Monday, November 28, 2011

Butter. Cream.

You're probably getting tired of me telling you that every thing I make with the daring bakers was better than the last thing.  But, I'm sorry, it's just true.

Blog-checking lines: Catherine of Munchie Musings was our November Daring Bakers’ host and she challenged us to make a traditional Filipino dessert – the delicious Sans Rival cake! And for those of us who wanted to try an additional Filipino dessert, Catherine also gave us a bonus recipe for Bibingka which comes from her friend Jun of Jun-blog.

the almond dacquoise all ready to go
Take for example this month's challenge: the Sans Rival. Apparently this is a Filipino dessert, and to the Philippines, I say thank you.  (And a big thank you to the Filipinos who studied abroad in France, where they learned to make this cake.)

Also, I should note that this dessert is traditionally made (by Filipinos) with cashews, but I don't love a cashew, so I used almonds and flavored my buttercream with almond extract too. (You can never have too much almond.) (Turns out, many people make this dessert with almonds. So I was right on.)

the first layer of dacquoise all baked and ready to be enrobed in butter. cream.

For the first time, I got to make dacquoise and the most ridiculous buttercream frosting ever. Dacquoise is whipped egg whites with nuts, which you bake into four crunchy layers, and the butter cream is...well...butter that is creamed with egg yolks and hot melted sugar.  Fair enough?

The best part? (Well, besides the butter cream and the almond dacquoise, of course.)

The whole thing is gluten free!  And not just the "let's use a medley of weird flours instead of wheat flour to make a cake that our gluten-free friends can eat" but just naturally gluten-free!

This turned out to be the best challenge of all for Thanksgiving week, since my Thanksgiving family is gluten-free. (But, thankfully, not butter-free.)  This meant I got to bring dessert, which I usually leave to my more-experienced gluten-free bakers in the group.  And bringing dessert is what this girl is all about.


frosted and stacked. not that pretty yet.
I had one minor screw up with this recipe, and it goes like this: the cake has four layers. (4!) I only have two round cake pans. No worries, the recipe says, just make sure the pans are re-buttered and floured and not too hot when you make the second round of cake layers.


When I went to pour my batter into the second round of cake pans, my stiffed-peaked whipped goodness was a soggy mess.

Stupidly (I soon learned), I put the mixer back to work on it to fluff it up some more. (This sort of works with whipped cream, but apparently NOT with dacquoise. The more I mixed, the soupier it got. Soon, I had a watery, almond-y, mess.)

Long story short: I had to send Joe out for more eggs and more almonds (On Thanksgiving morning, no less). And I had to make a half recipe of the cake to get two more layers.
an inside look at the layers
Also, the buttercream recipe makes just enough to frost this puppy. It's really okay, because you don't need any more than provided, but you have to use it sparingly between the layers. Trust me, it will all work out if you keep a clear head (and your husband's fingers out of the bowl).

Lastly, after you assemble this puppy, put her in the refrigerator. She'll cut a lot easier when she's cold.

All this to say: oh my. This is an amazing cake. The dacquoise has a bit of crunch but, after sitting in the frosting for some time, it ends up a bit noughat-y. And soft and wonderful. But mostly you're so busy enjoying the butter cream that you don't even care what it's wrapped around.

The cake making might be a bit finicky, and it uses 10 eggs (15 if you screw it up like I did) but SO SO SO good. It's worth it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Christmas List

In case you're looking for things to get me. Or things to get other cool cats.

1. Tiny, tiny earrings.

2. Bubble calendar. Um, hello? A bubble to pop for each day? Sign me up.

3. Long arm-warmers. Colors? You know, brown, green, whatever.

4. Tiny instant-photo camera. Because Polaroid is no more.

5. Paper mache animal head. Because we can.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Things I forgot...

I've been looking through old photos and found a few gems I forgot to show you...

This pillow is cute, but may not be so comfortable to lean on...

shameless detail close up shot

t-shirt scrap rose! how fabulous is that?

tiny fish button, thus the discomfort


birthday card, celebrating a monumental year

namely, my mother's 60th birthday present and its corresponding card!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


don't use roasted almonds. they're not white.

Did you know you can blanch your own almonds? And that it's so easy?

Thank you Marcella Hazan, who has taught me to make her grandmother's pastry ring (which is then dipped in vin santo and makes me melt), my husband to make the most amazing meatballs, and now me to blanch almonds.

First off, if you want them to be pretty and pale, don't used toasted almonds, like I did. (But that's what I had.)

textured cloth. cool water. rub.

Second, boil them for 2 minutes.

Strain.  Using a cool, wet cloth, rub the almonds a bit.

(Or, if you're me and you like the fun of it, squeeze the almonds from their wet shells one by one like so many shrimp.)

Ta Da! The shells come right off.


Genius. Pure. Genius.

(As I was doing this, I kept exclaiming at the wonders of old-timey cookery. How many things do we buy in the grocery store that our grandmothers used to do/make/create on their own? I would like to start a list.)

1. Pre-sifted flour.
2. Blanched almonds.