Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Mousse Frosting

My church had a women’s brunch today, and my friend who was organizing it asked me to make a dessert. After spending hours searching through recipes and emailing with the aforementioned friend, I realized that our other friend’s birthday was this past Thursday but she hadn’t been in town to celebrate it. So I figured I would kill two birds with one stone and make a birthday cake.

This was quite the adventure. I’ve never made a layer cake before and I’ve never written on a cake with frosting, so this covered two firsts for me. A friend who is a crazy good baker/cook/is a food science major at UW Madison gave me some tips beforehand, so it turned out to not be that hard- or a piece of cake as my really punny high school teacher friend would say. Haha.

Anyway, while neither of those new experiences gave me much trouble, I did run into trouble with whipping cream by hand. I’ve made homemade whipped cream several times, and I’ve never run into this issue. Last night it happened TWICE in a row. It kind of freaked me out a bit. I always knew somewhere in the back of my head that when you whip heavy cream the cream has to be cold. I guess last night the cream was too warm, so when I whipped it, it separated out into butter and buttermilk! Finally the third time (I actually had to go out and get more heavy cream) I put the mixing bowl in the refrigerator and the whisk in the freezer and kept the cream cold and it came out fine.

All in all though this recipe was a success! Maybe next time I’ll be more adventurous and use hexagonal cake pans instead of boring old circular ones.

In other news I watched the Hunger Games movie tonight, let me know if you want to discuss!

Recipes from Joy of Baking and Allrecipes.com

Ingredients
For the cake:
3 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk, room temperature

For the chocolate mousse frosting:
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup cold water
1 (3.9 oz) package of instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup heavy cream, whipped

For the icing (optional):
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2-1 tbsp milk
food coloring (optional)

Other things that you’ll need:
1 ziplock bag, quart size
2 9″ cake pans
parchment paper
oil (for the pans)
stand mixer/hand mixer/whisk

Preheat the oven the 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl mix together flour, baking powder, and salt.

Using the stand mixer/hand mixer/whisk beat the butter until soft and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat until well mixed. Add vanilla extract. On low speed, add 1/3 of the flour mix, then 1/2 of the milk, then another 1/3 of the flour mix, then the remaining 1/2 of the milk, then the final 1/3 of the flour mix.

Prepare your cake pans by oiling the bottom, lining the bottom with parchment paper, then oiling the parchment paper.

Evenly divide the batter between your two 9″ cake pans and bake for 27-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out dry.

While the cake layers are baking, melt the unsweetened chocolate and mix with the sweetened condensed milk. While mixing, gradually add the water, then the pudding mix. When it’s well mixed, chill for around 30 min.

When the cake layers are done baking, remove from the oven and cool both layers. It is really important that the cakes are completely cooled before you frost them. I put mine in the freezer for 15-30 minutes.

When both layers have cooled, remove them carefully from the pans. Make sure to peel off the parchment paper (I almost forgot!). Place the bottom layer with the rounded side down (or cut off the rounded part off) and spread about 1-1 1/2 cups of the mousse frosting on top. Place the top layer flat side down on top and finish frosting the cake. Chill until ready to serve.

If you want to write/draw on top of the cake, make icing by first beating the butter until smooth. Add vanilla extract, then gradually add in the powdered sugar. Add milk in small increments until the icing reaches the desired tendency. Add food coloring (optional). Spoon the icing into a quart-sized ziplock bag. Cut off one of the corners of the bag to make a hole about 1-2 millimeters in diameter. Decorate your cake!

Candy Sushi

I found this recipe a while back and while I was intrigued, I was skeptical of the flavor palate. It seemed like too many sweet things together… plus I couldn’t really imagine marshmallow and gummy worms tasting good together. I also never had an occasion to make it, so it just sat in my bookmarks for a long time.

I came across it again a few weeks ago when searching through my bookmarks for something to make for church. Ultimately I chose the cookie dough dip (see last post), but I found this one again and decided that I might want to try it. I ran the idea past a bunch of people and got mixed opinions. Some were also unsure of whether the flavors would work together, but some were so excited by the idea that I decided it was worth a try.

And what better time is there to try this than a get-together with the Tuesday night undergrad small group? It was the perfect opportunity: a) undergrads never turn down free food and b) children can handle the massive amounts of sugar (haha who am I kidding? Most of them are only 1-2 years younger than me). At any rate, it turned out to be pretty popular. Wasn’t my favorite in terms of flavor, but it wasn’t bad and others seemed to enjoy it- the entire plate was gone by the end of the night.

Side note: I’ve never rolled sushi before- so this was actually a learning experience for me. If you’ve rolled sushi before, yours will probably turn out a lot prettier than mine did.

Recipe from The family kitchen

Ingredients
1 box Fruit Roll Ups (I think there were 10 in the box and I used 8)
8 individual Rice Crispy Treats
24 assorted gummy worms

Unroll a fruit roll up on a cutting board (leave the plastic on). Put one rice crispy treat in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 20-30 seconds.

Spread the softened rice crispy treat over the fruit roll up, leaving a little room on one edge, but generally trying to spread it as close as you can to the other three edges.

Place three gummy worms across the middle of the rice crispy treat spread (parallel to the edge of the fruit roll up that you left uncovered).

Roll up the fruit roll up so that the rice crispy treat spread surrounds the gummy worms (peel off the plastic as you roll). Connect the uncovered edge of the fruit roll up to the opposite edge and roll to get the edges to stick together. Continue to roll on the cutting board to compact the rice crispy treat spread so that it won’t fall apart when you cut it.

Start by cutting it in the middle and working your way out. Between slices, roll one quarter of a rotation to keep one side from getting too flat.

Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving to keep them from getting too stuck to each other or to the plate.

Cookie Dough Dip

So I guess it’s been about 3 months since I last updated. Work has been really busy. I barely ever have time to cook anymore. How sad is that?

I don’t even know what to write. A ton has happened since December. So I’m just going to talk about the last week or so. I spent last weekend (March 2-4) in Williamstown visiting college friends. It was quiet and relaxing, but it was so nice to get away from Madison for a bit and catch up with old friends.

After that I went to Birmingham for a few days for a work trip. Did some floor support, at some bbq, did lots of work at the hotel… all in all a pretty uneventful trip.

In other news, I hate daylight savings. It was so nice last week when it was light out when I got up for work. Now it’s all dark again at 6:30 and it’s so much harder to wake up.

Anyway, on to the dips. The dips were for church on Sunday. They were all pretty good, but in all honesty I was a little disappointed. The cream cheese flavor was a little overpowering. But they were all still pretty tasty on animal crackers and vanilla wafers. Maybe a bit of a sugar overload though.

Recipe from How Sweet It Is

Ingredients (per batch– I made 3 batches total)
For the base:
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar

For chocolate chip cookie dough dip:
3/4 cups chocolate chips

For snickerdoodle dip:
2 tbsp cinnamon

For chocolate fudge dip:
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cups chocolate chips

In a saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the brown sugar until all the sugar dissolves and the mix starts to bubble. Take off the stove and add the vanilla extract.

With a spoon, mix the cream cheese and the powdered sugar together. Add the butter/brown sugar/vanilla extract and mix well.

For regular chocolate chip cookie dough dip:
Fold in chocolate chips.

For snickerdoodle dip:
Mix in cinnamon.

For chocolate fudge dip:
Mix in cocoa powder and chocolate chips. For more chocolate flavor, melt chocolate chips in the microwave and mix in until the desired chocolate-y-ness (yes, that’s a word) is reached.