Friday, December 2, 2011

Almond Joy Tart

I find that lately I am running into two kinds of people. Those who like coconut and those who don't. The Almond Joy candy bar has long since been a favorite of mine and irresistible in those cute small bite size pieces. In fact a co-worker of mine recently admitted (during Halloween) that she has a weakness for Almond Joy's and has to put the bag far far away from her or remove it from the house. As she is a beautiful young woman in the fitness industry and takes very good care of herself, I took this as a sign that we are all human and indeed the Almond Joy is beloved.

Admittedly, I was not excited about doing this recipe -at first. However,as I put the components together, I quickly remembered how good all these flavors are going to be as one. The tart crust has ground almonds in it, you have the rum and coconut and cream in the filling, and then a beautiful layer of chocolate on top garnished with some toasted almonds. Yum!  As this was my first tart, of course I loved the learning experience of baking and building this.

Baking the Tart: Despite using the foil/dried beans to weigh down the dough as it baked for the first 15 minutes , I still got lift in the center when it then baked on it's own the last 10 min (of 25). I will have to look into resolving that for next time. It only happened on 2 tarts and I can see on the bottom of the tart where there is some slight indentation. Not noticeable-but nothing like perfecting technique. And I need to roll my dough a bit thinner next time.

Coconut Cream Filling: I ended up having extra filling (??) and overfilled my tarts with the cream and threw the excess out. I think next time I will fill them less so I can leave some extra space for the chocolate to fill the top/center and nicely nestle into the sides of the crust. Mine came out looking not as refined as I would have liked but a successful first attempt.

Morgan is Mommy's little helper

Overall the recipe, to bake and build, is quite simple! It's just a bit time consuming with some of the product time requirements, which is what anyone doing this recipe, needs to know up front so you can plan this into a schedule and around other things.
  • The dough needs to be made and left to sit in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight
  • The cream needs to be made and set in the fridge while baking the tarts
  • After the dough is rolled out and filled in the tart pans, set in freezer for 30 min
  • Baking is a fast 25 min (15 with pie weights/10 without)
  • Let completely cool
  • Assemble/add chocolate topping,/ in fridge for 10 minutes to let chocolate set up

I have had other time consuming projects with the starts and stops but was surprised this little diddy had so much going in to it.

Textural goodness! Creamy, Crunchy, Chocolatey

To obtain this recipe and the 'How To', please visit our Club Baked Members site: Sassy is Baking

It is never too late to join Club Baked! We love getting new members to bake along with as we journey through the Baked Explorations baking book. If you would like to join our group, please visit our Club Baked site and get in touch with Karen, our group leader.

Coming up:
December 15th - Baked French Toast

Monday, November 14, 2011


In this Club Baked post: Buckeyes - a yummy peanut butter, chocolate candy

Baked Explorations Baking Book

Who knew there was so much history and information attached to this delightful candy?
I guess what I should say is- Who knew a nut could be so popular! The truth is that the buckeye nut from the genus Aesculus, a woody tree and shrub native to the northern hemisphere, has a ton of fans...literally.

If you are in Ohio, where these trees are common, you are likely a Buckeyes football fan. If you are in Europe, where the buckeye is known as the 'Conker' (from the Linnaeus species) then maybe you play Conker, a game whereby people try to crack and break the opponents conker, or as we know it, the buckeye.

In doing this blog I have even come to even see buckeye jewelry (really)! For those of you who don't know (or didn't) this is what the buckeye nut looks like:

buckeye nuts

I had done a different version of Buckeyes a year ago and I found them challenging to make especially since at that time I was trying to get a perfect circle on top, which is funny, since not all Buckeye nuts have a perfect circle. The advice I had read in coating the peanut butter ball was to insert a toothpick into the peanut butter ball and dip the ball into the chocolate. Not only was this ineffective (since as my pb ball got warm, it would slide off the toothpick) but once you are done coating the peanut butter ball and remove the toothpick, you are left with an uncomfortably awkward looking candy that has a hole in the center. And then if you try to fill or smooth over the peanut butter hole, it can look messy. Not the sort of candy I feel good about putting out.

So this time I just dropped it in the melted chocolate and moved it around until I got chocolate on it in the way I liked and I lifted out with a fork, tapping gently up and down against the double boiler letting the excess chocolate drop through the fork and back into the bowl.

I was much happier this time around and although it was only my second attempt, I was pleased and was happy to gift them to folks.

Unfortunately, as I have done lately, I get these recipes done so late that all the daylight is gone and I have to take the pictures at night. The lighting is not so great but still a decent representation.

This recipe is hosted by our fabulous Club Leader, Karen, of Karen's Cookies, Cakes & More. Please visit her site for the recipe of this simple & delicious candy.

Club Baked- December 1st
Almond Joy Tart

Monday, October 31, 2011

Caramel Apple Cake

This Caramel Apple Cake while beautiful, full of fall flavor that brought a smile to my face, warmth to my heart, and happiness to my stomach, was indeed an all day affair to make. This is not the post where I say how happy I was for a one page simple recipe! And as I am not a fan of multiple layer cakes (more than 2) I elected to stay as close to the book recipe and format, but omitting one layer.

The most important components of this cake are the apple sauce, the caramel, and the frosting. I did make my apple sauce and caramel from scratch which was fun, simple and filled the house with fall aromatics...and it tasted Delicious!!

I was impressed by the velvety smoothness of the frosting, and the caramely apple flavors of the cake overall, made it worth all of the work. Since I waited to do everything at once, it was a long day! Really though the apple sauce and caramel components, if you are making from scratch, can be done the day before. That alone saves time and breaks up the process making it more manageable -and- fun. This is a cake that truly deserves a place in any Fall line-up.


4-6 apples, peeled and cored
1/3 cup apple cider
Ground Cinnamon, to taste
1-2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
Classic Caramel Sauce
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 corn syrup
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened, cut into 1/2 cubes
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Apple Cake
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground all spice
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
4 cups homemade applesauce, or store bought unsweetened apple sauce
Carmel Buttercream Frosting
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons Classic Caramel Sauce


Apple Sauce
Take your apples and place them in a medium saucepan with the apple cider, ground cinnamon, and brown sugar. Cover the saucepan and cook for about 30 minutes. Uncover and mash as you would potatoes. You can mash as fine as yourpersonal preference allows. Feel free to leave it a little chunky, is that is your thing. Anything goes here.

Classic Caramel Sauce
In a medium saucepan with high sides, combine the sugar and corn syrup with 1/2 cup water. Stir the mixture gently so you don't slosh any of it up the sides of the pan. Turn the heat to medium-high and continue stirring until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to high, stop stirring, and allow the mixture to boil. Once it begins to turn a rich caramel color (if you don't want to eyeball it, take the caramel to 300 degrees F on a candy thermometer), remove it from the heat, add the butter and cream, and stir until combined.
You can save the caramel sauce, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Let it come to room temperature before using it on cakes, ice creams, or quick breads.
If you want a warm topping, heat the caramel sauce in short bursts in the microwave or in the top of a double boiler.
Apple Cake
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust the parchment with flour and knock the excess out.
Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves together into a large bowl. Set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy, about 4 minutes. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat until incorporated.
Add the flour mixture to the mixer bowl in three parts, alternating with applesauce, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl, then mix on low speed for a few more seconds.

Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and cook for 20 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto the rack, remove the parchment, and let cool completely.

Caramel Buttercream
In a medium-heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and had thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter and vanilla; mix until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Add 1/2 cup of the caramel and continue mixing until combined. If the frosting is too soft, put the bowl in the refrigerator to chill slightly, then beat again until it is the proper consistency. If the frosting is too firm, set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and beat with a wooden spoon until it is the proper consistency.

Assemble the Caramel Apple Cake
Place one cake layer on a serving platter. Trim the top to create a flat surface and evenly spread about 1 1/4 cups of the frosting on top. Add the next layer, trim and frost it, then add the third layer. Spread a very thin layer of frosting over the sides and top of the cake and put it in the refrigerator for abot 15 minutes to firm up. (This is known as crumb coating and will help to keep loose cake crumbs under control when you frost the outside of the cake.) Frost the sides and top with the remaining frosting. Drizzle on a few swirls of caramel and refrigerate the finished cake for 15 minutes to firm it up before serving.

This cake will keep beautifully in a cake saver at room temperature for up to 3 days, as long as the weather is cool and humidity free. Otherwise, place the cake in a cake saver and refrigerate it for up to 3 days. Let a chilled cake sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving.


  • The frosting got me the first time. I am not known for my patience so when it says to put the hot frosting base into the mixer and mix on high until cool...that it what one should do. I wasn't patient and my frosting base wasn't was still warm-ish when I added the butter/vanilla. The result was my first batch of frosting never set up, was liquid and tasted delicious. It looked and tasted more like a custard. Tasty mistake that I ate several spoons of before emptying down the sink. I tried putting it in the fridge with high hopes it would set up, but nope- didn't work. When I told Andy of my issue...he said "are you gonna do it again?" In my head I thought- Hell No- I really don't want to...but as we both tend to be particular about these things and since I had about 6 additional packages of butter in the fridge there was no good excuse not to! And I wanted to understand what the heck I did wrong.
    • This time I actually did what I was told to do. I let it beat on high until it was cool. To quicken the process I wrapped a cold wet kitchen towel around the mixing bowl. Once cool, I added the butter which was cold and straight from the fridge, chopped and then added in sections. Totally different result. Voi -%@*-  La!
  • Before adding frosting to each cake layer, I spread a layer of caramel on top first...and then put the frosting on top of that-Yum!


Source: Baked Explorations

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sawdust Pie

I am a big fan of one page recipes (even though the dough and cream were on other recipe pages). The Sawdust Pie reminds me of a pecan pie as the flavor and texture is similar and I think it's perfect for fall.

Talk about an easy to make pie! I hate to sound like a broken record, but this was another simple and straightforward dessert from Baked Explorations. I made the dough one night after work and stuck it in the fridge. Next day after work, came home rolled out the dough and did the rest. I was moving fast and it was done before I knew it. The only problem was after making and eating this delicious recipe, it dawned on me the next day that I couldn't remember if I did or did not put the graham crackers in. I have thought about it many times and still don't know. It's a great excuse to make it again.

Some of the ingredients are among my favorites (pecans, brown sugar, and graham crackers). However, my roommate can't stand coconut...the result of a drinking binge on Malibu back in his younger years. He was hesitant to eat it but did because that is what good roommates do, and thankfully, he loved it! He didn't taste the coconut flavor so much but could tell the texture was there but that didn't bother him so much. It was a success for him, which makes me happy as I do want to make this again soon.


Classic Pie Dough
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter

Sawdust Pie
1 ball classic pie dough
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 1/4 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
1 1/4 cups pecans, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs, about 21 graham crackers
2 ounces high-quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 egg whites
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Simple Whipped Cream
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar


Classic Pie Dough
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, and salt together. In a measuring cup, stir 3/4 cup water with several ice cubes until it is very cold.

Cut the cold butter into cubes and toss them into the mixture to coat. Put the mixture in the bowl of a food processor and pulse in short bursts until the butter pieces are the size of hazelnuts.

Pulsing in 4-second bursts, slowly drizzle the ice water into the food processor through the feed tube.

As soon as the dough comes together in a ball, stop adding water. Remove the dough from the food processor and divide it in half. Flatten each piece into a disk and wrap each disk first in parchment paper and then in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough until firm, about 1 hour. (The dough can be kept refrigerated for up top 3 days or frozen up to 3 months.Thaw it in the refrigerator before proceeding with your recipe.)

Sawdust Pie
Dust a work surface with a sprinkling of flour. Roll out the dough ball into a 12-inch round. Transfer it to a pie dish and carefully work it into place, folding any overhang under and crimping the edge as you go. Wrap and refrigerate the crust for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, use a wooden spoon to combine the sugars, coconut, pecans, graham crackers crumbs, white chocolate and salt. Add the egg whites and vanilla and stir together until just combined - the egg whites should coat all of the ingredients.

Transfer the filling to the prepared pie shell. Bake until filling is set to the touch, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool the pie for at least 1 hour before serving it warm, with whipped cream and sliced bananas, if you like.

Whipped Cream
Pour the cream into a chilled metal bowl and beat with a chilled whisk for about 1 minute or until soft peaks form. Sprinkle the sugar on the cream and continue whisking vigorously until stiff peaks form.


  • For the whipped cream, you can use a standing mixer with a whisk attachment. I do not have any intention to whisk by hand unless the electricity is out. And I definitely don't make time to chill my bowls or whisks.


Source: Baked Explorations

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pumpkin Cheddar Muffins

Fall is here and even though I live on the west coast and a short drive from the ocean, I absorb the trappings of the season as even Southern California can present. Fall is my favorite season and not just because I was born in October but because I have a sincere fondness for the seasonal foods with the warm spices and the change in weather means cool ocean breezes are replaced by the annual warm Santa Ana winds that roll through the mountains and onto the Pacific.


I also live just a couple miles from the local Underwood Family Farm and each year I get to witness the excitement in local residents as they spend more time at the farm stands buying seasonal produce and sorting through the pumpkins up for sale to find just the right ones. This is also the start of hay rides and corn maize, mazes. These are all things I look forward to as summer ends and fall begins.

With all that said, doing our first official fall recipe in Club Baked is something I have been waiting to dig into albeit with some skepticism. A recipe with these types of ingredients that indicates a sweet/savory muffin left me wondering if I would like it, hate it, or if it would be sort of- whatever. The end result is that the Pumpkin Cheddar Muffin is surprisingly very tasty and I had to stop myself from eating more. In fact that is not true...I didn't stop myself! I am still eating them as I write this post.


1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 1/4 cups (about 4 ounces) grated sharp cheddar
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, optional


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly spray each cup of a standard 12-cup muffin pan with a little bit of vegetable spray and use a paper towel to spread the oil evenly along the bottom and up the sides of each cup.

In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin and sour cream. Add the eggs and butter and whisk until combined.

In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, and brown sugar. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the well, and fold until just combined. Fold in three-quarters of the cheese.

Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Spring the remaining cheddar and the pumpkin seeds on top of the muffins. Bake them for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let the muffin pan cool on a rack for 10 minutes before turning the muffins out. Serve them warm.

Muffins taste best when eaten fresh, but they can be made ahead of time and reheated in a 200-degree oven.


  • At the advice of the authors in the 'Baked Note' (on the recipe page) to try the "raw-milk" variety of cheddar cheese I went to a local store,Whole Foods, that carries a wide variety of more indulgent, organic, and gourmet products to see if I could hunt this product down. Unfortunately, I did not find it  (pretty sure I just didn't look hard enough) although I did buy some other delicious cheeses for snacking. In the end, I used an organic brand of sharp cheddar from Vons.
  • I used the smaller pumpkin seeds for garnishing the muffin tops which I seasoned and baked prior to making the muffin recipe. I mixed the seeds with some sugar, butter, garlic powder, cayenne, chili powder, and Parmesan. I put the seeds on half of the muffins, the other half without. In the end both my roommate and I preferred the muffins with these sweet/savory seeds as they added just the right of amount of kick and the flavors blended beautifully with the muffin and added some needed textural crunch. My roommate and I discussed all the delicious crock-pot recipes this muffin would go great with in the coming months. It could easily take the place of a cornbread muffin with a savory winter chili
  • The recipe does call out for a standard size muffin pan (yield 12 muffins) but I used a large 6 muffin pan since I am large muffin kind of girl.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bananas Foster Fritters

You will never hear me complain about a spike of alcohol in my sweets. I adore hints of rum, small batch whiskey, or brandy laced into my dessert recipe or freshly whipped cream. The winner for me in today's recipe was the rum dipping sauce. The Banana Foster Fritters are amazing on their own and so full of flavor but I cannot imagine this recipe without the silky sauce to finish them off with.

Taking from my learning experience with the Buttermilk Farmstand Doughnuts, I knew I had to be a bit more patient in testing the oil temp and cooking time with my fritters. A flashback to my previous doughnut frying experience had me on recall that the temp the book suggested was too high and my doughnuts fried on the outside and were still doughy on the inside. Being 'new' I had fired off too many of the donuts out of the gate and didn't have much dough left to work with in 'getting it right'.

On this occasion after getting the oil up to suggested temp of 375, I tested one lonely fritter and although it tasted good, it was a bit overcooked on the outside and not quite finished on the inside. Similar to last time. Ultimately I kept the temp between 300 and 325 and baby sat my little fritters so they cooked about 8 minutes overall and finished with a nice color; not too dark on the outside and cooked (without being overly dry-a tad moist) on the inside.

Now- the rum dipping sauce (yum)...easy to make, and the 'fritter dunk' = Pure Deliciousness
Overall this was an easy to follow recipe with basic ingredients and the assembly process, simple. I give the Bananas Foster Fritters an A+ in the flavor category.


Dipping Sauce
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon banana liqueur (or pure vanilla extract)
2 tablespoons dark rum
Pinch cinnamon (optional)
Fritter Dough
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
3 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground all spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 medium ripe bananas
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 teaspoon banana liqueur or pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Vegetable oil for frying
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar


Rum Dipping Sauce
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir the butter and sugar together until smooth. Add the cream and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the liqueur, rum, and cinnamon, if using. Set aside until serving time. (The sauce can be made ahead. Allow it to cool, then cover it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Rewarm it over low heat in a saucepan or microwave it on short 15 second blasts before serving.)

Fritter Dough
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, all-spice, and 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon. Use your hands to run the chunks of sugar into the flour mixture and whisk again (it is okay to have a few chunky sugar pieces remaining).

In another large bowl, mash the bananas with your hands or a heavy spoon and stir in the rum, liqueur, and butter.

Use a rubber spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the banana mixture. The mix should look wet, but but should still hold its shape when scooped into a small ball. If the dough is too thin, keep folding in the flour 1 tablespoon at a time until it stiffens up. Refrigerate the dough while the frying oil heats and you prepare the sugar topping.

Pour enough oil into a deep skillet to fill 3/4 inch to 1 inch deep. Slowly heat the oil over medium-high heat until it registers 375 degrees F on a deep-frying thermometer.

While the oil heats, in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioner's sugar and remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Set aside.

Fry the Fritters
Line a plate with a double layer of paper towels and set it near your work area.

Using a small spatula and a small spoon, two spoons, or an ice cream scoop with a release mechanism, drop heaping spoonfuls of dough into the oil. Do not crowd the skillet. Cook until the fritters have browned on one side, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, turn them over and continue to cook for another 2 minutes, or until browned. Do not overcook or burn the fritters. Use the slotted spoon to transfer the fritters to the prepared plate and continue frying dough until finished. 

Place the fritters on a serving plate and sift the cinnamon sugar over them. Serve immediately with rum dipping sauce.



Monday, September 5, 2011

Boston Cream Pie Cake

As the Club Baked group works its way through Baked Explorations - Class American Desserts Reinvented, by Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito, I find myself continuing to learn new things and on a journey of surprise since the outcome is so unknown and the recipes present new challenges.

I have never eaten Boston Cream Pie in my life but have desperately wanted to especially after seeing an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay when Eunice Feller of Bread and Chocolate battled against Flay in a BCP challenge. Her cake consists of mostly that amazing vanilla cream custard (heaven) and the construction of her cake had me dreaming of it for days afterwards. Simply Amazing!Now here I am making and eating my first Boston Cream Pie!

While I didn't feel like my cake was hugely successful from an aesthetics standpoint, I realize it is my first time and I am gaining experience. The cake was delicious and in particular the vanilla custard! Wow! Very delicious when you put all three layers of chocolate, cake, and custard in one bite. This is a cake worth making at least one time and you don't necessarily have to do the whole thing, you can halve the recipe, use smaller cake tins and do two layers as opposed to four.


Sponge Cake
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup whole milk
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Pastry Cream Filling

7 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cornstarch
3 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons light rum
6 ounces good-quality dark chocolate (60 - 72%), finely chopped

Chocolate Glaze
5 ounces good-quality dark chocolate, (60 - 72%), coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder (like Valrhona)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup light corn syrup
Pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter


Milk Sponge Cake
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust the parchment with flour and knock out the excess flour.
In a large bowl, sift the cake flour, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside.

In a small saucepan over low heat, stir together the butter and milk until the butter is just melted. Do not overheat. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed until the mixture is pale and had tripled in volume, about 5 minutes.

Remove the bowl from the standing mixer and sprinkle with a third of the flour mixture over the egg mixture. Gently fold the two together, using a rubber spatula. Add the rest of the flour mixture and fold again.
Add the warm mixture ( if it has cooled completely, reheat it slightly) to the batter and gently fold until just incorporated.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The cake might appear wobbly if you shake the pan, but if pressed gently in the middle, it should spring back.
Transfer the cake pans to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto the rack and let them cool completely. Remove the parchment.

Pastry Cream Filling
In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, half of the sugar, the salt, and cornstarch until the mixture is pale, thick, and smooth.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the milk and the remaining half of the sugar. Continue stirring until the mixture boils. Remove the pan from the heat, and pour about a third of the liquid into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Transfer the tempered egg mixture back to the saucepan with the remaining milk mixture and, whisking constantly, bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 2 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and strain through a fine meshed sieve into a large bowl. Stir in the butter, vanilla, and rum until combined.

Scoop a third of the pastry cream into a different bowl and set it aside. Add the chocolate to the warm pastry cream remaining in the pan and stir until melted and smooth. Scoop the chocolate cream into a bowl. Once both pastry creams have cooled for about 15 minutes, wrap both bowls in a plastic wrap, pressing the plastic directly onto the top of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours or overnight.

Chocolate Glaze
Place the chocolate and cocoa powder in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until completely melted and smooth.

In another small saucepan, combine the sugar, cream, corn syrup, and salt with 1/4 cup water. Place the pan over low heat and warm, without stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to medium and simmer for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the vanilla and butter. Whisk to release excess heat, then add the reserved chocolate mixture and stir until smooth. Set the sauce aside; it will thicken while you assemble the cake.

Assemble the Boston Cream Pie Cake
Using a serrated knife, cut the cake layers in half horizontally. Place the first cake layer on a platter and scoop half of the chocolate pastry cream on top. Spread the cream evenly to the cake's edges using an offset spatula.

Add a second cake layer and cover that with vanilla cream.
Add a third cake layer and cover it with the remaining chocolate cream.
Place the last cake layer on top and press gently with your palms to help the cake layers adhere to the pastry cream.

Very slowly, pour the thickened chocolate glaze onto the center of the top of the cake. Use an offset spatula to spread it out to the edges so that it drips down the sides of the cake. Let the sauce thicken for about 20 minutes before serving.

The cake tastes best when eaten within 24 hours. If you have leftovers, tent the entire cake in foil and refrigerate. Serve it chilled or at room temperature.


Source: Baked Explorations


Monday, August 15, 2011

Sunday Night Cake

Ahh- Sunday! The last wonderful day of respite before heading into Monday and the start of another work week.
So what could be nicer than enjoying the last moments of the weekend making and eating an easy to make cake that has just enough chocolate (and cake) to satisfy and takes little time to pull together. Simple ingredients - great result.

Following the recipe in Baked Explorations, I ended up being surprised by a cake that has a deceiving frosting that looks heavy and decadent but in my opinion was light, airy, with a delicate chocolatey taste combined with a moist, subtly sweet cake. Good combo!

My cake was maybe more moist than it should be but it was still Delish! and I ate all of my piece, which was pretty much that whole section missing :) .



1 3/4 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup sour cream

Chocolate Frosting
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder (like Valrhona)
3 ounces good-quality unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1/2-inch pieces


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9-inch square cake pan with parchment paper and butter the sides and bottom of the parchment paper.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat for a few seconds. Turn the mixer to low. Add the flour mixture in theree parts, alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl and beat for a few more seconds.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool for at least 20 minutes, loosen the sides of the cake from the pan then turn the cake out onto the rack. Remove the parchment and flip the cake right side up. Let the cake completely cool.

Chocolate Frosting
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and cocoa powder. Add the chopped chocolate. Pour 1 cup boiling water into the pan, wait 30 seconds, then whisk until the mixture is combined and the chocolate is melted.

Turn the heat to medium-high and whisk continuously for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture begins to thicken. ( Once pudding begins to thicken, it will come together very quickly).

Remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high until the steam escapes and the mixture is room temperature. Add the butter and mix for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until the frosting is light and pudding-like. If you prefer a fluffier, more spreadable frosting, continue to mix for a few minutes longer.

Frost the top of the cake, allowing a little of the frosting to drip down the edges. Chill for 5 minutes to set the frosting. Serve immediately.

The cake can be stored, tightly covered, in a refrigerator for up to 3 days. Bring it back to room temperature before serving.


 Source: Baked Explorations

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Chocolate Mint Thumbprints

What a delightful light little cookie that offers nice presentation! I was pleased with the simple and airy chocolate crusted cookie whose little dollop of minty ganache on top gently lures you in. The visual temptation of a sugared crunchy cookie with a soft center is very hard to refuse.

This, our third recipe, in Club Baked was simple and straightforward. I took my time and decided on this day it would get done, when it got done - No rush!

I followed the instructions as much as my attention would allow and had success with the dough. I saw some previous online club discussion related to the cocoa powder. Not being in the mood for big decisions (as I realize the wrong product can make or break a baking recipe) I just used Hershey's unsweetened cocoa powder I had on hand.

I used a tablespoon to measure out my dough balls, rolled in raw sugar, and used the handle end of a wood spoon to make my initial ganache center.

At the ten minute mark, I pulled out of the oven and used the backside of a teaspoon to set the indentation further. I realize the circumference of my center is not as large as the picture displays but I was fine with that...also wasn't concerned with the cracks (as mentioned in the book to avoid) and I actually like the way they look and it didn't interfere with the integrity of the cookie.

I had success (hoorah!) with the simple to make and tasty white chocolate/peppermint ganache which has a balanced flavor (I get skeptical of minty items being overpowering) and it set beautifully as described after holding up in the fridge for 30 minutes.
As I do, I once again pushed my delectable food off on other people so it's not in my house. The response from my co-workers was one of surprise! They hadn't anticipated by the look of the cookie to think it was minty and were quickly hooked by eating the first one. By mid afternoon all the cookies were eaten and by the end of the day at least one person said they were still thinking about the cookie. That is a good result!


Chocolate Mint Thumbprints
2 ounces good-quality chocolate (60 - 72%)
2 ounces mint chocolate (or Andes mint chocolate candies)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder (like Valrhona)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup coarse sugar for rolling

White Chocolate Ganache
3 ounces good-quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract


Melt the dark chocolate and mint chocolate together in a microwave or over a double boiler. Whisk until smooth, then set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt, set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy. Add the granulated and brown sugars and beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and beat again until combined. Scrape the chocolate into the mixer and beat until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and add the flour mixture all at once. Beat on low speed, scraping the side of the bowl occasionally, until the dough is smooth. Transfer it to a sheet of plastic wrap and pat it into a disk; wrap and refrigerate it until it is chilled and firm, at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Pour the coarse sugar into a shallow bowl.

With clean hands, form tablespoon size dough balls, taking care that they have no lumps or cracks. Roll each ball int he coarse sugar and place it on a prepared baking sheet. Use your thumb or a small dowel to make an indentation in the center of the cookie. Bake for 10 minutes, remove the sheet from the oven, and use your thumb or the dowel to make the indentation more visible. Return the sheets to the oven and bake for another 4 to 5 minutes. (These are the type of cookies that can overbake very quickly-pull them out at the first signs of cracking.) Set the baking sheets on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Use a spatula to transfer the cookies to the rack to cool completely before filling them.

White Chocolate Filling

Place the white chocolate in a glass measuring cup with a pour spout. Put the cream in a microwave-safe bowl or cup and microwave it on high power until it boils, about 30 seconds. Pour the hot cream over the white chocolate and let stand for 30 seconds, then whisk until smooth. Stir in the peppermint extract. Fill the thumbprint cookies with the white chocolate ganache and refrigerate them until set, about 30 minutes.

These cookies taste great at room temperature or cold from the refrigerator. They can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


Source: Baked Explorations

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Farm Stand Buttermilk Doughnuts ~three ways ~

I have never met a doughnut I didn't like. In fact, pretty sure I have never met anything sweet I didn't like. Doughnuts, however, are an occasional thing for me and usually come into my life at an actual doughnut shop and relate to 'moving day' or some travel adventure on the open road, early in the morning. There is something fun and uniquely special about walking into a doughnut shop and being overwhelmed by the warmth from the ovens and the sweet aroma's that hang in the air. I usually stand staring into the doughut case for what seems like many minutes while I try to figure out which doughnut(s) I want. If you are like me, there is no picking just one.

This was the first time ever in my life that I have made doughnuts at home and from scratch. While they did not turn out beautiful, they tasted outstanding. My experience was a little bit challenging and I found myself cursing more than usual and with a high degree of flour and stickiness all over everything. Not to be outdone by a doughnut, I pressed on, while considering changing my blog name to Baked Disasters.

Ultimately I achieved success and had to spend some time altering the temperature of the oil to what was working versus what the book was suggesting. It was also my first time using a thermometer, so perhaps it was something I did. I enjoyed the doughnut flavor very much as buttermilk donuts have historically been one of my favorites in the plain, non glazed, variety. While not fancy, they are very satisfying to me and not overly sweet and they have a soft inside with a crunchy texture which you cannot beat. You really cannot go wrong with these doughnuts.


3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large eggs
3/4 buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
Vegetable oil for frying

Chocolate Dip
4 ounces good quality, dark chocolate (60 - 70%), coarsely chopped
1/2cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Sprinkles to decorate

Vanilla Glaze
2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/4 whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Sprinkles to decorate
Cinnamon Sugar
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon


Line one baking sheet with parchment paper and another baking sheet with two layers of paper towels.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, buttermilk, and sour cream until combined. Add the melted butter and whisk again.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour the liquid ingredients into the well. With a rubber spatula, slowly fold the flour into the liquid center until the mixture forms a sticky dough.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface lightly dusted with flour. Sprinkle the top of the dough and pat it out until it is about 1/2 inch thick.

Use two round cutters (3 1/4 inch and 1 1/2 inch for large doughnuts; 2 1/2 inch and 1 inch for smaller doughnuts). Dip the large cutter in flour and press out the rounds. Dip the smaller cutter in the flour and cut out the center of each dough round. Arrange both doughnuts and doughnut holes on the parchment-lined baking sheet, pat the dough scraps back together, and use them to make as many doughnuts and doughnut holes as possible. Chill the dough while you heat the oil.

Pour enough oil into a deep skillet to make a layer approximately 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches deep. Slowly heat the oil over medium- high heat until it is 365 to 370 degrees F.

While you are waiting for the oil to reach temperature, make the assorted toppings.

Chocolate Dip
Place the chopped chocolate in a medium wide-mouthed bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the cream until it is just about to boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and wait 1 minute. Whisk until smooth. Whisk in the butter. Keep the mixture warm.

Vanilla Glaze
In a medium wide-mouthed bowl, whisk together the sugar, the milk, and the vanilla paste.

Cinnamon Sugar
In a medium wide-mouthed bowl, whisk together the cinnamon and sugar.

To Fry the Doughnuts
Once the oil reaches temperature, gently life the large doughnuts off the baking sheet and place them in the hot oil. Do not crowd the skillet - make no more than 3 doughnuts at a time. Once they have browned on one side (this takes 2 to 3 minutes), turn them over with tongs or a slotted spoon and continue to cook for another minute or just until browned (they can overcook or burn quickly). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the doughnuts to the paper-towel lined baking sheet and continue to fry the rest of the dough until finished. The doughnut holes will cook faster and can be made in two or three batches after the doughnuts are done.

Assemble the Doughnuts
Once you have finished frying, work quickly to dip the doughnuts in the chocolate or vanilla glaze, or the cinnamon sugar. If you like, decorate the chocolate or vanilla doughnuts with sprinkles. Serve immediately.


New York-Style Crumb Cake


This recipe for crumb cake has been made so many times in my efforts to share goodness and make people happy, that I have lost count. It is a recipe that I refer people to on a regular basis and every time people have reported to love it! My roommate shares this with people at work who now know it by name and get thrilled whenever they see him walk in with a plastic container... " Is that the crumb cake"? ...Oh yes it is!


Crumb Topping
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and warm
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position the rack in the center. Butter the sides and bottom of a glass 9 -by-13-inch pan. You can use a metal, but the edges of the cake may turn crispy.

Crumb Topping
In a medium bowl, stir together both sugars, the salt, and the cinnamon. Add the melted butter and whisk until combined. Fold in the flour until it is absorbed and set the mixture aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter until it is completely smooth and ribbon-like. Scrape down the bowl and add the sugar. Beat the mixture until it starts to look fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again for 30 seconds. Add the sour cream and vanilla and beat just until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, scraping down the bowl before each addition, beating only until it is just incorporated.

Assemble the cake
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Use your hands to scoop up a handful of the topping and make a fist. The topping should hold together. Break off in chunks and and drop them over the cake. Repeat to use all of the topping. Remember, the topping layer will look outrageously thick.

Bake the cake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Rotate the pan two times during the baking process. Cool the entire pan on a wire rack for about 30 minutes before serving.

The cake will last for 3 days, tightly covered, at room temperature.