Browsing Tag


Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

February 21, 2011
This weekend, Joey and I had a date to celebrate the fact that he passed a very important work-related certification exam. Naturally, I thought baking a cake was in order and had intended to share with you a cake and frosting recipe. However, the cake was a tad on the dry side and not yet ready to share. The frosting, on the other hand, was fabulous. 
It was thick, dense, and ultimately rich in the very best sense. And I was so delighted with how easy it was to work with when frosting a cake. The smooth, shiny, velvety texture made cake decorating a breeze. I would, however, offer this bit of advice: this frosting is best eaten on the day you frost the cake. After a day it loses its luster just a bit. Though it didn’t really stop me. 
And now for a public service announcement: If you haven’t gotten your flu shot this year, go and do so this week. Though I felt decently healthy on Friday and was on the mend from my recent sickness, I woke up Saturday morning with chills, intense body aches, and major chest congestion. The doctor’s diagnosis on Saturday was Influenza B, and I spent the rest of the weekend in a ball on the couch. It was no fun and a flu shot could have saved me a bunch of pain and discomfort. 
Take care of yourselves and have a happy Monday!
Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
Adapted just slightly from Maida Heatter’s Cakes
*12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
*16 oz. milk chocolate chips
*1 pint sour cream
*1 tsp. vanilla extract 
*1/4 cup milk
*Heat semi-sweet chocolate and milk chocolate in a saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently, until just melted. Remove from heat and pour into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add in sour cream and vanilla and beat 1 to 2 minutes on low heat until smooth. Add in milk and beat an additional 30 seconds. 
*Spoon over cake and spread into an even layer. 
Happy baking!

Candy Corn Cupcakes

October 22, 2010

Every year around this time, I realize I’m not a Halloween person. Candy, scary movies, haunted houses – no thanks. And don’t get me started about what Halloween means when you’re a college student. Not my cup of tea. But for fear of being seen as the Grinch of October, I’ve made an attempt at Halloween-themed baking.

Maybe it’s a bit of a stretch. In fact, one of my co-workers told me the concept was lost on him, but the cupcake tasted delicious. I believe his exact words were “lose the concept, keep the cupcake”. But since this is likely to be my only attempt at something themed for Halloween, I decided to keep the theme and the cupcake.

If I could do it again, I would have made the orange layer a little more neon orange with the addition of more food coloring. And instead of trying to imitate the chocolate-bottomed candy corn, the read might have been stronger if I had gone with the white, orange and yellow color combination. Either way, these cupcakes are a fun, low-commitment way to celebrate (or not) Halloween.

P.S. – I finally rounded up some photos from a couple weeks back. J and I were part of an awesome cheering section at the Chicago Marathon. It couldn’t have been a more beautiful day, and Jake and Amber (J’s sister and brother-in-law) did great! Maybe we’ll be running it next year?

Candy Corn Cupcakes
(Printable Recipe)

*1 box white cake mix
*2 eggs
*1 1/4 cups water
*2 Tbsp. oil
*2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
*1 tsp. orange extract
Yellow Food Coloring
Red Food Coloring

Almond Buttercream
*2 sticks butter, softened
*3 cups powdered sugar
*2 Tbsp. milk
*1 tsp. almond extract
Yellow Food Coloring

*Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners. Set aside.
*In a mixing bowl, combined the cake mix, eggs, water and oil. Whisk together until smooth. Transfer half of the batter to a clean bowl.
*In one half of the batter, stir in the cocoa powder until combined. In the second bowl, stir in the orange extract, 2 drops red food coloring and 3 drops yellow food coloring. Stir until well combined.
*Spoon a heaping tablespoon of chocolate batter into the bottom of each prepared liner, followed by some of the orange batter.
*Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool completely.

*Meanwhile, prepare buttercream. With an electric mixer, beat butter until creamy. Add in the powdered sugar, a cup at a time, and beat until fluffy. Add in the milk and almond extract, followed by four drops of yellow food coloring.
*Pipe buttercream atop cooled cupcakes (I used a large star tip).

Happy Baking!


Easy Coconut Cake

October 4, 2010

On Friday night I was sitting on my couch, waiting impatiently for J to arrive so the weekend could officially start. And when I heard a knock at the door, I sprung off the couch to answer the door. I wish I would have thought to take a photo of the sight in front of me: J, holding a homemade coconut cake with two candles numbering ’23’ glowing brightly. Seriously one of the best birthday cakes I can remember receiving.

Although my birthday isn’t until Tuesday, celebrating solo during the week isn’t nearly as fun as celebrating the entire weekend long with someone you love. That someone baked a heck of a birthday cake, satisfying the craving I’ve been harboring for coconut cake over the past two months.

This morning when I told J this cake and the recipe was going on Espresso and Cream, he balked at the idea. Sure, we spent the weekend marveling at the pure deliciousness of each bite, but I’ll be the first to admit this dessert hardly fits the mold of what I traditionally post. It starts with a boxed cake mix and is full of all types of bad-for-you ingredients, like half and half, sugar and Cool Whip. Yes, you read that right. Cool Whip. Just go with it for my sake, because it’s my birthday (almost!) and everyone has the right to eat deliciously low-brow birthday cake on their special day. 

P.S. – My dad sent me something special to celebrate the occasion, too. Check it out here.

Easy Coconut Cake
(Printable Recipe)

*1 box yellow cake mix
*2 cups half and half
*16 oz. fresh coconut
*1 cup sugar
*1 large carton Cool Whip

*Bake prepared cake mix in a 13×9-inch pan according to package directions. About 10 minutes before cake is done, mix half the coconut, the half and half and sugar and bring to a boil. Remove from heat.
*Remove baked cake from the oven and let it cool about 10 minutes. Punch holes in top of the cake with a fork and pour mixture over it. Let cake stand at room temperature for an additional 30 minutes, then refrigerate for 2 hours.
*To ice cake, mix the whipped topping with the remaining coconut. Cover cake with frosting and return to refrigerator.

Happy Baking!


Jam Crumb Cake

August 3, 2010

When I moved into my new office two weeks ago there was a lot of sorting to be done. Things to toss, file away, display on bookshelves, study and devour. Once I tossed what needed to go I sat and marveled at the treasure I found tucked away in the magazine racks of my new digs.

Gourmet magazines. Lots of them, dating back over 10 years, sitting in my office, and for the last two weeks I have been curled up at night in my bed, bookmarking recipes I plan to make. This simple, sweet, understated jam cake is the first of many Gourmet creations to come.

If you’ve been reading Espresso and Cream for any extended period of time, you probably know my fascination and love for simple cakes. This is yet another example. There are no fussy, hard-to-find ingredients, or complicated procedures. In fact, you don’t even need a mixer. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for those kind of cakes, but that time and place is not Monday night. On a weeknight, make this cake and forget the notion that cakes are anything but easy and delicious.

From Gourmet, December 2007
(Printable Recipe)

*1 cup all-purpose flour
*1/2 cup sugar
*1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted
*1/2 cup milk
*1 large egg
*1/2 cup raspberry jam or preserves

Crumb Topping:
*3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted
*1/4 cup packed brown sugar
*1/4 cup granulated sugar
*3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
*1/8 teaspoon salt
*1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

*Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Generously butter a 9-inch square or round cake pan.

*Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
*Whisk together butter, milk, and egg in a large bowl, then whisk in flour mixture until just combined. *Pour batter into cake pan. Dollop jam all over surface, then swirl into batter with spoon. 
Make Crumb Topping:
*Whisk together butter, sugars, cinnamon, and salt until smooth. Stir in flour, then blend with your fingertips until incorporated. Sprinkle crumbs in large clumps over top of cake.
*Bake cake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean and sides begin to pull away from pan, about 25 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 5 minutes.
Happy Baking!

Lemon Loaf Cake

June 9, 2010

Growing up for most of my life as an only child I highly valued my alone time. Time to think, relax, dance around the house in my pajamas, you get the picture. Sure, I have two younger sisters that I love very much, but seeing as they live in Florida with my dad and step-mom, the day-to-day of life was an only child scenario.
Oh boy did I grow to love that alone time, much of which was spent cooking, baking, and browsing through the shelves of cookbooks my mom had acquired throughout the years. Cookbooks from Southern Living, Ina Garten, The Joy of Cooking, and The Silver Palate Cookbook. I cooked them all in my desire to learn more, but there was one cookbook I never touched: The Way to Cook by Julia Child.
Last month while back home during a brief moment of coveted alone time curiosity got the better of me. Why had I never cooked even a single Julia Child recipe? I remember watching her television specials on PBS, loved the movie Julie and Julia and believe wholeheartedly in the work she did to further great cooking in America, but her recipes never had me clamoring for the kitchen. 

I wish I could say browsing through The Way to Cook changed my mind, but that would be a lie. It felt the same way I remembered: stiff, formal, and labor intensive. So I put the book back on the shelf and accepted that cooking a la Julia Child might not be my thing. 

But just when I thought it was not meant to be I stumbled across this recipe for lemon loaf cake. Found in Julia Child’s Baking with Julia, this bright, lemony loaf is enough to make anyone smile. If happiness had a mascot, this loaf would be it. And bucking my belief that all Julia recipes are fussy and complicated, this lemon loaf cake is incredibly straightforward. 
So this summer I will be baking and enjoying lemon loaf cake, and with each bite I will be eating my words. Turns out, Julia really knew what she was talking about after all.
Lemon Loaf Cake
From Baking with Julia by Julia Child
(Printable Recipe)
*4 eggs at room temperature
*1 1/3 cups sugar
*pinch of salt
*Grated zest of 3 large lemons
*1 3/4 cups cake flour
*1/2 tsp. baking powder
*1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
*5 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
*Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan and dust with flour, shaking out the excess. 
*Working in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and salt for just a minute, until foamy and smoothly blended; the mixture should not thicken. Whisk in the grated zest.
*Spoon the flour and baking powder into a sifter and sift about a third of the dry ingredients over the foamy egg mixture. Whisk the flour into the eggs, mixing lightly – there’s no need to beat. Sift the flour over the eggs in two more additions and whisk only until everything is incorporated. Whisk the heavy cream into the mixture. Switch to a rubber spatula and gently and quickly fold in the melted butter.
*Baking the cake: Pour and scrape the batter into the prepared pan – it will level itself – and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the center of the cake crowns and cracks and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cake to a cooling rack to rest for 10 minutes before unmolding. Cool to room temperature right side up on a rack.
(I topped my loaf with a simple powdered sugar glaze made with 1 cup powdered sugar and 1/4 cup milk) 
Happy Baking!
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