Grown Up Birthday Cake

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Creme Fraiche Frosting

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Creme Fraiche Frosting

It’s my birthday! Well, it was my birthday last week. I’m a little late in posting this. In fact, blogging has been rare treat around these parts lately, and what better day to treat myself than by birthday?

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Creme Fraiche Frosting

Some people talk about the baker’s dilemma. Do you bake your own cake or not? For me, it’s a no brainer. Control freak that I am, I always want to bake my own cake. Unless someone wants to deliver a Momofuku cake to my door. Then I might change my mind, but this year nostalgia took over and I chose my childhood favorite- yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Of course, my childhood yellow birthday cake came from a box, so I wanted this cake to resemble that in the light and fluffy department, but perhaps less so in the alarmingly yellow department (seriously, what do they put in there?).

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Creme Fraiche Frosting

I’ve never been a big fan of canned frosting, so I wanted to do something different than the traditional chocolate buttercream. I thought about making my go to chocolate sour cream frosting, but after some googling, came across Hummingbird High’s recipe for creme fraiche frosting. By swapping out creme fraiche for the sour cream, I ended up with a frosting that was not too sweet, ultra rich, and chocolaty in all the right ways. I dare you not to eat half of it before you even start frosting the cake.

The actual cake recipe is a paired down version of the “All Occasion Downy Yellow Butter Cake” from The Cake Bible. Even though Rose Levy Berenbaum warns not to mess with the pan sizes, I almost always do. Sometimes I’ve paid the price for it, but this time it worked out. I love this cake because it has the lightness of a boxed mix that comes from the cake flour, and the egg yolks give it a rich yellow color and flavor. For the ultimate lightness, make sure to use bleached cake flour. Unbleached cake flour will make a denser cake.

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Creme Fraiche Frosting

In the spirit of being more grown up this year, I was going to leave the sprinkles off of my birthday cake this year. But for me, part of the pleasure of eating birthday cake is the mouthful of crunchy nonpareils that come with it, so I decided to go sprinkle crazy because I’m the birthday girl!

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Strawberry and Chocoroom Cake

Chocolate cake, strawberry frosting, and candy mushrooms

I have a thing for Asian candy. We didn’t have a designated Indian grocery store where I grew up. It was all kind of lumped into one “ethnic/all things from the east” store, so when my mom went to buy ghee and mango pickle, I tagged along and got Pocky, Yan Yan, and these little koala cookies. I think my inner 6-year-old would have gone nuts for little chocolate mushrooms, though. I saw them recently at Daiso, a Japanese version of a dollar(ish) store that opened up near my house. I love browsing all of the miniature knick knacks and aisles of Japanese candy, so when I saw these little mushrooms, I knew I wanted to use them on a cake (except the first time I bought a package I ate the entire thing on the way home and was too embarrassed to go back and get more).

Chocolate Cake, Strawberry Frosting, and candy mushrooms

So on my second shopping attempt I bought an extra package for the inevitable snack attack, and this Strawberry Chocoroom Cake was born. It’s just in time for Valentine’s Day, because nothing says I love you like candy mushrooms.

The cake itself is my go to chocolate cake, which just so happens to be vegan. It’s almost exactly the same as what I used for my Marshmallow Madness Cake, but I used water rather than non-dairy milk. I’ve seen several recipes that do this, and I wanted to see how they compared. I’ve only tested it once so I can’t say for sure if it was because of the water, but this cake was super light and fluffy. I had to chill it for several hours before frosting because it was difficult to work with, but I did like the texture.

Chocolate cake, strawberry frosting, and candy mushrooms

Since fresh strawberries are out of season, I got a package of freeze dried strawberries from Trader Joe’s, ground them down into a powder, and then mixed them into the frosting. I liked the end result but it was missing some depth, so I mixed in a teaspoon of red wine vinegar. I do this often to balance out the sweetness of fruit crisps, and I was happy that it worked so well in the frosting.

Chocolate cake, strawberry frosting, and candy mushrooms

If you can’t find Chocorooms, this cake would be equally adorable covered in meringue mushrooms. If mushrooms are too weird for you, perhaps candy hearts would be a fun substitute.

Not a fan of tall cakes? You can also bake this cake in 2 6-inch cake pans.

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Small Batch Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Small Batch Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Happy New Year! Now that the first week of January is almost over, does that mean you’ve given up your resolutions yet? No? Good, me either. Believe it or not, this is one of the few recipes on my website that’s not a diet buster. At least, it’s not an “eating everything in moderation” buster, which I’m all about these days. This small batch cookie recipe makes only 5 cookies. Yay for built in portion control! But wait…it get’s even better! *cue Billy Mays*

They’re vegan, and it’s a super simple one bowl recipe. Excited yet? Click on over to Food Fanatic for the recipe.

One Bowl Gingerbread Layer Cake

Gingerbread Cake

I’ve been wanting to post a gingerbread cake on here for years, but never got around to it because every recipe I’ve found looked super complicated, and by this point in the year, I do not feel like doing things like folding egg whites or even washing more than one bowl. This time of year calls of dump, dump, dump, and stir. Dump and stir recipes leave more time for important things like spending time with family, or watching Master of None on Netflix.

Gingerbread Cake

My default cream cheese frosting is a not too sweet swiss meringue buttercream, but I thought that a simple cream cheese/powdered sugar frosting worked better here. Not only is it easy to make, but the sweetness compliments the spicy gingerbread cake.

The topping was supposed to be a snowy white glaze that dripped down the sides to look like icicles, but I think I added too much milk because it looks like the sun came out and the snow is melting. It’s been in the 70s all week here, so I suppose there was no chance of snow, not even on my cake.

Gingerbread Cake

The gingerbread house cake topper is totally optional. I had some leftover dough left from this recipe, which makes a ton. If you want to use it just for a mini gingerbread house, I’d recommend dividing it by 3, and even then you’ll have enough to make at least 8 mini houses. I got my cookie cutters from this store on Etsy. To decorate the house and glue it together, I used this pre-packaged¬†cookie icing

Gingerbread Cake

Gingerbread Cake

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Herby Shortbread Two Ways- Rosemary Honey and Raspberry Thyme

Rosemary Shortbread

Have you ever used herbs in cookies? I’ve always found the idea intriguing, so when a friend gave me some rosemary from her garden, I thought about using it in shortbread. I suspected that it would be one of those “cool in theory but kind of weird” recipes that at worst would make my kitchen smell nice and at best would make good Christmas gifts, but I never expected them to blog worthy. I like to keep this space for the best of the best and the favoritest of the favorites, and these cookies definitely made the cut.

Rosemary Shortbread
Rosemary Shortbread

I originally started by adding rosemary to my usual shortbread base, but when I came across this recipe, I decided to add some honey. The honey not only added flavor, but made a more tender cookie. I was such a fan of this dough that I made a second variation on this recipe. For the thyme raspberry cookie, I used the same shortbread base, but replaced the rosemary with 1 1/2 teaspoons of fresh thyme and 2 tablespoons of coarsely chopped freeze dried raspberries.

Rosemary Shortbread

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Vegan Apple Pie Scones

Apple Pie Scones

I’ve always been cold-natured, but now that I’ve lived in Texas for almost 8 years, any time that it drops below 70 degrees is a reason to put on my fuzzy socks and make a big pot of tea. I’ve been having major scone cravings to go along with the gallons of tea that I’ve been drinking lately, but I didn’t have a good go to recipe.

After some scone research, I decided to go with a British style recipe. It’s less sweet than it’s American counterpart and more cakey than biscuity. You don’t have to have cold ingredients, and you don’t have to fret about overworking the dough. There’s nothing I hate worse than tip-toeing around finicky scone dough and still having the end result come out tough. British scone dough starts out by coating the flour in fat so that it’s harder to overwork the gluten. You can knead it and roll it out without being afraid of impending hockey pucks.

Because I planned to stuff these scones with apples and cinnamon sugar, I wanted a scone recipe that would be a not to sweet vehicle to let the apples shine while still being light and fluffy. Oh, and I also wanted them to be vegan. I don’t ask for much, do I? I found that watching this video from America’s test kitchen put me on the right track. Even though I replaced the butter with coconut oil, the milk with coconut milk, and omitted the eggs all together, I used the same basic mixing method. And then I stuffed it with apple pie filing. I’m not sure if the Brits would approve, but I liked the end result.

I don’t normally do step by step instructions, but I thought it would be helpful this time. Scroll past the recipe for the steps.

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Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Blondies

Hazelnut Blondies

Hazelnut Blondies

Happy week after Thanksgiving! Have you recovered from your food coma yet? I hope so, because I have lots of fun holiday recipes coming your way, so don’t put up your stretchy pants just yet. These hazelnut blondies are my first post over at Food Fanatic, where I’ll be contributing vegan dessert recipes. And you know what they say about vegan desserts- they’re practially salad! Ok, maybe I’m they only one that says that, but they are egg and dairy free and full of toasted hazelnut butter. To get the recipe, click here.

Hazelnut Blondies

Pumpkin Biscotti

Pumpkin Biscotti

Pumpkin Biscotti

If you are what you eat, then I am a giant walking talking pumpkin biscotti. I’ve made (and eaten) so many of these in the last couple of weeks that I’m afraid I’m going to start turning orange. I guess eating mass amounts of biscotti is just part of the job, but it’s ok, I’m always happy to take one for the team.

Pumpkin Biscotti

My favorite traditional biscotti recipe uses eggs in the batter, but no oil or butter. It’s perfectly crunchy and you don’t have to chip a tooth to enjoy it. However, since my grandmother was in town and doesn’t eat eggs, I wanted to make an eggless version that I could share with her. Pumpkin makes a great egg substitute, but adds a lot of moisture, so my first couple of batches of biscotti ended up soggy. For the next batch, I tried baking them a little longer. They probably would have been ok after soaking them in coffee but on their own, they were too hard. For the last batch, I added some oil, which I’m normally not a fan of in traditional biscotti. They kept these biscotti from drying out and boosted the flavor, and my teeth were still in tact after biting into them.

Note the low baking temperature here. I found that after several of my biscotti logs split during the first bake, lowering the temperature from 350 to 300 was the best remedy for this. This recipe can easily be made vegan by omitting the white chocolate drizzle or replacing it with a bittersweet chocolate drizzle.

Pumpkin Biscotti

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Marshmallow Madness Cake

Marshmallow Madness Cake

Marshmallow Madness Cake

I’ve always had mixed feelings about Halloween. Sure, there’s candy (I can be bribed with candy most of the time) and fun costumes, but there’s also the blood and guts and gore aspect of it that I hate. I will never ever understand why people like to go to haunted houses or watch movies that will make you sleep with the lights on for weeks. One thing I do understand though, is cake, and like every other holiday, I just turn it into an excuse to make another one. Plus, making googly eyes out of royal icing is way more fun than doing dishes.

My goal was to make a cake that was light and fun but still in the spirit of Halloween. The fact that the ganache looks like dried blood was totally an accident, since I intended for it to be a bright purple drip. Cakes never quite turn out the way I picture them in my head, but I thought this one turned out pretty darn cute anyway.

Marshmallow Madness Cake

The cake itself is a 3 layer 5-inch deep dark chocolate cake made with black onyx cocoa powder. Black onyx cocoa is a super alkalized cocoa powder that is very dark (the kind that they use to make Oreo cookies). Used by itself, it can really dry out baked goods (I learned that the hard way). I took a tip from SugarHero and used it to replace half of the regular Dutch process cocoa. The result was a cake that was naturally black in color and kept it’s moisture. I get my black cocoa online, but if you don’t want to bother, you can use regular Dutch process or even add some black food coloring to your cake.

For the drippy glaze, I used candy melts since I already had some purple ones on hand. If you use them, go easy on the cream at first. I tried to use the same ratio of cream to chocolate as I would with a ganache, but candy melts melt more easily than regular chocolate (hence the term candy melts), so start my mixing in a little bit at a time. I just dumped it all in, which is why my drip turned out runnier than I expected.

I couldn’t find candy eyeballs that were small enough to fit on the mini marshmallows, so I made royal icing, put it into a piping bag, and piped it directly onto the marshmallows. You could also used pre packaged cookie icing. Once it dried, I used an edible pen to draw in the eyeballs.

If you want to make a shorter cake, you can use the same recipe to make a 3 layer 6-inch cake. You’ll need reduce the baking time by about 5 minutes.

Marshmallow Madness Cake

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