tres leches cake!

NOBODY IS LISTENING TO YOU!

And I’m not saying that in a mean way.

When I was in elementary school, my teachers pegged me as “a shy kid.”  Thing is, I was never shy — actually I’ve always been a performer and a little crazypants.  In those elementary school days, I’d often be prancing around the supermarket in a crop top and cat ears proclaiming that I was Josie from Josie and the Pussycats, putting glitter glue on my eyelids (not smart if you ever plan on blinking), or singing Disney princess songs into my mom’s camcorder.  Definitely not a quivering daisy.

I guess this whole predicament started out when one day, I had my head in the clouds and didn’t find it necessary to say stuff.  At the beginning it was fine, I wasn’t lonely or surly.  I was just rolling around the sandbox by myself thinking about things.

But then it got awkward.

People love labeling people.  Oh! You’re the funny kid! Oh, you must be the precocious little genius kid!  Oh hey there, you must be the shy kid.  I learned that once you’re labeled the “shy kid,”  people have all sorts of expectations of you…

People would get this surprised look on their faces whenever I said things, and when people started giving me that look, I stopped saying things.  As you can imaging, this became a vicious cycle.  My teachers didn’t always help.  Teachers seem to like shy kids.  Shy kids don’t break eardrums or break bookcases.  Thus, my teachers would often make an example of me — telling the class to “stop shouting and be more like Erica.”  I would smile, but this was always super awkward.  First, because kids don’t like the kid who they’re told to be like, and second, there was this little girl inside of me who liked to wear purple leopard print and sing “Under the Sea” really loudly in a Jamaican accent who just wasn’t allowed to come out.  Imagine how awkward it would have been if one day I came out of the reading corner singing “Under the Sea” in my Jamaican accent?! I was pretty sure the ceiling would have fallen down. Once people had this expectation of me to be the “quiet” and “behaved” Erica, I stuck to it.

There were times when I thought that I lost that purple leopard print little girl.  I truly believed that I was shy…  and I hated it.  Especially as I got up in elementary school and wanted to be like Sharpay from High School Musical and I wanted boys to like me. In 5th grade, boys don’t like shy girls.  And I believed that I was a shy girl.  I wished I could be like those bubbly girls who crimped their hair and wore glittery nail polish.  Nonetheless, I kept on being the nice little shy girl at school, and then when I got home, I dressed up like a mime and rapped Snoop Dogg while I rode around the house on my Waveboard (did you ever have a Waveboard?).

One day, I was dozing off during assembly.  The assembly was the drama acting out the book Hungry Hungry Caterpillar (who came up with those assemblies?!).  When I came back to my senses, I noticed that the kid who was dressed up as a watermelon slice who just recited his line looked like he was about to puke.  No, he looked worse.  He looked like he was about to get publicly executed.  And you know what I noticed? That I couldn’t have told you what he said if I was offered a million bucks.  That kid was about to poop his pants over something that nobody was listening to at all.

That’s right, I was not paying attention at all, and neither was half of the audience.  It was this realization that helped me “shed my shy kid image.” I realized that every sentence isn’t a matter of life and death, because no one’s really listening anyways.  I realized that the ceiling wouldn’t fall down if I emerged from the reading nook and played dress up.  I realized that no one would care if I pronounced the “g” in “trough” when we read aloud in English class.  I realized that regretting not saying something is much worse than saying something awkward.

Now that I am in high school, I am glad that I had this realization.  Sure, the “shy kid” image is sticky like condensed milk and takes time to wash off, but there have been many opportunities since I witnessed that quivering watermelon that I have spoken up without regrets — and my life has been so much better/less awkward because of it.

Yay for super awkward transitions!  Condensed milk! It’s in Tres Leches cake!  Which is the recipe I’m sharing with you all today!  This cake is super squidgy and moist because you literally pour milk all over it.  I frosted mine with cream cheese frosting for my friend Veda’s birthday because she likes cream cheese frosting.

With love,
Erica

Ingredients
Cake:
2 sticks of butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk

Sauce:
1 can condensed milk (1 cup-ish)
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Frosting:
2 8oz. packages of cream cheese
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sweetened Shredded Coconut

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper and grease it well.  Beat butter and sugar together in a stand mixer until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, scraping the sides as you go.  Add the vanilla extract.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add half of the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and mix until just combined.  Add buttermilk and stir slowly.  Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Take out of the oven, and mix together the three milks.  Cool the cake for five minutes, and then poke holes all over it with a fork.  Pour the milk all over the cake.  Let cool completely in the fridge for at least an hour. 

Beat together the butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer.  Beat in the vanilla.  Slowly add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth.  Frost the cake. 

To make the toasted coconut, add the shredded coconut to a frying pan, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until lightly browned.  Sprinkle over cake.

Loosely Adapted from Pati’s Mexican Table

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

easy king cake

Ever since I was young,  I have been disturbed by the concept putting trinkets into cake.  

Yule logs with coins in them, Epiphany cakes with thimbles in them, Mardi Gras king cakes with babies in them (plastic babies).  They’re all a disaster waiting to happen. 
I’m expecting to bite into a soft, sweet, cream cheese laden cake, and then ouch! I just chipped my tooth on a plastic baby Jesus.  How do I know that the “lucky” coin hidden in my slice of yule log wasn’t on the floor of the subway last week… not feelin’ so lucky anymore. Or worse yet, what if someone choked on the thimble in the Epiphany cake? That would be awkward. so.many.issues

The lore behind the Mardi Gras king cake is that the person who gets the slice with the baby wins.  Winning means that they have to host the next King Cake party.  To some that would be a real treat (I would have a field day buying my weight in cream cheese and sanding sugar), others not so much. 
So if last year you were the one to get the slice with the baby in it, were lucky enough not to choke/chip any teeth on him, and you’re not too enthused about whipping up this years king cake, I have the recipe for you.  All this recipe takes is: 1) whacking pressure packed cinnamon rolls on the kitchen counter 2) whipping up some cinnamon-y cream cheese frosting (licking the spoon required) 3) shaking sanding sugar all over the whole thing and making it look all festive.
Easy enough right?

No proofing, zesting, waiting, or (god forbid) kneading.  Just pop, lock ‘n drop it…. not exactly, but you get the point: this recipe is easy. 


Naturally, since it’s made with Pillsbury, it doesn’t taste exactly like the traditional, yeasty sweet bread.  However, it’s absolutely delicious and addictive nonetheless (nobody will complain). It tastes a little bit like sopapilla cheesecake.  If you’ve never heard of sopapilla cheesecake, google it now and prepare to have your life changed.  
All of this being said, I won’t be putting a plastic baby in my king cake, but if you’re into that, by all means do it.  It’s fun and festive and kudos to you for not being a total party-pooper like me with my concerns about sanitary/dental issues.  Just remember to stick the baby in after the cake comes out of the oven (if you put him in before, you’ll end up with a gooey plasticky mess).  
Happy (almost) Mardi Gras to everyone!
And for all of you overachievers out there (or those of you that just like to play with dough), I have a real yeasted king cake recipe coming your way. 
With love, 
Erica

Ingredients

  • 2 cartons Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls, 8 Count (12.4 Ounce Cans) — save the containers of icing!
  • 1 8oz. block cream cheese 
  • ½ cups dark brown sugar 
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons purple sanding sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons yellow sanding sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons green sanding sugar
  • 1 dry bean or plastic baby jesus (if you’re into that) 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Take all of the cinnamon rolls out of their containers, and set the frosting containers to the side.  Dust a rolling pin with flour and roll each cinnamon roll into a flat disk (about 4 inches in diameter).  You should end up with 16 rounds.

Arrange 8 of these rounds on a piece of parchment paper, overlapping a bit in a wreath shape.  Press down where they overlap so they stick together.  

Beat together the cream cheese brown sugar and powdered sugar.  Add the cinnamon, and vanilla
extract. Beat well until combined. Drop this mixture by tablespoonful
on the cinnamon rounds that have been sealed into a circle, staying as
close to the center as possible.

Place the remaining 8 cinnamon rounds on top of the filling, overlapping
and sealing the tops and tucking under to seal the sides.

Bake for 17-20 minutes.

Let cake cool for a few minutes (now is when you stick the trinket into the cake). Frost with the Pillsbury Frosting that came with
the rolls. Sprinkle all over with purple, yellow, and green sanding sugar.

Enjoy!

Adapted from So Domesticated

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

yeasted king cake

Snow days are better than regular holidays for three reasons…


1) No expectations
of doing something super fun and fabulous. When people ask me “what did you do with your snow day?” “rolled around on the floor for a while,”  “watched three episodes of Jerseylicious” (does that show still exist?), and “played with dough all day” are all totally acceptable answers.  There’s no expectation that I went on some super fancy cruise ship, took a bunch of pictures wearing fancy/sparkly things, or changed the world through some community service trip I took.  Nope.  This is a day when I can wear fuzzy socks and eat a king sized bag of pita chips and not feel even a little bit guilty about it. 

2) No expectations of hanging out with people.  Not that I don’t like people.  But I feel like it’s socially unacceptable to lock yourself in the house and talk to your dog over a long weekend.  On a snow day, not so much.

3) No expectations of it coming.  What?  Ok, that didn’t make total grammatical sense, but what I’m trying to say is that snow days are unexpected, which make them that much more awesome. I wake up, remember all of the procrastinated assignments that I am obligated to do that day, and then oh wait! I don’t have to do any of them because there’s white stuff falling from the sky! It’s like confetti celebrating the procrastinators of the world.

So yay for the unexpected!  Since on snow days I have oodles of time to waste time/avoid humans/avoid responsibilities, they’re the perfect opportunity to play with yeast, and make a somewhat involved recipe that has a rising time (a luxury that someone who has to go to school rarely has)! I shared my super lazy way of making king cake with you all a few days ago, but for those of you who are itching to make the real-deal (maybe you have a snow day too), here it is!

As cliche/cheesy as this sounds, nothing compares to the real thing, there’s a certain special layer of flavor (love?), that just can’t be achieved with something that comes out of a can.

With love,
Erica

Ingredients:

Cake

  • 3/4
    cups warm milk
  • 2 1/4
    teaspoons or one packet of dry yeast
  • 1/4
    cup plus 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1
    stick of butter, melted and cooled
  • 2
    egg yolks
  • 1
    teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3
    cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1/4
    teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • zest of one orange 
  • 1
    teaspoon kosher salt
Filling:

  • 1 block Cream Cheese (8 Ounce Block)
  • ½ cups Dark Brown Sugar (packed)
  • ½ cup Powdered Sugar
  • ½ teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • yellow, green, and purple sanding sugar

Warm the milk in the microwave or a saucepan until it is warm to the touch.  Mix the milk, yeast and 1 Tbs. of the sugar in a medium bowl and proof  While it is proofing, whisk together the melted butter, egg yolks, and vanilla in a medium bowl.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, stir together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, flour, nutmeg, orange zest, and salt.

Add the butter mixture and the yeast mixture to the flour mixture in the stand mixer.  Knead for 5 minutes with the dough hook until smooth.  Transfer to a greased bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let rise for two hours.

After the dough has finished rising, prepare the filling.  Beat together the cream cheese, brown sugar, powdered sugar, cinnamon and vanilla until smooth.  Transfer the dough to a large sheet of parchment paper and roll it out into a 9×13 inch rectangle.  Spread the cream cheese filling evenly onto the rectangle, leaving an inch along one of the long sides so it doesn’t overflow.  Starting on the long end, roll up the dough jelly-roll style. 

Grease an empty metal can and place it in the center of a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Gently wrap the dough around the can (seam side down), and pinch the ends together to form a ring.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Let the cake rise as the oven preheats (about half an hour).   Bake for 30-40 minutes until it is golden brown.  Remove the can and let cool.

Make the glaze by whisking together the powdered sugar and milk.  Add a little more milk if the glaze is too thick.  Pour on the the glaze and then decorate with sanding sugar.

Adapted from Food 52

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

most popular recipes of 2013!

2013 is coming to a close — and although I am knee-deep in studying for exams, fighting off my cinnamon bun cravings, and battling a nasty cold, I can’t help but feel extremely grateful for all of you who visit my little corner of the internet.  

Cannella Vita wouldn’t exist without you all.  If it wasn’t for you, who would I rant to about the agony of baking a wonky batch of browniesinstagram inspired FOMO (fear of missing out), and the time I lacerated my thumb making lemon blueberry cake.  Yeah, without you, I have no one to over-share with, so thank you for being there. 

Without further ado, here are your five favorite recipes from 2013.

5)  Minion Cupcakes — I’m so glad this made the listI just got the Despicable Me 2 DVD for Christmas and that movie totally changed my life (I personally identify with Agnes and her love of unicorns and bangs). 

4) Banana Nutella Eggrolls — A banana smeared with Nutella is a very good thing.  A good thing is always made better when it is wrapped in dough and deep-fried.  Case and point.

3)  Really Good Marble Cake — this marble cake is really good.

2)  Sex in a Pan — This recipe won #1 recipe of the year on Best Dessert Recipes.com.   I guess with a name like that it’s hard not to get noticed ;). 

1)  Julia’s Banana Bread — I made this recipe as an afterthought while studying for a math quiz.  It was the most popular recipe of the year by a long shot.  I guess the moral of the story is “when you have to study for a math quiz, bake banana bread.”  I can live with that ;).

hehehe I’m the winner!

What was your favorite Cannella Vita recipe of the year?

With love,
Erica

© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.