Tag Archives: strawberry

Strawberry Genoise

1 Aug

I don’t know about where you are, but here in California it’s strawberry season with a vengeance!  Strawberries that are normally $4 a box are now just 88 cents a box and the smell of those ripe berries hit you in the face as soon as those sliding grocery store doors open.  That said, I got my strawberries for the week on the way back from the Gilroy Garlic Festival this weekend.  There are eleventy million farm stands along the road from LA up north–fresh corn, 6 ears for $1 and a half a flat of strawberries (SIX of those little green plastic fruit baskets) for only $5!!  Besides, it’s such a fun (and healthy! and economical!) gesture to buy directly from the actual farm that grew and cared for the food you’re eating.

With the over-abundance of strawberries, I knew I’d have to make something special and out of the ordinary this year (although if I said I could ever get tired of strawberry shortcake, I’d be lying).  Enter: Strawberry Genoise, a cake technique I had yet to try.  There is no leavening in the cake, so any height you get out of it is strictly from how much air you whip into the eggs.  I admit, my cake wasn’t as tall as I had hoped, but it made up for it in being a light, airy sponge cake that wasn’t too sweet–it certainly lets the strawberries shine!

Strawberry Genoise with Whipped Cream
adapted from Williams Sonoma

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup cake flour, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar/confectioners sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups strawberries, sliced into chunks
  • halved strawberries for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon kirsch*

*note: Kirsch is unfiltered cherry brandy that is very expensive to purchase.  I chose to forgo it.  However, David Lebovitz, pastry chef extraordinaire, has very strong opinions on kirsch, naming it the most important ingredient in his dessert repertoire after the obligatory flour, eggs, butter and sugar.  Read more about his thoughts on kirsch here.  I’ll leave it up to you whether or not to include it.

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line the bottom a 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper.  I did this by placing the pan on a square of parchment paper, tracing around it, and cutting the circle out.  Also fill a large pot with an inch or two of water and set simmering.
  2. In a large heatproof bowl, combine the first 1/2 cup of sugar and the eggs.  Set the bowl over the pot of simmering water and whisk the mixture gently until it reads 140 degrees on your instant read thermometer, which should only take 5 minutes or so (this apparently helps the eggs to whip up better).
  3. Once it reaches 140 degrees, take the bowl off the heat and beat the mixture on high until it is nearly tripled in volume, which took me almost 10 minutes with my hand mixer.
  4. Sift 1/2 the flour over the mixture and gently fold it in.  Repeat with the other 1/2 of the flour, gently folding it in.
  5. Gently mix a dollop of the whipped mixture into the bowl of melted butter, then pour that into the large bowl of whipped good stuff and fold it gently in as well.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake until the top of the cake is  browned.  The original instructions say 20 minutes but I took mine out closer to 15 minutes.  Keep an eye on it.
  7. Put the last 1/4 cup of sugar and the 1/4 cup of water into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat.  Stir constantly until the sugar is fully dissolved, remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.  Mix in the kirsch after its cooled, if you choose to use it.  (Without the kirsch, this is called “simple syrup”, great for mixed drinks so you don’t have sugar granules pooled at the bottom of your drink.)
  8. Add the heavy cream and confectioners sugar to a large bowl, whip to soft peaks.  Remember that this will serve as the frosting, so if its too runny, it will run right off the cake.
  9. Slice the strawberries–I went for chunks to give the filling some good body, but you can cut the strawberries into slices so that they lay flat between the slices.  Mix about 1/4 -1/3 of the whipped cream into the bowl of strawberries.
  10. Once the cake comes out of the oven, let it cool on a wire rack, run a knife around the edge to loosen it from the pan, then flip it out and slice it in half so that you have two flat cake rounds.
  11. Take the top layer and invert it on the cake plate so the crumby cut side is facing up.  Brush the cut surface with 1/2 of the sugar (and kirsch) syrup.  Add the strawberry-whipped cream mixture on top and spread it around evenly on the cake.
  12. Add the remaining layer of cake on top, making sure the cut face is, again, facing upward.  Brush the remaining 1/2 of the sugar syrup over the surface.  “Frost” the cake with the whipped cream, spreading it evenly over the top and sides of the cake.
  13. Decorate as you please with strawberry slices, halves, however you choose to garnish!

Strawberry Marshmallows

23 Jun


Summer is officially here–the calendar says so, even though June means the opposite of beach weather here where I live.  Summer to me means fresh fruit and it means campfires and this recipe combines both with spectacular results!  As you know from my caramel recipe from last week, I am certainly new on the candy making scene, but it really isn’t as scary as I initially thought.  That said, this recipe for marshmallows is just as easy, but certainly a step up if only for the number of steps involved and TOTALLY, without a doubt, worth the effort.  (I might point out that, while kids love candy, candy making isn’t the best idea to do WITH kids–serious boiling liquid and lots of down time doing nothing but staring at sugar waiting to change colors probably aren’t a good match.  Get the kids involved when it’s time to a) cut the marshmallows out with cookie cutters if you choose or b) when it’s time to eat!)

These marshmallows were part 2 of the 3 part thank you gift I gave to my aunt and uncle and I think these were the star of the show!  The boyfriend was heard to say, “these aren’t marshmallows…these are…fluffier…creamier…better…” and then he sort of trailed off while he continued to stare at the one he was eating.  I was impressed that such a little amount of strawberry puree would make such strongly flavored and scented marshmallows–you can smell these from across the room and they are a beautiful vibrant pink until you dust them with the powdered sugar!

I, for one, cannot WAIT to try toasting these over a campfire for s’mores.  Strawberry seems like a great flavor to add to the chocolate and graham cracker flavor profile and these strawberry marshmallows really turn the dial up from “kids treat” to “adult treat”.

Strawberry Marshmallows
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
makes a 9 x 13 pan, number of marshmallows depends on how small you cut them

  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons Knox unflavored gelatin (in grocery store next to the Jell-O)
  • 1/2 cup cold water, divided
  • 1/2 cup cold strawberry puree
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  1. Oil bottom and sides of a 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking pan or dish and dust bottom and sides with confectioners’ sugar.
  2. In a large bowl (I would go with a metal bowl, since the boiling sugar mixture will go into this later and pouring something that hot into plastic always makes me nervous), mix the 1/2 cup strawberry puree with just a little splash of the 1/2 cup of cold water, sprinkle gelatin over mixture and let stand to soften.
  3. In a 3-quart heavy saucepan heat granulated sugar, corn syrup, what’s left of the 1/2 cup of cold water and salt over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to medium to bring mixture to a boil.  As with the caramel, don’t stir the mixture, just gently swirl the pan occasionally until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240°F, about 12 minutes (again, as with the caramel, I fashioned a tin foil sling to hold the candy thermometer at the right floating height in the mixture).  Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved and all lumps are gone, just a few minutes.
  4. With an electric mixer, beat the sugar-gelatin mixture on high speed until about tripled in volume.  It will take about 10 minutes and you’re aiming for puffy and thick.  It was quite the experience for me with my little hand mixer–by the time it was almost ready, I couldn’t touch the beaters to the bottom of the bowl anymore because mixture was so much higher in volume now and the sticky marshmallow would crawl up beater arms almost to the motor–which I have to admit is a little scary, because you start to wonder if you’re going to ruin your mixer by getting marshmallow goo in the motor and how are you going to finish your recipe without an electric mixer, much less afford a new one!?
  5. Once your fluff is puffy enough, set the bowl aside and rinse off your beaters with very hot water to make the sugar melt instead of gunking up your sponge.  In a separate medium bowl, beat egg whites until they just hold stiff peaks.  Add the egg whites into the bowl of marshmallow fluff and on low-medium speed, beat the whites and vanilla into sugar mixture until just combined.
  6. Pour mixture into baking pan and, based on every single other food blogger’s suggestion, do not try to get every drop of fluff out of the bowl.  Take a spatula and gently work the mass of fluff out of the bowl and down into the pan; leave the scraps or else you will end up a very sticky mess.  Gently shake the pan to make sure it’s evenly distributed, but resist the urge to smooth out the top of the marshmallow with your spatula.  That will also cause a mess and the swirls, in the end, are quite charming.
  7. Sift 1/4 cup confectioners sugar evenly over top. Chill marshmallow in the fridge, uncovered, until firm, at least three hours, and up to one day.
  8. Run a thin knife around edges of pan and invert pan onto a large cutting board.  Lift up a corner of the pan and, using your fingers, pry a corner of the marshmallow out and slowly work the rest of the soft slab out onto the cutting board.  With a lightly oiled pizza cutter (or large knife), cut the marshmallow into cubes.  You can also use cookie cutters for fun shapes–the sky’s the limit!  Sift remaining confectioners’ sugar back into your now-empty baking pan, and roll the marshmallows through it in a couple of batches, making sure that all sides of the marshmallow are coated.  If the sugar gets packed down, use a spoon to fluff it again.  I let my marshmallows sit out overnight and they were slightly sticky again in the morning so I re-coated them with the sugar before packing them away.
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