Saturday, April 23, 2016

Brown butter bundt cake

San Diego kinda sucks for food, which was especially disappointing when I was there with some of my favorite foodies (John, xtina, Toni) last month. But! Bake Sale had this amazing brown butter espresso muffin, with little flecks of coffee, vanilla bean, and brown butter inside, and lots of cinnamon sugar on top. Perfect for Laura's bachelorette brunch.

I thought I was going to have to be creative coming up with a recipe to match it, but this does the job splendidly. One batch makes one bundt cake (baked for 45 min), or half a batch makes 2 dozen mini muffins (baked for 12 min).

10 T unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks)
1 c sugar
1 vanilla bean
2 eggs
2/3 c milk
2 T bourbon
2 1/4 c flour
2/5 t baking powder
1 t salt
1 t instant espresso powder (or finely ground coffee)
turbinado sugar

Butter and flour a bundt pan, and preheat the oven to 350F.

Put the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. The butter will melt, then start foaming, then the foam will subside and little brown bits will collect on the bottom. Keep cooking until the liquid starts to get a little bit of color, then turn off the heat and let cool.

Put the sugar in a large bowl. Slice the vanilla bean open and scrape the seeds into the sugar if you can, or toss the bean into the sugar and rub the sugar into the bean to get out the seeds if you can't. (Laura says the even easier way is to put the whole vanilla bean and the sugar into the food processor and grind them up together, which also seems reasonable.)

Beat the eggs, milk, and booze together in a medium bowl. If you futzed around with the vanilla bean as long as I did, the butter should be fairly cool now, so beat it into the wet ingredients too.

Stir the dry ingredients into the sugar, then stir in the wet ingredients until combined. Pour into the bundt pan and sprinkle heavily with turbinado. Bake for 45 min.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Five layer birthday pie

Happy birthday to me! This year, I decided to celebrate by bringing wonderful friends up to Mono Hot Springs in the Sierras. The cabins there have kitchens, but I didn't particularly want to trust their ovens with anything more complicated than biscuits. So I spent rather a long time trying to come up with a good dessert that combines the virtues of transportability, novelty, and of course deliciousness.

This pie, with its sturdy and sweet layers of ganache, golden syrup, and oats, was the first to catch my attention. I'd also just noticed that Lester's rhubarb has been perking up for spring (no thanks to me whatsoever), which reminded me of the rhubarb and chocolate donuts that we had at Walrus and the Carpenter with Sarah ages ago. So to balance out the sweetness of the golden syrup, I added a layer of macerated rhubarb in between the chocolate and the oats, and a layer of mascarpone whipped cream on top.

It all came together beautifully, with a homey mixture of textures and flavors that goes splendidly with coffee, mountains, and old friends. Only caveat is that the crust was a bit tough after sitting in the fridge, so I'd try a more tender shortcrust next time.

crust (layer 0):
1.5 c flour
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 stick + 1 T cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg yolk (white reserved for layer 3)

Pulse together flour and sugar in the food processor. Add the butter and pulse to cut in. Add the egg yolk and pulse until it forms a dough. Press into the bottom and sides of a 9" springform pan, line with buttered foil, and freeze for 30-45 min. Bake at 375F for 30 min. Remove the foil and let cool while you make layer 1.

ganache (layer 1):
1/4 c cream
4 oz chopped dark chocolate (10 squares TJs pound plus)

Bring cream to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat and stir in the chocolate until smooth. Spread evenly on the base of the pie crust. Place in the freezer to set while you make layers 2 and 3.

fruit (layer 2):
3 stalks rhubarb, sliced 1/4"
2 T sugar

Toss the rhubarb with the sugar, and set aside to macerate while you make layer 3.

flapjack (layer 3):
3/4 c brown sugar
5 T butter, melted
1/2 t cardamom
1/2 t salt
1 c golden syrup
1 T whiskey
2 t vinegar (white or cider)
3 eggs + 1 egg white (reserved from crust)
1.5 c oats

Whisk together the brown sugar and melted butter until smooth. Add each ingredient in turn, whisking until smooth after each addition.

Spoon the rhubarb over the ganache to form an even layer 1-2 rhubarb slices deep, and discard any remaining liquid. Pour the oat mix over the rhubarb. Bake at 325F for 60-70 min until set around the edges and just barely set in the middle.

cream (layer 4):
4 oz mascarpone
1 c whipping cream
splash coffee bitters

Beat the mascarpone to soften, if needed. Add the cream and beat until it holds peaks. Beat in the bitters. Spread in an even layer over the cooled pie and chill until serving, or dollop on slices and serve immediately.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Sesame kale salad

I've been making variations on this for lunches pretty frequently for a few months, and I made it for Katie and Alex's superbowl party today, so I guess I should finally post it. This makes about 2-3 healthy delicious lunches.

essential ingredients:
1/2 bunch kale, thinly sliced
2 Meyer lemons, juiced
2 t toasted sesame oil
lots of Trader Joe's sesame honey cashews

optional ingredients:
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
1 avocado, cubed
1/2 pack Trader Joe's seaweed snacks, thinly sliced

Toss together the essential ingredients and at least one of the optional ingredients (the more the better) until the lemon softens the kale. Keeps and transports well, especially sans avocado.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Straight-up pancakes

Weirdly, I don't have a go-to pancake recipe--I'll usually just google a different one every time. So this morning when my little cousin wanted to learn how to make pancakes from scratch, I randomly chose this one. And it's really good! Just the right amount of fluffy, not too dry or dense or eggy or gooey or sweet. We didn't even use the blueberries but it would be great with additions like that too. Happy Thanksgiving!

1 1/3 c flour
2.5 t baking powder
3 T sugar
2 T melted butter
3/4 c milk
1/2 c plain non-Greek yogurt
2 eggs

Mix dry ingredients (flour through sugar) and wet ingredients (butter through eggs), then gently stir wet into dry until just combined. Make into pancakes. Eat.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Vegan Mexican chocolate ice cream

You can tell that this ice cream is mostly almond butter, but that's a pretty delicious way to taste. It's a tiny bit on the stiff side though, so I might add another half a cup of almond milk next time. Nicole the vegan approves, Laura the dairy-eater approves as well.

2 c almond milk
1 cinnamon stick
3/4 c Mexican cocoa mix (sweetened)
3/4 c brown sugar
1.5 c creamy almond butter (1 jar)
1 t vanilla

Place the almond milk and cinnamon stick in a medium saucepan, and turn the heat on to medium-low. Stir in the cocoa mix and brown sugar until dissolved, 1/4 c at a time. Stir in the almond butter and vanilla until the mixture is thick, smooth, and hot (aw yeah). Remove the cinnamon stick and refrigerate until cold. The oil from the almond butter separated out; stir it back in. Churn and freeze.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Jessica & Judy's wedding cake week

Wedding cake has occurred! Most of a week, almost 10 pounds each of flour and sugar, 8.5 pounds of butter, 56 eggs, and one ball of yarn later. I'm happy with how it turned out, and very happy I tackled the full-on tiered thing. And everyone else seemed to like it too, including the lovely couple. Here's to many sweet years to come!

Big thanks to:
* Peter for letting me stay at his house and take over his kitchen
* Amy for letting me use her car
* Brian for helping with errands and keeping me company
* Sarah for crochet hook and buttons
this post for day-of assembly instructions
* Jessica and Judy for the honor of including me in their special day!

23 oz dark chocolate (1 pack + 13 squares TJ's pound plus)
1 14-oz can coconut cream
plateful of cocoa powder
12x4 tea bags (3 boxes) Stash double bergamot earl grey tea
1x3 quarts buttermilk + ~1 c milk or cream
1 c + 4x3 c + 1x8 c + sugar
4x3 + 2.75x8 sticks butter
4x3 t vanilla
8x3 eggs + 4x8 egg whites
8x3 c flour
1/3x3 c corn starch
4x3 t baking powder
3x3 t baking soda
2x3 t salt
4x8 oz creme fraiche
10x8 drops bergamot oil
5x6 dashes Angostura
1 box raspberries
Americolor royal blue soft gel paste food color

1 each 6", 9", and 12" square x 2" tall cake pans
2 9x13" cake pans
1 each 6", 9", and 12" square cake boards
1 13x17" thick cake board
1 16" square thick cake board
plastic hollow dowels
7", 10", 16", and 13x17" cake boxes

6pm: Make truffle ganache, and crush a dozen raspberries into half the ganache. Refrigerate both until firm.
10pm: Form ganache into truffles and toss in cocoa powder.

9am: Place 24 tea bags and 2 qt buttermilk in a large saucepan, heat until steaming but ideally not curdling, turn off the heat, and cover. Also place the remaining 12 tea bags and 2 c warm water in a small saucepan, and cover.
10am: Squeeze out and discard all the tea bags. Be disappointed at how much the buttermilk curdled, but realize that you should have seen it coming, and that it will be fine anyway. Top up the buttermilk with milk or cream to make 8 c total dairy.
10:30am: Preheat oven to 325F, make simple syrup with 1 c sugar and the nondairy-ified earl grey, and prepare the cake pans.
11am: Make a double batch of cake batter using the dairy-ified earl grey. Put about 3 c, 7 c, and 11.5 c batter in the 6", 9", and 12" pans, respectively. Bake for 40 min, 50 min, and 60 min, respectively, rotating the pans partway through.
12:30pm: Lunch break!
3pm: Make a second batch of cake. Level the tops of the first batch of cake, triple wrap each layer in plastic wrap, and freeze.
4pm: Make the first batch of buttercream (4 egg whites, 1 c sugar, 2.75 sticks butter, half pack creme fraiche, bergamot and Angostura).
5pm: Level the tops of the second batch of cake, triple wrap each layer in plastic wrap, and freeze.

9am: Freak out that there won't be enough cake. Also freak out that there won't be enough fridge/freezer space to hold this much cake, let alone as much cake as I'd like to provide. Decide to make more cake anyway.
10:30am: Start steeping another 12 tea bags in another quart of buttermilk. Make 2 batches of buttercream, adding 2 dozen whole raspberries to each batch by dropping them in one at a time while the mixer is running.
11:30am: Take the 6" pair of cake layers out of the freezer. Unwrap one layer and place it flat side down on the 6" cake board. Brush the trimmed top side with the earl grey syrup and spread with a generous layer of the raspberry buttercream. Unwrap the other cake layer, brush the trimmed side with syrup, and place trimmed side down on top of the buttercream. Check to make sure that the cake is oriented in the flattest way possible, then brush the flat top side with more syrup. Wrap up the whole package (board, two cakes, and frosting) in plastic wrap (I reused the plastic wrap) and stick back in the freezer. Repeat with the 9" and 12" layers.
1pm: Lunch break!
2:30pm: Make a third batch of cake in two 9x13" pans and bake for 50-60 min.
3:30pm: Make a double batch of buttercream. Put most of it into the tupperware with yesterday's batch of plain buttercream, and mix a bit into the remaining raspberry buttercream to bring the amount up to what's needed to fill the 9x13 cake.
6pm: Evening break!
11pm: Start crocheting a border for the 6" cake using a variation on this pattern.

10am: Pick up boards and box for the 9x13" cake.
1pm: Hang out at Golden Gardens and finish crocheting the borders for all three layers.
4pm: Make another batch of plain buttercream.

8am: Pull the 9x13" layers and the 9" and 12" squares out of the freezer. Trim, brush, and fill the 9x13" cake just like the squares. Unwrap the squares so they don't get too soggy while defrosting. Put the 9x13" cake on its board, frost with buttercream, box it up, and put in a cool room since there's no fridge space for such things. Pull the 6" square out of the freezer. Frost the 9" square, dowel it, box it, and cool it. Frost, dowel, box, and cool the 12" square (making the final double batch of buttercream when the frosting runs out partway through). Frost, box, and cool the 6" square. There was about 4 cups of frosting left: I put half in one tupperware, beat food coloring into the other half until it was a nice blue, then put that in a separate tupperware.
12:30pm: Quick break to eat the lovely brunch that Laura, Derek, and Peter managed to cook while I used almost every surface in the kitchen.
1pm: Collect everything for on-site assembly: white and blue frostings, piping supplies, icing spatula, big spatula, powdered coconut, and crocheted borders. Also collect the 2 kinds of truffles and 4 boxes of cake. Also collect the outfit to change into. Put everything in the car and carefully carefully drive over to Brian's.
2pm: Stick the truffles and all the cake that will fit into Brian's fridge. Drive Brian over to the Mac&Jack's brewery for keg pick-up. Hang out until we're allowed to go to the venue.
5:45pm: Carefully carefully drive over to the venue. Unbox the 12" layer and place it on the venue's cake stand. Touch up the frosting with the spare plain buttercream, wrap the crochet border around the bottom, and dust the top with coconut powder. Carefully place the 9" layer on the dowels, centering and leveling as necessary. Repeat with touching up the 9" layer, stacking the 6" layer, and touching up the 6" layer. Pipe some blue buttercream to decorate.
6:45pm: Ta da! All done. Enjoy a gorgeous wedding and a splendid evening! The tiered cake was the right amount for the ~100-person wedding, with just a few slices left over.

Bring the 9x13" cake to the day-after picnic.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Vegan truffles

Aw yeah, you heard me right, it's vegan truffles! It's everything you like about truffles, with just three dairy-free ingredients. Pretty excited about this as a vegan/gluten-free wedding alternative! I think it will work to dust them with powdered sugar, sprinkles, nuts, etc instead of or in addition to cocoa powder, but I haven't tried that yet. This made 32 1" truffles.

3/4 c coconut milk (eg TJ's coconut cream)
10 oz vegan dark chocolate (eg TJ's pound plus)
extracts of choice, to taste
cocoa powder for dusting

Chop chocolate and place in a bowl. Bring coconut milk almost to a boil, then pour over the chocolate and add extracts. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Cover the surface with plastic wrap, and put in the fridge just until set (1-2 hr).

Line your truffle receptacle with parchment or wax paper, and put a bunch of cocoa powder on a plate and on your palms. Scoop out 1" balls of chocolate, roll between cocoa-dusted palms, toss around the cocoa-dusted plate to coat completely, and place in your lined container. Let set in the fridge.