Happy Father’s Day: Boston Cream Cake-Pie-Monster-Thing

Whenever I ask my dad what he wants me to make for dessert that weekend, I always get the same answer.  Without fail.

“Flour.  Sugar.  Frosting.  Can I put it on cereal?”

I used to find this a lot more annoying.  I get that it’s his way of enjoying whatever I’ve baked, or something, but there was a while when I would so indignantly declare that he was ruining the dessert that I’d worked so hard to make delicious and pretty and why was I even wasting my time, because he was just going to dissect my beautiful creation with a spoon and stuff it with ice cream?

He answered with his infamous (at least in my house) theory that the uglier food is, the better it tastes, and that he didn’t give a rat’s ass about how pretty my food was.  We’ve since agreed to disagree on the issue.

Our second-biggest dessert disagreement is muffins v. cupcakes: I have explained the difference probably thirty times, and he still seems to decide arbitrarily whether something is a muffin or a cupcake.  Frosting?  Definitely a cupcake.  Chocolate?  Probably a muffin.

Or in most cases in my house, an unfrosted cupcake.  But again, agree to disagree.  And not be able to explain, apparently.

His latest “food whut” has been a bit of a griper, though: what constitutes “frosting”.  He gets the difference between whipped cream and frosting just fine, but all other filling categories (with the exception of pudding, which he is totally on board with) fall into the vague “frosting” category.  I told him I was going to make a tart with a pastry cream; that was frosting.  And when I pitched the Boston cream monstrosity that I made him for Father’s Day, going over each layer with him, his response to the cream filling was something along the lines of “that’s frosting, right?”

When I told him it wasn’t, he asked if we could replace it with frosting.

When I said no and told him we could replace it with something like a cannoli filling instead, he nodded and said “Frosting.  Good.”

I give up.

Happy Fathers’ Day, weirdo.  Glad you like your cake, whatever it is you want to call the filling.

Boston Cream Cake-Pie

Pybrids for victory!

Boston Cream Cake-Pie
adapted from this recipe, reprinted on Huffington Post from Vegan Pie In The Sky

Ingredients

for the cake:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

for the crust:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups graham crackers, crumbled fine
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup sugar

for the filling:

  • 6 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup milk, divided
  • 1 teaspoon powdered, unflavored gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

for the ganache:

  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and generously spray a 9″ pie dish with cooking spray.
  2. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, vinegar, sugar, oil, and vanilla, whisking until smooth. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix until just moistened.
  3. Pour the batter into the pie dish and bake 13-14 minutes, or until a toothpick draws clean. (The top will be shiny, and the cake will strongly resemble a very large, very short flan.) Let cool for about five minutes, then invert onto a large dinner plate.
  4. Clean and dry your pie plate, then start on the graham cracker crust. Pour the graham crackers, sugar, and butter into the pie plate and mix by hand until combined; press into the shape of the pie plate and bake 10-12 minutes.
  5. In a blender or stand mixer, blend the ricotta, vanilla and almond extracts, and lemon juice until smooth. Set aside.
  6. Working in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine 1/2 cup milk and the gelatin. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer after 20-30 seconds and cook 5 minutes more. Stir in the sugar. Combine the remaining milk and cornstarch separately, then pour into the gelatin-milk mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened.
  7. Add the milk mixture to the ricotta and blend until smooth. Pour this mixture into the pie shell, tap to release air bubbles, and transfer to the refrigerator for 10 minutes to set.
  8. Once the filling feels slightly firm, gently place the cake layer on top and return to the fridge.
  9. In a small saucepan, prep your ganache: bring the cream to a rapid boil over medium-high heat, then remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate and butter. Pour the ganache out onto the center of the cake, tilting to spread the chocolate out to the edges.
  10. Let sit at least 3 hours in the fridge before serving.

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Party of One: Mug Cake

This weekend I really, really just wanted cake.

I didn’t want to make a whole cake, though, because we still have cupcakes left from last week.  And it would have thrown off my carefully plotted baking schedule (which resumes next week with chocolate cream pie, at my mamabear’s request).  And I had so much going on with my never-ending spring cleaning (see also: this upcoming Tuesday’s post) that I didn’t want to take the time out to make, bake, and inevitably frost a whole cake.

Stupid needy stomach.

Luckily for me, this was an easier fix than I anticipated.  Enter: mug cake.

Easiest cake ever. Also the least pretty.

Easiest cake ever. Also the least pretty.

Perfect, single-serving, cake-y goodness.  Done in two minutes.  What more can a girl with a burning need for cake ask for?

There are probably eight or nine trillion recipes for mug cake out on the internet right now.  It’s kind of sweeping the world by storm because hello, single serving cake product with its own container built right into the title.  And did I mention it takes like zero effort?  Frankly I’m surprised these weren’t bigger sooner.

Probably those damn cupcakes being all charming and distracting us.

Four ingredient cake, where three of the ingredients are mixins?  Believe it.

Four ingredient cake, where three of the ingredients are mixins? Believe it.

But like any cake recipe, it’s easy enough to adjust as far as flavor is concerned.  I just looked around for the basic ratios on flour, sugar, leaveners, etc, and then did what I wanted from there; the end result was a strawberry-banana chocolate chip extravaganza.

I also didn’t really wind up measuring.  Like at all.  (I planned to, so y’all could have a real recipe, but these things happen sometimes.)  It was a very blasé cake baking experience, but here are the basics: a mashed banana, flour, one egg white, strawberries, and chocolate.  I relied on the sugar from the berries and the banana to cover the sweet component, but sugar is also something that could be considered in reproduction cakes.  All that got mixed in a mug and microwaved, and cake ensued.

Fresh out of the oven. The microwave oven.

Fresh out of the oven.
The microwave oven.

And a happy camper was I.

Single-serve baked goods: awesome, or non?  Your thoughts are always welcome below.

Happy birthday, sailor.

Mint Oreo Brownies with Thomas Keller!

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

..if you’re in Hartford.  I don’t get this at all, but my lovely state is having all of our St Pat’s parades this weekend– even though St Pat’s is, you know.

On a weekend.

Stay perfect, Connecticut.

Since next weekend is going to get overloaded with the food apocalypse that is St Patrick’s Day aka overloaded with starch and starring the word “boiled”, I’m getting a jump and starting with the tasty things a week early.

Planning!  Or something.  Here, I’ll distract you with mint Oreo brownies.

Look at the brownies!  The tasty, tasty brownies.

Look at the brownies! The tasty, tasty brownies.

Okay so mint has nothing to do with Ireland, and neither do Oreos, but mint and Oreos are both things I like and brownies were the dessert-on-the-table for the weekend.  This was inevitable.

And they’re green.  That counts?

The original plan was just to make normal, garden-variety brownies and then Oreo the shit out of them.  But my public library sent me an email yesterday saying that the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook had come in on interlibrary loan…

Cue angelic choir, for this is the baking BIBLE.

Cue angelic choir, for this is the baking BIBLE.

…and I couldn’t. I couldn’t not use it.

Such a pro, sifting with a spoon.

Such a pro, sifting with a spoon.

In addition to 8,000 tips and a whole arsenal of drool-worthy pictures, Thomas Keller is good enough to grace us with a lot (a lot) of recipes for things that you’ll instantly feel compelled to make.  Or at the very least wave around in everyone’s face and say “DOESN’T THAT SOUND DELICIOUS?” until they all get sick of you and tell you to go away.

(Thanks, mom, for not actually telling me to go away.  But your face kind of drove the message home.)

The closest kin to a brownie in the book are Keller’s bouchon(and that’s French for cork, apparently): little round cakes with a special mold named after them from Williams-Sonoma.  But since I didn’t feel like shelling out for a special pan (and really, I just wanted brownies) I figured the recipe would be adaptable for my purposes and set about getting all the ingredients out of their various ingredient-homes.

Totally prepared, right?

Mise en place, my version.  Totally prepared, right?

But then when I started looking at the recipe I remembered something: Keller is, like most professional bakers, really into baking by weight rather than baking by volume.  There’s a whole section of the introduction about it.

Thomas Keller put the fear of baking-god in me, and I caved.  And I weighed.

Mise en place, the anal retentive version.

Mise en place, the anal retentive version.

I have no idea what the difference would have been if I’d used the volumes provided (for the silly people who don’t have scales, what a concept), but there was a nagging voice in the back of my head telling me to just do what Keller wanted.

I guess weights have the advantage of being easier to divide/multiply.  Conversions?  What are those?

I guess weights have the advantage of being easier to divide/multiply. Conversions? What are those?

He probably knows best, anyway.

Mint Oreo Brownies - dry

I whisked dry ingredients. I never whisk dry ingredients, but I did it just because Keller told me to and I am no one to beg to differ.

From there, the brownies were really easy to put together.  Just as easy as any other brownie, which is to say…easy.

I spy with my little eye...yellow Oreos?  They're spring; my mom isn't keen on the mint, so I went half-and-half.

I spy with my little eye…yellow Oreos? They’re spring; my mom isn’t keen on the mint, so I went half-and-half.

I did skip one step (shh! Don’t tell Keller) because I goofed and preheated my oven before I read the part about letting the batter sit for 2 hours.

Whatever.  They came out fine.

See?  Fine.

See? Fine.

You know how sometimes brownies just taste like mislabeled cake?  And you eat them and you feel disappointed because you wanted that nice dry crumb that you get from a brownie?  These are not that.  These are perfectly crumbly, nice and dark, and absolutely delicious.

The cookie part of the Oreo changes texture– it sort of hybridizes with the brownie, which is pretty excellent, since you get the aforementioned crumb with a tiny lingering crunch from the cookie.

Plus, they taste like Thin Mints.  There is literally nothing not to like.

I’m posting the quantities in weights; I know there are converters out there, though, so if you don’t have a scale don’t worry.  I can also post the volume-d out quantities as well, just ask.  Also, for reference: 75 grams of eggs is about 1 large egg, so don’t kill yourself over it.

Mint Oreo Brownies
adapted from Bouchon Bakery Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 141 grams unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 50 grams all-purpose flour
  • 50 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 0.4 gram Kosher salt
  • 75 grams eggs
  • 162 grams granulated sugar
  • 1.5 grams vanilla extract
  • 16 mint Oreos

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Set aside half the butter in a medium bowl. Melt the rest in a small saucepan, stirring occasionally. Stir the melted butter into the non-melted until the mixture comes to room temperature and appears creamy with small bits of non-melted butter left; set aside.
  3. Sift the cocoa powder into the flour. Add the salt and whisk together.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and vanilla on medium-low. Scrape down the bowl. While the mixer is running, alternate additions of the flour mixture and the butter (3 additions each). Continue mixing until combined.
  5. Lightly grease an 8×8 glass baking dish and coat the bottom with about half of the batter. Line Oreos across in four rows of four, then cover with the remaining batter, using a spatula to spread until all the Oreos are covered.
  6. Bake 20-24 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

What’s your favorite brownie fixin’– or are you more a fan of the classic plain?