A cinnamon spiced chocolate cake blanketed in knit chocolate buttercream with a bit of toffee crunch filling to get you through the rest of winter. Each slice is as warm and cozy as a sip of hot cocoa under your thickest duvet.Read More
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!
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.
"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.
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?
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!
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**
1 1/2 ounces dark chocolate chopped
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
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.
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.
– 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.
White chocolate-studded vanilla cupcakes with Swiss meringue buttercream piped roses from Linda Lomelino's new book, My Sweet Kitchen!
I started following Linda’s work well before the thought of creating my own website even entered my head. Her innovative recipes and decadent flavour combinations from her blog, Call me Cupcake, are down right drool-worthy (to say the least), but it was her photography and styling that really turned me from casual follower to super-fan. In her latest book, My Sweet Kitchen, Linda has done it again! With page after page of gorgeous cakes, pastries, and pies, I’ve been wow-ed and inspired to step into my own (sweet) kitchen and get baking.
It was baking blog “pioneers” like Linda, Naomi, Aran, and Helene that pushed the limits when it came to photography and really set the bar for newer bloggers, like me. When I started this space, I’d already been baking professionally for years, but I had no idea how to translate my tasty recipes in the real world to an online community on a computer screen. It was these women who deeply inspired me with their stunning photography and helped me understand that, in the blogging world at least, you must first feast with your eyes. Secondly, they showed me that food wasn’t merely for consumption, but that it should tell a story (hello, gorgeous food styling!). Just take a look at their work, and you’ll see what I mean!
When I first transitioned from a baker to blogger, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out my camera, shape light, and style my treats in the most appetizing manner. It took a lot of practice (please promise you won’t look too far into the blog achieves, lol). It took a year of serious trial and error to develop my own style, and then another to really hone in on it. My photography is still evolving, and I hope it never stops, but it certainly is a process.
Lucky for us, and anyone else still trying to find their own food photography style, Linda has not only packed the pages of My Sweet Kitchen with the most delicious recipes, but she has also included a section on photography and food styling. How awesome is that?!?! Linda helps transform ordinary desserts into beautiful, show-stopping treats, AND THEN shows you how to photograph them! Because really, if it didn’t happen on Instagram, did it really happen at all?
If you are already a fan of Linda’s work online (or are just hearing about her now), I promise you will be BLOWN AWAY at how amazing her desserts look in print. Thanks to the gracious folks at Roost Books, I am giving away one copy of her new book! If you want tips and expert advice on how to bake, decorate, and photograph your own creations, be sure to jump down to the bottom of this post to enter! And if you don’t win, be sure to run out and purchase a copy anyway. It really is a great book to add to any cookbook collection, and Linda is just about the sweetest ever.
White Chocolate Cupcakes
adapted from My Sweet Kitchen
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 ounces white chocolate
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and mix until slightly combined and the chunks of butter have worked into the dry mixture - no larger than the size of an almond.
In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, and vanilla. With the mixer on low, stream in the egg mixture. Mix until just barely combined.
Stop the mixer and fold the batter until the last of the dry streaks disappear. Fold in the white chocolate. Even distribute the batter between the cupcake liners. Bake for 20 to 23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out with moist crumbs. Let cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
To ice the cupcakes, I used my go-t0 Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Linda uses a similar icing and tints it with pureed and strained raspberry juice. You may opt to use gel food coloring as I've done so here, or try her delicious berry version! Add in a tablespoon of raspberry puree at a time until desired consistency and flavor is achieved.
For the Decoration
Fit a piping bag with a small petal tip (I used Wilton 104), and fill halfway with buttercream. For the center of the rose, pipe a tight spiral keeping the tip perpendicular to the top of your cupcake with the narrow end pointed up. Always with the narrow end away from the surface of the cupcake, pipe THREE overlapping petals around the center. Next, continue around with a new layer and pipe FIVE overlapping petals around the center. For the last row of petals, pipe SEVEN to EIGHT petals.
I could go on about how to pipe a buttercream rose in more detail, but let's just do ourselves all a favor and go search YouTube instead, hehe. Seriously, I could try to describe how to do it, but there are already so many great resources and videos online that really show you how to do this.
But, if you'd rather see me in action... be sure to follow me on Instagram! I'll be uploading a how-to video later this week =)
Last, but not least, be sure to enter to win a copy of My Sweet Kitchen!
With a texture that is similar to a brownie, this decadent chocolate cake is layered with rosemary buttercream and smothered in dramatic cinnamon-spiced caramel sauce. Rustic elegance at its finest!
One day, I dream of hosting a romantic dinner party for the holidays. A night set under twinkly lights, full of appetizers and good conversation, a homemade feast to feed a crowd, and after-dinner games and laughs. At the end of the night, I would present this rustic yet elegant semi-naked cake composed of decadent, sophisticated flavors and dramatic floral elements.
Rewind to Sunday brunch where we hosted a toddler cookie decorating party, and it appears that we might be a few years away from such a lavish event. We finally have a proper dining table for hosting and even new friends to fill the seats (after moving to a city nearly FOUR years ago!), but said dining table and the glittery centerpiece I created sat untouched. Instead, the parents took comfort around the living room sitting on large pillows, windowsills, and anywhere else they could fit to watch four toddling boys under the age of 2 toss balloons, decorate gingerbread cookies, and run wild for a couple of hours.
And even while another mommy and I poked and prodded my breakfast strata trying to figure out if it was done cooking and a couple of the dads helped with a mid-party cookie clean-up, this current reality is pure perfection. So while I have visions of hosting fancy affairs one day, I’ll gladly take sprinkles ground into the fibres of my carpet and sugar-fuelled toddlers for a few more years first.
In the meantime, I will settle for a slice of this decadent, nearly sinful cake. The chocolate cake boarders on brownie territory. It is rich and fudgy in all of the right ways. It could probably be served on its own or with a scoop of coffee ice cream, but I’ve layered in with a subtle rosemary buttercream. The rosemary is familiar but unexpected. It gets infused into the butter before being whipped up into a silky Swiss meringue buttercream. Only a semi-naked finish is necessary since the cake is rather rich (you will want to slice this one pretty thin!). To finish it all off and to round out the flavors, I spiked my regular salted caramel sauce with ground cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
Find the complete recipe on the West Elm Blog.
When my highly anticipated copy of Molly on the Range finally arrived in the mail a few days ago, I immediately 1) tore open the cardboard packaging, 2) dove right into Molly's stories about transitioning from a post-Julliard NYC scene to living on a farm and 3) started softening my butter to make her Funfetti Cake. The cover image, next to the gorgeous gal herself, reveals a beautiful 3-layer, rainbow-filled cake. Without a doubt, I knew that cake was the first thing I would make from this amazing new cookbook.
For today’s ‘Cook the Cover,’ I re-created Molly Yeh’s Funfetti Cake! Since this is the first of (hopefully) many posts in this new series, I should probably explain. I have a huge cookbook collection that grows and grows every Tuesday (cookbook release day). My passion for cookbook collecting is getting a bit out of control these days, so in order to justify my obsession with beautiful cookbooks, I’ve decided to bring them to the blog. A win/win for everyone, if you ask me. The theme is ‘Cook the Cover’ where I recreate the dish that is featured on the cover of the book. Typically the cover image is down-right gorgeous, so not only is this a good place to start and see if the recipe is equally delicious, but also I just like how it sounds, lol. This won’t be a full-on cookbook review, just a chance for me to send some love to my fave cookbook authors, give a quick run-down about why I like the book, and share my best interpretation of the cover image.
I marked my calendar with the Molly on the Range release date to make sure I was available to dive right in. It ended up raining literally all weekend, so I had zero guilt cuddling up on the couch in my sweats reading nearly the entire thing. Just like her blog, My Name is Yeh, Molly’s new book is both genius and genuine. It’s everything that has made Molly and her blog so likeable and relatable over the past several years, but it print. It’s easy to attribute her suburban childhood, Jewish-Chinese heritage, Julliard years, NYC food scene days, and upper-Midwest farm life for her endless amount of content and inspiration, but it’s her story-telling that brings everything to life. Damn, this girl can write! Not only are the recipes original yet familiar (without being too far out there), but it’s the writing that makes you feel right at home with her. It’s no wonder I walked away wanting to make at least a dozen of the recipes immediately. But of course, it was the Funfetti Cake that was ultimately first in my kitchen.
I always feel like the sign of something really good is when it pushes and challenges me to be better. Whether it be an awesome meal out that makes me want to try something similar in my own kitchen or a great vacation that inspires me to bring some of that culture home and into my own life, it seems like the sign of a great experience is when I'm motivated to revitalize and re-energize my day to day. Reading Molly’s new book makes me want to be a better writer. The way she narrates her life through food, fun, honesty, and hilarity is totally inspiring. Like I mentioned before, the recipes are truly genius (think Shakshuka Couscous, Asian Scotch Eggs, Schnitzel Bao Buns, and Italian Rainbow Cookie Salad) and the photos are effortlessly styled to perfection, but it’s the writing that makes me want to drop all of life’s responsibilities and make homemade hummus and halva immediately. It’s what made us all fall in love with her in the first place.
While this isn't my first time to read a cookbook like others would read a novel, it is a cookbook first and the recipes should still be good. I have no doubt that the recipes are phenomenal if they are anything like the Funfetti Cake. Let me clarify, homemade Funfetti Cake. Without question, Funfetti cake was my favorite growing up. Back in the day when we had a chest freezer stocked with Costco-sized boxes of giant frozen pretzels, taquitos, and pot stickers and when I ate Chinese hot-wok from the grocery store and even packets of dried ramen for a snack, it was Funfetti cake mix that reigned supreme. And why wouldn’t it? Of course the mix with the extra sprinkles would be any child’s favorite. And since I won’t be eating grocery store chow mein anytime soon, I still turn to sprinkles in my cake mix to get my fix of 90’s nostalgia today.
Truth time – I totally didn’t even stick to the recipe in the book. I know! How could I? While the lovely cake in the book is frosted with a sweet and fluffy American buttercream to complete the cake of our 12 year old selves’ dreams, for once I had an abundance of egg whites that were destined for Swiss meringue buttercream. Oh the shame! However, you could pretty much slather the cake layers with just about anything and they would still taste amazing. Choose whatever frosting pleases you, and Enjoy!
To really mimic that boxed-cake taste, Molly uses clear imitation vanilla. I didn’t have any on hand and used regular pure vanilla extract, and it still tasted awesome. Just be not to forget the almond extract!
adapted from Molly on the Range
2 ¾ cup cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
4 large egg whites
¼ cup grapeseed or canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
¾ cup whole milk
½ cup rainbow sprinkles
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line with parchment three 8-inch round cake pans and set aside.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
Using an electric stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (3 to 5 minutes). With the mixer running on low, add in the egg whites – one at a time. Stop the mixer and scape down the bowl. Add in the oil and extracts. Mix on medium until combined.
With the mixer on low, add in half of the dry ingredients. Once incorporated, stream in the milk. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stop the mixer and fold in the sprinkles.
Evenly distribute the batter between the prepared pans. Bake for 24 to 27 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Cool a a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans. Flip upside down and carefully peal off the parchment. Flip right-side-up and continue to cool.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
6 large egg whites
2 cups granulated sugar
3 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Whisk together the sugar and egg whites: In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, add the egg whites and granulated sugar. Whisk them together briefly by hand, just until they are combined so that the egg whites don’t begin cooking by themselves.
Create a double-boiler: Fill a sauce pan with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer. Place the mixer bowl with the egg white mixture on top to create a double-boiler. The water should be kept at a simmer but should not touch the bottom of the bowl. The double-boiler acts as indirect heat for the egg white mixture.
Heat the egg white mixture: Occasionally stirring, heat the egg white mixture until it reaches 155 to 160 degrees F on a candy thermometer. The mixture should be very hot to the touch and the sugar should have dissolved.
Make the meringue: Once the egg white mixture is hot, carefully return the bowl to the stand mixer. Fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the mixture on high speed for about 8 minutes. When done, the meringue should hold shiny, medium-stiff peaks and be cooled to room temperature. Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment.
Add the butter: With the mixer on low, begin adding in the butter a couple tablespoons at a time. Use the paddle attachment to mix it in. The butter must be room temperature in order to incorporate properly with the meringue.
Add the vanilla: Once the butter has been mixed in, add the vanilla extract.
Mix until smooth: Turn the mixer up to medium speed and mix until silky smooth. This may take a few minutes, but centime to mix until light, creamy, and free from most air bubbles.
For a more in-depth look at Swiss Meringue Buttercream, click here.
I used my favorite star tip, Wilton 1b, for the piping on top. For the sprinkles, I used the Slumber Party Sprinkle Medley from Sweetapolita, as given to me by my dear friend Lyndsay of Coco Cake Land.