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
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.
I came across this black loose flavored tea while in the grocery store one day and it sounded so good, I bought it, but parked it in my pantry for the longest time. I finally decided it was time to put it to good use. I just love the flavor of tea infused into cake. It’s not the first time I have used this process for flavor. This particular combo pairs really well with the subtle flavor of the blackberry buttercream. The Husband is really picky when it comes to desserts; he will usually comment when he really likes something and this time he said this one was a “real winner”. I have to say I agree; the color of the cake is a bit strange because of the color it turns the milk when infused but don’t let that turn you off, it is sublime! The cake comes out super moist as well, so that’s always a plus. I went a bit strong I have to admit on the amount of the tea- but I really wanted the flavor to come through. If you want a more subtle flavor cake you can cut down to 3 tablespoons total if you prefer. Also- I added in a little bit of non infused tea to the cake so that it has those little bits of black flecks of the tea. (I know people will ask me why I did that, so that’s why I’m explaining it here). I get a lot of questions on why I do certain things and sometimes it’s just a whim that hits me when recipe developing, as in this case.
These would make adorable mini cupcakes as well for a party.
Earl Grey & Lavender Cake with Blackberry Buttercream
2 1/2 Cups all purpose flour
2 Cups sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tea bag of earl grey (cut open and contents removed) (I used Stash brand)
1 Cup milk (I used whole)
1/4 Cup loose (earl grey with lavender black tea)
1 Cup warm water
1/2 Cup grapeseed oil
1 Tbsp. vanilla
2 large eggs
purchased blackberry seedless preserves (I like Dickensons brand)
fresh blackberries (optional for serving and decorating the top of the cake)
Preheat the oven to 340° F and prepare three 6 x3 inch cake pans (If you don’t have 6×3 inch pans you can use 6×2 and divide batter into 4 pans instead) with non-stick baking spray and line with parchment circles. You may also divide batter into 8×2 inch pans or 9×2 evenly but will have to adjust your baking times. I used a little over 2 cups of batter into each 6×3 inch pans.
Heat the milk to a scald, remove from heat and steep the 1/4 cup loose tea in the milk for 15 minutes. Strain the tea and throw away the tea and keep the milk.
In the bowl of a stand mixer whisk together the first 5 ingredients.
In a large glass measuring cup or mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, water, eggs, and vanilla
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and beat on low to medium speed until combined; stopping the scrape down the sides to ensure you get everything combined well. Do not over beat.
Bake until tops of cakes are no longer wet looking and when touched lightly with a finger they spring back lightly, or a toothpick inserted comes out with a few moist crumbs. Let cakes cool in their pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes then remove to cool completely on the rack.
For my 6×3 inch pans, I baked at 340° F for 40 minutes, but all ovens are different so make sure to test cakes often so as not to overbake.
To assemble cake:
Pipe a dame of blackberry buttercream around the edge of a cake layer and spread a layer of blackberry preserves, then top with blackberry buttercream and gently spread the buttercream evenly over the preserves, then continue to layer in this manner until you reach the top layer and spread with just buttercream. Do a crumb coat of buttercream on top and sides and chill cake at least 30 minutes until you spread the remaining buttercream over sides and top and decorate as desired.
5 egg whites
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
4 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
1 tsp. vanilla
4-5 Tbsp of seedless blackberry preserves
optional lavender, regal purple, or violet gel food colors (I used a combination of to boost purple color)
Heat the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until temperature reaches 160 degrees. Whip with a whisk on medium-high speed until you reach a billowy meringue and meringue is cool and bottom of the bowl does not feel warm. Add butter in by tablespoons at a time and continue to beat until smooth. Add in vanilla and blackberry preserves a tablespoon at a time until fully incorporated. Stop and taste after 3 tablespoons of preserves to adjust flavor. You may not need all of the preserves to achieve the desired taste. I added a few drops of different purple gel colors to boost the color of my finished buttercream.
Do you know how hard it is to decorate a cake with caramel and not lick your fingers? The bad thing about caramel is it’s sticky and gets all over everything. The good thing about caramel is it’s sticky and gets all over everything.
Okay, I might have had a lick or two…
This past weekend I was invited to a Friendsgiving party so I wanted to bring something different besides the typical pie. I was planning on making my Pumpkin Orange Spice Cake, but the host said to please bring something without cinnamon or pumpkin, so that kind of killed that notion right there. Once I switched gears, it got me thinking of something everyone loves- salted caramel. If you decide to make the caramel you’ll most likely have some leftover, but that’s never a bad thing. You may also use purchased caramel sauce such one found by the ice cream isle, such as Smuckers brand.
Salted Caramel Toffee Crunch Cake
Make the Caramel Filling (salted version) used to flavor the buttercream) before starting the cake and allow to set at room temperature, or alternatively make the day before and store in the refridgerator. Bring to room temperature when ready to make the buttercream.
Brown Sugar Cake
3/4 C + 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. sunflower or vegetable oil
1/4 Cup packed dark brown sugar
1 1/4 Cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/4 Cup whole milk, room temp
1/4 Cup sour cream, room temp
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste
3 1/2 Cups cake flour, sifted
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
In a medium skillet melt the butter and stir continuously with a heat proof spatula over medium heat until the butter smells nutty and the butter turns foamy and brown bits form on the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl. Place the bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes to solidify while you prepare the pans and assemble your other ingredients.
Spray the cake pans with baking spray and place a parchment round in the bottom of each pan.
Preheat the oven to 325° F.
In a bowl sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.
Once the browned butter has solidified, remove it from the freezer and place it in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whip the butter until the browned bits in the butter are no longer visible and appear to have combined well. Add in the oil and stir. Turn off the mixer and place a sieve over the bowl and press the brown sugar through the sieve to remove and hard lumps. Mix the brown sugar and butter on medium speed until combined. Add in the granulated sugar slowly with the mixer running, stopping the mixer a few times to scrape down the sides and bowl of the mixer.
Add in the eggs one at a time until combined.
In a glass measuring cup whisk the milk, sour cream and vanilla bean paste.
With the mixer on low speed, add in a third of the flour mixture, alternating with the milk mixture in 2 increments, and ending with the flour mixture.
Pour the batter evenly between the four cake pans. Note: you may also divide the pans between two 9 inch pans instead.
Bake in a preheated oven for approx. 28 minutes or until the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and when touched the cake springs back. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for about 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Fill with the toffee crunch buttercream, and frost with the salted caramel buttercream (recipes below).
Swiss Meringue Buttercream (to be divided for both flavors)
6 egg whites from large eggs
5 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/2 Cup granulated sugar
Kosher salt to taste
1 tsp. vanilla
a recipe of my salted caramel filling or purchased caramel sauce such as Smuckers
1 1/4 Cups Finely chopped chocolate toffee such as Heath brand (hint: if you can find “bits of brickle” by Heath its easier)
In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the eggs whites and sugar and place over a pot with simmering water. Whisk the egg whites and sugar and heat until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is about 160 degrees F on an instant read thermometer* (*alternatively- you can feel the mixture with your first two fingers and if you don’t feel any sugar granules then it is ok). Turn off the heat. Attach the mixer bowl onto the mixer with the whisk attachment and whisk the mixture on medium until the bottom of the bowl is almost cool to the touch and the mixture has turned into a nice stiff meringue. This will take several minutes. With the mixer on medium high, add the softened butter one tablespoon at a time and continue to mix until all the butter is incorporated and the mixture is smooth. It will go through a curdled looking stage as it mixes; but don’t worry keep adding the butter and it will come together. Add in the vanilla and mix to combine.
Divide half of the buttercream evenly into a large bowl. Mix with the chopped toffee bits. This will be the filling.
Using the mixer, combine the remaining bowl of buttercream with salted caramel, stirring in 2 Tablespoons at a time and stopping and tasting until desired flavor is reached; adding in pinches of salt as necessary.
Assemble the cake with the toffee crunch buttercream as the filling and frost the outside of the cake with the salted caramel buttercream. Decorate as desired. Store the cake in the fridge until 1-2 hours prior to serving, remove the cake to come to room temperature.
I think everyone knows my obsession now with rose flavored desserts, and pistachio and rose are like BFF’s. Since I had some rose buttercream leftover from my macarons it gave me an idea to come up with a recipe for pistachio and rose cake. I still ended up making buttercream since my leftovers weren’t enough but no bother it was a good excuse to make a layer cake. A word to the wise since pistachios are a bit expensive- make sure you buy them from a purveyor who’s supply is quickly turned over and store them if not using right away in the freezer. I had bought some a while back (even stored them right away in the freezer) but when I thawed them they were rancid. It was from a bulk bin of nuts so I think they sat there a while. Anywho…I digress. This cake turned out to be one of my absolute favorites of all time. It kind of reminds me of the preppy pink and green from the 80’s. Muffy and Biff would be proud. I admit I bumped up the color of the cake with a bit of mint green gel food color just because I found it added that extra pretty preppy punch from being nicely dressed to va va voom.
Pistachio Cake, Rose~Pistachio Buttercream
yield: 8 inch 3 layer cake or ~ 24 cupcakes
3 Tbsp. Confectioners sugar
1 C + 2 Tbsp. unshelled pistachio pieces (I get mine from Trader Joes)
3 Cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp. + 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 C sugar
1 Cup + 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temp
4 1/2 large eggs
1 Cup + 2 Tbsp. whole milk, room temp
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 tsp. pure almond extract
mint green gel food coloring (optional)
In a food processor place the confectioners sugar and the pistachios and grind/pulse until finely chopped with some nuts being ground into a coarse powder. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Prepare 3 eight inch cake pans with baking spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper and spray lightly again. Note: If you only have 2 pans, you may bake the third one separately after allow the pans to cool.
In a separate bowl place the flour, baking powder, and salt and stir to combine well. Set aside.
Cream the sugar and the butter until soft and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat on medium speed until combined. Note: mixture will look somewhat curdled (don’t worry-mixture will come together). Add in half of the flour mixture on medium speed, stopping to scrape down the mixer bowl as needed. In a glass measuring cup mix the extracts with the milk. With the mixer running, stream in the milk and beat on low speed until combined. Add in the last half of the flour mixture and beat until combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down sides and bottom of bowl to combine everything well. Add in the ground nut mixture and fold with a rubber spatula until combined. Divide the batter evenly among the 3 pans. Bake in preheated oven for ~ 24 minutes or until the cake has a few moist crumbs when pierced with a wooden skewer, or when pressed lightly the cake springs back. Allow the cakes to cool on a wire rack until cool.
Pistachio Sugar Syrup (optional)
1 Cup water
1 Cup sugar
4 drops Pistachio flavored concentrated essential oil for baking (such as Lorann brand) (found in cake supply stores)
Boil the water and sugar until the sugar dissolves, then allow the mixture to cool for 15 minutes and add in the drops of the pistachio flavored oil.
1/2 Cup shelled unsalted & roasted pistachio nuts
6 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. pistachio oil (or vegetable oil)
1. Prepare a sheet pan with either a Silpat or by lightly greasing with vegetable oil.
2. Pour the water in a saucepan and then add the sugar. With a clean finger mix the sugar and water until it looks like wet sand. Have a cup of water with a clean pastry brush placed in the cup. Bring the sugar to a boil stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once sugar dissolves-stop stirring. If sugar crystals form along the sides of the pan; use the wet pastry brush to let water drip down to dissolve the crystals. Continue to cook until the mixture comes to a light caramel color. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the nuts. Return to the heat and cook until comes to a medium amber color. Working quickly- pour the nut mixture onto prepared pan and with a heat proof spatula do your best to flatten out nuts. Allow the nuts to cool until they become hard.
3. Once mixture is hard and completely cooled- use your hands to break apart any large clumps. Place the mixture in a food processor and pulse several times to initially break up the mixture. Proceed to process the mixture until it starts to form a thick paste. When the blade no longer seems to move add the oil and continue to process until as smooth as possible. Leftover should be stored in an airtight container in the freezer.
5 egg whites
1 1/2 Cups sugar
4 sticks unsalted butter, cool but not cold
2 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. pistachio paste
1/4 + 1/8 tsp. Rose water (I like Nielsen Massey brand)
mint green gel food color
deep pink gel food color
In the bowl of a stand mixer combine egg whites and sugar. Set over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk until mixture is hot and sugar is dissolved. Remove bowl and place on mixer and beat until stiff meringue forms and bottom of mixer bowl is cool to touch; about 5 minutes. Add softened butter one tablespoon at a time until all is incorporated. Add vanilla, then beat until smooth. Divide buttercream evenly into two bowls.
To one bowl add the pistachio paste and mix well with a spoon or spatula. Add in a tiny bit of mint green gel color using a toothpick, and stir to combine. Add more a little at a time until desired color is achieved.
In the other bowl add the rose water and stir to combine. Add in the deep pink gel color using a toothpick, and stir evenly to combine until desired color is achieved.
If using the simple syrup: brush each cake liberally with the syrup and allow to seep into the cake a while before stacking and assembling the cake.
Fill a piping bag with each pistachio buttercream and rose buttercream side by side. Using a spiral technique pipe a layer of buttercream over the surface of cake round and stack the next round of cake on top. Continue til all three are stacked. Pipe rows of alternating flavored buttercream onto sides and top of cake and smooth as necessary to create a two toned affect.
I’ve always been a person that is mostly “out of the box”. I tend to think a bit differently than your average Joe, so when I saw this recipe for a stump de noel vs. the traditional buche de noel, I was intrigued. It’s a very striking dessert that has that “wow factor” when you’re called to bring the dessert for the Christmas party or family gathering. It requires quite a bit of work, but you can scatter the work over a few days time so on the day of assembly you can just focus on pulling it together. It’s best to read through the recipe a few times so you understand all that is required. You can make the buttercreams 2-3 days ahead and keep chilled; when it comes time to assemble you’ll have to let the buttercream come to room temperature and rewhip with the stand mixer. The meringue mushrooms and the sugared decorations can be made a couple days before. The assembled cake requires chilling so plan to assemble it the day before service, and assemble on the platter that you’ll be serving it on-I used a large square platter that I found with room on the sides for the pretty garnishes.
Stump de Nöel
recipe: Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, pages 144-145
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 pound bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
- 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 1/4 cup of hot water
- 1 dozen large eggs, at room temperature, separated
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Malted Buttercream and Dark Chocolate Buttercream
- Meringue mushrooms, candied cranberries and candied rosemary sprigs, for garnish (optional; see Note)
Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter two 12-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheets and line them with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang on all of the short sides. Butter the paper and dust with flour.
In a small bowl, whisk the 1 cup of flour with the cocoa and salt. In another small bowl, combine the chocolate and espresso. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, combine the egg yolks with 2/3 cup of the sugar. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Transfer the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk and beat at high speed until the yolks are pale and thick, about 5 minutes. Beat in the melted chocolate mixture along with the vanilla. Transfer to a large bowl.
Thoroughly wash and dry the mixer bowl and the whisk. Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar on moderately high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 2/3 cup of sugar and continue beating at high speed until the whites are glossy, about 2 minutes longer. Whisk one-fourth of the egg whites into the cake batter, then fold in the remaining whites until no streaks remain.
In a small bowl, whisk the melted butter with 1/2 cup of the batter; fold this mixture into the batter. Working in 2 batches, sift the cocoa powder mixture over the batter and gently fold it in. Divide the batter between the prepared pans, spreading it out to fill the pans. Bake for about 18 minutes, until the cake feels springy and dry; shift the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Transfer the pans to racks to cool completely. Run the tip of a knife around the edges, cover with parchment paper and a baking sheet and invert; peel off the parchment on top.
Spread the Malted Buttercream over the cakes. Using a ruler, cut each cake precisely in half lengthwise, cutting through the paper; you should have four 6-by-17-inch strips of cake. Roll one strip into a tight coil, leaving the paper behind. Roll the 3 remaining cake strips around the coil in the same way to form a very wide, short jelly roll. Set the cake on a large plate, spiraled end up. Frost the outside of the cake with the Dark Chocolate Buttercream. Refrigerate until set, at least 8 hours. Decorate the cake with meringue mushrooms, cranberries and rosemary sprigs and serve, cutting the cake into wedges or horizontal slices.
FOR THE DARK CHOCOLATE AND MALTED BUTTERCREAMS
5 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 ounces good-quality dark chocolate (60-72%), melted and cooled
1/4 cup malt powder
12 malted milk balls candies, crushed
MAKE THE DARK CHOCOLATE AND MALTED BUTTERCREAMS
In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, combine the egg whites and sugar. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are just warm to the touch. Return the bowl to the mixer and fit it with the whisk attachment. Add the vanilla and beat the egg whites at high speed until firm and glossy, about 5 minutes. With the machine running, whisk in the butter a few tablespoons at a time. If the mixture begins to look curdled, continue to beat until smooth before adding more butter.
Transfer 1 1/2 cups of the buttercream to a bowl and whisk in the melted chocolate. Cover the chocolate buttercream and refrigerate.
Dissolve the malt powder in 2 tablespoons hot water, then beat it into the buttercream remaining in the mixer. Beat in the crushed milk balls. Cover the malt buttercream and refrigerate.
Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, pages 194-195
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
¾ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 ounce good-quality white chocolate, melted and cooled (I actually used semisweet)
2 ounces dark unsweetened cocoa powder, (like Valrhona) for sifting over assembled mushrooms
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in the heat proof bowl of a standing mixer. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (double boiler method). Cook, whisking constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture registers 140 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, 6 to 8 minutes.
Transfer the bowl to a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat it on high speed until stiff peaks form. Add the cream of tartar when the mixture begins to thicken, or after 3 minutes. Keep beating for another minute or so until stiff peaks hold.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip with the meringue. To make the caps, hold the pastry bag close to the parchment paper-lined pan and pipe out a small dome (about a tablespoon) of meringue, pulling up at the very end of piping to give your cap some height.
To form mushrooms stems, hold the bag close to the parchment paper and pipe the meringue, pulling up as you go, into small cone shapes. Make the same number of stems as caps.
Place the pans in the oven and bake the meringue pieces for 90 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway thought the baking time. Turn off the oven, prop the door slightly open and leave the meringues in place for at least 2 hours longer, or overnight.
ASSEMBLE THE MERINGUE MUSHROOMS
Turn the caps over and use a toothpick to make a tiny hole large enough to fit the tip of the stem into. Fill the hole with a tiny bit of white chocolate (or semi sweet-which is what I used). Gently press the stem into place and allow the chocolate to set. Sift cocoa powder over the assembled mushrooms.
Sugared cranberries and sugared rosemary
¼ cup superfine sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cinnamon stick
¾ cup fresh cranberries
10 rosemary sprigs
Line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper. Place the superfine sugar in a small bowl.
In a medium saucepan, stir together 1 cup of water with the sugar, then add the cinnamon stick. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and pour into a heatproof, wide-mouthed bowl. Let the liquid cool for a few minutes, then remove the cinnamon stick.
Drop the cranberries in the syrup and stir to coat the cranberries completely. Remove the cranberries, a few at a time, with a slotted spoon (tap the spoon to release excess syrup) and drop them in the superfine sugar. Toss the cranberries in the sugar to coat completely, and place on the parchment paper to dry. Repeat the above procedure with the rosemary. Decorate the stump as you wish.
I haven’t made a layer cake in a while, but for some reason I was feeling it. My lemon tree is dropping lemons like grenades every four seconds right now as it’s time for the ol’ tree to shed all of it’s lemons, so after making what seemed like endless pitchers of lemonade, I decided a lemon cake was in order. This cake is super fun to make because of the speckled decorating part. It’s a bit of an ambitious cake, so by all means make parts of it ahead; such as the filling and the cake a day before if you like. Just make sure to wrap the cakes well in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge. I even brushed the cakes with the syrup the day before and wrapped the cakes each separately in plastic wrap and chilled in the fridge. If you’re not feeling that ambitious you can of course buy a store bought cake mix such as vanilla- and use that (I won’t judge)- but by all means make the buttercream yourself as you’ll want that amazing vanilla flavor that you can’t get from store bought.
For pure white looking layers- use a sharp knife to cut off the browned areas of the cakes from top, bottom and sides.
Speckled Easter Egg Cake: Lemon-Vanilla Cake
yield: 4 layer 6 inch cake or 2 layer 9 inch cake
Lemon Vanilla Cake
1 Cup unsalted butter, room temp (227 g)
1 1/2 C sugar (300 g)
finely grated lemon zest of 2 lemons
6 large egg whites, room temp
3 1/4 C sifted cake flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. pure lemon extract
1 1/3 C whole milk (320 ml), room temp
Optional for finished garnish: toasted coconut and Cadbury mini chocolate Easter eggs
Prepare four 6 inch cake pans with baking spray; bottom and sides (that contains flour) or grease and flour pans. Line bottom of each pan with parchment paper. You can use 2 nine inch cake pans also if you don’t want to make a six inch tall cake.
In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
In the bowl of stand mixer place the sugar and lemon zest and rub the sugar and lemon zest together with fingers to release natural oils in lemon zest. Add in the softened butter and using paddle attachment cream on medium speed until fluffy; about 2 minutes. Add in the egg whites one at a time and mixing until incorporated. Stir in the vanilla and lemon extracts.
Add in flour mixture in 3 additions alternating with milk; beginning and ending with flour mixture. Note: I like to fold in the flour mixture and milk with a spatula by hand first then gently turn on the mixer and beat gently- This ensures a lighter cake and avoids over beating the batter and helps that the crumb stays light and soft. Divide the batter evenly between the pans.
Bake the pans in a preheat 350° F oven for 27-29 minutes or until the cake springs back when pressed gently with a finger. The cakes will just start to pull away from the sides of the pans. Do NOT overbake. Cool the cakes in the pans for about 15 minutes, then turn out and allow to cool completely.
1/2 Cup sugar
1/2 Cup water
4 one inch strips of fresh lemon peel (careful to make sure no white pith remains)
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
In a glass measuring cup place the sugar, water, and lemon peel and microwave on high until sugar dissolves. Let lemon peel steep for 15 minutes, then remove. Stir in lemon juice. You can do this a day or two before to save time.
Note: any leftover syrup you can strain to remove any cake crumbs , keep chilled in the fridge and use in iced tea.
Lemon Cream Filling
3 oz. cream cheese, room temp
9 Tbsp. heavy cream, cold
1 1/2 tsp. nonfat dried milk powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 Cup purchased Lemon Curd (I like Dickinsons brand)
Beat the heavy cream and dried milk powder on high speed using an electric hand mixer to stiff peaks. Move the whipped cream to a separate bowl and chill while proceeding. and using the same mixer bowl (no need to wash), beat cream cheese on medium speed for 2 minutes. On low speed, beat in vanilla. Add in the lemon curd and beat until well incorporated and smooth. Fold in the cold whipped cream by hand until mostly blended (don’t overmix), and cover and chill while making buttercream. Note: you can make a day or two ahead if desired and keep covered and chilled.
Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
5 large egg whites
1 Cup + 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
4 sticks unsalted butter
2 tsp. vanilla bean paste or vanilla, or seeds of one vanilla bean + 1 tsp. vanilla
Sky blue gel food coloring
In the bowl of a stand mixer combine egg whites and sugar. Set over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk until mixture is hot and sugar is dissolved. Remove bowl and place on mixer and beat until stiff meringue forms and bottom of mixer bowl is cool to touch; about 5 minutes. Add softened butter one tablespoon at a time until all is incorporated. Add vanilla, then beat until smooth.
Note: Reserve about a cup of the buttercream (before coloring blue) to pipe a dam of buttercream on 3 of the layers to “hold” in the lemon cream layer.
To color the buttercream: Beat in one drop at a time of gel color until desired color is achieved. [I ended up using about 6 drops, but go SLOW and add a tiny bit at a time]. Note: the color of the buttercream will deepen in color about 1-2 shades as it sits.
Cocoa Speckle for decorating
1 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1 1/2 Tbsp. vanilla
small clean brush for decorating (I used a never used clean toothbrush)
In a small bowl whisk together the cocoa and vanilla. To “speckle” lay down wax paper underneath your work area and dip your brush into the mixture and then dab the brush onto the wax paper to remove any excess. You don’t want it too thick- if too thick you’ll end up with huge spots or unattractive drips. Practice first a few times on the wax paper-you’ll want to use your index finger to quickly flick the bristles of the brush about an inch away from the cake. It’s also best to whisk your cocoa mixture from time to time to prevent it from becoming too thick-you may need to add a few TINY drops of water occasionally if needed. If you end up with a real bad boo boo just chill the cake then use a small offset spatula to lift off any spots you don’t want. Note: you WON’T taste any cocoa flavor in the finished product.
To Assemble: Brush each layer of cake with the lemon syrup. Pipe a ring of “dam” of vanilla buttercream on 3 of the layers to hold in the lemon cream filling. Spread the lemon cream inside the dam of buttercream and continue stacking until you reach the top layer. Apply a crumb coat of buttercream and chill the cake for about 30 minutes. Continue frosting the top and sides of the cake.
Make the cocoa speckle mixture and speckle the top and sides of the cake as noted above. (Note- I find it helpful to lay down a few sheets of wax paper as you will get speckles of brown on your work area).
Garnish the top of the cake by toasting small amount of sweetened coconut in the oven at 350° F for about 6 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Top off with a few of mini candy coated Easter eggs.