Archive for the Category ◊ Cakes & Cupcakes ◊

29 Aug 2019 Coconut Mango Cheesecake

This is one of my favorite cheesecakes! It’s showy and special and tastes wonderful 🙂 The method for this cheesecake is different from my usual method, but it works like a dream, and I’ve never had this cheesecake crack. The only tricky part is getting the right ‘Cream of Coconut’. Try to find the Coco Lopez brand, or any other brand used for making mixed drinks such as the Pina Colada. Don’t use canned coconut milk or even the new canned coconut cream [this is getting so confusing!], you need Cream of Coconut. It’s sweet and thick. Here are pictures of the two brands I have used successfully.

Hope you can make this for a special occasion in your life. It’s a winner!

Coconut-Mango Cheesecake

Coconut Crust:

  • 2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 8 whole graham crackers, broken
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, diced

Cheesecake:

  • 32-ounces Philadelphia-brand cream cheese (do not use reduced-fat, fat-free, or whipped) The cream cheese MUST be at room temperature. Do not proceed with cold cream cheese!
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 15-ounce can (sweetened) cream of coconut (such as Coco López, look for it in the alcohol mixers section. Do NOT USE COCONUT MILK!)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 5 large eggs

Glaze:

  • ¼ cup  water
  • 1 pkg unflavored gelatin
  • 2 ½-3 cups mango puree (from 2 16 oz packages frozen mango chunks)
  • 1/2 cup sugar, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

For crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Blend all ingredients in processor until finely ground and sticking together, 1 to 2 minutes.
  3.  Press crumb mixture onto bottom and 2 1/2 inches up sides of 10-inch-diameter spring form pan with 2 3/4- to 3-inch-high sides.
  4. Bake crust until golden, 14 to 15 minutes.
  5. Cool crust on rack.
  6. Increase oven temperature to 425°F.

For filling:

  1. Blend cream cheese and sugar in bowl of electric mixer. Stir in cream of coconut, coconut extract and salt. Add eggs 1 at a time. Mix to blend.
  2.  Pour filling into crust. Bake cheesecake 10 minutes at 425°F .
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 250°F. Bake until center is softly set, about 1 hour 35 minutes longer.
  4. Turn off oven, keeping the oven door closed. Cool cake in oven 1 hour.
  5. Refrigerate cake, uncovered, at least 12 hours or overnight.

For glaze:

  1. Place water in small cup or bowl.  Sprinkle gelatin over water. Let stand until gelatin softens, about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, pour mango puree and sugar into small saucepan. Taste that flavor is correct. Add more mango puree or more sugar if needed.
  3. Stir mixture over low heat until sugar dissolves, bubbles form at edge of pan, and mixture is hot.
  4. Add gelatin mixture and stir 1 minute to dissolve. Stir in vanilla.
  5. Cool mango mixture until lukewarm, stirring occasionally.
  6. Pour glaze into center of cheesecake. Rotate and tilt the pan until glaze is spread evenly over top.
  7. Chill cheesecake to set glaze, approximately 3 hours.

Notes: DO AHEAD! This recipe can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep chilled.

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15 Aug 2019 Triple Chocolate Mousse Torte

This is the cake I wanted for my birthday this year and it’s what a friend requested for her birthday a few months ago. It’s a fabulous trifecta of chocolate: semi sweet chocolate in a brownie-like cake on the bottom, a smooth and rich milk chocolate mousse for the middle layer, and a creamy white chocolate mousse for the top layer.  After that description, I’m guessing you’ll want it for your birthday, too! The torte not only tastes fantastic, it looks impressive, it slices well and it holds it’s shape after being cut. Magnifique!

The torte is a bit of effort to make, but each step, each layer, is easy and is relatively quick to accomplish.  Make the bottom layer before going to bed, let it cool on the counter while you sleep.  The next day, make the middle layer, refrigerate it, and wash the dishes. Then make the top layer and refrigerate the cake until serving time. Cake will keep 24 hours in refrigerator, but I always serve it on the day I make the second and third layers.

And look, here’s a link to a how-to video about making the torte!

The original recipe is from Cooks Illustrated. I think it was a cover recipe for one of their magazines. You can access the recipe online at Cooksillustrated.com, but it will cost you (and I hate that about Cooks Illustrated recipes).

So, after watching the video you’ll know this is not a difficult recipe. Just follow the directions. Melt the chocolate slowly. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixtures. Use an electric mixer when specified and hand whisk or a spatula when specified.  If you can read, you can make this cake. “It’s all about the recipe” is my tag line, and I truly believe it!

I use Lindt chocolate bars in each layer. You’ll need two of the large bars for the bottom layer (around 70% cacao), two large milk chocolate bars for the middle layer, and two white chocolate bars for the top layer. Throw in an extra bar of your favorite type to grate on top. That’s about $20 worth of chocolate. In a pinch, you could use chocolate chips, which would be cheaper but wouldn’t taste quite as good and you’d have a harder time melting the chocolate (chocolate chips are not made to melt).

You’ll need a 9-inch springform pan, with sides at least 3 inches high to make this torte. If you’re in town, you can borrow mine. You could also order one off of Amazon, the Fat Daddio’s brand is my favorite. TJ Maxx/HomeGoods has started carrying Fat Daddio’s pans, usually at half the price Amazon sells them for, but it’s hit-or-miss at TJMaxx, isn’t it? Sur la Table and other specialty cooking stores will definitely carry 9-inch springform pans, usually at the same price as Amazon.

Triple Chocolate Mousse Torte

THE BOTTOM LAYER

  •  6 tablespoons (3 oz) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces (plus extra for greasing pan)
  •  7 ounces semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I prefer semi-sweet).
  •  ¾ teaspoon instant espresso powder
  •  1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  •  4 eggs (separated)
  • Pinch salt
  •  1/3 cup light brown sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with sides at least 3 inches high and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter, chocolate and espresso powder in a large heatproof bowl set over a bowl of really hot water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk in the vanilla and egg yolks into the chocolate mixture and set aside.
  4. With a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt at medium speed until frothy, about 30 seconds. Add half of the brown sugar and beat until combined, about 15 seconds. Add the remaining brown sugar and beat at high speed until soft peaks form when the whisk is lifted, about 1 minute longer, scraping down the sides halfway through.
  5. With a hand-held whisk, whisk one-third of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining egg whites until no white streaks remain.
  6. Carefully transfer the batter to the prepared springform pan, gently smoothing the top with an offset spatula.
  7. Bake until the cake has risen, is firm around the edges, and the center has just set but is still soft (the center of cake will spring back after pressing gently with your finger), 13 to 18 minutes.
  8. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour. (The cake will collapse as it cools).
  9. Do not remove the cake from the pan!

THE MIDDLE LAYER:

  •  2 tablespoons cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-processed, Hershey’s is fine).
  •  5 tablespoons hot water
  •  7 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
  •  1½ cups cold heavy cream
  •  1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  •  1/8 teaspoon table salt
  1. Whisk together the cocoa powder and hot water in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over another bowl filled with very, very hot water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk the cocoa powder mixture into the melted chocolate until smooth.
  4. With an electric mixer whisk the cream, granulated sugar and salt on medium speed until the mixture begins to thicken, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to high and whip until soft peaks form.
  5. With a handheld wire whisk, stir one-third of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture to lighten. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain.
  6. Spoon the mousse into the springform pan over the cooled cake and gently tap the pan on counter 3 times to remove any large air bubbles; smooth the top with an offset spatula. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes while preparing the top layer.

THE TOP LAYER

  •  ¾ teaspoon powdered gelatin
  •  1 tablespoon water
  •  6 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
  •  1½ cups cold heavy cream (divided use)
  • Additional grated chocolate (milk or dark) or cocoa powder for decoration, optional
  1. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water; let stand for at least 5 minutes.
  2. Place the white chocolate in a medium bowl.
  3. Bring ½ cup of the heavy cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat or in the microwave.
  4. Stir the gelatin mixture, into the hot cream, whisking until fully dissolved.
  5. Pour the cream-gelatin mixture over the white chocolate and whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is completely smooth (I usually sit the bowl of chocolate over another bowl of boiling water to help it melt).
  6. Cool mixture to room temperature, stirring occasionally, 5 to 8 minutes. The mixture will thicken slightly.
  7. With an electric mixer whisk the remaining 1 cup heavy cream at medium speed until it begins to thicken, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to high and whip until soft peaks form when the whisk is lifted.
  8. Whisk one-third of the whipped cream, with a hand held whisk, into the white chocolate mixture to lighten. Using a rubber spatula, fold the remaining whipped cream into the white chocolate mixture until no white streaks remain.
  9. Spoon the white chocolate mousse into the pan over the middle layer. Smooth the top with an offset spatula.
  10. Return the cake to the refrigerator and chill until set, at least 2½ hours.
  11. Garnish the top of cake with grated chocolate or dust with cocoa powder, if desired.
  12. Run a thin knife between the cake and side of the springform pan, then remove the side of pan. Place torte on serving plate.
  13. Cut into slices and share (for clean slices, dip a sharp knife into hot water and wipe dry between cuts).

NOTES: The cake can be made up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated.

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25 Jun 2019 Raspberry-Ricotta Snack Cake

This cake is simply delicious, light and moist, unassuming and satisfying. It’s good for breakfast, it’s good for a light dessert, and it’s good for an afternoon tea or snack. It’s good for company, it’s good for a family treat, and it’s good for just honoring the fact that you are alive, it’s Summer, and having something completely homemade with fresh fruit is the right thing to do.

The original recipe is from Epicurious, which called for using frozen berries. I’ve only ever made this with fresh raspberries, so that is reflected in the recipe below. Others have made this cake with blackberries, blueberries, pitted and halved cherries, diced mango, and *gasp* chocolate chips.

Not being a ricotta lover, I wouldn’t have made this cake if weren’t made for me at a Cookbook Club retreat a few years ago. I loved it, the ricotta wasn’t overwhelming and is important to the character of this cake. The ricotta keeps the cake moist and light, and allows it to stay moist for two days or more.

If there are any leftover slices, wrap and freeze for an on-demand treat later on.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (188 grams)

1 cup sugar (198 grams)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs

15 oz carton ricotta

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1 cup raspberries (6 oz carton) divided use (can substitute blueberries, cherries, blackberries, small chunks of mango, or even, *gasp*, chocolate chips) Ok to add a few extra berries on top of batter.

Zest of 1 small lemon (OK to sub lime or orange zest)

Approx. 1 teaspoon white sugar, vanilla sugar, coarse sugar, or raw sugar, optional

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Line a 9″-diameter cake pan with parchment paper and lightly coat with nonstick spray.
  3. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
  4. With an electric mixer, whisk eggs, ricotta, and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth.
  5. Stir in dry ingredients, whisk just until blended.
  6. Stir in butter just until combined.
  7. By hand, fold 3/4 cup raspberries (or other fruit), taking care not to crush berries.
  8. Fold in zest.
  9. Pour batter into prepared pan and scatter remaining 1/4 cup raspberries (or other fruit) over top (OK to add more berries to make a pleasing design on top.)
  10. Sprinkle a small amount of sugar, vanilla sugar, or raw sugar on top of cake.
  11. Bake cake until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50–60 minutes. Let cool at least 20 minutes before unmolding.
  12. If desired, sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

Do ahead: Cake can be made 2 days ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature.

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31 May 2019 Madelienes

Madeleines. What are they anyway?  Almost a cookie but really a slightly dry cake?  Yes, that’s right! No frosting? Nope, but they are often dusted with powdered sugar… No caramel swirl? Never! No bits of chocolate? Not usually… And what’s with that lump on the back? Gotta have a lump in the back! Sooo…, what’s the big deal? Madeleines are super plain, super dry, and super yummy, I love them! Madeleines are popular tea cakes in cafes around the world. The world loves them!

Madeleines are French tea cakes, but thought of as a cookie, and are instantly recognizable with their scalloped shell shape that is ribbed on one side and smooth, but with a hump, on the other. Direct from the oven these buttery cakes have wonderfully crisp edges, tender crumb and are best eaten right away, although they will keep in a tin on the counter for 3-4 days. A dusting of powdered sugar is all that they really need, although some brush still warm Madeleines with a tangy lemon glaze.  Starbucks dips tips of their Madeleines into chocolate.

Madeleines are quite easy to make, but you’ll need to purchase scalloped Madeleine molds to get started. The molds are available in different sizes and materials, but you’ll probably find non-stick pans to be the easiest to use.

I have tested out many recipes over the years.  This one is from Epicurious, but with changes to cooking times, method, and ingredients (I doubled the lemon zest, upped the vanilla, added in some baking powder, reduced the oven temperature and reduced the baking time).

The recipe below makes 24 Madeleines.

Madeleines

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (usually from one medium lemon)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (125 grams) all purpose flour
  • 5 oz (10 tablespoons, 1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (plus extra to brush in molds)
  • Powdered sugar
  • Extra melted butter to brush on pans
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Brush each madeleine mold with melted butter (use the additional butter, not the 5 oz needed for the batter!)
  3. Beat eggs and sugar with electric mixer just to blend
  4. Beat in vanilla, lemon zest, and salt
  5. In another bowl, whisk flour with baking powder and salt and then add gradually to butter-sugar-egg mixture.
  6. Gradually add melted and cooled butter to mixture, beating with electric mixer just to blend
  7. Spoon 1 tablespoon batter into each buttered madeleine mold
  8. Place in preheated oven and bake for 9-10 minutes or until edges are slightly browned and there is a visible hump in the middle of each madeleine.
  9. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for about 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  10. Repeat with remaining batter. Recipe makes 24 standard sized madeleines
  11. When cool, dust with powdered sugar. If necessary dust with powdered sugar again just before serving.

Note: Batter can be made one day ahead. Refrigerate batter and baked on day two.

Variation: replace lemon zest with orange zest and add 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom to the flour mixture.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today! I hope you find someone wonderful to share these special treats with 🙂

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