Tuesday, April 23, 2013

brown butter cake. espresso buttercream. apricot. almond mascarpone cream

well crap. 
this took longer than anticipated, but i have cake for you. 

like a lot of cake. 
i wish i could shoot all these cakes from a cannon off my roof into your house. 

one time i wanted to start Street Cake. it's probably one of the best worst ideas i've had. 
essentially it's street art but with dessert. like leaving cupcakes in nooks and crannies all around town. 

i got excited about it for exactly 2 minutes before realizing it would just end up being a strange social experiment. 

would you consider eating a random cake left on your front porch? 
what if i lined up a bunch of cupcakes across the sidewalk? what then?

i don't know. i just wanted to be a part of street art. 
i guess it's just back to bake sales. i've never even had a bake sale. travesties!

"ENOUGH. get to the cake", said someone. 

in mi opiniĆ³n, every flavor and texture component in a cake should serve a purpose. 

it's just like accounting balance sheets. 
something heavy should be met with something light. something rich balanced with something tart, fresh, or salty. 
and nothing, Nothing, will feel sickeningly sweet. 

so here is a clean and simple buttery cake base. 
the rich espresso buttercream filling is cut with the brightness of apricot preserves. 
the almond mascarpone cream is a bit tangy and super light. 
creamy dreamy. 
and the toasted almonds = prettiness and cRunCH. 

it's creamy dreamy. things are balanced all over the place. can this just count for doing my taxes?

Barely Brown Butter Cake 

things about this cake: 
this was my first time making momofuku's 'barely brown butter cake'. It worked splendidly for this cake, especially because it's the perfect size for a 6 inch layer cake, but I will say that it isn't my favorite crumb of all time. i want my cake MOIST (muaha, sorry). and this cake, though tasty, was a touch drier than i would prefer.  this could also very well be a result of other variables.. my wacko oven, baking time, something weird i did, etc, but i can't know for sure until i try it again. i just would never want to lead you astray. 
i will write the recipe as it's written, but i totally encourage using your favorite basic white/yellow cake as the base for this cake. 

4 tbsp (55g) unsalted butter
2 tbsp (40g) brown butter
1 1/4 cups (250g) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (60g) light brown sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup (110g) buttermilk
1/3 cup (65g) grapeseed oil
1/2 tsp (2g) vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (185g) cake flour
1 tsp (4g) baking powder
1 tsp (4g) kosher salt

preheat the oven to 350 degreesF. combine butters and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2-3 minutes. scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and mix on medium-high for 2-3 minutes. scrape sides once more. 
stream in buttermilk, oil, and vanilla while the paddle swirls on low speed. increase the speed to medium-high and paddle 5-6 minutes, until the mixture is practically white, twice the size of your original fluffy butter-sugar mixture, and completely homogenous. if it doesn't look right after 6 minutes, just keep mixing. 
stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. 
on very low speed, add the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. mix for 45-60 seconds, just until the batter comes together and any remnants of dry ingredients have been incorporated. scrape down the sides of the bowl. mix on low speed for another 45 seconds to ensure that any little lumps of cake flour are incorporated 
pam spray a quarter sheet pan and line it with parchment. using a spatula, spread cake batter in an even layer in the pan. bake for 30-35 minutes. the cake will rise and puff, doubling in size, but will remain slightly buttery and dense. take the cake out of the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Espresso Buttercream

1 cup (8 oz) salted butter, room temperature
2 1/2cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 1/2 tbsp instant espresso powder
2 tsp vanilla extract

in a small bowl, add the espresso powder to the heavy cream and stir to dissolve. in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until creamy and smooth. add in the powdered sugar a bit at a time, beat to combine. add in the espresso/cream mixture and vanilla extract. and beat until combined and fluffy. taste and adjust to your flavor preferences.

Almond Mascarpone Cream

8 ounces mascarpone cheese
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tsp almond extract

in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine all ingredients and beat just until stiff peaks form. 

Also need: 1/2 cup apricot preserves
toasted almond slices


To Assemble:
1st layer cake
apricot preserves
espresso buttercream
2nd layer cake
apricot preserves
espresso buttercream
3rd layer cake
almond mascarpone cream to cover top and sides
press toasted almonds into sides

 see more on the momofuku method for assembling cake here

Friday, April 12, 2013

things and things

< squash buns. like sweet little hawaiian rolls, but better. >

these two pictures resemble each other. 

the most creative thing i did all day was write a haiku about an apple.

a juicy fuji
surely i will count on you
to brighten the night

i also come to you tonight, with a warning.
a warning of what might soon invade this space.
Cake is soon to bombard, come thrashing through my kitchen, baking powder everywhere.
it will consume my whole dessert brain, and take no prisoners.*

cake. i am making a wedding cake. i have never made someone's wedding cake.
this wedding is fast approaching. whoa, what?! i need to get my cake baking skillz together, like now.

so. i hope you like cake..
ha, bitch please, of course you like cake.

*i don't quite know what that last prisoners part meant, but i'm rolling with it.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

brown butter hazelnut brownies

1. bonjour!
2. i am seriously overwhelmed
3. lists make things feel less complicated
4. great.
5. i made brownies and they are way too good not to share.
6. i'm figuratively shouting from the rooftop (from a coffee shop) how amazeballs the brownies are.
7. if you just flinched a little when you read that, then we're on the same page. i will never say amazeballs ever again.

8. the brownies are like hazelnutty gooey fudge bliss.
9. they are gluten free by nature, if that sort of thing floats your fancy.
10. there is browning of butter.
11. i love you.
12. there is chopping up dark awesome chocolate. no chocolate chips people.
13. there is toasting hazelnuts, and grinding them into a beautiful nibby flour.
14. it's clearly a more involved brownie.
15. but this is a way better brownie.
16. promise.

Brown Butter Hazelnut Brownies

16 ounces unsalted butter
12 ounces dark chocolate (65-72%), chopped
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, seeds reserved (or 2 tbsp vanilla extract)
7 ounces toasted hazelnuts, skins removed
4.5 ounces cocoa powder (NOT Hershey's)
6 eggs
21 ounces sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp instant coffee powder

preheat oven to 375 degreesF. 
line a 9x13 inch metal baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment (once strip down the middle and hanging over the ends will work perfect, this will help with removing the brownies from the pan.) 
melt the butter, along with the vanilla bean pod in a medium saucepan over low heat until liquefied. (if you are using vanilla extract, don't add it now. add it in later with the salt and espresso.)
crank up the heat to medium low. the mixture will bubble, there's no need to stir, just keep an eye on it and keep simmering until browned and bits at the bottom are brown (don't let them turn black!)
remove from the heat and add in the chocolate. whisk scraping the bottom to mix up the browned bits,  until smooth. set off the heat to cool. 
put the hazelnuts and cocoa in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground. set aside. 
with a stand mixer or hand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, combine the eggs, sugar, reserved vanilla seeds (or vanilla extract), salt and espresso powder. whip on medium speed for about 5 minutes. 
turn down the speed on the stand mixer to low and pour in the butter/chocolate mixture all at once. immediately add in the dry ingredients and keep mixing until incorporated. 
pour or spoon into the prepared pan. bake about 30-35 minutes, until slightly firm to the touch. they may not seem totally done when you pull them out, but this brownie is so dense that it will retain its head and keep cooking for a bit of time. err on the side of gooey. 
cool the brownies thoroughly before cutting or removing from pan. 
if you'd like extremely neat squares, chill in the refrigerator before cutting. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

grapefruit frozen yogurt

breakfasty things can get switched into dessert fast.
grapefruit. yogurt. oats.

it was late afternoon with the nice light and i sat around with my best gal pal and we ate this frozen yogurt out of the ice cream machine bowl.
ah, moments.

it was wonderfully good, and ridiculously simple.
it was inspired by pinkberry.
i think everyone ever should eat it.

alright. alright. alright. ok now ladies.

Grapefruit Frozen Yogurt
modified from here

2 cups greek yogurt
1 large pink grapefruit, zest and juice (about 2/3 cup juice)
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup half and half 

mix everything in a bowl. pour into bowl of ice cream ma
chine and churn according to maker's instruction.  

for honey toasted oats, mix a little honey with a dab of melted coconut oil. toast in an oven at 350 degreesF for a few minutes.