Friday, May 27, 2011

Lemon Meringue Cake

I've been in Little Rock, Arkansas this week visiting the fam, and my grandmother celebrated her eighty-second birthday, so I was asked to bake her birthday cake. I had some time constraints on me, so I didn't get to really plan what I was going to do. I had suggested a simple chocolate cake, but then my mother reminded me that grandma doesn't like chocolate cake. She's from the pound-cake generation (not that I have anything against pound cake...), which seems to have an adoration for all things lemon in the confection world (not that I have anything against lemons...). I considered making lemon meringue pie, but I hate not making cake for birthdays. Instead, I made lemon filling and meringue and slapped it together with a box-mix yellow cake and some fresh vanilla frosting. My grandmother's cake didn't turn out to be so pretty (like an amateur, I attempted a layer cake), but my second attempt at this cake does look much nicer (the 9x13 inch pyrex did the trick). My mom, who use to be a great chocolate lover, can no longer indulge in chocolate for health reasons, so I made this second lemon meringue cake for her today. I'm heading home to New Orleans tomorrow, so she'll have this dessert as a little memento... for at least a few days...

For this cake make a box yellow cake as directed. After it cools, frost with vanilla icing. I made my icing from scratch.
Icing recipe:
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
In a bowl with a beater attachment, cream butter. Add vanilla, then alternate adding powdered sugar and milk until you have a nice frosting. Frost cake; set aside.

For the lemon meringue portion:
For the lemon filling:
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups water
2 lemons, juiced and zested
2 tablespoons butter
4 egg yolks, beaten
For the meringue:
4 egg whites
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a small to medium saucepan, combine 1 cup sugar, flour, cornstarch, salt, water, lemon juice and zest. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until boiling. Add butter; stir; turn off heat. Add 1/2 cup of lemon mixture to beaten egg yolks. Do so slowly, whisking constantly. Add egg mixture to remaining mixture in the saucepan; return to a boil, while whisking. Pour into a bowl to cool. Once cool, spread over iced cake.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites until frothy. Add sugar and vanilla; whip until stiff peaks form. Spread meringue over cake and bake approximately 5 minutes, or until the meringue develops touches of golden brown. Refrigerate to help with cake set up.
Grandma's cake... My brother said, "I won't eat that because it looks like a scrambled egg." I guess it does...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I just started freelancing for

My topic isn't food... But I am really excited about what I've been invited to write about -- attachment parenting. Because of my contract terms, my topic has to be location-related, so I'll be discussing attachment parenting activities that can be done in New Orleans. So if you're interested in attachment parenting, or activities in New Orleans, I'm sure you can glean something from my first article and articles to come. Here's a link to the first article, A walk in the park: New Orleans City Park. Feel free to leave a comment here or there!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Baked Alaska

This is definitely one of the coolest desserts I've ever made (Haha -- excessively corny pun intended). The short amount of time this creation spends baking warms the cake base, which is delightfully contrasted by the cold, ice cream filling; and the firmness from the toasted meringue crust, which maintains a soft, marshmallow-like consistency, adds another dimension of texture and flavor. But even after this cake has been put in the freezer, supposing it's too big for everyone to finish, it's still a delightful frozen treat -- a sort of superior ice cream cake.

For the cake portion, I used half of my favorite chocolate cake recipe, which is an 8 inch round cake. For the ice cream portion, I used about 20 oz. of a coffee-flavored ice cream made by a company local to New Orleans. And for the crust, I made a basic vanilla meringue.

Ingredients for the meringue:
8 egg whites
2 cups granulated sugar
pinch of salt
splash of vanilla

In a bowl with a whisk attachment, combine all ingredients and whisk until stiff peaks form.

For the Baked Alaska:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a baking sheet, place cake; top with cold ice cream. (It's best if you leave the ice cream in the freezer until the entire cake is ready for assembly. Meaning, you should have your oven heated and your meringue in the piping bag.) Try forming your ice cream into a dome shape. It doesn't have to be perfect because the meringue will conceal imperfections. Using a piping bag fitted with a star tip, pipe meringue over the entire cake. Bake 5 to 7 minutes, or until the meringue develops golden brown tips.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Buttermilk Pancakes

I think it's safe to assume that everyone who regularly views my blog has his or her own favorite, basic pancake recipe. And I realize that I have a few pancake recipe variations on this blog already, but since I get a lot of keyword search hits via google these days, I thought it would be nice to post a basic pancake recipe for people looking for a quick reference.

2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, beat eggs; stir in buttermilk and oil. Add all remaining ingredients, and stir just until large lumps disappear.
Grease a large, heated, non-stick pan or griddle until it passes the water drop test (which is when a drop of water sizzles and bounces off the pan, informing you that it's hot enough). Use 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. Cook about 2 minutes or until the edges look cooked and bubbles begin to break on the surface. Flip your pancake, and cook until golden brown.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Chocolate Cake with Milk Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Mmm... I'm getting hungry just thinking about it. I last made this cake about a month ago. Though it wasn't the first time using this cake recipe, it was my first time frosting it with milk chocolate cream cheese frosting, which I believe to be the perfect compliment to this particular cake recipe. A quick note about the cake recipe: it is not my creation. It's the most popular chocolate cake recipe on with, last I checked, over 900 five star reviews. It's also just as highly reviewed on There you'll find it listed among Ina Garten's recipes. Here are the links:

So I won't bother with typing up the cake recipe. But I will share my milk chocolate cream cheese frosting recipe.

6 oz. milk chocolate
1 tablespoon butter
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 cups confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons milk

In a double boiler, melt milk chocolate and butter until just melted. Whisk and remove from heat. In a bowl with a beater attachment, begin mixing the cream cheese and beat in melted chocolate. Alternate adding confectioners sugar and milk until you've achieved the desired consistency.