Monday, January 7, 2013

Funfetti Cake from Scratch

It's Chloe's birthday. She turned 19 and will soon be leaving to serve an LDS mission in Birmingham, Alabama—Spanish speaking. We are very proud of her and are excited to hear her adventures and all about the great things she'll be doing.

I asked Chloe what kind of cake she wanted me to make for her. She called my cell phone (from downstairs in her bedroom) to place her order. She requested a Funfetti cake. My initial reaction was, "You can't be serious!" I am not a big fan of cake mixes, and I have always thought the Funfetti cake was the worst of the worst. Chloe, however, has always loved it. How could Chloe, whose parents both love to bake, prefer a boxed cake mix with those nasty sprinkles. I just plain don't get it. Anyway, Chloe went on to clarify that she wanted a Funfetti cake made from scratch. Since it was her birthday, I was willing to compromise. Plus, she'll be far away next year.

For the Funfetti cake from scratch, I decided to make just a basic white cake and throw in a bunch of sprinkles. To frost the cake, I made a vanilla buttercream and threw on a bunch more sprinkles (And when I say "threw on," I mean it. Those little things were everywhere.) I added 19 colorful, curly candles, and the party was on.

The result? Chloe and the family really liked it. It was a little on the sweet side for me—but so is the cake mix version. I would recommend small slices of cake served with a simple flavor of ice cream. Next time, I think I'll try a cream cheese frosting, a strawberry butter cream, or find a white frosting that's a little less sweet. But still, it was a good cake, and I even liked it better the next day.

Happy birthday, Chloe!

I was very happy with how it turned out. This cake says, "Party!"

It was pretty a lit up, too.

This was the perfect size slice. Otherwise, it would be sugar overload.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Gourmet Hostess Cupcakes (and Homemade Twinkies)

OK, I think I'm starting to catch up and can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm only a couple months behind.

It was about two months ago that the big headlining news was that Hostess was going out of business. All of America was in a panic. There was a run on all Hostess products at the grocery store, and people were selling Twinkies on Ebay for ridiculous amounts.

I think I fell into the same category as most Americans. I hadn't eaten a Twinkie, Cupcake, or Zinger in years, but now that they would be no more, I was upset. They were definitely a part of my growing up. Every day at school for years, I could count on some sort of Hostess product in my lunchbox. And, I have many memories associated with them. Katie and I called the raspberry filled powdered sugar donuts "Temple Donuts" because we would pick up a package for the car trip to the LDS temple when we were newlyweds. Ding Dongs and Chocodiles were also some of my favorite Hostess treats. I even remember when they came out with special orange flavored Ding Dongs.

I'm not too worried though. My bet is that some company will by Hostess, and they'll return soon.

In the meantime, I've made my own Twinkies and Cupcakes. I had planned to bring in some of both to work for Ellie's birthday. But, only the Cupcakes made it. The recipe for the Twinkies didn't make enough, and once everyone in the family tried one, or two, there weren't many left.

For the Twinkies, I used the Todd Wilbur's Top Secret Recipes version. I didn't have a Twinkie pan, so I watched his video on how to make Twinkie molds from tinfoil. Most of the Twinkies turned out well, but a few were oddly shaped. However, they all tasted remarkably like the real thing.

Next time I try making them, I plan to make them completely from scratch. Todd Wilbur's recipe uses a cake mix. I want to see if I can kick the "gourmet" level of the Twinkies up a notch.

Yep, they look like the real thing.

I actually think this cream center is better than what you actually find in a Twinkie.
So for Ellie's birthday, I decided to make my own gourmet version of the famous Hostess Cupcake. I was not going to use a cake mix but rather my favorite cocoa fudge cake recipe. Instead of chocolate frosting, I covered them with a ganache. My original plan was to write Ellie's name across the top instead of the trademark loops, but my piping skills are terrible and I was in a hurry. Using white chocolate, I scribbled like a two year-old across each one.

The gourmet Hostess Cupcakes were a bit hit. I thought they were much better than the original. I have plans to make them at Christmas. However, I will practice my piping skills so I can write "hohohohoho" across the top. Clever, eh?

Mmmmm...Hostess-y goodness!
Happy birthday, Ellie!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Berry Orange Torte

This cake is also something I made a couple months ago and am finally getting around to posting the recipe.

One of my students was having a birthday the next day, and I was walking through the grocery store for inspiration. I came upon some magnificent looking blackberries that were on sale. They looked so good, I knew I needed to use them somehow. When I got home, I immediately began looking through cookbooks to see what I could make using the berries. I found a Taste of Home recipe I could adapt.

The recipe called for a box cake mix. Typically, I always prefer scratch, but I was short on time. The cake was very easy to make, and it turned out to be a real show stopper. I had also never used Mascarpone cheese before. Oh my! That stuff is goooood. You could easily substitute cream cheese in the recipe. But, I think I'm now going to start looking for more recipes to try that use Mascarpone cheese.

It's a beautiful cake. And if you chose to use a cake mix, no one would ever guess. I felt this was worthy of a German bakery.
Here's the lucky birthday girl. Happy birthday, Brielle!