London Fog Ombre Cake

Anyone that knows me knows I don’t do coffee. I non-jokingly become a bit of a psychopath. Shaky hands, clammy palms, crashing hard…it’s a sad sight.

London Fogs on the other hand get thrown back all the time. Earl grey, steamed milk, and vanilla make the perfect combo. If I could hook up an IV filled with it, I probably would. That and matcha.

Toss all of that into a cake, dye it purple, and you have a crowd pleaser.

For the icing, I got the idea to infuse the icing with earl grey from The Cake Blog. I made this cake twice (forgot my camera the first time, cake for everyone!) but the second time I used about 4-5 tea bags and sealed them in a single one. It takes away the step of having to strain out any loose leaf pieces.

There are a few specialized tools that helped me out in the process. Firstly, this was my first time making a layer cake and I was terrified. I used Wilton’s layer pans, along with their cake leveler* and trim n’ turn cake decorator, and it made life much easier. I also used a candy thermometer, make-shift double boiler and stand mixer. Not all of these things are necessities, but it makes like a thousand times easier and smooths over the process, especially for a beginner like myself.

This icing is one of the best I’ve ever had — it’s not overly sweet in comparison to many other recipes/store-bought goods and it tastes phenomenal. Being the earl grey fiend that I am, I’ve tried London Fog macarons and gelato before, but never in cake.

Take a look through the recipe before starting. Ask questions @RonnieSheppard if you want to know anything or see any more photos from the process. Prepare yourself to wash some dishes and load up on too much buttercream!

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*If you made a funny face at what “cake leveler” means, it’s a tool that ensures an even thickness and cut of each layer of cake instead of using a bread knife or floss.

INGREDIENTS

For the cake:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 whole eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Red and blue food colouring

For the infused icing:

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3-4 strong Earl Grey tea bags
  • An empty loose leaf tea steeper
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons clear vanilla extract
  • Red and blue food colouring

For the salted caramel:

  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, diced
  • ¾ tsp. sea salt, or to taste
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

METHOD

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For the cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease your 5 6-inch cake pans and set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour, salt, and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in milk.

Divide the cake evenly between the 5 cake pans until the pans are almost full. Set one pan aside. With your food colouring, put one drop of red and one drop of blue in the first pan and stir to combine with a silicone tool. In the second pan, two drops of each, third has three drops, fourth has five drops. Dip a spatula in the lightest coloured cake batter and stir into the plain one, tinting is slightly and subtly.

Bake between 10-15 minutes until cooked and cake is springy. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and set on a clean, dry work surface. Using a cake leveler, even out the tops of each cake; discard scraps.

For the infused icing:

Place 1 cup of the butter in a saucepan with 4-5 tea bags tied into a loose leaf satchel. Heat over medium heat until the butter melts, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 additional minutes. Remove the tea and refrigerate it until has reached the same consistency as softened butter, about 20 minutes.

Place the egg whites and sugar in a heat-safe bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk them together by hand to combine. Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and place it over medium-high heat to create a double boiler. Place the mixer bowl on top — the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water. Whisking frequently, heat the egg mixture until it registers about 155-160 degrees on a candy thermometer. Wearing oven mitts, fit the mixer bowl onto the stand mixer.

With the whisk attachment, beat the egg white mixture on high speed for 8 to 10 minutes, until it holds medium-stiff peaks. When done, the outside of the mixer bowl should return to room temperature and no residual heat should be escaping from the meringue out of the top of the bowl. Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk attachment for the paddle.

With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, tea-infused butter, and 1 cup regular butter, a couple tablespoons at a time. Once incorporated, turn the mixer to medium-high and beat until buttercream is silky smooth, about 5 minutes.

Split the icing into four bowls and dye accordingly: leave one white, dye one dark, one medium, and one light.

For the salted caramel:

Place the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir to combine.

Heat over high heat, occasionally swirling the pan, until it turns a medium golden amber color (about 8 to 10 minutes). The sugar mixture will begin to rapidly boil before slowing down and darkening in color. Remove the saucepan from the heat once the correct colour is reached and the bubbles start to subside (the darker the colour, the deeper the caramel flavour).

Whisk in the cream — careful of the mixture spitting up hot bits.

Add the butter and continue to stir until melted. Add the salt and vanilla and stir to combine. Pour the caramel into a heat-safe container and let it cool until it reaches your desired consistency or refrigerate until use. It will thicken as it cools.

Assembly:

Place the bottom layer of cake on a Wilton Trim ‘n Turn rotating cake stand. Spread 1/2 cup of the white buttercream on the surface with a spatula; top with next layer of cake and repeat until all cake layers are stacked and iced. Ice a thin layer of buttercream around the exterior of the cake as a crumb coat, and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Remove the cake from the fridge. Place large dollop of the darkest icing on the bottom of the cake, followed by medium in the centre, and light on top. Smooth out around the cake, rotating the stand, to create an ombre look. Replenish as needed until the entire cake is covered.

Pour caramel sauce over the slightly chilled cake, letting it drip over the edges. Save some extra sauce for people to drizzle over their pieces as desired, or just for you to eat ice cream while watching Netflix exhausted from all the cake-making.

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This post is in partnership with Wilton

Avocado Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Everyone who cooks with avocado understands the plight of trying to guess the perfect ripeness. You can buy them at almost-perfection and hope for the best, or go from green and wait for the day when they feel just right. More often than not, I overshoot and wait too long, leaving me with a bowlful of just-past-prime avocados that need eating ASAP.

Naturally as someone who consumes way too many cookies, whenever something needs to get used up, I get baking right away. This time, I subbed out all butter in a pretty standard chocolate chip cookie recipe with avocado. If you’re going for vegan cookies, you can use your favourite no-dairy brand of semi-sweet chocolate chips.

I tried two versions: one rolled in sugar before baking, and one without. I do not recommend rolling these in sugar, as they get super sticky (and not in that nice gooey cookie kind of way).

As noted below, these are best enjoyed in the first day or two of making them. I didn’t experiment with freezing, but I’m not sure they would fare well due to the avocado’s potential to go brown or go off.

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Sidenote: For people who read regularly, I haven’t posted since late March (oops), so you can expect more regular posts to come back.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup avocado, mashed
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Method

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a medium-sized bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl, mash together the avocado, sugar, and honey. Mix in eggs and vanilla until well combined.

Stir the dry mix into the avocado mixture until a sticky dough is formed. Fold in the chocolate chips (don’t be shy). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and create 1-inch balls — this will create about 24 cookies total.

Bake for 8 – 10 minutes until just done – you don’t want them to be too golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes on a cooling rack. Enjoy!*

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*These are best enjoyed in the first two days of baking, but will stay good for up to 4 days.

Fruit Loop Donuts

Cereal as a decoration on desserts is pretty great.

I got mixed reactions on these ones since they’re a little off the beat and path, but I like them. These are best made day-of to ensure the freshness and crunchiness of your cereal (“fresh” being a relative term here), but they still tasted good the next day. I was transporting these on public transit and ended up using large seal-tight bags to carry them…I didn’t look stylish. But they got from point A to point B in one piece, so that’s all I need to worry about.

I experimented with different icing colours, and tried a few with just sprinkles instead. I found for cereal, I needed to make my glaze almost icing-thick to get it to stick without falling off. You really have to let them dry too so they don’t smudge/fall apart, which means keeping a wooden spoon handy for people who want to compromise wait time.

The donuts themselves are super easy—no yeast is involved but they still retain a bit of bounce. The only piece of special equipment you may need for this recipe is a frying thermometer because it really helps maintain your oil levels and heat; if you don’t have one, just be sure that your oil is at deep frying temperature before dropping your dough in. You can always test this by dropping in the holes on the donuts to see how they react. Make sure to lift out with a slotted spoon to avoid dripping hot oil everywhere!

PS – This post isn’t sponsored, I just think Fruit Loops are fun.

Fruit Loop Donuts

 

Ingredients

  • 3/8 cup milk with 2 tsp. white vinegar added (OR buttermilk, vinegar omitted)
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sifted pastry flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 quart oil for deep frying
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tbsp. milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Method

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth and creamy. Beat in the egg and vanilla and continue stirring until well combined. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the mixture alternating with the milk/vinegar mix to form a moist but firm dough. It shouldn’t be too sticky to the touch otherwise you won’t be able to roll it out.

Roll out half of your dough to a 1/2 inch thickness. Using a wide-mouthed drinking glass, cut the dough into as many circles as you can; to make your life easier, you should lightly flour the glass to avoid sticking. Then, cut out the middle of your soon-to-be donut with the large end of an icing tip. Repeat with remaining dough, re-rolling your scraps until it is all cut into donuts. Let donuts stand while your oil heats.

Fruit Loop Donuts

In the meantime, heat your oil using a deep frying thermometer until it hits the “deep fry” appropriate heat—around 370 degrees F. Place 5-6 donuts in pan at a time, frying and turning once until each side is golden brown and the donut is cooked all the way through.

Fruit Loop Donuts

Lift out with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Cool entirely and make your glaze!

For the glaze, mix together the confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla in a bowl. Ta-da! Add any desired food colouring and dip your donuts halfway to get a nice glaze. It should be thick enough to hold on some cereal. Generously sprinkle Fruit Loops on top and serve immediately!

Creamy Chickpea Salad

For anyone who lives in Toronto, you know this winter has been insanely mild. While it’s a bit odd walking around in flats in early March, it also means that I get to bust out all of my warm weather recipes a little bit early this year. Yes, I know it snows in April every year. I’m going to pretend like it doesn’t and move on.

I adapted this recipe from Oh She Glows, and could make it again any day. This is a super easy salad that can be tossed into a sammie or wrap when heading out the door (bring a napkin, just in case) and it’s easily adaptable to what you have in your cupboards and fridge. This recipe was originally made vegan, but since I eat eggs I opted for regular mayo. Another key difference between our recipes is that she smashed her chickpeas at the beginning, and I left mine whole. I think next time I would try smashing them to see the difference in texture, but leaving them whole if you’re in more of a rush.

This is definitely more of a summer-leaning salad, but I made it in mid-February in Canada and it got devoured on the spot. I like to let any dressing with garlic sit so that the flavours can really develop, so once you’re done throwing everything together leave it for about half an hour—it will make it next-level. Ever had day-old soup and think it tastes better than the first day? That’s why.

The Vegetarian Ginger

Sidenote: When I say lemon juice, I will never mean that weird stuff that comes in a plastic lemon that you squeeze out. I mean lemon juice.

Ingredients

  • 1 (15 oz) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced and quartered
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup cooked corn kernels
  • 3 tbsp. red onion, minced
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 dill pickle, minced
  • 3 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. tahini
  • 1 tsp. yellow mustard
  • 1 tsp. hot mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. pickle juice
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • Handful of fresh dill, chopped
  • 3 tsp. lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • A liberal sprinkle of salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin

Method

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients from chickpeas down to dill pickle. Season the mix lightly with salt.

Next, add in everything from mayo to cumin, then stir until all of the sauces and spices are well mixed. Place your salad in a neutral spot in the kitchen and cover with a tea towel for 30 minutes.

Serve immediately or save in the fridge for a few days. I loved eating this in wrap form, but it’s also filling on its own.

The Vegetarian Ginger

Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are a newfound glory in my life. Neither of my parents will eat them because they grew up hating them so much, so I’d never really tried them until a year ago when I tried roasting the individual petals and burnt them all (not a great introduction, but it was my fault, not the vegetable’s fault). When I saw them at St. Lawrence market a few weeks ago, I was bent on trying them again—roast anything tossed in balsamic and it will taste amazing. Right?

This has become a go-to weekend snack for my boyfriend and I. We toss these in the oven while we do chores or watch TV, then just put them in the middle of a table with a spoon and go to town. Last time, we made a savoury chipotle dipping sauce to go with it which was a nice smoky touch. It’s not necessary but it was definitely a good complement.

Besides the fact that these are a great snack/side dish/warm salad, they’re also really good for you. They’re equipped with potassium, vitamin C, B-6, and carry a decent amount of iron and protein as well.

The Vegetarian Ginger

 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh brussels sprouts, rinsed
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • Generous sprinkling of salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • Dash of cayenne (optional)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Method

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Rid your brussels sprouts of any yellowing leaves and trim the bottoms. Then cut your sprout top-to-bottom to half them. You may have a few extra petals from the sprouts floating around; that’s fine, just toss them in with the rest of your halves and roast them.

In a small bowl, mix together oil, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and minced garlic. Stir together until well combined and pour over the brussels sprouts halves, tossing to coat everything. Lay out coated vegetables on an ungreased cookie sheet, and bake for around 20-25 minutes, occasionally stirring to avoid burning. Once done, the sprouts should be easily piercable with a knife and tender when bitten into. There shouldn’t be crunch.

Toss roasted brussels sprouts in balsamic and serve immediately alongside a smoky chipotle dipping sauce, or on their own as a salad or side dish. I would tell you how long they last in the fridge, but they’ve never made it that far.

The Vegetarian Ginger

The Vegetarian Ginger

How To Make Foolproof Vegetarian Quiche

Quiche is one of the ultimate brunch foods. It’s pretty healthy. There’s no shortage of fat (cream and cheese) and I wasn’t very light handed with the salt on this one either. That being said, each slice is packed full of protein and nutrients from the kale, mushrooms and other veg, so I’ll take it. It’s also great if you’re lazy and frugal, which I happen to be a lot of the time.

This quiche takes an hour, right on the dot. Throw in whatever veggies you want, cook them down on the stove for a few minutes, and stick it in the oven. I was doing a fridge clean-out and had some on-the-edge-of-being-bad kale, cream, eggs, onions that had grown tentacles, and a few other mismatched items. I can say in entire honesty that this is one of the best things I have ever cooked in my life. I KNOW it’s a little cheap to use pre-made pie crust, but if you want something quick, easy and guaranteed to turn out, this is your best bet.

I made one of these on the weekend and it was tough to keep leftovers around for lunch, but it makes a great quick-and-easy lunch that you can eat warm or cold and fills you up.

I wanted to base my recipe from a highly-rated source, but most other recipes I saw used way more cheese, meat, veggies I didn’t have, etc. The only thing I would suggest sticking to are ratios and cooking times.

Sidenote: I used whipping cream which is super heavy, but it turned out really, really well. If you want to get a bit heart-healthier, opt for a lighter version and cut out some of the cheese.

Foolproof Vegetarian Quiche

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 head garlic, minced
  • 1 cup white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh kale, chopped
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground thyme
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 5 ounces of grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 slice of provolone, cut into the shape of your choice
  • 1 pre-made pie crust shell in a tin

Method

Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add in yellow and red onion, garlic, and mushrooms. Stir in kale. Turn up the heat a notch and pour in the white wine. Add in the cherry tomatoes, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper, then lower the heat down again and let the veggies simmer for 5 minutes until most of the liquids have evaporated.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and remove the pie shell from the freezer. Beat eggs, cream, nutmeg, thyme, salt and pepper together until light and fluffy. Stir in mozzarella, parmesan, and vegetable mixture. Pour the egg mixture into your pie crust—I used a ladle to make sure I didn’t get any spill-over. Fill up your pie shell as much as it will fit, place your provolone slice in the centre, and pop it in the oven. Bake for 40 minutes until the top is lightly golden and bubbly, and a knife can be inserted and pulled out clean. Let rest for 5 minutes, cut into even slices, and serve.

This quiche re-heats amazingly, so you can make it ahead and take it for lunch, or make it the day before a big brunch.

Foolproof Vegetarian Quiche

Foolproof Vegetarian Quiche

Easy Vegan Udon Soup with Ginger Miso Broth

Copycat recipe time!

Thug Kitchen has provided me with hours of entertainment and some great meals, and they didn’t let me down on this one. Full disclosure, my boyfriend did most of the cooking on this one, and for once I was the one helping with prep.

Sometimes it’s best to get back to basics. I moved a few months ago, and I’ve found that getting used to my new kitchen has been tougher than expected. There’s always something missing, or there’s (literally) a fire starting somewhere. I tried baking cookies the other night and they were a few points below par, even to my roommates standards. And they’ll eat anything.

I really enjoyed this soup—I’m a big fan of broth-y clear soups, plus with flu season in full gear, a couple of vegetables don’t hurt. It’s really easy to eat bland, not-great-for-you food for lunches/dinners in the winter when you’re working full time and the day gets away from you. I would say you can do the make-ahead for this a day in advance, but with prep it honestly takes 45 minutes start to finish, which is pretty good.

vegetarian udon ginger miso soup

Ingredients

Makes 2 large portions or 4 smaller portions

Broth:

  • 4 inches fresh ginger, loosely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, halved
  • 1 carrot, cut into loose chunks
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 10 sprigs fresh cilantro

Noodles and Veggies

  • 1 (8oz) wet-sealed package of udon noodles
  • Splash of soy sauce
  • 1 1/4 cups broccoli, but into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 1/2 tsp. miso paste
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1 cup snow peas, cut into matchsticks
  • 1/3 cup green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup bean sprouts

Method

To make the broth, place ginger and carrot in a medium pot over medium heat (don’t add oil). Once those have cooked for 2-3 minutes, add the garlic. Allow to cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute, then add the broth and cilantro. Simmer for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, cook the noodles according to package directions. Mine said to cook them in lightly salted boiling water for 30 seconds.

When 15 minutes has massed, pull out all the ginger, garlic, carrot, and cilantro with a slotted spoon.  Add the soy sauce and broccoli, and simmer for another 1-2 minutes.  Turn off the heat.  Scoop out 1/2 cup of broth and dissolve the miso paste in it, stirring until the chunks are gone.  Pour that back in to the pot. The heat should stay off from this point onwards. Overheating the miso paste will kill all of its probiotic elements.

To assemble to soup, take a handful of noodles and place them at the bottom of a bowl.  Add a handful of the carrots, snow peas, and green onion.  Ladle the hot broth and broccoli over top and allow to rest for a minute so the flavours have a chance to blend.  Top with more green onion, bean sprouts and cilantro if desired, and add in any condiments you may be craving (sesame oil or Sriracha, anyone?).

vegetarian udon ginger miso soup

That’s it! Super easy and delicious, healthy soup with cheap ingredients ready to go. For an even easier time, cut everything up in advance (only a day or so beforehand, to keep it fresh) and have the broth ready for when you get home.

vegetarian udon ginger miso soup