Real Buttercream Chocolate Peppermint Cake or The Mistake Cake 2.0

Looking at the picture, I could have improved my technique somewhat.

There are random bits of Baker’s Chocolate in the icing that remained solid.  If I had added some cream to the Baker’s Chocolate and melted it, it would have blended more evenly into the icing. Since the cream goes into the icing anyway, I could have made a ganache by adding the cream to the chocolate, then melting them slowly together.  That resulting ganache would have mixed easier than the rather stiff Baker’s Chocolate.

Three squares of Baker’s Chocolate went into the icing.  You never add cocoa to an existing recipe that doesn’t call for it since it will throw off the mix.  Melt chocolate in a Bain Marie, in your microwave, double boiler, then fold it in to the recipe.  You will have a much better result, and it won’t be dried out.  Cocoa is a wonderful thing, but it is dry as dust and it will suck all the moisture out of your recipe.

I could have also used Chocolate Chips.  It would have made for a much sweeter icing, but that wasn’t necessary.  This icing will be my “Go-To” icing from this point forward.

It REALLY is THAT good!

The Starmints were melted to “glass” and could have been sanded on the edges for a sharper look.  They weren’t running into the icing, even after three days and the last pieces of cake were enjoyed.

But…

This turned out to be one of the tastiest cakes I have made in a very long time, and I do make them often.

First of all, it is what I will call the “Mistake Cake 2.0”.  When I was in Key West, FL for a visit, I went to a small shop a couple blocks off of Duval street.  The place was a wonderful shop, run by an amazing, warm, and friendly woman named Henrietta.  Her shop was called The Art Of Baking.  Henrietta had this “Mistake Cake” that was a deep, dark, and rich Chocolate cake.  I love a good chocolate cake, and this was an excellent one.

However.

Henrietta was apologizing because she had made a mistake and dropped a teaspoon of peppermint oil into the cake batter.  She didn’t know how it was, and I told her it sounded wonderful and I’d have it anyway. 

Watching me take my first forkful, Henrietta hovered like a mother watching her child take their first step.

The cake was amazing.  We enjoyed it together, and a conversation.  From that point forward I asked of her and her business, and … well you get the picture.

What happened was she moved “back to the mainland”.  From what I can tell she’s in Midway, Georgia, doing private baking.  If I ever go back up there, I will certainly try to find her.  All the information after around 2009 gets a bit sketchy.

Anyway…

The decorations are simple and can be done at the same time as any other baking.  On a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil, place the needed Starmints or hard candies face down.  Separate the candies well or they will run together and create a sheet of “glass” for you – unless that is what you want.  Preheat the oven to 350F and bake for 4 to 6 minutes.  At 4 minutes, check the candies – remove if done.  Trim edges with a knife.

The cake is simple, the actual recipe for the cake is my scratch chocolate cake batter, baked in 9 inch round pans for two layers.  Add one teaspoon of Real Peppermint Extract to the cake batter.

If scratch cake is a bit much, try a chocolate cake mix from a box.  But remember to add the teaspoon of Peppermint Extract.

Now for the good stuff.  The icing.  Unlike most icings that use shortening, this is a true buttercream.  There is no cooking, there are no weird preparations.  It has to be done with a mixer, and I recommend a stand mixer.  If you want to make this icing as a Yellow/White icing, leave out the chocolate.  If you want to make this without the peppermint extract, I recommend adding in a teaspoon of vanilla extract and that will give you a “proper” white buttercream icing.  Or even a banana or mango extract.

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks of butter, at room temperature, softened
  • 3 to 4 cups of confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract – other extracts can be substituted such as vanilla if desired
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons of Heavy Cream or Milk
  • Optional – for chocolate icing, melt separately 3 squares Baker’s chocolate
  • Optional – pinch of salt

Process:

  • Cream your butter well in a stand mixer.  The more you cream the butter, the more fluffy it will be
  • To the creamed butter add in slowly 3 cups of sifted confectioner’s sugar.  
  • If a sweeter icing is desired, add up to 4 cups, however I found it to be perfect with 3 cups.
  • Add to the icing base 2 to 3 Tablespoons of Heavy Cream or milk.  I recommend 3 Tablespoons heavy cream.
  • Add to the icing base any flavoring such as your chocolate, vanilla, and peppermint at this time.
  • Mix well to incorporate as much air as possible.
  • This will be very stiff in the refrigerator so only chill when needed.
  • At room temperature, this icing will be soft and creamy.
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Easy Cinnamon Muffins from Scratch – Recipe

They really are easy.  They’re also much better for you than the original recipe.

You see, this started as an Ina Garten Recipe, the Barefoot Contessa, that I modified.

More that I changed the process to make it work for me.

Originally these were Donuts.   Now while everyone loves donuts, I didn’t want fried, and they were a little large.  I managed to get 16 muffins instead of her 12 donuts, so I didn’t feel bad about having Icing on top.

I also don’t have a donut pan for baked donuts so I got to thinking.   Ina made the comment that this was a thin or loose batter, and she was right.  It was about the same consistency as any cake or muffin batter so why not try muffins.   Muffins are basically cupcakes, so I may try this as an actual cake since they did turn out light and fluffy. 

A wee bit of science here.  Mixing flour and water gives Gluten.  That’s fine in bread, gives good texture, but with a muffin you want light.  So mix gently and use an all purpose flour or experiment with a cake flour with this recipe.

The taste comes from the Cinnamon and the Sugar and who doesn’t like that?

Ina’s original instructions are here on her web page, but the recipe is below for your convenience.   I really do recommend her recipes, they’re usually quite good.

This is the recipe for the batter only.  If you want the original donuts, follow this link.

Here’s that process…

Instructions:

  • Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl.
  • Stir the dry ingredients well or sift them together.   I used a stand mixer and gave it a couple pulses just to stir it up.
  • Mix all the wet ingredients in a separate bowl.
  • Add the wet to the dry and mix them lightly until the batter is smooth but be careful not to over-mix.  Over-mixing makes this recipe “rubbery”.
  • Bake in Muffin Cups – 1/4 cup per cup.
  • 350F for 17 minutes or until a toothpick comes clean when pierced through the top.
 
Dry Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

 

Wet Ingredients:
  • 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
 

Really Simple Pineapple Angel Food Cake Recipe With Just Two Ingredients

You got this far. 

You must either like Cake, like Pineapple, or just like my writing and are wondering what I’m banging on about.

You may just like my picture.  Sweet, isn’t it?

Let me put it this way… You can bake this cake.

It took me about 5 minutes to make, and about 30 minutes to bake.

I saw the recipe float by on a feed of recipes, er… well you know what I mean by that… on Facebook and I thought I have the ingredients and didn’t have cake laying around so why not?

Angel Food Cake is very light, even recommended on some diets if you are going to have a snack.

Personally I just really enjoy Pineapple.

Ingredients?

  • 1 box of Angel Food Cake Mix.
  • 1 12 ounce can of Pineapple chunks – IN JUICE.  Syrup will mess the recipe up and besides you don’t really need the sugar.

Preparation:

  • To a large mixing bowl, add the box of Angel food Cake Mix.
  • Add to the mixing bowl the can of Pineapple chunks and all of the juice.
  • Stir until the mix is smooth.  It will foam a bit to give body to the cake.   That’s what you want!
  • Add the entire mix to a GREASED 13×9 Baking Pan.  Yes, you do not normally grease an Angel Food Cake, but it worked fine for me when I did this.
  • Bake as per the instructions on the box or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  My instructions said 375 for about 30 minutes.

Variation – Mash the pineapple chunks in a bowl before adding to the mixing bowl until they are smallish.   It will make the cake smoother and not quite as chunky.  Unless you like that sort of thing.  I have another box of Angel Food cake mix so next time, I’ll try it with mashed Pineapple.  Just use a big salad fork and take your frustrations out on the Pineapple!

How Would You Like Some Questionable Cake – Picture

This Cake is Questionable!

This Cake LIES!  It’s all LIES I tell ya!

I mean here’s this cake.  It doesn’t even have the common decency to be a full cake! 

It’s Not ROUND! 

What is with those candles?  They are QUESTION MARKS!  I mean, Come ON! Question marks?  What are they supposed to say?  Is it for a birthday?  Is it some secret how old they are?   The candles aren’t even NEW!  They were *GASP!* Burned Before!!!!!

Nobody just makes a Half of a Cake!  Sheesh! Two layers and not THREE?

And look at that icing… It’s NOT CHOCOLATE!!!!!   It’s Commercial Vanilla Icing that’s brown to LOOK like Chocolate!  On top?  Rainbow Jimmies?  I bet they are tutti fruiti too just BECAUSE!

I’m so confused *grabs fork*  What’s inside?  Orange Icing in the middle?  It doesn’t taste like Orange!  It’s … More Vanilla?  At least the cake itself is still Chocolate…

And oh so very fresh and tasty too. 

Ok, I’ll have the rest of that slice.

How To Make Icing for Four Cupcakes

I’m back into Mad Scientist cooking again.

You see I’ve been rightsizing my recipes.  I’m counting calories since I have no “off switch” around certain foods, especially baked goods.   So if it says that a serving is 200 calories, I tend to make it just a little bit smaller and call it done.

I made four cupcakes today from a mix.  The box said that 1/3 cup of mix would be 200 calories.  So therefore multiply by three and divide by four and you get four perfect 150 calorie cupcakes.

Of course they needed to be iced.

I have a foolproof icing recipe that unfortunately makes way more icing than you want to use at one sitting, or 1/2 the amount of icing you need for a cake.  Surf the internet and see if I can find a simple recipe I can downsize.

Bingo, right on one.  Who knows better than that cake decorating company, Wilton?  The first hit online when I searched was their Buttercream icing recipe.  After doing the math I figured out the recipe below:

All ingredients were done by weight – 1 ounce is 28 grams, 1/2 ounce is 14 grams.  Yes, I did use grams but you don’t have to it seemed fairly forgiving but add the milk in “drips and drabs” so you don’t get a runny icing.  It’s all about the “texture”!  If it looks right, it’s done.

  • 1/2 ounce butter (one tablespoon)
  • 1/2 ounce shortening (one tablespoon)
  • 2 ounces confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 teaspoon milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla

Add all ingredients to a large-ish coffee mug.  Mix with a regular fork until smooth.  Use as icing, but chill in refrigerator.

That’s it.  It’s all a bit Frankenstein’s Cake Monster,  but the results were tasty.

You don’t have to cut yourself off from good things, just be moderate with them.  Each of those cupcakes were 250 calories a piece.  It helps that I’m eating 2200 calories a day of course.  If you’re not at that level, just act accordingly… so enjoy!

I know I did… the icing was excellent, one of the best recipes I have ever stumbled across.

Chocolatey Goodness at a Manageable Size

Yes, I right-sized a cake.

You see, a home made from scratch chocolate cake will not keep more than 2 days without turning dry and crumbly.   You really can’t bring it back to life without a gallon of milk and even then it isn’t great.

The recipe I use for cake will make two 9 inch layers or three 8 inch layers.  A while back I got another one of my patented brainstorms.  Why not freeze all but one layer and treat that last one as a cake?

One round layer didn’t look right so I sliced it in half and made a two layer cake out of it.  Four generous slices made for a less-guilt birthday cake.

Since I made three layers and will make this cake into three separate “D” cakes, I’ll get 12 slices out of it and not feel too bad about the results.  

Since it was half a cake or more like a third of a cake, we sang “Happy.” and stopped.  Not the whole song, just the word “Happy”.  It seemed enough.

The Jimmies are leftover from Halloween.  I’ve got this Warehouse Sized container of the things and they just don’t get used up as fast as you’d expect.  There is enough for one or two more cakes at this rate.  D Cakes that is.

I’ve got the pictures of the before and during of the cake baking episodes so some day I may share the recipe.  It’s really quite good even if every time I make the thing, I do it wrong but differently.

Happy Birthday just never quite says it enough when you have a freezer full of chocolate cake “discuses” wrapped in cling film.

Cross Training Home Repair

There are certain things that you do in the course of the day in the kitchen that have some applications in unexpected ways.

I bake, rather a lot.  I’m taking a breather the last few months since all that baking in the holidays was adding weight that hasn’t quite all gone away.   It is now, I’ve lost 8 pounds in two months.  Minor adjustments and limiting myself to a normal diet instead of my usual training diet was what did the trick.

All that baking of cakes and cupcakes, sweets and tarts resulted in my getting passable at cake decoration.  Some of my cakes ended up looking like a wreck, others were surprisingly professional looking.  I would be better at it if I tried a Fondant icing or something similarly easy to decorate, but I don’t.  I bake for a small audience and that audience likes a specific fluffy icing.

The problem is like any baker at home will tell you, it never comes out quite perfect.  Every cake I bake, whether from mix or scratch will be a little uneven.  Frustrating to a baker trying to do something nice for a friend, and usually that friend either will not notice it or notice it and take it as the mark of a fine home made treat.

I usually look for those slightly uneven cakes and think “Mark Of Quality”.

When I get those slightly taller in the middle cakes, I could slice them even or just live with it by cheating.  Pack the divots in the cake with a little extra icing, and let it chill, then ice and try for a nice even look.

The end result is being able to spackle walls like a pro.  I’ve managed to get apartment walls so even that they were better than when I moved in. 

The trick is to spackle the walls, then come back about an hour or two later with a wet finger or a damp cloth and “sand” it even.  It can even dry to a shiny texture if all is right.

Results like that are what you expect on walls.  Lately the nemesis of the bathtub caulk has raised it’s ugly head.

When Caulking a tub, the tube instructs that the best results are where there is no dirt left over, no water drops, and it is best to remove the old caulk.

Great.  But it’s a tub.  Its purpose is to hold water.  That means you’re in for a challenge of timing. 

Shower in the morning, then late at night after dinner, do your caulking.  Oh and don’t forget that stuff you did yesterday has dried so you have to even that all out first.

Pretending it is a cake, Squirt out a reasonable amount of the caulk along the joint but not too much.  How do you know how much if you don’t do this every day?  Simple, yesterday’s caulk hasn’t dried.

The last time I caulked the tub was last week.  There are spots that were just skinned over and when poked, they poured white latex out over my hand and into the tub.  Heavy handed?  Perhaps, but there’s a gap behind that tub – there’s some serious hole going on.

I did look in to that gap and it goes on forever.  I thought I saw a sparkle back there, and I believe that it’s because I have a small black hole in the wall.  How do I know it’s a black hole?  Simple, I can’t see it and it’s sucking all the caulk into it.

The Singularity of Caulk.  The Black Hole of Tub-Caulkutta.

After trimming the stuff, there’s this crack that formed as the surface tension was relieved.  The first places caulk will dry is where it is thinnest.  No matter how good you are, there will be small differences in the thickness… trim and clean it all back with a knife or blade and you end up with a crack.

Go back at it with another bead and repeat as necessary.

A 1 hour home improvement DIY turns into a mulitple week project. 

That’s what I get for thinking I can ice a cake!

Looking at the walls, there’s this one spot that needs spackle.  Much easier.  Ahhhhh!