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Blog

Filtering by Category: cakes

Russian Buttercream

Patricia Reitz

There are a number of popular buttercreams in the world. Swiss, Italian, French, and American are all fairly well known, but Russian buttercream is just starting to become known in the baking world. How does is differ from the others?

Each kind of buttercream can be flavored in various ways, but basically Italian, Swiss, and French buttercreams are made with a variety of cooked sugar syrups. They also require the use of a thermometer to ensure their respective sugar syrups reach the proper temperature (with the exception of French Buttercream, which doesn’t always require a thermometer - although it’s highly recommended for those under 5, over 80, or immune-impaired).

American Buttercream is by far my least favorite - truth be known, I don’t even think it should be called buttercream, but it’s popular with many because it’s so fast and easy to prepare, and does not require the use of a thermometer - you just dump confectioner’s sugar and butter in a bowl and mix them together.

And finally, Russian Buttercream. Russian Buttercream is as easy to make as American (actually easier), but it has the same silky smooth texture and depth of flavor as Italian, Swiss, and French. Great, great stuff. I hope you’ll give it a try.

To recap, here are the various buttercreams and how they differ:

  • Italian: made by combining a hot sugar syrup with beaten egg whites and softened butter (my personal favorite). It has a silky smooth texture, delicate flavor, and is very stable at room temperature for extended periods of time. You must use a thermometer when making Italian Meringue Buttercream.

  • Swiss: made by heating sugar and egg whites together before whipping, cooling, and adding softened butter. It has a silky smooth texture, delicate flavor, and is fairly stable at room temperature, but not quite as stable as Italian Meringue Buttercream. You must use a thermometer when making Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

  • French: made by combining a hot sugar syrup with beaten egg yolks and softened butter. It has a silky smooth texture and delicate flavor, but it’s is a little softer than Italian or Swiss Buttercream and is not very stable at room temperature. Not all recipes for French buttercream call for the use of a thermometer, but it’s recommended when feeding those under 5, over 80, or the immune-impaired.

  • American: made with softened butter and confectioner’s sugar. It’s texture is extremely gritty and the flavor is extremely sweet. It’s gross and disgusting and I cannot recommend you make it… ever.

  • Russian: made with just two ingredients… chilled sweetened condensed milk and butter. That’s it. There’s no need for a thermometer because sweetened condensed milk contains all the sugar you need and it’s already been cooked. The texture of Russian Buttercream is silky smooth. It’s pretty stable at room temperature too.

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So today my Russian Buttercream is actually going to be a Russian-Mexican fusion because I’ll be using dulce de leche in place of traditional sweetened condensed milk.

For decades home cooks would make dulce de leche by simmering unopened cans of sweetened condensed milk for hours until the milk inside would caramelize. Most people did this successfully, but there were always stories of those who were not so successful. I don’t know about you, but the thought of a can of sticky, molten caramel exploding all over my kitchen kept me from ever trying. Thankfully, at some point, sweetened condensed milk manufacturers decided to assume the risk for us, and home cooks the world over rejoiced.

Ok, that might be a stretch, but yay!

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Start with room temperature butter, about 70F.

A hand mixer works well when making a small batch of this buttercream, but you’ll want to use a stand mixer for larger batches.

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Whip the butter for 2-3 minutes until it’s light and fluffy (the photo above is after about 1 minute).

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Here we are after 3 full minutes - see how light the color of the butter is?

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Time to add the chilled dulce de leche - be sure it’s well chilled to keep the butter from getting too warm.

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Whip them together until light and fluffy, scraping the bowl as needed. You’ll want to taste it carefully and add some fine table salt to taste - just enough to highlight the butter and caramel flavors.

If you’re a fan of salted caramel, sprinkle the finished buttercream with flaked or coarse salt just before serving. Yum!

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Well, that’s all there is to it. Super, super simple, don’t you think? Next up, I’ll be sharing a fun way to use this buttercream. Until then, have a great day.

Items used to make this recipe:


Russian Buttercream w/Dulce de Leche

makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound (226g) unsalted butter at room temperature (70F)

  • 1/2 pound (226g) canned dulce de leche, chilled

  • fine table salt to taste

Directions

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, beat room temperature butter using a hand mixer for 2-3 minutes, until light in color and very fluffy.

  2. Add chilled dulce de leche and continue beating with a hand mixer for 1 minute.

  3. Taste the mixture carefully and add just enough salt to highlight the butter and caramel flavors; continue whipping for another minute or two, scraping the bowl if needed.

Note: to make salted caramel variation, sprinkle flaked or coarse salt on top of buttercream when serving.


Chocolate Zucchini Snack Cake

Patricia Reitz

So today is the first day of the new year and most food blogs will be posting lighter, healthier recipes, but not me... I give you CAKE! 

But wait a minute... if you think about it, this is a single layer cake made with greek yogurt and shredded zucchini, and the frosting is just a thin layer of ganache... so basically, this really is a lighter, healthier recipe!!  Glad to do my part - you're welcome.

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Start with shredded zucchini (or half and half, shredded zucchini and shredded yellow squash).  Thankfully, good zucchini is available throughout the year.

Whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and fine salt together in a large mixing bowl.  Note - sugar is usually considered a "wet" ingredients, but this is a casual cake that is easily mixed together by simply stirring, so no biggie.  You could even throw all the ingredients in one bowl and call it a day if you wanted to.

But I like to mix the wet and dry stuff separately and then combine them, but I digress.

Here are the wet ingredients - eggs, canola oil, greek yogurt, and pure vanilla extract.

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Whisk to combine.

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Pour the wet ingredients into the dry.

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Stir to combine.

Lastly, stir in the shredded zucchini (and shredded squash if using).

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Before you pour the cake batter in the pan, be sure to coat the pan with baking spray - the kind that contains flour and oil.  This stuff is the bomb and I never bake a cake without it - helps your cakes release from the pan every single time!!  Great stuff.

And here's another tip that's completely unnecessary, but wow does it make a difference.  Wrap your pan with insulated baking strips so they rise evenly and don't develop a hump in the middle while baking.  Seriously, I use them for every layer cake I bake.  From simple snack cakes to large wedding cakes.  I never have to trim the tops of my layer cakes.

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Enjoy!

Items used to make this recipe:


CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI SNACK CAKE

makes one 8x8-inch cake (can be doubled and baked in a 9x13-inch pan)

Ingredients

Cake:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/4 cup dark cocoa powder, sifted (darkest you can find, like this black cocoa)

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt

  • 1 large egg

  • 6 tablespoons plain greek yogurt

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 2 tablespoons hot brewed coffee (or hot water)

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 1 cup shredded zucchini (or substitute up to half yellow summer squash)

Ganache:

  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

  • 4 ounces heavy cream

Directions

To make the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F, spray metal cake pan with Baker's Joy, and wrap pan with insulated baking strips (optional, but they keep the cake from forming a hump in the middle).

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, greek yogurt, oil, coffee, and pure vanilla extract.

  4. Pour wet mixture into bowl containing the dry ingredients and mix well; add shredded zucchini and stir until combined.

  5. Pour batter into cake pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

  6. Remove from oven and cool completely before topping with ganache.

To make the ganache:

  1. Place chopped chocolate in a heat-safe bowl; set aside.

  2. In a medium heavy-bottom saucepan, heat cream until just before it reaches the boiling point (small bubbles will form around the edges).

  3. Remove cream from heat and pour over chocolate.

  4. Let the chocolate and cream steep together for 2 minutes, then whisk gently until the two combine and become shiny, dark, and glossy.

  5. When cake is completely cool, pour ganache over cake; use an offset spatula to spread evenly.

  6. Chill cake until service. Store in an airtight container.

Gluten-Free Fudge Cake

Patricia Reitz

This dense, rich, fudge cake is not only gluten-free, the batter is mixed together in a blender.  When have you ever heard of such a thing?   This cake takes no time to make at all - the batter is literally ready in a matter of minutes.  You can serve this cake warm or at room temperature, but we like it chilled. 

how to line a springform pan with parchment

Start by lining the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper, then spray the rest of the pan with Baker's Joy to ensure perfect release.

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In 30-second bursts the microwave, slowly melt butter and chocolate together, stirring between bursts.  When the chocolate is completely melted, stir well to make sure butter is completely incorporated.  Set aside until needed.

NOTE:  if your microwave is very powerful, decrease the power to 50%. 

Alternatively, you can melt the butter and chocolate together over a double boiler of simmering water, stirring frequently.

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Additional ingredients needed are almond meal (finely ground almonds), salt, baking soda, baking powder, espresso, and....

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Whole eggs and sweetened condensed milk.

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Now for the fun part - we mix all the ingredients together in the blender (this is the one I love).  Start to combining the eggs and sweetened condensed milk on low speed until combined.

gluten-free fudge cake recipe made in a blender

Add the chocolate/butter mixture, almond meal, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and coffee.  Blend again on low speed until combined. 

gluten-free thanksgiving dessert recipe with how-to photos

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes in a preheated oven.

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The cake will come out of the oven puffed up in the center.  

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Allow the cake to cool for 1 hour before chilling for at least 2 additional hours.  The cake will fall in the center as it cools - this is normal so don't be alarmed.

Gluten-free cake recipe with how-to photos

Remove the sides of the springform pan and cut into 16 slices with a hot, sharp knife (long, thin, non-serrated blades work best - like this one).  This cake is very moist so if you want to sprinkle it with confectioner's sugar, use the non-melting variety.


Gluten-Free Fudge Cake

makes 16 servings

Ingredients

  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 6 ounces bittersweet or dark chocolate (I used Moser-Roth 85%)

  • 4 large eggs

  • 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk, plus 1/4 cup

  • 1 1/2 cup almond meal (aka almond flour)

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt

  • 1/4 cup hot espresso (or see note below)

  • Optional: non-melting confectioner's sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and place rack in center position.

  2. Line bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and spray pan with Baker's Joy.

  3. In 30-second bursts the microwave, slowly melt butter and chocolate together, stirring between bursts; set aside until needed. NOTE: if your microwave is very powerful, decrease power to 50%, or you can melt the butter and chocolate together in a double boiler over simmering water.

  4. In the jar of a blender, combine eggs and sweetened condensed milk on low speed until combined.

  5. Add chocolate/butter mixture; mix on low speed until combined.

  6. Add almond meal, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and espresso; mix on low until combined.

  7. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake tests done (a few crumbs sticking to the toothpick are ok).

  8. Cool cake in pan on a rack for 1 hour; cover with plastic and chill for at least 2 hours.

  9. Remove sides of springform pan and slide cake off of parchment base.

  10. Use a hot knife to cut cake into 16 slices. Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Note: to make espresso, combine 1/4 cup boiling water with 1/2 teaspoon high quality espresso powder .

recipe adapted from Pati Jinich

 

Galaxy Mirror Glaze Cake(s)

Patricia Reitz

Recently I was asked to demonstrate a mirror glaze cake technique (aka galaxy glaze technique) at a cake show and I thought perhaps all of my readers would enjoy learning about it too.  As you'll see, this technique is sticky and fun and very unpredictable so you never know exactly what you're going to end up with.   Let's get started.

Important:  

This technique starts with a frozen chocolate mousse cake - you can also include fruit and/or actual cake as well (which I'll be showing you).  Plan ahead - there's a lot of freezer time needed for this technique.  

Also, this is going to be a very long post so I'll try condense photos as much as possible.

You can get special silicone half-sphere molds, but for now I'll show you how to use a 9-inch silicone springform pan, and I'll bake an 8-inch layer of cake to go inside the cheesecake pan.  

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If you're in a hurry, you can make smaller individual size servings which will freeze much faster (this is the pan I like to use for individual servings).  When making the individual size servings, I use half of the chocolate mousse and glaze ingredients, and skip the cake layer and white chocolate mousse.

 
how to make a galaxy glaze cake (aka mirror glaze cake) - recipe and how-to photos

Before I show you how I make the chocolate cake layer, I want to tell you that I always coat my baking pans with Baker's Joy (a oil/flour nonstick baking spray), and I line the bottom of the pans with a layer of parchment paper.  Also, to ensure a cake my cakes rise evenly without a big hump in the middle, I always wrap my pans with moistened insulated baking strips.  

To make the cake, start by combining dutch-processed cocoa powder with boiling hot water.  

Whisk well to eliminate clumps.

Set aside until needed.

 

In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, egg, and vanilla.

Whisk whisk, whisk.

Done.

 

Add the flour, baking soda, and salt.

Whisk to combine.

Add the reserved cocoa mixture and mix well.

 

Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake until a toothpick inserted near the middle comes out clean. 

Here's another trick that will help ensure an evenly baked cake...

Insert an Ateco heating core (they're great for really wet cake batters like this one, and I always use them for cakes that are over 9 inches in diameter).

 

See how perfectly even that cake rose in the pan?  No hump in the center thanks to the insulated cake strips, and no fallen center thanks to the heating core.  Pure perfection!

Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out.  If you prepped your pan with Baker's Joy and parchment paper, it should release without any trouble.  Peel the parchment paper off and pull out the heating core.  Allow the cake to cool completely (I like to pop it in the fridge at this point - it'll cool fast and chilled cake is always easier to handle than warm cake).

 

Time to make white chocolate mousse.  To begin, we'll make white chocolate ganache by pouring scalding hot cream over really good quality white chocolate that's been chopped into small pieces.  Let this mixture sit for several minute, then gently whisk until fully incorporated. 

Yes, you can use high quality chocolate chocolate chips if you like, but chips contain stabilizers that don't melt when heated (this allows the chips to hold their shape when warm).  I find it best to use bar chocolate or white chocolate disks used by pastry chefs (like these or these).

 

Pour the ganache through a sieve to remove any unmelted bits of white chocolate.  Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for several hours (or overnight) to "set" (firm up).  

DO NOT cover the hot mixture with plastic wrap because condensation will form on the plastic and will drip down onto the ganache which can make the chocolate seize (turn grainy).  If you must cover the hot chocolate mixture, use a clean kitchen towel which will absorb the steam given off by the hot ganache.

 

When the white chocolate has "set", whip cold heavy cream until stiff peaks form....

Then fold the whipped cream and white chocolate ganache together until combined.

 

Next, place the chilled cake layer on a silpat lined sheet pan and  wrap well with an adjustable cake ring.

Make sure the adjustable cake ring is tight, then add a layer of fresh raspberries.

 

Pour just enough white chocolate mousse over the berries to cover them.

Freeze for several hours until the white chocolate mousse is frozen enough to remove the adjustable cake ring.

 

Before we transfer the cake/white chocolate mousse to the silicone springform pan, the base of the pan needs to be lined with plastic wrap.  You could also use parchment paper.

YPlace the partially frozen chocolate cake topped with raspberries and white chocolate mousse in the center of the springform pan.  There should be about 1/2-inch space between the cake and the springform pan walls.  We're going to fill that space with chocolate mousse.

 

The chocolate mousse is made the same way as the white chocolate mousse - make the ganache by combining scalding heavy cream with chopped chocolate (use high quality like this or this).  Allow the ganache to cool for several hours to "set" (firm up).  

Then carefully fold it with some whipped cream.

 

Continue folding until the chocolate and cream are completely incorporated (this photo shows that we're not quite there yet). 

I like to use a disposable pastry bag to squeeze the chocolate ganache down into that 1/2-inch space.  Be careful to not allow any air gaps.

 

Once the 1/2-inch gap is filled, pour the remaining ganache on top of the white chocolate layer to fill the pan completely and use a very long spatula to smooth to top flush with the top of the springform pan.  

Freeze until frozen solid (notice how easily the silicone pan releases from the frozen mouse cake pictured on the right).  If you only have a metal springform pan, be sure to line the base with plastic wrap or parchment paper, and line the sides with food-grade acetate (like this) - the acetate will release easily from the frozen mousse (the metal pan will not).

Now for the really fun part - we get to make the galaxy glaze (aka mirror glaze).  Here's how.

 

Gather the ingredients for the glaze:  water, granulated gelatin, superfine sugar, light corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk, and chopped high quality white chocolate.  

Stir the granulated gelatin and water together and allow the gelatin to hydrate for 10 minutes.

 

In a nonstick saucepan over medium-high heat, cook the superfine sugar, water, and light corn syrup together (I love using this caramel pot anytime I need to heat sugary liquids).  

Heat the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 217F (right around the time it starts to boil).  

 

Immediately remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the hydrated gelatin until it dissolves.

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You'll know the gelatin has dissolved when there are no more granules stuck to the bottom or sides of the pan. 

 

Add the sweetened condensed milk.

How to make galaxy glaze or mirror glaze for cakes.

Stir to combine.

 

Pour the hot mixture over the chopped chocolate and let it rest for a couple of minutes.

Then whisk to combine.

 

Use an immersion blender to carefully blend the mixture for two full minutes...

Being careful not to incorporate much air (see short video clip).

Allow the mixture to cool to between 85-95F.

 
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Use food coloring suitable for chocolate (I used this brand - the most important color being white.

In the photo above, you can see the glaze on the left has no white coloring added - it's kind of translucent and has a yellow tone which will affect other colors added.  The glaze on the right has white coloring added, which turns the mixture opaque and bright white so any additional colors added will be true.  

 

Divvy up the glaze and color as you like.  

I think a mix of 3 or 4 colors gives the best results.

Customize colors to coordinate with sports teams, holidays, party themes, etc.

 

Have fun drizzling that glaze all over the frozen mousse cake(s).  There's no right or wrong way to do it, just be sure to cover all exposed areas.  

disco dust on galaxy mirror glaze - ButterYum

For an extra special finishing touch, sprinkle a little edible "disco dust" on the wet glaze.  It will add a sparkly iridescence that looks amazing.  

Oooo!

And here's a quick view of a large cake I covered with a pastel colored glazed  - I love how the layers of chocolate cake, raspberries, and white and regular chocolate mousse look together.  Chill frozen mousse cake in refrigerator until it thaws enough that it can be cut easily.  Serve very thin slices - this cake is very rich.   Enjoy! 

Items used and/or needed to make this recipe:


Note:  For individual size servings, use half of the chocolate mousse and glaze ingredients, and omit the cake layer and white chocolate mousse.

Chocolate Cake Layer

makes one 8-inch cake layer

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted

  • 2/3 cup boiling water

  • 1 cup all purpose flour

  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325F and place rack in center oven position.

  2. Spray 8-inch cake pan with baking spray (such as Baker's Joy) and wrap pan with insulated baking strip.

  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and boiling water until no clumps remain; set aside.

  4. In another small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla; add the contents from both of the previous bowls and mix well to combine.

  6. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in center of oven for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

  7. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes before turning cake out onto a rack to cool completely.

 

Chocolate Mousse

makes 6 cups

Ingredients

  • 4 cup chopped semisweet chocolate (700 grams)

  • 4 2/3 cups heavy cream, divided (2 2/3c, 2 c)

Directions

  1. Place chocolate in a large mixing bowl.

  2. Heat 2 2/3 cups heavy cream in the microwave or on the stovetop until boiling and pour over chocolate and rest for 2 minutes; gently whisk to combine fully and allow to cool for at least 10-15 minutes (or longer).

  3. In a medium mixing bowl, beat remaining 2 cups heavy cream until soft peaks form; fold into chocolate mixture until no streaks of cream remain; pour into mold(s) and freeze.

 

White Chocolate Mousse

makes 3 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 cup chopped white chocolate (350 grams)

  • 2 cups heavy cream, divided (1 1/3c, 2/3 c)

Directions

  1. Place chocolate in a large mixing bowl.

  2. Heat 1 1/3 cups heavy cream in the microwave or on the stovetop until boiling and pour over chocolate and rest for 2 minutes; gently whisk to combine fully and allow to cool completely and thicken a bit, 2-3 hours.

  3. In a medium mixing bowl, beat remaining 2/3 cups heavy cream until soft peaks form; fold into chocolate mixture until no streaks of cream remain; pour into mold(s) and freeze.

 

Galaxy Mirror Glaze

makes about 4 cups (enough to coat a 9-inch cake)

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unflavored granulated gelatin

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1 cup light corn syrup

  • 1 1/4 cup super fine sugar

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

  • 1 3/4 cups chopped white chocolate (306 grams)

  • white gel food color

  • other gel food colors

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, use a fork to combine gelatin and 1/2 cup water (be sure no dry clumps remain); set aside for 10 minutes to allow the gelatin to bloom (hydrate).

  2. In a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium-high heat, combine corn syrup, sugar, and remaining 1/2 cup water; stirring until sugar dissolves; bring to 217F.

  3. Remove saucepan from heat and add bloomed gelatin; stir until gelatin melts and no granules remain; add sweetened condensed milk and stir to combine.

  4. Pour mixture over white chocolate and rest for several minutes; gently whisk until all the white chocolate melts and mixture is fully incorporated, being careful to not incorporate air bubbles.

  5. Use a stick blender to blend for 1-2 minutes to make the mixture completely smooth (add gel food coloring if desired).

  6. Allow glaze to cool to between 85 and 95F, then pour over frozen dessert. Leftover glaze can be refrigerated for several days - just reheat gently in the microwave, using 10-15 second intervals, stirring each time, until temp it reaches the proper pouring temperature.

 

Notes:

  • mousse must be frozen solid before covering with glaze.

  • after glazing, place cake(s) in refrigerator to allow glaze to set and allow the frozen mousse to soften before serving.

  • if you're unsure if your food colors are compatible with chocolate, test color a small batch first (stir very well and make sure the glaze remains pourable - if it thickens or gets clumpy, try a different brand of coloring).

  • frozen mousse will release easily from silicone, but not metal so if you have a metal springform pan, line the bottom well with parchment and line the sides with food-grade acetate (like this).

Chocolate Mocha Zucchini Cake

Patricia Reitz

Do you ever find yourself with an abundant supply of zucchini?  How about summer squash?  Want a great recipe that will help use them up?  Look no further - this CHOCOLATE MOCHA ZUCCHINI CAKE is rich, dark, and delicious.  To gild the lily further, add a silky smooth layer of dark chocolate ganache.  Here's how it's made.

Prepare a metal cake pan with Baker's Joy.  I use it for all the cakes I bake.  If you want to turn this cake out of the pan, line the bottom of the pan with parchment.

Note: if you use a glass or ceramic pan, lower the oven temp 25F.

Gather the dry ingredients - flour, sugar, sifted dark cocoa (sometimes sold as black cocoa), ground cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and fine salt.

The ground cinnamon is optional, but I really like it.  Also, I use the darkest cocoa powder I can find (sometimes sold as black cocoa powder).  It makes the cake extra dark, which is extra irresistible. 

Put all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together.

Done; set aside.

Gather the wet ingredients - eggs, oil, vanilla (be sure to use the good stuff), greek yogurt, and brewed coffee (not pictured).

Put all the wet ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk together.

Done.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix together.

Done.

Last, add the shredded zucchini to the batter.  You can substitute up to half of the zucchini with summer squash (remove seeds before grating).

Stir the zucchini (and summer squash) into the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.

insulated cake strips help the cake to bake in an even layer - no hump!

insulated cake strips help the cake to bake in an even layer - no hump!

Wrap the pan with moistened insulated baking strips.  You don't have to do this step, but it will help the cake bake into an even layer.   Otherwise, your cake will likely develop a hump in the middle.

Remove the cake from the oven and cool completely.  While the cake cools, prepare the ganache.  When the cake is completely cool, spread the ganache evenly over the cake.  Chill until service.

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I like to serve this cake well chilled.  Time to dig in - enjoy!

Items used to make this recipe:


Chocolate Mocha Zucchini Cake

makes one 9x13-inch cake (15 servings)

Printable Recipe

Ingredients

Cake:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour

  • 2 cups granulated sugar

  • 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder, sifted (darkest you can find, like this black cocoa)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (optional)

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon fine salt

  • 2 large eggs

  • 3/4 cup greek yogurt

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

  • 1/4 cup brewed coffee

  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • 2 cups shredded zucchini (or substitute up to half yellow summer squash)

Ganache:

  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

  • 8 ounces heavy cream

Directions

To make the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F, spray metal cake pan with Baker's Joy, and wrap pan with insulated baking strips (optional, but they keep the cake from forming a hump in the middle).

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, greek yogurt, oil, coffee, and pre vanilla extract.

  4. Pour wet mixture into bowl containing the dry ingredients and mix well; add shredded zucchini and stir until combined.

  5. Pour batter into cake pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

  6. Remove from oven and cool completely before adding ganache.

To make the ganache:

  1. Place chopped chocolate in a heat-safe bowl; set aside.

  2. In a medium heavy-bottom saucepan, heat cream until just before it reaches the boiling point (small bubbles will form around the edges).

  3. Remove cream from heat and pour over chocolate.

  4. Let the chocolate and cream steep together for 2 minutes, then whisk gently until the two combine and become shiny, dark, and glossy.

  5. When cake is completely cool, pour ganache over cake; use an offset spatula to spread evenly.

  6. Chill cake until service. Store in an airtight container.

Dorie's Custardy Apple Bars

Patricia Reitz

Dorie's Custardy Apple Bars - ButterYum

Dorie's Custardy Apple Bars - ButterYum

I'd been paging through my copy of Dorie Greenspan's newest cookbook, Baking Chez Moi, trying to decide which recipe to try first, when I happened to see her on TV promoting the book.  She was demonstrating this delicious recipe for Custardy Apple Bars.  I loved the way she described them and that pretty much sealed the deal for me.  I made them the next day and we absolutely loved them.    

Dorie Greenspan's Custardy Apple Bars

Printable Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 medium juicy, sweet apples, such as Gala or Fuji, peeled and cored
  • 1/2 (68 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (67 grams) sugar
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons whole milk at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce; 28 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F and place rack in center position.
  2. Butter an 8x8-inch square baking pan; set aside.
  3. Use a mandoline to slice apples 1/16-inch thick.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder; set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and salt for 2 minutes, until the sugar dissolves and the color of the eggs is pale. 
  6. Add the vanilla, milk, and melted butter.
  7. Add the reserved flour mixture and continue to whisk until batter is smooth.
  8. Use a spatula to gently fold the apples into the batter, being sure each apple gets coated. 
  9. Pour mixture into prepared pan and pat into as even a layer as you can (it will level as it bakes).
  10. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the apples turn golden brown and a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  11. Cool cake on baking rack for 15 minutes before cutting.
  12. Slice and dust with confectioners' sugar if desired.

Note:  I prefer these bars served at room temperature, but they're also good served warm or cold right out of the fridge.  Pears may be substituted for the apples. 

Norwegian Toscakake

Patricia Reitz

Norwegian Toscakake - ButterYum

Norwegian Toscakake - ButterYum

I was immediately drawn to this recipe while flipping through a copy of Scandinavian Classic Baking by Pat Sinclair.  It's a lightly flavored single layer cake flavored with almonds and topped with a glaze that's browned under the broiler.  Wonderful with a cup of tea or coffee in the afternoon.

Note:  If you like a richer, more strongly flavored cake, check out our family's favorite European Almond Butter Cake (photo below).

Norwegian Toscakake

makes 8 servings

Printable Recipe

Ingredients

Cake: 

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 4 egg whites, room temperature
  • 4 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Almond Topping:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons 2% milk
  • 3/4 toasted sliced almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and spray a 9-inch springform pan with non-stick baking spray; set aside.  
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.  
  3. In a separate bow, beat the egg whites until foamy.  
  4. Gradually sprinkle in the granulated sugar while continuing to beat until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes; set aside.  
  5. In yet another bowl, whip the egg yolks for about 4 minutes until they are a light lemon color.  
  6. Gently fold the beaten yolks into the beaten whites.  
  7. Next, fold in the flour mixture in 4 batches, followed by the melted butter and almond extract.  
  8. Pour batter into prepared spring form pan and bake in a preheated over for 20-25 minutes.
  9. To make the topping, in a small saucepan over low heat, combine the sugar, flour, butter, and milk, stirring constantly until thickened, about 1-2 minutes.  
  10. Remove from heat and add the almonds and almond extract.  
  11. Pour the topping over the cake and place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes until the topping turns golden brown.  
  12. Cool on wire cooling rack for 5 minutes.  
  13. Run a metal spatula around the sides of the pan to loosen.
  14. Remove the sides of the pan and cool completely before serving.

Red Velvet Chocolate Ganache Cake

Patricia Reitz

I was going through some old photos and came across this cake that I never got around to posting.  You can tell by the bright yellow flower that I made it during the warmer months, but I thought someone out there might be interested in making it this Christmas season so here's the recipe.

Red Velvet Chocolate Ganache Cake

makes one double layer 8 or 9-inch cake

Printable Recipe

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 347g granulated sugar (12 1/4 ounces)

  • 200g unsalted butter, softened (7 ounces, or 14 tablespoons)

  • 312g all-purpose flour (11 ounces)

  • 5g baking powder (1 teaspoon)

  • 5g salt (1 1/2 teaspoons)

  • 7g Dutch-processed cocoa, sifted (3 1/2 teaspoons)

  • 210g buttermilk (7 1/2 ounces)

  • 125g egg yolks (4 1/2 ounces)

  • 10g pure vanilla extract (2 teaspoons)

  • 60g red liquid food coloring (2 ounces or 4 tablespoons)

  • 5g white distilled vinegar (1 teaspoon)

  • 30g canola oil (2 tablespoons)

For the ganache:

  • 800g heavy cream (3 1/4 cups)

  • 800g bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine (1 3/4 pounds)

  • pinch of salt

Directions

To make the ganache (do this at least 4-5 hours before assembling the cake):

  1. Place the chopped chocolate in a large glass or stainless steel bowl; set aside.

  2. In a medium heavy-bottomed sauce pan over med-high heat, heat the cream and salt until it the mixture starts to bubble around the edges of the pan.

  3. Immediately pour over the chopped chocolate and whisk or stir gently to incorporate the two ingredients together (avoid using a wooden spoon which can trap moisture and cause the chocolate to seize). I like to pass the mixture through a fine sieve to be sure no lumps remain, but you don't have to be that particular. If you plan to assemble the cake tomorrow, drape a clean kitchen towel (not plastic wrap or foil) over the bowl and allow it to sit undisturbed on the counter until needed (it will thicken to the perfect spreading consistency overnight). If you plan to assemble the cake on the same day, transfer the ganache to a shallow sheet pan which will speed up the cooling process, stirring every so often to aid crystallization.

To make the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and prepare two 8 or 9-inch round cake pans with flour/oil baking spray and line bottom of pans with parchment; wrap pans with insulated cake strips (not necessary, but will eliminate domed layers).

  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sifted cocoa powder; whisk to combine and set aside.

  3. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, egg yolks, vanilla, food coloring, vinegar, and canola oil; set aside.

  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or Beater Blade, cream butter and sugar together until the color turns from yellow to cream.

  5. Turn the mixer off and add 1/3 of the flour mixture; mix on low until combined.

  6. Turn the mixer off and add 1/2 of the buttermilk mixture; mix on low until combined.

  7. Repeat by adding 1/3 of the flour mixture, the remaining 1/2 buttermilk mixture, and finally the remaining 1/3 flour mixture.

  8. Increase speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes.

  9. Evenly distribute among the 2 prepared cake pans.

  10. Place in the center preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cake surface springs back when pressed and a toothpick poked in the center of the cake comes out clean (a few crumbs are okay).

  11. Remove from oven when done and cool for 5-10 minutes before unmolding onto a rack to cool completely.

  12. Fill and frost with prepared ganache. Serve chilled or at room temperature - we like it chilled.

For even cake layers:

  • Wrap your cake pans with damp insulated baking strips - no more domed cakes!!

To make the swirl design:

  • Place the cake on a turntable. While turning the cake, use the tip of a large offset spatula and start in the center, then pull towards the outside of the cake.

Carrot Cake Cheesecake

Patricia Reitz

When my oldest was a little guy, he would request carrot cake for his birthday, but then he discovered cheesecake and that was the end of that.  So when he told me recently that he kind of missed carrot cake and was having a hard time deciding which to choose for this year's birthday celebration, I decided to surprise him with both.  This cake is a totally awesome hybrid - moist carrot cake swirled together with a creamy cheesecake layer, then topped with a smooth and flavorful cream cheese topping - Wowzers!  It was so good one of my daughters has already claimed it for her next birthday celebration.  Plan to make this cheesecake no less than about 6 hours before you want to serve it.

The BeaterBlade is the best attachment to use for making cheesecake (and about a million other things).

The BeaterBlade is the best attachment to use for making cheesecake (and about a million other things).

Carrot Cake Cheesecake

makes 12 servings

Printable Recipe

Ingredients

Cheesecake batter:

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 teaspoon all purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste!)

  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Carrot cake batter:

  • 3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil

  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (or 1/8 teaspoon fresh)

  • pinch of ground cloves

  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt

  • 1 cup finely grated carrots

Cream cheese topping (double if using a 10-inch springform pan):

  • 3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 1 tablespoon sour cream

Directions

Before you begin:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

  2. Lightly grease a 9 or 10-inch springform pan with baking spray and place on a half sheet pan. Note: my photo shows how tall the cheesecake will be if you use a 9-inch springform pan.

To make the cheesecake batter:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or better, a BeaterBlade), beat the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and flour on medium-low speed until smooth.

  2. Add the vanilla and sour cream; mix just until combined. Set aside.

To make the carrot cake batter:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the oil and both sugars.

  2. Add the eggs and vanilla; beat until well combined.

  3. Add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt just until combined.

  4. Stir in the carrots.

To assemble the cake:

  1. Spread half of the carrot cake batter into the bottom of the prepared pan.

  2. Dollop half of the cheesecake batter on top in large spoonfuls. Don't spread or swirl together, just dollop.

  3. Next dollop the rest of the carrot cake batter on and around the cheesecake batter dollops. Again, don't spread or swirl.

  4. Spread the last half of the cheesecake batter on top and use an offset spatula so smooth it into an even layer. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to dislodge air bubbles.

  5. Bake in the lower half of a preheated oven for 60-70 minutes. The center of the cheesecake should jiggle a bit when the pan is shaken (if you want to be very precise, the temp in the center of the cheesecake batter should reach 150F on a digital thermometer).

  6. Cool completely on a cooling rack while preparing the frosting.

To make the topping:

  1. Cream together the cream cheese and butter until smooth.

  2. Mix in the sifted confectioner's sugar until smooth.

  3. Add the vanilla and sour cream; mix well.

  4. Spread evenly onto the completely cooled cheesecake and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Note:  Cheesecake can be made up to 2 days in advance, but be sure to store in an airtight container because dairy products readily absorb odors/flavors from the fridge.

recipe adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

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European Almond Butter Cake

Patricia Reitz

European Almond Butter Cake - ButterYum

European Almond Butter Cake - ButterYum

Oh boy do I have a recipe for the almond lover in your life.  I'm telling you what, this super easy cake is the bomb.  Overflowing with strong almond flavor.  I brought it to a cookout recently and one of my neighbors kept calling it a marzipan cake and he absolutely insisted I give his wife the recipe, so there you go.  Oh, and my extended family reqeusts it at every holiday gathering.  I don't dare show up without it.

The recipe comes from Trisha Yearwood - she calls it shortbread which stumped me because it isn't a shortbread at all, it's really a classic European butter cake.  I'm so glad she shared the recipe though - it's rich, it's moist, it's totally decadent.  So, whether you call it a skillet cake, a butter cake, a marzipan cake, or Trisha Yearwood's shortbread, you simply have to make it.

You're welcome.

European Almond Butter Cake 

makes one 10-inch cast iron skillet cake, adapted from Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen by Trisha Yearwood

Printable Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar

  • 12 tablespoons (170g) unsalted butter, melted

  • 2 large eggs (100-110g)

  • 1 teaspoon (6g) pure almond extract

  • 1 1/2 cups (210g) all purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon (5g) fine salt

  • 1/2 cup (50g) sliced almonds

  • 2 tablespoons (30g) Turbinado sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 10-inch cast iron skillet with nonstick foil (or regular foil that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray).

  2. In a large bowl, mix together granulated sugar and melted butter; then stir in eggs and almond extract.

  3. Add the salt and flour; mix well.

  4. Pour into nonstick foil lined skillet.

  5. Sprinkle almonds and Turbinado sugar evenly over the surface of the cake.

  6. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

  7. Cool completely in skillet (several hours).

  8. Remove from pan, peel away foil, cut into thin slices with a serrated knife.