Swiss Myths

Nothing bad can come of a foodstuff with the word “butter” directly incorporated into its name.
Let’s talk meringue buttercream, people.
Meringue buttercreams are used by professional bakers and cake makers because of their stability, fluffiness, shine, and taste.
When you first taste a meringue buttercream, you will be amazed by the lightness of it.
They are, by far, my favorite way to finish cakes.
American buttercreams, which are a simple combination of butter, powdered sugar, and a liquid, become crusty as the butter dries out and are always too sweet and cloying for my taste.
(I have a common opinion with Rosie of Sweetapolita, however; I agree that cupcakes can be very delightful with a good American buttercream.)
Cooked frostings, often called heritage or boiled frostings, made by cooking flour and milk to sub for part of the butter, lack the richness that I think an icing should have and can turn out grainy.
Bloggers extol the virtues of SMB- Swiss meringue buttercream.
I wholly agree; however, SMB can be a real pain in the ass.
First of all, it involves making a Swiss meringue, for which I have no patience.
You have to stand, over a stove, whisking egg whites and sugar in a double boiler as they gently come to temperature and the sugar dissolves.
There’s little hands-off time during this period.  You don’t want the eggs to scramble.
(I hate double boilers!)
Whenever I make SMB, I notice a nasty, albeit minuscule  strip of cooked egg whites and sugar right at the top of the mass; these are tiny little flecks that I didn’t sweep up in time, and because the sides of the bowl become very hot from the steam, those tiny flecks cook quickly and become crusty. 
(They’re not omelette-y or eggy or anything, because they’re mainly sugar.  Just crusty.)
I don’t like that.  At all.
I don’t want to have to deal with that every time I make a buttercream.
In fact, I don’t ever want to have to deal with a crusty ring of anything.
So all this talk about SMB being the best?  I’m here to debunk it.
I prefer the easier, fluffier, and glossier alternative:
SMB’s cousin, or sister, or whoever, Italian meringue buttercream.
Here’s why.
First off, for all the reasons why any egg-based buttercream is great.
1. They are not as sweet as an American buttercream.    
Without all the sugar coating your tongue, flavors are intensified and cleaner.
2. They store beautifully.
Whether it’s in the fridge or the freezer, they are wonderful to store and use later, so never think twice if you cannot downsize a recipe and you end up with extra.
There are always uses for buttercream, and there’s nothing more wonderful than pre-made delicious buttercream when you need to frost a couple cupcakes but can’t be bothered to make another batch.
3.  They’re simple.
See that photo right above?  Do any of those four ingredients scare you?
No?  Really? Eggs, butter, sugar, and lemon juice don’t scare you?
Hmm.  Then I guess European-style buttercreams shouldn’t either.
4.  They’re not made with Crisco.  Ever.
Buttercream is buttercream for a reason.
Then, the reasons why I choose IMB over any other European buttercream.

1.  It’s not as rich (or wasteful) as French buttercream.
French buttercream is made with egg yolks in the same manner as Italian meringue- whipping eggs while pouring sugar syrup over them.
All those yolks make for a very, very rich buttercream: almost too rich for me.
Yolks are used in custards, curds, puddings, and ice cream, and as a result, I rarely, if ever, have extra yolks.
Yolks also do not keep well and I always have egg whites on hand from said used yolks.
Egg whites keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for ages.
If I were to make French buttercream as often as I do IMB, I’d be drowning in egg whites.
Absolutely over my head.  

And furthermore, the best use for these egg whites would be an IMB.  It’s the circle of life.
2.  It’s quicker and has far less downtime than German buttercream.
German buttercream is based on a thick custard which is allowed to cool and congeal completely, then has butter whipped in.
German buttercream is awesome- don’t get me wrong.  
It tastes like ice cream, because it basically is ice cream, just not frozen and with a whole lot of butter whipped in.
Like ice cream, but better.
More butter= more better.
Here’s the thing: in order for the butter to emulsify with the custard, which is already a feat, when you think about it, because custards are already pretty high fat and you’re just shoving a brick of butter into that and expecting to get frosting to come out, you need the custard to be cool.
Like, completely cool.  Like, stick it in your fridge and wait a few hours.
I ain’t got time for dat.
Seriously… once you get your IMB down pat, you can even start to cut time on the relatively short prep time because you’ll be able to add colder butter to a warmer meringue and still have it all work out perfectly.
German buttercream?  Not so much.  You must wait.
I am bad at waiting.
Thus, IMB wins this battle.  Sorry, Germany.
3.  Finally, in my humble opinion, Italian meringue trumps Swiss meringue.  On a lot of accounts, enough to convince me that IMB>SMB. 
Italian meringue is quicker.
SMB requires patience to prevent scrambled eggs.  
You have to cook the eggs, then whip the meringue.
With IMB, you cook the eggs while making the meringue.  The whole process of making the buttercream takes only a slight bit longer than making a meringue.

IMB is wonderful because you can incorporate a wealth of flavors right in, by infusing the sugar syrup with another ingredient.
For example, when making a lemon IMB, you can use lemon juice to make the syrup, thus giving the final product a lovely and prominent lemon tang, whereas with an SMB, you must use lemon extract, or whip in a lemon curd (yet another time-costly step) as there’s no direct way to incorporate substantial amounts of liquids.
Italian meringues are much more stable than Swiss meringues.
They’re thicker, glossier, and less prone to weeping than Swiss meringues, because they have been fully cooked and stabilized by the hot sugar.
I have had instances where my SMB weeps (little droplets of water escaping from the emulsion and beading on the cake, causing the frosting to separate and slough off, as well as look incredibly unappetizing), but never, ever, has an IMB wept, in mine own experiences, of course.
Okay.  Have I got you sold on Italian meringue buttercream?
Now how the heck do we make it?
Realtalk:  you’re going to be a little put off when you read any recipe for IMB.
Recipe writers (myself included, sorrynotsorry), are all like…
 meanwhile, while this boiling hot sugar syrup is burbling and bubbling like a cauldron, whip up some egg whites real quick and they should be just perfectly soft but yet stable when you pour this boiling hot sugar over the whipping attachment and try not to hit the whisk because it will shoot syrup straight into your eye or the back of your knee or wherever is most painful and good luck see you on the other side don’t forget the sugar syrup is hot…
It’s a load of cra mumbo jumbo.  And the timing thing really throws people off.
Don’t let it throw you off!
I promise, it is not stressful to make a successful IMB, and when people bite into your cake and look up at you with starry eyes and a full mouth and smile, you will be drawn back to make more buttercream.  I just know it.
It’s irresistible for both the baker and the consumer.
So here’s how we do this.
(I’m going to do all of this in American volume measurements to make it more accessible. 
 Generally, however, I do stick to weight with IMB.  Whatever floats your boat, guys.)
First, get your mise en place, well, en place.
Gather everything you’re going to need.
Here’s a checklist for a lemon Italian meringue, which is what we’re making today for that cake way the hell up there past all those boring shots of my mixer:
1 lemon (2 lemon, red lemon, blue lemon…)
1 cup of sugar
a pinch of cream of tartar
4 egg whites
12 ounces (24 tablespoons, 3 sticks) butter, softened but cool and cut into pieces
measuring cup
small-medium heavy bottomed pan
stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment
Squeeze dat lemon!  
Get 1/3 cup of juice in your measuring cup and place it straight into your saucepan, right in the middle.  
Now, take your sugar and pour that into the middle of the saucepan as well, right in the middle of your puddle of lemon juice.  
Avoid letting any dry sugar touch the sides of the pan.  This will prevent crystallization.
Place the egg whites and the pinch of cream of tartar into the bowl of your stand mixer.
Start your engines.  On low-medium speed (4-6 on a kitchenaid), begin to whip your egg whites.
Great.  Now ignore them for a little while.

Let’s turn our attention back to the pot; place it on your stove and turn the heat on to a medium-high setting.
Place your thermometer in the pot.
Now, wait.  The sugar will dissolve and the syrup will begin to bubble.
We’re waiting until it hits 245 degrees F.
Look back at your egg whites.  How fluffy are they?
When the syrup hits 200, they should be all foam- no thick, liquid egg whites left.
When it hits 240, they should be soft peaks- there should be definite peaks, but they shouldn’t look dry or stiff.
Here’s a secret.  I’ve accidentally added the sugar syrup to over-whipped egg whites, ones that are already at stiff peaks, and under-whipped egg whites, ones that are only beginning to hold peaks.
It works out.  I promise.
Even better?  If you’re nervous that one of the two horses is winning the race by too large a margin, rein it in.  You can turn down the heat on the syrup, or even take it off the heat for 30 seconds.  You can slow down the mixer or even stop it completely.
It works out.  I promise.
Now, your syrup has come to temp and your egg whites are at soft peaks.  Brilliant!
Carefully pour the syrup into the measuring cup.
With the mixer on medium speed (4-5 on a kitchenaid), drizzle the syrup over the meringue, about 1 1/2 inches from the side of the bowl.
That’s the sweet spot; however, if you don’t feel comfortable pouring the sugar with the mixer whipping, don’t.
Instead, turn the mixer off, lift the attachment, drizzle a couple teaspoons on top of the meringue, lower the attachment, and whip on high for 10 seconds.  
Continue to repeat this until all the syrup is gone.  
I think you will quickly find yourself pouring the syrup with the mixer whipping; it is much less tedious.
You’re almost there!
Whip the meringue on high until it has cooled to body temperature; you can feel the sides of the bowl as an indicator.
If your mixer is huffing and puffing and can’t possibly last, just turn it off after 5 or so minutes and let the meringue cool for 10, then whip on high again.
Once your meringue is at body temp, add in your butter a few pieces at a time.
You are now going to enter the 5 stages of making an egg-based buttercream.
Here’s the remedy.  Stop freaking out, and keep whipping.
Do.  Not.  Stop.  Whipping.
Don’t you dare touch that lever.
I’m watching you.
Keep whipping.
1. (Blissful) Ignorance
When you’re first throwing your butter into the bowl, you could care less.  
You’re not even really paying attention- Real Housewives of Miami is on!  
Hey, you throw that butter in there man, the commercial break is over.
Just let it whip.
2. Denial
Return to the bowl, la dee da… Oh.  Oh.  Wait.  It looks like my meringue has fallen.
No… the butter must just be on the top.  Right?
I worked too hard to get that meringue to be all fluffy and glossy to have it fall down on me now!
That’s not a fallen meringue, right?!?
Wait.  No.  Babe.  Wait.  Babe! Babe! No!  No! Babe! Wait!  Babe, wait!  Wait, babe!
Relax: your meringue is supposed to fall.  That’s the point of this step.  
A fallen meringue is normal and I promise all your baking friends’ meringues have fallen, too.
3. Panic (re: curdling)
Now what?  Well, your buttercream looks really curdled.  
There are all these nasty little butter pieces.  
It looks like you should trash the whole shebang.
Definitely trash it.  Oh my gosh.  What do I do?  Look at those curds- what are those?!
Do.  Not.  Stop.  Whipping. 
A curdled look just indicates that your butter was a touch too cold.
If you keep whipping, the temperatures will become more evenly distributed and the curdling will disappear.
Keep whipping.
4. Anger (re: liquidity)
Okay, the curds have gone away.  Now it looks like I have a glaze type deal going on in my mixing bowl.
Why is it so damn thin?  I thought this was supposed to be some fluffy s#*!.
I swear to GOD I am never going back on that dumb blog.  Tuh!
Surprise!  You know what the solution is going to be?
If you guessed “keep whipping,” you’re getting somewhere.
Liquid is normal.  The butter will soon emulsify.
You’ll hear a noise while the frosting is thin, a splashy sort of mixing noise.
When the butter starts to emulsify, the noise will thicken, and become a whap-whap-whap noise; this will indicate that your buttercream is getting some body and oomph!
Keep whipping until you hear that noise!
5. Satisfaction
You frost that cake, you sassy little minx!  Look at you and your fluffy, shiny, gorgeous IMB.
You rock.  You roll.
You should be the next Food Network Star looking all professional with that buttercream.
Moral of the story: making a meringue buttercream is not that bad.  And it’s totally worth it.

You can use it to frost a cake like the one I have here today, which was made to celebrate my dad and also my parents’ anniversary, which was a few days back.
(27 years!  You go, Glen Coco!)

It’s a strawberry cake sandwiched with the lightest white cake imaginable, and surrounded with a thick, luscious layer of lemon IMB.
It’s a striking cake.  It screams summer.
And it’s great practice for some Italian meringue buttercream frosting.

A few words, then I’ll shut up, because this post is long enough already-god who do I think I am trying to make you read this long post while you have all that work that’s sitting by the wayside crazy food temptress blogger lady.

Straight out of the mixing bowl, IMB is perfect for crumb coats and smooth finishes.
Refrigerate it for 15 or so minutes to firm it up a bit in order to pipe roses and the like.

Congratulations to my father, you are an inspiration.
And to the both of my two wonderful parents, I like you guys alright. 

Hoo!  Boy, I need a nap and a piece of cake stat.

Berries and Cream Cake
for the strawberry cake:
heavily adapted from A Dash of Sass
1 1/2 cups AP flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
scant 1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 scant cup frozen strawberries
1 cup sugar
3 ounces (6 tablespoons, 3/4 stick) butter
3 eggs
splash vanilla
splash strawberry extract, optional
rose colored food coloring, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour two 6-inch pans.
Stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together.
Microwave the strawberries until they are falling apart and have released their juice, about 1 minute.
Puree the berries and measure out 3/4 cup.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add in the eggs one at a tim.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the strawberry and vanilla extracts and food coloring, if desired.
Add the strawberry puree and mix on high until well blended.
Add in the flour and mix until homogeneous.

Pour into prepared pans and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.
for the white cake:
adapted from i am baker
1 cup AP flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup milk
3 egg whites
splash vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour two 6-inch pans.
Mix the flour, cornstarch, salt, baking powder, and sugar together.
Mix the milk, egg whites, and vanilla together in a measuring cup.
Add the butter and mix until most of the butter is broken up; add in half of the milk mixture and allow to beat on high until everything is incorporated (batter will still be very thick).
Add in the second half of the milk mixture and mix to combine.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix again.
Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are golden and a tester comes out clean.
for the lemon Italian meringue buttercream:
adapted from Sky High
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup sugar
4 egg whites
pinch cream of tartar
12 ounces (3 sticks) butter, softened but cool and cut into pieces
Place the lemon juice in a heavy bottomed pan and add the sugar to the center of the pan.
Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
Start to whip the egg whites.
Meanwhile, cook the sugar syrup: without stirring, allow the syrup to come up to 245 degrees F, about 5 minutes.
Keep an eye on the egg whites; when your syrup reaches 240 degrees F, your egg whites should be soft peaks.
Once your syrup comes up to temperature, remove it from the heat and pour it into a measuring cup.
With the mixer running on medium speed, slowly and carefully drizzle the hot syrup over the meringue.
Try to avoid hitting the whisk attachment directly, as this will cause splattering on the sides of the bowl.
Once all the syrup has been added, whip on high for 10 or so minutes, until the meringue is cooled to body temperature.
Once the meringue has cooled, add in the butter a few pieces at a time while whipping on high.

After adding all the butter, the frosting may be liquid-like; keep whipping until it thickens up and becomes fluffy.
(You will hear a sudden change in the sound of the mixer; this indicates that the frosting is thickening up.)
to assemble:
Place one of the cooled strawberry cakes on your cake plate or other serving dish.
Place 1/4 cup of frosting over the cake and spread out; add a few more tablespoons if you need to.
Place a cooled white cake over that layer and repeat.
Repeat with the next two cakes.
Thinly frost the cake to ensure that no crumbs will escape.
Add the rest of the frosting to the top of the cake and smooth it out, moving down the sides to create crisp edges.
Finish as desired; serve at a cool room temperature.


Sometimes, you see something you really, really wish you hadn’t.

A text or a phone call, an email or a photograph, numbers on a scale or old pants, a person, a place, a thing: a reminder of days gone by.  

The kind of thing that instantly feels like a little stone in the pit of your stomach.
The feeling that makes the tips of your ears red and the ends of your fingers cold. 
That dead weight right in the middle of your body that is the exact opposite of butterflies.

You know what I’m talking about.
We’ve all been there.

It happens.  We see it.
And it sucks.  
The mildest form of it is like a buzzing gnat of regret, purely annoying and easily swattable; the worst, a punch in the gut.
It’s the things you could have gone your whole life without seeing, the ones that tug the hardest on your heartstrings or stab the deepest into the recesses of your mind, that produce the most confounding emotions (of course).
The tears that come, inevitably, are the saddest and the sweetest- and the saltiest- of all.
There are no bad memories or experiences without good ones preceding.
It’s off the good which we measure the bad.
It’s not easy to let bygones be bygones.  
However, it is true that at some point, you will be rudely reminded of an unsatisfactory or tender moment of your past, and it will hurt, and you will have to let it go; you will have to accept it for exactly what is was, and exactly what it wasn’t.
We cannot change the past, which is a sad and terrifying reality which few can easily come to terms with; the rest of us have to simply put up with our own mortal inclinations and wishes. 
Such is life.
We spend our lives wishing, hoping, working to change the past or future; we must never forget, in the instantaneous moment of the present, that our attempts may be in vain, and to appreciate the fact that that lost effort is okay.  
It’s human. 
We have to embrace the mistakes in the past and those to come, and in doing so, accept the profound emotions which accompany them.
La mélancolie et le bonheur… Les emotions douces-amères.
What you see here is a matcha cake with tangy cream cheese frosting.  
The green tea imparts just a slight herbaceous and umami quality; it’s fragrant and well offset by a sweet, sticky icing.
I made it ombré by varying the amount of tea and adding a touch of green food coloring. 
I actually grind my own matcha powder out of loose leaf in a coffee grinder.  (If you want to do the same, make sure your grinder is 100% clean by grinding some plain rice into powder in it before adding the tea.  Coffee will distort the flavor and color of the matcha.) 
The white chocolate roses that I made out of homemade modelling chocolate were just the right finishing touch, I think.  
The cake is, appropriately, aigre-doux: bittersweet.
Yeah, I saw it.  
I felt bad for a minute or two.  I might even have had a short, ugly, and relieving cry.  
Then I had a piece of cake.  And you know what?  
It was delicious.
Ombré Matcha Cake
4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar
3 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup milk
1 scanttablespoon, 1 ½ teaspoons, and ¾ teaspoon matcha powder, divided
a tiny bit of leaf green gel food coloring
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  
Butter and flour as many 6- or 8- inch pans as you have; you will end up with four layers, so if you have 2 pans, just bake two of the layers, cool and clean the pans, and bake the second two layers.  
Cream together the butter and sugar for about 2 minutes, until very fluffy and pale yellow; beat in the vanilla and egg whites until combined.  
Whisk the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.  
Add to the butter mixture, alternating with the milk; start and finish with the dry.  
Divide your batter in half as evenly as possible (I weigh mine out), then divide those in half, too.  
Pour one quarter of the batter into a pan as is.  
Add 1 scant tablespoon of matcha and 2 drops green food coloring to one bowl, in another, add 1 ½ teaspoons matcha plus 1 drop green food coloring, and in the third, add only ¾ teaspoon matcha.  
Stir each well, and pour into prepared pans.  
Bake for 15-17 minutes.  
Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely.
For the [tangy] frosting:
4 ounces sour cream (a heaping ½ cup)
8 ounces cream cheese
4 ounces butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
pinch salt and dash vanilla extract
Beat the butter and cream cheese together until fluffy and pale.  
Add in the sour cream, vanilla, salt, and sugar, and beat on low speed until combined.
To assemble the cake:
Torte (level) your layers if need be, then layer them, starting with the darkest.  
Don’t add too much frosting between the layers, because the ombré effect will be slightly less cool.  
Frost the outside of the cake as desired!  
[Note: this frosting is not pipeable.  Instead, go for homestyle swirls, homeboy.]


Soft snowflakes are floating down outside my window as I type this, landing gently on vibrant evergreens and vivid red berries.
Something is stirring in me as I take in the peaceful scene outside…
By Jove, I think it’s the Christmas spirit.

My stomach is still bloated has barely regained its balance from Thanksgiving, and I’ve already got the next holiday on the brain.  
Exactly one month!

I gots problems, people.
Why, just last weekend, I spent an entire day raking with my family, greedily anticipating Thanksgiving, and appreciating the beautiful fall weather.
How quickly times change, no?

I had a very beautiful, very long, very poetic post written to go along with this.  

Only problem?  I wrote it using the blogger app on my phone.  What a Big Mistake that was…  (Picture me shaking my fist at the blogging gods right now.)

I’m sorry that I’ve been away from the blog for some time.  Thanksgiving really took it out of me, as I decided to undertake the prep and cooking of the entire meal myself.  


The last few weeks, in terms of Thanksgiving prep, have gone something like this:

I ordered the turkey (no, I don’t eat meat, but my family does).
I went to my local butcher at an ungodly hour in the morning, to make sure I got my hands on some good local meat products: fresh bacon, fresh cranberry-sage sausages, and freshly-rendered lard.
I went grocery shopping (by meself) after a long basketball practice; I spent a ridiculous amount of money and could hardly push the cart, and I’m no weakling.  I must have purchased 200 pounds of food that day.

I went and got the turkey from the farm, a trek that ended up being far harder than me going out and hunting a damn turkey myself.  As it turns out, there are multiple “Creamery” Roads, complete with “ninety-degree turns” right near house number 200s in the nearby Slaterville Springs.  Can you guess who went to the wrong one?  What turned out to be the completely wrong one?  Yes, me.  And don’t laugh.  I had to drive 5 miles in a state forest OFF-ROAD in my Volvo to get to the wrong farm, only to discover that the house numbers went from 194 to 204.  What the…?!?  Yes, I went 45 minutes past the correct Creamery Road.  Upon this realization, I cursed, cried, and punched my steering wheel, à la Shit Girlfriends Say (go to 2:07).  I’m kidding.  But I did wheel my car around and speed back through the forest as fast as I could, suspension be damned.  

I cooked.  A lot.  The menu?

Sourdough bread, gluten-free cheese crackers, cheeses, and grapes 
Roasted squash, carrots, parsnips, turnips, beets, and sweet potatoes
Roasted lemony brussels sprouts with cranberries, roasted garlic, and maple-balsalmic glaze
Quince and brown-butter basted turkey
Smashed fingerling potatoes with scallions and bacon
(Gluten-free) Cornbread stuffing with sausage, apples, onions, and sage
Apple cider cranberry sauce
(Healthy) Pumpkin pie in an almond-date crust
Salted caramel apple thyme pie in a cheddar cheese and lard crust with maple whipped cream
Maple crème fraîche tart 
Copious amounts of Prosecco, Champagne, and wine

It was all delicious; I was very happy.  And exhausted.  Still am.

The night before Thanksgiving, we celebrated my oldest brother’s birthday.  I made him a French toast cake, which consisted of a brown sugar, brown butter cake filled with cinnamon cream cheese, frosted with a brown sugar swiss meringue buttercream, topped with a maple caramel glaze, and finished with candied bacon.  Yowza.

I’ll be around more often; I promise.  After all, I have some serious holiday baking calling my name.  
P.S. I’m thankful for you guys!  It seriously awes me that I even have readers.  Love y’all.

French Toast Cake
for the cake:
3 sticks unsalted butter, browned
2 1/4 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 egg yolks (save the whites)
2 whole eggs
1/3 cup maple syrup, topped off with buttermilk to equal 1 1/4 cups
Let the butter cool until barely warm to touch.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour a half sheet pan.  Add the sugar, salt, and vanilla to the butter and beat until combined. Add in the eggs and egg yolks and mix to combine.  Add in the maple syrup-buttermilk mixture and mix to combine.  Dump in the flour and baking powder and beat until homogeneous.  Spread into pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown and springy to the touch.
for the bacon:
2 strips bacon
brown sugar, as needed
in a preheated oven, bake bacon, covered in brown sugar, until crispy, about 15 minutes; flip halfway through and coat with more brown sugar.
for the filling:
8 ounces cream cheese
big pinch cinnamon and nutmeg
big pinch salt
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream, or as needed
Beat all ingredients together until fluffy.
for the frosting:
4 ounces egg whites
4 ounces brown sugar
big pinch salt
12.8 ounces butter, room temp
In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix egg whites, salt, and sugar together.  Heat over a pan of steaming water until the egg whites reach 145 degrees F, whisking all the while.  Remove from heat, and beat until stiff meringue forms and bowl is cool to the touch.  Slowly add in the butter, tablespoon by tablespoon, and continue to beat until the buttercream is fluffy and smooth.
for the caramel:
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
big pinch salt
1/4 cup maple syrup, plus 1 tablespoon
2 tablespoons cream
Melt butter together with salt, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup maple syrup over medium heat and cook until smooth.  Remove from heat and stir in cream and last tablespoon maple syrup.  Use immediately or refrigerate and reheat and recook until smooth before use.

Strides for Sarah

Today’s will be a quick post because I have a more substantial one coming up tomorrow.
Last week, a project of a friend of mine, Rachel, came to fruition.  It was a 5K run/walk benefit to raise money for Camp Good Days, in memory of her cousin, Sarah, who recently lost a valiant battle with brain cancer. 

It took a tremendous amount of work and effort for her to put the fundraiser together, and she did an awesome job.
I ran in the race… And managed to pee my pants. Yes, you read that right.  I had to “go” so badly that in the middle of the race, well, yeah.  Now that more than fifty percent of my readers have closed the window and vowed never to read my blog again out of disgust, I will leave the rest of ye loyal followers with some delicious recipes that I whipped up to bring to the benefit’s snack table: blueberry lime coconut cupcakes, SprinkleBakes’ swirl cookies (she is amaaazzzinnnggg), and a “Hot Chocolate” cake. 

Sigh.  A flop.

Oh and also, a flop in the kitchen (lime tarts) turned on its head into a frozen treat.
Here’s to Sarah and her entire family, and here’s to Rachel, for working so hard on an inspiring event.  xx

Lime Curd
Makes 2 cups, adapted from userealbutter
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
4 egg yolks, beaten
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup  fresh lime juice
1 tbsp lime zest

Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan.  Whisk in the cornstarch and sugar together, then whisk that mixture into the water.  Bring back to a boil.  It will be very thick and gooey. Add part of the hot mixture to the egg yolks, whisking constantly, to temper.  Then mix the egg yolk mixture back into the rest of the cornstarch-sugar goo.  Whisking constantly, bring back to a boil.  Then remove from heat, stir in butter, juice, and zest.  Cover with plastic wrap, making sure to press the plastic against the surface to prevent a skin, and chill until you need it.  

Blueberry-Lime Coconut Cupcakes
Makes around 12 regular size cupcakes (I, the genius that I am, managed to get a yield of 11 by filling a couple cakes too much)
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Big pinch sea salt
1/2 cup sugar
zest of one lime
1/4 cup sour cream or yogurt
2 small eggs or 1 extra large
1/3 cup neutral oil
1/3-1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut (depends how frisky you’re feelin’)
1/2-3/4 cup blueberries (Same goes here as for the coconut)
Line a regular muffin tin with liners. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Rub the zest of the lime with the sugar until fragrant.  Mix all the other ingredients, except the blueberries and coconut, (Dump n’ run!) together until homogeneous.  Then stir in the coconut and gently fold in the blueberries.  Fill each cupcake liner up approximately 2/3 of the way full (use an ice cream scoop for uniformity…).  Bake for 25-30 minutes, checking for doneness around 20 minutes.  Cupcakes are done when they spring back from a light touch.  

Coconut-Lime Cream Cheese Frosting

Enough to frost 12-ish cupcakes
8 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/3 cup lime curd
Beat all ingredients except the curd and sugar together until fluffy, then slowly add in sugar until incorporated.  Mix in the curd.

“Hot Chocolate” Cake

Makes 1 3×8 layer cake
For the cake: (adapted from Sweetapolita)
1 3/4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
big pinch sea salt
2 eggs
1 cup hot black coffee
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup neutral oil
healthy splash vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour three 8-inch pans.
Mix everything together in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Divide evenly into the pans, and bake for 30-35 minutes (check around 25!).  Cake will be springy when done.
For the frosting and filling:
7.5 ounces egg whites (it’s okay to go over)
7.5 ounces sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
24 ounces butter, cut up into small pieces and at room temperature
3/4 cup Ovaltine
2 ounces melted and cooled bittersweet chocolate
Heat egg whites, sugar, and salt in a double boiler until they reach 145 degrees F.  Remove from heat and beat until thick, glossy, and cool (bowl should be neutral to the touch).  using the paddle attachment, slowly add in the butter in pieces until all is incorporated.  Remove all but 2.5 cups of the buttercream and place in another bowl.  With the remaining buttercream, mix in the Ovaltine and melted chocolate.  Fill the layers with the Ovaltine buttercream, and frost the outside with the regular buttercream.  

Lime Meringue Pie Frozen Yogurt

190 grams (1 1/2 cups) graham cracker crumbs
20 grams (1/4 cup) milk powder (optional)
25 grams (2 Tbsp.) sugar
3 grams (3/4 tsp.) kosher salt
55 grams (4 Tbsp. or 1/2 stick) butter, melted, or as needed
55 grams (1/4 cup) heavy cream
The rest of the lime curd (or just use the whole batch, and don’t make the cupcakes.)

3/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 cups Greek yogurt 

1/2 cup heavy cream
Pulse the first 5 ingredients together in a food processor.  Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for about 15-20 minutes.  Remove, let cool, and break into chunks.  Mix the other portion of heavy cream, the Greek yogurt, and the sugar, and let sit for a little while so the sugar can mingle with the dairy.  Then freeze in an ice cream maker, until frozen but ever so slightly soft.  Fold in the lime curd and graham crust.  When you stick it in your freezer to store, be sure to place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface to prevent ice crystals from forming.

Be prepared for some layer cakes coming up in the near future! Weeeee!  

I wish the sprinkles stuck on a bit better.

The Frenchman

So, here’s the thing:  I did  have a delicious recipe for burnt caramel ice cream, à la Toscanini’s, and a very sweet story about my father and his affinity for said ice cream.  Unfortunately, said father ate said ice cream faster than you can say Toscanini’s and therefore I had no opportunity to photograph it.  Glad at least someone enjoyed it…  Anyways, here’s something equally sweet.
Fresh from the garden

 J’ai un ami qui s’appelle Emile, et il adore la lavande; on blague que ça c’est car il est français.  Alors, il est le “Frenchman.”  C’était son anniversaire la lundi dernière, mais je n’étais pas à l’école ce jour là.  C’est dommage que je l’ait raté, mais j’ai fait ce gâteau pour lui hier.  C’est un gâteau de lavande et citron avec le glaçage de la gousse de vanille.

Du sucre avec la lavande et zeste d’un citron

    I have a friend named Emile, and he loves lavender; we joke that it’s because he’s French.  He is the Frenchman.  It was his birthday last Monday, but I wasn’t in school that day.  It’s too bad I missed it, but I made this cake for him yesterday.  It’s a lavender and lemon cake with vanilla bean frosting.

J’ai su immédiatement que j’ai voulu adapter un gâteau de yaourt français pour qu’il puisse avoir de la lavande; je fait ce gâteau souvent, et il est magnifiquement moelleux et de citron, grâce au yaourt.  Il n’y a pas de beurre dans le gâteau, mais on ne le sait jamais du saveur.

I knew straight away that I wanted to adapt a French yogurt cake to include lavender; I make this cake often, and it is wonderfully moist and lemony, thanks to the yogurt. There is no butter in the cake, though you wouldn’t know it from the taste.
Freckles like mine


 Anyways, I had a little issue with the decorating:  I dyed some sanding sugar lavender, and planned to use that on the cake.  Once on the frosted cake, it looked garish and simply awful.  So, I scraped it off and tried to save the frosting.  I then wanted to use lots of sprinkles to make it more festive, but somehow, Lord knows how, I was almost all out of sprinkles. This I only realized after putting some sprinkles on the cake.  So, I scraped that off and did a minimal sprinkling and tried to make those that stuck on the cake look purposeful.  Oh well.  You live, you learn.
Joyeuse anniversaire, mon ami.
Glossy, stiff peaks.  Parfait.
Lavender Lemon Yogurt Cake

adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking
makes 2 8-inch rounds
1 cup flour
1/2 cup almond flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
healthy pinch sea salt
1 cup sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons chopped fresh lavender
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
3 eggs
1/3 cup oil (I used equal parts olive and canola)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease two 8-inch rounds.  Whisk the flours, baking powder, and salt together.  Rub the lemon zest, lavender, and sugar in a bowl with your fingers until it becomes fragrant; add to the flour mixture.  Add the yogurt, eggs, and oil, and mix together.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the cake springs back to the touch and is golden.
Vanilla Bean Mascarpone Swiss Meringue Buttercream
makes 2.5 cups
5 ounces egg whites
5.5 ounces sugar
Scrapings of one or two vanilla beans
Pinch of salt
1 pound butter, slightly soft, in small pieces
5 ounces mascarpone
Heat the egg whites, vanilla beans, salt, and sugar in a bain marie until they reach 145 degrees F.  Whip until a stiff, glossy meringue forms, and the bowl is cool to the touch.  Add in the butter slowly, one piece at a time, until all is incorporated (meringue will deflate).  Then add the mascarpone.
Didn’t bring my camera to school.  iPhone suffices.