Diner Dream Cake

You’re here! Thank you for not forgetting about me completely while I wasn’t able to post for the past few weeks. I promise it won’t be like that forever, but I have to admit while I work on the book it’s been more difficult for me to post often. (It will be worth it!) It could also have something to do with my crazy side, and how many times I make a recipe before I’m happy with it and ready to share. Either way, I’m here now and I’m so pleased you are too. xo

So let’s talk about Diner Dream Cake. (And my need to give include superfluous adjectives in my cake titles?) I call it that because after I made it to satisfy my recent craving for diner-ish flavours — things like chocolate chips, peanut butter, vanilla and whipped cream. After I assembled the cake I realized that it actually did look like something you’d find in a little hidden gem of a diner (I think it was the cherry on top that did it).

It’s a super simple cake to make, which is always a plus, and I love the way these flavours came together: moist chocolate chip buttermilk cake filled with a fluffy peanut butter mousse and then frosted in a quick and easy vanilla bean whipped cream frosting. It was looking rather . . . vanilla, so I crushed up some roasted peanuts and tossed them with turbinado sugar and a bit of pink sanding sugar and coated the cake — it always tastes so good to me when things are super fluffy and then there’s a hit of crunch in there. (Yep, I was the one kid who always ordered those little peanuts on my McDonald’s sundaes.)

I assembled this final cake moments before the sun was out and ready for me to photograph it in the short time I had with the right natural light, so you can see that perfect slices only happen when cake is chilled ahead of time, and that I don’t have cake-cutting super powers unless the cake is set. But isn’t it true that the messiest cakes are the best tasting? Soft, fluffy, fall-apart cakes are the ultimate to eat.

And I don’t know, I haven’t made a lot of chocolate chip cakes yet, but I realized that simply tossing premium chocolate chips into vanilla cake batter really is what makes a cake “chocolate chip cake,” so if you have a favourite vanilla cake recipe, you could always use that and toss in the chips and go from there.

The peanut butter mousse filling is a cream cheese based filling with peanut butter, icing sugar, whipped cream and vanilla — a simple mix, whip, mix and it’s done. When I spotted it on Serious Eats I knew it would be the perfect peanut butter filling — there’s something about cream cheese and peanut butter that is so magical and reminds of peanut butter pie. The vanilla bean whipped cream frosting I did this time is just a simple whip of whipped cream, icing sugar and vanilla bean paste. It takes 2 minutes to make, and if you whip it until firm peaks form (just don’t overdo it until it appears dry and spongy), you can pipe a border and frost the cake with ease.

You definitely don’t have to coat the cake in peanuts and sugar to make it a tasty cake, but who wants to pass up a chance to, literally, through handfuls of sugar and peanuts at your cake? Plus I love that the sugar creates this subtle sparkle on a cake you wouldn’t expect to find sparkle . . .

I hope you’re all having an amazing summer so far. With the sugar storm in my kitchen for the past few months, the time has been going by alarmingly quickly. So much so that it just dawned on me that next Tuesday I’m turning thirty nine. As in years old. As in next year I’m, you know, the number that comes after thirty nine. I’m not one to worry about age, but I have to admit that number frightens me. But hey, a birthday is a birthday, and where there is a birthday there is celebration. And where there is celebration there is confetti. And where there is confetti, you know there’s going to be cake. And around cake is no place to be anything but happy. ♥

Diner Dream Cake

Yield: One 3-layer, 6-inch round cake or one 2-layer, 8-inch round cake

Three layers of moist chocolate chip buttermilk cake filled with peanut butter mousse, smothered in vanilla bean whipped cream frosting and coated with sugar & peanuts. With a cherry on top!

Ingredients

    For the Chocolate Chip Cake:
  • 5 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 whole egg, at room temperature
  • 1-1/3 (320 ml) cups buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract OR Princess Bakery Emulsion
  • 2-3/4 cups (317 g) cake flour, sifted
  • 1-3/4 cups (350 g) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (18 g) baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon (5 g) salt
  • 10 tablespoons (130 g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 20 even pieces
  • 3/4 cup (130 g) quality semisweet chocolate chips
  • For the Peanut Butter Mousse:
  • 1 package (250 g brick) cream cheese, cold and cut into cubes
  • 1 cup (125 g) icing sugar (confectioners')
  • 3/4 cup (130 g) smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) whipping cream (35% fat)
  • For the Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream Frosting:
  • 2 cups (480 ml) whipping cream (35% fat)
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) icing sugar (confectioners')
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla bean paste
  • Pinch of salt
  • For the Peanut Sugar Coating:
  • 1/2 cup (75 g) roasted peanuts, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) turbinado sugar
  • Few tablespoons of pink sanding sugar, optional
  • 1 maraschino cherry

Instructions

    For the Chocolate Chip Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter the bottom of three 7-inch round cake pans (or two 8-inch round or 9-inch round pans) and line bottoms with parchment rounds.
  2. In a medium measuring cup with a spout, lightly whisk the egg whites and yolk. In a separate measuring cup, combine the buttermilk and vanilla.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. With the mixer set to low speed, add the cold butter one piece at a time, about 10 seconds apart. (You can keep half in the fridge while you add the first half of butter.) Continue mixing on low speed until all of the butter has been blended and there are no clumps. Mixture should have a fine crumbly, cornmeal-like texture.
  4. Gradually add the buttermilk mixture to these dry ingredients, and mix on medium speed for 4 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure all of the ingredients are well incorporated. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the egg mixture; once the mixture has been added, increase speed to medium and beat for 1 minute, but no more.
  5. Toss the chocolate chips with a few pinches of cake flour and gently fold into batter.
  6. Divide batter evenly among the 3 prepared pans (use a kitchen scale to ensure 3 even layers--cakes should weight ~450 g each). Place two of the cake pans on a baking sheet and bake until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs but no batter, about 23 minutes. Repeat with the final layer. Let the layers cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then loosen sides with thin metal spatula or knife, and carefully turn out onto wire racks, peel of the paper liners, and let cool completely.
  7. For the Peanut Butter Mousse:
  8. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the cream cheese, icing sugar, peanut butter and vanilla on medium speed until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Transfer mixture to another bowl (unless you're lucky enough to have another mixer bowl). Wash and dry both bowl and whisk attachment and chill in the freezer or refrigerator.
  9. Fit the mixer with the chilled bowl and whisk and whip the cream on medium high speed until firm peaks form (but not clumpy), about 1 minute. Fold whipped cream into peanut butter mixture and cover and chill until ready to use.
  10. For the Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream Frosting:
  11. Chill your mixer bowl and whisk in freezer for 5 minutes, then whip the cream, icing sugar and salt on medium high speed until firm peaks form (but not clumpy). Add vanilla bean paste and mix on low speed until incorporated. Best used right away.
  12. Assembly of the Cake:
  13. I recommend making the filling while the cakes are in the oven, and then chilling until the cakes are cool. Once cakes are cool and you have filled them with the peanut butter filling, make the whipped cream frosting (it only takes a couple of minutes to make).
  14. Trim any dark edges or crust from cake layers with a very sharp serrated knife. Place your first cake layer, face-up, onto a cake stand, plate or cake board. Place half of the peanut butter filling on top of the layer and spread evenly using a small offset spatula.
  15. Repeat until you come to your final cake layer, which you will place face-down. If you find the cake too soft and unstable, put in refrigerator for a few moments to firm it up, then resume. Use your clean offset spatula to carefully smooth the frosting so it's flat against the cake.
  16. an even layer of frosting to the entire cake, to seal in crumbs. Chill again until frosting is firm, about 30 minutes.
  17. Place cake plate/board with cake onto a turntable, if possible. Using an offset spatula, spread the whipped cream frosting on the top of the cake, letting it extend about 1/2" over the edge, then smooth excess onto side of cake. With a medium straight spatula, cover the sides of the cake until you have a smooth even coat of frosting by slowly turning the cake turntable with one hand while holding the spatula steady with the other. Use your small offset spatula to smooth top of cake. Place remaining whipped cream in a pastry bag fitted with a large closed star tip (I used #887) and pipe a border around the top perimeter for the cake. Chill for 30 minutes.
  18. In a medium ziploc bag, combine the peanuts and sugar. Remove cake from fridge put back onto turntable. Place turntable and cake onto a baking sheet (for ease of clean-up), and gently coat the sides of the cake with the sugar mixture. (You may have to "throw" it at the cake!) Top with a maraschino cherry.
  19. Keep cake refrigerated for up to 2 days, but serve at room temperature. Best enjoyed day 1.
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http://sweetapolita.com/2013/07/diner-dream-cake/

[peanut butter mousse filling adapted from Serious Eats]

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • The recipe is for a three layer, 6-inch round cake, but the one in the photo is an 8-inch round. If you want to make a three layer, 8-inch round cake, you can increase the cake recipe by half (rather than doubling the recipe). You can keep the filling and frosting recipes the same.
  • You can make the cake layers up to 1 day ahead, but keep them wrapped tightly and at room temperature. I do, though, recommend making them the morning you need the cake, if possible.
  • You can make the peanut butter filling one day ahead, but keep refrigerated.
  • The whipped cream frosting is best made right before you need it.
  • For the frosting, I used Madagascar Vanilla Bean Paste – a quick and easy way to get that real vanilla bean taste and those awesome little black vanilla flecky things we all love.
  • For all of my cake decorating, I use a cake turntable–it’s definitely a must-have. I have a homemade version, but have recently started using the Ateco Revolving Cake Stand, and I love it.
  • I always use a Small Offset Spatula and Medium Straight Spatula when frosting a cake.
Good luck & enjoy!

Related posts:

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Popcorn

Peanut Butter Layer Cake via Sweetapolita

Happy Weekend! First off, before we talk cake, I want to let you know that the crazy website problems I’ve been having the last few days should hopefully be officially better now, so you should no longer have any issues getting onto my site. My current website server has really let me down (I think a switcheroo is in order!), but it seems that things are back in action and working smoothly. If for some reason you ever do have trouble getting to the site, just know that you can always google “sweetapolita printables” + the recipe you’re looking for, and you should find the printable version (but fingers crossed that won’t be an issue ever again).

Now, onto cake! When I was pondering what type of creation would make the ultimate back-to-school cake for our cakelet Reese, I kept thinking about what ingredients make kids happiest–particularly my kids. My littlest cakelet, Neve, is turning three next week so she’s still home with me for another year, but Reese is starting Senior Kindergarten at a new school and she takes her most favourite snacks at home very seriously: peanut butter, mini pastel marshmallows, popcorn, chocolate and cake. I wanted to make her a back-to-school confection that was as comforting as it was playful, and then I remembered an incredibly inspirational book I received awhile back called Make, Bake & Celebrate! by Annie Rigg. This book boasts unique and delightful cakes, including Rose & Strawberry Cake with Crystallized Roses, Chocolate Dazzle Drop Cake, Chocolate Polka Dot Tower, and of course the cake I decided to make and that answers every child’s sweet dreams: Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Popcorn.

Peanut Butter Layer Cake via Sweetapolita

The cake was surprisingly quick to make, even with all of the different elements, and what I found hard to believe was that I had never thought to make a peanut butter layer cake before–with the simple addition of peanut butter to a fairly classic butter cake, it gives it a unique decadence and nutty twist. Paired with two types of rich frosting and the ultimate sweet & salty topper, it’s a wonder I didn’t give this one a make & bake the moment I received the book a few months ago.

I love this cake for many reasons, but most of all I love its irresistible call to childhood on all counts: peanut butter & chocolate chip layer cake, peanut butter & cream cheese frosting (with a hint of maple!), chocolate fudge frosting, and homemade caramel corn tossed with mini pastel marshmallows and peanuts (which, I might add, is an amazing little treat on its own).

My cakelets were able to help me with so many of the steps in making this cake: Reese made most of the chocolate fudge frosting herself, Neve helped me make the cake layers and peanut butter frosting, and they both helped me mix the popcorn. As Annie mentions in the book, this cake with all of its components tastes much like a Snickers chocolate bar and makes for the perfect celebration cake for kids. And what better reason to celebrate than the start of a new school year? Not only does the cake taste as decadent as it looks, but I find great joy in creating a dessert that has several elements all combined for one show-stopping finale–particularly when one of the components is as unexpected as it is tasty, as with this whimsical pile of caramel popcorn heaped atop the cake.

Peanut Butter Layer Cake via Sweetapolita

Imagine coming home from school to this? I made this prior to Reese’s first day, but I may have to make it again (or in cupcake form–wouldn’t that be fun?) next week while she’s at school for the first day. She’s been counting down the days until school starts, and not only starts school next week but ballet–she can barely stand the anticipation.

We went back to school shopping, and it was a Hello Kitty extravaganza (dresses, pants, ear muffs, lunch bag, school bag, hair clips, sweaters . . . ). Since Hello Kitty was one of my favourites as a child (incidentally, she made her first appearance in 1974, the year I was born), I can’t help but feel the same connection to it as Reese does–between little cakelet Neve, myself and Reese, we’re pretty much like kids in a candy shoppe when we walk into stores with Hello Kitty clothing and accessories. It’s really hard for me to believe that she’s 5 years old and already in her second year of school. At this point I find myself holding on a little tighter and little longer when I hug her, perhaps with hopes of making the time stand still. ♥

Here’s the recipe, shared with permission and as written in the book Make, Bake & Celebrate! by Annie Rigg (my notes below):

peanut butter & chocolate cake with salted caramel popcorn

350 g/2-2/3 cups plain/all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of/baking soda

150 g/10 tablespoons butter, soft

100 g/1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter

350 g/1-3/4 cups (caster) sugar

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

250 ml/1 cup buttermilk, room temperature

125 g/3/4 cup chocolate chips

1/2 quantity Chocolate Fudge Frosting

peanut butter frosting

200 g/6-1/2 oz. cream cheese

50 g/3-1/2 tablespoons butter, soft

75 g/1/3 cup peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 tablespoons maple syrup

salted caramel popcorn

50 g/1/4 cup (caster) sugar

25 g/2 tablespoons butter

50 g/2 cups plain popcorn (popped weight)

50 g/1/3 cup roasted peanuts

50 g/1/3 cup chocolate chips

50 g/2/3 cup mini marshmallows

three 20-cm/8-inch round cake pans, greased and baselined with greased baking parchment

serves 12

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate/baking soda.

Cream the butter, peanut butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until really pale and light–at least 3-4 minutes. Gradually add the beaten eggs to the creamed butter in 4 or 5 additions, mixing well between each addition and scraping down the bowl from time to time with a rubber spatula. Add the vanilla and mix to incorporate.

Gradually add the sifted dry ingredients to the cake mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Mix until smooth, then fold in the chocolate chips. Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared cake pans, scraping the mixture from the bowl using a rubber spatula. Spread level with a palette knife and bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the  middle comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 3-4 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the peanut butter frosting, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the butter, peanut butter, vanilla and maple syrup and beat again until creamy.

To make the salted caramel popcorn, put the sugar and 1 tablespoon water in a small, heavy-based saucepan over low heat and dissolve the sugar without stirring. Once dissolved, increase the heat and continue to cook until the syrup turns into an amber-coloured caramel. Take the pan off the heat and add the butter, swirling to make a smooth butterscotch. Quickly pour the butterscotch over the popcorn and stir well so that it starts to stick together in clumps. Add the peanuts (chopped, if you prefer), chocolate chips and marshmallows.

Place one of the cake layers on a serving dish and spread half the peanut butter frosting over it. Carefully spread one-third of the Chocolate Fudge Frosting over that. Cover with a second cake layer. Repeat this process, finishing with the last cake layer and the remaining chocolate fudge frosting on top of that. Pile the salted caramel popcorn on top just before serving.

chocolate fudge frosting

350 g/12 oz. dark/semisweet chocolate, chopped

225 g/15 tablespoons butter, diced

175 ml/2/3 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

350 g/3 cups icing/confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over pan of barely simmering water. Do not let the base of the bowl touch the water. Stir until smooth and thoroughly combined. Removed from the heat and cool slightly.

In another bowl whisk together the milk, vanilla and sugar until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and butter and stir until smooth. Let thicken to the desired consistency before using.

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • Annie’s recipe calls for chocolate chips in the Salted Caramel Popcorn mixture, but I opted to omit them, mostly because I was assembling the popcorn and ready to photograph the cake while the caramel was still a little warm–this would have melted the chocolate chips into kind of a yucky mess. Next time if I was adding the chocolate chips, I would simply wait until the caramel corn was completely cool.
  • I used vanilla sugar (as I did here) when making the caramel for the popcorn–yum!
  • You can make the caramel popcorn ahead of time, but be sure to add it only before you are serving the cake, otherwise it will become a bit soggy.
  • I made the cake layers day 1, wrapped them tightly in plastic wrap and left them at room temperature, made the frosting, made the popcorn and assembled the cake all on day 2.

Good luck & enjoy!



Related posts:

Art is Joy: Painted Chocolate Peanut Butter & Jelly Cakes

Painted Cakes via Sweetapolita

Every child is an artist. –Pablo Picasso

Happy Friday to you! This is a bit of a long (but colourful) post, guys, so you may want to grab a bucket of Skittles and a big glass of milk and get comfy. Heck, make it strawberry milk. Simply put, this post makes me happy. Art is joy and, well, cake isn’t half bad either. So, when I can marry most of my favourite things in life into one post, there’s no getting around it making me so happy. Let’s see, we’ve got colour + art + my cakelets + chocolate + cake + peanut butter buttercream . . . yep, that’s pretty much happiness in a nutshell.

Painted Cakes via Sweetapolita

Art is just a way of life at our house. Aside from my own colourful chaos that has seemingly taken over our home, I have been blessed with two small girls who both embrace art everyday. Sometimes all day. So, even though it adds to that colourful chaos I mentioned, I have started to encourage this love of theirs by leaving appropriate art supplies on every table in the house. And, well, the floor (see below). So as a matter of natural course, I often try to find a way to incorporate baking and caking into their love for arts and crafts. You may remember the Artist Palette & Paintbrush Cookies I created or the Rainbow Doodle Cake that Reese created for her 4th birthday using these pens: Americolor Food Marker Writers- 10 Color Pack. That was the very first time Reese had ever been such a big part of creating her own birthday cake, and she thought that was pretty awesome (as she should have–she’s quite the artist, if you ask me!). Well, I thought it would be super fun for her to do the same type of thing again, but by painting onto a white fondant cake. Since she spends almost all of her waking hours drawing & painting, I knew she’d be pretty enthusiastic about this one.

Painted Cakes via Sweetapolita

That cake would make even the Tin Man smile, don’t you think?

Painted Cakes via Sweetapolita

For those who may not be familiar with it, the “paint” is something that is often used in cake decorating for many effects, and is made by mixing non-toxic luster dust or petal dust with either clear lemon extract or vodka (which evaporates quickly). Luster & petal dusts are dry chalky-looking dusts that are sold in wee jars (about 2-4 grams) and come in dozens of colours. They can be used dry by brushing onto fondant and gumpaste (any frosting that is dry to the touch) for touches of colour or shimmer, or as we did here, used wet as “paint.” Although there are many types of dusts with varying shimmer-factor, luster dust is typically the shimmery dust (such as Super Gold 43-1233 Luster Dust 2g) and petal dusts are matte (such as Fuchsia Petal Dust, 4 grams). We used some of each with this painted cake.

Here’s what I was referring to above–even the floor has become a great spot for my little artists. If you happen to follow my Instagram photos, you might recognize this image of my cakelets colouring all over a huge piece of white photographer backdrop paper that had seen better days and I needed to replace. Sending a recycling message feels good too. I was going to save this once they were done, which I still will (I’m a bit nutty about keeping everything they do–I can’t seem to throw any of it away), but I decided to then use it as the surface top for this post’s photoshoot, complete with toddler scribbles and pre-schooler drawings. I love when things work out that way!

Painted Cakes via Sweetapolita

Because this project is really ideal for preschoolers up to adult, I was going to try to keep little toddler-Neve occupied by having her colour or paint at her own little “station” beside Reese, but there was no way she was letting that go. She wouldn’t leave her older sister’s side (literally) while Reese brainstormed her design. I’m estimating that this had 49% to do with sisterly affection and 51% to do with cake.

Painted Cakes via Sweetapolita

The longer you let your cake chill before painting, the more firm the buttercream and fondant will be, which is ideal for painting, because the little hands will be pressing into the cake a bit while they work. On a sidenote, contrary to what many will say, you can, and I always do, put your fondant-covered cakes in the refrigator while working on them to firm them up. Otherwise, you will end up with fingerprints and dents in your cake, especially when little ones may not realize.

Painted Cakes via Sweetapolita

Perhaps this was creative moral support. Or maybe Neve was plotting her cake-tasting plan.

Painted Cakes via Sweetapolita

An artist at work. I love photographing the kids in more candid situations, as it’s always evident in the photos when they are relaxed and in their element and, most of all, don’t realize they’re being photographed. I think what made this project even more special for her was that it wasn’t her birthday. It wasn’t her sister’s birthday. It wasn’t any holiday at all, but just a regular day.

Painted Cakes via Sweetapolita

 Painted Cakes via Sweetapolita

Because the alcohol in the vodka evaporates so quickly, it’s helpful to keep some nearby (and if you are hosting a birthday party and have a houseful of kids, you may or may not want to keep a martini glass nearby) to add a drop or so when needed. It’s best to keep the paint thin enough so that it glides on the cake but not too thin that the colours look diluted, because the best part about these dusts is that the colour is intense. The luster colours have such a lovely shimmer-quality to them, even once dry.

Painted PB&J Cakes via Sweetapolita

So what’s better than a hand-painted cake? A hand painted cake that is rich dark chocolate filled with the fluffiest and most satiny Peanut Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream. For the PB&J version, I spread a thin layer of Bonne Maman Wild Blueberry Jam onto the cake before the buttercream. The other cakes I left as simply chocolate & peanut butter.The reason I did Peanut Butter Swiss Buttercream, rather than the more common sugar peanut butter frosting is that I wanted to put a really thick layer of filling and because it’s not too sweet, it really brings out the peanut butter flavour. Peanut butter & meringue? That is so right. Even though it’s not cloying sweet, it’s still ideal for kids, especially with this cake because the fondant is very sweet. I heard Reese tell her dad that “Mommy made an excellent choice with the icing,” so it sounds like this one could be a winner. I think she was just relieved that it didn’t have key lime in it–long story.

Art = Joy!

For those of you who also love all-things-colour, I can’t get enough of Design Seeds. Endless colour inspiration!

I also found this kids’ painting party idea absolutely darling.

Here’s the recipe and info on making these painted cakes:

Paintable Chocolate PB&J Cakes         {click to print all instructions}

Use your favourite chocolate cake recipe baked in 3 separate cake pans. I used this recipe and baked using 3 Fat Daddio’s Anodized Aluminum Oval Cake Pan, 9 Inch x 2 Inch. I put 500 grams/~17 ounces of batter in each, and made some cupcakes with the extra batter. I then sliced each cake in two when frosting. So in this case, I use 3 pans to yield 3 finished cakes ready to paint.

Peanut Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Yield: ~10 cups of buttercream (enough to fill & frost 3 oval 9″ x 6″ cakes)

Ingredients

10 large egg whites (~300 grams/10 ounces)

2.5 cups (500 grams/17 ounces) light brown sugar

3 cups (1.5 lbs/680 grams) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes

2 teaspoons (10 mL) pure vanilla extract (I use Nielsen-Massey Vanillas 8-oz. Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract)

3/4 cup (190 mL) Kraft (or other quality brand) smooth peanut butter, or to taste

Method

1. Wipe the bowl and whisk attachment of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice, to remove any trace of grease. Add egg whites and brown sugar and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 140°F, or if you don’t have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot, about 8 minutes if you used room temperature egg whites. About 12 if they were cold. Just be sure you can’t feel any sugar crystals when you rub a small bit between your fingers.

2. Place the bowl back into the mixer, and with whisk attachment attached, begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch (this can take up to 10+ minutes or so). *Make sure your meringue is completely cool before adding butter–this may take much longer than you expect, but if the meringue is very stiff and still warm, just turn off mixer and wait until it has cooled. 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 on medium-low and it will come back to smooth).

3. Add vanilla and peanut butter, and continue to beat on low speed until well combined. *It’s also pretty delightful to leave unblended swirls of peanut butter.

Notes:

1. You can easily cut this recipe in half, and essentially it is Brown Sugar Swiss Buttercream with peanut butter whipped in at the end, so you also make it minus the peanut butter, freeze it, and then whip in peanut butter when you’re ready to use. That way you have the option of 2 flavours in your freezer. It keeps frozen for ~2 months.

2. You can make buttercream ahead and keep in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week, leaving out at room temperature when needed, re-whipping in mixer for 5 minutes.

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

4. If not satiny enough upon rewhip, take 1/3 of buttercream and microwave in a microwave-safe container for ~8 seconds, then add back to mixing bowl and remix with remaining buttercream.

5. For more detail about making Swiss Meringue Buttercream, you can find FAQ here and photo tutorial here.

Assembly of the Paintable Chocolate PB&J Cakes (or Chocolate PB Cakes)

1. Wrap & chill cake layers in refrigerator for ~30 minutes.

2. Carefully slice each of the 3 cakes into 2, horizontally, using a very sharp, serrated knife. If your cake has domed, don’t worry about trimming it, as you can put the dome side face-down. Since it’s a 2 layer cake, you don’t want to waste any cake by trimming it away.

3. Place first cake layer on a plate or cake board face up, and spread a thin layer of blueberry (or other desired flavour) jam onto the cake. Then spread a 1″ thick layer of Peanut Butter Swiss Buttercream on top, smoothing with an offset spatula. You can omit the jam, if desired, or do some with and some without.

4. Place top layer cut side down (or up if your cake is domed). Cover with a thin layer of the buttercream using an offset spatula and chill until set, about 30 minutes. You can also place in freezer for about 15 minutes. This seals in all of the crumbs. *You must chill the cake at this point to allow for a smooth, crumb-free top layer of frosting.

5. Once chilled and set, add a thick layer of buttercream, trying to get it as smooth as possible using your offset palette knife.

6. Roll out 1 lb 2oz (~525 grams) of white fondant (I love Satin Ice Rolled Fondant – White – Vanilla – 2.5 kg) on a smooth surface dusted with icing sugar or cornstarch, or you can use a fondant mat (I always use Ateco 24 x 36 Inch Fondant Work Mat) until it’s about 1/8″ thick or a little thicker. If your buttercream isn’t completely smooth, you will want to make the fondant on the slighlty thicker side to mask those imperfections (definitely no thicker than 1/4″). Transfer the rolled fondant onto the cake using a rolling pin and gently lay over the cake. Working quickly, smooth the fondant all over the cake using your hands and/or fondant smoothers (I use Wilton Easy Glide Fondant Smoother), working from the top down. Trim the excess fondant from the bottom of the cake using a small sharp knife. Smooth rough edges with a small palette knife. Chill for at least 1 hour.

7. Take selected lustre dust powders and tap small amount into a paint palette or small ramekins. Add a few drops of clear lemon or vanilla extract and blend with small paintbrush. *You can not use water. You can use clear alcohol, such as vodka, as it evaporates when dry. Once your liquid is added, you now have…edible paint! You will need a paintbrush designated for each colour.

8. Remove cake from refrigerator. The fondant may “sweat” a little, which causes it to be a bit tacky at first, but as long as your home isn’t extremely humid, this will evaporate fairly quickly and be ready for painting.

9. Let the child (0r, ahem, yourself) paint until their heart’s content.

10. Wash brushes, blot with paper towel, and let air dry. Wash paint bowls or palette.

Other colourful ideas:

1. Make mini cakes, say 4″ rounds, and let each child at a birthday party paint their own, then pack it up for them to take home as their “loot bag,” to show their parents.

2. Create an entire party around the painting theme. Art parties are so popular right now, and for good reason. They are awesome!

3. You could make these cookies as party favours.

4. You could create this rainbow cake for the inside of the painted cakes, for a real hit of colour.

5. You could create a mix of colouring and painting sweets for a party using the Americolor Food Marker Writers- 10 Color Pack + edible paints.

Whoa…that was a lot of info in one hit. Feel free to leave any questions below, and, as always, I’d love to hear your comments and/or experiences with this cake.

What would you paint on a pure white porcelain-finish cake?

Good luck & enjoy!



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How to Make a Rainbow & Peanut Butter Pie for Mikey

Peanut Butter Pie via Sweetapolita

umbrella + rain + love + sunshine = how to make a Rainbow

It’s almost midnight here. I sit in my cozy bed with a warm laptop on my legs, a loyal cat on my feet, and a strong, loving man asleep beside me. And, oh . . . wait a minute — make that a strong, loving man and a beautiful but displaced four-year-old who should likely be in her own bed, asleep beside  me. I won’t lie, though — I don’t really want her to go back to her bed, even though between the two of them, I’m left with little room to type. Our little almost-two-year-old sleeps peacefully in her crib just across the hall, and it’s a typical night here. Sometimes I forget how much I love typical. I forget how lucky I am to have another typical day with family. See, sometimes, or well, often, when life gets too busy, or too stressful, or even too typical, I take this all for granted–my family, my health, and life in general.

Today, though, was different. Well, I should say this entire week was different, because I have reached a place that immerses me in feelings of gratitude, love, and appreciation for those close to me . . . and what an amazing place that is. Did I mention this wonderful place of love and gratitude has pie?

This past Sunday, fellow food-blogger, Jennie Perillo’s typical came to a heartbreaking halt when, in a sudden and unexpected moment, her husband and father of their two little girls, Mikey, died of a heart attack, leaving no time for goodbyes. When I saw Jennie’s tweet on Sunday evening that said “He’s gone. And my heart is shattered in a million pieces”, I instantly felt numb, but I hoped maybe I misunderstood. I knew she was happily married, but I thought that it couldn’t possibly be her husband she was referring to, or maybe he left her, which seemed so hard to believe. I wasn’t sure, and, to be honest, the gripping worry and concern surprised even me, because I really don’t know Jennie that well. But I was concerned; I couldn’t stop thinking about her, up until the very moment I fell asleep that night, and then some. When I woke up Monday morning and checked into twitter looking for any bit of reassurance that everything was okay with her, I went straight to her profile to see if she’d written. I then saw a tweet she posted linking to a video clip she calls one last dance. When I watched the video of Mikey and their young daughter dancing, I still didn’t know anything for sure, but I cried. Maybe it was because it reminded me so much of Grant dancing with our little girls, but I cried instantly with grief. Once I read the flurry of tweets that followed from her many devastated friends, stating that Mikey had indeed passed away, I cried even more and every time I think about it, I cry again. You truly just never know.

Because the food community is a remarkably tight-knit one, and through the wonders of twitter are able to connect on a pretty intimate level every single day, there is a camaraderie and connection that I simply wouldn’t believe possible if I wasn’t part of it all. Perhaps this is why the entire community is so affected by Jennie’s loss and her recent request in a blog post she calls For Mikey:

As I spend Friday reflecting on the love and life that was gone in an instant, I’d like to invite all of you to celebrate his life too. Mikey loved peanut butter cream pie.  I haven’t made it in a while, and I’ve had it on my to-do list for a while now.
I kept telling myself I would make it for him tomorrow. Time has suddenly stood still, though, and I’m waiting to wake up and learn to live a new kind of normal. For those asking what they can do to help my healing process, make a peanut butter pie this Friday and share it with someone you love. Then hug them like there’s no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on.

So, I did exactly what she asked, and I made her incredible pie and shared it with the loves of my life, in honour of Mikey, and to celebrate that we have each other…today.

Sweetapolita

I gave the girls the decadent and delicious Peanut Butter Pie in bed, in their pjs. They both loved it, and watching Neve savour each and every bite with so much focus and appreciation made me realize, I could stand to learn a thing or two about that. Their matching pajamas say umbrella + rain + love + sunshine = how to make a rainbow, and I couldn’t agree more. For some, it’s as rainy as it can be right now.

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But, thank goodness for umbrellas . . .

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 And love . . .

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 And a bit more love . . .

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And, of course, sunshine . . .

We wish Jennie & her girls, along with anyone else who may have rainy days right now, the brightest of rainbows as they heal.

umbrella + rain + love + sunshine = how to make a Rainbow

We all loved this pie for both what it meant and how simply delicious it is. Thank you, Jennie.

Making and sharing this pie is truly just an amazing reminder of what’s important in life: taking the time to show your loved ones how much you care for them, and in this case, through the nurturing and nourishment of food made with love.

If you’d like to see more Peanut Butter Pie posts from other bloggers, in honour of Mikey Perillo, here is an extensive and constantly updated list of links from Food Network.

Here is Jennie’s recipe for Mikey’s favourite Creamy Peanut Butter Pie:

Creamy Peanut Butter Pie

*courtesy of In Jennie’s Kitchen

Serves 10 to 12

8 ounces chocolate cookies

4 tablespoons butter, melted

4 ounces finely chopped chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup chopped peanuts

1 cup heavy cream

8 ounces cream cheese

1 cup creamy-style peanut butter

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 – 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Add the cookies to the bowl of a food processor and pulse into fine crumbs. Combine melted butter and cookie crumbs in a small bowl, and stir with a fork to mix well. Press mixture into the bottom and 1-inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave. Pour over bottom of cookie crust and spread to the edges using an off-set spatula. Sprinkle chopped peanuts over the melted chocolate. Place pan in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and beat using a stand mixer or hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a small bowl and store in refrigerator until ready to use. Place the cream cheese and peanut butter in a deep bowl. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioner’s sugar. Add the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Increase speed to medium and beat until all the ingredients are combined and filling is smooth.

Stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the filling mixture (helps lighten the batter, making it easier to fold in the remaining whipped cream). Fold in the remaining whipped cream. Pour the filling into the prepared springform pan. Drizzle the melted chocolate on top, if using, and refrigerate for three hours or overnight before serving.

Enjoy & serve with love.

Love, Rosie xo

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Butterscotch Peanut Butter Marshmallow Hearts

Peanut Butter Marshmallow Hearts

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I hope you’re all having a great week. Has Valentine’s Day enamored you the way it has me this year? I just can’t get enough of it. I thought it would be fun to chat about a ridiculously yummy-yet-simple recipe. These Butterscotch Peanut Butter Marshmallow Hearts (usually “bars”) are as easy as it gets to make: 4 ingredients and 4 steps. No mixer, no bake, no candy thermometers. Does it get any better than this?

You know I’m the first girl to promote breaking out the confection-tool arsenal for highly decorated sweets, but sometimes, or possibly most times, we don’t have that much time on our hands. These highly-addictive treats (that you likely ate as a kid!) are so yummy and I love making them. The process is also super kid-friendly, which is always great around our house.

Peanut Butter Marshmallow Hearts via Sweetapolita

Although I have fond memories of this type of a treat at my school bake-sales in the 80′s, I had completely forgotten about them until Grant’s cousin, Leah, started bringing them to the family cottage. I couldn’t believe how addictive they were, truly. I know everyone says that about their favourite desserts, but I promise (and possibly warn) you that these are so much so, that I informed Leah that I would include them in my “what I would eat if I could only have one last meal” menu, and I meant it. I’m pretty certain that there is a highly scientific reaction that occurs between the peanut butter and butterscotch chips, that results in a flavour that humans are not meant to resist. Now, you do have to be ready for s-w-e-e-t; they are super-duper sweet, for certain. 

So here are the 4 ingredients responsible for this delicious treat: peanut butter, butterscotch chips (I use high quality, such as Guittard, because they are just a bit less sweet, use real vanilla, and make them just that much better!), butter, and mini flavoured multi-coloured marshmallows. That’s it! I’m so drawn to how reminscent they are of church socials and retro potlucks & bake sales.

Peanut Butter Marshmallow Hearts via Sweetapolita

Like I mentioned, I usually make them in bar form, but I thought it would be fun to use a heart cookie cutter and create a Valentine’s version, especially for the kids. Basically, you melt the buttery trio (peanut butter, butterscotch chips, and butter) over a double boiler until smooth, then toss in the marshmallows, stir, and spread across a baking sheet lined with parchment, using an offset palette knife (or anything that works for you). After they have set in refrigerator, you can use a heart cutter to cut the shapes out . . . voila!  Now, I know I mentioned that these are super easy and fun for kids to make, and that they are, but truth is, my little cakelets were preoccupied this weekend while I was making this batch.

You see, our littlest girl, Neve, is just learning to walk, and so there was a lot of excitement going on while I whipped these up. I puttered in the kitchen while Reese and Grant (daddy) helped Neve learn to practice her walk. She got so good at walking while holding her push toy, that I knew it would be just a few days until she took her first steps, and just a few hours ago she did! Three big steps into mommy’s arms! Here are some photos from the weekend:

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Here’s Neve getting a feel for pushing the toy on her own. She looks pretty relaxed.

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Big sister Reese, ready to help her baby sister walk. This is huge deal for Reese: she’ll finally have someone to run around with. Up until now, she would run up to an ever-sitting Neve, tap her on the shoulder, and yell “TAG–you’re it!” and run away.

Sweetapolita

Here’s Daddy giving Neve a little pep-talk & cuddle before she gives it a try.

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A little warm-up with Daddy, and now she’s ready for walking with her toy on her own . . .

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Oh yes, proud as punch, with a full cheering section (that’d be us . . . including Pasha, the cat, who didn’t want to miss any excitement). Neve (aka Lovie) was so proud of herself, as were we. How amazing tonight to have her walk to me — I forgot how utterly wonderful that feels! Now that you’ve let me gush about my sweethearts, let’s make some sweet-hearts. 

Butterscotch Peanut Butter Marshmallow Hearts

Yield: Approximately 2 dozen 3-inch hearts

Ingredients

  • 4 cups (680 g) premium butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup (227 g)(2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (175 g) smooth peanut butter (I use Skippy or Kraft)
  • 6 cups mini flavoured multi-coloured marshmallows (you can use all white if you need to)

Instructions

  1. Line a baking sheet with enough parchment paper to have overhang on the sides.
  2. Melt everything, except the marshmallows, in a stainless steel bowl on top of simmering water, until smooth. Take off heat and stir in marshmallows.
  3. Pour and spread mixture onto prepared baking sheet with an offset spatula. You can sprinkle and press some loose marshmallows over top, if desired. Chill until firm.
  4. For hearts you out heart shapes by using a sturdy heart cookie cutter. For best results, push heart treat through cutter from bottom upwards. You may need to clean the cutter after every few cuts. If you rotate heart cut-outs side by side (one up, one down), you will end up with minimal bits leftover.
  5. You can also take the scraps and throw them into a icing-sugar based frosting, mix with electric mixer until incorporated and fluffy. I have a feeling, though, that you may see those leftover bits disappear before you get that far!

Notes

*This recipe can be divided in half if you are making squares. Use an 8" square pan and cut into bars.

**Best kept refrigerated. Freeze well in a freezer bag or plastic storage container.

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Good luck & enjoy!



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