Saturday, December 24, 2011

Baby J's Cake

One of my book club friends had a baby this past May. Unfortunately the majority of us were not able to make it to her baby shower and with everyone's busy schedules we finally were able to get together this month. We threw her a small surprise shower during our gathering. Everyone brought something and my contribution was dessert.  I kept it simple by making a Yellow Butter Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream. To jazz it up, I melted chocolate chips over a bain-marie and drizzled them randomly over the cake. To personalize it, I used chocolate chips to monogram his name. The best thing about this book club meeting was that baby Julien was actually there. Although he couldn't have a piece, we were all too happy to eat it in his honor lol!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Another Dulce de Leche Cake

So, it looks like this is one of favorite cakes. I LOVE caramel and combined with the smooth, buttery taste of Swiss Meringue, what's not to love?!?! I made this for my friend's coworker's birthday. The caramel was so easy to make. I used 1 cup of sugar, 6 tablespoons butter and about 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream. But, I had a nasty reminder of how hot and dangerous caramel can be. I stupidly swiped my finger across the back of the wooden spoon I used! It was so HOT, the burn actually turned into a blister within a few minutes. Guess I got a little too eager trying to taste it.  Other than that, making this cake was such a pleasure and I look forward to making it again soon:)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Rosie Pound Cake

I always make this cake for my favorite aunt, Rosie. She likes simple desserts without too much fluff and fuss.  This is a recipe I clipped from a can of Carnation milk over 15 years ago and saved in a journal. I found it last year and remembered how much I had liked the cake and decided to make it my staple pound cake recipe. It's a simple pound cake recipe using a small amount of evaporated milk in place of regular milk. The batter comes out thicker than a regular yellow cake but once baked it has a rich but not heavy taste. I like to bake it in a tube pan and just top it with confectioner's sugar. It's a great after dinner treat or even a breakfast companion to a great cup of coffee.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Chocolate Chip Vanilla Birthday Cake

One of my dearest friends and biggest supporters celebrated her birthday yesterday. She has always encouraged me in the 20 years that we've known each other so I wanted to gift her a cake.  I couldn't remember if she liked chocolate or not so I went with my standard yellow cake recipe. For the frosting,this time I went with Italian Meringue because I'd had a Swiss Meringue disaster. It came out soupy. I continued whipping it, beating it, refrigerating it, rewhipping it....But, nothing worked, so I had to dump it and start all over again:(

Last year when I first started experimenting with frosting, Italian Meringue was the first one I tried. I watched this Warren Brown video and it came out great. Later on I saw a Martha Stewart recipe of Swiss Meringue and decided to try it. The ingredients and results are virtually the same, it's just a slightly different process. I personally prefer the Italian Meringue because I don't have to stand over a double boiler whisking the sugar and egg whites. It's easier to me to make the sugar syrup and pour it into the egg whites while being whisked by my KitchenAid. Today, I used a modified version of Martha Stewart's Italian Meringue recipe. I just reduced the amount of butter from 4 sticks to 2. It comes out tasting just as great with a lot less fat and calories. I decided to dust it with cocoa powder, dot it with chocolate chips and do a chocolate chip monogram of her first initial.

I'm blessed to have an abundance of great friends so I was extra excited to make this cake as a symbol of gratitude for her friendship to me. Happy Birthday Mariama! Luv u girl:)

Caramel Birthday Cake

I lost my baking mojo for a little bit but I finally got it back! My mom asked me to make a birthday cake for her friend so I went with something simple that I thought most people would like- a yellow cake which I made using buttermilk and 4 eggs. Then I made a caramel sauce for the center layer.
Lastly, I made Swiss Meringue Buttercream to frost it and piped on shells in green. Unfortunately my camera was M.I.A for a while so I had to be creative and use my web cam. I didn't realize the writing would show up backwards :-( but the cake said "Joyeux Anniversaire."  My mom's friends and guests loved the cake and the next day I went over for my piece and was very pleased. I love Meringue frosting! It's so much lighter, fluffier than regular buttercream. it reminds me of whipped cream. Thank God for the MOJO:)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Brown Sugar Oatmeal Raisin Bread

I haven't posted in a long time for a few reasons. One, I was busy with school and second, because I had made some of the same things. Didn't want to be redundant in my posts. It's like posting pics of yourself on FB with the same outfit over and over again *thumbs downs* lol!  I love making bread but it can be so time consuming.  This is a recipe I've wanted to make for a while. I had to modify quite a bit in terms of the amount of flour and I also reduced the sugar. When I first followed the recipe exactly, the dough was extremely wet and sticky.  I ended up adding about another 3 cups in order for the dough to be pliable. Thankfully I'd made bread before and knew that the dough just didn't look and feel right.  Once I had the right amount of flour, the rest was pretty simple.  For me, letting the dough rise is the most time consuming part, followed by the cleanup. Other than that having my KitchenAid makes breadmaking fairly easy.  I only got a couple of pics but hopefully soon my photographer friend will be taking more professional looking pics for me:)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

S'mores Brownie Cupcakes

Although I haven't posted since last month I have definitely still been baking. I've been making mostly the flavors that I've already posted about:
Red Velvet is always the #1 request!
But, this cold winter had me thinking of campfire S'mores.  After trying a mini S'mores cupcake from a local bakery I began searching for the perfect recipe.  I adapted this one from
Homemade by Holman.  I used a little less sugar but added more cocoa powder and more marshmallows and omitted the frosting.  I left out the frosting because I've also been craving brownies and was not in a frosting kind of mood. Plus, after tasting one, it was already PERFECT!! This is now ONE of my favorite cupcakes! It tasted like a a cakey brownie with a little marshmallow sweetness and gooey-ness inside. 
The graham cracker crumb bottom gave a nice crunchy bite. So, if you're a chocolate lover, this is definitely a "must-try" recipe. It's so rich and moist. I guarantee you will not be disappointed!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Dulce de Leche "Love" Cake

Being that I have such a sweet tooth, I like most desserts. My top favorite flavors are definitely chocolate, vanilla, caramel, coconut and strawberry.  I think most people like caramel and I love the versatility of it.  I actually saved some of the leftover to add to my hot cocoa and and lattes:)  I made this Dulce de Leche cake using a combination and modification of Williams-Sonoma and Toba Garrett's yellow cake.  After much experimenting I find that yellow/vanilla just doesn't taste as good and moist if you don't use at least 4 eggs and buttermilk. Toba's recipe actually calls for 5.  For the caramel, I boiled 1 cup of sugar and a 1/4 cup of water until it turned amber (no stirring).  Then, I added a cup of heavy cream and stirred constantly with a wooden spoon.  Once the cakes were completely cooled, I spread a thick layer in between the layers.
For the frosting, I made my favorite- Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  I reduced the amount of granulated sugar by almost 1/4 cup and instead beat in 2 tablespoons of the caramel.  I LOVE Swiss Meringue because it's so light and fluffy and not too sweet. I frosted the cake and drizzled lukewarm caramel over it. Piped on a heart in honor of Valentine's Day.  I got amazing feedback about this cake and look forward to making it again.  

Happy Valentine's Day:)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Caramel Brownies

As stated in my last post, one of the things I would not want to live without is chocolate.  I LOVE chocolate! So, I've been craving brownies for a while but I'm kind of particular when it comes to them. I want the perfect balance between moist and cake-y and rich and fudge-y.  After looking at different recipes for a while, I went with this one with just a few modifications on the caramel. I made my own using sugar, a little water and heavy cream and just drizzled on top after baking. Overall, these brownies tasted just OK to me, too dense and not cake-y enough. Not quite what I was looking for but the flavor is definitely more developed the next day.  So the hunt for the perfect brownie recipe continues....

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My Bread Fix

There are some things I hope to never have to give up- chocolate, rice, and bread.  I'm a proud carb head and would more than likely give up all meats before giving up carbs.  Ever since I started making bread last summer, I have not purchased any store-made bread. It is so much more enjoyable for me to make my own with ingredients I know are fresh.  Recently, I decided to step it up and actually bought bread flour. Boy, does it make a difference! I buy the organic bread flour by King Arthur which I generally find at Whole Foods. I slightly modified a recipe (see below), to add in a little more whole grain and reduce the sugar, from one of the best blogs for bread.  I've made it with the original recipe as well and it is DELICIOUS! Had 2 slices with toast and a bowl of Farina. Life is good:)

After kneading the dough for 5 minutes in my Kitchen-Aid, I let it rise for an hour in a greased bowl.
Put it on a floured piece of parchment paper and divided it in half. (Had to add a little more flour because the dough was too sticky.)
Degassed it by rolling it out into a rectangle.
Tightly rolled up to fit into a loaf pan.
Pinched the seams and placed in greased loaf pan.
Let rise for an hour then brushed with egg wash.
Baked for 30 minutes. Loosely covered with foil after 20 minutes.
Let cool on rack for about 10 minutes.

Ingredients modified from Cooking Bread:
  •  cup water (lukewarm 110 - 115F)
  • 1 cup buttermilk (room temp.)
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4  + 1 tbsp cup sugar 
  • 2 large eggs (beaten)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons instant yeast

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Birthday Cakes

I celebrated my birthday this weekend and as strange as it may seem to some, I made my own birthday cake.  I wanted my cake EXACTLY the way I wanted it!  Plus, it was nice to share another homemade treat with my friends.  A bunch of my girlfriends and I got manicures and martinis then went to have dinner at an Indian restaurant.  We had a great time and I felt extra special from all the love shown to me:)  Here are some more pics of the cake I made (Chocolate with Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream):
It was so moist!

While I was planning my own birthday celebration, I got a request to make 2 red velvet cakes for a sweet sixteen.  I stayed up all night making these and they came out great!
Red Velvet with Cream Cheese Buttercream

I love birthdays:)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Strawberry Cupcakes

My neighbor has been asking if I could make a cupcake with strawberries. Since I've been having great luck finding really juicy and sweet strawberries at Whole Foods, I decided to give it a try.  I made the cupcake using a Vanilla Buttermilk batter.  In the meantime, I chopped up fresh strawberries, mixed with a little granulated sugar and let sit for about an hour.  The frosting I made was vanilla cream cheese buttercream with a little bit of the syrup that came off the strawberries.  Last, I topped it with the chopped strawberries.  I love everything about these cupcakes.  The cake was nice and light, the frosting was rich but not too sweet and the strawberries were sweet and fresh tasting.  These are officially in my top 5 favorites!
Decided to pipe roses using the same frosting.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Marzipan and Modeling Chocolate

It's been a while since my last posting.  In that time I took a class with Master Cake Designer Toba Garrett at Institute of Culinary Education.  We worked with different types of buttercream, marzipan and modeling chocolate.  I had a tough time with the modeling chocolate but it was my very favorite part of the class.  I'm definitely planning on practicing more so I can master it.
Before adding the finishing touches.

My first chocolate modeling experience. Not too shabby;)
Making the ribbon wasn't nearly as tough but I just positioned my rose in such a way that I could hide the imperfections.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Cookies n Cream Truffles

I've been wanting to experiment with truffles for some time.  I'm a fan of any bite-sized desserts.   I made the batter and frosting from this post from scratch.  I got great feedback from these and will definitely be adding this to my "list."
Baked the batter in 2 8 inch pans

Let cool completely. Then break into small crumb-like pieces using pastry blender.

Mixed in frosting then scooped out using small ice cream scoop.

Shaped into balls.

Refrigerated for 15 minutes.

Used Candy Melts from Michael's and melted using double boiler method. ** I won't be using these again because they're a little too sweet and contain artificial ingredients.

 Dipped cake balls into melted Candy Melts. Allowed to cool on wax paper.