Photo Fun!

One thing that really bothers me is when people see a photo and say “whoa you have such a good camera!”. Yes, the camera is part of it, but the photographer makes the magic happen. My friend Kristen is a phenomenal photographer and I was lucky enough to spend the past two weekends doing a full photoshoot of the baking process with her. From the messy mixing to the polished final product, these photos tell a perfect story of my life in the kitchen.

Kristen and I met when I was interning and she worked at Nat Geo Channel in DC. We sat directly next to each other but we didn’t talk until my LAST day when I brought in cookies. People love cookies.collage2

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Momofuku Milkbar’s Birthday Cake Truffles

There is a very elevated level of pressure that comes with recreating any recipe from Momofuku Milkbar. A good friend of mine got me the cookbook for my birthday last year, and every time I attempt a new recipe I make sure to block out an entire weekend. Their bagel bombs are definitely my favorite thing to make, but these birthday cake truffles come in close second.

They’re small cakeballs that mix the exciting youthful crunch of rainbow sprinkles with the growing confectionary trend of bite size truffles.

Birthday Cake Truffles:

1 recipe birthday cake (below)
2-4 tablespoons vanilla milk (below)
3 ounces white chocolate, melted
1 cup birthday cake sand (below)

1. Using a fork, tear apart the cooled cake into crumbs. You might have to use your hands (yay!). Combine fine cake crumbs and vanilla milk in a medium sized bowl and toss with your hands until moist enough to knead into a ball. if it is not moist enough to do so, add up to 2 tablespoons more vanilla milk and knead it in. Depending on how moist/dry your cake is you might not need more than 2 tbsp

2. roll the balls to be 1 inch. The original recipe says into 12 balls, but I made 24 because more cake truffles = better. Roll each one between the palms of your hands to shape and smooth it into a round sphere.

3. put 2 tablespoons of the white chocolate in the palm of your hand and roll each ball between your palms, coating it in a thin layer of melted chocolate; add more chocolate as needed.

4. put 3 or 4 chocolate-covered balls at a time into the bowl of birthday cake sand. immediately toss them with the crumbs to coat, before the chocolate shell sets and no longer acts as a glue (if this happens, just coat the ball in another thin layer of melted chocolate).

5. refrigerate for at least 5 minutes to fully set the chocolate shells before eating or storing. in an airtight container, the truffles will keep for up to 1 week in the fridge.

Birthday Cake Recipe:

makes 1 quarter sheet pan

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butt, at room temperature
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons light brown sugar, tightly packed
3 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour (you can make cake flour using flour + cornstarch. remove 2 tbsp flour per cup and replace with cornstarch)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup rainbow sprinkles

1. heat the oven to 350°f.

2. combine the butter, shortening, and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the eggs, and mix on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

3. on low speed, stream in the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. increase the mixer speed to medium-high and paddle for 4 to 6 minutes, until the mixture is twice the size of your original fluffy butter-and-sugar mixture, and completely combined. don’t rush the process.

4. on very low speed, add the cake flour, baking powder, salt, and mix just until combined (45 seconds). Take bowl off of the mixer and add ¼ cup rainbow sprinkles. Fold in with a rubber spatula.

5. pam-spray a quarter sheet pan (9×13) and line it with parchment. using a spatula, spread the cake batter in an even layer in the pan. sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles evenly on top of the batter.

6. bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes. the cake will rise and puff, doubling in size, but will remain slightly buttery and dense. at 30 minutes, gently poke the edge of the cake with your finger: the cake should bounce back slightly and the center should no longer be jiggly. leave the cake in the oven for an extra 3 to 5 minutes if it doesn’t pass these tests.

7. take the cake out of the oven and cool on a wire rack or, in a pinch, in the fridge or freezer.

Vanilla Milk:

– 1/4 cup milk

– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

whisk together in a small bowl

Birthday Sand:

– 1/4 cup granulated sugar
– 1 tablespoon light brown sugar, tightly packed
– 2/3 cup cake flour
– 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
– 1 tablespoon rainbow sprinkles
– 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
– 1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract

1. heat the oven to 300°f.

2. combine the sugars, flour, baking powder, salt, and sprinkles in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until well combined.

3. add the oil and vanilla and paddle again to distribute. the wet ingredients will act as glue to help the dry ingredients form small sandy clusters; continue paddling until that happens.

4. let the crumbs cool completely before using

I was too stressed during the process to take pictures, so here are some of the final product!

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PROM Thin Mint Cakepops!

Here are some cakepops I made for our fake prom event last month. #nostalgia

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– 3 sleeves of thin mints

– 1 block of cream cheese

Put thin mints in a food processor until very fine. mix in cream cheese with your hands. Refrigerate mixture for 20 minutes.

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Remove from fridge and roll into 1.5 inch balls. Add sticks.

DSC_0076Refrigerate with sticks in for 20 more minutes. Remove from fridge and let balls return to almost room temperate (still cool to the touch). The reasoning for this is that the balls expand as they warm to room temperature. You don’t want to dip and coat them while they are still cold because the coating will crack once they expand.

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Decorate as you wish! I don’t have a picture of the tuxedo dipping, but I tilted the cakepop and did each half of the tux. I took dried plain white cakepops and used a piping bag to make a decorative white design (like a lace dress). I covered those with white mini non pareils and the white-on-white looked phenom!

 

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Honeybee Cakepops

This week I did a presentation in my Public Relations class on the Haagen Dazs loves Honeybees campaign. Part of the presentation had to be interactive, so I decided to give cakepops as a reward for answering my questions. The cake was honeycake (duh) and each pop was adorned with a sweet little honeybee made out of marzipan. So so good!!

This recipe was adapted from smittenkitchen.com, click here for a printer-friendly version

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder [see Update above]
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup honey
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup warm coffee or strong tea
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup rye or whiskey
1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds (optional)

Makes three loaves pan or one 9 by 13 inch sheet cake. Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease pan with non-stick cooking spray.

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.

2. Make a well in the center.

3. Add oil, honey, white sugar, brown sugars, eggs, vanilla, coffee, orange juice and whiskey.

4. Using a strong wire whisk or in an electric mixer on slow speed, stir together well to make a thick, well-blended batter, making sure that no ingredients are stuck to the bottom.

5. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Place cake pan on a baking sheet to ensure even cooking throughout the cake. (I didn’t do this and it turned out fine)

Bake until cake tests done,  loaf pans will be about 45 to 55 minutes. For sheet cakes, baking time is 40 to 45 minutes.

While the cake is baking, open your marzipan and get out some yellow food dye! Ok, food dye is gross, but if you have to use it, the Americolor gel is fantastic and you only need a tiny bit.

Die the marzipan by rolling it in your hands with a little bit of yellow dye until it is evenly spread.

Break off little pieces of marzipan and shape into a jelly bean-like oval. This will be the honeybee’s body.

melt black melting chocolates, or dye marzipan black, or make black royal icing in a small piping  bottle. Decorate the lil’ bee bodies and place two almond slices on each side of the bee for wings.

Then, as with any other cakepop recipe, cut off the edges of the sheet cake. Rip apart the cake into crumbles, and mix in 3/4 cup frosting to moisten the mix. Roll them into balls.

dip the sticks into melting chocolate and stick in the cakeballs

Enjoy! Save the Honeybees!

Up Next: Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie

Adios Bulldog! Mocha Cakeballs

Ok this is it, the third and final attempt at cake balls. Previously, my toughest critic (my sister) has said they were too dense or the chocolate coating was distractingly thick. I think we finally got it. The trick is using the right melting chocolate and not putting too much frosting in the cake mixture… only enough to make them stick together as balls.

The mocha cake recipe is from a great cookbook that I’ve had since high school. Don’t let the title fool you, the recipes can easily be used for cakes as well as cupcakes.

Ingredients-

Mocha Cake:

– 3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
– 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
– 1/2 cup Dutch processed cocoa
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1 teaspoon baking powder
– 2 tablespoons butter, melted
– 2 tablespoons canola oil
– 2 eggs
– 2 egg whites
– 1 1/2 cups lowfat yogurt
– 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
– 3/4 cup granulated sugar
– 1 tablespoon espresso powder, dissolved in 1 tablespoon of hot water
– 2 ounces good-quality dark chocolate

Chocolate frosting:

– 2 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
– 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
– 6 tablespoons softened butter
– 4 tablespoons whole milk
– 1 tablespoon brewed dark coffee
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1 teaspoon coffee grounds
& Melting chocolate of your choice

After you’ve done the usual baking of the cake, COOL it completely and then rip it apart. Add 3/4 cup of frosting to the crumbs mixture and roll into balls. Start with that, but you can add more frosting if you like the cakeballs more dense. Refrigerate the balls for 3+ hours.

If you want to make small chocolate decorations for the cakeballs (debatable whether or not this is worth your time…mine all broke in the car) this is a good time to make them. A good cheat is to print out the image, to size, of what you want your decorations to look like. Place the image under parchment paper.

Melt some melting chocolate and put into a piping bag with a very thin tip. Wait about 45 seconds for the chocolate to cool down before starting to pipe. Pipe the image on the parchment paper and refrigerate the chocolate decorations. I attempted to do bulldogs but after the frustration of some very broken dogs, I accepted that they will be somewhat abstract.

Once the cake balls have been chilling for over 3 hours, melt your melting chocolate in a small bowl or double boiler. You can add food coloring at this point if you would like your white chocolate to be colored. Take out the small chocolate decorations. Use a fork to slowly dip into the melting chocolate and coat the entire ball. Place on parchment paper and quickly top with chocolate decoration. Place it very gently otherwise the warm melting chocolate/cold decorations will result in an ugly, broken decoration.

final product: the melting chocolate started to cool, so you can see the very left cakeballs got a more smooth chocolate coating whereas the ones on the right are messier. Tasted the same though, and the co-workers got a little bit of caffeine for the lovely morning!

The Ultimate “Traditional” Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake


Ingredients:

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp allspice
1 cup applesauce
1/2 cup vegetable oil
6 egg whites
3 cups peeled, grated carrots

Raisins and Nuts are optional- 3/4 cup of each.

Mix dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Spread in 2 greased 8″ round pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, or until toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean. Cool in pan and then lay on flat surface for decorating with:

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick butter or margarine, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Beat in electric mixer, add more powdered sugar if you would like icing to be thicker.

Frost the top of one 8″ layer about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. This layer will be the icing that separates the two layers. Carefully place the other layer (also fully cooled) on top. Ice the top layer and ice the uneven ridges of the joining layers. If you have a cake icer use the tip to scoop out teaspoons of icing at a time. If not, take a spoon and use the back of the spoon to scoop teaspoons of icing at a time, and place it on the side of the cakes to create a scalloped look on the edge.