Cheesecake Party Pops

Cheesecake Party Pops via Sweetapolita
So far this “spring” seems to be party-filled in our family — cakelet birthdays, little-cousin birthdays, a baby shower and more. And it seems that, for some reason, I’ve been feeling the need to add cheesecake pops to the mix for every party I attend. I love making them because no two batches of cheesecake pops look the same — you can flavour the cheesecake any way you like (I did these chocolate banana pops for a recent sock-monkey-themed party — so fun!) and pair it with any colour scheme and decorative flags for some festive flair. Essentially you can tailor-make every batch to any event, and, just like their cute-as-can-be cousin, the original cake pop, they seem to be a crowd-pleaser wherever they go. Who doesn’t love a pretty little cakey treat on a stick?

Cheesecake Party Pops via Sweetapolita

For this batch (which was a trial run of what I’ll bring to my cakelet’s upcoming Princess birthday party), I went with a classic cheesecake flavoured with Princess Cake & Cookie Bakery Emulsion and coated them in Wilton’s Pastel Colorburst Candy Melts (here’s a progress shot). The emulsion gives the cheesecake an elevated vanilla taste with a hint of citrus, and the cheesecake base is more rich than sweet, so the super-sweet candy coating is like a blanket of happy wrapped around the creamy cheesecake. Plus, they just look so darn cute!

Sweetapolita

Speaking of so darn cute, Neve was more concerned with putting them in their own paper candy liners than eating them, which is probably a good thing. Before inserting the lollipop sticks in the cheesecake pops, I made the little pink polka dotted flags by simply wrapping a piece of washi tape (paper crafting tape) around the tops, sticking the two sides together and snipping a little decorative “v” from each one. It’s definitely a quick and easy way to instantly turn any pop into a party.

Cheesecake Party Pops

If you find your cheesecake pops looking a little lumpy and bumpy after you coat them with the candy melts, you can dunk them a second time once they set (which happens super-fast), just as you did the first round. This gives them a smoother finish, but a thicker layer of the coating, so it’s personal preference. I did two “coats” on this batch, but I probably could’ve done with just the one. There’s just something about a bowl of melted confetti-filled vanilla candy coating that makes me want to dip everything in sight. I figured it was probably my safest approach to stick with the pops. (“Honey . . . have you seen the kids?” Whoops!)

Cheesecake Party Pops via Sweetapolita

Cheesecake Party Pops are rather addicting to make and eat – I usually make them ahead of time and keep them in the freezer (not airtight, as they tend to crack that way) until needed — they keep exceptionally well, and this way it leaves me time right before a party to make the cake (and they come in handy when you need to sneak a little sugar fix from the freezer). Wrapping them up as little party favours, or even sending with your cakelets to school for class parties, is a fun way to go!

Here’s the recipe:

Cheesecake Party Pops

Yield: Approximately 3 dozen pops

Rich, creamy cheesecake rolled into individual servings on sticks and coated with vanilla candy melts.

Ingredients

    For the Cheesecake:
  • 3 250-gram bars cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup (240 ml) sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) *Princess Cake & Cookie Bakery Emulsion
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup (45 g) all-purpose flour
  • For the Coating:
  • 3 283-gram bags of Wilton Colorburst Pastel Candy Melts
  • You will also need:
  • Waxed paper
  • 36 lollipop sticks (6-inch)
  • Washi tape (sticky paper tape aka crafting tape) of your choice for flags, optional

Instructions

    Bake the Cheesecake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of an 8 or 9-inch round springform pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add eggs gradually, beating well after each addition. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl, when necessary.
  3. Turn the mixer back on and add the sour cream, followed by the flavouring and salt. Sprinkle in the flour and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Use a rubber spatula to ensure the mixture is well combined, including the very bottom of the bowl.
  4. Pour the batter into prepared cake pan and bake on top of a baking sheet until the centre of cake is set (not jiggly) and top just begins to brown, about 40-45 minutes. Top of cake will crack.
  5. Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack, then chill covered loosely with plastic wrap, for at least 5 hours, or overnight if possible.
  6. Make the Pops:
  7. If making the flags for the pops, cut a piece of washi tape approximately 3-inches long and wrap around the top of the stick, making sure the edges line up before you press it down and adhere the two sides together. Use a sharp pair of scissors to snip a "v" shape from the end. Repeat with all of the sticks.
  8. Remove cheesecake from refrigerator and release outer ring of springform pan. Trim any top or edge crust off using a small, sharp knife. (Ideally there are no brown pieces anywhere on the cake.) Using a tablespoon or small stainless steel cookie scoop (35 mm/1 tablespoon capacity), spoon out 1 ball at a time from the cheesecake, rolling with your hands to create a uniform ball (you will likely have to wipe your hands with a clean, damp cloth after every few) like you would a meatball, and place on waxed-paper-lined baking sheet. Repeat until your baking sheet is full and continue with a second baking sheet until you have used up all of the cheesecake.
  9. Place 1/4 cup of the candy melts in a small microwave-safe bowl or ramekin and microwave until just melted (do not let them burn), about 20 seconds. Stir until smooth. Dip the end of each lollipop stick into the melted chocolate (about 1/2-inch) and insert straight down into the cheesecake ball about 2/3 of the way down. Repeat until you have a stick in every ball. Chill trays for at least 3 hours, or freeze for about 2 hours (but no longer -- you don't want them frozen).
  10. Once the cheesecake pops have been well-chilled and are firm to the touch, fill a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup (I use a 1-cup glass measuring cup) with candy melts and heat in microwave until melted. Begin with microwaving for 1 minute, stir, then pop back in microwave for 20 second intervals, stirring after each one. Be careful not to burn them.
  11. Remove one tray of the pops from the fridge/freezer and start dipping one at a time, dunking straight down then lifting straight up and out carefully. Holding the pop over the bowl, let excess coating drip back in. Place coated pop stick side up on a fresh piece of wax paper to set. Repeat until you have coated each one.

Notes

*If you can't get Princess Cake & Cookie Bakery Emulsion you can substitute it with 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon juice.

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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • I love using Princess Cake & Cookie Bakery Emulsion in place of vanilla for cheesecake (and oodles of other recipes! For my banana chocolate version I used the same cheesecake recipe, but replaced with Princess Bakery Emulsion with Banana Bakery Emulsion, coated the pops in dark chocolate melts and made little banana flags for the sticks.
  • You can also substitute the emulsion for pure vanilla extract and a tablespoon (15 ml) of lemon juice.
  • I use this 9-inch Springform Pan for the cheesecake.
  • You could use store-bought cheesecake, but just be sure to avoid the graham crust when rolling the balls.
  • I use this small Stainless Steel Scoop for making the actual cheesecake “balls.” 
  • I used Wilton Colorburst Candy Melts for these Cheesecake Party Pops and 6-inch Lollipop Sticks.
  • You can make the cheesecake up to two days in advance (keep refrigerated) and the cheesecake pops up to 2 weeks in advance and keep frozen. I recommend keeping them in large plastic resealable bags closed with the exception of a small opening (so they’re not airtight). Simply pull from freezer and pop into fridge until ready to use. You could also make up to 2 days ahead if you want to simply leave them in refrigerator.
  • For the party flags, I used pink polka dot washi tape folded over the top of each stick and snipped a “v” out of each one. I bought mine at Michael’s, but I have also seen this pink dotted pattern of tape on Etsy. So quick and easy!

Good luck & enjoy!


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Chevron Cake + Chevron & Stache Party!

Chevron & Stache Table via Sweetapolita

Something different today, friends! If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been recently, it’s been a whirlwind of chevron and staches in my kitchen for weeks. I’ve been preparing for Mary’s (my beloved sister-in-law) baby shower dessert table in honour of my soon-to-be-born nephew, and you know I loved every minute of this.

Chevron & Stache Dessert Table via Sweetapolita

image: Ted Sheppard

We celebrated this past Sunday at the lake, where the sun was shining and the house a buzz with Mary’s closest friends and family giddy with love and first-time-mom-to-be excitement. If ever there has been a woman meant to be a mom, it’s her, and we can’t wait to greet this cherished little man in May (and by greet I mean spoil beyond belief). And what better way to celebrate than with countless pounds of butter and sugar disguised as an array of little man mustaches and chevron cake?

Chevron & Stache Party via Sweetapolita

Mary loves blue of all shades, particularly turquoise, and she loves chevron. And her man loves all-things mustache, so it seemed like an obvious choice to embrace the recent trend of chevron and staches with a slight rustic twist, since the party was being held in cottage country. I did find some incredible inspiration (check out this unbelievable party) peppered all over Pinterest, so it wasn’t long before I found myself scribbling all sorts of dessert table details and sketches on paper.

I knew that a crisp graphic two-tier chevron cake was going to be part of the plan, so I spent a few weeks planning how I was going to execute that. I’ve never done a chevron cake, and I really wanted it to be super-clean and almost paper-like. Before we chat about chevron cake, I’d love to share a few photos from the rest of the dessert table:

Stache Cookies via Sweetapolita

I started with a big batch of mustache cookies using my favourite dark chocolate cookie recipe and my Fred and Friends Munchstaches Cookie Cutter/Stamps – I’ve been dying to use these! I also made a huge batch of salted chocolate chip cookies and saved a few scoops of the cookie dough to add to the cake filling. One of my new favourite buttercream variations, for certain.

Chevron & Stache Party via Sweetapolita

I made some lemon cupcakes filled with lemon curd and topped with lemon frosting, along with some funfetti cupcakes and fondant-covered little man cookies.

Mustache Lollies via Sweetapolita

I couldn’t resist making some chocolate mustache lollies (my favourite ones are the “blonde” staches, for some unknown reason). I used candy melts this time, just for pure convenience really. They do yield a super-glossy and resilient stache!

Chevron & Stache Party via Sweetapolita

Cousin Leah made these adorable mustache cake pops, which were a big hit — especially with cakelet Neve who said these were her “most favourite thing on the party table.”

Chevron & Stache Party via Sweetapolita

Chevron & Stache Party via Sweetapolita

image: Ted Sheppard

I made a batch of cheesecake pops and topped them with some little mustache flags (I’m in love with these little flags!). I love cheesecake pops for a dessert table because you can make and freeze them ahead of time, I discovered. Since I couldn’t possibly make all of these treats at the last minute, it was important that I could do as much as possible in the weeks leading up to the party. I froze them in large plastic freezer bags, opened just a bit. I took them from freezer to fridge the day before the party and they held up so well during the travel and, most importantly, tasted fabulous.

Chevron Cake via Sweetapolita

image: Ted Sheppard

So, now let’s talk Chevron Cake! The cake was a 5-inch round atop an 8-inch round dark chocolate cake filled with cookie dough Italian Meringue buttercream and covered in vanilla buttercream, marshmallow fondant and finally chevron “panels” made from white and turquoise candy clay. A week or so before I started making the cake, I started looking for a chevron pattern I liked online, to use as a template — who knew there were so many, but the size of the chevron really does change the whole look of the cake. I knew I wanted it to be on the larger size because I liked the visual, but also because I wanted to apply the chevron pattern in panels, and I knew that if the pattern itself was too small there’d be more chance for misalignment — eek!

First I should say that the Candy Clay recipe is from the Wilton website, and I highly recommend it. Candy clay is essentially like a yummy playdough that boasts an amazing sheen, softens with the warmth of your hand, doesn’t dry out when exposed to air and cuts into shapes beautifully. It’s so easy to make (like scary easy) — it’s literally just melted candy melts and corn syrup stirred together — the corn syrup seizes the candy melts and, once it’s dried out a bit, you simply knead it into a modeling clay of sorts. And while you can’t cover a cake in it (it has no real stretch component), it’s amazing for decorating fondant-covered cakes. It doesn’t bend or distort like fondant does when you try to pick up small pieces or strips, making it ideal for this kind of a graphic design.

So I went with this pattern template, printed it out at 100% and then cut a section from it that would become my panel template (you could use any printable chevron pattern online or even chevron scrapbook paper). My cakes were 4.5″ high, so I cut the template piece at that height, one chevron wide. I decided to cut the chevron straight down the middle, resulting in two pieces, so essentially each panel was half of a chevron wide (1.75-inches). The circumference of my 8-inch cake was 26-inches, so I knew I needed 14 panels (26 divided by 1.75 = 14).

Using an awesome technique created by Jessica Harris, I simply placed waxed paper squares over the template paper (just a bit bigger than the template), applied a thin layer of shortening to the wax paper and lined up the bottom edges. I then placed strips of the candy clay (turquoise and white) along the lines of the template until it was covered, then trimmed the edges with a small sharp knife. I gently rubbed some shortening to the area of the cake where each panel would be applied, using a paper towel, and then carefully pressed each panel onto the cake, making sure each one was straight. Technically you could just do the turquoise (or colour of your choice) portion of the template, leaving the white as negative space, but I really wanted to fill in the white areas with white candy clay.

To ensure your pieces are all the same thickness (and to save you a lot of time and rolling), use a Pasta Machine at a nice thin setting to feed your rolled candy clay pieces through (it also works well for fondant and gumpaste too). I cut one “stripe” from a leftover piece of the template paper and used it to cut all of my chevron stripes with before placing on the wax paper.

In a perfect world, if your math is right, your panels should all line up, but remember that if each one is off even a tiny bit, then in the end you might end up with too much space or not enough for that last panel. (Trust me.) But, you can always have a “back” to the cake if you end up with an oopy with the final panel.

I made the cake topper by simply cutting five 1-inch patterned paper circles and threading them together and securing them to two skewers. I was inspired by this amazing cake, and it’s one of my favourite details!

And just in case you’re feeling the need to nestle your chevron cake among an array of other desserts, here’s a recap of the Chevron & Stache treats that were part of the party:

Chevron & Stache Dessert Table Menu: 

Party Detail Sources:

Little Man graphics (cupcake wrappers, signage, large table banner and cupcake toppers): thatpartygirl

Wooden Chevron & Mustache party forks: Sucre Shop

Mustache Flags (on cheesecake pops): Postscripts

Mustache Cookie Cutters: Fred and Friends Munchstaches Cookie Cutter/Stamps

Brown Parchment Cupcake Liners: Regency Tulip Baking Cups

Mustache Lolli Mold: Mustache Fun Face Lollipop Molds

Mustache Mold for Fondant Cookie Toppers: Accoutrements Mustache Ice Cube Tray

And that was that! (Exhale.)

I’ll see you soon with a super sun-shiney cake post. ♥

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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!

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Rainbow Doodle Birthday Cake

Rainbow Doodle Cake via Sweetapolita

I hope you had a wonderful weekend filled with feasting, family, and friends. I know we certainly did! We celebrated Easter as well as our little Reese’s 4th birthday. On Saturday we went to “The County,” where Grant grew up, to visit his dad (Grandpa), step-mom Kathy (Grammy), and family at the farm. It’s such a neat situation, because it’s the house Grant grew up in, which is on the same property as his grandfather’s (Poppy) farmhouse, so when we go with the kids, there’s so much for them to see and do. With Easter and Reese’s birthday falling on the same weekend this year (a rare occurrence), we decided it would be fun to celebrate in The County on Saturday. When Reese and I were talking about birthday cake ideas, we thought it would be the perfect time to make the brilliant Rainbow Cake.

When Reese first saw the Rainbow Cake on Whisk Kid’s blog, she fell in love with it, and rightfully so–this cake is a kid’s dream come true with its 6 vibrant rainbow-coloured layers and tons of buttercream! Kaitlin’s blog is filled with scrumptious cakes and treats, photos, and helpful baking hints, and if you haven’t yet, you really must check it out! As a cake girl myself, I have to tell you that I think her rainbow cake invention was likely the most genius layer cake design in the history of cake. She’s pretty amazing herself–a 20 year old sophomore at Michigan State University who happens to be a super-bright, passionate and talented baker/blogger, and more. If you don’t believe me, ask Martha Stewart who had Kaitlin herself on the show to demonstrate the making of the Rainbow Cake!

Rainbow Doodle Cake via Sweetapolita

I told Kaitlin that I think the fact that she left her buttercream Rainbow Cake white on the outside was complete brilliance and perfectly executed. I was tempted to do that as well, but I thought it would be so fun to let Reese design the outside of her own cake, so I covered the buttercream Rainbow Cake with some white fondant, chilled it overnight, and then handed her a pack of AmeriColor Food Colour Markers (below)–again, a dream come true for an artsy and infinitely creative kid like her. I ordered these pens awhile back, and promised her that someday soon she could colour on her own cake. She was so excited that she even sketched out some ideas on paper with regular markers, so that she was ready and prepared (this is so my child). First thing she did was write her first name, then her full name, then a number 4. Then she thought about it, and just did whatever she wanted until the cake was filled with doodles. My personal favourite is the rainbow and the big yellow sun. Wouldn’t it be cute to make matching sugar cookies covered in white fondant, and let the kids decorate their own cookies at a birthday party? Or even writing guests’ names on fancy cookies as place cards. So much fun!

Rainbow Doodle Cake via Sweetapolita

What I absolutely love about this cake is the element of surprise and the wow-factor, when the first piece is cut and served. There was literally some audible gasps at the table when they saw the rainbow inside, and the kid inside of me couldn’t be more in love with rainbow layers (was a tween in the 80s, what can I say). The cake is made by dividing and colouring vanilla cake batter using gel colours (I used the recipe below, but any vanilla butter cake would work well) and baking in separate pans for 15 minutes each. The process was really a fun change for me and Reese helped colour all of the bowls of batter. This piece with “Alyea” on it makes me smile; I suppose that’s one way to claim your piece! I think I may start doing that around here. The cake itself was so delicious, and I just adore Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream, so that was the perfect addition to the vanilla cake and vanilla fondant. So decadent with all of that gorgeous buttercream!

Here’s our little birthday girl full of love, laughter, and life . . .

Just sitting around being cute and, well, four. It’s hard to believe that she’s four, actually. Sounds cliche, but it’s so true. When she was a baby, I used to sing “Turn Around” to her on a regular basis after hearing Grant’s stepmom sing it to her–every single time I sang that to her I would be crying before even the end of verse 1:

Where are you going my little one, little one
Where are you going my baby, my own
Turn around and you’re two
Turn around and you’re four
Turn around and you’re a young girl
Going out of the door

Okay, it seems that even writing about it makes me cry, but that’s exactly what happened: I turned around she was two, and then I turned around and she was four. Here’s my favourite photo of her when she was two:

 

My favourite of Reese’s modeling gigs–definitely a particularly proud mommy moment (sorry if that’s a total mommy brag)! Well, on second thought, I won’t complain that she’s four, because as the next verse of that song reminds me, I’ll turn around and she’ll be having “babes of her own.” I’ll take four and enjoy every minute of it.

Sweetapolita

An unexpected birthday highlight at the farm was driving Grandpa’s tractor for the first time. Apparently, she’s quite the driver!

After those tractor-driving lessons from Grandpa, she was ready to drive cousin Lucas’ Jeep, and did she ever.

Then it was time to hitch a ride with cousin Piper; now if only the closest Starbucks wasn’t 30 miles away . . .

Have a wonderful week! We were lucky enough to have another fun birthday dinner for Reese with Grant’s mom (Nanny) and sister, Mary, here at our house last night, and we’re about to have yet another tonight, since it’s her actual birthday today . . . a birthday Mardi Gras of sorts!

Here’s the recipe for the Rainbow Cake followed by my how-to for the Doodle Cake version:

Rainbow Doodle Birthday Cake         {click here for printable recipe}

Rainbow Cake via Whisk Kid

White Cake (but not really)

2 sticks (226 g) butter, room temp
2 1/3 c (466 g) sugar
5 egg whites, room temp
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 c (375 g) all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 1/2 c (355 g) milk, warmed for 30 sec in microwave to bring to room temp
Red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple GEL food coloring. Liquid will not be vibrant enough!

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Oil and line how ever many 9” cake pans you have (I have three and I just reused them).

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Cream the sugar and butter, then add the egg whites (I cracked them all into one bowl) and add them a little at a time. Add the vanilla and mix until fully incorporated. Then, alternating between wet and dry, add the milk and flour mixture in two parts.

Divide the batter amongst 6 bowls (I did it by weight. Weigh your mixing bowl before you begin adding ingredients and then subtract the weight of the bowl from the final measurement after the batter is completed. Divide that number by six and add that weight of batter to each bowl), and then whisk a fair amount of the appropriate food color into each bowl. Keep in mind that the color of the unbaked batter will be the color of the baked batter. Pour into the pans and bake for 15 minutes each.

When you remove them from the oven, let them rest on the cooling rack, in the pan, for ten minutes. Then flip, cover, and stash them in the fridge to cool quickly.

Lemony Swiss Meringue Buttercream

To fill and crumb coat:
9 egg whites
1 ¾ c (350 g) sugar
4 sticks (454 g) of butter, room temp
2 tsp lemon extract

To frost:
5 egg whites
1 c (200 g) sugar
2 sticks (227 g) butter, room temp
1 tsp lemon extract

Cook the egg whites and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved (test by rubbing some between your fingers. If it’s completely smooth, it’s done). Pour into another bowl (a stand mixer is preferable) and whip on high speed until room temp. Then, on a medium-slow speed, add the butter, waiting until each piece is completely incorporated before adding the next. After all the butter has been added, turn the mixer back to high speed and whip until it has come together, about five minutes. Add the extract, beat briefly and then use.

If the buttercream seems soupy after all of the butter is added and does not come together after whipping, refrigerate for 5 to 7 minutes and continue whipping until it becomes fluffy and workable.

Assembly
Stack the layers in your preferred order and fill and frost as you would any other cake.

Sweetapolita’s Notes & Doodle Cake How-To:

1. For tips & tricks on making Swiss Meringue Buttercream, both Kaitlin & I have posts about this, so lots of info!

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Demystified and How to Make Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • You may find my previous post 50 Tips for Baking Better Cakes helpful with this cake (and hopefully others).
  • I was worried at first that I somehow made the layers too thin, but they were perfect, so don’t panic when they seem almost pancake-like! Once you pile 6 of those layers and all of that buttercream, the cake is a perfect height. Mine was about 4.5″ high. Use a 9-inch,  1/4″ thick cake board when building the cake.
  • To make the doodle cake, cover the buttercream cake in white fondant and refrigerate overnight. You will need approximately 2 lbs, 3 oz of fondant for a 9″ round 5″ high cake. Remove cake from refrigerator and let child (or anyone!) colour all over cake using AmeriColor Food Colour Markers (below). Place cake back in refrigerator every 15 minutes or so, if it begins to soften before child is finished (otherwise you will get dents in the cake). It’s also fun to have everyone at a birthday party sign the cake, write a message, draw a picture, etc!
  • You can store finished cake in refrigerator, but serve at room temperature or buttercream won’t be soft enough and the flavours won’t come through as intended. I typically take this type of fondant-covered cake out of refrigerator about 6 hours before serving. Just a note the cake will dent very easily when ready to serve,  so avoid touching the cake itself.
  • As another kids craft cake alternative, you may like Paintable Chocolate Peanut Butter & Jelly Cakes.

You can find the AmeriColor Food Colour Markers here:

*A note about the rainbow cake colours: I used AmeriColor electric gel colours to get such vibrant hues in the cake while adding minimal colouring. Here are the colours I used and links to find them:

Electric Purple AmeriColor Gel Colour – Electric Purple – 4 oz
Electric Blue AmeriColor Gel Colour – Electric Blue – 4 oz
Electric Green AmeriColor Gel Colour – Electric Green – oz
Electric Yellow AmeriColor Gel Colour – Electric Yellow – 4 oz
Electric Orange AmeriColor Gel Colour – Electric Orange – 4 oz
Super Red AmeriColor Gel Colour – Super Red – 4 oz

Good luck & enjoy!



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Neapolitan 5-Layer Birthday Cake with Strawberry Frosting

5-Layer Neapolitan Cake via Sweetapolita

Well, hello! What an exciting few days it’s been. Lots going on, and as usual, no two days have been the same. As I mentioned in my last post, I was thrilled when Ree (The Pioneer Woman) chose two of my cake photos for her Food Photo Assignment–another one of her wildly popular photo contests. It meant so much to me, considering I’m pretty new at all of this, and there were, as usual, so many amazing entries.  My blue birthday cake photo ended up winning as a finalist in the competition, so I could not be more pleased!

Coincidentally, most of what I learned about photography was from Ree. I find her photography tutorials to be particularly helpful, down-to-earth, and as always with The Pioneer Woman, charming. If you’d like to take a peek at my blue birthday cake photo and more about the results of the Pioneer Woman Photography Food Photo Assignment, you can view it here, along with the gorgeous winning photo by Jennifer Glass.

Speaking of birthday cakes, I was in a layer-cake kind of mood this week, both making and eating, of course. One of my favourite layer cakes is Neapolitan Cake: layers of rich chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla cake, layered with homemade strawberry jam. The flavours really work so well together, and I personally find it really unique and quite appealing, if not striking, once sliced. What’s interesting, is that most people know of it, and I think really enjoy it, yet I don’t see it often. I made Neapolitan cake for the first time last year for Neve’s birthday.

I had the idea to make a Neapolitan Cake based on the colour-scheme of her party, but wasn’t sure what would work for filling. I noticed Martha Stewart had done a 3-layer version using  jam as filling, which I thought was perfect. The guests seemed to really enjoy it, and I had a lot of fun making it. I love when a cake looks pretty traditional and simple on the outside, but has an unexpected appearance on the inside. No matter how many cakes I make, I’m always secretly (or not so secretly) excited and eager to slice it and see what it looks like inside–particularly when it’s a multi-flavoured cake, like this one. Such anticipation! It seems people can’t resist peeking over my shoulder with curiosity when I first slice into a cake, and this one usually earns an “oh, wow!”

 Neapolitan Layer Cake via Sweetapolita

Kind of crazy looking inside, right? I love the contrast, but most importantly (always), it is really, truly a delight to eat. I find you don’t really taste the jam filling, but it adds a great strawberry flavour and makes the cake even more moist and yummy. It tastes so very Neapolitan and, to me, very reminiscent of my childhood. I feel as though even the cake itself with its colour-combination has a retro feel to it, which I really like.

Neapolitan Layer Cake via Sweetapolita

This time, I went for a sugary pink Strawberry Frosting, for more of a fun birthday cake taste, and to carry through the strawberry flavour a bit more.  The possibilities are endless, though, as you could opt for chocolate frosting, ganache filling, Swiss meringue buttercream and fondant, and more. Visually, I think I prefer it with a nice chocolate fondant over buttercream, but really, pink is never a bad idea (or rarely, at least!), and this Strawberry Frosting is so delicious.

I used simple homemade strawberry jam between the layers, which I prefer both for taste and look with the Neapolitan Cake. It’s also very quick and easy to fill that way. If you filled it with frosting, I feel it might be a bit much, since there’s already so much going on, but that is definitely personal preference, and the cake flavours lend to vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry fillings and frostings.

If you’d like to recreate this one, here’s what I did:

1. Baked my favourite Strawberry, Vanilla, and Chocolate cake recipes for 9″ round pans. You can layer any way you like, but I chose to torte my chocolate and strawberry 9″ round cakes into 2 each, and just used one vanilla. Each of the 5 layers are about 1″ high.

2. Using a thin 9″ round cake board, I placed the first layer down, filled with jam,  and repeated until the cake was stacked. I then covered the whole cake in airtight container and placed in fridge for about an hour.

3. I made a batch of Strawberry Party Frosting, tinted it Strawberry pink, using a few drops of AmeriColor Electric Pink (I tend to use this brighter version of pink gel often, because with buttercream being a yellow tinge, it seems to cut right through the yellow, making the result a nice bright pink.). Once the cake was chilled, I frosted it, added my favourite white sprinkles, and then piped a classic birthday cake star tip border and shell border on the bottom, using a Wilton Open Star Tip #22 for both.

You can use your favourite Chocolate and Vanilla recipe, or you can use my favourites (links attached). I’ve included a recipe for Strawberry Cake, since it’s seemingly hard to find a good one. I really like this one that I found online last year and modified slightly. Keep in mind that with all of the white sugar in this Strawberry Cake recipe, the crust of the cake gets a bit more golden brown than the other flavours. This recipe makes two 9″ rounds, but I made cupcakes with the extra batter. You could divide the recipe in half.

Strawberry Cake          {click here for printable recipe}

Ingredients:

2 cups white sugar

1 (3oz) package of strawberry gelatin (JELL-O)

1 cup butter, softened

4 eggs, room temperature

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup whole milk, room temperature

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup strawberry puree made from frozen sweetened strawberries (or you could use unsweetened and add a tablespoon of white sugar)

Method:

1. Prepare two 9″ round pans (butter and flour, or parchment lined).

2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and dry strawberry gelatin until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Mix vanilla and milk together. Combine and whisk dry ingredients, adding to creamed mixture and alternating with milk/vanilla until just combined. Blend in strawberry puree. Pour into prepared pans.

3. Bake in 350 F for about 25 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool in pans on wire rack for 20 minutes, then inverting onto wire rack to finish cooling.

Recipe for Strawberry Cake adapted from allrecipes.com, submitted by GothicGirl.

Strawberry Party Frosting         {click here for printable recipe}

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
8 cups icing sugar (confectioners’)
120 ml whipping cream
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon water
pinch of salt
few drops of LorAnn Strawberry Flavor Oil (to taste)
few drops of AmeriColor Electric Pink Gel Color
Method: 
Beat the butter and icing sugar in an electric mixer on low with the paddle attachment for about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla, water, whipping cream, salt, and strawberry oil, and whip on high speed until fluffy and smooth–about 4 minutes. Add colour and mix until well blended. If consistency is too thick, add more water 1 teaspoon at a time, then whip again for 30 seconds or so.
Makes enough to fill and frost a 3-layer (or 5-6 thin layers) 9″ cake.
For the Neapolitan Cake, you will also need chocolate and vanilla layers:

One 9″ round (sliced in 2 horizontally) Rich Chocolate Cake from Rich & Ruffled Chocolate Celebration Cake post, or click here for printable recipe.

One 9″ round Snow White Vanilla Cake (sliced in 2 horizontally) from Old-Fashioned Party Cake post, or click here for printable recipe.

I hope you love this cake as much as we do! Seeing as Grant rarely eats cake, and he’s had 3 pieces so far, I think it’s a hit!

Good luck & enjoy!

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