Hazelnut Dacquoise

by byn on May 25, 2016

in Cakes, Cupcakes & Icing

Hazelnut Daquoise

A few weeks ago I found an old plastic file folder at home that was full of recipes torn out of magazines in the pre-Pinterest days. I don’t think I had opened it over a year, but dumped it out to find about 80% of the recipes were from the LCBO’s Food & Drink magazine. I have love for this publication, but think it falls into the aspirational category for me (i.e. I never actually make any of the things I tear out).

I did find a couple recipes I wanted to hang to though, and this Hazelnut Dacquoise (sounds so fancy!) is one of them. I knew my Mom would love this for her Mother’s Day treat, because she’s always asking for this Butterscotch Pecan Meringue Torte, and I don’t blame her, it’s one of my favourites too.

Close up

This was surprisingly simple to make, especially for a Food & Drink recipe! It’s three hazelnut meringues, stacked up with whipped ganaches (dark chocolate + white chocolate) and topped with whipped cream. It looks so pretty and we loved it.

Hazelnut Dacquoise

Source: Food & Drink Magazine, Autumn 2010

Ingredients

Meringues

4 egg whites, room temperature

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup sugar

1 cup toasted, skinned hazelnuts, ground to fine crumbs in a food processor

2 tsp cornstarch

White Chocolate Filling

4 oz white chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 tbsp butter, room temperature

Dark Chocolate Filling

4 oz dark chocolate, chopped

3/4 cup whipping cream

2 tbsp butter, room temperature

Garnish

1 cup whipping cream

2 tbsp sugar

Directions

  1. For meringues, preheat oven to 275°, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Draw two 11×3″ rectangles on one sheet, and another one on the second sheet, then flip over the parchment paper (so the side with the pencil/pen is facing down).
  2. In a large bowl, whip egg whites and salt until frothy. Slowly add the sugar while whipping the egg whites on medium speed until they’re thick and shiny, it should take about 5 minutes. Fold in the hazelnuts and cornstarch.
  3. Divide the egg white mixture equally between the three rectangles, and spread into the shapes with an offset spatula. Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, then turn off the oven and leave the meringues in there until cool.
  4. For the white chocolate filling, place the chocolate and butter in a bowl. Heat the whipping cream in a microwave safe glass measuring cup for 45 seconds in the microwave. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and butter. Let sit for one minute, then whisk until smooth. Follow this exact same process for the dark chocolate filling. Cover both bowls with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
  5. Beat eat filling mixture on medium speed until thickened (it will look like whipped cream).
  6. Place one meringue layer on a serving platter or clean baking sheet, and top it with the dark chocolate filling, spreading it out with an offset spatula. Place another meringue on top, and top with the white chocolate filling, spreading that out. Place the final meringue on top (at this point you can cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight).
  7. For the garnish, whip the cream and sugar until soft peaks form. Add to a piping bag and pipe a cute design overtop. Add sprinkles for extra cute-ness!

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Strawberry Supreme Cake

It finally, FINALLY, feels like Spring around here, and I was so excited to have this Strawberry Supreme Cake on the Baked Sunday Mornings schedule this week. Let me break it down for you first, because there are a lot of different components of this cake:

  • Three layers of strawberry cake
  • Two different fillings: strawberry preserves + whipped cream with chopped fresh strawberries
  • Pink vanilla frosting

I started working on this last weekend, when I made a batch my favourite Skillet Strawberry Jam which I knew would be perfect in this. During the week, I made and froze the cake layers. Yesterday, all I had to do was the whipped cream filling and the frosting.

Strawberry Slice

Okay, so the frosting. This is one of the Baked Boys famous cooked frostings, which is very different from my usual go-to buttercream. I haven’t actually attempted one since this disaster back in 2012, but I wanted to give it another chance for this cake. This is how it goes: you cook a mixture of sugar, flour, milk and whipping cream until it bubbles and looks like pudding, then you beat it until it’s cool, and finally whip in an unholy amount of butter. I was nervous, but it turned out perfectly. It’s way more smooth and soft in consistency than the buttercream I usually make, which makes it perfect for icing a cake. Now I want to go back and try all the other ones!

Overall, this is just the prettiest summer cake ever. The recipe suggests tinting the frosting a very pale pink because it’s so elegant, and I totally agree. The only thing I wasn’t sure about is that my cake layers looked kind of gray, but they still tasted great, so I’m okay with it. The preserves and whipped cream fillings take this over the top.

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

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Minecraft Birthday Cake 2.0

The other day I blogged about the easy way to make a Minecraft Birthday Cake, which I made for my niece last summer. Last month, my nephew decided he also wanted a Minecraft cake for his birthday, but his ideas were a little more complex:

Blueprints

He drew these blueprints when we were out for lunch at Jack Astor’s, and I snapped a pic so I would remember what he wanted {insert the crying while laughing emoji}. You can see my annotations in purple, where I was trying to understand what each component was: grass, sand, water and dirt. I figured I would make the base as a cake, and the rest with rice krispie squares, like I did for his Wrecking Ball cake a couple of years ago. Here’s what I did:

  • Baked four 8×8″ square layers of cake, to be the base of the cake
  • Mixed up two 8×8″ pans of rice krispie squares which I basically then cut and shaped into the correct size blocks I needed
  • I made a double batch of My Favourite Buttercream and tinted the majority of it green for the base, reserving about 1 cup to die blue for the water layer and left about 1 cup plain for “glue” for the sand and dirt layers
  • For the sand, I spread icing on my rice krispie shape and pressed in graham cracker crumbs. I did the same for the dirt shape, using Oreo crumbs instead.
  • I stacked everything up very carefully, then used a small star tip and green icing to make the grass
  • My sister-in-law added little Minecraft guys, and Matthew’s vision was complete

Checkerboard Inside

Because I’m a glutton for punishment, I also decided to make the base of the cake as a Checkerboard Cake. Two of my layers were vanilla cake tinted green, and two were chocolate. It’s too hard to explain how to do this, so I’ll direct you to this video, which I followed exactly (except I used chocolate icing instead of ganache). The hardest part was just having the patience to do all the measuring and cutting, but I wouldn’t say it was that difficult to execute. I was the most excited of all to cut into the final cake and see what it looked like inside!

Matthew

Matthew’s previous birthday cakes:

6th (Lego cupcakes – not blogged – they were vanilla cupcakes with Lego block candy on top)

5th (Wrecking Ball Cake)

4th (Front-End Loader Cake)

3rd (Dumptruck Cake)

2nd (School Bus Cake…reigns supreme as most popular post on Planet Byn)

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Minecraft Cake 1.0

This post is a VERY belated documentation of my niece’s Minecraft Birthday Cake from last August. At the time I guess I thought it was really too simple to blog about, and didn’t look like much, but have since learned much more about the world of Minecraft cakes. I thought I would post about this easy version first, and later this week about the more complicated one I just made.

First of all, if you don’t know anything about Minecraft, I can’t actually help you. Go read Wikipedia or something. My basic knowledge is that it’s a video game, you build stuff, it’s pixel-ated and all of my nieces and nephews have loved it at some point or other.

So last summer my brother explained to me that WITHIN the Minecraft game, there is a birthday cake, so if I could make a cake of the Minecraft Cake (follow me?) my niece Charlotte would love it. For reference, this is what the cake looks like in Minecraft:

Minecraft Image

Many of the similar cakes I saw in my research were covered in fondant, but I’m against it, so here’s how I made this super simple version:

  • Baked up the best chocolate cake in two 8×8 pans (that’s a lie, I don’t have two 8×8 pans, so I just baked the layers one at a time)
  • Mixed up a half batch of this chocolate frosting to put between the layers (I don’t use Ovaltine, just sub in more cocoa)
  • Mixed up a full batch of My Favourite Buttercream, removed about a 1/2 cup (which I tinted red) and frosted the whole cake.
  • Added the red frosting to a piping bag with a small round tip and added the red squares.

Like I said, it was pretty straightforward, but the kids thought it was cool. This is definitely the path of least resistance when it comes to Minecraft baking!

HBD

Charlotte’s Previous Birthday Cakes:

7th (Balloon Bouquet Cupcakes)

6th (Castle Cake)

5th (Rainbow Cake)

4th (Blue’s Clues)

3rd (Big Greeny-Blue Cake)

2nd (Elmo)

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Derby Cookies

The Kentucky Derby has pretty much zero significance in my life. I think I watched it once, but it didn’t involve a big floppy hat or a mint julep which, in my opinion, are the two most appealing parts of this holiday.

For Baked Sunday Mornings this week, the Baked Boys are running with the bourbon theme (the booze in a mint julep) and whipping up these Derby Cookies. These are soft, boozy, nutty, melt-in-your-mouth dreams!

So many Cookies

I did make one substitution for these, which was using pecans instead of walnuts. I legitimately have not eaten or purchased a walnut in about two years. My old cubicle neighbour had a severe walnut allergy, so I just got out of the habit of baking with them (or even buying them). Once you toast and grind up your nut of choice, it gets mixed with butter, bourbon, vanilla, flour and salt. That’s it! No eggs, no leaveners. I had to check the recipe a few times to make sure that was right.

Bourbon Sugar

Before the cookies get baked, they get rolled in sugar for a crunchy coating. But not just any sugar! BOURBON VANILLA SUGAR!! I used raw turbinado sugar, added it to a jar, drizzled on the bourbon and stuck in a split vanilla bean.  I did this last weekend because it needs to sit for week to absorb all the flavours. It gives the cookies an out-of-this-world sweet crunch, and I loved it. There is also an optional step to roll/sprinkle the cookies with icing sugar, but I just left that out.

Bourbon Vanilla Sugar

I think I have my first Christmas cookie for 2016!

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

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April on Planet Byn {2016}

by byn on April 30, 2016

in Monthly Recaps

Sweet Jesus

I feel like April is usually a pretty neutral month where nothing much happens, but this month it was long and weird and emotional. We had lay-offs at my work, a family friend passed away and Beyonce’s new album turned out to be all about Jay Z cheating on her. Here’s what else went down:
  • I spent the first week of April visiting my parents in Florida, and it was amazing as always. I spent my time as follows: at Target, watching Cooking Channel (how do Tiffani Thiessen and Tia Mowry both have shows?!), reading books (more below on that), eating Chobani Flips and drinking La Croix, two things I can’t find here. My suitcase was also legitimately full of jars of Jif to bring home.
  • My friend Nicole and I finally went to Sweet Jesus to try their insane ice cream cones (pictured above). We waited about half an hour in line, in our winter coats, so I don’t even want to know what the line-up situation is like when the weather finally warms up. We got two cones: Campfire S’mores (vanilla soft serve, marshmallow sauce, chocolate sauce, graham cracker crumbs, and mini marshmallows) and Bangin’ Brownie (chocolate soft serve, chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, brownie bits and chocolate cookie crumble). It’s a total hot mess trying to eat off the actual cone, so you can also get a cup to flip it into for easy snacking. We will be going back monthly until Nicole’s baby arrives 😉
  • Kristine’s sister had her baby and I mixed her up some of My Favourite Banana Muffins, and they were a hit! Misfit Aunts need treats too, so I made Kristine some sugar cookies shaped like Homer’s Donut (pic on my Insta if you want to see).
  • Libby invited me to be her +1 at Fonda Lola’s launch of their lunch menu. We got to try four different types of tortas, and the pork shoulder with pickled red onion was my fave. Churros with whipped caramelized cajeta for dessert!
  • Can you believe I went back to Cactus Club Café again? My friend Jenn and I went and had ALL THE APPS, plus a salad for balance (ha). We had a few leftovers and they pack it up for you in your own reuseable tote to take home! So classy. You’re winning me over CCC!
  • It was my nephew’s birthday and I made him a pretty sick Minecraft Cake! Post to come!
 Other non-foodie things I was obsessed with this month:
  • LEMONADE. Can’t even put my thoughts and feelings into words here. The Formation Tour is in Toronto on May 25th and obviously I’ll be there.
  • I read a bunch of books in Florida and have two recommendations. First, The Nest, which you’ve probably seen everywhere. I loved this story about a dysfunctional group of siblings fighting over their inheritance. Second, The Name Therapist. As a longtime reader of Duana’s Name Nerd column on Lainey Gossip, I knew I would love this.
  • The Raptors are in the playoffs!!!

Flashback!

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Hippie Cake Slice

In honour of Earth Day, this week Baked Sunday Mornings has gone vegan! I’m not mad at it. One of my besties from work is vegan, and I’ve experimented making her a few egg-free and butter-free treats over the years.

Instead of butter, this cake swaps in olive oil, and also has the curious addition of 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar. It smells super strong in the batter, but the flavour is muted in the baked cake. This is a super easy batter to mix up, only needing a whisk to incorporate everything. I needed to bake my cake almost 10 minutes longer than the recipe stated, and let it cool on the counter overnight.

Hippie Cake

This morning I mixed up the almond butter frosting in the food processor. I wasn’t willing to buy a container of vegan spread/butter, so I just subbed in about 2 tbsp of coconut oil, and I also needed a few extra tablespoons of almond milk to get the icing to a spreadable/pourable consistency. I took the Baked Boys’ advice and chilled the cake for a while before slicing.

Vegan Chocolate Cake

This cake is sooooo good. I was surprised by how much I liked it! Mine was dense and very hydrated, and I loved the almond butter frosting; a nice switch up from peanut butter.

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

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Chi's Shower

My friend Kristine’s asked me to make some sweets for her sister’s baby shower back in March, and I believe I responded “it is my joy in life to put together a treat table”. She knew she wanted Dolly’s Doughnut, plus two dozen vanilla cupcakes, and then we looked through some of my cookbooks and Pinterest boards to choose two squares: Classic Lemon and Chocolate Toffee Shortbread Squares.

She had picked up some cute cupcake liners at Winners that looked like grass, so I wanted to pipe rosettes out of icing. I had tried and failed at this in the past, and now I’m here to tell you the secrets to success: 1) use a CLOSED star tip (I started with an open tip and didn’t get the results I wanted) 2) pipe from the inside out (you normally go outside in for cupcakes). They just turned out so cute.

Rosettes

I was kind of shocked but excited that EVERYTHING was gone by the end of the shower! I don’t think this has happened before! I was first nervous that I didn’t make enough, but I think it was actually perfect.

Congratulations to Chi who is now the mom to a beautiful baby girl named Eleana. Here’s my favourite picture from the day, of Alexis’ daughter Mila (who is about to become a big sister!) rubbing Chi’s bump, while licking a cupcake and contemplating life.

Mila & Chi

Here’s the recipe for the Chocolate Toffee Shortbread Squares that Kristine picked out and also hid a few away for after the shower. Misfit Aunts need treats too!

Chocolate Toffee Shortbread Squares

Chocolate Toffee Shortbread Squares

Source: Annie’s Eats

Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

9 oz semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used 70% Lindt), divided

1 1/2 cups toffee bits

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375° and line a 9×13″ pan with foil and spray the foil with non-stick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar and sugar together until combined and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla.
  3. Add the flour and salt and mix until combined. Stir in 3oz of the chopped chocolate.
  4. Press into an even layer in the pan and bake for 18-20 minutes.
  5. As soon as you pull the pan out of the oven, sprinkle the remaining 6oz chopped chocolate over the base of the squares. Let sit for a few minutes until the chocolate is melted, then spread into an even layer with an offset spatula. Sprinkle the toffee bits on top.
  6. Let fully cool, and when the chocolate is set, slice into squares.

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Brown Sugar Cupcakes

I feel like we’re entering prime wedding shower season, so I wanted to finally document the treats I made for my friend Nicole’s wedding shower ONE YEAR AGO (better late than never). I had so much fun making ALL THE SQUARES for Nicole & Geoff’s Engagement Party, and it’s truly my joy in life to put together a kick ass treat table. Here’s what I made for the shower:

  • 1 dozen Vanilla Cupcakes (recipe from The Joy the Baker Cookbook) with My Favourite Buttercream (cute pink cupcake holders from Golda’s Kitchen)

Shower Cupcakes

  • 1 dozen Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream (recipe below)
  • 2 dozen Maple Bourbon Butter Tarts, Nicole & Geoff are huge maple syrup fans, so I knew I had to incorporate it somewhere! (pastry recipe from The Messy Baker Cookbook)

Maple Bourbon Butter Tarts

Lemon Squares

N&G Cookies

  • There were also scones from Nicole’s favourite bakery, jam and cream + a full lunch spread

I did as much as I could in advance (cupcake bottoms, salted caramel sauce, tarts, squares, cookie dough) and filled my freezer, and then all I had to do the night before the party was frost the cupcakes. The sugar cookies of course are a multi-day process, so I worked on those a little bit each day (piping, flooding, detail, packaging) during the week leading up to the party. Overall I was happy with the way everything turned out, except the butter tarts were a little too runny, but I may have added a bit too much bourbon. The crowd favourite was definitely the Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream. I tried to frost them similar to the way Sprinkles does (You Tube video here), and added a generous sprinkling of flaky sea salt on the top.

Nicole & Geoff are now coming up on their one-year anniversary and are expecting a baby in July! Time to brainstorm baby shower treats!

Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Source: Homemade Decadence by Joy the Baker

Ingredients

Cupcakes

3 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted

2 cups brown sugar

2 eggs + 1 egg yolk

2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Icing

1/2 batch My Favourite Buttercream, substituting the 1/2 cup whipping cream with 1/2 cup My Favourite Salted Caramel

+ flaky sea salt for sprinkling

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° and line a cupcake tin with liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar, then mix in the eggs one at a time, followed by the egg yolk. Mix in the vanilla.
  4. Add the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk, ending with dry ingredients. Mix each time until just incorporated.
  5. Scoop batter into cupcake liners and bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the cupcake comes out clean.
  6. Frost with icing and sprinkle with flaky sea salt to finish.

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March on Planet Byn {2016}

by byn on March 31, 2016

in Monthly Recaps

Egg Cookies

There was so much fun baking to do this month with St. Patrick’s Day and Easter falling within a week or so of each other. It was a busy time in and out of the kitchen, and here’s what went down:

  • I surprised my friend Carole at The Depanneur, where she was hosting a drop in dinner. This is such a fun feature that The Dep puts on, where Toronto cooks can take over for the night and showcase their skills. Tasty G and I popped in and ate Carole’s delicious Beef Kofte wraps. She also had a trio of Mediterranean dips and cardamom rice pudding for dessert, but as we had to go to Cafeteria for drinks and snacks while waiting for space to free up at The Dep, we didn’t have room for either. Awesome job Mama Shack! I can’t wait for the next one, and I’m dying to be your sous chef for the night!
  • I’m a total novice when it comes to the concept of all-you-can-eat sushi. Everyone knows I don’t do raw fish, so I’m never invited to these escapades. However, my friend Alexis’ daughter chose August 8 for her big 5th birthday lunch, so I got to experience this for the first time. It was kind of funny to watch the pros do their ordering, and work their way through their set ritual of courses. I kind of just tried a bit of everything and tried to keep up (still didn’t eat any sashimi though).
  • Kristine threw a baby shower for her sister and I baked all the treats for it! I’m going to do a separate post on this, but everything turned out amazing and I was so happy!
  • After stalking XO Bisous on Instagram since they opened, I finally dropped in to check it out. I had a choux pastry ball filled with a milk chocolate pastry cream and it was hands-down the best treat I have eaten thus far this year.
  • Medium ashamed to admit I went back to Cactus Club for lunch with my fave girl gang from work and god help me, we tried this butternut squash and prawn ravioli and it was delicious.
  • I closed out the month with another visit to Barrio Coreano! This time I tried the Bulgogi Shrimp El Diablo and Braised Short Rib tacos and another Chicken Kampungki taco which was my favourite from last time.

Other non-foodie things I was obsessed with this month:

  • Finished reading the 6th and 7th Harry Potter books, and watched Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part I & II for the first time since seeing them in the theatre in 2010 & 2011. So amazing. I’m now fully prepped and ready for the script of Harry Potter & the Cursed Child coming this summer.
  • I started watching Suits on Netflix after basically everyone in my life has expressed to me how much they love it (Kristine, Lydia, Sarah). It’s true, I love it too.
  • I entered a March Madness pool for the first time in years and it was super fun to follow along for the first two weekends, although there’s no way I’m going to win. UNC was my pick to win and they’re the only Final Four team I picked correctly, so we’ll see what happens!

Flashback!

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