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Sep 04, 2015
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Baked

Baked: Caramel Espresso Flan Cake

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

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I love to bake something special for my birthday. It’s time for me to celebrate with something over the top, something I’ve hidden away to try but always put off due to time constraints. This caramel espresso flan cake was perfect for this year’s birthday treat.

It’s an espresso flan on top with a light buttery sponge cake on the bottom – both baked at the same time. The flan is added first, and when the sponge cake batter is spread over the top, it’s so light that it floats above the flan. When it’s baked, it leaves a magical hybrid layer in the middle.

As if that weren’t enough, a hidden caramel layer is spread along the bottom during baking. When the cake is flipped and served, the caramel slowly seeps past the flan and into the sponge cake over time. Indeed, the cake is better a day or two after it is made, but it’s well worth the wait.

This beautiful dessert is a showstopper, and the combination of caramel and espresso is addictive. The flan is smooth and soft, as an egg custard should be, while the cake is spongy and delicate. You won’t regret the time and effort put into this one. Enjoy and happy baking!

 

Caramel Espresso Flan Cake
Adapted from a recipe at Lady and Pups
8 servings

1 cup granulated sugar
4 Tbsp. water
1½ cups half and half
2 Tbsp. espresso powder
Pinch of cinnamon
6 egg yolks, divided
2 eggs
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
4½ Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp. flour
¼ cup whole milk
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 egg whites

• Pour 1 inch water in a baking dish large enough to hold a 9-inch cake pan and place it in the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil a 9-inch round cake pan and set aside.
• In a large saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil over medium heat without stirring. Cook until the sugar turns light brown, about 8 minutes, then remove from heat and swirl the pan gently until the caramel turns deep amber, 10 to 15 seconds.
• Set aside 2 to 3 tablespoons caramel and pour the remainder in the cake pan. Rotate the pan to evenly distribute the caramel on the bottom.
• Let the saucepan cool but do not wash it. Add the half and half, espresso powder and cinnamon and return the pot to the stove over medium heat. Bring to a bare simmer, stirring with a wooden spoon until the espresso powder is completely dissolved in the half and half, 5 to 8 minutes.
• In a mixing bowl, whisk 4 egg yolks, 2 eggs and the condensed milk together. Using a hand mixer, carefully pour the hot espresso cream into the egg mixture, beating on low to medium-low speed until combined. Pour into the prepared cake pan.
• Cut a long, 3-inch wide strip of parchment paper and lightly grease both sides. Line the top half of the cake pan above the flan layer with the parchment paper to prevent the cake layer from sticking (the flan will easily release from the pan).
• In a clean large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter until it begins to bubble. Add the flour, whisk quickly until incorporated and remove from heat. Whisk in the milk and the brown sugar until the sugar melts. Let cool slightly, 2 to 4 minutes.
• Whisk in the remaining 2 egg yolks and the vanilla extract until the cake batter is thick and even. Set aside.
• In a medium mixing bowl, use a hand mixer on high speed to beat the egg whites to soft peaks, 2 to 3 minutes. Add half the egg whites to the cake batter in the saucepan and whisk gently until combined. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites.
• Carefully pour the cake batter over the flan layer. It will appear to sink to the bottom, but it will rise back up since the batter is lighter than the custard. Smooth the top.
• Place the pan in the middle of the water-filled baking dish, return it to the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 340 degrees. Bake 50 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out completely clean.
• Let the cake cool 30 minutes. Gently remove the parchment paper and run a knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the flan. Place a large plate on top of the cake pan and quickly invert to remove it from the pan. (If any caramel sticks to the bottom of the cake pan, warm on the stove over low heat until it’s loose and pour it over the cake.) Warm and drizzle the reserved caramel over the top as well.
• Refrigerate uncovered 1 to 2 days for the cake to absorb the caramel. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Baked: Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

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Growing up in Atlanta, my friends and I flocked to Krispy Kreme when we saw the neon Hot Now sign glowing red in the window, promising freshly fried and glazed doughnuts. Today, St. Louis has so many amazing doughnut options all over the city that it’s easy to forget about a simple glazed dozen from Krispy Kreme. What people don’t realize is that these childhood treats make for perfect bread pudding a few days later.

Stale, day-old Krispy Kreme doughnuts make one of the best breakfast desserts ever. This bread pudding is thick and rich, not too sweet, and perfect with a side of espresso-tinted whipped cream. Buy a dozen the day before your next brunch, indulge in one or two (or three – no judgment), and then leave that box out overnight for an easy breakfast the next day.

 

Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding
6 to 8 servings

9 stale Krispy Kreme or other glazed doughnuts, cut into sixths
2 cups heavy cream, divided
1 cup milk
5 large egg yolks
1 large whole egg
¼ cup condensed milk
1½ tsp. espresso powder
¼ cup brewed espresso, chilled

• Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
• Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the doughnut pieces in an even layer. Bake 30 minutes, until dry and toasted. Let cool.
• Raise the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
• In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 1 cup heavy cream, the milk, egg yolks, egg, condensed milk and espresso powder. Add the doughnut pieces and stir to coat. Let soak 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes to evenly distribute the liquid.
• Lightly butter a 9-inch pie pan and pour the soaked doughnut mixture into it. Place the pie pan in a roasting pan filled with enough hot water to cover the sides of the pie pan. Cover the bread pudding with foil and bake 40 minutes, then remove the foil and bake another 10 to 15 minutes until the pudding is set.
• Preheat the broiler. Broil the bread pudding 3 minutes, until the top is light brown. Let cool.
• Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, use a hand mixer to whip the remaining 1 cup heavy cream and espresso on high speed until soft peaks form, 5 to 7 minutes. Serve with warm bread pudding.

Baked: Healthier Chocolate Cookies

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

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These cookies are a bit of a departure from my usual recipes. I don’t cook with artificial sugars or try to replace everything with a healthier alternative at the cost of flavor, so when I set out to make a not-as–bad-for-you cookie, I wanted something that still tasted like dessert.

The result: These cookies taste just as good as their decadent counterparts. Instead of butter or oil, I used cashew butter. The heart-healthy fats and boost in protein means it will fill you up much more than a traditional cookie.

I also replaced granulated white sugar with coconut sugar, which is sourced from coconut blossom trees but tastes nothing like coconut. This type of sugar burns quicker than regular sugar (that means a shorter baking time) and tastes slightly less sweet. And yes, there is a half-cup of chocolate chips in the recipe, but I use dark instead of milk or white chocolate for the added antioxidant benefits.

It’s hard to eat just one, but at least you can devour them with less guilt. Enjoy and happy baking!

 

Healthier Chocolate Cookies
Adapted from a Chelsea’s Messy Apron recipe
12 to 15 servings

1 cup unsalted cashew butter, room temperature
2/3 cup coconut sugar
1 large egg
4 Tbsp. dark cocoa powder
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of kosher salt
½ cup dark chocolate chips

Ÿ• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
• In a large bowl, stir together the cashew butter, coconut sugar and egg until combined. Stir in the cocoa powder, vanilla, baking soda and salt until combined, then add the chocolate chips and stir.
• Form 2 tablespoons dough into a ball and place 1 to 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet. Press the tops of each ball gently to flatten.
• Bake 6 to 8 minutes, then let cool on the cookie sheet. Cookies will become firmer as they cool.

 

Baked: Funfetti Malted Blondies

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

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Since word spread that my fiance Joe is engaged to a baker, I now make a monthly treat for him to take to work. I was short on time last month and whipped these up with two days to spare. They turned out to be a smash hit.

Making blondies is as easy as brownies but with a different flavor profile. Without the cocoa, ingredients in blondies shine through more so than in brownies. With that in mind, I added malt powder, white chocolate chips and several spoonfuls of sprinkles just because. Enjoy and happy baking!

 

Funfetti Malted Blondies
Adapted from a Smitten Kitchen recipe 
16 servings

4 oz. (½ stick) butter, melted and slightly cooled
¾ cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1¼ cups flour
½ tsp. baking powder
½ cup malted milk powder
½ tsp. kosher salt
1/3 cup finely chopped white chocolate
¼ cup rainbow sprinkles or nonpareils

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-by-8-inch pan with parchment paper.
• In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the butter and brown sugar until combined. Whisk in the egg and vanilla. Stir in the flour, malted milk powder, baking powder and salt until just combined, then fold in the white chocolate and sprinkles.
• Pour the batter into the pan and spread it evenly. Bake 20 to 23 minutes, until top is golden and edges are browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean. Let cool completely, then slice into 16 even squares. Store the blondies in an airtight container at room temperature.

 

 

Baked: Chocolate-Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

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This was my first time baking whoopie pies, but it definitely won’t be my last. I opted for a simple chocolate dough to create a pillowy, cake-like cookie that paired perfectly with peanut butter-cream cheese frosting. A note on the batter: It should be a bit stiff and not spread too much when piped. If it’s too runny, add another tablespoon or two of flour.

This cookie sandwich is pure heaven for chocolate and peanut butter enthusiasts. Enjoy and happy baking!

 

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies
Adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe
12 servings

3 large eggs
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup plain full-fat yogurt
1/3 cup walnut oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract, divided
1¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus more
½ cup cocoa powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. kosher salt
Sprinkles
1 8-oz. package cream cheese
2¾ cups powdered sugar
½ cup creamy peanut butter
2 Tbsp. milk or cream

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat mats.
• In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, yogurt, oil and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Whisk in the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt until just combined. Do not over-mix.
• Pour the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip. Hold the bag perpendicular to the baking sheet and pipe 12 circles, leaving 1½-inches between each round. Repeat with the other baking sheet. Dust some of all of the tops with sprinkles, if desired.
• Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until the tops spring back when lightly touched. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely.
• Meanwhile, make the frosting by beating together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, peanut butter, milk and remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla extract on medium-high speed until fluffy and spreadable.
• Spread a layer of frosting on 12 cookies and sandwich together with the remaining 12 cookies to make whoopie pies.
• Pour a layer of sprinkles in shallow dish. Roll the edges of the whoopie pies in the sprinkles so they adhere to the frosting. Whoopie pies will keep, refrigerated or frozen, up to 1 week in an airtight container.

 

 

Baked: Summer Berry Cake

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

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This irresistible berry cake is the epitome of summer desserts. I intended to write a blog post about it a few years ago, but it was devoured at a Fourth of July party before I could get a photo. When I found some wonderfully fresh berries at the farmers market last weekend, I was inspired to make it again.

The berry-studded cake can be served without frosting as a simple snack for an everyday treat. It works for any occasion, using in whatever fresh (or even frozen) fruit is available. For special occasions, I stack three of these beautiful cakes and seal them together with a smooth, brown sugar-cream cheese frosting. The cake is best eaten within a couple of days, but that’s never been a problem for us. Enjoy and happy baking!

 

Summer Berry Cake
Makes 1 9-inch cake
Adapted from a Smitten Kitchen recipe

¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter, softened, plus more for greasing
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1½ tsp. baking powder
1½ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. kosher salt
1½ tsp. lemon zest
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
1½ cups buttermilk
1 cup chopped strawberries, plus more for garnish
1 cup raspberries, plus more for garnish
1 cup blueberries, plus more for garnish
Brown Sugar Frosting (recipe follows)

• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter and flour 3 9-inch round cake pans and line each with parchment paper.
• In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
• In a large mixing bowl, use your fingers to rub the lemon zest and the sugar together to release the oils. Use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well until incorporated.
• Reduce the speed to low and beat in one-third of flour mixture, then ½ cup buttermilk. Repeat until all the ingredients are just combined.
• Evenly divide the batter between the cake pans and smooth the tops. Scatter the strawberries evenly atop the first cake, the raspberries evenly atop the second cake, and the blueberries evenly atop the third cake.
• Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan at least 20 minutes, then invert each cake onto a rack and let cool completely. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until chilled.
• Place a 10-inch cardboard circle on a cake stand and place 1 chilled cake layer on the cardboard. Add a one-quarter of the frosting atop the cake and spread in an even layer with an offset spatula. Top with another cake layer and repeat. Add the final cake layer, top with the remaining frosting and spread evenly across the top and down the sides of the cake. Decorate with remaining berries and serve.

 

Brown Sugar Frosting

12 oz. cream cheese
1 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2½ tsp. vanilla extract
Heavy pinch kosher salt
1¼ cup whipping cream

• Use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese, brown sugar, vanilla extract and salt on medium-high speed until combined and fluffy and there are no lumps remaining. With the mixer running, add the cream and beat until the mixture is firm and fluffy. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before frosting.

 

 

Baked: Browned Butter-Green Tea Cake

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

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This loaf is simply scrumptious. Browned butter and vibrant matcha powder elevate a humble, classic pound cake to a nutty, more elegant counterpart. This dense loaf tastes better the day after its baked and the flavors have a chance to develop, so try to show restraint. A dish like this works for any time of day. It’s fabulous at breakfast or brunch; I’ve served it in the afternoon with tea, too. You can even slice and wrap leftovers and freeze them up to a month, then thaw on a whim and serve with ice cream for a simple, quick dessert.

 

Browned Butter Green Tea Cake
Adapted from a recipe by Dorie Greenspan
Makes 1 8½-by-4½-inch loaf pan

½ cup (1 stick) butter, plus more for greasing
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 scant Tbsp. matcha powder
1½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. sea salt
1¼ cups sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature
½ Tbsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup (80 ml.) heavy cream

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8½-by-4½-inch loaf pan.
• In a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter in a saucepan, swirling occasionally, until it the solids begin to brown and it smells nutty, about 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
• In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, matcha powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
• In another large mixing bowl, beat together the sugar and eggs until pale, about 1 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract until incorporated, then the heavy cream. Use a spatula to gently fold in the in the dry ingredients. Fold in half the browned butter until incorporated, then repeat with the remaining butter.
• Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake 55 to 65 minutes, until a knife or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. (If the top of the cake browns too quickly, tent the top with foil.)
• Let the cake cool completely, then gently remove from the loaf pan. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature 12 to 24 hours before serving.

Baked: Red Velvet Cream Cheese Muffins

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

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I know it is way past Valentine’s Day, but red velvet never goes out of style. You are warned: These muffins are so delicious, it will be very hard to eat just one. They are incredibly soft and fluffy with a tangy cream cheese center that melts in your mouth. This is an irresistible recipe, even for those who aren’t fans of red velvet. Enjoy and happy baking!

 

Red Velvet Cream Cheese Muffins
Adapted from Averie Cooks 
12 servings

1 cup sugar, divided
1/3 cup buttermilk
½ cup canola oil
1 large egg
2 tsp. red food coloring
1¼ cups plus 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour, divided
2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. coarse salt
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. cold butter, diced

• Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
• In a large mixing bowl, whisk together ½ cup sugar, the buttermilk, canola oil, egg and food coloring. Add 1¼ cups flour, the cocoa powder, baking powder and salt and whisk gently until just combined. Be careful not to overmix. Set batter aside.
• In another bowl, mix the cream cheese, ¼ cup sugar and vanilla extract together until combined.
• Pour 2/3 cup batter into each muffin cup. Add a small dollop of the cream cheese mixture into the center of each batter-filled cup and use a toothpick to swirl the cream cheese a little. Set aside.
• In another bowl, cut the butter together with the remaining ¼ cup sugar and remaining ¼ cup flour until the mixture is crumbly and the butter forms pea-sized pieces. Divide the crumb mixture evenly over the tops of the muffins.
• Bake 17 to 19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out with just a few crumbs. Let cool completely before serving.

 

Baked: Chocolate Cherry Cake

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

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I made this simple cake for a friend who loves chocolate-covered cherries. Though it’s never been my favorite combination, they complement each other well, and this cake tempers the sweetness with strong brewed coffee and tart buttermilk. Frozen cherries add a nice tang to the chocolate, too. This rich cake is ideal paired with a post-dinner glass of red wine and great conversation. Enjoy and happy baking!

 

Chocolate Cherry Cake
Adapted from Lady and Pups
Makes 1 9-inch cake

1 cup sugar
¾ cup strong brewed coffee
¾ cup buttermilk
3 Tbsp. canola oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1½ cup flour
¾ cup cocoa powder
1½ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. plus a pinch kosher salt, divided
8 oz. frozen, pitted cherries, thawed and roughly chopped
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup heavy cream
Chocolate shavings or sprinkles, for garnish

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan or cake pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper.
• In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the canola oil, coffee, buttermilk, eggs, sugar and vanilla extract. Gently fold in the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and ¾ teaspoon salt until just combined, then fold in the cherries. Pour the batter into the pie pan.
• Bake 30 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached. Let cool completely.
• Meanwhile, prepare the ganache by bringing the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the chocolate chips and the remaining pinch of salt. Remove from heat, cover and let rest 2 minutes. Whisk gently until the chocolate is completely melted and the ganache is smooth. Let cool completely.
• Turn the cake out of the pan and onto a serving platter. Drizzle with the cool ganache and garnish with chocolate shavings or sprinkles before serving.

Baked: Green Tea Nun’s Puffs

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

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The moment I read about Nun’s Puffs, I knew I had to make them. Also known as Pets de Nonne or Nun’s Farts (yes, really), they practically melt in your mouth and look like individual Dutch babies: soft, fluffy and egg-y.

Typically these are served as a savory breakfast treat with jams or honey. I wanted to try them as a dessert, though, so I added some sugar to the dough. Since these were served after an Asian-inspired meal, I carried that influence to dessert by adding matcha powder and sprinkling it with black sesame seeds. A final flourish of pearl sugar added the best crunch.

You could very easily eat all of these in one sitting. They are that addictive. The dough is essentially a pâte à choux – the same dough for cream puffs and éclairs – only five or so ingredients. Feel free to omit the sugar and smear some honey instead for breakfast instead of dessert. These delightful little puffs are best eaten still warm from the oven. Enjoy and happy baking!

 

Matcha Nun’s Puffs
Adapted from Olga’s Flavor Factory
Makes 12

½ cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup milk
½ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup minus 1 Tbsp. flour, sifted
1 Tbsp. matcha powder, sifted
4 eggs
Coarse or pearl sugar for sprinkling
Black sesame seeds for sprinkling

• Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick spray.
• In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together the butter, milk and sugar until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and quickly whisk in the flour and matcha powder until a dough forms.
• Use an electric mixer on medium-high speed to beat in the eggs 1 at a time until the dough is smooth and lighter.
• Divide the dough evenly between the muffin cups. Sprinkle with coarse sugar and black sesame seeds. Bake 30 minutes, until puffed and golden on the edges.
• Let cool slightly (they will deflate as they cool) and serve warm.

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