Sunday, July 15, 2012


I tried to make meringues once in college, and they were terrible. Not these! When piped into 1-2" rounds, they're light and crunchy almost all the way through, with just a tiny bit of a softer center. These will be the wedding cake toppers, without the plum jam mousse that they're shown with here.

n egg whites
n x 1/4 c white sugar
vanilla or flavorings

Preheat oven to 200F and line baking sheets with parchment. Beat egg whites until they hold medium-soft peaks, then keep beating while slowly drizzling in the sugar until very stiff. Beat small amounts of liquid flavorings, or very carefully fold in dry flavorings (do not beat in anything chunky!). Pipe the meringue onto the parchment however you like. Bake for 2 hr, then turn off the oven, open the door, and let the meringues keep drying in the oven for 2 more hours. The meringues are done when the surfaces are dry and they easily detach from the parchment. Store in a sealed container at room temperature.

Lemon and lavender cake

Thanks so much to Alan for suggesting this combination, and thanks to Jaime&Alan and Todd for hosting 4th of July parties to eat cake at! (Hence the "USA".) All you can see here is the frosting, but that's at least enough to demonstrate that the whipped cream is happily pipable. And the cake inside is finally the right texture, and the lemon, sour cream, and lavender all balance out very well to make a final cake that's both light and interesting. Second wedding win!

4 c all-purpose flour
4 T cornstarch
2 t baking powder
1.5 t baking soda
1 t salt
2 c buttermilk (or milk + juice of 2 lemons)
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 c sugar
2 t vanilla
4 eggs
1 T Meyer lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350F and prepare two 9" cake pans. Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl, and mix milk and lemon juice in a small bowl. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar, then beat in the vanilla, eggs, and zest until fluffy. Beat in the dry ingredients and the buttermilk in several alternating batches, without overmixing. Transfer to pans and knock out the air bubbles, then bake for 35-40 min until golden. These domed a fair bit, so make sure to level before assembling the cake.

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3.5 c powdered sugar
1 T honey
4 T Meyer lemon juice
5 T sour cream
1/2 t vanilla
pinch salt

Beat everything together until fluffy. Adjust the sour cream and powdered sugar to get something stiff enough.

several whole sprigs lavender, gently rinsed
2 T honey
1 c cream
powdered sugar as needed (at least a cup I think)

Put the lavender, honey, and cream in a saucepan. Heat until just simmering, then turn off the heat, cover, and let steep for half an hour. Strain into a bowl, discarding the lavender, and chill the cream in the fridge. Whip the cream until fairly firm, then beat in powdered sugar to get the taste and sturdiness you want.

Chocolate caramel cake

Same cake as this, because it's so friggin good. The caramel frosting was a bit hard to work with, with a fine line between too runny and too stiff, but it works out in the end. Overall, the combo makes a rich, sweet, crowd-friendly cake that lends itself to small slices—wedding win!

make this in one 8" square pan with right-angle corners + one 8" square pan with rounded corners

Swiss meringue buttercream, with some powdered sugar and finely chopped chocolate whipped in. Spread this in between the layers.

caramel frosting:
1.5 sticks unsalted butter
2 c brown sugar
1/2 t salt
1/2 c cream
1 t vanilla
2.5 c powdered sugar

Put 1 stick of the butter in a medium saucepan, along with the brown sugar and salt. Heat over medium until bubbling and you're positive that the sugar is thoroughly dissolved (you don't want it to be grainy or overly sweet). Stir in the cream and cook until bubbling again. Pour into a bowl and beat in the vanilla and powdered sugar, beating until lukewarm. Add the other 1/2 stick of butter and beat until light and spreadable, or at least thickly pourable. Use this frosting to cover the outside of the cake.

Cheesecake ice cream with plum jam

[First of several long-overdue posts. Most will have crappy pictures, sorry. Blog overload day!]

This is actually two entirely separate recipes in one post. The plum jam I made a quite a while ago but never posted, and has already gone into a batch of braided danish for Jon and Jen's potluck brunch wedding that I didn't post either but was pretty much what you'd expect. (Big happy congrats to Jon and Jen, and thanks to them and everyone else for a lovely weekend in Seattle!) The verdict on the jam: tart and delicious and great in danish if done correctly, tart and delicious and totally unspreadable if overcooked.

Hence, some ice cream to put the jam in, since Lester has had some luck stirring the overcooked half of the batch into yogurt. The ice cream is a very slight tweak to this base, which I'd noticed around the internet but not tried before today. The verdict on the ice cream: awesome. Thickens up like a charm without eggs, churns up nice and smooth, strong cheesecake flavor from the cream cheese that would play well with all sorts of different mix-ins. I'm looking forward to making this one again.

ice cream:
2 c milk (1 3/4 + 1/4)
4 t cornstarch
1 1/4 c cream
2/3 c sugar
2 T light corn syrup
1/4 t kosher salt
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 c overcooked plum jam

Stir together the cornstarch and 1/4 c milk in a small bowl until dissolved, and set aside. Put the cream cheese in a 4-c Pyrex and stir to loosen, and set aside.

Put the rest of the milk in a medium saucepan, along with the cream, sugar, corn syrup, and salt, and whisk to combine. Cook over medium heat until foaming, then cook another 4 minutes, whisking occasionally. Add the cornstarch, and keep cooking and whisking for a couple minutes until thickened. Pour half of the hot cream into the cream cheese, whisk until smooth, then pour in the other half and whisk until smooth again. Put in the fridge until chilled.

Churn in the ice cream maker until almost done, then dollop in spoonfuls of jam and churn briefly until the jam is distributed. If your jam isn't rock-hard, then do the usual ripple thing.

~2 lb Flavor Rosa plums (enough for 4 c chopped, packed)
2.5 c sugar
1/3 c Meyer lemon juice
2 t lemon zest
1 oz bourbon

Rinse and drain the plums. Cut each plum into chunks by slicing the plum longitudinally into wedges while attached to the pit, slicing once around the equator, then pulling the chunks off the pit with your fingers. Combine all the ingredients in a large pot and let the fruit macerate in the sugar for an hour or so. When you're ready to start heating the jam, do the usual jam prep things (put a saucer of spoons in the freezer and a pan of jars in the oven at 230F). Turn the heat on to medium and cook the fruit until it breaks down, mashing it up with a potato masher periodically. Start testing the jam for doneness about 5 minutes after the fruit seems all broken down, then can it when it's ready as previously described.