Monday, March 24, 2014

The Ultimate Gluten Free Chocolate Cake {Recipe}


This cake, y'all. I don't even know where to start. I guess I could start by saying that it's made with quinoa. No - don't go! I promise it's delicious. My family said they liked it better than non-gluten free chocolate cake. They are self-proclaimed "cake snobs," so that is saying something!


The quinoa is cooked and then pureed, so if you puree it enough it is undetectable. I didn't puree mine quite long enough, so there were still little tiny bits of quinoa, but it didn't bother me or my family. There is no quinoa flavor, just delicious chocolate flavor. I never would have guessed that quinoa could make such a delicious, gluten free cake.


This isn't the typical light and fluffy cake - it is super fudgy and rich. It is paired with a whipped ganache so as to not be sickeningly sweet. It's amazing. I didn't call it "ultimate" just for fun.

The Ultimate Gluten Free Chocolate Cake
{Printer Version Here}
Source: Once Upon a Tier. Adapted from Barefeet In The Kitchen.
Yields 12-14 servings

Ingredients:
The Cake:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup cocoa powder  (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups cooked white quinoa
1/3 cup milk
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup butter, melted 

The Ganache:
2 cups chocolate chips
2 cups heavy whipping cream

Directions:
For the cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two 9-inch cake pans generously with baking spray.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
3. Add the quinoa to a food processor and pulse until the quinoa is broken up and sticks together. Add the milk, eggs, vanilla, and butter and puree until smooth and no bits of quinoa are seen, stopping to scrape the sides of the processor occasionally. 
4. Add the quinoa mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until fully combined.
5. Pour the batter evenly into the cake pans and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out with a few crumbs. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes before flipping them out onto cooling racks. Let cool completely before frosting. 

For the whipped ganache:
6. Place the chocolate chips in the bowl of an electric mixer. In a small saucepan, heat the cream until it just begins to boil. Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate chips. Whisk the cream and chocolate until the chocolate is completely melted. Refrigerate until completely chilled, at least an hour.
7. When the ganache is chilled, attach the whisk attachment to the stand mixer and whisk on high speed until soft peaks form. 

Assembling the cake:
8. Place one cake layer onto a cake plate. Spread half of the whipped ganache onto the layer. Place the other cake layer on top of the ganache. Spread the remaining ganache on top of the cake. Keep refigerated.

Enjoy!   
  

Rachel and my mom dug in as soon as I told them I was done taking pictures. The piece was gone in seconds.



It's seriously that good.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Chocolate Loaf Cake with a Mint Cream Cheese Swirl {Recipe}

Can I join in on the discussion about the crazy weather? I'm sure everybody is just as tired of hearing about it as they are tired of the crazy weather itself, but...come on! Like everywhere else it seems, Virginia has been freezing cold one day and warm enough to wear shorts the next. This past Tuesday was an amazing 80 degrees and today the high is 40 with a wind chill of 25 degrees. In fact, I just went to check the weather and it informed me that it is "much colder than yesterday." And it looks like they are calling for snow on Monday. Again. I have seen enough snow this winter to last me 3 winters. I think I can count on this cake to help me make it through, though.


I don't have much to say about this cake, other than it is delicious. I mean, just look at all the chocolate chips on top. It is a perfectly moist chocolate loaf cake with a delicious minty cream cheese ribbon swirled throughout it. It has a perfect balance of mint and chocolate. The mint does not overpower the chocolate, but it is definitely there.





Chocolate Loaf Cake with a Mint Cream Cheese Swirl
{Printer Version Here}
Source: Once Upon a Tier. Heavily adapted from Tutti Dolci
Yields ~12 servings

Ingredients:
Mint Cream Cheese Swirl:
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 Tablespoons sour cream
4 Tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon mint extract
2 drops green food coloring (optional)

Chocolate Loaf Cake:
1 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder (I used dark cocoa powder)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
Chocolate chips for topping

Directions: 
For the Mint Cream Cheese Swirl:
1. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, sour cream, powdered sugar, mint extract, and food coloring (if using) until combined and smooth. Transfer to another bowl and set aside.

For the cake:
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8x4 inch loaf pan with nonstick baking spray.  

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

4. Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment (no need to wash the bowl or paddle from the cream cheese), beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla until combined. Add half of the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Add the sour cream and mix until combined. Add the remaining flour mixture and, once again, mix until just combined. 

5. Spread one third of the batter into the loaf pan. Drop half of the cream cheese mixture by spoonfuls onto the batter. Spread another third of the batter over the cream cheese. Drop remaining cream cheese mixture by spoonfuls. Top with remaining batter. Using a knife or skewer, swirl the batter and cream cheese together. Smooth the top with a spatula. Top with as many chocolate chips as you would like (nobody is judging). 

6. Bake for 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool completely. Slice and devour. Enjoy!     
 



Monday, March 10, 2014

The Quickest and Easiest Way to Fix "Broken" American Buttercream


Broken buttercream is the bane of any cake decorator's existence. Many types of buttercreams can "break," but I'm talking about good ol' American buttercream, today. American buttercream is simply a mixture of powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, and a liquid.

So, what exactly is broken buttercream?

Buttercream breaks when the fat and liquid in the recipe separate from each other. It gets chunky/beady and quite ugly. This is what it looks like (I darkened the picture quite a bit to make it easier to see):


Isn't that just ugly? Definitely not something you want to put on a cake.

When I had my first experience with broken buttercream, I turned to the internet to see if there was a way to fix it, or if I would just have to toss it. There were several options to try to fix it, but they weren't very quick or easy. Most of the options included beating the buttercream like crazy for a long time or messing with the temperature of the buttercream until it was just right. Getting the temperature just right involved either heating the buttercream or cooling it down with an ice pack...but if it went too far either way, you would have to keep messing with it. In other words, way too complicated!

So what is the quickest and easiest way to fix broken buttercream?

Add a tablespoon or two of shortening. 

That's it! Just add 1-2 tablespoons of shortening and beat for about 30 seconds. That's all it takes! The buttercream will magically come back together as the shortening recovers the balance of fat and liquid. Since it is such a small amount, the shortening does not alter the flavor of the buttercream.


Good luck!

Note: A perfectly good buttercream can also break when food coloring is added. To help prevent this from happening, stick to gel based icing colors instead of liquid based ones.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Cookie Dough Oreo Cake with Browned Butter Buttercream {Recipe}


Have y'all tried the new Oreo flavors?  About a week ago Oreo released two new flavors: Cookie Dough and Marshmallow Crispy. I was on a computer in my college library when I saw an article that these two new flavors were coming out. I was so excited and looked around to see if anyone else was seeing what I was seeing. They weren't. I was halfway hoping that somebody would catch my eye as I was looking around so that I could tell them about the new flavors. They didn't. It's probably better that way, though, because they might have realized thought that I was crazy.

I have yet to try the Marshmallow Crispy kind, but the Cookie Dough ones are really good! They don't taste exactly like cookie dough, but they are still tasty. They have sort of a caramel-y flavor which is why I thought they would go really well in a cake with a browned butter frosting. And did they ever!




Cookie Dough Oreo Cake with Browned Butter Buttercream
Source: Once Upon a Tier original. 
Yields 12-14 servings

Ingredients:
Cookie Dough Oreo Cake:
1 box vanilla cake mix
1 small box vanilla pudding mix
3/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup milk
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups crushed Cookie Dough Oreo cookies 

Browned Butter Buttercream:  
3 sticks salted butter
1 1/2 pounds powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
5-6 tablespoons milk

Directions:
For the cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with floured baking spray. 

2. With an electric mixer, mix the cake mix, pudding mix, oil, milk, and eggs on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes. Fold in the crushed Oreo cookies. Pour half of the batter into each prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cool on wire racks for about 10 minutes, then flip the cakes out of the pans and let them cool completely. 

For the buttercream:
3. Place the butter into a saucepan. Melt the butter over medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue to cook and stir the butter until it starts to turn a golden brown (it will get very foamy before it starts to turn color). When the butter is golden brown and smells like toffee, remove it from the heat. Let the butter sit until cool. If you're like me, you will want to drink it at this stage. Instead, pour the butter into a container lined with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator until it is the consistency of softened butter (or refrigerate in until solid and then take out to soften).

4. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the softened browned butter on medium speed until fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and beat on low speed for 30 seconds. With the mixer still on, add the vanilla and milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the buttercream is spreading consistency.

Assembling the cake:
5. Level the cake layers and place one on a cake stand. Spread some buttercream and place second layer on top. Cover the entire cake with frosting, reserving some for the rosettes on top if desired. Crush Cookie Dough Oreo cookies in a food processor and press the crumbs onto the side of the cake. If desired, pipe 4 evenly spaced rosettes on top of the cake. Stand a Cookie Dough Oreo cookie in each rosette. Pipe 4 smaller rosettes in between the larger rosettes. Sprinkle with cookie crumbs. 

Enjoy! 



  

Monday, February 10, 2014

Browned Butter Buttercream {Recipe}


When I first started writing this post, the only thing that popped into my head to say about this buttercream was a Frozen reference (I'm not obsessed...): browned butter and buttercream are both so intense, put them together, it just makes sense! It is completely cheesy, but I had to use it because it is so true. I love buttercream and I love browned butter, so it only made sense to use browned butter for buttercream.

If you have never heard of browned butter (you are missing out), it is butter that has been cooked until it is a golden brown color and smells and tastes like nutty, toffee-y goodness. This is what it looks like in its solid form:


 Look at that beautiful layer of golden deliciousness.

Anyway, this buttercream is seriously amazing. I don't want to make buttercream with plain, boring butter anymore. After you try it, you won't either.

Browned Butter Buttercream
{Printer Version Here}
Source: Once Upon a Tier original.

Ingredients:
3 sticks salted butter
1 1/2 pounds powdered sugar
5-6 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract  

Directions:
1. Brown the butter. Place the butter into a saucepan. Melt the butter over medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue to cook and stir the butter until it starts to turn a golden brown (it will get very foamy before it starts to turn color). When the butter is golden brown and smells like toffee, remove it from the heat. Let the butter sit until cool. If you're like me, you will want to drink it at this stage. Instead, pour the butter into a container lined with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator until it is the consistency of softened butter (or refrigerate in until solid and then take out to soften).

2. Make the buttercream. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the softened browned butter on medium speed until fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and beat on low speed for 30 seconds. With the mixer still on, add the vanilla and milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the buttercream is the consistency you are looking for.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Olaf Cake (Rachel's Birthday Cake)

Today is Rachel's birthday! I made her a cake. ;)

"Hi, everyone. I'm Olaf. And I like warm hugs!"

I remember having no idea a few months ago that a new Disney movie was coming out. Rachel was really excited for this new Disney movie that was going to be called Frozen, so she looked up a trailer for me to watch. I thought it looked good and wanted to see it, but she thought it looked really good and was chomping at the bit to see it. About a week after it came out, she and I went to see it together. We absolutely loved it! When we came out of the theater we couldn't stop talking about it and wanted to see it again. A couple weeks later, we went to see it again.

If you haven't seen Frozen yet, you really should. It's one of the best Disney movies in my opinion. I won't give anything away for those who haven't seen it yet, but it shows that true love is not always in the form you expect it to be in.

Which brings me back to the cake. ;)


I had every intention of photographing the step by step process of this cake, but...unfortunately that just didn't happen. Olaf is the first standing fondant figure I have made. I was always really intimidated by fondant figures, but it's not so bad! I used a great picture tutorial from Puckycakes.

"So cute! It's like a little baby unicorn!"
 
The trees are sugar cones that I just piped green icing onto with a star tip. Add a little powdered sugar for snow and it's a little winter scene! 



"Some people are worth melting for."

Happy birthday, Buddy ol' Pal! <3




Sunday, October 6, 2013

Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Cake {Recipe}



I decided to finally jump on the pumpkin bandwagon! The chocolate pumpkin bandwagon.

I like to hold on to Summer for as long as I can, but Fall is definitely here now. The leaves are all falling to the ground after changing their pretty colors. I guess this is my "Welcome Fall" cake.


I was at work the other day when these thoughts popped into my head: Chocolate pumpkin cheesecake cake! A chocolate cake with pumpkin cheesecake in the middle and pumpkin buttercream. With chocolate ganache!

I then got on the internet and Googled chocolate pumpkin cheesecake cakes. Nothing matched what I was looking for so I narrowed it down to just "pumpkin cheesecake cake." I found ones that were pumpkin cakes with plain cheesecake in the middle, but I wanted pumpkin cheesecake in the middle...with chocolate cake! I then thought, does chocolate and pumpkin even go together? Let me tell you: chocolate and pumpkin go together. No, they were made for each other.



I am so glad that I decided bring the Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Cake to life. I really hope you will try it!

Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Cake
{Printer Version Here}
Source: Once Upon a Tier. Cheesecake layer adapted from Lori Lange's many cheesecake cakes at RecipeGirl.com
Yields 12-14 servings

Ingredients:
Pumpkin Cheesecake Layer:
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin, NOT pumpkin pie filling
1/4 cup sour cream
Rounded 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/16 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/16 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Chocolate Cake Layers:
1 box Duncan Hines chocolate cake mix
1 small (3.9 oz.) box chocolate pudding mix
4 large eggs
3/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup water or milk

Pumpkin Buttercream Frosting:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
Pinch salt
1 pound powdered sugar

Chocolate Ganache:
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions:
For the Cheesecake Layer:
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Fill a 13x9 pan with an inch of water and place it on the lowest oven rack. Place another oven rack on the level above the pan of water. Spray a 9-inch spring-form pan with nonstick spray.

2. Using an electric mixer beat the cream cheese until it is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.  Add in the sugar and salt and beat for 2 more minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl halfway through. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each egg until incorporated. Mix in the sour cream, pumpkin, spices, and vanilla until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared spring-form pan. Place the pan on the rack above the 13x9 pan. Bake the cheesecake for 40-45 minutes or until the cheesecake is set and doesn’t jiggle. Let the cheesecake cool on a wire rack. After it has completely cooled, put the pan in the freezer until the cheesecake is frozen through. This will take at least 3 hours and may be frozen overnight.

For the Chocolate Cake Layers:
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with floured baking spray.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, add all of the ingredients. With the electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Increase to medium speed and beat for 2 minutes. Pour half of the batter into each prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool on wire racks for about 10 minutes, then flip the cakes out of the pans and let them cool completely.

For the Pumpkin Buttercream:
5. With an electric mixer, mix the butter, pumpkin, and vanilla until smooth. Add the spices, salt, and powdered sugar and mix on low speed until smooth and combined.

For the Ganache:
6. Place the chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl; set aside.

7. In a small saucepan, bring the cream just to a boil over medium-high heat. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Whisk until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Let cool to room temperature.

Assembling the Cake:

 
1. Level the chocolate cakes by cutting off the crown. Place one of the chocolate cake layers onto a cake stand or cake board. Spread a thin layer of the pumpkin buttercream on top. 

2. Take the cheesecake out of the freezer and take off the sides of the pan. Slide a knife under the cheesecake to remove it from the pan. Place the cheesecake layer on top of the first cake layer. Spread another thin layer of buttercream on top of the cheesecake layer. 

3. Place the second cake layer on top of the cheesecake. 

4. Frost the entire cake with the pumpkin buttercream.

5. Pour the ganache onto the top of the cake. Using an offset spatula, spread the ganache towards the edge of the cake until it starts to drip down the sides.


You can leave the cake like this, or you can add the swirls like I did. To do this, fit a decorating bag with a Wilton 1M tip. Fill the bag with whatever pumpkin buttercream is leftover from frosting the cake. Pipe 8 evenly spaced swirls around the top of the cake. Place a chocolate chip upside down onto the tip of each swirl. Slice, eat, and enjoy!!