Raspberry Neapolitan Party Cake

Raspberry Neapolitan Cake via Sweetapolita

Neapolitan is one of those words that makes me feel like a little girl the moment I hear it or think about it. And while I never actually ate Neapolitan cake as a child, I ate my fair share of Neapolitan ice cream (well, just the vanilla portion anyway). Chocolate and/or strawberry ice cream just wasn’t (and still isn’t) my thing, but I sure have fond memories of the visual — that big frozen block of tri-colour loveliness meant one thing and one thing only: a party (and where there was ice cream, there was usually cake).

And the thing is, you can really create so many variations using the beloved chocolate, strawberry and vanilla combination — remember this and these? Endless fun.

Raspberry Neapolitan Cake via Sweetapolita

So, because I’d never done it before, I decided to switch up the strawberry with raspberry for this version, and rather than use a “pink” cake layer, just filled the cake with the fruity raspberry Swiss buttercream and compote, and then covered it all in a mix of dark chocolate buttercream, vanilla and more of the raspberry. The cake does take a bit of time to make because there are four components, but it comes together surprisingly quickly — especially if you make the raspberry compote and Swiss buttercream ahead of time.

The frosting job was a little more rustic looking than originally planned, but I hadn’t done it this way before, and had a vision. But once I started frosting it, I was worried that if I kept smoothing for more of a blended look (like this, this and this cake), my chocolate and vanilla would soon look like chanilla, which I imagine to be a little less than magical (although I bet it would still taste pretty delightful). This sort of sectioned style of frosting the cake reminded me of the block of childhood ice cream I mentioned above, so I stuck with that.

Bunting via Sweetapolita

And nothing says party like a tiny cake bunting, right?  This is one that I had from several years ago that was actually one single garland, but I just re-purposed it by tying it to two white lollipop sticks. You’ve likely seen cake bunting all over Pinterest and the like, and you can either MacGvyer your own (pretty much anything colourful tied between two sticks and stuck in the cake would look charming) using twine, string, cord, etc. or buy one of the seemingly endless versions on Etsy.

Raspberry Neapolitan Cake via Sweetapolita

Party for one?

Raspberry Neapolitan Party Cake via Sweetapolita

Like a playful (and decadent) trip to childhood and back.

And before I go, I’d love to share my recent interview over at Best Friends For Frosting with you, where I got a chance to chat about my past life, balance and avoiding weight gain while surrounded by baked goods all day! ♥

Raspberry Neapolitan Party Cake

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

Alternating layers of moist vanilla and dark chocolate cake, filled with raspberry Swiss meringue buttercream and smothered in a trio of dark chocolate, vanilla and raspberry buttercream.

Ingredients

    For the Chocolate Cake:
  • 1-3/4 cups (225 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (120 g) Cacao Barry Extra Brute Cocoa Powder
  • 2 teaspoons (11 g) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (4 g) salt
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (240 ml) strong black coffee or espresso, hot
  • 1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • For the Vanilla Cake:
  • 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk, at room temperature
  • 4 large egg whites (130 g), at room temperature
  • 1 whole egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.75 ml) almond extract
  • 2-1/2 cups (288 g) cake flour, sifted
  • 1-1/2 cups (300 g) sugar
  • 1-1/4 tablespoons (16 g) baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (6 grams)
  • 1-1/2 sticks (170 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes
  • For the Raspberry Compote:
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries, divided
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) superfine or granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoons (15 ml) lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) water
  • Pinch of salt
  • For the Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
  • 8 large fresh egg whites (240 g)
  • 2 cups (500 g) superfine granulated sugar
  • 5 sticks (575 g) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2.5 oz (75 g) premium dark or extra dark chocolate, melted and cooled
  • Few drops pink soft gel paste colour

Instructions

    For the Chocolate Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease, line with parchment and flour two round 8-inch pans. I use Parchment Paper Circles for ease.
  2. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift all dry ingredients. In a large measuring cup, combine eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla.
  3. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredient mixture to the dry ingredients, increasing the speed to medium. Mix for 1-1/2 minutes (you may need the plastic splash-guard that comes with mixer) and divide among prepared pans (each pan will weigh ~590 g).
  4. Bake until toothpick or skewer comes out with a few crumbs, about 25 minutes. Try not to overbake. Cool on wire racks in pans for 15 minutes then gently invert onto racks until completely cool.
  5. For the Vanilla Cake:
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease, line with parchment and flour two round 8-inch pans. I use Parchment Paper Circles for ease.
  7. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir 1/3 cup of the milk, egg whites, whole egg, vanilla and the almond extract. Set aside.
  8. Sift cake flour twice. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients, including the sugar, together on low-speed (I use the “stir” setting on my mixer) for 30 seconds.
  9. Add the butter blending on low-speed for about 30 seconds, then add remaining milk, and mix on low-speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 1-1/2 minutes (90 seconds), but no more.
  10. Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg/milk/extract mixture in 3 separate batches; beat on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition.
  11. Pour 1/2 of your batter (445 g) into each prepared pan, spreading it evenly with a small offset palette knife. If possible, weigh the batter in the pans to ensure 2 even layers.
  12. Bake cake layers two-at-a-time in center of oven and 2" apart for 20 minutes or until a cake tester comes clean when inserted into the center. Be so careful to not over-bake. Check cake at 20 minutes, but not before, and once you feel it’s almost ready, set the timer for 2 minute intervals. Let cool on racks for 10 minutes before loosening the sides with a small metal spatula, and invert onto greased wire racks. Gently turn cakes back up, so the tops are up and cool completely.
  13. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days, refrigerator for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 2 months. Best enjoyed day 1 or 2.
  14. For the Raspberry Compote:
  15. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine 1-1/2 cups of the raspberries, sugar, lemon juice, water, and salt until the berries start to break down, stirring often, about 10 minutes.
  16. Lower the heat and simmer until compote coats a spoon, about 15 minutes.
  17. Remove from heat and let cool down slightly. Using an immersion blender (carefully) or counter-top blender, pulse until smooth. Push compote through a fine mesh sieve into a clean glass bowl and discard the seeded pulp from the sieve. Stir in remaining raspberries. Keep covered and chilled for up to 3 days.
  18. For the Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
  19. Wipe the bowl and whisk 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.
  20. Place bowl back on mixer and fit with whisk attachment. Whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch (this can take up to 15 minutes, or longer). Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add softened butter one tablespoon 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).
  21. Add vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.
  22. Assembly of the Raspberry Neapolitan Party Cake:
  23. Divide buttercream in half. Add 3 tablespoons (one tablespoon at a time) of the raspberry compote to one half, along with a few drops of pink gel colour (if desired). Set aside.
  24. Take half of the remaining buttercream and add the melted chocolate, stirring until well incoporated. Leave the final portion of buttercream vanilla.
  25. Using a cake turntable if possible, place first chocolate cake layer face-up on a cake plate, cake board or pedestal and cover with ~3/4 cup of raspberry buttercream, spreading with a small offset palette knife, leaving about 1" clearance around the edges. Carefully place a few spoonfuls of compote on top, keeping it in the middle.
  26. Place a vanilla cake layer face-up on top and repeat with buttercream/compote. Repeat until you come to the final chocolate cake layer, which you will place face-down. Cover cake in plastic wrap, then use your hands to straighten any leaning or layers that aren't lined up. Chill for 30 minutes.
  27. Remove from refrigerator, remove wrap and cover cake a very thin layer of the vanilla buttercream. Chill for another 30 minutes.
  28. Cover top of cake with a smooth layer of raspberry buttercream (extending it over the edges), bottom third of the cake with chocolate buttercream and remaining area with vanilla buttercream. Using a medium straight spatula (or similar tool), smooth buttercream over the cake and create a blended look.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by ZipList Recipe Plugin
http://sweetapolita.com/2013/03/raspberry-neapolitan-party-cake/

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • You can make the raspberry compote from fresh or frozen raspberries, and can make up to 3 days ahead of time (keep chilled). 
  • You can make the cake layers a day ahead, wrapping them well in plastic wrap and leaving at room temperature.
  • You can make the Swiss meringue buttercream up to a week ahead and leave in the refrigerator, bringing to room temperature the night before you need it. You can microwave 1/3 of it for about 10 seconds, add it to the remaining buttercream and either whip in the mixer or with a rubber spatula until smooth and creamy.
  • You can also freeze the Swiss meringue buttercream for up to a month, bringing to room temperature straight from freezer.
  • You can also pre-flavour the buttercream before freezing/refrigerating.
  • The cake bunting in the photos was a bunting I had from a previous party –I trimmed it and tied to two lollipop sticks.
  • This cake can be left out for a day, but should be refrigerated after that and brought back to room temperature before serving (I recommend bringing it out about 4-5 hours before serving.

Good luck & enjoy!

Related posts:

Vanilla Cream-Filled Double Chocolate Cake for Two

Vanilla Cream-Filled Cake for Two via Sweetapolita

Hi, guys! This post might be a teaser of sorts with its iPhone-only photos, but the good news is that this recipe is one that I couldn’t go another day without sharing. I had planned to do “official” photos of this cake, and I still might when I make it again for my man on Valentine’s Day, but for now let’s talk about how much I want you to make this cake. (I also think this is perfect best-friend-sharing cake for two!)

What exactly is going on in that little 5″ round tower of gooey decadence? It’s 6 layers of a deep, dark (super-moist) chocolate chip devil’s food cake stacked and filled with a fluffy vanilla cream and smothered in a glossy, satiny, super-chocolaty glaze. I say it’s “for two,” but of course you both might surrender before  it’s all done and save some for later. You can smother it in the glaze and then let it set, but I think it’s much sexier and decadent to pour the warm gooey glaze all over it and embrace the messy deliciousness digging right in — this is no time for cutting pristine slices.

I made this little super-simple chalkboard cake topper to profess my love by cutting out two chalkboard labels with a tag cutter (but you could use scissors) and taping to each side of bamboo skewer that I cut to size. So easy!

And this is one of those cakes that you can infinitely modify with new flavours. I love the idea of adding liqueur to the glaze (I did Grand Marnier for a hint of orange), and you can even go ahead and add some orange zest to the cream filling. I love the idea of an espresso theme — you could add Kahlua to the glaze, and even add a bit of coffee extract to the cream filling. What I do recommend, though, is always using the best chocolate you can, especially with the glaze. I used an extra dark chocolate with 72% cocoa solids, but you can use any kind you like. You’ll just want to stay away from milk chocolate, as it’s just a bit too sweet for this kind of glaze.

I opted out of using a ganache (chocolate and heavy cream) because the cake filling is made from heavy cream, and I find that much ganache on top of this much cake and cream filling a bit over the top, but you could definitely give that a try if you’re feeling rebellious. The glaze is made from chocolate, butter, a bit of light corn syrup, splash of liqueur (optional) and a pinch of sea salt (I also love how easy it is to make.) and, like ganache, takes to pretty much any flavouring you love.

So you might see another version of this cake soon, along with a few other upcoming cake delights, but in the meantime here is the recipe for this ooey gooey, super-chocolaty cake for two. Oh, and if you’d like to check out me digging into this cake for real (and I realize it’s just me . . . not two), you can watch it here, taken via my new favourite iPhone app, “Vine.” An app kind of like Instagram, but rather than viewing snippets of life in images, you see 6-second looped video clips — way too much fun. ♥

Vanilla Cream-Filled Double Chocolate Cake for Two

Yield: One 6-layer, 5-inch round cake

Moist, dark and decadent chocolate chip devil's food cake stacked high and filled with vanilla cream and covered in a rich and super chocolaty glaze . . . for two.

Ingredients

    For the Cake:
  • 1 stick (115 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1-1/3 cups (300 g) packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (145 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) Dutch-process dark cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon (4 g) baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon (6 g) kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) buttermilk, shaken and warm
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) coffee or espresso
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup premium dark or extra dark chocolate chips
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) white vinegar
  • For the Vanilla Cream Filling:
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) cold water
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) unflavoured gelatin (such as Knox brand)
  • 1-3/4 cups (420 ml) whipping cream (35-37% fat), cold, divided
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • For the Chocolate Glaze:
  • 6 oz (180 g) premium dark or extra dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 stick (115 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) light corn syrup
  • Splash of liqueur of choice, optional (grand marnier, spiced rum, kahlua, etc.)
  • Pinch of sea salt (regular salt, if necessary)

Instructions

    For the Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter three 5-inch round cake pans, line with parchment rounds, and dust with flour, tapping out the excess.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar and vanilla on medium-high speed until lighter in color and slightly increased in volume, about 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each is fully incorporated before adding the next.
  3. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into a medium bowl. Add the salt to the dry ingredients after sifting, and whisk dry ingredients.
  4. In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the coffee and buttermilk. Alternate dry ingredients and buttermilk mixture into creamed mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated, then fold mayonnaise into batter with a whisk, until just blended. Fold in chocolate chips. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and baking soda (it will foam) and quickly add to batter, mixing until just combined.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. If possible, weigh the batter in each cake pan for 275 g each (excluding the pans--you will want to tare the scale each time.) This ensures even layers. Smooth with small offset palette knife, and bake for about 25 minutes, rotating once after 20 minutes. Cake is done when toothpick or skewer comes out clean. Try not to over-bake.
  6. Let pans cool on wire rack for 20 minutes, then invert cakes onto racks, gently, peeling away parchment rounds. Let cool completely.
  7. For the Vanilla Cream Filling:
  8. In a small bowl, place the cold water and sprinkle with the gelatin. Let sit for at least 10 minutes. In a small saucepan, bring 1/3 cup of the cream just to a simmer, then stir into the gelatin mixture. Refrigerate, stirring frequently, until cool but not set, about 8 minutes.
  9. In a chilled stainless steel bowl, beat the remaining whipping cream, icing sugar, vanillla and salt until it thickens slightly and soft peaks form. Very gradually add the gelatin mixture and continue beating until medium-firm peaks form (should be thick enough to spread). Keep covered and chilled until ready to use.
  10. For the Chocolate Glaze:
  11. Place the chocolate, butter and corn syrup in a medium heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering (not boiling) water. Stir the mixture using a rubber spatula until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in liqueur and salt.
  12. Assembly of the Vanilla Cream-Filled Double Chocolate Cake for Two:
  13. Cut your 3 cake layers each once horizontally with a long, serrated knife, so you have a total of 6 layers.
  14. Place your first layer face-up on a plate and cover with an even thin layer of the Vanilla Cream Filling, taking it right to the edge. Place another cake layer face-up and spread another layer of the filling on top. Repeat until you come to your final cake layer, which you will place face-down. If you find the cake too soft and unstable, put in refrigerator for a few moments to firm it up, then resume.
  15. Cover the entire cake gently with plastic wrap, and then, once covered, use your hands to carefully ensure the cake is lined up straight. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
  16. Pour the warm chocolate glaze all over cake. Dig in.

Notes

[vanilla cream filling adapted from Bon Appetit Desserts]

Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by ZipList Recipe Plugin
http://sweetapolita.com/2013/02/vanilla-cream-filled-double-chocolate-cake-for-two/

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • I used three 5 x 2 Inch Round Cake Pan for this cake. These pans are super cute and so handy for small layers cakes. It feels unnatural spending money on three of the same pan at first, but it’s so worth it if you like building multi-layer cakes. 
  • I used 72% Bittersweet Chocolate  for my chocolate chips in the cake itself and the glaze, which really a dark and intense chocolate. You can use any premium dark or extra dark chocolate you might have on hand or prefer.
  • I use this MAC Knife for all of my cake layering. It’s super sharp and makes clean cake layers, ideal for building not-so-crumby layer cakes.
  • I recommend chilling the wrapped cake layers for about 30 minutes before slicing them to build the cake, and then chilling the filled cake (you can carefully cover with plastic wrap) for about an hour before covering with the glaze and eating. It’s not required, but if you find your cake is wobbly, this helps set the filling, keeping it more stable.
  • Leftover cake (is there such a thing?) should be refrigerated, because of the whipped cream filling and served at room temperature. I love this chocolate cake because it stays unthinkably moist even after refrigeration.
  • For the cake topper, I used this Tag Punch and cut from something similar to this Black Chalkboard Vinyl and then just trimmed the end for a plain rectangle. (The tag punch is also awesome for making these photo gift tags, among other fun ideas.)

Good luck & enjoy!

Related posts:

The Perfect Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookie

Perfect Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookie via Sweetapolita

Happy November to you!

That’s it. I’ve officially got the November-but-soon-to-be-December-cookie-making itch. Don’t you? My favourite cookies to make, bake and create with are sugar cookies. Variation is great too, but in the end I just love a perfect little sugar cookie. That’s not to say I love every sugar cookie, but the right sugar cookie has my heart. It has to buttery, slightly crispy, full of either pure vanilla or deep dark chocolate flavour, and absolutely must keeps its shape when baked.

Perfect Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookie via Sweetapolita

If you’ve read my previous post about The Perfect Sugar Cookie (and Cookie Pop), you know that I have a best-loved vanilla sugar cookie recipe (and technique for rolling and baking to ensure they keep their shape). So when I make the chocolate version, I use almost the same recipe, but I add some extra sugar (brown), premium dark cocoa powder, and an extra egg to make up for it. (I omit the lemon extract). And just like that they are the deepest of chocolate with the same delightful buttery, slightly-crispiness as the vanilla version. Doesn’t the cookie dough look so dark and decadent?

As for decorating these, anything goes of course. I love the visual of a pastel icing or fondant on a deep, dark cookie and, just as the vanilla version, they are perfect for cookie pops too. (You can learn about how to do that in the same post). Although the recipe helps keeps them from expanding, it’s the process that is key, in my opinion. It’s all about the chilling the dough, rolling it and chilling again before cutting shapes, then chilling (almost freezing) the shapes before baking. This will add to the baking time compared to other sugar cookie recipes, but it makes all the difference. Just make sure to bake the cookies long enough (even if it feels as though they’re taking forever), so that they are crispy on the edges, but not burnt. Burnt chocolate cookies can make you shiver–and not in a good way.

So albeit a simple and no-bells-and-whistles recipe, it’s only the beginning of countless (fabulous) chocolaty cookie designs. ♥

Perfect Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookies

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

Buttery, crisp and super-chocolaty, these sugar cookies are ideal for decorating, snacking, tea-time or gifting. If the steps are followed, they will keep their shapes well and won't expand while baking.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups (750 g) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1-1/4 cups (137 g) dark cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon (8 g) salt
  • 2 cups (454 g)(4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (228 g) light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs, cold
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. In large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.
  2. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until fluffy and pale, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs until just combined.
  3. Add flour mixture and mix on low speed until thoroughly combined. Add vanilla and blend.
  4. Remove 1/2 of dough from bowl, make a ball, and place on a large piece of plastic wrap on counter.Wrap the sides of wrap over the ball, then press down with the palm of your hand and make a disc about 2" thick. Finish wrapping the disc with the plastic wrap. Repeat with 2nd half of dough. Chill both discs of dough for about 45 minutes.
  5. Remove one disc and remove plastic wrap. Place on top of a large piece of parchment paper (I use a silicone rolling mat underneath to ensure it doesn't slip while rolling, but you can even dampen counter so the parchment sticks a bit.), then place two 1/4" wooden dowels on either side of your dough, then another sheet of parchment paper.
  6. Roll dough (this will require a bit of elbow grease for the first few minutes until it softens up a bit) so it's flush with dowels--they will ensure that your dough is even thickness.
  7. Preheat your oven to 325° F. Slide your parchment paper and dough onto a board, then place in refrigerator for about 15 minutes.
  8. Remove from fridge, and cut your shapes using the cutters of your choice, placing them on a baker's half sheet lined with a silicone baking mat (or parchment), with 2" clearance around each one and the edge of sheet. Place sheet with cookies into freezer for 15 minutes before baking. Bake until cookie edges are just crisp, about 16 minutes.
  9. Cool sheets on wire racks for 10 minutes, then gently remove cookies and place on wire racks to finish cooling.

Notes

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

Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by ZipList Recipe Plugin
http://sweetapolita.com/2012/11/the-perfect-dark-chocolate-sugar-cookies/

Sweetapolita’s Notes:
Good luck & enjoy!

Related posts:

Triple-Chocolate Sprinkle Birthday Cookies

Triple Chocolate Sprinkle Cookies via Sweetapolita

Happy Friday!

So since my last post, our littlest cakelet, Neve Winter (aka Lovie) turned 3. How is this possible, you ask? And that just yesterday she was a baby, you say, celebrating her very first birthday? And that I just posted this wee cake for her 2nd birthday? I know–it’s kooky the way time flies. Well, it’s true and what a curious, hilarious and lovie-licious little cakelet she has become. You might have noticed that she’s all me (sorry, Grant!) and even though I’m only 25% Irish, I can’t help but sense she’s a true Irish cakelet–everything from the hair to her humour, she’s got so much of my mom’s side of the family in her. Here are a few images from the past 3 years that I feel really capture her:

Sweetapolita

Sweetapolita

Ruffles & Roses Tea Party via Sweetapolita

Sweetapolita

Sweet, sensitive, mysterious, mischievous, happy and humourous — that’s our Neve. ♥

When it was time to decide what birthday treats to make for her, of course my first instinct was cake (which I did do a few days after because, let’s be honest, birthday cake isn’t optional), but the truth is I am literally always making cake with the girls, and so albeit backwards, I felt that for her actual birthday, perhaps a real treat would be something we rarely make: decadent cookies.

Triple Chocolate Sprinkle Cookies via Sweetapolita

Now the thing about Neve’s birthday is that it happened to be the same week as Reese’s first week in Senior Kindergarten and first day of ballet class, so there was a lot of excitement twirling, whirling and swirling around the house. I wanted to make a special treat that would make both of them happy, and Reese suggested “super chocolaty cookies with chocolate chips,” and Neve decided they should be “really sprinkly.”

Done, and done.

Triple Chocolate Sprinkle Cookies via Sweetapolita

So we made super fudgy chocolate cookies using Callebaut melted bittersweet chocolate callets, Cacao Barry Extra Dark cocoa powder and more bittersweet chocolate callets, butter, brown sugar, pure vanilla and more, and then we made a quick and easy dark chocolate glaze using more butter and chocolate. Finally, we covered them in a sprinkle medley and edible gold stars. Everybody wins!

Neve had a few mini birthday celebrations filled with family, chocolate, sprinkles, cookies . . .

Birthday morning fairy bread  . . .

And one seriously chocolate cake a few days later while she and her Grandpa celebrated their birthdays together (recipe to follow!).

These cookies are certainly decadent with their rich, fudgy, chocolaty, gooey, crunchy, sprinkly-ness, but I won’t lie–I love how quick and easy they are to make. ♥

Happy Birthday to our little cakelet, and Happy Weekend to you!

Here’s the recipe:

Triple-Chocolate Sprinkle Birthday Cookies

Yield: 12 medium cookies

Ingredients

    For the cookies:
  • 1-1/2 cups (280 grams) quality bittersweet (extra dark) chocolate, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons (45 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (215 grams) light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups (200 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons (15 grams) Dutch-processed dark cocoa powder (I use Cacao Barry Extra Brute)
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 grams) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) sea salt
  • For the glaze:
  • 3/4 cup (140 grams) quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) light corn syrup
  • For decorating:
  • Sprinkles of choice

Instructions

    Make the cookies:
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or a Silpat baking mat.
  2. Place 1 cup of the chocolate and the butter in a medium heatproof bowl over a saucepan of an inch of simmering (not boiling) water, stirring occasionally until melted and smooth. Meanwhile, sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or handheld mixer), beat the sugar, eggs and vanilla on medium speed, until well-combined. Add the chocolate mixture and beat until combined. Reduce mixer speed to low, and gradually add the dry mixture until everything is incorporated, occasionally scraping sides of bowl with a rubber spatula. Stir in remaining chocolate pieces/chips.
  4. Using two spoons or cookie scoop, drop 12 equal amounts onto baking sheet. Be sure to space them a few inches apart to allow for spreading in the oven. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until tops have a cracked appearance. (Be sure to not over-bake, or cookies will be dry and not fudgy.) Allow to cool on baking sheet on wire rack for 15 minutes, and then gently transfer cookies to rack to cool completely.
  5. Make the glaze:
  6. Place chocolate, butter and corn syrup in a medium heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of an inch of simmering (not boiling) water until melted and smooth, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
  7. Decorate the cookies:
  8. Line a baking sheet or tray with wax paper (or parchment or baking mat) and fill a medium plate or bowl with sprinkles of choice.
  9. Dip each cooled cookie into the glaze so that half of the cookie is glazed and then holding the cookie over sprinkle bowl drop a handful of sprinkles over glaze and shake off excess. Place each one on prepared sheet until you have decorated all of them, and then place sheet/tray in the freezer or refrigerator for 10-15 minutes to set.

Notes

[cookie dough adapted from Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook]

Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by ZipList Recipe Plugin
http://sweetapolita.com/2012/09/triple-chocolate-sprinkle-birthday-cookies/

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • Since the chocolate is the star of this show, I recommend using the best quality bittersweet chocolate possible. I used Callebaut Dark Callets 70.4 % , because I love the flavour, and the callets (chips) are so easy to melt and measure. If bittersweet is too dark for your taste, I recommend using it for the cookies, but using semisweet for the glaze.
  • For measuring cookie dough and placing on the baking sheet, I always use this 50mm Cookie Scoop–perfectly round and even cookies every time, which I love. I also swear by the Silpat Non-Stick Baking Mat, but just note that they are a tiny bit too big for some cookie sheets. You want to make sure you have what they call a Bakers Half Sheet. I use these for everything!
  • For the sprinkles on my cookies, I used Rainbow Jimmies + Chocolate Vermicelli  mixed together prior to coating the cookies and then sprinkled edible Gold Stars on afterwards. This is also the method I used for the birthday fairy bread–sprinkled it right on top of buttered toast. ♥

Good luck & enjoy!



Related posts:

Layered Chocolate & Lavender-Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta

Chocolate Lavender Panna Cotta via Sweetapolita

I’m so truly excited for my talented (and crazy beautiful) friend Camille, from the entertaining site Camille Styles–just a few weeks ago she became a first-time mom to a gorgeous little baby girl named Phoebe. I can still remember those early days with my baby girls, and what a whirlwind it was–exhilarating, exhausting and emotional (the entire gamut). And yet, as unfamiliar as it all was (particularly with Reese, my first), it seemed strangely comfortable. I’m genuinely thrilled for Camille and her husband and their life ahead with Phoebe–there’s simply nothing like life with little girls. While Camille and her new little family spend these first few weeks together, I’m honoured to be one of the food bloggers contributing to her beautiful website with this Layered Chocolate & Lavender-Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta.

Since long before the time my love for sugar became my career, it seems I have had somewhat of a lavender obsession. I can recall becoming instantly smitten the first time I tasted a lavender & vanilla sugar cookie many years ago at a gourmet food show–with its subtle violet flecks, intoxicating fragrance and delicate-and-slightly-unexpected flavour this single cookie may be responsible for my love for infusing lavender into desserts. What surprised me most was how the lavender didn’t taste floral, but rather heightened the sweet vanilla tones of the cookie and married the sugar, butter and vanilla in magical way.

image source

Today one of the things I love most about incorporating culinary lavender in desserts is the curiousity it elicits from guests who may or may not be certain they would enjoy such a thing, and the element of surprise when they realize how much they do. Lavender pairs well with many sweet flavours, most notably lemon, chocolate, vanilla, honey and pear, as well as an entire host of savoury flavours. The possibilities are virtually endless, but the key to pleasant-not-perfumey lavender desserts is go easy! Use it sparingly, especially if you are adding it directly into the recipe (as opposed to straining the buds after flavouring).

Lavender Sugar via Sweetapolita

One of my favourite ways to bring its unique flavour into the mix without over-powering dessert, is by keeping a stash of lavender sugar handy. Simply add a few spoonfuls of dried culinary lavender to a sugar canister or jar filled with sugar, stir it up and keep it airtight when you’re not using it. The longer is sits, the more powerful the flavour, but it’s a great way to infuse in recipes by simply using the lavender sugar (or part) in place of regular sugar. Voila! You can even use it to sweeten lemonade, tea, simply sprinkle upon baked goods . . .

Chocolate Lavender Panna Cotta via Sweetapolita

Or, of course, you can use it to create Layered Chocolate & Lavender-Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta (with a dollop of Lavender Whipped Cream!) — my current favourite. Panna Cotta, an Italian pudding made mostly from simmering cream, sugar and gelatin, is truly unique in that it is one of the simplest desserts to make, yet extremely versatile and enthusiastically celebrated by those who taste it. Because it seems many people don’t think to make it at home, it’s often a special treat to dinner party guests. With its luxe texture and decadent taste, I find it to be reminiscent of lavish restaurant desserts, particularly when you add sophisticated elements, such as dark chocolate, vanilla-bean and lavender sugar.

I went ahead and made mini lavender & dark chocolate bars using this Chocolate Bar Mold I was dying to use, but even a small piece of quality dark chocolate on top would be a fabulous touch.

The Lavender Whipped Cream adds a dreamy lavender touch to the dessert and officially makes this a very indulgent treat.

And as much as I love adding fancy components to dessert, the truth is sometimes I simply can’t spend the time needed for complex recipes. As a mom of two little girls, my reality is that I can’t always predict how much kitchen-time I will get, and there’s nothing more rewarding than a show-stopping dessert that truly doesn’t take a lot of fuss. One of the ways I manage to make as many treats as I do with so little time, is by choosing recipes that have components that can be made ahead of time — so when my little one naps or at bedtime. This dessert requires less than 45 minutes active-time and can be made up to 2 days before serving, which makes it an ideal dinner party choice as well as a perfect mama-hostess choice. ♥

Layered Chocolate & Lavender-Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta

Ingredients

    For the Lavender-Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta:
  • 6 tablespoons (90 ml) cold water
  • 4-1/2 teaspoons (22 ml) unflavoured gelatin (such as Knox brand)
  • 2 cups (500 ml) whipping cream (35% fat), or heavy cream
  • 2 cups (500 ml) half-and-half (10.5-18% fat)
  • 1 cup (200 grams) sugar (lavender sugar, if possible)
  • 2 tablespoons dried culinary lavender
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, seeded and scraped
  • For the Chocolate Panna Cotta:
  • 1-3/4 cups (437 ml) whipping cream (35% fat), or heavy cream
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons (6. 25 ml) unflavoured gelatin (such as Knox brand)
  • 2 tablespoons (24 grams) sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 ounces (60 grams) quality dark chocolate (at least 50% cacao), finely chopped
  • For the Lavender Whipped Cream:
  • 3/4 cup (187 ml) whipping cream (35% fat), cold
  • 1 tablespoon dried Culinary Lavender
  • 1 tablespoon (12 grams) sugar (or lavender sugar, if possible)
  • A drop or two of violet gel colour (optional)
  • For decorating:
  • Dark chocolate piece (or Dark Chocolate & Lavender, if possible)

Instructions

    For the Lavender-Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta layer:
  1. Pour the cold water into a small bowl and sprinkle with the gelatin.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the whipping cream, half-and-half, sugar, dried lavender and salt over medium heat until the sugar has completely dissolved and mixture just comes to a boil, about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove saucepan from the heat and pour mixture through a fine strainer into a 4-cup measuring cup with spout. Stir in vanilla bean seeds, followed by the gelatin mixture, and stir until the gelatin has completely dissolved.
  4. Divide among 8 individual serving glasses, custard cups or ramekins and bring to room temperature.Place on a flat surface in refrigerator for at least 5 hours, or overnight.
  5. For the Chocolate Panna Cotta:
  6. Once your Lavender-Vanilla Panna Cotta layer has set, make the Chocolate layer:
  7. Pour 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the whipping cream into a small heatproof bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let sit for 10 minutes. Place the bowl into a larger bowl with hot water and stir mixture until gelatin has completely dissolved.
  8. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the remaining cream, sugar and salt just to a boil and remove promptly from the heat. Whisk in the chocolate until completely incorporated and smooth.
  9. Add the gelatin mixture and stir until well combined. Pour mixture through a fine strainer into a 4-cup measuring cup with spout and let sit until it reaches room temperature, stirring occasionally.
  10. Divide among the well-chilled/set Lavender-Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta layered cups, cover loosely and let chill in refrigerator for another 5 hours or overnight.
  11. For the Lavender Whipped Cream
  12. Prepare the whipped cream up to 2 hours before serving:
  13. Add dried lavender to whipped cream, cover and let sit for minimum 1 hour (the longer it sits, the stronger the flavour).
  14. Chill a stainless steel mixing bowl and metal whisk or hand mixer beaters for 15 minutes in freezer.
  15. Strain the cream into the mixing bowl, add the sugar (I used lavender sugar) and gel colour (if using), and beat just until it stiffens to peaks and keeps shape. Take care to not overbeat, or it will become grainy.
  16. Top each dessert with a dollop of Lavender Whipped Cream and a piece of dark chocolate, or dark chocolate with lavender.

Notes

Chilled Panna Cotta will keep well for 2 days.

Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by ZipList Recipe Plugin
http://sweetapolita.com/2012/09/layered-chocolate-lavender-vanilla-bean-panna-cotta/

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • This recipe may appear lengthy or complicated, but it is one of the least fussy or time-consuming desserts you can make (I promise).
  • To make lavender sugar, simply add a few tablespoons of dried culinary lavender to your granulated sugar and stir it up. Keep in an airtight container and use in recipes in place of regular sugar, sprinkled on baked goods, or in tea. The longer it sits, the more intense the fragrance/flavour. I am hooked on this stuff! It also looks especially pretty sitting on the countertop in a clear glass jar. To make lavender-vanilla sugar (even more delightful), simply include  the scraped seeds of a vanilla bean and the pod in your sugar, mix well, and bury the vanilla pod.
  • Both the Lavender-Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta and Chocolate Panna Cotta variations are rich, creamy and incredibly satisfying desserts, so if short on time, even a single layer version would be a crowd pleaser.
  • You can make this dessert up to 2 days ahead–simply keep refrigerated and whip up the cream topping a few hours ahead of serving.

Good luck & enjoy!



Related posts: