Brown Butter Cake and Black Currant Jam

I am so excited to be working with my great friend, Fred Chang (season 10 + 12) on a MilkBar Inspired Collaboration!

On season 9 of MasterChef, I was so lucky to be awarded culinary school paid for by Chef Gordon Ramsay. I was also lucky to be offered a job at MilkBar in New York City. One of my previous posts (Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes) has the recipe that landed me that job. On season 10, Fred was also awarded a job at MilkBar. However, he worked for the LA location. We both ended up working for MilkBar at the same time, but cross country. We quickly became long distance friends and coworkers.

So here’s what we did. We called each other and brainstormed this cake. I am providing you with the cake recipe and the jam recipe. Fred has the liquid cheesecake recipe and the crumb recipe. Check out Fred’s page for those recipes!

  • 350g black currant concentrate (I used Ribena)
  • 100g water
  • 50g sugar
  • 15g sure-jell for recipes with low/no sugar
  • 26g freeze dried black currant powder
  • 22g lemon juice
  1. In a medium sauce-pot combine concentrate and water.
    • 350g black currant concentrate, 100g water
  2. In a separate small bowl, combine sugar, pectin, and freeze dried currant powder. Stir out the lumps.
    • 50g sugar, 15g sure-jell, 26g freeze-dried black currant powder
  3. Add dry mix into the liquids and add lemon juice. Heat on medium heat until mixture is boiling. Allow to boil for at least 2 minutes to activate pectin. 
    • 22g lemon juice
  4. To test for doneness, scoop a thin amount onto a spoon and allow mixture to set, push with finger and test. The mixture should wrinkle under your finger.

For the Brown Butter: heat a stick of butter over medium-high heat. It will start to bubble and fizz. Stir regularly so the milk solids brown evenly. Take the butter as dark as you feel comfortable. At MilkBar, we would take the butter super dark and nearing burnt. Once the butter is where you like it, pour into a heat safe container and allow to cool at room temperature, stirring every half hour or so to evenly distribute milk solids.

  • 55g unsalted butter, softened
  • 40g brown butter, softened
  • 250g sugar
  • 60g light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 110g half and half
  • 65g neutral oil
  • 2 g vanilla extract
  • 185g cake flour
  • 4g baking powder
  • 4g salt
  1. Heat the oven to 350F. Spray a ¼ sheet pan with non-stick spray and line it with parchment.
  2. Cream butters and sugars on medium high speed until light and fluffy. The mixture should be a pale cream color. Trust me, go further than you think.
    • 55g soft unsalted butter, 40g soft brown butter, 250g sugar, 60g light brown sugar
  3. Scrape the sides of the bowl and then add your eggs one at a time. Let each egg get fully mixed in before adding the next one. After the last egg is fully mixed in, scrape the sides of the bowl.
    • 3 eggs
  4. Wisk together the dry ingredients and add a third of that mixture into your mixer. 
    • 185g cake flour, 4g baking powder, 4g salt
  5. Combine your wet ingredients and add half of that mixture into your mixer.
    • 110g half and half, 65g neutral oil, 2g vanilla extract
  6. Add another third of the dry ingredients.
  7. Add your last half of wet ingredients.
  8. Add the remaining dry ingredients.
  9. Once fully mixed, pour batter onto prepared sheet pan and spread evenly using an offset spatula. Focus on the corners first and then even out the center.
  10. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating halfway through. Allow to cool completely before cutting and assembling.

For assembly:

  1. Cut cake into 6 inch rounds using the MilkBar method: Cut 2 perfect circles and 2 halves to make 3 layers
  2. Using a 6 inch cake ring lined with acetate, layer cake, cheesecake, jam, and crumbs. Decorate however you like!

Lion’s Mane “Lobster” Rolls

These “lobster” rolls are so easy and so yummy to make! I was lucky enough to get my hands on some Lion’s Mane Mushrooms and wanted to get creative. The texture of these mushrooms is so similar to lobster. I hope you give this a try. Feel free to use vegan mayonnaise and skip the butter to make this vegan 🙂

  • 3 lbs Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp white wine
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 celery stalk, minced
  • 2 Tbsp minced chives
  • 2 Tbsp minced parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • split top brioche buns (or whatever buns you prefer)
  1. Heat a stainless steel pan over medium high heat. Add a small amount of neutral oil.
  2. Slice mushrooms 1/4 inch thick and add to the pan. I had to do 2 rounds as to not over crowd. It is very important that you do not salt these until later in the cooking stage, salting too early draws the water out too fast and causes them to not brown as nicely.
    • 3 lbs lion’s mane mushrooms
  3. Once mushrooms are browned on one side, flip them to get the same color on both sides.
  4. When the mushrooms are evenly browned and the pan is looking dry, you can add salt and pepper.
  5. Deglaze the pan with white wine, butter, and 1/2 of the lemon juice (if you’re doing this in 2 batches like I did use half the wine, half the butter, and 1/4 of the lemon juice per batch)
    • 2 Tbsp white wine, 2 Tbsp butter, (1/2) juice of 1 lemon
  6. Remove mushrooms from pan and set aside to cool.
  7. In a medium mixing bowl, add mayonnaise, celery, chives, parsley, and the remaining lemon juice. Mix to form the base of the salad.
    • 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1 celery stalk-minced, 2 Tbsp minced celery, 2 Tbsp minced parsley, (1/2) juice of 1 lemon
  8. Spread some butter on the buns, a sprinkle of salt, and broil to toast. I recommend the low setting and only about a 30 seconds to a minute. Keep and eye, looking to melt the butter and crisp slightly.
    • top split brioche buns
  9. When mushrooms are cool enough to handle, tear into bite sized pieces and add to your salad base. Stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Add the salad to the buns and enjoy!

Spaghetti with Miso Cream Sauce (vegan alt included)

I had some micro-kale for a topping.

I eat pasta way too much. I know this, and I’ve come to accept it. This is a recipe I found online somewhere and have made so many times its very different from the original. I took it down to bare bones and built it up back again. The sauce takes the same amount of time that it takes the spaghetti to cook. Sub heavy cream for cashew cream to make this vegan. This is an umami bomb and I make it at least twice a month.

You’ll need:

  • 1 pound dried spaghetti (or whatever pasta is your favorite)
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil
  • minced garlic (measure this one with your heart)
  • 2 tablespoons white miso
  • 1 tablespoon mushroom powder – optional but highly recommended
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 cup heavy cream OR 3/4 cup cashew cream + 1/4 cup extra pasta water
  • 1/2 cup pasta water
  • finishing salt and black pepper to taste


  1. cook your pasta according to package instructions or until your desired doneness
    • 1 lb spaghetti or pasta of choice
  2. while pasta is cooking (remember to check your pasta frequently, reserve pasta water, and drain pasta when desired doneness is reached), heat your oil in a stainless steel pan over medium heat
    • 2 tablespoons neutral oil
  3. sauté minced garlic for 1-2 minutes until aromatic. add in the white miso and mushroom powder and stir to combine.
    • minced garlic (measure with your heart), 2 tablespoons white miso, 1 tablespoon mushroom powder
  4. at this point your pan should have built up a little bit of fond (the brown yumminess that sticks to the bottom of the pan when sautéing things) deglaze that with the rice vinegar and scrape that fond back into your sauce.
    • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  5. turn off the heat to the sauce and add in the cream. you may need a whisk to emulsify the sauce at this stage.
    • 1 cup heavy cream OR 3/4 cup cashew cream+1/4 cup extra pasta water
  6. add in your reserved pasta water, then add pasta to pan and stir to coat.
    • 1/2 cup pasta water, salt and black pepper to taste
  7. enjoy!

Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes

Up until this point, I had not formally written and tested a recipe for these cupcakes. These are the cupcakes so many fell in love with when I made them on Season 9 of MasterChef. When I made them on the show for the judges (including guest judge Christina Tosi) I did not follow a recipe, I made it up entirely. But here is one that will get you nearly the same results and is a definite crowd pleaser. Enjoy.

Recipe makes 24 cupcakes

For the Cupcakes:

  • 400g granulated sugar
  • zest of 4 lemons
  • 426g all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 340g unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup half and half (or whole milk)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice

For the Lemon Curd

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • pinch salt
  • 4 Tbsp butter, cut into 3 slices

For the Raspberry Buttercream

  • 3 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 clamshell of raspberries
  • (optional) 3 Tbsp freeze dried raspberries ground into a fine powder
  • pinch salt
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Cupcakes Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F. line 2 cupcake pans with liners.
  2. In a food processor, process the sugar and lemon zest until sugar takes on a pale yellow hue.
    • 400g granulated sugar, zest of 4 lemons
  3. Mix sugar with the remaining dry ingredients until smooth.
    • 426g all purpose flour, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt
  4. Mix the wet ingredients together one at a time, keeping the mixture as homogeneous as possible.
    • 340g unsalted butter, 4 eggs, 1 cup greek yogurt, 1/2 cup half and half, 1/2 cup lemon juice
  5. Combine the dry and wet ingredients until they just come together.
  6. Quickly portion cupcakes into liners (I used a 2 oz disher)
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. (trust your instincts you know how to bake cupcakes)

Lemon Curd Method:

  1. Prepare a small sheet pan by lining it with plastic wrap or a silpat.
  2. In a 3 qt saucepan, combine all ingredients except for the butter.
    • 3 eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, zest and juice of 1 lemon, pinch salt
  3. Heat over medium heat, consistently stirring with a heat safe spatula until thickens. This will take a while and your cupcakes will be ready to come out of the oven before then. You can stop stirring, lower the heat and step away while you take the cupcakes out of the oven. Quickly get back to stirring.
  4. Take cooked curd off the heat and stir in the butter.
    • 4 Tbsp butter cut into 3 slices
  5. Transfer finished curd to your prepared sheet pan and cover with more plastic or another silpat.
  6. When cooled, put curd in an uncut pastry bag and set aside for assembly.

Raspberry Buttercream Method:

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip butter until light and fluffy.
    • 3 sticks unsalted butter softened
  2. Add raspberries, raspberry powder, and salt. Continue to whip until incorporated.
    • 1 clamshell raspberries, optional freeze dried raspberries ground into a fine powder, pinch salt
  3. Add powder sugar, a half cup at a time.
    • 2 cups powdered sugar
  4. Transfer buttercream to a pastry bag fitted with a 1M tip and set aside for assembly.

To Assemble:

  1. Take a pairing knife and cut out the some of the center of the COOLED cupcakes (I usually cut an inverted cone, just don’t go to the bottom or else they will be very messy to eat)
  2. Fill the hole made with lemon curd
  3. Top with buttercream
  4. Decorate to your liking and enjoy 🙂