Milk Chocolate Cloud Angel Food Cupcakes

Pillow-soft fluffs of Angel Food Cupcakes topped with cloud-like milk chocolate meringue buttercream.

Milk Chocolate Cloud Angel Food Cupcakes

It’s very rare that I ever have leftover egg whites.  With all of the Swiss meringue buttercream I make every week, it is usually leftover egg yolks that I’m scrambling to get rid of.  But every now and then, after I’ve made a big batch of pastry cream or have been craving ice cream, I find myself with an abundance of egg whites.  As I stood in front of the refrigerator, tummy growling, I just knew this batch of whites were destined for Angel Food Cake – or cupcakes, as was the case that fateful day (yesterday)…

Milk Chocolate Cloud Angel Food Cupcakes
Milk Chocolate Cloud Angel Food Cupcakes
Milk Chocolate Cloud Angel Food Cupcakes

The best way to describe these cupcakes are literal clouds – springy, fluffy, squishy, pillowy goodness.  Even the milk chocolate frosting is light and heavenly!  They are so satisfying to bite into – not just because of the delicious flavours, but for the inimitable texture.  Neither box mix nor commercially made Angel Food could ever yield that kind of fluffiness.  Clouds this adorable could only be completed with a sprinkling of pastel jimmies and sugar hearts.  So stinkin’ cute, right?!?!

Milk Chocolate Cloud Angel Food Cupcakes
Milk Chocolate Cloud Angel Food Cupcakes
Milk Chocolate Cloud Angel Food Cupcakes
Milk Chocolate Cloud Angel Food Cupcakes

To be honest, I’ve never actually made Angel Food Cake from scratch before.  Again, I typically have an excess of yolks stashed in my fridge, and I hate adding to it unless a craving really strikes.  Also, I don't have a tube pan.  Did you know you are supposed to not only leave the inside of a tube pan ungreased when making chiffon or Angel Food cakes, but you are also supposed to cool them upside-down?  Terrifying.  

Instead, I baked up these fluffy nuggets in extra-large cupcake liners.  Unlike most other cupcakes, you are going to want to fill the liners nearly to the top!  Trust me.  And if you don't and are scared they might explode onto your oven floor, you can sit next to your oven and keep a discerning eye on them (like I did).  Since there is so much whipped air in the batter, the cakes won't be fully set until they cool.  That being said, they will shrink down just a touch as they cool.

Milk Chocolate Cloud Angel Food Cupcakes

What I didn't know about Angel Food Cupcakes is that they are pretty much a French meringue but with less sugar and just a tiny bit of flour.  Who knew that small portion of cake flour would take whipped egg whites from crispy, chewy baked meringues to fluffy, pillowy little cakes?!?!  Since these cupcakes are like 87% meringue, let us review a few things to remember about working with whipped egg whites... 

1.  Make sure there are no traces of fat or grease.  We are all about reaching the maximum potential when it comes to whipped egg whites.  What that means is volume, volume, VOLUME!  Fat and grease can inhibit us from reaching that potential.  I'm talking fat from any drips of egg yolk or grease in the mixing bowl (and accompanying attachments).  Slight traces of fat/grease will probably not kill your meringue on the spot, but try to stay clear of fats as best as possible.

2.  Increase the speed gradually.  From foam to peak, increase the speed very gradually as you go.  For a better illustration of what this might look like at ever stage, check out this visual.

3.  Add the sugar gradually.  By slowly adding in the sugar a tablespoon at a time, it will dissolve easier and not collapse the delicate whites.  Increase the speed and overall amount of sugar in tandem.

4.  Fold! Fold!  After all that work of adding air and volume to our whites, it would be a shame to crush and collapse them by mixing improperly.  But don't stress!  Folding is not as scary as it might seem.  Use a large rubber spatula to scoop down to the bottom of the bowl, and turn the contents on the bottom up to the top.  Use one hand to fold and the other to spin the bowl 90 degrees between each turn.  Be delicate and deliberate at the same time.

5. Cream of tartar as a stabilizer.  You might notice ingredients such as cream of tartar, lemon juice, and vinegar in meringue recipes.  All of these ingredients act as stabilizers.  They won't necessarily increase the volume of your egg whites, but they will help keep them from collapsing too quickly.

6. Temperature of eggs.  Eggs are easiest to separate when they are cold.  However, room temperature egg whites have the ability to whip up with more volume.

Milk Chocolate Cloud Angel Food Cupcakes

 

Angel Food Cupcakes
makes about 10 to 12 extra large cupcakes

6 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream tartar
3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cake flour
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cupcake tin with extra large liners and set aside.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or use an electric hand mixer). Sprinkle in the cream of tartar.  Start by mixing on low speed until the egg whites begin to form bubbles.

As the egg whites begin to foam and become more opaque, gradually turn up the speed and start slowly adding in the sugar, a tablespoon or two at a time.  Continue adding in the sugar, followed by the salt.  Over the course of about a minute or so, all of the sugar/salt should have been added and the speed will have increased to medium-high.  

Continue whipping the egg whites until medium-stiff peaks.  They whites should still be pillowy but not dry or clumpy.  Unlike a true meringue (with twice the sugar), they will not be particularly glossy.

Add in the lemon and vanilla.  Whip again until just combined.

Stop the mixture.  Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold in the flour in two to three batches.  You can be a bit more deliberate and heavy-handed with the first batch of flour as you temper the two ingredients together, but then use a lighter touch as you go.  Be thorough, but do your best not to deflate the batter.

Use two spoons to plop the batter into the cupcakes liners.  Fill the liners nearly to the top.  With the back of a spoon or small offset spatula, smooth out the tops of each cupcake.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20 to 23 minutes.  When done, the tops should be browned and a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.  Remove from the oven and let cupcakes cool in their pans for about 5 minutes before moving them to a wire rack.

 

Milk Chocolate Cloud Frosting

3 large egg whites
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
4 tablespoons mascarpone, softened
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ounces dark chocolate, melted and cooled
1 to 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of an electric stand mixer.  Whisk by hand to combine.  Fill a medium saucepan with a couple inches of water and bring to a simmer.

Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double-boiler.  Whisking intermittently, warm the egg mixture until it reached 160 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Once hot, carefully replace the mixer bowl back on the stand.  Whisk on high speed until stiff peaks and the outside of the bowl returns to room temperature (about 8 minutes).

Turn the mixer down to low and add in the butter and mascarpone, a couple tablespoons at a time.  Stop the mixer and swap the whisk for the paddle attachment.

Add in the vanilla, melted chocolate, and cocoa.  Mix on medium-high until the buttercream is smooth, fluffy, and cloud-like.

If the buttercream looks like it has cuddled, the butter was probably too cold.  Just keep mixing.

If the buttercream looks soupy, you probably added the butter in too soon and before the meringue returned all the way back to room temperature.  Chill the mixture (inside the bowl) in the fridge for 15 minute and try whipping again until smooth.

Lemon Layer Cake with apricot and honey

Light, lemon-scented cake layers spread thin with sweet apricot jam and frosted in pastel swirls of floral, honey buttercream.

Lemon layer cake with apricot honey - Style Sweet CA

The start of our new kitchen remodel will commence in just three short weeks, and I’m kind of freaking out.  Who remodels their kitchen while they are in the middle of recipe testing for a new cookbook?  My kitchen is my office.  If my oven were to be out of commission at any point, I would definitely spiral into a deep, dark place.  But now?  Voluntarily?  In the middle of a busy summer?  Yup.  We are doing it…

And by we, I mean the contractor and my amazing mother.  The boys and I will actually be out of town the first week of the renovations, so at least I won’t have a heart attack watching the workers disconnect my oven and start tearing down cabinets.  And to be honest, it’s a very, very small remodel.  A face-lift, if you will.  Including a new oven that I am equally excited and dreading baking cake in.  It took me months to learns the little quirks of my current oven, so I am borderline terrified of having to adjust to a new appliance.

But you know what?  If not now, then when? 

Lemon layer cake with apricot honey - Style Sweet CA
Lemon layer cake with apricot honey - Style Sweet CA

We’ve been living in our home for exactly four years this month.  When we moved in, I had just entered my second trimester with baby Everett and had my first manuscript due in 5 months.  If I could adjust to a new house and kitchen with all of that chaos around me, then I should certainly be able to do it now.  Right?  But that’s not even really my point here.  At that time, I made a promise to myself that I would not freak out over the unfurnished dining room or bare walls.  After getting settled in, my priorities were the book and the babe.  Decorating would have to wait…

Four years, a book, and a toddler later, our master bedroom walls are still blank, my dining table is mostly used as a dumping ground for lose items, and Everett’s closet is the most disorganized storage unit that I’ve ever seen (I don’t know what we are going to do when he decides that he’d like to hang his clothes in there).  Now is the time to make this house a home.

If not now, then when?  I love our home.  I love the layout and the location.  It’s not very big nor very fancy, but I know we probably won’t ever be able to find anything else like it if we want to stay in downtown Vancouver.  And if/when we do decide to sell it, it needs some upgrades.  At this point, the only reason for moving would be to find a larger place to support a growing family (we aren’t there yet, but hopefully some day).  So then when?  When I am pregnant again and we need to move?  That hardly seems like a good time for a remodel.  At least if we do it now, then we can enjoy the new space ourselves instead of just making it pretty for someone else to fall in love with.

Lemon layer cake with apricot honey - Style Sweet CA
Lemon layer cake with apricot honey - Style Sweet CA
Lemon layer cake with apricot honey - Style Sweet CA
Lemon layer cake with apricot honey - Style Sweet CA

As I write this and contemplate the notion of “if not now, then when?,” it feels like a reoccurring theme.  Many aspects of my life can be traced back to this.  Like opening my custom cake boutique and filling an empty spot in the market for fancy wedding cakes before anyone else in town beat me to the punch.  Or making the huge decision to move to Canada before buying a home or starting a family.  And even our upcoming trip – if not now, when else might we be able to have a real family vacation just the three of us?

Of course, not everything needs to be as life changing as a new career or big move.  I also have a tendency to hold onto things, waiting for “the best time” to use them.  Like not wearing my favourite dress so I don’t ruin it.  Or letting the gift card for the Dry Bar become a permanent fixture in my wallet because I don’t want to waste it.  Or holding on to a recipe idea until the right season….

I made this cake months ago for The Cake Blog, but I’ve been waiting for the “the best time” to share it here.  What does that even mean?  I love how beautiful the watercolor frosting is and how airy and ethereal the photos turned out so much that I’ve been saving the images.  But why?  And for whom?  So can look at them by myself? 

Even before submitting the recipe to The Cake Blog, I had been sitting on this flavour combination for a while.  I love the way the sweet apricot is balanced by the floral honey and light lemon cake.  The swirly pastel buttercream mimics the fresh yet subtle flavors.  However, while we are in the middle of a season packed with berry cakes and stone fruit desserts, this cake doesn’t really scream “summer.”  Out of fear of having to compete against mystical ice cream creations and the most impressive latticed pies, I thought I’d hold onto this cake for bit. 

But if not now, then when?  In the fall when pumpkin reigns supreme?  Or in the winter when everyone is baking family heirloom recipes for the holidays or items for this year’s cookie platter?  Then next year?  Get outta here. 

Life is too short, Tesssa.  Make the cake.  Eat it.  Share it.  Enjoy =)

 

Find the full recipe over on The Cake Blog

Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake with Milk Chocolate Cloud Frosting

Three layers of chocolate fudge cake with fluffy mascarpone chocolate frosting, dark chocolate glaze, and crispy chocolate pearls for Style Sweet CA's 4th blog anniversary!

Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake with Milk Chocolate Cloud Frosting

STYLE SWEET CA turns 4!!

I can't recall the exact date of my very first blog post.  Sometime four years ago I went from bakery website to food blog.  I used to post pictures of the custom cakes I'd make for clients, but a big move from California to Vancouver changed everything.  My clients turned to readers, my recipes scaled down for the home baker, and I taught myself how to use my digital camera.

The first couple years I spent navigating the ins and outs of blogging, making some horrendous decisions with props and food styling, and a few how-to decorating posts that gained the blog some early attention.  However, as soon as I started to establish this space, I switched gears and wrote my first cookbook.  Since then, I've rediscovered my voice and have been really enjoying writing and photographing the delicious stories you see here.

Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake with Milk Chocolate Cloud Frosting

"A cake and pastry blog for the home baker."  What does that really mean?  To me, it means taking my knowledge, experience, and expertise and sharing it in an easy to understand, approachable way.  It is inspiring others and hopefully getting you guys jazzed about a particular pie recipe, frosting technique, or cake design.  It is beautiful imagery that excites you enough to want to recreate the dish yourself.  It is going back to some of the basics and understanding why we do certain things in the kitchen to yield tasty results and learning a trick or two that turns a daunting pastry project into something you can actually see yourself making at home.  

Have I stuck to this mission throughout every post over the last four years?  Probably not.  But I try!  But before we see where year 5 will take us, let's dive into this Tripe Chocolate Cake - I know you're dying to grab a fork.

Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake with Milk Chocolate Cloud Frosting

For the last two blog-versaries, I celebrated with beautiful, over-the-top watercolour cake tutorials.  This year, I decided to do something different.  I think this chocolate cake is still pretty dramatic, but in an entirely different way.  Instead of focussing on a buttercream technique or frilly decoration, this cake is all about the flavor.  Sometimes I get wrapped up with trying to come up with the next best cake design or most unique flavor combinations.  The blog anniversary nearly came and went this year while I still trying to decide what Pinterest-worthy and most Instagramable recipe to make...

In the end, I picked a cake that I wanted to eat.  Chocolate.  And lots of it.  I went with a solid, trustworthy chocolate cake and a mountain of mousse-like milk chocolate frosting that tempts you to lick your screen.  Is it working?  Do you want to faceplate right into those cocoa clouds yet?

Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake with Milk Chocolate Cloud Frosting
Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake with Milk Chocolate Cloud Frosting
Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake with Milk Chocolate Cloud Frosting

But really, what I mean is, I went with a chocolate cake recipe that is perfectly moist without being greasy, tender, and deeply chocolatey.  I tried a few variations, but most of the others ended up in the compost bin.  The thing is, I was trying too hard!  I'd strayed too far from my base recipe instead of making small tweaks here and there to improve a recipe that already works.  No need to reinvent the wheel every time!  

This Chocolate Fudge Cake recipe is based on the Sour Cream Chocolate Cake from my cookbook, Layered.  I've made some slight changes (see Notes) and added a bit more chocolate.  The method has also been slightly altered as well.  This new way just makes more sense.

Most chocolate cakes are heavy and dressed in deep fudge frosting or thick ganache.  I wanted to off-set the rich cake with fluffy frosting - especially since it's summer and this cake will be competing for your attention from all the strawberry and stone fruit pastries out there right now.  For the frosting, I lightened up my favorite Swiss meringue buttercream with creamy mascarpone and melted milk chocolate.  It is so heavenly and cloud-like! I beg you though, please eat this cake at room temperature!  Oh, and I tossed in a couple handfuls of some chocolate crunchy pearls for texture (totally optional).

For the third element in our Triple Chocolate Cake - dark chocolate glaze.  If you are so tired of drippy cakes by now, please forgive me!  I still think there is a time and place for chocolate glaze, and I hope you will agree that it totally works with this cake.  As always, the perfect drips are a matter of temperature.  It helps to chill the cake so that the cold buttercream helps control the speed of the drip.  If you still aren't sure, then simply try a test-drip on the back of the cake.  If it runs off the cake and on to the cake board, the glaze is probably too warm (chill at room temperature).  If it is blobby and doesn't quite drip, simply re-heat it!

Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake with Milk Chocolate Cloud Frosting

Chocolate Fudge Cake
2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder*
1 cup boiling water
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon grapeseed or canola oil
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup high fat plain Greek yogurt*
1/4 cup buttermilk

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour three 6-inch cake pans and set aside.

Place the chopped chocolate, cocoa powder, and espresso powder in a heat-safe bowl.  Carefully pour over the boiling water.  Stir together until smooth and set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

Using an electric mixer (hand or stand), mix together the oil and sugars.  Add in the vanilla and eggs, one at a time.  Scrape down the bowl.

Add in half of the flour mixture and mix on low until combined.  Add the yogurt and buttermilk and mix until smooth.  Add in the remaining flour and mix until combined.  With the mixer on low, carefully stream in the melted chocolate mixture until combined.

Evenly divide the batter between the prepared pans.  Bake for 26 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack for 10 to 20 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.

Milk Chocolate Cloud Frosting
4 ounces egg whites
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
4 tablespoons mascarpone, softened
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ounces dark chocolate, melted and cooled
1 to 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of an electric stand mixer.  Whisk by hand to combine.  Fill a medium saucepan with a couple inches of water and bring to a simmer.

Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double-boiler.  Whisking intermittently, warm the egg mixture until it reached 160 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Once hot, carefully replace the mixer bowl back on the stand.  Whisk on high speed until stiff peaks and the outside of the bowl returns to room temperature (about 8 minutes).

Turn the mixer down to low and add in the butter and mascarpone, a couple tablespoons at a time.  Stop the mixer and swap the whisk for the paddle attachment.

Add in the vanilla, melted chocolate, and cocoa.  Mix on medium-high until the buttercream is smooth, fluffy, and cloud-like**

Chocolate Glaze
1 1/2 ounces dark chocolate chopped
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
pinch salt
scant teaspoon bourbon, optional

This recipes makes a very small amount of chocolate glaze and cooks up rather quickly (i.e. - don't walk away from the stove).

Combine the chocolate, cream, and corn syrup in a small saucepan.  Place over medium heat until the chocolate begins to melt.  Remove from the heat and stir until completely melted and combined.  Stir in the salt and bourbon (if using).  Cool at room temperature before dripping on the cake.

Assembly
Chocolate sprinkles
Chocolate crunchy pearls (optional)

Trim the cooled cakes with a long serrated knife.  Place the bottom layer on a cake board or serving dish.  Spread on about 3/4 cup of the milk chocolate frosting with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon.  Sprinkle on a handful or two of crunch pearls (if using) and gently press them into the frosting.  Top with the next layer of cake and repeat.

Crumb coat the cake with the frosting and chill in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes before adding the glaze.  Once both cake and glaze are at the appropriate temperatures, drip the chocolate over the edge with a spoon.  Pipe on remaining frosting with a large star tip and decorate with chocolate sprinkles.

***Notes
– Replace the instant espresso and boiling water with strong, hot coffee.  You will not be able to taste the coffee flavour in either scenario, but the coffee does enhance the chocolate.  If you'd prefer to leave the espresso/coffee out all together, that is fine too.
– Instead of Greek yogurt and buttermilk, replace with 3/4 cup sour cream.  Alternatively, replace Greek yogurt and buttermilk with plain whole milk mixed with a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice.  Stir the lemon juice into the milk before you prep any of the other ingredients.  By the time you add it to the batter, the milk will appear curdled.  That's OKAY.
– If the buttercream looks like it has cuddled, the butter was probably too cold.  Just keep mixing.
– If the buttercream looks soupy, you probably added the butter in too soon and before the meringue returned all the way back to room temperature.  Chill the mixture (inside the bowl) in the fridge for 15 minute and try whipping again until smooth.
–  The buttercream recipe will make enough to fill and fully frost a three-layer 6-inch cake.  If you only give it a semi-naked crumb coat (as I've done here), then you will have leftovers.

Icing on the Cake Cookbook!

If the title of this post didn't give it away already, then I'm going to just dive right in and get to it... I am thrilled to officially announce that I am writing my second cookbook!

Icing On The Cake Cookbook Announcement

It was nearly three years ago exactly since my career took a major turn.  In the spring of 2014, my literary agent submitted my first book proposal into the publishing world.  She warned me that summer can sometimes be slow in this industry, but that didn't stop me from refreshing my email 1094785 times a day.  Each morning, I would frantically check my messages.  Would today be the day she emailed with the good news? (you can read more about this process in 'how to write a cookbook' - a post I wrote a couple years ago).

Of all days, it was actually over the 4th of July holiday weekend that I received the email that would change my career.  I recall letting myself relax a bit just before thinking that nobody would be working that weekend. To my surprise, my proposal for an exclusive layer cake book was accepted and there was an editor from an amazing publishing house interested in printing my book.  My book??  Are you serious?  Two years later, Layered hit shelves everywhere.

Ever since I hit 'send' on my first manuscript, I've been wanting to write another. The experience was everything I dreamed it could be.  I spent my days writing about all-things cake, testing recipes, and photographing stunning layered desserts.  Who wouldn't want to do that every day?  Being able to publish a book is an absolute honor, and to be granted with the opportunity to do it again is more amazing than I could ever describe.

Icing On The Cake Cookbook Announcement

Okay, on to the new book. Big surprise here... It's all about desserts!!  Pretty, decorative ones, to be exact.  Or as my agent put it in our press release, Icing on the Cake: Decorating Simple, Stunning Desserts at Home is "a guide to creative, show-stopping treats for all occasions, taking home bakers from cake pan to presentation to dessert plate."

Similar to Layered, the new book is full of stylish cakes, both unique and classic flavour combinations, and tons of instructional information for recreating and decorating your own desserts.  This time though, Icing on the Cake goes beyond just layer cakes (there are still a TON of those, too, though).  From macarons to pies to other pastries, the new book will be packed all sorts of sugary delights!!  

My favorite part?  Each dessert will also include a decorative element, artistic pastry technique, a how-to tutorial, or a presentation idea.  So fun, right?!?!  Think stylish buttercream cakes, classic chocolate and sugar work, braided lattice pies, and so much more.  Included will be dozens of step-by-step photos, every baking tip and trick I know, and even extra information for things like recipe conversions, baking timelines and prep ideas, transportation, and presentation.

Icing On The Cake Cookbook Announcement

I've been busy this summer photographing many of the designs and testing recipe after recipe.  Once again, my kitchen is covered in sprinkles, slices of cake to be taste-tested, and a thin layer of buttercream on nearly every surface.  And while Icing on the Cake isn't expected to hit shelves until 2019, you can follow along some of the behind the scenes on Instagram #icingonthecakebook

Icing On The Cake Cookbook Announcement

Of course I can't reveal too much right now, but I hope you all are just as excited about this as I am!  It's going to be fantastic - I just know it, hehe.  I am once again working with my lovely editor and the amazing team at Abrams Books, so you know it will be gorgeous =) 

Lastly, I literally could not have done this without YOU!  Thank you for your overwhelming amount of support and love for Layered.  We are already onto our 4th printing and are now in 3 languages!!  Keep sharing the cake love, and I'll be sure to update you all with new book details as they roll in.

 

Love you all!!  xo Tessa