Monday, September 12, 2011

Call Me the Queen of Custard

Ooh, Kit Kats and ice cream!
I have really enjoyed making ice cream this year. I find that it is one of the most rewarding baking experiences, since once you learn a few basic recipes, you can get as creative as you like. For example, I used a simple vanilla ice cream as the base recipe for my peanut butter honey swirl ice cream, and for today's recipe, I started with a malted milk ice cream base and added my personal touch of Kit Kats (my favorite candy bar of all time, always and forever).

Give me a break!
Let me first talk a little about my love for Kit Kats.Kit Kats and I go way back. Way, way back. One of my earliest memories is waiting on the couch in Michigan, some time at night, for my dad to return with a Kit Kat for me. I don't know the circumstances surrounding that situation, I just remember the anticipation of a Kit Kat. At Halloween, I always loved getting the fun size Kit Kats, and preferred the houses that gave those away. Later on, in high school, Kit Kats became a bit of an obsession/addiction of mine. I had one nearly every day it seemed. I would even go around singing the Kit Kat jingle (sadly, I still know the words to this day). There is just something about the combination of wafers and milk chocolate that does something to me. I'm a real sucker for anything with wafers and chocolate (there's not much I wouldn't do to get my hands on some of these Swiss delectables).

As for the ice cream, it has been hot lately and I had some egg yolks I needed to use up. In particular, I had 6 egg yolks to use, so I needed a recipe that called for exactly 6 egg yolks. Enter: malted milk ice cream. I had some whoppers that I could have added to the ice cream, but they weren't looking so good. Besides, I really love Kit Kats. The rest is history. Very creamy, delicious history.

Malted Milk Ice Cream with Kit Kats
adapted from The Perfect Scoop

1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup malted milk powder
6 lrg egg yolks
18 small Kit Kats, chopped

Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. In a large bowl, whisk together the cream, vanilla, and malted milk powder and set a fine mesh strainer on top.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly whisk the warm milk into the egg yolks, then scrape the mixture back into the pan.

Stir the mixture constantly with a heat-proof spatula over medium heat until the custard thickens and coats the back of the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir the mixture until smooth and consistent.

Chill the custard overnight in the fridge. Freeze the ice cream in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. At the end of the churning cycle, stir in the chopped Kit Kats.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Piña Colada Cake and the Big Screw-Up

Come with me and escape!
Do you like piña coladas? Well, I do. I don't think you can go wrong with the combination of pineapple and coconut, especially when we're talking about cake.

My family decided to celebrate Labor Day this year on Sunday so that everyone would have Monday to recover. What exactly we were supposed to be recovering from, I am not sure, so I figured I'd booze up our little shindig to give everyone something to recover from. To that end, I made this piña colada cake (which has rum in it), and a white sangria. My dad made a red sangria, so for those of us who were imbibing, there was plenty of alcohol. Not that we're lushes or anything. We were simply enjoying the last hurrah of Summer that is Labor Day weekend.

Sunken middle :(
The party was one of my family's less eventful affairs. For me, the highlights were renaming my sister Frakah Khan (and then my nephew deciding my sister should name her baby Frakah Khan), and having a little dance party with my sister and my nephew. I taught my nephew how to do the sprinkler, the blender, the bump, and the dip. He really took a liking to the blender, and he had me dip him over and over again until I thought my arm would fall off. I tried teaching the kid how to do the running man, but he took one look at that move and said, "no, me can't do that." Ah well, one day...

Holey piña colada cake, Batman!
I suppose there was one minor event during the preparation of my family's get-together: I screwed up the cake. I prepared it perfectly, but it turned out that I did not bake it long enough. Yeah, I undercooked the cake. I was very upset about this because I was really looking forward to enjoying the cake. Luckily, it was only the top part of the center of the cake that was not cooked all the way, so I simply cut a hole into the cake, glazed the cake, and filled the hole with pineapple. Problem solved! In the end, despite my little mistake, the cake was still delicious, moist, and tropical. Perfect for an end of Summer treat.

Piña Colada Cake
from here

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tbsp dark rum
2 lrg eggs, at room temp
1 cup cream of coconut
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple
1 tbsp rum, +2 tsp for glaze
2 tbsp pineapple juice, +2 tsp for glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, being sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix in the rum and cream of coconut until combined. In two additions, mix in the dry ingredients on low speed. Mix until just combined. Fold in the pineapple chunks.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake in the center of the oven for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean (and make sure the cake does not jiggle!). Cool the cake on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert onto another wire rack. Poke holes in the cake using a toothpick, then drizzle over the mixture of 1 tbsp rum and 2 tbsp pineapple juice. Allow the cake to cool completely.

To prepare the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, pinch of salt, and rum and pineapple juice. Slowly drizzle the glaze over the cake, trying to get it even over the top.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Peach Champagne Cake and the Case of the Missing Passport

I am fairly certain that I have lost both my mind and my passport. Both seem to have evaporated into thin air. I have searched high and low, looking in the same drawers and boxes four or five times each and nada. Nothing!

It's a little bit funny to me that the one time I plan a transatlantic trip on short notice, I cannot find my passport. What's really funny to me is the fact that I'm doing this trip to kind of recharge myself and do a little soul-searching, and in the meantime, I cannot find the piece of identification necessary to go on said soul-searching journey. I have lost my identity and it is time for a new one!

Okay, okay, none of that has anything to do with this fabulous cake I made for my coworker's birthday. This cake was actually my first commissioned cake (ordered by my boss), so I felt a little bit of pressure to make it special. I decided on peach champagne because it is Summer and I thought nothing says Summer like peaches and champagne. Plus, I've never made a champagne cake before, so this was a good opportunity to give it a try.

The cake was delicious. Moist and light and bubbly. Like champagne! And it was peachy! A nice Summer celebration cake, and very easy to make. In the future, I might use this cake as a jumping point for a kir royale cake, or a champagne chambord cake...

So delicious!
Peach Champagne Cake
adapted from here

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temp
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
6 egg whites
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup dry champagne
1/4 cup peach schnapps

Butter and flour 2 9-inch cake pans, and cut out two circles of parchment to put into the bottom of the pans (after buttering, before flouring- makes for a very easy removal). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. In the large bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add in the vanilla and beat in the eggs whites, one egg white at a time (be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl often).

Add in one third of the flour mixture at a time, mixing on low just to combine, then alternate by adding in half of the alcohol mixture. Repeat until all ingredients are combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes (depending on your oven).

Peaches and Cream Filling

1 peach
1 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp sugar

Peel the peach and dice it into small pieces. In a medium bowl, beat the whipping cream and sugar together on high speed with a hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the peaches.

Peach Champagne Frosting

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temp
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup champagne
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp peach schnapps
1 tsp vanilla
1 drop red food coloring

Beat the butter and vanilla together using the whisk attachment in a stand mixer. Add the sugar one cup at a time. Beat in the liquid ingredients.

Mmm, pretty...
To assemble the cake:
Cut the tops off of the cakes to create a level working surface (easier said than done, folks). Place one layer on your serving surface of choice (I had a cardboard cake circle). Spoon out about a cup or so of the peaches and cream filling on top of the cake and smooth it out to within 1 inch of the edge of the cake. Place the second layer of cake on top of the layer of filling, making sure to center it. Start by frosting the top and sides of the cake with a thin layer of frosting (to cover up the crumbs). Now add the rest of the frosting and smooth it out however you like (I like the rustic look, personally). For the top of the cake, I cut 7 thin slices of peach, soaked up the extra juice with a paper towel, brushed them with lemon juice, and fanned them out in a circle on top of the frosting. Voila! A celebration cake!