Chocolate Cake with Caramel, Ganache + Toasted Almonds

Chocolate Cake with Caramel, Ganache + Toasted Almonds

Happy 2019 everyone! I made this cake for New Year’s Eve last week. We went with a light dinner of Moroccan Tuna and Couscous with vegetables in hopes of having room for this cake. And we did!

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Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Bread

It’s that time of year again. All things Pumpkin! And dark. Well actually this October has been unusually sunny for Portland, but this past week the rain finally kicked in, raining every. single. day. oh no! But this time of year is also an opportunity for walks on misty mornings.

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Coconut Cake

Coconut Cake

Wouldn’t you know. On Jeff’s Birthday I’m ready to make this cake and… the oven is broken. It won’t heat and it’s only three years old! Luckily I had only prepared the cake pans while attempting to preheat the oven, so it wasn’t a total loss.

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Apple Pie

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As simple as it can be to make Apple Pie, I still found myself searching for a recipe last week. You might remember I’ve made a French Apple Pie, but it’s actually been a very long time since I’ve made a traditional Apple Pie. So here it is! And the pie crust here is really my favorite, it’s easy to roll out and work with, when baked it keeps it form nicely without falling apart and at the same time doesn’t taste like cardboard. The apples? For this pie I used King David apples that we picked up at an apple festival last month. I’m never sure which apples are which these days with so many varieties, is it good for baking? eating? This was a good choice, they didn’t mush up and had a really nice texture, some bite to it, with a spicy flavor. So thumbs up on the King David Apples. 

We had a lovely Thanksgiving for two this year. I made a turkey roulade - a turkey breast rolled with dried cherry and sausage stuffing. It was the third time I’ve made this and it works out really great for a small feast. It’s deserving of a blog post so I’ll just have to make it again. I’m sure Jeff won’t mind.

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Apple Pie

  • 6-8 apples (peeled, cored and sliced)
  • Lemon juice, 1/2 lemon squeezed
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/4 clove
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg for egg wash 
  • 1 tablespoon or so Muscovado sugar (or large granulated sugar)

Pie Dough

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons ice water

To make the dough in a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar and salt until combined, about 5 pulses. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 5-7 pulses (you don’t want to over work the dough too much or it will become tough.) Remove from processor and place dough in large bowl, add 6 tablespoons of the ice water, combine with wood spoon. The dough should hold together when squeezed with your fingers but should not be sticky. If it’s crumbly, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, divide in half (I make one half slightly larger for the bottom crust) and shape each into a disk. Wrap separately with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

 

Filling and Assembly

Preheat oven to 375°F. 

In small bowl combine flour, sugars, salt and spices. In large bowl place sliced apples, squeeze lemon juice, then add flour mixture and toss until well combined. Set aside.

Roll out your bottom crust about 2-3” larger than diameter of pie dish, place in pie dish and trim around the edges. Add the apple mixture. Roll your top crust to fit, cut out any desired designs, place on top of pie, trim any excess and pinch the edges together with thumb and forefinger. Roll out any additional dough and use pie cutter to top with leaf or apple design. Adding a leaf pattern around the edges looks pretty. Whisk the egg in a small bowl and brush over top of pie, sprinkle some granulated sugar.

Bake for 45-50 minutes until brown. Allow to cool a bit before serving. It will slice better if you refrigerate and then bring to room temp. 

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Also, I’m sorry to see these pie cutters are no longer available, I’m sure there are more out there but this was a nice selection of designs. 

Strawberry, Thyme + Peach Buttermilk Cake

It was Jeff’s birthday last week and I wanted to make him a special cake. I’ve never made a layer cake before and felt it long overdue. So I picked up some cake pans and cake stand and made it happen. I remembered that Eva from Adventures in Cooking has a lot of nice cake recipes and this one caught my eye. Oh boy is this good! The mascarpone whipped cream frosting is just about perfect. It’s creamy, holds up really well and it’s not overly sweet. I have to say that’s one thing I’m not crazy about when it comes to cakes. That insanely sweet frosting that overshadows any other flavor. But with this cake you can appreciate all the flavors together, a bit of ginger and thyme in the cake, layered with fresh peaches, strawberries and the perfectly creamy not-to-sweet frosting. Since this was my first time cutting cakes into layers it was a bit lopsided but not too bad. One thing, I would double the frosting recipe, I only had enough for three layers and this should be a four layer cake. Overall it inspired me to make more cakes. There is something happy and fun about a layered cake, and I find myself dreaming up new ideas which are sure to be posted on this blog. Enjoy!

Strawberry + Peach Buttermilk Cake With Mascarpone Whipped Cream

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large peach, pitted and chopped
  • 3 large strawberries, diced
  • 1 tablespoon diced fresh thyme leaves

Mascarpone Whipped Cream Frosting

(you might want to double this frosting for a 4-layer cake)

  • 1 cup mascarpone
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 12 strawberries, thinly sliced
  • 2 peaches, cut into eighths
  • fresh fruit or flowers for garnishing on top

For the cake mix together the flour, baking soda, ginger and salt in a medium bowl until combined. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease 2 (8-inch) cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper, set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment at medium speed until smooth and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Lower the speed and add the buttermilk and vanilla extract, mixing until combined. Add the flour mixture and mix until a batter forms, then stir in the strawberries, peaches, and thyme until just incorporated.

Evenly distribute the batter between the 2 (8-inch) cake pans and bake until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake coms out relatively clean (unless you poked throughfruit bit), about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove and allow to cool for 15 minutes before running a spatula around the edge of the pan and flipping the pan over onto a wire rack, removing the pan and allowing the cakes to cool completely on the racks.

For the mascarpone whipped cream, beat together the mascarpone, whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment at medium high speed until fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Trim the top of the cakes so that you have a fairly flat surface. Then cut each of the cake layers in half horizontally using a sharp bread knife, you should now have 4 layers. Divide the mascarpone whipped cream into 4 parts and spread out 3 parts between the layers of cake along with the fresh strawberry and peach slices. Place the remaining fourth of the mascarpone whipped cream on top of the cake in a dollop and arrange fresh fruit or flowers around it, serve immediately. Will last a few days refrigerated.

Adapted from Adventures in Cooking