Category Archives: chocolate

July’s cakes

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Oh my goodness – July has been busy… my little kitchen oven has been working as hard as the sun this summer month….

My neighbor called me on behalf of her friend for a birthday cake.  A birthday cake shaped like an owl for her 3-year-old daughter’s birthday (seriously, I love kids today!  My cake was still a slab or a round…ohhhhh).

Then I had a New York city cake.  This was set on a girl leaving for New York University in the fall.  I wanted this to be girlie and fun.  Think “Sex & the City” – in cake form.

So what’s NYC without buildings?

Or Broadway??  I took pieces of fondant and drew on iconic broadway posters – my favourite (to draw and watching the actual performance) was “Wicked”.

I even created fondant pieces of shopping bags and of course the Tiffany jewelry box.  What is NYC with some hardcore shopping?!

Put it all together and you’ve got my interpretation of a girlie view of NYC!

My next cake I did was an ANGRY BIRDS SPACE!  I have been looking forward to doing this cake since it was first requested!  Why, you ask?  Because I’m a geek and a fan of the entire angry birds series of games …  don’t believe me?  Look at my iPhone (then shake your head).  Hehehe.

Creating all the Angry Bird characters makes me happy.  Can’t you tell?

Then I created the moon.  I’m so proud of how it looked.

Throw on a bunch of angry birds and one scared green pig…and voila!

The last cake I created for July was a cake for my husband.  He celebrated his 35th birthday.  Coming up with an idea for his cake took a lot longer than my 5-year-old coming to a decision on her cake.  After much back and forth….originally he wanted a Guiness can cake, then a hamburger (he had that one last year), he finally decided on a BBQ cake.

This included 2 “skewers” of fondant meat and green peppers and button mushrooms.  And yes I made sure to marble the meat – BBQ grill masters be proud!

So that’s a summary of my sweet July.

Bring on August…. more cakes to come

The Merry “Marry” Month of May

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To say that I’ve been busy this month is an understatement!

This month I have been busy making cakes and over 100 gum paste daisies. Yep – you read that right.  Over One Hundred gum paste Gerber daisies.  For those of you thinking, “What?!  That’s crazy!” … where were you earlier?!?

The daisies were for my best friend’s little sister’s very anticipated wedding.  Years, months, days and seconds went into planning the incredible event.  And in the whirlwind of wedding planning bliss, I was asked to make the wedding cake and cupcakes.  Yay!

So on May 1st, I started making little Gerber daisies….

And I didn’t stop until the Tuesday before the wedding (true story).

The lovely bride requested a simple wedding cake (vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream), covered in blue fondant and white Gerber daisies (of course).  And the cupcakes (approximately 132) were evenly divided between vanilla bean and chocolate, all topped with buttercream icing and a daisy.

This was my first time displaying all my baking efforts for a wedding, so finding the perfect looking cupcake tower was a must.  I love the look of cupcake towers – my sister had one for her wedding 2 years ago and there are a variety all over the internet now a days.  I finally found it at Golda’s Kitchen – a simple round 6 tier tower that I can easily decorate with whatever ribbon accent along the edge.

Very pretty isn’t it?

It’s prettier completely filled too!

As an additional surprise the bride requested a grooms cake for the rehearsal dinner.  Because the groom is a HUGE Boston Red Sox fan, she asked for a simple baseball cap.  Love it!  The groom apparently couldn’t get enough of it during the dinner, pretending to wear it or place it on everyone elses head.  LOL.  I’m just glad it was a hit.

 

I have to admit that doing this wedding, delivering the cakes and cupcakes to the reception hall, and walking all the boxes straight into the large walk-in freezer of the kitchen made me feel like a real cake designer.  The feeling was continued into the next day when I arrived to set up the cupcake tower and set up “my vision”.

And the wave of pride seeing the happy couple next to their cakes just made my spirit soar.

Congratulations to Ashley and Christopher.

May all your days see sunshine and daisies.

Cake Pops – Take 2

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Hello again….  Remember me?

Apparently the last time I posted in my blog was mid April and now it’s mid June…. I can’t believe it’s been that long.  But don’t take my absence from the online blogging world to mean that I was just sitting around twiddling my thumbs.  Well, okay … I did that too, but I’ve also been busy baking up a storm….

This weekend was actually the last order from a string of cakes that has not stopped since the beginning of the month.  Yeah for keeping busy among sweets!  The cakes I’ve worked on I’ll post soon enough, but for now let me share with you my second try at CAKE POPS!  (I don’t know why, but it seems like there has to be an emphasis on the word “CAKE POPS” with an exclamation point – but it’s not like I’m going around screaming this at anyone)

Remember my last attempt at this cute treat?  Think back – my March 14 blog.  Think the yellow blobs of candy coating, surrounding the too moist balls of cake that slide off the sticks and made more of a mess than the few pictures I posted that actually survived to tell the tale?  Yeah, those…..  Well for some reason I actually forgot all this when my daughter’s dance teacher asked for baking volunteers to lend their services to the studios bake sale during their season end recital.  She asked if instead of cupcakes, if I could come up with a basket that would be used for the raffle.  You see where this is going, right???

So I baked two cakes: vanilla and chocolate.

And crumbled them down to crumbs.

This time around, I only added about half a container of icing to the crumbs and worked it in to the batches completely.  The texture was still moist but much more easier to compact into firm little 2″ balls.  They firmed up more in the fridge over night.

Melting down dark chocolate in one bowl and pink chocolate in another bowl via the microwave, I was ready to go to work with small groups of five balls of cake.  This is the key – work in small batches, leaving the rest in the fridge until ready so that they don’t warm up and loose that firm shape needed when you slip the lollipop stick into place.

Chocolate cake balls were surrounded by pink coating and vanilla cake balls were surrounded by the dark chocolate.  For extra measure, I switched colours for contrast as a topping.

And Voila!

As part of the presentation I wanted to display these in a decorated box, with cake spilling out of it.  I then took the time to wrap each individual cake pop using clear lollipop wrappers (look in Michael’s or any bake store).  Yes, I wrapped each one.  Every. Single. One.

If you actually counted out each one by the pictures above, that would be 40 cake pops.  40 individually wrapped cake pops.  Yes, a little labour intensive, but really well worth the effort when you look at the finish result.

And when I lingered around the raffle tables watching people slip pieces of paper into the decorated boxes next to their coveted prize, I could hear the soft murmur of “oohs” and “awes” at my basket.  I have to admit it was flattering to watch people dropping off tickets for my cake pops.  And when I glanced into the top of the raffle box – while trying to seem nonchalant about it – I grinned at how many pieces of paper were already inside.  I stayed around long enough (lingering in the background of everyone else) to see the excited look of the winner of my efforts proudly claim her prize as her family looked hungrily on.

It’s moments like that,that make all of this so worth while…..

Guinness Cupcakes

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Wear green.  Hug a leprechaun.  Kiss someone Irish.  Have a beer.

I have to confess something here…I hate beer.  Never liked the taste of it.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ll drink wine, cosmos, Smirnoff ice, long island ice teas, whiskey sours…sigh, the list goes on…but I just never got into beer.

Well, there is one beer that I will drink ….

GUINNESS

Half expected something on the lighter end of the spectrum?  Odd, I know. 

And in honor of St. Patty’s day I wanted to incorporate this cool, black liquid into a chocolate cupcake.  When I told my chocoholic Irish husband that this would be my next baking project, he literally jumped in the car to buy me several cans of the tasty beer.

I used up nearly an entire can of Guinness (the 1/4 of the liquid left over was promptly swallowed up by hubby).  Mixing in all the liquids together, you’re left with a light brown, fizzing concoction that smells faintly of beer and coffee (to me at least).  In a separate bowl, all the dry ingredients were added – including the unsweetened cocoa powder.  Adding dry to wet, I can still smell the prominent alcohol smell of the Guinness and wonder if this will be as strong as it smells once it bakes….

At least I know it will be “airy” – see the bubbles in the batter?

Once it finished baking (the recipe ended up making approx. 27 cupcakes), my kitchen was warmly overwhelmed with the subtle, sweet smell of chocolate.  No strong beer smell emitting itself from these warm brown cakes.  Phew

Allowing them to completely cool, I decided to top them off with the Swiss Meringue buttercream.  I debated if I should food colour them green.  ‘Tis the season….. My husband immediately nixed the idea, noting that a pint of Guinness has a white foamy head when poured.  Ahhhhhh!!!  Chocolate cupcake with a white, “foamy” topping.  See the connection??  

The cupcake itself tastes wonderful.  It isn’t overly chocolately and it’s delightfully light and airy.  The taste of Guinness is nicely subtle and balanced.  It works well with the swiss meringue buttercream also.  Will definitely have to bake this again for other non-green related holidays.  Hubby is ecstatic!

Everyone raise your cupcakes!  Cheers!!

L

Guinness Cupcakes (adapted from My baking addiction)

Ingredients

  • 3/4 can Guinness Stout
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the Guinness, milk, vegetable oil and vanilla.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Add and mix the sour cream.  In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugar, flour and baking soda.  Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet Guinness mixture.  Divide the batter among lined cupcake tin.  Bake for 25 minutes, until cupcakes have risen and set in the middle but still soft and tender.   Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Makes approx. 24 – 28 cupcakes

Swiss Meringue Vanilla Buttercream (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 3 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk egg whites and sugar together in a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water.  Whisk occasionally until you can’t feel the sugar granules when you rub the mixture between your fingers.

Transfer the mixture into the mixer and whip until it turns white and about doubles in size.  Add the vanilla.  (Tip: when you transfer to the mixer, make sure you wipe the condensation off the bottom of the metal bowl, so that no water gets into the egg whites.  This can keep them from whipping up properly)

Finally add the butter a stick at a time and whip, whip, whip!  (Note: Do not start to panic when this takes a while to come together.  It will.  Patience!)

Cake Decorating 101 continued….

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I had my last cake decorating class at Golda’s Kitchen last night.  We were asked to bring in a smooth iced cake.  Yeah, mine didn’t exactly turn out that way – but I’m learning so that didn’t bother me.

In the end I decorated my cake with sad “melting” highlighter pink roses (my icing didn’t turn out stiff enough – no matter how much loose icing sugar I kept throwing at it!!) and black piped on dots and lines. 

Among the sea of other sugar confections all brightly coloured, I loved that mine seemed to stand out in its own right.

And in the end, I got my certificate of completion.

Now onto the next cake decorating class…. creating flowers.  Yeah

L

Chocolate Cake with a Twist

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The 8th challenge for The Sweetest Kitchen Mystery Box Cupcake Challenge is: chocolate cake – with a twist.  Unfortunately I missed the deadline, but still created the cupcake just for fun…. 

Anyways, chocolate Cake – with a twist…sounds simple enough.  Chocolate cake with the addition of another “interesting” ingredient.  So what to add?  When you really think about it,  the ideas of what to add to chocolate are limitless.

In the end I reached all the way back to my childhood…and thoughts of ube came to mind.  What is ube, you ask?  Well simply it’s purple yam.  When I was a kid my favourite colour was purple – so what is more fantastic to a 6-year-old than to eat something purple, than that?  Okay, okay – not a lot of kids are like me and are willing to eat yam (in any colour for that matter), but I did. 

And now here I am wanting to add it into a cupcake! 

Part of this challenge was to add the mystery ingredient into a chocolate cake.  With that said, I didn’t want to add the ube to a dark or milk chocolate, should the flavour of the yam completely be masked by the chocolate…so the white chocolate cake route I go.  Then off to the nearest asian food market I go in search of ube jam…..if you’ve never been to an asian food market, I totally recommend it if only once in your life.  I am one of those types of people who enjoys noise and chaos and crowds (to a point) and there is a type of hustle and bustle confined within the tightly packed walls of this grocery store – something I don’t exactly feel in the grocery store down the street from my house.   

As I turn an aisle looking for ube jam – I eventually come across it on shelves upon shelves of brightly coloured exotic fruits and beans packed in syrups.

I also pick up some pandan extract – I wanted something more “exotic” than vanilla.  *NOTE: Pandan is GREEN – like GREEN GREEN.  Adding in purple food colour to mask the green is a good idea at this point.

Creating my white chocolate cake base is the easy part.  Like I’ve said before, I’m a busy mommy of two, and if I can take the easy route sometimes in baking, I’ll take it.  After adding the ube jam and a teaspoon of purple food colouring (I really wanted this to look purple!), the batter looks like this…

Scoop the batter into lined cupcake tins.

When it comes out of the oven, it should look like these yummy little purple morsels.

Not to overshadow the ube’s delicate flavour, I opted with a simple vanilla buttercream icing.  I think it compliments it fairly nicely.

And there you have it, my childhood baked into a warm and delicious cupcake.  Enjoy.

White Chocolate & Ube Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1 jar Ube – purple yam spread
  • 1 tsp pandan extract or 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 – 2 tsp Wilton purple colour gel

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Mix the first four ingredients together.  Add the Ube jam, extract and food colour and mix until well incorporated.  Scoop into pre-lined cupcake tin and bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into centre of cake comes out clean.  Cool and top with vanilla buttercream or preferred icing.

Bacon & Chocolate?

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So I’ve been reading alot of other blogs and posts about this unusual combo lately.  And wondering to myself, do I dare?  I have to it admit that it’s intriguing because for most people it seems so unusual to combine the two.  The reactions I got from my friends when I mentioned I’d be making it sometime in the near future was a cross between doubt and intimidation. 

But really I can see why they can go well together.  It’s the salty-sweet element that many of us crave. Okay, at least I do….

So I started off cooking half a package of bacon.  I really should have cooked up more, because I have an 18 month old little boy who adores bacon and once he figured what I was doing, well, he turned into the most sweet faced vulture I have ever seen.  Let’s just say, the ones that made it into the cupcake batter were the lucky ones.  Hehehe….

Once they were cooled, I started chopping them into smaller pieces . 

You want to make enough to make at least half a cup when cut up into small pieces.  I think I made just enough to reach the half way point – remember my little vulture ate some of them too.

Instead of making a chocolate batter from scratch, I took the easy route and simply used a chocolate cake mix.  Sometimes you can’t beat using a cake mix…especially when you know you’re running low on ingredients to make cupcakes from scratch and it’s too cold to go out to the store and the snow is blowing…. hmmm I digress…

Anyways, mix all the ingredients according to the box instructions.  I added bacon last because I didn’t want them breaking to even smaller pieces, and just simply folded them into the batter, until it was completely incorporated.  Then pour into cupcake lined cupcake pan and bake according to the box and wait….

Tah-da!

Yah, I know it looks like your everyday chocolate cupcake …( this one is topped with a sweet maple buttercream icing) but oh, how looks can be so deceiving.  Biting into this cupcake, you are hit with both chocolatey sweetness and tiny spots of salty bacon spotted through-out. 

It’s really crazy, but oddly it actually works.  Enjoy!

L