Yellow Maple Cake with Milk Chocolate Buttercream

I don't know exactly why, but lately I've been craving layer cakes.  In the past, I don't think I was ever crazy about cake.  But, oh boy, lately it's all I've wanted to make and eat.  I have a tendency to make my desserts chocolate on chocolate.  So consider this recipe me branching out.  

Normally, my only quarrel with yellow cake is that it is simply sugary sweet without much depth of flavor.  In this recipe, the addition of maple syrup to the batter adds some caramel notes and complexity.  The cake is very moist, but if you fancy a little extra flavor, brush on a little brown sugar syrup.  

Chocolate buttercream is usually made with cocoa powder, so for a change, this recipe is made with melted milk chocolate.  For the best consistency and flavor choose Valrhona.  In this case, I used Jivara 40%.

Yellow Maple Cake

Yield: two 6" round cakes


-250g all purpose flour
-1 tsp baking powder
-3/4 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp sea salt
-150g unsalted butter, soft
-215g granulated sugar
-65g maple syrup
-2 eggs, room temperature
-1/4 cup sour cream
-3/4 cup whole milk

-two 6" round cake pans, buttered, floured with a parchment round lining the bottom
-oven preheated to 350F

1. In a bowl, measure out the dry ingredients and thoroughly whisk them together.

2. In a separate large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.

3. Add the eggs one at a time and mix thoroughly.  If the eggs are not at room temperature, you can submerge them in warm water for several minutes.  Warm eggs will make your batter smoother and less likely to curdle.

4. Add the maple syrup and mix.

5. With the mixer on low speed, add the milk and sour cream.

6. Add the flour in two additions, stirring with a rubber spatula until smooth.

7. Evenly divide the batter into two 6" round cake pans.  If you only have one pan, go ahead and bake one cake, leaving the remaining batter in a room-temperature environment and bake the second cake after cleaning, greasing, flouring, and adding a parchment round to the pan.  It won't hurt the batter to sit out for 30 minutes or so before being baked.

8. Bake the cakes for 25-30 minutes in a 350F oven until the center is set and doesn't giggle when tapped, or a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs.

9.  Run a knife around the edges of the cakes and invert onto a wire rack.  Let cool bottom side down.

Milk Chocolate Buttercream


-275g milk chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature
-300g butter, soft
-pinch of salt
-300g confectioner's sugar

1. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer aerate the butter.

2. To the butter, add the sugar and mix.

3. Add the melted chocolate and mix until fully incorporated.  Scrape down the bowl as needed.

Brown Sugar Syrup

-150g  water
-150g brown sugar
-pinch of salt

1. Place all ingredients into a saucepan and boil until dissolved.  Let cool.  

Assemble the Cake

I like to slice my cakes into two or three layers to create more height, maximum syrup absorption, and an even cake-to-buttercream ratio.  If you are not confident doing this, just use the two thicker cakes.  They will taste good!  But, I encourage you to try your hand at slicing the cakes.  It just takes a little practice and steadiness.  Use a serrated bread knife to do the slicing.  I will make a video on how to do this in the future.

Once your layers are ready, apply the syrup to the first.  Use a pastry brush and allow the cake to soak the syrup out of it.  Think of your brush more like a syrup depositor.  Don't use it like a paint brush.  More syrup is the goal.

Next, apply your buttercream to layer one.  I used about 2 heaping tablespoons for each layer.

Smooth the buttercream into an even layer and lightly coat the sides of the cake.  Refrigerate if the cake is too fragile/wobbly.  

When the cake is built, decorate it however you like.  For this cake, I coated the outside of the cake in a thin layer of buttercream and gently pressed sprinkles against the outside.  The top is decorated with tiny rosettes applied with a small star tip.

I served the cake with a homemade dark chocolate syrup.  I couldn't resist adding a little darker chocolate touch. Recipe to come!

Make a cake, raise a glass of milk, and enjoy a moment with the people you love.


End of Summer Salad (feat. Stanley Plums)

From the title of this post, you probably think this post is about Stanley Plums, a rapper who was heavily influenced by the board game Clue.  I regret to inform you that you are mistaken.

This is a post with a simple salad to encourage you to eat a fruit or vegetable every now and then, and to buy local, in season produce.

For those of you fortunate enough to have a weekly farmer's market near your home, or a place like The Local Market, I encourage you to take advantage of the local, in season produce offered.  Sometimes, it's hard to convince yourself to buy a product with which you are not familiar, or to incorporate said products into your established recipe file.  But, I would encourage you to eat what is in season near you.  I recently discovered Stanley plums.  This oblong member of the prunus family has a beautiful purple exterior and neon interior.  They are slightly tart and go really well with a simple salad dressed with something slightly sweet.

All you have to do is slice a few up and throw them on your regular weeknight salad.  If you need more guidance, just use the recipe below.


-romaine lettuce
-white or red onion
-orange tomatoes

for the dressing

-1 part apple cider vinegar
-2 parts olive oil
-touch of mustard
-pinch salt
-pinch black pepper
-1 part maple syrup

Chop up enough for a family, or just for one. Mix a little dressing -which will certainly keep in a jar on your counter for a few days- and enjoy something fresh!

What seasonal fruits and veggies do you love?


Chocolate Sour Cream Cake

Do you ever open your refrigerator and find sour cream left over from your last taco dinner?  Do you then think to yourself, "what am I going to do with this leftover sour cream?  I can't just eat it by the spoonful."  If so, you are the perfect candidate to try out a chocolate sour cream cake.

The above scenario is pretty much exactly what happened to me last week.  If you're not so keen on sour cream, but have some plain yogurt, you could easily substitute that in equal parts.

Sorry for making a non-fruit related dessert in the summer...but, what can I say?  I'm a chocoholic.

Before I hand over the recipe, here are a few tips before we get baking.  

-Measure out all of your ingredients and have them handy
-Prepare anything you can in advance.  This means pre-heating the oven, cutting out parchment circles, softening butter, and buttering your cake pans.
-Use a scale for best results

Chocolate Sour Cream Cake adapted from Completely Delicious
2 or 4 layer 6" round cake
350 F oven


-5/8 c. (140ml) warm/hot coffee
-1/2 c. (55g) cocoa powder + more for dusting cake pans
-1.25 c. (165g) all-purpose flour
-1/2 tsp. sea salt
-1.25 tsp. baking soda
-1 c. sugar (200g)
-2 large eggs
-3/4 c. sour cream (170g)
-1/2 c. (113g) butter, melted


1. Brush two 6" cake pans with butter, coat with cocoa powder (you can use flour, but cocoa powder leaves no white residue on the cake).  Cut a piece of parchment to line the bottom of the pans.  Place on top of the coated surface.  

2. Place flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and whisk together.  

3. In a separate large bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the eggs and sugar until slightly fluffy.  

4. Mix the cream and butter into the egg mixture until fully combined.  

5.  Using a spoon or rubber spatula, stir in the dry mixture until almost combined.  Add hot coffee and stir until fully combined.  

6.  Pour half of the batter into each pan and tap firmly one time to release air bubbles.

7. Bake for 20-25 minutes until no longer wet in the center and a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs.

8. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert onto a wire rack.  

American Style Chocolate Buttercream


-2 sticks (227g) softened butter, unsalted
-227g confectioner's sugar
-20g cocoa powder (Whatever kind you have.  You'll notice my cake is two-toned because I used a fancy and non-fancy powder)
-pinch of salt
-milk, to loosen, as desired


1. With an electric mixer, beat the butter until fluffy.  Add the sugar, salt, and cocoa and carefully beat until fully incorporated.

2. If you want to loosen the icing for easier application, add 1 T of milk at a time until you've reached desired consistency.

To Assemble

Once your cakes have cooled, use a serrated/bread knife to slice each cake lengthwise into 2 layers.  This will leave you with four layers.  If this gives you too much anxiety, just do 2 thick layers.  In the future, I will try to make a video on how to do this so everyone can be a slicing pro with no fear!

Assemble the layers, adding frosting in between each.  Refrigerate in between stages to help set the buttercream.  Keeping everything cool with help everything go smoothly.  Apply a crumb coat.  Decorate as desired.  I used a star tip and a knife to create the texture on the sides of this cake and the tip of a butter knife to create the texture on top.

If you want a similar effect to mine, use the star tip instead of the round one, but follow the technique in this video.


L’éclair de Génie: A Treat Worth Trying

As avid Instagrammers and Parisian food aficionados may have noted, L’éclair de Génie is the reigning king of the éclair.  This cleverly named business - a play on words literally meaning "a flash of genius" - with Chef Christophe Adam at the helm, provides customers all over the world with beautiful éclairs, ice cream, confections and more.   

With shops all over Paris, its place of birth, it is hard to avoid the white and yellow facades and inviting pastry counters of L’éclair de Génie.  Even in my neighborhood in a suburb west of Paris, an éclair delivery truck is often parked around town.  The vans are adorned with photographs of immaculate éclairs of every color.   

The shops I passed most often were those in Le Marais and on Rue Montorgueil.  Usually, I would just pass by.  Sometimes, I would venture inside to take a peek.  Once or twice, I indulged in one of the scrumptious morsels. 

Over the summer, my sister visited from the US and we stopped into the storefront in Le Marais to see what they had to offer.  At the time, the shop was featuring a box of 4 mini eclairs for 10€.  Naturally, we took a box without hesitation and were delighted to try the lemon-coconut, salted butter caramel, raspberry, and strawberry varieties.  The four wonders were nestled into a beautifully designed box.  Careful attention had clearly been paid to each one of the 3-bite pastries and the decorations were perfect reflections of their flavors. 

The Raspberry éclair was glazed in pink and adorned with shimmery covered pop rocks.  The filling was tinted pink and had a bright fruity taste.

The Lemon Coconut was filled with a rich cream and topped with a tiny coconut marshmallow and thin strip of coconut. 

The Strawberry variety was set off by a smidgen of gold leaf and a tiny wild strawberry.  Don't forget the fresh berry filling which had a pleasant level of acidity.

And the classic Salted Butter Caramel was shining in gold and caramel glaze and studded with crunchy chocolate morsels.  The filling was perfectly thick and well-emulsified.  

If you head in for a treat, don’t skip the classic chocolate flavor, and make sure you try something seasonal on the menu.  Chef Christophe Adam has perfected his product and made it worthy of all éclair accolades.  Stay delicious L’éclair de Génie!

Find the most convenient location for you here.