Category Archives: Cakes

Super-Easy Cream Cheese Icing When You Don’t Have Any Cream Cheese

Layers of cream cheese icing goodness! Except that there’s no cream cheese in it. Um, say what?

Cream Cheese Icing is a MUST when making carrot cake, and a HIGHLY RECOMMEND when making pumpkin cake. Last week I baked a pumpkin cake, and went to make the cream cheese icing; however, after looking in the fridge, I realized…there was no cream cheese! Egads! What to do? Well, this was a case for…THE QUEEN OF SUBSTITUTIONS!

The solution? Lebneh, also known as yoghurt cheese! I make my own yoghurt, and grew up eating homemade lebneh (drained yoghurt so thick it functions as cream cheese), so it was an easy thing to pull out some yoghurt cheese as a cream cheese substitute.

The verdict? Yum-city! I was trying to take a photo of the finished cake and the DH was hovering impatiently so that he could have a slice. I asked him just now for his opinion. He said, and this is a direct quote, “It’s very bad; don’t eat it, leave it all for me!” So yeah, it was a hit.

The tanginess of the yoghurt subs in perfectly for the tanginess of cream cheese, and the maple syrup adds a touch of sweetness without being cloying. The cinnamon is a perfect foil to carrot OR pumpkin cake, or frankly, anything you want to serve it with.

And since it’s the holidays, you can feel better about eating this icing, since you know it has the calcium-rich goodness of yoghurt in it!

Let’s get to making some!

SUPER-EASY CREAM CHEESE ICING without CREAM CHEESE

(adapted from The Novice Chef)

  • 8 oz. lebneh/yoghurt cheese (about the size of a standard cream cheese packet) (recipe in this post)
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 3 1/3 c. icing sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients together until fully blended. Spread on a cooled slab cake, or serve as a dip with cookies. Enjoy the compliments coming your way!

The only downside to this icing? This is more of a slab cake icing than a traditional round layer cake icing. This is due to the yoghurt cheese — if left for several days, some of the whey will continue to drain and cause the icing to be a bit weepy.  So bake your cake in a lasagna pan, and ice it once cool. Serve and enjoy!

Or, use it as a dip. I’m planning on bringing a bowl of this icing to a dinner party tonight, along with some homemade graham crackers. How’s that for an appetizer? Naturally, I’ve done some taste-testing with this combo. *can’t talk, mouth too full* *shouldn’t be typing, fingers too sticky*

Next Post: Five Holidays Gifts from the Kitchen and Four Ingredient Strawberry Cranberry Jam

Linking Up at Full Plate Thursday!

Drunken Cupcakes with Bailey’s Irish Cream: An Easy Showstopper Dessert!

They taste even better than they look!

It’s no secret that I love chocolate, and these cupcakes are a grown-up’s version of chocolate cupcakes, all fluffy cake, pillowy buttercream with a hint of something stronger, and then the actual secret sauce…a shot of Bailey’s Irish Cream. That’s right, these are Drunken Cupcakes! Just pure deliciousness with a kick of something to open up your eyes and make your mouth go “um, yum!”

I cannot stress the deliciousness of these cupcakes enough. I baked a batch of Drunken Cupcakes with Baileys Irish Cream last week and gave one to the DH, who is notorious for not being fond of chocolate. He ate the entire cupcake in three bites. Then I brought in a batch to my workplace. My co-worker’s reaction: “I LOVE YOU, YOU’RE THE BEST!!!” (And yes, it was an ALL-CAPS type reaction.) So, I feel pretty confident that these Drunken Cupcakes with Baileys Irish Cream will be a hit with your family and friends too!

Aside from being super-delicious, these Drunken Cupcakes are great to look at too! They’re a bit of a conversation piece, and would be a hit at any dinner party, birthday party, drinks party, basically any time to be honest. (Like now. It’s 2 am in the morning, I’m sitting on the sofa with my laptop and some fuzzy socks, and my insomnia is wide awake and partying. Some Drunken Cupcakes would really hit the spot.)

They’re super-easy to make, as long as you can lay your hands on some plastic pipettes. I ordered mine online and got something like 50 of them for $5, so they’re not terribly expensive, as baking accessories go. Got your plastic pipettes? Got some Baileys? Then you’re good to go!

So, let’s get baking!

DRUNKEN CUPCAKES WITH BAILEY’S IRISH CREAM

  • 1 batch of my favourite chocolate cake batter
  • 1 batch of Bailey’s Irish Buttercream (recipe below)
  • 12 pipettes
  • 1/2 c. chocolate chips
  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 3/4 c. Bailey’s Irish Cream

Bake cupcakes according to directions, and set aside to cool. Mix up Bailey’s Irish Buttercream, and fit into piping bag with a 1M piping tip. Pipe icing onto cupcakes in a swirl, starting at the outside and ending on the inside. Set aside, while you prepare the garnish.

Mix chocolate chips and oil in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for two minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until smoothly melted and mixed. (You can also do the same thing on the stove, preferably in a double-boiler, but a microwave is easier.) Let cool slightly. Pour into a plastic baggie and snip a small corner of the baggie off. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the frosted cupcakes.

Using the leftover Bailey’s Irish Cream (it will be 3/4 c. less two tbsp.), fill the pipettes. I found the best way to fill them up all the way was to pinch the top (as you would when sucking up basting juices with a turkey baster) and let it fill up, then turn it upside down so that the air rises to the top of the pipette, squeeze out the air, and suck up some more liqueur. Then stick one full pipette into every cupcake. And bam, a delicious conversation-starter!

BAILEY’S IRISH BUTTERCREAM

  • 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 extract
  • 2 tbsps. Bailey’s Irish Cream (you can add more if you want a stronger flavour)

Whip butter and shortening together until thoroughly mixed. Add in icing sugar, vanilla, and Baileys, and mix until combined. Beat on high for at least 10 minutes.

See? Wasn’t that easy? Bake the cupcakes, pipe the icing on, drizzle some melted chocolate over it, and stick in a pipette of liqueur. Much easier to make than you’d think! And wouldn’t it be fun to do with different liqueurs? Maybe a Chambord? With a raspberry garnish? In terms of recipe experimentation, there’s as many combinations as there are liqueurs! What would be your favourite? Let me know in the comments!

Next Post: I’m thinking Pumpkin Gnocchi. Or Maple-Glazed Pumpkin Slices. Either or, really. Any preferences?  

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday, and at Happiness is Homemade!

Vegan Coconut Apple Spice Cake

The perfect snack for a nice fall day!

Before I talk about how to make Vegan Coconut Apple Spice Cake, allow me a little blathering. I try to post a new recipe once a week, and usually on the weekend. However, this past week I’ve been recovering from some medical stuff and have been napping extra much to recover my strength. All of which is to explain why this week’s post is a few days (cough*week*cough) late! It’s also a particularly easy recipe, and vegan to boot! Whether you’re eating a plant-based diet because it’s healthy, or because it’s easy to make from pantry ingredients, I definitely recommend this recipe for some easy, healthy, and (very importantly) TASTY fall flavour!

I took my basic vegan spice cake recipe and added apples for some extra nutrients and because it’s apple season right now, here in Ontario, Canada. I also added in some coconut, just to change up the flavours a bit, and also because I had some in my pantry that I wanted to use up. And voila, Vegan Coconut Apple Spice Cake was born!

This snack cake is easy to bake, freeze, and pack for lunches. It’s also delicious sprinkled with icing sugar and served with tea, if that’s your jam. You can make it in a cake pan and serve it in wedges, bake it in a square pan and serve in square pieces, or even bake it in muffin cups for a grab and go breakfast that’s guilt-free. It’s super-versatile, in other words.

Let’s get to making this delicious snack cake!

Vegan Coconut Apple Spice Cake

  • 1/2 c. shredded coconut
  • 2 apples, peeled and chopped (I used Gala, but McIntosh would be fine too)
  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. each: cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. vinegar
  • 1 c. water
  • 1/4 c. oil

Mix together wet ingredients and in a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Then add wet to dry and mix until just moistened (you’ll see some foaming action as the vinegar hits the baking soda). Do not overbeat. There WILL be lumps, and that’s ok! Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.

It took me less than 15 minutes to mix up the batter for this cake and pop it in the oven, including the time to peel and chop the apples. Easy peasy apple squeezy, right? This means it’s easy to mix together on a weeknight. Or weekend. Or basically, anytime. Let there be cake!

Next Post: I’ve been making multiple batches of broccoli cheddar soup lately, so I think I’ll share my reduced fat recipe with you! It’s extra-full of vitamins and taste but lower on the fat. Guilt free yumminess, woohoo!

Easy Cacti Cupcakes, Because Succulents are Super-Trendy

Plant lady is the new cat lady. Intrigued? Read on!

I love cupcakes, I love buttercream, and I love a good challenge in the kitchen, so when I saw a picture of some Cacti Cupcakes recently, I thought “I can do that!” And decided to craft my own version. So yes, that’s this week’s recipe! Easy Cacti/Succulent Cupcakes! To be specific, spice cake cupcakes with coconut buttercream frosting. Yum, yum, YUM!!!

I read somewhere recently, that “Plant lady is the new cat lady”, and a) burst out laughing and b) was struck by the truth of it. What am I talking about? Well, lately it seems that succulents are all the rage with the younger (or youngish) crowd. If you are on Instagram (or Insta, as the young’uns say, IG for short), you can’t get away from all the photos of succulents, especially in geometric shaped planters. There’s  a ‘hens and chicks’ succulent pic here, a ‘mother of thousands’ succulent pic there…and then a ‘wandering dude’ plant in the corner, just to round things out.

I’m young enough that I follow trends in things like nail design (I just got my nails did, in a glamorous yet impractical almond-tipped shape), but old enough that I’m more of a cat lady than a plant lady, despite the many plants I have in my home (although to be honest, while succulents are trendy now, cats are kind of universal and will never fall out of fashion. Who doesn’t love a purring kitten?). Nevertheless, I jumped on the design trend, and decided that I wanted to try crafting some cacti in buttercream.

And you can too! It only takes three different icing tips (Wilton 104, 7, and 352) to make these designs.  Shall we? (Honestly, it’s easier than it seems. Don’t be intimidated by how much I’ve typed — I can be verbose at times — and try making these cupcakes yourself!)

My faves! Wilton tips 352 and 104.

Easy Cacti/Succulent Cupcakes

  • 1 batch spice cake batter
  • 1 c. graham cracker crumbs (I used chocolate because that’s what I had, but regular ones would likely imitate sand better)
  • 1 batch coconut buttercream frosting
  • green, pink, and yellow food colouring
  • Wilton tips: 104, 7, and 352
  • plastic piping bags
  • two ice cream cones (the wafer type, not sugar cones)

Bake the cupcakes and let cool. Frost the tops lightly with frosting, and press the iced tops into a bowl of the cookie crumbs, making sure all the buttercream is covered in crumbs. Congrats, you’ve just created the Mojave dessert in cupcake form!

Take two spoonfuls of buttercream and place them in a bowl with two drops of pink food colouring and mix to create the pink buttercream that you will be using for the pink flowered cacti. Then do the same with yellow food colouring to create yellow buttercream. With the remaining buttercream, add enough green food colouring to create the shade of green that you want.

Now, you can decide which cacti/succulents to make.

Wilton tips 7, 352, and 104.

For the spiky tipped cacti, take an ice cream cone, and cut it into two horizontally, where the cone widens. Place the bottom of the cone upside down on a cupcake, and place the top of the cone on top (it will drop down, forming a ring around the base). This gives you a shape to pipe onto, because if we tried to create the entire thing from buttercream, it would be too heavy to support itself (and also, that’s too much buttercream for anyone, even ME!). Using Wilton tip 7, pipe little spikes all over the ice cream cone shape, until the entire thing is covered in little spikes. BAM! You’ve just created a buttercream cacti, yo’! You be talented!

For the flower-topped cacti, use Wilton tip 352, and little spiky leaves in a large circle (not touching in the centre) and then build up layer after layer of leaves on top of each other, each layer in a slightly narrower circle than the previous one, until you’ve created a little plant.

To make little flowers, just google ‘how to pipe an icing rose’ on youtube, and you’ll see a million and three videos just like this one. Try making a flower yourself using tip 104 — they’re super-easy, and look super-fancy! The tutorials usually tell you to use a piping nail, but you could use a very small metal bowl turned upside down, or even just a small square of parchment paper. The piping nail makes it easier, but it’s not crucial.

Once you’ve made the flower, place it on top of your succulents, using a pair of scissors (what a weird, yet useful, technique, yes?). You can see this technique in the video that I’ve linked to, just above. Such a pretty cupcake, yes?

To make the long-lined cacti, take the bottom half of a ice cream cone (using the same cutting technique as before), and ice lightly in green buttercream. Stick on top of a cupcake. Using the same Wilton leaf tip (352) that you used before, angle the tip and pipe thick lines all the way up and down the cone. Then top with a flower. Now that’s a tasty cacti!

All packaged up and ready to be delivered! (This was actually a custom order.)

If you’ve never used piping tips before, they’re honestly not as intimidating as they might seem. I encourage you to pick up a few and play with them! You’ll find that they up your cupcake game, and garner you lots of compliments!

Kitchen Hack: If you don’t have piping bags, you can create a temporary one by reinforcing a Ziploc baggie with packing tape all over to reinforce the seams. (I tried it first without reinforcing the seams, and WHOOSH! Buttercream all over my hands. Learn from my mistake and reinforce the baggie.) Cut the tip off of a corner and place a tip inside the baggie, with the pointing end of the tip just coming out of the corner that you snipped. Et voila! You’ve successfully hacked yourself a piping bag!

Next Post: Hmm. How about a Coconut Apple Spice Cake recipe? Or should I save that for later, and do something hearty to balance out my buttercream posts? Let me know in the comments!

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

Coconut Buttercream Frosting, Plus How I Develop Flavour Combinations

Bubblicious! Also coconutty. And chocolatey. Basically, just fork it up, ’cause it’s just plain yummy!

This Coconut Buttercream Frosting is basically a coconut mouthgasm. Not even kidding, every time someone tried this, their reaction was “Mmmmmffff!” (That’s a happy moan, btw). The magical combination of buttercream and coconut was a happy accident for me, but it’s one that I’ve now made a staple in my icing stable (try saying that three times fast!) and people are always happy to bite into a cupcake topped with this delicious concoction.

Speaking of concoctions, I made chocolate mini cupcakes, then topped them with this coconut buttercream frosting, and then topped that with pearlized gumballs. That’s right, I mixed chocolate, coconut, and bubblegum flavours…and it was a hit! Sometimes there’s just no way of knowing whether a flavour combination will be tasty until you try it.

And you should definitely try making the Coconut Buttercream Frosting!

COCONUT BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • 1/3-1/2 c. coconut oil, room temperature
  • 3 1/2 c. icing sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Whip butter and coconut oil together until thoroughly mixed. Add in icing sugar and vanilla, and mix until combined. Beat on high for at least 10 minutes (this is what makes it super-fluffy and increases the volume of icing). Spoon into piping bag (or spread on a cake with an offset spatula), and enjoy everyone’s happy mouth-gasms!

If you’re a dedicated reader (and I’m sure you all are, right? RIGHT?) you’ll recognize that it’s just a variation of one of my pillar content recipes: The Only Buttercream Recipe You’ll Ever Need. In fact, it can even be played with a bit to make Vegan Coconut Buttercream Frosting, perhaps on top of my Vegan Spice Cake! But that’s a post for another day!

As I said, I topped mini chocolate cupcakes with this (made with my fave chocolate cake recipe) and then topped that with pearlized gumballs because they were just so cute. But you could easily make a triple-layer chocolate cake, ice it with this icing, and then sprinkle shredded sweetened coconut on it, for a Chocolate and Double-Coconut Cake! See how easy it is to combine flavours? I encourage you to play around with flavours yourself. What’s the oddest flavour combination you’ve ever tried, that actually tasted good? Let me know in the comments!

Next Post: Either Coconut Apple Spice Cake (totes lunchbag worthy), or Buttercream Succulent-Topped Cupcakes (totes Instagram worthy). Any preferences? Both are delicious. 

Linking up at Meal Plan Monday!