Have a Magical Spring!




Flower Fairies Cake

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Sherry Cake

Decades ago, I looked for a good sherry cake from scratch, but wasn't able to find one. I finally decided to try to create my own.  I re-created Grandma's Sherry Cake using my Grandmother's Custard Glaze. 

This year, for my birthday, I revisited this cake recipe, doubled it, but instead of the glaze, I created a Sherry Cream Frosting starting with a custard base. I really liked the result. It's a little easier if the cake and the sherry custard are prepared the day before you make the buttercream and frost the cake.

 


8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup cream sherry
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
3-1/3 cups cake flour
2/3 cup almond flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, almond flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder; set aside. With mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth; add sherry and incorporate into cream cheese, then cream in butter and add oil in a stream until emulsified.
Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Add dry ingredients gradually until mixed in, then add vanilla.
Pour into 2  greased and floured  9" round cakes pans and bake for 40-45 minutes until cake tester comes out clean.
Place on cooling rack, and while warm drizzle sugar syrup over hot cake layers. Allow to cool completely before icing.

Sugar Syrup

2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 c  cream sherry
1 tsp vanilla

In a small saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add sherry and vanilla.

 

Sherry Custard Buttercream Frosting


1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt

1 cup milk
1/4 cup cream sherry
2 T butter
1/2 tsp vanilla

4 oz cream cheese
2 T cream sherry
2 cups butter
4 cups powdered sugar


Mix sugar, cornstarch and salt in a saucepan.  Gradually add milk. Over Med-High heat, whisk constantly until thickened.
Remove from heat and stir in cream sherry in small amounts, whisking until smooth. Add butter and vanilla, stirring until
butter is melted. Pour into a glass container. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until thoroughly cooled.

Bring butter and cream cheese to room temperature.
In a mixer bowl, using whisk attachment, beat cream cheese and cream sherry until smooth.
Add butter and beat until creamy. Switching to a flat paddle, add the cooled sherry custard, one tablespoon at a time, until fully creamed into mixture after each addition.
Slowly add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.

Spread the frosting on top of bottom layer. Top with second layer and spread frosting on sides and top of cake.
Makes 2 layer 9" round cake. 



Sunday, March 7, 2021

St Paddy's Day Pistachio Candy


Ingredients:               
  • 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 3.5oz pkg pistachio pudding mix                            
  • 6 oz bag flaked coconut                                                         
  • 2T butter or margarine, melted (1 ounce)
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened  
  • 2 cups finely chopped pistachios
  • 5 ½ -6 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1 drop leaf green coloring gel (opt)                                                   
  • Semisweet and/or White Chocolate chips, melted
  • Paramount Crystals
  • 1/2 cup Dark Green Confectioners Melts

Preparation:

Pour sweetened condensed milk into a bowl. Heat milk in microwave for 1 minute until warm. Pour pudding mix into milk and stir well.  Return to microwave and heat for 60- 90 seconds, checking after 60 seconds so as not to overcook. Stir again for 2 minutes until the pudding mix is well dissolved. Set aside.

Place coconut in blender and pulse a bit until the coconut is finely chopped. Mix with finely chopped pistachios.

Stir butter and cream cheese into pudding mixture, incorporating well. Add nuts and coconut and mix well.
I added a drop or two of leaf green coloring gel just because it's St Paddy's Day candy, but it's not necessary.



Add confectioners’ sugar, 1 cup at a time until too difficult to stir.  Sprinkle a board generously with confectioners’ sugar and turn the mix onto the board. 



Knead in sugar
until the dough is soft and not sticky.


Using a melon baller, scoop out a heaping teaspoon of dough. Shape into 1 inch balls, then chill in refrigerator until very firm.

When ready to dip in chocolate, melt dark and/or white chocolate .

I used Ghiradelli brand chocolate chips.  I also added some paramount crystals to
thin the chocolate.
 Too thick a layer of dark chocolate will overwhelm the flavor.

When melting white chocolate, melt carefully over hot water in a double boiler.

Do not allow the water the boil as the white chocolate burns easily.


Because this was for St Patrick's Day, I added 5-6 dark green Confectioner's melts at the last
making a pretty soft green.




 Dip chilled balls into melted dark or white chocolate using a fork.

Then carefully slide off the fork onto wax paper or a silicone mat using a small spatula, as shown.
Set aside to cool completely.
To decorate, melt about a 1/3 cup of green confectioner's melts.
Pour into a piping bag and clip just the tip off the bag.
Have fun decorating your candy.
I used stripes on the dark chocolate and swirls on the white chocolate.

Mmmmmmm -Chocolate on the outside,
gentle flavors of pistachio and coconut on the inside!


With this candy, there's plenty of Green on hand for St Paddy's Day!


May you have:
A world of wishes at your command.
God and his angels close to hand.
Friends and family their love impart,
and Irish blessings in your heart!


************************************




Recipe, Tutorial and Photography by Jacque Benson 2011
All Rights Reserved.
Please note
This material may not be reproduced without permission from the author.



Friday, February 19, 2021

A Snowflake is Winter's Butterfly

I love that quote!

 In that spirit, I decided to make my own snowflakes out of  poured sugar- Isomalt- to be more specific.

The supplies I used were 1 cup of Isomalt crystals, a small saucepan, a rubber snowflake mold, a spoon, non-stick spray and a small bowl of ice water ( in case of burn injury!)

Isomalt is interesting. I had used it once before and learned quickly about its properities ( idiosyncrasies, if you will) at about 3am in the morning before a 9am scheduled cake delivery! Having waded through a barrage of mistakes, making the snowflakes on this go round was a bit easier.

I started by spraying a rubber snowflake mold ( the kind used to make maple candy ) with non-stick spray.
Then I dabbed the inside of the molds with a paper towel to make sure there was no puddling of the spray anywhere. This is important! Any pooling of the nonstick spray will literally sizzle and cook when you pour the Isomalt on it and you will have to discard your candy. I know this for a fact. :-(

Then I poured about a cup (or so- I didn't measure) of Isomalt into a stainless steel saucepan. I put my candy thermometer in place and, without adding water, began heating the crystals over low heat; stirring as it began to melt down.

Once melted, the sugar begans to heat quickly and before you even notice it is boiling, the candy thermomter will register 356 F or 180 C.

Isomalt heats very quickly. Do not turn your back on it. Do not blink!
However, it is more forgiving than sugar because it maintains its clear properties as it approaches the hard crack stage of cooking, whereas sugar turns a nice amber color.


Quickly remove from heat and with spoon, carefully ladle into the mold. Watch your hands as you do this to avoid burning yourself on the pan. ( Ask me how I know )

Wait until the candy snowflakes completely harden. Pull the mold away from the snowflakes.

 For more definition, I brushed some with SuperPearl edible dust or sprinkled with edible disco dust for sparkle.


There you have it. Easy Poured Sugar Snowflakes!
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!!

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Easy DIY Cupcake Tower Tutorial




This is an inexpensive, but sturdy method for building a cupcake tower. I have tried a few different ways before, but by far, this is the easiest and most sturdy one that I have built, so I wanted to share it with you all.



I always use foam core for making my cake boards, and there is usually about a 5-6 inch strip left over. Thinking I can use it for future use, I typically save them. Now I found that use! I needed 4" wide pieces of 1/2" foam core to create the platform for the tower; and using left over pieces of foam core can really save on the cost.





Another way to save on the cost is to use a craft store coupon. Also, Hobby Lobby and Michaels frequently run sales on foam core.





Here is the list of supplies you will need for the project:




1/4" Foam Core (2 boards)

1/2" Foam Core

Exacto Knife

Pencil

Ruler

Cake Pan (to use as a tracing guide)

Straight Pins

Craft Glue

3/8" Ribbon

Wrapping Paper, poster board, or foil (Opt)

Adhesive spray (Opt)





1.) Begin by deciding what size and how many tiers you will want your tower. An easy way to get a mind's eye view is to stack cake pans.
For my project, I chose 18", 13", and 8" rounds.





2.) Using your cake pans as a tracing guide, mark your circles on 1/4" foam core, then carefully cut them out with the exacto knife. Take your time on this step, cutting the circles as perfectly as possible. This really effects the presentation.



NOTE*(At this point, you can cover your circles with a pretty paper, poster board, or foil. Just spray with adhesive spray, then cover front and back.) Since the one I was made needed to be white anyway, I just left it "as is".)



3.) Mark and cut the 1/2" foam core into 4" strips. These will create the platform. Again, measure twice and cut carefully, as the cut of the platform effects the stability of the whole tower.



You will need two of each length for every upper tier.







  The length is the strip will be "diameter minus 2 inches". For instance, since I chose 13" and 8" upper tiers, I needed two each platform strips measuring 11" and 6".



4.) Butt the strips together and mark the center. Then measure 1/4" from center on each side.



With a ruler, trace a two vertical line 2" in length from the edge of the strip, as shown.



Cut these two inch strips out, creating a notch.



Place the notched side of platform strips together and insert, creating a stand.



Stack your stand and check stability.





 If it is not stable, then your cut was inaccurate.



 Remeasure the width of your strips, shore it up and recheck the stability.







5.) Cut the ribbon into 5" lengths. Glue to the edges of the platform. Run a bead of glue around the edges of the rounds, then attach ribbon.



6.) Mark the center of each round. Push a straight pin through the center of each tier. Run a bead of glue onto the tops and bottoms of the platform and insert pins into center for perfect alignment.







Remove pin. Allow to dry.





Here is the Cupcake Tower set up for my great-nephews' birthday Ninjago tournament. Just ignore the fact that I didn't manage to get the top cake centered!! Sheeesh! The good news is that my little guys didn't notice or didn't care!!



Have fun. Be Creative. Your cupcake tower will be hit!





Tutorial and Photography by Jacque Benson
All rights reserved 2013


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