When I was a little girl, I loved tea parties.  One of my most memorable birthday parties was when my mom hosted a tea party for me at an old historic mansion and each of my friends and I  wore old fashioned dresses and elegant hats.   We sipped on tea and ate cucumber sandwiches and petit fours.  It’s funny how when you are a child you always want to dress up and act like an adult and the you grow up and realize how simple and magical childhood was.

I think one of the reasons that I still love tea parties so much is because of the dainty, delicate foods.  So, when I received a copy of Mini Cakes & other Bite-size Treats (Author:  Hannah Miles) to review from the fine people at Ryland Peters & Small I was so excited to try some of the recipes.  This book is filled with petite cakes, tarts and pastries that are perfect for any occasion.  And you will have the chance to win a copy of the book tomorrow!

The first thing that I made out of this precious little book were the Baby Éclairs and Chocolate Profiteroles.  Both recipes use the same dough and they were so easy and fun to make.  Chocolate éclairs are one of my mom’s favorite desserts and I wish I could have shared them with her!

This would be a perfect quick and adorable dessert for your valentine ♥.

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for the pastry, heat the butter and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil

add flour, remove from heat and whisk until dough comes together

cool mixture for 5 minutes, beat eggs and whisk into cooled mixture to combine

spoon dough into pastry bag

pipe 2 cm lines (for baby éclairs) or 1 cm dots (for profiteroles) onto baking sheet

bake as directed

prepare chantilly cream and chocolate sauce and to serve, cut éclairs in half, fill with cream and top with sauce; for profiteroles, pile onto serving spoon and drizzle with chocolate sauce

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By now you know how much I enjoy fruit desserts during the summer and what is more classic than strawberry shortcake?  Many people enjoy strawberry shortcake with angel food cake as the base, Cool Whip in the middle and strawberries sprinkled over the top.  I like this version, but I LOVE a true shortcake:  a biscuit that is not too sweet, slightly salty, perfectly crumbly and rustic.  On top of my shortcake, you will find my ginger-infused whipped cream, strawberry simple syrup and freshly sliced strawberries.  This sweet, salty and creamy combination is perfection in my opinion.

 

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(Shortcake recipe from Cooks Illustrated)

 Pulse dry ingredients with butter until it resembles a coarse meal

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I did not feel good about saying “adios” to Mexico Week without a grand finale.  Remember the Tres Leches cake that I mentioned earlier this week?  If you are not familiar with Tres Leches, please allow me to enlighten you!  “Tres leches” in Spanish means “three milks”.  The way that these three milks apply to our cake is that you start with a somewhat basic white cake and then soak it in a mixture of sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream.  You can imagine what happens next.  The cake becomes oh so marvelously moist from the sopping up the milks that it literally feels like it is melting in your mouth when you take a bite.

In Mexico, Tres Leches cake is commonly served at weddings, birthdays and other events.  My best friend Naomi had this cake for her wedding and ever since then I have been meaning to attempt to make it myself.  Naomi will have been married for 5 years in August, so what better time than now to follow through with my commitment!

Tres Leches Cake

by Mercedes Porter

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 8 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla

For the milk mixture

  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla

For the topping

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 Tbsp corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

For the milk mixture

Pour condensed milk into large microwave-safe bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave on low, stirring and replacing plastic wrap every 3-5 minutes, until slightly darkened and thickened, 9-15 minutes.

Remove from microwave and slowly whisk in evaporated milk, cream, and vanilla.

Let cool to room temperature.

For the cake

Position rack in middle of oven. Preheat to 325. Grease and flour a 9X13 baking pan. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in bowl. Heat butter and milk in small saucepan over low heat until butter is melted; set aside off heat.

With hand-held mixer on medium speed, beat eggs in large for about 30 seconds, then slowly add sugar until incorporated. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture is thick and glossy, 5-7 minutes. Reduce speed to low and slowly mix in milk-butter mixture and vanilla. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, scraping down bowl as necessary, then mix on medium speed until fully incorporated, about 3o seconds. Using rubber spatula, scrape batter into prepared pan and bake until toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean, 30-35 minutes. Transfer cake to wire rack and let cool 10 minutes.

Using a skewer, poke holes at 1/2 inch intervals in top of cake. Slowly pour milk mixture over cake until completely absorbed. Let sit at room temperature 15 minutes, then refrigerate uncovered for 3 hours or up to 24 hours.

For the topping

Remove cake from refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. With hand-held mixer on medium speed, beat heavy cream, corn syrup, and vanilla to soft peaks, 1-2 minutes. Spread over cake and slice into 3-inch squares. Serve.

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(Recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)

for the milk mixture:  sweetened condensed milk

 sweetened condensed milk after it is darkened and thickened

 finished milk mixture

 for the cake:  dry ingredients

butter/milk mixture

 eggs, thick and glossy

 poke holes 1/2-inch apart into cake

 pour milk mixture over cake

 spread on topping after refrigerating

 so moist and decadent, disfruta!

 

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My dad recently returned from a fishing trip in Alaska.   Last weekend we were at the family lake cabin again and got to indulge in his fresh catches.  While dinner was being made, I was thinking about dessert (you know me and my sweet tooth).  I wanted something light and refreshing to compliment the lovely fresh fish and I did not want to go to the grocery store.  With plenty of fresh fruit around, I decided to make a galette.  The beautiful thing about this dessert is that you can make it with whatever fresh fruit you have on hand regardless of the time of year.  In the fall and winter it is wonderful with apples or pears and in the spring and summer the sky is the limit:  peaches, plums, nectarines, berries, etc.  So while preparations for the fish feed were underway,

I whipped up my favorite pastry dough, pâte brisée, sliced some nectarines, rinsed some berries and while we devoured the fresh salmon and halibut, dessert baked in the oven.  To top of this simple summer delight, I made some ginger whipped cream.

Pâte brisée                      (Recipe from Martha Stewart)

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon ice water
  1. Pulse flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor until combined.    Add butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining, about 5 seconds.
  2. Drizzle water evenly over mixture. Pulse until mixture just begins to hold together, about 10 seconds. (Dough should not be wet or sticky.) Press dough into 1 large disk (for mini pies) or 2 small disks (for large pie), and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour or overnight.

(I was at the lake cabin and therefore did not have a food processor so I used my hands which worked just fine.)

Roll out dough on floured work surface

Place dough onto parchment-lined baking sheet

For the filling:

  • 4 cups of your fruit of choice
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Mix ingredients and pour or arrange fruit over pastry crust

 Fold crust over partially covering fruit working in a circle

Brush top of pastry with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar

Bake at 450° for 20 minutes or until golden brown

Serve with whipped cream or ice cream (for my ginger whipped cream, mix 1 cup whipping cream, 1 tsp ginger paste and 1/2 cup powdered sugar with a mixer until medium to firm peaks form)

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