Valentine’s Day with Chinese Five-Spice!

Happy New Year!

That’s about the extent of my festivities.

New Year New Me?


I’m staying the same weirdo.  Thanks.

So, if you are here because you saw me in a magazine…

…can you specify which magazine exactly?


Matter of Taste section!

Go buy it!

I did a fun 80’s Glamour Shots themed photo too…

You know, the cheesy ones with the lasers and the double image!

Constant begging and harassment works! Who knew people would want to peer into the dark crevices of my mind and laugh with at me.It’s almost like, you are encouraging me to be weirder.

OK.  Fine.  I’ll try.

Seriously though…  I’m harmless.  I am very honored to have a feature article in such a great magazine.

On Sale Now!

American Cake Decorating Magazine!

Let me tell you about the cake I made for the feature.  It’s a Raspberry Chinese Five-Spice Cake that’s out of this world! I know, it sounds a bit wild and crazy…  but it’s for Valentine’s Day!

I paired it with some amazingly simple Dulce de Leche Ganache that I totally invented…  and a Raspberry Yogurt Ermine Frosting.

Sounds kinda crazy doesn’t it?

Looks delicious, doesn’t it.  For the magazine I topped it with some cooked sugar shards.  They are simple to make, and fun to decorate with.  You can find the recipe and how-to here.  Instead of pouring it all out I poured it out into small dollops and swooshed it with a spoon and stuck a freeze-dried raspberry to it. Pro-tip:  Use a silicone pattern mat to give your glass interesting designs.

So, lets talk about the cake for a bit.  It’s delicate in crumb but boy does it pack a wallop.  The raspberry is right up in your face and it brings some spice to it.  My recipe STARTS at 1/4 tsp of Chinese Five-Spice, but you can get as spicy as you want.  

Notice anything new?


Get ready for a ton of artsy-fartsy photos as I learn how to take pictures!

My dog Dingo gave me the camera.

Mark and I SWORE to each other that we weren’t getting anything for each other for Christmas.  It’s been an expensive year for us.  Living in a 200-year-old house is not cheap.  There is always something that needs money attention and upkeep.  Every new thing that sprang up, he would look at me, or I would look at him and say “Merry Christmas.”

There’s always a loophole though.

Santa brought a set of Wüsthof knives for both of us.

(Me: Mark, those are sharp knives.  Be careful.  You WILL cut yourself.

Me: Mark, don’t cut yourself!

Me: Mark, I cut myself the first time I used that knife.)

Dingo seemed to have some very deep pockets this year.  He got Mark a few nice things and he got me a really nice camera!

I wonder where he’s getting all that money.

The new camera is like night and day to my old one.

Look at how good that camera makes this cake look.  My new camera is equipped with Nikon Smell-o-rama too. If you get close enough to the screen you can smell the cake.  Go ahead…  try it.

Doesn’t that look good?

It’s an easy cake to make too.

Blend the freeze-dried raspberries with the cake flour, then bake away!

The Next part is going to blow you away.

I mean, this technique might change your life…

I Sous Vide a lot.  I make Modeling Chocolate in my Sous Vide all the time. It was one of my first blog posts and still is getting wild hits.  Once you try it, you will never go back to the lumpy old way.

Dulce de leche Ganache!  YES!  You read that right!

You need a Sous Vide machine

Heat the water to 200°.

You need some white baking chips.  The cheap stuff from the baking isle at the grocery store is perfect.

You need some heavy cream.

If you are going to be using the ganache for construction, use a 4:1 ratio.  If its going to be a filling use a 3:1 ratio…  or whatever ratio you are used to using with baking chips.

Throw it all in the bag…  I use those zip locking backs.  They sell sous vide bags with a pump that sucks the air out…  It works great but I never seem to be able to find the pump that removes the air.  I use a straw.


I know…

The point is to remove all the air.  You can also use water displacement where you put it in the water and let the water push the air out.

Stop sucking when the straw gets to the heavy cream.  Just sayin’.

Once the air is out, put the sealed bag into another zip locking bag.  Double bag it.  The plastic tends to get weak and will burst when you are massaging the ganache.

Yes!  You are going to need to massage your ganache sack.

I hold the DISTINCT HONOR of being the first person in the revered magazine “American Cake Decorating” to tell people to massage their ganache sacks.

Proud moment.

The baking chips are designed to maintain their form as much as possible and not fall apart easily.  You need to literally massage them away.

See the white?  That’s baking chip.  Every once in a while, or anytime you get lonely, take the ganache sack out and give it a squeeze or two.  The longer you leave it in, the darker and richer and more caramel-y the flavor will be.  Once its the color you want, toss it in the fridge to cool.  If it gets too hard to whip, nuke it a few seconds then whip it up like a regular ganache for filling, or use it for construction.

It’s delicious too! It’s such an easy way to elevate the inexpensive baking chip.

Next comes the Raspberry Ermine Frosting!  I love a good ermine.  It’s so whiny and creamy but its uniquely delicious.  It’s the original frosting used on Red Velvet, and great alternative to Cream Cheese Frosting.

First you make glue.

Well, sort of.

You cook flour and milk together.  For my recipe though, you cook flour and melted Raspberry yogurt sorbet together.  You can also mix half milk or heavy cream with half melted raspberry sorbet if you can’t find the frozen raspberry yogurt.

Cook that up till it’s like a pudding.  Put plastic film directly on top so it doesn’t get a film and let it cool. Once it’s cooled add it to a sugar and butter whip and voila you have frosting.

Here it is mid-mix. See, I’m practicing my artsy-artsy photos.  It’s beautiful and creamy when done.

I layered the cake with Dulce de leche filling and some Raspberry Puree, and the Raspberry Ermine on the outside, topped off with blackberries.

Doesn’t that just make your mouth water? I dusted the blackberries with a bit of crushed freeze-dried raspberries, and did a few touches of gold leaf because…

…why not?

You know…  for that low-key Valentine’s Day presentation.


You know…  I love this cake.  If you make the cake, or the ganache or the frosting let me know!  I’d LOVE to hear what you think!  Thank you for spending some time with me!

Subscribe for more!  I’ve got some exciting stuff coming up!



  1. Love this! Not sure that I would have the patience that you have. I love to bake and I look forward to perfecting some new skills this year. You are my hero when it comes to baking. I enjoy reading about your projects and seeing pics. Dingo is a great dog getting you a new Nikon for Christmas.

  2. You are my all time favorite fantastic freak! You do such a wonderful job on everything you touch! And your new fancy-pants camera takes brilliant shots! Just – AWESOME!!

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