Yay!!!! Today we are celebrating F2B’s 1st Blog Birthday!!!! I can’t believe it’s already been a year, a whole year since I clicked publish on my first ever blog post. How can time move so quickly and also feel like it’s been forever all at once? I don’t even really know where to begin besides one giant hug and a big thank you to all of you guys who actually read the words I write and take the time to look at the photos that I fill this space with. It has been one heck of an adventure that I know is just beginning!
This year has meant many things I never thought I’d do. I’ve shed a few tears over broken dishes, learned how to properly load a dishwasher and how to save a curdled or soupy buttercream (one of my finer moments!). I have relived childhood memories through lemon meringue pie and coffee cake. I have baked fourteen cakes… fourteen!!!! I learned that the skills I was taught in english class actually have come in handy… I have been inspired and excited, and I have met some of the most wonderful people in this community ever. I have been so happy, because food and people and sharing good food with good people is just the best and I can’t imagine a life without everything I’ve gained in this year.
I had cake for breakfast on my birthday. I woke up early to take a few last minute photos before taking the cake to school with me. I lit a candle, quickly hummed “Happy Birthday” to myself, blew the candle out, then cut myself a messy slice of cake because how does one nicely cut a cake that is topped with the sugar pile that is macarons, marshmallows, and meringues?? This is a triple M cake, people!!!!!
I guess we’re kind of celebrating a two birthdays in one here! My real birthday was spent running on two hours of sleep thanks to my last final, hastily cleaning up the apartment, and packing with my eyes half closed because I was flying out to Hawaii the next day. But home left me with so many wonderful things to be thankful for. I celebrated that weekend with my parents, my second mama, my two lovely best friends (and their bfs!), and Roy and his mom too. We enjoyed drinks at The Kahala Hotel and had a wonderful dinner at Aracino. Roy also surprised me with a day trip to Kauai, which I’ll be posting about soon 🙂 This is the first birthday in 5 years that I’ve gotten to spend with my parents, and I have been just over the moon happy!
With any flavor to choose for this birthday and blogiversary cake, are you surprised it’s not chocolate?? Don’t get me wrong, I luuuuurve chocolate. But when it comes to cake, I am first and foremost a vanilla kind of girl! I just love the simple yet addictive taste to anything vanilla. Jennifer’s recipe yields a cake that is so so so moist and the cardamom adds a fun little spice to complement the vanilla bean. I’ve been in love with the flavor combo since making this gingerbread cake via Call Me Cupcake. And I couldn’t help but pile on some ganache because, well, doesn’t ganache makes everything better? I also went for a traditional vanilla buttercream, using my go-to frosting recipe from my favorite, Cupcake Jemma!!! Jemma has got yo’ back when it comes to buttercream, guys.
I’d seen crushed macarons used as an ice cream topping before, and was totally inspired to use the same technique to decorate this cake. I stopped by Bottega Louie to pick up a few macarons and spotted some pillowy marshmallows too. One thing led to another, and I ended up adding meringues to the mix to create a fun decoration for the top of the cake! Now, the recipe may look long and tedious, but the meringues and cake layers can be done a day or two before and then frosted and the ganache drizzled on later. Or if you’re really in a pinch, the cake and frosting is enough to make any vanilla-lover weak in the knees!
Vanilla Bean Cake with Macarons, Marshmallows, and Meringues
for the cake
150 g all purpose flour
4 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tbsp ground cardamom
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp half and half (or 50% cream and 50% whole milk)
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp vanilla bean paste
9 tbsp (1 1/8 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
300 g granulated sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease three 6-inch cake pans and line the bottom with a parchment round. Flour the sides and tap out any excess. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, and cardamom. In another small bowl, combine the half and half, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean paste together. Set both aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed for a few minutes until light and fluffy. On a low speed, add in the eggs one at a time, making sure to beat well after each addition. Add the dry and wet ingredients to the butter mixture in several additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until the batter is fully combined. Make sure to scrape down the sides with a spatula and around the bottom of the bowl.
4. Split the batter evenly between the three cake pans and smooth out the tops. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let the cakes cool and remove them gently from the pans.
for the frosting
200g unsalted butter, room temperature
450g powdered sugar, sifted
2 tbsp whole milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
a few drops pink or red food coloring
1. Cream the butter on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, until pale and fluffy.
2. Add in half of the powdered sugar. Starting on a low speed and increasing to high, mix for 2-3 minutes. Add in the last half and repeat.
3. Turn the mixer down to low and add in the milk and vanilla extract. Mix on high speed for another 2-3 minutes.
4. Use a toothpick to add in very small amounts of pink or red food coloring to reach your desired shade. I used about one drop of gel food coloring. Mix on high speed for a minute or two until the color has been completely dispersed. If your buttercream seems curdled or starts to break apart at this point, pop it in the fridge for 5-10 minutes, then mix it on high speed for 30 seconds. Repeat this process as needed until the buttercream is smooth and creamy again.
for the meringues
2 egg whites
double the weight of egg whites in caster sugar
pinch of cream of tartar
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
red, blue, and yellow gel food coloring
1. Use a paper towel dipped in a little vinegar or lemon juice to wipe down the inside of your mixing bowl and whisk attachment. This will help to get rid of any leftover grease that can prevent the meringue from whipping up.
2. Place a mixing bowl on a kitchen scale and add in the egg whites, making sure to get absolutely no yolk inside. Remove from the scale and return the bowl to your stand mixer.
3. In a separate bowl, measure out double the weight of the egg whites in caster sugar. Set aside.
4. Start whisking the egg whites on a low speed. Add in a pinch of cream of tartar. Once the egg whites become foamy, increase the speed to high. As soon as the meringue begins to hold its shape but is still a bit foamy, begin adding the caster sugar one spoonful at a time. Continue to whisk on high speed for around 5 minutes, until the meringue has turned very glossy. Check to see if the sugar has been completely dissolved by stopping the machine and rubbing a big of the meringue between your fingers. If you can still feel any granules of sugar, continue to whisk on high until fully dissolved.
5. Add in the vanilla extract and mix for another few minutes. Set aside.
6. Prepare a piping bag with a large round tip. Using a small paintbrush, paint lines of red, blue, and yellow food coloring running from the narrow end to the wide end of the piping bag.
7. Carefully spoon the meringue mixture into the piping bag, making sure to it does not collapse on itself so the colors don’t mix. Use the first few squeezes of plain meringue to attach a piece of parchment paper to your baking sheet. Pipe out the meringues.
8. Bake the meringues at 200°F for 30-35 minutes. They’ll be done when they come off the parchment paper easily.
for the ganache
3 oz. dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1. Place the chocolate chips in a heat proof bowl. Set aside.
2. In a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream till it just reaches a boil.
3. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips. Whisk the mixture until it comes together into a smooth ganache. Pour the ganache in small increments onto the top of the frosted cake. Use a spatula to smooth out the top and drip small drops of ganache down the sides.
4. While the ganache is still wet, place the macarons, marshmallows, and meringues on top. Place it in the refrigerator to set, then serve. Enjoy!