Posts Tagged 'homemade'

IMPORTANT STEP NOT – Homemade Ladyfingers


Don’t miss this! This recipe is an essential part of tomorrow’s pumpkin tiramisu recipe, which is pretty rich, if I do say so myself. So much for easing into things this week.

Here’s the thing, you can totally skip this step and buy ladyfingers at your grocer. Whatever, I was just trying to be double cool.  Don’t know if it was worth it. You might try doubling the recipe also. I found myself wishing for a few more ladyfingers for the tiramisu.

So important, not,



Adapted from Joy of Baking

1/2 cup (65 grams) cake flour, sifted

3 large egg yolks, room temperature

2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated white sugar, divided

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 large egg whites, room temperature

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

3 tablespoons (36 grams) granulated white sugar

Powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Have ready a large pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch round tip, or just snip a medium-sized bit off the end of a piping bag.

Wipe out the bowl of the electric mixer with a vinegar-soaked paper towel. Using with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until foamy.  Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form.  Gradually add the 3 tablespoons white sugar and whip until stiff peaks form. Remove the egg whites to a bowl.

In the electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks and 2 tablespoons (25 grams) white sugar on high speed for about 5 minutes or until the mixture becomes thick and pale yellow.  (When you raise the beaters the batter should fall back into the bowl in a slow ribbon.)  Beat in the vanilla extract.  Sift the cake flour over the batter but do not fold in yet. Add the egg whites, then fold the whites into the egg yolk and flour mixture in three additions, mixing only until incorporated. 

Pipe the batter in 3 inch sections, leaving about a 1 inch space between the cookies.  

Place the powdered sugar in a wire strainer, and sift over the tops of the cookies.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the ladyfingers are firm but barely browned and are still spongy when pressed.

Remove the baking sheets from the oven and slide the parchment paper from the baking sheets onto a wire rack.  Let the ladyfingers cool for a few minutes and release them from the parchment paper, with a  spatula.  Finish cooling on a wire rack.  If you are not using the ladyfingers right away, freeze them in a plastic bag.

Makes about 4 1/2 dozen 3 -inch ladyfingers.

Pipe Dream #14: To Be Little Debbie, Revisited – Homemade Ding Dong Cupcakes

I don’t know if I’ve told you about my obsession with marshmallow creme. Cream. Whatever. I may have alluded to it with these Oatmeal Creme Pies, the other Little Debbie-esque recipe I posted. If not, let me just tell you.

I am obsessed with marshmallow creme. Slash marshmallows in general. Add marshmallow creme into whatever proposal you are trying to swing, and I’m there.

Some Examples of Proposals That Are 100% More Effective With The Addition of Marshmallow Creme:

– “Lauren, will you peel, core and slice 1000 apples by hand for me? I will spoon feed you marshmallow creme the entire time.”

-“Lauren, will you spend the day wallowing in a pool of self-doubt, despair and misery in order to save the rainforest? I’ll swirl in some marshmallow creme, no charge.

-“Lauren, will you marry me? I am a marshmallow creme maker. I live in a factory of marshmallow creme production.”

Now, you may think I am exaggerating.

And you are right. I am exaggerating. But I do love marshmallow creme. I would eat it with a spoon.

These cupcakes are kind of food blog trendy, so I’ve had the idea in mind for some time. Because they are so trendy, you could google this and come up with 1000 blogs with similar recipes, all of which look prettier than mine. For me, these are more about getting to eat marshmallow creme.

I toyed with the idea of making my own marshmallow creme for them in the form of a 7-minute frosting, hearing that it was “marshmallow frosting.” Given that I was going a bit psycho/lazy on a Saturday baking extravaganza, I tried to make this meringue frosting in a bowl that was, ahem, less than clean, and it didn’t whip up quite the way I wanted. At that point in the day, however, I was too fatigued to care, so really, what you see is what you get with these guys.

I have such issues with meringues. Meringues 3 Lauren 2.

Oh, but did I mention they were delicious?

Oh look! Friends! P.s. Guess it’s Halloween today. Hopefully someone gives you one of those chocolate covered marshmallow deals.


Homemade Ding Dong Cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

I used this basic one-bowl chocolate cupcake recipe from Martha Stewart. I’ve used it loads of times, and you can find it on my blog here. My only tip on this is DON’T OVERFILL THE LINERS. Bad news.

For the filling:

7-Minute Frosting

From Martha Stewart Living

1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
6 large egg whites
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In the heatproof bowl of a VERY CLEAN electric mixer set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine sugar, corn syrup, 1/4 cup water, and egg whites. You could use a double boiler for this part, or just a metal bowl, and then transfer the contents to a mixer bowl when ready. Be careful not to get any water from the double boiler in the mixing bowl if you go that route. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 2 minutes.
Attach bowl to a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat mixture on high speed until glossy, cool and doubled in size, about 5 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Use immediately.
Alternately, you could use a marshmallow fluff/powdered sugar mixture to fill theses babies. That would be yummy.
For the topping:
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon butter
Melt the butter and chips in the microwave, stirring every twenty seconds or so until melted. Don’t let the stuff burn.
Alternately, you could use chocolate ganache to top these. In retrospect, I should have done that.
To assemble:
Set aside a bit of the 7 minute frosting in a piping bag fitted with a small circle tip. This is for decorating the cupcakes later. A nicer alternative might be a royal icing, but I was too lazy to make some.
Remove cupcakes from liners (or don’t) and cut out a circle of cake from the top of each. They call this “the cone method.” I always reserve the very top of the piece I cut out to put back on top of the filling. Fill each hole with 7 minute frosting and replace the cake piece over the hole. Swirl each top with melted chocolate and let set for a bit. Using the reserved frosting, pipe the classic Hostess swirl on top of each cupcake.

How To Make Brown Sugar

So I wanted to make this caramel cake the other day, right? I mean, I really, really wanted to make it. I had my heart set on conquering caramel once again, and eating delicious cake.

As oft happens when I have my heart set on things, I start them and realize that it will be impossible for me to actually attain them. I’ll start to make a recipe and find out 2 sticks of butter, a cup of sugar and three eggs in that I don’t have what I need to finish the recipe. Which is a bummer about 30 percent of the time. The other 70 percent of the time, I can usually google up a replacement and cross my fingers that the recipe will still turn out. Case in point, making buttermilk from scratch or finnagling the caramel recipe from the cake a few days ago.

Here is another one of my discoveries that is the result of my laziness: You can make brown sugar! My dad actually told me I could do it. Who would’ve thought? But I googled it, and he was so right. And this is so easy. All you do is take 1 cup of white sugar and 1 tablespoon of molasses and mix them together. Voila!


Brown Sugar

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon unsulphured molasses

Mix sugar and molasses with a fork or electric mixer until well blended. To store, put in a ziploc bag and squish all the air out of it.

Pipe Dream #60: To Bake In Large Quantity – Brown Sugar Pound Cakes with Browned Butter Glaze

Oh but these are yummy. It is highly appropriate that I only have one picture of these delectable delights to share with you. It is representative of the fact that whenever I make these, they’re gone within 24 hours. Gone to stomachs like yours around the world and also mine.

Let’s start with the brown sugar pound cake. Delectably moist. And the moisture in the brown sugar ensures that they stay that way. And it’s pound cake. Need I say more?

Then the icing. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced browned butter, but I highly recommend it. You just have to heat it up in a saucepan until it starts to look a bit brown. Why mess with a good thing, you ask? After all, we know that regular butter is fabulous.

Survey says: We are not afraid to brown butter because butter can’t possibly get worse, regardless of what you do to it. I am now going to use another highly irrelevant analogy. Butter is like lampreys or bot flies. There are few things in this world that could make it worse. Except butter is good, not parasitic.

Bonus, these cupcakes are really easy. They work well for breakfast, elevenses, lunch, afternoon tea, supper and late-night snack. I can testify.

This recipe also brings to my attention something you may have been wondering about. A lot of the cake recipes I post include buttermilk. It seems like such a finnicky thing to buy, especially if I don’t know when I’m going to use it all. Instead of buying it from the store, I usually make my own buttermilk.

It’s super simple, and has always worked just fine in my recipes. Either that, or I don’t know enough about baking to know if my lack of store-bought buttermilk was the singular source of my extensive collection of spectacular fails. Here is the procedure:

1) Put 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar in a bowl.

2) Measure in 1 cup of regular milk.

3) Let stand for 5 minutes.

Here’s wishing happy eating for six meals straight,


Brown Sugar Pound Cakes with Brown Butter Glaze

adapted from Martha Stewart

For the cupcakes:

3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup buttermilk

For the glaze:

4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 to 4 tablespoons whole milk

To make the cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition.

Reduce speed to low. Mix any remaining wet ingredients in a bowl if needed. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with wet ingredients and ending with dry. Scrape sides of bowl. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full.

Bake cupcakes until testers inserted into centers come out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks. Cupcakes will keep, covered, for up to 3 days.

To make the glaze:

Heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Carefully pour butter into a bowl, leaving sediment behind.

Add sugar, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons milk to butter, and stir until smooth. If glaze is too thick, add more milk. Use immediately. Sometimes when I use brown butter glazes, I find that the butter separates out a little bit. I don’t know why this is. Sorry.

Pipe Dream #44: To Outdo Wilton – Marshmallow Fondant

Ok, I admit. Outdoing Wilton in the cake decorating arena might be a bit of a stretch for your humble bakestress. But from all that I’ve read, their fondant tastes like spit from an anteater’s mouth.

I’m not going to apologize for that analogy either. Instead, I’ll give you a better recipe.

First, melt a whole bag of mini marshmallows with about three tablespoons of water. Let it go for 30 second intervals, stirring in between until it’s all melted.

Next, grease your counter with shortening and pour 2/3 of a two pound bag of powdered sugar on it. Pour out the marshmallow mixture onto the sugar and slowly incorporate everything together, including the rest of the sugar from the bag. Make sure your hands are well greased with shortening; it all gets a bit sticky.

Knead everything together until you can form it into a ball. Grease the ball with even more shortening and cover with plastic wrap. Let cool in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

Meanways, make your cake.

Give your cake a solid coat of buttercream so the fondant has something to stick to. Ne’er you mind the little coffee granules in the frosting that look like crumbs. That isn’t normal; it’s just me. Also, your buttercream needn’t be perfectly smooth, but you should strive for it. Little things show up under fondant.

Prep your counter by sprinkling it with cornstarch so the fondant won’t stick. This step is essential. I had to keep peeling up the fondant because I didn’t put enough starch down. Don’t be like me.

Remove your fondant from its wrapper and begin to roll it out with a rolling pin covered in corn starch. If the fondant seems dry and tears easily, knead in a teaspoon of water at a time until it is the right consistency. Kneading and rolling take some serious resolve–it is hard work. I was sweating. But not enough that it dripped onto the fondant, so don’t worry about that.

Finally, roll up the fondant onto your rolling pin, and then roll it out onto your prepared cake. After that, it is super easy to trim off the bottom, leaving you with a perfectly smooth, marshmallow-y cake. Unless, you are me and have a crease in your fondant.

Considering that this was my first ever attempt at fondant, however, I have to say I was pretty pleased. Pritty playsed.

Try it, pretty please?! You’ll like it.

Getting back up on the horse soon,


Pipe Dream #3: To Make the Perfect Caramel (or “How To Win Friends And Influence People”)


I am not a candy maker. I have tried it plenty of times. Last November, I tried making these maple-nut truffle things. I didn’t add enough sugar because I miscalculated when halving the recipe. Typical. More recently, I tried making Penuche Fudge, a Martha Stewart recipe. This was actually a complete bomb. The last I heard, my little sister had taken half of the batch to school and told her friends it was ” dry fudge.” Ahaha. Apparently the 15-year-olds were raving about the recipe. I wasn’t.

But my real trouble is caramels. Caramels are irresistible. Probably, they have all read the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” They have won me and influenced me in almost every area of my life. Perhaps I exaggerate. However, I have tried many times unsuccessfully to make them on my own. How easy! all the recipes taunt me. Essentially, they are just sugar and cream. My most notable failure-turned-success in caramel-making is actually another Martha Stewart recipe for Caramel-Dipped Hazelnuts. Martha, why are your recipes so tricky?

While the caramel sort of came together, I was left with a bunch of hair-like sticks and some messed-up hazelnuts to ponder. Luckily, I was able to salvage enough of the sticks for a few photos…

All this to say, anyway, that I have finally found a caramel recipe that hasn’t defeated me. I can’t explain why. I was being blessed with heretofore unknown ability. For a two-hour period. Shortly after I made these Homemade Twix Bars, I forgot to stow them in my car. They were supposed to be a hostess gift. I just tried to be extra nice to my hostess instead. A poor substitute, I know. I’ll make it up next time.

Here is the glorious product of my work. I make a lot of recipes. This one I highly recommend.


Please make this immediately and then give me one,


Homemade Twix Bars

Adapted from “Desserts By The Yard” by Sherry Yard


1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup sugar

2 cups cake flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons ground rice (I ground mine in a food processor, which did about half the job. Then I tapped it through a sieve. It took forever. I’m pretty sure you could do without it.)

Make the Shortbread:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-X-13-inch baking pan with pan spray and line with parchment paper. Spray the parchment.

In a large bowl  cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Gradually add the flour, ground rice and salt and allow the dough to come together. The dough will be crumbly but should hold together when you squeeze it.

Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the baking pan. Place in the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Rotate the pan from front to back and bake for another 10 minutes, until the shortbread is a deep golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.


2 cups sugar

3/4 cup corn syrup

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup sweetened condensed milk

1/4 teaspoon salt plus more for sprinkling over the caramel layer

Make the Caramel:

Combine the sugar, corn syrup, water, and lemon juice in a large saucepan. Remove any sugar crystals from the sides of the pan by wiping down the sides with water. You can use your hand or a pastry brush. Place the pot on medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Wipe down any stray sugar crystals that appear using a very clean and wet pastry brush. Do not stir from this point on, but keep an eye on the pan. The mixture will be very bubbly.

When the sugar syrup starts to turn golden brown, insert a candy thermometer to check the temperature. When it reaches 300°F, remove the pan from the heat and let it sit for one minute, or until the bubbles subside. Whisk in the heavy cream. Stir until smooth, then whisk in the condensed milk. Add the salt and whisk until smooth.

Return the pan to the heat and stir constantly over medium heat until the caramel reaches 240°F. Remove from the heat and pour over the shortbread. While the caramel is warm sprinkle the surface with the best quality salt you have. Note: the caramel will burn you severely if you try to dip your finger in it at this point. Believe it. Let it set for 2 hours.

Chocolate Glaze

6 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (Bittersweet chocolate chips also work)

2 tablespoons butter

Make Chocolate Glaze:

Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave. If using the microwave melt it slowly in 30 second intervals. Stir well after each interval.

Once completely melted, pour over the caramel.  Using an offset spatula or whatever you want, smooth the chocolate into an even layer.

Place in the refrigerator to set. The caramel cuts best when chilled, but the chocolate needs to be finnagled into cutting nicely, so be careful or it will crack. I used a serrated knife to decent effect. Cut into desired shape and size and serve. Store in the refrigerator.

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