Pink Lemonade Cake

Let’s be honest, no one eats lemon stuff in the winter, unless you live in the tropics and then, well, F- you.

So to celebrate this especially global warming-friendly summer, I thought I’d make King Arthur Flour’s Pink Lemonade Cake.

It’s everything it sounds like: pink, lemon juice…I guess that’s it. BUT the cake is extremely moist and not overly sour, which I like. And by adding the lemon juice in a separate mix before the milk, the batter doesn’t curdle.

What’s also pretty cool is that the buttercream is quick and easy [that’s what she said] and uses King Arthur Flour’s Lemon Juice Powder, which stops the frosting from becoming too acidic and runny. It’s honestly one of the best baking purchases I’ve made to-date…though everything will now be covered in lemonade buttercream, because what the hell am I going to do with lemon juice powder? Get ready for a beautiful blend of cavities and diabetes, friends of mine.

Another plus? This cake was incredibly easy to make. In fact, I made it while also watching Beverly Hills Cop and crushing some watermelon beer…because nothing says avoiding heat stroke in the summer like watching 80s movies in a pink cupcake apron while drinking $20 4-pack specialty brews. I would ask if this is just me, but I know it’s everyone. Right guys…right? 😉

pinklemon2[Makes around 6-7 double layered mini cakes or one double layered 8″ or 9″ cake. To make them mini cakes, use your biscuit cutter to cut out the rounds from 9″ cakes.]

Equipment:

  • Electric or stand mixer
  • (2) 8″ or 9″ round cake pans
  • Round biscuit cutter (optional; but you’ll need one if you want to make these tiny cakes. I got mine here.)
  • Paper rounds for your tiny cakes (optional; I got mine here.)
  • One small and one large star piping tip, and pastry bags (optional)

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 2 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbl. cake enhancer (optional. Find here at KAF-it makes cakes stay fresher, longer. I know that sounds like a commercial. I can’t help it.)
  • 3/4 cup (12 Tbl.) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup milk
  • Red or pink soft gel paste food coloring (I used a soft pink)

Frosting:

  • 3/4 cup (12 Tbl.) unsalted butter, softened
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbl. meringue powder (optional and for stability)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice powder (available here)
  • 4 cups confectioner’s sugar, SIFTED!
  • 2-3 Tbl. milk
  • Yellow soft gel paste food coloring (optional)

Bake the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease and flour your 2 pans. Line the bottom of your pans with parchment. Mix together the dry ingredients. Mix in the butter until evenly crumbly-about 3-4 min.

Add the egg whites one at a time, then the whole egg, beating and scraping the bowl after each addition.

Add the lemon juice and beat to mix thoroughly. Add the milk and beat to mix thoroughly. Stir in the food coloring by drop until your desired shade is reached.

Pour the batter into your prepared pans and bake 25-35 min., until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 min., then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.

Make the frosting: Beat together the butter, salt, and meringue powder until butter is thoroughly whipped and almost white in color. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until light and fluffy.

Buttercream beauty [*Note: The little edible lemon sugar decorations are also from KAF and you can find them here.]

pinklemon

Pretty ladies

pinklemon4

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Fruit Slice Cookies

When I was about 3 feet smaller and 24 years younger, one of my favorite treats was going to the mall so I could ravage some fruit slice jelly candy sold from a stand-alone kiosk. I was allowed to get one of every color, except I always doubled up on either cherry or grape, because, honestly, who the hell likes lemon? [My mother does, but she doesn’t count because she’s foreign]

fruit-slicesThat’s why when I saw that a clever baker devised a cookie that looks just like fruit slice jellies I turned into a 5 year-old again, rushing to shove massive amounts of refined sugar into my mouth.

I’m visiting my family in Ohio again this week, so I had to somewhat appease the masses and stick to a citrus base for these sugar-cookie like slices. Inside these orange and yellow throwbacks are lots of citrus extracts, zests, and vanilla, which means you can’t go wrong.

A house with a view.

homeMy Aunt Judy’s lake.

home5We have our own sense of humor…

home4…it’s an acquired taste.

home3My dad likes to get his point across.

home2So did I start begging for a nightlight again after I baked these? Get confused between peacocks and turkeys? Eat grape-flavored toothpaste and turn my barbies into shorn amputees again? No. But am I currently buying fruit slices from Amazon like an adult badass? Hmm… 😉

slicecookie4Because I’m not an a–hole who plagiarizes from other bloggers, you can find the recipe for the fruit slice cookies here: http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/citrus-slice-cookies/b0ee94b9-5c7d-408d-b613-1b06ab9804f5

And you can find a step-by-step how-to here: http://www.bettycrocker.com/Tips/TipsLibrary/Baking-Tips/Sunny-Citrus-Slice-and-Bake-Cookies?nicam2=Email&nichn2=Core&niseg2=BC&nicreatID2=BC_06_13_2013

slicecookiesHere are a few tips I found after making these:

  • If you add too much extra flour the dough becomes too chalky-tasting. If the dough is still sticky after the recommended 3 cups, instead of adding more flour, simply chill the dough for an hour or so before adding the food coloring and extracts.
  • Make sure your logs are round and not square-you might need to re-roll to get them round after sitting in the fridge for a while.
  • The sanding sugar won’t stick to cold dough very well, so you have to press the sugar into the dough firmly.

slicecookie2

Momofuku Milk Bar Crack Pie

There’s a growing trend in restaurants and food chains these days to try and make their food as “homemade” looking as possible [*read: plain, inconsistent, and usually ugly]. Why? Because people are rebelling against processed foods, and for good reason. But it’s not just Domino’s and McDonald’s who’ve noticed this.

During Thanksgiving a friend and I were distributing some cupcakes I had made: One was a gingerbread cupcake and one was a chocolate peppermint cupcake. I was a little ashamed of the gingerbread batch because the frosting wasn’t that stiff, so I just threw on a sugar decoration. However, I worked my A** OFF getting the peppermint frosting to look like the best @^%$_&@! candy cane anyone’s freaking seen.

Look how I buried the gingerbread in the background.

thanksgivingCan you guess what happened? That’s right: No one touched my beautiful peppermint lovelies. Everyone wanted the frumpy gingerbread. My friend, noticing that I was going from pouty to full-on bitch face, explained to me that times are a’ changin’ and no one wants to eat food-colored processed-looking foods…no matter if they’re TEDIOUSLY BAKED FROM SCRATCH. [Clearly I never think about this experience. Ever.]

And though I still turn up my nose at things people think are good just because they’re crappy looking [yes, I’m looking at you Mama June] there’s one place that gets it right: Milk Bar.

Milk Bar became famous for many reasons, all of them legit, but the one that shot the tiny dessert shop into fame was the creation of Christina Tosi’s Crack Pie.

I had seen this pie in photos and I’ll be honest-it looked like sh-t run over twice. “Who would eat this?” I puzzled, “It doesn’t even have fruit in it!”

Ahhhh. But then I went to NYC for my birthday in February this year and sampled a little of everything from Milk Bar that I’ve obsessed over for months. And even though I had one of the largest, most expensive food babies the city had to offer, I had to see what all these critics and magazines were raving about.

HO-LY FU-K! I think I blacked out because before I knew it the pie was gone and I was whimpering in distress “Where did it go?!”

So without further ado, I bring you Milk Bar’s Crack Pie, straight from her cookbook Milk. [*Note: It’s important that you use this recipe from her actual cookbook. Many of the recipes for Crack Pie, including those in foodie magazines, are incorrect-they leave out 1-2 critical “secret” ingredients that Tosi only included in her cookbook. And yes, I know what you’re thinking. And no, it’s not actual crack ;)]

crackpie5This recipe makes enough for 2 pies, so I fed one to my coworkers, who, just like Tosi’s bakers, kept going back for seconds.

In the words of Mama June, “It don’t have to be fancy to be good.” 😉

crackpie8[Makes 2 (10-inch) pies; each serves 10-12]

Equipment:

  • Stand mixer
  • Parchment or a Silpat
  • Quarter sheet pan or larger
  • Food processor
  • Spice grinder [optional]

Ingredients:

Oat Cookie Crust:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, rm. temp.
  • 1/3 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 Tbl. white sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/8 tsp. baking powder
  • Pinch of baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk powder [This is just nonfat milk powder you can find in any grocery store]
  • 1/4 cup corn powder [Corn powder is NOT the same as corn flour or cornmeal. Tosi’s corn powder is made by grinding-this is where I used my spice grinder-freeze dried yellow corn, which you can find on Amazon. DO NOT skip this ingredient; it gives the pie its unique texture and flavor!]
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 8 egg yolks [DO NOT get any whites mixed in with your yolks, since this will decrease the density of your pie. Separate the yolks from the whites by sifting the whites through your fingers].

This is what the corn powder should look like.

crackpieFinal prep:

  • 1 Tbl. tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 4 Tbl. unsalted butter, melted
  • Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Make the oat crust:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2-3 min. until fluffy and pale yellow. Scrap down sides of the bowl. On low speed, add the yolk and increase the speed to medium-high and beat 1-2 min., until the sugar granules fully dissolve and the mix is a pale white.

On low speed, add the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix for a min. until the dough comes together and any remnants of dry ingredients have been incorporated. Pam-spray a quarter sheet pan and line with parchment or just use a Silpat. Plop the dough in the center of the pan and, with a spatula, spread it out until it’s 1/4-inch thick. The dough won’t cover the entire pan; this is OK.

crackpie4Bake for 15 min. or until it resembles an oatmeal cookie-caramelized on top and puffed slightly but set firmly. Cool completely. [*Note: Wrapped in plastic, the cookie will keep in the fridge up to 1 week]

Line your pie shells:

Put the oat cookie, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse until the cookie is broken down into a wet sand. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl, add the butter, and knead the butter and cookie mix until moist enough to form a ball [*Note: If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 1-1 1/2 Tbl. butter and knead it in].

Wet sand crust.

crackpie2Divide the oat crust between 2 (10-inch) pie shells, lining the shells evenly [*Note: wrapped in plastic, the shells will keep in the fridge up to 2 weeks and at rm. temp. 5 days].

crackpie3Put both shells on a sheet pan.

Make the filling:

Combine the sugar, brown sugar, milk powder, corn powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on LOW speed until evenly blended.

Add the melted butter and paddle for 2-3 min. on LOW until all the dry ingredients are moist.

Add the heavy cream and vanilla and continue mixing on LOW for 2-3 min. until any white streaks from the cream have disappeared. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Add the yolks, paddling them into the mix just to combine [*Note: Be careful not to aerate the mix, but be certain the mix is glossy and homogenous. Mix on low speed until it is. Filling can be kept up to 1 week stored in the fridge in an airtight container].

Bake the pie:

Divide the filling evenly between the 2 crusts. The filling should fill them 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 15 min. only! The pies should be golden brown on top but still very jiggly.

Open the oven door and reduce the oven temp. to 325 degrees. When the oven reaches this temp. [after roughly 5 min.], close the door and bake the pies for 5 min. longer. The pies should still be jiggly in the center but not around the outer edges [*Note: It took me more like 10-15 min. to get this consistency, so just keep checking].

Gently take the pies out and transfer to a rack to cool to rm. temp. Then freeze your pies for at least 3 hours, or overnight, to condense the filling. Take out of the freezer and let sit in the fridge a few hours [Well-wrapped, the pies will keep 5 days in the fridge and up to 1 month in the freezer].

Serve the pie cold! Decorate with sifted confectioner’s sugar if desired.

So lovely.

crackpie7Come here, beautiful.

crackpie10No really…COME HERE!

crackpie6

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Lots of important foodie stuff has been happening lately:

1. Dunkin Donuts has created a glazed doughnut bacon & egg sandwich. Weirdly enough, it has less calories than their original b-fast sandwich. This is clearly a sign that Jesus does, in fact, exist, and is currently performing miracles. Next up: Zero-calorie chili cheese fries. Right, J-Dog…right?

2. It seems the frumpy little doughnut is getting it’s time in the spotlight! Cronuts are the new “it” dessert, combining a croissant with a doughnut…if the French ever stopped guzzling rosé to unpack the guillotines from storage, it would be over this vulgar perversion of their beloved pastry. I am also going to start combining desserts just to f-k with names. For instance, I will soon create the bronut: brownie doughnut.

And that brings me to #3: Anyone who tells you they don’t like dessert always likes what they consider non-dessert desserts, like carrot cake.

And since there seems to be a growing movement of people hating sugar and butter, which I attribute to a secret race of aliens slowly invading humanity as their hosts, I’ve been making a lot of carrot crap, lately. Thankfully, it tastes damn delicious.

Now, this is a recipe I’ve posted before here, so I’m kind of lazy this week, but I promise the next couple of weeks will have some new stuff…if I don’t find myself currently living inside a Dunkin Donuts 😉

[*Note: If you want to make the carrot cake recipe for about 24 cupcakes, I’d halve the recipe listed in the link. Otherwise the recipe makes about 48.]

carrotcupcakes3All in a row

carrotcupcakesWhy are all carrot cake decorations just a carrot? I rebelled and threw on some edible orange dust.

carrotcupcakes2I get bored sometimes

carrotcupcakes4

Lemon Macaroon Pie

There are a few things I like to take advantage of in summer besides frozen margaritas: peaches, corn, and lemons. If I could make a peach corn lemon sugar masterpiece I would, but I haven’t had that many margaritas.

One of my favorite things to eat in the summer is lemon bars, and one of my favorite things I like to listen to lately is reggae. So in the spirit of eating things that will ensure you’ll never actually be able to squeeze your chunk monster body into a swimsuit, I bring you the very tropical-inspired Lemon Macaroon Pie!

Now I know 70% of you are thinking: “Ew. Coconut.” But trust me, you’ll like this coconut, deliciously wrapped up in a creamy lemon pie body with a sugary lemon bar-esque top. This pie has all kinds of little hidden flavor gems-like almond extract, citrus preserves, and vanilla whipped cream-and the crust really does melt in your mouth.

I’m not going to lie. I tried on last summer’s bikini while listening to Bob Marley…then I ate a piece of pie to forget the whole experience.

Bikini: 0. Pie: 1.

lemonpie5[Slightly adapted from Bon Appétit Desserts. Makes a 9-inch pie. *Note: If you want to serve the pie the day of, you’ll need to start EARLY in the morning.]

Equipment:

  • Dough blender or food processor
  • Pie weights or beans
  • Electric mixer
  • 9-inch pie dish
  • Pastry brush [optional]
  • Large star piping tip [optional]
  • Sifter [optional]

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/3 cup cake flour
  • 1 Tbl. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 Tbl. chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 Tbl. CHILLED non-hydrogenated solid veggie shortening, cut into small pieces
  • 3 Tbl. + more ice water

Filling:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/4 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbl. unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 Tbl. finely grated lemon peel
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract

Topping:

  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp. powdered sugar + 1/4 cup
  • 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract [I like to use clear vanilla to keep the whipped cream super white]
  • Thin slice of lemon
  • 1/4 cup marmalade

Make the crust: Blend both flours, sugar, and salt with fork or food processor. Add butter and shortening and use a dough blender or food processor until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 3 Tbl. ice water and blend with disposable glove-covered hands or processor until moist clumps form, adding more water if it’s too dry. Gather dough into a ball, flatten into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill at least 1 hour. [Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Let soften slightly at rm. temp. before rolling out.]

Bake the crust: Position oven rack in bottom third of oven. Preheat to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch glass or ceramic pie dish. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to prepared dish and trim the dough [either you can trim the overhang to 1/2 inch, then fold under and crimp; or you can trim the dough, save the scraps, re-roll out and make little cut-out decorations like I did].

lemonpie2Line the crust with foil and fill with pie weights or beans. Bake until set and edge is pale golden, about 20 min. Remove foil and weights and cool crust completely in dish on a rack. *Maintain oven temp. and rack position!

Make the filling: Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs, yolks and salt in a large bowl to blend. Add sugar and beat until mixture is thick and fluffy-about 2 min. Beat in coconut, whipping cream, lemon juice, melted butter, lemon peel, and vanilla and almond extracts. Pour filling into crust.

Bake until filling is golden and set, about 30-40 min. Cool pie completely on rack, then chill until cold, about 3 hours. [Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep chilled.]

lemonpieMake the topping: Melt the marmalade with a little bit of water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Once completely melted, use a pastry brush to brush the crust decorations/rim with marmalade.

lemonpie3Sift 1/4 cup powdered sugar [you don’t have to use all of it-I didn’t] over the center of the pie.

In a large bowl, beat the cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla until STIFF peaks form. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip with whipped cream and pipe around the border of the pie.

Garnish the center with a large lemon slice. Brush slice with marmalade.

lemonpie4Beautiful inside and out

lemonpie6Profile

lemonpie8Full frontal

lemonpie7

White and Brown Spring Cupcakes

We’re not even going to talk about how long it’s been since I posted anything, because it’s spring and time for new beginnings and better time management!

I recently read an article on cupcakes, saying that this “trend” is fading fast and being replaced by things like rustic [read: ugly] pies and macarons. If that’s the way things are swinging, so be it. But NOTHING will ever tear me away from bite-size cake…okay, maybe cheeseburgers.

The recipe for these fancy ladies is nothing I haven’t posted already, and you can find the chocolate cake recipe here and the vanilla frosting recipe here (I just sub the peppermint extract for clear vanilla extract). I also thought I’d throw in some tidbits of real life [excuses for being blog lazy].

Miss Maman came to visit for a few weeks-we were having fun as usual 🙂

missmamanI tried some amazing dim sum after boycotting it for almost a decade.

dimsumA lot of eating happens in my life. A LOT.

meSometimes outdoor markets happen too…for outdoor eating. (With Salwa and Amy)

amy_salwaDrinking happens, too. (With Shana, Salwa, Ebonee, Debbie, and Jess)

ladiesIt’s more fun to drink when you’re in a crazy hat.

me_salwaReally, I just wanted to let everyone know I’m alive, that I will be posting more regularly, and to stop my lovingly annoying friends from saying “Soooooo the blog? That still happening? Maybe you can, like, not go out tonight and post something.”

You know you need to re-invest in sweatpants/fug over-sized t-shit time when your early 20-something friends tell you to take it down a notch, or at least get your hungover booty back in the kitchen 😉

sarahcupcakes4Coming together in harmony. All decorations were made using gum paste.

sarahcupcakes2

Profile.

sarahcupcakesAll in a row.

sarahcupcakes3

Chocolate Peanut Butter Buttercream Cupcakes

I wish I could say that I’m a huge chocolate peanut butter combo fan, but I’m actually more of a vanilla and rainbow sprinkles kind of girl. That being said, when you haven’t eaten something for a long time, I think your mind/palate start to crave what it considers exotic.

A girl can only eat so much yogurt.

bfastAnd if I’m going to make something only once every few years, it better be worth it…and these cupcakes don’t disappoint. Stuffed inside the moist chocolate cake are bits of gooey semisweet chocolate chunks, and the peanut butter buttercream is light and creamy-not at all that cloying stickiness peanut butter icing sometimes has.

Even better? The cupcakes can be made in just one bowl and it doesn’t even need beaters. The buttercream you ask? Well, okay, it’s a tad more involved, but still much easier than classic buttercreams. It’s worth the smidge of effort.

And in the words of my dad who helped me eat one immediately: “I love the aftertaste of this cupcake…almost like a fine wine.” Ah yes, if anyone can turn cupcakes into a refined ordeal, it’s my family 😉

chocpeanut4[Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit; makes approx. 12 cupcakes]

Equipment:

  • An electric mixer
  • A metal bowl that fits over a pot of water or a double boiler
  • Whisk

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 oz. finely chopped semisweet chocolate

For the buttercream: [note: this is NOT a pipe-able frosting. Think of this more like a meringue than a stiff buttercream]

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Egg whites of 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 6 Tbl. chilled, unsalted butter cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped semisweet chocolate
  • 1/4 cup chopped dry roasted peanuts

chocpeanut5For the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with liners. Whisk flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Add oil, vanilla, and 1 1/4 cups water and whisk until smooth. Fold in chopped chocolate. Evenly fill liners and bake 20-25 min.

Nice cracked top

chocpeanutFor the buttercream: Combine sugar and egg whites in a medium metal bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar dissolves and mixture is hot to the touch, 3-4 min. Remove from heat.

Using an electric mixer, beat on high speed until cooler and thick, 5 min. Beat in vanilla, then peanut butter. With mixer running, add butter pieces a little at a time, beating THOROUGHLY to blend between additions. Season with salt.

Frost cupcakes and sprinkle with chopped chocolate and peanuts. Keep a few days in an airtight container at room temp., then refrigerate up to a few more days.

chocpeanut6Mmmm. You can see the gooey bits.

chocpeanut3