Insane Birthday Cake {Momofuku Mashup}

Kate – Best friend, roommate of 4 years, and dessert-loving-seattlite of 25 years celebrates a big birthday this week! I was fortunate enough to take a class at the brooklyn Momofuku Milk Bar kitchen. Everything about the place was inspiring- the intoxicating smell of cereal milk mystery, the MASS amounts of butter and dough and industrial kitchen tools, and the overall energy of the employees (calling them employees doesn’t do it justice…magicians?). It was that day, looking at all the recipes and creativity at Milk Bar, that I decided the birthday cake I’d make for Kate this year. Here it goes…

Brown Butter Cake

  • momofuku recipe here

Chocolate Stout Soak

  • just chocolate stout beer lightly painted onto the cake. enough so you can see it start to seep through.

Salted Dulce de Leche Buttercream (dulce de leche to remind her of her time spent in south america)

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk [boiled for 1.5 hours to become “dulce de leche”]
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 5 cups powdered sugar

Malted Pretzel & Chex Mix crunch (chex & pretzels = our saturday nights)

  • 2 cups pretzels, chopped small
  • 1/4 cup malt powder
  • 2 cups corn chex cereal
  • 1/4 cup milk powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

Chocolate Stout Ganache (she loves chocolate and beer, so this was perfect)

  • 1 bag dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup chocolate stout

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Chicken Thighs in White Wine Sauce with Lemons, Capers, Artichokes, and Mushrooms

My first savory recipe on the blog! I cook a lot, but tend to only post about baking. I say this is a baking blog because that is my passion and that’s what you’ll get most of the time. However I’ve recently learned/confirmed that life is crazy and unexpected- so I decided to shake things up a bit and post a CHICKEN recipe (whoaaaaa). It really is nothing special, but a solid recipe and great for a quick weeknight meal.
Chicken Thighs
  • 4 Chicken Thighs – bone in, skin on
  • 2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 3 large cloves Garlic, sliced
  • Salt & Pepper

Pasta

  • 1 lb Capellini Pasta
  • Olive Oil
  • 3 Tbsp reserved chicken fat
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 3 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 4 Tbsp jar of Capers, drained
  • 1 jar of Artichoke Hearts, sliced
  • 1 Lemon, sliced
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • 1 C White wine
  • ½ C Chicken stock or broth
  • Parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms
Instructions
Chicken Thighs
  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp of vegetable oil in a large pan over low-medium heat. Add the garlic slices and slowly saute until fragrant. Be patient- it’s worth it! Let the garlic really seep into the oil. edited_915
  3. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and then add them the pan, skin-side down. Let the chicken thighs cook approximately 8-10 minutes — until the skin has turned golden in color.edited_917
  4. Turn off the heat. Prepare an oven-proof dish with foil. Place the chicken breasts skin side down, and put in the oven. Bake for 12 minutes and then flip the chicken over.
  5. Bake the chicken, skin side up, for about 5 minutes, or until the skin is crispy and caramel colored.
  6. Remove the chicken and set aside to rest

Pasta

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until just al dente. Drain the pasta and toss with some olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking.
  2. In the stove pan, heat back up the reserved rendered chicken fat and extra garlic oil. If your garlic is starting to burn, take it out and set aside. I added a little more garlic at this point but that’s optional- I love garlic.
  3. Add the the capers, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, sliced lemon and salt. Saute for another few minutes until the capers and artichokes just start to show some color and the mushrooms are darkening. (not pictured: mushrooms)edited_920
  4. Add half of the white wine, making sure to scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan.
  5. Add the rest of the white wine and the chicken stock and bring the sauce to a simmer.
  6. Simmer the broth until it reduces by half and begins to thicken. Add chopped parsley. edited_921
  7. Add the pasta to the pan and stir or toss to fully coat all the strands with the sauce.
  8. Serve the pasta and the chicken thighs together, garnished with the remaining lemon slices and pine nuts. edited_923edited_922

Just a little food porn…

We had a small happy hour at our apartment this past week that turned out really nicely. I was in way too much of a rush to take pictures (always my problem!) but it was too cute to not post. First things first, THESE TOMATOES. As delicious as they are pretty. edited_860

This is a go-to quick recipe my mom used to make for dinner parties. It is always such a hit, I’m embarrassed to say how effortless it is. 8 oz cream cheese + 1/2 cup raspberry chipotle sauce!edited_861

Second on the menu was prosciutto & goat cheese toasts with a blackberry ginger balsamic. I picked up the balsamic this weekend while I was in St. Michaels, Maryland. It was super rainy so there was nothing to do but shop!edited_865 edited_867edited_872edited_877

Third, I made rosemary parmesan foccacia bread. The bread flour is a necessity in my pantry lately. Also, pantry is a loose term- more like hoarding space where I fit as much as I can into a cabinet without causing a food avalanche.  The dried rosemary didn’t flavor the bread as well as I hoped, but I didn’t have any fresh. Never again!edited_874

Our wonderful landlord sent us this cookie delivery from Captain Cookie and the Milkman in DC. Wish I could say I made these beauties, but I just ate them instead 🙂edited_876

Lastly- onion dip with veggies!edited_879

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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Strawberry Balsamic Jam with Vanilla & Bourbon

YES. This recipe is one of my new favorites. It started out with a wonderful strawberry picking adventure Saturday morning, and then I set out to make a small batch of strawberry jam. Since it was a low pressure little project, I just started playing around with flavors….and it worked! I woke up this morning {cheated, went to the store and bought more strawberries} and tripled the recipe. For the past 24 hours we’ve put this on cheese and crackers, toast, in yogurt, and made a quick smoothie with it. On top of angel food cake or marinating chicken is going to be my next move.

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Ingredients: Makes three half-pint size jars

– 2 lb strawberries

– 1 1/4 cup sugar

– 2 tbsp lime juice

– 1 tbsp bourbon

– 2 tsp vanilla

– 2 tbsp balsamic {the good, quality kind. not balsamic vinegar! I used pomegranate balsamic from my favorite oil store…could that sentence sound more annoying?}

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1) Sprinkle 1 1/4 cup sugar over the strawberries and toss. Let sit for 10 minutes. Note: this recipe requires more sugar than others because it is pectin-free. I prefer to use real sugar because just a pinch too much pectin and you’ll have something closer to jell-o! edited_low546

2) Mash the strawberry and sugar mixture and let sit for 2 hours. Add vanilla. edited_low548

3) Put lemon juice at the bottom of a medium to large saucepan and heat on medium-high.

4) Add strawberry mixture, bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium.

5) After 15 minutes, add bourbon.

*now is a good time to prepare your jars*

5) Cook until the spoon test yields the texture you’re looking for.  My first batch was done in 30 minutes, my second batch cooked for 45 and was still a little runny. So totally depends on the batch you’re making!

6) When its ready, add the balsamic. edited_low549

Made some new recipe cards to give out with the jars of jam!edited_low534

Final product!

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Happy 30th Birthday, Discovery!

Many of you may find it weird that I baked birthday cakepops for a large, inanimate, corporation, but this company has given me so much in the past two years that it felt appropriate.

This year we are celebrating 30 years of Discovery, and we’re doing it big. There are decorations ALL over the building, employees from global offices are coming together to brainstorm for the future of our networks, and there’s this intangible sense of community wafting through the halls.

Enough sap. Here’s how to make some awesome cakepops:


1. Start with a baked cake, completely cooled. edited_517

2. Using a fork, tear the cake up. Avoid the edges, as it will get in the way of your cakeball and cause them to break. (I also avoid the bottom of the cake if it is even the slightest bit overcooked)edited_518

3. Add 1/3 cup frosting of your choice. I usually just use good ole’ duncan hines because it’s easy. There’s a debate that you can also use whole milk but I feel weird about leaving them out at room temp with milk.edited_519

4. Mash up into a ball. It shouldn’t look like a perfect moist ball, otherwise that means you used too much frosting and the sticks won’t stay inserted. The purpose is to have an evenly mixed cake/frosting mixture that will stick together.

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5. Take a chunk and (with clean hands!!!!) squeeze to tightly pack them. Roll into balls in the palm of your hands and set on parchment paper.

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6. Melt chocolate wafers at 50% heat in a mug or bowl.

7. Somehow forgot to take a picture of this, but dip the sticks into the melted chocolate and gently stick them in each cakepop, about 1/2-3/4 of the way in. Refrigerate cakepops for 20 minutes, then take them out and let them come back to room temperature (about 15 min)

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8. Decorate! See video above

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A New Year, A New Challah Recipe

After a week of working late every night, and 3 consecutive failed attempts to make apple custard, I decided to keep it simple this weekend and make Challah. I got this new recipe from my cousin. However she is a mother of four, and I am a mother of zero, so naturally I decided to halve the recipe. Here is the recipe that makes two beautiful Challot:

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Ingredients:
– 2.5 cups of warm water
– 1.5 teaspoon fast-rise yeast (one & a half packets)
– 2.5 LB of bread flour (POUNDS, NOT CUPS)
– 1 cup sugar
– 1/2 cup oil
– 2 eggs
– dash of salt

Directions:

1) Mix warm water and yeast and let sit for 10 minutes until yeast bubbles form
2) In a separate bowl, mix all of the remaining ingredients
3) Add yeast/water mixture. If using an electric mixer, wait for dough to pull away from the sides.
4) Take dough and knead with floured hands. Knead A LOT (10-15 min).
5) Let rise in a well-greased bowl for 4-5 hours.
6) Punch down dough and (if needed) add flour to make the dough silky. Should be tacky but not sticking to your fingers.
7) Split dough in half, then each half into thirds. Braid two loaves.
8) Brush egg wash mixed with 2 tsp honey onto the braided dough. Cover with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or whatever you please!

Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.

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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