Sunday, May 15, 2011

Block O Grooms Cake

Soon after my brother Jason and his wife Monica started making wedding plans, Monica asked if I could make a surprise Groom's Cake for Jason. Of course I said yes...that was a no brainer! I knew I'd have my hands full, making 100 cupcakes as well as a surprise groom's a kitchen that wasn't mine, and trying to get the grooms cake finished without my brother finding out. I figured the best way to go was a Block O, since Jason attended the Ohio State University and was in the Ohio State University Marching Band. Our family is full of Buckeye fans...both the college "Buckeyes" as well as the candy ones. I decided to try to replicate a buckeye in the cake- chocolate cake filled with peanut butter mousse and topped with chocolate buttercream under the marshmallow fondant. I had my work cut out for me.

I did a trial run a few weeks before the wedding, to make sure everything worked out well. I originally planned just to ice the cake with red and white buttercream, but I didn't like the way it looked once it was finished. That's when I decided fondant was the way to go. I also knew this cake wouldn't be complete without the Candy buckeyes all Buckeye fans love!

All said and done, Jason knew we were trying to pull something over on him. None of us females are all that great at keeping secrets! I think he was happy with the cake though...and I know the guests enjoyed it!

Buckeye Cake recipes from many sources, listed below

Chocolate Cake: my favorite chocolate cake recipe x 2 and baked in 9x13 cake pans. Can be baked ahead and frozen if desired, as the assembly and decorating takes some time.

Peanut Butter Mousse Filling: from Cafe Johnsonia

2 C peanut butter, not natural
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 C powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 C heavy cream, chilled

In large bowl, mix peanut butter and cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Add powdered sugar and vanilla, mix until all sugar has been incorporated....this mixture will be thick! Set aside. In bowl (preferably chilled) of stand mixer, beat heavy cream with whisk attachment on high speed until soft peaks form. Using a large spatula, gently fold whipped cream into peanut butter mixture in two additions. The first lightens the mixture without deflating the whipped cream. The second lightens it even more, and smooths it out. Cover and chill until ready to assemble cake.

Chocolate Buttercream Icing from Brown Eyed Baker

2 C (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 C powdered Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla
8 oz semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Using whisk attachment of stand mixer, mix butter on high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down bowl as needed. Add powdered sugar in small batches, and mix well on low speed after each addition. Once all powdered sugar has been added add vanilla and mix on medium speed. Add chocolate and continue to mix until light and fluffy, scraping the bowl as needed. 

Marshmallow Fondant from Whats Cooking America with Peggy Weaver

1 16 oz package mini marshmallows
2-5 Tbsp water
2 lb powdered sugar
1/2 C shortening

Place marshmallows and 2 Tbsp water in large microwavable bowl. Microwave for 2-2 1/2 minutes, in 30 second increments. Stir after each 30 seconds is up. Remove from microwave, and add 3/4 of the powdered sugar to the bowl. Use a wooden or plastic spoon to stir to mix partially, then dump contents of bowl onto shortening covered work surface. Using your hands (also well greased with shortening), knead fondant like you would knead bread..I use the push, fold, turn and repeat method. Add the remaining sugar as you knead. If the fondant starts to stick to your work surface or hands, recover with shortening. If fondant starts to tear, add water, 1/2 tbsp at a time, kneading well after each addition. This is a lot of work...I find that it takes 7-8 minutes and several applications of shortening to get the fondant to a nice stretchable state. Shape into a ball, rub outside with shortening, and wrap in plastic wrap (2 layers) before refrigerating. I find the fondant easier to work with after being refrigerated. Let come to room temperature before attemping to knead. Color or flavoring can be added as you knead before rolling out. I covered my cake with white fondant, cut the "O" out of white fondant, then "painted" with red gel food coloring mixed with a little vodka. The alcohol evaporates, and it thins the gel enough to paint with. The green for the leaves I mixed food coloring with fondant and kneaded since it was such a small amount.

I suggest checking out Peggy's site for a great in-depth tutorial on working with Fondant, complete with pictures. I'm not doing the process justice,as I am still learning.

Candy Buckeyes: adaped from and previously posted on my site.

Cake preparation and assembly:
I baked my cakes ahead of time, wrapped in plastic wrap x3 layers and froze them. I had to transport all of my cooking utensils with me to West Palm Beach, so I wanted to make the process as easy as possible.

Made the mousse, stuck in the fridge, then made the frosting.

I drew the block O on wax paper and used that as a stencil for trimming the cakes before filling and frosting.
I also used a simple syrup to brush on the cakes for a little added moisture. Filled with mousse, stacked cakes, crumb-coated with a light layer of buttercream and stuck in the fridge.

While the crumb-coat was setting, I made the fondant. I didn't frost the cake until I had the fondant ready to go, as I wanted the fondant to stick to the buttercream well. I Cut out the block O, painted with red food coloring and let dry. Made the green fondant, and cut out my leaves. I adhered these pieces to the cake using a little bit of simple syrup. Tinted a little white buttercream red to pipe around the edges of the cake to give it a more finished look.

I made the buckeyes last, and placed them on and around the cake after I placed the cake on the dessert table.

One lesson learned: Warm, humid weather and buttercream don't the evening went on I noticed the fondant had cracked and started to slide a little. All in all, I was super happy with my first big fondant cake! I thought it looked great on the dessert table, and it gave the newlyweds a cake to cut for pictures!

Photo Courtesy of Dawn V. Gilmore Photography

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wedding Cupcakes!

I posted a few weeks ago about all of the reasons I'd been baking but not blogging. Well, I'm still kinda slacking in the blogging area...I just recently moved, am trying to get organized for a garage sale, and have been working up to 5 twelve+ hour days a pretty please be easy on me!

I wanted to get a new recipe up- and this is a  good place to start. A few weeks ago, I posted pics of the Cupcakes and Grooms Cake I made for my brother Jason and his wife Monica's wedding. These cupcakes were a combination of a few of my favorite recipes. The cupcakes themselves are the Champagne Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling, and the icing is very brightly colored Lemon Buttercream. I figured what better way to celebrate than with Champagne in the cupcake batter as well as the filling- and the bride and groom (and my new nephews!) were easily won over with a test batch I made for them in February. The wedding was held outdoors in West Palm Beach, Florida, and the Raspberry and Lemon were light enough to enjoy...not too heavy to keep anyone from dancing!

The Cupcake recipe is from The Pampered Chef...and it is one of my all time favorite cake recipes! I usually make cakes completely from scratch, but this recipe is easy, yummy, and so'd never know it starts with a mix!! Perfect for when you have 100 cupcakes to make, and no time for mistakes!

Raspberry Filled Champagne Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream Icing adapted from The Pampered Chef and my own imagination

makes 24 standard cupcakes

Champagne Cake:
1 box white cake mix
3 egg whites
3/4 C champagne
1/2 C milk
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract

Raspberry Champagne Filling:
1 1/2 C frozen raspberries
1/3 C sugar
1/4 C water
1 C champagne, divided
2 Tbsp cornstarch

Lemon Buttercream Icing:
2 sticks  unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 lb powdered sugar
juice of 1 lemon
gel food coloring,  if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins with wrappers. Place cake mix in large bowl and whisk to break up any large lumps. Add champagne, milk, egg whites and vanilla and stir until combined (2-3 minutes by hand).

I use a Pampered Chef scoop to place batter in liners so my portions are equal and my cupcakes are of similar size. Fill liners 2/3 full. Place pans in oven, and bake 22-26 minutes, or until tops spring back when touched. Remove from oven to cool.

Prepare filling while cupcakes are baking, or ahead of time if making large quantities. Place 1/4 C champagne and 2 Tbsp cornstarch in small bowl, whisk until smooth and set aside.  Combine raspberries, remaining champagne, sugar and water in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat until boiling, stirring occasionally. Slowly add champagne-cornstarch mixture to pan, whisking constantly. Continue cooking 2-3 minutes to thicken mixture. If you don't want seeds in the filling, pour through a fine mesh strainer to remove. Set filling aside to cool.

When cupcakes and filling are completely cool, prepare icing. Place butter in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer if you have I FINALLY do!!) and beat on high speed until smooth. Add powdered sugar and lemon juice in small batches, mixing well after each addition. Add more or less lemon juice to achieve desired consistency.

If coloring frosting, add small amounts of gel food coloring to obtain desired color.

To fill cupcakes, cut a divot out of the center of the cupcake, place filling inside, place divot back on top..and frost as desired.

FYI: I had about 33 cupcakes with each color frosting...and because my sister-in-law wanted bright, vibrant tropical colors, each batch of frosting used approximately 1 small container of Wilton Gel Food Coloring.
This is what happens when you use that much frosting:

Gorgeous Teal Frosting...not so gorgeous teal tongues!
Photo courtesy of Dawn V. Gilmore Photography

Just for fun....most photos courtesy of Dawn V. Gilmore Photography

More to come soon...