Homebakers Collective February Challenge:

Cookies, Fussy, Homebakers Collective Challenge

What Kind of Macaron Are You?

Blackberry Mint Macarons

Tangy, sweet and fresh – just like yours truly.

Fresh ‘n Tart Blackberry Mint Jam:

  • 1 pint fresh or frozen blackberries
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1 TBSP finely chopped fresh mint

Fresh Mint Macarons:

  • 200g almond flour
  • 200g powdered sugar
  • 150ml egg whites, room temperature, divided
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 60 ml water
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint

Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup salted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine blackberries, sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, crushing blackberries with a fork or spoon as they start releasing their juices. Cook for 15 minutes, until thick. The mixture will thicken as it cools. Strain using a mesh strainer to remove most of the seeds. I like to add 1 TBSP of the seeds back into the smooth mixture and discard the rest. Refrigerate.

Line 3 baking sheets with silicon mats (preferred) or parchment. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fit a large pastry bag with a 1/2 inch round tip.

Whisk the almond flour and powdered sugar to combine. Press through a fine mesh strainer, into a large bowl, using your fingers or a rubber spatula to work it through.

Place 75 ml of egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer. Put the other 75 ml into the bowl of almond flour and stir with a rubber spatula until it is a smooth, thick paste. Let sit.

In a small saucepan, combine water and granulated sugar and bring to a boil over medium heat. Swirl pan gently to dissolve the sugar. Insert a candy thermometer and cook until syrup reaches 245 degrees. Meanwhile, whip egg whites in stand mixer on medium speed until they reach medium peaks. When the syrup has reached temperature, pour it slowly down the side of the stand mixer bowl while mixer is running. Once all syrup has been incorporated, increase mixer to high and beat until the meringue is stiff and has cooled to lukewarm, about 10 minutes.

Add the cooled meringue to the almond flour mixture and fold with a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth and flows off the spatula easily. Mix in the fresh mint until well combined.

Fill pastry bag with half the mixture and pipe onto prepared baking sheets in 2″ rounds, leaving space between them as they will spread. Once the cookie sheet is full, drop it onto the counter from about 12″ high to get rid of any air bubbles in the batter. Continue piping rounds until all the mixture is used.

Set the cookie sheets aside until the macaron batter dries and forms a skin – when pressed lightly with a fingertip the batter will be dry, not tacky.

When the macarons are dry, bake one sheet at a time for 12 minutes, rotating pan at 6 minutes, until they are firm but are still pale.

Let cool completely before peeling off and matching.

Place all cream cheese filling ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth, scraping bowl if necessary. Do not over-whip.

Fit pastry bag with a 1/2 inch round tip and fill with frosting.

Match macaron shells

Stir 1 TBSP fresh mint into cooled blackberry jam.

Pipe a ring of cream cheese filling around the base of one macaron shell. Fill the center generously with blackberry mint jam. Top with second macaron shell, pressing down gently to seal. Repeat.

Place sandwiched macarons in an airtight container, or wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.

Homebakers Collective January Challenge:

Cakes, Fussy

Cake Roll Inspired by Your Favorite Cocktail

Fuzzy Navel Cake Roll: orange roulade cake, piped joconde cake batter, peach schnapps, orange curd and peach whipped cream.

Each month a baker from our Homebakers Collective is assigning a challenge for us to bake our own version of and post at the end of the month. January was my choice so I assigned a cake roll because they are fun and delicious. The Fuzzy Navel is a drink that keeps popping up in my life because I have a place in my heart for peach schnapps, and thus the Fuzzy Navel Cake Roll is born.

Check out the other baker’s takes on the Cocktail Cake Roll at: https://homebakerscollective.com/2020/01/31/januarys-challenge-cake-roll-inspired-by-your-favorite-cocktail/

Orange Curd:

  • zest from 1 orange
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • pinch salt
  • 4 TBSP butter

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and stir over medium low heat with a heatproof spatula until thickened. Chill.

Jaconde Cake Batter Decoration:

From Fantastical Cakes by Gesine Bullock-Prado

  • 4 TBSP butter
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 1/2 cup cake flour

Cream butter and powdered sugar together in a medium bowl. Add egg whites and beat until smooth. Mix in cake flour until incorporated. Separate and add food coloring as desired. Fill a small pastry bag (or several, depending on your design) with a small round tip.

Line a 17×12 inch baking sheet with a silicon baking sheet that fits exactly. You can either freehand your design, or print a design out on paper – place underneath your silicon mat and trace over the design. Let freeze until firm.

Biscuit Roulade:

From Rose’s Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Berenbaum

  • 33g cake flour
  • 24g cornstarch
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 TBSP sugar
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix flour and cornstarch together in a small bowl.

Separate 2 eggs. Place the whites in a medium bowl. Place the yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the 2 remaining whole eggs, extra egg yolk and 1/2 cup sugar. Beat on medium high until very thick, about 5 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Sift in half of flour mixture, fold gently to incorporate. Repeat with second half and fold gently until there are no streaks.

Add cream of tartar to egg whites and beat until foamy. Add remaining 1 TBSP sugar and whip until firm peaks. Fold into batter.

Pour onto the ungreased decorated baking sheet and smooth with an offset spatula. Bake for 7 minutes, until just golden brown.

Carefully separate the cake from the edges of the baking sheet with a paring knife. Lift the cake out of the baking sheet and place on the counter. Dust with powdered sugar. Roll the cake, silicon mat still attached, into a tight cylinder, starting with the short side. Let cool completely.

Peach Whipped Cream:

  • 2 tsp instant Clearjel powder (available from King Arthur website – this helps the cream keep its shape )
  • 2 TBSP powdered sugar
  • 2 TBSP peach schnapps
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 good quality jarred peach, diced

In a medium bowl, whisk together Clearjel and powdered sugar. Stir in peach schnapps and heavy whipping cream. Whip until firm. Fold in diced peaches.


Unroll cooled cake and carefully remove silicon baking mat. Hopefully your design will be in tact. Brush liberally with peach schnapps. Spread orange curd over entire cake, leaving the last 2 inches on the short end bare since it will squeeze out there anyway. Spread with peach whipped cream, also leaving last 2 inches bare. Roll cake back up, and chill. Cut away the ends to reveal your perfect spiral (and to get a sneak taste test).

This will keep, refrigerated, for at least 2 days. Eat the cake, then make fuzzy navels the rest of the winter with that bottle of peach schnapps. Thank me later.

Elvis Opera Cake

Cakes, Fussy

If anyone deserves an opera cake, it’s Elvis. It is one of the classiest desserts out there, for one heck of a class act. Taking Care of Business indeed.


  • 32g flour
  • 50g almond flour
  • 140g egg yolks
  • 180g egg whites
  • 170g sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Peanut Butter French Buttercream:

  • 100g sugar
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 227g unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 80g creamy salted peanut butter

Bananas Foster:

  • 2 bananas, thinly sliced
  • 42 g butter
  • 3 TBSP brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 TBSP dark rum


  • 227g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 240 ml heavy cream
  • 57g unsalted butter, room temperature


  • 75g dark chocolate
  • 25g unsalted butter

Make jaconde: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease a 12×17″ jelly roll pan. Line with wax paper and grease and flour the paper.

Whisk flour and almond flour together and set aside. In a stand mixer with whisk attachment, beat egg yolks, 1/4 cup whites and 100g sugar until thick and fluffy, about 5-10 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Fold in flour gently. In a second mixing bowl, beat remaining egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks. Gradually add remaining sugar and beat to stiff peaks. Fold into batter gently. Smooth in prepared pan and bake 7-10 minutes, until light golden brown and springs back in the center. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then flip onto cooling rack to cool completely.

Make buttercream: Cut butter into tablespoons and let sit at room temperature. In stand mixer bowl over a pot of simmering water, combine yolks, sugar, rum, vanilla and salt. Stir constantly until 155 degrees on thermometer – about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and beat with whisk attachment until fluffy and cooled completely to room temperature, about 10 minutes. Add butter, one tablespoon at a time until all butter is incorporated and buttercream is thick and smooth. Add peanut butter, one tablespoon at a time and mix to incorporate.

Make bananas foster: Melt butter and brown sugar in large saucepan. Add sliced bananas. Add heavy cream and simmer for 3-5 minutes, until bananas are cooked through and start to caramelize. Remove from heat and stir in rum.

Make ganache: Place chopped chocolate in small bowl. Heat heavy cream in saucepan or microwave until warm. Pour over chocolate and let sit 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Add butter and stir to incorporate.

Assemble Opera Cake: Cut jaconde into 3 even pieces, trimming sides first if necessary. Layer 1/3 of peanut butter buttercream on first layer of cake. Refrigerate 10 minutes too firm. Top buttercream with sliced bananas and syrup. Top with 2nd layer of cake. layer 1/3 buttercream. Refrigerate 10 minutes. Pour ganache over buttercream and smooth. Refrigerate. Top ganache with bananas. Place last cake layer on top. Spread remaining buttercream on cake and smooth. Refrigerate at least 10 minutes.

Make chocolate glaze: melt 50g chocolate and butter together in a double boiler. Remove from heat and stir in 25g chocolate until smooth. Pour over chilled buttercream and smooth. Refrigerate until firm. Trim all sides.

Decorate as desired, preferably with TCB lightning bolts.

Pan O’ Raisins

Breakfast, Fussy

I firmly believe there is a time and a place for raisins: the oatmeal raisin cookie, rice pudding, and the (underrated) French pastry, Pain Aux Raisins – which I prefer to pronounce “Pan O’ Raisins” because I might as well double down on my horrific french pronunciation.

  • Danish dough:
  • 1/3 cup warm milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp rapid-rise yeast
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • Butter square:
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 1 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • Filling:
  • 1 cups whole milk
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 5 TBSP cornstarch
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 TBSP butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Take butter out of fridge to let soften a bit while you mix the dough.

For the dough: Combine flour, sugar, yeast, and slat in stand mixer fitted with dough hook. Combine milk and egg in a liquid measuring cup. Add to dry ingredients with mixer on low and mix until dough comes together. Increase speed and knead until the dough comes together. You will need to scrape the bowl a few times. Place in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Cut one stick of butter in half so you have 3 even pieces. On a piece of plastic wrap, sprinkle half of the tablespoon of dough and place the butter on top. Sprinkle remaining half tablespoon flour on top. Cover lightly with plastic wrap. Gently pound the butter with a rolling pin until it is pliable, then roll it out to a 5-inch square. Refrigerate.

Roll the dough out on a floured surface until it is a 9-inch square. Place the butter square diagonally on the dough square. Fold the corners of the dough in so they meet in the middle and cover the butter diamond entirely. Gently roll the dough out to a 14″ square. Fold the dough in thirds to form a rectangle, then fold the rectangle in thirds to form a square. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Remove the dough and let soften for 10 minutes. Roll the dough out again for the second “turn” to a 14″ square and fold again, as you did previously. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours again.

For the filling: Pour boiling water over the raisins to cover and let soften for at least 30 minutes. Combine sugar and cornstarch in small saucepan. Combine yolks and milk in a measuring cup. Whisk milk into sugar mixture and heat over medium-low heat until the mixture starts to thicken. Continue whisking until the mixture is very thick and at least one bubble has popped. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla extract. Strain, if you like (I don’t), into a bowl. Cut butter into pieces and whisk in butter a piece at a time until fully incorporated. Drain raisins and stir into pastry cream. Refrigerate until needed, stir vigorously to soften before using.

Roll out danish dough into a very large rectangle – about 12″ by 16″. Spread raisin cream evenly on top, leaving a 1-inch border on the long edge. Beat an egg in a small bowl and brush the exposed edge with egg wash to help seal (save egg wash). Roll up loosely and seal at the long edge. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to firm it up a bit.

Cut the roll into 1/3-1/2-inch slices – the pastry cream will ooze a bit, just do your best to keep it in shape. Place on a lined baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. It can also be frozen at this time for a later date. Let come to room temperature (both if you freeze it or if it’s from the fridge) and let rise until it has gotten a little puffy (it won’t get super puffy, and it may take an hour or more, depending on how cold your kitchen is).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush tops and sides with reserved egg wash. Bake for 15-20 minutes until they are golden brown. Eat them immediately.

Danish dough recipe from America’s Test Kitchen

Steamed Persimmon Pudding (for Halloween)


“If you’ve been searching for a great persimmon pudding, search no more- this one is the best” – The Fanny Farmer Cookbook

  • 1 cup pureed persimmons (about 3, with skins removed)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 2 TBSP rum
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup raisins

Butter a 2-quart pudding mold thoroughly. Fill a stock pot with water, to reach halfway up the sides of the pudding mold and put a layer of Mason jar rings on the bottom. Let the water come to a simmer while assembling the pudding.

Combine the persimmon puree and baking soda in a small bowl and set aside. It will get quite stiff.

Cream the butter and sugar, add the eggs, lemon juice, and rum and beat well. Add flour, cinnamon and salt and stir to blend. Beat in the persimmon mixture until well-mixed. Stir in the nuts and raisins. Spoon batter into the mold, cover with lid, and steam for 2 hours in simmering water.

Remove from pot, let rest for 5 minutes, turn onto serving plate. Serve warm with practically unsweetened whipped cream. (Tentacles optional)