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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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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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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Spiced Apple Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Apple Layer Cake

Apple Layer Cake

Last week, I found myself wandering around the grocery store and lamenting the price of berries. There were so many berry desserts on my list that didn’t get made over the summer, but when I saw the array of apples in the corner, I got distracted from my sadness. I remembered these apple cupcakes that I made last year, which made my list of favorites for 2014, and I had been wanting to make a layer cake version of it ever since.

This time, I replaced the goat cheese frosting (but isn’t that the best part?) with a brown sugar and maple cream cheese swiss meringue buttercream. As much as I adore goat cheese frosting, cream cheese SMB has a special place in my heart. Especially when it’s made with brown sugar, and even more so when you add maple syrup. In fact, after making this version of cream cheese frosting, it’s really hard for me to go back to the overly sweet powdered sugar variety that is so often paired with red velvet or carrot cake. The apples make the cake pretty sweet in itself, so I thought this frosting made for a better balance.

Apple Layer Cake

Apple Layer Cake

Cream cheese SMB is more time consuming to make than your traditional cream cheese frosting, but so worth it. In the past when I’ve made cream cheese swiss buttercream, I subbed cream cheese for half of the butter and ended up with a soupy, gloopy curdled mess that would not come together no matter how much I whipped it. After reading this post, I figured out why. Here are a few tips and tricks to get smooth and luxurious cream cheese SMB.

1. Finish your SMB like you normally would with only the butter added.
2. Whip the cream cheese separately until it is smooth.
3. Add the finished SMB to the cream cheese (not the other way around) a little bit at a time until it comes together.

Follow these steps and you’ll have a light, fluffy, and not to sweet cream cheese frosting. And because it’s softer than traditional SMB, it tastes great straight out of the fridge. Yay for instant gratification!

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Teeny Tiny Chocolate Cake for One

Tiny Chocolate Cake

Tiny Chocolate Cake

A couple of weeks ago, we went to Las Vegas for Aaron’s birthday. I won’t say which birthday, but it was a big one. Something to do with hills and all that. I wanted to bake him a birthday cake before we left, but he had already had a day of indulgence with his coworkers followed by a pizza dinner with me, and we were about to leave for a gluttonous weekend, so I didn’t know when we were going to squeeze in the time or belly space for a cake. That’s when I decided to whip up the teeniest tiniest cake ever. It was just big enough to satisfy our sweet tooth before we headed off on our trip.

I made the entire batter for the cake in a measuring cup, and both the cake and the frosting without a mixer. I baked this is my trusty little 4-inch cake pan, which I have gotten way more use of out of than I ever expected when I bought it. I used cake strips to prevent the cake from doming up, since I didn’t want to lose any of this already tiny cake.

Tiny Chocolate Cake

I’ve always used an electric mixer or my Kitchen-Aid to make buttercream, but since this was such a small amount of frosting, I used the wooden spoon method. It takes a little bit longer without a mixer, but there’s less clean up involved. I recommend taking your butter out and cutting it into pieces before you even start making the cake. That way it will already be softened by the time the cake has cooled and you won’t have to wait to make the frosting.

Tiny Chocolate Cake

Tiny Chocolate Cake

This cake can easily made vegan. I’ve made it several times and just used whatever milk I have on hand- whole, 2 percent, soy, almond, etc. The butter in the frosting can be replaced with vegan butter, shortening, or a combo of the two. I used a chocolate frosting on this cake, but I’ve listed several flavor variations below.

For Vanilla Frosting- omit the cocoa powder
For Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting- add 1/2 tablespoon of peanut butter
For Chocolate Almond Frosting- add 1/4 teaspoon of pure almond extract
For Mint Chocolate Frosting- add a drop or two of mint extract
For Mocha Frosting- add 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 teaspoon of water and omit the milk

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Raw Cheesecake

Raw Cheesecake

Raw Cheesecake

Confession: I’ve never made cheesecake that actually has any cheese in it. Does this mean I have to call it “cheezecake?”

Raw Cheesecake

My fear of water baths is about as intense as my fear of pie crust, so I’m glad that this raw vegan cheesecake is one of the simplest desserts I’ve ever made. No rolling, no baking, no water baths. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I’ve been obsessed with raw pies an cheesecakes ever since my trip to Portland last summer, where I had the best pies and cheesecakes ever. They were raw, vegan, gluten free, and didn’t leave me feeling like I had lead in my stomach the rest of the day. I’ve spent many many hours trying to recreate them.

Raw Cheesecake

I’m not going to call it healthy, since nuts and coconut oil are full of fat. Let’s just say it’s easier to digest than regular cheesecake and fairly allergy friendly. I shared this dessert with a friend who is allergic to pretty much everything except tree nuts. The cashews in this are necessary though, since they give it the cheese-cakey texture, so substitutions won’t work. Even so, I feel like it’s a good option to bring to a dinner party where you have to navigate a lot of dietary restrictions. So turn off your oven, grab your blender, and let’s make some chees(z)ecake!

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Chocolate Raspberry Crunch Cake

Chocolate Raspberry Cake

Chocolate Raspberry Cake

Behold, I made a cake! It’s been a while folks, and I’ve missed it. I took a break. A much needed break from all things blog and internet and social media. I stopped checking my instagram likes every five minutes. I did waaay less dishes. I cooked more savory food. I baked stuff that I actually wanted to eat! And most importantly, I stopped comparing myself to other bloggers and their beautiful photos and perfect lives. Comparing yourself is never a good thing in any aspect of your your life. It can make you feel really discouraged and kill your motivation, which is exactly what happened. But, I missed baking and I missed blogging and I’m going to try really hard to keep doing it without it taking over my life and my mental health.

So let’s talk about cake. This tiny tall cake that re-inspired me to blog after a long hiatus, and was based entirely on my own cravings. It’s chocolaty and crunchy and full of raspberries, and it’s made in 5-inch cake pans. I know what you’re thinking, who has 5-inch cake pans and why don’t you just post recipes for normal sized cakes? Here’s my logic- there are a gazillion recipes on the internet for normal sized cakes. There must be some weirdos out there who love their 5-inch cake pans as much as I do, and are looking for ways to use them. But just in case I’m the lone weirdo, I’ve listed some options for alternate pan sizes below.

Chocolate Raspberry Cake

Chocolate Raspberry Cake

This cake is a recipe that I’ve been dying to try from the Baked Elements cookbook. It’s made with mayo rather than butter or oil, and I can’t say that I’ve ever had a bad experience with chocolate mayo cake. The frosting is made with milk chocolate, because I’ve recently discovered that I really love the stuff. I think milk chocolate gets a bad rap because a lot of people associate it with some of the lower quality stuff that you find in the impulse section of the grocery store, but high end milk chocolate is not something to turn your nose up at. My favorite brand of milk chocolate is Scharffen Berger, but it’s on the pricy side and somewhat hard to find. For frostings, I usually use Guittard milk chocolate chips. It’s still a big step up from most and melts really well.

Chocolate Raspberry Cake

You can bake this cake in two 6-inch cake pans, and it also makes 12 cupcakes. The baking times for these will vary.

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Coffee and Donuts Cake

Coffee and Donuts Cake

Coffee and Donuts Cake

Happy National Donut Day! Does this mean we can eat all the donuts we want and calories don’t count today? If so, you should make three of these cakes. Actually, I didn’t even know Donut Day was a thing until I saw donuts popping up all over Instagram yesterday. I made this cake a couple of months ago for a silent auction, but hadn’t gotten around to posting it out of sheer laziness, so the stars aligned and it’s coming to you on National Donut Day!

The cake itself is a super simple chocolate cake recipe that I got from here. I doubled the recipe to get a 3 layer 6-inch cake plus about 16 mini donuts (or really, donut shaped cakes). Although this cake recipe is vegan, I used cow’s milk since the frosting is not vegan. Speaking of frosting, coffee swiss meringue buttercream is quite possibly the most heavenly creation on earth. I used 2 shots of espresso from my favorite local coffee shop in the frosting, but you could also use 2 tablespoons of instant espresso powder dissolved in 2 tablespoons of water, or 2 tablespoons of coffee extract (I like Nielsen Massey brand).

The frosting recipe makes a lot, so before you tell me that this recipe makes too much frosting, here’s why (also, please stop complaining about an overabundance of frosting). I wanted to crumb coat the cake and have enough frosting to get a really smooth finish since I knew that people would be bidding on this cake. The leftovers freeze really well (or taste good spooned directly into your mouth). Plus, it’s always nice to have some extra Swiss Buttercream in your freezer.

If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you know that I use pasteurized liquid egg whites 99 percent of the time when I make SMB. I’ve tried it with both fresh and liquid egg whites, and while the liquid egg whites whip up slightly fluffier, I don’t find that it makes a difference in the finished product. Plus, you don’t need to heat liquid egg whites past 120 degrees, which makes the whole process go faster. So unless I know I have to make a very large batch of pudding in the near future, liquid egg whites it is. And don’t forget to wipe down all your tools with vinegar before you start. Any traces of grease will prevent your meringue from whipping up properly.

As for the butter, the ideal temperature should but soft, but it should still retain it’s shape. If the butter starts to get greasy or mushy, you may have a harder time getting your SMB to come together. In case your butter is too soft (or your egg whites are too warm), just stick the whole bowl of frosting in the refrigerator and try beating it again.

Coffee and Donuts Cake

Coffee and Donuts Cake
Coffee and Donuts Cake
Coffee and Donuts Cake

For the cake, double the recipe here. This makes a 3 layer 6-inch cake plus about 16-20 mini donuts. You’ll need a mini donut pan like this one. Make the glaze in the recipe below. Dip one side of the donuts into the glaze, and then cover with sprinkles. Let the glaze dry while you frost the cake.

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Momofuku Inspired Chocolate Stout, Pretzel, and Marshmallow Cake

Momofuku Stout Cake

Momofuku Stout Cake-11

My 2nd birthday cake comes to you almost a month after my actual birthday and barely in time for St. Patrick’s day (even though it’s St. Patty’s inspired). I wish I could say I was just too busy to make it in a timely manner, but really, it was put off due to sheer intimidation. This year, I really wanted one of my birthday cakes to be a Momofuku Milk Bar cake. At first, I toyed with the idea of ordering one online. I couldn’t decide on a flavor, so I was going to pretend that I had an upcoming wedding (even though I got married last year) and order the sampler pack. Slightly pathetic, I know, but my idea of a good birthday is eating an entire sampler pack of Momofuku cake in my pajamas while watching cheesy 90’s movies on Netflix. Hawt.
In the end though, I just couldn’t justify paying a shipping cost that was significantly more than the actual cake, so I figured it was time to put on my big girl pants and make one. I will say that once I assembled all of the ingredients and equipment, it was not as difficult as I made it out to be in my head. Time consuming, yes, but not so hard. I also think that making this cake would have been a lot less stressful had I not tried to do everything in a 24 hour period. I would actually recommend spacing it out over 5-7 days if you can, since a lot of it can be made in advance. I would also recommend reading through the entire recipe and familiarizing yourself with the process before you start making this cake.

Momofuku Stout Cake
Momofuku Stout Cake

After browsing the website, I decided on making the Salted Pretzel Cake because I love the idea of beer in a cake. I just recently discovered that I like beer, but only if it’s a darker beer that tastes like chocolate (such as this one). After checking out the Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook from the library, I realized that other than the Pretzel Crunch, the rest of the Salted Pretzel Cake wasn’t in there. I was able to find the cake recipe online, but some of the instructions weren’t clear (or in weight measurements like the cookbook). For example, the recipe states that 3 cups of mini pretzels should be ground down into a powder, but should you measure the pretzels before or after you crush them? It’s a pretty big difference, since 3 cups of mini pretzels is only about 1 cup after it’s ground. There was no stout ganache recipe, but I found one online, and I replaced the burnt honey frosting with a charred marshmallow frosting (inspired by Momofuku’s Malted Chocolate Cake). In the end, I used my best judgement and was happy with the result. I’ve also included a few step by step photos at the bottom of this post as well. Please excuse the awkward lighting and non-prettiness since some were quickly snapped on my iPhone.

Here are the the components of the cake:

The Salted Pretzel Cake: This can be made up to 5 days in advance is kept wrapped in plastic in the fridge. I recommend making it at least a day in advance since it is easier to work with if you refrigerate it overnight.
The Stout Beer Soak: Just go buy your favorite stout beer. I used Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout.
The Malted Chocolate Pretzel Crunch: These can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for a week or refrigerated for up to one month.
The Stout Ganache: Can be made a week in advance and kept in the fridge. You’ll need to rewarm it in order to spread it over the cake.
The Charred Marshmallow Frosting: This needs to be made and used immediately.

There’s also the equipment. You’ll need:

A quarter sheet pan. I used the 9×13 pan I had and got away with it. It’s a little smaller than a quarter sheet pan and required me to piece a few more scraps together.
A 6-inch cake ring. I used a 6-inch cheesecake pan with a removable bottom that I already had and it worked just fine. A springform pan would work too, but I wouldn’t recommend a regular 6-inch cake pan or anything with a closed, non removable bottom.
Two 3×20-inch strips of acetate. I was able to get 2.5×20-inch strips at my local cake supply store and they worked well. You can also find larger sheets on amazon and cut them down to size.

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