Baking for Fun: Blood Orange Upside-Down Cake, Cookies & Cream Birthday Cake! + those Salty Chocolate Chip Cookies you’ve heard so much about!

Doing something a little different today… just wanted to share some other desserts I’ve made recently that weren’t for wedding testing purposes. One is a cool take on a retro favorite, another is a more classic birthday cake with a dessert-caption twist (cookies IN a cake!!) and the last one you’ve almost definitely already read about and is COMPLETELY worth trying!

Blood Orange Upside-Down Cake from Bon Appetit 

Last week was my mom’s birthday, which happens to coincide with blood orange season which also happens to be one of her favorite fruits. Blood oranges taste similar to regular oranges, but are a little more bitter than regular oranges, while also slightly less acidic. When you bite into one, you’re still definitely eating a citrus fruit, but there’s just something about blood oranges. Maybe it’s the fact that they are only in season in the United States from December-April (give or take), so they become more desirable just knowing that we can’t always have them. Whatever it is, they’re a really refreshing take on the every day orange.

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Overall Pros & Cons: To me, this cake tastes a little more like a piece of a dessert than a dessert in and of itself. It’s simple, but that’s part of it’s beauty. Because it is one layer of cake and doesn’t include frosting, I think it pairs well with something creamy like a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or would work well as a “breakfast” cake (similar to a muffin or coffee cake because let’s be real those are just breakfast cakes…) because of its simplicity and close texture that is reminiscent of a moist scone. It’s super easy to make, doesn’t require a mixer (it uses melted butter so you can just stir it all in which means less clean up, yay!) and is effortlessly beautiful. I think there is something so simplistically rustic and beautiful about using the oranges themselves as the decoration.

Tips, Tricks and Suggestions

  • Like the website says, turn the cake out of the tins as soon as you can. I took mine out of the oven, let them set for 5 minutes so the cake could set just a little so it wouldn’t split, and then turned them out. One of the 3 layers I made broke, but it was the only one I let rest for more than 5 minutes. I didn’t let it rest more than 10 minutes if that gives you any idea as to how quickly you need to get these cakes out of their pans.
  • I would add a little more blood orange juice. I didn’t get much of a blood orange taste IN the cake, though, since you have pieces of blood orange in almost every bite, you still get that blood orange taste.
  • I used blood oranges that were completely red AND blood oranges that were more orange with a little bit of red trickling in, which gave the top of the cake a really pretty and multidimensional look
  • Use a juicer for your blood orange juice – blood oranges collapse in your hands a lot more easily than lemons or regular oranges do, which makes it a lot harder to get all the juice out. It’s not just a matter of “ringing out the towel” the way it is with lemons or oranges. I would definitely recommend using some sort of juicing tool if you have one.

 

Cookies & Cream Cake with Fudge Frosting 

For my friend Sophie’s birthday in December (see, I might have taken a break from wedding cake baking, but I promise I was still baking up a storm) I made her an Oreo themed cake because Oreo’s are her favorite cookies. I used a recipe from the Preppy Kitchen and made a few adjustments of my own to it.

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Overall Pros and Cons: Admittedly, I think the cake was mostly just really cool because it is COOKIES INSIDE OF CAKE. Texturally, it makes for a really interesting and nostalgic experience. The recipe itself is really top notch and lends itself to incredibly easy to work with cakes. These cakes were simple to carve and stayed together well which made them a dream to decorate.

Tips, Tricks & Suggestions: 

  • Make sure you use different sizes of cookie crumbs in the batter and very, very fine cookie crumbs in the icing.
  • I omitted the ganache in between the layers because of how thick the top coat was and it still tasted great! I’m sure it tastes good with the layers too, but if you’re worried about the richness of the ganache taking over the flavor of the cake, it’s still  great without them.
  • It’s not actually possible to get a completely smooth side with this frosting because of the pieces of cookie crumbs. This is actually a really good thing, in my opinion. If you’re just starting to decorate cakes, it makes it a lot more forgiving that there is built in texture into your decoration and you don’t have to pressure yourself to have absolutely error-free, perfectly smooth sides.

 

Salted Butter and Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies

If you haven’t already read about these or heard about these all over the internet, you have to try them. It’s a twist on your average chocolate chip cookie, except its a crumbly shortbread style cookie that uses salted butter for that salty-sweet flavor combo and is covered in crunchy sugar on the outside.

Overall Pros and Cons: These are so good. You have to make them. They’re pretty simple to make, but take some patience since you have to let the cookie logs chill. You can use the leftover daemerarra sugar from the Blood Orange cake to coat the outsides of these cookies as well! The flavor is really complex and the texture works perfectly. Everything about these cookies has been thought through from the decision to use salted butter, to the decision sprinkle salt on the top, to the decision to use chocolate chunks instead of chips.

Tips, Tricks & Suggestions: 

  • Throw the logs in the freezer for about an hour to speed things up
  • If your cookies fall apart while you cut them, just kind of smush them back together on the baking sheet and it should be fine
  • Don’t be shy when sprinkling the salt on top of the cookies before they go into the oven
  • Cut your own chocolate chunks from chocolate bars and cut them into varying sizes for textural complexity
  • Use a really sharp knife to cut the cookie logs – I had the best luck with a serrated knife

 

 

2 thoughts on “Baking for Fun: Blood Orange Upside-Down Cake, Cookies & Cream Birthday Cake! + those Salty Chocolate Chip Cookies you’ve heard so much about!

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