Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!!!

This week has been the most stressful week making cakes. 
It felt like I made 100 cakes (not really). And of course, you guys already saw the cakepops seen here and here

Here's two of the many cakes I worked on this week for Halloween. 
Here's how they looked like before...
I know they don't really actually look "halloween-y" because they really weren't originally intended to be. But since I had a few extra cakes, and a lot of extra yellow frosting, I kinda went with it and just came up with these. Although they turned out okay, I had to find a way to decorate these so I can make it more Halloween-themed. The large cake is going to be for a Halloween potluck at work. And the small one would be ALL MINE!!!! muuaahhh hahahahhaha.... **cue thunder and lightning please**

I obviously had a lot of yellow frosting around this week, so I figure it would be more resourceful to use that instead of making more frosting with typical "halloween" colors, like orange, purple, or black. Plus, I was too lazy... -_- so for awhile I was stumped...But then!!! Instagram saved the day!!!

It worked out pretty well. The witch silhouette inspiration came from a picture I saw on Instagram, then I just googled similar photos online and picked one I liked that was easy enough to replicate.
The witch is made of black chocolate melts that I used to paint with using a small clean paintbrush. It took longer to come up with the idea than the actually painting part. I guess you can say I picked up a "new" technique that I am definitely using again on other future cakes!!! YAY!

Now remember that little itty-bitty cake...
 I really didn't want to mess with this one, it looked soooo cute, like a little sunflower cake...
But eventually it had to be done...
 bye bye sunflower cake...hello spider cake...
The only thing left is to serve these!!! nom nom nom...
ALL MINE!!!! muuuuaaahhhh hahahahhahah...

Just in case you are wondering about the recipes I used for that yellow frosting... you can find it here.
And the cake is made of, obviously my favorite, CHOCOLATE CAKE! seen herehere, and here.
Happy Halloween!!!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Daytime Photos Halloween 2013 Cake Pops

Halloween 2013 Cake Pops! See the tutorial here
It's an updated tutorial on how I make cake pops! 
This post really shows the difference between taking photos at night versus during the day. I posted about a similar topic before, seen here.
It makes such a huge difference when seeing these cake pops during the day. Although the night time photos turned out okay, they didn't show the true color of the cake pops.

The night time photo just looks so brown (almost matching our dinner table), without a hint of black at all. But the day time photo looks so much darker. You would think if I took the photo during the night time, that they would look darker, but it's the exact opposite.

The sprinkles look so vibrant against the dark chocolate!
I had mentioned on the Halloween 2013 Cake Pops post how the Ghirardelli baking chips mixed into the black candy melts kind of made my "black" cake pops look too brown. Perhaps I should have used a little less of the Ghirardelli. But actually, now that I'm looking at them in daylight, they don't look as brown as I thought. It's still not pitch black cake pops, but it's the next shade to it, and they taste great.
nom nom...
I do plan to make cake pops next time using just the black candy melts, just so I can see the difference in shades, to see if it does stay really black.
Til next time!


Halloween 2013 Cake Pops

The weather is changing, and a lot more staying indoors and snuggling and keeping warm. But when there's cake around, it's hard not to make cake pops! This is such a simple idea for October cake pops. A lush and decadent chocolate cake covered with dark chocolate, topped with little tiny creepy critters and jack-o'-lanterns.

Halloween 2013 Cake Pops
See the daytime photos of these cake pops here.
See my Halloween 2011 Cake Pops here
The chocolate cake recipe I used for these cake pops is the same recipe I've been using as my go-to chocolate cake recipe seen herehere, herehere, and here).

It's a great cake pop cake base, because its really moist and therefore requires little frosting in order to form into round molds. I don't like too much frosting because it makes the cake taste too sweet.

Here's a quick little demo on how I made these cake pops!

Make the cake and let cool completely. Recipe links up top^
Crumble cake. To make 12 cake pops, I used about 2-3 cups of cake crumble.
Here's the magic! Add 2 Tbsp chocolate frosting (I used store-bought chocolate frosting), and add 2 Tbsp cream cheese (I used full-fat Philadelphia cream cheese). Mix well.
Make round balls.
Refrigerate or freeze for 10-15 minutes, or until the cake balls are not as mushy.
In the mean time, prepare chocolate melts. Combine about 1 cup of black candy melts with about 1/4 cup of Ghirardelli baking chips and 1 Tbsp vegetable oil. Microwave at 30 second intervals, mixing in between, until smooth. Let stand and cool. TIP: If you want black cake pops, don't add the Ghirardelli chips. They turned my chocolate melt dark brown, instead of keeping it black =( But it does make the chocolate taste so much better, though. =)
Once the cake balls are chilled, dip the tip of each stick, one at a time, into chocolate, then into pops. Then freeze the pops again for at least 15 minutes. Make room for those sticks!!! I actually laid them down so they would fit into the freezer.
Once chilled, just remold the pop so it's nice and round.
Then, dip into the chocolate melt. TIP: Make sure the chocolate isn't TOO HOT! It should be fluid enough to dip the pops easily, but should not be warm or hot. =)
Let excess chocolate drip.
Just before the chocolate sets, add your sprinkles and decorate. 
TA-DA! Easy enough right!
The cake pops are the same color as our table... lol...
Happy October!!!!

Enjoy! These are sooo good! Already had a sample =)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Chocolate Lover's Birthday Cake!

Okay, I must admit, I'm starting to be a cake junkie. 

My definition of a cake junkie: One who makes cakes just because. One who makes cakes for birthdays. One who makes 2 cakes for birthdays. One who makes cake and eats it just for funzies. (Insert my name).

Here's another celebration cake for my brother's birthday recently. Who doesn't want chocolate cake for their birthday? Of course everyone does!
Chocolate Lover's Birthday Cake!
This was a chocolate-based cake, using my favorite dense and moist chocolate cake recipe found here, here, and here. With this cake, I decided to go bigger, 9-inch round cake big.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
(Recipe adapted here)
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa powder
  • a pinch of table salt
  • 4 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
Directions: In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, whip the room temperature butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. In a separate bowl, sift together the powder sugar, cocoa, and salt. Add the dry ingredients into the butter 1 cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl in between additional cups. Incorporate well. While the mixer is on, add 1 tablespoon at a time of cream until you have a nice smooth and fluffy consistency. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes or until set. Remove from refrigerator when ready to frost cakes. 

This was one of the most complex cakes I've ever made. So bare with me, there is a lot of steps to this cake. But that being said, it was also the most fun and gratifying cake!

This tutorial is full of tips!!! It will make your life easier.

I started with the cooled 9-inch round cake and sliced it in half using this cake slicing tool. 
The tool sliced the cake in half well, and I was able to separate the 2 halves without breaking
I'm actually really glad I bought that tool, I don't think I would've gotten the same results with just a knife.

Making this cake was a little bit easier than the last cake I made seen here because I picked up a lot of tips for myself to make my life easier when decorating cakes. Practice makes perfect, right...

Tip #1: Make sure you have good cake.
Tip #2: Make sure you have good frosting.

The rest of the tips are just optional from here on out...

Tip # 3: Have the right tools: cake pans, cake slicer, offset spatulas, chopping board, good hardy knife, cardboard cake rounds, parchment paper, rotating cake stand, large glass measuring cup, and other basic baking tools you may think of...

Tip #4: When slicing the cake in half, make sure you are on a level table or counter top. Measure where you want the cake to be split using the cake slicer, and maintain a level eye when maneuvering the tool across the cake. The whole point is to get an even looking cake.

Once you have the 2 halves. It's time to assemble the cake.

Start by placing a cardboard cake round in the center of the revolving cake stand. Then place 4 thin even-cut strips of parchment paper around the edge of the cardboard round. Then place the first layer cake on top of the parchment paper, like this...
Tip #5: The parchment paper trick is helpful when achieving a smooth trim on the bottom of the cake. When it's removed  at the end, the bottom trim of the cake looks clean with smooth edges. 

Next, using and offset spatula, add a dollop of frosting onto the center of the first cake layer and spread evenly allowing for excess frosting to spread to the edge of the cake.
 Then, center the second layer of cake on top of the frosting.
Seal the crumbs on the sides of the cake using more frosting. Cover the whole sides of the cake.

Tip #6: Take your time with covering the sides of the cake, this is where most of the crumbs will be disturbed if not done gently. Add more frosting than necessary. It is easier to remove excess frosting later.

After the edges are covered, place another dollop of frosting on top of the cake, allowing for excess to spread to the edge.
Tip #7: I used 2 offset spatulas to get this cake as smooth as my powers would allow. The large spatula I used for spreading the frosting evenly on top of the cake. The small spatula I used for the edges/sides of the cake, which gave me more control.
When I got the whole cake covered with frosting, with minimal amount of crumbs as I can get, all I did was even it out. 
Tip #8: It's important to keep the spatula as level and as steady as possible while turning the rotating cake stand. It's a lot of multitasking, but it's the most important step in order to get a smooth looking cake. This is when it is really helpful to have the right tools. 

But once you are happy with the way the cake looks, refrigerate it for at lest 30 minutes to let the frosting set. Once you see the frosting set, remove the parchment paper from the bottom edges of the cake and see how smooth the bottom trim looks! Then, place the cake back in the refrigerator for at least another hour to continue setting.
Meanwhile, work on the decoration! Make the ganache! See instructions here. The only thing different this time for the ganache, 1 cup heavy whipping cream and 1 cup Ghirardelli 60% dark cocoa baking chips. That's it!
Tip #9: It's so much easier to pour ganache on to cake with one of these glass measuring cups. Especially, when moving quickly, this allowed me to pout the ganache with one hand, while I smooth it out with the other using an offset spatula.
(Too bad I don't have another hand to take a picture of that...)

For additional decoration, I prepared chocolate triangles for garnishing the top of the cake. I used only 1 ingredient, Ghirardelli chocolate chips. All I did was melt about 1/4 a cup of the chocolate in the microwave, 30 second intervals at a time, mixing in between until smooth. Then I spread it over a clean cutting board (use a cutting board that is only used for non-meat products, or else the chocolate might get contaminated). 
Let it set in the refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes. When it is set and hard, take a hardy knife, and gently cut triangle shapes from the large piece of chocolate. 
Okay, so a thousand years is now time to take the refrigerated cake out and ganache it!
Set up a similar apparatus like so...rotating cake stand, damp cloth/paper towel, a serving cake stand, and the cake. 
By the way, this is the fun part!!
Pour the ganache starting in the center of the cake, allow the ganache to spread on its own, until it stops, in which you may use a large offset spatula to help the ganache reach the edges of the cake. I must admit, the chocolate did get all over the place, so I just got the small spatula and cleaned up the edges of excess ganache at the bottom of the cake. But honestly, this was just for looks, because I do love excess chocolate. =)

Tip #10: Make sure the ganache is fluid enough for pouring, but not too warm or hot, because it might melt the frosting. Also, make sure the cake is straight out of the refrigerator before you ganache it, so that way the ganache is less likely to melt the frosting and makes for easier spreading.

When you're happy with the ganache. Pop the cake back in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes, or until the chocolate ganache sets. 
To help anchor the chocolate triangles on the cake, take some excess frosting and place it in a piping bag with whatever piping tip you choose. I used Wilton's 1M piping tip. 
You should have something like this...
Finally, now it's time to eat cake!!!
Happy Birthday Chocolate lovers!!!