Monday, February 20, 2012

Vanilla Layer Cake with Strawberry Filling and Chocolate Frosting

Dreamy.  That is what this chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream is.  Hands down the best chocolate frosting I have ever had.  I found this recipe in a recent Food and Wine edition, and it is everything a decadent frosting should be.  Rich, creamy, silky, absolute perfection.  Even my husband who doesn't care for meringue buttercreams thought it was heavenly.

I used my new favorite vanilla cake recipe from Sweetapolita.  It's super fluffy, moist, and simply delightful.  It's also not overly sweet so it's the perfect compliment in a frosting-heavy cake.  I drizzled pureed strawberries over the strawberry buttercream on each layer to add a bit of flavor since the strawberries at the store are a bit lacking in flavor right now.  There are a few components to this so it isn't something to throw together in a couple of hours, but I made the cake the day before, wrapped it tightly in plastic wrap, and it was still delicious.

Note: the pictures below aren't the same scale as the recipes provided.  I actually split the cake recipe between 3 6-inch cake pans, and the cake I made is using one of those 6-inch cakes cut into 3 layers.  The recipe calls for 2 8-inch pans.  You can really do whatever you want here, just adjust baking times accordingly, and cut into as many layers as you can handle! I also used a half recipe for both buttercreams but provided the full recipe.

Fluffy Vanilla Cake
from Sweetapolita

5 large egg whites (5 ounces) at room temperature
3/4 cup whole milk (180 mL/6 liquid ounces), at room temperature
2 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (12.5 mL)
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour (10 ounces/285 grams–weighed after sifting)
1 3/4 cups sugar (12 ounces)
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder (19.5 grams)
3/4 teaspoon salt (5 grams)
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (6 ounces/170 grams), at room temperature and cut into cubes

1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease, line with parchment, and flour two round 8-inch pans.
2. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir the egg whites, 1/4 cup of milk, and the vanilla. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients together on low speed (I use the “stir” setting on my mixer) for 30 seconds.
4. Add the butter and remaining 1/2 cup of milk, and mix on low speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 90 seconds.
5. Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg mixture in 3 separate batches; beat on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition.
6. Divide the batter in two, spreading it evenly with a small offset palette knife. If you have a kitchen scale, weigh to ensure 2 even layers.
7. Bake 25-35 minutes or until a cake tester comes clean when inserted into the center. Be so careful to not overbake. Check cake at 20 minutes, but not before, and once you feel it’s almost ready, set the timer for 2 minute intervals. Let cool on racks for 10 minutes before loosening the sides with a small metal spatula, and invert onto greased wire racks. Gently turn cakes back up, so the tops are up and cool completely.
8. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days, refrigerator for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 2 months. Best eaten the same day as baked.

 Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
adapted from Martha Stewart

4 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup strawberries pureed in a food processor
In the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine egg whites and sugar. Cook, whisking constantly, until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch (about 160 degrees).
Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg-white mixture on high speed until it holds stiff (but not dry) peaks. Continue beating until the mixture is fluffy and cooled, about 6 minutes.

Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low speed, add butter several tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. (If frosting appears to separate after all the butter has been added, beat on medium-high speed until smooth again, 3 to 5 minutes more.) Beat in vanilla. Beat on lowest speed to eliminate any air bubbles, about 2 minutes. 
Beat in strawberry puree, adding a few spoonfulls at a time until desired strawberry flavor and consistency is achieved.

Rich Chocolate Buttercream
adapted from Food and Wine

1 cup sugar
3 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (9 ounces), cut into tablespoons, at room temperature
4 ounces dark chocolate, melted and cooled

Combine sugar and egg whites in a stainless steel bowl of a stand mixer.  Add salt.. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk gently until the sugar is completely dissolved, 5 minutes.
Transfer the warm egg-white mixture to the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk. Add the vanilla and beat at medium-high speed until stiff and glossy,  and completely cooled, about 8 minutes. Beat in the butter a few pieces at a time, making sure it is fully incorporated before adding more. The buttercream should be light and fluffy; if it appears runny at any time, transfer the bowl to the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes, then return it to the mixer and continue.
Beat in the melted chocolate until fully incorporated, scraping down the side and bottom of the bowl.

If the buttercream appears to be separating or curdling at any point, just keep beating (even for several minutes), it should become fluffy eventually.

Linked to:
Crazy Sweet Tuesday
Tuesday Tutorials 
Tuesday Talent Show 
Sweets for a Saturday 
Strut Your Stuff Saturday 
Sweet Indulgences Sunday

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Train Birthday Cake

First, let me start this post off by saying I have finally found the best vanilla cake recipe in the entire world!!  Thank you Sweetapolita!  It's flavorful, moist, and bakes up like a fluffy dreamy cloud of vanilla deliciousness.  I am in love.  I can't wait to try this recipe as cupcakes.

The cake:  Layers of vanilla cake filled with strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream.  I wasn't sure what type of frosting to use on the outside of the cake.  I actually make the Cake Boss' decorator's buttercream originally.  It goes against my distrust of vegetable shortening, but I wanted a smooth outer frosting.  It was VILE.  Instead I went with my favorite sugary sweet American buttercream from Sweetapolita (have I mentioned I love her?), and while it wasn't completely smooth it turned out pretty good.  

The little birthday boy loved his train cake and that's was the best compliment of all. :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

cream wafers

I have seen lace cookies on various blogs I follow, and I've always thought they look just gorgeous.  I really wanted to try to make some but was so intimidated.  If you feel the same as I did, fear not!  These are seriously ridiculously easy to make, they just take a steady hand (I found resting my elbows on the counter helps) and some patience.

I used my favorite sugar cookie recipe, royal icing,  and the lace cookie tutorial from Sweet Sugar Belle. 


I also gave brush embroidery flowers a try, and I think they turned out alright! Check out this tutorial on Sweet Sugar Belle's website for another great tutorial.

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Linked to:
Mrs Fox's Sweet Party 
Sweet Treats Thursday

Monday, February 13, 2012

Devil's Food Cupcakes with Strawberry Fluff Frosting

I made these for my son's Valentine's playdate for the kids to decorate.  I had wanted to try out the raspberry fluff frosting from Martha.  It has marshmallow creme in it, and that might just be one of my favorite things in the world.  It's so wrong it's right.  I had no raspberry jam on hand so I used strawberry flavoring and a bit of pink food coloring.  It was glorious.  I have a thing for super fluffy desserts, and this frosting is as fluffy as it gets.

I liked the devil's food cupcakes, but my husband said it tastes too much like cake mix (and why go to the effort then) and didn't have enough moist chocolate flavor.  I'll stick to my usual chocolate recipe next time, but this frosting will definitely making a repeat appearance soon.

Devil's Food Cupcakes
slightly adapted from Martha Stewart

3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 cup hot water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup low fat Greek yogurt, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together cocoa and hot water until smooth. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
Melt butter with sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring to combine. Remove from heat, and pour into a mixing bowl. With an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat until mixture is cooled, 4 to 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add vanilla, then cocoa mixture, and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, and beating until just combined after each.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three- quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 15 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

Strawberry Fluff Frosting
adapted from Martha Stewart

1 cup butter, softened
a few drops strawberry flavoring
3 cups marshmallow creme
1/3 cup confectioners sugar
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat 1 cup butter on medium-high until smooth. Add marshmallow topping and confectioners' sugar and beat until fluffy and smooth, 3 minutes. Add flavoring and food coloring and beat until well combined.  Frost as desired. 

Linked to:
Mrs Fox's Sweet Party 
 Sweet Treats Thursday

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Lavender Chocolate Macarons

Now that I'm getting the hang of macaron making, I can't stop thinking of all the tasty combination possibilities.  At Christmas my niece brought us some lovely dark chocolate from the Sunshine Coast that had lavender in it which I thoroughly enjoyed.  So I tried making the macaron shells with ground lavender, and a dark chocolate ganache as the filling.  Yum, perfection.

Even my husband, who doesn't really like macarons, and doesn't like lavender (sheesh) thought these were excellent.  Macarons are incredibly sweet, and the bittersweet chocolate ganache was a perfect compliment.

Lavender Chocolate Macarons

Basic macaron recipe from Brave Tart 

I used her recipe for the shells, grinding up 1 tablespoon of lavender with the almonds.  I found the scent quite strong so I didn't add any additional lavender gel paste.  I did add a few drops of food coloring to get a bit of a purple color

Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache
from Hisako Ogita

3.4 ounces whipping cream
3/5 ounces bittersweet chocolate (or whatever type of chocolate makes you happy, just use high quality), finely chopped

Place chocolate in a medium mixing bowl.  Put whipping cream in a small sauce pan and bring to just a boil.  Pour the heated cream over the chocolate and whisk slowly until completely smooth.  Let it cool completely and harden up a little bit before spreading between macaron shells.

Linked to:
Sweet Indulgences Sunday
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...