If you are what you eat, then I am a giant walking talking pumpkin biscotti. I’ve made (and eaten) so many of these in the last couple of weeks that I’m afraid I’m going to start turning orange. I guess eating mass amounts of biscotti is just part of the job, but it’s ok, I’m always happy to take one for the team.
My favorite traditional biscotti recipe uses eggs in the batter, but no oil or butter. It’s perfectly crunchy and you don’t have to chip a tooth to enjoy it. However, since my grandmother was in town and doesn’t eat eggs, I wanted to make an eggless version that I could share with her. Pumpkin makes a great egg substitute, but adds a lot of moisture, so my first couple of batches of biscotti ended up soggy. For the next batch, I tried baking them a little longer. They probably would have been ok after soaking them in coffee but on their own, they were too hard. For the last batch, I added some oil, which I’m normally not a fan of in traditional biscotti. They kept these biscotti from drying out and boosted the flavor, and my teeth were still in tact after biting into them.
Note the low baking temperature here. I found that after several of my biscotti logs split during the first bake, lowering the temperature from 350 to 300 was the best remedy for this. This recipe can easily be made vegan by omitting the white chocolate drizzle or replacing it with a bittersweet chocolate drizzle.
I’ve always had mixed feelings about Halloween. Sure, there’s candy (I can be bribed with candy most of the time) and fun costumes, but there’s also the blood and guts and gore aspect of it that I hate. I will never ever understand why people like to go to haunted houses or watch movies that will make you sleep with the lights on for weeks. One thing I do understand though, is cake, and like every other holiday, I just turn it into an excuse to make another one. Plus, making googly eyes out of royal icing is way more fun than doing dishes.
My goal was to make a cake that was light and fun but still in the spirit of Halloween. The fact that the ganache looks like dried blood was totally an accident, since I intended for it to be a bright purple drip. Cakes never quite turn out the way I picture them in my head, but I thought this one turned out pretty darn cute anyway.
The cake itself is a 3 layer 5-inch deep dark chocolate cake made with black onyx cocoa powder. Black onyx cocoa is a super alkalized cocoa powder that is very dark (the kind that they use to make Oreo cookies). Used by itself, it can really dry out baked goods (I learned that the hard way). I took a tip from SugarHero and used it to replace half of the regular Dutch process cocoa. The result was a cake that was naturally black in color and kept it’s moisture. I get my black cocoa online, but if you don’t want to bother, you can use regular Dutch process or even add some black food coloring to your cake.
For the drippy glaze, I used candy melts since I already had some purple ones on hand. If you use them, go easy on the cream at first. I tried to use the same ratio of cream to chocolate as I would with a ganache, but candy melts melt more easily than regular chocolate (hence the term candy melts), so start my mixing in a little bit at a time. I just dumped it all in, which is why my drip turned out runnier than I expected.
I couldn’t find candy eyeballs that were small enough to fit on the mini marshmallows, so I made royal icing, put it into a piping bag, and piped it directly onto the marshmallows. You could also used pre packaged cookie icing. Once it dried, I used an edible pen to draw in the eyeballs.
If you want to make a shorter cake, you can use the same recipe to make a 3 layer 6-inch cake. You’ll need reduce the baking time by about 5 minutes.
Last week, I found myself wandering around the grocery store and lamenting the price of berries. There were so many berry desserts on my list that didn’t get made over the summer, but when I saw the array of apples in the corner, I got distracted from my sadness. I remembered these apple cupcakes that I made last year, which made my list of favorites for 2014, and I had been wanting to make a layer cake version of it ever since.
This time, I replaced the goat cheese frosting (but isn’t that the best part?) with a brown sugar and maple cream cheese swiss meringue buttercream. As much as I adore goat cheese frosting, cream cheese SMB has a special place in my heart. Especially when it’s made with brown sugar, and even more so when you add maple syrup. In fact, after making this version of cream cheese frosting, it’s really hard for me to go back to the overly sweet powdered sugar variety that is so often paired with red velvet or carrot cake. The apples make the cake pretty sweet in itself, so I thought this frosting made for a better balance.
Cream cheese SMB is more time consuming to make than your traditional cream cheese frosting, but so worth it. In the past when I’ve made cream cheese swiss buttercream, I subbed cream cheese for half of the butter and ended up with a soupy, gloopy curdled mess that would not come together no matter how much I whipped it. After reading this post, I figured out why. Here are a few tips and tricks to get smooth and luxurious cream cheese SMB.
1. Finish your SMB like you normally would with only the butter added.
2. Whip the cream cheese separately until it is smooth.
3. Add the finished SMB to the cream cheese (not the other way around) a little bit at a time until it comes together.
Follow these steps and you’ll have a light, fluffy, and not to sweet cream cheese frosting. And because it’s softer than traditional SMB, it tastes great straight out of the fridge. Yay for instant gratification!
A couple of weeks ago, we went to Las Vegas for Aaron’s birthday. I won’t say which birthday, but it was a big one. Something to do with hills and all that. I wanted to bake him a birthday cake before we left, but he had already had a day of indulgence with his coworkers followed by a pizza dinner with me, and we were about to leave for a gluttonous weekend, so I didn’t know when we were going to squeeze in the time or belly space for a cake. That’s when I decided to whip up the teeniest tiniest cake ever. It was just big enough to satisfy our sweet tooth before we headed off on our trip.
I made the entire batter for the cake in a measuring cup, and both the cake and the frosting without a mixer. I baked this is my trusty little 4-inch cake pan, which I have gotten way more use of out of than I ever expected when I bought it. I used cake strips to prevent the cake from doming up, since I didn’t want to lose any of this already tiny cake.
I’ve always used an electric mixer or my Kitchen-Aid to make buttercream, but since this was such a small amount of frosting, I used the wooden spoon method. It takes a little bit longer without a mixer, but there’s less clean up involved. I recommend taking your butter out and cutting it into pieces before you even start making the cake. That way it will already be softened by the time the cake has cooled and you won’t have to wait to make the frosting.
This cake can easily made vegan. I’ve made it several times and just used whatever milk I have on hand- whole, 2 percent, soy, almond, etc. The butter in the frosting can be replaced with vegan butter, shortening, or a combo of the two. I used a chocolate frosting on this cake, but I’ve listed several flavor variations below.
For Vanilla Frosting- omit the cocoa powder
For Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting- add 1/2 tablespoon of peanut butter
For Chocolate Almond Frosting- add 1/4 teaspoon of pure almond extract
For Mint Chocolate Frosting- add a drop or two of mint extract
For Mocha Frosting- add 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 teaspoon of water and omit the milk
Confession: I’ve never made cheesecake that actually has any cheese in it. Does this mean I have to call it “cheezecake?”
My fear of water baths is about as intense as my fear of pie crust, so I’m glad that this raw vegan cheesecake is one of the simplest desserts I’ve ever made. No rolling, no baking, no water baths. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I’ve been obsessed with raw pies an cheesecakes ever since my trip to Portland last summer, where I had the best pies and cheesecakes ever. They were raw, vegan, gluten free, and didn’t leave me feeling like I had lead in my stomach the rest of the day. I’ve spent many many hours trying to recreate them.
I’m not going to call it healthy, since nuts and coconut oil are full of fat. Let’s just say it’s easier to digest than regular cheesecake and fairly allergy friendly. I shared this dessert with a friend who is allergic to pretty much everything except tree nuts. The cashews in this are necessary though, since they give it the cheese-cakey texture, so substitutions won’t work. Even so, I feel like it’s a good option to bring to a dinner party where you have to navigate a lot of dietary restrictions. So turn off your oven, grab your blender, and let’s make some chees(z)ecake!
Behold, I made a cake! It’s been a while folks, and I’ve missed it. I took a break. A much needed break from all things blog and internet and social media. I stopped checking my instagram likes every five minutes. I did waaay less dishes. I cooked more savory food. I baked stuff that I actually wanted to eat! And most importantly, I stopped comparing myself to other bloggers and their beautiful photos and perfect lives. Comparing yourself is never a good thing in any aspect of your your life. It can make you feel really discouraged and kill your motivation, which is exactly what happened. But, I missed baking and I missed blogging and I’m going to try really hard to keep doing it without it taking over my life and my mental health.
So let’s talk about cake. This tiny tall cake that re-inspired me to blog after a long hiatus, and was based entirely on my own cravings. It’s chocolaty and crunchy and full of raspberries, and it’s made in 5-inch cake pans. I know what you’re thinking, who has 5-inch cake pans and why don’t you just post recipes for normal sized cakes? Here’s my logic- there are a gazillion recipes on the internet for normal sized cakes. There must be some weirdos out there who love their 5-inch cake pans as much as I do, and are looking for ways to use them. But just in case I’m the lone weirdo, I’ve listed some options for alternate pan sizes below.
This cake is a recipe that I’ve been dying to try from the Baked Elements cookbook. It’s made with mayo rather than butter or oil, and I can’t say that I’ve ever had a bad experience with chocolate mayo cake. The frosting is made with milk chocolate, because I’ve recently discovered that I really love the stuff. I think milk chocolate gets a bad rap because a lot of people associate it with some of the lower quality stuff that you find in the impulse section of the grocery store, but high end milk chocolate is not something to turn your nose up at. My favorite brand of milk chocolate is Scharffen Berger, but it’s on the pricy side and somewhat hard to find. For frostings, I usually use Guittard milk chocolate chips. It’s still a big step up from most and melts really well.
You can bake this cake in two 6-inch cake pans, and it also makes 12 cupcakes. The baking times for these will vary.
Happy National Donut Day! Does this mean we can eat all the donuts we want and calories don’t count today? If so, you should make three of these cakes. Actually, I didn’t even know Donut Day was a thing until I saw donuts popping up all over Instagram yesterday. I made this cake a couple of months ago for a silent auction, but hadn’t gotten around to posting it out of sheer laziness, so the stars aligned and it’s coming to you on National Donut Day!
The cake itself is a super simple chocolate cake recipe that I got from here. I doubled the recipe to get a 3 layer 6-inch cake plus about 16 mini donuts (or really, donut shaped cakes). Although this cake recipe is vegan, I used cow’s milk since the frosting is not vegan. Speaking of frosting, coffee swiss meringue buttercream is quite possibly the most heavenly creation on earth. I used 2 shots of espresso from my favorite local coffee shop in the frosting, but you could also use 2 tablespoons of instant espresso powder dissolved in 2 tablespoons of water, or 2 tablespoons of coffee extract (I like Nielsen Massey brand).
The frosting recipe makes a lot, so before you tell me that this recipe makes too much frosting, here’s why (also, please stop complaining about an overabundance of frosting). I wanted to crumb coat the cake and have enough frosting to get a really smooth finish since I knew that people would be bidding on this cake. The leftovers freeze really well (or taste good spooned directly into your mouth). Plus, it’s always nice to have some extra Swiss Buttercream in your freezer.
If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you know that I use pasteurized liquid egg whites 99 percent of the time when I make SMB. I’ve tried it with both fresh and liquid egg whites, and while the liquid egg whites whip up slightly fluffier, I don’t find that it makes a difference in the finished product. Plus, you don’t need to heat liquid egg whites past 120 degrees, which makes the whole process go faster. So unless I know I have to make a very large batch of pudding in the near future, liquid egg whites it is. And don’t forget to wipe down all your tools with vinegar before you start. Any traces of grease will prevent your meringue from whipping up properly.
As for the butter, the ideal temperature should but soft, but it should still retain it’s shape. If the butter starts to get greasy or mushy, you may have a harder time getting your SMB to come together. In case your butter is too soft (or your egg whites are too warm), just stick the whole bowl of frosting in the refrigerator and try beating it again.
For the cake, double the recipe here. This makes a 3 layer 6-inch cake plus about 16-20 mini donuts. You’ll need a mini donut pan like this one. Make the glaze in the recipe below. Dip one side of the donuts into the glaze, and then cover with sprinkles. Let the glaze dry while you frost the cake.
Australia! I went there and now I want to move there. I drank flat whites like it was my job, ate my weight in Tim Tams, and finally got my hands on some of those pretty sprinkles I’ve been eyeballing on Aussie food blogs. Rather than gushing about my love for Australia and using the word “amazing” more times than the Bachelor, I’ll let the photos do most of the talking. Most of these are from a food photography workshop I attended in Sydney with Luisa Brimble and Sneh Roy. If you make it all the way to the end, I may even have a recipe for you.
I did not have a bad cup of coffee while I was here. I had better coffee at the airport here than I do at most gourmet coffee shops in the US.
Here are some of the workshop pics. Sneh welcomed us with all the tea and coffee we could drink, and of course, cake!
She has the most amazing collection of props I have ever seen.
Luisa discusses how she captures hands in photography…
…and shows us how she gets her stunning tablescape shots.
This delicious lunch was cooked by Sneh, along with the beautiful carrot cake.
Yay, you’re still here! Ok, here’s the recipe that wasn’t enough of a recipe to warrant a separate post. Lemon Lime Bitters is as authentically Australian as Vegemite, but tastes way better. I drank these things like they were going out of style.
An glass full of ice.
5-6 dashes of Angostura Bitters
An ounce of limeade or sweetened lime juice (homemade or store-bought)
Lemon-lime soda (I used Zevia to cut back on the sugar)
Stir everything together and enjoy!
If this blog accurately reflected the amount of biscotti that has come out of my kitchen in the last couple of months, I would have to seriously consider changing my blog name to The Biscotti Merchant. A couple of months ago, I made this Vegan Almond Biscotti and have been obsessed with finding a chocolate version that I like just as much. I found a ton of different recipes to try. Some used eggs, others just the whites. Some used oil, some used butter, some used both and others used none. I wasn’t sure how these ingredients affected the final texture, so like an obsessive baking weirdo, I just tested them all. I’m not even kidding, but I’ve literally made about 20 batches of biscotti in the last few months.
The good news is, I found a favorite! By far, the winner was David Lebovitz’s Chocolate Biscotti. It calls for whole eggs but no butter or oil. It’s crunchy enough to be distinguishable as biscotti and not just a biscotti shaped cookie, but it’s not so hard that it will break your teeth. The best part is that these biscotti get better with age. I actually liked them better on day 3 than when they were freshly baked.
I decided to veganize David Lebovitz’s original recipe by replacing the egg with a chia egg, although you can use a regular egg in this if you prefer (you’ll just need to omit the water). I also replaced some of the flour with leftover hazelnut meal from making hazelnut milk, but you could also use almond or pecan meal in its place. This recipe makes a small batch of biscotti, but can easily be doubled.
Oh, and I don’t want to sound like Ina or anything, but use good cocoa powder, The majority of the flavor in these biscotti comes from the cocoa powder. My absolute favorite brand is Valrhona which I’ll splurge on once in a while, but I usually use Cacao Barry, which is a little more reasonable and also excellent quality.