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Fast food cupcakes by Bakerella

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Aren’t these hamburger shaped cupcakes fantastic? And check out those sugar cookie french fries! Bakerella has an awesome tutorial complete with download and print packaging templates. If I thought they’d get eaten around here I would definitely give it a try for Father’s Day. Which makes me wonder… does anyone know of a tutorial for fly fishing themed cupcakes?
Via Twig & Thistle


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Fresh fruit and cream meringue pavlova

This is the dessert I made yesterday – a layered meringue with a freshly whipped lemon cream filling topped with vanilla whipped cream and garnished with fresh organic fruit. I made the meringue layers using this recipe, but instead made two 8″ circles. Then, using a pint of heavy whipping cream, I made a batch of freshly whipped cream, which I divided into two bowls. The first bowl was for the filling. I added about a half a jar of lemon curd and about a 1/3 cup of sour cream and mixed it all together. The second bowl was for the topping, to which I added only some Swedish vanilla sugar (from Ikea) and some regular powdered sugar, until it was slightly sweet, enough to balance the tartness of the lemon cream. Then I decorated the top with freshly sliced strawberries and blueberries.

This dessert got rave reviews (and requests for second helpings), but I made a tactical error in assembling it too early. In order to keep the meringue crisp, this dessert should be assembled just before eating. Otherwise the meringues become soft, just like the whipped cream layers. It didn’t alter the taste, but the texture was all creamy, no crunch. I think if I decide to make this dessert again and want to do it ahead of time, I’ll scoop the creams and fruit into individual cups, and then top with a piece of crisp meringue, right before serving.


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The most AMAZING buttermilk chocolate cake EVER

buttermilk chocolate cake

Okay, I am not kidding here, but I just made the most AMAZING buttermilk chocolate cake EVER! And truly, it was not hard at all. I originally saw the recipe in Marcy’s copy of February’s Portland Monthly magazine, and thought I should write it down, but I forgot. Then, while David was waiting that extra hour for me to finish with my dentist appointment, he came across it again and thoughtfully asked the receptionist to photocopy it for me. (Such a sweetheart!)

Since we were having a friend over for dinner, I thought I’d use that as an excuse to try out this new recipe. And it was… magic! Moist, rich, chocolaty, not too sweet and with just the right amount of depth and complexity. And did I mention beautiful? Gorgeously dark with a semi-matte, creamy ganache frosting. I’m never going to buy chocolate container frosting ever again. Now I know the secret – and so do you!

Chocolate Buttermilk Layer Cake

Once you pour the hot coffee into the batter, don’t be alarmed by its thinness.
“It’s definitely the thinnest cake batter I’ve ever worked with,” [Portland Baker
Melissa] McKinney says. As for the frosting, there’s no need to use fancy chocolate,
she says. “I just use semi-sweet chocolate chips and it comes out perfect.”

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 tbsp + 1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (sifted)*
1 1/3 cups canola oil
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups freshly brewed, extra-strong hot coffee*
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
24 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with nonstick spray, and line the bottoms with parchment paper.

2. Place flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder in a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, mix on low to combine. Keeping the mixer on low , add oil, buttermilk, then eggs one at a time. Add hot coffee in a thin stream, pouring down the side of the bowl. Add vanilla and mix until batter is smooth. Divide into pans and back until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs, about 30-35 minutes. Let cool in pans for at least 20 minutes.

3. To make the chocolate ganache frosting, create a double boiler by filling a saucepan with 2 inches of water and bringing it to a boil. Place chocolate chips and cream in a stainless steel mixing bowl (I used glass) and set on top of simmering water, Allow mixture to melt–do not stir right away, When chocolate has melted, stir it with a whisk. Allow to cool at room temperature.

4. Remove cakes from pans. Place one layer of cake on a serving plate. Trim the top with a serrated knife to make it even (although I didn’t find this necessary). Place a scoop of ganache in the middle and smooth it out to the edges using a palette knife or spatula. Trim the top off the other layer and place the untrimmed side down on the top of the frosted layer, pressing gently. Spoon more ganache on the top and smooth it around the sides, adding more ganache as needed to cover. If you need to apply a second coat of ganache, put the cake in the refridgerator for no more than 15 minutes to set before adding a second coat (although I found myself with a surplus of frosting). Makes a single 9-inch layer cake.

My notes: For the cocoa powder I used Droste cocoa from Holland, which is like gold around here, but I really wanted to make it extra special. I also didn’t bother to sift it. For the chocolate frosting I used Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips. And instead of the extra strong coffee, I pulled four extra long shots of espresso, enough to make the full 1 1/2 cups.

Postscript: In response to a comment below, I thought I’d add this paragraph from the article for those interested:

So what gives this recipe such staying power? It’s the oil, says McKinney. “Oil makes a moister cake, and allows it to last a week, whereas a layer cake made with butter becomes dry the next day.”  Plus, the hot coffee elevates the cocoa’s depth and complexity. The cake is versatile as well: The batter can be stored in the fridge for several days; stout can be used in place of coffee, it can even be made vegan (McKinney suggests using egg replacement and vanilla soy milk.) And the layers can be filled with whipped cream and fresh berries instead of ganache.

*Update* See this post on halving the recipe, with updated shape and photos!

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*UPDATE* to AMAZING Buttermilk Chocolate Cake

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Easy Italian Dessert Recipe – Zabaglione

zabaglione

Tonight we made zabaglione, a frothy, creamy, custard-like Italian dessert. I wish I had gotten a better photo, but there was barely a spoonful left by the time I got around to it. All it takes are two, maybe three ingredients, a little preparation and presto! a fast and delicious dessert in no time. Perfect for those last minute emergencies, like surprise company, when you’re low on supplies, or whenever your sweet tooth gets the best of you. This recipe is based on one from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan.

Ingredients:

4 egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Marsala (Optional)

Directions:

Whip the yolks and sugar together with a whisk or an electric mixer (my preference) over a double boiler. I just put a smaller pot into a bigger pot filled with gently simmering water. I added maybe a teaspoon or two of Marsala, but the directions from the cookbook said you can add up to 1/2 cup. The Marsala can be omitted when serving to children. Continue to beat the mixture, about 10 minutes, until it swells and forms soft, almost elastic mounds. Pour into dessert cups and serve warm. Makes two servings.

Our Italian friend, Alex, says that he doesn’t cook his version of zabaglione, that he simply beats the yolks and sugar until it becomes soft, foamy and thick. He also doesn’t add Marsala because he doesn’t like the taste. We ate our desserts warm, spooned out of ceramic cups, but it would also be perfect poured over fresh fruit or simple cakes.

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