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Archive for the ‘Cakes’ Category

My friend Tori is truly one of my foodie soul mates.  The yin to my yang, she dominates in the savory department while my strength lies in the sweet…I dare say that together we put out quite delicious meals.  So of course, it seemed only fitting that I bring a birthday cake to her 30th birthday celebration this past weekend.

A milestone birthday demanded a special effort, and when Tori suggested I give this coconut rum cake recipe a try it

Cake soaked in coconut milk

seemed like the perfect challenge.  That was until I read the entire paragraph explaining how to extract the meat out of a fresh coconut (there are hammers and screw drivers involved).  No easy task but well worth the effort, I was thisclose to calling around to find me a coconut when it dawned on me that there may be another way….indeed, one quick call to Whole Foods confirmed that they do indeed carry fresh coconut meat in their produce section – yet another plus of living in the tropics!

Although relatively easy, this cake does have quite a few steps and takes a few hours to assemble, so make sure you give yourself enough time.  Its presentation is gorgeous and it was quite good, however it lacked the punch of flavor that I was expecting (and also, to be fair, I am not a huge coconut or rum fan and tremendously critical of my desserts – everyone else seemed to think it was superb).  Post-cake, the consensus seemed to be that making an additional cake and layering a lemon curd or something similar in between the two might just be the solution….I’ll have to give it a try someday and let you know.  Personally I thought the frosting was too rummy (is that possible?) and not thick enough…I’ll most definitely have to play around with the proportions of those ingredients (perhaps more cream cheese and powdered sugar, a little less rum and heavy cream?).

Either way it was a good excuse to try something new and the party was quite the good time as well.  Happy Birthday Tori! xo

Ingredients

Cake:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 large eggs plus 3 large yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3/4 cup well-stirred sweetened cream of coconut (I used coconut milk)

Coconut Slivers:

  • 1 medium coconut
  • 2 tsp confectioners sugar

Icing:

  • 3 tbsp cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tbsp well-stirred sweetened cream of coconut
  • 1 tbsp dark rum (I used Meyers)
  • 1/8 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar

Instructions

Cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the middle.  Lightly butter a 9 inch round cake pan, line it with parchment paper on the bottom, and then lightly butter the parchment paper.  Flour lightly and set aside.

Two cakes are ALWAYS better than one! Birthday cake shot & coco rum cake yumm!

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.  Whisk together the whole eggs and yolks, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl until combined.  Gradually add in the flour mixture until well combined, and then whisk the butter until just combined.  Pour the batter into the cake pan and rap on the counter several times to expel the air bubbles.  Bake the cake until golden brown and cake starts to pull away from the side of the pan – about 45 minutes (mine only took 40).

Remove the cake from the oven and set it on a rack to cool for 10 minutes (leave the oven on).  Next, invert the cake onto the rack and remove the parchment paper, allowing the cake to cool for another 10 minutes.  While still warm, generously brush the top and sides of the cake with the 3/4 cup coconut milk, allowing it to soak in before brushing more on.  Let the cake cool completely.

Coconut Slivers (if you don’t have fresh coconut meat already prepared for you):  Pierce the softest eye of the coconut shell with a small screwdriver and drain out and discard the liquid (or drink it as it’s quite yummy and good for you!).  Bake the coconut in a shallow baking pan for 15 minutes (leave the oven on).  Break the shell with a hammer and then pry the flesh from the shell with a screwdriver.

Thinly shave (preferable) or slice enough to measure two cups and then toss with the confectioners sugar.  Spread the coconut shavings on a baking sheet in one layer and bake until just dry but not golden (some tips may color), 5 to 10 minutes.  Cool coconut completely (it will crisp as it cools).  Shave and bake remaining coconut with more confectioners sugar to serve on the side, or freeze for another use.

Icing:  Beat together cream cheese, cream of coconut, rum, vanilla, and 2 tbsp cream with an electric mixer until smooth, then beat in confectioners sugar.  Icing should be smooth and slightly runny; stir in remaining tbsp cream if necessary.

Smooth icing over top of cooled cake, allowing some to drip over the side, then top with coconut slivers.

*Notes: Cake can be baked 1 day ahead and soaked with cream of coconut, then kept in an airtight container at room temperature.  Cake can be iced 2 hours ahead.  Also, the coconut slivers can be made 1 day ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.

Recipe from Gourmet Magazine, September 2007

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Quick, easy, aromatic and moist (i.e. amazingly delicious), this cake was a favorite the first time around, just as Nigella promised.  Made with basic ingredients everyone has in their pantry, it’s the perfect go-to dessert when you don’t have much time or can’t make it to the store.  What I love most is the versatility….change it up with different preserves, serve it with fresh fruit, creme fraiche, ice cream…mmmmmmmmm.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces (I used chocolate chips)
  • 1 1/3 cups good, thin-cut marmalade (or any other flavor jam you like – I used apricot, Nigella recommends raspberry or prune puree)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup self-rising cake flour
  • 8 inch springform pan, buttered and floured

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put the butter in a heavy-bottom saucepan over a low heat to melt.  When it’s nearly completely melted, stir in the chocolate.  Leave for a moment to begin softening, then take the pan off the heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the butter and chocolate are smooth and melted.  Now add the marmalade, sugar, salt and eggs.  Stir with your wooden spoon and when all is pretty well amalgamated, pour into a mixing bowl and beat in the flour bit by bit.  Put into your prepared pan and and bake for about 50 minutes or until a cake tester or skewer comes out clean.  Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before turning out.

You can eat it slightly warm or cold.  To dress it up a bit, dust lightly with confectioners sugar pushed through a super fine strainer.  Serves 6.

*Nigella suggests that if you use prune puree, serve it with creme fraiche to which you’ve added a few crucial drops of Armagnac.  You can also had a slug to the cake, or just pour a little over as soon as you unmold it.

This recipe is out of ‘How To Be A Domestic Goddess’ by Nigella Lawson and you can buy it on amazon HERE.

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My birthday is tomorrow, but my boyfriend got me my cake 2 days early, which I was really excited about. It is a raspberry white chocolate mousse cake. Light, airy, fruity, and delicious, it is the best birthday cake I have EVER had. It tastes like it should be wedding cake! For any of you in the Denver metro area, the bakery it is from is called La Patisserie Francaise. It’s located in Arvada and it is definitely worth the trip. They have breakfast items, cakes, cookies, cupcakes, pastries, etc. You can check out their website by clicking here!

Look at all of that yumminess on the inside!

 

Mike knows one of the owners so she threw in these treats for free!

 

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Dusting the top with powdered sugar makes it look quite beautiful!

As my Tuesday work-day wore down, I was informed that Sky (one of our friends who is a wine distributor) had some “crazy stupid expensive bottles of wine open” from a tasting earlier that day, which needed to be consumed ASAP.  I wasted no time RSVP’ing to what I could see was quickly turning into another fantastic dinner party at the D’Olier residence.  Because drinks and food were covered, I offered to bring dessert and based on rumors that there would be a to-die-for dessert wine that needed some chocolate goodness to go with it, I went home on a mission.

I bee-lined for Nigella Lawson’s “How to Be a Domestic Goddess” and found  an entire section dedicated to chocolate.  Cookies, cupcakes, brownies – no, not right.  And then there was chocolate mousse cake.  Yes, yes yes.  I rushed out of the house and $40 later came home with slabs of gourmet chocolate etc. and got to work.  With the ipod blarring and my mixer whipping eggs and chocolate into moussey glory, I discovered that making this cake is quite possibly the most cathartic activity I’ve experienced in a long time – much needed in the midst of a very crazy week!

With minutes to spare before Tori picked me and Carol up, I had just enough time to wrangle the cake out of the water bath I baked it in (note to self: buy a turkey baster asap) and onto a tray for careful transport.  Following a delicious Greek dinner from Olive Tree in Kahala and some AH-Mazing wines, it was finally time for dessert – which between the wine and the cake turned into some kind of wonderful I never even knew existed.

Whenever I make something for the first time I am always super nervous to serve it – and because the cake had risen

Mmmmmm....SO delish. Although I clearly need to invest in and carry around a camera so I can properly capture these moments.

more than I had expected I was a little worried that it had overcooked and dried out.  Not so fast.  With fresh, sliced strawberries (with a little bit of sugar on them) and vanilla ice cream standing by, I sliced into what is quite possibly the most moist, perfectly balanced (between light and airy and ooey gooey fudgy), decadent chocolate cake I have ever seen.

As I served, Sky unleashed his perfect-for-chocolate dessert wine which is apparently impossible to find, prepared in a crazy cool way (freezing the skins without freezing the pulp anyone?), and hand carried back from one of his trips to Italy.  Liquid heaven in my mouth – the perfect amount of sweet, not too syrupy, it was mind boggling how good it was (I must get my sticky little fingers on at least a case of that stuff like yesterday).  And, much to my delight, the cake tasted even better than it looked – evidenced by Tori who sat there unabashedly licking her bowl when she was done, and Carol (the chocolate cake queen) simultaneously serving herself seconds.

The next night, as we polished off our portion of the leftover cake, Carol announced to me that she thinks it’s going to be hard for me to ever top this – and that the only thing left to do is make it again and again – like every single week preferably 🙂  Not gonna lie, it may just have to happen.

Nigella’s Chocolate Mousse Cake

Ingredients:

  • 11 ounces best bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 ounces best milk chocolate
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 8 large eggs, separated
  • scant 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 9 inch springform pan
  • heavy duty, extra wide aluminum foil

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and put the kettle on to boil.

Line the inside of the springform pan with foil, making sure you press the foil well into the sides and bottom of the pan so that it forms a smooth surface.  This will prevent water getting into the cake when it is cooked in its water bath.

Just out of the oven.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a microwave or double boiler, and let it cool.  In another bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugars until very thick and pale, as creamy as mayonnaise; the mixture should form and fall in ribbons when you lift up the whisk.  Stir in the vanilla and salt and then the cooled chocolate mixture.  In another, large bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form.  Lighten the chocolate mixture by briskly beating in a dollop of the egg whites before gently folding in the rest of them.

Pour the cake batter into the foil-lined springform, which you have placed in a large roasting pan.  Add hot water from the recently boiled kettle to come about 1 inch up the sides of the cake pan and carefully put the roasting pan with its cargo into the oven.

Cook for 50 minutes – 1 hour (I stopped at 50 minutes).  The inside of the cake will be damp and mousse-like, but the top should look cooked and dry.  Let it cool completely on a cooling rack before releasing it from the pan.  This calls for a little bit of patience, because you will need to peel the foil gently away from the sides.  Just go slowly and remember that this is a very damp cake, and you won’t be able to prise it away from it’s foil-lined base – though it’s easy enough to tear off excess foil once you’ve set the cake on its plate.  Dust with confectioners sugar if you want, and serve with creme fraiche and maybe some raspberries (I went with fresh strawberries and vanilla ice cream).

Enjoy!!

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I stumbled across this recipe today off of a blog called Eat and Be Happy, and decided to post it to try at some point.  Obsessed with all banana related foods, this Banana Streusel Cake is right up my alley.

~

Banana Streusel Cake [adapted from Flo Braker’s Baking For All Occasions]

Ingredients
2 cups cake flour
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
4 large ripe bananas, mashed
3 tbsp milk
1 tbsp rum
100g unsalted butter, chopped and slightly softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature

Streusel
12 tbsp cake flour
6 tbsp packed light brown sugar
90g unsalted butter, chopped and slightly softened
1/2 tsp cinnamon

  1. Preheat the oven to 175C. Line an 8″ square pan with foil, grease generously and set aside.
  2. To make streusel Combine the flour, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Using your fingers, rub the butter in until a mixture forms. Set aside.
  3. To make cake Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, soda and salt into a bowl and set aside. Combine the mashed bananas, milk and rum together and set aside.
  4. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy and creamy. Add the egg in, followed by the banana mixture, mixing well. Fold the flour mixture in, in two batches, until the mixture just comes together.
  5. Tip the batter out into the prepared pan. Smooth the surface with a spatula and sprinkle the streusel evenly over the batter.
  6. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 40 to 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out with crumbs clinging. Serves 12

† Original recipe called for 1 cup of caster sugar. The amount of brown sugar I used yield a cake that allowed the sweetness of the bananas to shine through. Add more sugar if you like your cakes sweet.
† Batter will looked curdled after you add the banana mixture. Have faith and keep going.

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Yesterday wasn’t exactly my day.  I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and my mood carried with me throughout the rest of the day, leaving me, at 4:45 p.m., browsing cooking blogs for some inspiration.  I came across a gold mine of scrumptious looking recipes on a blog called Almost Bourdain, and just as I copied, pasted, and emailed the last recipe to myself, my day changed in an instant.

I finished up a few things and headed home, in total awe as to how one chance encounter can lead to new opportunities, how one simple comment can lead to the discovery of unexpected connections…at how completely and utterly small the world is.  Almost on auto pilot I ended up at the grocery store, in the baking aisle.  All I could think about was the orange cake I had come across earlier, and before I knew it I was at home softening butter and practicing my math skills converting the ingredients.

Baking has always been my outlet and tonight was no exception.  Tired but with work to do, I chose instead to bake my cake and let the weirdness of the day fall away.  The result was a much improved mood; oh and a beautiful, moist, citrusy, buttery to-die-for cake that I was tempted to eat in its entirety.

Perfect for an end of the day pick-me-up, brunch, high tea or dessert, this one is a must try for sure.  Here is the recipe, adapted (yet again!) from the one posted here on Almost Bourdain.

Sicilian Orange Cake Recipe
(Adapted from Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escape)
Makes 9 1/2 inch cake, to serve about 8

Ingredients

1/2 lb (2 sticks) lightly salted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
1 cup caster sugar (superfine baking sugar – you can find it in the baking aisle with the rest of the sugars)
4 medium eggs (I used large and it turned out just fine)
1 1/2 tsp finely grated orange zest (I love orange zest, so I used a packed tablespoon instead)
1 cup self raising flour
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
For the icing:
1 cup icing sugar (I used powdered sugar)
5 tsp freshly squeezed orange juice
Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 345 degrees. Grease and line a 9 1/2 inch clip-sided round cake with non-stick baking paper.

    Because I was having trouble getting the parchment paper to stay, I buttered the entire pan slightly, helping it to stick. Now that I think about it, a simple clip until the batter was poured would have worked also...In my defense, I do think the butter was smart, as you want to take the entire thing out of the pan after it's cooled without it sticking. Food for thought!

  2. Using an electric whisk, cream the butter and sugar together for 4-5 minutes until very pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating very well between each one, if necessary adding a spoonful of flour with the last egg to prevent the mixture from curdling. Beat in the orange zest. Add the flour all at once and mix in well, then slowly mix in the orange juice.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 40-50 minutes (I left it in for 40 and it was perfect, but 45 would have made it hold up a bit better I think) or until a skewer, inserted into the center of the cake, comes out clean. If it starts to brown too quickly, cover loosely with a sheet of lightly buttered foil. (*Note: After leaving it in for 30 minutes I found that it was browning rather quickly.  I simply used a napkin to smear a thin layer of butter on a piece of foil slightly bigger than the pan and loosely laid it across the top of the pan while it baked.  I recommend checking it at about 30 minutes and make your own judgment as to whether or not your cake needs it.
  4. Leave the cake, in its tin, to cool on a wire rack, then carefully remove the sides and base of the tin and peel off the paper. Put it onto a serving plate.
  5. For the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and stir in the orange juice until you have a spreadable consistency. Spread it over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides, and leave to set. Serve cut into slices, and store any leftovers in an airtight container.

Tip: Why not turn this Sicilian Orange Cake into these cute little Orange Cupcakes?!

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Photo Credit: © Tina Rupp

Ever since I spent a summer living in France, right around the corner from this to die for tart bakery, I have been obsessed with clafoutis.  Somewhere between pudding and cake & filled with fresh fruit, I could eat the entire thing in one sitting.  The real question is how have I not made one since I got back from France in 2005???

My craving for clafoutis reappeared when my mom gave me my Julia Childs cookbook a few months ago and finally, after finding a delicious looking recipe for raspberry clafoutis AND a dinner party that was in need of a dessert, I gave in and threw one together last night.  Traditionally made with cherries, this raspberry version was perfection.  This is one worth trying.

Here is the recipe from Food & Wine.  Slightly different from Julia’s, I will have to give that one a try sometime very soon.

Ingredients

  1. 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  2. 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  3. Salt
  4. 3 large eggs
  5. 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  6. Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  7. 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
  8. 1 1/2 pints raspberries (3 cups)
  9. Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 9-inch gratin dish (I used an 8.5″ spring form pan that worked perfectly). In a bowl, whisk the flour, sugar and a pinch of salt. Whisk in the eggs, butter and lemon zest until smooth. Add the milk and whisk until light and very smooth, about 3 minutes. Pour the batter into the gratin dish and top with the raspberries.
  2. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the clafoutis is set and golden. Let cool slightly. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, cut into wedges and serve.

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