Last Minute Valentine Treat Ideas {No Bake}

Happy Love Day!

A short & sweet post for you today…

If you’re like me, and you were sure that you still had days or weeks until Valentine’s Day, and then woke up realizing it’s here, then you may need a few quick and easy treat ideas that you can whip up in a hurry. These recipes are all no-bake, require only a handful of ingredients and offer a little wow factor with now factor. Simple or not, these confections are actually some of my all-time favourites:

Butterscotch Peanut Butter Marshmallow Hearts

 

Sprinkled Chocolate Party Spoons

 

Cake Batter & Sprinkle Bark

 

Misty Minty Peppermint Patties

Jennie’s Peanut Butter Pie

Wishing you a day filled with love & cake (or, of course, some fabulous no-bake treats)!

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Red Velvet & Cinnamon Layer Cake {and Red Velvet Link Love!}

Red Velvet & Cinnamon Layer Cake via Sweetapolita

It’s a Red Velvet Cake craze, my friends! I may be a little late to the Red Velvet party, but I’ve arrived, outfitted in a quintessential vintage red polka dot 50’s dress, of course, and with a cake in tow — a Red Velvet Layer Cake with Whipped Cinnamon filling and Rich & Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting, no less — just in time for Valentine’s Day. Are you gearing up for the big day? I certainly was, as I had so many fun Valentine’s ideas to share with you, and then, bam!, earlier this past week I became super ill and was out of commission. I didn’t even see it coming — it was kind of crazy. The good news is that I had just made and began to photograph this cake that day, so at least I can share my red velvet love with you now.

As you may likely know, Red Velvet Cake is an old-fashioned, chocolate buttermilk cake, of sorts, that is known for its deep red or red-brown colour, typically achieved by a generous dose of red food colouring, or in many cases, cooked beets, or both. Most traditional versions of this cake are paired with either white cooked flour frostings or classic cream cheese frosting, or slightly tweaked variations of them. I would almost say that this cake keeps us loving and respecting the past more than any other cake out there–it appears that most bakers keep tradition close inside their apron pockets when recreating this red gem (when making it in cake form, that is–there are all sorts of incredible & innovative red velvet desserts out there now!).

Red Velvet & Cinnamon Layer Cake via Sweetapolita

I haven’t made this ever-popular (again) cake in quite some time, and there’s a reason: I simply couldn’t find a recipe for the cake layers that I loved. To be totally honest, I made 3 different recipes, and it was hard choosing one that I even really liked. I love the idea of the cake, and I love the flavours it’s known for, but when I tried the most popular recipes floating around the web, they were all standard butter cakes that ended up on the dry side once ready to eat. Then I tried a few alternatives that opted for oil-based cakes, which, with chocolate cakes I usually love, but I just found the ones I tried were too oily for the limited amount of cocoa in the Red Velvet Cake. I finally decided that the best recipe out there is likely a butter cake version, so back on the search I went . . .

That’s when I tried this perfectly moist and classically made cake layer recipe from baking911.com, and I loved it! Sarah worked hard to create a recipe that wasn’t dry at all, but rather really flavourful and moist, while staying really true to the traditional version.  I decided to switch it up just slightly, by filling the cake with a whipped cinnamon frosting and then frosting the outside with a fluffy cream cheese frosting — the yummiest.

Since any day is a great day to share pretty and love-y treats, I look forward to sharing my other posts with you next week (and stay tuned for a Love Day Roundup post!). In the meanwhile, let’s make one killer Red Velvet & Cinnamon Layer Cake! But first . . .

A few random-but-riveting Red Velvet Cake facts:

  • In Canada the cake was a well-known dessert in the restaurants and bakeries of the Eaton’s department store chain in the 1940s and 1950s. Promoted as an exclusive Eaton’s recipe, with employees who knew the recipe sworn to silence, many mistakenly believed the cake to be the invention of the department store matriarch, Lady Eaton (source). Incidentally, my mom worked at Eaton’s department store during my childhood; this fact is in no way related to Red Velvet Cake, just thought I’d share that exciting tidbit.
  • It is often said that Red Velvet Cake was first popularized at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York (where Grant and I spent our engagement weekend, but what? never had the cake!) during the 1920s, although, it seems that it had been popular for many years before then throughout the southern states. The famous Waldorf Red Velvet Cake recipe can be found, among other incredible recipes, in the fabulous The Waldorf-Astoria Cookbook.
  • Red Velvet Cake makes a special appearance (likely one of the reasons the cake regained popularity!) inside the perfectly unusual armadillo groom’s cake in the 1989 movie, Steel Magnolias.

Red Velvet & Cinnamon Layer Cake          {click to print}

 

 

 

 

Yield: One 4-layer (or two thicker layers), 9″ round cake. Serves 12-16

*August 2013 Update: Since I’ve written this post, baking911.com is structured differently–you must be a member to view the recipes. If you aren’t a member, you can try my more recent Red Velvet Cake recipe here.

I paired the fabulously moist & yummy Red Velvet Cake layers from my friends over at baking911.com with my own frosting and filling to create an old-fashioned favourite with a bit of a twist. My Whipped Cinnamon Filling/Frosting and Rich & Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting recipes are below, and you can find the fabulous baking911.com Red Velvet Cake recipe, HERE (if you are a member of baking911.com).

Whipped Cinnamon Filling/Frosting

Yield: enough to fill a 9″ round, 4-layer cake

Ingredients

3 sticks + 2 tablespoon (370 g/13 oz) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes

3 cups sifted (480 g/1 lb + 1 oz) confectioners’ sugar (icing, powdered)

3 tablespoons (45 mL) whipping cream (heavy cream 35%)

2 teaspoon (10 mL) pure vanilla extract (I use Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Extract)

2 teaspoons (10 mL) ground cinnamon, or to taste

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) and stirred occasionally during the cake-frosting process.

Rich & Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: enough to frost (only frost, not fill) a 9″ round cake, with piped decorations (above)

Ingredients

1/3 cup  (75 g/2.5 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 lbs (5 1/2 cups/685 g) confectioners’ sugar

1 1/2 packages (8 oz packages) cream cheese (12 oz/345 g), cut into cubes, cold

1/4 cup (60 ml) whipping cream (heavy cream 35%)

2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract (I use Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Extract)

pinch of salt

Method

1. Using electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, blend butter and icing sugar on medium low speed, until just combined, about 2 minutes.

2. Add cold cream cheese, all at once, and beat on medium speed for about 5 minutes.

3. Add whipping cream and vanilla, and beat at medium high speed for about 1 minute. Frosting will be fluffy. Be sure to not overbeat, or the frosting will start to become too thin.

Assembly of the Red Velvet & Cinnamon Layer Cake

1. With a long, sharp serrated knife, slice both cooled cake layers in half horizontally, so you now have 4 cake layers (this is optional–you can certainly leave it as 2 thicker layers with one layer of filling).

2. Spread a small dollop of either frosting onto desired cake plate or cake board (this keeps cake from shifting).

3. Place 1 cake layer on it, cut-side up. Place ~1 cup of cinnamon frosting on top, and spread evenly with a Medium Sized Offset Spatula
leaving about a 1″ rim unfrosted (around the edges).

4. Repeat step 3 until you come to your final layer, which you will place cut side down.

5. Pile a generous amount of Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting on top of the cake and using a clean Medium Sized Offset Spatula
working outward from the top center, adding more frosting to the sides and smooth, using a Medium Sized Straight Spatula, until cake is covered and smooth.

6. Place remaining Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting in a large Pastry Bag fitted with your preferred large decorating tip. For this cake I used Ateco Decorating Tip 887, and swirl rosettes around the top of the cake. Top with candy heart or anything your little heart desires!

Sweetapolita’s Notes

  • This cake is best enjoyed day 1 or 2. Because of the cream cheese frosting, you will need to refrigerate the cake, but it should always be served at room temperature.
  • For Red Velvet & Cinnamon Cupcakes, you could bake in cupcake liners (24-36) and top with a swirl of each frosting, or even just one or the other.
  • Ready to rock your cake baking? Check out my 50 Tips for Baking Better Cakes post.
  • To learn more about my favourite baking tools, check out Baking Supplies I Love.

As always, I’d love to hear about your experiences and results making this cake, so come on back and let me know!

Does Red Velvet excite you? Here is a serious dose of Red Velvet love from friends around the web:

Happy Weekend!

 

P.S. No, I’m not really wearing a quintessential vintage red polka dot 50’s dress.

PPS. I don’t even own a quintessential vintage red polka dot 50’s dress, but ooh I wish I did!

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Vegan Love: Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Rich Chocolate Frosting

Chocolate Vegan Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

Have you ever tried a vegan cupcake? True, I don’t typically practice Veganism (abstaining from the use of animal products) in my day to day life, but I am a baker who loves nothing more than trying new things. And since there are many who do choose this lifestyle, I love having vegan options in my baking repertoire. As you may guess though, making a rich and lovely cupcake with no eggs, butter, or milk is a bit of a challenge, or at least you would likely expect it to be. The truth is, had I not been the one who made these cupcakes, I would honestly never guess that they were dairy and egg free, because they are perfectly decadent. You know me–it has to be super yummy for me to share it with you!

The seemingly random need to share a vegan recipe with came from a vegan chocolate cake recipe I found in an inspiring new baking book I have, called Tea with Bea: Recipes from Bea’s of Bloomsbury. Now this book isn’t a vegan baking book, but rather a gorgeous collection of cakes and other baked goods from Bea’s of Bloomsbury in the UK (think vanilla coconut cake with lemon curd & cheesecake filling, gingerbread Guinness cake with poached pears & cream cheese icing and more). Among of all the delightful recipes in this book, I noticed that Bea explains that the vegan chocolate cake is so good that many customers don’t even realize it’s vegan. How could I possibly resist?

I thought I would make this recipe in cupcake form and try out a vegan chocolate frosting recipe. For the cake, Bea was right–you would honestly never know it’s vegan, and with ingredients like sunflower oil, red wine vinegar, and soy milk, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I stuck with a high quality, extra dark cocoa powder, because I knew that regardless of everything else in it, I wanted the intense and pleasing chocolate taste to be dominant. Both taste and texture went way beyond my expectations, truly (particularly the cake texture–so incredibly moist). As for vegan chocolate frosting, well I knew this was going to be interesting since butter is the base for most cupcake frostings I love, and I knew I wanted this frosting to deliver some serious chocolaty richness.

So . . . let’s keep an open mind when I tell you that it’s made with dark chocolate, icing sugar, vanilla, almond milk and…Vegan, non-hydrogenated, omega-3 margarine (gasp!). It’s made by Becel, has no Trans fats, and is primarily made of canola & sunflower oils, but also has vitamin E, vitamin A, beta carotene and more. I know, trust me, I know–the thought of margarine can turn us off, but honestly, margarine has come a long, long way since we may have last checked in. I’m not a margarine expert, but I was very comfortable whipping this into a dark chocolate frosting and, most importantly, indulging in it. Guys it tasted pretty darn fabulous (by now you know I would never steer you wrong, right?).

Chocolate Vegan Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

The cupcakes don’t need sprinkles, because they really are that good, but if you’re like me and you can’t resist the urge to sprinkle your cupcakes, just keep in mind that, if you need the cupcakes to be completely vegan most sprinkles, quins and dragees aren’t vegan. You can find a few brands out there that are indeed vegan, such as some India Tree products, or I used some real dark chocolate sprinkles from De Ruijter, because they were as close to vegan I had (no animal ingredients in the list, but a mention of possible traces of milk). Since I was just making them for us, I was okay with that, but you would definitely want to triple check if you needed them to be completely vegan. Another option is to use a few berries as decoration, dark chocolates, sugar, or any other small vegan confection you can think of.

Trust me, whether you’re vegan or not, these cupcakes are frickin’ yummy.

Vegan Love: Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Rich Chocolate Frosting

Ingredients

    For the Cupcakes:
  • 275 g/2 cups plain/all-purpose flour
  • 100 g/3/4 cup natural cocoa powder (such as Ghirardelli Unsweetened Cocoa)
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 450 ml/1-3/4 cup unsweetened soy milk
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) red wine vinegar
  • 320 g/ 1-2/3 cups caster/superfine sugar
  • 320 ml/1-1/4 cups sunflower oil
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) vanilla extract
  • For the Frosting:
  • 1 cup (227 g/8 oz) Vegan, non-hydrogenated margarine
  • 1 cup (125 g/4 oz) icing sugar (confectioners’ or powdered)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons (7.5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 5 oz (145 g) quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) almond or soy milk
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

    For the Cupcakes:
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C (315°F) Gas 4. Put the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. Sift twice.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the soy milk, vinegar, sugar, oil and vanilla extract. Pour into the flour mixture and stir until well combined.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake pan and bake in the preheated oven for 40-55 minutes. A wooden skewer inserted in the middle should come out with almost no crumbs attached, and the middle of the cake, when pressed, should spring back slightly instead of sink. Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes if necessary.
  4. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Slide a table knife all around the edge to loosen the cake, then remove from the pan. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 1 hour.
  5. For the Frosting:
  6. In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the icing sugar and margarine and beat on low speed, about 1 minute.
  7. Add vanilla and beat on low until well combined. Add the melted & cooled chocolate and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add almond milk and salt, and beat on medium speed for another minute.
http://sweetapolita.com/2012/01/vegan-love-dark-chocolate-cupcakes-with-rich-chocolate-frosting/

[vegan chocolate cake recipe shared with permission, from the book Tea With Bea]

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • The Vegan Chocolate Cake recipe from the book (Tea with Bea) is for a 9″ cake, but I decided to make cupcakes–if you opt for cupcakes, baking time is approximately 18-20 minutes (this can vary depending on your oven, but start to check them around 18 minutes). Once removed from oven, carefully remove the cupcakes from the pan to cool on a wire rack.
  • You can divide the cake recipe in 1/2 for 12 cupcakes.
  • If you do bake the cake in a round pan, rather than cupcakes, you could split the batter into two 9″ round pans, rather than baking one taller 9″ layer that would later need to be split.
  • If you don’t have superfine sugar, you can simply put your granulated sugar through the food processor for a few pulses.
  • I always use Nielsen-Massey Vanilla for my baking. For this recipe I also used Callebaut Dark Callets 70.4 % )
  • If frosting is too thick, add more almond or soy milk one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached; if too runny, add a small amount of icing sugar until desired consistency is reached. Frosting thickens as it sets.
  • Store frosted cupcakes in an airtight container for up to 3 days (just ate one on day 3, and it rocked).
  • Be careful with sprinkles–only specific brands are vegan (if you are making these for someone who is vegan, you will need to watch for common sprinkle ingredients such as gelatine, milk, egg whites, etc)
  • These cupcakes & frosting are also perfect for anyone who chooses to eat lactose-free.
  • For even more fabulous vegan cupcake ideas, check out Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World: 75 Dairy-Free Recipes for Cupcakes that Rule (thanks, Amy for reminding me about this book in your post comment)

Good luck & enjoy!

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Sprinkled Chocolate Party Spoons

Chocolate Party Spoons via Sweetapolita

Admit it: you are even just a little bit happier in the presence of sprinkles. Right? Me too. Add pink spoons, jelly beans and good chocolate to the mix, and that’s my kind of party. What are they? Well, nothing more than a fanciful spoonful of delight that you eat straight from the spoon. They’re perfect for birthday parties, party favours or Tuesday afternoons. Now, I didn’t invent the chocolate party spoon, but wo-man, I sure wish I did. Honestly, why didn’t I think of that? I spotted the idea for these spoonfuls of happiness a few months ago, when Melissa shared them after seeing them on a really neat blog called Delicious Delicious Delicious. Mr. P explains that he saw them a in a baking book in Toyko, and that he had to give it a try. Even if it gave it my all, I could never resist giving these a go–they are just way too easy, too yummy and too awesome. I’m going to be making a heap of these for an upcoming February dinner party we’re attending, so I thought the girls and I could make a few yesterday, just to see how much time they take and to test them out.

These were one of the quickest but most rewarding treats I have ever made, rivaling even this sprinkled goodness, which I didn’t think possible, and talk about yummy, sprinkle-induced joy. The girls and I made a bunch of these yesterday (Note: If you want to infuse some happiness into the lives of 2 and 4-year old girls, tell them on a gloomy Tuesday afternoon that you’re pulling out every sprinkle and wee confection you own so that they can toss them onto warm, melted milk chocolate sitting in a delicious pool on a Barbie-pink spoon.) and brought them to dinner with a few close friends and their kids. Everybody wins!

Chocolate Party Spoons via Sweetapolita
So on a whim I snapped a few quick photos, and decided to share these little beauties with you (staying true to my spread-the-sprinkle-love gospel). There are really only 3 steps to happiness: melting your favourite chocolate (white, milk, dark, extra dark), spooning it into the plastic spoon of your choice (to keep it level, you can rest the spoon handles on a book or, if you’re doing a bunch of them, you can even rest them on the rubber spatulas you’ve laid out on a cookie sheet), and tossing in your favourite sprinkles, jelly beans (I used Birthday Cake Jelly Beans, among others), dragees, or pretty much anything small enough to fit in the spoon. I say, sprinkle spoons for everyone!

I love the visual, of course, but I also love the texture. Every bite is different and no two party spoons are the same!

Sprinkled Chocolate Party Spoons

Yield: 24 chocolate spoons

Ingredients

  • 6 oz. (180 g) quality chocolate (milk, dark, white--anything!), chopped
  • sprinkles, jelly beans, confetti quins, small chocolate candies, or any other small confection
  • You will Also Need:
  • 24 coloured plastic spoons
  • cookie sheet lined with parchment paper
  • some spatulas (or a book) for resting party spoons while filling

Instructions

  1. Place your plastic spoons on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, resting the spoon handles on a rubber spatula or book, to level them out while filling.
  2. Temper your chocolate in a glass bowl in the microwave (or in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water on the stove), by warming for 20 second intervals and stirring in between. When the chocolate is almost (80%) completely melted, remove from the microwave and keep stirring until the last few pieces are completely melted and the chocolate is smooth.
  3. Spoon melted chocolate into your plastic spoons, about 80% full (the sprinkles and candies will fill the rest)--any more than that, and they will likely overflow (trust me, it happened to me).
  4. Add your sprinkles, candies and more. Place cookie sheet in the freezer or refrigerator for about 20 minutes to set.
http://sweetapolita.com/2012/01/sprinkled-chocolate-party-spoons/

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • If you choose to add any chocolate bits to the melted chocolate spoons, be sure to wait a few moments for the chocolate to cool in the spoon, so your chocolate additions don’t melt.
  • When adding jelly beans, wait a few moments for the chocolate to start to set, so they don’t sink.
  • I recommend using a good quality chocolate–nothing crazy expensive, but just something that tastes great.
  • Use any colour spoon to tie into any party theme or idea.
  • Get adventurous with the sprinkles and candy you add–anything goes!
  • Spoon in the melted chocolate and then let kids do the rest. A perfect birthday party (or even rainy day) activity!

Good luck & enjoy!

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How to Make a Fondant Asparagus Cake {a Tutorial}

Fondant Asparagus Cake via Sweetapolita

This post makes me giggle. Well, not the actual post, since I haven’t written it yet, but the fact that I am still inflicting innocent and unsuspecting passersby with what seems to be the endless life of the Asparagus Cake–the trompe l’oeil cake I made as, really, just a joke for Grant’s sister, Mary, or as we call her, Mar. When I initially shared this crazy cake idea back when I first started this blog just over a year ago, and then again when I recreated and revisited it (above) this past May, I never really expected that anyone else would want (or have a good reason) to make this cake themselves, which is why I didn’t include tutorials in either of those posts. Then, something unexpected happened: I began getting emails from readers asking me for a tutorial and explaining that they indeed have the perfect reason to make this cake. This makes me very happy! I love that some of you actually have reasons to make one, and that some of you simply want to. Yep, I kind of love that. Long live Asparagus Cakes!

Just to recap on why I made this cake the first time, Mar had been training for a fitness competition for many months prior to her show in November, and this poor foodie, fellow lover-of-sweet had been eating more asparagus than one could even fathom. She’s amazing, though, and stayed more focused and disciplined than most of us (and by most of us, I mean me) could even dream of, so the girl earned herself some serious post-show cake. So, for fun, during her training months we would chat about all of the delicious things she couldn’t wait to eat after the show, and more specifically at our house the next day for a celebratory lunch. When I asked her what she wanted for dessert, she said “I’d love something with chocolate cake and vanilla buttercream, but other than that, whatever you think!” So, my first thought was something pink and girly, you know, a real show-stopping dessert for a fitness queen, but then it dawned on me: Asparagus! It simply could be no other way and, if you know me, you know that nothing was going to stop me from making this happen. It just made too much sense, and I love a challenge. I was so excited with the way it turned out, and it was actually a little easier than I expected.

The real asparagus I referred to while making this cake–this photo is not fondant asparagus, and I promise I would not put this real asparagus, or any other real asparagus, onto a cake!

Referring to actual asparagus (above) was the most important step in the process of creating this cake. I learned a few things the first time around and made some notes on what I would do the next time to improve it. My main issue with the first one was that I felt the spears still looked a bit too green, even though I did add hints of red, because if you look, I mean really look, at real raw asparagus, they are filled with some neat red and many purple tones. Since I wanted them to look as realistic as possible, I knew that they had to look raw, because cooked asparagus takes on that bright green colour, and well, cooked asparagus wouldn’t be presented in a bunch–it was definitely about the details. Life is in the details!

I think the key to making this cake look hyper-realistic, aside from the rolling and snipping, is the shading, which I achieved by brushing on a few different petal dust colours (those typically used to create very realistic sugar flowers) once the “asparagus” were dry–that is when this cake came to life. If you look at the photo above, you’ll see that, when I took that photo, I’d shaded the full spears but not the tips yet–do you see the dimension that gives? I think had I gone with the straight green and undusted asparagus on the cake, it would have looked like a neat cake that looks like a bundle of asparagus. By shading it all, it took it to looking much like an actual bundle of asparagus, which is what you want if you’re looking to wow some folks. I’ll tell you a secret: I continue to get very passionate emails from people who believe this cake is a farce, and who swear I have manipulated it, or the photos, in some way. They can’t believe that it’s not real asparagus and are so angry with me for trying to get away with Asparagus Cake fraud (who knew that was a thing?) that they send me hate mail. Can you imagine? I swear this to be true. So, I suppose the moral of the story here is that, if you want to make people really angry and get Asparagus Cake fraud hate mail too, you really better shade those spears!

Fondant Asparagus Cake via Sweetapolita

So, believe it or not, this cake is not difficult to make, and it’s a very simple process, albeit time consuming. Essentially, your making fondant asparagus and attaching them to the outside of a green cake, followed by covering the top of the cake with small 2″ fondant asparagus tips that fill in every inch of exposed cake on top. Once all of the spears and tips are on the cake, you will see it magically transform into a life-like bundle of asparagus. The finishing touch, for both function and form, is the ribbon–it holds the asparagus in place while they are setting on the cake (and while displayed), and it also mimics the string or elastic that typically ties real life bunches together.

If time is on your side, I recommend making your fondant asparagus over the course of days or even weeks, to break it up. Once made, you can keep them in a dry open-air spot, out of the sun, indefinitely. If you are creating the entire cake all at once, you would let the asparagus dry overnight, if possible, and then you would dust to shade them, and assemble. I covered my buttercream covered cake with green fondant, but you can also skip this step by colouring your buttercream green and simply pressing the asparagus straight onto the cake–this may even be easier, but I have yet to do it this way. Since wet fondant becomes a glue of sorts, attaching the asparagus to your fondant-covered cake does work. One thing I would do differently next time would be taper the tops of the full stalks a little less, so that there is no under-cake showing through. I think the slightly tapered top is important, but just a bit less would have been perfect.

A note about your choice of fondant for this cake: When I made this the second time (above), I used my favourite brand of fondant, Satin Ice. One of the reasons I normally love Satin Ice brand the best is because it dries the most porcelain-like on my cakes, but in this instance, for the fondant asparagus, I would have preferred them to be a little less porcelain like, as they were the first time I made the cake. I found they were so firm with the Satin Ice that they didn’t adhere to the cake as well as the first time I made the cake. So, in this case, I would recommend using any other brand for this project, as every other brand I’ve tried is softer, even when dry. This also makes slicing the cake a bit easier–that coupled with the fact that Satin Ice is the most $$, it’s just a great idea to avoid it for this cake.

Fondant Asparagus Cake via Sweetapolita

What you do on the inside of the cake is totally up to you, of course, but I personally feel that a rich dark chocolate cake, paired with vanilla buttercream offers a pleasing contrast for all of that green. And, as always, splitting your layers to create a 6 or even 8-layer cake will add even more drama to an already dramatic cake. This cake is just too much fun to not make. If you have someone in your life, like Mar, who is an asparagus-eating king or queen, then it just makes good sense.

A few more reasons for when to make this cake and have it make even a little bit of sense (Sweetapolita *chanting* let’s make, let’s make, let’s make an asparagus cake!):

  • For someone who simply takes healthy eating very seriously
  • For someone who just happens to love asparagus
  • Fitness enthusiasts
  • For kids! This is a hilarious joke to play on a kid who isn’t quite as passionate about vegetables as they are about cake–birthday or not
  • A garden party
  • For anyone who works with veggies for a living: chef, farmer, grocer
  • For those who love to garden
  • For a quirky wedding, garden wedding or groom’s cake (I almost cried when I saw this wedding online–oh, how perfect this cake would have been for them and their perfectly quirky wedding)
  • Just because!

So, now that we have many reasons to run to the kitchen and whip up this asparagus confection, let me explain how we do it. This may look like a lot of steps, but honestly, this cake isn’t about complexity, it’s about time. Sweet, precious time. Simply put, it takes a lot of it (how much time depends on how fast you work, of course), but it is pretty straightforward, and it’s worth it.

Here we go (and wheee!):

How to Make an Asparagus Cake         {click to print}

You will need:

  • a round layer cake–~4-5″ high and diameter up to you (the one in photo was 8″ round) either covered in green fondant (~1 lb + 12 oz) or green buttercream
  • fondant for asparagus (this depends on the size of your cake, but ~1.5 lbs–I recommend having an extra lb or more, just in case)
  • gel colours: AmeriColor Leaf Green, Sugarflair Gooseberry
  • petal dust colours: Foliage Green or Moss Green Petal Dust, African Violet Petal Dust, Flame Red Petal Dust
  • fondant work mat (I use Ateco 24 x 36 Inch Fondant Work Mat for all of my fondant work and more), optional
  • a small sharp knife
  • 3 wire racks or cookie sheets lined with parchment paper
  • pair of small scissors (such as manicure scissors you designate for food)
  • 3 small-medium paint brushes for dusting colour, 1 medium-large brush for water
  • ribbon of choice
  • cornstarch or icing sugar for dusting work surface (if not using fondant work mat)

Method

Make your fondant asparagus (you can make these as far in advance as you wish):

  1. Colour your fondant 3 shades of green using the AmeriColor Leaf Green & Sugarflair Gooseberry. Make 1/3  of your fondant 50/50, then make two additional shades: 1 with the slightest bit more Leaf Green and the final with the slightest bit more Gooseberry. Keep all your 3 shades of green fondant well-sealed (I use medium plastic seal bags) while not in use, and only work with small amounts at once.
  2. Removing only a golf-ball-sized bit of fondant from the bag, soften it by working it in your hands for a moment, and then, on a fondant work mat or clean countertop, roll into a long, even rope, about 1/2″ thick or so, using your hands or a cookie sheet (this creates a very even rope) in a back-and-forth rolling motion. *If your fondant sticks to your countertop, use a light dusting of icing sugar or cornstarch. If you use a fondant mat, you won’t have this issue.
  3. Cut into 5″ long pieces (you should get 3 or so per rope) and cut remaining “rope” into 2″ pieces. Using the palm of your hand, roll “neck’ of each piece gently, so that it tapers a small bit and then do the same to the very tip, so it becomes slightly pointed. Don’t worry if they aren’t all the exact same length, as we’ll be trimming them a bit before putting them on the cake.
  4. Working quickly, and while keeping the pieces on the counter, make many tiny snips the tapered ends of each piece and sporadically along the stalks. *Be sure to not actually cut the flaps of fondant off when using the scissors, as you want the little “triangle” flaps to pull away from the spear, but not come off. So now you have your first spears and tips (woohoo!). Now, simply repeat a few hundred times. Kidding! Sort of. Set each one on a wire rack or parchment-lined cookie sheet (they simply dry faster on rack, but if you are doing ahead of time, use cookie sheets as they are easy to move around) to dry. The quantity needed depends on the diameter of you cake and how thick you rolled your asparagus stalks. I believe I used about 75 full spears (for the outside of the cake) and ~400 tips to fill the center. Let dry overnight (or up to weeks in advance) in a cool, dry place–exposed to air.
  5. Using small dry paintbrushes, generously dust each spear with green dust at the tip and randomly over stalk (where you snipped), then with hints of African Violet and Flame Red. *Refer to your real bunch of asparagus as much as possible. You will be adding a final round of dust after the cake has been assembled, so you don’t need to go overboard with the dusting.
  6. Pat yourself on the back and celebrate with a fancy beverage of some kind, because the worst, my friends, is over–you have just made hundreds of fondant asparagus + tips!

Assemble the Asparagus Cake:

  1. Cover your cake in either green vanilla buttercream or vanilla buttercream covered with green fondant. *I used green fondant that I coloured white fondant using leaf green to gooseberry green 50/50. Don’t stress too much about your fondant or buttercream job being perfect, because not one inch of this part of the cake will be visible, but do your best to start with a fairly smooth and even surface. Place cake on the plate or pedestal you plan to serve it on, and chill cake for 30 minutes, or so.
  2. If you finished your cake with green vanilla buttercream, that will essentially be your glue–you can go ahead and places your full spears, one by one, directly around the cake, as close together as possible. You may want to trim the bottom of certain spears before sticking them to the cake, to ensure they all sit at the same height–you want your spears to sit about 2″ above the top of your cake (see photo). If you finished your cake with green fondant, you will use a medium-large paint brush or pastry brush and wet sections of the cake before gently pressing the asparagus to the sides–the wet fondant is your glue. You may have to hold each one or few for a moment until it sticks, or tie a ribbon around the outside of the spears and cake to set (see photo).
  3. Once you have placed spears all the way around the perimeter of the cake, tie the ribbon firmly around the cake to help them set.
  4. You will now place the tips tightly together on the top of the cake, one by one. Remember that you don’t want any of the under-cake exposed, as this is what makes it look so real. Fill every inch you can with the tips, trimming the bottoms before placing on the cake, if necessary (you want them to be as close to the same height as possible).
  5. Add any last shading with your petal dusts to enhance the tips, bases and spots where you snipped.
  6. Voila! Now, please, have another fancy beverage and piece of cake to celebrate (Asparagus Cake, anyone?). You did it!

Sweetapolita’s Notes for a successful Asparagus Cake:

  • Use real asparagus as your guide–this was key for me. Had I gone by memory, I never would have thought to include red and purple shading, which I think makes it.
  • Make all of the spears fairly consistent (in terms of length and diameter), but each one should be slightly different (shading, snips, etc)–think organic shapes and colours–not overly engineered.
  • Sugarflair Gooseberry green gel is the best I’ve found for a realistic green shade of base fondant. If you can’t find this, try adding a tiny bit of black to your Leaf Green colour gel, or experiment with mixing different shades of green.
  • Shading, shading, shading–this gives the cake that real trompe l’oeil dimension that freaks people out (hehe).

Love Asparagus? Check out these lovely handmade asparagus finds:

Good luck, enjoy & Happy Asparagus Cake Day (not really, but imagine if I had the power to create such a thing?)!

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