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Sunday Scoop 0

We're in full on summer now, friends! Here are some of the random highlights from my past week as a mom, entrepreneur, baker and, well, who knows what else. MONDAY: Added some cute new details to Sweetapolita HQ, but when all is said and done, I think this will be what we can't live without (I got ours at HomeSense, but it is so similar! Now I need to learn to crochet), and what we might need 11 more of. TUESDAY: Getting all crazy and been using this new mixer, and so far so good. Besides its aesthetic dreaminess, she seems to really deal with the "beatings." Do any of you use this mixer? WEDNESDAY: Remembered (not sure how I forgot) how unbelievably talented this team is. And let's talk about her hair...???? THURSDAY: Added these to my cart. And then took them out. And then added them back in. FRIDAY: Started listening to this (audio book) at the recommendation of someone I trust, and couldn't turn it off. SATURDAY: Somehow found my way to this podcast episode, among others, and I felt as though they were speaking directly to me (love hearing him talk about pretty much anything--it's like a lightning bolt of reality). Felt a profound aha-moment (possibly the only Oprah reference you will ever hear me utter--not for any particular reason; it's just the way it is). Also started using this app every night, and I think something magical is happening... SUNDAY: Woke up this morning and felt that somehow, someway, I wasn't so much in my head, as I usually am, but more on this later. (I mean, guys, I'm really in my head sometimes. Anyone else feel that, at times, the only obstacle in your own life is you?) Today the stars aligned, and I felt really connected to my authentic self (ah nuts, I think I just reference Oprah again). Oh, and I baked and photographed this cake, and I'm proud to tell you that it might be the ultimate (yet incredibly simple) birthday cake. What will this week hold? Hope you have a happy and healthy week, friends!
  • Rosie Alyea

Best Buttermilk Birthday Cake 0

Hello, hello! Ah yes, a pastel vanilla sprinkly cake! Hehe. But wait, before you wonder why the heck I'm sharing yet another vanilla cake recipe, it's because this is truly, honestly, 100% the only vanilla birthday cake recipe you will ever need. A bold statement, but I vow that this cake is where my heart lives. Guys! While it's not radically different than the vanilla cakes I've shared over the years, it's that it really is the most tender, flavourful and spot-on, go-to, childhood-memory-evoking cake I've made. Aside from being perfectly unfussy and simple to make, it's just the textures and flavours that dreams are made of. A classic, pastel, 3-layer birthday cake! I think no matter how many innovations and creativity are brought to the world of baking and caking, having a "perfect" vanilla cake + birthday cake frosting recipe is a huge win. It's what brings us all back to those days of childhood, and warms our hearts. I love adding just a tiny bit of colour and a good dose of sprinkles (in this case, too many really would be too many) to give it a real bakery feel. There's just nothing that speaks to me more as a baker (and little girl at heart), than this aesthetic and flavour combination. So the cake layers in the Best Buttermilk Birthday Cake are, well, buttermilk cake layers. But whoa, they are so buttery and soft. This is a slight modification from the Buttermilk Cake in the Sweetapolita Bakebook, and that cake is one of my favourites in all of the book! With a generous 5 eggs, lots of buttermilk, butter, premium vanilla bean paste and more, it's an incredible base for really any cake you want to build--adding other flavours or even pairing it with virtually any filling, frosting or topping. The best building block in my vanilla cake repertoire. You can see the tender, delightful crumb the cake yields, and now let's talk about the frosting... So, as you probably know, I love a good fluffy sweet frosting, and as much as I love Swiss Meringue Buttercream, there really just is a time and place for a super creamy but sweet frosting. Again, it's that sweetness and fluffiness that airdrops me directly to my childhood birthdays. Mom used to get my cakes at the grocery store, at my request. A girly heart-shaped vanilla cake with stark white frosting, adorned with pink buttercream borders and topped with a few pink roses and, of course, a neatly scripted, pink gel "Happy Birthday Rosanne." So with that in my heart, I was so eager to try Christina Tosi's "Birthday Cake Frosting," from her Momofuko Milk Bar cookbook. You've likely all seen her famous and pretty-darn-awesome naked Birthday Layer Cake, based on those very grocery store birthday cakes I am referring to. While making her full recipe for the Birthday Layer Cake is near the top of my t0-bake list, I was most eager to try her frosting. So, I took her frosting recipe and modified it slightly to work with what I stock in my cupboards, and with some of the little frosting habits I can't abandon, I whipped up what I consider to be the best bakery-style frosting I have ever tasted. While this frosting recipe isn't that much of a departure from my most-used party frosting, I think what makes this frosting so magical, is the use of  shortening (and butter), light corn syrup, dollops of cream cheese and tiny bit of acidity. Christina's recipes calls for glucose (a very thick clear sugary syrup) and corn syrup, and she also calls for a pinch of baking powder and citric acid. These are the ingredients I opted out of using, and instead I simply used light corn syrup (no glucose) and I used a few drops of lemon extract for the subtle zing. The result is fluffy, smooth, creamy and so light. Sweet, with an underlying zing of cream cheese, but if you didn't know there was cream cheese in there, you might not even be able to pinpoint that. There is nothing dense or thick about this frosting, which also makes it a dream to work with, both for frosting the actual cake and for piping. (As I always say, the consistency of your frosting is 90% of the battle when it comes to applying frosting to a cake or piping lovely borders.) Just for fun, I added our Sugar Cookie Sprinkle Medley, which is a vegan, gluten-free, Kosher certified sprinkle mix that is ideal for adding to cakes and frosting, as the colours won't bleed. The texture and taste of the coated chips in the frosting are reminiscent of the Betty Crocker Rainbow Chip Frosting I used to eat by the spoonful as a teenager. The chips soften up just the slightest bit, but the sprinkles remain crunchy. Basically it's everything we daydream about. We add the sprinkles in between the layers and then into the actual frosting for a little hit of sprinkled cuteness. Yesss... Okay, now please go make this cake! xo

Best Buttermilk Birthday Cake

3 layers of super-moist, vanilla buttermilk cake filled with fluffy white frosting and sprinkles. (Cake layers from The Sweetapolita Bakebook, and the frosting is adapted from Momofuko Milk Bar Cookbook). 

For the Buttermilk Cake layers:

  • 3 cups (350g) cake flour
  • 2 cups (400g) superfine sugar
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (227g/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups (360ml) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 tsp (10ml) vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract (you can also use seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean)
  • 1/4 tsp pure almond extract
  • 5 whole eggs, room temperature

For the Birthday Cake frosting:

  • 1 cups (230g/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) vegetable shortening
  • 3 tbsp (45ml) clear corn syrup (see notes)
  • 1 tbsp (15ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp lemon extract
  • 2 1/2 cups (400g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt
  • 1/2 cup (110g) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup (4oz) sprinkles, preferably jimmies + coated chips (I used Sweetapolita Sugar Cookie medley)
  • Few drops turquoise gel color (see notes)

Special Tools:

  • Piping tip Ateco #887
  • 18" piping bag

For the Buttermilk Cake layers:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350℉ (180℃). Grease the bottoms of three 8 x 2-inch round cake pans and line with parchment.

  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer running on low speed, add the cold butter one piece at a time. Beat until all of the butter is incorporated, about 3 minutes. The mixture should have a fine crumble, cornmeal-like texture.

  3. In a medium measuring cup with a spout, combine 1 cup (240ml) of the buttermilk, vanilla and almond extract. In a separate measuring cup, gently whisk the eggs and remaining buttermilk.

  4. Increase the mixer speed to medium-low. Gradually add the vanilla mixture and beat for 5 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the egg mixture in three additions, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat until well combined, 2 minutes. Fold the batter once or twice to ensure everything has been incorporated. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans.

  5. Bake the first two layers in the centre of the oven until a wooden pick inserted into the centre comes out with a few crumbs, 20 to 22 minutes. Repeat with the final layer. Let the cake layers cool in their pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Using a knife, loosen the sides of the cakes and carefully turn them out onto wire racks. Peel off the paper liners and let cool completely. 

  6. The cake layers will keep wrapped tightly in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days.

For the Birthday Cake frosting:

  1. Combine the butter and shortening in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a regular mixing bowl if you are using a hand-held mixer), and beat on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is creamy and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. 

  2. With the mixer on low speed, stream in the corn syrup, vanilla and lemon extract. Turn the mixer up to medium-high, and beat for 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. 

  3. Add the confectioners' sugar and salt and beat on low speed until incorporated. Turn the mixer back up to medium-high and beat for 3 more minutes, until you have shiny, creamy, smooth frosting. 

  4. Add the softened cream cheese, and beat on medium speed until combined, about 1 minute. Don't over-beat, or the frosting will become too thin (due to the cream cheese). 

  5. Frosting will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature and beat on low speed 

Assemble the Buttermilk Birthday Cake:

  1. Place one of the cake layers, top up, on a cake board or plate (reserve the "sharpest" edged layer for the top). Using a small offset palette knife, spread 1 1/4 cups of the frosting top, extending slightly past the cake's edge. Sprinkle the layer of frosting with some of the sprinkles. Repeat these steps until you come to the final cake layer, which you will place bottom up. Using a straight palette knife, smooth the frosting protruding from the layers on the sides of the cake. Chill for 15 minutes.

  2. Remove the cake from the refrigerator, and apply a thin layer of frosting over the cake to seal in crumbs (known as the crumb coat). Return the cake to the refrigerator and chill until the frosting is slightly set, about 15 minutes. 

  3. While the cake is chilling, scoop out about 2 cups of the remaining frosting and tint it very pastel turquoise (about 1 drop). Add the rest of the sprinkles to the remaning white frosting. Fit an 18" pastry bag with a large closed star tip (I use Ateco #887) and transfer the turquoise frosting to the bag. 

  4. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and apply a smooth, thick layer of the sprinkled frosting. Pipe a border around the top perimeter. 

  5. The cake will keep at room temperature for up to 12 hours. Refrigerate for up to 3 days, but serve at room temperature if possible. 

  • Rosie Alyea

Sunday Scoop 0

Happy Sunday friends, and welcome to my first Sunday Scoop! If you only knew how many random bits and bobs dance around my brain on a weekly basis, haha. Here are some of the highlights from this week in sprinkleland and beyond: MONDAY: After a scorching-hot and productive weekend of organizing my garage and kitchen, I celebrated Canada's 151st Birthday the good old fashioned way: I painted my front door with my new favourite frosting-toned paint (also used on our new Sweetapolita HQ office walls). I opted to have our local paint shop blend equal parts this + this, despite the saleswoman's fear--she mentioned that in 20 years she has never blended two shades, and I had to wonder how no one has ever requested this? Perhaps it's the frosting-tinter in me that assumed this was a thing. Anyway, we LOVE the colour, and now I want to paint all things in my path. I'm not what one would call a DIY'er so painting my front door was a new experience for me. Likely not the best paint job in the world, but I indulged in a few moments of girl-power-fueled pride. If I could have hung my work on the fridge with 80's plastic rainbow alphabet magnets for my mom to see, I would have. TUESDAY: I ordered yet another one of these affordable retro microwaves, but this time for our new office space. While it's not the most powerful appliance I've ever owned with its modest 700 watts (perfect for warming up coffee and lunch), what it lacks in power in makes up for in freakin-adorableness and counter appeal. WEDNESDAY: The Sprinkle Squad and I relished in putting together the first round of our new and mysterious "Surprise Party" bags for the shop. It's like building the ultimate loot bag but for grown ups (with awesome taste, clearly). But really, I think that is the secret to happiness: simply never grow up. Sounds cliché but, honestly, this carefree land of childhood is where creativity breeds, and it's what's taken me this far. THURSDAY: Eerily magical, but definitely effective, is this app I just got for editing photos on my phone. In addition to this one, which I use religiously, I'd say I'm set: I can now appear eternally youthful ????. Which, if any, apps do you use to do your photo editing? Oh, I also received a shipping notification for this contraption I ordered--I got sucked into their Insta ad, but the good news is that I think it's really going to kick up our video clip game! FRIDAY: It's Friday, I'm in love...with this nail colour. #pink #frosting #itswhoiam SATURDAY: Did the math that I'm a few short weeks away from being, um, 44. Felt a genuine sense of panic and then decided to embrace it or, at the very least, distract myself by planning what kind of birthday cake I want. Honestly, when I say it out loud, I just can't believe it. I'm not ashamed of it, but I just can't believe it. Also realizing that every single word of this song the radio stations overplayed into my 25-year-old ears in 1999 is BANG ON. Every word. Who knew? Thank God I stopped sunning my face 13 years ago and have an penchant for superfoods. SUNDAY: I woke up a few hours ago with my two cakelets (8 and 11) fast asleep beside me, and I wondered if I'll even survive when they are grown up and moved out, and I can't wake up to feel their toes with mine. Those thoughts and words seem abstract when they're babies and even toddlers, but as I watch them turn into little women, I realize that them growing up and moving out is a real thing. They do spend many nights away at their dad's, but since I know they're over there being little, their absence is somehow copacetic. It's all selfish, really, because of course when they are "gone" it will be because they are off living life and presumably loving every minute of it. A mom's life-long internal struggle? Perhaps someone out there has maternal words of wisdom for me?      
  • Rosie Alyea

Gord Brownies: Maple-Bacon Nainamo Brownies 0

Happy Friday, friends! And not just any Friday, but Canada Day long-weekend, Friday! A weekend that represents more Canadianism than any other, I am certain. For many, it's a perfect weekend for loading the car to the max and heading to the cottage, camping or any other version of glorious northern summer outdoor-ness. For the rest, it's still an iconic weekend of all things Canadian, and a celebration of this incredibly diverse, gorgeous (and let us not forget friendly) country. This past October, we lost the most iconic and beloved Canadian musician/poet/activist, Gord Downie--the front man for The Tragically Hip (also affectionately known as simply "The Hip") since 1984. The Tragically Hip's music saw incredible and record-setting success over the years, and while doing so, became the soundtrack to countless Canadian weekends, cottage trips, garage parties, dockside beer drinking and everything in between. I would bet that you couldn't find a soul north of the US border who doesn't have a deep-rooted connection to the sound and the memories that the band created over all of those years. So what does this all have to do with brownies? Well, in honour of Gord Downie, we are making Gord Brownies! I mean, how could we not? The kids have just finished school for the summer, which typically makes this weekend even more exciting for all. And if you aren't planning a weekend away (Canadian or otherwise), weekends are perfect for trying new recipes that are quick, easy and super-shareable. But, wait, what the heck is a Gord Brownie?     So I wanted to make something very Canadian, but that wasn't already a thing (I love to experiment) and, as with any country, there are certain flavour and recipes that come straight to mind. For us, it's maple syrup, Nanaimo Bars and, um, bacon... I wondered if there was a way to bring these things together in a way that was decadent and lovely, but not disturbing, haha. You know what I mean? It's easy to slap things together for shock value, but if we're going to make it, it's definitely important that the flavours and textures work in a way that, well, works. Although baking with maple and bacon is not a new idea in these parts, I personally had never done so, so I came up with the Gord Brownie: a rich, maple-bacon brownie base topped with a classic Nanaimo Bar filling (for those of you who aren't familiar with Nanaimo Bars, you can learn more here, but in short they are typically a chocolate-coconut based bar with this delightful creamy, yellow custard filling and topped with a chocolate glaze. They are named after the town of Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, British Columbia) and topped with a maple-chocolate glaze and finally...our Sweetapolita "Tragically Chip" Sprinkle Medley! The Tragically Chip Sprinkle Medley (VEGAN | KOSHER | GLUTEN-FREE)  is an awesome topping because it contains premium Canadian (obvi), crunchy, colourful candy-coated chocolate chips and rainbow sprinkles, so it pops on the glossy chocolate glaze and adds a sweet taste and crunchy texture. Of course you could use any sprinkles you love! So...bacon! So I used the base of my favourite brownie recipe, and added a heap of maple syrup to sweeten (besides tasting magical, maple syrup has superfood benefits, and it all just makes good sense to add it in!). I topped the brownie batter with maple-brown sugar candied bacon, and those alone are a unique-but-decadent, chocolatey and oh-so-Canadian treat, but just to take it further we will do our triple layer version. What I love about the Nanaimo filling is that it's only a handful of ingredients, including butter and confectioners' sugar, but also includes Bird's Custard Powder, which gives it this sweet, nostalgic vanilla flavour. You don't have to use the Bird's brand, but that does make it a little more official :). For the glaze, I added a good dose of maple syrup to premium semi-sweet chocolate, butter and salt, which is such a versatile base for any chocolate glaze. You might remember we used it here, but in the Root Beer variation for our Root Beer Float Cake, and I have used it many times in other desserts. The maple flavour isn't super-strong but there is a hint of it and it gives it a natural sweetness, which is a nice change from the super-sweet (but super-delightful) Nanaimo filling. If for some reason you wanted to make these without the bacon, or if you don't have bacon on hand, simply omit that part of the recipe and carry on. (If there is no bacon, you can leave these at room temperature for up to a week--they last a long time, or well, will keep that long, but they never actually last!) Just don't forget the sprinkles, friends!  Here is the recipe for these Oh Canada treats. Have a safe and happy weekend!

Gord Brownies: Maple-Bacon Nanaimo Brownies

Moist, chocolatey maple-infused brownies topped with candied bacon, creamy Nanaimo filling and topped with maple-chocolate glaze and Sweetapolita "Tragically Chip" Sprinkles. 

For the Maple-Bacon Brownie Base

  • 8 slices quality bacon
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) plus 2 tablespoons (30ml) for bacon pure maple syrup
  • 6 1/2 oz (200g) best quality chocolate chips, callets or chopped (*see notes)
  • 1 1/2 sticks (175g) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups (155g) all-purpose flour
  • 3 whole eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp (5ml) pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

For the Nanaimo Filling:

  • 3 cups (345g) confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup ( custard powder (Bird's brand, if possible)
  • 2 tbsp (30ml) water

For the Maple-Glaze:

  • 5 oz (150g) best-quality chocolate chips, callets or chopped (*see notes)
  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) pure maple syrup
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup (85g) sprinkles! (*see notes )

Make the Maple-Bacon Brownie Base:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350℉ (175℃). Line a 9 x 9-inch pan with parchment paper and set aside. In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar and the 2 tablespoons (30ml) maple syrup. 

  2. Cook the bacon: Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper, and place a metal cooling rack over top. Lay the bacon slices across the rack with no overlapping. Bake on the middle rack of your oven for 10 minutes, then turn the bacon over and bake for another 5 minutes. Brush both sides of the bacon with the sugar/syrup mixture and return to the oven. Continue baking until crisp, but repeat basting every 10 minutes, about another 30-35 minutes total. Remove from the oven and set side. When cool, cut the bacon into small, 1/4" pieces. 

  3. Make the brownies: Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, but make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Leave to melt until smooth. 

  4. Remove the mixture from the heat, and whisk in the sugar and maple syrup until well combined. Add the flour and salt, and whisk until blended. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla until smooth. 

  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula or palette knife. Add the bacon pieces on top of the batter, in a single layer across the top. Bake the brownies for 30-35 minutes, until the top cracks slightly and the centre is soft. Let cool completely. 

For the Nanaimo Filling:

  1. Add all of the ingredients to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or any mixing bowl if you are using a handheld mixer), and beat on the lowest speed until the confectioners' sugar is blended in. Increase the speed to medium-high, and beat the mixture until light and fluffy, about 6 minutes. 

  2. Transfer the mixture onto the cooled brownie base, and spread evenly. Chill for 30 minutes. 

For the Maple-Chocolate Glaze:

  1. STOVETOP METHOD: In a medium heatproof bowl set over barely simmering water, melt the chocolate, butter, maple syrup and salt until smooth, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the heat and let cool slightly. MICROWAVE METHOD: Add all of the ingredients to a heatproof bowl or measuring cup with spout. Microwave at high heat for 1 minute, then stir. Continue to heat in 30 second intervals until the mixture is completely melted. The glaze will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. When ready to use, warm the glaze over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave.

  2. Pour the glaze over the Nanaimo filling and spread evenly. Chill for about 5 minutes before sprinkling the well, sprinkles, on top. Chill until firm, and then use a knife to loosen the any sides that are stuck to the pan, and then use the parchment sides to lift the brownies from the pan. Cut into squares on a cutting board. 

  • For the brownies and the glaze, I used Callebaut Semi-Sweet Callets.
  • You can certainly omit the bacon from this recipe, but it does make it pretty darn Canadian (sorry, but it does.) 
  • For the Nanaimo filling, I always use Bird's Custard Powder
  • I used the Sweetapolita Tragically Chip Sprinkle Medley, which are pretty ideal, but you can use any sprinkles your heart desires! 
  • These babies are perfect for cottage weekends, after-school snacks and more!
  • Rosie Alyea

Root Beer Float Layer Cake 0

Hi guys! I hope you're having an easy breezy June, and that you've been making and caking every chance you get. Things at Sweetapolita HQ have been really busy, with a flurry of new sprinkle-squadlettes in training, and an office renovation/makeover. Always exciting, but sometimes baking is the only way I can nurture my somewhat introverted side, and get lost in my own bubble. If you're here, then you likely know exactly what I mean :). With Father's Day coming up, I thought this Root Beer Float Cake would be the perfect option for all of those dads out there! You know...root beer, chocolate, ice cream...sprinkles! (Trust me, dads worldwide, love these things.) It's also perfect for birthdays or any given Tuesday. So, what is a Root Beer Float Cake exactly? Well, it's an adaptation from the Chocolate Root Beer Float Cake in The Sweetapolita Bakebook and it's one of my all-time favourites! That aside, in detail, it's four layers of super-moist, buttery chocolate root beer-infused cake filled with creamy vanilla "ice cream" frosting, topped with fluffy, satiny root-beery chocolate frosting and topped with shiny chocolate root beer glaze, scoops of vanilla ice cream frosting and sprinkles (of course). The root beer infusion (actual root beer, as well as quality root beer flavour oil) is present and authentic enough to taste it instantly, but subtle enough that it balances so well with the rich chocolate and vanilla bean flavours, frostings and fillings. Together, the result is a root beer float in cake form--chocolate style. Let's take a closer look: So we have the four layers of the root beer cake itself--this is a taller, but smaller diameter 6-inch version (in the book it's a slightly bigger batch of batter, designed for 3 x 8-inch round layers). The base recipe is the versatile Chocolate Butter Cake, but made using the instructions for the Root Beer Variation (a simple switch out of the vanilla extract, less buttermilk and addition of real root beer). The butter cake layers are chocolatey, rich and super tender. They would pair beautifully with almost any frosting and filling! We fill the layers with a version of the Vanilla Bakery Frosting from the book, using the Vanilla Ice Cream Bakery Frosting variation, which is essentially a fluffy "American-style" frosting (usually refers to a sweet frosting made with butter and confectioners' sugar), but we add some melted vanilla ice cream, heavy cream and vanilla bean paste for a really authentic and decadent frosting/filling. The added whipping time incorporates a lot of air, which wouldn't necessarily be desired, but in this case we love the ice-creamy texture. The texture also lends itself to our trompe l'oeil ice cream scooplings on top of the cake--it thickens nicely in the fridge and scoops up like a dream. We frost the entire cake with Chocolate Cloud Frosting (I've made a version of this several times on the blog, but the version from the book is what I used for this cake), done with the Root Beer Variation. I use a food processor for this frosting, because it is so quick (all of the ingredients in the processor and buzzed about!), and the result is incredibly satiny and smooth. Trust me when I say the smoother the frosting, the easier the frosting process is, making it a faster and more rewarding frosting experience. See the photo below! We then add a simple and decadent Shiny Chocolate Glaze, which again I have made in the Root Beer variation. This stuff is incredible! You can melt all of the ingredients in one vessel in the microwave, and in about 90 seconds, have versatile, super-shiny goodness. If you use quality chocolate (which I know you will do!), this stuff can stand on its own on brownies, cupcakes and more. A healthy but light-handed dose of rainbow nonpareils and edible silver stars plus a perfect stemmed cocktail cherry on top is what gives this cake its almost retro, diner-style root beer float pizazz.  Here is a close up of our Vanilla Ice Cream Bakery Frosting. Creamy, sweet vanilla-extreme deliciousness! And we love those little vanilla bean specks, don't we? And the Chocolate Cloud Frosting we talked about above. Guys...it's everything. Not the most perfect sliced shot, but the party cut (strips of cake)  makes cake look so appealing to me! I just love this. You'll see here, that all you  need to do to serve up a round cake this way (this yields many more servings, particularly with tall cakes) is take one straight slice using a long serrated bread knife (ideally--otherwise just a long straight bladed knife) from the front while holding a cutting board flat against the cake, let it lean upon the cake board and then with the board on the table, slice the cake in long even strips. For children, or smaller servings, you can cut the long strips in half again, to end up with two shorter pieces. Repeat until you've made your way through the entire cake! Delightful. So let's make this cake, friends!

Root Beer Float Layer Cake

An adaptation from the Chocolate Root Beer Float Cake in The Sweetapolita Bakebook, this 4-layer, 6-inch round cake is a showstopper for any occasion. Four layers of super-moist, buttery chocolate root beer-infused cake filled with creamy vanilla "ice cream" frosting, topped with fluffy, satiny root-beery chocolate frosting and topped with shiny chocolate root beer glaze, scoops of vanilla ice cream frosting and sprinkles (of course). 

For the Chocolate Butter Cake Layers (Root Beer Variation):

  • 2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (60g) best-quality Dutch-process dark cocoa powder (see notes)
  • 1 1/3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 cup (240ml) root beer (not diet)
  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 2/3 cup (332g) packed light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) mayonnaise, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp distilled white vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp root beer flavour oil OR 1 1/2 tsps of root beer extract (see notes)

For the Vanilla Bakery Frosting (Vanilla Ice Cream Variation):

  • 1 cup (225g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 1/4 cups (410g) confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream
  • 2 tsp (10ml) pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) melted vanilla ice cream (in a pinch, you can use 1/2 cup of half-and-half)

For the Chocolate Cloud Frosting (Root Beer Variation):

  • 2 cups (454g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups (500g) confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) heavy cream
  • 1 tsp (5ml) root beer flavour oil (see notes)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 7 ounces (200g) best-quality dark chocolate, chopped or callets/discs (see notes)

For the Shiny Chocolate Glaze (Root Beer Variation):

  • 5 ounces (150g) best-quality dark chocolate, chopped or callets/discs (see notes)
  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp light corn syrup
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3/4 tsp root beer flavour oil or 2 tsp of root beer extract (see notes)

You will also need:

  • 1 round or scalloped cake board, either 7 or 8" round (optional )
  • 1 offset palette knife (see notes)
  • 1 straight palette knife (see notes)
  • 1 ice cream scoop or large cookie scoop (see notes)

For the Chocolate Butter Cake (Root Beer Variation)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350℉ (180℃ ). Grease the bottoms of two 6 x 2-inch round cake pans and line with parchment, or use a baking spray alone. 

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. In a large measuring glass with a spout, combine the buttermilk and root beer. Set aside.

  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until very light and fluffy, about 8 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula after each addition. Beat in the root beer flavour oil or extract. 

  4. Remove the bowl from the mixer, and using a rubber spatula, fold in one-third of the flour mixture until just combined. Add half of the buttermilk mixture and fold until just combined. Repeat with the remaining flour and buttermilk mixtures. Fold in the mayonnaise.

  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the baking soda and vinegar, and quickly fold into the batter. Don't over-mix. Divide the cake batter among the prepared pans. Bake two pans in the centre of the oven until a wooden pick inserted in the centre comes out with a few crumbs, 20 to 25 minutes (this can vary). Repeat with the final two layers. Let the cakes cool in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges to loosen, and carefully turn the layers out onto wire racks. Peel off the paper, and let cool completely.

For the Vanilla Bakery Frosting:

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, shortening, and salt on medium speed until very pale and creamy, 8 minutes. Gradually add the confectioners' sugar, heavy cream, vanilla, and melted vanilla ice cream.

  2. Reduce the speed to the lowest setting and beat for 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until very light and fluffy, about 6 minutes.

  3. The frosting will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Bring chilled frosting to room temperature and beat on low speed to soften. If necessary, you can warm the frosting in a heatproof container in the microwave in 10-second intervals, stirring after each one, until smooth and spreadable.

For the Chocolate Cloud Frosting:

  1. Put the butter, sugar, cream, root beer flavour oil, and salt into a food processor and pulse until combined, about 1 minute.

  2. Melt the chocolate in the microwave. Add the melted and slightly cooled chocolate to the food processor and blend until smooth, about  1 minute. If the frosting is too soft, simply refrigerate until it firms up slight, about 10 minutes.

  3. For ideal spreading consistency, it is best used right away. The frosting will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When ready to use, bring it to room temperature and beat on low speed to bring it back to spreadable consistency. 

  4. Assembly of the Root Beer Float Layer Cake:

  5. Place one of the cake layers, top up, on a cake board or plate (reserve the "sharpest" edged layer for the top). Using a small offset palette knife, spread 1 cup of the ice cream frosting on top, reaching about 1/2 inch from the edge. Repeat these steps until you come to the final cake layer, which you will place bottom up. Reserve the remaining ice cream frosting and cover in plastic wrap and chill. Wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap. Chill for 15 minutes.

  6. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and unwrap. Place the cake on a turntable, and frost the entire cake with a thick coat of the chocolate cloud frosting and smooth. Refrigerate for 10 minutes, and then 

For the Shiny Chocolate Glaze (Root Beer Variation):

  1. STOVETOP METHOD: In a medium heatproof bowl set over barely simmering water, melt the chocolate, butter, corn syrup, root beer flavour oil, and salt until smooth, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the heat and let cool slightly. MICROWAVE METHOD: Add all of the ingredients to a heatproof bowl or measuring cup with spout. Microwave at high heat for 1 minute, then stir. Continue to heat in 30 second intervals until the mixture is completely melted. The glaze will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. When ready to use, warm the glaze over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave.

  2. Make the chocolate glaze and let it cool just enough so it won't melt the frosting but will pour freely. Pour a thin, steady stream around the top perimeter of the cake, until you have gone all the way around. Pour just enough to cover the top of the cake, pushing it to meet the edges, with your small offset palette knife. Refrigerate for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the top of the cake with a small amount of rainbow sprinkles.

  3. Remove the remaining Vanilla Ice Cream Bakery Frosting from the refrigerator, and use an ice cream scoop or large cookie scoop to scoop the remaining ice cream frosting onto the top of the cake. Drizzle with the remaining chocolate glaze, sprinkle with more rainbow sprinkles, and top with a cherry.

  4. The cake will keep at cool room temperature for up to 3 days.

See you super soon with another recipe, friends!    
  • Rosie Alyea

Cloud 9 Jumbo Cupcakes {Quick + Easy!} 0

Happy Saturday, friends! A short while back, we celebrated one of our sprinkle squadlette's (Grace), birthdays at the office. For celebrations at work, we try to squeeze as much party and fun into our lunch hour, and I wanted to make something that morning before work. So...layer cakes were out of the question (for days I have my cakelets, getting all three of us girls ready and out the door by 8:30 takes, um, some time hehe). I thought it would be a perfect choice to make some big ole' jumbo dark chocolate cupcakes (like a regular cupcake but, well, jumbo--twice the fun, but all in one!) topped with billowy marshmallow frosting. First off, if you've made any variation of my favourite one-bowl chocolate cupcake batter, you'll know that they are so quick and easy! And always incredibly versatile, flavourful and moist for days. So I went for the same batter I used back in these "My Favourite Chocolate Party Cupcakes" post, but doubled the recipe to yield 12 jumbo cupcakes (the standard recipe from that post makes one dozen standard cupcakes). The batter is whipped up in about 5 minutes, which is likely as fast as a boxed cake mix, so it's hard to argue its merit in all the ways. Fresh out of the oven, these cupcakes are everything. Because my cakelets aren't always around for the full frosting and decorating process, they love to taste test with just a sprinkling confectioners' sugar on top--I love this too! The cupcakes aren't super-sweet, but are balanced and have a real depth of flavour, so they can stand on their own. That is, of course, if you use a good quality cocoa powder. The cocoa powder is everything, really! It really is. You guys have probably caught on by now that I have a love affair with Cacao Barry Extra Brute Cocoa Powder, and as far as using that brand, it's really just my preference, but as long as you use a good quality cocoa powder, I think you'll have a superior cupcake/cake. It's robust and dark, but not bitter or overpowering, in my opinion. You will need a jumbo muffin/cupcake pan, which has 6 cells versus the standard 12 (see notes). Basically, each cell is two standard cupcakes, so this recipe will make either 24 standard cupcakes or 12 jumbo. These are neat to have, because it makes your everyday cupcake a little more special and noteworthy. [playlist type="video" ids="14093"] And don't worry about the batter being on the thin side--that's how it should be! (See video snippet above). You literally just pour everything in the bowl and stir, or you can use the electric mixer and beat for about a minute or two. [playlist type="video" ids="14094"] Because the cupcakes are jumbo, and they demand twice the frosting a regular cupcake would, I love to use marshmallow frosting (see video snippet above). This recipe is from The Sweetapolita Bakebook, but I have adjusted it to yield the perfect quantity for these babies. It's one of my favourite frostings of all time, because you can create the towering effect and swirly appeal of a soft serve ice cream, without subjecting the recipient to an unreasonable amount of butter and confectioners' sugar (we want to bring elation to the taster, not kill them hehe). Marshmallow frosting is essential like making meringue (lots of egg whites and sugar), but with an initial double-boiler heating of the ingredients before whipping (like Swiss Meringue) and the use of white corn syrup (corn syrup that is clear) for that stable, marshmallowy finish. Making marshmallow frosting can intimidate some people, I think, because it involves a candy/kitchen thermometer (I still recall when that would terrify me, haha), but I pinky swear it is just to check that it's hot enough (and that it doesn't surpass the ideal temp of 130℃). If you ensure that your bowl and beaters (or any other item that comes in contact with the egg white mixture) are grease-free and squeaky clean, it's very quick and simple to make. And so rewarding. There really is nothing like freshly made billowy marshmallow frosting with tiny vanilla bean flecks. So smooth and angelic. And the candy/kitchen thermometer? Friend, not foe. Two create swirls (and also "poofs" atop my layer cakes, such as this) of frosting, I like to use a large plain round piping tip (Ateco #809)--the bigger the better, really. I topped the "Cloud 9" cupcakes with, well, our Cloud 9 Twinkle Sprinkle Medley, because it just seemed like the perfect fit (not just the name, of course). I actually named that sprinkle medley Cloud 9 because I could see it atop swirls of marshmallow frosting ☁. Let's make these sky-high delights!

Cloud 9 Cupcakes

Dark, chocolatey moist cupcakes topped with fluffy, billowy vanilla marshmallow frosting and topped with sprinkles. 

For the Chocolate Cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups (190g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (300g) superfine sugar
  • 1 cup (120g) dark Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (160ml) coffee, hot
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (90ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 whole eggs, room temperature

For the Marshmallow Frosting

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups (300g) superfine sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (30g) light corn syrup
  • 1 pinch cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste of pure vanilla extract

For the Chocolate Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line two standard cupcake pans with your favourite cupcake liners OR use a jumbo cupcake pan (you can use 1 and bake them in two batches of 6). 

    In the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

    In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, coffee, oil, eggs and vanilla.

    Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and whisk until smooth, about 1 minute. Divide batter among the liners (about 3/4 full).

    Bake until a wooden pick inserted into the centre of the cupcake comes out with a only a few crumbs, about 18-20 minutes for standard cupcakes and about 22-24 minutes for jumbo (this can vary greatly, depending on your oven). Try not to over-bake. Let cupcakes cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, and then turn onto rack to cool completely.

For the Marshmallow Frosting:

  1. Wipe the stainless steel bowl and whisk of an electric mixer with a paper towel dampened with lemon juice to eliminate any trace of grease. Put the egg whites, sugar, corn syrup, cream of tartar in the bowl and put it over a saucepan of barely simmering water (be sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water). Whisk constantly but gently until the mixture reaches 130°F (54°C), about 7 minutes depending on the temperature your egg whites were to begin with.

    Transfer the bowl to the mixer. Beat the mixture on low speed for 2 minutes, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 more minutes. Increase the speed to hight and beat until very thick and glossy, about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla bean (or extract) and beat well.

    This frosting is best used right away, but it will keep covered at room temperature for up to an hour (once it's piped into the cookies it's fine, but just for ideal spreading/piping consistency).

Decorating the Cloud 9 Cupcakes:

  1. Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a large plain round tip (see notes) with the prepared Marshmallow Frosting and pipe a big swirl on top.

  2. Top each cupcakes with small amount of your favourite sprinkles (I used our Sweetapolita Cloud 9 sprinkles--see notes). 

  3. Cupcakes will keep at room temperature for up to 2 days (these cupcakes on their will keep for up to 3 days, but the marshmallow frosting is best enjoyed day 1, as it can get a little spongey). 

  • For the cocoa powder for the cupcakes, I used Cacao Barry Extra Brute cacao powder . You can use any dark cocoa powder you like, but remember that with a chocolate baked good, the cocoa powder is everything! 
  • For the jumbo cupcake/muffin pan (6 cells, twice the capacity of a standard cupcake pan) I use this version. For the jumbo cupcake liners, I like to use dark brown or black liners like these with chocolate cupcakes, so they just sort of blend in with the dark cupcake. 
  • For the white corn syrup (corn syrup with no colour), being in Canada I use Crown Lily White Corn Syrup, but a popular and comparable American brand is Karo
  • For the the vanilla extract in the cupcakes themselves, I always use Nielsen Massey Pure Vanilla Extract and for the vanilla bean paste I used Nielsen Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste
  • Don't forget your kitchen/candy thermometer! One such as this, is affordable, and perfect for everything from meat to candy. 
  • For the piping of the frosting, I used the Ateco 18" piping bag and the Ateco #809 large, round tip. 
  • For the sprinkles, I used Cloud 9 Twinkle Sprinkle Medley from Sweetapolita (hey--that's me! hehe), but you can use any sprinkles you love!

 

See you soon with more!          
  • Rosie Alyea
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