You are beautilfu – Part II

Hello there again, welcome to the second part of this birthday cake-making. Yesterday we talked the Decoration, made out of chocolate (what else) and today I’d like yo tell you about the filling. You see, my best friend, is a very picky eater, but (oddly) she likes coconut. A lot. So I decided the cake will be filled with a delish coconut cream.

 I looked everywhere for a recipe I liked, but pretty much all of them were just heavy cream with shredded coconut stirred in. I wanted full and complete coconut flavor. Finally, I found this beautiful blog called Ravenous Couple and they had the most incredible recipe for a coconut dessert (check it out! is really original and delicious!), involving every part of the coconut! and one of the layers is a coconut cream made with actual coconut milk. I loved the recipe and decided to use it as my filling.

Is almost like a custard, and really simple to make, you don’t even have to temper the eggs. I have to tell you, this is THE most incredible coconut dessert I have ever tasted. Is so rich and creamy and thick, almost like a pudding and with pure coconut delicate flavor. I didn’t even add vanilla in hopes to obtain the purest flavor. You WANT to make this. I beg you.

I don’t remember where, but I once read that if you mix toasted coconut with milk and leave it covered in the fridge for a day, the coconut flavor is amazing. I tried it but with the half and half instead of milk and it worked! I highly recommend that step and I’m adding it below. Please, please, please make this. Even if is just to eat as a pudding. I’m guessing you could also add some sugar on top, broil it, and have a wonderful coconut creme brulee! Mmm I need to try that…I’m tempted to make another batch just for me and not the cake…

Coconut Cream

Adapted from Ravenous Couple 

Enough to fill a 3 layer 9-inch cake

1 c Half and Half
1 c coconut milk
3/4 c sugar
1/4 c cornstarch
1/4 ts kosher salt
1 ts vanilla extract (Optional, omit for pure coconut flavor)
2 eggs
1 c toasted coconut 
 
If you want to amp up the coconut flavor, mix the toasted coconut with the half and half and let it sit in the fridge, covered for a few hours, preferably, a day.
 
Add the half and half and toasted coconut mixture, coconut milk, egg, sugar, salt, vanilla extract (if using), and cornstarch in sauce pan and whisk together well. Under low heat and constant whisking, heat the mixture until it thickens to a creamy consistency. Pour in a bowl and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours.
 
 
Oh, and can I please you with a little music? This song and video is by Mika (this man is a freaking genius. Amazing voice) and it’s called Big Girl (You are Beautiful) and the song is bubbly, cheerful, funny and really truthful (go curves!)
 
 
It keeps well for a few days in the refrigerator, I made it 2 days before I needed it.
Tomorrow we’ll talk frosting! One of my biggest fears regarding cakes.
Do you like coconut? If you don’t, I will still recommend making this, it could transform you, is THAT good.
 

You are beautiful – Part I

Crafts. They are lovely right? Such a great and useful hobby. Too bad I suck at it. Big time. I was always mocked as a little girl in school because my play-dough “flowers” looked more like big colorful deformed mounds. I can’t use a scissor to save my life. So I become very frustrated when I want to decorate or make bake goods prettier. I usually take the easy route and pour ganache over everything. But someone special, requires a little more effort. So for my best friend ever’s birthday I’m making the best and prettiest cake. I can’t give you much details about it yet, but this will be the first of a series of posts leading to the finished cake.

Today, I’ll make a small tutorial (I never thought I would be making a tutorial!) on chocolate decorations. I couldn’t find one I liked enough, so I’ll try my best here. Is a beautiful and incredibly easy way to turn a normal cake or cupcake into something really special and personalized. Sure, everyone tells you you can make curls, hearts, stars, letters or random pretty forms, but seriously you can make almost anything if you have a design. For instance, my best friend’s favorite animals are owls, so that’s what I’m making, as well as many different things to show you how easy (and fun!) it is. Ready? pour yourself a glass of (non-alcoholic for me, thanks) eggnog and let’s get started! 😀

  You need a few things. Chocolate of course. I used a variety that doesn’t need tempering and is the best thing ever. If you can find it, is very useful and helpful here. If not, there are plenty of great tutorials on tempering chocolate. I’m using dark chocolate here but use the one you like the most. Now, you need parchment paper. Quite a bit depending in your decorating needs. For basic chocolate decorating, that’s it! Only 2 things. Now, if you’re like me and drawing or designing is not your strength, you’ll want to use lovely google to find the shape or design you want and then print it. Also, some scotch tape, cause (at least for me) it always saves the day. Aaaand a scissor.

Okay, you want to have everything ready before melting the chocolate, to the first thing is to make a parchment paper cone. You could use a plastic bag, but I find the parchment paper to be stronger and more controllable. Use what you feel comfortable with. Making the cone looks DEAD easy, but me being me, spent about 5 minutes trying to find the correct way to twist it, and then having scotch tape in my mouth…I cried out of frustration (Why I can NEVER do these things?!) and asked my mommy for help…*sigh* but eventually, the second time around, did it. Here it is…

Ta dah! the uggliest cone ever! don’t make fun of it…

I followed this video but used tape to secure the ends as I was sure I would find a way to screw that up. Once you have that done, we’re going to prepare our designs to be piped. Cut a piece of parchment paper a little larger then your printed shape or design and tape them together. Again, if you’re like me, you’ll want to tape them to the table so they won’t move as you pipe the chocolate over them…

See? that was easy. Now, melt the chocolate. I use the microwave and never had any problems, just be careful with times. Make the first time very short and see how this chocolate reacts and then go from there. You don’t want it steaming hot, just melted and warm. 

Pour the chocolate in your cone, but don’t fill more than half at the time. Fold your cone over itself and keep folding until almost the top of the chocolate. Hold it tight and firm but not too hard as you cut the tip off cause it will go flying everywhere (been there…)Make sure not to cut too big. It all depends on what your design is like, but remember you can always cut more, but if you go too big, you’ll have to start over. Remember, the thinner the line, the more delicate and more likely to break.

And now just, pipe! try to keep a steady hand, and with figures like these you want all the lines and/or dots to be touching, that way when you lift it up, it will be one whole piece. After you’re done piping, let it firm up at room temperature or (me, being impatient) the fridge. Sometimes, even the freezer will do it.

Just make sure you have room in the fridge for this to fit completely flat. Carefully transfer it and it will take about 2 minutes. I love when things are so fast, that way I’m not tempted to screw the whole thing before its done. Now you remove it! Most likely, the edges of the figure will lift off the paper on their own, and you just have to carefully peel it all off. If is too hard, maybe give it another minute in the fridge and try again. You can use them right away, stick them in the fridge until you need them, or if you’re just doing a tutorial, you take the pictures and melt them again to use another time.

An owl! not the prettiest, mind you, but I’m getting better! Now, I wanted this piece to be flat, but you can make your figure round-ish by placing it in a can, or for example, I do this little thing for the wings in butterflies to lift off in an angle, first, before piping, you have to fold the paper right in the middle of the body of the butterfly, like this..

And then you unfold it and pipe like you normally would. Let it set for about 30 seconds before folding it every so slightly, at the angle you want the wings to be, and place the butterfly between to objects to hold the wings up, like this…

You can also do this in the fridge, using the items there, and then really carefully peel it off the paper. I love this part, is really satisfying. Also I must tell you this is the prettiest butterfly I’ve made to date! you’re in luck! I should probabaly mention that the inspiration from all this cam from one of the most gorgeour cakes I’ve ever seen at Pores au Chocolat and the other one at Desserts for Breakfast. Such talented ladies! 

Voila! a delicate and gorgeous butterfly. I assure you this makes everything pretty. I’ve considered wearing it in my head so people will like me better.

So now you see you can make pretty much anything, hearts, animals, flowers, names, even faces if you get creative enough! and most of you are probably more skilled than me at this and will wind up with prettier pieces. I will just need the owl, some trees and my best girl’s name. I think this is one of the most wonderful ways to personalize a cake and show that you care.

 

Sorry for the picture. Ugly, ugly, but I was running out of daylight. By the way, that’s my name, not hers.

Oh, I almost forgot, if you want some of the shapes to hold themselves up better and give them a little more dimension, you can make a base for them, by just doing this…

Let them harden and then glue the pieces together with a little more chocolate and let it harden again.

All you have to do now is put the pieces (carefully) in your cake or cupcake! They will adhere quite easily to frosting.

If while piping, the chocolate in your cone starts hardening, pop it in the microwave for about 8 – 10 seconds, that should do it, and continue with your work. If you have leftover chocolate, I like to create a little mold out of tin foil, pour it in, let it harden in the fridge and them save it with the rest of my chocolate. You can always melt again and re-use. Just discard your cone and make a new one for the best results!

But really, the most important thing to remember here is that, if I could do it, a 5 year old with ADHD can do it. And they will probably cry less. Get creative and you can make pretty much anything! And everyone likes chocolate figures.

I hope this is helpful and please feel free to ask anything, comment with feedback or even criticize! I’m here to learn from you too 😉

Have you worked with chocolate? like it? Do you have any suggestions?

Thanks! tune in tomorrow for part II!



I Choose You

This post was supposed to be for about 2 months ago. I know, I’m lazy. I don’t know what happened, really. But is now here and as far recipes, is one of my favorites! So, so simple and delicious. Actually, I have 2 recipes for you today. This is a Peanut Butter Duo Post. 😀 How exciting is that?! I can’t wait to tell you about this dead-easy recipes. I present today Peanut Butter Balls and the word’s easiest and fastest Peanut Butter Cookies. Complete with a chocolate version aswell! You’re welcome.

I love peanut butter. I LOVE peanut butter. I wanna be buried with a jar of the stuff. Unfortunately, is REALLY expensive here (would you pay 26 dollars for a jar of PB? you get the idea. No, I’m not kidding) So when I was gifted this jar, I took care of it like GOLD. I wanted to enjoy it by itself. Spoonfuls, on a piece of toast. On oatmeal once. But I had a bit leftover and wanted something a little more special so I came up with these. These are not too sweet treats, really natural and the truffles can easily be made vegan with almond milk and vegan chocolate. It satisfies that common chocolate-pb craving. Sweet and salty.

And of course, I love salt in desserts. The crunch, the way they amp up the flavor…gorgeous I tell you. My favorite thing is definitely the truffles. The crackly chocolate shell covering a creamy peanut butter-y center? Oh my…I want to have this for dessert everyday! And it can be done in just minutes. You can serve them up in your holiday table and pretend you’re fancy. Or maybe you really are. I’ll just speak for myself here…right. Oh, and the cookies and flourless. Huge plus. I love flourless treats. So I’m giving you a gluten free and a vegan recipe, how’s that for versatility? 😉

Yes, you’re reading right, 5 ingredients! 6 if you want the chocolate version and 7 if you decide to add the coarse salt on top (which I TOTALLY) recommend. Okay 7 ingredients doesn’t seem like so little, but when one is vanilla and the other salt, you can’t really count them right?

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Joy The Baker

1 cup all-natural chunky or smooth peanut butter

1 cup sugar (I like brown better but choose what you have)

1 egg

1 teaspoon baking soda

Few drops of vanilla extract

1 cup chocolate chips or chopped chocolate (Optional. For the chocolate version below)

Coarse or Sea salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a baking sheet with butter and set aside.  In a mixer combine peanut butter and sugars until well combined, about 2 minutes.  Add egg and baking soda and mix for another 2 minutes.  Roll into walnut sized balls and create a cris-cross pattern with a fork.   Bake for 10 minutes, until lightly browned.  Cool on a baking sheet for two minutes at least.

For a chocolate version, make the dough as instructed and  melt the chocolate chips in the microwave in 20 seconds interval and then add to the dough and mix to combine completely. Bake the same way as the plain ones.

Decorate the cookies with a light sprinkling of sea salt on top.

Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Balls

Recipe by me

Most Peanut butter balls recipe call for tons of butter and powdered sugar. I hate this, I want to taste the peanut butter, so this is a simpler, far creamier and softer, much less sweet candy-like recipe. Natural and peanut butter-y. This is kind of like a PB ganache without the chocolate mixed in, but instead, poured on top and hardened.

1 cup natural smooth peanut butter

1/4 cup sugar (I used granulated, use powdered for a smoother result)

1/3 cup of evaporated milk (You can use heavy cream, half and half or plain milk)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Coarse or sea salt to decorate

1 cup chocolate chips or chunks (to dip)

In a medium heat proof bowl, pour the milk or cream and sugar. Pop them in the microwave for 30 seconds and mix, trying to dissolve the sugar. The mixture should be hot, not warm. Next, add the peanut butter to the milk-sugar mixture, as well as the vanilla and stir everything together. It will be very creamy and sticky. If you think is too dry, add more milk or cream. Let the mixture cool down and stick in the fridge until completely cold, 1-2 hours.

When the mixture has hardened and cooled, melt your chocolate in the microwave or double boiler and put it aside for a moment to cool down a bit while you make the balls.

Prepare a large cookie or baking sheet with parchment paper. Take small spoonfuls of the peanut butter mixture and roll them in your hands quickly to make a ball and place on the paper. Make them as big or small as you’d like, I like mine really small. Work fast to avoid too much melting. Now, with a fork, drop the balls, one by one, in the melted chocolate and roll them around to coat. Pick it up again with the fork (not pinching it, just carrying it) and tap the fork a bit in the edge of the bowl to get rid of excess chocolate. Drop the ball again in the parchment paper and sprinkle with sea salt. Continue until you’re done with all the balls and place them in the fridge to harden. 10-15 minutes is okay, but they will have a better texture in 30 minutes.

Enjoy! I’m off to send my picture to Tastespotting (Hope they’ll take it!)

Ps. I have no idea why I chose that tittle. Those words just spoke to me.

Thanks for reading!

February

This is my comeback post. I hope this makes up for the absence (:

Recipe first. I loooove biscotti! Is so easy, so fancy and guilt free. I only say that because it rarely has any fat, so is lower in calorie than most cookies. But still, it can be just as delicious and pretty. This one is Pumpkin & Caramelized Hazelnuts Biscotti. Only I made it with butternut squash instead of pumpkin. I have a SERIOUS obsession with those things. Specially when they’re all small and cute. I can’t walk past them in the vegetable section without giggling uncontrollably and reaching for one. Or two. I just adore them, but now I have to come up with things to do with them before they go bad. You won’t miss the pumpkin in these, trust me, they are incredible!

I followed Simply Recipes’ recipe. Mainly because it is really simple  (recipe, simple? I swear that was totally unintentional) and pretty much every other recipe I found was based on that one. It worked out perfectly and I think the hazelnuts are such an amazing and seasonal addition. And caramelizing them? Best. Idea. Ever. Crunchy, toasty, buttery, fragant…I don’t know how to describe my love for hazelnuts either. I have a weird love for a lot of food items. Is a problem I tell you…

Anyway, I also used brown sugar instead of white because…everything is better with brown sugar. Oh, and don’t you DARE to even think about using unsalted butter when caramelizing the nuts. Is a SIN!…Okay you can use unsalted if is all you have, but please make sure to add a sprinkling of salt when melting the sugar. Trust me here ,yes? Please? Just a kiss of salt makes everything so much better. Everybody loved this and it was done in a pinch. Try it!

Caramelized Hazelnuts

Recipe by me

1 cup whole hazelnuts, toasted. (You can remove the skins if you’d like)

1/3 cup of white sugar

1 TBSP of salted butter (or use unsalted and add a big pinch when melting the sugar)

Get ready a greased cookie sheet or a large piece of parchment paper.

Throw the sugar in a pan heat over medium to high heat. The sugar will start to melt in the middle. Push the sugar around the sides to the center a little, and then swirl the pan around  to give all the sugar a chance to melt. You do not want to stir at this point or you can create sugar cristals that are hard to melt. Depending on your liking here you can let the sugar cook  to a light golden or a darker amber color. I like it really dark, just before it starts to burn and become bitter. At this point, throw in the tablespoon of butter, stirring quickly and then pour the hazelnuts, stirring to coat them all. Working quickly, pour the whole thing in the parchment paper (or greased cookie sheet) and spread in one layer. Let it cool until it hardens significantly.

At this point, depending on your use for the hazelnuts, you can break it into pieces and eat as candy, grind them in a food processor to make a nice hazelnut praline, or chop them roughly to use in desserts (like the biscotti)

Pumpkin & Caramelized Hazelnuts Biscotti

Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes

2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons olive oil
½ cup pumpkin purée
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 batch of caramelized hazelnuts, chopped.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift together the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, and spices into a large bowl.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, olive oil, pumpkin purée, and vanilla extract. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture. Give it a rough stir to  combine the ingredients, the dough will be crumbly. Add the chopped hazelnuts and try to incorporate them too.

Flour your hands and a clean kitchen surface and lightly knead the dough. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper. Form the dough into a large log, roughly about 15-20 inches by 6-7 inches. Bake for 22-30 minutes at 350ºF, until the center is firm to the touch. (

Let biscotti cool for 15 minutes and then using a serrated knife cut into 1 inch wide pieces. Turn the oven to 300ºF and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes. Cool completely.

And now this song…oh god. It makes me heart curl up and twist. I don’t know if that makes any sense but the lyrics and so, so beautiful. I’ve cried several times just listening to it. And this dance choreographed by Emily Shock does it so much justice. Heartbreaking in the best way.

I’ve Been Away.

It’s been long. Way too long I’m really sorry for disappearing like that you guys. I’ve been really busy with all the paperwork and complications from my moving. If you don’t know, I’m moving to Buenos Aires, Argentina this next february. I will persuing  be a career in Cinematography and Movies Direction. I am super excited, but super sad as well. While it is my dream, this past year has proven to be one of the best, most emotional, happiest, and saddest years of all my life. It has left me speechless and is hard to leave the place I lived all those things in. But the hardest thing I have ever done, is leaving the people that made this year the best experience ever.

So that leaves me with little time to bake. I do ave a few things in my archives that I will share soon, and I hope you can forgive me for not posting in too long. I am still thankful for each comment, question or anything you have to say. I promise I will be back with more recipes and posts. Meanwhile I leave you with great recipes and blogs that caught my attention this past week…

Hungry Rabbit’s Nutella Rugelash or “Rugatella” – I can’t think of anything else since I read about this. Ge-nius.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies by FoodFor Poems – Peanut butter, chocolate chips AND malt? Come on!

Okay, more peanut butter, but can you blame me? Cornflakes Crusted Grilled PB&J Sandwhich by Fuss Free Kitchen. I don’t think I’ll be able to eat anything else other than this again.

Sauerkraut Chocolate Cupcakes? You bet! I admit it, what got me about this recipe was the Cashew Chocolate Sauce! Divine! Muffin Tin Mania has great recipes!

And to balance out all the sweetness, how about burgers? Something like, Lamb Burgers with Chocolate, Mint and Homemade Ketchup! If I saw that on a restaurant’s menu, I would order it without second guessing. The Cupcake Project has the recipe! Yum!

Finally, I wanted to tell you about this blog…its called The Island of Dr Gâteau and is exceptional.  You could say is an experimental food blog. it features mainly desserts recipes with unexpected combinations, unique flavors and wonderful creativity. As a huge plus, the owner and writer, Jess, is doing a PhD in cognitive Neuroscience and in each posts she relates the featured recipe with amazingly interesting information about the biology and psychology of the eating experience. I can tell you I learned a lot the other day searching through her site. Go check it out right now! Super innovative, cool and delicious!

Again, thanks everyone who still reads this and i promise not to go away like that again. I hope you’re all enjoying your holiday season. I know I am! I LOVE christmas and christmas food, and expect to see some traditional Venezuelan christmas food posts! You will love it 😉

Leave Out All The Rest

I’ve been a little absent lately. I’m sorry for that. Is just that I’m trying to cut down on sweets. I’ve been baking a lot and my family is mad at me for making them eat that. Okay I don’t actually make them, but they say that they have no self restrain so if there are sweets, they’re just going to eat it. Anyway…I understand so I’m trying to be a little bit healthier. Hey! I made Crunchy Spiced Sweet Potato Fries! that is healthy right? right.

They’re baked actually. And with just a touch of olive oil to make everything come together. I loved the crunchiness, about 15 minutes out of the oven they were perfect. Sadly, they don’t last much…after a while they start becoming soggy. Don’t get m wrong, I loved them anyway, but is not what everyone likes. And these make a healthy and filling snack as well as an awesome side dish. I just love sweet potatoes so much more than regular ones. And my brother devoured these in no time flat!. A complete success.

They are perfect alone, but I seriously adore my mom’s garlic mayo. Seriously, You have no idea how good that mayo is. I eat it with everything every single day.  I’ll post that recipe later this week. Also, maybe is just me, but I also loved them with Dijon mustard. And ketchup, but that didn’t seem fancy enough for the photo 😉

Crunchy Spiced Sweet Potato Fries

Recipe by me

4 small sweet potatoes

1 egg white

3/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (you can use regular bread crumbs)

2 teaspoons of paprika

1 teaspoon italian spices (or use a combination of your favorites. Rosemary would be great)

large pinch of salt

large pinch of black pepper

Preheat oven at 400°

Wash and dry your sweet potatoes. You can peel them if you want but I like them with the peel on. Cut them into fries. Not too thick or too thin. Grease a baking sheet with olive oil.

Whip the egg white in a large bowl until very soft peaks form. Combine the crumbs with the salt, pepper, paprika and spices in another bowl.

Now, deep your fries in the egg white and them in the crumbs until is coated. Place on the baking sheet. Continue until all fries are covered. Do not over crowd the fries in the baking sheet or they will not crisp up properly. Bake for 20-30 minutes until brown and crispy on the outside.

I Love the soft inside. And don’t add too much salt! I made that mistake and the first batch was almost inedible. You can always add more later.

Have a lovely saturday! and listen to some Linkin Park maybe? I secretly love metal 😉

I can’t say.

Mmm…this is amazing. This tasted like nothing I have ever tried before. Sweet, salty, spicy, creamy and it goes with SO many things. I’m still thinking of a dessert to use it in, but it’ll be something incredible, I promise. This is nothing short of it. And you know? It took me minutes to make. Honey, Rosemary and Balsamic Pumpkin Butter. Oh how much I love long fancy names for food. Is a lovely twist on the classic pumpkin butter and if you try it, you wont be disappointed.

The inspiration came from a lot of things. First, How Sweet It Is and her lovely Vanilla Bourbon Baked Acorn Squash. She used balsamic in there too and I thought it was simply genius. But I didn’t have any *gasp* butter (by the way, I finally convinced my mom to buy it in bulk!) so I had to do it in another way. Then I remembered someone making pumpkin gnocchi with brown butter and rosemary. Without the butter I had the balsamic and rosemary. And who hasn’t heard of Lemon cookies with honey and rosemary? There I had it. Honey, Balsamic and Rosemary.

I made my own pumpkin pure but you can make this with canned pumpkin and save even more time! Custom with your own spices and add more honey if you feel it needs more sweetness. Have fun with it. You know what? this goes wonderfully with soft cream cheese in whole wheat cracker. Mmm…I’ll be right back…

Honey, Rosemary & Balsamic Pumpkin Butter

Recipe by me

3 small pumpkins (or 1 29 oz can of pure pumpkin puree)

1/2 cup of honey

1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar

1/2 tablespoon of very finely chopped rosemary

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 teaspoons of all spice

large pinch of salt

From Scratch:

Halve the  pumpkins, scoop out the seeds and set them aside to make roasted pumpkin seeds. Discard the strings.  Cut side up on a  baking sheet, greased with olive oil. Bake in a 375°F oven for about 45 minutes. Remove from oven, scoop out flesh and puree in food processor or blender (there should be about 2 cups). My pumpkins for some reason weren’t particularly watery, so I let them like that. If you want, you can drain the excess water in a cheese cloth.

Now throw the canned or homemade pumpkin pure and the rest of the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat and stir very well. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring every once in a while. You don’t want it to stick o the bottom and burn. When is thick enough (like applesauce) take it off the heat, stir a few more times to cool and transfer to bowl or jar you can keep in the fridge. It keeps very well for a couple of weeks.

Oh, and I topped it with some spiced toasted pumpkin seeds.

And this song…Elegy  by Inspection 12. It might be a bit heavy for some, but I love how is softcore and a little hardcore at the same time.

Enjoy all your lovely pumpkin recipes!

Would You Choose Water Over Wine?

Who can name that song? I’ll give you one of these if you can! trust me, you’ll want one. I don’t know why I never made truffles before, is the easiest thing on earth! And chocolate ganache being my favorite thing EVER, you’ll think I would have thought of it. Maybe is because I eat all of it before it has time to set? Okay I know, that is it. But I managed some control this time and ended up with these beauties. I love them. I want to eat them for lunch. But I want my mom to try them so I’ll save them..okay this is hard…

So, my FAVORITE candy ever is Peanut butter cups. And you know what? I’ve only tried it 2 times in my whole life. Still, I know is my favorite and I’m sticking to it. They don’t sell it here *cries desperately*. I’m okay, I’m okay. But before that, my favorite since I was a kid was Mounds. That delicious chocolate-covered coconut creamy filling. You know what? they don’t sell it here anymore either. I might as well stop living. Or something less dramatic? Anyway, a few months ago I tried my first Almond Joy and I fell in love. Just like Mounds, PLUS almonds? heaven!

But you know what? that Almond joy would be my first and last. To this day, I can no longer find it. I know, my life is filled with chocolate-covered disappointments. At least I have the chocolate-covered part? And at least I have these Almond Joy Truffles. And they’re vegan too! (I didn’t exactly had vegan chocolate, but you can use it if you can find it)  Also, gluten free, but aren’t all truffles gluten free? Anyway, these are amazing. You can feel good about eating them. Healthy fats, antioxidants and small portions. Plus, the psychological satisfaction of eating a creamy, dreamy, crunchy chocolate dessert 😀

They tasted just like almond joy bars! without all those bad-for-you ingredients and super easy! I covered some with cocoa, other with finally sheddered coconut and dipped the rest in chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt. Those were, by far, the bests. I made the truffles with bittersweet chocolate and used semi-sweet for the coating, the perfect contrast. If you like sweeter treats, you can add some powdered sugar. I found these sweet enough. Please don’t skip the salt! You’ll love it, I promise!

Vegan Almond Joy Truffles w/ Sea Salt

Recipe by me.

8 ounces of  bittersweet chocolate (use vegan if you need to)

1/2 cup of full-fat coconut milk

1/3 cup of finely shredded coconut (if you only find shaved coconut, you can “grate” it in the food-processor)

1/3 cup of chopped almonds

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

a small pinch fo salt

Optional coatings:

Semi-sweet chocolate

Cocoa

Finely shredded coconut

Sea salt

In a double boiler or microwave, melt the chocolate and the coconut milk. Be careful not to burn it. Just heat enough so all the chocolate melts. Stir well until is smooth. Add the vanilla, coconut and chopped almonds. Stir to blend all. Allow to cool, then place in the fridge for about 2 hours (it can go longer, even over-night) Remove from the fridge and with a small spoon, roll out balls of the ganache. Roll quickly between your hands (it will melt in your hands if you take too long) to form a uniform ball. Now, if you’re organized and have time, you could place all the balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place in the refrigerator overnight. But if you’re a mess like me, you can skip that and go directly to the coating step.

Melt the semi-sweet chocolate (if using) and place all your different coatings in different plates. Drop the truffles one by one in one of the coatings and roll it around with a fork to make sure is totally covered. Take it out and place on the baking sheet lines with parchment paper. If you like, sprinkle a little of sea salt on top of each truffle. Place in the refrigerator to firm up for a while and take out when ready to serve.

Everyone will love these! and they look totally cute and fancy too 😉

By the way, the song is, of course, Drive by Incubus. Great song by a great band. Thanks all for reading, you guys make my day 😀

You don’t fade

Okay, really, who can’t decorate? *raises hand* I am really terrible at it. And I always was…My pictures as a kid were as simple as it gets, I can’t do details, small things or delicate presentations. It just isn’t on me. It got me terrible grades sometimes (but seriously, who qualifies highschool biology with fungus and flowers made out of play-doh? My teacher, that is.) So when I got interested on cakes, I was always blown away by pretty decorations and designs but I can never duplicate those. My presentations are always simple and rustic and I like them better that way, I think food is supposed to look like food, not like an art sculpture you can’t eat. But eventually I like to try…

For my cousin’s birthday, my aunt asked me to make 2 cakes, the sugar loaded bomb for the kids, and another more adequate for the grown ups. This is my adult’s cake. It’s a Strawberry Champagne Cake w/ Sour Cream Frosting. I got inspired by Darjeeling Dream’s beautiful Blackberry and Champagne Cake. And since I had that homemade vanilla &  cardamom strawberry Jam on hand, I decided to give it a go. I love the cake, is so light but moist at the same time. Of course, is the Perfect Party Cake by the great Dorie Greenspan. I used half champagne and half buttermilk as opposed to all buttermilk like the original recipe calls for. Also, I increased the recipe by half, as I knew it wouldn’t be enough for my pans.

You know, is a funny thing…yesterday, while I was juggling my way into making and decorating two different cakes I realized very important things. One is that I don’t look good with my hair tangled in a messy bun at the top of my head and all my clothes covered in flour. But more importantly, I realized that, as much as I love to create and bake…I do not want to do this for a living. It is a passion of mine, is beautiful and I never want to stop doing it, but dang it…when it’s mandatory, it can be stressful as hell.

It makes me feel a little bad to say this, because I have the true opportunity to be able to study whatever I want. I’m even moving to one of the (if not the) most important gastronomic city in latin America and I could choose to become a professional baker or something, but I won’t. Yes, it is my passion but is my free passion. I love it because its mine and free and I can do whatever I want with it. When it became something I HAD to do (I didn’t want to let my cousin down) I stopped enjoying it. 2 cakes in one day was too much for me to enjoy.

But it was worth it. I always make “heavy” cakes with chocolate and caramel, vanilla, nuts…I never use fruit! But these cake called my name, perhaps is the fact that it has champagne in it and that makes it fancy and I looove fancy-sounding desserts 🙂 Either way, everyone loved it and this is the prettiest cake I’ve done in terms of decoration. I don’t know how I managed to level, fill, stack, frost and decorate without the cake falling apart. A total success for me. I’m getting better. But still, it was very stressful. For a while, I’m gonna make just simple things 😉

And the frosting went great. I don’t know if you knew, but I’m obsessed with Sour Cream. And even though I had a slight mishap with the frosting (the sour cream was too cold for the room-temperature butter and the whole thing curdled into a soupy mess. After crying in the sugared kitchen floor and pulling at my floured hair-bun for a good 15 minutes I decided to fight. I popped the whole thing in the microwave for 13 seconds exactly and then beat the hell out of it at full whack. It worked! I cried out of happiness. I’m an emotional person) it tasted sweet and tangy and vanilla-y. Sour cream makes my life complete. Try this cake, it’ll make you look fancy!

Strawberry & Champagne Cake w/ Sour Cream Vanilla Frosting

Recipe Adapted from Perfect Party Cake by Dorie Greenspan

Inspired by Darjeeling Dreams

For the cake

2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk

1/2 cup of champagne
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract

3/4 cups of strawberry jam or other fruit spread you seem suitable for the filling.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and, working with the paddle or  whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. At this very last moment, gently stir in the champagne. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the tough – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.

When the caked are cool, level them with a large serrated knife, discard (eat) the scraps and spread the strawberry jam on one of the cakes. Cover with the other and keep covered (it can be in the fridge so is easier to handle later) while you make the frosting.

 

Sour Cream and Vanilla Frosting

Recipe by me.

 

4 tablespoons butter, softened

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or vanilla bean)

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar

In a medium bowl, mix together the butter, sour cream, vanilla, lemon juice and salt. Stir in confectioners’ sugar, and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add more sugar if it’s too soft or a little milk if too stiff.

Spread frosting on top and sides of the cake. I had leftover frosting, which I colored with blackberry jam to make that rosy color and then pipped some “roses” on the cake. Serve at room temperature.

Enjoy!

 

 

I love this picture. It seems like the slice of cake is a person looking at the horizon. So peaceful.

 

Yes, I did have a little too much cake, why do you ask? By the way, check out The Young Veins and their new album Take a Vacation!

Have a lovely week!

Tu Eres Mi Calma.

You are my calm. That’s the title. Is a line from a beautiful song from La Vida Boheme. Is in spanish, but if you’d like yo hear it, here’s the song. Music is gorgeous in any and all languages, and that is a great band. And it makes me think of this cake…it makes me think of all cakes, all baking, simply because baking is my calm. It makes me so happy no matter what and I’m always looking forward to it.

I know I told you I would show you what I did with that strawberry Jam I made, but this came first and I couldn’t resist. Specially because I LOVE the way it looks. I’m improving a lot in this decorating thing. I had never had such a perfect cake! Anyway, this is for my little cousin’s birthday, and as you would expect from a kid, he wanted nothing more than SUGAR, SUGAR and more SUGAR. This is a Chocolate Dulce de Leche Cake. I know, ten year olds have no imagination. But I did love that he gave me specifications, not just “do whatever you like”. hate that.

I made 2 basic yellow cakes (oh.my.god. The batter was the most delicious batter ever, you have to make this) and sandwiched them together with (store-bought, i so easy to find here) dulce de leche and a light sprinkling of coarse salt because, come on, something had to balance all that sweet. Then I covered the entire cake in semi-sweet chocolate ganache and attempted to make whipped cream slightly sweetened with a little leftover dulce de leche, but apparently I did something wrong and it wouldn’t totally set. So I just plop it on top of the cake and let it run down the sides.  Finally, I shaved some chocolate on top. Go, get yourself a huge glass of water. And bring me one.

I think the mothers of my cousin’s friends are going to kill me after the sugar-high this cake is going to give to their kids. I’m sorry, I’m just following orders. Also, I would love to give you a peek at the inside but I won’t be in the first part of his birthday. If there’s any cake left, I’ll take a pic ;).

Chocolate Dulce de Leche Cake

Recipe: slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Yield: Two 9-inch round, 2-inch tall cake layers.

4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature, separated.
1 1/4 cups buttermilk, well-shaken

1 recipe of chocolate ganache (to follow)

1 8-ounce can of dulce de leche.

Whipped cream and chocolate to decorate (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and line with circles of parchment paper, then butter parchment. (Alternately, you can use a cooking spray, either with just butter or butter and flour to speed this process up.)

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add yolks 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled). Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just Incorporated. In another clean bowl, beat the whites until soft peaks form. Fold a third of the whites into the cake batter and then the rest, making sure not to over mix.

Spread batter evenly in cake pans.  Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of the cakes comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of the pans. Invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour.

Semi-sweet Chocolate Ganache

By me.

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped.

3/4 cup heavy cream

Heat the cream to a simmer and pour over the chocolate. Let it sit for about 2 minutes and then stir to blend everything together until smooth. Let is cool before covering the cake. For this one, I let the ganache harden a little on the fridge so is easier to spread.

Assembly:

Spread the dulce de leche over one of the cake layers. Make sure there isn’t too much of it or it will overflow when you cover it. If you want, lightly sprinkle son coarse or table salt over the dulce de leche. Cover with the other cake layer and now spread the ganache on the sides and top pf the cake. If you want, you can whip some cream with a little sugar and vanilla (make sure everything is very cold). Decorate the cake with the cream and chocolate shavings. Serve at room temperature.