Archive for Cakes

Triple Ginger Cookie Icebox Cake

I disappeared for a few months. If anyone is still reading this, this is my apology.

I have since left New Jersey for New York. I’ve moved into a brand new (for me – it’s actually quite old) apartment without a roommate and I’ve started my first real salaried job. I didn’t take any of my old furniture with me so it’s been a lot of shopping, assembling, moving, and learning. In the midst of it all this blog fell to the wayside. I thought about ending it all – working 80 hours a week hasn’t left much time for myself, Boy, or much else. Checking my email has come down to the 5 minutes before I fall asleep at night. Baking still exists but it is hurried and never that attractive.

But Boy convinced me otherwise and so I’m here. I may not be here as often as before but I’m still here. The purpose of the blog was to push my baking boundaries and that drive still exists. I’m determined to be comfortable with a cupboard of flour and sugar and to know in the back on my mind what I can do with it without having to check the internet.

My little treat for the week was this delicious icebox cake. I was contacted by Andrea several months ago about her new book, The I Love Trader Joe’s College Cookbook. While I’m long out of college, the idea of quick and simple and the idea of Trader Joe’s both resonate with me. I was immediately intrigued.

This cookbook has a TON of great ideas to offer. While you can obviously just wander around TJ’s and eat the food as is, this expands your repertoire without breaking the bank or the clock. This icebox cake took minutes to assemble and just a quick overnight trip to the freezer and it was done! And the flavor is incredible. It tastes as if I slaved all day making the cake layers. The ginger flavor is prominent but well-balanced. I can’t say enough about this. I’m eating the huge piece I photographed right now!

Triple Ginger Cookie Icebox Cake
adapted from The I Love Trader Joe’s College Cookbook by Andrea Lynn

Ingredients

  • 2 9-oz packages Trader Joe‘s Cookie Thins Triple Ginger cookies
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger (I didn’t have any so I used 1/2 tsp ground ginger and 1 tsp crystallized ginger, minced)
  • 2 c heavy cream, chilled
  • 1 tbsp sugar
Instructions
In a large bowl, place ginger, cream, and sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream until stiff peaks form by gradually increasing the speed from low to medium-high. Set aside about one-fifth of the cream and 6 cookies.
Use a spatula to spread about 2 tbsp of the whipped cream on a large plate. Top the cream with a single layer of cookies. Fit as many as possible. Layer with whipped cream. Continue layering cookies followed by cream until you have 8-10 complete layers. When finished, use set-aside whipped cream to cover the top and sides of the cake.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (I stuck mine in the freezer) for at least 8 hours. When ready to serve, crumble set-aside 6 cookies and sprinkle over the top.

As a bonus treat, Andrea was kind enough to send me a book to giveaway as well! Here’s how you can enter to win:

1. Comment on this post for one entry.

2. Advertise via facebook, twitter, blog, whatever. Comment again with what you did for another entry.

Giveaway ends August 12 at midnight!

If you don’t win, you can always purchase the book yourself here.

Thanks for sticking with me.

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Strawberry-Coconut Cheesecake

The other morning I woke up and decided that I needed to have cheesecake. I’d recently been to a party that had mini cheesecakes baked in cupcake wrappers but it didn’t quite do the trick for me. So I woke up and craved, needed a proper  cheesecake. I needed gobs of serious cream cheese laced with sugar. I need it to be fruity because fruity means “guilt-free” but chocolatey means “get on the treadmill.” And since I cancelled my gym membership for my impending room, treadmilling was not an option.

Is my thinking delusional? Nahh.

So with reckless abandon I forgot all the errands I had planned to run, did a quick scan of the world wide web, ran to the supermarket (because who keeps 3 blocks of cream cheese around?), ran to fetch my springform pan 20 minutes away, room temperaturized my cream cheese in record time (cheese in ziploc, ziploc in cold water, cold water in bowl), and made a cheesecake!

Run-on sentences are the bomb diggity.

 

This cheesecake was everything I wanted it to be. It was reminiscent of summer with the fresh strawberry topping and delicious coconut crust. The filling itself was not too dense, just how I love it. (Is it blasphemous not to love thick dense cheesecakes if I’m moving to NY?) All in all, a win.

Strawberry-Coconut Cheesecake
adapted from epicurious

Ingredients

For crust:

  • 6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted, divided
  • 1/2 c sweetened shredded coconut, toasted, cooled (toast on foil at 400F for 5-10 minutes until browned – be careful not to burn it!)
  • 3/4 c graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/8 c sugar

For filling:

  • 24 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 c (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 c sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 c sweetened cream of coconut (ie Coco Lopez)
  • 1/4 c coconut rum (ie Malibu)

For topping:

  • 2 lb fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1/4 c strawberry jam (seedless preferred)
  • 2 tbsp water

Instructions
For crust: Preheat oven to 350F. Brush springform pan with approximately 1 tbsp melted butter. If needed, line with parchment and brush parchment with extra butter. In a medium bowl, mix together remaining butter, coconut, graham cracker crumbs, and sugar until well moistened. Press into bottom of the springform pan and bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned at the edges. Cool and reduce oven temperature to 300F.

For filling: Using an electric mixer, beat together cream cheese, butter, cornstarch, and sugar until well combined. Add eggs in one at a time, scraping and mixing completely. Beat in cream of coconut and coconut rum. Strain mixture through a sieve and pour into cooled crust. Bake in a water bath at 300F for 1 hr 40 min (epicurious had all these instructions for covering with foil etc but I omitted and had no issues). The cake should jiggle a bit when done and be browned on the edges. Once done, turn oven off, crack oven door open, and let sit in the oven for 30 minutes before taking out to cool completely in the refrigerator (5 hours or more, preferably overnight).

For topping: Simmer jam and water in a saucepan until combined. Layer strawberries atop cheesecake and brush with glaze. Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve. Can be assembled 8 hours in advance.

Do you ever crave?

Pina Colada Cake

(Pardon the horrendous picture. This is actually the only decent shot I got and I am terrible at taking pictures in restaurants!)

I’m currently in China getting chubby on dumplings and hand-pulled noodles but figured I’d leave something sweet for you to munch on while I’m gone!

I made this cake as a (surprise, surprise) last-minute decision for a friend’s birthday (originally someone else volunteered but ended up not having enough time). I simplified it by baking it in a disposable cake pan, making a whipped topping rather than buttercream, and just slathering on toppings rather than slicing out layers etc. Actually, I was under some severe time constraints so we drove all the way to the restaurant with separate components and a still-too-warm cake and I threw it all together in Boy’s trunk. Thankfully, it came together perfectly and went well with the Cuban dinner we attended for the celebrant. It was a huge hit (some even said it was better than this ice cream cake). The flavors melded and the cake was a light ending to our meal. Each individual component was full of flavor and together there could be nothing more delicious.

Pina Colada Cake
adapted from Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes

Ingredients
For Brown Sugar Cake:

  • 3 3/4 c cake flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 c packed light brown sugar
  • 1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 c buttermilk
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

For Pineapple Topping:

  • 1 can (20 oz) crushed pineapple in juice
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1/4 c freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 vanilla bean

For Coconut Whipped Topping

  • 2 c heavy cream, chilled
  • 1/4 c confectioner’s sugar, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp coconut extract
  • 1/2 c sweetened shredded coconut, for garnish

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F.

For filling: Combine pineapple, sugar, lemon juice, and the scraped vanilla seeds in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir constantly while the sugar dissolves, 2-3 minutes. Then increase the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened and almost jam-like. Cool completely before using.

For cake: Butter a 9×13″ cake pan (or 3 9″ round cake pans). If you use the 9×13″ pan, you will have extra batter for cupcakes or a 9″ round cake.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl attached to an electric mixer. Whisk gently to combine. Add brown sugar, butter, and 1 1/2 c buttermilk and blend on low speed. Once incorporated, beat on medium 2-3 minutes or until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs with remaining 1/4 buttermilk and vanilla. Add to the batter in 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl in between, just until combined. Pour 2/3 of the cake batter (you can eyeball) into the prepared cake pan, saving the rest for cupcakes or a smaller cake. (Or divide among the 3 9″ round cake pans evenly.) Bake 35-45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean (for smaller pans, adjust time accordingly). Cool completely before topping.

For whipped topping: Whip heavy cream until soft peak stage. Add confectioner’s sugar and coconut extract and continue beating until stiff peaks. Taste and add sugar/extract as needed for your coconut loving taste.

For assembly: Spread pineapple topping over cooled cake (despite not using all the cake batter in my 9×13″ cake, I still used all of the topping – it’s yummy!). Then spread shredded coconut, followed by the whipped topping. Serve and enjoy!

I wish I had more pictures but alas it was not my camera’s night.

Enjoy your week everyone!

Neapolitan Ice Cream Cake

Lessons I’ve learned thus far in my quarter of a century existence on this earth:

1. Double knotting sneakers can never be a bad thing.

2. Facial moisterizer is necessary after I wash my face or I dry up and it’s not attractive.

3. People have a funny way of surprising you (this can be good or bad but there are lots of surprises either way).

4. Coffee is not actually essential to my being though I enjoy it.

5. Ice cream cakes are best made in a pan with four tall sides for ease of transport and the least amount of messy.

Yup. That’s it. Five things. That’s one thing for every five years I’ve been alive. But the quantity isn’t what matters, it’s the quality, and friends, that’s some quality lessons learned up there. Let’s talk about the last one, shall we?

Several weeks ago we went out for a going away party for a friend (she just left for Korea for a month). While she was out of earshot, her boyfriend said that he thought she snuck a cake into their car because she’d be out of town for his birthday. He then remarked that out of all the years they’d been together she’d never gotten him the cake he truly wanted. My ears perked up. Cake? I’m in!

Turns out all he wanted was an ice cream cake. And that’s what he was going to get.

The first birthday cake I made for my group of friends was actually for Boy. He too wanted an ice cream cake but only told me this on the day of his celebration which led to a lot of scrambling around. Needless to say, the cake was improperly frozen and proceeded to melt all over me as we tried to transport it from my freezer to the restaurant. There was toilet paper involved. Don’t ask.

The second ice cream cake I made the next year was for Boy’s roommate. I discovered the joys of building the cake in a disposable pan with tall sides so that if it began to melt it wouldn’t melt on me. Much better. However, I baked the cake in a separate pan and then transferred it which meant some holes and not the prettiest slices.

This time around, I think I finally perfected my ideal cake. I baked a bottom cake layer in the pan and simply built up the cake by adding homemade ice cream on top. It was a huge hit with the birthday boy, Boy himself, and all our friends and was much simpler than my previous versions. I may switch up the flavors but this will definitely be my method!

Note: If you’re looking to plan out your time, I suggest making the ice cream bases the night before and refrigerating overnight. The cake can also be made the day before if desired or the morning of. Make sure you freeze it for at least an hour before spreading ice cream on top. I then churned my middle layer (vanilla), immediately spread atop the cake, and froze for 20 minutes while my top layer (strawberry) churned. I didn’t wash my ice cream maker in between and went straight from flavor to flavor. You can spread this part over a few days if you like. I’m just insane.

Vanilla Ice Cream
adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours

Makes ~ 1 quart.

Ingredients

  • 2 c whole milk
  • 2 c heavy cream
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

Instructions
Bring milk and cream to boil in a heavy saucepan. Meanwhile whisk together yolks and sugar until slightly thickened. While whisking, drizzle 1/3 of the hot mixture into the eggs to temper. Pour the rest of the hot mixture in, whisk, and then transfer back into the pan. Heat on medium, stirring constantly, until the mixture is 170-180F or the custard coats the back of a spoon without running when you slide a finger through it. Strain into a heatproof bowl. Stir in the vanilla extract. Cover and refrigerate until ready to churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.

Strawberry Ice Cream
adapted from epicurious

Makes ~5 cups.

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 c heavy cream
  • 3 3×1 inch strips of lemon zest
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 c sugar, divided
  • 1 lb frozen strawberries (fresh if you can find really great ones), trimmed and quartered
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Instructions
Combine cream, zest, and salt in a saucepan and heat until just to a boil. Remove from heat and discard zest.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and 1/2 c sugar until well combined. Add a small amount of the heavy cream to the egg mixture while whisking constantly. Then add the rest in, mix, and pour back into the saucepan. Turn the heat back on medium-low and whisk constantly as you heat the mixture to 170F. Be sure you do not exceed 180F. Pour through a sieve into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate at least 2 hours or until cool.

Once cooled, puree strawberries with remaining 1/4 c sugar and lemon juice in a blender. Strain through a sieve to remove seeds. Mix into the cooled custard. Churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.

Chocolate Cake
adapted from Gale Gand

Makes 1 9×13″ cake.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 1/4 c + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c + 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 eggs*
  • 6 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c boiling water

*for the half egg, you can break the egg into a bowl, whisk, then measure out half of the mixture

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9×13″ cake pan and set aside.

Sift together sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk to combine. In a separate bowl fitted with an electric mixer, combine eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and beat on low for 5 minutes. Gradually add the hot water, still mixing at low speed until just combined. Pour batter into the pan and bake 25-30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool and freeze at least 1 hour to firm up before assembly.

For Assembly: Ensure that the vanilla ice cream is soft before spreading by either spreading right after churning or letting the ice cream sit on the counter for 30 minutes. Spread vanilla ice cream onto the frozen chocolate cake. Freeze for 30 minutes while you churn or soften the strawberry layer. Spread strawberry ice cream and freeze at least 1 hour before serving. Decorate as desired.

I love ice cream cakes, don’t you?

Bailey’s Cheesecake

My brother’s birthday was last week and when I asked him what kind of cake he wanted for it, he had two words.

“Cheesecake” and “Alcohol.”

The alcohol part I understood. He’s young (23 years to be exact), hip, and just beginning the 3-year road on the way to being a lawyer. Of course he’d want alcohol for his birthday! But cheesecake? Even my mom was surprised. My brother has never enjoyed cheesecake, has never asked for a slice of cheesecake even when we, as a family, have one in the house. He always passes.

So why the change of heart this time?

We celebrated his birthday on Sunday and his finalized request for cake was delivered to me Saturday evening at 5pm so I didn’t really have time to argue with him about whether or not he’d even like his birthday cake. I needed to grocery shop, bring ingredients to room temperature, and bake and chill a whole cheesecake for lunchtime Sunday!

But when we sat down to scarf down this wonderful cheesecake, he told us that two nights before (Friday) he had gone out to dinner and tried out a Bailey’s cheesecake (coincidental that I picked the same alcohol) and realized that he didn’t mind cheesecake so much. He liked dense, rich cheesecakes.

Uh oh.

This was not a dense cheesecake. And the one he tried on Friday was by a friend of a friend who owned a bakery. Could mine live up to it?

Oh blog world friends it did! It carried the flavor of Bailey’s without tasting like hard alcohol, beautifully balanced by the sweet mini chocolate chips and Oreo crust. It was light and airy, owing to my beating the filling like no one’s business and my straining of it at the end, and my brother liked it! The texture was silky smooth and the crust crunchy. Every bite was the perfect bite.

My brother who doesn’t like cheesecakes liked it, going so far to say that it topped the one he had tried two days ago. I don’t think he could have hoped for better.

Even my 93-year-old grandmother who I’ve never seen drink even a drop of alcohol liked it. That’s gotta say something!

Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheesecake
adapted from yumsugar

Ingredients
For crust:

  • 1/2 c pecans, toasted, cooled, and crushed (400F for 15 minutes or until fragrant)
  • 2 c Oreo crumbs (scrape out the filling)
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 6 tbsp butter, melted

For filling:

  • 2 1/4 lb cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 2/3 c sugar
  • 5 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 c Bailey’s Original Irish Cream
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c mini chocolate chips

For topping:

  • 1 c heavy whipping cream, chilled
  • 1 tsp instant coffee powder
  • 1/3 c confectioner’s sugar

Instructions
For crust, Preheat oven to 325F. Mix all ingredients in a medium sized bowl until moistened. Press into the bottom and up the sides (as much as you can) of a 10″ spring form pan. Don’t pack it down too hard or it will be impossible to cut the finished crust. Bake 7-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, for the filling, Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed 3-5 minutes or until very smooth. Gradually add in the sugar followed by the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute after each addition. Add in the Bailey’s and vanilla and beat another minute or two. At this point, my filling was still a bit lumpy so I strained it quickly before moving on.

Sprinkle half of the chocolate chips over the baked crust. Spoon in filling then sprinkle with remaining chips. Place onto a baking sheet or roasting pan filled partially with warm water. Bake at 325F for 1 hour 20 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Turn off oven and crack the oven door open, allowing the cake to cool in the oven a bit for 20-30 minutes before removing and chilling in the refrigerator overnight.

For serving, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add the coffee and sugar and beat until stiff peaks. Taste and adjust accordingly.

You can garnish the cake with chocolate curls or toffee bits but I was pretty happy as it was already.

The aftermath. Not so pretty but definitely yummy!

Are you a fan of alcohol and baking?

Pig Cake

I have been ridiculously MIA from blogging this past week. As we approach the end of an era (my formal education years), it’s getting quite hectic and I’m trying desperately to spend as much time with my family and friends as possible before my job (JOB! WOOHOO!) starts in June and I move away (not far away but away) and spend sleepless nights at the hospital.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Match Day, or the day all graduating medical students across the country find out where they’ll be working this coming year, was this past Thursday. It was nerve wracking, anxiety inducing, makes-you-need-to-pee-and-want-to-vomit-all-at-the-same-time, and all around torture. But we all got through it. I got my number 2 choice in New York if you’re all wondering. I’m quite happy. Boy is too (he also got his number 2, also in New York, but different institution).

To celebrate, I quickly whipped up this Pig Cake before we all went out for an evening of bad decisions. It was everything I wanted to be. Very few ingredients, meaning less time at the grocery store, whipped up in a matter of minutes, meaning more time hanging out, and tasted wonderfully. Also, it was a single layer cake, perfect for large crowds and for even less kitchen fuss. The cake itself was moist and light and just a bit tropical tasting with the addition of mandarin oranges. The topping was a pure dream. It, too, was light and fluffy with scrumptious chunks of pineapple. The whole cake was sweet but not too sweet and fit in perfectly for the joyous occasion. This will definitely be made again and again without hesitation. I don’t know why exactly it’s called Pig Cake (PW doesn’t either) but I can only surmise that it’s because it’s so incredibly delicious you can’t help but be a little piggy eating more and more!

Sorry there’s only one picture! I was too busy drinking champagne.

Pig Cake
adapted from the Pioneer Woman

Ingredients

For cake:

  • 1 box Yellow Cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 14 oz can of mandarin oranges, drained, 1/2 c juice reserved
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For topping:

  • 1 package vanilla instant pudding mix
  • 20 oz can of crushed pineapple, drained, juice reserved
  • 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 4 oz Cool Whip
  • extra mandarin oranges for garnish, optional

Instructions
For cake: Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 9×13″ baking pan.

Using an electric mixer, combine cake mix, butter, reserved juice, eggs, and vanilla on medium-high (start out slow to prevent cake mix from flying everywhere) for 4 minutes. Add oranges and beat until they are broken up into small pieces. Pour into prepared pan and bake 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and set. Cool completely.

For topping: Mix together vanilla pudding mix and reserved juice. Add powdered sugar followed by the whipped topping, mixing to combine. Stir in pineapple. Spread on cooled cake and refrigerate several hours before serving. Serve with extra mandarin oranges if desired.

What’s your reason to celebrate this week?

PB Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

This is the biggest week in my medical school career.

On Thursday, I find out where I am employed for the next four years of my life, where I will make my lifelong connections, where I will train to be the best possible physician I can be. At noon, my entire class will open our envelops containing the destination we’ve worked so hard to get to for the past four years. We’ll find out how far away we’ll be leaving one another. There will be tears of happiness and tears of sadness.

The thought of it makes me want to vomit.

Which is where this cookie cake comes in!

From the moment I saw this on Ellie’s blog, I knew I’d be making it in a time of turmoil. It looked comforting, inviting, and warm. And after all was said and done and I was eating my first slice, I knew it was exactly what I needed. The butterflies in my stomach vanished for a moment as I filled it instead with chocolate, peanut butter, and marshmallow goodness. How could I be stressed with a mouthful of what tastes like unbaked cookie dough?

Unfortunately, in my moment of need last night I polished off more of the cake than I anticipated. I’m not sure how I’m going to tide my nerves between now and Thursday now!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
adapted from Almost Bourdain

Makes 1 9″ cake.

Ingredients

  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 c smooth peanut butter
  • 1 c lightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/4 c chocolate chips (I used 60% cacao)
  • 1 c minimarshmallows

Instructions
Preheat oven to 355F. Grease and line a 9″ circular cake pan. Set aside.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium sized bowl. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, peanut butter, sugar, and vanilla for 1-2 minutes or until well combined. Add in egg and beat another minute on medium speed, scraping down sides as needed. Switching to low speed, mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips and marshmallows with a spatula. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 18-22 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in pan before running knife around edge. Then cool in pan for at least 4 hours before turning out and serving.

 

What kind of week are you having?

Coconut Half-Pound Cake

In all my “carpe diem”-ing, I took a small trip down to Philadelphia this past weekend to visit a friend from school who recently moved there. And, as per my usual, I decided the morning of to bake something. Anything, so long as it was good.

I took a quick survey of my kitchen and found leftover shredded coconut and not much else. After a quick Google search, this cake was it. And I’m so glad it was because it was a definite hit among my two girlfriend and myself as we polished off half of it that afternoon. Luckily, we have large enough stomachs that it didn’t spoil our dinner. I threw in a touch of almond extract at the last minute and was told that the addition made the cake. A tender crumb, moist coconut, and the delicious idea of sprinkling some vanilla sugar over top all made the perfect afternoon snack.

Unfortunately, in all the rush, I neglected to take pictures of the cake slices. Trust me that it was delicious. Also, had I taken pictures of the inside, you’d have seen little flecks of vanilla bean because the original recipe called for it. The end result, however, didn’t exactly showcase the vanilla so I omitted that in the recipe below. If you opt out of the almond extract you may find the vanilla bean flavor present but I love the almond and coconut combination.

Note: I call this a half-pound cake because the eggs and butter are only half a pound and not the classic pound. I also think it’s a cuter title this way.

Coconut Half-Pound Cake
adapted from the Naptime Chef

Makes 1 9×5″ loaf.

Ingredients

  • 1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • heaping 1 c sweetened shredded coconut, divided
  • vanilla sugar

Instructions
Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a 9×5″ loaf and set aside.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs approximately one egg at a time, beating until thoroughly mixed after each addition. Add extracts and combine. On low speed, slowly add in the flour until just incorporated. Fold in 3/4 c coconut with a spatula. Pour into prepared pan and bake 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes, sprinkle remaining coconut and a good helping of vanilla sugar over loaf and continue baking another 15 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Cool completely. Eat, eat, eat!

Red Bean Mochi Cake

Happy Chinese New Year!!

I’m not Chinese but Boy is (actually, he’s Taiwanese and he makes a big fuss over the difference.. but they all still celebrate CNY) so I decided this year I would find a way to be a part of his tradition.

While we’ll be having our own little CNY celebration later today, he went back to his parents’ house last night (they live an hour away) and I wanted to send a little gift home with him. After several hours of researching about the traditions of CNY and looking at a whole bunch of Asian recipes, I settled on this one from Tiny Urban Kitchen. “Nian gao” can have a dual meaning of both “sticky cake” and “high/tall year.” The latter meaning is often used during CNY to signify reaching new heights in the new year. I also liked this recipe because it incorporates red beans, one of my favorite flavors and coincidentally the lucky color in Chinese culture. The recipe was quite simple to make with ingredients easily found at my local Asian supermarket. So I sent Boy off home with eight slices of the loaf.

Why eight?

Eight is the luckiest number in Chinese culture. I ended up cutting the loaf into 12 pieces but I got worried that 12 may be unlucky somehow and I didn’t want to chance offending anyone so I played it safe and went with eight. The loaf was well-received and thankfully no one made any comments that I had accidentally ruined their New Year.

CNY is a 15-day celebration so you’re by no means late if you make this within the next two weeks. Although, you can always just stick to the “sticky cake” meaning and make it all year round (which is what I plan to do anyhow)! If you’ve never had mochi before, it’s sticky in the best way possible, not very sweet, and just subtly flavored by the red bean in this version. I highly recommend trying it. You won’t be disappointed!

Red Bean Mochi Cake (Nian Gao)
adapted from Tiny Urban Kitchen

Makes 2 loaves, 1 9×13 cake, or 24 cupcakes.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Mochiko sweet rice flour (found in Asian markets or here)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 c vegetable oil
  • 2 c milk (I used 2%)
  • 1 1/4 c sugar
  • 3/4 c red bean paste (also found in Asian markets)

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F. (No need to line your pans.)

Mix all ingredients except the red bean paste together in a large bowl. Add in the red bean paste. Divide among pans. Bake for 45 min – 1 hour, or until a knife comes out clean. Cut and enjoy either warmed or at room temperature.

HOW EASY IS THAT?!

Here’s to the Year of the Rabbit!

Brown Derby Cake

Brown Derby cake.

This past weekend we celebrated my wonderful mom’s birthday.

If you’ve ever met my brother, you’d know he’s a tough talker. He has a bit of a potty-mouth, he’s extremely smart, and he’s a bit conceited. So overall he sounds like a know-it-all with a smart mouth. He’s also a fourth degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and continues to teach students training to go to national competitions. He can do ridiculous flips and wield a sword. He’s not one to be messed with.

But if you get to know him a little better, he’s not as tough as he seems to be.

After several mishaps and uncertainties with the first cake idea I had, I called him asking for suggestions.

“What kind of cake do you think I should make Mom?”

“Brown Derby” was his immediate response, quickly defended with, “It’s the only cake I know she likes.”

And he was right.

You see, when we were growing up, all of our birthday cakes consisted of a Brown Derby cake created by our local pastry shoppe. I’ve never seen a Brown Derby cake since that time but the thought of it brought back some wonderful memories. So with the help of Google, I came up with a version of our favorite childhood cake that pleased the entire family.

If you’ve never tried one of these babies, it’s essentially a chocolate cake filled with a fruit and whipped cream filling including strawberries, bananas, and peaches (as I remember it). I created mine with a rich devil’s food cake filled with fresh strawberries, fresh ripe bananas, canned peaches, and a handful of blueberries folded into a gelatinous whipped cream mixture (that in hindsight could simply have been the fruit and whipped cream without the extra ingredients/steps). It was a throwback to our childhood and my mom was pleased that we had remembered.

Happy birthday, Mommy!

Brown Derby Cake
cake adapted from Dorie’s Baking From My Home to Yours
filling adapted from Taste of Home

Ingredients
For cake:

  • 1 1/3 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 10 tbsp (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 c packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 c whole milk, room temperature
  • 1/2 c boiling water
  • 4 oz semisweet or milk chocolate, finely chopped

For filling:

  • 1 package unflavored gelatin (~1 tbsp)
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar, sifted
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c heavy whipping cream
  • 12 oz fresh strawberries, sliced thinly
  • 1 15 oz can sliced peaches, drained
  • 2 medium bananas, sliced thinly
  • handful of fresh blueberries

For topping:

  • 1 1/2 c heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 c confectioner’s sugar, sifted (plus more to taste)

Instructions
For cake: Preheat oven to 350F and prepare 1 round cake pan and 1 medium-sized mixing bowl (oven-safe!) with butter and a healthy dusting of flour or confectioner’s sugar. Line the round cake pan with parchment paper as well.

Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Using a stand or hand mixer, cream butter on medium speed until soft. Add both sugars and continue beating for 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Add vanilla. At this point things may look curdled but keep on beating. On low speed, add melted chocolate. Then add dry ingredients in 3 additions alternating with the milk in 2 additions. Mix just until incorporated. Add in the boiling water which will thin down the luscious batter. Finally, stir in the chopped chocolate with a rubber spatula. Divide the cake evenly between the prepared pan and prepared bowl. Bake separately in the preheated oven. The round cake will take about 25-30 minutes. The bowl took me closer to an hour to set properly. When you insert a knife into the center of the cake, it should come out clean. Allow cake to cool for several minutes before running a knife/spatula around the sides, unmolding, and allowing to cool completely to room temperature.

For filling: (Again, as above, you can simply mix the fruit with whipped cream sweetened slightly with confectioner’s sugar if desired. This recipe gives a bit more solid filling with the addition of gelatin.) Stir gelatin in milk to soften. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites until stiff and add the sugar in slowly, mixing to combine. Heat the gelatin and milk mixture over very low heat for several minutes until the gelatin is completely dissolved. With the mixer on, pour the warmed mixture over the egg whites and mix well. Add in vanilla. Cool to warm before folding in prepared fruits.

In a separate bowl, beat heavy cream until stiff peaks (you can use your dirty beaters). Fold in to fruit mixture.

For topping: Beat heavy cream in a clean bowl until stiff peaks. Add sugar to taste.

For assembly: Once cakes are cooled, level both cakes, reserving scraps (take a bit off even if your cakes came our perfectly which mine never ever do). Take round cake and place on stand. Top with as much filling as desired. (I only did one big fat layer of filling and used about 3/4 of it. In hindsight, you can cut the cake baked in the bowl into two layers and then have two layers of filling with three layers of cake. Just saying.) Top with cake baked in the bowl. Using a spatula, spread sweetened whipped topping all over cake. Finally, crumble scraps and press into whipped topping. If your scraps a little too moist, you can spread them over a baking sheet and dry them out a bit in a warmed oven.

Messy cakes are always the most delicious in my opinion!

What cake did you used to eat growing up?

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