Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!

Sending you my warmest greetings for a new year filled with joy, love, and a lot of sweet moments!

For this New Year’s Eve celebration, I made this hazelnut sponge cake filled with caramel cream embellished with a gold glittered rose. 

Hazelnut Caramel Cake

Hazelnut Sponge Cake
makes 4 discs 8-inch

120 g whole hazelnuts, toasted
 120 g potato starch
10 eggs
140 g granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Place the hazelnuts, cocoa powder and potato starch in a food processor. Process until the hazelnuts are finely ground.
Separate the egg whites and yolks.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with half of the sugar until pale. In another large dry bowl, with a clean whisk, bring the egg whites to foam. Once they are white and frothy, add the remaining half of the sugar and continue to whip until firm.
Right away, gently fold the sugar and egg yolk mixture into the whipped egg whites with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle the ground hazelnut and potato starch over the mixture. Gently combine: start with the spatula in the center of the bowl, work up the sides of the bowl and bring the mixture back down towards the center, all the while turning the bowl regularly. Continue until you have a smooth and homogenous mixture.
Preheat the oven to 340°F/ 170°C.

Transfer the batter to greased 8-inch baking pan and bake for approximately 20 minutes until lightly colored. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Hazelnut Syrup
(from here)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup hazelnut liqueur, such as Frangelico

Heat sugar, liqueur, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Let cool completely.

 Caramel-Cream Filling
(from here)

1/2 cup sugar
2 cups cold heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
3 large egg yolks, room temperature

Heat sugar and 4 teaspoons water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Continue to cook, without stirring, until very deep amber. Carefully pour in 1 cup cream, whisking. Whisk in milk.
Put gelatin and 6 tablespoons water into a small bowl. Let stand until gelatin has softened, about 7 minutes.
Prepare an ice-water bath; set aside. Whisk egg yolks into caramel mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until mixture registers 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Add gelatin, and whisk until smooth. Pass through a fine sieve into a bowl set in ice-water bath. Let cool, stirring occasionally, until thickened.
Beat remaining cup cream until soft peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into caramel cream. Cover, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes (or overnight).

Dark Chocolate Ganache 
18 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups heavy cream

Bring cream just to the boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat, add chocolate, stand until melted (5 minutes), stir until smooth and glossy. Refrigerate until firm yet still pliable (45 minutes-1 hour) then stir until smooth.


Place one cake on a serving plate. Brush with 1/4 hazelnut syrup. Spread 1 1/2 cups caramel cream over top.  Repeat to make 2 more layers of each. Top with remaining cake half. Refrigerate 2 hours (or overnight). Cover with chocolate ganache.


Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas my dear friends! Wishing you a wonderful time filled with love and a lot of sweets!

For this Christmas, I prepared this beautiful dessert table with five marvelous sweets: gingerbread bauble cake with caramel white chocolate ganache, marrons glacésMont-Blanc aux marrons, orange sponge cake with cranberry mousse and orange whipped cream, and pistachio marzipan covered with dark chocolate ganache.

Gingerbread Bauble Cake with Caramel White Chocolate Ganache

The gingerbread cake recipe was adapted from the book Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller. You can find the bauble tutorial on this magazine

Gingerbread Cake
Makes 4 bauble cakes

170 g all-purpose flour
½ + ¼  teaspoons baking soda
½ tablespoon + ½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ + ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup + ½ +¼teaspoons light brown sugar
½ cup + 1 teaspoon unsulfured molasses
107 g unsalted butter, melted
1 egg
168 g boiling water
4 g candied ginger, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray the mini balls pan with nonstick spray. Place the flour in a medium bowl. Sift in the baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Add the salt and whisk together.
Place the brown sugar in the bow of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed to break up any lumps. Add the molasses and mix for about 1 minute, or until smooth. With the mixer running, add the melted butter in a slow, steady stream and continue to mix for about 1 ½ minutes, until completely combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs and mix for 1 minute, or until the mixture is smooth.
Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the dry mixture in 2 additions, mixing on low speed for 15 to 30 seconds after each. With the mixer running, add the water 30 grams at a time, incorporating each addition before adding the next. Scrape down the bowl again. Fold in the candied ginger.
Divide the batter in mini balls pan. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Set the pan on a cooling rack and cool for 10 minutes. Turn the mini cakes out onto the rack, remove the pan, and cool completely upside down.

Caramel White Chocolate Ganache
Adapted from here
11 ounces white chocolate, chopped or chips
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
80 ml heavy cream

Put the sugar, water, and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat and stir just until the sugar has dissolved. Put down your spoon and let the syrup come to a boil without stirring, occasionally washing down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Cook the syrup until it turns a dark amber color. Swirl the pan to distribute the color and heat.
Once the syrup reaches the desired color, take the pan off the heat and pour in 1/3 cup of the cream. Do this carefully, as the caramel is very hot and will bubble up when you add the cream. Once the ingredients are all incorporated into the caramel, pour it over the chocolate. Swirl the bowl so that the chocolate is completely coated with the warm caramel, then cover and let sit for 5 minutes. With a whisk, stir the mixture slowly, starting with small circles in the middle and working your way outward, whisking a bit more briskly as you go, until you have a smooth, glossy frosting. Leave the ganache on your kitchen counter, stirring now and then to help it cool, until it reaches spreading consistency, about 3 hours. If it stiffens up too much, simply put it someplace warmer than your counter.
Covered with plastic wrap at room temperature, this frosting keeps for up to 3 days.

Marrons Glacês

Marron Glacê, or crystallized chestnut, is a confection candied in sugar syrup. 
I wish I could be in Paris on this wintertime, enjoying some of the best marrons glacês at Pierre Hermé or Fauchon. Unfortunately, I didn't have luck this year, so I made my owns. I took 4 days to prepare them, but each minute worth it. I’m really happy!

750g sweet chestnuts (skin on)
500g granulated sugar
1 vanilla pod

Peel chestnuts using small, sharp knife and leaving inner skin.
Preheat oven to 190°C - 375 F.
Place chestnuts in shallow heatproof dish and bake 10 to 15 minutes, or until skin dries and peels off easily.
Place granulated sugar in a pan with 250ml water. Heat slowly, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved, then add the vanilla pod and bring to the boil.
Add the prepared chestnuts to the boiling sugar syrup and stir the chestnuts until the whole mixture returns to a boil. Continue cooking the chestnuts, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Allow the chestnuts to soak in the syrup for 12 to 18 hours. Repeat the process boiling them for 2 minutes, and then soaking the mixture, loosely covered, for 18 to 24 hours. Repeat the entire process a total of 3 to 4 times, until the sugar syrup has been absorbed by the chestnuts.

Mont-Blanc aux marrons

Adapted  from here
Makes 6

With my wonderful marrons glacês, I prepared my Mont-Blanc aux marrons. I have to say that they were fantastic! Mont Blanc or Mont-Blanc aux marrons is one of the oldest French desserts, becoming popular in France since the early part of seventeenth century.  But the snow-capped mountain of meringue and whipped cream covered with chestnuts purée was only invented in 1903 by Antoine Rumpelmeyer, the founder of the famous tea salon Angelina. Every day, this historic belle époque tearoom sells over 600 Mont Blanc. You can see how Mont Blanc is made on La Maison Angelina here.

2 egg whites
A pinch of salt
A pinch of cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
95 g sugar

Preheat oven to 120°C - 250 F.
Grease a baking sheet, sprinkle with flour, and mark one 23 cm circle or ten 9 cm circles (this may require more than one baking sheet).
In large bowl, beat egg whites with salt until foamy.
Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form.
Beat in 25 g sugar until mixture holds long, stiff peaks when beater is lifted.
Fold in remaining sugar and vanilla.
Place in pastry bag fitted with 1,25 cm plain tube and pipe 1 large round or 10 small ones onto prepared sheet.
Bake 1 hour or until meringue is firm to the touch.
If meringues brown during baking, reduce heat.
Transfer meringues to rack and let cool.

Chestnut purée
400 g Marrons glacês
½ cup sugar syrup from marron glacê preparation

Place the marrons glacês in food processor, and purée. Beat enough sugar syrup and water into chestnut puree to make it thin enough to pipe through pastry bag but still thick enough to hold its shape. Then put through a sieve.
If using canned puree, sweeten to taste, making sure it is thin enough to be piped.
Fit pastry bag with 0,3 cm plain tip and fill with purée.

1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat cream until stiff, and then add vanilla.
Place cream mixture into pastry bag fitted with star tip.


Arrange meringues on serving platter, pipe cream, then pipe chestnut puree in bird's nest shape around edge of meringue.
Sprinkle icing sugar and chill until serving time.


Buche de Noel and How to Make Sugar Poinsettias

Last week I had the pleasure to meet the adorable Kathy Goldman from the blog Playin with my Food. Her blog is filled with delicious recipes, beautiful photos and she has the cutest Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, named Sofie. We had an amazing time baking a Buche de Noel and making some sugar poinsettias.

This Buche de Noel consists of chocolate cake filled with chestnut pastry cream and marzipan, covered with chocolate ganache. You can find the recipe here.

These sugar poinsettias are the same model from my last post Pink Poinsettias and Apple Cranberry Charlotte Cake and they are really easy to make.  This is how we made them:

Roll out red gum paste and cut out the petals using 2 ¼, 1 ¾, 1 ¼ and 1 inch poinsettia cutters.

Use a textured veiner to mark the bract.

Place the petal on a cel pad and gently smooth with a bone or ball tool to thin the edges, using gentle pressure as not to frill the paste.

Cut a 1 inch diameter circle from red gum paste. This will be the base for the petals.

Brush edible glue over the circle. Starting adding all the 2 ¼ inch petals one by one. Brush glue and repeat with the 1 ¾ inch petals. Repeat the process with the 1 ¼ and 1 inch petals.

To make the poinsettia stamens make tiny balls of gum paste. Leave to dry until hard. Brush edible glue over the tiny balls and add edible golden disco dust or luster dust.  Brush edible glue over the center of the flower and add the tiny balls.


Pink Poinsettias and Apple Cranberry Charlotte Cake

This week I tried to make some sugar poinsettias. They are very simple to make and soon I will be sharing a tutorial for you. I think they are pretty to decorate little cakes like these ones from Donna Hay Magazine.

These cakes are chic desserts that you can prepare for your holiday party. They also have a delicious surprise hidden inside: an apple and cranberry caramelized filling.  I adapted the original filling recipe which uses blueberries instead, and I loved it! 

As you have to scoop the cake to fill then, you will end up with a lot of crumbs. They are perfect to make some little cake balls or, cake pops if you prefer. I made my little cake balls mixing the crumbs with apple cranberry filling and using the lemon icing for covering. 

Apple and Cranberry Charlotte Cake
(Adapted from Donna Hay Magazine, Issue 64)
Makes 6


220g unsalted butter, melted
1 ½ cups (330g) sugar
¾ sour cream, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups (300g) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder, sifted

Preheat oven to 160°C (325°F). Place the butter, sugar, eggs, sour cream, lemon rind and vanilla in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the flour and baking powder and whisk until smooth. Spoon into 6 X well-greased 1 ¼ cup-capacity (310 ml) mini fluted cake tins and smooth the top with a palette knife. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.  Cool in tins for 10 minutes. Turn out onto wire rack to cool completely.

Apple and Cranberry Filling

50 g unsalted butter, chopped
1 cup (220g) sugar
1 cup (250ml) cream
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1 kg Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 cup Cranberries
Place butter, sugar, cream, vanilla beam and seeds in a deep saucepan over medium heat and stir until the butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cook for 3 minutes, add the apples and cranberries and cook, stirring occasionally, for 25-30 minutes. You will need to stir more frequently in the last 5 minutes until the apples are lightly caramelized. Pour into a bowl, discarding the vanilla beam, and allow to cool completely.

Trim the base of the cakes and using a 6 cm round cookie cutter, make an indent in the base. Using the indent as a guide, cut a round from the base and set aside. Using a spoon, carefully scoop ½ cup of the cake mixture from the center of each cake. Place the cakes back into the tins and place them to a tray. Divide the apple mixture between the cakes and top with the reserved lid. Top the cakes with a sheet of non-stick baking paper, top with another baking tray and weight down with canned vegetables. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours or until the apple mixture is set. Invert the cakes onto a wire rack over a baking tray.

Lemon Icing

4 cups (640g) icing sugar
1 talbespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup (80 ml) boiling water

Mix to combine the icing sugar, lemon juice and water. Spoon immediately over the cakes and allow to set before serving.


Peppermint Cake

It is Christmas time! How I love this part of the year, especially the snow, lights, colors, songs, food... Well everything about it! Baking becomes so much more fun with all the wonderful flavors with endless options for decoration. Peppermint is one of  the ingredients that I love most and the combination with chocolate is fantastic. So these were the flavors that I chose for this two tier mini cake.

The cake consists of three layers: chocolate layer cake, peppermint white chocolate brigadeiro filling, and white chocolate cake. The cake recipe is the same that I used for my white chocolate cupcake. Then I covered it with peppermint white chocolate ganache.

I made a snowflake crochet garland to decorate my table this time. I've learned how to make snowflake crochet with my mom, who is, by the way, an excellent crochet maker. She knows how to do so many different kinds, but unfortunately I just leaned two of them so far. This could be a beautiful decoration for a dessert table party, don’t you think?

Peppermint Cake
(by  Lulu’s Sweet Secrets)

White Chocolate Cake
(Makes one 6-inch cake and one 4,5-inch cake)

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
½ cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 whole large eggs, room temperature
¼ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
160g/ 5.64 ounces white chocolate

Grease cake pans. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the eggs and sugar in a stand mixer bowl and beat with the paddle attachment until fluffy and pale yellow in color. Meanwhile, heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil and then add the white chocolate. Whisk until smooth. Place the white chocolate and milk mixture over the eggs and sugar and beat for a minute. Add the vanilla and mix until combine. Fold in the flour and baking powder with a rubber spoon until just incorporated (don't overmix). Fold in the melted butter.
Fill each pan with batter. Bake for 30 minutes or until risen and just firm to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

To make the chocolate cake use 160g of dark chocolate instead of white chocolate. 

Peppermint White Chocolate Brigadeiro Filling

1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon peppermint oil
120g white chocolate

Place all the ingredients into a medium saucepan. Over low heat, stir the mixture until thick consistency or it starts to show the bottom of the pan while you scrape it with a spoon (about 15 min).  Transfer to a greased bowl to cool.

White Chocolate Ganache Frosting

24 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon peppermint oil

Bring cream just to the boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat, add chocolate and peppermint oil, and stir until smooth and glossy. Refrigerate until firm yet still pliable (45 minutes-1 hour) then stir until smooth.


Place one 6-inch chocolate cake on a serving plate. Spread the peppermint brigadeiro brigadeiro over top. Place the white chocolate cake on top. Cover with peppermint white chocolate ganache frosting. Repeat with the 4,5 inch cakes.

To decorate the cake I used nonpareils on top of the ganache.  To decorate the cake with nonpareils:
Place the cake on a revolving cake stand. Place the cake stand inside of a big bowl. Scoop up a handful of nonpareils with your free hand and gently press them into the side of the cake, allowing the excess to drop back into the bowl. Rotate the cake as you continue to press nonpareils into the side until the sides of the cake have been fully covered.

Holly Decoration

To make the leaves will need:
1 1/8" Veined Holly Leaf Plunger Cutter (mine was from PME)
Gum paste to make the leaves
Edible glue to fix the disco dust
Emerald disco dust

To make the berries you will need:
Gum paste to make the berries
American red and Raspberry disco dust
Edible glue to fix the disco dust

I also use royal icing to decorate and fix the holy decoration. The recipe is from Sweetopia.


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