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???

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.

Hidden Heart Cake

Are you looking for something fun to bake for Valentine’s Day but are thinking that it’s too late? Well, this may just be the cake for you. All you need is 2 boxes of cake mix (I used white & chocolate), a loaf pan, a 2-inch heart cookie cutter and pink (or red) food coloring. While I used a white cake mix tinted pink for the hearts inside of a chocolate cake, you could try pink hearts inside of a white cake, red hearts inside of a white cake, red hearts inside of a yellow cake and so forth. It’s really up to you.

To begin, I prepped a box of white cake mix per the directions and then tinted it pink with a few drops of gel food coloring. I poured it into a loaf pan that I sprayed with baking spray and baked it in a 350 F oven for 40 minutes, the cake wasn’t quite done but was browning considerably along the top so I dropped the temperature to 325 F and baked it for another 10 minutes. I let the cake cool for about 20 minutes in the pan and then transferred it to a wire rack to cool completely.

After the cake cooled, I sliced it into approximately 1 inch slices. Some of the slices were a little thicker, some a little thinner. In the end, it didn’t matter.

Next, using a 2-inch heart cookie cutter I cut hearts from the slices of cake and set them aside. Those mini hearts were for a different baking project that turned out to be a fail… Oh well.

You will have a bunch of cake scraps left, I ended up snacking on a few pieces and then tossing the rest. If you make cake pops, or have been wanting to make cake pops, save these scraps for just that.

I then prepared the chocolate cake mix per the box directions. I spread about a 1/2 inch layer of the batter into the bottom of my loaf pan that I prepped with baking spray.

Next, I arranged the 2-inch hearts in a row down the middle of the pan, leaving a small space between the first and last heart and the pan, but, making sure the hearts in the middle were close together. This is why I said that if your slices aren’t exactly 1-inch thick it won’t matter. Once you line them together it will all be good.

I used a ladle to slowly pour the rest of the batter along the sides and on the top of the hearts. You don’t want to just pour the batter into the pan, this could disturb the hearts and you could end up with chocolate in between them. I did make sure that the hearts were completely covered with the batter. You don’t want a heart peeking out of the top of the cake… that would ruin the surprise.

I then baked it in a 350 F preheated oven for about 40 minutes. I inserted a cake tester and the inside was still a little underdone so I lowered the oven temperature to 325 F and baked it for an additional 10 minutes, similar to what I did with the pink cake. Once again, I let the cake cool for about 20 minutes in the pan and then removed it and let it completely cool on a wire rack.

Once it was cool it was time to slice and see if my hidden heart cake was a success (and it was)!

YouTube Themed Cake

My blog started with an Elmo Cake for my niece’s birthday, and throughout the years there have been other character themed cakes, Minnie Mouse, Frozen, Trolls and last year’s Descendants. As you can see the themes aged as she did and by whatever was popular at the time. Well, fast forward 7 years and for her 9th birthday she requested a YouTube Cake. Initially she said she wanted the Cookies and Cream Cake I made a few months back (her younger sister will only eat Oreos in mini form thanks to that cake) but I guess she wasn’t ready to let go of a themed birthday cake just yet. Who knows what next year will bring, or what I will be making for my younger niece come June. I am thinking she’ll still want some sort of character.

Now, a YouTube cake sounded easy enough. It didn’t require any special decorations, the colors were simple (white, black and red) and I pretty much had all of the tools I needed to make it. But, there was one thing. While looking at some cakes on Pinterest and Instagram, I noticed that people opted to make their YouTube themed cakes round, but, I felt it really should be a square cake. Not that that was an issue, but then I wondered, how would I cover it in fondant? I sometimes have mishaps when covering round cakes (they seem to always tear) so I could only imagine that covering a square cake would be even more difficult. Especially trying to get the edges sharp. So, I thought, isn’t there a way I could panel the fondant. And of course a quick Google search assured me that yes, fondant paneling was possible and from the looks of it easier – I am actually thinking of trying the technique on the next round cake I make that needs to be covered in fondant. I decided to watch a few videos just to pick up a few tips and tricks. And I quickly learned that one of the keys to fondant paneling is to freeze the fondant for a few minutes after rolling and cutting it so it’s firm and easier to trim and place on the place.

I began by baking two 9-inch square chocolate cakes. After letting the cakes cool, I wrapped them in plastic wrap and left them on my kitchen counter. The following day I made a chocolate mousse filling for the cake and I took a major short-cut and used store bought chocolate frosting. I haven’t quite mastered making chocolate frosting myself. Anyone have a good foolproof recipe they can share? I leveled, filled and frosted the cake and then placed it in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day it was time to cover the cake in fondant. Normally I use confectioners’ sugar to dust my rolling mat and pin, but, opted this time to use cornstarch and what I found was that the fondant didn’t get as soft. I began by cutting a square piece for the top of the cake. To leave room for error, I cut the fondant about a quarter of an inch larger than what I needed it to be. To place it on the cake, I matched it to one corner of the cake so all I would have to trim was two sides. Now, I didn’t place this piece in the freezer since I thought it would be easy to trim it since it was just lying flat on the cake, a mistake. While I was able to trim it, it would have been easier had it been frozen.

Next, I covered the sides of the cake. Before I started though, I decided which sides of the cake would be the front, back and sides. This is important as you cover the sides of the cake first before the front and back. Since the cake is a square, all of the sides were the same length and width. I rolled and cut two pieces for the sides and placed them in the freezer on a cookie sheet for 5 minutes. After the 5 minutes I removed them and before placing them on the cake, I lightly brushed the cake with water so the fondant would adhere better. As I did with the top piece, I lined the fondant piece with one bottom corner of the cake and then used my fondant smoother to smooth (and stick) the fondant onto the cake. I then trimmed the fondant. I used a small knife that I sharpened. I think next time I will purchase an X-Acto knife to get a cleaner and closer cut. I repeated this three more times and was pretty happy with my end result. It wasn’t perfect, but, I was happy that I didn’t have any mishaps and that my fondant actually stuck to the cake and that I had clean edges and no fondant tears! I would have benefitted from trimming my cake prior to frosting it so it would have sharper and cleaners sides. Each time is a learning experience so I am sure next will be better.

Then it was time to make this square into a YouTube cake. I cut out letters and a triangle (for the play button) using white and black fondant. For the red pieces, I actually used a band aid cookie cutter I purchased to make a Doc McStuffins themed cake a few years back.

And to cover up the unfinished edges around the cake, I decided to put a black trim over it. To adhere all of these pieces I lightly brushed the back of them with a little water. And that was it. This cake was a hit with the Birthday girl and everyone who saw it!

This is the recipe I used for the chocolate cake. I have been using it for years now and haven’t had any issues or complaints. As for the chocolate mousse, I used the mousse recipe I made for the Spice Cupcakes and instead of using a box of pumpkin spice Jell-O mix I used chocolate.

Yule Log Cake

Each day this week I will be bringing you a cake / cupcake idea that is perfectly festive for this time of the year… It’s Holiday Cake Week.

To kick off Holiday Cake Week a traditional cake seen around the holidays… A Yule Log Cake. It originated in France and is a sponge cake rolled and then frosted with chocolate frosting to resemble a tree bark. Customarily a small portion of the cake is cut off and either placed on top of the cake or protruding from the side of the cake to resemble a chopped off branch. The cake can then be furthered decorated with powdered sugar to resemble snow, fresh berries, mushrooms made of marzipan and so forth.

I opted to go the easy route with my cake and used a box cake mix and a container of vanilla frosting for the filling. Also, while the recipe didn’t call for it, I ended up a slicing off a portion of the cake and placing it on the side to get that traditional branch look. And to top it off, I sifted confectioners’ sugar over the cake and placed some decorative holly berry picks I got from a local craft store around it.

Yule Log Cake

Ingredients:

Cake:

6 eggs

1 box of Devil’s food cake mix

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

 

Chocolate Frosting:

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 tablespoon corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Filling:

1 container whipped vanilla frosting

 

Directions:

Heat oven to 375 F. Line the bottom of a 15x10x1-inch (Jelly Roll Pan) pan with foil or waxed paper, spray with baking spray.

In a large bowl beat the eggs with an electric mixer on high until the eggs are thick and lemon colored, about 5 minutes. Add the cake mix, water and oil and beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then on medium speed for 1 minutes. Pour about 2 3/4 – 3 cups of the batter into the prepared pan. Use the remaining batter to make cupcakes, or as you wish.

Bake 14 to 16 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly touched in the center. Turn the cake out on a clean kitchen towel sprinkled with the confectioners’ sugar. While the cake is still hot, carefully roll up the cake and towel together from one shorter end to the other. Cool completely on a wire rack from 1 hour.

While the cake is cooling make the chocolate frosting… In a medium pot heat the whipping cream over medium heat until the cream starts to boil. Remove from the heat and add in the chocolate chips and corn syrup, let stand for 3 minutes. Beat with a wire whisk until smooth and then add in the vanilla. Refrigerate for about 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes, until it’s a spreadable consistency.

After an hour, unroll the cake carefully and remove the towel. Spread the vanilla frosting evenly over the cake and roll it up once again. Place the cooling rack on sheet of waxed paper and return the cake to the wire rack and frost the cake with the chocolate frosting. Drag the tines of a fork through the frosting to give the cake a log look. Let the cake stand for 15 minutes and then refrigerate loosely covered until ready to serve. Let stand at room temperature prior to serving.

*If you want to make the log resemble more of a branch, prior to frosting with the chocolate frosting, cut a piece of the cake off and place on the side of the cake or on top and then frost.

Recipe from Betty Crocker

Sugar Skull Cake

Feliz Dia De Los Muertos! Today is the final day of the three-day celebration to remember and honor loved ones who have died. If you want a little more info on the holiday check out my Dia De Los Muertos Cupcakes blog post. In celebration of the day I am sharing with you a Sugar Skull Cake. Sugar Skulls, or Calaveras, are often used to decorate the ofrendas (offerings) & gravestones during the three-day celebration. They got their name because they are traditionally made of clay molded sugar and then decorated with colorful adornments. The sugar skull I created definitely has sugar in it, but, not molded sugar. I opted to make a chocolate cake, frosted it with buttercream frosting and then decorated it with fondant and confetti sprinkles.

To begin, using the same skeleton pan I used to make my Mummy Cake, I baked a chocolate cake – I used a box cake mix. After letting the cake cool I covered it in plastic wrap and refrigerated it overnight.

The next day, I made a batch of Brenda’s Bakery Buttercream – also the same frosting I used for the Mummy Cake. After removing the cake from the refrigerator, I used a large circle cookie cutter to cut out larger eyes for the skull. I used the cookie cutter to make an indentation in the cake and then used a butterknife to carve out the eyes.

Next, I crumb coated the cake and placed it back in the refrigerator so the frosting could set, about a half hour.

After 30 minutes I finished frosting the cake. I added a little extra frosting in the cheek area so the skull would have a more defined look. I then placed it back in the refrigerator so the frosting could firm up.

Once the frosting was firm, I removed the cake from the refrigerator and attempted to smooth the spatula swipe marks by laying a piece of paper towel on sections of the cake and then gently rubbed the sections with my fingers. This worked for the most part, except I then had the imprint of the paper towel on my cake.

Then, the fun part began. I brought my skull to life using fondant & sprinkles. Luckily, I had left-over fondant from the Trolls Cake I made last year. Don’t worry, the fondant was un-opened and still good. Using black fondant and the same round cookie cutter I used to widen the eyes I cut out eye sockets. For the mouth, I actually had a band aid cookie cutter from a Doc McStuffins themed cake I made last year that was the perfect size. You could easily cut out a rectangle using black fondant though. For the nose socket, I cut out a pink heat and then placed it on the cake upside down. And for the rest of the cake I used daisy cutters to cut out different sizes to decorate around the cake along with confetti sprinkles. This was probably one of the simplest cakes I decorated (I feel like I say that about a lot of cakes these days!)

For a more detailed instruction on creating your own Sugar Skull cake check out The Cake Girls

 

Chocolate Roll Cake with a Pumpkin Mousse Filling

In my opinion chocolate and pumpkin go together as well as chocolate and peanut butter. I say this because I’ve made a few desserts that have used this combination and they all turned out delish – Pumpkin Brownie Swirl Pie and Chocolate Pumpkin Crepe Cake. There was also the Pumpkin Chocolate Brownies I made that tasted good but required a vast amount of ingredients and ended up being undercooked in the middle. I may have to revisit that recipe since it did taste good but just needed some tweaking. So, it should be of no surprise that I finally decided to make a simple chocolate cake with a pumpkin filling. Well, not completely simple, a Chocolate Roll Cake, which is easy to create but just looks fancier than your everyday layer cake.

Using a devil’s food cake mix, I made the chocolate cake in a jelly roll pan. While it was baking I prepped a clean kitchen towel by sprinkling it with confectioners’ sugar. Once the cake was finished baking I immediately flipped it on to the towel and rolled the cake along with the towel from one short end to the other and placed it on a wire rack to cool for an hour.

While the cake was cooling I made the pumpkin spice mousse and refrigerated it. This is the same mousse I used as a filling for the spice cupcakes I posted about almost two weeks ago. Unfortunately this was my last box of Pumpkin Spice Jell-O pudding mix. I have searched and just haven’t been able to find it at any of my local supermarkets. I’m not giving up hope though. As an aside, if you’re not a pumpkin fan or can’t find the flavor by you as well use another flavor of Jell-O  pudding. The recipe and directions are the same. I went on their website and was surprised to learn of all the flavors they make that I have never seen in the supermarket – cheesecake, red velvet, coconut and strawberry crème just to name a few. Here’s a link to the complete selection.

Once the cake had cooled I unrolled it and spread the pumpkin spice mousse on it leaving a small border around the edges so the mousse wouldn’t spill out when I rolled the cake once again. I used most of the mousse. I then rolled the cake again (without the towel). Placed it on a serving dish and sifted confectioners’ sugar over it. Now, as you can see my cake did break a bit when I re-rolled it. If this happens don’t despair just position the cake on your serving dish with that side down.

And when I sliced into it you barely noticed the tear. The roll design was still visible and more importantly the cake and mousse tasted delicious and that’s what really matters!

Chocolate Roll Cake with a Pumpkin Spice Mousse Filling

Ingredients:
For the cake:

1 box of Devil’s food cake mix

6 eggs

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

For the Pumpkin Mousse:

1 3.4oz. package of Pumpkin Spice Jell-O Pudding Mix

1 cup whole milk

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions:

Heat oven to 375 F. Line the bottom of a 15x10x1-inch (Jelly Roll Pan) pan with foil or waxed paper, spray with baking spray.

In a large bowl beat the eggs with an electric mixer on high until the eggs are thick and lemon colored, about 5 minutes. Add the cake mix, water and oil and beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then on medium speed for 1 minutes. Pour about 2 3/4 – 3 cups of the batter into the prepared pan. Use the remaining batter to make cupcakes, or as you wish.

Bake 14 to 16 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly touched in the center. Turn the cake out on a clean kitchen towel sprinkled with the confectioners’ sugar. While the cake is still hot, carefully roll up the cake and towel together from one shorter end to the other. Cool completely on a wire rack for 1 hour.

While the cake is cooking make the mousse. Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl and beat with a hand mixer on medium speed until thick and smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.

After an hour, unroll the cake carefully and remove the towel. Spread the pumpkin spice mousse evenly over the cake and roll it up once again. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and enjoy!

Recipe for cake from Betty Crocker