Coffee Chiffonlets with Dulce de Leche Cream

When I saw this weeks cake I thought,  here we go again, another gimmicky cake with yet another specialty pan.  Then, the more I thought about it I decided that maybe I should give these pans a try.  Surely there has to be a few of them out there that I would use more than once.  These little mini bundt type pans looked like I could probably find several uses for and as I looked further along in the book I saw several more uses for them.  It was decided, I would get these little pans.  We have several cookware and baking stores here in San Diego as well as the usual assortment of department and specialty stores and I thought surely I wouldn’t have any problem getting them.  Boy was I wrong.  Every day after work for a week I went from store to store looking for these pans and absolutely no one had them.  I couldn’t even find any of those regular little mini bundt pans that were the right size.  Store after store with nothing but blanks stares and shaking heads from bewildered sales people as I walked out cursing everything from Mom’s Apple Pie to the Tournament of Roses Parade.  I just couldn’t believe it, I finally decide to change my ways and give in to this specialty pan mania and what happens, I can find the blasted pan.  I did however find a silly pan that was supposed to look like a cupcake.  It looked to me like it would produce a cake that would weigh about 15 pounds and look like a cookie jar.  I can’t imagine ever wanting to own one of those.  No offense to all of you out there who already have one.  I am sure you will find some use for it.  I then tried online for these mini pans and while I found a few that would work, no one could guarantee that they could ship me the pans in time for me to bake the cakes by the weekend.  So I was back to cursing my mom’s pie when I started to notice all this mini and specialty mania going on all around me. 

I went to the grocery store to buy some bagels and found that I could buy a bag of 50 of Sara Lee’s mini bagels or I could get Thomas’ Bagel Thins which looked like regular bagels that had been run over by a steam roller but I couldn’t get regular bagels.  What was this all about?  I finally had to go to Einstein Brothers bagels and pay three times the price just to get a regular bagel for my breakfast.  I went to the coffee shop with some friends and found that I could get a super mini muffin with (of course) mini chocolate chips or I could get a muffin top the size of a jet engine but I couldn’t  just get a regular muffin.  Well, I was back to cursing mom’s pie again and it finally dawned on me that there was no reason that I had to make these silly little cakelettes as Rose calls them.  It is after all, only cake batter, I can make a regular cake out of it.  And that is what I intended to do.  I did however want to make it look nice so I went home and searched my cupboards for something that I already had that would make a nice presentation. I thought I could use my charlotte mold but it wasn’t quite the right size, then I thought about that financier pan that I bought a few weeks back that was the wrong size for the financiers. It was the wrong size for these things as well.  I thought I could use these darling little “mini” loaf pans that I saw at Dehillerin in Paris and absolutely had to have (and which, by the way, I have never used).   Again, the wrong size.  Then it hit me, my Christmas pudding mold would be perfect.  I know what your thinking, for a guy who constantly complains about specialty pans, what the heck is he doing with a Christmas pudding mold.  Well, I love steamed pudding and believe it or not I actually use this thing many times throughout the year.  As a matter of fact, it is gettng a bit well worn and it’s probably time for me to retire it and get a new one.  So, it was solved, I was making a single large cake and using my beloved steamed pudding mold.  I was off and baking.

Now that the pan ordeal was over I actually read what this cake was supposed to be about.  Coffee.  I love coffee desserts.  There is just something so down to earth and satisfying about them.  As a child I loved coffee ice cream (still do).  It always seemed like I was eating something forbidden since I wasn’t allowed to drink coffee.  I could never figure it out why I could eat the ice cream but not drink the coffee.  Parents were full of inconsistencies like that.  It wasn’t until years later when I could actually drink coffee that I discovered that the two things tasted nothing alike and figured my parents had once again pulled the wool over my eyes.  At any rate, this cake sounded down right good.

The dry ingredients, flour, sugar, baking soda and salt are mixed and then oil, egg yolks, coffee essence and vanilla are added then  mixed.  The egg whites are beaten and then sugar is added and they are whipped into a stiff meringue.  The meringue is folded into the coffee mixture and then the batter is poured into the pan (or mini pans if you were lucky enough to find them).  Mine baked for 30 minutes at 325 degrees in my convection oven.  When done the pan is inverted onto a rack to cool.

While the cake was baking I made the Kahlua syrup.  Sugar and water are combined until disolved and then brought to the boil, covered and removed from the heat until cool.  When cool, coffee essence and Kahlua is stirred in.  The cake is then brushed with this heavenly mixture. 

To make the Dulce de Leche, sweetened condensed milk is poured into a pie pan which is placed in a bain marie and baked for 1 1/2 hours or until thick and caramel colored.  I was totally convinced that I would go off and start doing something else and forget about this until it was so blackened that it was probably half way to being a diamond by the time I retrieved it from the oven,  but all turned out fine and it was really good.  Then the Dulce de Leche is whipped with heavy cream into a most mouth watering froth.  I couldn’t get over how much I liked this whipped cream.  I am making it all the time from now on.

Ready for the oven

The unmolded cake

The decorated cake

In spite of its gimmicky name this cake is terrific.   And trust me, it is just as good as a single large cake so through out those mini things and make a great big one.   I do have to admit that all that syrup made my tall cake slump a bit but I think it looked fine and it tasted fantastic so no complaints from this corner.  Enjoy

Next Up:  Saint Honore Triffle

Two Fat Cats Whoopie Pies

When I was growing up in Ohio we called these scooter pies and I detested them.  That was because I hated marshmallow and anything with marshmallow in it.  To be honest I still hate marshmallow.  Back then it was because I didn’t like the spongy texture, as I got older is was and is because I find them cloyingly sweet.  Way too sweet for my taste, and I still am not found of the spongy texture.  My mom made a version of them where they were filled with sweetened whipped cream and we called them Chocolate Goobers.  I actually like the Goobers.  Of course, no marshmallow.  When I was in the Navy and stationed in Memphis, TN they were called Moon Pies and I think they were a national obsession in Tennessee.  Everywhere you went you would see Moon Pies or someone eating them.  I shrugged and gave them a try.  Even though I was older I still didn’t like them.  It wasn’t until I moved to California that I heard them called Whoopie Pies and they are still not my favorites although I have come to appreciate them a bit more.

These chocolate cakes are really delicious, moist and tender with a nice round chocolate flavor.  A very nice compliment to the marshmallow filling.  This was another one of those recipes where it took longer to assemble the ingredients then it did to make the batter.  Chocolate is melted.  The brown sugar, butter , egg and oil are creamed and then the chocolate is mixed in.  Flour, cocoa, salt. baking powder and baking soda are sifted together and added alternately with the buttermilk in three additions.  Then the batter is spooned onto a baking sheet in mounds and baked.  I am a lifetime member of the Cooking Club of America and throughout the years for various reasons they have sent me these cute little silicon tartlet molds and to be honest all these years I have never used them.  They were packed in the back of a drawer and I had completely forgotten that I had them until last week I had to get something out of that drawer and I saw them and I immediately thought that they would be perfect for this recipe.  Out they came and I think they worked perfectly.  They are a bit thicker than if I had just mounded the batter free form but I like the little rippled shape they add.

The baked cakelets in their tartlet molds

The marshmallow cream was much easier to make than I originally thought it would be on my initial reading of the recipe.  Sugar syrup is boiled to 250 degrees.  The egg white is whipped to stiff peaks then the sugar syrup is beaten in,  then butter and vanilla and the mixture is chilled.  In the meantime,  confectioners sugar and butter are creamed until smooth and then whipped until light in color.  The meringue is added and beaten smooth. 

The little solders lined up and getting their filling

Then the cakes are sandwiched together with the marshmallow cream and they are ready to be eaten.  I thought they were delicious but the next time I make I will substitute sweetened whipped cream for the marshmallow filling as I did find it to be much too sweet for my taste.  These are a winner.

Next Up:  Coffee Chiffonlets with Dulce de Leche Cream

Banana Refrigerator Cake with Dreamy Creamy White Chocolate Frosting

In my youth when I was in the cub scouts we used to have a special ritual at our monthly pack meetings.  Each month one of the mothers was asked to bake a cake and one of the fathers was designated as Mr. X.  During the social period before the meeting the cub scouts of the pack were supposed to go around and shake everyone’s hand and talk to them.  It was all designed to teach us social skills and politeness.  During the meeting, the identity of Mr. X was revealed and he would announce who was the person who had shaken his hand the nth time.  The lucky cub scout who shook Mr. X’s hand the correct time won the cake.  I will never forget the first time I was the lucky winner.  That month, the special cub scout mom had baked a banana cake.  It was a marvelous affair to my young eyes.   The cake seemed enormous.  It was three layers of lucious banana cake filled and frosted with soft rich chocolate frosting.  I couldn’t wait to get it home and have a piece after the meeting.  I was smitten with that cake and begged my own mother to make it all the time after that.  Thus began my love affair with banana cake.  Imagine my excitement when I saw this weeks recipe.  I couldn’t wait to get started.

This is a much more sophisticated recipe than the old fashioned banana cake from my childhood but it is every bit as delicious and oh what memories it brought back.  The recipe is not very complicated.  Bananas and creme fraiche are mixed in a food processor until smooth and then eggs, lemon zest and vanilla are added and processed until smooth.  I do have to admit that I found using the food processor a little unnecessary.  This could easily have been done in the mixer and saved the step of having to drag out and then clean the food processor.

Flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt are whisked together and set aside.  The banana mixture is put into the work bowl of a stand mixer and sugar is beaten in and then vegetable oil.  The flour mixture is then sifted over the egg mixture and beaten in until combined.  The batter is scraped into a prepared pan and baked.  Mine baked for 30 minutes at 325 degress in my convection oven.

The baked cake is then cooled on a rack for 10 minutes and then unmolded and cooled completely. 

The frosting is delicious and very easy to prepare.  White chocolate is melted and then left to cool.  Cream cheese, butter and creme fraiche are mixed in the food processor.  Then the melted white chocolate and almond extract are added and processed until smooth.  Again, this could easily be done with the electric mixer.  The recipe calls for just swirling the frosting on top of the layer and leaving the sides unadored but I chose to spruce it up just a bit by frosting the entire layer and adding sliced bananas and sliced almonds to the top.  I have often complained that I found Rose’s frostings too soft and this is no exception.  It was very soft and I had a difficult time icing the cake as you can see from the pictures it didn’t want to stay on or cover the sides of the cake.  I did a crumb coat and chilled it first and still had difficulty frosting and piping this icing.  That being said, the instructions did say to just swirl it on the top so I will say that it is my fault for not following the directions.  This frosting is delicious and certainly worth making again and following the directions.

Here’s to those fond childhood memories.

Next Up:  Two Fat Cats Whoopie Pie

Sybil’s Pecan Torte with Coffee Cream

I have to admit that I am clueless when it comes to Jewish holidays.  I have a general idea of what the holiday is about but I know virtually nothing about the traditions and rituals so I am going to take you at your word when you say that the last few recipes we have made are great for Passover.  I will say that if these recipes are great for Passover then it is a holiday that must involve some really great food.

This recipe was right up my alley.  Easy to prepare, not alot of sugar which makes it good for my diabetic family and of course, delicious. I loved the richness of the toasted nuts accented with just a slight hint of bitterness brought by the espresso powder.  This is perfect for afternoon snacking or with coffee or tea as well as a nice dessert. 

Making the cake is simple.  Toasted nuts are ground with sugar until fine.  Egg yolks and sugar are beaten to the ribbon stage and then the nut mixture is folded in.  Egg whites are beaten until until soft peaks form, then sugar is added and they are beaten until stiff peaks form.  The egg whites are folded into the yolk/nut mixture and the batter in poured into the prepared springorm pan and baked.  Mine baked for 30 minutes at 325 degrees in my convection oven.

The cake is adorned with a lovely coffee infused whipped cream which adds a nice smoothness without being overly sweet.  No further adornment is necessary for this lovely dessert. 

 

I’m a bit rushed this week due to the holiday so it is a short post. 

Happy Easter everyone.

Next Up:  Banana Refrigerator Cake