Monday, May 30, 2016

Chocolate Mondays: The making of a Hello Kitty Castle

2016-05-22 22.06.22.jpg
This is the Hello Kitty Birthday Cake I made last week.We usually have fun planning and preparing for a celebration together. Not this time my decorating prodigy didn't help, because it was her special day. I love Birthday Surprises


 I started with an 8 inch and 4 inch cake. Torted and filled them with a coconut buttercream, frosting I found.  A pretty simple recipe of butter, 10X and coconut milk, I used lemon extract and wow!  I have to say the flavor is delightfully light. This is another frosting easily converted to Vegan Frosting. Just use vegan sticks.

Once I took into consideration the amount of servings...the design scales down a bit. From 5 tiers to 2 and one tower. This is very girly cake with flowers, terraces etc.  I started with  tiny daisies, pansies, and a few roses using chocolate modeling clay. Next I created the fortified bricks for each tier. When my measurements came up short...I was so glad to be using modeling chocolate, because it melds together so much better than fondant. No crickety, crack, crack for Mama's back! I have to say the Hello Kitty was the most fun to create.
I decided on a dress for her outfit... dressing up is always fun.

In the creative process some of the
flowers didn't make it on the
cake. I think it was a windy day for
Hello Kitty :D
For the pots I melted a bit of a chocolate bar and added drops of corn syrup. Worked like a charm. I had a little yellow modeling chocolate from my last cake, so I used it for sea shell stepping stones to a secret back door to the tower. I used shaped rectangle, square cutters with a texture tool, to helped me come up with a whimsical landscape for the door and stones around the door and the castle. Everything was coming together nicely. I kept popping it in the fridge. as I worked. Then it was time to move on to the tower.

For the Tower I decided to use vanilla cream filled cookies. Toothpicks frosting, stack, stack stack and walla the beginnings of a watch tower. For the top that would support the chocolate shingles, I used cake crumbs and frosting as I would for cake pops. Then shaped it into a cone. A tear shaped cutter worked nicely for about 46 shingles. The Bricks and Mortar (actually frosting and modeling chocolate) of the structure was the easiest part even though It took about 35 min. Although setting it on the first tier,  next to the second tier “straight”, was no walk in the park.  It took digging and leveling and finally stabilizing, thus the ivy growing all around the tower.

As a guiding rule any cake structure 4 inch or more in height, needs support of dowels. One has to consider the size and weight distributed by all the frosting and dimensions … in short math! There is just no escaping math.  Unfortunately I’d run out of supporting dowels and I rarely buy straws these days. So I said my prayers and hoped for the best. Thankfully the cake didn’t have time to sink...very much! But who has time to look at that when every one's devouring it so fast.


Coconut Buttercream Icing


* I whipped my coconut cream to combine the fats and coconut liquid as advised by Jen the Introvert Baker.


1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 tsp. lemon extract
3 cups powdered sugar
7 tablespoons coconut milk


  • Whip the butter and vanilla in a large  bowl, until creamy. Gently beat in the 10X. 
  • Blend in the coconut milk one Tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is met. 
  • Continue mixing until the frosting becomes thick and fluffy, about 5 minutes. 
*I mixed in 3-5 Tablespoons and I was at the thickness I wanted. How much coconut milk you add, to get the consistency you want, will depend on the humidity in your kitchen. The original recipe is on Baked by an Introvert...

© Chocolate Mondays All photos and content are copyright protected. Please don't use any photo without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own words and link back to this post.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Chocolate Monday: Caramel Love Cake

Happy Chocolate Monday! Spring is so volatile right?  I'm hoping
to shed my jacket by June. After reading here be sure to

 Check out the Cookie of the Week since 
we're all looking forward to Summer!
My #1 favorite baking book Martha Stewart Baking Handbook, was taken during the bake sale. I can't tell you how much I miss this book...

Shopping motivations 
It may sound weird but over the years, I have formed "friend in my head"( 
A Windy Williams phrase) relationships, with the cooks in my favorite books. For my mind Martha and I somehow share an affinity in our methods and thinking processes. I know books are material things,  but considering the fact this book was a gift that almost didn't find it's way to me, I think I'm allowed a bit a remorse. Let's just say I'll be very grateful to have my new one... soon.  On the flip side I made myself feel better over the loss by continuing on by baking this Caramel cake.  I had no idea that Martha had aired a show with Maya Angelou before her passing when I decided to make this cake for the bake sale.
6 frosted Caramel Love Cakes
Waiting for their Caramel drizzle.

To whom do I owe this beautiful recipe? Maya Angelou and her Grandmother. Dr. Angelou was such an important figure in my teen years. So much so that,  my 2nd daughter's First Name is Maya. I didn't have the honor of meeting Maya Angelou in person, but I felt encouraged by her courage. In "Hallelujah the Welcome Table" all the recipes were interesting, but this cake really peaked my interest. A  caramel cake, flavored by a caramel syrup poured into the cake. After looking at the amounts of sugar in the cake..  and then the sugar in the syrup, then the sugar in the frosting!  I kinda thought it would be extremely sweet for me and I might want to adjust it a bit, but I've learned to always make a recipe the way the original cook made it first.  It's wasn't too sweet, especially without frosting it was a hit with everyone;D One women ordered the cake with walnut and not frosting. I was happy to oblige, and she was very happy with the results. 

The story behind this Caramel Love Cake is a story of ego, assumption and righting wrong. Dr. Angelou said the cake was one of the ways her grandmother expressed love, because of the preparation and ingredients. So I dubbed it the "Caramel Love Cake." You'll see why when you make it! People love it Naked or Covered with the caramel the way, it won't last two days.  
After writing this post, by some work of  connectivity, I found the video on which Martha Stewart had Dr.Maya on her show and she talked about the event that brought about her Grandmother making the cake.
A must see 3 part video here. If you've ever been mistreated as a kid and had to suck it up...You'll be free to let it all go when you treat yourself to this, 
Caramel "Love" Cake _ From Maya Angelou "Hallelujah the Welcome Table"

8 Tbsp. (1 stick butter)
1 1/4 c. sugar  
*1/4 c. Caramel Syrup recipe below
2 c. flour sifted all-purpose
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. milk
2 large eggs
Caramel Frosting (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 375F. 
Line two 8 in.  layer cake pans with oiled, wax paper or parchment. 

Caramel "Love" Cake
In a large mixing bowl , beat butter, and add 1 c. of sugar gradually  until light and fluffy. Beat in syrup.
*remember its only 1/4 c. of the caramel syrup, not the whole syrup mixture.

In medium mixing bowl sift flour, baking powder, and salt together. Fold sifted ingredients into creamed mixture, alternating with milk.
In separate medium mixing bowl, beat eggs for 3 min., until foamy. Add remaining sugar, and beat until there is a fine spongy foam. Stir into cake batter until blended.

Divide batter between cake pans. Bake for about 25 min. Remove pans from oven. Gently press center of cake for springiness with a ,finger. Cake should spring back when finger is removed. If it doesn't, return to oven for 10 min. Cool in pans for 10 min. Turn out onto rack, and remove wax paper. Let cakes cool to room temperature before frosting.
To assemble: Center on cooled cake layer on cake plate.  Cover top and sides with generous helping of frosting.  Place second layer evenly on frosted layer. Repeat frosting procedure. Make certain that sides are completely frosted. Cool in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Caramel Syrup
1 c. white sugar
1 c. Boiling water, then almost another cup as sugar dissolves.
I used equal parts of water...Heat sugar in heavy skillet over low heat. Stir constantly until melted to a brown liquid. When it bubbles over entire surface, remove from heat. Slowly add boiling water, stirring constantly. Pour into 2 c. measuring glass to cool.

1 1/2 stick of  butter
One 16 oz. package confectioners' sugar
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of salt
Brown butter over medium heat- don't let it burn, but if you let it get an aroma of browning on it, all the more flavor. Allow butter to cool. In a large mixing bowl, mix confectioners' sugar, cream, vanilla extract and salt to the butter, and beat until smooth, If frosting is too stiff, add tablespoon of half and half or full cream to thin.

Michele's Cookie of the Week : Chocolate Ice Cream Cookie

This is a Huge Ice Cream Cookie. Just in time for Summer start up,  this Memorial Day.
On the sweet side for me, but delicious all the same, that's an easy fix by decreasing the sugar 1/2 cup and not adding the top crusted sugar.

Chocolate Cookies filled with Butter Pecan Ice Cream

original cookies were filled with a cream filling
When I'm looking for a recipe. I almost always start with Martha Stewart. Usually her recipes are simple, meaning not a long list of ingredients. Simple gives way to the most delicious more often then not.
These were sugar sweet for me...I have tasters that love that...but I really want to get into posting the flip side of sweets that feel like a  treat! So next week the opposite of these

Chocolate Cookies by Martha Stewart
1- 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 - 1/2 cups sugar, plus more for flattening cookies
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg

Cookie Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Into a medium mixing bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In another mixing bowl of an electric mixer, cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg; beat to combine. With mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture; continue adding the flour and combine mixture until dough is well combined.

  • Using a 1-1/4 in. ice cream scoop, drop dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Dip bottom of a glass in sugar; press to flatten cookies to about 1/8 inch thick. (You may need to careful remove dough from glass with a thin metal spatula)

  • Transfer to oven, and bake until cookies are firm, about 10 to 12 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through. Transfer baking sheet to wire racks to cool completely.

*Cook's Note*
The dough can be made ahead and chilled, wrapped well in plastic, for up to one week or frozen for up to one month; let thaw completely before proceeding with the recipe.

For the ice cream I used a ready made butter pecan ice cream. Come summer I'm looking forward to making and posting some if not all the ice cream recipes I have in my collection.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Chocolate Mondays: Michele's Vegan Caramel

Caramel? Caramelo? Dairy Free? Yes, yes, yes!
Next to chocolate, caramel is a prized treat and a favorite filling, topping or mix in.
So for my recent creations I mixed up a batch of Caramel.
Iy, Yi,Yi!!!! Soo good. What did I decide to put it on besides eating it straight? Red Velvet mini cupcakes.
Usually Cream Cheese frosting is paired with Red Velvet, but I didn’t go with Cream Cheese  because I knew they'd be sitting out at least 8 I opted for the Vegan Caramel...I felt it was safer with the Swiss Buttercream, which can sit out at room temperature for days.  It turned out to be a particularly chilly day so these little ruby gems did well while they lasted!

Today's post is about how I make vegan caramel filling and used it in the buttercream. It’s a bit of a process. Worth the effort...I promise! The bonus is this caramel can be used so many cream, cake filling or from a spoon! 

I set aside 30-60 min. Slots of time to complete a 1,2,3 step process and assemble everything the next day or so.  Building cakes in steps keeps the process fun and open for creativity. Making my own caramel instead of buying it at the grocery saves me a few pennies that i can spend towards something  else, it's  my creative way of tailoring my treats. 

Preparing Sweetened Condense Milk. There is a host of non dairy milk to try...each cooks up differently. Hemp milk, Almond milk and Soy milk just scratches the surface. I used coconut for the recipe below but, no matter what milk you use, this is a make ahead ingredient so set aside at least 45 min.  cooking time, to prepare.

Vegan/Dairy Free Sweetened Condensed
  • coconut milk, 1 can (about 14 fluid ounces and at least 20% fat)
  • 1 cup (200 g) finely ground delmara sugar (can be replaced with 1 1/4 cups (420 g) maple syrup, or 1 cup (336 g) honey)
Put all the ingredients in the pot. And let cooked down for about 30- 45 min. (or more depending on you ingredients), on a med. flame. If using the sugar, the end result won't turn the creamy off white of the store bought brand, but it will be just as thick and syrupy.
if after cooking the condensed milk is too thick...Add more non-dairy milk

Adding more milk will give you a smoother 

Sweetened condensed milk using coconut milk (FULL FAT)

Vegan Caramel filling recipe ingredients

Everything you’ll need make 1lb 2oz.

*14 oz. Vegan sweetened condensed milk
¾ c. Coconut oil, 1 1/2 stick of vegan butter or margarine
*⅓ c. plus 2 tsp. golden superfine sugar
4 Tbsp. golden syrup or dark syrups (ex. corn and molasses)
1 to 2 tsp. sea salt to taste

Place all the ingredients in a pan. Heat over a medium heat until the butter melts and continue until the caramel comes to a boil. Cook for 8 to 10 min. until it has thickened and darkened. Transfer to a clean bowl and let cool. Storage keep in  the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
*The maple syrup and honey will give you a slightly darker hue.
* Add vanilla, almond or other flavorings to your condensed milk
Caramel  cake  covered in Caramel SBC