Chocolate Chip Layer Cake with Cheesecake Filling & Coffee Frosting {For Tova’s 3rd Birthday}

Chocolate Chip Layer Cake with Cheesecake Filling & Coffee Frosting

Tova’s been a little obsessed with chocolate chips lately, so when I asked her what kind of cake she wanted me to make for her birthday, of course she said she wanted a chocolate chip cake. I was excited when she said that, because: a) I love chocolate chips, too, and b) I’d get a chance to try a cake from Milk Bar that I hadn’t made yet (yes, these are things I get excited about!).

The recipe for the chocolate chip layer cake in Milk Bar is filled with a passion fruit curd, but I thought that was something that a 3-year-old probably wouldn’t appreciate, so I used the same liquid cheesecake filling that was used in the carrot cake that I made for my birthday last year, and I thought it was great in this cake. Although, really— is there anywhere that liquid cheesecake wouldn’t be great?

Chocolate Chip Layer Cake with Cheesecake Filling & Coffee Frosting

Tova also requested pink sprinkles on her cake, so I created a sprinkle butterfly on top of the cake, using a cookie cutter, filling the bottom with sprinkles, and then lightly pressing down on the sprinkles so that they stick to the frosting before removing the cutter (I used a toothpick to gently press down in the sprinkles that my fingers couldn’t reach in the tight spots of the cutter). Chaim wanted to know why everything I make is always butterfly shaped. Well, because I don’t have very many cookie cutters! I have a set of butterfly cutters, and a heart-shaped cutter, and that’s pretty much it (aside from some circle/fluted ones). I asked Tova if she wanted a butterfly or a heart, and she chose the butterfly. She loved watching me assemble this thing (and eating the cake scraps, of course!), and she was thrilled with her cake.

 

Chocolate Chip Layer Cake with Cheesecake Filling & Coffee Frosting

Notes: Unlike the rest of the components of this cake, the coffee frosting MUST be made just before assembling the cake. Everything else can be made ahead of time.

You can see photos for assembling a Milk Bar cake at the bottom of THIS post.

Chocolate Chip Layer Cake with Cheesecake Filling and Coffee Frosting

Chocolate Crumb

(You will only need half of this recipe for the cake, but the extras are great for munching on!)

105 g (2/3 cup) all-purpose flour

4 g (1 teaspoon) cornstarch

100 g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar

65 g (2/3 cup) dark cocoa powder

4 g (1 teaspoon) kosher salt

85 g (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed until combined.

3. Add the butter, and mix on low speed until you get small clusters.

4. Spread onto the prepared sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes, occasionally breaking the clusters up with a spatula or wooden spoon.

5. Let the crumbs cool completely (they will dry and harden as they cool). If not using right away, you can store these in an airtight container or bag for a week at room temperature or a month in the fridge or freezer.

Makes 2 1/2 cups

Liquid Cheesecake

225 g (8 ounces) cream cheese

150 g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar

6 g (1 tablespoon) cornstarch

2 g (1/2 teaspoon) kosher salt

25 g (2 tablespoons) whole milk

1 large egg

1. Preheat oven to 300°F.

2. Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the sugar and mix for 1 to 2 minutes, until the sugar is completely incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

3. Whisk together the cornstarch and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in the milk in a slow, steady stream. Whisk in the egg until everything is thoroughly combined.

4. With the mixer on medium-low speed, stream in the egg mixture. Paddle for 3 to 4 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and loose. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

5. Line the bottom and sides of a 6″x6″ baking pan with plastic wrap (I used a 6″ round Pyrex, and had to bake it a bit longer, but it worked fine). Pour the cheesecake batter into the pan, put the pan in the oven, and bake for 15 minutes. Gently shake the pan. The cheesecake should be firmer and more set at the edges, but still jiggly and loose in the center. If the cheesecake is jiggly all over, cake for 5 minute intervals until it is done. If the cheesecake rises more than 1/4 inch or begins to brown, take it out of the oven immediately. Cool completely before using.

The cheesecake can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Makes about 325 g ( 1 1/2 cups)

Chocolate Chip Cake

115 g (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

250 g ( 1 1/4 cups) granulated sugar

60 g (1/4 cup, tightly packed) light brown sugar

3 large eggs

110 g (1/2 cup) buttermilk

75 g (1/2 cup) grapeseed oil

12 g (1 tablespoon) pure vanilla extract

185 g (1 1/2 cups) cake flour

4 g (1 teaspoon) baking powder

4 g (1 teaspoon) kosher salt

150 g (3/4 cup) mini chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a quarter-sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray, and line the pan with parchment paper.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium-high until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and beat on medium-high for another 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

3. With the mixer on low speed, stream in the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Turn the speed up to medium-high, and beat for 4 to 6 minutes, until the mixture is very pale and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the cake flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix on very low speed for about a minute, until the dry ingredients have just been incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and if you see any flour that hasn’t been mixed in, mix for another 45 seconds.

5. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the chocolate chip evenly over the top.

6. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the center of the cake is no longer jiggling and the edge of the cake bounces back slightly if you gently poke it with your finger.

7. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

The cake can be kept, tightly wrapped in plastic, in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Makes 1 quarter sheet cake

Coffee Frosting

(As mentioned above, this frosting must be made just before assembling the cake!)

115 g (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

40 g (1/4 cup) confectioners’ sugar

55 g (1/4 cup) whole milk

1.5 g (3/4 teaspoon) instant coffee powder

1 g (1/4 teaspoon) kosher salt

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, instant coffee, and salt.

3. Scrape down the sided of the mixer bowl. Turn the mixer on low speed, and add a very tiny bit of the coffee mixture. You need to add the coffee mixture in very little at a time, because you are forcing the liquid to combine with the fat. Once the first bit is completely incorporated, add a tiny bit more of the coffee mixture and mix until incorporated. Keep doing this until all the coffee mixture is incorporated into the butter. I found that after each addition, if I beat it low for a bit, and then turned the mixer up for a bit, it incorporated a little easier. This frosting does take a little while to make, so just try to be patient—you can’t rush it!

Use immediately.

Makes about 22 g (1 cup)

Assembling the Chocolate Chip Layer Cake

1 recipe Chocolate Chip Cake (above)

About 1/4 cup whole milk

1 recipe Liquid Cheesecake (above)

1/2 recipe Chocolate Crumb

1 recipe Coffee Frosting (above)

1 6-inch cake ring

2 (3″ by 20″) acetate strips

1. Put a piece of parchment on the counter. Invert the cake onto it and peel off the parchment. (If the cake is stuck to the sides of the pan, go around the edge of the pan with a knife to loosen it.) Use the cake ring to cut out 2 circles from the cake, as if you were using a giant cookie cutter. These will be your two cake layers. The bottom cake layer will be made from the remaining scraps.

2. Clean the cake ring and place it on a clean piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan or cutting board. Line the inside of the cake ring with one acetate strip.

3. Put the cake scraps into the ring, and use the back of your hand to push the scraps into an even layer.

4. Using a pastry brush, apply a nice soaking of milk to the top of the cake layer (not too much, or it can leak out of the bottom of the cake!).

5. Using a spoon, spread half of the liquid cheesecake over the cake.

6. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the chocolate, and use your fingers to pat them in place.

7. Use a spoon to spread 1/3 of the coffee frosting over the chocolate crumbs. It’s a little hard to spread this over the cheesecake and crumbs, put just dollop it on and spread as best as you can. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

8. With your index finger, gently tuck the second acetate strip between the cake ring and the top 1/4 of the first strip, so that you have a clear ring of acetate 5 to 6 inches tall. Set a cake round on top of the frosting, and repeat the process for the first layer—milk, the rest of the liquid cheesecake, half of the remaining chocolate crumbs, and half of the remaining frosting.

9. Top with the remaining cake round, and cover with the last of the frosting. Sprinkle with the rest of the chocolate crumbs.

10. Cover with plastic wrap, and transfer to the freezer. Freeze for a minimum of 12 hours to set the cake and filling. The cake can remain frozen like this for up to 2 weeks.

11. At least 3 hours before you want to serve the cake, remove the cake from the freezer. Using your fingers and thumbs (pushing on the bottom of the cake to push it up), pop the cake out of the cake ring. gently peel off the acetate strips, and transfer the cake to a cake stand or serving platter. Let it defrost in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours.

The cake can be kept in the fridge, wrapped well in plastic wrap, for up to 5 days.

Makes 1 (6-inch) layer cake

Adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar, by Christina Tosi
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Fluffernutter Cake {For Ella’s 11th Birthday}

Fluffernutter Cake

Before I get to the cake I just have to say that it is INSANE that it’s already been 11 years since Ella was born! I mean, where does time go? She was just a little girl, and now she’s in the middle of her last year of elementary school. Crazy.

Yep, I’m definitely feeling older now. Sigh.

P1010230Fluffernutter Cake

Onto the cake:

After two years of super rich chocolate cakes, Ella chose something much simpler this year. Simpler, but no less delicious. When Ella was little, she loved fluffernutter sandwiches, and when I suggested this cake she thought it was a brilliant idea. Layers of moist (sorry—I know many people can’t stand that word, but there’s no better way to describe this cake) peanut butter cake, filled and topped with a creamy marshmallow meringue frosting.

Fluffernutter Cake

Peanut Butter Layers:

6 large eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups (360 ml) whole milk, at room temperature

1/2 cup (120 ml) grapeseed oil (or any neutral-flavored oil)

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

4 1/2 cups (675 g) all-purpose flour

4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups (340 g) granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups packed (340 g) light brown sugar

3/4 cup (175 g) unsalted butter, softened

About 1 cup (225 g) smooth peanut butter

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottom with rounds of parchment paper, grease again, and dust with flour, tapping out any excess. I used baking spray with flour already in it, to make it a little easier.

2. Whisk the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla together in a medium bowl, until well combined.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, and both sugar on low speed for about a minute, to get it all mixed together evenly. Add the butter and peanut butter, and mix on medium speed until the mixture is crumbly.

4. Add 1/3 of the milk mixture, and beat on medium speed for a couple of minutes. Scrape down the bowl, add another 1/3 of the milk mixture, and mix well. Scrape the bowl down again, and the remaining milk mixture, and mix well, until smooth and creamy. Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared pans (a kitchen scale works great for that!)

5. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centers of the cakes comes out clean, and the top of the cakes springs back when lightly poked, about 50-55 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn the layers out onto a rack to cool completely.

Marshmallow Meringue:

2 cups (450 g) granulated sugar

6 large egg whites

Pinch of kosher salt

1. Combine the sugar, egg whites, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Whisk constantly until the mixture is frothy and hot to the touch, about 5 to 7 minutes.

2. Attach the bowl to the stand mixer, and using the whisk attachment, beat on high until it’s thick, shiny, and bright white, and the bowl is cool to the touch. This can take 10 minutes or more.

Assembling the Cake:

If your cake layers are domed (mine were), use a serrated knife to even out the tops (the scarps are great to snack on!). Cut each cake in half horizontally, as evenly as possible. Spread a little bit of frosting onto a serving plate or cake stand. Top with a layer of cake. Add some of the frosting onto the cake layer, spreading with a small offset spatula just to the edges of the cake. Repeat with the rest of the cake layers and frosting, ending with the frosting.

And that’s it! It’s such a quick and simple way to frost a cake, but it looks so pretty.

Adapted from Piece of Cake: Home Baking Made Simple, by David Muniz and David Lesniak

What We Ate: The 1st night of Chanukah & Thanksgiving, 2013

How was everybody’s holiday? It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving 2013 is already over, and that we are already onto the second day of Chanukah! Where does time go???

I decided that since both of these meals took place within about 24 hours time, I will combine them into one post. Here we go:

1st night of Chanukah:

Chanukah

When planning what to have for dinner I knew that I wanted something easy (because, hello, it was going to be the night before Thanksgiving!), but I also wanted to do something fun. I vetoed latkes for the first night (I’m going to save the mess from frying for a night that’s not the night before Thanksgiving!). I decided to do finger foods that could be made earlier in the afternoon, and we’d eat it picnic-style on the living room floor in front of the menorah.

Spiced Sweet Potato Gelt with Orange Honey Sour Cream Dipping Sauce

The first thing I made, which is what gave me the idea of doing that type of dinner, are these Spiced Sweet Potato “Gelt” with Orange Honey Sour Cream Dipping Sauce. I loved how easy these were to make, and I way more of them than I should have!

Baked Zucchini Coins with Tomato Sauce

In keeping with the “gelt” theme, I also made these Baked Zucchini Coins with Tomato Sauce. These were a little more time-consuming to make, because of the triple dipping you need to do, but they were very worth it because they were delicious.

Onion, Mushroom & Goat Cheese Mini Frittatas

The last thing I made were these Onion, Mushroom, and Goat Cheese Mini Frittatas. They are made in muffin tins, making them a perfect size for picking up and eating, no forks necessary. The tomato sauce from the zucchini coins was also incredible with these.

I set it all out in a side table in the living room, and after we lit the menorah we filled up our plates, sat down, and watched the candles flickering.

Thanksgiving:

Thanksgiving 2013

It was just the five of us again for Thanksgiving this year, so my goal was to have a variety of foods, but keep the prep simple and not have too many leftovers . I made several new recipes this year, many of which are from fellow bloggers. I think the meal I ended up with was perfect!

Pumpkin Glazed Turkey Legs

I knew I didn’t want to roast a whole turkey. Last year I made a roast turkey breast, but this year I decided to go with turkey legs. When I saw this recipe for Pumpkin Glazed Turkey Legs, full of wonderful fall flavors, I knew that it would be perfect. The glaze was wonderful! The only problem I had was that mine took a lot longer to cook, but that could be due to the size of the legs that I used. (You can see how many times I cut into them to check doneness—must get a meat thermometer!)

Bourbon-Vanilla Cranberry Sauce

Due to my insane love of vanilla, I added this Bourbon-Vanilla Cranberry Sauce to my menu the same day it was posted! So simple to make, and so delicious!

Spiced Sweet Potato Casserole

I wanted to make some sort of sweet potato dish, but I did not want anything that involved marshmallows! I went with this Spiced Sweet Potato Casserole, which I thought was wonderful.

Grandma's Saltine Stuffing/Dressing

It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving to me if I didn’t make my grandma’s saltine stuffing (dressing). I know it probably sounds weird to most of you, but I love the stuff! This year, I couldn’t resist baking it in a cast iron skillet!

Roasted Cauliflower with Chickpeas, Mustard & Parsley

The final recipe for our main course was Roasted Cauliflower with Chickpeas, Mustard & Parsley from It’s All Good. This has become my favorite way of serving cauliflower. Try it, it’s outstanding! (Recipe below)

Amaretto Apple Crisp

For dessert I made this wonderful Amaretto Apple Crisp that I served warm with vanilla soy ice cream from Trader Joe’s. Why store-bought ice cream , when I so obviously love to make my own? Well, we keep kosher, which means no dairy at a meat meal. T.J.’s does non-dairy ice cream very well, so I don’t mind relying on the when I need to.

Thanksgiving 2013

And that’s that! Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend (and Chanukah, if you celebrate it)!

Thanksgiving 2013

I’m very obviously way more into the sides than the turkey! 😉

Roasted Cauliflower with Chickpeas, Mustard, & Parsley

1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed & drained, and dried with a kitchen towel

1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets

Extra-virgin olive oil

Coarse Sea Salt

1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard

1 tablespoon seeded mustard (I use country-style Dijon)

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley

1. Place a rack in the middle of your oven, and preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Combine the chickpeas and the cauliflower florets on a large sheet pan, and toss with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and a big pinch of salt. roast for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until everything is dark brown and the cauliflower is soft.

3. In a small measuring cup or bowl whisk together 1/4 cup of olive oil, the 2 mustards, the vinegar, a big pinch of salt, and a few big grinds of pepper. Pour over the still-warm chickpeas and cauliflower, add the parsley, and toss to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 4 servings

From It’s All Good, by Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Turshen

Because You’re Mine Cake {For Miriam’s 6th Birthday}

Because You're Mine Cake

Well. Here we are. The final birthday cake of 2013. All five of our birthdays are in late spring through early summer, and Miriam’s is the last one.

When I asked Miriam what kind of cake she wanted for her birthday, she said she wanted a chocolate cake with vanilla frosting. I love that combination (I used it for Tova’s 1st birthday cake), so I was more than happy to go with that. However, because I am me and I always have to do something different for every cake, I spent some time trying to figure out exactly what cake I wanted to make. Then I remembered that the book that I used for Chaim’s birthday cake has an incredible-looking chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream right on the cover. Perfect.

Because You're Mine Cake

The Because You’re Mine Cake has several components to it, including a chocolate roulade which needs to be made a day in advance. While a bit time-consuming, none of it is very difficult (even the assembly wasn’t as hard as I imagined it would be). I think the hardest part was separating 24 eggs (yes, you read that right—24 eggs). And since you use all 24 of the yolks, and 23 of the whites (for 2 different components), it helps to separate them into 3 bowls from the beginning. I set out 3 bowl, each with a post-it note next it—one labeled “24 yolks”, one labeled “15 whites”, and one labeled “8 whites”. Plus I had one glass cup to break them over, and another glass cup to transfer any eggs that I broke the yolks of into (make sure you have plenty of extra eggs!).

In order to keep track of how many eggs I cracked, I first set aside 15 eggs. I cracked each one over a glass, letting the white go into the glass, transferring the yolk to the yolk bowl, and then transferring the white to the “15 whites” bowl. If a yolk broke, I immediately added another egg to the pile to keep the count the same, and I transferred the broken egg to another glass (the eggs white must be perfectly clean of any trace of yolks, since the whites with be beaten into a meringue, so don’t use any eggs that broke—save them for another use, or discard) . Once I finished the first 15 eggs, I set aside the “15 whites” bowl and made another pile of eggs, this time with 8. I used the same method, transferring the yolks to the yolk bowl and the whites to the “8 whites” bowl, immediately adding another egg to the pile of a yolk broke. Once those 8 eggs were done I just needed one more egg yolk for the yolk bowl, and I was done. *BIG sigh of relief!*

A few days before I was set to make the cake, Miriam decided that she wanted the frosting to be turquoise. While I love the crisp, clean brown and white look of the original, I knew that it would look just as beautiful (and probably more fun for a 6-year-old) in brown and turquoise. Besides, it was her cake, and therefore her decision. And she LOVED it!

Note: Once I rolled up my roulade it was much smaller than 10 inches in diameter. In fact it was just about 8 inches in diameter, so I cut around the vanilla cake layers to make them smaller. If I ever make this cake again I would probably just bake the vanilla cake in an 8-inch pan, However, I will be keeping the directions for the cake the same as they are in the book (using a 10-inch pan), since I don’t know why my roulade came out to be so much smaller.

Because You’re Mine Cake

Vanilla Cake

1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

1 1/2 cups (185 g) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 10-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray, and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the butter and granulate sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating the first one until it is fully incorporated before adding the next one. Add the vanilla bean paste.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the mixer and mix until just combined. Add half the buttermilk and combine. Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture, and mix until just combined. Add the remaining buttermilk, and combine. Add the last 1/3 of the flour mixture, and mix until just combined. Do not overmix.

4. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, spreading with a small offset spatula to even it out. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and springs back when lightly touched.

5. Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan. Once cooled, remove from the pan and split it in half horizontally to make two layers. Set aside.

Chocolate Roulade

24 large egg yolks

1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar, divided

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

8 large egg whites

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (140 g) bread flour

1/2 cup (40 g) Dutch-process cocoa powder (I use Cacao Barry Extra Brute)

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.Line 2 half sheet pans (or jelly roll pans) with parchment paper, and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the egg yolks, half the granulated sugar, and the vanilla extract. Whisk until the mixture lightens to a pale yellow. Transfer to a large mixing bowl

3. Thoroughly wash the stand mixer bowl and whisk attachment.

4. In the clean bowl of the mixer fitted with the clean whisk attachment, whisk together the egg whites and salt until foamy. Slowly add the remaining granulated sugar, and whip until stiff peaks form.

5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and cocoa powder.

6. Stir 1/3 of the egg whites into the yolk mixture. Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold in the remaining whites. Sift the flour-cocoa mixture over the eggs, and gently fold in until evenly and thoroughly incorporated (it may take a little while, but keep turning the bowl as you fold to make sure you get all the flour mixed in).

7. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pan, spreading to an even thickness with an offset spatula. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, until the cakes spring back when you lightly touch them. Let them cool completely in the pans, then cover with plastic wrap and let rest overnight.

Vanilla Buttercream

15 egg whites

3 cups (600 g) granulated sugar

pinch salt

1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste

3 pounds (1.4 kg) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature

Gel food coloring, optional

1. Combine the egg whites, granulated sugar, vanilla bean paste, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Place over a saucepan of simmering water and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved . Insert a candy thermometer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches 160°F (hot enough to kill any bacteria in the eggs).

2. Transfer the bowl to the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and whisk on high speed until the mixture has quadrupled in volume and is cool to the touch. This can take a while since it is such a large batch.

3. Once the meringue is cool switch to the paddle attachment. Add the butter, a few tablespoons at a time, until the mixture thickens and becomes a smooth icing. If the mixture curdles, just keep on beating it and it will smooth back out.

4. Beat in food coloring, if using.

Chocolate Ganache Hearts

8 ounces (225 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. Place the finely chopped chocolate into a heatproof bowl.

2. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream and butter to a simmer.

3. Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate, making sure the chocolate is completely covered. Allow to sit undisturbed for 2 minutes. Whisk together until completely smooth.

4. Allow to cool a bit, and then transfer to a piping bag fitted with a medium round tip. Pipe heart onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. transfer to the freezer to harden.

Assembly

1. Leaving the cakes in the pans, cut each chocolate cake into 3 long, even strips each. Gently transfer the strips to a large sheet of foil of parchment paper on your worktop.

2. Divide half of the buttercream evenly between the cake strips, reserving the other half to cover the cake with. Spread a thin, even layer over the surface of each cake strip.

3. Roll the first strip, buttercream side in, into a tight roll. Move the strip over to the start of the next strip, and continue rolling, with the end of the first roll touching the beginning of the second. Keep adding strips to make a fat spiral cake. Stop if your cake reaches 10 inches in diameter.

4. Place one of the vanilla cake layers on a serving plate and spread with a thin layer of buttercream. Place the giant cake spiral on top of the buttercream, spiral-side down. Spread a thin layer of buttercream over the top of the spiral and top with the other vanilla cake layer. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 1 hour to set.

5. Remove the plastic wrap from the cake and cover the entire cake with a thin layer of buttercream. Place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to set.

6. Coat the cake with the remaining buttercream, smoothing evenly with an offset spatula. Refrigerate for 20 minutes to set.

7. Apply the ganache hearts to the sides and top of the cake, using some softened ganache to help them stick if necessary.

Store, covered, at cool room temperature or in the refrigerator. If refrigerated, make sure to bring back to room temperature before serving—cold Swiss meringue buutercream is pretty gross!

From Bake It Like You Mean It, by Gesine Bullock-Prado

Victoria Sponge Cake

Victoria Sponge Cake

Lucky for me, Chaim chose an easy cake for his birthday this year (especially after my crazy birthday cake!). But easy doesn’t mean boring. While simple, this cake is delicious. Just make sure you use the best strawberries you can find.

Victoria Sponge Cake

And I have to admit, the history geek in me got a little thrill making Queen Victoria’s favorite cake 🙂

Victoria Sponge Cake

For the sponge cake:

2 cups (455 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar

7 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup whole milk

2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

For the filling:

2 cups  heavy cream

1/3 cup (35 g) confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

For the assembly:

4 pints fresh strawberries

1/4 cup (25 g) confectioners’ sugar

Make the sponge cake:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Place the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat until light and fluffy, about 8 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

3. Add eggs one at a time, beating on high speed for 30 seconds and then scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and milk, and beat for a few seconds.

4. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on medium-low speed, slowly add the flour mixture and mix just until incorporated. Using a large rubber spatula, scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and gently fold the batter a few times to make sure that the flour is distributed evenly.

5. Divide the batter evenly between the 2 prepared pans. If you have a kitchen scale, use it to weigh each pan to ensure that they are filled evenly. Smooth the batter with a small offset spatula. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and the cake springs back when touched. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Make the filling:

Combine the heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla bean paste in a mixing bowl, and whisk until stiff and smooth (I did this in my stand mixer with the whisk attachment).

Assemble the cake:

1. Set aside a few of the best-looking strawberries for the top of the cake. Hull and halve the remaining strawberries.

2. Place one of the cake layers on a serving plate, spread with all of the filling, and arrange the halved strawberries over the filling.

3. Place the second cake layer over the berries and cream, dust with the confectioners’ sugar, and top with the reserved whole berries. Serve immediately.

From Bake it Like you Mean It, by Gesine Bullock-Prado