Friday, November 13, 2009

Baking Challenge #9: Pumpkin Cookies

Here's a really simple and fast pumpkin cookie recipe from Better Homes and Gardens: Homemade Cookies Cookbook. The cookies turn out ultra soft and delicious.

Pumpkin Cookies

2 cups shortening
2 cups sugar
1 16-ounce can pumpkin
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp salt
2 cups raisins
1 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)

Preheat oven at 350˚ F.
Cream Shortening and sugar. Add pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla and beat well. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, next 5 ingredients, and salt. Add to batter and mix well. Stir in raisins and pecans. Drop rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Makes about 6 dozen or if you make your cookies bigger, it makes about 3 dozen.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Baking Challenge #8: Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

WHOOPIE!!! This recipe comes from the book, Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. This recipe was OH so yummy! The only snag that I ran into was with the cream cheese filling. It was a bit too runny even after adding some more powdered sugar to thicken it up and being chilled in the fridge. The evidence is in the lovely photo I took. However it still tasted amazing. If you have a cream cheese or vanilla frosting that you like that is thicker, try using that instead.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
with Cream Cheese Filling

Makes about 12 Whoopie Pies

Ingredients for the Pumpkin Whoopie Cookies:
3 cups all- purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbs cinnamon
1 tbs ginger
1 tbs cloves
2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
3 cups chilled pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients for the cream cheese filling:
3 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves together and set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix the brown sugar and oil together until combined. Add the pumpkin puree and mix to combine thoroughly. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.

Sprinkle the four mixture over the pumpkin mixture and mix until completely combined.

Use a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism to drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. See Ex. 1. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies are just cracking on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cookie comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool.

For the cream cheese filling, sift the confectioner's sugar into a medium bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until it is completely smooth. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined.

Add the confectioner's sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. Be careful not to over beat the filling or it will lose structure. Cover the bowl tightly and put in the refrigerator.

To assemble the whoopies, turn half of the cooled cookie upside down and drop a dollop of filling onto the cookie. Then place another cookie on top. Place the whoopies in the fridge for about 30 minutes to firm up before serving.

****These are also great as cookies without the filling. Beware, it is mighty hard to eat just one.

Schubert's, San Francisco

521 Clement St.
San Francisco, CA 94118

Cakes tried: Princess and Neopolitan

Overall Reaction: Really hard to pick out a cake because they all look so amazing!

They have been making the Neopolitan cake since 1911! The cake was made up of layers of chocolate cake, white cake, raspberry whipped cream and topped with chocolate ganache. The cake was light, airy and fluffy and the raspberry whipped cream was wonderful. The fancy embellishments on the top made the cake slice extra special.

I was immediately drawn to the Princess cake with its lime green pistachio marzipan icing. Perfect for a tea party, the cake was layers of white cake, whipped cream and raspberry and kirsch custard filling. All the flavors worked harmoniously together and the textures were lovely throughout. Every bite was delicious!

My words of advice: If you are looking for a great place to get a cake (besides from me of course), look no further. All the cakes are decorated wonderfully. Also, most of the cakes you can buy just a slice, which is what I did, perfect for the afternoon sweet tooth or take home for later to share with that special someone.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fall Weddings

I had two weddings back to back this fall. One was for my dear friend Pearlin. Her and John were married September 26th at a winery in Temecula. Their wedding was Indian themed inspired and very beautiful.

The second wedding was for Annie and Sean who were married in Napa on October 2nd at Harvest Inn. Four different types of cupcakes were on the menu for their wedding along with a small cake for them to cut during their reception.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Baking Challenge #7: Pumpkin Pecan Cupcakes

I thought that last week after I got back from Holland I would be able to start baking but then I came down with the flu. Blah! This puts me even more behind on my challenges, I better get crack'n!

This recipe is for all you pumpkin lovers! It's a simple recipe from the book Cupcakes by Shelly Kaldunsky.

Pumpkin Pecan Cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground allspice
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (can use ground nutmeg too)
1 cup canned pumpkin purée
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup toasted pecans coarsely chopped

Set oven to 350˚F.placing the chopped pecans on a cookie pan/sheet and baking them in the oven for about 7-10 min. At five minutes, stir the nuts around so that they can evenly toast. Check on your nuts after 7 min because they can easily burn if toasted for too long. Take them out of the oven to cool.

Line a standard cupcake/muffin pan with 12 liners.

Toast the pecans first. I do this by
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and nutmeg. In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin purée, sugar, oil and eggs. Add the flour mixture and whisk to combine completely. Stir in the chopped pecans.

Divide the batter into the prepared muffin cups and fill each about 3/4 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean, 22-24 minutes (my cupcakes only took 20 minutes to bake so I would check them around 18 minutes to see how they are doing). Allow them to cool after you take them out of the oven.

For the Glaze:

Maple Glaze

1 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more as needed
1 tbsp whole milk (I used 1% milk and that worked just fine)
2 teaspoons maple extract (I used 2 tablespoons of maple syrup instead)

In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, milk and extract or syrup until smooth. The glaze should be spreadable. If it seems to thick, whisk in additional milk or syrup a few drops at a time. You don't won't your glaze to be too runny and run all down your cupcakes so if it seems too thin , whisk in additional sugar one teaspoon at a time.

The cupcakes baked perfectly, incredibly moist and delicious!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

That Takes The Cake, San Francisco

That Takes the Cake
2271 Union St.
San Francisco, CA 94123

Cupcakes tried: orange zinger, Elvis, strawberry, chocolate espresso

Overall reaction: It almost took the cake, but we ain't playing horseshoes here

I had been meaning to try this bakeshop since its not too far from where I live. I have to say that the design of the shop is really cute and well done. However the cupcakes left much to be desired. I bought the cupcakes and headed home, enlisting my sister, Diana to help along in the taste test and here's what we have to say about what we tried.

First up was the Elvis cupcake. This cupcake tasted the way it was supposed to – peanut butter, honey and banana, exactly like the sandwich. The bad part, was that the cake was dry. Poor Elvis.

The chocolate espresso cupcake was not much better. The frosting was heavy and the cake was dense and dry. The espresso flavor was good but overall this cupcake was intense and what I mean by this, is that it just lumped in your throat and stomach.

The strawberry cupcake was ok. The cake was yummy, moist and tasted like strawberries. The frosting ruined it. Too sweet in a sickening sort of way.

The worst cupcake of all was the orange zinger. It takes the cake for the most horrible tasting cupcake! The frosting overpowered the cake which tasted like an orange rind and was incredibly dry. We couldn't even finish it!

My words of advice: In the shop you have the option of buying day old cupcakes for less money. The cupcakes we tried tasted like a few days old so I can't imagine what the actual day old ones would taste like! Maybe we just hit a bad day but I just don't think there is an excuse when each cupcake we tried was dry. My advice is to steer clear of this shop as the cupcakes did not take the cake!

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Little Hiatus

I'm sorry to inform everyone that my baking challenge is going to be put on hold for a few weeks. My schedule has been a little nuts with no time for blogs. boo-hoo. I am making a wedding cake and traveling to a wedding next week; the following week I have another wedding that I'm baking for and the week after that I'm going to be in Europe for a week. Busy Busy. That being said, I will have a lot of catching up to do. I will have missed 4 weeks of challenges! That means when I get back, I will have to do 5 challenges to put myself back on schedule. Holy Baking Extravaganza! I also have a new cupcake bake shop review that I need to post as well. So, stay tuned my Friends...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Baking Challenge #6: Tomato Soup Cake

I don't know about you but I LOVE Tomato Soup especially with a grilled cheese sandwich to dunk in it. So when I saw this recipe, I immediately wanted to try it. It comes from the book called, Southern Cakes.

There was a bit of calamity that I need to state up front as this recipe made me want to scream and throw a small tantrum! I have no gripes with the cake. The cake is wonderful but the frosting SUCKS! I have decided to totally leave out the frosting from this recipe because it isn't worth mentioning and it will make you hate the cake. This cake is practically perfect in taste, texture, and moistness. It reminds me of a cross between carrot cake and gingerbread. The vanilla frosting was way too sugary and completely overpowered the cake. I could hardly taste the cake because it was too sweet and the flavor didn't pair well with the flavors of the cake. The frosting had a slight nuttiness in flavor because its made with some brown sugar. That being said, I don't want to deter you away from making the Tomato Soup Cake as there is a way to make it perfect. It states in the book that you can also use cream cheese frosting for this cake. Duh! This is what I should have used instead of using the vanilla frosting that was designated to the cake. Everyone loves cream cheese frosting with carrot cake and this cake has a lot of the same flavors so that would work great. You can also bake it in a 13x9-inch pan and cut the cake into squares dusting the tops with powder sugar. I will definitely bake this cake again because it was so yummy!

Tomato Soup Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
One 10 3/4-ounce can condensed Campbell's cream of tomato soup
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup water

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease two 8-inch cake pans or a 13x9-inch pan

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, allspice, baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves, and stir with a fork to mix everything together well. Add the tomato soup, butter, eggs, and water to the bowl. Using a whisk or mixer at low speed, beat all the ingredients into a smooth batter, stopping to scrape down the bowl occasionally.

Divide the batter into the prepared pans and bake for about 25 minutes, until the cakes are golden brown, spring back when touched lightly in the center, and begin to pull away from the sides of the pans.

Let cakes cool and then frost.

I would recommend not slicing your layers–just level the 2 cakes and fill. I tried to slice each cake in half to make four layers but the cake was too fragile and the frosting was too heavy causing my cake to be blob around the sides. So I tried to fix the cake by cutting it in a square to get rid of the edges and that didn't work so great either. Well, now you've learned from my mistakes and you can make this cake the best that it can be!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Nesting Themed Cupcakes

In between my weekly baking challenges, my latest cupcake job was for a baby shower that was doing a nesting themed shower. I can't take credit for the baby birds in a nest idea as it was found on the Internet but I did add my own speckled eggs as a new edition to the idea. I made all the decorations out of fondant so that they would remain somewhat soft to eat and toasted coconut to make a nice pleasant nest. The speckled eggs I splattered with diluted food coloring. Lots of fun!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Baking Challenge #5: Double-Crumble Hot Apple Pies

"If you are going to the trouble of making pie, why make only one when it's just as easy to make two?"

This is what is stated at the beginning of the recipe. I love it! Why not 2? This weeks recipe is from this really cutely designed book called "Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Goey" by Jill O'Connor. Although there is a bunch of steps to this recipe, it is really simple to follow and make.

Double-Crumble Hot Apple Pies

Pie Crust Recipe
makes enough dough for 2 single-crust 8 or 9 inch pies
This pie crust was great–flaky and buttery!

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, each stick cut into small pieces frozen (I didn't freeze mine, but I kept it cut up in the fridge till ready to use and it worked fine)
6 tablespoons solid coconut oil, cut into small bits and chilled (I couldn't find solid coconut oil, you can most likely get it at a health food store. I used 6 tablespoons of shortening instead which was just as good)
6-8 tablespoons ice water
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 large egg yolk, beaten

Sift flour, sugar, and salt together in a large metal mixing bowl. Cut the frozen butter and shortening (or coconut oil) into the flour until it resembles coarse meal combined with little pea-sized bits of flour. You can use a food processor with a metal blade by pulsing these ingredients or you can use a pastry blender and do it by hand. I used the pastry blender.

Whisk together 6 tablespoons of ice water, the lemon juice and the beaten egg yolk. Dribble the liquid into the flour mixture and stir together with a fork, using a light touch so as not to blend the larger bits of fat into the flour. Stir with the fork until the dough comes together into a moist but not sticky, ball. Use your hands to gentle gather the dough into a ball. You should still see some tiny butter pieces.

Divide the dough into two balls and flatten each ball into a round disk. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to overnight. You can also store this wrapped dough in a zip lock bag and freeze for up to 1 month.

For the Crumble:
2 cups bleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (you can use ground nutmeg too if you don't have fresh ones)
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

For the Apple Filling:
6 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4 -inch thick
6 medium Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4 -inch thick
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (you can use ground nutmeg too if you don't have fresh ones)
1/4 teaspoon of salt
I also added a teaspoon of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Roll out each round of pie dough into a 12-inch circle. Gently fit each round in a 9 or 8 inch pie pan. Gently fit each round in the pie pans, allowing the excess dough to hang over the edge of the pie pan. Set aside.
It is suggested that if you have a glass pan, use that so that you can gauge how well the crust is browning. I realized that out of all my baking supplies, I didn't have a pie pan! How is that possible! So I had to use a metal one and it seemed to work just as good.

To make the Crumble: Combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a bowl. Add the melted butter and stir together until the dry mixture is moistened with the melted butter and is crumbly. Refrigerate until needed.

To make the filling: In a large bowl, toss together the sliced apples with the lemon juice, flour, sugar, nutmeg, and salt. Divide the apples between the dough-lined pie pans. Trim the edges of the dough and fold them under and crimp with your fingers to make a decorative border.
See Ex. 1.

Divide the crumble between the two pies and spread evenly over the apples. You should have a generous amount of crumble for each pie. See Ex. 2.

Bake until the crust and crumble are golden brown and the apples are tender and bubbling, 60-75 minutes. My pies were down at 60 minutes but every oven is different so just check up on your pie towards the end.

This is one of the first recipes that I have made where there is more than enough of the "good stuff" (crumble). I find that I always have to add or make more chocolate, more drizzle, more frosting, etc. than what the recipe calls for. This pie recipe had plenty of crumble and that made me extremely happy! As for the taste, it was absolutely scrumptious! Every bite was a little bit of wonderful and the crumb topping was amazing! So if you love apple pies or pies in general–this recipe is for you!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Baking Challenge #4: Lemon Poppy Seed Quick Bread

This weeks recipe comes from "The Buttercup Bake Shop Cookbook". I basically choose this recipe because I had all the ingredients on hand already and I wanted to make something to eat for breakfast. This recipe was easy peasy, however, it wasn't the greatest lemon poppy seed loaf that I've ever tasted. I was hoping that it would taste really lemony but there was only a hint of the lemon in the end. I even added extra lemon juice to boot!

Lemon Poppy Seed Quick Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling (I used sparkling sugar to sprinkle on the top, the sugar crystal is larger and adds a nice crunch)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (I would add more!!)
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 cup poppy seeds
(I also added fresh squeezed lemon juice, a couple tablespoons)

Oven 350 degrees
Grease & flour a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together the milk, eggs, zest and butter. Stir in the vanilla, lemon extracts and lemon juice if you decide to add some fresh squeezed juice. Add in the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the poppy seeds.
Pour the batter into the pan. Sprinkle the top with sugar. Bake for 1 hour or until cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool for 20 minutes.

Like I said, I wish the loaf had more lemon flavor but overall it was good and the best part was the crunchy top.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Baking Challenge #3: Chocolate 'N' Oat Bars

I am a little behind this week as I am posting last weeks baking challenge. I did actually bake it last week, however I left for a family camping trip and was unable to post it before I left. That being said, I needed something easy and quick to make that I could bring on the camping trip. This recipe comes from the book, "Favorite Brand Name Cookie Collection". It uses brand name goods from your local grocery store. Isn't that neat! Of course you can always substitute for the cheaper or generic brand.

Chocolate 'N' Oat Bars

1 cup unsifted flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (14-ounce) can EAGLE brand sweetened condensed milk
1 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)
1 (6-ounce) package of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Oven 350 degrees or 325 degrees for a glass dish

In large bowl, combine flour, oats, sugar and butter; mix well. Reserving 1/2 cup oat mixture, press remainder on bottom of 13x9 inch baking pan. Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven and pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crust. Sprinkle with nuts and chocolate chips. Top with remaining oat mixture; press down firmly. Bake 25 - 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Cut into bars. Store covered at room temperature.

These bars are mighty yummy and incredibly easy for a quick sweet fix.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Baking Challenge #2: Macaroons

I have always loved macaroons but have never made them before. There is something to be said about a cookie that is almost entirely made of coconut. This weeks recipe comes from Sweet Serendipity. Serendipity 3 is this magical little restaurant filled with hanging Tiffany lamps on the upper east side on 60th Street in NYC. I can not leave New York without stopping at this restaurant for a bite to eat or devouring one of their many enticing desserts. The sundaes are amazing!

Aunt Buba's Macaroons
I'm going to start this recipe off with the beginning excerpt from the book because it's a cute little story. Every recipe should have a story right?

"Patch's Aunt Buba was a typical Southern lady who lived a very atypical life. Not only did she divorce her first husband, which was a major sin in the Arkansas delta in those days, but she and her second husband lived right next door to her first husband, and she looked after both of them like one big happy family. Each husband had his favorite version of her recipes, including her famous macaroons–one liked chocolate and the other liked plain. Here, Aunt Buba's first husband's favorite macaroons."

2 large egg whites, room temperature
5 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup tightly packed shredded sweetened coconut
unsalted butter for the pan

makes about 12 cookies

Preheat oven to 325.
Use clean bowls and beaters so that the egg whites will whip up properly. With the electric mixer, beat the egg whites on medium speed, adding the sugar in a slow stream. Continue beating until the whites hold stiff, glossy peaks. Beat in the almond extract. Gently fold in coconut with a large spoon or spatula.

Cover a baking sheet in parchment paper and spread the parchment with plenty of butter. Drop the batter by teaspoon-sized dollops, 1 inch apart. (I made mine a little bit bigger, see Ex. 1)

Bake for 15 - 20 minutes until very lightly browned. Do not over bake: the macaroons should be no darker than light tan.

Transfer to rack to cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

These macaroons aren't your typical grocery store types. They definitely weren't as dense, instead they were light and airy and tasted a little like angel food cake with coconut. This cookie was extremely easy to make and low in fat! Hooray for that! I dipped a couple of mine in melted chocolate as well.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Baking Challenge #1: Le Marquis Au Chocolat

So, like I said, to kick off the start of my baking challenge of doing a new recipe once a week for a year, I started with the recipe from Julia Child's "The French Chef Cookbook", published in 1968.

This cookbook is fun because the recipes are broken down by which show she cooked/baked on her television show. I chose Le Marquis Au Chocolate which is a chocolate sponge cake from her sixty-eighth show. I'm sure if I had stayed in culinary school for more than just a week I would have learned how to do this cake but since I didn't, this is my first attempt at making a french cake. Très Chic!

Le Marquis au Chocolate
Chocolate Butter sponge cake, butter cream frosting and chocolate glaze

"Here is a splendid cake for chocolate lovers with sylphid figures. Filled and frosted with rum-flavored buttercream, covered with a light cloak of melted chocolate, it can be served as a dessert or at high tea."

I know what you are thinking though...what the heck is a sylphid figure? I had to look it up. It means - 1. a slender and graceful woman or girl - 2. an imaginary being inhabiting the four elements once believed to make up the physical world. Sylphs dwelt in the air and were light, dainty, and airy beings. Doesn't this sound delightful?

Anyways on to the recipe.
There are many steps throughout this recipe, its not one of those quick as pie ones, so you'll need some time and patience.
You can either use an 8" cake pan or I used 2 6" cake pans for a smaller cake. This cake doesn't rise very high so if you use an 8" cake you will only be able to split it in half once. If you want more than one layer of frosting I would suggest doubling the recipe for 2 8" pans.

For the Cake:
1 cup semisweet chocolate bits
1 heaping tbs of instant coffee dissolved in 2 tbs of boiling water (refer to Ex. 1)
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup cake flour sifted
31/2 tbs softened unsalted butter
For the egg whites: 1/8 tsp cream of tarter, a pinch of salt, and 1 tbs sugar

Ex. 1 - You can buy instant espresso at the grocery store in the coffee section. However not all grocery stores have it so you might have to hunt around. I usually buy it in bulk at

First step is to lightly butter the inside of your cake pans and then roll flour on the inside covering the bottom and sides of pan. Set oven at 350.

Second step is to melt the 1 cup of chocolate with the coffee in a small sauce pan over low heat, cool till tepid.

Third step is to separate the eggs. Place the yolks in one mixing bowl and the egg whites in another. If you have 1 mixer & 1 hand held, or 2 hand held this will be easier for you other wise you will have to keep rinsing your beaters. Or you can hand mix with a whip. Measure out cake flour and sift into another bowl. Either with a mixer or a large whip, gradually beat the sugar into the egg yolks and continue beating for several minutes till mixture is thick and lemon-colored. Then beat in the melted chocolate and the soft butter.

With clean beaters or whip, beat the egg whites until foamy, then beat in the salt and cream of tarter. Continue to beat till soft peaks form. Sprinkle in the sugar and beat till stiff peaks form.

Using a rubber spatula, stir 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate/egg yolk mixture. When partially blended, mix 1/4 of the cake flour into the mixture and fold in rapidly and delicately. Repeat this process with the remaining egg whites and flour till its all been blended.

Pour your batter into your prepared cake pans and bake for about 30 minutes. If you are using smaller cake pans, set your timer for 20-25 minutes. Cake is done when tooth pick or cake tester comes out clean from center of cake. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes or so before removing the cake from the pan.

Ex. 2 - Cake kind of looks like a sponge when done, hence "Chocolate Sponge Cake".

For the Filling:
Crème au Beurre à l'Anglaise
Custard Butter Cream

4 egg yolks
2/3 sugar
1/2 cup hot milk
1/2 lb. softened unsalted butter
Flavoring choices: 3 tbs of rum, kirsh, orange liqueur, or strong coffee; or 1 tbs vanilla; or 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate melted (I used some Grand Marnier, you can basically use any flavoring you want)

Place egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Gradually beat in the sugar and beat till mixture is thick and lemon-colored. Heat the milk and then gradually add it to the egg mixture. Transfer the mixture into a sauce pan and stir with a wooden spoon over moderately low heat until mixture thickens. This part takes awhile. Make sure to stir often and be careful not to overheat or your eggs will curdle. Its done when the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon with a light cream. Set the pan in cold water and stir till tepid. Rinse out your mixing bowl from before and strain the custard into the bowl. With a mixer gradually beat in the softened butter by spoonfuls. Beat in the flavoring of choice. Beat till smooth.

For the Glaze:
Chocolate Glaze

1 cup semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup coffee (coffee helps bring out the chocolate flavor)

Melt chocolate with the coffee and let cool till tepid.

Assembling the Cake:
Cut your cakes in half and level. Place your cake on a plate or cake board, whatever you want to display or serve it on. Fill your cake layer by layer with the custard filling. Crumb coat your cake which is basically frosting the cake with a thin layer of the custard filling so that when you are ready to glaze your cake, you won't get crumbs falling off or mixing with your glaze. See Ex. 3.

Then put your crumb coated cake into the fridge to set. When you are ready to glaze, pour the chocolate over the top, letting it fall down the sides. I used an offset spatula to smooth the glaze around the sides and top. You can decorate however you would like. I grated some chocolate on top and placed a leftover sugar flower that I had to seal the deal.

et Voila!

My husband and I were meeting friends out for dinner so we brought along the cake. This cake was really yummy, quite rich but the custard buttercream kept the cake wonderfully balanced. It tasted quite French! We stuffed ourselves with great food and a delicious cake!

La Fin.

Stay tuned for next weeks recipe!

Friday, July 31, 2009

A sign from Julia

I just finished reading The Julie/Julia Project about this girl named Julie that decides to cook all the recipes in Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" book in one year. It is a true story. While I was reading this, I started thinking about how I should do something like this. A couple weeks ago, while I was at my parents house I found a stack of old cookbooks that my mom didn't want anymore. Cookbooks that were so close to my heart as a young child because of the magnificent pictures of perfect set meals. You know what I'm talking about...The Better Homes and Gardens cookbooks that woman of the 70's/80's all possessed. It just so happened that on the top of the pile was a small, old, slightly yellowing paperback book called, "The French Chef Cookbook" by Julia Child. Holy Moly! It was like a sign from Julia herself urging me to go for it! There are so many sweets and desserts that I would love to make and try out but there never seems to be enough time. The truth of the matter is that I just DON'T make enough time. So after realizing this fundamental truth about myself (that I can be somewhat lazy), I am challenging myself to bake one new recipe a week. No ifs, ands or buts. This will equal 52 recipes for the year. I will post the recipes in case any of you out there would like to go on this baking adventure with me, which I hope you will. So to kick it all off, I am going to start with Le Marquis au Chocolat from Julia Child's, "The French Chef Cookbook".

Stay tuned...

The Incredible Reeces Cupcake

One day I got to thinking, "Hmm, I wonder if I could bake a Reece's peanut butter cup in the middle of a cupcake?" During the same week that I had this thought, my sister's boyfriend, Jason sent me a text asking, "Can you make cupcakes for me with Reece's peanut butter cups inside?" For some strange reason we both had the same brilliant idea! Jason's birthday was a couple weeks later so I decided to make these cupcakes not knowing if and how they would turn out. The cupcake was a fudge cake with peanut butter frosting and a Reece's baked in the middle. Lo and behold they turned out so yummy and were a complete hit, especially if you are a chocolate and peanut butter lover!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Candies and Colors

Last week I made cupcakes for my friend Kait's daughter's birthday. Her little one LOVES candies! So we thought it would be fun to do a sort of Willy Wonka theme for all the cupcakes. Bright colors and of course...Candy!

The best part...eating them!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Black & White

This June I worked on cupcakes for a wedding. It was a pretty big project, 5 different flavors and I had to create a tier for the cupcakes to be displayed on. The Bride's wedding theme was black and white which I always think is classy and elegant.

So, 240 cupcakes later, here's the final results.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Birthday Surprise

My birthday was last week and my husband decided that he would take on my birthday cake since I am usually the one who is making the cakes. Little did I know how amazing it would turn out. I picked out the flavors that I wanted: Honey butter cake with peanut butter frosting. (I LOVE Peanut Butter!) This was the only detail he let me know about the cake and the rest of the details were all done in secrecy. We went out to dinner with some friends and family and the cake came along. It was such a hit, that the sous chef at Nopa even took a picture of it. So without further ado, I'd like to introduce the most fabulous cake that I have ever had on my birthday...

PB& Jelly Sandwich Cake! With jumbo cupcakes that look like cups of milk and ants on a log to boot!

Even oozed out like a true sandwich!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Shubert's Ice Cream

178 East 7th Street
Chico, CA

There is nothing more satisfying as a summertime treat than ice cream. In downtown Chico there is an ice cream & candy shop called Shubert's which has been there for a really long time. It's as cute as can be with jars of candy lining the walls along with their own line of chocolates and truffles. But of course, the best part about Shubert's is their ice cream. I dived into a waffle cone consisting of one scoop Strawberry Cheesecake and another scoop of Pistachio ice cream. It was heaven! The ice cream was so creamy and fresh. The Pistachio ice cream was amazing and I'm sure my grandma was looking down from heaven enjoying it along with me. My husband, Steve had the most wonderful scoop of Rocky Road ice cream. The marshmallows were plump and soft and not freeze dried and shrunken like most Rocky Roads. I'd have to say, both our bellies were very content after devouring all the ice cream.

So, if you happen to be in Chico, don't forget to stop by Shubert's for a scoop or two.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

May Cakes

Here are some cakes that I worked on from the last couple weeks of this month.