This grasshopper pie recipe. This pie causes insane dreams so maybe don’t eat it before bed while watching countless episodes of The Good Wife. Like your elementary school crush will meld with a side character on The Good Wife mixed with a pencil you saw in a commercial six years ago and suddenly you turn into Snoop Dog who can’t remember his lyrics onstage.
It’s so painfully delicious though that I think about the pie all day. In fact, I’ve eaten a slice for breakfast and lunch, and yes, late at night. Cool creamy peppermint chocolate ice cream on an easy cookie crumble crust topped with a salty sweet richly chocolate fudge topping glistening like a skating rink.
Peppermint flavour = total Christmas vibes, like stepping out into a crisp wintery day and inhaling a gust of cool air, your cheeks cold and your head warmed by a wooly toque. Really, minty not-too-sweet ice cream and frigging delicious fudge sauce and a buttery easy cookie crust -it’s a sundae gone right in an ice cream pie form. You can take an interweb hob over to the whole grasshopper pie recipe on my post for Food52! Yay! xo Lyndsay
This past summer I wanted so badly to make Teddy a Pingu cake for his birthday. Every time I’d ask him what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday, he would tell me he wanted a BLUE BEAR BEAR CAKE. FINE, toddler child o’ mine. I know it’s your birthday and not mine!!! A blue bear cake you asked for, a blue bear cake you received!
Happily, just a few months later, a VERY COOL SET OF GRANDPARENTS emailed me to see if I could make a Pingu cake and cupcakes for their grandson Neo’s 2nd birthday. Yes, Neo. Very rad name. So I got to fulfill my dream of making Pingu cakes!! This order was so fun – it reminded me of my olden days of cupcake making, when my whole jam was making cute animal cupcakes and matching cakes.
I don’t really take on orders like this anymore because: 1.I’m old and tired. 2. They are a LOT of work! But dang it, when characters are this cute … I literally squealed like an excitable Vietnamese potbellied pig when I put together Pinga‘s little face.
Watching Teddy watch Pingu makes me smile (maybe cry?) with joy. When my little son busts out into a hysterical giggle fit because Pingu physical-comedy-splatted on the ice or when a flying fish lands on Pingu’s head – oh boy oh boy. Plus, there’s always lessons to be learned in non-verbal gobbledygook stop motion animation – for example, don’t let a seagull shit on you constantly, burp with glorious abandon, love your family and little sis, explore the world around you, be a sweet and empathetic penguin … LESSONS, guys. I’ve seen a LOT of Pingu, let me tell ya.
On another note… man alive, was I surprised and happy to be featured on Buzzfeed a few weeks ago! I dunno if my cakes are truly the cutest cakes on earth but thank you so much for saying so! I sort of had to build up my blog and “cake rep” again on the internets, after I quit blogging for a year and disappeared into a hole of depression – So it’s been a real nice feather in my cap to be recognized around internet town lately. Thanks also to Yahoo Food for loving on my rainbow cat cake, and for asking me to do a holiday food-lovin’ gift guide, too! If you want to read “watermelon coming out of my ladyzone” and delight your eyes with cheeseburger wrapping paper all in one blog post, it’s a must-read!
Hope you’re all enjoying/surviving/snacking your way through December…and thank you to the Scherzers for the great Pingu order! Noot noot, y’all!!! xo Lyndsay
Pretty Pup: Pink Dog Cake For A Sweet First Birthday
Wide eyed children the world over have been swallowed by a sparkling glittery blue and white snow covered amoeba called Frozen. This amoeba warbles and wobbles into the minds of the kiddies, etches a catchy and intense song into their brains and causes widespread capitalist pandemonium at shopping malls. This CAKE! This is my Frozen princess cake, made for my sweet friend Phanie‘s daughter Chloe’s birthday!
Cool things about Frozen:
1. It’s about the love and super powerful bond between two sisters.
2. It’s not the kiss of some doofus prince that saves the life of one of the sisters, but in fact the true pure love of sisterhood that saves the day.
3. Olaf the snowman is pretty funny. Poor dude fantasizes about hot weather. Reminds me of my melted snowman cake.
4. I like that shade of blue. Pantone should name next year’s colour of the year Frozen Blue.
Uncool things about Frozen:
1. Those princesses are still thinner than icicles. Waistline check, please, Disney. Plus, those little Asian baby girls who looove this movie – their eyes will NEVER be as saucer-big as those princesses. That is some cry-inducing eye envy right there.
2. Prince Hans is a dinkus but you don’t really see that coming, sadly – he seems cute and charming and like he’s a good singer. But NO. He’s a MAJOR WIENER.
3. The trolls are so unpopular. I have never seen one troll toy or doll nor have I seen a “troll from Frozen” cake. Guys, trolls are COOL.
I finally saw Frozen last Spring, on my sister’s Ipad, while I had a bout of coughing induced insomnia. Did I cry a little? Yes, I did. Yes, Frozen is an animated movie. Gimme a cool break – I have two sisters, guys! That love is REAL!
What makes me cry with cuteness even more… is really how much the kids do LOVE this movie, capitalist machine and all – because I remember being a child and glomping on SO hard to:
You’re only a kid once. And seeing the joy and excitement on Chloe’s face is too too much cuteness overload. So why deny the Frozen. Check out Chloe’s Frozen Party here - by one of my favourite mama bloggers, Phanie.
Phanie is all the things: hilarious, gorgeous, creative, sweet, funny, dead honest, and she lays it all out there – the incredible days and the dark days of motherhood, creative life, everything. I wish I could be more like that in my writing and I admire that so much in Phanie – check out her blog Gang Of Four. She’s about to blast out a THIRD BABE into the world too – amazing!
So there you have it. My Frozen princess cake – cute little meringue kisses and all! All my love to your sweet family, Phanie! And happy happy birthday Chloe! “Let it gooooooo….!” xo Lyndsay
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Cake – Still Hungry… After All… These Years!
Molly YEH! Like a big old YAY. This woman. She brightens the internet like a half Chinese half Jewish, percussion-playing gorgeous firecracker blasting through the milky way, and she’s getting married to an EGG. A handsome, beet-farmer, musician-with-shaggy-hair EGG. So, to celebrate this wonderful union (ok, he has a name – Nick!) I made the couple this virtual vegan chocolate ganache pie studded like an 1980s punker jacket with fresh raspberries.
If I wasn’t already in internet-friend-love with Molly, this lefse New York Times video made me fall deeper into internet-friend-love. Can a young lady be any cuter, more appealing, more charming than Molly? Can her fiancée get any more hunky? Can life get any more stressful than when Molly tries to lift up that mega-sized lefse in front of her future in-laws and a camera crew?? Side note: I am obsessed with squishing/squeezing/making Play-dough-hair and “ricing” things through a “ricer”, officially the most Oriental sounding kitchen tool ever. (oh wait, there’s a Chinois- that’s the most Oriental sounding kitchen tool ever).
This pie is so easy you can practically be sleeping or washing your hair while making it. It’s got a delightfully simple coconut oil and cookie crumb crust, and a chocolate ganache filling made with coconut milk and finished with fresh berries. That’s IT. You can even gluten-free-it-up by using gluten-free cookies.
It’s rich, it’s simple, it’s scrumdillyumptious. It’s my pie tribute to the soon-to-be-wed couple!!
10 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (roughly 2 cups)
1 pint fresh raspberries
Make The Crust
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a small saucepan, melt the coconut oil.
In a food processor or using a rolling pin and a tightly sealed plastic Ziploc bag, blend or crush the cookies into crumbs.
In a small bowl, combine the melted coconut oil and cookie crumbs until the mixture resembles a wet sand.
Press the mixture into a pie pan.
Bake for ten minutes; let cool completely before filling. Note: the crust might “puff up” a bit in the oven; when you remove it, simply press back into place, being careful not to burn yourself!
Make The Ganache
While the crust is baking, heat the coconut milk in a medium saucepan until it reaches a low boil – medium heat. Watch that it doesn’t burn.
Remove the coconut milk from the stovetop; carefully pour in the chopped chocolate, making sure the chocolate is covered by the milk.
Let sit for ten minutes, then slowly whisk to combine.
Power-chill the ganache in the freezer for 30 minutes to help it thicken.
Once the ganache is cooled and thickened, pour into the pie shell.
Place fresh raspberries on top of the chocolate ganache, dust with a touch of icing sugar (optional!) and serve!
I am a major crier at weddings – I’m deeply sentimental, emotional. I’ve been with my man for almost 14 years – and we’ve certainly had our ups and downs, some minor, some major.
At weddings I can’t help but think about a couple’s future, and all that lays ahead – all those precious sweet times, maybe a baby or two, all the love, maybe some fights, years of silly jokes, intimacy, book-reading, traveling, family events, building a home together, and even some sadness and inevitable loss as time whirls by, sand in the hourglass style. I think about the Carpenters, and how this song makes me cry. I think about the Mamas and The Papas, and how this song makes me cry a little more – but it’s all just a beautiful mess. We don’t know what lies ahead, and we are damn lucky if we can find someone whom we cherish and love enough to want to call ours for a lifetime. So to Molly and Nick – wishing you the most beautiful time ever, full of lefse, love and laughs! Truly!! With love from your friend, Lyndsay
If you’re a fan of Coco Cake Land, you know that I am nutso about vintage cakes – buttercream cakes and piping in all forms is the name of my game, and I love finding new uses for piping tips! I’m excited to show you how to use piping tips- along with a few of my favourite cakes and the handy dandy piping tips I used! Plus, a tutorial on how I made this super cute blue and green cherry topped number. Ready, set, pipe!
Piping tips are these cute metal cones (above!) with special formations on the tip, so when icing or buttercream is squeezed through the ridges and pointy parts make perfect striations in the buttercream, creating a unique shape or pattern. Piping tips can create the look of buttercream roses, leaves, grass, fur, polka dots and SO much more. Piping borders gives cakes a beautiful finish and a contrast of colour. Read my post on how to frost a cake here for a primer! Piping tips are often held in place by a coupler and a coupler ring – white plastic pieces (as shown above!) that allow you to easily attach a piping tip and switch out tips to other tips, too.
One of my favourite piping tips is the french open star tip – I’ll be using this open star tip to pipe borders on my cake!
To make this robin’s egg blue cake with jagged piped buttercream edges, first frost your cake to the crumb coat, then a final coat of buttercream.
Snip half and inch off the tip of a disposable piping bag. Place the cone part of the white coupler set into the piping bag. Place the silver piping tip on top; screw it together using the coupler ring. Fill your piping bag with buttercream!
You can practice a few patterns on a piece of parchment paper or a plate! The french open star tip can make adorable drop stars, a shell border pattern, or mini rosettes.
Pipe a shell border along the bottom of your cake – squeeze the piping bag to make a ball-like shape, then pull away to make a “tail.” Pipe the next shell on top of the tail to hide it, and continue until the entire border is finished!
Next – using the same tip but a different technique, make a big jaggedy drop star “kiss” shape! Hold the piping bag at a 90 degree angle straight up and down, and pipe a blob then pull the piping bag upward, creating a kiss like shape. I liked to pull it as high as I could for dramatic effect and look!
You could pipe the entire top of the cake like this, and I almost did – but then I decided to add a single bright red maraschino cherry to the center! I love how a maraschino cherry instantly brings you back to a 1950s diner pie or cake – or a Wayne Thiebaud painting!
Add a happy little dash of sprinkles and you’re all set to take this cutie to a party!
Celebrate life and slice on in!
Here are some of my favourite cakes and their corresponding piping tips!
This party animal pink birthday cake I made for my sister! I used a medium sized French open star tip for the fancy blobettes and pink shell border.
This beloved blue bear cake I made for Teddy’s 2nd birthday! One of my most favourite cakes ever. I use the multi-opening tip to make animal “fur” or grass! So fun.
This 1980s inspired pink rose cake with blue buttercream and pink rosettes! The classic open star tip was used to make the borders and rosette center.
I love this buttercream ruffle cake I made for my niece’s birthday! The good old large leaf tip was my friend in creating it!
Any guesses as to what tip I used to make this cake? :)
With so many cute piping ideas and endless colour options, it’s no wonder buttercream cakes are my favourite type of cake to make. Because piping tips rule so hard, Sweet Estelle is giving away a piping tip party pack! 10 different piping tips and an assortment of super cute sprinkles, yours to be won! Simply leave a comment here with an answer to one of these questions: Which is your favourite go-to piping tip, and why? (Leave me a link to one of your buttercream piped cakes!) or if you’re a piping tip novice, which piping technique are you eager to learn? Winner chosen at delightful random! CONTEST NOW CLOSED – Congratulations COURTNEY! Please email me at lyndsay (at) cococake (dot) com to claim your prize! Thanks to everyone for entering! xo
Thank you to Jennifer at Sweet Estelle for providing the giveaway, and for being one of my loyal blog sponsors! Love her to (sprinkly) bits! Follow Sweet Estelle on Instagram and Pinterest for cute baking and piping ideas!
I loved doing this interview with my sweet online cake friend Linda Lomelino of the excruciatingly brilliant food blog Call Me Cupcake. You know when a photograph of a cake makes you catch your breath, then cry in buttercream beauty-pain? No? Yes? Yes – that’s what Linda’s artful, dramatic, achingly solitary and downright salivation-inducing photos do to me, every single time.
Linda and I have been online cake pals since around 2009, when we first started blogging across the world from each other but found each other via Flickr – but this interview is the first time where I realized that perhaps we are more than just cake-loving twins – her response to her FAVOURITE MOVIES just about murdered me with cuteness. The girl loves comedy. We are both goths who make cakes and like corny jokes, living a world away! I was truly touched by the genuine, honest and open answers Linda responded with. I feel a little closer to ya, lady! So here you go: a very special interview with the one and only Linda Lomelino!
Where were you born, Linda? Please describe where you live for us!
Born and raised in Halmstad, a small city on the Swedish west coast (but still, Sweden’s 20th biggest city with almost 60 000 inhabitants, wohoo!). I still live here today actually. I think I both love and hate living here for some reason. It would be fun to live in a bigger city, but I still like living in a small town. My dream is to have a house here so I can live here during the summer because I LOVE the Swedish summer (when it’s not raining) and an apartment somewhere else during the rest of the year.
As a child, what did you want to do as a career when you grew up?
Well, in the 90s I wanted to be an FBI-agent (I watched waaay too much X-files) or a fire fighter, hehee. Then I wanted to be an actress. Then I wanted to work in fashion. Now I realize that those careers probably wouldn’t suit me at all. So I’m sticking to my cakes and my camera.
What did you do before you began baking? How did you start baking – considering you only baked twice a year previously, what happened!?
I worked in a clothing store for years trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I tried many things like painting, having a fashion blog, sewing clothes but nothing really stuck. I studied photography in highschool but I never really tried food photography. Then in 2009, cupcakes caught my attention somehow so I tried making them and I was hooked. Of course I wanted to show off my pretty cupcakes so I took some photos and realized pretty quickly that I thought it was so much fun. About two weeks later I had a baking blog. I always LOVED eating baked goods but never ever wanted to join my mom in the kitchen.
I love that in the intro of your book, you describe how you get to combine your two loves – baking and photography. What’s your process for photographing a cake? Did you take up photography to document your baking or were you always a photographer?
Yes, it’s totally the best combination ever!! The process is really different for every cake I make and I’m probably way too impulsive when it comes to both baking and photography. I never really plan what I’m going to make, and it’s the same when I decorate my cakes. I can’t always see how I should decorate it before the cake itself is done (haha, do you understand what I mean here?). I want to use the word “whim” but I’m not really sure how. Hehe. But really, it’s complete chaos both in my home and in my head when I’m feeling creative. I can usually picture the styling in my head when the cake is done, sometimes it comes out just the way I imagined it and sometimes it doesn’t. As I mentioned before I took up photography in high school but I never really found my thing back then even though I thought it was so much fun. It was pretty old school, shooting b/w film, developing film and so on, but I’m so thankful I had the chance to do that and I took so many photos of my younger brothers which they will be thankful for when they are older. Then after high school, some years passed before my mom gave me a camera (I think it was on my 23rd birthday or something), then I took up photography again.
Your style has evolved to be so artful, lively, almost painterly-like when it comes to colour and composition. How do you approach baking and its subsequent photography/styling?
Aww, thank you! I think I answered some of this in the previous question, and as I said I rarely have a plan when it comes to baking. I like styling more “artful” I guess, with lots of things happening in the picture – flowers and sometimes unexpected things like polaroids, vintage cameras, mini eiffel towers and toy cars. Surprisingly enough (I mean I wear all black clothes and our home is decorated in black, white and grey) I love lots of color in my photos.
Your photographs truly evoke certain moods and seasons, from romantic to darkly emotional (yes, even for a photo of a cake!). I love how much you incorporate flowers and nature in your styling – as well, you have a beautiful eye for using vintage props. How would you yourself define your cake aesthetic? How about your photography style?
I think you describe it very well! To me, “nordic melancholy” describes my photos pretty well. Maybe it sounds awful but I kind of like it. There is something bright and happy but still dark and moody in my photos. I think that is the contrast in the Nordic countries (and many other places too of course) both in the weather and how people act. The summer is just so bright and happy and colorful and people are outside and they are much more open. In the winter it’s really dark, only a few hours of light and people are mostly at home. I don’t know where I’m going with this really.. haha. I do love bringing in elements of nature in my photos, and that also reflects the seasons. In autumn and winter I would style with rose hip branches, spruce twigs and spruce cones for example and in spring and sum me with green elements and fresh flowers. As for my cake style, I don’t know. I like using natural styling like flowers and plants, chocolate and caramel sauce which actually makes the cakes look more difficult than they are. They’re so much more basic than you’d think! I love pouring chocolate sauce or caramel sauce on top of my cakes, makes everything look (and taste) so much better!
What are your favourite lenses? Favourite editing tools? I mostly use my 50mm/1.4 (and I have for four years now) but I recently bought a canon 24-70mm/2.8 which is amazing. I also use a 100 mm/2.8 macro lens for some close ups. I also have a wide angle lens but I rarely use that. I edit all my photos in camera raw and photoshop!
I know you also play music , and both you and your brother play in bands – where did your love of music come from? how does music and art inform your life?
Yes, that’s correct although I’m not so active at the moment. We’re mostly recording new stuff. I come from a family of musicians. My father plays the piano, guitar, he sings and records his own material. He and my mom used to be in a band together when I was a kid. My mom told me that when I was ver small I sometimes sat in her lap while she was on stage singing. I guess i must have liked it because I was apparently always quiet. So from an early age me and my brother would come along on their gigs. My dad has always been a night owl and I remember that he was always awake during the nights playing keyboard (with head phones of course) and I would find the sound of his fingers running over the keys very soothing. My brother started playing the guitar at an early age and at one point we were in a band together, he kind of forced me to join even if I couldn’t play, hehe. Now he has his own project called Summer Heart. He will actually do his first tour in America next year! And my fiancé is also a musician so you could say that all the people that are closest to me are musicians, haha! Our “office” at home is half music stuff (his side) and crap (my side). No just kidding, hehe. My side is mostly wooden boards and old cake pans and stuff. Well, crap to some people!
Who are some of your favourite bands, and films?
Oh my, that is one difficult question! I like Chromeo (Canada yaay!), iambear, Haim, Tycho, Summer Heart, Kavinsky, Bonobo, Paul Simon, Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald – all depending on my mood! And as for films I like 80′s movies such as Fletch (the soundtrack is awesome!) and Back To The Future. And I love The Intouchables. I also have to mention Home alone 1 & 2 and Elf as well. Elf is like my favorite movie of all time. Hehe. You can hear that I studied film, right?;-)
Which artists and photographers inspire you and why? (doesn’t have to be food or cake related!)
You’ve been an inspiration since the beginning Lyndsay! And Line Thit Klein is one of my favorite photographers, and she seems so incredibly nice as well! Actually, I find most of my inspiration on Instagram these days. My biggest inspirations on Instagram right now:
Your book Lomelino’s Cakes has just come out in North America. Are you ready for worldwide domination?
Haha, worldwide domination doesn’t sound like my style but I’m so incredibly happy and thankful that it has finally come out in English. I’ve always felt that English is the language of my heart in a way. Maybe it sounds stupid, but I used to think in English when I was younger, haha!
What will people learn from your latest book, Sweet Food & Photography? I can’t wait until this one comes out in English! I considered buying the Swedish one for the photos alone.
This book is so very “me” if you know what I mean, in the recipes, styling and photography. It’s 47 of my very best recipes (if I counted correctly), everything from cheesecakes to layer cakes, cupcakes, donuts, cookies – everything! In this book I also share the knowledge that I have gained throughout these years of baking, photographing and styling. There are three smaller chapters about how to pipe buttercream roses on your cupcakes, how to frost the perfect cake, how to dye your fabric with blackberries, how to find props and how to photograph and style your creations for example. So it’s perfect for anyone who is looking for some advice on food photography and styling, but also for those who enjoy baking and looking at photos, because there are tons of photos in this one! And bokus.com actually ships to Canada, not to the US though!
What would be your last meal, from start to finish?
Oh, man! I don’t know if I’m able to answer that. But i’m gonna go with homemade pizza (but I would force a super skilled pizza baker to make it for me of course!) and Crème Brûlée for dessert. That combination makes no sense at all, but who cares? It’s my last meal, hehe.
One last question: What tips or advice would you give to bakers, stylists or photographers?
For photography I would start by exploring the light in your home. Try taking photos near different windows at different times during the day, it’s incredible how much the light can change from hour to hour (or sometimes even minute to minute!). I use some very basic tricks to manipulate the light in my photos, for example when I shoot “dark pictures” it goes a little something like this: I have three windows in my living room, two small and one big next to each other. To really focus the light on the motif I pull down the blinds in the big window and one of the small ones. This way I can manipulate where the light falls. A very easy trick! And when it’s very sunny out I use a white thin curtain in front of the window to soften the light. As for styling I would suggest getting a few backgrounds and props that you really love. I love dark backgrounds and vintage props. I have lots of stuff but I tend to use the same things over and over, and about 90% or more of my things are vintage/second hand. Just getting a new background can be really inspiring! Other than that my best advice is to have fun with it, experiment as often as you can. I always say that if you want to use a busy flowery fabric as a background with say striped plates, why not? As long as you think it looks good and you are confident with your choice, no one will question you!
Consider me totally sugar crushed!! Thanks so much Linda for taking part! Find Linda online at Call Me Cupcake and follow her incredible Instagram feed. See you all soon, cake pals! xo Lyndsay
Artful Cakeful Cupcakes
by tag - not 0, greater than 1
Cooking Books: Julia, Child and Chocolate Almond Cupcakes Recipe
Addictive much? These crisp, sweet meringues crush into sugary cotton candy air on the tongue. I couldn’t get enough of popping them into my mouth! Ahhhhh I was so relieved to finally learn how to make meringue kisses. Honest to Gad, this was my fifth attempt. Each time I sucked worse than the last – instead of dense, thick clouds of meringue, mine would swoosh and bubble like tepid soup. Instead of piping perfect blobettes, mine would slump down like a teensy snowman in the sun. ARGH!
So wuh happened? What happened was this: I ended up making swiss meringue buttercream for this raspberry brownie cake and a little Chinese lightbulb went off in my head. Right before you add the butter, the meringue looks just as you would hope a meringue kiss would look: perfectly pipe-able, durable, thick, sticky and glossy. So I rolled with it.
It’s not the conventional or popular method to make meringue kisses but it worked for me so well! Anyone else had some meringue fails out there!?
Meringue kisses just add such a power blast of FUN. I used them in my recent peanut butter chocolate cake recipe birthday post as whimsical, brightly coloured cake toppers. You can serve them in cute vintage dishes at a party or wrap them up as wedding favours! Crushed, they add beautiful texture to an ice cream sundae.
Note: you will need three piping bags with piping tips. I used a plain open circle tip for the hot pink blobette look (classic “kiss” look), a small multi-pronged open star tip for the blue kisses and a jumbo open star tip for the pale pink. Another hot tip: if you hate separating eggs or are fearful of getting yolk in your egg white, you can purchase egg whites at the grocery store if you’re feeling lazy! So here you go: my how to make meringue kisses recipe!
100 meringue kisses
For The Meringues
4 large egg whites
¾ cup granulated sugar
Make The Meringue
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper.
Pour the egg whites and sugar into a heatproof bowl. Place it on top of a double boiler over a pot of simmering water. Whisk continually until the mixture reaches 150 degrees Farenheit or the sugar crystals have dissolved.
In the bowl of a stand mixer beat the mixture on high speed until it is a white and fluffy meringue, stiff, glossy and durable – about 3 minutes.
Divide meringue into three separate bowls.
Gently fold in a small amount of gel food colouring until you get the desired results!
Fill piping bags with the coloured meringue and pipe kisses on parchment paper covered baking sheets.
Bake for 1 hour in the oven; turn off oven and let them dry out for another hour.
Store meringues in an airtight container for one week.
As a child I was a total bookworm. I remember the excitement of being a kid and piling up 20 books from the library and lugging them home with my mom. We were surrounded by books as children and my favourites were always the ones with beautiful drawings of cakes or pastries or elaborate meals, or pictures of bears dispensing ice cream-like honey, or Cookie Monster ravaging a plate piled high of pink cookies. Later, when picture books morphed into junior novels then regular old booky books, it was always the pages-long descriptions of what was laid on the table at supper, from starched tablecloth to the shine of silverware to the clinking of crystal to the glugging of glasses being filled to sloshing. Now, as a mother myself, I see what a cool move that was of my mom to get us into reading! It’s that love of books that I see thusfar in my two year old son. Reading time mellows him right down as he immediately gets engrossed, points to things, practices his words, asks questions and laughs.
This book! Julia, Child by Kiyo Maclear and illustrations by Vancouver artist Julie Morstad – it’s all the things I remember loving about reading, all rolled into one beautifully illustrated book about friendship, the magic of childhood, trying, failing and trying again – and cooking, of course! Teddy loves the book too – especially the page of cooking disasters – a flopping over tiered cake, an escaping octopus, a deflated omelette! Then, a magical baking experiment – chocolate almond cupcakes with delicious chocolate centers. Those cupcakes inspired me to make some of my own! I came up with a chocolate almond cupcakes recipe thanks to both Julia Child herself and that devilishly sensuous Nigella.
My sweet memories of children’s books likely explains my love for my friend Danielle’s blog - This Picture Book Life! Her blog is so sweet, clever and fun – a blog that “explores picture books—their art, their makers, the stuff they illuminate, and all the exuberant wonderfulness they contain.” In a blogosphere stuffed with craft/DIY/food blogs (ha – all my faves) – her blog is refreshingly genuine and heartfelt. I’ve found lots of great new authors through it, and today she’s posting about Julia, Child too! Sweet!
I admit my kitchen looked very similar to Julia and Simca’s kitchen while I was making these cupcakes. Pots and pans flying everywhere, chopped chocolate, egg shells strewn on the counter, piles of bowls, and drips of batter on the floor. It was childlike chaos, and I laughed at the similarities. In the end however, out of the oven came these delicate, totally sunken in chocolate almond cupcakes, with a rich chocolate gooey texture. I filled the centers with chocolate pastry cream, sprinkled them with toasted almonds and dug right in, like a delighted child. The recipe is gluten-free, using almond flour (ground almonds). The cupcakes are very fragile, and best served with a spoon on a fancy plate.
Chocolate Almond Cupcakes With Chocolate Pastry Cream
2 dozen cupcakes
For The Cupcakes
⅔ cup vegetable oil
1 cup of dutch process cocoa powder
¾ cup boiling water
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
cups almond meal
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon of salt
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
For The Chocolate Pastry Cream
3 egg yolks
4 tablespoons sugar
¾ tablespoon flour
¾ tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
¾ cup chopped dark chocolate
For The Almonds
¼ cup toasted almonds, chopped
Make The Cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Gently oil the top of the cupcake pans and line cupcake pans with cupcake liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk cocoa powder with the boiling water until you have a smooth, thick and creamy chocolate paste. Whisk in the vanilla extract.
In another small bowl, combine the almond meal with the baking soda and salt.
Place the sugar, oil and eggs into the bowl of stand mixer with the paddle attachment and beat on high until thick and creamy, about three minutes.
With the mixer on low, add the chocolate mixture until combined.
Add the almond flour mixture until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl, about one minute.
Using a medium sized ice cream scoop, dole out the cake mixture and fill the cupcake liners just over half full.
Bake for 20 minutes – cupcakes will rise, and fall again.
Let them cool in the pans.
Make The Chocolate Pastry Cream
In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, flour and cornstarch.
In a saucepan, bring the milk and cream to a low boil.
Whisk half of the milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture, then add the egg/milk mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk.
Cook the pastry cream over medium heat, whisking constantly until thick – about 3-4 minutes.
Remove the pastry cream from the heat and add the chopped chocolate. The chocolate will melt into the hot pastry cream. Whisk to combine.
Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and power-chill in the freezer for 30 minutes, or let cool in the fridge for 2 hours to set.
Dollop two tablespoons of chocolate pastry cream into the sunken chocolate almond cupcakes.
Sprinkle with toasted almonds and finish with a fresh berry.
Toast The Almonds
Place almonds on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes (watch they don’t burn!) Let cool until crispy, then chop.
Do you have a favourite children’s book from your childhood, or one your child loves now? I’d love to hear! Happy baking, everyone! xo Lyndsay