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.

Neapolitan Macaron via Sweetapolita

Okay, so let’s talk macarons. I know if you’ve had any type of macaron failure, like I had over the years, you might be somewhat traumatized and avoid them at all costs. Or, maybe you’ve never tried them but the baking world has freaked you out with all of this talk about how hard they are to make. Either way, I’m here to tell you that not only are they totally doable, but they are so quick to make as well. And while these facts are, well, facts, there is a trick to it. After trying many, many macaron recipes, I’ve discovered what works each and every time.

I’ve included the recipe below, but I thought it might be easier if I followed this post with one devoted to macarons. I will go ahead and make a little video as well, just to make it a little more visual. If you are comfortable with making macarons, and you’ve never made a neapolitan version, I know you will adore these! Dark chocolate macaron shell (which tastes just like a chewy brownie with a hint of almond) paired with strawberry macaron shell filled with vanilla buttercream. Simple and splendid.

Neapolitan Macaron Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

For such a quick and easy step, I love how much drama the pink glaze adds. Of course you could use this technique for any cake and have fun with other color palettes. A simple whisk of confectioners’ sugar and milk and you’ve got yourself a sweet and versatile white glaze, or of course you could have fun with other colors, play with adding extract or flavor oil, and use this technique for any cake (just remember to chill the cake first, so that the frosting is firm to the touch).

Weneapolitan.

And while this cake does have several components, most of them can be made ahead (see Sweetapolita’s Notes), making this recipe much less daunting. I promise.

In other news, I’m so thrilled about the upcoming launch of my new & improved site coming early September! While the new design makes me giddy, one of the things I’m most excited about is the visual recipe index–finally! So all of my recipes are grouped with images, and not just the recipe names, and the index categories are easy to navigate and super functional. There are many other updates and changes in the new design, and I can’t wait to show you. My graphic designer, Melissa, did such an amazing job, and I just know you will adore what we came up with. I can’t stop looking at it. Counting the days until the launch! ♥

And if you missed my update in my last post, Birthday Party Ice Cream Cake, my first book, The Sweetapolita Bakebook, hit shelves April 7th, 2015, but it is already on pre-order on Amazon, Indigo, and many other online retailers. Yay! (Just thinking that this would be a good time for me to grasp that this whole book thing is actually happening. Oh my!) The book’s cover will soon be added to the listing, and I can’t wait to share it here on the blog when it’s ready to go.

So here’s the recipe for this towering delight:

6-Layer Neapolitan Macaron Delight Cake

Ingredients

    For the Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
  • 8 large fresh egg whites
  • 2 cups (400 g) superfine granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups (510 g) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 10 ounces (300 g) best-quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons strawberry puree OR preserves
  • Few drops pink gel colour
  • For the Strawberry Macarons:
  • 135 g almond flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
  • 125 g confectioners' sugar
  • 105 g egg whites, room temperature
  • 105 g superfine OR instant dissolving sugar (see Notes)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon strawberry flavor oil (I use Lorann)
  • Few drops AmeriColor Soft Pink gel paste
  • For the Chocolate Macarons:
  • 1 recipe Strawberry Macarons (above) but omit the flavor oil and pink food color, and add 3 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
  • For the Ganache:
  • 10 ounces (300 g) best-quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • For the Cake:
  • 3/4 cup (170 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (440 g) packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1-3/4 cups (220 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (90 g) unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups (360 ml) buttermilk, at room temperature
  • For the Glaze:
  • 1 cup (125 g) confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • Drop AmeriColor Soft Pink gel paste

Instructions

    Make the Buttercream:
  1. 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 125°F, or if you don't have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
  2. 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 in chunks until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth).
  3. Add vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined. Keep in airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day, refrigerated for up to 7 days, or frozen for up to 2 months. !Make the Strawberry Macarons:
  4. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats. Fit a large pastry bag with a large plain round tip, such as #1A.
  5. Into a medium bowl, use a fine mesh sieve to sift the almond flour, confectioners' sugar, and salt, twice. It might take a little effort to push through the larger bits of almond flour, for which you can use a wooden spoon. Discard any bits that won't fit through the sieve.
  6. Wipe a stainless steel bowl and whisk attachment with lemon juice to eliminate any grease (or beaters and bowl if you are using a hand mixer). Whisk the egg whites on low speed until frothy, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium and add the superfine sugar one tablespoon at a time. Increase mixer speed to medium-high and beat until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes Add a drop or two of pink color and the flavor oil to the meringue and beat until combined, about 20 seconds.
  7. Add one-third of the dry mixture to the meringue and fold in with a rubber spatula, but working deflate the meringue at the same time. It should take about 15 stirs/folds (strokes) before the dry ingredients have been incorporated. Add the remaining dry mixture to the bowl and fold/stir/deflate in the same manner until the batter "flows like magma," about 25 more strokes.
  8. Fill the pastry bag two-thirds full with the mixture and pipe 1-inch circles about 2-inches apart on each tray. Lift and drop the trays firmly on the counter a few times to rid of air bubbles.
  9. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Let the piped macarons sit while the oven preheats. Bake one tray at a time in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes. Let cool on trays. When completely cool, carefully peel the macarons off of the paper/silicone mat. If you find they are sticking even slightly, use a thin metal spatula to pry them off.
  10. Make the Chocolate Macarons:
  11. Repeat the steps for the Strawberry Macarons, but omit the strawberry flavor oil and pink color, and sift 3 tablespoons of dark cocoa powder along with the dry ingredients.
  12. Assemble the Neapolitan Macarons:
  13. Pair one of each strawberry and chocolate macaron with the closest in size and pipe a dollop of the vanilla buttercream on the flat side of each chocolate macaron. Sandwich each one with the strawberry macaron. Reserve the "best" macarons that are the most uniform for the top (8-10). For best results, let macarons sit in an airtight container in the fridge for at least a day. Bring macarons to room temperature when ready to use/eat.
  14. Make the Ganache:
  15. Place the chocolate in a medium saucepan or bowl with tall sides. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the cream, corn syrup, and salt just until the edges start to bubble (watch carefully, as it's easy to scold the cream). Remove from the heat and pour the mixture over the chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute and then use an immersion blender to combine the mixture until glossy and smooth. Add the butter and vanilla and blend until well incorporated. Let sit at room temperature until spreadable, about 2 hours. Refrigerate for up until 5 days. Bring to room temperature on counter, or microwave in 10-second increments until desired consistency is reached.
  16. Make the Cake:
  17. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease three 7-inch round cake pans and line the bottom with parchment.
  18. 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 8 minutes. Lower the speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each is fully incorporated before adding the next.
  19. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder into a medium bowl. Add the salt to the dry ingredients after sifting, and whisk dry ingredients.
  20. Alternate dry ingredients and buttermilk into creamed mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated, or finish by hand gently.
  21. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. If possible, weigh the batter in each cake pan (about 450 grams per pan, excluding the pans--you will want to tare the scale each time.) This ensures even layers. Smooth with small offset palette knife, and bake until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out with only a few crumbs, about 25 minutes.
  22. Let pans cool on wire rack for 20 minutes, then invert cakes onto racks, gently, peeling away parchment rounds. Let cool completely.
  23. Assemble the 6-Layer Neapolitan Macaron Delight Cake
  24. Spread a small dollop of buttercream onto an 7-inch round cake board. Cut your 3 cake layers each once horizontally with a long, serrated knife, so you have a total of 6 thin layers.
  25. Transfer about 2 cups of buttercream to a medium bowl and stir in the strawberry preserves and a drop or two of pink gel paste color.
  26. Place your first layer face-up on the board (or plate) and spread one-fifth of the ganache using a small offset spatula, leaving about 1/2" around the edge. With a clean offset spatula, spread about one half of the strawberry buttercream on top. Place another cake layer to top, face-up, and spread another fifth of the ganache on top, followed by a layer of macarons. Press the macarons gently into the ganache.
  27. Place another layer on top and spread more ganache, followed by about 1 cup of the vanilla buttercream. Place the next layer on top and spread more ganache, followed by another layer of macarons, gently pushing them into place.
  28. Place the next layer on top and spread the remaining ganache followed by the strawberry buttercream. Place the final layer on top, face-down. Wrap the cake in plastic wrap and use your hands to wiggle and straighten the cake into place, if necessary. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  29. In a medium microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup, melt the 10 ounces of dark chocolate in small increments, about 90 seconds total. Once the melted chocolate cools slightly add it to the remaining buttercream and beat to combine.
  30. Remove the cake from the fridge and place on cake turntable, if using. Frost the entire outside of cake with a thin layer of the chocolate buttercream to seal in crumbs. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes. Repeat with another layer of frosting, this time working to get the frosting as smooth as possible. Chill again until firm, about another 30-60 minutes.
  31. Make the Glaze: In a small bowl, whisk the confectioners' sugar and milk. Add the color until desired shade of pink is achieved.
  32. Use a small offset spatula to spread the glaze over the top of the cake, pushing it slightly over the edges to allow the glaze to drip down the sides. Top the cake with 8-10 neapolitan macarons, pushing them gently into the glaze to secure. Add sugar pearls or other decorations of choice, if desired.
  33. You did it! Hooray! Serve cake at room temperature, but keep refrigerated if not serving the day it's made. Cake will keep for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature several hours before serving.
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Sweetapolita‘s Notes: 

  • When making a French meringue, as we do with the macarons (this is a meringue made without heating the sugar and/or egg whites prior to mixing), I splurge on instant dissolving sugar (aka fruit and berry sugar). This is basically granulated sugar that is even more fine than superfine sugar, and it dissolves much quicker than superfine sugar. You can make your own superfine and dissolving sugar by pulsing regular granulated sugar in the food processor for about a minute for superfine, and about 90 seconds for the fineness of dissolving sugar. I have to admit that for dissolving sugar I tend to buy it prepackaged, just to ensure it’s fine enough. For superfine sugar in everyday baking, I use the food processor.
  • For the chocolate cake, I used my favourite cocoa powder, Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder – Extra Brute. It’s fabulously dark and lends an intense chocolate flavor to cake and tons of other desserts.
  • For the ganache and chocolate buttercream, I used Callebaut Semisweet Chocolate Callets.
  • For the macarons, I always use Bob’s Red Mill Flour Almond Meal–since we use such a small amount for each batch of macarons, the splurge is worth it, as this is the only almond flour I’ve had great success with.
  • True, having three 7-inch round cake pans on hand might be a bit of a stretch, but if you think you will be baking a lot of layer cakes (especially those from this blog), I do recommend investing in them (I love Fat Daddio’s brand, but any good quality pan would work). They are just the right size to bake up three layers that are easily cut horizontally into 2. If you are eager to make this cake and don’t have access to those pans, you can bake in three 8-inch round pans, but will likely find the layers a bit too thin to cut into two, so you could stick with a 3-layer cake.
  • To make this cake recipe a lot less daunting, I recommend making a few of the components ahead of time. Make the Swiss buttercream up to 5 days ahead, or up to 2 months ahead if you freeze; make the ganache up to 5 days ahead; and make the macarons up to 2 days ahead.
  • Just a reminder that I will be back soon with a macaron-devoted post!

Good luck & enjoy!

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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! ♥

5. I was oven-less for 10 days. As in one-third of the month! It’s true. I officially baked the life right out of my other oven, which was only 2 years old. So this whole I-can’t-bake-a-cake thing was quite a test to my creativity. But alas, there are so many alternatives: candy-making, no-bake desserts, homemade popsicles, and, of course, ice cream cakes. So, as the serendipitous result of my not having an oven for 10 days, this birthday party ice cream cake was born:

Birthday Party Ice Cream Cake via Sweetapolita

Side note: I’m really fond of this photo–I love action shots, and yet I’m never in them since I usually shoot alone or with my cakelets. This time I was able to nab my husband to take this photo of me sprinkling the cake, and I think he did a pretty great job!

Oh yes, this cake! We should really talk about this cake. I don’t actually make enough ice cream cakes, I’ve decided. They are so easy to do, and can be as simple or as complex as you want them to be. Aside from the whipped cream frosting, every ingredient is store bought, so it’s truly just taking ice cream in one form and magically turning it into a cake using cake pans, and then using your imagination to add some elements of texture in between the layers. I probably could have gone crazy with adding fun elements inside this cake, but I think I still kept it simple. The whipped cream frosting is the perfect option for frosting an ice cream cake, because it has such light and airy texture, and isn’t very sweet. And since it takes colour so nicely and we can use it to pipe borders and such, it works like a dream.

Birthday Party Ice Cream Cake via Sweetapolita

So here’s the craziness that’s going on under that layer of pastel whipped cream frosting. When choosing the flavours for this cake, I turned to my childhood–always a magnificent place to look for inspiration. I thought about all of the treats I loved most, and how I could represent them in this cake. So starting from the bottom, we have an Oreo crumb crust, cotton candy ice cream, Oreos, birthday cake ice cream, bubble gum ice cream, ice cream sandwiches, and then neapolitan ice cream (don’t you just love opening those “bricks” of neapolitan ice cream–depending on when you were born, it can really be an instant throwback to childhood).

That’s a lot of fun in one cake–especially one for which there is only about 15 minutes active time. Because each layer has to be very well chilled before working with it and in between each step, the overall project does take quite a bit of inactive time, so you would want to plan ahead on this one. If you made it over the course of a day and then chilled the whole thing overnight for the next day, it would work best.

Birthday Party Ice Cream Cake via Sweetapolita

Delightful, right? What I love about cakes like this, is that each slice is different–like a work of art. ♥

Birthday Party Ice Cream Cake

Serving Size: One 6-layer, 9-inch round ice cream cake

Who needs an oven to make a 6-layer cake? Layers of cotton candy ice cream, oreos, birthday cake ice cream, bubble gum ice cream, ice cream sandwiches, and neapolitan ice cream sit atop a buttery Oreo crumb crust and are smothered in pastel whipped cream and sprinkles for this ultimate birthday party (or any-day-of-the-week party) ice cream cake.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups (125 g) chocolate cookie crumbs (I used Oreo Baking Crumbs)
  • 1/4 cup (115 g) butter, melted
  • 1.5 L carton of each ice cream--cotton candy, birthday cake, bubble gum, and neapolitan, or flavours of your choice (total of 4 standard cartons of ice cream)
  • 8-10 chocolate sandwich cookies (such as Oreo)
  • 6 classic ice cream sandwiches
  • For the Whipped Cream Frosting:
  • 2 teaspoons gelatin (such as Knox)
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 1/2 cups (600 ml) whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
  • Few drops each turquoise and pink gel paste colour (I used AmeriColor)
  • Sprinkles!
  • You will also need:
  • 9-inch springform pan
  • 2 9-inch round cake pans
  • Plastic wrap

Instructions

  1. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment. Cover the inside of two 9-inch cake pans with plastic wrap--bottom and sides--leaving a few inches of overhang.
  2. Into a medium bowl, add the chocolate cookie crumbs and the butter, and stir until combined. Transfer the crumb mixture into the prepared springform pan, pressing into an even layer (I use the bottom of a measuring cup). Place the pan into the freezer to set for 15 minutes.
  3. Take one of the ice cream flavours out of the freezer, and use a knife to cut slabs of the ice cream. Transfer all of it onto the crust layer. (If you're using a multi-coloured variety like the cotton candy variety I used, try not to spread it around too much, or the colours will become muddled.) Place a layer of plastic wrap on top and press the ice cream into an even layer. Place the pan back into the freezer for at least 2 hours.
  4. Meanwhile, repeat this step with the 2 prepared cake pans, adding a layer of bubble gum ice cream to one, and neapolitan to the other. Add a layer of ice cream sandwiches to the top of the bubble gum layer, cutting some in half and quarters to fit as many in as possible. Freeze both pans for at least 2 hours.
  5. Remove the springform pan from the freezer and remove the plastic wrap. Place the Oreos on top of the ice cream in an even layer. Add all of the birthday cake ice cream and flatten with another layer of plastic wrap. Freeze for at least 2 hours.
  6. Assembly of the Birthday Party Ice Cream Cake:
  7. Remove the springform pan from the freezer and run a small sharp knife around the edges to loosen. Release the latch and gently remove the outer ring from the cake. Remove the birthday cake layer from the freezer and use the plastic wrap overhang to remove the layer from the pan. Peel off the plastic wrap and place the birthday cake ice cream layer on top of the cake. Repeat with the bubble gum ice cream layer. Finally, remove the neapolitan/ice cream sandwich layer from the freezer and from the pan, and then invert the layer ice-cream sandwich side down and place on top of the cake. Cover the entire cake in plastic wrap, wiggle into place if necessary, and return to the freezer for at least 4-6 hours (ideally overnight) to set.
  8. For the Whipped Cream Frosting:
  9. Place a stainless stand mixer bowl and the whisk attachment (or if using a hand mixer, a stainless mixing bowl and the mixer beaters) in the freezer for at least 20 minutes.
  10. Into a small microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle the gelatin onto the water and let sit for 10 minutes. Microwave the mixture for 20 seconds and stir to combine.
  11. Remove the bowl and whisk from the freezer, add the cream and sugar to the bowl and whip on medium speed for 30 seconds. With the mixer running, add the gelatin mixture in one go. Increase the speed to medium-high and whip until medium-stiff peaks form (thick enough to spread/pipe/hold its shape, but not over-whipped and grainy). Transfer about 1 1/4 cups of the whipped cream to a medium bowl and tint it pastel pink. Cover the pink cream with wrap and refrigerate until ready to pipe the border. Tint the remaining whipped cream turquoise.
  12. Remove the chilled cake from the freezer and transfer the cake from the springform pan base (remove the parchment round) to a cake board or plate.
  13. Frost the cake with the turquoise whipped cream, just as you would a regular cake--use a small offset palette knife to cover the top of the cake, and a medium straight palette knife to frost the sides. Return the cake to the freezer for about an hour.
  14. Remove the pink frosting from the fridge and transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large swirl tip (I used #887). Remove the cake from the freezer and pipe a pink border around the top of the cake. Gently press sprinkles into the bottom third of the cake, and add a few on top, if desired. Return the cake to the freezer until ready to serve. The cake will keep up to 1 week in the freezer.
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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • You can modify this recipe to any number of layers–simply omit or add the ice cream layers you wish. Since making extra layers is as simple as spreading ice cream into a plastic-wrap-covered cake pan, you could keep going. And going. #skyhighicecreamcake
  • For the gel paste colors, I used AmeriColor turquoise and Soft Pink.
  • I used rainbow jimmies for the sides, but of course you can use any sprinkles you love.
  • If you were really longing for a super-sweet frosting for this cake, more like a traditional birthday cake style, you could certainly do that.

Good luck & enjoy!



 

Related posts:

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.
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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:

Inside-Out Neapolitan Cupcakes & More About Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Inside-Out Neapolitan Cupcakes

Happy Thursday! You know what’s funny? That very greeting always makes me laugh at myself, but yet I can’t help but write it — “Happy Thursday!” It’s so enthusiastic and peppy, yet, truthfully, when I’m composing these posts, 99% of the time it’s late at night, once the girls are asleep, and I’m often exhausted and feeling not even a wee bit exclamation mark-ish. Somehow, though, my inner enthusiast manages to get that out and keep it there. And not once, but twice: I had actually deleted it a few seconds after writing it, but then there it is again! Oh, and yet another. It’s a condition, I’m certain.

Before I get started with tonight’s post, I’m excited to announce the winner of this gorgeous print of the original painting “Violetta and the Tiny Tea Set” by Vanessa Valencia, (the incredible talent behind A Fanciful Twist) . This prize is courtesy of Vanessa, as a sweet gesture to one of my readers who visited and commented on my last post, “Ruffles & Roses: A Mad(ish) Tea Party.”  I was the lucky honorary guest this year to Vanessa’s popular virtual Mad Tea Party, and I had so much fun stepping even one pink-painted toe into her magical world. She is so unbelievably talented, and I adore her. So, the winner is…

#25 Bourbonnatrix: “Oh Rosie, what a pretty tea party! Love LOVE your cakes and sweets. Absolutely beautiful, and the rain, on some pics made it that much more special :) Great post!”

Congratulations, Bourbonnatrix (and thank you for the sweet words)!

So, tonight I want to chat about this fun cupcake version of my Inside-Out Neapolitan Cakes (truly, one of my favourites), and I also want to talk more about Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Would you believe that I get more emails with Swiss Meringue Buttercream related questions than anything else? Many readers write to tell me how it’s changed their lives, and they adore it with all of their being, and others write perplexed and filled with questions about troubleshooting, or just general concerns, etc. I thought it may be helpful to shed more light on the topic of the beloved Swiss Meringue Buttercream tonight, based on your questions and experiences.

I’ll quickly talk about these yummy cupcakes, which are, incidentally, filled with 3 flavours of Swiss Meringue Buttercream. A few months back I decided to turn a few of my favourite cake recipes/combinations into cupcakes, and it was a lot of fun and kind of a refreshing change from lofty layer cakes. After posting about the Campfire Delight Cupcakes, followed by the Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Buttercream Cupcakes, this was my third cake-into-cupcake experience, and they were as flavourful and moist as the mama version, but definitely a simpler alternative for those who don’t feel like embarking upon the layer cake process. If you do make the layer cake (and I do urge you to; it’s a crowd pleaser!), the cupcakes are a great addition to it — you can bake a quick batch of the cupcakes and then use your remaining Swiss Meringue Buttercream trio and fill the cupcakes. Who wouldn’t love their own little layered Neapolitan cupcake?

Inside-Out Neapolitan Cake via Sweetapolita

So here is the original Inside-Out Neapolitan Cake: 3 layers of a southern take on Devil’s Food Cake, including some rich and decadent ingredients such as mayonnaise, butter, and, of course, my favourite cocoa powder, (Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder – Extra Dark), which makes every chocolate cake rich and incredibly chocolaty, in my opinion, and filled with a layer of each Chocolate, Vanilla, and Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream. I particularly love the contrast of the cloud-like buttercream and the rich chocolate cake, and when the Neapolitan flavour combination comes from the filling and not the cake itself, it adds an interesting (and delicious) dynamic to Neapolitan cake.

Inside-Out Neapolitan Cupcakes

For the layered cupcake effect, I simply baked the cupcakes as muffins (in greased and floured muffin tins with no cupcake liners), and then, once cooled, sliced each one into 3, then piped each flavour of Swiss Meringue Buttercream between and on top, then added some chocolate sprinkles. I was happy with the cake-to-buttercream ratio in the end, after worrying it would be too much buttercream. The Swiss Meringue Buttercream is not overpowering, so is the perfect pairing to these cupcakes, and the dark, rich, southern Devil’s Food Cake can definitely hold its own surrounded by all three flavours. If you’d like to try these, I’ve included the recipe below. In the meanwhile, I want to chat more about making, using, eating, and storing Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream, or SMB, or SMBC as most call it can be an intimidating endeavour, but, honestly, once you get the hang of it, you may never look back. Let’s just get it all out in the open right  now. Truly, let’s just stay up all night talking it through until we’ve run the gamut of emotions and can, finally, share a group hug and skip off into the horizon, armed with our whisks and unwavering confidence to make it, use it, and decorate with it. Since this post comes as an answer to your emails and questions following my previous post, Swiss Meringue Buttercream Demystifyed, I’ll put it in point form and  Q&A format, and hopefully I cover it all. So, let us talk Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMB):

*If you would simply like to read the cupcake and buttercream recipe, they are at the bottom of this post.

A few quick facts about my deep and meaningful relationship with Swiss Meringue Buttercream:

1. No, I didn’t invent SMB, but I love its not-too-sweet taste and satiny texture, and I use it for all of my wedding cakes, gourmet cakes, and even many casual cakes and cupcakes. I’m not an SMB expert, but I make it often, love it, and was taught how to make it by professionals at Bonnie Gordon Confectionary College in Toronto.

2. The first time I tried SMB, I was used to sugary confectioners’ sugar-based , and I didn’t like the taste of SMB at all; I felt it tasted oily and too buttery. I didn’t think there was hope  for my converting to an SMB lover, or even liker.

3. I still love sugary frostings from time to time (as you will see some of my other posts), but once I acquired a taste for it, SMB quickly became my favourite frosting (after a few tries).

4. The first few times I made SMB, I used a lower grade butter, and it would not hold  my batch together; it wasn’t creamy, or satiny, but rather almost separated. It wasn’t until I was advised to try a better quality butter, that I figured out how to make the ultimate batch of SMB. I now use only premium butter, with my favourite being Lactancia.

5. One of my favourite treats in the entire world, and out of everything I’ve ever made, is a dark chocolate cake frosted with vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream. It’s just that good.

Now, onto the questions and answers:

Q: My SMB was coming along fine, but then, once I added all of the butter, it was still too runny. What did I do wrong, and is there hope at this stage?

A:Yes, there is hope! Actually, there’s nothing hopeless about this situation, but rather just an extra step involved. If you added your butter and the SMB is still runny, then 1 of 2 things (or both) has likely happened, in my opinion: 1. Your butter was much too soft (should be cool, but  not cold, which is about 20 minutes out of fridge for me) when you added it to your meringue. 2. Your meringue was still too warm when you started adding the butter. Be patient, because I know it takes seemingly forever for the bottom of the mixing bowl to feel neutral before you add the butter, but it needs to be, or, as you can imagine, the butter essentially melts when you add it. As for repairing this runny batch, you can take the entire mixing bowl, cover it, and place it in the fridge until it chills up a bit, say 30 minutes or so (or even in the freezer for 15 or so), and then re whip. It’s not an exact science, as far as how many minutes, or how cold, etc, but I can tell you this: in my experience, it is practically impossible to ruin a batch of SMB to the point of no repair. If your meringue has whipped up nicely, then you can get away with a lot from that point on, and it’s most often fixable. I promise, promise, promise!

Q: My SMB suddenly curdled, and looked like scrambled eggs in the bowl. Why did it do this, and is it ruined?

A: It often does hit this “scrambled egg” stage, and this happens to my batches occasionally as well. Basically, from what I can tell, this happens when the meringue is a little “shocked” by butter that is too cold, but after mixing for a few more moments, the butter blends in nicely, and it magically becomes smooth and satiny. Is it ruined? Never!

Q: I had no problem making my SMB, and it looked so beautiful and satiny, but when I tasted it, it tasted like pure butter. What did I do wrong?

A:You did nothing wrong, and I have a feeling you did everything right! Here’s the thing about SMB: It tastes much like butter and not a lot like sugary sugar, which to many is the draw, but if you are used to sugary frostings, chances are your palate hasn’t developed the tastebuds for SMB yet, and you simply aren’t used to it. There is also a chance that you just don’t like it – as with any food, it’s not for everyone. If you’re making it for fun, for your own friends and family, you may want to stick with the frostings you love, and revisit it at a later time, or not at all. If you’re aspiring to make wedding cakes and gourmet cakes, you will likely need to continue making it, in which case, trust me, you will probably find yourself licking the bowl and spatula clean, begging for more, a few batches down the road. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Q: Why do I have to use pure vanilla extract in my SMB when I have imitation vanilla extract on hand? Will anyone taste the difference?

A:If we’re being honest, then yes, they will. And so will you, I imagine. You have to keep in mind that sugary frosting (those made with icing sugar/confectioners’ sugar) are dominated by the taste of sugar, and the vanilla can be a little overpowered by the intense sweetness. With SMB, the sugar takes a backseat (albeit delightfully sweet, it’s still subtle), and the flavours, let it be simply vanilla, or others, shine through. That’s why it’s such a great base for almost any flavour you can dream of: coffee, liqueur, citrus, chocolate, berries, and more. It’s also important to add that pinch of salt, particularly when opting for vanilla flavoured SMB, because no, it doesn’t result in a salty flavoured frosting, but it really pulls the true flavours out — kind of crazy, but true.

Q: I refrigerated my SMB, then thawed it on the counter overnight, as suggested, but when I went to use it on my cake, it wasn’t satiny or smooth anymore, but rather airy and thick. What can I do to fix it?

A: The great thing about SMB is that it can be made in big batches and frozen, or refrigerated for up to a week. The only thing is you need to take a moment to reconstitute it back to its glorious satiny texture when you’re ready to use it. If it’s frozen or refrigerated, you need to thaw it at room temperature; this can take overnight if it’s frozen, and several hours if it’s refrigerated. There are a few ways you can revive it, but I do 1 of 2 things: 1. I take the thawed (but sometimes still cool) SMB in a microwavable container, and I warm it up for about 10 seconds, then remove container from microwave and stir it aggressively with a rubber spatula in kind of a back and forth motion, repeatedly until it’s smooth. If I think I need to warm it up a bit more, I microwave again but am careful not to melt it. I mix it really well with the spatula, to remove the air bubbles. 2. I take about 1/3 of the SMB I thawed and I warm it up by the above method, and put the remaining 2/3 in the electric mixer bowl. I add the 1/3 warmed SMB to the 2/3 cool SMB and mix on medium or medium-high speed with the paddle attachment (flat beater) until smooth and satiny.

Q: After I make my SMB, and add gel food colour to it, the SMB seems to “reject” the colour. What am I doing wrong?

A:I’ve been asked this question many times, and I hate to do this, I really do, but it’s seemingly the truth: In my experience, using Wilton brand colours are the culprit here. I know this can be an issue as far as availability goes, because sometimes the premium colour brands such as Sugarflair, Americolor, and Ateco colours are difficult to get, particularly outside of North America, but if you find you will be doing this kind of work often, I personally feel it would be worth it to get your hands on these colours.

Q: Is SMB stable enough to pipe such things as flowers, basketweave, etc.?

A:Yes! SMB is what you will see Martha Stewart uses for all of these techniques, and for good reason: it’s so light and fluffy yet super stable and resilient. Kind of perfection, really.

Q: Once my cake is frosted in SMB, does it have to be refrigerated?

A: Well, you know, it seems that all baker’s have a different opinion on this topic, but all I can do is tell you what I do. Many will tell you that it’s okay to leave SMB frosted cakes out for a few days, but, personally I like to refrigerate my cakes overnight, and then take them out first thing in the morning so that they are nice and soft and fluffy when I serve them. If I’m making it on the day of serving, I would just keep it out. I just find that Swiss Meringue Buttercream that is too warm isn’t appealing, and it if it’s too cool, it’s too buttery in texture. Definitely a fine line, but mostly, it’s just heaven.

I hope this helps in some way! All of that being said, I promise you with all my heart that it’s A. Not really as difficult as it may seem, and B. Even if it was, it’s worth it!

Inside-Out Neapolitan Cupcakes

Yield: 18 layered cupcakes

Ingredients

    For the Cupcakes:
  • 6 tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (230 g) packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup + 2 teaspoons (115 g) all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons (38 g) unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 g) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 g) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (5 g) kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) mayonnaise
  • For the Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
  • 5 large fresh egg whites (150 g)
  • 1-1/4 cup (250 g) superfine granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups (340 g) (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

    For the Cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter and flour standard cupcake pans as you would for muffins, 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, baking soda and baking powder into a medium bowl. Add the salt to the dry ingredients after sifting, and whisk dry ingredients.
  4. Alternate dry ingredients and buttermilk into creamed mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated, or finish by hand gently.
  5. Fold mayonnaise into batter with a whisk, until just blended.
  6. Fill cupcake pans 2/3 each (I like to use a 1.5 oz cookie scoop) and bake for approximately 17 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into center of cupcakes comes out just barely clean (a few crumbs). This works well for moist chocolate cake (not vanilla).
  7. Let cupcakes cool on wire rack for 10 minutes, then gently remove from pan and continue to cool on a wire rack. Let cool completely.
  8. For the Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
  9. 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.
  10. 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 10 minutes, or longer). Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add softened butter in chunks until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth).
  11. Add vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.
  12. You can also add a wide variety of flavourings, extracts, and more, but always add the vanilla first, as it brings out the true taste of the other flavours.
  13. Assembly of the Inside-Out Neapolitan Cupcakes:
  14. Divide buttercream evenly into 3 bowls. Flavour 1/3 chocolate, 1/3 strawberry, and leave final 1/3 vanilla (using instructions above). Add a few drops of pink gel colour to strawberry buttercream.
  15. Using a very sharp serrated knife, slice cupcakes twice, horizontally, resulting in 3 "layers."
  16. Fill one layer of each flavour (chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla), and top with sprinkles, if desired.
  17. Best eaten at room temperature on the day they were made, but can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days (in refrigerator overnight).

Notes

*Keep in airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week, leaving out at room temperature when needed, re-whipping in mixer for 5 minutes.

**Can freeze for up to 6-8 weeks. To thaw, place on counter overnight, and rewhip for 5 minutes with paddle attachment in an electric mixer.

***For Chocolate Buttercream, add 150 g (3/4 cup) melted bittersweet Belgian chocolate (the best you can get--I use Callebaut) to Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream and beat until incorporated.

****For Strawberry Buttercream, add strawberry puree to taste, OR a few drops of LorAnn Strawberry Flavor Oil.

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Southern Devil’s Cake Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking, by David Guas.

Happy Canada Day to my fellow Canadians, and Happy Independence Day to our American friends! Wishing you all a safe and happy weekend!

Good luck & enjoy!

Related posts:

Inside-Out Neapolitan Layer Cake

Inside-Out Neapolitan Cake via Sweetapolita

I have great news! My temporary cake-diet, you know, the one during which I stopped eating cake, is over, and I’ve resumed my more permanent cake-diet, the one where all I think about and often indulge in cake. And, let me say, I ended it and restored order just in time: 3 layers of rich Southern Devil’s Food Cake stacked between fluffy Neapolitan flavoured Swiss Meringue Buttercreams: Belgian Chocolate, Vanilla, and Strawberry, and topped with pure dark chocolate sprinkles from Holland. If you read the past post of mine, Neapolitan 5-Layer Birthday Cake with Strawberry Frosting, you’ll recall that I adore Neapolitan. In that case, the cake itself was Neapolitan. The flavours really bring me back to my childhood, and I was so happy to see that so many of you felt the same way after reading that post. Lately, I’ve been thinking more and more about Neapolitan and how I think there may be a serious shortage of it in my day-to-day life, so I’ve been dreaming up new ways to incorporate it into my world. This was a really fun start to that mission!  

Inside-Out Neapolitan Cake via Sweetapolita

If someone was ever cruel enough to force you to choose, would you say that you’re a cake person, or a frosting person? I find the older I get, the more I appreciate the cake itself. I would say that most times I would be perfectly content with a fresh piece of cake icing free, but wow, Swiss Meringue Buttercream makes me so very happy, and I’m pretty sure, with some focus, I could sit down and eat an entire bowl of it. Of course, its rich-but-light texture that’s not too sweet but just sweet enough is a dream in itself, but working with it, well, there’s just nothing better. It’s so satiny and holds up so well under fondant, on its own, in ruffles, smooth & perfect, or just about any way at all. You can flavour it with just about anything, and it can be frozen, then thawed, refrigerated, then room temperature–it will take just about anything! It may seem intimidating to make at first, but it’s really quick once you get the hang of it, and you will never look back. It’s also a really great way to take a simple layer cake and make it a bit more special and luxe.

Inside-Out Neapolitan Cake via Sweetapolita

As for the cake itself, I decided to take a break from my favourite Dark Chocolate Cake and go for a really rich and decadent Southern Devil’s Food Cake recipe I found, from Fine Cooking, that’s made with a few different ingredients than my usual recipe, such as mayonnaise, butter, and dark brown sugar. I did, though, make sure to include my must-have cocoa powder, Cacao Barry Extra Brute, for that really dark and rich taste. Divine. I really can say that I notice that extra richness that the butter and mayonnaise add–incredible!

Inside-Out Neapolitan Cake via Sweetapolita

What better way to show off all of these buttercream flavours, than to just tie it into the design of the cake, and leave the frosting off of the outside? I personally love cakes that are left open like this, and I think it’s a really refreshing change once in awhile, particularly when you play with interesting filling flavours, textures, and colours. Now, I did go quite generous with this filling because of the gorgeous, not-so-sweet Swiss Meringue Buttercream, but I wouldn’t recommend this with sugary frosting. As a “rule,” not that I’m big on those, you would aim for your layer-cake filling to be about 1/2 of the thickness of your cake layers.

Inside-Out Neapolitan Cake via Sweetapolita

I sliced this piece for the photo, and then covered it with wrap once I was done with the photographs. I wasn’t going to eat it (I promise), but then as the girls were walking to the bathroom for bath-time, they discovered it, and well, there we sat in the upstairs hallway sharing this with 3 forks and a lot of “mmmm”s. Nothing could have prepared me for the extreme cute that is watching a 4-year-old and a 19-month-old eat cake and sprinkles while sporting bare bums.

Sprinkles via Sweetapolita

Speaking of sprinkles, I have to tell you about this incredible range of imported sprinkles I found at the cutest little bakery and European grocer located in a wee little town near me, Orono, where I buy most of my antiques. I was there this past weekend, and I discovered an entire shelf of these gourmet sprinkles from the Netherlands. Aside from the fact that they offer pure dark chocolate, milk chocolate, anise, and many more sprinkle variations, they won me over at first glance–can you guess why? Yes! They have smothered these sprinkles all over toast, and this is, what I since discovered something the Dutch love to do! I can’t say it ever crossed my mind to do that, but I think I need to give that a try–immediately. Besides, any country that swears by mayonnaise and french fries is clearly on the brink of culinary genius (did I mention that the little grocer also sells large squeeze bottles of the french-fry-designated mayo?), and I trust them completely. I sprinkled a handful of the dark chocolate variety as the finishing touch to this cake. Love them! You can learn more about these De Ruijter sprinkles here or buy them here.

I hope you enjoy this cake as much as my bare-bummed little cakelets and I did.

Inside-Out Neapolitan Layer Cake

Yield: One 3-layer, 8-inch round cake

Ingredients

    For the Cake:
  • 3/4 cup (170 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (460 g) packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1-3/4 cups (220 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (90 g) unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1-1/4 teaspoon (7 g) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (10 g) kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 cup (360 ml) buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) mayonnaise
  • For the Buttercream:
  • 5 large fresh egg whites (150 g)
  • 1-1/4 cup (250 g) superfine granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups (340 g) (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 5 oz (150 g) quality bittersweet chocolate
  • Few drops Strawberry Flavor Oil, or 2 tablespoons (30 ml) strawberry puree
  • Few drops pink gel colour

Instructions

    For the Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter three 8-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, baking soda and baking powder into a medium bowl. Add the salt to the dry ingredients after sifting, and whisk dry ingredients.
  4. Alternate dry ingredients and buttermilk into creamed mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated, or finish by hand gently. Fold mayonnaise into batter with a whisk, until just blended.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. If possible, weigh the batter in each cake pan for 454 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 30 minutes, rotating once after 20 minutes. Cake is done when toothpick or skewer comes barely clean. Try not to over-bake. I tend to under-bake a few moments, so the skewer is a little bit gummy. This works well for a moist chocolate cake (not vanilla).
  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 Buttercream:
  8. 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.
  9. 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 10 minutes, or longer). Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add softened butter in chunks until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth).
  10. Add vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.
  11. Assembly of the Inside-Out Neapolitan Layer Cake
  12. Divide buttercream into 3, and flavour 1/3 chocolate and another 1/3 strawberry. Leave remaining buttercream vanilla. For chocolate, add melted and cooled bittersweet chocolate and blend until combined. For strawberry, add a few drops of Strawberry Flavor Oil (minimal) or 1-2 tablespoons of strawberry puree. Add a few drops of pink gel food colouring to strawberry buttercream
  13. Trim any doming on your cake layers with a very sharp, serrated bread knife. Wrap layers in plastic wrap and chill for 15 minutes in freezer.
  14. Spread a 1" circle of icing onto an 8" round thin cake board using an offset palette knife and place the first cake layer on top, face-up.
  15. Using a small offset palette knife, spread 1 cup of chocolate buttercream on top, leaving about a 1" gap from edges. Place second cake layer on top, face up, and repeat, using Vanilla Buttercream.
  16. Place final layer on top, face-down and repeat using Strawberry Buttercream.
  17. Fill 3 piping bags with remaining buttercreams fitted with Wilton 8B decorative tip, or the tip of your choice, decorate edges, filling in gaps. Top with dark chocolate sprinkles.

Notes

*Keep buttercream in airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week, leaving out at room temperature when needed, rewhipping in mixer for 5 minutes.

**Can freeze buttercream for up to 6-8 weeks. To thaw, place on counter overnight, and rewhip for 5 minutes with paddle attachment in an electric mixer.

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[Southern Devil's Cake Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking, by David Guas]

Good luck & enjoy!

 

 

PS. I love receiving your baking questions, and I find it works really well if you ask them in the comments section, so that when I reply to post-related questions in the comment section as opposed to via email, other readers with the same questions can read the information as well. Thanks so much!

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