Posts Tagged 'birthday'

When It Comes To Bananas, You Can’t Slime Me – Banoffee Pie

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Simple, quick and a total crowd-pleaser, this dessert is nouveau-British classic. I had it once during my time there, and it was enough to convert me from “I-never-eat-raw-bananas” to “I-always-eat-raw-bananas-when-they-are-covered-in-whipped-cream-and-caramel.”

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Even though the technique is easy, the pie takes a little time to prepare, as you have to let the caramel chill to set before it can be served. I thought that maybe I didn’t cook my caramel long enough (it didn’t get as brown as I thought it should), but it tasted right enough.

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Make sure your layer the bananas and whipped cream just prior to serving (or I did mine an hour before). If you cover the bananas completely with the cream, you shouldn’t have any issues with them turning brown, but I am really sensitive to slime, so I wasn’t taking any chances.

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The amount of rave that these received was enough to shut down the review forum. Guys, these got rave reviews. Try it, you’ll like it.

On this Random Tuesday, I have conquered bananas. YOU CAN’T SLIME ME. Celebration is in order.


Banoffee Pie

Adapted from Carnation and Saveur

1 box graham crackers, finely ground

2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter, divided

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup brown sugar

3-4 bananas

2 cups (1 pint) heavy whipping cream, cold

chocolate (optional)

Place graham cracker crumbs in a bowl. Melt one stick of butter, then add to the crumbs, stirring until incorporated. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Chill.

Melt the remaining butter in a small saucepan. Stir in the brown sugar and melt over low heat. Add the condensed milk, and bring the mixture to a boil for a few minutes, stirring continuously. The toffee should darken slightly. Pour the filling into the crust. Chill again for at least one hour until the caramel is firm.

Before serving, slice up the bananas and place in a single layer over the toffee. Whip the heavy whipping cream in the bowl of a stand mixer until soft peaks form. Spread this over the banana layer. Garnish with chocolate shavings.

Best served the day it is made.

Pipe Dream #203: To Make A Few Of Your Favorite Things – Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake with Hot Chocolate Whipped Cream

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I can always tell if my sister is due home because several things will appear in the pantry:


Tortilla chips

Feta cheese

Spicy salsa


Swiss Miss

That’s, like, basically all she eats, so it is incredible to me that she has the mind of a spelling bee ninja and the body of an agile panther. I always try and make something she would like when she comes home, but she usually just tells me to make what I want. So I either make what I want or I make her what I already know she likes: cheesecake and chocolate chip cookies.

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This was my first time making a “New York-style” cheesecake. Is it supposed to be so brown? I think so, and the consistency was correct, but I still wanted it to be prettier, so I slathered on some hot chocolate whipped cream. This cheesecake would probably be pretty baller on its own, maybe with some fresh berries and chocolate sauce. If I did this again, I would double the amount of hot chocolate in the whipped cream. Nice thought, but the flavor got lost a little bit.

This was also my first time making eggless chocolate chip cookie dough, which is supposed to be cookie dough for people who would just shovel spoonfuls of the raw stuff into their gullet rather than baking cookies. It involves sweetened condensed milk, and personally, I thought this dough was lacking in flavor. I would rather make the regular stuff and take my chances with Salmonella.

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The batch made a lot, so I had extra dough balls with which to decorate the top of the cheesecake. I had grand plans to make a massive pile of dough in the middle of the cake, but my mom, in an effort to show hospitality to some wayfarer, snicked my dough from the freezer and tried to bake cookies. Because they have no egg or leavener, they turned out flat and hard as rocks, which should just be a lesson to anyone who steals cookie dough. Who is having the last laugh now, Mum? And as for your poor wayfarer, come back another time, and I’ll make you something decent.
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I’m sorry. I can’t stop with the pics. It’s so pretty.
cc cheesecake 4Happy B Day, Miss Thang.


Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake with Hot Chocolate Whipped Cream
For the crust:

⅔ package of Oreos, crushed into fine crumbs
4 tablespoons butter, melted

For the cheesecake filling:

2 pounds (32 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
1½ cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
heaping 1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla
6 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks

For the cookie dough:

½ cup butter
¾ cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup chocolate chips (Mini chips are preferable, but I just chopped up some regular ones)

Prepare the cookie dough: Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl, then beat in the vanilla. Add in the flour, stirring until completely incorporated. Beat in the sweetened condensed milk, then the chocolate chips. Scoop into 1 inch balls and place on a baking sheet in a single layer. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes or until completely frozen.
Prepare the crust: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Mix together the cookie crumbs and the butter. Press into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool completely.
Prepare the cheesecake: Increase the oven heat to 500 degrees F. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on low until broken up, about 1 minute. Scrape the sides, and add ¾ cup of sugar and the salt. Mix over low for about a minute until well combined, then beat in the remaining ¾ cup of sugar.
Scrape the sides, add sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla. Mix on low for 1 minute. Mix in egg yolks until thoroughly combined. Add the whole eggs, two at a time, beating for about 1 minute after each addition. Stir in about ½ of the frozen cookie dough balls, until evenly distributed.
Placing the springform pan on a baking sheet, pour the filling into the crust.
Bake for 10 minutes. Without opening the oven door, reduce the temperature to 200 degrees. Bake for about 90 minutes, or until the center of the cheesecake is 150 degrees. If you find that the top of the cake is looking too brown, cover it with a piece of aluminum foil.
Let cool for 5 minutes. Then run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake to loosen the sides so that it doesn’t crack as it is cooling. Let cool for another two hours, then wrap the pan in plastic and refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours. You can also freeze the cheesecake at this point, but make sure it is well-wrapped.
To remove, wrap a warm kitchen towel around the pan, and let set for 1 minute before gently removing the sides.

For the hot chocolate whipped cream:

1/2 cup hot chocolate mix

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Whip the cream with the hot chocolate mix until medium-stiff peaks form. Spread on the cooled cheesecake as desired.

To serve, garnish with more whipped cream and reserved cookie dough balls.




Pipe Dream #200: To Not Bust the Seams – Blueberry Bourbon Bread Pudding (and Fogo de Chao)

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My family took me out for dinner this year for my birthday. It was kind of a deal because a) everyone was home, b) it was a birthday and c) we were going to Fogo de Chao, a schwank Brazilian steakhouse buffet.
Now, my family doesn’t go out to eat all that often, especially to super nice places.
If we do, it’s mostly hole-in-the-wall foreign food adventures or this scenario: “Hey, wanna meet me at DQ? My body will die if I do not get an Oreo Brownie Earthquake in ten minutes.”
Or even this one: “It was Friday night, and I was alone and feeling sorry for myself, so I ordered Hot Wok. I saved you a single bite of the curried beef.”
Eating out is a rare and special occasion that is only indulged every so often, and never at impeccably-serviced, four-star, romantically-lit, all-out establishments. Hence, it was kind of a deal, and mid-way through the meal, I was kind of nervous.
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Why were you so nervous, Lauren? You don’t normally get freaked out by food. What could possibly be so scary about eating a celebration meal with your family?
I will tell you the answer, but first, let me just tell you how Fogo de Chao works so that you can better understand me.
The meal begins with these cheesy puffs of dough, kind of like a Brazilian popover. These are replaced frequently throughout the meal, an endless supply of fresh-baked biscuit-y goodness.
The buns are followed by an introduction to the salad bar, which was pretty much a massive charcuterie selection, followed by pasta salads, bright, roasted vegetables and of course, 15 different types lettuce, dressings and more bread. The team-style (read: omniscient) wait staff advised us to “go light” on the salad bar. This was nearly impossible to me, as it was basically everything that is my favorite.
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Following the salad bar, we received several side dishes to be eaten along with the main course. There were caramelized plantains, fried polenta and garlic mashed potatoes. Along with this, a little circular card was delivered, one side red, one side green.
After you plow through your “salad,” the real decadence begins. As soon as you flip your card from stop to go, the table is swarmed with smiling gauchos hawking 17 (repeat, 17) different types of prepared meats. I was so overwhelmed and distracted by the flurry of activity the first time this occurred that my plate was next to bursting with bacon-wrapped filet mignon, chicken legs and beef ancho before I hastily flipped my card.
And as soon as I did, they were gone. Poof! And we were left to muse through a plate of medium-rare protein and rarer conversation. Same song, second verse. Same song third verse.
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So I was not nervous about being in a schmancy restaurant (the waiter told us the gauchos kept asking when they could go back to the “princess table”) or even about eating too much (the night was clearly a write-off). I was actually nervous that my dress was going to bust. It was all fine and well while I was seated; I don’t think I realized how full I was. But upon standing, I teetered about nervously in my 4-inch stilettos, trying not to move my arms, lest the seams on my vintage cocktail dress give way to a dangerously full midsection. A girl’s gotta watch those vintage seams. They’re del-ic-ate.
Somehow we all made it to the car, and groaned/giggled the entire way home to try and express our mixed rapture and internal discomfort. Given the final bill, it is likely my family will never go out to eat again in this century, but oh heavens, it was fun.
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The point of this whole story is that the next day, I came home and made this bread pudding, which is an extremely indulgent breakfast for dinner. Crusty artisan bread in a pool of custard, dotted with blueberries and laced with a rich, bourbon cream sauce…could dinner really get any better? And I barely even cared because I was wearing sweats and an old t shirt. Laaaaaaze.

Feel free to make this ahead of time if you wish. Assemble the skillet, let rest in the fridge overnight, then bake in the morning for a wonderfully boozy brunch addition.

P.s. This is an appropriate recipe for my 200th pipe dream! That’s pretty crazy to me. Think of all the weird dreams I haven’t shared with you! Ha. Girl’s got a lot of dreams.

Eat well, my dears,
Bread pudding elsewhere:
Blueberry Bourbon Bread Pudding
Inspired by Pink Patisserie
8 ounces crusty French bread, sliced in 1/2″ slices
heaping 1/3 cup blueberries
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2/3 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Butter one side of each bread slice. Place the butter side down in a 9″ cast iron skillet. Whisk together the sugar, eggs, cream, milk, whiskey and vanilla in a medium bowl.  Sprinkle the blueberries and nutmeg over the top of the bread slices, then and pour the custard mixture over the bread.
Press the bread into the custard mixture so that it soaks up as much of the custard as possible. Cover with foil, and let rest in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes until the pudding is golden brown on top and the bread has absorbed the liquid. If you find the pudding starts to brown too much, cover with foil for the remainder of the baking time. Let rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with a generous swath of bourbon sauce (below).
Bourbon Sauce
Adapted from Pink Patisserie
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup milk
scant 1/4 cup sugar
scant 1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup bourbon, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter

Whisk the cream, milk and sugar together in a medium saucepan.  Combine the cornstarch and 1/4 cup of the whiskey in a small bowl, and whisk until the cornstarch is dissolved. Add this to the milk mixture in the saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking continually until the sauce begins to thicken, about five minutes.  Remove from heat and add the remaining 1/4 cup whiskey, the salt and the butter.  Serve hot over the pudding.

Pipe Dream #145: To Use Any Excuse – Apple Crisp Cake

Wades, what kind of cake do you want for your birthday this year?”

“I don’t care, something apple-y cinnamon-y fall. Like apple crisp.”

“So you want apple crisp for your birthday cake this year?”

“Yeah, that sounds really good.”

“No. Please let me make you a birthday cake. I want to make a cake.”

“Lauren, just do what you want.”

“Ok, it’s your birthday. Let’s compromise.”

“Get out of my room.”

And so I made this cake. I started with a vanilla cake recipe and doctored it up a bit with apples (duh), cinnamon, and a brown sugar streusel topping (which, by the way, felt really sugary–you should reduce the sugar a bit when you make this). I also decided to invite some cinnamon cream cheese frosting to the party. It just felt rich and right.

IT. WAS. SO. GOOD. It was like apple crisp in a cake, which made for a happy ending to our little domestic tiff-that-wasn’t-really. We ended up eating it kind of warm-ish. Which was the best way. Good thing I didn’t take this cake out, because the frosting was so melty that they layers would have slid right off.

I just.

Go make this.


Maddie’s Apple Cake

by me

For the cake:

3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon plus 1 scant tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) butter, softened

1 1/4 cups plus 1/3 cup buttermilk

5 whole eggs

2 egg yolks

2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 large apples, peeled, 1/2 diced, 1/2 grated

For the streusel topping:

1 cup flour

1 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 stick butter

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (pecans are cool too)

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter two 6-inch round cake pans and two 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large mixer bowl. With the mixer on low speed, blend for 30 seconds. Add the butter and 1 1/4 cup of the buttermilk. Mix on low speed briefly to blend; then raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, and the remaining 1/3 cup buttermilk. Pour one-third of the egg mixture into the cake batter at a time, folding it in completely after each addition, and then fold in the diced and grated apples. Divide the batter into the pans (I just eyeballed the amounts), and smooth the batter.

To make up the streusel topping, mix together the flour, sugar and cinnamon. Mash in the butter with a fork until the mixture is crumbly, then stir in the walnuts. Sprinkle evenly over the four cake pans, and lightly swirl it in a bit with a toothpick.

Bake for 15 minutes and then check the layers. Cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Because the layers are different sizes, however, the 6-inch rounds will probably be done earlier than the 8-inch rounds. Or whatever size you choose to use.

Turn the layers out onto wire racks by placing a rack on top of a pan, inverting it, and lifting off the pan. Peel off the paper liners and let cool completely. Invert onto a cardboard round or cake plate, and fill layers with cream cheese icing (see recipe below).

For the cream cheese icing:

8 ounces cream cheese

1 stick (1/2 cup, 113 g) butter

4 cups powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Place butter and cream cheese into mixer bowl. Cream 1 minute on medium-high speed until fluffy. Add confectioner’s sugar 1 c. at a time, mixing on medium speed, scraping down bowl between additions. Add vanilla and cinnamon, then beat on high speed 1-2 minutes until light and fluffy.

Pipe Dream #103: To Sparkle – Flower Fondant Cake

At school I had this beautiful German roommate. Obviously, all Germans are beautiful, but Franzi is especially so. She has the most beautiful long red hair and musical ability to make you swoon. So clearly, when her birthday came round, I felt she deserved something extra special.

Coincidentally, the kitchen staff was making the tiniest mini cake that day with some leftovers, and they said I might help with it and give it to Franzi. It worked out pretty well. :]

We used a Dr. Oetker ready-to-roll fondant, as opposed to the homemade marshmallow fondant I have used before. It was was easy to prepare, but I felt that the fondant was prone to cracking. Dr. Oetker is a common baking supplies brand based in Germany. You know chocolate chips? Like Nestle ones? They taste like wax next to Dr. Oetker chips. Chocolate standards in Europe are just so much better over all.

To make the flowers, we cut out individual petals from rolled fondant and stuck them on with a bit of water. I’m not sure if that is the most kosher way of sticking fondant together, but it seems to work. You have to be pretty careful, though.

And then. The edible glitter. Easily the best part of this cake. It was so festive and birthday appropriate. Never mind that I found glitter hiding on my face for the next two days; the overall effect was worth it. Do not do what I did on one side of the cake and splash a bit of water on and then throw the glitter. It will look like the big splotch that you can probably see on my cake.

Shine on,


Pipe Dream #66: To Never Over-Bake – A Literal Pound Cake

A few things about this giant cupcake:

1) I am not particularly proud of the way it tasted.

2) I am definitely not proud of the way it looked. I had about 20 minutes, and I was totally messing around with leftover frosting.

3) It is giant, which is cool.

4) I remembered Anthony’s birthday, for which to make it. So.

5) My aunt gave me this baking tin for no reason at all except that she loves me. Thank you.

Pretty nifty, eh? It’s connected. Bulky in storage, but handy when you are actually baking. Which I was.

I was super excited to try it out, so of course I spent 10  hours researching the perfect flagship recipe. Not. But I did research the back of the giant cupcake tin box, which said that this pan was ideal for pound cakes.

You know, pound cakes? The dense, moist-y crumb that is made from a pound of butter, a pound of sugar, a pound of eggs and a pound of flour? Yeah, that pound cake. There are endless variations that deviate from the true thing. Who knows what they add, cream cheese, leftovers, sprinkles? True story, once I added pink sanding sugar as a secret ingredient to a meat marinade. The chicken turned out slightly pink. Anyway, I wanted to go legit, so I decided to try the original.

Basically, the recipe was not good for the pan. Maybe the recipe just isn’t good for any pan, but I can’t believe that, really. It’s a pound cake.

The bottom part of the cupcake did not bake as quickly as the top part, so the whole thing stayed in for too long. This was unfortunate, because as we know, over-baking is the most heinous sacrelige one can commit in regard to cake. It was pretty dry. In fact, I’m pretty sure if I had let it sit overnight, it would have been hard as a rock by the next morning. Also, the recipe did not make quite enough batter to fill the top part of the pan, which is one of the reasons that my frosting turned out so janked. Next time, I would scale up the recipe a bit to fill the pan. The cake won’t rise very much because the batter has no leavening agent in it; you can fill the pan as high as you want.

It was still birthday happy, though. Nothing chocolate cream cheese frosting couldn’t make up for. You heard me right.

Have fun with that pound of butter, now. :]


Legit Pound Cake

1 pound (2 cups) sugar
1 pound (4 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 pound (9 large) eggs
1 pound (4 cups) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325°F. In a large bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer, then gradually add the sugar, continuing to beat until well creamed and smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add the flour and salt, beating constantly. Add the vanilla extract and continue beating until well blended.

Grease and flour a 10-inch tube, bundt pan, or giant cupcake pan. Pour in the batter and distribute the batter evenly. Bake until a tester inserted into the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes (I would check it at 40 minutes), taking care not to overbake. Turn cake out onto a rack and let cool.

How To Illuminate Your Mind And Bakes

Back when my family got Netflix, we went through a period where we watched all three seasons of Cake Boss in about 3 weeks. (I’ve talked about this before, and made some of the prettiest cupcakes ever.) It was pretty legit. One of the coolest things on that show is how they make everything look so real. They use all kinds of things to achieve different special effects: edible ink, fondant, gum paste. But one of the prettiest things they use is luster dust. My mind was illuminated. I had never seen anything of the kind. It is kind of like loose glitter eyeshadow, really sparkly and brushable. I’ve never tried putting it on my face, but that’s only because it is kind of spendy.

Because this stuff actually costs money, I was a tad miffed when I knocked a significant amount on the floor. I was concerned enough that I spend a good five minutes sweeping it up and putting it back in its minute jar. When it was done, my body was showing the strain; I looked like I had just gotten off a shift at Pier One during the Christmas rush (slightly  pop-eyed, jumping at small movements and full of glitter), but I was soothed. Most of the powder was back in its place.

I bought the color SUPER GOLD with which to test my abilities. I thought it was a bit more yellowy than I would have liked. Perfect for, like, fake pirate gold, not apples, but it was still neat.

You can either brush the dust on dry or mix it with a little vinegar or vodka. Whatever you have on hand is cool. You just need some edible liquid that is going to evaporate pretty quickly leaving the dust behind. Brushing luster dust on dry results in a sheer shimmer, while brushing on wet dust gives you a thicker coat.

A little bit of the vodka went a long way. I didn’t exactly look up how much I was supposed to put in, so it was kind of a guessing game. The paste was tricky because as soon as I thought I had the right consistency for brushing, the vodka would evaporate and I would be left with gummy chunks. Remind me never to say ‘gummy chunks’ again. Anyway, it is pretty much trial and error; I’ll be better next time. To brush it on, I actually did use an eyeshadow brush. Ahem. It’s not like anyone was going to eat this, yeah?

See how funky it looks? I had to put on a couple coats without brushing off the stuff I had already put on. It took forever.

But! It does end up looking like this. I sprinkled some dry dust on the berries and flourless chocolate torte for effect. I think it would be super neat to paint luster dust on frosted sugar cookies or fondant. Let me know if you try it! I would love to see what you can do.

Sometimes I don’t tell people they have unintentional glitter on their faces because I like it so much,


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