Tag Archives: dessert

Vanilla Bean Cake with Vanilla Bean Meringue Buttercream Frosting

Screen shot 2014-01-02 at 3.31.27 PM My mom loves vanilla cake so I decided to make her a special vanilla bean cake for her birthday.  This cake will turn chocolate cake lovers into vanilla cake lovers.  It is extremely light and bursting with vanilla flavor.  It is very refreshing!

Ingredients:

Cake

  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  •  ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons of vanilla bean paste (5 vanilla beans)

Frosting

  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • 4 sticks of butter
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • Vanilla bean paste from 2 vanilla beans

Directions:

Cake

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Prepare 2 or 3 9 inch round cake pans with non-stick spray.  I did two so I could freeze the batter and use it later!
  3. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs one at a time.
  5. Mix on medium for about 10 minutes for until very fluffy.
  6. In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  7. Alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk into the egg mixture.  Mixing on low.
  8. Take out the paste from the vanilla beans and add it to the batter.
  9. Add the vanilla extract.
  10. Mix on medium until all is incorporated.
  11.  Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
  12.  Let cool before frosting.

Frosting:

  1. Combine sugar and egg whites with a mixer.
  2. Put egg mixture into a pot and put on medium high heat.
  3. Whisk mixture for about 5 minutes until sugar has dissolved.
  4. Then bring back to stand mixer after the midrange has cooled.
  5. Mix for about 10 minutes until light and fluffy.
  6. Add butter one tablespoon at a time.
  7. Add vanilla and vanilla bean past.
  8. Frost cake and garnish with fresh raspberries.

This cake is extremely light and special.

Enjoy!

Lizzie

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Baklava

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If you’ve ever had a bad experience with baklava and aren’t disposed to try this recipe, I hope you think again: I’ve always tried baklava at restaurants and have been seriously disappointed, but this recipe is simply addictive. I prefer my baklava without pistachios or honey, and I find that it is best served cold, rather than warm, because the sugar syrup tastes better. You can make this ahead and store at room temperature for days — it’ll keep a while, and only tastes better with a few days to let the sugars sink in.

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Baklava is also incredibly simple to make — it does require some patience, but it’s not a complex process. The key is to use a lot of butter between every single layer of phyllo — otherwise the pastry will flake apart after it’s been baked. (Plus, everything tastes better with butter.) To work with the phyllo, I recommend thawing it in the fridge for a good 4-8 hours before you begin baking. If it’s too frozen, it will flake, and if it’s too thawed it will be sticky and the layers impossible to separate. If it does flake apart (this happened to me when I made this batch of baklava), don’t worry — just try and fill the pan as best you can by piecing layers together.

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Finally, I recommend using a pyrex glass casserole dish for baklava (as pictured). Your baklava will bake perfectly and it’s just the right size for the phyllo sheets.

Here’s the recipe (adapted from here):

Ingredients

For the syrup:

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons rose water (you can also substitute orange blossom water)

For the pastry:

  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons rose water (or orange blossom water)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 16-ounce package frozen phyllo pastry, thawed

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Directions

  1. To make sugar syrup, boil together sugar and water for about 2 minutes over high heat, being careful it does not burn or boil over. Just before removing from heat, stir in the rose water. Let cool slightly, then refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. To make the pastry, first clarify the butter. Melt in a pan over gentle heat. Spoon off the milky froth that rises to the top and the solid residue that settles to the bottom. One pound of butter should yield about 1 1/2 cups clarified butter. You can pour the butter into a mug for ease of use later on.
  3. Place walnuts and rose water in bowl of food processor and process in spurts until walnuts are minced. (The rose water helps keep walnuts from getting oily.) Add sugar and process briefly to mix well.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Spread a sheet of plastic wrap or aluminum foil on a work surface. Open phyllo pastry and spread on the surface.
  6. Using the clarified butter and a pastry brush or clean paintbrush, butter a 10- by 14-inch baking pan liberally, bottom and sides. Place one sheet of phyllo pastry in bottom of pan (only half the sheet will fit). Butter surface of pastry, then fold the other half over and butter it. Proceed with the remaining sheets, buttering each one, until you have used about half the sheets in the box. The phyllo sheets should be somewhat crowded in the pan, folded up a little along the sides and at each end. Be sure to butter the corners of the pastry.
  7. Distribute the walnut mixture over the pastry in an even layer.
  8. Place the remaining phyllo sheets over the walnut mixture, again buttering liberally between each layer. When all the sheets have been used, cut the pastry with a sharp knife lengthwise into strips about 1 inch wide, then on the diagonal to make diamonds. Be sure to cut right down through to the bottom of the pan. Pour any remaining clarified butter over the top of the pastry.
  9. Place in oven for 30 minutes, then raise temperature to 425 degrees and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until pastry is puffed and golden brown on top. Remove from oven and immediately pour cold syrup over hot pastry. Set aside to cool to room temperature before serving.

Enjoy! This is a fantastic recipe, and great for entertaining — I guarantee it’ll be a hit.

— Halie

Dark Chocolate Tart with Oranges and Almonds

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Oranges, almonds, and — obviously — chocolate are some of my favorite ingredients ever. Hands down. I drink orange juice by the gallon, keep tubs of raw almonds on my desk (Target sells yummy raw almonds by the bucketful, believe it or not), and enjoy chocolate — but that’s just a normal-person thing.

I came across this 2003 Bon Appétit recipe on Epicurious by accident whilst browsing for food for our annual Christmas dessert party and knew I had to add it to my menu. I’ve never been a huge tart person, and indeed I’ve never made a tart, but this recipe screamed delicious: fudgy chocolate, chewy candied oranges, slivered almonds — all in a perfect, crumbly chocolate tart shell infused with cinnamon. Although this recipe has a few components that must be made separately (read: tart shell and candied oranges), it is overall quite easy (the filling comes together in, like, 60 seconds) and well worth the time spent making it!

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Here is the recipe. [My notes are in brackets.]

Ingredients

Candied Orange Peel:

  • 1 orange
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water

Tart Crust: 

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour

Filling:

  • 1 cup slivered almonds, toasted, coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur

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Directions

Candied Orange Peel:

  1. Using vegetable peeler, remove peel (orange part only) from orange in strips [note: you can also use the cutting method from this post]. Cut strips into matchstick-size pieces and place in small saucepan. Cover with cold water; bring to boil. Cook 30 seconds; drain. [Note: this is to blanch the bitterness from the peels. I did this twice when I made this tart, and I highly recommend doing this. It is well worth the extra five minutes!]
  2. Rinse saucepan; add 1/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons water, and peel. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Simmer until peel is translucent and syrup is thick, about 20 minutes. Using tines of fork, transfer peel to plate and cool.
  3. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and store at room temperature. [Note: the peel doesn’t need to be made far in advance; it only takes 15 minutes to cool.]

Tart Crust:

  1. Using electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in large bowl until smooth. Beat in cocoa powder. Add flour and beat until dough comes together in moist clumps. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
  2. Roll out dough between sheets of waxed paper to 11-inch round. Peel off top sheet of paper. Invert dough over 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom; peel off paper. Gently press dough into pan. Press dough overhang in to form double-thick sides. Pierce dough all over with fork. Refrigerate 30 minutes. [Note: For the best use of your time, this is the best time to make the candied orange peels — while the tart crust is refrigerating. This will give the peels plenty of time to candy and then cool — and you can also bake the tart during the candying process.]
  3. Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake crust until sides look dry and bottom looks bubbly, about 14 minutes. Transfer crust to rack. Using back of spoon, press up sides of dough if falling. Cool completely.

Filling & Tart Assembly:

  1. Toss almonds, sugar, and cinnamon in small bowl. Chop all but 2 strips of peel. Sprinkle chopped orange peel, then almond mixture over bottom of prepared crust. Place cream in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to simmer. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and whisk until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth; mix in Grand Marnier. Pour into crust. Refrigerate until filling is firm, at least 3 hours. Garnish with remaining 2 orange peel strips. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover loosely with foil and keep refrigerated.)
  2. Using sharp knife, gently loosen crust from pan sides. Remove pan sides. Cut tart into wedges; serve cold.

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That’s it! This is a super easy recipe and I highly recommend it. It’s also great to make ahead, as the tart only gets more delicious with a few days in the fridge. This was one of the hits of the night at my Christmas party (aside from the baklava, which really stole the show — recipe coming soon), and can be one at your next event too! (Or just make it for yourself — I won’t judge.)

— Halie

Tiramisu Cake

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I wanted to make a special cake for my mom’s birthday, and ever since her trip to Italy last year, she has been into tiramisu.  I figured making a tiramisu cake would be a nice alternative to the usual chocolate or vanilla birthday cake.

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Ingredients

For the Cake:

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¼ sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup buttermilk

For the espresso extract:

  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso power
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water

For the espresso syrup:

  • ½ cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar

For the filling and frosting:

  • 2 8-ounce containers of mascarpone cheese
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 2 ½ ounces of semisweet chocolate finely chopped

Directions

For the Cake:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Butter two 9 inch round cake pans.
  3. Beat butter until creamy.
  4. Add sugar and continue to beat.
  5. Add eggs one by one and then the yolk while mixing.
  6. Add vanilla.
  7. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, adding the dry ingredients in 3 parts and the buttermilk in 2.
  8. Pour one half of cake batter in each pan and bake for 30 minutes.

For the extract and syrup:

  1. Stir the espresso powder and boiling water together until blended.
  2. Stir the water and sugar together in a saucepan.
  3. Bring sugar water to a boil.
  4. Remove from heat and add extract.
  5. Once the cakes have cooled pour 1/3 of the espresso syrup on top of each layer.

For the filling and frosting:

  1. Mix the mascarpone, sugar, and vanilla together in a bowl until smooth.
  2. In a separate bowl whisk the heavy cream until it forms peaks.
  3. Fold in the heavy cream to the mascarpone mixture.
  4. Frost each layer and add the semisweet chocolate between the layers.
  5. Assemble the cake and frost the outsides.
  6. Dust with coco powder and top with extra chocolate.

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My mom loved this cake.  It was full of flavor and very refreshing!

This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen and can be found here.

Enjoy!

— Lizzie

PS: Follow us on instagram @textbooksandteacakes for lots of yummy food photos!

Peppermint Joy

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I wanted to bake for our family and friends for the holidays.  I went a little overboard with the peppermint theme and made candy cane cookies, peppermint brownies, and peppermint truffles.  Each of these recipes are great for the holidays.  I also made a trip to Michaels and found the perfect packaging.

Candy Cane Cookies:

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup margarine
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon red food coloring

Directions:

  1. Cream together margarine, white sugar, and powdered sugar.
  2. Beat in egg, vanilla, and peppermint extract.
  3. Combine with flour, and salt.
  4. Cover dough and chill for at least one hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  6. Grease cookie sheets
  7. Divide dough into half
  8. Color one half of the dough with the red food coloring.
  9. Using half white dough and half red dough make candy canes.

10. Bake for 10 minutes.

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These cookies are so simple and a great holiday recipe.

Peppermint Brownies:

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Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate chopped
  • ¾ cup butter
  • 1 ½ cups white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 (1.55 ounce) Milk chocolate bars, broken into chunks
  • 1 cup of chopped peppermint chocolate (found at whole foods)
  • ½ cup of crushed candy canes for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Grease and 8X12 baking pan.
  3. Using a double boiler melt unsweetened chocolate and margarine in bowl.
  4. Whisk until chocolate is melted and stir in sugar.
  5. Add eggs, extracts, and salt.
  6. Gradually add flour and stir until combined.
  7. Spread ½ the batter into the pan.
  8. Top batter with milk chocolate
  9. Add second half of batter.

10. Top with peppermint chocolate.

11. Bake for 35 minutes.

12. Top with crushed candy canes.

These were honestly one of the top brownies I have ever had.  I promise.  You need to give these a try!!!

Peppermint Truffles:

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Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces of good semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • ¼ cup of crushed candy canes
  • 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract

Directions:

  1. Melt chocolate using a double boiler.
  2. Whisk until smooth and mix in cream.
  3. Stir in peppermint extract and crushed candy canes.
  4. Refrigerate overnight.
  5. Roll chocolate into one-inch balls.
  6. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  7. Enjoy!

This was my first time making truffles and I will say that it was not as easy as I expected.  There are very messy, but worth it!  Happy Holidays!

Enjoy!,

Lizzie

Menu: A Global Christmas Party

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My Christmas party menu for this year… my family always gets together for desserts and to exchange gifts, and we end up hosting practically every year. This is fine by me as I get to cook a ton and I love putting dessert tables together.

What’s on your menu for the holidays?

— Halie

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Toffee Sauce

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I know it isn’t quite time for fall recipes any more but I made this wonderful bread pudding for Thanksgiving and forgot to post it.  I have had a slight obsession with bread pudding lately.  It’s so warm and comforting.  This recipe took the place of our pumpkin pie this year.

Ingredients

For the Bread Pudding:

  • 1 loaf of challah bread
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 can of pumpkin puree
  • 1 ½ cups of milk
  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • ½ cup of light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

For the Toffee Sauce:

  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

For the Bread Pudding:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Cut loaf of challah into one-inch cubes.
  3. Whisk together eggs, pumpkin, milk, melted butter, sugar, vanilla, spices, and salt.
  4. Place bread cubes into a large baking pan and pour custard over the bread.  Make sure that all of the bread is covered in custard.  Using challah bread is the secret to this bread pudding.
  5. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.

For the Toffee Sauce:

  1. Place the butter, sugar, and cream in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Stir occasionally.
  3. Let boil for about 3 minutes.
  4. Then remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

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This recipe is extremely easy.  My whole family loved it.  Give it a try!

Enjoy,

Lizzie