Learning to bake fearlessly <3

Posts tagged ‘swiss meringue buttercream’

A milestone: Chocolate layer cake with mocha fudge filling and kahlua espresso swiss meringue buttercream


My birthday’s coming up fast! I’m about to turn 21, the last of the “Oh boy! Now I can do things!” birthdays. It’s a milestone I’ve been looking forward to for a while, truth be told. There’s a kind of chocolate wine at the grocery store I’ve been eyeing up for ages. ;) And another milestone is coming with it! I’m making my own birthday cake this year. It’s kind of intimidating, but I think I can do it. And if I can’t, not a huge deal! That’s part of what this blog is about–learning to get past my mistakes and keep on baking fearlessly.

My original idea was to make a boozy cake, but I knew my little sister wouldn’t want to eat it then. So it became the practice cake. Funnily enough, I found the perfect filling recipe only about an hour before I decided to start baking! It was like it was meant just for me, decadent fudge with just a little bit of coffee to it. And the swiss meringue buttercream was an absolute must. I haven’t made it in ages, and it was high time to start again with it. I played with the recipe a little because I didn’t have quite enough eggs for my usual one, and I ended up liking it a lot! Note: the black flecks you see in the frosting are ground coffee. I threw some in, but I would omit it next time since it gave some bites a weird gritty texture. I’ve omitted it in the recipe. It comes out gorgeous, light and fluffy and deliciously tasting of kahlua. The chocolate cake is the first recipe I posted on the blog. The character on top is Azula from Avatar: The Last Airbender, done in homemade marshmallow fondant (recipe to follow in another post). I’m on a huuuuuge Legend of Korra kick after the finale, so I’ve been rewatching both series lately. :D All together, it’s heavenly. And while it’s not perfect-looking, it’s pretty good for a first try! I’m completely satisfied. And I can only get better from here!

Dark chocolate cake
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup dutch-process cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 4.3 oz box chocolate pudding mix
2 eggs
1 cup black coffee
1 cup milk, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Makes enough for two thick 8″ layers or three regular ones

Adapted from Sweetapolita

Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease or butter&flour your cake pans. Whisk together the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the wet ingredients and mix on lowest setting with the paddle attachment until just combined, then at medium speed (around 6 on a Kitchenaid mixer) for two minutes. The batter will be thin, that’s fine. Pour into your pans and bake around 37 minutes for a thick layer or 28 minutes for a thin one. Stick these in the freezer (if you plan to stack them, wrap in plastic wrap first) while you make the frosting and filling.

Kahlua espresso swiss meringue buttercream
8 large egg whites (set one yolk aside for the mocha fudge filling)
2 cups granulated sugar
6 sticks (2 pounds) unsalted butter, not cold, cut into cubes
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tbsp kahlua coffee liqueur
1 tbsp instant espresso (I used mocha flavor)
Makes enough to frost and fill an 8″ layer cake

I always cube and set out my butter on a plate first thing, and let it warm up while I work on the rest. Wipe out your mixer bowl and mixer attachments VERY well, making sure there’s no trace of grease. The first thing you’re going to do is make a meringue, and any grease could cause it to fail. Heat a large pot with an inch or so of water on the stove until it’s just simmering—we don’t want to cook our egg whites. Add the egg whites and sugar to your mixer bowl and whisk constantly until the sugar is melted and the egg whites are warm.

Stick your bowl on your mixer with whisk attachment and whip the egg/sugar mixture on medium-low (say 3 on a Kitchenaid) for a couple minutes, then switch to medium-high (say 7 or so on a Kitchenaid) until they’re white and fluffy, and the bowl is neutral to the touch. For me, it takes around 7-8 minutes. Voila! You made meringue. But it’s going to get even better still.

When the bowl feels room-temperature, switch to the paddle attachment on low speed and add your cubed butter one or two cubes at a time. This is the tricky part, and where it may look like everything’s gone wrong. At this stage, it is totally okay if your buttercream looks grainy, more like scrambled eggs. Trust me! Just keep whipping it, scraping the paddle clean if need be. Eventually, it will turn into creamy, smooth loveliness. Add your kahlua, espresso powder, vanilla, and salt, and whip it a bit longer, until they’re evenly incorporated. Transfer to a separate bowl and clean out your mixer for the next step!

Mocha fudge filling
6 ounces good semisweet chocolate
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tablespoon instant espresso (again, I used mocha flavor)
Makes enough to fill between three layers of an 8″ cake

From Ina Garten

Chop and melt your chocolate in a double boiler or heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water, then set aside to cool. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, whip your butter on medium high til it’s light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and keep beating until they’re completely mixed in, about three minutes. Slow your mixer to low speed and gradually add your powdered sugar until it’s completely incorporated and creamy. Then make sure your chocolate has cooled to room temperature, and add it and the espresso (dissolved in two tsp of hot but not boiling water) to the filling, and mix on low speed.

Assembling the cake
Remove your cake layers from the freezer and slap a ring of frosting on the cake board to keep the cake in place, then place the first layer in the middle of the board. Pipe a ring of kahlua frosting around the very edge, then fill the middle with mocha filling, smoothing it. Stack the next layer on top (if you plan on doing three layers, repeat the filling step and place the top layer on), and smooth a very thin layer of frosting over the cake, making sure to cover it all. It’s all right if you get some crumbs in it. This is called crumb coating, and it’s important if you want a pretty, crumb-free finish. Stick it in the fridge for about half an hour to an hour to set up. Once it’s set, smooth the final layer of frosting over, decorate with fondant or frosting as desired, then pipe borders around the top and bottom. I used a small closed star tip for the top (and the flame in Azula’s hand) and a round tip for the bottom, with frosting tinted blue.

Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes


I am a very bad sister.

When I started this blog, I brainstormed a whole bunch of recipes to try, and when I got to “raspberry lemonade cupcakes,” my little sister, Kessie, was like “DO THAT ONE NEXT.” Actually, I think I only got as far as “raspberry le–“. Girl likes her raspberries.

See, she’s not my sister like we grew up together and made faces at each other in church and fought over the backseat on long car rides. Nah, she’s my sister in the sense that a long time ago, like two or three years now, we met online and got to know each other and decided we’re going to be friends for life, and we and a couple of other friends, all of us from different states, talk every day. So, that’s another thing that makes me a very bad sister–she’s going to have to come to Virginia to get one of these.

I also, however, am a very good sister. My one biological sister (was there right after she was born, bought her her first teddy bear, had a few very fierce and bitter years where her favorite thing to do was run into my room and steal my pokemon toys) looooves lemon things. The girl will save the lemon from her water in restaurants to suck on after the meal–no sugar needed. I don’t know how she does it.

Did you know that they sometimes call cupcakes “fairy cakes” in England? So unfair. Can we steal that? I’m sure going to!

One final note: I made these using two different recipes I married. One of them calls for a box of yellow cake mix. I subbed in a scratch yellow cake batter. If you want to use mix, I totally won’t judge you. This is a no-judging-for-using-mixes space. I just like baking from scratch because I’ve got the time, and it’s really cool seeing something I made come together into food like that!

Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes Fairy Cakes

Adapted from Sweetapolita and Bake at 350

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1¾ cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1¼ cups milk
1 4.3 oz box of lemon pudding mix
3 tbsp of lemonade concentrate, thawed

Makes about 2 dozen cupcakes

To start, preheat the oven to 350 F, and line your cupcake pan with cute liners. Cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of a mixer, on medium-high speed. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.

When the butter/sugar mixture is combined and fluffy, add the eggs in one at a time, then the vanilla. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk, mixing until just combined. Add the pudding mix and lemonade concentrate and mix it up a bit more.

Scoop the batter into the cupcake liners and bake 15-17 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean.

Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Ingredients
9 large egg whites
2 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar
6 sticks (2 pounds) unsalted butter, not cold, cut into cubes
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups seedless raspberry jelly/jam

I heard about swiss meringue buttercream probably a year before I actually tried it. It seemed so intimidating—a hundred different things seemed like it could go wrong! But I’m here to tell you that it’s actually really really simple, and I’ve made it twice this week simply because I can. And oh my gosh, is it delicious. I licked every implement used to make this completely clean before washing—I couldn’t bear to let any of it go to waste. And don’t stop at just raspberry. You can make it any flavor you like! Because SMB isn’t sweet-sweet, any flavor will shine.

I always cube and set out my butter on a plate first thing, and let it warm up while I work on the rest. Wipe out your mixer bowl and mixer attachments VERY well, making sure there’s no trace of grease. The first thing you’re going to do is make a meringue, and any grease could cause it to fail. Heat a large pot with an inch or so of water on the stove until it’s just simmering—we don’t want to cook our egg whites. Add the egg whites and sugar to your mixer bowl and whisk constantly until the sugar is melted and the egg whites are warm. I’ll level with you: the first time I made this, I intended to run the sugar through the food processor beforehand, making it superfine, but it melts just perfectly without it, so I don’t bother.

Stick your bowl on your mixer with whisk attachment and whip the egg/sugar mixture on medium-low (say 3 on a Kitchenaid) for a couple minutes, then switch to medium-high (say 7 or so on a Kitchenaid) until they’re white and fluffy, and the bowl is neutral to the touch. For me, it takes around 7-8 minutes. Voila! You made meringue. But it’s going to get even better still.

When the bowl feels room-temperature, switch to the paddle attachment on low speed and add your cubed butter one or two cubes at a time. This is the tricky part, and where it looks like everything’s gone wrong. At this stage, it is totally okay if your buttercream looks grainy, more like scrambled eggs. Trust me! Just keep whipping it, scraping the paddle clean if need be. Eventually, it will turn into creamy, smooth loveliness. Taste a little of it now—isn’t it just knee-weakeningly good? But it’s going to get even better!

Add your jam/jelly, vanilla, and salt, and whip it a bit longer, until they’re evenly incorporated. And don’t be afraid to play with different flavors or proportions. Pipe onto cupcakes, but make sure you have a little left over to eat with a spoon! ;D

Note: I know I have a HUGE mound of frosting on there like usual, but for this recipe, less is more so you don’t overpower the lemon. Also, these cakes didn’t bake up as nicely as I liked, so next time I’m going to fill the wells more (close to the top, probably, they really didn’t rise all that much).

Cup(cakes) of Scorn


I’m not generally a horror-movie girl, but about three years ago, I fell in love with a movie called REPO! The Genetic Opera. It’s a rock opera set in a dystopian future where organ repossessions are legal and surgery, a fashion statement, and it follows the ascent of a young girl into adulthood over the course of a single tumultuous day. It’s an amazing movie, and if you have a stomach for a little gore, I would definitely suggest checking it out, but through it, I found a much greater treasure–some of the best friends I’ve ever, ever had. That’s what’s kept me into it.

And a few months ago, we added a new bunch of friends to our chat group–you see, the guys who made Repo have nearly finished work on a new creation, The Devil’s Carnival!

It’ll be airing as a road tour next month, and I’m super excited. So this recipe is my nod to one of the characters: the Painted Doll, played by the lovely Emilie Autumn!

“Cup of scorn” is a phrase that’s been tossed around the fandom, so I asked myself, what would scorn taste like? Sweet and enticing, but dark and deep, with a bit of spice and a wicked bite. And this is what I came up with: sweet, dark molasses and bittersweet chocolate, seductively smooth and silky nutella, cinnamon’s sweet spice, the burn and bite of good bourbon, and a bit of hellfire in the form of cayenne pepper. I garnished with a half-heart slice of apple, a nod to the Doll’s character. And the verdict? Sooooo good. Dad kept sneaking to the mixing bowl for a bit of frosting. I’d say that’s a winner!

Dark chocolate molasses cake
Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 of a 4.3 oz box chocolate pudding mix
1 egg
1/2 cup black coffee
1/2 cup milk, room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon molasses
Small amount of bourbon (to brush)

Makes roughly a dozen cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 350 F, and line your cupcake pan. Whisk together the dry ingredients in the bowl of a mixer. Add the wet ingredients and mix on lowest setting with the paddle attachment until just combined, then at medium speed (around 6 on a Kitchenaid mixer) for two minutes. The batter will be thin, that’s fine. Fill your baking cups about ¾ full and bake 15-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center cupcake comes out clean. Allow to cool, then brush with bourbon.

Nutella cinnamon swiss meringue buttercream
Ingredients
9 large egg whites
2 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar
6 sticks (2 pounds) unsalted butter, not cold, cut into cubes
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup nutella
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Cayenne pepper (for sprinkling)

Makes enough frosting for 2 dozen cupcakes

I always cube and set out my butter on a plate first thing, and let it warm up while I work on the rest. Wipe out your mixer bowl and mixer attachments VERY well, making sure there’s no trace of grease. The first thing you’re going to do is make a meringue, and any grease could cause it to fail. Heat a large pot with an inch or so of water on the stove until it’s just simmering—we don’t want to cook our egg whites. Add the egg whites and sugar to your mixer bowl and whisk constantly until the sugar is melted and the egg whites are warm.

Stick your bowl on your mixer with whisk attachment and whip the egg/sugar mixture on medium-low (say 3 on a Kitchenaid) for a couple minutes, then switch to medium-high (say 7 or so on a Kitchenaid) until they’re white and fluffy, and the bowl is neutral to the touch. For me, it takes around 7-8 minutes. Voila! You made meringue. But it’s going to get even better still.
When the bowl feels room-temperature, switch to the paddle attachment on low speed and add your cubed butter one or two cubes at a time. This is the tricky part, and where it looks like everything’s gone wrong. At this stage, it is totally okay if your buttercream looks grainy, more like scrambled eggs. Trust me! Just keep whipping it, scraping the paddle clean if need be. Eventually, it will turn into creamy, smooth loveliness. Taste a little of it now—isn’t it just knee-weakeningly good? But it’s going to get even better!

Add vanilla, nutella, cinnamon, and salt, and whip it a bit longer, until they’re evenly incorporated. And don’t be afraid to play with different flavors or proportions. Pipe onto cupcakes, but make sure you have a little left over to eat with a spoon! ;D Sprinkle with cayenne, to taste.

Dark chocolate cupcakes with raspberry swiss meringue buttercream


OMG, it has been such a cupcake week, and especially a buttercream week. So far, I’ve used up nine sticks of butter and more eggs than I’d like to admit–I kept breaking the fragile little sillies, as clumsy as I am. But my family’s more than happy to serve as taste testers, especially after tasting the gorgeous, silky swiss meringue buttercream. I honestly think I’d be happy never making another kind of frosting my whole life, it’s luscious enough to go on everything!

This recipe is the one that made me confident enough to start this blog. If I can handle meringue, I can do anything!

Yummm <3

Both recipes in this post were adapted from Sweetapolita.

Dark chocolate cupcakes
Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup dutch-process cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 4.3 oz box chocolate pudding mix
2 eggs
1 cup black coffee
1 cup milk, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Makes roughly 2 dozen cupcakes

These are probably the perfect cupcakes. Bar none. They’re moist, fluffy, and soooo chocolatey it hurts. They disappeared in three days, and that’s saying something for my health-loving family. Definitely not to be eaten standing up!

Preheat the oven to 350 F, and line your cupcake pan. Whisk together the dry ingredients in the bowl of a mixer. Add the wet ingredients and mix on lowest setting with the paddle attachment until just combined, then at medium speed (around 6 on a Kitchenaid mixer) for two minutes. The batter will be thin, that’s fine. Fill your baking cups about ¾ full and bake 15-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center cupcake comes out clean.

Black raspberry swiss meringue buttercream
Ingredients
9 large egg whites
2 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar
6 sticks (2 pounds) unsalted butter, not cold, cut into cubes
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
Two large spoonfuls black raspberry jelly/jam

I heard about swiss meringue buttercream probably a year before I actually tried it. It seemed so intimidating—a hundred different things seemed like it could go wrong! But I’m here to tell you that it’s actually really really simple, and I’ve made it twice this week simply because I can. And oh my gosh, is it delicious. I licked every implement used to make this completely clean before washing—I couldn’t bear to let any of it go to waste. And don’t stop at just raspberry. You can make it any flavor you like! Because SMB isn’t sweet-sweet, any flavor will shine.

I always cube and set out my butter on a plate first thing, and let it warm up while I work on the rest. Wipe out your mixer bowl and mixer attachments VERY well, making sure there’s no trace of grease. The first thing you’re going to do is make a meringue, and any grease could cause it to fail. Heat a large pot with an inch or so of water on the stove until it’s just simmering—we don’t want to cook our egg whites. Add the egg whites and sugar to your mixer bowl and whisk constantly until the sugar is melted and the egg whites are warm. I’ll level with you: the first time I made this, I intended to run the sugar through the food processor beforehand, making it superfine, but it melts just perfectly without it, so I don’t bother.

Stick your bowl on your mixer with whisk attachment and whip the egg/sugar mixture on medium-low (say 3 on a Kitchenaid) for a couple minutes, then switch to medium-high (say 7 or so on a Kitchenaid) until they’re white and fluffy, and the bowl is neutral to the touch. For me, it takes around 7-8 minutes. Voila! You made meringue. But it’s going to get even better still.

When the bowl feels room-temperature, switch to the paddle attachment on low speed and add your cubed butter one or two cubes at a time. This is the tricky part, and where it looks like everything’s gone wrong. At this stage, it is totally okay if your buttercream looks grainy, more like scrambled eggs. Trust me! Just keep whipping it, scraping the paddle clean if need be. Eventually, it will turn into creamy, smooth loveliness. Taste a little of it now—isn’t it just knee-weakeningly good? But it’s going to get even better!

Add your jam/jelly, vanilla, and salt, and whip it a bit longer, until they’re evenly incorporated. And don’t be afraid to play with different flavors or proportions. Pipe onto cupcakes, but make sure you have a little left over to eat with a spoon! ;D