Category Archives: Holiday Treats

Thanksgiving Turkey Cake

I can’t believe Thanksgiving is this week!!!! Since I am a pie novice, of course I wanted to make a cake to celebrate T-Day. I was inspired by the turkey cake Baked by Dan made on one of his Food Network livestreams. This cute little turkey cake is made with colorful swirled pumpkin cake layers, and is covered in milk chocolate ganache. I’m sure some of you are thinking, “pumpkin, and chocolate??” Trust me on this one, it’s a surprisingly delicious combination. The recipe and tutorial can be found below:

Pumpkin 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 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup unsalted butter or 2 sticks (226 grams), room temperature
  • 2 tsp. (9 grams) vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup egg whites (183 grams) – about 5 large egg whites; I use egg whites from the carton to avoid wasting egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 grams) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree (I used canned pumpkin for this)
  • yellow, orange, and red food coloring

Milk Chocolate Ganache:

  • 23 oz. (652 grams) milk chocolate chips (I use Hershey’s)
  • 1 cup + 1 tsp (230 grams) heavy cream

Additional Decorations:

  • red, orange and yellow fondant (I use the Satin Ice brand – I think it tastes best of all the premade fondant!)
  • 1 set of jumbo eye sprinkles, or eyes made with black and white fondant
  • piping bag
  • kitchen scale (for ganache)

Instructions:

The milk chocolate ganache needs a few hours to firm up before you can you cover the cake, so I like to make it in advance (usually the night before)! Note that if you want to use dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate, you will need to use more cream (weight ratio of dark chocolate to heavy cream is 2:1, milk chocolate is 3:1)

To make the ganache,  place chocolate chips or chopped chocolate into a bowl. In a separate bowl, heat heavy cream at a medium heat until it just begins to bubble (watch very carefully, heavy cream can bubble over in the blink of an eye!!). Pour over the chocolate. Let the mixture sit for about 2 minutes without touching it, then stir until fully incorporated. If there are still lumps of chocolate, heat the bowl for 15 seconds and then stir again; continue until no lumps remain. Once the mixture is nice and smooth, place plastic wrap over the top of the ganache, and let it sit overnight.

The fondant accents also need to be made in advance, so they can dry. Roll out colored fondant to be 1/4 of an inch thick, and cut out feather shaped pieces (mine looked like giant tear drops) that are about 4 inches long. Use circle cutters to make cartoon fondant eyes, and shape a beak, two turkey feet, and a gobble. Set aside to dry.

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Next, prepare the pumpkin cake layers. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line four 7″ 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 vanilla and pumpkin puree, and mix at a low speed until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Divide batter between three bowls, coloring them yellow, orange, and red with gel food coloring. Add spoonfuls of batter into the pans, then tap them on the counter to flatten the batter. Swirl together using a butter knife (full tutorial on how to make swirled layers here).

Bake for 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.

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To assemble the cake, cover cake layers with a generous layer of ganache, and stack vertically. Add a thick, even layer of ganache around the cake using an offset spatula. 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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Place remaining ganache into a piping back, and pipe wings half way up the sides of the cake. Next, add on the facial features to the front of the cake. Secure the feathers to the back of the cake, using additional tabs of ganache. Once the entire back fan of feathers is in place, trim remaining feathers and gently insert into the top of the cake neat the other feathers. I found the cutting a slit into the top of the cake with a small knife made this process much easier.

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As fun as this cake is to build, it’s even more fun to cut into!! The swirled layers contrast beautifully against the chocolate ganache, and the pumpkin / chocolate flavor combo is a real crowd pleaser. It’s perfect for kids, and the adults don’t seem to mind it either 🙂

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Shattered Glass Cake

I have a confession…I loved the shattered glass Halloween cupcakes I made last week so much that I decided to make a shattered glass CAKE!! It some how looks more gory than the cupcakes, but it tastes just as delicious. The recipe and instructions can be found below:

1 batch my favorite vanilla layer cake (4, 7″ cake rounds)

1.5 batches my classic American buttercream

Edible Glass Shards:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • candy thermometer

Additional Supplies:

  • strawberry jam
  • red food coloring
  • hammer or meat mallet

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and prepare cake batter. Bake 4, 7 inch layers for about 38 minutes. Once removed from the oven, carefully run a small offset spatula around the perimeter of the pan, to separate the layers. Let these cool for about 10 minutes, then carefully remove them from the pans and place in the freezer for about 45 minutes (accelerates the cooling process).

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.

To make the edible glass shards,  mix 1 cup water, 1/2 cup corn syrup, sugar, and cream of tartar in a large saucepan or pot. Bring mixture to a boil. Use a candy thermometer and boil sugar syrup until temperature reaches 300 degrees, stirring constantly. It’s super important that you get the mixture to exactly 300 degrees, and immediately remove from the heat one it does. If it doesn’t reach this temperature, it won’t fully harden, and you won’t be able to smash it into smaller shards. If it gets hotter than this, or if you don’t stir if constantly, the mixture can begin to caramelize and gain a yellowish hue. When sugar reaches 300 degrees, quickly pour onto a metal baking pan. Cool until completely firm to the touch. Break into “shards” using a hard object (I sterilized a hammer for this, but a meat mallet would work too!).

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Remove the layers from the freezer, and use a 3 inch circle cutter to remove the centers of two of the layers. Begin assembling the cake using an uncut cake layer. Frost with an even layer of vanilla buttercream, then top with one of the cake layers. Gently frost the cake ring, the stack with the other cut layer. Spread an even layer of buttercream on top of the second cake ring, then smooth frosting into the cut-out center of the cake.

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Mix one squirt of red gel food coloring into the strawberry jam, and then carefully pour into the center of the cake. Fill to the top, then place the last cake layer on top. 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, thicker layer of frosting using the black chocolate buttercream. 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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Stick glass shards into the frosting on top of the cake, and then drizzle some of the remaining red jam between the shards. Then gather everyone around, and cut into the cake for a gory site!!

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Spooky Vampire Bat Cake

As we get closer to Halloween, my mind is completely filled with Halloween-themed cake ideas!! This vampire bat cake is made with my favorite chocolate layer cake recipe, frosted with my black buttercream frosting, and has a strawberry “blood” filling!! This cake is just as spooky as it is silly 🙂 The full recipe can be found below, along with a quick tutorial:

Recipes:

Bake four, seven inch chocolate cake rounds. While the cake layers bake and cool, make the bat’s wings and facial features. Use circle cutters to create the eyes, and wings. Insert wooden skewers or tooth picks into the wings, to make it easier to secure them onto the cake. Place the fondant details onto parchment paper to dry.

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Once fully cooled, use a 3 inch circle cutter to remove the centers of two of the layers. Begin assembling the cake using an uncut cake layer. Frost with an even layer of vanilla buttercream, then top with one of the cake layers. Gently frost the cake ring, the stack with the other cut layer. Spread an even layer of buttercream on top of the second cake ring, then smooth frosting into the cut-out center of the cake.

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Mix one squirt of red gel food coloring into the strawberry jam, and then carefully pour into the center of the cake. Fill to the top, then place the last cake layer on top. 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, thicker layer of frosting using the black chocolate buttercream. Smooth using a bench scraper. You can see a full tutorial on how to frost a cake with smooth sides here.

Add facial features onto the side of the cake, and insert the wings 2/3 of the way up the cake, on each side of the face.

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Then gather everyone around for the dramatic cut!!! The strawberry jam will begin oozing out as soon as you remove the first slice, so be prepared!

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Halloween-Inspired Pumpkin Cupcakes

It’s finally October, and I couldn’t resist whipping up some easy Halloween cupcakes!! These decorations don’t require any fancy tips or difficult techniques, but you will need a bit of gel food coloring! I made them using a super moist pumpkin cupcake recipe, and frosted them using a cream cheese buttercream frosting! The recipes used can be found below:

Pumpkin Cupcake Batter

  • 1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ⅓ tsp. pumpkin spice
  • ¾ cup canned pumpkin
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

  • 2 sticks or 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1 tsp  vanilla
  • Orange and green gel food coloring

Additional Supplies:

  • Tootsie Rolls
  • piping bags

Bake time: 17 minutes

Yield: 12-14 cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit. Line two muffin tins with cupcake liners.

Place the flour, sugar, dark brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin spice into a large bowl. Gently stir to combine. Add in the oil and pumpkin, and stir until incorporated. Mix in the eggs, one at a time. Add a squirt of orange gel food coloring, and stir until the batter is evenly colored.

Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full, and bake for 17 minutes. Remove from oven and place on wire racks to cool. To speed up the cooling process, you can also place the cupcakes in the freezer for 15 minutes.

While the cupcakes bake, prepare the cream cheese frosting. Beat the butter and cream cheese on a medium speed for 30 seconds, 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 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.

Color 1/6 of the frosting green, and color the remaining portion orange using gel food coloring. Place both colors into piping bags. Trim a 1 cm opening for the orange frosting, and 1/2 centimeter opening for the green frosting.

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Once the cupcakes are fully cooled, pipe orange panels onto the top of the cupcake. Cut tootsie rolls in half, and create score marks on the sides of the tootsie rolls using the edge of an offset spatula. Press them into the top edge of the cupcake, to be the pumpkin stump.

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Use the green frosting to pipe vines and leaves around the base on the pumpkin stump.

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I also used this recipe to also make a few other types of spooky Halloween cupcakes!

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You can watch the full tutorial here:

Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

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As fun as summer has been, I am so ready for Fall! By time August rolls around, I’m usually over the humidity, heat waves, and constant “glistening” whenever I step outside. Fall brings so many great things, including boots season, beautiful foliage, and yes, PSL! I might be getting a bit ahead of myself, but I couldn’t resist making these Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes. And yes, that is a pumpkin spice caramel drizzle. The full recipe is included below:

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcake Batter:

  • 1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ⅓ tsp. pumpkin spice
  • ¾ cup canned pumpkin
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp espresso powder, dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:

  • 2 sticks or 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1 tsp  vanilla

Pumpkin Spice Caramel Recipe:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin spice

Bake time: 17 minutes

Yield: 12-14 cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit. Line two muffin tins with cupcake liners.

Place the flour, sugar, dark brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin spice into a large bowl. Gently stir to combine. Add in the oil and pumpkin, and stir until incorporated. Mix in the eggs, one at a time. Add in the espresso, and stir until the batter in smooth. Another option is to swirl this batter with my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe! I decided to combine the two batters, to give these cupcakes a more exciting look. I alternated scoops of each batter, then used a knife to create a swirled pattern. This doubles the yield of the recipe.

Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full, and bake for 17 minutes. Remove from oven and place on wire racks to cool. To speed up the cooling process, you can also place the cupcakes in the freezer for 15 minutes.

While the cupcakes bake, prepare the pumpkin spice 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, salt, and pumpkin spice. Place in fridge to cool for 20 minutes, then pour into desired container. I put mine in a squirt bottle (for drizzling over cakes), but a mason jar or Tupperware container would work great too! The caramel will keep for several weeks in the fridge. You can see a full tutorial on how to make this caramel here.

Next, prepare the cream cheese frosting. Beat the butter and cream cheese on a medium speed for 30 seconds, 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 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.

Once the cupcakes are fully cooled, frost them with a Wilton 1M (open star) tip. Drizzle with Pumpkin Spice Caramel. Be sure the caramel is fully cooled, or else it will melt the frosting! Lightly dust the cupcakes with pumpkin spice.

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To take the decoration of these one step further, you can place them into the short cups from Starbucks (I filled the base with pumpkin candies, to make sure the cupcakes were elevated enough, and add a trimmed green straw!

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By swirling the batters together, you get the below look!

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The Ultimate Peeps Cake

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I had just enough time to make one more cake before Easter this year, and I wanted it to be epic. Nothing screams “EASTER” more than peeps, so they were in main inspiration for this cake! I used a pastel color theme to match with the peeps, and made a really fun checkerboard pattern on the inside. My favorite vanilla layer cake recipe works great for this, and I used 8 inch pans with 6″, 4″, and 2″ circle cutters. You can watch the full tutorial of this cake here. The recipes I used can be found below:

My Favorite Vanilla Layer Cake Recipe (divided into four parts, colored pastel shades of blue, purple, pink, and yellow with gel food coloring)

The Best Vanilla American Buttercream

White Chocolate Ganache (colored pastel blue, purple, pink, and yellow with gel food coloring)

Tools:

  • 8 inch cake pans
  • 6 inch, 4 inch, and 2 inch circle cutters (or cutters that can cut cake rings of equal width)
  • Wilton 1M piping tip
  • piping bags
  • Peeps
  • whopper chocolate eggs

Begin by baking cake layers. I usually do this the night before, as baking an entire cake from scratch in one day can be a bit much. While my cake layers bake, I make my buttercream. As long as the buttercream is stored properly, it can sit out overnight at room temperature (just be sure to re-stir it before frosting the cake the following day). The ganache can be made in advance as well, but needs to be stored in the fridge overnight (you can see a full tutorial on how to make colored drips here). To use it the following day, simply heat it in the microwave for 30 seconds – 1 minute, until the bottle is slightly warm to the touch, and is fluid enough to make drops.

Once the cake layers are baked and fully chilled, level cake layers to a uniformed height (roughly 1 inch) using a serrated knife. Remove parchment paper, and use circle cutters to cut the cake into four rings (technically three, since the center ends up being a circle :P). Gently separate the rings from one another, and lay them out on counter. Following a set color patter (I went blue, pink, purple yellow), rearrange the rings into four complete cake layers.

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Once all layers are recombined, stack and frost layers with buttercream. Apply a thin crumb coat, and chill the cake in freezer for 5 minutes. Once the crumb coat is firm to the touch, apply, a second, thicker coat of frosting. Smooth with a bench scrapper. If you want to see a full tutorial for how I get smooth sides on my cakes, you can click here. Place cake in freezer for 15 minutes. Once the cake is fully chilled, use a squirt bottle to add the ganache drips. You can learn all the tips and tricks I use to add drips to a cake here.

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Place leftover frosting into a piping bag with a Wilton 1M tip, and pipe large swirls in a ring around the top of the cake. Be sure to leave at least 1.5 inches of room between the edge of the cake and the swirls, so that the peeps will fit!  Next, place a peep on top of each swirl, and nestle whopper eggs between the swirls. And that’s it! Then all that’s left to do is cut into the cake, to see that beautiful checkerboard pattern 🙂

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New Year’s Eve Pink Champagne Cake

img_5592I can hardly believe 2016 is almost over. It’s been a big year for me, both in the kitchen and in my personal life! It only seemed fitting to celebrate it in style, and a raspberry pink champagne cake fit the bill. I used the below recipe in a live stream for the Food Network:

Pink Champagne Cake Batter:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced and room temperature
  • 1 cup egg whites (about 6 large egg whites)
  • 1 cup pink champagne (or prosecco)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/8 cup canola oil
  • 2 drops pink gel food coloring (I use the Americolor deep pink shade)

Raspberry Compote:

  • 1 bag frozen raspberries (13 oz.)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch

Champagne Buttercream:

  • 4 sticks (2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp champagne flavoring (or 1/4 cup champagne reduction)
  • gel food coloring (optional – I did an ombre pattern)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and line 4 7-inch round cake pans.

Start by making the pink champagne cake batter. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in mixing bowl. Gently stir dry ingredients together, then slowly beat in chunks of butter. Mix on low until mixture becomes crumbly, then mix in the egg whites. The mixture will be very thick. Mix in the champagne on low, then the buttermilk. Add in oil, and vanilla, then mix at a medium speed until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Mix in gel food coloring, and continue to mix until batter is evenly colored. Divide batter between the four prepared baking pans, and bake for 38 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow layers to cool in the pans for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pans to separate the cake layers from the pan. Remove layers from pan, and place in freezer to finish cooling.

While the cake layers bake and cool, prepare the raspberry compote. Heat a large pan to medium heat, and add frozen raspberries and sugar. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in lemon juice and cornstarch, and continue to cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and pour mixture through a strainer to remove seeds. Set aside to cool.

Next, prepare the champagne buttercream. Beat the butter on high for 30 seconds, 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, champagne flavoring, 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).

Once cake layers are fully chilled, assembly the cake! Stack cake layers, applying a generous layer of buttercream between each layer. Drizzle raspberry compote on top of the buttercream. Repeat with remaining cake layers, then apply a thin crumb coat of frosting. Place the cake in the freezer for 10 minutes, to allow the crumb coat to set. Apply another layer of frosting, and smooth with a cake bench. Top with additional raspberry compote, frosting swirls, and fresh raspberries. I also added a bit of edible gold dust and some white sanding sugar, to give it a little extra glitz 🙂

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