Tag Archives: sweet recipes

Chocolate Lavender Cake with Blackberry Filling & Lavender Frosting

Well guys, I’ve done it. I written the first cake recipe of my 31 before 32 birthday challenge. It was a little labor intensive, mostly because I started with only a vague idea of what I wanted my finished product to look like, but I think things turned out pretty well. Plus, it was pretty delicious if I do say so myself. The recipe looks long, I know, but that is also because I included how I assembled and decorated the cake. You don’t have to take it as far as I did; this cake would still delicious without the fussy presentation. Here we go.

Ingredients:

Cake

Blackberry Filling

  • 4 pints of blackberries (minus 10 pretty ones*)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Lavender Frosting

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter
  • 6-8 cups of powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp powdered lavender*
  • pinch of salt
  • 2-3 drops of food coloring (optional)

Chocolate Ganache

  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions

  1. Either the night or several hours before you bake your cake, combine the ganache ingredients in a microwave dish and cook at 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until the chocolate is completely melted and incorporated into the cream. Set aside uncovered for at least 3 hours to cool.
  2. Prepare the cake mix according to the directions on the box and fold in the chopped lavender after the batter is combined. Split the batter evenly between 3 9″ pans and bake as directed.
  3. While the cakes are baking, combine the filling ingredients in a medium sauce pan. Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until the mixture has thickened sufficiently (A). Allow to cool to room temp before using.
    1. Put a plate in the freezer for about fifteen minutes before taking it out to test a spoonful of hot filling. Take the filling off the heat while testing. Push your finger through the filling on the plate – you’re looking for it to wrinkle and not flood back in to fill the gap.
  4. While the filling and the cake cool, beat softened butter (using a hand or stand mixer) adding the powdered sugar a 1/4 cup at a time until the frosting reaches the right consistency.
  5. Add in the food coloring and powdered lavender and beat for an additional two minutes.

 

Assembly

  1. Carefully, using a serrated knife or leveler, cut the domed top off of each of the cake layers producing three flat even(ish) layers.
  2. Fill piping bag (or ziplock bag) with 1/3 of your frosting.
  3. Starting with the bottom layer make a frosting ring around the bottom and middle layers of your cake.
  4. Split the black berry filling between the two layers carefully spreading across the cake to the frosting ringed edge.
  5. Stack the middle layer onto the bottom layer and the gently top with the top layer.
  6. Using the rest of the frosting in your piping bag (and a little from the bowl if you need) quickly cover the entire cake with a thin layer of frosting (crumb coat) and then place into a refrigerator to set for 25 minutes.
  7. Next, cover the cake in a more generous layer of the frosting, making sure to have a slightly thicker coating on the very top of the cake. Place in the refrigerator for an additional 25 minutes.
  8. Next spoon the cooled ganache over the top of the cake, creating drips down the side.
  9. Garnish the top of the cake with the remaining butter cream and the reserved blackberries. I also elected to use tiny chocolate candies.

Notes:

  • I wanted to try my hand at the “naked” frosting look for this cake, so most of the frosting was on the top and the top half of the side. This way there was still the frosting flavor, but the look was sill achieved because the more frosted bits were covered by the ganache.
  • Andy took the cake to work with him the day after I made it, and it didn’t even make it to lunch time. Which to me is a pretty good indication that the flavors were all balanced. That being said, despite my fondness for lavender, I didn’t want to over do it so that particular flavor could absolutely be turned up if you are baking for an audience with the same fondness. Be careful though; too much and you end up with a soapy taste.


London Fog Sugar Cookies

Still feeling pleased with my recent baking win, I  wanted to try my hand at a similar recipe, these London Fog Sugar Cookies. The cookie part was pretty much the same, and I am a sucker for anything with Earl Grey tea and fresh vanilla. Since we’re currently in what will most likely be our last cold snap of the season, I couldn’t think of a better time to whip up something that pairs great with a hot mug of something.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup confectioner’s (icing) sugar
  • ½ vanilla bean pod, split and seeds removed
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1 and ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon Earl Grey tea leaves (I just cut open one teabag and measured from there)
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons decorating sugar (for rolling, optional)

Directions

  1. In a small bowl or dish, combine the granulated sugar, icing sugar and vanilla bean seeds. Using your hands, rub the seeds into the sugar to evenly distribute them throughout.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter with the vanilla sugar mixture. Add egg and vanilla and mix until blended well.
  3. Add the flour, tea leaves, baking powder and salt and mix to combine into a soft dough.
  4. On a clean work surface, roll the dough into a log. Roll log in decorating sugar (if using). Wrap log tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and up to 24 hours until ready to bake.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and lightly grease a baking sheet. Slice chilled dough into ¼-inch thick slices. Bake until the edges are light brown and the middles set, about 6-8 minutes. Be aware that the bottoms will brown long before the sides or tops do, so don’t over bake!
  6. Cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Will keep covered at room temperature for 1-2 days.

Notes:

  • Since the Thyme Cookies were so surprisingly wonderful, I had really high hopes for this recipe. Before I get all nit-picky, I want to say this was a solidly good recipe; the problem was that I wasn’t wanting merely “good” I wanted “fantastic”.
  • The biggest issue I had with this recipe was flavor. Not that these had a bad flavor, they were just a little bland. The vanilla was very subtle and the earl grey, well if I hadn’t made them myself, I wouldn’t have known it was in there. They were perfectly fine with an accompanying strong cup of tea. All in all, if I decide to make these again, I am going to have to dial the flavors way up.


Chocolate Chai

This recipe came to me courtesy of one of my west coast friends Verhanika. She is entrepreneur, mother, blogger (Issues & Tissues), and all around bad-ass boss bitch. We met freshman year of college and have been friends ever since. In some of our recent phone conversations, she’d mentioned making herself a Chocolate Chai to enjoy while were on the phone or to wind down in the evenings. Finally I broke down and asked for the recipe because it sounded amazing, and it was.

Ingredients:

Directions:

1. In a small sauce pan over medium heat combine chips and cover with milk.  2. As the chips start melting add your chai mix.  3. Whisk ingredients together until chocolate is fully melted and integrated into the liquid. 4. Carefully, pour into a tall mug, or two smaller mugs, and enjoy!

Notes:

  • The ambiguity on the milk measurement is to allow for people who’d prefer a smaller quantity of beverage or for a more concentrated flavor. Personally, I go for the 1 1/2 cup 😉
  • If you can’t get your hands on the chai mix, you can steep 2 chai tea bags in the hot milk and then finish with a tbsp or two of sugar to add additional sweetness.
  • This beverage is already pretty amazing on its own, but if you want to take completely over the top, you can garnish the final product with a dollop of whipped cream and dusting of cinnamon.

 


Vanilla & Thyme Cookies

When it comes to baking, I am one of those people who like to have immediate results; sure, it may take hours, but at the end of the day, you have a finished product. In order to make myself stretch a little as a baker (and as a person), I decided to try the recipe for Vanilla & Thyme Slice & Bake Cookies by A Beautiful Mess. Now the recipe says you can chill the cookies for a mere two hours, but since overnight was the optimal time, it seemed like the perfect place for me to start.

For the cookies:

  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, plus more for decorating
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

For the glaze:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. First, cream together the butter, sugar, and the seeds from the vanilla bean. To remove them just slice the bean down the center, and then use the tip of your knife to scrape the seeds out. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the thyme and egg and whisk together until well incorporated.
  2. Then stir in the flour and salt until a dough ball forms. You may need to use your (clean) hands to press the dough together here. Roll the dough into long cylinder, cover in plastic wrap, and freeze for at least 2 hours or overnight. You can keep this frozen in your freezer for at least a month (probably longer).
  3. When you are ready to make cookies, remove from the freezer and allow to sit out for a few minutes while your oven preheats. Then slice into 1/4 inch or slightly thicker rounds and place on a baking sheet lined with a baking mat or parchment paper.
  4. Bake at 325°F for 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the cookies on a cooling rack.
  5. In the meantime, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla until smooth. Dip the cooled cookies into the glaze, then place back on the cooling rack to allow excess glaze to drip off (put some wax paper underneath for easy clean up). If you are feeling fancy (remember, we are going for real life Martha here), you can decorate the tops with a few thyme leaves as well.

Notes:

  • This recipe was a winner for me. Personally, I’d skip the glaze if I was making them for just myself, but if you are a big fan of sweet, the thin vanilla glaze really does give you that little something extra. Plus it makes for a prettier cookie if you top it with the fresh thyme leaves.
  • Texture-wise, these cookies are much more like a shortbread than your the average slice and bake you get from the grocery store. They also don’t bake up in the expected manner. It sounds strange, but they “dry out” rather than expand and bake. So you have to watch them a little more closely. I baked for the minimum recommended time and then checked on them every two minutes afterwards until they were done.

Very Vanilla Baked Donuts

I felt like doing a bit of baking the other day, but I wasn’t really feeling cakes, cupcakes, or really any of the things I usually make, so I decided to go back to something I play around with a bit last year, donuts. After a bit of Pinterest research I can up with a simple recipe for Vanilla Glazed Baked Donuts. Which seemed pretty straight up and perfect to me.

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Ingredients

For the Donuts

  • For the Donuts
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup+1 1/2 tablespoon skim milk (full fat milk works too)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used vanilla paste instead since I wanted a stronger punch of vanilla)

For the Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 small pinch salt
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons milk
  • Optional: food coloring and sprinkles

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray a donut pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together egg, milk, butter and vanilla extract.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir together until no flour bits remain and all the ingredients are well combined. Try not to over-mix the batter.
  6. Use a large ziplock bag, cut a corner off the bottom of the bag and pipe the batter into each donut cavity, filling 3 ∕ 4 of the way full.
  7. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. While the donuts cool, make the glaze.
  10. In a medium bowl whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and salt.
  11. Add 1 tablespoon of milk, and whisk to combine. If the glaze is too thick, add additional milk, 1/2 teaspoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.
  12. Add food coloring if you wish.
  13. Once the donuts are completely cool, dip them into the vanilla glaze. Return to the wire rack and sprinkle with sprinkles. Allow the glaze to set for about 30 minutes before stacking or serving.

Notes:

  • These donuts were just solidly okay, well, I think they are only okay, Andy ate three and declared he’d eat the rest before letting me throw them away. I had the same issue with them as I had with the other donut recipes, they aren’t anywhere as good as what I can buy somewhere else. It’s a little disheartening. Is there some donut magic rule that I am missing?
  • As you can see in the “ingredients”, I substituted vanilla paste for the extract called for. I think the paste has a stronger richer flavor, and I think it added a bit more depth to the overall donut. I will probably use it in my glaze as well next time.
  • Be very careful not to over mix. I forgot the butter and had to add it in after the mix had come together and just those few extra stirs made for a noticeably more toothsome product.