Blood-Orange Creamsicle Semifreddo

Blood-Orange Creamsicle Semifreddo | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

This Blood Orange Creamsicle Semifreddo was inspired by one of my first pastry mentors, Claudia Flemming. Her book, The Last Course, was a collection of desserts she created for the venerable restaurant, Gramercy Tavern, in New York. It is an understatement to say her book was a steady guide to me when I was a pastry chef, fresh out of culinary school and trying to find my voice as a chef. She was combining flavors in ways that no one else was doing at the time. She used herbs in desserts and she had an exquisite balance of sweetness, sour, bitter, and salty. Her palate was informed by the savory side of the kitchen and it made all of her desserts profoundly more interesting and exciting to me. My copy of her book was written in, dog eared and splattered with cake batter, the truest sign of respect to a cookbook and its author. That seminal book went out of print for a while, but there was a cult following that just never let it be forgotten. So, when her publisher decided to celebrate it with another printing, I was thrilled. Other than the cover there are no changes to the book and it didn’t need any, that’s how good it was and is. The desserts still hold up nearly a decade later and I was just as excited by the Frozen Orange-Blossom Honey Mousse today as I was the first time I made it in 2001. I topped it with Blood Orange Sorbet to create my idea of the perfect creamsicle and then topped it with a Rosemary and Orange Meringue. I think Claudia would approve of the combination.

You will find my Instagram video tutorial on how to make this dessert.

Find the recipe below…

Blood-Orange Creamsicle Semifreddo | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François Read More

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Bars

 

There seem to be two schools of thought about Thanksgiving desserts. Those who must have pumpkin pie and those who avoid anything pumpkin, other than the spice mix. I am squarely in the pumpkin camp and so is my whole family, but if you or someone you love is not, these Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Bars are the perfect way to ease into using the Thanksgiving essential and give a loving gesture to those who adore pumpkin. The base of these bars comes from Michelle Lopez’s new book Weeknight Baking, which is made up of great recipes that are quick and easy enough to fit into everyone’s busy schedule, even at the holidays. I added the swirl of pumpkin, which is also super easy and fast, but makes them just right for this week. Michelle has lots of great ideas for jazzing up the cheesecake bars and once you see my technique for swirling, you can add your own flair. You can easily make these in time for the big Turkey Day and I suggest making a double batch, so you have leftovers to snack on and stick into school lunches. 

GIVEAWAY! Not only did Michelle graciously allow me to share the recipe with you, but she’s also doing a giveaway of the book. Leave a comment below or on my instagram account for a chance to win a copy of Weeknight Baking.

You can watch me swirl the cheesecake bars on my Instagram account and the recipe lives below. Read More

Simple Chocolate Cake

Simple Chocolate Cake | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

Oh, you know me, I love a flourish. Sometimes it’s a rose crown on a bundt cake or a ruffle of gossamer apples topping a tart or maybe, just maybe a crazy swirl of toasted meringue on anything! But, sometimes simple is best. A summer snack at the lake, a slice of cake in a lunchbox or a midnight treat with a glass of milk. Those are the cakes we’ll make at the last minute, after a long day of work, just because we want a treat and cake makes everything good. Odette Williams wrote Simple Cake, a book about those cakes; the simple ones that are pure joy. Her book is filled with lots of delicious cakes and simple toppings that are great for a special occasion, but just as good if nothing in particular is going on. This simple chocolate cake is elegant and warm and makes me want to eat all the cake. 

I baked Odette’s Simple Chocolate Cake in a pullman pan, because I like the clean shape of the slices. I combined two of the whipped cream flavors she suggested for the cake to create a Vietnamese coffee cream, which was just the right balance of sweet and bitter. I went at the cake with a giant star tipped piping bag and then backed away and realized it needed something quiet and sleek. I just spread the whipped cream over the cake and smoothed the edges. I’m in love with this cake, it calms me. The dusting of cocoa was for drama (I just can’t help myself) and more contrast of flavor. Read More

Strawberry Mascarpone Cake with Raspberry Cream and a Fondant Crown

Strawberry Mascarpone Cake with Raspberry Cream and a Fondant Crown | ZoeBakes | Photo by Zoë François

A friend asked me to create a cake for a 6-year-old with a fondness for tiaras and all things sparkly. As the mother of two boys who were never that into sparkles, I jumped at the chance to play with rolled fondant and make something worthy of a princess party. I knew exactly which recipe would suit the occasion, since I’ve been reading through Abby Dodge’s newest book, the EVERYDAY BAKER. Abby has a gorgeous pink cake with layers of strawberry mascarpone icing and tender white cake, which struck me as a perfect base for a pink fondant crown, but also sophisticated enough for all the adults at the party.

Strawberry Mascarpone Cake with Raspberry Cream and a Fondant Crown | ZoeBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Abby Dodge has been sharing her knowledge of baking for years in her many books, in national magazines and in her Baking Boot Camp Craftsy class. The EVERYDAY BAKER is no ordinary baking book, it is a full education in the art of pastry making. Abby lovingly takes you through the techniques of baking wonderful cookies, cakes, breads, pies, and more. She’ll guide you through with such grace and joy that none of it will seem intimidating for even the novice bakers. She has been an inspiration to me as a baker and cookbook author and I am thrilled that she has joined me in a giveaway of her essential book. Read More

Vegan Triple Chocolate Cupcakes from “New Vegetarian” by Robin Asbell (win a signed copy)

Vegan triple chocolate cupcakes | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

I’m a sucker for a chocolate cake and so it seemed the perfect place for me to dive into Robin’s newest book. This one caught my eye for another reason as well — it is vegan. No, I’m not a vegan, but I’ve been looking for this very recipe since the day my brother and his girlfriend announced to the family that they were. I’d been experimenting with vegan cakes to serve them, but honestly I hadn’t gotten very far. I’m too wedded to butter, eggs and cream. Robin came to the rescue. I gave the recipe a test run for Katherine’s (the aforementioned girlfriend of my brother) Birthday. Truth be told I never actually gave them to Katherine, not for lack of desire, but because they are in Copenhagen at the Climate Change March, where they are preparing to display their artwork to affect change in the world. What a memorable birthday she will have and I will gladly make these cupcakes again once she returns. A perfect way to celebrate.

Robin manages to achieve a rich chocolate cake with a moist (but not dense) crumb without the benefit of eggs or dairy. Mystifying! The filling is remarkably reminiscent of mocha pastry cream and the ganache is chocolaty and glossy. It all defies classic baking and yet it works wonderfully.

As a gift to you Robin has signed a copy of New Vegetarian for me to give away. Just leave a comment below and I will pick a winner next week. Read More

Baked Alaska comes out of obscurity! (and the winner of Robin Asbell’s book)

Baked Alaska Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Congratulations to Susan at www.wildyeast.com, she has won a copy of Robin Asbell’s The New Whole Grain Cookbook. Thank you so much to everyone who left such incredibly kind comments about the Apple Pumpkin Cake I made from her book. I hope you will all check out Robin’s fabulous book.

Like most Americans I have been consumed by this election. Right before the VP debate some of the foodies on Twitter were discussing what they would be eating during the face off. With all the talk about our 49th state these days It dawned on me that the perfect dessert for this event would be the once loved Baked Alaska. Read More