Birthday Cake Recipe

We recently celebrated my husband, Hussein’s birthday. The day of his birth fell on a weekday, so we decided to wait for the weekend to celebrate. We went out to an Italian restaurant, Rione XII, an Ethan Stowell Restaurant in the Capital Hill neighborhood of Seattle. After a wonderful dinner, we headed home and enjoyed the delicious birthday cake I made. Hussein requested a vanilla cake topped with fruit and a light whipped frosting for the second year in a row (I am guessing this is his favorite). It is super fun to layer on the colorful, ripe summer fruit.

 

There are many steps to this recipe, but the end result is totally worth it. What better way to show someone you love them, then with something home made and delicious?

 

Here is my recipe:

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 cup milk

3/4 cup vegetable oil

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups flour

pinch of salt

cake prep

For frosting:

1 pint heavy whipping cream

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

cake 22

For the glaze:

1 tablespoon corn starch

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

1/4 cup sugar

 

Assortment of fruits and 1/2 cup sliced almonds.

fruit toppings

Procedure:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together sugar and oil. Add eggs in one at a time. Add in milk and vanilla extract; mix well.

2. Sift flour, salt and baking powder. Add to egg mixture. Mix until incorporated.

*It is very important that you do not over mix the batter.

3. Pour batter into two greased and parchment lined 8 inch cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean.

4. Allow cakes to cool. While the cakes are cooling, begin to make the icing

5. Using a mixer, whip together powdered sugar, vanilla and heavy cream until stiff (this takes 10 minutes or so). Scoop a generous scoop of icing on first tier of cake. Add 1 cup sliced strawberries, or other fruit of your liking. Be sure to cut the fruit evenly so you have a smooth leveled surface. cake

6. Place second cake on top of first cake and filling. Add the remaining icing and smooth (this does not have to be perfect as it will be covered with fruit and almonds).

cake 9

There is a new trend of “naked cakes” that look similar to the picture above. Feel free to stop here if you’re all trendy and such 🙂

7. Press sliced almond onto the sides of the cake, so they stick.

cake 12

8. Find the center of the cake (I used my bench scarper to do this) and begin arranging fruit in a design that you like.

cake 14

cake 13

9. Time to make the glaze. Combine the lime juice concentrate, sugar, corn starch and fresh lime juice. Whisk until smooth. Simmer until thickens.

10. Using pastry brush, brush on glaze.

cake 19

11. Enjoy 🙂

cake 20

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Blueberry mango muffins

After our fun, blueberry picking adventure, I was left with a ton of blueberries. Using many of the berries in my mini blueberry pies (http://amandaskitchen.co/2014/07/05/blueberry-pie/), we still had an overwhelming about of berries. I love a good blueberry muffin, but those get boring. I found some beautiful mangoes at the local grocer and decided to pair them with the blueberries in a muffin inspired by the flavors of the tropics. The streusel topping is the icing on this cake! These muffins are so large and delectable, they remind me of something from a bakery.

Don’t like mangoes or blueberries? Feel free to substitute for your favorite summer fruits.

 

Here is my recipe:

Makes 1 dozen large muffins

 

Ingredients:

For the muffin

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour + 1 tablespoon flour

3/4 cup white sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup milk

1 cup fresh blueberries

1 cup mango, diced into small cubes

3 tablespoons sweetened coconut flakes

blueberry mango muffins

For the streusel topping

1/2 cup flour

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup butter, at room temperature, cubed

3 tablespoons sweetened coconut flakes

muffin

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1. Mix together 1 3/4 cup flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Mix in oil, milk, egg and vanilla. DO NOT OVER MIX, unless you want tough flat muffins.

2. Toss blueberries in 1 tablespoon flour. This will help them to be evenly dispersed throughout the muffin and not sink to the bottom. bb muffin 3

3. Gently fold in blueberries, mangoes and coconut.

4. Line muffin tin or spray with non-stick cooking spray. I found these fun liners at Target. paper liner5. Using an ice cream scoop, distributed batter into the muffin tin.

6. Time to make the yummy topping! Using a fork, mix together the flour, sugar, butter and coconut flakes, until it crumbles. Sprinkle on top of the muffins.

7. Bake on the middle rack, in the preheated 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.

8. Enjoy 🙂

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Chocolate Macaroons

Once you have the basic macaroon recipe mastered, it is time to venture into the depths of the macaroon flavor chest. I have a few original ideas for flavors, but we will save those for later.

This weekend, I decided to take a try at chocolate macaroons. I mean chocolate macaroons. Chocolate. Macaroons. LOL.

Here is my recipe:

 

Makes 36 cookies, 18 sandwiched macaroons

Ingredients:

ingredients

1 3/4 powdered sugar

1 cup almond flour

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

 

Chocolate Filling:

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate finely chopped

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons butter, cubed at room temperature

 

Procedure:

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line 3 baking sheets with silicon mats or parchment paper.

2. Mix almond flour, cocoa powder and confectioners’ sugar in small bowl . Sift mixture thru a fine-mesh sieve. Use a spatula to add in this process. (Yes, it takes a while). Discard whatever does not go thru the sieve.macaroon process

3. Beat the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar on medium speed until frothy. Gradually spoon in the sugar and increase mixer speed to medium high. Continue beating until the mixture is stiff and shiny. (Took me 10 minutes total)

choco macaroon 8

4. Carefully fold in the almond flour and sugar mixture into the stiff egg whites. DO NOT STIR. Fold gently together; you want as much air as possible to remain in the egg.

macaroon process

5. Continue to fold until the mixture is smooth and falls off the spatula in a thin, flat ribbon.macaroon process

6. Prepare a pastry bag with a 1/4 inch round tip (Wilton #12) and fill with batter. Pipe out the cookies on the baking sheet.

macaroon process

7. Let the cookies set for 15 to 60 minutes. The cookies should no longer be sticky… this means they are ready! It is imperative to wait until the cookie is ready… or else you will get cracked macaroons!

macaroon process

8. Bake at 275 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to rest.

9. Heat cream in saucepan and then add chocolate and butter. Stir until smooth. Allow to cool completely in refrigerator.

10. Pipe chocolate filling into macaroon centers and sandwich cookies together.

11. Enjoy! 🙂 chocolate macaroons

 

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Peanut Butter Nutella Cups

peanut buter nutella cups, peanut butter and nutella, nutella, chocolate

From cookies, to crepes, cheesecake and pies, Nutella can be found on almost every dessert menu.

The delicious hazelnut spread pairs perfectly with peanut butter, top it off with toasted pecans and chocolate and you have the most delectable treat! *Best eaten with a cold glass of milk!

When I was searching around my kitchen, for something to use to make an indentation into the cups, I came across a water bottle and to my delight, it fit perfectly into the peanut butter cup!

peanut butter cupsAnother tip for this recipe is to use a sandwich bag to drizzle on the chocolate.

peanut butter nutella cups

Here is my recipe:

Peanut Butter Nutella Cups
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 36 mini cups
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup smooth peanut butter
  • ⅓ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1¼ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup Nutella
  • ½ cup chopped pecans or peanuts
  • ¼ chocolate for melting
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Using mixer at medium speed, cream together butter, peanut butter, brown and white sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add in eggs one at at time, mixing well.
  4. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add in to wet ingredients.
  5. Line a mini cupcake tin. Scoop cookie batter into each cup. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Cookie will be loose. It will set as it cools.
  6. Using the top of a water bottle (wash it first), make an indentation into the center of each cookie cup.
  7. Spoon 1 teaspoon Nutella into each of the cavities.
  8. Melt ¼ cup chocolate with 2 teaspoons vegetable oil (this makes it smooth and gives the chocolate nice shine).
  9. Spoon chocolate into a sandwich bag.
  10. Make a small hole at the end of a sandwich bag and drizzle on the chocolate.
  11. Toast pecans, and sprinkle on top of the chocolate.
  12. Enjoy 🙂

 

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Blueberry Pie

Today was a beautiful day in the Puget Sound, meaning it could only be spent  outdoors. Wish such lush land and all the rain, there are many farms, even in the cities. We decided to go to a local blueberry farm! blueberries

 

With the pulp berries we picked, I decided to make mini blueberry pies 🙂

blueberries

 

Makes two individual pies

Ingredients:

For pastry:

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup vegetable shortening

2 to 3 tablespoons cold water

1 beaten egg

 

For the filling:

1 1/2 cups blueberries

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cups all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon sugar in the raw (optional; to top pastry)

 

Procedure:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. To make the pastry mix the flour and salt in a bowl. cut in the shortening, using a pastry blender or criss-crossing two knives, until mixture look like a bowl of small particles. It should look something like this:

pie

3. Sprinkle cold water over mixture until pastry leaves the side of the bowl.

4. Gather the pastry into a ball. Turn over onto floured surface and shape into a flattened a round. Place in refrigerator to firm up (this will also help make an extra flaky pastry).

5. While the pastry is in the refrigerator, make the filling. Combine all ingredients.

6. Roll chilled pastry on a lightly floured surface. Use a large cutter, to cut out 4 piece. On two of the pieces, using a small cookie cutter, cut out a small shape, in order to release steam (these will be the tops).

7. Spoon filling onto the two bottom pastry pieces. Top with second pasty and use a fork to crimp the edges together.

8. Brush pastry with beaten egg. Sprinkle Sugar in the Raw on top of pastry. Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes or until golden brown.

9. Enjoy!

I had mine with vanilla ice cream! blueberry pie with icecream

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The impossible cookie IS possible!!

By impossible cookie, I am of course talking about French Macaroon. Many before have tried to conquer the most elite cookie of our time and have failed this quest. I too, have failed and failed again. There was always something wrong; the color, the shape, no “crown”. But finally, I have created the perfect French Macaroon. The recipe I found was not the Ladure`e recipe, but one found in Food Network Magazine, May 2014 edition. I made some modifications (as I always do). It is important to know your oven. My oven runs very hot and so I always adjust the temperature on recipes.

 

The recipe is as follows:

Makes 36 cookies, 18 sandwiched macaroons

Ingredients:

1 3/4 powdered sugar

1 cup almond flour

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

2 drops food coloring

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Blueberry Filling:

4 oz softened cream cheese

3 tablespoons blueberry jam

 

Procedure:

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line 3 baking sheets with silicon mats (I used parchment paper for one tray and it was fine).

2. Mix almond flour and confectioners’ sugar in small bowl . Sift mixture thru a fine-mesh sieve. Use a spatula to add in this process. (Yes, it takes a while). Toss whatever does not go thru the sieve.

3. Beat the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar on medium speed until frothy. Gradually spoon in the sugar and increase mixer speed to medium high. Continue beating until the mixture is stiff and shiny. (Took me 10 minutes total)

4. Carefully fold in the almond flour and sugar mixture into the stiff egg whites. DO NOT STIR. Fold gently together; you want as much air as possible to remain in the egg.

5. Add 2 drops of food coloring and the vanilla extract. Continue to fold until the mixture is smooth and falls off the spatula in a thin, flat ribbon.

6. Prepare a pastry bag with a 1/4 inch round tip (Wilton #12) and fill with batter. Pipe out the cookies on the baking sheet.

7. Let the cookies set for 15 to 60 minutes. The cookies should no longer be sticky… this means they are ready!

8. Bake at 275 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to rest.

9. Mix together cream cheese and blueberry jam. Spread onto cookie and sandwich together.

10. Enjoy 🙂

Blueberry Macaroons
Blueberry Macaroons

 

 

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Peach Dream

If you’re looking for a light, delicious dessert which uses one of the best ingredients that summer has to offer,  then this Peach Dream recipe is for you!

 

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats

1/2 cup almond slices

1 teaspoon pumpkin spice blend (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ginger)

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon butter

2 juicy peaches

4 tablespoons room temperature mascarpone cheese

Mint for garnish (optional)

 

Process:

Step 1. Mix the rolled outs, almonds, pumpkin pie spice and honey together and spread evenly onto a baking sheet.

Step 2. Place into a preheated 350 degree oven and bake until golden brown. Approximately 7-10 minutes. Remove and left cool.

Step 3. Melt butter on cast iron grill pan and place halved and pitted peach flesh side down. Cook until the peach is soft (but not too soft) and begins to caramelize. Approximately 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat.

Step 4. Scoop mascarpone into peach center (I used a small ice cream scoop to create a dome shape) and top with granola and mint.

Step 5. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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