“How-To” Baking – Working With Food Dyes

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Food dye is a great way to bring a little color into your baking. Used in the right amounts it can add visual interest and a bright “pop” into otherwise bland colored foods. Food dyes come in a few different forms: natural coloring, powdered coloring, gel or paste coloring, liquid coloring or liquid gel coloring.

  • Natural Coloring – These colorants are usually plant based therefore, they are a healthier option as they contain no artificial ingredients. The color comes from foods such as blueberries, beets, pomegranate juice, etc. Take note, natural colorants do not produce rich, vibrant colors. They generally have a more dull, light appearance which falls short in baked goods.
  • Powdered Coloring – Typically this colorant is found online or in specialty cooking stores. The number of colors available can be somewhat limiting so a good amount of color mixing is required. Take note, using too much powdered coloring to tint baked goods can result it them having a drier consistency. Use powdered colorants sparingly.
  • Gel or Paste Coloring – These colorants have a thicker consistency thanks to the use of corn syrup or glycerine in the ingredients. They are readily available in stores and because they are so concentrated, they produce very vibrant colors. They are a great option for cookie dough, icings and cake batters.
  • Liquid Coloring – These colorants are readily available in all supermarkets and generally come in tiny bottles. Because they are so watery they can thin out batters and icings so they are generally NOT recommended for use in baking. These are best used for coloring eggs.
  • Liquid Gel Coloring – These colorants are a cross between liquid food dyes and gel/paste food dyes. The consistency isn’t quite as thick as in a gel paste but it’s better than the liquid dyes. These are usually found in a squeeze tube or flip-cap bottles and are a great option to use in baking.

When working with food dyes, it’s important to start small when adding the color. Building the color up over time allows for more control, it’s much easier to darken a color than to take color away and lighten it. When tinting batters, icings, fondant etc. it’s important to note that the color will develop and deepen over time. Refrain from adding more and more dye to achieve the desired color. Instead, allow the batter, icing, fondant etc. to sit for 15-20 minutes so that the color has time to deepen on its own. If necessary, adjust the coloring after that waiting period.

When mixing colors, try to do it in natural light which will provide a more accurate view of the colors. Artificial lighting can give an “off” appearance to the colors so if possible, set up your workspace near a window. Lastly, to achieve the best results when tinting it is essential to use the right ingredients/materials. For example, French Buttercream isn’t ideal for coloring as it is yellowish in color. That yellowish hue will mar the vibrancy of the colors that are mixed with it. However, a great choice for tinting is batters and icings that are pure white such as Swiss or Italian Buttercream .

QUICK COLOR MIXES

Purple – Mix equal amounts of red and blue together

Pink – Add a small amount of red

Orange – Mix red and yellow together

Green – Mix equal amounts of blue and yellow together

Brown – Mix equal amounts red, blue and yellow together

 

Homemade Holiday Fudge

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Since I was itty-bitty my mom has always made homemade fudge for Christmas. It was such a treat as a kid because she would only make it one time a year and when it was gone, it was gone. As I got older and started hosting the holidays myself I continued the tradition of making homemade fudge at the holidays. It’s a treat that everyone always loves and even though it’s super easy to make everyone will be so impressed that you actually made homemade fudge!

The nice thing about this fudge is that you can change it up with whatever add-ins that you prefer. My mom would always make a plain batch and another batch with walnuts which is super simple and pleases most everyone.  For fun, I started making my fudge in different ways just to change up the flavor profile. I’ve made it with graham crackers and marshmallows for a yummy S’mores version, I’ve made it with Craisins® and shredded coconut (pictured above) and a few times I did batches of Rocky Road fudge which had both nuts and marshmallows. The possibilities are pretty limitless with this recipe so go ahead and add your own signature touch to the next batch you make!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (18 oz) of semi-sweet OR dark chocolate chips
  • 1 (14 oz) can of sweetened condensed milk
  • dash of Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Red and green decorative sugar sprinkles
  • 1/2 -1 cup chopped walnuts or other add-ins (optional)

Instructions

In a pan set over low heat combine the sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips and salt and stir until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract and any add-ins such as nuts, marshmallows, etc.

Spread the fudge mixture into a 8X8 pan lined with wax paper and sprayed very lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle with colored sugar sprinkles. Chill until firm and then cut into bite-sized cubes.

**Tip – Keep the cut-up fudge covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated until ready to serve. It becomes very soft at room temperature.**

S’mores Fudge

smores fudge1

Rocky Road Layer Cake

Rocky Road Cake 1

This past Father’s Day I wanted to make my husband an extra special, over the top cake to celebrate so I decided on this amazing Rocky Road Layer Cake. It was every bit as delicious as it looks and it was so decadent too! I found this recipe on the Preppy Kitchen blog, the original recipe along with step-by-step pictures can be found here: Rocky Road Cake .

While no one part of this recipe was what I consider to be hard to make, overall it was a time-consuming cake to pull together. You have to first bake the cakes and cool them, make the filling, make the ganache and then assemble it all. The recipe calls for the layers to be baked in three 6X2″ pans however, I used the Wilton 2105-0112 Easy Layers! 5-Piece Cake Pan Set, 6-Inch and they worked out great. There is enough batter to make a full five layers for this cake however, during assembly I only used four. At that point it was tall enough and adding the last layer would’ve made the cake a little too unstable so I just set the extra layer aside.

Before assembling the cake make sure to trim the tops of the layers so that you have a flat surface. If there is any curvature to the layers the cake will be unbalanced and unstable. Also, do not overfill the layers or you will find that they slip and slide too much which will also effect the structure of the cake. After assembling the layers I ended up with extra ganache and filling which you can store in the fridge to use for another recipe. Once the cake was complete, I immediately placed it into the fridge to chill and set-up. Because it was also hot outside I decided to leave the cake in the fridge until it was served, I found that allowing it to sit at room temperature caused the chocolate and filling to begin to soften.

To keep the layers moist, you can brush each layer with simple syrup before adding the filling. To make a simple syrup simply combine equal parts water and granulated sugar. Warm on the stovetop until the sugar melts and you’re left with a syrup. Cool slightly and then brush directly on the cake using a pastry brush.

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour
  • tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 13 tbs unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • tbs coffee
  • tbs vanilla paste
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • cup cocoa

For the Ganache

  • cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • cup toasted walnuts
  • 1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows

For the Buttercream

  • 2/3 cup semi sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1/3 cup hazelnut chocolate (Nutella™), melted and cooled
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • lb unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

For the Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour three 6-by-2-inch cake pans.

  2. In a small bowl mix together the buttermilk, sour cream coffee and vanilla paste.

  3. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

  4. In a the bowl of a standing mixer beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. With mixer on low, beat in eggs and yolks, one at a time. Beat in flour mixture and buttermilk in three alternating batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

  5. Mix just until almost combined. Use a spatula to scrape the bottom and complete the mixing.

  6. Divide batter between pans, smooth tops. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in pans 10 minutes then invert onto a wire rack and let cool completely.

For the Buttercream

  1. Beat the butter until light and fluffy. Mix in the confectioners sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, salt and melted chocolate. If buttercream is a bit thick you can add a tablespoon or two of heavy cream to thin it out.

For the Ganache

  1. Scald the cream in a small saucepan over medium. Bring it just to a boil then pour over the semisweet chocolate. Let sit for two minutes then whisk until smooth. Reserve about 2/3 a cup of the ganache for the drip. Mix in the walnuts and fold in the marshmallows once cool.

To Assemble

  1. Pipe a ring of buttercream around the top edge of the first layer. Use a spatula to fill the center with the ganache. Place the next layer on top and repeat. Cover the outside with buttercream and smooth.

  2. Drizzle the ganache on top of the cake. If it’s thickened then you can mix in a bit more cream and zap in the microwave for a few seconds at 50% power.

  3. Pile the extra rocky road mixture on top of the cake and then press in a few extra marshmallows and walnuts and give a final light drizzle of chocolate.

Rocky Road Cake 2

Cinnamon Swirl Doughnut Bread

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I love cinnamon sugar anything!! It’s such a warm, cozy flavor that reminds me of cool, crisp autumn nights. Cinnamon sugar breads are not only a yummy dessert but also a great (not so healthy) breakfast treat that is perfect with a nice hot cup of coffee or tea. To make this bread extra decadent and delicious, simply drizzle a light sugar glaze over the top.

I stumbled upon this recipe on FB, it was posted by Preppy Kitchen however, the original recipe can be found here, Cinnamon Swirl Doughnut Bread , on “Lauren’s Latest” blog. This bread came out amazing!! It was moist and soft with just the right amount of cinnamon and sugar. I followed the recipe as is, making no adjustments to it whatsoever. You can also turn this recipe into fantastic Coffee Cake Muffins which are perfect for a cozy Sunday morning breakfast. Enjoy!

Ingredients

For the bread

  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temp
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk*
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp molasses

For the outside coating

  • 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

*If you do not have buttermilk mix together 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 tsp white vinegar. Let sit for 3 minutes and then add to recipe.

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a lightly colored loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the oil, butter, and sugar until well combined. Stir in the eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth. Add in the dry ingredients and the buttermilk and continue to mix until a smooth, uniform batter has formed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure no lumps are present.

Remove 1/2 cup of the batter and place into a smaller, separate bowl. Add to it the cinnamon and molasses, stir to combine.

Pour half of the prepared batter into the loaf pan. Spoon half of the cinnamon batter in small dollops all over the batter. Pour the remaining batter in the pan and dot the top with the remaining cinnamon batter. Using a butter knife, swirl the two batters together.

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool in pan for 10 minutes and then remove.

Towards the last 10-15 minutes of baking, get the outside coating ready. Pour melted butter into a large shallow dish. Stir the cinnamon and sugars together in a separate shallow dish.

Dip each side of the loaf and the top into the melted butter and fully coat it. Transfer the buttery loaf to the cinnamon sugar mixture and press each side and the top into the mixture until fully coated.

Slice into pieces and serve warm or at room temperature.