Category Archives: Desserts

Honeycomb Layer Cake

 

For Mother’s Day this year, Mom had a special request: A cake she recently tasted at a friend’s birthday party, which they special ordered from a bakery in the Bay Area. I’d never thought to put the combination together, but I make all the components regularly:

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Yellow cake, filled and topped with lightly sweetened whipped cream, and the key ingredient: Honeycomb candy.

I make honeycomb (also known as seafoam, angel food, sponge candy, and hundreds of other names), every year for part of my Dad’s Christmas present. It’s essentially a hard caramel that has a little bit of baking soda whisked in at the end, so that it foams up and hardens into a spongy, crunchy, almost-too-sweet candy.

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Honeycomb is simple, in the sense that it has only 4 ingredients and a few steps, but it’s easy to screw up. A little extra humidity or barometric pressure, a bit too much stirring, and you’ve just wasted a bunch of sugar. Recipes like this cake are a good way to use honeycomb that’s a little too dense, since you’re crushing it anyway. Good thing, since I was prepping the cake in the middle of the night and wasn’t about to make another batch. Sorry, Mom.

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I’m still trying to find the perfect recipe that doesn’t involve corn syrup, but unfortunately it seems to produce the most consistent results. I once made a perfect batch using honey instead, but all my other attempts burned — maybe I’ll revisit that again someday in another post.

I did a quick search for “honeycomb cake” and found a few similar recipes — some that used buttercream frosting, and one that included a hefty dose of ground up candy in the cake batter, too. I suspected those would be too complicated and way, WAY too rich based on my experience with the stuff. I think I was right.

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Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

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I should start this post by telling you that I’ve never been much of a vanilla ice cream person. At childhood birthday parties, I’d manage only a few awkward forkfuls before the rest ended up a nasty, artificially flavored puddle that ruined a perfectly good piece of cake.

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But a few years ago, I found a big vial of vanilla beans at Costco (home of the impulse buy) and I just couldn’t help myself, even though I hadn’t a clue how to use them. I tried this recipe, from my go-to cookbook, and as soon as the heady fragrance of vanilla beans hit me I knew I was a convert.

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