Jul 18, 2012

The Best Chocolate Cake: Ice-Cream Sundae Cake part 2

I came across a fabulous, perfect, amazing dark chocolate cake recipe to use for my Ice-Cream Sundae Cake creation.

The cake was very soft, moist, dark and it had a great chocolate flavor.

I covered the cake with a thin layer of chocolate frosting, filled it with a thick slab of Snickers Ice-cream, covered the cake in a Vanilla frosting, and decorated the outside with the Chocolate fudge syrup. Topped it with chopped peanuts, tree scoops of Ice-ceam, Maraschino cherries and small sprinkles. It turned out pretty cute and was very delicious.

It came from here: My Baking Addiction

The Best Chocolate Cake

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes


2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons King Arthur Flour Black Cocoa, optional
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup strong black coffee (I used Green Mountain Coffee’s Vermont Country Blend)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract


1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans or one 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa(s), baking soda, baking powder. Mix on low until dry ingredients are thoroughly combined. Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for about two minutes; the batter will be thin. Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes for round pans, 35 to 40 minutes for rectangular pan or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
4. Frost as desired. I used a simple and delicious Chocolate Buttercream Frosting from Savory Sweet Life. One batch was perfect for this layered chocolate cake.


- The Black Cocoa from King Arthur Flour is optional - it simply provides a great depth of flavor and color to the chocolate cake.
- This cake also pairs beautifully with a simple chocolate ganache.

Jul 16, 2012

Ice-Cream Sundae Birthday Cake - Fudge Syrup part 1

Chocolatey Fudge Syrup

July 17th. Marks an another birthday within the family, however, it is one that rarely ever gets celebrated. It's my dad's. I think he turns 52 (or is it 54?)...I really don't keep track of that and since I haven't lived with him for nearly all my life, nor even in the same country. The day usually goes over looked, minus an celebratory email.

well, I love celebrating birthdays! Just so happens that I am visiting him AND I may have had a spark of inspiration ignite after eavesdropping on him mentioning that his favorite kind of cake are the ice cream cakes and his favorite kind of ice cream is the traditional Ice-cream sundae.

Letting the creation begin: A mutation of the two: an "Ice-Cream Sundae Cake". It proved a little bit difficult to find any ideas on the internet but, then again, what's better than improvising.?

I've just whipped up some chocolate fudge syrup. It has perfect thick consistency, beautiful dark & smooth. Only thing is that it taste like pure Hersey's flavor. For most this is ideal, though, I would have preferred a more subtle chocolate taste to the intense Hersey taste.

I believe the 5 cup serving size is an understatement...well maybe I have about 5 cups...if not 6 or 7 cups...Ouufph! There is a lot.

The recipe come Here: Daisys World

Homemade Chocolate Syrup Yields 5 cups

1 1/2 cups water
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups Dutch-processed cocoa powder (natural cocoa works just fine)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Bring water and sugar to a boil in a small pot. Add cocoa powder, vanilla extract, salt, and corn syrup and whisk until cocoa powder is dissolved. Reduce the sauce until slightly thickened. Strain and cool to room temperature. Pour into squeeze bottles.
Adapted from a recipe from Alton Brown.

May 25, 2012

Banana Cake with Caramel & Cream Cheese

The combination of caramel sauce, toasted walnut banana bread and a soft cream cheese frosting is quite a sweet smack in the mouth.

The symbol of a good American cake is one of a sweet banana cake and for a good friend's birthday I made him a Parfait version.

I chopped up the bread, and layered it with caramel sauce and frosting in two wine glasses because I knew he'd only make it through a few bites before falling into a sugar comma. The Spanish don't do sweet. I've lived here long enough that even my palate can't deal with to much sweet either.

The banana cake alone was fantastic and filled the kitchen with an amazing smell.

The recipe I adapted from White on Rice Couple.

Banana cake ingredients

  • 2 c (220g) chopped Pecans
  • 3 c (410g) Cake Flour
  • 1 T (15 g) Baking Powder
  • 1 1/2 t (8g) Sea Salt
  • 1 c (227 g or 2 sticks) unsalted Butter, room temp but not too warm
  • 3 c (600g) Sugar
  • 4 Egg Yolks
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 1/2 c (120ml) Canola Oil
  • 8 ripe Bananas (approx. 4 c smashed)
  • + 3 additional Bananas for final assembly, sliced length-wise
  • + 3 T unsalted Butter for cooking bananas for final assembly

butterscotch sauce ingredients

  • 4 T (60 g) unsalted Butter
  • 1 c (200 g) Golden Brown Sugar, tightly packed
  • 1/2 c (120 ml) Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 t (5 ml) Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/2 T (22 ml) Scotch
  • Sea Salt to taste (@ 1 t (5 g))

cream cheese frosting ingredients

  • 1/2 c (115 g) unsalted Butter, room temp.
  • 2  - 8oz pkgs  (455g total) Cream Cheese, room temp.
  • 1 t (5 ml) Vanilla Extract
  • 4 c (455 g) Confectioners Sugar
  • few dashes Orange Bitters (optional)


banana cake directions

Preheat oven to 350º F. If you have a baking stone, place that in the center rack to bake on. Butter two 8" cake pans, line bottoms with parchment paper, butter parchment, then dust with flour and tap out excess.
  1. Spread pecans in a sheet pan and bake in oven for 10 minutes or until gently toasted. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
  2. In a mixer, combine cake flour, baking powder, and sea salt and mix on low for 30 seconds. Set aside. Do not clean bowl.
  3. In mixer, beat butter on medium speed until light and fluffy - at least 4 minutes *see note 1. Add in sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  4. On low speed, beat in egg yolks and whole eggs one at a time until just blended. On low speed, beat in canola oil.
  5. On the lowest speed, stir in flour mix until just blended.
  6. Mash bananas well, then mix bananas and pecans into batter.
  7. Divide batter between the two 8" pans, place on a sheet pan and put in the oven, or if using a baking stone , slide directly onto the baking stone in the oven.
  8. Bake for 45 minutes - 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of each of the pans. The kitchen will noticeably smell of the banana cake as it nears completion. Set aside to cool completely before frosting.

butterscotch sauce directions

  1. In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter over low-medium heat. Just before butter is completely melted, add the brown sugar, stirring to completely moisten the sugar.
  2. Gently cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture caramelizes and transforms from its initial graininess to a smooth “molten lava”.  Make sure to get the corners of the pot and watch closely because the texture will change quickly, 3-5 min.
  3. Whisk in all of the cream at once, lower the heat a little, and continue whisking until the the liquid is homogenous. Turn heat back up to medium and cook for another 7 minutes, whisking every few minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat and let cool for 15 minutes. Add half of vanilla extract, Scotch, and sea salt, then taste for flavor.  Add more of each until the flavor is perfect to your palate. Pour into a sealable container and allow to cool fully. Store covered and refrigerated for up to a month.

cream cheese frosting directions

  1. In a mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add cream cheese and beat until light and fluffy.
  2. Stir in confectioners sugar, vanilla extract, and bitters then slowly increase speed and beat until incorporated. Set aside until ready to frost cake.

banana cake assembly

  1. In a large skillet heat additional 3 T of butter over medium heat. Add sliced bananas and cook until slices start to brown, 1-2 minutes. Carefully turn over bananas and cook other side until browned, 1-2 minutes.
  2. If butterscotch has thickened too much to pour, gently heat until it becomes pourable. Set aside.
  3. Remove banana cakes from pans, peel off parchment, and trim the tops with a serrated knife to give them flat top surface.
  4. Put a dab of frosting in the middle of a cake circle or plate (the frosting helps keep the cake from sliding around). Place the first cake layer on a cake circle or plate. Line several strips of wax paper around base of cake to help keep circle or plate clean.
  5. Put about 3/4 cup of frosting in the middle of the cake and spread the frosting working from the center out, leaving a slight built up edge on the outer rim. When finished, you should have nice thin layer of frosting over most of the top surface of the cake, with a 1/2" little wall on the outer rim that will help hold in the butterscotch.
  6. Arrange browned banana slices on bottom layer of cake, keeping within the frosting rim. Pour butterscotch over banana slices (you'll only use about half of the butterscotch).
  7. Take second cake and frost a thin layer  on the cut top to seal crumb and keep butterscotch from soaking into cake. Carefully turn over cake and set on top of bananas, frosted side down.
  8. Spread frosting over entire cake, swirling to completely cover. Remove strips of wax paper at base of cakes. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving if possible.
* Note 1: The ideal temperature for butter to be creamed is 65 degrees. When creaming butter, you don't want it to get too warm. If the butter actually melts during creaming (the beating generates heat) it can result in a very heavy cake. The bowl should always feel slightly cool to the touch. If it starts to feel warm. Pause the mixing, put bowl in an ice bath or freezer for 5 minutes, then resume.

May 18, 2012

Spiced Bolognese Sauce

Bolognese sauce always gives me the perfect excuse to drink some great Spanish red wine.

Very simple and soothing. Lightly spiced.

Bolognese Sause

1 Onion, diced
1/2 zucchini, diced
1 large carrot, diced
3 Garlic heads, diced
6 large mushrooms, chopped
1 Tbp Butter
.5 kilo Ground beef
Red Wine
3-5 steamed and Skinned Pear Tomatoes
1 large Can tomato puree
1/2 cup Fried tomato puree

Spices - Cinnamon, Cloves, and Cumin & a Laurel Leaf

Cooked Spaghetti

Brown the ground beef and add a few tablespoons of red wine. Remove from the skillet after about 10minutes and in the same pan, stir fry the onion in  some olive oil, add in 1 tablespoon f butter, the zucchini, carrot, and garlic and continue to cook for roughly 10 minutes.
Season with some salt, pepper, a few dashes of cinnamon, cloves and cumin, and a laurel leaf. Stir in the chopped Mushrooms.

Add in the ground beef and continue to cook. Pour in a few more tablespoons of red Wine. Pour in the tomato purees and the steamed tomatoes. Simmer for 30minutes.

Serve over the Spaghetti.

May 17, 2012

Soft Salted Carameles

Salted Caramel

I love caramel. I could eat it all the time. But, it's one of those candies that scares to me to prepare! I always worry that I'll under cook the sugar or over cook the sugar.

This year I tried the caramel recipe from Inspired Taste Who posted great step by step pictures. Which eased my angst quite a bit. They got it from David Lebovitz originally.

It turned out perfect!

Salted Caramel 
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hours, 20 minutes
Yield: 35 caramel candies
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon course sea salt
  1. Line 9x5-inch loaf pan with foil; spray foil with cooking spray.
  2. In 1-quart saucepan, heat whipping cream, vanilla, kosher salt and 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat until mixture just begins to simmer. Remove from heat; cover with lid. Set aside.
  3. In 2-quart heavy saucepan, mix sugar and corn syrup; add candy thermometer. Cook over medium heat, stirring gently, until sugar is dissolved. If granules of sugar become stuck to sides of saucepan, use wet pastry brush to brush granules down towards syrup. Cook syrup, without stirring, until thermometer reads 310°F. If hot spots or darker areas occur while cooking, gently roll saucepan around to evenly disperse syrup.
  4. Remove saucepan from heat. Slowly pour cream mixture into syrup. Syrup will bubble violently so be careful to add cream slowly to ensure syrup does not bubble over edge of saucepan. Stir until smooth.
  5. Return saucepan to medium heat. Cook caramel until thermometer reads 260°F.
  6. Remove saucepan from heat; remove thermometer. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons butter until caramel is smooth.
  7. Pour caramel into loaf pan. Cool 8 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle coarse sea salt evenly over top. Cool completely in pan on cooling rack.
  8. When caramel is cool, remove from pan by lifting foil. Peel foil from caramel. Using sharp long knife, cut into 35 to 40 squares. Wrap each caramel individually with waxed paper or cellophane.

A few months of Baking and Fondant

I moved house! Literally.

This last January Ihave been going throough quite a number of personal changes and I've been baking much less.

At some point, I prepared a traditional Apple pie, Gingerbread Men truffles and this Curry Couscous ;)

Back in March for a combined birthday celebration of my own and a friends - I made us a Carrot cake, Banana cake and a Chocolate-Peanut Mousse cake. No recipes this time. Although, I did make these Bananas and Carrot out of Fondant.

Dec 25, 2011

Christmas Baking Day two: Pistachio-Macadamia Nut-Cherry Bark

Day two of the "cookie" baking . O.K. so this doesn't really count as a cookie, but I really wanted some chocolate in  my stash!

Adapted version from: Delish

Pistachio-Macadamia Nut-Cherry Bark 

  • 1 pound(s) semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 8 ounce(s) white chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 12 ounce(s) pistachio nuts, shells removed (1 1/2 cups), toasted
  • 8 ounce(s) (1 1/2 cups) dried tart cherries
  1. Place semisweet chocolate in microwave-safe 8-cup measuring cup or large bowl. Place white chocolate in microwave-safe 2-cup measuring cup or medium bowl. Heat semisweet chocolate in microwave, covered with waxed paper, on High 2 to 3 minutes or until almost melted, stirring once. Remove from microwave and stir until smooth. Heat white chocolate in microwave, covered with waxed paper, on High 1 to 2 minutes or until almost melted, stirring once. Remove from microwave and stir until smooth.
  2. Stir 1 cup pistachios and 1 cup cherries into semisweet chocolate. On large cookie sheet, spread chocolate mixture to about 1/4-inch thickness. Spoon dollops of white chocolate onto semisweet-chocolate mixture. With tip of knife, swirl chocolates together for marbled look. Sprinkle with remaining pistachios and cherries.
  3. Refrigerate bark 1 hour or until firm. Break bark into pieces. Store in tightly sealed container in refrigerator up to 1 month. Pack in decorative boxes lined with waxed tissue paper or colored cellophane for gift giving.

Christmas cookie baking Day one: Gingerbread Men

Another year and here we are again whipping up some gingerbread men. This is one of my favorite cookies!

So far I've stuff with a recipe I pulled off of Allrecipes years ago. "Eileen's Spicy Gingerbread Men". The flavor is great and the cookie holds its shape.

From last years post: Gingerbread Men 2010 

This year, I used the same recipe becuase it is just soo good, however, I didn't decorated the men. I got soo tired out on the sugar cookie decorating and the other cookie. :p They still taste amazing with out the sugar coating!

Dec 15, 2011

12 Days of Christmas Cookie baking - preview

Ooof, I'm late, I'm late! I should of had these cookies posted a few days ago! Although my twelve days of Christmas cookie baking is almost over,thank goodness. I've just no time to sit down and post them yet. >-<

Twelve days of Christmas cookie delight 

1. Gingerbread Men
2. Pistachio-Macadamia Nut-Cherry Bark
3. Decorated Sugar cookies
4. Salted Caramel
5. Limoncello Cookies
6. Coconut-Vanilla Macarons 
7. Espresso-Ginger mini cake
8. Dulce de leche-Nutella Thumprint cookies
9. Chocolate  Crinkles
10. Candy Coal for those naughty kids 
11. Pistachio-Baileys Fudge
12. Caramel-coconut & Mint Truffles

Pant*Pant* Ooffph! Quite the baking couple of weeks. Soon I'll post the recipes and pictures of everything :/ Tomorrow the only thing left to do is decorate the cut out cookies! Yippiie!

Nov 29, 2011

Lemon Meringue Tart with Coconut Frangipane

Lemon Meringue w/ coconut frangipane
I have no excuse, I hang my head in shame. I love baking, & more so when what I try to make actually turns out tasting good and looking nice. ^-^

But, I should have been studying. I'll hit the books right after this post. It's just, I couldn't help myself today. Sitting at home, thinking about pastries like usual. Subconsciously aware of the egg and lemon in the fridge and the sugar and flour sitting lonely by themselves in the cupboard. Before I knew it the mixing bowls were out on the counter and a play list of songs from YouTube floating around above.

A few days ago, the Daring Bakers group all posted their attempts at a specific cake and I got the opportunity to not only learn about a new dessert and how to make it (though, I think I made a mistake with the meringue in that recipe..) but I also became aware of some other bakers out there who's blogs I had never seen before and WOW! So much amazing talent.

A new favorite place of mine to visit now is "Candied". I'm not sure who they are but the page is full of amazing, inspiring pastry photography.
My list of things to bake has just grown 10x after scrolling through their pastry log. I wish I knew how to photograph and bake so beautifully! Well with practice!

With the ingredients lined out and the oven preheating, I got started on making the Lemon Meringue Tart from the blog Candied.

I've already eaten some too =D It was Perfect.

Lemon Meringue with Coconut frangipane
Lemon Meringue Tart with Coconut Frangipane by Candied

 Tart dough

  300gr                                                                         flour
  150gr                                                                         butter, cold
  100gr                                                                         powdered sugar
  1                                                                               egg
  as prefered                                                                lemon zest and vanilla powder

  Lemon pastry cream
  300gr                                                                         milk
  150gr                                                                         heavy cream
  50gr                                                                           lemon juice
  100gr                                                                         granulated sugar
  1                                                                               egg
  3                                                                               egg yolks
  50gr                                                                           corn flour
  as preferred                                                               lemon zest and vanilla bean

  Coconut frangipane
  80gr                                                                           butter, room temperature
  90gr                                                                           powdered sugar
  100gr                                                                         almond flour
  2                                                                               eggs
  30gr                                                                           flour
  50gr                                                                           shredded coconut

  Italian meringue
  80gr                                                                           granulated sugar
  15gr                                                                           glucose
  23gr                                                                           water
  60gr                                                                           egg whites

Succulent Slice of Lemon Meringue tart
For start, prepare the tart dough by cutting the butter into the flour and then simply adding the rest of ingredients. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill until quite hard. Meanwhile proceed with the pastry cream and combine milk with cream, zest, vanilla and half of the sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Whip the eggs with the rest of the sugar and corn flour until homogeneous and stir in the lemon juice. As soon as the milk gets quite hot, pour one third of it in the egg mixture stirring constantly and then return it to the saucepan whisking until thick.

As soon as the cream starts boiling, remove from the heat and let cool. For the coconut frangipane that you can keep for days in fridge and use as filling for any tart, beat butter with sugar until creamy and add the eggs. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and set aside. Remove the tart dough from fridge and use a rolling pin to make shells for about one 20cm-diameter tart ring and nine muffin tins. Dot the bottom dough with a fork and preferably place a foil piece filled with beans or rice inside the larger tart shell to prevent rising.  

Bake at a preheated oven to 170C for 15min with the bean filling and for another 5min without it. Fill the half-baked shells with a layer of coconut cream and bake for about 20-25min until golden on top. Spread the lemon pastry cream over the coconut filling and prepare the meringue. Boil water with glucose and 70gr sugar and as soon as it reaches 100C, start whisking the whites adding gradually the rest of the sugar. When the whites are quite foamy and the syrup is at 120C, pour it in the meringue and keep whisking until it cools down and feels slightly warm to the touch.

Inside the Lemon Tart
Fill with the meringue a pastry bag and empty it over the surface of the tarts in various shapes. Finally burn the meringue picks with a blow torch and garnish with lemon zest, shredded coconut, chopped almonds, white chocolate shavings, or anything you come up with.
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Creative Commons License
This work by Catherine is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at theamericanpalate.com.