Ice cream cake

*Ice Cream Cake*

Sometimes, in life, you need cake.

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Chocolate cake all around. Coffee ice cream center. Coffee macarons on top, with dark chocolate ganache filling.

But it isn’t always that people celebrated milestones with cakes. The tradition of celebrating birthdays with cake originates from ancient Romans.

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Cake just before frosting, out of the freezer.

In the 1400’s, bakeries in Germany started marketing one layer cakes (which were basically sweet breads) for birthdays and weddings.

Frosting the cake.

Frosting the cake.

The song “Happy Birthday To You” was popularized in the early 1900s.

Early 1900s! I had great-grandparents alive then.

I know what you’re thinking. Where does she get all this wonderful information? Surely not from Wikipedia. She must be filled with wise tidbits about history.

Coffee Macarons

Coffee Macarons

The history of ice cream, however, extends far further–as early as the second century BC.

I did not have great-grandparents alive then.

People used to eat flavored snow, then one fine day, Marco Polo came with a recipe for sherbet from the “far east”. So really, it’s the far east we have to thank for modern ice cream.

And also, spaghetti. But that’s another story.

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First slice.

Ice cream cake is a relatively recent invention, dating back to the Victorian era.

Until the industrial revolution, layers of cake with frosting were reserved only for the wealthy. Until the internet, recipes were only passed down in families, or through friends.

Today, everyone can make their favorite cake at home, and world class recipes are just a click away.

Which is why, this year, for my birthday, I decided to make something I had never made before.

“Please don’t.” members of my family cried, “Please stop baking things…we can’t fit into our jeans.”

“It is my birthday” I replied, triumphantly. “No one can argue about a cake on a birthday.”

And no one did.

So I made three things. And put them all together.

And no one fit into their jeans ever again.

The End.

Just kidding.

Sort of.

Decorations done by my sister.

Decorations done by my sister.

*

Recipe for chocolate cake & frosting adapted from the Pioneer Woman.

Recipe for coffee macarons adapted from the spice train. Recipe for white chocolate coffee ganache adapted from oven loven:

  • 90 grams aged egg whites (weigh them, keep them in the fridge for at least a day, and then leave on the counter until room temperature).
  • 110 grams almond flour (sifted)
  • 200 grams powdered sugar (sifted)
  • 2 tsp ground coffee (sifted)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • 1/8 tsp lemon juice
  • 25 grams granulated sugar

Ganache:

  • 200 grams white chocolate
  • 150 grams heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup whole coffee beans

For Ganache: Heat white chocolate over double boiler. Warm heavy cream with coffee beans in a sauce pan and whisk into melted white chocolate. Store it in the fridge until ready to use.

For macaron cookies:

Take egg whites out of the fridge and wait until they are at room temperature.

Draw circles (if needed) on parchment paper on cookie sheets. Place a ziploc bag in a tall glass, with one corner at the bottom like a piping bag.

Pulse together almond flour, powdered sugar and ground coffee. Sift the whole mixture together into a bowl.

Whisk egg whites, vanilla, lemon juice and salt until frothy. Slowly pour in granulated sugar as they whisk into stiff peaks.

Fold egg mixture into almond flour mixture until lava like consistency then put batter into the Ziploc bag. Cut end of the bag and pipe cookies onto parchment paper.

Slam tray down a few times to bring air bubbles to surface. With a toothpick, pop the bubbles and smooth out the surface. Let dry for 20 minutes.

Bake for 20-25 minutes with two cookie trays (rather than one), and watch carefully for browning.

Wait until they cool, and add ganache.

Recipe for coffee ice cream (from David Lebovitz’ “The Perfect Scoop”):

(This is easily the best coffee ice cream ever. I’ve never had a coffee ice cream that tastes better than this version.)

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups whole coffee beans (I use decaff Colombian coffee; quality of brand doesn’t matter.)
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 10 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tsp finely ground coffee

Warm milk, sugar, coffee beans, salt and 1 cup of the cream. Once steaming, remove from heat and let steep for an hour.

Pour 2 cups of heavy cream into a bowl sitting over an ice bath, with a mesh strainer on top.

In a second bowl, whisk egg yolks. Rewarm the coffee-milk mixture and slowly pour a little into the egg yolks while whisking egg yolks vigorously. Pour the egg mixture int the coffee-milk mixture and continue to stir over medium heat until the mixture thickens, like custard.

Pour custard into the bowl with heavy cream sitting on the ice bath, and strain out the coffee beans and whatever eggs may have scrambled at the bottom. Scrape all the custard through the strainer.

Add vanilla and coffee to the ice cream base, and then refrigerate until cold.

Stick in ice cream machine (according to manufacturer’s instructions.)

*

Assembly: Freeze each cake layer, then add the coffee ice cream in the middle. Freeze whole thing, and then add ganache frosting and cookies. Enjoy!

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“Screw you guys, I’m making cake.”

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Minions

*Minions*

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Can you spot Mr. Angry Pants?

I have a problem with being a perfectionist.

I wish this meant that everything I tried to do turned out perfect. Instead, what it means is that the first time I do something, it is always terrible. So I do it again, and it is less terrible. Then, the third time, it’s not terrible, but it could be better. The result of this phenomenon is that many of my actions follow the same, neurotic pattern.

I can be found studying how to accomplish a new task for days before actually doing it (“But let’s look up the best recipe for plantains” I tell my sister, who, ignoring me, just chucks them onto a sauce pan, and finds they turn out perfectly fine). When outside, I try to pull out the last of the tiniest weeds from the ground long after everyone else is bored and wants to go inside, and just the other day, I realized I am probably going to re-write this blog post several hundred times to get it just right, and probably forget about it after a week of tinkering with it, and never hit ‘publish’.

So in an effort to throw caution to the wind, I will only revise this post once. Okay, maybe twice. Eight–eight times.

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This is Mr. Angry-Pants, hanging out with Mr. Escaped Convict, both removed from the happy, normal Minions living in Minion-Land.

The good thing about minions is that they are most “perfect” when they look a little demented.

*

I recently discovered a great book, called “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, by Marie Kondo, the successful Japanese consultant who developed the “Kon-Mari” method of organization.

My husband likes to say that every time I read a good book, I become a little crazy.

I would like to say that his argument is baseless, but then he reminds me of the three months I kept talking about farming after reading “The Dirty Life” by Kristin Kimball; the four months I went to the gym every day after reading “The Power of Habit”by Charles Duhigg, and not to mention my long-standing, but still unrealized desire to be invited to study at Hogwarts.

(I could go on, which is sort of the point, but let me not get distracted. After all, I’ve only allowed myself two revisions. Eight. We’re on the eighth.)

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Husband’s Pants. No one is safe from my tidying rampage. I was not allowed to photograph the underwear drawer.

To everyone’s general annoyance, all I’ve been talking about for the last week and a half is how different categories of my possessions have become “KonMari’d”, and how they all now “spark a joy”.

The great thing about this method of tidying is that it takes into account that we are all in fact lazy and pointlessly attached to our ridiculous memorabilia.

But the most interesting part is the philosophy behind the technique—which relies on the premise that maybe what you are meant to do with your finite time in this long expanding universe is whatever will make your soul spark with joy. And the simple, meditative act of thinking about performing the actions and hanging onto the objects which truly ‘spark joy’ for you make you connect more closely to who you are–one little action, or one little button–at a time.

*

So ever since I saw Nerdy Nummies’ Rosanna Pansino make these Minion cupcakes, I was itching to make them, and only needed an excuse.

Mr. Happy Pants. We didn't name all of them, but we should have.

Mr. Happy Pants. We didn’t name all of them, but we should have.

The other weekend, my oldest best friend came to visit, and that was my excuse.

She needed minion cupcakes in her life. I needed minion cupcakes in my life.

In fact, I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t need minion cupcakes in their life.

My daughter stuck her foot on the smiley face.

My daughter stuck her foot on the smiley face.

In her book, Marie Kondo claims that she is always surprised by the seemingly random things people are in love with–old things, tattered things, things that you wouldn’t think twice to chuck in the bin.

As it turns out “perfection” or true tidiness, involves embracing those aspects of ourselves which are imperfect, and arranging them around us in a way that makes us happy.

Normal citizens of Minion Land.

Mr. Angry Pants disrupts the Normal citizens of Minion Land.

Look at their adorable little demented faces.

None of these minions are drawn perfectly. But at least for me, looking at their abnormal, imperfectly assembled faces sparks joy.

Look at his happy, unsuspecting face.

So unsuspecting. So trusting.

At least until I eat them.

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Good-bye, happy minion.

*

Recipe for chocolate cupcakes adapted from The Pioneer Woman:

(This is the most requested cake I’ve ever had. It’s not fair to the other cakes. Thanks, Pioneer Woman.)

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 4 heaped tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 cup coffee
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup yogurt (fill it up to almost 1/2 cup, then add water to make liquidy)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp vanilla

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar and salt. In a measuring cup, add yogurt, 2 eggs, baking soda and vanilla. Melt butter on a saucepan. Add cocoa powder to it. When the butter is all melted, add coffee. Stir until slightly bubbly; just a few minutes. Stir into flour mixture. Add yogurt mixture to flour mixture.

Recipe for cream cheese frosting:

  • 2 packages cream cheese
  • 1/4 stick butter
  • 3/4 to 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • blue food coloring

Cream together room temperature cream cheese and butter. Add vanilla, powdered sugar and food coloring. Put into a piping or ziploc bag, and attach whatever tip you want.

Recipe for minions from Nerdy Nummies:

  • Smarties candy
  • Chocolate cookie icing
  • Blue cookie icing
  • Milano cookies

Separate out the white smarties from the other colors. Stick it onto the milano cookie with chocolate icing. Make eyeballs, hair, and glasses with chocolate icing. Make overalls with blue icing and add buttons with brown icing.

Once they are dry, stick them into the frosted cupcakes.

Enjoy getting to know your minion community. And then eat them, mercilessly, one by one.