L.O.L Surprise! Themed Cake

This year for my youngest niece’s birthday she requested an L.O.L Surprise! themed birthday cake. And just in case you don’t know, L.O.L Surprise! are mini dolls that come in a toy ball. You have to peel away the layers of the ball to get to the doll. The layers include stickers, the dolls clothes and accessories and finally the doll. The surprise is not knowing what doll is in the ball. Oh and a little FYI the L.O.L stands for Lil Outrageous Littles. Granted, they have evolved into more than just a mini doll in a ball. They now come in different sized balls, big surprise balls, pets, and so forth. These toy makers have to strike while the iron is hot on any toy. The first themed cake I ever saw for the toy was a round ball similar to the ball the dolls come in. I wasn’t going to attempt something that extreme. I opted to go for something a bit simpler, but, still echoing the whimsical and fun nature of the dolls.

Initially I was planning on decorating the cake with fondant lollipops. I pretty much knew how to create them but I watched a few tutorials on YouTube just to be sure. I bought fondant in different colors, not my usual Wilton brand fondant, but one that I had used before, but, when I started making them it turned into a bit of a disaster (Insert the emoji of the girl with her hand to her head… LOL!). I am not sure if it was because it was warm that day or the fondant was just too soft, or a combination of both, but, my fondant kept thinning out when I tried to twist the fondant together as I created the lollipop. So much so that it would break before I was done winding the lollipop. I ended up with a few decent ones, but, I wasn’t happy enough with them to use them for the cake. Also, even after leaving them out for a few days the fondant never hardened.

My back-up plan was to buy lollipops I saw at my local party store if all else failed, but, I decided to try one more thing… Meringue Lollipops. To make the meringue I whisked together room temperature egg whites and sugar in the bowl of my stand mixer over boiling water. Once the sugar had completely dissolved I placed the bowl on my mixer and added in vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. Using the whisk attachment and setting the mixer to high I whisked the mixture until stiff peaks formed. Next, I divided the meringue into three bowls and tinted each one using gel food colors, gently folding the colors into the meringue. I spooned the three colors side-by-side on a piece of plastic wrap, folded the plastic wrap in half and then rolled the entire thing to create a cylinder shape, making sure to tightly wound the ends of the plastic wrap. I snipped one of the ends off and then dropped it into a piping bag I had fitted with a Wilton 1M tip. I then piped 1M swirls on a parchment lined baking sheet to create the lollipops and then gently inserted a lollipop stick into each. I baked them in a 200 F preheated oven for about 2.5 hours. The meringue has to be baked at a low temperature for a long period of time so it can properly dry out. I let them cool inside of the oven with the door slightly open and ended up with perfect (and edible) lollipops to decorate the cake with. I kept these stored in an airtight container until I was ready to use them.

Now, for the cake. I had every intention of baking the cake from scratch, but, box cake was on sale the week before and when you are planning on decorating a cake the same weekend you have a long list of other things to get done around the house the easy road is the way to go. I wanted the cake to have some height so I baked four 9-inch cakes using two boxes of Devil’s Food cake mix. I opted to use three of them and kept the fourth one to snack on. I made the cakes the night before and then wrapped them in plastic wrap and stored them in the refrigerator.

The next day I made two batches of my go to Fluffy Vanilla Frosting and an easy and quick chocolate mousse for the filling (I beat 1 cup each of whole milk and heavy cream along with a packet of Jell-O Instant pudding until creamy). I then torted the cake, filled it, and crumb coated it. I placed it in the refrigerator for a half hour while I tinted the remaining frosting.

 

I fitted three piping bags with different sized round tips and filled each with the tinted frosting.

Once the cake was ready I piped the frosting around and on top of the cake, smoothed it and then sprinkled some sprinkles on it. At this point I placed it back in the refrigerator so I could finish decorating it the following day.

 

The next day it was time to decorate. I had searched online for L.O.L Surprise! cut-outs and while I did find some that cost about $10, I also found a website with free clip-art. So, I decided to save my $10 and printed the clip-art out on cardstock and then cut out the dolls myself. Here’s a pic of my very technical way of getting the L.O.L Surprise! paper dolls on the cake. I place a piece of double-sided tape on the back of them, placed a lollipop stick on it and then used regular tape to hold it all together… it worked! I also placed a few of the cut outs on the front of the cake. For those pieces I taped a piece of wax paper behind them before adhering them to the cake with left-over frosting.

After a little positioning I got everything on the cake and was very happy with the final outcome.

   

For transporting purposes I had to remove all of the decorations…

But, I am happy to say that everything went back on just fine once it reached its destination. The Birthday Girl was very happy with it. What will the next themed cake be???

Mini Fruit Tarts

I recently made a bunch of bite-sized treats (and cookies) for a party some friends of mine were having. A lot of brainstorming went into what I should make. I was all over the place with ideas. At one point I was actually thinking of making petit fours, but, I quickly nixed that idea when I couldn’t find or come up with a recipe that would be completely foolproof. I knew I was going to make cheesecake brownie bites (which are always a hit, you can find the recipe here), Raspberry Ripple Cupcakes, Rugelach (another hit), Chocolate Chip Cookies and Peanut Butter Cookies, but, I wanted something new to make. So, after some random Google searches I settled on Mini Fruit Tarts. They seemed simple enough, and, I made things even easier for myself when at the last minute I decided to buy frozen phyllo shells instead of making the dough myself.

I found these phyllo shells at my local supermarket in the frozen food section. To prep the shells I simply placed them on a baking sheet and baked them in a 350 F preheated oven for four minutes to make them crispy.

While they were cooling I made the filling. I combined mascarpone cheese, heavy whipping cream and confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl and used a handheld mixer to beat the ingredients until stiff peaks formed. I transferred the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a medium-sized round piping tip and piped the filling into each of the shells, but, you could use a small spoon to spoon the mixture into them as well. I then placed the filled tarts in the refrigerator while I chopped up strawberries and kiwis to top them. Once the fruit was ready I topped each of the tarts with a piece of strawberry and kiwi and a blueberry. I honestly think that I had 45 tarts done in less than an hour. You can’t beat that!

Here are some pics of all the desserts I made. Oh yeah, at the last minute (the night before) I decided to make mini carrot cupcakes as well. I ended up using my go-to Carrot Cake recipe and since I didn’t halve it I ended up with about 100 mini cupcakes. I only ended up frosting half of them and the rest ended up being the perfect little snack to munch on.

 

Mini Fruit Tarts

  • Servings: 22 (2 each)
  • Print

Ingredients:

3 boxes of phyllo shells*

1 cup mascarpone cheese

1 cup heavy whipping cream

5 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Fruit for topping**

 

*I used Athens Phyllo Shells, each box contains 15 shells

**I used chopped strawberries and kiwis and blueberries

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place phyllo shells on a large baking sheet and bake for 3-5 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on the pan.

In a large bowl combine the mascarpone cheese, heaving whipping cream and confectioners’ sugar and using a handheld mixer beat the ingredients until stiff peaks form.

Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a round tip and pipe the mascarpone cream into the cooled shells. You could also use a spoon to spoon the mixture into the shells.

Top with your desired fruit and chill until ready to serve.

Stars and Stripes Cake

The unofficial kick-off to the summer is upon us… Memorial Day. And thankfully it’s shaping up to be a great weekend where I am. Lately every weekend seems to have at least one day of rain or unseasonably low temperatures. Not good for the yard work I have to get done. My lawn is so high that my dog seems to be avoiding walking on the grass when I let him out. Not that I can blame him, certain parts of the lawn seem to be taller than him, he’s a Chihuahua. And he’s a not teacup sized one, he’s pretty average so that should give you an idea of just how high my lawn is. But, my goal this weekend is to get out there and clean things up. Wish me luck! After I am done with the front yard I have to then tackle the backyard. So, are you planning on firing up your grill this weekend and having a BBQ or are you just going to be taking it easy and enjoy that extra day to the weekend? If it’s the former have you thought about dessert? Today I am sharing with you a fun twist on a stars and stripes themed cake that would be perfect. I will say that this cake takes some patience and the ability to forge on when (and if) it doesn’t seem like it’s going to come together. See, the stipes on this cake are vertical as opposed to horizontal. Huh? Yes, the cake layers are rolled together to form the stripes. Are you still scratching your head?

I began by preheating my oven to 350 F. I sprayed a half sheet pan (13 x 18 inches) with baking spray and then placed a piece of parchment paper in the pan and sprayed it with baking spray as well. Now, I do have a cookie sheet this size that I was tempted to use, but, opted not to because sometimes the sheet twists while it’s in the oven and I was concerned that my cake would then spill over or I would end up with a twisted cake. I ended up using this pan. Which I did purchase at my local Target.

After making the batter for the cake I poured it into my prepared pan and baked it for about 18 minutes. A couple of notes on making the batter. Make sure you use a whisk attachment when making the meringue with. I have made meringue before and I have always used my whisk attachment on my stand mixer, but, I was absentmindedly following the recipe and I used my beater attachment and my eggs whites never became meringue no matter the speed or time my mixer was going. Also, while the recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of red food coloring, I ended up using about 1 1/2 tablespoons of McCormick’s Red Food Coloring. I started with the tablespoon, but, the cake was looking a little pink and while I knew that the color would gets darker as it sits and as the cake baked I wanted to be sure I ended up with a vibrant red in the end.

Immediately after taking the cake out of the oven I sprinkled it with confectioners’ sugar and placed a cotton towel over the cake. I placed a baking sheet over the towel, bottom side to the towel, and then flipped the cake onto the towel. I carefully removed the pan and parchment paper from the cake. Starting on one of the short ends of the cake I began rolling the cake and towel together into a log.

I then placed it on a wire rack to let the cake cool completely.

While the cake was cooling I made the frosting. I would liken the frosting to a whipped cream cheese frosting. I began by beating three 8oz. bars of cream cheese with confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until it was smooth. With the mixer on low, I then added in vanilla extract and heavy whipping cream. Once the whipping cream was incorporated I increased the speed to high until the frosting was smooth.

Once the cake was cooled I placed it in an extra-large baking sheet to unroll it so I would have room to work. I unrolled it and this is where my patience and perseverance were tested. As is common with rolled cakes, my cake cracked in certain spots. I cut the cake into three long strips, about 4 inches wide each, and then spread frosting on each of the strips. I should have spread more, but since my cake had cracked I was concerned that if I used too much frosting I would have ended up with a big mess.

And now, the fun part. Rolling the cake together. I started by rolling one of the strips together, from short end to short end. I placed that piece on another strip, making sure to line up where the first strip ended with the start of the next strip. I repeated this for the final strip and then turned the cake flat side down on a cardboard cake round to frost.

I frosted the cake with a thin layer of frosting and then refrigerated it for 30 minutes. Unfortunately my cake wasn’t perfectly round due to the seam on the cake. I did my best to fill that seam with extra frosting to make the cake round, ultimately I decided that would be the back of the cake.

After the half hour I finished frosting the cake and used a small offset spatula to give the cake a slightly striped design. Next, I placed three different sized star cookie cutters on top of cake and sprinkled blue sanding sugar into them and I used a straw to spread the sprinkles into the corners of the cookie cutter. I carefully removed the cookie cutters and my stars and stripes cake was done.

And here’s a look inside the cake once sliced.

Overall this cake was delicious. Even though it’s red, it’s not quite a red velvet cake. This cake is much lighter and has a stronger chocolate flavor.

 

Stars and Stripes Cake

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

1 1/4 cups cake flour

1 tablespoon Dutch process cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

8 large eggs, separated

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup canola oil

1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons red food coloring

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

 

For the Frosting:

3 8 oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

3 cups heavy whipping cream, cold

Blue sanding sugar, for decorating

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 13 x 18 inch baking sheet with baking spray, line with parchment paper and then spray the parchment paper with baking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder and set aside.

In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy. Beat in the cream of tartar and salt. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly beat in 1/2 cup of sugar. Increase the speed to high and continues whisking until stiff shiny peak form, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the meringue to a bowl and set aside.

Using the beater attachment on your stand mixer, beat the egg yolks, vanilla extract and remaining 1/2 cup of sugar in the same bowl you used for the meringue (no need to clean) on high speed until double in volume. Beat in the water and canola oil.

Sift the flour mixture into the egg yolk mixture and then stir together until just combined.

Add in the food coloring and beat on high speed until incorporated, about 1 minute.

Stir a dollop of the meringue mixture into the batter and fold in using a rubber spatula. Add the remaining meringue and continue folding together the two until no white streaks remain.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and using an offset spatula spread the batter evenly in the pan. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Once out of the oven, loosed the edges of the cake with a knife and dust the top of the cake with confectioners’ sugar. Place a cotton kitchen towel over the cake and then place another baking sheet on top of the towel.

Flip the cake onto the towel and remove the pan and parchment paper. Starting on the short end roll the cake and the towel together into a log. Place on a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cake cools make the frosting. In a bowl beat the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until smooth. With the mixer on low add in the vanilla extract and whipping cream. Once incorporated, slowly increase the speed to high and continue beating until smooth.

Once the cake is cool, unroll the cake on a large baking sheet. Divide the cake into three long strips, about 4 inches each. Spread an even layer of frosting on each of the strips, use about 1/3 of the frosting. Be sure to frost under the curled ends as well.

Roll one of the strips into a tight spiral. Move the spiral over to the next strip. Make sure to line up the ends, and then roll the cake into a fatter spiral. Move this piece over to the last strip, once again lining up the ends, and roll the cake into a large spiral.

Turn the cake flat side down onto a cake cardboard or a cake platter. Spread a thin layer of frosting over the cake. You will need to use more frosting to cover up the seams. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Finish frosting the cake with the remaining frosting.

Place different sized star shaped cookie cutters on top of the cake and sprinkle blue sanding sugar inside the cookie cutter. Use a small brush (or straw as I did) to spread the sugar into the cookie cutter. Carefully remove the cookie cutters and refrigerate the cake until ready to serve.

Recipe from Food Network

Chocolate Cheesecake with a Mint Cookie Crust

I got the idea for this cheesecake after watching a So Yummy video post on Instagram. It had a layer of melted chocolate mint cookies serving as the crust to a chocolate cheesecake. After searching for their recipe I decided it might be a little too sweet for my taste – it involved 4 cans of sweetened condensed milk. Yikes! So, I decided to improvise a bit.

I began by processing about 25 thin mint cookies (I used Keebler’s Grasshopper Cookies) in my food processor into fine crumbs. I then added in 3 tablespoons of melted butter and pulsed the mixture until it was combined. Next, I pressed the crumbs into the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.

In a microwave safe bowl I combined a 12 oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips with milk and microwaved it until the chocolate chips began melting. I heated the mixture two times at 40 seconds. I stirred the mixture until the chocolate chips had completed melted and the mixture was smooth.

Next I made the cream cheese mixture. In a large bowl I beat together cream cheese and sugar using a handheld mixer on low speed. Once the two ingredients were thoroughly combined I added in 4 large eggs, one at a time. Beating well after each addition. Finally, I stirred in vanilla extract and flour.

After combining the cooled chocolate and cream cheese mixture I then poured it into my prepared crust. I placed the pan on a baking sheet and then baked it in a 350 F preheated oven for about an hour. Once the cheesecake was done I turned off the oven and open the door a bit and let the cheesecake cool in the oven for an additional hour. After the hour, I removed the cheesecake from the oven and let it cool completely before covering it and placing it in the refrigerator overnight.

I topped it with a few mint leaves…

And then sliced myself a piece. The cheesecake was perfectly creamy and not overly sweet and the crust had the perfect hint of mint.

Chocolate Cheesecake with a Mint Chocolate Crust

Ingredients:

Crust:

25 chocolate mint cookies

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

 

Cheesecake:

1/2 cup milk*

1 12oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

3 8oz. packages of cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons flour

 

*I used whole milk, but, you could use 2% or skim

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Make the crust: Using a food processor process the cookies until they become fine crumbs. Add in the melted butter and continue mixing until the mixture is combined. Press the crumbs along the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.  Place the pan on a baking sheet and set aside.

In a microwave proof bowl combine the chocolate chips and the milk. Heat in the microwave in 30-second intervals. Stirring between each time. Once the chocolate chips have begun to melt continue to stir until the chocolate chips are completed melted and the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl beat the cream cheese and sugar together using a handheld mixer on low speed until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating to combine well after each addition. Add in the vanilla and flour.

Stir the melted chocolate into the cream cheese mixture. Stir the mixture well so that the two are well incorporated.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared pie crust and place in the oven on top of the baking sheet.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the cake 1-inch from the edge comes out clean. The center of the cheesecake may not look set, but that is okay.

Turn the oven off and open the door a few inches and leave the cheesecake in the oven for 1 hour to cool. After the hour, transfer the cheesecake to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, cover the cheesecake and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour

 

Margarita Cheesecake

Instead of drinking a margarita this past Sunday for Cinco de Mayo I opted to bake one instead in the form of a cheesecake. While this was a great dessert to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, the light lime flavor also makes it perfect for the upcoming warmer months of the summer.

I began by making the crust. I crushed Nilla Wafers into crumbs and then combined it with melted butter and then pressed it into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. I then placed it in the refrigerator until the cheesecake mixture was ready. While I used Nilla Wafers for my crust, you could opt to get the salty rim of a traditional margarita in the form of a crust made with crushed pretzels instead.

Using a hand mixer I bet three room temperature 8oz. blocks of cream cheese until it was light and fluffy. I then added in sour cream, sugar, Grand Marnier, tequila, freshly squeezed lime juice and lime zest. I continued beating everything on medium speed until it was well combined. I then added in four eggs one at a time. On the off chance you taste the filling and think that it’s too much alcohol don’t worry, the alcohol flavor will burn off while the cheesecake is baking. On the converse side, if you feel like it’s not enough now would be the time to add in more.

I poured the filling into the prepared pan and then placed it on a baking sheet and baked it in a 350 F preheated oven for about 50 minutes, or until the center was just set.

A few minutes before removing the cheesecake from the oven I combined sugar, lime juice and sour cream in a small bowl. After removing the cheesecake from the oven I spread this sour cream mixture over the cheesecake and then placed it back in the oven for an additional five minutes.  This gives the cheesecake a nice topping and one other thing I like about it, it hides any cracks.

I then placed the cheesecake on a wire rack to cool and then placed it in the refrigerator for a few hours for it to chill.

Before serving, I removed the ring from the pan and garnished the cheesecake with thin slices of lime.

Margarita Cheesecake

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups vanilla wafer cookie crumbs*

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

3 8oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature

2 cups sour cream, divided

1 1/4 cups sugar

3 tablespoons Grand Marnier**

3 tablespoons gold tequila**

4 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed

2 teaspoons lime zest

4 large eggs

Thin lime slices, for garnish

 

*I used Nilla Wafers

**I used the 5cl/50ml sized bottles. Each had exactly 3 tablespoons. For the tequila, I used Jose Cuervo Gold.

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Mix the cookie crumbs and butter in a medium bowl until well blended. Press the crumbs onto the bottom and 1-inch up the side of a 9-inch springform pan.  Refrigerate.

In a large bowl beat the cream cheese with a hand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in 1 cup of sour cream, 1 cup of sugar, Grand Marnier, tequila, 3 tablespoons of the lime juice and the lime zest and beat until well combined. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating until just blended after each addition.

Remove the pan from the refrigerator and pour the filling into the crust. Place on a baking sheet and bake until the center is just set, about 50 minutes. In a small bowl combine the remaining sour cream, sugar and lime juice and stir well to combine. Pour this over of the cheesecake and smooth with an offset spatula. Return the cheesecake to oven for an additional 5 minutes.

Transfer the cheesecake to a wire rack to cool completely and then chill in the refrigerator at least 4 hours prior to serving.

Before serving, remove the ring from the pan and garnish the cheesecake with the lime slices.

Recipe from Food Network

Churro Cake with a Spiced Chocolate Sauce

With Cinco de Mayo just a few days away (and it falling on the weekend this year) you may be searching for some fun and delicious recipes to make. If you’re thinking of making churros but aren’t keen on the idea of having to fry them or just want a fun alternative how about a Churro Cake with a Spiced Chocolate Sauce for drizzling over it. And don’t worry, you will still have the cinnamon sugar coating that makes a churro extra yummy.

I began by combining my dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt – in a medium bowl and setting it aside. In the bowl of my stand mixer I beat butter, sugar and vanilla on medium-high speed until it was light and fluffy – about five minutes. I then added in four eggs and two egg yolks, one at a time. And finally I beat in sour cream. With the mixer on low, I added in the flour mixture in three parts alternating with milk. Once the mixtures were combined I poured it into a Bundt pan that I sprayed with baking spray. I tapped the pan down on my counter a few times to release any air bubbles and then baked it in a 350 F preheated oven for about 50 minutes. Once the cake was done I let it sit in the pan for about 10 minutes and then inverted it on a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cake was cool I placed it along with the cooling rack over a large bowl. I combined cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl and set it aside. In another small bowl I melted three tablespoons of unsalted butter in the microwave. Next, using a pastry brush, I brushed sections of the cake with the melted butter and then sprinkled the cinnamon-sugar mix over the section. Pressing the mixture on to the cake to adhere it. Hence me placing the rack over a large bowl, any excess melted butter and cinnamon sugar mixture simply fell into the bowl, making for an easier clean-up. You want to do this in sections, if you simply brush the entire cake and then tried sprinkling it with the cinnamon sugar it will not adhere to the cake as well (or at all) since the butter will seep into the cake.

Next, I made the chocolate sauce to go along with the cake. I combined half and half, chile powder, dark brown sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla extract and salt in a small saucepan. I brought it to a simmer over medium heat and then removed it from the heat and added in semi-sweet chocolate chips. I let the mixture stand for a few minutes and then stirred it until it was smooth.

The best way to eat this… With the chocolate sauce drizzled over the cake. YUM! This cake was hit amongst my friends with some of us going back for seconds and practically drenching the cake with the sauce – it’s that GOOD!

Churro Cake with a Spiced Chocolate Sauce

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

2 3/4 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 3/4 cups sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

4 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks, at room temperature

1/2 cup sour cream

3/4 cup whole milk

 

For the Cinnamon Sugar Topping:

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

 

For the Spiced Chocolate Sauce:

1 1/4 cups half-and-half

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon chile powder**

Pinch of salt

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips*

 

*original recipe called for 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

**If you want your sauce to have more of a kick add in 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of chile powder

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Prep a Bundt pan by spraying it with baking spray (or brushing it with butter and then coating it with flour).

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or using a handheld mixer, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla extract on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, and then the egg yolks. Beat in the sour cream. Reduce the speed to low and add in the flour mixture in three parts alternating with the milk. Beat until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and tap the pan on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles. Smooth the top of the batter with a spatula and then place in the oven for about 50 – 55 minutes. Until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then loosen the edges with your cake tested or butter knife and invert the cake on a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cake has cooled make the topping.

Combine the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Place the cake along with the rack over a large bowl. Working in sections, brush the cake with the melted butter and then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the cake, pressing to adhere it to the cake.

To make the spiced chocolate sauce combine all of the ingredients, minus the chocolate chips, in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and add in the chocolate chips. Let it sit for 2 minutes and then stir until smooth.

Serve the cake with the spiced chocolate sauce.

Recipe from Food Network

Mess Free Piping

I’ve been seeing people use plastic wrap inside of their piping bags for some time now- on other blogs, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.- especially when piping two or more colors together to create a fun swirl on a cupcake or to pipe flowers. I haven’t had a reason to try it until this past weekend when I decided to make chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting to go along with the carrot cake I made for Easter. Carrot cake is usually not a hit amongst kids so I decided I should bake something that was more kid friendly and you can you can’t get more kid friendly than a chocolate cupcake with colorful frosting.

After tinting the frosting I placed small amounts of it on a decent sized piece of plastic wrap as below.

Next I folded the plastic wrap in half and then simply rolled the entire thing to create a cylinder shape and tightly wound the ends of the plastic wrap so the frosting couldn’t “escape.” I quickly realized that I may have placed too much frosting on the plastic wrap since I didn’t have too much plastic wrap on the ends to wind together.

I then snipped one of the ends of the plastic wrap off and dropped it into a piping bag that I had already fitting with a Wilton 2D piping tip.

And I simply piped a large rosette on the cupcake to get this beautiful and colorful top.

I used the same technique to decorate the top of my Easter cake, using pastel colors to match the Mini Cadbury Eggs I placed on top of the cake. Instead of rosettes though, I simply decorated the cake with drop flowers, once again using the Wilton 2D piping tip.

In all honesty I think I will be using this plastic wrap method going forward with all of my cake decorating / piping. One of the things I dislike about using piping bag is no matter how tight I wind the top of the bag or use a rubber band to seal it, frosting always seems to seep out. And also, I just find it super messy having to refill the bag with more frosting while I am decorating. With this method I can simply remove the plastic wrap wrapped frosting and drop in another. Yes, I may be using extra plastic wrap doing this, but, it’s worth it.