Although I am unmarried myself, I do generally enjoy weddings. Some may not believe that as sometimes I complain about them (as they are a great reminder of my own single status) but honestly I do like them. But for me it isn’t about any particular detail or the fancy displays or anything, it is about the couple. I love seeing how they customized their wedding to match their personalities and who they are. And I love seeing the look on the groom’s face when the bride comes in!
I have a friend that is getting married in just over three weeks and what she and her soon-to-be husband decided to go with was an evening wedding followed up with desserts, appies and dancing. Although I do enjoy a good meal, I think this is a great idea for them! Neither of them are into the big fancy wedding and this style will be perfect for them. So since my friend knows how much I love baking and that I was taking decorating classes, she asked if I would be willing to make cupcakes for her wedding. Of course I obliged! What a fun opportunity! Of course I didn’t really think about the fact that I don’t really have a favourite chocolate cupcake recipe or that maybe she would want something that I hadn’t perfected already. This was really just an extra challenge though! So there is the reason behind having made 3 different chocolate cake/cupcake recipes recently!
When I finally got around to asking what she actually wanted a couple months back, she immediately said she wanted chocolate cupcakes with coconut icing. This is what she has apparently asked for as a birthday cake/cupcake since she was very young. And this actually made me really happy as I love coconut things but I know that a lot of people aren’t as thrilled by them as I am so I am always hesitant to make coconut things. My own addition to this was to add a chocolate ganache filling to the cupcake. Just a little boost of extra decadence in my mind!
I think this recipe is the one I am sticking with. When I made these cupcakes, the intention was to do a trial run of the cupcakes for a shower for her but I wasn’t positive the recipe would be the one I would use. Well it will be! Even though I liked the other recipes (the chocolate cake in the Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake or the Chocolate Cake with the Toasted Marshmallow Filling), this one seems richer, smoother and luxurious. I loved it. And I really LOVED the batter… it is so creamy and delicious. Oops, right, that wasn’t the part I was supposed to be inhaling! And then stuff it full of smooth chocolate ganache and top it with creamy white coconut icing… oh so good! Here’s the recipe:
Luxurious Chocolate Cupcakes (or cake!)
(aka Chocolate Buttermilk Cake from Good Housekeeping Best-Loved Desserts )
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cocoa
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1 3/4 cup white sugar
- 3/4 cup butter, softened
- 3 large eggs
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease cake pans or line cupcake pans with paper liners. I did a combo of 12 mini cupcakes, 12 regulars, and 1-9″ cake pan (lined with parchment paper). The idea is to make a 2-layer pan (they would be pretty deep though!)
- Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda & salt.
- In a 2-cup measuring cup, mix together buttermilk and vanilla.
In the bowl of a mixer, beat butter and sugar until blended. Beat about 3 minutes on high until creamy.
- Reduce speed to low and add eggs one at a time.
- Beat in flour mixture alternatively with buttermilk/vanilla mixture. Start and end with the flour mix.
- Pour into prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. For mini cupcakes it was about 12-15 minutes, cupcakes 17-20 minutes and cake was about 25-28 minutes (I don’t actually remember perfectly! It could have been longer!)
- Cool in pans 15-20 minutes before removing to cool on racks.
Chocolate Ganache Filling
- 4 oz semisweet chocolate
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- Heat cream until it is just below boiling then remove and pour over chocolate (either broken up).
- After a couple of minutes. Stir well until smooth. Allow to cool. (I actually stirred in toasted coconut but I didn’t find it added anything to the taste.) (Don’t refridgerate).
- Inject into the centre of the cupcakes. Or if you don’t have the cupcake injector tip (as I call it), scoop out a cylindrical chunk each cupcake and fill with ganache.
Coconut Buttercream Icing
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 4 cup icing sugar
- 1-2 tsp coconut extract (or as much as needed! mine was a little weak!)
- Beat butter for about 2 minutes on its own until smooth and creamy and pretty looking!
- Add icing sugar 1/2 cup at a time. Add coconut extract to taste. You may need to add water to get the proper consistency if your coconut extract is potent!
- Top your cupcakes with the icing!
Birthdays are pretty special regardless but I think some are more special than others. 16 is a big deal as it brings about the freedom of a drivers licence, in BC (and most of Canada) 19 is important since it signifies what I am going to call “the new responsibilities that go along with being legal drinking age”, and then it is 30. There is no real reason that 30 should be special as nothing actually changes in life at that age but it seems that 30 is the end of the “younger years”. To me it has always been the age where you really start to ‘get’ life. You know who you are. You know what you want (and of course don’t want). You know what is important to you. You have the ability to say no to the things that aren’t. And you just really are ready for real life to “bring it!” That was me this past weekend. And just to be clear: I actually had been looking forward to my 30s for years! It even happened that my 30th birthday was on a Saturday!
The day started early – by my choice. I wanted to run a race. Now I have run enough races that it wasn’t like I wanted to do something new and exciting on my 30th, I just wanted to start the year with something I loved and something that I find important in my life! So a 10km race in the rain! It was a blast. I had 3 friends join for the run and one that came as “support crew”. The beginning was a lot of fun as 3 of us chased each other and traded on the lead. And then it settled in to me following closely behind one friend for the rest of the race while the other two followed not far behind. I was hoping that I would have this burst of speed at the end and pass my friend but apparently he also had some kick for the end so I followed in behind 13 seconds after him at a decent race time of 53min35sec. A good start to the day!
Anyways, this is a baking blog so I better cut to the chase! Of course I needed to make a cake. I understand that some may think it is taboo to make your own cake but I really wanted to make it! For me it was a special treat! I love making desserts for other people and I love to make perfect desserts for the tastes of the recipient (so mango cake for my mango loving friend, chocolate coconut cupcakes for my friend that has loves that flavour combo, lemon for the lemon lovers, etc). So for me, it was extra special to make the cake that I would want! Instead of it being a hassle or extra work for me when I should be “enjoying”, it turned into being allowed to make MY perfect cake! What a treat!
My favourite flavour combination of all time isn’t very refined or very mature: it is the classic chocolate and peanut butter. I love it. It is simply the perfect balance! Of course this is what my cake had to be. I had made chocolate cupcakes (I’ll post those later this week) the previous weekend so I made the middle layer of the cake from that and froze it (I’ll add the link for that part of the cake once I write it). The other two layers – top and bottom – had to be peanut butter cake. And between the layers, well that was a mixture of several things. First, on the bottom was chocolate ganache (leftover from the cupcakes as well) and a peanut butter buttercream. Then, between the 2nd & 3rd layers was leftover chocolate marshmallow mousse (or that is what I am calling it). (Apparently I needed to use up some leftovers!) The cake was then covered in more peanut butter buttercream. And then came the home made chocolate fondant. I thought this was a good time to try making my own! That will be a post all on its own! (If you choose to make this recipe, it is not necessary to use the same fillings as I did! But if you want my opinion, I would go with the Chocolate Marshmallow Mousse filling.)
It turned out AMAZING! Although I don’t love the taste of fondant, I love how it seals in the moisture and makes for a more delicious cake! This fondant was also tastier and less gummy than most. We went for dinner at a fantastic restaurant that had prepared a 3 course meal especially for us (with a menu that had my name on it!) including dessert but everyone was still ok with eating a 2nd dessert and most finished it!! Those that didn’t (including myself) took home their leftovers! Although it was quite rich, I only heard rave reviews (unless they were just being nice to me because it was my birthday!)
Now for the shape, I couldn’t just do a regular round or square cake – I wanted a giant Whoopie Pie cake! (Just in case someone missed it – I love making Whoopie Pies and you should check out my Whoopie Pie blog!) So I carved a little here and there, cut the top to a dome shape, carved the chocolate cake to be about an inch smaller in diameter and then shaped the fondant over the top. I also piped more peanut butter buttercream around the outside as the “filling” for the Whoopie Pie! It turned out almost identical to my vision in my head (except for the imperfections in the fondant).
On the top, well I couldn’t write “Happy Birthday Becky!” That seemed a little odd. So I went with a quote from a movie. Although I am not “13 Going on 30”, like I said before, I had been looking forward to 30 as I saw myself being “Flirty, 30 and Thriving”… uh oh, as I write this now I just realized it is supposed to be “30, Flirty and Thriving”. I don’t know why I got ‘flirty’ in my head first. Oh well, too late! The cake was made and eaten as a tribute “to being flirty, 30 and thriving!”
Decadent Buttermilk Chocolate Cake
Ok, so I am not putting the recipe here (this post is crazy long as is!), I am putting it on another post linked here. The recipe made enough for 1-9″ layer, 12 regular sized cupcakes and 12 mini cupcakes. If you want to just use it for this cake, you should likely only make 1/2 the recipe and make an additional 6-8 cupcakes (or make 2 layers and freeze one for use later).
Peanut Butter-cup Cake
(from Best-Loved Desserts by Good Housekeeping – an awesome cookbook!)
2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1/2 cup soft butter
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp vaninlla
- 2/3 cup milk
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease 2 9″ cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, whisk together flour and baking soda.
- With a stand mixer, beat butter and peanut butter a minute or so until creamy. Add both sugars and continue beating for a few more minutes. Add eggs one at a time and then the vanilla.
- Alternate between adding the flour and the milk, begin & end with the flour. Beat just until smooth.
- Split batter between the two pans and bake about 40-45 minutes.
- Cool cake in pan 15-20 min before removing it to cool completely on a rack.
Scald 1/2 cup of whipping cream but don’t let it boil (it should just start to have bubbles on the top.) Pour over 1/2 cup or 4 oz chopped semi-sweet chocolate. Let sit 2 min then stir until smooth. Allow to cool before using.
Peanut Butter Buttercream
Oops, I should have payed more attention to what I did! I just made this up as I went and didn’t measure a single thing. Basically what it was was 1/2-3/4 cup peanut butter, 1/4 cup cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, 1 tsp vanilla and about 3-4 cups of icing sugar. Add cream/milk 1 tsp at a time until the icing is a good consistency for icing. Sorry I can’t say for sure what it was! (I actually used some leftover cream cheese icing and added peanut butter and more sugar to it so this is why I really don’t know!)
Chocolate Marshmallow Mousse Filling
See the filling here for the Whoopie Pies I previously made.
This recipe and process will get its own entire page! But you will have to wait a couple days!
Of course you can use whatever filling you want but this is what I did!
- Start with a layer of the Peanut Butter Cake.
- Spread ganache over the top and then peanut butter buttercream over the cake layer.
- Cover with the chocolate cake layer.
- Spread the Chocolate Marshmallow Mousse on top of the chocolate cake.
- Top with the Peanut Butter Cake.
- Cover the whole thing with Peanut Butter Buttercream.
- Cover with rolled chocolate Fondant!
White Chocolate Cake from a Yellow Cake Mix
I almost never use a mix for baking. This time though, for $3 for a gluten-free (so my mom could enjoy it) mix, I figured it was worth it. And I “kicked-it-up” a bit by adding melted white chocolate! This added some delicious richness to what would have otherwise been just a white cake! I highly recommend this if you are looking for a quick baking experience with a little extra! Basically I just followed the recipe but stirred in 6 oz of melted white chocolate at the end. I also chopped up maybe 2 oz more to just be stirred in. It worked out great!