Category Archives: cake

Day 12 of Baker’s Dozen: Cranberry Brioche Coffee Cake

Surely you are all done with your holiday shopping, right? Yesterday, maybe not, but today, definitely, right? No? Well, there are quite a few stores that still guarantee holiday delivery. One happens to be my favorite baking store, Sur La Table (hint hint). Not only do they have an amazing baking supply, like these great paper baking pans, but they also have a fantastic selection of adorable foodie ornaments, which I plan on shopping for at After Christmas Sales (another favorite!).

And those paper baking pans would be perfect for today’s recipe, Cranberry Brioche Coffee Cake, which would make an amazing gift and earn you a few BFFs. Who wouldn’t love a beautiful coffee cake for a gift? Bonus: I used the Sugared Cranberries in addition to dried cranberries. Yum. And just another reason to love brioche, as if we needed another reason, right?

This recipe is one that can be very easily adapted to suit your needs. Don’t like cranberries? No problem, just add any fruit that you like. Want to make several smaller cakes? Easy.  You don’t even need to use this brioche recipe. There are a ton to chose from (just a quick google search brought up Epicurious, Food Network) or maybe you have your own that you like.

And the great thing about brioche is the dough freezes very well until you are ready for it. Maybe you want this coffee cake for Sunday morning. You could make the dough today, freeze it, take it out Saturday to thaw, and have this coffee cake in time for brunch with very little work. Or, even better, you could make it Saturday because it tastes better the next day.

This recipe came from the most recent issue of King Arthur Flour’s Baking Sheet, which I received as a housewarming gift from a dear friend (many thanks!!). However, I made a few adjustments, and I used my trusted brioche recipe and not theirs, although I’m sure it’s great and would work just fine. Enjoy!

Cranberry Brioche Coffee Cake

Adapted from King Arthur Flour’s The Baking Sheet, Holiday 2011

Yield: 1 8 inch coffee cake

Difficulty: Easy to Medium

Prep time: About 45 minutes hands on, 12+ hours for resting dough, 35 minutes for baking

Ingredients

Procedure

1. Soak the dried fruit in the alcohol or juice overnight, or microwave for 30 seconds. Note: the alcohol does not cook off completely and still has a distinct flavor. If you don’t like this, I recommend using half alcohol and half juice, or all juice. Drain before using.

2. Make the brioche recipe of your choice and have ready before rising (this does not refer to the freezing and overnight chilling if your recipe calls for that). Scale out about 500 g (17 oz) and press into a buttered 8 inch pan. I used a spring form pan but any pan will work. If you want to make mini coffee cakes, just scale out enough dough for the mini pans. If you want a bigger cake, use more brioche.

3. Let rise until puffy, preferably in a warm spot like your oven (turned off!). It took a good hour for mine because the dough was still cold and my house is chilly. If your recipe doesn’t call for any chilling, this may not take as long. Preheat oven to 400F (but take the dough out before preheating if you were proofing it in the oven).

4. Once puffy, lightly dimple the dough, but do not deflate it. Pour the cream over the dough (if using a spring form pan then make sure it is sitting on a sheet pan), then the sugar, and then the drained dried fruit. Alternately, you can lightly kneed the fruit into the dough before putting in the pan, and sprinkle a few extra on top. If you are using the sugared cranberries I’d recommend pulsing them in a food processor first.

5. Bake in preheated oven until golden and a thermometer reads 190F in the center. It took about 30 minutes for my cake. The original recipe says 23 minutes, which wasn’t long enough. Let cool completely or ideally overnight before serving. Enjoy with a cup of coffee!

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Day 9 of Baker’s Dozen: Sticky Toffee Pudding

A couple months ago I had never heard of sticky toffee pudding. I first learned about this British treat when watching Unique Sweets. I think they called it sticky date pudding and I had trouble finding a decent recipe. Since the holidays kicked into full gear though, it is everywhere. Everywhere! It’s the new thing. And for good reason – it is a tasty and very unique treat. Not overly sweet, fruity, and a great change from all the typical holiday treats!

After searching recipes I finally decided on one from King Arthur since their recipe used figs. Its not terribly different and substituting dates to make it more traditional would be perfectly fine. But I love figs so this was the recipe for me.

You’ll notice that this doesn’t look like American pudding. It’s definitely a cake but called pudding across the pond. Pudding can also be savory, like Yorkshire pudding. Here pudding is more closely associated with pastry cream.

It’s pretty quick to make and easy too. The caramel sauce takes a while but is easy. I spiked both my cake and sauce, because, well, it’s the holidays, and why not? Figs go great with oranges so I added grand marnier to my cake and put a bit of dark rum in the caramel sauce. Have fun this holiday season!

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Yield: 6 to 8 individual cakes

Difficulty: Easy

Cake

  • 1 cup chopped figs or chopped dried dates
  • 1/3  cup + 3 TB boiling water
  • 2 TB Grand Marnier or orange juice
  • ¼ cup soft butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 TB dark molasses
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cake flour or AP Flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

Sauce

  • ½ cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt; omit if using salted butter
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp dark rum, optional

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter six ¾-cup silicone baking cups or oven-safe custard cups. Combine the figs and boiling water, and liqueur if using, and set aside.

2. Beat the 1/4 cup butter, brown sugar, salt, and baking powder until fluffy. Beat in the egg, then the molasses and vanilla, then the flour.

3. Purée the figs and water in a food processor or blender. Add the baking soda, and stir into the batter.

4. Pour into the prepared baking cups. Place molds on a baking sheet.

5. Bake the cakes for 18 to 22 minutes, until a cake springs back when lightly pressed in the center. Remove from the oven, and cool in the molds or cups.

6. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Cook the sugar, butter, and salt over medium heat until the mixture is a deep amber color; watch closely to prevent burning. It should take about 10 minutes.

7. Carefully mix in the cream. Cook the mixture until it’s thick enough to coat a spoon. This will take another 5 to 10 minutes. Add the rum, if using.

8. Unmold the cakes and serve with the sauce.

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Bon Appetit Blackberry Buttermilk Cake

I’m obviously on a Bon Appetit kick.  This recipe is in the most recent issue, July 2011, in the berry special. I was crazy about the berry special in the first place and then I saw this treat.  It was 96 degrees the day I made this cake, which obviously is a great day to turn on the oven for an hour. You may think I’m crazy, but who could possibly resist a beautiful blackberry buttermilk cake? Not me, and it was worth the extra sweat to dig into this scrumptious summertime cake. And it is easy. Really easy. Yes, it bakes for a long time and heats up your kitchen. But it is worth it. This cake would be perfect of a summer BBQ/potluck type of event. No icing required and the fruit makes it healthy….right? I mean, doesn’t that look so delicious?

Oh, and one more thing. I got a new camera. That’s right, I finally got a DSLR,  Nikon D3100. No, I didn’t get it just to blog. I’ve been taking pictures of everything, but I do admit I am loving the improvement on my food pictures. I am just barely starting to learn how it works, and I have such a long way to go with staging. But, I’m still pleased with my improvement. What do you think?

Ok, on to the recipe!

Like I said, this recipe is very easy. I made it late in the afternoon and it was easily ready for dinner.

Blackberry Buttermilk Cake by Bon Appetit

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan and parchment
  • 2 1/3 cups cake flour (sifted, then measured) plus more for pan
  • 2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) fresh blackberries
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • Powdered sugar (for dusting)
  • special equipment:

    Use a 9″-10″-diameter springform pan

Preparation

  • Position a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350°. Butter pan; line bottom with a round of parchment paper. Butter parchment. Dust with flour; tap out excess. Arrange berries in a single layer in bottom of pan; sprinkle evenly with 1/4 cup sugar.

  • Sift 2 1/3 cups flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda into a medium bowl; set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat 3/4 cup butter and remaining 1 1/3 cups sugar in a large bowl at medium-high speed, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and zest. Reduce speed to low; beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating just until incorporated. Pour batter over berries in pan; smooth top.

Aren’t the orange specks pretty?

  • Bake until cake is golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour 25 minutes. Note: My cake only took 1 hr, 8 minutes. You will see in the reviews some only took 40 minutes. So watch very carefully! A tester should not be crumb free, that is too dry!   Let cool in pan set on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then run a thin, sharp knife around edge of pan to loosen. Remove pan sides. Invert cake onto rack and remove pan bottom; peel off parchment. Dust top generously with powdered sugar and let cool completely.

The easiest way to flip is to first undo the sides of the pan, then put a cake board (you can find them in the cake decorating section at Walmart and Michaels, along with a slew of other stores. Well worth the money!) on top of the cake and just flip! Then you have this:

Dust with powdered sugar and you are the hit of the party! Don’t forget to save a piece for yourself….

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Pound Cake

If you haven’t seen the Italy issue of Bon Appetit, leave now and go out and buy it. It is an issue you will want to keep for reference and it has so many great recipes. I’ve already become addicted to the basic tomato sauce that is on the cover.

But this is a baking blog, so let’s talk about this pound cake. It’s in the beginning of the magazine and the official name is “Brown Sugar and Chocolate Chip Pound Cake with Maple Espresso Glaze.” Whew, that’s a mouthful. I prefer to call it a Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake because, well, that is what it tastes like! A moist, delicious chocolate chip cookie disguised as a cake. I think it might be my new favorite. I even went out and bought a bundt cake pan just for this cake (with a Bed Bath and Beyond Coupon, I might add). And today everyone is waking up to the news that Osama Bin Laden has been killed by our Rock Star U.S. Military, so we need to do some celebrating. This cake will fit the bill.

It’s yummy, it’s easy, and it’s pretty. What more could you ask for in a cake?

The only change I made was I used only vanilla extract because I didn’t have any maple extract. But the maple in the glaze is subtle and just the right amount. I love the espresso specks in the glaze. Pretty, don’t you think? This cake would be a hit if you needed something for a potluck. You’ll be the star!

Brown Sugar and Chocolate Chip Pound Cake with Maple Espresso Glaze

from Bon Appetit

Ingredients

Cake

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 12-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 cups all purpose flour, setting aside 2 TB for chocolate chips plus additional for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon maple extract
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter 12-cup Bundt pan. Spray pan generously with nonstick spray. Dust pan lightly with flour.
2. Mix chocolate chips and 2 tablespoons flour in medium bowl. Toss the chips thoroughly to make sure they are all evenly coated. Sift remaining flour with baking soda, baking powder, and salt into another medium bowl.
3. Using electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar in large bowl until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla extract and maple extract. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. Mix in flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Fold in chocolate chip mixture. Transfer batter to prepared pan, spreading evenly.
5. Bake cake until tester inserted near center comes out clean and cake begins to pull away from sides of pan, about 1 hour. Start checking the cake around 40 minutes and check every five minutes or so. It took 55 minutes for me. Another five minutes would have been too long.
6. Cool cake in pan on rack 30 minutes (I only left it in 10 minutes and it still turned out fine). Invert cake onto rack and cool completely.
Good to know: Mixing the chocolate chips with a little flour before adding them to the batter helps the chips stay evenly suspended in the batter and evenly distributed throughout the baked cake. Otherwise, they may sink to the bottom.

Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
Combine powdered sugar, maple syrup, 2 tablespoons cream, and espresso powder in medium bowl. Whisk until smooth, adding more cream by 1/2 teaspoonfuls if glaze is too thick to drizzle. Spoon glaze decoratively over top of cake; let stand at room temperature until glaze is firm, about 1 hour. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and let stand at room temperature.
I dare you to have just one slice…

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The Best Damn Meyer Lemon Cake with Blueberry Compote

Recently when I was out grocery shopping at Earth Fare, one of my most favorite things to do, I noticed Organic Meyer Lemons were on sale. A really great sale, 10 for $2! What a steal! So I bought 10, realizing that perhaps they might be going bad soon, because why else would they be on sale like that? But I knew I had plenty of baking options, one was the Can’t Eat Just One Sugar Cookie and then the Cake. This recipe came from Saveur Magazine and while I don’t know if it is the best cake, it is pretty close. It’s honestly more of a quick bread than a cake, but it is so tasty. Pretty easy too, as far as cakes go. The hardest part is not eating it until the next day. It’s best to let this cake sit for a full 24 agonizing hours before digging in. Now that is hard. I hope you enjoy!

The Best Damn Meyer Lemon Cake

I didn’t change a thing! It was perfect!

  • 1 tbsp. butter, plus 8 tbsp. melted
  • 2 tbsp. fine dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup whole blanched almonds
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. fine salt
  • 1 1/3 cups plus 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp. lemon extract (I didn’t have enough extract so I subbed lemon juice)
  • Zest and juice of 2 meyer lemons

1. Heat oven to 350°. Grease a loaf pan (do not use a non-stick pan or glass pan) measuring 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ x 2 3/4″ with 1 tbsp. of the butter and dust it with the bread crumbs (I just used flour). Invert and tap out excess crumbs; set aside.

2. In a food processor, grind the almonds until very fine, about 1 minute; sift and set aside. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

3. Put the remaining butter into a large bowl and add 1 cup of the sugar. Mix with an electric mixer on low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating just long enough to incorporate, about 30 seconds.

4. Add the flour mixture and milk mixture alternately in 3 batches, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat until mixed after each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, about 3 minutes total. Mix in the lemon extract. With the spatula, fold in the lemon zest and ground almonds. (The mixture will be thin.) Turn batter into prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean and dry, about 65 minutes.

3. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack. Prepare the glaze: Combine remaining sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring, until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. (Do not boil.) Brush the glaze over the hot cake. (The excess liquid may pool along the sides of the pan; it will absorb completely as it sits.) Once the cake has absorbed all the liquid, turn it out of the pan and allow it to cool upright on a rack. Once it’s cool, wrap the cake with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours before serving.

Blueberry Compote

Really, really easy. Leftovers can be used on pancakes!

  • 2 1/2 cups frozen blueberries, unthawed
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Combine 1 1/2 cups blueberries, sugar and 1/3 cup water in heavy small saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until berries burst, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add remaining 1 cup berries. Cook until compote coats spoon, stirring often, about 8 minutes. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.) Serve warm.

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    Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Icing

    I don’t even know where to start with these. “Oh My God, so Good”. “The definition of yumminess”. “Little bites of Heaven”. All of these describe these cookies, yet just don’t seem like the right words. I do know that these are my new second favorite cookie, being second only to The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Ever. They aren’t even really second. They are more like 1b. I had no idea I would like these so much. I’ve had whoopie pies before, I’ve had pumpkin before, but these just blew me away! I actually had to make two batches and the second batch was even better than the first because the icing was better. And they turned out much prettier the second time.

    The second batch with smooth filling.

    The first batch I used mascarpone for the filling. I had 8 oz of mascarpone and only 4 oz of cream cheese. So I went with the mascarpone. Now, I’ve learned this painful lesson before but apparently it wasn’t painful enough the first time because I did the same thing again. Do not let mascaparone come to room temperature the same way you would with cream cheese. It becomes grainy and starts to separate. Cream cheese does not do this but I just wasn’t thinking apparently. Thankfully, they still tasted amazing even with the less than pretty icing. See the graininess?

    The first batch with the grainy icing.

    I also made them too big the first time, which explained the initial confusion over making 2 1/2 dozen verses the 4 dozen the recipe said. Again, my mind just wasn’t clear this day! The next day I made a half batch since the first batch was devoured in a very short period of time by my husband’s students. So the grainy icing didn’t matter too much! The first day I used a scoop that was about 1 1/2 TB. The second day I made them with the 1 TB scoop. This size was much better. The bigger ones were quite big, too big for whoopie pies in my opinion.

    I got the recipe from Brown Eyed Baker who got it from a friend, but several commenters said it was the same recipe from Matt Lewis, which is also credited on Martha Stewart’s Whoopie Pies. So this recipe has been around the block, and with good reason. The flavors are very intense and feel as though you have the holidays melting in your mouth. These could even be your Thanksgiving Day dessert, with a bowl of cinnamon ice cream? Oh yeah. Now we’re talking.

    Enjoy!

    Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Icing

    The cookies:

    • 3 Cups all purpose flour
    • 1 Tsp baking powder
    • 1 Tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 2 TB cinnamon
    • 1 tsp ground cloves
    • 1 tsp ground ginger
    • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar (if you don’t have turbinado, just use all granulated)
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • 1 cup canola oil
    • 3 cups chilled pumpkin (about 1 1/2 cans)
    • 2 eggs, room temp
    • 1 tsp vanilla

    1. Preheat oven to 350F.

    2. Whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside.

    3. In a mixer with a paddle attachment, mix the oil and sugars together until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until well combined. Add the vanilla.

    4. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and mix until combined and fairly smooth.

    5. Using a tablespoon scoop, scoop level amounts of dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silpat. These won’t spread much, but keep them about 1 inch apart.

    6. Bake about 10 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool slightly before moving to a cooling rack.

    The icing:

    • 4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
    • 3 cups powered sugar
    • 3 TB maple syrup
    • 1 tsp vanilla

    1. With a mixer, whip the butter until smooth.

    2. Add the cream cheese and mix until smooth.

    3. Add the sugar 1 cup at a time and mix until fluffy.

    4. Add the maple syrup and vanilla and mix.

    To assemble:

    Here again a piping bag will be your friend. No fancy tips needed, no coupler, just the bag. It makes filling the cookies much faster. To assemble, flip half the cookies over once they are cool. Pipe about a tablespoon of filling in each.

    The cookies halves.

    Then simply place the top on the cookie and press lightly so the filling spreads to the edges. And then eat!

    Note: Since these have a cream cheese center, make sure you chill them.

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    Chocolate, Caramel, and Coffee. Cupcakes, that is.

    Yes, this post is about all three – chocolate, coffee, and caramel. Three of my most favorite indulgences, all in one beautiful little cupcake. Last week I was requested, er, told, that I was to bring the dessert for a work pot luck.  I love making a dessert that makes people smile, so I needed something good. Really good. And I’m afraid I’ve outdone myself this time. I don’t know how I will ever make anything better. I’m a serious critic of my food, and this time, I am really proud.

    What could I have made that tastes so good? Chocolate cupcakes with caramel pudding and a coffee buttercream icing. Oh yeah. When people ate these they had a look of pure pleasure on their face. That amazing.

    And then, at the same time, I thought, Do I really want to share these? Maybe I should just buy cupcakes so I can keep these to myself. I got the cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen and she too writes that she didn’t want to share. In fact, she said “I kind of wanted to swat people off with a spoon.” I felt the same way! You will too. I promise.

    Now these cupcakes didn’t come without heartache. I knew I wanted to put caramel pudding inside, but I had never made caramel pudding before. I’ve made pastry cream many times, but never caramel flavored. The first recipe I tried came out rubbery. I was worried because it didn’t have eggs like the traditional pastry cream. I was right to be worried. It was terrible. Bleh. Try number two I used a recipe from Hungry Cravings and I was fairly certain this recipe would work since it was a traditional pastry cream recipe. But, the first time I burned my sugar. Like black in my pan. Bad. Just a pointer if you do this, fill your pot of burned, hard sugar with water and bring to a boil. It will dissolve the sugar and then your pot will be clean! Second time though, the sugar didn’t burn and I had a delicious caramel pudding. Whew. Step one was done.

    The pudding after chilling. Looks weird, huh? Stir first!

    The cake went fairly smoothly, except I overfilled the cupcakes. I knew the cake didn’t rise a lot, but I still over judged how much to fill. So I had to very carefully peel each cupcake from the pan. If I wasn’t careful, I would tear the cupcake and it wouldn’t be pretty anymore.  And those “ruined” cupcakes, well, quality control is just terrible, huh? I couldn’t let them go to waste. Yummy.

    Finally, the buttercream. I’m not sure why buttercream gives me such a headache, but alas, it does. I learned a very important lesson when I made this buttercream. My emulsion broke. Let’s chat a bit about emulsions. According to wikipedia an emulsion “is a mixture of two or more immiscible (unblendable) liquids.” What, that doesn’t make sense? Yeah, I didn’t think so either. Examples of emulsions are mayonnaise and vinaigrettes. Mayo is a “permanent” emulsion. Once it is done, it’s done and it won’t separate if it’s done correctly. Vinaigrettes will have to be mixed each time since they will separate. An emulsion forms when the mixture is well, mixed properly. It is broken when it’s not. And you know when it’s broken because it just looks terrible.

    Now, did you know that ganache and buttercreams are also emulsions? Yup, they are. This buttercream was made with egg whites, sugar, and butter. All was going well with the egg whites, but when I started adding the butter, I had a grainy, icky, horrible looking buttercream.

    Egg whites whipped to stiff peaks.

    Broken buttercream. Ugly, yucky, disappointing.

    Drat. What to do? I didn’t want to dump it out and start over – what a waste! Thankfully, Baking 911 had pointers for fixing a broken butter cream. The site suggested if it is cold and broken, melt about 25% of the butter cream and rewhip. This didn’t work for me the first time. I tried chilling in the refrigerator and then whipping. Nothing, nada, zip. I was on the verge of a meltdown at this point. Why wasn’t it coming together? So, one more shot. I put the buttercream in the freezer for 15 minutes, then melted some again. I was so certain it wasn’t going to work that I just put the mixer on high speed, insanely fast, and what do you know – I had a smooth, silky butter cream. I did a little jump for joy! Yahoo!

    Then, it was time to assemble. This was the easiest part. Step 1, cut out little holes in your cupcakes.

    Cupcakes with holes.

    Place all your cake crumbs into a separate bowl. Save for later when you are craving this cake. This may be immediately.

    Mmmm….snack.

    Next step is to fill the cupcakes. The absolute, easiest way to do this is use a piping bag. There is no reason to be scared of a piping bag here. It requires no skill whatsoever. You are merely filling the cupcakes and it will make your life a whole lot easier if you use a piping bag. If you don’t have one, they are super cheap at your local craft store (particularly if you use coupons!). I prefer the 14″ Wilton Featherweight bags because they are dishwasher safe (hooray!) and just the right size. And, all you need is a simple piping tip like this one and you are set. No need for couplers here since you are using a larger tip and you are just filling cupcakes.

    Finally, time to top the cupcakes with that buttercream. I used a piping bag here too, but it isn’t necessary. Do whatever is easiest for you.

    Heavenly. Oh, so good.

    People will love you for these. If you are willing to share, that is. And if you aren’t, don’t worry, I understand. They are that good.

    Caramel Pudding

    from Hungry Cravings

    I only used about half of this in the cupcakes. So, either cut the recipe in half or enjoy the rest as tasty snack.

    • 6 ounces sugar
    • ¼ cup water
    • 2 cups milk
    • 1 ¼ ounce cornstarch
    • 1 large egg
    • 2 large egg yolks
    • ½ ounce unsalted butter
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Combine 5 ounces of the sugar and the water in a small, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, brush down the sides of the pan with water, and boil for 8 to 10 minutes, or until caramelized (this only took about 5 minutes for me. The key is to watch very carefully! Do not leave the room!) The sugar will be fragrant and a deep amber color when it is caramelized. Remove the pan from the heat and dip the bottom into an ice water bath for a second or two. Slowly stir in the milk. (The sugar may harden at this point. Just keep stirring on the heat and it will melt again).  Return the pan to low heat and stir until smooth. Increase the heat to medium and heat to a simmer.

    Meanwhile, whisk together the cornstarch and remaining 1 ounce of sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk in the egg and yolks. Continue whisking while adding the hot caramel mixture (all of it, not just a little) in a thin stream. Transfer the mixture back to the saucepan and cook, whisking constantly, over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it thickens and just comes to a boil. Immediately strain through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl and stir in the butter and vanilla. Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface and refrigerate.

    Double Chocolate Cake

    From Smitten Kitchen

    The recipe below is for 2 10-inch layers or about 32 cupcakes.

    • 3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Guittard
    • 1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
    • 3 cups sugar
    • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used half King Arthur Cake Flour and half AP flour)
    • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
    • 2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
    • 3 large eggs
    • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
    • 1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
    • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla

    Preheat oven to 300°F. and prepare pans or cupcake liners.

    Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

    Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well.

    Note: This is a very runny cake mixture. You will think you’ve done something wrong, but never fear, it is supposed to be like that.

    Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.

    Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

    Coffee Buttercream

    from Martha Stewart

    I doubled this recipe and had just a little bit leftover.

    • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
    • 1 tablespoon boiling water
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 3 large egg whites
    • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
    • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    Place espresso powder in a small cup; add the boiling water, and stir to dissolve. Let cool.

    Bring a saucepan with about 2 inches of water to a simmer. Combine sugar and whites in a large heatproof mixer bowl set over (not in) simmering water. Whisk until whites are warm to the touch and sugar is dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes.

    Place bowl on mixer stand; whisk on low speed until mixture is foamy. Whisk on medium-high until stiff, glossy peaks form and mixture is completely cooled completely, about 10 minutes.

    Reduce speed to medium-low; add butter 2 tablespoons at a time, whisking to incorporate fully well after each addition (if buttercream appears curdled, at this point simply beat until smooth). Whisk in vanilla and espresso mixture.

    Switch to paddle attachment; beat on lowest speed to reduce air bubbles, 3 to 5 minutes. To store, refrigerate airtight up to 3 days, or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature; beat with paddle attachment on the lowest speed until smooth and pliable, about 10 minutes.

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