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 (https://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! ❤

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.

 

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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.

THE Vanilla Cake

Hiiii! I know I haven’t posted anything for a few weeks, and I am so sorry! Sooo to compensate, I have for you CAKE! We recently celebrated a big birthday, and thus, a special birthday cake was in order for my brother.

1

Every single year, about a month before his birthday, I ask my brother what kind of cake he wants. I’m always hatching a plan for an extravagant cake, and he always asks for a plain vanilla cake. Just a white cake with white frosting. No fancy decorations or fun flavour combinations. Being a pizzazz-loving person, I cannot accept this, so we usually end up getting him a store-bought vanilla cake.

2

This year, I thought I would finally give in to his demands, and bake the plainest cake of all time. Luckily, it just so happens that I found a new vanilla cake recipe, which claims to be the “best”. I’m constantly on the hunt for a better recipe, and mayhaps this is it. I used this recipe that I had pinned on Pinterest a while back: http://sweetapolita.com/2012/06/how-to-make-a-perfectly-delightful-vanilla-birthday-cake/. It was just perfect! I often find that homemade vanilla cakes never really turn out as fluffy and as moist as store bought vanilla cakes, but this one was just to die for.  I made a 6” two layer round cake by halving the recipe. To make sure it stayed extra moist, I made a simple syrup of equal parts water and sugar, and brushed it on both layers after they cooled.

3

To decorate it, I frosted the outside of the cake with our favourite fluffy buttercream, which is literally THE BEST. Oh, by the way, if you ever make it, and it ends up a teensy bit runnier than you would like it, just throw it in the freezer for 10 minutes, and it will firm up! For the frosting in the middle, I wanted to try this cool effect I saw on Foodgawker. I made a plain jane vanilla buttercream, and a Nutella buttercream (the recipes are below), and I piped concentric circles of alternating frostings. You want it to look like a target, and when you cut it, you will get a cool effect!

4

Now, for the glitz! I was at the baking supply shop, and I found this edible silver dust (http://www.wilton.com/store/site/product.cfm?sku=pg_pearldust)! I made a stencil of a symbol that my brother wanted on his cake, and just dusted the silver dust on the surface of the cake with a metal sieve.

5

It was a special day and a great cake! I hope this cake makes up for my absence, and I’ll see you again as soon as I can!

Enjoy,

G

THE Vanilla Cake

Adapted slightly from: http://sweetapolita.com/2012/06/how-to-make-a-perfectly-delightful-vanilla-birthday-cake/

Yield: One 2-layer, 6-inch round cake

Ingredients

¾ cup milk, at room temperature

3 egg whites, at room temperature

1 whole egg, at room temperature

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 ¾ cup flour + 2 tbsp corn starch, sifted

1 cup + 2 tbsp sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

¾ sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes

3 tablespoons vegetable shortening

 

Simple Syrup

¼ cup water

¼ cup sugar

Combine, and heat in microwave until sugar is dissolved.

           

Instructions

1. Grease, line with parchment and flour two round 6-inch pans. I use Parchment Paper Circles for ease.

2. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease, line with parchment and flour two round 6-inch pans. I use Parchment Paper Circles for ease.

3. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir 1/4 cup of the milk, stir the egg whites, whole egg, vanilla. Set aside.

4. Sift flour and cornstarch. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients, including the sugar, together on low-speed (I use the “stir” setting on my mixer) for 30 seconds.

5. Add the butter and shortening, blending on low-speed for about 30 seconds, then add remaining 1/2 cup of milk, and mix on low-speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 1 -1/2 minutes (90 seconds), but no more.

6. Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg/milk/extract mixture in 3 separate batches; beat on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition.

7. Pour 1/2 of your batter into each prepared pan spreading it evenly with a small offset palette knife.

8. Bake cake layers in center of oven and 20-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes clean when inserted into the center. Check cake at 20 minutes, but not before, and once you feel it’s almost ready, set the timer for 2 minute intervals. Let cool on racks for 10 minutes before loosening the sides with a small metal spatula, and invert onto greased wire racks. Gently turn cakes back up, so the tops are up and cool completely.

9. Once cool, brush on simple syrup.

Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream

(Source: Baker’s Royale)

Ices 2 layer 6” Cake

Ingredients:

3 egg whites

¾ cup sugar

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed

tiny pinch of salt

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1) Combine egg whites and sugar in a bowl placed over simmering water. Bring mixture to 150 degrees F while whisking constantly.

2) Transfer mixture to stand mixer bowl, fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on medium speed until mixture cools and doubles in volume.

3) Add butter one piece at a time, mixing to incorporate after each addition. Add salt and vanilla and mix to combine.   The frosting may appear to look separated, keep mixing and it will come together (this commonly happens when making Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

Vanilla Buttercream

¼ cup butter

1 cup icing sugar

1/8 – ¼ tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp milk

Beat all ingredients together using an electric mixer.

Nutella Buttercream

¼ cup butter

1 cup icing sugar

2 tbsp Nutella

1/8 – ¼ tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp milk

Beat all ingredients together using an electric mixer.

Blue Baby Shower Cake!

Hello!

We’ve been making up for lost baking time at Sweet Little Brownies! This week, I have for you, a beautiful baby shower cake! The highlight of this cake is pretty much the frosting technique, which is stunning. The mom-to-be is expecting a baby boy, and so the theme of the cake was baby blue.

1

Making this cake was a bit of a process, in that I made the fondant decorations the day before, and then spent the next day baking and decorating. To make the fondant toppers, I used homemade marshmallow fondant, for which the recipe can be found here: http://whatscookingamerica.net/PegW/Fondant.htm. It is super easy, and actually tastes good, compared to traditional fondant. S came up with the idea of making baby blocks to put on top of the cake. I simply cut out cubes of fondant, and decorated them with buttercream. To make the elephant, I used a shape that I printed out, as a stencil to cut the fondant. Don’t be intimidated by fondant – it will be worth the effort!

2

I made a funfetti vanilla cake with blue sprinkles to go with the theme of the cake. I used a new recipe from I am Baker (it is listed below), and I thought it was quite good, but not as fluffy as I would have liked. The White Velvet cake posted in the Happy Diwali post is still my go-to white cake recipe!

I wanted to incorporate both the Petal frosting technique and an ombre effect, so I decided to make a diagonal blue pattern with the dots. I loved the look of the frosting so much! There’s a photo tutorial on this website: http://www.mycakeschool.com/blog/pretty-petal-effect/.

PhotoGrid_1371511615805

I first put a crumb coat of my favourite buttercream (https://sweetlittlebrownies.wordpress.com/2012/10/29/me-love-coookies/) on the cooled cake, I separated the remaining frosting into three bowls. Two of the bowls were tinted different shades of blue using Wilton Royal Blue gel colour. The remaining frosting was left white. I filled three plastic pastry bags with the frosting, and piped dots onto the cake (I did not use a tip). Then, using my icing spatula streaked the frosting dots to the right. It is MUCH easier than it looks, but does take some time to finish. Just put on some Maroon 5, and you wont notice the time go by!

The cake was yummy and beautiful! I hope you try it out! All of the high quality photos are taken and edited by V – thank you!

5

Thanks for coming by,

-G

The Perfect White Cake
From: I am Baker

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup milk at room temperature
  • 6 large egg whites at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened but still cool

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two 8-inch cake pans.
  2. Make sure milk and eggs are room temperature.
  3. Pour milk (I used skim) , egg whites, and extracts into medium bowl and mix with fork until blended.
  4. Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of electric mixer at slow speed. Add butter, cut into cubes and continue beating on low for about 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture to flour mixture and beat at medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat for about 1 minute.
  6. Pour batter evenly between two prepared cake pans.
  7. Bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 27 to 30 minutes.
  8. Allow cake to cool to room temperature.
  9. Frost cakes with favorite frosting.
  10. Just barely adapted from epicurious, taken from Cooks Illustrated.

Happy Graduation!

5

Many months after we started this blog, we finally braved the incredibly long 20 minute drive to each other’s house to bake together. We’ve both recently finished our undergrad degrees and tomorrow is our graduation. As always, baking is an appropriate way to mark this occasion.

2

Red Velvet cupcakes are really popular right now (we’re still trying to figure out why), so we thought we would bake them and add a little graduation cap on top for some extra excitement! This recipe is from Paula Deen, and is different from the Red Velvet cake recipe that we posted a few weeks ago. The cupcake itself is less chocolatey, but extremely fluffy!

3

To make the graduation caps, we bought peanut butter cups for the base, and glued chocolate squares on top using Nutella. We then piped on frosting for the tassels.

4

We thought we should experiment with the frosting and tried a vanilla frosting recipe from The Pioneer Woman. It tasted wonderful, but personally, we would not make it again, purely because of the runny texture.

1

We’re going to experience many changes in the near future, and it’s going to be exciting! If any of you are graduating this year, congratulations and good luck! 🙂

Thanks for celebrating with us, and see you soon!

-S & G

 

Paula Deen’s Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting


Yields: 12 cupcakes

Adapted Slightly From: http://www.pauladeen.com/recipes/view2/red_velvet_cupcakes_with_cream_cheese_frosting/

Cupcake Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
3/4 cups vegetable oil
3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp red food coloring (Wilton Gel colour)
1/2 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line (12-cup) muffin pan with cupcake papers.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

 

Vanilla Frosting

From: http://tastykitchen.com/recipes/desserts/thate28099s-the-best-frosting-ie28099ve-ever-had/

Frosts more than 24 cupcakes

 

  • 5 Tablespoons Flour
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 cup Butter
  • 1 cup Granulated Sugar (not Powdered Sugar!)

 

  • Bake your favorite chocolate cake and let it cool.
  • In a small saucepan, whisk flour into milk and heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens. You want it to be very thick, thicker than cake mix, more like a brownie mix is. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature. (If I’m in a hurry, I place the saucepan over ice in the sink for about 10 minutes or so until the mixture cools.) It must be completely cool before you use it in the next step. Stir in vanilla.
  • While the mixture is cooling, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. You don’t want any sugar graininess left. Then add the completely cooled milk/flour/vanilla mixture and beat the living daylights out of it. If it looks separated, you haven’t beaten it enough! Beat it until it all combines and resembles whipped cream.