David Lebovitz’s Dulce de Leche Tart

I would like to thank my friend in Berlin for sending me the recipe for this delicious tart. I am sorry that I didn’t do such a good job with the photos, but it tasted really good! I pinky swear it!

The fact that you can now buy cheap, ready made Dulce de Leche from Rewe was the reason I decided to make this tart for my birthday. And I wanted to test my brand new mixer ūüėÄ ¬†Since I didn’t have a pie dish with a detachable bottom, I had to make peace with the fact that I wasn’t gonna lift perfect slices, despite oiling the pie dish very heavily.

If you don’t have pie weights, you could use dried beans, like chickpea. I used mung beans, which you could in turn make into guinataang munggo (remind me to share you the recipe one day).

The recipe was published in David’s book My Paris Kitchen. This is how I made this tart

For the Crust: 6 Tablespoons/ 85 g butter (preferably salted) at room temperature or softer, 3/4 cup powdered sugar, 1 large egg yolk, 1 cup flour, 1/3 cup cocoa powder, 1/4 tsp. flaky sea salt, and 1 Tablespoon water (optional)

Filling: 230 g chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, 2 large eggs, 1/2 tsp vanilla, 1 cup (240 g) dulce de leche, and flaky sea salt for sprinkling.

Make the crust before the filling. Using a stand or hand-held mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter with the powdered sugar at low speed, until smooth. Mix in the yolk, occasionally stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl.

In another bowl, whisk the flour and the cocoa powder together, and add to the butter mixture until the dough comes together. If it looks dry, add a tablespoon of water (which I did). Roll into a ball. Pull a plate- sized (about 15 inches by 15 inches) portion of saran wrap (cling film) on a flat surface, place the dough ball on it, flatten a bit with the heel of your hand and wrap the dough in the film.  Set aside for 30 minutes. You can also use a clean plastic bag, it is probably easier.

After 30 minutes, roll the dough relatively flat in the bag or unwrap the dough, place another sheet of cling film over it, and roll with a rolling pin. When the dough is wide enough to cover a 9 inch (23 cm) pie or tart ring with a removable bottom, remove the top sheet, place the dough in the tart ring by flipping it in using the plastic film for stability, and try to evenly cover the walls of the dish by pressing your fingers at the dough located at the bottom and sides of the dish and pushing the dough up the walls, until the rim. Sprinkle the sea salt over the dough and press it into the pastry. Cover the tart ring with the wrap you used to roll it in, and freeze for 30 minutes. Colder temperatures means that I could just open the balcony door and let it rest outside.

Pre-heat the oven to 200¬įC. Once the 30 minutes are up, line the dough with aluminum foil and cover the bottom with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 30 minutes, remove the foil and the weights, and bake for 5 more minutes, until the shell feels set. Take the shell out of the oven and reduce the heat to 150¬įC.

During the waiting/baking period you can get cracking on the filling. Melt the chocolate in a bain-Marie, remove the bowl from heat once melted, and set a strainer on top.

Whisk the eggs into a bowl. Heat the milk in a saucepan until just warm, and whisk the milk into the eggs. Not too warm, we don’t want the eggs to scramble! Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a spatula or a wire whisk, until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Pour the custard through the strainer into the chocolate, and add the vanilla, stirring until smooth.

Carefully spread the Dulce de Leche over the hot tart shell in an even layer. It helps to let the Dulce sit for 30 seconds before spreading, the warmth of the tart bottom will soften the cream enough, making it easier to spread. Set the tart sheet on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, then carefully pur the chocolate custard over the dulce de leche. Smooth the top, and sprinkle with more salt.

Bake the tart for 20 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave the tart with the door closed for 25 minutes more.

You can remove it from the oven and let cool before serving. I just let the tart in the oven overnight and served it to my guests the day after.

David recommends serving it with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, but the tart is so filling, I don’t think you will need more sweet! The crust tastes a lot like Oreo cookies, so it was really addictive.

Darth Vader Cake



I was asked to make a Darth Vader cake two weekends ago, and the mere thought of it make me laugh so hard that I thought, “why not?” The recepient is a four-year old boy, who is probably not super-critical of the cake’s imperfections. And hooo boy, they were many!

This is a cake of firsts. Not only is this my first Darth Vader cake, this was my first-ever cake iced entirely with fondant, and the first ever cake I have ever molded freestyle, without a template to follow.

And I so thank the Lord that¬†Xenos¬†has ready-made fondant! No more making my own and worrying about how to get the color! I bought two bricks, for 3 euros each. With fondant this cheap, it was perfect for experimentation. This cake was very instructional for me on how to work with fondant.¬†As you see, things didn’t patch up quite nicely. Lesson number 1: Do not break up fondant to flatten, as the seams will show. Maybe it is better to roll, then flatten?

Under that fondant is my standard Chocolate Buttermilk cake, although any kind of cake will do. I baked two cakes, one in a lined, buttered and greased ¬†round springform and another in a square pan. Make the cake the night before and freeze to dry out. In my case I just left it outside, since temperatures were hovering just above zero (40¬įF).

The next day, I liberated the cakes from the forms, cut the round one across in half and placed the dome-shaped top at the bottom of the glass plate. Spread some icing (I used Magnolia’s choco buttercream) to even the surface, then placed the other half over it, bottom-side up. I did the same thing to the square pan, but instead I cut the cake again in half, then in triangles. The proportions were just estimated to suit the size of the round cake, so I couldn’t give any exact measurement. All I can say is that I cut a right triangle, slathered it with cream, then put another triangle on top of it. Then slather the whole thing with frosting, locking in all the crumbs.

After that, I rolled the fondant on a marble surface dusted with starch, and draped it over the cake. I cut the excess in some places and it tucked in the cake, but there were places that came up short and I had to add a few more fondant strips to the sides.

The details were made using white and gray fondants, based on this¬†Darth Vader cake. Despite the imperfections, the birthday kid was happy, the parents were happy, and the children happily ate Darth Vader. So I guess I’m happy, too!


Tow Mater Cake

cakeSo my boy’s birthday just rolled by. Wow, I gave birth to him how many years ago? Time flies so fast…

This time of the year, I turn into a baking dervish (is that a term?) cooking and baking for my kid’s birthday party. This year was a little different. Since I have a full-time job, I was a little pressed for time to make a 3-D Mater Cake–my kid’s special request this year. So I made a compromise and adapted a cake from this recipe.

I am not a big fan of box cake mixes, so I made my go-to recipe for moist chocolate buttermilk cake. Like with all other cakes I’ve made the past birthdays, challenges cropped up when I least expected them. First of all, I am so grateful to have found ready-to-roll out fondant at the local¬†Xenos¬†shop, and not the liquid goop they sell at the supermarkets here. This means I did not have to make my own fondant this year.

Basically the hardest part was finding substitues for the American products suggested my the recipe. No way in hell I was gonna order a whole pack of Jolly Ranchers online when I only needed two of them for a cake. My goodness, I had no idea that finding chocolate chocolate donuts were gonna be a challenge. I finally found them at the local McCafe for a euro fifty a pop–quite steep but I hoarded all three left at the stand. This place seriously needs an Dunkin’ Donuts.

So basically the side mirrors and wheels were made from two donuts, the bars holding the mirrors in place were yellow fondant, the eyes and teeth were made of white fondant, and irises were a mix of white/green/yellow, and the busted headlight black fondant cut out using a cough medicine bottlecap. The other headlight is a Haribo Jogi-Bussi. The pupils are brown mini-Smarties

Now the recipe had a template for the eyelids and the mouth, but it was more difficult to get the fondant in that dark color. It was easier to mix more brown coloring into the chocolate buttercream icing, and just free-style scratched out the areas where they were supposed to be and carefully spread out the darker icing in that area.

cake1I guess my frustration at not getting to make the 3-D cake that I wanted drove me to make three mini-Mater cupcakes made of honey loops, M&Ms, and white fondant (God forbid I use Eclipse gum on a cake!). The one pictured came from my 4 inch springform pan and a normal cupcake, while the two others were made with normal.sized cupcakes and mini-cupcakes. I left out the frosting except at the places where the wheels and the headlights had to stick.

All in all, I was quite happy with the results and the best part was that the party was a success. I am looking forward to Disneyland next year when I don’t have to do any baking at all!

Sticky Toffee Pudding

There really is nothing like having dinner with great company and good food to lift somebody’s spirits. I was feeling really crappy last weekend, but I pulled myself together to spend time gossiping and cooking with friends. We had a wonderful fatty but low-carb dinner, without really thinking about the menu, and it was all topped off with a wonderful dessert!

My friend Caroline told me that sticky toffee pudding is pretty much as traditionally English as you can get. I only have terrible memories of my grand-uncle’s pudding made out of day-old bread, and toffee I only know as a sweet, and from my son’s favorite Thomas the Train book, Sticky Toffee Thomas. As Caroline emphasized, the horrible reputation of British cuisine is undeserved, and with cooks like Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver, and Gordon Ramsey, I definitely agree, if the pudding is anything to go by. It was a pleasant surprise, as the dates really complemented the caramel flavor of the toffee.

Here’s the recipe, the only thing that changed was that Caroline used whipping cream since she wasn’t able to get double cream from the supermarket. The uncanny thing was that the sauce tasted exactly like Latik sauce from Suman sa Lihiya, but it had a completely different set of ingredients! Latik sauce is made from coconut milk and muscovado sugar, while toffee sauce has butter, cream, and muscovado sugar. Well, it is basically creamy fat mixed with sugar, so I shouldn’t be surprised. I have to try this recipe out one day, it is really sinfully delicious! Thanks Caroline!

Obsttorte/Fruit Pie/ Crema de Fruita

Fruits, cake, and cream. It doesn’t matter where you are, this combination is always a hit. What I like about Germany is that if you want to cheat about “from scratch cooking,” you can and still get from scratch results.

This is my go-to potluck party cake if I am short on time. Get fruits from the grocery store, get a packet of vanilla pudding powder, get  glaze powder, milk, and prepared cake base.

Slice the fruits, prepare vanilla pudding according to packet instructions. Once cooled, ¬†spread it on the base like pizza. Place the fruits on it. Prepare the glaze according to packet instructions. A total of 35 minutes and you’re done!

It isn’t really efficient to make your own base because you need SIX eggs to make it, in comparison to the cost of buying it at the supermarket (‚ā¨1,79 at Rewe), but if I ever make it from scratch scratch, I’ll let you know.

Martha Stewart’s Lion Cake

The one cake that started it all

I started with the whole baking thing because of cakes. I was so inspired by my consistency in baking a good Schwarzw√§lder Kirschtorte that I decided to up the ante and offered to bake the birthday cake of one of my son’s friends.

When I asked the boy’s mom what was his favorite thing at the time, I thought I bit off more than what I could chew when she said “Lions.”

Alrighty then. I decided to roll up my sleeves and after some research, I decided to bake Martha Stewart’s Lion Cake.

It was this time when I bought my 4 1/2″ springform pan. Though many people think that a small springform pan is useless, I have no regrets! The trickiest part here is making the Caramel Buttercream icing. I mean, 9 egg whites for icing?! But the effort was so worth it. The icing tasted like Goldilocks icing, and it was addictive.

The boy was ecstatic after seeing his birthday cake. It made me so happy, it encouraged me to bake even more.

My next post will tell you what I did with the egg yolks…

Cake Fail

This was quite an easy cake to make, but I made several mistakes that by the time we got this to the recipient, it had started sagging on one side. It was so embarrassing.

It was laziness that basically undid this cake. I had store-bought Zuckerguss (Fondant) that needed using, so it went on this cake. Never again! It was a lemony-tasing mess, that runny fondant.

I was dead-tired the Friday before the party, so I said, I’ll bake the cake Saturday morning. I had no space in my freezer for the cake pan. This is the reason you need to freeze or wait a few days for your cake to dry out. It couldn’t carry the weight of the icing if it is still very spongy.

Another mistake I made was that I didn’t do a “crumb layer” under the fondant. That is the tricky thing about this stuff. It shows every single crumb or uneveness under it. I still had icing left over from the Thomas cake which I froze, and read could sucessfully re-constitute using milk. I read wrong! After defrosting it was clear that I had a clumpy, buttery gunk, that I couldn’t use. Because I was lazy with starting the cake, I had no time make icing to do a crumb layer.

Lesson learned! Never, ever rush a cake.

Mozzarella skewers

German parties are unlike Filipino parties in that when you only serve hors d’ ouvres, people won’t ask, “Where’s the food?”

The fact that I only decided to serve antipasti, cake, and drinks at my son’s party meant that I saved a lot of time and effort from cooking and cleaning up. This easy-to-make recipe comes from The Italian Kitchen Bible.

You would need:

Skewers or toothpicks, 3-5 inches long

Pullman Loaf bread, which is called Pan Americano or Tasty in the Philippines

Two 125g balls of  mozarella cheese

8-9 plum-sized tomatoes, or big cherry tomatoes.

Big Italian basil leaves

Salt and pepper. I left this out because it was for the kids, but please do put this in for adults.

Very Important! Soak the skewers or toothpicks in water so it won’t burn! Pre-heat oven at 220¬įC

Get about 12-15 slices of the bread. In batches of four slices, I cut off the edges of the bread and sliced the bread into four smaller squares.

After that I brushed one side of it with olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and bake in a pre-heated oven for 3-5 minutes, until edges turn pale brown.

In the meantime, slice the mozzarella cheese and tomatoes in slabs about 1/4 inch thick. Remove the squares from the oven and wait to cool, about a minute or two. Then with the not so brown side of the bread face up, stack and skewer the ingredients in this sequence:

Bread, cheese, tomato, leaf, bread, cheese, tomato, leaf, bread.

Sprinkle the stacks with salt and pepper. I made 19 stacks of these. The extra scraps of bread can be used to replace any overburned bread on top.

Drizzle the stacks with olive oil and re-place in oven for 10 minutes, or until the cheese starts to melt. Garnish the top with a basil leaf. Since I didn’t have enough basil leaves, I omitted the beasil leaf in between and just used the leaves I had as garnish.