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.