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    Small-Batch Potato and Leek Focaccia

    Is there a  pairing more classic than the ? For this Small-Batch Potato and Leek F, pillowy dough is flavored with fresh parsley  rosemary  then topped with whisper-thin layers of , sliced ,  a sprinkle of shredded Gruyère cheese. The result is a light  chewy loaf rich with the flavors of oniony , herbs,  melted cheese. ¾ cup (180 grams) water, room temperature (70°F/21°C to […] LEGGI TUTTO

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    Creme Brulee

    Nothing beats classic Creme Brulee for a special occasion dessert. It takes just five ingredients to make this creamy French custard with a caramelized topping.

    I’m not sure how I’ve been blogging for more than a dozen years, and never posted my favorite creme brulee recipe. Creme brulee is so well loved, you’ll find it on menus of fine restaurants all over the planet. It is rich and elegant. The shiny, crisp, burnt sugar surface is ceremoniously cracked with the edge of spoon. The thin layer of caramel shatters and gives way to an incredibly creamy custard with a silky texture. It’s one of the most popular desserts in the world. You’d never guess it was made with such simple and few ingredients!

    Five ingredients make the magic happen.
    First, choose a cream for your French custards. You can use heavy cream, light cream, or half-and-half. The latter is my favorite because it’s half milk and half cream. It’s a touch lighter than the others. But if you’re looking for the most indulgent version, use heavy cream. The vanilla bean pod, split, releases its seeds and creamy flavor into the cream as it cooks. Egg yolks add another layer of richness and buttery color. And they set the custard. Sugar sweetens and salt underscores the flavors. The ingredients are so simple, but together they make magic!

    Pour the cream into a pot and cook until hot but not boiling. Steep the split vanilla bean pod in the cream. If you don’t have vanilla bean pods, then you can use vanilla extract. If using vanilla extract, add it after you take the cream off the heat.

    Strain the cream using a fine mesh sieve into a big measuring cup with a pour spout. The vanilla seeds will pass through. But any larger bits from the vanilla pod will be strained out. Let the mixture cool slightly.

    Mix the egg yolks and sugar together in a separate bowl until well combined. Whisk for about 3 minutes constantly, and you’ll notice the yolks will lighten slightly.

    Tempering – a necessary step.
    Pour about 1/3 cup of the warm cream mixture into the egg mixture while whisking. This tempers the eggs. Which means it warms them up without scrambling them.

    Now that some of the eggs have been tempered with cream, pour them into the rest of the hot cream mixture in the glass measure while whisking constantly.

    A step closer to creme brulee perfection.
    The mixture will have a little foam on top from all that egg whisking. It will dissipate a little over time, or, for perfect custards, skim it off with a spoon. This is an optional step, but it will help create an even surface for the eventual crisp caramel topping.

    Place the ramekins in a baking dish (I used a 13×9 inch cake pan) and pour the mixture into four 8-ounce ramekins. Or, if you have more guests to serve, six 6-ounce shallow ramekins.

    Bathe those beauties.
    Make a water bath by pouring hot water in the pan halfway up the sides of the ramekins. You can boil the water in a pot or in a large teakettle. For safety purposes, I recommend placing the pan on the oven rack, and then filling the pan with water. This removes any accidental sloshing of hot water during transport to the oven.
    Bake the custards for about 40 minutes. Or until they are set around the edges and have a jiggle in their centers. Keep them in the water bath until the water is barely warm. During this time they’ll continue to cook through. Then transfer them to the refrigerator to chill.

    Drama ahead!
    Now – the fun part! (Just kidding. It’s all been fun!) The sugar crust! Sprinkle granulated sugar on top of the set custards. I used about a teaspoon of sugar per ramekin.

    Use a kitchen torch to caramelize the sugar. For extra drama, do this at the table in front of your dinner guests! The trick is to keep moving the torch around the surface area as the sugar granules melt. Don’t tarry too long in one place. Otherwise you’ll end up with burnt custard. You’ll recognize it immediately because it will bubble up over the caramel and char black.
    An alternative to the chef’s torch is the oven broiler. It’s an easy method but your custards must be very well chilled, or you’ll end up with crème brûlée soup. I’ll include instructions for that in the recipe card.

    To enjoy, crack the crisp caramel topping with the edge of a spoon. The custard nearest the topping will be a little melted under the heat of the torch. This is normal and so delicious to eat! The custard below should be well set and hold in a spoon. Some pastry chefs avoid the melty custard top by preparing a caramel disk separately from the custard. That’s a lot of extra trouble, and personally I love the small bit of warm custard.

    If you’re looking for a beautiful ending to special dinner (such as Valentine’s Day next week!) this one is tops. It’s a restaurant-quality dessert that you can easily make at home. The custards can be made a couple of days ahead, but the caramel topping should be prepared just before serving.
    If you’re looking for a unique way to serve creme brulee, check out my Creme Brulee-Filled Strawberries! So delicious and also perfect for Valentine’s Day.

    Classic Creme Brulee

    Heather Baird

    Five simple ingredients treated just so, transforms them into a rich, elegant, restaurant-quality dessert you can make at home! Crème brulee is a classic French dessert that makes a perfect ending to a special dinner. It can be made ahead and refrigerated for your next dinner party. The sugar topping should be torched just before serving.

    #wprm-recipe-user-rating-0 .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-full svg * { fill: #5A822B; }#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0 .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-33 svg * { fill: url(#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-33); }#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0 .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-50 svg * { fill: url(#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-50); }#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0 .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-66 svg * { fill: url(#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-66); }linearGradient#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-33 stop { stop-color: #5A822B; }linearGradient#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-50 stop { stop-color: #5A822B; }linearGradient#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-66 stop { stop-color: #5A822B; }No ratings yet

    Prep Time 20 minsCook Time 40 minsTotal Time 1 hr

    Course DessertCuisine French

    Servings 4

    Equipment8 ounce ramekins (4)13×9 inch deep baking panChef’s torch, optional
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric 2 cups half-and-half or heavy cream1 vanilla bean pod split, or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract1/8 teaspoon fine grain sea salt5 large egg yolks1/2 cup granulated sugar plus more for brulée topping
    Instructions Preheat the oven to 325°F.Put on a large teakettle of water to boil, or use a large pot. You’ll need about 2-3 cups of boiling water.Place the half-and-half or cream in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Add the salt and vanilla bean and cook until hot but not boiling. Remove from the heat and allow the vanilla bean to steep as the cream cools slightly, about 5-7 minutes. Pick up the vanilla bean pod with two fingers and lightly squeeze its contents into the cream. Stir. If using vanilla extract instead of the bean pod, heat the cream and then add the extract to the pot off the heat.Place a fine mesh sieve over a large glass measuring cup with a pour spout (4 cup capacity). Pour the cream through the sieve to catch any large bits of vanilla bean pod that may have cooked off.In a medium mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks and 1/2 cup of sugar together using a whisk. Beat until the mixture lightens slightly, which will take 2-3 minutes of constant whisking.Stir about 1/3 cup of the warm cream into the egg mixture while whisking constantly to temper the eggs. Then pour this mixture back into the glass measure of remaining cream while whisking constantly. If the mixture is foamy, skim most of the foam off. This is an optional step, but creates an even surface for the caramelized topping.Place four 8 oz. ramekins into a deep 13×9 baking dish. Pour the crème brulee mixture from the glass measure evenly into the four ramekins. Place the pan on the oven rack and pour the boiling water into the pan halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the centers are barely set and have a nice jiggle when moved. Remove the pan from the oven and let the custards stay in the water bath at room temperature until the water is cooled to warm, about 30 minutes. When the water is comfortable to the touch, remove the custards and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or overnight. And up to two days ahead of serving.Just before serving, sprinkle a teaspoon of granulated sugar on top of each chilled custard. Shake each ramekin to even the sugar across the surface of the custard. Use a chef’s torch to evenly caramelize the sugar across the surface. Move the torch constantly so that it melts the sugar granules and doesn’t char the custard below. Alternatively, place the ramekins on a baking sheet and broil them in the oven 2-3 inches from the heat source. Cook until the sugar caramelizes, about 3-5 minutes.Serve immediately, or within an hour after caramelizing the sugar.
    NotesIf using the broiler method, be sure the custard is well chilled, otherwise you’ll end up with melted, soupy crème brulee.
    The doneness of the caramel is up to you. Some like the caramel topping almost black and bordering on bitter, while I prefer a lightly brown coating that tastes like toasted marshmallow.
    If you have more than 4 guests to serve, use 6-8 shallow ramekins and cook for 3 minutes.
    This recipe is adapted from Vanilla Creme Brulee by Mark Bittman from an old New York Times article. 

    Keyword caramel topping, egg yolks, fine grain sea salt, half and half, heavy cream

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    Kit Kat Cake

    This chocolatey Kit Kat Cake holds two yellow cake layers covered with chocolate ganache frosting. Rows of Kit Kat bars lined around the edge of the cake makes for the easiest cake decorating!

    I recently found myself with a big stack of king-size Kit Kat candy bars and a pound of fresh strawberries that needed to be used ASAP. Friends and family often bestow these kinds of gifts upon me because they know I’ll make good use of them. And I’m more than happy to be the recipient! I’ve always known that someday I’d get around to making a Kit Kat Cake. Fate stepped in with the ingredients so, here’s my take on it!

    My version starts with two yellow cake layers. Kit Kats have two crunchy yellow wafers inside each piece, so I felt this was a fitting choice. The sponge gets its yellow color from butter and lots of egg yolks. It’s an easy batter to put together and divides easily between two 8-inch cake pans.

    Two ingredient chocolate frosting.
    If you have a favorite chocolate buttercream made with cocoa powder or another beloved chocolate frosting recipe, it can be used in place of the provided ganache recipe. But this chocolate ganache takes only two ingredients to make: chocolate and heavy cream. And it’s absolutely divine on this cake. Even better? You can make it in the microwave using chocolate chips. Bar chocolate is usually best for ganache. But as long as the chips have actual cocoa butter in the ingredients list, you can use them for this recipe.

    Let the ganache thicken to spreading consistency. This will take some time in the refrigerator with a little babysitting. Which means, you’ll need to check on it and intermittently stir the ganache while gauging its firmness.

    Easy decorating!
    Spread the ganache around the cake’s edges. This doesn’t even require neatness. Because the chocolate is covered by the Kit Kat candy bars, it doesn’t have to be perfect.
    Line up the Kit Kat bars standing upright around the sides of the cake. Break them apart beforehand. Doing so helps them to form better to the round edge of the cake. It also makes for easier cake slicing.

    After frosting the cake’s edges, you’ll have leftover ganache. Microwave the remaining ganache for a few seconds to make it thin and pourable. But try not to get it too hot. It doesn’t take much time to turn spreadable ganache to pourable chocolate in the microwave. Just 20-30 seconds, usually. Ganache is extremely meltable.
    Pour the ganache inside the top of the cake. Spread it around evenly. The chocolate bars create a reservoir to hold the melted ganache. Next, chill the cake in the refrigerator until everything is nice and firm.

    Add a little shine.
    Meanwhile, melt some strawberry jam in the microwave. Add a drop of liquid red food color. This gives the berries a boost of sweetness and makes their hue more intense. If you’re averse to using the food color, leave it out. But don’t skip the glazing altogether! It makes the berries shiny and the cake looks bakery-worthy. I’ve used this technique before on my favorite Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cheesecake. It really makes a dessert look ‘finished’.

    A cake for all occasions.
    The tied-on ribbon is optional, but I love the effect! And the toppings can be endlessly varied. Some people opt for M&M candies inside the top edge of the cake. You could use red and green M&Ms for Christmas. Or pastel colors for Easter. And it would be so easy to coordinate them with seasonal ribbons and bows.
    The strawberries offer a fresh bite that I just love with the chocolate. As pictured, it would make a lovely Valentine’s Day sweet. But it’s also a terrific year-round birthday cake!

    This is not a difficult cake to put together, and I love the architectural look the candy bars give it. I keep thinking of all the occasions I can make it for. Birthdays, holidays, even July Fourth with whipped cream, red and blueberries on top. The options are endless!

    Kit Kat Cake

    Heather Baird

    This chocolatey Kit Kat Cake holds two yellow cake layers filled and covered with chocolate ganache frosting. Rows of Kit Kat bars standing upright around the edge of the cake makes decorating so easy!This makes a wonderful birthday cake as-is, or you give the cake a seasonal twist! Replace the glazed strawberries with M&M candies in seasonal colors (such as pastel for Easter, red and green for Christmas). You’ll need about 12 oz. of M&M candies to fill the top of the cake.

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    Prep Time 35 minsCook Time 25 mins1 hour setting time 1 hrTotal Time 2 hrs

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 8

    Equipment8-inch cake pans (2)Pastry brush1/2” red grosgrain ribbon, optional
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Yellow cake layers3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour1 tablespoon baking powder3/4 teaspoon salt1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature2 cups granulated sugar2 teaspoons vanilla extract6 large egg yolks1 3/4 cups buttermilkGanache frosting and décor2 cups semisweet chocolate chips or bar chocolate finely chopped1 cup heavy cream9 Kit Kat Milk Chocolate Candy Bars 1.5 oz. each15 fresh whole strawberries about 1 lb.1/2 cup prepared strawberry preserves1 drop liquid red food color optional
    Instructions Yellow cakesPreheat the oven to 350°F. Coat two 8-inch cake pans with flour-based baking spray, or grease and flour and set aside.Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and mix on medium-high until the butter is light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.Turn the mixer to medium-low and add the vanilla and egg yolks, one at a time. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix on medium for no more than 30 seconds after the last streaks of the dry ingredients are combined.Evenly divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake for 25-28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Let them cool on a wire rack for 7-10 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans. The cakes will be tender, so remove them with care.When the cakes are completely cool, level the tops with a large serrated knife or cake leveler.Ganache frostingCombine the chocolate and heavy cream in a large microwave-safe bowl. Heat at 100% power in the microwave for 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds. The cream should be hot but not boiling. Allow the mixture to stand for 1 minute, then whisk the mixture together until a shiny, thin ganache forms.Place the ganache in the refrigerator to chill. Stir intermittently over the course of about an hour, until the ganache thickens and comes to spreading consistency. To speed this process, place the ganache in the freezer and stir intermittently over the course of about 30 minutes.AssemblyUnwrap candy bars and have them ready to hand.Place a dot of ganache in the center of a cake plate or cake board. Place a yellow cake layer on top. Fill the cake with about 1/2-inch layer of the ganache; top with the second yellow cake layer. Frost the sides of the cake with the chocolate ganache. Immediately break a candy bar into its individual pieces and line them up around the sides of the cake standing upright. Repeat the process until the entire outside of the cake is covered with the candy bar pieces. Tie the ribbon around the cake, if using.Heat the leftover ganache in the microwave for 20-30 seconds, or just until it turns liquid and pourable. It should not be very hot to the touch. If it is, let it cool slightly before using. Pour the ganache onto the top center of the cake and spread gently with the back of a spoon. Refrigerate the cake until the ganache is set, about 30 minutes.Wash and thoroughly dry the strawberries. Stir the preserves and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds or until loosened. Stir in the food color, if using. Using a pastry brush, coat each strawberry with the preserves and place on the top of the cake, stacking them slightly off center.To serve, slice cake between the Kit Kat bars and add a strawberry or two on top of each slice. Store the cake, covered, in the refrigerator. Bring slices to room temperature before serving for best flavor and texture.
    NotesWhat to expect:
    This cake reminds me of a classic yellow birthday cake with chocolate frosting. The yellow cake is enriched with egg yolks and has a wonderfully buttery flavor. The chocolate ganache frosting is a simple yet rich addition. The glazed strawberries add a nice fresh bite and fruity foil to all that chocolate.
    In my instructions, I frost the sides of the cake with the spreadable ganache, then microwave the leftover ganache for a pourable topping that creates a shiny finish. If you’d like to skip this step, just frost the entire cake with the spreadable ganache. 
    The cake layers can be made a day ahead and refrigerated. If you do this, be sure to bring the cake to room temperature before you begin frosting it with the ganache. Ganache sets quickly on a cold surface, and the Kit Kat bars will not stick to the cold ganache frosting.

    Keyword egg yolks, ganache frosting, glazed strawberries, Kit Kat candy bars, yellow butter cake

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    Chocolate Maraschino Cherry Cake

    Fluffy Swiss meringue buttercream speckled with maraschino cherry chips surrounds three moist dark chocolate cake layers in this Chocolate Maraschino Cherry Cake. It’s a chocolate-covered cherry lover’s dream come true!

    If you haven’t noticed, I’m having a chocolate-cherry moment. I just adore the two flavors. And cooking them up together in my kitchen usually heralds the upcoming sweetheart holiday. It’s hard to believe that Valentine’s Day is approaching so quickly!
    This cake ticks all the boxes for chocolate cake lovers. With a perfect moist texture, deep chocolate flavor, and buttercream that’s not too sweet, it’s easy to enjoy a big slice. For me, cherry chip will always hold a bit of childhood nostalgia. I wanted this cake reflect that, and perhaps preserve those feelings a little. So I chose retro colors and frilly bakery-style borders for décor. I almost added an old school ballerina cake topper to the center. Maybe next time. (Or for my birthday this year.)

    Coffee and chocolate, the power couple.
    Begin this recipe with bar of semisweet baking chocolate and espresso powder dissolved in hot water. The coffee flavor is undetectable in the baked cake. And it enhances the chocolate so wonderfully, I urge you to use it. It adds depth of flavor and intensity to the chocolate. However, if you simply cannot tolerate caffeine, you can use hot water without the espresso powder.
    Stir the chocolate into the espresso while it is still hot. Then whisk it together until the chocolate is completely dissolved.

    Sifting is important!
    Whisk together the dry ingredients in a big bowl. This includes more chocolate in the form of dark cocoa powder. Cocoa powder is notorious for clumping and it’s even prone to ball up with static electricity if stored in plastic. So, sift the cocoa powder for extra insurance.

    Whip the eggs on high speed until they are thick, pale, and foamy just like the picture above. This will take about 3 minutes. Then, the sour cream, oil, vanilla extract, and the cooled liquid chocolate-coffee mixture gets mixed into the eggs. Next, the dry ingredients are mixed in, and the batter is ready.

    Pour the batter into three 9-inch round cake pans. Expect it to be thin and pourable going into the pans. Because this cake has a high liquid ratio, the cakes won’t crown much. Therefore, you may not even need to level them after baking.

    Swiss Meringue Buttercream
    Swiss meringue buttercream has such a silky texture and it’s not quite as sweet as American buttercream. If you’ve never made it before, then you’re in luck! I have a video to share. I made it years ago, but just recycled it into a new video. It shows you the basics of getting this buttercream right. A very young Biscuit pug also makes an appearance – his muzzle is grey now but he’s just as handsome.

    To make the frilly borders on the cake, remove some of the plain white frosting to piping bags fitted with decorator tips. Also tint a bowl of frosting pink, and another green. I’ll be sure to specify amounts, and the makers and numbers of each tip in the recipe.

    A flurry of cherry chips!
    Then, to the remaining frosting, add maraschino cherry juice and cherry chips. The pink color from the maraschino cherry juice will color the frosting and intensify over time. So if it looks too pale at first, just know that it will deepen as it stands.

    Fill and frost the cake with the cherry chip buttercream. Just like the sprinkle frosting on the Oreo cake I made last week, I recommend an offset spatula instead of a cake smoother or bench scraper to apply the frosting. A bench scraper tends to drag the surface chips through the buttercream and make trails and pock marks. The offset spatula gives you a little more control.

    Frilly finishing touches.
    The cake’s design was unplanned, but I knew there should be some kind of bakery-style border on top. Instead of round swirls, I piped ovals.

    Apply a frilly buttercream skirt with two colors of buttercream and two sizes of the same style piping tip.

    At the last minute, I decided to triple up on the top swirls, with a layer of white and pink buttercream on top of the green.

    The cherry on top is – exactly that! Pat them dry on paper towels before garnishing the cake. If there was any question, now there’s no mistaking this is a true Chocolate Maraschino Cherry Cake.

    This is the chocolate cake to make when you want to show off a little. I’ve made and eaten a lot of chocolate cakes and this one – this chocolate sponge recipe – is my favorite of them all. The layers are baked low and slow, at 300°F for about 50 minutes. The batter is very liquid going into the pan, and baking it at a low temp. for a longer time ensures that not all of that moisture escapes as steam. It retains enough to make the cake so soft and moist.

    Chocolate Maraschino Cherry Cake

    Heather Baird

    Fluffy Swiss meringue buttercream speckled with maraschino cherry chips surrounds three moist dark chocolate cake layers in this Chocolate Maraschino Cherry Cake. Be sure to note that this cake bakes at a low temperature, 300°F. You’ll need 3/4 cup of chopped maraschino cherries from about two 6 oz. jars of whole stemless cherries (the jar’s weight includes the liquid inside). You’ll also need 12 more whole cherries with stems for the top of the cake,, which is another 6 oz. jar of cherries (so stock up!).

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    Prep Time 1 hrCook Time 50 mins40 minutes cooling and chilling time 40 minsTotal Time 2 hrs 30 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 12

    Equipment9 inch cake pans (3)Disposable piping bags (4)Jumbo closed star tip Ateco 856 (1)Large closed star tip Ateco 844(1)Small closed star tip Ateco 30 (2)
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Dark chocolate cake layersFlour-based baking spray for the pans1 1/2 cups hot water almost boiling3 tablespoons espresso powder3 oz. semisweet chocolate finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour2 1/2 cups granulated sugar1/2 cup light brown sugar1 1/2 cups unsweet dark cocoa powder sifted2 teaspoons baking soda3/4 teaspoons baking powder1 1/4 teaspoons fine grain salt3 large eggs3/4 cup vegetable oil1 1/2 cups sour cream2 teaspoons vanilla extractMaraschino cherry chip Swiss meringue buttercream8 large egg whites about 1 cup or 8 oz.2 cups granulated sugar3 cups unsalted butter at room temperature1 tablespoon almond extract1/4 teaspoon fine grain saltPink gel food colorPastel green gel food color such as Wilton1/2 cup maraschino cherry juice from the jar3/4 cup chopped maraschino cherries patted dry on paper towels12 whole maraschino cherries with stems patted dry
    Instructions Dark chocolate cake layersPreheat oven to 300°F.Coat three 9-inch round cake pans with the flour-based baking spray. Alternatively, grease and flour the pans.Place the hot water in a large glass measure with a pour spout. Stir in the espresso powder. Add the chopped chocolate and let stand for 2 minutes. Whisk until the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.Sift together the flour, sugars, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl.In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the eggs on high speed until they are pale and thick, about 3 minutes. Add the oil, sour cream, vanilla extract, and the melted chocolate-espresso mixture. Add the flour mixture and mix on medium speed until combined.Divide the batter between the three prepared pans (batter will be thin). Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the middles are slightly puffed and spring back when pressed in their centers. The layers won’t crown much so you shouldn’t have to level the cakes.Let the cakes cool in the pans 5 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely. The cake layers can be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap.Maraschino cherry chip Swiss meringue buttercreamPlace a saucepan filled 1/3 full of water over medium heat. Bring to a simmer.In a large stainless-steel bowl, combine the egg whites and sugar. Set the bowl over the simmering water and cook while whisking intermittently. Cook until the mixture is hot (110°F) and you can no longer feel sugar granules when the mixture is rubbed between your finger and thumb. Transfer the hot mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed for 10 minutes or until a thick, shiny meringue forms that holds stiff peaks. The bowl should feel cool to the touch. If it doesn’t, refrigerate the meringue in the bowl for 10 minutes. Return the bowl to the mixer and swap the whisk attachment for the paddle attachment.Beat the room temperature butter into the meringue one cube at a time on medium-low speed, waiting to add the next cube when the previous cube disappears. The batter will deflate with the butter addition, and may even look curdled (if the butter was the slightest bit cold this happens), but this is normal. When all of the butter is added, beat the mixture on high speed until light in color and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the almond extract and salt.Remove 1 cup of the buttercream to a piping bag fitted with a jumbo closed star tip.Remove 1/3 cup of the white buttercream to piping bag fitted with a small closed star tip.Remove 2/3 cup of the white buttercream to a bowl and tint with a drop of the pink gel food color to create a pastel pink hue. Transfer the buttercream to a piping bag fitted with a small closed star tip.Remove 2/3 cup of the buttercream to a bowl and tint with the pastel green gel food color until a soft but saturated green color is achieved. Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large closed star tip. Set the piping bags aside as you prepare the remaining frosting.Return the bowl to the standing mixer fitted with the whip attachment and beat in 1/4 cup of the maraschino cherry juice. This will take a few minutes to incorporate, as the liquid will be a little resistant to the butter in the frosting. When the liquid is incorporated, add the second 1/4 cup and mix well. Fold in the cherry chips using a large rubber spatula.AssemblyPlace a chocolate cake layer on your choice of serving plate, cake board, or cake stand. Fill with a 1/4” thickness of the cherry chip buttercream; top with a second cake layer. Fill with another 1/4” layer of buttercream. Place the final cake layer on top and cover the entire cake with the cherry chip buttercream. Use an offset spatula to evenly smooth the frosting. Chill the cake until the buttercream is firm, about 15 minutes. The frosting color will intensify slightly as it chills.When the buttercream is firm, use the green buttercream with the large closed star tip to pipe 12 ovals on the top edge of the cake. Top the green ovals with ovals of white buttercream using the white bag of buttercream fitted with the small closed star tip. Top the white buttercream with ovals of pink buttercream. Place a cherry with a stem in the center of each triple stacked oval.Using the bag of white buttercream fitted with the jumbo closed star tip, pipe a shell border around the bottom edge of the cake. Just above the large white shell border, use the pink buttercream to pipe a smaller shell border.Cake will keep at room temperature for 3 days, or store it in the refrigerator for longevity. It will keep about 6 days in the refrigerator if well covered. Bring slices to room temperature before serving for the best flavor.
    NotesWhat to expect:
    This is a supremely moist chocolate cake. The layers are tender and the flavor is dark, with hints of Oreo cookie  due to the dark cocoa powder. The cherry chip frosting is silky and not too sweet. Almond extract boosts the maraschino cherry flavor in the frosting.
    3/4 cup of cherry chips is about 5 oz. total weight. You’ll need two 6 oz. jars of stemless maraschino cherries for this because the jar’s weight includes the liquid. I used an electric mini chopper to process the cherries into fine chips. You could do the same or use a large food processor, or simply chop them by hand. Be sure to drain the cherries well before you chop them into chips.

    Keyword dark chocolate cake layers, dark cocoa powder, instant espresso powder, maraschino cherries, maraschino cherry chip Swiss meringue buttercream, semisweet chocolate

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    Oreo Cake

    The flavors of Cookies and Cream never tasted better than in a big slice of this Oreo Cake. Layers of white sour cream cake hold chunks of Oreo cookies. It’s wrapped in creamy white buttercream speckled with real chocolate sprinkles.

    Yet another cake I’ve been dreaming of making for too long, is an Oreo Cake. I’ve seen a lot of different versions online, and I’ve been eager to put my own spin on it. But each time I started, I’d get side tracked with a different Oreo cookie inspiration (Cookies and Cream Cheesecake, anyone? Or how about Oreo Peanut Butter Pie Cups?). Finally, I sat down and hashed out a formula for three fluffy white-sour cream cake layers loaded with Oreo cookie chunks. After some testing, I had a great base on which to build a truly delicious Cookies and Cream cake recipe.

    Cookies ‘n (sour) cream cake batter.
    First, separate the Oreo cookies and their cream centers. In my (very specific) Oreo Cake research, I found that many bakers who left the cream centers in had problems. Some had sticking and tunneling occur when the cream centers melted under the heat. I’m not looking to have big gaping holes in my cakes. So, just leave them out. It does not compromise the Oreo flavor at all.
    The batter whips up pale and fluffy, which is the perfect color and texture to show off those dark cookie pieces. Instead of folding the cookie pieces into the batter, sprinkle them over the batter in the 8-inch cake pans and lightly tamp them in with an offset spatula.

    The cookie pieces will sink down even more as the cakes bake. When you take them out of the oven, the tops will be a little uneven due to the cake puffing around the cookie pieces. Lay a paper towel on top of the warm cake in the pan. Then lightly press the top flat. Don’t over do this – you’re not trying to compress the cake crumb, just knock down some of the high spots. And be careful not to get burned. Steam will be expelled as you press, so use a light touch.

    Chocolate sprinkle buttercream.
    This recipe uses American buttercream, which is the simple combination of butter, confectioners’ sugar, and milk or cream. For this recipe, don’t use grass-fed cow butter. It’s usually more expensive and more yellow in color. Just go for the grade A grocery store brand that is pale in color. As a result, and with lots of whipping, your buttercream will turn white, just like Oreo cream filling. This removes the need for any kind of artificial whitener in the frosting.
    Instead of the usual Oreo cookie crumbs, add real chocolate sprinkles to the buttercream. Not the waxy fake kind. Instead, purchase real chocolate sprinkles such as an imported Dutch brand. (Dark chocolate “vermicelli” is also great!) They’ll make a huge difference in the flavor!

    Stack up those cookies ‘n (sour) cream cake layers with the buttercream. Smooth the frosting all over the cake evenly. I recommend using a large offset spatula to smooth on the frosting. A bench scraper just seems to drag the sprinkles through the frosting leaving trail marks. A spatula is more precise and effective at smoothing on sprinkle-y frosting.

    Use a large open star tip to pipe swirls of buttercream on top. This allows the chocolate sprinkles to easily flow through the tube. If you used a closed star tip, the sprinkles would clog the tube.

    The final touches are simple. Apply a ganache drip after the swirls are piped on, so that it flows around them. Then, lean whole Oreo cookies on the swirls at an angle.

    The cookies soften to a cake-like consistency in the baked layers. It’s such a nice texture, and the Oreo flavor really comes through. There’s no mistaking that this is a true Cookies and Cream layer cake!

    Oreo Cake

    Heather Baird

    Layers of sour cream cake hold chunks of Oreo Cookies throughout. The layers are stacked and frosted with chocolate sprinkle buttercream, and topped with rich chocolate ganache.

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    Prep Time 30 minsCook Time 30 mins40 minutes chill time 40 minsTotal Time 1 hr 40 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 12

    Equipment8 inch cake pans, 3Large open star piping tip (French pastry tube)Piping bagLarge offset spatula
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Oreo cake layers1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature1 1/2 cups granulated sugar3 cups all-purpose flour1/2 teaspoon baking soda1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder1/2 teaspoon fine grain salt5 egg whites2 teaspoons vanilla extract3/4 cup sour cream at room temperature2/3 cup whole milk at room temperature15 whole Oreo cookies cream centers removedChocolate sprinkles buttercream1 1/2 cups unsalted butter6 cups confectioners’ sugar2 teaspoons vanilla extractMilk or cream to thin2/3 cup real chocolate sprinkles such as DeRuijterChocolate ganache topping and decor1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips1/4 cup heavy cream6 whole Oreo cookies
    Instructions Oreo cake layersPreheat the oven to 350F.In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the butter until creamy. Sprinkle in the granulated sugar gradually as you mix. Beat until light and fluffy.In a separate large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.In a 4-cup measure or batter bowl with a pour spout, whisk together the egg whites, vanilla, sour cream, and milk.Switch the mixer beater to the paddle attachment Beat 1/3 of the dry ingredients into the creamed butter mixture until just incorporated. Add in half of the liquid mixture; beat until combined. Continue adding 1/3 flour mixture followed by the remaining liquid; end with the flour mixture. Beat until the mixture is lightened in color and fluffy, about 2 minutes.Coat three 8-inch cake pans with flour-based baking spray. Alternatively, grease and flour the pans. Coarsely crush the Oreo cookie shells under your fingers in a large bowl.Divide the cake batter between the prepared pans. Sprinkle each pan with 1/3 of the cookies; lightly tamp the cookies into the batter using the tip of an offset spatula. Smooth the top of the batter with the flat edge of the offset spatula.Bake the cakes for 25-30 minutes, or until the cakes spring back when pressed in the centers. Remove the cakes from the oven. If the tops are lumpy and uneven due to the cake batter puffing around the cookie pieces, flatten gently using a paper towel (see blog post for visual). Do this gently and carefully as steam will escape as you press.Remove cakes to a wire rack to cool completely.ButtercreamBeat the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Whip until creamy. Add the confectioners’ sugar. Beat until combined. Add vanilla extract; mix well. Beat on medium speed adding milk or cream 1 tablespoon at a time, until the mixture thins to piping consistency. Beat on high speed until the frosting turns almost white in color, about 4 minutes with a timer set. Scrape down the bowl. Beat again on high speed. Fold in the chocolate sprinkles. Remove 2/3 cup of frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large open star tip (also called French pastry tube).Fill two of the cooled cake layers with about 1/2 cup of the buttercream on each layer. Spread evenly. Stack them and then place the remaining cake layer on top. Generously cover the cake with the remaining buttercream using an offset spatula. Refrigerate the cake until the frosting firms, about 25 minutes. If the buttercream has trails or pull marks throughout from the sprinkles, warm a large offset spatula in a glass of water, wipe dry, then smooth the frosting with the warm spatula. This will remove most any blemish on the cake’s exterior.Using the reserved piping bag of frosting, pipe six large swirls on the top edge of the cake, well-spaced. Refrigerate the cake while you make the ganache.GanacheIn a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips and heavy cream. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Allow the hot mixture to stand for 2 minutes, then whisk together until a smooth, shiny ganache forms. Let cool slightly. The mixture should still be quite liquid and not at all thick before applying to the cake.Spoon the ganache conservatively at the edges of the cake, and around the frosting swirls, to control the amount of drip you desire. Then, pour or spoon more of the ganache onto the top center of the cake, so that it covers the entire center. Immediately lean whole Oreo cookies at an angle against each frosting swirl.Refrigerate cake to set. Store the cake at room temperature in an airtight container.
    NotesWhat to expect: Moist cake layers with a light sour cream tang and Oreo cookie flavor. White cakes are notorious for drying out quickly, so be sure to keep this cake covered. I placed three big slices in a cardboard window bakery box and stored them at room temperature for two days, and they’ve kept surprisingly well. The Oreo chunks remain soft and cake-like.
    Butter. In the blog post I mention using grade A grocery store butter (Such as Kroger, Publix, etc.). These butter varieties are usually made from corn-fed cows. The butter will be pale yellow, which is desirable in this recipe for white buttercream. The butter will not say ‘made from milk from corn-fed cows’ so this may seem confusing. Just avoid any butter that boasts ‘grass-fed’ on the label because it will be more yellow in color.

    Keyword chocolate sprinkles, oreo cookies, sour cream cake layers, white buttercream, white chocolate ganache

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    Pan de Jamón

    This lovely loaf encases coils of ham punctuated with salty olives and sweet raisins. Somewhere between sweet and savory, this Pan de Jamón can be enjoyed as a meal in its own right. 4 cups (500 grams) all-purpose flour, divided ¼ cup (50 grams) granulated sugar 2¼ teaspoons (7 grams) instant yeast 1½ teaspoons (4.5 […] LEGGI TUTTO

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    Some  recipes today swap out the original lard for butter to keep things flavorful and layered, yet vegetarian friendly. Resembling the large swirled original, our  look like sugar-snow-covered wonders. ⅔ cup (160 grams) warm water (105°F/41°C to 110°F/43°C) 1 cup (200 grams) plus 1 teaspoon (4 grams) granulated sugar, divided 4½ teaspoons (14 grams) active dry yeast […] LEGGI TUTTO

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    Nerds Candy Cake

    This Nerds Candy Cake will bring fun and lots of fruit flavor to your next happy celebration. A crunchy candy exterior holds a rainbow of tropical-tasting cake layers inside.

    I’ve had the idea for this candy cake for such a long time, I can’t believe it’s finally a reality. Nerds candy is a favorite of mine. And I’ve even been known to add more than a sprinkle to my frozen yogurt. The last couple of days we’ve had snowy weather here. So I used those icy cold days to stay warm near the oven, baking up a rainbow of fruity cake layers.

    The best batter for the job.
    First, whip up a big batch of my trusty white wedding cake batter (originally posted to this blog 9 years ago!). I just adore this white cake recipe, because you don’t have to whip egg whites to stiff peaks in a separate bowl. Which – if you’re an avid baker you know – is the usual affair for most white cakes (like this one). This pale batter takes on color beautifully, and it has a sturdy crumb without being dry. I’ve scaled the recipe to perfectly fit in five 6-inch round cake pans.

    Taste the (neon) rainbow!
    I flavored the layers with a dram bottle of LorAnn Tropical Punch flavoring oil. The cake will have fruity flavor to match its candy exterior. And for the eye-popping food colors, I used the brightest I had on hand. Which turned out to be neon pink, neon orange, and neon yellow. Leaf green and regal purple were the only non-neon colors I used.
    Next, whip up a big batch of American buttercream flavored with orange extract. Orange works well with the tropical fruit flavor in the layers. And the entire cake will make your kitchen smell like fruit punch! Stack the layers with the frosting in rainbow fashion, starting with purple and working upwards to pink.

    A sticky situation.
    After the cake is entirely frosted and thoroughly chilled, spray it with a mixture of corn syrup and water. Or you can use cake decorator’s glucose syrup. It’s just a light mist that really holds on to the candy and gives an extra ounce of adherence. Chill the cake for about 10 minutes more to allow the spray to become sticky.

    Candy Crush.
    Pour out a boatload of Nerds candy on a large baking sheet. (You can find them in bulk here.) Then roll the cake in the candy. Shake the pan between rolling to fill in the bare spots on the pan, and re-roll repeatedly. Use one hand on the bottom cake board and the other on top of the cake to pick it up and roll. The frosting will melt quickly at body temperature, so expect some smudges on top. But don’t worry – this will be totally covered up with frosting swirls.

    Add big swirls of buttercream on top of the cake, then immediately sprinkle with more candy. American buttercream sets quickly, so be swift with your sprinkling.

    Make a fun edible cake topper!
    I’d always imagined my Nerds Candy Cake wearing a funny, nerdy, propeller beanie. So, the question remained for a long time – what should it be made of? Turns out, chocolate was the answer. Partly. I used my large half sphere mold to form the base of the chocolate beanie. If you have a hot cocoa bomb mold, that will work perfectly.
    Heat the pointed end of a metal cocktail pick with a chef’s torch or hold it to the eye of the stove for a few seconds. Then, melt a hole in the top center of the dome with it. Spray the dome with the same solution used to adhere the candy to the cake, then cover the dome in fondant. Make a little hole in the top of the fondant with a toothpick.

    A few brushstrokes.
    Apply some edible paint (vodka + gel food color) to the dome and dab with a textured paper towel to create a fabric appearance. I applied pink, orange, and yellow in thirds, which made a really cute beanie! The beads on top that hold the propeller are from a beaded toothpick (found here) inserted through the center.

    Prop the beanie to the side of the cake on a large skewer, then thread the toothpick through the top hole. There will be just enough room on top of the toothpick to place a propeller. I had made one out of green gum paste, but it did not spin easily. Instead of over-thinking it, I made one with green card stock – and it spins!
    What a fun cake this is to make! It’s so colorful and bursting with bright fruity flavor. I think it would make an excellent birthday cake for kids, or you know. For big kids like me (wink).

    These are some seriously (bright!) tasty layers, and one slice is a generous serving. We divvied slices up by cutting a single tall piece through the center at the yellow layer. Which, let’s be honest, is a more reasonable portion size. The cake flavors reflect the fruity taste of the candy perfectly.
    I’m so happy to see this cake come to life. It’s a bit of an effort, but so fun and special-occasion worthy. I think it would look just about perfect with birthday candles on top.

    Nerds Candy Cake

    Heather Baird

    A slice of this Nerds Candy Cake is like happiness on a plate. It will bring fun and lots of fruit flavor to your next birthday party or holiday. A crunchy candy exterior holds a rainbow of tropical-tasting cake layers inside.Use purchased cake flour which contains 7% protein for this recipe. Homemade cake flour made with cornstarch just doesn’t work as well. Cornstarch cannot cut the protein in all-purpose flour like a flour mill can, so for best results use a brand such as Swan’s Down or King Arthur Cake Flour.

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    Prep Time 1 hrCook Time 30 mins2 hours setting/drying time 2 hrsTotal Time 3 hrs 30 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 16

    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Rainbow Cake LayersOrange Buttercream2 cups unsalted butter at room temperature8 cups confectioners’ sugar 2 lb. bagMilk or cream to thin2 tablespoons orange extract
    Instructions Cake layersPreheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat the cake pans with flour based baking spray.Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Whisk together egg whites and milk in a separate bowl; set aside.Beat the butter using the paddle attachment until soft and creamy. Add sugar gradually and beat until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Beat in tropical punch flavoring oil.Add flour mixture alternately with the egg white/milk mixture. Begin and end with flour mixture and beat until smooth on medium-low speed after each addition.Divide batter between five bowls, about 1 2/3 level cups per bowl. Tint each bowl with the food color so that you have a bowl of bright pink, orange, yellow, green, and purple. Add food color a little at a time until a brilliant color is achieved. Pour the batters into the prepared pans.Bake the cakes at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Let cool slightly in pan, then turn out and cool completely on a wire rack. Level the tops of the cakes using a serrated knife or cake leveler.Orange buttercreamCombine the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Beat on low speed until just combined. Add a little milk or cream and increase mixer speed. Add milk or cream a tablespoon at a time until it comes to spreading consistency. Beat in orange extract. Whip on high speed until the buttercream is white and fluffy.Remove 1 1/4 cups of the buttercream to a piping bat fitted with a large closed star tip. Set aside for later use.Place the purple cake layer on a cake board and top it with 1/3 cup of the buttercream. Continue to stack the cake layers and frosting in this order, purple, green, yellow, orange, pink. Frost the entire cake evenly with the buttercream. Use a bench scraper or cake smoother to achieve an even coat. Refrigerate the cake until the buttercream is firm, about 1 hour.DecoratePlace the corn syrup and water in a small kitchen-dedicated spray bottle; shake the bottle well to incorporate. Lightly mist the cake’s sides with the mixture and refrigerate 10 minutes.Pour the Nerds candy onto a large baking sheet. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and roll the cake’s sides in the candy. Place one hand on the bottom cake board and the other on the top of the frosted cake and quickly roll, picking up the cake this way to re-roll. Shake the pan to redistribute the candy across the pan and roll again. Allow the weight of the cake to naturally pick up the candy. The cake should be mostly covered with the candy when you turn it upright. If you see bare spots, pat Nerds candy onto the areas with your hands.Use the reserved bag of frosting to pipe tall swirls of buttercream on top of the entire cake; immediately sprinkle with more candy (about 2 tablespoons).Edible propeller beanieUsing an art brush, coat one of the half sphere cavities with the melted chocolate; freeze for 5 minutes. Re-coat the cavity with more chocolate to make it sturdy; freeze again until solid. Turn the half sphere out onto a work surface. Heat a metal cocktail pick on with a chef’s torch (or on the stove eye) for a few seconds, then use it to melt a hole in the top center of the chocolate dome. Lightly mist the dome with the corn syrup spray; let set 1 minute.Roll out the kneaded fondant to 1/4-inch thickness and drape over the dome. Smooth evenly to fit around the semicircle, then use a small knife to cut round the bottom edge. Use a toothpick to poke a hole in the top center of the dome where the chocolate was pierced.Place a little of each pink, orange, and yellow gel food colors in small condiment cups. Add drops of vodka to thin. Using a paint brush, paint 1/3 of the beanie with the pink gel food color (see images for design). Pat with the textured paper towel. Repeat the process using the orange and yellow food colors. Let stand until dry, about 25 minutes.Meanwhile, cut a small 3-inch propeller using scissors from a piece of green craft paper. Punch a hole in the center using a metal cocktail pick or an X-Acto knife.Press the bamboo skewer slightly off center in the top of the cake with the blunt side exposed. Gently balance the beanie on top of the skewer. Place a beaded toothpick in the top center hole of the beanie, so that the bead sits on top of the hat. Thread the propeller on top and give it a test spin. If the hole isn’t big enough for it to spin, widen it slightly.Store cake in the refrigerator for longevity. Bring it to room temperature before serving.
    NotesThe long bamboo skewer used to hold the beanie on top of the cake will also serve as a support for the tall stack of cake layers. 
    One slice of cake is a generous portion. Consider cutting one slice at the center yellow layer to create two pieces of cake from just one slice. 

    Keyword cake flour, egg whites, Nerds candy, orange buttercream, rainbow cake layers, whole milk

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