Category Archives: Cakes

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….

Baby Bunnies! In Mini Cupcake Form. Enough Said!

 

Baby bunnies! OMG sooooo fluffffy!

Baby bunnies! OMG sooooo fluffffy!

I’ve been seeing a lot of bunny type cupcakes on some of the cupcake and cake FB groups that I belong to, and I decided I’d like to make up my own version of them. So yesterday I whipped up 40 of these babies to send to work with the DH this morning.

The recipe is a modification of one that a number of cupcake bakers use, at least according to the afore-mentioned FB groups, but I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t change up a whole bunch of things, just because. Like the lack of eggs. And the presence of ground flax seed. But there’s a connection! I was planning on making these cupcakes for a while, but last night at the 11th hour (technically at the 10th hour, as it was 10 pm), I realized I was out of eggs. However, I have a huuuuge amount of flax seeds just sitting in my fridge (I bought an even huuuuuuger amount from a bakery outlet a while back), so…a flax seed egg it was, or rather two flax seed eggs!

HOW TO MAKE A FLAX SEED EGG (replaces raw egg)

One makes a flax seed egg by mixing a tbsp. of ground flax with 3 tbsp. of water and letting it sit for 10 minutes until the mixture gets all gummy and gooey and takes on a raw egg white texture. It’s basically working as a binder, and it will definitely make your ingredients stick together.

HOW TO MAKE SOUR MILK (replaces buttermilk)

I also made up some sour milk to replace the buttermilk called for in the recipe. I just added a large splash of vinegar (about a 1/2 tsbp.) to a half cup of milk and let it sit for 10 minutes, until chunky. Deeeelicious! (Not really, but good for baking.)

But enough with the chitter-chatter, on to the recipe!

VANILLA COCONUT MINI BUNNY CUPCAKES

You will need:

Make the Vanilla Cupcakes:

(adapted from Natasha’s Kitchen)

  • 1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 flax seed eggs (see recipe above)
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c. oil
  • 1/2 sour milk (see recipe above)
  • 1/2 c. water

Mix everything together until just mixed. It should a very un-thick batter, which is good. And fyi, the combo of baking soda and baking powder is what makes them so light and fluffy. Fill the cups of the mini cupcake tray halfway and bake at 350 degrees until golden on top, about 10 minutes.

Ice and cover in flaked coconut. Try not to eat them all.

Ice and cover in flaked coconut. Try not to eat them all.

Once the mini cupcakes are cooked, ice them thinly with the buttercream icing, using a knife. I talk about buttercream icing more here, but a really nice basic one is just a mixture of equal amounts of butter and shortening, with a dash of vanilla extract, a splash of milk, and a whole bunch of icing sugar, whipped for a long period of time until fluffy. So, ice the cupcakes, then dunk them upside down into a bowl of the shredded coconut.

Using a dab of buttercream frosting, press two bunny ears into the top of the cupcake. And voila, done! Want to know how to make those bunny ears? Couldn’t be easier!

BABY BUNNY EARS

Take a mini marshmallow, and cut it in half diagonally using a pair of scissors. Dip the sticky middles of those two cut pieces into a bowl of the sanding sugar. The sugar will stick only to the inside of the marshmallow, resulting in a pink inner ear. Aren’t they adorable? Too cute!

A bowlful of bunny ears! Squeeee!

A bowlful of bunny ears! Squeeee!

The finished product is too cute as well! The DH took them to work this morning, and apparently everyone loved them! If you like coconut, you could even use coconut oil in place of the shortening in the buttercream, and it would be a coconut buttercream. I’ve done that before and it’s also delish! And just think — between the coconut oil and the flax seed, why these are practically healthy, right? At the very least, the health benefits of the healthy oils balance out the sugar, wouldn’t you say?

These cupcakes would make great bonbons to place at place-settings at Easter dinner, or to make with kids as an Easter weekend crafternoon. If you make some, let me know — I’d love to see pics! I mean, cupcakes and bunnies — what could be cuter?

Next Post: More Dinner Roll Odyssey? Or the Parmesan and Paprika Potato Wedges that I made recently? We shall see!  

Oreo ‘Surprise Inside’ Mini Cupcakes: Deliciousness in an Indulgent Bite!

Can't talk, too busy eating Oreos.

Can’t talk, too busy eating Oreos.

Guess what I made this week? Cupcakes! But not just any ol’ cupcake…I made Oreo ‘Surprise Inside’ Mini Cupcakes! OMG so good! Take a chocolate cupcake, and make some Oreo buttercream to mound on top, then pop a mini Oreo cookie on top of it all. Pausing to visualize and drool? Well, stop drooling and start eating! (News flash: recipe below!)

And…there was a surprise inside of the cupcake! Have you heard of this trend? Basically, you bake a treat into the cupcake. ‘Surprise Inside’ usually doesn’t refer to a filling in a cupcake (although it can), but something more, something a bit unexpected…like a cookie baked into a cupcake!

*M pauses to reminisce silently with her tastebuds* Oh, that Oreo Buttercream Frosting! Tasted like the inside of an Oreo, but instead of in a tiny amount, heaped in frosting form on top of a chocolate cupcake! With another cookie on top AND inside of it! *drooling remembering the deliciousness of it all*

They’re surprisingly easy to make? Shall we? Let’s!

I used this recipe, because it makes the perfect chocolate cake — light, moist, and as fluffy as any packaged cake mix, but without the preservatives. This is my go-to chocolate cake recipe, for sure.

I was making a test batch of this recipe, so I mixed up half a batch of the batter, which made 1 dozen mini Oreo cupcakes, plus enough for another 6-12 minis (I made a mini 3-layer cake instead, because I just got a new mini cake tin that I wanted to try out). You can make 2 dozen mini cupcakes with half of this recipe, is what I’m trying to tell you.

Fill with batter halfway, then top with mini Oreo.

Fill with batter halfway, then top with mini Oreo.

Oreo Surprise Inside Mini Cupcakes

  • 1/2 batch chocolate cake batter
  • 1 batch Oreo Buttercream Frosting (recipe below)
  • 50 mini Oreo cookies (24 cookies for inside the cupcakes, 24 cookies for on top of the cupcakes, plus two for snacking. What, you think your willpower will hold out when faced with Oreos? Yes? Good for you! Me, not going to happen.)

Mix up batter. Place mini cupcake liners in a mini cupcake tray. Fill cupcake liners half full with batter. Place mini Oreo cookie on top of batter. Top up each cupcake liner with more cake batter, until a smidgen below the top of the liner. Cookie may float a bit, but that’s ok. Bake in a 350 degree oven until set and the top of the cupcake bounces back when pressed gently with a finger. Cool. You may notice a slightly differently coloured part on the top of the cupcake if your cookie floated; that’s ok!

Top with more batter, then bake.

Top with more batter, then bake.

Fit a piping bag with a round piping tip, and fill with Oreo buttercream. Make sure you do not use a fine piping tip, because Oreo crumbs will block the tip (ask me how I know) and pipe on cooled cupcakes. Top frosted cupcakes with another mini Oreo cookie. And voila! An impressive mini dessert that tastes as good as it looks!

Oreo Buttercream Frosting

  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 1/2 c. shortening
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. milk
  • about 1 c. icing sugar, or more to taste
  • 20 mini Oreo cookies

Mix butter and shortening together until…mixed. Add in icing sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. Whip until super-fluffy and then whip some more (that’s how you get that super-fluffy bakery style frosting; don’t worry if you think it’s too fluffy, as it’ll firm up later, especially if you chill it). Stir in 20 crushed mini Oreo cookies (crush in a Ziploc bag with a rolling pin). Taste test but try not to eat the entire thing with a spoon. And voila! Oreo Buttercream Frosting (oh, those sweet, sweet words!) is done!

Kitchen Hack: Use a dollar-store ketchup squirter container for easy filling of the cupcake tin with batter. I have an official cupcake batter pour-er thingy, but really the dollar store version is almost as good. Helps avoid the messy dribbles when dealing with small amounts of batter!

Picture done? Time to eat!

Picture done? Time to eat!

I made this batch of cupcakes as a test to see if I liked the flavourings, and it certainly worked out! I brought them to work and they were eaten, every last one. I’ll be baking another batch (but full-size this time) later on in the month to raise funds on National Cupcake Day. Cupcakes, Oreos, and a good cause…these are a few of my favourite things!

If you make a batch of cupcakes, let me know if you switch up the surprise inside — just imagine how they would be with Golden Oreos! Or Mint ones!

Next Post: I have found the perfect dinner roll…after a trial batch or two. That’s right, it’s time for another Recipe Odyssey! Stay tuned for a fail-proof recipe that will gain you friends and influence people. (Or at least their taste-buds!)

Post-Pub Edit: As I’m ever in search of that viral recipe, I’m taking part in another Meal Plan Monday link-up. Check it out here, on Christy Jordan’s blog!