Thursday, December 31, 2009


This is our new puppy Babycakes. She is a babydoll faced Maltese, she weighs in at a whopping 2 1/2 pounds and she is 15 weeks old. I have been waiting a long time to get another maltese and now Babycakes is here and taken over our lives.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Well this is the kind of fruitcake I really like. It won't last as long as the traditional fruit cakes made this time of year, but in my opinion it tastes way better!!! I made this cake last week for my hairdresser. She was giving it to the owner of the shop where she works for his birthday. It was a chiffon cake with pastry cream filling. Frosted with whipped cream and decorated with fresh fruit. The berries this time of year are not as flavorful as they are in the summer so I glazed them with a sweet neutral glaze.
They were thrilled with the cake and even called me from the beauty shop as they were eating it to tell me just how good it was.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


The Classic Carrot Cake from Rose's Heavenly Cakes was simple to make and has a lovely white chocolate cream cheese frosting that is easily made in a food processor.

The kumquats are from my garden, I candied them a couple days ago.

I make carrot cakes all the time so I was anxious to try Rose's recipe. My recipe calls for crushed pineapple, Rose's uses raisins. My carrot cake has some spices like cinnamon, allspice and clove, Rose adds cinnamon and cocoa powder.
The flavor of the cake is great, my husband loved the raisins. I put walnuts around the outside and on top because he loves them too.
We both enjoyed this cake, I don't think I will abandon my regular recipe but this is a nice alternative and I loved the white chocolate cream cheese frosting.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Getting into the Christmas spirit making decorated sugar cookies.

Saturday, December 05, 2009


Just picked this beautiful Mineola off my tree in the backyard. They are sweet and delicious and I feel so nutritious eating one right after plucking it from the tree.

Next I need to candy some of these kumquats.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


The Heavenly Cake Bakers project this week was to bake the Pure Pumpkin Cheesecake from Rose's Heavenly Cakes on page 247. I bought some sweedish gingersnap cookies to make the crust from and added an extra ounce of cookie crumbs to the crust recipe. It seemed a bit wet without the extra crumbs plus it was hard to cover the sides and bottom without them.

The cheesecake batter comes out very smooth because a food processor is used. Great idea that I will use in the future.

After baking and chilling the cheesecake I made the caramel topping. I did double the recipe just to have a little extra. I love caramel sauce and this one is very good.

I would suggest cutting the cheesecake before putting the caramel topping on.

Cheesecake is not my favorite but all in all this cheesecake is very good and I love the caramel sauce.

Monday, November 09, 2009


I love it when things just work out. I met with some clients at the restaurant about their dessert for a party. They wanted a tasting plate and one of the items to be part of the plate was a flourless chocolate cake. This weeks baking project from Rose's Heavenly Cakes and the Heavenly Cake Bakers were these Baby Chocolate Oblivions, which is really a flourless chocolate cake. Rose suggested we use a silicone muffin pan which I do not have so I decided to use this mini brownie silicone mold instead. I wanted my oblivions to be small for this tasting plate and they turned out the perfect size. I used a 64% extra bitter chocolate so these babies are rich. Rose suggested 60 - 62% chocolate. The recipe only has 4 ingredients, chocolate, butter, sugar and eggs and was very simple to make. After 5 minutes of baking in a water bath, Rose suggests putting another roasting pan over the oblivions and bake another 10 minutes. Because my mold was shallow I just put another sheetpan over the oblivions and baked them another 5 minutes. They came out perfect.
I chilled them overnight. To unmold them I dipped them in hot water for a minute and they lifted right out of the mold. They taste best eaten at room temperature.
When I serve them as part of my tasting plate I will put a small rosette of ganache on them and a little chocolate decoration but for this post I just sprinkled them with powdered sugar.

Saturday, November 07, 2009


Delivered this wedding cake today and when I got to the venue all the power was out. Luckily I had asked my husband to come with me to help and he had to carry the cake up two flights of stairs in the dark!! He also kept me from completely loosing it, love that man!!
This cake was designed to match the centerpieces on the tables at the reception. They were manzaneta trees with red roses on them. With all the confusion I forgot to take a picture of the centerpieces but they were impressive. A company called Arrangements made them. I have worked with them for years and Ramon, the owner is the best.
The mother of the bride came in to the banquet hall as I was setting up the cake. She was thrilled and said it was exactly what they wanted. That is the best compliment ever.

Monday, November 02, 2009


This week the Heavenly Bakers made the Pumpkin Cake with Burnt Orange Silk Meringue Buttercream from Rose's Heavenly Cakes page 125. The pumpkin cake was a breeze to make but the buttercream is another story. There are three steps to making the buttercream, 1. Creme Anglaise, 2. Italian Meringue, 3. Put it all together with creamed butter, orange juice concentrate, orange zest and a little food color. I decided to double the recipe because it is just too hard to take the temperature of such a small amount of sugar syrup and I had a feeling I would need more buttercream to frost my pumpkin. I did have some left over but I am glad I made extra. This cake was not easy to frost. The little specks you see in the frosting are orange zest so it was impossible to get a smooth finish.

I used a 10 cup bundt pan and cut the cake down to resemble a pumpkin. I reduced fresh orange juice to make my orange concentrate and it worked out quite well. The cake is flavorful, has a nice texture, not too sweet and worked nicely with the orange buttercream.

I made my leaf and stem decorations out of gumpaste.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

I make macarons all the time and love them, in fact the picture below is on my menu right now. The macaron is the decoration and meant to be eaten by the lucky diner that orders the cookie plate. The filling for the macaron is passion fruit buttercream.
The macarons that I made for this challenge have a ganache filling in the yellow one, a caramel filling in the green one and an orange buttercream in the orange one.
They can be a little tricky to make so don't be disappointed if they aren't perfect the first time, just keep trying and they will eventually turn out the way they should. It's all in the folding of the dry ingredients into the egg white sugar mixture. Under folding will produce a macaron that is not perfectly smooth on top and over folding will not produce the "feet". I also like to let the piped unbaked macarons sit at room temperature for about an hour before baking.
2 1/4 Cups Powdered Sugar
2 cups Almond Flour
2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
5 Egg Whites (Have at room temperature)

1. Preheat the oven to 200°F . Combine the powdered sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.

2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.

3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t over fold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.

4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.

5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).

6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes at 200 degrees. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F. Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.

7. Cool on a rack before filling.

Passion Fruit Puree & Buttercream mixed to taste

Sunday, October 18, 2009


My kitchen smells heavenly because I just baked a heavenly cake from Rose's Heavenly Cakes. The cake I baked is the Apple Upside Down Cake on page 9 of the book. I am a member of the Heavenly Cake Bakers and we are baking our way through Rose's book.

I decided to use Golden Delicious Apples which was one of the choices Rose gave. We were to peel, core and slice the apples and put them in a bowl with lemon juice and some brown sugar. They were to sit for at least 1/2 hour so they had time to release their juices. I let them sit for about an hour and only a few juices were at the bottom of the bowl. I decided to cook them a little so more juices would come out. It worked, and I drained the apples, added the juice to the pan with the butter and more brown sugar to make a caramel. Then I put the caramelized juices in the prepared pan and layered the apples over the caramel.

I put my baking stone into the oven and heated it up to 350 degrees while I made the cake batter. The batter was easy to make, using Rose's technique of adding the butter to the flour mixture, instead of creaming the butter first. I love cake batter, so in the name of research I took a spoonful of it. Yum!! The rest of the batter was plopped on the top of the apples and spread to even it out. I baked the cake right on top of the stone in a regular oven for 45 minutes. As soon as I took it out of the oven I inverted it onto the platter. I lifted off the cake pan and was left with a perfect cake. I put on the toasted walnuts, cut into it and ate the most heavenly piece of warm Apple Upside Down Cake.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


This is my first Heavenly Cake Baker challenge. The choice for this week is Barcelona Brownie Bars on page 367 of Rose Levy Beranbaum's new book "Heavenly Cakes". They are in the oven right now as I am typing this.

The brownies were a breeze to make, you could make them by hand if you don't have a mixer. For the chocolate I used Valrhona Caraibe which is a 66% chocolate. For the pinch of salt I used Fleur de Sel a French sea salt that I love. To add the cream cheese I took a small amount of the batter and mixed it into the cream cheese then returned the mixture to the remaining batter. This helps to incorporate the cream cheese better into the batter.

I did not have a financier mold, (go figure a pastry chef without a financier mold), but I did have that nifty Wilton brownie silicone mold. I bought that mold to use for other dessert preperations but it came in handy for this challenge. I used a mini muffin pan for the extra batter. The mini muffin pan baked the brownies in exactly 15 minutes but the silicone mold took 17 minutes.

I did put the ganache plugs in after baking which was optional but I thought it was a good idea.
The brownies are moist and delicious!!! Lots of chocolate flavor!!!

The recipe made 34 pieces of chocolate, pecan heaven. Thanks Rose for another great recipe!!

Saturday, October 03, 2009


I just joined a new group, "The Heavenly Cake Bakers. We will be baking from Rose Levy Beranbaum's latest book Heavenly Cakes. Marie at Heavenly Cake Place started the group and I was one of the lucky bloggers to get a free autographed copy of the book. I will be baking at least two recipes from the book each month and posting pictures and a story about my experience. Marie chooses 4 recipes each month that we can pick from.
It should be a lot of fun so stay tuned for some scrumptious pictures. We won't be publishing the recipes because they are all in Rose's book and you just must get your own copy. I have all her other books and they are very good, well written and the recipes work. You can also join the Heavenly Cake Bakers just head on over to Marie's blog for the rules and to sign up (just clic on the widget below). When you get there you will see a little video clip of Rose promoting her book and the Heavenly Cake Bakers. She plans on visiting our blogs to see how we like her recipes.


Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Just want to show a cake I made last weekend. It was a carrot cake to feed 40 people. Filled it with cream cheese frosting and frosted it with vanilla buttercream. The flowers are made out of gumpaste with royal icing centers. The sides have toasted chopped walnuts pressed into the buttercream.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

I made my puff pastry early in the month and baked off a little of it just to see if it rose properly. It did so I froze the rest to use at a later date.

So the night before the reveal date in the middle of making a half sheet cake and 200 truffles I remembered that I needed to finish my challenge. Luckily I remembered I had some peaches in the freezer that my husband had cut up. I pulled them out along with some white peach puree and let them thaw. Then I cut the peaches into 1/4" dice. I put about 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a saucepan, 1/2 cup peach puree and 1 half vanilla bean. I let this come to a caramel then threw in the peaches. I cooked them for about 5 minutes then deglazed the pan with a little more peach puree. Then I squeezed about a quarter of a lemon in the mix.

I baked off the vols-au-vent and put the peaches and sauce in it, sprinkled a few pistachios on the plate and when my husband gets home from work he will have this dessert waiting for him. He will be one happy camper because it tastes and smells heavenly.

Check out the host's site above for a printable version of the recipe and how to make the vols-au-vents.

Below is the recipe for making the puff pastry that we were given
2-1/2 cups (12.2 oz/ 354 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups (5.0 oz/ 142 g) cake flour
1 tbsp. salt (you can cut this by half for a less salty dough or for sweet preparations)
1-1/4 cups (10 fl oz/ 300 ml) ice water
1 pound (16 oz/ 454 g) very cold unsalted butter
plus extra flour for dusting work surface
Mixing the Dough:
Check the capacity of your food processor before you start. If it cannot hold the full quantity of ingredients, make the dough into two batches and combine them.
Put the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a couple of times just to mix. Add the water all at once, pulsing until the dough forms a ball on the blade. The dough will be very moist and pliable and will hold together when squeezed between your fingers. (Actually, it will feel like Play-Doh.)
Remove the dough from the machine, form it into a ball, with a small sharp knife, slash the top in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Wrap the dough in a damp towel and refrigerate for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the butter between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a rolling pin until it flattens into a square that's about 1" thick. Take care that the butter remains cool and firm: if it has softened or become oily, chill it before continuing.

Unwrap the dough and place it on a work surface dusted with all-purpose flour (A cool piece of marble is the ideal surface for puff pastry) with your rolling pin (preferably a French rolling pin without handles), press on the dough to flatten it and then roll it into a 10" square. Keep the top and bottom of the dough well floured to prevent sticking and lift the dough and move it around frequently. Starting from the center of the square, roll out over each corner to create a thick center pad with "ears," or flaps.
Place the cold butter in the middle of the dough and fold the ears over the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely. (If you have to stretch the dough, stretch it from all over; don't just pull the ends) you should now have a package that is 8" square.
To make great puff pastry, it is important to keep the dough cold at all times. There are specified times for chilling the dough, but if your room is warm, or you work slowly, or you find that for no particular reason the butter starts to ooze out of the pastry, cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it . You can stop at any point in the process and continue at your convenience or when the dough is properly chilled.

Gently but firmly press the rolling pin against the top and bottom edges of the square (this will help keep it square). Then, keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a rectangle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 24" (don't worry about the width of the rectangle: if you get the 24", everything else will work itself out.) With this first roll, it is particularly important that the butter be rolled evenly along the length and width of the rectangle; check when you start rolling that the butter is moving along well, and roll a bit harder or more evenly, if necessary, to get a smooth, even dough-butter sandwich (use your arm-strength!).
With a pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top of the dough, and fold the rectangle up from the bottom and down from the top in thirds, like a business letter, brushing off the excess flour. You have completed one turn.
Rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. Repeat the rolling and folding process, rolling the dough to a length of 24" and then folding it in thirds. This is the second turn.

If the dough is still cool and no butter is oozing out, you can give the dough another two turns now. If the condition of the dough is iffy, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Each time you refrigerate the dough, mark the number of turns you've completed by indenting the dough with your fingertips. It is best to refrigerate the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns.
The total number of turns needed is six. If you prefer, you can give the dough just four turns now, chill it overnight, and do the last two turns the next day. Puff pastry is extremely flexible in this regard. However, no matter how you arrange your schedule, you should plan to chill the dough for at least an hour before cutting or shaping it.
Above is the finished puff pastry and you can see the layering.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


I made this beautiful tray of Focaccia this evening. I just had to share it. Nothing smells better than fresh baked bread right out of the oven. I can't wait for my husband to get home from work. He will probably eat half of what you see here.

1 1/2 Tablespoons Active Dry Yeast or Instant Yeast

1 Tablespoon Sugar

2 Cups Warm Water (105 - 115 deg) If using instant yeast have water at about 70 degrees

16 1/2 Ounces Unbleached Bread Flour

1 Tablespoon Salt

6 - 8 ounces Unbleached All Purpose Flour

Can add garlic and herbs to the dough


1. Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let stand 10 minutes. If using instant yeast you can skip this procedure.

2. Add 16 1/2 Ounces Bread Flour and beat with paddle attachment for about 3 minutes or until smooth.

3. Switch to the dough hook and add unbleached flour 1/2 cup at a time until desired consistency. Dough should be slightly tacky.

4. Knead for 5 minutes or until proper gluten development. Do a window test.

5. Round dough and place in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise to double. 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

6. Punch dough down and allow to rise again, then punch down.

7. Oil a sheetpan with olive oil and place dough onto it stretching it to fit the sheetpan. Let it rest and stretch some more. When it is the size of the sheetpan brush with oil and put caramelized onions and any other toppings and let it rise a little, no more than 1/2 hour.

8. With your fingertips dimple the dough and spread with olive oil.

9. Bake at 450 degrees until bottom is nicely browned.

Toppings: Any combination of Caramelized Onion, Sundried Tomatoes, oregano leaves, chives, garlic, rosemary, sage, coarse salt, basil, olives, parsley, sauteed bell peppers, shallots, parmesan cheese etc.

Monday, August 31, 2009


This recipe is adapted from Pierre Herme's Chocolate Covered Crunchy Hazelnut Cookies from his book "Chocolate Desserts". They are really a cross between a cookie and a candy. My husband definitely thinks they are candy and he loves them. When you bake these cookies they spread a little. So I cut off the excess gave it a whirl in my food processor and sprinkled this on top of the cookies/candy after dipping them in tempered chocolate. They are really yummy and worth making.


1 Tablespoon Instant Espresso
1 Tablespoon Boiling Water
3 Large Egg Whites (room temperature)
400g Powdered Sugar (sifted)
400g Blanched Hazelnuts (toasted and coarsely chopped)

1. Dissolve the instant espresso into the water and set aside to cool.
2. Put all of the ingredients into a stainless steel bowl and set this over a pan of simmering water. Heat the batter, stirring until it reaches 138 degrees.
3. Pour into spacer bars 8" X 12". Batter should be about 1" thick. Cool to room temperature.
4. Cut the block of cooled batter into 3/4" squares and place them on parchment lined baking sheets about 2" apart.
5. Bake at 275 degrees in a convection oven for 18 - 22 minutes turning, half way through the baking time. When done the cookies should be golden, dry and uniformly dull. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.
6. Dip the cookies in tempered chocolate and sprinkle a little of the *hazelnut dust on top of the chocolate. Put the cookies in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to set the chocolate then store them at room temperature in an airtight container.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehause: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffes of Vienna, Budapest and Prague.

In culinary school we had to make this torte before we could graduate. I didn't like it then and I still don't like it. It is easy to make but just not my bag. This recipe called for too much lemon juice when making the caramel for the top so if any one decides to make this just to check it out please reduce the lemon juice. I think 1 teaspoon would be enough.

A better recipe for this torte is listed here. I had to make it a couple of times at my last job and that is the recipe I used.

When I make a daring baker recipe I like to do it and record it as it was written for us. If I decide to make the item again that is when I will tweak the recipe to my liking. As you may surmise, I won't be making this one again.

The one element I did like was the chocolate buttercream, just be sure to whisk it long enough after all the butter is incorporated so it comes together and looks and spreads like a buttercream frosting.

Sponge cake layers

6 Large Eggs, separated at room temperature
1 1/3 cups (162g) confectioner's (icing) sugar, divided 2/3 Cup & 2/3 Cup

1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (112g) sifted cake flour (SUBSTITUTE 95g plain flour + 17g cornflour (cornstarch) sifted together)
pinch of salt

Chocolate Buttercream

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup (200g) caster (ultrafine or superfine white) sugar

4oz (110g) bakers chocolate or your favourite dark chocolate, finely chopped

2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (250g) unsalted butter, at room temperature.

Caramel topping

1 cup (200g) caster (superfine or ultrafine white) sugar

12 tablespoons (180 ml) water

8 teaspoons (40 ml) lemon juice

1 tablespoon neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed, rice bran, sunflowe

Directions for the sponge layers:

NB. The sponge layers can be prepared in advance and stored interleaved with parchment and well-wrapped in the fridge overnight.

1. Position the racks in the top and centre thirds of the oven and heat to 400F (200C).
2. Cut six pieces of parchment paper to fit the baking sheets. Using the bottom of a 9" (23cm) springform tin as a template and a dark pencil or a pen, trace a circle on each of the papers, and turn them over (the circle should be visible from the other side, so that the graphite or ink doesn't touch the cake batter.)
3. Beat the egg yolks, 2/3 cup (81g) of the confectioner's (icing) sugar, and the vanilla in a medium bowl with a mixer on high speed until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and forms a thick ribbon when the beaters are lifted a few inches above the batter, about 3 minutes. (You can do this step with a balloon whisk if you don't have a mixer.)

4. In another bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 2/3 cup (81g) of confectioner's (icing)sugar until the whites form stiff, shiny peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, stir about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the remainder, leaving a few wisps of white visible. Combine the flour and salt. Sift half the flour over the eggs, and fold in; repeat with the remaining flour.
5. Line one of the baking sheets with a circle-marked paper. Using a small offset spatula, spread about 3/4cup of the batter in an even layer, filling in the traced circle on one baking sheet. Bake on the top rack for 5 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed gently in the centre and the edges are lightly browned. While this cake bakes, repeat the process on the other baking sheet, placing it on the centre rack. When the first cake is done, move the second cake to the top rack. Invert the first cake onto a flat surface and carefully peel off the paper. Slide the cake layer back onto the paper and let stand until cool. Rinse the baking sheet under cold running water to cool, and dry it before lining with another parchment. Continue with the remaining papers and batter to make a total of six layers. Completely cool the layers. Using an 8" springform pan bottom or plate as a template, trim each cake layer into a neat round. (A small serrated knife is best for this task.)

Directions for the chocolate buttercream:

NB. This can be prepared in advance and kept chilled until required.

1. Prepare a double-boiler: quarter-fill a large saucepan with water and bring it to a boil.
2. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with the sugar until pale and thickened, about five minutes. You can use a balloon whisk or electric hand mixer for this.
3. Fit bowl over the boiling water in the saucepan (water should not touch bowl) and lower the heat to a brisk simmer. Cook the egg mixture, whisking constantly, for 2-3 minutes until you see it starting to thicken a bit. Whisk in the finely chopped chocolate and cook, stirring, for a further 2-3 minutes.
4. Scrape the chocolate mixture into a medium bowl and leave to cool to room temperature. It should be quite thick and sticky in consistency.
5. When cool, beat in the soft butter, a small piece (about 2 tablespoons/30g) at a time. An electric hand mixer is great here, but it is possible to beat the butter in with a spatula if it is soft enough. You should end up with a thick, velvety chocolate buttercream. Chill while you make the caramel topping.

Lorraine's note: If you're in Winter just now your butter might not soften enough at room temperature, which leads to lumps forming in the buttercream. Male sure the butter is of a very soft texture I.e. running a knife through it will provide little resistance, before you try to beat it into the chocolate mixture. Also, if you beat the butter in while the chocolate mixture is hot you'll end up with more of a ganache than a buttercream!

Directions for the caramel topping:

1. Choose the best-looking cake layer for the caramel top. To make the caramel topping: Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper and butter the paper. Place the reserved cake layer on the paper. Score the cake into 12 equal wedges. Lightly oil a thin, sharp knife and an offset metal spatula.
2. Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved into a smooth syrup, turn the heat up to high and boil without stirring, swirling the pan by the handle occasionally and washing down any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan with a wet brush until the syrup has turned into an amber-coloured caramel.
3. The top layer is perhaps the hardest part of the whole cake so make sure you have a oiled, hot offset spatula ready. I also find it helps if the cake layer hasn't just been taken out of the refrigerator. I made mine ahead of time and the cake layer was cold and the toffee set very, very quickly—too quickly for me to spread it. Immediately pour all of the hot caramel over the cake layer. You will have some leftover most probably but more is better than less and you can always make nice toffee pattern using the extra to decorate. Using the offset spatula, quickly spread the caramel evenly to the edge of the cake layer. Let cool until beginning to set, about 30 seconds. Using the tip of the hot oiled knife (keep re-oiling this with a pastry brush between cutting), cut through the scored marks to divide the caramel layer into 12 equal wedges. Cool another minute or so, then use the edge of the knife to completely cut and separate the wedges using one firm slice movement (rather than rocking back and forth which may produce toffee strands). Cool completely.

Angela's note: I recommend cutting, rather than scoring, the cake layer into wedges before covering in caramel (reform them into a round). If you have an 8” silicon round form, then I highly recommend placing the wedges in that for easy removal later and it also ensures that the caramel stays on the cake layer. Once set, use a very sharp knife to separate the wedges.

Assembling the Dobos

1. Divide the buttercream into six equal parts.
2. Place a dab of chocolate buttercream on the middle of a 7 1/2” cardboard round and top with one cake layer. Spread the layer with one part of the chocolate icing. Repeat with 4 more cake layers. Spread the remaining icing on the sides of the cake.
3. Optional: press the finely chopped hazelnuts onto the sides of the cake.
4. Propping a hazelnut under each wedge so that it sits at an angle, arrange the wedges on top of the cake in a spoke pattern. If you have any leftover buttercream, you can pipe rosettes under each hazelnut or a large rosette in the centre of the cake. Refrigerate the cake under a cake dome until the icing is set, about 2 hours. Let slices come to room temperature for the best possible flavour

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Yesterday I decided to play with my chocolate molds. All these molds came from Chef Rubber a company in Las Vegas that I visit whenever I am there. I treat myself to a new mold each time I visit. I love making candy and the techniques used here were an experiment. I sprayed the molds first with colored cocoa butter. I started with yellow, then red, then white. Except the hearts and they were sprayed with red only. The cocoa butter has to be in temper before spraying. After spraying I let them sit in the wine cooler to set up before filling them with tempered chocolate. After filling with tempered chocolate I turn them upside down to drain out the excess chocolate so I am left with a cavity to fill.

The hearts were made with white chocolate and a caramel bittersweet chocolate ganache.

The other shapes were made with 64% bittersweet chocolate and filled with caramel bittersweet chocolate ganache that I folded caramelized and salted pistachio nuts into.

My husband is already to sell these so I will have to get packaging right away.

Monday, July 27, 2009


The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

I really loved the Mallows (marshmallow cookies). My husband remembered them being called Pinwheels. I made them three times for different people and everyone was amazed that it was possible to make marshmallows. Don't be afraid, it is really easy. The glaze that goes over them is far more difficult to master. You must temper the chocolate first then add the oil or you will get bloom. The recipe did not state this and my first batch bloomed, tasted good but looked awful.

The Milano cookies are good they just don't look as nice as I would like, but they tasted great.
Here are the recipes:

Mallows(Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies)
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website
Prep Time: 10 min
Inactive Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 10 min
Serves: about 2 dozen cookies

• 3 Cups (375grams/13.23oz) All Purpose Flour
• 1/2 Cup (112.5grams/3.97oz) White Sugar
• 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
• 3/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
• 3/8 Teaspoon Baking Soda
• 1/2 Teaspoon ground Cinnamon
• 12 Tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) Unsalted Butter
• 3 Eggs, whisked together

• Homemade marshmallows, recipe follows
• Chocolate glaze, recipe follows

1. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, blend the dry ingredients.
2. On low speed, add the butter and mix until sandy.
3. Add the eggs and mix until combine.
4. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with clingfilm or parchment and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
5. When ready to bake, grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
7. Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, on a lightly floured surface. Use a 1 to 1 1/2 inches cookie cutter to cut out small rounds of dough.
8. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.
9. Pipe a “kiss” of marshmallow onto each cookie. Let set at room temperature for 2 hours.
10. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or silicon mat.
11. One at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the hot chocolate glaze.
12. Lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.
13. Place on the prepared pan and let set at room temperature until the coating is firm, about 1 to 2 hours.
Note: if you don’t want to make your own marshmallows, you can cut a large marshmallow in half and place on the cookie base. Heat in a preheated 350-degree oven to slump the marshmallow slightly, it will expand and brown a little. Let cool, then proceed with the chocolate dipping.

Homemade marshmallows:
• 1/4 Cup Water
• 1/4 Cup Light Corn Syrup
• 3/4 Cup (168.76 grams/5.95oz) Sugar
• 1 Tablespoon Powdered Gelatin (or 3 gelatin sheets softened in ice water, omitting the water in the recipe)
• 2 Tablespoons Cold Water
• 2 Egg Whites , room temperature
• 1/4 Teaspoon pure Vanilla Extract

1. In a saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, and sugar, bring to a boil until “soft-ball” stage, or 235 degrees on a candy thermometer.
2. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let dissolve.
3. Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin, and mix.
4. Whip the whites until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites.
5. Add the vanilla and continue whipping until stiff.
6. Transfer to a pastry bag.

Chocolate glaze:
• 12 ounces semisweet chocolate• 2 ounces cocoa butter or vegetable oil
1. Melt the 2 ingredients together in the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over barely simmering water.
The above is how the recipe was written. I tempered the chocolate first then added the oil and they turned out beautiful.

Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 1 hr
Serves: about 3 dozen cookies

• 12 Tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) Unsalted Butter, softened
• 2 1/2 Cups (312.5 grams/ 11.02 oz) Powdered Sugar
• 7/8 Cup Egg Whites
• 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
• 2 Teaspoons Lemon Extract
• 1 1/2 Cups (187.5grams/ 6.61 oz) All Purpose Flour
• Cookie filling, recipe follows

Cookie filling:
• 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
• 8 Ounces Semisweet Chocolate, (chopped)
• Zest of 1 Orange

1. In a mixer with paddle attachment cream the butter and the sugar.
2. Add the egg whites gradually and then mix in the vanilla and lemon extracts.
3. Add the flour and mix until just well mixed.
4. With a small (1/4-inch) plain tip, pipe 1-inch sections of batter onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, spacing them 2 inches apart as they spread.
5. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Let cool on the pan.
6. While waiting for the cookies to cool, in a small saucepan over medium flame, scald cream.
7. Pour hot cream over chocolate in a bowl, whisk to melt chocolate, add zest and blend well.
8. Set aside to cool (the mixture will thicken as it cools).
9. Spread a thin amount of the filling onto the flat side of a cookie while the filling is still soft and press the flat side of a second cookie on top.
10. Repeat with the remainder of the cookies.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


I know July 4th has come and gone but I wanted to post the picture of these cookies I made. This blog started out as a way to chronicle my dessert presentations so when I was under the gun for an idea I could just go to my blog and remember what I had done in the past for inspiration. It has turned into much more, now with recipes as well as pictures and of course all my Daring Baker challenges. It has also become a marketing tool for people to look at when they want to order a dessert or cake from me.

For these cookies I used my standard short dough recipe and royal icing. The stars were cut out of fondant with a very small cutter.

Thursday, July 09, 2009


For the past 9 days I have been in Phoenix Arizona at the World Pastry Forum assisting Laurent Le Daniel. He taught 5 days of classes on Petit Gateau. It was intense work. The first day we prepped for 12 hours. Each day thereafter we shaved off some time as the prep became more familiar. During the classes we had an interpreter as Laurent's English is minimal. Laurent is the nicest man and was very generous with his recipes and knowledge. All of the petit gateau he taught, and gave recipes for, he sells in his 3 shops. If you want to drool over his website it is

Laurent was able, one on one, to speak some english to me (my french is almost non-existent). I found out that he is married and has a 7 year old son. Upon his return to France he was starting work on a 50th wedding anniversary cake for his parents.

In one of our last conversation's he told me that he loved my passion for patisserie!! That meant allot to me.
These are the 4 desserts we made each day and taught the procedure to the students. You can see how beautiful they are and I can tell you they tasted fabulous.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.

I chose to make tartlettes with my homemade Raspberry Rose Jam. These are great in the morning with coffee (don't ask me how I know), they are not too sweet and would make a nice hostess gift.

Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)
Equipment needed: bowls, box grater, cling film

225g (8oz) All Purpose Flour
30g (1oz) Sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) Salt
110g (4oz) Unsalted Butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 (2) Egg Yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) Almond Extract (optional)
15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) Cold Water

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.
Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.
Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Equipment needed: bowls, hand mixer, rubber spatula
125g (4.5oz) Unsalted Butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) Powdered Sugar
3 (3) Eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) Almond Extract
125g (4.5oz) Almond Flour (Trader Joes)
30g (1oz) All Purpose Flour

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the almond flour and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow color.


Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it's overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, cut out rounds with a biscuit cutter and place into the individual tartlette molds. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
Remove tartlettes from the freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of Raspberry Rose Jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tartlette. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 15 minutes. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking (optional).
The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.
When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Graduation Cakes

This graduation cake was made for a graduate of La Quinta High School. It was white chiffon cake with fillings of vanilla bean white chocolate mousse with fresh strawberries, strawberry jam, and vanilla buttercream. The cap was made of the same cake with a white chocolate brim. I sprayed acetate with navy blue cocoa butter then spread tempered chocolate over it and cut it to size. I covered the cake with white chocolate ganache then spray painted it with the same colored cocoa butter. The tassel was made with grey gumpaste and painted with super pearl luster dust. The diploma was just rolled up fondant.

These cupcakes were red velvet with cream cheese frosting and they were delivered to the same party as this chocolate graduation cap.

This cake was made for a Palm Desert High School graduate. It was chocolate cake with hazelnut crunch, ganache, french silk mousse, chocolate buttercream and vanilla buttercream. The brim was tempered callebeaut chocolate. The tassel was gumpaste painted with gold luster dust.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I made this cake for a clients 10 year old daughter's 1st Communion. What a lucky girl she was to receive this for her party. When I delivered it her eyes lit up and she was jumping up and down in delight.
Her parents told me later that some of the guests at the party thought it was a present and did not know it was a cake until they cut into it. Mission accomplished!!

The bottom tier was 8 layers of vanilla chiffon cake with grand marnier syrup, fillings were - raspberry rose jam, white chocolate ganache, raspberry buttercream, fresh raspberries, and vanilla buttercream. The top two tiers were chocolate cake with fillings of hazelnut crunch, ganache, chocolate buttercream & french silk mousse.

All tiers were covered in fondant and the pearls were made out of fondant and painted with pearl dust to shine them up and make them look real. The bow's on top were made out of gumpaste.

It was a fun cake to make!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of Make Life Sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.
I usually make a "fake" strudel by using puff pastry or phyllo as the dough so this months challenge was going to be fun trying to stretch the real strudel dough. Believe it or not it was very easy to do and it came out quite good. Give this a try you will be surprised just how much fun it is.


From “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

2 Tablespoons Myers Rum
3 Tablespoons Golden Raisins
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/3 Cup plus 1 Tablespoon Sugar
4 Ounces Unsalted Butter (melted & divided)
1 1/2 Cups Fresh Bread Crumbs
Strudel Dough (recipe below)
1/2 Cup Walnuts (coarsely chopped)
2 pounds Granny Smith Apples (peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch-thick slices)

1. Mix the rum and raisins in a bowl. Mix the cinnamon and sugar in another bowl.

2. Melt 1 1/2 Ounces of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the breadcrumbs and cook while stirring until golden and toasted. This will take about 3 minutes. Let it cool completely.

3. Put the rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Make the strudel dough as described below. Spread about 1 1/2 Ounces of the remaining melted butter over the dough using your hands (a bristle brush could tear the dough, you could use a special feather pastry brush instead of your hands). Sprinkle the buttered dough with the bread crumbs. Spread the walnuts about 3 inches from the short edge of the dough in a 6-inch-(15cm)-wide strip. Mix the apples with the raisins (including the rum), and the cinnamon sugar. Spread the mixture over the walnuts.

4. Fold the short end of the dough onto the filling. Lift the tablecloth at the short end of the dough so that the strudel rolls onto itself. Transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet by lifting it. Curve it into a horseshoe to fit. Tuck the ends under the strudel. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter.

5. Bake the strudel for about 30 minutes or until it is deep golden brown. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Use a serrated knife and serve either warm or at room temperature. It is best on the day it is baked.


From “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

1 1/3 cups (200 g) unbleached flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

1. Combine the flour and salt in a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the water, oil and vinegar in a measuring cup. Add the water/oil mixture to the flour with the mixer on low speed. You will get a soft dough. Make sure it is not too dry, add a little more water if necessary.Take the dough out of the mixer. Change to the dough hook. Put the dough ball back in the mixer. Let the dough knead on medium until you get a soft dough ball with a somewhat rough surface.

2. Take the dough out of the mixer and continue kneading by hand on an unfloured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally.Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a plate. Oil the top of the dough ball lightly. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30-90 minutes (longer is better).

3. It would be best if you have a work area that you can walk around on all sides like a 36 inch (90 cm) round table or a work surface of 23 x 38 inches (60 x 100 cm). Cover your working area with table cloth, dust it with flour and rub it into the fabric. Put your dough ball in the middle and roll it out as much as you can.Pick the dough up by holding it by an edge. This way the weight of the dough and gravity can help stretching it as it hangs. Using the back of your hands to gently stretch and pull the dough. You can use your forearms to support it.

4. The dough will become too large to hold. Put it on your work surface. Leave the thicker edge of the dough to hang over the edge of the table. Place your hands underneath the dough and stretch and pull the dough thinner using the backs of your hands. Stretch and pull the dough until it's about 2 feet wide and 3 feet long, it will be tissue-thin by this time. Cut away the thick dough around the edges with scissors. The dough is now ready to be filled.

Tips- Ingredients are cheap so the daring bakers recommend making a double batch of the dough, that way you can practice the pulling and stretching of the dough with the first batch and if it doesn't come out like it should you can use the second batch to give it another try. The tablecloth can be cotton or polyster. Before pulling and stretching the dough, remove your jewelry from hands and wrists, and wear short-sleeves;- To make it easier to pull the dough, you can use your hip to secure the dough against the edge of the table;- Few small holes in the dough is not a problem as the dough will be rolled, making (most of) the holes invisible.