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Christina Tosi, the founder and CEO of cult-favorite bakery chain Milk Bar, shares one of her latest creative dessert recipes. Inspired by the flavors of strawberry shortcake, it's made with vanilla cake and white chocolate.
Tosi's book, Dessert Can Save the World, is a memoir with a few recipes sprinkled in. "This book is all about the moments in my life that lead me to right here," she says. "I was surrounded by strong women who showed me baking's ability to create connections with other people. Dessert brings us together, and then in turn, we can save the world."
These truffles, which are on the menu at Milk Bar (did you know you can order goodies online?!), are a good place to start! Christina also encourages you to tweak the recipe and make it your own. Instead of going with the strawberry theme, flavor the cake scraps with any liquid you like, such as cold brew or chocolate milk. "Whatever is going to bring the flavor story in," she says. The same goes for the melted chocolate (try dark chocolate, for instance) and outer coating. Finely crushed pretzels or cereal, cake crumbs or cocoa powder are all great choices for the latter.
Pro Tip from Christina: You can substitute store-bought cake instead of making your own. This recipe is also a good way to use up leftover or slightly stale cake.
For another fun dessert idea from Christina, check out her Milk Bar Birthday Cake Truffles.
For the vanilla cake, heat the oven to 350°F.
Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs and mix on medium-high again for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once more.
On low speed, stream in the buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and paddle for 4 to 6 minutes, until the mixture is practically white, twice the size of your original fluffy butter-and-sugar mixture and completely homogenous. Don't rush the process—you're basically forcing too much liquid into an already fatty mixture that doesn't want to make room for the liquid. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
On very low speed, add the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Mix for 45 to 60 seconds, just until your batter comes together and any remnants of dry ingredients have been incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. If you see any lumps of cake flour in there while you're scraping, mix for another 45 seconds.
Spray a quarter sheet pan with cooking spray, then line it with parchment or just line the pan with a nonstick baking mat. Using a spatula, spread the cake batter in an even layer in the pan. Give the bottom of your sheet pan a tap on the countertop to even out the layer.
Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes. The cake will rise and puff, doubling in size, but will remain slightly buttery and dense. At 30 minutes, gently poke the edge of the cake with your finger: the cake should bounce back slightly and the center should no longer be jiggly. Leave the cake in the oven for an extra 3 to 5 minutes if it doesn't pass those tests.
Take the cake out of the oven and cool on a wire rack or, in a pinch, in the fridge or freezer (don't worry, it's not cheating). The cooled cake can be stored in the fridge, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 5 days.
For the strawberry shortcake truffles, using your hands, break the cake into small pieces and crumbs. Combine these cake scraps and the strawberry soak in a medium bowl and toss with your hands until moist enough to knead into a ball. If it is not moist enough to do so, slowly add more soak, kneading it in. You want the filling to be quite moist and soft, not chewy.
Using a tablespoon, scoop even balls, each about half the size of a ping pong ball. Roll each one between the palms of your hands to shape and smooth it into a round sphere.
Put the outer coating/crumb of choice in a medium bowl and set aside.
With latex gloves on, put 2 tablespoons of the melted white chocolate coating in the palm of your hand and roll each ball between your palms, coating it in a thin layer of melted chocolate; add more chocolate to your palm as needed.
Put 3 or 4 chocolate-covered balls at a time into the bowl of coating/crumb. Immediately toss them with it to coat, before the chocolate shell sets and no longer acts like a glue. (If that happens, just coat the ball in another thin layer of melted chocolate).
Refrigerate for at least 5 minutes to fully set the chocolate shells before eating or storing. The truffles will keep for up to 1 week in an airtight container in the fridge.