Mini-Cakes for Jessica’s Virtual Shower

In just a few weeks my super sweet friend Jessica, from My Baking Heart, will be tying the knot with her fiance, Chris. She’s obviously a smart girl, because October is THE best time to get married. 🙂 To honor the beautiful bride-to-be, our friend Nikki, from Pennies on a Platter, organized a virtual bridal shower, and I couldn’t be more excited to participate!


(How ridiculously cute is this couple?! Click the picture to see even more of their unique engagement photo shoot)

Jessica is a Southern Belle and one of the most genuinely sweet ladies out there! One thing I really love about her is that she is just as passionate about cooking and baking as she is about football at her alma mater, TCU (Texas Christian University). When deciding what to make for her shower I wanted to tie together all of my favorite things about her! Something sweet, dainty, and, of course, purple!

The mini-cakes I decided on are like a cross between petit fours and Little Debbie zebra cakes. I decided to coat them with white chocolate ganache instead of poured fondant because…well, it just tastes better (and reminds me of zebra cakes, an old childhood lunch favorite!).  I won’t promise you that the white chocolate was much less work than poured fondant, but the taste was worth it in the end.

Congratulations, Jessica!! I am so happy for you and wish you a lifetime of happiness! To see what other bloggers made for this special occasion check out the round-up on Nikki and Jessica’s blogs!

 

 

Chocolate Hazelnut and Salted Caramel Chocolate Birthday Cake

It seems like every year someone asks me who will make my birthday cake. And I guess that makes sense, usually people enjoy letting other people do some of the work for their birthday (or maybe they just enjoy the cake?). But for me, more than half the fun comes from planning and making my cake.

Through out the year I keep mental notes of cakes and flavors that look or sound interesting and then a few weeks before my birthday I started planning what I actually want to do. Last year, I had ice cream on the brain. This year, I had gelato on the brain.

Back in San Diego there is a gelato shop that Jesse and I love. The location is awesome, right near La Jolla cove, so we would typically treat our selves after a nice evening of watching the waves and seals. The first time we went I got a scoop of salted caramel and scoop of chocolate hazelnut and I was immediately hooked. It became my standard order. Makes me drool just thinking about it! Like a match made in heaven!

With that in mind, I created the concept for this years cake. I.am.so.excited about how it turned out. The frosting is an absolute dream. Smooth and creamy with the perfect hint of hazelnut. The salty caramel is the perfect match. In fact, I’d like to go out on a limb and say that chocolate hazelnut and salted caramel is the new peanut butter and jelly. Finally, when we threw our party last month one of our guests brought us Ferrero Rocher candies and they were the perfect garnish. Happy Birthday to me!

 

White Cake with Lemon Curd Filling

Last week I told you about the birthday party that we threw for our friend. As much as I wanted to celebrate her birthday, I selfishly also wanted to throw the party so I could make a cake. I love making cakes and I just don’t have very many opportunities to do it. When I find an excuse to bake, I take it!

Mandy, the birthday girl, didn’t have any special requests for her cake. Just something sweet. With no requests, the possibilities seemed overwhelming. Of course I thought of several chocolate cake variations, but I do a lot of chocolate desserts, so I decided to take the road less traveled (for Jesse and I anyway). I am really happy that I decided to go with this non-chocolate cake. It was a nice light finish to our burrito bowl dinner and it was so pretty.

I did make a last minute decision to not use Swiss meringue buttercream (SMB) frosting. In the US, I’m not afraid of the eggs in SMB at all. I know the eggs in the US are safe. I am not as confident in the eggs here. I buy eggs from the refrigerated section but I’ve seen the same brand at other stores not refrigerated, so I’m not convinced they are kept that way through out shipping. I also know that in other countries it’s common to not keep eggs in the fridge. For just Jesse and I, I honestly wouldn’t put as much thought into it, but I was having 10 guests. The thought of a bad egg and all my guests getting sick – eek! Not a risk I was willing to take.

Anyway, SMB would be a great choice for this cake. The fluffy vanilla frosting I used also worked really well. I’ll leave a link for both recipes and you can decide for yourself! Also, I went grocery shopping with the birthday girl the night before the party and she picked out her favorite fruits for the top of the cake. Most any variety of fruits would work! The recipe I used called for a glaze over the fruit, but I didn’t want it to be too sweet so I skipped it and it was fine.

 

 

Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

This cake is a match made in heaven for me. It’s a rich, almost fudge like, cake topped with a light and creamy peanut butter frosting. I knew from the moment the photo loaded onto my screen that it would become one of my new favorite desserts. And I am pretty sure it has. Bonus, the size (an 8×8 pan) was perfect for us. We had an amazing dessert for a few days and no cake was wasted.

If your still looking for a dessert to bring to Memorial Day parties this weekend, make this! If you ask me, the true patriotic dessert has chocolate and peanut butter, not apples and spice. 🙂



Chocolate Cake with Smooth Peanut Butter Frosting

Ingredients
For the Cake
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup natural cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup water

For the Peanut Butter Frosting
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup egg whites (from about 2 large eggs)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

1/4 cup chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (about 1 3/4 ounces), for garnish
1/4 cup chopped unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts, for garnish

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray an 8×8 pan with non stick cooking spray. Add the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt to the 8×8 pan, whisk together. Make 3 wells in the dry ingredients, 1 large and 2 small. To the large well, add the vegetable oil. To the 2 smaller wells, add the vinegar and vanilla, separately. Pour the water into the pan and use a rubber spatula to stir together until there are no more streaks of flour. Spread the batter evenly in the pan.

Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean, just a few moist crumbs. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, set a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water, making sure the bowl does not actually touch the water. In the glass bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg whites. Continue whisking until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is warm and smooth to the touch. Remove the bowl from the sauce pan and either transfer to a standing mixer (with whisk attachment) or use a hand held mixer to beat on high speed about 5 minutes, or until the mixture is cool and thick. Beat in the vanilla, then the peanut butter. Beating on high until fully incorporated. With the mixer still on high add the butter, a few cubes at time, waiting until each addition is incorporated before adding the next. You should have a soft, smooth, creamy frosting. If it starts to look curdled as you add the butter, don’t worry (!!), just keep beating, it will come back together. Season with a small pinch of salt if needed.

Run a knife around the edges of the cake pan, then flip the cake out onto a serving plate. Spread the frosting over the cake. Garnish with chocolate shavings and peanuts, if desired.

Adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, originally from Bon Appetit