Spiced Orange 6-Layer w/ Rosemary Buttercream

Unlike cookies, pies, or ice cream, when I decide to make a cake, it becomes my baby for the following 48 hours. Maybe because the time it takes to complete the entire process is highly underrated, but it’s probably also due to the fact that a really good cake takes a lot of figuring how to go about the smallest details. Some are obvious, such as what flavor of cake you’re really in the mood for, but the very same flow chart that begins with chocolate or vanilla leads to a plethora of other options, leading to decisions, which then leads to the task of executing them.

In any case, there is a specific satisfaction that comes with baking something for fun, no matter what the dessert, as opposed to baking for an event or even for someone in particular. Exhibit A would be taking less than a minute to marvel at your finished product before slicing into it with a knife and a fork.

Check out the video of my cake process here!

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Make the cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks softened butter
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • Zest and juice of 2 oranges
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups room temperature milk
  • 5 egg whites (@ room temperature)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • a pinch of ground ginger

1. Preheat the oven to 350 and butter & flour 3 8-inch cake pans.
2. Cream the butter and shortening together, then add the sugar gradually. Once incorporated, add the egg whites gradually, then add the orange juice and zest.
3. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour + spices + baking powder)
4. Alternate the wet and dry ingredients while mixing into the butter/egg mixture (scrape down the bowl occasionally).
5. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cake is golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean.

For the frosting

Ingredients:
2 sticks (1 cup) of softened butter
1 cup shortening
1 bag (2 lb, 3 3/4 cups) powdered sugar
4 tbsp. milk
rosemary syrup (1 cup water + 1/4 cup sugar + 6-8 sprigs of fresh rosemary — simmer together in a small saucepan for 5 minutes then chill and strain)

1. Beat the butter and shortening together, then add sugar 1/2 cup at a time.
2. Beat in syrup and milk and mix until the consistency is light and fluffy.

Enjoy! <3, B

This post is part of the monthly link up party Our Growing Edge. This event aims to connect food bloggers and inspire us to try new things. This month is hosted by Lauren at Sweet and Southern Lifestyle.

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Fresh Mint & Dark Chocolate Tart

For whatever reason, I’ve never been able to truly enjoy a mint-flavored anything. Whether it’s ice cream, cookies, or candy, I have always steered clear of mint chip, thin mints, and peppermint patties, respectively. If it registers as the same flavor of my toothpaste, I’m not into it. However, I will say that the difference between the flavors of fresh mint and bottled peppermint oil or tictacs is too immense not to call them by completely different names. The fact that all mint is considered to be on the same playing field is devastating, my point being that I enjoy desserts made with fresh mint, and do not enjoy desserts made with artificial mint flavoring. In the title, I made it my business to clarify: this is strictly fresh mint and nothing else.

Make sure the pastry of your tart shell is cooked all the way through before filling, or you’ll have a hard time making clean slices. Also be sure to leave some excess dough around the edges, as the puff pastry will shrink as it bakes.

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Make the tart:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pint (1 cup) heavy cream (+ more for whipped cream)
  • 10 oz dark chocolate, chopped (or 10 oz chocolate chips/chunks)
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry
  • 1 cup of fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Roll out a sheet of thawed puff pastry dough and lay it in a 9 in pie plate, then bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. (The middle will puff up, but once removed from the oven, press it down with a spoon.
  2. To make the mint syrup, crush the chopped mint with the sugar in a small saucepan with a wooden spoon. Add 1/2 cup of water and turn the stove on medium-low. Let the mixture simmer until it’s thickened slightly and is tinted light green. Strain the syrup through a sieve and set aside.
  3. In another saucepan, heat the cream with the corn syrup until bubbles form around the edges. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let sit for 3 minutes, then stir until smooth. Add 4 tablespoons of the mint syrup and stir until combined.
  4. Pour the chocolate mixture into the puff pastry shell, cover and refrigerate for an hour (or until completely cool). Make whipped cream and add 3 tablespoons of mint syrup to the cream before whipping. Spread the whipped cream over the tart and refrigerate until set.

Enjoy! <3, B

DIY: Making Boxed Cake Mix Taste Homemade

You’ve probably been there before: the mental debate you have with yourself regarding whether or not making a cake from scratch is worth the time and effort, rather than simply following the 3-step instructions found on every box in probably the most artificial section of the grocery store. There’s always an easy way out, giving in to the oil, egg, and water recipe, but it’s lazy. Then, there’s the more complicated and time consuming way, the eggs, sugar, flour, butter, baking powder, vanilla, etc. recipe, but it’s tedious when you don’t have all the time in the world. Don’t settle for the watered down flavor of death, but don’t go to great lengths if the pay off isn’t worth it! Instead, upgrade the boxed cake mix with easy substitutions so there’s a happy medium (or be an overachiever and make a cake from scratch, but no one likes overachievers. How dare you) (But use one of my cake recipes if you decide that’s what you want to do) (no pressure)

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Make the chocolate cupcakes/cake:

Ingredients (depending on the cake mix)

  • an extra egg (I used 4 eggs)
  • 2 tbsp of sour cream (it makes the cake moist)
  • milk instead of water
  • 1/4 cup of coffee (you won’t taste the coffee but it enhances the chocolate)

For the frosting: Beat together 4 oz of softened cream cheese and a can of frosting.

Follow the instructions on the box, but only beat the mix for 30 seconds instead of 2 minutes.

Enjoy! <3, B

Spiced Blood Orange Bars

And now for something completely different! Normally, you won’t see me using dark colors or spicy flavors during the months of February through July, but technically these still taste summery, despite the deep Halloween-natured blood orange hue (I debated on holding off on posting this one until late August at the least, but all these bars really are is a spin on lemon bars, which I’ve always associated with early July).

Make sure to use ripe oranges to ensure the juice’s dark pigment will dye the filling!

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Make the bars:

Ingredients

Filling:

  • Juice and zest of 1 blood orange
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • Powdered sugar (optional)

Crust:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • Pinch of ground ginger
  • 1 stick of softened butter
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. In a food processor, pulse together the flour, butter, spices, and sugar until a soft dough forms. Press the crust into a glass pan (8×8) and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
  2. Beat together eggs, sugar, lemon juice, and baking soda. Stir in the orange juice and zest.
  3. Pour the filling into the hot crust when it comes out of the oven, then return to the oven for 15 more minutes or until the bars are soft but firm in the middle.
  4. Let cool completely, and serve with sifted powdered sugar.

Enjoy! <3, B

Lavender Lemon Glazed Donuts

As much as it pains me to say it, simply because I draw a line for how cheesy my content on here can get before exceeding the clichéd and generic white mom style of blogging boundary, spring has sprung (cringe!!).

But despite this awful phrase that needs to die right now immediately, spring is actually here again, which calls for spring flavors and colors. When it comes to April, I’m down for all things floral and light (i.e lavender, lemon, and honey)! Therefore, these glazed donuts are a perfect teatime dessert or springtime breakfast, and really taste like April.

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Make the donuts:

Ingredients

  •  3 tbsp honey
  • 1 cup milk, heated
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup lavender sugar (divided)
  • 3 1/2 cups of flour
  • 3 eggs, whisked
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • Oil, for frying
  • 1 stick of softened butter
  1. In a Kitchen Aid bowl, stir together the warm milk and yeast with the dough hook attachment and let it sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in whisked eggs and 3/4 cup of lavender sugar, then add in the butter, lemon zest, and honey. Mix in flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
  3. Cover with a damp cloth and let the dough rise for an hour.
  4. On a floured surface, roll out the dough and cut into rounds with a cookie cutter or glass. Punch a hole in the middle with the end of a wide, round frosting tip or small cookie cutter.
  5. Fry the donuts in hot oil (about 350 degrees) until golden brown, for about 1 minute on each side. Let cool, then coat in lavender glaze (3 cups powdered sugar + 5 tbsp. milk + 1/4 cup lavender sugar, all whisked together) and let them sit on a rack until firm.

Enjoy! <3, B

Dark Chocolate Balsamic Truffles

A couple years ago, I decided that making candy store-style truffles at home is impossible. Whenever there’s a recipe online for truffles, what it is actually most likely referring to is a combination of cream cheese (or butter) and chocolate, formed into balls and rolled in cocoa powder, then chilled to firm. At See’s Candies, Lindt, or any shop of that nature, truffles are a creamy filling encased in a shell of hardened chocolate, which is the candy I was always looking to recreate.

The other day I had a groundbreaking realization. If you make a buttercream, pipe it on wax paper in rounds, chill them, coat them in chocolate, then let them sit at room temperature until the insides have softened, you have a candy store truffle. It took me a while to realize this, and it’s probably a method many people use already, but I was still excited about my discovery. To kick things up a notch, I reduced balsamic vinegar to give them a tangy quality (that you wouldn’t normally find in a candy store truffle. It’s the best of both worlds.)

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Make the Truffles

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 4 oz dark or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 stick of softened butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp light corn syrup
  • Semi sweet chocolate chips
  1. In a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream and stir in the corn syrup. When bubbles begin to form around the edges, remove from heat and add dark chocolate. Let sit for a minute, then stir until smooth.
  2. Reduce the balsamic vinegar over low heat in a saucepan until it has a syrup-like consistency. This should take about 5-10 minutes, but make sure you swirl it occasionally so it doesn’t burn!
  3. Stir the balsamic reduction into the chocolate mixture until smooth, then transfer to the bowl of an electric mixture and beat in softened butter. Fill a piping bag with a plain round tip and pipe small circles or squares onto a wax paper-lined baking sheet then chill until firm.
  4. Coat the chilled truffle fillings in melted semi sweet chocolate, then chill and repeat the process. Let the truffles sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes before serving so the filling has time to soften.

Enjoy! <3, B

White Rose Cake with Pink Vanilla Buttercream

aka The Best Cake I’ve ever made (just in time for Valentine’s Day)!

As of right now, my newest discovery happens to be my favorite ingredient: rose water. Though I’ve only made a couple things with this magical extract, it’s a great addition to simple recipes if you want to change things up a little. It also happens to be the case that roses are a natural aphrodisiac, hence the V-day theme. I derived this recipe from a simple white cake I found on Pinterest, so I do not take credit for the original, but I did switch it up quite a bit.

The cake is three 8-inch layers filled and frosted with a pink vanilla buttercream. If you want to pipe rosettes, my recommendation is to use a wide-star tip and start from the center of each rose, swirling out.

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Make the Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks softened butter
  • ½ cup vegetable shortening
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 egg whites, room temperature
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups of milk, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. rose water
  1. Butter and flour 3 8-inch cake pans. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and shortening. Add the sugar one cup at a time and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg whites gradually and beat until incorporated. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and vanilla and rose extracts.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.
  4. Alternate adding the dry and wet ingredients into the egg mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
  5. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until the cake is golden and a knife inserted comes out clean.

Pink Vanilla Buttercream: Beat together 2 sticks of softened with 1 lb of powdered sugar. Slowly add room temperature milk, one tablespoon at a time, until the frosting comes together. Beat until fluffy and fold in a drop of pink food dye.

Enjoy! <3, B

A Special Day on a Not-So-Special Day

It’s been 31,536,000 seconds (I’ve been counting.) It’s kind of insane. I want to keep this short and sweet, so…

Happy 1 Year Anniversary, RDD!

Wow. It’s been exactly one year since I made the cheesy introduction to what seemed to be just a simple way to organize my recipes and mind for a little while.. Needless to say it’s turned into something much more. It’s something I’ve stuck with, something that motivates me, something that has occupied  me on rainy sundays. For those of you who’ve read my pointless gibberish and attempted one of my “guess & check” recipes, I thank you so much (you’ll be getting your reward soon…I’ll explain later..) 

Sure, I don’t have as many followers as some of you do, but looking at my stats and seeing at least 6 or 7 people looked at my blog that day has always made me happy. So thanks again.

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<3, B

 

Slutty Brownies

These are crazy. First let’s discuss the layers; chocolate chip cookie, oreo cookies, and brownie. It’s like butter, sugar and chocolate had a freaky one night stand and this is the product. However, I didn’t come up with the name. These are classic slutty brownies.

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Make the brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1 box brownie mix (I use Ghirardelli)
  • Oreos (about 1 sleeve/row)

For the chocolate chip cookie layer:

  • 1 1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla (didn’t appear in the group photo, sorry!)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a glass pan. Make the brownie batter, set aside.
  2. WIth a hand mixer, cream the sugars and butter together. Add the egg & vanilla and beat until blended. In another bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and baking soda together. Add to the butter mixture gradually, then stir in the chocolate chips.
  3. Assembly: spread the cookie dough in the bottom of the greased pan. Place the oreos in rows (don’t over do it, I did three columns), and pour the brownie batter on top. Level out the top with a knife or off set spatula. I pour sprinkles on the top before baking, but that’s just me.
  4. Bake for about 30 minutes. I had to keep checking because my rough draft’s time was off, so keep checking on them! You’ll know they’re done when a knife inserted in the center comes out with a few moist brownie crumbs.

Enjoy!

B

Marshmallow Fondant

Fondant is an edible clay used for covering and decorating cakes. It’s used instead of buttercream for a smooth finish, and also for topping cupcakes. Since making a fondant tier cake is always a project, I set aside a day for baking off the layers (lemon sponge), making the frosting (vanilla buttercream), and, of course, rolling out home made fondant. This is seriously marshmallow in its best form.

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Make the fondant:

Ingredients

  • 16 oz mini marshmallows
  • 8 cups powdered sugar
  • 5 tbsp. water
  1. In a large microwave-safe bowl, mix the marshmallows and water.
  2. Microwave the marshmallows for about 1 1/2 minutes, then stir until the marshmallows are almost completely melted. Put them back in for about 30 seconds, then they should be smooth with no chunks.
  3. Add the sugar 1 cup at a time and knead either with your clean hands or a wooden spoon. Once the fondant isn’t sticky, like soft dough, add food coloring if you want and knead until the color is even. For a marble effect, twist in food dye and stop when the fondant is marble-y.

Covering a cake

  1. Dust a counter or cutting board with either corn starch or powdered sugar. Use a rolling pin to roll out the fondant, making sure none of it is sticking (it takes a few times before you can get the fondant all on in one piece.)
  2. Spread a thin crumb coat of frosting over your cake. Sprinkle more powdered sugar over the sheet of fondant and fold it into fourths (this makes it easy to pick it up, I also use this technique for pie crust.)
  3. Place the folded fondant on the cake and unfold so there’s fondant down to the bottom. If it’s wrinkled, use a fondant smoother to even it out. 
  4. Use cookie cutters for fondant shapes and a shot glass for polka dots (and stick on the cake with water and a paint brush)

Enjoy! <3, B