Prosecco Cake!

Well hello there.  Yes, it’s been over a year since I last posted a recipe and I apologize.  But now I’m back. Let me fill you in on my year of non-blogging adventures.

  • Got a job at at a company that imports Italian food and wine. WIN!
  • Tried a new type of dance and loved it
  • Finally went wine tasting in Napa
  • Watched Lord of the Rings more than 30 times (can you tell I’m a fan?)
  • Became a regular at a dumpling restaurant
  • Ate my weight in tacos

Now that you know these things, lets get to the important stuff, THE CAKE!

I’ve developed quite a reputation at work for my baking and I love it! It means I get to bake all kinds of cool things and people will actually eat it all.  Major win. When my boss asked me to make “one of my cakes” for a longtime employee who was retiring, I immediately started brainstorming cake ideas.  After consulting with a co-working, I decided on a celebratory Champagne cake.  But remember, this is an Italian company, run by really awesome Italian people. I can’t go using FRENCH sparkling wine in my cake.  Quick fix? Prosecco!  And thus, the Prosecco Cake was born!

Here is the recipe for the Prosecco Cake with Whipped Buttercream and Raspberry Filling.

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Yield: two 9 inch cakes

Prosecco Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2/3 T baking powder
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 4 egg whites
  • 2/3 cup Prosecco (not too dry)
  • 1 1/3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 T vegetable oil
  • 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, grease and flour 2 (9 inch) pans.  
  2. In a medium size bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside
  3. In another bowl combine the egg whites, champagne, vanilla and vegetable oil. Whisk until blended and set aside.
  4. In the bowl of your mixer, cream the butter and sugar 3 to 5 minutes. When it is light and fluffy add approximately 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix until blended. Slowly add 1/2 of the liquid ingredients and mix until blended. Continue alternating dry and wet ingredients ending with dry and mix until blended. Add the pink color at this time.
  5. Pour into prepared pans and bake 15-20 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted the center comes out clean. Cool in baking pans 10 min. then turn out.

(recipe adapted from http://www.mycakeschool.com/recipes/pink-champagne-cake/)

Whipped Buttercream

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar (not powdered sugar)
  • zest of one lemon (optional)

Method

  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk one cup of milk with 5 tablespoons of flour. Heat over medium until the mixture begins to sputter, whisking constantly. Continue to stir as the mixture thickens. You will know it’s done when it reaches the consistency of thick cake batter, after about 7 minutes of heating and whisking. Stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and set aside to cool COMPLETELY.
  2. Now, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or using a hand held mixer, beat 2 sticks of softened butter (1 cup) with 1 1/4 cups of granulated sugar until light, fluffy, and white in color, about 3 solid minutes of beating on medium-high speed. You want the sugar to be totally incorporated into the butter. NOTE: the sugar will not be dissolved.  The graininess will go away in the next step when the milk mixture is added.
  3. Be sure that the milk/flour mixture has completely cooled, and add it to the butter/sugar mixture. Beat all ingredients for about 1 minute on high speed, scraping down the bowl halfway, until they are smooth and well blended. The frosting should be as light and fluffy as whipped cream.

(recipe courtesy of http://www.andiemitchell.com/the-best-whipped-frosting/)

Raspberry Filling

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups raspberries
  • 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Method

  1. In a saucepan, combine the raspberries, 3/4 cup of water and the sugar. Bring to boil.
  2. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the raspberries have broken down.
  3. Remove the mixture from the heat and strain in a fine-mesh sieve. Return the strained mixture to the heat.
  4. Dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining 2 tablespoons of water. Whisk the slurry into the raspberry mixture.
  5. Bring the mixture back to a boil and simmer for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.

(Recipe adapted from http://emerils.com/120077/raspberry-filling)

I chose to decorate this cake with fruit and powdered sugar, which was a nice, simple, and fresh presentation.  Everyone absolutely loved it and are now dropping hints that I should open a bakery.  I call that a win.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did!

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Pear Tart: A Holiday Treat

Well, I’m home for the holidays, and that means lots and lots and LOTS of cooking and baking with my mom.  This is a time of year I look forward to because the food is abundant and the company is wonderful.  My mom and I are usually baking up a storm in the kitchen, my dad is on the computer commenting occasionally on the smell wafting into the room, and my younger sister does not miss a beat to tell us what to make next.  Toby, our west highland terrier, is the best vacuum cleaner we could ever ask for and cleans up any morsel we drop on the floor.  All in all, a somewhat chaotic scene, but I wouldn’t ask for anything else.

This particular recipe is one of my favorites that my mom makes.  It’s a great winter dessert and is perfect after a big holiday dinner.  I always make sure it gets made when I come home from school because it is one of my favorite desserts.

Here is the recipe for Caramelized Upside-Down Pear Tart:

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INGREDIENTS

  • 4 large firm-ripe Bosc pears (2 pounds total)
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  •  Pastry dough (1 store-bought, or homemade)

DIRECTIONS

Peel and halve pears, the core (preferably with a melon-ball cutter). Heat butter in a 9- to 10-inch well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides, then stir in sugar (sugar will not be dissolved). Arrange pears, cut sides up, in skillet with wide parts at rim of skillet. Sprinkle pears with cinnamon and cook, undisturbed, until sugar turns a deep golden caramel. (This can take as little as 10 minutes or as much as 25, depending on pears, skillets, and stove.) Cool pears completely in skillet.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin into a 12-inch round and trim to a 9 1/2- to 10 1/2-inch round. Arrange pastry over caramelized pears, tucking edge around pears inside rim of skillet. Bake tart until pastry is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on rack 5 minutes.

Invert a rimmed serving plate (slightly larger than skillet) over skillet and, using pot holders to hold skillet and plate tightly together, invert tart onto plate. Serve tart warm or at room temperature.

Recipe courtesy of epicurious

When my mom and I make this, we always make the pastry dough, but if you don’t have enough time to do that, store-bought dough is just as good.  I know Trader Joes has frozen pie crusts year round.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much and my family and I do! Enjoy!

Halloween Popcorn

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays.  It is the one day (or multiple days in college) of the year when you can dress up as anything you want and no one will question why.  I take a lot of time to figure out my costume and I have never in my life bought a costume.  I always put it together from pieces of clothing I own or sew it myself.  It’s more fun and creative that way.  The other thing I love about Halloween is the candy (who doesn’t).  Just like all the trick-or-treating kids, I can’t wait to get my hands on some candy.  But eating that much candy is obviously not very healthy, so I came up with something just as tasty but consisting of less sugar.

Here is the recipe for my Halloween Popcorn

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 bag kettle corn or salted popcorn, popped by bag instructions
  • 1/3 cup candy corn
  • 1/4 cup semi sweet mini chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cover a baking sheet with wax paper and spread out the popcorn so that it is in one layer
  2. Put the candy corn in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30 second intervals siring after each interval. Once the candy corn has melted, use a spoon to drizzle it over the popcorn.
  3. Place the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave at 30 second intervals siring after each interval.  When the chocolate has completely melted, add the vegetable oil to the melted chocolate.  This will help the chocolate drizzle better over the popcorn.  Use a spoon to drizzle the chocolate over the popcorn.
  4. After both the melted candy corn and chocolate have been drizzled over the popcorn, let the popcorn sit for about 20 to 30 min so that the candy and chocolate hardens.
  5. Once hardened, remove from baking sheet, break into smaller pieces, and serve!

This is a nice easy (and healthier) way to enjoy Halloween candy without actually consuming that much candy! A win-win situation all around.  It is also really quite cheap and one batch of this only costs about $1.50 to make! I ended up serving this at a small Halloween party I threw for my friends, and it went FAST!  So let the kids have the candy and help yourself to some Halloween popcorn! Enjoy!