All posts by Chelsweets

I work in finance during day, and like to think of myself as a baker by night! Follow me here at Chelsweets.com, on instagram @chelsweets, and on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/c/ChelsweetsBakery ) to see my creations :D You can also

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.

blackout ganache boarded piping

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.

blacout image pudding spread

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.

blackout crumbs around base

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.

blackout piping frosting on top

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 🙂

blackout slice

brooklyn blackout cake uncut

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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!

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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Holiday Tree Stump Cake

For this week’s live stream, I made my take on a Yule Log cake! It really is more a festive tree stump than a classic Buche de Noel, but I think it gets the holiday spirit across. It uses the techniques of a Swiss roll cake,  but then kicks things up a notch by frosting the roll cake vertically!!

This cake is made with chocolate sponge cake layers, filled with a peanut butter buttercream, and covered in chocolate ganache.  The recipe and instructions can be found below:

Chocolate Cake Batter: (recipe adapted from Love and Olive Oil)

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup black cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 5 ounces milk chocolate chips

Peanut Butter Buttercream:

  • 3 sticks or 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 8 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Milk Chocolate Ganache:

  • 1 bag mini chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Additional Decorations:

  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios
  • Round, red sprinkles
  • marzipan
  • sliced almonds

Instructions:

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.

Next, prepare the chocolate cake layers. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Lightly butter two half sheet pans; line bottom with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat eggs and sugar until combined. Mix in vanilla and espresso powder.

Heat the butter and chocolate chips in the microwave for 2, 30 second intervals, stirring between. Let the mixture sit for one minute, then stir until all chocolate pieces are melted. If any chocolate bits remain, heat for another 30 seconds.

Slowly pout into the egg mixture while mixer is at a low speed, and scrape down the sides as needed with a spatula. Pour dry ingredients over top into the bowl in two installments, and fold together large rubber spatula. Spread evenly between the two prepared pans, offset spatula to ensure even distribution.

Bake for about 18 minutes, or until the a toothpick inserted into the center of the layer comes out clean. Remove from oven, and allow the layers to cool for 1 minutes. turn out the cake upside down onto a piece of parchment paper sprinkled lightly with cocoa. You can also use a clean dish towel, but I found that parchment paper works much better!!

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Peel away parchment paper from bottom of cake, then gently roll each cake layer and place on a cooling rack. Set the rolled-up cake seam-side down, and let cool until just slightly warm to the touch, about 25 minutes.

While the layers cool prepare the peanut butter buttercream. Beat the butter and peanut 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.

When the layers have cooled for about 25 minutes, carefully unroll them. Don’t worry if there are a few cracks in your layers, the buttercream will fill them and once you rolls the layer back up, they wont be visible! Gently spread a thick layer of frosting over layer. Line them up so the the short sides are touching, and begin to re-roll the layers.

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Continue until you get to the end of the first roll, and then carefully align the second layer, and continue rolling until both layers have been combined into one large log. This part will be messy!! Place seam side down on a cooling rack, and place in the freezer to help the cake cool into its rolled shape.

Let the cake chill for about 1 hour, then remove from the freezer. Use a sharp knife to trim about 1 inch away from both sides of the cake roll, to make them flat. Spread a large dab of buttercream into the center of the cake round, and carefully place the log vertically, securing it in the buttercream.

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Frost the top of the cake with leftover peanut butter buttercream, and use a fork to create lines in the frosting to resemble tree rings.

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Cover the sides of the cake in chocolate ganache, adding a bit more around the base in certain areas to resemble the roots of a tree stump. Use an offset spatula to drag ganache up the cake, to give the bark some texture. Use marzipan to make mushrooms, and add red round sprinkles to look like small berries.

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Sprinkle chopped pistachios around the base, and a little bit onto the top of the stump to look like moss. The cut into the cake, and see the vertical layers created by rolling the cake layers!