Australia Day Pavlova

When your child loves Australia as much as mine does, you celebrate Australia Day by making a Pavlova.

INGREDIENTS

Palova Base
6 large egg whites
350g caster sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla

Topping
600ml of heavy cream
Fresh Berries
Lemon Curd
Raspberry Jam

DIRECTIONS

Make the raspberry jam and lemon curd ahead of time so it call cool.  Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Add the egg whites to the clean bowl and using an electric mixer whisk on medium speed. When the bubbles have increased in amount but become smaller in size, slowly start adding the sugar a tablespoon at a time. Continue whisking at medium speed until the meringue is stiff and glossy. Rub the meringue between your fingers to make sure there are no grains of sugar.  This will make your meringue weep.

Add the corn starch, lemon juice and vanilla and whisk for a couple minutes to combine evenly. Scrape the meringue onto the parchment paper, pilling high and make any shape you want.

Bake at 300 for 10 minutes before reducing the temperature to 225 degrees F. Bake for a total of 90 minutes. Turn the oven off and allow the pavlova to cool fully in the oven. Remove from oven and when you are ready, whip cream and top with lemon curd and berries. Serve immediately.

 

 

 

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Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

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One of the most decadent desserts I’ve had in a long time. I worked with this recipe from Baker By Nature.

INGREDIENTS

Crust
2 packages of chocolate graham crackers, crushed
16 tablespoons butter, melted

Cheesecake Filling
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
24 ounces full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 large eggs plus 2 yolks, at room temperature
1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Chocolate Ganache
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream

Cookie Crust
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil, allowing two of the sides to overlap (you want an overhang of at least 2-inches on two sides) and spray lightly with nonstick baking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine the crushed cookie crumbs and melted butter, mix well to combine.

Press the mixture into the bottom – and slightly up the sides – of the prepared pan.

Bake the crust in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and set aside on a cooling rack until needed.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees (F).

For the Chocolate Cheesecake Filling:
Fill a medium pot one-third full with water and bring it to a low simmer over medium heat. Place a heatproof bowl that will fit on top of the pan snugly, but will not touch the simmering water, on top of the pan. Reduce the heat to low and add the chopped chocolate into the bowl over the pot. Heat until the chocolate is completely melted, stirring occasionally with a silicon spatula. Remove the pot from the heat, leaving the bowl of chocolate over the hot water. Set aside until needed.

In the bowl of a food processor (or high-powered blender), pulse the cream cheese until completely smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, about 2 minutes. Add in both sugars and cocoa powder and beat smooth. Add in the eggs, egg yolks, and heavy cream and mix until just combined, about 20 seconds. Fold in the chocolate. Finally add in the vanilla and pulse for another 20 seconds.

Remove the bowl from the food processor and, using a rubber spatula, stir the filling several times to ensure it’s evenly blended.

Scrape the filling over the partially baked crust in the prepared pan.

Bake the cheesecake for 30 minutes, or until the center of the cake is set but still slightly jiggly. The cake will set completely as it cools.

Remove the cake from the oven and  place the pan on a wire rack. Carefully loosen the foil, then immediately run the tip of a knife around the sides of the pan, to prevent the top from cracking. Cool completely (in the pan), then transfer cheesecake to the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours before removing from the pan and slicing.

For the Chocolate Ganache:
Add chopped chocolate to a medium bowl; set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium-heat, bring the cream to a rolling simmer. Pour the cream on top of the chocolate pieces and set aside for 1 minute. With a whisk, begin to incorporate the melted chocolate into the cream, whisking until smooth and glossy.

Set aside, at room temperature, until needed.

Pour ganache over cooled cheesecake. Set aside until ganache is set, about 1 hour.

To serve, slice the cheesecake with a thin-bladed sharp knife, wiping the knife clean between each cut.

Store, loosely covered, in the refrigerator, for up to 5 days.

 

Chocolate Orange Brownie Cookies

An incredibly decadent way to start the week.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup plus 2 and 1/2 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped + 7 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/3 cup candied oranges, chopped

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 325 degrees (F). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper, lightly spray them with non-stick spray, and set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a large, microwave safe bowl, combine the 6 ounces of semi-sweet chopped chocolate and butter. Heat them in the microwave for 15 second increments, mixing in between each, until butter and chocolate are completely melted and can easily be whisked smooth. Whisk in the vanilla, then whisk in both sugars and orange zest. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in milk.

Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, and stir to combine. Do not to over mix.

Fold in the 7 ounces of chocolate and candied orange zest stirring until everything is just combined.

Scoop 1/4 cupfuls of the batter onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake one tray at a time, reducing the oven temperature to 300 degrees after you’ve put them in the oven. Bake for 16 to 19 minutes, or until the edges are set and the tops are dark and shiny. Press a few extra chocolate chunks on top of the warm cookies, if desired. Allow cookies to completely cool on the baking sheet before serving.

I worked with this recipe from Baker By Nature.

Rosca de Reyes

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Traditional Mexican bread for 6th of January, King’s Day.

INGREDIENTS

4 cups flour
3 eggs, seperated
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon water
1/4 ounce of dry yeast
1 orange, zested
1 lemon, zested
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon butter, softened

Topping
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
20 candied citrus peels

DIRECTIONS

Mix 4 cups flour, eggs, egg yolks, 2/3 cup white sugar, water, dry yeast, orange zest, lime zest, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon butter; mix until dough is elastic and shiny, about 5 minutes.

Form dough into a ball. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.

Punch down dough gently; roll into a long cylinder. Join the ends of the cylinder together in the shape of an oval ring. Place ring on a greased baking sheet; cover and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Whisk eggs whites in a small bowl. Brush egg whites evenly over dough.

Mix 1/2 cup white sugar and 1/4 cup butter in a small bowl with your fingers to form a paste. Add enough flour to give paste the consistency of Play-Doh(R); divide into 5 or 6 balls. Place each ball between two 3-inch squares of parchment paper. Press with the bottom of a 1-cup measuring cup to make a circle about 1/8 inch thick.

Space circles evenly around the dough ring. Arrange candied citrus peels on top of the dough.

Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes before slicing.

I worked with this recipe.

 

Lemon Curd & Coconut Cupcake Cake

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I took Amy Sedaris’ recipe for cupcakes and buttercream frosting, added some lemon curd and coconut and this was the result.

INGREDIENTS

Lemon Curd

4 lemons, zested and juiced (about 1/2 cup of juice)
1 cup sugar
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Cake

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups milk

Buttercream

1 box powdered sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk or light cream

Coconut

DIRECTIONS

Make the curd by combining lemon zest and sugar in a bowl. Rub together with your fingers. Put the lemon zest and sugar mixture, lemon juice, egg yolks, and butter in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir until combined. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the butter melts and the mixture thickens, about 12-15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and pour lemon curd into a jar or glass bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly against the curd so it is airtight. Cool to room temperature and then place in the refrigerator.

When you are ready to make the cake, preheat then oven to 375 degrees. Grease and line two cake pans. Put butter in mixer and beat at medium speed until smooth. Add sugar and beat well. Add 2 eggs. Mix well. Add: vanilla, baking powder, salt, flour, and milk. Beat until combined and then pour into cake pans. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

For the butter cream, mix the butter until light and fluffy.  Slowly add then powdered sugar and let it beat for about 5-8 minutes so it is super light and fluffy.  Add milk and vanilla. Mix well.

Assemble cake any way you like.  I filled the center with lemon curd and then mixed some curd into the buttercream and frosted the outside.  I then covered it in coconut.

New Year’s Fortune Cookie

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I had to do something fun to return to work.

INGREDIENTS

6 tablespoons butter, softened
6 tablespoons sugar
2 large egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup flour

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400°. Write fortunes on small strips of paper (3-1/2×1/4-in.); set aside. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a pencil, draw two 3-1/2-in. circles on a sheet of parchment paper. Place paper, pencil mark down, on a baking sheet; set aside.

In a small bowl, beat butter, sugar, egg white and vanilla. Add flour; mix well. Spread 1 tablespoon batter over each circle. Bake 4-5 minutes or until lightly browned.

Slide parchment paper onto a work surface. Cover one cookie with a kitchen towel. Place a fortune in the center of the other cookie; loosen cookie from parchment paper with a thin spatula. Fold cookie in half over fortune strip so the edges meet; hold edges together for 3 seconds.

Place center of cookie over the rim of a glass; gently press ends down to bend cookie in middle. Cool 1 minute before removing to a wire rack. Repeat with second cookie. If cookies become too cool to fold, return to oven to soften for 1 minute. Repeat with remaining batter and fortunes.

I worked with this recipe.

NYE Baked Alaska

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This was a fun way to end 2018. What’s old is new again.  Happy New Year!

INGREDIENTS

Ice Cream
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups half and half
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sponge Cake
5 eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup cake flour

Swiss Meringue
5 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

Ice Cream
Combine all ingredients and stir until sugar is dissolved.  Prepare in ice cream maker as directed. 

Sponge Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9 inch round pan (preferably springform) and line the bottom with a parchment round.

Combine the eggs and sugar in the bowl for a stand mixer and whip with the whisk attachment until pale yellow, thick and tripled in volume, about 10 mins. Add the salt and vanilla at the very end of the beating time.

Sift the cake flour over the top of the batter in three batches and VERY LIGHTLY, fold the flour in with a spatula. Do not overmix.

Lightly spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 mins or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool for a couple mins on a wire rack, then remove from the pan to finish cooling.
Assembly and Swiss Meringue

Line a 9″ bowl with plastic wrap. Fill with soft vanilla ice cream. Top with cooled sponge cake and place in the freezer until frozen (several hours).

Make the Swiss meringue by combining sugar and eggs whites in the bowl of your stand mixer or a large metal bowl. Place over a pan of simmering water and cook, whisking frequently, until sugar is completely dissolved and isn’t grainy when you rub it between two fingers.
Remove from heat and using your electric mixer, beat on high with the whisk attachment until the meringue is thick and glossy and the bottom of the bowl no longer feels warm, about 7-8 minutes.

Add the vanilla extract and continue to beat until you reach stiff peaks.

Remove the bowl from the freezer. Invert the bowl onto a cake plate or pedestal, remove the bowl and peel off the plastic wrap. Spread the meringue over the entire surface of the ice cream cake and use an offset spatula or knife to create peaks or swirls. Use a kitchen torch to brown the meringue. Alternatively you can place the entire cake into a 475 degree oven to brown. Be brief and keep a close eye that the meringue doesn’t burn and the ice cream doesn’t melt. It should only take a few minutes.

Blue Bottle’s Granola Recipe

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I got this from Blue Bottle’s recipe book.  Always good to have some of this hanging around.

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup water
4 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 cup canola oil
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
In a small saucepan, combine brown sugar and water.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly while sugar dissolves and begins to boil.  Put aside and let cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix well.  Add the oil, vanilla, brown sugar mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well.  Transfer to a rimmed 13″x18″ inch baking tray. Pat down to an even layer and bake for 75 minutes, break up granola into a few big pieces and flip halfway through. Make sure it is all dried out and not sticky.  Let dry completely before storing.

Almond Galette

From King Arthur Flour:  In France, almond galette (known as Galette des Rois) is typically served on January 6: Epiphany, the Feast of the Kings. An ultra-buttery, remarkably flaky pastry crust stuffed with almond filling, this is quite possibly the easiest “fancy” dessert you’ll ever make.

INGREDIENTS

Crust
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
16 tablespoons cold butter
1/2 cup sour cream

Filling
2/3 cup almond paste
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup almond flour

Glaze
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon cold water

DIRECTIONS

To make the crust: Weigh your flour; you’ll find its weight by toggling to “ounces” at the top of the ingredient section above. Or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Cut the cold butter into pats, and work it into the flour mixture until it’s unevenly crumbly, with larger bits of butter remaining intact.

Stir in the sour cream. The dough will be craggy but cohesive. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and bring it together, if necessary, with a few quick kneads.

Pat the dough into a rough square. Roll it into a rough 8″ x 10″ rectangle. Make sure the underside is sufficiently dusted with flour that you can move it around easily.

Starting with one of the shorter (8″) ends, fold the dough in thirds like a business letter. Flip it over (so the open flap is on the bottom), and turn it 90°. Roll the dough into an 8″ x 10″ rectangle again. Fold it in thirds again.

Wrap the dough in plastic, and place it in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes (or overnight).

When you’re ready to proceed, start preheating the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment.

Divide the pastry in half. Roll one half into a 10″ square.

Using a 10″-round template (e.g., a dinner plate), cut a 10″ circle. Set the circle onto the prepared baking sheet.

To make the filling: Beat the almond paste, butter, sugar, and salt until thoroughly combined.

Add the egg yolks and vanilla, and beat until well incorporated.

Mix in the flours.

Roll the other piece of pastry into an 11″ square. Cut an 11″ circle.

To assemble the galette: Spread the filling over the smaller circle, leaving a 1″ rim around the edge of the pastry.

To make the glaze: Mix the egg yolk and water together. Brush some glaze over the uncovered edge of the pastry.

Center the larger round of dough over the filled bottom crust, and smooth it over the filling. Using a fork, press and crimp the edge of the galette to seal.

Decorate the galette by using the back of a knife to trace a pattern on the surface; you’ll just barely cut into the surface without cutting all the way through. Poke a vent hole in the center, and four additional small slits at other random spots, hiding the slits in the pattern you’ve drawn. 

Brush an even coat of the glaze over the surface of the galette then bake it for 30 to 35 minutes, or until it’s golden. Don’t be afraid to let it become deeply browned; this slight caramelization gives the butter in the crust wonderful flavor. Remove the galette from the oven, and cool it slightly right on the baking sheet.

Serve galette warm or at room temperature. Store any leftovers at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.

Monteleone’s Rum Cake

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My parents are celebrating their 60th Christmas together so I decided to attempt one of their favorite cakes from one of their favorite bakeries in Jersey City, New Jersey — Monteleone’s Bakery.

Italian sponge cake soaked in rum syrup filled with vanilla and chocolate pastry cream and covered  with whipped cream and toasted almonds.

I reprinted the recipe from Living the Pie Life who reprinted it from Diana’s Desserts. But make sure you follow the first link if you have any questions.

INGREDIENTS

Italian Pasticciera Cream
3 tablespoons granulated sugar

3 egg yolks

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups whole milk

large pinch of kosher salt

1 tablespoon butter

Chocolate Pasticciera Cream

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3 egg yolks

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups whole milk

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, grated

large pinch of kosher salt

1 tablespoon butter

Rum Syrup

1/4 cup light or dark rum

1/3 cup water

1/2 cup granulated sugar

Italian Sponge Cake
5 egg yolks

5 egg whites

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 1/4 cups cake flour, sifted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon grated fresh lemon rind

Stabilized Whip Cream:
3 cups heavy cream

3 tablespoons cold water

1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

5 tablespoons granulated sugar

For Decoration
1 cup toasted sliced almonds

DIRECTIONS

Vanilla Pastry Cream

Whisk together 3 egg yolks with 1/2 cup of the whole milk.

Sift 3 tablespoons of flour into the egg mixture and whisk to combine taking care to eliminate any lumps.

Add 3 tablespoons of sugar and a large pinch of kosher salt into the mixture and stir to combine.

Scald (aka bring just to a boil and then cut the heat) 1 1/2 cups of whole milk in a small saucepan. Let the milk cool slightly because you are about to add it to the eggs and you don’t want to cook them in the bowl.

While whisking continuously, add the scalded milk into the egg mixture.

Pour all this back into the pan and bring slowly bring to a low simmer, whisking the whole time.

Whisk while simmering for 2 minutes. It will become quite thick.

Remove from the heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla and 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.

Transfer to a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap that touches the surface of the liquid (to avoid a skin) and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.


Chocolate Pastry Cream
The process for the chocolate cream is the same, except that you used 1/4 cup of sugar and add 2 ounces of finely chopped unsweetened chocolate with the vanilla and the unsalted butter at the end.

Rum Syrup

Mix together the water, sugar, and rum in a small pot. Bring to a boil, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and cool before using.


Italian Sponge
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch cake pans then line the bottom of each with parchment. Butter again and then flour the entire interior. Note: Its totally worth it to go through all these steps. Your cake will never stick. Set aside.Place egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until lemon colored. They will be quite thick. Add the vanilla and the lemon rind.In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Gently stir a third of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture. Sift flour over that mixture and then fold it in, very gently, until just incorporated then add the remaining egg whites and fold, again, until just incorporated. Your goal is to keep as much of the air as possible in the batter.Pour cake batter into prepared pans and bake in preheated oven for 22-24 minutes (NOT the 4o minutes in the original recipe), or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Remove cakes from oven, let them sit for about 5 minutes in the pans and turn the cake out of pans onto wire racks to cool completely (if they are a little stuck to the side of the pan, just run a knife around the edge of the pan before turning them out).

Stablized Whipped Cream
Soak plain gelatin in cold water for 5 minutes. Dissolve by placing it in a container over a small pot of simmering water (or in the microwave for 10 seconds on low), stir until dissolved. Set aside to cool slightly before using.In a large well chilled bowl, with well chilled beaters, beat cream with electric mixer. Just before it becomes soft and billowy, slowly add the sugar and vanilla to the whipped cream at the sides of the bowl, continue to whip as you do. Whip the cream until you just begin to see waves in the cream.Then, while continuing to mix, add melted and cooled gelatin. Stop whipping when cream forms soft peaks. Finish beating with whisk to adjust consistency to stiff peaks.Use or serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until needed.If peaks have softened during refrigeration, re-whip by hand using a whisk.

Assemble the Cake

OK. I messed up while I was assembling this cake. Everything was going OK until I got to the chocolate pastry cream layer and the weight of all that cream and cake make the vanilla pastry cream start to squeeze out of the sides of the cake. That’s when I remembered that I had an 8-inch cake ring and placed it over the finished cake and then put the cake in the freezer 20 minutes to get a hold of itself. If you have a cake ring or an 8-inch springform pan, I recommend assembling the cake within the ring.  Alternatively, you could refrigerate or freeze the cake for 20-30 minutes halfway through the assembly process to allow the pastry cream to firm up again.Ideally, this is how the assembly should go:

You are going to cut the sponge cakes in half (horizontally) to form two layers. This is how. Using a long, thin bladed knife, cut/split each layer in half lengthwise making four thin layers (each of my 4 layers was about 1/2-inch thick).

Place bottom sponge layer on platter cut side up, sprinkle/brush with about 1/4 of the rum syrup (be careful not to get the cake too wet, or layers will become soggy).

Spread a layer of vanilla pastry cream on the first sponge layer.

Top the vanilla cream layer with another layer of sponge cake, cut side up. Sprinkle with another 1/4 of the rum syrup.

Spread a layer of stabilized whipped cream on the second sponge layer.

Top the whipped cream layer with another layer of sponge cake, cut side up, sprinkle with another 1/4 of the syrup. Note: You may want to refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes at this point.

Spread a layer of chocolate pastry cream on the third sponge layer.

Sprinkle the remaining rum on the cut side of the last layer of sponge.

Top the chocolate layer with the last layer of sponge cake, right side up (aka cut, rum syrup soaked side down)

Frost the top sponge cake layer and sides of cake with stabilized whipped cream, and if desired, decorate top of cake by piping rosettes using whipped cream and cover sides of cake with sliced almonds, or decorate as desired. Place cake in refrigerator at least 2 hours before serving.