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I just finished a fun project: the Lychee Ombre Rose Cake.
A friend and former work colleague celebrated her little one’s baptism this weekend. I was honored when she asked me to make a rose cake for the event, after seeing my first attempt back in October.
With all the fuss putting this cake together, I didn’t get as many photos as I would have preferred. But I wanted to share the experience with you, and what I learned.
This is a crowd-sourced cake. This cake could not have been accomplished without the help of fellow food lovers. I took inspiration from many sources as I designed this cake over the past month.
I experimented with numerous cake recipes, and at least six (6) types of buttercream. [There will be a separate post on buttercream, I promise you.] Although I did modify many of them, the recipes below stood out. They are solid recipes you can trust to perform.
White Cake : Thanks to SprinkleBakes for a moist White Cake Recipe!
Swiss Meringue Buttercream: Great SMB recipe from Smitten Kitchen
Lychee Filling: Adapted this Lychee Mousse filling from Raspberri Cupcakes
Color Styling: Inspired by 52 Kitchen Adventures‘ similar ombre version
All told, I probably spent five hours on this final cake. You can’t rush genius.
Baking the cakes, whisking fluffy Swiss Buttercream in my little mixer, whipping up lychee mousse and tinkering until I found the perfect color of pink. It takes time, people!
Once I had all the requisite cake components, I was ready to build my Lychee Ombre Rose Cake! You can see there are quite a few tools you’ll want close at hand.
I really like the effect. Perhaps I’ll do a simple cake this way in the future. [Note: this is prior to smoothing the frosting...which is why it looks a tad lopsided.]
My “Learnings” [Don't make my mistakes!]
Each time I make this style of cake, I get a little better at it. Still plenty of things to learn and improve upon. 10,000 hour rule, right?
Overall, I really appreciate my friend taking a chance on me as a newbie baker. And I hope you take a chance on yourself and make this cake, too!
I did an absolute ton of baking for Thanksgiving! I even made this French Silk Pie twice. A family recipe, this pie is silky smooth with robust chocolate flavor.
For me, Thanksgiving is typically a week-long affair. And this Thanksgiving did not disappoint. There were multiple family events throughout the week — a surprise birthday party, mini crab-feed, T-Day (with no T, actually) and a post-Thanksgiving-dinner dinner. So it was easy to whip up a few of my favorite desserts!
It’s difficult to photograph food when you have guests salivating behind you. They just don’t appreciate that you need a few minutes alone with the holiday pie! While I appreciate artistry in my food, I don’t think anyone wants to eat a piece of art. Too destructive, too many guilty feelings.
That’s why I love ugly food.
It’s the food we were all raised on. I think of how my Grandma and I enjoyed gooey hot fudge sundaes together.
Ugly food is over-the-top and messy. It tastes like childhood. And that’s what this French Silk Pie tastes like to me.
Random Fact: Incidentally, my first word was “Cookie.” [Thanks, Grandma!]
Making this pie is really easy. This is adapted from my mother-in-law’s amazing recipe. You may know this pie as Chocolate Satin instead of French Silk.
Please be aware, this French Silk Pie does contain raw eggs, which are unsafe for some groups of people. Try a different pie if you are pregnant, have a compromised immune system or feeding young children. Or, if you can find pasteurized whole eggs, that would work!
French Silk Pie
Prep Time: 30 minutes (needs to chill for at least 4 hours)
Makes 1 Pie
1 Pre-made Chocolate Pie Crust (or make your own HERE)
1 cup / 2 sticks Butter (room temperature)
1.5 cups White Sugar
4 oz Bittersweet Chocolate (I used Guittard) OR 2 oz Unsweetened Bakers Chocolate
4 Eggs (fresh and uncracked)
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/8 tsp Kosher Salt
Whipped Cream for Topping
Oreos or Shaved Chocolate for Topping (optional, have fun with it!)
Begin by preparing your chocolate pie crust. Once prepared, chill the crust in the fridge or freezer.
Next, chop up your chocolate and microwave in 15 second intervals until fully melted, stirring after each interval. Set aside and let cool.
Add your softened butter to the bowl of your stand mixer or large mixing bowl. Cream the butter on medium until lightened, about 1-2 minutes. Slowly add your sugar while beating on medium speed. Beat butter and sugar mixture until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Add vanilla extract, salt and cooled chocolate mixture to mixing bowl. Beat the mixture until combined. Make sure to scrape the bowl thoroughly. (Any uncombined ingredients will leave streaks in your finished pie.) Your mixture will look something like this:
Now, the fun part (and the reason a stand mixer makes your life easier). You are going to add your first two (2) eggs, and beat the mixture on medium-high speed for five (5) minutes. Scrape periodically. After 5 minutes, your mixture will look something like this:
Go ahead and add the final two (2) eggs, and beat the mixture on medium-high speed for five (5) more minutes. Continue to scrape the bowl periodically to ensure everything is evenly mixed. You’ll end up with a smooth, mousse-like mixture.
After you’ve finished mixing, pour the mixture into your chilled pie crust. Smooth out the filling with a spatula. Refrigerate for at least four (4) hours. Lick the mixing bowl and spatula thoroughly.
Once the pie is thoroughly chilled, cover with whipped cream and any topping of your choice. Served well chilled.
Where’s the other slice, you ask? The husband got to it!
I know you’ll love this pie, especially if you enjoyed my Grasshopper Pie post. This pie is a down-to-earth dessert, just waiting to become your holiday tradition. I hope you enjoy it!
Do you have an ugly food recipe that you love, too? Tell me about it in the comments!
Food entrepreneurs have a reason to celebrate this holiday season!
The California legislature recently passed Assembly Bill 1616, California’s first Cottage Food Law, which legalizes home-based food operations in limited circumstances.
For small time bakers, this is a huge win! Much of the cost of starting a food business comes from obtaining permits and leasing commercial kitchen space for baking your products legally. This bill attempts to lower the barriers to entry and – fingers crossed – may help stimulate small business growth in the state.
Let’s examine this bill in a little more depth together. My analysis comes directly from the text of AB1616.
When is this Law Effective?
The provisions of this bill become effective January 1, 2013. (However, regulators have indicated they may need additional time to comply.)
Defining a “Cottage Food Operation” (CFO)
This bill amends the Health and Safety Code to call out a “Cottage Food Operation” as a distinct entity from “Food Processing Facilities” and their more rigorous safety requirements.
The bill defines two distinct categories of Cottage Food Operations (CFOs):
Class A – a “Class A” CFO may only sell directly to consumer. Eligible sales are limited to farmer’s markets, bake sales, holiday bazaars, in-person transactions.
Class B – a “Class B” CFO may sell both directly and indirectly to consumers. Those with Class B status can have their products sold at third-party retailers (like a grocery store) and to restaurants for immediate consumption. This is in addition to selling products directly to consumers.
Note: It appears counties may have the right to allow / disallow indirect food sales from other counties. We’ll see how that sorts itself out.
Business Income Limitations
Since this bill is geared towards stimulating small business, it puts gross annual sales caps on the Cottage Food Operation.
Businesses which exceed the cap will need to comply with existing regulations for commercial food production.
A CFO may have one full-time equivalent employee, in addition to the Cottage Food Operator. Family or household members are not included in this count, so they can be enlisted to help.
Direct enforcement, will likely come from our local County Health Department. However, the California Department of Public Health is charged with outlining and overseeing this enforcement statewide. We’ll see how it all shakes out.
Class A cottage food operations will need to register with their local enforcement agency and complete a self-certification checklist prior to opening for business. Inspections of Class A operations will only occur if warranted by a consumer complaint.
Class B cottage food operations will need to meet the above requirements and also obtain a permit from their local enforcement agency. This will include passing an initial site inspection by an enforcement officer. Class B inspections will occur annually thereafter.
All Cottage Food Operators and employees will need to pass a food processor course instructed by the California Department of Public Health.
Permitting costs and regulatory fees may not exceed the reasonable costs incurred by local enforcement agencies. There may be additional permits required for operating at specific venues or within your geographic area.
The Cottage Food Operation must comply with FDA labeling requirements. In addition, labels must include the following:
Most of these requirements are no-nonsense, and meant to keep food prepared safe for the consumer.
Only foods classified as “not potentially hazardous” may be produced by a Cottage Food Operation. This is to limit the risk of contamination to the consumer. A list of these foods is to be maintained by the California Department of Public Health. The initial list includes:
FAQ Provided by CCDEH
Text of Assembly Bill 1616
FDA Food Labeling Requirements
Santa Clara Dept of Environmental Health, Food Safety Program (for my local readers)
Keep in mind I’m not an expert. The analysis above is just my two cents. Overall, this law is a net positive for talented food entrepreneurs with more limited resources.
This new law may also bring current black-market operations into the fold. The revenue generated for the state is a no-brainer. And the limitations protect both existing commercial food operations and the consumer through income caps and exempted higher-risk food categories.
One thing’s for sure: the home food industry is about to get busy in California! If you think it may be for you, I recommend contacting your local county health department for additional information. And keeping checking back here for detailed updates!
Growing up, my sister’s favorite birthday cake was a Grasshopper Pie from Baskin Robbins. This Grasshopper Pie is a little different – it uses freshly whipped marshmallow cream instead of ice cream. But I think you’ll find its silken texture and flavor make for a great grown-up version.
When you find yourself with a bunch of extra egg whites, like I did after making my Holiday Egg Nog Grog, this is a perfect pie to use them up.
On the whole, this pie is straightforward to make but there are some bad recipes floating on the internet, so beware! As I found with my first attempts, freezer pies are extremely sensitive to water content. Ice crystals ruin the texture of this pie. Think ice cream instead of “icee.”
Alright, this recipe involves two parts: first, we need to make our homemade Marshmallow Cream. Then, we need to combine it with our minty pie ingredients.
Part 1: Whip up your Marshmallow Cream. This will be the base to your lovely Grasshopper Pie.
Recipe from Bon Appetit
Makes 4 cups
3/4 cup + 1/4 cup Sugar (divided)
1/4 cup Water
4 Egg Whites
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Pinch of Salt
Combine 3/4 cup of the sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and simmer the syrup without stirring until it reaches 240F. You can occasionally swirl the pan gently but no stirring with a spoon, please! Stirring with a utensil can cause crystallization.
While the sugar syrup is cooking (be sure to monitor it closely), you can prepare the eggs. Carefully separate the eggs, making sure no yolk gets into your egg whites. Reserve the egg yolks for another use [like my Holiday Egg Nog Grog]. Add the egg whites, vanilla and salt into the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on high until the eggs are frothy. Slowly begin adding the 1/4 cup sugar. Whip until medium peaks form. Reduce speed to medium, then carefully pour hot syrup into egg mixture in a slow, steady stream while whipping. Increase mixer speed to high and whip to stiff peaks. Reduce speed to medium and whip until marshmallow cream is cool. Use immediately.
Random Fact: My husband detests peppermint. So much that he uses kid’s strawberry toothpaste.
Alrighty, on to pie-making!
Part 2: Let’s freeze us some Grasshopper Pie. The key to a silky pie is fully mixed and COLD ingredients.
Makes 1 Pie
1 Pre-made Chocolate Pie Crust (or make your own HERE)
4 cups Marshmallow Cream
1 cup + 3 tbsp Heavy Whipping Cream (divided)
1-2 tbsp Creme de Menthe
1-2 tbsp Creme de Cacao
2-4 drops Green Food Dye (Optional)
Sweetened Whipped Cream for topping (Optional)
Crushed Andes Mints or Oreos for topping (Optional)
Start by pre-chilling your Chocolate Pie Crust. Next, take your Marshmallow Cream and combine with 3 tbsp of heavy cream. Stir to combine until mixture is smooth (if you need to, you can microwave or heat the mixture gently to help with melting the marshmallow). Stir in 2 drops of the food dye until uniform. Chill the mixture in the fridge or freezer while you beat the cream.
Take the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream and 2 more drops of food dye and whip until medium peaks form. You want structure but don’t over-beat and make butter!
Gently fold in the whipped cream to the marshmallow mixture. Add liqueurs to taste [don't add too much as you don't want your pie to be icy]. Gently scrape the mixture into your chilled pie crust. Pop immediately into the freezer for 4-6 hours.
While impatiently waiting for your pie to freeze, make yourself a Grasshopper martini like I did. Truly decadent!
If you have Andes mints or oreos, you can top the pie with them for artistic effect.
[Wait, did I already show you that photo? Oh well, here it is again.]Remember, the liqueur in this pie means the melting point is higher and it never fully freezes [you can see how fast it melts in the shot below]. So, keep it cold and eat it quickly!
The quintessential holiday beverage. Egg Nog has seen many an amateur cook through endless hours spent slaving over a holiday meal. It’s smoothed the edges on those awkward dinners with the extended family that drag on-and-on. It’s perfect for sipping with friends and family in front of a warm, crackly, fire.
I still remember the first time I sampled homemade Egg Nog. My neighbors hosted a holiday cookie swap. I was probably 13 years old. And there was this huge punch bowl of warm Egg Nog. All the adults were doing boring things like talking to each other. So I fixated on the Nog. I must have had at least four cups full. Far more than was polite. But it was just that good, I couldn’t help going back for more.
I’ve decided to unofficially call my recipe “Egg Grog” because it’s made with good quality Jamaican rum. [Egg Grog. The more you drink, the more you feel like a pirate.] But names aside, I think you’ll enjoy it.
I can’t stand store bought egg nog. To me, it tastes like bubblegum, which I have no interest in drinking. But that’s OK because this is one beverage that’s simple to make, and customize to your tastes, at home.
This drink can be served warm or chilled. It’s best the next day, though mine rarely makes it that long. If you haven’t tried homemade Egg Nog before, give this one a try – I promise, you won’t go back!
Holiday Egg Nog
Recipe makes 10-12 cups
8 Egg Yolks
2/3 cup Sugar
4 cups Milk (I used 2%)
2 cups Heavy Cream
8 tbsp Dark Rum (Bourbon or Cognac make good substitutes)
2 tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg (the regular stuff will work, too)
Pinch of Salt
Separate egg yolks from whites. Reserve egg whites for another use. Place yolks in a medium bowl and beat with an electric mixer until egg yolks have lightened in color (about 30 seconds). Slowly add in the sugar, beating until lightened and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes).
Combine the milk, cream, nutmeg and salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Slowly heat on medium until the mixture is hot but not boiling. Stir frequently to keep the bottom from burning.
Next, you’ll need to temper the eggs, to prevent them from scrambling. Slowly add the hot milk (a few drops at a time) to the beaten egg yolks, whisking vigorously. Continue adding hot milk, a little at a time, until you’ve added half the milk to the egg mixture. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk. [Go slowly, I've scrambled my yolks before adding the milk too quickly. You can increase your speed slightly as you add more milk.]
Cook on medium heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. You’ll want the mixture to reach 16oF degrees, to ensure the eggs are fully cooked. You can check this with a thermometer, although it’s not required. Don’t let the Egg Nog boil.
Remove from the heat and add in the rum. Pour into a glass bowl to cool. Once a bit cooler, place into the refrigerator to chill. Enjoy!
On a side note, above is a picture of a beautiful bouquet my husband created for me [just because he loves me!]. It has fresh wheat and amaranth (pictured), sage, lavendar and rosemary. A perfect bouquet for a chef, no? I’m so lucky!