Food & Drink

Christina Tosi's Strawberry Lemon Cake Truffles taste just like summer should

Strawberry Lemon Cake Truffles. MUST CREDIT: Photo by Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post.
Strawberry Lemon Cake Truffles. MUST CREDIT: Photo by Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post.

Strawberry Lemon Cake Truffles

50 half-ounce truffles

This treat with the flavors of summer is on the menu at the new Milk Bar location in Washington. Cake truffles are one of the signature items created by Milk Bar founder Christina Tosi.

There are several elements that go into this dessert, some of which can be made in advance (to streamline final assembly). One is the strawberry sand; we pulverized freeze-dried strawberries and that resulting powder worked well.

Using food-safe gloves for the coating step will make for less mess.

Make Ahead: The cake can be baked, cooled, wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 5 days. The strawberry sand can be held at room temperature for a week or up to 1 month in the refrigerator or freezer. The finished truffles can be refrigerated for up to 1 week, and frozen for up to several months.

Storage Notes: You’ll have leftover strawberry sand, which can be sprinkled on top of ice cream, yogurt and atop the frosting on cakes and cupcakes. If you aren’t inclined to make the strawberry sand, try rolling the truffles in Nesquik Strawberry Flavor Powder. That creates a different taste, but one that Tosi endorses.

Strawberry Lemon Cake Truffles

For the cake

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1/2 cup buttermilk (regular or low-fat)

1/2 cup canola oil

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the strawberry sand

1/2 cup nonfat milk powder

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Scant 2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 3/4 ounces freeze-dried strawberries, finely ground in a food processor (see headnote)

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For assembly

12 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped (may substitute white chocolate chips)

2 tablespoons canola oil

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons)

For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a quarter baking sheet with cooking oil spray, then line with parchment paper or a silicone liner.

Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer; beat on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs; beat on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until well incorporated and the mixture is lightened. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once more.

Whisk together the buttermilk, oil and vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup.

On low speed, gradually add the buttermilk mixture to the butter-egg mixture. Increase the speed to medium-high; beat for 4 to 6 minutes, until the mixture is practically white, twice the volume of the original butter mixture, and completely incorporated. Do not rush the process. You’re basically forcing too much liquid into an already-fatty mixture that doesn’t want to make room for it. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

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Add the cake flour, baking powder and salt; beat on low speed for 45 to 60 seconds, just until the batter comes together and any remnants of dry ingredients have been incorporated. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl. If you see any lumps of cake flour in there while you’re scraping, beat for another 45 seconds.

Use a spatula to spread the cake batter in an even layer in the quarter baking sheet. Give the pan a tap on the counter top to even out the batter. Bake (middle rack) for 30 to 35 minutes; the cake will rise and puff 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 these tests. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the strawberry sand: Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Have a quarter baking sheet at hand.

Combine the milk powder, all-purpose flour, cornstarch, granulated sugar and freeze-dried strawberries in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer; beat on low speed until well incorporated.

Add the melted butter and beat (low speed) until blended. The butter will make the mixture come together in small clumps, then the clumps will break down into a well-combined sand.

Spread the sand on the baking sheet; bake (middle rack) for 10 to 12 minutes. The sand should remain pink, without any hint of toasting. Cool completely before using or storing.

For assembly: Place the white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl; melt on HIGH in 30-second increments, as needed, until it becomes smooth when stirred. Whisk the oil into the chocolate. Cover to keep warm; reheat as needed. Place the strawberry sand in a separate bowl.

Transfer the cake to a mixing bowl, breaking it up into small, even pieces as you go, reserving a little bit in case you need to adjust the consistency later. Add half the lemon juice; toss with your hands until the cake becomes moist enough to knead into a ball. Add up to 2 tablespoons more lemon juice, as needed.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner. Use a small ice cream scoop, a tablespoon measuring spoon or your hands to form about 50 equal portions of the moistened cake mixture, rolling them into balls about 1 inch in diameter (a bit smaller than a Ping-Pong ball; each will weigh about 1/2 ounce). These are your truffles.

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Pour a tablespoon or two of the melted white chocolate in the palms of your (gloved) hands; roll each truffle between them to give it a thin coat; add more white chocolate as needed. Put 3 or 4 chocolate-covered truffles at a time into the bowl of strawberry sand. Immediately toss to coat, before the white chocolate sets. (If the chocolate does harden, just coat the truffle with another thin layer of melted chocolate.) As you coat the truffles, place them back on the same baking sheet or on a separate, clean one.

Refrigerate the finished cake truffles for at least 5 minutes (to fully set) before serving or storing.

Nutrition | Calories: 130; Total Fat: 8 g; Saturated Fat: 4 g; Cholesterol: 20 mg; Sodium: 35 mg; Total Carbohydrates: 15 g; Dietary Fiber: 0 g; Sugars: 10 g; Protein: 1 g.

Source: Adapted from a recipe by Milk Bar chef and owner Christina Tosi.

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