Monday, April 30, 2012

Dulce De Leche Macarons

Things have been pretty hectic for me as of late. I've been baking more than ever- just not posting about it!
Since Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner, I wanted to share these Dulce de Leche french macarons with you. I made my dulce de leche from scratch, but you can also buy it.
For the Macaron Shells (makes about 35 cookie shells)
3/4 cup almond flour
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 egg whites (separated and left on the counter for at least 24 hours)
Small pinch cream of tartar
A few drops of gold and one drop of orange food coloring

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Sift almond flour and confectioner's sugar 2 times. Set aside. Whisk egg whites on low-medium until foamy. Add a small pinch of cream of tartar. Whisk on medium-high until whites are whipped and have soft peaks. Slowly add in 1/4 cup sugar and food coloring, continuously whisking until whites form stiff peaks.

TIP: Whites should form a peak on the whisk attachment, but should not be whisked to the point that they are too stiff to fall off the whisk when tapped on the mixing bowl.

Sift dry ingredients over egg whites in three parts- do not stir, but fold gently with a rubber spatula into egg whites. Continue folding batter until it "ribbons" off rubber spatula. Scoop batter into a 14-16 inch pastry bag fitted with a medium round tip. Pipe circles onto parchment paper lined baking sheets (or use silpat). After piping, hit baking sheet on the counter a few times to remove air bubbles. Allow cookies to sit for 15-30 minutes before baking so that they form a protective "skin." This step also helps to avoid cracking. Allow shells to fully cool before filling.
For best taste, allow macarons to meld with filling at least overnight and preferably 1-2 days.

For the Dulce de Leche filling:
Combine a generous cup of dulce de leche with 3/4 stick butter in bowl of stand mixer.
Using whisk attachment, beat on high until mixture is combined and is a whipped consistency.
 Using a pastry bag, pipe a small amount of filling on one side of each cookie and sandwich together

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Hello Kitty Cake

This week I made a Hello Kitty Birthday Cake for a friend of a friend's little girl.  I was pretty happy with how it turned out, since it was my first time making a gum paste figurine.  I tried and tried to find a tutorial on how to make a Hello Kitty one, but it seems to be a trend for cake artists to simply film YouTube videos of their finished cake!  Since after about 3 minutes of panning around and around the same cake, I was no closer to having a Hello Kitty completed, I set out and figured it out on my own.  I was quite pleased with the results.  I even made a mini fondant cupcake of her own.

The actual cake is chocolate filled with a light chocolate mousse and topped with a pink swiss meringue buttercream.  I am still nervous about and in the process of mastering writing on cakes, so you can see I mussed up the top a bit in the process.

I'm baking up some more Cinco De Mayo themed treats this weekend...stay tuned for Dulce de Leche Macarons.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Ombre Margarita Layer Cake

Have you ever seen this shower curtain from Anthropologie?  

It's called the Flamenco shower curtain and I fell in love with it at first sight.  Alas, I have yet to have purchased anything from Anthropologie at full price and, to my disappointment, our apartment shower has a single glass door and no need for a curtain.  

This cake is margarita flavored- margarita cake layers filled with an orange lime curd and topped with a slightly salty swiss meringue buttercream.  I thought this design would fit the flavor perfectly.  

For the Margarita Cake Layers (makes 3 7-inch layer cakes) 
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature 
2 cups, plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar 
4 large eggs, plus 1 white at room temperature 
3 tbsp lime zest 
3 tbsp orange zest 
3 cups GF flour (3/4 cup white rice flour, 1 cup sweet rice flour,  3/4 cup potato starch, 1/2 cup sorghum flour) 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1 teaspoon kosher salt 
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice 
2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice 
3/4 cup sour cream, room temperature 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease three pans and line each with a circle of parchment paper.

Sift baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flours together.  Set aside.  Cream together butter and sugar.  Add eggs and egg white one at a time.  Mix until fully combined.  Add lime zest, orange zest, and vanilla extract.  

Add in 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix, alternating with sour cream.  Mix until fully combined, but do not overmix.  Pour batter evenly into each pan, smoothing the top.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until cake springs back to touch. 

For the Lime Orange Curd Adapted from Barefoot Contessa's Lemon Curd Recipe
  • 3 limes
  • 1 medium sized orange
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 extra-large eggs
  • 1/4 cup, plus 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest of 3 limes and one orange. Put the zest in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the sugar and pulse until the zest is fine and incorporated into the sugar.
Cream the butter and beat in the sugar and lemon mixture. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the orange and lime juice and salt. Mix until combined.
Pour the mixture into a 2 quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and cool.  Refrigerator until fully cold and thickened.  
For the Margarita Simple Syrup:
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp Triple Sec or Cointreau Liquor 
3 tsp good quality Tequila (I used Milagro)
1/4 cup sugar
Combine sugar and liquids into small sauce pan.  Heat until sugar is fully dissolved. Cool and set aside.
For the Salted Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
5 egg whites
3 3/4 sticks butter, unsalted
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp Triple Sec or Cointreau Liquor
3 tsp Tequila
3 tbsp lime juice
Heat water in a saucepan until simmering.  Combine egg whites, kosher salt, and sugar in the metal bowl of a Kitchen Aid mixer. Create a "double boiler" by placing mixing bowl inside pan with simmering water.  Whisk continuously until mixture reaches 160 degrees on a candy thermometer.  
Place bowl back onto stand mixer and mix egg whites/sugar with whisk attachment until fully cooled and thick.  While the mixer is running, cut butter into small cubes.  After mixture is cooled, add butter little by little, mixing well after each addition.  

Once butter is fully incorporated, switch to a paddle attachment and mix for another 2-3 minutes.  Add  vanilla, Triple Sec, Tequila, and lime juice.  Mix until fully incorporated.

To Assemble:
Once cake layers are fully cooled, brush each with simple syrup and divide curd evenly between two middle cake layers.  Refrigerate cake for an hour, or place in the freezer for 15 minutes prior to frosting.  Lightly frost entire cake with white swiss meringue buttercream.  Set aside a bit of white swiss meringue buttercream for frosting top of cake.

Using a toothpick, add a very small amount of Wilton "Leaf Green" gel food coloring (or another comparable shade of green).  Mix using stand mixer until desired light green color is reached. Fit a pastry bag with a coupler and petal tip.  Holding pastry bag perp straight down, with the narrow part of the petal tip facing you, make a side by side motion to create ruffles.  Once the light green ruffles have been formed around the cake, create the aqua shade.  Add a bit of blue food coloring until desired color is reached.  Repeat another layer of ruffles under the first, using the same motion.  Add a bit more blue and green food coloring until darker aqua color is achieved.  Do last layer of ruffles, finishing at the bottom of the cake.  

If desired, use  remaining white buttercream to create top layer ruffles.  Create the ruffles by making a side by side motion, with the wide part of the tip facing you this time.   I also sprinkled some white sugar sprinkles onto the center, unruffled white portion of the cake.  It created a cute effect and nice texture (very margarita-y).

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mini Peanut Butter Fudge Mousse Cakes

Mr. Pixie Crust and I took a weekend trip with some friends for their birthday this Saturday and had a fun- packed weekend of wine tasting and other adventures. When we got back to L.A. yesterday, though, it was really nice to be home and relax the rest of the weekend. After taking a 3 hour nap on the couch, I whipped up these little guys. They are pretty rich and delicious. The best part is that they're super easy- after mixing up the filling, you simply leave them in the pan to set overnight.

For the Chocolate Crust: 
-6 oz gluten free chocolate wafers or sandwich cookies
-3 tbsp butter Grease mini cheesecake pan and set aside.

Place cookies in bowl of food processor and grind until they are a fine powder. Pour crushed cookies into a large bowl. Melt 3 tbsp butter and add to cookies. Stir until mixture is coated and moistened. Place a heaping 1/2 tbsp of crust into each cavity of pan and press into bottom of pan until smooth and even. Bake for 5-7 minutes at 350 degrees and allow to cool until room temperature.

For the Peanut Butter Mousse:
1/4 cup cold coffee
1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
6 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar

Place coffee in a shallow microwave safe bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over it and set aside for five minute until gelatin blooms. Microwave bloomed gelatin mixture for 10 seconds and stir until no lumps remain. Set aside. Combine cream cheese, peanut butter, and sugar in a bowl and beat until smooth. Set aside. Place heavy cream into a stand mixer bowl fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on high until medium peaks form. Set aside. Add one tablespoon of gelatin into peanut butter/cream cheese mixture at a time and gently fold to combine. Add heavy cream mixture and fold to combine. Place mixture in a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip and pipe into wells. Refrigerate overnight for best result. For smooth and even sides, use an offset spatula and run it along the edge of the removable bottom before lifting out.

Note The chocolate topping is extra chocolate swiss meringue buttercream I had on hand. I would recommend topping with a lightly sweetened whipped cream drizzled with melted chocolate or ganache.