White Cake Cupcakes

This recipe is a white birthday cake recipe that I found and wrote down from an old cookbook at my mother-in-laws. It required a lemon but I did not have any on hand, so I replaced with some vanilla paste and it tinged the cake slightly so I didn’t get that white birthday cake look. However, after one bite I didn’t care these were amazing with a very tender crumb that was still light and moist. I haven’t made cupcakes in a while so I was thrilled to finally make something new.

I will use this recipe again frequently if the opportunity allows. I must try this with lemon because it is probably divine, just replace the vanilla with lemon juice and zest. I had some basic swiss buttercream in the freezer from earlier in the week. To use frozen frosting defrost it and then whisk it up, add in the food coloring and is perfect for quick cupcake needs.

On very high recommendations I bought some americolor gels and I used the violet in the frosting and I am beyond happy with the gels. They are bright, vivid, and true rich colors. I threw out my other colors and replaced them, these color gels are just amazing. If you have not had a chance to try them out and jump on that bandwagon do so soon. I cannot say enough good things about this AmeriColor Gels pack, it has all the basic colors you would need.

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Meyer Lemon Macarons

I am one of those people who actually prefers lemon or citrus flavors over chocolate. Not having the ingredients to make a lemon tart like intended, I gave into the macaron madness. This batch turned out so perfect and consistent with the last couple batches, I think I’ve finally mastered the suckers and I can justify a slight ego boost. Now my friends, it’s your turn.

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Chocolate Ginger Cake w/ Bourbon Butter Caramel Sauce

Back in October we went to my favorite restaurant for dinner and the dessert of the week was a chocolate ginger cake. One bite and I had to try to replicate it, it tasted like Christmas. Yes, I realize this is late for a Christmas cake, but it’s also an ideal winter cake.  The cake has a thick, fudgy texture that feels sinful to eat. What really makes this cake sing though is the bourbon caramel sauce. Serve it warm with some toasted pecans and crème fraîche and you have a highly complex, impressive dessert that is decadent and leaves you wanting more (usually because the person next to you kept stealing bites). This dessert will ruin your New Years diet resolution, so I am sorry.

The great thing about this recipe is it’s a one pot wonder. The bundt pan I used was a gift for my birthday, and gave an amazing look to the cake. I have mentioned before about the trick to use dark pans vs light pans is to turn down the oven slightly by with a darker pan to avoid an over cooked outside with a undercooked interior. So keep that in mind when making this cake the temperature will go down 25°F if you will be using a dark aluminum pan.

The caramel is a basic butter caramel I have made before with some adjustments to make it dark and rich with the amazing flavor of the added bourbon. The leftover caramel sauce can (should) be saved in a sealed container in the refrigerator, because it is simply amazing on ice cream. Give this a try for your next party, or just to warm and spice up a cold winter dinner, you will not be disappointed.

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Coconut and Lime Macarons

A crack of the knuckles, a light breath to blow dust off the keyboard, and sitting down at my computer with purpose again. Remember to enjoy the little things. Oh blog, how I missed you. I want to apologize to you friends for the lack of updates since holidays began. Interestingly enough it is when most blogs show the highest number of post but when you work two jobs in retail, then take a vacation to visit family your time for cooking gets shorter. Many days I would get home at 11pm, go to bed and start the day over at 8am – 11pm again. I know, I did it to myself so only I am to blame, but it was nice to have the extra money, and work at a job that I cannot even express how much I enjoy it compared to the other.  Okay, enough about me and my weirdness enjoying a busy holiday season at the country’s biggest shopping mall.

On to the real matter at hand, food. Well with me it’s more sweets and desserts, but you know that by now. I have had this combination on my list since my first batch of macarons came out all lovely and puffy. At the local market I seen these lims that were the size of a large lemon and they smelled fantastic. Then what is in a basket on the end cap? A bag of organic shredded coconut which was on sale. I knew it had to be so I picked up both and went home on a mission.

It took mostly visual tweaks to get what I was looking for from these cookies. The first batch I used just the green color and it looked like the color teal from a bad prom dress in the 90’s. They tasted amazing but when the look doesn’t match the flavor it throws the mind off a bit. In that first batch I also learned that if you are going to put anything on the top of the macaron to decorate, make sure the cap is set. Meaning, it isn’t tacky to the touch.  When baked it will help form the dome but it also helps anything added to the top of the cookie from sinking into it. I am here to make the mistakes for you and trust me, many are made.

The green shells were finally achieved by following the basic shell recipe from an earlier post. Then adding to whipped egg whites;  3 drops of the forest green food coloring gel and one drop of chocolate brown food coloring gel, both from from AmeriColor. It got me the perfect green color I was looking for to represent a lime. After matching up the shells to as close as possible matching sizes. On one side I piped a ring of the Swiss buttercream frosting just around the inside edge leaving a hole in the middle. Once all the pairs had one side with the ring of buttercream, time to fill in the hole with lime curd.

You can have the curd in a squeeze bottle or a piping bag, I used both and they worked well, just add a little bit of the lime curd to the center hole of each cookie half inside the buttercream ring. Gently place on the matching half and refrigerate in a sealed container for up to two weeks. Just let them sit for 5 minutes before eating to come up in temperature. The shells will stay firm but soft and not dry and crumbly, like you might find in a late afternoon visit to the local pastry shop.

These coconut and lime macarons were shared at a dinner party with some friends as an after dinner treat. The host is not a fan of sweets that don’t involve chocolate, but for him to make a comment about how just amazing these were in the complexity of textures and flavors had me blushing. The light and not overly sweet Swiss buttercream with the tang of the lime curd balanced out with the sweet crunchy shells perfectly into an almost addicting combination. So of course I had to share it with you my friends. I hope you all had a lovely holiday season and I wish you the best this coming new year. You will see more of me in 2012, with new recipes and of course more macarons!

Coconut and Lime Curd Macarons
Makes 20-25 Macarons

Lime Curd

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • juice of one lime, large (or two small)
  • zest of one lime, large (or two small)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 egg yolks (save the whites for your macaron shell recipe)

In a small sauce pan over medium heat combine the butter, sugar, lime zest, lime juice, and salt, whisk to combine.  Add in one yolk at a time until combined. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes until thick like a heavy sauce.  Pour into a bowl and place cling film over the top resting on the curd to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate over night to 1 week.

Basic Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Freeze any unused buttercream in individual containers with 1-1.5 cups in each container. This way you have buttercream at the ready for your next macaron or cupcake craving.

Macaron Shells

Following the recipe from a previous post, after the shells are not tacky to the touch sprinkle generously with flaked coconut and bake as normal. The coconut will toast lightly and add lovely flavor and texture to the cookies.