Sunday, February 26, 2017

coffee chiffon rose cake

It's my mom's birthday next week, and I'll probably be making her another coffee chiffon cake! The past few years I've been making her some form of coffee-flavored cake, so I think I'll continue the tradition this year as well!

This was the cake that I made for her last year - light and fluffy coffee chiffon cake, filled with espresso whipped cream. I started by baking up three 8-inch layers of coffee chiffon, which I filled with freshly whipped cream that was flavored with an espresso paste (espresso powder mixed with a few tablespoons of hot water).

After the layers were filled, I covered the top and sides with the espresso whipped cream, smoothing it out with an offset spatula.

Then came the fun part - decorating it! I've done several piped rose cakes in the past, a method first pioneered by the talented I Am Baker, and since I had yet to make one for my mom, I thought this would be the perfect time.

The technique is so simple, yet comes out so pretty! I filled a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip, and piped large rosettes around the sides of the cake. Then I piped large rosettes on the top of the cake, starting from the outside, until the entire top was filled.

There were still some open spots afterwards, so I just used the same large star tip to fill the gaps in. And then it was done! So easy!

This is still one of my favorite ways to decorate a cake, not only because it's fast and easy, but also because the effect is always so pretty.


Stay tuned to see how this years cake will turn out!


 Happy Birthday, Mom!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

dark chocolate tartlets with pretzel crust and rose peppercorn sea salt

A few weeks ago, we invited our neighbors over for a casual last-minute BBQ, and as we were prepping the food I realized that we didn't have anything for dessert! I instantly thought about using the adorable baking and dessert salts that Expertly Chosen had sent me a couple of months ago! I thought a simple and quick dark chocolate tart would be the perfect thing to use them on, and since I love dark chocolate-covered pretzels (especially the ones at Trader Joe's!), I decided to make a simple pretzel crust to go with it.

With a quick online search, I found this pretzel crust recipe from Betty Crocker, which sounded perfect! So I ground up the pretzels in my food processor with sugar, and then poured in melted butter to bring it together. (Although in the future, I would probably add a little bit more butter to hold it together better).

Then I scooped the pretzel mixture into mini tart tins, and pressed it into the bottom and sides of the tins. (I used 4-inch tart tins, and was able to get 9 mini tart crusts out of the pretzel mixture). I baked them at 350F for about 10 minutes just to set them a bit, and then set them aside to cool.

For the chocolate ganache filling, I used this recipe from Sweetapolita (just the ganache part), except I had to double the recipe to be able to fill all 9 tarts. Then I sprinkled on my flavored salts.

For the BBQ, I had sprinkled on the "espresso salt", which went nicely with the dark chocolate. But the next day, I had two leftover tarts that I hadn't added the baking salt to yet, and I thought I would try another flavor. I ended up choosing the "rose peppercorn salt", mainly because I thought the dried rose petals were so pretty (and also how cute would these rose petal tarts be for Valentine's Day?)!

The rose peppercorn salt gave the tarts a delicately flowery yet peppery flavor, which also went quite well with the dark chocolate. And honestly, I think every one of the salts would have paired well!

With this specific set, the options include:

Vanilla Cardamom Salt
Espresso Salt
Rose Peppercorn Salt
Hibiscus Salt
Orange Ginger Salt
Vanilla Lavendar Salt

Thanks again for the baking and dessert salts, Expertly Chosen! I can't wait to try them all!