Birthday Wishes… Shopkins

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My little girl just had a birthday; and of course no birthday celebration is complete without a cake topped with birthday candles to wish on before they are extinguished in one (or a few) puffs, which concurrently blankets the cake with tiny droplets of birthday girl germs.  But we digress… let them eat cake.  Germs are everywhere.  Besides, this cake is bulletproof!  It’s covered with homemade marshmallow fondant which no one likes to eat anyway.  I just peel mine right off and get to the good stuff: 4-layers of moist chocolate cake, devil’s frosting, and french vanilla frosting just under the peel, err… fondant.

I’m definitely not a fondant fan, but I must admit that certain cake requests (like this Shopkins cake) does require edible modeling clay to achieve that smooth, plastic look of a toy.  Most of my cakes are covered in buttercream or whipped cream, but I made an exception for this one since I didn’t think tinted buttercream would look as nice as fondant would.

My little princess got 2 birthday parties!  One on her actual birthday with family, including grandma who was in town, and her second party with a little group of friends at our humble home for a night of pizza, “Snow White” the movie, popcorn, and cake, followed by a spontaneous game of balloon war; organized chaos at it’s best!

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Of course I used Ina Garten’s Cheesecake recipe but without the jam, just topped with fresh raspberries.

So lucky mommy (yes, that’d be me) got to bake a cheesecake for her family party and this cute Shopkins cake for her party with her friends and I’m going to share my Shopkins cake construction process.

Little princess wanted a chocolate cake, so little princess got a chocolate cake for her special day.  I used Toba Garrett’s chocolate cake recipe from her book “The Well-decorated Cake” and I promise it’s the BEST chocolate cake you will ever taste!  She claims it’s good to the last crumb, and believe me, it is!  For the filling, I made a HUGE mistake and accidentally  made chocolate icing!!!  Like the kind that you drizzle over desserts for the nice chocolate-spilling-over-the-edge look, and that doesn’t work for a cake filling unless you want a “Sleeping Beauty” type of cake look with all the layers sliding and frosting dripping and the whole cake leaning like the Tower of Pisa.  That’s why, my friends, we should stick to tried and true recipes when attempting a special cake for a special occasion.  Lesson learned.  SO, instead of dumping the chocolate icing, I just doctored it by adding more butter and powdered sugar and it was fixed!  Now, I had delicious devil’s chocolate icing buttercream that was perfect layered with the chocolate cake.

After that detour, I decided I didn’t want to risk the dark brown color of chocolate frosting possibly showing through the light yellow fondant so whipped up a batch of our favorite vanilla frosting, which is also found in Toba Garrett’s book (see above link) called French Vanilla Buttercream.  This buttercream tastes like vanilla ice cream and has a texture that’s lighter and in between a buttercream and whipped cream.  Definitely one of my go-to recipes and have used it in many of my past cakes.

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I made 2 batches of marshmallow fondant and colored one batch yellow then left a larger part of the 2nd batch white and colored some pink and a little black.

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I wanted a taller, cake but I didn’t want to bake a 3rd cake, so I cheated and used my inverted cake pan as my 3rd cake layer to give the cake more height.

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I was in a rush and wasn’t careful removing my 2nd cake from the pan and it broke in several places!

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see how much of the outside broke off?!?!

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But it’s okay!  Just take those broken cake crumbs and mix it with your frosting and now you have chocolate cement to fill in the cracks.  (This is also how you can make cake pops.  crumble cake, mix in frosting, shape, and stick onto sticks)

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Whew, there. Now the cake is good as new 😉

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I split my 2 cakes in half so I got 4 layers.  Put some frosting on my “fake” cake layer then stack cake, frost, stack cake, frost… you get the picture.  I purposely left the top layer rounded since I wanted to keep the rounded look for the Shopkins Wishes cake.  Refrigerate your stacked cake for about 30 mins so it’s easier to cover with frosting and doesn’t shift.

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Smooth on your vanilla buttercream frosting with an offset spatula and refrigerate again while you work on rolling out some fondant. Notice how I frosted my cake pan, the bottom layer of my “cake”.

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After you work your fondant with your hands to get it pliable again, roll it out as big as you can.  I wasn’t able to get it big enough to drape over the entire cake, so I just cut out two 6″ strips (height of the side of cake) and stuck it on.  Get a wet paper towel and run it over your fondant so it will stick to the cake. (dampen only the side that will be touching the cake)

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Carefully smooth it out with your hands or a fondant smoother tool.

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I used two strips to cover the sides of the cake. (you can see the small seam on the left)  It’s okay, I’m going to add the arms there later.

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Roll our your white fondant, then use an 8″ cake base (cheese board from Dollar tree) as a guide to cut out a circle.  You want enough of the white fondant to come over the side of the cake.

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Use a sharp knife to cut around the fondant like above to achieve the look of icing drips.

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Again, dab a wet paper towel over the fondant, then carefully position over the top of the cake.

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Now for the pink band around Wishes.   Roll and cut out an appropriate sized band

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Stick it on with some water then use a blunt knife or I used a wooden skewer to make the slanted indent patterns on the pink band.

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Now make your eyes, nose, arms, and lips and attach with some water!  It already looks so cute!

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Make 3 white snakes then coil into these little swirls

 

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Attach the swirls and make some white “sprinkles” and the cake is complete!  She wanted a “6” on her cake and didn’t want just green candles (which is what Wishes has).

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She loved her little party and was so excited she kept hugging me and telling me ‘thank you’.  That’s what makes my Saturday spent on a birthday cake, all worth it!

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Eating a slice or two of cake helps, too.

Chocolate Fudge Cake

adapted from Toba Garrett’s “The Well Decorated Cake”

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1  1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2  1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 2  1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1  1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs, room temp.
  • 1  1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2  1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 6 oz. melted semisweet chocolate (good quality), melted

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease and parchment line two 8″ cake pans (2″ high).  Melt chocolate, set aside.
  2. Beat butter and sugars together on med- low speed until fluffy.
  3. Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in a separate bowl, set aside
  4. Add eggs into the butter mixture, scraping bowl as needed.  Add vanilla.
  5. Add in a third of the flour mixture, mix. then a half of the buttermilk.  Mix and scrape bowl. Repeat until you have ended with the rest of your flour mixture.  Scrape bowl.
  6. Add in your melted chocolate and beat on med-high until well mixed.  Scraping bowl as needed.
  7. Pour into your prepared cake pans and bake in preheated oven for about 50 mins or until toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Cool in pan for 10 mins then remove carefully onto cooling rack.
  9. Frost cake after completely cool.
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Her friends got to go home with these cute Shopkins keychains from the supplies I had left from a past party where I had bottlecap necklaces.

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I found that printable for free on pinterest and taped them onto pink craft bags.  My girl is into word searches so they got a word search booklet and mechanical pencil (from Dollar Tree) and a pretzel rod dipped in white chocolate w/ sprinkles, plus the keychains.

 

Good luck with your baking adventure!  Thank you for reading and please subscribe!

-Flora

Black Forest Cake Williams Sonoma Style

 

Birthday boy (hubby) wants Black Forest Cake every year and this year is no different.  So Black Forest Cake it is, despite cherries being $7.99/lb at Safeway!!!!!  Of course, I go to Trader Joe’s today and they’re selling about the same amount of cherries in a pack for $4.99!  I was tempted to snatch up the pack and buy it even though we just had cherries the other night and I was already going way over budget with my grocery shopping.  Rest assured, I didn’t buy the cherries JUST because they were cheaper, which I think I have a tendency to do…

 
While driving the kiddos to school yesterday morning, we decided that we would try to throw together a simple surprise “party” (really not a party) for my husband when he got home from work that evening.  So I scrambled last minute to buy the ingredients for the cake and the shrimp scampi (Ina Garten’s recipe) that he so loves and turned my kitchen upside down baking and assembling the cake, then scurrying to make dinner after taking the kids to their dental appointments.  Thank goodness all three of the kids passed their dental check with flying colors and each got balloons which we used for our “decorations” in the entryway! According to my kids, we’re not ready for a party unless we have balloons, albeit just 3 with our dentist’s logo. 🙂    
 
Now about the cake…I love to poach the cherries myself instead of using jarred cherries; they taste so much better!  And we love the combination of chocolate cake with light freshly whipped cream studded with chocolate curls (crumbled curls).  Just blogging about it makes me want to eat the leftover slice of cake right now!  I’ve used this Black Forest Cake recipe from “The Williams Sonoma Baking Book” for a few years now and it never fails and is requested every year by this man.  And I must confess, I just got myself a slice and ate every last crumb and cream… don’t worry, there’s more, hubby.  
 
The cake calls for a 9-inch round cake pan, but I split the batter into two 6-inch cake pans to make a taller 4-layer cake.  If you make it as a 9-inch cake, then split it into 3 layers.


Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease one 9-inch round pan or two 6-inch pans and line the bottom with parchment paper. Melt the butter then set aside to cool.  Sift the cake flour and cocoa powder together on a piece of waxed paper and set aside.  Beat the eggs, vanilla extract, and sugar in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment on high speed until tripled in volume (about 5 mins) and when you lift the whisk it leaves a trail of thick ribbons of batter.   (See video below)
 
Can you see how much it has inflated in volume and falls into thick ribbons when you lift the whisk?

 
 Remove the bowl from the mixer and carefully sift half of the flour/cocoa mixture onto the egg mixture.  Quickly fold it into the egg mixture before sifting the rest of the flour/cocoa mixture over the batter and again fold it in, being careful not to deflate too much.  Then add a large dollop of batter into the melted (cooled) butter, mix, then pour into the main batter and fold in.  The batter will naturally deflate some while you mix in the other ingredients so don’t panic!

How I “fold” in the powder mixture into my egg mixture with one hand doing the “folding” and the other holding my camera.  Yes, you should actually be holding the bowl still with your other hand while you fold. 🙂
 
 


Pour the batter into prepared cake pans and place into preheated oven and bake for about 30 mins.  Check with a toothpick to see if it is done.  Toothpick should come out clean.  Let it cool in the pan set on a wire rack until it is completely cool.

 

While your cake is baking and cooling, poach your cherries, make the sugar syrup, and shave your chocolate (to decorate your cake).

Poach the cherries: Bring 1 ¾ cups water and 1/3 cup granulated sugar to a boil then add 1 cup of pitted cherries and simmer for 10 mins.  Drain and cool.

Sugar Syrup: Bring 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup sugar to a boil over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat, cool and stir in 1 tsp Kirsch (opt)


Chocolate Curls: Use a peeler to “shave” curls off a thick bar of semisweet chocolate.  I like to warm my chocolate with my hands (covered in wrapper) which makes nice curls instead of brittle chips.  



When the cake is completely cool, run a butter knife around the inside of the pans and carefully invert the cake, remove parchment, and slice horizontally to make desired number of layers.  


I like to eyeball it when I cut my cake layers, but you can use the toothpick method to cut your cake layers perfectly, a cake leveler, or whatever other trick you have up your sleeve.  After you have your layers, brush your sugar syrup onto the layers on the cut side.  
 
Pour the heavy whipping cream and confectioner’s sugar into a clean mixer bowl and whisk until medium peak consistency.  (Trick: Place your metal mixer bowl and whisk in the freezer until you are ready to whip your cream. Keeps your cream cold for best results and no runny, melted cream)  It should be stiff enough that it retains the peaks and ridges when you lift your whisk (that way you don’t have whipped cream sliding off the cake and will stay put).
After you reach the desired consistency of whipped cream, place a layer of cake onto a cake board or plate, spread with whipped cream, place poached cherries on the cream, cover the cherries with a thin coat of whipped cream, then add another layer of cake and repeat.
 
Be sure your cake is nicely centered on the cake board/plate and get down to eye-level with your cake to see if it’s lopsided and if it needs more cream or you need to place a thicker layer in a certain part of the cake.  When you are done stacking your cake, cover the entire outside with the cream being careful not to introduce cake crumbs into the frosting.  Use plenty of cream and “push” the cream onto the exposed cake and lift carefully so you don’t pull up a bunch of crumbs.  It doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth on the outside since it will be covered with chocolate shavings. 
 
Protect your surface with waxed paper then start covering the top of the cake with chocolate shavings and “throw” some on the sides until you are satisfied with the way the cake it covered.
 
 Place some cherries on top and you’re done!!!


 You look good enough to eat, you!
 
And eat it, we did!
 
 
 
Black Forest Cake (adapted from Williams-Sonoma)
Ingredients:
Poached Cherries
  • 1 cup pitted fresh Bing cherries (or frozen)
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
Sugar syrup
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp Kirsch (opt)
  • Semisweet chocolate curls (decoration) 
  • Fresh Cherries w/ stem (decoration)
Cake
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 6 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature 
Whipped Cream (filling/frosting)
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar (more or less to taste)
  •  
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F and grease either one 9-inch round cake pan or two 6-inch round cake pans then line the bottom with parchment paper.  Melt the butter and let cool. 
Sift together the flour and cocoa powder onto a sheet of waxed paper and set aside. 

Beat the eggs, vanilla extract, and sugar in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment on high speed until tripled in volume (about 5 mins) and when you lift the whisk it leaves a trail of thick ribbons of batter. Remove the bowl from the mixer and sift  half the flour mixture over the egg mixture carefully fold in then repeat for the rest of the flour mixture.  Fold a large dollop into the melted butter, then fold back into the egg mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until the cake is puffed, about 30 minutes. Toothpick to come out clean (except for a crumb or two). Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.

To make the sugar syrup, in a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the granulated sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Add the optional flavoring (Kirsch) if desired, once cool.

To make the poached cherries, bring 1 ¾ cups water and 1/3 cup granulated sugar to a boil then add 1 cup of pitted cherries and simmer for 10 mins.  Drain and cool.
When the cake is completely cool, run a butter knife around the inside of the pans and carefully invert the cake, remove parchment, and slice horizontally to make desired number of layers.  Place the top layer, cut side up, on a cake plate.  After you have your layers, brush your sugar syrup onto the layers on the cut side.  
To make the whipped cream for filling and frosting the cake, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream and confectioners’ sugar until medium-stiff peaks form. 
Place the top cake layer on a cake board/plate, cut side up, and spread your first layer with whipped cream, strew some poached cherries on the cream, cover the cherries with a thin coat of whipped cream, then add another layer of cake and repeat.  Be sure to leave a 1/2-inch border of cream around the edge so the cherries don’t peek out between the layers. Spread the remaining whipped cream on the top and sides of the cake. 
Press the chocolate curls onto the top of the cake and “throw” some on the sides of the cake. Place some fresh cherries on top of the cake in desired pattern.  Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serves 8 to 10.

Chocolate Hazelnut Layer Cake

So I copied this recipe down from a Woman’s Day magazine years ago while I was waiting forever at a doctor’s office.  The recipe sounded too tempting to just leave.  WELL, that was almost 3 yrs ago and I finally got myself to make it for my hubby’s birthday.

Next time, I think I’ll mix less Nutella into the frosting because it was a bit too rich for our liking, but oh man, this cake is SUCH CHOCOLATEy goodness.  It is so good!  Can I say that much?

The cake recipe is really good as well, I didn’t have Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur) but I used a had some hazelnut flavoring so added just 1 TBS of that and it seemed to be the perfect amount.  It’s a whipped cream based frosting so you need to refrigerate the cake but the cake is still moist and not hard, and the frosting actually tastes better when it’s more firm. 🙂

So here’s some pictures and I actually found the link to the recipe.  http://www.womansday.com/recipefinder/chocolate-hazelnut-layer-cake-recipe-121830

  • 3 cup(s) heavy (whipping) cream
  • 2 bar(s) (4 oz each) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup(s) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup(s) boiling water
  • 1/2 cup(s) Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread; buy two 13-oz jars)
  • 1 cup(s) buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoon(s) Frangelico hazelnut liqueur (optional)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup(s) sugar
  • 1 stick(s) (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon(s) baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon(s) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cup(s) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup(s) Nutella
  • 1 cup(s) hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
  •  Garnish: chopped toasted hazelnuts and chocolate curls
Directions
  1. Microwave cream in a large bowl on high until steaming. Add chocolate; let stand 5 minutes. Stir until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Cover surface directly with plastic wrap; refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours.
  2. Cake: Heat oven to 350°F. You’ll need two 9 x 2-in. round cake pans, greased and floured.
  3. Whisk cocoa powder and water in a medium bowl, then Nutella and buttermilk, Frangelico and vanilla.
  4. Beat sugar, butter, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl with mixer on medium-high speed 3 minutes or until pale. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. On low speed beat in flour in 3 additions alternating with cocoa mixture in 2 additions, beating just until blended. Pour into prepared pans.
  5. Bake 30 to 35 minutes until a pick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pans on rack 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge of each layer; turn out on rack and cool completely.
  6. Insert several toothpicks halfway up side around both cake layers. Using picks as a guide, cut layers in half with a long serrated knife.
  7. Filling & frosting: Beat cold chocolate mixture on medium speed until soft peaks form when beaters are lifted. Put Nutella into a bowl; stir in 1 1/2 cups chocolate mixture until smooth. Fold into remaining chocolate mixture until combined. Remove 2 1/2 cups to a bowl; stir in hazelnuts for filling. Reserve remainder for frosting.
  8. To assemble: Place 1 cake layer on serving plate; spread with 1/3 the filling (1 scant cup). Top with second layer and 1/2 the remaining filling; repeat with third layer and remaining filling. Top with last cake layer. Spread a thin layer of frosting over top and sides; refrigerate 15 minutes to firm. Spread top and sides with remaining frosting. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish just before serving.
  9. Wrap cooled cake layers and make frosting (through Step 1) up to two days ahead. Cover the frosted cake and refrigerate up to three days.


I had already baked the cake layers three days in advance and froze them in the freezer so I could quickly just make the frosting and decorate it on Sunday without having to slave all day over a cake.  It tastes just as good as when it came out of the oven.  I used two 9-inch cake pans like it called for and then split both cakes so I got a total of 4 layers.

Then I beat the whipped cream (that had already been melted w/ choc and chilled) and filled and frosted the cake.  

cut out strips of parchment paper and put it under the cake before you start frosting it and it’ll catch all the frosting mess.

Here’s a neat trick, after you cover the cake generously w/ the frosting, and roughly even it out w/ your offset spatula, use a pastry scraper and smooth out the edges.  It helps if you have a cake decorating turntable thing, but I’m sure a lazy susan would work as well.

nice and smooth

use your offset spatula to smooth out the top as well and remove the strips of parchment paper so it’s all nice and clean and no frosting all over the plate.

Then I decorated the cake by dusting cocoa powder just on top, throwing (literally) choc sprinkles onto the sides, and then topped w/ Ferrara Rocher chocolates.  OH, forgot to mention that I also crushed some Ferrara Rocher chocolates into just the cake filling mixture and it added a nice touch, especially since I didn’t get hazelnuts to add to it.