Guinness Chocolate Cake with White Knight Frosting

         

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…)

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Lemon Meringue Cake for Mother’s Day – How-to Video: piping roses

Piped Meringue Roses | ZoeBakes | Photo by Zoë François

These meringue roses remind me of fine porcelain china, dainty and ultra feminine. Perfect on an occasion that requires something spectacular, even a bit over-the-top. Mother’s Day is one such time. It is the day when we give thanks to the women who raised us. I have been blessed with more than my fair share of extraordinary women, who have influenced how I walk through this world. They have shown me great generosity, shared their wisdom and loved me unconditionally. I only hope to possess these same qualities as I now raise my own children. I wanted to create something as unique and beautiful as these women, to reflect my deep appreciation, so lemon meringue cake it is.

Due to too many miles I can’t be with my mom on Mother’s Day, but if I were, this is the cake I would present to her. She would love the tart layers of lemon sponge cake and lemon curd, balanced with the sweet meringue icing; to toast or not to toast is the question? Who am I kidding, I always toast, if for no other reason, I love my blow torch.

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Mint Cheesecake for St. Patrick’s Day

Mint Cheesecake | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

When I was growing up in Vermont we celebrated St. Patricks Day at school by dressing up in green. It was fun, although green really isn’t my color, but I had no idea what any of it meant. It never occurred to me that it went beyond shamrock knee-highs, until I went to Chicago on March 17th, quite by accident. The city shut down at noon and people flooded the streets wearing green and carrying beer of the same color. Even the mighty river was dyed green in honor of the 4th century Saint. Although few people probably know the origins of the festivities, we still honor this religious man all these centuries later by wearing green and celebrating Irish culture. Even for those of us who have no ties to Ireland, it is too fun to miss out on.

This mint cheesecake is my nod to the day. It seemed fitting to go green, but I wanted to do something particularly fun. The stripes are easy to create and make for a terrific “Wow” moment when you slice into the cake. The trick to the color is a dash or two of food coloring. I do use fresh mint in the batter, which adds a bright, fresh flavor, but on its own, it is honestly a bit lack luster in color. The chocolate crust makes the whole thing taste like a super-lush “thin mint.” (more…)

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