Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Tall Cake

Rhubarb syrup and filling
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup water
1 tsp lemon juice
1 lb rhubarb, cut into 1-in pieces
2 whole star anise
8 medium basil leaves
3 3-in thin strips of lemon zest
1/4 tsp vanilla

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 cups sugar
8 oz. unsalted butter, softened
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla

1 pint fresh strawberries, divided
8 oz. crème fraîche
2/3 cup heavy cream

Prepare the rhubarb:
Combine the sugar and water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil to dissolve sugar. Add the remaining ingredients except the vanilla. Return to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until rhubarb is soft. Strain the solids, reserving the syrup. Return the syrup to the pan bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 30 minutes, or until the volume is reduced to about 1 1/3 cups. Add the vanilla. Cool to room temp and then refrigerate.

Remove the whole spices from the rhubarb solids. Puree the solids in a food processor. Refrigerate.

Prepare the cake:
Preheat oven to 325F. Grease 2 9-in round cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper.

Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl. In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar until light. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Combine the buttermilk and vanilla in a small dish. Add 1/3 of the buttermilk mixture to the butter mixture and mix until liquid is absorbed. Add 1/3 of the flour mix. Mix just until combined. Alternate buttermilk and flour for 2 more additions ending with the flour. Divide the batter between the 2 prepared pans and level.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool the cakes in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto racks. Cool completely.

Assemble the cake:
Cut 3/4 of the stawberries into thick slices. Add 1/3 cup rhubarb syrup to strawberries and stir to coat.

The remaining 1/4 of the strawberries can be halved or left whole as they will be decoration for the top of the cake. Combine the halved strawberries with 2 T - 4T (enough to coat the berries) rhubarb syrup.

Once the cakes are cool, cut the cakes in half horizontally with a serrated knife to create four layers.

Whip the crème fraîche and heavy cream. Gradually add about 1/3 cup rhubarb syrup. Taste the cream and add a little more syrup if necessary. Whip the cream until firm but not stiff peaks form.

Place the bottom of one of the cakes onto a plate. Layer 1/4 of the cream, 1/3 of the pureed rhurbarb, and the 1/3 of the sliced strawberries and syrup on top. Add the next layer and repeat filling layers. Add the third layer and repeat filling layers. Add the top layer. Evenly spread the remaining cream on the top layer and decorate with syrup coated halved strawberries.

Refrigerate until ready to server. Let stand at room temp for 20-30 minutes before serving.

This cake is best eaten the day assembled. The rhubarb syrup and puree can be made up to a couple of days in advance. The cake can be made a day ahead, cooled, and wrapped.

Extra rhubarb syrup can be used in beverages, on ice cream, etc.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

chocolate macadamia bars

I found this recipe in a Carres Gourmets, which is a cookbook in french. Now, my french is sketchy these days, but this recipe turned out all right. They are more like candy than a bar cookie.

13 T butter, melted
200 grams nilla wafer crumbs
1/3 cup cocoa powder

1 396 g can sweetened condensed milk
2 T Lyle's Golden Syrup (molasses works too)
3 T butter

1 cup toasted macadamia nuts

200 g dark chocolate
3 T butter

Line a 8x11 (a 9x 13 would work too) pan with wax paper. Mix the cookie crumbs, cocoa powder and melted butter together. Press mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Refrigerate. While that's chillin', make the macadamia caramel filling. Heat the sweetened condensed milk, molasses and butter over medium heat. When the butter is melted, reduce the heat and simmer for about 8 minutes. The mixture will be slightly thicker and golden brown. Stir in the macadamia nuts. Spread this mixture over the crust and return the pan to the refrigerator.

Make the topping. Melt the 3 T. butter and dark chocolate together. Spread chocolate mix over the caramel. Refrigerate for at least a couple of hours. Cut into bars. Keep the insulin handy, eat and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Coffee Toffee Bars

No pics, so sorry. They were pretty tasty though.

Coffee Toffee Bars

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 T strong coffee
2 tsp vanilla
4 tsp espresso powder
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups light brown sugar
3 eggs
8 oz heath toffee bits

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9x13 glass baking dish with foil. Lightly grease the foil.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl.

In a small bowl, mix coffee, vanilla and espresso powder until espresso powder is dissolved.

Cream butter and brown sugar. Add eggs, one at a time. Mix well after each addition. Add the coffee mixture and mix until blended. Add the flour mixture and mix until almost blended. Stir in toffee bits.

Using a wooden spoon or spatula spread the batter evenly in the baking dish. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a tester come out clean but not dry. Do not overbake or they'll be too hard.

Cool completely. Cut into squares.

Monday, March 7, 2011


It's Bun Day in Iceland! We're having gluten-free and wheaty cream puffs with butterscotch pastry cream and coffee pastry cream. There's bittersweet chocolate sauce. There's vanilla whipped cream. It's mix and match for the whole family!

Gluten-free cream puffs
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 T sugar
3/4 cup + 1 T white rice flour
1/4 cup + 1T sweet rice flour
1/4 cup + 2 T tapioca flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup butter
8 eggs, room temperature

Preheat oven to 400F.

Combine salt, sugar, white rice flour, sweet rice flour and tapioca flour in a small bowl. Bring milk and butter to a boil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. While stirring constantly, add all of the flour mix to the boiling liquid. Stir over the heat for a minute or so. The mixture will separate from the sides of the pan and become stiff enough to leave an indentation with a spoon. Remove from heat and let cool for 2 minutes.

Add the eggs, one at a time mixing thoroughly after each addition.

Put the dough into a strong pastry bag fitted with a large tip. Pipe the dough onto a baking sheet.

Bake for 9 minutes at 400F. Reduce heat to 350F and bake for 9 more minutes until golden.

This batch made approximately 85 2-in cream puffs.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Spread

2 cups raw shelled peanuts
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 + 1/8 tsp salt
4-5 T peanut oil

Roast peanuts at 400F for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned. Cool peanuts.

Whiz peanuts in the food processor until liquified. This took about 7-8 minutes in my food processor. Don't stop at paste, you want the oil to start to separate.

Add powdered sugar, salt, cocoa powder and 4 T of peanut oil. Process until well mixed. Add additional peanut oil to thin mixture, if necessary.

Transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Two great discoveries this week:
1. Best devil's food cupcakes ever! Make these immediately. Rinse and repeat. Seriously just do it.
2. Lyle's golden syrup.