Monday, June 29, 2015

Doughnut Cake

This cake.  I mean, have you ever had a doughnut cake?  It's quite literally, a cake made of doughnuts.  If this wasn't a thing before, here is its moment.

It was a few weeks ago when my husband left town for five days to visit his parents, but as I was overwhelmed with work and couldn't take any vacation, I stayed home.  So for his return, I had to make a special dessert.  I've never known anyone who loves doughnuts as much as he does, and I just knew that finally, it was the moment for a doughnut cake.

He even got his own little mini doughnut cake on a teeny tiny cake stand.  I want to serve everything on that little cake stand.

There are layers of soft, melt-in-your-mouth glazed doughnuts - which, no, I didn't make myself this time; but everything except the doughnuts I made from scratch.  Spoonfuls of homemade vanilla bean custard fill all the nooks and crannies between the doughnuts.  Fluffy salted vanilla buttercream separate each layer of doughnuts.  Big flakes of natural coconut add crunch and texture.  And rich chocolate ganache tops it all off.

It's completely customizable with your own flavor combinations of custard and buttercream.  What about jam instead of custard, paired with salted chocolate buttercream?  Or lemon custard with a beautifully pink raspberry buttercream?

And while I sprinkled it with coconut for crunch, there is always toffee bits, or crushed nuts, or even cereal!  Or salty crispy bacon!  There is a doughnut shop here in town that tops their doughnuts with sugar cereal instead of sprinkles.  They're pretty fantastic.

Each slice of this cake is a beautiful mess.  A tangle of fried dough, velvety custard and buttercream that melts on your tongue.  Not to mention the silky chocolate ganache.

Doughnut Cake

  • 9 large doughnuts
  • vanilla bean custard (recipe below)
  • salted vanilla buttercream (recipe below), or any other flavor buttercream
  • natural coconut, crushed nuts, toffee bits, sprinkles, etc, for a crunchy element
  • ganache (recipe below)
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon meringue powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons cream
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 4 ounces heavy whipping cream
(Make one day in advance.)
In a saucepan, whisk together the milk, cream, vanilla, sugar, corn starch and egg yolks.  Whisking constantly, cook over medium low heat, until the custard thickens, then continue cooking for one more minute.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter.  Pour through a mesh strainer to remove any bits of cooked egg, then cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter for one minute.  Add the powdered sugar and meringue powder and mix on low to combine.  Add the vanilla, salt and cream, and whip on medium high for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.

(Make right before assembling).
Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl.  Warm the cream in a saucepan over low heat, just until it simmers around the edges.  Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate.  Let stand for 3 minutes, then stir until smooth and shiny.

Cut 6 of the doughnuts in half for a total of 12 halves, and keep 3 whole.  There will be 3 layers of cake, each with 1 whole doughnut and 4 halves. Place a whole doughnut in the center of a 10-inch cake board, using a little buttercream under the doughnut to adhere it to the cake board.  Arrange 4 halves around the sides.  Spoon 1/3 of the chilled custard into all the cracks and crevices.  Sprinkle with some of the coconut or whatever topping you're using for texture and crunch.  Pipe 1/3 of the buttercream on top of the doughnuts.

Repeat with a 2nd and 3rd layer of doughnuts, custard and buttercream.

Pour the ganache over the top, letting it drip over the sides.  Top with the coconut or other toppings before the ganache sets.  Refrigerate for an hour before serving.

This cake is best served the same day it's assembled, since doughnuts become rather stale after a day or two, but it's still good the second day, since the custard will keep the doughnuts moist.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

    Wednesday, June 24, 2015

    Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies with Strawberry Rhubarb Sorbet

    Let me tell you about the best little cookie ice cream sandwich you'll ever put in your mouth...

    But first, let's talk about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

    It's rare that I eat them anymore, but when I do, my tastes are very specific.  Hearty bread, to start, and it must be toasted.  Something about the crunchy, warm bread that allows the soft peanut butter to melt against it and ooze out the sides that makes it so irresistible.

    And the jam.  Preferably homemade, whole fruit preserves such as strawberry or peach, but orange marmalade is delicious, too.  With something salty, sweet, crunchy and creamy, it has everything I want.

    Now, imagine a frozen, dessert version of your favorite peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and you can start to imagine how fantastic this ice cream sandwich is.

    I started by baking chewy peanut butter oatmeal cookies, sprinkled with coarse sea salt.  I love how the crunch of the oats adds a nice hearty texture, similar to a thick slice of dense, grainy bread.

    And for the ice cream, I made homemade strawberry rhubarb sorbet.  It was the first sorbet I've ever made, and it turned out so beautifully.  Smooth and creamy, sweet but tart, full of the flavors of these hot summer days.

    Strawberry Rhubarb Sorbet

    • 2 cups diced rhubarb
    • 1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
    • 2 1/2 cups water
    • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
    • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    In a stockpot, combine the rhubarb, strawberries, water, sugar and corn syrup.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for about five minutes until the sugar is dissolved and the rhubarb is softened.  Pour the mixture into a blender and add the vanilla; puree until perfectly smooth.  Chill overnight in the refrigerator, then churn in your ice cream maker according the the manufacturer's instructions.  Transfer to a container and freeze until firm, about 4-6 hours.

    Yields about 2 quarts.

    Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

      Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

      • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter (not all-natural)
      • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
      • 1/2 cup brown sugar
      • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for rolling
      • 1 egg
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla
      • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
      • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
      • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
      • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
      • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
      In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the peanut butter, butter and both sugars until light and fluffy for about five minutes.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.

      In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients, then add them by spoonfuls to the mixing bowl, mixing just until moistened.  Dough will be thick, and should just hold together.  Chill for several hours.

      Preheat the oven to 375.  Roll the dough into balls, coat them in the extra granulate sugar, and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Flatten the cookies with the back of a fork, and sprinkle with a little more salt.  Bake for 7 1/2 minutes, until pale golden.  Cool for several minutes on the baking sheet, then carefully transfer to a wire rack and cool completely before filling with the sorbet.

      Yields about 2 1/2 - 3 dozen cookies

      Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

        Sunday, June 21, 2015

        Coconut Cake with Ganache, Shaved Coconut and Candied Ginger

        New cakes pans are always so exciting, and I bought the cutest little 4-inch pans, as well as some 2-inch ones, which really are too small to use for much of anything, but adorable nonetheless.  The 4-inch pans, though, were begging to be used with my 6-inch pans for a two-tier cake, that looks much bigger in these photos than it really was.

        So just to try out my new pans, I baked a light and fluffy coconut cake, which I frosted with snowy coconut buttercream.

        Rich chocolate ganache, dripping from both tiers, added so much drama, and I garnished the cake with natural, unsweetened shaved coconut and bits of sugary crystallized ginger.  The unexpected heat and sharpness of the ginger contrasted beautifully with the sweet buttercream and creamy chocolate.

        You may wonder what I do with all this cake when I bake just for fun and practice, and the truth is, I give most of it away.  Many cakes come to work with me or my husband, but this one I ended up gifting to the neighbors.

        I still have stacks of small take-home boxes left from our wedding last fall, so minutes after I photographed this pretty cake, I cut it all into pieces and divided it up between boxes to give to the neighbors and invite them to our house-warming party.

        It seemed a shame to cut it all up, but after all, I bake treats to be enjoyed and not just looked at.  But this lovely vintage glass cake stand which a friend gave to me - I could look at that all day.

        Coconut Cake with Ganache, Coconut and Candied Ginger

        • 1 box white cake mix
        • 3 eggs
        • 1 can (14 ounces) unsweetened, full fat coconut milk
        • 1 teaspoon vanilla
        • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
        • 1/2 cup shaved natural coconut
        • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
        • 3 cups powdered sugar
        • 1 tablespoon meringue powder
        • 2 teaspoons coconut extract
        • 3 tablespoons cream or whole milk
        Ganache and Garnish.
        • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
        • 5 ounces heavy whipping cream
        • shaved natural coconut
        • crystallized/candied ginger, chopped

        Preheat the oven to 350.  Grease three 6-inch pans and two 4-inch pans to make the cake pictured above (alternatively, you can make this recipe in three 8-inch pans for a standard sized 1-tier cake).

        Whisk all the ingredients for the cake until well blended.  Divide the batter between the pans and bake for about 15-17 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely on wire racks; cover the pans loosely with clean kitchen towels while cooling.

        Beat the butter in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment for 1-2 minutes until smooth.  With the mixer on low, add the powdered sugar and meringue powder until combined.  Add the coconut extract and cream, then whip on medium high speed until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

        Fill, stack and frost the cakes with the buttercream, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

        Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl.  Warm the cream over low heat, just until it simmers around the edges, then pour the hot cream over the chocolate.  Let sit for 3 minutes, then stir with a spatula until smooth and shiny.

        Spoon the ganache onto the the bottom tier, working around the cake, letting it run over the sides, then pour ganache on top.

        Garnish the cake with the coconut and ginger, before the ganache sets.

        Yields about 15-20 servings

        Recipe and Design from Curly Girl Kitchen

        Wednesday, June 17, 2015

        Raspberry Chocolate Chip Streusel Muffins

        The morning after our house warming party, which came on the heels of weeks months! of exhausting work on our house, we took a much-needed break.  After sleeping in, and then finishing the cleanup from the party the night before - the cleanup not being nearly as fun as one might think - we closed the curtains, snuggled on the couch and enjoyed a movie day in our pajamas.

        I had baked about a thousand cookies two days before, all of which were completely demolished at the party, and my feet were still aching.  But on the weekends, I can't help my urge to bake and style photo shoots of my baked goods.

        It didn't take long to mix up these muffins, and their sweet fragrance, along with the scent of brewing coffee, filled the house with lovely aromas for our day of relaxation.

        The muffins were light and subtly sweet, with the texture of coffee cake.  The tart raspberries melted into the batter, creating juicy bursts of fruit throughout to complement the dark chocolate chips.  And crumbly streusel topping is always my favorite way to finish a muffin.  Everything is better with streusel, really.

        I admit, I went on a little bit of a shopping spree at Shop Sweet Lulu.  But who could resist all these pretty things when there was a sale?  Their new "It's a Party" line is just too cute for words, and the berry baskets and little wooden spoons with bows are probably my favorite thing right now.  And those ballerinas dancing on a jade green cake stand?  I'm in love.

        And fresh berries taste so much sweeter when served in a dainty basket, I think.

        Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  This means that I may make a small commission if you make a purchase using those links.  This in no way affects my opinion of those products and services.  All opinions expressed on this site are my own.

        Raspberry Chocolate Chip Streusel Muffins

        • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
        • 2 teaspoons baking powder
        • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
        • 1/4 teaspoon salt
        • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
        • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
        • 2 eggs
        • 2 teaspoons vanilla
        • 1 cup whole milk
        • 1 heaping cup fresh raspberries
        • 2/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
        • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
        • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
        • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
        • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
        • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
        Preheat the oven to 375 and line a muffin pan with 12 liners.  In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and milk.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk just until moistened.  Fold in the raspberries and chocolate chips.  Divide the batter between the muffin cups, filling them nearly full.

        In a small bowl, use a pastry cutter to combine the streusel ingredients until moist and crumbly.  Scatter over the batter.

        Bake for 17-22 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 5 minutes, then serve warm.  The muffins will keep for several days, stored at room temperature in an airtight container.

        Yields 12 muffins

        Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen