Banoffee Cake

Banana cakes are so underrated!! They’re one of my favorite types of cake, but sadly I don’t make very often! I’ve made a few different banana cakes in the past, but wanted to do something different with this one. I recently tried Banoffee pie for the first time, and realized it would make the perfect cake flavor!! It’s made with a delicious soft toffee filling, bananas, and whipped cream. I’ve incorporated all of these elements into this cake, and the full recipe can be found below.

Banana Cake Layers (adapted from one of my FAVORITE bakers Sally’s Baking Addiction)

  • 3 large ripe bananas (1 and 1/2 cups mashed)
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips (not shown in pictures, but i added them to my livestream version of this cake and they totally make it!!)

Toffee Filling / Dulce to Leche (sourced from Serious Eats)

  • 1 (14-ounce) can of sweetened condensed milk, label removed

Whipped Vanilla Buttercream:

  • 4 sticks or 2 cups (434 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 cups (907 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp  salt
  • 3 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Additional Decorations:

  • 3-4 fresh bananas (optional) or banana chips for decoration

Instructions:

To speed up this process, make the “toffee filling” a day in advance!! Place the can on its side in a large pot. Fill the pot with water, making sure the water level is at least 2 inches above the can. Set pot over high heat and allow to come to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours; check the pot every 30 minutes to ensure the water level stays above the can, adding boiling water as necessary to top it up. Carefully remove the can from the water using tongs or a large spoon, and set on a wire rack to FULLY cool to room temperature. It is very important that the can is fully cooled before opening, otherwise the can may explode due to the heat and pressure!

The following day, make the banana cake layers. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease and line four round 8 inch cake pans. Set aside.

Mash the bananas (you can use a fork or a mixer for this) and set aside. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar together on high speed until smooth (about 1 minute). Use a spatula to scrape the sides and  bottom of the bowl as needed. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, then add the vanilla. Beat on medium speed until combined, then beat in the mashed bananas, vanilla, and lemon juice. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three installments, alternating with the buttermilk and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Carefully fold in the mini chocolate chips. Do not overmix. The batter will be on the thick side, and there might be a few lumps of banana!

Divide batter evenly between 4 pans. Bake for about 26 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out (relatively) clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to fully cool in the pan.

Next, prepare the whipped vanilla buttercream. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a whisk attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time.  Alternate with small splashes of cream. Scrap the sides of the bowl with a spatula, to ensure all the powdered sugar is mixed in. Add in any remaining heavy cream, then whip on high for about 1 minute. Beat on high again, until the chocolate is fully incorporated. Pour in the egg whites, and beat on high again for about 30 seconds. Add in the vanilla and salt, and mix until fully incorporated. The frosting should be rather thick, like whipped topping!

Stack and frost layers on a 10 inch, grease-proof, cardboard cake round. Frost a ring of whipped vanilla buttercream around the perimeter of the layer, and add a generous scoop of the toffee filling into the center of the layer.

banoffee dulce de leche add

Spread evenly over the cake layer, and top with slices of fresh bananas. Repeat with remaining layers, being sure it the toffee filling and bananas stay within the frosting boarder.

banoffee blog bananers

Cover the cake in a thin crumb coat with the vanilla frosting, and chill in the freezer or fridge for about 5 minutes.

bannoffee crumb coat

Once the crumb coat is firm to the touch, add a second layer of frosting. Smooth using a bench scraper. You can see a full tutorial on how to frost a cake with smooth sides here.

Once smooth, spread a thin ring of toffee around the base of the cake, and then use a large offset spatula to drag the toffee up the side of a cake. Try to keep the angle of each frosting drag the same, to give the cake a cohesive look. I ended up going around the cake twice, to really blend together all my toffee swoops.

banoffee toffee swipes

Once the sides of the cake are completed, smooth any over hanging frosting at the top of the cake into the center, using a bench scraper. Top the cake with a circle of freshly slice bananas, and a drizzle of warmed leftover toffee (I heated the toffee in the microwave for about 15 seconds).

banoffee toffee drizzle

I’ve really been loving  simple cake tops lately, so I was obsessed with the finished look of this cake. If you don’t plan to eat this cake immediately, the bananas on the top of the cake will brown! To trouble shoot, you can either brush the bananas with lemon juice to prevent browning, or use banana chips. This cake is truly delicious, and such a fun spin on a banana cake!!

banoffee cake sliced

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Lemon Meringue Cake

One cake flavor I’ve been dying to make is lemon meringue! Since it’s finally starting to feel like summer, I figured it was time to test it out. To make this cake reminiscent of a lemon meringue pie, I filled it with lemon curd, frosted it with a lemon buttercream, and topped it with toasted meringue. The decorations on this cake is really easy and simple, making it the perfect cake to whip together for a summer get together.

This cake is much smaller compared to my normal cakes! It is made using a half batch of my go-to layer cake recipe, and feed around 12 people.

Lemon Cake Batter:

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup egg whites (about 4 egg whites)
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • zest of 1 large lemon
  • juice 1/2 large lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Lemon Buttercream Frosting: 

  • 4 sticks or 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp  salt
  • 1 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 large lemon
  • juice 1/2 large lemon

Yellow Ganache Drips:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (about 4 oz.)
  • 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips (9 oz.)
  • yellow gel food coloring

Lemon Curd (sourced from the Food Network):

  • 4 large egg yolks (reserve the egg whites for the meringue)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 lemons, zest and juice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), room temperature

Meringue (sourced from the Food Network):

  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line three 7” round pans with parchment rounds, and grease with non-stick cooking spray.

Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined. Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.

Pour in egg whites, and mix on low until just incorporated.  Mix in the buttermilk in two installments, on a low speed. Add in lemon juice, lemon zest, and oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds.

Divide evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake for 35-37 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Place cake layers into the freezer for 45 minutes, to accelerate the cooling process.

Once the layers have fully cooled, trim the caramelized bits from the sides of the layers using a serrated knife.

As the cake layers bake, prepare the lemon curd. With a hand mixer, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in each egg one at a time, allowing them to mix completely before beating in another egg. Beat in the lemon juice and zest, until incorporated. Over medium heat, in a double boiler, stir the mixture. Stir mixture frequently, until the mixture begins to thicken (about 15 minutes). Pour into bowl and let cool in fridge. If you have any left overs, place them in an air tight container, and use within a week.

Next, make the lemon buttercream frosting. Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of the cream and lemon juice. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla, lemon zest, and salt, and beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is too thick, add in cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).

Make the yellow ganache drips next, to allow the mixture to cool before adding to the cake.  Heat heavy cream in a heat-proof bowl in the microwave for 45 seconds-1 minute, until bubbling. Gently pour white chocolate chips into the heavy cream, making sure they are fully covered with cream. Allow mixture to sit for 2 minutes. Stir slowly until the cream and white chocolate are combined, then heat again for 20 seconds and stir. Repeat as necessary until all the chocolate bits are fully melted and incorporated. Then add gel food coloring if desired. Allow to cool until desired viscosity is reached.

If it seems too thin or thick, you can add a touch more chocolate chips or heavy cream! The type of cream and white chocolate that you use can affect the consistency, so feel free to adjust as needed. I like to put my ganache into plastic squirt bottles when decorating cakes, but you can also use a spoon to drizzle it over cakes.

The last component is the meringue. Whisk the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (do not let the bowl touch the water) until the mixture is warm and the sugar dissolves, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the bowl from the pan; add the cream of tartar and vanilla and beat with a mixer on medium-high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, 6 to 8 minutes.

Stack and frost layers on a 10 inch, grease-proof, cardboard cake round. Frost a ring of lemon buttercream around the perimeter of the layer, and add a generous scoop of lemon curd into the center of the layer. Spread evenly over the cake layer, then repeat with remaining layers, being sure it stays within the frosting boarder.

lemon merinuge adding lemon curd

Cover the cake in a thin crumb coat with remaining lemon frosting, and chill in the freezer or fridge for about 5 minutes. Once the crumb coat is firm to the touch, add a second layer of frosting. Smooth using a bench scraper. You can see a full tutorial on how to frost a cake with smooth sides here.

smoothing lemon cake

Once the frosting is chilled, add on the yellow colored white chocolate ganache drips.  Always be sure to do a test drip, to ensure that your ganache is at the right temperature. Scoop meringue onto the top of the cake, shaping into a swirling mound using a small offset spatula.

toasting the merginue lemon cake

Brown the meringue using a kitchen torch, then enjoy!

me with lemon cake

Chocolate Raspberry Mother’s Day Cake

Mom’s deserve something special. They deserve something just as sweet and wonderful as they are! This cake is inspired by my Mom, who is a big fan of both chocolate and fresh berries. To this day, my Mom still grows the most delicious strawberries and raspberries in our garden. I can’t see a berry and not think of my Mom! I wanted to make a cake that was packed with fresh raspberries and chocolate, but wasn’t too sweet or heavy. I ended up making a chocolate sponge cake, filled with a whipped chocolate buttercream and fresh raspberries, and frosted with a dark chocolate ganache. The recipe and some more Mother’s Day cake inspiration can be found below:

Recipes:

Make the milk chocolate ganache first, as it needs at least a few hours to cool and set. To make, simply place the chocolate (about 2 bags of dark chocolate chips) and heavy cream in a heat proof bowl, and heat it for 30 second increments (stirring between). Usually after about 2 minutes of heat, all the chocolate is melted. Once the mixture is fully incorporated, place plastic wrap over the top of the ganache, and let it sit at room temperature. Before adding the room temperature ganache to a cake, I give it a slow stir with a spatula.

I also recommend making the chocolate simple syrup in advance. It needs time to cool before it can be used, and preparing it ahead of time makes the following day a  bit easier. Place the sugar and water in a pot, and bring to a simmer. Once the sugar has dissolved, mix in the cocoa, and turn  off the heat. Place in a sealed Tupperware container in the fridge overnight.

Bake 4, 8-inch round cake layers using my chocolate cake recipe and instructions. I baked my 8 inch layers for about 32 minutes. Allow layers to cool fully before leveling with a serrated knife. Place pans into the freezer for 45 minutes, to accelerate the cooling process, and lock in the moisture.

While the layers bake, make the whipped chocolate buttercream. Begin by melting the cup of chocolate chips. Heat it in the microwave for 1 minute at half power in large heat proof bowl, or over a double boiler. Stir until smooth, then set aside briefly to allow it to cool just a bit (not more than 5 minutes).

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a whisk attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time.  Alternate with small splashes of cream. Scrap the sides of the bowl with a spatula, to ensure all the powdered sugar is mixed in. Add in any remaining heavy cream, then whip on high for about 1 minute. Next, add in the melted chocolate. Beat on high again, until the chocolate is fully incorporated. Pour in the egg whites, and beat on high again for about 30 seconds. Add in the vanilla and salt, and mix until fully incorporated. The frosting should be rather thick, like whipped topping!

After the cake layers are baked and fully cooled, level the cakes by cutting off the tops using a serrated knife. I like to “taste test” the cake tops with any left over frosting or ganache once I’ve decorated the cake! The cake tops can also be used to make cake balls. Use a large, sterile paint brush to douse the cake layers with a generous coat of chocolate simple syrup.

Next, it’s time to assemble the cake! Place the ganache into a piping bag, and pipe a ring around the perimeter of the cake layer.

blackout ganache boarded piping

Scoop a few spatulas of whipped buttercream into the center of the cake layer, and use an offset spatula to evenly spread it out to the ganache boarder.

mothers day adding in whipped filling

Press a generous amount of raspberries into the whipped chocolate frosting. Repeat until all layers are stacked.

mothers day adding rasp

Repeat this process with the remaining cake layers. Once stacked, cover the cake with a thick layer of chocolate ganache, and smooth with a patterned bench scrapper (I got these Wilton “icing combs” on amazon).

mother's day adding exterior

Pipe a boarder around the top of the cake using a small French tip, and fill the top of the cake with remaining whipped chocolate buttercream.

adding topping mother's day cake

This cake is just as delicious as it looks! It feeds about 16 people, so be sure to gather your whole family around to enjoy it. Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing mother’s out there!!

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My Go-To Chocolate Layer Cake Recipe

I have used a few different chocolate cake recipes over the years, and each on has it’s own merit. My moist chocolate cake recipe is so soft and fluffy, I love the way it tastes!! It’s great for beginning bakers and is really easy to make, but it isn’t the easiest to stack and frost with perfectly smooth sides! When I was first getting into baking, taste was my #1 priority, so this didn’t bother me much.

As I became more into decorating (and obsessed with frosting cakes with smooth sides), I found it was so much easier to frost cake layers that have a bit more structure, like my favorite vanilla layer cake recipe. I fell in love with the strength of the layers, how well they help up while being frosted. I altered the recipe to a make a chocolate version, and used this as my chocolate layer cake recipe for a while. The only downside is that I like to trim away the carmelization on the sides, in additional to leveling the top of the cake. This means an extra step in the process, and I wasn’t completely satisfied with the texture of the layers.

This lead me to continue to try out new chocolate cake recipes, and experiment. I really loved using Yolanda Gampps chocolate sponge cake recipe, but didn’t like that they baked with such huge domes!! I felt like i was cutting off 2/3 of each layer when I leveled them. However, the layers tasted great with simple syrup, and had great structure.

I decided to use Yolanda’s recipe as the starting point, but combined my favorite elements from all my past chocolate cake recipes. I chose to use black cocoa (I love the taste and color it creates), swapped some of the water for buttermilk, added slightly more flour, and used less baking soda. The result?? A soft, tender chocolate cake that can handle a splash of simple syrup, yet still hold up while being frosted. I’m obsessed with this recipe, and hope you all will be too:

Chocolate Cake Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 4 eggs, room temp
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 cup buttermilk (1.5% milk fat), room temp
  • 1 cup black cocoa (I order mine on amazon)

instructions:

Begin by preheating the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line four 7 inch or 8 inch pans with parchment rounds, and spray with non-stick spray.

Add the sugar and butter into the bowl of a stand mixer, and whisk on high for 1 minute. The mixture should become light in color. Add in the eggs, one at a time. Then add baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix on high for another minute.

In a separate bowl, combine the cup of hot water, and cup of buttermilk. Pour in the cup of black cocoa, and whisk until no clumps remain.

Next, add 1 cup of flour into the butter /egg mixture. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula, to ensure the flour is fully incorporated. Pour in half of the buttermilk / cocoa mixture, and gently pulse the mixture to incorporate the liquid (if you don’t, you’ll end up splattering the cocoa mixture all over you kitchen! Please learn from my mistakes :P). Mix in the 2nd cup of flour, at a medium speed. Pour in the remaining buttermilk / cocoa mixture, and again gently pulse, then mix on low until fully combined. Add in the last cup of flour, and mix on low until the flour is incorporated. Mix on high for 30 additional seconds, to incorporate a bit more air into the batter.

Evenly divide between the four prepared pans . I like to use a kitchen scale to ensure each pan has exactly the same amount of batter. Bake according to the size of pan. For 7 inch layers, bake for 35-37 minutes. For 8 inch layers, bake for 32-33 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Allow layers to cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around the edge of the pans to help separate the layers from the pans. Place the pans in the freezer for about 45 minutes, to accelerate the cooling process. Once the layers are fully cooled, carefully flip the pans and remove the layers. Use a serrate knife to level the tops of the layers, and then frost as desired.

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The Best Whipped Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

I’ve shared my go to vanilla american buttercream recipe, but frequently get asked if have a chocolate frosting recipe! Whenever I make a chocolate cake, I usually cover it in ganache. Since ganache is rather rich, I like to fill the cake with a lighter filling. This whipped chocolate buttercream is the perfect cake filling! It’s light, fluffy, and not too sweet (or at least not as sweet as my classic American buttercream). This frosting also can be used to cover a cake.

This tried and true whipped chocolate buttercream recipe uses my vanilla buttercream recipe as a base, but adds in some melted chocolate, and a bit more heavy cream, and pasteurized egg whites (sounds crazy, but give the frosting a really silky, fluffy texture!). The full recipe and tutorial can be found below:

Whipped Chocolate Buttercream Ingredients: 

  • 4 sticks or 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips (roughly 6 oz)
  • 8 cups (2 lbs) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup of pasteurized egg whites (from a carton)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions:

Begin by melting the cup of chocolate chips. Heat it in the microwave for 1 minute at half power in large heat proof bowl, or over a double boiler. Stir until smooth, then set aside briefly to allow it to cool just a bit (not more than 5 minutes).

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a whisk attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time.  Alternate with small splashes of cream. Scrap the sides of the bowl with a spatula, to ensure all the powdered sugar is mixed in. Add in any remaining heavy cream, then whip on high for about 1 minute. Next, add in the melted chocolate. Beat on high again, until the chocolate is fully incorporated. Pour in the egg whites, and beat on high again for about 30 seconds. Add in the vanilla and salt, and mix until fully incorporated. The frosting should be rather thick, like whipped topping!

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If yours isn’t as thick as you’d like, place the bowl in the freezer for about 5 minutes, then beat on high again for about 1 minute.

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When using this to fill my favorite layer cake recipe , I add a very generous filling between four 7 inch or 8 inch cake layers. I usually have a bit leftover, and either incorporate it into the decoration of the cake, or eat it with fresh fruit 😛 Leftovers can be kept in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.

Lime Tequila Cake

May really snuck up on me this year, but every year I like to make some type of cake to celebrate Cinco De Mayo! In the past I’ve made a giant donkey pinata cake, and a margarita trifle, and this year I decided to stick with an easy ruffle cake! I filled the center with some fun sprinkles, to make for an exciting cut. This cake is made with lime cake layers, drizzled with a tequila lime simple syrup, and frosted with a tequila buttercream. The recipe can be found below:

Lime Cake Layers:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 1/2 cup egg whites (about 4 large egg whites)
  • 3/4 cups buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • zest of 1 small lime
  • juice of 1/2 small lime

Tequila Lime Simple Syrup

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp tequila
  • juice of 1 small lime
  • zest of 1/2 small lime

Tequila Lime Buttercream Ingredients:

  • 6 sticks (3 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 12 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp tequila
  • juice of 1 small lime
  • bright orange, pink, green, yellow, and blue gel food coloring

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line four 6” round pans.

Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.

Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.

Pour in egg whites, and mix on low until just incorporated.  Mix in the buttermilk in two installments, on a low speed. Add in lime juice, lime zest, and oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium high for about 30 seconds.

Divide evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake for 28-30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Place cake layers on a rack to finish cooling. Once fulled cooled, use a serrated knife to level the layers.

While the cake layers bake and cool, prepare the simple syrup. Place the sugar and water in a heat proof pan, and heat on a medium high heat until boiling. Reduce the heat to allow the mixture to simmer until all the sugar is dissolved (2-3 minutes). Add in the tequila and lime juice, and remove from heat. Add lime zest. Allow the mixture to cool.

Next, make the tequila lime buttercream. Beat the butter on high for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small additions of tequila and lime juice. Add salt, and beat on medium low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is too thick, add in more tequila (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).

NOTE: When making frosting for a cake, it is important to mix the buttercream on low at the end of the process for a couple minutes, to get out any extra air that might have be incorporated during the mixing process. This will make it easier to get super smooth sides on your cake!

Place 3/5 of the buttercream into a separate bowl, and color lime green. Divide remaining frosting between four bowls, and color bright green, pink, yellow, and blue! Place each color  into its own piping bag, fitted with a petal tip (wilton 103 or 104).

tequila lime frosting

Once the cake layers have cooled, use a 2.5 inch circle cookie cutter to  cut out the center of two cake layers. Stack and frost layers on a grease-proof cardboard cake round. Frost an even layer of green buttercream on the base  (uncut) cake layer. Add the cut out cake layers as the 2nd and 3rd layer of the cake. Frost the cut out section with a thin layer of buttercream, using a small offset spatula. Fill the center fully with your favorite sprinkle blend, then top with the remaining, uncut cake layer.

tequila lime cake adding sprinkles

Apply a thin layer of frosting (crumb coat), and place in freezer to chill for 5 minutes. Place remaining green buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a wilton 104 tip.

Once the crumb coat is firm to the touch, begin piping on the ruffles! Alternate colors in the same pattern, to create a uniformed look. Begin at the base of the cake,  moving the piping tip slowly from side to side, to create  the ruffle pattern. The thicker side of the frosting tip should be placed against the crumb coat.

tequila lime cake pink ruffles

It should lightly graze the crumb coat as you pipe, to ensure the buttercream ruffles anchor onto the cake. Try to keep the width of each ribbon consistent while piping. Repeat until you reach the top of the cake, carefully ending each ribbon by dragging the piping bag to the right. Continue until the entire cake is covered.

tequila lime cake ruffles on close up

Decorate the top of the cake with buttercream flowers. Pipe ruffle flowers onto parchment squares using the remaining buttercream, and place in the freezer for 10 minutes. Once firm to the touch, carefully peel off the parchment paper and place on one quarter of the cake.

uncut tequila lime cake from above

I’m actually not the biggest tequila fan, but I was so pleasantly surprised by how delicious this cake turned out! The tequila is well balanced with the sweetness of the simple syrup, the tang of the lime juice, and the buttermilk in the cake batter. This cake has just enough of a kick to to remind you to it’s Cinco De Mayo 😉

Circus Animal Cookie Cake

For this week’s Food Network Livestream, I am making a cake inspired by the flavor and decoration or circus animal cookies!! While I remember buying these at the grocery store as a kid, I had the hardest time finding them here in Manhattan! After no luck trying three different grocery stores, I ended up buying a few packs on amazon.

To me, there are three things that make circus animal cookies so great; their color, their coating, and all those colorful sprinkles!! The bright white and pink colors are so iconic and playful, and these were the two colors I wanted to incorporate into the decoration of this cake. The next thing that makes them special is the white chocolate coating!!! It takes the cookies from regular animal crackers to whole new level. I chose to add white chocolate into the cake layers, the frosting, and used it to make a ganache drip. I also used a ton of non-pareil sprinkles while decorating the cake, and added them between the layers. The recipe and tutorial can be found below:

White Chocolate Cake Ingredients:

  • 3 1/4 cup (416 grams) all purpose flour
  • 3 cups (600 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp (13 grams) baking powder
  • 1 tsp (5 grams) salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter or 2 sticks (226 grams), room temperature
  • 2 tsp. (9 grams) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup egg whites (244 grams) – about 7 large egg whites; I use egg whites from the carton to avoid wasting egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 grams) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/8 cup (28 grams) vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (6 oz. of white chocolate chips, melted)

White Chocolate Buttercream: 

  • 6 sticks or 3 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 12 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup (6 oz. of white chocolate chips, melted)

Pink, White Chocolate Ganache:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (about 4 oz.)
  • 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips (9 oz.)
  • pink gel food coloring (optional)

Additional Decorations:

  • circus animal cookies
  • Non-pareil sprinkles

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line four 7” with parchment rounds, and grease with non-stick cooking spray.

Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.

Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.

Pour in egg whites, and mix on low until just incorporated.  Mix in the buttermilk in two installments, on a low speed. Add in vanilla and oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Slowly mix in the melted white chocolate. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds.

Weight out half of the batter, in a separate bowl. Use pink gel food coloring to color the batter a vibrant shade of pink.

Divide evenly between the prepared cake pans, to make 2 white layers, and 2 pink layers. Bake for about 37 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean). Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Place cake layers into the freezer for 45 minutes, to accelerate the cooling process.

Once the layers have fully cooled, I like to trim the caramelized bits from the sides of the layers using a serrated knife. While these layers bake pretty flat, sometimes I’ll also trim the top of the layers too. Be sure the layers are completely cooled or chilled before trimming. If you try to trim the layers while they’re still warm, they will crumble apart.

While the layers bake, prepare the white chocolate frosting. Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla, salt, and melted white chocolate. Beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is too thick, add in cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).

NOTE: When making frosting for a cake, it is important to mix the buttercream on low at the end of the process for a couple minutes, to get out any extra air that might have be incorporated during the mixing process. This will make it easier to get super smooth sides on your cake!

Next, make the pink, white chocolate ganache! Heat heavy cream in a heat-proof bowl in the microwave for 45 seconds-1 minute, until bubbling. Gently pour white chocolate chips into the heavy cream, making sure they are fully covered with cream. Allow mixture to sit for 2 minutes. Stir slowly until the cream and white chocolate are combined, then heat again for 20 seconds and stir. Repeat as necessary until all the chocolate bits are fully melted and incorporated. Then add gel food coloring, and mix until evenly colored. Allow to cool until desired viscosity is reached.

If it seems too thin or thick, you can add a touch more chocolate chips or heavy cream! The type of cream and white chocolate that you use can affect the consistency, so feel free to adjust as needed. I like to put my ganache into plastic squirt bottles when decorating cakes, but you can also use a spoon to drizzle it over cakes.

Stack and frost layers on a cardboard cake round. Frost an even layer of white chocolate buttercream on top of each cake layer, and add a generous drizzle of white chocolate ganache. Sprinkle with non-pareil sprinkles. Repeat with remaining cake layers, alternating the pink and white layers.

circus animal cake layers stacked

Cover the cake in a thin crumb coat, and chill in the freezer or fridge for about 5 minutes. Once the crumb coat is firm to the touch, add a second layer of frosting. Smooth using a bench scraper. You can see a full tutorial on how to frost a cake with smooth sides here.

circus animal cake crumb coat

To add the pink ganache drips, chill the cake for 10 minutes in the freezer (the cake needs to be cold for the drips to stay in place). Always be sure to do a test drip, to ensure that your ganache is at the right temperature. Place the cake back in the freezer for another 10 minutes, to ensure the drips chill to keep them in place.

circus animal cookie pink drips

Then add frosting swirls around the top of the cake using a wilton 4B tip. Place a circus animal cookie on top of each swirl, and add non-pareil sprinkles around the top, and base of the cake.

me adding sprinkles to circus animal cake

Then all that’s left to do is cut into this cake and enjoy it! It’s perfect for anyone who grew up loving circus animal cookies, or  really anyone who loves white chocolate!!

circus animal cake sliced

Dirt Cup-Inspired Chocolate Cake

To celebrate Earth Day this year, I want to make something special this year! As my mind was sifting through everything I could make to celebrate, I remember dirt cups! As a child, dirt cups were one of my favorite treats. There’s something so wonderful about the simplicity of them. How can you go wrong with pudding, cool whip, and crushed oreos?! They’re also really easy to make, and I tried to keep this minimalist theme in mind while making this dirt cup-inspired cake.

This is definitely one of the easiest, and simplest cake recipes I’ve ever made! Ironically, it is also one of the most delicious chocolate cakes I’ve made. The pudding filling isn’t too sweet, so this is a great cake for anyone who doesn’t have a huge sweet tooth, or might not be the biggest fan of frosting. The recipe can be found below:

  • 1 batch of your favorite chocolate sponge cake (love making Yolanda Gampp’s chocolate cake recipe, using black cocoa)
  • 1 package of instant chocolate pudding (+2 cups whole milk)
  • 1 container Cool Whip
  • 1 package of Oreos, chopped in small pieces
  • gummy worms
  • green buttercream (optional)

Begin by making the chocolate cake layers. You can use whatever recipe is your favorite, but I highly recommend using a chocolate sponge cake for this, and not adding simple syrup! Usually sponge cake and simple syrup go hand in hand, but since the pudding filling is pretty soft, it keeps the cake nice and moist. This recipe is very flexible, so you can make whatever size of cake layers you prefer, and however many layers you want! I opted to make four, 7-inch cake layers, but this could definitely be made with three 8-inch layers, or even two 9-inch layers!

Once the layers are baked, allow them to cool fully. I like to place the layers in the freezer for about 45 minutes to accelerate the cooling process. Once fully cooled, level the tops using a serrated knife.

While the layers bake and cool, prepare the pudding filling! Whisk together 1 package of instant chocolate pudding with 2 cups of cold milk. Cover with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge for about 15 minutes, to allow it to set. Once the mixture has firmed up, fold in the entire container of cool whip using a  spatula. When the cool whip has been fully incorporated, cover and set aside.

dirt cup pudding filling

Then it’s time to assemble the cake! I chose to stack the layers using acetate sheets (channeling a momofuku-inspired look), but after I remade this cake for one of my Food Network live streams and omitted the acetate sheets, I found it’s actually much easier to assemble this cake without them! The pudding mixture stays rather soft, so it doesn’t really firm up after being chilled. I also had some of my Oreos cascade down around the base as I removed the sheets.

Dirt cup cake - removing acetate sheet

To build the cake, cover the base layer with a generous layer of pudding mixture, spreading it evenly over the layer using an offset spatula. Sprinkle with chopped Oreos. Repeat with remaining cake layers. Once all the layers are stacked, top the cake with one final layer of pudding mixture and Oreo bits. If desired, you can also pipe some grass patches on top of the cake with some green buttercream and a small grass tip (like a Wilton #233).  The last step is to add the gummy works on top!!

dirt cup cake - with dirt cup

This cake feeds around 20 people, and will be gone before you know it! Be sure to cut the cake using a very sharp knife, as it will be very soft with all the pudding between the layers. I brought the leftover cake into my office, and my coworkers couldn’t get enough of it.

 

Cookie Butter Cake

I’ve always had a deep love for Biscoff cookies (thank you Delta), but I didn’t know about cookie butter until a couple years ago! I received flat of cookie butter a few months ago, and have wanted to make a cookie butter cake ever since. This month I finally made it happen, and boy am I glad I did!! This is one of my favorite cakes I’ve made. Staying true to the ingredients used to make Biscoff cookies, the main flavors in this cake are dark brown sugar and cinnamon. The recipe can be found below:

Cookie Butter Cake Batter:

  • 3 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups brown sugar ( prefer using dark brown sugar, the extra molasses adds great flavor!)
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 cup unsalted butter or 2 sticks (226 grams), room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup egg whites – about 7 large egg whites; I use egg whites from the carton to avoid wasting egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil

Vanilla and Cookie Butter Buttercream Frosting:

  • 8 sticks or 4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 16 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup  heavy cream
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • For the cookie butter frosting: 1 cup cookie butter + 2 additional Tbsp heavy cream

Additional Decorations:

  • 12 Biscoff cookies, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup of cookie butter (to drizzle on top)
  • French piping tips (to pipe the boarder)

Instructions:

Begin by making the cake layers. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line four 7” (for taller layers) or 8″ round pans with parchment rounds, and grease with non-stick cooking spray.

Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.

Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.

Pour in egg whites, and mix on low until just incorporated.  Mix in the buttermilk in two installments, on a low speed. Add in vanilla and oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds.

Divide evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake for 37-38 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean). Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Place cake layers into the freezer for 45 minutes, to accelerate the cooling process.

While these layers bake pretty flat, sometimes I’ll also trim the top of the layers too! Be sure the layers are completely cooled or chilled before trimming. If you try to trim the layers while they’re still warm, they will crumble apart.

Next, make the vanilla buttercream frosting. This will be the base used to make the cookie butter frosting as well! Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is too thick, add in cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).

To make the cookie butter frosting, place 1/3 of the vanilla frosting into a separate bowl. Add 1 cup of cookie butter, plus 2 additional Tbsp. of heavy cream, and mix until fully combined.

NOTE: When making frosting for a cake, it is important to mix the buttercream on low at the end of the process for a couple minutes, to get out any extra air that might have be incorporated during the mixing process. This will make it easier to get super smooth sides on your cake!

Stack and frost layers on a cardboard cake round. Frost an even layer of vanilla buttercream, then chill the cake in the freezer for about 5 minutes. Add another layer of cookie butter buttercream on top of this, and spread evenly on top of the vanilla buttercream.

cookie butter drizzle on layers blog

Heat up 3/4 cup of cookie butter for 10 seconds, and drizzle 1/4 of a cup of cookie butter over each layer. Repeat, with remaining layers, until all are stacked. Cover the cake in a thin crumb coat using both frostings, and chill in the freezer or fridge for about 5 minutes.

cookie butter crumb coat blog

Once the crumb coat is firm to the touch, add a second layer of vanilla frosting. Smooth using a bench scraper. You can see a full tutorial on how to frost a cake with smooth sides here.

adding biscoff to cookie butter cake blog

Carefully press the chopped up Biscoff cookies onto the sides of the cake. Add less cookie bits as you work up the sides of the cake, to create a cookie gradient. I added larger chunks of cookies around the base, and smaller bits higher up. I also pressed some crumbs around the upper parts of the cake.

piping boarder on cookie butter cake

Place remaining vanilla frosting into a piping bag fitted with a medium sized french piping tip. Place the remaining cookie butter frosting in a bag fitted with a small french piping tip. Pipe a boarder of cookie butter frosting around the top edge of the cake. Pipe a slightly larger boarder inside the cookie butter frosting boarder.

adding drizzle to top of cookie butter cake blog

Heat 1/4 cup of cookie butter for about 10 seconds, then drizzle in the center of the cake with a spoon.

cookie butter cake slice with fork

I have never added two types of frosting between layers, and I loved the way it looked when I cut into the cake!

Easter Basket Cake

I can’t believe it’s almost Easter! I’ve always wanted to make an Easter basket cake, and this year I finally got around to making one. Not only was this my first time using a basket weave technique, it also was my first time making a cake without butter!! I wanted to try a butter alternative, to ensure that my frosting was as white as possible. I used unsalted Country Crock Sticks, and was pretty amazed that they worked right out of the fridge with no softening required!! I used my go to vanilla layer cake recipe and American buttercream recipe, but swapped out butter for baking sticks (1:1 ratio). The recipes used can be found below.

Be sure to check out the workshop that I hosted with Thefeedfeed and thanks for supporting the brands that support my work, Country Crock!

Coconut Cake Ingredients:

  • 3 1/4 cup (416 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups (600 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp (13 grams) baking powder
  • 1 tsp (5 grams) salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted Country Crock Buttery Sticks
  • 1 Tbsp (13 grams) coconut extract
  • 1 cup egg whites (244 grams) – about 7 large egg whites; I use egg whites from the carton to avoid wasting egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 grams) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/8 cup (28 grams) vegetable oil

Coconut Frosting Ingredients: 

  • 6 sticks unsalted Country Crock Buttery Sticks
  • 12 cups  powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp coconut extract
  • pink, purple, and yellow gel food coloring (optional)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line two 7” and two 8″ round pans. Begin by making the coconut cake layers. Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.

Mix chunks of the unsalted Country Crock Buttery sticks slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.

Pour in egg whites, and mix on low until just incorporated.  Mix in the buttermilk in two installments, on a low speed. Add in coconut extract and oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Using a spatula, carefully fold in sprinkles.

Divide evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake for 35-37 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean). Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Place cake layers on a rack to finish cooling, or in the freezer to accelerate the process. Once chilled, level the layers using a serrated knife.

While the layers bake and cool, make coconut frosting. Beat the unsalted Country Crock Buttery Sticks on medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream. Once fully mixed, add in the coconut extract and salt, and beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is too thick, add in cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time). Place 1 cup of frosting into a bowl and color a pastel shade of yellow using a few drops of gel food coloring. Set aside, and repeat with pink and purple gel food coloring.

Stack and frost layers on a cardboard cake round. Frost an even layer of colorful between each cake layer, using the yellow, pink, and purple frosting. Once the layers are stacked, trim in a tapered shape, to resemble a basket.

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Cover the cake in a thin crumb coat, and chill in the freezer or fridge for about 5 minutes. Once the crumb coat is firm to the touch, place remaining white frosting into a piping bag fitted with a Wilton 47 tip.

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Carefully pipe a basket weave pattern onto the cake. Begin by making the vertical lines, then carefully pipe the horizontal stitches. 

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Chill again for 5 minutes, then carefully invert the cake using an an addition cardboard cake round.

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Use a spoon to remove about 1 cm from the center of the top of the cake, to make it easier to fill with easter treats.

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Frost the exposed area, and pipe a border around the perimeter of the top of the cake. Fill the inside of the basket with you favorite Easter goodies. I added peeps, candy eggs, a chocolate bunny, and some buttercream flowers.

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Use a bit of wire to shape the handle of the basket, and wrap with fondant. Leave at least 1 inch of uncovered wire, to allow you to securing anchor the handle into the top of the cake.

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Then it’s time to cut in and celebrate Easter in style 🙂 The full tutorial is also included below:

Wedding Dress-Inspired Cake with Edible Lace

While our wedding isn’t until June 2019, I couldn’t wait any longer to start looking for me wedding dress! I decided to look at Bridal Garden NYC, which is an amazing non-profit organization who use their proceeds to help disadvantaged children here in NYC. I wanted something a little different, and really loved the idea of a short dress, since we’re getting married in central park in the summer. In my YouTube video I share some of the dresses I tried on, but am keeping the dress I picked a surprise for the big day!! I had a wonderful experience there, and am in love with my dress (I welled-up when I saw myself in it). It has every aspect I was looking for, and is so beautiful and unique.

Being the cake-maker that I am, I thought this would be a great excuse to make a test wedding cake! I made a 3-tiered cake, incorporating our favorite flavors; dark chocolate, cookie butter, and salted caramel. Lucky, I always have home-made caramel and chocolate ganache in my fridge, ready to be warmed up and used! I decorated the cake with the two elements I wanted in my wedding dress; lace and floral accents. The recipe and full tutorial are included below:

Recipes:

I began by dividing the cake batter evenly to make 3-8 inch layers, 3 6-inch layers, and 3 4-inch layers.  A great way to ensure your layers will be the same height is to weigh them, so that there’s the same amount of batter in each size of pan. Once baked, allow the layers to cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around the sides of the pan, for easy removal. Flip the layers onto a wire rack and let cool.

Once the layers have fully cooled, I like to trim the caramelized bits from the sides of the layers using a serrated knife. Be sure the layers are completely cooled or chilled before trimming. If you try to trim the layers while they’re still warm, they will crumble apart.

While the layers bake and cool, make the vanilla buttercream frosting! This frosting will be the base for the three different frostings made for each tier.

To make the dark chocolate frosting for the 8 inch tier, place 3 cups of frosting into bowl. Melt 6 oz of dark chocolate in the microwave (heat in 30 second intervals at half powers, or over a double boiler), and slowly mix into the frosting. Also add in 1/4 cup black cocoa, and an extra Tbsp of heavy cream. Stir until the ingredients are fully incorporated. Place plastic wrap directly on top of the frosting (to prevent crusting), and set aside.

To make the cookie butter frosting for the 6 inch tier, place 1 1/2 cups of frosting into bowl. Add 2/3 cup of cookie butter, and 2 tbsp of additional heavy cream into the frosting. Stir until the ingredients are fully mixed in. Place saran wrap directly on top of the frosting (to prevent crusting), and set aside.

To make the caramel frosting for the 4 inch tier, place 2/3 of a cup of frosting into bowl. Add 1/4 cup of caramel into the frosting. Stir until the caramel is fully incorporated. Place saran wrap directly on top of the frosting (to prevent crusting), and set aside.

Place the remaining vanilla buttercream into large piping bags.

Begin to assemble each tier. Build the 8 inch tier on a thick, 10 inch cake drum. Carve a hole in the center of the drum, to place a thick dowel through the center of the cake. This keeps the cake stable, and helps ensure that the tiers are properly centered. Cut holes into the center of a 6 inch and  4 inch cake round, large enough to easily allow the central dowel to pass through them.  Build the 6 inch tier on the 6 inch cake round, and the 4 inch tier on a 4 inch cake round. You can see a full tutorial on to make a a tiered cake here.

Pipe a ring of buttercream around the perimeter of each cake layer, and fill the center with the flavored buttercream. On top of the flavored frosting, I drizzle what it was made with (i.e. dark chocolate ganache, warmed cookie butter, and caramel). Be sure that each tier is taller than the height of the lace! If you add a generous amount of buttercream between each layer, each tier should be just high enough.

 

Cover the cake in a thin crumb coat with any remaining chocolate frosting, and chill in the freezer or fridge for about 5 minutes. Once the crumb coat is firm to the touch, add a second layer of vanilla frosting. Smooth using a bench scraper. You can see a full tutorial on how to frost a cake with smooth sides here.

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Once the layers are made, prepare the edible lace.  Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Use 100 g of this powder mixed with 80 g of room temperature water.  Whisk the mixture with the whisk attachment, until it has a thick, almost meringue-like texture. Then spread it evenly over a silicone lace mold.

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Use a bench scrapper to get the lace mixture into every nook and cranny of the mold, and to remove any excess mixture from the sides. Bake for about 16 minutes, then allow the lace to cool for 2 hours. Carefully lift the corners of the lace, and gently peel out of the silicone mold.

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Measure the circumference of each tier using tape measure, and trim the lace to be exactly the length of each tier’s circumference. Pipe a very thin ring of buttercream around the middle of each tier, and carefully press the lace onto each tier.

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It’s important that this is done shortly after the lace has cooled, or else the lace will become brittle, and break as you try to wrap it around the tiers. Next, stack the tiers.  Begin by placing 4 thinner dowels or bubble tea straws cut to the same height as the bottom tier. Place them so that they’re evenly spaced (in the shape of a square), and about 2.5 inches from the central, thicker dowel.

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Carefully place the second tiered onto the central dowel, and slowly slide it down until it’s resting on top of the bottom tier. Repeat with the top tier.

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Pipe a boarder around the base of the middle and top tier, to cover the exposed cake rounds. I also added on some edible, organic white flowers, by wrapping the stems with floral tape, and securing them to the cake using some additional dabs of buttercream.

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Then I cut into each tier to taste test it, and celebrate finding my dress! I do think that these are the flavors we will have in our actual wedding cake! I’m so looking forward to making it 🙂

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Chocolate Chip Cannoli Cake

Want to know something crazy?? The first time I had a cannoli was only a few years ago!! I think cannoli are definitely an East Coast treat, but man am I happy I finally tried them! My favorite type is the chocolate covered kind, so I incorporated quite a bit of chocolate into this cake. The recipe and tutorial can be found below:

Chocolate Chip Layer Cake Batter:

  • 3 1/4 cup (416 grams) all purpose flour
  • 3 cups (600 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp (13 grams) baking powder
  • 1 tsp (5 grams) salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter or 2 sticks (226 grams), room temperature
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips, tossed with 1 tbsp of flour (helps them from sinking to the bottom of the pan)
  • 2 tsp. (9 grams) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup egg whites (244 grams) – about 7 large egg whites; I use egg whites from the carton to avoid wasting egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 grams) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/8 cup (28 grams) vegetable oil

Cannoli Filling:

  • 1 1/4 cups (12 oz) ricotta cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup (8 oz) mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

American Buttercream (to make both the vanilla and chocolate frosting):

  • 4 sticks or 2 cups (434 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 cups (907 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp (3 grams) salt
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 grams) heavy cream
  • 3 tsp (12 grams) vanilla
  • 6 oz (about 1 cup) melted dark chocolate chips

Additional Decorations:

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line three 8″ round pans with parchment rounds, and grease with non-stick cooking spray.

Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.

Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.

Pour in egg whites, and mix on low until just incorporated.  Mix in the buttermilk in two installments, on a low speed. Add in vanilla and oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Gently fold the chocolate chips into the batter.

Divide evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake for 35 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean). Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Place cake layers into the freezer for 45 minutes, to accelerate the cooling process.

Once the layers have fully cooled, I like to trim the caramelized bits from the sides of the layers using a serrated knife. Be sure the layers are completely cooled or chilled before trimming. If you try to trim the layers while they’re still warm, they will crumble apart.

While the cake layers bake and cool, make the chocolate and vanilla buttercream. Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt.

Place about 1/3 of the frosting into a separate bowl. Melt the chocolate in 30 second intervals at a low power, until fully melted (mine took about a minute). Pour into frosting slowly, and stir until fully incorporated. Place into a piping bag, and cut the end to have a opening that is about 3/4 of an inch.

Next, prepare the cannoli filling! Add ricotta cheese, mascarpone cheese and vanilla extract in a mixer bowl, and beat on a low speed until smooth. Add powdered sugar and cinnamon, until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge.

Stack and frost layers on a 10 inch, grease-proof, cardboard cake round. Frost a ring of chocolate buttercream around the perimeter of the layer, and add a generous scoop of the cannoli filling onto the center of the layer.

cannoli dam

Spread the cannoli filling around the cake layer until it’s even, being sure it stays within the frosting boarder.

cannoli chip drop

Add a generous drizzle of ganache, and a handful of mini chocolate chips. Repeat with remaining cake layers.

cannoli crumb coat

Cover the cake in a thin crumb coat with any remaining chocolate frosting, and chill in the freezer or fridge for about 5 minutes. Once the crumb coat is firm to the touch, add a second layer of vanilla frosting. Smooth using a bench scraper. You can see a full tutorial on how to frost a cake with smooth sides here.

cannoli whtie frosting

Gently press mini chocolate chips around the base of the cake, then chill it for another 5 minutes. Once the frosting is chilled, add on the chocolate ganache drips.  Always be sure to do a test drip, to ensure that your ganache is at the right temperature.

cannoli cake drips

Place remaining vanilla and chocolate frosting into a piping bag fitted with a Wilton 1M tip, and pipe large swirls on top of the cake. Cut the mini cannoli in half, and carefully place on top of each swirl.

cannoli cake cannoli

I alternated chocolate and classic cannoli, and also added some more chocolate chips on top of the cake. And that’s it! Then it’s time to cut and enjoy!!

cannoli cut

 

Upside Down Caramel Corn Drip Cake

I’ve wanted to make a caramel corn cake for the longest time (I’ve always been so enamored with Tessa’s caramel corn cake!!), so I decided to make it for this week’s Food Network Livestream! I opted to make the caramel from scratch, but ended up using a bag of caramel corn from the store!! I’ve included a link to a great caramel corn recipe though, if you have the time and are feeling adventurous 🙂 The recipe for this cake can be found below:

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line four 7” (for taller layers) or 8″ round pans.

Begin by making the vanilla cake layers. Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.

Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.

Pour in egg whites, and mix on low until just incorporated.  Mix in the buttermilk in two installments, on a low speed. Add in vanilla and oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Using a spatula, carefully fold in sprinkles.

Divide evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake for 35-37 minutes if using 8 inch pans, or 37-38 minutes for 7 inch cake pans (or until a skewer comes out clean). Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Place cake layers on a rack to finish cooling, or in the freezer to accelerate the process. Once chilled, level the layers using a serrated knife.

While the layers bake and cool, make the caramel! Turn stove onto medium heat, and place a  pot over element. Pour in sugar. Using a heat proof stirring utensil (I use an old-fashioned wooden spoon), stir until sugar begins to melt into a clear liquid. Continue to stir, until clumps of sugar begin to form. Slowly the color of the sugar clump will deepen from white to amber. Keep stirring until all the clump of sugar have dissolved, and then turn off the heat. Mix in butter slowly, then stir in cream and salt. Place in fridge to cool for 20 minutes, then pour into desired container. I put mine in a squirt bottle, to make it easier to drizzle. Set aside.

Next, prepare the buttercream frosting. Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is too thick, add in cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).

Place 1/3 of the frosting in a separate bowl, and add in 3/4 cup of caramel. Mix until fully incorporated.

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Stack and frost layers on a cardboard cake round, topped with an acetate sheet (optional, but it makes it way easier to flip to make the upside down drip). Frost an even layer of caramel buttercream between each cake layer, and add a generous drizzle of caramel. If desired, you can also sprinkle in some chopped caramel corn. Cover the cake in a thin crumb coat with any remaining caramel frosting, and chill in the freezer or fridge for about 5 minutes. Once the crumb coat is firm to the touch, add a second layer of vanilla frosting. Smooth using a bench scraper. You can see a full tutorial on how to frost a cake with smooth sides here.

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To make the upside down caramel drip, chill the cake for 30 minutes in the freezer (the cake needs to be VERY cold for the drips to stay in place). Use a second cardboard round, and carefully invert the cake. Gently peel off the acetate sheet, then add on the caramel drip. Always be sure to do a test drip, to ensure that your caramel is at the right temperature. Place the cake back in the freezer for another 30 minutes, to ensure the drips chill to keep them in place.

Remove from the freezer, then flip back right side up. Use the remaining frosting to create a cone of frosting on top of the cake.

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Carefully press caramel corn into the frosting, using extra caramel to help secure the pieces of popcorn in place.

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Add a final drizzle of caramel over the top of the popcorn, and a bit of extra caramel around the base of the popcorn pile.

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Then it’s time to cut into the cake, and enjoy all of that caramel!

Caramel corn cake slice

Ferrero Rocher Truffle Cake

For this weeks Food Network livestream, I’m making a Ferrero Rocher Cake!! This cake is assembled to look just like this truffle once it’s cut into, and even has a cake ball in the center to look like a hazelnut!! The recipe and tutorial can be found below:

Recipes:

  • 1 batch (4 lbs) of Yolanda Gampp’s chocolate sponge cake recipe (trimmed cake tops crumbed and reserved)
  • 1 cup chocolate simple syrup (1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar dissolved together, + 3 TBSP cocoa)
  • 1.5 batches milk chocolate ganache (3 bags of milk chocolate chips + 1 1/2 cups heavy cream) – to be made in advance
  • 1 bag of chopped hazelnuts
  • 1 2 – inch cake ball, made from leftover vanilla cake scraps and a bit of vanilla frosting, chilled
  • 1 additional bag of chocolate chips (to be melted to cover the outside of the cake)

Make the milk chocolate ganache first, as it needs at least a few hours to cool and set. To make this, I used 3 bags of Hershey’s milk chocolate chips, and 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream. To make, simply place both the chocolate and heavy cream in a heat proof bowl, and heat it for 30 second increments (stirring between). Usually after about 2 minutes of heat, all the chocolate is melted. Once the mixture is fully incorporated, place plastic wrap over the top of the ganache, and let it sit at room temperature. Before adding the room temperature ganache to a cake, I give it a slow stir with a spatula.

I also recommend making the chocolate simple syrup in advance. It needs time to cool before it can be used, and preparing it ahead of time makes the following day a  bit easier. Place the sugar and water in a pot, and bring to a simmer. Once the sugar has dissolved, mix in the cocoa, and turn  off the heat. Place in a sealed Tupperware container in the fridge overnight.

Bake two 6-inch round cake layers and one 7-inch cake layer using Yo’s chocolate cake recipe and instructions. You will have leftover batter! I chose to make an extra 6 inch layer to another baking project. Allow layers to cool fully before leveling. Place pans into the freezer for 1 hour, to accelerate the cooling process, and lock in the moisture.

After the cake layers are baked and fully cooled, level the cakes by cutting off the tops using a serrated knife. Trim the 6 inch layers so that they taper, to make it easier to frost in the shape of a sphere. Use a large, sterile paint brush to douse the cake layers with a generous coat of chocolate simple syrup.

Next, it’s time to assemble the cake! Place the ganache into a piping bag. Stack on six in layer with the smallest side down.  Cover the top of the cake layer with a thick spread of chocolate ganache. Use a 3 inch circle cutter to remove the center of the 7 inch cake layer. Place the 7 inch layer on top, and coat the cut outsides with ganache.

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Carefully press the cake ball into the opening, then cover with another layer of ganache. Top with the final cake layer, then cover the entire outside of the cake with ganache. Smooth into the shape of a sphere, using an acetate sheet.

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Carefully press chopped hazelnuts around the outside of the cake, then chill the cake. Melt the additional chocolate, then pour over the cake, and add texture using a small offset spatula.

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Then cut in and see the center!!! I love that this cake has such a fun cross-sections 🙂

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Chocolate Blackout Cake

Few things can beat a good chocolate cake. I’d heard of Brooklyn Blackout Cakes before, but I figured it was just a really over the top chocolate cake. I had no clue it involved pudding, cake crumbs, and that the name in no way relates the chocolate in the cake!!

Here’s a brief snippet of history behind the name of this cake! This cake concept was developed by the Ebinger Baking Company during World War II. Civilian black out drills were being practiced in Brooklyn to ensure that light from the city wasn’t reflecting on US ships off the coast, giving away their position. Ebinger got creative with their marketing and named their cake after these drills. Their cake was filled with pudding, covered in a fudge frosting, and coated with cake crumbs!!

To honor the original cake concept, I’ve made this with chocolate sponge cake layers (soaked in chocolate simple syrup), filled with a chocolate pudding, and covered in a milk chocolate ganache.

I used a few of my favorite recipes, along with some new recipes to create this cake. This was my first time making pudding from scratch, and I tried a few recipes before I found one I was happy with. I highly recommend making it yourself, but if you’re short on time, you can always substitute in boxed pudding.

Recipes:

  • 1 batch (4 lbs) of Yolanda Gampp’s chocolate sponge cake recipe (trimmed cake tops crumbed and reserved)
  • 1 cup chocolate simple syrup (1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar dissolved together, + 3 TBSP cocoa)
  • 1 batch chocolate pudding
  • 1 batch milk chocolate ganache (650 grams milk chocolate, melted down with 217 grams heavy cream) – to be made in advance
  • 1 cup chocolate frosting (1 cup American buttercream plus 2 Tbsp cocoa, and 2 additional tsp heavy cream)

Make the milk chocolate ganache first, as it needs at least a few hours to cool and set. To make, simply place both the chocolate and heavy cream in a heat proof bowl, and heat it for 30 second increments (stirring between). Usually after about 2 minutes of heat, all the chocolate is melted. Once the mixture is fully incorporated, place plastic wrap over the top of the ganache, and let it sit at room temperature. Before adding the room temperature ganache to a cake, I give it a slow stir with a spatula.

I also recommend making the chocolate simple syrup in advance. It needs time to cool before it can be used, and preparing it ahead of time makes the following day a  bit easier. Place the sugar and water in a pot, and bring to a simmer. Once the sugar has dissolved, mix in the cocoa, and turn  off the heat. Place in a sealed Tupperware container in the fridge overnight.

Bake 4, 7-inch round cake layers using Yo’s chocolate cake recipe and instructions. Allow layers to cool fully before leveling. Place pans into the freezer for 1 hour, to accelerate the cooling process, and lock in the moisture.

While the layers bake, make the chocolate pudding. Combine the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt in medium saucepan; slowly mix in the milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Bring the mixture to a boil, and continue stirring for 1 minute. Remove the pan from heat, and stir in the butter and vanilla. Pour the pudding into a separate bowl, and press plastic wrap directly onto surface to prevent a skin from forming. Place in the fridge to cool.

After the cake layers are baked and fully cooled, level the cakes by cutting off the tops using a serrated knife. Place cake tops in a large bowl, and crumb using a fork. Set aside. Use a large, sterile paint brush to douse the cake layers with a generous coat of chocolate simple syrup.

Next, it’s time to assemble the cake! Place the ganache into a piping bag, and pipe a ring around the perimeter of the cake layer.

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Scoop about 3/4 of a cup of pudding into the center of the cake layer, and use an offset spatula to evenly spread it out to the ganache boarder.

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Repeat this process with the remaining cake layers. Once stacked, cover the cake with a thick layer of chocolate ganache, and smooth with a bench scrapper. Place chocolate cake crumbs around the base of the cake.

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Use a large frosting tip (I used an Ateco 869) to pipe a boarder of chocolate frosting around the top of the cake, then fill the center with additional cake crumbs.

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Then cut in and enjoy! This cake was DELICIOUS! I brought in the leftovers for my coworkers, and they couldn’t get enough of it 🙂

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Cake

Peanut butter plays a big part in my life. I eat it every single day. This proves two things;  I’m an extreme creature of habit, and that I love peanut butter (I put it in my oatmeal every morning!!). When I realized National Peanut Butter Day was just around the corner (January 24th), I knew it deserved a cake. I grew up on PB&J sandwiches, and have wanted to make a peanut butter and jelly cake for quite a while. The stars seemed to align, and I finally had the perfect opportunity to relive my childhood through cake!! The recipe and instructions are included below.

Vanilla Cake Ingredients:

  • 3 1/4 cup (416 grams) all purpose flour
  • 3 cups (600 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp (13 grams) baking powder
  • 1 tsp (5 grams) salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter or 2 sticks (226 grams), room temperature
  • 2 tsp. (9 grams) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup egg whites (244 grams) – about 7 large egg whites; I use egg whites from the carton to avoid wasting egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 grams) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/8 cup (28 grams) vegetable oil

American Buttercream Ingredients: 

  • 6 sticks (3 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 12 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup of peanut butter + 2 Tbsp heavy cream (to be added once made)

Additional Ingredients and Decorations: 

  • 1 jar of your favorite jam or jelly (I used strawberry jam)
  • 1 bag freeze dried strawberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped, salted peanuts
  • Additional peanut butter (to drizzle and spread on the sides of the cake)
  • 8 medium sized strawberries

Instructions:

Begin by making the vanilla cake layers. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line four 7” round pans with parchment rounds, and grease with non-stick cooking spray.

Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.

Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.

Pour in egg whites, and mix on low until just incorporated.  Mix in the buttermilk in two installments, on a low speed. Add in vanilla and oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds.

Divide evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake 37-38 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean). Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Place cake layers into the freezer for 45 minutes, to accelerate the cooling process.

Once the layers have fully cooled, trim the caramelized bits from the sides of the layers using a serrated knife. While these layers bake pretty flat, sometimes I’ll also trim the top of the layers too. Be sure the layers are completely cooled or chilled before trimming. If you try to trim the layers while they’re still warm, they will crumble apart.

While the layers bake and cool, prepare the vanilla and peanut butter frosting. Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is too thick, add in cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).

NOTE: When making frosting for a cake, it is important to mix the buttercream on low at the end of the process for a couple minutes, to get out any extra air that might have be incorporated during the mixing process. This will make it easier to get super smooth sides on your cake!

Once the vanilla frosting is made, place 1/4 of the frosting in a separate bowl. Add 1 cup of your favorite peanut butter, and 2 additional Tbsp of heavy cream. Mix until fully incorporated and smooth.

Fill one large piping bag with vanilla frosting (to create a frosting dam, to contain the jam that will be added between each layer).

Then it’s time for the best part, the assembly of the cake! Stack cake layers, and pipe a ring of vanilla buttercream around the edge of the layer.Spread a layer of peanut butter buttercream inside the vanilla frosting, then add a drizzle of warm peanut butter (I heated a small jar in the microwave for about 20 seconds).

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Chill the cake in the freezer for about 2 minutes to allow the peanut butter to firm up, then spread jam on top, ensure it’s contained by the ring of vanilla frosting.

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Repeat this process with all remaining cake layers. Cover the cake in a thin layer of vanilla frosting (crumb coat) to trap any run-away crumbs. Chill the cake in the freezer or fridge for about 5 minutes, until the buttercream is firm to the touch.

Next, add a thicker, second layer of vanilla buttercream. Use a bench scraper to smooth the sides of the cake, then add on dabs of peanut butter. Smooth again using a bench scraper, to create a watercolor effect with the peanut butter. You can see a full tutorial on how to frost a cake with smooth sides here. Use a small offset spatula to smooth the top of the cake.

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Add crushed freeze-dried strawberries and chopped peanuts around the base of the cake. Spread peanut butter on the sides of a piping bag fitted with aWilton 1M frosting tip, then fill with vanilla buttercream.  Pipe 8 larger swirls on top of the cake, and place a strawberry on top of each swirl. Sprinkle additional freeze-dried strawberries between the swirls.

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This cake serves about 16 people, so be sure you have lots of friends around to help you enjoy it!! It is every peanut butter lovers’ dream, and is an epic way to celebrate one of my favorite national food holidays. While the outside of the cake is pretty, the inside is really the star of the show! Just look at jam!!

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Ultimate Nutella Cake

Nutella… such a wonderful creation. It holds a special place in my heart, and I absolutely love baking with it! I almost feel like I’m cheating every time I add it to a cake, because I know it’s going to be so delicious!! For this cake I tried out Yolanda Gampp’s chocolate cake recipe, which is such an amazing recipe! The layers are so delicious, and easy to work with.  This cake is frosted with a black cocoa buttercream, Nutella buttercream, and vanilla buttercream. I frosted this cake using a textured buttercream look, inspired by the wonderful @KarleesKupcakes! The full tutorial is included below:

Recipes:

Bake 4, 7-inch round cake layers using Yo’s recipe and instructions. Allow layers to cool fully before leveling. Place pans into the freezer for 1 hour, to accelerate the cooling process, and lock in the moisture.

While the layers cool, make the frosting! Once the vanilla frosting is made, place 1/5 of the frosting into a bowl. Add 1/2 cup black cocoa, and 1 extra Tbsp of heavy cream. Mix until fully combined, then cover with saran wrap and set aside (be sure to place the plastic wrap directly on top of the frosting to prevent crusting!). Place 1/5 of the vanilla frosting into another bowl, and also cover and set aside. Add 3/4 of a jar (roughly 1 cup, give or take) of Nutella into the remaining frosting, plus and extra 2 Tbsp heavy cream. Mix until fully incorporated, and cover with plastic wrap.

Once the layers are fully cooled, remove cake layers from pans and level the tops using a serrated knife. Use a thick, sterile brush to douse the cake layers with simple syrup. Stack and frost they layers, using the black cocoa buttercream on the first layer. Spread a generous layer of frosting, then drizzle warm Nutella over the frosting using a spoon. Sprinkle toasted hazelnuts over this. Repeat on the next layer using the Nutella buttercream, and on the third layer with vanilla frosting.

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Cover the cake in a thin layer of frosting (crumb coat) to trap any run-away crumbs. Chill the cake in the freezer or fridge for about 5 minutes, until the buttercream is firm to the touch.

Next, add a thicker, second layer of Nutella buttercream. Use a bench scraper to smooth the sides of the cake, and a small offset spatula to smooth the top of the cake. You can see a full tutorial on how to frost a cake with smooth sides here.

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To create a textured buttercream look, use a small offset spatula to spread white s buttercream smears around the cake. Thin these out using a bench scrapper, to created rougher edges on each bit of white frosting. Layer the black cocoa frosting onto the cake next, using the same technique. Chill the cake for 5 minutes in the fridge, the add some Nutella buttercream streaks.

 

Swirl together the remaining frosting colors into a piping bag fitted with a Wilton 4B tip. Pipe buttercream swirls onto the top of the cake, leaving about an inch of open space between each swirl. Top each swirl with a chocolate truffle (I used Ferrero Rocher).

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Use a squirt bottle to drizzle the chocolate ganache between the swirls, to make some short drips. To learn my tips and tricks on adding chocolate drips to a cake, you can click here.

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It was so fun to mix up the look of this cake with this textured buttercream look! While perfectly smooth sides on a cake are wonderful, it’s exciting to try different techniques. Using three different frosting types inside the cake made the slices look beautiful!! They almost had an ombre effect 🙂

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This cake was made to test this cake design for my weekly Food Network Livestream. I never have a hard time dreaming up cake ideas, but making sure I’ll be able to live stream them is a different story! I like to make a test cake the weekend before to ensure my livestream will go smoothly. If you want to see a live demo, be sure to tune into the Food Network Facebook Page at 7:45pm EST this Wednesday 🙂

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Peppermint Candy Cane Cake

As winter drags on, I wanted to brighten up this cold spell with this colorful, peppermint cake! I show how to create these buttercream stripes, and how to make a peppermint design between the layers!! The full recipe and tutorial can be found below:

Recipes:

Instructions:

Pour red cake batter into three, six-inch round cake pans, which have been lined with parchment paper and greased with non-stick spray. Bake layers in a preheated 350 degree F oven, for 30 minutes. Remove the pans for the oven, and run an offset spatula around the perimeter of the pans, to separate the layers from the pan. Place pans in the freezer to 1 hour to accelerate the cooling process and lock in the moisture of the cakes.

While the layers cool, make the peppermint buttercream frosting. Divide in half, and color one half a bright red using Americolor gel food coloring.  If you’re having trouble achieving a true red shade, add the tiniest drop of black gel food coloring. It also helps to make it in advance, as the shade deepens overnight. Place each color of frosting into it’s own piping bag.

Next, make the chocolate ganache. Allow the ganache to cool slightly, then pour into plastic squeeze bottle. If you don’t have a squeeze bottle, you can use a spoon instead!

Once the layers are fully cooled and chilled to the touch, trim away any caramelized bits using a serrated knife. Pipe alternating colors of red and white buttercream in rings on top of each layer (resembles a bulls-eye!). This will create a striped look when we cut into the cake.

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Cover the cake in a thin layer of frosting (crumb coat) to trap any run away crumbs. Chill the cake in the freezer or fridge for about 5 minutes, until the buttercream is firm to the touch. Pipe horizontal lines around the cake, alternating the red and white frosting.

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Smooth red buttercream over the top of the cake, then use a bench scraper to smooth the stripes on the side of the cake. You can see a full tutorial on how to frost a cake with smooth sides here.

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Add crushed peppermint candies around the base of the cake, pressing the gently against the frosting using a small offset spatula. Chill the cake in the fridge or freezer until it is firm to the touch (about 10 minutes).

Swirl together remaining red and white frosting into a piping bag fitted with a Wilton 1M tip.

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Pipe buttercream swirls onto the top of the cake, leaving about an inch of open space between each swirl. Add chocolate ganache drips between the swirls, and top each swirl with a peppermint candy.

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This cake is truly peppermint themed through and through! Remember that you should add peppermint extract to taste. As you add it into the frosting, do taste tests after each tsp to make sure that the amount of peppermint suites your palate! Some people prefer a strong taste, others enjoy a more subtle, mint flavor.

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Marbled Christmas Tree Sugar Cookies

I rarely step outside of the realm of cakes, but my office was hosting a cookie challenge and I couldn’t resist whipping something up! There is no baking blog I trust more than Sally’s Baking Addiction (every recipe she shares is MAGIC!), so I used her sugar cookie recipe as the base for these. Just like always, the recipe delivered! The cookies were soft, chewy, and most importantly they kept their shape! They didn’t spread at all, and had nice clean edges. I swapped out some of the vanilla and almond extract with maple extract to mix things up, but other than that I followed Sally’s recipe to a T.

The icing was a whole different story. I’ve never made royal icing before, so this was definitely a learn-as-you-go experience. I didn’t want to deal with a double boiler and fresh egg whites, so I decided to try a recipe by Wilton, and added some maple extract into the frosting. Making the base frosting isn’t too difficult. The hard part is getting this base to flooding consistency so you can dip the cookies into it. I found that the figure 8 test is the best way to ensure you have the right consistency (thank you Serious Eats for the tip!!!). If the figure 8 disappears in exactly 8 seconds, the icing is ready to use as a cookie glaze (more details below!).

And then there’s the design! I’d seen marbled sugar cookies on Instagram, and when I saw these beauties by Sana Sodawala (@sugarbase_) pop up on my explore page, I was totally inspired!! Below are all the recipes I used, the things I learned along the way, and a step-by-step tutorial.

Sugar Cookie Dough (adapated from Sally’s Baking Addiction)

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons maple extract
  • 2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Royal Icing (adapted from Wilton)

  • 3 tbsp meringue powder
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 5-6 Tbsp water, room temp
  • 2 tsp. maple extract
  • additional water to bring to flooding consistency (I believe I used around 4 1/2 Tbsp – but this can vary!)

Instructions:

Begin by making the sugar cookie dough. In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and beat on high speed until light and fluffy (at least 2 minutes). Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the egg, vanilla, and maple extract and beat on high until fully combine, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.

Mix in the baking powder and salt. On a low speed, add about half of the flour, beating just until combined. Add the rest of the flour and continue mixing until the dough has just barely come together. If the dough still seems too soft, you can add 1 Tablespoon more flour until it is a better consistency for rolling.

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Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Lightly flour the parchment paper and your rolling pin, then roll each portion out onto a piece of parchment to about 1/4″ thickness. Stack the pieces (with parchment paper) onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Chilling is what allows the cookies to keep their shape, so this step is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.

Once chilled, preheat oven to 350°F. Line 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat (silicone baking mats work best!). The number of batches you bake will depend on how large/small you cut your cookies. Remove one of the dough sheets from the refrigerator and using a cookie cutter, cut in shapes.

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Transfer the cut cookie dough to the prepared baking sheet. Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting until all is used. Chill the cut out shapes for another 10 minutes, then pop the trays into the oven.

Bake for 8-10 minutes (varies based on size and thickness of cookie), until the edges just begin to lightly brown. Rotate the baking sheets halfway through bake time, to ensure they’re evenly cooked. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before icing (at least 1 hour).

While the cookies cool, make the royal icing. Place confectioners’ sugar and meringue powder in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and combine with short, slow pulses. Add in the water and maple extract, and mix on a medium speed until stiff peaks form (takes about 5 minutes). Next, add in water 1 Tbsp at a time until flooding consistency is reached. I had to add about 4 1/2 Tbsp of water, but I also think I was a bit heavy handed adding in the powdered sugar.

To test the consistency, use the Figure 8 test!! Lift up your spoon or spatula, and create a figure 8 with the run off frosting. If the figure 8 disappears in exactly 8 seconds, the icing is ready to use as a cookie glaze. If it melts away faster, thicken by adding a spoonful of powdered sugar. If it takes longer than 8 seconds to disappear, thin by adding a few drops of cream. Repeat this test, making adjustments as you go, until the figure 8 takes exactly 8 seconds to disappear.To prevent crusting, place saran wrap directly on top of the royal icing. This is very important!! If you leave the frosting exposed to air for too long, it will crust and form a chunky top layer! Be sure keep frosting covered until right before you plan to use it.

Once you’re ready to frost the cooled cookies, color 1/2 cup of the royal icing bright green, and place into a piping bag. Color another 1/2 of frosting a deep green, and place in a separate piping bag.

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Cut the tips of both piping bags to create a small opening (1/4 of an inch). Drizzle both green frosting over the uncolored icing. Use a toothpick to drag lines through the colors to create a swirled pattern. Then dunk cookies in to the glaze, one at a time. Be sure to cover the entire surface of the cookie.

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Allow some of the frosting to run off before carefully flipping the cookie frosting side up, and placing onto a wire rack to dry. This part can get a bit messy, so be sure to have paper towels or a hand towel nearby. After each cookie, drizzle and swirl a bit more of the green icing, to ensure every cookie is nice and colorful.

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Allow the cookies to dry for at least 3 hours. The frosting should be firm to the touch, but I was still too scared to stack them on top of each other!! I placed them in a large, flat box, to bring into work.

I used a variety of cookie cutters (I have a ton of cookie cutters I’ve never used, and I wanted to break them in :P), and also made some cacti, a couple cats, and mini gingerbread shaped men.

 

Easy Buttercream Santa Cake

Believe it or not, this is the first Santa Cake I’ve ever made! I originally made this cake to celebrate St. Nicholas Days earlier in December, but am just getting around to sharing it now! This cake is made with almond cake layers, and almond buttercream. I’m not sure it it’s from the almond cookies we enjoy around the holidays, but I always associate almond flavoring with the holidays. The recipe and tutorial can be found below:

Almond Cake Batter:

  • 3 1/4 cup (416 grams) all purpose flour
  • 3 cups (600 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp (13 grams) baking powder
  • 1 tsp (5 grams) salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter or 2 sticks (226 grams), room temperature
  • 2 tsp. (9 grams) almond extract
  • 1 cup egg whites (244 grams) – about 7 large egg whites; I use egg whites from the carton to avoid wasting egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 grams) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/8 cup (28 grams) vegetable oil

Almond Buttercream Frosting: 

  • 6 sticks or 3 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 12 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 2 tsp. almond

Additional Supplies:

  • black, white, and yellow colored fondant (1 inch ball of each)
  • red, green, and black gel food coloring
  • Wilton 1M tip
  • white sanding sugar
  • piping bags

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line four 7″ round pans with parchment rounds, and grease with non-stick cooking spray.

Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.

Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.

Pour in egg whites, and mix on low until just incorporated.  Mix in the buttermilk in two installments, on a low speed. Add in almond extract and oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds.

Divide evenly between two bowls. Use gel food coloring to color one red, and one green. Divide evenly between the prepared cake pans, to make 2 layers of each color. Bake for 37-38 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean). Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Place cake layers on a rack to finish cooling (or place in the freezer for 45 minutes, to accelerate the cooling process). Once full cooled, trim any caramelization from the sides of the layers using a serrated knife.

While the layers bake and cool, prepare the buttercream frosting. Beat the butter on medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Add the heavy cream half way through. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on medium low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is too thick, add in cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time). To watch a full tutorial on how I make my frosting, you can click here. Place 1/2 cup of frosting in a separate bowl, and add ivory gel food coloring to create a flesh like color. Set aside. Place 2/3 cup of frosting into a seperate bowl, and color black with gel food coloring. Place into a piping bag fitted with a wide, flat tip. Place 1 cup of uncolored  buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a Wilton 1M tip. Color the remaing forsting red with a generous squirt of red gel good, plus the smallest drop of black (it helps deepen the shade). If you’re having trouble getting a deep red shade, try making the frosting a day in advance. The color will deepen overnight.

Prepare the fondant features next. Use the yellow fondant to create a rectangular belt buckle, making it slightly larger than the width you plan to pipe for the belt. Use the black and white fondant to create two eyes. Cut out a small semi-circle of black fondant to be Santa’s mouth. Also cut out two thicker semi-circles to place at the bottom of the cake, to be Santa’s feet.

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Stack and frost layers using the red buttercream. Cover the cake in a thin crumb coat, and chill in the freezer or fridge for about 5 minutes.Add a second, thicker layer of red buttercream frosting. Smooth using a bench scraper. You can see a full tutorial on how to frost a cake with smooth sides here.

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Next, pipe a line around the side of the cake using the black buttercream to be Santa’s belt. Carefully place the belt buckle on top of the black frosting. Next, add the black semi circles to the base, to resemble Santa’s feet. Pipe two diagonal lines from the top of the cake towards the belt buckle, for his arms.

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Next, frost the top of the cake with a large circle of the skin colored frosting. Place the remaining red buttercream into a piping bag with a 1.5 cm opening. Pipe a line 3/4 up the cake, and fill in the space to create Santa’s hat. Pipe an elongate triangle on top of this, to look like the top of Santa’s hat, hanging down towards his face. Pipe small, white buttercream swirls along the base of the had to look like the hat’s fur.

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Next, add on the eyes and mouth. Use the white buttercream to pipe on a mustache, and then pipe swirls around the sides of the face and chin to complete Santa’s beard. Place the remaining skin tone frosting into a piping bag and trim a 1 inch opening. Pipe a large round circle above the mustache to be the nose, and pipe two round hands onto the base of each arm.

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If desired, you can also add some white sanding sugar onto the base of Santa’s hat. This cake is a perfect way to celebrate the Holidays! I even had my fiance help a little with the decoration 😛 This cake feeds 15-20 people.

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