Monday, February 20, 2012

Berry Cake

One of Matt's most endearing qualities is his tendency to get fixated on things. We've been talking about doing cake tastings for our weddings, with a particular mind to our favorite Whole Food's cake, Berry Chantilly Cream. Then our friend Erin texts us a picture of a white berry cake that she made. And we're fixated. We originally thought we'd make a king cake for Carnivale/Mardi Gras. Then we remembered that king cakes aren't really that tasty. So the berry cream fixation came back up.

We've been working our way through tasty recipes in our new Cook's Illustrated Cookbook (amazing!) And it turns out there is a strawberry cream cake recipe! Score.

In other news, I bought some excellent knobs from Anthropologie on discount. I frequently wander the store looking at the bizarre collection of knobs, knick-knacks, and dishware. So a sale rack was hard to resist. I thought I'd make a rack to hang my numerous necklaces on so that I could use the top of my dresses for something other than a pile of necklaces. And I finally got around to it. I got a foot of baseboard for a buck at Home Depot and sanded it to make it look weathered. You know, cause that's in.

Strawberry Cream Cake
from Cook's Illustrated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 large eggs (2 whole and 3 separated), room temp
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • pinch cream of tartar
  1. Grease a 9-inch cake pan or springform pan, line with a parchment paper cut to fit the bottom and grease the parchment. Reserve 3 Tbsp sugar. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk in 2 whole eggs and 3 egg yolks, butter, water, and vanilla until smooth.
  2. Whisk egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy on medium-low. Increase speed to medium-high and whip whites until soft and billowy. Add the reserved 3 Tbsp sugar and whip until soft peaks form (about 1-2 minutes). Stir one third of the whites into the batter, and gently fold in the rest.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 30-40 minutes. Let cake cool 10 minutes, then invert and let cool completely out of pan, about 2 hours.
  • 2 pounds strawberries (or other berries)
  • 4-6 Tbsp sugar (depends on sweetness of berries)
  • 2 Tbsp kirsch
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream, chilled.
  1. For the filling, halve 24 of the strawberries for garnish and mix the remainder in a bowl with 4-6 Tbsp sugar. Let sit one hour. Strain juices and reserve. Pulse the berries briefly in blender or food processor. Simmer reserved juices and kirsch over medium-high until reduced to 3 Tbsps (3-5 minutes). Pour reduced syrup over berries, add salt and toss.
  2. For the whipped cream frosting, whip cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Ad heavy cream slowly while mixing and ship on medium-high until stiff peaks form.
  3. To assemble, cut the cake horizontally into three layers.
  4. Place one layer on a plate, place a ring of 20 strawberry halves around the outside (tops out) and fill with half of the filling. Frost is 1/3 of the whipped cream. Repeat with the second layer. After placing the third layer, frost the remaining cream on top and garnish with remaining berry halves.
By the way, the frosting is the best ever.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

More chocolate please

I've been doing a lot of crafting in the last few months. I never really got into knitting (too ADD?), but when a friend recently showed me how to wire wrap my own earrings, I went a little nuts. And once I had an absurd amount of dangly earrings, I needed a better place to store them than on the bathroom counter. Here's my solution. Fine black plastic mesh in a picture frame. I feel so clever. Now I have to stop making earrings. I am also planning to make a wedding quilt in lieu of a guestbook. Not that I've ever made anything using a sewing machine unless I was supervised by a pro seamstress. We'll see how that goes in a few months.

I'm always looking for a cookie/brownie that maximizes chocolate per bite while not getting dry or otherwise unpleasant. I've had this recipe on my "to bake" list for a couple of months now. Not sure how I only just made them. Yes, they do take the equivalent of two normal-sized bags (24 oz.) of chocolate chips per batch. I didn't try the recipe that calls for 42 oz. Patience, grasshopper.

Chocolate Chubbie's
adapted from Sarabeth's Bakery

  • 1 stick (8 Tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips (or 9 oz. bittersweet + 3 oz. unsweetened)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 12 oz. (2 cups) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts (or with half pecans)
  1. Position racks in center and top third of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper
  2. Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Put the butter in a metal bowl and melt over the water. Add 12 oz. of chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes to cool.
  3. Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt in a little bowl.
  4. Whip the eggs with your fancy mixer or whisk until foamy. Add sugar and vanilla and whip for 3 more minutes until very thick and pale yellow. Beat in the lukewarm chocolate mixture. Gradually stir in the flour mixture by hand. Stir in the remaining chocolate chips and nuts. Dough will be softer than most cookie dough.
  5. Scoop batter by 2 Tbsp-fulls onto pans, placing them 1-1/2 inches apart. Bake, switching positions halfway through, for 17-20 minutes, until the edges are set. Don't overbake them (though the batch I overbaked was delicious once you gummed them a bit. . .). Cool completely before storing.

Oops. The cookie that broke obviously needs to be culled from the pack.