Category Archives: Cakes | Cupcakes | Muffins

Birthday Cake!

This cake is pure decadence!

It’s a vanilla sponge cake perfumed with strawberries and raspberries. The filling is a light and refreshing strawberry Bavarian cream, with a luscious layer of vanilla whipped cream.  The finishing touches are macarons, meringues, fresh berries, candied orange peel and fresh basil.

Truly a cake lover’s dream!

Birthday Cake 2014

 

Birthday Cake 2014

Birthday Cake!

This was my second birthday cake!  A totally different cake from the first, both in design and taste.  It’s a raspberry vanilla cake, filled with lemon curd, and iced with American buttercream.  The cake is very sweet, but balanced with tart flavors.

Birthday Cake 2014

 

Birthday Cake 2014

Sticky Toffee Pudding – Pure Decadence!

Sticky Toffee Pudding Sticky Toffee Pudding is one of the most decadent and delicious desserts on this planet … okay, that’s a bit dramatic, but the first time I tried this dessert, I was hooked!

Who knew that a cake made with dates could taste so scrumptious??? H couldn’t even detect the taste of dates.

I’ve tried so many recipes, but the one I keep coming back to is from the Barefoot Contessa. Her recipe makes 2 cakes, but I easily cut it in half. H loves the toffee sauce so much that I make extra and freeze it (it is simply amazing on vanilla ice cream with toasted pecans!)

Please don’t try to serve this extremely moist cake (I don’t know why it’s called a pudding?) without the toffee sauce; it will taste really, really bland. And yes, the fresh whipped cream is a must!! Or, even a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Sticky Toffee Pudding is a very filling dessert so I like to serve it after a light lunch or dinner. Oh heck, I’ve even eaten it several times for breakfast and any time in between!!

The cakes can be made in any size (round, square or muffin tins). I used my jumbo cupcake pans because one small muffin size is NOT enough! The cakes and sauce freeze really well – just thaw and heat in the microwave for a minute or two. There have been times when I craved the toffee sauce for another dessert, and I just scooped it straight out of the container from the freezer (use a very strong and sturdy spoon) and microwaved it!

I just know you’ll fall in love with Sticky Toffee Pudding … we have!

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Makes two 9” cakes or 20 muffin sized cakes
Adapted from barefootcontessa.com

Ingredients

  • 2½ cups all purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups dates, pitted and chopped
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3¼ tbsp baking powder

Toffee Sauce

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup heavy cream (35%)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Butter and flour two 9” round cake pans or 20 muffin tins
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt and set aside
  4. Place the dates in a large saucepan with 3 ½ cups cold water. Bring to a boil, stirring a little to break up the dates. Watch carefully as it can boil over. Simmer for 1 minute before removing from the heat. Stir in the baking soda (this will cause the mixture to bubble up) so stir carefully but quickly. Set aside
  5. Cream the butter and sugar together in a stand or electric mixer until creamy
  6. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides and middle of the mixing bowl after each addition
  7. Add the vanilla extract and then the flour mixture and mix briefly, the batter will be lumpy
  8. Add the warm date mixture in two batches. Scrape down the sides and middle of the bowl in between mixing. The dough will now be quite watery (this is normal)
  9. Add the baking powder (this will bubble up also)
  10. Pour the batter evenly into the two pans or muffin tins
  11. Bake for approximately 30-40 minutes for cake pans and about 20 minutes for muffin tins. Test if they are cooked with a small toothpick, it should come out clean when cakes are done

Toffee Sauce

Combine the butter, brown sugar, heavy cream and vanilla extract in a medium saucepan
Bring to a boil and whisk gently, then reduce to simmer for a minute or two until thickened and well mixed. Be careful as this mixture will become very hot (use caution when whisking).

Optional:

When the cakes are done, poke little holes all over with toothpick, this will enable the sauce to be absorbed more easily. Pour the toffee sauce over cakes while both are still warm and leave to soak for about 10 minutes. Turn the cakes out upside-down onto serving plates.  Serve with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

Note:

I like to serve the cakes with the toffee sauce poured over the cakes, but it’s entirely up to you 🙂

Kitchen note:

  • I cut this recipe in half and it makes 1 round or square cake, or 8 jumbo cupcakes

Moist and Flavorful Blueberry Muffins!

Moist and Flavorful Blueberry Muffins!

I get asked all the time for the best blueberry muffin recipe. But, what one person thinks is the best, another might find just average. I have tried over a dozen recipes and have yet to find one that I love enough to share!

I continued my search and Googled for the best moist blueberry muffin and kept going until I reached page 11! I’m not a professional baker, but I can easily tell from reading the ingredient list what the results might be.

After baking several batches of unsuccessful muffins, here’s what I found:

• Muffins made with oil – moist but bland
• Muffins made with butter – good, but by day 2, they were stale
• Adding yogurt or sour cream – excellent, but some recipes call for too much and the result is a tangy muffin 😦

So here it is – a recipe that I truly love!

I made some changes, and H declared the muffins were delicious and good enough to post! I reduced the sugar, added lemon zest and a touch of cinnamon to the batter. I used frozen blueberries (fresh will work just as well). Most recipes call for tossing the blueberries in flour to prevent your muffins from turning purple, but I have a better trick.   I don’t want to add extra flour to the batter and I also don’t mind the purple color, so I scoop the batter into prepared muffin tins, sprinkle with frozen or fresh blueberries, then I use a toothpick and poke them down. Add a few more on top and that’s it! Just don’t put the blueberries on the bottom of the muffin tins and then add your batter, I tried this and the blueberries stuck to the bottom of each muffin 😦

My first bite delivered a crunchy top and a super moist muffin, full of flavor, with subtle hints of cinnamon and lemon zest! After eating one, I definitely craved a second!

Here’s the real test … the next day, the muffins were still moist!  I hope you’ll give this recipe a try!

Moist and Flavorful Blueberry Muffins!

Makes 10-12 muffins
Recipe adapted from sallysbakingaddiction.com

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • ½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar (if you like a sweeter muffin, use 1/2 cup)
  • ¼ cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • ½ cup plain yogurt (I used Balkan style 7%, but low-fat or Greek is fine)
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups fresh or frozen blueberries (if using frozen, do not thaw)
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line muffin pan with 12 paper liners
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Add lemon zest and set aside
  3. In a medium bowl using a hand or stand mixer, beat butter on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute
  4. Add both sugars and beat for 2 minutes on high speed until creamy, scraping down sides of bowl as needed
  5. Add eggs, yogurt, milk, vanilla extract and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as you go along
  6. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold gently with a spatula, do not overmix! You should still have flour streaks in your batter. Again, please do not overmix! You’ll end up with tough and dense muffins
  7. Using an ice cream scooper, fill muffin cups almost to the top
  8. Sprinkle fresh or frozen blueberries on each muffin and use a toothpick to gently push them down. Leave a few showing
  9. Bake at 425°F for 5 minutes, then turn heat down to 350°F and continue baking until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. This can take anywhere from 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven temperature. Watch carefully! I usually do the toothpick test a few times. Please don’t overbake these muffins or they will be dry.
  10. Let cool slightly before devouring (if you can wait that long)!

Kitchen notes:

  • Store cooled muffins in a tight fitting container at room temperature for a few days. Reheat in the microwave for a few seconds
  • Wrap each muffin in plastic wrap and then place in a freezer safe container such as Lock & Lock. Muffins will freeze well for several months

Cupcakes and Sprinkles!

Sprinkles

Sprinkles can elevate your cupcakes from plain to awesome! It’s the easiest way to decorate, and the choices are overwhelming! A trip to my local Bulk Barn store resulted in bags and bags full of colorful confetti sequins, jimmies, nonpareils, pearl dragees, and decorating sugar in so many colors ….

I came home and didn’t know what to do with them! Although I personally don’t like sprinkles (I can’t get past the crunch), the world would be pretty boring without some sparkle and color!

When I bake treats for my friends and their kids, I bring out my sprinkles and go crazy.

Here are a few of what I think you’d crave!

Kitchen note:
Vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream, decorated with Wilton 1M tip.

Cupcakes and Sprinkles

DSC_0432-PM-001

Cupcakes and Sprinkles!

Cupcakes and Sprinkles!

 

Cupcakes and Sprinkles!

 

 

 

 

 

German Chocolate Cupcakes – So Decadent!

German Chocolate Cupcakes

I remember eating German Chocolate cake while on our honeymoon in Maui, and falling in love (yes with H, but also with the cake).

It’s been ages since I’ve made it, and while it can be labour-intensive, it’s so worth the time. If you toast the nuts and make the frosting first, you’ll be ahead of the game!

Getting back to the German Chocolate cake … H thought it was from Germany, but it was originally made with dark chocolate by an American chocolate maker named Sam German. So, it’s more of an American cake.

The frosting, which is made from coconut and pecans, is quite the icing on the cake! If you’re not a fan of nuts or coconut, then this cake is not for you though 😦

I was watching Barefoot Contessa a few days ago (I love her show), and she made German Chocolate Cupcakes with a twist. There was no German chocolate in her recipe, and she added almonds with a touch of almond extract. I had to make them!

Thankfully, I read the reviews from other bakers on her recipe, so I knew I wanted to cut the recipe in half. 14 jumbo cupcakes are way too many, even for a cake lover! With a bit of math, I ended up with 11 regular-sized cupcakes. I also cut the frosting in half, and it was just enough. I would not recommend using the full amount of almond extract; it’s too overpowering.

I could hardly wait to bite into the cupcakes, so I chilled the frosting since it was still a bit warm.  Do you see the wooden spoon?  After I scooped the mixture into a bowl to cool, I intentionally left a good amount on my spoon …  mmm!  A delicious taste test!

The cupcakes were so chocolaty, but not too sweet. I’m so glad because it would have been over the top with such a decadent frosting.

German Chocolate Frosting

The cupcakes were so chocolaty, but not too sweet. I’m so glad because it would have been over the top with such a decadent frosting.

German Chocolate Cupcake

German Chocolate Cupcakes

Adapted from Ina Garten
Makes 14 jumbo cupcakes

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 extra-large eggs (or 3 large eggs), at room temperature
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken, at room temperature
  • ½ cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp freshly brewed coffee
  • 1-3/4 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 cup good quality unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1- ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt

Coconut Frosting

  • ¾ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1-1/4 cups light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 4 extra-large egg yolks (I just used regular sized egg yolks)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp pure almond extract
  • 2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 cup blanched sliced almonds, toasted
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line jumbo cupcake pans with 14 or 15 paper liners or 2 regular cupcake pans with 22 – 24 paper liners
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl
  3. Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs one at a time, then add extracts and mix well
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee
  5. In a third bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt
  6. With the mixer on low, add the buttermilk and flour mixtures alternately in thirds, beginning with the buttermilk and ending with the flour. Don’t over mix!
  7. Fold the batter a few times with a rubber spatula to be sure all ingredients are combined (I still had butter on the bottom of my bowl!)
  8. Scoop the batter into the cupcake liners using an ice cream scooper
  9. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean Cool for 10 minutes, remove from the pans, and allow to cool completely before frosting

Coconut Frosting

  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat
  2. Whisk in the evaporated milk, brown sugar, and egg yolks and bring to a simmer over medium heat
  3. Simmer, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 15 minutes, until slightly thickened. If the mixture looks a bit curdled, beat it vigorously with a whisk
  4. Off the heat, stir in the vanilla extract, almond extract, coconut, almonds, pecans, and salt
  5. Allow to cool for about an hour
  6. Frost the cupcakes with a knife or small metal spatula

Kitchen notes:

  • I cut the recipe in half and came out with 11 regular-sized cupcakes.  Bake time was approximately 16 – 18 minutes.  To cut the 2 extra-large eggs in half, I used 1 large egg and for the 2nd egg, just break into a bowl, mix with a fork and eyeball half of it.  I have no patience to convert butter into tablespoons when my butter comes in cup sizes, so I just used ½ cup butter.  12 tablespoons equals the amount in the recipe, but if you cut the recipe in half, 6 tablespoons equals ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons, so I just used ½ cup.  The recipe came out great!
  • I would not suggest using the full amount of almond extract indicated in the “original” recipe, it will be too overpowering.  If making the full recipe, use ¼ tsp.  If making half the recipe, like I did, use 1/8 tsp, or omit all together
  • I did not have 2 tablespoons of cooled coffee on hand, nor would it have been fresh!  I just added 1 teaspoon of instant espresso powder to the dry ingredients
  • My range is quite new so I didn’t have to simmer the frosting for the full 15 minutes.  I cooked it for about 8 minutes, until the back of a spoon is coated.  Don’t use high heat
  • If the frosting hasn’t cooled after 1 hour, place it in the fridge for a bit
%d bloggers like this: