Tag Archives: fruit

Lychee Ombre Rose Cake

12 Dec

Lychee Ombre Rose Cake Close Up FINAL

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.

Ombre Rose Cake Top

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!

Frosting ColorsRose pink, petal pink, burgundy, red…so many options for pink.

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.

Rose Cake ToolsLet me know if you are curious about any of these tools. A cake turntable is really nice to have. The wax paper is simply to protect the cardboard round from being stained by the buttercream.

Filling the Ombre Rose CakeTorting and filling the cake. Make sure you pipe a dam of frosting to hold in the mousse filling – or you may experience ooze.

Ombre Rose Cake Crumb Coat

I applied an ombre pink crumb coat (dark to light). I didn’t worry about the crumbs visible in this icing since I was just going to cover it all over with roses.Ombre Rose Cake Crumb Coat Finished

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.]

Iced Cake Before Gold TintThe photo above is before I applied the gold tint. I used the Wilton Gold spray tint to airbrush the cake.

Pink and Gold Ombre Rose Cake with TintThe gold airbrush gives the cake an iridescent glow.

Lychee Ombre Rose Cake

My “Learnings” [Don’t make my mistakes!]

  • Don’t Bother with American Buttercream. Just don’t. NO Crisco either. Use Swiss Meringue Buttercream. It’s so much better.
  • Make a LOT of frosting. For this cake, you will need a lot of frosting, particularly for icing the top layer of roses. I almost ran out of the lightest pink icing. Reserve some uncolored icing for emergencies.
  • Keep your icing cool. The rose consistency changes as you ice and warm the icing in the bag. So take breaks and briefly chill the icing to avoid this.
  • Deliver your own cakes. I heard the cake encountered some smudging during transportation. Next time I’ll deliver or find a surefire way to keep the cake from moving. [One good suggestion is museum putty.]

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!

– Beth

Raspberry Fudge Cookies

4 Dec

Raspberry Tower (2)

These may be the best cookies I’ve ever made. My Raspberry Fudge Cookies are packed with Guittard chocolate, rich espresso and tart raspberries.

Raspberry Fudge Cookie I love you

Innovation in my kitchen often comes from a mistake, or starting a recipe and realizing I don’t have a key ingredient.

In this case, I was originally going to share a different cookie recipe with you (another time, perhaps). But I burned the pecans I was going to use. Plans changed. No biggie: you’re going to LOVE these, I promise.

Raspberry Fudge Cookies have made it to the top of my list. My husband wants you all to know he enjoys eating the dough raw. But officially Decadent Dragon Bakery can’t condone that!  [To me, a freshly baked cookie tastes like a molten lava cake. So good!]

Both the Guittard chocolate and raspberries are locally sourced from businesses in the Bay Area.

Raspberry Fudge Cookies

Prep Time: 30 minutes | Bake Time: 12-14 minutes (until just set)
Oven Temp: 325 F

1 lb Bittersweet Chocolate (high-quality is best, chopped finely)
1/2 cup Butter
3/4 cup All-Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt (ideally, Kosher – use less if using table salt)
1 &  1/4 cups Sugar
4 Eggs (large, at room temperature)
2 tbsp Instant Espresso Powder
1 tbsp Vanilla Extract
1 pint Fresh Raspberries (frozen is probably OK in a pinch)

Pre-heat your oven to 325F. Line your baking sheets with silicone liners or parchment paper (you’ll need 4 pans if baking all cookie at once).

Guittard Chocolate

Begin by weighing and chopping your bittersweet chocolate into even, small pieces. This will help it melt evenly. Place the butter and chocolate into a medium-sized pot and turn the stove on medium-low. Slowly stir the chocolate until melted. Be careful to stir often to avoid burning the chocolate. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Chocolate and Butter

Chocolate + Butter 2

Chocolate + Butter 3

See? The chocolate is nice and creamy when fully melted.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine your flour, baking soda and salt. Stir until fully mixed.

Eggs in Mixing Bowl 2

Next, crack your eggs into a large bowl (or bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment). Beat for 30 seconds. Add your sugar, instant espresso powder and vanilla extract. Beat for 1-2 minutes until fully combined and foamy. Your mixture should look like this:

Eggs Sugar Espresso

Grab your cooled chocolate (make sure it isn’t too hot, it should be barely warm to the touch). Beat the chocolate into the egg mixture.

Chocolate Added

Add in the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in your raspberries by hand with a large spoon or spatula.

Chocolate and Flour

I loved the pattern created by mixing flour into the chocolate.

It’s time to scoop some cookies! Use about 3 tbsp of dough for each cookie. [If you have a medium sized ice cream scoop with a release handle, this works really well to form the dough.] These cookies spread out, so I recommend no more than six (6) per cookie sheet. Place into your hot oven and bake around 12-14 minutes (the center of the cookies should still be quite fudgy and moist).

Raspberry Fudge Cookies on Sheet

Don’t place them this close together (only if freezing for later).

Once the cookies are out of the oven, you can transfer them to a cooling rack with a spatula (don’t pick them up by hand when warm as they’ll fall apart).

Raspberry Fudge Cookies with Powdered Sugar

These cookies really are awesome the day they are baked, so make them fresh!

Tip: If you have space in your freezer, you can scoop these cookies onto a baking sheet and freeze them for 1-2 hours.  Since they don’t need room to spread out, you can fit ~24 on one sheet. Once they are fully frozen, place cookies into a zip-lock freezer bag. You’ll be able to bake them up fresh just a couple at a time! No need to defrost before baking, but they’ll probably take a few extra minutes to finish.

I hope you enjoy them! Do you have an awesome recipe that arose from a kitchen snafu? Let us know about it in the comments!

– Beth

Smitten Kitchen’s Apple Cider Caramels

10 Nov

Deb from Smitten Kitchen recently posted an awesome recipe for Apple Cider Caramels. I couldn’t resist trying them for myself. They came out beautifully and I wanted to share my success with you.

Local apple cider, freshly ground cinnamon and french sea salt [Ok, not so local…but oh, so good!]. These caramels are elegant and make a lovely holiday treat or gift.

Making the caramels is simple. Deb provides great instructions. I loved her tip to oil your knife while cutting the caramels. I’d recommend baking spray. Butter would probably make the caramels taste better though.

A few [minor] suggestions from Decadent Dragon:

  • Use freshly ground cinnamon if you can.
  • Use a thermometer.  It relieves you of temperature uncertainty.
  • Instead of parchment, you can use saran wrap to wrap caramels.
  • My caramels were super-soft outside the fridge. Keep ’em cold to maintain shape.

And lastly, Smitten Kitchen’s cookbook is out.  This would make a great Christmas gift (hint, hint!).

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

2 Nov

When your husband works as an agricultural Biologist, you get used to “produce surprises” appearing in your kitchen on a semi-regular basis. Sometimes it’s a pound of local, fresh honey, others a little bean sprout begging to be planted.  This week, it was a box of three, extremely ripe pineapples. And one of them became this scrumptious rum-laced cake.

Whenever these culinary surprises show up, I imagine myself a star on Iron Chef, tasked with creating a meal from our new found bounty. Silly? Probably.

With the pineapple, I was looking to highlight the sweet and tart flavors of fresh pineapple – almost like a tribute to the end of summer now we’re firmly in fall. And so the inspiration for this Pineapple Upside Down Cake was born.

This pineapple was a truly beautiful thing.  Incredibly sweet and ripe, with low acidity (well, for a pineapple anyway).

I found a lovely recipe on Smitten Kitchen’s blog. Like her, I chose to omit the ground cardamom from the cake — though I did go back and garnish with cardamom afterward.  Cardamom does a good job of balancing the rather intense sweetness of this cake.

I also added more RUM than she called for in her recipe. Excellent Appleton Estates rum. I swear, this blog should be call the Drunken Dragon sometimes. I put rum in the caramel topping, rum in the batter and garnished with rum once the cake was baked!

Overall, this produced an excellent cake.  I highly recommend it. My one suggestion would be to lessen some of the sugar in the recipe: perhaps a 1/4 cup less in the batter (beware as I haven’t tested this). Particularly if you are using a sweet pineapple, the sugar can likely be cut back a bit.

This cake emerges from your cast iron skillet with the most beautiful caramel and pineapple topping. And on a side note: does anyone else think the picture above looks like a spiral galaxy? Haha, I do!

Have a good one!

Beth