Bourbon Salted Caramel

October is the month for spooky, scary festivities and lots of sweet treats! As an alternative to the bags candy you’re bound to have around the house over the next few weeks, we are taking things up a notch with some homemade dessert options. If you are overwhelmed by the thought of making caramel from scratch, don’t be! It is actually quite simple and takes less than 20 minutes from start to finish. We have gussied this version up with bourbon and sea salt, but you can omit those ingredients if they aren’t for you.

Bourbon Salted Caramel

Makes: about 2 cups of caramel

Prep Time: 5 minutes Total Time: 20 minutes


Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream, room temperature
  • 4 tbs butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbs of your favorite bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

  1. Combine the sugar and water a medium sauce pot. Stir to combine before putting onto the burner.
  2. Turn your burner onto medium-high heat. DO NOT STIR OR TOUCH THE PAN until the sugar has caramelized. This process will be tedious and you need to keep an eye on the sugar. It will go from being clear to champagne colored before turning light brown. Once it gets to light brown, it can go from light brown to burnt very very quickly. Remove the sugar from the heat and burner when the caramel is just lighter than the coppery color of a penny.
  3. Turn the burner on to medium-high heat.  Then — this is very important — do not stir or touch the pan until the sugar has caramelized.  The sugar mixture will go from being completely clear, to a champagne color, to a light golden color, and then to increasingly darker shades of amber.  (Keep a close eye on the sugar, as it darkens quickly once it begins to caramelize.) Once the sugar reaches a deep amber color (about the color of a copper penny), remove the saucepan from the heat and turn the burner off.
  4. Right away after removing the sugar from the heat, add the heavy cream to the sugar in a steady stream, whisking vigorously to incorporate the cream. Don’t be worried when the mixture bubbles like crazy- this is totally normal! When the heavy cream has been added, whisk in the butter until combined. Add in the bourbon, vanilla, and sea salt.
  5. From here, you can serve immediately hot from the stove or you can let the caramel cool and reserve for another time. The caramel will last up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator, and will thicken quite a bit as it chills. If you are planning to refrigerate and use later, heat it for just a few seconds in the microwave to loosen so that you can drizzle easily over ice cream, brownies, or any other dessert of choice!

Summer Berry Trifle

After celebrating quite a few birthdays in May & June, we have had to start getting creative about what to do with leftover birthday cake. We love our share of cake, but after a few days, we were getting a little tired of tasting the same ingredients. We experimented a bit with different leftover birthday cakes and repurposed them to create summer trifles. By adding homemade whipped cream and fresh berries we were able to continue to enjoy our sweet treats in a different way. No extra cake? No problem. You can pick up an angel food cake at the store and use it in the same way. 

Summer Berry Trifle 
Makes: 12 servings  
Prep Time: 10 minutes     Total Time: 40 minutes 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 leftover cake- about 8 cups cubed (or store bought angel food cake)
  • 3 cups of heavy whipping cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped 
  • 3 tbs sugar 
  • 4 cups of mixed berries (we used strawberries, blackberries and blueberries)

Directions: 

  1. If you are using leftover cake, scrape the frosting off the cake and cut the cake into one inch cubes. This does not need to be perfect. If using store bought, cut the angel food cake into one inch cubes. Set aside.
  2. Using a hand mixer, mix the heavy whipping cream, vanilla bean, and sugar until the cream forms stiff peaks. About 5 minutes. 
  3. Assemble the trifle by layering the cake cubes, whipped cream and mixed berries. You want to make sure that the cake is thoroughly coated in the whipped cream so that it can soak up the moisture. Top with a layer of whipped cream and use any remaining berries for decoration.
  4. Keep the trifle refrigerated for at least 30 minutes before serving. This can be made overnight. Serve cold. 

Strawberry Buttermilk Cake with Brown Sugar Glaze

We have been seeing versions of this cake online now for weeks, and finally Tuck’s mom caved and had to make it on a Saturday morning. We based our recipe off of King Arthur Flour’s recipe for Farmhouse Buttermilk Cake and tweaked it to add fresh strawberries and a little lemon zest to give it a brighter taste. We added a brown sugar glaze to the cake which brought it to a whole new level of decadence. We aren’t sorry about it. This cake is the perfect addition to a weekend brunch menu; it’s perfectly sweet and seasonal for spring. 

Strawberry Buttermilk Cake with Brown Sugar Glaze 
Makes: 1- 8 inch round cake (6-8 servings)
Prep Time: 30 minutes Baking Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients for the Cake: 

  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature 
  • 1 cup light brown sugar 
  • 1 egg, room temperature 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 lemon 
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature 
  • 1 tsp baking soda 
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour 
  • 12 large strawberries, stemmed and hulled (plus more for garnish if desired) 

Ingredients for the Glaze: 

  • 1/4 cup butter 
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar 
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk 
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda 
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • a tiny pinch of salt 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 inch cake pan with extra butter or a good layer of cooking spray; set aside. 
  2. Stem and hull the strawberries. Slice 6 of the strawberries vertically; these will go on the bottom of the cake pan. Chop the other 6 strawberries, which will be folded into the batter. 
  3. Beat the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with a stand mixer or hand mixer. Add the egg, vanilla extract, and lemon zest and fully combine.
  4. Add the baking soda, salt, and 1 cup of the flour to the bowl. Mix until just combined, scraping the bowl with a spatula as necessary to get everything out from the bottom. 
  5. Add the buttermilk to the bowl and mix until just combined, again scraping the bowl as necessary. Add the remaining flour and chopped strawberries to the bowl.
  6. Arrange a layer of strawberries in the design of your choice on the bottom of the cake pan. If you have extra slices, fold those into the cake batter before pouring the batter in to the cake pan. Use a spatula to gently even out the batter before placing in the oven. 
  7. Bake the cake for 30 – 35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean from the center of the pan. 
  8. While the cake is baking in the oven, make the glaze. 
  9. Combine the brown sugar and butter in a small pot on the stove over medium heat. Whisk the ingredients to combine and add the buttermilk. Add the baking soda- the mixture will start to bubble- continue whisking until the mix thickens up. This can take a good 5 minutes on the stove, but mix until the glaze is the texture you desire. Add the vanilla and salt and remove from the heat. Whisk again to combine and set aside.
  10. When the cake has finished baking, give it at least 15 minutes to rest before removing it from the pan. Serve with a generous pour of brown sugar glaze and additional strawberries, if desired. 

Ombre No Bake Oreo Cake Balls

Valentine’s Day at Tuck & Tate is often celebrated by our entire family through gift giving and of course, enjoying a meal together. Growing up, Nana would host a huge dinner decorating the table in pink, white and red M&Ms and other heart shaped candies. We grew up knowing that Valentine’s Day can be shared with more than a spouse and have always found fun in celebrating with friends as well. We wanted to make a dessert for Valentine’s Day that felt whimsical and was easy to share with many people. These no-bake oreo cake balls are so easy to make and a great activity in the kitchen for our readers with young children. They take very few ingredients and essentially no time. The love in these is in the decorating, which we chose to do ombre this year to up our Valentine’s Day game. Kids, parents, teachers and spouses will all enjoy these sweet treats as gifts the upcoming holiday.

Ombre Oreo Cake Balls

Makes: 16 cake balls

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cooking Time: 60 minutes – 24 hours

Ingredients:

  • 1 package regular stuffed oreos
  • 12 oz cream cheese
  • White melting chocolate (similar here)
  • Red food coloring

Directions:

  1. Using a food processor, blend the oreos and cream cheese until a thick “dough” is created.
  2. Using a tablespoon scoop, scoop the oreo “dough’ onto a parchment or tinfoil lined baking pan. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour (can be up to 24 if you want to make in advance)
  3. Melt the chocolate by following the instructions listed on the package. Separate the oreo balls into at least 4 groups. We made 16 total oreo balls and therefore had 4 groups of 4.
  4. Dip the first group of balls into the chocolate. Make sure the ball is fully covered and place it bake on the parchment baking dish. It is ok if it is messy at this point. You will be able to clean up the look once the chocolate has hardened.
  5. Add 2-3 drops of red food coloring to the chocolate and stir to combine. Repeat step 4 for the next set of oreo balls.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until all of the oreo balls have been covered with chocolate. Refrigerate for 30 minutes until the chocolate has hardened. You can serve these cold or at room temperature.

************************Despite Tate’s efforts, these are not dog friendly!******************


Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Nothing says “simple elegance” like a good chocolate covered strawberry. We love this simple dessert for our Academy Awards celebration this Sunday because they can be made in advance and our guests can pick on them as they watch the show. No silverware and extra dishes necessary! The key to taking your strawberries to the next level is in the decorating. Going the extra mile of using both dark chocolate and white chocolate really gives the strawberries a necessary contrast in colors.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Makes: 18 strawberries

Prep and Decorating Time: 30 minutes   Cooling Time: 30 minutes  

Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 18 small to medium strawberries, rinsed and dried

Directions: 

  1. Put the dark chocolate and white chocolate in separate metal bowls.
  2. Fill a small sauce pot with an inch or two of water and put over medium high heat. Bring the water to a very light simmer and put the chocolate bowls over the water one at a time, until the chocolate is melted. Stir the chocolate as it melts, and once you’ve removed it from the water, to help distribute the heat evenly. Place the bowls on a kitchen towel to keep them warm and reheat over the water as necessary.
  3. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
  4. Dip half of the strawberries in the white chocolate and place them onto parchment paper. Dip the other half of the strawberries in the dark chocolate and place them onto parchment paper. Let the strawberries sit for about 10 minutes so that the chocolate can set. If you want to put them in the refrigerator to expedite the process, that works as well.
  5. Make two paper cones out of parchment paper. Take a piece of parchment paper and fold it into a right triangle. Use a scissor to carefully cut along the long end of the triangle, forming two separate right triangles. From there, follow this steps in this tutorial to make two paper cones.
  6. Use a paper cone to decorate the strawberries. Fill one of the paper cones with the remaining dark chocolate and the other with the white chocolate. Gently squeeze the cone to release the chocolate in a drizzle over each strawberry, drizzling the white chocolate on the dark chocolate strawberries and vice versa. Let the strawberries sit for at least 30 minutes so the chocolate can set, or put in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to expedite. Serve at room temperature.

Funfetti Layer Cake

We celebrated our friend’s birthday last weekend, and it was at the request of the birthday girl that we celebrate with funfetti cake. For those who are unfamiliar, funfetti cake is a white cake base with sprinkles mixed in. It is traditionally layered with a vanilla buttercream. After reviewing some recipes on the internet, we found this recipe from Sugar Spun Run and modified it a bit to the recipe below. What we love about this recipe is the whipped egg whites- adding this extra step makes the cake light and fluffy. The egg whites make the cake something between a regular vanilla cake and an angel food cake. While we love a good vanilla flavor, we have added a bit of almond extract and vanilla beans to give the cake an extra pop.

Here’s the deal with cake decorating. It can be really overwhelming and stressful trying to make things perfect, and unless you decorate cakes often, you aren’t going to be perfect. We don’t make cakes very often, and you will notice this cake is not even close to perfect. Doing a “naked” design gives the cake a more rustic look and forgives a lot of mistakes that we all tend to make in the decorating process.

Funfetti Layer Cake

Makes: 1, 8 inch, 3 layer cake

Ingredients for the Cake:

  • 3 tbs flour (for the cake pans)
  • 9 Tbsp butter softened
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 4 cups+ 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 4 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 9 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sprinkles + 2 tbs sprinkles*

Ingredients for the Frosting:

  • 1 lb unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 6 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • sprinkles for decoration, optional

Directions for the Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare three, 8 inch, cake pans for baking. First spray the pan with cooking spray, then add 1 tbs of flour to the pan. Gently shake the flour around the pan until it is completely coated with flour. Bang away any excess flour and discard. Repeat for each of the cake pans and set aside.
  2. Use a stand mixer to whip the butter for a few minutes, or until it is light and fluffy. Add the sugar and whip until it is fluffy.
  3. Add the oil in a steady stream while you run the mixer, making sure that the oil is completely absorbed as you continue to add it. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as necessary to make sure that everything is well combined.
  4. Add the salt and baking powder to the bowl. Alternate adding the 1 cup of the flour and a portion of the milk to the bowl, mixing between each addition, until all of the wet and dry ingredients are absorbed. Be careful not to over mix in this process- use the mixer to mix the flour or the milk until they are just absorbed before alternating to the next ingredient. Again, scrape the bowl as necessary to make sure all of the ingredients at the bottom of the bowl are being absorbed into the batter. Set aside.
  5. Get out your hand mixer and a separate metal bowl for the egg whites. Beat the egg whites on medium-high speed for a few minutes, or until stiff peaks form.
  6. Use a spatula and take about 1/4 of the egg whites and gently start to fold them into the batter. Add the remaining egg whites and fold with a spatula until just combined. Add the sprinkles to the batter and divide as evenly as you can amongst the three cake pans.
  7. Bake the cakes for 35-40 minutes (for us this was 37 minutes exactly). You will know the cakes are ready when you can insert a toothpick into the center of the cake and it comes out clean or with just a few crumbs on it. When the cakes have finished baking, remove them from the oven and onto a cooling rack. When the cakes are cool enough to touch the pans with your bare hands, remove them from the baking pans and onto parchment paper. You can make this easier by running a paring knife around the rims of each of the cakes to help loosen them from the pan.
  8. Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting them.

Directions for the Frosting:

  1. In your stand mixer, beat the butter and salt on medium-high speed until creamy. Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time (this will prevent powdered sugar from being all over your kitchen) to the bowl. Mix until combined before adding the next cup. Repeat until all of the sugar has been added.
  2. With the mixer on medium-high speed, add the heavy cream 1 tbs at time, until all of the heavy cream has been added. Divide the batter between two bowls.
  3. Use a paring knife to scrape the vanilla beans out of the pod. Add the vanilla bean paste and 1 tbs vanilla extract to half of the batter. Use your hand mixer to make sure everything is well blended together. This will be the frosting for the outside of the cake.
  4. In the second bowl, add 1 tbs almond extract and 1 tbs vanilla extract to the bowl. Use the hand mixer to combine. This will be the frosting for the inside of the cake.
  5. When the cakes have completely cooled, use a long serrated knife to even out the tops of each of the cake. Here is a link for a great tutorial on how to do this successfully. If you have extra time to spare, refrigerating the cakes at this point is a great way to make your icing process easier, but it isn’t necessary. Place one of the evened cake layers on a serving platter. Use a piping bag and a large round piping tip (an 880 for example) to pipe a full, even layer of the almond frosting onto the cake layer. We prefer to do this cake as a “naked cake” so the thick frosting in the center is a must! Use a small, offset spatula to even out the frosting on the first cake layer before adding the second cake. Repeat the piping and evening out of the frosting on top of the second layer before adding the third and final layer to the top of the cake.
  6. Use an offset spatula, and the second (vanilla bean) bowl of frosting, to decorate the outside of the cake. Again, we have chosen to do a naked cake, where only half of the frosting is necessary. Carefully use the spatula to fill in the gaps between layers and to create a thin, crumb coat of frosting on the outside of the cake. For an easy tutorial, click the link here.
  7. After you have finished decorating the cake with frosting, use sprinkles and decorate the outside for your desired look.

Apple Mascarpone Tart

Our dessert for our Golden Globes 2020 menu honors Christina Applegate, nominated for her role in Dead to Me. This was one of our favorite shows this summer and we were thrilled to make a dessert in her honor! Being that it is the first week of January, we tried to keep this dessert relatively light so that no one has to feel like they spoiled their resolutions week 1 of the new year. We love this Apple Mascarpone Tart recipe. It is sweet, just a hint of savory, and tastes ultra-decadent. It comes together very quickly and makes for a great, handheld treat as the Golden Globes are finishing at the end of the night! 

Apple Tart With Mascarpone & Thyme 
Makes: 6 servings 
Prep Time: 15 minutes    Baking Time: 30 minutes    Total Time: 60 minutes 

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 lb  cold pie dough (we used Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 2 tbs flour- for rolling out the dough 
  • 2 large honeycrisp apples 
  • juice of 1/2 lemon 
  • 4 tbs honey, separated 
  • 1 tbs hot water
  • 2/3 cup mascarpone cheese 
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme leaves 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 
  2. Sprinkle the flour onto an even surface. Roll the pie dough into a large rectangle- approximately 10 inches by 16 inches. The dough should still be at least 1/4 inch think, so use your best judgement if you use a different brand of pie dough. Use the rolling pin to help lift your pie dough from your counter top onto a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. 
  3. Cut the apples away from their core and slice into 1/2 inch thick slices. Sprinkle with the lemon juice so that they do not brown. 
  4. Use a whisk the mix the mascarpone cheese and 2 tbs of the honey in a small mixing bowl. Use a soft spatula to gently spread the mascarpone mix evenly onto the pie crust, leaving a two inch border on all sides of the dough. Be careful not to spread the mascarpone too hastily so as to rip the dough. 
  5. Layer the apples in two rows over top the mascarpone, making sure to leave the two inch border on all sides of the dough.
  6. Mix the remaining 2 tbs honey and thyme leaves with 1 tbs hot water. Use a pastry brush to brush all of the apples with the honey mixture. 
  7. Gently fold the dough border around the apples, creating a crust on all sides of the apples. Gently pinch the overlapping edges together to form a seal. Refrigerate the tart for 5 minutes to help it set before baking. 
  8. Bake the tart for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the crust is light golden brown. Let the tart sit, out of the oven, for at least 10 minutes before slicing or the crust will tend to fall apart.