Category Archives: Desserts

Dutch Baby with Spiced Peaches

On a totally irrelephant note: I hate my dishwasher. It beeps about once a minute or so when it’s open. Mikal doesn’t seem to be bothered by it, but it annoys the buttons out of me. Seriously.

Anyway….

I’ve been attempting to make a little something to bring to work on Thursdays, since we start an hour later than the rest of the week. It’s a good little idea, it’s a way to get my baked goods eaten by someone other than myself and Mikal, and it’s fun. I like it.

I totally forgot I was starting this little breakfasty-thing until around 6:45 this morning when my alarm went off. I was trying to think of something, anything to make, while fighting off the sluggishness of sleeeeeeeeeepies. Snooze was hit twice. By the time the alarm went off the third time, I had two ideas: I could attempt to make a peach-filled crêpe for each person, or I could utilize the one-inch square cavity silicone pan I have to make brownies. I could even top each brownie bite with either an almond, peanut butter, or nothing. It was a good idea…until I remembered that I still haven’t figured out a good homemade brownie recipe, and I really don’t have anything outside of powdered cocoa in the house for chocolate. The crêpes were still in the running, but I wasn’t sure the peaches were up to it. I had let them sit in the fridge for a bit to ripen, but they were still not quite there, or at least the last batch hadn’t been.

I made some coffee and sat with Mr. Ginger and Baking at Home with the CIA and tried to figure out what I could pull together at the last minute. I could have tried the zucchini bread recipe again, but I did that just last week and wasn’t too excited by it – definitely needs some tweaking. I had also made the peach galette in the book, but the dough had turned out a bit meh, same with the peaches. Not great, though a good idea. And then I came across the dutch baby. Easy, you cook the peaches a bit before using them as a filling, I have all the ingredients, and it’s something that would probably be light enough for everyone: instant winner.

This batch of peaches has so far proven to be more ripe than the last, so I can hope that the peachy flavor will come through a bit more. The filling for the galette didn’t seem quite sweet enough for the under-ripened ones, so it turned out kind of tart and meh. But, as with all of the CIA recipes I have so far encountered, the instructions are straightforward and nicely easy.

Dutch Baby with Spiced Peaches

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole or low-fat milk
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing

Spiced Peaches
2 tbsp unsalted butter
3 peaches, peeled and sliced
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp lightly packed light brown sugar

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Place a 1-inch cast-iron skillet or ovenproof sauté pan in the oven and preheat to 450°F. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and set aside.

While the pan heats, put the eggs in a blender and blend at low speed. Add the flour mixture and the milk alternately, in 3 additions. Scrape down the sides of the blender and continue to blend until smooth, 15-20 seconds. Blend in the melted butter. Brush the hot skillet with additional melted butter and pour in the batter. Bake for 10 minutes without opening the oven. Reduce the heat to 350°F and bake until the Dutch baby is very puffy and the edges are starting to pull away from the edges of the pan, 15-20 minutes more.

Meanwhile, prepare the spiced peaches: Melt the butter in a medium sauté pan over high heat. Add the peaches, cinnamon and brown sugar. Reduce the heat to medium and stir until the fruit is just heated through, about 5 minutes.

Remove the Dutch baby from the oven. Drizzle with the lemon juice and dust with the confectioners’ sugar. Fill the center of the Dutch baby with the hot fruit mixture. Serve immediately.


I have to say, this is an amazing recipe. Pretty simple, straightforward, and doesn’t take a whole lot of time. I have a feeling the blender helps things go quickly, otherwise one would have to whisk a lot.

These were so good my boss, who usually won’t take terribly much of my sweets, grabbed a second helping right after scarfing the first. Granted she had to leave right away, but still – that’s a pretty good endorsement.

Cinnamon rolls!

I keep making recipes that require my hands way too much, which makes it really very hard to take pictures with the very expensive camera. Thus no pictures once again.

I came to a startling realization last week when I was looking for a cinnamon roll recipe: I have absolutely no cinnamon roll recipes in all my cookbooks. None. At all. What’s up with that?! I mean, really? A good cinnamon roll is amazing. Eventually, probably sooner rather than later, I will learn the trick.

Mikal has been encouraging me to look at Cooking Light versions of recipes to get a feel for what methods they use to cut down on the richness of various foods. Since I’m planning on making quite a few of these and freezing them so that I can take them out for breakfast or a snack or something, I decided to make a slightly healthier version and go from there. There are just a couple of things I would change about this recipe to make it a slight bit better for my future batches. First, I stead of brushing melted butter over the inside of the dough so that the filling sticks and melts, I’m going to make a paste of butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. I know that cuts down on the whole “light” idea, but I found that this batch of rolls came out a bit dry. The second thing would be to reserve just enough of the filling spread to put a bit on top of the buns before they cook. Just a very light coating, I think, to give it a bit more oomph. I’ll post my findings as an add-on to this post at a later date.

Cinnamon Rolls

Rolls
1 cup warm fat-free milk (100° to 110°)
6 tablespoons melted butter, divided
1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 package quick-rise yeast
16 22/25 ounces all-purpose flour (about 3 3/4 cups)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Icing
3 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar

To prepare rolls, combine milk, 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, and yeast in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups. Add egg and remaining granulated sugar to bowl. Stir in 4.5 ounces (1 cup) flour; let stand 10 minutes.

Add 11.25 ounces (about 2 1/2 cups) flour and salt to milk mixture; stir until a soft dough forms (dough will be sticky). Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 6 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray; turn to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 35 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let rise 35 minutes or until doubled in size. Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes.

Combine brown sugar and cinnamon. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; roll dough into an 18 x 11–inch rectangle. Brush remaining 3 tablespoons melted butter over dough; sprinkle evenly with brown sugar mixture. Beginning at one long side, roll up dough tightly, jelly-roll fashion; pinch seam to seal (do not seal ends of roll). Cut dough into 18 (1-inch) slices. Arrange 9 slices, cut sides up, in each of 2 (8-inch) square baking dishes coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 35 minutes or until doubled in size. I put mine into muffin tins to make them easier to store individually, and that worked really well.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Uncover rolls. Bake at 350° for 22 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 10 minutes in dishes on a wire rack. Turn rolls out onto wire rack; cool 5 minutes. Turn rolls over.

To prepare icing, combine 3 tablespoons softened butter and cream; stir with a whisk. Stir in vanilla. Gradually add powdered sugar; stir until blended. Spread icing over rolls; serve warm.

Actually, there is another something I don’t really like about this recipe: the icing. If you check out the image in the linked recipe, it really doesn’t look very appetizing…. And that’s how it turns out. I think I’m going to find a different something to put on top… But maybe not. It doesn’t taste bad or anything, it just doesn’t show well, especially if you apply it cold or let it cool too much while eating. Looks kinda funny. >.>

Tiramisù

This is going to be my second-to-last big production for the next few months. Why? Well, Mikal and I have gotten it into our minds to move our behinds down to California. There’s this big yellow thing in the sky that appears there rather often, and we need to see more of it than the paltry amount we get in western Washington. Seriously.

This whole move thing should be happening the last week of June, which is when Mikal’s brother is moving down to California – this would save us a ton of money, so we’re going for it. In order to save the requisite money to get down there, though, we need to pare down our food and everything else spending, so this will be the last expensive hoo-hah outside of Mikal’s birthday.

I’m not going totally on hiatus from this, though I have a feeling I might do fewer posts. You see, when I get it into my head to make something, it usually entails ingredients we don’t have, so I have to go out and get them. While it’s nice to do this, it is not conducive to saving money. Mikal, on the other hand, can create food from what I see as random stuff we have in the fridge. He has the magic food ability. I envy him.

At any rate, I’ve been wanting to make tiramisù for sooooo long. I used to think I didn’t like tiramisu, mostly because I tasted the Haagen dazs tiramisù ice cream, and it just tasted waaaay too heavily of the coffee liqueur they used. So I went through life oblivious to the wonders of tiramisù until one evening in Paris with some classmates. We went looking for food around where they were staying, and happened upon an italian restaurant that looked good. Of course, it was amazingly good. We liked it enough to get desserts. I don’t remember what I got, but one of the items on the menu was tiramisù. I remember making a face and saying something along the lines of “Blegh ><” and ordered…something. The classmate that ordered the tiramisù, though, allowed me a taste because it actually didn’t look bad, and smelled good to boot. My goodness…. It was heavenly. It was one of the first foods I fell in love with on that trip.

When I came home, I wanted to share the goodness with Mikal, so at some point when we went to the Olive Garden, we ordered the tiramisù. So sad. So very sad. At least I had the good sense to order a Lavazza latte to wash it down. (Lavazza was one of the stronger-flavored coffees in the cafés of France, and it was nice to taste something familiar.)

Lesson learned: don’t try to duplicate awesome experiences with mass-produced food. It makes sad pandas.

So I have been craving good tiramisù, and got it in my head to try it out. Surprisingly (or not, I guess), mascarpone cheese is expensive. It didn’t help that the recipe I used was for a 9″x13″ pan, which is enormous in terms of such rich fare. And when it says to use packaged ladyfingers, go ahead and do that unless you’ve made ladyfingers. As with most pastries I seem to want to make, it required whipped egg to be folded into the batter. What is it with my recipe choice on this stuff? So yeah, go ahead and buy the ladyfingers. You’ll thank yourself.

Tiramisù

1 cup espresso
1/2 cup Kahlúa or other coffee-flavored liqueur
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (divided)
6 large egg yolks
1 large egg
26oz. mascarpone cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large egg whites
48 slightly stale ladyfingers
1/4 cup cocoa
2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar

Combine the espresso and Kahlúa in a small bowl to make a syrup. Set aside.

Whisk together 1 cup of the granulated sugar, the egg yolks, and the egg in the bowl of a stand mixer and set over simmering water. Continue to whisk until the volume nearly doubles and the mixture becomes a light lemon yellow, 4-5 minutes.

Transfer the bowl to a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip on high speed until the mixture has cooled to room temperature, 8-10 minutes. Add half of the mascarpone and the vanilla extract and blend on low speed until very smooth, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the remaining mascarpone and mix just long enough to combine evenly.

Beat the egg whites with the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a clean bowl to medium peaks, 5-6 minutes. Fold the beaten egg whites into the mascarpone mixture in 3 separate additions.

(At the end of the recipe, there is a note that you can use pasteurized egg whites to “eliminate any food safety concerns,” as the whites don’t get cooked. I had some in the fridge, and read the ingredients. It said 99% egg whites with various additives, including coloring and xanthan and guar gums, and various other things. I thought surely, 1% of random stuff shouldn’t matter, right? Maybe it was the fact that I was using the generic brand, but it wouldn’t whip up for beans. It kinda fluffed, but didn’t even form soft peaks, even after I added some cream of tartar. So… yeah. I dunno. If I make this again and remember what I did this time, I’ll try with reserved egg whites and see how it turns out.)

Place 16 ladyfingers in a 2 1/2 quart dish or a 9×13 inch baking pan. Brush the ladyfingers evenly and liberally with the espresso syrup. Spread one-third of the mascarpone filling in an even layer over the ladyfingers. Repeat this layering sequence twice to use the remaining ladyfingers, espresso syrup, and mascarpone filling, ending with the mascarpone filling.

Dust the entire surface of the tiramisù with the cocoa powder and the confectioners’ sugar. Wrap and chill for at least 3 hours or up to overnight to allow flavors to blend. Cut into portions and serve directly from the dish or pan.

Mine was a bit sad and flopsy. It’s because the egg whites wouldn’t firm up for the mascarpone filling :/ But! It’s still damn good. Mascarpone has a wonderful taste somewhere between cream cheese and whipping cream, with a little dash of sweetness added. Very luxurious. Soooo gooooood.

Happy Belated Pi Day!

This is a belated pi day post because it seems to have snuck up on me this year. I ended up spending most of yesterday morning scrounging aground for a relatively easy recipe using ingredients I already had in the house. I briefly entertained doing chicken pot pie, completely bypassing my sweet tooth, but decided against it since I posted about it only a few weeks ago.

And then it dawned on me: I have everything I need to make a banana cream pie – except bananas. Oh well. Those are easy! I had a rather unsatisfying experience with banana cream pie last week. It wasn’t terrible, it just wasn’t quite satisfying in the banana department, and that’s an issue I have found in most store-bought banana cream pies. For a while a year or so ago, I was on the hunt for a “real” banana cream pie recipe, one that didn’t use banana flavored pudding and a pie crust. I couldn’t find one for beans! And I was researching this on the internet for daaaaays. No, I didn’t go down to the library, though I have occasionally flipped through cookbooks I come across in book stores or elsewhere, and I still had no luck.

Luckily, the handy-dandy Baking at Home with the Culinary Institute of America helped me out. Not only do they have a recipe for banana cream pie, it uses ACTUAL BANANAS. And not pudding. Well, it could be pudding, if you wanted to completely overload on creamy goodness. It smells a lot like tapioca pudding when it starts cooling. And I loves me some tapioca pudding.

Banana Cream Pie

1 recipe for single-crust Pie Dough
2 medium-ripe bananas
1/2 cup heavy cream
chocolate shavings for garnish
2 cups Pastry Cream

Banana Cream Pie

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Roll out the pie dough use it to line a 9-inch pie pan. Fully blind bake the crust. (Blind baking entails lining the crust in the pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper, and weighing it down with pie weights or dried beans, and baking for 10-12 minutes, then removing the weights and foil/paper and baking for a further 6-8 minutes until it is golden brown and purty.)

 

Let cool to room temperature in the pan on a rack.

Pastry Cream

1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup sugar (divided)
2 cups whole milk (divided)
4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 pinch salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp unsalted butter

Combine the cornstarch with 1/4 cup of the sugar in a mixing bow, then stir in 1/2 cup of the milk. Blend the yolks into the cornstarch mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until completely smooth.

Prepare an ice bath. Combine the remaining 1 1/2 cups milk with the remaining 1/2 cup sugars and the salt in a non-reactive saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat.

Temper the egg mixture by gradually adding about one-third of the hot milk mixture, whisking constantly. Add the remaining milk mixture to the eggs. Return the mixture to the saucepan and continue cooking over medium heat, vigorously stirring with a whisk, until the mixture comes to a boil and the whisk leaves a trail in the pastry cream, 5-7 minutes. As soon as the pastry cream reaches this stage, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract and the butter. Transfer the pan to the ice bath. Stir occasionally until the pastry cream is cool, about 30 minutes.

 

The cream started to thicken rather suddenly while heating. I had to keep a very close eye on it. Also, it likes to start developing a skin, so you do need to stir it more than occasionally.

Banana Cream Pie

Stir the pastry cream until it is light and smooth. Thinly slice the bananas into the pastry cream. Fold the bananas and pastry cream together and spread in an even layer in the cooled pie shell. (I was fine with a banana and a half, though I could have probably exponentially increased the awesomeness if I had added that last bit of banana.)

Whip the cream in a chilled bowl until it holds a medium peak when the whisk is turned upright. Spread or pipe the whipped cream on top of the pie and garnish with chocolate shavings. Chill for at least 2 hours before slicing and serving.

You don’t have any idea how hard it was to get the whipped cream to not look super un-detailed.

While I was waiting for the pie to fridgidate, I made an awesome dinner. Will try to get this couple of recipes posted when I can, because they were awesome!

Thai noodle salad with fried chicken cubes with sweet chili sauce. So good.

Spiced Chocolate Torte with Chocolate Ribbons

I really didn’t think I’d be doing anything else that would be considered vaguely valentiny, but it happened anyway. I had an excess of the buttercream filling from the molded chocolates, so I figured that was a good enough excuse to make the cake the filling goes with. I first made this cake for my birthday a month ago, and it was amazingly delicious, almost illegally sexy in its chocolate loveliness. But I also kind of made a mess of it, mostly because I had no experience whatsoever with modeling chocolate. I have no idea what I was expecting when I tried to make the ribbons, but it turned out absolutely terrible.

Yeah, not much to look at, but oh! was it good. I had been hoping to revisit the recipe and see if I could make it turn out a bit better, and this was the perfect excuse.

Do beware that this recipe takes some time, not least because you have to melt about 42oz chocolate in various amounts at various points. I generally use Dove chocolates because they melt nicely and have a good flavor, but pretty much any decent chocolate will do. For white chocolate, I recommend Guittard or Ghirardelli chips.

Spiced Chocolate Torte Wrapped in Chocolate Ribbons

cake

1 1/2 cup (3 sticks) butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
8 eggs, separated, room temperature
10 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), melted, lukewarm
1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp each ground cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg
1 1/3 cups unbleached flour, sifted
pinch of salt
pinch of cream of tartar

buttercream

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup (agave syrup works wonderfully)
4 jumbo egg yolks
1 1/2 cup (3 sticks) butter, cut into small pieces, room temperature (cut into pieces before warming – makes things much easier)
6 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), melted and cooled (but still pourable)
1/4 cup dark rum

glaze

12 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), chopped
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
2 tbsp honey
3/4 tsp instant coffee powder

chocolate ribbons

7 oz high-quality white chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup light corn syrup or agave syrup, divided
7 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), broken into pieces

I know, a whole lot of stuff. Make sure everything is ready before you start – you’ll regret it if you don’t.

cake

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter and flour three 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 11/2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of each cake pan with waxed paper; butter and flour waxed paper. (This is where the heart-shaped pans came in: I have no matching cake pans. I actually only have three cake pans, and they’re springform pans in three sizes. Yes, I could have just cut them down to the size of the smallest one, or done them one at a time, but I figured I’d go up to Mikal’s dad’s house to see what his cake pan selection looked like. The only two pans he had of matching size and shape were the heart pans, so I went for it. Frankly, you do need three pans for the batter – if you are gentle enough with folding the ingredients in, the batter expands quite a bit.)

Using electric mixer, cream butter in large bowl. Gradually beat in sugar until smooth. Beat in egg yolks 1 at a time. Blend in melted chocolate. Slowly mix in pecans, vanilla, and spices. Gently fold in flour in 4 batches (batter will be very thick and dense).

This is the batter before the flour. You’ll need a really large bowl for this stuff. 

Using electric mixer fitted with clean dry beaters, beat egg whites with salt and cream of tartar in another large bowl until medium peaks form.

Remember to start beating the egg white at a high speed. You’ll notice a lot of air bubbles 

Gently fold 1/4 of whites into batter to lighten, then fold in remaining whites. Divide batter among prepared pans, spreading evenly. Bake until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Run knife around sides of each cake. Let stand 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto racks. Cool to room temperature.

They came out a bit large. I would recommend doing three layers if you can. I forgot to butter and flour the parchment, it’s a bit pockmarked. 

buttercream

Stir sugar and corn syrup in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil 1 minute. Meanwhile, using electric mixer, beat egg yolks in medium bowl until pale and thick. Gradually beat in hot sugar syrup; continue beating until mixture is completely cool, about 5 minutes. Beat in butter 1 piece at a time, incorporating each piece completely before adding next. Blend in melted chocolate, then rum. (If buttercream looks broken or curdled, place bowl with buttercream over medium heat on stove burner and whisk 5 to 10 seconds to warm mixture slightly, then remove from heat and beat mixture again on medium speed. Repeat warming and beating as many times as needed until buttercream is smooth.)

Reserve 1/2 cup buttercream. Set 1 cake layer, flat side up, on rack; spread with half of remaining buttercream.

Since I had the orange and raspberry buttercream from the Valentine’s chocolates, I striped the two flavors across the cake rather than mixing it together or halving it or something. This way each bite will have a slightly different flavor. 

Top with second cake layer; spread with remaining buttercream. Top with third cake layer; use reserved 1/2 cup buttercream to fill in seam where cake layers meet. Freeze cake until buttercream is firm, about 2 hours.

glaze

Stir all ingredients in top of double boiler over gently simmering water until mixture is smooth. Remove from over water. Stir until glaze is thickened, about 5 minutes (do not allow glaze to set).

Pour 3/4 of glaze over top of cake. Carefully and quickly tilt cake back and forth so glaze coats sides; smooth sides with spatula, adding some of remaining glaze where necessary. Chill cake until glaze is set. (Let it completely set – trying to lace the ribbons when it’s not fully set results in sad marrings in the glaze.)

chocolate ribbons

Melt white chocolate in top of double boiler over gently simmering water; stir until smooth. Stir in 1/4 cup corn syrup. (Do be sure to scrape all the syrup out of your measuring utensil, otherwise your ribbon strips will tend toward dryness and be hard to bend.) Pour onto baking sheet. Chill until firm, 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer white chocolate to work surface and knead several minutes. Shape white chocolate dough into ball. Wrap in plastic. Let white chocolate dough stand at room temperature 1 hour.

Repeat with bittersweet chocolate and remaining 1/4 cup corn syrup.

When you undertake this project, don’t start it in the evening unless you’re planning on being up a long time. By the time I got to the step of putting the modeling chocolate in the fridge for 30-40 minutes, I was tired, so I figured I’d pick it back up in the morning. When my alarm went off the next morning at five, I found that the chocolate had set and was absolutely useless. I had to restart that whole process and put some alarms on to remind me on timing for the steps. 

Cut white chocolate dough into 4 pieces. Flatten 1 piece into rectangle. Turn pasta machine to widest setting. Run chocolate through 3 times, folding into thirds before each run. Adjust machine to next narrower setting. Run chocolate through machine without folding. If chocolate is more than 1/16 inch thick, run through next narrower setting. Lay chocolate piece on rimless baking sheet. Repeat flattening, folding, and rolling with remaining chocolate pieces. Repeat process with bittersweet chocolate dough.

Cut four 8×1-inch strips from rolled white chocolate dough and four 8×1/2-inch strips from rolled bittersweet chocolate dough. Center bittersweet chocolate strips atop white chocolate strips to form 4 ribbons. Run 1 ribbon from base of cake to center. Arrange remaining 3 chocolate ribbons equidistant from each other in same fashion so ribbons meet in center (Step 1).

Cut ten 6 1/2×1-inch strips from rolled white chocolate dough and ten 61/2×1/2-inch strips from rolled bittersweet chocolate dough. Center bittersweet chocolate strips atop white chocolate strips to form 10 ribbons. Cut ends off 2 ribbons on diagonal. Starting at center, drape ribbons over top and sides of cake to form trailers. To form loops for bows, fold remaining 8 ribbons in half, layered side out. Cut ends into V shapes (Step 2). Arrange ribbon halves with V shapes at center of cake to form bow (Step 3).

The first time I made this cake, I guess I expected the modeling chocolate to set much more quickly than it did. My ribbons came out floppy and I had to prop them up with wine corks. I found that after an hour of driving and another couple of hours in a cold room that they set nicely…. it just takes a while. This time, I decided to manipulate them more purposefully, and let my ribbons set with a cork and a marker to preserve form. It worked quite nicely, though would have been better if I had refrigerated. 

Cut one 3×1-inch strip of white chocolate and one 3×1/2-inch strip of bittersweet chocolate. Center bittersweet chocolate strip atop white chocolate strip. Fold in ends of chocolate strips and pinch to resemble knot; place in center of bow. Carefully transfer cake to serving platter or cake stand.

I had to wipe the powdered sugar off with a damp towel…. Just be sure to do that step before you assemble the cake – you can see some spots I couldn’t get to because I didn’t want to mess up the glaze. 

This turned out much better than my first attempt as far as presentation, and my cake turned out fluffier this time. The only issue I have with beating the eggs is that while the top gets nice and fluffed with my kitchenaid mixer on setting 6 or so, there is still quite a bit at the bottom under the fluff that doesn’t get touched, and I ended up keeping that part back so that it didn’t weigh down the cake. I’m not sure if that’s a “normal” behavior for kitchenaid mixers… I use the whisk, so it shouldn’t happen. It doesn’t happen with whipped cream, at least not as far as I can remember. Does anyone have any suggestions?