Cherry-Blackberry Crumble Bars

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This past week, Paul and I bought some blackberries to experiment with some of our wedding cocktails. After all of our experiments, I had a bunch of blackberries left over. Considering the past couple days have been nothing but rich Devil’s Food Cake, I wanted something to cut the richness of the chocolate.

For me, berries are just the thing. However, I had blackberries left over, but not enough to make a full blackberry dessert. When I went to the store to grab a few things for dinner, they had a great sale on bags of cherries. I took to the internet, and found a tantalizing recipe for Plum Crumble Bars.

I decided to change it up a bit and exchange the plums for the blackberries and the cherries I bought. They were fairly easy to make, the longest thing I had to do to prepare the recipe was pit the cherries.

Here’s to a long, hot summer filled with all kinds of delicious fruit filled recipes!
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Ingredients

Yield: 24 bars

¾ c. brown sugar
¼ c. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
3 c. flour
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. allspice or 1/8 tsp. cardamom
¼ tsp. salt
1 c. cold butter
1 egg
1½ c. blackberries
3 c. cherries

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.

Rinse berries. Pit and halve cherries, and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the sugars, baking powder, flour, and spices. Whisk to combine. Dice the butter into small cubes, and with a pastry blender, cut in the butter to the flour mixture. Once the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, stir in the egg.

Press ¾ of the mixture into the bottom of the pan and press firmly. Spread the blackberries and cherries over the crust in an even layer. Sprinkle the remaining crumble mixture over the berries.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until crumble on top is golden brown and berries are bubbling. Cool in pan completely before slicing and serving.

Devil’s Food Cake with Chocolate Buttercream

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I feel like it’s been such a long time since I have made a cake! In reality, it’s only been a little less than two weeks, but it’s been at least a year since I have made this fantastic cake. Devil’s Food cake is different than regular chocolate by one major aspect: it contains coffee. A lot of regular chocolate cakes do not have coffee, but the amazing thing is that you can’t even taste it. The small addition of coffee to chocolate cake really brings out the notes in the chocolate. Amazing.

Nothing pairs better with a decadent Devil’s Food cake than a luscious chocolate buttercream frosting. The original recipe for this cake I have had for quite a few years now, and I can’t even remember where I got it. I also changed the recipe slightly, increasing this from a two layer cake to a three layer cake, because personally, I love the look of a triple layer cake.

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Also, I experimented with a couple tricks that I have recently learned. Firstly, “Bake-Even” strips. You may or may not have heard of these. There are a few brand names that have these strips. Basically the idea is that you dampen these strips of material, fasten them around the cake pans, and the cakes bake up perfectly level. Oh my gosh, it works. I didn’t want to spend tons of money on the brand name version, so Paul helped me to cut up an old towel. That’s it, that’s all. We cut up an old towel into strips, soaked them in water, wrung them out so that they were still damp, and then safety pinned them around the cake pans. Place the batter in the pan, and then just bake away. Perfectly level cakes.

Secondly, “Miracle Cake Release”. It’s something I found on Pinterest, and decided to give it a try. It’s a 1:1:1 ratio of flour, vegetable or canola oil, and vegetable shortening (I tried ½ c. ratio of each). It really is a miracle. You just mix it all up, brush it on your cake pans, and off you go. No more flouring, cutting up parchment paper, anything like that. So simple and easy. If anyone wants, leave a comment and I can do a post just dedicated to this cake release. It really helps. The cakes just slide out of the pan!

Ingredients

Yield: 1 3-layer cake

For the cake:

13½ tbsp. cocoa
2¼ c. flour
¾ tsp. salt
1½ tsp. baking soda
1/3 tsp. baking powder
¾ c. butter
2¼ c. sugar
3 eggs
¾ c. coffee
¾ c. milk

For the chocolate buttercream:

1½ c. butter
1 1/3 c. cocoa
1½ tsp. vanilla
6 c. icing sugar
3 tbsp. milk

Preheat the oven to 350. Brush 3 cake pans with Miracle Cake Release, or line with parchment paper. Secure Bake Even strips around pans with safety pins.

In a liquid measuring cup, mix the milk and coffee and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix the cocoa, flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder until evenly combined, and also set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.

Add the flour mixture and the coffee mixture to the butter mixture in alternating increments. I like to start with the flour mixture, and end with the coffee mixture. Blend until well combined. Pour into pans in even layers.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in pans for about 10 minutes, then invert onto wire racks to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, beat the butter and vanilla together to make a fluffy mixture. Add in the cocoa, and the icing sugar one cup at a time. Add in milk a tablespoon at a time as needed to make sure frosting is the right consistency for icing. If you want to bring more of the Devil’s Food flavour to the icing, switch some of the milk for strong brewed coffee.

I promise, the icing will come together. If it seems a bit too dry, add a bit more liquid. If you add a bit too much milk, throw in a bit more icing sugar. Don’t worry. This buttercream is quite forgiving when it comes to consistency.

Once icing is the right consistency, stack cakes one at a time on a serving platter, spreading icing between the layers, and finish cake with a layer of icing on the top and edges. Personally, for Devil’s Food cake, I like a rustic looking icing, so it doesn’t have to be perfect. Slice, and serve.

Earl Grey Sables

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I love cookies. I also love tea. My close friends know of my affinity for great tea, and I have finally decided to take my tea-love to a whole new level. I have been looking at desserts with tea in them for quite a while now, and never got around to making any of them. I finally decided to make some tea flavoured cookies.

In the past two years, I have discovered David’s Tea. If you don’t know what David’s Tea is, it is an amazing little tea shop that specializes in different kinds of loose leaf tea. Last Christmas, I was given a great Earl Grey tea, called The Earl’s Garden. It is a mixture of Earl Grey tea with strawberries. Absolutely delicious.
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Now, Annie’s Eats has a delicious recipe for vanilla sables that I made a couple months ago and posted. She also has a recipe for Chocolate Chai Sables that I’ve been meaning to make, but since I have a huge bag of The Earl’s Garden, I decided to tweak the recipe. I took out the Chai tea and the chocolate chips, and just added some of the loose Earl Grey. When I do make the Chocolate Chai Sables (and oh, I will!) I am planning on using either a Chocolate Chili Chai tea or a Pumpkin Chai tea. Either way. If you are a fan of cookies, or of tea, these will be right up your alley.
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Ingredients

Yield: Approx. 2-3 dozen cookies

For the cookies:

1 c. butter, at room temperature
2½ tbsp. Earl Grey tea (either loose leaf or from about 5 tea bags)
2/3 c. sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 tbsp. vanilla
2¼ c. flour
½ tsp. salt

For finishing:

Turbinado sugar (or regular if you don’t have Turbinado sugar)
1 large egg white mixed with 1 tbsp. water

In the bowl of a mixer, blend the butter, tea and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the egg yolks one at a time, and vanilla, and blend until incorporated. With the mixer on low speed, add in the flour and salt, and mix until a thick dough forms.

Gather the dough together on a piece of parchment paper, and roll into a long rope about 1¾ inch in diameter. Wrap in parchment paper, and freeze 2-3 hours until very firm.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking sheets. Unroll the dough, and pour a line of turbinado sugar (or regular white sugar) on the parchment paper. Brush the egg wash on the dough, roll in the sugar, and slice with a sharp knife into rounds about ½ inch thick.

Place the dough rounds on the baking sheets and bake until the edges are light golden and just set, about 14-15 minutes, rotating halfway through. Let cool on baking sheets for a couple minutes, then transfer to wire racks to finish cooling.

Pink Lemonade Cake

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It’s basically summer! Considering for the past few weeks have been nothing but a lot of rain, I wanted to make something to hopefully bring the summertime a little sooner. Pink Lemonade Cake seemed like the perfect answer. I recently also bought some Pink Lemonade Tea from David’s Tea. Paul and I made it as iced tea, and it was phenomenal. The cake came out of that love of Pink Lemonade, and love of cake in general.
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I found the original recipe here, and didn’t really make any changes to it. The funny thing is that I had to make this cake twice. The first time I made it, I had invited my dear friend Sandi over for dinner. I made lasagna rolls and this cake for dessert. To be completely honest, we pretty much demolished this cake. By the time she left, there was only about half of the cake left, because I sent her home with a huge piece as well.

The other reason that I made this cake twice is because the first time, the cake stuck horribly to the inside of the bundt pan. When it came out, half of it was still inside the pan, and it did not look nice at all. I mean at all. It tasted great, but not pretty. I hate posting anything that looks as bad as that cake did, so I found a recipe for a Miracle Pan Release.
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Now, I was a bit skeptical about this pan release, but after the first failed try (where the recipe called for an ungreased pan), I was willing to try it. There was a huge improvement. While the cake still stuck a little bit, it was nowhere near as bad as the first time. In fact, with the glaze over the cake, you can barely tell.

Go on and help welcome summer with this cake. You won’t be sorry!
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Ingredients

Yield: 1 10-inch bundt cake

For the cake:

5 large eggs, divided
1½ c. flour
1½ c. sugar, divided
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. lemon zest, or 1 tsp. lemon extract
2/3 c. lemon juice
½ c. canola oil
4-5 drops red food colouring
½ tsp. cream of tartar

For the glaze:

1½ tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest, or ½ tsp. lemon extract
1-1½ c. icing sugar (as needed)

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt and mix well. In a small mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks, lemon zest or extract, lemon juice, oil, and food colouring. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until well combined.

In the bowl of a mixer, start whipping the egg whites until foamy. Add in the cream of tartar and the remaining sugar, and whip until soft peaks form. Add 1/3 of the meringue and whisk into batter until smooth. Add the remaining meringue and fold gently into batter.

Grease and flour a  bundt pan (I will post the recipe for the pan release soon!), and pour the batter into the pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Leave in pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto wire rack to cool.

When cool, transfer to serving plate. In a small bowl, mix the ingredients for the glaze. Consistency should be not too thick, but be able to smoothly run off the whisk or fork. Drizzle over cake slowly, then slice and serve.