{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


    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


    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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Best-Ever Chocolate Nutella Layer Cake

Chocolate, chocolate everywhere!

I was looking through some older posts the other day, and I came across these Chocolate Birthday Cupcakes with Nutella Cloud Frosting. And while I’ve never been fixated on Nutella desserts, I had almost forgotten how much I loved the way the sweet and hazelnutty flavour and creamy texture of Nutella added a much-welcome addition to these otherwise classic (but awesome) chocolate cupcakes.  So this week I decided to make a super-simple, quick and easy cake version of those cupcakes, embracing quality dark chocolate, extra dark cocoa powder and, of course, Nutella.

Simply put, the frosting is magical. Like unicorn and rainbows magical.

I have this thing about chocolate frosting. I kind of need it to be airy and satiny, as opposed to super-fudgy and dense–I think it pairs so well with a deep, dark moist chocolate cake, such as this one. This frosting is a take on that same Nutella Cloud Frosting I had used on the cupcakes, but I decided to add much more Nutella and a generous amount of sour cream to balance out the sweet. Rather than using the mixer, I just popped everything into my food processor and gave it a 60-second spin or so. The result was the creamiest and richest sweet chocolate frosting I’ve ever tasted.

In addition to the Nutella, we add a good dose of extra dark premium melted chocolate (I used a 70%) to help keep some of the intense chocolate flavour. The Nutella lends to the satiny texture, but because it is already quite sweet, the overall quality of this frosting is on the sweet side, but with a dark decadence. If you can’t get Nutella, or if you find you prefer a deeper flavour with minimal sweetness, you could even skip the Nutella and add a handful of ground hazelnuts. Of course the texture would change to a more rustic one, but the taste would be notably more sophisticated.

But Nutella seems to bring a nostalgic element for some, and if this cake is going anywhere near a little cakelet’s belly, I think Nutella is the way to go, because kids go, well, nuts for this stuff.

And because this cake, as simple as it is, is a celebration of chocolate, I opted for a medley of pure chocolate sprinkles as the finishing touch. It adds an interesting visual and delightful chocolaty crunch to each slice. For the piped border, I went with an unfussy shell-style border, but extended each one for a few extra seconds to create a more elongated shell look. Nothing fancy, but quick, easy and pretty. Because this frosting pipes like a dream, it makes for the perfect frosting border.

So this photo just goes to show that not all cakes look picture-perfect when sliced (this is what happens when I frost a cake and take photos 10 minutes later, rather than refrigerating it for some time to set), but holy Easter-bunny this chocolaty madness is divine. And it couldn’t be easier to create. You’ll see!

Best-Ever Chocolate & Nutella Layer Cake

Yield: One 3-layer, 7-inch round cake

Super-moist, dark chocolate cake filled and frosted with satiny dark chocolate & Nutella sour cream frosting and covered in a medley of chocolate sprinkles.


    For the Cake:
  • 2 1/4 cups (285 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/3 cups (470 grams) superfine sugar
  • 3/4 cup (90 grams) dark Dutch-process cocoa powder (I use Cacao Barry Extra Brute)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons (12 grams) baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (8 grams) salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) brewed coffee or espresso
  • 2/3 cup (160 ml) vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • For the Frosting:
  • 4 1/2 cups (565 grams) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups (340 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (280 grams) Nutella (or other hazelnut spread)
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) full-fat sour cream
  • 11 ounces (330 grams) best-quality dark chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt


    For the Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare three 7-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray and parchment rounds.
  2. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, sift all dry ingredients, including sugar. Combine eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla in a measuring cup and beat lightly with a fork.
  3. Add milk mixture to the dry ingredients mix for 1 minute on medium speed (you may need the plastic splash-guard that comes with mixer). Divide batter evenly among prepared pans--each pan should contain about 600 grams of batter.
  4. Bake the first 2 layers for 20 minutes and rotate pans in oven. Continue to bake until toothpick or skewer comes almost clean (a few crumbs), about 5 more minutes. Cool on wire racks for 20 minutes. Repeat with remaining layer, and then gently invert onto racks until completely cool.
  5. For the Chocolate Frosting:
  6. Put all of the ingredients in a food processor, and pulse until smooth and glossy, about 1 minute. The frosting will be very soft. Refrigerate the frosting until it thickens slightly, about 15 minutes.
  7. Assembly of the Best-Ever Chocolate & Nutella Layer Cake:
  8. Put a dollop of frosting on a 7-inch round cake board (or cake plate) or 8-inch scalloped cake board.
  9. Put your first layer top-up on the cake board or plate, and spread about 1 cup of frosting evenly across layer. Put the second cake layer on top and repeat with another layer of frosting. Put the final cake layer top-down. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and wiggle the layers into place. Refrigerate the cake for about 30 minutes.
  10. Using a turntable, if possible, frost entire outside of cake with a thin layer of frosting to seal in the crumbs. Chill until the frosting begins to firm-up, about 15 minutes. Repeat with another thin layer of frosting, this time working to achieve a smooth finish. Chill for another 15 minutes.
  11. Apply a third coat of frosting to the cake. Holding a tall pastry comb in your dominant hand, press it gently against the side of the cake and keep it steady. Use the other hand to slowly rotate the turntable until you have gone all the way around the cake. Gently press some chocolate sprinkles around the bottom edge of the cake.
  12. Fit a medium pastry bag with a medium-large closed star tip, such as 1M, and fill about 2/3 full with frosting. Pipe a border around the top of the cake. Chill the cake until the frosting border firms up, at least 30 minutes.
  13. Cover the top of the cake (but not the piped border) with chocolate sprinkles. Once frosting softens again, the sprinkles will adhere to top. The cake will keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.
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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • If you don’t have 7-inch round cake pans, you could also use 8-inch cake pans. The layers will just be ever-so-slightly shorter.
  • For the cake layers, I use Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder – Extra Brute–it adds so much depth, chocolate-y flavour and a wonderfully dark hue.
  • For the frosting I used Callebaut Dark Callets 70.4 %  to balance the sweetness of the Nutella.
  • I used one of the Wilton Decorate Smart 3-Piece Icing Comb Set for the sides of the cake (the furthest comb to the right in the image).
  • I used a medley of chocolate vermicelli sprinkles on top, including India Tree Chocolate Vermicelli and De Ruyter Chocoadehagel. Any kind works well, but I prefer to keep it to pure chocolate vermicelli, as opposed to just chocolate jimmies.
  • Because the frosting has sour cream in it, it’s best to refrigerate this cake if it hasn’t been gobbled up after a day. Keep refrigerated at that point, and serve at room temperature (although it tastes pretty great cold too).

Happy Easter to you and your family!

Good luck & enjoy!

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Highway to Heaven Cupcakes {and Sugar Cube Winner!}

Happy Monday!

Here is the winner of the The Sugar Cube: 50 Deliciously Twisted Treats from the Sweetest Little Food Cart on the Planet book giveaway:

#8 NanaBread (Jeanne): “dark chocolate & salted caramel is at the top of my list, along with coconut & chocolate, strawberry & cream cheese, and anything with cherries”

Congratulations! (I will be also notifying you by email.)

And thank you to everyone for sharing their favourite flavour combinations!

See you soon. ♥

The Giveaway:

When I was asked to be part of the Sugar Cube Blog Tour to celebrate the newly released The Sugar Cube: 50 Deliciously Twisted Treats from the Sweetest Little Food Cart on the Planet, it sounded like my kind of party, but I hadn’t heard of the book or the adorable Portland, Oregon food cart before. But, upon first glance I fell in fast love with everything about Kir Jensen’s delicious sugared world, and after first read and taste, the book is now in my leave-it-out-because-I-use-it-so-much collection. I had such a hard time deciding what to make first, and what to share with you, but when I set eyes on Highway to Heaven Cupcakes adorned with shards of Ruffles and read that she’s built her entire reputation on this particular cupcake, I knew that these had to be my first Sugar Cube experience.

So what’s this book all about (aside from its undeniably adorable cover)?

This covetable cookbook is a greatest-hits collection from Sugar Cube, a tiny pink food cart in Portland, Oregon, that is thronged daily by hungry hordes craving voluptuous sweets intensified with a spike of booze, a lick of sea salt, or a “whoop” of whipped cream. Sugar Cube founder and baker Kir Jensen left the fine-dining pastry track to sell her handmade treats on the street. Recipes for 50 of Kir’s most enticing cupcakes, cookies, tarts, muffins, sips, and candies are made more irresistible (if possible!) by 32 delicious color photographs. Sassy headnotes and illustrations that resemble vintage tattoos liven up this singular boutique baking book.

And they do not lie–this book is everything they say it is, and more. It is really special. What I love is how Kir really pushes the boundaries of classic and comforting treats in a gourmet and innovative way (think Vanilla Bean Risotto, Coffee Mallow Meringue Pie, Cream Soda Ice Cream and more). The recipes are easy to follow and the flavors and textures almost leap straight off of the page. I am sincerely excited to make each and every recipe in her fabulous book, and I’m also excited that 1 lucky reader will win their own copy! But, let’s talk more about the recipe I made to share with you, these Highway to Heaven Cupcakes . . .

But don’t be fooled: What makes these cupcakes so incredible isn’t just the fact that there are salted caramel drizzled Ruffles chips on top, because that’s simply an added bonus (a sweet & salty, crunchy, heavenly bonus, that is), because there’s so much more depth and decadence to relish in here. The cupcakes are a moist super-chocolatey delight that are brushed with coffee syrup, injected with homemade salted caramel sauce, topped with a rich sexy bittersweet ganache, drizzled with more salted caramel sauce and then, if you love double-wowing the crowd, spears of caramel-drizzled potato chips, of course. As far as cupcakes go, it just doesn’t get any sexier.

These were so enticing in all of their dark, glossy, drizzled, crunchy goodness that I couldn’t stop taking Instagram photos while I was making them. When you’re trying to decide where to start in the flurry of decadent treats in this book, I can safely say this is an ideal place to start. (It’s also safe to say I’ll be making these cupcakes at least *once a month* for years to come.) Girls, who’s with me?

Here are the details and how to enter this giveaway:

1. Leave a comment and tell me, “What is your favourite dessert flavour combination?”

2. For an extra entry, tweet: “I want to win a copy of @TheSugarCube’s book from @Sweetapolita!” Simply come back here and leave a comment telling me you tweeted.

3. Contest ends Sunday, May 20th, 2012 at 11:59 pm (EST) and winner will be selected using random.org and notified by email and announced here on the blog. You must leave a valid email address (will not be displayed) in your entry.

4. One entry per person, please (or two, with tweet). *Your comment may not appear at first, but it’s there.

*Prize courtesy of Chronicle Books. Contest is open to US and Canadian residents only.

Good luck, everyone!

Now, here’s the recipe, shared with permission and as written in the book: The Sugar Cube: 50 Deliciously Twisted Treats from the Sweetest Little Food Cart on the Planet

highway to heaven cupcakes

makes 24 cupcakes



  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups warm strong-brewed coffee or french-pressed coffee
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups vegetable oil

coffee syrup

  • 1/2 cup strong-brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 recipe sexy bittersweet chocolate ganache

1 recipe salted caramel sauce, at room temperature


  • To make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
  • Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, coffee, eggs, vanilla, and vegetable oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk just until incorporated and there are no lumps. (It’s a thin batter, but it will bake up beautifully.)
  • Divide the batter equally among the muffin cups, leaving about 1/4 inch room at the top. Bake until the tops spring back when lightly pressed, 20 to 25 minutes.
  • To make the coffee syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the coffee and sugar and bring to a boil over high heat. Continue to boil for 1 to 2 minutes more to concentrate the mixture.
  • While the cupcakes are still hot, brush the tops with coffee syrup. (You’ll use most but not all of it. Just discard the rest or use it in a cocktail.) Let the cupcakes cool completely before filling and frosting.
  • Place the caramel in a squeeze bottle. Insert the tip into the top of each cupcake and squeeze in some caramel. (You’ll see them plump up a bit, but don’t fill them with so much that the cupcakes split.) Dip the tops in ganache, then tilt to shake off the excess. Let the chocolate set (it will be glossy but not runny) for about 30 minutes before drizzling with more salted caramel to serve.

sexy bittersweet ganache

makes about 2 cups


  • 12 ounces chopped good-quality bittersweet chocolate
  • 14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, but into cubes
  • 1/4 teaspoons good sea salt, such as fleur de sel
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup


  • In a medium metal bowl, combine the chocolate, butter, salt, and corn syrup. Put the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and heat, stirring, until the chocolate and butter have melted. Remove from the heat.
  • Use as a glaze for cakes, or let cool until spreadable and use as a frosting or filling. Ganache can be refrigerated for 1 week. To gently rewarm, heat it in a microwave on 50 percent power or put it over a saucepan of barely simmering water and give it a good whisking.

salted caramel sauce

makes about 2 1/2 cups


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fleur de sel
  • 2 cups heavy cream, warmed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


  • In a deep heavy-bottomed pot, combine the sugar, water, and salt and stir until well mixed. Cook over high heat until the sugar starts to color around the edges of the pot, swirling the pan to promote even caramelization of the sugar. (Do not stir or the sugar will crystalize, that is, harden.) Continue cooking, swirling occasionally, until the caramel is very dark mahogany is color and lightly smoking (it should be on the verge of burning), 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Immediately remove the pot from the heat, and while stirring with a whisk or wooden spoon, add the warmed cream in a steady stream. (Since you’re taking the caramel to the dark side, you have to work quickly and being adding the cream right away to stop the cooking process. But you don’t want to add it all at once, so pour it in a continous, steady stream. Be careful: The mixture will steam and bubble up furiously. (I recommend wearing an oven mitt on the hand that’s stirring in the cream.) Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a metal bowl. Stir in the vanilla and let cool at room temperature, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour. Refrigerate, uncovered for several hours to thicken.
  • Whisk before using or transferring to an airtight jar for longer storage. It will keep refrigerated for at least 1 week.

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • I followed the recipes for each of the components exactly, and they were a success.
  • I served and tasted several of these sans potato chips, and just drizzeld in the caramel sauce, and they were incredible too.
  • As with some of my other favourite chocolate cake recipes, the coffee in these cupcakes simply enhances the deep chocolate flavour–they don’t taste coffee-ish, I promise.
  • As Kir explains, the sexy bittersweet ganache goes on super glossy and dries with a nice sheen.
  • I used Fleur de Sel for the salted caramel sauce and the sexy bittersweet ganache, Cacao Barry Extra Brute Cocoa Powder for the cupcakes, and Callebaut Dark Callets and the ganache.

Good luck & enjoy!

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Dark Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Fluffy Rosewater Frosting

Chocolate & Rosewater Chiffon Cake via Sweetapolita

There’s something about the word “chiffon” that simply makes me happy. And hungry. Pair it with the word cake, and you know I’m going to be intrigued. I’ve been wanting to share a chiffon cake with you for some time now, but truly, there are so many flavour variations out there that I felt it would be best to wait until I made one that really excited me and that I found unique and nothing short of delightful.  What makes a chiffon cake a chiffon cake? Well, it’s a light and springy cake that gets its height from a generous number of egg whites that are beaten separately from the egg yolks into a stiff peak meringue and folded into the blended batter base, which typically includes oil (never butter), flour, baking powder, and sugar. It bakes up lofty and full, and the high oil and egg content yields a really moist cake that seems to stay that way for days. With the absence of butter, therefore less saturated fat, you could almost say that it’s a healthier cake option, and, this is what I uttered to myself repeatedly while I ate 2, or was it 3, slices today. And, wait, I also used sunflower oil, so I almost can’t afford to not eat it, it’s that healthy.

Dark Chocolate & Rosewater Chiffon Cake via Sweetapolita

According to What’s Cooking America, the first chiffon cake was introduced in 1927, by its inventor, Harry Baker, a Los Angeles insurance agent who kept his recipe guarded for two decades, baking and selling it to Hollywood stars exclusively. It is explained that Mr. Baker eventually (1947) sold his recipe to General Mills, who stated that he sold his recipe” so Betty Crocker could give the secret to the women of the America.” This cake was said to be a huge hit after being printed in Better Homes and Gardens in 1948, and by the 1950s chiffon cakes were all the rage. So now that I’ve inflicted my love for cake history upon you, let’s talk about this particularly delicious chiffon cake!

Dark Chocolate & Rosewater Chiffon Cake via Sweetapolita

I’ve been wanting to incorporate rosewater (or rose water) into a recipe (or a few) lately, and although it’s known to work well with such flavours as vanilla, white chocolate, raspberry, and many others, I was so excited to pair it with chocolate. I suspected it would taste great, since lavender does and my instincts told me it would, but I was particularly pleased to discover this officially, since all I can think about these days is chocolate. And cake. And pink frosting. I went with a dark chocolate chiffon cake because I love the contrast of the delicate, pink, fluffy rose water frosting against the deep, dark chocolate cake–both in taste and aesthetic. In this case, though, since the cake only appears to be heavy and dark, it’s actually super light in texture (in true chiffon style), which makes the overall experience even more pleasing and suited for spring indulgences and summer days to come.

For this frosting, I added a small amount of rosewater to one of my favourite sugary-type frosting recipes, as an accent, resulting in a sweet, rich-but-light buttercream with just a hint of rose ringing through. With a certain magical tea party on my mind (you can learn more about that wonderfully curious event below), I’ve been recently dreaming of this type of sweet and fragrant confection, and this one hit the spot. If you’re not familiar with rosewater, it is literally just that: a steam distillate made from rose petals. Although there are many wonderful uses for rosewater (I use it in toner form on my face each day), as an ingredient it’s most often found in Middle Eastern, Greek, and Indian cuisine. I find it adds a really delicate and unique touch to the frosting in this case.

I opted to add it into more of a confectioners’ frosting, over my beloved meringue buttercream, or the like, because I felt, after experimenting a bit, that for my personal taste it paired best with the sweetness of the sugary frosting. A rosewater glaze was also an option, and I imagine that would have also been incredible. I was envisioning swirls of fluffy rosewater frosting though on a bundt shape cake this time, so maybe next time, when I try it ungreased in a chiffon (or angel food cake) pan, I’ll try the glaze.

Dark Chocolate & Rosewater Chiffon Cake via Sweetapolita

One of the notable differences between making a bundt cake and a chiffon cake, aside from bundt cakes including butter, is that chiffon cakes typically require an ungreased cake pan. From what I’ve read, this is so the light cake can cling to the edges of the pan, allowing it to rise to, and stay, a lovely and lofty height. The recipe I used for this cake, from contributing pastry chef Mary Bergin from the fabulous book Baking With Julia, did instruct greasing and flouring the pan, so I did. Her incredible recipe from the book is a decadent creme brulee with Chambord filled and glazed version using the bundt shape as an important part of the dessert’s structure and appeal, so I imagine that is why she greased the pan; in my experience, if you don’t butter and flour a bundt pan properly, you’ll likely never get the baked cake out in one piece.

So . . . creme brulee and raspberry liquer inside the cavity and drizzled all over a chocolate bundt cake, you ask? Oh yes, and I cannot wait to make that entire recipe someday soon, when I’m armed with a flurry of friends who will help me devour it. The source is linked below, if you can’t wait another day to make that version, and if you do, please come back and tell me how it was! As for this version, I love its sweet simplicity and unique flavour combination. Next time, I will definitely give it a try that way in an ungreased chiffon cake pan with removable bottom, just to get a better idea of the difference in height.

Dark Chocolate & Rosewater Chiffon Cake via Sweetapolita

If you make it, don’t be afraid to really slather on that frosting; it was a highlight (although, I recommend not going overboard with the rosewater; it can overtake the flavour if you’re not careful)! I loved the combination of flavours, and I really enjoyed the springy texture and deep “chocolate-ness” of the cake.

Just a note that if you’d rather make an actual bundt cake with this frosting, which would also be a great combination, you can bake my Chocolate Espresso Bundt Cake and top it with the Fluffy Rosewater Frosting.

Dark Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Fluffy Rosewater Frosting

Yield: 1 standard Bundt cake

Deep, dark, moist chocolate chiffon cake topped with fluffy and sweet frosting with a hint of Rose.


    For the Cake:
  • 1-1/2 cups (300g) sugar
  • 1 cup (130 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (90g) dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons (10 g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.5g) salt
  • 4 eggs, separated, and room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable oil (I used Sunflower oil)
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) water, warm
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 2 egg whites, room temperature
  • For the Frosting:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick)(114g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups (250 g) icing sugar (powdered, confectioners'), sifted
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) whipping cream (heavy cream, 35% fat)
  • 1/8 teaspoon rosewater, or more to taste (but use sparingly)
  • pinch of salt
  • Few drops pink food gel colour (optional)


    For the Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter and flour (I use a mix of flour & cocoa powder for this process when baking chocolate cake) the entire inside surface of a 10-12 cup Bundt pan. You can also use an angel food pan. (Typically, you wouldn't grease the pan for a chiffon cake, but this recipe comes from the book Baking with Julia, and greasing the pan is directed.)
  2. Sift 1 cup (200 g) of the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks, oil, water, and vanilla until blended. Gradually whisk in all of the dry ingredients until combined and smooth. Set aside.
  4. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and a mixer bowl wiped clean with lemon juice, whip the 6 egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup (100 g) of the sugar to the foamy egg whites, and continue to whip on medium speed until the meringue reaches stiff peaks, and is glossy and thick.
  5. Gently fold in 1/3 of the meringue into the chocolate mixture with a silicone spatula, then gently fold in the remaining meringue until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake until top bounces back when gently touched, about 35 minutes, and cake begins to shrink from sides of pan, and skewer comes clean when inserted. Be sure to not over-bake.
  6. Let cake cool in pan on cooling rack for 25 minutes before gently inverting onto wire rack.
  7. For the Buttercream:
  8. In mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine icing sugar and butter on low, for about 2 minutes. Add vanilla, and mix on low speed for about 2 minutes.
  9. Add whipping cream and salt, and mix on medium-high for 2 minutes. Add rosewater and pink gel colour, and whip until blended.
  10. Assembly of the Dark Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Fluffy Rosewater Frosting
  11. Gently place the cooled chiffon cake on a pedestal or plate.
  12. Smother the top of the cake with Fluffy Rosewater Frosting using a small offset palette knife.
  13. Store in a cake-keeper at room temperature for up to 3 days.


*Rosewater is very fragrant, and very intense in flavour, so you will want to use sparingly, to taste.

**The chiffon cake can be baked in advance, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, and frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw at room temperature.

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*Cake recipe adapted from Mary Bergin’s recipe in the book Baking With Julia, by Dorie Greenspan. I found the online recipe here.

Now, onto this glorious Mad Tea Party! I have a special friend, who you may already be familiar with, artist Vanessa Valencia; she’s the magical, quirky, and infinite talent behind A Fanciful Twist art, blog, and so much more. Okay, so I don’t use that adjective very often, “magical,” but to describe Vanessa, well, there’s  no other way to say it, and once you step into her world, you’ll likely agree. It’s not just Vanessa who is magical, but everything she touches, including her living and work spaces (she was recently featured in the Summer 2011 issue of Where Women Create; you can take a peek here).You may remember my chatting about her in my previous post, Artist Palette & Paintbrush Cookies (with a special “Twist”), well, she’s the special twist. Can you tell I adore her madly?

This year she’s hosting her annual virtual Mad Tea Party, and oh me, oh my, I’m the honorary guest! On Saturday, June 25th, 2011 I’ll be sharing my Mad Tea Party post here on my blog, filled with curious tea party confections, recipes, and more. If that’s not fun enough, there will be oodles of other virtual attendees sharing their mad blog posts, all linked and hosted through her blog on A Fanciful Twist blog. To read more, sign up for the fun, or escape into Vanessa’s magical existence, click the invite below:

I’ll meet you here (and there) for this fanciful mad tea party on June 25th, and I’ll see you back here even sooner to share another recipe.

Good luck & enjoy! I’ll see you soon with my 50th blog post!


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Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Buttercream Cake with Ganache Drizzle

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cake via Sweetapolita

I have a bit of a dilemma. Okay, I have a big, big dilemma: this cake is sitting 6′ away from me in the fridge right now, and I’m trying to resist it! You’d think I’d be used to sitting in arms’ reach of cake all day long, but sometimes, well, maybe often, it’s almost impossible not to sit down to the entire thing with a fork and just go to it. The thing is, as much as I joke about the amount of cake I eat, I also take a break from the sweets now and again, to make sure I stay healthy & fit. Sadly, now is one of those times! I did take a few bites, to makes sure it all tasted great, but that’s all.

For me, the joy is actually about baking and making the cakes, and usually the even bigger joy is watching someone else enjoy them. It kind of reminds of my fellow foodie sister-in-law, Mary. She also loves to bake, and when she trains for fitness competitions, she just carries on and keeps baking, knowing that she never will actually eat any of it. Pretty amazing, if you ask me, since that goes on for months and months; for me, it’s more of a one or two week cake-free situation, and then right back at it. So, why did I make a rectangular cake this time? Well, that I’m not completely sure about, besides the fact that I have a fascination with beautiful ice cream cakes, which often are built this same way. No, this isn’t an ice cream cake, and no, I’ve never eaten such an ice cream cake, but I love photos of lovely ones, and this is often their shape.

Chocolate Raspberry Cake via Sweetapolita
I began to wonder if a buttercream cake would taste even better that way. It really does get difficult to make a buttercream cake look unique, aside from getting too crazy on the inside of the cake, which I tend not to do. I love classic layers, and I love gorgeous fillings, so really, that means getting creative with combinations of the flavours, as well as scale, height, and, well, shape.

Aside from the ganache drizzle (which, oops, isn’t as smooth as it should be, so we’ll talk about that!), all the components of this cake are my trusty standbys: Swiss meringue buttercream, chocolate cake baked in a sheet pan (although I did use a slightly different chocolate cake recipe), and the newest addition, toasted marshmallow filling in place of the raspberry buttercream in the middle layer. To be honest, this cake really doesn’t necessarily need any marshmallow representation (amazing, though), but I happened to have some left from a cake I did the other day, and I thought it would be fun to use it to fill one of the layers. It really does work well, and it tastes so good together, but if you were to create this cake, you could most definitely just do all raspberry buttercream, or even just vanilla buttercream, or both. You could even alternate a whipped ganache filling and raspberry buttercream — trust me, there is no wrong answer here.

Chocolate Raspberry Cake via Sweetapolita

Do you think that this cake would taste even better because of its unusual shape, even though all of the parts are the same as some of my round cakes? I don’t know why, but I think it does. Slicing into this was so fun, and for some reason, I think square/rectangular dessert tastes better all around, actually. Is it just me, or when you were a kid, wasn’t it so exciting to have your ice cream sliced right out of the box (especially neapolitan!) and eat a big square piece of ice cream on a plate? That was the ultimate (is ice cream in the box just a Canadian thing?). Even ice cream sandwiches (speaking of which, I would give anything for one of those right now), cookies, marshmallows, cupcakes, and even pie — I just came across square pie in the city and loved it. Can you think of any others?

Chocolate Raspberry Cake via Sweetapolita

I’m not saying this idea is revolutionary, but I hadn’t done it before, and I was thinking this would be a unique way to serve a classic birthday cake, shower cake, or even wedding dessert table cake, or cakes. There are so many gorgeous rectangular platters out there, and you could even build an entire dessert table out of these cakes, all different lengths — am I getting carried away? Even so, this one really has presence (in my humble opinion) and of course you could build it any way you like, with any flavours, or more or less layers. I’ll write the full how-to below, but just to give you an idea of what I did was just bake the chocolate cake in a bakers’ half sheet (the same one I use for baking my cookies), and slice it into 4 even slices.

I started with vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream, added about few handfuls of fresh raspberries and some toasted marshmallow filling. Then I just built the cake as I would a round cake, but did it right onto the platter. Once it was all frosted, smoothed, and chilled, I made a ganache to drizzle over the top for a dramatic touch. I then threw on a handful of chocolate sprinkles and one fresh raspberry and trimmed the bottom with more chocolate sprinkles. I’m sorry to say that my ganache was a tiny bit bumpy, but, sadly, I didn’t realize that until after I drizzled it.

Well, I suppose that’s okay, because now we can talk a bit about that. Ganache, being just a simple (albeit incredibly decadent) pairing of heavy cream and chopped chocolate, does seem pretty easy, but I’ve learned that it can be sensitive. If you’ve never made it, don’t let that deter you, because it really isn’t difficult. I’ve done it successfully several times with a different ratio, but this time I wasn’t so lucky. It’s possible, in this case, my chocolate wasn’t chopped finely enough or that the cream was too hot; I wondered if that may happen.

To learn more about ganache and how to ensure a perfect result, you can check out this post on the Global Gourmet. I did find a recipe with a different ratio than my old recipe last night, and made a batch that worked beautifully, so just in case, I’ll include that version instead. You could also just make a chocolate glaze, if you’d prefer. Either way, it’s still gorgeous and yummy, but I’ll be sure to not let that happen again. It actually worked out for the best, because the new ganache recipe is even better, and now I can add that to my repertoire.

Here’s the recipe:

Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Buttercream Cake with Ganache Drizzle

Yield: One 4-layer 13"L x 5"H x 4.5"W cake


    For the Sheet Cake:
  • 2-1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon (330 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups (600 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon (135 g) Cacao Barry Extra Brute Cocoa Powder (or similar premium brand)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons (7.5 g) baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons (12 g) salt
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups (360 mL) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups (360 mL) strong black coffee, hot
  • 3/4 cup (180 mL) vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons (22.5 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • For the Filling:
  • 8 large white marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup (63 g) icing sugar (confectioners' or powdered), sifted
  • 1/2 cup butter (113 g)(1 sticks), at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 jar (107 g) marshmallow cream (such as Marshmallow Fluff)
  • For the Raspberry Buttercream:
  • 10 large, fresh egg whites
  • 2 1/2 cups (500 g) sugar
  • 3 cups (680 g) butter, cut into cubes and cool, but not cold
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml)(or to taste) raspberry puree OR a handful (about 1 cup, or more to taste) of fresh, washed, and dried raspberries
  • pinch of salt
  • few drops pink food colouring (optional)
  • For the Ganache:
  • 9 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream


    For the Sheet Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Coat the bottom & edges of a commercial baking sheet (bakers half sheet 13 x 18 x 1) with butter then add a layer of parchment paper to the bottom. Dust it all with flour, tapping out the excess.
  2. In bowl of electric mixer, sift all dry ingredients. Combine eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla in a measuring cup and beat lightly with a fork.
  3. Add milk mixture to the dry ingredients mix for 2 minutes on medium speed (you may need the plastic splash-guard that comes with mixer). Divide batter evenly among prepared pan. (Batter will be thin.)
  4. Bake for 20 minutes and rotate pan. Continue to bake until toothpick or skewer comes almost clean (a few crumbs), about 5 more minutes. Cool on wire rack in pan until completely cool.
  5. For the Filling:
  6. Place marshmallows on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Place on lower rack of oven, and broil marshmallows until nice and brown on top, between 30-60 seconds. Remove pan from oven and gently turn the marshmallows over, and broil until they are golden brown. (Be sure to keep an eye on them--they burn very quickly.)
  7. In an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine butter and icing sugar on low until blended, about 1 minute. Add vanilla and mix on med-high for about 3 minutes.
  8. Add marshmallow cream and toasted marshmallows, and mix on lowest setting for about 1 minute.
  9. For the Raspberry Buttercream:
  10. Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice, to remove any trace of grease. Add egg whites and sugar, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 160°F, or if you don't have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
  11. With whisk attachment of mixer, begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch (this can take up to 10 minutes or so). *Don't begin adding butter until the bottom of the bowl feels neutral, and not warm.
  12. Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth). *If mixture is too runny, refrigerate for about 15 minutes and continue mixing with paddle attachment until it comes together. Add vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.
  13. Add raspberry puree to taste or the fresh raspberries in small increments, and blend until combined. Add small amount of pink food colouring, if desired.
  14. For the Ganache:
  15. Place the chocolate into a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil (watching very carefully) then swiftly remove from the heat and pour over the chopped chocolate. Let sit for 1 minutes and then whisk until smooth.
  16. Allow the ganache to cool slightly before pouring over a cake. Start at the center of the cake and work outward.
  17. For a fluffy frosting or chocolate filling, allow it to cool until thick, then whip with a whisk until light and fluffy.
  18. Assembly of the Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Buttercream Cake:
  19. Chill sheet cake in freezer for 30 minutes, or refrigerator for several hours. The cake will be a bit sticky, but should not be soft and fragile. If so, place in freezer or refrigerator again until more firm.
  20. Using a sharp, serrated bread knife, cut the cake in half, then those halves in half--4 total. The pieces will be 11" long and about 4.5" wide.
  21. Place 1st layer face-up (on a platter, or whatever you choose to serve the cake on), and spread about 1/2" thick layer of buttercream on top. Repeat this step, adding any flavours of buttercream or filling you like, placing your final layer face down. Cover with plastic wrap loosely, and chill for about 15 minutes in freezer or 30 minutes in refrigerator.
  22. Crumb Coat Coat cake with thin layer of buttercream using a small offset spatula for the top and a straight offset spatula for the sides--if you have a metal bench scraper, you can run along cake to get smooth finish and to achieve sharp corners. Always start at the top of the cake, working your way down. Chill cake for about 30 minutes, or pop back in freezer for 10-15 more minutes to set buttercream. This is a good time to wash and dry your spatulas and bench scraper for the top layer of buttercream application.
  23. Using your clean tools, add a thick layer of buttercream on the top of the cake, working it over the edges and then finish the sides. Be very generous with your buttercream, because you will be scraping most of it off with the scraper. It just makes it so much easier to get the smooth finish. Chill the cake for as long as you need, but at least 15 minutes to set the buttercream.
  24. Drizzle your warm (but not hot) ganache over the top of your very chilled cake so it seeps down the sides. Be careful not to use too much, or you will lose your pink cake underneath! You can use your clean small offset metal spatula to smooth it over the top. Chill to set.
  25. Add any topping you like or none at all. I sprinkled chocolate jimmies on top, and added one single fresh raspberry.
  26. Get creative!
  27. Keep refrigerated, but serve room temperature. Leave out of refrigerator for about 2 hours prior to serving. Keeps up to 3 days in an airtight container, although, I've been known to eat it past that and it was still great.


*The filling recipe is enough to fill the middle layer of this cake.

**For the Raspberry Buttercream, add about a 1/2 pint of fresh washed & dried raspberries if you like the textured effect, or raspberry puree for a smooth finish. *Be sure to add the raspberries right before you are to frost the cake, otherwise, if you store in refrigerator overnight, the moisture of the berries will turn your buttercream into an icky mess.

***You can also add a drop or 2 of pink gel colour to get a pinker look.

****Keep in Raspberry Buttercream in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week, leaving out at room temperature when needed, rewhipping in mixer for 5 minutes. You can freeze for up to 6-8 weeks. To thaw, place on counter overnight, and rewhip for 5 minutes with paddle attachment in an electric mixer.

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Good luck & enjoy!

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