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
Yields 12-14 servings

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

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!!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Wall-e Cake

I recently had an order at work for a Wall-e cake for a little boy who was turning five. When he and his mother came to pick up the cake, he was so excited. I was really happy when he saw the cake and his face lit up!

(I'm trying out different watermarks on my photos, so bear with me until I find one that I like.)

Wall-e is made out of fondant and the details are drawn on with Wilton food markers. To make him look rusty and dirty like he does in the movie, I brushed him with some cocoa powder. 
This cake was so fun to make. I'm really glad that Andrew liked it! 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Grandpa's Birthday Cake

Today I brought my grandpa this cake that I made for his birthday, as a one-day belated gift.

I went for a nautical themed cake because Grandpa was in the Navy when he was younger, and he has owned several boats throughout the years.
This boat was fondant, though. :)

My grandpa is the best there is. I always enjoyed going over to my grandparent's house when I was younger, and I still enjoy it very much. When I was growing up, I would love to go to their house and do one of the many puzzles they kept around for their grandchildren. I loved to play my favorite game that they had with my sisters. It was a picnic game that flung plastic ants when a timer went off. My sister and I would take the ants and arrange them in a trail throughout the house and try to convince my grandparents that they had ants invading. I don't think they ever believed us. ;) They also had a Snow White board game that came close with the picnic game in the ranks. Probably one of my favorite memories with Grandpa is when he would take a nap in his recliner and my sisters and I would pile all the toys we could find on top of him, until only his limbs were visible, trying not to wake him up. I found out years later that between the excited squeals and laughter of four girls ages 3-9 and the weight of the numerous toys, Grandpa wasn't really asleep the whole time. Unbelievable.

This is Grandpa. The wonderful man that I wouldn't be here without.

So, once again...

                                                      ...I hope it was just as great as you are. :)

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cactus Cake

Happy Cinco de Mayo/birthday to me!

What better way to celebrate a Cinco de Mayo birthday than with a cactus cake? I've always thought cactuses (cacti?) are cool. I saw these cactus cakes all over the internet, so naturally I really wanted to make one. I saved it to make for my birthday cake. :)

The flower and cactus spikes need to be made ahead of time so the royal icing can dry. I made mine several weeks ahead of time because I needed to use up some royal icing that I had left from other projects, also because I was anxious to get a start on this cake.
I didn't really know how to make a proper cactus flower out of royal icing, so I just improvised and did more of a lily type flower. Although it has its flaws, it still looked good on the cactus.

The soil is crumbled cake from what I had to cut off to level the cake. I added some broken royal icing spikes to make it look more like potting soil. For the actual cactus I used a Wilton tip 32.

So far I have had a wonderful birthday. Almost as soon as I woke up my parents and sister came down the stairs singing happy birthday. They all gave me a present that I had been wanting for quite some time (the Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary performance at Royal Albert Hall on DVD :D). I have had happy birthday sung to me three different times by different groups of people and numerous birthday wishes. :) I definitely feel special.

Thanks everyone for all of the birthday wishes! Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Pig Cake

Funny story: I've had plans to make this cake for months. Finally this past weekend I started making all of the fondant pieces that needed to dry ahead of time. As I was making all the little piggy pieces I remembered a fetal pig dissection in biology was coming up. I finished putting the cake together today...the day I had the dissection. My family joked that there would be more cake for them after I did the pig dissection, but I came home and happily proved them wrong by eating a piece. The dissection was awesome, but I prefer this type of pig. :)

Look how happy he is! I've always loved pigs. For my 6th birthday I had a pig party. I had a whole bunch of friends over and we put on pig noses and played lots of games that my mom had planned.

My pig nose :)

There were snorting contests (where we had to snort with different emotions if I remember correctly), pebble pickin', and a game where we had to eat jello out of a bowl using only our a pig! My pig party is one of the birthday parties that I actually remember a lot about. Because, as you can see from the pictures, I had a lot of fun!
But back to the cake:

I saw pictures similar to this little guy floating around on the internet. I'm not sure of the original source, but if anybody knows I will be sure to give credit.
Mr. Pig was made in half of the Wilton sports ball pan. Everything else was marshmallow fondant, although I'm sure you could make his feet out of cake balls if you wanted to. He is in a chocolate pudding mud pit that I spread around the cake board. I gave him happy eyes because he really loves his mud. :)

That's all there is to it!

Ok Mr. Pig, we'll leave you to your mud now.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Jane Austen Teapot Cake

My sister, Rachel, is a huge fan of Jane Austen. She has read almost all of her books twice; some of them three times. She loves practically anything related to the Regency era. She has said several times that she was born in the wrong time period. She also enjoys having tea parties.

Teapot cakes have always fascinated me. There are so many different ways they can be done. Since I knew how much Rachel liked teapots and Jane Austen, and since I got a couple of comments mentioning Jane Austen on my Brush Embroidery post, I decided to combine the two and make it a surprise.

The cake is covered in marshmallow fondant, and the piped beads are royal icing. For Miss Austen's silhouette, I printed off a picture and placed it on the fondant. Using a toothpick, I traced the outline of the picture, leaving an indentation in the fondant. Then, I cut out the silhouette with a knife.

I originally wanted the background of the cameo to be a light pink, but I read that Jane Austen's favorite color was blue (I wonder if that's true?). I'm glad I went with the blue.

And for those of you who may by skeptical that this is really cake....I have some proof. :)


This is by far my favorite cake that I have decorated yet.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Things I've Learned

There are so many things that I have learned about decorating cakes and cakes in general since I started decorating them almost 2 years ago now. Most, if not all, of the things that I have learned have been learned through trial and error.
No, luckily I haven't dropped a cake yet. Every time someone asks me if I have, I wince a little when I tell them no, knowing that my turn is going to have to come. It is bound to happen eventually. I don't think any cake decorator can avoid such a disaster.
But anyway, here is a list of some of the things I have learned since I got into decorating cakes:

1. Always make more buttercream than you think you will need.  I have run out of buttercream so many times because I thought I had made enough. And once you get the buttercream a certain color, it is hard to match that color with the next batch you have to make. So, even if you think you are making enough buttercream, make more. Make more until you KNOW that it is going to be enough to cover and decorate that cake. Seriously, did leftover buttercream hurt anyone? I didn't think so.

2. Dry your hands on a paper towel, not a towel, when you are going to be working with fondant. Why? Because the seemingly invisible fuzzies from the towel will stick to your wet hands and they won't be visible until they are stuck to the fondant. Everything sticks to fondant, and once fuzzies are stuck, they don't want to come out.

3. Bring more decorating tools to an event than you think you will need. If space allows, bring it. If you think you probably won't need that decorating tip or a certain spatula, but there is the slightest possibility that you will? Bring it. If you end up not bringing something, you're going to end up needing it once you get there. That's just how it works.

4. Get used to people watching you. Chances are, when you are setting up a cake at an event, you aren't going to have a space all to yourself. People are going to be walking in and out and doing their own thing. But at some point or another, people will watch you. Whether out of fascination or boredom, people will watch you. You have to get used to this fact and not do something stupid out of nervousness.

5. You learn a lot of birthdays you didn't know before. When you bring a pretty cake somewhere, for some odd reason people start telling you their birthdays? Hmmm..I wonder why that is. ;)

Monday, March 18, 2013

New Name!

Icing on the Cake is now Once Upon a Tier!

It was time for this blog to have a new, more original name from the one I created a couple of years it got one!

What do you think? Do you like the name Once Upon a Tier?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Brush Embroidery

I have seen brush embroidery several places lately so I figured it was time to give it a whirl. I love the way brush embroidery looks; its so elegant and dainty.

It was a lot easier than I was expecting. I was imagining everything possible going wrong in my head, but it worked out pretty nicely! What didn't work out so nicely was the sides of the "cake". It was my first time using a cake dummy which was a little difficult. I was using royal icing to cover the dummy and it was crusting over before I could get it smooth, so there were little annoying wrinkles everywhere...ugh. But at least the top turned out okay!

I was originally going for a deep green icing color, which I thought would look really pretty with the white flower, but this was the green I stopped at after getting tired of mixing in so much color.

Overall, I'm happy with my first attempt at brush embroidery! I will definitely be doing it again.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Snow Cakes

I woke up this morning to 6 inches of snow and it has been steadily falling for the past 5 hours. My sister, Rachel, and I went out and built a snowman (I don't think I'd ever made a REAL snowman...with a carrot nose and everything?) and then decided to make snow cakes and see whose we liked better when they were finished. She went to one side of the yard, I went to the other, and we got to work!

This was my finished "cake":

Holly berries, holly leaves, and cedar branches! I only put the holly berries on the front of the cake because I had to take my bulky gloves off to place the berries on...and they kept popping back off. I also wanted to find something I could use for a cake stand, to get it off of the snow and give it some more color, but I couldn't find anything in my part of the yard.

Then I went to see Rachel's "cake"...

She used the bird bath for her cake stand! I was rather jealous of it. Not to mention her little heart topper is adorable.

The verdict? I liked hers better and she liked mine better.

What do you think? Which snow cake do you like better?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Harry Potter Snitch Cake

My friend Katie turns 18 in a couple of days. She had a party yesterday and I got to make the cake. :) The party was Harry Potter themed, so after a couple of ideas thrown around we decided a snitch cake would be good. Katie thought of everything for the party; she had butterbeer, Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, homemade chocolate frogs with boxes and wizard cards that she put together by hand. It was amazing and a lot of fun!

I debated on how to make the wings for the cake for days, and after searching the internet many times (CakeCentral is amazing by the way) I decided to make them out of a 50/50 mix of gumpaste and fondant.

I formed the ends around dowel rods and let them dry in a flower former and brushed them with gold pearl dust. The cake itself was covered in gold buttercream that I also brushed with gold pearl dust after chilling it.

Before the pearl dust

After the pearl dust

Transporting it was a bit of a nightmare, but I managed to get it there safely. There were no major problems, and everybody liked it!

The Birthday Girl!

I'm really happy with how it turned out! 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mischievous Kitten Cake

I got to put my Sports Ball pan that I won from the Wilton contest to use!

Isn't he cute?!

This cake turned into a two day project for me. It was very time consuming making all of the yarn strands, plus the fact that I would get annoyed at it for various reasons and take breaks. But I had really wanted to make it ever since I saw it in a decorating book and I'm glad I finally made it.

It is just a simple yellow cake and the yarn and kitten are fondant. I drew his pupils and mouth with a black edible marker. I had originally wanted to make him black so he would be like my cat, but the grey was easier to make and I think the pink and grey look good together anyway, so it all worked out.

He likes you :)