Category Archives: Cakes

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

  • 2/3 c. butter, softened
  • 2/3 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.

Enter the Unexpected: Life, Health, and Chocolate Cake

Gleaming lusciously, just waiting for a fork.

Gleaming lusciously, just waiting for a fork.

I’ve missed a few posts lately for my online bake-a-long group. Why? Life, really. A change of weather brought a never-ending headache with it, and when that finally went away (after a week!), my insomnia went rampant and left me completely sleepless for a night. After 36 hours without a wink of sleep during the busiest time of year for my work, I crashed hard the next night…followed by a headache for a couple of days. Anyway, what with one thing and another, I missed posting. So this is a make-up post!

A make-up post about what? “Betty’s Chocoholic Cake“, from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi. I looked at the picture that Dorie has in her cookbook and it looked a tad dry to me, but also super-duper chocolately and yummy! In order to eat a slice and not feel horribly unhealthy, my dinner tonight was made up of a kale smoothie. My lunch tomorrow? Kale salad.

Me being me, I used chocolate chips from my local Bulk Barn as opposed to 65 % Valhrona chocolate, because my grocery bill is big enough without buying (admittedly delicious) high-end chocolate.

Divots waiting to be filled with ganache.

Divots waiting to be filled with ganache.

Also, I don’t have three cake pans (I have two), so I just baked all the batter in two pans. Not a good idea, as you can see. When I took the cakes out, let them cool, and turned them out, there were little divots in my layers! Nooo! It looked like someone put their fingers in it very ham-fistedly. (“I’ll stick my thumb here, and here, and here, and oh look, here too!”)

Eh, I thought, the ganache will cover that up! And indeed, it did. I topped the cake with shavings/curls from a bar of chocolate that I took a vegetable peeler to, and let it sit for about 30 seconds before taking a knife to it. But before that….

When I finished the cake, I proudly brought it to the DH’s man-cave, where he was working away on his computer.

Me: Look, sweetheart! I made a fancy cake!

DH: Who is that for?

Me: Me!!!

DH *blows me a raspberry*

Ah, love’s young dream, n’est pas? *grin*

But enough witty banter (ha! ha! Banter! ha! *blows raspberry herself*), what was the verdict on the cake, you say?

Oozing chocolate ganache. Actually, this is a desirable thing, wouldn't you say?

Oozing chocolate ganache. Actually, this is a desirable thing, wouldn’t you say?

Not my fave. I’m very disappointed. Too dense, too much like a flourless chocolate cake (avec divots) and super-duper rich and (I hardly knew this was possible) too sweet. Just overall too much. I plan to stick it in the freezer and sloooooowly eat it over the next year. Yes, it’s that intense that a teeny, tiny slice will do ya. And this is me we’re talking about! Chocolate Queen herself! So sadly, whether it’s my substitutions or just my taste, I wouldn’t recommend it.

What I’m actually craving? A kale smoothie. Mmm…I think I’ll have one for breakfast tomorrow!

Next Post: Bread! Buns! Le pain! An odyssey.

Tarte Tropezienne and Finding a Balance in the Kitchen

Patience is a virtue, and this cake is only too happy to teach it to you.

Patience is a virtue, and this cake is only too happy to teach it to you.

When it comes to me and my kitchen time, the DH and I have different views.

The DH alternates between “Why are you baking so much? Bake less or we’ll gain weight!” and “Is it done? Is it done yet? *waits a beat* Now is it done??”

I alternate between throw-it-all-together (pretty much my standard approach) and getting into the slow-food zen of multi-part recipes that take multi parts of my days.

This week’s bake-a-long recipe was a zen sort of experience. My bake-a-long group is making Dorie Greenspan’s Tarte Tropezienne from her Baking Chez Moi cookbook. I hadn’t read the recipe beforehand, just skimmed the ingredient list to make sure I had everything in stock, so it was a bit of a shock to realize that I had to make the dough, let the dough rise, chill the dough, let the dough rise again, roll it out, possibly let it rise again (frankly, I had tuned out after the first rising, so I’m not even sure if this final rising was actually even outlined in the recipe), before even baking the brioche style cake.

Sugar-crusted brioche layers.

Sugar-crusted brioche layers, awkwardly photographed, because no patience.

And after all the rising and the chilling and the losing track of which rising and flattening I was on, then came making the pastry cream. And letting that chill. And then folding in the whipping cream, spreading it inside the (chilled) cake, and then letting that chill. Frankly, it was either scream or…chill. Guess which one I went with?

That’s right, I took a deep breath and chilled out. As much as I love eating the product of my labour (and in fact it is most of the reason I labour at all), I also can appreciate the meditative aspect of a multi-part recipe. Even if I begrudge the waiting for the eating.

The DH, on the other hand, once he accepted that I was baking and he would be *cough* forced *cough* to eat it, he couldn’t wait and hovered over me while I put the cake together. I gave up on the final chilling, and just photographed it and we ate half of one of the two mini tartes that I had made. Then I chilled the rest. Am now lying on the sofa and…wait for it…chilling, while I write up my post.

Looking light, but full of eggs and butter.

Looking light, but full of eggs and butter. Alternative caption: Awkward cake is deliciously awkward.

My final take on this recipe? Is good. I found the pastry cream a tad too eggy for my taste (even after adding in a splash of rum), but it is a nice light (in texture, albeit not calories) treat to serve with tea. Which, actually, I shall be doing! I’m throwing a tea tasting later on this week, so I’ve frozen one of the tartes according to Dorie’s instructions. Hopefully it thaws well! At any rate, it’ll be well chilled! *tee hee hee*

Next Post: Dinner Roll Odyssey! Or something else. Maybe mini mint chocolate cupcakes? Mmm….