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.

 

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

Chocolate Pudding Mini Trifles

Bonjour! I’m supposed to be working on my Thesis Committee meeting presentation…buutttt instead, I made these Chocolate Pudding Mini Trifles. Okay, I’m not THAT bad, we’re having a holiday lunch tomorrow at the lab, and I said I would bring dessert. I am trying to convince myself that my procrastination is justified. It may or may not be working…

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Anyways, back to pudding! Pudding was my favourite lunch treat back when I was a child. But, of course, it was always from the little plastic cups. This was my first time ever making pudding, from scratch. There is no powder with unpronounceable chemicals involved! Only real ingredients like whole milk, chocolate, and love. This trifle has four simple components: chocolate pudding, vanilla whipped cream, brownies, and strawberries.

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To make the pudding, just go ahead and follow the tutorial on The Kitchn (http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-chocolate-pudding-from-scratch-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-195012). SUUUUUPERRR easy! Don’t be frightened! The recipe says it will feed 8, but because of all the extra stuff I added, I got 16 servings.

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For the bottom layer, I baked brownies, and crumbled them up. Feel free to used a mix here, that’s what I did. I know, I know.

I found these cute little plastic wine glasses at the dollar store (don’t judge), and thought they would make a perfect presentation! The first layer was a spoonful of brownie crumbs, then pudding, followed by strawberries, and whipped cream. I topped off each trifle with grated chocolate for some panache!

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This is a great treat for a potluck, or Christmas party.

I hope you try it, and let me know how it goes!

-G

How To Make Chocolate Pudding from Scratch

Makes 8 servings (4 cups)

What You Need

Ingredients
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy cream
3 large egg yolks
2 1/2 cups whole or 2% milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Equipment
Cutting board
Sharp serrated knife
Large heatproof bowl
Whisk
3-quart (or larger) cooking pot
2-quart storage container
Plastic wrap or wax paper

Instructions

  1. Chop the chocolate: Use a serrated knife to chop the chocolate into fine flakes. Set aside.
  2. Make a slurry: In a large heatproof bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt. Slowly whisk in the cream, a little at a time, until you have a smooth mixture.
  3. Whisk in the eggs: Whisk the eggs into the cream and cornstarch mixture.
  4. Combine the milk and sugar: Pour the milk into a 3-quart (or larger) saucepan. Add the sugar and warm over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar is dissolved.
  5. Bring the milk to a simmer: Bring to a light simmer over medium heat. Watch for the surface of the milk to vibrate and for bubbles to form around the edges of the pot.
  6. Temper the egg mixture: Pour most of the hot milk into the bowl of cream and egg yolks. Whisk until well-combined, then pour everything back into the pot.
  7. Bring the pudding to a full boil: Warm the combined pudding mixture over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until it comes to a full boil. (It should look like lava boiling up!) At this point, the pudding will look much thicker.
  8. Cook the pudding for 2 minutes: After the pudding starts boiling, cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly and vigorously. Get your whisk into all corners of the pot.
  9. Flavor the pudding: After 2 minutes, remove the pudding from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Then add the chopped chocolate and let sit for 1 to 2 minutes or until melted. Whisk vigorously until the chocolate is fully incorporated.
  10. Chill the pudding: Spread the pudding in a storage container and press plastic wrap or wax paper directly onto the surface of the pudding. Cover with a lid and chill. Best eaten within 3 days.

Nutella Mousse Cups

1

I went to Costco the other day, and came upon this gigantic jar of Nutella that cost $40! I know Costco is pretty much the land of giant-sized goods, but who really needs that much Nutella?? What would you even do with so much? Needless to say, I did not buy it, but I did have an insatiable craving for the sweet spread.

2

I also happened to have some extra ricotta cheese at home, so I thought I would make sugar cookie cups and fill them with Nutella-flavoured cannoli filling. The filling is just a combination of Nutella and ricotta cheese, which I blended in my Magic Bullet. It is soooooo yummy! You could totally just eat it with a spoon, if you’re not in the mood to make the sugar cookie cups.

3

This sugar cookie is a softer version of my favourite sugar cookie recipe, from Mel’s Sweet Treats blog. I rolled out the dough, and cut out fairly large circles, which I pressed into the cups of a muffin tin, and baked for 10-12 minutes. I then made the filling, and spooned it into the cooled cups, and sprinkled them with mini white chocolate chips. After I put them together, I stored them in the freezer until eating time, so the filling firms up a little bit.4

I’ve included the recipe below, but you can totally adapt it to your liking!

Have a great weekend!

-G

Soft Sugar Cookie Cups

Adapted from Mel’s Sweet Treats

1 cup all purpose flour

1/3 cup butter

1/3 cup sugar

½ tsp vanilla extract

pinch salt

1 egg

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Whisk together the flour and salt in a medium bowl.

2. Using your mixer, use the paddle attachment to cream together the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla or your extract of choice and mix until well blended.
3. With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until the two are thoroughly blended.
4. Turn out dough onto work surface and roll out until about 1 cm thick, and cut out circles.

5. Fit dough circles into muffin tin cups, and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Nutella Cannoli Filling

½ cup Ricotta cheese

1/3 cup Nutella

Mix together either by hand or in blender, until fully combined.

Assembly:

Spoon some filling into cooled cups, and sprinkle with white chocolate chips. Chill until ready to serve.

More Brownies!

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Can we have a little celebration right now, please? S and I have officially crossed the finish line of our four year marathon-I’m talking about undergrad! Everything is submitted: exams, posters, theses, and assignments are done done done! What’s that? There’s more school coming up soon?? That’s alright, let’s pretend that’s not true, have a brownie, and then take a loooooong nap!

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I made Peanut Butter White Chocolate Brownies-come on now, just judging by the name, you know it will make you giddy with joy! The peanut butter and chocolate combination is a classic, but when you add mini white chocolate chips, vanilla ice cream, and a warm caramel sauce, it becomes a magical experience. Image

The brownie recipe and overall inspiration is from a blog called Culinary Concoctions by Peabody, and the caramel sauce is modified from Smitten Kitchen’s Salted Caramel, which I had made for the Caramel Brownies a few weeks ago.

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This dessert was the perfect reward for getting through the ordeal that is exam season! Now that this time in our lives is coming to an end, moving on to the next chapter is both scary and exciting. New adventures, new places, new people!

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Just to let you know, there won’t be a post next week, but we will be back in two weeks. Don’t be too devastated! 😛

Thanks to V for the stunning photos!

Have a wonderful week, and see you soon!

-G

 

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Peanut Brownies

http://www.culinaryconcoctionsbypeabody.com/2009/10/03/hello-canada-and-hockey-fans/

4-5 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped finely
¾ cup unsalted butter
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
½ cup peanut butter
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped or white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F.

Spray a 9-x-13-inch pan with baking spray, or butter and flour it.

Using a double boiler, melt together the unsweetened chocolate and butter. When both are melted, remove from boiler and whisk together to blend chocolate and butter fully. Whisk in brown sugar and peanut butter until fully incorporated. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer (or a large bowl and an electric hand mixer) with the whisk attachment on medium speed, whisk together the eggs and granulated sugar until eggs become pale in color, about 2 minutes.

Add the vanilla and beat for another 30 seconds.

With mixer turned off, pour chocolate/peanut butter mixture into the mixing bowl. Mix together on medium speed until chocolate/peanut butter mixture and egg mixture are fully incorporated.

Remove bowl from mixer. Add flour and stir using a wooden spoon. You could keep it in the mixer, but I find if you do this step by hand you tend not to over mix. You want to make sure the flour is fully incorporated but not over mixed. Fold in chopped peanuts if using.

Pour into prepared 9-x-13-inch pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a wooden skewer or sharp knife comes out with a few fudgy crumbles stuck to it.

Caramel Sauce

Modified from Smitten Kitchen

1/2 cup granulated sugar
4-6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup heavy cream

In a medium, dry saucepan over medium-high heat, melt your sugar; this will take about 5 minutes, stirring if necessary to break up large chunks. By the time it is all melted, if should be a nice copper color; if not, cook until it is. Remove from heat and stir in butter. It may not incorporate entirely but do your best. Stir in cream and salt and return saucepan to the stove over medium-high heat, bringing it back to a simmer and melted again any sugar that solidified. Cook bubbling caramel for a few minutes more, until it is a shade darker.