Yummy Vegan Cake!

vegan vanilla cake 

I was “challenged” by my husband’s friend Andrea to make a vegan cake. I have to say the idea of making a cake without butter, eggs, sour cream or milk was extremely daunting. However, after a little research I found a recipe that seemed doable and also sounded tasty…so off I went on my vegan adventure. This recipe is a vegan variation of the White Almond Sour Cream cake I use as my go to cake recipe.

Vegan Vanilla Cake: This recipe is from Madchen on CakeCentral.com
1 cup soy butter (Earth Balance is best)
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup soy milk (or rice milk)
1/2 cup vegan sour cream (tofutti is vegan, look for non-hydrogenated)
9 tsp Ener-G egg replacer powder
12 Tbsp warm water.

Instructions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. The original recipe says 350 degrees but I bake everything at 325. Prepare pans, I used my homemade cake release (yes it’s vegan). In mixer, cream soy butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 7 – 8 min. In separate bowl, mix egg replacer and warm water. Beat until frothy. Add to butter/sugar mixture then beat in vanilla.
Mix flour with baking powder and salt in separate bowl.
Add the dry mixture to creamed mixture alternately with soy milk and “sour cream”. Begin and end with dry.
Spoon into pans. Bake for approx. 25 – 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
** Please don’t over mix the batter… which is very bad for vegan baking. **

This recipe made 2 6 inch layers plus 10 cupcakes.

When I made this cake, I had purchased the Silk French Vanilla Coffee creamer for making the buttercream so I replaced the soymilk with the Silk coffee creamer in the cake recipe. One pint was enough for the cake and the buttercream.  The French Vanilla coffee creamer made the cake a little extra sweet but I didn’t get any complaints:)

Where to find soy milk, soy butter, soy sour cream and egg replacement powder you may ask? I was at Kroger shopping for other stuff and in their “dairy” section they had a complete area dedicated to vegan and organic products. I was able to fine everything but the Egg Replacer. Andrea said her Kroger also carries the Egg Replacer powder but you have to look for it. It’s powder so it’s not in the dairy section. In my area, the Egg Replacer is available at Sprouts.  If you don’t have a Sprouts, check out Ener-G’s website. They have a product location finder.

I have to say I was pretty nervous about this cake. I was afraid it wouldn’t rise, it wouldn’t taste right, the texture would be off. I was so thrilled when the cake came out of the oven and it looked like all my other cakes. The only thing I did notice is the crust was just a little bit crispier. After giving it some thought, I think that the sugar content in the coffee creamer did change the crust just a bit but nothing to effect the final taste of the cake.

If I compare the traditional WASC to the Vegan Sour Cream Cake, I would say the textures are slightly different. The vegan cake was slightly more dense. This may be that it is vegan but it may also be that this is a cake from scratch. WASC is based on a doctored cake mix and as such the texture is very specific.

Frosting: I used my traditional buttercream recipe (thank you Sugar Shack)  but substituted the Silk Coffee Creamer instead of Coffee Mate:

For a single batch of buttercream:
2 1/2 cups of vegetable shortening (I use a hi-ratio shortening from my  local cake supply)
2 lbs of powedered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla
7 tablespoons of hot Silk Coffee Creamer (you may not need all of it)flower cupcakes

Combine the shortening, 2/3 of the coffee cream and the vanilla in a mixer. Start slow or it will splatter, slowly add in the powdered sugar. If the buttercream is too thick, add the left over coffee creamer until you reach the consistency you need. Frost your cake.

Since this cake was a “Just Because” cake I didn’t have any specific design in mind. Since neither fondant or gelatin are vegan, I needed to use just buttercream for the decorations. So I went for girly, bright colored polka dots. With the left over cupcakes I decided to play with different tips using the left over colored buttercream. The pink cupcake is a 1M tip, the teal cupcake is using tip 104 to make a carnation style flower, and the purple cake is drop flowers using tip 107. The cake was a hit with Andrea (vegan) and her non-vegan friends and family.

Now that I know the base recipe is a winner, next on the vegan experiment list is CHOCOLATE CAKE!

Disney’s Cars Cake

Disney Car's Desert Cake

I made this cake for Mari and Jeff’s 3 year old son Antonio. As you can see, the theme was the Disney’s Cars movie. Jeff and Mari did a great job designing the cake.

Cake Details:
6 inch and 10 inch tiers
White Almond Sour Cream Cake
Buttercream Frosting (double batch using 4lb of powdered sugar)

Decorating Supplies:
14 inch cake drum
2 lbs black fondant
1/4 lb of red fondant
small amount of yellow fondant
small amount of white fondant
brown, copper, green and blue food coloring
1 lollipop stick
black ribbon (1/2 inch width) to edge the cake drum
Wilton Square Cut-Outs
Makin’s Clay Extruder
Piping gel or water
Small paint brushes
Piping tips 32 and 233
FMM Funky Alphabet Tappit Cutters
Number Chocolate Mold
Red and yellow candy melts
Template for Cactus and Sign

In Advance
chocolate mold 3
Roll out a thin round of black fondant to cover the 14 inch cake drum. Apply piping gel or water to the drum, and place the black fondant on top. Trim the fondant to the edge. Let this dry for a couple of days. Do not store in an airtight container or it will not dry.  
Next make  the chocolate 3. Melt the red and yellow chocolate melts in separate containers. Remember to always melt chocolate at 1/2 power to avoid scorching. To get the multiple colors, mix a small amount of yellow and red chocolate together. Fill the bottom of the mold with red, then the middle with orange and then the yellow. Using a toothpick mix the edges where the colors meet to create a smoother transition. Tap the mold to remove any air bubbles and let set. Once the chocolate is complete set it should easily pop out of the mold. Depending on the temp between 30 minutes to an hour.

Bottom Tier:
black and white check
Frost with white frosting and smooth. Place a dab of frosting on the black cake drum, and place the bottom tier centered on the drum.  Roll out the black fondant to about an 1/8 inch 
Using the medium square cutter, cut out several squares. Avoid cutting too many in advance or they will get too dry.
Attach squares using buttercream. To evenly space the squares, place the square cutter gently next to the black square on the cake  and apply the next square. While the cutter was still in place, place the next black square above the cutter to create the checkerboard pattern. Next, roll out about 1 lb of  black fondant to 1/8 of inch. Using a 10 inch cake circle as a guide, trim the fondant so that you have a 10  black circle.  Lightly dampen  the back of the black fondant circle and place it on the 10 inch cake. Knead in a generous amount of shortening into a small amount of red fondant. Using the medium round disk, extrude a red rope long enough to go around the 10 inch cake. If you do not have an extruder, you can roll a simple rope.  red black and white tier
Using a thin paint brush, paint water or piping gel along the top edge of the black squares. Apply the red rope around the top ledge of the squares. Roll out a small amount of yellow fondant and cut into thin strips. A Ribbon Cutter is great for this but if you don’t have one, just use a pizza cutter. Cut the strips into short pieces (just under an inch in my case).  Attach the yellow pieces along the board and the top of the 10 inch tier to create the stripes in the road. For the name, I used the FMM Funky Alphabet Tappit Cutters . On a surface dusted with cornstarch, roll out red fondant pretty thin. Then place a piece of saran wrap over the fondant and pressed the letter cutters into the fondant. This is a great way to keep the letters from sticking.  Paint the back of each letter with a very small amount of water and attach to the squares.

Top Tier:

route 66 desertFill the 6 inch cake  (on its own cake board) with white frosting and cover tightly until ready to use. Tint 4 cups of frosting blue. I intentionally did not mix all of the color into the frosting so that it had streaks of white throughout it for clouds. Frost the 6 inch cake in the blue frosting. Smooth and set aside. Roll out a  small piece of white fondant for the Route 66 sign (see template under Supplies).   Cut out the route sign and let this sit for an hour or so to stiffen up. Knead in a generous amount of Crisco into a small amount of black fondant and place it in a clean clay extruder. Using the medium circle disk, extrude a snake that will be the sign pole. Place this somewhere to dry straight.  Switch the disc in the extruder to the smallest circle and extrude another snake. Apply water around the edge of the Route sign and attach the thin black snake to create the outline. Use another thin snake to make the two sixes. Let the sixes dry before attaching them to the sign. Attach using a small amount of water.
While the sign is drying, cut the lollipop stick in 1/2 to be the base of the flags.
Cut 2 pieces of white fondant and attach to the lollipop sticks. Be sure the flags are facing opposite directions. Using a pizza cutter or ribbon cutter, cut strips of black fondant. Using the same width, cut the strips into squares. Apply the squares with water to the white flags to make the checkered patter. Let dry.
To create the desert rock formations, mix copper and brown food coloring  into white fondant. Knead the color in until you get the desired effect.  Roll this out very thin. Then just tear it into pieces of various shapes and sizes.
Using the paper templates and toothpicks, mark the front of your cake where the Route 66 sign will go. Then mark where you would like each cactus to be placed.  Between each cactus, attach a desert rock formation using buttercream.
For the cactus, I added kelly green and juniper green food coloring to the left over blue frosting.   Fill a piping bag with green frosting and cap with tip 32. Start at the top of each cactus and pipe down. Then add the arms to each cactus. Once done, place the 6 inch cake in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes. This will make it easier to place on top of the bottom tier. While the top cake is chilling, assemble your support system. In my case, I use the single plate system (SPS). Insert your support system into the bottom tier. Once the top tier is chilled, remove it from the freezer and place it on the plate (or dowels if that’s your support structure).  Attach the Route 66  sign and pole to the 6 inch cake using frosting or piping gel. Apply the flags to the top of the cake. Using a glue gun, attach the black ribbon along the base of the cake drum to cover up the rest of the silver foil.

 The toy cars and number 3 were added on site.

Happy Caking!

Christmas Snowflake Cake

This year my mom decorated her house in Red and White for Christmas so I created a cake to cordinate with her decor.The bottom tier is an 8 inch egg nog flavored cake. I made a traditional White Almond Sour Cream Cake(WASC)  recipe and substituted egg nog for the liquid and added 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg.  The buttercream used Parisian Almond Cream coffee creamer for the liquid. You can use the powdered creamer, just heat the water and add equal parts dry creamer to water. That’s a tip I learned from Sharon at her Sugar Shack blog.

The top tier is a 6 inch chocolate cake with a cherry cranberry filling and ganache coating under the fondant.

Supplies:
Buttercream to ice the bottom tier
2 1/2  lbs Red Fondant
1/2 lb White Fondant
1/4 lb White Gumpaste (or fondant with gum-tex or tylose added)
2 jars of sparkling sugar (I combined the fine sanding sugar and chunky sparkling sugar because it’s what I had on hand)
1 jar small white pearls (Wilton)
2 6 inch cake boards
2 8 inch cake boards
1 large plastic cake board( larger than your largest cake)
1 cake drum (10 inches or larger)
A 1/2 sheet cake pan to catch sugar sprinkles
Texture mat or rolling pin (optional)
Large and small snowflake cutters
Diamond Cutters (Medium and tiny) Atteco Diamond Cutter has ALL sizes in one set
Long Wooden Skewers
Paint brushes for caking
Piping Gel

Chocolate Ganache:
3 cups Bakers Semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

I made the chocolate ganache for the top tier the day before because it needs to set. Since I was using the ganache under fondant, you want the ganache to be setting consistency (not pouring consistency). To do this use 2 parts chocolate (I used Baker’s Semisweet Chocolate squares) to 1 part heavy whipping cream. Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a bowl. Heat the cream to just before boiling and pour over chocolate. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes and then stir to melt the chocolate and combine the cream until mixture is smooth.  Cover tightly and let sit on the counter for several hours or overnight to cool.

CAKE CONSTRUCTION:

sugared snow flakesIn addition to making the chocolate ganache the day before, you should make the gumpaste snowflakes for the toppers in advance so they have time to dry. You can do straight gumpaste, 50/50 gumpaste and fondant or fondant mixed with gum-tex or tylose. I used straight gumpaste because I had it on hand. Roll the gumpaste thin but not too thin because they will need to be able to hold themselves up once they dry. I cut out 3 large snowflakes. 2 for the front and 1 for the back (I like the back of my cakes to look pretty too).  I then cut out 3 small snowflakes as well. I let them all dry overnight. You should make 1 or 2 extras in case of breakage.

After the cakes are baked and cooled. Tape the 2 6 inch cake boards together and tape the 2 8 inch cake boards together.  I cover my boards in press and seal. If you’re not going to cover the boards, only use tape between the boards. Fill and stack the cakes on each board as you normally would.

Place the 6 inch cake on a larger plastic board (I buy mine at Hobby Lobby and they’re washable so you rarely have to replace them). The ganache should be peanut butter consistency. If it’s not, put a portion of it in a smaller bowl and microwave on medium power in 30 second increments until it’s just spreadable consistency. Ice the cake so that it’s smooth and set it aside so the chocolate can set up. I am always worried about dust getting on my cakes until I found these awesome food tents. They’re 14 inches and plenty tall. I use them to keep my cakes covered between steps.

sparkling sugar

Next, place the 8 inch cake on the larger plastic cake board. The larger board makes it much easier to handle the cakes. Frost the bottom tier in buttercream. Line the bottom of your sheet pan with wax paper. Place your cake in the pan. Grab a handful of sparkling sugar and place it directly on the cake, gently but firmly press it into the sides of the cake. Work your way all around the cake.  The extra sugar will fall into the pan. Be sure and reuse the sugar that is dropped. Don’t forget to sugar the top of your cake as well. The cake should be very sparkly.

With the left over sugar in the pan, take the small snowflakes from the day before and paint piping gel on the front side of the each snowflake. Cover in the sparkling sugar. With the larger snowflakes, paint piping gel just along the edge of the snowflake. Be careful not to break them. I laid them (one at a time) directly in the pan with the sugar and just shook the pan until the sugar coated the edges. Set all the snowflakes aside to dry. Keep the sugar and pan handy,you may need it later.

Next you will want to roll out a small portion of the red fondant for the diamonds that go around the base tier. I used the Ateco 8 Piece Stainless Steel Diamond Shaped Cutter Set. I love this set, I may have to stock up on all the other shapes soon:) Roll the fondant about 1/8 inch thick. Too thin and they will be hard to place onto the cake, too thick and they look funny. Take an impression mat or a textured rolling pin and roll over the fondant with good pressure. I used an impression mat that had swirls on it. Cut out the diamonds and let them set up for a few minutes. To apply them to the cake, paint a thin layer of piping gel or frosting to the back of the diamonds. Be sure and get the tips or they will not stick to the sugar. Place the first diamond on the front of the cake. Place a few to the left and then go back to the front and place a few to the right. Continue this process until you get to the back. The diamonds rarely line up perfectly, that’s why they call it the back.red fondant, pearls

Roll out a small portion of white fondant and cut out the tiny diamonds that will cover the intersections of the red diamonds. Paint one side of the small diamonds with water or piping gel and place them in the sugar pan, shake gently until well coated. Attach the small diamonds to the intersection of the larger red diamonds. Place a dot of piping gel in the middle of each white diamond and place a pearl in the middle. While you’re still waiting on the ganache to set up you can decorate your snowflakes. Attach each of the small sugared snowflakes to the middle of the larger snowflakes using piping gel. Attach pearls in different patterns to each snowflake. I used piping gel but it didn’t hold as well as I had hoped on the dry gumpaste. Next time I will use frosting.

By now the ganache should be reasonably set. You will need to roll out the red fondant. To cover a 6 inch cake, typically you roll out 2 lbs of fondant and that gives you plenty of overlap to work with. If you’re careful you can save the scraps and use them later. Once the fondant is rolled out, apply the impress mat to the fondant. Apply piping gel or simple syrup to the ganache so that the fondant has something to adhere to. I use a paint brush and just paint it on.

Gently roll the fondant onto your rolling pin (trying hard not to squish the impressions) and apply it to the cake. Gently smooth the fondant down around the cake and trim off the excess. Again trying not to squish the impression out of the fondant. 
Then roll out a 1/2 lb of white fondant.Trim the edge to look like snow fall. Use the bottom of a 6 inch cake pan to determine the size and shape you want. Apply piping gel to the top of the red tier and place the white fondant on top of it. Use your ball tool to adjust the shape if necessary. Once the white layer of fondant is applied. Using a paint brush, paint piping gel just along the edge of the white layer.  Place the left over sparkling sugar in a zip lock bag or piping bag and snip the end off so that the sugar comes out easier but not crazy fast. Go around the edge of the cake with the sugar and it should stick to the piping gel but not the rest of the cake.  I cut out a few more small snowflakes and attached them to the top tier.

I use the SPS (single plate system) as my support so at this point, I put the 6inch plate and pillars into the 8 inch cake and then placed my 6 inch cake on top of it. Other people prefer using dowels but I find SPS to be very easy to use. I then took a piping bag with a large round tip and piped “snow” around the top tier and around the bottom tier and of course added more sparkling sugar to the borders.

The last thing I needed to do was to attach the skewers to the snowflake toppers. I measured the height of the top tier and added a couple of inches to attach to the snowflakes and cut the skewers to size. Next I gently laid the snowflakes face down and laid the skewer over the snowflake. Then I took some fresh white gumpaste and using piping gel applied it to the back to completely attach the skewer to the snowflake. I did this for 2 of the snowflakes. I left the last one without a skewer because I wanted to lean it against the other two in the back. I let them dry for several hours.

I applied the snowflake topper after I arrived on-site and added a little more frosting to the base of the topper to finish the cake.

How to Make a Turkey Cake

I had seen this cake done before by other cake decorators and I have been wanting to try it for a while. So this year I had enough time to make one for our Thanksgiving dinner.

Turkey and Dressing Cake

Supplies:
13X9 Oval cake pan
9 inch heart cake pan
Double batch of cake mix – (I used the White Almond Sour Cream cake. The recipe link is a double batch already)
Double batch of buttercream.   (tint 6 cups of the frosting  a medium brown). My favorite BC is Sugar Shack’s Buttercream. I do NOT recommend using store bought frosting for this cake. It is very difficult to get a smooth finish with store bought frosting.
10 store bought Rice Krispy Treats (for wings and drumsticks)
Brown Food Coloring
2 Tablespoons of corn syrup
2 Tablespoons of vodka
Large rectangular cake boards- doubled and covered in press in seal wrap
Paper towels
Roasting Pan – I used the largest size for this cake
Romaine Lettuce
Small travel hairspray bottle (new – only to be used for cakes)

How to construct the cake:
Prep the pan, using Homemade Cake Release (recipe found at the end of my Go to Chocolate Cake post) or grease and flour the pans. Fill the heart cake pan 2/3 full with batter. Place the rest of the batter in the oval cake pan. Bake the oval and heart cakes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely. You can freeze the cakes before carving to reduce the crumbs. I did not have time to chill my cakes in advance. You can see in my Turkey Cake before Carvingpics that it still worked out OK.  Level the oval cake so that it has a flat top surface.  Do not level the heart cake. The hump on the top of the cake will add to the natural shape of the turkey.

Before constructing the cake, trim your cake board so that it fits into the your roasting ban. My roasting pan was quite deep so I taped several cake boards together and placed them in the base to lift the cake to the desired height. 
Place a small amount of buttercream on the board and place the oval cake cut side down. Place a layer of buttercream on the top of the oval cake and place the heart cake in your desired location.  Carve the large piece of excess cake from the oval. Do this in large chunks and save the cake scraps. You will use them later for the stuffing.Trimmed Turkey Cake

At the pointed end of the heart cake, cut out a small cavity to represent the turkey opening. Shape the cake to simulate the shape of the turkey. Be sure to carve along the sides so that the two layers don’t look like two distinct cakes.  It does not need to be perfect because you can adjust the shape using extra buttercream

Crumb coat the cake and  leave it to set up. Crumb coating a cake is done by thinning down a portion of icing and rough icing the cake to seal in all of the crumbs. This makes icing the cake later much easier and gives you a crumb free final coat. While the crumb coat is setting up, make the drumsticks and the wings. 


Use 2 1/2 Rice Kripsy Treats (RKT) for each drum stick.  To shape the drumsticks, take 2 RKTs and smashed them together with your hands then roll them into the shape of a fat cone. Take 1/2 of another RKT and shaped it as a Rice Krispy Treat Drumsticksskinny log. Press your thumb into the bottom of the log to give it a stubby end. Then squish the log onto the cone, and using your fingers smooth the seam together so it makes a single drum stick.  For the wings, take 1 1/2 rice krispy treats and shape into a longer cone shape. Make the tail of the cone a bit longer and pointier than you would for the drumsticks. Because the wings have sharper angles, press the edges of the wings between your two palms to get a sharper edge.Crumbcoated Turkey Cake

Place the wings and drumsticks along the sides of your crumbcoated turkey cake. Crumb coat the wings and the drumsticks so that the lines between the legs and wings are smooth with the turkey. Do not use too  much frosting on the legs and wings or you will loose their definition.

Frost the turkey cake (including legs and wings) in the brown frostings. Notice I was not careful with getting perfectly smooth frosting on my cake. Since my heart cake had not risen as high as I had hoped, I built up the frosting to make the hump on the turkey’s back.
Once the cake is frosted, let the buttercream crust. This means you let the frosting setup so that it is not sticky to the touch. While the cake is crusting, cut the cake scraps you saved from earlier into small square to resemble stufRough Frosted Turkey Cakefing. Place them on a cookie sheet and bake them for 10 minutes at 325 degrees or until they have bit more color to them .

Now that the frosting has crusted, to smooth the icing you will need your paper towels. Place the paper towel on the cake, textured side to the cake. Rub your hand over the paper towel to smooth out the frosting. Rub the cake with a gentle pressure, enough to smooth out the creases but not to actually shift the icing. If you lift the paper towel and the frosting sticks then the frosting did not crust enough and you need to let it set longer. Crusting can take anywhere from 10 min to 30 min depending on your recipe, humidity etc. By placing the paper towel texture side down, it leaves an impression in the frosting that helps mimic the turkey skin.

Bottle to color turkey cake

Next you will want to color the turkey so it looks more realistic. Most people use an airbrush, however I do not own one so I had to improvise. Take a new small travel hair spray bottle and fill it about 1/2 full with vodka. Then add a significant amount of brown food coloring. Add however much food coloring you think you need and then add more:) Add corn syrup to the bottle until the bottle is about 3/4 full. Place the cap on the bottle and shake well to mix the ingredients. Spritz the cake on all sides until you reach the desired color and look. It doesn’t take very much of the corn syrup mixture to get the desired effect.  When you spritz the cake it has a tendency to go everywhere so I placed a cake board behind the cake as I spritzed it. You can see in the picture there is also a faint hint of color on the cake board. The board will be covered but I did use a dry paper towel to wipe off as much excess as I could.  The corn syrup vodka mixture will add both sheen and color to your cake. The corn syrup will also be slightly sticky and needs to dry.
Frosted Turkey CakeI left my cake in a cake box with paper towels over the top (not touching the cake) until we needed to leave.  Next wash the romaine lettuce leaves and place them on a kitchen towel (or paper towel). Dry the leaves VERY well. Place the turkey cake in the roasting pan. Trim the lettuce and place it gently around the cake to cover the cake board. Take the toasted cake scraps and sprinkle them in the cavity opening and around the turkey cake to add to the effect.

 

Deliver your turkey to the dinner table…oops I mean dessert table!

Turkey and Stuffing Cake

Cupcake Genius Pan is Genius
 CUPCAKE GENIUS PRODUCT REVIEW
Debbie Meyer Cupcake Genius
Cupcake Genius Pan

While wandering around Canton (a trade days type flea market in Texas) I came across this odd cupcake pan that has stoppers over each opening. It’s called Cupcake Genius by Debbie Meyer.  The goal is to make a spot for filling in the cupcakes. Since I already needed an additional cupcake pan,  I thought if this really works, it will be great and if it doesn’t, heck I have my extra cupcake pan that I needed anyway. I’ve kind of avoided filling cupcakes in the past because the apple corer approach was a little messy and using the filling tip I could never really tell if I got enough filling in the cupcake so this seemed like an awesome solution and  …it was!

I approached this product review treating this as any other cupcake pan which meant using my standard recipes (My Go to Chocolate Cake) , my regular wrappers and scooper to ensure the same amount of batter in each well. Cupcakes with filling pan

The instructions say to prep the pan by spraying the stoppers with non-stick cooking spray. I decided to try both the spray and my own homemade cake release to see if one worked better than the other. I even took pictures and they honestly worked the same. I prefer the cake release because the spray gets all over everything and I hate cleaning it up. 
 
Here you can see the stoppers in the cupcakes. One thing to note is the stoppers are not perfectly centered but it really didn’t make a difference. I baked the cupcakes at 350 degrees because the higher temp helps them dome.

Cupcake Genius CupcakesI baked them for 18 minutes (my usual baking time).  When they came out of the oven, the cupcakes had cooked over the tops of the stoppers. You can take a toothpick and scrape around the stopper at the top or even a butter knife. It was pretty easy just to move the  back and then remove the attachment.

I think because of the stoppers, they cooked a little faster which meant they were just a tiny bit over done for my taste. Next time I’ll take them out at 15 minutes. Let them cool for about 5 minutes and remove the top attachment. Place on a cooling rack to continue cooling.

Cupcake genius cupcakesHere you can see the cupcakes after they’ve been baked. Each one has a perfect little well to hold the yummy filling of your choice.

So for the product review on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the best:

Ease of Use: 9 (I’d give this a 10 except my oven rack has a bar running through it that makes it hard to get the pan to sit flat)
Worked as Advertised: 10
Easy to Clean: 7 (It says it’s dishwasher safe but I don’t put any of my specialty cake stuff in the dishwasher..yes I’m paranoid)

Cupcake Genius Filled Cupcake

One thing that I couldn’t test but looks to be true is that the top attachment should work on other cupcake pans. My only other cupcake pan is another specialty pan that is part of a two tier carrier system so it’s not shaped normally.
I have to say I am so please with this pan and how they cupcakes came out.

I filled my cupcakes with Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Filling and topped with a vanilla buttercream and a dusting of grated chocolate. Flavor wise I think the filling was everyone’s favorite part. Next time I will definately top these with a chocolate buttercream or a chocolate ganache.

Cupcake Genius Cupcakes

Completed Cupcake

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Filling/Frosting

I discovered this recipe checking out Let’s Get Caking’s fabulous post on her luggage cake. She is another hobby baker and we must be kindred spirits because we ended up with very similar names for our sites.  So while checking out her cake I saw she used this chocolate chip frosting and I HAD to try it. I made up an excuse to try out this recipe and my new Cupcake Genius pan at the same time.

The original Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Recipe can be found at http://cakecentral.com/recipes/7600/chocolate-chip-cookie-dough-icingfilling

For me the original recipe is a little bit thin as a filling. I’m sure it is great as a frosting but for my version of this I doubled the eggless cookie dough portion.

  • FROSTING BASE:
    1-3/4 cups confectioners sugar
    1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 tablespoon milk
    Eggless cookie dough (recipe below) 
  • EGGLESS COOKIE DOUGH:
    1/2 cup butter, softened
    1/2 cup brown sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
    4 teaspoons water
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1  cup flour
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    4 oz  grated bakers unsweetened or semi-sweet chocolate
  • Instructions

    MAKE EGGLESS COOKIE DOUGH:  

    1. Cream the butter and brown sugar in a small bowl. Add water and vanilla and mix well. Add flour and salt and stir to combine. Grate 4 oz of bakers chocolate on a regular cheese grater. When you grate the chocolate it will be very fine. This is perfect. Reserve 1 or 2 tablespoons of the grated chocolate for topping. Fold the chocolate into the batter. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

    MAKE FROSTING:

    1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 1-1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, unsalted butter, salt, and vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as necessary.
    2. Add milk and continue mixing until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary. With the mixer running, slowly add remaining 1/2 cup confectioners sugar, mix until well combined.
    3.  Add eggless cookie dough to mixture

    I had my DH’s company taste test these cupcakes and they were a big hit. Everyone said the filling was the best part.

    Sugar Free Chocolate Cake

    Chocolate Cake with Crumb sidesI’ve never been a fan of sugar free anything…please, I am a baker and true sugar junky. However my dear friend Laura gave up sugar many years ago and it’s great except I was never able to make her a cake. That is until I found this sugar free cake recipe on Sharon’s fabulous blog http://sugaredblog.blogspot.com. I tweaked the recipe just a bit.  I was very nervous tweaking the recipe  because scratch recipes are much pickier than doctored box mixes but I couldn’t resist.  I used 1/2 regular cocoa and 1/2 dutch processed cocoa and I also added a little almond flavoring which is my favorite with chocolate cake.  Next time I’m going to try all dutch processed cocoa and see how it goes.   

    Sugar-free Chocolate Cake 
       
    2 cups flour (I used Swan’s cake flour but AP should work as well)
    1½ cups Splenda (granular no calorie sweetener)
    ¾ cup non-dairy creamer powder
    ¼ tsp salt
    1 ¼ tsp baking soda
    2 tsp baking powder
    ¼ cup + 2 Tbsp regular cocoa powder
    ¼ cup Hershey’s special dark cocoa (Sharon’s recipe uses all regular cocoa)
    ¾ cup vegetable oil (can sub ¾ cup apple sauce for oil)
    1 cup + 2 Tbsp milk
    3 eggs separated
    1 ½ tsp vanilla
    1 tsp almond flavoring
    Fresh strawberries for filling and decoration    

    Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees. Measure the dry ingredients into a bowl reserving ¼ cup Splenda. In another bowl mix the oil, milk, vanilla, almond and 3 egg yolks.   fluffy egg whites    

      In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until fluffy, slowly adding the remaining ¼ cup of Splenda. 

      Folding egg whites into batterGently fold the egg whites into the cake batter.  

    I had read that sugar free batter doesn’t rise as much as regular cake batter so I decided to use 2 six inch pans to ensure I got a nice height to each layer.      

     To prep the pans I used my homemade cake release (recipe is at the end of my Go To Chocolate Cake post). Squirt some cake release in the pan and spread it around using the pastry brush. Be sure to fully cover the bottom and sides of each pan.      

    chocolate batter in pans

    Prepping Pan with Homemade Cake Release

    Cake release in squeeze bottle, silicon pastry brush and two 6 inch cake pans.

             Fill pans 2/3 of the way full. I overfilled just a bit because everyone said sugar free cakes don’t rise as much as regular cakes. 

    Cake Dome

    The original recipe says to bake at 350 which I did (even though I normally bake at 325). The reason I decided to follow the recipe is because of how picky scratch recipes are and also because everyone said sugar free cakes don’t rise like regular cakes. Ummmmm…see for yourself.   

    Bake the cakes until a toothpick comes out clean. These took about 40 minutes in my oven.  Next time I will definitely be baking at 325. But believe it or not that super tall mound worked out in my favor this time.  (Keep reading to see why).

    Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then take a sharp bread knife and lay it along the top edge of your pan and level each cake while it’s still in the pan.  Save the scraps.You need tto remove the dome to turn the cakes onto a cooling rack.       

     
    Cooling cakeHave 3 cooling racks handy. Take the first cooling rack and place it over the cake pan, holding the rack tightly to the pan, flip them both over..keeping the cake pan firmly against the cooling rack. Because the cake release is so great, the cake normally let’s go with just a subtle shake of the pan.   (Note I do NOT run a knife along the edge of the cake when using cake release. This usually creates crumbs and issues when I ice my cakes). Here you can see that you also get a really nice side to the cakes (no crumbs) using the cake release.      

    Take another cooling rack and lay it on top of your cake. There should be a cooling rack on bottom, cake in the middle and a cooling rack face down on the cake, firmly (but gently) hold the cooling racks together and flip the cake over. The cut side of the cake should now be face up on the cooling rack. Do this for both cakes. Let the cakes cool completely (for a 6 inch cake this is usually 45 minutes to an hour).      

    While the cakes are cooling, make your frosting.      

    Frosting
    A single batch was just enough frosting to cover a 6 inch 2 layer cake.       

    1 Large box sugar-free chocolate instant pudding mix
    1-cup low fat milk
    2 cups heavy cream      

    In a mixing bowl, pour the milk. Measure out the heavy cream in a separate container  and open the pudding box. Quickly pour the pudding into the milk beating just until absorbed. (Here is where I screwed up. I over mixed the pudding and left it sitting just long enough it got globby). Then add the heavy cream and continue to beat until light and fluffy.  Place frosting in fridge until ready to ice the cake.      

    When I added the heavy cream my pudding didn’t really dissolve and I ended up with chocolate pudding chunks in my frosting. Next time I may skip the milk all together and just use the heavy cream. I was so disappointed in my frosting because it meant the cake wouldn’t look very pretty. And my friend Laura deserves a beautiful birthday cake. Since the frosting tasted great and just had dark spots in it,  I decide to try the “crumbs” on the side look. This was my first time trying this technique.      

     Crumbs on cookie sheet
     I took the tops I had cut of both cakes and crumbled them on to a cookie sheet. I placed the cookie sheet back in the oven. The oven was off but still warm from baking the cakes earlier. I left them in there about 30 minutes.  I took them back out of the oven and let them cool for just a couple of minutes. I placed the crumbs in a gallon sized zip lock bag and ran my rolling pin over the bag crushing the crumbs so they were very fine.     

    Now that the cakes were cool, I needed to level them completely. Because they had risen funny, the top edge was not actually level. I have the BEST cake leveler in the entire world called the Agbay. And before you say it YES I know it’s expensive and YES it’s worth every single penny.       

    Level both cakes if removing the dome was not enough. Place a coupler at the bottom of a piping bag with no tip. Fill a piping bag with your frosting. Put a dab of frosting on a 6 inch cake board and place the first layer of cake cut side down.  A bit of the board will be showing, this is OK. Put a thin layer of frosting on top of the cake. Using just the couple (no tip), pipe a border  around the edge of the cake. Place sliced strawberries inside the border just below the top edge. Put another thin layer of frosting over the strawberries just to the edge of your border.      

    Place your next cake cut side down onto the frosted layer. Ice the cake normally. I used the edge of the cake board to guide me in the thickness of my icing. At this point my cake had all the little black specks from my pudding frosting.   

    Applying cake crumbsSo time for the messy part…applying the crumbs.  I placed my cake on a large  piece of parchment paper then I took  a handful of the crumbs and placed them  gently on the side of the cake. More crumbs ended up on the parchment than on the cake. I repeated this until the sides of my cake were covered.  Obviousely crumbs had also spilled along the top so I carefully applied more crumbs to the top edge of my cake. I placed the cake in the freezer for about 10 minutes. This was going to make it easier to put on my pretty cake board.  I took the cake out of the freezer and set it on a decorated 8 inch cake board covered in wrapping paper then food safe cello wrap and a ribbon around the edge. Then using the star tip I piped small rosettes long the border of the cake and placed the strawberries on top.    With the fresh fruit and whipping cream this cake does require refrigeration.

    Laura and I cut the cake and had a nice slice with a glass of milk. I don’t think you would know it was sugar free unless someone told you! I was pleasantly surprised.     

    Chocolate strawberry cake      

    Happy Birthday Laura.

    SugarWonders Figure Making Class

    I recently attended a class hosted by Sugar Wonders, the McKinney Cake Club. The class was taught by Sylvia Wilson and I loved her laid back “about this big” style of teaching. We made several different figures out of fondant and discovered a few basic fundamentals…all figures start out as a ball and/or a cone and all sizes can be compared to some kind of candy… “make his head about the size of a gumball”, “legs should be fatter than a tootsie roll”. By the end of the 5 hrs, we were all wanting to stop by the candy store for some treats.  Here are the figures I made in class…I like them all but I still think something is a little bit off about Miss Bear….oh well that just gives me a good excuse to practice making bears.

    We started our day with the biggest figure which is the happy Mummy. His head and body are made out of store bought Rice Krispy Treats which were abused into taking specific shapes. He was then wrapped in black fondant, and again wrapped in strips of white fondant.

    Fondant Mummy

    Fondant Mummy and Pumpkin

    Something about this guy just makes me think of Elmo. It’s probably that nose. We made the pumpkins later on. As you can see, my pumpkin is a grumpy pumpkin. How would you feel if someone took out all your insides and stuck a candle in you?

    Then we made  different  animals.Yes Kitty is my favorite so her pic is slightly bigger but the painter penguin is running a close second. The smaller animals are all fondant. We made the bodies (fat cones) and then used toothpicks to stick on the heads (balls).  Each person’s figures were so different and had so much personality. It was great.

    Fondant Cat

    Fondant Cat

    Fondant Bear

    Chocolate Fondant Bear

    Fondant Reindeer

    Chocolate Fondant Reindeer

    Fondant Penguin

    French Penguin

    My penguin was a happy accident. I was going to make him a winter hat but when I put the fondant on to measure the hat it looked like a beret and Frenchy the penguin was born.  The reindeer was fun because before you added in the 2 extra points on his antler he looked like a goofy longhorn. Being in Texas we all came up with a million uses for goofy longhorns….cupcake toppers, graduation cakes….the options are endless.  

    My “Go To” Chocolate Cake Recipe

    Everyone has their “go to recipes” so I’m posting my chocolate recipe first. Overall, I use both doctored cake mixes and scratch recipes depending on the flavor cake I’m making. My go to Chocolate Cake Recipe is from the  the Cake Mix Doctor….one of my favorite recipe book.

    I prefer Devil’s Food cake to regular chocolate cake but I’m sure you can adjust using the chocolate cake mix you prefer.

    Ingredients

    1 Devil’s Food Cake Mix (I like Duncan Hines)
    3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I use the Hershey Dark which is a dutch processed cocoa)
    1 1/3 cup of buttermilk
    ½ cup vegetable oil
    3 large eggs
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1 tsp almond extract*

    *Almond extract  is not in the cake mix doctors original recipe. I really love chocolate cake with a little bit of almond flavoring. I also love chocolate cake paired with an almond buttercream.

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Traditionally you bake cakes at 350 degrees but I find you get a more even cake and less of a dome at 325.

    Put the wet ingredients in the bottom of the bowl then add the dry ingredients. This prevents you from having to scrape down the very bottom of the bowl as you mix.  Blend all the ingredients together for 1 minute on low , scrape down sides then mix for  2 minutes on medium speed.  

    By the way I use powdered buttermilk because it keeps longer in the fridge than regular buttermilk and I always have it on hand.  

    You can grease and flour your pans but I prefer homemade cake release (recipe at the end of this post). Prep two 8 inch  pans. Fill each pan about 2/3 of the way full. This recipe makes 2 8 inch rounds with a few cupcakes left over.  

    Bake at 325 degrees until a toothpick comes out clean. Ovens do vary so you want to watch your cakes but try not to open the oven all the time. This can cause the cakes to sink in the middle. I usually check my cakes around 30-35 minutes and they’re usually finished around  40 to 45 minutes.  Mine do take longer than some because I bake at 325.

    Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out on a cooling rack and leave them until they are completely cooled.

    Homemade Cake Release
    Ingredients:
    ¼ cup shortening
    ¼ cup vegetable oil
    ¼ cup flour

    Mix until completely combined and looks kind of like paste. Use a pastry brush to apply to the pans. Be sure to coat the corners well.  This is much easier and much less messy than the grease and flour method.  I store my cake release in a squeeze bottle from Michael’s that I got in the candy making section. It keeps on the shelf for several months but it rarely lasts me that long. If you need a larger quantity just be sure you use equal parts shortening, oil and flour.

    Aunt Bitsy’s No Bake Cherry Pie

    I’ve always preferred dessert to dinner and this is still one of my all time favorites. This is an old ice box pie recipe my great Aunt Bitsy used to make.  It stars two of my favorite foods, cherries and Cool Whip. To all the pasty chefs and food purists out there ….I can’t help it …. I LOVE  Cool Whip!  I also love real whipping cream but I’m not giving up my Cool Whip.

    Ingredients:
    2 graham cracker pie crusts (you can make your own or use store bought….Bitsy won’t mind )
    1 can Cherry Pie Filling
    1 can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
    2 tablespoons lemon juice (this is what thickens the pie so do not omit it)
    1    8 oz container of Cool Whip
    1/2 cup to 1 cup of chopped pecans (I don’t usually measure these. And they’re optional if you’re not a fan of pecans.)

    Instructions:
    Mix sweetened condensed milk,  lemon juice and Cool Whip in a bowl. Fold in cherries and pecans. This recipe will make 2 pies if you use the store bought crusts. Be sure and save the plastic insert that protects the crust. This doubles as a lid.
    Split the contents between the 2 pie crusts. Cover the pies and stick them in the freezer.  Technically you can refrigerate the pies overnight and it will set up great but I never plan that far in advance so I throw my pies in the freezer for a couple of hours and store them in the fridge about an hour or so before I want to serve them. 
    Variations:
    This can also be served as a “salad”. Skip the pie crusts. Delete the lemon juice and sub in an 8 oz can of crushed pineapple. Chill and serve.

    This recipe is super easy  and always a big hit at Thanksgiving. Yes we eat ice box pies in November…in Texas this is totally acceptable behavior.

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