Monday, April 20, 2009

Yogurt Mousse Cake

I have been eyeing The Cake Book cookbook for some time now. Lucky for me, I was eyeing it on my friends bookshelf. My friend is a professional chef, so the wealth of knowledge is unbelievable. It's probably one of my favorite past times to just cuddle up with a blanket and read cookbooks, imaging having the time to make all of the recipes in the books and those that I think of when the creative juices get flowing. One day I was hijacking my friends couch and cookbooks and found this cake. My friend was practically salivating when I was showing her this cake, as she is a dairy freak. Literally, I've seen her suck a milk carton basically inside out for the last drop of milk. Classy I tell you!

It just so happened to be close to her birthday, so I decided that a wonderful way to celebrate would be to stuff ourselves full of this cake. This cake was delicious. The cake was light and airy and the yogurt provided the perfect amount of tartness to complement the sweetness of the cake. The recipe originally calls for Earl Grey tea to be used to flavor the syrup to brush the cake layers, but I used Irish Breakfast and it was absolutely delicious. The light fresh flavors make this cake perfect for the spring. I will definitely be making this again.

Yogurt Mousse Cake (Adapted from The Cake Book by Tish Boyle)
Makes 8-10 servings


Classic Genoise
1 cup (3.5 oz) sifted cake flour
1/2 tsp salt
6 large eggs
3/4 cup (5.3 oz) sugar
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled in a 1 cup capacity bowl

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1 Irish Breakfast tea bag
1 tsp lemon juice

Yogurt Mousse
2 cups plain organic whole milk yogurt
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups plus 1/3 cup heavy cream, divided
2 tsp unflavored powdered gelatin
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar

Honeyed Raspberries
2 Tbsp honey
6 oz fresh raspberries


Make the Classic Genoise
~ Position the rack to the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Grease the bottom and sides of one 9x3-inch springform pan or two 9x2 round cake pans. Dust the pan(s) with flour and set aside.
~ Sift together the flour and salt in a medium bowl and stir to combine.
~ In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the eggs and sugar by hand. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the mixing bowl. Constantly stir the mixture and heat until the eggs are warm. Transfer to the bowl to the electric mixer and, using the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until the mixture has tripled in volume, about 8 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the lemon zest and vanilla extract.
~Sift 1/3 of the flour mixture over the egg mixture and gently fold it in with a rubber spatula. Repeat sifting and folding in flour two more times.
~ Transfer about 3/4 cup of the batter into the melted butter. Stir until blended. Return to batter and fold in. Transfer batter to the prepared pan(s).
~If using 9-inch springform pan, bake for 25 to 30 minutes and if using two 9-inch cake pans, bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the tops spring back when lightly touched and cake tester inserted into center comes out clean.
~Cool the cake(s) in the pan(s) on a wire rack for 15 minutes.
~Invert cake(s) onto the wire rack and cool completely.

STORAGE: Store at room temperature, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 3 days, or refrigerate for up to a week.

Make the Syrup
~Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat. Stir constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture comes to a boil. Remove the saucepan from heat and add tea bag. Allow syrup to steep for 15 minutes.
~Remove the tea bag, making sure to extract any remaining liquid from the bag. Stir in the lemon juice. Allow mixture to cool.

Make the Yogurt Mousse
~Line a strainer with 2 layers of cheesecloth and place over a bowl. Add yogurt and let drain at room temperature for about an hour.
~Move drained yogurt (just over 1 cup) into a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Add lemon zest and vanilla extract and whisk to combine.
~In a small heatproof cup, put 1/3 cup heavy cream. Sprinkle gelatin over the cream to bloom (soften). Add 1 cup water to a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to water to a simmer.
~Meanwhile, in a large bowl beat the remaining 1 1/2 cup heavy cream until soft mounds begin to form. Slowly add confectioners' sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Be careful to not over beat.
~Place the cup with the cream and gelatin into the saucepan of simmering water. Stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Pour the gelatin into the yogurt and whisk until blended. Gently fold the yogurt mixture into the whipped cream.

Assemble the Cake
~Using a serrated knife, cut each layer of the Classic Genoise into 2 horizontal layers. (If making Genoise in a 9x3-inch springform pan, cut into 4 layers. You will only need 3 layers, so the remaining fourth layer can be yours to snack on!) Place a small amount of yogurt mousse on a cake board or cake plate to help prevent slippage. Place one layer, cut side up and brush the layer generously with the syrup, using about 1/3 of the syrup. Place about 1 1/2 cups of the yogurt mousse on the cake layer. Using an offset spatula, spread mousse to the edge of the cake layer. Top with second cake layer, cut side up, and brush with 1/3 of the syrup. Spread another 1 1/2 cups of the yogurt mousse over the cake layer. Place the final layer on top, cut side up and brush with remaining syrup. Frost the cake with the remaining mousse by placing it on the top of the cake and spreading over the top and sides. Refrigerate the cake while preparing the honeyed raspberries.

Preparing the Honeyed Raspberries
~Warm the honey in the microwave (about 10 seconds on high power) or in a small saucepan over low heat. In a medium bowl, pour the warm honey over the berries. Gently toss the berries until they are evenly coated with the honey. Arrange the berries in the center of the cake, piling them up. They will start to clump as they cool.

If desired, serve cake slices drizzled with mint syrup (below).

STORAGE: Store in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for up to 3 days.

Mint Syrup
1/4 cup loosely packed mint leaves
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp water

~Combine all the ingredients in blender or small food processor and process until mint is finely chopped. Transfer the syrup to a plastic squeeze bottle for easy plating.

STORAGE: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Outrageous Brownies!

I think this brownie recipe was made for Ray. Ray is my coworker and a very close friend and loves to tell how he likes to make brownies and mid-way through baking, take them out and hit the pan on the counter to make a really dense brownie. Well today is Ray's birthday and I wanted to make something for him that he would really really enjoy. Happy Birthday Ray!

I am not the hugest chocolate fan, especially in baked goods, but these brownies do live up to their name...they are definitely outrageous. They are extremely dense but melt in your mouth. The walnuts provide a nice contrast in texture. The coffee lends a subtle flavor under the main chocolate attraction. And they have just the right amount of sugar to keep my sweet tooth happy while still providing a rich, tasty treat.

I will warn you that this recipe makes a lot of batter and a really large bowl is needed to make these. I had to switch out bowls when I things got to be too much. I made a full recipe and used 2 9x13 pans which seemed to work well. You can easily halve this recipe and bake in 1 9x13 pan.

Ina's Outrageous Brownies (from Ina Garten via Food Network)
Makes 20 large or about 40 smaller brownies, depending on cutting preference

1 pound unsalted butter, softened
1 pound plus 12 oz semisweet chocolate chips (divided into 1 pound for melting and 12 oz chips)
6 oz unsweetended chocolate
6 extra-large eggs
3 Tbsp instant coffee powder
2 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (1 cup for batter, 1/4 cup mixed with nuts and chocolate chip)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
3 cups diced walnut pieces (I roasted whole walnuts for about 8 min before cooling and dicing)

~Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 13 x 18 x 1 1/2-inch sheet pan.
~Melt together the butter, 1 pound of semisweet chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate on top of a double boiler. Cool slightly. In a large bowl, stir together the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla, and sugar. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.
~Stir together 1 cup of the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and 12 ounces of chocolate chips with 1/4 cup flour to coat. Then add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared pan.
~Bake for about 30 minutes, or until tester just comes out clean. Halfway through the baking, rap the pan against the oven shelf to allow air to escape from between the pan and the brownie batter. Do not over-bake. Cool thoroughly, refrigerate well and cut into squares.


A Flock of Peeps

Growing up, I really really disliked Peeps. And I mean really. Probably because the only ones we had in the house were from last year, since my mom liked them rock hard. However after seeing this post on Erin's Food Files, I thought I get in the spring spirit and try these.

These were quite easy to make, although these photos are from my second batch because I changed my technique a bit and thought these were significantly better. The first batch, I followed the piping directions from Erin's blog and accentuated the tail, but I felt the two-peice chicks left somthing to desire. With the second batch, I did one continuous motion, starting at the tail, piping a 1 inch wide oval. At the front of the chick, I raised the tip and continued to pipe while forming the head. Then I started to reduce the pressure on the bag and brought the tip down to form the beak.

I did use a piping bag with Wilton tip # 1A (about a 1/2-inch wide), but a ziploc bag with a corner cut off will work just as well. I would suggest pulsing your sugar crystals in a food processor a bit to get a finer texture. I did this with the second batch and I felt it was a much more pleasurable experience to eat.

It's an added bonus to say these are fat-free. (Ignore the whole empty calorie thing)

Marshmallow (From Martha Stewart, seen on Erin's Food File)

1 pkg unflavored gelatin (2 1/2 tsp)
1/3 cup cold water
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar

~In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle gelatin over 1/3 cup cold water. Let gelatin sit for about 5 minutes to soften.
~Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, mix 1/4 cup water and sugar. Heat over medium heat, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved. Stop stirring to prevent sugar crystals from forming, and place candy thermometer in sugar syrup. Wipe sides of saucepan with a wet brush to if sugar cyrstals have splashed onto the sids. Boil sugar until the syrup reaches the soft ball stage (238 degrees).
~Remove from heat and add to gelatin. Gently stir the mixture to combine and cool slightly. With the whisk attachment, beat on medium high speed until soft peaks form and the marshmallow holds its shape, about 8 to 10 minutes.
~Transfer marshmallow to a large piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip and use immediately.

To form Chicks
~Sprinkle some coating sugar on the bottom of a lipped baking sheet.
~Pipe a 1-inch wide oval that is about 2 inches long. At the end of the oval, continue piping while raising the tip to form the head. Slightly move the tip back towards the tail of the chick. After the head is formed, bring the tip forward and down while releasing the pressure to form the beak.
~If desired, coat your finger tips with some confectioner's sugar and use your fingers to form more of a tail on your chicks.
~Immediately pour more sugar over the chick. Using a small icing spatula, lift more sugar onto uncovered spots on the chick. (I also used the spatula to prepare small mounds of sugar to turn the chicks into to help get complete coverage)
~Move completed chicks to another cookie sheet to allow to set.
~Use either royal icing or cocoa powder mixed with water. I applied the cocoa mixture with the tip of a toothpick.

~You'll probably be able to have to soften the marshmallow in the microwave a couple times in the process to keep it pipeable. I reheated it for 10 seconds and the consistancy returned, but it's best to work fast.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Almond Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling

These were the second type of cupcakes that I made for my monthly Stamp Camp. I think these were my favorite, only because I love almond and cream cheese. I mean, what's not to love.

The cakes were sweet and light. The almond wasn't overpowering but complimented the raspberry filling well. I think the only thing I would change is to not add Amaretto to the frosting, but actually add almond extract to bring more consistent flavor throughout the entire cupcake.

Almond Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling (Adapted from Apple a Day)
Makes 24 cupcakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, at room temperature (1 1/2 sticks)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp almond extract
1 cup milk
5 egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup raspberry preserves, slightly melted

~Place oven rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Prepare pans by lining with cupcake holders.
~In a medium bowl, add flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk to combine and aerate.
~In a large bowl, beat butter until fluffy on medium-high speed.
~Gradually add sugar to butter, and cream until well combined. Beat in vanilla and almond extracts.
~Reduce mixer speed to low and alternately add flour and milk into batter until just combined, in 3 batches.
~In a seperate bowl and with clean beaters, whip egg whites into stiff peaks.
~Fold the egg whites into the batter in three batches. With a spatula, mix the first batch in to lighten the batter. With the remaining batches, fold carefully, trying not deflat the batter.
~Using a standard-size ice cream scoop or large spoon, divide batter into cupcake liners.
~Bake approximately 20 minutes until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing and continue to cool on racks.
~Once cool, remove a small cone of cupcake from the center. Add raspberry preserves with a piping bag or a spoon.
~Top with cream cheese frosting (to follow) and garnish with a fresh raspberry or toasted sliced almonds.

Cream Cheese Frosting (Adapted from Apple A Day)
16 oz cream cheese, softened
6 Tbsp butter, softened (3/4 stick)
1 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp almond extract (I used Amaretto but probably should have used the extract)
~In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter together on medium-high speed.
~Beat in vanilla and almond extracts.
~Reduce speed and add confectioner's sugar a spoonful at a time.
Store compiled cupcakes in air-tight container in refrigerator for up to a day. Bring to room temperature before serving. Enjoy!

Lemon Strawberry Cupcakes

Once a month, I meet up with a group of lovely women to stamp and make cards. As an engineer, my work life is extremely regimented and technical, so my baking and stamping have become my creative outlet. I've been trying to bake for these ladies for months, and finally the stars aligned and my calender cleared up the few days before and what else would be perfect than cupcakes to munch on while cutting, folding and stamping!

I spent a week trying to decide what type of cupcakes to make and with the help of some of my internet friends I decided to make two...these Lemon Strawberry Cupcakes and Almond Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling.

These lemon Strawberry Cupcakes were delicious. I made them a little more lemony that the inspiration recipe, but after tasting the batter with the zest and juice of 2 lemons, I decided to add more zest and juice because I was looking for a fresh and bright taste. I finally found Meyer lemons in our grocery store and after hearing raves about them from multiple blogs, I decided to splurge and used them in this recipe. It turned out great.

These cupcakes have a little surprise inside...if you so desired, you can add a fruit filling inside the cupcakes. I decided to use some decandant Strawberry Champagne jam that we brought back from a vacation to Ireland. It was a great choice because the sweetness balanced the bright lemon flavor extremely well.

Lemon Strawberry Cupcakes (adapted from Things Alauna Makes originally from Martha Stewart)
Makes 24 cupcakes

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (2 sticks)
2 cups sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
zest and juice of 3 lemons

Between 1/4 and 1/2 cup of strawberry preserves, jelly or jam (depends on the size of holes you make)

~Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
~Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Using a whisk, stir dry ingredients to aerate and mix.
~Cream butter on medium speed until fluffy. Slowly add sugar and beat on high speed for 3 minutes until the color lightens and the sugar is fully incorporated.
~Add eggs, one at a time, incorporating each egg into the batter fully before continuing.
~On low speed, alternate adding the flour and buttermilk in about 3 batches, starting and ending with the flour.
~Beat in lemon zest and juice.
~Dive cake batter into lined cupcake pans and bake for approximately 19 minutes.

~After the cupcakes have cooled, use a small melon baller or sharp knife to make a small cone/bowl in the center of each cupcake.
~Melt the filling in the microwave for about 30 seconds.
~Using a spoon, fill the holes with the fruit filling.
~If desired, replace the cake removed over the filling.

~Top with Strawberry buttercream (see below) and garnish with sliced strawberries.

Strawberry Buttercream (Adapted from Things Alauna Makes)

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature (3 sticks)
3 cups confectioner's sugar
4 Tbsp strawberry preserves, jelly or jam

~Beat butter on high speed until fluffly.
~Add strawberry preserves.
~Reduce speed to low and add confectioner's sugar slowly. I added 1 spoonful at a time which produces a very smooth, non-gritty buttercream.

I used a large star tip and a pastry bag to pipe the frosting on, but a gallon ziploc bag with a corner cut off will do just fine.