Neapolitan Mallomars (chocolate-covered marshmallow cookies)

neapolitan mallomar
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Whether you call them Mallomars, whippets, krembos, Viva Puffs, mallowpuffs, pinwheels, or chocolate tea cakes, chocolate-covered marshmallow cookies are beloved childhood treats around the world. Today I’m sharing a homemade Neapolitan version, which fuses vanilla shortbread, strawberry marshmallow, and dark chocolate coating. These cookies are a blast to make and sure to delight the entire family!

These neapolitan mallomars are a little bit of a project, but none of the elements are too difficult. To divide the work I like to bake the shortbread bases one day, then make the marshmallow and dip the cookies in chocolate the next. However, you can make these in one afternoon — choose a time when you are relaxed and ready to have fun in the kitchen!

To temper or not to temper

Recently over on Instagram I asked how people felt about tempering chocolate. Most people said they’d rather not, with “I’ve never done it before” or “It takes too long” being the main reasons. I understand that working with chocolate can seem intimidating, especially if you don’t do it often — I’m definitely no expert!

But if unfamiliarity is the only thing holding you back, I encourage you to give tempering chocolate a shot for this recipe. It’s a fantastic skill to have, and nothing can truly replace the shine and snap of well-tempered chocolate. I used the cocoa butter silk tempering method this time (yes, I made my own silk because we’re still stay-at-home over here so why not). If you have the time and tools for this (sous vide machine, cocoa butter) give it a shot — I was really happy with how easy it was! But if not, this article on chocolate tempering from Sugar Geek Show walks you through a few options. Choose whichever makes the most sense for you!

However, if you’d really rather not temper you can cover the cookies with a mixture of chocolate and coconut oil, which will set nice and snappy in the fridge. If you go this route the chocolate shell will look a little less pristine and you will need to store the cookies in the fridge, but the end product will still taste wonderful.

Baker’s notes:

  • Freeze-dried strawberries are the key ingredient to making a vibrantly fruity marshmallow. I buy mine online, but check your grocery store or local specialty food store as well. Don’t grind the strawberries until you’re ready to make the marshmallow — the strawberry powder tends to clump with exposure to air. If you can’t find freeze-dried strawberries, you can leave it out for a plain marshmallow center.
  • Before dipping the cookies, I like to pour the melted chocolate into a tall, narrow vessel (like a deli quart container). Choose something microwave-safe so that if the chocolate starts to cool and thicken too much, you can reheat it gently (5 second bursts in the microwave, stirring well after each!).
neapolitan mallomars

Neapolitan Mallomars

Makes about 30 cookies

Ingredients:

For the vanilla shortbread:
  • 150g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 50g icing (powdered) sugar
  • Scant 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • Seeds from one vanilla bean (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 165g all-purpose flour
For the strawberry marshmallow:
  • 45g freeze-dried strawberries
  • 14g powdered gelatin
  • 76g water (for blooming the gelatin)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 76g water (for the sugar syrup)
  • 95g corn syrup
  • 227g granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
For the chocolate coating:
  • 340g good-quality semisweet chocolate (I used Callebaut 54.5%), tempered
  • 34g refined coconut oil (optional, if not tempering the chocolate)

Method:

For the vanilla shortbread:

Make the shortbread dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a handheld mixer), combine the butter, icing sugar, vanilla bean seeds (if using), and salt. Mix on low to combine, then increase the speed to medium and beat until smooth and well-combined, about 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the paddle and sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and beat well to combine. Turn the mixer down to low and add the flour, mixing just to combine. Use a flexible spatula to fold from the bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is well-mixed and there are no pockets of unincorporated flour. If the dough is very soft and sticky, cover and chill for about 10 minutes before proceeding.

Roll and chill the dough: Transfer dough to a piece of parchment paper and pat into a square about 1-inch (2.5-cm) thick. Place another piece of parchment on top and roll dough to about ¼-inch (6-mm) thick, lifting the top piece of parchment occasionally to avoid creases in the dough. Slide dough onto a baking sheet (still sandwiched between pieces of parchment). Refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days.

Cut and bake the shortbread cookies: When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F with a rack in the middle. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper (I reuse one of the sheets sandwiching the cookie dough). Use a 1 3/4″ round cookie cutter to cut circles, gathering and rerolling the scraps until the dough is used up. Place cookies on the prepared sheet, spacing about 1″ apart (they won’t spread much).

Bake cookies until set and the edges are lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack before assembling.

For the strawberry marshmallow:

Make the freeze-dried strawberry powder and prep your tools: Place the freeze-dried strawberries in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until they form a fine powder. Set aside. Fit a piping bag with a 1/2″ round tip. Arrange all the cooled shortbread cookies on a parchment-lined sheet pan. (Once the marshmallow is whipped, you must immediately pipe it onto the cookies before it starts to set.)

Bloom the gelatin: In a small, wide bowl, mix the gelatin with 76g cool water and the vanilla extract. Stir to combine, making sure all the gelatin is saturated. Leave to bloom while you prepare the sugar syrup.

Cook the sugar syrup: In a medium (3-3.5L) heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the remaining 76g water, corn syrup, sugar, and salt. Stir to combine. Place over medium heat. Stir occasionally with a heat-proof spatula or fork until the mixture starts bubbling, then stop stirring (stirring a boiling sugar syrup can encourage crystallization). Clip on a digital thermometer and continue cooking the syrup until it reaches 250F.

Cool the syrup: Once the syrup reaches temperature, carefully pour the hot syrup into the bowl of a stand mixer, using a flexible, heat-resistant spatula to scrape the pot. Let the syrup cool until it registers 212F on a digital thermometer, about 4-5 minutes.

Whip the marshmallow: Once the syrup has cooled to 212F, scrape the bloomed gelatin into the bowl. Carefully transfer the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium low until the gelatin has melted, then increase the speed to medium-high and whisk until the mixture is fluffy, thick, and roughly tripled in volume and the mixer bowl has cooled to room temperature, about 10 minutes. Turn off the mixer and add the strawberry powder. Mix for about 15-30 seconds, or until powder is evenly mixed in. Grease a flexible spatula or plastic bowl scraper and scrape the marshmallow into the prepared piping bag.

Pipe the marshmallow: To pipe the marshmallow, hold your piping bag at a 90-degree angle about half an inch above a cookie. Squeeze until a mound of marshmallow covers the entire base, then slowly pull up as you stop squeezing. Repeat with the remaining cookies. You can leave the marshmallows with little peaks, or use a damp finger to flatten them down. Let set at room temperature, uncovered, until set and no longer sticky — about 45-60 minutes. (If you have any remaining marshmallow, pipe it onto a piece of parchment and let it set overnight; then cut into cubes and toss with equal parts cornstarch and icing sugar. Store in an airtight container.)

For the chocolate coating:

Prepare the chocolate: When you’re ready to dip the cookies, temper chocolate using your preferred method. Alternatively, chop the chocolate into small, even pieces. Heat the chopped chocolate and coconut oil together in 20-second bursts in the microwave, stirring well in between, until just melted. Be careful not to overheat.

Dip the cookies: Place a piece of parchment under a large wire cooling rack. Holding a cookie by the base, dunk into the chocolate to completely coat marshmallow. Hold upside-down for a few seconds to let any excess chocolate drip off back into the bowl, then place cookie-side-down on the wire rack. Repeat with remaining cookies. If using tempered chocolate, let cookies set at cool room temperature for about an hour before enjoying. If using chocolate-coconut oil coating, refrigerate for about 15 minutes until set. Store leftover cookies in an airtight container for at least a week. Tempered chocolate cookies can be kept at room temperature; chocolate-coconut oil-coated cookies should be stored in the refrigerator.

mallomars on plate

Related articles and recipes:

Chinese Bakery Style Paper-Wrapped Sponge Cakes

chinese paper wrapped sponge cakes
Note: This post contains affiliate links.

Mildly sweet and impossibly fluffy, these paper-wrapped sponge cakes have been a favorite of mine since childhood. Along with gai mei bao (coconut cocktail buns) and dan tat (egg tarts), these simple cakes were a must-buy every time we visited a Chinese bakery. After years of attempting to recreate these treats at home, I’m so happy to finally share this recipe with you.

Tang-mian or “cooked dough” method

For this recipe, I use a technique known as tang mian, or cooked dough. Basically, the flour is “cooked” with heated oil and milk before getting mixed with other ingredients. Pre-coating the flour with fat limits gluten formation and yields an extra fluffy, moist, and cottony-textured cake. I’m not sure exactly where this technique originated, but it’s been popular amongst Asian bakers for quite some time. I’ve been experimenting with tang-mian recently and appreciate the textural difference particularly in tall cakes (less so in roll cakes, but that’s another recipe for another day). Try it and see what you think!

Keys to sponge cake success

As with all sponge-style cakes, the keys to success for these cupcakes are properly whipped egg whites and good folding technique.

This cake batter doesn’t contain any leavening agents (i.e. baking powder or soda). Instead, the rise all comes from the meringue — egg whites and sugar that are whipped to stiff peaks and folded into the batter.

I also use cold egg whites for this recipe. While most North American sponge or chiffon cake recipes direct you to use room temperature eggs, Asian cake recipes often call for using cold egg whites. Cold egg whites take longer to whip to stiff peaks, but this allows time to form a very fine and strong meringue with minimal risk of overbeating (a pinch of cream of tartar helps too). I mix on no higher than medium speed for.a smooth meringue with very small, even bubbles — this results in velvety-textured, smooth cake with no unsightly holes. You want to whip the meringue to stiff, shiny peaks for this recipe. This article from Fine Cooking pictures the various stages of meringue — very helpful!

Once you’ve created your perfect meringue, the trick is to incorporate it into the rest of the ingredients while still retaining the structure and air you’ve worked so hard to create. I start by whisking a small amount of meringue into the yolk batter to “temper” it, then scraping the yolk batter over the meringue and using a whisk to fold the two mixtures together. When just a few streaks of white remain, I switch to a silicone spatula and finish folding until the batter is all one color. You can also fold the meringue into the yolk batter in a few portions; but after making many, many chiffon and sponge cakes I find this method is more efficient — plus, I don’t end up with any film of yolk batter at the bottom of my mixing bowl. But use whatever folding method you prefer!

The molds

chinese flower sponge cake mold

If you grew up eating paper-wrapped sponge cakes, you may know that they are typically baked in flower-shaped individual tins. These tins are taller than typical cupcake molds and give these cakes their iconic shape. I got these flower cake molds from Hong Kong via a very kind friend. They are just under 2 3/4″ tall, just under 3″ wide at the top, and 1 7/8″ wide at the bottom (7cm tall, 7.1cm wide on top, 4.5cm wide on bottom).

Here are a few sources and ideas for finding for these tins:

Because I have such strong memories associated with these paper-wrapped cakes, using the proper molds absolutely enhanced my enjoyment of making them. The memories are not just about the taste of the cake — it’s the look and feel of them in your hand, the memory of peeling off the paper and slowly shredding off long pieces. If you have similar nostalgia and want to recreate this specific food memory, I think it’s 100% worth it to track some down.

HOWEVER! You can bake this batter in other cupcake or popover tins or even oven-safe paper cups — the cakes will still taste good. Here’s how I would calculate how much batter to fill a different-sized tin.

  • Weigh how much water it takes to fill your mold to the top and note the number in grams. For reference, one of my flower-shaped tins holds 180g of water, filled right to the top. You’ll sse these two numbers to calculate about how much batter to use per tin and your yield.
  • For example, one of my regular cupcake wells fits 100g of water. 100/180 = ~0.56. So, one of my regular cupcake wells holds 56% of the volume of one flower tin.
  • I use ~90g of batter per flower-shaped tin. Based on the previous calculation, I need 56% of that amount to fill a regular cupcake well. 90 x 0.56 = ~50. So I would use about 50g per cupcake mold, for a yield of 10-11 cupcakes. (90 x 6 = 540, total batter yield. 540 / 50 = 10.8. The recipe makes a little more than 540g to account for some loss in the bowls and utensils, so you should be able to get 11.)
  • Please note that the yield and baking time will vary depending on the size of your tin(s). Smaller, shallower cakes will bake faster than taller, thicker cakes.

It’s important to line whatever molds you use with parchment paper that extends the top edge. These delicate cakes rise quite a bit during baking and need the support. For my molds, I cut 7.5″ square papers out of parchment and followed this lining technique from Christine’s Recipes. For best results, take the time to crease the papers and get them to lie as flat as possible within the mold so batter doesn’t flow between the folds of the paper. I do NOT recommend using the method where you squish a paper into the mold using a similar-sized cup; though you can use a second mold to press the paper in tightly once you’ve folded and creased it.

Baker’s notes:

  • For best results, weigh your yolks and whites for this recipe. I use large eggs that typically weigh about 60g with shell, but even so I have noticed a surprising variance in how much large eggs weigh from brand to brand.
  • Cake flour helps achieve the very cottony, fine texture that is characteristic of these cakes. I do not recommend replacing with all-purpose. Cake flour tends to clump so I I sift it twice, once before adding to the milk-oil mixture and another time when I add it to the liquid.
chinese paper wrapped sponge cakes

Chinese Bakery Style Paper-Wrapped Sponge Cakes

Makes 6 large flower-shaped cupcakes (please read notes under “The Molds” if using different tins)

Ingredients:

  • 84g whole milk
  • 50g neutral oil (such as grapeseed or canola)
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g cake flour, sifted
  • 100g egg yolks (from about 5 large eggs), cold
  • 150g egg whites (from about 5 large eggs), cold
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar (optional — can sub with 1 tsp lemon juice)
  • 84g granulated sugar, preferably caster or superfine

Method:

Preheat the oven and prepare the tins: Preheat the oven to 350F with a rack in the middle. Line cupcake tins with parchment paper so the paper extends the rim of the mold (see above video for method). Place tins, evenly spaced, in a 9×13 baking pan or on a sheet tray.

Set up a bain-marie and heat milk and oil: Fill a medium saucepan with 1-2 inches of water. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Meanwhile, whisk together the milk and oil in a medium heatproof bowl. Once the water reaches a gentle simmer, set the bowl over the simmering water (make sure the bottom of the bowl isn’t touching the water). Whisk over the heat constantly until the mixture reaches 150F on an instant-read digital thermometer, about 3-4 minutes. Turn off the heat and remove the bowl.

Make the yolk batter: Whisk the salt and vanilla into the warm milk-oil mixture. Sift in the cake flour and whisk until smooth. Let cool for 1-2 minutes (to avoid cooking the yolks), then whisk in the egg yolks one at a time. The batter should be smooth and shiny. Set aside.

Make the meringue: Place the egg whites in a spotlessly clean bowl — choose something large and wide as eventually you’ll be mixing all the batter in it. Using an electric handheld mixer, whisk egg whites on low until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue whisking on low to medium-low until the bubbles tighten and resemble shaving cream. Add the sugar a spoonful at a time, whisking all the while. Turn the speed up to medium and whisk until the meringue holds stiff, shiny peaks when the beaters are raised slowly.

Combine the two batters: Whisk the egg yolk batter briefly to loosen. Add a large spoonful of meringue and fold in using a whisk or flexible spatula. Scrape the egg yolk batter into the bowl with the remaining meringue. Use a whisk to gently but thoroughly fold the mixtures together. Avoid stirring — we want to retain as much air as possible. Once the two mixtures are about 80% combined, switch to a flexible spatula and continue folding until you have one homogenous batter with no streaks of egg white remaining.

Portion the batter: Divide the batter among the prepared tins (for my flower shaped tins, about 90g each). The tins should be filled to the top. I used a medium cookie scoop to portion the batter; alternatively you can transfer the batter to a piping bag and pipe it into the tins.

Bake the cakes: Bake until cakes are golden and springy to the touch and a skewer inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Try not to open the oven until the cakes are close to being done, or the delicate cakes may collapse. Immediately remove cupcakes from the tins and lay on their sides to cool on a wire cooling rack. This helps minimize shrinkage — a little is normal, but if cakes shrink significantly this is usually due to underbaking or a problem with the meringue/folding. Cakes are best enjoyed the day they’re baked, but leftovers can be stored for a couple days in an airtight container at room temperature or the refrigerator. Enjoy at room temperature.

paper wrapped sponge cake unwrapped

Related resources and recipes:

Chocolate and Raspberry Mousse Cake with Dark Chocolate Mirror Glaze

chocolate raspberry mousse cake
Note: this post contains affiliate links.

For obvious reasons, I haven’t made many fancy cakes this past year. It’s hard to work up the enthusiasm when sharing celebrations with your extended family and friends isn’t an option (Zoom doesn’t count). But this week was my husband’s birthday, his second pandemic one. And even if the days of the past year have crawled along ever so slowly (especially lately — pandemic fatigue is real, I tell you), it still felt necessary to acknowledge their passing. With cake.

There’s a recipe called David’s Chocolate Raspberry Cake in my book. It’s his favorite, the classic combination of deep chocolate cake, bright raspberries, and silky chocolate frosting. He would have been more than happy with that, but I was in the mood for a Project. I didn’t dare stray from the chocolate-raspberry flavor combination, so this was all about repackaging. We start with the same chocolate cake, but this time the raspberry shows up an an intense gelée, a smooth crémeux (basically a fancy set pudding), and in the rich chocolate mousse. All of that is doused in a gloriously shiny glaze and sprinkled with chocolate crumbs (which taste like oreos) for texture. It was good, very good.

chocolate raspberry mousse cake inside

Tips for making mousse cakes

It’s all about the timing

Layered mousse cakes look impressive and complicated, but they aren’t necessarily more difficult to assemble than a “regular” layer cake. While there are several components, none are difficult to prepare and most can be made ahead of time. I suggest spreading the work out over a few days to keep the process relaxed and fun. For example, this is the schedule I followed:

  • Day 1: Make chocolate cake (store in fridge), gelée (freeze), and crémeux (freeze)
  • Day 2: Make chocolate crumbs, chocolate mousse, and assemble cake (freeze overnight)
  • Day 3 (serving day): Make glaze, glaze and decorate frozen cake, defrost in fridge, eat!

You can definitely condense the project into 2 days. However, the key timing points are to make sure the gelée/crémeux are frozen before assembly, the mousse is used right before assembly, and the entire cake is frozen before glazing. Once glazed, the cake will need at least 2 hours in the fridge to defrost before eating.

chocolate mirror glaze

Useful equipment

There are a few pieces of equipment that make assembling mousse cakes straightforward and produce sleek results.

  • Cake ring: Mousse cakes are often assembled in stainless steel rings that act as molds. I used a 6×3 cake ring.
  • Acetate: Also known as cake collars, these thin, transparent sheets line the cake ring and make the frozen cake easy to unmold. I used 3″ high acetate cut to fit the ring.
  • Instant-read digital thermometer: Important for the crémeux and mirror glaze, which are cooked or cooled to exact temperatures for best results. My favorite is the Thermapen.
  • Immersion blender: Not strictly necessary, but does help remove lumps from mirror glaze for a smooth finish. I use this Hamilton Beach immersion blender.

Specialty ingredients

  • Powdered gelatin: Gelatin is the setting agent in several layers. I generally use powdered because it’s readily available in my area. You’ll need 26g total (if you’re using packets, this is a little less than 4 packets).
  • Ruby chocolate: Ruby chocolate is a special variety of chocolate that is naturally pink. It has a unique fruity flavor that pairs really well with raspberries. I use Callebaut brand.
  • Raspberry puree: You will need 260g raspberry puree total for all the components. You can buy pre-made puree online from some specialty baking / food stores, or make your own. To make raspberry puree, I simply blended one 400g bag of frozen raspberries (after thawing). I used puree with seeds for the gelée, but strained out the seeds for the crémeux and mousse. I had just enough puree; so if you want to use all seedless I would start with ~550g frozen raspberries to ensure you have enough after straining.

Baker’s notes:

  • Before making the dark chocolate raspberry mousse, I recommend having your cake and gelée-crémeux layers trimmed and all your equipment for assembly ready to go. The gelatin in the mousse will begin setting as soon as you add the cream, and the longer you wait the harder it will be to spread.
  • I had intended to use another layer of cake but didn’t have quite enough room on after adding the gelée and crémeux. Next time I make this, I’ll put the first round of cake directly on the bottom of the cake ring and pipe mousse around it. That should give just enough room for another extra cake layer.
  • I didn’t use a piping bag to add the mousse and ended up missing a couple spots around the crémeux. I filled them in with some ganache before glazing, and that worked ok. But after about a day in the fridge the glaze sort of wrinkled where the ganache was (probably because it was a different density compared the mousse). So I definitely recommend using a piping bag and taking care to get all the edges filled with mousse for the cleanest finish!
  • The recipe for chocolate crumb makes quite a lot; feel free to cut in half or even a quarter depending on how much you want to use for garnish. I made a full batch to freeze extras for snacking and other projects.

Chocolate and Raspberry Mousse Cake with Dark Chocolate Mirror Glaze

Makes one 6×3 mousse cake (serves 8-12) | Chocolate cake recipe adapted from Baked to Order; raspberry gelée, dark chocolate raspberry mousse, and dark chocolate glaze adapted from Dominique Ansel’s Everyone Can Bake; ruby raspberry crémeux adapted from Felicia Mayden; chocolate crumb adapted from Milk

Ingredients:

For the chocolate cake (Makes one 8″ round):
  • 57g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 27g neutral vegetable oil
  • 60g whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 125g all-purpose flour
  • 34g Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 165g light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 80g sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 60g freshly brewed coffee
For the raspberry gelée (makes about 240g or 1 cup):
  • 20g cold water
  • 4g (scant 1 1/4 tsp) powdered gelatin
  • 185g raspberry puree (with or without seeds)
  • 30g granulated sugar
For the ruby raspberry crémeux (makes about 435g or 1 3/4 c):
  • 140g heavy cream (35%), divided
  • 3g (1 tsp) powdered gelatin
  • 115g ruby chocolate, chopped
  • 20g corn syrup
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 100g whole milk
  • 40g seedless raspberry puree
For the chocolate crumb (makes about 350g or 2 1/2 c):
  • 105g all-purpose flour
  • 4g (1 tsp) cornstarch
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 65g Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 4g (1 tsp) kosher salt
  • 85g butter, melted
For the dark chocolate raspberry mousse (makes about 750g or 3 c):
  • 7g (2 1/4 tsp) powdered gelatin
  • 214g dark chocolate, chopped (I used half 54.5% Callebaut, half 70% Callebaut)
  • 182g whole milk, divided
  • 35g seedless raspberry puree
  • 315g cream (35%)
For the dark chocolate mirror glaze (makes about 500g or 2 c):
  • 60g cold water
  • 12g (4 tsp) powdered gelatin
  • 70g unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch-processed)
  • 140g heavy cream
  • 75g room temperature water
  • 200g granulated sugar

To assemble:

Method:

For the chocolate cake:

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) with a rack in the middle. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper, then grease the pan again and dust with the cocoa powder.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. When the butter has melted, remove from the heat, and whisk in the oil, milk, and vanilla. Allow to cool slightly while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Set aside.

Whisk the sour cream into the butter mixture, followed by the egg. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry until combined. Add the hot coffee and whisk just until smooth.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a skewer inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs, about 25-32 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Once the pan is cool enough to handle, run an offset spatula around the edge and turn the cake out to finish cooling completely. Wrap and chill the cake in the fridge until ready to assemble.

For the raspberry gelée:

Line a 6-inch cake pan with plastic wrap. Set aside.

Bloom the gelatin: Combine the cold water and gelatin in a small bowl. Stir with a spoon until the gelatin has dissolved. Allow to bloom for 5-10 minutes.

Cook the gelée: In a medium saucepan, bring the raspberry puree and sugar to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Once the mixture comes to a simmer, remove from heat. Add the gelatin mixture and whisk to combine, making sure the gelatin completely dissolves.

Set the gelée: Pour the gelée into the prepared pan. Freeze until firm before adding crémeux, about 1 hour.

For the ruby raspberry crémeux:

Bloom the gelatin: Combine the gelatin and 15g of the heavy cream in a small bowl. Stir with a spoon until the gelatin has dissolved. Allow to bloom for 5-10 minutes.

Make the crémeux: Place the chopped ruby chocolate in a medium heat-safe bowl and set a fine-meshed sieve over it.

Place egg yolk in a medium bowl. Heat the corn syrup in the microwave until warm. Slowly whisk into the egg yolk until smooth (warming the corn syrup helps temper the yolk).

In a small saucepan, combine the remaining 120g heavy cream and whole milk. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Once the cream-milk mixture comes to a simmer, slowly whisk into the egg yolk mixture until well incorporated. Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture reaches 180F on a digital thermometer. Remove from heat, then add bloomed gelatin and whisk to combine thoroughly. Strain mixture over the chocolate. Let sit for one minute, then whisk together to form a smooth emulsion. Add the raspberry puree and whisk in thoroughly.

Freeze the crémeux: Pour crémeux over set raspberry gelée. Freeze uncovered until top is set, about 1 hour. Press a piece of plastic wrap on top and freeze until completely solid, at least 5 hours or overnight.

For the chocolate crumb:

Preheat the oven to 300F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt until well combined. Add the melted butter and stir until the mixture forms small clusters.

Spread the clusters in one layer on the prepared baking sheet. (I like to squeeze some clumps together to get a mixture of bigger and smaller pieces.) Bake for 20-22 minutes, stirring occasionally to promote even baking. The clumps should be slightly moist to the touch; they will harden as they cool.

Let crumbs cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container. Store at room temperature for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month.

For the dark chocolate raspberry mousse:

Note: prepare the mousse right before assembling the cake.

Combine the gelatin and 35g whole milk in a small bowl. Stir until the gelatin has dissolved. Set aside to bloom for 5-10 minutes.

Place the chopped dark chocolate in a medium bowl and set a fine-meshed sieve over it.

Put the remaining 147g milk in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat until steaming, stirring occasionally. Once steaming, remove from heat and whisk in the bloomed gelatin mixture.

Strain over the chopped chocolate. Let mixture sit, without stirring, for 30 seconds; then whisk until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Add the raspberry puree and whisk until completel.ombined. Let cool at room temperature while you whip the cream (you want the ganache to be slightly warm when combining with the cream).

Place the cold heavy cream in a large bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixture fitted with the whisk attachment). Whisk on medium speed until soft peaks form.

Slowly pour the ganache into the whipped cream a little at a time, gently folding it in with a spatula until just combined. Transfer to a piping bag and use immediately.

Assemble the chocolate raspberry mousse cake:

Note: I recommend preparing the cake ring and trimming the layers before making the dark chocolate raspberry mousse.

Line the inside of a 6×3 cake ring with acetate and set on a plastic-lined sheet pan. Make sure you have space in your freezer where the sheet pan can fit flat so the cake can freeze properly.

Trim the cake and gelée-crémeux rounds so both are about 1/4″ to 1/2″ smaller than the cake ring (5 1/2″ to 5 3/4″ inches in diameter). Trim the cake to about 1/2″ thickness. (Save leftovers for snacking or another project, or see baker’s notes for thoughts on using more cake layers.)

Prepare the dark chocolate raspberry mousse (see above).

Pipe about 1/2″ of mousse into the bottom of the cake ring. Lightly tap the pan to ensure there are no air bubbles and smooth the top with an offset spatula. Set the cake layer on top of the mousse and gently press into the mousse until the mousse comes over the edge of the cake a bit. Pipe in about 3/4″ layer of mousse into the cake ring covering the cake layer. Set the gelée-crémeux layer on top of the mousse, gelée side on top. Gently press into the mousse until the mousse comes up the edge of the crémeux. Pipe mousse around the edge of the gelée-crémeux, then pipe in mousse to fill the remainder of the mold. Tap pan again to remove any air bubbles. Smooth the top so it is perfectly flush with the top of the mold. (You may have a little mousse leftover — consider it a baker’s treat!)

Transfer the sheet pan to the freezer. Freeze until solid, at least 3 hours or overnight.

Make the dark chocolate glaze:

Note: prepare glaze about 1-2 hours before you want to glaze the cake, or at least 3-4 hours before serving. After glazing the cake will still need fully defrost in the fridge before serving.

Combine the gelatin and 60g cold water in a medium bowl. Stir until the gelatin has dissolved. Set aside to bloom for 5-10 minutes.

Sift the cocoa powder into a medium saucepan. Add the 75g room temperature water and stir to form a thick paste. Add a small amount of cream and whisk to loosen. Add the remaining cream and sugar and whisk to combine.

Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking until the sugar has dissolved. Cook, whisking occasionally, until the glaze just comes to a boil, about 3-5 minutes.

Set a fine-meshed sieve over the bloomed gelatin and pour the glaze through the sieve. Whisk to combine and melt the gelatin. Blend with an immersion blender to remove lumps and air bubbles. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface and cool to 95F before glazing the cake (this took me about an hour). Right before glazing, strain glaze again into a tall pouring container to remove any air bubbles — pour from a low distance for best results. (Note: glaze can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week; rewarm in the microwave to 95F before using.)

Glaze the mousse cake:

At least 3 hours before serving, unmold and glaze the cake. Line a sheet pan with plastic wrap and set a sturdy plastic container or 4″ cake pan on top. (You want something smaller than the diameter of the cake so the glaze will drip off properly, but make sure it’s level and sturdy.) Take the cake out of the freezer and remove the cake ring. Move the cake to a 6″ cake board and remove the acetate. Double check the glaze is at working temperature — at 95F — before glazing. If not, wrap cake tightly in plastic and keep in freezer until ready to glaze — the cake must be frozen and not starting to melt when the glaze is applied.

In one swift and confident motion, pour most of the glaze over the center of the cake. If everything is at the proper temperature, the glaze should flow down and cling to the sides of the cake. If there are any spots that get missed, use an offset spatula to gently smear some extra glaze on. Let set for a couple of minutes, then use an offset spatula to cut off any stray drips at the base of the cake.

Finish and serve the mousse cake

Use a cake lifter or a couple of offset spatulas to move the glazed cake onto a serving plate. (The extra glaze can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week or frozen; rewarm before using.) Decorate with chocolate crumbs at this point if desired (they will adhere better when the glaze is still a little sticky). Transfer cake to the refrigerator to thaw completely before serving (at least 2 hours, or up to a couple days). Decorate with edible glitter paint, and fresh raspberries (brushed with some warmed apricot jam for shine), if desired, before serving.

chocolate raspberry mousse cake slice

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Blueberry Rye Scones

blueberry rye scones

Meet my favorite coffee companion. Crisp on the outside, tender and fruit-studded on the inside, these blueberry rye scones are everything I want in a breakfast treat. As with pie dough, I always make scones with a portion of wholegrain flour for an extra dimension of flavor. I love the pairing of earthy rye with berries; but spelt, einkorn, or whole wheat work fine as well. The lemon glaze is optional for me, but not for my kids. If you’re going with the glaze, feel free to add the zest of the lemon into the scone dough.

Baker’s notes:

  • If you’re like me and don’t even think about baking BC (before coffee), prep the scones in advance through the chilling and cutting step. Freeze directly on the sheet tray until solid, then transfer the frozen scones to a ziplock bag and bake them off as needed (they’ll likely need a few extra minutes of bake time).
blueberry rye scone

Blueberry Rye Scones

Makes 8 scones | Adapted from Baked to Order

Ingredients:

For the blueberry rye scones:

  • 250g (2 c) all-purpose flour
  • 63g (2/3 c) whole rye flour
  • 50g (1/4 c) granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt (Diamond Crystal; use half as much for table salt)
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 85g (6 Tbsp) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 170g (1 1/4 c) fresh blueberries
  • 120g (1/2 c) cold heavy cream, plus more for brushing
  • 60g (1/4 c) sour cream, cold
  • 1 large egg, cold
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract (optional)
  • Coarse sugar, for sprinkling

For the lemon glaze (optional):

  • 60g (1/2 c) icing sugar, sifted
  • 2-3 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more as needed

Method:

  • Make the scone dough: Line a 6-inch cake pan with plastic wrap and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, ginger, and nutmeg.
  • Add the cold, cubed butter to the dry ingredients and cut it into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter or your fingers. You should have varying sizes of butter pieces, ranging from pea to nickel shaped. Gently fold in the blueberries.
  • Whisk together the heavy cream, sour cream, egg, and extracts. Pour over the dry ingredients and gently fold in with a spatula until combined. The dough should be a bit shaggy, but should hold together. If not, add more cold cream 1 teaspoon at a time until it does. Gently fold the dough onto itself until it becomes a cohesive mass.
  • Chill the dough and preheat the oven: Transfer dough to the prepared cake pan and freeze for about 20-30 minutes or until slightly hardened. While scones are chilling, preheat the oven to 425°F with a rack in the middle. Stack two baking sheets together and line the top one with parchment paper. (I like to bake these scones with an extra baking sheet underneath to keep the bottoms from browning too much.)
  • Cut and bake the scones: When scone dough is chilled, invert onto a cutting board and use a sharp knife to cut like a pie into eight wedges. Transfer scones to prepared sheet pan. Lightly brush the tops with cream and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
  • Bake for 22-30 minutes, rotating pan halfway through, until the tops and bottoms are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  • Glaze and enjoy: While the scones are cooling, make the glaze. Sift the icing sugar into a medium bowl. Add 2 tsp lemon juice and whisk until smooth. Add more lemon juice, a teaspoon at a time, until the glaze is smooth and pourable. Drizzle or spoon over the scones. Enjoy immediately.
  • Storage: Scones are best freshly baked, but you can store them well wrapped at room temperature for a few days. (I would hold off on glazing until you’re ready to eat them.) Reheat for 5 to 10 minutes in a 350°F (175°C) oven. You can also freeze scones unbaked and bake them straight from frozen (you may need to add a few extra minutes of baking time).
unglazed blueberry rye scones

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Brown butter mochi squares (gluten-free)

brown butter mochi squares
Note: This post may contain affiliate links

Many of the treats I remember my mom making came from a well-used Hawaiian church cookbook, a gift from her family in Oahu. Our family favorite was butter mochi, a popular Hawaiian dessert made from mochiko (also known as sweet rice flour or glutinous rice flour), eggs, sugar, butter and coconut milk. Imagine the chewy texture of mochi combined with the rich flavor of coconut milk and topped with a crisp, caramelized crust. So good! And bonus: butter mochi is very easy to make. The recipe I’m sharing here is based on my mom’s, with a couple small tweaks (*cough* brown butter *cough*) for extra flavor.

Mochiko: the key ingredient

Butter mochi is a fairly flexible recipe — I’ve seen versions with varying amounts of butter and sugar; some use different types of milk or include shredded coconut and other add-ins. But the one non-negotiable ingredient is mochiko (sweet rice flour, or glutinous rice flour), which is milled from long grain glutinous rice. Mochiko is a naturally gluten-free flour that is responsible for butter mochi’s signature chewy texture. I recommend Koda Farms brand as that’s the flour I used to test this recipe (and what my mom always uses as well) — it’s available at Asian/International supermarkets and online. Do NOT substitute mochiko with regular rice flour or any other flour.

Pro-tip: pan-fried butter mochi

Once butter mochi has cooled, it’s perfectly enjoyable straight from the pan. However, my absolute favorite way to eat butter mochi is to pan fry it, which crisps and caramelizes the crust even further and warms the center through — the textural contrast is perfection. Just heat a lightly oiled non-stick pan over medium-low heat and fry each side until golden (about 1-2 minutes). Cool for a minute before devouring, and thank me later.

pan fried butter mochi

Baker’s notes

  • Mochiko has a tendency to clump when added to the liquid ingredients, so I like to sift it in. Don’t be afraid to work out any flour lumps with a spatula or else you might end up with “flour bombs” in the finished butter mochi.
  • For clean slices, let the butter mochi cool completely in the pan before removing and cutting. I like to let butter mochi cool and set overnight for the best texture.
brown butter mochi squares

Brown butter mochi squares (gluten-free)

Makes one 8×8 pan (16 2-inch squares)

Ingredients:

  • 57g (4 Tbsp) unsalted butter, cubed
  • One can (400ml) full-fat coconut milk
  • 200g (1 c) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (Diamond Crystal — use half the amount for table salt)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs (cold is fine)
  • 225g (1 1/2 c) mochiko (sweet rice flour — I like Koda Farms brand)

Method:

  • Preheat oven and prepare the pan: Preheat the oven to 350F with a rack in the middle. Line an 8×8 metal baking pan with foil, dull side up. Leave a couple inches overhang on two sides for easy removal. Lightly grease the foil.
  • Brown the butter: Place the cubed butter in a small, light-colored saucepan over medium-low heat. Once the butter has melted, turn the heat up to medium-high. Stir frequently with a heatproof spatula, scraping the sides and bottom of the pan as needed. The butter will crackle, foam, turn clear gold, then finally start browning. It’s done when the crackling subsides and you smell toasted nuts. This process takes about 10 minutes total, but the butter can go from browned to burnt in a flash—so keep an eye on it. Pour the butter and all the toasty bits into a glass measuring cup or medium bowl. Whisk in the coconut milk.
  • Mix the batter: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (you can also use a hand mixer or a whisk), combine the sugar, vanilla, salt, baking powder and eggs. Whisk on low to combine, then increase the speed to medium and beat until the mixture is thickened and pale, about 2-3 minutes (a little longer if by hand). Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually stream in the butter-coconut milk mixture. Mix until smooth and combined, then scrape down the sides of the bowl. Sift in the mochiko and mix on low until the batter is smooth. Use a flexible spatula to fold from the bottom of the bowl a few times to make sure the batter is well-mixed and no pockets of flour remain. If there are any flour lumps, use the spatula to press them out.
  • Bake: Scrape the batter into the prepared pan (it will be on the thin side) and bake until the top is golden brown and feels dry and springy to the touch, about 55-65 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely in the pan (preferably overnight). Use a sharp knife to cut into squares; wipe the blade clean with a warm towel between slices. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.
brown butter mochi squares

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Small batch brown butter sourdough snickerdoodles

brown butter sourdough snickerdoodles

Hi, hello, and happy spring! Just popping in with a fun little recipe to add to your sourdough discard repertoire: brown butter sourdough snickerdoodles.

I love riffing on the classic snickerdoodle — previously, we’ve done gingerbread latte snickerdoodles, graham cracker snickerdoodles, raspberry lemonade snickerdoodles, and there’s a whole recipe on snickerdoodle variations in my book! Today we’re veering into new territory by adding some sourdough discard to the mix, which (along with a healthy dose of brown butter) give these treats a big boost of flavor. Add in crisp edges, soft centers, cinnamon sugar goodness — these cookies don’t last long in our house!

brown butter sourdough snickerdoodles

Baker’s notes:

  • Sourdough discard is the portion of your starter that you would normally throw away when doing a feeding. I usually store my discard for up to a week in the fridge, using it to make anything from granola to pie crust to chocolate cake. For this recipe, you can use discard that’s at room temperature or straight from the fridge, as long as it’s not overly acidic-smelling or has formed any liquid “hooch” on top.
  • I prefer to bake these cookies after a short chill, just long enough to make the dough easier to portion. Since this dough does have discard in it, it will continue to ferment if left in the fridge. If you’re not planning to bake off all the cookies at once, I would recommend freezing unbaked dough balls (without the sugar sprinkle) in an airtight bag/container. Bring to room temperature and reroll each portion between your hands (this slightly warms the dough, helping the sugar sprinkle stick) before rolling in sugar and baking.

Small batch brown butter sourdough snickerdoodles

Makes 10 cookies

Ingredients:

For the brown butter sourdough snickerdoodle base:

  • 115g unsalted butter, cubed (cold is fine)
  • 25g milk, cold
  • 140g all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal; use a scant 1/2 tsp for other brands or 1/4 tsp table salt)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 30g light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk, cold
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 60g 100% hydration sourdough discard

For the cinnamon sugar sprinkle:

  • 25g granulated sugar
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp ground cinnamon (to taste)

Method:

  • Brown the butter: Place the cubed butter in a small, light-colored saucepan over medium-low heat. Once the butter has melted, turn the heat up to medium-high. Stir frequently with a heatproof spatula, scraping the sides and bottom of the pan as needed. The butter will crackle, foam, turn clear gold, then finally start browning. It’s done when the crackling subsides and you smell toasted nuts. This process takes about 10 minutes total, but the butter can go from browned to burnt in a flash—so keep an eye on it. Pour the butter and all the toasty bits into a medium bowl. (You should have ~92g brown butter.) Stir in the cold milk and let cool for 5 minutes.
  • Combine the dry ingredients: In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Whisk for a good 30-45 seconds to ensure the leaveners and spices are evenly distributed.
  • Combine the wet ingredients: Whisk the sugars into the butter-milk mixture until combined. Whisk in the egg yolk and vanilla until smooth. Add the sourdough discard and whisk until totally smooth.
  • Add the dry ingredients and chill the dough: Add the dry ingredients to the wet and use a flexible spatula to mix just until no streaks of flour remain. Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or until the dough is cool but still scoopable (it will be fairly soft).
  • Preheat the oven and prepare pans and cinnamon-sugar: While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 400F with a rack in the middle. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Prepare the sugar coating by whisking together the granulated sugar and cinnamon.
  • Portion the dough: Portion the cookie dough into 10 equal golf-sized balls, about 47 grams each. Roll between hands into a smooth ball, then toss in sugar coating. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle each with a bit more sugar coating.
  • Bake the cookies: Bake sheets one at a time for about 9 to 10 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Cookies should be puffed and the tops starting to crack, but the centers should still look a little soft. After removing the pan, bang it a couple of times on the counter to help deflate the cookies and get that classic crinkled top. Cool cookies on the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
brown butter sourdough snickerdoodles

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Ultra-soft sourdough sandwich bread (sourdough shokupan)

Introducing: the “fast” and ultra-soft version of my soft sourdough sandwich bread! Enriched with milk, milk powder, cream, egg, and butter, this sourdough shokupan style loaf boasts a smooth, bouncy crumb and mildly sweet taste. It’s perfect for sandwiches, grilled cheese, or the best ever French toast.

Compared to previous versions of this bread, I’ve upped the amount of starter in this bread so the bulk fermentation and rising is all done in one day. You will need to build a sweet stiff levain, which I do the night before I plan to mix the dough. While I’ll still continue to use my older formulas (especially when I want to do an overnight proof), I love this new recipe for its speed!

sourdough shokupan crumb

Thanks to the warm fermentation and sweet starter, this bread is very mild with a hint of sweetness, even with a large amount of prefermented flour. I’m happy to add this formula to my arsenal and excited for you to try it!

Tips for sourdough shokupan success:

Sweet stiff levain: For all my enriched sourdough breads I prefer to use a stiff levain — this just means that there is a higher proportion of flour to water in the starter. I don’t maintain a separate stiff starter — whenever I want to make an enriched bread, I just prepare a stiff levain using my 100% hydration starter. In this particular loaf, I add a little sugar to the starter as well to tame the acidity.

Thorough kneading: For best rise and texture, the dough should be fully kneaded to windowpane stage. I first knead the dough without butter until the dough is smooth and the gluten is well-developed; then add the butter slowly and continue kneading until the dough is very strong, smooth, and supple. Please note that the exact timings will vary depending on your flour and mixer; and it is possible to overknead this dough. I suggest checking the dough every couple minutes after all the butter has been added so you get a feel for how the dough is changing and developing.

Warm fermenatation: I keep this dough warm throughout bulk fermentation and proofing, about 80-82F. Because of the high percentage of starter the dough should rise fairly steadily; if not, it may come down to strength of starter, under/over-kneading, or too cool an environment.

Degassing during shaping: For the tightest, bounciest crumb, the dough should be very well degassed at the shaping stage. I also keep the bench rest and shaping times short, as this dough ferments fairly quickly. If you start getting air bubbles under the skin while the dough is resting, it is harder to get a really smooth, even crumb. When rolling the dough, use quick and firm movements with the pin and try to push all the bubbles out from the dough. You shouldn’t need any flour for shaping.

fully fermented sourdough shokupan

Sourdough shokupan (ultra-soft sourdough sandwich bread)

Makes one 9x4x4 pullman loaf or 9×5 loaf

Ingredients:

For the sweet stiff levain:

  • 35g active, ripe sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 58g milk
  • 13g granulated sugar
  • 105g bread flour

For the final dough:

  • 114g bread flour
  • 114 all-purpose flour
  • 40g granulated sugar
  • 21g milk powder
  • 75g milk, cold
  • 81g heavy cream, cold
  • 50g egg (about 1 large), cold
  • 7g salt
  • 46g unsalted butter, at room temperature

To finish:

  • Milk, for brushing
  • Melted butter, for brushing (optional)

Method:

  1. Make the sweet stiff levain: In a medium bowl, mix the starter, milk, sugar and flour together to form a stiff dough. Cover the bowl and ferment the levain at warm room temperature until more than doubled in volume and puffy, about 8 to 12 hours.
  2. Autolyse the dough: In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix together all final dough ingredients except the salt and butter until just combined. Cover and autolyse (rest) for 20-30 minutes.
  3. Mix the dough: Add salt, and knead dough on low until gluten is moderately developed, about 5-7 minutes. The dough will start out sticky and rough but should gradually come together and feel smooth and stretchy. Add the butter in three batches, mixing in each portion completely before adding the next. Continue kneading on low/medium-low until the gluten is very well developed and the dough passes the windowpane test. Timing will depend on your flours and mixer, but usually takes about 5-10 minutes after the butter has been added. The dough should be smooth and supple. Desired dough temperature is ~75-76F.
  4. Bulk fermentation: Transfer to a clean and lightly oiled bowl, cover, and bulk rise at warm room temperature (80-82F) for 2 hours, or until roughly doubled.
  5. Shape the dough: Transfer dough to a clean surface. Divide into 3 parts, shape into balls, and rest for 5 minutes, covered by lightly oiled plastic. Using a rolling pin, roll the first ball into an oval about 9″ x 5″, doing your best to degas the dough. (Roll from the center out, which should push the air bubbles to the edges. Pop any air bubble you see; this will help create a tight and smooth crumb.) Fold the two long edges to the center, slightly overlapping. Roll to a rectangle about 10″ x 4″, again doing your best to fully degas the dough, then roll up tightly like a jelly roll. Pinch seam to seal. Repeat with other two portions. (See photos above for visual cues.)
  6. Proof the dough: Transfer rolls to a loaf pan, seam sides down. Cover loosely with plastic and allow to rise at warm room temperature (~80-82F) until dough roughly triples in volume and nearly fills the tin (if using a Pullman Pan; in a 9×5 pan it should rise about 1″ above the rim), about 3.5-4 hours.
  7. Preheat the oven and bake the loaf: About 45-60 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 400F with a rack in the middle. After the dough has finished proofing, brush lightly with milk, transfer to oven, and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, reduce the heat to 350F and continue baking for 10-15 minutes, or until the internal temperature is at least 195F. If the loaf is browning too quickly, tent a piece of foil over the top to keep from burning. When the loaf is finished, immediately remove from the pan and turn onto a wire rack. Brush melted butter over the top and sides while the loaf is still warm, if desired (this helps create a soft crust). Allow to cool completely before slicing. Store leftovers in a sealed plastic bag.

Related recipes and links:

side view sourdough shokupan

How to make twice-baked croissants

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Or in bakers’ terms, one person’s stale croissants are another person’s favorite breakfast treat. We’re talking twice-baked croissants. Almond croissants are the most famous of this genre, but really, no need to stop there! Today I’ll give you a general formula and ideas for how to create the twice-baked croissants of your dreams, plus recipes for both almond croissants and black sesame croissants.

twice baked croissants

It starts with stale croissants

First, you need to get yourself some croissants. If you have access to good-quality day-old croissants, great! But we’re going to leave them out to dry, so I don’t bother making my own or splurging on anything fancy — plain old supermarket croissants work just fine. You can even use pain au chocolat (chocolate croissants) if you want something a little more decadent.

Twice-baked croissants work best with stale croissants — they’ll be primed to soak up more of the delicious syrup we’re going to spread on them. So leave them out, uncovered, for at least a few hours or overnight.

Simple Syrup

With twice-baked croissants, you have several opportunities to layer on flavor. With each of the elements, feel free to get creative to come up with some unique flavor combinations!

The first flavor layer is simple syrup. At its most basic, simple syrup is just sugar heated with an equal amount of water. I like to flavor mine with a little alcohol (rum, whisky, or bourbon), but that’s totally optional. You could add vanilla or almond extract, or if you want to get fancy…

  • Infuse citrus zest or herbs in the syrup (add it to the syrup after the sugar has dissolved and let infuse until the syrup cools, then strain before using).
  • Replace the water with lemon juice for a lemon simple syrup.
  • Replace the granulated sugar with brown sugar.

Frangipane

I’ve waxed on about my love for frangipane, or almond cream, on more than one occasion here. A mixture of butter, sugar, egg, and almond flour, frangipane is like the secret sauce of pastry chefs. It’s also the delicious filling and topping for our twice-baked croissants, and another opportunity for added flavor.

You can customize your frangipane in a few ways:

  • Replace some or all of the almond flour with another kind of ground nuts or seeds — think walnuts, pecans, pistachios — or in my example below, black sesame seeds.
  • Replace the granulated sugar with brown sugar or another sweetener like honey or maple syrup. With liquid sweetener, I usually use only 3/4 the amount (by weight) since they taste sweeter than regular sugar.
  • Experiment with additions: spices/citrus zests/extracts/alcohol are easy ways to start, but you can even try adding a little mashed banana or pumpkin puree or melted chocolate or cocoa powder. These additions may take some dialing in to figure out ideal proportions, but frangipane is pretty flexible and you can add a little extra flour if needed to give the cream some structure.

The topping

The final element to a twice-baked croissant is the topping. After spreading on a bit of frangipane for glue, sprinkle on chopped nuts / seeds / coarse sugar for visual interest and texture.

If you’re using a special infused simple syrup for your croissants or prefer a sweeter pastry, you can brush some syrup over the top before spreading on the frangipane.

Traditionally, twice-baked croissants get showered with icing sugar before serving. But you could definitely go a little crazy here too — citrus zest, freeze-dried fruit powder, drizzled melted chocolate, salted caramel sauce, whipped cream, etc.

Time to get creative!

So there you go: play around with the flavor elements of a twice-baked croissant to come up with your own delicious pastries! Here are a few ideas to whet your creativity:

  • Chocolate Hazelnut: Day-old pain au chocolat / brown sugar simple syrup / use ground hazelnuts for frangipane / top with chopped hazelnuts and dusting of cocoa powder or melted chocolate
  • Pistachio rose: Day-old croissant / rose-infused simple syrup / use ground pistachios for frangipane and add a couple drops of rosewater / top with chopped pistachios and edible rose petals
  • Cinnamon apple: Day-old croissant / cinnamon brown sugar simple syrup / add cinnamon to the frangipane / add a layer of apple compote or apple butter under the frangipane / top with pieces of freeze-dried apple and a shake of cinnamon
  • Raspberry, lemon, almond: Day-old croissant / lemon simple syrup / add a layer of raspberry jam or compote under the frangipane / top with extra lemon syrup, pieces of freeze-dried raspberries, and a shaving of lemon zest
  • Chocolate orange: Day old pain au chocolat / orange simple syrup with grand marnier / honey frangipane with orange zest / top with dusting of cocoa powder or melted chocolate

Baker’s notes:

  • Twice-baked croissants are a great make-ahead treat. You can prepare both the simple syrup and frangipane ahead of time and refrigerate until ready to assemble! You can even freeze leftover croissants and then defrost them night before you want to whip these up.
  • If you want to add an extra layer of flavor, spread some fruit jam, curd, or compote onto the croissants after the simple syrup and before the frangipane.

assembling twice baked croissants
almond croissant on plate

Twice-baked croissants, two ways

Makes 8 croissants | Adapted from Baked to Order

Ingredients:

For the simple syrup:

  • 65g (1/3 c) granulated sugar
  • 80g (1/3 c) water
  • 1 Tbsp rum (optional)

For the almond frangipane (makes enough for 8 croissants):

  • 100g (7 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 100g (1/2 c) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g (1 c) almond flour
  • 16g (2 Tbsp) all purpose flour

For the black frangipane (makes enough for 8 croissants):

  • 100g (7 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 100g (1/2 c) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 80g (1/2 c plus 1 Tbsp) roasted black sesame seeds, ground
  • 20g (3 Tbsp) almond flour
  • 16g (2 Tbsp) all purpose flour

To assemble:

  • 8 day-old croissants
  • Sliced almonds or black sesame seeds/pearl sugar, for garnish
  • Icing sugar, for garnish

Method:

  • Make the simple syrup: Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Turn off the heat and stir in the rum (if using). Pour the syrup into a heat-safe container and cool to room temperature. (Syrup can be refrigerated for up to 1 month.)
  • Make the frangipane: You can make frangipane using a food processor, electric mixer, or bowl + wooden spoon. Beat together the butter, sugar, and salt until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla (mixture will look curdled; this is normal). Fold in the flours until evenly combined and smooth. (Frangipane can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months; bring to spreadable room temperature before using).
  • Assemble and bake the croissants: Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) with a rack in the middle. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Split the croissants horizontally, leaving one edge attached. Brush the insides liberally with simple syrup. Spread about 1 1/2 Tbsp of frangipane on the bottom halves of the croissants (reserve about 8 Tbsp for the tops of the croissants). Close the croissants, then spread the remaining frangipane over the tops of the croissants and sprinkle with the sliced almonds or sesame seeds/pearl sugar. (If you like your twice-baked croissants extra-sweet, you can brush the tops with any leftover syrup before adding the frangipane; but I usually don’t.) Bake until the frangipane is puffed and golden on the edges, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool slightly on a wire rack, then enjoy slightly warm or at room temperature. Dust with icing sugar right before serving, if desired. Twice-baked croissants are best the day they’re baked, but you can store leftovers for a day or two in an airtight container at room temperature. Reheat for a few minutes at 300F to refresh.
black sesame croissant cross section

Blood orange sherbet

blood orange sherbet scoops

I know, I know. Three kinds of dairy, fancy blood oranges, lots of bowls, and a few head-scratching ingredients; all for some blood orange sherbet?

I understand, it’s a big ask. But if you are willing to commit, you’ll be rewarded with the best orange sherbet of your life — intensely fruity and tangy and refreshing. The perfect shade of peachy pink, too (though exact color will vary depending on your fruit!).

The neglected world of sherbet

But first, sherbet: if you’re like me, you may have grown up on those little cups of orange sherbet swirled with vanilla ice cream (the ones with the tiny wooden paddles), or perhaps the occasional scoop of rainbow sherbet. Neither tasted much like orange or rainbows, but they had their place as a refreshing poolside treat.

Sherbet is actually a category of frozen dessert that sits between sorbet and ice cream. Basically, sherbets are fruit sorbets with some added dairy. Sherbets have the bright flavor of sorbet with just a touch of milky richness for body. They’re the perfect palate cleanser and such a fun, overlooked way to preserve the fruits of the season.

If you’re interested in sherbet (or ice cream making in general), I highly, HIGHLY recommend Dana Cree’s book Hello, My Name is Ice Cream, the original source for this recipe. Of all the ice cream cookbooks I own, it’s my favorite in terms of technical knowledge and inspired flavor combos. Although Cree delves deep into the science of ice cream making, it’s all packaged in understandable language and is considerate of the average home churner. Although she has some favorite specialized ingredients, she offers accessible alternatives for those of us who can’t source them easily.

Specialty ingredients and alternatives

blood oranges

Here’s the rundown of a few specialty ingredients needed for this blood orange sherbet and some alternatives if you can’t source them.

  • Blood oranges: Blood oranges are a variety of citrus known for their deep rosy color and extra-sweet flavor. They tend to taste a little less acidic than regular navel oranges, with undertones of raspberry. Read all about blood oranges at Ask the Food Geek. If blood oranges aren’t available or in season, you can replace the zest and juice with that of another orange-like variety (regular orange, tangerine, cara cara, clementine, etc.). For the amount of juice and zest in this recipe, I used about 5 smallish blood oranges.
  • Citric/malic acid: These are neutral tasting acids that come in powdered form. They definitely give the sherbet an extra refreshing zing, but you can either omit this if you prefer a less tart sherbet or replace with a squeeze of lemon juice. Citric acid is often available at the grocery store (look near the spices or in the jam/jelly making section); I found both at a beer-making shop; they are also available online.
  • Glucose or light corn syrup: Using an inverted sugar such as glucose or light corn syrup gives frozen desserts a more viscous, less icy texture. Check your local baking supply store for glucose; corn syrup is available in most grocery stores. In a pinch you can replace the inverted sugar with the same weight of granulated sugar, though the sherbet will be more sweet and icy. Read more about using inverted sugar in ice cream in this article on Serious Eats.
  • Xanthan gum: Don’t let the name scare you — xanthan gum is jut a natural gum that in this case works as a stabilizer, inhibiting the growth of ice crystals. Just a tiny bit drastically improves the texture and shelf life of homemade ice cream. I found mine at the local bulk store and online. If you can’t find xanthan gum, you can replace with 2 tsp of tapioca starch whisked with 2 Tbsp cold water. Stir this slurry into the dairy base after straining out the orange zest and before chilling over the ice bath. (Consult the book for even more alternatives.)
blood orange sherbet

Blood orange sherbet

Barely adapted from Hello, My Name is Ice Cream | Makes about 1 quart

Ingredients:

  • 250g blood orange juice, freshly squeezed (zest before juicing)
  • 100g buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp malic or citric acid or 1 tsp lemon juice (optional)
  • 300g whole milk
  • 100g cream
  • 150g granulated sugar
  • 100g glucose or light corn syrup
  • 1 Tbsp packed blood orange zest
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum

Method:

  • Make the blood orange-buttermilk mixture: In a small bowl, whisk together the blood orange juice, buttermilk, and acid or lemon juice (if using). Refrigerate.
  • Heat and infuse the dairy: In a medium saucepan, whisk together the whole milk, cream, sugar, and glucose. Cook, whisking frequently, over medium heat, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture comes to a bare simmer. Remove from heat, stir in the orange zest, and cover. Infuse for 30 minutes.
  • Chill the dairy: Strain the infused base into a clean metal or glass bowl and discard the zest. Set over an ice bath and until the base is cool to the touch (50F), whisking occasionally.
  • Blend and chill: Whisk in the xanthan gum and blood orange-buttermilk mixture. Use an immersion blender (or transfer to a traditional blender) to blend until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or up to 24.
  • Churn and freeze: Churn the chilled base according to the instructions for your machine, until the mixture has the texture of soft serve (for my machine this is about 25 minutes). Transfer to a freezer-friendly container (a loaf pan works well). Cover with parchment paper, pressing it to the surface of the ice cream so it adheres, then cover with a lid. Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours. Ice cream will keep for up to 3 months.
blood orange sherbet scoops

Orange and Honey Frangipane Soft Sourdough Sweet Rolls

orange and honey frangipane rolls

A few days ago, I wandered around a grocery store for the first time in what feels like forever. It’s funny the things we take for granted — I used to drag my kids to do grocery shopping regularly. For a truly gold star outing we’d visit a store with “special carts” — you know, the ones resembling fire engines or tractors complete with mini steering wheels. Yes, it would take us longer to get dressed and in the car than actually shop; but these grocery store trips were a needed diversion during the week, often fueling ideas for the week’s meals and recipes for this blog. I’ve missed it.

Anyways. I managed to snatch a few blood oranges on aforementioned trip, because if you don’t make something with blood oranges are you even a food blogger? Some of my bounty went towards these frangipane sourdough sweet rolls, a variation on my favorite sourdough cinnamon rolls.

These soft, lightly sweet breakfast rolls swap traditional cinnamon-sugar filling for nutty frangipane. Frangipane is truly one of my favorite baking components — whether piped into a tart or spread between layers of dough, it adds rich flavor and a bit of bakery pizazz to any treat (though it couldn’t be simpler to make). Frangipane is also easy to customize: swap the almonds for another ground nut, switch out the sugars, add some spices. Here I opted for fragrant honey rather than regular sugar and added a bit of blood orange zest for extra punch.

These rolls aren’t too sweet, which means you should definitely not hold back on the citrus glaze. Sadly my blood oranges weren’t particularly pink inside so I didn’t achieve that perfectly hued glaze. No big deal. Still delicious.

Baker’s notes:

  • If you don’t have einkorn/spelt/whole wheat flour, you can omit it and increase both the bread and all-purpose flours to 142g (284g total) in the final dough ingredients.
  • If you want to have these rolls ready to bake on, say, a Saturday morning, I suggest the building your stiff levain Thursday night, mixing the dough and doing the 2-hour room temp proof on Friday morning, and shaping the rolls right before going to sleep that night. Leave them out on the counter to proof overnight. Then preheat the oven and bake first thing when you get up in the morning. Note that you need a ripe, active 100% hydration starter to build the levain, so make sure your starter is nice and happy by giving it a feeding or two beforehand.
  • Just for fun, I baked a few of these rolls off in my Nordicware giant popover pan. The rolls turned out cute but this method was messier than I’d like; so next time if I want individual rolls I’ll just use a regular muffin tin. If you do want to try the popover pan, I’d recommend cutting the individual rolls a little smaller (into 10 or 11 pieces rather than 9) and tucking the tail underneath before placing in the pan. Also, make sure to grease the pan well before filling.

Orange and Honey Frangipane Soft Sourdough Sweet Rolls

Makes 9 rolls | Adapted from Baked to Order

Ingredients:

For the stiff levain:

  • 18g ripe sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 31g milk
  • 57g bread flour

For the final dough:

  • 125 g bread flour
  • 125 g all-purpose flour
  • 34 g einkorn, spelt, or whole wheat flour
  • 45g granulated sugar
  • 21g milk powder
  • 1 large egg, cold
  • 100g milk, cold
  • 80g heavy cream, cold
  • All the levain
  • 7g kosher salt
  • 45g unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the honey frangipane filling:

  • 45g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 70g honey
  • Zest of one small orange (about 2 tsp)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 75g almond flour
  • 12g all-purpose flour

For the orange glaze:

  • 90g icing sugar, sifted
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • ~1 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice (as needed)

Method:

  1. Make the levain: In a medium bowl, mix the starter, milk, and flour together to form a stiff dough. Cover the bowl and ferment the levain at warm room temperature until more than doubled in volume, puffy, and domed, about 8 to 12 hours.
  2. Autolyse and mix the final dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix together flours, sugar, milk powder, egg, milk, cream, and levain until just combined. Cover and autolyse (rest) for 45 minutes.
  3. Add the salt and knead on medium-low speed until the gluten is moderately developed, about 5 minutes. The dough will start out sticky and rough but should gradually come together and feel quite smooth and stretchy. Turn the mixer to low and add the butter about 1 tbsp at a time, incorporating each batch before adding the next. Turn the speed back up to medium-low and continue kneading until the gluten is very well developed and the dough passes the windowpane test, about 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth and supple. Shape the dough into a smooth ball and transfer to a lightly oiled container.
  4. Bulk fermentation: Cover and let rise at room temperature for 2 hours. The dough will be noticeably expanded, but not doubled. Stretch and fold the dough, cover, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, and up to 24 hours.
  5. Make the honey frangipane: In a small bowl, mix together the butter, honey, zest, spices, and salt (I just use a spatula). Add the egg and mix until smooth. Fold in the almond and all-purpose flour.
  6. Shape and proof the rolls: When ready to shape, lightly grease a 9 x 9–inch (23 x 23–cm) baking pan or a 9- or 10-inch (23- or 25-cm) round cake pan (preferably aluminum).
  7. Take the dough out of the fridge and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 14-inch (36-cm) square, doing your best to maintain an even thickness.
  8. Spread the filling mixture evenly over the dough, going all the way to the edges. Roll the dough up like a jelly roll, pinching to seal. Turn the roll so the seam side is down.
  9. Cut into nine even pieces using a sharp knife or unflavored dental floss (my preferred method).
  10. Transfer the rolls, cut side up, to the prepared pan, leaving space between each (they will grow into each other during proofing).
  11. Cover the rolls with a piece of lightly oiled plastic wrap. Proof at room temperature, about 74-76F, until the dough is very puffy and roughly doubled, about 8 hours or overnight.
  12. Preheat the oven and bake the rolls: About 45 minutes before you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400F with a rack in the middle. Bake until the rolls are lightly golden and register 195 – 200F in the center, about 20 minutes. (Tent with foil partway through baking if browning too quickly.) Transfer to a wire rack to cool while you prepare the glaze.
  13. Prepare the orange glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together the icing sugar and salt. Whisk in the orange juice a teaspoon time until you get a thick glaze that drizzles easily off the whisk (I used the full 1 Tbsp). Drizzle glaze over the rolls and serve immediately.