Baileys Brownies

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While I’m calling these brownies “Baileys Brownies” for the sake of having an informative title, there’s a real title to the recipe and a story of how my adaptation turned out to have Baileys in it.

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I used a recipe for “Lunch Lady Brownies” as my base. Apparently the recipe originally came from a lunch lady at some elementary school and it got famous somehow. I don’t recall ever eating any cafeteria food for which I’d want to know the recipe, so I remain a tad dubious of the story… but they looked good enough to try regardless! As I was browsing my fridge for ingredients, I glanced our bottle of Baileys, and thought to myself, “yeah, more like DRUNK lunch lady brownies”… and then that actually didn’t sound like a bad idea. Well, a lunch lady found pouring Baileys into the kids’ desserts might get fired, but it seemed like a good idea for our board game night anyhow!

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What do you think — is “Drunk Lunch Lady Brownies” a catchier title?

Baileys Brownies aka Drunk Lunch Lady Brownies

Brownies (9 x 13 pan)

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 oz unsweetened chocolate (can use 1/2 cup total cocoa powder instead)
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  1. In the microwave, melt together the unsweetened chocolate and butter. Transfer to a mixing bowl and stir in the cocoa powder and sugar.
  2. Let the mixture cool slightly, then beat in the eggs, vanilla, and pinch salt.
  3. Slowly add in the flour while continuing to mix without over-beating the batter, which should be thick.
  4. Pour the batter evenly into a sprayed 9×13 pan, and then bake at 350F for about 25 minutes.
  5. Prepare the icing below while brownies cool slightly, but pour the icing on while brownies are still warm.

Icing

  • 1/4 cup (half one stick) unsalted butter
  • 5 Tbsp total milk and Baileys (I did a little over half with Baileys, but you can adjust ratio to your preference to make more or less alcoholic)
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, plus more for adjusting thickness
  1. Beat together all ingredients, adjusting the Baileys/milk ratio to preference, and then pour evenly over the brownies while they are still warm.
  2. Add sprinkles, let the icing set, and then enjoy!

Just don’t let the kids get ahold of these treats!

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Adult brownies have extra sprinkles on them!

Posted in Alcohol, Baileys, Bars, Brownies, Chocolate, Dessert, Drinks | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Portal Cake

I’m really proud of the fact that I beat both Portal games, thanks to my brother’s help at parts. I think I enjoyed that game partially due to the fact that nothing chases you. For some reason I have real issues with being chased, either in games or real life. Tag was not something I liked to participate in as a kid, and sadly, neither was Pacman… Despite that hindrance, I really do like video games, and Portal has the added bonus of a cool end credits song and an awesome cake for bakers like me to imitate!

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There’s no sense crying over every mistake, you just keep on trying til you run out of cake

Even though Portal has been out for a long time and this cake is not exactly a novel idea, I was super excited to make it for my friend’s birthday this past weekend on his request. Cakes are bigger projects that I love doing, but I really need a good excuse to spend that much time or money on ingredients and prep. It might not be that feasible to run a bakery out of my apartment kitchen as a student now, but I’m really enamored with the idea of being a baker on the side.

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For this cake, I actually used the same recipe for the cake and filling as for my own birthday cake in June — chocolate cake with cookie dough filling! The frosting was mostly the same as well, but I reserved some vanilla before adding the cocoa powder, and made it more chocolatey than my own cake’s frosting. I also got to learn how to shave chocolate, which I imagine would be the first job I give my plebe minimum wage workers if I had a bakery. It’s not difficult work, but taking a vegetable peeler to a frozen chocolate bar for like an hour isn’t exactly that thrilling. Getting the chocolate shavings onto the cake perfectly was a little tricky — I scooped up some shavings with a flat spatula and quickly smacked it onto the side of the cake (do it less violently than I make that sound). This can cause the shavings to get smaller or lose their shape, but it helped that I froze them a bit. The top of the cake was easier as I just sprinkled them on.

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This birthday was also the first time I’ve gone bar-hopping down the infamous avenue near my college. Let me tell you, we saw some things. The world looks different after 2am. It’s a circus out there when hungry drunk people are roaming about the streets.

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Cannoli Crêpes

Crêpes are one of those fancy foods that seem so much harder than they actually are to make. The first time I made them was with my brother back when he was in college and I was either in junior high or high school. Over his breaks when he’d be home, we would sometimes stay up really late and bake things together and have to go to Walmart at midnight for a bag of chocolate chips. One time, we Googled how to make crêpes and went out for a jar of Nutella to fill them with.

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I made these crêpes for my boyfriend’s birthday breakfast. Originally they were just going to have banana slices in them (which I still stuck in there as you might see in that picture), but then I got creative and I got the idea to mix up some cannoli-ish filling for them since I had ricotta cheese on hand. My ancestors come from all over Europe, and one of those places is Italy. I express my Italian descent by my deep appreciation for ricotta cheese and my desire, nay, need to feed everyone that comes to my house. Or maybe that’s the hospitable Polish person in me…

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Crêpes are only less convenient than pancakes because you can’t make them on a griddle. But I think they are definitely worth it every once in a while! This recipe makes about 20 5-inch crêpes, or less if you use a larger round pan. If you have leftovers or if you’re making them ahead, stack them with waxed paper or plastic wrap in between the crêpes and either freeze or refrigerate them for smaller times. They are best reheated in the skillet with some oil or butter again, but you can microwave for a short time if you must.

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He was turning 21, so he used my French plate with the wines on it. 🙂 

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Chocolate was definitely going to be involved for my boyfriend, and that worked perfectly for cannolis. 

Cannoli Crêpes

Crêpes

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter or neutral oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add in the milk, melted and cooled butter, vanilla, and eggs. Use a whisk to combine and beat until all smooth.
  2. Butter or spray a small round pan with oil and heat to medium heat. Reapply butter or oil between crêpes as needed.
  3. For each crêpe, add a little less than 1/4 cup of batter into the pan. Immediately tilt and turn the pan so the batter spreads in a thin layer around the whole bottom of the pan. Cook for 30- 60 seconds, until bubbling, then flip the crêpe.

Cannoli Filling

  • 1 cup skim or whole ricotta
  • 2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp. mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • melted chocolate and/or fruit for extra toppings
  1. Combine first 3 ingredients together in a small bowl and mix well with a fork. Then stir in chocolate chips.
  2. Add 1- 2 Tbsp. of the filling to each crêpe.
  3. Add fruit fillings, such as strawberries or bananas, if desired. You may also drizzle rolled crêpes with melted chocolate or top with powdered sugar.

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Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

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Is it cookie? Is it cake? #identitycrisis

My 2nd favorite person celebrated his birthday yesterday! It might seem harsh that I call my boyfriend my 2nd favorite person, but we’ve actually mutually agreed to be our own favorite people. You gotta watch out for yourself too, you know! But anyway, being a baker, it’s to be expected that the special people in my life will be getting treats for their birthdays. He didn’t give me a specific kind of dessert to make, so I found a compromise with this cookie cake based off of a recipe from Life, Love, & Sugar.

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New/old stand mixer! 

Since my last post, I’ve become the proud owner of a KitchenAid stand mixer! I’ve always felt that I can create all kinds of foods with just a hand mixer or just a spoon and a good arm workout, and that people don’t have to spend a lot of money on equipment to cook amazing foods. However, this stand mixer is actually really special because it belonged to my grandma, who passed away about 10 years ago. Just a few weeks ago, my grandpa passed this along to me. I’ve been using it a lot, but I’m still adjusting to having less work for my hands to do! I was/am really skilled at multitasking with a handmixer; I felt like I had about 4 hands just by how much I could do at once! Now, I feel a bit like Marshall from HIMYM or Ricky Bobby:

Can’t really complain about having my hands free though!

Free to sneak some frosting!

Free to sneak some frosting!

My boyfriend is really great at finding free food. It’s a serious skill. A sport, even. For birthdays, it’s his tradition, and now ours, to go around to places that have free deals for people on their birthday. So yesterday, though we started off with a special crêpes breakfast at home (I’ll be posting that recipe soon too!), we then went on our route to Krispy Kreme, gelato, Firehouse Subs, and some other local restaurants. It was quite the busy day, ending with this dessert later last night.

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Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

Cookie Cake (2 9-inch layers)

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter at room temp
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs at room temp
  • 3 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup mint chips (I used Andes peppermint crunch)
  1. Cream butter and both sugars together about 3 minutes until fluffy.
  2. Add in the extracts and eggs and continue mixing.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (except chips). With the mixer at a lower speed, slowly add the dry mix to the wet ingredients until all incorporated.
  4. Mix in the chips by hand with a spoon or spatula.
  5. Spray or butter 2 8- or 9-inch cake pans. Place parchment paper in them for extra protection from sticking. (Instead of parchment, I use one paper wrapper from the butter sticks in the bottom of each cake pan.)
  6. Divide the dough between the 2 pans and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  7. Bake the cookie cake for about 20 minutes at 350 F. The edges should be slightly brown, and you can test the middle with a toothpick.
  8. Cool the cookie cakes in the pan before removing to a plate or cooling rack to decorate or consume.

Mint Chocolate Buttercream

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, soft but still slightly cool
  • 1/2 cup shortening (I use butter-flavored)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • pinch salt
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1- 2 Tbsp. milk or cream
  1. Before starting, put the mixing bowl in the fridge until cool, especially if your kitchen is quite warm. This will help the frosting to hold together better.
  2. Beat the butter and shortening together about 3 minutes until fluffy.
  3. Add in the cocoa powder and pinch salt and mix until combined.
  4. Slowly add and mix in the powdered sugar at about 1/2 cup at a time. More can always be added for a stiffer, sweeter result.
  5. Mix in the extracts and 1 Tbsp. milk. More can be added if frosting is too thick.
  6. Taste and feel the consistency of the frosting and add either more milk or more powdered sugar if necessary.
  7. Decorate the cookie cakes when completely cool. Add sprinkles or extra chips to the center of the cakes if wanted.

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It might depend on your climate or oven, but my cookie cakes rose along the edges. To make it easier to decorate, I used a sharp paring knife to slice that risen edge off (and saved the cookie bits for my boyfriend to snack on!).

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Enjoy the recipe! Tonight we are continuing the celebrations by going to a 1920s murder mystery dinner theatre event! Wish us luck — I sure hope we aren’t the prime suspects 😉

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Toasted Coconut Buttermilk Waffles

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The thing about me is that I love breakfast so much but breakfast happens in the morning… And morning is so, just, there. I mean, it’s bright and early and all I can do is blink slowly at it until my brain rolls out of its own metaphorical bed, or maybe until I can manage a cup of coffee. Despite my inability to function as quickly in the morning, I am a strong believer of starting the day with a good meal! If I sleepily shatter a glass container of hot sauce on the floor or if a few eggs roll off the counter in the pursuit of eating at so early an hour, so be it. (very sad true stories, guys).

SONY DSCI do miss the Belgian style waffle maker from my mom’s house, but I’m really happy to have moved in with Boyfriend, who happened to own this (and a toaster!! I’m a lucky gal). The first few times I used it, the waffles came out kind of floppy with some square indents on them. It was kind of depressing. But since then, I’ve managed to alter my recipes to help this basic waffle maker produce some fine, crispy on the outside, puffy on the inside, waffles!

SONY DSCI think the trouble with waffle makers like this is that they may not heat up as much or as fast as the fancier kinds. So I let it heat up longer before beginning (longer than it takes for the green “go” light to go on) and I also leave the waffles in for a few extra minutes past when the waffle maker says it’s ready. Just keep watching it to make sure it doesn’t brown too much! I also reduce the amounts of some of the moisture-contributing ingredients so the waffles can be a little firmer. The first ones I made with this machine had a lot of pumpkin in them and they were quite floppy and sad (though still yummy).

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Toasted Coconut Buttermilk Waffles

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour (I used white wheat)
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil (even if it’s already melted, microwave it until it is warm so it doesn’t solidify when it touches the cold ingredients)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. coconut extract (use vanilla if unavailable)
  • 1 cup toasted shredded coconut, reserving a few tablespoons for topping
  1. Heat the waffle iron. If it is not nonstick, it will need to be greased before cooking each waffle.
  2. Beat the eggs with a whisk in a large mixing bowl. Beat in the remaining ingredients with a spoon or the whisk until mostly smooth. It should be a consistency much thicker than cake batter, slightly less thick than a cookie dough.
  3. Pour about 1/4 cup to 3/4 cup batter at a time into the waffle iron, depending on the size of your iron.
  4. Cook each waffle about 5 minutes. Check on it after the iron’s light goes off and keep cooking if necessary.
  5. Top waffles with yogurt, bananas, almonds, leftover toasted coconut, or other toppings.

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 I know it’s hard to function in the morning, but waffles are worth it.

Posted in Breakfast, Waffles | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Chewy Cinnamon Chocolate Layer Bars

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Powdered sugar improves everything! 

I’ve been on hiatus for a few weeks, but I’m back! My two summer classes were really kicking my butt (don’t worry though — I got the grades I wanted), and I went from studying biochemistry structures and reactions and cellular components to packing up all my belongings for a move. I have a LOT of stuff. Especially kitchen things and clothes. What a girl, amiright? Anyway, since everything has pretty much settled into its place in my new place, I figured it was time to whip that oven into shape and bake something for my new roomie and my number 1 taste-tester — my boyfriend.

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Dat damask.

While Boyfriend was finishing up at work, I set to work on these so the apartment would smell amazing. I was thinking about how realtors have cookies fresh out of the oven for open houses to help sell, and how furniture stores broil cinnamon in the oven to do kinda the same thing. So I figured I’d combine the two! The recipe is based on one of his family’s!

Chewy Cinnamon Chocolate Layer Bars 

Crust:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened but still cold
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and grease a 9×13 pan.
  2. Mix together the brown sugar and flour. Then cut in the butter and work it in with two forks or your hands until the mixture has a consistency like pie crust. Press it evenly into the pan.
  3. Bake the crust by itself until slightly browned, about 10 minutes. While this is baking, mix the batter:
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 beaten large eggs
  • 1 cup chocolate chips + 1 cup cinnamon chips
  1. Mix all batter ingredients together with a spoon, stirring in the chocolate and cinnamon chips last. (To make regular chewy chocolate layer bars, use just 2 cups chocolate chips and omit the cinnamon in the crust).
  2. Pour the batter mixture over the baked bottom crust and lightly smooth it so that it is even.
  3. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 20- 25 minutes.
  4. Once the bars have cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

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When you first pour the batter over the crust, it’s going to look a little interesting FYI. Don’t panic — the batter will form a flaky crust over the melty chewy caramely cinnamon chocolate layer. It will be awesome.

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The powdered sugar layer hides any imperfections. 

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Dessert for two~

So this is what Boyfriend came home to the other day. If I could add a third major to my college education, I would add housewifery. I think I’d be good at it somehow.

Oh and speaking of my majors, happy Bastille Day to any Francophones or Francophiles out there! One day I will master the macaron or pain au chocolat for you all!

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21st Birthday: Cookie Dough Stuffed Chocolate Cake with Rose Buttercream

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21 year-olds can still be princesses, okay?

How many people can say they made NO bad decisions on their 21st birthday?

Well I for one feel really good about how I spent my birthday yesterday! The food, the drinks, the people were all really special, and I’m glad I had a day to celebrate before my upcoming week of summer school finals!

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I hope this cake that I am so proud of makes up for not posting a dessert last week! Honestly, I don’t know that I have any devoted-enough followers yet that anyone noticed I skipped a week, but oh well!

For someone who runs a baking blog, I actually haven’t decorated many layer cakes (this is my second one ever!!!). Having a smaller family, I guess I never really got the chance, and plus, I didn’t grow up with a baking family either. Desserts, themed ones of course,  were often purchased for parties and such. However I really really love cake decorating and I was super excited to make my own cake this year! I was like 100x more excited to make this cake than I was about going drinking. Typical 21 year-old, amiright?

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My birthday celebrations sort of started last week actually. My boyfriend’s mother was so kind as to dedicate family night to my birthday — she made a German chocolate cake for me (so good, and I wish I had a picture to share!!) and I was the lucky recipient of a Wilton decorating tip set which I was so happy to use for decorating my own cake! I’m not an expert at this by any means, but I will share some tips from my experience.

SONY DSCIt seemed like there was so much to do, so I made a little checklist for the order that I should bake or mix things up so I wouldn’t get overwhelmed. These aren’t that detailed, but it sure helped me to get organized:

  1. Bake cakes. Let cool in pan 10 minutes, then place parchment side down on cooling rack.
  2. Cool cakes in fridge before leveling. Wrap them in plastic. Cool in fridge until cakes feel firm.
  3. Level and torte cakes if possible (I didn’t end up doing either — my cakes came out very flat anyway, and I didn’t want to risk torting since the cake was so soft). Prepare a simple syrup and wash the cakes lightly with it. Put cakes in fridge again, wrapped.
  4. Prepare buttercream and filling. Put 4 parchment slips around cake board to make cleanup easier after frosting (I actually forgot to do this and everything was fine).
  5. Put smear of buttercream on cake board middle to stick the first layer to. Place the first layer down.
  6. Pipe a buttercream dam around layer to hold the filling, and then put down an even layer of filling inside. Stack the second layer on top. Refrigerate again if needed. Do the crumb coat, then cool in fridge until the crumb coat is stiff.
  7. Finish frosting the cake and decorate!!

SONY DSCThe filling I chose was a chocolate chip cookie dough (with no eggs), because birthdays, especially the big 21, are supposed to be excessive, right? This filling was such a good choice. I will put links to all recipes I used down below, as well as my own recipes/instructions for the simple syrup and buttercream.

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SONY DSCEvery time I was procrastinating from summer school studying in the past two weeks, I was watching cake decorating videos and reading recipes and tips online preparing for this baking adventure! It’s good my classes are almost over because now I don’t have another good excuse not to study. And yes, cake was an excellent excuse.

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My precious cake baby.

I really am extraordinarily proud of myself for this thing. All my friends loved it even though they were pretty sure they were developing diabetes on the spot. I shared a piece with the server at the restaurant and he said it tasted better than his mom’s homemade cake (seriously, getting someone to say a dessert as nostalgic as birthday cake is better than mom’s is like the best compliment ever!! Sorry Bearded Server’s Mom!). He gave me his email so I can make him a birthday cake that he’ll pay for. You know ladies (or gentlemen), if you want to pick up a guy at a bar, just bring in a massive delicious cake and hand out slices and you’ll be getting contact info in no time. 😉 It was actually kind of weird when that happened. I was like, “Boyfriend! I totally didn’t mean to solicit that guy’s contact information! Did I just accidentally hit on him? I just want to give people cake!!!”

SONY DSC SONY DSCWith not much left today, the cake may not look so pretty anymore but it’s still so so yummy. Here’s some recipe links:

Chocolate Cake: Sally’s Baking Addiction Triple Chocolate Layer Cake

Cookie Dough Filling: EAT.DRINK.LOVE’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cake

Simple Syrup

  1. Place sugar and water in a 1:1 ratio in a small pot. For this cake, 1/2 cup each was more than enough with leftovers.
  2. Place the pot on medium heat and let simmer about 3 minutes. Then cover and take off heat to cool.
  3. Once the syrup has cooled, you can stir in different extracts, liquors, or other flavorings. I added a few drops vanilla extract and almond extract. Store in the fridge when not in use.
  4. To moisten cake, use either a pastry brush or plastic squeeze bottle. Either way, be sure not to over-apply the syrup or the cake will be mushy. Apply a few drops of syrup before storing the cake in the fridge or freezer, or just before frosting.

Light Cocoa Buttercream in Mauve

This buttercream was enough to frost a 2 layer cake, or 2 dozen cupcakes. Measurements of powdered sugar are approximate, as I add to taste and and to consistency. I don’t have exact measurements for the color, but I used Wilton Red-Red and Violet gel Icing Colors.

  1. Whip 1 1/4 cup unsalted butter and 1 cup shortening (I used butter-flavored) with a hand mixer for 3 minutes, until butter is lighter and more airy. All butter or all shortening can be used, or in any combination, depending on your preference. I wanted the butter for taste, and the shortening for better stiffness in this hot weather.
  2. Add in 2 tsp. vanilla extract (I used a vanilla bean paste) and 1/2 tsp. salt and continue to mix until combined.
  3. Slowly add in powdered sugar about 1 cup at a time until desired consistency and sweetness is reached. I used approximately 7 1/2 cups. It’s alright if it seems too dry at this point, since milk or cream will be added to thin as desired.
  4. To deepen the color of my buttercream, and for the taste, I added about 1/4 cup cocoa powder (Hershey’s Dark). This made the beautiful mauve color possible here, and I also used it for my Dany’s Dragon Egg Cupcakes. Adding a small amount of cocoa gives almost a red velvet taste since there’s a detectable combination of chocolate and vanilla flavors.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix 3 Tbsp. cornstarch with 3 Tbsp. milk or cream. The cornstarch is optional, but helps stabilize the buttercream for hot/humid weather. Add this mixture, or plain milk or cream, to the buttercream and beat in. More can be added if the buttercream needs to be more thin.
  6. Once desired consistency is reached, color can be added at this point, or the buttercream can be used. If liquid color is used, it changes the consistency, so extra powdered sugar may be needed to compensate. Gel colors combine more easily, and don’t change the consistency for the most part. To use gel colors, dab a toothpick into the color, then apply it to the buttercream. Use a new toothpick each time so that the color is not contaminated.

Jenni's 1st birthday!

Sadly, I did not make my 1st birthday smash cake above, but I totally could have if someone would have just trusted me with the hand mixer already. I could have been a pastry prodigy by now!!

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Here I am internet! If you read this far, you get to see what I look like!

I was so so happy with how this cake turned out for basically my first go at real cake decorating. I had a lovely time out with good friends, and received lots of compliments on this beauty. I’m glad I got to share a piece of this happiness with all of you!

Cake

Posted in Cake, Chocolate, Dessert | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment