Category Archives: Cakes

Easy Dutch Chocolate Cupcakes & What To Do When You Run Out of Icing Sugar

Creamy, chocolatey goodness!

I had a milestone birthday last week (and no, I won’t be telling you my age. I like some mystery in our blogging relationship, dear reader!) and one of my colleagues gave a present. Best present ever, because it was chocolate sprinkles that she picked up in a local Dutch goods store! Naturally, I had to bake with them, so I baked up some Easy Dutch Chocolate Cupcakes!

Are you familiar with chocolate sprinkles? I’m not talking about the chocolate sprinkles sold in North America for baking, but the real Dutch chocolate ‘hail’ (chocolade hagel) that generations of Dutch children have grown up eating with bread and butter. Sound too decadent to give to a child? Well, I remember my grade school teacher talking about how her mom would give her a slice of bread with a chunk of chocolate, before the era of Nutella. And if parents will feed Nutella to their kids, well, chocolate ‘hail’ is the same! Except way more fun because you get to sprinkle the ‘hail’ on your buttered bread yourself. And as a child, that’s so. much. fun! And the deliciousness of bread buttered with chocolate sprinkles has to be tasted to be believed.

I decided to try and recipe that deliciousness in cupcake form. I used a chocolate cupcake instead of a slice of bread, and buttercream instead of butter, but the chocolate ‘hail’? No substitutions for that — it was imported straight from Holland!

Have I teased you enough by describing the lusciousness of this cupcake? Shall we get to baking? (And more importantly, to eating?) Yes? I concur!

EASY DUTCH CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES W/ CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM & CHOCOLATE SPRINKLES

You’ll need

  • 1 batch chocolate cupcake batter (my hands-down-best-ever recipe is Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake recipe. Only recipe I ever use.)
  • 1 batch chocolate buttercream (see recipe below)
  • 1 c. chocolate sprinkles

Bake cupcakes in liners in a muffin tray in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until the tops spring back when lightly tapped. Let cool.

Ice with chocolate buttercream. There at two ways to do this: you can use a Wilton 1M tip (my favourite way to ice) or, if like me, you’ve misplaced your 1M tip, just use a knife to spread the buttercream roughly on the top of the muffin.

If you’ve piped your icing on, sprinkle your chocolate hail on top of the icing in a random and pretty design. And you’re done!

If you’ve spread your icing on, like me, take the iced cupcake, turn it upside down, and roll the top in a bowl of chocolate hail. Simple, elegant, and oh, so yummy to eat! If you make this recipe, let me know in the comments which technique you used!

How to ice a chocolate hailstorm cupcake! Spread, dip, roll…and eat!

CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM

  • Take one batch of my The Only Buttercream Recipe You’ll Ever Need, and add 1/2 c. cocoa powder. Are you a super-duper chocolate lover? Add 1 c. cocoa powder. Are you a chocolate fiend? Add 1 1/2 c. cocoa powder. Not chocolatey enough? Forget buttercream and just use straight ganache, my friend!

I’ve mentioned often enough that I’m the Queen of Substitutions, and here is a case in point! I ran out of icing sugar, but needed one more cup to finish this recipe. What to do? It’s time for a…

Kitchen Hack

Take 1 c. regular white sugar, and blend it in a blender for 5 minutes, shaking occasionally, until as finely ground as you can get it. This won’t be exactly like icing sugar, but definitely more like icing sugar than regular sugar, so it’s a good hack to use in a pinch.

Wasn’t using regular sugar and turning it into icing sugar, a clever way to finish the recipe? I mean, one can’t stop baking in the middle of a baking storm! Cooking creativity cannot be stifled!

Want more easy substitutions? Subscribe to my blog and receive a copy of my e-book, This for That: Easy Kitchen Swaps and Hacks via email! How to sign up? Enter your email addy in the orangey-red bar at the top of the blog, or look at the right top of the blog and sign up there. Free kitchen tips: who doesn’t want that?

Next Post: I’ve been working on a Extra-Chocolatey Nanaimo Bar recipe, in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday this year, and it’s just about done! So stay tuned for a Nanaimo Bar recipe that’ll knock your socks off! They’re so addictive, btw. So, so, very deliciously addictive! 

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday! And at Happiness is Homemade!

GOOP: A Baking Wonder Product That Has Nothing To Do With Gwyneth Paltrow!

Looks gross, but works AH-MAZE-ING-LY well! Seriously. Go on faith here, and just try it!

You know how when you’ve baked something (cakes, muffins, whatevs), it’s sometimes hard to get the baked good out of the pan? Ever had a half-torn cakewreck as a result? (Not talking from experience. Nope. Nuh-uh. Incidentally, buttercream is my best friend and patches everything up!) Some people use cake-release spray. Some people use Pam. I’ve always used just plain butter to grease my cake pans, and then followed that by dusting flour on top of the buttered pan (or cocoa if it a chocolate cake). Never had an issue, and why pay for a processed product when I knew flour and butter worked just fine?

But! What is there was a mixture that you could use to turn those two steps (butter pan, dust flour on pan) into one step?

Your dreams have been answered! GOOP has arrived!!! (I’m pretty sure this is NOT what Gwyneth Paltrow had in mind when she named her blog, but so sad, too bad, I shall forever think of lovely buttery cake ingredients when I hear her blog name. (Subversion by food. I like it!)

But what is this GOOP stuff you so lovingly capitalize, you ask?

It’s a mixture of flour, shortening, and oil.

In other words, you’re basically premixing your butter (i.e. solid fat) and flour that you normally would prep the pan with, adding some oil to make it a bit more loose and spreadable (and I’m sure there’s something to be said for the different heating properties of shortening and oil, but eh, I’m writing this post and 4 am in the morning – thank you, insomnia – and don’t really want to dive down a wormhole of googling the properties of different fats. So. Two fats. They work well together. End of bracket).

Now let’s get down to brass tacks! Or quantities, rather.

The original recipe called for equal amounts of flour, oil, and shortening. But whenever do I stick to a recipe? *laughs so hard has to wipe tears from eyes*

So. Modifications are the name of the game. I decided to increase the amount of oil. Just baker’s instinct. I could delve down into why my instincts say that but again, it’s 4 am, so whatevs, I’m going with the flow. Now, let’s get making up some GOOP!

All GOOPed up and ready to go! Yeah, it looks weird. But it really works!

GOOP

(slightly adapted from iambaker.net’s recipe)

  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/3 c. oil
  • 1/2 c. shortening

Mix together, until uniformly blended. To use, apply to cake tins with a pastry brush. Let cakes cool in pans 10 minutes before inverting to release cake. Enjoy your non-stick cake!

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As regular blog readers will have gathered, as much as I love vanilla, I’m all about opportunities for chocolate to shine. As such, here is my own humble recipe for CHOCOLATE GOOP! This is better to use instead of regular GOOP when you’re baking a chocolate cake — ESPECIALLY if you’re baking a naked chocolate cake. You don’t want unsightly white GOOP residue messing up your lusciously cocoa-coloured cake sides! No, use my CHOCOLATE GOOP and save that cake!

CHOCOLATE GOOP

(slightly less adapted from iambaker.net’s recipe)

  • 1/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1/3 c. oil
  • 1/2 c. shortening

Mix all ingredients together until fully blended. To use, apply to cake tins with a pastry brush. Let cakes cool in pans 10 minutes before inverting them to release cake. Enjoy your non-stick cake!

Literally (LITERALLY) slipped out of the pan. Now that’s non-stick!

Next Post: I finally found some food markers (think Crayola, but food-safe) so I’m going to show you all the basics steps to make fancy-pants cookies! I’ll even include a hack to get the glossy, shiny professional icing! Stay tuned, as it’s a-gonna be fun! And tasty. Tasty really is the most important, don’t you think?

And then after that, perhaps I will finally get to posting about Apple Cinnamon Buttermilk Pancakes and the Birth of a Recipe! Because that recipe is super-tasty too!

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday! And at Full Plate Thursday!

Mousse-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes & The Only Buttercream Recipe You’ll Ever Need

Looking bunny-rific! This melt in your mouth buttercream is better than all the superlatives I can type!

I like to find (or develop!) the best recipes for everything that I like to eat. The best pizza dough? Got it. The best apple crumble? Got that too. I even found the always perfect chocolate cake/cupcake recipe, and never stray from it, because it’s just so perfect. And I think the only thing to top a chocolate cake with, is real buttercream!

I love when people try my buttercream icing — they always make happy nom-nom noises. Music to a baker’s heart! Usually I wing my buttercream recipe, as I know the ingredients and am happy to play around with quantities. Also, sometimes — okay most of the time — I can’t be bothered to measure out ingredients and just eyeball it. But for you, dear blog readers, I finally measured the amounts, and came up with…the only buttercream recipe you’ll ever need!

I piped this icing on top of chocolate cupcakes. But before I did that, I used a strawberry huller. Why? Because…

KITCHEN HACK: Use a strawberry huller instead of a cupcake corer — one less item to clutter up your kitchen!

Once I had made a hole in the centre of the cupcakes, I filled it with a mixture of chocolate ganache and whipped cream (essentially a chocolate mousse). Then I piped the buttercream icing on top, and topped the whole thing with a chocolate bunny! The cupcakes were a hit at an Easter dinner that I attended!

Want to make some delicious buttercream yourself, and have your friends and loved ones make happy nom-nom noises? Let’s!

All nestled in pillowy soft buttercream! Yum-city!

THE ONLY BUTTERCREAM RECIPE YOU’LL EVER NEED

  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • 1/3 c. shortening
  • 3 1/2 c. icing sugar (add more icing sugar if you like a stiffer icing)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Whip butter and shortening together until thoroughly mixed. Add in icing sugar and vanilla, and mix until combined. Beat on high for at least 10 minutes. Spoon into piping bag (or spread on a cake with an offset spatula), and enjoy everyone’s happy mouth-gasms!

The shortening is part of what makes the icing so fluffy; the other reason the icing is so fluffeh-licious (what? it’s a word!) is because all the beating adds a lot of air to the icing and makes it pillowy soft (as opposed to super-thick). So don’t skimp on beating the icing! The buttercream will taste delicious no matter how long you mix it for, but it will be extra fluffy and MUCH easier to pipe, the longer you beat it. So *channeling Michael Jackson* BEAT IT, JUST BEAT IT! Sing it with me now, ALL YOU GOTTA DO IS BEAT IT!!!!!

Next Post: Something healthy. Probably. Stay tuned!

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday! As well as Happiness is Homemade!

Triple-Strawberry Custard & Cream Cake: Birthday Cake Heaven!

Happy Birthday in cake form! (Plus, all natural colours and flavours, and gelatin-free!)

A special birthday requires a special cake, n’est pas? The DH’s birthday is this week, and I made him a special cake, because he’s hitting a milestone birthday. I shadn’t say how old (or young!) he is now, as I shall hit the same birthday in a few months myself, and I’d like to preserve a little mystery in our blogging relationship, dear reader!

But as I said, a special birthday requires a special cake! And the DH does love strawberry cake. (Unless it’s pink, as I learned several years ago.) So, one super-yummy fancy-pants strawberry cake coming up!

I used strawberries three ways in this cake: dried and turned into a powder to make the vanilla custard filling extra flavourful; in jam, to keep the cake layers moist; and on top, for decoration and taste!

ANATOMY OF A CAKE

The Layers: vanilla cake, all golden and moist, and oh so yummy!

The Filling: Homemade strawberry vanilla custard. Eggless, it’s thick enough to spread, flavoured (and naturally coloured!) with my home-dehydrated strawberries (I dehydrated sliced strawberries, then froze the dried slices and blended them into a powder).

Cake-Maker-To-The-Stars-Hack: simple syrup mixed with strawberry jam, spread on the cake layers, make the cake extra moist, and prevents it from getting all dry!

The Icing: whipped cream, baby! Some bakers use gelatin in their stabilized whipped cream, but I just add a bit more icing sugar instead. It won’t stay as long in the fridge, but really, is a delicious strawberry cake going to sit for weeks in the fridge, anyway? Um, not in my house! (Or more correctly, not near me!)

The Strawberry Flourish: strawberries, topped with apple jelly (as opposed to gelatin, because I be veg, yo’).

This cake is a little more finicky than most recipes I post on this blog, but a) it’s worth it and b) once you understand the parts of the cake, it’s really not that difficult. Basically, you make two cakes, split each of those in half and spread jam and then custard on those halves, and put them back together into two cakes. Then you stack those two cakes, using whipped cream icing, spread icing on the top and sides, and pipe some decoration. Voila, an all-natural fancy-pants cake!

Glistening, jelly-topped berries. Yum-o!

The how-to:

TRIPLE-STRAWBERRY CUSTARD &  CREAM CAKE

Make the CAKE

  • any vanilla cake recipe (I used this one, except that I substituted 3 whole eggs for the 6 egg whites because I don’t care about a perfectly white cake, added 1/2 tsp. baking soda for extra fluff-power, and left out the almond extract) 

Bake cakes. Let cool.

Make the FILLING

  • one batch of vanilla custard (I used this one)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. dehydrated powdered strawberries
  • 1 c. strawberry jam
  • 4 tbsp. simple syrup

Make custard. When making custard, stir in powdered strawberries, so that they rehydrate as the custard cooks. Let cool.

Mix strawberry jam with warm simple syrup. Let cool.

Make the ICING

  • 2 c. whipping cream
  • 1 c. icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp. meringue powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Using a chilled bowl and beater, whip cold whipping cream with icing sugar, meringue powder, and vanilla extract, until stiff peaks form. Keep chilled.

Make the TOPPING

  • 1 pint strawberries (hulled, washed, and dried)
  • 1/3 c. apple jelly

Assemble the CAKE

Slice cooled cakes into half horizontally. Spread each half with the jam-syrup mixture. Spread half the custard on each of two of the 4 cake layers. Reassemble into two cakes. (You’ve essentially just made two custard sandwiches using the cake layers, using the jam as you would butter bread!) Place one cake (i.e. custard sandwich) on a plate. Spread whipping cream on top. Stack second cake on top. Spread whipping cream on top and sides. Once covered, put remaining whipping cream into a piping bag and pipe a border on the top and bottom of the cake. Place strawberries, pointing tips up, on the top of the cake. Heat apple jelly until melted but not hot, and brush onto strawberries as a glaze. Chill cake in fridge until serving. Voila! You’ve just make a Triple-Strawberry Custard & Cream Cake!

A slice of cake heaven!

This cake will disappear before you know it. I had my family over to celebrate the DH’s birthday, and we ate half the cake. Twenty-four hours later, the other half of the cake had vanished. (I may or may not have had a hand in the vanishing.) Long story short, make the cake, eat the cake, and…eat some more cake. You and your tummy will thank me!

Next Post: Something healthy maybe, to balance out this cake. What about a recipe for Purely Pear Sauce?  

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday!

Mini Skor Cupcakes — Easy, Impressive, and (Most Importantly) Delicious!

Oh, baby, just look at the chocolate buttercream!

Oh, baby, just look at the chocolate buttercream!

The latest dispatch from the Anemia Front: After a week of diligently supplementing with iron pills, and eating large quantities of kale (via my yummy antioxidant smoothies), I feel like I’m finally regaining a modicum of energy back. Next steps including dosing myself with blackstrap molasses and cooking everything in cast-iron pans (iron leaches out into the food. Handy!) After a few weeks (months?) of this, I shall be…Iron-Woman! Able to bake cakes and crush spatulas with equal ease! Or something to that effect.

But in the meantime, I’ve gone through my photo files and pulled out a recipe to post. Mini Skor Cupcakes! I sent these in to the DH’s work a few months ago, and I believe they were pretty well received. I may have brought some in to my workplace as well. Or I may have eaten them. Can’t remember. Either way, I highly recommend making (and eating) some yourself!

The chopping up of deliciousness.

The chopping up of deliciousness.

Mini Skor Cupcakes

  • 1 batch chocolate cake batter (this is my absolute fave)
  • 1 batch buttercream frosting (I make my own using this recipe, minus the Oreos)
  • cocoa powder to taste
  • Skor toffee bits (I bought mine at Bulk Barn)
  • chopped up Skor bar (I bought a bag of Skor bites, and then chopped those up)

Bake the cupcakes (I made minis), and let them cool. While they are cooling, mix up a batch of buttercream frosting. Mix in enough cocoa so that it has the degree of chocolate taste that you want (I *think* I put in between 1/3 and 1/2 c.). Put in a piping bag and pipe using a 1M tip. Sprinkle some Skor toffee bits on top, and press a piece of Skor bar on top. Et voila, you’re done!

Nom, nom, nom, that is all.

Nom, nom, nom, that is all.

Aren’t they pretty? And best of all, yummy! Although surprisingly easy (bake, ice, sprinkle, and press), they do look rather fancy. Best to make a nice big batch — because these will go like hotcakes! (Except that they’re cupcakes. Mmm…cupcakes!)

Next Post: Chocolate cookies? Apple pie? Or homemade yoghurt and sprouted lentils? Healthy vs. sweet. Why can’t they be both?

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday (x 2), and A Proverbs 31 Wife.