Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘cake’

We make towering cakes, slather them with frosting and poke long wax sticks in the top.

We sing “Happy Birthday” off pitch.

They blow out the candles…

…making sure not to leave one burning so the aunts and uncles won’t tease them about having a girlfriend.

We slice the cake, revealing mammoth layers of soft chocolate and lip smacking frosting.

Everyone leaves and it’s time to clean up the mess. But why is it so hard for us to throw out the candles? Is it because they were only lit long enough to sing one rendition of “Happy Birthday” before the smoke drifted through the kitchen?

Or does it make us sad to see our babies getting older and we’re overcome with nostalgia? Are we afraid we’ll lose the memories of each party, each balloon, each cake, each smile, each celebration?

Or are we afraid they will forget?

Sweet and burning wishes,

Staci

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

It’s nothing really. I just had a few extra pink cake layers. And you know what they say—when life hands you cake, make balls.

I’m not a cake decorator. So when people ask me to make cake for their special occasions, I refer them to Jamiecakes or Hy-Vee. But once in a while Jamiecakes can’t take anymore orders and I say yes to making a reveal cake for a family friend. The ultrasound was in the morning and they wanted the cake that night so I knew I needed to be ready with pink cake layers and blue cake layers because I wouldn’t have time during the day to bake.

It’s a boy! Which is why I had extra pink cake layers in my freezer, taking up valuable space that could be used for mocha cakes from Flandreau Bakery or cheesecakes. I was going to throw them out but I decided to tear them up, stir in a bunch of vanilla frosting, and make cake pops. It wasn’t as irritatingly tedious as I thought it would be. Although, I had intentions of actually making pops that weren’t upside down but I started the dipping process and realized I forgot to bring in a piece of styrofoam to hold them upright to dry. Oh well, I don’t think the gravity changed the flavor.

My daughter and I each ate one and we gave the rest away in random, special deliveries. I don’t have a specific recipe for cake balls. But this is what I did and how you can do it:

Cake Balls or Pops 

pre-made cake

one or two canisters of vanilla frosting

2 or more bags of Wilton pink candy melts

sprinkles

cake pop sticks

piece of styrofoam if you want the pops to be upright

  1. Line a pan that will fit in your freezer with wax paper to set the balls on.
  2. Crumble two 9-inch cake layers into a bowl (mine were homemade cakes but you could simply bake a box cake and use the entire cake – you don’t need layers, just cake to break up).
  3. Stir in at least one can of vanilla frosting (I used one and a half cans but it really depends on how much cake you have). You want this to be creamy, almost more frosting than cake really.
  4. Shape into balls, smaller than a golf ball but larger than a marble. Place on wax paper and set pan in freezer for approximately 15 minutes.
  5. Melt candy melts over low heat.
  6. Dip a stick into the candy melts, covering about one-fourth of the stick, and insert into semi frozen cake pop. Set pops on pan and put back in the freezer until fully frozen, at least 30 minutes. Keep candy melts warm. Add a few drops of vegetable oil to the candy melts to thin it out a little for dipping.
  7. Once cake balls are frozen, gently dip once into candy melts, fully covering the ball and letting excess drip off. Scatter sprinkles onto ball and place back on pan or insert upright into a piece of styrofoam (do a good job of tapping off excess). You’ll want to work this process quickly because once the balls start to defrost, they’ll fall off the stick when you are dipping.
  8. Let cool and set. Best eaten at room temperature. Can be stored in the freezer or refrigerator.

*****

Sweet wishes,

Staci

 

Read Full Post »

There is no better fall smell than filling your home with the comforting scent of spicy pumpkin, especially when the cozy aroma wafts from your oven, not a candle or an outlet. Before your house smells like turkey and scorched potatoes, start your Thanksgiving festivities with pumpkin streusel coffee cake.

A few years ago I baked this cake to celebrate a coworker’s birthday. After I got strange looks from people that morning, I found out I was supposed to have brought treats the day before; but once we sliced into the soft, warm-in-the-middle cake, they quickly forgave me. See, look at those beautiful, forgiving smiles.

The recipe is from VeryBestBaking.com., a website on which I have a recipe box overflowing with homestyle goodness. But here’s what sends it over the top — instead of using plain nuts in the streusel, I tossed in Praline Pumpkin Seed Crunch from King Arthur Flour. I don’t think they sell it anymore, but you could use any praline nuts like pecans or cashews and crush them up.

Cozy cake wishes,
Staci 

Read Full Post »

I got an F in art in middle school and I avoided the subject in high school. As an adult and a mother, I realized I liked buying scrapbooking materials but I never actually scrapbooked. I’m not much of an interior decorator either. Mostly I just slap my framed black and white photography in the hallways and call it good.

So why in the world I thought I could create delicately adorned petits fours is beyond me. But when my friend Ann asked if I could make them for her stepdaughter’s wedding I said, “Sure, I’ll give them a try.”

imperfect petit fours

To see what petits fours [that you’d actually want to serve at your wedding] look like, check these out on Pinterest.

mess of petit fours

Maybe my confidence and enthusiasm came from the experience I’ve gained making hundreds, actually thousands, of baby cheesecakes like Key Lime Cheesecake with Patrón Sauce, Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake, and Deepest Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Honey Ganache.

A few things I learned in this process:

  • Making sheet cakes and cutting 1-inch by 1-inch squares with a knife just doesn’t work. They are too small to handle the weight of stacked layers covered with fondant, which turns them into leaning and tumbling towers of petits fours. Use a small round or square biscuit cutter instead.
  • It takes a lot more pourable fondant to smoothly cover each petit four than what you’d think. A lot.
  • Petits fours are remarkably more time-consuming to make and assemble than baby cheesecakes.

If you are up to the petit four challenge, these are the websites I used to get me though the trial and error process. Golden Vanilla Cake from King Arthur Flour – a cake that I would definitely bake again because of its full vanilla flavor and soft texture. I used seedless raspberry jam for the vanilla petit four layers.

For the chocolate petits fours, I baked my Heavenly Chocolate Cake and made the Whipped Chocolate Cream layer in these Chocolate Pomegranate Petits Fours from A Spicy Perspective.

For the icing on both the vanilla and chocolate cakes, I made White Chocolate Poured Fondant Icing from King Arthur Flour and used the tips in their their article, “Pointed pinkies only, please: petits fours with poured fondant icing.”

Although the square blobs of cake were a fail in the context of serving them at a wedding, they tasted fabulous. Maybe the bride will come around to offering her guests adorable little cheesecakes instead. Dun dun daadun, dun dun daadun…

Read Full Post »

Remember that double chocolate pumpkin cake you made a few years ago? The one with pumpkin buttercream frosting so good you ate the bottom first just to save the best for last?

double chocolate cake with pumpkin buttercream

This time, do yourself a favor and save the recipe in your online recipe box, email it to yourself, or better yet print it and tape it inside your cupboard door. Because you WILL be looking for it again. Double Chocolate Pumpkin Cake with Pumpkin Spice Buttercream from Picky Palate

In addition to the cinnamon, I added a few scrapes of fresh nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice to the buttercream frosting. As stated in the recipe, you can make two 9×5 cake loaves, 24 cupcakes, or two 9-inch round cakes. I made eight mini loaves and two medium cake loaves. There’s plenty of frosting so smear it on thick like a redhead with a bottle of sunscreen.

Sweet fall wishes,
Staci

Read Full Post »

Each spring, thankfully after the kids’ hockey season, I get busy with a few catering gigs. I’ve been fortunate to create desserts for the Fire & Ice gala in April and a few graduation and birthday celebrations in May. This year, in addition to my signature cheesecakes, I was asked to bake almond tortes for a graduation party using a family’s special recipe.

Almond torte | Random Sweetness Baking

Since I had no idea what a torte was, I told the host I would give the recipe a try. I baked one and gave her a few slices to see if I had done it right. I wasn’t sure if the way I made it would live up to the way her friend makes them. But I knew from the moment the warm scent of this almond dessert floated through my kitchen, I would be pulling this cake from my oven many times to come.

Unlike cake, I’d describe the texture of this torte to resemble a dense blondie or brownie. It’s like a soft almond butter cookie dough center with a delicate crunch of slivered almonds and white sugar sprinkled on the top. You have to tip your head back if you eat this without a fork because the almonds trickle off the top.

I had to finish a bag of regular slivered almonds for this batch, but next time I’m using my Trader Joe’s honey roasted slivered almonds.

Did I make them for her graduation party? As we (don’t) really say in Minnesota – you betcha I did. Eight of them. With the hope of extras for their lake home freezer.

Almond Torte

Torte

1-1/2 sticks (12 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

1-1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs beaten

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons pure almond extract

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Topping

2 teaspoons sugar

2 Tablespoons slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat butter 2-3 minutes until creamy. Add sugar and beat 4-5 minutes until fluffy. Mix in the beaten eggs. Add the salt, almond extract and vanilla extract. Beat on high until combined.

Slowly add the flour, beating until combined and the batter is thick.

Line the bottom of an 8-inch or 9-inch round pan (I use my springform) with parchment paper (cut a circle just large enough to lay on the bottom of the pan by flipping the pan upside down and cutting the paper around the bottom surface). Lightly spray the pan.

Pour the torte batter into the prepared pan. Scatter the almonds on top and sprinkle with the sugar. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or just until the top becomes light brown and crispy.

Cool completely before slicing and serving. Store in an airtight container up to 4 days. Can wrap tightly in freezer paper or bags and freeze up to 3 months.

Read Full Post »

It’s time for us to try another family’s favorite recipe. It might mean stepping out of our chocolate cake comfort zone because if you’re like me, you have your own favorite way of making chocolate cake and cupcakes. And your favorite frosting.

moist chocolate cake with lots of fudge frosting

Since I’m not much of a cake eater anyway, the only one I make is heavenly chocolate cake with snow frosting. It has Miracle Whip in it which keeps the cake nice and moist. My favorite frosting is the white, sticky, marshmallow-like frosting that we call snow frosting (you may know it as 7-minute frosting). But last fall at the Minnesota Blogger Conference, my friend Michelle shared with me her recipe for margarita cupcakes and we got to talking about chocolate cake. She told me that her family’s favorite is a chocolate cake that she makes with sour cream. The dense, fudgy frosting is her favorite part.

In the picture below, I baked a dozen in my tiny tart pan and piled three into a cupcake tower topped with shaved white chocolate and mini chocolate chips.

chocolate cake made in tiny tart pans

I was skeptical. Everyone thinks their chocolate cake is the moistest — kind of like how every fisherman thinks he guts and debones a fish better than anyone and that there are “no bones in fish that he cooks” but there are always bones. (My dislike for bones is reflected in Buffalo chicken dip for people who don’t like bones or blue cheese.)

The cupcakes were a hit! I brought them along on our Easter weekend to Minneapolis and the kids (and moms) ate them up. I actually liked the frosting better the second day so it was a perfect treat to bake and frost the day before we left. Thank you, Michelle Hals, for sharing your family favorite with us.

Cupcakes in the city

Chocolate cake with fudge frosting

4 oz. unsweetened chocolate (4 one-ounce squares)
1/4 cup butter
1-2/3 cups boiling water
2-1/3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a small saucepan over low heat melt chocolate, butter, and boiling water. Stir until melted and smooth. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.

In a small mixing bowl, beat eggs with a whisk and then whisk in the sour cream and vanilla until smooth.

Slowly add the melted chocolate mixture to the dry ingredient mixture. Stir until combined.

Now add the egg mixture to the cake batter and stir until silky smooth.

Pour into a 9×13-inch cake pan and bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes. You can also make two round cakes (bake for 35-40 minutes) or approximately 2-1/2 dozen regular cupcakes (bake 25 minutes).

The frosting is extremely generous so go crazy especially on the cupcakes!

FROSTING
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
1 (12-oz.) package semi sweet chocolate chips, melted
2-3 tablespoons milk

Over low heat, melt the chocolate chips. Set aside to cool slightly.

Beat shortening and butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Add vanilla. One cup at a time, add the powdered sugar. Once the chocolate is cooled a little (just make sure it’s not hot), pour into the frosting mixture. Add milk as needed to get to your desired spreading consistency. Frost the completely cooled cakes or cupcakes.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: