Tag Archives: cake

Easy Valentine’s Dessert: 6-Ingredient Molten Chocolate Cakes.

For those of you looking for a last-minute dessert idea for your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day, here is a molten chocolate cake that tastes every bit as fancy as the restaurant ones, but is easy enough to leave plenty of time for romance!

These beauties became a family tradition for us the first Valentine’s Day after The Munchkin was born, when we weren’t able to go out. This year we actually got a babysitter & get to go out for the first Valentine’s Day since then, so I decided to make them tonight for Sunday Dinner so I could share the recipe with you. I’m sure that My Husband The Eater minded terribly.

I think I first got this from Kraft food&family magazine. This recipe yields 4 small cakes; you can easily halve it for just the two of you, or make the full recipe & save the other 2 to eat later (though they will be less molten). I won’t judge you one bit…. since that’s what we do every year.

  • 4 (1 oz.) squares Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate (or for more richness, use 4 oz. of your favorite bittersweet chocolate)
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 6 Tbsp. flour
  • whipped cream or ice cream, for serving
  1. Preheat your oven to 425. Butter or grease 4, 3/4-cup custard cups or souflee dishes. Place them on a baking sheet.
  2. Microwave chocolate & butter in a large microwaveable bowl on high 1 minute or until butter is melted. Stir with a wire whisk until the chocolate is melted too.
  3. Stir in sugar with the whisk until well blended.
  4. Whisk in the eggs & egg yolks. Stir in flour.
  5. Divide the batter equally among prepared cups. Bake 13-14 minutes or until the sides are firm but the centers are still soft.
  6. Let stand 1 minute, then gently run a small knife around the cakes to loosen them. Carefully invert them onto dessert dishes & serve immediately with ice cream or whipped cream.


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Strawberry ice cream. 3 ways.

Before we had to put the ice cream maker away for the move, I wanted to make ice cream one last time. Strawberry ice cream, to be exact. The day after I made this decision, Bridget over at Bake at 350 posted a strawberry ice cream recipe! It was meant to be!

I like to eat ice cream in three ways: 1) with a spoon, 2) with a fork, & 3) with my fingers.

But first, we have to start with the ice cream. Which, in this case, apparently comes from the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream & Dessert Book. After tasting this, I think I may need to go out & buy it.

  • 2 cups hulled & sliced strawberries
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 eggs, pasteurized**
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup whole milk

** If you can’t or don’t want to buy pasteurized eggs — or don’t realize until you’re already halfway into the recipe that it calls for eggs that don’t get cooked, ahem — pasteurize them at home! The eHow.com link I used is now broken, but the gist is to bring the eggs you’ll be using to room temp, then heat a pot of water (enough to cover the eggs) to between 145 & 160 degrees F (use a candy thermometer; I don’t have one, so I used my meat thermometer, which was much less precise & my whites got just the tiniest bit cooked, but still whisked up just fine). Add the eggs to the water, remove from the heat, & let sit for exactly 3 minutes. Then remove the eggs, rinse with cool water, & use them!

  1. In a small bowl, combine the strawberries, 1/3 cup sugar, & lemon juice. Stir just enough to coat, then cover & refrigerate at least an hour.
  2. Mash the strawberries with a potato masher, pastry blender, or even 2 forks; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs for 1 to 2 minutes, or until frothy & light. Bemoan the fact that your arm is screaming in protest. Vow to start lifting weights again.
  4. Gradually add the 3/4 cup sugar while still whisking (& arm still protesting); whisk (with your left hand now) for one more minute after it’s all been added.
  5. Stir in the cream & milk. Add the strawberries & stir well.
  6. Add the mixture to the chilled canister of your ice cream maker & follow the manufacturer directions to process it.
  7. Remove from the canister to a freezer-safe container & freeze for a few hours to allow it to harden. But not too much. Unless that’s how you like it. In our family… well, to give you an idea, The Munchkin calls it “ice kweam soup.”

Now. How to serve it?

With a spoon: Scoop some into a dessert dish. Add some blueberries for some fruity, patriotic flair.

With a fork: Serve a scoop alongside a slice of my most favorite lemon-blueberry pound cake. So many delicious summer fruits together on one plate? You can’t say no to that.

With your fingers: Press a small, hard scoop between two soft chocolate-chip cookies. When I was in high school, I used to frequent a shop near UCLA called Diddy Riese, where they made amazing ice cream sandwiches using soft, fresh-baked cookies & enormous scoops of Dreyer’s (Edy’s, for you Easterners) ice cream, for only $1! The price has since gone up to $1.50, but the lines are still around the block, the sandwiches are still scrumptious, & this ice-cream/cookie combo still brings back tasty memories.

What’s your favorite way to eat ice cream? Are you an “ice kweam soup” person too?

Tidy Mom

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Toodles cake tutorial.

As promised, here is the tutorial for the Toodles cake I made for The Munchkin’s “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” party last weekend. Check out the rest of the party here.

Disclaimer: I am NOT a professional cake decorator — as I’ve mentioned before, I haven’t even taken a Wilton class — so I’m not pretending to be an expert, but I can give you a few of the tips & tricks I use. If you ARE a professional cake decorator, just skip straight to the part about flattening the Starbursts for the dots.

First, I baked a cake. (Duh.) I really like the Easy Yellow Cake recipe in the KitchenAid manual/cookbook. It’s easy, not too sweet, & holds up well while still staying moist. I’ve included the recipe at the end. A few days in advance of the party, I baked two 9-inch round pans & then carved them to my desired shape by finding some things in my kitchen that were the right size & shape & then using a sharp serrated knife to cut around them. In this case, I used a cereal bowl & the bottom of my meringue powder container. Then I double-wrapped each piece in two layers of Saran Wrap & put them in the freezer until I needed them. Freezing the cakes is important for 3 reasons: 1) It keeps the cake from going stale, 2) It allows you to break up the process so you don’t have to do it all at once, & 3) It reduces crumbs on the cut edges while frosting.

Then I made frosting. Lots of frosting. In this case, I used the extra left over from these Cars cakelets. In case you’re as dissatisfied as I am with my “add some powdered sugar &/or cream until it looks right but will probably end up being too thick anyway” method for frosting, try this: 2 sticks of butter, 6 cups powdered sugar, 2 tsp. CLEAR vanilla (best for dyeing), & milk or cream to desired thickness. Remember thinner is better for spreading. If you’re paranoid like me about running out, you may want to add half again as much of everything. I filled the cake with the delicious chocolate frosting I used for Mater, because I believe yellow cake just goes with chocolate frosting, but you can do what you want. If you’re not crazy like me & making a zillion cakes in 1 week, it’s probably not worth it to make up a whole other batch of frosting just to fill your cake.

Don’t forget to add a couple tablespoons of meringue powder to your frosting to help it set up & stay upt while & after your frost. Then use gel food coloring to dye it to your desired colors. (Tip: “Golden Yellow” is a lot more orange than it looks on the bottle. I think just plain old “Yellow” would’ve looked better.)

Now for the fun part!

First, take a cake board or some cardboard & wrap it in some pretty paper. This sounds silly, but it really does make a HUGE difference in the presentation. Pull your cake pieces out of the freezer & unwrap them, then slap a dab or two of frosting under the cake (all 3 pieces parts if they’re disconnected like they are here) to keep it from sliding off your pretty board. Fill your cake, if needed.

Put several pieces of wax paper around the edges of your cake to protect your cake board. When we’re done frosting, we’ll slide these out & cover any gaps with a pretty frosting border.

Now we crumb coat. Take some frosting (plain un-dyed white is fine, but we used the already-dyed stuff) & thin it with a tiny bit of milk. Use an offset spatula like this one to make a thin layer to trap the crumbs. Have a paper towel handy to wipe any crummy frosting off of your spatula so you don’t contaminate your frosting. It doesn’t have to look pretty. Then stick your cake back in the freezer for a few minutes. (P.S. Shout-out to My Husband The Closet Ace of Cakes, who almost always does all of my frosting spreading so I just have to do the pretty stuff.)

Then pull the cake back out of the freezer. Grab your frosting, offset spatula, a dish towel, & a bowl or pie plate full of hot water. Sound weird? Just trust me. Spread your frosting, then smooth it by submerging your spatula in the hot water & then drying it completely with the dish towel. The warm spatula kind of re-melts the frosting to smooth out any bumps for you.

Now for the Starbursts. When I was trying to think of what to make the dots out of, my first thought was fondant. But you already know about My Husband The Opinionated’s feelings on the subject; plus, I didn’t want to either buy 3 colors of fondant or go to all the effort of learning how to dye it myself. Then I remembered a cake that my friend Laura had made for my baby shower 2 years ago: she made flowers out of flattened Starbursts! Perfect! So I called her up & she shared with me how to do it.

Unwrap a few Starbursts & stick them between the layers of a folded sheet of wax paper. Microwave it all for about 7 seconds, just enough to soften them. Use a rolling pin to flatten them to your desired width & thickness, stopping often to pull them off of the wax paper so they don’t stick. For a larger shape, you can even melt two candies together, side by side. That’s what I did for the largest red circle.

Now here’s the funny part. To cut them to the desired shape, use… scissors! You can use a stencil if you want to get them perfectly round, but I found it easiest to just eyeball it. I wound up making way more than I needed, so we just ate the extras.

Position them where you want them on your cake, & trim edges to fit if they’re on the edge. You should be able to just press them into your frosting, but if they’re overlapping one another, just pipe a tiny bit of frosting on the bottom of your top one to secure it.

Now put your frosting into piping bags (I use disposable ones because I don’t decorate often enough for the nice ones to be a savings, & I just prefer the ease of tossing them) with a coupler in the bottom of each to make it easier to switch tips. The tips I used were a 5 writing, 18 star, & 16 star.

I Nnever trust my freehand artistry skills, so I always try to find things to trace. Sometimes it’s a little odd, but it works. For the “poles” on Toodles’ face, I used part of a Zicam bottle cap. For the circles inside his ears, I used my half-tablespoon. I make small depressions in the hardening frosting to trace.

Then I actually did freehand the gear detail on his ears, consulting a picture I printed off the Internet every single step of the way. I filled in all the red details with my writing tip, & chose to smooth the “poles” the same way we did the frosting base, just with a smaller spatula. But I think they ended up looking too much like the Starbursts, so if I did it over, I’d leave it textured like I did the gear details.

Finally, I used the smaller star tip to do a shell border around the top in red (I think yellow would have been more accurate to the show, but I was worried about running out) & then carefully slid the wax paper out (I used my small spatula to keep the frosting in place) & used the larger star tip to do a shell border around the bottom in blue. This cleaned up all the edges & just gave it a more polished look. I also wrote The Munchkin’s name on the front side of the cake using my writing tip, but I’m not going to show that to you because I’m not ready to reveal her identity.

So there you go! I hope that this tutorial is helpful; if you wind up using it for your Munchkins, I would seriously love to see pictures! Comment with links, or email me (on the “About” page)!

Last, but not least, here’s the cake recipe. Happy thoughts go to my good friend Mandy, who saved me by emailing it to me when I couldn’t (still can’t — hopefully it’ll show up after we move?) find my manual.

KitchenAid Easy Yellow Cake

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup lowfat milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease & flour (I prefer Baker’s Joy or PAM for Baking — 1 step!) two 8- or 9-inch cake pans
  2. Add dry ingredients to mixer bowl. Add shortening, milk, & vanilla; use flat beater to mix about 1 minute at speed 2. Scrape bowl.
  3. Add eggs; mix about 30 seconds on speed 2. Scrape bowl.
  4. Beat at speed 6 for 1 minute.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pans & bake 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  6. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then drop pans gently on the counter to free the cake from the sides of the pans & invert onto a wire rack to remove. Cool completely.
  7. Carve, freeze, & frost as above.
Tidy Mom

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“Cars 2″ cakelets for the birthday Munchkin!

In case you’ve been living under a rock (or just don’t have a child under the age of 10 in the house) Cars 2 comes out tomorrow! We’re not excited about this or anything…

I’m pretty obsessed with Nordicware molded cake pans (I’m sure you’ll see more of my collection over the coming months). Knowing this, & knowing that they came out with a limited-edition Cars 2 cakelet pan, & knowing that The Munchkin loves Cars & had a birthday was coming up, my dad sent her an early birthday present. So guess what we did today for The Munchkin’s 2nd birthday?

I baked the cakelets last night using the recipe on the insert that came with the pan. I love these inserts because they calculate the exact right amount of batter for each molded pan! So perfect. However, I realized quickly that leveling in the pan was out of the question; pieces were breaking off faster than I could saw. So I just popped them out of the pan as-is & trimmed them with a paring knife this morning.

Then I made the frosting.

7 sticks of butter, 4 pounds of powdered sugar, & a diabetic coma later, I had a ridiculous amount of frosting. I’m always so paranoid I’ll run out, that I make way too much. Though this time I made extra on purpose for The Munchkin’s Toodles cake for Saturday’s birthday party (I told you it was Sweets Week at our house!). For the vanilla, I used my “add some powdered sugar &/or cream until it looks right but will probably end up being too thick anyway” method — don’t recommend it. For the chocolate, however, I used this recipe from A Southern Fairytale. Super delicious, & the perfect consistency for spreading! I also added a couple tablespoons of meringue powder to each to help them set up more quickly, but should’ve added more to the chocolate.

Then we decorated. & decorated. & decorated.

The sheer tininess of scale was almost too much My Husband The Closet Ace of Cakes & me! We’d never frosted anything that small before. (Why not fondant, like they show in the product photos, you ask? Because My Husband The Persnickety views the sheer existence of fondant as an affront to his palate. Plus, I’m completely self-taught as a cake decorator & have never learned to use it.)

But The Munchkin didn’t mind one bit!

As long as Guido tastes good, that’s all that matters, right?

Finally we got into a groove & finished 5 of the 8 (The Munchkin was happy to take care of the rest). Do you recognize the characters from the new movie?

We used mini-Oreos for the tires (though you could use more of the black-dyed chocolate icing if you want), & mini-M&Ms for the eyes. I had bought a bag of regular M&Ms so we’d have the full complement of eye colors, but they were far too big for the size of the cakes. As My Husband The Comedian put it, “They could be Anime cakes…” So we dug out a still-sealed tube of mini-M&Ms left over from Christmas — yes, Christmas, but they were still good — so our eye-color choice diminished significantly.

I made the cake board the night before with a Wilton cake board (totally worth the investment — I’m still on the same package I bought 3 years ago!), construction paper, & a logo I printed out off the Internet. Free & easy!

The Munchkin requested that “Wight-Queen” be her birthday cake. He was just the right size for 2 candles!

She was so happy about her cakes. All day today, she kept telling everyone we met, not that it was her birthday, but that she made “Cars cakes.” So all the work & powdered-sugar-inhalation were worth it!

See you later! Ka-chow!

(P.S. If you’re heading to the theatre this weekend to see the movie, come back & leave a comment letting me know how it was – & whether it’d be too scary for a 2-year-old. Thanks!)

Tidy Mom

Join  us Saturdays at tatertotsandjello.com for the weekend wrap   up           party!

“Share Awesomeness” Thursdays at The 36th Avenue

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Rainbow cupcakes for a colorful birthday party.

Sometimes you get so excited about something that you make an entire party out of it. For The Munchkin’s first birthday party, it was this rainbow cake tutorial I saw on Hostess with the Mostess before she was even born. I’d forgotten about it, & then I was nursing in the middle of the night when The Munchkin was like 6 or 7 months old when it hit me.

I built her entire color wheel birthday party around these cupcakes. How can you not when you see these colors?

After my unfortunate luck with Elmo, I made sure to use a higher-quality white cake mix & made the whole-egg recipe for the batter. That way the batter would still be white enough to dye, but the cupcakes wouldn’t be so crumbly & insubstantial. I made two boxes for 48 cupcakes, & measured the batter into 6 equal parts. Then I lined the muffin tins with cute colorful polka-dot cupcake papers we got at Hobby Lobby (we also got coordinating plates, napkins, & cupcake toppers there) & proceeded to spoon each color into each paper, starting with the purple, a teaspoon at a time. 6 colors times 48 cupcakes equaled THREE HOURS of work. But they sure looked cool when they came out!

We just spread white buttercream on the top & sprinkled them with rainbow jimmies. Now that I have my Wilton D3 tip, I’ll be able to make my cupcakes prettier in the future! But this worked just fine, & didn’t detract from the toppers.

…or the surprise inside!

Tomorrow I’ll post the full details of the color wheel party, but until then, here’s how we displayed them:

Get excited! See you tomorrow!

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Elmo’s reconstructive surgery. (Or, how to turn a bear cake into an Elmo cake.)

The Munchkin is 21 months today. I can’t even believe it! Time’s going fast, so I’ve started thinking about what to do for her birthday party (in 3 months… yes, I am that mom… I may or may not have had her whole 1st birthday planned out a full 5 months in advance…). The only problem is, while I have a couple themes in mind, it’s hard to plan specifics without knowing where we’ll be living or if we’ll even know anyone to invite! So I started looking back at last year, & thought I’d post what I did for her first birthday party. (This is the perfect opportunity to play with this nifty “1960s” effect from Picnik… You know, since it’s in the past… ? … Just go with me here.)

For her actual birthday, I wanted to make my then-Elmo-obsessed Munchkin an Elmo cake. But we were staying with my inlaws at the time while My Husband The Studious studied for the Bar, & they just had a bear cake pan. I accepted the challenge.

My big mistake was using a white cake mix (I wanted to save my energy for the actual decorating part). It was too light to hold its shape. My other molded cake pan efforts have been with scratch yellow, spice, or even pumpkin cake recipes, & they’ve held together much better. The cake also stuck to the board I was cooling it on; scraping Elmo-to-be off of the board entailed major surgery (read: lots of frosting). So do yourself a favor: please make a scratch recipe, or at least use the whole-egg white cake variation on the white cake mix box or a yellow cake mix.

Once I got my patient safely out of Code Blue, I proceeded to saw the ears off the sides of his head & attach them to the top. This would become the eyes. Then I crumb-coated like crazy while I mixed the colors for the icing. When you need colors this vivid, gel food coloring is a MUST. Liquid won’t cut it. I wound up going through like 3 tubes of the kind you buy in the grocery store to get the red; it made the frosting a little on the crunchy side, so next time I need something this red I’m going with Wilton’s no-taste red because it’s more concentrated. But with red I’ve found you always need twice as much as you think you do anyway. I used black gel because it was easier than mixing up black icing (see previous sentence).

I should have done the borders before filling with the star tip, but I was in a rush to see how it looked, so I didn’t plan out as well as I should have.

Regardless of my errors & lack of foresight, & the fact that it used to be a bear, The Munchkin was ecstatic when she saw it the next morning, & she enjoyed mashing him up & eating him that night. Let’s just say all that red food coloring made her next few diapers look really interesting…

Tomorrow & Friday I’ll be posting about her colorful birthday party the following weekend! Come back & check it out!

works for me wednesday at we are that family

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