Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Whip Cream Frosting and Strawberries

My student wanted to learn how to make a cake – I chose this one because the rest of our menu called for cream and this would be a great way to utilize it all.
Plus, he would probably have no trouble going out to buy a whisk versus a hand mixer.

The lovely thing about this cake is that it can be split in two using a long serrated knife.. layer the cake with chopped raspberries, blackberries, or strawberries – whatever berry you fancy! Put some frosting down, top with berries, add next layer of cake and repeat. Or you can keep it as is!! But it’s great way to say HELLO SPRING!

Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Whip Cream Frosting and Strawberries – 6 generous servings
1 ½ cups cake flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup milk


12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 cups heavy cream
4 tablespoons sugar

Prepare an 8 or 9 inch round pan with non-stick spray. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt, mix and set aside. In another bowl beat butter and until light and fluffy, add sugar and beat until thoroughly blended. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add ½ the dry ingredients with ¼ cup of milk, mix until smooth, and add the remaining dry ingredients and ¼ cup of milk. Mix until just blended and smooth. Spread into baking pan, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

For the frosting: Combine 2 cups heavy cream and 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate in a heavy sauce pan over low heat. Stir constantly until chocolate melts, remove from heat, and refrigerate in a large metal bowl for 2 hours. Using a whisk, whip the mixture until soft peaks trail, add 4 tablespoons sugar and continue to whip until firm peaks form.

To serve: Remove cooled cake from pan, using a long serrated knife, cut across in a sawing motion. Set bottom on serving dish. Spread some frosting, top with berries, lay other ½ of cake over, frost cake as you like, garnish with halved strawberries.

This was the first cake he has ever made, it was delicious! He just wants to learn how to cut and ice better -practice!
Happy Cooking!


Sunday’s Roast Chicken

Sunday night we usually have roast chicken, and I love it! Sometimes we make gravy, or serve it with roasted carrots. Other times we’ll make a gratin of Belgian endives, get plenty of crusty bread and a bottle of wine to enjoy during a movie. Not only is it Sunday dinner, it’s usually Monday’s lunch (chicken salad, wraps, etc.), or Monday nights easy chicken pot pie.

I hope you’ll enjoy it at your table from time to time, I know it pleases guests, and they definitely think you put way more time into this dish than you really did! 🙂

Tip: After you have rinsed and patted your chicken dry, let it sit out for an hour and no more than two.  Then season, truss, and bake. It’s best to cook from room temperature so that the skin gets wonderfully crisp.

Sunday’s Roast Chicken – 4 servings
3 pound chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 sprigs thyme
1 tablespoon olive oil

Don’t remove the top rack from your oven, lower it if you must to accommodate the chicken and preheat to 450 degrees F.

Rinse the chicken, and remove any items left inside the cavity (neck, liver and such). Dry the chicken well with paper towels, inside and out. Sprinkle the cavity with salt and pepper, place 1 spring of time inside. Truss the chicken. This video is wonderful!

Rub the VERY dry bird with olive oil, and season with 1/2 tablespoon salt, pepper, and the leaves from the other sprig of thyme.  Place the chicken in a sauté pan, and place in the oven. Roast for 50 to 60 minutes or until meat thermometer reads 160 degrees F when placed in chicken breast.  Remove from oven and let rest for 5-10 minutes.

To serve: Place on a large wooden cutting board, with a knife and serving fork, garnish with roasted potatoes and carrots (or whatever veg you have), serve at the table.

Happy Cooking!

Crème Brûlée

I had a cooking lesson to give this week, and the requested dessert was a vanilla crème brûlée. I hope you enjoy eating it as much as I enjoyed instructing, and devouring every last bit.

Crème Brûlée – 4 ramekins

2 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch salt
5 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
4 tablespoons sugar

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and arrange the ramekins on a large rimmed baking sheet.

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the heavy cream, 1/2 of the sugar, vanilla extract, and the salt. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

While the cream is heating, in a bowl combine the egg yolks with the remaining sugar and whisk to combine. Gradually add some of the hot cream to the yolks, whisking constantly, then add the remaining hot cream and stir to fully combine. Strain the custard into a clean measuring cup. Carefully pour the custard into the ramekins, filling them to the rim.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and carefully pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until the edges have set but the center still jiggles when the ramekin is gently shaken, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove the ramekins from the water bath and cool on a cookie rack for 30 minutes then wrap individually with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

You want the top of the crème brûlée to crack when you hit it with the back of the spoon. So make sure to evenly top the custard with a 1 tablespoon of sugar. Use a kitchen blowtorch or the broiler to evenly melt and caramelize the sugar. Serve immediately.