Happy Happy Cupcake Cookies

Happy Happy Cupcake Cookies via Sweetapolita Hello from the land of happy, happy cupcake cookies! Dare you not to smile. Yes, it's cookie o'clock around my house right now. I think, of course, it has something to do with the season, and with two little cakelets (who are suddenly not so little!) who love to decorate and gift such tasty and colourful things. We're about to dive into more traditionally seasonal gingerbread cookies and such, but before we get too into holiday-baking, we made a batch of these little guys to make us, and those around us, smile. And they really do the trick--smiles aplenty Inspired by a package of candy eyeballs that have been staring at me every time I open my sprinkle cupboard, I thought it would be fun to create little pastel confection friends to share. Starting with a half-batch of The Perfect Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookies, which I have to admit get better every time I taste them while keeping their shape like a dream, we added some pastel Royal Icing in a cakey colour scheme and topped them with the obligatory (for good reason) sprinkles and then quirky and lovable faces. Then we gobbled them up with no shame. Oops. Happy Happy Cupcake Cookies Via Sweetapolita Sometimes decorating with royal icing is rather intimidating if you've not done it before, or often, but when you go slowly and thoughtfully, I find it rather therapeutic. For many "patterns" or shapes it's helpful to draw directly onto the cookie with a food marker (as the first cookie above shows) and then pipe your icing directly over the lines. This really helps! This type of cookie decorating is also one of those things that makes you feel incredibly proud when you see how lovely the finished product is--the porcelain finish of royal icing gives cookies such a fancy feel, even though it's simple to do. It can also be used for simple embellishments, as we did with the Jumbo Gingerbread Folk. It adds just enough sweetness to balance an otherwise intense cookie, such as gingerbread or these dark chocolate sugar cookies. Happy Happy Cupcake Cookies I was just thinking how adding these happy little faces to pretty much any decorated cookie would bring an instant hit of cute. Happy pie cookies, happy ice cream cone cookies, happy cookie cookies . . . I love designs like this because it's impossible to not smile when you look at them--perfect for giving to kids and grown ups alike. I can promise you that if you make a batch of these happy little folk, you will feel the love. [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:109] Sweetapolita's Notes:
  • For the cupcake cookie cutter I used this style, but you can use any one you wish! You could add this face to pretty much anything and it would instantly create a cute-as-can-be cookie.
  • For the dark chocolate cookies I used Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder, Extra Brute (this link is where I have found the best price to be--one of my favourite shops).
  • I used these small Confetti Pastel Sequins for the top portion of the cookie, and these Pastel Edible Confetti sprinkles for the cheeks.
  • I used these Jumbo Hearts Sprinkles for the heart detail.
  • I used these Candy Eyeballs (you could also just pipe white dots with a smaller black dot of icing if you can't find the eyeballs--they just make life easier).
  • I used the AmeriColor Black Food Writer for the drawing the mouth and for outlining the frosting swirls prior to icing.
See you soon with another sugary recipe! ♥
Rosie Alyea
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Midnight Pumpkin Layer Cake

Happy spiced-cake season, friends! And while I've never really subscribed to limiting dessert-making to seasonally appropriate goodies, who the heck can resist an autumn-inspired cake, bar, cookie, or pie--not me (remember this and this?). The heart-warming fragrance in the house while they bake is alone enough of a reason to bake every spiced sweet we can think of. So in the name of autumn (and the name of awesomeness), I created this ooey-gooey, glossy, decadent, Midnight Pumpkin Layer Cake. Actually, I created 4 ooey-gooey, glossy, decadent Midnight Pumpkin Layer Cakes (and I wonder why it takes me so long to post sometimes), because the first 3 were all of those things, but they weren't "it." You know? The next question is, what did I do with the first 3, right? Ahem. #nomorejeansforsweetapolita So here's what I came up with: 2 layers of moist, spiced pumpkin cake sandwiching a layer of dark chocolate cake and layers of chocolate chip cream cheese filling and homemade salted caramel, all frosted in the most luxurious (thanks Tamar from Instagram for that adjective--you were right, there really is no other word for this!) dark chocolate glossy frosting I have ever experienced. A few simple edible gold stars to bring a hint of twilight to our "midnight" frosting, and we have officially have the Midnight Pumpkin Layer Cake. Midnight Pumpkin Layer Cake by Sweetapolita Let's take a minute to talk about this frosting. Oh, this amazing, rich, dark-as-night, over-the-top chocolaty frosting. Made on the stove top with butter, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, heavy whipping cream, sour cream, and vanilla, it's a dream to make, and clearly a dream to eat. I use my favourite extra dark cocoa powder, which lends to the intensity of the frosting, both visually and in taste, and the sour cream offers richness and a slight tang that balances out the extreme chocolate flavour (yet the actual taste of sour cream is not present). I first came across a recipe for glossy chocolate frosting here, but I found that no matter what I did (I tried the recipe twice) the frosting was too thin for me (very possible that it was because of my own occasional nerdiness--perhaps I didn't do something correctly since hers appears quite thick), so I modified the recipe to ensure a thicker version that holds up to frosting a taller cake and is stable enough for piping. I can't even get over this stuff. Midnight Pumpkin Layer Cake by Sweetapolita So here's a close-up of what's going on inside this cake--whoa! As I stare at this photo, I can't decide if it's the most beautiful hot-mess of deliciousness, or if it's just, well, a hot mess. Haha. This is how this cake looks inside when it's freshly assembled and hasn't had time to offer clean, precise cuts, and when I don't spend time styling the guts to ensure that they're somewhat tidy, but, really, don't we all just want to get up all in there and live happily ever after? After making it 3 times already, I was so eager to share that I just went for the gloriously gooey look. The cream cheese filling is essentially my cream cheese frosting recipe, but with a generous handful of mini chocolate chips. It's creamy-as-can-be and offers that notable tang that helps balance the sweetness of the salted caramel. What I love about using cream cheese filling/frosting in a cake is that it suddenly offers a cheesecake-like quality without having to go through the process of actually making a cheesecake layer for the cake (which in itself is amazing, but is a lot more involved than whipping up a quick batch of this filling). And if you're ever not sure if a cream cheese filling would work for a cake you're creating, just ask yourself if the flavours/ingredients you're using would work in an actual cheesecake--you'll find that the answer is almost always "yes." Midnight Pumpkin Layer Cake by Sweetapolita Here's the recipe for this decadent autumn-inspired layer cake (see below the recipe for my notes). It's so much easier to make than it looks, and I'm thinking that, together, we can kick up the ooh-and-ahh factor at family gatherings this season. Who's with me? ★

Midnight Pumpkin Layer Cake

Moist spicy pumpkin cake layered with dark chocolate cake, salted caramel, chocolate chip cream cheese filling, and topped with glossy, rich, and super-creamy dark chocolate frosting.

For the Chocolate Cake Layer:

  • 3/4 cup 80 g all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup 150 g sugar
  • 1/2 cup 60 g best-quality dark cocoa powder (see Sweetapolita's Notes)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup 120 ml buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup 80 ml hot coffee
  • 3 tablespoons 45 ml vegetable oil
  • 1 egg (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Spiced Pumpkin Cake Layers:

  • 1 cup 200 g granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup 120 g packed light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs (room temperature)
  • 3/4 cup 180 ml vegetable oil (or sunflower oil)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups 300 ml pumpkin puree (canned)
  • 2 cups 260 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

For the Salted Caramel:

  • 1 cup 200 g sugar
  • 1/4 cup 60 ml water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup 120 ml heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Generous pinch of sea salt

For the Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 1/2 cup 115 g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups 190 g confectioners' sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 8 oz 250 g package of cream cheese, cut into cubes, very soft
  • 3/4 cup 120 g mini chocolate chips

For the Glossy Dark Chocolate Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup 115 g unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups 300 g sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups 150 g best-quality dark cocoa powder, sifted (see Sweetapolita's Notes)
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup 180 ml heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup 120 ml sour cream (full fat)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Edible gold stars (for decorating (see Sweetapoilta's Notes))

For the Chocolate Cake Layer:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray an 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray and line the bottom with a parchment paper round.
  2. Into a large bowl, sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a medium measuring cup with a spout, combine the buttermilk, coffee, oil, egg, and vanilla.
  4. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and whisk until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pan.
  5. Bake on the middle rack until a toothpick or skewer inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs, about 20 minutes. Try not to over-bake. Let cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn onto a wire rack until completely cool.

For the Spiced Pumpkin Cake Layers:

  1. Spray two 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray and line the bottoms with a parchment paper rounds.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and eggs together on medium-high speed (I use #6 on KitchenAid) until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the oil and vanilla and beat on medium until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the pumpkin filling and mix until combined, about another 30 seconds.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, and salt, and with the mixer on the lowest speed, gradually add to pumpkin/egg mixture.
  4. Evenly distribute batter into the prepared pans (weigh them if possible with digital kitchen scale for 560 g per pan), smooth with a small offset palette knife and place in the center of the middle rack of the oven, about 2 inches apart. Bake until a knife or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
  5. Let pans cool on a wire rack 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack and cool them completely.

For the Salted Caramel:

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir the sugar, water, and lemon juice until combined. Brush down the sides of the saucepan with a wet pastry brush and increase the heat to medium-high.
  2. Stop stirring, and let the mixture bubble until it reaches an amber colour, about 8 minutes. Promptly remove the saucepan from the heat and add the heavy cream and butter (be careful, as this will bubble and steam aggressively for a moment). No need to stir.
  3. Clip a candy thermometer onto the saucepan and return the mixture to medium-high heat until it reaches 248°F). Transfer the caramel to the heatproof bowl and stir in the vanilla and sea salt. As the caramel reaches room temperature it will become thick and spreadable. Store in a sealed jar in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

For the Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Filling:

  1. In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until very light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and salt, and beat on low speed until well combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat until very light and fluffy once again, about 6 more minutes. Add the softened cream cheese and beat until combined, about 1 more minute. Stir in the chocolate chips. Keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.

For the Glossy Dark Chocolate Frosting:

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the sugar, sifted cocoa powder, and salt and until everything is combined. The mixture will be very thick and grainy.
  2. Add the heavy whipping cream and sour cream and whisk until well combined. Continue to heat the mixture until hot to the touch, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla. Transfer the frosting to a heatproof bowl and let cool. Cover the frosting and refrigerate until spreadable, about 3 hours.

Assembly of the Midnight Pumpkin Layer Cake:

  1. Prepare the frostings and fillings by ensuring they are all at a spreadable consistency (if your caramel is too thick, you can microwave for about 10 seconds to soften). Put a dollop of chocolate frosting on an 8-inch round cake board (or cake plate) or 10-inch scalloped cake board.
  2. Put one of pumpkin layers top-up on the cake board or plate, and use a a small offset palette knife to spread one-half of the chocolate chip cream cheese filling evenly across layer. Use a clean small offset palette knife to spread one-half of the caramel on top, leaving about 2-inches away from perimeter of cake layer (the caramel will spread a bit more when cake is assembled). Place the chocolate cake layer on top and repeat with another layer of frosting and caramel. Put the final pumpkin cake layer top-down. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and wiggle the layers into place. Refrigerate the cake until stable, at least 30 minutes.
  3. Using a turntable, if possible, frost entire outside of cake with a layer of glossy chocolate frosting to seal in the crumbs. Chill until the frosting begins to firm-up, about 15 minutes. Repeat with another layer of frosting. Holding a tall pastry comb in your dominant hand, press it gently against the side of the cake at a 45° angle, and keep it steady. Use the other hand to slowly rotate the turntable until you have gone all the way around the cake.
  4. Fit a medium pastry bag with a medium-large closed star tip, such as 1M, and fill with the remaining chocolate frosting. Pipe a border around the top of the cake. Sprinkle on gold edible stars, if desired.
  5. Store cake in refrigerator and remove about 2 hours before serving. The cake will keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Sweetapolita's Notes:
  • For the chocolate cake and the glossy chocolate frosting I used Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder Extra Brute (extra dark), but you can use any good-quality dark cocoa powder you prefer.
  • For the gold star sprinkles, I use these Edible Gold Stars.
  • You can make the cake layers up to 1 day ahead, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and keep at room temperature.
  • You can make the caramel up to one week ahead--keep covered in refrigerator. You can microwave the caramel in 10-second intervals when you need to use it for spreading in the cake. I recommend doubling the recipe for this caramel and using the rest of the batch on ice cream, waffles, pancakes, and more. It's truly amazing.
  • You can make the cream cheese frosting up to 1 day ahead, and keep covered in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before using.
  • You can make the glossy chocolate frosting up to 3 days ahead and keep covered in the refrigerator.
  • You're awesome. Now go make the heck out of this cake!
See you soon!
Rosie Alyea
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Birthday Medley Layer Cake

Hi! So maybe I have a thing for turquoise layer cakes, but they're just so pleasing. And while a vintagey looking turquoise cake with sprinkles seem to shout "vanilla birthday cake!" I thought we could mix things up a little with this recipe. You know that I'm a sucker for a cake that has an ahhh-factor upon cutting it open--especially when it's so simple on the outside--and this cake celebrates just that. Best part about a 5-layer party cake that boasts 4 different flavoured layers? Only making 2 batter recipes. This cake is super simple and, dare I say, "quick" to make, especially considering it has serious wow-factor going for it. So what exactly is a "Birthday Medley Layer Cake?" Well, it's a chocolate chip, chocolate butter, cherry chip, confetti layer cake filled and frosted with a quintessential old-fashioned recipe: vanilla cooked flour frosting. We tint the frosting pastel turquoise for a lovely visual and sprinkle on some confetti sprinkles because, well, that's what we do. With one vanilla cake batter recipe, we can easily create 3 of the 5 layers by simply incorporating different additions--chocolate chips, confetti quins, and chopped Maraschino cherries. The chocolate butter cake is a partial batch divided into 2 pans, giving us a total of 5 layers. The chocolate cake adds some richness and of course visual appeal. These flavours are a celebration of some of the most beloved birthday cakes, so how can we go wrong? So let's talk more about "cooked flour frosting." This was something I hadn't tried in years, and I really couldn't remember much about the outcome. I kept seeing it pop up in different recipes online, and I'd be meaning to make it again out of pure curiosity. I figured this cake was a perfect time to make a batch and run with the whole "old-fashioned" flavours thing. If you're not familiar with this type of frosting, I would liken it more to a meringue-based buttercream (such as Swiss Meringue Buttercream), than a sweet bakery frosting--it has a silkiness to it that isn't necessary possible with confectioners' sugar frosting, as well as a butteriness that might not be for some. Much like meringue-based buttercream it isn't particularly sweet. It also lends nicely to frosting a cake, piping cupcakes or even cake borders and decorations. I used a version of this recipe from Leelabean Bakes (she also offers a lot of variation ideas). We start by cooking flour and milk into a super thick consistency, and then we add more milk and sugar until the mixture boils. Once cooled, this concoction is added to whipped butter, blended together and flavoured with vanilla, or even chocolate, peanut butter, etc. As far as ease goes, I'd say it is simple, although the wait time for the mixture to cool can be several hours. I made it the night before and then finished the frosting in the morning, but if you were in a rush this might not be the best frosting option. I couldn't decide if I should try a chocolate-frosted version first or this vanilla option, so if you happen to make this cake with a chocolate frosting, I'd love to hear about it! And since I am sitting here eating this cake and drinking some incredible Pig Iron coffee, I feel compelled to tell you about Parachute Coffee, which is how I was lucky enough to discover it. This Canadian company is comprised of 2 "caffeinated Canucks," and they are taking artisan coffee to a whole new level.  Mike and Jake are devoted to finding the best local hand-crafted, fresh-roasted coffee and delivering a different one to your doorstep each month. Because there is only one thing I love to consume more than cake, and that's good coffee. I think their concept is brilliant! And before I move onto sharing the recipe, here are a few bits of news from the land of Sugartown since my last post: I moved! It was kind of spontaneous, but we did it and while we aren't far from our old house, I am so much happier here. It was definitely time for a change. We're pretty much unpacked, but it seemed to take me the longest time to get into the groove in the new kitchen. The truth is, I kind of felt displaced, which was weird because I love the new environment. I've got most of my baking gear organized, and I'm feeling like I'm myself again. Phew. Now I just need to really figure out where the best spot will be for photographing my cakes . . . The cover of The Sweetapolita Bakebook is ready to go! I've shared it over here on the "My Book" section of my site. Now it really feels, well, real. So now let's make this cake!

Birthday Medley Layer Cake

For the vanilla-based layers (chocolate chip, confetti, and cherry chip):

  • 3 cups 345 g cake flour
  • 2 1/4 cups 450 g superfine sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup 170 g unsalted butter, cold and cut into about 15 pieces
  • 1 1/3 cups 320 ml whole milk, room temperature
  • 6 egg whites (room temperature)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 cup 150 g mini chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup 115 g confetti quin sprinkles
  • 1/4 cup Maraschino cherries (chopped (about 12 cherries))
  • 1 tablespoon Maraschino cherry juice
  • Drop pink gel-paste food color

For the chocolate layers:

  • 1 stick (115 g unsalted butter, softened)
  • 3/4 cup 165 g packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup 100 g superfine sugar
  • 2 eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups 155 g all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup 60 g dark cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup 240 ml buttermilk, room temperature

For the Vanilla Cooked Flour Frosting

  • 2 cups 480 ml whole milk
  • 1/3 cup 45 g all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups 400 g sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups 454 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Few drops turquoise gel-paste food color
  • Confetti quin sprinkles (for decorating)

For the vanilla-based layers:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease and line the bottoms of 3 round 8-inch pans with parchment. I use Parchment Paper Circles for ease.
  2. In a medium-sized measuring cup, combine and stir 1/3 cup of the milk, egg whites, vanilla, and almond extract. Set aside.
  3. Sift cake flour twice. Into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together, and mix on low-speed (I use the “stir” setting on my mixer) for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the butter, one piece at a time, and continue mixing until the mixture is a fine, crumbly texture, about 5 minutes. Add the 1 cup of milk and and mix on medium speed for 3 minutes.
  5. Scrape the sides of the bowl, decrease the speed to medium-low, and gradually add the egg/milk/extract mixture. Once the milk mixture has all been added, continue to mix for 30 seconds.
  6. Pour one-third of the batter (~2 1/2 cups)(500 grams) into one of the prepared pans, another third into another of the prepared pans, and keep the remaining batter in the bowl. Gently stir the chocolate chips into one of the pans of batter and spread the batter evenly with a small offset palette knife. Repeat with the sprinkles in the other pan of batter. Bake the 2 cake layers in the center of oven and 2" apart until a cake tester comes clean when inserted into the center, about 22 minutes. Be so careful to not over-bake. Check cake at 20 minutes, but not before, and once you feel it’s almost ready, set the timer for 2 minute intervals. While the cakes are baking, add a drop of pink gel paste into the remaining batter, along with the chopped cherries. Turn the batter into the third prepared cake pan. Bake once the first 2 layers are out of the oven. Let cool on racks for 10 minutes before loosening the sides with a small metal spatula, and invert onto greased wire racks. Gently turn cakes back up, so the tops are up and cool completely.
  7. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days, refrigerator for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 2 months. Best enjoyed day 1 or 2.

For the chocolate cake layers:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease and line the bottoms of 2 round 8-inch pans with parchment.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, superfine sugar, and vanilla on medium-high speed until lighter in color and slightly increased in volume, about 7 minutes. Lower the speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each is fully incorporated before adding the next, about 30 seconds.
  3. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl.
  4. Alternate dry ingredients and buttermilk into creamed mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated, or finish by hand gently.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the 2 prepared pans. Smooth the batter with a small offset palette knife, and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs, about 25 minutes. rotating once after 20 minutes. Cake is done when toothpick or skewer comes barely clean.
  6. Let pans cool on wire rack for 20 minutes, then invert cakes onto racks, gently, peeling away parchment rounds. Let cool completely.

For the frosting:

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-heat, whisk together 1/2 cup (120 ml) of the milk and the flour until combined. Continue whisking until the mixture thickens and reaches the consistency of brownie batter, 6-8 minutes. Add the remaining milk, sugar, and salt and whisk constantly until the mixture comes to a boil, about 10 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and pour through a sieve and into a medium bowl. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly over the mixture and place in the refrigerator until cool (this can be done the night before to save time).
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if using a hand mixer), beat the butter until very fluffy, about 7 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap from the cool milk/flour/sugar mixture and stir until smooth (it will be a slightly gelatinous consistency). With the mixer running on medium speed, gradually add all of the milk mixture to the whipped butter. Beat until smooth well-incorporated. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. To remove some of the air bubbles, beat on low speed for a few minutes.

Assemble the cake:

  1. Put a dollop of frosting on an 8-inch round cake board (or cake plate) or 9-inch scalloped cake board.
  2. Put your confetti cake layer top-up on the cake board or plate, and spread about 3/4 cup of frosting evenly across layer. Put a chocolate layer on top and repeat with another layer of frosting. Add the cherry chip layer on top, more frosting, followed by the second chocolate layer. Now place the final layer (chocolate chip) top-down. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and wiggle the layers into place. Refrigerate the cake for about 20 minutes. Add a few drops of turquoise gel paste to the remaining frosting and beat to combine.
  3. Using a turntable, if possible, frost entire outside of cake with a thin layer of turquoise frosting to seal in the crumbs. Chill until the frosting begins to firm-up, about 15 minutes. Repeat with another thin layer of frosting, this time working to achieve a smooth finish. Chill for another 15 minutes.
  4. Apply a third coat of frosting to the cake. Holding a small offset spatula in your dominant hand, press it gently against the side of the cake, starting at the very bottom, and keep it steady. Use the other hand to slowly rotate the turntable until you have gone all the way around the cake, raising the spatula just slightly at every full rotation, so you are working your way up the cake. Clean the spatula and then use the same technique on the top of the cake, starting from the outside working in. This time you will hold the spatula flat against the top of the cake. Sprinkle confetti quins around the perimeter of the cake.
  5. The cake will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Sweetapolita's Notes:
  • For the chocolate cake, I always use Cacao Barry Extra Brute cocoa powder--it's super dark and rich.
  • I bought my vintage ballerina cake toppers here.
  • One of my favourite and most-used gel paste colors (and the one I used on this cake) is Americolor Turquoise. A little goes a long way!
  • When making confetti cake, I like to use Edible Confetti Sprinkles because they don't tend to bleed color as much as some other variations.
  • If you're not sure about "cooked flour frosting," or you want a more traditionally sweet party cake frosting, try this recipe (and oh yes, more ballerinas dancing atop a cake!).
Rosie Alyea
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New Blog Design + KitchenAid Mixer Giveaway!

cat-kitchenaid-artisan-aqua-sky-stand-mixerHello friends! Welcome to my newly redesigned blog! I am totally over-the-top excited about the new look and feel of the site, as well as the improved functionality. Thanks to the incredibly talented Melissa at Melissa Rose Design Studio for totally "getting it," and going above and beyond to make the site awesome. Not only has the design changed, but if you take some time to peek around, you'll see that there are several improved areas of the site. My favourite feature of the site now is the visual recipe index--finally, right? So now, to search for a recipe you will see that each one is grouped as before, but with photos for easy reference. This should make searching for "that vintage-looking blue cake" or "that pinky cake with the swirls" so much more efficient! You'll also notice a tab above for "My Book," which is where I chat a bit about it, link to online retailers for pre-order, and going forward where I will be sharing more and more info about the book, the cover, events, and more. To celebrate my new website, I'm giving away a KitchenAid Artisan 5QT Stand Mixer--the mixer I love, adore, and possibly abuse on a regular basis. I've shown the mixer in one of my favourite colours, Aqua Sky, but the winner will have a choice of 1 of 25 colour options! a Rafflecopter giveaway I'll be back soon with another cake recipe, as well as that promised video on making macarons. In the meantime, enter the giveaway for a chance to win!
Rosie Alyea
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6-Layer Neapolitan Macaron Delight Cake

Neapolitan Macaron Delight Cake via Sweetapolita Well, all I can say is thank-the-cake-fairies that Neapolitan will never be oh-so-vanilla. It's nearly impossible to get tired of making, serving, seeing, or eating anything with the beloved trio of chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla. But since it's such a classic, and many bakers love to create Neapolitan-themed treats, it never hurts to put a new spin on things. I've had some fun with this idea before with the Inside-Out Neapolitan Cake, which was a combination of chocolate butter cake with a trio of strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream flavours. I've also made it with a more classic flavoured cake layers variation with the Neapolitan 5-Layer Birthday Cake with Strawberry Frosting, which is perfectly delightful, but this time I wanted to kick it up a notch and make it a bit more unique and decadent. And since that's what I love to do, I did! Neapolitan Macaron Delight Cake via Sweetapolita This time I opted to split the layers into 6 (one of the easiest ways to add instant wow-factor to a cake), fill them with dark chocolate ganache, strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream, vanilla Swiss buttercream, and whole neapolitan macarons. I frosted the entire cake with chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream, and then added a pink glaze for drama and topped with more of the macarons and a few small pink sugar beads. As with this lemony blueberry cake I made awhile back, the macarons add the most amazing texture inside the cake, as well as a unique visual when the cake is sliced. The distinct macaron crunch & chew factor is the perfect match for the rich and decadent ganache, satiny buttercream frosting, and of course the deep, dark, and moist chocolate cake. Neapolitan Macaron via Sweetapolita Okay, so let's talk macarons. I know if you've had any type of macaron failure, like I had over the years, you might be somewhat traumatized and avoid them at all costs. Or, maybe you've never tried them but the baking world has freaked you out with all of this talk about how hard they are to make. Either way, I'm here to tell you that not only are they totally doable, but they are so quick to make as well. And while these facts are, well, facts, there is a trick to it. After trying many, many macaron recipes, I've discovered what works each and every time. I've included the recipe below, but I thought it might be easier if I followed this post with one devoted to macarons. I will go ahead and make a little video as well, just to make it a little more visual. If you are comfortable with making macarons, and you've never made a neapolitan version, I know you will adore these! Dark chocolate macaron shell (which tastes just like a chewy brownie with a hint of almond) paired with strawberry macaron shell filled with vanilla buttercream. Simple and splendid. Neapolitan Macaron Delight Cake via Sweetapolita For such a quick and easy step, I love how much drama the pink glaze adds. Of course you could use this technique for any cake and have fun with other color palettes. A simple whisk of confectioners' sugar and milk and you've got yourself a sweet and versatile white glaze, or of course you could have fun with other colors, play with adding extract or flavor oil, and use this technique for any cake (just remember to chill the cake first, so that the frosting is firm to the touch). Weneapolitan. And while this cake does have several components, most of them can be made ahead (see Sweetapolita's Notes), making this recipe much less daunting. I promise. In other news, I'm so thrilled about the upcoming launch of my new & improved site coming early September! While the new design makes me giddy, one of the things I'm most excited about is the visual recipe index--finally! So all of my recipes are grouped with images, and not just the recipe names, and the index categories are easy to navigate and super functional. There are many other updates and changes in the new design, and I can't wait to show you. My graphic designer, Melissa, did such an amazing job, and I just know you will adore what we came up with. I can't stop looking at it. Counting the days until the launch! ♥ And if you missed my update in my last post, Birthday Party Ice Cream Cake, my first book, The Sweetapolita Bakebook, hit shelves April 7th, 2015, but it is already on pre-order on Amazon, Indigo, and many other online retailers. Yay! (Just thinking that this would be a good time for me to grasp that this whole book thing is actually happening. Oh my!) The book's cover will soon be added to the listing, and I can't wait to share it here on the blog when it's ready to go. So here's the recipe for this towering delight:

6-Layer Neapolitan Macaron Delight Cake

For the Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream:

  • 8 large fresh egg whites
  • 2 cups 400 g superfine granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups 510 g unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 10 ounces 300 g best-quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons strawberry puree OR preserves
  • Few drops pink gel colour

For the Strawberry Macarons:

  • 135 g almond flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
  • 125 g confectioners' sugar
  • 105 g egg whites (room temperature)
  • 105 g superfine OR instant dissolving sugar (see Notes)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon strawberry flavor oil (I use Lorann)
  • Few drops AmeriColor Soft Pink gel paste

For the Chocolate Macarons:

  • 1 recipe Strawberry Macarons (above but omit the flavor oil and pink food color, and add 3 tablespoons dark cocoa powder)

For the Ganache:

  • 10 ounces 300 g best-quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups 300 ml heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Cake:

  • 3/4 cup 170 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups 440 g packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons 10 ml pure vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs (room temperature)
  • 1-3/4 cups 220 g all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup 90 g unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups 360 ml buttermilk, at room temperature

For the Glaze:

  • 1 cup 125 g confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • Drop AmeriColor Soft Pink gel paste

Make the Buttercream:

  1. Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice, to remove any trace of grease. Add egg whites and sugar, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 125°F, or if you don't have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
  2. Place bowl back on mixer and fit with whisk attachment. Whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch (this can take up to 15 minutes, or longer). Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add softened butter in chunks until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth).
  3. Add vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined. Keep in airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day, refrigerated for up to 7 days, or frozen for up to 2 months.

Make the strawberry macarons:

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats. Fit a large pastry bag with a large plain round tip, such as #1A.
  2. Into a medium bowl, use a fine mesh sieve to sift the almond flour, confectioners' sugar, and salt, twice. It might take a little effort to push through the larger bits of almond flour, for which you can use a wooden spoon. Discard any bits that won't fit through the sieve.
  3. Wipe a stainless steel bowl and whisk attachment with lemon juice to eliminate any grease (or beaters and bowl if you are using a hand mixer). Whisk the egg whites on low speed until frothy, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium and add the superfine sugar one tablespoon at a time. Increase mixer speed to medium-high and beat until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes Add a drop or two of pink color and the flavor oil to the meringue and beat until combined, about 20 seconds.
  4. Add one-third of the dry mixture to the meringue and fold in with a rubber spatula, but working deflate the meringue at the same time. It should take about 15 stirs/folds (strokes) before the dry ingredients have been incorporated. Add the remaining dry mixture to the bowl and fold/stir/deflate in the same manner until the batter "flows like magma," about 25 more strokes.
  5. Fill the pastry bag two-thirds full with the mixture and pipe 1-inch circles about 2-inches apart on each tray. Lift and drop the trays firmly on the counter a few times to rid of air bubbles.
  6. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Let the piped macarons sit while the oven preheats. Bake one tray at a time in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes. Let cool on trays. When completely cool, carefully peel the macarons off of the paper/silicone mat. If you find they are sticking even slightly, use a thin metal spatula to pry them off.

Make the Chocolate Macarons:

  1. Repeat the steps for the Strawberry Macarons, but omit the strawberry flavor oil and pink color, and sift 3 tablespoons of dark cocoa powder along with the dry ingredients.

Assemble the Neapolitan Macarons:

  1. Pair one of each strawberry and chocolate macaron with the closest in size and pipe a dollop of the vanilla buttercream on the flat side of each chocolate macaron. Sandwich each one with the strawberry macaron. Reserve the "best" macarons that are the most uniform for the top (8-10). For best results, let macarons sit in an airtight container in the fridge for at least a day. Bring macarons to room temperature when ready to use/eat.

Make the Ganache:

  1. Place the chocolate in a medium saucepan or bowl with tall sides. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the cream, corn syrup, and salt just until the edges start to bubble (watch carefully, as it's easy to scold the cream). Remove from the heat and pour the mixture over the chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute and then use an immersion blender to combine the mixture until glossy and smooth. Add the butter and vanilla and blend until well incorporated. Let sit at room temperature until spreadable, about 2 hours. Refrigerate for up until 5 days. Bring to room temperature on counter, or microwave in 10-second increments until desired consistency is reached.

Make the Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease three 7-inch round cake pans and line the bottom with parchment.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar and vanilla on medium-high speed until lighter in color and slightly increased in volume, about 8 minutes. Lower the speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each is fully incorporated before adding the next.
  3. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder into a medium bowl. Add the salt to the dry ingredients after sifting, and whisk dry ingredients.
  4. Alternate dry ingredients and buttermilk into creamed mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated, or finish by hand gently.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. If possible, weigh the batter in each cake pan (about 450 grams per pan, excluding the pans--you will want to tare the scale each time.) This ensures even layers. Smooth with small offset palette knife, and bake until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out with only a few crumbs, about 25 minutes.
  6. Let pans cool on wire rack for 20 minutes, then invert cakes onto racks, gently, peeling away parchment rounds. Let cool completely.

Assemble the 6-Layer Neapolitan Macaron Delight Cake

  1. Spread a small dollop of buttercream onto an 7-inch round cake board. Cut your 3 cake layers each once horizontally with a long, serrated knife, so you have a total of 6 thin layers.
  2. Transfer about 2 cups of buttercream to a medium bowl and stir in the strawberry preserves and a drop or two of pink gel paste color.
  3. Place your first layer face-up on the board (or plate) and spread one-fifth of the ganache using a small offset spatula, leaving about 1/2" around the edge. With a clean offset spatula, spread about one half of the strawberry buttercream on top. Place another cake layer to top, face-up, and spread another fifth of the ganache on top, followed by a layer of macarons. Press the macarons gently into the ganache.
  4. Place another layer on top and spread more ganache, followed by about 1 cup of the vanilla buttercream. Place the next layer on top and spread more ganache, followed by another layer of macarons, gently pushing them into place.
  5. Place the next layer on top and spread the remaining ganache followed by the strawberry buttercream. Place the final layer on top, face-down. Wrap the cake in plastic wrap and use your hands to wiggle and straighten the cake into place, if necessary. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  6. In a medium microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup, melt the 10 ounces of dark chocolate in small increments, about 90 seconds total. Once the melted chocolate cools slightly add it to the remaining buttercream and beat to combine.
  7. Remove the cake from the fridge and place on cake turntable, if using. Frost the entire outside of cake with a thin layer of the chocolate buttercream to seal in crumbs. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes. Repeat with another layer of frosting, this time working to get the frosting as smooth as possible. Chill again until firm, about another 30-60 minutes.

Make the Glaze: In a small bowl, whisk the confectioners' sugar and milk. Add the color until desired shade of pink is achieved.

  1. Use a small offset spatula to spread the glaze over the top of the cake, pushing it slightly over the edges to allow the glaze to drip down the sides. Top the cake with 8-10 neapolitan macarons, pushing them gently into the glaze to secure. Add sugar pearls or other decorations of choice, if desired.
  2. You did it! Hooray! Serve cake at room temperature, but keep refrigerated if not serving the day it's made. Cake will keep for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature several hours before serving.
Sweetapolita's Notes: 
  • When making a French meringue, as we do with the macarons (this is a meringue made without heating the sugar and/or egg whites prior to mixing), I splurge on instant dissolving sugar (aka fruit and berry sugar). This is basically granulated sugar that is even more fine than superfine sugar, and it dissolves much quicker than superfine sugar. You can make your own superfine and dissolving sugar by pulsing regular granulated sugar in the food processor for about a minute for superfine, and about 90 seconds for the fineness of dissolving sugar. I have to admit that for dissolving sugar I tend to buy it prepackaged, just to ensure it's fine enough. For superfine sugar in everyday baking, I use the food processor.
  • For the chocolate cake, I used my favourite cocoa powder, Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder - Extra Brute. It's fabulously dark and lends an intense chocolate flavor to cake and tons of other desserts.
  • For the ganache and chocolate buttercream, I used Callebaut Semisweet Chocolate Callets.
  • For the macarons, I always use Bob's Red Mill Flour Almond Meal--since we use such a small amount for each batch of macarons, the splurge is worth it, as this is the only almond flour I've had great success with.
  • True, having three 7-inch round cake pans on hand might be a bit of a stretch, but if you think you will be baking a lot of layer cakes (especially those from this blog), I do recommend investing in them (I love Fat Daddio's brand, but any good quality pan would work). They are just the right size to bake up three layers that are easily cut horizontally into 2. If you are eager to make this cake and don't have access to those pans, you can bake in three 8-inch round pans, but will likely find the layers a bit too thin to cut into two, so you could stick with a 3-layer cake.
  • To make this cake recipe a lot less daunting, I recommend making a few of the components ahead of time. Make the Swiss buttercream up to 5 days ahead, or up to 2 months ahead if you freeze; make the ganache up to 5 days ahead; and make the macarons up to 2 days ahead.
  • Just a reminder that I will be back soon with a macaron-devoted post!
Good luck & enjoy!
Rosie Alyea
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Birthday Party Ice Cream Cake + Tales of July

Birthday Party Ice Cream Cake via Sweetapolita Hello my friends! I'm happy to report that I lived to tell the story of July 2014. Here are a few of the adventures that have been going on in my world during the past month: 1. I shot the cover of my book! This was a lot of pressure, in a way, but I think it's super-fun and I hope you love it. Speaking of the book, let me tell you that this crazy book o' sugary delights is officially called The Sweetapolita Bakebook. Hooray! And while I will be sharing many more detailed posts about the book, I can tell you that, even though it is still several months from release (April 7th, 2015), it is already available for pre-order in many online shops! You can find it for an amazing price on in the US: The Sweetapolita Bakebook, or if you are here in Canada with me, you can pre-order on or Indigo. For my international friends, there are already many options for online pre-ordering, such as (UK), (Spain), and many more! You'll notice that the cover has not yet been "revealed," on these listings, but that is soon to come. I will also be sharing that here with a whole bunch of fun details about the book itself. 2. I turned 40. Oh right, that. But I'm okay! And because I'm all cake-backwards in life, I eat it all year long and get excited to eat some other form of dessert on my birthday. Last year was lemon meringue pie from Betty's in Niagara Falls (and no, I didn't buy a slice, I bought the entire pie). This year was the most decadent of apple caramel crumbles with vanilla bean ice cream. Now I'm back to cake. But you know, 40 isn't so bad. Since the girls are a bit bigger now, I'm finding that I have more time to do the little things that being busy and in your thirties with babies doesn't necessarily allow for--things like painting my nails (often), shopping (and not in the kids' section at Target), organizing my life and closets, doing what I love to do in the kitchen, and more. I think it's going to be a decade of strength, change, adventure and, well, more cake. Oh, and possibly more of these. Sweetapolita 3. I had a super-fun photo shoot done for my author photo and such (above), by the talented Wendy & Michael Lewicki from Wendy Alana Photography near Toronto (you might also know Michael from his incredible blog, Verses from my Kitchen). I fell in love with Wendy's style, and couldn't wait to shoot with them. Just as I suspected, they are amazing people in "real life"--warm, talented, kind, and just the kind of people you want to be around. Even with dark skies, severe heat and humidity in the kitchen during shoot, and the impending storm outside during the shoot, they pulled off some serious magic. I can't wait to work with them again! 4. My sister-in-law got married! And my cakelets were (the world's cutest) flower girls. And I was a bridesmaid (are you still allowed to be called a "bridesmaid" when you're 40?). Oh, and I made a trio of three-tiered vintage-inspired pastel ruffle wedding cakes for the occasion. It was a big, happy, stunningly beautiful, pastel-blue-and-green day! Congratulations, Mary & Ted! ♥ 5. I was oven-less for 10 days. As in one-third of the month! It's true. I officially baked the life right out of my other oven, which was only 2 years old. So this whole I-can't-bake-a-cake thing was quite a test to my creativity. But alas, there are so many alternatives: candy-making, no-bake desserts, homemade popsicles, and, of course, ice cream cakes. So, as the serendipitous result of my not having an oven for 10 days, this birthday party ice cream cake was born: Birthday Party Ice Cream Cake via Sweetapolita Side note: I'm really fond of this photo--I love action shots, and yet I'm never in them since I usually shoot alone or with my cakelets. This time I was able to nab my husband to take this photo of me sprinkling the cake, and I think he did a pretty great job! Oh yes, this cake! We should really talk about this cake. I don't actually make enough ice cream cakes, I've decided. They are so easy to do, and can be as simple or as complex as you want them to be. Aside from the whipped cream frosting, every ingredient is store bought, so it's truly just taking ice cream in one form and magically turning it into a cake using cake pans, and then using your imagination to add some elements of texture in between the layers. I probably could have gone crazy with adding fun elements inside this cake, but I think I still kept it simple. The whipped cream frosting is the perfect option for frosting an ice cream cake, because it has such light and airy texture, and isn't very sweet. And since it takes colour so nicely and we can use it to pipe borders and such, it works like a dream. Birthday Party Ice Cream Cake via Sweetapolita So here's the craziness that's going on under that layer of pastel whipped cream frosting. When choosing the flavours for this cake, I turned to my childhood--always a magnificent place to look for inspiration. I thought about all of the treats I loved most, and how I could represent them in this cake. So starting from the bottom, we have an Oreo crumb crust, cotton candy ice cream, Oreos, birthday cake ice cream, bubble gum ice cream, ice cream sandwiches, and then neapolitan ice cream (don't you just love opening those "bricks" of neapolitan ice cream--depending on when you were born, it can really be an instant throwback to childhood). That's a lot of fun in one cake--especially one for which there is only about 15 minutes active time. Because each layer has to be very well chilled before working with it and in between each step, the overall project does take quite a bit of inactive time, so you would want to plan ahead on this one. If you made it over the course of a day and then chilled the whole thing overnight for the next day, it would work best. Birthday Party Ice Cream Cake via Sweetapolita Delightful, right? What I love about cakes like this, is that each slice is different--like a work of art. ♥

Birthday Party Ice Cream Cake

Who needs an oven to make a 6-layer cake? Layers of cotton candy ice cream, oreos, birthday cake ice cream, bubble gum ice cream, ice cream sandwiches, and neapolitan ice cream sit atop a buttery Oreo crumb crust and are smothered in pastel whipped cream and sprinkles for this ultimate birthday party (or any-day-of-the-week party) ice cream cake.

  • 1 1/4 cups 125 g chocolate cookie crumbs (I used Oreo Baking Crumbs)
  • 1/4 cup 115 g butter, melted
  • 1.5 L carton of each ice cream--cotton candy (birthday cake, bubble gum, and neapolitan, or flavours of your choice (total of 4 standard cartons of ice cream))
  • 8-10 chocolate sandwich cookies (such as Oreo)
  • 6 classic ice cream sandwiches

For the Whipped Cream Frosting:

  • 2 teaspoons gelatin (such as Knox)
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 1/2 cups 600 ml whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup 50 g sugar
  • Few drops each turquoise and pink gel paste colour (I used AmeriColor)
  • Sprinkles!

You will also need:

  • 9- inch springform pan
  • 2 9- inch round cake pans
  • Plastic wrap
  1. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment. Cover the inside of two 9-inch cake pans with plastic wrap--bottom and sides--leaving a few inches of overhang.
  2. Into a medium bowl, add the chocolate cookie crumbs and the butter, and stir until combined. Transfer the crumb mixture into the prepared springform pan, pressing into an even layer (I use the bottom of a measuring cup). Place the pan into the freezer to set for 15 minutes.
  3. Take one of the ice cream flavours out of the freezer, and use a knife to cut slabs of the ice cream. Transfer all of it onto the crust layer. (If you're using a multi-coloured variety like the cotton candy variety I used, try not to spread it around too much, or the colours will become muddled.) Place a layer of plastic wrap on top and press the ice cream into an even layer. Place the pan back into the freezer for at least 2 hours.
  4. Meanwhile, repeat this step with the 2 prepared cake pans, adding a layer of bubble gum ice cream to one, and neapolitan to the other. Add a layer of ice cream sandwiches to the top of the bubble gum layer, cutting some in half and quarters to fit as many in as possible. Freeze both pans for at least 2 hours.
  5. Remove the springform pan from the freezer and remove the plastic wrap. Place the Oreos on top of the ice cream in an even layer. Add all of the birthday cake ice cream and flatten with another layer of plastic wrap. Freeze for at least 2 hours.

Assembly of the Birthday Party Ice Cream Cake:

  1. Remove the springform pan from the freezer and run a small sharp knife around the edges to loosen. Release the latch and gently remove the outer ring from the cake. Remove the birthday cake layer from the freezer and use the plastic wrap overhang to remove the layer from the pan. Peel off the plastic wrap and place the birthday cake ice cream layer on top of the cake. Repeat with the bubble gum ice cream layer. Finally, remove the neapolitan/ice cream sandwich layer from the freezer and from the pan, and then invert the layer ice-cream sandwich side down and place on top of the cake. Cover the entire cake in plastic wrap, wiggle into place if necessary, and return to the freezer for at least 4-6 hours (ideally overnight) to set.

For the Whipped Cream Frosting:

  1. Place a stainless stand mixer bowl and the whisk attachment (or if using a hand mixer, a stainless mixing bowl and the mixer beaters) in the freezer for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Into a small microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle the gelatin onto the water and let sit for 10 minutes. Microwave the mixture for 20 seconds and stir to combine.
  3. Remove the bowl and whisk from the freezer, add the cream and sugar to the bowl and whip on medium speed for 30 seconds. With the mixer running, add the gelatin mixture in one go. Increase the speed to medium-high and whip until medium-stiff peaks form (thick enough to spread/pipe/hold its shape, but not over-whipped and grainy). Transfer about 1 1/4 cups of the whipped cream to a medium bowl and tint it pastel pink. Cover the pink cream with wrap and refrigerate until ready to pipe the border. Tint the remaining whipped cream turquoise.
  4. Remove the chilled cake from the freezer and transfer the cake from the springform pan base (remove the parchment round) to a cake board or plate.
  5. Frost the cake with the turquoise whipped cream, just as you would a regular cake--use a small offset palette knife to cover the top of the cake, and a medium straight palette knife to frost the sides. Return the cake to the freezer for about an hour.
  6. Remove the pink frosting from the fridge and transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large swirl tip (I used #887). Remove the cake from the freezer and pipe a pink border around the top of the cake. Gently press sprinkles into the bottom third of the cake, and add a few on top, if desired. Return the cake to the freezer until ready to serve. The cake will keep up to 1 week in the freezer.
Sweetapolita's Notes:
  • You can modify this recipe to any number of layers--simply omit or add the ice cream layers you wish. Since making extra layers is as simple as spreading ice cream into a plastic-wrap-covered cake pan, you could keep going. And going. #skyhighicecreamcake
  • For the gel paste colors, I used AmeriColor turquoise and Soft Pink.
  • I used rainbow jimmies for the sides, but of course you can use any sprinkles you love.
  • If you were really longing for a super-sweet frosting for this cake, more like a traditional birthday cake style, you could certainly do that.
Good luck & enjoy!
Rosie Alyea
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Barbie Cake + Meringue Girls Book Giveaway!

Barbie Cake via Sweetapolita Hello, my friends! So there's a series of words I never imagined using in the same sentence: chocolate, beet, cake, meringue, and Barbie! But yes. Oh yes. Now it just seems perfectly natural--necessary even--to combine them all. As a child of the 70s, I'm no stranger to doll cakes, but I have never had the joy of making one, particularly one of this magnitude. That was until I came across the recipe in a new baking book I absolutely adore: Meringue Girls: Incredible Sweets Everybody Cake Make by Alex Hoffler and Stacey O'Gorman. What a visual delight! I've always been a meringue enthusiast, but I have to say that these girls have taken meringues, and all things meringue, to an entirely new level. Meringue Girls Cookbook So if the cover doesn't have you giddy, the recipes and images throughout the book are sure to. And while the cover of a cookbook can sometimes be a little misleading, in this case the entire book lives up to the awesome package: it's filled to the brim with unique, vibrant, and easy to follow meringue recipes and useful techniques for foolproof meringue (we've all had our fair share of meringue mishaps, no?). As you probably know, I'm a meringue enthusiast, but even for those of you who haven't ventured too far down meringue lane, I have a feeling this book will inspire you more than you might expect. The "Meringue Girls" take us through the basics first--making the perfect batch of meringue every time, countless flavouring ideas (think Hot Cross Bun, Manuka Honey, Lavender, and more), and super-awesome colouring techniques, like "striping," as I did here with the Barbie Cake meringue "kisses," as they call them. They then delight us through different chapters of unexpected and irresistible meringue recipes, such as the cutest rainbow cake in the universe--the Meringue Rainbow Cake, the decadent Ferrero Rocher Meringue Tower, the unbelievably tempting Honeycomb, Chocolate, Salted Peanut Meringues (um, hello!), and so much more. Can you tell I'm totally smitten with this book? Meringue via Sweetapolita So I went for it. I embarked upon the intriguing Chocolate and Beet Barbie Cake. I mean, how could I not? The colours, the quirkiness, the nostalgia, oh my! Sure, it did seem like a bit of an undertaking but, well, I've been known to frolic with such recipes before, right? And I love a challenge. But in the end, it was more joy than challenge. I had so much fun creating this cake--for obvious reasons--but I think the best part about it was that it was like nothing I've ever done, or seen, before. I love that. I had to give it a whirl! (And as a mom of two little girly cakelets, I'd never be forgiven if I didn't choose this recipe to start.) Meringues via Sweetapolita So this Barbie and meringue extravaganza is essentially two layers of a very rich chocolate and beet cake--one baked in a regular flat round cake pan, and the other "layer" baked in a rounded bowl (you could also use a contour cake pan if you have it), and then filled and frosted with a luscious whipped cream and cream cheese icing, and then decorated with a rainbow of stripy meringue kisses that literally melt in your mouth--one of the reasons I can't get enough baked meringue of any kind. Oh, and of course we can't forget that Barbie is perched upon this delightful "skirt" for everyone to admire. So fun! Barbie Cake via Sweetapolita See, even Barbie says "ta-da!" She's impressed with the fanciful candy-coloured skirt I made her. (That was only after she forgave me for, um, cutting off her legs . . . ouch!). I was searching for more of a retro Barbie, but I was pleased with her blue and purple bodice so I went for her, even though she's more of a circa 1999 variety. It was, however, sometime around the moment I was styling her hair for this cake that I realized that I am officially never allowed to complain about my job. Let's just say no two days are the same. Barbie Cake via Sweetapolita Needless to say, the cake was so visually pleasing and incredibly decadent. I absolutely love the whipped cream and cream cheese icing--light as air, but with a rich and creamy texture and tang that only cream cheese brings. It paired nicely with the intensity of the chocolate cake and sweetness of the meringues. This is one of those cakes that pleases adults just as much as kids, I'm sure, which makes it a perfect party cake for anyone. ♥ And if that wasn't exciting enough, I'm thrilled to giveaway 3 copies of this gorgeous and unique book, Meringue Girls: Incredible Sweets Everybody Cake Make, courtesy of the folks at Chronicle Books! Here's the recipe for this whimsical cake!

Chocolate and Beet Barbie Cake + Meringue Girls Giveaway

  • For the Meringue Girls Mixture (for the meringue kisses:)
  • 300 g 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
  • 150 g egg whites (from about 5 eggs)
  • For the Cake:
  • 1 2/3 cups vegetable oil (plus more for greasing)
  • 2 3/4 cups 350 g all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups 450 g superfine sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups 150 g good-quality dark cocoa powder
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 lb cooked and peeled beets
  • 6 eggs
  • For the Icing:
  • 1 1/4 cup plus 3 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 3/4 cups 400 g cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup 25 g confectioners' sugar
  • 1 Barbie doll (clothes and legs removed)
  • Barbie accessories
  1. For the meringue (for the meringue kisses):
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  3. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, pour in the sugar, and put the baking sheet in the oven for about 5 minutes, until the edges of the sugar are just beginning to melt. Heating the sugar will help it dissolve in the egg whites more quickly and help create a glossy, stable mixture.
  4. Meanwhile, make sure the bowl and whisk attachment of your stand mixer are free from grease. Pour the egg whites into the bowl. Whisk on low speed at first, allowing small bubbles to form, then increase the speed to high and continue whisking until the egg whites form stiff peaks and the bowl can be tipped upside down without the whites falling out. Stop whisking just before the whites take on a cotton-woolly appearance; if they do, they have been over whisked, and the egg protein has lost some of its elasticity.
  5. By now, the sugar should be ready to take out of the oven.
  6. With the whites stiff and while whisking again at high speed, add one big tablespoonful of hot sugar after another to the bowl ensuring that the whites come back up to stiff peaks after each addition. Don't worry about small clumps of sugar, but avoid adding large chunks of caramelized sugar from the edges of the baking sheet.
  7. Once you have added the sugar, continue to whisk on high speed for 5 to 7 minutes. Rub a bit of the mixture between your fingers, and if you can still feel gritty sugar, keeping whisking at high speed until the sugar has dissolved, the mixture is smooth, and the bowl is a bit cooler to the touch. The meringue will continue to thicken up during this stage. You know it is ready to use when it forms a nice smooth, shiny peak on the tip of your upturned finger.

Lower the oven heat to 200°F.

  1. To make striped mini meringue kisses:
  2. Divide the meringue mixture into six portions. Form each portion into mini striped kisses in the color of your choice. (It's fine to pipe more than one color onto a single baking sheet.) Turn a large disposable piping bag with a 3/4 inch opening, or a reusable one, inside out. Invert the bag over a jug or bottle so that it holds itself up. Using natural food coloring and a clean paintbrush, paint wide stripes from the tip of your piping bag to halfway down (about five stripes). Roll the bag so the painted side is inside, folding the edges over to make a sturdy vessel.
  3. Carefully spoon your meringue mixture into the piping bag, rolling the sides up. you need to pack the meringue in tightly, ensure there are no air bubbles. Pinch the top of the bag closed, gently pushing the mixture in.
  4. If using a disposable piping bag, with sharp scissors, but the tip of the bag so that the opening measures 3/4 inch in diameter.
  5. To the get the meringue mixture flowing, twist the top of the piping bag to push the meringue to the bottom. Pipe small dollops onto the four corners of your baking sheets (if you are using a full batch of Meringue Girls Mixture, you will need a couple of baking sheets). Line the baking sheets with parchment paper; the meringue dollops with act as a glue and stick the paper to the sheets.
  6. Piping the mini meringue kisses:
  7. Hold the piping bag vertically with both hands, securing the twisted top with your dominant hand and placing your other hand halfway down the bag. Use the top hand to apply pressure and the lower hand to control the flow of the meringue. Squeeze the bag to form a kiss with a 1-inch base, and then lift the bag up while releasing some pressure so that the meringue forms a peak at the top. Space the kisses about 3/4 inch apart.
  8. Position racks in the upper and lower third of the oven. Slide the baking sheets into the oven Bake for 20 minutes, or until they can be lifted off the parchment paper with their bases intact. Let cool completely on the baking sheets. Stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, the kisses will keep for up to 2 weeks.
  9. To make the cake:
  10. Turn up the oven temperature to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch springform pan and the line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease an 8-inch ovenproof bowl (about 10 inches deep) and line it with parchment paper.
  11. Sift the flour, superfine sugar, cocoa powder, and baking powder into a large bowl. Cut the beets into large chunks and add to a blender along with the eggs and oil. Puree until smooth. Pour the beet mixture into the dry ingredients and fold until combined.
  12. Pour one-half of the batter into the prepared springform pan and the remaining batter into the prepared bowl. Bake the cakes for 40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the centers comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes, then invert the cakes out of the pan and bowl onto a wire rack. Peel off the parchment and let cool completely.
  13. To make the icing:
  14. In a large bowl, whip the cream to stiff peaks, then add the cream cheese and confectioners' sugar. Continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth and stiff.
  15. Bling out your Barbie however you'd like--goth or glam, it's up to you.
  16. Set the flat cake layer (the one baked in the springform pan) on a cake platter. Spread with about 1 cup of icing in an even layer. Set the bowl-shaped cake on top, tapered-end up. Using a knife, trim the stacked cake to form a nice hoop-skirt shape.
  17. With a long, slender knife (such as a bread knife), cut a 2-inch deep hole in the center of the cake and insert Barbie to just below her waist. Spread the remaining icing over the cake, taking care to work around Barbie.
  18. Carefully place meringue kisses on the cake, arranging on color at a time in a row around Barbie, starting at her waist and working down. Press the kisses lightly into the icing so that they stick and form a beautiful, colorful meringue-kiss skirt.
Sweetapolita's Notes:
    • For my meringue colours, I used AmeriColor gel paste colours in Lemon Yellow, Teal, Soft Pink, Regal Purple, and Sky Blue. The recipe does call for "natural" food colouring, which I didn't have, but you can certainly use those if you do. Because we use quite a bit to stripe the meringues, it would definitely be a great idea, but of course not crucial. You can make the meringues up to 2 weeks ahead, which is really helpful with a cake like this.
    • For the 8-inch flat cake layer, I used a standard 8 x 2-inch round cake pan, and it worked well!
    • Try to find a Barbie with plastic bodice, since having any article of clothing around the icing could get icky.
    • Have fun with this--it is like reliving childhood, but stylish and quirky. ♥
a Rafflecopter giveaway Good luck & enjoy! 
Rosie Alyea
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Sweetapolita Giveaway

KitchenAid Mixer Giveaway + A Sweetapolita Book Update

Sweetapolita Giveaway Hi friends! Just when I said that I was "back" on a regular basis, I got swooped up by another frenzy of book stuff, but I'm excited to report that I have done all of my final photos and most of the main edits, so this time I really am back! I'm also excited to tell you that my book is scheduled to come out on April 7th, 2015! That does seem like quite some time away, but I just know it will be here in a blink. I can't wait to reveal all of the sweets and treats and I've been working so hard on for the past 15 months. While I'll keep the details a surprise, just know that, aside from tons of my favourite basic recipes for creating your own designs, this book of mine includes imaginative decorated cookies, layer cakes, tiered cakes, sweets for cakelets, and sprinkles galore! In celebration of completing the book, I'm giving away this amazing KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Quart Mixer in "Ice"--one of my favourite colours in the universe. Hooray! Sweetapolita Giveaway Prettiest mixer ever. ♥ a Rafflecopter giveaway Good luck, and I will be back next week with *the* most adorable cake from one of my favourite new cookbooks!
Rosie Alyea
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{My Favourite} Chocolate Party Cupcakes with Vanilla Swirl Frosting

Chocolate Party Cupcakes with Vanilla Swirl Frosting While these cupcakes aren't anything super-frilly or fancy, they are my best-loved and most-baked treat, so it seemed only natural to share them with you. This past weekend we celebrated my sweet cakelet Reese's 7th birthday (how is this possible--didn't she just turn 4 and decorate this Rainbow Doodle Cake?), and we had almost 20 little girls are her party. I made a really neat rainbow vanilla cake for the girls, but because Reese loves chocolate cake and cupcakes best, I made a few dozen of these rich, dark chocolaty cupcakes and topped them with fluffy, creamy swirls of blue-ish frosting and colourful quin sprinkles. Aside from being perfectly party-pretty, the cupcakes are incredibly moist and not overly sweet, and the frosting is whipped to an airy consistency ideal for piping higher swirls (a denser sugary frosting with these generous swirls could be buttercream-overkill). Chocolate Party Cupcakes with Vanilla Swirl Frosting Reese and I thought it would be pretty to create a bit of pastel swirly effect with a mix of white, turquoise and a pastel shade of sky blue (kind of reminiscent of the Pastel Swirl Cake). To keep it easy, I simply divided the frosting into 3 parts, tinted 2 and left one the creamy white colour, and then scooped a bit of each colour into a large piping bag fitted with Ateco swirly decorating tip #887 for billowy swirls.  Really quick and easy, and even kid-friendly. You can certainly use any array of colours you wish, but just note that because the frosting is doing a lot of blending during the piping process, you might want to stick with different shades and tones of the same hue for the most part, and maybe incorporate one other colour at the most (I love purple or bright pink with these colours). Chocolate Party Cupcakes with Vanilla Swirl Frosting Because the cupcakes are a one-bowl situation, they couldn't be simpler. And to really get that enchanting dark-as-night chocolate colour, be sure to use a quality dark cocoa powder. I've also modified this recipe to include a very generous dose of the cocoa powder, ensuring an ultimate chocolate cupcake. For the frosting, well, it's a version of the sweet frosting I've used many times here on the blog, but the secrets are using the best pure vanilla extract you can find, and the extensive whipping. You'll get some air bubbles, but it's worth it for the fluffy, dreamy texture. Simply use a rubber spatula to beat the frosting back-and-forth a bit to knock out of the bubbles, and it will be ready for piping swirls aplenty. Chocolate Party Cupcakes with Vanilla Swirl Frosting I think every baker needs a go-to chocolate cupcake and party frosting, and I don't think I could live without this combination. My non cake-eating husband can't even resist these, and neither can I (believe it or not, I'm actually really particular with the cake and cupcakes I'll eat). So easy, so beloved. The recipe is for 12 cupcakes, but this recipe can easily be doubled or even tripled--you'll thank me! Chocolate Party Cupcakes with Vanilla Swirl Frosting Cakelets and cupcakes. ♥

Chocolate Party Cupcakes with Vanilla Swirl Frosting

For the cupcakes:

  • 3/4 cup 95 grams all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup 150 grams superfine sugar
  • 1/2 cup 60 grams dark Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup 120 ml buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup 80 ml coffee, hot
  • 3 tablespoons 45 ml vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 egg (room temperature)

For the frosting:

  • 1 cup 227 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups 375 grams confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons 45 ml milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Few drops AmeriColor gel paste food colour in Turquoise and Sky Blue
  • Sprinkles

For the cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 360° F. Line a standard cupcake pan with your favourite cupcake liners.
  2. In the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, coffee, oil, egg and vanilla.
  4. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and whisk until smooth, about 1 minute. Divide batter among the liners (about 3/4 full).
  5. Bake until a wooden pick inserted into the centre of the cupcake comes out with a only a few crumbs, about 18-20 minutes. 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 frosting:

  1. In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until very light and fluffy, about 6 minutes.
  2. Add confectioners' sugar, milk, vanilla, and salt, and beat on low speed until well combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat until very light and fluffy once again, about 6 more minutes.

Decorate the cupcakes:

  1. Divide the frosting into 3 parts. Tint one part of the frosting bright turquoise using Turquoise, one part pastel blue using Sky Blue, and leave the remaining part white.
  2. Into a medium or large pastry bag fitted with a large closed star tip (or swirl tip, such as #887), add a spatula-full of each frosting colour. Twist the top of the bag and pipe a generous swirl on each cupcake, working in a circular motion from the outside in. Top with sprinkles.
  3. The cupcakes will keep at room temperature in a container with some airflow for up to 3 days.
Sweetapolita's Notes: Good luck & enjoy!
Rosie Alyea
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Best-Ever Chocolate Nutella Layer Cake

Chocolate, chocolate everywhere! I was looking through some older posts the other day, and I came across these Chocolate Birthday Cupcakes with Nutella Cloud Frosting. And while I've never been fixated on Nutella desserts, I had almost forgotten how much I loved the way the sweet and hazelnutty flavour and creamy texture of Nutella added a much-welcome addition to these otherwise classic (but awesome) chocolate cupcakes.  So this week I decided to make a super-simple, quick and easy cake version of those cupcakes, embracing quality dark chocolate, extra dark cocoa powder and, of course, Nutella.

Simply put, the frosting is magical. Like unicorn and rainbows magical. I have this thing about chocolate frosting. I kind of need it to be airy and satiny, as opposed to super-fudgy and dense--I think it pairs so well with a deep, dark moist chocolate cake, such as this one. This frosting is a take on that same Nutella Cloud Frosting I had used on the cupcakes, but I decided to add much more Nutella and a generous amount of sour cream to balance out the sweet. Rather than using the mixer, I just popped everything into my food processor and gave it a 60-second spin or so. The result was the creamiest and richest sweet chocolate frosting I've ever tasted. In addition to the Nutella, we add a good dose of extra dark premium melted chocolate (I used a 70%) to help keep some of the intense chocolate flavour. The Nutella lends to the satiny texture, but because it is already quite sweet, the overall quality of this frosting is on the sweet side, but with a dark decadence. If you can't get Nutella, or if you find you prefer a deeper flavour with minimal sweetness, you could even skip the Nutella and add a handful of ground hazelnuts. Of course the texture would change to a more rustic one, but the taste would be notably more sophisticated.

But Nutella seems to bring a nostalgic element for some, and if this cake is going anywhere near a little cakelet's belly, I think Nutella is the way to go, because kids go, well, nuts for this stuff.

And because this cake, as simple as it is, is a celebration of chocolate, I opted for a medley of pure chocolate sprinkles as the finishing touch. It adds an interesting visual and delightful chocolaty crunch to each slice. For the piped border, I went with an unfussy shell-style border, but extended each one for a few extra seconds to create a more elongated shell look. Nothing fancy, but quick, easy and pretty. Because this frosting pipes like a dream, it makes for the perfect frosting border.

So this photo just goes to show that not all cakes look picture-perfect when sliced (this is what happens when I frost a cake and take photos 10 minutes later, rather than refrigerating it for some time to set), but holy Easter-bunny this chocolaty madness is divine. And it couldn't be easier to create. You'll see!

Best-Ever Chocolate & Nutella Layer Cake

Super-moist, dark chocolate cake filled and frosted with satiny dark chocolate & Nutella sour cream frosting and covered in a medley of chocolate sprinkles.

For the Cake:

  • 2 1/4 cups 285 grams all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/3 cups 470 grams superfine sugar
  • 3/4 cup 90 grams dark Dutch-process cocoa powder (I use Cacao Barry Extra Brute)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons 12 grams baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons 10 grams baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon 8 grams salt
  • 1 1/4 cups 300 ml buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup 180 ml brewed coffee or espresso
  • 2/3 cup 160 ml vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 tablespoon 15 ml pure vanilla extract

For the Frosting:

  • 4 1/2 cups 565 grams confectioners' sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups 340 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup 280 grams Nutella (or other hazelnut spread)
  • 3/4 cup 180 ml full-fat sour cream
  • 11 ounces 330 grams best-quality dark chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 tablespoon 15 ml pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

For the Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare three 7-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray and parchment rounds.
  2. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, sift all dry ingredients, including sugar. Combine eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla in a measuring cup and beat lightly with a fork.
  3. Add milk mixture to the dry ingredients mix for 1 minute on medium speed (you may need the plastic splash-guard that comes with mixer). Divide batter evenly among prepared pans--each pan should contain about 600 grams of batter.
  4. Bake the first 2 layers for 20 minutes and rotate pans in oven. Continue to bake until toothpick or skewer comes almost clean (a few crumbs), about 5 more minutes. Cool on wire racks for 20 minutes. Repeat with remaining layer, and then gently invert onto racks until completely cool.

For the Chocolate Frosting:

  1. Put all of the ingredients in a food processor, and pulse until smooth and glossy, about 1 minute. The frosting will be very soft. Refrigerate the frosting until it thickens slightly, about 15 minutes.

Assembly of the Best-Ever Chocolate & Nutella Layer Cake:

  1. Put a dollop of frosting on a 7-inch round cake board (or cake plate) or 8-inch scalloped cake board.
  2. Put your first layer top-up on the cake board or plate, and spread about 1 cup of frosting evenly across layer. Put the second cake layer on top and repeat with another layer of frosting. Put the final cake layer top-down. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and wiggle the layers into place. Refrigerate the cake for about 30 minutes.
  3. Using a turntable, if possible, frost entire outside of cake with a thin layer of frosting to seal in the crumbs. Chill until the frosting begins to firm-up, about 15 minutes. Repeat with another thin layer of frosting, this time working to achieve a smooth finish. Chill for another 15 minutes.
  4. Apply a third coat of frosting to the cake. Holding a tall pastry comb in your dominant hand, press it gently against the side of the cake and keep it steady. Use the other hand to slowly rotate the turntable until you have gone all the way around the cake. Gently press some chocolate sprinkles around the bottom edge of the cake.
  5. Fit a medium pastry bag with a medium-large closed star tip, such as 1M, and fill about 2/3 full with frosting. Pipe a border around the top of the cake. Chill the cake until the frosting border firms up, at least 30 minutes.
  6. Cover the top of the cake (but not the piped border) with chocolate sprinkles. Once frosting softens again, the sprinkles will adhere to top. The cake will keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Sweetapolita's Notes:
  • If you don't have 7-inch round cake pans, you could also use 8-inch cake pans. The layers will just be ever-so-slightly shorter.
  • For the cake layers, I use Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder - Extra Brute--it adds so much depth, chocolate-y flavour and a wonderfully dark hue.
  • For the frosting I used Callebaut Dark Callets 70.4 %  to balance the sweetness of the Nutella.
  • I used one of the Wilton Decorate Smart 3-Piece Icing Comb Set for the sides of the cake (the furthest comb to the right in the image).
  • I used a medley of chocolate vermicelli sprinkles on top, including India Tree Chocolate Vermicelli and De Ruyter Chocoadehagel. Any kind works well, but I prefer to keep it to pure chocolate vermicelli, as opposed to just chocolate jimmies.
  • Because the frosting has sour cream in it, it's best to refrigerate this cake if it hasn't been gobbled up after a day. Keep refrigerated at that point, and serve at room temperature (although it tastes pretty great cold too).
Happy Easter to you and your family! Good luck & enjoy!
Rosie Alyea
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Easter Extravaganza Bark

I think it's safe to say that treat-wise, Easter is my best-loved time of year. The endless chocolate, the bunnies of all shapes and sizes, pastel marshmallows, Peeps, candy-coated eggs, cream-filled eggs, pastel everything, sprinkles and more--all of the flavours and colours make me giddy. I've seen some pretty colourful Easter Candy Bark on Pinterest, but I decided to create my own version and go a little crazy with the toppings. There's something so delightful about full, but small, peanut-butter filled bunnies, bunny marshmallow and peeps bound to swirls of Callebaut Dark Chocolate 53.8% along with Callebaut white chocolate, and then surrounded by a flurry of mini treats and sprinkles. I incorporated Rice Krispies into the bottom layer of the bark because those crispy chocolate bunnies were my favourite as a little girl, and I'd say even still.

And while I think it makes perfect sense to use leftover Easter candy, I can't help but feel that this sort of treat is so much more appealing right before or during Easter time. I just feel that it's kind of the last thing people want to see after a few days of indulging in all things Easter, you know? And since it takes almost no time at all, it's a simple way to bring the unexpected to Easter celebrations without spending hours in the kitchen (you know, I'd never recommend that . . . ahem. #letsmaketoweringcakes).

I also think this would be such a great addition to any Easter basket--my girls' eyes were as big as saucers when they came home and saw this Easter sugar explosion in the kitchen. And why not include your cakelets and make it an Easter weekend activity--you layer the chocolate, and let them do all of the toppings? Or even let them come shopping and decide what's going to land upon the sea of chocolate bark themselves.

So when I decided to create this Easter Extravaganza Bark, I headed for the Easter section of Target for inspiration and to pick up an array of toppings, and then I tied that in with some of the sprinkles and sugar decorations I had here at home. I went with a few Marshmallow Peeps 60th Anniversary Vanilla Creme marshmallows (these are amazing, and I fear only around for a short time), Wilton Silhouette Bunny Icing DecorationsReese's Easter Mini Peanut Butter Reester BunniesM&M's White Chocolate Easter CandyCadbury Mini EggsDare Marshmallow Rabbits, and then just some white sugar pearls, pink nonpareils and jimmies. Afterwards, I realized that I had wanted to use my all-time favourite Easter candy: Whoppers Easter Mini Robin Eggs. I love the speckled candy coating and I'm a Whopper (similar to Maltesers) fanatic. Forgetting to include them may have had something to do with the fact that the almost-empty bag was in my, um, purse. While I usually resist most candy on daily basis, I cannot resist anything malted-milk related. I'm going to make another batch and include those along with a few jelly beans and mini cream eggs. Oh yes.

When I make bark of any kind, I temper the chocolate. You'll probably notice that in many bark recipes the instructions simply call for melting the chocolate and then storing the bark in the refrigerator. While this does work just fine, I tend to love to gift my bark, so I prefer to temper the chocolate first, which takes no extra time (when you do it the easy way, in the microwave) and gives the chocolate that gloss and snap we all love (I also much prefer to eat chocolate at room temperature). Once tempered, the bark can stay at room temperature and makes it a little prettier with its sheen and snap. For the marbling, I tinted the Belgian white chocolate a pastel shade of teal (even pink or yellow would be amazing) using a bit of AmeriColor Flo-Coat mixed with AmeriColor turquoise gel paste (see Sweetapolita's Notes), because while using colourful candy compound melts would be a fraction easier, I like to keep the quality of the bark the best it can be, since it's all about the chocolate when it comes to bark. An alternative would be adding a few coloured candy melts to the white chocolate before melting/tempering for the same effect.

Since no two batches are ever the same, I'd love to see what Easter Extravaganza Bark creations you come up with! Share them on my Sweetapolita Facebook page or even send me a photo via email. I'd love to hear from you!

Easter Extravaganza Bark

Dark Belgian chocolate and Rice Krispie bark covered with swirled dark & white and topped with a medley of Easter chocolate, candy, sprinkles, marshmallows and more.

  • 1 pound plus 2 ounces (600 grams best-quality dark chocolate, chopped or callets)
  • 2 cups 50 grams Rice Krispies (or other puffed rice cereal)
  • 6 ounces 180 grams best-quality white chocolate, chopped or callets
  • About 8 turquoise candy melts (such as Wilton brand, chopped, OR few drops AmeriColor Sky Blue gel paste colour plus Flo-Coat (see Sweetapolita's Notes))
  • Variety of Easter candy (such as mini filled chocolate bunnies, marshmallow bunnies, white chocolate m & m candy, candy-coated mini eggs, Peeps, etc.)
  • Sprinkles of choice
  1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
  2. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, heat 10 ounces (300 grams) of the dark chocolate in 20-second bursts, stirring well after each interval, until the chocolate is almost melted but still has some solid pieces. Stop heating and stir until smooth--this can take a few moments (see Sweetapolita's Notes). Stir in the rice cereal until combined, and use a small offset palette knife to spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet in a very thin layer. Let sit until slightly firm, about 30 minutes. In the meanwhile, prepare your candy toppings (unwrap foil-covered chocolate, etc.).
  3. Using the same tempering method, heat the remaining dark chocolate and stir until smooth. Spread the chocolate overtop of the first layer. Temper the white chocolate (this only takes about 50-60 seconds), including the candy melts if using. If using gel paste to colour, combine the Flo-Coat and gel paste in a small bowl and stir into the tempered white chocolate. Pour the tempered and tinted white chocolate into a few lines across the dark chocolate, and swirl with a toothpick.
  4. While the dark and white chocolate are still soft, add all of your candy toppings. Let sit until completely set, about 2 hours, and then cut into wedges using a large, sharp knife. Store at room temperature.
Sweetapolita's Notes:
  • To learn about how to temper chocolate the "easy way," in the microwave, check out these simple instructions from Callebaut. In addition to those steps, if you have a digital candy thermometer, just be sure that your dark chocolate never exceeds 32-33°C (90°F), and 30°C (86°F) for white or milk chocolate. If this does happen, simply add a handful of chocolate callets or chopped chocolate, and stir well to until smooth. Heat for a few seconds if necessary, but again not exceeding those ideal temperatures.
  • I use AmeriColor Flo-Coat when colouring white chocolate, which is a candy-oil used for making water-based gel-paste colours compatible with chocolate. If we add the gel-paste colours straight to the white chocolate, it causes it to seize. To use the Flo-Coat, mix 6 drops for every 1 drop of colour, and combine before adding to the tempered chocolate. For this recipe, I used 18 drops of Flo-Coat with 3 drops of AmeriColor Sky Blue gel paste. Alternatively, you can add a small handful of chopped coloured candy melts (such as Make & Mold or Wilton) to your white chocolate before melting, and that will tint your chocolate a pale turquoise.
  • As you've probably guessed, absolutely anything goes when it comes to what you add to this candy bark--jelly beans, malted milk eggs, mini creme eggs and so much more would be incredible additions!
  • Wrap a few slabs of bark in a crystal clear cellophane bag tied with some festive pastel ribbon for a whimsical addition to any Easter basket or for gifting.
Good luck & enjoy!
Rosie Alyea
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Florentine Cookies + The Cookiepedia Book Giveaway {Winners Announced}

Happy Spring! Well, sort of. It's still snowing on and off here in Southern Ontario, but I'm hopeful. The good news is that this week is the first week in over 9 months during which I've been able to frolic freely in the kitchen and bake anything I wish. So Florentine cookies it was. And you guys, these are amazing. See, quite awhile back, I became enamoured with my talented friend Stacy Adimando's cookbook, The Cookiepedia: Mixing Baking, and Reinventing the Classics, and I've been dying to make something, or everything, from it.  So when I spotted a recipe for Florentines in her book, I knew I had to make them. And although Florentines are known to be an Italian treat (as the name suggests), I first fell in love with these crunchy, nutty discs of caramelized delight back when I was a teenager working at an Austrian bakery. When I googled this, I realized that appears to be a small debate regarding the Florentine cookie's origin, but it's safe to say that it is celebrated in not only Italy and Austria, but now here in my kitchen.  These are the most decadent and surprisingly simple cookies to prepare in all of the land, and I'll just never get over them. I won't.

So what exactly is a Florentine? Well, there are some variations, but typically they are super-thin, round, caramelized almond cookies made from butter, sugar, cream, corn syrup, salt and of course almonds, and there is usually some form of dark chocolate added. As you probably noticed in my photos, these ones are drizzled with chocolate as Stacy's recipe includes, but many have their entire bottoms dipped in chocolate with a distinct pattern added, and include additional ingredients, such as candied fruit. Think of them as individual, lacy almond brittles that shatter in your mouth like little round sheets of nutty, buttery, caramel crack. Sometimes it actually kind of freaks me out that we have the power to create such deliciousness in our own kitchens, especially when it only takes a matter of minutes.

Stacy explains that the idea behind her book was to give 50 classic cookie recipes, and then offer ways to spin them into more modern versions with tons of ideas for adapting the recipes for countless variations. So, for example, she shares a chocolate chip recipe, but also a dark chocolate sea salt chip. And a peanut butter cookie, but also a pistachio butter cookie, and so many more. One of the reasons I love Stacy's book most, aside from the gorgeous photography and charming illustration work, is that the recipes range so greatly--think everything from frosted animal crackers to French macarons, sables to sesame crisps, and so many more. I know you guys will adore this book, if you don't already that is, so I'm excited to host a The Cookiepedia giveaway! I have 3 copies of this go-to cookie book, courtesy of Stacy and Quirk Books, and I will be sending a copy to 3 lucky readers!

I'm also excited to share this recipe for the Florentines--they truly are of the most exquisite cookies I have tasted in a long time. I've listed the recipe just as it is in the book, but I have also added the ingredient weights, just in case, as well as some of my own notes below.

Florentine Cookies with Chocolate Drizzles

Decadent nutty, buttery, caramelized cookie discs drizzled in dark chocolate. Recipe as printed in The Cookiepedia cookbook by Stacy Adimando.

  • 1 cup 227 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups 250 grams sugar
  • 2 tablespoons 60 grams corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon 8 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup 80 ml heavy cream (whipping cream)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/3 cups 210 grams sliced almonds
  • 4 ounces 120 grams roughly chopped bittersweet chocolate
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 °F. Line a few baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set them aside.
  2. Melt the butter, sugar and corn syrup together over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk to combine. Add the cream and salt and do the same.
  3. Let cook until the mixture comes to a full boil, and then add in the almonds and stir to combine. Continue cooking for 3 more minutes until the mixture thickens and starts to move around the pan in one mass. Take the pan off the heat.
  4. Drop 4 small spoonfuls of dough onto cookie sheets, leaving as much room between them as possible (the baked cookies will spread to about triple the size).
  5. Using an offset spatula or a wet hand, spread and flatten the batter into 3-inch rounds, creating a thin layer.
  6. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes, or until edges are brown and centers are just turning golden.
  7. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and immediately reshape the cookies back into 3-inch circles, using the offset spatula or the back of a spoon to drag the batter back into place and round the edges. The cookies will harden within a few minutes.

tip: if they harden too fast, just return them to the oven for a minute or so.

  1. Cool the reshaped cookies until they are firm and cool enough to handle. Then move them to a wire rack covered with parchment paper to set completely.
  2. As the optional (though delicious and suggested) finisher, melt the chocolate, in a glass or metal bowl over a pot of simmering water on the stove. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the tops of the Florentines. Let harden.

Florentine Ice Cream Sandwiches

  1. When the cookies have cooled completely, skip the chocolate drizzle. Let a container of coffee or vanilla ice cream sit out, or microwave at 10-second intervals, until it's soft enough to dollop. In the meantime, lay half the Florentines on a parchment-lined baking sheet flat side up. Drop a heaping spoonful of the softened ice cream (about 2-3 tablespoons) into the center of each. Top with the remaining cookies and press lightly to adhere. Cover the baking sheet loosely with foil and place in the freezer for at least 2 hours.
Sweetapolita's Notes:
  • I used a 1-tablespoon capacity cookie scoop for my cookies, and they spread quite a bit, yielding more of a very thin, large 5 1/2-inch round cookie, but I love them this size, so I simply worked to round the edges when they first came out of the oven. Use about 1 teaspoon size spoon for 3-inch cookies, or somewhere in between.
  • Much like a caramel concoction of any kind, the longer you heat (bake) the cookies, the darker and more intense the caramel flavour and colour will be, so there is a little room for personal preference with the baking times. I baked 1 sheet at a time on the middle rack of the oven, and kept the cookies in for the full 8 minutes. Once they start to turn golden, they have the potential to burn very quickly, so I recommend keeping a super-close eye on them at that point, and remove them from the oven quickly.
  • It might seem as though it's going to take a lifetime to bake 36 cookies when 4-to-a-tray, but at 8 minutes each, time, it goes by really quickly!
  • I just used a fork to "fling" the melted chocolate onto the cookies in a fun drizzly criss-cross pattern.
  • Stacy mentions that these cookies are best enjoyed right after cooling, and I can certainly agree that these are amazing in that window of time (I could not stop eating them), but I then sealed them in a Ziploc bag after the chocolate drizzle set, and they're still going strong (ahem) and tasting fabulous at the end of day 2.
a Rafflecopter giveaway Good luck & enjoy!
Rosie Alyea
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