Friday, July 3, 2015

America, America!

Time to celebrate our Independence!

It feels good to finally be back in the kitchen, whipping up some delicious treats, especially when it came to whipping up some fresh cream.  Today's freshly baked sweet is a pan di spagna (sponge cake) layered with fresh whipped cream and topped with the American flag (strawberries and blueberries).

Pan di Spagna Ingredients
5 eggs (room temperature)
150 grams sugar
vanilla extract, lemon zest, or orange zest (to taste)
pinch of salt
150 grams flour

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Spray pan with cooking spray (can also use butter and flour).
  3. Using the whisk attachment on your mixer, whip together the eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla for at least 15 minutes.
  4. Sift the flour into mixture, a little at a time, and fold after each addition.
  5. Pour batter into the prepared pan. DO NOT beat the pan, you will get rid of the air in the batter. Bake for 40 minutes.
  6. Let it cool and then enjoy or top it with some whipped cream =)

One important tip...
  • Do not open the oven before 20 minutes or the cake with deflate.

Whipped Cream
1 pint (2 cups) heavy cream/whipping cream
2 tsps. vanilla extract
3 tbps. confectioners sugar
  1. Using the whisk attachment on your mixer, whip all the ingredients together until stiff and peaks are forming.  Do not overmix or it will look curdled like butter.

Once cooled, I cut the cake in half.  I layered the first half with half of the whipped cream and some strawberries.  The second half of the cake was placed on top and covered with the remaining whipped cream and the American flag made out of strawberries and blueberries.

Happy Independence Day!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Dutch Baby

It is a snowy day here in New York.  There is about a foot of snow on the ground and it is still snowing!  Time to hunker down, relax under the blankets, and make a breakfast that makes you feel all warm and cozy inside.

While the snow was falling last night, I was researching for a yummy breakfast.  I already knew I wanted something pancake like and I came across this Vanilla Dutch Baby recipe from Food Network.  You can top this off with anything!  Fresh whipped cream, maple syrup, powdered syrup, etc.  The list goes on.

Since I'm working on a healthier me, I made a couple changes.  I swapped out whole milk for almond milk and a 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour for 1/4 cup of hazelnut meal/flour.  Best thing I ever did!  It gives the pancake a nice, subtle, nutty flavor.

The recipe makes 8 servings, each serving at 126 calories (without toppings.)

3 tbsps. butter
3 eggs
1/4 cup hazelnut meal/flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup almond milk (heated for 30 seconds in the microwave)
1 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsps. vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Confectioners'sugar for dusting

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Put the butter in a cast iron pan or a large, ovenproof, nonstick saute pan, and place in the oven.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the eggs, flour, warm milk, sugar, vanilla extract, and salt in a blender until well incorporated.  Bubbles should form on top of the mixture.
  4. Remove the pan from the oven.  The butter should be melted.  Swirl the butter around to coat the pan and pour the remaining butter into the batter.  Blend until butter is incorporated.
  5. Pour the batter back into the pan and place in the oven.  Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, until the pancake is puffed and golden brown.
  6. Using a spatula, remove the Dutch baby and place on a cooling rack.  Once slightly cool, cut into 8 pieces and top it with whatever your heart desires.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Chocolate Lava Cake

The hubby loves chocolate lava cake.  Any time we go out for dinner, I know it will be followed by chocolate lava cake.  I made this once for his birthday a few years back and never made it again.  How dare I?!  It is so easy to make and doesn't take a long time to bake.

By the way, I'll be making this for Valentine's Day <3

2 cubes of semi-sweet baking chocolate
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp flour


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Grease 2 ramekins very well!  If you think you've greased it enough, grease it again.
  3. In a medium bowl, add chocolate and butter.  Microwave in 20 second intervals, mixing until the chocolate and butter are well incorporated.
  4. Add powdered sugar to butter and chocolate mix and mix well.
  5. Add in egg and egg yolk and mix until well incorporated.
  6. Add cinnamon and flour and stir.
  7. Distribute the batter evenly into the ramekins.
  8. Bake for 14 minutes.  Remove from oven and let stand for one minute.
  9. Carefully place a plate on top of the ramekin and flip over.  If you greased it well, the cakes will just slide right out.
  10. Top with some powdered sugar, ice cream or whip cream and enjoy!
Look at it!  It's smiling!! =)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Tiramisu Crepe Cake

A coworker tagged me in a picture, asking if I can make this cake for her.  Crepe cake and tiramisu, how could I say no?!  Once I knew I was going to work with cognac and rum, I couldn't wait to begin.

She sent me the recipe from Tasting Table.  I made a few adjustments due to availability of ingredients.



3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. cake flour
3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsps. salt
4 large eggs
5 large egg yolks
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 cups whole milk
2 tbsps. cognac
Nonstick spray

Tiramisu Filling
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
2 cups mascarpone cheese
2 cups tiramisu mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup rum
1/4 cup cocoa powder

Directions for Crepes
  1. Sift the cake flour, all-purpose flour, and sugar.
  2. Whisk in the salt.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks.
  4. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and whisk until smooth (it will be thick.)
  5. Slowly whisk in the butter, then the milk and the cognac, until the batter is smooth.
  6. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  7. Prepare your nonstick skillet.  Heat on medium-high heat and lightly coat with the nonstick spray.
  8. Pour 1/4 cup crepe mixture into pan and cook for approximately 1 1/2 minutes, until golden-brown.
  9. Flip and cook the other side for approximately 30 seconds.
  10. Repeat this for the remainder of the crepe batter.
  11. Wrap in parchment paper and refrigerate overnight.

Directions for Filling
  1. Sift powdered sugar into mixing bowl and fit paddle attachment to mixer.
  2. Add mascarpone cheese and rum.  
  3. Mix on low until well combined.

Directions for Assembling
  1. Add a tablespoon of mascarpone cheese onto cardboard circle and place 1 crepe on top.
  2. Add 1/4 cup of tiramisu filling to the crepe and spread.
  3. Repeat for 18 crepes.
  4. After spreading mascarpone cheese on your last crepe, dust with cocoa powder.
  5. Refrigerate overnight for it to set.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Salted Caramel Cheesecake

I signed into my Facebook account one day and saw a message.  It was one of my friends requesting a cheesecake for her husband's birthday.  Of course it wasn't just any cheesecake, it was a salted caramel cheesecake.  Ummm...YES!!

The cheesecake recipe I use is from Food for A Hungry Soul.  Each time I make it, I experiment, making my own tweeks to it, and so far, I have not been disappointed.

One of the most important things about making a cheesecake is making sure the cream cheese, eggs, sour cream, and butter reach room temperature.  I didn't let my cream cheese get to room temperature once and I had a nice, lumpy cheesecake (it was still delicious.)

5 large eggs, room temperature
1 pint sour cream, room temperature
4 8oz. packages of cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tbsps. cornstarch
1 1/2 tsps. vanilla extract
1 tsp. lemon juice 
1 tsp. grated lemon zest 

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 F.
  2. Butter the inside of a 10-inch springform pan.  Wrap it with two layers of foil.  Place the pan in a slow cooker bag and create a knot so that it stays around the pan.
  3. In a bowl, beat the eggs and sour cream, with an electric mixer, until well blended.
  4. In a stand mixer (or another bowl), beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth and creamy.  Add the mixture to the egg and sour cream mix.  Beat until smooth and well blended.
  5. Add the remaining ingredients and beat for approximately 2 minutes.
  6. Pour mixture into the springform and place it in a roasting pan large enough so that the sides of the springform do not touch the roasting pan.  Place it in the oven and pour hot water into the roasting pan (should reach halfway up the side of the springform.)
  7. Bake for 2 hours and 15 minutes.  
  8. Carefully remove the roasting pan out from the oven, then remove the springform pan from the roasting pan.  Allow to cool for about 4 hours.  Refrigerate overnight.
While the cheesecake is baking, or cooling, make the salted caramel sauce to pour over that lovely cheesecake!

If all went well with your cheesecake, it should be flawless.  If it has a few cracks in it, don't worry.  This was the first time mine came out perfectly. =)

Once it has cooled, release the springform, and carefully transfer your cheesecake onto your platter.  Pour your salted caramel and watch how it drips down the sides.

Put it back in the fridge for approximately 10 minutes and then you can cut into it and enjoy!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Orange Cranberry Shortbread Cookies

Autumn, my favorite time of the year.  I know we are still in summer, but here in New York, we hit a high of 78 degrees yesterday.  When I stepped out of the house, it was actually a bit cool.  I loved it!  With this crisp air comes feelings of comfort.  Comfort = dessert, and today, dessert = cookies.

2 sticks salted butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
zest of 1 orange
2 cups flour
1 tbsp. fresh orange juice
1 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Cream butter, powdered sugar, and orange zest until fluffy.
  3. Add flour and orange juice.  Mix until a soft dough has been formed.
  4. Add in cranberries and mix until incorporated.
  5. Roll dough onto lightly floured surface until 1/4 inch thick.
  6. Cut into rounds and place on a lined baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes or until cookies are a pale golden brown.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Chocolate Cake Meets Chocolate Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting

As I sat down with the Pottery Barn catalog, my mind began to wander.  The baker in me wasn't allowing me to focus on the duvet sets but on salted caramel sauce.  I've made it before and drizzled it atop some vanilla ice cream...mmm mmm good.  However, this time, I wanted to pair it up with chocolate.  It came to me like a bolt of lightning...chocolate cake and chocolate salted caramel frosting.  Yes!  I went to bed like a giddy child waiting to open presents on Christmas day.

Salted Caramel Sauce Recipe

2 cups sugar
12 tbsps. salted butter, room temperature and cut into pieces
1 cup heavy cream, room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

  1. Pour the sugar into a large saucepan.
  2. Heat over medium-high heat, whisking regularly.
  3. When all the sugar has melted, stop whisking.
  4. Keep cooking the sugar until a deep golden amber color.
  5. Once color is achieved, add the butter and whisk until incorporated.  Be careful, the caramel will bubble up.
  6. Remove pan from heat.
  7. Slowly whisk in the heavy cream.  Be careful, the caramel will bubble up again.
  8. Once the cream is incorporated, whisk in the vanilla.
  9. Let it sit for 10 - 15 minutes before storing in a glass jar.
  10. If you can't wait that long, drizzle some on a scoop of ice cream and enjoy!

Chocolate Cake Recipe

3/4 cups butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
2 tsps. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 cups milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease two 9-inch round baking pans.  Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients and set aside.
  3. In another large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated.  Add vanilla.
  5. Add in your dry ingredients, slowly.
  6. Slowly add in your milk.
  7. Distribute batter evenly into the two pans and bake for 35 - 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Cool for 10 - 15 minutes and transfer cakes to wire rack.
  9. While cooling, begin working on your frosting.

Chocolate Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cups salted caramel sauce (recipe above)

  1. Begin by creaming sugar on medium speed.
  2. Lower speed to low and add in the cocoa powder and powdered sugar.  Increase speed to high and whip for 1 minute.
  3. Lower speed to medium and add in salted caramel sauce.  Increase speed to high and whip for 2 minutes or until thick and creamy.
  4. Once cakes are completely cool, begin to frost.
  5. Enjoy a slice!