Today is my best friend’s birthday and nothing short of a Buttercream Rose Cake will do. This is also the perfect cake for Easter, which is just around the corner. Creating the buttercream roses and other flowers requires a bit of special equipment and some practice, but this is just the kind of activity that relaxes me and I hope you agree. I’ll walk you through building the cake that will be the canvas for your floral top and then show you how to create the buttercream and roses.
I have some tutorials on my Instagram page, but you can find even more information on my youtube channel (links for each step below). (more…)
There are two camps when it comes to beets and each is fiercely committed to their opinions. One side loves the sweet, jewel-toned, earthiness of the root vegetable and usually order them at every opportunity. That’s the camp I’m in. I LOVE beets. Then there are the folks that don’t. This Chocolate Beet Cake with Ganache by Susan Spungen from her gorgeous new book, Open Kitchen: Inspired Food for Casual Gatherings, will bring the two camps together in perfect agreement. It is so delicious and despite my selfish desire to have the beet flavor shine through, it is so subtle, it just leaves a super-rich and moist cake that everyone, no matter their feelings about beets, will love. Plus, it is so gorgeous, how could you refuse to try it? Once you do, you’ll go in for seconds.
The art of tempering chocolate (this is when melted chocolate sets at room temperature and stays shiny) seems like a next-level task, but Susan brings it into the home kitchen with great ease. Like anything you are trying for the first time, it takes a bit of getting used to it. I will walk you through it in my Instagram video and Susan’s directions are terrific, so give it a try and see how satisfying and beautiful the curls are. You’ll end up using this technique for so many desserts. The finishing touch on the Chocolate Beet Cake with Ganache is a dusting of beet powder. When I was flipping through Susan’s book this cake jumped off the page because of the velvety red finish of beet powder. It is actually quite easy to find too (see link and recommendations below).
For those of you who are not familiar with Susan Spungen by name, you are certainly familiar with her work. She was the editor of Martha Stewart Living, she is the go-to food stylist for Hollywood, having created all the incredible food in Julie & Julia, Eat Pray Love and many others. Open Table is a beautiful book about casually entertaining, but with incredible style. I’m such a fan of her and her lovely book. Susan generously gave me permission to share the recipe with you, which you’ll find below. I also made the cake in a video which you’ll find on my Instagram account. (more…)
This Guinness Chocolate Cake with White Knight Frosting was inspired by my recent trip to Ireland. I have had epically good fortune this past year which brought me to Ireland twice. Earlier this year, I spent a week seeing Ireland with my friends at Bake from Scratch magazine, Tourism Ireland and Williams Sonoma. With each trip I have fallen deeper in love with that country. I know you will love it too and so I want to share an opportunity to win a trip to Ireland. Tourism Ireland* is giving one lucky winner the chance to design a customized trip to Ireland for 2 people. You can see some of the great places I’ve seen like Powerscourt House and Gardens, Kylemore Abbey, Kinsale, Cork City and so much more (check out my Ireland 2020 Instagram highlights to see some of these magical places. For IRELAND SWEEPSTAKES Enter Here! Winner will be drawn in November. Ireland is beyond beautiful with the rolling hills of green grass and clover that fall off into the ocean and that’s just a description of the pastures where the dairy cows graze.
The dairy in Ireland and all the products made with it were among the biggest surprises for me. I come from a dairy rich state and yet, I have never experienced cream, butter and even simple milk like I had in Ireland. I kept asking the bakers I met during my trip what they’d topped cakes with, just to find out that it was nothing more than whipping cream. That whipping cream was so luxurious I assumed it was made with creme fraiche or something to boost the velvety texture it had. Turns out feeding cows nothing more than green Irish grasses produces cream that needs nothing more than aeration to achieve magic.
(just some of the chocolates I brought home from Ireland)
Another pleasant surprise was the universal love of chocolate I found across Ireland. Just about every stop, including at the petrol station, turned into an opportunity to eat chocolate. Maybe these two discoveries are not unrelated, the chocolate + the rich cream are bound to be dynamic. Even brands of chocolate I’ve had in the States, that have never elicited anything more than mild pleasure were so superior in Ireland. Then there were the local, bespoke chocolate makers who were creating truly brilliant and exciting boxes of chocolates.
This is Sister Genevieve from Kylemore Abbey who creates some of the finest chocolates I’ve ever had. I even got a chance to step into her chocolate making shop and try my hand at creating her famous and adorable chocolate sheep. You can see more pictures and videos of the chocolates and chocolate makers I met in my Instagram Stories (including my moment in Sister Genevieve’s workshop).
During our trip through Ireland, we stopped at as many bakeries as we could fit into a day. The full list of not-to-be-missed bakeries will appear in an upcoming issue of Bake From Scratch Magazine. One of our stops was at the Pepperpot Cafe in Dublin, which I was lucky enough to visit on both of my trips through Ireland. They served us a lovely chocolate stout cake with a super-rich, but simple whipped cream topping. I was instantly smitten and knew I’d come home to make a version of my own. Later that evening we arrived at Castlemartyr Resort, again a place I’ve been fortunate enough to stay at twice (and I hope to go back again and again!)
In the beautiful lounge at Castlemartyr we were served a White Knight cocktail (think of the Irish version of a White Russian), which had layers of whiskey and a tall pour of perfect Irish heavy cream. It tasted like it was meant to be frosting and was the final inspiration for this cake. (more…)
This beautiful Roasted Squash Brown Butter Cake just happens to be gluten-free, as is everything in Aran Goyoaga’s new book Cannelle et Vanille. If you don’t happen to follow a gluten-free diet, this book is still for you, in fact, you’ll not even notice the wheat is missing from any of Aran’s recipes, they are purely delicious and gorgeous. Her work needs no introduction, she has been blogging and inspiring us all for over a decade. This book is a culmination of that journey as a chef, food photographer, mom and pastry chef who switched to working with foods that made her feel healthier and in turn happier.
This gorgeous cake comes from the pages of her book and I added a cranberry relish that has fresh strawberries and pink peppercorns, a lovely compliment to the roasted squash brown butter cake.
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. (more…)