Archives for the month of: February, 2015

Snow day! My sister and I set out to make the fluffiest cake ever and have a snowy photo shoot. We really had a great time and were able to take pictures out in the snow before it stopped snowing (all though it was more hail by the time we went out!). We put some food coloring in the cake batter and just put all of it in a pan and cut it in two with a large bread knife. After frosting the cake, we covered it with coconut shavings. Definitely making this again and hope you enjoy the pictures! Check out my sister’s photography site at http://www.laurajquintero.com

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Ingredients for cake:
    • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
    • 1 whole egg
    • 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
    • 2-1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
    • 3 cups cake flour, sifted
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
    • 3/4 tsp salt
    • 12 tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cut into 24 even pieces

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Ingredients for frosting:
  • 3 sticks + 2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 3 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar (icing, powdered)
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

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Directions: 

For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease, line with parchment, and flour two round 8-inch pans.
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In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir the egg whites, whole egg, 1/4 cup of milk, and the vanilla. Set aside.
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In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients together on low speed (I use the “stir” setting on my mixer) for 30 seconds.
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Add the butter one piece at a time, about every 10 seconds, ensuring it’s cold (you can keep some in refrigerator while you’re adding pieces). Continue to mix on low until the mixture is a fine crumbly texture. Add milk, and mix on low speed for 5 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg mixture in 3 separate batches, mixing until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. (You want to ensure that the batter is homogenous.) Fold once or twice to ensure the batter at bottom of bowl is incorporated.
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Divide the batter in two, spreading it evenly with a small offset palette knife. If you have a kitchen scale, weigh to ensure 2 even layers.
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Bake until a cake tester comes out with a few crumbs when inserted into the center, about 30 minutes. Be so careful to not over-bake. Check cake at 20 minutes, but not before, and then set the timer for 5 minute intervals. Let cool on racks for 10 minutes before loosening the sides with a small metal spatula, and invert onto greased wire racks. Gently turn cakes back up, so the tops are up and cool completely.
Wrap tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days, refrigerator for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 2 months. Best eaten the same day as baked.
For the frosting:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed (I use “4” on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale & creamy. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy and fluffy. Best used right away. You can eliminate the vanilla bean and use a total of 1-1/2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract.
Assembly:
Place bottom cake layer on cake plate or 8″ round thin cake board and spread 1 cup of frosting on top with a small offset spatula. Gently place 2nd cake layer face down on top. Place a generous scoop of frosting on top, spreading evenly with a small offset spatula and working your way down the sides until you have a thin layer of frosting over the entire cake. Chill until set, about 30 minutes. Remove from refrigerator and apply a final “coat” of frosting.
Store in a cake keeper at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in refrigerator for up to 5 days. Best eaten day 1.

First snow day of 2015! After a huge craving for some hot cocoa, I found recipes for hot cocoa cupcakes and hot cocoa frosting! My sister and I had been planning on taking some snow-filled pictures and this was the perfect opportunity to do so! Enjoy the recipes, the snow and the pictures!

Ingredients

Cupcakes

  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup hot water

Frosting

  • 1/2 cup Hot Cocoa Mix
  • 1/3 cup hot water
  • 1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 pound powdered sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake tray with baking cups. Mix flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer until all of the dry ingredients are combined. Add eggs one at a time, mixing in between. Add milk, oil and vanilla and mix until combined. Turn mixer on low and slowly add hot water until incorporated. The batter will be very liquid.

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For ease of pouring, transfer batter to a large measuring cup and pour batter into baking cups about 2/3 full.

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Bake for about 16-18 minutes or until done. Remove and let cool.

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For the frosting, combine cocoa mix and water in large mixer bowl. Beat in butter and vanilla extract. Gradually beat in powdered sugar until smooth and creamy. Add more hot water if frosting is too thick.

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Here are my sister’s awesome pictures!

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Behind the scenes :p

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My grandfather is Portuguese, from the beautiful island of Madeira, also known as the Pearl of the Atlantic. He has been such an inspiration to me throughout my entire life. Even though we live far away, all the chances I have had the privilege of sharing with him have been filled with great wisdom and life-long lessons. I have been lucky enough to visit his home town Monte and even enjoyed some of their annual festivals. In light of Carnaval, my mom and I decided to make a recipe that my grandpa would make for us when we visited and are so delicious and are actually common during this time of year as well. The online recipe we found was pretty close to my grandfather’s! Happy Carnaval and please enjoy these pictures from the !

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 3 eggs
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Molasses syrup for topping

Directions:

Mix the warm milk with the yeast and sugar and let rest for half an hour. Once it has started to bubble, pour into flour and salt mixture.

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Add eggs one at a time.

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Fry them in hot oil until they are golden brown all around.

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Serve with molasses syrup and enjoy!

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In preparation for Valentine’s Day, my sister and I got together to bake these yummy, adorable, easy cookies! My sister took some amazing pictures that you will see throughout this post. Enjoy the post, enjoy the cookies, and enjoy Valentine’s Day with all our loved ones!

Ingredients

  • 1 package pie crust
  • strawberry jam
  • sugar for garnish
  • milk

Directions

Preheat oven to 370 F. Cut heart shapes from pie crust.

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Put a teaspoon of strawberry jam in the middle of the heart.

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Top with another heart slice. Press the sides with a fork.

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Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar.

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Bake for 15 – 20 minutes.

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Also, in light of Valentine’s Day, we made these pink chocolate chip cookies. They were quite easy to make but I think I made them a little bit too big. Oh well, more cookie in every bite! Props again to Laura Quintero Photography!

Ingredients

  • 1 box (18.25 oz) strawberry cake mix, like Duncan Hines
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable/canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Set aside. In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix and baking powder.

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Set aside. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, and vanilla by hand.

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Add the egg mixture to the cake mixture and stir to form a dough- stir vigorously until all of the pockets of dry cake mix are gone.

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Gently mix in the chocolate chips.

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Drop rounded balls of dough, about 2 Tablespoons each, onto prepared baking sheet. Make sure the balls of dough are taller than they are wide. Bake for 10 minutes – do not let the cookies get brown. Allow to cool on baking sheet for 3 minutes; they will be very soft at first. As they cool, the tops may settle down; press them down gently with your fingers if they are not sinking much. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.

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Have some blueberries in the fridge? Or any berries for that matter?  Mix up this incredibly quick and easy 4-ingredient recipe and enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 125g plain flour
  • 50g caster sugar plus an extra 2tbsp
  • 100g cold butter, cut into several chunks
  • 150g fresh blueberries

Directions

Preheat the oven to 180°C (Gas Mark 4 / 350°F). Combine the plain flour and caster sugar in a large bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Press about two-thirds of the shortbread mixture onto a lined baking tray or loaf pan. Be sure to press it in firmly to help it hold together. Scatter the blueberries across the shortbread, and sprinkle over the remaining breadcrumb-like shortbread mixture.

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Top with a couple of tablespoons of sugar, and bake for around 30 minutes, until the shortbread is light golden brown and some of the berries have released their juices. Allow to cool completely, and then cut into squares with a pizza cutter.

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Making this cake was quite nice but the lemon glaze didn’t quite end up looking like the original picture but it was still delicious and the combination between the lemon and the berries was awesome! Also, the flour over frozen berries was a total life hack! Enjoy!!

Ingredients

Cake
    • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
    • zest of 1 lemon
    • 3 large eggs
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 3/4 cup kefir (or buttermilk)
    • 3 cups mixed berries (I used 1 cup raspberry, 1 cup blackberry, 1 cup blueberry)
    • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Glaze
  • 1 cup and 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened (not melted! the butter should still be able to retain its shape!)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a medium bowl, mix 2 1/2 cups flour, baking powder and salt and combine thoroughly.

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In a separate large bowl, add together the softened butter, sugar and lemon zest and mix, using mixer, on high setting for about 5 minutes until even consistency is reached and the mixture reaches lighter color. Add eggs, vanilla to the butter-sugar mixture and continue beating until well-incorporated.

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Now we’ll be adding flour mixture into the butter-sugar mixture in 3 gradual steps, instead of dumping all of flour at one time. If you dump all of flour mixture into your butter mixture at one time, it will be more difficult to stir and you won’t get a smooth texture. So, we’ll be adding flour and kefir (or buttermilk) in 3 additions: With your mixer on low speed, add 1/3 of flour mixture to butter-sugar mixture, beating just a little until all is well combined. Then follow by 1/4 cup of kefir (or buttermilk). Add second 1/3 cup of flour mixture, beating with mixer just to combine. Follow by 1/4 cup of kefir (or buttermilk), beating just to combine. Finally, add third 1/3 cup of flour mixture, followed by final 1/4 cup of kefir (or buttermilk). Again, beat just enough to combine. Make sure to have your mixer on low speed while adding flour, otherwise flour might fly around your kitchen. Make sure to not overmix or overbeat, use mixer just to combine the ingredients.

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In a separate bowl, combine berries with 2 tbsp of flour. This is supposed to prevent berries from clumping together and sinking. Note about using frozen berries: I did make this cake with frozen berries without defrosting them. It’s important that, if using frozen berries, they should not be clumped together, each berry should be separate (I freeze fresh berries by lining them on a cookie sheet). So you can use both fresh and frozen berries, and in either case you toss them with flour before adding to the batter.

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Using spatula, fold berries into the cake batter, trying not to squish the berries.

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Spray your cake pan with a Baking Spray with Flour (which works great for bundt pans). Pour batter gently into prepared pan.

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Bake for at least 60 minutes (depending on the oven, it could be as long as 1 hour 15 minutes), until the toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Mid-time through the baking, turn the pan around in the oven for even baking.

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Remove the pan from oven, let it cool for 40 minutes on wire rack. And here is my way of releasing the cake from the bundt pan, which proves successful each time I use it: After your bundt pan cooled off for 40 minutes, place the bundt pan in the freezer for 30 minutes – it will still be quite hot to the touch (even after 40 minutes of cooling), so use kitchen gloves to handle the pan. Remove the pan from the freezer after 30 minutes, invert the bundt pan and let it sit inverted for a bit to let the gravity do the work (it could take as little as half a minute or as long as 20 minutes, depending on your bundt pan). Then, gently lift bundt pan and your cake should be released

Whisk powdered sugar, lemon juice and butter until very thick and very white. Spread this lemon juice frosting over the top of the cooled cake like shown on the photos.

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Super Bowl Sunday! In preparation for the game, we had a huge menu for appetizers and snacks for the game but we couldn’t forget about the dessert! This cake was so delicious and the combination of the strawberries and chocolate chips were wonderful and the cake itself was very soft and fluffy. Enjoy (and what a game!!)

Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips plus more for sprinkling the top of cake
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved

Instructions

Heat oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a 9×3-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Grease the side of the springform pan or square pan with butter or cooking spray.

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Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl.

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In a separate large bowl, combine butter, Greek yogurt, and 1 cup sugar and, using electric mixer, beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy – no more than 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, mix in the egg, beat until light and fluffy. Then mix in milk, vanilla. Keeping the mixer speed low, mix in the flour mixture, gradually, just until combined. Do not over mix. Fold in chocolate chips into the batter.

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Transfer batter to springform pan.

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Arrange strawberries on top of the cake, cut sides down and close together.

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Place chocolate chips in spaces in between.

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Bake cake for about 1 hour until the top is golden brown and the tester comes out clean. In the last 5-10 minutes of baking, you can take the cake out of the oven and sprinkle some more chocolate chips on top, pressing them lightly into the top of the cake (the top of the cake will already be baked and a bit crusty) – it will make for a nice presentation. Return to the oven for 5-10 more minutes, to allow chocolate to melt a bit and look even nicer!

When the cake is done baking, let it cool (still in the baking pan) on a wire rack. After cake has cooled for about 40 minutes, release the cake from the springform pan. At this point, if the cake is cool enough, you can slide your hand under the cake, between the parchment paper and the bottom portion of the springform pan and move the cake with the parchment paper attached to its bottom onto a cake plate easily.

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Notes

Storage tips: Because strawberries tend to make any desserts overly moist, this cake is best kept refrigerated. When refrigerated, it keeps very well for at least 1 week, and tastes just as fresh! It tastes pretty good cold, and you can also microwave it for 10 or so seconds to melt the chocolate chips.

Freezing tips: This cake freezes very well. Cool the cake completely. Tightly wrap the cake in plastic wrap, make sure it’s airtight. Freeze for up to 1 month.

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