Monday, May 19, 2014

Layered Brown Sugar Pavlova with Sour Cream Whipped Cream, Meyer Lemon Zabaglione, + Macerated Berries

Layered Brown Sugar Pavlova with Sour Cream Whipped Cream, Meyer
Lemon Zabaglione, + Macerated Berries
As a food blogger, I get asked a'shit'ton of questions. Most of those questions I am perfectly happy to answer... I mean, that's why I am here, right?! Well, more so than questions, I get asked for recipe requests from family + friends. Although I want to please them right away, my Willy-Wonka-inspired-brain has about 100,000 recipes that I want to try first. So most of the time, they get put on the back burner until I am truly motivated to make whatever their little heart desires. Birthdays are a good time to make up for lost time, but in this case, I did it by creating my mother's ultimate favorite dessert, Pavlova. If you haven't had a Pavlova, you must... especially if you love meringue, which my mom is mildly extremely obsessed with. What is so wonderful about meringue is its' balance of textures. One moment is crispy + crumbly and yet somehow dissipates into your mouth like thin air. It's unbelievable. Yet when all that outer texture is gone (and the pavlova has to be cooked perfectly), but the inside remains soft, chewy, & almost-marshamallowy-like. It is fabulous. Every texture note is hit... spot-on. I especially adored this recipe because it included brown sugar, which is my favorite sugar, simply because of its molasses-like flavor and the moistness that it adds to any recipe. The brown sugar isn't a stand-out flavor, but you can certainly tell by the picture that it is most definitely an ingredient. The other components could easily be switched out... but there is something so lovely about fresh summer berries that have been macerated until their sweet juices seep out and create a sugary syrup. One little secret ingredient for the berries... balsamic vinegar. Just trust me on this one-- it will really accentuates + deepens the sweetness of the fruit. And what pairs better with sugary-berry-goodness? Well, personally, I love to pair it with some zing, some pop, a little pucker... and that's where the Meyer Lemon Zabaglione comes in. If you haven't made it before, don't fret, it ain't very hard to make. Think of a creamy lemon curd... with the added step of heavy, rigorous whisking. If you can't find Meyer Lemons, that's fine too, just sub in the classic. I just prefer to use the Meyer variety because it's toned-down acidity. In order tone down the lemony flavor + syrupy berries, the Sour Cream Whipped Cream is the ultimate cure. The tanginess of the sour cream and fluffy whipped cream smooth out all the flavors, creating the most-melt-in-your-mouth-groan-until-you-fall-asleep-moment. Yep, it's that good. This dessert has it all-- the texture, the balance of flavors, the gourmet components, and the refreshing taste of summer that is just peaking around the corner. To say the least, my mom was thrilled when I surprised her with this layered pavlova cake for Mother's Day. But hey, it would be great for any party really... especially a cutesy-tootsy brunch with pals + mimosas. I really urge y'all to give this dessert a try because it exceeded our expectations in every way possible!! Enjoy :)
the beginnings of mother's day brunch
whippin' up some brown sugar meringue... ain't it purdy
And the layering begins :)
so many macerated summer berries + their juices
aren't they gorg?
And look at that luscious Meyer Lemon Zabaglione + Sour Cream Whipped Cream
layers upon layers upon layers
even miss molly loved it too :)
For the Brown Sugar Pavlova Meringue:
1C Superfine Granulated Sugar
½C Light Brown Sugar
1 ½T Cornstarch
2t Vanilla Extract
2t Distilled White Vinegar
1t Almond Extract
¾C Egg Whites (from about 5-6 Large Eggs), Room Temperature
Pinch of Salt

For the Macerated Summer Berries:
1lb Strawberries, Trimmed + Quartered
1lb Blackberries
1lb Raspberries
3T Sugar
1T Balsamic Vinegar
1t Vanilla
Pinch of Salt

For the Meyer Lemon Zabaglione:
2 Large Eggs
4 Large Egg Yolks
½C Sugar
2 Meyer Lemons, Zested
1 Meyer Lemon, Juiced
¼C Marsala Wine
2T Brandy

For the Sour Cream Whipped Cream:
2C Heavy Cream, Chilled
2/3C Sour Cream
1t Vanilla
1T Confectioners’ Sugar (sifted)

1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees with a rack in the middle. Lightly spray 3 cake pans with Pam, line with parchment paper, and dust with confections’ sugar (knocking out the excess until a light coating is left).
2. For the Brown Sugar Pavlova Meringue: Pulse the superfine sugar, brown sugar, and cornstarch in the bowl of a food processor until well combined. Whisk together the vanilla, vinegar, and almond extract in a small bowl, set it aside. Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt using an electric mixer at medium speed until they hold soft peaks. Increase speed to medium-high and add the sugar mixture 1 tablespoon at a time. After all sugar has been added, beat 1 minute more. Add extract-vinegar mixture, and then beat at high speed until meringue is glossy and holds stiff peaks, about 5 minutes. Spoon meringue into pans (about 2 1/2 cups per pan) and smooth tops. Bake until meringues have a crisp crust and feel dry to the touch, about 1 hour (insides will still be marshmallow-like). Turn oven off and prop door open slightly with a wooden spoon. Cool meringues in oven 1 hour (the meringues may sink slightly and crack while cooling). Run knife along sides of cake pans and carefully turn meringues out of pans. Carefully peel off parchment (meringues will be fragile and the crust may crack further). Carefully turn right side up.
3. For the Macerated Summer Berries: Toss berries with sugar, balsamic, and vanilla; let stand at room temperature until ready to use (up to 1 hour). Season with a pinch of salt, if needed, right before layering into the Pavlova.
4. For the Meyer Lemon Zabaglione: Combine all the ingredients in a stainless steel bowl and set aside. Choose a saucepan large enough to set the bowl over and fill it with 2 inches of water. Bring to a simmer. Whisk the egg mixture in the bowl. Place the bowl over the simmering water and whisk vigorously until it is about triple in volume and thick and frothy. Lift the bowl off the steam a few times, while whisking, to insure that the mixture does not get too hot and scramble the eggs. The total cooking time will be about 8 minutes. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk to cool slightly. Serve now, or cover with plastic wrap pressed directly onto the surface and use within 2 hours. It may need to be whisked again just before serving.
5. For the Sour Cream Whipped Cream: Beat heavy cream with sour cream using an electric mixer until it just holds soft peaks. Chill until yo are ready to use.
6. Layering the Pavlova: Put 1 meringue on a serving plate, spread one third of sour cream whipped cream over it, followed by one third of the meyer lemon zabaglione. Spoon one third of macerated summer berries, with its’ juice over top. Repeat with remaining meringues, cream, and fruit. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve immediately.

Friday, May 9, 2014

“Better Than” Better Than Sex Cake with Triple Fudge Dark Chocolate Cake, Dulce de Leche Soaking Cream, Toffee Bits, Mascarpone Whipped Cream, Salted Caramel Whipped Cream, Salty Bourbon Caramel Sauce, & Ruffled Potato Chips

“Better Than” Better Than Sex Cake with Triple Fudge Dark Chocolate Cake, Dulce de Leche Soaking
 Cream, Toffee Bits, Mascarpone Whipped Cream, Salted Caramel Whipped Cream, Salty Bourbon
 Caramel Sauce, & Ruffled Potato Chips
Hey y'all, it's been a superrrrrr long time ((sorry about that)). BUT but but... I have a new recipe today, yay!! I'm usually the first person to turn their nose up towards anything easy or store-bought. However, I have always had a place in my heart for "better than sex cake". You know, that cake where its soaked in sweet condense milk and topped with whipped cream + toffee bits? Well, I always thought to myself, someone should make a gourmet version of this. Thus, I introduce to you my “Better Than” Better Than Sex Cake with Triple Fudge Dark Chocolate Cake, Dulce de Leche Soaking Cream, Toffee Bits, Mascarpone Whipped Cream, Salted Caramel Whipped Cream, Salty Bourbon Caramel Sauce, & Ruffled Potato Chips. It's the perfect balance of sweet + salty. Ya know how?? Through the toffee bits, salty bourbon caramel sauce, & ruffled potato chips. I love love love the addition of potato chups, like fo'real y'all. It might sound super weird, but just go with it, I promise that you'll adore it! I fancied it up a bit by using Dulce de Leche (versus caramel) in multiple components. You can either make this from scratch or buy a good brand from your grocery store (I prefer the La Salamandra brand myself). Now some of y'all might be shocked, but I actually went the cake-box-route, which I absolutely never do. But, I find this type of cake most conducive for the soaking method. Every time I soaked a homemade, high-quality cake... it always turned out grainy + soggy, not moist and de-lush-cious. I will say though, you still make a great cake from box mixes!! I do this buy subbing in some heavy cream and coffee liqueur, and boosting the flavor with pudding, vanilla, and salt. It turns out great every time, AND it takes much less time--yippee!! Don't get too excited though, I have ya busy doing a whole bunch of homemade toppings (sorry about that, it's so worth it in the end). Just promise me one thing... don't leave out the potato chips. Okay? Deal? Deal!! Enjoy :)

For the Salted Caramel Whipped Cream:
1C Heavy Cream
2T Sugar
½C Dulce de Leche 
Pinch of Salt (or to taste)
1t Vanilla

For the Dulce de Leche Soaking Cream:
1 Can of Sweetened, Condensed Milk
1C Dulce de Leche
1t Vanilla + Bourbon
Pinch of Salt

For the Dark Chocolate Cake:
2 Boxes of Triple Fudge Chocolate Cake
1 Box of Dark Chocolate Pudding
1C Vegetable Oil
6 Eggs, Beaten
2C Heavy Cream (or Buttermilk) + 1C Kahlua Coffee Liqueur
1t Vanilla
1t Salt
1 Bag of Heath Bar Toffee Bits
Cape Cod Ruffled Potato Chips, For Topping
Homemade Chocolate Ganache or Chocolate Syrup, For Drizzling

For the Salty Bourbon Caramel Sauce:
1C Sugar + ¼C Water
½C Heavy Cream
1t Smoked Sea Salt
1T Bourbon

For the Mascarpone Whipped Cream:
8oz Mascarpone Cheese
½C Confectioners’ Sugar
Pinch of Salt
1t Vanilla
1 ½C Heavy Whipping Cream

1. Prepping for the Salted Caramel Whipped Cream: The night before you make the cake, heat a small pot over medium-low heat. Add in the heavy cream, sugar, dulce de leche, & a pinch of salt to taste and whisk constantly until the dulce de leche has dissolved into the cream and has become smooth (it should be a light khaki color). Remove the heat from the pan and add vanilla extract. Pour this dulce de leche infused cream into and container and let it chill overnight.
2. Firstly, make sure the cream is thoroughly chilled. Add it into the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, and whip on high-speed until a fluffy, yet thick whipped cream. Season it with some sugar, vanilla extract, and salt if needed (really it’s up to your tastes).
3. For the Dulce de Leche Soaking Liquid:  In a saucepan, heat the sweetened condensed milk over medium heat. Add in the dulce de leche and whisk until it has completely melted into the milk. Add in the vanilla, bourbon, and a pinch of salt and whisk until combined. Turn off the heat and continue whisking.
4. For the Dark Chocolate Cake: In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the two boxes of cake mix and pudding mix. Quickly add in the vegetable oil, eggs, heavy cream, coffee liqueur, vanilla, and salt. Mix until everything is just combined and a smooth batter is formed. Spray a 9x13 pan with Pam and pour the cake batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes until the cake is cooked through, but not overcooked. Let the cake cool for 20-30 minutes, and then using a straw, poke the cake full with holes and pour the slightly warm dulce de leche soaking liquid over the cake evenly. Let it soak for 4 hours before assembling the rest of it.
5. For the Salted Caramel Sauce: In a large saucepan, bring it up to medium-high heat. Pour in sugar and water, and whisk until the sugar begins to melt and the lumps dissolve. Let this simmer until the sugar begins to turn a light caramel color, at this point add in the salt. Finally, take the pan off the heat, and pour in the heavy cream (once again, it will bubble, but just keep stirring) and stir until it is a smooth, consistent sauce. Add in the bourbon and return the caramel to the heat for another minute or so. Pour this caramel into a bowl and set aside.
6. For the Mascarpone Whipped Cream: In a mixing bowl, combine the mascarpone, confectioners’ Sugar, salt, and vanilla. Stir together until smooth and set it aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form. And then, gently fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture until combined.
7. Assembling the Cake: Once the cake has cooled & soaked, sprinkle the top of the cake with half of a bag of heath bar toffee bits. Spread the top with mascarpone whipped cream  + salted caramel whipped cream, and then drizzle with the salted caramel bourbon caramel sauce and chocolate ganache (or store bought fudge sauce). Swirl the two sauces together with the two whipped creams. Once again, sprinkle the top with the other half of the bag of toffee bits. Push the ruffled chips into the whipped cream, so that they stay up and the cake has a jagged top. Again, drizzle the top with more salted caramel sauce + chocolate ganache. Place into the refrigerator and chill for 1-2 hours or until you are ready to serve.
8. Cut the cake into square servings and enjoy!!