Sunday, May 29, 2011

Fresh Strawberry Flan Cake

I always see packaged, unfilled flan cakes at the grocery stores, usually right in the produce section with all the fruits. They have a nice soft almost spongy-like feel to them. But this one is homemade (and homemade is ALWAYS better!) Instead of using a boxed vanilla pudding for the filling, I decided to make my own pastry cream. Also, do you ever notice those horrific, red blobs in containers next to the fresh strawberries that they call "strawberry glaze"? For the love of God, do not buy that crap. Just warm up an all natural, seedless berry jam (or even apricot jam) and brush that on as a glaze.

Note to Dawn: I used the Bushel and Peck's Raspberry Jam you sent me; thanks again!

3/4 cup granualted sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3 cage free egg yolks
1-1/4 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 tsp lemon extract (or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract with zest of one lemon)

Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream:
2 cups half-and-half
1 whole vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise
1/2 cup granulated sugar
pinch kosher salt
5 large cage free egg yolks
3 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons (½ stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

1 pint fresh strawberries, stemmed and hulled, sliced
1/4 seedless raspberry (or strawberry) jam, melted

equipment: one flan cake pan

Prepare pastry cream:

Heat the half-and-half, vanilla bean, 6 tablespoons of the sugar, and the salt in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until simmering, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and whisk until the sugar has begun to dissolve and the mixture is creamy, about 15 seconds. Whisk in the cornstarch until combined and the mixture is pale yellow and thick, about 20 seconds.

When the half-and-half mixture reaches a full simmer, remove the vanilla bean and scrape out all the "caviar" back into the cream mixture. Gradually whisk the simmering half-and-half into the yolk mixture to temper.

Return the mixture to the saucepan, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula; return to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until a few bubbles burst on the surface and the mixture is thickened and glossy, about 30 seconds.

Off the heat, whisk in the butter and vanilla. Strain the pastry cream through a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium bowl. Note on straining: This is key step because it will ensure that your finished pastry cream will be silky smooth with no lumps or bumps.

Press plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until cold and set, at least 3 hours or up to 2 days.

Make the flan cake:

Beat butter, sugar and yolks until fluffy. Sift dry ingredients and add alternately with flavoring and milk. blending well. Pour into greased and floured flan pan.

Bake at 350F for 25 minutes. Cool on rack for 10 minutes and invert cake onto plate.

Spoon onto flan cake and spread with an offset spatula. Arrange cut strawberries on top. Brush strawberries with raspberry glaze. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Below is our naughty night time slice!

Posted by Luisa

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Molten Chocolate Cakes

If you are a chocolate lover and you are looking for something that is ridiculously easy to make but looks like you fussed, you might want to consider these Molten Lava Cakes.  I apologize in advance to all of you trying to lose weight in time for the upcoming bathing suit season, but these are to die for (just run an extra three miles, maybe?).  Even my husband who is not a huge dessert fan said this was the best dessert he's ever had (he said it even tops Creme Brulee!).    I'll be keeping this recipe in my forever files.

Molten Chocolate Cakes (via All Recipes)


1 cup unsalted butter
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, or bars, cut into bite-size chunks
5 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
4 teaspoons flour (or matzo meal, ground in a blender to a fine powder)
8 extra-large paper muffin cups (or use regular paper muffin cups, which will make 12 cakes)


1 (6 ounce) container raspberries, barely moistened (we used a pint of strawberries) and rolled in about
1/2 cup sugar right before serving
Sweetened whipped cream


1.  Melt butter and chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water; remove from heat. Beat eggs, sugar and salt with a hand mixer in a medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Beat egg mixture into chocolate until smooth. Beat in flour or matzo meal until just combined. (Batter can be made a day ahead; return to room temperature an hour or so before baking.)

2.  Before serving dinner, adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 450 degrees. Line a standard-size muffin tin (1/2 cup capacity) with 8 extra-large muffin papers (papers should extend above cups to facilitate removal). Spray muffin papers with vegetable cooking spray. Divide batter among muffin cups.

3.  Bake until batter puffs but center is not set, 8 to 10 minutes. Carefully lift cakes from tin and set on a work surface. Pull papers away from cakes and transfer cakes to dessert plates.

4.  Top each with sugared raspberries and serve immediately.

{Find the best chocolate you can.}

{Fresh eggs from 'Our Girls'.}

{Chocolate + butter mixture ready to be incorporated with the sugar + eggs.}

{Waiting to be chilled.}

{Cracked tops.}

{Fresh, in-season strawberries macerated in sugar.}

Here are some modifications:

  • I put the batter in four ramekins (instead of 8 large muffin-sized cakes), but I estimate if you have more ramekins it would make about 5 servings.  I only have four ramekins, so the rest of the batter made four small cakes in a regular-sized muffin tin.  I didn't line them with paper; I just buttered the tin and the cakes came out easily when they were still warm.   
  • I chilled the batter before baking for about 2 hours although you can chill it overnight.  Let the cakes rest on the counter until they are at room temperature before popping them into the oven . 
  • Baking time might vary (depending on your oven and if you get impatient waiting until you can bake them).  You'll know when your lava cakes are ready:  they'll dome up and crack on top.  Immediately pull them out so you don't lose the oozy, chocolately goodness in the middle.  
  • A few reviewers said that the dessert tasted "eggy"; I didn't find this to be so, but if your eggs are freakishly huge, you could cut the number of eggs to four instead of five.

The best part is that you can make these ahead of time and they freeze well too! 

Posted by Dawn.