6-Layer Neapolitan Macaron Delight Cake

Neapolitan Macaron Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

Well, all I can say is thank-the-cake-fairies that Neapolitan will never be oh-so-vanilla. It’s nearly impossible to get tired of making, serving, seeing, or eating anything with the beloved trio of chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla. But since it’s such a classic, and many bakers love to create Neapolitan-themed treats, it never hurts to put a new spin on things. I’ve had some fun with this idea before with the Inside-Out Neapolitan Cake, which was a combination of chocolate butter cake with a trio of strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream flavours. I’ve also made it with a more classic flavoured cake layers variation with the Neapolitan 5-Layer Birthday Cake with Strawberry Frosting, which is perfectly delightful, but this time I wanted to kick it up a notch and make it a bit more unique and decadent. And since that’s what I love to do, I did!

Neapolitan Macaron Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

This time I opted to split the layers into 6 (one of the easiest ways to add instant wow-factor to a cake), fill them with dark chocolate ganache, strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream, vanilla Swiss buttercream, and whole neapolitan macarons. I frosted the entire cake with chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream, and then added a pink glaze for drama and topped with more of the macarons and a few small pink sugar beads. As with this lemony blueberry cake I made awhile back, the macarons add the most amazing texture inside the cake, as well as a unique visual when the cake is sliced. The distinct macaron crunch & chew factor is the perfect match for the rich and decadent ganache, satiny buttercream frosting, and of course the deep, dark, and moist chocolate cake. [Read more…]

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Birthday Party Ice Cream Cake + Tales of July

Birthday Party Ice Cream Cake via Sweetapolita

Hello my friends!

I’m happy to report that I lived to tell the story of July 2014.

Here are a few of the adventures that have been going on in my world during the past month:

1. I shot the cover of my book! This was a lot of pressure, in a way, but I think it’s super-fun and I hope you love it. Speaking of the book, let me tell you that this crazy book o’ sugary delights is officially called The Sweetapolita Bakebook. Hooray! And while I will be sharing many more detailed posts about the book, I can tell you that, even though it is still several months from release (April 7th, 2015), it is already available for pre-order in many online shops! You can find it for an amazing price on Amazon.com in the US: The Sweetapolita Bakebook, or if you are here in Canada with me, you can pre-order on Amazon.ca or Indigo.

For my international friends, there are already many options for online pre-ordering, such as amazon.co.uk (UK), amazon.es (Spain), and many more! You’ll notice that the cover has not yet been “revealed,” on these listings, but that is soon to come. I will also be sharing that here with a whole bunch of fun details about the book itself.

2. I turned 40. Oh right, that. But I’m okay! And because I’m all cake-backwards in life, I eat it all year long and get excited to eat some other form of dessert on my birthday. Last year was lemon meringue pie from Betty’s in Niagara Falls (and no, I didn’t buy a slice, I bought the entire pie). This year was the most decadent of apple caramel crumbles with vanilla bean ice cream. Now I’m back to cake. But you know, 40 isn’t so bad. Since the girls are a bit bigger now, I’m finding that I have more time to do the little things that being busy and in your thirties with babies doesn’t necessarily allow for–things like painting my nails (often), shopping (and not in the kids’ section at Target), organizing my life and closets, doing what I love to do in the kitchen, and more. I think it’s going to be a decade of strength, change, adventure and, well, more cake. Oh, and possibly more of these.

Sweetapolita

3. I had a super-fun photo shoot done for my author photo and such (above), by the talented Wendy & Michael Lewicki from Wendy Alana Photography near Toronto (you might also know Michael from his incredible blog, Verses from my Kitchen). I fell in love with Wendy’s style, and couldn’t wait to shoot with them. Just as I suspected, they are amazing people in “real life”–warm, talented, kind, and just the kind of people you want to be around. Even with dark skies, severe heat and humidity in the kitchen during shoot, and the impending storm outside during the shoot, they pulled off some serious magic. I can’t wait to work with them again!

4. My sister-in-law got married! And my cakelets were (the world’s cutest) flower girls. And I was a bridesmaid (are you still allowed to be called a “bridesmaid” when you’re 40?). Oh, and I made a trio of three-tiered vintage-inspired pastel ruffle wedding cakes for the occasion. It was a big, happy, stunningly beautiful, pastel-blue-and-green day! Congratulations, Mary & Ted! ♥ [Read more…]

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Barbie Cake + Meringue Girls Book Giveaway!

Barbie Cake via Sweetapolita

Hello, my friends!

So there’s a series of words I never imagined using in the same sentence: chocolate, beet, cake, meringue, and Barbie! But yes. Oh yes. Now it just seems perfectly natural–necessary even–to combine them all.

As a child of the 70s, I’m no stranger to doll cakes, but I have never had the joy of making one, particularly one of this magnitude. That was until I came across the recipe in a new baking book I absolutely adore: Meringue Girls: Incredible Sweets Everybody Cake Make by Alex Hoffler and Stacey O’Gorman. What a visual delight! I’ve always been a meringue enthusiast, but I have to say that these girls have taken meringues, and all things meringue, to an entirely new level.

Meringue Girls Cookbook

So if the cover doesn’t have you giddy, the recipes and images throughout the book are sure to. And while the cover of a cookbook can sometimes be a little misleading, in this case the entire book lives up to the awesome package: it’s filled to the brim with unique, vibrant, and easy to follow meringue recipes and useful techniques for foolproof meringue (we’ve all had our fair share of meringue mishaps, no?). As you probably know, I’m a meringue enthusiast, but even for those of you who haven’t ventured too far down meringue lane, I have a feeling this book will inspire you more than you might expect.

The “Meringue Girls” take us through the basics first–making the perfect batch of meringue every time, countless flavouring ideas (think Hot Cross Bun, Manuka Honey, Lavender, and more), and super-awesome colouring techniques, like “striping,” as I did here with the Barbie Cake meringue “kisses,” as they call them. They then delight us through different chapters of unexpected and irresistible meringue recipes, such as the cutest rainbow cake in the universe–the Meringue Rainbow Cake, the decadent Ferrero Rocher Meringue Tower, the unbelievably tempting Honeycomb, Chocolate, Salted Peanut Meringues (um, hello!), and so much more. Can you tell I’m totally smitten with this book? [Read more…]

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KitchenAid Mixer Giveaway + A Sweetapolita Book Update

Sweetapolita Giveaway Hi friends!

Just when I said that I was “back” on a regular basis, I got swooped up by another frenzy of book stuff, but I’m excited to report that I have done all of my final photos and most of the main edits, so this time I really am back!

I’m also excited to tell you that my book is scheduled to come out on April 7th, 2015! That does seem like quite some time away, but I just know it will be here in a blink. I can’t wait to reveal all of the sweets and treats and I’ve been working so hard on for the past 15 months. While I’ll keep the details a surprise, just know that, aside from tons of my favourite basic recipes for creating your own designs, this book of mine includes imaginative decorated cookies, layer cakes, tiered cakes, sweets for cakelets, and sprinkles galore!

In celebration of completing the book, I’m giving away this amazing KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Quart Mixer in “Ice”–one of my favourite colours in the universe. Hooray!

Sweetapolita Giveaway

Prettiest mixer ever. ♥

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck, and I will be back next week with *the* most adorable cake from one of my favourite new cookbooks!

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{My Favourite} Chocolate Party Cupcakes with Vanilla Swirl Frosting

Chocolate Party Cupcakes with Vanilla Swirl Frosting

While these cupcakes aren’t anything super-frilly or fancy, they are my best-loved and most-baked treat, so it seemed only natural to share them with you. This past weekend we celebrated my sweet cakelet Reese’s 7th birthday (how is this possible–didn’t she just turn 4 and decorate this Rainbow Doodle Cake?), and we had almost 20 little girls are her party. I made a really neat rainbow vanilla cake for the girls, but because Reese loves chocolate cake and cupcakes best, I made a few dozen of these rich, dark chocolaty cupcakes and topped them with fluffy, creamy swirls of blue-ish frosting and colourful quin sprinkles.

Aside from being perfectly party-pretty, the cupcakes are incredibly moist and not overly sweet, and the frosting is whipped to an airy consistency ideal for piping higher swirls (a denser sugary frosting with these generous swirls could be buttercream-overkill).

Chocolate Party Cupcakes with Vanilla Swirl Frosting

Reese and I thought it would be pretty to create a bit of pastel swirly effect with a mix of white, turquoise and a pastel shade of sky blue (kind of reminiscent of the Pastel Swirl Cake). To keep it easy, I simply divided the frosting into 3 parts, tinted 2 and left one the creamy white colour, and then scooped a bit of each colour into a large piping bag fitted with Ateco swirly decorating tip #887 for billowy swirls.  Really quick and easy, and even kid-friendly.

You can certainly use any array of colours you wish, but just note that because the frosting is doing a lot of blending during the piping process, you might want to stick with different shades and tones of the same hue for the most part, and maybe incorporate one other colour at the most (I love purple or bright pink with these colours).

Chocolate Party Cupcakes with Vanilla Swirl Frosting

Because the cupcakes are a one-bowl situation, they couldn’t be simpler. And to really get that enchanting dark-as-night chocolate colour, be sure to use a quality dark cocoa powder. I’ve also modified this recipe to include a very generous dose of the cocoa powder, ensuring an ultimate chocolate cupcake. For the frosting, well, it’s a version of the sweet frosting I’ve used many times here on the blog, but the secrets are using the best pure vanilla extract you can find, and the extensive whipping. You’ll get some air bubbles, but it’s worth it for the fluffy, dreamy texture. Simply use a rubber spatula to beat the frosting back-and-forth a bit to knock out of the bubbles, and it will be ready for piping swirls aplenty.

Chocolate Party Cupcakes with Vanilla Swirl Frosting

I think every baker needs a go-to chocolate cupcake and party frosting, and I don’t think I could live without this combination. My non cake-eating husband can’t even resist these, and neither can I (believe it or not, I’m actually really particular with the cake and cupcakes I’ll eat). So easy, so beloved. The recipe is for 12 cupcakes, but this recipe can easily be doubled or even tripled–you’ll thank me!

Chocolate Party Cupcakes with Vanilla Swirl Frosting

Cakelets and cupcakes. ♥

Chocolate Party Cupcakes with Vanilla Swirl Frosting

Ingredients

    For the cupcakes:
  • 3/4 cup (95 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) superfine sugar
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) dark Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) coffee, hot
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • For the frosting:
  • 1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups (375 grams) confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons (45 ml) milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Few drops AmeriColor gel paste food colour in Turquoise and Sky Blue
  • Sprinkles

Instructions

    For the cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 360° F. Line a standard cupcake pan with your favourite cupcake liners.
  2. In the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, coffee, oil, egg and vanilla.
  4. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and whisk until smooth, about 1 minute. Divide batter among the liners (about 3/4 full).
  5. Bake until a wooden pick inserted into the centre of the cupcake comes out with a only a few crumbs, about 18-20 minutes. Try not to over-bake. Let cupcakes cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, and then turn onto rack to cool completely.
  6. For the frosting:
  7. In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until very light and fluffy, about 6 minutes.
  8. Add confectioners' sugar, milk, vanilla, and salt, and beat on low speed until well combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat until very light and fluffy once again, about 6 more minutes.
  9. Decorate the cupcakes:
  10. Divide the frosting into 3 parts. Tint one part of the frosting bright turquoise using Turquoise, one part pastel blue using Sky Blue, and leave the remaining part white.
  11. Into a medium or large pastry bag fitted with a large closed star tip (or swirl tip, such as #887), add a spatula-full of each frosting colour. Twist the top of the bag and pipe a generous swirl on each cupcake, working in a circular motion from the outside in. Top with sprinkles.
  12. The cupcakes will keep at room temperature in a container with some airflow for up to 3 days.
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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

Good luck & enjoy!

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