my perfect brownie: deep, dark, decadent

my perfect brownies: deep, dark, decadent - recipe via www.milissweets.com

I take my brownies very seriously. I’m not kidding when I say that I’ve studied them. Over the years, I have made a ton of different versions, many different times. Of all the different recipes, I’m sharing my absolute favorite here with you.

Here’s my perfect brownie: very rich, thick, dark, with a satisfying top layer. It should have a chew to it, with no dryness to be found. Of course, my brownies will never have nuts of any kind, but I do love chocolate chips baked-in. The center should be extremely decadent, but I’ll reach for the texture of a corner-piece, every time.

If all of that sounds like perfection to you, these are the brownies you should make as soon as possible.

my perfect brownies: deep, dark, decadent - recipe via www.milissweets.com

This recipe is great, as it requires no machinery. It’s best if all ingredients are mixed by-hand, with a good old fashioned bowl and spatula. I separate the parts of the recipe into bowls A-D, so that it’s easy to organize and manage.

Let’s do this!

my perfect brownies: deep, dark, decadent - recipe via www.milissweets.com

Recipe for Deep, Dark, Decadent Brownies

Here’s what you’ll need:

Prepare four different bowls with the ingredients listed below. You’ll work with bowls A through D in-order. Bowl B should be your largest bowl, since it will end up holding all of the ingredients.

BOWL A:

2 and 2/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips

6 oz. unsweetened blocks of pure cocoa (product typically comes in 2 oz. blocks or cubes)

2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter, cut into pats

BOWL B:

6 extra large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

4 teaspoons brewed espresso

If you don’t care for the taste of espresso, you can substitute the vanilla and espresso measurements listed above, for 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract.

2 and 1/4 cup granulated sugar

BOWL C:

1 cup all purpose flour

To make a gluten-free version of these brownies, substitute all purpose flour with gluten-free flour. I typically use Pamela’s Artisan Blend.

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

BOWL D:

1 and 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup all purpose flour (or a gluten-free, wheat flour substitute)

my perfect brownies: deep, dark, decadent - recipe via www.milissweets.com

Here’s what you’ll do:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare your baking pan: I use a 9″ x 13″ pan so that my brownies are the thickness I require for my version of “perfection.” If you like thinner brownies, use a larger pan so that the batter can be spread thin.

Take a pat of butter and use your fingers to spread it over every inch of the inside of the pan. Do yourself a favor and dust with unsweetened cocoa powder, like I do. Dusting the pan with flour tends to leave a bitter aftertaste on the outside of the brownie crust. I recommend dusting all baked chocolate desserts, with chocolate instead of flour.

Now, let’s prepare the first ingredients we’ll work with, to make a chocolate sauce.

my perfect brownies: deep, dark, decadent - recipe via www.milissweets.comBOWL A:

Create a double-broiler to melt the ingredients together. Place 1-2 inches of water into a saucepan. Place on medium-low heat. Once you see tiny bubbles forming in the water, it’s time to place the glass bowl (A) onto the top.

The trick to melting/tempering chocolate is to be sure additional moisture is not added, while it’s over a heat source. Therefore, I recommend always using a baking spatula and not a wood spoon (since wood retains moisture) to mix while melting.

Use the spatula to coat the chocolate with the butter.  After about 4 minutes, the water will increase in heat and start to boil. At that point, bring the heat down to low. Continue turning the chocolate. It will take approximately 10 minutes total, to melt the chocolate to  become completely smooth.

Remove the bowl from heat, and set this aside to cool. Before mixing in the rest of the ingredients, the chocolate sauce should cool for 10 minutes. Since the rest of this recipe will fly-by, I recommend setting a timer so you know when to move onto the next steps.

my perfect brownies: deep, dark, decadent - recipe via www.milissweets.comBOWL B:

Again, this should be the largest bowl, since all of the contents will end up here.

Place the sugar, eggs, pure vanilla extract (and if you’re using it, the fresh-brewed espresso). Use a spatula to break it down and mix it together. There’s no need to whisk or beat.

Next, pour the cooled, melted chocolate of BOWL A, into the egg and sugar mixture of BOWL B.

my perfect brownies: deep, dark, decadent - recipe via www.milissweets.com

Mix together. You’ll notice how the texture changes, into a thickened mixture, that gives resistance against the spatula. Once the chocolate is incorporated, add the dry ingredients from BOWL C. It won’t take long to combine. Last, you’ll add the ingredients from BOWL D. Mix just enough, until there are no traces of white from the flour.

my perfect brownies: deep, dark, decadent - recipe via www.milissweets.com

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Place the pan at the center rack of your oven. For this size pan, the brownies are done after 35 minutes. Take out at this time. Don’t over cook or allow for dark-browning/burning at the edge or top. A couple specs of dark at the top are perfectly fine.

my perfect brownies: deep, dark, decadent - recipe via www.milissweets.com

Allow to cool. It will take time for the rise in the center to flatten. Once it’s flat, you can cut and serve, or put the pan in the refrigerator to cut and serve when you are ready. I like to cut them into portions, individually wrap them and then place them in an air-tight container, so that they do not stale and I can enjoy them at least two days later, if there are any left.

my perfect brownies: deep, dark, decadent - recipe via www.milissweets.com

Because these are so decadent, thick, rich and filled with chocolate, you won’t need a lot to completely satisfy your chocolate-fix. I still like to look at a big brownie by my side, even if I can’t eat the whole thing in one sitting.

My kids were served a small piece, as an after school treat. They were thrilled, since I typically offer a piece of fruit as they hang-out before homework.

my perfect brownies: deep, dark, decadent - recipe via www.milissweets.com

This recipe has my own twists and modifications, but was greatly influenced by Ina Garten’s “Outrageous Brownies” recipe which has been around for a number of years. She published it and adapted it from the Soho Charcuterie Cookbook. Not sure if the cookbook adapted it it from somewhere else. An assortment of food bloggers, magazines and cookbooks have shared their takes on it as well. This is a classic, and a lot like a good chocolate chip cookie recipe: it’s good and made in similar ways because the ingredient ratios are spot-on. I’m posting my special spin.

In the end, perfection is totally subjective. It’s up to you, to put your own spin on the flavor and texture you wish to create, so that it’s a keeper. I hope this becomes a keeper for you as it has for me!

If you’d like another one of my brownie recipes, please see my post for flourless chocolate brownies.

xox

laughing at myself: epic-fails with cake

laughing at myself, epic fails with cake, stories via www.milissweets.com

 

If I had a dollar for every embarrassing/humbling moment in my life, I’d be a millionaire!

One of the main reasons why I’m usually smiling and laughing is because I’ve gotten really good at dealing with my life-fumbles. As a child, I decided I didn’t want to waste time or energy with sadness or despair. I had enough of it. I figured, if it’s not a life-threatening situation, it will always be more fun to laugh (as apposed to cry) at myself.

If it wasn’t for all of the painful, learning moments, I wouldn’t be who I am. I wouldn’t develop or grow. I take them all on with faith, knowing that it’s what I’m suppose to go through. And when I’m able to look back, I will try to understand.

Allow me to share how this all relates to cake. The first installment of Laughing at Myself (this might end up being a series) shares some of the awesome epic-fails I endured while dealing with the cakes when I was catering. I hope you enjoy them!

First, a little background. If there was ever a time that I was delivering a cake, whether it was 4″ tall or four-tiers tall, I was nervous about it. I couldn’t take a sigh of relief until the cake had successfully reached my customer. I have always taken all of my work to-heart; it is very personal. I believe that when my name is on it, it is a reflection of me – my love, time and intentions. When someone is counting on me, regarding cake or not, I’m going to do whatever it takes to follow through for them. Being ‘only-human’ makes for huge obstacles, especially since I’ve been told over and over again that my name could never be Grace.

RESPONSIBLE FOR CRYING AND SCREAMING CHILDREN

A woman hired me to make a very customized cake for her husband’s 40th birthday. It was going to be a big deal for her husband, their children and their whole family, especially since her husband was in the military and was deployed for almost a year. The week they would celebrate was a home-coming as well. Lots of family and friends would be invited to their home to be together.

I felt blessed to have been chosen to work on the cake for such a special day. I worked with the wife for a couple weeks to set all of the details. The cake would have lots of love and details, with edible symbols and imagery that had special relevance for his life, set on a larger, two-tier cake. The materials alone would be quite expensive. It would also take a lot of my time. The cake was going to be the centerpiece of the party setting. I offered a discounted rate, but it would still be a significant investment for the family.

When it was finally finished, I was really proud of it. I took lots of photos and sent them to my customer, as soon as it was finished that weekday morning.

The cake had to be delivered in the afternoon, and it meant my children had to ride along. They would sit in the back and the cake would be in the front seat, where the epic-fail unfolds.

My kids are (almost) always so good and they know how nervous I can get about cake delivering. As we’re driving down the road, I briefed my then 4 and 7 year olds on how to act when the time comes to enter the customer’s home with me. (I tell them: hold hands, stay close, say hello but don’t walk further than I go. If shoes are removed, remove your shoes, etc.)

Next thing I know, I took a sharp turn onto the main street of their neighborhood. Can you guess what happens? The cake releases from it’s stable, flat position and turns with the car, to become completely and totally destroyed.

It was as if it exploded, that’s how bad it looked. It almost looked like I took a closed fist, and pounded it a few times. I’m not even exaggerating.

I made a deep, loud gasp. The kids were startled, “Oh no! Mommy! What are we going to do?!” I kept cool. Oh my goodness. There’s nothing I can do. I didn’t say any bad words but I fell silent and felt awful. I kept driving to their home, down the road, to the happy people who couldn’t wait to see their cake in-person.

The mom comes out and I tell her I need to show her something. My kids are standing by the car, in the driveway and I open my front door. I tell her, I’m so sorry. I have your cupcakes. I’ll set them and then I’ll go find you other options for cake servings. Her kids come walking up to see the cake. They literally scream, cry and run back into the house. That was the worst part of the experience! There were three children in absolute horror of what I accidentally did. I apologize another few times, and told the mom I’ll be back as soon as possible. I’m going to refund you the entire amount of the cake, so please don’t worry about that. 

At this point, I start feeling frantic. My kids feel bad too. We go on a dessert-finding mission. I drive to the closest bakery and the items in the case look horrible. I can tell with my expert-eye, that the cakes are more than a couple days old. I’d never purchase something that looked old. Not good enough. Shameful even. I leave. I go to another store, then another. In all, I purchased three cakes, providing more servings than the cake I had made. I didn’t know what else to do. I had printed some of the graphics onto paper and had them with me. I placed them on the cake in a way that it could look like something. . . but it was something terrible – such an epic fail.

I quietly go back into the home, where the door is propped open. I place the desserts in as presentable a way as possible, and leave so that I’m unnoticed. I was embarrassed enough to not have to make any further eye contact, or to see another child in tears! I’m pretty sure we were both equally disappointed with the situation. I had lost so much and so had she. Human error can be so painful! As soon as I came home, I electronically refunded her money for the entire amount I had charged.

We would see one another again and again, since our daughters ended up being in the same girl’s club. The mom was so kind and she did get over it right away. I never saw her daughter cry, yell or scream in front of me again.

I tried and failed but learned that day:

lesson 1) If possible, schedule deliveries around when I have my children with me, since bring them along can be distracting.

lesson 2 ) Never deliver a cake placed in the front seat of a car. One of my cake-friends told me the right way to do it, in the back of my SUV, flat with a sheet of non skid mat. That’s how it’s done!

lesson 3)  Even if someone hates you for what you accidentally did, keep calm and set a loving and sympathetic tone. It’s important to keep  your cool, especially when children are present. Everyone is more calm and understanding that way.

2am CAKE WRECKS

I’ve never ever cried over cake but I totally could have!

I think life experience has taught me that when something bad happens, you have to keep your wits about you, even when it’s 2am and you had a very full day.

I typically worked in the middle of the night and on more than one occasion, something went wrong when I was working in the commercial kitchen that I rented by the hour. I was always alone and no matter what happened, I needed to be done before the catering shift came in (sometimes at 5am to prep).

Enough With the Aqua: One time, I was frosting/decorating a 4-tier wedding cake, in an aqua, vanilla buttercream ombre pattern. It was too hot in the kitchen that had little circulation. I never left the kitchen door open or unlocked, in fear of a crazy person rolling in on me, so my only option was to figure it out. I rolled the heavy cake into the walk-in refrigerator and worked while wearing a big puffy jacket. This was only after the fail and lots of sticks of butter to realize that my buttercream was a hot-mess and melting from the cake.

To take the stress level of this cake over the top, when I sent a photo of the cake to the bride the next day, she wasn’t thrilled with the color, so I had to scrape off all of my work and start over again, on that same afternoon (her wedding day). I had to take the monster of a cake home with me to do it there, since the kitchen was not open for me to work in it. Yeah. That happened. I wasn’t angry but frustrated. I did want the bride to be happy and deliver knowing that she would be totally satisfied.

lesson 1) Never, ever send a photo of the wedding cake to the bride or groom. Let the final be a surprise. Everyone should know what to expect since the details are clearly written on the confirmation.

lesson 2) From then on, if a client had a specific color requests, I had them provide me with the Pantone number or paint color swatch, found in hardware stores, so that I could match their color exactly, and not try to read their mind.

Ouch: Another time, I was exhausted, and pulled a muscle near my rib bone, while trying to bring a large, heavy cake into the walk-in-fridge. I ended up ruining the frosted portion of the top layer. I fixed it while it was in the fridge. The next day, my husband came with me to deliver. It was a blessing that the cake order called for rose-placement. I was able to hide any other imperfections with beautiful blossoms. No one ever knew the difference.

Mickey-Mouse Re-Do: Finally, let’s just say, fondant Mickey ears, topping a tiered-cake that’s covered in whipped cream, should never happen. I had to totally re-frost and decorate this cake. The time was at closer to 4am. The lesson I learned was never try to defy the laws of gravity. After this, I would only ever  place items onto the top of cakes, after the cake was displayed and at the party.

WALK-UP SERVICE

I was on my way to deliver a cake, assorted desserts and plating for a very special teacher from my children’s school, celebrating his retirement ceremony from the Navy. He’s such a great guy! His reception would be at a friend’s house. In attendance would be his friends and family, along with his co-workers: teachers and staff of my children’s school.

As soon as I had access into the gated community, my car starts acting funny. It’s straining, and lights for the battery, transmission, etc. are flashing on my dashboard. I’m feeling uneasy, not sure what is going on, but certain that something is going wrong. I pull over, to the side of the road.

I think: To be safe, I should shut off the ignition and will start it up again. (Earth to Mili, it’s not a computer or cell phone.) I stopped the car. I tried to turn it over again but it was a no-go. I was totally stuck! Don’t panic. Take a deep breath. You have to walk the desserts to the house.

I didn’t know how far I had to walk, so I put my phone with the talking GPS directions in my pocket and listened to the voice tell me where to go. I decided to walk the cake first, since it would be the first and most important thing to melt in the back of the car. Luckily, it was on the small side so it wasn’t too heavy. The delivery turned out to be only two blocks away. Those two blocks felt like an eternity in the heat and with the added stress of my car, now officially a ‘hooptie’ on the side of the road, in front of a really nice house. (By my personal definition, any make and model car that isn’t functioning properly can be a hooptie.)

The cake made it to the house safe and sound. I explained to the party hostess, that I would be making a few more trips.

I go back to the car, and started walking my bin full of pedestal plating. I’m now sweating. The bin is heavy and cumbersome. It would have been great if I had packed my delivery wagon, but I didn’t. Of course not!

At this point, the hostess realizes what had happened to me. She gets in her car and drives me over to mine. She is beyond thoughtful and kind! Now I’m even more embarrassed! I tell her that it’s all right, that I’d call a tow truck as soon as I was done setting the table with the desserts. She offers her husband to jump it for me, when he comes home. (Which I really didn’t want since he already had his hands so full, helping his wife and entertaining guests in his home.)

Once I’m back in the house, I think, I can only imagine how much more awesomely-embarrassing this is going to be, when my friends/teachers from school see me on the road to the reception, with a broken down car. I’m super-active in my school community so it would be hard not to notice. “Oh look, there’s Mrs. Takashima.” I planned ahead, knowing that the best thing to do would of course be, make fun of myself and ‘smile and wave’ at the passers-by. 

I didn’t want to invite myself to hang out at the reception either. It feels awkward for me to be invited to a party, because the person feels obligated, and it’s a last-minute decision. I will try to say no, since I don’t want them to feel obligated and I don’t want to add unnecessary costs to their party.  On this day, I couldn’t go, as my husband was deep-sea fishing. That’s right, I couldn’t depend on my husband to come to the rescue.

After I finished setting the table, I wrote a note to the hostess to thank her.

I believe that almost nothing is impossible. However, I’ve dealt with car trouble before. There was less than a 5% chance that it would start up again. As I walk back to the car, I start praying. I don’t stop praying until the key goes into the ignition and . . . it starts up! I feel so thankful and I don’t stop praying until I reach my driveway. It was a long, horrible ride, but I needed to brave it. The car went into the shop and I hope to not be stuck on the side of the road anytime soon.

I’ll stop here, for now.

I hope you have the gift of knowing how and when to laugh at yourself! I’ll promise to keep up with my own sweet comedy show and look forward to sharing more later.

xox, Mili

cookies-only party

cookies-only party, dessert table via milissweets.com

My catering mission, was to bake 1,000 cookies from scratch in one day. The easy part would be styling and setting the dessert tables. It was the first and only time I have ever catered cookies as the only dessert. It was a hit!

cookies-only party, dessert table via milissweets.com

I was asked by two very generous women to treat the parishioners of St. Thomas More to a cookie-buffet, to be enjoyed after the ground-breaking ceremony of their new church-build.

cookies-only party, dessert table via milissweets.com

On the menu: Oatmeal Raisin, Chocolate Chip, Lemon Tea, Chewy Ginger and Snickerdoodle.

It was a very good thing to have my mom by my side for all of this work! I simply could not have done this without her. I was also fortunate to have scheduled the time needed in the commercial kitchen I was renting. My momma and I rolled out more than enough dough and baked 12 or so dozen at a time. It was awesome! We are a good team and made it fun.

cookies-only party, dessert table via milissweets.com

The floral arrangements made the dessert tables so lovely! The small arrangements had orange roses with ivory and green hydrangea. The larger arrangements were beautiful as well, with more greenery and lilies in both yellow star and white cala.

I loved the white plating, placed on brown and wood-toned pedestals. The set-up squeezed in nicely onto three, 6′ tables.

cookies-only party, dessert table via milissweets.com

It didn’t take long at all to plate the cookies, since I was organized and knew exactly how I wanted to lay them out beforehand. The best part was meeting the sweet parishioners and knowing how much the enjoyed the cookies.

xox

 

 

cowgirl dessert table

cowgirl dessert table, via milissweets.com

This was the super sweet dessert table I catered and set years ago, for a special little birthday girl that loved pony rides and all things pioneer.

It’s funny to dig into my archives and find images from my past work, when I was caterer. I still remember this day. I especially remember that the parents were very nice – delighted with me and my work. It truly makes it a joy, to encounter wonderful people while serving them.

The parents chose a color-theme of red, white and yellow. I made sure that the details they wished for shined through.

The centerpiece for the dessert table was the cowgirl’s birthday cake.

cowgirl dessert table, via milissweets.com

I loved the simplicity of a cow-print, decorated with a handmade, fondant rope, tied in a bow. This small detail made it girlie and super cute.

There were big candy/apothecary jars for the table too, with custom labeling that I created, using the cowgirl-rope theme, and red and yellow ribbon throughout the plating that I set with the desserts.

cowgirl dessert table, via milissweets.com

You may or may not have noticed the plastic tablecloth used for this dessert table. I have to point it out and confess that plastic tablecloths are a pet-peeve of mine. I was disappointed to have to work with them for this party. Plastic really takes away from the quality of the setting, especially when such an investment is put into a celebration. Had I known, I would have brought my own cotton, red and white gingham table cloths from home.

Sometimes, there’s no way to control all aspects of what you are hired to set. With the best intentions, sometimes the client will make a mistake of ordering the wrong thing, or no one knows the difference, until it’s already done. For any special occasion or dessert table, I believe it’s always worth it to either make, find or order fabric tablecloths, especially since they are so inexpensive and you can always reuse them.

cowgirl dessert table, via milissweets.com

Don’t get me wrong, this little girl (and her parents) had really good taste! They ordered individual servings of creme brulee and a lovely assortment of cupcakes to go along with all of the other treats. I decorated the cupcakes by dipping them in red and yellow candy pearls and nonpariel-sprinkles.

The party was held at the warm and lovely, Mega Arte Riding Academy in Escondido, at the edge of Elfin Forest.

cowgirl dessert table, via milissweets.com

xox

authentic-Italian sponge cake

authentic-Italian sponge cake, tiramisu cake - recipe via milissweets.com

This recipe takes me back to my childhood. Being raised as a first-generation American in a great big Italian family, meant there were many old-country recipes being cooked and baked around me at all times. If it’s possible to duplicate or enjoy the past, to bring back good memories and authentic flavors, then I’m all in.

I found scratchings of an old Italian recipe and followed it. The chemistry wasn’t there to make it work and it failed. I modified it until this dream of a cake happened. It’s simple and dead-on for flavor and texture.

authentic-Italian sponge cake, tiramisu cake - recipe via milissweets.com

Real Italian sponge cake is a lot like biscotti/sweet bread. The crust is full of flavor. The outer edge has a smokier texture but is soft and easy to cut through. It tastes a lot like biscotti. It’s not overly sweet and soaks in any flavor you can pour into it. The texture inside the cake is bouncy and lovely. I love it!

I’m sharing two versions of this cake: Tiramisu-Sponge and a Strawberries & Cream Sponge.

The flavor possibilities are endless with this recipe! It’s all about preparing what to soak-in. I can see making a Paradise Sponge with either passionfruit puree or pineapple sauce. An Orange Dream Sponge would be next on my list. I’d even love this cake soaked with dulce de leche or tres leches.

Let’s start with the base:

Authentic-Italian Sponge Cake recipe by Mili’s Sweets

Here’s what you’ll need:

6 large egg yolks

6 large egg whites

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup canola oil

2 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

authentic-Italian sponge cake - recipe via milissweets.com

Here’s what you’ll do:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Separate 6 large eggs so that you have 6 yolks and 6 whites. Set the egg whites aside. In the bowl of your standing mixer, place the egg yolks and sugar. Mix with the paddle attachment until smooth and fluffy (1 minute). Add the one cup canola oil and pure vanilla extract. Mix until completely incorporated.

Slowly add the remaining dry ingredients, including baking powder, baking soda, salt and flour. The result will look a lot like choux pastry dough. Set this cake “dough” aside as you make a meringue with the egg whites.

In a separate bowl, with a whisk attachment, add the egg whites and 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar. Whisk on high until stiff peaks are formed.

Add the mound of prepared meringue onto the cake dough mixture. Mix these together with a paddle attachment until completely smooth. It will take two-to-three minutes for the meringue to break down into the dough, to make a perfectly smooth cake batter.

I used one 8″ (Fat Daddio Cake Pan) and prepared it with cooking spray before pouring all of the batter in.

Bake for 50 minutes.

This cake definitely takes longer to bake than most other cake recipes. Don’t open the oven until at least 30 minutes have passed. Once your cake tester (skewer or toothpick) comes out clean, you can remove the cake from the oven.

It will look a lot like rustic bread at the top – harder than a typical cake and very golden. Don’t worry. That’s what’s suppose to happen. Think biscotti on the outside and fluffy cake on the inside. You’ll have to trust me, even though the result might seem like it’s over-done, it’s not the case.

authentic-Italian sponge cake - recipe via milissweets.com

Tiramisu Sponge

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 cup fresh brewed espresso, plus 1/4 cup amaretto syrup

either one batch freshly made, unset vanilla pudding or custard, with 1/4 cup amaretto syrup added into either recipe

(I use Torani syrup for amaretto flavor. I must have a completely peanut and tree nut-free kitchen, and this rich, delicious flavoring does not contain peanut or tree nut products. Please see the Torani allergen chart for more information.)

plastic wrap

prepared whipped cream

(For my whipped cream recipe, please link to my previous post.)

sweetened cocoa for dusting

authentic-Italian sponge cake, tiramisu cake - recipe via milissweets.comHere’s what you’ll do:

Prepare either custard or vanilla pudding and set aside. Add 1/4 cup of amaretto syrup into either recipe.

Cut off the top of the cake, to have one even layer. I don’t allow the cake to completely cool. It’s really not necessary since I pour on hot toppings, and the cake is easily removed from the pan. If you can’t handle the heat, wait until the cake has completely cooled. When you’re ready, place the cake on a serving dish. Use a fork to create additional holes in the cake.

Mix together 1 cup fresh-brewed espresso and 1/4 cup amaretto syrup. Pour this mixture onto the cake layer.

Next, pour the prepared (and unset) pudding or custard onto the soaking cake to completely cover the top. (For this example, I used vanilla pudding with the extra amaretto syrup.) Place plastic wrap over the entire cake and allow to set in the refrigerator until you are ready to cover/frost with whipped cream.

authentic-Italian sponge cake, tiramisu cake - recipe via milissweets.com

** For my tips on how to frost a cake with whipped cream, please see my tutorial photos below. **

I top the Tiramisu Sponge with a dusting of cocoa powder before serving.

authentic-Italian sponge cake, tiramisu cake - recipe via milissweets.com

Strawberries & Cream Sponge

Here’s what you’ll need:

freshly-prepared Strawberry Sauce (please see my recipe below)

one batch freshly made, either unset vanilla pudding or custard

plastic wrap

prepared whipped cream

(For my whipped cream recipe, please link to my previous post.)

authentic-Italian sponge cake - recipe via milissweets.com - strawberries & cream version Here’s what you’ll do:

First, you’ll need to prepare fresh Strawberry Sauce.

Mili’s Sweets Strawberry Sauce Recipe 

2 cups fresh-cut strawberries, smashed by-hand

1/2 cup granulated sugar

Take fresh strawberries, thoroughly wash them and remove the tops. Smash them with your fingers to cut them up, break them down and to release their natural juices. Keep smashing until you have two full cups. Place the smashed strawberries and sugar in a saucepan. Cook at medium heat for 15 minutes. Stir from time to time, once the mixture comes to a boil.

authentic-Italian sponge cake - recipe via milissweets.com - strawberries & cream version

When you are ready to assemble the Strawberries & Cream Sponge, remove the top of the cake with a serrated knife, to have an even layer. Use a fork to create additional holes in the cake. Pour the hot Strawberry Sauce onto the cake layer. Use the fork to push the fruit down, into the holes.

Next, pour the prepared (and unset) pudding or custard onto the soaking cake to completely cover the top. (For this example, I used custard.) Cover the entire cake with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to set.

authentic-Italian sponge cake - recipe via milissweets.com - strawberries & cream version

** How to Frost a Cake With Whipped Cream **

Once the custard or pudding has set in the refrigerator, you can frost the cake with whipped cream.

Here’s how I covered the Strawberries & Cream Sponge:

authentic-Italian sponge cake - recipe via milissweets.com - whipped cream topping tutorial

First, make the fresh whipped cream. I double the recipe so that I have a nice, thick layer and I don’t run out as I’m trying to frost.

I take a circle-tip (Wilton 1A) and fill a 16″ or 18″ pastry bag. I start at the bottom base of the cake and apply pressure to the pastry bag to evenly pipe from the bottom-up. Using a turntable/revolving cake decorating stand will be your best friend when applying any frosting to cakes. Once you reach the top edge, pipe the top portion, with a mostly-even, circular motion.

With an offset spatula, I use the cake plate as a guide and smooth the sides. I then smooth the top. I take the spatula and cover the sides one more time, pushing the excess up to the top. Next, use a pastry scraper to push (with a slight amount of pressure) and smooth the edges toward the center of the cake.

Top the cake with a garnish of fresh strawberries, or if you have extra Strawberry Sauce, you can blend it until smooth and cook at medium heat for an additional 15 minutes, stirring constantly, for a lovely, thicker sauce to drizzle and decorate the cake.

authentic-Italian sponge cake - recipe via milissweets.com - strawberries & cream version

Frosting the Tiramisu Sponge was even easier. I used a large, open star-tip and made small, circular piping motions, (like piping mini cupcakes, one at at time) covering the cake from the base and moving upward, until the last one was made at the top-center.

The inside of Sponge Cakes should be soft, delicious and flavorful. Nothing about the cake will be overly-sweet, and the whipped cream is the perfect, delicate topping for any flavor you decide to soak into the sponge.

authentic-Italian sponge cake, recipes via milissweets.comI hope you enjoy this post! Please let me know if you attempt this recipe, or any of my other recipes.

Thanks for being here.

Take care, Mili