Chocolate Kahlua Cake with Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

My first attempt at making this cake was a fail. I settled on using a box cake mix as my starting point and doctoring it with additional ingredients besides the ones called for on the box. I must have added in a few too many ingredients because the cake had a weird texture – kind of rubbery – and the bottom of it had a dense appearance. And the flavor just wasn’t there. Thankfully on my second attempt the flavor and texture were spot on.

On my second attempt I kept things a bit simpler. Along with the eggs and oil measurements suggested on the box, I swapped the water for coffee and added in sour cream, Kahlua and vanilla extract. Adding the coffee helped to really enhance the chocolate flavor, as did the Kahlua. While box cake directions say to mix everything together at once, I opted to beat together all my ingredients except for the cake mix until they were well incorporated and then sifted the cake mix over the mixture and beat it in on low speed until it was just combined. More or less following the method of most cakes that are made completely from scratch.  

Once my cake layers were baked and cooled, I wrapped them in plastic wrap and refrigerated them overnight. I find that it’s easier to level and frost cold cake layers. The cakes are less likely to break apart and there’s much less crumb.

The next day I made the frosting. Contrary to my recipe directions below, I added all the ingredients for the frosting into my stand mixer at once. Either works. If you follow method, I suggest beating everything together on medium speed until the ingredients are incorporated and then raise the speed of your mixer to medium-high for at least 5 minutes to get the frosting light and fluffy. Don’t fret if the frosting appears to be curdled or separated. Just keep beating it, it will come together. I probably beat mine for just shy of 10 minutes. I made this frosting on a fairly warm day so it was a bit soft once it was done so I popped it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes so it could firm up. I checked it every 10 minutes to make sure that it wasn’t getting too firm. I didn’t want to have to wait for my frosting to “defrost” after all that.

Once it was ready, I transferred about a cup of the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip and set it aside. After leveling the cakes, I spread about half of the remaining frosting on top of one of them and then placed the other one on top. And finally, I frosted the entire cake with the remaining frosting. My plan was to make this a naked cake so I was well aware that I wouldn’t have enough frosting to completely cover it.  

Once the cake was frosted, I piped dollops of frosting around the cake leaving space between each to fit a strawberry. I opted to slice my strawberries in half, but you could place whole strawberries between the dollops as well. Just make sure to leave enough room. You could also omit the strawberries altogether and just decorate the top of the cake with dollops of frosting.

And then it was time to enjoy a slice. This cake was delicious! The frosting reminded me of strawberry ice cream. Not overly sweet with just the right amount of strawberry flavor thanks to the fresh strawberries added to the frosting. And it was the perfect accompaniment to the chocolate cake.  

Chocolate Kahlua Cake with Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

3 large eggs

1 cup coffee

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 cup Kahlua

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 15.25 package chocolate cake mix (I used Duncan Hines Devil’s Food)

For the Frosting:

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup diced strawberries

3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Additional strawberries for topping

Directions:

For the cake: Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray two 8-inch round pans with baking spray.

In a large bowl combine the eggs, coffee, vegetable oil, sour cream, Kahlua and vanilla extract. Beat with a hand mixer on medium speed until well blended.

Sift the cake mix over the mixture and then beat with the hand mixer on low speed until just combined. Divide the batter among the prepared pans and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.

Cool the cakes in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove and allow to cool completely on the racks.

For the Frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla extract, diced strawberries and heavy whipping cream and beat on medium-high speed until the ingredients are incorporated and the frosting is light and fluffy. If the frosting is too soft to spread refrigerate for about 30 minutes to firm up.

To assemble the cake: If decorating the top of the cake, fit a piping bag with a large star tip and fill with about a cup of frosting and set aside. Level the cake layers if necessary. Spread about half of the remaining frosting on top of one of the cakes and top with the other. Then frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Finally, pipe dollops of the reserved frosting on top of the cake leaving space between each to place either a whole or halved strawberry. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Recipe first appeared on Bead Yarn & Spatula

Marbled Pound Cake

If you can’t choose between a vanilla or chocolate cake, then a marbled cake is for you! And if you are thinking that it might be double the work because you have to make to separate batters that’s not the case at all. With today’s recipe I started off by making the vanilla batter and then dividing it in half and adding cocoa powder to one of them.

Once I had the two batters ready it was time to fill my prepared pan. I used a cookie scoop and a 1/4 cup measuring cup to drop alternating scoops of the vanilla and chocolate batter in the pan to get the marble effect.

After tapping the pan a few times on my counter to release any air bubbles I used a small off-set spatula to smooth the top of the cake. I then placed it on baking sheet and baked it in a 325 F preheated oven for 70 minutes.

After letting the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, I transferred it to a wire rack to cool completely.  

And then it was time to slice it. And as cheesy as it sounds, I get a slight tinge of excitement when I bake a cake that is supposed to have a surprise inside or look a certain way and it works. The joys of baking! As you can see, the marble look was just about perfect with this loaf cake. Even more exciting though, was how delicious the cake was. I used to love the Marble Loaf Cake from Entenmann’s, but I feel like they changed their recipe because it doesn’t take like how I remember. Thankfully I have a replacement now that I can make myself.

I actually ended up baking two loaves and decided to slice the second one and freeze it. This is the perfect type of cake to freeze, it has no frosting and is moist but dense enough to withstand being frozen and thawed. I wrapped each of the slices in plastic wrap and then placed all of them in a resealable bag in my freezer. When I am ready to eat a slice, I will leave it out on my counter for a few hours so it can defrost.

Marbled Pound Cake

Ingredients:

1 cup flour

1/4 cup cake flour, sifted

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

3 eggs, at room temperature

1/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature*

3 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder

*To make your own combine 1/4 cup whole milk with 1 teaspoon white vinegar. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes then stir to combine.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Spray a loaf pan with baking spray, or, lightly grease with butter and then coat with flour.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cake flour and salt, set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the butter of medium-high speed until creamy.

With the mixer on low add in the sugar. Continue mixing on low until the butter and sugar are incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and continue mixing until the mixture has become light and fluffy (about 5 minutes.) Scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Add the vanilla extract. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition until just combined.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three parts alternating with the buttermilk.

Divide the batter in half and add in the cocoa powder to one half. Mixing well to incorporate it evenly among the batter.

Using a 2 ice cream scoops (or 2 1/4 cup measuring cups, or 1 of each) alternate scoops of the vanilla and chocolate batter into the prepared loaf pan. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles and using a small off-set spatula or butter knife smooth the top of the cake.

Place the loaf pan on a baking sheet and baked in the preheated oven until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 70 minutes.

Let the cake cook in the pan for 10 minutes and then remove from pan and let cool completely before slicing.

Recipe from Zoe Francois

Chocolate Comfort Cake

Similar to the Rum Cake I posted last month, this Chocolate Comfort Cake was made by doctoring a box cake mix. While some frown upon using a box cake mix there are some advantages to doing so, especially when you are doctoring them. They can save you time and by having all of the dry ingredients pre-measured and combined it can ensure a foolproof cake.

So, how can you doctor a cake mix? Add an extra egg for a cake that is richer. Swap out the water with milk or buttermilk, or with coffee for a chocolate cake. Add in cream of coconut or orange zest to a white cake, or a flavored extract. All of these will alter the flavor and texture of the cake to make it more homemade.

Using a dark chocolate cake mix I added in sour cream, freshly brewed coffee and a package of chocolate pudding mix to spruce it up.

Once the batter was prepped I poured it into a Bundt pan I sprayed with baking spray.

And after baking for about 55 minutes it was ready. I was concerned that the batter would overflow while baking but thankfully it didn’t.

After letting it cool in the pan for a few minutes I inverted it onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cooled it was time to enjoy a slice and this is definitely a comfort cake. Thanks to the add-ins it didn’t taste like a box cake at all.

 

Chocolate Comfort Cake

Ingredients:

1 package Dark Chocolate cake mix

1 small package of chocolate pudding mix

4 large eggs

1 cup sour cream

3/4 cup canola oil

3/4 cup brewed coffee

1/2 cup sugar

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a Bundt pan with baking spray (or grease with butter and lightly coat with cocoa powder) and set aside.

In a large bowl combine all of the ingredients and beat with a hand mixer on low speed for 30 seconds and then on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 50-55 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean.

Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack completely.

Recipe from Taste of Home

Hidden Heart Bundt Cake

Two years ago, I made my first Hidden Heart Cake in a loaf pan. This year, I decided to make another one, but, with a small twist. Instead of a loaf pan I decided to make it in a Bundt pan. I also made it more festive for Valentine’s Day by drizzling it with chocolate ganache and topping it with Valentine’s Day themed sprinkles.

To start I had to make a pink cake for the hearts. After prepping a mix of white cake per the box directions I tinted it pink. I then poured it into a Bundt pan that I sprayed with baking spray. Once it was done, I let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, I wrapped it in plastic wrap and refrigerated it overnight. It’s easier and cleaner to cut up a cold cake. I will point out that I was a bit concerned after making this first cake. It didn’t bake up with a lot of height so I was worries that the chocolate cake wouldn’t be able to completely cover the hearts, but, after a little more thinking I realized it shouldn’t be a problem since the hearts would be taking up some of the pan so the chocolate cake would bake up higher.

The following morning, I cut the cake into slices (about 2-inches each) and then using a 2-inch heart cookie cutter I cut hearts from those slices. If you like making cake pops, you could use the leftover cake to make some.

I then prepped a box of chocolate cake mix per the box directions. I poured some of the batter into the bottom of my Bundt pan that I once again sprayed with baking spray. I did this to ensure that the top of the hearts would be covered by the cake.

Next, I arranged the hearts in the pan upside down. Remember, Bundt cakes are baked upside down and then you invert them once they are done.

And finally, I poured the remaining cake batter into the pan making sure to cover the hearts and getting the batter on the sides of the hearts closer to the outside of the pan.

I baked the cake in a 350 F preheated oven for about 30 minutes. And once the cake had cooled in the pan for 15 minutes, I inverted it onto a wire rack to cool completely. You can see in this close-up shot that a little bit of the pink did peek through, but I knew I would be able to cover that with the chocolate ganache I was planning on pouring over the cake.

To make the ganache, I combined chocolate chips, heavy cream and vanilla extract in a microwave safe bowl and microwaved it for 35-second intervals, stirring between each, until the chocolate chips had melted, and the mixture was smooth. I wanted the ganache to be a little thicker before I poured it over the cake, so I refrigerated it for about 15-20 minutes, stirring it every five minutes.

Before pouring the ganache on the cake, I lined a baking sheet with wax paper and then placed the wire rack the cake was cooling on on top of the wax paper.

Once the ganache was thick enough, I drizzled it over the cake and sprinkled the ganache with Valentine’s Day sprinkles. I then placed the cake in the refrigerator for a few minutes so the ganache could set.

And then it was time to slice it and I happy to say that the cake came out perfectly. It tasted good and the hearts were distinguishable when the cake was sliced.

Hidden Heart Bundt Cake

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

1 box white cake mix, plus the ingredient to prepare the batter

1 box chocolate cake mix, plus ingredients to prepare the batter

Pink food coloring

 

For the Ganache:

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Valentine’s Day themed sprinkles

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 10-cup Bundt pan with baking spray, or grease with butter and dust with flour.

In a large bowl prepare the white cake mix per the directions on the box. Once prepared add in pink food coloring and stir to incorporate the color. Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean. Cool the cake for 15 minutes in the pan and then invert on a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, wrap the cake in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight*.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. And prep the Bundt pan once again.

Remove the pink Bundt cake from the refrigerator and slice the cake into 2-inch thick slices. Using a 2-inch heart cookie cutter cut hearts from the slices. Set aside.

In a large bowl prep the chocolate cake mix per the box directions. Pour enough batter into the pan so there is about a 1/2-inch layer of cake batter on the bottom. Arrange the cut hearts upside down in the pan. They should fit in perfectly and be snugged next to one another. Pour the remaining batter over the hearts, and make sure to get it into the sides of the pan. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted towards the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes and then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cake has completely cooled make the ganache.

Combine all the ingredients for the ganache in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 35-second intervals, stirring between each internal. Once the chocolate chips have melted and the mixture is smooth let cool for a few minutes before placing in the refrigerator so the ganache can thicken up. Refrigerate for about 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.

Place a piece of wax paper on a large baking sheet and place the cake on the wire rack on top. Once the ganache is thick, drizzle over the cake. Sprinkle the cake with Valentine’s Day sprinkles and then place in the refrigerator for a few minutes so the ganache can set.

Slice and enjoy!

*It’s not necessary to refrigerate the cake overnight. You can slice the cake the same day you bake it once it’s cool. I just find it easier to work with the cake once it’s cold.

A Bake ‘n Fill Fail

Recently while doing a little cleaning and organizing I came across something I purchased years ago and never used… A Betty Crocker Bake ‘n Fill Cake Pan. The pans were still in their plastic wrapping. Not really sure why I never used it, but having come across it I figured there was no time like the present to try it out. And obviously from the title of this blog post I wasn’t that successful! The cake part was fine, the fail was the filling… So, we’ll say it was a Bake ‘n Fail!

In case you have no clue what I am talking about. These pans were sold in a set by Better Crocker years ago. They first came out in the early 2000’s. Below is a link to the infomercial if you are curious. The whole idea was that you are able to create cakes with fillings (ice cream, fruit, another cake, etc.) or make a cool design like a baseball or a lady bug.

Betty Crocker Bake ‘n Fill Pan

I decided to follow a recipe for a Chocolate Mocha Cake with Chocolate Mousse Filling that was in the recipe book that came with the pans. I began by prepping two of the pans – the inside of the tall pan and bottom of the insert pan (this is the pan that makes the cavity in the cake so it can be filled). Normally I spray my pan with baking spray, but, I decided to follow the directions and greased them with shortening and then coated them with flour. Next, I prepped the batter. I added all of the ingredients for it into a large bowl and beat them with a hand mixer until they were blended together. I then poured it into the tall pan.

Next, I placed the insert pan over the tall pan and locked it into place and then baked it in a 350 F preheated oven for about 45 minutes. Thankfully the insert pan has small holes in it, which I am assuming is to allow the cake to “breathe” while baking, but, I used them to insert a cake tester to see when the cake was done.

After removing the pan from the oven I let it cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes…

And then I removed the insert pan and let the cake cool completely in the pan for about an hour.

Next I made the filling. In a saucepan I combined heavy whipping cream, sugar and coffee liqueur. I cooked it over medium heat until the sugar dissolved. After removing it from the heat I stirred in semi-sweet chocolate chips with a wire whisk until they were melted. And finally I stirred in vanilla extract before transferring the mixture to a large bowl to cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a chilled medium bowl I beat additional heavy whipping cream with a hand mixer until stiff peaks formed. I then folded the heavy whipping cream into the cooled chocolate mixture.

And finally I spooned the whipped chocolate mixture into the cavity of the cake and then refrigerated the cake thinking that the filling would firm up. It never did! I even put it in the freezer for about 30 minutes and that did nothing to it as well. So, I gave up and decided to invert the cake out of the pan and do my best not to make a mess. Well, taking the cake out of the pan was no easy feat. I had to pry a flexible spatula between the cake and the pan to loosen the cake. I was FINALLY able to invert the cake out and surprisingly didn’t make a complete mess with the mousse filling that was definitely not mousse-consistency.

While I thought about throwing in the towel at this point I decided to go ahead and make the frosting for the cake. I added additional heavy whipping cream to a small saucepan and heated until it was hot. I then stirred in semi-sweet chocolate chips and stirred the mixture until the chocolate was melted. After letting the mixture cool for a few minutes it was the perfect consistency to frost the cake.

I won’t show you what happened when I sliced into the cake. As you can imagine the filling just, I hate to use the word ooze, but, that’s pretty much what it did. It did taste good though! And I was able to spoon it over the cake after slicing myself a piece so it wasn’t a total loss. So, will I attempt to use the pan again? Absolutely, but, I think the next filling will be something like whipped cream folded with some fresh berries, or, I will use the filling I normally make for my other cakes. Oh, and yeah, I will be using baking spray next time. It hasn’t left a cake stuck in a pan for me yet!

An Ombre Cake, the Fall and A Few Other Things

With Labor Day weekend over summer has unofficially ended. The weather is also signaling the end of summer as well. Looking at the extended forecast there doesn’t seem to a day in the 80’s in sight. I am not complaining though. Fall is my favorite season and I very rarely complain about the cold temps the winter brings. While I am not a fan of hazy, hot & humid days of the summer I will rarely complain about them as well. Truthfully, I love being able to enjoy the 4 seasons in my neck of the wood. Although, it seems like Spring happens in the blink of an eye. It’ll start off super cold, then a few rainy days (possibly even snow) and then finally a few Spring-like days and then bam, there will be days of crazy heat before the Summer has truly began.

Labor Day was a rainy one by me. The weekend was beautiful, although, I spent half of it in the kitchen baking, decorating a cake and making floral centerpieces for a bridal shower. The alternative would have probably been yardwork so it’s all good.

I started the day by making Cheesecake Brownie Bites. I’ve been making these for years and while they are always a hit, I probably have tried them once of twice. Crazy I know. Well, I had extra brownie and cheesecake batter so I made a few extra that I ended up snacking on throughout the day and I will definitely be eating them the next time I make them.

After running a few errands I came back home and got to work on the cake. The plan was a two-tier blue ombre buttercream cake decorated with fresh sunflowers. To save myself time (and stress) I baked the cake layers a few days before, let them cool and then wrapped them in plastic wrap to store in the refrigerator. I started by making my short-cut chocolate mousse and then refrigerated it while I whipped up a batch of vanilla frosting. Once the frosting was done I then torte, filled and crumb coated the two tiers. Each tier was a three-layer cake – chocolate cake sandwiched between two yellow caked. Once 6-inch, the other a 9-inch.

I then placed the cakes in the refrigerator and whipped up two more batches of vanilla frosting. Yes, this cake took about 12 cups of frosting to complete. I’ve learned that it’s best to have left-over frosting as opposed to barely enough, especially when tinting the frosting. One time I was decorating a cake with a ruffle design in pink frosting. Well, by the time I got to the top of the cake I had run out of the pink frosting so I ended up having to frost the top of the cake with white frosting. It didn’t look bad, but, I was definitely kicking myself. Once I was done making the frosting it was time to tint it. I used three Wilton colors to create the ombre effect – Royal Blue, Cornflower Blue & Sky Blue. Once the frosting was ready I started by frosting the top of each of the cake. The smaller tier with while frosting and larger tier with the cornflower blue frosting. I filled piping bags with the remaining frosting and snipped the ends off the bag.

I began by piping the bottom of the larger tier with the royal blue frosting. I then switched to the cornflower blue frosting to finish piping the sides of the cake. Next I used a straight edge icing spatula to smooth the sides of the cake. And finally I used a small spoon to create stripes on the cake by dragging it along the frosting while spinning the turntable.

After placing the smaller tiered cake on the larger one and securing it with a wooden dowel I repeated the frosting and decorating process using the sky blue and white frosting. At this point I popped the cake in the refrigerator overnight so the frosting could set (and I could take a break).

After resting and taking a dinner break I got to work on the centerpieces.

The next morning it was back to the cake. Here’s a pic of the cake before adding the sunflowers…

And with the flowers added…

And finally on display at the bridal shower.

So, now that Fall is right around the corner it’s, dare I say, time to think about the holidays, especially if you are planning on doing any crafting for it. Earlier this year I started crocheting hexagons to make a Christmas tree skirt. I completed about 2/3 of the hexagons but I put the project on hold as I couldn’t find 4 skeins of the same dye lot of the green yarn I wanted to use. I finally got them so that project is back on. Fingers crossed I will get it done. I started working on the hexagons again and for some reason the size is not matching up to the ones I made earlier. I keep ending up with an extra side, so instead of hexagons I am making heptagons. Not sure what I am doing wrong. I made so many hexagons already that I thought making them would utilize muscle memory but something is off. Ugh! I also started looking at Christmas card designs on Pinterest during some downtime. I think I know what I am making this year. I always wait until the last minute to make my cards and I am doing by best this year to start early so I am not scrambling in mid-December. If all this talk about the holidays has you stressing out, I apologize. At least I haven’t started shopping. Back to Fall though, I started decorating with some pumpkins around the house, nothing outside though. I will wait until it’s actually Fall to do that. I was almost tempted to put up my scarecrows but I held off. And of course there is baking… I’ve got some ideas for Fall treats and I am already looking ahead to Christmas cookies. Sorry, I brought it up again. But, my fellow crafters and bakers know where I am coming from. You’ve got to be a season ahead with these things, especially when you are blogging about them. For now… Happy Fall Y’all (albeit a few weeks early!)

Sprinkle Fault Line Cake

Earlier this summer a new cake trend began flooding my Instagram feed… A Fault Line Cake. Initially I thought it would be extremely difficult to create. And I am sure some of the ones I have seen are – ones with macaroons, lemons, edible decorative paper and so forth – but, the one that caught my eye and seemed somewhat easy to practice on was a sprinkle one. Essentially, the center of the cake exposes a design between two thick layers of frosting. Sort of like a fault line separating after an earthquake and exposing the ground beneath.

I first attempted this trend a few weeks ago and it was a complete DISASTER! Since I was just trying out the technique I attempted to take some short-cuts… mainly use store bought frosting. Chocolate frosting at that and I really should have known better. Not that there is anything wrong with store bought frosting – I have used it quite often to decorate – but, it was hot outside (and inside my house) and I have learned that store bought frosting just doesn’t hold up as well in the heat as homemade. Also, I made a six inch cake using boxed cake mix thinking that would give me enough height for the cake and I was wrong on that account as well.

Here’s what happened… I baked a yellow cake mix into a two-layer 6-inch cake and it came out just fine. Then, I started to frost it and the issues began. Like I said it was hot on this day so I decided to refrigerate the frosting for about 20 minutes so it could firm up a little. Once it was firm, I started by crumb coating the cake and it just wasn’t going on smooth, but, I plowed ahead. Once I finished with the crumb coat I placed the cake in the refrigerator so it could set. After about a half hour I removed the cake from the refrigerator and attempted to add more frosting to the middle of the cake to adhere the sprinkles and it was a mess. The crumb coat never got a crust on it so when I added more frosting it was all just coming off. I continued and finally got a layer of frosting around the middle of the cake and then added the sprinkles. But, since I had to add such a thick layer of frosting to the cake to get it to adhere my sprinkles got swallowed up by the frosting. It was such a fail. At this point I just gave up. I realized that the frosting was just not going to cooperate and that the cake didn’t have enough height to look good.

Fast forward a few weeks later and with a free weekend ahead of me I decided to try once again. I made some tweaks this time though. I decided to make a three-layer 8-inch cake and for the frosting I whipped up two batches of Martha Stewart’s Fluffy Vanilla Frosting. It’s my go-to frosting whenever I have to decorate a cake. It has a great consistency that makes it perfect for frosting, piping and/or tinting.

I opted to go with a box cake mix again. I used a yellow cake mix to make two 8-inch layers and then a chocolate mix to make one 8-inch layer. I used the remaining chocolate batter to make 6-inch cake.

Once the cakes were done I let them cool in the pans for about 15 minutes and then transferred them to a wire rack to cool completely. I then wrapped them in plastic wrap and placed them in the refrigerator overnight. I used to just leave my cakes out at room temperature, but, I have found that refrigerating them makes it easier to torte, layer and frost.

The next day I made two batches of vanilla frosting and my short-cut chocolate mousse (beat a package of Jell-O chocolate pudding mix along with a cup each of heavy whipping cream and whole milk until thick). I then torted and layered the cake, filling the layers with the chocolate mousse. Next I crumb coated the cake and placed it in the refrigerator for about a half hour.

After the half hour I removed the cake from the refrigerator and added an extra layer of frosting in the middle of the cake…

And then added sprinkles to that layer of frosting.

I then placed the cake back in the refrigerator for another half hour so the frosting and sprinkles could set.

I transferred frosting to a piping bag and snipped the end off and piped the frosting around the cake, except for the part with the sprinkles.

I then smoothed the frosting and added some 1M swirls on top of the cake and sprinkled them with sprinkles and my cake was done. I finally created a successful Fault Line Cake. I wonder what new cake trend will be flooding my Instagram feed next.

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 then poured it into a loaf pan that I sprayed with baking spray and baking 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 slice of cake and set them aside. Those mini heart were for a different 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 pops, save these scraps for that.

I then prepped the chocolate cake mix per the directions on the box. I spread about a 1/2 inch later of the batter onto 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 then pan, while making sure the hearts in the middle were as close together as possible. 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 a 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 then removed it and let it cool completely on a wire rack.

Once it was cool it was time to slice and see if my hidden heart cake was a succes… And it was!!!

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