A Birthday Cake for Dad

 

A

Yesterday was my Dad’s birthday, and I made him a four-layer red velvet cake with chocolate mousse and cream cheese icing. I hadn’t baked a cake in ages, so I wanted to go all out and make a pretty epic cake!

B

Inspired by a post I saw on Pinterest (http://www.polkadotbride.com/2012/10/diy-cake-decorating-ruffled-rose-tutorial/), I made a gumpaste flower to sit on top of the cake.

D

I combined gumpaste powder, water, pink gel colour, and kneaded the paste, rolling out a thin sheet. I used four different sized circle cutters and then used scissors to shape the circles into flowers. I pressed the petals of the flowers to make them thinner, and more realistic, and let them dry for a couple of hours. Using frosting, I glued the layers together, and placed some nonpareils on the smallest flower layer.

C

This red velvet cake is one of my favourite recipes, and one you’ve already seen on the blog (http://sweetlittlebrownies.wordpress.com/2013/05/11/red-velvet-cake-with-white-chocolate-buttercream/). I halved the recipe to bake two 6” layers, and sliced the layers in half, to make four. I made chocolate mousse and vanilla cream cheese frostings, for which I’ve included the recipes below. To assemble the cake, use the vanilla cream cheese frosting to outline the perimeter of the bottom cake layer, and fill the middle with chocolate mousse; repeat this for the next 3 layers. Once all four layers are assembled, use cream cheese buttercream to frost the entire cake.

E

For the first time, I used store-bought Wilton frosting to cover the cake. Personally, I think homemade marshmallow fondant is the best option, because it is cheaper and tastes much better. I was so overwhelmed with awe at the fondant flower technique, and I knew I had to try it! Luckily, I found this great YouTube tutorial (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qvk3ek7FQt8&feature=youtu.be).

F

Finally, I painted some edible glitter dust on the ruffles of the roses. All in all, the cake turned out nicely! Happy Birthday, Dad! <3

G

See you next time,

 

-G

Chocolate Mousse Filling

http://www.sweetandsavorybyshinee.com/supreme-chocolate-cake-with-chocolate-mousse-filling/

(I used half of this recipe)

  1. • ½ cup hot water
  2. • 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  3. • ½ teaspoon instant espresso coffee
  4. • 1 ½ cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  5. • 2 cups heavy cream, cold
  6. • 2 tablespoons sugar
  7. • 1/3 cup Nutella

 

  • In a small bowl, dissolve cocoa powder and instant espresso powder in a hot water.
  • In a double boiler, melt chocolate chips until nice and smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
  • In a mixing bowl with whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream with the sugar until hard peaks form.
  • Stir in the cocoa mixture and Nutella into the melted chocolate. Add half of the whipped cream and mix everything together with folding motion. Fold in the remaining whipped cream and mix well until no white streaks remain. Refrigerate until the cake is cooled completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/cream-cheese-frosting-recipe.html

Ingredients
4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until smooth and creamy. Beat in the vanilla extract.

 

Croquembouche

Image

Take a chance. Try something new and difficult. That’s my lesson for the day! I recently started the “100 Happy Days Challenge” on Instagram, and I’m trying to do things that I’ve been putting off due to lack of time and energy, or purely because fear of failure. One such project is making a Croquembouche. What is that? It’s a tower of cream puffs wrapped in a cage made of spun sugar. Every component of this dessert was new to me, and (in my mind, at least) difficult to make. Of course, given the right amount of time, patience, and guidance from Food 52, nothing is impossible!

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The first step is to make the pastry cream. You need very basic ingredients for this: egg yolks, whole milk, butter, cornstarch, sugar, and vanilla. All things you have in your kitchen, I’m sure. It’s so simple, but so versatile! You can use the pastry cream to fill cakes, eclairs, tarts, and more.

Next, the pate choux, or choux pastry. Easy peasy! Just follow the instructions in the recipe below, and pipe 1 inch rounds onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15-17 minutes at 375 degrees. Once cooled, fill the puffs with pastry cream, and set aside.

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To make the caramel, heat up sugar and water until it becomes a very pale amber. Use this as glue to stick together the cream puffs, and build a tower. For the sugar cage, grab yourself a fork, dip it in the caramel, and twirl all over the tower. Keep doing this until you are satisfied with the way the croquembouche looks.

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It honestly appears so much more difficult that it is, and by the time you’re done, you’ll feel like a professional pastry chef!

Enjoy your weekend,

-G

Croquembouche

Recipe adapted from: http://food52.com/recipes/25406-croquembouche

Serves 4

Pate Choux

  • 1/2cup water
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2+ 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 eggs
Pastry Cream

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/8 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. On medium-high heat bring the water, butter, sugar, and salt to a simmer. When the butter has completely melted, add the flour and mix vigorously with a wooden spoon. With every bit of elbow grease you can muster, continue mixing for 4 minutes. A mass of dough will form and it will begin to come away from the sides and bottom of the pot. Remove from the heat and transfer dough to a stand mixer outfitted with a paddle attachment. Add eggs one at a time, making sure each is consumed by the dough before you add the next. You can also leave it in the pot and mix by hand.
  3. Cool for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally to release steam. When cool enough to handle, transfer into a piping bag. Pipe out 1-inch rounds. Smooth out any pointy peaks by dipping your finger in water and gently pressing them out; this will ensure an even bake. Bake until golden brown, approximately 20 minutes. Allow them to cool then fill them with pastry cream.
  4. For the pastry cream: In a small heavy-bottomed pot, warm the milk gently to a simmer. If you want to flavor your pastry cream, do so now: You can use vanilla, lavender, or even a chai tea bag. Allow a half hour for the flavors to mature, and then reheat back to a simmer.
  5. Meanwhile, mix the sugar, salt, yolks, and cornstarch together in a bowl. Temper by adding half of the hot milk into eggs, whisking feverishly. Add the egg mixture back to the milk and stir constantly with a wooden spoon on medium high heat until it coats the back of the spoon. Immediately transfer to a bowl and stir a couple minutes to cool down, then add the butter and mix well. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the cream so as not to create a skin. Chill until completely cooled.
  6. Transfer to a piping bag, poke each cream puff gently with the tip of the bag, and fill.
  7. For caramel, place 1/3 cups of sugar and 2 tbsp of water in a pan, stir to combine, and cover. Cook over medium-high for about 15 minutes, until the caramel is a light amber.
  8. With tongs, gently dip each cream puff into the caramel and begin to start stacking your croquembouche. Make sure your base is sturdy and continue upwards. Once you are done mounting reheat, your caramel until it turns a darker shade of amber. Allow to cool for a few minutes until it resembles the constituency of honey, then with a spoon drizzle it about, try to get thin stings of the caramel to wrap around. I also drizzled some ganache over everything and dusted it with powdered sugar.
  9. Eat within 2 to 3 hours, as the caramel will start to soften

Apple Cake

It’s birthday time again in my family and that means time for me to make some cakes. My parents never tell me what kind of cake they want so it usually turns into me baking whatever I want. This year my dads’ birthday was the same day I got home so I had to bake this cake in a hurry. And what’s quicker than apple cake? Ok, there’s probably plenty that’s quicker, but not the point. I thought this came out pretty well. One of those desserts that tastes better the next day. The topping gives it a glorious caramelized appearance and taste :) IMG_4745

Pretty straight forward instructions to follow here…Image (5)

Bake and enjoy!IMG_4754

-S

Recipe adapted from http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Apple-Cake-IV/Detail.aspx?evt19=1&scale=12&ismetric=0

Ingredients

2 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced

1 cup flour

Dash salt

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp baking powder

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla

2/3 cup walnuts (I didn’t have any on hand, but if I did I would definitely add them in)

Topping: 2 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) lightly grease and flour a 9×13 inch pan.
  • Sift together flour, salt, cinnamon and baking powder. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar for 15 minutes on high speed with an electric mixer. Add oil and blend in.
  • Add four mixture and mix well. Add vanilla. Fold in apples and nuts. Pour batter into 9×13 inch pan.
  • In a small bowl, mix 4 teaspoons sugar with 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Sprinkle over cake.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.

Pomegranate Pound Cake

Today was one of those times where I ate dinner and then thought “what’s for dessert?” Since “nothing” was the answer to that question, I looked around for something that could be the main ingredient for a treat. And I found… a pomegranate. Granted, I think I left this particular pomegranate a little too long but hey, it’s just going to be baked with, so it’s all good. When I googled pomegranate desserts, the results were pretty underwhelming. Most of what I got was sorbets and syrups, neither of which was happening (it’s like -30 degrees Celsius on the regular here… not a fan). Instead I came across the idea of a pomegranate pound cake and decided to try it out. IMG_4827

Since being home for the holidays means access to a standing mixer, here we go… butter, sugar, and eggs. Most recipes I came across included buttermilk, and if you’ve got buttermilk in your fridge, respect to you, your life is probably pretty together. I used almond milk with a tsp of vinegar. Add in some lemon zest and baking soda then it’s time for the flour.

Image (2)Bake away! Then since I used one of these nice pans, time to stress yourself about getting it out of the pan. Lets see how this goes… Image (4)

Semi-success! Try it out :)

- S

Recipe adapted from http://gratineeblog.com/2009/12/holiday-baking-pomegranate-pound-cake/

Ingredients

¾ cup sugar

6 tbsp margarine

3 eggs

zest form 1 lemon

¾ cup milk + 1 tsp vinegar

2 tsp vanilla

dask salt

½ tsp baking soda

2 cups flour

Seeds from 1 pomegrante

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Beat sugar and butter, add eggs and beat well.
  3. Combine milk, vinegar, lemon zest, vanilla, and baking soda. Add to butter and sugar.
  4. Add flour and mix.
  5. Fold in pomegranate seeds.
  6. Bake for 1 hour.

Christmas Cookie Madness!

When you’ve been having a tough week, it really helps though when you call your parents and they tell you that they got you the gift of your dreams! Something I’ve been thinking about getting for the past couple of years. They bought a KitchenAid Stand Mixer! OMGS, I essentially combusted due to the excitement!

Sooo of course, once I got home I had to bake up a storm. Also, my Pinterest has been flooded with so many delicious looking Christmas cookies, that I just had to try a few different ones. The three I decided upon were: itty bitty sugar cookie sandwiches, light gingerbread, and brownie cookies.

Screen Shot 2013-12-23 at 6.58.28 PM

First, let’s talk about the mini sugar cookie sandwiches. This is a Baker’s Royale recipe I’ve made a few times now, and I really love it! It takes no time to mix up, bake, and fill. Another plus is that this recipe is egg-free, so if you have an allergy or just don’t have eggs around, this is the perfect recipe for you! I made the dough, rolled it in various sprinkles and sanding sugars, and baked at 350 for exactly 8 minutes. Put the cookies in the freezer to cool completely, and in the meantime, make your favourite vanilla buttercream. Once cooled, pipe some buttercream onto the centre of each cookie, and squish together with another cookie of a similar size. These are a classic at my house, now!

Screen Shot 2013-12-23 at 6.58.37 PM

The gingerbread cookies are actually more like gingerbread-spiced shortbread cookies. They have a very light spice flavor, while the shortbread texture and taste really comes through as well. I received this recipe from a family friend, and it was originally published in a children’s picture book called Gingerbread Mouse. I’m not a huge fan of legitimate gingerbread cookies, so these were perfect! I had some leftover buttercream from the sandwich cookies so I spread it on, and topped the cookie with green sanding sugar and a star sprinkle.

Screen Shot 2013-12-23 at 6.58.56 PM

Now for the masterpiece: Brownie Cookies! This recipe is modified from Bakerella’s “Comfort Cookies” post, and is honestly the best combination of brownies and cookies I have ever had. Go ahead and add any combination of nuts and chocolate chips, because the more stuff that’s in it, the better it will taste.

All three of these cookies make great gifts, tea time treats, and would be great to leave out for Santa!

Have a great Holiday Season, and see you soon!

-G

Itty Bitty Sugar Cookie Sandwiches

Source: Baker’s Royale

Makes 36 sandwiches

1 cup butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup icing sugar, 1/4 cup plain white sugar

1 tbsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups all purpose flour

Sanding sugar, or sprinkles, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Cream butter, sugars, salt until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and beat.

3. Add flour and beat until just combined.

4. Scoop by tsp and roll  into balls. Roll around in sanding sugar or sprinkles.

5. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until bottoms are golden.

6. Fill with buttercream (use any recipe you like), and make sandwiches.

Gingerbread-spiced Shortbread Cookies

Makes 24 large cookies

2 1/2 cups All purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp ground ginger

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon OR pumpkin pie spice

1 3/4 sticks butter (14 tbsp)

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1. Mix up dry ingredients.

2. Beat butter and sugar until creamy; then add egg and vanilla.

3. Stir dry ingredients into butter mixture.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll out dough and chill until firm.

5. Use cookie cutters to make shapes, and bake for 8-10 minutes.

Brownie Cookies

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, slightly softened
1/2 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a small bowl, mix flour, cocoa, soda and salt using a wire whisk and set aside.
  • In another bowl, cream butter, sugars and peanut butter until light and fluffy.
  • Add eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.
  • Add flour mixture to creamed mixture and mix until combined.
  • Stir in dark chocolate chips.
  • Roll cookie dough into 1-1/4 inch balls. (If desired, roll balls in chopped pecans.)
  • Place on parchment paper covered baking sheet.
  • Bake 10 minutes.
  • Place cookies on cookie rack to cool.
  • Makes about 30 2-inch cookies.