Archive for January, 2012

Milk bites

Birthday cake truffles

I haven’t been to Milk Bar since they opened in 2009.  Even though its been nearly two years since my last taste, those bites of sweet, crunchy, gooey goodness still keep me singing their praises to anyone and everyone that will listen.

Well, a lot has changed since 2009.  Three new Milk Bars, have opened, including one in Brooklyn. The east village location moved across the street to a tiny storefront and a new cocktail bar, Booker & Dax, took its place.

I recently headed back to the east village, where it all started, for a post-brunch sugar high. The pork buns looked so tempting, but I went straight for the Candy Bar Pie. With layers of chocolate cookies, peanut butter, caramel and pretzels, you really can’t go wrong. Nothing has changed about that stellar slice of heaven. I was sad to find that the bakery no longer serves cake by the slice, so I had to take some Birthday Cake Truffles to go for the train ride back to New Jersey.

On a side note, I finally got the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook (a Christmas present!) and I’m very excited to try out some of my favorite recipes at home, including the Chocolate Chip Passion Fruit Cake. Yum. I’ll be sure to tell you all about my favorite Momofuku baking adventures.

Candy bar pie

If you haven’t been to Milk Bar, or you haven’t been for a while, beware – those cake truffles are like crack.


Read Full Post »

Cakes I

Rum soaked genoise cake filled with raspberry jam and topped with an Italian meringue buttercream and tasted sliced almonds

Cakes – yum. The dessert that my friends and family tend to get the most excited about. The possibilities for flavors, fillings, finishes and decorations are endless. We are just now finishing Cakes II, the second installment of our cakes unit, which builds upon the basic techniques (layering, finishing, etc.) that we learned during Cakes I.  The above cake was the very first one we made and the project we were required to create for our Cakes I practical exam.

Genoise is a stable cake that’s great for layering. One drawback is that it doesn’t tend to have a lot of flavor. Every time we make a genoise, we soak the layers in flavored simple syrup, which prolongs the shelf life of the product (by creating a moisture barrier between the cake and filling) and is a fun way to infuse flavor. You can use virtually anything to flavor the simple syrup (juice, liquor, spirits, wine, etc), but we tend to use a lot of whiskey, rum and kirsch.

Angel food cake

I’m not a huge Angel Food Cake fan, but for those of you sticking to New Year’s resolutions (I’m not even going to pretend that I am), this is a naturally fat free cake. That’s right, there isn’t even one drop of butter. Angel Food Cake slices are great with fresh berries and whipped cream – a perfect and light summer dessert.

Marjolaine cake

The Marjolaine cake was one of my favorites. This picture doesn’t do it justice. So much work goes into the creation of this product. I love it because it combines some of my favorite things – chocolate cake, dacquoise, chocolate ganache, coffee buttercream, whipped cream and more. It’s a small cake, but retails for quite a hefty price tag due to the cost of ingredients and labor.

Charlotte russe cake

Not only is the Charlotte Russe cake elegant, it’s delicious. I happened to have this while my parents were visiting for the weekend. I was surprised to see that my father and husband, who are not easily impressed by fruit forward desserts, loved the pear mousse this cake is filled with. It didn’t last long.

Dacquoise au cafe

I love dacquoise cake, especially when it’s draped in coffee buttercream (my favorite from Tartine in NYC is actually pictured in the above header of this blog). There is just something about that combination of the crunchy, nutty meringue mixed with silky mocha buttercream and toasted nuts that makes me happy.

Carrot cake

I’m a big fan of Carrot Cake and have tried dozens of different recipes over the years. This one is a keeper. In fact, you will definitely want to try this one at home (I’ll post it soon!). This cake landed in my husband’s office, where it received rave reviews. The marzipan carrots were a fun touch, and tasted great too!

Dark and white chocolate mousse cake with whipped cream and chocolate curls

While the dark and white chocolate mousse in this cake were fantastic, this project was really about making a Pate a Cornet, which is a paste that you place over a stencil to create a design on the exterior of a cake. It’s an impressive technique.  The center of the cake can be filled with anything your heart desires.

Dobos torte

The Dobos Torte was a fun project. The top layer is actually a cake layer that was topped with a thin layer of light caramel and then cut into equal pieces before the caramel hardened. It looks special and was a very easy decoration.

There are so many more projects from Cakes II to tell you about!

Read Full Post »


A flaky pain au chocolat

I know I’ve been a bit absent – sorry about that! Between the holidays, work and school, my blogging schedule moved to the back burner in late 2011. But I’m ready to get back on track in 2012. I thought I’d offer a summary of the units I’ve covered in school since my last Pastry Bites update. Let’s start with Viennoiserie, which are yeast-based baked goods.

Challah loaf

In this unit, we experimented with so many different types of bread and pastries, focused on the importance of fresh yeast and learned that a proof box can either be your best friend (there is no substitute for a beautifully risen danish or croissant) or your worst enemy (it’s a sad day when the proof box doesn’t perform).

Cinnamon danish with whiskey soaked raisins

Viennoiserie items ranged from Cinnamon Swirl Bread and Fruit Cake to Brioche, Croissant and Scones. We baked so many things in this unit. My sweets carrier was stocked every night!

Brioche a tete

I think my favorite creations during this unit were the Croissants and Danish. They are so worth the effort (and the calories!).

Sally Lunn rolls

Tom recently enjoyed a Sally Lunn Roll that I froze during this unit and thinks they are fantastic. It’s a great bun and nice accompaniment to nearly any meal.

Read Full Post »