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Happy Happy Cupcake Cookies

Happy Happy Cupcake Cookies via Sweetapolita

Hello from the land of happy, happy cupcake cookies! Dare you not to smile.

Yes, it’s cookie o’clock around my house right now. I think, of course, it has something to do with the season, and with two little cakelets (who are suddenly not so little!) who love to decorate and gift such tasty and colourful things.

We’re about to dive into more traditionally seasonal gingerbread cookies and such, but before we get too into holiday-baking, we made a batch of these little guys to make us, and those around us, smile. And they really do the trick–smiles aplenty

Inspired by a package of candy eyeballs that have been staring at me every time I open my sprinkle cupboard, I thought it would be fun to create little pastel confection friends to share. Starting with a half-batch of The Perfect Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookies, which I have to admit get better every time I taste them while keeping their shape like a dream, we added some pastel Royal Icing in a cakey colour scheme and topped them with the obligatory (for good reason) sprinkles and then quirky and lovable faces. Then we gobbled them up with no shame. Oops.

Happy Happy Cupcake Cookies Via Sweetapolita

Sometimes decorating with royal icing is rather intimidating if you’ve not done it before, or often, but when you go slowly and thoughtfully, I find it rather therapeutic. For many “patterns” or shapes it’s helpful to draw directly onto the cookie with a food marker (as the first cookie above shows) and then pipe your icing directly over the lines. This really helps!

This type of cookie decorating is also one of those things that makes you feel incredibly proud when you see how lovely the finished product is–the porcelain finish of royal icing gives cookies such a fancy feel, even though it’s simple to do. It can also be used for simple embellishments, as we did with the Jumbo Gingerbread Folk. It adds just enough sweetness to balance an otherwise intense cookie, such as gingerbread or these dark chocolate sugar cookies.

Happy Happy Cupcake Cookies

I was just thinking how adding these happy little faces to pretty much any decorated cookie would bring an instant hit of cute. Happy pie cookies, happy ice cream cone cookies, happy cookie cookies . . .

I love designs like this because it’s impossible to not smile when you look at them–perfect for giving to kids and grown ups alike. I can promise you that if you make a batch of these happy little folk, you will feel the love.

Happy Cupcake Cookies

Yield: Makes about 20 medium cupcake cookies

Dark and decadent chocolate sugar cookies frosted with pastel royal icing, sprinkles, and cute-as-can-be faces. Happy, happy!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 recipe The Perfect Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookie
  • For the Royal Icing:
  • 4 cups (500 g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup (40 g) meringue powder
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) cup water, plus more for thinning
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice, plus more for bowl
  • 1/2 teaspoon extract of your choice (nothing oil-based, and if you want pure white icing, you will want to use clear extract)
  • AmeriColor gel paste color in Turquoise and Soft Pink
  • For Decorating:
  • Sprinkles (small confetti quin sprinkles and white nonpareils)
  • Large heart sprinkles
  • Candy eyes (about 40 total)
  • Food Marker in black
  • You will also need:
  • 2 medium pastry bags
  • 2 standard couplers
  • 2 small plain round pastry tips (I use #3)
  • Toothpicks

Instructions

    Bake the cookies:
  1. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats (I like Silpat) or parchment paper. Roll out the dark chocolate cookie dough according to the recipe here. Cut out the cupcake cookies using a medium-sized cupcake cutter and transfer to the baking sheets. Freeze the cookies on the baking sheets for 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and bake the cookies until edges are just crisp, about 17 minutes.
  3. For the Royal Icing:
  4. Use a paper towel to wipe the bowl of an electric mixer and a rubber spatula with a few drops of lemon juice. Add all of the ingredients into the bowl and fit the mixer with the paddle attachment.
  5. Mix ingredients on low-speed for 12 minutes.
  6. Stir in small increments (1 teaspoon at a time) of water until you reach a "10-second" consistency (thank you Marian at Sweetopia for this!), which means when you run the tip of a knife through the icing, the line disappears in 10-seconds. This will result in an ideal consistency for outlining and filling the cookies.
  7. Keep royal icing covered with plastic wrap at all times. Store with a damp cloth and plate (same diameter as top of bowl) on top in bowl in refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  8. Tint about one-third of the icing turquoise using a tiny dab of gel paste colour. Fit a pastry bag with a coupler and pastry tip and fill the bag two-thirds full with the turquoise icing and secure the bag with a rubber band. Keep the tip tucked into a damp cloth when not in use. Repeat with the remaining icing, this time tinting it pastel pink.
  9. Decorate the cookies:
  10. Using the turquoise icing, outline and outline and fill the "cupcake liner" portion of the cookies. Gently shake the cookie from side to side to even out the icing and use a toothpick to gently connect icing over any missing spots. Let dry for at least an hour.
  11. Using the black food pen, draw the outlines for the frosting swirls (see photo) as a guide. Using the pink icing, pipe along these black lines on all of the cookies. Go back to the first cookie piped and fill in these lines and sprinkle with confetti quin and nonpareil sprinkles. Repeat with the remaining cookies.
  12. Carefully adhere the candy eyes and cheeks (larger quin sprinkles) using a tiny tab of royal icing Draw the mouths on with the black food marker. Once the pink portion of the cookies are dry, finish by adhering a heart sprinkle to the top of each cookie.
  13. Let dry for at least 12 hours before packaging. Keep dry decorated cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • For the cupcake cookie cutter I used this style, but you can use any one you wish! You could add this face to pretty much anything and it would instantly create a cute-as-can-be cookie.
  • For the dark chocolate cookies I used Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder, Extra Brute (this link is where I have found the best price to be–one of my favourite shops).
  • I used these small Confetti Pastel Sequins for the top portion of the cookie, and these Pastel Edible Confetti sprinkles for the cheeks.
  • I used these Jumbo Hearts Sprinkles for the heart detail.
  • I used these Candy Eyeballs (you could also just pipe white dots with a smaller black dot of icing if you can’t find the eyeballs–they just make life easier).
  • I used the AmeriColor Black Food Writer for the drawing the mouth and for outlining the frosting swirls prior to icing.

See you soon with another sugary recipe! ♥

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Cheesecake Party Pops

Cheesecake Party Pops via Sweetapolita
So far this “spring” seems to be party-filled in our family — cakelet birthdays, little-cousin birthdays, a baby shower and more. And it seems that, for some reason, I’ve been feeling the need to add cheesecake pops to the mix for every party I attend. I love making them because no two batches of cheesecake pops look the same — you can flavour the cheesecake any way you like (I did these chocolate banana pops for a recent sock-monkey-themed party — so fun!) and pair it with any colour scheme and decorative flags for some festive flair. Essentially you can tailor-make every batch to any event, and, just like their cute-as-can-be cousin, the original cake pop, they seem to be a crowd-pleaser wherever they go. Who doesn’t love a pretty little cakey treat on a stick?

Cheesecake Party Pops via Sweetapolita

For this batch (which was a trial run of what I’ll bring to my cakelet’s upcoming Princess birthday party), I went with a classic cheesecake flavoured with Princess Cake & Cookie Bakery Emulsion and coated them in Wilton’s Pastel Colorburst Candy Melts (here’s a progress shot). The emulsion gives the cheesecake an elevated vanilla taste with a hint of citrus, and the cheesecake base is more rich than sweet, so the super-sweet candy coating is like a blanket of happy wrapped around the creamy cheesecake. Plus, they just look so darn cute!

Sweetapolita

Speaking of so darn cute, Neve was more concerned with putting them in their own paper candy liners than eating them, which is probably a good thing. Before inserting the lollipop sticks in the cheesecake pops, I made the little pink polka dotted flags by simply wrapping a piece of washi tape (paper crafting tape) around the tops, sticking the two sides together and snipping a little decorative “v” from each one. It’s definitely a quick and easy way to instantly turn any pop into a party.

Cheesecake Party Pops

If you find your cheesecake pops looking a little lumpy and bumpy after you coat them with the candy melts, you can dunk them a second time once they set (which happens super-fast), just as you did the first round. This gives them a smoother finish, but a thicker layer of the coating, so it’s personal preference. I did two “coats” on this batch, but I probably could’ve done with just the one. There’s just something about a bowl of melted confetti-filled vanilla candy coating that makes me want to dip everything in sight. I figured it was probably my safest approach to stick with the pops. (“Honey . . . have you seen the kids?” Whoops!)

Cheesecake Party Pops via Sweetapolita

Cheesecake Party Pops are rather addicting to make and eat — I usually make them ahead of time and keep them in the freezer (not airtight, as they tend to crack that way) until needed — they keep exceptionally well, and this way it leaves me time right before a party to make the cake (and they come in handy when you need to sneak a little sugar fix from the freezer). Wrapping them up as little party favours, or even sending with your cakelets to school for class parties, is a fun way to go!

Here’s the recipe:

Cheesecake Party Pops

Yield: Approximately 3 dozen pops

Rich, creamy cheesecake rolled into individual servings on sticks and coated with vanilla candy melts.

Ingredients

    For the Cheesecake:
  • 3 250-gram bars cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup (240 ml) sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) *Princess Cake & Cookie Bakery Emulsion
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup (45 g) all-purpose flour
  • For the Coating:
  • 3 283-gram bags of Wilton Colorburst Pastel Candy Melts
  • You will also need:
  • Waxed paper
  • 36 lollipop sticks (6-inch)
  • Washi tape (sticky paper tape aka crafting tape) of your choice for flags, optional

Instructions

    Bake the Cheesecake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of an 8 or 9-inch round springform pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add eggs gradually, beating well after each addition. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl, when necessary.
  3. Turn the mixer back on and add the sour cream, followed by the flavouring and salt. Sprinkle in the flour and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Use a rubber spatula to ensure the mixture is well combined, including the very bottom of the bowl.
  4. Pour the batter into prepared cake pan and bake on top of a baking sheet until the centre of cake is set (not jiggly) and top just begins to brown, about 40-45 minutes. Top of cake will crack.
  5. Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack, then chill covered loosely with plastic wrap, for at least 5 hours, or overnight if possible.
  6. Make the Pops:
  7. If making the flags for the pops, cut a piece of washi tape approximately 3-inches long and wrap around the top of the stick, making sure the edges line up before you press it down and adhere the two sides together. Use a sharp pair of scissors to snip a "v" shape from the end. Repeat with all of the sticks.
  8. Remove cheesecake from refrigerator and release outer ring of springform pan. Trim any top or edge crust off using a small, sharp knife. (Ideally there are no brown pieces anywhere on the cake.) Using a tablespoon or small stainless steel cookie scoop (35 mm/1 tablespoon capacity), spoon out 1 ball at a time from the cheesecake, rolling with your hands to create a uniform ball (you will likely have to wipe your hands with a clean, damp cloth after every few) like you would a meatball, and place on waxed-paper-lined baking sheet. Repeat until your baking sheet is full and continue with a second baking sheet until you have used up all of the cheesecake.
  9. Place 1/4 cup of the candy melts in a small microwave-safe bowl or ramekin and microwave until just melted (do not let them burn), about 20 seconds. Stir until smooth. Dip the end of each lollipop stick into the melted chocolate (about 1/2-inch) and insert straight down into the cheesecake ball about 2/3 of the way down. Repeat until you have a stick in every ball. Chill trays for at least 3 hours, or freeze for about 2 hours (but no longer -- you don't want them frozen).
  10. Once the cheesecake pops have been well-chilled and are firm to the touch, fill a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup (I use a 1-cup glass measuring cup) with candy melts and heat in microwave until melted. Begin with microwaving for 1 minute, stir, then pop back in microwave for 20 second intervals, stirring after each one. Be careful not to burn them.
  11. Remove one tray of the pops from the fridge/freezer and start dipping one at a time, dunking straight down then lifting straight up and out carefully. Holding the pop over the bowl, let excess coating drip back in. Place coated pop stick side up on a fresh piece of wax paper to set. Repeat until you have coated each one.

Notes

*If you can't get Princess Cake & Cookie Bakery Emulsion you can substitute it with 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon juice.

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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • I love using Princess Cake & Cookie Bakery Emulsion in place of vanilla for cheesecake (and oodles of other recipes! For my banana chocolate version I used the same cheesecake recipe, but replaced with Princess Bakery Emulsion with Banana Bakery Emulsion, coated the pops in dark chocolate melts and made little banana flags for the sticks.
  • You can also substitute the emulsion for pure vanilla extract and a tablespoon (15 ml) of lemon juice.
  • I use this 9-inch Springform Pan for the cheesecake.
  • You could use store-bought cheesecake, but just be sure to avoid the graham crust when rolling the balls.
  • I use this small Stainless Steel Scoop for making the actual cheesecake “balls.” 
  • I used Wilton Colorburst Candy Melts for these Cheesecake Party Pops and 6-inch Lollipop Sticks.
  • You can make the cheesecake up to two days in advance (keep refrigerated) and the cheesecake pops up to 2 weeks in advance and keep frozen. I recommend keeping them in large plastic resealable bags closed with the exception of a small opening (so they’re not airtight). Simply pull from freezer and pop into fridge until ready to use. You could also make up to 2 days ahead if you want to simply leave them in refrigerator.
  • For the party flags, I used pink polka dot washi tape folded over the top of each stick and snipped a “v” out of each one. I bought mine at Michael’s, but I have also seen this pink dotted pattern of tape on Etsy. So quick and easy!

Good luck & enjoy!

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Billie’s Italian Cream Cake from The Pioneer Woman + Giveaway {Winners Announced!}

The winners of the signed copies of The Pioneer Woman’s new cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier are:

#1082 Gretchen: “My favorite is German Chocolate Cake with Carmel Coconut Frosting.”

#246 Kate W.: “birthday cake!”

#895 Christine: “Any cake with a lot of delicious frosting!!”

Congratulations to the winners! You will be also be notified via email.

It was so much fun reading all of your favourite cakes–I even learned of a few that I’d never heard of before!

See you tomorrow morning with a new post and another exciting giveaway!

. . .

The Pioneer Woman Giveaway:

source: thepioneerwoman.com

Did I mention how excited I am that Ree’s (aka The Pioneer Woman) new cookbook The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier is finally released? Well, I sincerely am. And that she’s going to be sending a signed copy to 3 of my lucky readers? This means a lot to me because Ree and I go way back, even if she doesn’t know this. I discovered her back in 2008 when I innocently Googled “cinnamon rolls recipe.” I came across this post and that was that. I felt instantly connected with her, as though we were going to be friends. Forever. Not in like an SWF way, but just in your standard I-want-to-move-into-her-ranch-and-be-best-buds-for-life kind of way. I became an avid reader of her blog, and I can say that she is one of the reasons that I blog today. Come to think of it, before that serendipitous day, I didn’t even know what a blog was. So that’s what makes this recipe and giveaway the perfect theme for my 100th blog post!

So I’ve been whipping up recipes from her blog and her first book for several years now, and I can honestly tell you that any recipe I have ever made (and made and made) has been incredible and loved by all. I’m not sure if I’ve ever told you this, but I was never much of a cook before she came along. Gasp! Truthfully, I now enjoy cooking and trying new savoury recipes, but I just didn’t have a lot of experience with it, or much extra time (layer cake, anyone?). After discovering Ree and her simple-but-scrumptious recipes loaded with step-by-step photos and instructions, I fell in love with cooking, and I make the time. Thank goodness, because it turns out man cannot live on cake alone–particularly men who don’t like cake. (Hi honey!)

Several weeks ago I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of her new book (and signed with a sweet note, no less–thank you, Ree!). As is everything she does, it’s warm, humourous and filled with irresistible recipes, photos and glimpses into her life on the ranch. I have had a chance to try many of the recipes in the book, including Fig-Prosciutto Pizza (fancy & fabulous), Rigatoni & Meatballs (I was so proud of myself), Steakhouse Pizza (crowd-pleaser), Brie Stuffed Mushrooms (delightful), and more. But, as much as Ree can rock the savoury, she also rocks the sweet–sweets of all kinds, including cake. So when I was trying to decide which dessert to try from her new book, I knew instantly: Billie’s Italian Cream Cake. I’ve been dreaming about this cake since she shared it on her site a few years ago, and I knew it was meant to be. Ree explains that Billie is a friend from church, who brought this cake over one Fourth of July and shared the recipe with her, and trust me, if you haven’t made this recipe already,  you’ll soon thank Billie. And Ree. And me?

Billie's Italian Cream Cake via Sweetapolita

So, yep–I made it. I knew this was going to be amazing for a few reasons (and not just because Grant calls me “Billy” and is of Italian descent). First off, is it just me, or is every recipe that comes from church-going women or church cookbooks not the yummiest ever? And secondly, moist buttermilk cake layers sandwiched between and smothered in whipped coconutty, pecan cream cheese frosting? Nah, I’ll pass. As if! Maybe on opposite day, as Ree would say. This cake is homespun temptation at its best. (And everyone knows I have minimal ability to resist temptation of this magnitude.)

Billie's Italian Cream Cake via Sweetapolita
Yum x infinity.

So, if sharing such a delightful and decadent cake wasn’t enough, as I mentioned, Ree is going to personally sign and send 3 super lucky Sweetapolita readers a copy of her fabulous new book, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier!

Here are the details and how to enter (and this could not be easier, guys):

1. Leave a comment and tell me, “What’s your favourite cake?”

This giveaway is now closed. Winners will be posted here on the blog and notified by email. ♥

UPDATED 04/22: 2. Contest now ends April 22nd, 2012 at MIDNIGHT (EST) and winners will be selected using random.org and notified by email and announced here on the blog. You must leave a valid email address (will not be displayed) in your entry. *I’ve extended the entry deadline until midnight to offer more time for those who couldn’t get onto the site during the day today (Sunday).

3. One entry per person, please. *Your comment may take a few moments to appear.

4. Prizes courtesy of Ree, The Pioneer Woman.

Good luck!

And here’s this amazing recipe, shared with permission from Ree. I have included weight measurements along with a few notes from yours truly:

Billie’s Italian Cream Cake          {click to print}

 

 

 

 

from the book The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier
Ingredients

For the cake:

5 eggs, separated (then brought to room temperature)

1/2 cup (1 stick/114 g/4 oz) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup (237 mL) vegetable oil

1 cup (200 g/7 oz) granulated sugar

1 tablespoon (15 mL) pure vanilla extract

1 cup (100 g/3.5 oz) sweetened flaked coconut

2 cups (260 g/9 oz) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon (5 g) baking soda

1 teaspoon (5 g) baking powder

1 cup (237 mL) buttermilk (or 1 cup milk mixed with 1 teaspoon white vinegar), at room temperature

For the icing:

Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese

1/2 cup (1 stick/114 g/4 oz) unsalted butter, softened

2 teaspoons (10 mL) pure vanilla extract

2 pounds (1 kg) powdered sugar

1 cup (110 g/4 oz) chopped pecans

1 cup (100 g/3.5 oz) sweetened flaked coconut

Method

For the cake:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans (from Sweetapolita: I used three 8-inch round pans) or 2 quarter sheet pans, or one 9 x 12-inch pan.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until they’re stiff. Transfer them to another bowl, and then clean the mixing bowl and beater.

3. Combine the butter, vegetable oil, and granulated sugar in the mixing bowl and mix until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and beat until smooth.

4. Add the coconut and beat to combine.

5. Combine the flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a medium bowl, and then add to the mixer bowl, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix for a few seconds between each addition.

6. Add the stiff egg whites by gently folding into the mixture by hand until they’re incorporated.

7. Divide the batter among the pans and spread it out evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 15-18 minutes.

8. Let cool on wire rack for about 10 minutes in pans, and then turn out onto the wire rack to cool completely.

For the icing:

1. Combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and powdered sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer (can use whisk or paddle attachment) until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

2. Add 3/4 cup of the chopped pecans and all of the coconut and mix until combined.

Assembly

1. If using round cake layers, stack them onto desired cake plate or board with generous amount of filling between each layer. If using the quarter sheet pans, cut them in half lengthwise, resulting in 4 rectangular layers, and spread a generous amount of filling between each layer.

2. Cover the stacked cake with the remaining icing and top with remaining chopped pecans.

Store leftovers in the fridge.

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • I used three 8-inch round cake pans (rather than 9-inch) for a slightly thicker cake layer.
  • I added 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the batter and a pinch of salt to the icing.
  • This cake is amazing day 1, 2, and likely for several more. Keep covered and refrigerated and bring to room temperature if you’re serving leftovers. The oil in the cake keeps it super moist, even in the fridge. The cream cheese in the frosting is why it should be kept refrigerated.
  • This recipe is now in my top 5 best-loved cakes, so you can imagine how yummy it is!

Good luck & enjoy!

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Funfetti Layer Cake with Whipped Vanilla Frosting

Funfetti Cake via Sweetapolita

Hooray for funfetti! Do you remember Funfetti cake mix? Was it your favourite cake as a child? As a grown-up? Vanilla cake filled with little bits of rainbow sprinkle goodness is one of those treats that never gets boring–even the word, “funfetti,” is a party waiting to happen. As a blogger, I’m also a bit late to this party, as it seems there were so many fabulous variations of this cake (and so many other types of desserts) floating around the web last year, but since I am a huge fan of this cake, I couldn’t resist sharing it with you today. I made it again over the weekend as a welcome home surprise for my two little cakelets, Reese & Neve. They were away visiting Grant’s mom, “Nanny,'” for a few days, and I knew that they would do backflips to come home to funfetti cake (and to mommy & daddy, of course!).

So, as supercalifragilisticexpialidocious as “funfetti layer cake” sounds, looks and tastes, it couldn’t be any simpler to make. Okay, ready? You take your favourite vanilla cake and you add rainbow jimmies (you can also use the confetti quins) into the batter . . . oh, and then you bake it up. See, even if I tried to make it sound complicated, I couldn’t–it’s likely the most rewarding baked good you will ever make, considering it’s the most fun (ever!) and is so easy. Now, that being said, because we’re doing a scratch version of a famed cake-mix cake, I think it tastes the best to start with the whitest, fluffiest scratch cake possible, one that almost mimics a boxed cake.

So what I used this time was a modified version of the Fluffy Vanilla Cake that I posted awhile back. I have done this before using it as it was, which was also great, but this time I made just a few small changes: a bit more cake flour, a bit less sugar and a touch of almond extract (trust me, it doesn’t come out tasting almond-y, but just pure white cake yumminess), were some of the changes I made. For the frosting, I like to pair this cake with a sweeter frosting (likely due to childhood birthday cake memories), so I use my favourite variation, which is whipped and tastes like vanilla ice cream (for some inexplicable reason). Overall, it’s funfetti-tastic.

Funfetti Cake via Sweetapolita

Since this cake was for my little girls only (not a big crowd), I didn’t want to do anything too crazy, tall or complicated, but the possibilities are endless, really. 4-layer? 6-layer? Domed? I bet you can’t go wrong. As for the decorating sprinkles, you can go crazy sprinkle happy with any variation you love. I personally love confetti quins, so I used those for the top (and a sprinkling on top of the center filling frosting layer!), well, that and I used up all of my rainbow jimmies in the batter. I may or may not have made an earlier double batch of this batter over the weekend, in which I forgot to add the, um, sugar! So, my stash of rainbow jimmies was drastically depleted before I made this batch. Boo! But honestly, you can add any or every sprinkle you own as the final decoration for your cake, and I bet it would look amazing–sprinkles never disappoint.

Funfetti Cake via Sweetapolita

And, trust me, the funfetti doesn’t stop here. Check out these previous sprinkle treats from some of my baking friends around the web:

Naomi’s Funfetti Cheesecake Pops

Amanda’s Mini Funfetti Cupcakes

Heather’s Sprinkle Cake

Jessica’s Homemade Funfetti Cupcakes

Caroline’s Chocolate Covered Funfetti Cake Balls

Katrina’s Cake Batter Ice Cream Bread

Shelly’s Double Glazed Funfetti Donuts

Funfetti Layer Cake with Whipped Vanilla Frosting

Yield: One 2-layer, 8-inch round cake

Moist, fluffy vanilla confetti cake filled and topped with a sweet and creamy vanilla frosting and sprinkles.

Ingredients

    For the Cake:
  • 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk, at room temperature
  • 4 large egg whites (175 g), at room temperature
  • 1 whole egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) almond extract
  • 2-3/4 cups (315 g) cake flour, sifted
  • 1-1/2 cups (300 g) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (19.5 g) baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon (5 g) salt
  • 12 tablespoons (170 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup Rainbow Jimmies (or a few generous handfuls)
  • For the Frosting:
  • 3 sticks + 2 tablespoons (375 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 3.5 cups (400 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) milk
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt
  • rainbow jimmies, quins or other any other sprinkles for decorating

Instructions

    For the Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease, line with parchment, butter and flour two round 8-inch pans.
  2. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir the eggs, 1/4 cup of milk, vanilla and the almond extract. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients, including the sugar, together on low speed (I use the “stir” setting on my mixer) for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the butter and blend on low speed for about 30 seconds, then add remaining 3/4 cup of milk, and mix on low speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 1-1/2 minutes.
  5. Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg/milk mixture in 3 separate batches; beat on medium for 20 seconds after each addition. Gently stir in the rainbow jimmies, until just combined.
  6. Divide the batter in two, spreading it evenly with a small offset palette knife. If you have a kitchen scale, weigh the batter in the pans to ensure 2 even layers.
  7. Bake 25-35 minutes or until a cake tester comes clean when inserted into the center. Be so careful to not over-bake. Check cake at 20 minutes, but not before, and once you feel it’s almost ready, set the timer for 2 minute intervals.
  8. Let cool on racks for 10 minutes before loosening the sides with a small metal spatula, and invert onto greased wire racks. Gently turn cakes back up, so the tops are up and cool completely.
  9. For the Frosting:
  10. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium (I use “4″ on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale & creamy.
  11. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy and fluffy.
  12. Best used right away (for ideal spreading consistency).
  13. Assembly of the Funfetti Cake
  14. Place a small dollop of frosting in the center of a cake plate or 8-inch round thin cake board, and place the bottom cake layer on top.
  15. Place 1 cup of frosting on top of the cake layer, and spread evenly with a small offset palette knife. Sprinkle a handful of sprinkles (jimmies, quins--anything!) on top of the frosting (optional).
  16. Gently place 2nd cake layer face-down on top. Place a generous scoop of frosting on top, spreading evenly with a small offset palette knife and working your way down the sides until you have a thin layer of frosting over the entire cake. Chill until set, about 30 minutes.
  17. Remove from refrigerator and cover cake with a final layer of frosting. Sprinkle until your heart's content!

Notes

Wrap baked cake layers tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days, refrigerator for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 2 months. Best eaten the same day as baked.

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[cake layers adapted from Classic White Cake recipe on Baking Bites and Rose Levy Beranbaum’s White Velvet Cake]

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • If you do not have access to cake flour, you can quickly and easily make your own to substitute. Learn how in this previous post, Bring Me Flours.
  • This unconventional method of blending the butter with the sugar and dry ingredients first is called the “reverse creaming method,” and was pioneered by cake guru, Rose Levy Beranbaum.
  • As with any vanilla cake, you can use 100% liquid egg whites in the cake layers (simply weigh them on your kitchen scale), which saves wasting the yolks.
  • For the funfetti sprinkles inside the cake, you can experiment, but I recommend the Rainbow Jimmies or the Confetti Quins that you see on top of my cake.
  • For a 4-layer Funfetti Cake, you could simply slice each of your two cake layers in 2, or for a 3-layer cake, simply divide the batter among 3 round 8″ cake pans (the layers will be shorter, but you will have 3!).
  • The cake base for this Funfetti version is a slightly adapted version of the Fluffy Vanilla Cake, so for the ultimate vanilla cake, you can simply omit the sprinkles in the cake layers.
  • This batter makes fabulous cupcakes.
  • The frosting tastes like vanilla ice cream–you’ll see!
  • You may enjoy reading my previous post, 50 Tips for Baking Better Cakes.

Good luck & enjoy!

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A Sweet Guide to Frosting

A Sweet Guide to Frosting via Sweetapolita

1. rolled fondant 2. whipped cream frosting 3. ganache 4. sugary frosting 5. chocolate glaze 6. gumpaste (flower) 7. chocolate party frosting 8. swiss meringue buttercream 9. royal icing 

Frosting? Icing? Tom-aa-to, tom-ah-to? Well, that depends. It depends on where are you live, and maybe even what the confection is made from. In some parts of the globe, people simply prefer to call all versions “icing” and leave out the termfrostingall-together. In Canada, we tend to use the word “icing” much more frequently than “frosting,” regardless of the dessert in question. Confused yet?

That being said, I often relate icing to thinner glazes and royal icing, and think of frosting as the fluffy, sugary sort. I reserve the word “buttercream” for meringue-based buttercreams. I have noticed that Americans tend to favour the term “frosting” as a catch-all. All sorts of craziness indeed. According to some dictionaries, the words are synonymous, so I think I’ll just go with that. It is a bit of a gray area, but some baker folks are passionate about the fact that icing is one thing and frosting is, well, another . . .

And then just when you get that straightened out, there are countless varieties of the sweet and creamy bliss: meringue buttercream, sugary frosting, ganache, royal icing, fondant, gumpaste, chocolate frosting, chocolate glaze, whipped cream frosting and more. Most often, the questions readers ask me are about frosting — what’s the difference between them, when to use each, etc. So, to answer those questions I’ve put together a little guide to frosting. It’s certainly not a comprehensive list, but it’s a guide to those I use most often, and the ones you’ll come across throughout my recipes.

So, here we go!

1. Rolled Fondant

  • Some say “FOND-ent” and some say “fond-AHNT.” Both are accepted as correct, and you know I’ll love you no matter what, but can we all (please) unite and say “FOND-ent?” Also known, in some cases (such as in UK) as “sugarpaste.”
  • Made from icing sugar, corn syrup, oil and flavourings (and several other binding ingredients).
  • Can be purchased or made from scratch (many cake designers choose to buy it pre-made). My favourite brand is Satin Ice because it is so, well, satiny, tastes like a sugary dense marshmallow and melts in your mouth. It also dries with a firm porcelain finish (more so than other brands, I find).
  • Feels and behaves like a dense play-dough. Pure white in colour — takes beautifully to gel paste colours (kneaded in). Also sold in chocolate (delish!) and vanilla that’s been pre-coloured.
  • Rolls out like pie dough to cover cakes with an icing that dries with a smooth, hard finish. It can be left smooth and dry for a modern look, or can be impressed or embossed while still soft. Once completely dry, it can be decorated by piping royal icing, painting with non-toxic colour powders mixed with vodka (in photo above), colouring with non-toxic markers (remember the rainbow doodle cake?), along with countless other methods of decorating.
  • Most common uses: covering buttercream cakes and fancy cookies for a smooth finish, modeling cake decorations. Cake decorations made with fondant will always be softer than those made with gumpaste (below).
  • Challenges: dries out quickly once exposed to air, which means you must work swiftly. Can tear easily once rolled, which does make covering a cake in fondant a time-sensitive task. “Sweats” when in a humid environment (but will dry back out once humidity is gone), softens in heat and direct sunlight.
  • Can add tiny amounts of water to dried fondant to adhere other fondant decorations, strips, etc. Wet fondant will dissolve into an instant “glue.”
  • Pipe-a-bility: none
  • To strengthen small amounts of fondant for special decorations you’d like to strengthen (and still have taste good), you can knead a sprinkle of Tylose powder into your fondant. It will become something between fondant and gumpaste.
  • To know how much fondant to use for each cake size/shape, you can refer to this chart.
  • Keeps at room temperature, wrapped in plastic then sealed in airtight container, for about a year.
  • You can see more of the fondant-covered cake in the above image in this post.

 2. Whipped Cream Frosting 

  • Made from whipping cream, sugar and vanilla.  Light, airy, not-so-sweet, cloud-like.
  • Best used for frosting and filling vanilla cake, berry desserts and cupcakes.
  • Simple and quick to make (simple whipping is all it takes).
  • Challenges: needs to be refrigerated after a few hours and is best made at the last moment
  • Pipe-a-bility: can be piped on cupcakes with a pastry bag and large plain round tip, but not ideal for most piping styles.
  • You can see the Whipped Vanilla Dream Cupcakes in this post.

3. Ganache

  • Pronounced guh-nahsh.
  • Made by whisking chopped solid chocolate covered by warm heavy cream (36-40% fat content). In Canada, it’s more common to find whipping cream (35%), which is what I use.
  • It’s best to use quality chocolate: bittersweet (extra dark), semisweet (dark), milk or white and .  Liqueurs, extracts and other flavourings can be added for countless varieties.
  • Ganache can be made into many different consistencies — thicker (more chocolate, less cream) for spreading over candy, tarts and more; thinner (more cream, less chocolate) for pouring over cakes, desserts, etc., and every consistency in between. Altering the temperature can also change the consistency for use — the cooler the ganache, the thicker it will be. Once heated, it will be smooth and pourable once again. Room temperature ganache can be whisked (beat) for a moment or two to create a whipped version ideal for frosting and filling a cake.
  • Thick ganache can be rolled into balls and coated in cocoa powder for homemade truffles.
  • Can be stored, covered, in refrigerator for several days and reheated slowly for use.
  • You can see the Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Tart from the above image in this post.

4. Sugary Frosting

  • Also known as “american buttercream,” “icing,” “cupcake frosting,” and more. 
  • Typically made from butter, icing sugar, vanilla and milk. In grocery shops and some bakeries it will often be made from shortening. The frosting most of us think of when we remember our childhood birthday cakes.
  • Taste: creamy, rich and super-sweet. Can add flavourings, citrus zest, infused milks, vanilla bean, melted and cooled white chocolate, and more.
  • Best used for cupcakes and layer cakes.
  • Simple to make (beating of all ingredients in one bowl). Keeps at room temperature for several days.
  • Pipe-a-bility: will hold its shape when piped, but not as stable as meringue-based buttercreams.
  • Takes well to colour, but has buttery tone (unless you use shortening in place of butter), causing some challenges when attempting certain colours, such as cool blue (will have teal appearance) and pink (can have a peach appearance).
  • You can see the Pastel Swirl Cake shown in the above collage in this post.

5. Chocolate Glaze

  • Made my melting chopped chocolate and butter together (sometimes corn syrup).
  • Similar to ganache in its deep, dark, glossy appearance, but has no cream, therefore less rich.
  • Satiny, shiny and thin when warm, then thickens when cool.
  • Best used for pouring over cupcakes (frosted or not), cakes, donuts, etc.
  • Pipe-a-bility: none.
  • Can be stored, covered, in refrigerator for several days and warmed when needed.
  • You can find the Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Buttercream Cupcakes shown in the collage in this post.

6. Gumpaste

  • Similar to fondant, gumpaste is a soft, knead-able “dough” for creating cake decorations. You would not, however, cover a cake, cupcake or cookie with gumpaste, as it dries rock-hard and really has no taste at all. 
  • Can be rolled out extremely thin (paper-thin), even thinner than fondant. Once rolled thin, it can be ruffled (as in photo), pleated, etc. Doesn’t tear while working with it, the way fondant does. Soft gumpaste will start to harden immediately when exposed to air, so I always work with small quantities, keeping a small sealed plastic bag nearby to place the bits I’m not using.
  • When dry, it has a porcelain feel and look ideal for creating sugar flowers, highly-detailed decorations, figurines, etc.
  • Typically it’s used in much smaller quantities, as it’s not something you would eat. Most gumpaste decorations are pulled off a cake and set aside before eating.
  • You can make it or buy it premade. I used to make it, but now prefer to buy the Satin Ice Gumpaste, as I find it dries the most porcelain-like than my homemade variety.
  • Takes well to gel paste colour. Can be painted or dusted with dry petal dust or shimmer powder once dry.
  • Pipe-a-bility: none.
  • If kept airtight and wrapped in a sealed bucket, it will last many, many months.

 7. Chocolate Frosting

  • Chocolate version of sugary frosting
  • Typically made from butter, icing sugar, melted dark or extra dark chocolate, vanilla and milk. In grocery shops and some bakeries it will often be made from shortening. The frosting is, again, what most of us think of when we remember our childhood birthday cakes.
  • Simple to make (beating of all ingredients in one bowl). Glossy appearance.
  • Taste: creamy, rich, chocolaty and sweet. Can add malt powder, liqueurs, extracts and more.
  • Best used for cupcakes and layer cakes.
  • Pipe-a-bility: will hold its shape when piped, but not as stable as meringue-based buttercreams.
  • Best used right away for ideal consistency while frosting, but then lasts on cake for several days at room temperature.
  • You can find the Chocolate Birthday Cake shown in the above collage in this post.

8. Meringue Buttercream 

  • Swiss Meringue Buttercream (aka SMB and SMBC) and Italian Meringue Buttercream (aka IMB and IMBC) are most popular variations. Both variations are the sophisticated cousin, of sorts, to the sweet and simple sugary frosting. Baking purists might say that meringue-based buttercream is the only actual “buttercream.” 
  • Made from granulated sugar, egg whites, butter, vanilla and salt (with countless options for variations). Both are a bit time-consuming, but fairy simple to make. The process involves beating cool-but-softened unsalted butter chunks into stiff-peak meringue, followed by adding flavourings. They are almost identical in taste and texture, and simply differ by way in which the meringue is made before adding the butter.
  • The result is very rich, buttery, creamy and not too sweet.
  • The most versatile frosting you can make — once your base is made, you can flavour it with everything from melted chocolate to lemon curd.
  • Used for filling and frosting cakes of all kinds, coating cakes to be covered in marzipan or rolled fondant, frosting cupcakes, filling baked meringues, and more. In most cases, this is the buttercream that you will see on a wedding or event cake that isn’t covered in fondant.
  • Meringue-based buttercreams are the most stable frosting you can use for a cake that will be outside in the heat, although it will melt in direct sunlight and severe heat.
  • Pipe-a-bility: excellent. Keeps shape the best of all frostings, and will hold up to ruffles, swirls, and more.
  • Takes well to colour, but has buttery tone, causing some challenges when attempting certain colours, such as baby blue (will have teal appearance) and pink (can have a peach appearance). I have also found that it does not take well to Wilton brand colours (the colour seems to become speckled). It seems Sugarflair and AmeriColor brands work best in every scenario. Because the buttercream is so rich and buttery, I also find it’s very difficult to get deep, dark pigmented colours.
  • Can be frozen (a month) or refrigerated (a week) in an airtight container, then brought to room temperature before re-whipping.
  • You can find the Lemon-Blueberry Macaron Delight Cake featured in the above collage in this post.

9. Royal Icing

  • Typically made from meringue powder/egg whites, icing sugar, cream of tartar and water.
  • A one-bowl icing that is a simple mixture of all of the ingredients slowly incorporated in a mixer on low speed for 10-12 minutes.
  • The result is glossy and very sweet.
  • Can alter thickness from super-thick to thin and runny by adding water, depending on what it’s being used for.
  • Most often used for decorating cookies, gingerbread houses, covering cupcakes (fairy cakes) and as a glue for adhering sugar decorations to cakes, cookies, gingerbread houses, and more.
  • Pipe-a-bility: thicker royal icing (not as much water) pipes beautifully, and it what is used on wedding cakes and fancy cakes for piped patterns, swags, flowers, and more. It dries very hard.
  • Can be kept at room temperature for a day, but must always be covered, or it will get crusty. Can refrigerate by covering bowl with a damp cloth with a dinner plate on top, for up to 2 days.
  • You can find the Marzipan-Filled Easter Cookies shown in the collage in this post.

So friends, I hope that helps in some way. If I’ve not answered some of your frosting-related questions, feel free to leave them in the comment section of this post, and I’ll do my best to answer them!

I’ll be back in a few days with another recipe. ♥

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Jumbo Gingerbread Folk

Jumbo Gingerbread Folk via Sweetapolita

Gingerbread, in any form, makes me genuinely happy. And nostalgic. And as much as I get tempted to create weird and wonderful gingerbread confections, in my heart I feel compelled to embrace the utmost in tradition and go with the classic holiday cookie: the gingerbread man . . . or woman. Heck, let us just call them gingerbread folk. Timeless, tasty and so darn cute.

What I love about vintage gingerbread folk is that they are actually sort of girly and boyish all at once. My inspiration for these cookies (not that the holidays alone aren’t enough gingerbread inspiration) came from this adorable little guy whom I spotted on Pinterest awhile back (originally from here). I just can’t get enough of him. So my cakelets and I created some classic gingerbread folk, but rather than create a whole village of small ones, we decided to do something different and create a jumbo version . . .

Jumbo Gingerbread Folk via Sweetapolita

Cakelet approved! As I sat down to source a jumbo cutter, I remember when we created the Little Hands Sugar Cookies last year, we simply made a template out of cardstock and then I cut the dough using an x-acto-style knife. It worked so well, that I figured we could do the same with the mega gingerbread man. (That being said, you could do that with any shape you like.) So we made ours about 8″ x 11″, which was perfect for printing the template straight from the computer.

Jumbo Gingerbread Folk via Sweetapolita

The dough itself is my go-to gingerbread recipe, and dare I call this my Perfect Gingerbread Cookie recipe. It’s spicy, dark and rolls like a dream. It bakes up with a slight crisp around the edge, but the remainder of the cookie is semi-soft. (If you over-bake they will be dry and crispy). I use cooking molasses, which is a very robust molasses (not as robust as blackstrap, but a mix of fancy and blackstrap). It also makes for handsomely dark gingerbread men, but if you’re not into strong molasses flavour, you can always use any molasses you like. I should mention that, I’ve tried many-a-gingerbread-dough, and this recipe is a hybrid of what I liked about each one. If you chill, chill, chill the cookies will keep their shape nicely, but (unlike sugar cookies) they will expand a tad.

With a quick snip of the shape from the cardstock, you can then cut around the template, pop it onto your baking sheet (1 per sheet in this case), chill and bake. Since they’re so big (the recipe makes 7 total), hand-cutting isn’t really that tedious. I’ve included the template I used, but honestly you could even draw your own if you prefer a slightly different shape. You can even have your kids draw their own and you can cut out and bake their own version. Either way, this is such a fun project for kids (big and small).

Our cakelets loved this and it kept them busy for the longest time (yes!). I used two resealable plastic bags for royal icing then filled some cupcake liners with an array of chocolate chips, dragees, sprinkles, candy canes, jelly dots, and more and let them do their thing.

Before they started, I printed a bunch of the templates for the girls to colour, just for fun and to possibly design their cookies. Reese opted for a super-classic and conservative design, and followed her paper design to a tee.

Neve opted to ditch the design and went balls-to-the-wall topping-happy with her cookie. We all had a giggle about this, and thought –with all of that candy piled on there–her cookie won the prize for the most delightful and delicious looking. ♥

Happy Jumbo Gingerbread Folk!

Just when I thought our cookies were jumbo, I came across this cutter decoration last night while at my local HomeSense. I almost died. My heart literally skipped a beat! That would have been the best $49.99, I’d ever spent. Sadly it would never fit in my car.

Jumbo Gingerbread Folk via Sweetapolita

For now, we’ll stick with the not-as-jumbo version. I kept my decorations pretty simple: royal icing swirls/eyes/mouths, jelly dot buttons and cheeks and candy heart noses. ♥

The Perfect Gingerbread Cookie

Yield: 7 jumbo gingerbread folk (8" x 11")

A dark, robust and spicy gingerbread cookie with a slightly crispy edge and semi-soft center. This cookie dough rolls like a dream and is ideal for cutting gingerbread folk, or any other desired shape.

Ingredients

  • 7 cups (910 g) all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons (12 g) cinnamon
  • 4 teaspoons (12 g) ground ginger
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons (11 g) salt
  • 1 teaspoon (6 g) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (3 g) ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup (227 g)(2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (235 g) packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • 1-1/2 cups (355 ml) cooking molasses*
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. In large bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, ginger, salt, baking soda, cloves and nutmeg. Set aside.
  2. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy and pale, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and 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 1 minute. 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. Remove 1/2 of dough from bowl, make a ball, and place on a large piece of plastic wrap on counter.Wrap the sides of wrap over the ball, then press down with the palm of your hand and make a disc about 2" thick. Finish wrapping the disc with the plastic wrap. Repeat with 2nd half of dough. Chill both 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. Preheat your oven to 350° F. 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. Remove from fridge, and cut your shapes using the cutters or template of choice, placing them on a baker's half sheet lined with a silicone baking mat (or parchment), with 2" clearance around each one and the edge of sheet. Place sheet with cookies into freezer for 15 minutes before baking. Bake for 7 minutes, tap tray on counter, and return to oven, rotating tray. Bake until edges just start to brown, about 6 more minutes. Be careful not to over-bake, or cookies will be dry.
  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.

Notes

*Use cooking molasses for a more dark and robust gingerbread cookie, or if you prefer a lighter tasting gingerbread, use fancy/unsulphured molasses.

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Royal Icing

Ingredients

  • 3-3/4 cups (454 g) confectioners' sugar
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons (20 g) meringue powder
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon (90 ml) water, plus more for thinning
  • Flavouring/extract to taste (nothing oil-based) such as, almond extract, rosewater, vanilla extract (clear if you want the icing to remain very white), etc. optional

Instructions

  1. Use a paper towel to wipe the bowl of an electric mixer and a rubber spatula with a few drops of lemon juice. Add all of the ingredients into the bowl and fit the mixer with the paddle attachment.
  2. Mix ingredients on low-speed for 12 minutes.
  3. Add very small increments (1 teaspoon at a time) of water until desired piping consistency is achieved.
  4. Keep royal icing covered with plastic wrap at all times. Can be stored covered with a damp cloth and plate (same diameter as top of bowl) on top in bowl in refrigerator for up to 3 days.
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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • Here’s the Jumbo Gingerbread Man template. Simply print this onto standard 8.5″ x 11″ thick white paper (I used a basic card-stock) and then cut around the outline. This is also a great template to print for kids to colour. I found this template on a teacher’s resource site, where you can find countless other ideas.
  • Removing the large cookies from the baking sheet can be tricky, so I use this (and for all of my cakes): Wilton Cake and Cookie Lifter.
  • For tips and photos on rolling dough, you can check out a past post, Steps to Making the Perfect Sugar Cookie {and Cookie Pop}.
  • For piping the eyes, mouth and swirls, I used royal icing in a small piping bag fitted with a plain round #3 tip.
  • I secured the jelly dots and hearts with a dab of royal icing.

Good luck & enjoy!

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Little Hands Sugar Cookies & Cards

Little Hands Sugar Cookies via Sweetapolita

Were you starting to wonder if I’ve been baking lately? Since my last few two posts were a little more about me, myself and I, and not exactly recipe-filled, you might be wondering what the heck I’ve been up to in this kitchen of mine. I’m here, I promise. The holiday season has definitely sprung, and I’m a little stressed–I won’t lie. It’s all that good, you know, hustle and bustle holiday-type stress, but sometimes (and by “sometimes” you know I mean “always”) I take on just a little too much. Do you ever do that? Always? So because of that little tendency of mine, I decided to choose a few special baking projects this year, rather than crank out endless varieties, although, technically, there is still time for that . . . kidding. Sort of. For the last two years, I’ve had this “hand cookie”  idea bookmarked in the 2009 Martha Stewart Holiday magazine, and this year I knew I couldn’t resist making them.

My girls, ages 2 and 4, have embraced their creative sides, and so I thought this would be a great way to tie that into the holidays. When Reese wakes up, she literally runs for the crayons, markers and paper and immediately starts to create, and as soon as she’s aware of the holiday season, all she wants to do is make Christmas Cards. For everyone, literally. The mailman, the cat, every neighbour for miles and more. Don’t be surprised if you get one too — this girl can seriously create, and fast. She reminds me so much of the me when I was a little girl (memories of my tireless childhood rug-hooking fascination come to mind), and I love that she’s so enthusiastic. Neve does too, but because she’s just 2, she enjoys it for a few moments and then moves onto something else.

That’s actually why this project worked so well, because there was a little bit of baking, a bit of colouring and more. To create the template for their hands, I traced their hands onto cardstock and cut them out–so simple, yet the girls thought this was so fun. For some reason, I had it in my head that this would be a really crazy super time-consuming project, but, actually, with such a simple decorating approach, it was probably the quickest sugar cookie project I’ve ever done. Perfect!

Sweetapolita

We did these over the course of a few days (which seems to be the best way to approach this type of thing with 2 small kids, I’m finding), and the day the photos took place, Reese was at school, but Neve was ready to ham it up, as always. Since we just put up Christmas Tree, started listening to holiday music and were holiday baking and crafting, we were suddenly immersed in holiday-ness. Funny how that can give us all the boost we need sometimes–young or old. It’s been kind of grey around here for the past few weeks, in typical Canadian winter fashion, I suppose, but, this cookie project lifted us all quite a bit. That and decorating (and redecorating) the tree. The girls have rearranged it so many times, but I think they’ve got it just “so” now.

Sweetapolita

After around the 1,330, 330th time “telling” the girls to “stop touching the balls (ahem)!” I lauged out loud and then let it go. Crash! Bang! Crash! And . . . it’s offically Christmas. This is all new to Neve, since last year she was only 1 and likely has no recollection of Christmas, so I just don’t have the heart to keep her away from the tree. It just wouldn’t be Christmas around here without a little bit of heartwarming chaos (with a hint of just plain chaos, of course).

Little Hands Sugar Cookies via Sweetapolita

I love that the hands don’t expand when baked (which is why it’s so important to follow the prebaking chilling steps), since puffed up, oversized baby hand cookies may be a little weird. I compared the template to the baked cookie, and it was almost exact. Yay! We decided that we’d go ahead and package up each cookie, complete with name cards and handmade Christmas greetings and that we’ll give them to family, Reese’s teacher, etc. I gave the girls a stack of 6″ squares of white cardstock and a box of markers and told them to create-away. I also gave them some 6″ strips of cardstock for their names, which I left Reese in charge of writing both (soon enough Neve will be able to write her own, I’m sure!).

Sentiment aside, this is my favourite sugar cookie recipe (as you probably remember in this previous post), as they are so scrumptious and traditional. Because they are so crisp, buttery and classic, I personally love eating them this way, with no icing. Next time I make these, or any other unfrosted variation, I will likely add some vanilla bean to add to the already lovely and old-fashioned taste, but if you use a good quality pure vanilla extract, that alone does give it a beautiful flavour. It’s just never a bad idea to add vanilla bean, right?

Little Hands Sugar Cookies via Sweetapolita

I’ll be back soon to share some holiday cakes that I’m really excited about making, and more. Until then, Happy Holiday Baking!

Little Hands Sugar Cookies

Yield: Apprx 30 medium-small cookies, depending on shapes/size

Ingredients

  • 6 cups (750 g) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon (8 g) salt
  • 2 cups (454 g) unsalted butter, softened for about 20 minutes at room temperature
  • 2 cups (400 g) sugar
  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) pure lemon extract

Instructions

  1. In large bowl, sift together flour and salt. Set aside.
  2. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until fluffy and pale, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs.
  3. Add flour mixture and mix on low speed until thoroughly combined. Add vanilla and lemon extract and blend.
  4. Remove 1/2 of dough from bowl, make a ball, and place on a large piece of plastic wrap on counter.Wrap the sides of wrap over the ball, then press down with the palm of your hand and make a disc about 2" thick. Finish wrapping the disc with the plastic wrap. Repeat with 2nd half of dough. Chill both discs of dough for about 45 minutes.
  5. Remove one disc and remove plastic wrap. Place on top of a large piece of parchment 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. Preheat your oven to 350° F. Slide your parchment paper and dough onto a board, then place in refrigerator for about 15 minutes.
  8. Remove from fridge, and cut your shapes using the cutters of your choice, placing them on a baker's half sheet lined with a silicone baking mat (or parchment), with 2" clearance around each one and the edge of sheet. Place sheet with cookies into freezer for 15 minutes before baking. Bake 12-14 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.
  9. Cool sheets on wire racks for 10 minutes, then gently remove cookies and place on wire racks to finish cooling.

Notes

*If you follow the pre-baking chilling steps, you will find that your baked cookies end up the same size as your hand template, with no expansion (that could be kind of weird).

**May be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. They also freeze well.

***Package as desired.

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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

1. For packaging, I used a 6″ wide x 9″ crystal clear bag and cut a 6″ square piece of patterned scrapbooking paper and 6″ square piece of wax paper (regular wax paper) overlay to place on top. I highly recommend using the wax paper overlay, otherwise the cookie will leave buttery marks on your pretty paper.

2. I cut additional 6″ squares of white cardstock so the girls could write Christmas Card messages and then I slid them into the bag, facing out (the back of the bag) then cut small white strips for their names to slide into the front of the bag. In our case, with two little girls I wanted the recipients to be able to easily identify each girl’s cookie, but if you’re using only one “little hand,” you could skip this step.

3. To seal bag, I folded the excess bag over the front and then, using a single hole punch, created 2 holes a few inches apart (see photo), then tied with ribbon (I used a Celadon colour).

Good luck & enjoy!

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Press

In Print

Romantic Homes November 2012

Cake Central Magazine Volume 2 — Issue 2 {Web Browsing Spotlight}

Wedding Bells Spring/Summer 2012 {French Country Cake & Candy Cakes}

Wedding Bells Fall/Winter 2011 {Glitter Wedding Cakes}

Reader’s Digest September 2011 {Asparagus Cake Feature}

The Globe & Mail {Style Section} October 8th, 2011

 

Around the Web

Martha Stewart Living: 2012’s Best Christmas Cookies

Disney Baby: The Best Rainbow-Sprinkle Cakes and Treats

People.com: 14 Cheery (and Yummy!) Cupcakes for the Holiday

Good Morning America Yahoo: 16 Holiday Desserts That Are Almost Too Cute to Eat

People.com: Kids Birthday Cake Ideas

The Huffington Post: Boozy Ice Cream Floats

Celebuzz: Highway to Heaven Cupcake

Heidi Klum: 50 Fabulous Cupcakes

Fox News: 15 Cakes You Would Never Know Are Cakes

oh joy!: the love behind cakes 

Sheer Luxe: Blogger to Follow

M.I.S.S.: Women Making History

Snippet & Ink: Kathryn Loves Sweetapolita

HGTV Blog: Crushing on Coral

HGTV Blog: Pink Champagne Cake Pops

Cake Spy: Chocolate Sprinkled Party Spoons

BBC Food–Cake Wall of Fame

Foodista: Asparagus Cake

Amy Atlas {Sweet Designs Blog}

The Kitchn {Apartment Therapy}: Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Buttercream Cake w/ Ganache Drizze

The Kitchn {Apartment Therapy}: Rainbow Doodle Cake

The Kitchen {Apartment Therapy}: Neapolitan 5-Layer Birthday Cake with Strawberry Frosting

Craft Gossip: Asparagus Cake Tutorial

Cupcakes Take the Cake: Pink Champagne Cake Pops

ParentMap.com {20 Creative Birthday Cakes & Treats for Kids}

Ruche

Foodista: Hawaiian Carrot Cake with Coconut Icing

Cupcakes Take the Cake: Bakery-Style Vanilla Cupcakes

Camille Styles

This is Glamorous

ohdeedoh: Rainbow Doodle Cake

Cupcakes Take the Cake: Campfire Delight Cupcakes

Hip Hip Hooray!

{KID} independent: Rainbow Doodle Cake

Marie Claire Idees {Classic Vanilla Butter Cake}

Maire Claire Idees {Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Buttercream Cake w/ Ganache Drizzle}

Gizmodo

Cake Wrecks–Sunday Sweets (in a good way, I promise!)

Finalist in The Pioneer Woman’s “Food Photo” Contest

Cupcakes Take the Cake: Marzipan & Pear Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream

Somewhere Splendid {A Picture Perfect Tea Party}

Somewhere Spendid {various Partying Pretty features}

Sugar Loco: Loco for Pink!

Wedding Bells Magazine Blog: Peppermint Twist Wedding Cake

Wedding Bells Magazine Blog: Ruffles & Roses

Wedding Bells Magazine Blog: Lemon Blueberry Cake & Neapolitan Cake

Neatorama

At Home with Kim Vallee

Sweetapolita on Tastespotting

Sweetapolita on Foodgawker

Pizzazzerie: Sweetapolita Interview

Kate Landers Events: Sweetapolita Interview

Icing Designs: Sweetapolita Interview

 

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Little Pea Sugar Cookie Pops and a Virtual Baby Shower

Little Pea Cookies via Sweetapolita

Happy Wednesday to you! Today’s post is a special one because not only are we going to celebrate the insane cuteness of little pea cookies, but it’s a surprise virtual baby shower for the adorable and talented Maria & Josh from the popular blog Two Peas and Their Pod. Surprise! Did you know you’d be attending a baby shower today?

Maria and her husband Josh are expecting their little pea in a few weeks (a baby boy!), so a group of fellow food blogger friends and I are celebrating by sharing baby shower drinks, savories, sweets, and crafts through our blogs today.

I connected with Maria many months ago via twitter, and she simply has a way of spreading sunshine with everything she does and says. I love their blog because there is such a warmth and down-to-earth’ness to it all, and their recipes are always wonderfully comforting, approachable, and, I’m certain, delicious. Maria is one of those people who supports those around her with such sincerity and loyalty, and I love seeing her sweet comments on my blog. I wish I lived closer to them, so I could share these cookies in person, but even still they were made (and eaten) in honour of their little baby pea!

Little Pea Cookies via Sweetapolita

As soon as fellow bloggers Marla & Lisa let me know about this virtual baby shower they were coordinating for Maria and Josh, I knew I had to create these Little Pea Sugar Cookie Pops. See, one of our favourite children’s books at our house is Little Pea (a charming book about an adorable little pea who had to obey his parents’ rules about eating all of the dreaded candy off his plate for dinner to then enjoy the reward of much-loved spinach for dessert), and although I went for a different look for the pea faces, it was because of this book that I’ve always wanted to create pea cookies!

I’m so happy that I was able to create them for some of the sweetest “peas and their pod + 1,” in celebration of their soon-to-be-born baby pea. They are +1, not +2, but for a few of these cookies I couldn’t help but sneak an extra pea on top. I’m crazy like that.

Little Pea Cookies via Sweetapolita

By using nested cookie cutters, I had so many sizes to choose from, that I tried several different configurations: mama & papa pea, mama, papa, and baby pea, and then, just for fun, family-of-four pea cookies! Okay, truly, I never thought I’d ever use the word “pea” so many times, but alas, it makes me smile and, well, just makes me hap-pea. Okay, I’ll stop.

If you too felt inspired to make little pea cookies, you don’t have to make them cookie pops, and they would be just as adorable. Wrapped in a crystal clear cellophane bag and tied with ribbon would make an adorable baby shower favour, in my opinion. Even a Little Pea baby birthday party would be so adorable!

Little Pea Sugar Cookies via Sweetapolita

Sweet peas.

Little Pea Cookies via Sweetapolita

Yum!

Best wishes to Maria, Josh, and their little pea!

For even more baby shower festivities (drinks, savories, sweets, and crafts!), please pop by these incredible blogs to see what they’ve whipped up:

Virtual Baby Shower for Two Peas & Their Pod

Drinks

Simple Bites – Lemon Balm infused Lemonade

Ingredients, Inc. – Healthy Fruit Punch

Food for My Family – Lemongrass Soda

Heather’s Dish – Mixed Fruit Punch

She Wears Many Hats – Mini Pistachio Smoothies

Georgia Pelligrini – Watermelon Agua Fresca

Appetizers/Savory Bites

With Style and Grace – Truffle Popcorn

Family Fresh Cooking – Baby Peas & Cheese Frittata

Barbara Bakes – Creamy Orange Fruit Dip and Fruit

Aggie’s Kitchen – Pasta Salad with Balsamic Basil Vinaigrette

Reluctant Entertainer – Nutella Berry Bruschetta

Dessert

Dorie Greenspan – French Lemon Cream Tart

TidyMom – Blue and Chocolate Cake Balls

i am baker – Baby Pea Baby Shower Cake

Brown Eyed Baker – Pavlova

Picky Palate – Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Sandwich

What’s Gaby Cooking – Coconut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

Cookin’ Canuck – Nutella & Cream Cheese Swirled Blondies

Kevin and Amanda – Baby Blue Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Cups

Sweetopia – Decorated Sugar Cookies

Mountain Mama Cooks – Lavender Shortbread Cookies

Bake at 350 – Petit Fours with fondant pea pods

RecipeGirl – Baby Button Cookies

RecipeBoy – Mud Cups with Gummy Worms

Add a Pinch – Blackberry Tartlets

Dine and Dish – Oven Baked Cinnamon Apples

Crafts

Wenderly – Handmade Sweet Pea Cards

Our Best Bites – How To: Make a Diaper Cake Centerpiece

Enjoy!

If you would like to make your own Little Pea Sugar Cookie Pops, here is the recipe as well as decorating instructions:

Little Pea Sugar Cookie Pops        {click here for full Little Pea cookie recipe & instructions}

Perfect Sugar Cookies

Yield: Approximately 30 medium/small mixed shape cookies

Ingredients

  • 6 cups (750 g) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon (8 g) salt
  • 2 cups (454 g)(4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened for about 20 minutes at room temperature
  • 2 cups (400 g) sugar
  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) pure lemon extract

Instructions

  1. In large bowl, sift together flour and salt. Set aside.
  2. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until fluffy and pale, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs.
  3. Add flour mixture and mix on low speed until thoroughly combined. Add vanilla and lemon extract and blend.
  4. Remove 1/2 of dough from bowl, make a ball, and place on a large piece of plastic wrap on counter.Wrap the sides of wrap over the ball, then press down with the palm of your hand and make a disc about 2" thick. Finish wrapping the disc with the plastic wrap. Repeat with 2nd half of dough. Chill both discs of dough for about 45 minutes.
  5. Remove one disc and remove plastic wrap. Place on top of a large piece of parchment 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. Preheat your oven to 325° F. Slide your parchment paper and dough onto a board, then place in refrigerator for about 15 minutes.
  8. Remove from fridge, and cut your shapes using the cutters of your choice, placing them on a baker's half sheet lined with a silicone baking mat (or parchment), with 2" clearance around each one and the edge of sheet. Place sheet with cookies into freezer for 15 minutes before baking. Bake 12-14 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.
  9. Cool sheets on wire racks for 10 minutes, then gently remove cookies and place on wire racks to finish cooling.

Notes

May be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. They also freeze well.

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You can find more of my tips on making the perfect sugar cookie and cookie pops in the previous post Steps to Making the Perfect Sugar Cookie and Cookie Pop.

Tools & Ingredients For Decorating Little Pea Sugar Cookie Pops

1. Approximately 1 oz (29 grams) of green fondant (I used Sugarflair “Gooseberry” with a hint of Americolor Electric Green to colour white fondant) per 4-pea cookie.

2. Approximately a “pea-size” ball of light pink fondant for cheeks (I used a few drops of Americolor Soft Gel Paste .75 oz Deep Pink Color to colour white fondant), per cookie.

3. Small fondant rolling pin (I use Wilton Fondant 9 Inch Rolling Pin) with 1/8″ guides

4. Nested circle cookie cutters (I use Ateco 5357 11 Piece Plain Round Cutter Set)

5. Small amount of royal icing for “glueing” fondant to cookies

6. Black decorator pen (I use the black marker included in the rainbow coloured decorator pens (Gourmet Writer Food Decorator Pens, Assorted Colors, Set of 10) for eyes and mouths

7. Non-toxic glitter for cheeks, optional (I used a dash of a green apple colour)

Steps to Making the Little Pea Sugar Cookies

1. Using a variety of circle cookie cutters (I used ) cut your “papa pea,” “mama pea,” “toddler pea,” and “baby pea” from the very chilled cookie dough. Or, of course, you can also create 2 pea, 3 pea, or 4+ cookies.

2. Using the corresponding cutter, cut small nick out of circles where you want to nest the smaller circles and gently press the circles of dough together so they are touching. They will expand a bit while baking, which will also aide in keeping them all together.

3. Insert your cookie pop stick (again, you view photos and cookie pop tutorial here) into the bottom of your cookie with a gentle turning motion until the stick is about 2/3 of the way up. (*You could also make these cookies without sticks, and they would be just as adorable!)Using a flat metal spatula to lift the cookie pops to your parchment or baking-mat lined cookie sheets.

4. Freeze for 30+ minutes and bake according to above recipe instructions.

5. On a lightly dusted (cornstarch or icing sugar) surface, roll out a few ounces of green fondant until it’s 1/8″ thick (I use the purple guides on the small white Wilton rolling pin to ensure fondant is even). Using the corresponding circle cutters you used for the cookies, cut out the circles in the same manner/layout you did for each cookie.

6. Gently fit the pieces together for each cookie, and leave to dry for about 30 minutes (give or take). Because fondant is so pliable and soft when it’s first rolled, picking them up now or placing on the cookie now, would likely misshape them.

7. Repeat steps 5-6 until you have fondant circles for all of the cookies.

8. Apply a thin layer of royal icing on the cookie (be careful to not apply icing on the outer rim, where the cookie will be exposed), and gently place and attach the fondant pieces with a gently smoothing motion.

9. Using black decorator pen, carefully draw on eyes, mouths, and eyelashes (for mamas). *I find if you go too thick with the mouths and eyes, etc. they aren’t as cute, so you’ll want to take care to make those details as fine as possible.

10. Roll small ball of pink fondant and flatten (or you can use the small end of a plain round piping tip to cut out cheeks). Secure to cookie with a tiny spec of water. Add sprinkle of edible glitter over cheeks, if desired.

Finish with ribbon, if desired.

Good luck & enjoy!

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