Friday, February 10, 2012

Think Pink

I am a not ashamed to say that I am a girly girl.

I loved Barbies. And the Spice Girls.

I love pink lip gloss. And pink nail polish. And sparkly pink stilettos.

Pink roses. Pink Balloons. Cupcakes with swirly pink frosting topped with pink sprinkles. Giant tufts of soft pink cotton candy. LOVE. IT. ALL.

Now, I don’t indulge the Barbie doll in me on a daily basis. My apartment is not explosion of pink satin and sequins. And I don’t dress like Elle Woods. I do have some taste, after all.

But in February? When everywhere you look its red-pink-hearts-hugging teddy bears-chocolate kisses –I love you-pink-pink-PINK-XOXO!!!!

Well, why not embrace it? That’s all I’m saying.

My boyfriend and I have never made a huge deal out of Valentines day. I mean, we love each other everyday, right? Besides, after Christmas and my birthday in January, our wallets have generally had enough of gift giving. We do try to spend the evening together though, going out for a nice meal, or cooking one at home together. 

These SWEET treats would not be a bad way to end the night with your sweetheart. 

Emphasis on the sweet.

As you can see, they are PINK and coated in sprinkles and so very very cute. 

This was my first attempt at making cake pops and I would really like to tell you all that this was like, SO totally easy! I could make cake pops in my sleep! Hah! But sadly, it just isn’t so.

Sure, making a cake is simple enough.

Whip up some frosting? No problem.

Mush em together? Done!

Roll it into balls? Tricky, but I thiiiink I can manage that.

Now, take those balls and plunge a lollipop stick into them.Then hold them by the stick and dip them into a bowl of melted candy. And whatever you do, DON’T LET THE CAKE FALL OFF THE STICK OR THE CANDY WILL BE RUINED!!!
Did you manage that without having an aneurism? Almost? Ok, good. Now, you don’t want a bunch of lumpy candy coating on those balls, do you? So take the stick and TAP AND TURN TAP AND TURN TAP AND TURN. Not too hard, not too fast. Gently, I said gently!
Whew! Got it? If so, then you’re doing better that I did the first time around.
I swear, so many explatives were coming from my kitchen, Henry actually forbid my from ever making cake pops again. FORBID ME. 

But then he tasted them.

Pretty sure I’ll be making cake pops again.

Red Velvet Cake
Whenever possible, to save on time and clean up, I like to make my cake recipes into 1 bowl cake recipes. This one comes close - I place a small handheld sieve (you can use a sifter if you have one) over the bowl of wet ingredients, and sift directly into the bowl. But the wet ingredients still need to be combined seperately and incorporated slowly.
1 ½ Cups sugar
1 Cup vegetable or sunflower oil
2 Eggs, room temperature
1 ½ Cups AP flour
3 Tablespoons Dutch processed cocoa powder
1 Teaspoon baking powder
1 Teaspoon baking soda
½ Teaspoon salt
1 Cup buttermilk
1 ½ Tablespoons red food colouring (or an equal amount of water with 1 Teaspoon gel food colouring mixed in)
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons white vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease and flour a 9X13" pan (or 2 - 9" round pans).
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer (or use a large bowl with a hand mixer), combine butter and sugar and beat until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low speed, add eggs 1 at a time, followed by the vanilla.
3. In a large liquid measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, vinegar, and red food colouring. Remove mixer bowl from stand (if you are using one) and sift dry ingredients directly into the bowl. Return the bowl to its stand and gradually pour in the wet ingredients, while mixing on low speed. Continue to mix until batter is smooth (it will be liquidy).
4. Transfer batter to prepared pan and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Rotate the pan halfway through to bake evenly. Cool in pan for a few minutes, before turning out onto a wire rack.

Cream Cheese Frosting
You will only need about half of this frosting (around 2 cups). There is of course the option of cutting the recipe in half, or you can do like I did and stick the rest in your freezer for a frosting emergency :)


1 (500 gram) package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 Cup butter, room temperature
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
3-4 Cups icing sugar, sifted

1. Cream the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla.
2. With mixer on low, add the icing sugar 1 cup at a time. Beat until smooth.

Making the Cake Pops 

You will need:

* Lollipop Sticks (mine were 6 inch)
* 2 - 12 oz. bags of Candy Melts (I used Wilton)

1. Once the cake has cooled completely, crumble it into a large bowl. Mix in the frosting in until evenly distributed. I began doing this with a spatula, but resorted to using my hands in the end. I got a bit messy, but it was quite fun!

2. Line a large cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper. Roll spoonfuls of cake between the palms of your hands to form balls, mine were a little smaller than golf ball sized. Stick a lollipop stick into each ball, about two thirds of the way through. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for about 20-30 minutes to set. 

3. Melt the candy melts in the microwave according to package directions (be sure to use a microwave safe bowl). Stir well to get a smooth consistency. 

4. Once the cake balls have set well, begin to coat them in the candy. The trick seems to be to hold them by the sticks and dip them straight in and out of candy, without swirling or turning them at all. Then to hold the stick against the edge of the bowl and (as I said) gently tap and turn to get rid of any excess candy. You might find this video from Bakerella helpful.

5. Place the finished cake pops on a stirofoam stand or a box with holes cut in it to dry. Then serve and enjoy :)

Have a very happy, love filled, sparkly pink Valentine's day everyone!



Monday, February 6, 2012

It's My Birthday and I'll Bake If I Want To

I am a liar. 

It is not my Birthday.

However, it was my Birthday...  about 2 weeks ago now. Oops! Time flies!  BUT I kinda maybe really wanted to use this title.  So I am gonna just go ahead and do as I please. It is my Birthday after all. 

I mean, it's really not. But it was. And was it ever a great Birthday! One of my best.
It wasn't hard to beat, considering last year I spent the day at home with a recurring case of bronchitis. Pretty much anything would have been better than that. But it really was a great weekend. Old friends, new friends, a decadent brunch, a fabulous dinner here (so good I forgot to take pictures!), and oodles of presents! This girl was spoiled. Thank you to all my wonderful friends for making my day so special. You know who you are ;) Love love love you all.

Okay enough with the warm fuzzies. Let's get to the cake! I know that's why you're all here.

I actually whipped up this cake the day after my Birthday, when my girlfriends and I gathered at my house for a lil' slumber party. It was just like in the good old days: Movies, junk food, prancing around my bedroom in hair curlers and nightgowns, singing into hair brushes about boys we met on summer nights a la Sandy & crew in Grease...

Okay, maybe that last part didn't really happen.

Ahem... moving on. I was a teensy bit distracted when I made this cake, which resulted in a few... hiccups. FULL DISCLOSURE: This cake was SALTY. And not intentionally so. 

While making my much beloved Swiss Meringue Buttercream, I mistakenly grabbed salted butter from the fridge instead of unsalted. And I failed to notice until it was all almost mixed in. Now I wouldn't say this ruined the frosting, but it certainly made it more... interesting. After the first couple bites the salt was unnoticeable, and you just wanted more More MORE cake! Sodium will do that I guess. Anyway, it wasn't inedible (far from!), but I wouldn't recommend you try it on purpose. It can't be good for you.

The other problem I found was that the layers didn't rise quite as much as I would have liked. I am not sure if this was a cocoa/ leavener issue (hmm apparently leavener is not a word. good to know), or perhaps my oven temperature? Either way, they were a bit flat. For this reason, I didn't level them off as I normally would have, not wanting to lose any precious cake. Regardless, I really do like this cake recipe. It is nice and rich and moist, and is so easy to throw together. It would be nice if it were thick enough to split into four decent sized layers though. I will probably give it a shot again with some modifications, I'll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, you can check out the original recipes. If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know how it works for you. Or if you have a dark chocolate cake recipe you love, send it my way!

One Bowl Dark Chocolate Cake from Sweetapolita

Swiss Meringue Buttercream from Martha Stewart

Chocolate Glaze From Martha Stewart

Enjoy the rest of your week. I'll be back with some Valentine's treats very soon!