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Posts Tagged ‘Desserts’

From Dish Nicole:

I have never claimed to be much of a baker, but I certainly do try. I also realize that some of the best recipes in the world have taken several attempts to perfect. My recent baking endeavor has proven to be a true labor of love as it took me several attempts to get everything to work together in perfect harmony. I was determined to prove to myself that not only could I make a cake that tastes amazing, but I wanted it to be equally as beautiful because it was for my dear friend, Dish Danielle’s, 30th birthday. I was given some valuable advice along the way from some very experienced cake makers which I will now share with you.

Ingredients for Aunt Em’s Vanilla cake:

1-3/4 cups plain cake flour, sifted
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into 16 pieces

To start, adjust your oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9” round cake pans and cover the bottoms with parchment paper or waxed paper. Grease the parchment rounds and dust the pans with flour, tapping out the excess. Once you have prepared all of that you should beat the eggs, milk, and vanilla with a fork in a small bowl; measure out 1 cup of this mixture and set aside. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Beat the mixture at the lowest speed to blend, about 30 seconds.

With the mixer still running at the lowest speed, add the butter, one piece at a time; mix until the butter and flour begin to clump together and look like small pebbles the size of peas, 30 to 40 seconds after all the butter is added. Add the reserved 1 cup egg mixture and mix at the lowest speed until incorporated, 5 to 10 seconds. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the remaining egg mixture (about 1/2 cup) in a slow, steady stream, taking about 30 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat at medium-high speed until thoroughly combined.

Next up you will need to divide the batter equally between the prepared cake pans, spreading all the way to the sides of the pans and smooth with a rubber spatula. Bake until the cake tops are light gold and a toothpick or thin skewer inserted in the centers comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes (added an additional 5 minutes).

Set the cake pans aside to cool and on to the lemon filling.

The lemon filling is probably the easiest part of the cake but once you set it on the stove you have to watch it like a hawk. It heats up quickly and burns easily. I learned this the hard way. The lemon filling recipe can also be found in The Fannie Farmer Cookbook in the filling and frosting section.

Lemon filling ingredients:
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup lemon juice
Grated rind of two lemons
1 egg
1 tablespoons butter

Mix all the ingredients together in a heavy-bottomed pan.

Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until thick and smooth. Cool before spreading between layers.

Now we are ready to make what I found the most challenging part of the cake, the frosting. I took a stab at making a 7 minute frosting that was recommended but I found that it came out to granular so I ended up making an adapted version that was given to me by my boyfriend’s mother. Here is what you will need:

Vanilla Frosting:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla
5 teaspoons cold water
1 teaspoon corn syrup

Having patience is key, so start by mixing sugar, cream of tartar, salt, egg whites, water and corn syrup in a double boiler over simmering water (I used a sauce pan over another sauce pan). Beat steadily over low heat with electric beater until the frosting stands in peaks, about 5-7 minutes, no more. Remove from heat and continue to beat until cool and thick enough to spread. Add the vanilla before spreading.


I have to say, the cake was amazing and Danielle loved it. I already have a request for another friend’s birthday. Mission accomplished.

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I’ve said before that I’m not too fond of baking, but there is one exception: I love making birthday cakes. Something about brainstorming the perfect flavors to celebrate a friend’s special day makes me happy, and feels creative in a way that I enjoy. I also appreciate that since moving to New York, my group of friends has never let a birthday go by without someone volunteering to bring the super-sweet piece de resistance. Among us we’ve made cake sandwiches, boob cakes, garden cakes, Hostess cupcake cakes, Princess cakes, American flag cakes…Ok, I’m starting to sound like Bubba from Forrest Gump.

So – for my girl Dish Paige’s 30th birthday this past month, I volunteered to bring the cake, and I instantly knew what I wanted to make, even though I’ve never tried it before. If there’s one cocktail – can we call it that? – that P! loves, it’s the Irish Car Bomb: a half-pint of Guinness with a half-and-half shot of whiskey and Bailey’s Irish Cream. For those of you who don’t know, you drop the shot into the beer and then chug it, fast, before the cream curdles. I would describe what it takes like but I’ve never had one. I’m a square! Even still, I love going along on the bar crawl when tiny P! knocks back the I.C.B.’s, keeping up with guys twice her size.

It turns out that I’m not the first one to try making Irish Car Bomb cake. Recipe from The Biscuit Pusher – with some modifications – who got her inspiration from Smitten Kitchen.

For the cake:
1 cup Guinness or other good quality stout
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Over medium heat, bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to a simmer. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.

Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another large bowl, and using electric beaters if you have them, beat eggs and sour cream together. Temper the egg/sour cream mixture by slowly incorporating the stout/chocolate liquid and beating it together as you go (it helps to have a buddy around for this step).

Add flour mixture and give a quick pulse to combine. Finish by hand to make sure everything is smooth.

Pour batter into a well-greased pan (I used a 9×13 Pyrex but two smaller round pans would work as well – just adjust the bake time). Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes.

Let cake cool.

While it’s cooling, make the whiskey and Bailey’s frosting:
3(ish) cups confections sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Bourbon (or Whiskey) and Bailey’s to taste

Partially beat together the sugar and butter to make buttercream frosting, and then – in tablespoon measurements – add “shots” of bourbon and Bailey’s until you’re satisfied that both flavors cut across the sugar and fat. Beat to combine the liquid. It can be spread on the cake immediately.

KEEP IN MIND that the alcohol has not been cooked off, and that this cake will have a “proof”!

I’m not going to win any awards for cake decorating, but that’s really Dish Amelia’s territory.

Happy Birthday, P!

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From Dish Danielle:

Beignets have always been something I was afraid of tackling, especially when there were going to be 25 hungry dinner guests in my living room. I’ve ‘helped’ make them once before—i.e.: my friend pretty much took over the whole shebang as I simply taste tested and watched with awe and delight. That was about a year ago…

As we were planning our menu for the last Whisk & Ladle supper, I decided I was ready to face the challenge myself this year. As a dessert without ice cream (a W&L dessert course standby), and one that cannot be completely readied in advance, it was a serious undertaking.

Making them on the fly is imperative; the scent of frying dough wafting through your home, permeating the air and providing the anticipation of their delivery on pretty dessert plates… Half the fun of making beignets is making them fresh. Frying them off live, rushing to get them to just the perfect golden brown crispiness, hurriedly dusting them with confectioners sugar, and quickly running them out to the guests before they cool completely. They’re gone in a fraction of the time it takes to make them, but they’ll definitely stand out as a bold finish to any dinner party gathering.

To tackle this endeavor, I called in some reinforcements: Mantra, the Rules of Indulgence, a wonderfully inspiring dessert cookbook by Jahangir Mahta, as well as fellow dish and dessert compatriot, Amelia. (Okay shoot. Perhaps I didn’t really do it myself this year…) I pretty much stuck right to Mehta’s recipe, though I composed the dessert with the addition of a simple pear compote* for the doughnuts to sit upon, and a caramel whipped cream** to quenelle on the side.

This recipe will serve 6, as opposed to the 24 that I served for the W&L supper.
Beignet Ingredients:
1 tbsp baking powder
1 ½ c bread flour
pinch kosher salt
1 medium egg
1 cup Guinness stout
zest of 1 orange
1 tsp cardamom
1 qt grapeseed oil, for frying
5 Pears, peeled and diced small

Sift baking powder, flour, salt, and cardamom into large bowl. In medium bowl, whisk egg, stout, and orange zest. (I did this part ahead of time to save myself some trouble during the dinner…) Slowly pour the liquid into the flour mixture and whisk until it forms a smooth paste. Fold in the diced pears and await fryin’ time…

In deep heavy pot, (I recommend a cast iron if you have one), heat the grapeseed oil over medium flame until the oil reaches about 350 degrees. Use a spoon to scoop up the batter and drop them into hot oil. I didn’t attempt trying to make them all perfectly round and uniform, rather, I preferred the free-form look and just let the gooey clumps take on lives of their own. Continue to fry them off in batches until they reach a medium golden brown. Allow to drain on paper towels.

Once you’re all set to serve dust them liberally with confectioners sugar (add a dash cinnamon and ginger if you’re feeling it).

Serve and indulge!

Bonus garnishes:

*To make pear compote: peel and dice a handful or two of pears and toss into pan with a bit of melted butter over medium flame. Cook down, stirring frequently, adding small handfuls of sugar one at a time; taste as you go. Continue for about 20 minutes and you’ll have a nice gooey pile of compote to poise your beautiful beignets on.

**To make caramel whipped cream: either A) ask dish Amelia to take care of it (which was what I did…), or B) melt ½ c sugar in a pan nice n’ slow. Simultaneously heat 3 cups of cream until warm. Once sugar is melted and doing magical caramel thing, slowly add warmed milk. Whisk to incorporate. The caramel may seize up. Keep at it with a gentle heat– it’ll eventually come together. Cool with ice bath and set in fridge until just before service. Whip with a stand or hand mixer once cooled and serve aside your delectable dessert!

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From Dish Rachelle:

Imagine a restaurant where for years, they get your order wrong. You order chicken fingers and you get a chicken sandwich, you say hold the mayo and they bring you extra. You say “Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Sundae” but with chocolate ice cream instead of vanilla. The waitress brings you Reese’s Pieces, or vanilla ice cream, or a bowl of New England clam chowder, or an extra napkin…

That was Friendly’s.

And yet, you kept going back. Like so many East Coast kids, you have childhood memories all wrapped up in Friendly’s. How you’d go every week after ballet class with your best friend and your Moms. How your grandmother would take you and always get a patty melt covered in translucent cooked onions. How your Dad always asked for sprinkles in his milkshake (aka Fribble) and called them “shots.” How when you were sick in high school, your stepfather would bring you home chicken fingers to help you feel better.

My favorite was the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Sundae and, as I learned last summer, so was Dish Erin’s. Walking through the mall on a weekend trip to South Jersey, we lost our boys to an electronics store, only to spot that faux old-timey red and white signage and make a unilateral decision to stop in for a snack. The boys caught up and, having grown up without Friendly’s on the West Coast and in NYC, they waited to be wowed. And so it began…our french fries arrived lukewarm, our Peanut Butter Cup Sundae had to be remade, and then showed up already melted, yet delicious, and don’t mind me, I’m trying to be polite because we’re sharing, and not eat all of it, and oh my god, is that a hair?

I won’t spoil Friendly’s for you by saying that it was long and black, yet nestled too deep in the sundae to be able to explain away as my own. What’s important is that I decided, once and for all, to recreate the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Sundae in my own (sanitary) kitchen. Apparently, I’m not the only one. Google “Friendly’s Peanut Butter Sauce” to find a thread on Chowhound devoted to the stuff, which is where I found a recipe to adapt.

(This recipe requires and ice cream maker. Purists will say that this should be made with vanilla ice cream, and where’s the hot fudge? I say see paragraph 1, and be happy for me that I’ll finally get my substitution on the first try.)

Ingredients:
For the ice cream (makes 1 quart):
½ cup sugar
1 cup milk
2 cups heavy cream
½ tsp. salt
2 tblsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
3 egg yolks
1/3 (+) semisweet chocolate, chopped*
1 tsp. vanilla extract

*A chocoholic, I found 1/3 cup to be a little low. Tweak chocolate and sugar levels to your liking; this made a milky chocolate ice cream that tasted, because I used Nestle semisweet morsels, like Quik.

Separate the eggs, reserving the whites for tomorrow’s compensatory egg-white omelette.

Combine sugar, milk, cream, salt and cocoa powder over medium-low heat, stirring constantly so the cream doesn’t curdle. Bring to a low simmer. With the egg yolks in a separate bowl, gradually stir in about ½ cup of the hot liquid, which allows you to incorporate the eggs without them cooking. When mixed, return chocolate-y yolks to the saucepan. Heat until mixture reduces by ¼ to ½, and is thick enough to coat a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate and vanilla. Pour into a bowl and chill, covered, until cold all the way through, about 3 hours.


After it’s cold, the custard should look like a cross between pudding and melted ice cream. Pour into an ice cream maker – the base must be frozen – and churn for about 15 minutes. After the ice cream maker has done its work, the mixture will look frozen but loose, like soft serve. Pour it into a storage container and freeze for no less than 3 hours, preferably more.

Recipe adapted from All Recipes.

When you’re ready to serve, prepare the toppings.

For peanut butter sauce (makes about 1 cup, and file under the category of junk foods that were tastier before you knew what went in them):

½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup light Karo syrup
2 tablespoons butter
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. peanut butter

Combine everything except the peanut butter in saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until heated. Remove from heat and stir in the peanut butter. Serve warm.

Recipe adapted from Chowhound (thanks, fellow addicts!)

For whipped cream:

Pour desired amount of heavy cream in a large bowl, and whip with a hand blender or electric beaters until light and fluffy. Since everything else was so sweet, I left out the sugar and added just a dash of cinnamon.

Garnish with an original Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, just like at Friendly’s.

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