Monday, June 29, 2015

Vanilla Bean Flan Cake

Vanilla Bean Flan Cake 
Adapted from: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Vanilla Bean Cake
1/2 cup caramel sauce or topping (store bought or homemade)
1 box white or vanilla cake mix
1/2 tablespoon vanilla bean extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 12-cup bundt pan, taking care to get in all the nooks and crannies. Pour the caramel sauce into the bottom of the pan (the caramel sauce, if store-bought and thick, may need a quick warm-up in the microwave to be pourable).

In a medium bowl, make the boxed cake mix according to the instructions and then mix in the extract. 

Do not pour the entire batch of batter into the bundt pan. It will be too much. Pour about a third of it into the pan, evenly over the caramel. Refrigerate the rest of the cake batter to bake later.

2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk (when split: 1 can)*
2 1/2 cups whole milk (when split: 1 1/4 cups)
6 ounces cream cheese (when split: 3 ounces)
6 large eggs (when split: 3 whole eggs)
4 large egg yolks (when split: 2 egg yolks)
1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract (when split: 1/2 teaspoon)

*The original recipe says to add all the flan ingredients to a blender and process until smooth. I have a standard size (even a tad bit on the large size) blender and I have to process it in two batches because its too much. So split the above recipe in half, process in the blender, and then repeat.  

Slowly and carefully pour the flan mixture over the the cake batter. Place the cake pan in a large roasting pan. Place the roasting pan in the oven and carefully pour warm water into the roasting pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the bundt pan. Bake the cake until a toothpick comes out clean in both the cake and flan (or the flan registers 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer), about 75 minutes.

Remove the Bundt pan from the roasting pan (the easiest way for cleanup is to leave the roasting pan and water in the oven until it has cooled) and place it on a wire rack to cool completely. Refrigerate for 8 hours  or overnight.

To remove the cake from the pan, fill a large bowl with hot water and place the bottom third of the Bundt pan in the water for 1 minute. Carefully invert the cake onto a flat plate or cake platter - I do this by putting the cake platter or plate over the Bundt pan opening and then, holding onto the edges of both platter and cake pan, I gently turn the pan upside down while flipping the cake platter. Slowly remove the pan letting the caramel drizzle over the top of the cake. Serve chilled.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Pecan Pie Chocolate Truffles

Toasted pecans, brown sugar, caramel, AND milk chocolate! I added a swirl of dulce de leche to the center of these Pecan Pie Truffles. Nutty, gooey, salty and sweet!

Pecan Pie Chocolate Truffles
Adapted from: High Heels & Grills
Yield: 2 dozen truffles

Oat and Walnut Crust
2 1/2 cups pecans
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
3/8 cup corn syrup
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
Dulce De Leche, refrigerated jar, optional

12-16 oz. dipping chocolate {chocolate bark or Wilton cocoa candy melts}

Preheat the oven to 350º F. If your pecans are not toasted it, place them whole on a baking sheet (don't use a dark one). Lie them flat in one layer on the pan and bake for only 6-7 minutes. Do not leave the oven. The oils in the nuts heat up fast and they can burn very quickly. As soon as you smell them, take them out of the oven immediately. Allow to cool and then process in a blender until fine. Reserve 1/4 cup to sprinkle on top of the truffles at the end.

In a medium bowl, combine together the pecans, graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and salt.
Add maple syrup, corn syrup and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate mixture for 15 minutes.

Line a cookie sheet with wax paper. Roll mixture into 1 inch balls and place on wax paper; let truffles refrigerate for 30 minutes. Optional, add a 1/4 tsp of dulce de leche to the center before rolling into a ball.

Melt the dipping chocolate according to package directions. Coat the truffles with chocolate and return back to wax paper. Sprinkle some reserved pecans on top of the truffles before the chocolate hardens. Once chocolate hardens, serve and enjoy.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Caramelized Apple Cinnamon Cheesecake

Caramelized Apple Cinnamon Cheesecake
Adapted from: Taste of Home
Yield: One 9-inch cheesecake or 
4 mini cheesecakes (4.75 inch springform pans)

Oat and Walnut Crust
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 325º F. In a small bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add flour, oats, walnuts and cinnamon until well blended. Press onto the bottom and 1-1/2 inches up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan or 4 mini springform pans. Place on a baking sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until set. Cool on a wire rack.

Apple Cheesecake
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
3 eggs

Preheat the oven to 325º F.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in milk and apple juice concentrate until smooth. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined (batter will be thin). Pour into crust. Return pan to baking sheet.

Bake the 9 inch cheesecake for 40-45 minutes or until center is almost set. Bake the mini cheesecakes for 30 minutes, until the center is almost set. Cheesecake is done when the center will be firm on top (does not look wet) but is underdone underneath and still jiggles inside. Cool on a wire rack for 45 minutes. Carefully release springform pan and run a knife around the edges of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate until cold or overnight.

Caramelized Apples
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 cup thawed apple juice concentrate
3 large, tart, baking apples (such as Grannies, Pink Ladies or Fujis)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch salt

Whisk the cornstarch and juice concentrate in a small bowl or measuring cup until smooth. There may be small pieces of cornstarch that doesn't break up. Set aside. 

Peel the apples, remove cores and cut into 1/4 inch slices. In a 10 - 12" skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the sugar, cinnamon and salt, stirring until the mixture bubbles, then toss in the apples to coat them. Let the apples sit, undisturbed, for 1 minute to sear a bit, then toss them again, and let them sit another minute. Repeat this for about 10 minutes, until the apples are deeply golden and tender. Remove from the heat and scrape the apples and their juices into a bowl. Return skillet to medium heat and add the cornstarch and juice concentrate. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook and stir for 1 minute or until thickened. Mix in with apples. Do not top cold cheesecake with steaming hot apples unless you want a melted cheesecake. Either cool apples to room temperature and then arrange over cheesecake and then serve immediately or refrigerate for 1 hour and then serve chilled or if ready to serve right away, then top warm apples over sliced cheesecake servings.  Refrigerate leftovers. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

MLC Graduation Cake

What a pleasure to see the leaders of our community share their passion for service with our future youth leaders. Congratulations MLC!

These notes are just for me as I start to streamline this process and how much time it takes:

10 inch, 8 inch, 6 inch. (3 layers each)
One layer of white cake surrounded by two layers of dark chocolate fudge

Bake cakes and clean up: 2 hours
Level cakes, make frosting, frost all cakes, and clean up: 3 hours

Fondant cakes: 1.5 hours
Fondant decorations, including gold dust: 1.5 hours

4 batches frosting (16 sticks butter)

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Rustic Buttercream Cake - Two ways

Another practice cake. I took the bottom half of that naked cake and finished it with a rustic style buttercream, which is becoming really popular, especially with fresh flowers or berries on top. I think it's going to be become one of my favorite ways to finish a cake! 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Naked Cake with Fresh Blooms

Two firsts here, a naked cake and a fresh flower cake! I wish I could have gave this pretty cake to someone, I made it simply to practice. Lemon zest cake layers with fresh raspberry buttercream. This is a 4.75 inch and a 6 inch cake. 

I did not expect sticking flowers into cake to be so easy. I thought for sure there was going to be some technique to it, but as it turns it out, its all just fun. Shorter stems did seem to work better though. I used floral tape for the first time which was also surprisingly easy. Just cut your stems to be about an inch long and wrap them in tape. The blooms lasted alot longer than I thought they would too, at least 6-8 hours.  

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Pistachio Coconut Cupcakes

I wanted to try making this cake in cupcake form, and also try it with a coconut twist. Instead of using the ice water in the cake, I substituted coconut milk. Honestly it didn't make a difference, it tasted the same! So next time I would actually put some coconut extract in the cake. I also made the buttercream with some coconut milk and coconut extract but again, the coconut didn't really shine through. This recipe would be better if you're looking for an amazing coconut buttercream to put on top. Overall, these were still really yummy.

Pistachio Cupcakes with Coconut Buttercream
Adapted from: Joanne Eats Well with Others
Yield: 36 cupcakes

1 cup shelled pistachios, unsalted
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
¼ tsp cream of tartar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tbsp coconut extract

2 large egg yolks
1 cup canned (full fat) coconut milk, room temperature

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners. Try not to use dark pans because they brown the cake edges alittle more.

In the bowl of a food processor or in a blender, fully pulse the pistachios until most of it has a powder-like consistency. Remove 2 tbsp in a small bowl, and set aside. Transfer the rest of the pistachios to a large bowl and whisk together with the all purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a very clean bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk together the egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form, about 3-5 minutes. Transfer to another bowl and set aside.

Without needing to clean the bowl of the stand mixer, cream the butter in the stand mixer for 3 minutes, fitted with a paddle attachment. Add in the sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in the egg yolks and mix until just combined.

Turn the mixer to low.  Add the flour/pistachio mix to the batter in three additions, alternating with the coconut milk, mixing each time until just combined. Scrape down the bowl and mix on low speed for a few more seconds.

Fold the egg whites into the batter.

Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full (no more than that) and bake for 19-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely before frosting.

Coconut Buttercream
1½ cups sugar
⅓ cup flour
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup canned (full fat) coconut milk

1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, soft, cut into small pieces
2 tsp coconut extract

In a medium heavy saucepan, whisk together the flour and sugar. Add in the milk, coconut milk, and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture comes to a boil and then thickens, 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool 10 minutes.

Transfer the hot milk mixture to a stand mixer bowl and mix with the paddle attachment on high speed until cool, about 9 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter, a few pieces at a time, until it is full incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, a few minutes.

Add in the extract and continue mixing until combined. If the frosting is too soft, chill it and mix again.

Generously frosts 36 cupcakes.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Smores Cupcakes

Dark chocolate cake on a graham cracker crust topped with a marshmallow meringue frosting. These were well-received cupcakes. I think these would be perfect if I used regular cocoa. I love dark chocolate cake and even the recipe said to use dark cocoa but I think a less bittersweet flavor would scream Smores Cupcake. I've tried to make frosting before with marshmallow fluff/creme but this one was much better. Even though it doesn't use any marshmallows or vanilla extract, those egg whites whip up to such a beautiful flavor and texture that sends you to smores heaven. I especially loved how beautifully this frosting browned when I used my kitchen blow torch. Fun stuff!

So next time I would use this recipe for the cake and I would even throw in some semisweet chocolate chips on top of the crusts! That sounds delicious!

Smores Cupcakes
Adapted from: Life Love and Sugar
Yield: 17 cupcakes

1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
5 tbsp butter, melted

In a small bowl, combine crust ingredients and mix well. Press about 1 1/2 tbsp of the mixture into the bottom of each cupcake liner. Set aside. Reserve left over graham cracker mixture to garnish top of cupcakes.

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup boiling water

Preheat the oven to 325º F.

To make the cupcakes, add all dry ingredients to a large bowl and whisk together. Add egg, buttermilk and vegetable oil to the dry ingredients and mix well. Add vanilla and boiling water and mix well.

Pour batter into cupcake liners, filling a little more than half way, and bake for about 21 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Then remove from cupcake tin and allow to fully cool.

Marshmallow Meringue Frosting
Yield: generously frosts 20 cupcakes

4 eggs whites
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tarter
Chocolate sauce or melted chocolate chips
graham cracker crumbs

Combine egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in a metal, heatproof mixer bowl of a stand mixer. Place over a saucepan with simmering water on medium heat (double broiler method). Make sure the mixer bowl does not touch the simmering water.

Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, 3 to 4 minutes. You'll know it's ready when you press the mixture between two fingers and you do not feel any grains of sugar.

Using the whisk attachment, beat on low speed, gradually increasing to high, until stiff, glossy peaks form, 5 to 7 minutes.

Ice cupcakes and if desired, use a kitchen blow torch to brown the tops. Garnish with chocolate sauce and graham cracker crumbs.

Must be piped right away or within 20-30 minutes before icing begins to deflate. Cupcakes can be left out unrefrigerated for a few days. This frosting is delicate and may melt if left out in warm temperatures. Browning the tops with a blow torch however will help keep its shape, and yet still be gooey inside.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Coconut cupcakes with Coconut Buttercream

I've been wanting to master the coconut cupcake forever and now I can finally take it off the list. These are not only some of the best cupcakes I've ever made, but they are also just one of the best things I've ever baked. They were so moist and soft, and the coconut flavor shined through perfectly. The buttercream was insanely fluffy, it was hard not to just eat it off a spoon.

Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Buttercream
Adapted from: Cooking Classy
Yield: 40 cupcakes

1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

6 large eggs, at room temperature, yolks and whites separated
1/8 tsp cream of tartar

2 cups (396g) granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup canola oil

1/2 tablespoon coconut extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups well shaken canned coconut milk, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350º F. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners and set aside.

Sift cake and all purpose flour into a large mixing bowl, then add baking powder and salt and whisk mixture for 30 seconds or until thoroughly combined. 

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, whip 6 egg whites with cream of tartar on medium-high speed until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Transfer to another bowl and set aside.

In the same bowl of the electric stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, blend together granulated sugar, butter and canola oil on medium speed until well combined. Add in only 2 egg yolks, one at a time, and mix until combined after each addition. Then mix in coconut and vanilla extracts. 

Working in three separate batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture, begin by adding 1/3 of the flour mixture. Mix until combined and then add half of the coconut milk and mixing just until combined. Repeat process.  Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally to fully mix everything.

Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold 1/3 of the egg whites into cake batter at a time and fold just combined after each addition (don't over-mix and deflate egg whites). 

Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling only 2/3 full (they will rise). Bake only 15-16 minutes. You will notice the tops may still look wet or underdone but if you insert a toothpick into the center of cake, it comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan 10 minutes then remove from pans and cool completely before frosting.

Coconut Buttercream
Yield: frosts 36 cupcakes

2 cups (4 sticks) butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons coconut milk

2 teaspoons coconut extract
shredded coconut, for top of cupcakes

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed (I use "4" on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale & creamy.
Add remaining 3 ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 5 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy and fluffy. Pipes the best if you use it right away.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Vanilla Chai Spiced Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream

I made these deliciously spiced cupcakes twice. The first batch I made with cake flour. They came out really light, and you have to be careful not to overbake them even the slightest so they remain moist and tender. Then, I made them again with all-purpose flour. They still came out light and fluffy, but I would say the perfect texture would be right in between these two. I modified the recipe below so that its half and half. If you don't have both flours, they still come out great when just using one. Just don't over bake these tender cupcakes!! I like how you can still taste a hint of vanilla and also the chai spices.

Vanilla Chai Spiced Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream
Adapted from: Taste and Tell Blog via Taste of Home
Yield: 16 cupcakes

½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon cardamom
½ teaspoon ground cloves
⅛ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup sugar
½ cup butter, at room temperature
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup cake flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour

1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
⅔ cup milk

Preheat the oven to 350º F. Place cupcake liners in 16 muffin cups.

In a small bowl, combine the ground ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and black pepper. Set aside.

 In another bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, salt and 1½ teaspoons of the reserved spice mixture. 

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the sugar and the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and the vanilla, scraping down the bowl as needed. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk, beating just until combined after each addition.

Fill the prepared cups ⅔ full of the batter. Bake for 16-17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes the remove from the pans to cool completely on a cooling rack.

Cinnamon Buttercream
3 sticks + 3 tablespoons butter, softened
3 cups + 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream

1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon clear vanilla
Cinnamon, to taste (sprinkle it in alittle at a time, I probably used 1/8 - 1/4 tsp total)

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed (I use "4" on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale & creamy.
Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 5 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy and fluffy. Pipes the best if you use it right away. Yield: generously frosts 18 cupcakes.

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