver for good just recently. I’ve never made her a birthday cake, because, well, the whole transporting a cake to Toronto is a tad difficult. But with her back in town, I finally had the chance to make her one.


It was a no-brainer as to which cake I was going to make. Ever since I bought the Milk Bar cookbook a few years ago, I’ve been eyeing the banana cake recipe. My friend really likes bananas (which I find interesting as I don’t know anyone else who would put bananas in their top 5 list. ps. she also likes rocks, which I find interesting. And maps.)


So here’s the cake! It’s a pretty intensive cake with recipes within recipes. Check out the verdict at the end of the post.


Banana Cake
slightly adapted from Milk Bar Cookbook


Ingredients
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
¾ cup sugar
1 egg, room temperature
½ cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 Tablespoons oil (I used canola)
½ teaspoon banana extract (I omitted and the flavour was still there)
2 very ripe bananas
1 ⅓ cup flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt


Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line the bottom of 2, 5-inch cake pans with parchment (or use 3, 6-inch and omit slicing in half after baking). Grease the sides with oil or butter and add a thin layer of flour
  2. Beat butter and sugar with the paddle attachment of a standmixer for 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides,  add egg, and beat for another 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides.
  3. To the buttermilk, add the oil and banana extract (if using) and stir. With the mixer on low, stream in the buttermilk mixture a little at a time. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until doubled in size and light in colour (6 min). If after 6 minutes it doesn’t look homogenous, keep beating. Scrape down bowl.
  4. Add banana and mix on low for 60 seconds.
  5. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and mix on low for 60 sec just until things come together.
  6. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the toothpick test come out clean. This will depend on your oven and the size of your cake pan.
  7. Cool for 10 minutes before popping them out and cooling completely. Torte, or cut the cakes in half to make 4 layers (no need if you baked in 3 pans).


Hazelnut Brittle (to use in Hazelnut Crunch) (make ahead of time)
from Milk Bar Cookbook
Ingredients
½ cup sugar
¼ cup hazelnuts


Directions
  1. Place silicone mat on a baking sheet.
  2. Put sugar in a small saucepan and heat on medium-high to caramelize. Stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to cook evenly. Get to a dark amber colour. Take off heat.
  3. Stir in hazelnuts and quickly spread out onto silicone mat. Cool completely
  4. Break into pieces and place in a ziplock bag. Crush with a meat pounder or rolling pin until you get rice size pieces.


Hazelnut Crunch (make ahead of time)
slightly adapted from Milk Bar Cookbook
Ingredients
3 Tablespoons hazelnut paste (I used almond butter because that’s what I had)
1/3 cup of the hazelnut brittle from above
½ cup feuilletine (you can find this in specialty stores or online. If in Vancouver, you can get it at Gourmet Warehouse)
1 Tablespoon icing sugar
¼ teaspoon salt


Directions
Combine all ingredients in a stand mixer and paddle until combined. Store in an airtight container.


Banana cream (make ahead)
slightly adapted from Milk Bar Cookbook
Ingredients
1 very ripe banana
2 ½ Tablespoon heavy cream
2 Tablespoons milk
¼ cup sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ egg yolks
½ teaspoon powdered gelatin
1 ½ Tablespoon butter
yellow food colouring
¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
½ cup icing sugar


Directions
  1. Puree banana, 2 ½ Tablespoons of heavy cream, and milk in a blender.
  2. Add sugar, cornstarch, salt, and yolk and blend until smooth. Pour into a saucepan. Clean the blender.
  3. Bloom gelatin by sprinkling it over 2 Tablespoons of cold water in small cup. Allow it to sit for 3-5 minutes to soften.
  4. Place saucepan over medium-low heat and cook while whisking. Bring to a boil then continue whisking for 2 minutes until it comes to a thick glue consistency.
  5. Place contents of saucepan into the blender, add the gelatin, and blend until combined.
  6. Add food colouring and blend.
  7. Transfer to a bowl and cool in the refrigerator until completely cooled (1 hour).
  8. Whisk remaining heavy cream and icing sugar to medium-soft peak. Add banana mixture and slowly whisk until combined. Store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.


Ganache
Ingredients
150g dark chocolate, chopped
¾ cup heavy cream
½ Tablespoons corn syrup
pinch of salt
1 Tablespoons butter, in cubes
½ teaspoon vanilla


Directions
1. Place chocolate in a bowl.
2. In a saucepan, combine cream, corn syrup, and salt, and bring to a boil.
3. Pour over chocolate and let stand for 1 minute.
4. Whisk to combine, from the middle slowly out to the outer edge.
5. Add butter and mix.
6. Cool before using. If you make ahead, keep wrapped in the fridge and microwave for 10 seconds to make pliable.


Buttercream Frosting
Ingredients
¼ cup butter
1 cup icing sugar
1 Tablespoon heavy cream
¼ teaspoon vanilla (or banana) extract
yellow food colouring


Directions
Combine all ingredients except for the food colouring and mix until smooth. You can add more cream if it’s too thick. Add food colouring to your desired hue.




Finished product with acetate.


Assembly
Components
  1. cake layers
  2. ganache
  3. hazelnut crunch
  4. banana cream
  5. frosting
  6. ¼ cup milk
  7. acetate 

Directions

  1. Place a little dollop of frosting or ganache on your plate or cake board. Place first cake layer on top.
  2. Using a pastry brush, brush milk over the surface and sides of cake.
  3. Spread on a layer of ganache.
  4. Sprinkle hazelnut crunch to completely cover the surface.
  5. Add banana cream and spread out with a small spoon.
  6. Place second cake layer on top.
  7. Wrap acetate tightly around the cake so that it creates a container around it that extend above it. Secure with tape. This will hold the remaining layers and make it easier to build.
  8. Repeat the layers until you end with the final cake layer.
  9. Spread the buttercream frosting on top. Decorate as you like.
  10. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Remember to peel of the acetate before serving.


Verdict: This cake was amazing! Moist, flavourful, with great texture from the hazelnut crunch. Definitely worth it to make, you just need to be very organized and start planning and prepping components days in advance because it’s too much to do in one day. I was on my honeymoon right before her bday, so I baked the cake beforehand and froze the layers. I made the ganache, banana cream, and hazelnut crunch the day before.