Tea for Two: Pistachio Orange Mini Cakes with Grand Marnier Cream Cheese Frosting

Pistachio Orange Tea Cakes

It’s no secret that I love mini cakes, or all things miniature for that matter. If you don’t share in these sentiments, you may want to cover your eyes because it’s about to get obnoxiously mini up in here.

In college, my friends use to tease me about all of my mini kitchen things when they would come over. I would hear things like, “Why are your spoons so tiny?” or “When we go to Natasha’s house, we have to use miniature bowls.” In my head I’m thinking, duh, you have to use small spoons to eat out of small bowls, but I guess not everyone thinks like me.

Fast forward about 10 years or so to a few days after my wedding. I’m out shopping with my family who is visiting from India and we’re smack in the middle of tea time with no homemade chai in sight, so my aunt asks me to run into the coffee shop nearby and get her a cup of coffee. “I only want this much,” she says, showing me with her thumb and forefinger what would be a cup about this size. A few other family member chimed in saying they wanted the same. Perhaps they didn’t realize that they had traveled to supersized land, and the smallest cup at Starbucks was the size of their head. In the end, three people shared a tall latte still and couldn’t finish it. This leads me to believe that my affinity for miniatureness must be a cultural thing. Or a family thing. And now that I think about it, all of my small bowls and silverware were hand me downs from my mom anyway, so it must be my genes. See, I just can’t help but make mini cakes.

Pistachio Orange Tea CakesPistachio Orange Tea Cakes

These mini cakes go perfectly with a cup of afternoon tea. I’ve gotten out of the habit of observing tea time, but having my family visit recently made me want to start doing it again, even when it’s just me and Aaron in Dallas. I loved the fact that no matter what kind of chaos was going on during the hustle and bustle of the wedding, once a day, everything stopped for a little while so we could sit down and have tea. Mini cakes were not usually served (that would be my own personal touch), but since I’ve been missing my family a lot lately, I observed tea time with these mini cakes eaten off of mini plates with my mini cup of tea just for them. And also for my belly :)

Like most of the mini cake recipes on this site, this makes a small batch of two cakes that were baked in tin cans. Tin cans make the best little cake pans (I used 15 oz. cans). Just make sure they are BPA free and that you clean them thoroughly before you use them. This version of mini cakes are made with ground pitachios in the batter. I had originally planned to make lemon pistachio cakes, but made a last minute change and added some orange zest instead (mostly because I was out of lemons). I ended up really liking the orange/pistachio combo, and also added a tablespoon of Grand Marnier to the frosting because I just so happened to have a mini bottle (I didn’t even plan it) on hand.

Just in case I haven’t convinced you that mini cakes are the best yet, here are a few more reasons:

1. They have a better frosting to cake ratio than cupcakes
2. No wastage (cake wastage is the worst)
3. You can have a whole cake to yourself. Seriously, when’s the last time you can say you ate a whole cake?
4. Less calories (than a large cake). Obviously this does not have less calories than kale.
5. You can pretend like you’re a giant and eat an entire slice in one bite.

Pistachio Orange Tea Cakes

I didn’t add a lot of sugar to the cream cheese frosting since I wanted the cake to be less sweet, but it did make the frosting a little runny. You can add more sugar if you like, or stick the frosting in the fridge for about 15 minutes like I did.

Tea for Two: Pistachio Orange Mini Cakes with Grand Marnier Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: 2 mini layer cakes

Ingredients

    For the Pistachio Orange Cakes:
  • 1/4 cup (40 grams) unsalted shelled pistachios (not dyed red)
  • 1/3 (42 grams) cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons (42 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (67 grams) sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • For the Grand Marnier Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 3 ounces (85 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 5 tablespoons (70 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (115 grams) confectioner's sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
  • Finely chopped pistachios for topping

Instructions

    For the Pistachio Orange Cakes:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
  2. Grease and line 2 15 oz. tin cans with parchment paper (or use baking spray) and place the cans on a baking sheet.
  3. In a food processor, pulse the shelled pistachios until you reach a powdered consistency. Don't pulse for too long, or you will end up with paste.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt to the food processor and pulse for a few times to combine.
  5. With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes until light and creamy.
  6. Add the egg and beat to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl when necessary.
  7. Add the milk, vanilla extract, and orange zest and beat to combine.
  8. Add the flour/pistachio mixture and stir or beat on low until just combined.
  9. Divide the batter between the 2 cans and place the entire baking sheet with the cans in the oven (this will make it easier to get in and out of the oven).
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes (mine took right around 23) until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.
  11. Let the cakes cool on wire racks for about 15 minutes.
  12. Run a knife around the edge of the cakes and invert on to the wire racks to cool completely.
  13. For the Grand Marnier Cream Cheese Frosting:
  14. With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed for 1-2 minutes until thoroughly combined.
  15. Add the confectioner's sugar and beat on low until just combined.
  16. Turn the mixer up to medium and beat for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  17. Add the vanilla extract and Grand Marnier and beat to combine.
  18. If the frosting is running, put it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes. If you like it sweeter, you can also add more powdered sugar to thicken it.
  19. To Assemble the Cake:
  20. Slice the layer cakes in half horizontally and place them on a 3 1/2 inch cake board (or directly on a plate if you don't have a small cake board).
  21. Spread a layer of frosting in between each layer.
  22. Place a dollop of frosting on the top of the cake, and spread evenly across the top of the cake. Work your way around the sides until the entire cake is covered with a thin layer of frosting. Let the crumb coat set in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  23. Once the crumb coat has set, spread a thicker layer of frosting on the top and sides of the crumb coat to create a smooth finish.
  24. Sprinkle the tops of the cakes with chopped pistachios.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by ZipList Recipe Plugin
http://cakemerchant.com/2014/09/21/pistachio-orange-tea-cakes-grand-marnier-cream-cheese-frosting/

Cake recipe adapted from Epicurious

Dark Chocolate Almond Cookies

Dark chocolate almond cookies

I’ll admit that when I want a cookie, I don’t stray very often from the traditional chocolate chip variety. I have my go to recipe from Demolition Desserts that’s slightly crisp on the outside with perfectly chewy innards, and the only time I’ll mess with it when I’m feeling a little nutty in which case I’ll brown the butter. On occasion, I will try another recipe if it’s really intriguing, but the only time I’ll share it with you is if it’s exceptionally delicious. These cookies are exceptionally delicious.

These started out as Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies from the Flour Bakery Cookbook, and after several transformations, became Dark Chocolate Almond Cookies. There’s almond meal in the batter, yo! Also, I couldn’t decide between chopped bittersweet chocolate that gets all melty and gooey in the cookies or chocolate chips that hold their shape, so I threw in a combination of both.

Dark chocolate almond cookiesDark chocolate Almond CookiesDark chocolate almond cookies

Some cookie dough needs minimal chill time in the fridge (or none at all) and some need a good overnight rest. I can tell you that these fall into the latter category. Since I’m somewhat impatient when it comes to desserts, I “tested” a few cookies early and the texture just wasn’t as good as those that got some shut eye. I would also recommend not making these cookies too large. I used a large cookie scoop for the first batch and ended up with burnt edges and an underdone center, so I ended up going with the small cookie scoop for the second batch and was pleased with the results.

Dark Chocolate Almond Cookies

Yield: about 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks, 170 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (140 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup (150 grams) dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups (175 grams) toasted almonds
  • 1 1/2 (210 grams) cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 6 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. With an electric mixer, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar for 1-2 minutes until smooth.
  3. Add the vanilla and eggs and beat for an additional minute until combined.
  4. In a food processor, pulse 1/2 cup of the toasted almonds until you reach a fine powder (if you pulse it too long it will become oily).
  5. Coarsely chop the remaining 3/4 cup of almonds.
  6. Combine the ground almonds, chopped almonds, flour, baking soda, salt, chopped chocolate, and chocolate chips in a bowl.
  7. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until just combined (do not over mix).
  8. Use a small cookie scoop to scoop the dough onto the cookie sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart.
  9. Bake for 9-10 minutes until the edges are golden brown.
  10. Cool completely on wire racks.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by ZipList Recipe Plugin
http://cakemerchant.com/2014/09/11/dark-chocolate-almond-cookies/

Recipe adapted The Flour Bakery Cookbook

Chocolate Peanut Butter Sorbet

Chocolate Peanut Butter Sorbet

I keep seeing things all over the interwebs about the end of summer. Um…I’m not buying it. This happens to me pretty much every year. People are busting out the pumpkin and I’m still sweating it out here is Dallas. This year, we’ve really been sweating it out because our AC has been intermittent at best for the past week. In fact, I had a giant food fail last week while attempting to make scones in my non-airconditioned kitchen. The dough was literally melting as I rolled it out, so I figured ice cream was a better option, at least while it was 100 degrees in my house.

I’ve been experimenting with non-dairy chocolate ice creams all summer long, but none have been good enough to share. The coconut milk versions had strong coconut overtones, and while I’m a fan of coconut, I wanted it to taste like chocolate. Other non-dairy milks gave the ice cream a weird icy texture, so you can imagine my surprise when I came across a decadent looking chocolate sorbet.

Chocolate Peanut Butter SorbetChocolate Peanut Butter SorbetChocolate Peanut Butter Sorbet

I’m always skeptical of water based “ice cream,” but this stuff was so good, I made it twice in one week. It was so creamy, my friends didm;t believe it was sorbet. The first time, I made David Lebovitz’s original recipe. The second time, I replaced some of the chocolate with creamy peanut butter and liked it even better. The peanut butter version is what I’m sharing with you today, but if you’re not a fan, you can replace the peanut butter with an extra ounce of chocolate.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Sorbet

Yield: 1 1/2 pints

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups water, divided
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (75 g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder (I used Valrhona)
  • Pinch of salt (if your peanut butter is unsalted)
  • 3 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan, whisk together the 1 cup of water, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt over medium heat until the mixture begins to boil.
  2. Continue to let the mixture boil for about 45 seconds, whisking constantly.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and mix in the chocolate and stir until it has melted.
  4. Whisk in the peanut butter until smooth.
  5. Add the vanilla and the remaining 1/2 cup of water and mix until smooth.
  6. Transfer the mixture into a blender and blend for about 15 seconds.
  7. Pour the mixture into a heat proof bowl and let it chill thoroughly in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
  8. Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the unit's instructions.
  9. Transfer the ice cream into a container and let harden in the freezer for at least one hour before serving.
  10. If the ice cream is too hard to scoop, let it thaw for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by ZipList Recipe Plugin
http://cakemerchant.com/2014/09/03/chocolate-peanut-butter-sorbet/

Recipe adapted from The Perfect Scoop