Category: Desserts

Firetruck Birthday Cake

I haven’t been cooking (and blogging) as much lately, but of course, birthday parties are special.  For my younger nephew’s 2nd birthday, the cake team assembled again to make this firetruck.  It was a much smaller project than the Great Train Cake, but still gave us a challenge.  We got most of our inspiration from this video which really takes you through the process step by step.

While I have a great egg free recipe for chocolate cake, we have not found the best recipe for yellow cake yet.  My Mom ended up making two cakes from different recipes.  The first was this recipe from the UK version of the Food Network.  The batter was much too thick so my Mom added some milk, but the cake was still a little dry.  Then she made a marble cake from a box mix, using egg replacer.  That one was very crumbly.  In the end, we salvaged what we could to make the firetruck, but we’re still on the lookout for the best egg free cake recipe.

The video shows you how to slice and stack the cakes to make the shape of the firetruck.  Two things really helped us out here; using generous amounts of frosting, and putting the cake in the freezer a few times to help the frosting harden.  The frosting is just a basic butter/powdered sugar/milk mixture, tinted with all the red food coloring we could find.  The decorations included a pretzel ladder, gum drop lights, Oreo wheels, Hershey’s miniatures as windows, and a licorice fire hose.

 

firetruck cake

 

 

When my nephew saw the cake, he immediately made noises like a siren, so I do think he got the idea.  Finally, the time came where he got to blow out the candle and actually eat some cake.  I think our firetruck cake was a success.

 

ethan2cake

Egg-Free Chocolate Cupcakes

We had a fun Easter dinner, but I think the best part was dessert.  So many Easter recipes feature eggs, but I found this Egg-Free Chocolate Cupcake recipe with Orange Buttercream Icing.  I should have made the icing a different color, to avoid the ‘Halloween look’, but these were great tasting cupcakes.

The cupcakes use basic ingredients like flour, and sugar, and cocoa powder, with chocolate chips for good measure.  You don’t need flax, or chia or any other egg substitute; the recipe just works.  They are so moist, they stick to your fingers when you eat them.

The frosting is a basic butter/powdered sugar blend, with orange juice for flavor and gelatin powder for color.  So you really could make these any flavor and color.  This will be my new go-to recipe for holiday cupcakes!

 

 

 

Pumpkin Cheesecake Shooters

After Thanksgiving dinner, everyone is usually way too full for dessert.  But you just can’t resist having something, right?  These Pumpkin Cheesecake Shooters from Skinnytaste give you a small taste of something sweet, and they’re also adorable!

I followed the recipe as written, and was able to make the filling ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator.  Of course, I had to try it out to make sure it was acceptable for our guests.  The pumpkin cheesecake was really good, but next time I would increase the amount of pureed pumpkin for a more intense flavor.

A few hours before serving, I piped the filling and whipped topping into the glasses using the tried-and-true Ziploc bag with the corner snipped.  We tried out a few different sized glasses including a regular shot glass, a larger cordial glass, and limoncello glasses.

 

You really don’t need to buy any special glasses; use whatever you have around.  Just remember that if you use a really narrow glass, you also have to provide spoons that can reach the bottom!

These are a fun option for Thanksgiving dinner.  And if you’re lucky enough to have a few leftover, you can feel very fancy enjoying one the next day after your turkey sandwich.  🙂

 

Chocolate Beet Cake with Beet Cream Cheese Frosting

Although my birthday always falls near Thanksgiving, we still manage to find time for birthday cake.  My request this year was for a chocolate cake with pink frosting.  This Chocolate Beet Cake with Beet Cream Cheese Frosting fit the bill perfectly!  The recipe is from Joy the Baker, and she almost rivals Smitten Kitchen for great recipes.

 

 

You might be thinking – “beets…creative!”  But you might be thinking – “beets….yuck!”  Let me assure you that you can’t taste the beets in the cake or the frosting.  They only serve to make the cake moist, and the frosting a bright pink.  It helps to roast and grate the beets a day ahead because that’s really the messy part of the project.  After that, it’s a pretty straightforward two layer cake recipe.

My Mom did the majority of the work for the cake, and had my older nephew help with the frosting.

 

Later he got to decorate the cake with sprinkles, and then it was time for his favorite part, the candles!

With his little brother already in bed, he got to be center stage to help sing and blow out the candles.  Thanks to my family, it was a fun night and a fabulous cake!

Baseball Cake

For my nephew’s 3rd birthday, the cake team decided to go with a sports theme.  Even though baseball season is winding down, we thought it would be fun to make a baseball cake.  The birthday boy actually got to help pick the flavor of the cake this year and he requested chocolate.  (Actually, he requested “grape cake” first, but I am pretty sure he was imagining a big platter of grapes and not a grape-flavored cake!)

My Mom baked the chocolate cake using the Hershey’s Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake recipe.  We considered baking the cake in a Pyrex bowl so it would be a half sphere shape, but some Googling revealed that it can be difficult to make sure the center of the cake is adequately cooked without burning the edges.  So we baked two 8″ round cakes, and then used a simple butter and confectioner’s sugar frosting to ’round’ things out a bit.  We used red cookie icing to decorate the cake with the stitching and a “3”.

This may have been our simplest cake project yet, but it was still a great cake and we had fun making it.  And yes, the cake was served with fruit salad which included grapes.

 

 

 

The Great Train Cake

I feel like my blog has been one big party this summer!  We’ll get back to “regular meals” by the end of the week, I promise.  But first, I have to share the story of The Great Train Cake.

The bar for first birthday cakes was set pretty high back with these Monkey Cakes of 2010.  But of course we had to do something different for my youngest nephew.  I am not sure who came up with the idea for a train cake first, but the project was planned with many Google searches, Pinterest surfing, sketches, and long lists on legal sized paper.  But all the details aside, we had a lot of fun.  Hop aboard for the full story, or scroll to the bottom just to see an adorable baby toddler eating cake.

 

 

The Baking

My Mom used Smitten Kitchen’s Best Yellow Layer Cake recipe, and multiplied it by 1.5 to yield a 13″x9″ cake and a 9″x5″ loaf pan.  She baked another 13″x9″ cake using Hershey’s Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake recipe.  She used one half of Smitten Kitchen’s Two Layer Banana Cake recipe to yield another 9″x5″ loaf pan.  You might be thinking that 1) that’s a lot of math; 2) that’s a lot of baking; and 3) why did they need 3 different types of cake?  My Dad helped a bit with the math, my Mom did the baking over the course of 2 days and stored the layers in the freezer, and yes, we’re a little crazy and wanted some variety in the flavors.

The Decorating

First, we started with a cake board.  It’s important to have a sturdy surface, especially since the cake must be stored in the refrigerator.  We placed the 13″x9″ cakes side by side to form the base layer.  The majority of the cake was frosted with Smitten Kitchen’s Vanilla Buttercream Frosting, but we used canned chocolate frosting for the engine.  We colored the vanilla frosting in small bowls as we went along.

We coated the top and sides of the base layer with the vanilla frosting, and then piped on chocolate icing for the train tracks. The loaf pan of banana cake was cut to form an engine, using this Betty Crocker video as a guide.  The loaf pan of vanilla cake was cut into thirds, to form 3 train cars.  You’ll notice that only 2 of those train cars fit on the cake; sadly, one car had to be left behind in the station.

 

 

My Mom’s kitchen looked like a scene out of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.  We had a lot of different ideas on what to use for wheels and other train decor.  In the end, we used generic chocolate sandwich cookies for wheels.  We used Twizzlers to outline the top of the train car.  Other candy we used includes M&M’s, Junior Mints, and peach rings.

 

It was a hot August night, and the frosting was melting, so we put it in the refrigerator at this point.  It just fit.  The next day, we did some touch-up work with frosting, and added a “1”.

 

 

The Serving

Finally, it was time to bring out the cake and serve it.  We all sang “Happy Birthday” and he got some help blowing out the candle.  Note that my sister removed the pieces of candy which could be a choking hazard before placing the engine in front of him.

 

All he wanted to do was stick his fingers in the frosting, which he decided he liked.  I am not sure he even got to any cake!

 

The cake project was a lot of fun, and we’ll remember it for a long time!

Cinnamon Graham Cracker Ice Cream

In addition to the ravioli, my Mom had one other request for her birthday – homemade ice cream.  Specifically, she wanted to try this Cinnamon Graham Cracker Ice Cream recipe from Penzey’s.  We put together the ingredients, and poured them into our Cuisinart ice cream maker.  The ice cream maker produces a soft-serve consistency, so we placed the ice cream in the freezer after that to harden further.  After what seemed like a long wait, the ice cream was ready.  My nephews were very excited to help blow out the candle in a container of ice cream!

 

 

The recipe uses a combination of heavy cream and Greek yogurt for a thick and creamy texture.  I really liked the cinnamon flavor, but the recipe calls for both honey and maple syrup which made it too sweet.  The Heath Bars and graham crackers are fun mix-ins, and add plenty of sweetness on their own.  A dish of ice cream on a hot and humid August night made for a better celebration than any cake!  Our family has ONE more birthday left this summer, and it’s going to be quite the event.  Stay tuned…