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When people order cakes from me, my go to chocolate frosting has always been Martha Stewart’s Dark Chocolate Frosting. It’s absolutely sinful! The trick that differentiates this buttercream from the rest is the addition of over a pound of melted (cooled!) chocolate. I’ve used it to decorate many cakes and cupcakes, including these:

classic chocolate cupcakes!

But as much as I love this recipe, I’ve been wanting to find something that’s just a bit sweeter and a little less time consuming to make. I know there’s only 6 ingredients in Martha’s recipe, but… have you ever melted a pound and a half of chocolate and had to wait for it to cool? It takes quite awhile!

So anyways, I’d been doing some research online for a few months when I stumbled upon this recipe from Joy the Baker’s blog. Let me tell you guys, I have NOT looked back since. What is so wonderful about this recipe is that it’s sweet enough for the kids, but not so sweet that adults won’t touch it. Plus, there’s actually vitamins in this buttercream. That’s right, V-I-T-A-M-I-N-S! The secret ingredient is the addition of Ovaltine which, as we all know, contains 12 vitamins & minerals and is a good source of vitamin E and iron. 😀

Try it. I know you’ll love it.

Wedding tasting: Chocolate cupcakes with Ovaltine frosting!

Birthday cupcakes topped with this wonderful buttercream.

So far, this stuff has piped beautifully. You can easily control the consistency of the finished product by varying how much cream you choose to add to the buttercream. I’ve yet to try it with a sculpted cake, but for cupcakes and smaller cakes it easily gets my stamp of approval!

I’ve kind of been taking a break from baking. It hasn’t been intentional, it’s just the way the cards have landed lately. Between my car getting totaled (without me in it, luckily!), finding mold in my apartment, dealing with job stress, dealing with TMJ issues, dealing with more job stress and now, finally, apartment hunting… you could say I’ve been a bit preoccupied.

Even with my world spinning slightly off of its axis, I’ve managed to squeeze in a few different cakes/ cupcakes since my last post. Here’s what y’all missed:

whimsical college graduation cake

My good friend from college asked me to do a graduation cake for her younger sister. Within this cake, she asked for a variety of elements to be included. See if you can find them all: a grad cap, UC Davis colors, Banghra (Punjabi) dancing, elements of “college life,” and something relevant to dental school. This cake was a challenge, but very fun and every bit of whimsical as I’d hoped it to be!

 

25th birthday cupcakes (1 of 2)

bootie cupcakes (2 of 2)

In January, my friend R threw herself one hell of a 25th birthday party. She asked me to provide a variety of treats including 2 types of cupcakes (shown above), a few trays of chocolate whoopie pies and 1 large cupcake cutting cake. The vanilla cupcakes were topped with a marshmallow cream frosting, and decorated with handmade chocolate accents and edible glitter. The red velvet cupcakes were frosted with a thick swirl of classic cream cheese frosting and decorated with fondant butts.

Yes, butts. You heard me right. When I accepted this order, R had mentioned that she’d been working out really hard for the last year or so, and wanted everyone at her party to, “have a piece of my ass!” I love her confidence, enthusiasm and the fact she’s so secure in her own skin! You go girl!

PS – These toppers would be great for a bachelorette party too… 🙂

 

TokiDoki birthday cake

In March, my buddy G asked for a couple of cakes. For his wife’s birthday, he asked for a small, super chocolatey cake. He mentioned that TokiDoki is one of her favorite things, so I did some research and designed a simple cake with hand cut fondant TokiDoki accents.

Two of his friends also happened to have a birthday during the same week, so he asked for a casual cake for the guys to take on a weekend trip. I knew that this group of guys were all die hard Giants fans, so I couldn’t resist surprising them with a hat cake. Just like my earlier hat cakes, it was decorated in fondant with hand cut accents.

Giants hat cake

 

My cousin, M, is an incredible kid and I was super excited when her mom asked me to do her birthday cake a couple weeks ago. Along with the cake, she was going to be surprised with new archery equipment for her birthday. I designed the cake to go along with her fabulous birthday present, making the archery target out of fondant and the arrow out of gumpaste.

archery-themed birthday cake

 

A couple of weeks ago, one of my neighbors emailed and asked if I could do two dozen chocolate cupcakes for one of her employee’s birthdays. She requested the cupcakes to be as chocolatey as possible, and decorated in a “dog” theme. These hand cut fondant decorations might be my favorite cupcake toppers to date!

birthday "pupcakes"

A few months back I stumbled upon a recipe for a treat I hadn’t quite heard of – whoopie pies. I was so enamored by the results that I decided to write a post about my experiences, and give my readers as much background as I could find on this mysterious cookie/cake/frosting goodness.

The last few months have proven to me that these treats are much more well known that I was aware of! After some food blog stumbling I came across a company called Gobba Gobba Hey. Gobba Gobba Hey was founded a little over a year ago by an East Coast native named Steven (I think). Steven sells ‘gobs’ (which is what the East Coasters call whoopie pies) in all sorts of incredible flavors. I decided to follow him on Twitter and have since learned a great deal more about his business (& about food entrepreneurship in general). According to his Tweets and his Yelp page, Gobba Gobba Hey is booming and people definitely LOVE his product!

Secondly… when I was in Chicago last month I stumbled across this treasure:

A whoopie pie cookbook. These things HAVE to be trending!

After skimming through the book it was painfully obvious to me that I was not going to be able to leave without it becoming my possession. Sigh… another cookbook to add to the collection. I quickly came to terms with this realization, parted ways with my $18 dollars and skipped gleefully down the street. 🙂

The authors of this cookbook are originally from the East Coast, but are currently based in SF. The book is chocked full of both traditional & non-traditional flavors… Pistachio-cardamom or jalapeno-cornbread, anyone?? The book is organized in 3 sections: Makin’ Whoopie, The Cakes, and The Creamy Fillings, making it super easy to get creative and mix and match! Plus, they also offer both vegan and gluten-free recipes of their vanilla and chocolate cakes so that everyone can enjoy their whoopie.

One of the things I personally love about whoopie pies is they’re GREAT for warm weather events! Like any filled dessert, you won’t want to store them in direct sunlight, but you have less to worry about if things do warm up. Unlike cupcakes, you won’t see drooping fondant or melted buttercream decorations. Earlier this summer I was asked to bring a treat to a friend’s 4th of July BBQ. I didn’t want to deal with anything melting or spoiling in the sun, so I opted to bring whoopie pies. And let me tell you friends… they were a SSSSMASHHHH!

David enjoying his treat...

I’ve made full sized whoopies once, and though they tasted good I personally felt like it was just too much. I want people to enjoy treats, and not feel overwhelmed by them! That said, my personal spin on these dessert classics is to make them miniature sized. Depending on how many people I am baking for, I’ll usually half a recipe and then scoop the pies out with the smallest scoop I have. This scoop is usually reserved for making truffles, but it really does make the perfect sized pie. When halving a recipe, I can usually get 25-30 complete pies from the batch.

For the 4th of July BBQ I created mini chocolate pies with a marshmallow cream filling. I used Martha’s classic chocolate recipe for the cake, and Cranberry Island Kitchens’ recipe for the filling.

A pile of pies.

Minis!

I really enjoyed this flavor combination! The filling was sweet, but very light and it didn’t weigh you down in the same ways that buttercream can. The cakes were moist, and the sweetness of the filling complemented the bitterness of the chocolate beautifully. These puppies were a huge success and will definitely be on my menu for the foreseeable future. A word of advice for all you bakers out there: if you’re planning on making whoopie pies for an event make sure to take the time to pipe the filling as opposed to spreading it on with a knife. It might take an extra second, but the final presentation will be well worth it!

Omnomnomnomnommmm!

The second batch of whoopies that I made this summer were a banana cake filled with cream cheese frosting. I used Martha’s banana cake recipe, and my own cream cheese recipe for the filling (recipe at the end of this post). The best part about making these pies was that I was teaching my friend Betsy how to bake at the same time. 🙂 Things definitely got messy, but the end result was worth it. Everyone we shared these treats with loved them! They were sweet without being overly so, and the banana was a comforting flavor that most people weren’t expecting.

Hi B!

Photoshoot!

Though we filled them with plain cream cheese filling, you could definitely add a little somethin’ somethin’ to the filling to give them an extra kick. 🙂 A little cinnamon or nutmeg in the filling would have upped these cuties to the next level!

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Caty’s Cream Cheese Frosting

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

2 8 oz. packages cream cheese, room temperature

3-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Beat the butter and cream cheese together until it is combined and somewhat fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar until the frosting is as sweet as you want it. Beat in the vanilla extract. Frosting can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Note: Feel free to experiment with flavors! Add a teaspoon of cinnamon or nutmeg for a spicy kick, or a bit of rum if you’re feeling up to the challenge. 🙂

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