Category Archives: Cakes

Cakes of all kind

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.

 

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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 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

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