Chocolate Cake with Brownie Batter Frosting

Baking date: May 13, 2018

My youngest turned 15 in May. I asked him what kind of cake he wanted and he immediately replied chocolate-chocolate.

I have a chocolate cake recipe I like. On the page for the cake recipe, I saw a recipe for brownie batter frosting.  I used a milk chocolate brownie box mix, because my son loves milk chocolate.

The frosting is not super smooth, but it definitely tasted like brownies. I added some rainbow nonparelis on top.

My son’s smile says it all:

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Happy Birthday, Nicholas!

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60th Birthday Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Baking date: February 10, 2018

I was asked to make a special 60th birthday cake for my friend Rebecca’s fiance Gary. Rebecca had requested carrot cake, and I had never made one from scratch. So I looked for a recipe that I thought would be good, and came across Grandma Hiers’ carrot cake recipe from Paula Deen. I opted not to add the pecans to the batter, but did use some for decorating.

A few days before I was going to make the cake, I saw my hairdresser. I’ve been going to her for 25 years for my cuts and colors (the older I get, it’s more color than cut!). She takes care of me at her house, and we use the time to catch up on our lives. She’s a fantastic cook, so I told her about the cake I was going to be making.

“Oh, let me tell you the secret to an amazing carrot cake!” she exclaimed. “First, add a small can of crushed pineapple. And then – here’s the real secret – instead of shredded carrots, use canned carrots. Drain them, but they already have extra moisture and will shred apart once you mix them into your batter. The cake will be so moist.”

Since I had already googled “how many carrots does it take to make 3 cups of grated carrots” (yes, there is a website that will tell you), I did not look forward to shredding 9 carrots, and probably a few knuckles in the process. I figured I would give this canned carrots thing a try.  I did not go for the crushed pineapple, since I’m not a huge fan of it. Nor did the recipe call for pineapple or raisins, as I have seen in some carrot cakes.

I made the cake in the 12″ and 16″ pans from the performance square pan set. It was a busy weekend for me, so I used canned cream cheese frosting, rather than the recipe that was part of the offering from Paula Deen.

Gary is a boater. He and Rebecca also love the beach. So I decided to make sea shell candies to decorate the cake. I used a two-tone technique I saw on a YouTube video, using light cocoa and white candy melts. I finished them by brushing on white pearl dust.

I kept the decorating simple. I used crushed pecans to fill in the pressed outline of the 6 and 0 I made using cookie cutters on top of the cake. I also sprinkled crushed pecans on corners of the cake, but not all over, since I didn’t know if there were any allergies among the guests invited to his surprise party.

Here is the cake:

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And a close up of some of the candies:

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Here’s the cake, with all the photos and decorations for the party:

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I am pleased to report that the recipe with the “secret ingredient” (canned carrots) received rave reviews! People commented on how moist the cake was, and many party guests took an extra piece home to enjoy later.

Happy Birthday, Gary! Glad my husband and I could join your family and friends to help you celebrate ringing in a new decade.

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Left to right: Rebecca, Becky (me), Michael, Gary

 

Get Well Soon Chocolate Cake

Baking date: January 13, 2018

One of the kids my son has played basketball, baseball and football with at various times had to have shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum. The surgery meant that he would not be able to play varsity basketball or baseball in his junior year, and was hoping to be cleared in time to start back on the field for his senior year with football in the Fall of 2018.

I wanted to make him a get well soon treat. I asked his mom about a favorite flavor of cake, and it was chocolate. I made a one bowl chocolate cake recipe, and topped it with an easy chocolate ganache frosting.  I used red cookie icing to pipe on the get well message. I created a candy melt basketball, football and baseball, to represent the sports Elias plays and added them to the cake.

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I delivered the cake to Elias and not long after, his mom posted this message on Facebook:

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There’s nothing better than knowing I helped put a smile on this talented athlete’s face. Looking forward to seeing you back on the field soon, Elias!

Rocket “Launch” Cake

Baking date: January 7, 2018

At work, we had a big project launch. To celebrate this three year project that merged two separate online applications/databases into one, I decided to make a launch cake.

First, I googled rocket cakes. I found an image of one that seemed simple enough. As far as I could tell, it was a 9 x 13 sheet cake, with one end carved. Those carved off pieces would then become the boosters at the other end.

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The cake I made was a yellow box mix, with vanilla added in to give it some “homemade” flavor. The icing was the canned white Pillsbury variety.

I baked it in a 9 x 13 pan and then sliced a rounded edge off each side of one end. I then placed those cut off  edges against the bottom of the other end.

I frosted the main body of the rocket in white, and I dyed the boosters (no taste) red.  Around the edge of the rocket, I added silver sugar sprinkles. Given how difficult this was to do, I understand why the inspiration cake baker used some sort of candy strip instead:

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I added dark blue (no longer available) candy melt circles for the rocket “windows” and piped the date of the launch (1-9-18) onto the discs.

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Finally, I made mini-star candy melts in orange, and larger stars in yellow. I’m not sure they make this mold any more – there are four of each size star on the mold tray and the  large stars have space for a stick. I piped the acronym of the program being launched (VLSO) on the smaller orange star in red icing, with red icing dots in the point of each larger yellow star. I affixed the orange stars to the yellow stars with some of the white frosting.

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Here’s the whole cake, on a black cake board:

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Congrats to my colleagues for all their hard work!

Hershey’s Kiss Cake

Baking date: December 24, 2017

I found the recipe for this cake on PinterestInspiration Cake

I have made the cake a few times the past few months, the most recent for my family’s Christmas dinner. It’s a super easy recipe. Instead of making the frosting from scratch, I used canned cream cheese frosting. I also added a few extra pops of icing around the cake (no one ever complains about extra icing, am I right?)

If you’re looking for a tasty, easy homemade cake, this is a great option. I have noticed that the Kisses you place on top of the cake batter do not melt away completely when baking, but that means a yummy chocolate chunk surprise when you are eating it.

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2017 Ladies Luncheon Cake and Cupcakes

Baking date: December 21 (and, unfortunately, 22), 2017

Each year, the women in my husband’s family gather to celebrate the holidays on one Saturday in December. It is a lovely afternoon of lunch and laughter, followed by desserts. I always offer to bring the host a dessert.

This year I planned on making a tri-colored (red velvet and white cake, halved, with one half dyed moss green) Christmas bundt cake. The recipe is super easy – with the cake coming from two box mixes and the frosting from one can that you separate and color. You also get 6 cupcakes out of the deal since you can’t include all the batter in the bundt pan. In fact, I’ve made this cake in white, light blue and royal blue (winter-themed), black, orange and purple (Halloween), and pastel pink, yellow and purple (Easter).

I had made the cake on Thursday evening. My husband and I were going Christmas shopping Friday morning, and when we returned in the evening I was going to add the frosting and turn the cupcakes into Santa hats.

And then our son Nick called us while we were out and said “so…um…that cake you had on the island? Well, Jake took a bite out of it. A big bite.” He texted us this picture:

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So, on our way home, we stopped and picked up two more boxes of cake mix so I could start all over again. To make it easier on myself, I also picked up some pre-dyed red icing.

Here is how I “saved” the canine-sampled cake … and fed it to my husband and boys. The offending section was cut out and thrown away:

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Here the two cakes are side by side:

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Here’s the party-worthy, non-canine sampled version. On top, I sprinkled holiday pearls.

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And the Santa hat cupcakes turned out just fine. I piped on the red hat portion first, and added ruby red pearlized sugar sprinkles. Once that had set, I piped on the base of the hat and the pom on top in white, and added white sparkling sugar sprinkles on that.

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Even though it was double the effort, the time spent with family was worth it!

All the Ladies

50th Birthday White Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting

Baking date: November 24, 2017

One of my dear sports mom friends turned 50 in November. Her good friend Erin pulled together a lovely brunch for a number of her friends at The Main Cup.

While many of the gifts bestowed upon our friend where of the alcoholish variety, mine was dessert, of course. I had asked her family for the type of cake (white) and frosting (chocolate) she would like, along with her favorite color (red).

I made a white cake recipe I found on Pinterest, in 9″ round cake pans. The frosting is an easy chocolate ganache, another Pinterest recipe that I have made multiple times. The frosting recipe makes a ton, so you will have extra leftover (I rewarmed it and dipped shortbread cookies in it).

I used candy melts to decorate the cake, some red hearts with white stripes and some white hearts with red stripes. I mounted some of the white hearts onto red square candy melts using the ganache. I used the numbers and alphabet candy molds to spell out her name and 5-0, on top of white circle candy melts. Finally, I piped ganache bursts along the base of the cake and added white sugar pearls in the center of each burst.

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Happy Birthday, sweet Lou!

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Left to right: Lauren, Emily, me, Lou and Michelle

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All the gals celebrating Lou!