Candy Sugar Cookie Xmass Tree

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Christmas is the perfect time for sugar cookies. They are everywhere: Decorating tables, adorning the tree, as gifts, as ginger houses and just being the perfect activity to join everybody in the kitchen for a fun time.

Here is the recipe I use for decorating cookies. It’s my favorite because I don’t have to wait for it to be cold to roll it. Still is a good practice to place the cut cookies on its tray in the cooler before the oven, because it helps them hold its shape.

You can swipe the vanilla extract for almond, or even some lemon zest. You can also color the dough, but I find the shade that comes out of the oven a little dull, unless you add too much.

I found this recipe in a great blog called Katrina’s Kitchen. Check her out she has great recipes and I love her pictures too.

Sugar cookies

PREP TIME: 30 minutes

COOK TIME: 6-8 minutes

TOTAL TIME: 38 minutes



1 cup unsalted butter

1 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

2 teaspoons baking powder

pinch of salt

3 Cups flour


DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350° F.

2. In the bowl of your mixer cream butter and sugar until smooth, at least 3 minutes

3. Beat in extracts and egg.

4. In a separate bowl combine baking powder and salt with flour and add a little at a time to the wet ingredients. The dough will be very stiff. If it becomes too stiff for your mixer turn out the dough onto a countertop surface. Wet your hands and finish off kneading the dough by hand.

5. DO NOT CHILL THE DOUGH. Divide into workable batches, roll out onto a floured surface and cut. You want these cookies to be on the thicker side (closer to 1/4 inch rather than 1/8).

6. Bake at 350 for 6-8 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheet until firm enough to transfer to a cooling rack.

Original recipe http://www.inkatrinaskitchen.com/best-sugar-cookie-recipe-ever/

Pumpkin and chocolate mousse

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Thanksgiving Dessert

I had this idea to combine chocolate and pumpkin together, but how?

MOUSSE of course.

For the chocolate part I have my eternal go to chocolate mousse I found on the book MIETTE.

Everything in this book is special and delicious and more so when you taste it in person at their San Francisco Store.

Now for the pumpkin mousse I had to try a few. Frist I tried one that used whipped egg whites, but the consistency was different between the two mousses. Then, I tried one with store bought custard in the ingredients. Very good but you can feel the “packaged” taste.

Next I found this delicious recipe made with condensed milk. And everything made with condensed milk is the best. Enjoy

Chocolate Mousse

From the book "Miette"

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

6 ounces of dark chocolate

6 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

Combine the sugar and water in a pan, bring to the boil, turn down to a simmer and cook for approx 4 minutes until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave in very short intervals, first a minute, than 30 sec. untill meted

Whisk the eggs yolks until thick and lemon colored. On a low speed pour in the sugar syrup until light and the mixture has doubled in volume.

On a low speed add the melted chocolate to the egg mixture. Scrape down and whisk until fully incorporated.

In another bowl whipp the cream until it holds soft peaks. Slowly add the chocolate mixture and the vanilla extract to the cream. Carefully use a wodden spoon to fold the chocolate mixture in to the cream untill uniform.





Pumpkin Mousse

From the epicurius website

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 cups heavy cream

Heat condensed milk in a medium saucepan over medium. Cook, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until slightly darker in color, 10–12 minutes. Stir in pumpkin and salt; continue to cook, stirring often, until mixture bubbles up like polenta, about 4 minutes more. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, pressing on solids with a rubber spatula. Set aside to cool.

Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, whip cream to medium peaks in another large bowl. Transfer one-third of cream to a small bowl, cover, and chill until ready to use. Mix a few spoonfuls of remaining whipped cream into pumpkin mixture to lighten, then fold remaining cream into pumpkin mixture. Transfer to 2-quart dish or divide among 8 glasses. Chill at least 3 hours.


Line a ring with acetate or parchment liner

Place rings on a tray lined with parchment paper.

Start by pipping the chocolate mousse up to half the ring. Move to the refrigerator until it sets.

While you wait make the pumpkin mousse

Once the chocolate mousse is set pipe the pumping mousse up to the rim

Set in the refrigerator, then move to the freezer until you are ready to cover with the chocolate mirror coating.





Chocolate mirror Glaze

This is originally Jacques Torres recipe.

Ingredients:

1/2 water

1 envelope of gelatine

1 cup sugar

1/2 heavy creamy

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1. In a saucepan, combine 1/2 cup water, sugar, heavy cream and cocoa powder. Simmer for about 20 minutes until mixture slightly thickens.

2. Place 1 tablespoon cold water in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over top and let soften 5 minutes. Remove chocolate mixture from the heat and whisk in gelatin mixture until thoroughly combined.

3. Set over an ice bath and whisk until the glaze thickens and reaches about 80 degrees, about 1 minute.




Fall Pumpkin Cake

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Fall is here…. The only thing is that I’m in Miami… So fall is…well, nice weather, with soft air, and less humidity. And it gets a little bit colder and nights. But not much leaves fall from the trees, or boots, sweaters and cute beanies.

But still, its fall and fall is pumpkin. Pumpkin decorations, pumpkin colored everything, and of course, pumpkin cake. And I LOVE pumpkin cake.

I’ve tried so many recipes, and this one is for sure the best. It’s from the book Layered by Tessa Huff. Please check out this book, if you love cake, you’ll love this book.

I filled and frosted this cake with maple syrup buttercream, that it’s only adding half a cup of maple syrup to my basic Italian merengue buttercream recipe. You can also try it with cream cheese buttercream, my daughter’s favorite.

In our YouTube channel, we have a tutorial for beautiful fall cake made with this recipe and decorated with buttercream and gum paste leaves, check it out!

 

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Brown Sugar Pumpkin Cake

From the book Layered by Tessa Huff

 

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon salt

¼ ground cloves

¾ cup plus 2 tablespoon grape seed oil. (I used vegetable oil and it came out lovely)

1 ½ cups firmly packed brown sugar

4 large eggs

2 cups pumpkin puree.

 

Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans and set aside. Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the oil, brown sugar and granulated sugar for about 3 minutes. With the mixer on low, add in the eggs, one at a time.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

With the mixer on low, add in the dry ingredients in two additions, mixing well in between. Just as the last streaks of flour begin to disappear, stop the mixer. Add in the pumpkin and mix until combined.

Evenly distribute the batter between the two pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans. Once cool, carefully slice each cake in half horizontally with a serrated knife to create four even layers.

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Our Signature Amaretto and caramelized almonds wedding cake

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Our signature Cake.


I always say that the time preparing a wedding or any other event is often more fun than the event itself. This is certainly true for the part when you do the cake tastings. Who doesn’t like a plate full of different cake and frosting flavors to combine and taste.

But no matter how many of this tastings I did, and how many flavors I presented, the Amaretto cake with caramelized almonds was always the favorite, always our signature cake.


The cake itself is a white sour cream cake you can use as base for many other flavors, or delicious as it is. The amaretto flavor is infused thru the syrup, and the filling, and of course, the caramelized almonds makes it memorable.


Here is how we put together our signature cake.




Sour cream White Cake:

I found this recipe maybe 10 years ago in www.cakecentral.com and it’s been one of my favorites, specially for wedding cakes.



INGREDIENTS

· 1 box white cake mix

· 1 cup all-purpose flour

· 1 cup granulated sugar

· 1/2 tsp salt

· 4 egg whites

· 1 cup water

· ¼ cup vegetable oil

· 1 cup sour cream

· 2 tsp vanilla extract



INSTRUCTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Butter and flour two 8" cake rounds

3. Combine all dry ingredients and whisk together.

4. Add wet ingredients and mix until combined.

5.I use my KitchenAid on low for 2 minutes but you can also do this by hand.

6.Divide the batter between the pans and bake for approximately 50 minutes.

7.Cool in pans on wire rack for 10mins, then turn cakes out onto wire racks to cool completely.


















Amaretto Italian Merengue Buttercream:

The queen of all buttercreams, and my absolute favorite

Serves: 700g or enough for 24 cupcakes or 1, double tier layer cake

Ingredients

· 2 cups sugar (375g), divided

· ⅔ cup water (150g)

· 5 large egg whites (150g)

· pinch salt

· pinch cream of tartar

· 2 cups butter, cubed (4 sticks or 1 pound), cool but not cold

· 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

· 1 once amaretto liquor, or to taste.

Instructions

1. You want to make sure that you have everything measured out and ready to go. You also want to make sure that your mixing bowl is clean and free of any residual fat.

2. Mix half of the sugar with the water in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir just until the sugar dissolves. When your sugar starts to bubble begin whipping your egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. You can add a pinch of salt and/or cream of tartar for stability if you wish. When your eggs begin to look frothy, slowly begin adding your sugar, whipping constantly on medium-high.

3. Continue whipping your egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Ideally your meringue should reach stiff peaks at the same time that your sugar syrup reaches 235 F. Don’t go anywhere! Sugar will reach the temperature very slow, but then burn very fast. If your egg whites are whipping too fast, reduce the mixer speed to medium. You can also adjust the heat on the sugar syrup to make it cook faster or slower.

4. Turn your mixer up to high and SLOWLY pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl. Be very careful not to hit the whisk.

5. Keep whipping the Italian meringue on high until it forms stiff, turn to slow and keep mixing until the bowl is warm to the touch. If you add the butter to a hot merengue it will melt and you will have soup instead of cream.

6. When the bowl feels just slightly warm, switch to the paddle attachment and begin adding your butter a piece at a time. You need the butter to be at room temperature, I take out mine the night before.

7. Continue to beat the butter in on medium-high until the buttercream is smooth and there are no remaining pieces of butter. Now it’s time to add your flavoring, in this case, our delicious amaretto. Use more or less depending of your taste.

For the Chocolate Variation:

1. When your butter has been completely incorporated, pour your chocolate in all at once and immediately fold it in with a spatula or beat it in with the paddle attachment. You want to make sure that your chocolate is melted but not hot and it is also still warm enough to flow freely in a continuous stream. If your chocolate is too hot, you will melt your butter cream; but if it is too cool, then you will have pieces of chocolate in your frosting.






Caramelizing almonds

½ cup sugar

2 cups slivered almonds

Have a nonstick mat ready next to your pan

In a nonstick medium pan melt the sugar until it reaches a light caramel color. Immediately pour in the almonds and fold to cover with the sugar.

Pour the mixture in the nonstick mat as flat as you can and wait until is completely cold.

Use a food processor to brake it in to coarse pieces the size of peas.










Vlad and Frank. Halloween opens our Youtube Chanel.

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I’ve been doing cakes for so long…and yet every year is a new challenge. The market has changed so much and the way we reach our costumers changes so fast, that once you master Facebook, you are a little bit passé. Now its Instagram, and so on.

But for me, the most attractive and the most fun, has always been YouTube. Our personal individual chance to be a cake star. From all the outlets available to promote talent, none is more complete and fulfilling than video. You can take your time to explain and showcase your ideas in detail to your tribe of cake decorators and sugar enthusiast.

So I finally decided to take the chance. I watched endless hours of video on what the best practices and equipment are. So I jumped into it, first with my IPhone and then little by little adding the right lights, the right microphone, a better camera. Then came how to do voice over, editing, creating content, all in all, a whole new career: YouTube Creator.

So here it is, my first attempt at a video. And what better time to start than in Halloween?

I’ve had this cake idea in my mind ever since I saw a cake with a little unicorn with a big belly full of candy. This is my spooky but funny version of it, because this is how we all feel the morning after Halloween, happy and full of candy.

I’ve added my recipes and templates showacased on the video for everyone to download, I would love to see what you created using this idea, so please send them my way and I’ll post them on my Instagram feed @paolacakeatelier.

Enjoy this fun and easy Halloween cake. You can always use real toys for the figurines and just recreate the cake.

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Our basic recipes

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You can choose to by a cake decorator or a pastry chef. Or you can be both. What’s the difference? Pastry chefs create new cake and fillings and of course plays with as much combinations as possible. But if you are a cake decorator, if your main job is to create artistic cakes putting more emphasis on the outside appearance, probable you will have a couple of high quality delicious recipes you recreate again and again, of course that doesn’t mean that if a client ask for something different you’ll say no. it only means that you have your favorite go to recipes you use again and again because they are always reliable and that allows you to put more of your creativity on the design and execution of your cake.

Here are our staple recipes.

Our Vanilla Cake:

1 box white cake mix, 15.25 oz

1 cup sugar

1 cup all purpose flour

3/4 tsp salt

4 egg whites

1 cup water

1 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon Vanilla.

Preheat the oven to 350º F.

  1. In a large mixing bowl combine the cake mix, sugar, flour, salt, egg whites, and sour cream, beat with an electric mixer until combined, 2-3 minutes.

  2. Spray a 8 inch round pan with non-stick cooking spray. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely before adding frosting.


Chocolate cake

· ¾ cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder

· 1¼ cups hot water

· ⅔ cup sour cream

· 2⅔ cups all-purpose flour

· 2 teaspoons baking powder

· 1 teaspoon baking soda

· ½ teaspoon salt

· ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened

· ½ cup vegetable shortening

· 1½ cup granulated sugar

· 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

· 3 large eggs, at room temperature

· 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract



1. Preheat oven to 325°F.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the cocoa powder, hot water, and sour cream and set aside to cool.

3. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a medium bowl and set aside.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening on medium speed until ribbon like, about 5 minutes. Add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the vanilla and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and mix again for 30 seconds.

5. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the cocoa mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

6. Fill 8” pan about ½ full and bake 22-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 30 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool.




American Buttercream
Ingredients

1.    1-pound unsalted butter, at room temperature.

2.    2 pound confectioners' sugar

3.    Pinch fine salt.

4.    2 teaspoons vanilla

Cream the Butter and start adding the buttercream very slowly until it’s all incorporated. Add flavor and color





Pound Cake -ideal for carving

1 pound. Unsalted butter

1 pound. powdered sugar

8 large eggs divided

1 pound self-rising flour, sifted

zest of two lemons

2 tablespoons Vanilla

½ cup milk

 

Preheat oven at 350 F Grease 3 - 8” pans

Cream butter and lemon zest

Add powdered sugar until combined and mixture looks very pale

Add egg yolks and vanilla

alternate flour and milk until incorporated

in another pan, whip egg whites until the mixture is firm.

Fold egg whites in to cake mixture

divide between pans

bake for 1 hour





 

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Yield: Makes enough buttercream to cover a standard 2 layer 8" round cake

Ingredients

·       600g | 1.5lb unsalted butter, softened

·       280g | 10oz egg whites (8 large)

·       500g | 1.1lb granulated sugar

·       1 tsp pure vanilla extrac

Instructions

1.     Add the egg whites and sugar to the bowl of your stand mixer and mix delicately with a whisk until well combined.

2.     Place that bowl over a bath of simmering water and stir delicately with a whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is slightly warm and frothy. Be careful not to let the water boil, you don't want the egg whites to get too hot. The goal is not to cook them but simply to get them warm enough for the sugar to melt. Also, make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula from time to time, to make certain that no crystals of sugar get left behind.

3.     Set the bowl on the stand mixer equipped with the whisk attachment and beat the egg whites on high speed until they get super light and fluffy and have cooled down to room temperature, about 10 to 12 minutes.

4.     Lower the speed to medium and, with the motor still running, add the butter to the meringue, about a quarter of a cup at a time, allowing it to fully incorporate between each addition. Once all the butter has been added, add the vanilla extract and then crank up the speed to high and let the buttercream fluff up and "tighten" for about 2 minutes.

 

·  Your buttercream is now ready to use. Use it a room temperature. It will get very hard on the fridge.

 



Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients

· 24 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips

· 2 cups heavy cream

· 2 tablespoons Honey

Step 1

Put the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. In a medium saucepan, bring the cream just to a boil over low heat. Pour the cream over the chocolate, cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk the ganache gently until silky and smooth.

Step 2

To make the filling, transfer 1 1/2 cups of the ganache to a medium bowl. Set the bowl over ice and whisk the ganache gently until thick and spreadable.

Honey Cake. Rosh Hashana it's here.

Let’s start at the beggining, at New year’s.

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In Jewish tradition, Rosh Hashanah marks the start of a new year. This start has a very distinctive scent: the perfume of honey and spices. This enveloping aroma comes from a kitchen where the traditional honey cake, the Lekach, is baking. The delicious smell emmited from the mix of the ingredients makes the baking process an absolute joy. Once your cake is in the oven, the mixture of cinnamon, orange, coffee, spices, and honey will douse your house with the sweet scent of tradition and family.

We made many loafs of these honey cakes at the bakery, which were sold out before they were finished. This is due to the customary jewish tradition of gifting them at the end of the Rosh Hashanah dinner. We baked A LOT of them, made sure they were decorated with beautiful ribbons for packaging, and reconnected with clients that come every year to make sure that everybody on their list gets a loaf.

The big secret of our Honey Lekach? Mix the batter and let sit all night in the cooler. Let all of those different flavors melt together and soften the batter, and the next day, let it come to room temperature before baking.

Add the honey syrup right after they come out of the oven. When cakes are hot they absorb the moisture better.

The following is my recipe for a delicious Honey Lekach cake:

Yields: one loaf. You can easily double this recipe if you are making more than one loaf

 

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom or nutmeg, optional

  • 3 large eggs

  • ½ cup (100g) Brown sugar

  • 1 cup honey

  • 1 cup (80 ml) vegetable oil

  • 4 teaspoon instand coffee

  • ½ cup orange juice

  • ¼ cup (25g) sliced almonds.

 

For the syrup

  • ½ cup honey

  • 1 cup water

  • ¼ cup honey liquor

Instructions

1.     Preheat oven to 350°F/170°C. Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan. We used paper loaf molds for giving way as gifts.

2.     In a large bowl, sift together all dry ingredients, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom/nutmeg. Set aside.

3.     Combine liquids together (orange juice and oil), add the coffee.

4.     In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together eggs, brown sugar, and honey on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Turn off mixer. Beat in the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the liquids in 2 additions, starting and ending with the flour. Do not over mix.

5.     To prepare the syrup, boil the honey and water together. When boiling, take out of the heat and add the liquor.

6.     Cover the batter and place in the cooler overnight (optional). The next day, take the batter out and bring to room temperature. Pour the batter into a prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle with nuts. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. If the top is browning too fast while baking, cover pan loosely with aluminum foil. Immediately coming out of the oven, pour the syrup on top until absorbed. Allow cake to cool for 10 minutes, remove from pan and set on a wire rack to cool completely. If using paper molds. Wait until completely cooled before wrapping.

7.     Store cake in an airtight container or aluminium foil at room temperature for up to a week. Serve at room temperature.