Funfetti Cake!

Funfetti Cake

2015 appears to be the year of royal icing and cakes. This Christmas, I finally mastered the production of royal icing, which has stymied me for some time. While I’m still clumsy with it, at least I know how to make it and actually get it onto cookies now, so I plan to practice, practice, practice in the upcoming year!

Cakes, on the other hand, have always more or less cooperated with me, so this year, I plan to dedicate more time to the presentation of such cakes. My sister-in-law and her husband gifted me a class from Carlo’s Bakery¬†for Christmas, so at the end of this month, I’ll be learning how to correctly apply fondant to a cake and decorate it. The best news is that I get to bring the cake home afterwards!

So, to kick off my year of cakes and royal icing, I decided to bake this Funfetti cake I saw skulking around on Pinterest. The cake recipe is incredibly easy and I think that many different frostings would compliment it, though I went with a very simple vanilla
buttercream. The only real change I made was baking my layers in a 6-inch pan as I didn’t want to cart around a giant cake. The recipe made enough batter for the two 6-inch cake layers AND nine cupcakes. I simply popped the cupcakes in the oven at the same temperature as the cake and started checking them for doneness around 18 minutes.

The decorations on the cake featured in the recipe were very simple, but I wanted to go a little bigger. I baked the cake to take to our friends’ home for dinner, on a night that fell between that family’s father’s birthday and my husband’s, so I knew it needed to be festive to serve as a birthday cake. Additionally, our friends have three children all under 10 years of age, so I knew the sprinkles would be a hit with the kids.

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That looks like a LOT of sprinkles, and it is, but it’s not as much as you might think. The cake itself requires 2/3 cup plus a tablespoon of sprinkles, so I ended up buying four little plastic containers of sprinkles and hoped that it would be enough for the cake and the decoration. I’m afraid my fear was unfounded, as I currently have two of those containers left unopened. Now I have to find another recipe to work those sprinkles into! Birthday cake ice cream, maybe?

I’m happy to report that the cake sliced beautifully and is really, really fun on the inside. I was worried that my sprinkles might settle to the bottom of the cake, but they didn’t! And the layers looked just perfect.

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If you’ve got a celebration coming up, I highly recommend this recipe. You can dress it up or down as much as you want. You can leave it as two layers or cut it into four like I did. You can go nuts with sprinkles, or if you’re a better decorator than me, pipe some buttercream flowers on top for a real throwback grocery store cake look.

Stay tuned for more cake and royal icing adventures!

 

Mudslide Cupcakes

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It’s been way too long since I last updated, so here’s an original recipe, just like Colonel Sanders would post!

A few weeks ago, a coworker asked me to make two dozen cupcakes for him to take home to his wife. He asked for one dozen kid-friendly and one dozen “adult”. We all know what “adult” means– booze or coffee. So I set out to combine the two. I Googled a few combos until I realized the answer lay in a frozen cocktail– The Mudslide. The Mudslide typically combines Vodka, Bailey’s, Kahlua, milk, ice and occasionally chocolate syrup together. I decided to skip the vodka in my cupcakes– the flavor of vodka never comes through– and focus more on the other flavors: Chocolate, coffee, Kahlua and Bailey’s. So without further, adieu, the recipe!

Mudslide Cupcakes

Makes roughly 18 cupcakes

Kahlua Ganache Filling:

4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon Kahlua (or more, to taste)

Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the heavy cream in a heavy-bottomed pan on the stove until it’s bubbling, but not full-on boiling. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let sit for a few minutes. Stir the chocolate and cream together until the mixture is smooth. Add the butter and the one teaspoon of Kahlua and stir until the butter is fully melted and incorporated. At this point, you can taste the filling to see if it is “Kahlua-y” enough for you. If not, feel free to add a little more, but do know that as the filling sits, the flavor will become slightly more pronounced. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until cool.

Chocolate-Coffee Cupcakes:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup brewed coffee, chilled
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two muffin tins with 18 cupcake wrappers. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa in a large bowl and set it aside. In a small bowl, combine the coffee and vanilla, and set this bowl aside as well. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs to the butter and sugar one at a time, making sure the first egg is incorporated fully before adding the second. Stop and scrape down your bowl if needed. Add the dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with the coffee mixture, beating after each addition. Scrape the bowl, remove the paddle attachment, and fold in the chocolate chips. Fill each cupcake wrapper about 1/4 full. Bake for 18-22 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Be sure to check your cupcakes at the 18-minute mark for doneness as times can vary based on your oven. Once the cupcakes are done, allow them to fully cool before continuing to the next step.

Once the cupcakes are cool, use a small paring knife to remove a cone of cake from the center of each cupcake, making sure not to cut through the bottom of the cupcake. Remove the ganache from the fridge and give it a good whisk to loosen the mixture back up a bit. You want it to be about the consistency of thick frosting. Using a small spoon, place a dollop of ganache into each hollowed-out cupcake. You may very well have leftover ganache. Get creative with the leftovers. I imagine it would be very good heated up a bit and poured over ice cream.

Bailey’s Frosting:
16 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
3 cups (or more, if needed) powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 tablespoon Bailey’s Irish Cream

In the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and powdered sugar on low until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and Bailey’s and bea to combine. If the frosting looks too runny, add more powdered sugar to achieve a good spreading consistency. Transfer the frosting to another bowl, cover it and put it in the fridge. Wash out the standing mixer bowl to make the Kahlua Frosting.

Kahlua Frosting:

6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
3 cups (or more, if needed) powdered sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tablespoons Kahlua
3 tablespoons brewed coffee, chilled

In the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and powdered sugar on low until light and fluffy. Add the cocoa powder, Kahlua and coffee and beat to combine. If the frosting seems too runny, add enough powdered sugar to get it back to a good spreading consistency.

Now, you certainly can just spread the two frostings on your cupcakes with a butter knife or offset spatula and call it a day, but if you would like to swirl the frostings as I have, you will need a few things. I filled one small piping bag with the Bailey’s frosting and another with the Kahlua frosting without snipping the tip of either bag. I then fitted a larger bag with a piping tip. I then cut the tips off the smaller piping bags and put them side by side in the larger bag so that both ends were resting inside the piping tip. This requires a little patience and shifting, but it’s worth it in the end. Do a test pipe on a paper towel so you can be sure both frostings are coming out at once. Pipe the frostings onto your cupcakes.

I hope you enjoy these! My coworker liked them quite a bit and the extras were taken to my husband’s coworkers who were also impressed. The hidden Kahlua ganache is a nice surprise.

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Twinkie Cake

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Growing up, our kitchen cabinets never had less than two boxes of Little Debbie snack cakes. Both my father and I would take them in our lunches every day. So while I am well versed in Swiss Cake Rolls and Oatmeal Creme Pies and Zebra Cakes, I am less educated in the ways of the Twinkie.

I mean, I was always aware of the Twinkie– other kids brought them to school and I’m sure I tasted them here and there. I just was always more of a chocolate fan, especially when that chocolate had a hard glaze that gave a satisfying little snap when you bit through it.

As an adult, though, I’ve learned to embrace vanilla. It’s such a pure and clean taste. So when I saw Shauna Sever’s new book “Pure Vanilla: Irresistible Recipes and Essential Techniques, I knew I had to get moving on the recipes.

For the first test, I tackled the Twinkie Cake. It’s a fairly simple yellow bundt cake recipe that baked up easily and beautifully. Once baked, I got to get super handsy with the cake, cutting holes into it using the cone method, and then sticking my fingers into each hole to create a tunnel running through the center of the cake. Continue reading

Milk and Cookie Shooter

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By now, even my 87-year-old grandmother has heard of the Cronut, the croissant-dougnut hybrid brought to life by New York City baker Dominque Ansel. Well, a month or so ago, he was at it again, creating a Chocolate Chip Cookie Milk Shot, a shot glass made of chocolate chip cookie dough and filled with vanilla-infused milk. The idea is to sip the milk and eat the cookie bit by bit, as one might eat a taco salad or soup in a bread bowl.

The minute he heard about it, my husband wanted me to make it. Sometimes I get the impression he doesn’t realize how hard certain things are to create. Has he not seen the numerous Cookie Bowl Fails that litter the Internet? Cookie dough doesn’t necessarily want to hold a particular shape– it likes to spread and puff and do all sorts of other things that are great if you want a cookie form, but not so good if you want, say, a shot glass form.

Luckily, myriad food bloggers have taken it upon themselves to duplicate this sweet treat and the talented baker over at Wanna Come With? came up with a fantastic recipe and tutorial, which I used to create the confection in the above photo.

I didn’t tweak Wanna Come With?’s recipe at all, so I urge you to follow it if you want to create these yourself. I do recommend that whatever vessel you choose to use as a mold (Rum Baba molds worked very, very well for me), pick up at least four of them. I bought two and it took me FIVE HOURS to make 14 of these suckers. Save yourself some time and buy four.

The verdict from my husband? Well, to quote him directly, “Well, I don’t need to go get a real one because I can’t imagine it tastes any better than yours.”

Winter cocktails for the never-ending winter

It’s been one heck of a winter, huh? Spring has officially sprung (though I personally think March is still firmly winter), and parts of the country are still seeing snow showers and downright chilly temperatures. And nothing is better on a cold night than a roaring fireplace, a warm Corgi on your lap and a tasty, tasty cocktail.

Well, I have two out of the three at least. Sadly my new apartment did not come with a fireplace. New apartment, you ask? Why, yes! In January, an apartment in the neighborhood we have been scoping out for at least a year dropped out of the clear blue sky and fell on our heads. We weren’t planning to move until next year at the earliest, but it was an offer we couldn’t refuse. So now we call Cobble Hill home and I’ve got a whole new kitchen to navigate. Fun fact: the oven door does not fully open because it hits the refrigerator. So far this hasn’t been a problem. There also wasn’t room in the new kitchen for my much loved baker’s rack that stored nearly everything in our old place, so we had to get creative. And where do New Yorkers go when they want to get creative?

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i had determined that I wanted some sort of bar in the new place. I was tired of hiding all our liquor in a cabinet and besides, cabinet space was at a premium in the new joint. So we braved the crowds in Red Hook and picked up this little number.

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The top shelf of the dresser holds our stemless wine glasses, beer sampler glasses, beer coozies, coasters, a lemon juicer and various other bar-related items. But the bottom two drawers… oh, those drawers hold all my baking accoutrements. I am amazed at how much stuff that dresser holds. It’s been a godsend in the new apartment.

But on to the liquor! Continue reading

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread Recipe

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Don’t let anyone try to tell you that pumpkin season ends at Thanksgiving. They’re fools. It’s still technically fall for like, 10 more days, and fall is prime pumpkin season. To celebrate this fact, here is a recipe for Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread, a perfect way to use up all that leftover canned pumpkin puree you bought back in October. It’s a delicious, moist bread full of chocolate chunks that’s just as good to eat for breakfast as it is for dessert.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Makes two 9×5 loaves

The Ingredients

3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 TSP salt
2 TSP baking soda
1 TSP baking powder
1 TSP ground cinnamon
1 TSP ground nutmeg
1 TSP ground ginger
1 TSP ground cloves
3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
4 eggs
15 ounces canned pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
2/3 cup water
2 cups chocolate chip (I prefer Ghiradelli’s 60% cacao chips)

The Process:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9×5 loaf pans.

Whisk together the first eight ingredients in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and the oil. Add the eggs and whisk to combine. Add the pumpkin and whisk to combine. Add the flour mixture and the water in alternating steps, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, whisking to combine. Add the chocolate chips and stir to combine.

Divide the batter between the two loaf pans and place them on a rack set in the middle position of your oven. Bake until a cake tester or chopstick inserted in the middle of the loaves comes out clean (or just with chocolate smeared on it but no bread). Now here’s the only tricky part. Baking times vary wildly on this recipe, so I would start checking the bread at 45 minutes, but be prepared for it to take longer. The loaf pictured above took a full 70 minutes to cook thoroughly in my oven.

Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove it from the pan (careful, it’ll be hot!) and place it on a rack to finish cooling completely. Slice and enjoy! It’s especially good with a little cream cheese smeared on top, but great just on its own. Wrap any left overs in plastic wrap and they’ll hold at room temperature for a few days.