• Birthday Cake Year 3

    I know. It’s been a month again, I KNOW. Here’s the thing. I tried to justify using our hard-won groceries for this blog, but at the end of the day, my fear of using all the eggs for something that didn’t work out kept me from cooking for fun during much of this quarantine. Also, to be frank, my sister and I were eating several variations of white beans for most dinners, and while delicious, they are not very photogenic. I know I usually keep these posts before the recipes on the short side, but what the hell, I have nothing else to do and I know you don’t either, so let’s chat! After returning to my parents’ house and spending a little over a week in ~light~ quarantine, I was finally allowed back in the kitchen last week, and I cannot emphasize enough how much it helped my mood. I put on my headphones, set up my laptop to play movies, and got to work doing what I love most- feeding people.

    I know that I am incredibly lucky to have a job while in quarantine, a roof over my head, and sweet and wonderful parents to take care of me even though I turned 25 last week. These are frightening times, and it’s okay to be scared! The most important thing to remember is that this situation, while it doesn’t necessarily feel like it, is temporary. That’s what I keep reminding myself, and as long as we all do our part and STAY INSIDE, we’ll be okay. So while it’s weird to not be able to run to the grocery store every time I want to cook something random, we’ll make do, learn to love beans, and sometimes have cake for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s quarantine, who cares!

    This brings me to the point of this post, which is this cake. I’m sure you’ve caught on by now that I like to make my own birthday cake. Every year they become more of a project – see years one and two– and this year was no exception. In a perfect world, I was going to take off from work, spend the day at the Met, and then come home and bake a cake, but alas. Now, I had to pour all my birthday energy into this one cake, and boy did I. Because I’m a nutcase and I love to plan things, I had a vision board of sorts where I’d save pictures of cakes over the course of the year as inspiration for my cake, and the one I kept going back to was a sweet pink one topped with maraschino cherries. It felt old fashioned and a little bit like a child’s birthday cake, so uh, the perfect way to ring in year 25. The almond cake is filled with apricot jam, because if it doesn’t taste like a petit four, what’s the use? And, because I’m an adult, I also made my sisters participate in a tea party lunch. Not bad for a quarantine birthday!

    It isn’t a proper birthday without birthday tea!

    Now, because we could all use a few things to be happy about today, here are not five, but TEN things:
    ONE. Those moments where you laugh so much that no sound comes out.
    TWO. Feeling a breeze through the open window.
    THREE. The first sunny day after days of rain.
    FOUR. Texting someone in the middle of the night to find out that they’re still awake too.
    FIVE. Lying in your bed in the dark and hearing the rain tap on the windows.
    SIX. Filling pages of a notebook with thoughts that only you will read.
    SEVEN. Stacks of cookbooks for every occasion.
    EIGHT. Reading a book so good that you finish it in one sitting.
    NINE. Going for a walk to be alone in nature.
    TEN. Driving around with no real destination, listening to music with the windows down.

    Without further ado, let’s bake!!

    Almond Sponge Cake Ingredients
    (from Molly Yeh’s Valentine’s Day Almond Cake)

    ½ cup all purpose flour
    1 tsp baking powder
    8 oz. (1 package) almond paste
    6 eggs, whites and yolks separated
    1 tsp vanilla
    ½ tsp almond extract
    Pinch of kosher salt
    ½ cup white sugar

    American Buttercream Ingredients

    7 cups confectioner’s sugar
    2 sticks butter, softened
    4-6 Tbsp whole milk
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    Food coloring, for decorating
    Apricot Jam, for filling
    Maraschino cherries (with stems), for decorating


    Steps

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare two 8-inch cake pans with butter and parchment paper.

    In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Set aside.

    Using a stand mixer, beat together the almond paste (torn into pieces) and egg yolks until the mixture is thickened and uniform. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and set aside.

    In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Then, add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until the egg whites hold stiff peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the egg yolks, making sure not to deflate the eggs too much. Sprinkle the flour over top and finish by folding into the batter.

    Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 25 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven and loosen the sides of the cake away from the pans, but allow the cakes to cool almost completely in the pans before turning out. They may sink a little in the middles but it’s okay! That’s what frosting is for!

    While the cake cools, make the buttercream by beating together the softened butter and powdered sugar until combined. Add the vanilla, and the milk a few tablespoons at a time until the desired consistency is reached, then the food coloring in whatever colors you feel like!

    To decorate, I didn’t trim the tops of my cakes but you can if you’d like, then place the flat side of one cake down. Fill the middle with your choice of jam and/ or buttercream, then place the second cake on top upside down, so that the flat bottom is the top surface. This will ensure that you have a neat, flat cake!

    If you’d like, lightly cover the top and sides of the cake with a thin layer of frosting to “crumb coat”, and chill for at least an hour, to overnight. Finish with a thicker layer of frosting, then decorate however you’d like! I went a little crazy on the piping, which I’m still trying to get better at, and topped it with cherries. Enjoy, and stay safe!!

    xoxoxoxD

  • Salty Honey Panna Cotta with Crushed Raspberry Sauce

    I’m baaaaaaack! It’s been a while, I know. Here’s the thing, I’ve been all over (mentally and physically), but really what happened was I went to England (!!!) to visit my sister Clare and then for some reason I needed several weeks to recover. I won’t go into all the details but we had the most wholesome time and I saw everything from the Tower of London to the (haunted) Viaduct Tavern. We did SO much walking, got our ears pierced (sorry Mom), and we saw SO many sights and quite frankly I’d like to move there thank you. But to be honest, I have been trying to write this same blog post for three weeks now, and I don’t know WHY its taken me so long to get it out because this was such a delicious and easy dessert to make.

    It all started when I was home and bored and flipping through my two (2) Alison Roman cookbooks because why not? It was a Saturday and I was looking for something to entertain me, I didn’t really want to go outside, after all. I came across this recipe and it sounded like the perfect combination of lazy and fancy, which is my entire Aesthetic™️. It’s made with several different types of dairy, including buttermilk, heavy cream, and sour cream, and topped with a bright and perfect raspberry smash, and all I’m saying is that people should expect this dessert at all my dinner parties for the rest of ever, thanks.

    If memory serves, this is one of the first Alison Roman recipes I’ve written about on Sweet D, I can’t believe it! She is a powerhouse of cooking things and I aspire to be as chic and clever as she is and basically what I’m getting at is that this might as well be an Alison Roman stan blog from now on. The most fun part about this recipe is that you can pour the custard into any containers you’d like really, which is why I used my collection of martini glasses and my brand new English tea cup, because who wouldn’t love to be served dessert from a tea cup, I ask you.

    Okay anyway, that’s enough of me ranting, here are 5 things to be happy about before we start cooking. Baking? Preparing? I don’t really know how to describe it for this particular dessert. Ah well, here we go!
    ONE. Taking a nice long walk on an unseasonably warm day.
    TWO. The sound of rain hitting the windows outside.
    THREE. Getting your hair blown out and feeling incredibly fancy for a day.
    FOUR. Being barefoot in your own house.
    FIVE. The feeling of being on vacation.

    Okay let’s go!

    Ingredients

    1 envelope (¼ ounces) unflavored gelatin
    ¼ cup water
    3 cups heavy cream, divided
    ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
    1 cup buttermilk
    1 cup sour cream
    2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
    Pinch of salt
    6 ounces fresh raspberries
    1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar


    Steps

    In a measuring cup, add the water and pour the envelope of gelatin over it. Allow to sit for 2 to 3 minutes so that it softens and hydrates.

    In a small pot, add the softened gelatin, ½ cup cream, and ½ cup honey. Heat over low heat, swirling until the gelatin is dissolved. Do NOT simmer, as it will denature the gelatin and prevent it from firming back up.

    Gently whisk the sour cream, buttermilk, vanilla, the remaining 2½ cups cream, and salt into a large bowl. Slowly whisk the warm gelatin mixture over the cream mixture, but make sure not to whisk so hard that air bubbles form. Divide the mixture among the glasses, it will be 6 to 10 glasses, depending on their size. Chill until set, 1 to 2 hours.

    In the meantime, add the raspberries to a bowl with the vinegar and 2 tablespoons of honey. Crush the raspberries with the back of a fork so that the juices are released, and stir to combine. To serve, top each panna cotta with the portion of the raspberries, and a drizzle of honey, if you’d like!

    YUM!!

    Want some more Sweet D? Look here, here, and here!

  • Cinnamon Ice Cream

    Soooo this all started because of a little show called Gourmet Makes. You know it? I hope so. If you don’t, it’s a Bon Appetit YouTube series where Claire Saffitz of the BA Test Kitchen reverse engineers different popular candies and snacks, to make them less processed and even tastier. Last week’s episode? Gourmet Ben and Jerry’s! She tried a series of flavors like pistachio, cherry garcia, and coffee chip, and by the end of the episode I wanted ice cream more than I’ve ever wanted it before. But, since it was almost 11:30 at night and all stores were closed, I had literally no choice but to order an ice cream machine on Amazon. I don’t make the rules, that’s reasonable, right?

    You know what’s so great about making ice cream? Once you have a good base recipe, you can play around with it any way you like, steeping the cream with different aromatics, swirling jams or chocolate into the mixture while it churns, you name it! I myself can’t wait for summer corn season, so I can make a blueberry jam swirl with a sweet corn base.

    But today’s recipe is inspired by a gelato that I used to eat (almost) every single day while studying abroad. The Gelateria was called Edoardo, and I would get the same two scoops in every cup- honey poppyseed, and cinnamon. When I tell you I still think about that cinnamon gelato at least once a day, I’m not lying. Now I know this is ice cream and not gelato and they are slightly different, the flavor is just as good. Real cinnamon is such a delicate, warming flavor, and when combined with a thick, vanilla custard, you will never want to eat another flavor. So naturally, instead of doing any Super Bowl related anything on Sunday, I made ice cream! And watched Chilling Adventures of Sabrina for the third time! A weekend well spent if you ask me.

    Anyway, before we get started, here are 5 things to be happy about today!
    ONE. Remembering a memory that had been foggy for so long.
    TWO. The Notes app on your phone holding all your random thoughts.
    THREE. Wearing your favorite outfit and feeling the confidence boost.
    FOUR. Remembering your reusable bag for a trip to the store.
    FIVE. Taking a risk that pays off.

    Let’s do this! Beware the brain freeze!

    Ingredients

    6 egg yolks
    2 cups heavy cream
    1 cup whole milk
    2/3 cup granulated sugar
    1 tsp ground cinnamon
    1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla bean, sliced in half)
    1/8 tsp fine sea salt

    Steps

    Add all the egg yolks to a medium bowl. Mix together the cinnamon and sugar until combined. In a saucepan, heat together the cream, milk, cinnamon sugar, salt, and vanilla bean paste (or split vanilla bean). Simmer this mixture until the sugar dissolves and remove from the heat.

    Whisking constantly, drizzle about a third of the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks, then transfer these tempered egg yolks to the saucepan with the rest of the cream. Return the pot to medium heat and cook slowly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Allow the cinnamon and vanilla to steep for 30 minutes at room temperature before straining.

    Cover the strained custard and chill for at least 4 hours, up to overnight.

    Churn the custard in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturers instructions. Once completed, it can be eaten immediately as soft serve, or store in the freezer for scoopable ice cream. Congratulations, you’ve made ice cream!! I’m gonna go eat some for dinner.

    xoxoxoxo

    Looking for more weekend projects? Look no further than here and here!