Archive for the ‘Frostings’ Category

Recently, my friend’s husband hired me to make her birthday cake, requesting only that it be “chocolate and good.”

That meant I had lots of options.  Since I had recently created some chocolate cake goodness for the auction, I had an idea.

I used THIS cake as my inspiration, keeping the cake and ganache parts the same, but changing up the frosting a bit.

Instead of strawberries, I put about 15 Oreos in the food processor, pulsed them until finely ground, and folded them into the frosting.

Wow, that’s some creamy, Oreo deliciousness.

And the finished product doesn’t look too bad either.

A reminder too, that if you don’t have 3 6-inch pans like the cake recipe calls for, use two 8-inch ones.  Your result will still be amazing, just not quite as tall and skinny.

Cookies and Cream Swiss Meringue Buttercream
inspired by Sweetapolita

printer friendly recipe

Yield: ~5 cups

5 large, fresh egg whites (150 g/5 oz)
1 1/4 cups (250 g/9 oz) sugar
3/4 lb (3 sticks/340 g/12 oz) butter, cut into cubes and cool, but not cold
2 teaspoons (10 mL) pure vanilla extract
15 Oreos, finely crushed
pinch of salt

Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice, to remove any trace of grease.

Add egg whites and sugar, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 150°F, or if you don’t have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

With whisk attachment of mixer, begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch (this can take up to 10 minutes or so). *Don’t begin adding butter until the bottom of the bowl feels neutral, and not warm.

Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth). *If mixture is too runny, refrigerate for about 15 minutes and continue mixing with paddle attachment until it comes together.

Add vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.

Add the crushed Oreos, and blend until combined.


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I hate photographing inside with florescent lighting and having to use a flash.


But it’s the best I could do.  By the time the cake was complete the sun was on it’s way down, a one year-old was incessantly pulling on my pant leg and we had to get this creation to the auction.

And that’s where the bad lighting and photographing took place.

So I made this cake for the silent auction/dinner we had at church on Friday.  The winner not only took home the cake, but also four more desserts of their choosing to be delivered once per week for the next month.  I’ve done something like this every year since we’ve been a part of the auction, and it’s always exciting to see who the winner is and what sweet treats I get to create for them.

One of the reasons I like this cake is its size: just six inches in diameter.  So it’s not a huge triple layer cake.  And each of those layers get cut in half so even though it’s a pretty tall cake, it’s still not huge.   If you don’t have six inch cake pans, however, just use two nine-inch pans and increase the baking time a little.

The frosting is amazing.  This was my first attempt at swiss meringue buttercream, and I’m SOLD.

So. incredibly. good.

(and not hard at all.)

While I have not sampled this amazing creation in its ‘sliced,’ fully assembled form, I can report that all of the components: cake, buttercream and glaze are DElicious. I had to sample to make sure the cake was worth auctioning, right?

I made just one adaptation from Sweetapolita’s original creation, replacing the coffee in the chocolate cake for just hot water.  Her awesome post can be found HERE.  And she has a WAY better picture too.

For ease of printing, I have created a printer friendly recipe of all three components of the recipe.

I just finished making a second one for a sweet husband who saw the cake at the auction and ordered one to surprise his wife for Valentine’s Day. I know, time is short, but you can get this made for someone you love!  Try it.

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Quick Vanilla Buttercream

Quick Vanilla Buttercream

printer friendly recipe

3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream or whole milk

In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.

Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream/milk if needed for spreading consistency.

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I was hanging out at my friend Julie’s house the other day as she unpacked her groceries from Costco.  Along with gallons of milk (she’s got 5 boys), dried fruit and a bunch of other stuff that will be devoured in no time, out came a couple racks of ribs.

You see, Julie has got this Mother’s Day thing down.  She buys what she wants to eat for Mother’s Day and then lets her husband and boys do the work.  Everybody wins.  It’s what she likes and saves her husband time in deciding what to make, gathering ingredients and cooking.  Just one of the reasons I think she’s a genius.

So, here’s my question: what do YOU want for dessert on Sunday?

If you’re tempted by the rich combination of peanut butter and chocolate, let me suggest you hit print immediately and leave this winning recipe out for your husband to conquer.  If you’re feeling extra generous, you could even pick up any needed ingredients for your grateful baker.  Let him off easy, though and don’t expect any of the fancy piping.  But if he really loved you…

Happy early Mother’s Day readers! If you need any other dessert inspirations for your spouse or children to whip up for you, check the index for lots of ideas!

Reese’s Cup Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours
printer friendly recipe

For the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled (optional)

For decorating:
1 ½ – 2 batches peanut butter frosting (click on the link)
miniature Reese’s cups, halved and/or chopped

For the cake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350.  Butter two 9-inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess and line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper.  Place the pans on a baking sheet.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy.  Add the sugar and beat for about 2 minutes, until thoroughly blended into the butter.  Add the eggs and yolks one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Beat in the vanilla.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk; add the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the buttermilk in 2 (beginning and ending with the dry ingredients).  Mix each addition only until it is blended into the batter.  Scrape down the bowl and add the melted chocolate, if using, folding it in with a spatula.  Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans.

Bake for 26-30 minutes or until the cakes feel springy to the touch and start to pull away from the sides of the pans.  Transfer to wire racks to cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners.  Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.

To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on cake plate or other serving plate.  Spread peanut butter frosting on top of the cake layer.  (If desired, sprinkle with chopped Reese’s cups.)  Place the second cake layer on top of the frosting.  Frost the top and outside of the cake with remaining peanut butter frosting.  Decorate with halved and chopped Reese’s cups as desired.

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Every year I get excited to make Easter Basket Cupcakes ALMOST like we did as a kid. Back then there weren’t giant muffin tins and the only egg shaped candies besides a Cadbury Creme Egg were jelly beans. Times sure have changed. The Easter candy section at Target alone is out of control with WAY too many choices, which made it hard to decide just how to top this year’s cupcakes. In the end, I settled for a variety.

Easter Basket Cupcakes

Start with a white cake mix and follow the recipe…well mostly. Here are a few cake mix secrets:
1. Replace the water in the recipe for milk, especially whole milk.
2. Add in at least 1 teaspoon of GOOD quality vanilla. And an extra splash (or teaspoon) will only make it better!

Bake the cupcakes according to the directions on the package. If you’re using a large cupcake tin like I did, the baking time is about 20 minutes. I do large cupcakes for my ‘grown up’ friends and the regular sized ones for their kids and other littler folks.
After the cupcakes have cooled completely, make your frosting. (It’s not THAT much work and WAY better than Betty Crocker!)

Here’s the recipe:
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
2 1/2 – 3 cups powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons milk (again, whole milk is best!)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
green food coloring

Combine butter and shortening until smooth and creamy. Add vanilla and almond extract. Add powdered sugar in 1 cup increments until combined. Then add milk and food coloring, mix until smooth and spreading consistency. I like to beat frosting for at least 5 minutes so it’s light and fluffy.Frost the cupcakes with a generous layer. It’s one of the best parts of the treat, after all!

As a kid my mom always put the sweetened coconut in a jar for me to shake. I loved that job! After you put the coconut in a container of your choosing, add a few drops of green food coloring, place the lid on tightly and give it a good shake.
Sorry no exact measurements here about how much coconut or food coloring. But if you don’t make enough or your ‘grass’ just isn’t green enough add a little more! And, if you’re grass is way too green, just add some more coconut and shake, shake, shake.
Now it’s time to add the eggs. Jelly beans seemed to stick a little better when I was a kid. Maybe it’s because they weren’t as heavy as the chocolate ones. Anyway, I like to put just a little frosting on the bottom side of each egg to ‘glue’ the eggs in place. After that, add a white pipe cleaner and you’re done! I’ve also seen these made with the thin ropes of red vines for the handle, but I’m sticking with Hall Family tradition, AND I think I prefer the white handle.
So, if you’ve got kids who need something to do this week, or need a cute little place card for your Easter dinner, this might just be for you. Give it a try and maybe you’ll have a new Easter tradition too!

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I thought I had found the ultimate chocolate frosting recipe when I made THIS cake, but I have to say this recipe is equal in chocolate deliciousness. Different, but definitely a million times delicious.

If you’re looking for a classic chocolate frosting give this one a try. It will remind you of one that you may have made in the past with cocoa, but kicked up to a higher level of chocolate goodness. While the frosting was intended and used for a birthday cake, I did not hesitate to reserve a bit of frosting for myself to make me some graham cracker sandwiches! If you haven’t tried it, you should!

Instant Fudge Frosting
from Sky High Cakes

printer-friendly version

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
4 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 tablespoons half and half
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Using a stand mixer or food processor combine all of the ingredients until the frosting is smooth. Frost the cake and try not to lick your fingers too many times!

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First, a late birthday shout out to my fabulous husband,…and a preview of his cake:

I knew we were meant to be when I learned that his family has a long-time favorite carrot cake recipe just like mine does. They’re surprisingly similar and equally delicious. We probably should have done carrot cake for our wedding, but that darn Freeport Bakery had too many other tempting flavors.  And, truth be told, we’re kind of the carrot cake snob type — quite content with what we know we like (the homemade stuff!) and not really interested in or tempted by any other variety. 🙂  Hey, you might be too after you try this recipe.

The cake was just part of my favorite taste tester’s birthday. Stay tuned for the main course. All I’ll give you now is I learned a new skill — and thankfully the birthday boy’s dinner wasn’t a total failure since I was venturing a bit into the unknown.

This is such a basic, good recipe. It never, I mean never, disappoints. No crushed pineapple, shredded coconut or funky spices, like some of those other varieties. It’s just the basics — all in perfect proportion.

My Family’s Carrot Cake
I made one and a half of this recipe to achieve the three layers. My mom often makes it in a 9 x 13 pan, or you can go with 8- or 9-inch rounds. Lots of possibilities.

printer friendly recipe

2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup oil
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 cups carrots, grated

Heat oven to 350.  Butter two 9-inch cake pans and dust lightly with flour.

Sift the dry ingredients (sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon) into a large bowl.  Add oil, eggs and vanilla.  Beat well.  Fold in grated carrots.

Pour batter into pans. Set on the middle rack of oven and bake for 35 minutes (shift positions of cakes front-to-back if necessary about halfway through), until edges have pulled away from sides and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a cake rack.

Perfect Cream Cheese Frosting:
If you have some left over frosting, get out your graham crackers and make some dessert ‘sandwiches.’ What is it about graham crackers and homemade frosting? A magical flavor combination if you ask me. They even freeze well!

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
8 oz. (1 package) cream cheese, softened
1 pound (that the small box size) powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cream together the cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl. Slowly sift in the confectioners sugar and beat until mixture is free of lumps. Stir in the vanilla.

Once cakes have cooled, frost. Sprinkle the top or sides with chopped walnuts.  You can always toast those walnuts for extra flavor if you think about it ahead of time!

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