Cake, Chocolate, fruit, Petit Four, Recipes

Raspberry Dark Chocolate Cakelettes, Instagram, and a Happy (Early) Valentine’s!

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Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and although I typically am not big on “Hallmark Holidays”, I still love to indulge a bit in what is supposed to be our nation’s day of love. After purchasing a copy of Paris Patisseries and rifling through page after gorgeous page, I was inspired by a picture of Pain de Sucre’s raspberry heart cakes and knew I wanted to make something similar of my own. But of course, it’s not quite Valentine’s Day without a bit of chocolate, so I made these not only raspberry flavored, but also added in some very dark (72%) chocolate.

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I immediately went to my specialty foods store and bought this adorable heart fleximold. Isn’t it cute?? And as a baker, there is no better feeling than having a new, fresh fleximold. After working in a kitchen full of old, beat-up molds, a new one is the stuff of dreams.

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Also, I know that these look very similar to Red Velvet cakes, but I can assure you that they’re not! In fact, if you love chocolate, they’re even better than Red Velvet! These cakelettes have a very tender and dense crumb, and a very smooth mouthfeel. The chocolate lends them an almost creamy richness as well. The raspberry flavor comes from straining raspberry preserves through a fine mesh sieve, and using what looks like an intensely-flavored thick raspberry syrup that is left after straining. This step is a bit tedious, but is certainly worth the trouble. I highly recommend these if you’re looking for something to make for your Boo on that special day *wink wink*

Before I post the recipe, I wanted to let you guys know that after high demand, I’ve started an Instagram! So if you’re interested in seeing some of the things I make at work or taking a peek at my life outside this blog, feel free to follow me at #lainey_made! I promise you I won’t post anything lame or inappropro!

Raspberry Dark Chocolate Truffle Cake

makes 12 (2.5″) cakelettes

168 g strained raspberry preserves (I strained about 2/3 of a 16oz container, but what you get leftover depends on how thick the preserves are)

186 g 72% dark chocolate, chopped

200 g whole eggs (4 large)

80 g granulated sugar

100 g cake flour

5 g baking powder

4 g salt

1/2 tsp. red gel color

After straining raspberry preserves, discard pulp and seeds, and use only the syrup left over.

Preheat oven to 330F. Using a double boiler over low heat, melt chocolate and after completely melted, gently stir in raspberry syrup until emulsified. Turn off heat but keep bowl over the double boiler to keep it warm.

In a bowl of a stand mixer, whip eggs and sugar until eggs are very pale and reach ribbon stage. While eggs are whipping, sift together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.

When eggs are done whipping, gently fold in chocolate/raspberry mixture until almost fully incorporated. Fold in flour mixture, then fold in red gel color. Eggs will deflate a bit while folding, so don’t worry too much if it loses some volume.

Distribute batter evenly between molds, and bake 18-20 minutes. Cakes are done when you can start seeing tiny cracks on top. Let cool completely in molds and then enjoy eating them with someone you love!

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Breakfast, Custard, Petit Four, Recipes

Chai Latte Eclairs

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After going through a rough week and a nasty cold, there was nothing I wanted to do more on my day off than just spend it relaxing by myself, watching movie after movie on Netflix while sipping on a hot latte. Yes, I am aware that dairy is bad for a cold, but it’s soothing, okay?! Plus at this point I’m almost all the way through it, and it was time for a little indulgence.

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There’s a little outdoor cafe by the train station here that I absolutely adore, and they happen to make excellent chai lattes. I got to spend my morning chilling on their patio, surrounded by greenery and perfect SoCal weather, all while grubbing on some yummy Greek food and treating myself to a latte (plus or minus some coughing or sneezing here and there, but I choose to forget those parts!). Despite being sick, I also decided to bake on my day off, so why not make an homage to this drink that I wholeheartedly adore?

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A big ol’ bowl of chai pastry cream. I added hints of cinnamon and vanilla, so while the cream itself is cold, the flavor holds a lot of warmth.

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I topped each eclair with a creamy cinnamon icing, and I love that you can see the little flecks of cinnamon floating around there. I kept the decor to a minimum on these guys, because sometimes patience has no place in this kitchen! I made the pastry cream first, then as I was making the eclairs I had my cream chilling in the fridge so that by the time the eclairs were baked, the cream would be cold enough to pipe. These were little 3-inch eclairs, but feel free to make them as big (or as small!) as you desire.

The pate a choux recipe I used wasn’t my own, but can be found here. The only thing I did differently was I baked my eclairs at 325F instead of 375F, and increased the baking time. Enjoy!

Chai Latte Pastry Cream

fills 32 (3-inch) eclairs

276 g milk

203 g heavy cream

6 g loose-leaf chai tea (or 3 tea bags)

2 cinnamon sticks

100 g whole eggs (2 large eggs)

24 g cornstarch

10 g brown sugar

70 g granulated sugar

55 g butter, cold, cut into small cubes

3 g vanilla extract

Combine your milk, cream, chai leaves, and cinnamon sticks in a medium-sized saucepot and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and let chai and cinnamon sticks steep in cream for at least 10 minutes. Strain tea and cinnamon sticks from cream mixture, then return cream to saucepot and warm up again, just to a scald. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, cornstarch, brown sugar, and granulated sugar just until there are no more lumps. Temper egg mixture into hot cream, then cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until cream thickens to the consistency of pudding. Strain cream through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl set over an ice bath. While cream is still hot, stir in your butter and vanilla extract. Chill completely before filling eclairs.

Cinnamon Icing

150 g powdered sugar

60 g heavy cream

scant 1/8th tsp. ground cinnamon

Sift powdered sugar to remove lumps, then whisk together with heavy cream and cinnamon until smooth. Mixture will be really thick. Pipe icing over the tops of eclairs after they are filled.

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Candy, fruit, Gluten Free, Petit Four, Recipes, Vegan

Coconut & Pomegranate Mochi [Vegan, Gluten Free]

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Mochi is a treat that I loved as a kid, and still love to this day. For those of you who haven’t experienced this Japanese delight, mochi is a slightly sweet, sticky dessert snack made from Mochiko, or glutinous rice flour.

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As I strolled about the market the other day, I saw a basket full of fresh pomegranates, and I knew I wanted to cook with them. I love pomegranate seeds not only for their taste, but also their look; they look like shiny, precious gemstones, and what girl doesn’t love a little sparkle?

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The batter before being cooked. I have been dying to make something with coconut lately, and I knew this would be a match made in heaven!

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Coming out of the oven. This recipe is by NO means anything close to the traditional method of making mochi, which for years has been made by pounding glutinous rice over and over again in a large mortar-and-pestle type of tool, but homie ain’t got time to play games! This recipe is infinitely easier; you literally just need a whisk and a bowl, and you’re good to go!

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Cutting into the sticky stuff! Make sure you use a clean, sharp knife before cutting into these babies, otherwise you’ll have to deal with the mochi sticking to your knife and a not-so-pretty mess on your hands.

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The finished product. The mochi itself is creamy, chewy, and soft, and the pomegranate seeds add a crunch and a tart pop of flavor when you bite into them. For the mochi I used a blend of both coconut water and coconut milk, to keep it from being overly rich. I also tossed the mochi in some coconut flour instead of the traditional rice flour, giving it a nice nutty flavor as well.

Coconut & Pomegranate Mochi

makes 28 (1×1″) pieces or 7 (1×4″) logs (as pictured)

311 g Mochiko (sweet rice flour)

324 g granulated white sugar

224 g coconut water

254 g coconut milk

65 g fresh pomegranate seeds, carefully patted dry

coconut flour, as needed

Preheat your oven to 350F. Liberally grease a 9×9″ square pan. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together your Mochiko and sugar until combined. Whisk in coconut water and coconut milk, stirring just until there are no more lumps. Gently fold in your pomegranate seeds, and pour batter into your prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour, or until the edges of your mochi are lightly golden brown and the mochi jiggles just slightly in the center if shaken. Cool completely. Run a knife around the edge of your pan, and turn over onto a cutting board covered with parchment (to keep it from sticking as you cut it). Using a clean, SHARP knife, trim off your edges (they’re too tough to serve) and then cut mochi into 1×1″ cubes (or 1×4″ logs like I did, but keep in mind that this is a large portion!), and then gently toss in coconut flour just to cover all sides. Garnish with more fresh pomegranate seeds if desired, and enjoy!

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Cake, Chocolate, Petit Four, Recipes

Green Tea & Black Sesame Halva Gateaux

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I love green tea. I also happen to love coffee. Since I’ve been making so many fruit-based desserts lately, I wanted to switch things up a bit and make something that has a bit of bitterness to it rather than something tart, but I was torn on which to pick; green tea or coffee? Why not both?

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This cake has layers of green tea sponge cake and black sesame halva filling, and is topped with a creamy mocha glaze. I have to say, the flavor combination couldn’t be more perfect.

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The black sesame filling before adding your chocolate. Halva is a sweet sesame paste, similar in texture to tahini but much, much sweeter. It provides an intensely nutty flavor to the cake, and the addition of toasted black sesame gives a slight crunch to the filling.

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Overall, I’m very satisfied with how this cake came out. I’ll admit that I was a little hesitant about the outcome as I was making it since I was just experimenting with these flavors, but it turned out to be one of the best tasting cakes I’ve made yet, so I’m very proud of it!

Green Tea & Black Sesame Halva Gateaux

makes 6 (1″x 4″) bars

For green tea sponge cake:

100 g egg yolks

50 g whole eggs (1 large egg)

80 g granulated sugar

95 g cake flour

3 g baking powder

12 g sweet matcha powder

a scant pinch of salt

for black sesame filling:

85 g black sesame seeds

255 g soft halva (1 9oz package)

170 g milk chocolate, melted

for mocha glaze:

5 g powdered gelatin

25 g water

40 g sugar

20 g cocoa powder

a pinch of salt

213 g strong coffee

60 g heavy cream

For green tea sponge: Preheat your oven to 350F, and grease a 13×17″ jelly roll pan, and line it with parchment paper. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together egg yolks and whole eggs with sugar on high until eggs are pale and very thick. In another bowl, sift together your cake flour, baking powder, matcha, and salt. Fold your dry ingredients into your eggs, and spread batter over your sheet pan using an offset spatula. It should be a very thin layer. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the top of the cake just barely gets a little color. Cool completely, then refrigerate.

For black sesame filling: Toast your black sesame seeds in a pan over medium high heat until the seeds become slightly aromatic, then while seeds are still hot, pulse in a food processor for about 1 minute, just to break up the seeds. Add your soft halva to the seeds and blend another minute until mixture is slightly smooth. You don’t want to blend it too much because you want it to still be slightly crunchy. Add your melted chocolate and blend just until combined. Mixture will be really thick. Store at room temperature.

For mocha glaze: Bloom your gelatin in your water. In another bowl, whisk together sugar, cocoa powder, and salt until there are no lumps. Set aside.ย  In a small saucepot, combine your coffee and cream and heat over medium heat until steaming. Whisk in your sugar/cocoa mixture, then whisk in your gelatin mixture, and just heat until the gelatin is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Glaze will be really thin. Chill until glaze thickens slightly (this could take a couple hours depending on how hot you got your coffee/cream).

For assembly: Cut your cooled sponge cake into quarters, then spread a layer of your halva filling on top of one of the cake quarters, and layer on the next cake, and repeat, finishing with sponge cake on top and pressing down to make sure the surface is flat. Chill until filling is firm. When glaze has cooled, cover the cake using about half ofย  your glaze (the top layer of sponge will absorb this glaze because the glaze is thin) and refrigerate until set. Pour the rest of your glaze on top, then spread into an even layer over the cake. Glaze should look glossy. Refrigerate until glaze is set, then using a very hot, clean knife, trim off edges of cake and cut into bars (you should get 6 (1×4″) bars). I dusted the top of mine with a bit of gold dust and then sprinkled some more black sesame seeds on top for garnish. Enjoy!

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Cake, Caramel, Chocolate, Cookies, Custard, DIY, fruit, Petit Four, Places, Wedding

Wedded Bliss Part 4: The Cake, The Day

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After over a year of planning, last Saturday Robert and I finally got married! A couple of hours ago we just got back from our amazing honeymoon (woot Vegas!) so now I finally have some time to show you guys a couple of pictures. I’m not going to post up too many pictures just because the photographers we hired need a couple more weeks before all the images are edited, but I just wanna give you guys a taste of our special day.

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Macaron craziness. I made roughly 400 macarons to give as our favors for our guests. Soo much effort but it was totally worth it! Each person got a raspberry lychee rose macaron, a hazelnut caramel macaron, and a dark chocolate, olive oil, and fleur de sel macaron.

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All packaged and ready to go! Because of the massive number that I had to make and how tiny our apartment is, I would say this was more than a challenge, but it all worked out in the end. I also had some help from the hubby with packaging them ๐Ÿ™‚

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Trying to Tetris the tiers of our cake into our fridge. The cake was literally the easiest part of the wedding planning. For a long time I already knew what I wanted to do and how I wanted it to look, and it definitely helped that I build wedding cakes at work all the time.

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The finished cake: coconut sponge cake, lemon curd filling, and Italian buttercream. We had one of Robert’s friends help us deliver the cake and stack it the morning of, so that was a good amount of weight off of our shoulders and it turned out looking just as awesome as I imagined. I love how rustic and homemade (but also clean and finished) it looks.

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Cutting into our cake. The gumpaste peonies held up throughout delivery and the day of, so I’m pretty proud of that as well.

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Anyway, I hope you guys enjoyed my little post about our big day. The weather was amazing, the food was amazing, and the entire day couldn’t have been any better. I am now happily married to the most amazing man I’ve ever met, and looking forward to a lifetime of happiness with him. While I didn’t get a chance to post about some of the other wedding-related crafts I made (our guest book, our painting, the chair hangs, etc.) hopefully you all got a good taste of what went on during these “Wedded Bliss” posts. Love you guys, and thanks for reading! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Cake, Candy, Chocolate, Cookies, Crafts, DIY, fruit, Petit Four, Wedding

Wedded Bliss Part 3: Flowers and Showers

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Yesterday Robert’s mom was kind enough to throw me a bridal shower, and I have to say it was a lot of fun! We played games, won prizes, had awesome food, and I got to open up some great and very thoughtful gifts.

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All the bridesmaids seemed to enjoy themselves as well, so I’m pretty happy about that. The theme colors were pink and gold, and I wanted to make a little dessert buffet to match that.

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The spread looks kinda small, but we were only expecting 20 or so people, so it ended up being just enough desserts!

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Mini almond and orange cupcakes with buttercream roses.

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Strawberry and rose truffles. I absolutely LOVED these babies, and they were so easy to make. Not gonna lie, I left a few of these at my house to snack on….

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Coconut cake pops and mango-peach marshmallow lollipops. The marshmallow lollipops turned out a little more difficult to make than I remember, but they came out really cute and pretty damn delicious so I’m proud of them!

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Lemon sugar cookies that say “je t’aime.” Cute and simple!

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Vanilla pate a choux. Another simple flavor, but just a good, comforting dessert. I left some of these at home for me too, hahaha.

I’ve also spent the last couple of weeks making gumpaste peonies for the wedding cake, and they’re finally finished! The colors are a little dark in the pictures because the gumpaste needs a few more days to dry, but here’s a few progression shots for ya’.

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Lil’ buds

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The first layer of petals

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Second layer

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Third layer. Lookin’ good so far!

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Fourth layer, getting too big for the egg carton!

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A finished peony; my babies are all grown up! I’m pretty proud of how these turned out. I don’t have TOO much experience making gumpaste flowers and I’ve never made peonies before, so these ended up being a lot of work and trial and error. In total it took me almost 3 weeks to finish all of these (this includes drying time and all the breaks I took in between for work and the dessert buffet, haha), but I would definitely say it was worth it.

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It’s kinda hard to see all the veining in there, but it’s there! The flowers are super delicate, so here’s hoping they actually make it to the wedding. Hope you all enjoyed my very pink post, and look forward to more!

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Cookies, fruit, Gluten Free, Recipes, Vegan

[Vegan & Gluten Free] Chestnut & Cherry Pillows

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I absolutely love chestnuts in winter. They’re perfect in both sweet and savoury foods, and are synonymous with the holidays. Yesterday I paired them with a quick cherry jam, and they made just a perfectly sweet, tart, and tender cookie sandwich.

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I love this recipe because it’s incredibly simple and it’s just the perfect little holiday bite. The cherry filling also has a bit of vanilla bean and Grand Marnier, which gives it a bit more depth of flavour.

[Vegan & Gluten Free] Chestnut & Cherry Pillows

makes about 15 sandwiches

For chestnut cookies:

245 g chestnut paste

95 g almond flour

4 g xanthan gum

2 g salt

10 g granulated sugar, plus more for garnish

Preheat oven to 350F. In a bowl of a food processor, combine all ingredients and blitz just until all ingredients come together to form a paste. Scrape out dough onto a piece of parchment paper, then roll out dough between 2 sheets of parchment until dough is 1/8th of an inch thick. At this point you can refrigerate the dough until it is firm, or if you’re impatient like me, just carefully peel the top piece of parchment off and cut dough into 1″ squares.

Place cookies onto a parchment-lined sheet pan about an inch apart, then sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar. Bake for 8-9 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Let cool completely before filling.

For quick cherry “jam”:

260 g dried cherries

1 ea. vanilla bean, scraped

60 g Grand Marnier

60 g water

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat; be careful that the Grand Marnier doesn’t flame up (this happened the first time I made these haha). Discard vanilla bean and strain out excess liquid. Place cherries in the bowl of a food processor, and blitz until it forms a smooth paste. Cool completely. Spread or pipe filling onto half of the cookies and sandwich with the other half.

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