Did you know there’s a thing such as black cocoa powder? Yep, the same type that Oreo’s are made from. You can buy it online. I purchased some quite a while back from King Arthur when I make homemade style Oreo’s and I wanted to play around with some colors on top of some black buttercream. I tweaked this buttercream from Sweetapolita’s recipe for glossy black buttercream slightly, as well as her recipe for black cocoa cake on her site that is called Glam Rock Cake. It was super fun to play around with smearing some other colors on top of the black frosting to get the galaxy look. I always use Americolor gel color paste; and besides the super black that was used in the frosting, I used electric blue, electric purple and electric pink along with some white to get my galaxy look. You have to start with a black smooth canvas then randomly smear on little dabs of the colors and then take your bench scraper to lightly mix the colors. I then took some silver luster dust mixed with a little super white gel food color and thinned it with a tiny bit of vodka to get the right consistency to splatter on the white space matter. I also “threw” (literally) on some tiny edible silver stars for the final flourish.
The galaxy styled cake was a surprise birthday cake for a friend of mine in my church group, and he loved it!
The inside of the cake is black velvet filled with cream cheese frosting and fresh raspberries. The raspberries help counteract the sweet contrast of the buttercream. I love how it looks also when you slice into it. I used bittersweet chocolate in the frosting but in hindsight; since the black cocoa is a very forward flavor, if I make it again I would use half semi sweet and bittersweet as I thought it was a little too bittersweet for my taste, but it was delish none the less.
Black Cocoa Galaxy Cake
Black Cocoa Cake
recipe: from Sweetapolita Glam Rock Cake
2 1/3 Cup all purpose flour
3/4 Cup plus one Tablespoon best quality black cocoa powder (I used King Arthur brand)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 Cups buttermilk, room temperature (or mix one cup whole milk with 1 Tbsp. + 1 1/2 tsp. vinegar and let sit for at least 10 minutes)
1/2 Cup hot coffee
1 Cup unsalted butter, room temp
2 1/2 Cups packed light brown sugar (it seems like a lot; but the cake needs it)
2 tsp. vanilla
4 large eggs, room temp
1/4 cup mayonnaise, room temp
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. distilled white vinegar
Preheat the oven to 350° F and spray three 8 inch pans with baking spray and line with parchment circles.
In a bowl sift together the flour, black cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt and set aside. In a large glass liquid measuring cup mix together the buttermilk and coffee. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment ,or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer, cream the sugar and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy; about 8 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well in between, stopping frequently to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add in the vanilla and mix gently. Decrease the speed to low and add in one third of the flour mixture until just combined. Add in one half of the buttermilk/coffee mixture. Add in the remainder of the flour mixture alternating with the buttermilk mixture, ending with the flour mixture until combined; being careful not to overmix. Remove the bowl and carefully mix in the mayonnaise.
In a small bowl quickly mix the baking soda and vinegar and quickly add to the batter, whisking until smooth.
Divide the batter evenly amongst the pans and bake in the preheated oven for about 25-27 minutes until the cake springs back when lightly touched and the cake just starts to pull away from the pan. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Black Glossy Fudge Frosting
recipe from Sweetapolita
1 Cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups confectioners sugar
pinch of salt
6 Tbsp. black cocoa powder (I used King Arthur brand that I purchased online)
2-3 Tbsp. hot water
1/4 cup sour cream
3/4 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt
2 oz. semisweet chocolate chips (melted along with the bittersweet chips)
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips
gel paste color in super black (Americolor)
In a large bowl, using a hand held mixer beat the butter until pale and fluffy; about 6 minutes. Sift the confectioners sugar, salt, and the cocoa together and add in and mix on low first to avoid a mess, then add in the hot water and sour cream and mix to combine. Increase the speed and beat for about 2 minutes to combine. Add in the melted chocolate chips and beat for another minute or two to combine. Add in about 1/2 tsp. of the black gel paste color and beat to combine. Let the frosting sit for about 15 minutes (it darkens as it sits) and then add a little bit as necessary to achieve the color you want. Note; the frosting darkens considerably after sitting. I made the frosting the day before and let it sit covered in the bowl on the counter and it went from very dark brown to black; so if you have time; make it the day before so you can gauge the blackness of the final product.
For decorating the galaxy look:
White vanilla purchased frosting (you want a white white color so your colors are not off) for coloring small bowls of divided frosting with electric blue, electric purple, and electric pink (all Americolor gel colors) to use for decorating the outside of the cake.
Note: I also used a small amount of silver luster dust mixed with bright white Americolor and vodka to achieve a thickened liquid consistency to “splatter” on the outside of the cake using a clean small paintbrush (that I buy in the craft store- and use solely for this purpose). Clean afterwards and you can reuse and store in your containers of gel colors to have handy.
To decorate; after your cake is smoothed with your final black frosting; smear on random small amounts about 1 inch of each colors randomly around the cake and gently smooth using your bench scraper going around the cake and adding in colors as needed to achieve your final look. Avoid smoothing too much; you want spots of color to show. I also add on some white frosting and gently smooth to get some gray color. While the frosting is still sticky; if you want toss against the sides with edible silver stars and splatter with your mixed silver luster dust/white gel color/vodka mix.
Fluffy Cream Cheese Filling
1/2 Cup unsalted butter, room temp
1 1/2 Cup confectioners sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. fresh lemon juice
8 oz. softened cream cheese, cut into small cubes
2 (6 oz.) containers fresh raspberries, washed and dried
In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment beat the butter on medium speed for 5 minutes. Add the confectioners sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and salt and decrease the speed to low and beat for one minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy; about 4 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium low and add in the cream cheese and beat until smooth, about one minute. Try not to overbeat as the frosting will become too loose if you fdo. Fill the cakes by gently spreading one half of the frosting over two of the cakes and placing the raspberries onto the frosting, and then gently smushing them down onto the frosting before topping with the next cake layer; repeat with the second cake layer, and top with the third cake layer and frost the outside of the cake with the black frosting and decorate as described above.
bonus photos of some galaxy macarons I made; but decided not to use in the end
If I crave something sweet it usually involves caramel, or chocolate and caramel. Admittedly I use have a jar of homemade caramel in my fridge. I know….It can be a problem, but there is nothing better than stirring it into hot coffee. I have tried brownie recipes before that involve a layer of caramel but it always seems to disappear and I had an idea of folding these delicious little nuggets into the batter; more of an experiment than anything to see if they would totally melt or not. These are the things that keep me up at night; recipe ideas that swirl in my head; will a Rolo candy melt into brownies or not. Weirdness factor 10 out of 10 I’m aware. But this is when I usually get my best ideas; laying in bed at night pondering life’s mysteries.
So you know I HAD to try it out. Oh my….they retain their shape and that little bit of chewy goodness is divine when married with a fudgy brownie. This recipe is great if you like fudgy brownies; feel free to experiment and fold in other things like toasted walnuts or dried cherries if you want to play around and eliminate the Rolo candies. It’s a great base recipe if you need brownies for a crowd. If you want an 8×8 pan instead; just cut the recipe in half.
Rolo Fudgy Brownies
1 Cup all purpose- flour
1/2 Cup Dutch process cocoa powder [I used Hershey’s extra dark]
1 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 3/4 Cup granulated sugar
1/2 Cup dark brown sugar, packed
6 large eggs, room temperature
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 Cup unsalted butter
8 oz. 60 % bittersweet chocolate
2 oz. milk chocolate
2 Tbsp. sunflower, grapeseed, or vegetable oil
10 oz. unwrapped Rolo candies, divided
- Preheat the oven to 350° F degrees.
- Save the butter wrappers and use to grease all sides and bottom of 9×13 inch pan. Line the pan with parchment paper across the width of the pan leaving at least 2 inches of overhang.
- In a bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa, and salt, set aside.
- In a heat proof bowl place the chocolate(s), butter and oil and place over a pot of simmering water and stir until melted, then remove from the heat while you proceed with the next steps.
- In a stand mixer bowl place the eggs and the sugars; being careful to hand sift through the brown sugar to catch and smash any lumps of brown sugar. Using the paddle attachment, on high mix the eggs and sugars until the mixture has become creamy looking; about 3-5 minutes. Add in the vanilla. Stop the mixer and pour in the melted chocolate/butter-oil mixture.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the flour mixture until just combined. Fold in 5 oz. (half of your Rolo candies).
- Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan and smooth out so batter is level. Set the timer for 13 minutes and bake the brownies. While the brownies are baking take the other half of the reserved Rolo candies and cut half of them in half; (cutting from the top down); keeping the other 2.5 oz. whole.
- After 13 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle over the reserved 5 oz. of Rolo candies; randomly scattering over the top so you have both the full and half cut candies on top of the partially baked brownies. Immediately return the brownies to the oven and continue to bake about 25 minutes more; but checking them after 20 minutes to ensure they don’t overbake. Test with a wooden skewer and remove when you have moist crumbs.
- Allow the pan of brownies to cool completely over a wire rack. Once cooled; cut into squares.
recipe slightly adapted from Gimme Some Oven
2 1/2 Cup cake flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 3/4 Cups sugar, divided (use 1/4Cup for egg whites)
3 egg whites, room temp
pinch of cream of tartar
6 egg yolks, room temp
10 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled to sl. warm
1 Tbsp. vanilla
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 Cup golden rum
Spray a Bundt pan liberally with nonstick baking spray or butter. Add in a few tablespoons of sugar and coat the pan until the entire pan is coated; ensuring that you also get the middle core.
In a bowl combine the dry ingredients; including 1 1/2 cups sugar and whisk; set aside.
In a stand mixer bowl with the whisk attachment (make sure it is super clean) place the 3 egg whites and a pinch of cream of tartar and whisk until starts to get foamy. Gradually start adding the remaining1/4 cup of sugar about a tablespoon at a time until they reach stiff peaks. Scrape out the whipped egg whites into a medium bowl.
In the same mixer bowl (no need to clean) place the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl whisk together the egg yolks, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, rum, and melted butter. Pour in the egg mixture on medium low speed and mix for about 15 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and mix again for 15 seconds until combined. Stop the mixer and fold in 1/3 of the egg whipped egg whites to lighten the batter. Add in the rest of the whipped egg whites and gently fold through to combine. Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan and spread even on top. Bake in the center of the oven for about 40 minutes or until when a wooden skewer returns with moist crumbs.
While the cake is baking, make the butter rum syrup.
Remove the cake from the oven and let cool over a wire rack for a few minutes. Poke the cake all over with a long wooden skewer and then pour over 1/2 of the rum syrup. Let the cake rest for 30 minutes, then invert the cake a slowly pour over the remaining syrup and allow to soak in before serving. Cover any unfinished cake and leave at room temp so the cake does not dry out.
Butter Rum Syrup:
1/4 Cup water
1 Cup sugar
1/2 (1 stick unsalted butter)
6 Tbsp. rum (I used 3 Tbsp. Golden Rum and 3 Tbsp. Meyers dark rum)
In a small saucepan place the water and sugar and heat until sugar starts to dissolve; a few minutes. Add in the butter and heat until boiling; and continue to boil for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add in the rum and stir.
Sometimes you make something so simple that even you are surprised how tasty it is. This is the case of these little morsels. I made them for a party I catered which I made several mini desserts. It was a Fiesta themed party so I made these Pastelitas with sweetened cream cheese and guava paste. The flaky dough is something that comes together really quickly in a food processor or even in a large bowl if you don’t have one. They turn out flaky and the tang of the guava with the sweetened cream cheese pair really well together. I’m lucky that I live near some Hispanic markets and guava paste is readily available. If you have a Chinese grocery store too most often you can find the guava paste as well. I had some leftover dough so I also played around and made another version with fig jam and bleu cheese crumbles.
8 oz. unsalted butter, room temp
4 oz. cream cheese, room temp
1/4 Cup heavy cream
1 1/2 Cups + 2 Tbsp. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
In a food processor place the butter, cream cheese and cream and pulse to combine. Add in the flour and salter and process until it just comes together into a ball. Dump the dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap and cut into two equal pieces. Wrap each into a flat disc and chill for at least 30 minutes. While the dough is chilling; prepare the filling as below.
Working with one piece at a time, roll out to approx. 1/8 inch thick onto a lightly floured board. Cut into circles using a 3 1/2 inch fluted cutter. One one side place a small amount of cream cheese and top with a small amount of guava paste onto top; using a finger dipped in water to smush the paste down slightly into the cream cheese. Dip a finger into water run around the opposite edge of the pastry to help secure the edge when folded over. Fold over the pastry and crimp with a work dipped in flour. Pierce the top with a floured fork and brush with egg wash. Assemble a tray full then chill for 30 minutes before baking. Note: you can assemble these and freeze in a ziplock bag unbaked and bake off as desired.
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
3/4 tsp. vanilla
In a small bowl place the cream cheese and microwave a few seconds until soft. Mix in the sugar and vanilla and combine. Place in a pastry bag if desired for assembly.
7 oz. store bought Guava paste
2-3 tsp. water
Cut the guava paste into small cubes and place in a small bowl with the water and microwave about 10 seconds at a time and still until smooth. Let cool and place in a pastry bag for assembly.
one egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water.
Bake the pastries in a 375° F preheated oven until very light golden brown. Let cool and then dust with powdered sugar.
FYI- here’s a picture of my fig, chopped walnut, and bleu cheese version. Just combine a dark fig jam with some finely chopped walnuts and top with some blue cheese. Fold over and crimp in the same manner; brushing with egg wash and chill, then bake.
I might have a weakness for cheesecake; and might I note there is nothing easier than a good old 9×13 slap it in the pan, and pour it in, and bake dessert. Cheesecake in an oblong pan is like the kissing cousin of slab pie. but in my mind, even easier to pull off. Strawberries have been crazy cheap in my area lately. Last weekend I found 1 pound cartons for 50 cents. I grabbed two and threw them in the fridge not knowing what I had planned for them. A recipe popped up on my email for these squares from the New York Times. The original recipe calls for topping them with whipped cream and fresh strawberries. I decided instead to spread a classic sour cream topping in lieu of whipped cream. You could also make this in a standard springform pan as well. I tweaked it slightly by adding in some extra strawberry flavor (LorAnn Strawberry Bakery Emulsion) to punch up the strawberry-ness. You can skip that step if you cannot access the strawberry emulsion.
recipe adapted from New York Times
Strawberry Cheesecake Squares
11 oz. Shortbread Cookies (I used 2 packages of Pepperidge Farm brand)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 and grease or line with a parchment sling a 9×13 inch pan.
In a food processor grind the cookies and salt until you have fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse until combined.
Press the crust into the bottom of the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Cool completely while you prepare the filling.
24 oz. fresh strawberries, cleaned, hulled and halved
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
3 (8 0z.) packages cream cheese, room temp
5 large eggs, room temp
1 tsp. strawberry emulsion (LorAnn brand)
Fresh quartered/halved strawberries for garnish (optional)
In a 3 quart or medium pot, mix the strawberries and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the berries soften and mixture becomes saucy; about 8 minutes. Let cool for at least 15 minutes, then transfer a clean food processor bowl and puree until smooth and no longer chunky; tiny bits are fine. Pour into a large bowl and set aside.
To the food processor bowl, add in the cream cheese and 1 1/4 cups sugar and blend until smooth. Add in the eggs a couple at a time and blend until smooth. Add in the strawberry flavor emulsion and blend. Scrape down the sides of processor bowl and mix until all blended. Pour the cheese mixture into the strawberry mixture and fold until combined. Pour into the cooled crust and bake for 45-50 minutes until edges look set but the middle is very slightly jiggly. Note: I only baked mine for 45 minutes, but next time I will do a few mins. longer as I found the filling was still a little soft. While the cheesecake is baking stir together the sour cream topping. When the cheesecake is done, remove from the oven and gently dollop the topping on top and smooth evenly and to the edges with a small offset spatula. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 11-12 minutes.
Remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow to cool in the pan over a wire rack, then refrigerate over-night or for several hours until cutting into squares. Serve cold. Garnish with fresh strawberries as desired.
Sour Cream Topping
2 Cups sour cream, room temp
1/2 Cup sugar
pinch of kosher salt
1 tsp. vanilla
In a medium bowl stir together all the ingredients with a whisk.