Wednesday, December 5, 2012

New Blog!

Hi all,

I realize it's been a while since I've posted on here, and excuses like work and school are legitimate but typical so I'll just leave it at an apology. Having said that, I am in the process of building up a new blog, which I'd love you all to take a look at! I'm going to be transitioning this content to the new blog gradually, and am in the process of converting my Facebook page and Twitter account. I hope to see you at the new blog, which you can find here! The new Twitter handle is @OhGoodnessCakes

Thanks for the support, the views, and the comments here! It's been swell :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

S'mores Cupcakes!

My favourite thing about summer is obvious - campfires! And why, might you ask, do I love them? S'mores, of course. It's not quite campfire weather yet though, so I've found a recipe to enjoy S'mores (and cupcakes!) throughout the rest of the year!

Now, I'll be a first to admit that these did not turn out as I'd hoped. They were nowhere near as beautiful as the photos on the original recipe would lead you to believe (but I've a solution for that, so fear not) and they weren't as chocolatey as I would have liked, considering that they're S'mores cupcakes. I think that the next time I make these, I'll go with what was my initial gut instinct to fill them with chocolate rather than use chocolate chips in the cupcakes. Nevertheless, they were pretty tasty and a nice change from the usual. Not to mention, they're so simple!

For the cupcakes, you'll need:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup milk

1 cup chocolate chips
1-2 cups mini marshmallows

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a regular muffin pan with liners, as this recipe yields 12 cupcakes. In a large bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking powder and salt. Set the bowl aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter, oil and sugar. Beat until well combined and smooth and then add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Next, alternately add portions of the dry mixture and the milk to the butter mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips and then fill the muffin pan with the batter.

At this point, the original recipe would have you pour a few mini marshmallows over the batter and then bake the cupcakes 18-20 minutes. However, I found that the marshmallows puffed up as the recipe indicated they would, and then melted everywhere because it was simply too long for them to be in the oven. So I'd suggest that you bake the cupcakes 10 or so minutes and then top them with marshmallows and continue baking for the remainder of the time. This should ensure that the marshmallows puff up and brown but don't just turn into a melted (albeit tasty) mess. Also, as I mentioned briefly earlier, and because of my personal preference, I'd likely omit the chocolate chips in the future and instead fill the cupcakes with a chocolate ganache or fudge or something instead.

The great thing about these cupcakes is that, had they turned out, the marshmallows look so nice that you don't really need icing. Mine weren't quite as beautiful as I'd have liked, however, so I melted some butterscotch chips and drizzled butterscotch on each cupcake.

Let me know how you like these, should you try them yourself! Perhaps, like me, you'll find that these cupcakes are the perfect solution to having S'mores year-round!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Checkerboard Cake How-To

So, remember that lovely Easter Bunny Cake Topper? I had the cake topper prepared, but I needed a cake for it to top. What I settled on was a checkerboard cake. This was a 3 layer, 9" round cake that, when cut, looks like a checkerboard on the inside. It looks pretty neat, and is much simpler to make than many would care to believe, so today I'd like to share with you how it's done!

The first thing you'll need is cake. I used a simple vanilla cake recipe and then coloured half of it pink, and the other half light yellow, after separating the batter into two separate bowls. You can also use two cake batters, such as vanilla and chocolate, or whatever suits your fancy. Keep in mind, however, that when using two different batters you'll have to pay attention - not every cake has the same baking temperature or baking time, which could be problematic. For simplicity's sake, that is why I chose to simply colour my cake batter. Given that it was for Easter, I thought the pastel colours looked nice together and suited the occasion nicely.

The next thing you'll need is a checkerboard cake pan set. I'm sure that if you can't find one of these handy sets (I found mine at a local Michael's), or if you just don't want to pay for one (I found mine on sale), there is probably a way to do this in some makeshift fashion - I found an alternative to the pan set, which you can see here. Let me know if it works!

Now that you have the batter, and the necessary equipment, what you're going to do next is actually quite simple:

1. Grease cake pans (or flour them, or prepare them in some way so that the cakes don't stick)
2. Place the dividing rings in the first cake pan, and fill the center ring with cake batter. I used pink first, and found it was easiest to fill the pans using a large serving spoon.
3. Fill the middle ring next, holding the divider in place, with the second colour of batter (yellow, in my case).
4. Fill the outer ring with the first colour (pink), still holding the divider in place. Once the third and final ring has been filled, pull the dividing ring out of the cake pan, being sure to lift it straight up so as not to disrupt your cake batter.
5. Rinse the dividing ring thoroughly and dry it, before placing it in the next cake pan. Then, proceed to fill the second cake pan in the same way that  you did the first. Use the same colour pattern, which in my case was pink in the center and outer rings, with yellow in the middle. These two layers, which are now the exact same, will be the top and bottom layers of the cake.
6. For the middle layer of the cake, again rinse the divider and then position it in the third pan. This pan is going to be filled in the opposite way of the first two. In my case, I filled the center with yellow, then proceeded to fill the middle with pink batter, and then the outer ring with yellow batter.
7. Bake and cool the cakes as directed according to the recipes.
8. Level the layers as necessary, and then frost and layer the cake. Begin with one of your two matching layers, as it will be the bottom. Layer icing over the top (I used vanilla buttercream) and then position the opposite cake layer on top. Again, ice the top and then position the third layer.
9. Now, ice the cake as desired, cut, and serve!

When you cut into the cake, you should find that you have achieved a checkerboard appearance! This cake has always been a hit for me, and it can be done in so many ways! Once  you get the hang of the dividing ring, feel free to change up the colours, add more in, change batters, etc! I have made several checkerboard cakes, and a few of my favourites included:

- A vanilla and chocolate checkerboard cake with raspberry buttercream icing
- A chocolate and banana checkerboard cake with cream cheese icing, and
- A vanilla checkerboard cake that I coloured using red, green, and white for christmas

Try out some of your own combinations and please feel free to share them either in the comments below or on the Facebook and Twitter pages! Feel free to subscribe the blog, and enjoy your checkerboard cakes until next time!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Easter Bunny Cake Topper

Happy Easter! With Easter looming on the horizon, I needed a cake for the big family dinner - and no ordinary cake, mind you. Something special. After seeing a video on Youtube, I knew just what my cake needed - a white chocolate Easter bunny topper.

Not only did this cake topper look great, it was so simple to make! Much simpler than your friends and family will care to believe, trust me! In fact, I'm going to tell you exactly how you can do it yourself (or any other topper you wish, really).  The steps are as easy as can be:

1. The first thing you'll need to do for this bunny cake topper is find a relatively simple bunny image (Google Images works wonders for this) and print it.
2. Tape the image to a cookie sheet, making sure that it is laying perfectly flat and will not be moving around on you.
3. Tape a layer of waxed paper over the image (this is going to be your working surface, so make sure it's secure). You'll want to use waxed paper because you can see through it to see the outline of your image.
4. Melt white chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl.
5. Let the chocolate cool just slightly - you want it to still be liquid, but you don't want to burn yourself if it's too hot.
6. Prepare a decorating bag with a small round tip, and then fill the icing bag with the white chocolate.
7. Follow the outline of your bunny, tracing it with the white chocolate.
8. Fill in the remainder of the bunny (once I'd done this, I also used a spoon to smooth out the chocolate a bit. I still wanted some texture, but not quite as much as filling in the bunny left)
9. Decorate if desired - I added some mini marshmallows for a fluffy tail, and a butterscotch chip for an eye
10. Allow to cool and harden (I put it in the freezer - it doesn't take long, and will keep overnight for use later if desired)
11. Position on the cake, and voila (I stood it up in icing and found that it remained quite stable).

Easy as can be, right? And it looks pretty nice on that cake! (Which I'll be telling you about in a couple of days, once I have photos of the inside, because there is quite a surprise in there awaiting you! You can subscribe to the RSS feed to find out about that post ASAP) This can be done in smaller versions for cupcakes, and of course you can use any image for any time of year. This process can also be done with buttercream icing to make an icing transfer by simply allowing each colour and layer of buttercream to freeze entirely before moving on to the next layer of colour.

Try out your own cake toppers and leave a comment about how it works! Better yet, check out the Cake Confections Facebook and Twitter pages and let me know about your cake toppers!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Bacon Blueberry Pancake Cupcakes

While flipping through The Cupcake Diaries early this week, a recipe caught my eye - Bacon Blueberry Pancake Cupcakes. I wasn't sure whether to cringe or not because I'd never considered bacon as a cupcake ingredient. My curiosity got the better of me though, and I knew that I had to try these cupcakes, if for no other reason than to discover whether or not they were as gross as a little part of me imagined they could be (for the record, they were most definitely not gross).

I was not exactly sure what to expect with these. They had the potential to go one of two ways - delicious, or disgusting. They fared on the delicious side, as I was pleasantly surprised to find. The flavours go surprisingly well together, the cupcakes stay moist due to the maple syrup in them, and the salty bacon is offset nicely by the sweet blueberries. I highly recommend that you all give these a try! And, in hindsight, considering my love of breakfast foods, I'm not sure how I could have doubted these little gems.

This recipe will make you 24 cupcakes, for which you'll need:
6 slices maple bacon
1 3/4 cup plus 1 tsp sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean (or an additional 1-2 tsp vanilla)
1 1/4 cups milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Maple Cream Cheese Icing:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
12 oz cream cheese (1 1/2 sticks)
8 cups icing sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line muffin pans with baking cups or grease them to avoid sticking. Fry the bacon until very crunchy, sprinkle with the 1tsp of sugar, and then remove from the heat, strain the grease, and chop up into fine bits. Set the bacon aside for use later. Next, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt, and set it aside as well.

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium speed until well incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly after each. Combine the vanilla, vanilla bean seeds (if using) and milk in a liquid measuring cup. Reduce the mixer speed to low and alternately add the flour and milk mixtures, stopping to scrape the sides as needed. Mix slowly until just combined. Add the maple syrup, mixing slowly. Then, using a spatula, gently fold the bacon bits and blueberries into the batter.

Scoop the batter into baking cups and bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a cupcake comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool entirely.

For the frosting, combine all the ingredients in the stand mixer and beat until smooth and well combined. Turn the mixer to high speed for a couple of minutes at the end to get a light, whipped icing. Ice the cooled cupcakes as desired, and voila!

Let me know what you think of these cupcakes! The great thing about them is that, you could conceivably legitimize eating them for breakfast. Bacon, blueberry pancakes, maple syrup, cream cheese - all legitimate breakfast foods. And what could be better for breakfast than dessert? I have yet to discover an answer to that. Maybe you could make these into your Sunday morning family breakfast. I'm sure they'll thank you for it!

If you're considering bacon in your dessert, here are a few other options if blueberry isn't for you (and please let me know the results if you try any of these!):
Maple Bacon Cupcakes
Maple French Toast and Bacon Cupcakes
Bacon Cupcakes: Sunny Side Up
Chocolate Bacon Cupcakes

Enjoy the weekend, and please feel free to subscribe to the blog or visit the Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages for more delicious updates!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Springtime = Caketime

With the exception of the past two days, we've been blessed with gorgeous spring weather recently! Taking that into consideration, I used the spring as a theme in a recent cake I made for a school celebration. The cake was my favourite chocolate cake, the recipe for which you can find here, or on the recipes page with several of my other faves!

What I really wanted to talk about was how simple it was to make this cake, though some of the details look quite intricate. What you'll take away from this post is not only a simple way to make pretty cakes, but also that I'm a bit lazy (well, not lazy per se, but I sure wouldn't take the time to craft each flower on my own).

To start, I covered the cake in chocolate buttercream, and the followed that with a layer of fondant. This was a simple marshmallow fondant made from green mini-marshmallows.

Next, I divided gum paste into three sections, colouring them blue, pink, and brown respectively. I've come to find that gum paste is much nicer to work with than fondant, so I chose it for the decorations as opposed to the fondant that I'd usually used previously.

Now, here's the real trick - gum paste molds. They are quite possibly the easiest thing to use, honestly. There are several different Wilton ones to choose from, and I chose a spring themed one. Simply dust the molds with corn starch (I'm sure icing sugar would work well too) and then push the gum paste into the molds. Carefully remove the gum paste and trim any areas that may need trimming. Voila, easy peasy.

To attach the gum paste, I used a small brush and sum water but you can of course use gum glue. Once the pieces were attached, I painted sugar dust onto the flowers for some extra dimension. The cake was a hit, and I think (despite my protest that it was much easier than it looked) I was given much more credit than necessary for this quick little cake. It really does look like spring in a cake though, and tasted alright too!

For more updates, ideas, and general cake banter subscribe to the blog or visit the Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages! Until next time!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pink Lemonade Cupcakes

Here it is, lovelies: a long awaited (and hopefully much anticipated) post about Pink Lemonade Cupcakes! When I say long awaited, what I mean is that this post is coming to you much later in the week than usual. For that I apologize, but let me tell you that it was completely worth my while to put this post off. I read 1055 pages, or 3 books, over the course of the last three days. That's the entire Hunger Games trilogy. Worth every minute I put the rest of my tasks on hold.

Having said that, thank you for waiting! I hope that you enjoy these cupcakes as much as I did because they were completely fantastic! I found the original recipe via Pinterest. They stayed extremely moist (although they were a bit sticky) and the glaze was a welcomed change from the usual vast amounts of frosting. These were also a great way to welcome the warm weather we've been having. I'm generally against using cake mix, but for these I've made an exception!

For the cupcakes, you'll need:

1 package lemon cake mix
1 package instant lemon pudding mix
4 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup pink lemonade concentrate
4 drops pink food colour (optional)
Additional 1 cup pink lemonade concentrate
1/2 cup sugar

For the glaze, you'll need:
1/4 cup butter
2 cups icing sugar
2 tbsp cream
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line two muffin pans with paper liners. In a large bowl, combine the cake and pudding mixes, eggs, vegetable oil, milk, food colour, and first portion (1/2 cup) of lemonade concentrate. Beat all of the ingredients together and then pour into the prepared muffin pans. Bake for approximately 20 minutes.

Once the cupcakes are baked, and have cooled ever so slightly, combine the second portion of lemonade concentrate and the sugar. Poke holes, using a fork, in the surface of the cupcakes and then pour the sugar and lemonade mixture over the cupcakes so that the liquid enters the holes in the cupcakes. This will keep the cupcakes extremely moist (although fair warning, they will be sticky).

Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, prepare the glaze. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Once it is completely melted, pour the butter over the icing sugar in a large bowl. Add the cream and then beat the ingredients together until smooth, adding the vanilla if desired. Spread a thin layer of the glaze over the cupcakes.

Once the cupcakes are ready, enjoy! They are the perfect summer cupcake. They're a little bit sweet and a little bit refreshing and a lot delicious. This was my first time making a glaze for any sort of cake so I was happy with how it turned out, and I'll definitely be adding these Pink Lemonade Cupcakes to my recipe book!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Guiness Chocolate Cupcakes

 In honour of St. Patrick's Day, I decided to make something a little festive this week - namely, Guiness Chocolate Cupcakes. Fair warning, however, that these are probably not suitable for children. If you're familiar with Irish Car Bombs (an alcoholic beverage), you'll understand why. If not, I'll take a second here to explain. An Irish Car Bomb is a shot consisting of Bailey's Irish Cream and Irish Whiskey that is dropped into a glass of Guiness and chugged. From what I've been told, it is smooth and delicious if you drink it fast enough, but can curdle if you take too long. These cupcakes are based on this particular beverage, which doesn't quite sound delicious to me in beverage format, but let me tell you that in dessert it's a fantastic combination.

I was lucky enough to stumble upon this recipe while on Pinterest a few days ago, and you can find the original recipe on a fantastic blog, Brown Eyed Baker, but I'll also be sharing it with you below so that you can experience these delightful cupcakes (I'll be sure to mention the slight variations I used)! The Guiness in the chocolate cupcakes keeps them moist and delicious and provides only the subtlest flavour. The faint hint of Irish Whiskey in the chocolate ganache is a perfect offset to the chocolate, and the Bailey's Butter Cream icing is buttery and smooth and outstanding.  These cupcakes also got rave reviews from those who tried them, so without further adieu:

For the cupcakes, you'll need:
1 cup Guiness Stout (I used Guiness Draught rather than the Stout, as Stout generally has a stronger flavour that I wasn't sure I'd enjoy - and they didn't have any Stout when I shopped for ingredients)
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

For the chocolate ganache, you'll need:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate ( I used half unsweetened chocolate, and half semi-sweet chocolate rather than bittersweet)
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp butter, room temperature
2 tsp Irish Whiskey

For the Bailey's Butter Cream, you'll need:
2 cups butter, room temperature
5 cups icing sugar
6 tbsp Bailey's Irish Cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line muffin pans with 24 baking cups. Bring the Guiness and butter to a boil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, and add the cocoa powder. Whisk the mixture until smooth and then allow to cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl and then set it aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the sour cream and eggs until combined. Add the Guiness chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat just to combine. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, beating briefly to combine the ingredients. Using a spatula, fold the batter to ensure everything is combined. Divide the mixture evenly among the baking cups and bake the cupcakes for approximately 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean.

To make the ganache, finely chop the chocolate and place it in a heat proof bowl. In a saucepan, heat the cream until it comes to a boil and allow it to simmer for about a minute. Remove the cream from the stove and pour over the chocolate. Stir the chocolate and cream until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Add in the whiskey and butter and combine well. Let the ganache cool until thick but smooth enough to pipe.

To make the frosting, cream together the butter and icing sugar on medium speed and then add in the Bailey's. Whip until light and fluffy.

Using a cupcake corer, remove the centres of the cupcakes, and fill with chocolate ganache. Follow with the buttercream icing and decorate as desired.

And voila, delicious Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes. Be sure to subscribe to the blog and check out the Facebook and Twitter pages for updates!  Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Maple Chocolate Chip Cupcakes Recipe

Here is the recipe for the Maple Chocolate Chip Cupcakes. I found this in the Cupcake Diaries, and absolutely loved it! Pair it with a maple cream cheese frosting, or a chocolate ganache icing. The book says that this recipe yields 12 cupcakes, however I found that it made 24.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
seeds from one vanilla been (or an additional 1-2 tsp vanilla extract)
1 1/4 cups whole milk, room temperature
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line two cupcake pans with baking cups, or grease and prepare pans. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set the dry ingredients aside. Place the unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and add the sugar. Beat on medium speed until well incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly after each addition.
Combine vanilla, vanilla seeds (if using), and milk in a large liquid measuring cup. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture and milk mixture alternately, scraping the bowl as needed. Mix until just combined. Add in the maple syrup and mix until just combined. Gently fold in chocolate chips. Fill muffin pans and bake 18-20 minutes.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Maple Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

I don't know about you, but I love this time of year - the sun is shining, the temperature is rising, cupcakes in the oven, and spring is on its way. In my family this means one thing - syrup season. As I have cousins who have a sugar bush, I've grown up knowing that this time of year means fresh,  pure maple syrup. In honour of this marvelous time of year, I decided to make maple cupcakes.

I'd never made (or even tried) maple cupcakes before this experience, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Don't get me wrong, I do love maple syrup but thus far I'd only had it with pancakes, waffles and so on, but never in cake. I found a recipe in The Cupcake Diaries, however, and it seemed fitting for a first attempt. The recipe was for maple chocolate chip cupcakes, which you can find here. It also suggested a chocolate ganache frosting, however I didn't have any heavy cream and opted for the maple cream cheese icing instead.

I knew while they were baking that the cupcakes were going to be good, as there was an incredible scent filling the kitchen as they were nearing the end of their baking time (which I found to be a little longer than the recipe indicated - about 21 minutes rather than 18-20). Wanting to get the full experience of the cupcakes, I tried on before they were iced just to experience the cake on its own. The maple syrup ensured that the cupcakes stayed extremely moist while baking, and provided a delicious flavour.

Next was the icing. It was a basic cream cheese recipe (which you can find here) but had an added 1/4 cup of maple syrup. While it was a nice icing, it was extremely sweet. And when I say extremely, I mean it. It was basically a sugar coma in the making, but tasty nonetheless. And cake is cake, so who am I to complain? I do think I'll make sure to have heavy cream on hand next time though to try them with the ganache frosting instead.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Cake Pops How-To

Recently, I was asked to make cake pops for a child's 6th birthday. Never having made cake pops before, I took on the request though I didn't make any promises for success. The procedure is pretty straightforward but it's a finicky process. A finicky process that I'd like to share with you.

To make the cake pops you will need: cake and icing of your choice, sticks for the cake pops, candy melts and sprinkles/decorations to decorate as desired

1. The first thing you'll need to do is bake a cake. I used a basic chocolate cake, and chocolate icing for the cake pops. 

2. Once the cake is cooled, crumble it up into a large bowl, and add a few cups of icing (you may want more depending on how much cake you have - you'll be able to judge an appropriate amount), combining the two thoroughly until the mixture can be shaped into balls.

3. Once you've reached the desired consistency, shape the mixture into balls, and position them on a tray, cookie sheet, or other flat surface that will fit in a fridge or freezer. I used a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

4. Allow the balls to cool in the refrigerator overnight or in the freezer for a couple hours until they are chilled through and hard.

5. Melt the candy in a microwave-safe bowl or over a double boiler. Dip the sticks in the melted candy and then insert them into the chilled cake balls. Allow the sticks to sit for a couple seconds so that the candy hardens.

6. Coat the cake pops in the melted candy. At this point, you'll want to decorate them (if you're choosing to do so). I used candies to make eyes, faces, etc. You'll want to be careful here. The candy melts, while still wet, will run off the cake pops to some extent and your decorations could run off. However, the candy melts harden quickly, so waiting too long will make it impossible to attach the decorations to the pops.

7. Once the cake pops are dressed to your liking, allow the candy melts to harden completely, and enjoy. While the candy melts were hardening, I used a strainer so that any candy that dripped off had something to drip into, and the holes in the strainer were a good size to hold the pops apart from each other while they were drying.

The cake pops turned out alright. They were not nearly as pretty as I would have liked, however there is something of a learning curve when it comes to getting them to look nice. Until I've mastered the art of decorating them though, I'm just going to say they're supposed to be alien cake pops. And now, you know how to make them too! 

Red Velvet Cupcakes

So far, this has proven to be the best Red Velvet recipe I've used. Ones with less cocoa tend to be a bit more bland (the Cake Boss recipe only calls for 1tbsp of cocoa), so these were perfect. They also stayed nice and moist. I did have to make a special grocery store trip to buy apple cider vinegar though, as it wasn't something we had in the pantry to that point in time. The Cupcake Diaries says this recipe makes 12 cupcakes, but it actually yields about 24.

3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
12 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 large, room temperature eggs
4 tbsp red food colour (no-taste liquid food colour - no taste is important because it can give off a slightly bitter taste otherwise)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted
1 1/2 cups whole milk, at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350F and line standard cupcakes pans with baking cups or grease pans. Sift together flour and salt and set aside. In stand mixer bowl, cream together the butter and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes). Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly after each addition.
In a separate bowl, using a whisk, whisk together the food colour, vanilla, and cocoa powder and then slowly add the mixture to the mixer bowl, mixing slowly until well mixed. Add flour and milk alternately in thirds, scraping the bowl as needed and mixing until incorporated.
In a small bowl, add baking soda to the apple cider vinegar, mix thoroughly (you will see them react to one another) and then add the mixture to the batter and mix only until just incorporated.
Fill each muffin well until it is 2/3 full and then bake for 16-18 minutes (I found that these took closer to 20 minutes, but it will vary with each oven, whether it is convection or not, how full muffin wells are, etc.)

Cream Cheese Frosting

The cream cheese frosting I used for the filled Red Velvet cupcakes came from Cupcake Diaries, although I used more vanilla than the recipe suggested. I also used this recipe with the Maple Chocolate Chip Cupcakes by adding 1/4 cup maple syrup to the mixture.

4 tbsp butter (1/4 cup)
6 oz cream cheese (3/4 brick of cream cheese)
4 cups icing sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla (I use about 1 tsp)
1/4 cup maple syrup (if making maple cream cheese frosting)

Beat all of the ingredients together in a stand mixer until well combined and smooth. I like to beat my icing on high for a couple of minutes once everything is combined to make the icing lighter (unless I'm covering it with fondant or something where it's going to be flattened anyway).

Favourite Chocolate Cake

I originally found the recipe for this cake on the Wilton website, and it has easily become one of my absolute favourite cakes, and by far my favourite chocolate cake. It stays really moist and tastes great with butter cream icing (vanilla or chocolate). A word of warning though, the chocolate chips can cause the cake to stick to the bottom of the pan. This can be avoided by putting the chocolate chips in a few minutes after the cake has been in the oven so that they don't sink right to the bottom.

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided into 1 cup portions
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and prepare your pans by flouring them, lining them with parchment, or spraying them with a non-stick spray.
In a microwave safe bowl, or on the stove in a double boiler, melt 1 cup of chocolate chips with the butter until completely melted. Pour chocolate into a larger bowl and add the sugar, beating at a low speed until the sugar is well blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla. Once everything is well combined, add 1/2 cup flour, the baking soda, and salt. Mix well, and then continue to add the remaining 2 cups of flour and the water. I find at this stage that its helpful to alternate between the two in small amounts as it reduces the flour that flies everywhere. Stir in the remaining chocolate chips and pour the batter into prepared pans.
Bake for 35-40 minutes (depending on your oven, and the size of the pans used). When a tooth pick comes out clean, the cake is ready. Allow it to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, before removing and allowing it to cool completely on a rack.

Chocolate Ganache

This recipe is pretty simple and makes a great filling for cupcakes/cakes or as a glaze on your favourite desserts! I found the original on All Recipes, however the original called for bittersweet chocolate and I opted to use semi-sweet instead, and chose not to add the suggested rum.

1 cup heavy cream
9 oz semi-sweet bakers chocolate, finely chopped (if you're using chocolate bakers squares this is 9 squares)

In a saucepan over medium heat, warm cream until just boiling - do not over boil. Remove cream from heat and pour over finely chopped chocolate in a separate bowl. Whisk the cream and chocolate together until all of the chocolate has melted into the cream. Allow to cool slightly for use as a glaze, or cool completely and then beat for use as filling.

Basic Butter Cream Recipe

This is the icing I use for the majority of my decorating. In fact, I've used it so often that I've got it memorized now. The amount of milk needed will vary depending on the consistency of icing you're looking for. 

3/4 cup vegetable shortening
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla
6 cups icing sugar
1/4 - 1/3 cup milk

Cream the shortening and butter together until they're well blended and have achieved a light, creamy texture. Add in the vanilla and beat at a medium speed until well mixed. Add the icing sugar, stopping often to scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Once the icing sugar has been added, the icing will be stiff and dry. Add the milk, a tablespoon at a time, continuing to beat at medium speed. When you have achieved the desired consistency, your icing is ready to use.
For chocolate butter cream, add 4 squares of unsweetened baker's chocolate.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Taste the Rainbow Cake!

Original challenge photo
 If you've met me, you know that I set pretty high standards for myself. You may or may not also know that I don't like to lose - I'm a little bit competitive and I don't like to say no to a challenge. Having said that, recently a friend posted an image to my personal Facebook wall. There was a simple caption with the image, which read. "Do you accept the challenge?"

I didn't think twice about it. Of course I accepted, informing him that he'd have to eat the cake once I'd made it. This was to be a six-layer, rainbow cake with white fondant and a meme on top. I created the meme in advance using gum paste. I coloured a portion of it black and left the remainder white to create the meme. Once it was ready, it was set aside to harden while I focused on the cake.

I used a basic vanilla cake recipe from Baking With The Cake Boss for this cake. The recipe suggested that it was enough cake batter to make two 9" round layers. Once I had the batter prepared, I divided it equally among 6 different bowls - this was about 3/4 cup of batter per bowl. Once I had the batter divided, I added a little bit of soft gel paste food colouring to each bowl. This was the first time I'd used these food colours and they were great! The colour was extremely vibrant and stayed vibrant once baked.

Once the batter was coloured, I sprayed the 9" cake pans with non-stick spray and then poured in the batter. Since there was very little batter for each colour, the cake layers took significantly less time to bake. I found that each layer only took 12-15 minutes. Because the layers are so thin, you want to be careful not to over bake them or they'll be dry. I started checking each layer around 10 minutes.

While the layers cooled, I prepared a butter cream icing (basic white, to accent the vibrant colours) to use to assemble the cake. As there were so many layers, I used a fine layer of icing between each so as not to have too much. Once the entire cake was iced, I covered the cake in white fondant, and then positioned the pre-made meme on the top.

I was pretty happy with how this cake turned out. Once we cut into it, the inside looked great. This was also much simpler to make than it looked, and was a hit with those who saw it. It would make a great cake for birthdays or other colourful events!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Chocolate Ganache-Filled Red Velvet Cupcakes

Growing up, my sister and I didn't always get along, but now that we've grown up I think you could probably go so far as to even call us friends. So, when she asked if I'd make a cake for her 20th birthday, I was more than happy to oblige (after first having a mid-life crisis because my baby sister is 20, which makes me just plain old).

She requested Red Velvet, which I realize I've already mentioned in a previous post. However, these were not just basic Red Velvet cupcakes. They were filled with chocolate ganache, and were made with a different recipe than the previous cupcakes. If you read my last post, you'll notice that the recipe I used came from Baking With The Cake Boss, and while the cupcakes were definitely red, they were also pretty bland. For these cupcakes, I used a recipe found in Cupcake Diaries (at this point I feel the need to mention that I have still yet to watch Cake Boss, and also that I've never seen DC Cupcakes either - Cupcake Diaries was referred to me). This is the third Red Velvet recipe I've used to date, and it's probably my favourite. You can find it, the chocolate ganache recipe, and the cream cheese recipe on the Recipes page! 

What I instead wanted to talk about was filling cupcakes! I've done this a few times now, and have used two different methods. The first was simply using a Wilton 230 decorating tip to penetrate the cupcake and fill it with the filling of choice. I'm not partial to this method because you cant tell how much you've put into the cupcake, and therefore there is often too little filling as opposed to too much in order to avoid the cupcake breaking. I found that the majority of the filling ended up being absorbed into the cupcake this way because there was so little of it.

Recently, however, I purchased a cupcake corer from Golda's Kitchen. This is what I used when making my sister's cupcakes, and it made filling them a very easy, straightforward process. All you need to do is:

1. Bake cupcakes of choice, as per insturctions
2. Allow cupcakes to cool (you don't want to core them while they're too warm or you'll risk breaking the cupcake)
3. Position corer over centre of cupcake and gently push downward
4. Once corer has been inserted into the cupcake, twist the corer back and forth to cut the inside of the cupcake
5. Remove corer from cupcake, and remove cupcake centre from corer

And voila, cored cupcakes, ready to be filled. If you're using the ganache, like I did, you'll want to make sure it's cooled before filling the cupcakes. Once they're filled as desire, ice your cupcakes and enjoy!

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