Cake, Food

Spice Cake with Vanilla Orange filling and Whipped Marscapone frosting

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My dear friend from grad school defended her PhD last week.  Such a landmark occasion requires cake, not that one needs an excuse for cake.  I took some shortcuts, and made some things from scratch.  I even spent some time thinking about the decoration; I found that if you have it drawn out it makes cake decorating easier.  I hope you put this cake together for the next special occasion in your life.

Ingredients:

Boxed Cake mix: prepare per direction on the box–I believe in high quality store bought short cuts, and boxed cake mix is a go to.

Filling: I used my Orange, Cinnamon and Vanilla Bean pudding. I used the entire recipe, to fill the cake.  You can find the recipe here.

Frosting: I used my whipped marscapone frosting recipe.  The recipe will make a lot of frosting.  I only used a 1/3 of it to frost the cake.  I froze down the rest.  If you were to fill and frost the cake, you might use the whole batch.  Check out the recipe here.

Method:

Bake the cake according to package directions.  I baked it in two 9″inch cake pans that I oiled and floured.  Once baked, cool the cake completely and level off the domed top.  I use my handy Wilton Cake Leveler.

Now begins the decorating.  For this cake, I used cake rounds for the first time and it certainly made cleaning and frosting the cake easy.  Not to mention, moving the cake around (from the turntable to the fridge).  But before we frost, we must fill.  I used all of the pudding mixture to fill the cake.

Now, the hardest part-covering the cake with frosting.  This requires patience, a good turntable, an offset spatula and a steady hand.  I like clean neat edges, so I get very particular about this stage.  Of course, that is my preference.  Using a butter knife to spread the frosting is perfectly fine–it will taste the same.

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I usually do a “crumb coat”.  This is a thin layer of frosting that covers all the bumps and glues together the crumbs.  I allow this chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes and then I go in with the rest of the frosting and attempt to make smooth and as clean and neat as possible.

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I drew out the design for the cake and you can check it out here.  I also used candied oranges for this cake and I have the recipe for those here.  I will have to say, laying out the design before hand made a world of difference.  It was faster, cleaner and the end product looked more deliberate.  Moving forward, this might become my way of decorating–I like to call it the “paper to plate” method.

So here it is !

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Dessert, Food

Orange, Cinnamon & Vanilla Bean Pudding

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This is a flavorful way to jazz up boxed pudding mix.  The finished product can be enjoyed on its own or used to fill cakes, top fruit or layer in a trifle.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 box of Godiva white chocolate vanilla bean pudding mix (good stuff, yum !)
  • peel of 1 orange
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • candied oranges or other dried fruit and nuts for garnish.

Method:

  • Add peel of 1 orange, 2 cinnamon sticks to 2 cups of milk and gently simmer for 15-20 mins.

 

  • Cool the flavored milk completely.
  • Strain the milk to remove peel and sticks.

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  • Mix in the pudding mixture, whisking vigorously to avoid lumps.

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  • Once the pudding starts to thicken, stir in orange zest and ground cinnamon (Use a spoon/spatula for this step–the zest will wrap into the wires of the whisk).

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  • Serve chilled with candied oranges and golden raisins.  Nuts would taste really good too.

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Classics, Cupcakes, Italian

Chocolate Cannoli Cupcakes

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This summer, I have been on a Cannoli kick.  I guess it started with the Cannolis we had for our rehearsal dinner.

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Then we were out in Boston getting some more at Cafe Vitorria.  As a result, whenever I wanted make something, the “Cannoli” flavor kept coming up.  So here is a super easy recipe for Cannoli cupcakes.  I also used the ingredients to build a my Chocolate Orange Charlotte.

Ingredients:

Store bought chocolate cake mix

1 15oz container of Ricotta Cheese ( I used part-skim, feel free to use full fat)

4 tbsp of vanilla frosting (I used this, because it was lying around in the pantry)  OR 4tbsp  powdered sugar.  Sweeten to your liking.

1 tsp of almond extract

2tsps of ground cinnamon

mini chocolate chips and pistachios (unsalted-shelled) for garnish

Method:

Make batter and bake cupcakes as per package directions.  I baked 6 cupcakes and used the rest of the batter to make 2 9″ round cakes for my Chocolate Orange Charlotte.

Allow the cupcakes to cool completely

In the meantime, mix the entire container of ricotta cheese with 4tbsp of frosting (or 4tbsp of powdered sugar) with almond extract and cinnamon

Fill into a piping bag attached to a star-tip (this is what I did; frost as you like) and pipe onto your cupcakes. You will not use the entire frosting for 6 cupcakes, I saved it for my cake recipe.  You will probably use the whole thing if you are making 12 cupcakes.  This frosting will make a great Cannoli Dip with graham crackers or you could use it for my other favorite recipe “Cannoli Cups

Sprinkle with mini-chocolate chips and pistachios (other toppings could be orange peels, almonds or nothing at all)

Serve and watch your friends devour !

 

Cookies, Treats

Mexican Hot-Chocolate cookies

Happy Cinco de Mayo !!!!! A classmate from grad school is throwing a party at his house tonight and I thought I would bring these over.  Cookies are easy, portable and always a hit at cookouts–I thought, when is doubt, bring cookies ! Thank you Martha Stewart for the recipe.  I actually halved it and the dough still made 48 cookies !  Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoons cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

2/3 cups sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoons cinnamon

A dash of cayenne pepper (Martha used chili powder)

Extra sugar and cinnamon to roll the cookies in.

Method:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, cream of tartar, baking soda, cinnamon and cayenne and salt.

 

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar till creamy and fluffy.

Add eggs and beat to combine.

With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat until combined.

In a small bowl, combine some sugar and cinnamon.

Form ½” balls of dough and roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Place, about 3 inches apart, on two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until cookies are set in center and begin to crack, about 10 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.

Let cookies cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to racks to cool completely.

 

Store in an airtight container, up to 1 week.