Vanilla Cream-Filled Double Chocolate Cake for Two

Vanilla Cream-Filled Cake for Two via Sweetapolita

Hi, guys! This post might be a teaser of sorts with its iPhone-only photos, but the good news is that this recipe is one that I couldn’t go another day without sharing. I had planned to do “official” photos of this cake, and I still might when I make it again for my man on Valentine’s Day, but for now let’s talk about how much I want you to make this cake. (I also think this is perfect best-friend-sharing cake for two!)

What exactly is going on in that little 5″ round tower of gooey decadence? It’s 6 layers of a deep, dark (super-moist) chocolate chip devil’s food cake stacked and filled with a fluffy vanilla cream and smothered in a glossy, satiny, super-chocolaty glaze. I say it’s “for two,” but of course you both might surrender before  it’s all done and save some for later. You can smother it in the glaze and then let it set, but I think it’s much sexier and decadent to pour the warm gooey glaze all over it and embrace the messy deliciousness digging right in — this is no time for cutting pristine slices.

I made this little super-simple chalkboard cake topper to profess my love by cutting out two chalkboard labels with a tag cutter (but you could use scissors) and taping to each side of bamboo skewer that I cut to size. So easy!

And this is one of those cakes that you can infinitely modify with new flavours. I love the idea of adding liqueur to the glaze (I did Grand Marnier for a hint of orange), and you can even go ahead and add some orange zest to the cream filling. I love the idea of an espresso theme — you could add Kahlua to the glaze, and even add a bit of coffee extract to the cream filling. What I do recommend, though, is always using the best chocolate you can, especially with the glaze. I used an extra dark chocolate with 72% cocoa solids, but you can use any kind you like. You’ll just want to stay away from milk chocolate, as it’s just a bit too sweet for this kind of glaze.

I opted out of using a ganache (chocolate and heavy cream) because the cake filling is made from heavy cream, and I find that much ganache on top of this much cake and cream filling a bit over the top, but you could definitely give that a try if you’re feeling rebellious. The glaze is made from chocolate, butter, a bit of light corn syrup, splash of liqueur (optional) and a pinch of sea salt (I also love how easy it is to make.) and, like ganache, takes to pretty much any flavouring you love.

So you might see another version of this cake soon, along with a few other upcoming cake delights, but in the meantime here is the recipe for this ooey gooey, super-chocolaty cake for two. Oh, and if you’d like to check out me digging into this cake for real (and I realize it’s just me . . . not two), you can watch it here, taken via my new favourite iPhone app, “Vine.” An app kind of like Instagram, but rather than viewing snippets of life in images, you see 6-second looped video clips — way too much fun. ♥

Vanilla Cream-Filled Double Chocolate Cake for Two

Yield: One 6-layer, 5-inch round cake

Moist, dark and decadent chocolate chip devil's food cake stacked high and filled with vanilla cream and covered in a rich and super chocolaty glaze . . . for two.

Ingredients

    For the Cake:
  • 1 stick (115 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1-1/3 cups (300 g) packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (145 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) Dutch-process dark cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon (4 g) baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon (6 g) kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) buttermilk, shaken and warm
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) coffee or espresso
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup premium dark or extra dark chocolate chips
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) white vinegar
  • For the Vanilla Cream Filling:
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) cold water
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) unflavoured gelatin (such as Knox brand)
  • 1-3/4 cups (420 ml) whipping cream (35-37% fat), cold, divided
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • For the Chocolate Glaze:
  • 6 oz (180 g) premium dark or extra dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 stick (115 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) light corn syrup
  • Splash of liqueur of choice, optional (grand marnier, spiced rum, kahlua, etc.)
  • Pinch of sea salt (regular salt, if necessary)

Instructions

    For the Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter three 5-inch round cake pans, line with parchment rounds, and dust with flour, tapping out the excess.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar and vanilla on medium-high speed until lighter in color and slightly increased in volume, about 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each is fully incorporated before adding the next.
  3. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into a medium bowl. Add the salt to the dry ingredients after sifting, and whisk dry ingredients.
  4. In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the coffee and buttermilk. Alternate dry ingredients and buttermilk mixture into creamed mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated, then fold mayonnaise into batter with a whisk, until just blended. Fold in chocolate chips. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and baking soda (it will foam) and quickly add to batter, mixing until just combined.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. If possible, weigh the batter in each cake pan for 275 g each (excluding the pans--you will want to tare the scale each time.) This ensures even layers. Smooth with small offset palette knife, and bake for about 25 minutes, rotating once after 20 minutes. Cake is done when toothpick or skewer comes out clean. Try not to over-bake.
  6. Let pans cool on wire rack for 20 minutes, then invert cakes onto racks, gently, peeling away parchment rounds. Let cool completely.
  7. For the Vanilla Cream Filling:
  8. In a small bowl, place the cold water and sprinkle with the gelatin. Let sit for at least 10 minutes. In a small saucepan, bring 1/3 cup of the cream just to a simmer, then stir into the gelatin mixture. Refrigerate, stirring frequently, until cool but not set, about 8 minutes.
  9. In a chilled stainless steel bowl, beat the remaining whipping cream, icing sugar, vanillla and salt until it thickens slightly and soft peaks form. Very gradually add the gelatin mixture and continue beating until medium-firm peaks form (should be thick enough to spread). Keep covered and chilled until ready to use.
  10. For the Chocolate Glaze:
  11. Place the chocolate, butter and corn syrup in a medium heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering (not boiling) water. Stir the mixture using a rubber spatula until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in liqueur and salt.
  12. Assembly of the Vanilla Cream-Filled Double Chocolate Cake for Two:
  13. Cut your 3 cake layers each once horizontally with a long, serrated knife, so you have a total of 6 layers.
  14. Place your first layer face-up on a plate and cover with an even thin layer of the Vanilla Cream Filling, taking it right to the edge. Place another cake layer face-up and spread another layer of the filling on top. 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.
  15. Cover the entire cake gently with plastic wrap, and then, once covered, use your hands to carefully ensure the cake is lined up straight. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
  16. Pour the warm chocolate glaze all over cake. Dig in.

Notes

[vanilla cream filling adapted from Bon Appetit Desserts]

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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • I used three 5 x 2 Inch Round Cake Pan for this cake. These pans are super cute and so handy for small layers cakes. It feels unnatural spending money on three of the same pan at first, but it’s so worth it if you like building multi-layer cakes. 
  • I used 72% Bittersweet Chocolate  for my chocolate chips in the cake itself and the glaze, which really a dark and intense chocolate. You can use any premium dark or extra dark chocolate you might have on hand or prefer.
  • I use this MAC Knife for all of my cake layering. It’s super sharp and makes clean cake layers, ideal for building not-so-crumby layer cakes.
  • I recommend chilling the wrapped cake layers for about 30 minutes before slicing them to build the cake, and then chilling the filled cake (you can carefully cover with plastic wrap) for about an hour before covering with the glaze and eating. It’s not required, but if you find your cake is wobbly, this helps set the filling, keeping it more stable.
  • Leftover cake (is there such a thing?) should be refrigerated, because of the whipped cream filling and served at room temperature. I love this chocolate cake because it stays unthinkably moist even after refrigeration.
  • For the cake topper, I used this Tag Punch and cut from something similar to this Black Chalkboard Vinyl and then just trimmed the end for a plain rectangle. (The tag punch is also awesome for making these photo gift tags, among other fun ideas.)

Good luck & enjoy!

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Red Velvet & Raspberry Supreme Cake

Raspberry & Red Velvet Supreme Cake via Sweetapolita

Cake! It’s been a little while since I’ve shared a cake with you, I just realized. But don’t worry, it’s not for lack of making them. I’ve been experimenting with red velvet layer cake for about 2 weeks now (which usually means a lot confused looks from my husband), because I somehow became rather fixated on creating the most addictive version I could. I made one a day for about 8 days, and then spent a few days coming up with what I felt would be the yummiest flavour and texture combination. (Don’t worry, the runner-up versions are now frozen and eagerly await turning into red velvet cake pops).

I know we’ve chatted about red velvet before (you might remember this Red Velvet & Cinnamon Layer Cake or these Black Velvet Cupcakes with Cherry Cream Cheese Frosting), and as much as I loved those recipes, I just felt compelled to experiment. A lot. And then it happened — just in time for Valentine’s Day, I fell in love. I fell in love with layers of super-moist red velvet cake, fluffy pink whipped vanilla cream filling with fresh raspberries, creamy marshmallow cream cheese frosting , satiny Belgian chocolate frosting and a pile of fresh raspberries on top.

Red Velvet & Raspberry Supreme Cake via Sweetapolita

So what is red velvet cake? Well it’s was said to originate at the Waldorf Hotel in New York, but has become a southern staple. Essentially it’s a vanilla buttermilk cake with a touch of cocoa powder and then boosted with heaps of deep red colour (and typically paired with a classic cream cheese frosting). I have always made the cake using the traditional vanilla extract and super red gel colour paste, but my flurry of red velvet attempts this month were inspired by this Red Velvet Cake Bakery Emulsion Flavor. It’s a colour and flavour all-in-one, but the flavour has this amazing citrus-y-ness to it, that I find rather addictive and pleasing. I love emulsions of this kind because they keep their taste even through baking, yielding the most delicious cakes and cookies. You can certainly make this recipe without it by substituting vanilla extract and red colour, but I feel it’s worth trying. I’ll likely use it every time I make the beloved red velvet cake from now on.

The thing was I couldn’t decide if I wanted the cake to be a towering 6-layer cake with seemingly endless layers of alternating filling (as it is with this cake I made some time ago), or if I wanted to keep those 3 cake layers as they were and make it a little simpler with a really generous layer of each type of filling sandwiched inside. So . . . I did it both ways.

Red Velvet & Raspberry Supreme Cake via Sweetapolita

This is the 6-layer version, which is essentially the same 3 layers split into two each, so each version technically has the same amount of cake, but more filling. I should tell you that this, as far as I can remember, the only cake in the history of Sweetapolita from which my husband has eaten more than one piece. Can you even dream of something so unthinkable? The man doesn’t really like cake. Or chooses not to, I’m not sure. But we’ll try to overlook that (good thing he’s so hot). He said that he couldn’t quite figure out what it was about it, but he couldn’t stop. Yes! Now is that too much to ask on a regular basis?

Red Velvet & Raspberry Supreme Cake via Sweetapolita

One of my favourite components of this cake is the light-as-air pink whipped vanilla cream and fresh raspberry filling. With the moist density of the red velvet cake, the tangy sweetness of the marshmallow cream cheese filling and depth of the dark chocolate frosting, that hit of cloud-like raspberry cream balances every bite.

Red Velvet & Raspberry Supreme Cake via Sweetapolita

So why did I have to make so many cake layers before settling on a winner? Well, I found that if they were butter cakes, they would dry out, especially when I refrigerated them, which wasn’t going to work since this cake should be refrigerated (due to the whipping cream, raspberries and cream cheese). I tried a few that were oil-based, like my favourite one-bowl chocolate cake recipe, but as moist as they were, they tasted so oily to me — almost like carrot cake minus the carrots. Maybe that’s just my heightened taste buds, but I couldn’t get past it.

So I knew I had to go back to a butter-based cake, and then I remembered the devil’s food cake from my Inside-Out Neapolitan Cake — it’s moist and decadent. So I started with that and gave it the old red velvet treatment by altering the quantities and incorporating the flavor emulsion, an extra hit of red colour, etc. With a mix of brown and white sugar along with a dollop of mayonnaise, the cake is so flavourful and moist.

Red Velvet & Raspberry Supreme Cake via Sweetapolita

Here’s the 3-layer version, which is no less delightful, but rather a tad shorter and has more cake representation with its thicker layers.

Red Velvet & Raspberry Supreme Cake via Sweetapolita

Trust me that what this dessert lacks in neat-and-tidyness, it makes up for in taste and addictive messiness. ♥

Red Velvet & Raspberry Supreme Cake

Yield: One 6-layer (6 thin cake layers + 5 thin filling layers) 8-inch round cake *or* one 3-layer, 8-inch round cake

Super-moist and decadent red velvet cake filled with pink whipped vanilla cream with raspberries, creamy marshmallow cream cheese filling and smothered in a satiny and fluffy chocolate frosting topped with more fresh raspberries.

Ingredients

    For the Cake:
  • 3/4 cup (170 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (225 g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup (200 g) white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) *red velvet flavor
  • 1 teaspoon super red soft gel paste, optional
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups (260 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (55 g) cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon (8 g) Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon (8 g) kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 cups (360 ml) buttermilk, warm
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) vinegar
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons (8 g) baking soda
  • For the Marshmallow Cream Cheese Filling:
  • 1/2 cup (63 g) icing sugar (confectioners' or powdered), sifted
  • 1/2 cup butter (115 g), at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (57 g) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 jar (106 g) marshmallow cream (such as Marshmallow Fluff)
  • A pinch of salt
  • For the Pink Whipped Vanilla Cream Filling:
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) cold water
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons unflavoured gelatin (such as Knox brand)
  • 1-3/4 cups (420 ml) whipping cream (35-37% fat), cold, divided
  • 1/2 cup (63 g) icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt
  • A drop or two of red or pink gel paste
  • For the Chocolate Frosting
  • 2 cups (454 g)(4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 cups (500 g) icing sugar sifted
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 oz (250 g) quality dark or extra dark chocolate, chopped, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) whipping cream (35-37% fat)
  • 2 cups fresh raspberries, washed and dried

Instructions

    For the Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter the bottom of three 8-inch round cake pans, line with parchment rounds, and dust with flour, tapping out the excess.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugars, red velvet flavor, and red gel paste on medium-high speed until lighter in color and slightly increased in volume, about 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each is fully incorporated before adding the next.
  3. Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a medium bowl. Add the salt to the dry ingredients after sifting, and whisk dry ingredients. Alternate dry ingredients and buttermilk into creamed mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated, or finish by hand gently. Fold in mayonnaise.
  4. In a small cup or bowl, combine the vinegar and baking soda until it fizzes, then quickly add the batter and whisk until blended.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. If possible, weigh the batter in each cake pan for 460 g each (excluding the pans--you will want to tare the scale each time.) This ensures even layers. Smooth with small offset palette knife, and bake on top of a baking sheet (two pans on sheet for first round, then the final pan) until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Try not to over-bake.
  6. Let pans cool on wire rack for 20 minutes, then invert cakes onto racks, gently, peeling away parchment rounds. Let cool completely.
  7. For the Marshmallow Cream Cheese Frosting:
  8. In an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine butter and icing sugar on low until blended, about 1 minute. Add vanilla and salt and mix on medium speed for about 3 minutes.
  9. Add marshmallow cream and cream cheese and beat until combined and creamy, about 1 minute.
  10. For the Pink Whipped Vanilla Cream Filling:
  11. In a small bowl, place the cold water and sprinkle with the gelatin. Let sit for at least 10 minutes. In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup of the cream just to a simmer, then stir into the gelatin mixture. Refrigerate, stirring frequently, until cool but not set, about 8 minutes.
  12. In a chilled stainless steel bowl, beat the remaining whipping cream, icing sugar, vanillla and salt until it thickens slightly and soft peaks form. Slowly add the gelatin mixture and food colouring and continue beating until medium-firm peaks form (should be thick enough to spread). Keep covered and chilled until ready to use.
  13. For the Chocolate Frosting:
  14. In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the icing sugar and butter and beat on low speed for about 1 minute. Add vanilla and salt, and beat on low until well combined. Add the melted chocolate and beat on medium speed until smooth (about 2 minutes). Add whipping cream and beat on med-high speed for another minute.
  15. Assembly of the Red Velvet & Raspberry Supreme Cake:
  16. On an 8"inch round cake board (or cake plate), put a small dollop of frosting.
  17. For a 3-layer cake (3 cake layers + 2 layers of filling):
  18. Place your first layer face-up on the board (or plate) and spread the Marshmallow Cream Cheese Frosting, leaving about 1/2" around the edge, using an offset palette knife. Place the second cake layer face-up and repeat with a thick layer of Pink Whipped Vanilla Cream Filling. Gently press a layer of fresh raspberries into the filling, slightly spaced apart. Top with another thick layer of the Pink Whipped Vanilla Cream Filling and spread evenly using your offset palette knife.
  19. Place your third cake layer atop the pink filling, face-down. Gently adjust the cake so that it is straight and lined up properly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
  20. Stir the Chocolate Frosting well with a rubber spatula to remove air bubbles, and then frost the entire outside of the cake until you have a smooth layer, sealing in all crumbs. Refrigerate until the frosting firms up, about 30 minutes. Repeat with thick and even layer of the frosting, adding some swirls or patterns using a large spatula. Top with fresh raspberries and a sprinkling of icing sugar, if desired.
  21. Keep refrigerated (this cake will stay moist!) but serve at room temperature.
  22. For the 6-layer version:
  23. Cut your 3 cake layers each once horizontally with a long, serrated knife, so you have a total of 6 layers (layers will be thin).
  24. On an 8"inch round cake board (or cake plate), put a small dollop of chocolate frosting. Place your first layer face-up on the board (or plate) and cover with 1/6 of the Pink Whipped Vanilla Cream Filling, leaving about 1/2" clearance around the edge. Gently press a layer of fresh raspberries into the filling, and then cover with another 1/6th of the filling, spreading until even. Place another cake layer face-up and cover with 1/2 of the Marshmallow Cream Cheese Frosting, spreading until even.
  25. Repeat until you come to your final 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.
  26. Cover the entire cake gently with plastic wrap, and then, once covered, use your hands to carefully ensure the cake is lined up straight. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
  27. Stir the Chocolate Frosting well with a rubber spatula to remove air bubbles, and then frost the entire outside of the cake until you have a smooth layer, sealing in all crumbs. Refrigerate until the frosting firms up, at least 30 minutes. Repeat with thick and even layer of the frosting, adding some swirls or patterns using a large spatula. Top with fresh raspberries and a sprinkling of icing sugar, if desired

Notes

I have recently started using Lorann Red Velvet Flavor, which gives the cake its dark, red colour and just slightly-citrus taste that doesn't fade once the cake is baked. If you can't get this ingredient, you can replace with 1 oz of red liquid food colouring, or 1-2 tablespoons of a super red gel paste colour along with 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract.

[whipped cream filling adapted from Bon Appetit Desserts]

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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • I now swear by this Lorann Flavoring Oil Red Velvet Cake Bakery Emulsion Flavor – with its concentrated colour/flavour all in one, it’s worth it (to me).
  • I always bake layer-by-layer (so 3 cake pans for 3 layers). For this cake I used three of these: 8″ Round Cake Pan – it’s a bit of an expense dishing out for 3 pans at once, but if you’re like me, you’ll find they’re always in use!
  • I also use these Parchment Rounds for ease and convenience.
  • If you don’t have access to Marshmallow Fluff (or other marshmallow creme), for the Marshmallow Cream Cheese Filling, you can simply omit it from the recipe and replace with extra cream cheese.
  • You can watch me frost a cake and add the same large frosting border in this video tutorial post.
  • This cake stays incredibly moist even after being refrigerated. Be sure to not leave it out for more than about 4 hours at room temperature (due to the fresh raspberries). Just be sure to remove the cake about two hours before serving, so that it’s at room temperature when eaten.

Good luck & enjoy!

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Last Minute Valentine Treat Ideas {No Bake}

Happy Love Day!

A short & sweet post for you today…

If you’re like me, and you were sure that you still had days or weeks until Valentine’s Day, and then woke up realizing it’s here, then you may need a few quick and easy treat ideas that you can whip up in a hurry. These recipes are all no-bake, require only a handful of ingredients and offer a little wow factor with now factor. Simple or not, these confections are actually some of my all-time favourites:

Butterscotch Peanut Butter Marshmallow Hearts

 

Sprinkled Chocolate Party Spoons

 

Cake Batter & Sprinkle Bark

 

Misty Minty Peppermint Patties

Jennie’s Peanut Butter Pie

Wishing you a day filled with love & cake (or, of course, some fabulous no-bake treats)!

 

P.S. I love you.

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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:

Sweetapolita

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

Sweetapolita

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.

Sweetapolita

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

Sweetapolita

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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Love Letter & Scripted Heart Cookies

Love Letter Cookies via Sweetapolita

Happy love-month, everyone! I’ve been having so much fun exploring different love-themed treats, now that the Valentine’s spirit is upon us. I have a seemingly endless list of lovey sweets in my blog-ideas notebook, so I hope to somehow make it through several more before Valentine’s Day. I feel, though, that so many of these designs would also make for gorgeous wedding, bridal shower, or anniversary confections, because where there is love, oh please, let there be cookies!

Love Letter Cookies via Sweetapolita

While browsing a recent issue of Martha Stewart Living, I was beyond inspired (as usual). This time, though, things were really clicking. Every time I turned the page, I felt creative nudge upon creative nudge, resulting in some quick scribbles and sketches in my pink Moleskine notebook (I should be buying the notebooks by the dozen these days!). One of the most inspiring images, to me, was a gorgeous set of pastel letters with wine-coloured seals, created by a fabulous paper company called OrangeArt. Seeing as I don’t think in paper, but in sugar, I immediately started to design this collection of love letter cookies.

Scripted Heart Cookies via Sweetapolita

As a hopeless romantic, love letters get me every time. Lucky for me, Grant is an exceptional writer, and sure knows how to speak from the heart. I still have some of his first love letters to me, and I will admit that the written word affects me more than anything else (particularly his, of course!). It seems we’re all enchanted by the love letters–no matter whose they are, really. I noticed this after Grant and I watched our third Nicholas Sparks (clearly a deep and sensitive author who has a real adoration for love letters) movie last weekend–all of which have a cameo appearance (or more) by a big stack of gorgeously tattered and heartfelt letters. The Notebook, of course, which is centered around the tragic pile of letters intercepted and hidden by the mother of a girl in a star-crossed love affair; Dear John, which also focuses on the written word of love between a young couple parted by war; and finally, our most recent watch, The Last Song–another story of love, but with a heap of unread letters from a father to his daughter. It all reminds me how inspirational and beautiful words really are; even the simple aesthetic of script, to me, is so lovely and artful.

Single Heart Cookie via Sweetapolita

I suppose that’s why I was so taken with the script rubber stamp I found the other day. The effect when impressed upon the fondant is simple, but I think it’s so pretty, textural, and perfectly antiquated.

Love Letter Cookies via Sweetapolita

So here we have a happy little family of scripted love cookies. You know, speaking of family and love letters, I wanted to share a really neat book/idea with you. Shortly after our first daughter, Reese, was born, Grant’s mom bought me a beautiful book called “Love, Mommy: Writing Love Letters To Your Baby.” The author, Judy Siblin-Librach, encourages and inspires the reader to do just that: to write heartfelt love letters to your baby. This gives them something amazing to cherish when they’re older, and they can learn all about specific, day-to-day reasons why you love them so. So, every night, for an entire year, I wrote Reese a love letter in a journal. I’ve put it away so that I can wrap it up and give it to her either on her wedding day, or when the time is right. I’ve also started this for Neve, and I’m so thrilled that Mary Lou (my mother-in-law) gave me this fabulous book. I can’t wait to sit down with the girls, years from now, and read each of their love letters again.

Love Letter Cookies via Sweetapolita

Once I started creating these cookies, I began imagining endless possibilities–there may even be a part two to this post, if I can’t resist the urge to create the next part of my vision! I hope you run with this theme. If you’d like to re-create what I’ve done above, here is the how-to:

Love Letters:

1. Using large rectangular cookie cutter (these are 4.5″ x 3″), cut out/bake/cool desired number of “letters.”

2. Colour fondant (I use Satin Ice brand) desired colours. I used ivory fondant and added the following colours (in tiny amounts):

Pink: Sugarflair “Pink” and a small amount of grey petal dust

Mauve: AmeriColor “Mauve” and a small amount of grey petal dust (I originally used a drop of Electric Purple, but Mauve is already muted, so it’s a better choice)

Ice Teal: AmeriColor “Teal” and a small amount of grey petal dust

Burgundy (for the seal): Sugarflair “Red” and AmeriColor “Electric Purple” and bit of AmeriColor “Super Black”

3. Roll out your fondant to about 1/8″ thickness, one cookie at a time, keeping the remaining fondant covered, and cut rectangle using same cookie cutter you used for cookie. When rolling fondant for cookies, I like to sprinkle icing sugar on counter surface before rolling, and then let the cut-out sit for a moment or two before lifting up with an artist’s palette knife. This way the fondant doesn’t get stretched in any way.

4. Spread a very, very thin layer of royal icing onto the inner surface of the cookie with an offset palette knife, and gently place your fondant cut-out on top, gently smoothing with your fingers.

5. Cut a top flap (any style you like–I used real envelopes for reference) and adhere to your “envelope” with a dab of water. Using a knife, create two angled envelope lines.

6. For scripted detail piece: roll out ivory fondant, then press the rubber stamp firmly down upon the fondant and lift straight up. Using a knife, cut a rectangular piece, let dry for about 15 minutes, and adhere to envelope with royal icing.

7. Using a #2 tip, pipe string onto envelope.

8. Roll a small ball of burgundy fondant, and emboss with wax seal, then place in centre of cookie.

Let cookies dry for several hours, preferably overnight, before packaging.

Scripted Heart Cookies:

These are so simple!

1. Cut out/bake/cool any heart shapes you desire.

2. Roll pastel coloured fondant as with letter cookies, and impress script using rubber stamp. Using same cutters as used for making cookies, cut scripted fondant hearts.

3. Adhere to corresponding cookie using very thin layer of royal icing and an offset palette knife.

I can see these making for fabulous event favours, gifts for loved ones & friends, dessert table details, and more.

Good luck & enjoy!


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