Archive for the 'Cake' Category

Luau 1st Birthday Party!

Grace Cake 1I turned to Kevin and asked, “so how many do you think fell over?”  He replied, “maybe two?”.  Ha!  He is so optimistic!  I looked at him and said, “really, I think maybe 4 or more”.  We arrived, opened the cooler and ALL of them had fallen over onto each other.  We both turned to each other and just laughed.

Ella Cake 1This past weekend Ella & Grace turned 1 year old.  For those of you that don’t know who Ella and Grace are, they are two little girls, one of which I watch on a weekly basis and the other one I casually sit for here and there.  Their mom’s asked if I would be willing to cater their joint 1 year birthday bash.  How could I say no? The theme for the party: Luau!

Cupcake tower

It was one crazy, fun filled weekend!  I started last week by baking the cupcakes and smash cakes on Tuesday, made the fillings and butter cream on Wednesday, grocery shopped and prepped the food on Thursday, then cooked all day Friday! The party, complete with food and cake covered babies, was a hit!

Ella Cake 2On Friday night, Kevin and I delivered all of the food to Grace’s house to keep in the fridge until Saturday since mine was to be packed with cupcakes and two smash cakes.  We then went downtown Charleston and enjoyed walking around in the nice warm evening weather.  We stopped by a new frozen yogurt shop and each enjoyed a small treat.  It was a nice date. 🙂

Devils Food CupcakesSaturday morning we woke up early, enjoyed a nice breakfast of waffles on our front porch and immediately set our mode’s into high gear for the party.    By the time I finished icing all of the cupcakes and decorating the smash cakes I felt like I had absorbed so much butter and sugar just through my skin and I had not had one single bite!  We showered, dressed in our “Luau” appropriate clothes and loaded up the car.

Beach CupcakesKevin had made a special “carrier” for my ice cream cone cupcakes since they don’t fit securely in a cupcake carrier or in muffin tins.  Little did I know that in order for his contraption to work, I had to keep it pulled tight….it was constructed of aluminum foil, cardboard, and duct tape.  (Gotta love it!)  So I put the ice cream cone cupcakes in the cooler thinking that they would be fine in this contraption and make the trip.  There was only a dozen of them… why wouldn’t they make the 15 minute drive?  Hmmm….what do you think?

Jeep

For those of you that don’t know, we drive a Jeep.  Yeah, a freakin’ Jeep!  Definition of “Jeep”:  a vehicle that finds every damn bump in the road, shakes on a smooth road, and is pointless to even turn on the A/C’.  Oh, and to make matters worse, we are undergoing MAJOR construction in Charleston right now so our roads are crappy.

Margarita Cupcakes

About a mile away from Grace & Ella’s party, I turned to Kevin and asked, “so how many do you think fell over?”  He replied, “maybe two?”.  Ha!  He is so optimistic!  I looked at him and said, “really, I think maybe 4 or more”.  We arrived, opened the cooler and ALL of them had fallen over onto each other.  We both turned to each other and just laughed. Note to self, bring the butter cream in a pastry bag and ice any future ice cream cone cupcakes at the destination!

Ice Cream Cakes(I tried to fix them the best I could with no extra icing to work with. 🙂 )

Grace Cake 2All of the other cupcakes, food, and the two smash cakes made it perfectly.  In the end all that mattered were that the smash cakes arrived untouched, which they did since I held them the whole way.  The party turned out better than I had planned and everyone had a great time!  The girls definitely enjoyed their cakes.  I wish I could say that I don’t want to see  butter cream for a very long time, but considering I deal with it on a weekly basis, I doubt that is going to be possible.

Dessert Table

The food menu:

Pulled Pork Barbecue served with homemade sauce, corn muffins, and buns

Slow-cooked Baked Beans

Horseradish Potato Salad

Coleslaw

Broccoli Salad

Pico de gallo, guacamole and chips

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

The cupcake menu: (All butter cream was European butter cream)

Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting (recipe can be found here)

Margarita with lime frosting

Devil’s Food with chocolate ganache and vanilla butter cream

Vanilla bean cake with vanilla butter cream

Ice cream cone cupcakes with devils food cake and vanilla butter cream

Smash Cakes:

Grace’s cake was strawberry banana with vanilla butter cream

Ella’s cake was blueberry with vanilla butter cream

Recipes

Sea Shells– made using a plastic mold purchased from Michaels and melted Baker’s brand white chocolate bars

Sand dollars– made by rolling gum paste to 1/4″ thick, cutting with round cutter, and hand drawing the design

Hibiscus flowers, fish, and Sign– made by coloring and molding gum paste into desired shapes.

Sand- graham cracker crumbs

Vanilla Cake

Yield: Three 9″ rounds, 1 half sheet or 24 cupcakes

Ingredients:

2 cups cake flour

1 3/4 cups plus 1 1/2 teaspoons All-purpose flour

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup butter, unsalted

3 cups sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract (I added 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste in addition)

1 cup egg whites or pasteurized egg whites in liquid form

1 1 /2 cups milk

Method

Preheat the oven to 350.  Spray nonstick cake pans, muffin tins, or sheet pan with nonstick spray.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together cake flour, all purpose flour, and baking powder.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, combine the butter and sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.

Add the salt and vanilla.

Set the mixer to low speed and gradually add the egg whites, scraping often.

Alternately add the flour mixture and milk to the butter mixture in two batches, starting with the flour.  Scrape down the bowl between each addition and beat until thoroughly combined.  Set the mixer to medium high speed for about 20 seconds then stop and scrape the sides of the bowl.

Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans or muffin tins.  For 9″ cake pans, bake 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cupcakes take 20 -25 minutes or until they spring back after being touched.

Allow cakes to cool for 20 minutes until flipping out of pan.  Cool completely before icing.

Variation:

To make the margarita cake, add 1 tablespoon of key lime juice to batter and zest 1 key lime.  Omit the vanilla bean paste.

To make the strawberry banana cake, fold in 1 smashed banana and 1/2 cup of pureed strawberries to finished batter before dividing into pans.

To make blueberry cake, fold in 1 cup of pureed and strained blueberries to finished batter.

Chocolate Devil’s Food Cake

Yield: Three- 9″ rounds, 1 half sheet, or 24 cupcakes

Ingredients:

2 2/3 cups All-purpose flour

1 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon pure almond extract

1 cup butter

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 cup strong coffee

Method

Preheat the oven to 350.  Spray pans to be used with non stick spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine the sour cream, vanilla, and almond extract.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, combine butter and sugar and beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy.

Set the mixer to low speed and add the eggs, one at a time, scraping between each addition.

Alternately add the flour and sour cream mixtures to the butter mixture in two batches, starting and ending with the flour mixture.  Scrape down the bowl after each addition.

Gradually pour in the coffee.  Scrape down the bowl and beat until thoroughly combined.

Divide the batter evenly between the pans.  For 9″ cake, bake 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean.  For cupcakes bake 20-25 minutes or until they spring back after being touched.

Allow cakes to cool for 20 minutes before flipping out of pans.  Cool completely before icing.

Recipes adapted from: The Confetti Cakes Cookbook by Elisa Strauss

European Butter Cream

Yield: enough to frost 24 cupcakes

Ingredients:

22 ounces granulated sugar

9 ounces egg whites, or pasteurized egg whites in liquid form

20 ounces unsalted European butter, cut into small chunks, half cold half room temperature

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

2 tablespoons vanilla powder

Method

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine sugar, egg whites, cream of tartar and vanilla powder.  Whisk together over a pot of boiling water, whisking constantly until mixture is heated to 120 degrees and the sugar crystals have completely dissolved.

Place the bowl on the stand mixer and fit with whip attachment.

Whip the egg white sugar mixture on high speed until stiff peaks form and the bowl cools down.

Once stiff peaks have formed, set mixer to low speed and slowly add in your butter 5 ounces at a time.  Once you have added all of your butter set your mixer to medium high speed and continue to whip meringue/ butter mixture until the mixture has emulsified together and has achieved a smooth creamy texture.

If your butter cream is too warm, your mixture may become too liquid.  If this happens, simply refrigerate your mixture for 10 minutes, then try re-whipping again.  It may come together some days and others take a while depending on the temperature of your kitchen and humidity.

Variation:

To make margarita frosting, add 1 teaspoon of lime juice to every 1 cup of European butter cream. Use green sanding sugar to “rim”cupcakes.

Source: Feast on this! original

Chocolate Ganache

Yield: 2-3 cups

1 cup heavy cream

9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

Method

Place chocolate in a glass or metal bowl.  Set aside.

Scald cream in microwave safe bowl or in a saucepan over medium high heat on the stove.

Gently pour over chocolate and let set for 1 minute.

Whisk together chocolate and heavy cream until smooth and uniform in consistency.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until set.

In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, add the set up chocolate cream mixture.  It will have a very thick consistency similar to that of truffles.

Mix on medium speed until mixture begins to soften.  Add in 1 tablespoon of light corn syrup to help soften and smooth the mixture.  You may need to add more to get your desired consistency for icing cupcakes.

Pipe or smooth onto cakes or cupcakes.

Source: Feast on this! original recipe


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An Abundance of Strawberries!

strawberries-closeupThis past weekend Kevin and I went strawberry picking at a local strawberry patch.  Oh my goodness, talk about the best breakfast ever!  We grabbed some coffee on our way to the patch then sat in the patch noshing on the most delicious berries.  I’m glad they don’t weigh you on the way out because I am sure we ate a couple pounds each!!

The first row we started picking was very abundant.  We picked some nice ripe strawberries and each had about two baskets filled.  We then went back for two more baskets each and started where we left off, which was about half way down the row.  The berries were ok.  Not as good as the beginning of the row and we figured out that it was because other strawberry pickers would start at the beginning of the row, pick half way down, then stop.  We would start at the end and pick our way towards the beginning, hence why this row was picked over already.

Kevin and I then decided to pick up our baskets and hit up another row a few down the line.  Holy jackpot!  You should have heard us in the patch “oh, my look at the size of this” and “wow, that is giant” or “can you believe how big this one is?” and “oh my gosh, this is the best thing I have ever put in my mouth!”.  Were we in a berry patch or elsewhere?  GET YOUR MIND OUT OF THE GUTTER!!!

We finished picking with Kevin practically dragging me out of the patch.  “Just one more, please?'”  I begged.  “Keep walking, keep walking…don’t look down…keep walking”, he would say.  We loaded up the Jeep and headed home.

strawberry-picking(These baskets are only half full because we dumped out the other half into other containers so they would not smash on the way home.  There are more strawberries in my house too!)

strawberry-yield

strawberry-yield-3

Once we unloaded, I took a picture of all of our berries and weighed them out.  We ended up with close to 50 pounds of berries!!!  When life hands you strawberries, what do you make?  No, not strawberry daiquiris, but that sounds good….strawberry jam!!  So all afternoon I prepped for jam making and spent my Sunday canning and freezing strawberry jam.

canned-jam

I also made a fabulous strawberry layer cake, strawberry pie, and of course…chocolate covered strawberries.  These recipes as well as the recipe for canning and freezing jam are to follow the rest of the week.

strawberry-cake-4To find a strawberry patch in your area or other produce, visit: http://www.pickyourown.org/ or visit your classified section of your local newspaper.

Good Intentions

a-sea-of-cake-popsSo I jumped on the wagon just like everyone here in blog world and made a form of cake pops and cupcake pops. Looking back on it, what the heck was I thinking?  Yes, they are cute and petite, but definitely not what I thought they would be. Let’s just say that I do not have the patience for these darn things.   Some of you who read this will not like my review, but I am entitled to my own opinion.  So be warned now that this is not a great review!

Aside from making them myself, I thought they would be something fun to send to my little sister to bake and make for Easter.  I sent her a package complete with candy coating, toppings, cupcake mold, etc.  She made them on Easter with our cousin, grandma, and my parents.  They all had a good laugh over decorating the cake pops agreeing that they did not taste very good.  I am glad that at least my gift was full of humor!

I started out with the intention of making the cake balls on the sticks, then when I realized what a pain in the rear they were, I decided to break out the candy mold and turn the remaining balls into cupcake form.   Not only do I feel like they were a waste of money, but they tasted like raw cake and were definitely not worth the effort.

easter-egg-pops

Here’s the review.  I decided to make one batch by a recipe I found on the web.  Everyone knows this recipe.  The one with a boxed cake mix, baked then cooled, crumbled up and the addition of your choice flavor of frosting.  I also made a batch with homemade cake and homemade frosting.  Well once you added the cake and frosting together, the ending result tasted like raw cake batter.  Yuck!  I even made sure not to add too much frosting.  Even though the homemade version tasted better, it was still not good. (If you notice, none of these cake pops are bitten into to show the inside.  I could not bear to bite down on them again after spitting mine out.)

mcc-cake-pops

Creme de Menthe cupcake pops (above).

On top of the nasty cake “dough”, you dip your cake ball in the candy coating of your choice.  Yum….partially hydrogenated goodness!!!   I knew this buying the candy coating, but never realized how horrible this stuff tastes.  Seriously like wax in your mouth.  For my homemade cake balls I chose to dip them in  real dark chocolate and real white chocolate…not the candy coating junk.  They tasted better, but you still bit into what tasted like raw cake.

row-of-cake-pops

So aside from the ending cake pops tasting like wax coated raw batter and chocolate covered homemade raw batter, they took forever! I could have assembled, crumb coated, and decorated three wedding cakes in the time it took to make these darn things.  Overall they looked cute and put a smile on everyones face that saw them.  My mother told me straight up that they were nasty.  A good friend of mine told me that they tasted like the cardboard cake box.  Everyone else smiled and said “oh, these are good!”.  Either they were being polite or they had no idea what good dessert tasted like.  Will I ever make them again?  Absolutely not.

Warm weather + long days = late blogging

Has it really been over a month?  Kevin just asked me the other day how the blog was.  Well, let’s see…we have been super busy, so updating the blog had been moved to the back burner.   It isn’t that I haven’t been making plenty of yummy meals or desserts…I have.  The fact of the matter is that it has been SO nice outside lately and has been staying light for so much longer at night that the last thing I have wanted to do is plop in front of the computer.  If you personally know me, you know how much I love to workout!  It is like eating great food.  I like it so much and I can never get enough of those endorphins.  Could you say that I am obsessed?  So now that we have this lovely spring weather + more daylight + swimsuit season approaching = running outside!

So to fill you in on the past month or so of our lives I will post many updates including our Easter (or lack of since I went to L.A.) as well as pictures from Kevin’s surprise 30th birthday party!  Yep, I surprised him.  After 3 months of planning too!!  Enjoy the pictures and the recipes that are to come in additional posts.

kevins-surprise-entranceYes his eyes are closed.  You gotta love my crappy camera. I mean, it functions, but there is a lag when you hit the button so “in motion” shots just don’t happen.  I need a better camera soon 😦

kevin-shawns-cake My wonderful sister- in-law Shawn and Kevin have the same birthday.  She is not 30 yet, but we will get her!  They shared this “dual” birthday cake made by Judy, who also made Shawn’s wedding cake.   Isn’t it beautiful?

vanilla-bean-cheesecake

baileys-cheesecake

I also made a couple of cheesecakes for the party.  Bailey’s Irish Cream with drizzled chocolate on the bottom and vanilla bean on the top. I was disappointed in the vanilla bean.  Oh well, that is what you get for trying a new recipe!

kevins-birthday-spread

Lastly, here is the food spread for the party.  It included coleslaw, potato salad, chili cheese dip, broccoli salad, veggies, dip, buns, corn muffins, and fruit.  There is BBQ chicken drumsticks hiding under the foil to stay warm and I have pulled pork BBQ, macaroni and cheese as well as baked beans behind me on the counter.

The party was fantastic and everyone had a great time.  I think we ended up with about 50 people in attendance. Kevin was shocked that I had invited so many of his friends from high school and college.  Thanks to Nick and Jared I was able to track everyone down.  Kevin’s sister Katy even flew in from NY as a surprise.  I think this shocked him the most.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this day so special and for all of your hard work and ability to keep it a secret for so long!

Chocolate Intensity Multiplied

chocolate-intensity-21This past Tuesday was my friend Jodi’s birthday.  I knew I wanted to make something special for her but wasn’t sure what to make.  Cheesecake? Cake cake? Cookies? Cupcakes?  Ah, so many choices.  When I asked Jodi to name her favorite dessert she was speechless.  I mean, if someone asked you to name your favorite dessert you would probably freeze too!  So many decisions.   Mine, however, is a toss up between hazelnut tiramisu and dark chocolate.   She did mention that she loved molten chocolate lava cakes as well as anything else that was chocolate…any kind of chocolate…and that she was not allergic to anything.  Sweet!  This left me total freedom.

chocolate-intensity-slice1

I set out to search for a new recipe.  While I knew of many tried and true, delicious desserts, I was having the hardest time deciding on one.  First I was going to make a chocolate bourbon pecan cheesecake.  Then I decided that I wanted to make a layer cake and decorate it.  Ok, scratch that.  What about take mini lava cakes to her house and baking them on the spot?  Too messy.  So after reading many cookbooks and cake books, I decided upon this recipe.  Chocolate Intensity.  Yes it lives up to the name.  Here is where my problem begins.  I can’t leave a recipe alone. Nor can I ever make a recipe EXACTLY as the recipe states.  I ALWAYS change something no matter what I make.  Don’t ask me why, I just do.

chocolate-intensity

This chocolate intensity cake is now multiplied because it is THAT intense.  While most chocoholics would probably say that they could eat an entire cake, I beg to differ.  I AM a chocoholic and after just a few bites of this rich cake I am satisfied.  It is rich and dense but not sickening sweet.  It is creamy and smooth almost like a chocolate cheesecake, but it is not.  Definitely add the bourbon to the ganache.  Just trust me it is that good. This cake is also best served right from the refrigerator with a glass of ice cold milk.  With the addition of toasted pecans and golden caramel in the ganache this makes for one sexy cake.

chocolate-intensity-slice-21

While this cake is definitely perfect to save for a special occasion, it is also too good to wait to make.  Make it as soon as you can.  This is that cake that will have people talking and asking for the recipe…or maybe just moaning with ecstasy!

Chocolate Intensity Cake

Makes one 9″ cake
Ingredients
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used Ghiradelli)
12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, preferably softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brewed coffee (I used hot water and espresso powder)
6 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
Method
Preheat oven to 350º F
Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom with a parchment round and butter the parchment.

Place chopped chocolate in a large bowl.  Set aside.

In a saucepan over medium-high heat combine butter, sugar and coffee until the butter has melted and the mixture is boiling. Turn off heat.  Gently pour the hot mixture over your chopped chocolate. Let stand for 1 minute then gently stir until chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs vigorously until blended. Add in the vanilla and salt.  Stir.  Slowly temper 1/2 cup of hot chocolate mixture into eggs, whisking constantly. Add the egg mixture to the hot chocolate mixture and whisk to combine well.  Tempering gradually will prevent from scrambling your eggs.

Strain the chocolate batter through a fine wire mesh sieve then pour batter into prepared pan. Set cake pan in a large roasting pan and fill the pan with enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the center is shiny and set but still a bit jiggly. Transfer cake pan to a cooling rack and cool for 20 minutes.

Run a thin knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Place a cardboard round on top of the pan and invert the cake onto it. Remove pan and carefully remove the parchment paper. Refrigerate the cake for at least 2 hours before glazing with chocolate ganache.

Chocolate Bourbon Ganache

makes enough to cover one 9″ cake
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tsp bourbon

Method

Place chopped chocolate in a medium bowl.

In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Remove pan from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let stand for 1 minute then gently stir until chocolate is melted and the glaze is smooth. Gently stir in the bourbon. Transfer glaze to a small bowl and cover the surface of the glaze with plastic wrap and let cool for 5 minutes at room temperature before using.

To glaze the cake:

Place the chilled cake, still on the cake round, on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Slowly pour the hot glaze onto the center of the cake. Smooth the glaze over the top and sides, letting the excess drip onto the baking sheet.

Refrigerate the cake before adding the topping.

chocolate-intensity-slice-3

Chocolate Caramel Bourbon Pecan Topping
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped and toasted
6 ounces heavy whipping cream
4 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup MEC3 caramel topping, or any other caramel topping
2 ounces bourbon
Method
Combine chocolate in a medium bowl.  Set aside.
In either a saucepan over medium heat or in a microwave safe bowl, heat cream to a boil.  Pour cream over chocolate and let stand 1 minute.  Whisk together chocolate and cream until mixture is combined.  Whisk in caramel topping and bourbon until blended.  Fold in chopped, toasted pecans.
Gently pour mixture on top of chilled cake.  Spread out topping as desired.
Refrigerate cake at least 2 hours before serving. Slice with a hot knife for “clean” edged pieces.
chocolate-intensity-slice-4
Cake and ganache source: The Cake Book
Chocolate Caramel Bourbon Pecan Topping Source: Original Recipe

Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes

chocolate-ganache-cupcake-3Happy Friday the 13th!  Today Kevin’s office is having a potluck lunch.  Every time they have ANY sort of food related function whether they are celebrating a birthday, a promotion, or a retirement, they all turn to Kevin for dessert.  No, he can’t bake…well he could if all of the ingredients and recipe were laid out in front of him, but anyway… I have been known as “Miss Mia” from day one of us dating and me sending in sweets to his office.  I don’t know why the guys in his office use “Miss Mia”, considering I acquired that name through Kevin helping out with boy scouts, but it works.  So they always turn to Kevin for dessert and ask what marvelous thing “Miss Mia” could send in.  This gets my gears turning and I try to come up with the most creative flavors or dessert I can think of at the time. While I am famous for my cheesecakes, I certainly can’t send them into the office every week.  That would get expensive!

Today, Friday, the office gets chocolate ganache cupcakes…or Hershey’s Holiday Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate ganache and vanilla frosting…or Hershey’s Holiday Chocolate cupcakes with creme de menthe spiked chocolate ganache and Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Butter cream (well, frosting in my opinion).  Oh, and green frosting too since St. Patty’s Day is next week!

chocolate-ganache-cupcake-4

I can’t even give you one word to describe these cupcakes.  They are just that good. I had one last night at 10:30 after I finished icing them with the green frosting.  Oh my! SO scrumptious!  The cake itself is super light and fluffy.  The ganache is extremely creamy with a very nice light mint flavor and the frosting is like silk.  Normally I am not a fan of “American” butter cream or confectioner’s sugar and butter frosting, but this batch is so smooth and has the consistency of marshmallow fluff.  Delicious!

(Oh…check out the difference that lighting makes in your pictures.  The pictures above were taken with natural light this morning, while the picture right above the vanilla butter cream recipe were taken super early this morning in my kitchen lighting.  What a difference in shades of green!)

Hershey’s Holiday Chocolate Cake with creme de menthe chocolate ganache and Magnolia Bakery Butter Cream

serves 24

Ingredients

2 cups sugar

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup Hershey’s cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup strong black coffee

1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used canola oil)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Method

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare cupcake pans with liners.  Set aside.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla; beat at medium speed of mixer 2 minutes (batter will be thin). Pour batter into cupcake liners filling 2/3 way full.

Bake 12- 18 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

Source: Hershey’s Kitchens

Creme de menthe chocolate ganache

makes enough to top 24 cupcakes

Ingredients

6 ounces heavy whipping cream

8 ounces Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup creme de menthe

Method

Scald heavy cream in microwave or on stove top.  Pour hot cream over chocolate chips.  Let sit for 5 minutes to allow the chocolate to melt from the heat of the cream.  Whisk mixture together until just combined.  Add creme de menthe and continue to whisk until blended and uniform in consistency.

Let ganache sit on the counter for 10 minutes before topping cooled cupcakes.

When ganache is cooled, lightly spoon a few teaspoons of ganache on top of cupcake, spreading over the entire top of the cupcake.  Let ganache set until “tacky” before icing with butter cream.

Source: Original Recipe

chocolate-ganache-cupcakes-2

Vanilla Butter Cream

makes enough for one 2-layer 9 inch cake or 2 dozen cupcakes

Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

6-8 cups confectioner’s sugar

1/2 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Method

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl.  Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla.  Fitted with the whip attachment on medium speed, beat until smooth and cream, about 3-5 minutes.  Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency.  You may not need to add all of the sugar.  If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly.

Use and store the icing at room temperature because the icing will set if chilled.  Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Source: More from Magnolia

Angel Food Cake

angel-food-cake-standEvery week I have been asking my amazing husband, Kevin, to give me some sort of cooking or baking challenge.  He normally just starts naming off any food he has ever.  This week he named one of his all time favorite desserts, angel food cake.  Surprisingly I have never made an angel food cake…ever!  It was just always so easy to buy one instead.  Now, after making one for the first time, I won’t ever buy another one again.  Evidently his mom used to make strawberry shortcakes using angel food cake when he was little.  He told me that he wanted the “soft and light kind” like his moms.

angel-food-cake_simple1

Did mine pass the test, you ask?  While we were eating I asked, “Is it good?  Is it better than your mothers?”  Before he even had the chance to answer I told him “It better be or I’m not making it again!” .   We both laughed.  (Linda, if you are reading this, you know that yours will always be his favorite! 🙂 )

Angel food cake is a delicious, elegant, low calorie dessert.  It also tastes great with any fruits and whipped cream.  We enjoyed ours with lemon curd, strawberries and hand whipped vanilla cream.  Making an angel food cake is very simple.  How hard is it to whip egg whites?  I will warn you, though, that you will definitely need your 6 quart Kitchen Aid or a very large bowl and your hand mixer.  My egg whites whipped so high that they just about came out of the mixer by the time I stopped it.  I could easily take an off set spatula and level off my mixer bowl.  It was that full!!  I actually had to transfer my whipped egg white mixture to a very large stainless steel bowl in order to fold in my sifted flour/ sugar mixture.

I bought an angel food cake pan specifically for this recipe.  I do own a bundt cake pan and after making my first angel food cake I now realize that I probably could have used this pan or any cake pan for that matter.  I think they would even be cute as little cupcakes with a lemon buttercream and strawberry on top.  No stealing my ideas, now.  I plan to make these for an upcoming birthday!

angel-food-cake_golden

Angel Food Cake

serves 12

Cake

1  cup  sifted cake flour

1 1/2  cups  sugar, divided

12  large egg whites

1  teaspoon  cream of tartar

1/4  teaspoon  salt

1 1/2  teaspoons  vanilla extract

1 1/2  teaspoons  fresh lemon juice

1/2  teaspoon  almond extract (I omitted this and added extra vanilla extract instead.)

Method

Preheat oven to 325°.

To prepare cake, lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and 3/4 cup sugar, stirring with a whisk.

Place egg whites in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar and salt; beat until soft peaks form. Add 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Beat in vanilla, juice, and almond extract (if using).

Sift 1/4 cup flour mixture over egg white mixture; fold in. Repeat with remaining flour mixture, 1/4 cup at a time.

angel-food_batter

Spoon the batter into an un-greased a10-inch tube pan, spreading evenly. Break air pockets by cutting through the batter with a knife. Bake at 325° for 55 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Invert pan; cool completely. Loosen cake from sides of pan using a narrow metal spatula. Invert the cake onto a plate.

angel-food_baked

Source: Cooking Light, April 2003