If you are like me, these past few days have been a blur of stores and sugar. My kitchen is always busy with someone making a new Christmas cookie for out family's annual Christmas Eve party. In between the cookies, I'm trying to navigate awful mall parking lots in an attempt to find just a few more gifts. I've figured out that if you don't really know what to get for them, something handmade is probably the best way to go.

Well I had a ton of options for recipes this week, considering the amount of cookies that have been made in the last two days. Hands down my favorite one was the biscotti. It's pretty easy and makes for a great breakfast or dessert item.

Pistachio Dried Cranberry Biscotti with White Chocolate

Adapted from: Bon Appetit
Makes approx. 25

For the biscotti:

3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
 2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
 3 large eggs
2 Tbsp. canola oil
2 tsp. almond extract
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup unsalted, shelled pistachios

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat sugar, eggs, oil, and almond extract until combined. Add flour mixture and beat until smooth.  Stir in cherries and pistachios.
Scoop dough into two rough looking logs on the prepared baking sheet. Using wet fingers, shape each dough half into a 13" long,  3" wide log. Bake 30 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes. Reduce oven to 325°.  Transfer biscotti to a work surface. Using a serrated knife, cut each strip horizontally into 1/2" thick slices. Arrange slices,  standing upright, on a pan with a different piece of parchment. Bake biscotti 20 minutes, until slightly golden. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

For the Chocolate:  
8 oz. white chocolate

Melt white chocolate in a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stirring occasionally. Dip one end of the biscotti into the chocolate. Place on a baking sheet fitted with wax paper and allow the chocolate to set in the fridge.

I seriously have eaten so many of these over the past few days! They have amazing flavor, and are some of the best biscotti I have ever had!

Until next week!
It's getting closer to the holidays, and I went out and bought an ugly sweater to wear just for kicks.
So, the Christmas season is all about cookies. However, sometimes people spend hours and hours making them. Trust me I have been in this position many times! So, that got me thinking, whats a great holiday substitute for cookies that don't take up an entire day or two? Toffee is for sure the answer. This recipe is super easy, and one batch makes about 30 servings!

Chocolate Covered Toffee

From with edits to: Allrecipes

For the Toffee:
2 cups butter, cut into 1 tbs cubes
2 cups white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Line a cookie sheet with a Silipat mat. (You can use parchment, however, the toffee may stick).
In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the butter, sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring until the butter is melted. Allow to come to a boil, and cook until the mixture becomes a dark amber color, (285 degrees F) (You really should go by color, not temperature. Do not burn the mixture). Stir occasionally.
As soon as the toffee reaches the proper temperature, pour it out onto the prepared baking sheet. With an offset spatula spread the toffee out to the edges of the pan. Sprinkle the chocolate over the top, and let it set for a minute or two to soften. Spread the chocolate into a thin even layer once it is melted.
Place the toffee in the refrigerator to chill until set. Break into pieces, and store in an airtight container.

That's it! It's a super easy recipe, however be very careful not to burn the butter. It is better to take it off early than too late.
Also, while you are making this everyone will stop by the kitchen and comment on how good it smells!

Hope you all have a great holiday season!
Thanksgiving has come and gone.  I just quickly wanted to say how thankful I am for all the opportunities that this blog has given me! I also want to thank all my readers and those who give me great feedback from the recipes they have tried from this blog. Sunday has become a great highlight of my week as I get to explore so many new recipes and styles of baking.

To kick off the holiday spirit, I'm bringing you a buche de noel. It's a bit labor intensive-ish, but it is well worth it. The meringue mushrooms can be made a few days ahead, or left out entirely, to make the workload a bit less.

For the Icing:
12 oz. semisweet chocolate
8 tbsp. unsalted butter
2⁄3 cup heavy cream

Melt chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler set over simmering water over medium-low heat, whisking often. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in cream. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until icing thickens, about 4 hours. Don't refrigerate.

For the Meringue:
10 tbsp. sugar
2 large egg whites
2 pinches cream of tartar
Pinch salt
1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract
1⁄4 cup cocoa powder
1⁄2 cup confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 200°. Combine sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, swirling pan several times until sugar has dissolved, 1–2 minutes. Uncover pan and continue to boil until syrup reaches softball stage or 236° on a candy thermometer, about 4 minutes more. Put egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk and beat on medium speed until frothy, then add cream of tartar and salt. Gradually increase speed to high and beat until soft peaks form, about 30 seconds. Slowly pour in sugar syrup while continuing to beat until whites cool to room temperature and become thick and shiny, about 10 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Use a rubber spatula to transfer meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4" plain pastry tip. To make meringue mushrooms, hold pastry tip perpendicular to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and pipe meringue into the shapes of mushroom caps and stems of various sizes, then set aside for 5 minutes. Lightly moisten a fingertip in cold water and smooth out any "tails" left behind on mushroom caps. Bake meringues for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off oven and allow meringues to rest in oven until dry and crisp, about 1 hour. Bore a small, shallow hole in center of underside of each mushroom cap with the tip of a paring knife. "Glue" stems to caps by dipping tips of stems into icing, then sticking into holes in caps. Sift a little cocoa powder on tops of caps. Meringues can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.

For the Roulade:
2 tbsp. softened butter
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
7 egg whites
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. dark rum

Preheat oven to 375°. Line a 16 1/2" × 12" heavy baking pan with buttered parchment paper, cut large enough to hang over sides of the pan by about 1". Put chocolate in a large mixing bowl and set aside. Bring cream just to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat, then pour over chocolate and whisk until smooth. Set aside to cool. Beat egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk on medium speed until frothy; increase speed to medium-high and gradually add sugar, beating constantly, then increase speed to high and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form, 30-40 seconds more. (Don't overbeat.) Mix one-third of the whites into chocolate using a rubber spatula, then gently fold in remaining whites in two batches, taking care not to deflate batter. Spread in prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 10–12 minutes. Set aside to cool in the pan.

For the Filling:
4 oz. semisweet chocolate
6 tbsp. sugar
3 egg yolks
12 tbsp. unsalted butter

 Melt chocolate with 2 tbsp. water in the top of a double boiler set over simmering water over medium heat. Stir to combine, then set aside to cool. Combine sugar and 3 tbsp. water in a small heavy saucepan; cover and bring to a boil over medium heat, swirling pan several times until sugar has dissolved, about 1 minute. Uncover and continue to boil until syrup reaches the softball stage or 236° on a candy thermometer, about 5 minutes more. Meanwhile, beat yolks in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk on high speed until thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and gradually pour in hot syrup. Beat constantly until mixture cools to room temperature, about 10 minutes. Allow butter to soften, then beat into egg mixture 1 tbsp. at a time, waiting until it's completely incorporated before adding more; continue beating until thick and smooth, about 5 minutes total. Stir in cooled chocolate and set aside.

Hope you enjoy this great recipe to kick off the holiday season! Until next week!

Photography is a huge part of having a food blog, or any blog really. Beautiful images make for an attractive site, however, this can be extremely hard to achieve. I personally struggle with the photography aspect, but I'm definitely learning and developing the skill. Throughout my photography experiences, I've figured out a couple of key elements that help me achieve my best photographs. Using diffusers, reflectors, and composition ideas, I've really strengthened my images.
Working with both natural and artificial light, I've come to notice the pros and cons of each. I really like the look of natural light, but the creative power with artificial lighting is completely worth taking the extra time to set the lights up!

So, the recipe this week is perfect for winter. Its rich chocolate combined with light whipped cream makes for the perfect dessert. I highly recommended this for any holiday parties that are coming in about a month or two!


Irish Mint Brownies

Yields 2 1/2 dozen

For the Brownie:
1 cup butter, cubed
4 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a microwave, melt butter and bittersweet chocolate; stir until smooth. Cool slightly. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Stir in chocolate mixture. Gradually add flour until blended. Spread into a greased 13 by 9 inch baking pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely.

For the Filling:
4 oz white chocolate chips
1/4 cup refrigerated Irish creme coffee creamer
1 cup heavy whipping cream
15 mint Andes candies

In a microwave, melt white chocolate and creamer for 30 second intervals, stirring intermittently until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate for 30 to 40 minutes until chilled. In another small bowl, beat cream until soft peaks form; fold into white chocolate mixture. Beat on medium speed until stiff peaks form, about 4 minutes. Fold in chopped candies. Spread over brownies. Cover and refrigerate.

For the Icing:
12 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp butter
Halved Andes mints (optional)

In a small saucepan heat cream to a simmer. Place chocolate in a small bowl. Slowly pour cream over chocolate and whisk until smooth. Stir in butter until melted. (You may have to return the chocolate mixture to the heat in order to fully melt the butter.) Cool to room temperature. Carefully spread over the filling. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour until icing is set. Cut into bars and garnish with additional candies. Store in the refrigerator.

It was a huge day last week here at The Sunday Pastry! I know I didn't post as much as last year due to my long hiatus in this summer, but I have still improved so much with my baking!

Ok, on to this week's recipe:

Now in the transition from fall to winter, I never know what to make. Part of me wants to stick with apples and cinnamon, but there's a little voice in the back of my mind telling me to start posting Christmas cookie recipes. I swear, blogging is exactly like retail. You have to stay ahead, getting Christmas recipes out before people even begin to think what seasonal treat they might want to make.

So, I thought to myself, one last fall recipe to end the season... then I'll begin with the Christmas cookies and the huge thanksgiving desserts.

Apple Maple Tart

Adapted from: Green Kitchen Stories

For the Crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Finely crush graham crackers in a Ziploc bag with a rolling pin. Stir graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt together in a large bowl. Add melted butter and stir with a fork. Press mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9” tart pan. Press hard to compact. Use a glass to press the bottom, but use your fingers to press the sides. Bake crust for 8 minutes, until it just starts to brown. Cool completely before filling.

 For the Filling:
3/4 cup applesauce

Place apple sauce directly into the center of the cooled crust. Spread to the edges with the back of a spoon.

For the Topping:

4 small red apples
½ lemon, juice
1 tbsp maple syrup or runny honey
1 tbsp cold pressed olive oil
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Prepare the apples by dividing them into quarters and removing the core. Slice the apples quarters into very thin wedges. Squeeze some lemon over the apple wedges to prevent them from turning brown.
Arrange the thin apple wedges in a circular shape on top working in a spiral towards the center. Use thick, large pieces on the ends and thin, flexible pieces in the middle. Brush with maple syrup and dust with cinnamon. Place the tart in the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until the apples are golden on top. Let cool slightly before serving.
Serve within 12 hours of making the tart (immediately is best) otherwise the crust will become soggy.

So there, my last fall recipe. I've been seeing some really cool things on Pinterest that have given me some great ideas for next week! Until then!
I figured I haven't made much bread here on The Sunday Pastry, and it is a very go-to thing to make on a Sunday morning. I think most people agree that freshly baked bread is a thousand times better than the stuff sitting out on your counter or in the supermarket isle. Nothing can beat fresh bread: bagels, brioche, you name it! So, I stumbled across a beautiful new blog this week called Slovakia For the Soul, which was full of beautiful photography, (and I have to say I pinned probably her whole website!). This recipe in particular intrigued me because of the cardamom layers. Cardamom is something I don't bake with it often, if at all, so the recipe had me digging into the back of the spice cabinet trying to find it!
I'm very pleased with my results, and this bread is great to kick back and relax with on a Sunday morning!

Braided Cardamom Bread

From, with edits to: Souvlaki For the Soul

For the Bread:
200ml milk
60g butter
1 x 7g sachet (packet) of yeast
400g plain flour
60g caster sugar
pinch sea salt

Combine the milk and butter in a saucepan over a medium heat and allow the butter to melt and the mixture to come to a lukewarm temperature. (If it heats too much cool it down by pacing the saucepan in a sink with cold water).
In a separate bowl combine the yeast, flour, sugar and salt. Make a well in the center and pour the milk/butter mixture in. Mix thoroughly until you have a dough. (You may need to add a little more flour here to stop the dough from being sticky).
Turn the dough onto a clean surface add a little more flour and knead for 5 mins until smooth and elastic. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel and allow to rise for 1 hour in a warm place.
Preheat your oven to 190 deg C and butter and flour a 22cm bundt cake tin and set aside.

For the filling:
100g butter softened
1 tsp ground cardamom
50g sugar

Prepare the filling by beating the softened butter, cardamom and sugar in a bowl. Set aside.

For the Assembly:
1 egg, lightly beaten
80g shelled pistachios, roughly chopped (salted is ok)
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses (optional)

Remove the risen dough, punch it out with your fist and roll into a large rectangle measuring approx. 40cm x 30cm in size. Spread the cardamom/butter mixture over the dough, sprinkle 3/4 of the pistachios and drizzle the pomegranate molasses. With the long end facing you roll the dough into a long cylinder/sausage shape. Starting about 1 inch from the top with a very sharp knife, cut down the length of the center of the rolled dough to expose the layers and filling inside. Alternate the two long pieces of dough over each other and shape into a ring. Gently place into the greased baking tin, brush with beaten egg and sprinkle any remaining pistachios on top.
Bake for 25-30 mins until golden. Allow to cool in the tin for ten minutes before gently removing. Allow to cool for a further half hour before slicing and serving.

I know pomegranate molasses can be hard to find, so I found a great recipe for it here. Its pretty easy to whip up. I left out the lemon juice though, and I highly suggest doing so.

Mmmm this bread makes the kitchen smell amazing, perfect for a weekend morning.
Last weekend, I was up at my cabin for a family friend's birthday. Of course, for pastry people like myself, that means it's time to whip out the turntable and create a cake.
I made this red velvet cake this summer, and didn't get around to posting it (like many other things recently... oops). So I decided to go back to it, as this was our family friend's favorite cake.

 Just a nice picture of the view from my cabin.

The original recipe calls for halved raspberries in filling between the layers of cake. So, I put a half pint of raspberries on the grocery list. To my frustrating dismay, every single one was a grey-ish red with some mold specks. I just then remembered that raspberries are not in season. This brings me to another point many people tent to forget: when developing and recipe with fresh ingredients, it's so important to know whats in season. So, setting the raspberries aside, I continued with a traditional red velvet cake. It was an instant favorite!

Red Velvet Cake

Adapted from: Bon Appetit

For the cake:
2 1/2 cups flour
2 Tbs cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tbs red food coloring
1 tsp distilled white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut a two 9 inch round of parchment to fit in the bottom of two 9-inch-diameter round cake pans. Butter and flour the bottom of each, then place the parchment paper at the bottom of both and butter and flour the parchment. In a medium bowl sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. In another medium bowl whisk buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla to combine. With a handheld electric mixer beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add eggs one at a time. Beat in dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with buttermilk mixture. Divide batter between the two pans.

For the Frosting:
2 8oz packaged cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 Tbs vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Using a handheld electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter together in a large bowl. Beat in vanilla and sugar until smooth.

For the Assembly:
blueberries (optional)
powdered sugar (optional)

Place cake layer, bottom side down onto turntable (or work surface, but if you don't have a turntable I would suggest you should get one). Spread approximately 1 cup of frosting on this layer. Place the next cake layer top side down and spread remaining frosting on the top and sides of cake.

For help with frosting a cake here is a great video. (The frosting starts at 22:15) You can skip a crumb coat if you want, but I never do because a crumb coat makes the cake look cleaner. If you are worried about running out of frosting just make a double batch!

So, I hope you enjoy this late post! The cake is always a favorite and I highly recommend it for birthdays. I have another post coming your way this week, so stay tuned!

This weekend wasn't quite what I was expecting schedule wise. I got appendicitis on Friday, and had to go to the hospital to remove it. So this weekend I was just laying around my house to recover, so I was pretty bored. However, I did get in a nice amount of Netflix and got through a season of Orphan Black, which is a show that I would highly recommend. There are also no pictures this week because I'm just not quite psychically feeling up to it yet but I plan on updating the post later on.

I did as well get off the couch long enough to whip up some really good fall cookies. I wanted to incorporate fall tastes into an amazing chewy cookie. After a lot of adding spices and testing out dough, I am very happy with the results and I think you will be too!

Chewy Chai Cookies

Adapted from: McCormick
Makes 4 1/2 dozen

For the Tea:
1/4 cup water
2 black chai tea bags

Boil water in microwave. Steep with two tea bags until water is cold (about 15 minutes).

For the cookies:
 2 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp. creme of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tbsp. chai tea
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. crushed cloves
1/8 tsp. crushed anise seeds

Additional sugar, for rolling

Mix flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Set aside. Beat sugar and butter in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs; mix well. Add vanilla, tea, crushed cloves, cinnamon, and anise and stir to combine. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed. Refrigerate dough 2 hours or until firm.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in additional sugar. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheets.
Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets 1 minute. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

These cookies are perfect for a quick snack, and have an true chai flavor with the chewiness of a sugar cookie.

Hmmm, fall anyone?
I think it's safe to say yellow leaves are topping off the trees, and the air has a crisp feeling about it. However, if you're like me, you're still holding onto that last bit of warm sun and thinking of fried summer foods handed out of food trucks. Food trucks are pretty amazing aren't they! I've always had a thing for street food, and I especially love when trucks fuse together to different aspects of food. I'll take an Asian-Mexican burrito over a sit down restaurant any day.

So, this week I'm combining some fall tastes with that light, fried taste of summer:

Apple Pie Bites with Caramel Sauce

Adapted from: The Sugar Hit

For the apple pie bites:
100g fresh ricotta cheese
40g all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
1 egg
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
vegetable oil, for frying

To make the fritters, place the ricotta, flour, baking powder, egg and 1 tbsp sugar into a mixing bowl and stir together with a wooden spoon until well combined. In a small, deep saucepan, heat about 2-3 cm of oil, until a piece of the ricotta mixture bubbles and floats to the surface when added. Using two teaspoons, drop teaspoonfuls of the batter into the oil, and cook for about a minute or until golden brown. Flip and allow to cook for 30 seconds to a minute more. Remove the fritters, and drain briefly on paper towels, while you continue until all the batter is cooked. Serve immediately.

For the caramel sauce:
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tbsp butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
Measure out butter and heavy cream and have them ready to go next to the stove. Put sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and watch it. As the sugar begins to melt, swirl the pan gently to promote even carmelization. Once the sugar has reached a deep-ish amber color. Be careful, as it will burn quickly if the heat it too high. Add butter and whisk like crazy. Its going to bubble and spit and then calm down into a smooth, creamy looking caramel. Then slowly add your heavy cream, whisking again the whole time. It should now look like slightly runnier than you would like it sauce. Pour it in a container of some sort and place in the refrigerator to cool until needed.

So good, and the batter can be made in advance, so they can be fired right before serving. These are a perfect snack fix!

For the rest of this week, I have 50 cupcakes to make for a school event on Friday. We are giving them out as prizes, and I have to make them in between soccer and school, so I'll let you know how that goes.
Until next week!

This weekend I got a call from my cousin who was having a tea party and art sale at her house, and she asked me to make crumpets. I was pretty intrigued actually, I've seen the packaged crumpets in the fridge section next to the butter and cheese in my local grocery store, but I always kind of thought they were something you can't make at home, like goldfish. Ok... maybe not quite like that, but you get the idea.

This weekend I've also looked into starting Pro-Start, a high school culinary team of sorts, that would help to propel me into the culinary industry (hopefully to have a little bakery on a city corner), and it would expose me working in actual kitchen as well as culinary schools within the area. Its a great opportunity and I'm really hoping I have time for it this year.

Back to crumpets...

So, I looked them up, and they actually didn't seen that bad! Throw together a batter and put them on the griddle, a pancake of sorts really.

So, here you have it! They are best served with jam and/or tea, or you could get a little creative and throw down some peanut butter.


From: Cooking Chanel
You will need some metal rings to griddle the batter in, any size works depending on how big or small you want the crumpet.

For the Crumpets:
1 1/4 cups milk
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups water, lukewarm
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon honey
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
Nonstick spray

In a small saucepan, heat the milk until lukewarm. Combine the milk, flour, water, butter, honey, yeast, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on high speed until completely blended and a soft dough has formed, 2 minutes. Remove the bowl, cover with a clean cloth or plastic wrap and put in a warm spot until risen and bubbly, about 1 hour.
Lightly spray a cast-iron or nonstick skillet or griddle with nonstick spray and heat over medium heat, about 5 minutes. Spray the metal rings well with non-stick spray and place them in the pan or on the griddle. Fill each ring with a scant 1/4 cup of the batter.
Cook until the crumpets are set and the bottoms are lightly golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.
Carefully remove the rings, flip the crumpets and cook until completely cooked through and the bottoms are lightly golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes longer. While they are cooking, wash and spray the rings with nonstick spray for the next batch.

Let them cool slightly before serving. You may serve them warm or cold, pop them in the toaster of a 350 degree oven for 7 min to reheat.
Top with jam and serve with tea.

The recipe is great of breakfasts and the crumpets last up to week covered and in the fridge.
Until next week!

If you have looked much into food blogs, you might have noticed something probably along the lines of perfection. Shiny professional quality photos intermittently placed within the lines of a funny personal story make up the basis of a post. A beautifully written original recipe follows suit, with maybe another outstanding picture or two at the end.
Honestly it makes my head spin. How on earth can they never fail recipes? I know many of them are professionals in their craft, but for armatures like me I definitely have some recipes that don't/can't make it on my blog.

I'm still very much learning pastry and that calls for many failures coming out of my oven. Just two weeks ago I decided to take on puff pastry, a two day dough involving a ton of refrigerator time. After a large amount of rolling and refrigerating it was finally time to put it in the oven. The butter began to ooze from the pastry and onto the floor of the oven, causing quite a bit of soke. They came out looking a bit like this:

Which leads me to something I'm planning on doing for the rest of the summer. 
I'm planning on perfecting this dough. It took me three tries to successfully make both pate a choux (see: cream puffs) and macarons (see: raspberry macarons). So, I'm going to put in the work and re-create this dough until I'm successful at it.

So, unfortunately no recipe this week. However, I'm excited to get to work perfecting this dough and will hopefully churn out some great recipes for the rest of August.

I'm going to start my next batch of pastry tonight, so I'll keep you all updated!

The one thing better than getting a shiny new cookbook with crisp glossy pages, is getting an old dusty one.

I'm one of those people who walks into the book store, goes right to the cookbook section and could plop myself down in the middle of the isle and spend an hour or two picking out the perfect one. Each has its own unique style of photography as well as recipe type, information, and writing style.
This past week I had the opportunity to go through my great aunt's cookbooks, as she was getting rid of most of them. I took quite a bit of them, and have spent the past few days sticky-noting the recipes I like.

However, on top of giving me cookbooks, she gave me recipe cards. Multiple of them in fact, and they were old. They were actually family recipes, ones that she had gotten from her grandmother. I of course jumped at the advantage to make my great-great grandmother's pecan pie that she told me was  the best of its kind. (Let me also say that I completely back that statement after having tried it.)

So without further ado...

Pecan Pie

Makes 1 nine inch pie

For the Crust
1 1/4 cups flour
dash of salt
1/2 cup butter
2 to 4 Tbs. cold water

In a large bowl combine flour and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until the mixture resembles course crumbs. Add water a tablespoon at a time, and mix well after each addition until dough forms a clump. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

Flour work surface. Knead dough until it is soft enough to roll out. It is important that you do not  over knead and make the dough too soft. Roll out the dough into a 9 1/2 inch circle, and transfer the dough into the pie plate.

For the Filling
1 1/2 cups dark Karo syrup
4 well beaten eggs
4 1/2 Tbs. melted butter
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup pecans
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Combine all ingredients and pour into the raw pie crust. Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 min. Then reduce heat to 275 and bake for 50 minutes. Jiggle around the pie to see if it is done. It should be pretty wiggly, but not soupy. If the pie isn't set, bake about 5 minutes longer. Cool for about an hour before serving to allow the pie to set.

That's it! It's super simple. The crust took me about 15 minutes to get it made, and another 5 to roll it out. The filling took me about 10 minutes. It's honestly super good and most of the ingredients can be found right in your house.

Until net week!

So a bit of a middle of the week post today. I currently have a new obsession this summer that started from traveling abroad to Germany. I cannot get enough of Nutella, and the top shelf of the pantry always seems to be stocked with it these days.

I made Nutella cookies a while back, and I wanted to make a summer dessert with the ingredient as well. So, I decided to work it into an ice cream recipe.
The result was something quite different, but really good. When I used the condensed milk and the Nutella together, the thickness of the ice cream nearly doubled, creating a super creamy texture.

Just as great about this recipe is that is doesn't need a costly ice cream maker. Just pour it into a pan or a serving container or glasses, or whatever you want and pop it into the freezer overnight.

Nutella Ice Cream

Adapted from: A Sweet Simple Life
Yields a pint and a half

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup Nutella

In a large bowl, beat heavy cream and vanilla until thick peaks begin to form. In a medium bowl beat together condensed milk and Nutella. Fold 1/3 of the whipped cream mixture into the condensed milk mixture.  Fold the rest of the condensed milk into the whipped cream. Pout into a covered container and freeze overnight or at least 11 hours.

That's it! It's super easy, and a great little recipe for summer!

Wow, its been a while. Summer has gotten super busy for me, and most of my Sunday's are spent at my cabin without Internet connection. I have a line-up of posts coming this week though, and I wanted to start off with my favorite summer treat: peaches.

Peaches Melba is a wonderful dessert or snack for summer that was a great hit with all of the guests at our cabin last weekend. It's perfect for large or small group as the recipe is very easily tweaked for more or less servings.

The pictures this week aren't also great because they were literally fast snapshots while I was serving up the rest of the guests.

Peaches Melba

Adapted from:

For the Stewed Peaches:
6 ripe peaches
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 sprigs rosemary

Boil a large pot of water and prepare a large bowl of ice water. Place 3 peaches in the boiling water with a slotted spoon for about 15 seconds. Remove peach from the boiling water and move your thumb firmly across the skin. If the skin wrinkles and feels loose place that peach in the ice water. Repeat with the remaining two peaches. If the skin doesn't wrinkle return the peach to the boiling water for another 15 seconds. Peal the peaches with your fingers starting opposite from the stem. If the skin doesn't come off easily, place back in the boiling water to repeat the process.
Repeat this process with the other three peaches.

In a large sauce pan large enough to hold all peaches in a single layer, add water, sugar, and vanilla. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stop stirring and let the mixture boil for 5 minutes to create the syrup. Turn down the heat to medium low so the syrup gently simmers, and add rosemary and peaches in a single layer. Cook covered, about 20 min, turning the peaches with rubber spatulas a couple times in order not to mar them. Baste occasionally with the syrup.
(How much you want the peaches cooked is up to you. They shouldn't be mushed, but it really depends on what consistency you want. I usually go with: if you can make a deep scratch with a toothpick easily on the peach, its done.)

Place finished peaches in a casserole pan. Raise the heat under the syrup to medium, and boil for about 5 more minutes to make a thick syrup. Pour the syrup and the rosemary over the peaches, and cover the dish with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

For the Raspberry Sauce:
2 pints raspberries
1 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice

Mash the berries through a stainer to just gather the juice. Stir in sugar and lemon juice. Cover and place in refrigerator.

Cut peaches in half. Serve on a small plate or in a small dish with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce.

Whew! It looks like a lot, I know, but it only took me about an hour and a half. I had some not-so-ripe peaches and they didn't really work that well so be sure your peaches are ripe.

I will be posting another recipe soon sometime this week that was also a big hit at my cabin so check back later!

Just got back from Germany a few days ago, and the trip was amazing. Before I went I knew some German, but during the host family stay I realized I had so much to learn. The whole experience taught me more about the culture and language and it was the best.
Our family stay was around Ulm, and for the rest of the time we explored Munich. Both cities were laced with gorgeous historical buildings and, of course, amazing food.
(Of course, I have some pictures to share as well.)

This week's recipe was supposed to be from a cookbook I bought there. However, my egg white cookies flattened and turned to mush with the humidity. So I was sitting there with a pile of gooey egg whites and nothing to post about, but I quick found a recipe that interested me in an old cookbook my aunt gave me a while back.

First, a few trip pictures and then the recipe...

The castles were one of the best parts of the trip. This is a picture from the inside of Nymphenburg Palace which is just a bus ride from the Munich city center.

We also got the opportunity to tour the countryside and see the outskirts of the alps. Living in Minnesota where everything is flat it was breathtaking to see the massive mountains rise from the horizon.

The English Garden in Munich is one of the largest urban parks in the world, it was a great place to hang out and relax in between busy traveling days.

And now this week's recipe...
First, I wanted something frozen. It's been a while since I've done a frozen dessert, but I think the heat is demanding for one. This ice cream is actually mousse, so it requires no ice cream machine, and it is very light and airy. It's perfect for a middle of the day snack as well as a dessert.

Honey Ice Cream with Honey-Chocolate Sauce

Adapted from: Maida Heatter Book of Great Desserts
Serves 8 to 10

For the ice cream:
6 egg yolks
1 pound (1 1/2 cup honey)
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla

Place eggs into a medium bowl and whisk briefly. Beat honey into eggs and place bowl over a pot of simmering water. (This essentially creates a makeshift double boiler). Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture has reaches 185 degrees F. Remove from heat and place the bowl into an ice water bath. Add the vanilla and continuously stir until cool. 
Beat cream until stiff peaks form. Fold 1/3 of the cream into the honey mixture. Then, pour the honey mixture into the remaining cream and fold together. 
Pour into 2 medium sized loaf pan or a 9 x 13 square pan and freeze overnight.

For the chocolate sauce:
1 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 oz semi sweet chocolate, melted
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs grated orange rine

Combine both chocolates, honey, and cream in a medium sauce pan over medium heat and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat and let simmer for 2 to 3 minutes stirring occasionally. Stir in orange rind and rum. Pour into a bowl, cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

When ready to use remove the sauce from the fridge and place in the microwave for 20 seconds stirring at 5 second intervals until sauce has returned to a runny consistency.

So, this Sunday we threw my sisters high school grad party! We had a great time, and of course, had great food. I made mini cheesecakes that were a definite hit, and we had a made-to-order pasta bar. It was amazing to see all of the planning we put in come together and it was great to have a spectacular grad party.

Before, I get more into that, however, I'm taking a short 2 week break from The Sunday Pasty because I'm going back to Germany for vacation. I'm extremely excited, as I am going with an exchange program and will be living with a family there. I hope to get some amazing pictures to share with you all as well.

Anyways, the grad party was very Pinterest inspired, and we ended up having some good ideas I hadn't seen many other parties do before...

The picture above and below was out table setting and basic decorations. We found many different grad party graphic packages on Etsy that we bought and printed out ourselves.

We had a pasta bar where people picked out their personal favorite and we made it for them on the spot. I cooked most of the time with my cousin and we had a great time. Our sauces were homemade and they were a huge hit. (I also got super good at flipping all the together ingredients right in the pan!) 

We had three different cakes as well. I made the mini cheesecakes as well and they were perfect for the event.

I doubled this recipe and made 48 cheesecakes, however, I only had one cheesecake pan. This meant I had to sit there and wait 20 min for them to cook and then another 15 or so for them too cool before I could re-use the pan. If you are making more than one batch, I would highly recommend buying another mini cheesecake pan. 

Mini Cheesecakes

Yeilds 24
Adapted from: Food Network

For the Crust:
2 cups finely ground grahm crackers
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
In a mixing bowl, combine the ingredients with a fork until evenly moistened. Lightly coat the bottom and sides of a mini cheesecake pan with non-stick cooking spray. Put a small handful of curst in the bottom of each well and press down firmly with fingertips.

For the Filling:
1 pound cream cheese, 2 (8-ounce) blocks, softened
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 lemon, zested
1 tsp vanilla extract

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on low speed for 1 minute until smooth and free of any lumps. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and continue to beat slowly until combined. Gradually add sugar and beat for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla. Periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters. The batter should be well-mixed but not over beaten. Fill crevices almost all the way to the top. They will puff up a bit in the oven, but will fall when cooling. Place in the middle rack of an oven for 19 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before removing the cheesecakes by pressing a wooden spoon through the bottom. Cool completely and place in refrigerator for 4 hours.

The party altogether was a hit, and I hop you enjoy the cheesecakes. See you in 2 weeks!

Well, my day was actually quite interesting. My sister and I were loading her car with old pictures to make picture boards for her high school graduation party when I chipmunk decided to run through the door and into our house! We were freaking out for a few minutes because we had no idea how to run the little creature out, but eventually we scared it back outside. It was definitely a funny experience.

So, for baking related subjects: I have never really tried panna cotta. I made it once before, but I botched the recipe so it tasted not quite right. So, I was a little leery whether or not to try it again, but I found this great salted carmel recipe that I just couldn't pass up. I've actually been seeing this flavor everywhere: in chocolate, ice cream, panna cotta, cupcakes, you name it! It has become one of my favorites, and I always enjoy it!

Salted Carmel Panna Cotta

Recipe From, with edits to: Manuela Zangara
Serves: 5

For the Panna Cotta:
300 ml – 10 oz. cream
100 ml – 3.5 oz. milk
100 grams – 3.5 oz. sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp gelatin powder
2 Tbs water
1 pinch of sea salt

Place water in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin powder over it evenly without stirring. Let sit for 10 min.  Put the cream, milk and vanilla extract into a mug and heat it in the microwave for 40 seconds. Put the sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan and melt it on medium heat until it becomes a dark amber colour. Do not stir, but if lumps start forming swirl the pan around. 
Carefully add the warm cream mixture stirring it into the caramel and keep it on the fire (it may solidify at this point, so keep stirring and the caramel will melt again). Add the sea salt and mix. Add gelatin to the hot caramel cream. Mix well until completely incorporated.
Strain the mixture into glasses/moulds. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours (or overnight) before serving.

For the Garnish:
Hazelnuts, roasted and peeled
45 ml – 3 tbsp water
65 grams – 4 ½ tbsp sugar
1 pinch salt

Melt the sugar in the water over a medium flame and let it become a medium dark amber. Let the carmel sit for 3 to 5 minutes to let it begin to thicken. While the carmel is cooling place a large sheet of parchment paper on the floor directly underneath a counter top or table top. Get something heavy to weigh the toothpicks down so they wont fall off the edge of the surface.
Insert a toothpick in each hazelnut and dip them in the caramel.  Let the carmel drip off a little before placing the end of the toothpick on the counter top with the hazelnut over the edge. Place the heavy object on top of the toothpick to hold it in place. Continue to dip until the desired amount of garnishes is reached. Allow each garnish to cool for 5 min.
Remove the toothpick and put the caramel coated hazelnut on top of the set panna cotta.
***It is important to understand that the caramelized sugar will eventually melt. If it is humid or hot the melting process will be sped up. The garnish should be made only about 2 hours in advance. However, for best results they should be used immediately after cooling.

Until next week!

Talk about a great Memorial Day weekend to kick off the start of warm sunny weather!
I was at my cabin this weekend with family and friends, so it was a perfect time to sit back and bake. Up at our cabin, we have limited supplies so its always interesting to see what kind of things double as a cake turntable or a stand mixer.

We made three different desserts this week: oreo brownies, rhubarb crisp, and a tiramisu cake.
I wanted to make a light cake to eat during the warm months, and the cake version of the classic tiramisu certainly doesn't disappoint.

Tiramisu Cake

From (with edits to) : Call Me Cupcake

For the sponge cake:
3 eggs
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
50 grams butter
3 dl all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour two round round 6 inch (I used an 8 inch pan, but barely had enough zabaglione) cake pans.
Whisk eggs and sugar until white and fluffy. Heat the milk and butter in a sauce pan until the butter has melted. Gradually add the milk mixture to the batter. Mix the flour and baking powder in another bowl and then add it to the batter. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
Put the pans on the lower rack in the oven and bake for about 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Let pans cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto parchment paper. Let cool for a while and then cut both cakes in the middle.

For the coffee marsala syrup:
1/2 cup strong coffee or espresso
1/4 cup marsala wine
1/4 cup sugar
Make the strong coffee or espresso. Mix with marsala and sugar in a saucepan. Let boil for about 4-5 minutes. Pour into a bowl and let cool completely.

For the zabaglione with mascarpone:
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 tup mascarpone cheese (250 g)
1 cup cream + 2 tbsp sugar
Beat egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Put the bowl over simmering water and add vanilla. Mix constantly until the mixture starts to thicken (this can take a while, about 10 minutes). Be careful so you don't make scrambled eggs! Remove from heat and let cool. Strain the mixture to get rid of cooked egg bits. Put in fridge until completely cold.
Mash the mascarpone cheese in a separate bowl until soft and creamy (do not whip, that will ruin the texture)
In another bowl, whip the cream and 2 tbsp sugar until soft peaks form.
Mix the mascarpone and whipped cream together (by hand, but don't overwork it). Add the cold zabaglione. Put the bowl in the fridge for 1-2 hours.
For the Assembly:
Cocoa powder
Grated milk chocolate (about 100 gram)
Spoon a few tablespoons of coffee syrup on each cake layer (on the cut side). Put the first layer on a cake stand and spread mascarpone cream on it. Powder cocoa on top.
Repeat steps 2 & 3 until all layers are used.  
Garnish with grated chocolate. Let the cake stand in the fridge for a while to make it more stable.

(I didn't use the cocoa powder, because I wanted to bring out a more vanilla flavor, but a more traditional tiramisu would use it.)

It's a very nice day today for Mother's Day, and I decided to not procrastinate on getting my mother a gift this year. I had everything planned out and ready by the time this morning rolled around, and I was excited to try a techniques I've been seeing all over Pinterest lately. Well, two techniques, one baking related, and one not so much.

The first was idea was making a card with crayon drip art. (Check out some really cool examples here.) So, I taped crayons to a canvas and started to melt them with a hair dryer, as most instructions tell you to do. However, when I did this it started spraying hot wax everywhere but the canvas. So there I was covered in colorful wax, with only a minimal amount actually on the card. I ended up deciding to continue on (I have no idea what kind of logic convinced me to do so) until I got enough on the card. Let's just say, I spent a long time afterwords scraping wax off of the floor. I did, however, get a very nice looking card out of the mess.

The second (and far more successful) gift was baking related. It's called a cupcake bouquet, and I thought it would be a great gift for my mother for Mother's Day. They are simple to make and are amazing center pieces for tables and dessert tables.

Cupcake Bouquet DIY

You will need:

I made these chocolate cupcakes with a ganache filling from Brown Eyed Baker.
But instead of chocolate icing I used this raspberry butter creme recipe from Laura in the Kitchen.
And they turned out heavenly, so I would highly recommend them.

If you aren't sure how to frost cupcakes like roses, check out this post or this video!

First, place the Styrofoam ball into the flower pot. Then place toothpicks in places your think you will want cupcakes. You will most likely move most of them around later, but do this just to get a general idea of where you want them to go.
Place toothpicks near the bottom of the Styrofoam at a 45 degree angle so the cupcakes won't slide off.

Next, place another toothpick next to the ones you already placed so two toothpicks will hold one cupcake. Carefully slide the cupcakes onto the toothpicks.

Cut approx. 4 inch squares out of the green tissue paper. You will need anywhere from 20 to 40 squares depending on your cupcake placement. The more uniform they are the better your arrangement will look.

Once all the squares are cut, fan fold them, pinch the end, and tape the pinched end shut. The trifold should be pretty loose for a better looking "leaf".

Finally, arrange these paper leaves around the cupcakes. You may have to tape some of them, but others you can slide under the cupcakes and they will hold just fine.

So there is your finished product! Its super fun to make and everyone was very impressed.

A special thanks also to my mom as well for everything she has done for me!

Until next week! (oh yea and my bad not getting this post out until 9pm, so Mother's day is coming to a close, but better late then never!)

Last week got busy, so I didn't post anything, but I'm here this week with an amazing recipe for everyone!

For two consecutive weeks now I have made things with Nutella, but even though I find it hard to believe, some people don't like it. These cookies are the perfect medium. They bring in a subtle flavor of Nutella, but it isn't very strong.

Another thing about these cookies is they stay super soft and moist even 3 days after they are made. I know I'm always disappointed when the fresh out of the oven, gooey chocolate chip cookies I made get rock hard within the hour.

Nutella Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies

From: diethood
Yields: 3 dozen

For the cookies:
2 sticks butter, soft
1/2 cup Nutella
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 bag (12-ounces) white chocolate chips, divided
1 bag (5-ounces) dried cranberries, divided

Preheat oven to 350. Set out an ungreased cookie sheet. In a large mixing bowl, combine butter and Nutella; mix until creamy. Add light brown sugar, sugar, and baking soda; continue to beat until combined. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and continue to mix until thoroughly combined.

Add flour in batches; beat each batch until combined. You may have to stir in the last batch of flour. Stir in 1/2-bag of white chocolate chips and 1/2 bag of dried cranberries. Drop by rounded spoons on prepared cookie sheets, 2 inches apart. 

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, or until edges are just browned. Cool on cookie sheets for 2 minutes then transfer to wire rack. Decorate with the rest of the white chocolate chips and dried cranberries as they cool. Cool completely before serving.

Fresh mango, hints of lime, and no ice cream maker necessary. Get ready for summer with this simple sorbet recipe!

Mango Lime Sorbet

Makes about 1 pint
Adapted from: Cooking Light

2 pounds very ripe or overripe mangoes *
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Pinch of course salt
1 1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon grated lime zest (optional topping)

Peel mango and cut flesh away from the seed. Cut mango flesh into medium sized diced pieces. Freeze mango pieces on a cookie sheet for at least 5 hours.
Meanwhile, make the simple syrup by placing sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool completely.

Take mangoes out of freezer and allow to soften for 20 minutes. Place mangoes and salt in a food processor and puree until smooth. Pulse in simple syrup and juice. Top wit lime zest (optional), and serve immediately.

*It is very important that the mangoes you buy are ripe. If they aren't the sorbet is going to be clumpy and will not come together properly. Be sure to buy mangoes ahead to of time in case the store doesn't have fully ripe ones.


For sure my favorite meal is breakfast. It's one of the greatest excuses to eat plenty of sugar. Fruit, baked goods, chocolate, it's all packed into breakfast.
So I had some leftover chia seeds from last weeks recipe, chia pudding, and I thought I would whip up another item using them. I did a quick Pinterest search to come up with these great breakfast muffins that would be perfect for any morning.

I used this recipe from Cook Republic, head over there to check it out.

For the recipe however, I used regular flour and regular sugar in place of spelt flour and coconut sugar, and it turned out amazing. I would recommend this method so you don't have to spend extra money on ingredient you probably won't have in your house.

Until next week!
There is way too much cake in my house. There was two last week and two this week if I count shattered one that stuck to the pan.
That brings me to my next point. This week I had some major issues trying to get the cake out of the pan. First, I used nonstick cooking spray, and I tried then buttering and flouring it. Both didn't work very well however, the butter and flour worked better.
This brings me to a point: parchment paper is a must for flat bottomed pans. Based on what I have been reading butter the bottom, then a layer of parchment paper, and the butter and flour the parchment, should work best.

However, the recipe this week is a great cake for any occasion. It's pretty light, and has a great amount of flavor.

Vanilla Blackberry Mascarpone Cake

From with edits to: Erica's Sweet Tooth
Yields 1 9 inch cake

For the cake:
2-1/4 cups cake flour
1 cup milk, at room temperature
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 tsp almond extract
2 tsp vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into cubes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter 2 9" cake pans. Place a layer of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan, and butter and flour the top of the parchment.
In a medium bowl, combine milk, egg whites, almond extract, and vanilla extract and beat with a fork or whisk until blended. In the bowl of an electric mixer on low speed, mix the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the cubes of butter a few at a time, continuing to beat on low speed for another 2-3 minutes.
Slowly add all but 1/2 cup of the milk to the flour mixture and increase speed to medium for 1-2 minutes. Add the rest of the milk and continue to beat for another minute. Pour batter evenly among the cake pans. Bake the cake for about 27 to 30 minutes and the cupcakes for 20-23, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pans for 20 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the blackberry mascarpone filling:
8 oz mascarpone cheese
1/2 pint blackberries
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the mascarpone cheese and blackberries on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar slowly, add the vanilla, and then beat for another 2-3 minutes. 

For the vanilla buttercream:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 to 4 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time and beat well until completely mixed. Add the vanilla and continue to beat for another 1-2 minutes until smooth. Add the milk 1 tablespoon at a time, until the desired consistency is reached. (You want it to be easily movable, but still thick.)

For assembly:
Level your cake layers and transfer the bottom layer to a cake circle or cake plate. With a large round tip, pipe an outline of vanilla buttercream on top of the layer and then fill the circle in with the blackberry mascarpone filling. The buttercream creates a nice dam for the filling so it doesn't leak out.
Stack the other layer on top and apply a crumb coat of buttercream frosting to the entire cake. Place in the fridge for 5-10 minutes, then complete your final layer of frosting.

Here is a video on crumb coating if you need some instruction.

Hope you enjoy!
Until next week!

It's staring to become spring, a very welcome season change. A few days ago, as well, we had an amaryllis plant that just bloomed for the first time. I thought I would share it just because it is such a beautiful flower.

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to take a cooking class at a great cooking school in Minneapolis called Kitchen Window. The class was cake decorating, and I learned a ton! Of, course my piping isn't super great yet, and trying to smooth out a cake just makes me put more craters in it, but I am definitely coming along.
I learned some basic borders, flowers, and designs to do with the spatula. Then, the class continued on with advanced flowers, proper filling techniques, and how to properly pour fudge onto a cake to get a perfect drizzled edge. I loved working with the instructor who was very knowledgeable and really helped me with some issues that I had during the class with piping.

But, if this seems interesting to you, I would highly recommend taking a cake decorating class as a great jumping off point into cake design.
There are plenty of online classes too you can sign up for, if you can't make it to a class!

Here if one of the cakes I made during the class:

I only had time for some quick snapshots this week, cause it has been very busy.
Until next week!