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Archive for the ‘Cakes’ Category

 

Meet the cake and cupcakes from my second ever paid gig! My mom’s high school class recently celebrated their 30th reunion. They were looking for a special dessert, my mom recommended me for the job, and a cupcake tower was born! I wish I had pictures of the whole tower for you, but I haven’t even seen them yet, as they are on my m0m’s camera.

 

The whole projected ended up being a 4-tier cupcake tower with 100 cupcakes and a 6″ round cake for the top. The cupcakes are a mixture of chocolate and vanilla cupcakes and the topper is chocolate cake with raspberry filling. The CPHS colors are red, black, and white and we thought the polka dot wrapper and red and white frosting would be a fun way to incorporate them. The cupcakes are dusted with a little white sparkling sugar.

 

Aesthetically, I was quite pleased with the way everything turned out. Taste-wise… I could have been happier. My parents reported that the flavor got rave reviews, but I wasn’t 100% pleased. The chocolate were good–I used my go-to Hershey’s recipe, but I used a vanilla recipe from Martha Stewart that was just kind of bland and uninteresting. I will definitely go back to the Smitten Kitchen recipe I used for my graduation cakes next time.

 

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed these photos. Happy 30th reunion!

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Is there ever such thing as too much chocolate? Is it overkill to make a dense chocolate cake with rich chocolate frosting, creamy chocolate filling, and sweet chocolate covered crunchies on the outside? Personally, I don’t think so.

I have had a chocolate obsession since the womb. Every birthday for the first eighteen years of my life, I made myself a double chocolate cake with a variety of toppings. I have been known to devour truffles, inhale fudge, and eat molten ganache straight up. Nothing to me–and I mean nothing–can achieve that dreaded rumored level of “too much chocolate” that my mother is always going on about. However, I do concede that, were such a horrible myth indeed a truth, that these two cakes might just be examples of chocolate overload–proceed with caution!

 

Cake 1: Chocolate Hazelnut Truffle Cake
(Pictured above)

This heavenly creature is, essentially, Ferraro Rocher candy in cake form. I made the Chocolate Hazelnut Truffle Cake for my Dad, a fellow chocolate junkie, for his birthday last month.

To make this cake, first bake two layers of your favorite chocolate cake and let them cool. If you want a really elegant cake, you can go ahead and torte them (a fancy word for cutting the layers in half horizontally). For this cake, I used the recipe on the back of the Hershey’s cocoa powder–but I used the dark cocoa powder so it was nearly excessively chocolatey, which is just the way I like it and, from a practical standpoint, contrasts a little better with the frosting. I filled the cake with a jar of Nutella, but I’d recommend using two next time, or at least getting the larger jar, because it only made thin layers. I then covered the cake in a milk chocolate ganache (see here for more info on ganache-making–it’s easier than it looks!), reserving the extra for last-minute touch-ups, and packed chopped hazelnuts around the sides. I would highly recommend toasting the hazelnuts, which I didn’t do, and then grinding them in your food processor to a slightly finer texture, though if you don’t have the equipment for such an endeavor or don’t have the time, raw and coarse are fine too.

 

Brownie Cake with Homemade Chocolate-Covered English Toffee

 

 

This cake was, as are many good cakes, simply a “just because” cake. My boyfriend and I had a chicken parmigiana dinner a few weeks ago, something I promised after we salavated over the fancy chicken parm offerings on the finale of MasterChef earlier in the week. I wanted to make something nice for dessert, and I knew that if anyone could appreciate this chocolate monstrosity with me, it would be Steve.

I got the idea for this cake from blogger Annie’s Eats, who made her version with an espresso marscarpone filling and an espresso whipped cream. I love espresso as much as the next girl, but that still didn’t seem like enough chocolate for me. So I decided to frost the dense, chewy-yet-fudgy brownie layers with chocolate fudge frosting. And then cover it in homemade dark chocolate covered toffee. You are perfectly welcome to buy store-bought Heath or Skor bits, but both contain almonds and I wanted to explore a nut-free toffee option, which, ultimately, meant making it myself. Steve’s mom described the cake as “sinful,” which I suppose is quite a natural reaction to have when eating it if, unlike me, your brain isn’t exploding and shouting, “FINALLY! This is getting close to too much chocolate!”

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And  birthday month continues! In the interest of full disclosure, it’s actually over–I’m just a little backlogged. There is still one more cake installment coming for sure, and it’s chocolately and delicious. But to matters at hand: ice cream cake! I usually start planning the cakes for birthday month around the time school gets out. It’s not so much an organizational thing as one part excitement and one part fear I’ll only be able to come up with something lame and generic and fail as a birthday cake maker. When I make a cake for someone, I really try my hardest to capture their essence in sugar form. I’m highly disappointed when I can’t. 

This cake definitely screamed Chandler. Both my sisters work at a local ice cream shop over the summer, but whereas Chelsea kind of stumbled into the job, working at this particular shop was Chandler’s life goal from about age five. Needless to say, she’s enthusiastic about ice cream. What makes this cake so Chandler, however, are the flavors: cookie dough and Oreo. And, regardless, it’s just a fun combination, excellent for indulging your inner child. The decorations are piped buttercream. It’s a little hard to get things to stick, as they freeze instantly, yet seem to repel the actual cake (see uneven boarder piping!), but it all came out in the end. With a little work (very little, actually, if you opt to use softened store-bought ice cream in place of your own)you can have your own ice cream cake that kicks Carvel and Friendly’s or any other chain’s ice cream cake’s butts. I promise it is worth it. 

 

Homemade Ice Cream Cake

  1. In your ice cream maker, make the first flavor ice cream you wish to use in your cake (this will be the bottom layer). When ice cream is finished, pour into 10″ springform pan and cover with crushed Oreo cookies or prefered “crunch” layer. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze
  2. Re-freeze bowl of ice cream maker and make your second flavor. Pour on top of first layer, replace plastic wrap, and return to freezer for at least two hours, or until both layers are rock solid.
  3. Carefully remove sides of springform pan, running a little hot water along the edge if cake threatens to crack or otherwise has trouble separating from the metal. Decorate quickly using whipped cream, buttercream, sprinkles, or any other decorations of your choice. Freeze until serving time.

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I recently made my first sheet cake–very exciting! The cake was for a joint birthday party for my high school friend Alyssa and her boyfriend Tom. The concept was to have one side represent Alyssa and one side represent Tom, but to have the two sides come together as one cake. I think you can figure out for yourselves whose was whose. I had never made a sheet cake before. It wasn’t much harder than a small cake, but, boy, was that thing huge. I think I had to multiply the recipe times six. It was a LOT of cake.

Speaking of cake, you might want to know what was in this thing, huh? The cake was red velvet. It was filled with chocolate ganache and frosted in buttercream with fondant accents. I was pretty happy with the way it came out (as, I hope, were they!) and it was an overall good experience.

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August is birthday month around here. My sisters and I are all August babies (yeah Leos!), so our house is pretty cake-filled during the last month of summer. Needless to say, you’re going to see a bunch of cake pictures up here this month. This cupcake, the first, was for my middle sister’s birthday. She’s more than a little obsessed with animal prints and initially requested a hot pink carrot cake with zebra print. Then we downgraded to cupcakes. Then we got a big mess of fresh blueberries and decided she would have blueberry birthday cupcakes.

I used this recipe here, which I found on Food Gawker, one of my favorite recipe sources. The recipe was pretty darn good. The cupcakes were moist and extremely flavorful. My only complaints were that I found the texture a little dense for a cupcake and that the flavor–though it was absoultely delicious–was a little too reminiscent of a blueberry muffin. That being said, I’d definitely make them again, maybe using cake flour or something this time.

The only change I made to the recipe was adding another 1/4 cup or so of the puree. My cupcakes didn’t achieve that dark purple color–they were more lavender, but that was ok. I topped them with my favorite cream cheese frosting, which I will share another time. The bows are fondant with painted stripes and I tinted the sanding sugar with an excellent technique I learned from reading the ever sage wisdom of Bake at 350. I also made homemade cake batter ice cream, which turned out AMAZINGLY, but I am also too lazy to type out that recipe and will post it at a later date. In the meantime, you can start on the cupcakes.

 

 

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Here’s my latest cake! It’s kind of an inside joke, but I think you can enjoy it even without the backstory:

It’s a giant cannoli! With a “Welcome to New Jersey” highway sign, which has a cereal treat interior and is covered in green fondant. The cake itself is half chocolate, half vanilla. The frosting is a very light cream cheese buttercream. There are nice big chocolate chips on the end (to make it a chocolate chip cannoli) and the “shell” is rolled out fondant.

It also had sparklers on top, which, yes, I did light. I think Duff would be proud 🙂

Anyway, I haven’t done a ton of 3-D carved cakes before, so I was a little nervous making this, but I was really happy with the way it came out and thought I’d share it with you all. Hope you like it as much as I do!

 

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