When it is hot and muggy, but you want a dessert to impress this S’mores Icebox Cake is the exact answer. All the things one loves about the classic summer camping dessert without the fire (okay, just a bit of blowtorching, but that’s too fun to resist). Graham crackers layered with caramel cream, covered in chocolate ganache, with a sprinkle of peanuts (needed the crunch and salty bits) and then topped off with toasted meringue. No baking!Read More
I purposely waited until after April 1st to post this little Disco Party of a Chocolate Microwave Mug Cake, because I didn’t think you’d take it seriously enough. It’s very serious! 😉
The recipe was inspired by one of the most celebrated pastry chefs of our time, Christina Tosi. Her new Milk Bar book, all about cake, is full of playful, but delicious cakes. Her molten chocolate microwave mug cake is in the same chapter as crock-pot cakes and there are 50 pages dedicated to cake pops, sans the stick.Read More
The Apple Tarte Tatin is a quintessentially French dessert. There are really two styles of French pastry, the super fussy, Marie Antoinette-style creations that are almost too beautiful to eat and look nearly impossible to create, and then the country-side, rustic sweets that are more delicious than beautiful.
I’d say this falls into the second category, but I think it is stunningly beautiful with its rich caramel apples and flaky pastry peeking out from under them. Rustic yes, but no less gorgeous than a Croquembouche or Paris-Brest, in my mind.
I’ve often said this is my comfort food, the one dessert I almost always choose on a menu (I rarely pick just one) and I start nearly every trip to NYC with a slice from Buvette in the West Village.
The key to success is having the proper apples. You want them to keep their shape while cooking in the caramel, so they absorb the bittersweet sugar and don’t just turn to mush. I’ve had good success with Pink Lady, Braeburn, Honeycrisp, and/or Granny Smith. Stay away from apples like McIntosh, Golden Delicious, and Fuji which break down and make sauce.
Traditionally the crust is a layer of Puff Pastry draped over the caramelized apples and baked upside-down, then inverted to reveal the deep caramel colored apples. The transformation is dramatic and delicious. You can make puff pastry or use a high-quality store-bought version. You can also use Pie dough or even sheets of Phyllo. The crust is the canvas that holds the apples, so you can get creative with whatever you have on hand. Below I give the instructions for all of the crust options.Read More
A croquembouche (kroke-em-boosh) is a tower of profiteroles (cream puffs) stuck together with a thin layer of crisp caramel, which gives the dessert its name, “crocque em bouche” or “crunches in the mouth.” This dramatic pile of puffs is typically served at weddings, but I’ve taken liberties and find it a worthy dessert for any big occasion.
A Christmas Croquembouche seems like the perfect way to celebrate this holiday season. The puffs are made of choux paste and are filled with mango pastry cream, which isn’t a flavor you might think of for a Christmas dessert, but it is such a wonderful contrast to the sweet of the caramel. When you break into the cream puffs you’ll find the rich, creamy golden filling.Read More
This weekend represents the transition between summer vacation and the start of the school year. It’s not the official change of seasons, but it might as well be. It is also when we switch from summer fruits to the fall harvest. Apples and pears are making their way onto the pages of Instagram, but the summer fruits are still around too. This Pear Raspberry Upside-Down Cake is the gate between the seasons. It’s the best of summer and the celebration of what is to come this fall. You can certainly make this without the raspberries, but they really brighten up the flavor and add a pop of color, which will be so longed for in a couple of months.Read More
This week I finished the second round of edits on my new book. That’s about halfway through the process, but it still felt like a reason to celebrate. I like to celebrate, even the small stuff. Why wait? Celebrate along the way, since the process is the whole reason I do this. Cake seemed the right way to mark the moment. A slightly-over-the-top cajeta cake at that. Piping icing into flowers is a zen moment for me, it’s how I relax and the results are so satisfying.
The inside of this cajeta cake is a collection of things I had stocked up in my freezer, because I always feel a little more secure knowing there is a cake just a thaw away. I typically bake extra cake layers and make more buttercream than I need for a single cake, then I freeze them. This may be a result of years in the catering world, when a rush order would come in and we’d have to create something in minutes, not hours. Cake and buttercream freeze like a dream.
The cake is chocolate, the buttercream I flavored with cinnamon and for the filling I made cajeta flavored mascarpone cream. Cajeta is often called “Mexican Caramel,” even though it’s not really caramel at all, but a reduction of goat milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and baking soda. You cook it low and slow for a couple of hours until it is both the color and consistency of caramel. The baking soda (an alkaline) reacts with the milk (slightly acidic) and it quickly darkens. Without the addition of baking soda the milk/sugar would have to actually caramelize (burn) to darken and that’s not what we want. You can watch me make the cajeta cake in my instagram stories.
Cajeta has an earthy flavor that I love, but it definitely tastes of goat milk. It is related to the dulce de leche and is made in the exact same way, so you can swap out the cajeta for the cow milk version if you’re not a fan of goat milk. Or, you can combine the two types of milk to mellow out the flavor a bit. You decide.Read More