Thursday, March 31, 2016

Chocolate Chip Butterscotch Cake

I so badly wanted to show you how to make this cake on Periscope yesterday, but the app was not cooperating and wouldn't load my video. So frustrating! I'll have to try again on the next Milk Bar cake, but just know that the Milk Bar cakes are much easier to make than they look. Yes, they do require some time, but if you plan ahead, it will feel like a breeze.


Layers of chocolate chip cake, butterscotch filling, chocolate cookie crumbs and butterscotch frosting!

Most of the Milk Bar cakes are made with a cake layer, a filling, cookie crumbs and frosting. Because there are so many parts to each cake, I usually make these cakes over the course of a couple days, ending with the frosting the day I actually assemble the cake. You also need to refrigerate overnight, so add that time to your planning as well. I usually like my cakes room temperature, but these cakes are best served a bit chilled. They cut better when chilled too.




Some of the ingredients, like glucose and citric acid, can be hard to find, so plan ahead and start looking for them before baking day. You can find glucose at Joann's or Michael craft stores, but you might have to go to a specialty baking supply store for citric acid.  The hardest thing to find for this cake is the acetate paper. You won't be able to find it at your local craft store. Instead, you'll have to look at a bakery supply store or order some online (like THESE) and have it shipped to your house so you don't have to hunt it down. 


I've made several Milk Bar cakes in the past, including the Birthday Cake, the Apple Pie, and the Pumpkin Pie. I've also created my own Milk Bar-inspired cakes, like the Banana Cream Cake and Chocolate Nutella. This week, I'm making the Birthday Cake again and my version of the Chocolate Chip cake. For the Chocolate Chip cake, I decided to switch out the passion fruit curd for a butterscotch filling and the coffee frosting for a butterscotch frosting. I did use the Milk Bar chocolate chip cake and chocolate cookie crumb recipes. You can find those both here.


I love this combination and am so happy with how it turned out. I hope you like it too!

Chocolate Chip Butterscotch Cake, inspired by Milk Bar

Yield: one 6-inch cake

For the Chocolate Chip Cake, the Chocolate Cookie Crumbs and assembly instructions, refer to the Milk Bar recipe page, HERE. During assembly, just use the butterscotch filling in place of the passion fruit curd and the butterscotch frosting in place of the coffee frosting.

Butterscotch Filling
1 box (3 oz.) instant butterscotch pudding
1 cup cold milk

Mix until there are no clumps. Chill until set.

Butterscotch Frosting
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dulce de leche (I like the Trader Joes brand)

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy, about one minute. Turn the mixer to low and gradually add the powdered sugar and the milk. Beat for a couple minutes, then add the vanilla, salt and dulce de leche until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Carrot Cake with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

Just a couple days away from Easter and I wanted to make sure you're covered with desserts. The strawberry cake from earlier this week would be a great option, but if you want to go the traditional route and make a carrot cake, you've got to try this one. It's the only carrot cake I'll eat. Why, you ask? Because there's no NUTS and no RAISINS, but plenty of flavor and texture thanks to candied ginger and orange zest. 


The cake recipe comes from Sweetapolita, which is originally paired with a white chocolate frosting (super delish and I've done several times before). However, this time around, I thought I'd change things up and try the cake with the honey cream cheese frosting from my Honey Pear Cake. Great pairing!



Orange Ginger Carrot Cake with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting 

Yield: 9" 2-layer cake or 6" 3-layer cake 

Ingredients:

For the Cake (recipe source: Sweetapolita)
5 cups ( 1.25 L) grated carrots
1/2 cups (125 ml) finely chopped crystallized ginger or stem ginger in syrup
1 large orange
2 1/2 cups (625 ml) all-purpose flour
1 tbsp (15 ml) baking powder
1 tsp (5 ml) baking soda
1 tsp (5 ml) salt
1 tsp (5 ml) ground ginger
1 cup (250 ml) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla
2/3 cup (150 ml) milk

For the Honey Cream Cheese Buttercream (adapted from The Cake Blog)
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
6-7 cups confectioners' sugar
6 tablespoons honey

Instructions:

For the Cake
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray or lightly oil two 9-inch round cake pans.
2. Grate carrots using a food processor. Measure out 5 cups. Finely chop ginger. Grate peel from orange. Set each aside separately. Place flour in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with baking powder, baking soda, salt and ginger. Stir until blended. Sprinkle in orange peel while stirring.
3. Place butter in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually beat in sugar, then beat on medium for 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, then vanilla. Don't worry if it seems curdled. Beating on low, gradually add about a third of the flour mixture. Beat until just mixed, followed by half the milk. Repeat additions, ending with flour. Sprinkle chopped ginger and stir to distribute. Stir in carrots.
4. Divide batter between pans. Spread as evenly as possible to side of pans. To remove air pockets, bang pans on counter 5 to 6 times. Bake until centers seem set when lightly tapped, 30-35 minutes (might need to bake longer for the 6" cakes because they're thicker). Place on a baking rack to cool. After about 15 minutes, turn cakes out of pans and cool completely on racks. It's best to bake cakes a day ahead of icing and leave at room temperature overnight.

For the Honey and Cream Cheese Buttercream  
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about three minutes.
2. Gradually add the confectioners' sugar on low speed until it is all combined. Increase speed to medium-high and continue to beat for another 2-3 minutes.
3. Mix in honey.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Strawberry Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Just a few weeks ago, I was out in Dallas for work and had some time to grab lunch with my older brother, who lives in Addison. I end up in Dallas quite a bit for work and Chris always takes me to the yummiest restaurants (Porch, Smoke, and Savor, to name a few) and on this occasion, even took the time to find one of Dallas' best cake shops, The Cake Bar. 




Of course I wanted to order a slice of everything, but narrowed it down to two - chocolate with chocolate frosting and strawberry cake with cream cheese frosting (a customer favorite, I was told). I'm typically a chocolate lover, but this time (to my surprise) I was blown away by the strawberry cake. It was perfection: flavorful and moist... and I just couldn't stop shoveling it into my mouth. I knew immediately that I had to recreate this cake so I could enjoy it at home any time I wanted. 



I've been looking at strawberry cake recipes and reading reviews for each one since I returned home. Based on my research, I knew I wanted to use flavored gelatin powder because it would give the cake an added punch of strawberry flavor that strawberry puree on its own didn't seem to achieve in most recipes. The Cake Bar cake had such a great strawberry flavor, I'm convinced they use the flavored gelatin too. I'd love to find out someday! 




One reviewer also talked about dividing the egg yolks and whites, beating the egg whites to stiff peaks and then folding them in to the batter at the very end. I was very intrigued with this technique, so I gave it a try and was very pleased with the result. The cake turned out super moist and fluffy, not dense like so many other strawberry cakes do. The sifted cake flour also helps to create a light cake.



So, as far as the cake goes, I'm giving it two thumbs up. I'm super happy with how it turned out and will be putting it in my arsenal of cake recipes.

As for the filling, I'll be honest, I didn't nail it. Don't get me wrong, it tastes great (I wouldn't share it if it didn't), but it wasn't quite the same as The Cake Bar filling. I made my filling a bit of a gelatin-like filling with fresh strawberries, but the more I think about it, the more I think The Cake Bar just used diced fresh strawberries. (I desperately need my brother to fly out here with a slice of that cake so I can compare it side by side, taste after taste.) So, try out the filling and let me know what you think. In my opinion, I don't even think the cake needs the filling. I loved the cake and frosting just on their own. I'm curious if you think it's needed or not. 




And a quick note about the frosting - I want to eat it morning, noon and night. It's SO good! It's my go-to cream cheese frosting, based off the one I use for the Honey Pear cake, and I use it with so many cakes - including a dark chocolate wedding cake I just did this past weekend. Yum!



Can't wait to hear what you think!

Strawberry Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Yield: one 3-layer, 8-inch cake or one 2-layer, 9-inch cake

Ingredients:

For the Strawberry Cake
2 cups granulated sugar
1 (3 oz.) package of strawberry flavored Jell-O
1 cup butter, room temperature
4 eggs, yolks and whites divided, room temperature
2 3/4 cups cake flour, sifted before measured
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup strawberry puree, made from frozen sweetened strawberries

For the Strawberry Filling
3 cups chopped fresh strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch

For the Cream Cheese Frosting
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese
5-6 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

(this is enough frosting to use as a filling too, but if you plan to use the strawberry filling, you can half this recipe or save the rest for a batch of cupcakes!)

Instructions:
For the Strawberry Cake
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans or three 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray, then place parchment rounds on the bottom and spray again, followed by a flour dusting.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
3. In another bowl, beat the four egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
4. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar and dry strawberry gelatin until light and fluffy.
5. Add the four egg yolks one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract.
6. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture alternately with the milk and strawberry puree, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Mix until combined.
7. Gently fold in the egg whites until no white streaks are visible.
8. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. I used three 8-inch pans and my cooking time was 22 minutes. Baking time should be between 22-25 minutes for either the 8-inch or 9-inch pans, but make sure to check on your cakes around 22 minutes, inserting a toothpick into the top of the cake (should come out clean or with just a few crumbs) or gently tapping the top of your cake (shouldn't jiggle, but instead, bounce back up when done).
9. Let cool in your pans for 10 minutes and then invert onto wire cooling racks until completely cooled.

For the Strawberry Filling
1. Combine the sugar and corn starch in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until combined.
2. Add the chopped strawberries and stir until the sugar mixture starts to dissolve and the strawberries start to juice.
3. Allow the mixture to come to a boil and start to thicken, about 3 minutes. Then, turn the heat to low and let the mixture simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
4. Pour the mixture into a heat-proof bowl and let cool to room temperature or store, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to use. Can be made ahead of time.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting
1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and cream cheese and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute.
2. With the mixer on low, gradually add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until incorporated. 
3. Keeping the mixer on low, add the cream, vanilla and salt.
4. Turn the mixer to medium-high and beat the frosting for 3-5 minutes, or until it is light in color (almost white) and texture.
5. To remove air bubbles from the frosting, use a wooden spoon to stir and push out the air bubbles. 

When assembling your cake, make sure to pipe a rim of frosting around each layer to protect the filling from oozing out the sides. Additionally, after applying a thin crumb coat, chill the cake for 30 minutes in the refrigerator to set before frosting completely.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Wedding Cakes

Been busy with some wedding cakes lately and thought I'd share some of them...

The Lombardi House in LA - cakes included: vanilla, honey pear and chocolate salted caramel

Salt Lake City - hazelnut cake with mascarpone frosting

Sundance - dark chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting

Finca SLC - vanilla cake with vanilla frosting

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Cutest Little Easter Party

To give us some fun ideas for Easter, my friend Jenni from Tai Pan Trading styled the cutest party for some of the most popular Utah mommy/fashion/lifestyle bloggers and their darling kids. For the event, Jenni asked if I would make my sugar cookies for the kiddos to frost. I also frosted a bunch in white and pink using my favorite vanilla buttercream.

Here's a look at the party and all the fun decorations and treats. You'll find a full list of vendors and attendees at the bottom of this post, all worth finding and following on Insta!!!










CREDITS:

Decorations: @taipantrading

Cupcakes: @cupcake_mama60

Cookies: @cakebycourtney

Felt Balls: @hellomaypole

Styling: @styledbyjenni

Hostess: @kaleymunday

Photographer: @crystalstewartphotography

Attendees: @gparrish, @daniellehdavis_, @brittanymaddux, @robynstew8, @taylergolden


Thursday, March 3, 2016

Churro Cake

Can I just say, yay for March! Seriously, you guys, I'm so glad February is over. It was one of the busiest months I've had in a long time. With all the work travel I was doing and the amount of cake I was baking, it felt a bit overwhelming at times (well, in all honesty, a lot of the time). It was just a little more than I usually pack into a typical four-week period of my life. But, all the travel went smoothly and the cakes turned out great, and at the end of it all, I had an amazing girls' weekend in Santa Ynez, California to celebrate the upcoming nuptials of my best friend of almost 20 years. 

As part of an incredible bachelorette weekend (one that included a gorgeous rental property, a private chef for a night, wine tasting, and lot of laughter and lasting memories), I created a couple new cakes, including this churro cake. 



Our fabulous chef, Josie.

Knowing the chef would be cooking Mexican food for our first night, it seemed like the obvious choice to create Mexican-inspired cakes for dessert. Mandy isn't the chocolate lover I am (I'm not even sure how we became best friends 😉), so I decided on a churro-inspired cake for the bride-to-be and a Mexican hot chocolate cake - because there should always be a chocolate cake around. 

My beautiful bestie

I looked at a few recipes to get some ideas for the churro cake and was actually drawn to the French Toast Cake from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen. I thought the basics of her cake would be perfect to work off of. Her original recipe actually has maple syrup in the cake, frosting and ganache, but I took that out for this cake. (I will, however, have to make her version at some point because you can't go wrong with a maple flavoring. It just wasn't the flavor I wanted in this cake.) 

I loved the flavor and texture of this cake - it's similar to a butter cake with a denser (but moist) texture and then there's an added sweetness to it from the swirls of brown sugar and cinnamon that have been baked into the cake. And then let's talk about the cinnamon chip ganache! That was pure genius!



This was my first visit to the Santa Ynez Valley and I completely fell in love. I mean, how could you not?





Churro Cake (recipe adapted from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen)

Yield: one 6-inch, 3-layer cake

Ingredients

For the Cake 
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup whole milk

For the Frosting
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons heavy cream

For the Cinnamon Chip Ganache
1 cup cinnamon chips
1/2 cup heavy cream


Instructions

For the Cake
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray or butter three 6-inch round cake pans, place parchment rounds in each pan and spray or butter the parchment as well. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Set aside.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
5. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add vanilla.
6. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the flour and milk alternately, starting and ending with the flour mixture and scraping the bowl as needed. Pour 1/6 of the batter in each pan. Divide the cinnamon and brown sugar mixture between the three cakes, sprinkling evenly over the batter, then top with the remaining batter.
7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean or with just a few crumbs. Remember, not all ovens are the same, so check your cakes around 20 minutes and keep an eye on them.
8. Remove cakes from the oven and let cool in pans for about 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.
9. Once cooled completely, wrap each cake layer with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes. This makes leveling and frosting a bit easier.

For the Frosting
1. In the bowl of your mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. 
2. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the powdered sugar. When it's all combined, turn the mixer to medium-high and gradually add the heavy cream. Continue to beat until the frosting is light and fluffy and white in color. Add the vanilla and cinnamon and mix until combined.

For the Cinnamon Chip Ganache
1. Place the cinnamon chips and cream in a microwave safe bowl. Heat in the microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring in between, until the mixture is smooth. Let cool to room temperature using on the cake.

Assembly
1. After leveling the cake layers, place one cake layer, top-side up, and cover with frosting. Place another cake layer on top and cover with frosting. Place the final cake layer, top-side down, and coat the entire cake with a crumb coat.
2. Chill for about 30 minutes before finishing the frosting.
3. Chill again for about 30 minutes and then drizzle or pour the room temperature ganache over the top. Refer to THIS post for tips about the "drip" technique.