Posted in cake, daily, dessert, recipe

Italian Cream Cake

It’s my birrrrthday, my buh-buh-buh-birrrrthday!

I know I’m 40 now and everything, but I still can’t help but get a little giddy when September 15th rolls around. Probably has something to do with being an only child and my parents spoiling me (somewhat) rotten as a child, but who likes to speculate?

Yesterday I talked about my birthday game night celebration complete with mini Italian feast, and this cake was the sweetest ending. Normally I bake up a red velvet cake for my birthday because it’s hands down my favorite kind of cake, but I wanted to keep with the “theme” of the evening so I dug up this recipe that I got from an old coworker a few years back. It’s a creamy white cake that’s moist and dense, with the lightest whipped cream frosting.

Absolute heaven. 

Start with your dry ingredients: sift them together in a large bowl and set aside.

Note: for most other cakes you can skip the cake flour and just use all-purpose, but I’d definitely use cake flour here. 

Then onto the “cream” part of the Italian cream cake. Heavy whipping cream. A lot of it. Whip it in a mixer on high until it reaches a stiff peak. Add eggs one at a time and mix until just combined, taking care to not “deflate” the cream too much.

Switch out the the whisk attachment of your mixer for the beater attachment at this point. Add vanilla and almond extracts to the whipped cream mixture, then the dry ingredients, just a scoopful at a time, blending once or twice between each addition. Once all the flour is added to the whipped cream remove the bowl from the mixture and stir until just combined.

Your batter will be very dense.

Scoop batter into prepared cake pans and spread out evenly. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool in pans for 10 to 15 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

At this point you can frost the cakes as they are or you can go all out like me and cut each layer in half, to create four layers. Why I do these things to myself I’ll never understand.

For the frosting, whip the softened mascarpone cheese (really softened, keep it out on the counter for a good hour and a half before you use it) in your mixer with some more heavy cream (Cholesterol! It’s what’s for dessert!) and powdered sugar until everything comes to a stiff peak. Frost the cake as you prefer. (Just an aside: I don’t have pictures of any of the frosting process because…well, let’s just say I had “issues” with it the night I made the cake and had to make a new batch right before my company showed up Friday evening. You don’t even want to know the words that were flying in my kitchen Thursday night, let me tell you.)

I actually made a batch and a half of frosting, to ensure there was enough between the four layers and for piping on the fancy rosettes.

You don’t have to do that, it just makes it pretty. Decorate the cake with slivered almonds, or some fresh fruit, or however you prefer.

Happy Birthday to me. 

Also I’m still totally making a red velvet cake tonight, because it’s a celebration, damn it.

Italian Cream Cake

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease and flour two eight inch round baking pans.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder, set aside. In a large bowl, whip cream to stiff peaks. Add eggs one at a time on low speed until just blended. Add extracts. Gradually add dry ingredients by spoonfuls to the cream mixture until just blended. Divide batter equally between the prepared pans. Gently spread tops to level.

Bake cakes 30-35 minutes until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10-15 minutes in pan and turn out onto a rack to finish cooling. If not frosting immediately, wrap in plastic and store in refrigerator.

Fluffy Mascarpone Cream Frosting

  • 4 oz mascarpone cheese at room temperature for at least 90 minutes
  • 2 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar

In a large bowl on high speed, beat mascarpone cheese, cream, and powdered sugar, scraping the bowl occasionally until stiff peaks form. Ice between layers, sides, and top of cake. Decorate as desired. Store in refrigerator, and remove approximately 30 minutes before serving.

Posted in daily, dessert, recipe

Peach Almond Tart

It’s starting.

There’s Halloween candy in grocery stores. Autumnal decorations in Target. Pumpkin beers on tap at the local pub, for crying out loud. Hell, I even saw some Christmas lights in Big Lots the other week.

Fall (and Winter) is coming.

School has started in some areas, community pools are closing, and if I’m not mistaken, the air has been a little cooler in the mornings.

But right now it’s still summer, at least for another week or two. And there are still peaches to be had. Sweet, tender, juice-dripping-down-your-chin peaches. My absolute favorite summer fruit.

I’ve been wanting to use these tart pans for a while. I love the idea of individual desserts, and peaches are pretty much the perfect fruit for such a vessel. I decided to go with a sweet shortbread-like crust using almond meal instead of the usual pie crust type pastry, just to switch up flavors/textures. I kept the filling very simple, just a little brown sugar and cinnamon, mainly to let the peaches speak for themselves.

Start with the tart crust. You’re going to want to give yourself some time with this, it needs to sit in the fridge a bit.

In the bowl of your mixer, mix butter, almond meal, flour, confectioner’s sugar, egg, vanilla extract, and salt until it comes together. The dough will be very sticky. Turn dough out of bowl onto plastic wrap and allow to rest in refrigerator for at least an hour.

Remove dough from plastic wrap and turn out onto countertop sprinkled with flour (you can use confectioner’s sugar, but be careful, because that’s how you get ants, Lana), and roll out with a rolling pin to approx. 1/4 inch thickness. Use your tart pan to “template” the amount of dough you need per pan – cut around pan and flip/press the dough into it.

(This is the part where I tell you I did not wait at least an hour for my dough to set, it was *incredibly* sticky, and I ended up piecing it into my tart shells because half of it stayed stuck to my counter. Learn from my mistakes.)

Poke dough with a fork all over the bottom of the tart shell, place pans on a rimmed cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 20 minutes, until just lightly browned.

Once shells are baked and have cooled slightly, slice peaches thinly into a bowl (you can peel them if you want, I didn’t. I like the color/texture), sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon, and stir. Place peach slices in tart shells and return tarts to the oven for another 15-20 minutes. I was experimenting and squeezed a little bit of honey over the peaches before I put the tarts back in the oven, but as far as I can tell it didn’t really add anything to the tarts.

Remove tarts from pans and serve while still warm.

Preferably with some ice cream.

Peach Almond Tart 

Recipe makes four 4 inch round tarts.

For the crust (adaptation of this version):

  • 1 cup almond meal (almond flour)
  • 1 cup all-puropose flour
  • 6 TB softened butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • pinch salt

Combine all ingredients in bowl and mix together until combined. Turn dough out onto plastic wrap, cover, and allow to rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Remove from plastic and roll out on counter sprinkled with flour until about 1/4 inch thickness. Using the tart pan as a template, cut dough around pan and turn over, pressing dough into pan and along the edges to remove excess dough. Poke holes into bottom of dough with a fork. Repeat with remaining tart pans and dough. Place pans on a rimmed cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 20 minutes, until tart shell is slightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

For the filling:

  • 4 peaches
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Slice peaches thinly into a bowl. Add brown sugar and cinnamon and combine. Place peaches in tart shells. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, until bubbly. Remove tarts from shells. Serve while still warm.

Enjoy your last gasp of summer, guys. I plan to!

 

Posted in dessert, eat something cute, recipe

Pumpkin Pecan Whoopie Pies

About two weeks ago, one of my coworkers was having a pretty crappy day at the office. I knew I would be seeing her later in the week, so I decided I would make her a treat to help cheer her up. Because who doesn’t love a whoopie pie?

I never pass up the opportunity to brighten someone’s day with something delicious.

The whoopie recipe is Martha’s (with an adjustment or two), but the filling is all mine. Some flavors I love in the fall (besides pumpkin) are maple and bourbon, and I almost always incorporate the two in any of my autumn treats. A little monotonous perhaps, but mama loves her bourbon.

Maple-Bourbon Buttercream. So good it’s a proper noun. I’ve made buttercream frosting so many times that I could do it in my sleep, so I the recipe that follows below *might* not be exact, but it’s  close enough that some simple adjustments (a little extra sugar here, a touch more bourbon there) will get you where you need to be.

I added pecans to the cake for a little texture. I should have either added more or omitted them altogether, but Pumpkin Pecan Whoopie Pies has so much more panache than just Plain Ass Pumpkin.

Oh, alliteration. You make my soul sing.

I used a mini ice cream scoop (2 oz) to scoop the batter for the cakes. This made an incredible amount of mini whoopies – almost three dozen.

No worries, none of them went to waste. I should have flattened them out a bit before baking with a spatula or something. These were a bit…rustic.

Yeah, rustic. That’s what I’ll call them. Also, moist, tender, pumpkin-y bundles of deliciousness. The perfect cure for a bad day, or the perfect ending for a good one.

Pumpkin Pecan Whoopie Pies with Maple Bourbon Buttercream 

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 TB ground cinnamon
  • 1 TB ground cloves
  • 2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 cups pumpkin puree
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup pecans, chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices and set aside. Whisk together oil, sugar, eggs, pumpkin, and vanilla. Incorporate wet ingredients into dry and stir to combine. Add pecans (if desired). Scoop batter onto lined cookie sheets and bake approximately 12-15 minutes (touch center of cookie, if it springs back it’s done). Allow to cool while making frosting.

Maple Bourbon Buttercream Frosting

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 3-4 cups confectioner’s sugar (watch your consistency & volume)
  • 2 tsp maple flavoring
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (4 TB) bourbon (or to taste, it will mellow out overnight)
  • 3-4 TB  cream (or milk)

Beat butter in a stand  mixer until creamy. Add sugar 1/2 cup at a time, incorporating fully after each addition. Add vanilla extract, maple flavoring, and bourbon & mix to combine. Add cream a little at a time, stopping when frosting is desired consistency.

Spoon frosting into a piping bag with a large plain tip (or use a spatula) and frost half of the cookies with approx 1-2 tablespoons of frosting. Top with the remaining cookies. Refrigerate for 30 minutes (to allow to set) and serve. The whoopies keep nicely in the fridge for three days, but they won’t last that long.

pumpkinwhoopTrust me.