Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cake

I have a confession.

As a child, I hated cake.  The only part I liked was the royal icing flowers on top.  I think I still ate funfetti cake and the like, but that was it.  Whenever we had birthday cake, I would just turn up my nose and eat my royal icing roses (which, by the way, my mom/aunts had to always ask for a specific number of those so there wouldn’t be fighting among us cousins).

Oh – and I also didn’t like chocolate.

Whew.  That’s a huge weight off my shoulders.  Feel free to throw words at me like “are you insane??”

Now I’m normal and like both chocolate and cake (a little too much for my own good, in my opinion).  I guess that’s one of the good (bad?) things about getting older, your tastes changing.

When we had the double baby shower at work this week, I knew one of the women was a chocoholic, so I decided to make the same cake I made this past weekend for the christening cake

One of my favorite memories of high school was Market Day.  Does everyone remember that?  That “grocery” service through the school where you paid a semi-crazy amount of money for what was basically a bunch of junk food?  Mmmm Italian Dippers.  My favorite thing we got were these frozen Chocolate Puddin’ Cakes.  They were slices of a super moist but not super chocolatey cake, riddled with chocolate chunks.  Sometimes I wouldn’t even let a slice thaw – I would just eat it still frozen (and it was still amazing). Continue reading

Christening Cake

Happy Monday – it’s cake time!

This past weekend was a christening in my family.  I’m not exactly sure of the link – it’s my dad’s cousin’s son’s son… is that my second cousin once-removed?  Something like that… I think… but regardless – this new lil guy is my cousin! 🙂

Trying to figure out what to do for a christening cake was a feat unto itself… try googling it. Seriously.  You get everything from cross-shaped cakes to cakes with teddy bears to cakes with booties and balloons.  Basically, it seems like whatever is blue works well, and most people seem to shove the religious part by the wayside.  After spending days and days searching for something to give me inspiration, I gave up, feeling no more inspired than when I started.

Then I ran across a forum post on Cake Central (if you are a baker, check it out, it’s awesome!).  For billowing fondant.

And I was hooked.

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Dreamy Creamsicle Cake – Part 1 (cake)

I think every baker dreams of the day of when they make up their first recipe.  For me, that day is today! 🙂  (or I guess technically it was yesterday.  But still.)

I was talking with my friend The Culinary Cheesehead about various cakes that you can make for summer – especially in this insane heat that we are having here in the Midwest. (In case you have missed it, in Chicago we just broke the record for the highest “low” – we never got below 80.  And today is supposed to be 99 with a heat index of 112.  Sigh.)

In the midst of our chatting, Paula mentioned an Orange Creamsicle cake, which sounded absolutely delectable… and after she mentioned it, it just didn’t leave my mind at all.

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Luau Cake!

Hello there boys and girls, it’s time for a recipe-less update!

This past weekend was a surprise party for my aunt, and I got hired to make the cake (wahoo!).  When I asked, I was told the theme was “Hawaiian luau”, so that of course led to millions of ideas instantly going through my head.  In my first iteration, it was a cake with a lei gracefully draped down the side.

Until I thought it through.

While leis are beautiful, the amount of gum paste flowers I would have needed for this image in my mind was… extraordinary.  So… that idea kind of got kicked to the curb of my brain.  After that I just started Googling like there was no tomorrow.  Unfortunately, when you look up “Hawaiian Cake” or “Luau Cake” under Google Images, most of them look like the creators took every single piece of Hawaiian plastic/decor the could find and stuck it on a cake (seriously – most of them should be on Cake Wrecks, just for the amount of weird stuff on the cake)

Eventually I started sketching out some ideas, and this is what I came up with:

It’s a little hard to see as I sketched lightly so I could erase easily, but it’s just a simple topsy-turvy cake with some Hawaiian accents.  I figured this would be easy enough for me to do, as it was my first topsy-turvy cake, and still impressive enough for all the non-bakers out there.

The weekend making this cake was unreal.  I only had one of each size cake pan, so I had to waste time baking one layer of each tier at a time (luckily they were only two layers!).  It was a weekend and cake full of new things.  New vanilla bean recipe, new chocolate recipe, new fondant recipe, and new cake construction.  Looking back on it now – I was kind of an idiot for doing this, because had one thing gone horribly wrong, I could’ve lost it (very very easily).  In the midst of fondant that kept tearing, I decided it would be fun to break the faucet head off the sink and spray the entire kitchen (seriously – it was a blast! (pun intended)).  But after all of the work and craziness, the cake finally got finished.  My feet ached from standing, but I was very proud of what I got done:

For this, I made a vanilla bean cake for the bottom tier and the island (courtesy of my friend Paula, aka The Culinary Cheesehead), and found a recipe for a moist chocolate cake for the second tier on Kitchen Addiction (doubling the recipe and switching the milk for buttermilk).  I made my own version of a strawberry mousse filling topped with diced strawberries, coated the cake in Italian Buttercream and Michele Foster’s Fondant.  I purchased some Mercken’s candy melts and made little chocolate seashells (on top of the green layer) and the flip-flops, flowers, and palm-tree are all made of gum paste.

Roquefort and Strawberry Rhubarb Turnovers (don’t worry, not together)

Well, I didn’t get my post up yesterday like I wanted to, but holiday weeks are always so crazy.  While I loved the long weekend… not so fond of the insanity that follows!

After making puff pastry on Monday, I turned it into turnovers.  My original intention was to make Raspberry Rhubarb turnovers… but apparently my raspberries felt that going bad was more important than being baked.  My next thought was Apple Rhubarb… but Whole Foods in my neighborhood doesn’t carry Golden Delicious apples (which in my opinion are not delicious, so I can’t blame them). So, back to the traditional Strawberry Rhubarb combination it was.

Then, in the back of my mind, I remember reading about Roquefort turnovers in Julie and Julia.  Blue cheese is AMAZING in my opinion – the stinkier the better.  And trying something out of MtAoFC (aka Mastering the Art of French Cooking) was something I had really really wanted to try for such a long time.

(One of these days I’m going to get to that Beouf Bourguinon, I swear!)

Anyway, since I had already decided to mess up my kitchen completely and make one kind of turnover, I figured that two is better than one with just a leetle bit additional mess.  So I decided to make both kinds of turnovers, and I must say that I give myself props – they were absolutely delicious.  Seriously.  If my mom hadn’t called and talked me out of it, I might’ve eaten all of them myself – especially the Roquefort ones.  Yum.  And the puff pastry worked out wonderfully – delicious and flaky and oh-so-good. Continue reading

Classic Puff Pastry

Happy 4th of July everyone!  Here are some beautiful fireworks over Chicago to get you through until tomorrow…

Today, I decided to do something I wanted to do for such a long time – make homemade puff pastry.  In class, I LOVED making croissants – seeing the multiple layers and the flakiness of the end product made all of the hard worth it – and made me amazed at my own abilities!  Puff pastry has even MORE layers in it than croissant dough, so I was eager to jump right in and try to impress myself again 🙂

This puff pastry was made to use for some turnovers that I’ll post about tomorrow – but I thought that this would be too much to post about in one day!  Continue reading

Olive Bread… a failure of massive proportions (kind of)

My dad keeps telling me that I need to share the bad with the good – so here we go (and hi Dad!!)

One of my favorite items that we made while in school was an Olive Bread that we made first quarter.  Let me start by saying that I don’t like olives.  At all.  I think they have a weird texture, a funny flavor, and are kind of, well icky.  But olive bread… wow.  When we made it, I think I ate half the loaf myself (and that was a BIG loaf).

I decided to try making this at home, because, hey, I’ve done this before – how hard can it be?  Ha ha, famous last words.  VERY hard.  Ruining-the-bread hard.  At least in my tiny lil kitchen in Chicago. Continue reading

Donuts!!

One of my favorite memories from childhood was getting to pick out a donut for breakfast once every other week or so – we’d be grocery shopping, and it was always a huge treat.  I would almost always pick the regular cake donut with chocolate frosting and sugar sprinkles out the wazoo – because as a kid you can NEVER have enough sugar – and every time it was amazing.  (Except for the time my cat ate through the wax paper bag and subsequently ate most of the donut… what a disappointing morning).

We made mini-donuts one time in my third quarter at Kendall – I made mine tossed in a combination of rosemary/salt/pepper/sugar/cayenne, and they were pretty good.  This time I decided to go for classic, with a supposedly yummy donut and plain sweet glaze.  I also decided to make a few with a cinnamon sugar coating, and then add a little chocolate to the mix as well.  Unfortunately, I only had bittersweet dark chocolate in my kitchen, which didn’t work out too well for an overall coating – but was perfect for a garnish to the glazed donuts! Continue reading

Purse “Cake”

No baking for me this week – it’s starting to get into finals, and unfortunately my priority needs to be on making my beautiful gum paste hydrangeas over baking for pleasure.

For the last two weeks in my advanced cake decorating class we have been working on making a purse “cake”.  It’s not a cake because they’re made entirely out of fondant (the final purse was around the size of my hand).  We had several choices for a cake to do, but I decided to look up something a little different to do.  This was my inspiration purse:

It wasn’t something I would able to replicate exactly (and I knew that going in), but I decided to try my hardest with this one!  Along with the purse, we had to create some accessories, so I decided to do the classic lipstick, then decided to make a little Blackberry and a set of sunglasses to go along with it.

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Double Salted Caramel Cake

Just writing out the headline to this starts to make me drool a little bit.  I feel like every post I write “so this is one of my favorite flavors!”, but honestly… salted caramel?  It’s just amazing.  Put it into cake form?  Even better!

I have to thank the SprinkleBakes website for this – she made a Triple Salted Caramel Cupcake (that, by the way, looks absolutely gorgeous!), and I just converted/adjusted that recipe to make a cake, and oh. my. goodness.  It was delicious.  I was actually told this was the best cake I’ve made so far.  It was gooey and caramely and crumbly and just plain yummy.  I would make this again in a heartbeat if I had more people to eat it!

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