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!

 

 

 

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Easy Buttercream Reindeer Cupcakes

Christmas is a time for snow, reindeer, and PB&J cupcakes?! Yes, that’s right. When I was trying to think of the right flavor for these reindeer cupcakes, peanut butter was the front runner…and whenever I use peanut butter, jam usually follows suit. These cupcakes taste just as delicious as they look, and are sure to be a big hit at whatever holiday party you’re baking them for!! The recipe and tutorial can be found below:

Peanut Butter Cupcake Batter (adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction):

  • 1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup your favorite peanut butter (chunk or smooth)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temp
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk

Filling: A jar of your favorite jam

Peanut Butter Buttercream:

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Additional Decorations:

  • 12 tootsie rolls (antlers)
  • 12 pairs of eyes (can be eye sprinkles or homemade from fondant!)
  • brown and red M&Ms
  • brown sprinkles (mouth)
  • leave frosting tip
  • piping bags
  • brown gel food coloring

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Bake Time: 25 minutes

Decorations: 30 minutes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line muffin tin with 12 cupcake holders.

Begin by making the peanut butter cupcake batter. Cream together the peanut butter, butter, and brown sugar at a medium speed until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then add in vanilla. Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Mix in half the flour mixture, then add in the buttermilk.  Mix in the remaining dry ingredients, until just combined. Be careful not to overmix!! The batter should be pretty thick.

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Use a cookie scoop to divide batter evenly between 12 cupcake tins. Bake for 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Place the muffin tins into the freezer for 20 minutes, to accelerate the cooling process, and lock in the moisture of the cupcakes.

While the cupcakes cool, make the peanut butter buttercream! Beat the butter and peanut butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until combined. 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 into a piping bag, and cut a 1.5 cm opening. Add a few drops of brown gel food coloring to the remaining frosting, and place into a piping bag, cutting a 1 inch opening.

Next, prepare the antlers! To make each pair of antlers, heat 2 unwrapped tootsie tolls in the microwave for 10-15 seconds, until they just being to melt. They should be warm to the touch and easy to mold. If they are to hot to handle. Let them cool for 30 seconds – 1 minutes, then try to handle them again. Shape the tootsie rolls into two logs, about 1.5 inches long. use a small knife to cut into the logs, to shape the spikes of the antlers. Set aside on parchment paper to cool.  Be sure the antlers are fully hardened before inserting into the cupcakes.

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Once the cupcakes are full cooled, remove the centers with a knife and fill with your favorite jam. Place the top of each cutout on top of the jam, then pipe a swirl of brown peanut butter frosting onto each cupcake.

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Using the lighter peanut butter frosting, pipe a small circle on one side of the cupcakes to be the reindeer’s snout. Use an offset spatula to smooth the buttercream.

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Place a red or brown M&M on top of the snout, and a brown sprinkle to be the mouth. Add on the eyes just above the snout, and then insert the antlers into the top of the cupcakes.

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Use some of the remaining brown frosting and a leaf tip to pipe small ears. Freeze the ears, then quickly place them on the sides of the antlers. Then the cupcakes are ready to enjoy! While these cupcakes may be cute, they’re even more fun to eat 🙂

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Holiday Feast Cakes

People with holiday birthdays frequently find that the festive season can take priority over their special day!! In a national survey conducted by Chase Freedom, a third (32%) of those surveyed with holiday birthdays felt that they were celebrated less. In fact, the survey found that one-fifth of Americans admitted to forgetting, ignoring or deliberately downplaying someone’s birthday because it falls on or near a holiday.

I’ve recently partnered with Chase to shine a spotlight on holiday birthdays. If you didn’t know, I actually got my start by baking birthday cakes for friends, so this is a particular passion of mine. There is nothing quite like the look on someone’s face when they see the cake you’ve made just for them!

Last week, I helped host a birthday celebration at a local New York City Chase branch by creating a traditional holiday feast with a twist – they were made entirely of birthday cake, complete with sprinkles, funfetti and rainbow swirls inside! As you can imagine, guests were surprised to see cakes in the shape of a ham, a skillet of Brussels sprouts and even a cherry pie.

The recipes and tools needed are included below. If you want to try cooking up these festive cakes, please share using #ChaseFreedom:

Holiday Ham Cake

  • 5 batches of my vanilla layer cake recipe, colored light pink
  • 5 batches of my buttercream, +2 Tbsp Honey
  • 1 container sprinkles
  • pink fondant
  • brown fondant
  • brown and pink gel food coloring
  • kitchen torch

 

To make the Holiday Ham Cake, bake two 8 inch layers, two 7 inch layers, two 6 inch layers, and one 4 inch layer. Once baked and cooled, use a 4 inch circle cutter to remove the centers from one of the 8 inch layers, and two of the 7 inch layers. Prepare the buttercream, then stack and frost the layers from largest to smallest, along the side of cake. Once the layers without centers are stacked, apply a thing crumb coat the cut out areas, and fill with sprinkles.

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Top with remaining cake layers. Stacking them off center will make it easier to lay the cake on its side once it’s carved. Insert a wooden dowel through the cake to secure the layers, then use a serrated knife to carve the layers, to resemble the shape of a ham.

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Trim the side of the cake closest to the dowel, to make a flat surface to lay the cake on. Carefully flip the cake onto its side, then apply a thin crumb coat of frosting. Place an 8 inch, pink fondant circle on the front of the cake. Lay brown fondant over the side of the cake, and trim excess. Score lines around the sides of the ham using a fondant tool. Add a white fondant tail bone over the exposed dowel on the back of the cake. Cut out 1 inch of pink fondant using a circle cutter. Place a white fondant ring into the cutout, to be the other end of the bone.

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Use a kitchen torch to caramelize the brown fondant, to give the ham a “fresh out of the oven” look. Next, paint the brown fondant with a mixture of vodka and brown gel food coloring.

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In a small container, mix together a drop of red gel food coloring with a 1 Tbsp of vodka, and lightly dab onto the pink fondant to make the ham look juicy. The last step is to pipe some dark green buttercream around the ham cake as the leafy garnish.

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Brussels Sprout Cake

  • 1 batch of my vanilla layer cake recipe, + 3/4 cup rainbow sprinkles
  • 1 batch of my black buttercream
  • green fondant
  • black fondant
  • green food coloring mixed with 1 Tbsp vodka
  • 1 paint brush
  • 1 bag white chocolate, melted over a double boiler
  • kitchen torch

To make the Brussels sprouts cake, make two 10 inch funfetti cake layers. Prepare the black buttercream, and stack and frost the two funfetti cake layers. Trim the sides of the cake to taper in slightly towards the base. Scoop out about 1/2 inch from the center of the top layer, leaving a 1 cm rim.

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Coat in a thin crumb coat, and chill the cake in the fridge or freezer until the frosting is firm to the touch. Add a second, thicker layer of black buttercream, and smooth using a piece of acetate sheet.

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Next, prepare the Brussels sprouts! Make cake balls using trimmed cake bits and extra white frosting from the ham cake. Form twelve 1 inch balls, and freeze. Use a silicon mold to make 12 half spheres. Coat in a layer of white chocolate (you want them to have the texture of real Brussels sprouts, so they don’t need to be perfectly smooth!), and set aside to dry. Once firm to the touch, cover in a thin layer of white fondant. Create lines along the top of the cake balls to look like Brussels sprout leaves.

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Paint a couple layers of bright green food coloring mixed with vodka. Then paint an additional layer of forest green food coloring to give the Brussels sprouts more dimension. Set aside to dry.

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Once the food coloring has dried, arrange on top of the skillet cake. Start with the largest Brussels sprouts in the center of the cake, and work towards the edge of the cake. Fit as many as possible in the base layer, then add half of the Brussels sprouts into any remaining space, and on top of the first layer.

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Carefully use a blow torch to caramelize the Brussels sprouts and avoid touching the frosting with the flame!

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Cherry Pie Cake

  • 1 batch of my vanilla layer cake recipe, divided into 6 parts and colored red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple
  • 1 batch of my buttercream+ 2 squirts ivory gel food coloring
  • cherry pie filling
  • tan fondant
  • ivory food coloring + 1 Tbsp vodka
  • sterile paint brush

To make the cherry pie cake, bake two 10 inch cake layers, by swirling together rainbow colored batter. You can watch a full tutorial on how I make my swirled cake layers here. Prepare the tan colored buttercream, and stack and frost the two colorful cake layers. Trim the sides of the cake layers to taper.

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Flip the cake over so that the widest part is facing up. Scoop out about 1/2 inch from the center of the top layer, leaving a 1 cm rim. Coat in a thin crumb coat, and chill the cake in the fridge or freezer until the frosting is firm to the touch. Add a second layer of buttercream, and smooth using a piece of acetate sheet. Cover the sides in tan fondant, and lightly score using a fondant tool. Add the cherry pie filling onto the top of the cake, leaving a 1 inch boarder around the perimeter.

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Interlace 1 inch strips of fondant to create the pie crust top, and trim to fit a 10 inch circle using a cake board.

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Place a ruffled fondant pie crust boarded around the perimeter of the cake, then carefully place the latticed strips on top of the cherry pie filling. Secure the strips over the crust by gently pressing them together. Paint the top of the pie with 1 drop of ivory food coloring mixed with 1 Tbsp vodka, to give the cake a golden brown hue.

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Then it’s time to present the feast of cakes and cut in to reveal the birthday surprise centers!!!

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Striped Christmas Cake

Now that Thanksgiving has passed, we can finally begin baking for Christmas!!!! While I do love baking for Halloween, Christmas is definitely my favorite time of the year to bake! I decided to kick off this season of holiday baking with a very festive striped Christmas cake. The inside of this cake is just as fun (if not more fun) than the outside of the cake!

I am by no means a piping expert, but everyone has to start somewhere, and the only way to get better at something is to practice 🙂 The recipe and tutorial are included below:

1 batch my favorite vanilla layer cake (4, 7″ cake rounds) – divided into three parts, one colored red, one colored green, and one part left uncolored

1.5 batches my classic American buttercream

Additional Supplies:

  • Christmas sprinkles
  • red and green gel food coloring
  • Wilton 1M tip

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and prepare cake batter. Line and grease 4 7 inch pans. Spoon batter into the center of each cake pan, layering each color on top of the previous batter. If your layers get off center, simply tilt the pans to recenter the pattern.

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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). Once cool to the touch, trim the browned edges from the sides of the cake using a serrated knife. If desired, you can also trim the tops of the cake! The layers bake relatively flat, but some people find it easier to stack and frost layers when they’re perfectly level.

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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.

Stack and frost layers. Cover the cake in a thin crumb coat, and chill in the freezer or fridge for about 5 minutes.

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Once the crumb coat is firm to the touch, add a second, thicker layer of frosting. Smooth using a bench scraper. You can see a full tutorial on how to frost a cake with smooth sides here. Color the remaining frosting green and red, and place into piping bags with various tips. These tips are (from left to right) a Wilton 12, a Wilton 5, an Ateco 4, an Ateco 48.

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Use a bench scraper to make slight vertical indents along the sides of the cake. Use these lines as a guide and pipe stripes up the side of the cake. Begin by adding stripes around the entire cake with one frosting tip, then fill in with the other tips and frosting color.

MVI_1560_Moment (2) Carefully level the tops of the stripes using a sharp knife. Place remaining frosting into a piping bag with a Wilton 1M tip, and pipe swirls around the top of the cake. Add sprinkles (these are from Neon Yolk Shop) around the base of the cake and inside the buttercream swirls.

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Like I promised earlier, the inside of the cake is just as fun as the outside!

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Banana Monster Smash Cake

I’ve made some smash cakes in the past, but wanted to make a slightly larger smash cake this time! This cake is made with 7 inch cake rounds, and really would be great for a child’s birthday at any age! Or for any adults who enjoy monsters 😛 This cake is made with a moist banana cake layers, and frosted with a cream cheese buttercream. The full recipe and tutorial can be found below:

Banana Cake Batter

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup mashed bananas (3 medium sized bananas)

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

  • 6 sticks or 3 cups (650 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 oz cream cheese frosting (230g), room temperature
  • 16 cups (1814 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp (36 grams) salt
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 grams) heavy cream
  • 2 tsp (8 grams) vanilla
  • Blue and orange colored gel food coloring

Additional Decorations:

  • black and white fondant
  • grass tip (I used a wilton 233)
  • 2 pieces of dried spaghetti or 2 tooth pics (to secure the monster horns)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line and grease 3 7 inch pans, and 1 6 inch pan.

Cream together the butter and sugar on medium high speed for 2 minutes, until the butter becomes lighter in color and is fluffy. Mix in the eggs one at a time, then add the oil, vanilla  and buttermilk. Add in the mashed bananas and on a low speed, until just incorporated. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add into the wet ingredients in 3 phases. Divide batter evenly between two bowls, and color one blue with gel food coloring. Alternate spoons of white and blue batter into the pans, then swirl the colors together using an offset spatula or butter knife. You can see a full tutorial on how to make swirled cake layers here.

Bake layers for about 26 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 and cream cheese 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 watch a full tutorial on how I make my frosting, you can click here.

Color 1/2 the frosting a deep shade of blue, color 1/4 a light shade of blue, and 1/4  orange. Place into piping bags with a 1.5 cm opening (I simply cut the tips of the bags).

Stack and frost layers. Pipe rings on top of each cake layer, starting at the perimeter of the cake layer, working your way into the center. Be sure to follow the same color pattern (blue, light blue, orange), but alternate which color you start frosting with each layer.

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Place the 6 inch cake layer on top of the 7 in layers. Use a serrated knife to trim the edges of the 6 inch layer, to created a dome shaped top. Cover the cake in a thin crumb coat, and chill in the freezer or fridge for about 5 minutes. Place remaining blue and orange frosting into two piping bags with a grass tip.

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While the crumb coat chills, make the fondant facial features. You can get creative here and make however many eyes you want (I went with two, but have done one and three in the past). Make a mouth and horns, and insert either toothpicks or dry pieces of spaghetti into the horns. Set aside on parchment paper.

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Once the crumb coat is firm to the touch, pipe on the second layer of frosting to look like fur! I added orange fur spots first, then the fondant facial features. I filled in the remaining open space with blue frosting fur.

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Wrap the frosting bags with paper towels or a thin towel to help limit the amount of heat your hands transfer to the frosting. Once all the fur is on, add the horns. Then cut in to see the swirled layers and fun striped frosting patter!

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I really enjoyed making this little monster! If you want to use natural food coloring, you can try using India Tree food coloring (you can buy online or at whole foods). It’s not as vibrant as the Americolor gel food coloring I used here, but it does add color in a natural way.

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The Best Cream Cheese Frosting

I get asked a lot about my cream cheese frosting recipe, and I’m finally sharing it! A lot of cream cheese frosting recipes taste great, but don’t hold their shape.  This can be super frustrating when you’re trying to get super smooth sides on a cake, or pipe some fun designs onto a cupcake!! That’s what makes this frosting recipe so fantastic; it has the tang of a cream cheese frosting, but is sturdy like my classic american buttercream! It’s great for piping on cupcakes, and smoothing on cakes. The recipe and tutorial are included below:

When using this recipe to frost my favorite vanilla layer cake recipe (which is amazing and bakes flat!!), which can be used to make four 7 inch or 8 inch cake layers, I usually make 1.5 – 2 batches, depending on how I’m decorating the cake.

Cream Cheese Buttercream Ingredients: 

  • 3 sticks or 1.5 cups (325 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 oz cream cheese frosting (115g), room temperature
  • 8 cups (907 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp (3 grams) salt
  • 1 Tbsp. (15 grams) heavy cream
  • 1 tsp (4 grams) vanilla

Instructions:

Beat the butter and cream cheese 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).

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NOTE: If you are 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!

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Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

Around the holidays I’m always inspired by all the beautiful pies I see on social media! While I am by no means a pie expert, these cupcakes help satisfy my pumpkin pie aspirations, through a different medium. They’re made with a pumpkin cupcake batter, filled with a no-bake pumpkin pie filling, and frosted with a buttercream “crust.” The recipe and a quick tutorial are included 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

Pumpkin Pie Filling: 

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 package instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Vanilla Buttercream Ingredients: 

  • 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
  • yellow and brown food coloring

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 pumpkin pie filling. Pour one cup of cold heavy cream into a medium sized bowl, and whisk in 1 package of vanilla pudding mix. Whisk until the mixture is smooth, then add in 1 cup of pumpkin puree, pumpkin spice, and cinnamon. Mix until fully incorporated. Add a small squirt of orange gel food coloring if desired, to achieve a more vibrant shade of orange. Chill in the fridge.

Next, make the “pie crust” 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.  Add in a tiny bit of brown and yellow food coloring, to achieve a tan shade that resembles a pie crust. 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 the cupcakes are baked and fully cooled, use a small knife to remove the centers of the cupcakes. I cut out a large portion of the cupcake, so that I could fit in a lot of the pumpkin pie filling, but this is a matter of preference.

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Fill the centers with the chilled pumpkin pie mixture, the smooth the tops using an offset spatula. Place half of the frosting in a piping bag with a wilton 103 tip, and the rest into a bag with a small round opening.

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Pipe a variety of lattice designs and crusts onto the cupcakes. Below are the designs I made!

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You can pipe your favorite pie decorations, and also can modify this recipe to make different pie flavored cupcakes 🙂

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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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Apple Pie Layer Cake

In the spirit of Fall, I wanted to make some pies! That was, until I remembered that I’m terrified of pie crust, and thought better of it! Instead, I wound up making this Apple Pie Layer Cake. It’s made with a cinnamon spice layer cake, cinnamon buttercream, and an apple pie filling. It’s basically a pie and cake all wrapped up in four layers of deliciousness, without the fuss of ice cold butter and a pastry cutter.

For the decoration of this cake, I was inspired by Milk and Water Baking Co! Their beautiful and vibrant frosting techniques have taken over Instagram by storm, and I couldn’t resist trying it out on this cake! The full recipe and tutorial can be found below:

Cinnamon Spice 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 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 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

Apple Pie Filling: 

  • 1/2 cup of water (120ml)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (50g)
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar (25g)
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch (30g)
  • 2 Tbsp water (30ml)
  • 1 1/2 cups of diced apples, peeled and cored (about 1 1/2 large apples – I used granny smith) (200g)

Cinnamon Buttercream:

  • 6 sticks or 3 cups (about 650 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 12 cups (1,360 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp (6 grams) salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 Tbsp. (60 grams) heavy cream
  • 3 tsp (12 grams) vanilla
  • optional: fall colored gel food coloring (I used yellow, orange, red, and brown)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line four 8″ round pans with parchment rounds.

Being by making the cinnamon spice cake batter. Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, 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 35-37 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean). Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Remove the layers from the pans, wrap in saran wrap, and place in the freezer. It’s ok if they’re still warm, this will help lock in the moisture, making delicious, moist layers!

While the layers bake and cool, prepare the apple pie filling. Add 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 tsp of cinnamon into a large sauce pan, and bring to a boil at a medium high heat. Mix together the remaining 2 tbsp of sugar, 2 Tbsp of water, and 3 Tbsp of cornstarch to create a slurry (to thicken the filling). Add this slurry to the sauce pan, and whisk continuously until the mixture thickens (should happen pretty quickly). Add the diced apples, and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook for 5 minutes, until the apples are partially tender (you don’t want them to get too soft, and turn to mush!!) remove from heat and set aside to cool fully.

Next, prepare the cinnamon 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, cinnamon, 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 all the components are prepared, it’s time to assemble the cake! Secure the first cake layer to the cake board with a small dab of buttercream. Pipe a thick ring of buttercream around the perimeter of the layer. Fill the center with about 1/2 cup of the apple pie filling. repeat with remaining layers. Apply a thin layer of frosting around the outside of the cake (crumb coat), and smooth with a bench scraper. chill for about 10 minutes in the fridge (or 5 in the freezer), until the crumb coat is firm to the touch.

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To create the Milk and Water Baking Co look, color the remaining frosting fall colors (orange, yellow, red, brown), and blend together in piping bags with various piping tips.

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Pipe colorful bursts of frosting around the cake, until the entire cake is covered. I combined some of the colors into piping bags, and tried to spread out the colors to give it a somewhat uniform look.

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I added some rosettes and squiggles using a wilton 1M, and some ruffles and cherry blossom flowers using a petal tip.

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Once the cake is fully covered, it’s time to enjoy!! This cake not only looks like Fall, it tastes like it too 🙂

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Salmon Avocado Sushi Roll Cake

I’ve made sushi cakes before, but this time I wanted to take it a bit further and create a giant piece of a sushi roll!! The key to making a good sushi cake is having jet black frosting, and perfectly sized candy “rice.” Through trial and error, I’ve found that white jelly beans (the coconut flavor, to be specific) work best! I get mine at my neighborhood candy store, but if you can’t find them you could also use white sprinkles, or shredded coconut. For the jet-black frosting, I like to make chocolate buttercream using black cocoa, and then add a bit of black gel food coloring.

You can watch a full tutorial here, and the recipes are included below:

Recipes:

1 batch vanilla cake batter, baked in four 8 inch cake pans, for 35 minutes at 350 degrees F

1/2 batch vanilla cake batter, divided in half, one colored light green, one colored salmon; baked in two square (8 x 8 inch) pans sheet pan for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit

1.5 batches buttercream frosting, colored as follows:

  •  1/3 colored black with 3 squirts of black gel food coloring and 1/3 cup black cocoa + 1 additional Tbsp heavy cream
  • 1/3 left uncolored
  • 1/6 colored orange
  • 1/6 colored lime green
  • 1/6 colored dark green

Tools/decorations:

  • 10 inch grease-proof cake board
  • offset spatula
  • spinning cake stand
  • Gel food coloring (I used Americolor):
    • avocado: electric green and leaf green food coloring
    • For the salmon: orange gel food coloring
  • white jelly beans (the coconut flavor)

Use the cake recipes above to make four, 8-inch cake layers (white), and two 8 inch square layers (orange and green).

Chill the layers in the freezer once baked and cooled, to make them easier to frost and cut (I wrap my layers in saran wrap, and freeze them overnight, then allow them the sit out for about 20 minutes before frosting). Use a 4 inch circle cutter to cut out 2 orange cake circles, and 2 green cake circles. Cut each circle in half.

Use the same cutter to cut out the centers of the four cake layers. Take one half circle of orange cake, and one half circle of orange, and place them into the open center of the white circle layers.

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Once the buttercream is prepared and colored,  place each color into a piping bag. To assemble the cake, pipe the colored buttercream onto each layer to correspond with the color of each cake layer. Begin in the center with the orange and green frostings, and then use white frosting to pipe around the colored frosting.

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Repeat until all four cake layers are stacked, then repeat on top of the cake. Add white jelly beans onto the white frosting. Place the remaining white buttercream into a piping bag with a very small opening (1/2 cm), and pipe thin lines into the orange frosting, to look like the fat of the salmon. Smooth any overhanging frosting, and chill the cake for about 5 minutes in the fridge or freezer.

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Once the frosting is firm to the touch, apply a second, thicker layer of black frosting onto the sides of the cake, and 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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Then it’s time to cut and enjoy!! The best part is how colorful the inside is once you slice in 🙂

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Chocolate Pistachio Cake

I didn’t really eat pistachios as a kid, but grew to love them in college! My fiance is quite severely allergic to them (all tree nuts, for that matter), so I rarely eat them these days. Since we don’t keep any in our apartment, that also means I never bake with them!! I wanted to fix that, and the solution was this chocolate pistachio cake one afternoon while he was out running errands. It’s decadent, salty, and packed with pistachios!

This cake has a lot of different components, so I made the cake layers, chocolate ganachce, and brigadeiros a day advance (froze the cake layers, stored brigadeiros at room temperature in an air tight container, and let the ganache sit on the counter) to break up the time commitment of this cake. The recipes used can be found below:

Begin by baking the cake layers, making 6, 8 inch layers (they will be relatively thin, and should bake flat!). Allow the layers to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing. Wrap layers in saran wrap and place into the freeze to cool, and lock in moisture.

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While the cake layers bake, prepare the brigadeiros. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the 3 Tbsp cocoa, 1 Tbsp butter and 1 14 oz. can of condensed milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan (about 12 minutes). Remove from heat, and chill until the mixture is cool to the touch (it should be pretty firm to the touch, and will need to be to keep it’s shape!). Form into small balls, and roll in chopped pistachios. Place onto parchment paper and chill in the fridge.

Next, prepare the pistachio buttercream. Make 1 batch of my classic american 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, and beat on medium low until the ingredients are fully incorporated. Pour pistachio pudding mix into a bowl, and add 2 Tbsp heavy cream. Stir to begin to dissolve the pudding mixture. Once mixed, add into the frosting, and mix until fully incorporated. Add a couple small drops of gel food coloring to achieve a light green shade of frosting.

Then make the chocolate ganache. If making dark chocolate ganache, use a weight ratio of 2:1 (chocolate to cream). If making milk chocolate ganache, use a ratio of 3:1. For this recipe I used 2 bags of chocolate chips (about 23 oz, or 650 grams). Place both the chocolate and heavy cream in a heat proof bowl, and heat it for 30 second increments (stirring very gently each time, scrapping the edges of the bowl). Usually after about 2 minutes of heat, all the chocolate is melted. Once the mixture is fully incorporated and smooth, I place plastic wrap over the top of the ganache, and let it sit overnight. Before adding the room temperature ganache to a cake, I give it a slow stir with a spatula.

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Then it’s time to assemble the cake! Stack cake layers, alternating chocolate ganache and pistachio frosting, and sprinkling chopped pistachios between each layer.

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Once assembled, cover the cake in chocolate ganache. Sprinkle chopped pistachios around the base of the cake, and top with brigadeiros. I used a large offset spatula to create rings around the side of the cake, and I sprinkled some sea salt over the top of the cake. It tasted just as good as it looks! I brought this into work for my coworkers to help eat, and it was gone in record time 🙂

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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. 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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Chocolate Red Wine Cupcakes

I know, red wine AND dark chocolate?? WHAT?? This is one combo you’re just going to have to trust me on. The deep flavors of the dark chocolate and red wine pair surprisingly well together, and it’s just an added bonus that you can pour yourself a glass of the leftover red wine while making these. This recipe is perfect for these chilly fall evenings, and for the Holiday season! The full recipe can be found below:

Chocolate Red Wine Cupcake Batter (inspired by Sally’s amazing chocolate cupcake recipe):

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup  granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup your favorite red wine (I used a bottle of cabernet sauvignon)
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature

Red Wine Buttercream:

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp red wine
  • red and black gel food coloring

Dark Chocolate Red Wine Ganache:

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
  • 1 Tbsp red wine

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Bake Time: 19-20 minutes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and line cupcake tins with 12 liners.

Begin by making the red wine chocolate cupcake batter. Add dry ingredients into a bowl, and whisk together. Combine buttermilk, eggs, wine, and oil in a separate bowl, and mix into the dry ingredients in two installments. Stir until the ingredients are fully combined, then scoop equal amounts into liners using a cookie scoop (fill about 1/2 way, they will rise!). Bake for 19-20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before placing on a wire rack.

While the cupcakes bake and cool, prepare the red wine 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. Add the cream and red wine during this process.  Once fully mixed, add in the

salt, and beat on medium low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. Add a few squirts of red gel food coloring, and the smallest drop of black gel food coloring. Mix until the color is evenly distributed, and is a deep red shade. Place into a piping bag fitted with a Wilton 1M tip.

Next, prepare the red wine chocolate ganache. Place chopped dark chocolate and heavy cream into a heat proof bowl, and heat in microwave for 30 seconds at full heat. Stir, then heat for an additional 30 seconds. Stir again, then heat for 15 seconds. Let the mixture sit for about 1 minute, then stir until smooth. Add in the red wine, then set aside.

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Remove the centers from the fully cooled cupcakes using a 1 inch circle cutter or cupcake corer. Fill the center fully with a spoonful of red wine chocolate ganache.

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Frost with a large swirl of red wine frosting. Warm up any leftover ganache for 30 seconds to make it more fluid, then drizzle the leftover ganache over the top of the cupcakes.

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I also added a wine shaped pipette into the cupcakes, filled with wine. Because you can never have too much wine 😛

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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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Cinnamon Fireball Cupcakes

I had my first taste of fireball when I was 19, and it had a lasting impression. It’s a flavored whiskey liquor that tastes just like a liquid red hot. For some reason I’ve always associated fireball with the Fall, so it seemed like the right time to whip up some fireball-inspired cinnamon cupcakes! There’s fireball in both the cupcake batter, and the buttercream frosting, and the cupcakes are topped with a fireball pipette. The full recipe can be found below:

Fireball Cinnamon Cupcake Batter:

  • 1 1/4 cup (162g) all purpose flour
  • 1 cup (212g) sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup fireball

Fireball Buttercream Frosting:

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp. fireball
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • optional: yellow and orange gel food coloring

Yield: 12-14 regular cupcakes, about 40 mini cupcakes

Prep time: 10 minutes

Bake time: 17 minutes for regular cupcakes, 9-10 minutes for mini cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C) and place cupcake liners in baking pans.

Add the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt to a large mixer bowl and gently mix. Add the buttermilk, and gently stir until just combined. Next, add in the fireball, vanilla, and  vegetable oil, and mix until the batter comes together. Next, mix in the egg until well combined.

Fill the cupcake liners about 3/4 way full, and bake for 19 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool for 5 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack to finish cooling. Once cooled, poke holes into each cupcake using a fork, and drizzle fireball (1/2 – 1 tsp per cupcake) over each cupcake.

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While the cupcakes bake and cool, prepare the vanilla 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 fireball 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 some additional fireball (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).

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Color 1/2 of the frosting yellow, 1/4 orange, and leave 1/4 of the frosting uncolored. Place into piping bags fitted with a Wilton 1M tip (open star), and pipe swirls of each color onto the cupcakes. I matched the color pattern of  candy corn, but you can pipe them however you want!!

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The last step is to add a pipette of fireball into the side of each cupcake. Then it’s time to enjoy (responsibly!) 😛

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Halloween Cupcake Ideas: Round 2

I had so much making my last batch of Halloween cupcakes, I decided to make another!! This batch features a couple iconic cupcake designs, including an homage to Frankenstein, and the classic shattered glass cupcake (inspired by this recipe). These decorations don’t require fancy tips or difficult techniques, but you will need a bit of gel food coloring, and a candy thermometer! I made them using a super moist spice cupcake recipe, and frosted them using my american buttercream frosting! The recipes used can be found below, along with a quick tutorial:

Spice Cupcake Batter

  • 1 1/4 cup (162g) all purpose flour
  • 1 cup (212g) sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) water
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger

Vanilla American Buttercream Frosting:

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Orange, yellow, black and green gel food coloring

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:

  • Tootsie Rolls
  • piping bags
  • brown and red sprinkles
  • candy eyes
  • Halloween sprinkle blend
  • strawberry jam
  • red food coloring

Bake time: 17 minutes

Yield: 12-14 cupcakes

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

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C) and place cupcake liners in baking pans.

Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to a large mixer bowl and gently mix. Add the buttermilk, and gently stir until just combined. Next, add in the water, vanilla, and  vegetable oil, and mix until the batter comes together. Mix in the cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Next, stir in the egg until well combined.

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 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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For the shattered glass cupcake design, remove the center from each cupcake. I like to use a 1 inch circle cutter. In a medium bowl, mix together strawberry jam with 1 squirt of gel food coloring. Fill each cupcake with strawberry jam, and pipe white frosting over the jam. Stick glass shards into the frosting, and then drizzle some of the remaining red jam between the shards.

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To make the candy corn swirl cupcake, color a portion of the frosting yellow, and orange. Fit three piping bags with a Wilton 1M (open star) tip, and fill bags with the yellow, orange and white buttercream. Pipe the first, largest frosting swirl with the yellow buttercream. Add a second, smaller swirl with the orange frosting, and add a small finishing swirl on top with the white buttercream.

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To create the Frankenstein cupcakes, frost cupcakes with a mound of bright green buttercream. Dunk into chocolate jimmies, and leave one side of the frosting uncovered by sprinkles. Add candy eyes, a red sprinkle stitch, and a brown sprinkle mouth. Cut each tootsie rolls into 8 equal pieces, and shape small neck bolts. Stick into the sides of the frosting.

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To make the gothic halloween swirl cupcakes, pipe a mound of white buttercream onto each cupcake. Dunk into a Halloween sprinkle blend. I love using blends from Neon Yolk Shop.  Pipe a swirl of black frosting on top of the sprinkles, using a wilton 1M tip. Top with some orange sanding sugar.

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And that’s how you make all four designs!! I had a hard time picking my favorite, but I think I like the shattered glass cupcakes the best 🙂

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How to Make Black Buttercream Frosting

With Halloween just around the corner, I’ve been using black frosting on quite a few of my baking projects! This has led to a bunch of questions about how I get my frosting such a deep shade of black, so I’m sharing my secrets to making super black buttercream frosting! I start off using my classic american buttercream as a base, and then add my two secret ingredients: black cocoa, and gel food coloring.

I only recently discovered black cocoa, and I’m obsessed. Black cocoa has a slightly higher pH than dutch-processed cocoa (8 vs.7), and is much less acidic than natural baking cocoa (5-6). The best comparison is to think of the bittersweet, chocolaty taste of an Oreo cookie! It has a beautiful dark color, which helps build the perfect chocolaty base for this black frosting,

In terms of food coloring, gel food coloring is a must. It’s much more concentrated than liquid food coloring, so you can add less and still get the dark color you’re after! Liquid food coloring can also throw of the consistency of your frosting if you add too much. I always use the Americolor brand, which I purchase in big bottles from Amazon! A full tutorial showing how to make this frosting can be seen below:

When using this to frost my favorite vanilla layer cake recipe (which is amazing and bakes flat!!), which can be used to make four 7 inch or 8 inch cake layers, I usually make 1.5 – 2 batches, depending on how I’m decorating the cake.

Chocolate Black Buttercream Ingredients: 

  • 4 sticks or 2 cups (434 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 cups (907 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp (3 grams) salt
  • 3 Tbsp. (45 grams) heavy cream
  • 3 tsp (12 grams) vanilla
  • 1/2 cup black cocoa
  • black gel food coloring

Instructions:

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 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 full mixed, add in black cocoa. Slowly incorporate, then add in a couple squirts of gel food coloring.

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NOTE: To get super dark frosting, I highly recommend making it in advance and letting it sit overnight. The color will deepen with time (this is true of other colors as well!)

And that’s all there is too it!

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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:

The Ultimate Breakfast Cake

One of my favorite things about the East Coast is diners! There are tons of old-school diners, complete with bottomless coffee and a 15 page menu. It has become one of my favorite weekend activities, and is also the inspiration for this cake. It’s made with maple cake layers, a maple buttercream, and even has a maple caramel drizzle! To decorate the top, I also added real mini pancakes, candied bacon, and some fondant fried eggs. You can watch a full tutorial showing how to decorate this cake here:

The recipes can be found below:

Recipes:

1 batch vanilla cake batter + 1 Tbsp maple extract (I get mine at Whole Foods)

1.5 batches buttercream frosting + 1 Tbsp maple extract

1 batch caramel + 1 tsp maple extract

Decorations:

  • 2 fondant fried eggs (made out of yellow and white fondant, with edges painted brown using gel food coloring and vodka)
  • candied bacon (8-10 strips of bacon, sprinkled with brown sugar and tiny bit of cayenne pepper; baked at 400 degree F for about 20 minutes)
  • 5 mini pancakes (about 2.5 inches in diameter, made with pancake mix)
  • 1 pat of butter
  • chocolate ganache

Use the cake recipe to make four, 8-inch cake layers. Chill the layers in the freezer once baked and cooled, to make them easier to frost (I wrap my layers in saran wrap, and freeze them overnight, then allow them the sit out for about 20 minutes before frosting). Once the buttercream and caramel are prepared,  assemble the cake. Spread an even layer of buttercream onto each cake layer, and drizzle maple caramel over the entire layer on top of the frosting. Stack and repeat using remaining layers, flipping the top cake layer upside down (makes it easier to frost).  Apply a thin layer of frosting around the entire cake (crumb coat), and chill the cake for about 5 minutes in the fridge or freezer. Once the frosting is firm to the touch, apply a second, thicker layer of frosting and smooth using a bench scraper. You can see a full tutorial on how to frost a cake with smooth sides here.

Once frosted, begin decorating the cake by adding the hash brown boarder. Coat the sides of a frosting bag with chocolate ganache, and then fill with leftover buttercream.

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Cut a small opening at the tip (1/4 inch), and pipe 1 inch lines in various directions around the base of the cake. The frosting should be streaked with the ganache giving it the look of browned hash browns.

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Next, stack the mini pancakes on top of each other, and secure using a small skewer. Slice the candied bacon strips in half, and pile next to the pancakes. Add the fondant eggs to the remaining space on top of the cake.

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Drizzle caramel over pancake stack and down the sides of the cake. Top the pancake stack with a pat of butter, then slice in and enjoy!!!

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