Euro-So-Sweet Cake

Euro-So-Sweet Cake by Sweetapolita

Hello, hello from the land of pink buttercream!

Earlier this month my sister Michele celebrated a birthday, and unlike many other years I was able to see her right afterwards and make her a birthday cake! We live a few hours apart, and while we’ve seen a lot of each other in the past few months, it wasn’t always that way. We both have a love for European-style desserts, much to do with our heritage I’m sure, but she really much prefers the not-so-sweet, rich, custard-like baked goods and desserts over anything typically birthday cake-ish.

So with this in mind, along with the soon-to-be whirlwind that is Valentine’s Day, I wanted to create a layer cake that she would love (which she did!), and that tied together some of my favourite Valentine’s dessert flavours and textures: red velvet cake, tiramisu, chocolate mousse, raspberries, and more.

Euro-So-Sweet Cake by Sweetapolita

So, first I should point out that this isn’t the kind of cake that will slice ever-so-perfectly (not that that should ever count unless of course you’re trying to take lovely food photos!), but I think we all know that these are usually the most irresistible ones. But even still, please forgive what might be a slightly disheveled looking inside. What I can tell you, though, is that this cake will transport you to the sweetest of Euro cafes, and is one of the most decadent and delightful cakes I have ever made!

So here’s what we’ve got going on from the bottom up: moist dark chocolate cake topped with coffee-and-Tia Maria-moistened lady fingers, Tiramisu filling (mascarpone, sugar, eggs, etc.) with a dusting of cocoa powder, super-moist red velvet cake, raspberry preserves, rich and creamy Belgian chocolate mousse, and then another round of the same chocolate/Tiramisu and red velvet layer all frosted in pink Italian meringue buttercream.

Euro-So-Sweet Cake by Sweetapolita

And while these components all look a dream inside the cake, the best part, of course, is that the flavours and textures work so incredibly well together. With every bite there is something slightly different and wonderful going on–subtle hints of coffee and booze nestled in creamy mascarpone, light-as-air chocolate mousse, tender cake, fruity preserves, and rich vanilla buttercream.

If you don’t over-soak the lady fingers, there is just enough moisture to turn them into a vanilla cake layer that never dries out, and the red velvet and chocolate cake layers keep their moisture even with this cake in the refrigerator when not being served (a must for a cake with things like mascarpone, heavy cream fillings, mousse, etc.).

Euro-So-Sweet Cake by Sweetapolita

You’ll notice that for the first time on the blog I’ve used Italian meringue buttercream, as opposed to my beloved Swiss meringue buttercream. The real difference between the two variations is the techniques we use to make them–for Swiss we warm the egg whites and sugar before whipping them into meringue and then beating in softened butter to create our buttercream; for Italian we add a hot sugar syrup made on the stove top to the soft peak meringue, beat until thick and glossy and then beat in the butter.

In terms of the prepared buttercream, the difference is marginal (although some swear that Italian is more stable), but I think if you are a meringue buttercream lover, it’s most definitely worth trying both methods and see what you think. Because with Swiss you need to stand at the stove and gently whisk the egg whites and sugar constantly for quite some time until they are hot and the sugar dissolves, I often prefer the efficient Italian method. Of course no matter what variation you go with, the result is the perfectly fluffy, rich, decadent buttercream.

Euro-So-Sweet Cake by Sweetapolita

I topped the cake with a simple red sugar rose I had in my arsenal of sprinkles and sugar decorations, and then just added a tiny turquoise leaf. The classic border piping is super quick and gives the cake that sweet bakeshop feel we all love.

And don’t be alarmed at the seemingly endless ingredients and steps in the recipe–it really is deceiving. The fillings and cake layers are small batches, and the only really time-consuming step is the chocolate mousse, with about 20 minutes stove-side stirring. But, as you can imagine, it’s worth it.

What better way to profess your love than to say it with cake?

Euro-So-Sweet Cake

Yield: One 4-layer (6 with lady fingers layers), 8-inch round cake

Moist and tender red velvet and chocolate cake layers filled with "Euro" inspired Tiramisu, chocolate mousse, raspberry preserves, and frosted with rich and decadent pink vanilla Italian meringue buttercream.

Ingredients

    For the Chocolate Cake:
  • 2/3 cup (95 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup (135 g) sugar
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) dark cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) hot coffee
  • 3 tablespoon (45 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • For the Red Velvet Cake:
  • 1 cup (115 g) cake flour, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon dark cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup (35 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (130 g) sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons Red Velvet Emulsion (see Sweetapolita's Notes)
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) buttermilk, room temperature
  • For the Italian Meringue Buttercream:
  • 10 egg whites, room temperature
  • Pinch cream of tartar
  • 2 2/3 cups (525 g) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) water
  • 3 cups (680 g) unsalted butter, softened but cool, cut into cubes
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • AmeriColor soft gel paste in Soft Pink
  • For the Chocolate Mousse:
  • 2 eggs, separated, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) whole milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 ounces (90 g) dark chocolate, chopped or callets
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum or brandy
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream (35% cream)
  • For the Tiramisu Layers:
  • 1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream (35% cream)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (80 g) sugar
  • 2 egg yolks (reserve the whites for the Italian meringue buttercream)
  • 1 (275 g) container Mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 18-20 Savoiardi lady finger cookies (the firm kind)
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) espresso or coffee
  • 1 tablespoon Tia Maria liqueur, optional
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, for dusting
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) raspberry preserves
  • 1 sugar rose for decorating, optional

Instructions

    For the Chocolate Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare an 8-inch round cake pan with nonstick spray and a parchment round.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift all dry ingredients, including sugar. Combine egg, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla in a measuring cup and beat lightly with a fork. Add milk mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth.
  3. Bake until a toothpick comes out almost clean (a few crumbs), about 22 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes and then gently invert onto rack until completely cool.
  4. For the Red Velvet Cake:
  5. Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare an 8-inch round cake pan with nonstick spray and a parchment round.
  6. In a medium mixing bowl or on top of parchment paper, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt. Set aside.
  7. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, oil and red velvet emulsion on medium-high speed until lighter in color and slightly increased in volume, about 7 minutes. Lower the speed to medium and add the egg, mixing until it is fully incorporated, about 30 seconds.
  8. Alternate dry ingredients and buttermilk into creamed mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated and whisk by hand until smooth.
  9. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth with small offset palette knife. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 22 minutes. Try not to over-bake.
  10. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes and then gently invert onto rack until completely cool.
  11. For the Chocolate Mousse:
  12. In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the egg yolks, milk, and salt ,stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and is close to boiling, about 20 minutes (patience required!). Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir until smooth. Stir in the alcohol and extract until combined. Transfer the chocolate mixture to a medium bowl to cool.
  13. Whip the egg whites on the low speed until they become frothy. Increase speed to medium and gradually add 2 tablespoons of sugar. Continue to whip until stiff peaks form, about 1 more minute. Fold the meringue into the cooled chocolate mixture.
  14. Whip the heavy cream and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar until stiff peaks form, about 40 seconds. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate/meringue mixture until combined. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.
  15. For the Tiramisu Layers:
  16. Whip the heavy cream until stiff and chill. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks and sugar until pale and slightly thicker, about 2 minutes. Add the mascarpone cheese, the extracts and the salt, and and beat on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Fold in the whip cream until combined. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.
  17. For the Italian Meringue Buttercream:
  18. Wipe the inside of the stainless bowl and whisk attachment of your mixer clean with lemon juice or vinegar, fit onto the mixer and add the egg whites and cream of tartar.
  19. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stir together 2 1/4 cups (450 g) of the sugar and the water. Stop stirring. Brush down the sides of the saucepan with a damp pastry brush. Clip on a candy thermometer and leave the mixture to bubble uninterrupted. When the sugar syrup reaches about 170°F, start to to whip the egg whites and cream of tartar on low speed (let the syrup continue to cook) until frothy, about 30 seconds. Increase mixer speed to medium and gradually add the remaining (75 g) sugar. Increase the mixer speed to high speed and whip eggs whites to soft peaks, about 1 minute. Keep the mixer going, and when the sugar syrup reaches 240°F, promptly remove the saucepan from the heat and pour in a thin, steady stream into the meringue mixture and continue to whip the egg whites until they are stiff and glossy. When the bottom of the bowl is no longer warm, switch to the paddle attachment and, with the mixer on the lowest speed, add the cubes of butter one at a time.
  20. Increase the mixer speed to medium-low and continue to whip until all of the butter is incorporated and the buttercream is thick and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and salt and beat until combined.
  21. Assemble the Euro-So-Sweet Cake:
  22. On an 8-inch round cake board (or larger cake plate), put a small dollop of frosting. Use a long, sharp serrated knife to cut each cake layer in half horizontally. You will now have two thin red velvet layers and two thin chocolate cake layers.
  23. Place your first chocolate cake layer face-up on the board (or plate) on a cake turntable, and cover with a layer of lady fingers smooth-side down, breaking some if necessary to fit over entire layer.
  24. In a small bowl, combine the coffee and Tia Maria liqueur. Use a pastry brush to moisten each lady finger (just the tops) with the coffee mixture. Spread about 1 cup of the Tiramisu filling on top and dust with a layer of cocoa powder. Place one of the red velvet cake layers face-up on top and spread the raspberry preserves over the layer. Spread about 1 cup of chocolate mousse over the preserves.
  25. Place your remaining chocolate cake layer atop the mousse and repeat the Tiramisu layer (lady fingers, coffee brush, filling, cocoa powder). Carefully place the final red velvet cake layer on top, face-down. Gently adjust the cake so that it is straight and lined up properly. *Cake 911: If you find there are any spots where the fillings are oozing, fill those areas with some of the buttercream. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  26. Add a few drops of the pink gel paste to the Italian Meringue Buttercream and stir well to blend colour and remove air bubbles. Frost the entire outside of the cake with the pink buttercream until you have a smooth layer, sealing in all crumbs. Refrigerate until the frosting firms up, about 30 minutes. Repeat with another layer of pink buttercream, working to achieve a smooth finish. Chill cake for at least 15 minutes. To create the piped borders, fit a medium pastry bag with a coupler and icing tip #22 and pipe a shell-style border along the top and bottom of the cake. Add a sugar rose, if desired.
  27. Keep refrigerated (this cake will stay moist) for up to 2 days, but serve at a cool room temperature.

Notes

Chocolate Mousse recipe adapted from wilton.com; Tiramisu filling adapted from GIOIA Savoiardi Lady Finger package.

http://sweetapolita.com/2015/01/euro-so-sweet-cake/

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • For the chocolate cake I used Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder (extra brute).
  • For the red velvet cake, I use LorAnn Oils Red Velvet Emulsion with its concentrated colour/flavour all in one, it’s worth it (to me), but you can substitute the emulsion for 3/4 teaspoon red soft gel paste colour (AmeriColor Super Red works well).
  • For the chocolate mousse I use Callebaut Dark Callets 53.8 %, which is a versatile dark (but not intensely dark) chocolate perfect for anything from frosting to bark.
  • For the Italian meringue buttercream I use Americolor Soft Pink–a bright pink that can hold up once frosted.
  • To create the little rose leaf, I simply tinted a small amount of gum paste (you can use fondant) with AmeriColor Turquoise gel paste and cut out a little leaf.
  • For make ahead, you can prepare the Italian meringue buttercream up to a week ahead (keep refrigerated until the night before you need it, and thaw on counter, whipping for a few moments to bring back to smooth consistency), the cake layers up to 2 days ahead (kept wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature), and the chocolate mousse the night before.

See you soon with another dose of decadence!

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Purple Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Purple Velvet Cake via Sweetapolita

So . . . are you officially pepperminted? Me too. But it was lovely and delicious.

And, wow, the last day of the year? Eek! Maybe. Hooray! I’m not sure. I do know that 2015 will be a much different one for me, and I think it will be bigger and better for all of us. Some years just come bearing more than other years, which seem to come and go with minimal change or impact. But one thing I do know for certain, is that we will still all be baking ourselves happy. It’s just what we do.

And, of course this past month I’ve been baking even more than usual, which may have something to do with recently receiving my copy of Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito’s latest book, Baked Occasions: Desserts for Leisure Activities, Holidays, and Informal Celebrations. You probably know by now that I am a big fan of the “Baked” boys, and for good reason–they rock. And while I cherish their first three books (Baked: New Frontiers in Baking, Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinventedand Baked Elements: The Importance of Being Baked in 10 Favorite Ingredients), I have to say that this one is my favourite.

First off, I love that the book is organized by occasions and holidays (and not just the predictable ones–think Julia Child’s Birthday, Gay PrideDolly Parton’s Birthday, and more). It’s kind of brilliant. Secondly, I feel as though the boys have kicked the whole game up a notch. Sure, this book is quintessential “Baked” with its decadence and approachability, but I feel the recipes are even more inventive and irresistible. Heavy hits of sprinkles, colour, and creativity don’t hurt either. This book has it all.

Purple Velvet Cake via Sweetapolita

So I decided to dive in and bake their “Gonzo” cake, which is Purple Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting created in honor of Hunter S. Thompson’s Birthday. I can’t help but think of an old high school writer boyfriend who was rather enchanted by the antics of one crazed Hunter S. Thompson and his “Gonzo” style journalism. Who knew that memory would come back upon opening a fabulous baking book? See, you just never know what can be when you bake. ;)

Anyway, when it comes to cake, I’m a sucker for anything “velvet,” and, well, you know how I feel about colour and sprinkles. I decided to celebrate the “purple” with a medley of my favourite purple-and-such sprinkles, which is fun hint of what’s to come when the cake is sliced and served (and in my house where there is purple, there is turquoise–Frozen much? #cakelets #frozenfever).

Purple Velvet Cake via Sweetapolita

And don’t let the purple cake and sprinkles fool you–this cake is so much more than just a dose of dazzling dye. While the purple is enhanced by a few drops of soft gel paste (or you could use regular food colouring), the main source of the rich purple hue is the purple yam powder–a unique ingredient that lends to a moist cake with, as the boys says, a wine-like taste and texture similar to red velvet cake. The dominant flavour of the cake is not “yam-ish” but rather a sweet (but not too sweet) earthy taste that is hard to describe.

The flavour and texture of the purple yam cake and lends beautifully to the classic, tangy cream cheese frosting although, much like red velvet, I think it would also pair well with a classic sweet cake frosting. What I love that is colour and flavour of the cake are so unexpected and distinct, and that after the first bite I wanted to keep tasting more so that I could, aside from eat more cake, solve the mystery that is purple yam powder. Odd and delightful all at once.

Purple Velvet Cake via Sweetapolita

Hooray for purple cake and sprinkles! And for Baked Occasions, of course.

And the awesomeness doesn’t end with the Gonzo Cake. I have a long to-bake list from this book, and I almost don’t know where to start. Some of the recipes calling my name are the Rainbow Icebox Cake with Homemade Chocolate Cookies, Tricolor Cake (Italian Christmas Cookie Cake), Orange Buttermilk Picnic Cake with Chocolate Chips, and I could go on and on . . .

bakedoccasions581

So before we embark upon those, or all of the other awesomeness in the book, let’s bake the Gonzo Cake!

Purple Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting {Gonzo Cake} from Baked Occasions

Serving Size: One 3-layer, 8-inch round cake

Gonzo Cake from the book Baked Occasions. Moist purple velvet cake filled and frosted with classic cream cheese frosting and topped with a medley of sprinkles.

Ingredients

    For the Purple Velvet Cake:
  • 1 (4-ounce/115 g) package purple yam powder (about 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons; see Note)
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) canola oil or other vegetable oil
  • 2 1/4 cups (285 g) cake flour
  • 3/4 cup (90 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 ounces (1 stick/115 g) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pans
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) vegetable shortening, at room temperature
  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • Blue and red food dyes or gels
  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 3 cups (340 g) confectioners' sugar
  • 8 ounces (2 sticks/225 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 (8-ounce/226-g) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

    Make the Purple Velvet Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 325˚F (165˚C). Butter three 8-inch (20-cm) cake pans, line them with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust with flour and knock out the excess.
  2. In a small saucepan over very low heat, stir together 2 cups (480 ml) of water with the purple yam powder and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is rehydrated, between 5 and 20 minute depending on the heat. Once the mixture looks and feels like mashed potatoes (or mashed yams) remove it from the heat and whisk in the canola oil.
  3. In a large bowl, sift both flours, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening on medium speed until cream, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low. Add the flour mixture in three equal parts, alternating with the purple yam mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and then mix on low speed for a few more seconds.
  5. Mix equal drops of red and blue food dyes in a small bowl to make purple, then scrape it into the cake batter and mix until a pale purple color is achieved.
  6. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites by hand or in your standing mixer until soft peaks form, do not overbeat. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
  7. Divide the batter equally among all three pans. Use your spatula to spread the batter evenly. Bake the cakes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and cool for 20 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the rack, remove the pans, and let them cool completely. Remove the parchment.
  8. Make the Cream Cheese Frosting:
  9. Sift the confectioners' sugar into a large bowl and set aside.
  10. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until it is completely smooth. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined.
  11. Add the confectioners' sugar, vanilla, if using, and salt and beat just until smooth; do not overbeat or the frosting will lose structure. Chill the frosting in the refrigerator for about 5 minutes. (The frosting can be made up to 24 hours ahead; cover the bowl tightly, refrigerate, and let the filling soften at room temperature before using.)
  12. Assemble the Gonzo Cake:
  13. Place one cake layer on a serving platter. Trim the top to create a flat surface and even spread about 1 1/4 cups (330 g) of the frosting on top. Add the next layer, trim and frost it, then add the third layer. Trim the top layer. Spread a very thin layer of frosting over the sides and top of the cake (a crumb coat, which helps to keep loose cake crumbs under control when you frost the outside of the cake) and place it in the refrigerator to firm up, about 15 minutes.
  14. Remove the cake from the refrigerator. Frost the sides and top with the remaining frosting. Sprinkle the outer edge of the top of the cake with the sprinkles, if you like. Chill the cake in the refrigerator to set the frosting, about 15 minutes. Slice and serve.
  15. How to Store:
  16. This cake can be covered in a cake saver in a cool room for up to 3 days. If you refrigerate it, make sure to cover it tightly and bring it back to room temperature before serving.
http://sweetapolita.com/2014/12/purple-velvet-cake-with-cream-cheese-frosting/

A Note from the Baked Boys about Substituting Sweet Potatoes for Yam Powder: 

When you swap out just one ingredient–obscure purple yam powder for standard mashed sweet potatoes–something amazing happens. Essentially you get a whole new cake: entirely different, but entirely delicious on its own. The main difference is the texture. While the texture of the Purple Velvet cake is akin to a red velvet, this potato version has more in common with an apple cake.

Here’s how to do it:
1. Swap the yam powder in the recipe for 2 cups (420 g) roasted, peeled, and mashed sweet potatoes. Ideally use fresh sweet potatoes, though canned puree without any other ingredients should be okay.
2. Bake the mashed sweet potato cake layers slightly longer than the yam powder layers, 5 to 7 more minutes.
Omit the purple food dye. The mashed sweet potato cake is a pretty sherbet-orange color, and the purple dye will just ruin it.

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • For the yam powder I ordered and used this Powdered Purple Yam.
  • For the purple gel paste, I used Americolor Regal Purple.
  • For the purple sprinkle medley, I used a combination of Purple Sixlets (large candy-coated chocolate “sprinkles), Candy Beads in Lavender, Lavender Jimmies, turquoise jimmies + pastel pink jimmies (these were homemade sprinkles I made, but you could use any in these colours for the same effect), and a few Edible Gold Stars. Add equal parts of all of the sprinkles into a plastic zip-top bag and shake to mix. Simply add the sprinkle medley around the other edge of the cake and voila! Purple sprinkles galore!

Wishing you a safe New Year’s Eve filled with utter love and sparkle, friends! xo 

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Gilded Reindeer and Santa Cookies

Gilded Reindeer & Santa Cookies via Sweetapolita

Merry, Merry, friends!

I’m sorry for posting these cookies so close to Christmas, but I couldn’t resist sharing them with you–better late than never, perhaps? We’ve certainly been cookie-ing more than normal this year, and I really wanted to make some decorated cookies for my cakelets’ teachers, so this is what we came up with: super-cute-and-slightly-sauced-looking-Santa paired with his fancy-but-adorable reindeer. The things Christmas cookie dreams are made of, we think.

Gilded Reindeer & Santa Cookies via Sweetapolita

The reindeer are simple white and gilded and their big pink candy noses are super-cute. I came across a few gilded antler deer cookies on Pinterest and I loved the idea, because the sweetness of the reindeer’s face paired with the elegance of the gold antlers is a perfect holiday cookie, in my opinion. An ideal New Year’s cookie too!

Gilded Reindeer & Santa Cookies via Sweetapolita

We went for a “cute” Santa as well, because I’m convinced that cute cookies are always irresistible and possibly more fun to make than even the fanciest of designs. For Santa I used the design on the cutter box for inspiration, but gave him teeny, tiny eyes and shiny pink nose, which makes us giggle (too many rum & eggnogs, Santa?), and of course a poofy moustache, just ’cause.

We used The Perfect Gingerbread Cookie recipe I posted awhile ago–some with the more mild fancy molasses, and some with the darker cooking molasses–because one thing about classic gingerbread men that my cakelets always point out is they just don’t have enough icing. They LOVE royal icing (I think everyone does, really), and these frosted delights did the trick.

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For our Santa and reindeer shapes, I used my Meri Meri Jingle All The Way Cutters (I’m obsessed), which really inspired me to create these cookies at all. Of course you can use any Santa or deer/reindeer cutters you may have or come across. I think this would work well on many different styles. What holiday cookies did you create this year?

Okay, so let’s make these cookies! The girls and I are actually making another round of these on Christmas Day, to bring to our family gathering a few days later. Can’t wait!

Gilded Reindeer and Santa Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe The Perfect Gingerbread Cookie
  • 2 recipes Royal Icing
  • AmeriColor gel paste colours in Gold, Super Red
  • Food marker in black
  • Luster Dust in gold (see Notes)
  • Sixlets in Pink, for the reindeer noses
  • Candy beads in pink, for Santa's nose
  • Petal Dust in pink or red, for Santa's cheeks
  • White nonpareils, for Santa's pom pom
  • You will also need:
  • Disposable medium-sized pastry bags
  • Couplers
  • Pastry tips #3, 20
  • 2 food-safe small paint brushes

Instructions

  1. Roll out the cookie dough using the santa and reindeer cutters, and bake according to recipe. Let cool completely. Prepare the Royal Icing and keep well-covered with plastic wrap.
  2. Tint about 1 1/2 cups of icing gold using using AmeriColor gold gel paste. Add a few drops of water and stir until the icing flows with a 10-second consistency (a line run through the icing with a knife with disappear in 10-seconds). Fill a pastry bag fitted with a coupler and #3 pastry tip with about 3/4 cup of gold icing and cover the remaining gold icing with plastic wrap. Pipe the antlers on each reindeer.
  3. Use the black food marker to outline the shape of Santa's face on each cookie. Add a drop of red gel paste to the remaining gold icing to create a skin-tone icing. Add the icing to another pastry bag fitted with a coupler and another #3 tip, and outline and fill each Santa face using the black marker outline as your guide.
  4. Fill another two-thirds full with pastry bag fitted with a #3 tip with 10-second consistency white icing and outline and fill the entire reindeer below the antlers. Let dry completely, overnight if possible.
  5. Use the same white icing to outline and fill Santa's beard and rim of his hat. Let dry completely, overnight if possible. Reserve the remaining royal icing and keep covered with plastic wrap.
  6. Once the cookies are dry, tint about 1 cup of 10-second icing red and fill another pastry bag fitted with a #3 tip no more than two-thirds full. Outline and fill Santa's hat and let dry.
  7. Mix a small amount of the gold luster dust with clear extract or vodka, and use a food-safe paint brush to paint the reindeer antlers. Use the black food marker to draw on the reindeer's eyelashes and Santa's eyes.
  8. Use another small food-safe paint brush to dust on a very tiny bit of red or pink petal dust onto Santa's cheeks.
  9. Use the thicker, un-thinned reserved royal icing to "glue" on the pink sixlets for the reindeer's nose. Fill a pastry bag fitted with pastry tip #20 (or similar) with about 1 cup of reserved icing and pipe Santa's moustache. Add a pink candy bead nose by pressing into the top of each moustache. Pipe a dollop of frosting on the top of Santa's hat and sprinkle with white nonpareils.
http://sweetapolita.com/2014/12/gilded-reindeer-and-santa-cookies/

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

I will be back right after Christmas with another sweet recipe, but I sincerely hope you have a magical holiday season, my friends! xo

 

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The Perfect Gingerbread Cookie

The Perfect Gingerbread Cookie via Sweetpolita

Tis the season for much joy, family, and holiday shopping, but also that of butter and sugar, that’s for certain. Although for some of us that sugar-filled season is all year round. But since gingerbread is the quintessential holiday baked good, I have a special place in my heart for it. And, believe it or not, it’s one of the only things I bake that both my kids love to eat. And of course they have heaps of fun decorating them. I think we all do! I think it’s because it really doesn’t take much to transform a cut-out gingerbread person into a delightful little rosy-cheeked man with a face almost too sweet to bite. Just like that they come to life–hello!. Aaand then we eat’em all up–goodbye.

The Perfect Gingerbread Cookie via Sweetapolita

Aside from being super-cute and lovable to look at, what do you think makes the “perfect” gingerbread cookie recipe? For me it’s a combination of things–very important things. First, the texture of the cookie needs to be fairly crispy along the outside with a semi-soft, cake-like inside, and like all “perfect” cut-out cookies, they definitely need to keep their shape when baked.

Secondly, they must taste sweet but notably spicy, and have a rich molasses flavour. Essentially they *must* taste like Christmas.

The Perfect Gingerbread Cookie via Sweetapolita

And while I think that there are many wonderful gingerbread recipes out there (including the recipe I often used and shared for the Jumbo Gingerbread Folk whom I continue to love and adore), I’ve found this variation to be one of favourites. I’ve made them with both “cooking molasses,” which lends to a robust, dark cookie (as shown in these photos), and with a much milder “fancy molasses,” as shown in the photos below with my cakelets. Both are delightful, and of course it’s personal preference on the intensity of the molasses flavour in your cookie. I just happen to love both the taste and the dark colour the cooking molasses lends.

The Perfect Gingerbread Cookie via Sweetapolita

Of course this gingerbread tastes just as amazing baked up as gingerbread houses, stars, unicorns, or anything else you or your cakelets feel inclined to create, but my heart belongs to the classic gingerbread boys. Kind of hard not to smile when you see them, which of course makes them perfect for sharing and gifting.

The Perfect Gingerbread Cookie via Sweetapolita

We’ve had many a gingerbread baking and decorating party here, and will squeeze a few more in before this season ends because it’s one of those things that genuinely makes my cakelets happy and perfectly content. I often bake several batches and freeze them undecorated, so that when the urge strikes we can pop a few out of the freezer and get our decorating fix. It works really well for rainy days and other times the kids get bored (other types of cutout cookies also work well!).

The Perfect Gingerbread Cookies via Sweetapolita

Let the gingerbread making begin! Or, well, continue.

The Perfect Gingerbread Cookie via Sweetapolita

And for other “perfect” cut-out cookie recipes, try my The Perfect Sugar Cookie and The Perfect Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookie recipes. Let us cookie for the rest of eternity! When we’re not caking, that is. :)

December 22, 2014 note: I slightly decreased the molasses in this recipe, because I feel it makes for a bit more of a crisp cookie that maintains it’s semi-soft center.

The Perfect Gingerbread Cookie

Yield: Makes about 18 medium-large cookies

Spicy, semi-soft gingerbread cookies with a slightly crispy edge, that keep their shapes perfectly when baked.

Ingredients

  • 6 1/2 cups (815 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (283 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (220 g) light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup (220 g) cooking molasses
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. In large bowl, sift together flour, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and brown sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, scraping sides of bowl between additions. Add molasses and vanilla and beat until completely incorporated.
  3. Reduce mixer speed to low and add flour mixture until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Dough should be soft (not dry or crumbly) but not sticky. If sticky, add a few tablespoons of flour until desired consistency is achieved.
  4. Divide the dough in 2, place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap, press down with the palm of your hand and make a disc about 2" thick. Finish wrapping the disc with the plastic wrap. Chill the discs of dough for at least 2 hours.
  5. Remove one disc and remove plastic wrap. Place on top of a large piece of lightly floured parchment or wax paper (I use a silicone rolling mat underneath to ensure it doesn't slip while rolling, but you can even dampen counter so the parchment sticks a bit.), then place two 1/4" wooden dowels on either side of your dough, then another sheet of parchment paper.
  6. Roll dough (this will require a bit of elbow grease for the first few minutes until it softens up a bit) so it's flush with dowels--they will ensure that your dough is even thickness.
  7. Slide your parchment paper and dough onto a board, then place in refrigerator for about 30 minutes, or freezer for 15 minutes (or more).
  8. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line two or three baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment. Remove the rolled dough from fridge, and cut your shapes using the cutters or template of choice, placing them on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the edges just start to brown, about 8 minutes for medium cookies, and 10 minutes for larger cookies (such as those in the photos).Be careful not to over-bake, or cookies will be dry. Collect remaining dough and re-roll once, repeating cutting and baking steps. Dough rolled out more than once will be a little tough, so it's best to keep it to a 2-time roll-out maximum.
  9. Cool sheets on wire racks for 20 minutes, then gently remove cookies and place on wire racks to finish cooling. If cookies are too fragile, you can cool completely on trays.
  10. Decorate with royal icing, candies, sprinkles, and more.
http://sweetapolita.com/2014/12/the-perfect-gingerbread-cookie/

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • As mentioned in the post, I like to use cooking molasses for a dark, robust cookie. For a milder variety, try using fancy molasses.
  • To create gingerbread families, I love this Gingerbread Family Cookie Cutter Set.
  • Try using best-quality (and fresh) spices, such as Vietnamese Cinnamon (this stuff is also pretty amazing in my Cinnabon Style Cinnamon Buns and other desserts where cinnamon is the star).
  • Use Royal Icing to decorate your heart out, and have fun with the cookie decorating! Let cakelets use pretty much any kind of candy and have fun experimenting with different “outfits” for the gingerbread folk–candies, licorice, sprinkles, chocolate chips, and more.
  • Happy Holiday’ing! xo
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