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Besides kids and cakes, what else do you need?

A Red Velvet Do-Over March 17, 2012

Filed under: Cake,Recipes — Jen @ 7:09 pm
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I know it’s the end of the day and probably too late to make these if you wanted to. But who knows? Maybe you have a St. Patrick’s party to go to tomorrow. Or you could just pin these for next year. Winking smile

Because of my amazing time management skills I ended up throwing these together at the last minute. (Thank goodness I had frosting in the freezer!) Do a search for Green Velvet Cupcakes, and you get a massive amount of results. The top picks were names I’d heard of but never followed or tried any of their recipes. As much as I would love to try some Hi-Hat/Dipped cupcakes, I simply didn’t have the time and decided to stick with a name I know and love: Bakerella.

Green Velvet Trio

As I’m putting these together I realize I don’t have enough cupcake liners. No problem! I’ve had a couple packages of Wilton nut cups in my stash for a while just waiting for an opportunity to be used. They were easy to use and made handling and transporting a breeze.

I thought they were delicious. My daughter thought they were delicious, but she might be biased. My husband (only slightly less biased) said, “They go good with coffee.” So there you go…pin them for later and enjoy!

Green Velvet Cupcakes

from Bakerella

  • 2-1/2 C. flour
  • 2 C. sugar
  • 1 Tbs. cocoa
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C. oil
  • 1 C. “buttermilk” (mine needed to be dairy free, so check here for how I make buttermilk)
  • 1 Tbs. vinegar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • a glob of green food coloring (yes, glob is the technical term)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare your muffin tins.
  2. Lightly whisk eggs in a medium bowl. Add remaining liquid ingredients and whisk together until blended. Set aside.
  3. Place all dry ingredients in your mixing bowl and stir together really good. (I used my KitchenAid’s whisk attachment.)
  4. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix on medium-high for about a minute or until completely combined.
  5. Pour into prepared muffin cups. I had enough batter to make exactly 24 cupcakes.
  6. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (Bakerella’s original recipe is for cakes, so I started checking my cupcakes at 20 minutes. They were done in about 23.)

A cream cheese frosting would pair nicely with this, and Bakerella has one on her post. Since I needed them dairy free I stuck with my standard buttercream and topped them off with some shamrock sprinkles.

Green Velvet Bite

Bake on!



Drool-licious February 23, 2012

Filed under: Cake,Recipes — Jen @ 5:41 pm
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Okay, so we’ve created a new word. Just go with it.


I have great friends. Whether I’ve known them for 4 months or 4 years or more…they’re great. They let me whine and moan. They let me go crazy when I need to. They get me out of the house when I really don’t want to, but they know I need to. They really support me and let me be me. And usually they keep their snide comments to themselves or at least wait until I’m out of ear shot. Thanks guys!


One of the #1 things I LOVE about my friends? They let me bake them cakes, which lets me experiment on them. I don’t mean mad scientist experimenting, but food experimenting.


One of said friends asked me to do this birthday cake last week. Not only did I get to try out a new cake filling, but I finally had a chance to try out one of my “Someday” decorating techniques: camo buttercream.


On the menu is a triple chocolate cake with rocky road filling and decorated with a soldier theme. Rocky road is traditionally chocolate ice cream, nuts and marshmallows. I knew I wasn’t doing ice cream, so I switched that to a light whipped ganache. Then I folded in mini marshmallows and toasted chopped almonds. Yum-O! I couldn’t wait.

soldier cake 1-3


Triple Chocolate Cake

From Cake Central

  • 1 box Betty Crocker Triple Chocolate Fudge cake mix
  • 1 (3.9 oz.) box chocolate fudge instant pudding mix
  • 1 C. sour cream
  • 1/2 C. milk
  • 1/2 C. vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 C. semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare your cake pans. This cake was 9×13, so I sprayed my two cake pans with Wilton’s Bake Easy.
  2. Put cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, water, oil and eggs into a large mixing bowl. I just dumped it all into the bowl of my Kitchenaid stand mixer. Blend on low for about 30 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase mixer to medium and beat for another 1-1/2 minutes — the batter will look like a thick pudding. Fold in the chocolate chips, making sure they are evenly distributed.
  3. Pour the batter into your prepared pans and spread smooth with a spatula.
  4. Bake in your preheated oven for 28 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. A 9×13 in my oven takes 40 minutes to cook through. Once the cake is done, remove from the oven and let it sit for about 10 minutes before turning out to cool completely.


Quick Light Whipped Ganache Filling

From The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

  • 4 oz. semisweet chocolate I used Ghirardelli Premium Semi-Sweet Baking Bar
  • 4 oz. dark chocolate I used Nestlé’s Dark Chocolate Baking Bar because that’s all that was at the store otherwise I would have gotten Ghirardelli.
  • 1 lb. heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  1. Refrigerate your mixing bowl and beaters.
  2. Using a double boiler melt the chocolate pieces with 2/3 cup of the cream. This will go quicker if you’ve broken the chocolate into pieces. Remove from heat before the chocolate is fully melted and finish melting by stirring constantly. Set aside until no longer warm.
  3. In the chilled bowl beat the cream until traces of beater mars just begin to show distinctly. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and beat just until soft peaks form when the beater is raised.


Rocky Road Filling

  • One recipe whipped ganache
  • Mini marshmallows
  • toasted, chopped almonds (or walnuts)
  1. Not really much of a recipe. I folded marshmallows and almonds into the ganache until I was happy there were enough of each to be evenly distributed. And no, I didn’t taste test it every step of the way so that I would be able to tell you that this is one fantastic filling. Nor did I stand in the kitchen at 7 a.m. with the leftovers and a spoon and eat any of it for breakfast. Nope. Didn’t happen.

Here is a cross section of the assembled cake:

soldier cake inside 2-2

Look at those yummy marshmallow bits!

As far as decorating this bad boy, the camo effect is a lot easier than it looks. Time consuming? Yes. But I think it was worth it, and I’d be completely willing to do it again. There are so many wonderful camo cakes out there, but for a quick and easy tutorial check out Dillicious Cakes’ tutorial album on Facebook. It’s better than anything I could try to explain, so check it out!

Once your camo is done, you take this cake:


Add a “dirt hill”, 1 Nutty Bar, 12 malt balls, a handful of Army men, and you get this:

soldier cake 1-3



Happy Birthday D! I’m honored to have been a part of your special day.


Week 7.0: Love February 16, 2012

Filed under: Cake,Recipes — Jen @ 10:50 am
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Some of the things I love, in no particular order:

  • Spring
  • my Keurig (when it chooses to work)
  • my kids’ reactions when I tell them the cake I’m baking is for them
  • Samoas
  • my GPS (when it’s working)
  • Diet Dr. Pepper (and the husband that surprises me with it)
  • Penne with Shrimp and Tomato Cream Sauce
  • Comcast’s OnDemand
  • books
  • a clean kitchen sink (not that it happens a whole lot)
  • Toni Colette (I fondly remember the first time I saw Muriel’s Wedding.)
  • pinning and perusing ideas on Pinterest (with full understanding that I will never make 90% of what I pin)
  • musicals
  • Paul Oakenfold’s “Faster Kill Pussycat
  • the songs my youngest daughter “composes” (if you call her songs about me making her a pb&j as composing)
  • And don’t get me started on all things Gosling or Reynolds.


So with that said one of my favorites is #3 above. Well…anything having to do with my family really, but I spent part of the day Tuesday making my little valentines a red velvet valentine’s cake. I’ve been searching for a good red velvet recipe for quite some time, and I tried several that weren’t very good. Then I was reminded of Alton Brown. In the space of two days I found his recipe on Food Network, and my sister told me he had one I should try. Not sure why it takes me so long to go back to Alton, but I eventually get there. Mr. Brown, you are a food god.





I did need to make it dairy free for my youngest, so I subbed margarine for the butter and made almond milk “buttermilk” with vinegar since I was out of lemon juice. I also used regular buttercream instead of the typical cream cheese frosting – again, to keep it dairy free.


Keep in mind red velvet gets its color from red food dye. And not just a little bit of dye. I used an entire bottle of this:




That is 1 oz. of Wilton’s No Taste Red. I used the whole thing. Even with all of this I still ended up with a not-so-red red velvet cake.




Sorry for the horrible picture, but this gives you an idea of what I mean. I didn’t have regular cocoa powder. I used what I had (Hershey’s Dark), which could have affected the color. Food god I am not, so that’s just a theory.


Don’t like all the artificial color? One alternative is to hunt down the natural food colorings that are out there in the world. Probably fairly expensive, and I doubt you could get a vibrant color. There’s also a way to make the cake using beets, which I’ve tried. To put it simply: it’s a mess. And I would highly recommend you where gloves when handling the beets…go ahead and ask me how I know. Overall it’s a very time consuming process, so I don’t recommend it. But hey! If you have the time and the effort to spend then have at it.


Red Velvet Cake

adapted from Alton Brown’s recipe

  • 5-1/2 oz. flour
  • 4 oz. cake flour
  • 1/2 oz. natural cocoa
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 C. almond milk “buttermilk”, room temperature
  • 1 fluid ounce red liquid food coloring
  • 1 Tbs. white vinegar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 10-1/2 oz. dark brown sugar
  • 4 oz. margarine (we use Best Life buttery spread), room temperature
  • 2 whole eggs, room temperature
  • Buttercream, recipe follows
  1. Put 1 Tbs. vinegar to a measuring cup. Add enough milk alternative to equal 1 cup. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Alton’s recipe calls for 2 9-inch cake pans. I used 8-inch. Spray whatever size pans you’d like with non-stick cooking spray and line with parchment paper.
  3. Whisk together the flours, cocoa, baking soda and salt together in a bowl and set aside. Whisk the buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar and vanilla together in a small bowl and set aside.
  4. Combine the margarine and brown sugar in a bowl of a stand mixer and cream together on medium speed until lightened in color, approximately 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down sides of bowl. Return the mixer to medium speed and slowly add the eggs, beating until they are fully incorporated.
  5. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in 3 installments, alternating with the buttermilk mixture. You want to begin and end with the flour mixture. Between each addition stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix on low speed until smooth, about 30 to 45 seconds.
  6. Divide the batter evenly between your 2 cake pans and bake until the cake springs back when pressed, approx. 30 to 35 minutes.
  7. Cool in pans on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and let cool completely before icing, at least one hour.


Standard Buttercream

adapted from Wilton

  • 1 C. shortening
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 8 tsp. milk alternative (you can also use water)
  • 1 lb. confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 Tbs. meringue powder
  • pinch of salt
  1. Cream together the shortening, vanilla and milk. Don’t be afraid to let the mixer run. You want this completely smooth and without any shortening lumps.
  2. Add your dry ingredients and mix on medium speed until everything has been incorporated. You’ll need to add more milk (or water) to get a spreadable consistency. Wilton recommends adding 1 tsp. water for each cup of icing. This recipe makes 2-1/2 C, so you’d need to add at least 2-1/2 tsp. water. Just add a little bit of liquid at a time until you’ve reached the consistency you’re comfortable with.





True red or not, it was delicious! My valentines and I gave it 2 thumbs up. Red heart And speaking of valentines here’s my youngest. She’s my reason for being on this dairy free adventure. Love this girl.






Week 2: Divine January 17, 2012

DIVINE. Relating to God, gods or goddesses: connected with, coming from or caused by God or a god or a goddess.

So when one of my BFF’s chose this word to describe these cupcakes I was more than a little flattered. I mean…I’ve never been called a goddess before! (Well, at least not by anyone other than the voices in my head.) What we have here are Hot Chocolate Cupcakes with Candy Cane Kisses and White Chocolate Peppermint Buttercream. I found inspiration for these cupcakes over at Half Baked. I wanted to include peppermint in a way that did not include making my own peppermint bark (good lord, who has the time for that?) and ended up over at Picky Palate where she used Hershey’s Mint Truffle kisses to add a sweet surprise inside. Then I found a great White Chocolate Peppermint Buttercream over at Becky’s Cakes.

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes The base for these is, again, this recipe from Cake Central. Feel free to use the chocolate cake recipe of your choice. Just make sure to sub prepared hot chocolate for the listed liquid. Ingredients

  • 1 box Betty Crocker Chocolate Fudge cake mix
  • 1 package instant chocolate pudding
  • 1 C. sour cream
  • 3/4 C. prepared hot cocoa (specifically I used one .71 oz. packet Nestle Rich Chocolate mixed with 3/4 C. warm milk)
  • 1/2 C. canola oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 24 Hershey’s Candy Cane kisses


  1. Preheat oven to 350. Place cake mix, pudding, sour cream, prepared hot cocoa, oil and eggs in a bowl and mix on medium speed until well combined. Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full, and then place one candy cane kiss into the center of each cupcake pressing to the bottom. Bake approximately 20-25 minutes. Yield 24 cupcakes

Becky’s buttercream turned out wonderfully. I believe I ended up using 2 tsp. peppermint extract, as well as just a bit more than the 3-4 Tbs. heavy cream asked for. All butter buttercream has always been a favorite of mine. “Everything’ better with butter!” If you’ve not tried all butter buttercream then you’re in for a treat. It’s not as sweet or “heavy” as shortening based buttercream, but it’s also more delicate. The heat of your hands when working with it can soften it enough that you have to put it in the fridge to let it set a bit before using again.

I tried a couple different decorating techniques with these before ending up with the 2-tone swirl above. Becky had striped her icing bag with red food coloring and then piped it on. I tried that, but yeah….didn’t like that.  I tried putting 2 colors of icing (white & red) in one icing bag and piped, but hmmm….still not quite there yet. I ended up sticking with the easiest way I know to do 2-tone icing.


These were first intended as after school snacks for The Middle Child’s Daisy troop; however due to a snow day that was cancelled. Then I thought, “Perfect! New Year’s teacher gifts!” You know…because I was too lazybusy to get it done in time for Christmas. BUT I just couldn’t resist slicing into one of these to show you.



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