Friday, 14 February 2014

Chocolate Sable Sandwich Cookies

Today is the one year anniversary of when I received my gorgeous Tiffany blue KitchenAid stand mixer. It’s been one hell-of-a year as I put my hand mixer away and let the big boss go to town, mixing cookie dough, whipping Swiss meringue buttercream for 20 minutes until it comes together, etc., etc., (see blog for more details). It’s my favorite tool in the kitchen (next to my bamboo cutting board, ice cream scoops, and nicely weighted knives), and I’ll even go so far as to say that I’m in love(and I’m pretty sure it feels the same way)! I guess I have to say a big thank you to that cute guy that got it for me last Valentine’s Day.

For our anniversary bake, I decided to give sable cookies a go - super easy, prettily piped, topped with sprinkles, and sandwiching buttercream.

Chocolate Sable Cookies
Adapted from here.

1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 ¾ cup + 1 Tablespoon all purpose flour
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
½ cup + 3 Tablespoons icing sugar
3 Tablespoon egg whites, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla

1.  Preheat oven to 355 degrees F.
2.  Sift cocoa, flour, espresso, and salt into a bowl and mix. Set aside.
3.  In a different bowl, or stand mixer, beat butter until soft. Add icing sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
4.  Add egg whites and beat until thoroughly mixed. Add vanilla and beat to combine.
5.  Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.
6.  Fill a piping bag with a wide tip (I used 1M). Pipe designs onto a cookie sheet and bake for 10-11 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes on sheet before moving to a rack.

Buttercream of your choice. I actually used leftover frosting from my freezer – chocolate and raspberry. Pipe or spread buttercream on one cookie and top with another. Enjoy!

Verdict: The sables are great because they are chocolate-y and but only a little sweet. The filling gives it more sweetness and richness, so it’s up to you whether you want to take it to that level (they are good on their own). Tip: make sure the dough is really soft before piping. I kneaded it a bit in the piping bag to soften it to a pipe-able consistency. All in all, it was a great anniversary!

Sunday, 2 February 2014


I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of fondant. I don’t think it tastes good, nor do I think it’s visually appealing. A decade back when fondant wedding cakes were all the rage, I thought that it was the future of cakes, and that there was nowhere to go from there. But much like fashion, cake decorating trends change, and now it’s all about new and cool buttercream piping techniques (e.g., rose, petal, ruffle) in cool colours (e.g., ombre) and pretty toppers (e.g., bunting, flags, washi tape).

So I was kind of horrified when I asked the fiancĂ© what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday, and he said “an RCMP cake”, because I knew that fondant would have to be used.

Side bar: If you’re Canadian, then you know all about the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (aka, Mountie) with their red serge (uniform), but if you’re from elsewhere, that’s the name of our Federal police.

Then I asked him what flavour he wanted, and he said fruit, which made me feel a bit better because I had book marked a lemon blueberry cake a few years ago that I wanted to try.

In the end, I worked out a way to use minimal fondant. Check out the verdict at the end of the post!

I used half of this recipe, but you can purchase pre-made fondant of course.
I added black, brown, and yellow food colouring for the various pieces.

Blueberry Curd
Adapted from here.
Can be made a week in advance.

¾ cup fresh blueberries
½ cup sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
2 egg yolks and 1 whole egg
2 Tablespoons salted butter

1.  In a small saucepan, mix blueberries, sugar, lemon juice, and zest over medium heat until the blueberries burst and sugar has dissolved. You can smash the blueberries with a fork to speed things up.
2.  In a small bowl, beat egg yolks and eggs. Temper the eggs by adding a small amount of the blueberry mixture to the eggs and beat. Add a little more, and beat again. Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan and stir continuously until the mixture is thick.
3.  Place butter in a bowl. Pour the blueberry curd over a sieve and into the butter. This will ensure a smooth curd without any blueberry skins or scrambled eggs. Mix the butter into the curd and cool. Store in the fridge until ready to use.

Lemon Blueberry Cake
Adapted from here.
To bake a 5-inch cake

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1.5 cups fresh blueberries
¼ cup sour cream, room temperature
¼ cup whole milk, room temperature
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon ground vanilla beans (optional)
¼  teaspoon pure lemon extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ cup butter, softened
¾ cup white sugar
2 eggs, room temperature

1.   Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of two 5-inch baking pans with parchment, and grease and flour the sides.
2.   In a bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3.   Take 2 teaspoons of the flour from the mixture and toss it with the blueberries. Set aside.
4.   In a pourable bowl or measuring cup, mix sour cream, milk, vanilla extract, ground vanilla beans (if using), lemon extract and zest. Set aside.
5.   In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine butter and sugar and beat until combined and fluffy.
6.   Add eggs one a time and beat well after each addition.
7.   Add the flour in 3 additions, alternating with the liquid mixture, mixing on low.
8.   Add blueberries and fold in gently by hand.
9.   Divide batter between the two pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
10.Cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing and cooling completely on a rack.
11.Cut off the dome and slice each layer in half.

Buttercream Frosting
1 cup salted butter, softened
4 cups icing sugar
¼ cup milk or cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
Gel food colouring
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder

1.  Combine all ingredients (except colouring and cocoa) in a mixer and beat until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes)
2.  Portion out ¼ cup and add yellow food colouring and mix.
3.  Add red food colouring and cocoa powder to the remaining buttercream and mix. 
*Buttercream colour gets deeper with time

1.  Spread a teaspoon of blueberry curd on a cake plate. Place the first layer on the plate.
2.  Pipe a damn of red buttercream around the edge of the cake. Spread a layer of blueberry curd in the middle. Top with the next layer and continue to repeat, topping off with the final layer of cake.
3.  Crumb coat the entire cake with red buttercream. Place in freezer for 5 minutes.
4.  Add another layer of red buttercream and smooth with a metal spatula dipped in hot water.
5.  Roll out fondant with a rolling pin and cut to different shapes. Place on cake and pipe details with yellow buttercream.

Verdict: The fiancĂ© was very pleased with the cake, which I made while he was out during his weekly boy’s night at Denny’s. We had his friends over for the cake and everyone though it was tasty. It was pretty moist, and was fluffy when it first came out of the oven. It got a bit compressed with the weight of the buttercream, but no one complained about that except for me. The blueberry lemon combo was perfection.

My thoughts on baking strips – I used them on this cake and it was a mistake, because it prolonged the baking time to 1 hour! I ended up taking them off at that point and it baked a lot quicker. My final verdict is that they should not be used for 5-inch cakes, though they work well for 6 inch and higher.