Decadent Dragon Bakery » Cakes desserts crafted with gourmet, local and unique ingredients. Sun, 15 Dec 2013 04:44:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Retro Carrot Cake Sun, 24 Mar 2013 17:05:57 +0000 Organic old fashion carrot cake

This Retro Carrot Cake is packed with spiced goodness and topped with a creamy cloud of *Cream Cheese Swiss Meringue Buttercream.*
(say THAT 3 times fast!).

Out walking the dog, I landed a major garage sale find last weekend. I’m not usually one for garage sales but this one was special. It was the rare garage sale where older neighbors are moving and everything had to go. Amid the linens, cheese knives, smoker and copper pans I found a Cuisinart. Not just any Cuisinart, a vintage Cuisinart!

Because of my vintage Cuisinart, I’ve been feeling in a retro sort of mood lately. When I baked a ‘lil carrrot cake for my Dad’s birthday, I used my Cuisinart and went with a retro photo theme, too.

The holy grail of Cuisinarts – a genuine 1970’s era DLC-7 Super Pro model made in Japan. All the bells and whistles: a white & brown knit cover (seriously!!), 11 blades for dicing ‘n slicing, even a meringue egg whipping attachment. All of it in mint condition. Priced at $75, I bargained her down to $50, then $40 for this awesome piece of history.

This baby is powerful. I couldn’t wait to test her out! For my father’s birthday, I baked a carrot cake which, as you may know, involves a lot of grating of carrots. By hand, it takes 8, maybe 10 minutes of grating [and lots of scraped fingers, in my case]. With this Cuisinart, we’re talking secondsYeah, baby!

Retro carrot cake close up

Oraganic carrots for carrot cake

For the best carrot cake, use fresh, young, organic carrots. My ideal would be locally grown but my CSA isn’t selling any right now. So I purchased the organic carrots at my local supermarket.

The carrot cake is amazing. I make this recipe for my mom, dad AND husband every year for their birthdays. It’s a dense cake that pairs really well with the creamy tang of cream cheese frosting.

One thing I need to say: The frosting I made for the cake this time – Cream Cheese SMB – while light as air it gave me SO much trouble. It took over an hour to get the cream cheese to fully emulsify. Once I get the frosting recipe ironed out, I’ll post it but I didn’t want to recommend it just yet…

For now, just pair this retro carrot cake with your favorite cream cheese icing.

Retro Carrot Cake

Adapted from All Recipes Carrot Cake
Prep Time: 45 minutes | Bake Time: 35-40 minutes | Oven: 350 F
Makes 2, 9″ carrot cake rounds

2 cups White Sugar
2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Salt
4 tsp Ground Cinnamon
2 tsp Ground Ginger
1 tsp Ground Cloves
1 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 1/2 cups Vegetable Oil
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
4 Eggs
3 cups Carrots, Grated
1 cup Walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)
1 cup Raisins (optional)

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F. To make your life easier, grease and line the baking pan with parchment rounds (otherwise you may have trouble getting the cake out of the pans).

2. Grate 3 cups of fresh carrots. If you have a Cuisinart, use it!

3. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, salt, spices, baking soda, vanilla and oil. Beat the eggs in one at a time. Stir in the carrots, walnuts and raisins.

Cracking eggs for carrot cake

4. Pour batter into your prepared pans and bake for up to 40 minutes. Check the cake with a toothpick for doneness.

5. Remove pans from oven and cool on a wire rack.

6. Ice my retro carrot cake with your favorite frosting and enjoy!

Retro carrot cake partially devoured

Too much icing? This is how my family likes it. And remember SMB is not too sweet. 

Like I mentioned above, the frosting was temperamental  But I think Cream Cheese Swiss Meringue Buttercream has so much potential. It’s tangy, buttery and not too sweet. Do you have a favorite cream cheese frosting recipe? Let me know in the comments!

– Beth the Baker



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Martha Stewart’s Flourless Chocolate Cake Mon, 18 Feb 2013 19:47:40 +0000 Martha Stewart's Flourless Chocolate Cake

Looking for a simple crowd-pleasing cake? Have a gluten-free friend you’re entertaining? Try this rich Flourless Chocolate Cake from Martha Stewart!

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of hanging out with my new friend, Kristina. Being Sunday, we planned on maximizing relaxation. The game plan:

Brunch at a local restaurant.

2 mile walk to undo the effects of brunch.

Bake a decadent dessert.

The dessert we chose had to be simple…because that’s how we roll. So Kristina found this recipe from Martha Stewart.

Even though it was simple, it was SO good! We each had a slice of this decadent chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce.

Martha Stewart’s Flourless Chocolate Cake
See Original Recipe on Martha’s Site – ours includes weight measurements.
Prep Time: 20 minutes | Bake Time: 45-55 minutes

6 tbsp / 85 g  Butter, unsalted
8 oz / 225 g Semi or Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped
6 large Eggs, separated (room temperature is best)
1/2 cup / 115 g  White Sugar
Powdered Sugar, for dusting
Raspberry Coulis, optional

Preheat your oven to 300F. Butter the bottom and sides (all the way up!) of a 9 or 10 inch springform pan.

Put butter and chocolate into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds at a time, then stir until melted. Be careful not to burn the chocolate. Let cool to lukewarm.

While cooling, separate the eggs. Make sure that no yolk gets into your whites. Beat the yolks into the cooled chocolate mixture.

Place your egg whites into the bowl of your stand mixer. Add a pinch of the sugar. Beat the whites on medium speed to soft peaks. Continue beating, and slowly add sugar. Beat until glossy stiff peaks form.

Martha Stewart Flourless Chocolate Cake Batter

Add 1/4 of your whipped egg whites to the chocolate mixture. Mix it in with a spatula. Gently fold the remaining whites in 2 additions into the chocolate mixture. You want to mix until the batter is a single color but don’t overmix. Try to fold the whites in with as few, gentle strokes as possible to avoid deflating your batter.

Place pan in the center of the oven and turn temperature down to 275F. Bake until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and the center is set. This should take between 40 and 55 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Flourless Chocolate Cake in Pan

When cool, remove sides of pan. Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar, vanilla ice cream and raspberry coulis.

Flourless Chocolate Cake


- Beth

]]> 7 The BEST Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes Sat, 12 Jan 2013 20:07:53 +0000 Best Vegan Chocolate Cupcake PassionfruitThese are moist, tender little cupcake morsels packed with chocolate flavor. Oh yes, and these happen to be vegan chocolate cupcakes! Pair them with your favorite vegan (or non-vegan) icing for a decidedly decadent treat.

I made these little cupcakes with a fair amount of trepidation. Cake without eggs? How unnatural! Would they be terribly dry? Would the cupcakes fail to rise and instead resemble brown hockey pucks? I took the plunge with my vegan neighbor coming to dinner. I was prepared to grab my car keys and run to Whole Foods for a vegan dessert if they were a flop.

Color me surprised when the cupcakes emerged from the oven looking just like…cupcakes. Disbelieving, I quickly grabbed one and pulled its steaming little body apart for a taste test. Tender, check; moist, check; fully-leavened, check.

In fact, I loved these cupcakes so much I barely managed a picture before we devoured them.

Chocolate Cocoa Cupcakes
Prep Time: 15 minutes | Makes 18 Cupcakes
Oven Temp: 375 F | Bake Time: 10-12 minutes
Adapted from Moosewood’s 6-Minute Cake [OK, so I'm slow!]

1 & 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/3 cup Cocoa Powder (Ghirardelli or other good quality cocoa is best)
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
1 cup Cold Water or Coffee (or use 1 tbsp instant espresso with water)
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 tbsp Vinegar (I used Apple Cider Vinegar)

Pre-heat oven to 375F. Prepare your pan with cupcake liners.

[Interesting side-note, Thomas Keller recommends pre-heating long enough for your oven to reach temperature and cycle on and off three (3) times or at least 45 minutes.]

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and sugar in large mixing bowl. Mix to combine.

In a measuring bowl, combine vegetable oil, water or coffee and vanilla extract. Add liquid mixture to your dry ingredients. Mix batter until smooth (around 1-2 minutes by hand).

Add the vinegar and stir quickly to combine. Stir just until the vinegar is evenly distributed. You’ll see the vinegar reacting and forming bubbles with the baking soda. You don’t want to let too much of that leavening reaction escape.

Pour your batter into your cupcake tins. Bake 10-12 minutes. Test for doneness around 10 minutes with a toothpick – it will come out clean when the cupcakes are cooked. Let your cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack.

Easy Vegan Icing
1/2 cup Vegan Margarine
1/2 cup Shortening
3 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar (sifted if clumpy)
3 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 -3 tbsp cup Soy/Almond Milk (if needed for thinning)

Beat the vegan margarine and shortening together on medium speed with your mixer until fully combined and fluffy (around 3-5 minutes). Turn the mixer off and add 3.5 cups of powdered sugar. Turn the mixer on low until the powdered sugar has been incorporated, then increase the speed to medium and beat until well combined (about 4 more minutes).  Add vanilla extract and milk, if needed. Mix another 2 minutes.

Tips: I like to beat the heck out of shortening based frosting as I find it improves the mouth-feel (less gritty/greasy). If you prefer your icing less sweet, you may want to add the sugar in stages until you reach your desired sweetness. Dissolving a little salt with the liquids can draw back the sweetness somewhat, too.

To Make Passionfruit Icing: Instead of vanilla extract, add 3-4 tbsp of passionfruit puree (I get mine from the frozen section of Mexican markets in the bay area). You will not need to add the milk as the puree will thin the icing. Optional: top the cupcake with Valrhona Dark Chocolate Pearls.

To Make Vanilla Bean Icing: Add ground vanilla beans or the contents of a vanilla bean pod to the icing. (I get my ground vanilla beans from Amazon.)



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Martha Stewart’s Fish Cake Fri, 11 Jan 2013 22:28:01 +0000 Martha Fish Cake

When I saw Martha Stewart’s Fish Cake on Pinterest, I just had to do it for myself. This is a fun, whimsical cake any beginner baker can pull off…swimmingly.

To start the new year off right, I decided to try my hand at this adorable little fish cake. I don’t typically make resolutions but if I did, my resolution would be to spend more time doing the things I enjoy most – like baking ridiculously shaped animal cakes.

Martha Stewart has a full tutorial and templates for making the Fish Cake on her website. I made a few basic changes, including subbing a chocolate cake with chocolate chips. Because you can never pack too much chocolate into a cake.

For Christmas, I received a Made in USA 13 x 9 pan from my Mom. It worked beautifully for baking the two (2) sheet cakes necessary to put this cutie pie together.

Fish Cake Side ViewI kept wondering what filet I’d choose once the cake was finished.

Martha Stewart’s Fish Cake

Part 1: Chocolate Cake Recipe
Prep Time: 20-25 minutes | Bake Time: 20-25 minutes | Oven Temp: 350 F
Makes 1, 9 x 13 cake | Modified from Love from the Oven’s Recipe 

2 cups Sugar
1 3/4 cups All-purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
3/4 cup Cocoa Powder (I used Ghirardelli)
1 cup Milk
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
3/4 cup Boiling Water
1/4 cup Espresso or Strong Coffee (or add instant espresso to 1 cup boiling water)
1 cup Chocolate Chips (Optional)

NOTE: The recipe above makes ONE sheet cake. You will need to make TWO sheet cakes to create the fish. You can try doubling this recipe for two pans but I have not tested it.

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease your pan and line bottom with parchment paper to prevent sticking. If you don’t have parchment, flour the pans too [and pray to the non-sticking gods].

Mix together sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cocoa in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs, milk, vegetable oil, vanilla extract and mix on medium speed for two (2) minutes. Scrape mixing bowl to ensure ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Stir in boiling water and coffee to the batter. The batter will be thin and watery but don’t worry! Pour the batter into your pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Test with a toothpick. When toothpick comes out clean, the cake is ready. Remove cake from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Let cool for 10 minutes and then remove from pans onto a wire rack. Let cool completely. If not ready to frost yet, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze for longer storage.

Part 2: Prepare the Frosting
I recommend Swiss Meringue Buttercream (here’s a good recipe from SmittenKitchen) frosting but just about any frosting will do for this cake.  Prepare PLENTY, around 8 cups. If using Smitten’s recipe, I would do a double batch of the 9-inch cake. You don’t want to ration your frosting…it’s no fun.

Reserve 1 cup of un-dyed, white frosting to color the fish eyes.

Tint the rest of your frosting a light teal color. I tinted my frosting with Wilton’s Cornflower Blue and Yellow. You can also use teal or other blue and yellow colors to achieve the teal effect. Or try different colors if you’d like to be adventurous!

Part 3: Prepare the Template
While your cakes are cooling, prepare your fishy templates. Print out the template from Martha Stewart’s website. With scissors or a sharp razor, cut the templates out.

Cutting out template

One thing I’ve found alleviates frustration in the kitchen is having the right tools for the job. My husband’s razor blade and my cutting mat (found in a sewing supply store) made this job so easy. I also used the razor to cut parchment paper for my pan.

Next, lay the fish templates over your sheet cakes and use a knife to trim to size.

Fish template on cakeFish Cut Out

Your trim job doesn’t have to be perfect. You’ll be icing this sucker up in a moment and that will cover up any minor defects. You’ll also have a bunch of little fish parts ready to be tacked on to the cake with your icing.

Part 4: Ice the Cakes
Start with a crumb coat to trap pesky moist chocolate crumbs. If your cake has been in the fridge/freezer, let it come back up to room temperature before you start icing.

Do your crumb coat with a small amount of frosting (perhaps 1 cup). If your frosting is thick, you can thin some of it a little with milk or cream. Attach the fish parts to the body with frosting. The purpose of this coat is to just catch and hold on to all those crumbs. Use the white icing to coat the fish eyes.

Crumb coat

After you finish your crumb coat, stick your cake back in the fridge to harden the frosting. Wait 30 minutes and then feel the frosting to see if it has dried out / crusted. If it hasn’t, wait a bit longer.

Pull your cake out and let it warm up a little before applying the next coat. Apply a full coat of frosting to completely cover the cake. Coat the eyes in white frosting. You can also even out the shape of the fish body while you’re doing this.

Add the texturing to the fish fins with a spatula. (Martha Stewart shows how to do this with a spatula.)

Take the rest of your teal icing and add a bunch of blue/a little yellow to darken it to a deeper teal blue.

Grab a pastry bag and a Wilton or Ateco petal tip (#61 or similar). Fill the bag with the darkened icing. Pipe little overlapping scales starting at the tail end of your fish and piping vertically until the body of the fish is covered.

Fish Cake Scales

Add the pupils and lips to the fish using candy. I used Valhrona Chocolate Pearls and some red tic-tacs. Martha Stewart uses sunflower seeds and a gummy lifesaver.

And there you have it. A finished fishy!

Fish Cake

Update: wanted to post a photo of the half-eaten cake. Too ridiculous?

Photo Jan 09, 2 26 59 PM

]]> 6 Chocolate Tiramisu Sun, 23 Dec 2012 19:54:27 +0000 Tiramisu Slice

So what do you do with a few dozen fresh-baked ladyfinger cookies burning a hole in your pantry? You make creamy Chocolate Tiramisu, that’s what.

Tiramisu. Chocolate. Tiramisu + Chocolate.


Tiramisu on a Plate

Two of my favorite things. Combined into one amazingly, amazing dessert. Not for the Italian purists, perhaps. But definitely for chocolate fiends or those interested in a fun twist on the classic dessert.

Let me walk you through it.

Chocolate Tiramisu

Prep Time: 45 minutes | Fridge Time: 6 hours
Makes 9 x 5 loaf pan | Adapted from Food Network

2 tbsp Whipping Cream
1/4 cup Chopped Chocolate or Chocolate Chips
4 large Egg Yolks
1/3 cup White Sugar
1/4 cup Dry Marsala Wine
Pinch of Salt

The Rest of It!
6 oz Mascarpone Cheese
2/3 cup Whipping Cream
1/2 cup White Sugar
2 1/2 cups Espresso Coffee (fresh is best but instant works, too)
24 Ladyfinger Cookies (Bake your own here!)
Garnish with Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
Garnish with Chocolate Shavings

Part 1: Zabaglione Preparation

First, we need to make a zabaglione. Pronounced Zab-aye-ohn, it’s a rich egg custard made on the stove.

Combine egg yolks, sugar, marsala and salt in a glass bowl (or the top bowl of your double boiler).  Whisk until fully mixed. Put bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, without letting the bottom of the bowl touch the water. Whisk the egg mixture until thick and creamy, and the mixture forms ribbons when dropped from the whisk back into the mixture. Remove from heat.

Tiramisu Zabaione

In a separate saucepan, combine chocolate and whipping cream. Cook on medium heat, stirring until smooth. Set aside and keep warm.

Tiramisu - Melted Chocolate

Fold the melted chocolate into the egg custard mixture. Cover and refrigerate until cold.

Chocolate Zabaglione

Part 2: Compiling the Tiramisu

Place mascarpone cheese in a large bowl. [You'll want it near room temp to ensure smoothness.]

Mascarpone and Cream

In a separate bowl, beat cream and 1/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl to soft peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone. Then fold in the chilled chocolate zabaglione mixture. Cover and refrigerate.

Mascarpone Mixture

Mix it thoroughly – I just liked the marbling in this photo.

While the chocolate mixture is chilling, brew some fresh espresso (or reconstitute it, if using instant). Whisk the espresso with 1/4 of sugar until combined.

Line your loaf pan with plastic wrap, letting the wrap extend past the edges. [The purpose is to help you turn out the Tiramisu in one large log. Much easier & more elegant than cutting it out of the pan!]

Tiramisu Pan and Espresso

Place some of the espresso mixture into a shallow bowl or tray. Dip ladyfinger cookies one at a time to line the bottom of the pan. You want the cookies to be soaked but still have structure.

Spoon 1/3 of the mascarpone mixture on top of the cookies and spread to cover evenly. Sprinkle layer with cocoa powder.

Dip the next eight (8) cookies. Spoon another 1/3 of the mascarpone. Dust with cocoa powder. Repeat until all cookies and mascarpone have been used. If necessary, press the final layer slightly to help it fit in the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least six (6) hours.

Chocolate Tiramisu Layers

When the Chocolate Tiramisu is chilled, unwrap it and invert it onto a serving plate. Take off the plastic wrap. Sift cocoa over the dish and grate/peel chocolate shavings over the top of the dish (to taste).

Tiramisu Dessert

So. darn. good.

– Beth

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Lychee Ombre Rose Cake Thu, 13 Dec 2012 05:43:17 +0000 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

]]> 1
French Silk Pie Thu, 29 Nov 2012 20:31:11 +0000

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!

– Beth

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Minty Grasshopper Pie Sun, 18 Nov 2012 20:39:32 +0000
A homemade spin on this classic freezer pie.  Decadent Dragon’s Grasshopper Pie uses homemade marshmallow cream, creme de menthe and creme de cacao liqueur. Smooth, rich and minty.

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.

Marshmallow Cream
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.

Grasshopper Pie
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!

Just prior to serving, you can whip some cream to frost the pie. I used a Fat Daddio Pastry Bag and Wilton 4B Open-star tip to pipe my whipping cream.

If you have Andes mints or oreos, you can top the pie with them for artistic effect.

And now…the big reveal.


[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 Takeaway: You don’t have to use my recipe but be on the lookout for freezer pies with lower fat ingredients or too much liquid (water, liqueur, milk, etc.). My first attempt at this pie included regular milk and a lot more creme de menthe/cacao. All that liquid added up to a slushy pie. By limiting the liquid and upping the fat content you’ll get a much smoother result. Good luck!


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Meadowfoam Baklava Fri, 09 Nov 2012 23:11:14 +0000 Like the many varieties of good wine, honey comes in a spectrum of flavors and colors. This nutty baklava is made with California Meadowfoam honey, which has caramel-marshmallow tasting notes. Baklava can be made with any variety of honey you have on hand but I highly recommend using a locally-produced varietal you enjoy.

Over the past few years, I’ve sampled my way through the local honey available at our farmer’s markets. Varietal honey is created when honey bees forage primarily from one type of plant, bringing its nectar back to the hive. Thus varietal honey comes in many forms: clover, sage, star thistle, buckwheat, tupelo…the list goes on.

Far and away my favorite honey, Meadowfoam is made from the pretty, white meadowfoam flower.  But the honey is a deep, amber color. I thought the color and rich vanilla-marshmallow flavor would complement Alton Brown’s Baklava recipe. As hoped, my baklava [the second batch, that is] turned out beautifully nutty, crunchy and with the caramel honey sweetness of this lovely varietal.

These cut baklava even resemble honeycomb.

Alton’s recipe is quite good, if a little over-complicated and, ehm…pretentious.  [No, I don't have a spritz bottle just for rose water!]  Also, his written instructions would have turned the syrup into a hard candy.  So, I made a few changes.

Most importantly, cut the baklava before baking.  It will make your life SO much easier. I also recommend cutting back on the sugar in the syrup slightly to let the honey shine. If you don’t have three kinds of nuts, feel free to substitute. Personally, I do think the rose water is important but if you are in a jam it won’t ruin the dish to leave it out. Here’s his recipe with my modifications.

Meadowfoam Honey Baklava:
Adapted from Alton Brown’s Baklava recipe.
Makes one (1) 9X13 pan OR two 8X8 pans or baklava.

For the filling:
1 (5-inch piece) cinnamon stick, broken into pieces (or 2 teaspoons ground)
15 to 20 whole allspice berries (2 teaspoons ground)
6 ounces blanched almonds
6 ounces raw or roasted walnuts
6 ounces raw or roasted pistachio
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon rose water
1 pound phyllo dough, thawed
8 ounces unsalted butter, melted

For the syrup:
1 1/4 cups Meadowfoam Honey (or your favorite varietal)
1 1/4 cups water
3/4 cups sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 (2-inch) piece fresh orange peel

Begin by pre-heating the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease your pan(s) with butter.

Place the cinnamon stick and whole allspice into a spice grinder and grind.

Place the almonds, walnuts, pistachios, sugar and freshly ground spices into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped, but not pasty or powdery, approximately 15 quick pulses. Set aside.

Combine the water and rose water in a spray bottle (or a small bowl if you don’t have a spray bottle) and set aside.

Trim the sheets of phyllo to fit your pans.  Take the phyllo out of its wrapper and quickly cover with a damp (but not too wet) paper towel.  This will keep your dough hydated and easy to work with as you build your layers.  Otherwise, it’s a race against the clock, so please use the paper towel!

If you are doing the two 8X8 pans, separate your nut mixture into two bowls equally.  Set one aside for your second pan of baklava.

Place a sheet of phyllo in your pan.  Brush with butter to coat.  Lay another sheet on top and brush with butter.  Repeat until you have ten (10) sheets of buttered phyllo layered in your pan.  (Don’t skimp!  I’m serious, you want every delicious layer.)  Top with 1/3 of the nut mixture (really 1/6 if you are doing two smaller pans instead of the large sheet).  Spray or, using fingers, flick with the rose water mixture.  Repeat phyllo layering with another six (6) sheets of phyllo dough, brushed with butter.  Add the next 1/3 of the nuts and spritz with rose water.  Repeat with another six (6) sheets of phyllo, butter and last 1/3 of the nuts and rose water.  Top with eight (8) sheets of buttered phyllo.  Butter top generously.

If doing a second pan, repeat the steps above.  Cut the baklava into serving-sized pieces using a sharp knife BEFORE placing into the oven .

Put pan(s) in the oven and bake for 45-60 minutes.  Remove when the phyllo is a medium brown color and crispy.  The nuts should be toasted throughout.  Let cool for 2 hours.

Make the syrup during the last 30 minutes of cooling. Combine honey, water, sugar, cinnamon stick and orange peel in a 4-quart saucepan and set over high heat. Stir occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Once boiling, boil for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and discard orange peel and cinnamon stick.

After the baklava has cooled for 2 hours, re-cut the entire pan following the same lines as before. Pour the hot syrup evenly over the top of the baklava, allowing it to run into the cuts and around the edges of the pan. Allow the pan to sit, uncovered until completely cool. Cover and store at room temperature for at least 8 hours and up to overnight before serving. Store, covered, at room temperature for up to 5 days.

What’s your favorite type of honey?

– Beth

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Pineapple Upside Down Cake Fri, 02 Nov 2012 22:10:21 +0000

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!


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