Dual Macaron Fail

In mid-January, Josh bought me a new oven, and I LOVE it. A few weeks ago though, I tried to bake macarons in it for the first time, and they didn’t turn out! Needless to say, I was very disappointed and set out to figure out what I was doing wrong.

Originally, my posts about these two macarons were going to be recipe posts, but since the macarons did not turn out right, well, you will get some pictures of failed macarons instead!

Josh has been wanting me to make lavender macarons for a while, and I even bought lavender flavoring a long time ago in preparation for this. I was too scared to use a full teaspoon of flavoring so I reduced my lavender flavoring to 1/2 teaspoon.

I bought my lavender flavoring from Beanilla.com. You can find it here.

I also tried out two macaron mats from Williams-Sonoma. These saved me a lot of time, but I’m not quite sure if they are going to work for me. I will mention later what I think I need to do, but it will require more experimentation.

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I did add food coloring to make the macaron shells purple, but as usual, the color “fades” out after baking.

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My first mistake with the lavender macarons: I think I overmixed the batter. Usually, I can tell when I need to stop, but this time I mixed a lot longer than I usually do.  I didn’t end up with any hats this time after piping them out, but the texture was all wrong after the macarons baked.

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My second mistake: Baking on the wrong rack.  I baked my first batch on the top rack of my oven. Oops! That was a bad idea and I ended up with a small triangle of macarons that looked okay, but the macarons on the outer edges looked like mini-volcanoes!

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My second tray of macarons turned out looking better, but they almost seemed overbaked after the recipe bake time of 12 minutes total. So that would be mistake number three. Their feet also weren’t quite level. On this second tray, I changed my oven setting to convection (we splurged and paid $100 extra for true convection, which means there is a heating element by the fan) and baked the tray on the middle rack.

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I had been wanting to make Italian meringue buttercream for a macaron filling for a while, so even though these macarons didn’t turn out right, I went ahead and made the Italian meringue buttercream anyway.

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Sadly, my son Matthias is not a fan of marshmallow, and this is basically a homemade marshmallow cream. So he didn’t really like these macarons.

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It was a surprise to me that these “volcano” macarons tasted better than the traditionally-shaped macarons. In fact, these were all eaten up first. I think my kids saw these as a novelty. They had fun eating them!

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These macarons almost looked pretty (and you can tell that the purple faded out of the shell), but they were a tad too crispy for me, even with a day or two in the fridge after being filled. The flavor was fine though, which was a relief. I didn’t want the lavender flavor to be overpowering. One picture I forgot to take was of the inside of the macaron. Even though it looks pink outside, it was purple inside!  If I have another chance to experiment with these, I will definitely need to add more food coloring and reduce my bake time by 2 minutes.

My second attempt was actually a few days after I made the lavender macarons. I wanted to make double chocolate macarons for the refreshment reception after my son Corran’s band concert, but after a frustrating afternoon of lopsided macaron shells, I had to give up and make chocolate chip cookies instead, along with a lemon drizzle traybake from one of Mary Berry’s books… which will hopefully be a post soon!

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This time, I mixed the batter until I felt it was enough (and did the V-test with my spatula) and ended up with my little hats again. I think I need to practice until I get no hats. But in the meantime, little hats are good because it means I didn’t overmix the batter.

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These are the only macaron shells I got that had level feet. These were baked on parchment paper in a quarter sheet pan. I wrote earlier that I need to experiment more with my new macaron mats.  All of my lopsided macarons were baked on those two mats, so I am wondering if I need to put the mats on a rimmed sheet pan like this one from Williams-Sonoma, instead of on a large cookie sheet.

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Lopsided macaron shells that were baked on the new macaron mats on a large cookie sheet

I also reduced my bake time by 1 minute each rotation. So I baked these macarons at 325 degrees F using the convection setting, on the middle rack, for 5 minutes. Then, I would rotate the pan and bake for another 5 minutes.

This method produced macarons with a texture closer to what I was expecting. Once I gave up on making them for the reception, I decided to let my family have these lopsided ones. I filled them with a chocolate glaze (from a batch of eclairs I made last week… yet another thing I need to practice: choux pastry!) and also the Italian meringue buttercream that I used for the lavender macarons.

The chocolate-filled ones were more popular than the buttercream-filled ones, so I will have to remember that for next time!

We just finished eating the macarons today, so that means I can start prepping for another go at them soon. I’m not sure when that will be, but hopefully before the end of the month!

Thanks for reading!

Lynn

 

 

 

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Chocolate Bouchons

I don’t remember how I came across this recipe for chocolate bouchons, but as soon as I saw it, I knew that I had to try it using a set of cake tins that Josh bought me at the end of last year.  These tins are a little bit bigger than what should be used for the recipe, but they worked out pretty well. I think bouchons are meant to be bite-sized, but these were more of a single serving dessert size. I am just glad that I found a recipe that I can use for these tins since they cost quite a bit!

This was also the first time I’ve successfully made a cake without using baking soda or baking powder in the batter. I have tried a few times before using these cake tins (and a different recipe) and the cakes didn’t rise properly. They were underbaked, dense, and inedible in the bottom layer while the top half was spongy and light. I still haven’t figured out what I did wrong with those cakes. Maybe I will give them another try now.

A few words about this recipe: it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. And the chocolate cake was AMAZING. My chocoholic son Corran has already asked me to make them again. Gwennan was watching me write this blog post, saw the chocolate cake pictures, and asked, “Mommy, can you make those today?” Yes, I think these little cakes were a big hit with my kids.

These cakes would be even better with ice cream. Sadly, we didn’t have any ice cream at the time so we had to eat the cakes without. But that was a small sacrifice because have I mentioned that these were amazing?

Recipe from Delish: Thomas Keller’s Chocolate Bouchons

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Let’s start with the chocolate. I love Guittard, but I’ve only ever bought the Guittard chocolate chips, not the bars. Valrhona is very, very expensive, and since this was my first time baking these, it’s probably a good thing I didn’t go with the expensive chocolate. Maybe next time I’ll try to have Valrhona on hand.

I used 1 and a half bars of Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate. I’ve mentioned before that my kids are huge fans of dark chocolate, so I figured I could get away with the 60% chocolate.

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I don’t really enjoy chopping chocolate much, but these did work beautifully in the batter. I usually only chop chocolate for chocolate chip cookies. I’d better be careful or I’m going to stop buying chocolate chips altogether and buy only chocolate bars for baking!

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I had a feeling I would only need 12 of these tins for the cakes even though there are 16 of them. I decided to use my nylon pastry brush to butter these tins. I’ve used my fingers before and the rims of these tins can be sharp. I dusted them with flour over a bowl so that I could reuse the flour that fell out of the tins. I also cut a piece of parchment paper to the same size as the baking tray to line it. Doing this makes it easier to clean the tray after baking.

I did sift my dry ingredients and made sure to beat the eggs and sugar together for 3 minutes. What I liked best about this recipe: it uses real butter, not oil.

Once I needed to fill the tins, I strayed from the recipe. My chopped chocolate had a hard time making it through the hole I had cut for my pastry bag, so after a few false starts, I just scraped the cake batter into the tins with a spatula. This made for a messy set of tins! But at least I didn’t have exploding cake batter from my pastry bag.

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I filled each tin about halfway since they are larger than the timbale molds called for in the recipe. I let the cakes bake for about 20 minutes at first, but they weren’t done at that point, so I gave them 5 to 10 more minutes.

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The cakes were done when a toothpick tested clean with just some melty chocolate from the chopped chocolate in the cake. Some of the batter did leak out of the tins and onto the tray, but it wasn’t too bad. I let these cool for about half an hour in the tins and then pushed each cake out of its tin into a muffin pan liner.

The recipe says that these taste like brownies, and they really do! They aren’t quite as dense as a brownie though, so I guess their texture is somewhere between a cake and a brownie. Whatever they are, they for sure were delicious and I will be making these again. Just not this week…

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Jumbo muffin pan liners were perfect “plates” for these cakes after dusting the cakes with powdered sugar.

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This is not the best picture, but it is the only one I have of one of the cakes after slicing. You can see that the top did fall a bit in the middle. This cake didn’t last long after this picture. I let my kids come in and eat the rest of it and it disappeared in about 30 seconds.

The recipe says that these are best eaten the day they are made, but they were good the next day as well. I know that not everyone will have this set of cake tins, timbale molds, or a bouchon pan, but perhaps a popover pan would work or even a mini cupcake pan or regular cupcake pan. I think I will try this recipe in a mini cupcake pan next time and see how it works!

-Lynn

Note: To clean my round cake tins, I let them sit in a mixing bowl in water for a little while and they are much easier to clean. Hopefully, my next experiment with these tins will be mini cheesecakes!

 

 

Chocolate Bundt Cake with Chocolate Donut Frosting

Yes, it is yet another Bundt Cake post! I promise that my next baking post will be about something different (Macarons.. are those different?). I know that I said in my Key Lime-Mint Bundt Cake post that I wasn’t too thrilled with this cake, but it could be that I just wasn’t in the mood for chocolate that day. The important thing about this recipe is that my family loved it, and it was gone in two days. I usually know that a recipe is good if it doesn’t last very long at my house. In this case, I let my kids eat this cake for breakfast… I know, this cake isn’t for breakfast, Lynn, what are you thinking!? Here’s my reasoning: We eat those huge chocolate muffins from Costco… eating chocolate cake for breakfast isn’t any different, right?

I am not a fan of cereal in general. I do love Quaker Oatmeal Squares, but it is so rarely on sale that we don’t always have it around.  The day after I made this cake, I just didn’t want cereal… So let them eat cake it is! Don’t let my kids tell you about the time they had candy for dinner (Josh was deployed…) or the time they had ice cream for dinner (hmm… that also might have been when Josh was deployed). But you know what? They still talk about those “dinners!” It’s funny what kids remember.

Today’s cake comes courtesy of Corran, my oldest, who requests chocolate in almost everything I bake, like the cinnamon rolls I made today. Sorry, Corran, I didn’t put chocolate in the cinnamon rolls.

Here are the recipes I used:

The Best Chocolate Bundt Cake at Inquiring Chef

Chocolate Glaze That Hardens

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This time I dusted my bundt pan with cocoa powder instead of flour. This worked a lot better than I thought it would. You will see why I say this in a few pictures.

 

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The cake batter was very liquid-y (is that a word?). I think I’ve gotten too used to the sponge cakes I’ve been making lately; they have such a thick batter.  The pictures of the batter at the recipe site don’t look quite as runny as my batter does, so maybe I did something wrong. It still baked up fine though.

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The cake finished up huge! I’m so so glad it didn’t overflow onto the bottom of my oven. I might need to get out my old, beat-up bundt pan the next time I make this. I think that one has a 12-cup capacity.

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It is not obvious from the above picture… but see the cooling rack? The cake was supposed to be on the cooling rack for this picture. But when I flipped the rack and the pan over, I wasn’t expecting the cake to fall out so fast and it landed on the worktable instead. So the cocoa powder worked great. I’m glad the cake didn’t land on the floor! And that it stayed mostly in one piece. What you don’t see in this picture: Children rushing into the kitchen to eat chocolate cake crumbs off the worktable. Um.. Kids, if you wait until after dinner, you can have a whole slice…

I think the chocolate glaze I used for this cake is supposed to be the fast version of a boiled chocolate icing. It worked great and hardened perfectly. If I ever make donuts (which my kids have requested numerous times), I will use this icing on them! The donuts, not the kids.

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I globbedy-gooked the icing onto the cake, and I let my kids pick the completely unnecessary sprinkles to go on this cake. And of course, they chose chocolate!

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I actually remembered to take a picture of a slice this time! I think the cake could have used a few more minutes in the oven, but at least it wasn’t totally underbaked. It was definitely moist and definitely chocolatey. And definitely got eaten up like lightning.

-Lynn

Key Lime-Mint Bundt Cake With Key Lime Icing

It’s not hard to tell that I have been baking a lot of bundt cakes! For me, they are much easier to make than a layer cake, and I don’t have to really decorate them. Drizzling or pouring icing onto a bundt cake and letting the gorgeous design do the rest is my kind of decorating.

This cake comes courtesy of my good friend Lanett, who is one of the most awesome people I know. She was kind enough to let me in on her buyer’s group for Comic-Con International, so I decided to bake a cake of her choice (and also because I had a major cake craving after talking to her on the phone!). So… yes, this cake is her fault! Not a bad thing though, because I have to admit that this cake was really, really (yes, really!) yummy. I made a chocolate bundt cake (another blog post) a few days after making this one and the chocolate one just couldn’t hold a candle to this one, and I LOVE chocolate!

I went to two websites before deciding on the recipe I kind of followed. I say kind of followed because I ended up changing a few of the ingredients. This cake is supposed to be a mojito cake, but Josh and I don’t drink alcohol so we didn’t have any rum around to use in it.

The recipe I used is from One Sweet Mess.

The changes I made:

  • Left out the coconut or white rum
  • used 1/2 tsp of imitation rum extract (I’m not sure if this added anything to the cake; I’ll probably just leave it out next time and use vanilla extract instead)
  • 1/2 tsp of mint extract (this might have been slightly too much if you’re not into mint, but I actually liked this amount in the cake itself)
  • Left out vanilla extract
  • Used 1 cup of regular milk instead of coconut milk
  • I cheated and used the bottled lime juice from the grocery store that is usually in the produce section.
  • I only had 1 key lime for the zest. I would have used the zest of 3 key limes if I had had them. You want the lime to shine in this cake.

The icing was really simple. I just used 1 -2 cups of powdered sugar and added a teaspoon or two lime juice and heavy cream to it until it was of drizzling consistency.  I think the 1 -2 cups of powdered sugar wasn’t enough though so I had to make another cup of icing. The lime juice just added so much to the icing. It was perfect with the cake. I’m sorry I don’t have any exact measurements for this, but I was in a hurry when I was making this cake, so I had to eyeball my measurements!

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I’m not sure why… but this kind of cake batter appeals to me a lot more than the pourable kind, which you will see in the future chocolate bundt cake post. This is the Nordic Ware Crown Bundt pan, and from what I’ve read, it is a 10-cup Bundt pan.

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I had some crumbling at the edges, but that was my fault. I didn’t grease the pan all the way to the edges because I wasn’t expecting the cake to rise that high. So the cake edges stuck when I was trying to get the cake out of the pan.

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It must be true. Icing makes everything better. This truly was a messy drizzling job I did on this cake, but it didn’t really matter. In fact, all my kids wanted the slices with the great big globs of icing. Maybe I should paint the icing on so that it will spread out more evenly.

This cake was so good that it was gone by the end of the next day. It was gone so fast that my oldest Corran hardly got to eat any of it and that is why he asked me to make another bundt cake.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I would like the flavors of key lime and mint in one cake since to me, they don’t really go together, but Lanett, my friend, you picked a winner. Thank you for introducing me to a great flavor combination that I am definitely going to try again!

Key Lime-Mint Bundt Cake with Key Lime Icing

  • Servings: not enough... I mean, 14-16 slices
  • Print

Please do visit or try the original recipe if you can. I only adjusted the recipe according to what I had on hand and for certain flavors.

Adapted from Mojito Bundt Cake by Jennie at One Sweet Mess

Ingredients

For the Cake:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp rum extract or vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp mint extract
  • zest of 3 key limes (I only had 1. Use 3 if you have them!)
  • 1/4 cup of key lime juice
  • 1 cup milk

For the Icing:

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp key lime juice (add a little bit at a time until consistency desired)
  • 1 tsp heavy cream or milk

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10 or 12-cup bundt pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or using a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. This will take about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, incorporating each before adding the next.

Add the extracts, key lime zest, and key lime juice. Stir just until combined.

Beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture, alternating with the 1 cup of milk. Finish with the dry ingredients. Mix until you have a smooth batter and there are no streaks of flour. Make sure you reach the bottom of the bowl.

Pour or spoon the batter into the prepared bundt pan. Smooth the top of the batter and bake for 60 minutes on the middle rack, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool cake on a wire rack for about 10-15 minutes before removing from the pan. After removing the cake from the pan, allow the cake to cool completely before decorating with the icing.

Icing directions:

In a small bowl, combine 3 cups of powdered sugar with the 1 teaspoon lime juice and 1 teaspoon heavy cream or milk. Add key lime juice and/or heavy cream a 1/2 teaspoon at a time to powdered sugar until icing reaches your desired consistency. Drizzle or pour onto completely cool bundt cake.

 

 

Pi Day Pie: Chocolate Truffle Pie in a Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust

Since today is 3/14, of course I had to make a pie for pi day. I mulled over a few pies before I started on one. Lemon meringue? Chocolate custard tart? Does a tart count as a pie? Shepherd’s pie?

Well, I had leftover chocolate chip cookie dough in the fridge… and realized that maybe I could use that as a pie crust! So next I needed an easy filling. There is a pie my sister-in-law makes that is yummy and chocolatey called chocolate truffle pie.

I won’t say much about actually making this pie since it is just to celebrate pi and math in general. If you’d like the recipes, they are at the following links.

Chocolate Truffle Pie

Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

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This is the cookie crust before I baked it. It looks just like a giant cookie.

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This crust looked so yummy after baking that I had a hard time resisting eating it! The dough puffed up a little in the middle so I tamped it down a little. It looks like I didn’t need to since the filling didn’t fill this pie pan up as much as I thought it would.

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This is how you try to do props for food photography (or the sad attempt) when you have kids, are homeschooling them, and just fed them lunch. Some day, I will learn to take decent pictures of my baking. Someday!

In the meantime, I hope everyone had a lovely pi day!

-Lynn

P.S. I have no idea if the cookie crust worked out. We won’t find out until after dinner!

Maple Brown Sugar-Cinnamon Bundt Cake

It is not completely obvious within my blog posts about baking, but a lot of my posts are requests from my kids. Since they eat most of what I bake, I try to make sure it is something they will like. Unless it’s macarons… I don’t really want them to eat all the macarons.

This bundt cake flavor comes courtesy of my son Matthias. I think he was wanting a flavor similar to a maple frosted donut. I certainly did my best to fulfill his request!

I know that bundt cakes LOVE to stick to pans, so I thought I’d also mention my technique for greasing my Nordicware bundt pans. This particular pan is the 10 cup Heritage pan. I also have a smaller 6 cup Heritage pan, but I haven’t used that one yet.

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To grease your bundt cake pan and hopefully end up with a flawless bundt pan flip, here is what you need:

1 Tbsp of very soft butter, but not melted. If your butter is right out of the fridge, you can microwave it for about 15-20 seconds to soften it enough.

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1 pastry brush

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I apologize for my very ugly pastry brush in this pic. It needs to be retired. In fact, we were at a restaurant supply store a few weeks ago and I bought a new nylon pastry brush and a gorgeous stainless steel worktable! By the way, restaurant supply stores are awesome. I could have stayed there all day! I just didn’t have the new brush at this time so had to use the ugly old one. I have tried a silicone brush but it just couldn’t get into all the details of the pan. So I ended up with this.

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Lesson learned: use only a traditional pastry brush or a nylon brush for greasing bundt cake pans.

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Usually, I find greasing pans tedious, but somehow greasing my bundt pans is now fun! I guess it is because I feel like I’m painting. Which is basically what you’re doing! You paint the butter into the pan using the pastry brush, making sure to get into all the little nooks and crannies. I think I may try this method with my plain round cake pans.

Then comes the flouring part. I usually just toss a random amount of flour into the pan. Probably close to a tablespoon or two. Shake the pan at an angle over a sink, turning the pan to get the flour all around the pan and onto the butter.

After tapping tapping tapping,  your pan will look like this.

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I think I might be weird because I don’t like it when my pan looks like this after flouring. So I turn it upside-down over my sink and tap the edge of the pan on the wall of the sink. All the excess flour falls right out into the sink and you end up with a clean finish.

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I know this seems like a lot of trouble to go to for greasing and flouring a bundt pan, but this method hasn’t failed me yet.

Now to the actual cake!

I decided on a cinnamon swirl coffee cake with a mascarpone maple frosting. I modified both recipes quite a bit so I will be posting them at the end. The original recipes are from Allrecipes.com and The Local Palate.

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Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C).

First, we begin as most cakes do, with beating the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Then, add the eggs. The texture of the batter might worry you a little at this point. (Why does it look curdled?) But it all smooths out at the end.

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Then, add the flour and raising agents.

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I like the look of this type of cake batter better than the very liquidy type. Maybe I’m just a big fan of pound cake. Spoon half the batter into the bundt pan.

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Sprinkle all the cinnamon mixture over this first layer.

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Spoon the other half of the batter over the cinnamon mixture and swirl a knife through it. I made the mistake of using a spatula. That didn’t work so well. I should have used a knife.

Bake for 8 minutes in the preheated oven. Then, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and bake for 40 more minutes.

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When a tester comes out clean, your cake is done.

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Now to the moment of truth! But not for another 10 minutes. I leave the pan on my stovetop or a cooling rack for 10 to 15 minutes before tipping out the cake. But… you don’t want to wait too long. It seems that bundt cakes come out better if the pan is still warm.

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This cake came out a little rough around the edges but I think that is because I didn’t spread the batter into the pan as well as I should have. I think it looks a lot like a cruller though this way!

I had a whole container of mascarpone cheese in the fridge so I went for a full mascarpone frosting instead of mixing it with cream cheese. My kids now have a name for this frosting: maple donut frosting. I piped the frosting onto the cake using the star tip  of my Wilton Dessert Decorator. Usually, I can’t use this for decorating because the tips are so huge, but it worked well for this cake.

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Note: Apparently, regular Wilton tips can be used with this decorator. I haven’t tried those yet. Will have to see how they work.

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As you can see, I didn’t have much of a swirl…. probably because of my attempt to use a spatula instead of a knife to swirl the batter. This cake was very, very yummy though and certainly didn’t last long! I think it was completely gone the next morning after breakfast!

I wasn’t completely happy with the frosting. It’s a little too shiny (or maybe the word is oily-looking?) for me, but my kids loved it. At least they were happy with it!

-Lynn

Here is the recipe!

Maple Brown Sugar-Cinnamon Bundt Cake with Maple Mascarpone Frosting

Not everyone will have the maple sugar for the cinnamon mixture, so it can be left out. Also, because of the mascarpone frosting, I would not feel comfortable keeping this cake on the counter for more than a day.

Ingredients

Cake Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp maple extract or flavoring
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Swirl Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp maple sugar (optional)

Maple Mascarpone Frosting Ingredients

  • 10 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 tsp maple extract or flavoring
  • 9 ounces powdered sugar, about 2 cups

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10-cup bundt pan. See post above for method if needed.

Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. The mixture will be very pale. Add eggs one at a time, incorporating each one before adding the next. Mix in the vanilla extract and maple extract or flavoring.

Combine the flour, baking soda,and  baking powder in a medium bowl. Mix the flour mixture into the cake batter alternatively with the 1 cup of sour cream. End with the dry ingredients. Spoon half the batter into the prepared bundt pan.

Mix 1/4 cup brown sugar with the 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon and 1 Tablespoon maple sugar. Sprinkle the cinnamon mixture over the batter in the bundt pan. Spoon the remaining half of the cake batter over the cinnamon mixture in the pan. Swirl through the batter once or twice with a knife.

Bake in the 400 degree F (205 degree C) oven for 8 minutes. Then, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and bake for 40 minutes more, or until a tester comes out clean.

Let the cake cool on a rack for 10 – 15 minutes before tipping cake out of the pan. Allow to cool completely on the rack before frosting.

Mascarpone frosting directions:

Using a stand or hand mixer, combine the 10 ounces mascarpone cheese and 2 ounces butter in a large bowl until blended. Add the 1 teaspoon maple extract or flavoring and beat until combined.

With the mixer speed on low, slowly add the 9 ounces powdered sugar (2 cups) to the mascarpone mixture. Beat until smooth. Store frosting in the fridge until needed.

Decorate the bundt cake with the frosting as desired.

 

Almond Biscotti with Ghirardelli Cocoa Nib Chocolate

Biscotti is something I have not made in years. I think they were okay the last time I made them (but I don’t really remember when that was!) but then I made these! I happened across a recipe for almond biscotti in Baking: From my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan. There was one ingredient in the recipe that caught my eye: cornmeal. I had never thought of cornmeal as something you would use in biscotti!

So I made one batch of Lenox Almond Biscotti and it disappeared so fast that my children were asking me to make it again!

Recipe: Lenox Almond Biscotti

This time, I decided to play around with the recipe a little bit and add in a chopped-up bar of Ghirardelli chocolate. But this bar was a little different. It had cocoa nibs in it. My kids are a little spoiled when it comes to chocolate, since I am always on the lookout for really good chocolate. My kids LOVE dark chocolate and they prefer that over milk chocolate. Once, I shelled raw cocoa nibs and had a hard time keeping my kids away from the bowl.

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I think this was a 3.5 ounce bar. I chopped the bar up into the smallest pieces I could.

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We buy a lot of our food at Costco, just because there are so many of us. Dried fruit, flour, milk, eggs, and nuts are usually on our shopping list. So biscotti was a good use for the huge bag of sliced almonds I had bought from there.

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The batter for the biscotti before adding flour is almost pretty. It becomes a soft yellow color and looks fluffy and light after beating.

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Here is the batter after adding the dry ingredients. Next, the chopped chocolate and sliced almonds go in.

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At this point, it was time to shape the dough into logs. I hate getting dough all over my hands (even when making bread… so I don’t work with sticky bread dough very often), so I cheated and just smoothed out the logs with a spatula and a bench knife.

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When I first made these, 1½ inch wide logs seemed awfully narrow, but the logs bake up much larger than that. So I now always keep them skinny. Also, shorter biscotti are easier and shorter to “second bake.”

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See how wide they are after the first bake? You want to bake these logs until they aren’t shiny in the centers. Once, I made the mistake of not baking them long enough for the first bake and then they didn’t bake long enough for the second bake. So the centers of some of my biscotti were soft instead of crispy. After they cooled for about half an hour, I sliced each log into 3/4-inch-thick pieces with a serrated knife and set them up for their second bake.

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In the oven for their second bake!

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These are the perfect size! Not too big and not too small. And a perfect combination of crunchy and chewy!

I’ve made this recipe about 3 times and here are just some quick notes about what I’ve discovered:

  1. Make sure you bake them long enough for that second bake to get them crunchy! I made the mistake of not baking long enough the second time and ended up with something more like mandelbrot (which I’ve never tasted but sounds like the texture I got) than biscotti. They still tasted good, but they just weren’t crunchy enough to be biscotti. 15 minutes won’t always be long enough. It depends on your oven or the rack position you are using.
  2. Sometimes the original is the best. If I make these again, I think I will go with no additions! The third time I made these I added mini milk chocolate chips… Honestly, they didn’t add much in the way of flavor. Maybe because they were milk chocolate?
  3. Don’t leave out the cornmeal. I think it’s what makes these so addicting!

-Lynn