Wednesday, August 31

Catch Up - {Orange Syrup Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream}

Those of you who follow Whisk Kid on Twitter and/or Facebook may have noticed that I've been a little absent lately.

Wanna know why?!?!

I moved.


Yeah, I know. Sometimes I feel like that's all I write about. Moving here... Moving there. Yadda yadda yadda.

But this time it's exciting because it involves a pretty kitchen! Yay!

Also, moving back here means I get to spend more time with friends. It means that they can come over whenever they want and stay as late as they like because Cedar Point and their housing regulations no longer own my soul. It means that I'm no longer living out of suitcases and boxes, and that everything I own finally has a place. It means hard work and school, but it also means freedom.

Anyway, I'm typing this from the floor of my living room, ethernet cable tethering my laptop to the wall, rugburn gnawing at my elbows and a rough case of writer's block stuffing up my head. Considering the fact that C and I own neither a couch or a wireless router, I spend a lot of time sitting on the floor, but I'm ok with it. I'm thrilled to just be here again, so I'm perfectly content to go without little luxuries and I think my friends are, too.

We made pizza here a few days back. It was a simple meal, eaten communally from a cutting board placed in the middle of the empty living room floor and followed up by the most ridiculous game of catch/Frisbee/monkey in the middle/indoor soccer that I've ever seen and generous slices of German Chocolate Cake for dessert. Honestly, a couch or dining room table would have just been in the way. We were there for fun, and furniture just didn't fit the bill. We were celebrating our reunion, and saying goodbye to a great friend. One who will be away training for a few months before moving for work and would probably hate it if I made a fuss over this. As such, I'll just say that I'm going to miss him a lot and can't wait to visit, then leave it at that ;)

Anyway, I apologize that this point is so disjointed and aimless. I'm in between classes right now with a rent check staring at me from a foot away and a long to-do list to complete in the next few hours. I hope to get back to my regular posting style shortly, but, until then, happy baking!

All the best,

Orange Syrup Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream inspired by Martha Stewart
I know, you were expecting German Chocolate, right? I promise to get that recipe to you in the future. It just always gets eaten up before I can photograph it!

I'll be honest here: the orange flavor doesn't come through very much in this cake. I'm still trying to figure out how to make that happen. Orange is such a difficult flavor to capture in baked goods... At any rate, I really enjoyed this cake and particularly liked the way the candied orange slices looked on top.

Also, as a note, I made some modifications to this recipe to bake my cakes in 6" pans. However, that's not a standard size, so I'm posting the recipe for a 9" cake. If you want a 6" cake, just halve everything.

Printable Recipe

Candied Orange Slices via Use Real Butter
The slices themselves are more for garnish than anything, but the orange syrup is used to brush the layers. You will likely have extra of each.

1 orange, washed
Water for boiling
Ice water
2 (397 g) cups sugar
1 (237 ml) cup water

Cut the orange into very thin slices, being careful not to cut them so thin that they fall apart. Remove any seeds and toss the ends. Bring water to a boil in a saucepan and blanch the orange slices for about one minute. Drain and plunge slices into a bath of ice water. Drain again.

Meanwhile, combine the sugar and 1 cup of water in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved without stirring, which may cause crystals to form. If the pan is not heating evenly, simply swirl the pan. Bring to a simmer and add the orange slices. Simmer - don’t boil - for an hour and a half. Carefully remove slices from hot sugar syrup and set on a cooling rack over a baking sheet until completely dry, up to 24 hours. Reserve the syrup for brushing onto the cake layers.

Vanilla Sponge adapted from Sky High

1 1/2 c (298 g) sugar, divided
1 orange, zest of
2 c (278 g) cake flour*
2 tsp baking powder
8 eggs, separated
1 Tbsp lemon juice
6 Tbsp vegetable Oil
2 tsp vanilla

Preheat your oven to 350F. Oil and line three 9" round cake pans, then set aside.

Put 1/2 cup (99 g) sugar in a small bowl with the orange zest and rub between your fingers until the sugar is very fragrant and looks like wet sand. Whisk in the cake flour and baking powder then set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the yolks, lemon juice, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium-high until slightly lightened, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Pour the egg whites into a very clean large bowl. Begin beating on medium-low until foamy, then turn the speed up to high and gradually add the remaining 1 cup (198 g) of sugar. Beat until moderately stiff peaks form (when lifting the beater from the bowl, the peaks should droop slightly), being very careful not to whip the whites until they are dry.

After the whites have been whipped, use a rubber spatula to gently fold 1/4 of them into the yolk mixture. Add another 1/4 of the whites and fold to combine. Repeat until all of the whites have been incorporated, then sift in 1/3 of the dry ingredients. Fold gently until few streaks remain, then add another third. Repeat, continuing to fold very gently, until the last addition of dry ingredients has been fully incorporated.

Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 15-20 minutes until the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from their pans and wrap them in plastic wrap then refrigerate them for at least 4 hours until they are completely cooled.

*If you don't have cake flour, combine 1 3/4 c (248 g) flour and 1/4 c (30 g) cornstarch to substitute.

White Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Please click here for a step-by-step guide to making Swiss Meringue Buttercream and troubleshooting tips!

10 egg whites
2 c (400 g) sugar
2 c (452 g) butter, room temp
4 oz white chocolate, melted and cooled

Cook the egg whites and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved (test by rubbing some between your fingers. If it's completely smooth, it's done). Pour into another bowl (a stand mixer is preferable) and whip on high speed until room temp. Then, on a medium-slow speed, add the butter, waiting until each piece is completely incorporated before adding the next. After all the butter has been added, turn the mixer back to high speed and whip until it has come together, about five minutes. Add the white chocolate, beat to incorporate and use.

If the buttercream seems soupy after all of the butter is added and does not come together after whipping, refrigerate for 5 to 7 minutes and continue whipping until it becomes fluffy and workable.


Cut the domes, if any, off the tops of the cakes.

Place a layer of cake on your serving platter. Brush cake with orange syrup, then top with a layer of buttercream. Add another layer of cake, brush with orange syrup and spread evenly with frosting. Place remaining cake on top and crumb coat with a small amount of buttercream. Frost and decorate as desired, using candied orange as a garnish.

Monday, August 22

Meaning - {Peanut Butter Pie}

Jennie, this post is for you. I know we don’t know each other, but I think of you and your family often and I wish you all the strength and courage in the world. I am having trouble finding words that will comfort, but I hope that this will do the same…

Nothing but the best,


I was surprised to come home from camping and see my Twitter feed - typically filled with unrelated but cool food information – consumed by and focused on one thing:

Peanut butter pie.

And I set out quickly, after reading her words, to make that pie for Jennie, for Mikey, for my family and for my friends. To share it - just because and without occasion – with the people I love and care for as Jennie wished for the world to do.

But it took so much more time than I expected. When I saw the notes of support in my feed, I had already missed the round up. I gathered the ingredients from my pantry and fridge, taking stock of what I had and knowing I could begin at that very moment.

I had everything I needed.

But I didn’t. It made me sad as the days passed, as I realized I was doing just what Jennie had asked for us not to do. The peanut butter pie got put off.

And put off.

And put off again.

A few days later, with the Kitchenaid buzzing and chocolate wafers crumbling rhythmically between my fingertips, I was happy that the pie was finally coming into fruition. But at that moment, I was sure that I would not be sharing the despicable details of this project because, quite frankly, I was ashamed.

I beat myself up for wasting time and procrastinating.

But then I realized, quite suddenly, that the reason for the pie not being completed in time was because I had been doing comparably meaningful things in that timeframe already. Over the days I spent much-needed quality time with both my mom and dad – on separate occasions - and visited my Grandparents, whom I hadn’t seen in over a month. I saw a fabulous show that my mother produced. I was out with dear friends I hadn’t seen since last summer. And in my spare time, I was at home cooking up requests for dinner/dessert and taking care of the house to lessen Mom’s burden.

To me, although Jennie did ask specifically for us to make this fabulous dessert, I had, in fact, accomplished what she was asking (and I do hope she’ll forgive and allow my interpretation) of us: I was appreciating and caring for the people I love in every way I knew how. Her pie transformed from conversation to steaks to theater tickets to shepherd’s pie and back again before revealing its true self on our kitchen counter days later but it was all done with love.

And it felt good. Like I was opening my eyes to so much more of life.

Thank you, Jennie, for being strong and sharing your knowledge with us. It means so much.

Creamy Peanut Butter Pie via Jennie
I had never had this dessert before, but it's easy to see why it was a favorite. It is quite soft when stored in the fridge, which I like, but it's also lovely frozen. Don't skip the layer of chocolate in the bottom of the crust.

Printable Recipe

8 oz (227 g) chocolate cookies
4 Tbsp (57 g) butter, melted
4 oz (113 g) finely chopped chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 c (31 g) chopped peanuts
1 c (237 ml) heavy cream
1 (8 oz or 227 g) package cream cheese, room temperature
1 c (237 ml) creamy peanut butter
1 c (156 g) confectioner's sugar
1 (14 oz or 397 g) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice

Reduce the cookies to fine crumbs using your preferred method (use your hands, forks, a rolling pin, a cast iron pan or - easiest yet - a food processor). Add the butter and mix well. Press into the bottom and one inch up the sides of a 9" springform pan.

Melt the chocolate. While still hot, pour over the bottom of the crust and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Sprinkle over the chopped peanuts and place in the fridge to set.

Beat the heavy cream in a large, cold, clean bowl to stiff peaks. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese and peanut butter. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioner's sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl when needed. With the mixer running, slowly add the sweetened condensed milk. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the vanilla extract and lemon juice. Increase speed to medium and beat until smooth and well-combined.

Using a rubber spatula, stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream to lighten the filling. Fold in the remaining whipped cream in two parts, then carefully pour into the springform pan. Refrigerate for at least three hours before serving.

Sunday, August 14

Camp - {S'Mores Cakelettes}

Full of ashes but empty of flame, the fire pit lay lifeless in the daylight. We’d been using it as a garbage can of sorts; stocking it with [sparingly used] discarded paper towels and cardboard shreds through the day in preparation for the night’s fire. One which would, once lighted, crisp pita pizzas, boil water for macaroni and cheese and serve as our tree-inhabited kitchen away from home; a gathering place just the same.

Eating simply and functioning simply, this was a camping trip of few plans. A lazy “just because it’s summer” kind of camping trip brightened by the relaxed company of great friends, the luxury of an air mattress more comfortable than I could have ever imagined and peaches sweeter than the lingering memories of last year’s crop.

I couldn’t have asked for better weather and I certainly couldn’t have asked for better company.

Without fail, during the day it was just hot enough to swim and sunbathe on the peaceful shores of Lake Michigan. The gently white-capped waves scared R and H’s dear puppy to death but proved far more entertaining to us four 20-somethings than one is likely to believe. After bobbing away the afternoon shoulder-deep in the surf, nighttime temperatures dipped low enough to make burrowing deep into our sleeping bags a comfortable refuge, particularly when joined by an adorably cuddly and equally exhausted pup.

A shared propensity against over-planning and optimistically relaxed disposition made this trip refreshing. Two midnight visits by thieving raccoons (partial to walnuts, fancy teas, and packets of ketchup – hold the mustard - as it turns out) were met, of course, with frustration - but also laughter. A mysteriously broken car window was taken in stride. Rare occurrences of boredom were quickly combated. Hunger was satisfied. Chills: warmed.

Each moment was unstructured and fluid, slowly efficient and peacefully perfect.

In other words:

Just what we wanted.

S'Mores Cakelettes via Desserts for Breakfast
You'd think a post like this would be accompanied by a simple recipe, wouldn't you? But, alas... Here we are. These little cakes have a lot of components, but they are really very much worth the effort! They're quite rich, so I recommend keeping them small (part of their appeal is that they're individually-sized, after all. Just like a s'more!). They'll definitely disappear quickly, so be ready! Makes eight 3" delights.

Oh, also, I sandwiched extra meringue between small graham crackers spread with ganache. Yum.

Printable Recipe

Graham Crackers
These taste and smell amazing! The best graham crackers I've ever had, which is good because this makes more than you'll need.

1/3 c (78 ml) honey
2 Tbsp molasses
4 Tbsp whole milk
2 Tbsp vanilla
2 1/2 c + 2 Tbsp (372 g) flour
1 c (142 g) light brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
7 Tbsp (100 g) butter, cubed and frozen

Whisk together honey, molasses, milk and vanilla in a small bowl. Set aside.

Pour the flower, sugar, soda and salt into the bowl of your food processor. Pulse until combined. Put the butter in the food processor and pulse until the butter chunks are the size of small peas. Add the liquid ingredients and pulse just until a dough forms.

Place the dough on a lightly-floured surface and divide into 2 disks. Wrap each with plastic wrap and chill overnight or until firm.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

Place one round of chilled dough onto a lightly-floured surface and roll out until it is about 1/8" thick. Cut eight 3" rounds (or slightly smaller as they will spread) and cut the remaining dough into desired shapes (you won't need them to be a specific shape to use for the genoise). Place cut crackers on a baking sheet about 1" apart and dock each a few times with a fork. Chill the baking sheet for 25-30 minutes.

While the sheets are chilling, preheat oven to 350F.

Bake the chilled crackers for about 18-20 minutes, rotating the sheet half-way. Remove from the oven when the crackers have turned brown and are slightly firm to the touch. Place the pan on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

Graham Cracker Genoise

1 oz (30 g) graham crackers
7 tsp (20 g) flour
5 tsp (12 g) corn starch
4 1/2 Tbsp (64 g) butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
6 egg yolks, room temp
1/2 c (88 g) sugar
2 Tbsp water

Preheat your oven to 350F. Prepare a quarter sheet pan by greasing it, then lining it with parchment paper greasing again. Set aside.

Grind the graham crackers into powder using a food processor. Add the flour and cornstarch and set aside.

Brown the butter in a small pan, cooking until solids drop to the bottom of the pan and most of the bubbling has subsided. Remove from heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove the solids. Add vanilla and keep warm.

In a mixer bowl over simmering water, combine the egg yolks and the sugar. Whisk constantly until the mixture is almost hot to the touch. Immediately transfer the warmed egg yolks and sugar to a separate large mixing bowl and whisk on high speed for five minutes. Add the water to the eggs and sugar, then whisk briefly on medium to combine. Add half of the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and fold to combine. Repeat with the second half, then fold in half of the melted butter and vanilla. Fold in the second half and gently transfer to prepared 1/4 sheet pan. Smooth so that the batter over the pan and bake 15-20 minutes until the top is golden and it springs back when lightly pressed. Cool, in pan, on a rack.

Assembly Part 1

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using eight 3" molds, cut out 8 pieces of the cooled genoise and leave them in the molds. Place on prepared pan and set aside.

Chocolate Souffle Cake

6 Tbsp (85 g) butter
7 oz (198 g) dark chocolate, chopped
4 eggs, separated.
7 Tbls (85 g) sugar, divided into equal parts
pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 325F. Have the molds prepared with the cut genoise.

Melt the butter on the stove in a small pan. When it is completely melted, add the dark chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and set aside to cool briefly.

Beat the egg yolks with half of sugar on high until light, fluffy, and triple in volume, about 4-5 minutes. Fold the chocolate mixture into the whipped yolks and set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with the remaining sugar and beat until the egg whites hold medium stiff and glossy peaks.

Fold a third of the egg whites into the chocolate and yolk mixture, then gently fold in the remaining whites in until there are no streaks. Immediately divide the batter into the eight cake rings on top of the graham cracker genoise layer at the bottom. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the tops of the cakes are no longer shiny, but not "souffled." Remove the cakes from the oven immediately and let cool completely, preferably overnight, until firm.

Dark Chocolate Ganache

3 oz (85 g) dark chocolate, chopped
5 Tbsp (71 ml) heavy cream
1 Tbsp (14 g) butter
1 Tbsp chocolate liqueur, optional

Place the chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and set aside. Bring the heavy cream and butter to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and pour over the chocolate. Let sit for 2 minutes, then whisk until completely smooth. Whisk in the chocolate liqueur, if using.

Let the ganache cool until slightly thickened, about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Spread a layer of the ganache onto each of the 8 round graham crackers and let cool at room temperature for another hour until the ganache is set. Set aside.

Italian Meringue

1 1/2 c (310 grams) sugar
1/2 c (140 ml) water
5 egg whites, room temp

Combine water and sugar in a small pot over medium-high heat. Swirl the pan to help distribute the sugar, but do not stir. Bring syrup to a boil and cook until the temperature reaches 240F.

Meanwhile, place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl. Begin beating the egg whites when the syrup is at about 230F, bringing them to soft peaks - be very careful not to over beat! Once the syrup has reached 240F and the whites have been whipped, gradually pour the syrup into the egg whites, beating on high-speed. Beat until the bowl is no longer warm to the touch, about 15 minutes.

Assembly Part 2

Unmold the cakelettes. Spoon about a tablespoon or so of the Italian meringue on top of each cakelette, spreading to an even thickness. Top with a ganache-covered graham cracker round, ganache side down.

Frost each cakelette with remaining meringue. Use a blow torch to brown.

Serve at room temperature but store in the refrigerator.

Saturday, August 6

Work - {Chocolate and Salted Caramel Whoopie Pies}

This past week went by much more quickly than I had anticipated. I was sure, all summer long, that it would drag. Sure, I thought, that the longing and impatience that would undoubtedly fill my days would muck up the passage of time enough to slow it considerably. Sure that, in this week, all the negative aspects of my job would be enhanced and I’d soon be reduced to a burnt-out, sun-burned, aching shadow of the employee I have been for the past few months.

But I was really very wrong.

Instead of dragging out, the week seemed to go by faster and faster with each passing day. The temperatures seemed, somehow, cooler. The aches, inexplicably, disappeared. I found easy ways to occupy myself each day before and after work, filling my time with simple baking lessons for two of my roommates, S&S; going out dancing with my friends, A&P; visiting my favorite coffee shop and going out to dinner with my crew.

... For the last time.

My coworker, J, asked me yesterday if I was feeling at all nostalgic.

I told him, quietly and truthfully, “no.

But that’s changed.

Fueled by caffeine and French fries, last night’s (morning’s?) midnight dinner with my crew brought back many memories. We spoke candidly about our first impressions of one another, transitioning into a discussion about the massive amount of confusion inflicted on each of us when we arrived - something we’ve come to affectionately refer to as “training.” We shared funny encounters with employees and guests alike, all the while ragging on each other and trying to throw bits of straw wrappers and wadded-up napkins into each other’s drinks.

And in the end, we collectively remembered the employees who left us early - some with reason and some without warning – which lead to the mental composition of a list of the people who’d be leaving the group next.

My name was at the top.


Working at Cedar Point has certainly been an experience. As a whole, it wasn’t perfect, but I will attest that, in general, it was enjoyable. Would I recommend it to others? I’m not sure. I certainly didn’t save up a lot of money this summer (not that I spent my earnings extravagantly, there just wasn’t that much to be spent!), but I enjoyed living in a new city and meeting so many new people. Housing here sucks, to be completely blunt. And honestly? That’s putting it nicely. But on that same thread, it has been pretty cheap, so it was tolerable.

Overall, there were good days and bad days. Ups and downs. But, realistically, that’s true for anywhere else I could have spent this summer, too.

It’s definitely been memorable.

All the same: the hours ticked by, as they do.

My time at Cedar Point is done.

And I can’t wait to get back to school.

Chocolate and Salted Caramel Whoopie Pies slightly adapted from Foodess
I found that the provided recipe for the chocolate cookie part of the recipe made way too many in comparison to the amount of frosting the recipe made. I've taken the liberty of halving the former here.
Makes about 11 Whoopie Pies.

Printable Recipe

Chocolate "Cookies"

7/8 c (124 g) flour
3/8 c (34 g) cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
4 Tbls (57 g) butter, softened
1/4 c (50 g) sugar
1/4 c (36 g) brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c (118 ml) milk

Preheat your oven to 350F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

Place the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Whisk well to combine and set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, beat the butter until lightened, about one minute. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the yolk and vanilla and beat to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl when necessary.

Pour in 1/3 of the dry mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Scrape down the bowl and add half of the milk, mixing just to combine. Continue alternating, ending with 1/3 of the dry ingredients.

Using a tablespoon-sized scoop, drop the cookies onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Bake 10-15 minutes until the top springs back when pressed. Cool completely on pans before sandwiching with the filling (recipe follows).

Salted Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream

1/2 c (100 g) sugar, divided
1 Tbsp corn syrup
2 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp (40 mL) cream
2 egg whites
1/4 tsp salt, to taste
1/2 c (118 g) butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Put 1/4 cup (50 grams) of sugar, the corn syrup and the water in saucepan over medium-high heat. Swirl the pan occasionally (but do not stir) until the sugar is dissolved, then continue cooking until the sugar reaches an amber color. Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the cream, whisking immediately as it will begin to bubble. Set aside to cool.

Place a pan of water over medium-low heat and bring to a simmer. Put a medium-sized heatproof bowl over the top (do not let it touch the water) and pour the remaining 1/4 cup (50 grams) of sugar, egg whites and salt into it. Whisking constantly, cook until the sugar has dissolved then remove from the heat. Whip on high speed until a stiff meringue forms. Reduce the speed to medium and begin adding the butter in tablespoon-size pats, waiting until each has been fully incorporated before adding the next, about ten seconds. When all of the butter has been added, raise the speed to high and whip until the frosting is light and fluffy. Add the cooled caramel and vanilla, then whip to combine. Use to fill cooled cookies.