Coconut Paris Brest

Hello and happy Tuesday my blossoms! Today’s recipe sounds super fancy because it IS, but it’s also not super hard to make, which in my book is always a plus. What is a Paris Brest you ask? Aside from something that made all my siblings laugh every time I said it, a Paris Brest is a ring of choux pastry, the kind you would have in an eclair or a cream puff, cut in half and typically filled with praline cream and topped with a dusting of powdered sugar. When I served this to my family the other day, my Grandpa, being the world traveler that he is, wondered if this pastry got its name by being served on the train between the cities of Paris and Brest in France. Turns out he’s not that far off, because when I searched for the origin of this dessert, I found that it was commissioned by Pierre Giffard, a French journalist, to commemorate a bicycle race from Paris to Brest and then back to Paris. Who knew?

So, recently, I came across this recipe from Zoe Bakes for a Raspberry Paris Brest and I was immediately interested. However, I had been using too much raspberry in my baking recently, so I decided that I would take the basic idea for this pastry and try something different. We had a lot of shredded coconut leftover from the holidays so suddenly it hit me: a Coconut pastry cream filled Paris Brest complete with toasted coconut. And wow was I happy I tried this because it is a DREAM. The pastry cream is made with cans of coconut milk rather than whole milk, which provided a delicate coconut flavor amplified by the toasted flakes that I sprinkled on top. While this is best consumed the same day that it’s been assembled, that won’t stop me from eating this until there is not a scrap left. Also a note, the dough recipe below will leave you with a lot leftover if you’re simply piping the three rings for your pate a choux. I got nervous and underestimated how much it would grow while baking, so I added more piped rings until I had used all the batter, and it produced a truly enormous ring. Like bigger than my head, could have maybe used it as a hoola hoop. This was not a problem for me because I have a big family and I love baked goods, but if you fear it will be too much, only pipe the original three rings and save the rest of the dough for some eclairs or even a second Paris Brest with a different flavor combo!

 

Now that that’s settled, here are 5 things to be happy about today:
ONE. The smell of fresh coffee and bacon waking you up on a Saturday morning.
TWO. Getting an unexpected letter or message from someone you love.
THREE. Grilled cheese and tomato soup.
FOUR. Trying something new at a restaurant and discovering you love it.
FIVE. When winter days start getting longer and the sun stays up past 5pm.

Happy? Good. Let’s bake!

Makes: 1 12-inch choux ring, or 1 8-inch ring with leftover dough
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Bake Time: 50 minutes

Pâte à Choux Ingredients

½ cup whole milk
½ cup water
1 stick (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut small
1 Tbs white sugar
½ tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, room temperature
Egg wash; 1 egg + 1 Tbs water
¼ cup slivered almonds

Pâte à Choux Steps

ONE. To start, set up a large sheet pan with parchment paper, and trace an 8-inch circle on the opposite side of the paper. Flip the paper back over so that you can see the traced circle but no pencil lead will get on the pastry.

TWO. In a large saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar, and salt to a simmer over medium heat. Once at a rapid simmer (not before!), add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon. Cook the mixture on low heat, stirring until the dough forms a smooth ball, about 4-5 minutes.

THREE. Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer and begin mixing. Add the eggs one at a time until the dough becomes smooth and sticky, and not too stiff so that the mixture can be piped and will rise nicely.

FOUR. Set up a piping bag with a large round tip, then fill the bag with your dough. Pipe an even circle around the outside of the traced circle on your parchment paper, then pipe a second circle inside of the first. Pipe a third circle on top of the first two circles, in the seam between the two. Now, because I had so much dough left, I then added a third ring to the bottom layer, then a second to the middle, and one on the very top, but be warned, this makes a very wide Paris Brest (not that that’s a bad thing AT ALL). If you have a lot of dough left over but don’t want to make an enormous pastry, you could always make some eclairs as well! Just pipe the remaining batter into logs and bake.

FIVE. Paint the ring of choux dough with egg wash, and sprinkle the almonds evenly on top. Bake the dough at 375ºF for 30 minutes, then, without opening the oven door, reduce the temperature to 350ºF ad bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until the top is evenly golden. Turn the oven off and allow the pastry to cool there for one hour.


Coconut Pastry Cream Ingredients

4 cups canned coconut milk (I used Goya)
1 cup white sugar, divided
4 Tbs unsalted butter
½ tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste, or 1 whole vanilla bean, deseeded
6 Tbs cornstarch
2 eggs
6 egg yolks

Coconut Pastry Cream Steps

ONE. Bring the coconut milk, ½ cup sugar, butter, salt, and vanilla to a light boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan on medium. Remove from heat.

TWO. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch to get rid of any lumps. Add the eggs and egg yolks to this bowl and whisk until smooth and combined.

THREE. Carefully and slowly drizzle some of the hot coconut milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to temper the eggs but not cook them. When the eggs are warm to the touch, pour them back into the saucepan with the milk and return to a boil. Stirring constantly, the mixture will get thick pretty quickly, but continue to cook for 2-3 minutes so that the custard will set and won’t separate.

FOUR. Strain the pastry cream through a sieve into a large bowl to catch any stray cooked egg, then press a sheet of plastic wrap to the surface to prevent a skin forming. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes to cool the eggs, then keep in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use.


Assembly Extras

½ cup coconut, toasted at 325ºF until golden
Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

Assembly Steps

ONE. Using a flexible bread knife, slice the pastry ring in half long ways. Fit a piping bag with a large round tip and fill with the pastry cream. Pipe a generous layer of cream inside the bottom ring, then top with a generous sprinkling of toasted coconut. Repeat with another layer of pastry cream and coconut, then place the top ring back on top. Generously dust with the confectioners sugar and TADA!! Serve in slices and tell everyone you went to culinary school in Paris.

 

 

YAY!! xoxoxoxoxD

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Swedish Almond Tarts

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! Greetings from Connecticut, I hope that you have all enjoyed last nights festivities and are now tucking into a beautiful New Years Brunch. Maybe the thought of rising from your bed right now is too much to bear, but I hope these cutie little tarts change your mind. This week’s recipe is brought to you by one of my faves, Molly Yeh, and they are without a doubt the most photogenic and versatile little tarts I have ever seen. Called Mazariners, they are of Swedish origin, and feature a richly buttery tart shell cup, filled with what I can only describe as pure heaven, aka a dense, moist almond-y cross between a cake and a chunk of marzipan. Traditionally, it’s topped with a white glaze and a cherry (which btw, would be so cute), but following Molly’s recipe, I used a cranberry juice glaze for a hint of tart and a dose of natural rosy color.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my New Year’s resolutions this year, because most years I don’t make any, and then when I do, I ignore/ forget them approximately a week later. But now that I’m an adult, and have pretty much settled into life after college, I figured it was about time I held myself accountable for these things. I won’t bore you with the details, but here’s what I’ve got so far:
Resolution #1: Get better with money. Seriously, STOP spending money I promise you don’t need that 12th sweater (me @ myself all the time).
Resolution #2: Drink more water. For some reason I can’t get this one to stick, and even after countless reusable water bottles, I find myself reaching for my iced coffee instead, but it’s ENOUGH.
Resolution #3: Cut down on waste. Ever since a particularly scarring episode of Blue Planet II I haven been trying to limit the amount of plastic that I use, but I know that I could be doing more to protect our futures and the safety of other inhabitants of this Earth.

Okay that’s maybe good for now, I’m hoping that by putting these out there, I’ll actually have to do them because now everyone knows, so bring on 2019!! Anyway, let’s get this year off on the right foot and start with 5 things to be happy about today:
ONE. When you fall asleep almost immediately after climbing into bed.
TWO. The clean plate club.
THREE. Tree branches coated in snow or frost and sparkling in the light of a streetlamp.
FOUR. Having the song end right as you pull up to your destination.
FIVE. Things you don’t have to work at to enjoy.

Okay now let’s bake!!

Makes: 12 tarts
Prep Time: 45 minutes- 1 hour
Inactive Time: 1 hour
Bake Time: 30 minutes

Butter Tart Shell Ingredients

1/3 cup granulated sugar
1¾ cups flour
½ tsp kosher salt
¾ cup (1½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 egg yolks (save both whites for the filling!)

Almond Filling Ingredients

1 cup almond meal (aka almond flour)
¾ cup sugar
½ tsp kosher salt
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp almond extract
1 egg
2 egg whites (left over from tart shells above)

Glaze/ Decorations

1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 Tbsp cranberry juice
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
Assorted sprinkles, herbs, or sugared cranberries!

Steps

ONE. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the sugar, flour, and salt. Add the butter and pulse until totally incorporated (you’re not looking for butter pieces in this dough). Add the egg yolks and mix until the dough comes together- it will take a minute, it will look like the dough is too dry at first but I promise it won’t be. Remove the dough from the food processor and form a rough disk shape, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least one hour or overnight.

Processed with VSCO with al1 preset

TWO. In the same bowl of the food processor- it doesn’t even need to be cleaned out!- combine the almond flour, sugar, salt, and butter until smooth. Add the almond extract, leftover egg whites, and whole egg, and continue to blend until the mixture is thick and smooth. Set aside while you form the shells.

THREE. Grease a muffin tin generously. On a floured baking mat or surface, roll your shell dough to about a ¼ inch thickness, making sure that it isn’t sticking to any surface as you go. Using a 4-inch circular cookie cutter, cut out 12 circles (dough can be re-rolled once if you run out of room for all 12 at once.

FOUR. This part takes some patience, so carefully take a pastry circle and place it in each cupcake tin, gently pressing so that it molds to the bottom and sides. I had some rips here and there, but don’t get frustrated!! Use leftover scraps and patch up any thin, ripped, or uneven places and no one will be the wiser! Repeat will all 12 circles, and place the tray in the freezer for 15 minutes.

FIVE. While the shells are setting in the freezer, preheat your oven to 350ºF. Fill the frozen shells evenly- I started with a tablespoon in each cup, and then added evenly from there. For me, it ended up being about 1½ tablespoons of filling per cup, You want it to be about ¾ of the way full, because the filling does puff up while it bakes. Bake the filled cups on the lower rack of your oven for 30 minutes, or until the filling is puffed and the tops and shells are lightly golden. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in their pan, and then gently lift each cup from the tin using an offset spatula and cool completely on a wire rack before glazing.

SIX. To make the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, cranberry juice, and vanilla, adding more powdered sugar or juice until the consistency is pourable but quite thick. You want it to sit mostly on top of each tart without going thin or completely dripping down the sides. While the glaze is still wet, top with your desired decorations, and enjoy!!

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!! xoxoxoxD

 

Braided Jammy Breakfast Breads

Over this year I’ve conquered many a fear, but none that I am more proud of than my old fear of bread. Maybe I was just doing everything wrong before now, but after making these beautiful braids, it’s clear that this recipe is going to become a staple in my home. Inspired by two different people, this original recipe comes from Zoe Francois of Zoe Bakes, in her new book Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes A Day. I believe the original recipe used raspberry jam and cream cheese with a hint of lemon, so my second bread closely resembles that one. Last week, I came across Adrianna Adarme of A Cozy Kitchen, preparing her variations on this beautiful bread and by then, I was convinced. So, here we are, with one classic raspberry and lemon, and a second that tastes like breakfast and pie in one. What is it, you ask? Oh only blueberry jam with cinnamon cream cheese and maple glaze! I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s truly heavenly.

With next week being Christmas, I’ll be taking a week off to spend time with all my siblings and family together, as well as my best friend, who works with the Peace Corps and is home from Ethiopia for just two weeks!!! But never fear, for I will be back New Year’s Day with a fresh start to 2019 and plenty more to be happy about in the future. If you celebrate, wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, and a healthy, prosperous New Year full of food and happiness.

Some notes on this bread: I give the preparations for two variations of cream cheese, jam and glaze fillings, but you have total creative license here! Fill them with chocolate like my incredibly talented friend Taylor, fill them with different jams or homemade jams or make them savory! It’s totally up to you, and it will be delicious any way you slice it. Also, when following this recipe, she mentions that the dough is easier to roll and slice if it’s been chilled after it rises, I was slightly pressed for time so I skipped this step and found it to be perfectly manageable, but if you’re having difficulty with forming the shape, try to refrigerate the dough for a while! Finally, this dough should be cooled completely before it’s glazed so that the glaze doesn’t melt right off, but it would be delicious warmed up before eating. There’s also no need to double this recipe for two loaves, one batch of dough is divided into two.

Before we get to breading and braiding, here are 5 things to be happy about today!
ONE. The smell of bread baking and filling your whole house.

TWO. Having specific candles for specific holidays and seasons.

THREE. Hosting a dinner party with a signature cocktail.

FOUR. Star Wars Episode IV.

FIVE. Spending New Year’s Eve in your pajamas with friends and never having to venture into the cold.


Makes:
2 braided loaves
Prep Time: 1 hour
Inactive Time: 2 hours
Bake Time: 30 minutes

Bread Dough Ingredients

2 eggs, lightly beaten
¾ cup + 2 Tbsp lukewarm water
1½ tsp dry active yeast
1½ tsp kosher salt
¼ cup honey
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3½ cups bread flour

Filling Ingredients

8 ounces cream cheese, divided in half
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
½ tsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp granulated sugar, divided in half
¼ cup blueberry jam
¼ cup raspberry jam
Egg Wash (1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water)

Icing Ingredients

1 cup powdered sugar, divided in half
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
Splash of vanilla extract
2 to 3 Tbsp maple syrup
½ tsp lemon zest
2 to 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Milk, to thin glaze as necessary

Steps

ONE. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl with a wooden spoon), mix together the beaten eggs, yeast, water, salt, honey, and melted butter. Add the flour and, without kneading, mix with a paddle attachment or with a large spoon until combined. Allow to rise, covered, in a warm place for at least 2 hours.

 

TWO. In two separate bowls, make the cream cheese fillings. In one bowl, mix together 4 oz. cream cheese, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1 Tbsp granulated sugar. Set aside. In a second bowl mix together the remaining 4 oz. cream cheese, lemon zest, and remaining 1 Tbsp sugar.

THREE. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Dust your rolling surface with flour, and divide your dough in half. With the first half of dough, roll into a rectangle that is roughly 9″ x 12″. It may take some stretching, I found that it tends to shrink back at first.

FOUR. Transfer the rectangle of dough carefully to your first baking sheet. Using a ruler and a knife or bench scraper, lightly mark the dough into 3 long sections, this will make it easier to fill and fold. In the center third, spread an even layer of the cinnamon cream cheese, then top with the blueberry jam, spreading with an offset spatula to keep everything uniform.

FIVE. Using a pair of kitchen shears (or a knife), cut the two outer thirds into ½ inch strips all the way down. To form the log shape, alternate folding a strip from each side across the filling in a slant, from top to bottom, to form a braid. Wrap the tray in plastic wrap the baking sheet loosely in plastic wrap and allow to sit for an hour before baking.

 

SIX. Repeat steps two through five with the second type of cream cheese and jam, and allow to rest for an hour.

SEVEN. When there’s about 15 minutes left in the bread’s hour long rest, preheat your oven to 350ºF. To bake, brush each loaf with your prepared egg wash, and bake for 30 minutes, switching trays halfway through to ensure both loaves brown evenly.

EIGHT. While the loaves are cooling, prepare the glazes in two bowls. In the first, mix ½ cup powdered sugar with cinnamon, vanilla, and maple syrup. If it’s too thick for pouring, it can be thinned with milk as necessary, or thickened with more powdered sugar. For the second, mix the remaining powdered sugar with lemon zest and lemon juice, adjusting the amounts of lemon juice and sugar as necessary so that the glaze is opaque and thick.

NINE. When the breads have cooled completely, drizzle generously with the glazes (with a spoon or with a ziplock with the tip cut off) and enjoy at any time of the day or night, but specifically for breakfast with a cup of coffee by the Christmas tree or on the couch.

YUM!!! xoxoxoxoxoD

Christmas Spritz Cookies

WOOOOOOO got that holiday spirit this weekend who is WITH ME?? Last week was such a wonderfully Christmas themed week at the Lewis house- we took our annual trip to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in the city (it never gets old), saw the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, and wandered the Bryant Park Christmas village like a bunch of tourists and it was a blast. THEN, on Saturday we bought our Christmas tree and decorated it while eating these very cookies, and it was all very cozy and warm and happy. Funny story, on last year’s Christmas tree, my siblings and I stuck a picture of Harry Styles’ face over the angel on top of our tree (because he is the true angel), and waited to see when our parents would notice. The days went by, Christmas went by, and NO ONE noticed until the day we took our tree down. Now, we’re already plotting who to make the angel of our tree this year…any suggestions?

Isn’t she lovely!!

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been buying Christmas presents like crazy and wondering if you’ll ever have enough, but I doubt there’s a person alive who wouldn’t be overjoyed to receive these babies in a lil box. The recipe I adapted comes from this recipe from the New York Times by Alison Roman, whom I admire very much. I didn’t change a whole lot, aside from using salted butter instead of unsalted because I had run out, and was pleased to discover that the combo of regular salted butter and the recommended teaspoon of salt made for a beautifully sweet and salty combo that I will be making from now on. 10/ 10 would recommend adding this to your Christmas cookie repertoire, and pull it out for your next cookie exchange or office party.

Enough chit chat however, here are 5 things to be happy about today!
ONE. Jelly doughnuts.

TWO. Seeing a second trailer for Captain Marvel (I will lose my mind seeing this movie).

THREE. The smell of a fresh Christmas tree.

FOUR. Giving presents feeling better than getting presents.

FIVE. Having a favorite tree ornament.

 

Makes: Roughly 130- 140 cookies (I KNOW!)
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 12-15 minutes
Required Tools: Spritz cookie press (I used one from OXO)

Ingredients

3½ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1½ cups (3 sticks) salted butter, softened
1¼ cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Colored sugar, sprinkles for decorating

Steps

ONE. Preheat oven to 325ºF. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder.

TWO. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter and sugar and beat until the mixture is creamed together and becomes light yellow and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Beat until everything is well combined, about 2 minutes.

THREE. Carefully add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined, about a minute. Load the dough into the cookie press in batches, and press cookies out onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Top with colored sugar or sprinkles immediately so that they will stick. (I used an egg wash, which you are welcome to do, but I didn’t like the way it made the colors of the sprinkles run so I won’t be doing that again.)

FOUR. Bake the cookies for 12 to 15 minutes, until just golden. Be careful not to overbake, these cookies are small and will go from golden to burnt pretty quickly.

Best enjoyed with a large mug of hot chocolate (regular or peppermint!) xoxoxoxoxoD

 

 

Old-Fashioned Gingerbread with TWO Glazes

Hello hello hello! Welcome to life after Thanksgiving, I hope you have all finally gotten your appetites back because I am now in FULL ON Christmas mode!! Up first? Gingerbread. But not the hard, dry gingerbread cookies with rock solid royal icing that make me sad, this is the real deal, from one of my mom’s old cookbooks that has been a holiday staple in our house for as long as I can remember. The recipe produces nine plush squares of richly spiced cake, and it’s a perfect complement to any topping you could possible want. Whipped cream? Check. Caramel? Check. Chocolate Sauce? Check!

EVEN lemon sauce, which is how this cake was designed to be served. However, because I love ~options~, I created a second sauce as well. I look forward to the Starbucks Holiday coffees all year round, and when I thought about the gingerbread latte, it hit me! Coffee glaze, too! It also reminded me of a classic bundt cake that my grandma used to make, which featured one half citrus glaze and one half coffee. The best slice was always the one that had some of each glaze!

Finally got all my siblings together for the first time in MONTHS! A Thanksgiving miracle.

Before you get started, here are some Holiday themed happys for you!!
ONE. The debate on what goes best with a piping mug of Hot Chocolate- marshmallows or whipped cream.
TWO. Getting all your present shopping done early.
THREE. Driving past a car with a Christmas tree strapped to the roof.
FOUR. Houses that really commit to their outdoor light display.
FIVE. Recovering from post-Thanksgiving meal depression when you realize you get to do it all over again in a MONTH!!

Okay now that’s that, let’s GO!

Makes: 9 squares, with approx. 2 cups of glaze
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients
adapted from McCall’s Superb Dessert Book

1½ cups all purpose flour
1½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 egg
1 cup molasses
½ cup melted butter
½ cup hot water
2 cups powdered sugar, separated
2-3 Tbsp lemon juice
2-3 Tbsp brewed (cooled) coffee
½ tsp vanilla

 

Steps

ONE. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Grease an 8×8″ square baking pan.

TWO. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour with baking soda, salt, and all the spices. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg with molasses, melted butter, and hot water until well combined.

THREE. Gradually beat in the flour mixture until smooth.

FOUR. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and gently tap for bubbles. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting into nine squares.

FIVE. Divide the powdered sugar into two small bowls. Add the lemon juice to one bowl and coffee + vanilla to the other, starting a tablespoon at a time until you have reached the desirable pouring consistency. Serve each slice warm with a generous drizzle of one glaze or BOTH get crazy!!

xoxoxoxoD

Chocolate Sheet Cake with Strawberry Milk Buttercream

HERE WE ARE!! Welcome to Sweet D’s 50th recipe post! I simply can’t believe how quickly time flies, can you? It seems like 5 minutes ago that I was just starting out, wondering if I was going to give up after 2 weeks. I find myself getting bored so easily that a small part of me was worried I would be over it pretty soon, but heck no! 50 recipes later and I’m having just as much fun as when I started, more so even, now that I’ve found a rhythm. I have grown as a cook and a baker, challenged myself, and learned so much.

It seems perfect that this milestone comes the week of Thanksgiving, when I’m reminded of everything that I’m thankful for in this life. I know it’s so cheesy to say, but I’m going to anyway. I am so lucky to have the support of my family and my friends, all of whom push me to do my very best, and who are always there to taste test. I am also thankful for this love of food, and for those bloggers and professionals who have continued to inspire me. And last but not least, I am thankful for each and every person that reads Sweet D, because without you I would just be talking nonsense into the internet void, which would still be fun for sure, but not nearly as fulfilling.

It’s only fitting that I celebrate this little life victory with a cake, because is it really a celebration if you don’t eat one? Today’s cake is equal parts lazy and extra, much like myself. It’s lazy in that I baked a chocolate sheet cake and didn’t want to even remove it from the dish- no sides to frost, no trimming, no stacking! But its extra-ness comes from this glorious frosting. I came across this recipe for German Buttercream on Serious Eats, and I had never heard of it before!! I’ve heard of American, Swiss, and Italian buttercreams, but German? I just had to know.

Upon digging deeper, I learned that to make this style of buttercream, you essentially have to make pudding first, chill it, and then whip it with butter and voila!  What’s cool is that you can infuse the milk with other flavors before you make the pudding, which got me thinking…what if the milk wasn’t just regular milk, but strawberry milk?? That beautiful, millennial pink stuff in the Nesquik bottles, reminiscent of childhood, its flavor a perfect compliment to chocolate cake. And so, an idea was hatched, and here we are.  And, because I had to take it just another level higher, I conquered another fear and that fear is buttercream flowers. I’ll tell you that practice makes perfect for these, but some reference videos and a good set of piping tips surely helps as well. This frosting has 5 sticks of butter in it (trust me, it’s not a typo), so if you find the buttercream starting to get too warm as you pipe, throw it in the fridge for 15 minutes and then go from there!

Here is the video I found helpful from Wilton, just keep going, you can always scrape the flowers off and start again!! It turns out to be very calming; I put on some TV, got comfy, and piped away!

And because it wouldn’t be a Sweet D post without some happys, here are 5 things to be happy about today:
ONE. The first snow of the year.
TWO. Christmas Tree Farms
THREE. Thanksgiving naps after too much turkey.
FOUR. Watching the parade from under a cozy blanket with a nice cup of tea.
FIVE. Early rising and productive mornings.

Makes: One 9 x 13″ sheet cake, serves 12-15, plus 7 cups buttercream
Prep Time: 1 hour
Inactive Time: 2 hours
Bake Time: 35-40 Minutes

Chocolate Sheet Cake Ingredients

2 cups white sugar
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for pan
1½ tsp baking powder
1½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
½ cup flavorless oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup boiling water
½ cup very hot brewed coffee

Chocolate Sheet Cake Steps

ONE. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9×13″ baking dish and dust with cocoa powder.

TWO. In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder + soda, and salt. Once combined, add the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat this mixture on medium speed for 2 minutes. Lastly, add the boiling water and hot coffee, mixing slowly to combine without splashing (the batter will be very thin). Transfer to your baking dish.

THREE. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick/ cake tester comes out clean. For this recipe, I’m leaving the cake in the dish for serving, but if you’d like to remove it, allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes before flipping. Otherwise, allow to cool completely in the baking dish before frosting.

 

Strawberry Milk Buttercream Ingredients

1½ cups strawberry milk (or plain milk with strawberry powder/ syrup)
2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or 1 vanilla bean)
¾ cup white sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
3 eggs, cold
1 tbsp vanilla extract
5 sticks (I KNOW, trust me) unsalted butter, at room temp.

 

Strawberry Milk Buttercream Steps

ONE. Combine the strawberry milk and vanilla bean paste in a heavy bottom saucepan and heat on medium until steaming. Set aside to infuse the vanilla bean flavor for at least 1 hour.

TWO. To make the custard, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch in a medium bowl. Once combined with no cornstarch lumps, whisk in the eggs.

THREE. Return the milk to a simmer. Ladle a rough ½ cup of the heated milk mixture to the eggs, whisking constantly, to temper the eggs without cooking them. Repeat with 2 more ladles, then transfer the tempered egg mixture to the pot with the milk.

FOUR. Cook on medium heat, whisking constantly, until the custard becomes thick and lumpy, it should be about 3 minutes. As soon as you see the first bubble in the custard (indicating boiling), set a timer for 2 minutes and continue to whisk constantly. Cooking the custard for these 2 minutes at a steady boil temperature neutralizes a starch-dissolving protein in the egg yolks and ensures a better frosting consistency.

This custard smells SO good, and it has the sweetest rosy pink color!

FIVE. After 2 minutes and off heat, stir in vanilla extract, then pour the custard into a large baking dish to speed up the cooling process. Press a sheet of plastic wrap against the surface and refrigerate until cool, about 1 hour. *Tip: take out your butter to soften now, so that when the hour is up your butter is also ready!

Your frosting should be this fluffy and light, that’s when you know it’s done!

SIX. In the bowl of your mixer, beat the softened butter on medium speed until it’s light and fluffy, it should take about five minutes. Meanwhile, begin to “knead” your cooled custard with a rubber spatula. It will be a very thick consistency, and before adding it to the butter it needs to be mixed into a dough-like state. Once it’s properly mixed, add it to the whipped butter a tablespoon at a time, one right after the other, scrape down the bowl, and mix for a few more seconds to fully combine.

SEVEN. At this point, switch to a whisk attachment and whip on medium speed until the buttercream is airy and light.*

 

*Troubleshooting tips: if a buttercream is going to go wrong, it’s either because the mixture is too warm or the mixture is too cold. The good news is that neither of these are unfix-able so there’s no need to start over! Find your solutions below:

Problem: If your buttercream is too cold, it won’t whip up properly, it looks heavy and thick, not light and airy.
Solution: Place the entire bowl in a warm water bath until the sides of the bowl are slick with melting buttercream, then pop back in the mixer and whip as normal.

Problem: The butter was too warm and now the buttercream is soupy and/ or runny.
Solution: Pop the whole bowl in the fridge and chill for 15 to 20 minutes to firm everything up slightly, then try try again!

Love you love you, xoxoxoxoD.

 

Honeycrisp Apple Fritters

Okay everyone, full disclosure, I made these apple fritters WEEKS ago, and for some reason never got around to writing this down. My bad. Never fear however because it’s always the right time for apple fritters, specifically these ones. I’ll be honest, I’m only recently allowed to fry things in my house, apparently it was thought that I would somehow manage to burn the house down (love you mom!), but I fought for it and here we are, house still standing, fritters warming. This recipe is adapted from America’s Test Kitchen, and what interested me about these originally is that they’re fried in a cast iron skillet. I’ve shied away from other frying projects mainly when they include a huge dutch oven’s worth of oil, it feels wasteful and a little gross if I’m honest. But these beauties fry in only a half an inch of oil, meaning fewer burns for me and less ruined oil, without compromising the flavor and crunch of the fritters themselves.

I haven’t made many adjustments on the original recipe, however I had such a surplus of Honeycrisp apples and I was so in love with their flavor (I still can’t get over how they ACTUALLY taste like honey), and thought that the flavor would fry up nicely. As a result, I cut back some of the sugar, since the original uses Granny Smith apples which are much more tart. Still delicious though, and definitely something I’ll try next time. Also, I’m not the biggest fan of nutmeg, I find the flavor to be overpowering and I think a little goes a long way, so I cut that amount in half, but if nutmeg is your thing, feel free to use a full ½ tsp.

Okay, logistics out of the way, let’s talk about what is approaching. Next week, I’ll somehow be reaching my 50th Sweet D recipe post and I can hardly believe it. How fitting that it comes the week of Thanksgiving, my second favorite holiday! I certainly am thankful for this blog, thankful for anyone who has read since the beginning, for those who have provided me with the inspiration, and for FOOD because without a love of food none of us would be here would we. Anyway, I love everyone and everything and here’s to 50 more Sweet D posts times a hundred.

As is tradition, here are 5 things to be happy about today!
ONE. The Radio City Rockettes.
TWO. Ugly Christmas sweater parties.
THREE. Maple-flavored coffee drinks.
FOUR. Coming home to a package you weren’t expecting.
FIVE. Having exact change.

OKAY it’s fry time!!

Makes: 10-12 fritters
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Fry Time: 30 minutes (total)

Ingredients

2 Honeycrisp Apples, peeled, cored, and cubed
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1½ tsp cinnamon, divided
¼ tsp nutmeg + a pinch (for glaze)
1 cup apple cider
2 eggs
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 cups vegetable or peanut oil, for frying
2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Steps

ONE. Place your oven rack to its middle position and preheat your oven to 200ºF. As you finish frying the fritters, you’ll be transferring them to a cooling rack-lined sheet pan in the oven to drain excess oil and keep them warm. Spread your diced apples out in one layer on a paper towel-lined baking sheet and thoroughly pat them dry.

TWO. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon, and the ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg. In another bowl, mix ¾ cup of the apple cider (the remaining ¼ cup is for glaze), eggs, and melted butter until smooth. At this point, add the apples to the flour and toss until all apples are coated in flour. Pour the apple cider mixture into the flour and apple mixture and mix until all is incorporated.

THREE. Place a wire cooling rack in a rimmed baking sheet and line with paper towels. In a cast iron skillet or other pan suitable for frying, add the oil until it’s about ½ inch deep in the pan, and heat on medium until it reaches 325ºF. It’s pretty crucial to use some kind of candy thermometer here, as the oil temperature fluctuates as you fry and you’ll need to keep track to adjust as necessary.

FOUR. Using a 1/3 measuring cup, scoop and drop the batter in rounds into the oil, frying around 4 at a time depending on how large your skillet is. Flatten slightly with your spatula or a spoon and fry for 6 to 8 minutes, flipping halfway through. Remember, you can always cook for longer but can never take back cooking time, so start with three minutes on each side and then add more time if needed. Transfer finished fritters to the paper-towel lined sheet in the oven and repeat batches until all the batter is used.

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FIVE. In a separate bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, remaining ¼ cup of cider, remaining ½ tsp of cinnamon, and a pinch of nutmeg until smooth. Drizzle about a tablespoon of the glaze over each fritter, and allow to set for 5 minutes (if you can bear it) before eating.

ENJOY!! xoxoxoxox