Learning to bake fearlessly <3

Archive for the ‘adult desserts’ Category

Honey liqueur spiked caramel sauce


One of my big cooking fears was caramel. How much do you cook it? What if it scorches? What if it crystallizes, or never thickens up in the first place? What if it tastes terrible?

Nevertheless, I got a craving the other day for spiked caramel sauce over vanilla ice cream–which oddly is something I’d never had before–so I decided to be brave. Learn to bake fearlessly, right?I googled up a recipe, went out for some heavy cream, and–caramel! It was nowhere near as hard as I thought it’d be, once I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. I actually thought it was a shade light, but it was still really good, at least as good as the bottled caramel sauce from the store. I had some over vanilla bean ice cream with my friend Beth, and it was good.

The recipe uses Barenjager, a honey liqueur that has good associations for me. For as long as I can remember, there’s been a bottle shaped like a cute beehive sitting with the liquor at my parents’ New Years Eve parties, which were always a ton of fun. And it goes great with the smooth caramel! But I bet any booze you choose would go just as well.

Honey liqueur spiked caramel sauce
5 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 ounces Barenjager honey liqueur
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1.5 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
From Rachel Cooks

Combine butter, cream, vanilla, Barenjager, and salt in a small saucepan. Stick it on the stove over medium high heat until just boiling, stirring once in a while. Watch it carefully! It should be a nice yellow color from the butter.

Set that aside off the heat, and then combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a different saucepan. Stir til combined, then heat on the stove over medium high heat, this time without stirring. Watch it til it turns a nice gold (see picture).

When it’s the right color, take it off the heat and slowly pour the cream mixture in, whisking constantly. It will bubble up, so be prepared. Store in a heatproof container til thickened. Serve over vanilla bean ice cream, on apples, or however you like! Refrigerate when not eating.

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A milestone: Chocolate layer cake with mocha fudge filling and kahlua espresso swiss meringue buttercream


My birthday’s coming up fast! I’m about to turn 21, the last of the “Oh boy! Now I can do things!” birthdays. It’s a milestone I’ve been looking forward to for a while, truth be told. There’s a kind of chocolate wine at the grocery store I’ve been eyeing up for ages. ;) And another milestone is coming with it! I’m making my own birthday cake this year. It’s kind of intimidating, but I think I can do it. And if I can’t, not a huge deal! That’s part of what this blog is about–learning to get past my mistakes and keep on baking fearlessly.

My original idea was to make a boozy cake, but I knew my little sister wouldn’t want to eat it then. So it became the practice cake. Funnily enough, I found the perfect filling recipe only about an hour before I decided to start baking! It was like it was meant just for me, decadent fudge with just a little bit of coffee to it. And the swiss meringue buttercream was an absolute must. I haven’t made it in ages, and it was high time to start again with it. I played with the recipe a little because I didn’t have quite enough eggs for my usual one, and I ended up liking it a lot! Note: the black flecks you see in the frosting are ground coffee. I threw some in, but I would omit it next time since it gave some bites a weird gritty texture. I’ve omitted it in the recipe. It comes out gorgeous, light and fluffy and deliciously tasting of kahlua. The chocolate cake is the first recipe I posted on the blog. The character on top is Azula from Avatar: The Last Airbender, done in homemade marshmallow fondant (recipe to follow in another post). I’m on a huuuuuge Legend of Korra kick after the finale, so I’ve been rewatching both series lately. :D All together, it’s heavenly. And while it’s not perfect-looking, it’s pretty good for a first try! I’m completely satisfied. And I can only get better from here!

Dark chocolate cake
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup dutch-process cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 4.3 oz box chocolate pudding mix
2 eggs
1 cup black coffee
1 cup milk, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Makes enough for two thick 8″ layers or three regular ones

Adapted from Sweetapolita

Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease or butter&flour your cake pans. Whisk together the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the wet ingredients and mix on lowest setting with the paddle attachment until just combined, then at medium speed (around 6 on a Kitchenaid mixer) for two minutes. The batter will be thin, that’s fine. Pour into your pans and bake around 37 minutes for a thick layer or 28 minutes for a thin one. Stick these in the freezer (if you plan to stack them, wrap in plastic wrap first) while you make the frosting and filling.

Kahlua espresso swiss meringue buttercream
8 large egg whites (set one yolk aside for the mocha fudge filling)
2 cups granulated sugar
6 sticks (2 pounds) unsalted butter, not cold, cut into cubes
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tbsp kahlua coffee liqueur
1 tbsp instant espresso (I used mocha flavor)
Makes enough to frost and fill an 8″ layer cake

I always cube and set out my butter on a plate first thing, and let it warm up while I work on the rest. Wipe out your mixer bowl and mixer attachments VERY well, making sure there’s no trace of grease. The first thing you’re going to do is make a meringue, and any grease could cause it to fail. Heat a large pot with an inch or so of water on the stove until it’s just simmering—we don’t want to cook our egg whites. Add the egg whites and sugar to your mixer bowl and whisk constantly until the sugar is melted and the egg whites are warm.

Stick your bowl on your mixer with whisk attachment and whip the egg/sugar mixture on medium-low (say 3 on a Kitchenaid) for a couple minutes, then switch to medium-high (say 7 or so on a Kitchenaid) until they’re white and fluffy, and the bowl is neutral to the touch. For me, it takes around 7-8 minutes. Voila! You made meringue. But it’s going to get even better still.

When the bowl feels room-temperature, switch to the paddle attachment on low speed and add your cubed butter one or two cubes at a time. This is the tricky part, and where it may look like everything’s gone wrong. At this stage, it is totally okay if your buttercream looks grainy, more like scrambled eggs. Trust me! Just keep whipping it, scraping the paddle clean if need be. Eventually, it will turn into creamy, smooth loveliness. Add your kahlua, espresso powder, vanilla, and salt, and whip it a bit longer, until they’re evenly incorporated. Transfer to a separate bowl and clean out your mixer for the next step!

Mocha fudge filling
6 ounces good semisweet chocolate
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tablespoon instant espresso (again, I used mocha flavor)
Makes enough to fill between three layers of an 8″ cake

From Ina Garten

Chop and melt your chocolate in a double boiler or heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water, then set aside to cool. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, whip your butter on medium high til it’s light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and keep beating until they’re completely mixed in, about three minutes. Slow your mixer to low speed and gradually add your powdered sugar until it’s completely incorporated and creamy. Then make sure your chocolate has cooled to room temperature, and add it and the espresso (dissolved in two tsp of hot but not boiling water) to the filling, and mix on low speed.

Assembling the cake
Remove your cake layers from the freezer and slap a ring of frosting on the cake board to keep the cake in place, then place the first layer in the middle of the board. Pipe a ring of kahlua frosting around the very edge, then fill the middle with mocha filling, smoothing it. Stack the next layer on top (if you plan on doing three layers, repeat the filling step and place the top layer on), and smooth a very thin layer of frosting over the cake, making sure to cover it all. It’s all right if you get some crumbs in it. This is called crumb coating, and it’s important if you want a pretty, crumb-free finish. Stick it in the fridge for about half an hour to an hour to set up. Once it’s set, smooth the final layer of frosting over, decorate with fondant or frosting as desired, then pipe borders around the top and bottom. I used a small closed star tip for the top (and the flame in Azula’s hand) and a round tip for the bottom, with frosting tinted blue.

Cup(cakes) of Scorn


I’m not generally a horror-movie girl, but about three years ago, I fell in love with a movie called REPO! The Genetic Opera. It’s a rock opera set in a dystopian future where organ repossessions are legal and surgery, a fashion statement, and it follows the ascent of a young girl into adulthood over the course of a single tumultuous day. It’s an amazing movie, and if you have a stomach for a little gore, I would definitely suggest checking it out, but through it, I found a much greater treasure–some of the best friends I’ve ever, ever had. That’s what’s kept me into it.

And a few months ago, we added a new bunch of friends to our chat group–you see, the guys who made Repo have nearly finished work on a new creation, The Devil’s Carnival!

It’ll be airing as a road tour next month, and I’m super excited. So this recipe is my nod to one of the characters: the Painted Doll, played by the lovely Emilie Autumn!

“Cup of scorn” is a phrase that’s been tossed around the fandom, so I asked myself, what would scorn taste like? Sweet and enticing, but dark and deep, with a bit of spice and a wicked bite. And this is what I came up with: sweet, dark molasses and bittersweet chocolate, seductively smooth and silky nutella, cinnamon’s sweet spice, the burn and bite of good bourbon, and a bit of hellfire in the form of cayenne pepper. I garnished with a half-heart slice of apple, a nod to the Doll’s character. And the verdict? Sooooo good. Dad kept sneaking to the mixing bowl for a bit of frosting. I’d say that’s a winner!

Dark chocolate molasses cake
Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 of a 4.3 oz box chocolate pudding mix
1 egg
1/2 cup black coffee
1/2 cup milk, room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon molasses
Small amount of bourbon (to brush)

Makes roughly a dozen cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 350 F, and line your cupcake pan. Whisk together the dry ingredients in the bowl of a mixer. Add the wet ingredients and mix on lowest setting with the paddle attachment until just combined, then at medium speed (around 6 on a Kitchenaid mixer) for two minutes. The batter will be thin, that’s fine. Fill your baking cups about ¾ full and bake 15-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center cupcake comes out clean. Allow to cool, then brush with bourbon.

Nutella cinnamon swiss meringue buttercream
Ingredients
9 large egg whites
2 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar
6 sticks (2 pounds) unsalted butter, not cold, cut into cubes
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup nutella
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Cayenne pepper (for sprinkling)

Makes enough frosting for 2 dozen cupcakes

I always cube and set out my butter on a plate first thing, and let it warm up while I work on the rest. Wipe out your mixer bowl and mixer attachments VERY well, making sure there’s no trace of grease. The first thing you’re going to do is make a meringue, and any grease could cause it to fail. Heat a large pot with an inch or so of water on the stove until it’s just simmering—we don’t want to cook our egg whites. Add the egg whites and sugar to your mixer bowl and whisk constantly until the sugar is melted and the egg whites are warm.

Stick your bowl on your mixer with whisk attachment and whip the egg/sugar mixture on medium-low (say 3 on a Kitchenaid) for a couple minutes, then switch to medium-high (say 7 or so on a Kitchenaid) until they’re white and fluffy, and the bowl is neutral to the touch. For me, it takes around 7-8 minutes. Voila! You made meringue. But it’s going to get even better still.
When the bowl feels room-temperature, switch to the paddle attachment on low speed and add your cubed butter one or two cubes at a time. This is the tricky part, and where it looks like everything’s gone wrong. At this stage, it is totally okay if your buttercream looks grainy, more like scrambled eggs. Trust me! Just keep whipping it, scraping the paddle clean if need be. Eventually, it will turn into creamy, smooth loveliness. Taste a little of it now—isn’t it just knee-weakeningly good? But it’s going to get even better!

Add vanilla, nutella, cinnamon, and salt, and whip it a bit longer, until they’re evenly incorporated. And don’t be afraid to play with different flavors or proportions. Pipe onto cupcakes, but make sure you have a little left over to eat with a spoon! ;D Sprinkle with cayenne, to taste.