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Strawberry Vanilla Layer Cake
2

Just a sliver of this strawberry vanilla layer cake, with all of its chocolate crunchies nestled inside the most insanely delicious strawberry buttercream you’ve ever eaten, you’re gonna need your yoga pants.

Strawberry Vanilla Layer Cake

I feel like I need apologize for the sugar rush that’s been happening here of late. And in advance for what the next two weeks look like. Let’s start with this strawberry vanilla layer cake though.

And later this week, we’ll do a trashed-up kale (of course) salad and a new brunch-at-home menu. But for now? This cake will have to do, though it’s not like I’m asking you to sacrifice anything here. Because vanilla butter layer cake with strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream and chocolate crunchies?

Strawberry Vanilla Layer Cake

Hide your bathroom scale and get out your yoga pants. You know the ones – they’re the ones that haven’t seen the inside of a yoga studio in a few years. It’s not like you don’t know where they are. You probably just washed them. (What? Just me?)

Strawberry Vanilla Layer Cake

ANYWAY. You’re gonna want to keep them handy. Because before you slice off a sliver of this decadent cake – maybe for Valentine’s Day? – with all of its chocolate crunchies nestled inside the most insanely delicious strawberry buttercream you’ve ever eaten, you’re gonna want to make yourself at home. Grab a steaming cup of coffee. Or tea. Or a cold glass of milk. Then dive into those vanilla layers, towering over their cake stand at 6 inches tall. And if you’re an OCD cake-eater like I am, make sure you get some cake, frosting, and crunchies in every.single.bite. But I won’t judge you if you just dive right in either. We’ve all been there, too.

Strawberry Vanilla Layer Cake

Strawberry Vanilla Layer Cake

Prep Time: 3 hours

Cook Time: 55 minutes

Yield: 12-16 servings

Ingredients

    For the vanilla cake:
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks (reserve the white for the frosting)
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups (284 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups (297 g) granulated sugar
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp table salt
  • 8 oz (2 sticks; 227 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • For the chocolate crunchies:
  • 1/3 cup (52 g) all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp (2 g) cornstarch
  • ¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup (32 g) dark unsweetened or Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp (1 g) Kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp (42 g) unsalted butter, melted
  • For the vanilla cake soak:
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • For the strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream:
  • 1 ½ cups diced strawberries
  • 4 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups (297 g) granulated sugar
  • Pinch of table salt
  • 12 oz (3 sticks; 341 g) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, at room temperature

Instructions

  1. To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease the bottom and sides of a quarter sheet pan with butter, place a piece of parchment on the bottom of the pan, then grease the parchment and dust the sides of the pan and parchment with flour; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, sour cream, and buttermilk; set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, and salt together. With the mixer on low, drop in the butter a piece at a time, and beat until the mixture looks like coarse sand. With the mixer still on low speed, stream in half of the wet ingredients and then increase the speed up to medium and beat for 30 seconds. Return the mixer to low speed, add the remaining wet ingredients and again at medium speed, beat the batter for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and give the batter a good couple of stirs with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared quarter sheet pan and level off the top with an offset spatula.
  4. Bake for 30-35 minutes. During baking, the cake will rise and puff up so don't be alarmed. When completely done, the cake should bounce back when lightly pressed at the edge and not jiggle in the center when gently nudged - check for this at the 30-minute mark. If the cake isn't finished after 30 minutes, bake for another 3-5 minutes. Keep in mind that dark pans will require less time and probably not the full 35 minutes.
  5. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack until completely cool (you can speed this up in the fridge or freezer). Either wrap the cake in the pan in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 5 days or proceed with the assembly instructions below.
  6. To make the chocolate crunchies: Combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; blend on low until fully incorporated. Add the melted butter and stir until the mixture stars coming together in small clusters. Scatter the clusters in an even layer on a parchment- or silicone-lined baking sheet. Bake for 17-20 minutes, breaking them up every 5-6 minutes. When finished, they should be slightly moist - they will dry and harden as they cool. Allow the crumbs to cool completely before using.
  7. To make the cake soak: Whisk the milk and vanilla together in a small bowl.
  8. To make the strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream: Puree the strawberries in a food processor until small chunks of strawberry remain and the mixture looks like jam; set aside.
  9. In the well-cleaned and dried stand mixer bowl, place the egg whites and sugar. Set the bowl over a pan of shallow water and bring the water to a simmer - the bottom of the bowl should not touch the simmering water. While the water simmers, lightly whisk the egg whites and sugar constantly. Once the mixture has reached a temperature of 160° F to 165° F on a candy thermometer and is completely smooth, remove it from the heat and attach it to the stand mixer with the whisk attachment fitted. Gradually increase the speed up to medium-high, whisking until the mixture is glossy and completely cool, about 8 minutes. The bottom of the bowl will be nearly cool as well.
  10. With the mixer on medium-low, plunk the butter into the bowl two tablespoons at a time, allowing each addition to incorporate completely before adding the next two tablespoons. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and increase the speed to medium, beating until the buttercream comes together about 10 minutes. The mixture will be very loose at first and then it will curdle. Keep beating until it smooths out into a thick buttercream frosting. Once this happens, switch to the paddle attachment and mix the frosting on low speed for 2 minutes to release any air bubbles. Gradually stir in the strawberry puree until thoroughly combined.
  11. To assemble the cake: Invert the full cake layer from the pan onto a piece of parchment paper or Silpat/silcone baking mat on the counter. Peel off the top piece of parchment away from what is now the top of the cake. Using a 6-inch cake ring, cut out two rounds of cake. These will be the top two layers of the finished cake. Use the remaining scraps for the bottom layer of cake in the following steps.
  12. Wash and dry the cake ring and place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet (I washed and reused the quarter sheet pan so it will fit in the freezer later in the process). Line the inside of the cake ring with a piece of acetate that overlaps at the edges and tape the edges together from the outside.
  13. Cobble the cake scraps together in the bottom of the ring to form the first layer - the height should be about equal to that of the other layers. When you think you can't squeeze any more cake in, keep going - you want this to be a sturdy layer under what will be a heavy cake. Brush the top of the layer with some of the cake soak. Spread 1/5 of the frosting (each filling layer will have 2 layers of frosting) out over the cake in an even layer. Sprinkle the top of the frosting with 1/3 of the chocolate crunchies in an even layer. Spread another 1/5 of the frosting over the top of the crunchies - this doesn't have to be too neat.
  14. Add another strip of acetate into the cake ring, just nudging it down below to top of the frosting so that it overlaps at the edges; tape the edges together from the outside. You'll want the total height of the acetate pieces to be about 6 inches tall.
  15. Gently place one of the cut out cake layers on top of the frosting and repeat the filling instructions: cake soak, frosting, crunchies, and frosting. Place the remaining cake layer atop the frosting, brush with the remaining cake soak, slather on the remaining frosting, and scatter the remaining crunchies atop the frosting.
  16. Transfer the sheet pan to the fridge for at least 2 hours to allow the cake and filling to set. Alternatively, the cake, wrapped tightly, will keep for 2 weeks in the freezer.
  17. On serving day: Remove the cake from the refrigerator and with your fingers, pop the cake out of the cake ring. Transfer the cake to a cardboard cake round (at least 6-inches in diameter). (If you froze the cake, you'll need to do this at least 3 hours in advance of serving; allow the cake to thaw in the fridge.) When ready to serve, transfer the cake on the cardboard round to a cake stand or round platter. With a long, sharp knife, cut the cake into wedges and serve. Store the leftovers in the fridge, wrapped tightly, for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Source

Smells Like Home original idea | cake adapted from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book by Sarah Kieffer; chocolate crunchies leftover from this fudgy brownie pie; buttercream from these chocolate covered strawberry cupcakes

http://www.smells-like-home.com/2017/02/strawberry-vanilla-layer-cake/

Fudgy Brownie Pie
2

If you’ve never made brownies in any other shape than a square or rectangle, you need to get on the brownie pie train. Because this fudgy brownie pie, with it’s hot fudge sauce and chocolate crumb toppings is bound to be a game-changer in your brownie world.

Fudgy Brownie Pie

Mark this event as one for the books.

I chose pie over cake.

Fudgy Brownie Pie

And granted, the only thing that makes a pie a pie is that it’s held within in crust inside a pie plate. Because, really, this is just a giant brownie baked in a graham crust in a pie plate. Covered in hot fudge sauce. And crunchy chocolate crumbs.

Fudgy Brownie Pie

But we’ll call this fudgy brownie pie a pie because it does meet the above-noted pie standards. And it’s every bit unhealthy and delicious and decadent and milk-worthy as you think it would be. (maybe a little bit more, in fact.)

Fudgy Brownie Pie

Because sometimes, we all need comfort food like this. And you know what? With that uneasy feeling that the world has tilted off its axis just a little since November 9th, there are certain times that just call for fudgy brownie pie. Covered in hot fudge sauce. And crunchy chocolate crumbs. This is one of those times. So, why the hell not?

Fudgy Brownie Pie

Fudgy Brownie Pie

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 12-16 servings

You can absolutely make this fudge brownie pie without the fudge or the crumbs as toppings, and instead go for a dusting of powdered sugar and maybe a scoop of vanilla or coffee ice cream. You CAN do this but...if you're going for the brownie pie, why not just go all in?

Ingredients

    For the graham crust:
  • 1 ½ cups (190 g) graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ cup (20 g) milk powder
  • 2 tbsp (25 g) granulated sugar
  • ¾ tsp (3 g) Kosher salt
  • 4 tbsp (55 g) unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ cup (55 g) heavy cream
  • For the pie filling:
  • 4 ½ oz (125 g) bittersweet chocolate (72% cacao), finely chopped
  • 6 tbsp (85 g) unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (40 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp (25 g) dark unsweetened or Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp (2 g) Kosher salt
  • ½ cup (110 g) heavy cream
  • For the chocolate crumb topping:
  • 2/3 cup (105 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp (4 g) cornstarch
  • ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup (65 g) dark unsweetened or Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp (2 g) Kosher salt
  • 6 tbsp (85 g) unsalted butter, melted
  • For the fudge topping:
  • 1 oz (30 g) bittersweet chocolate (72% cacao), finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp (18 g) dark unsweetened or Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/8 tsp (0.5 g) Kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp (35 g) light corn syrup
  • 2 tbsp (25 g) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (55 g) heavy cream

Instructions

  1. To make the graham crust: Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl until the crumbs are moistened. Grease a 10-inch pie dish and press 1 ¼ cups of the graham mixture into an even layer across the bottom and up the sides of the dish. Reserve the rest of the graham mixture and set the pie dish aside.
  2. To make the brownie filling: Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine the bittersweet chocolate and butter in a small saucepan and stir until melted and smooth over medium-low heat. (Or heat the two in a bowl in the microwave at 30-second intervals until glossy and smooth.)
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs and sugar together on high speed for 3-4 minutes, until thickened, pale, and fluffy. Swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment and mix the chocolate into the eggs on low for a few seconds and then increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 minute - the mixture should be completely incorporated with no streaks. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  4. Stir in the flour, cocoa powder, and salt on low speed for about 1 minute. If there are still clumps of flour remaining, continue stirring for another 30 seconds. With the mixer on low, pour in the heavy cream and stir for 30-45 seconds, until the mixture loosens up and cream disappears. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl again. Fold in the remaining ¼ cup of graham mixture into the brownie batter.
  5. Place the prepared pie dish on a sheet pan and transfer the brownie batter into the pie shell, level off the top, and bake for 25 minutes. The pie should puff slightly around the edges and form a sugary crust on top. If after 25 minutes, the center is still jiggly, bake for another 5 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 300° F and wash out the mixer bowl if you will make the crumb topping next.
  6. Cool the pie completely on a wire rack. Either serve dusted with powdered sugar and ice cream, or continue on with the hot fudge sauce and crumb toppings.
  7. To make the chocolate crumb topping: Combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; blend on low until fully incorporated. Add the melted butter and stir until the mixture stars coming together in small clusters. Scatter the clusters in an even layer on a parchment- or silicone-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, breaking them up every 5-6 minutes. When finished, they should be slightly moist - they will dry and harden as they cool. Allow the crumbs to cool completely before using.
  8. To make the hot fudge sauce: Combine the chocolate, cocoa powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Heat the corn syrup, sugar, and heavy cream in a small saucepan over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture just comes to a boil. As soon as it boils, pour the hot mixture over the chocolate mixture and let it sit for 1 minute.
  9. Slowly whisk the hot liquid into the chocolate mixture and gently whisk until combined, glossy, and smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Allow the sauce to cool to room temperature before proceeding.
  10. To assemble: Pour the fudge sauce over the top of the pie in an even layer, leaving a ½-inch boarder of brownie peeking out around the edges. Cover the fudge sauce with crumbs. Note: for both of these toppings, you can add less if you prefer. The fudge sauce will keep in the fridge for a few weeks; the crumbs, stored in an airtight container, will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month. I reserved about 1 cup of the crumbs for another use and stored them in the freezer.
  11. Serve the pie right away or chill in the fridge for an hour or so. Leftovers will keep, wrapped tightly, in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Source

adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar by Christina Tosi

http://www.smells-like-home.com/2017/02/fudgy-brownie-pie/

Salted Peanut Butter Cookies
4

With their salty high-top domes, distinctive ridges, and fluffy, chewy interiors, these salted peanut butter cookies, hailing from Brooklyn’s Ovenly bakery, will knock your cookie world off its axis. And for me, that’s saying a lot.

Salted Peanut Butter Cookies

I’m not gonna lie. There are some days when I sit at my desk at work dreaming about cookies. And it’s distracting!

Chocolate chip, of course. And sugar. And cookies with cornflakes and marshmallows. And oatmeal toffee. Ummm…and giant double chocolate too.

Salted Peanut Butter Cookies

But in all honesty, I think it’s peanut butter cookies that I’m almost always craving. For years, we made and remade this honey roasted peanut version and while there was nothing wrong with them – big, soft, with crunchy bits of honey roasted peanuts studded throughout (delicious!!) – when I first started seeing these salty peanut butter cookies cross my path a few years back, with their towering domes and distinctive ridges across the tops – immediately indicating they were from the Brooklyn bakery, Ovenly – I knew I needed them.

And after I made them – all 3 ingredients not including vanilla and salt – I couldn’t tell you how fast they disappeared. For reals. The same thing happened the all of the other times I’ve made them too. Hours, maybe.

Salted Peanut Butter Cookies

No flour, no butter, no baking soda or powder. Just peanut butter, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, and a sprinkle of coarse sea salt over the tops before baking. So freaking simple. The result is soft and chewy interiors with just a lightly crackled outside edge that’s got “those Ovenly ridges,” as I like to call them, and a punch of salt.

The key to the ridges and towering domes of these salted peanut butter cookies is to chill the dough for at least 15 minutes before and after scooping. That’s the hard part because not only do you want cookies like rightthissecond but the dough is phenomenal and resisting it is almost futile.

So go on. Go ahead and cobble together your 3 ingredients right now and get these puppies in the oven. You’ll never look at another peanut butter cookie again. Wish I were even kidding.

Salted Peanut Butter Cookies

Salted Peanut Butter Cookies

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 12-24, depending on the size you scoop them

Ingredients

  • 1 ¾ cups (335 g) light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ¾ cups (16.3 oz jar; 450 g) creamy peanut butter - regular, not natural or organic with a slick of oil on the top
  • Coarse or extra coarse (coarseness varies between brands) sea salt, for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, eggs, and vanilla together until fully incorporated. Add the peanut butter and whisk until no streaks of peanut butter remain in the batter.
  3. If you don't care much about the ridges, don't bother chilling the dough at all. Otherwise, chill the dough for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the dough from sticking to the sides of the bowl. The dough should be just firm enough to roll into a ball when you go to scoop it.
  4. Using either a large cookie scoop (about ¼ cup or #60) - what I used for these cookies here - or a medium scoop (about 1 ¾ tbsp), scoop out the dough into balls on the prepared baking sheets. The tops should show those nice ridges/striations; if they don't, continue to chill the dough for a few more minutes and then rescoop. Freeze for another 15 minutes before baking.
  5. Bake for 18-20 minutes for the large cookies or 14-15 minutes for the smaller cookies. The edges should be golden brown. Cool the cookies on the pan for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack - they'll be pretty soft when still hot. Allow them to cool completely before eating.

Source

adapted from Ovenly by Erin Patinkin and Agatha Kulaga via Smitten Kitchen

http://www.smells-like-home.com/2017/02/salted-peanut-butter-cookies/