Bakery-Style Vanilla Cupcakes

Bakery Style Vanilla Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

Happy National Vanilla Cupcake Day! I’m sorry that I’m sending you these wishes at the end of the day, but I couldn’t go without celebrating this holiday with you, but as usual, this is a late-night write. With such a holiday to celebrate, how could I possibly wake up and not bake a batch of classic pink vanilla bakery-style cupcakes? I couldn’t, so I did.

Bakery Style Vanilla Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

So we’ve got company today–a close friend (you may remember I chatted awhile back about how it was because of him my husband and I met) visiting from Grand Cayman, and I thought it would be a great time to celebrate National Vanilla Cupcake Day. I realized that as much as I make vanilla cake with vanilla frosting (of all kinds), that I don’t often make a classic bakery-style vanilla cupcake with sweet frosting and sprinkles. I know, it’s really inexcusable, considering. So this morning I woke up and made a batch of the Magnolia Bakery vanilla cupcakes. If you’re not familiar with the Magnolia Bakery, it’s a charming bakery in New York City that has been celebrated for its from-scratch baked goods, most notably the pink vanilla cupakes and the like. I first learned of the bakery while watching Sex in the City, but I’m sad to report that I’ve never actually set foot inside the bakery or tried any of their treats.

Bakery Style Vanilla Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

Bakery Style Vanilla Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

As you may believe, I love cupcakes, and I have made many, but I hadn’t ever baked or tried their version, so today seemed like a good time to give that a whirl. The cupcake portion of their recipe is a very classic butter cake technique and you won’t find anything too unexpected in the ingredient list, but the result is pleasingly vanilla and perfectly classic. After much blog discussion about vanilla cake, following the Fluffy White Vanilla Cake post (a post about my epic journey to discover a pure white, fluffy, cake-mix-like scratch cake), I have received dozens of emails asking me if that batter would be suitable for the ultimate cupcake. Truthfully, I find that batter amazing and ideal for fluffy cake layers, but with only egg whites, I find it doesn’t make the ideal cupcakes. That’s just for my taste, though, but I love a sweet, sturdy and “eggy” cupcake (sorry if that sounds odd, but it’s the only way I can describe that taste). This recipe calls for, among other things, 4 whole eggs, a generous amount of white sugar and a combination of self-rising and all-purpose (plain) flour, which to me is a great combination for the classic cupcake.

Bakery Style Vanilla Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

If you read my previous post about my Ruffles & Roses tea party, you may remember the Fairy Cakes. For those I used another vanilla cupcake recipe from another popular New York City bakery, Billy’s Bakery, that has a very similar ingredient list, but uses a combination of cake flour and self-rising flour. That recipe, however, uses the reverse creaming method, just as my Fluffy Vanilla Cake does, and the result is very similar to the Magnolia Bakery version. To me, they are both wonderful and consistent options for the perfect vanilla cupcake and I think the biggest difference is the “cake flour” taste–some love it, and some prefer a less distinct flavour that all-purpose flour seems to lend.

Bakery Style Vanilla Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

For the frosting, I opted to sort of combine my favourite whipped vanilla frosting with the sugary-sweet Magnolia buttercream, by increasing the icing sugar, but keeping it a bit less than what they call for. I have to admit that making these pink sprinkled vanilla cupcakes, made me happier than even I could have guessed.

If you’d like to keep up with the seemingly endless ‘National Dessert Days,” just for fun, my friends over at Best Friends for Frosting have a fabulous post including the Complete Directory List of National Dessert Days, and, trust me, I refer to it often!

Speaking of pink sprinkles, I’m not sure my life will be complete if I don’t soon order this. Why do sprinkles make us so silly happy?

Ah, yes, sprinkles. I have too much to say about them. No, really, I do, but, oh friends, it’s the middle of the night here in my world, and I think I must go to sleep! I don’t say that often, but tonight, I must. I will be back very soon to talk about all sorts of life-altering topics: flour, buttercream, frosting cakes, chocolate, pink . . . zzzz.

Off I go to dream about cakes and rainbows. Or more sleep.

Bakery-Style Vanilla Cupcakes

Yield: 24 standard cupcakes, or two 9-inch round cakes

Ingredients

    For the cupcakes:
  • 1-1/2 cups (190 g) self-rising flour
  • 1-1/4 cups (160 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks)(227 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (400 g) white sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (237 ml) milk
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla
  • For the frosting:
  • 3 sticks (345 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 5 cups (625 g) confectioners’ sugar (icing, powdered)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) milk
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

    For the cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 standard muffin tins with cupcake liners of your choice (24 total).
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flours and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended.
  5. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners and bake in middle of oven until tops turn golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out just clean (a few crumbs is okay), about 18 minutes.
  6. Cool the cupcakes in tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
  7. For the frosting:
  8. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 5 minutes on medium speed (I use “4″ on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale & creamy.
  9. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 5 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy, and fluffy.
  10. Add touch of gel food colour, if desired and mix until blended.
  11. Best used right away.

Notes

[cupcake recipe adapted from Magnolia Bakery]

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http://sweetapolita.com/2011/11/bakery-style-vanilla-cupcakes/

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

1. To keep frosting smooth and creamy (and not filled with air-bubbles), work it often in the bowl with a rubber spatula, in a pressing & smearing movement to remove air bubbles.

2. To decorate these cupcakes, I used a few drops of Americolor Electric Pink Soft Gel Paste to achieve the “bakery-pink” colour. I then piped a generous swirl of frosting onto each cupcake using a plain round decorating tip inserted in a piping bag, followed by pressing the bottom flat side of a small offset spatula into the centre of the frosting swirl, working in a gentle circular motion, to create an indent and swirl onto the cupcake.

3. I try to avoid keeping cupcakes in an airtight container, as that seems to cause some of the liners to separate from the cupcakes. Cake boxes with the flaps closed seems to work well.

Good luck & enjoy!

Related posts:

Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Tart {Giveaway Winners Announced!}

Here are the winners for the Seriously Chocolaty Giveaway:

Prize #1: Goes to Renee“Oh My Goodness!  I would have to say Chocolate Ganache is my absolute favourite!  Use it on any kind of dessert to elevate it, but really, the BEST part, is the left over bit in the bowl in the fridge.  Sneak a swipe at every entry!  Grab some grapes or banana pieces and dip those too!  And, all too often I see little tiny kiddie swipes in there too :)…”

Yay for Renee! She wins 2 spots in the November 24th & 25th (6:30pm-9:30pm) Holiday Truffles & Bonbons class at the highly-respected Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Artsin Toronto + 1 kg box of Cacao Barry Origins Dark Chocolate Couverture Mexique 66% + 1 kg box of St. Domingue 70% + a copy of Barry Callebaut’s Simply Chocolate Magazine, featuring recipes from Canada’s top pastry chefs & chocolatiers. This prize values over $450!

Prize #2: Goes to Truc: “My favorite chocolate treat is probably a brownie.  Thanks for the giveaway!”

Truc wins a 1 kg box of Cacao Barry Origins Dark Chocolate Couverture Venezuela (72%) + 1 kg box of Tanzanie (75%)

Prize #3: Goes to Karissa Ferguson: ”I love truffles. My mom made my husband and me some last Valentines and we were crazy about them! I think it’s time I try them myself and would love to with these delicious chocolates :)”

Karissa wins 1 kg box of Cacao Barry Origins Dark Chocolate Couverture Equateur (76%) + 1 kg box Milk Chocolate Couverture Ghana (40.5%)

Congratulations sweet winners! I’ll be in touch with you all via email.

True, true, I am a cake girl, but don’t let that cause you to believe that I don’t appreciate a good tart from time to time. Well, by now you’ve probably figured out that I’m pretty easy to convince that something is worth making if it involves good chocolate, butter, sugar, caramel and Fleur de Sel. Okay, well, very true–the list could have stopped at chocolate, as that’s usually enough to get me inspired. What is it about chocolate that draws us in? Dark chocolate, extra dark chocolate, milk chocolate, it really doesn’t matter to me as long as it is quality chocolate.

Today, in honour of quite likely the chocolatiest giveaway ever sponsored by Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts and Barry Callebaut, I decided to celebrate chocolate by making a Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Tart, which uses both my favourite Cacao Barry Extra Brute (extra dark) cocoa powder (you probably remember it from, well, almost every chocolate cake I’ve ever blogged about!) in the crust as well as one of the exceptional Cacao Barry Origine Dark Chocolate Couverture varieties (St.Domingue 70% cocoa) for a deep, dark and satiny ganache top. These rich and dark chocolate components are sandwiching a thick salted caramel filling and topped with a generous sprinkling of Fleur de Sel for one seriously decadent tart. Who knew that a dessert that stands a mere 1″ high could pack so much flavour and texture?

So as I mentioned in my last post, I have a super exciting, fabulously chocolaty giveaway for you guys, and I’m so excited to share it. No, that’s not blogger speak for “please enter my giveaway,” because I am sincerely excited about this. Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts in Toronto (where it all began for me!) has generously saved 2 places for a winner and friend to attend the upcoming Holiday Truffles & Bonbons class with Chef Marisa Scibetta, where students will learn the following techniques:

-    Easy chocolate tempering tricks
-    Molded and hand-rolled chocolates
-    A variety of specialty ganaches recipes
-    How to showcase and package your treats
-    Working with transfer sheets

In addition, the sweet folks over at Barry Callebaut have generously offered to send 3 sets of two Origins Dark and Milk Chocolate Couverture varieties + a copy of their Simply Chocolate Magazine (which I have and love, by the way!). As someone who has tried all of these varieties, I can promise you they are all unique and incredible so even if you cannot attend the class, you can still win the chocolate prizes.

Here’s how the prizes are structured:

Prize #1: 2 spots (for the winner + a friend) in the November 24th & 25th (6:30pm-9:30pm) Holiday Truffles & Bonbons class at the highly-respected Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts in Toronto + 1 kg box of Cacao Barry Origins Dark Chocolate Couverture Mexique 66% + 1 kg box of St. Domingue 70% + a copy of Barry Callebaut’s Simply Chocolate Magazine, featuring recipes from Canada’s top pastry chefs & chocolatiers. This prize values over $450!

Prize #2: 1 kg box of Cacao Barry Origins Dark Chocolate Couverture Venezuela (72%) + 1 kg box of Tanzanie (75%)

Prize #3: 1 kg box of Cacao Barry Origins Dark Chocolate Couverture Equateur (76%) + 1 kg box Milk Chocolate Couverture Ghana (40.5%)

As you may know, I took my passion for cakes and baking to the next level when I took many courses at Bonnie Gordon College beginning in 2008, and I believe with all of my heart that for those passionate about baking and confectionary arts, that is the place to start. My experience there was, literally, life-changing. I learned more than I could have imagined, and the moment I walked into the school for my first course, and those that followed, I was struck with a surrounding sense of creativity and warmth.  I say warmth because after being out of school for quite some time, I was a little unsure what to expect, but for a school that packs so much talent and knowledge, it was comfortable and inviting, and the classes were small and intimate; it was somewhere I wanted to be.  And be. And be. Sure, being passionate about baking is exciting, but being trained by some of the best in the industry, that is empowering. When I walked out of the school each time, I felt more inspired than I had ever been and pretty much ready to take on the world of sweets. With so many classes and courses added often, I will likey never stop attending.

Giveaway Closed

 

Here’s how to enter this chocolaty giveaway: 

 

1. Again, even if you cannot attend the Bonnie Gordon College class on November 24th & 25th evenings,  you are entered to win the premium Cacao Barry Chocolate Couverture prizes just by leaving a comment on this blog post telling me what your favourite chocolate treat is (baked good, pure chocolate, truffles, etc). That’s it! If you are able to attend the class (it doesn’t matter where you live, provided you can get yourself there), just make a note in your comment stating so, and you will be entered to win any of the prizes.

2. For an extra entry, tweet about this post (with the link) and include @Sweetapolita, then come back and let me know (your actual blog post comment is your entry, so be sure to write a separate comment for your tweet).

3. For an extra entry, tell your friends on Facebook (with the link), then pop back over here to let me know (your actual blog post comment is your entry, so be sure to write a separate comment for your facebook share).

Winner will be announced on Thursday, November 10th. Be sure to check back for see if you’re the winner. Good luck!

*Just a note that for those who are interested in registering for the Holiday Truffles & Bonbons class, they are offering a second date of December 15th & December 16th from 6:30pm-9:30pm. The giveaway for the class, however is for the November 24th-25th session. You can learn more about the class here.

Now, onto the incredible chocolate goodness that is this tart. When I first spotted this tart on Saveur, I knew I had to try it as I love sweet & salty (remember this cake?). This was, though, my first time using the Origine St.Domingue chocolate, which I used for the ganache top of this tart. What makes this chocolate couverture special is that, as the folks at Cacao Barry describe “Cultivated in limited quantities, harvested exclusively in one country, the rare beans that make up the exceptional chocolate couvertures of the Origine and Origine Rare collection are one of Cacao Barry’s best kept secrets,” and I have to agree. I’ve been a big fan of theirs for quite some time, but this chocolate is so rich and intense, which is exactly what I love in a ganache, so it was a perfect fit. My husband who swears he doesn’t like dark chocolate, said it was his favourite part of this tart. Hmm . . . I wonder what he’d say if he knew the St. Domingue is 70% cocoa (the milk chocolate is 40.5%). I think it’s because it is so smooth and the true cocoa flavour is so pure and decadent.

Here’s the recipe:

Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Tart          {click to print}

*slightly adapted from Saveur

Servings: 8

Ingredients

For the crust:

1 1⁄2 cups (180 grams/6 ounces) all-purpose flour

1⁄4 cup + 1 tablespoon (35 grams) dutch-process cocoa powder (I used Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder – Extra Dark)

1⁄4 teaspoon (2 grams) kosher salt

10 tablespoons (150 grams/5 ounces) unsalted butter, cubed and softened

1⁄2 cup + 2 tablespoons (70 grams/2.5 ounces) confectioners’ (icing, powdered) sugar

2 egg yolks, at room temperature

1⁄2 tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract (I use Nielsen-Massey Vanillas 8-oz. Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract)

For the Caramel:

1 1⁄2 cups (300 grams/10 ounces) sugar

6 tablespoons (90 mL) water

3 tablespoons (45 mL) light corn syrup

1⁄4 teaspoon (2 grams) kosher salt

6 tablespoons (90 grams/3 ounces) unsalted butter

7 tablespoons (105 mL) 35% whipping cream or heavy cream (36%+)

For the Ganache:

1⁄2 cup (125 mL/4 liquid ounces) 35% whipping cream or heavy cream (36%+)

115 grams (4 ounces) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used Cacao Barry Chocolate – Pure Origin – Saint-Domingue – 70%)

Fleur de Sel for garnish ( I used Fleur de Sel De Guerande- French Sea Salt ; 6oz)

1. Make the crust: Preheat oven to 350˚F. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until mixture is pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes; mix in egg yolks and vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients. Transfer dough into to a 9″ fluted tart pan with a removable bottom (such as Kaiser Bakeware Noblesse 9-1/2-Inch Non-stick Quiche Pan with Removable Base) and press dough evenly into bottom and sides of pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Prick the tart shell all over with a fork and bake until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool.

2. Make the caramel: In a small heavy saucepan, whisk together sugar, corn syrup, salt and water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook undisrupted until a candy thermometer inserted into the syrup reads 340°F. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, look for the caramel to turn a rich amber colour, then remove pan from heat and whisk in butter and cream (the mixture will bubble up, so be careful!) until. If you suspect your caramel has gone too far in colour and that it is burnt, you will have to discard and start the caramel again. Pour caramel into cooled tart shell and let cool slightly; refrigerate until firm, 4–5 hours or overnight.

3. Make the ganache: Bring heavy cream almost to a boil (I remove from heat as soon as I see a few bubbles under the surface) in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Put chocolate into a medium bowl and pour in hot cream; let sit for a moment, then stir slowly in a circular motion with a rubber spatula, until smooth. Pour ganache evenly over tart and spread with a small offset spatula, then refrigerate until set, 4–5 hours or overnight. Sprinkle tart with sea salt, slice and serve chilled.

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • When I read the reviews for the original recipe, there was a lot of concern from Saveur readers who had tried the recipe stating that the caramel filling oozing out when served, which is why it says to serve chilled. I wanted to firm up the caramel, to avoid it being too sloppy, so once I stirred in the butter and cream, I put the caramel back on the stove on medium heat and heated to 240°F. In the end, this made it quite firm and almost toffee-like. It tasted incredible, but next time I will try it without that step, the way it reads in the recipe and will save the more firm toffee for candy.

Either way, it’s amazing . . .

Good luck & enjoy!



Related posts:

Chocolate Stout Cake with Whipped Vanilla Bean Frosting

Chocolate Stout Cake via Sweetapolita

This was kind of an unexpected post, actually, so you may notice that there is only one photo of this cake, which isn’t how it usually goes around here. Since it has been so dark and gloomy outside for the past few days, I just couldn’t hold out any longer for nice natural light to take photos (or to eat the cake!), so I took a quick photo and decided to share this recipe with you anyway, because I have a feeling you, like me, have a thing for cake. Yep, I’m catching on quick.

Before I chat about it though, I want to share the winner of the Taste of Home Baking book that I talked about here (along with those rich and chocolatey dipped brownies!).

The winner of the giveaway is…

Sarah {Songbird Sweets}: “…my favorite dessert is definitely chocolate peanut butter cupcakes…i just cant seem to resist them:-)”

Congratulations, Sarah! I will be in touch with you via email!

So, back to this decadent Chocolate Stout Cake with Whipped Vanilla Bean Frosting…it will be a short and sweet post, but wow, guys, I loved this cake. I’ve been seeing Chocolate Stout Cakes here and there on other blogs, and I’ve always been intrigued, but never tried it. Since International Stout Day is fast approaching, I figured I better get a move on. Okay, no, I just read that tonight, but that would have been impressive, no? This is a rich, dense and moist cake made with, among other things, dark beer or stout, such as Guinness. The beer really just heightens of the chocolate-ness that’s going on and adds moisture to the cake, but I won’t lie–the dinstinct Guinness flavour is definitely present, however unexpectedly appropriate. It just all works (and trust me, you don’t need to be a beer drinker!). It did, however, lure my husband into trying it, and he was quite amazed. Just promise me you won’t tell him there’s sour cream in it? Don’t ask.

I decided to fill and frost it with my new(ish) favourite sweet frosting, the Whipped Vanilla Bean Frosting, rather than the popular chocolate frosting variety, simply because I love contrast in both taste and visual. Since this frosting (as you may recall) tastes like vanilla bean ice cream, all together this cake is kind of like a Guinness Ice Cream Float, and, although I’ve never had one, I’m pretty sure that’s not a bad thing.

Before I leave you with the recipe, I wanted to give you a save-the-date of sorts, for a fabulous giveaway I’ll be posting about next week. As part of the giveaway prize, Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts (where it all began for me!) will be saving 2 spots in the upcoming 2-evening Holiday Truffles & Bonbons class on November 24th & 25th from 6:30pm-9:30pm for a winner and a friend to attend! I’m so excited for the future winner of this prize, truly. Anyone will be able to enter, however you would need to be available those evenings and able to attend the Toronto class. There will be more even more chocolate goodness added to the prize from Barry Callebaut (you know, those folks who produce all of the premium chocolate products I love to use in my recipes, including the extra dark cocoa powder I use in all of my chocolate cake, including this one!), so stay tuned for details.

I’ll be back with another recipe shortly, friends!

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake with Whipped Vanilla Bean Frosting         {click to print}

Yield: One 9-inch round two-layer cake–12-16 servings.

Cake Layers

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups (12 fluid ounces) stout or dark beer (I used Guinness)

1 1/2 cups (340 grams/12 ounces/3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes

1  cup sifted (115 grams/4 ounces) King Arthur Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa (I use Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder – Extra Dark)

3 cups (360 grams/12.5 ounces) all-purpose flour

3 cups (600 grams/20.5 ounces) granulated sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons (12 grams/11.25 mL) baking powder

1 teaspoon (8 grams) salt

3 large eggs, at room temperature

2/3 cup ( 165 mL) sour cream, at room temperature

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 9-inch round pans (2″ deep), line bottoms with parchment paper circles, then grease circles, dust with flour and tap out excess. Set aside.

2. Place the stout and butter in a large, heavy saucepan and heat on medium heat until the butter melts, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat, and whisk in the sifted cocoa powder until smooth. Pour into a large heatproof measuring cup or bowl and let cool.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (flat beater), mix the eggs and sour cream on medium speed (I use #4 on KitchenAid) until well combined, about 3 minutes.

5. Add the cooled cocoa mixture, and mix on medium speed (I use #4 on KitchenAid)  until combined, about 1 minute.

6. Add the dry ingredients slowly and combine on low-speed (I use #2 on KitchenAid) until blended, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of bowl, and then mix for another minute.

7. Divide batter into prepared pans evenly. If possible, weigh the pans and batter with a kitchen scale for accuracy and even layers. If you do, each pan of batter should weigh ~1 kg/2.2 lbs. Place cake pans on middle oven rack side-by-side, but about 2″ apart and bake until toothpick inserted into centre comes clean, about 35 minutes.

8. Let cakes cool on wire racks for ~10 minutes, loosen edges with knife or small palette knife, then gently remove from pans to cool completely.

*Chocolate Stout Cake recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour

Whipped Vanilla Bean Frosting

Note: This is the same frosting recipe I often use, but I have modified the quantity to yield enough to fill and frost this cake.

Ingredients

1 pound (454 grams/2 cups/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes

3 3/4 cups sifted (600 grams/1 lb + 5 ounces) confectioners’ sugar (icing, powdered)

4 tablespoons (60 mL) milk

1 vanilla bean, scraped

2 teaspoons (10 mL) pure vanilla extract — I use Nielsen-Massey Vanillas 8-oz. Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract

pinch of salt

Method

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed (I use “4″ on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale & creamy.

2. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy, and fluffy.

3. Best used right away (for ideal spreading consistency reasons).

4. You can eliminate the vanilla bean and use 4 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract.

*Adapted from Donna Hay 

Good luck & enjoy!



Related posts:

Autumn Delight Cake

Autumn Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

So it turns out this cake has more ingredients than any cake I have ever made! And when I started to write the cake description in the blog title, I realized that there are 18 words and two ampersands in the name. Yep. Okay, ready? The Autumn Delight cake is a 4-Layer Sweet Potato & Ginger Layer Cake with Toasted Marshmallow Filling, Candied Pecans and Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Buttercream. When I tried to edit that, I realized that each one of those ingredients are key, and I couldn’t bare the thought of taking any words away. Okay, you’re right, I’m just being silly, but most importantly I am really excited about this cake. In my heart, I am drawn to all thing pastel and sprinkly, but there is a big part of me that just loves autumny, spiced flavours. At this time of year, my sister-in-law, Mary, makes that gorgeous southern sweet potato casserole dish that you have likely heard of or tried, that marries sweet potatoes, brown sugar, marshmallows, vanilla and pecans, and I thought it would be a nice treat to create a cake version of that dish. So on with the apron and into the kitchen I went . . .

Autumn Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

What I love about this recipe is how moist, creamy, and unexpected some of the elements are. I made a sweet potato layer spice cake and added a generous quantity of crystallized ginger for texture and taste to the cake layers themselves, and then filled the cake with whipped toasted marshmallow filling (remember the one from this cake?) that I sprinkled with candied pecans for crunch (you even get those little buttery brown sugary bits that fall off the pecans every now and then). Since the filling was quite sweet, I decided to frost it with a Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Swiss Meringue Buttercream that is fluffy, satiny and perfectly brown sugary and not-too sweet, in true Swiss Meringue Buttercream fashion. The neat part about making Brown Sugar Buttercream is that you essentially just switch the white sugar for brown sugar, and voila! The taste is really quite different and it was the perfect addition to this concoction–particulary when topped with a generous handful of the candied pecans and crystallized ginger.

Autumn Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

So think about it this way: Every bite is crunchy, then brown sugar creamy, then dense, moist & spicy, then sweet and crispy, oh, and then crunchy, and then dense, moist & spicy, and then sweet and crispy, and oh, yet again crunchy, then dense, moist & spicy, then, alas, sweet and crispy, and then dense, moist & spicy. Help me, Rhonda.

Autumn Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

If the sweet potato thing is throwing you off your dessert-loving game, well, don’t fear. It’s much like carrot cake or pumpkin cake, and the texture is like no other–it’s dense yet light all at once. You have my word. I wasn’t sure either, but now I am pretty certain.

Autumn Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

I once wrote that the Zingy Orange Ginger Carrot Cake with White Chocolate Icing is my ultimate-tasting cake, and I have always stood by that statement because I meant it. Well, this cake comes a close second or possibly ties for first. Or possibly the unthinkable: it could be even better.

If you make this cake, just know that it does take some time, but I felt it was completely worth it, and I think it would make an incredible addition to any Thanksgiving event or any autumn day.

Autumn Delight Cake

Yield: One 4-layer, 8-inch round cake

Sweet Potato & Ginger Layer Cake with Toasted Marshmallow Filling, Candied Pecans and Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Buttercream

Ingredients

    For the Cake Layers:
  • 3 large sweet potatoes (about 900 g)
  • 2 cups (400 g) sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1-1/4 cups (315 ml) sunflower oil (or vegetable, safflower, canola oil)
  • 2 cups (230 g) cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon (7 g) ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons (8 g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (7 g) salt
  • 1 teaspoon (3 g) ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1.5 g) ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) brandy or dark rum
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (120 g) crystallized ginger, chopped
  • For the Filling:
  • 16 large white marshmallows
  • 1 cup (125 g) icing sugar (confectioners' or powdered), sifted
  • 1 cup butter (227 g)(2 sticks), at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • 1 jar (213 g) marshmallow cream (such as Marshmallow Fluff)
  • For the Buttercream:
  • 5 large egg whites (150 g))
  • 1-1/4 cups (250 g) light brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups (3 sticks)(340 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • a few pinches of cinnamon, to taste
  • For the Candied Pecans:
  • 2 tablespoons (28 g) unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons (24 g) brown sugar
  • 1 cup (100 g) pecan pieces

Instructions

    For the Cake Layers:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans, dust with flour, tap out excess and set aside.
  2. Place the sweet potatoes on a microwave-safe plate and pierce them with a fork. Microwave until they are tender (about 7-8 minutes each side). Carefully remove the skin when cool enough to touch, and mash the flesh into a coarse puree.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and eggs together on medium-high speed (I use #6 on KitchenAid) until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the oil and beat on medium until combined. Add the cooled sweet potato puree and mix until combined.
  4. Sift dry ingredients together (cake flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and ground ginger) and then add to sweet potato mixture.
  5. Mix in brandy/dark rum (I used dark rum) and vanilla. Gently stir in crystallized ginger.
  6. Evenly distribute batter into the prepared pans (weigh them if possible with digital kitchen scale), smooth with a small offset palette knife and place in the center of the middle rack of the oven, about 2 inches apart. Bake until a knife or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
  7. Let pans cool on a wire rack 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack and cool them completely.
  8. For the Filling:
  9. Place marshmallows on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Place on lower rack of oven, and broil marshmallows until nice and brown on top, between 30-60 seconds. Remove pan from oven and gently turn the marshmallows over, and broil until they are golden brown. (Be sure to keep an eye on them--they burn very quickly.)
  10. In an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine butter and icing sugar on low until blended, about 1 minute. Add vanilla and mix on med-high for about 3 minutes.
  11. Add marshmallow cream and toasted marshmallows, and mix on lowest setting for about 1 minute.
  12. For the Buttercream:
  13. Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice, to remove any trace of grease. Add egg whites and sugar, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 160°F, or if you don't have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
  14. With whisk attachment of mixer, begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch (this can take up to 10 minutes or so). *Don't begin adding butter until the bottom of the bowl feels neutral, and not warm.
  15. Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth). *If mixture is too runny, refrigerate for about 15 minutes and continue mixing with paddle attachment until it comes together. Add vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined. Add cinnamon to taste and blend.
  16. For the Candied Pecans:
  17. Melt the butter in a small pan. Mix in brown sugar, and add the pecans. Toss to coat.
  18. Cook on medium low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Be sure to watch carefully so they don’t burn.
  19. Turn out onto parchment paper or aluminum foil and let cool for 5 minutes; break apart into smaller pieces if using halves.
  20. Assembly of the Autumn Delight Cake
  21. Slice both cake layers in half horizontally, so you have 4 cake layers.
  22. Place the first layer on a plate, pedestal or cake board cut side up (so bottom of the cake layer is touching plate), and spread ~3/4 cup of Toasted Marshmallow Filling with a small offset palette knife, leaving 1" or so around the edge. Sprinkle with a handful of candied pecans pieces.
  23. Repeat previous step until you get to the final cake layer. Place last layer face down and chill cake for 30-40 minutes.
  24. Frost cake with Brown Sugar Buttercream and top with a generous handful of candied pecans and crystallized ginger.
  25. Finished cake can be kept at room temperature for up to 8 hours. Keep refrigerated if longer than 8 hours, but always serve at room temperature (Swiss Buttercream should never be served cold, as it goes back to a cold-butter texture).

Notes

* You can make buttercream ahead and keep in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week, leaving out at room temperature when needed, re-whipping in mixer for 5 minutes.

**Can freeze buttercream for up to 6-8 weeks. To thaw, place on counter overnight, and rewhip for 5 minutes with paddle attachment in an electric mixer. If not satiny enough upon rewhip, take 1/3 of buttercream and microwave in a microwave-safe container for ~8 seconds, then add back to mixing bowl and remix with remaining buttercream.

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[cake layer recipe adapted from Martha Stewart]

[candied pecan recipe adapted from Creative Culinary]

Good luck & enjoy!

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Chocolate-Dipped Brownies {and a Giveaway!}

Chocolate-Dipped Brownies via Sweetapolita

*This giveaway is closed, but the recipe is still divine!

I love rich, silky chocolate. I also love brownies. And, well, sprinkles are my soul mate, so can someone please tell me how I never thought to marry them into one delightful and decadent bar before? It all makes so much sense, but yet, somehow, it never dawned on me.

So there I was, poring over every single recipe in the new book, Taste of Home Baking, All NEW Edition: 725+ Recipes & Variations from Classics to Best Loved!, and there it was: a recipe for Chocolate-Dipped Brownies. Needless to say I sashayed to the kitchen to whip these up, and although I wasn’t surprised, they tasted a good as I suspected they would. The reason I really enjoy this baking book so much, is because it’s made up seemingly endless (I think it’s almost 800!) recipes that have been contributed by home-bakers all over North America (I even spotted a recipe from a woman in Kitchener, Ontario, my home town, which I found very exciting for some reason). That aside, every single recipe in the book has been tested in the Taste of Home test kitchen, so there’s this comfort of knowing that the recipes are reliable and trusted.

*The sweetest gifts: From coffee cakes to cookies, Taste of Home Baking: All-New Edition offers dozens of home-baked gift ideas, and the book itself makes a valuable holiday gift; it comes with a free year subscription to Taste of Home (within the U.S.)

* Trimmed-down favorites, specially designed for health-conscious readers or those who have food allergies, such as gluten-free options.

* Troubleshooting tips that can help any home baker turn exasperation into elation, including step-by-step photos. 

*These are down-to-earth recipes that will warm the hearts of families who know the simple pleasure of gathering around the kitchen table for fresh-from-the-oven happiness.

Because I have a real thing for family recipes and comfort baking, I really connected with the whole concept of this book and, of course can’t help but feel the need to bake everything in it! The even better news is that the sweet folks from Taste of Home have generously provided me with a copy of this beautiful book to give away to one lucky reader (it also comes along with a year subscription to their Taste of Home magazine.). Some of the recipes that leapt off the pages (and are on my to-make list) are the Hot Milk Cake, Caramel Butter Cake, Peanut Butter Truffle Cupcakes, Candy Bar Meringue Torte (just to name a few) and, of course, these Chocolate-Dipped Brownies.

I found these to be a great make-with-the-kids treat, which always means a lot to me. They don’t even require an electric mixer, which is always a welcomed change. Reese was at school the morning we made these, but little Neve and I had a great time making them together (don’t worry, Reese got her taste test in after school!). I had Neve on sprinkle duty and, as you can probably bet, she didn’t mind.

Dipped Brownies via Sweetapolita

What is it about sprinkles that make life that much better?

Sweetapolita

The same goes for cute little cakelets.

Sweetapolita

 An official Sprinkle Sprinkler–imagine if that was a paying gig? Sign me up.

Dipped Brownies via Sweetapolita

I’m thinking these would be a nice addition to a Halloween party dessert table or to give away to close neighbours, friends and family as homemade Halloween treats. They would also, of course, be a nice addition to pretty much any day of the year.

For a chance to win this epic book, here are some giveaway details:

Here’s how to enter:

1. Leave a comment on this blog post telling me what your favourite baked good is. That’s it!

2. For an extra entry, tweet about this post (with the link) and include @Sweetapolita, then come back and let me know.

3. For an extra entry, tell your friends on Facebook (with the link), then pop back over here to let me know.

*Giveaway Completed

Winner will be chosen on Wednesday, October 26th at 12pm EST using random.org. Any entries received after this time will not be considered.

Be sure to check back for see if you’re the winner!

Here’s the recipe for these decadent (but simple!) treats:

Chocolate-Dipped Brownies        {click to print}

From Taste of Home Baking, All NEW Edition: 725+ Recipes & Variations from Classics to Best Loved!, contributed by Jackie Archer, Clinton, Iowa

Yield: 24 bars (1″ x 2.5″)

Ingredients

3/4 cup (150 g/5 oz) sugar

1/3 cup butter (75 g/2.5 oz), cubed

2 tablespoons (30 mL) water

4 cups (685 g/24 oz) semisweet chocolate chips, divided (I used premium chocolate for 2 cups dipping portion) – Callebaut Dark Callets 53.8 % (2 lb)

1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla extract

2 eggs

3/4 cup (100 g) all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) salt

1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) baking soda

2 tablespoons (30 mL) shortening

Chopped pecans, jimmies, and/or nonpareils (optional)

Method

1. In a large saucepan, bring the sugar, butter, and water to a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat; stir in 1 cup of chocolate chip and vanilla until smooth. Cool for 5 minutes.

2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the flour, salt, and baking soda; stir into chocolate mixture. Stir in 1 cup chocolate chips. Pour into a greased 9-inch square baking pan.

3. Bake at 325°F for 35 minutes or until set (see my note below). Cool completely on a wire rack. Place in the freezer for 30-40 minutes or until firm (do not freeze completely). Cut into bars.

4. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt remaining chips with shortening; stir until smooth. Using a small fork, dip brownies to completely coat; shake off excess. Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Sprinkle with pecan, jimmies and/or nonpareils. Let stand until set. Store in an airtight container.

*Dipping Bars in Chocolate

* Melt the chocolate chips, baking chocolate or candy coating according to recipe directions. If necessary, transfer chocolate to a narrow container.

* To cover an entire bar in chocolate, use two forks to dip the bar into the chocolate and lift up. Gently shake the bar to remove excess chocolate. Place on a waxed-paper lined baking sheet to set at room temperature.

* If the chocolate cools too much to the bars properly, rewarm and continue dipping.

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • For easy removal of the baked brownie, I grease the pan and then line with parchment paper with an inch or so of overhang. Once brownies are cool and have been in the freezer for the 30 minutes, I then remove from pan using parchment overhang and place brownie on cutting board for clean and easy cutting.
  • Because this recipe calls for so much chocolate, I used standard chocolate chips for the brownie and premium chocolate for the dipping (I use semisweet Callebaut Dark Callets 53.8 % (2 lb))
  • I tend to like my brownies a little less cakey and bake them for less time than more, so I baked mine for 25 minutes (remove as soon as the top starts to crackle).
  • I cut the brownies into 1″ x 2.5″ bars before dipping.
  • I didn’t have shortening on hand, so I used 1 tablespoon of white corn syrup in its place.

Good luck & enjoy!



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