Summer's Heating Up!

It's finally hot in New York...and I mean approaching three digits HOT!!! So, who in their right mind would want to heat up their kitchen right now!

This tart is your Fourth of July solution...a mix and press tart shell, whipped mascarpone, and fresh berries. ( make it even easier, buy a tart shell from the store, and you won't even need to turn on the oven.) However, for you die hard do-it-yourselfer's we've included a no roll tart shell recipe. 


FOR THE CRUST | Yield 1-9" Tart Shell

200 g  All Purpose Flour

50 g  Powdered Sugar

1/4 t  Salt

10 T  Butter, diced and cold

1 ea  Egg

1/4 t  Vanilla extract

1. Combine the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor, pulse a couple of times to combine. 

2. Add the butter, and pulse until mixture resembles course meal.

3. Add the egg and vanilla and pulse a few more times, or until the mixture starts to clump and pull away from the sides of the bowl. 

4. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9" tart shell; freeze for one hour.

5. Line the shell with parchment and fill with either pie weights, rice, or dry beans.

6. Bake the shell in a preheated oven, at 350F for 20 minutes.

7. Remove pie weights, dock shell with fork, and bake for another 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

FOR THE FILLING | Yield 1-9" Tart Shell

14 oz  Mascarpone Cheese

1/2 c  Heavy Cream

50 g  Powdered Sugar

1 ea  Lemon Zest

1 ea  Vanilla Bean, scraped

1 pt  Raspberries

1 pt  Blueberries

1 pt  Blackberries

1 pt  Strawberries, halved

1. Combine the cheese, cream, sugar, zest and vanilla. Whip with an electric mixer until medium peaks form. This takes about 90 seconds. 

2. Reserve some of the filling in a piping bag fitted with a plain tip. Spread the remaining filling in an even layer in the tart shell. 

3. Pipe random kisses of the mascarpone on the top of the tart.

4. Scatter blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberry halves across the top of the tart. 


Chocolate Stout Cake

Celebrate Saint Patrick's Day

Saint Patrick’s Day means one thing to me: Spring is finally here…at least I hope! I realize that for many people it means a night of drunken debauchery centered around green beer, and in my college days that was certainly along my lines of thought. However, I’m no longer 21½, and the thought of drinking light beer tinged with green food coloring triggers my gag reflex.

We’ve had three nor’easters’ in 11 days (talk about a tough return from vacation!), and the only green I want to see are the buds on the trees and maybe a daffodil or a tulip popping up from under the snow. So far unfortunately, our vigilant weathermen are calling for more snow on the first day of spring, which means I’ll have to wait a bit longer for the verdant signs of spring.

To help celebrate the upcoming weekend of Irish themed debauchery, I’ve made a Chocolate Stout Cake with Bailey’s Bavarian and Espresso Buttercream, and it doesn’t call for a single drop of green food coloring.



Chocolate Stout Cake with Bailey’s Bavarian

Chocolate Stout Cake | (2) 8” Rounds

10.5 oz  Stout Beer (Guinness, to keep with the Irish theme)

10.5 oz  Butter, unsalted

85 g  Cocoa Powder, dutch process

330 g  AP Flour

534 g  Sugar

2t  Baking Soda

1t  Salt

134g  Eggs

10.5 oz  Sour Cream  

1.      Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and line (with parchment paper) two 8-inch round cake pans.

2.      Bring the stout and butter to a simmer in a heavy large saucepan. Add cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Set aside.

3.      Whisk to combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in large bowl to blend, set aside.

4.      With an whisk or electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture and beat just to combine.

5.      Fold in flour mixture and stir just until batter is homogenous.

6.      Divide batter equally between the two pans.

7.      Bake until tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes.

8.      Cool 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto rack and cool completely.

Bailey’s Bavarian Cream | 1 quart

150 g  Milk

150 g  Cream

5 ea  Egg Yolks

70 g  Sugar

100 g  Bailey’s Irish Cream

250 g  Heavy Cream

3 ea  Gelatin sheets

1.      Bloom gelatin in ice water for 10 minutes; squeeze out excess water and set aside.

2.      Combine milk, cream and sugar in a small, heavy bottom saucepan; bring to a simmer.

3.      Make a liaison with the hot milk mixture and the egg yolks, return all to medium heat and cook to 180°F. Remove from heat, stir in gelatin to dissolve, and strain. Cool mixture to 70°F and add Bailey’s Irish cream.

4.      Whip heavy cream to medium peak. Fold into Bailey’s mixture in three additions. Set aside.

Cake Assembly | (1) 8” Cake

1.      Split the two 8” cake rounds so that you have 4 even cake layers.

2.      Line an 8” cake ring with an acetate collar. (Acetate works best here, but parchment paper will suffice as a substitute.)

3.      Optional: place a cardboard cake round in the bottom of the cake ring, this isn’t essential, but it will facilitate transferring the cake during the frosting process.

4.      Place one cake layer in the bottom, top with 1/3 of the Bailey’s Bavarian. Place another cake layer, and 1/3 of the Bavarian. Repeat; top with last cake layer. Chill for 8 hours or overnight, so that the gelatin has ample time to set.

Espresso Buttercream| 1½  quart

1 lb  Butter, unsalted, and softened

8 oz  Sugar

4 oz  Egg Whites

2 oz  Espresso, cool

1.      Combine egg whites and sugar in a heat proof bowl over barely simmering water. Whisk constantly until all of the sugar is dissolved, or until the mixture reaches 145°F. If you use pasteurized whites, then you don’t need to worry about the temperature.

2.      Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Continue to whip the mixture at medium high speed until slightly warmer than room temperature. Slowly piece in the butter.

3.      Once the butter is completely mixed in slowly pour in the espresso. Mix until homogenous.

Chocolate Glaze | 1 quart

This is much more glaze than you’ll need, but it keeps very well in the refrigerator and is also and excellent ice cream topping.

125 g  Water

56 g  Cocoa

18 g  Sugar

6 g  Apple Pectin

170 g  Agave

227 g  Sugar

170 g  Bittersweet Chocolate

170 g  Butter, cubed

1 t  Vanilla Extract

½ t  Salt

1.      In mixing bowl, whisk to combine water, cocoa, sugar and apple pectin into a thick paste.

2.      Melt chocolate and butter over double boiler, set aside.

3.      In a medium, heavy bottom sauce pan, combine agave and sugar; bring to a boil. Add cocoa paste mixture and cook to 220°F.

4.      Pour syrup over melted butter and chocolate. Add vanilla and salt; burr mix to emulsify.

5.      Set aside to cool.


Finish the Cake

1.      I recommend separating the frosting, particularly during the crumb coat, so that you keep your final layer of frosting free of cake crumbs.

2.      Separate 1/3 of the buttercream for the crumb coat. Spread a paper-thin layer of buttercream around the top and sides of the cake. Chill for 15 minutes.

3.      Reserve 1/2 of the remaining buttercream for piping decoration.

4.      Use the other 1/2 of buttercream for the final frosting layer.  

5.      If making the chocolate drip, chill the cake for an hour before doing so.

6.      If necessary, gently warm the chocolate glaze, in short bursts in the microwave, stirring frequently. It’s ideal to use around 95°F, which is only slightly cooler than body temperature.

7.      With the aid of a squeeze bottle or piping bag, carefully drizzle the glaze around the outer edge of the cake. Let set.

8.      Pipe any final embellishments you may desire.





Creamsicle Cake

A Product of My Vacation Brain


It happens to the best of us. Though there always seem to be a tremendous amount of work to be done before we can take that first step into freedom, it’s inevitable that the closer our vacation date comes, the harder and harder it is to maintain focus. For me this is especially true in the winter. Let’s face it, unless you’re Chloe Kim or Mikaela Shiffrin, winter can really be the pits. I’ve never been very fast or very graceful on skis or a snowboard; though I have tried, and tried, and tried.

These days I opt for vacations closer to the equator, and in five short days, I’m off to Miami and The Keys. Naturally, the sunshine state is all I can think about…between the beaches, the citrus, the beaches, the ceviche, the beaches, the café cubanos, the beaches, the art deco…did I mention the beaches? It’s a wonder I even manage to walk through the door at work let alone actually bake something. I nearly destroyed the bread today…I forgot to set a timer for it’s second proofing…nearly. After 8 years of professional baking, you can’t help but develop a honed internal timer. Still, I’ve been spending most of my days dreaming of sunshine and blue skies, and I can’t wait to get on that plane.

I didn’t really see any reason to fight my wandering mind this week, so I just went with it, and made this sunny Creamsicle Cake, which wouldn’t be possible without all the glorious citrus coming out of Florida. It also wouldn’t be possible without the incredibly careful experimenting of Eileen Gray, the moment I read her recipe for white cake, I knew I would love it and I was right. It’s as velvety as the name claims; I made it exactly as she states but with the addition of loads of orange zest. I hope this cake helps brighten any winter blues you may be fighting.

Zesty White Cake | 2-8” Rounds

Adapted from Eileen Gray at Baking Sense:

285 g  Cake flour

¾ t  Baking powder

¾ t  Salt

½ t  Baking soda

340 g  Sugar, divided

283 g  Butter, room temperature

230 g  Sour cream, room temperature

1T  Vanilla extract

Zest of 6 Oranges

6 ea  Egg whites


1.       Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two 8” cake pans with a circle of parchment, or butter and flour the bottom only.

2.       Sift the dry ingredients along with 1 cup of the granulated sugar.

3.       Mix the dry ingredients on low speed for 30 seconds to distribute the leavening agents.

4.       With the mixer on low, add half the sour cream and toss in the butter a tablespoon at a time.

5.       Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.

6.       With the mixer on low speed, add the remaining sour cream, vanilla and orange zest.

7.       Increase the speed to medium and beat about 3-4 minutes until the batter lightens in texture and becomes aerated.

8.       Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure there are now pockets of unmixed batter.

9.       In another bowl, whip the egg whites on medium high until the form soft peaks.

10.   Turn the mixer to medium low and slowly add the remaining sugar.

11.   Turn the speed to medium high and whip the whites to full peak.

12.   Fold the whites into the base in three additions.

13.   Fold just until there are no streaks of egg white.

14.   Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and spread to level.

15.   Bake 25-20 minutes until the center of the cake springs back when lightly pressed.

16.   Cool 10 minutes in the pan and then turn out onto a cooling rack.

17.   Once cool, split each cake into two layers.

Creamsicle Pastry Cream | Yield: 1 quart

1 ½ c  Heavy cream

78 g  Sugar

1 ea  Egg

1 ea  Yolk

42 g  Pastry cream powder

78 g  Sugar

1 T  Lemon juice

1 c  Orange juice concentrate

1 oz  Butter, room temperature

1.       Whisk to combine the second measure of sugar with the pastry cream powder, egg and yolk.

2.       Bring to a boil the cream and first measure of sugar.

3.       Temper hot cream into egg mixture while whisking constantly; add orange and lemon juices.

4.       Return all to medium high heat and bring back to a boil while whisking constantly. Cook for about 2 minutes.

5.       Remove from heat, whisk in butter. Keep whisking until it is fully incorporated.

6.       Chill in a shallow dish, in the refrigerator, with plastic wrap directly on its surface.

7.       Once cool, whip pastry cream for about 1 minute, just to soften. Use either a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or a hand held mixer.

Orange Blossom Whip Cream | Yield 1 pt

1 pt  Heavy cream

1 ea  Gelatin sheets

30 g  Sugar

10 g  Orange Blossom Water

1.       Bloom the gelatin: fill a container with enough ice water to cover the gelatin. Add the gelatin and submerge completely. Set aside for ~10 minutes, then squeeze to drain excess water.

2.       Heat approximately ¼ cup of the cream just to scalding. Remove from heat and whisk in the sugar and the gelatin to dissolve.

3.       Slowly temper in remaining cream. Chill at least one hour before whipping, overnight is best.

4.       Whip the cream to medium peaks and use to frost your cake as desired.


2 ea  Zesty white cake rounds, split

1 qt  Creamsicle Pastry Cream

1 pt  Orange Blossom Cream, whipped

4 ea  Cara Cara orange supremes

1.       Place a cardboard circle inside an 8” cake ring mold.

2.       Place one cake layer on top of the cardboard circle and top with 1/3 of the filling, spreading evenly.

3.       Place a second cake layer on top and add another 1/3 of the filling. Repeat.

4.       Finally, place the last cake layer on top.

5.       Wrap the cake with plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour or overnight.

6.       Unmold the cake and crumb coat. Chill for 15 minutes.

7.       I finished the cake in the picture by piping vertical lines with a star tip, but any manner of finishing techniques would be appropriate.

8.       Lastly, I garnish with the supremes of 4 cara cara oranges to indicate the flavor of the filling.

I love both the pink hue and hint of grapefruit that comes from cara cara oranges, but honestly you could use navel or mandarin oranges here as well. Hope you enjoy baking this as much as I did.