Saturday, June 21, 2014

Banana Split Cupcakes

Speaking of banana deliciousness... I made these almost a year ago and was so wowed by them that I swore (swore!) that I'd share them with you all. Better late than never right? They use the same banana cake recipe as the girls' birthday cake resulting in ~50 cupcakes if memory serves. Then you whip up a batch of chocolate ganache (in my case I made double the amount), core the cupcakes (if you have room in your kitchen I highly recommend this gadget), fill with fudgy goodness, dollop with sweetened whipped cream, sprinkle with slivered almonds and plop a maraschino cherry on each of those bad boys. Whew!

I rarely go to town on the baked goodies I make - I'm always making them for someone else and I don't want to shortchange. Welp, a lot of people were shortchanged with these tasties: I made a couple of meals out of them!

The sweetened whipped cream was the only thing I guessed at - 2 pints of whipping cream beaten until stiff peaks form, adding powdered sugar to taste. I recommend erring on the less-sweet side for these so the sugar doesn't overwhelm the subtlety of the cake and ganache. Hard to go wrong though!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Well hi there!

-peek- Oh hi! Phew, it's dusty in here! -brushes off the blog, sneezes- My goodness, it's been a while. Life rather caught up with me, but I've missed you all :)

Let's see, a quick summary. The company I was temping at hired me full time (doubling the hours I was working), boyo and I bought a house, boyo and I got pregnant, boyo and I had twins (!!!), and I quit the full time job to be a stay at home mom. Whew! That's it in a nutshell.

This past year has been all about babies, but my babies have now turned one! To celebrate our success at parenthood ("they survived, we didn't kill them!") we threw a big birthday bash and introduced the girls to the glorious invention called "cake". They were skeptical at first, but after their first bites eschewed all other foods for this amazing sugary concoction. We're corrupting them early, see ;)

The cake is banana with a whipped cream cheese frosting and banana slice layer, covered in marshmallow fondant. It took 3 days to make (because I'm crazy), so plan in advance! The top tier is 10" while the bottom is 12"; for that size I had to 4x the recipe (left as original for you sane people :), but it worked out just about perfectly. Each layer was ~1", and there was enough left over to make little individual cakes for the girls. Tricks and tips at the bottom.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (from about 4 medium bananas)*
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
14 oz. cream cheese, softened slightly
1/3 cup salted butter, softened
1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 9-inch round cake pans with aluminum foil, leaving a slight overhang of foil on two sides. Spray foil with cooking spray, then dust evenly with flour and shake off excess.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt for 30 seconds. Set aside. Mash bananas with 1 tsp lemon juice. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, whip together butter, 2 Tbsp vegetable oil, granulated sugar and light brown sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, occasionally scraping down sides and bottom of bowl, about 3 minutes. Stir in remaining 2 Tbsp vegetable oil. Blend in eggs one at a time, mixing until combined after each addition. Stir in vanilla and mashed bananas.

With mixer set on low speed, slowly add flour mixture alternating with buttermilk in 3 separate batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing just until combined after each addition. Divide batter evenly among prepared cake pans and spread batter into an even layer. Bake in preheated oven 45 - 50 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely then frost with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting. For best results frost within 30 minutes of serving and store left over cake in refrigerator and allow to rest at room temperature about 10 - 20 minutes before enjoying.

For the Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting:
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip heavy cream on high speed until stiff peaks form, then transfer whipped cream to a mixing bowl and set aside. Replace whisk attachment with paddle attachment and add cream cheese and butter to stand mixer bowl. Whip together cream cheese and butter until smooth and fluffy on medium-high speed, about 2 minutes, occasionally scraping down sides and bottom of bowl. Add in powdered sugar and vanilla and whip on medium speed, about 2 minutes longer. Add half of whipped cream into cream cheese mixture and gently fold until combined, then fold in remaining half.

*I tried this with both 1 1/2 cups and 1 3/4 cup mashed bananas and the 1 3/4 cup seemed to make the cake more dense and it didn't really need any of that extra moisture so I'd recommend that you measure the mashed bananas and use 1 1/2 cups.

Fondant recipe was from here (tripled it for this cake).


  • When working with fondant/gumpaste - don't wear dark clothes. White white white clothes. There are little bits of lint that rub off of your clothes, especially blue jeans, and these will show up in your fondant/gumpaste. Ew.
  • I used this mat while working with the fondant covering the cake, and it saved the cake. I had tried rolling the fondant up on my rolling pin a couple times, but the cake was just too large and subsequently my sheet of fondant - it kept tearing as I was draping it. Instead I rolled it out on this mat then rolled up the mat with the fondant, then unrolled over the cake. I was able to get a super-thin (1/8") fondant sheet that way without any ripping.
  • 1/4-1/3" frosting between layers is plenty. I put more (3/4"ish), which accounts for the slight bulging on the sides that you can see in the picture - the weight of the cake was slowly pushing out the frosting.
  • LEVEL YOUR CAKES. I didn't do this, and had to do some tricksy last minute engineering to be able to stack them on the day of the party. Save yourself the sleeplessness.
  • Make your gumpaste figures in advance. Way way way in advance. You're not going to eat them, and they don't go bad anyway as long as you don't refrigerate them, and they take a long time to dry. Weeks, it turns out. I made mine 3 days before the party and ended up doing some hi-jinks with a hairdryer to get them to hold together. 
  • Marshmallow fondant is much tastier than store bought, even Satin Ice. Easy enough to make too, save yourself the money (store bought is crazy expensive).
  • There's some debate on the internet around whether you can refrigerate fondant. I did since my frosting had dairy in it, and I only had marginal problems (get to that in a second). Overall I would say you can - I didn't have any color blending like the 'net threatened. My fondant did start to melt from the inside though, but I think that was due to the type of frosting I used. The whipped cream-cream cheese frosting was absolutely delicious, amazing stuff, but if covering the cake with fondant I would find a sturdier frosting in the future. I believe the whipped cream was marginally too liquid for the fondant to withstand, as it started slowly leaking from underneath starting the day before the party (also causing me to lose sleep). 
Overall - would I do it again? Absolutely. It was a ton of fun making my vision reality, it was delicious, and sharing it was delightful. Give me a few years to recover first tho ;)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake

My brother is very much a chocoholic like me - it runs in the family. So when he gets on a plane to fly 3,000 miles to spend his hard-earned spring break with me, what do I do?

I feed him, of course!

I teased him lots beforehand though. Every recipe I saw that looked even slightly tempting to me, I emailed to him with "Should I make you this?" ... "Or how about this?" ... "Ooh, we might be able to make this too!" I think he didn't eat at all the week before in preparation.

Out of the flood of goodies though, this one caught his eye. It's a chocolate-crusted cheesecake with a semi-sweet mousse layer topped with bittersweet ganache. It's rich enough that a single slice will satisfy. And after two days, it's now half gone.

Well, ok, I cheat: we took part of it to a party. But it is tasty.

Recipe is compliments of Mangio da Sola - the only adjustments I made were to omit the coffee and alcohol. I won't reiterate it here as you really should visit her site, if just for the pictures. Nom nom nom.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Blueberry-Almond Bars

Whew. Just a little time has passed! I'd like to claim lots has happened, but mostly it's just been work work work. Good stuff, but we're here for the food, and we all know it. ;)

Food then! I present Blueberry Curd and Almond Cream bars. They take some work, but oh goodness, they're addicting. There's just one other recipe I've had more requests for - this one even passed the One-Bowl Brownies! I can't say I'm surprised though, for a non-chocolate dessert these are stunning. They start out with a layer of almond shortbread, flavored with cinnamon and lemon. A layer of almond cream, flavored with liquor, makes up the middle. The crowning glory is a layer of homemade blueberry curd. Just... yum.

The recipe is an adaptation, but after a year I'm afraid the link has vanished from my records. Once again recipe gods, please give my thanks to your acolyte!

Blueberry Almond Bars

* 6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/4 cup ground toasted almonds
* 1/4 cup granulated sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon salt

Almond cream:
* 1/4 cup pure almond paste (2 ounces)
* 1/4 cup granulated sugar
* 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
* 1 egg
* 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
* 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Blueberry curd:
* 1 pint blueberries
* 2 eggs
* 3/4 cup granulated sugar
* Pinch of salt
* 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Lightly butter an 8x8" baking dish.

Crust: To make the shortbread, combine the butter, flour, almonds, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and salt until small lumps form. Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared pan and press evenly into the bottom. Bake until the shortbread is golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

Almond cream: Purée almond paste, granulated sugar, butter, and a pinch of salt in a food processor until smooth. Add 1 egg, vanilla, and almond extract and purée until incorporated. Add flour and pulse until incorporated.

Blueberry curd: In a food processor or blender, puree the blueberries until smooth. Pass the puree through a chinois set over a bowl, using a pestle to press on the solids and extract as much juice as possible; discard the solids. You should have about 1/2 cup juice.

In the top pan of a double boiler or in a nonreactive saucepan, whisk together the eggs and granulated sugar until blended. Then whisk in the blueberry juice, salt, and lemon juice. Set the top pan over but not touching simmering water in the bottom pan, or set the saucepan over medium-low heat. (If using a saucepan, take care not to heat the mixture too quickly.) Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spatula or spoon, until the mixture is warmed through, 1 to 2 minutes.

Begin adding the butter a little at a time, stirring each addition until blended before adding more. Continue cooking, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan, until a finger drawn across the back of the spatula leaves a path, 8 to 10 minutes more. Immediately remove the pan from the heat. Pass the curd through the chinois set over a bowl and let stand for 10 minutes. Whisk to blend.

Assembly: Pour the almond cream over the cooled crust and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven then pour the curd on top, spreading it evenly to the edges. There may be some blending of the almond cream and the blueberry - no worries.

Bake until the curd is set, about 30 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Cut into individual bars, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Dust the bars with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Christmas Goodies

I am a bad person - I wholeheartedly admit it. I didn't meant to leave you all hanging, but the moving kicked in along with the aftermath of the other news, and, well, it was overwhelming. So let me jump straight to the biggest news.

I got married.

Boyo and I finally tied the knot and couldn't be happier. It was a small wedding, about as small as it gets in fact - a judge, two last-minute witnesses, and ourselves - but even the planning involved for that level was scary. From deciding to do the deed to doing it took a week, and I honestly cannot remember anything about that week leading up to the ceremony. I'm sure I worked (right up to 2 hours before the wedding - rar!) but I'm just going to have to hope I was productive because I don't remember a lick of what I did. My family is thrilled as they love him to pieces and I can completely relate.

The other news was that it was my birthday, but that's old news now and a bit blown out of the water by the wedding anyway. We timed it perfectly so we could have one celebration for both (I was born, and I got married - yay!). Of course, if he forgets our anniversary, he's doubly screwed ;)

So we got married, moved during one of the worst snowstorms this century in Seattle (yay snow!), fully unpacked, and cleaned everything. And just in time, as I now have a gorgeous kitchen and a serious itch to bake!

For this round: I'm a fan of chocolate and mint - I think I've mentioned this before, although it may have been drowned out in the "NOMnomnomnom"-ing. I got invited to a Christmas cookie party which was sadly cancelled due to the snow and the ice and the hills and the 20+ mph winds and the fact that no-one in the state of Washington knows how to drive in poor weather (me neither!)... but after I'd made the cookies. I should be complaining - these are by far the tastiest cookies I've ever had (evar!!) and having them around for Christmas break has, er, not helped my waistline. But, what can I say except NOMnomnomnomnom.

Peppermint Candy Cane Cookies (adapted from
* 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
* 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup sugar
* 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 1 large egg

* 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
* 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
* 2 drops (or more) red food coloring/gel


For cookies:
Whisk flour, cocoa, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended. Beat in egg. Add dry ingredients; beat until blended. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and flatten into a disk. Refrigerate 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/4-1/8" thickness. Use your cookie cutter to cut out the shapes you want, transfer to a cookie sheet, and refrigerate another 10 minutes. Bake for 8-10 minutes (do not overcook or they will be crispy). If making sandwich cookies, make sure to bake half the cookies backwards! Cool on sheet 5 minutes. Transfer chocolate cookies to racks and cool completely.

For frosting:
Using electric mixer, beat powdered sugar and butter in medium bowl until well blended. Streak the opposite sides of your piping bag with the food coloring/gel and add the frosting (you may want to only use 1/2 the frosting so the color shows up for all cookies. Make sure the coloring goes all the way to the piping tip, otherwise your first few cookies won't have any coloring.).

Pipe the frosting short-ways back and forth on one cookie. Place backwards cookie on top and press down gently. These are best cold. Makes 18-20 cookies (depending on size)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Maple-Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies (and a tall glass of good news)

Gentle readers, it has been over a month since I last posted, and I do apologize. My excuses are good ones though, as I think you will agree. They number three (to be presented in three posts):

First: my boyo and I are moving! We got tired of the loud music and people throwing eggs at our door (no, this wasn't a Halloween thing, sadly), so we went looking. Folks, this is the market for renters - we found a beautiful condo with a waterfront view, for several hundred dollars less a month than we're paying now. The best part is the kitchen - I'll post pictures once we've fully moved in.

To celebrate our move to a better place (and one significantly closer to work, thankfully!) I give you Maple-Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies. Yes, I finally jumped on the bacon-bandwagon and I cry to think of how long I resisted. I should have instead reasoned: "Bacon = good. Chocolate = good. Maple syrup on anything = good. Maple-Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies must logically then = AWESOME!"

The recipe is from Never Bashful with Butter, who is one of the funniest individuals I have yet to meet - seriously folks, I'm not going to bother reiterating the recipe here, because you'll enjoy her version that much more.

Stick around; news items 2 and 3 are coming up, and they're doozies!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cheesecake Topping

Oh sad! Autumn is nearly here and I'm already missing my summer fruit. Luckily, there are plenty of winter goodies to substitute - apple turnovers, pecan pie, .... pumpkin cupcakes? Now, see, I'm not a huge fan of pumpkin anything, but you wouldn't have guessed it from my cupboard. I had six cans of the stuff sitting around with no plans to use them and no memory of how I had acquired them. They're breeding I tellsya!

It seemed fortuitous then that I stumbled across this recipe by Peabody. Don't let the title (or her story) fool you - she's a right sweetie, and a hell of a good cook!

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cheesecake Topping (adapted from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody):
Maple Cheesecake Layer:
* 9 oz cream cheese, room temperature
* 1/4 c granulated sugar
* 1/4 c brown sugar
* 6 tbsp real maple syrup
* 1 tsp maple extract
* 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
* 1 large egg

Pumpkin Spice Bread:
* 2 c all-purpose flour
* 1 tsp baking soda
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
* 1/4 tsp ground ginger
* 1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
* 1/4 tsp ground gloves
* 1 c pumpkin puree (plain, not the already made pumpkin pie kind)
* 1/2 c canola oil
* 2 large eggs
* 1 1/2 c granulated sugar
* 1 c chopped pecans, plus extra for garnish

Preheat oven to 325F.
Line the holes of a cupcake pan with cupcake liners. In a medium mixing bowl, combine all the maple cheesecake ingredients; beat until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Set aside.

In another bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices; set aside.
Place pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl of an electric stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat for about 1 minute, until fully combined

Add flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture and mix just until combined. Fold in the pecans. Spoon ~1/4 cups of the pumpkin batter into the liners, and indent so the batter is shaped like a cup. Spoon cream cheese mixture into the cupcake hole until one cm from the top of the liner. Garnish with chopped pecans, if desired.

Bake in preheated 325° oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean. Refrigerate until ready to serve.