A Visit to the Cleveland Botanical Garden

Last Sunday I had the pleasure to visit the exhibition "Orchid Mania: This Side of Paradise" at Cleveland Botanical Garden. The hundreds of blooms featured on the Glasshouse are an exquisite show of colors, shapes and size. This was my first visit to the Botanical Garden and also my first opportunity to photograph so many beautiful orchids with a DSLR camera.  I used to photograph my mother’s orchids with a point-and-shoot camera, but it was hard to acquire a desired result.

It was definitively a delightful Sunday afternoon. I got so much inspiration for my next sugar flowers, but I couldn't resist to share the photos with you before I make them. I hope the photos inspire you too.


A Perfect Cake

Today I made a perfect cake: layers of butter spongecake filled with homemade strawberry jam and homemade dulce de leche cream, covered with fresh Chantilly, and decorated with, of course, one sugar rose.

As you may note, I have a passion for flowers. From the heirloom species to the simplest one, all of them are capable to incite the most beautiful felling on me. When I was working on this post I realized how marvelous is to photograph and also make these sugar flowers. 

I had some leftover dulce de leche from the bonbons of the last week and then I decide to incorporate it on this cake. I used it to prepare a velvet cream by adding egg yolks and cream. If you don’t have dulce de leche you can use sweetened condensed milk and the taste will be similar. To add freshness I made a homemade strawberry jam. I have to say that the combination of the flavors between the dulce de leche cream and the Chantilly was wonderfully pleasant. 

The butter spongecake is from the book Mastering The Art of French Cooking. This cake is delicate and fine, proper to pair with the other luscious flavors. The first bite of this cake envelops you in a luxury sweet embrace. It’s that delightful second when a little piece of heaven can be yours.

Butter spongecake filled with homemade strawberry jam and homemade dulce de leche cream covered with fresh Chantilly

Butter Spongecake
(from the book Mastering The Art Of French Cooking)
For a 10-inch cake pan - I used three-4inch pan.

4 Tb butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
4 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 egg whites
pinch of salt
2 Tb granulated sugar 
3/4 cup cake flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter ad flour the cake pan.
Melt the butter and set aside to cool.
Gradually beat the sugar into the egg yolks, add the vanilla, and continue beating for several minutes until mixture is thick and pale yellow.

Beat the egg whites and salt together in a separated bowl until soft peaks are formed; sprinkle on the sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed. Scoop one fourth of the egg whites over the top of the egg yolks and sugar mixture. Sift on one fourth of the flour, and delicately fold in until partially blended. Then add one third of the remaining egg whites, sift on one third of the remaining flour . fold until partially blended, and repeat with half of each, then the last of each and half of the tepid, melted butter. When partially blended, fold in the rest of the butter but omit the milky residue at the bottom of the pan. Do not overmix; the egg whites must retain as much volume as possible.

Turn into prepared cake pan, tiling pan to run batter to the rim all around. Set in middle level of preheated oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Cake is done when it has puffed, is lightly brown, and has just begun to show a faint line of shrinkage from the edges of the pan. 

Dulce de leche cream

1 cup of homemade dulce de leche or 1 can sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks
¾ cup heavy cream 

Pour dulce de leche or condensed milk into a medium saucepan and place over medium heat
Add the egg yolks and keep stirring the mixture until it starts to show the bottom of the pan when you scrape it with a spoon. The mixture should be thick enough to show the bottom the pan for a couple of seconds before the mixture back again.
Pour the mixture in a greased bowl and leave aside to cool. When the mixture is at room temperature, add heavy cream and mix until combine. Place it in the fridge until decoration.

Strawberry Jam

1 cup strawberries
½ cup sugar
1 cup water

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes (jam will continue to thicken as it cools).

Chantilly Cream

1 cup heavy cream, cold
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Chill a mixing bowl and wire whisk in the freezer for 10 minutes before beginning. Beat heavy cream in the chilled bowl until it begins to foam and thicken up. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until the cream barely mounds. Do not overwhip. 


Dulce de Leche and Almond Bon Bons

Happy Valentine’s Day dear readers! Continuing with my chocolate confections, today I will share with you these wonderful dulce de leche and almond bon bons. I had the most special feeling making these treats. First, they are made with homemade dulce de leche, a traditional candy from my state in Brazil. Second, it was one of the sweets served on my wedding. I tried to reproduce them and I got exactly the same luscious flavor. What could possible go wrong when you have dulce de leche, almonds, cream and butter, covered with dark chocolate?  Nothing! 

As opposed to my first bon bons I didn’t have problems making these one. The homemade dulce de leche is quite easy to prepare. Although the cooking time reaches about two hours, you just have to stir it occasionally. When the dulce de leche is done, almonds, butter and cream are incorporated and cooked until a consistent cream is formed. To make the bon bons and the base of the lace heart  I used the shell molding technique. To prepare the chocolate lace heart shell I used a parchment paper cone and a heart mold. When you will use just a little amount of chocolate to decorate, a paper cone is better than a piping bag. You can see how to fold a paper cone here. The lace effect you will get by making doodle lines following the heart shape in a chocolate mold.

I hope you have a lovely day with your sweetheart!

Dulce de Leche
1 quart whole milk
1 cup sugar
Combine the milk and sugar in a large, 4-quartsaucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, reduce the heat to low and cook uncovered at a bare simmer. Stir occasionally, but do not re-incorporate the foam that appears on the top of the mixture. Continue to cook for 1 hour. If you want a darkcaramel color continue to cook until the mixture has reduced to about 1 cup, approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer if you want. Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to a month.

Dulce de leche and almond filling

½ cup dulce de leche
2 oz/100g ground almonds
1 tablespoon butter
¼ heavy cream
½ teaspoon almond extract

Combine ground almonds, butter, dulce de leche, cream and almond extract in a mediun saucepan. Stir the mixture until it starts to show the bottom of the pan while you scrape it with a spoon. The mixture should be thick enough to show the bottom of the pan for a few seconds before the mixture back again. 


Rose Heart Cake

My second recipe for Valentine’s Day was inspired by February 2012 cover of Martha Stewart Living magazine. There was a beautiful pink flower arrangement in a heart shape on the picture. So I decided to make a heart shaped cake decorated with a lot of sugar pink roses. More and more I love making these sugar flowers. It's like a therapy for me.

I prepared an almond chocolate sponge cake from this book. Because I love almonds, I loved this cake. It is so reach, so good. Once again, I couldn’t not resist in using brigadeiro. This time I made a raspberry white chocolate brigadeiro filling. To balance the sweetness of the brigadeiro I opted to make a mascarpone frosting. 

I have to confess that this cake was one of my favorites. The combination of flavors is magnificent. Besides I liked very much the different shades of pink that I used on the sugar roses.

Almond Chocolate Sponge Cake
(from the book Professional Baking)

4.33 oz /130 g Marzipan
2.67 oz /80 g (4 yolks) Egg yolks
4 oz /120 g (4 whites) Egg whites
1.67 oz (4 tbsp)/ 50 g Sugar
1.33 oz /40 g Cake flour
1.33 oz/ 40g  Cocoa powder  
1.33 oz /40 g Butter, melted

1. Beat the marzipan and egg yolks
together until smooth and light.
2. Whip the egg whites and sugar to a
stiff meringue.
3. Sift the flour and cocoa together. Fold
the meringue and dry ingredients
alternately into the egg yolk mixture,
starting and ending with the meringue.
4. Fold in the butter.
Bake at 425°F (220°C) for 10–12 minutes.

Raspberry white chocolate brigadeiro

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
100g white chocolate (I used Callebaut Belgian Chocolate)  
6oz/170g raspberries
1 teaspoon rose water

Pour the condensed milk into a medium saucepan and place over low heat.
Add the chocolate, butter, raspberries and rose water. Stir the mixture until it starts to show the bottom of the pan while you scrape it with a spoon. The mixture should be thick enough to show the bottom of the pan for a few seconds before the mixture back again. 

Vanilla Mascarpone Frosting

1 cup (8oz) mascarpone at room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla paste
4 cups powdered sugar (1 lbs)

1. Beat the mascarpone cheese, vanilla and butter in a large bowl of electric mixer

2. Add the powdered sugar and beat until fluffy.

Tip Junkie handmade projects


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