Triple-Chocolate Sprinkle Birthday Cookies

Triple Chocolate Sprinkle Cookies via Sweetapolita

Happy Friday!

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

Sweetapolita

Sweetapolita

Ruffles & Roses Tea Party via Sweetapolita

Sweetapolita

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

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

Triple Chocolate Sprinkle Cookies via Sweetapolita

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

Done, and done.

Triple Chocolate Sprinkle Cookies via Sweetapolita

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

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

Birthday morning fairy bread  . . .

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

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

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

Here’s the recipe:

Triple-Chocolate Sprinkle Birthday Cookies

Yield: 12 medium cookies

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Notes

[cookie dough adapted from Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook]

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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

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

Good luck & enjoy!



Related posts:

Whipped Vanilla Dream Cupcakes

Whipped Vanilla Dream Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

Well, that was crazy. Were you starting to wonder if I’d thrown in the pink polka-dotted towel? If I’d escaped to Emerald City in search of the Wizard? For those who tag along for my Instagram snippets, you probably figured out that it’s been a busy few weeks for us, as we moved last weekend. Not far, just the neighbouring town, but I spent countless days organizing, purging and packing our stuff for the move. I got really nest-y and couldn’t stop organizing. I think with any big change comes the incentive to make other small changes, and it was so rejuvenating once it was all done. I did shed a few tears as I looked back at my cakelets’ keepsakes, baby clothing, etc. Moving was a much more emotionally draining time for me than I expected, but with so much productivity and order, it was all worth it.

In a flurry of ridding old treasures, I actually welcomed one new one a few weeks ago–the most exciting birthday gift of all time from Mr. Sweetapolita: a pink KitchenAid mixer! The truth is, I have several mixers, mostly because I usually have 2 going at all times, but I’ve always wanted a Pink Mixer. As I said on facebook, if I was a mixer, I would definitely be pink (and I loved reading all of your answers too!). The loveliest part about this mixer is that it is one of the products included in the KitchenAid Cook for the Cure program, so it was a win-win. Because mixers are typically a long-term purchase, though, I had sort of given up on having a pink one, at least for a few eons or so. That’s what made this feel-good gift a true surprise! I actually have even more fun baking now . . . if you can imagine.

Whipped Vanilla Dream Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

When I set up my mixer in the new kitchen, and made enough space through the towering boxes I still need to unpack, I decided that my first baked good would be a batch of luscious light double-vanilla cupcakes. Perhaps you’re wondering how I can possibly blog about another vanilla cake/cupcake recipe, but I made a few changes this time that I felt made this batch my idea of a vanilla dream. After using Dorie’s party cake recipe as a base for my Cherry-Vanilla Delight Cake, and loving the texture so much, I decided to turn them into cupcakes, with some changes.

One of the things I added was 1/2 cup of soft-peak whipped cream, a trick I read about on The Kitchn a few weeks ago. You simply whip it and fold it into your cake batter, any cake batter, before dividing into cake pans or cupcake tins–needless to say I was intrigued! It had been on my mind since then, and I was dying to try this, so I thought classic vanilla cupcakes can never be too velvety, or too moist, so why not? I did notice a difference and these cupcakes were of the best I’ve ever made (toot, toot!).

Whipped Vanilla Dream Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

Since I was feeling all whipped-creamy and such, it dawned on my that clouds of vanilla whipped cream would be a welcomed change from buttercream. The second-best part about Whipped Cream Frosting? It takes only minutes to make and has no butter or icing sugar. I tinted it a very pale turquoise and sprinkled the cupcakes with pink sanding sugar for sweet crunch, you know, since pink was in the air . . .

Whipped Vanilla Dream Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

And by air, I think I mean the gale-force wind that busted through my wide-open front door while I was photographing the cupcakes. It came out of nowhere, knocked over my white board (it might be time to stop MacGyver’ing my photo shoots), which consequently knocked over my trio of small plastic bottles and turquoise paper stripey straws that I was so excited to use. As disappointed as I was that my shoot was ruined, how could I possibly cry over pink spilled milk? So forgive the fact that I don’t really have any close-ups on the poufs of vanilla clouds and the inside of the luscious cupcakes–maybe I’ll make these again . . . you know, for you. I’m good like that. ♥

Whipped Vanilla Dream Cupcakes

Yield: 24-28 standard cupcakes, or two 9-inch round cakes

Moist, fluffy white whipping-cream-infused vanilla cupcakes topped with airy whipped cream frosting and sprinkled with sanding sugar.

Ingredients

    For the Cupcakes:
  • 2-1/2 cups (275 g) sifted cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (5 g) salt
  • 1 cup (237 ml) whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2 large egg whites (60 g), at room temperature
  • 1 whole egg, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.75 ml) Pure Vanilla Extract (or 1 teaspoon –5 ml–, if you aren’t using vanilla sugar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.75 ml) Pure Almond Extract
  • 1-1/2 cups (300 g) vanilla sugar (or regular sugar)
  • 1 stick (115 g)(8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (119 ml) whipping cream or heavy cream, cold
  • For the Frosting:
  • 3 cups (711 ml) whipping cream or heavy cream, cold
  • 6 tablespoons (95 g) vanilla sugar (or regular sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) Pure Vanilla Extract; use 1-1/2 teaspoons (7.5 ml) if you're not using vanilla sugar
  • pink sanding sugar for sprinkling, optional

Instructions

    For the Cupcakes:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and center the oven rack. Line 2 muffin/cupcake pans with your favourite standard-size cupcake liner, and put the first cupcake pan on a baking sheet. (You will place the second cupcake pan on the same sheet in the oven once the first tray is baked.)
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium-sized bowl. Whisk together the milk, eggs, vanilla extract and almond extract in a medium bowl or large glass measuring cup.
  3. In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk or paddle attachment (I used the whisk), cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until very pale and creamy, about 5 minutes.
  4. With the mixer still on medium speed, alternate additions of the flour mixture and milk-egg mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture (3 dry additions, 2 wet), beating after each addition until incorporated. Continue mixing on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  5. Chill a clean stainless mixer bowl in the freezer for 5 minutes, and then beat whipping cream until soft peaks form (don't beat until stiff). This is where a second mixer bowl comes in handy, as you can simply wash the whisk and use the stand mixer to whip the cream. If you don't have a second mixer bowl, you can use a hand mixer or even transfer the batter to another bowl, wash the bowl and whisk then whip the cream with your stand mixer. Fold whipped cream into cake batter.
  6. Divide batter evenly among your cupcake liners--about 2/3 full--and bake until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs only, about 16 minutes.
  7. Carefully remove the cupcakes from the pan and let cool on wire racks. Repeat with second tray.
  8. For the Frosting:
  9. Chill a stainless mixer bowl and whisk in the freezer for at least 5 minutes (or refrigerator for 20 minutes).
  10. Pour the cream into the bowl and whisk on medium-high (I used #8 on my KitchenAid mixer) until the cream begins to thicken. Gradually add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, and continue whisking until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla extract and whisk until the frosting becomes stiff, but be careful to not over-beat, or the frosting will become grainy.
  11. Add a drop of turquoise gel colour, if desired and gently mix in with a spatula.
  12. Best used right away.
  13. Assembly of the Whipped Vanilla Dream Cupcakes:
  14. Fill a medium Piping Bag fitted with pastry tip of your choice (I used a plain Large Round Tip) about 1/2 full with Vanilla Whipped Cream Frosting and pipe a generous swirl on top of the cooled cupcake. Holding the piping bag directly above the cupcakes, put pressure on the bag while guiding the frosting in a circular swirl pattern beginning on the outside and working your way up and in, about 3 times, then releasing pressure.
  15. Top with pink sanding sugar for a lovely, sparkly crunch!
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[cupcake portion loosely adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours]

 Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • Lately I use vanilla sugar for almost all of my baked goods, whipped cream and cooked frostings–I keep a scraped vanilla bean with pod buried in my sugar canister at all times. Once your vanilla bean is scraped and seeds and pod are buried in your airtight sugar container, you will have vanilla sugar in about 1-2 weeks. The longer it sits, the more vanilla you will taste. I typically add pure vanilla extract to recipes as well, but usually a little less than I normally would. Vanilla Beans are a bit pricey, but I sincerely feel it makes a difference–nothing beats the authentic flavour of vanilla bean.
  • For filling cupcake liners, I always use this Stainless Steel Scoop–perfectly consistent cupcakes every time.
  • I always use Pure Vanilla Extract and Pure Almond Extract.
  • As with any vanilla cake or cupcake recipe, feel free to get kooky and toss a handful of sprinkles into the batter for a funfetti version!
  • As with Dorie’s cake recipes, I went ahead and placed a baking pan under the cupcake pan while baking–I like this because the bottoms of the cupcakes don’t get brown.
  • Whipped Cream Frosting is best used within a few hours of whipping, and best made and enjoyed on the same day. Once on cupcakes it keeps in refrigerator overnight, if necessary.
  • For sprinkling, I used Pink Sanding Sugar.
  • Avoid keeping undecorated cupcakes in airtight containers, particularly vanilla, as the cupcake liners tend to pull away from the cupcake (this is so disheartening!). I usually place a piece of wax paper or parchment paper on top of them if I have to leave them out overnight.
Good luck & enjoy!



Related posts:

Chocolate Birthday Cake {Video Tutorials}

Chocolate Birthday Cake via Sweetapolita

Well hi! It’s been a bit since my last post, maybe the longest ever, but you know I’m always nearby and knee-deep in frosting and cake. I had so much fun making my the Pastel Swirl Cake video tutorial that I wanted to make yet another this week. So it turns out that I’m in a crazy-for-chocolate mood lately, and I made this 3-layer chocolate birthday cake to celebrate (party for 1?).

Chocolate Birthday Cake via Sweetapolita

Since the most requested tutorial has been “how to frost a cake,” that’s the theme of the first video in this post. The second video, a part deux of sorts,  is where I share how I pipe birthday cake borders and, of course, finish with some sprinkles. You might remember this style of cake decoration from the recent How to Make a (Perfectly Delightful) Vanilla Birthday Cake post, as I used the identical technique and pastry tips for that one (you’ll also notice that it looks a smidge better when the frosting isn’t so light–oops!).

Chocolate Birthday Cake via Sweetapolita

The cake itself is a 3-layer chocolate cake brushed with a dark rum syrup and filled and frosted with a simple chocolate buttercream that is super light and fluffy–my favourite for indulging. I actually made it a tad too fluffy for piping perfect borders, but hopefully you will still get the idea!

Remember these? This birthday cake is the cake version of these Chocolate Birthday Cupcakes with Nutella Cloud Frosting, minus the Nutella (gasp!) and plus the rum syrup. Oh yes, I’d say that’s a reasonable trade, no? Oh, and I promise you won’t taste rum, but rather heightened chocolate glory.

Like I said, party for 1 . . .

Hey, do you want to hear something kind of strange and magical? While I was watching the videos, listening to myself explain the life-altering topic of frosting and piping borders onto a cake, and watching the turntable spin all the while, something occurred to me. Something that gave me butterflies and actually startled me, in a mystical way that is. In 2004, and several years before I immersed myself into the world of cake, I went to a psychic (I’ve always loved that kind of thing). I can recall, clear as can be, her asking me if I make pottery. Pottery? Hmm, no, I’ve never . . . potted? She continued, revealing with conviction that she sees me in years to come frequently working with a turntable, creating art with great passion and eventually teaching and sharing with others. She was so sure of it. I was perplexed, and a little dismayed, since I knew that I had no connection with pottery . . .

Turntable? Creating with passion? Teaching and sharing with others? Could it be?

Chills.

So here are the two videos–again, I’m not a cinematographer, but I sincerely hope they help in some way!

First, How to Frost a Cake: 

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And How to Pipe Frosting Borders:

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • To make the chocolate cake layers I made 3-times the batch of this cupcake batter (1 batch makes one 8-inch round layer) and 1.5 times the batch of the frosting, minus the Nutella (that recipe will yield a good consistency for piping–I added extra milk and whipped it into a frenzy, which is why it tasted incredible but was a bit too soft for piping).
  • Every oven varies, but I baked the cake layers at 350°F until a toothpick comes barely clean, about 22 minutes.
  • With any confectioners’ sugar frosting, you can always thicken it up by adding extra confectioners’ sugar (sifted is best) afterwards, until you achieve the desired consistency. Alternatively, you can always soften it up by adding small increments of milk or even a bit of water.
  • I made a dark rum syrup to brush over cake layers with a pastry brush before filling. To make: Bring 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in 2 tablespoons of dark rum and voila!
  • As I mention in the videos, I used Pastry Tip -#1M for the bottom border, and Pastry Tip #1E  for the over-sized top border. I used the Small Offset Spatula for the top of the cake, a Medium Straight Blade Spatula and a Bench Scraper while frosting and decorating the cake. I topped the cake with Pastel Confetti Sprinkles/Quins.
Good luck & enjoy!



Related posts:

How to Make a (Perfectly Delightful) Vanilla Birthday Cake

Perfectly Delightful Vanilla Cake via Sweetapolita

As you may have guessed, I love birthdays. Not just mine, but pretty much any birthday I can be part of. I especially love those celebrated by my family and friends, and now that we’re into spring nearing summer, it’s a birthday extravaganza. Between my husband, myself, my kids, my dad, and more, it seems there’s a birthday every week (and one wedding anniversary in 3 days!), and that’s one way to guarantee there will be no shortage of birthday cake (in case you’re concerned about my lack of cake). The kick off was on April 25th, when our little (but not so little) Reese turned 5. You might remember this colourful post from last year, when she turned 4–I feel as though I just made that cake, and yet it was a year ago. As a mom, that both amazes and saddens me, but of course it’s always a super happy occasion, and making cake for my girls is one most fulfilling things possible.

Perfectly Delightful Vanilla Cake via Sweetapolita

This year we threw her a Baking Party, which was something I’ve been wanting to do ever since I saw this party. I made her a cake just like this pink party cake–it was the perfect balance of girly, fancy, and delicious (and shh, don’t tell the girls, but this is one of the easiest and quickest cakes to make). The party itself was, as you can imagine, so much fun and complete chaos! The girls wore handmade chef’s hats (complete with pink satin lining–thank you Auntie Mary!), adorned with cupcake liner flowers (which the girls made when they arrived) and their names added by them in colourful letter stickers.

Wearing their favourite aprons, we whipped up chocolate sprinkled party spoons, decorated cupcakes, made strawberry jam and more. They each took home a pink-twine wrapped bakery box filled with their own creations as well as a “slice” of this goodie box cake filled with loot bag treats, designed by the talented Linnette of PaperGlitter, and printed and assembled by our friend, Danielle. Planning, preparing for and playing at this party made my inner 5-year old super-duper happy.

I was determined to engage, partake and enjoy every minute first hand this year, which I was able to do, but I wasn’t able to take photos as well, which does break my heart a bit. Looking back I would have designated someone to take photos or even hire a photographer, because there were just too many adorable, hilarious, messy, crazy moments. Most importantly, though, is that the we made the memories and nothing can take that away.

Perfectly Delightful Cake via Sweetapolita

The recipe itself for this cake is really just a very slightly adapted version of some of the other vanilla cakes I’ve posted (like this and this) but enough for 4 layers, paired with one of my best-loved sweeter frosting: a quick and easy (but super creamy and delightful) Whipped Vanilla Frosting that, as a result of whipping the butter and the blended frosting, tastes like creamy ice cream, and there is no sugary residue or chalky texture as with some sweet frosting. With an all-butter base and the addition of pure vanilla (and often vanilla bean), there’s an authenticity to it, even with all of that icing sugar. It also has a glide factor that makes it wonderful when applying it to the cake. I use this recipe anytime I need a fast fix or when baking for those attached to bakery frosting memories from childhood (although, isn’t that all of us?).

The reason I’ve put it together again for this post (aside from the slight adaptations of the cake), is because I’ve never posted it for a full 4-layer version of the cake, which is a simple way to make the cake party-worthy, along with some , again, quick and easy decorating I do when I can’t spend oodles of time on a cake. Truth is, sometimes even if I have the time, I still prefer cakes like these, and cakes that trigger all of my childhood memories.

Perfectly Delightful Vanilla Cake via Sweetapolita

If you knew Reese, you’d know that, like most 5-year-old little girls, she’s devoted to pink. And cake. And anything involving tutus and twirls, so the simple addition of a few retro ballerinas and sprinkles really fancies it up. In the past, I’ve done cakes for the girls that have taken me a week to do, but honestly, not only could I simply not make that happen this time with all of the party prep, but it wasn’t necessary. You know I love that kind of thing, so it’s not to say I won’t make more of those for her down the road, but this cake was enough to make all the girls giddy (even the moms!).

Perfectly Delightful Vanilla Cake via Sweetapolita

The best part about this kind of moist, buttery white cake is that it pairs nicely with this type of sweeter party frosting, as I like to call it, as well my all-time favourite, Swiss Meringue Buttercream. I took the super-simple approach of filling and frosting the cake with the same thing, but I’ve also filled this cake with strawberries and whipped cream, lemon curd, homemade jam, and more.  Just remember that for best results with these cake layers, you really need to weigh your ingredients. It really is the only way to guarantee cake success with this recipe–I promise!

And before I go, I thought it would be fun to share a short home video of Reese when she was 2 years old (I don’t normally share home videos, but just for fun!) This was at a little family dinner at my dad’s for her 2nd birthday (notice one of the early fondant cakes I made–apparently I thought we were serving a few million), and although it’s just your standard Happy Birthday song video, I love the look of wonder in her eyes and the fact that she was almost going to bust of excitement–it’s kind of what this whole baking thing is all about.

:

And, if you have 3 minutes and 24 seconds to fill, you can watch my all-time favourite video of Reese here. It has nothing to do with cake or birthdays, but funny as can be.

These videos may make me cry, but I hope they make you smile. ♥

Sweetapolita

Beautiful baker birthday girl, Reese.

Perfectly Delightful Vanilla Birthday Cake

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

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cup (360 ml) whole milk, at room temperature
  • 7 large egg whites (210 g), at room temperature
  • 1 whole egg, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) almond extract
  • 3-3/4 cups (430 g) cake flour, sifted
  • 2-1/4 cups (450 g) sugar
  • 1-3/4 tablespoons (25 g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt (8 g)
  • 1-1/2 sticks (170 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes
  • 6 tablespoons (85 g) vegetable shortening
  • For the Whipped Vanilla Frosting:
  • 2-1/2 cups (5 sticks)(575 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 5-1/4 cups (600 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 4-1/2 tablespoons (70 ml) milk
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons (23 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • pinch or two of salt
  • few drops pink gel colour
  • pastel sugar pearls (I used 4mm), or any other sprinkles for decorating

Instructions

    For the Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease, line with parchment and flour two round 8-inch pans (you will be using each one twice), or four 8-inch pans (if you're lucky enough to have four on hand). I use Parchment Paper Circles for ease.
  2. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir 1/2 cup of the milk, stir the egg whites, whole egg, vanilla and the almond extract. Set aside.
  3. 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.
  4. Add the butter and shortening, blending on low-speed for about 30 seconds, then add remaining 1 cup of 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Pour 1/4 of your batter (~2 cups)(445 grams) into each prepared pan (if you have 2 pans, you will bake 2 layers first followed by the remaining 2), spreading it evenly with a small offset palette knife. If possible, weigh the batter in the pans to ensure 2 even layers.
  7. 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.
  8. Wash the 2 cake pans and line, grease and flour again and repeat.
  9. 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.
  10. For the Whipped Vanilla Frosting:
  11. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed (I use “4″ on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale & creamy.
  12. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low-speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy, and fluffy. If you want all of your frosting (for filling and frosting cake) pink, then add a drop of pink gel colour and mix again, adding one drop at a time until desired pink shade is achieved (see notes). If you want just the outside of the cake pink, you will fill the cake layers first, and then colour the remaining frosting pink.
  13. Best used right away (for ideal spreading consistency), but keeps well once frosted.
  14. Assembly of the Perfectly Delightful Vanilla Birthday Cake
  15. Trim any doming or top crust from cake layers using a very sharp serrated knife.
  16. Use a cake turntable for filling, frosting and decorating, if a possible. Place a small dollop of frosting in the center of a cake plate or 8″ round thin foil-covered cake board, and place the bottom cake layer on top, face-up.
  17. Place ~1 cup of frosting on top of the cake layer, and spread evenly with a small offset palette knife. Gently place 2nd cake layer, face up, on top. Repeat until you come to your 4th layer, which you will place face down.
  18. Put a generous scoop of frosting on top, spreading evenly with a small offset palette knife and working your way down the sides until you have a thin layer of frosting over the entire cake. Chill until set, about 30 minutes.
  19. Remove from refrigerator and apply another "coat" of frosting.
  20. For the top of the cake border, place a large star decorating tip (I used 1E) in a large Decorating Bag filled no more than 1/2 full with pink frosting.
  21. Hold pastry bag in one hand (your dominant hand) and slowly rotate the turntable with the other. Holding frosting-filled bag at a directly above the top of the cake (90° angle), squeeze a small bit of frosting and turn the table a bit at the same time, releasing pressure slowly then stop (this will create a tapered decoration). Repeat all the way around the cake, overlapping slightly each time you pipe a new "shell."
  22. For bottom border, you will want to have the cake on the plate or pedestal which you plan to serve it upon. Fill another pastry bag the same way, and this time use tip 1M. You will pipe at about a 45° angle this time (give or take). Sprinkle with your favourite sugar pearls or sprinkles atop the top border. For some kitschy charm, add a few Vintage Ballerina Cupcake Toppers to your cake!
  23. Store, covered in a cake dome, at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in refrigerator for up to 5 days. Best enjoyed day 1 or 2 at room temperature.

Notes

[cake layer recipe adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum]

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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • If you do not have access to cake flour, you can quickly and easily make your own to cake flour substitute. Learn how in this previous post, Bring Me Flours. Substitutions with other flour types will result in a drastically different cake.
  • This cake batter method of blending the butter with the sugar and dry ingredients first is called the “reverse creaming method,” and was pioneered by cake guru, Rose Levy Beranbaum.
  • As with any vanilla cake, you can use 100% liquid egg whites in the cake layers (simply weigh them on your kitchen scale), which saves wasting the yolks. If using whole eggs and separating, always separate when eggs are cold, but use when room temperature.
  • Baking the cake layers in 4 pans, rather than 2 and then splitting the layers afterwards, yields an evenly baked cake that bakes faster and without overdone edges.
  • I highly recommend (strongly urge!) you to use a digital kitchen scale to measure ingredients.
  • This batter makes fabulous cupcakes.
  • The frosting tastes like vanilla ice cream–you’ll see!
  • Some pink food gel colours cause streaking. I find that, for me, Americolor Electric Pink does not cause streaking (but it’s an intense pink, so go easy!). After several hours there are some teeny darker pin-sized dots, but the cake in the photos is after several days, to give you a better idea. Also note that pink colour fades, particularly in the sun. You still want to go easy with the colour, but just keep it in mind.
  • You may enjoy reading my previous post, 50 Tips for Baking Better Cakes.

Good luck & enjoy!



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Chocolate Birthday Cupcakes with Nutella Cloud Frosting

Cupcakes galore! I think it’s safe to say that this layer-cake bakin’ girl has never before made so many cupcakes or used so many sprinkles in such a short span of time. Actually, maybe it’s not so much that I haven’t made so many in such a short time, but that I’ve never blogged about so many. The thing is that so often when I bake, I then eat, share, deliver…all with no time left to photograph or write about the recipes. This was going to be one of those times, but then after sharing a few Instagram shots of the cupcakes and receiving a flurry of requests to share what these cupcakes were all about, I thought I’d switch things up and do an all-iPhone shot post and go ahead and share!

So, a close friend of mine, Janin, was celebrating her birthday this past weekend, and we had a super-fun girls’ night on Friday night at her house (Birthday Cake Shooters, anyone?). Since she’s a relatively new friend (I just discovered how incredible it is finding such true friends at this stage in life.), I hadn’t yet met several of her hometown friends who were coming in to celebrate, so when trying to decide what birthday treats to make for the occasion, I figured if there’s anything that speaks to a gaggle of girls, it’s chocolate and sprinkles–lots of chocolate and sprinkles. You know, one thing I’ve learned over the past few years, is that sometimes keeping things classic and decadent can be as much of a crowd-pleaser as super-fancy, fondant-covered treats. You probably know by now that I am passionate about those as well, but I just feel that it totally depends on the situation. I used to feel that I had to go crazy decorating for days in order for birthday desserts to have wow-factor, but I’ve since discovered that’s not true.

So I made two types of cupcakes, the first was Janin’s all-time favourite, banana cake with chocolate frosting (I ended up making that frosting a la Nutella), and the second was classic dark chocolate cupcakes with the same chocolate frosting, sans Nutella (an amazing option for the non-Nutella fan). When one of the girls took a bite and said, “Whoa, the frosting is like a chocolate cloud!” I knew I had to put that down on paper. Chocolate clouds? What my dreams are made of. The truth is, it really does have a billowy cloud-like texture, and as a girl very concerned about texture, particularly frosting texture (not to mention enticing baked good names), “chocolate cloud” spoke to my very core. Add the rich, satiny awesomeness that is Nutella to the mix, and I’m blogging an otherwise unblogged delight.

The cupcakes themselves are a classic, one-bowl dark chocolate cupcake recipe that never disappoints. It’s only slightly different than this recipe, but I love it (love them both–I just have a thing for experimenting). The frosting is a modified version of this previous frosting I posted, but the Nutella gives it this incredible taste and adds to the already creamy texture. Even if you don’t like Nutella, you can simply omit it for a classic chocolate cloud frosting.

Such a classic birthday treat! Did I mention how well they pair with Chocolate Whipped Cake Martinis & Chocolate Banana Cake Martinis?

Oh yes, they do. Just sayin’.

Here’s the recipe:

*Product notes: The Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder – Extra Dark (my favourite) cocoa powder is what makes this chocolate cupcake recipe so incredible.

Chocolate Birthday Cupcakes with Nutella Cloud Frosting

Yield: 12 standard cupcakes

Ingredients

    For the Cupcakes:
  • 3/4 cup (95 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) white sugar
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) dark cocoa powder (I use Cacao Barry Extra Brute)
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3.5 g) baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3.5 g) baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3.5 g) cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon (4 g) salt
  • 1/3 cup (80 mL) buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) brewed coffee or espresso, hot
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons (7.5 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • For the Nutella Cloud Frosting:
  • 1 cup (227 g)(2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but cool
  • 1-1/2 cups (190 g) icing sugar (confectioners’), sifted
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (125 g) premium bittersweet chocolate, chopped, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/3 cup (100 g) Nutella
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) milk
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

    For the Cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F and line a muffin/cupcake pan with your favourite cupcake liners.
  2. In the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, coffee, oil, egg and vanilla.
  4. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed (you may need the plastic splashguard that comes with mixer), Divide batter among (2/3 full or just less) liners. Batter will be liquidy, and cupcakes will rise.
  5. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until toothpick or skewer comes out with a few crumbs. Try not to over-bake. Carefully remove cupcakes from the pan immediately (it's hot!), and place them on a wire rack until completely cool.
  6. For the Nutella Cloud Frosting:
  7. In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the icing sugar and butter and beat on low speed (I use #2 on my KitchenAid mixer) for about 1 minute.
  8. Add vanilla, and beat on low speed until well combined. Add the melted and slightly cooled chocolate and beat on medium speed (I use #4 on my KitchenAid mixer) until smooth, about 2 minutes).
  9. Add the Nutella, milk and pinch of salt, and beat on med-high speed for another minute.
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Sweetapolita’s Notes on the Cupcakes:

  • For evenly-sized cupcakes, I always use a 50mm cookie scoop (it’s a bit trickier with this runnier batter, but it’s worth it).
  • You can substitute the Cacao Barry Extra Brute cocoa powder, but be sure to use a quality cocoa powder (Dutch-processed).
  • To see the baking ingredients, equipment and tools that I used for this recipe, check out my shop.
  • Even if you dislike coffee with a passion, please trust me–it simply enhances the rich chocolate flavour!
  • For tips for baking better cakes, check out this previous post.
  • This recipe is easily doubled or tripled.
  • Unlike vanilla cupcakes, these stay incredibly moist for several days, so I often bake them a day before I need them (unfrosted) and frost on the day I am serving them, but you can also frost them and keep them in an airtight container for up to 3 days, for convenience (if they last that long!).

Sweetapolita’s Notes on the Nutella Cloud Frosting:

  • For the purest at heart, you can make your own Nutella by following Stella’s Homemade Nutella recipe.
  • You can omit the Nutella and you have an incredible “classic chocolate cloud frosting.”
  • It’s ideal to make this frosting right before you need it, because you’ll find it’s an ideal consistency for piping and decorating, but once it’s on the cake or cupcakes, it stays perfectly smooth and fluffy for up to 3 days.
  • You can add small increments of more milk, if too thick, and blend until smooth.
  • If you find the frosting starts to get air bubbles while sitting (during the decorating process), use a rubber spatula to knock the air out of it, by stirring it with a back and forth paddling motion.
  • To frost the cupcakes in the photo, I inserted a large, plain round icing tip into an 18″ pastry bag and filled it with the frosting. I piped a large swirl starting from the outside of the cupcake, and, moving in a slow circular motion, worked my way to the center, and gently pulling the bag up and away from the cupcake. Then, using the underside of a small spoon (I used a baby spoon), I put slight pressure on the very top of the swirl and pull the spoon up and away. This creates a well for the sprinkles and gives the cupcake a classic but not-so-perfect look. Top with confetti quins or sprinkles for a fun birthday finish!

Good luck & enjoy!


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