Suzi's Blog

Fudgy Frosting

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This post is the first of two. I had to flip a coin to see which would come first.

No, that’s not true. Look at that picture. The brownie is very good, made with cocoa and very cakey. But it is this frosting that literally tops this treat. This frosting, also made with cocoa, is universal. It adorns brownies here, but is excellent for other cookies or cakes.

The technique for this recipe lets you control the viscosity of the frosting. You start in a saucepan using 4 cups of powdered sugar. Still warm, that mixture can be easily poured over a cake, but it will definitely run. Adding more powdered sugar will gradually stiffen the frosting and I suggest doing that step by first pouring mixture out of the sauce pan and into a stand mixer. Beating with the mixer will make the incorporation of additional powdered sugar easier and will increase the rate of cooling. As the mixture cools, it stiffens, so you will more readily approach a stiffness needed to frost a cake top without having the frosting “drool” over the sides.

Remember though: having the frosting loose and flowing is a natural way to achieve a perfectly smooth surface, one that is “bakery perfect.”

The stiffening power of the powdered sugar depends on whether it is sifted and the day’s humidity. Getting to the consistency you want all depends on your frosting tasks. Add additional sugar slowly and remember: you can always add a little milk to loosen up frosting that has become too stiff for your task at hand.


Fudgy Frosting

Yield: 2+ cups

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup butter, cut into ¼-inch chunks
  • ⅓ cup whole milk or heavy cream
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 5 cups confectioners’ sugar, divided 4 cups and 1 cup

Preparation:

In a medium saucepan, place the butter, milk and cocoa. Over medium heat, melt the butter and combine the mixture while constantly whisking. Do not bring to a boil. When the butter has melted and mixture is uniform, add the vanilla.

Lower the heat to simmer and gradually add the 4 cups of confectioners’ sugar. Whisk continuously to achieve uniformity as quickly as possible.

Remove from the heat and pour mixture into a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Turn the mixer to medium and beat the mixture to being cooling and stiffening. Occasionally reduce the beater speed and add portions of the remaining cup of sugar. When the frosting has reached the consistency and temperature you need, stop the mixer and use immediately.

As the frosting cools further to room temperature it will set and resemble fudge. It will taste like it, too.

Source: Brian O’Rourke

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/4.5 for 1/25th second at ISO‑3200

 

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Lemon Pudding Cake

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Pudding is something we rarely encounter as adults. We have fond memories of Jell-O boxes and multiple servings of chocolate pudding topped with whipped cream. But pudding now? When Suzen suggests that teams coming for an event at Cooking by the Book finish their hands-on experience with pudding, well pudding cake, there is often some reluctance.

While she cannot twist someone’s arm over the phone, Suzen can be enthusiastic. She’s a believer in this delicate dessert and in the past few months I’ve gotten to eat it once or twice a week as her clients succumb to her enthusiasm. This dessert is perpetually enjoyable. Lemon is a popular flavor, right there after vanilla and chocolate. And the pudding cake has this surprising texture of creamy softness with full mouth feel. It’s not the pudding of Jell-O boxes. And it’s not solid cake. It’s pudding cake and it satisfies everyone who tastes it.

Lemon desserts often pair well with whipped cream and berries. You see in the picture above that we’ve done just that. The berries add a flavor punctuation mark that adds dimension.


Lemon Pudding Cakes

Yield: Eight 6-ounce ramekins

Ingredients:

  • Softened butter for the ramekins
  • 2 ounces (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1-⅛ ounces (1/4 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¼ plus ⅛ teaspoon table salt
  • 1-¼ cups whole milk, at room temperature
  • ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Lightly sweetened whipped cream and berries for serving (optional)

Preparation:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Butter eight 6-ounce ceramic oven-proof ramekins or Pyrex custard cups, or even better as picture: mason jars. Arrange them in a baking dish or roasting pan (a 10×15-inch or two 8×8-inch Pyrex dishes work well).

In a large bowl, whisk the melted butter with ⅔ cup of the sugar and the egg yolks until smooth and light, about 1 minute. Add the flour and salt and pour in just enough milk to whisk the flour smoothly into the egg yolk mixture. Then whisk in the remaining milk and the lemon juice until smooth. The mixture will be very fluid.

Put the egg whites in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer (a hand-held or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment) on medium speed until the whites begin to foam, 30 to 60 seconds. Increase the speed to high and beat just until the whites hold soft peaks when the beater is pulled away, another 1 to 2 minutes.

Reduce the mixer speed to medium. With the mixer running, very slowly sprinkle in the remaining ⅓ cup sugar; this should take about a minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the bowl. Beat on high speed until the whites hold medium-firm peaks when the beater is pulled away, about another 30 seconds.

Scrape one-third of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture, sprinkle the lemon zest on top, and whisk until combined. Gently incorporate the remaining whites into the batter, using the whisk in a folding/stirring motion. The batter will still be thin.

Portion the mixture evenly among the ramekins; the cakes don’t rise much, so you can fill the ramekins to within ⅛ inch of the top. Pull out the oven rack and put the baking dish full of ramekins on the rack. Pour warm water into the dish to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until the tops of the cakes are light golden and slightly puffed, and when touched with a finger, they should feel spongy and spring back a bit but hold a shallow indentation, 25 to 30 minutes. Using tongs, carefully transfer the ramekins to a rack. Let cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours before serving, with whipped cream if you like.

Source: Nicole Reese in Fine Cooking Issue 70

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/3.5 for 1/30th second at ISO‑400

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