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    Nerds Candy Cake

    This Nerds Candy Cake will bring fun and lots of fruit flavor to your next happy celebration. A crunchy candy exterior holds a rainbow of tropical-tasting cake layers inside.

    I’ve had the idea for this candy cake for such a long time, I can’t believe it’s finally a reality. Nerds candy is a favorite of mine. And I’ve even been known to add more than a sprinkle to my frozen yogurt. The last couple of days we’ve had snowy weather here. So I used those icy cold days to stay warm near the oven, baking up a rainbow of fruity cake layers.

    The best batter for the job.
    First, whip up a big batch of my trusty white wedding cake batter (originally posted to this blog 9 years ago!). I just adore this white cake recipe, because you don’t have to whip egg whites to stiff peaks in a separate bowl. Which – if you’re an avid baker you know – is the usual affair for most white cakes (like this one). This pale batter takes on color beautifully, and it has a sturdy crumb without being dry. I’ve scaled the recipe to perfectly fit in five 6-inch round cake pans.

    Taste the (neon) rainbow!
    I flavored the layers with a dram bottle of LorAnn Tropical Punch flavoring oil. The cake will have fruity flavor to match its candy exterior. And for the eye-popping food colors, I used the brightest I had on hand. Which turned out to be neon pink, neon orange, and neon yellow. Leaf green and regal purple were the only non-neon colors I used.
    Next, whip up a big batch of American buttercream flavored with orange extract. Orange works well with the tropical fruit flavor in the layers. And the entire cake will make your kitchen smell like fruit punch! Stack the layers with the frosting in rainbow fashion, starting with purple and working upwards to pink.

    A sticky situation.
    After the cake is entirely frosted and thoroughly chilled, spray it with a mixture of corn syrup and water. Or you can use cake decorator’s glucose syrup. It’s just a light mist that really holds on to the candy and gives an extra ounce of adherence. Chill the cake for about 10 minutes more to allow the spray to become sticky.

    Candy Crush.
    Pour out a boatload of Nerds candy on a large baking sheet. (You can find them in bulk here.) Then roll the cake in the candy. Shake the pan between rolling to fill in the bare spots on the pan, and re-roll repeatedly. Use one hand on the bottom cake board and the other on top of the cake to pick it up and roll. The frosting will melt quickly at body temperature, so expect some smudges on top. But don’t worry – this will be totally covered up with frosting swirls.

    Add big swirls of buttercream on top of the cake, then immediately sprinkle with more candy. American buttercream sets quickly, so be swift with your sprinkling.

    Make a fun edible cake topper!
    I’d always imagined my Nerds Candy Cake wearing a funny, nerdy, propeller beanie. So, the question remained for a long time – what should it be made of? Turns out, chocolate was the answer. Partly. I used my large half sphere mold to form the base of the chocolate beanie. If you have a hot cocoa bomb mold, that will work perfectly.
    Heat the pointed end of a metal cocktail pick with a chef’s torch or hold it to the eye of the stove for a few seconds. Then, melt a hole in the top center of the dome with it. Spray the dome with the same solution used to adhere the candy to the cake, then cover the dome in fondant. Make a little hole in the top of the fondant with a toothpick.

    A few brushstrokes.
    Apply some edible paint (vodka + gel food color) to the dome and dab with a textured paper towel to create a fabric appearance. I applied pink, orange, and yellow in thirds, which made a really cute beanie! The beads on top that hold the propeller are from a beaded toothpick (found here) inserted through the center.

    Prop the beanie to the side of the cake on a large skewer, then thread the toothpick through the top hole. There will be just enough room on top of the toothpick to place a propeller. I had made one out of green gum paste, but it did not spin easily. Instead of over-thinking it, I made one with green card stock – and it spins!
    What a fun cake this is to make! It’s so colorful and bursting with bright fruity flavor. I think it would make an excellent birthday cake for kids, or you know. For big kids like me (wink).

    These are some seriously (bright!) tasty layers, and one slice is a generous serving. We divvied slices up by cutting a single tall piece through the center at the yellow layer. Which, let’s be honest, is a more reasonable portion size. The cake flavors reflect the fruity taste of the candy perfectly.
    I’m so happy to see this cake come to life. It’s a bit of an effort, but so fun and special-occasion worthy. I think it would look just about perfect with birthday candles on top.

    Nerds Candy Cake

    Heather Baird

    A slice of this Nerds Candy Cake is like happiness on a plate. It will bring fun and lots of fruit flavor to your next birthday party or holiday. A crunchy candy exterior holds a rainbow of tropical-tasting cake layers inside.Use purchased cake flour which contains 7% protein for this recipe. Homemade cake flour made with cornstarch just doesn’t work as well. Cornstarch cannot cut the protein in all-purpose flour like a flour mill can, so for best results use a brand such as Swan’s Down or King Arthur Cake Flour.

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    Prep Time 1 hrCook Time 30 mins2 hours setting/drying time 2 hrsTotal Time 3 hrs 30 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 16

    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Rainbow Cake LayersOrange Buttercream2 cups unsalted butter at room temperature8 cups confectioners’ sugar 2 lb. bagMilk or cream to thin2 tablespoons orange extract
    Instructions Cake layersPreheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat the cake pans with flour based baking spray.Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Whisk together egg whites and milk in a separate bowl; set aside.Beat the butter using the paddle attachment until soft and creamy. Add sugar gradually and beat until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Beat in tropical punch flavoring oil.Add flour mixture alternately with the egg white/milk mixture. Begin and end with flour mixture and beat until smooth on medium-low speed after each addition.Divide batter between five bowls, about 1 2/3 level cups per bowl. Tint each bowl with the food color so that you have a bowl of bright pink, orange, yellow, green, and purple. Add food color a little at a time until a brilliant color is achieved. Pour the batters into the prepared pans.Bake the cakes at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Let cool slightly in pan, then turn out and cool completely on a wire rack. Level the tops of the cakes using a serrated knife or cake leveler.Orange buttercreamCombine the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Beat on low speed until just combined. Add a little milk or cream and increase mixer speed. Add milk or cream a tablespoon at a time until it comes to spreading consistency. Beat in orange extract. Whip on high speed until the buttercream is white and fluffy.Remove 1 1/4 cups of the buttercream to a piping bat fitted with a large closed star tip. Set aside for later use.Place the purple cake layer on a cake board and top it with 1/3 cup of the buttercream. Continue to stack the cake layers and frosting in this order, purple, green, yellow, orange, pink. Frost the entire cake evenly with the buttercream. Use a bench scraper or cake smoother to achieve an even coat. Refrigerate the cake until the buttercream is firm, about 1 hour.DecoratePlace the corn syrup and water in a small kitchen-dedicated spray bottle; shake the bottle well to incorporate. Lightly mist the cake’s sides with the mixture and refrigerate 10 minutes.Pour the Nerds candy onto a large baking sheet. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and roll the cake’s sides in the candy. Place one hand on the bottom cake board and the other on the top of the frosted cake and quickly roll, picking up the cake this way to re-roll. Shake the pan to redistribute the candy across the pan and roll again. Allow the weight of the cake to naturally pick up the candy. The cake should be mostly covered with the candy when you turn it upright. If you see bare spots, pat Nerds candy onto the areas with your hands.Use the reserved bag of frosting to pipe tall swirls of buttercream on top of the entire cake; immediately sprinkle with more candy (about 2 tablespoons).Edible propeller beanieUsing an art brush, coat one of the half sphere cavities with the melted chocolate; freeze for 5 minutes. Re-coat the cavity with more chocolate to make it sturdy; freeze again until solid. Turn the half sphere out onto a work surface. Heat a metal cocktail pick on with a chef’s torch (or on the stove eye) for a few seconds, then use it to melt a hole in the top center of the chocolate dome. Lightly mist the dome with the corn syrup spray; let set 1 minute.Roll out the kneaded fondant to 1/4-inch thickness and drape over the dome. Smooth evenly to fit around the semicircle, then use a small knife to cut round the bottom edge. Use a toothpick to poke a hole in the top center of the dome where the chocolate was pierced.Place a little of each pink, orange, and yellow gel food colors in small condiment cups. Add drops of vodka to thin. Using a paint brush, paint 1/3 of the beanie with the pink gel food color (see images for design). Pat with the textured paper towel. Repeat the process using the orange and yellow food colors. Let stand until dry, about 25 minutes.Meanwhile, cut a small 3-inch propeller using scissors from a piece of green craft paper. Punch a hole in the center using a metal cocktail pick or an X-Acto knife.Press the bamboo skewer slightly off center in the top of the cake with the blunt side exposed. Gently balance the beanie on top of the skewer. Place a beaded toothpick in the top center hole of the beanie, so that the bead sits on top of the hat. Thread the propeller on top and give it a test spin. If the hole isn’t big enough for it to spin, widen it slightly.Store cake in the refrigerator for longevity. Bring it to room temperature before serving.
    NotesThe long bamboo skewer used to hold the beanie on top of the cake will also serve as a support for the tall stack of cake layers. 
    One slice of cake is a generous portion. Consider cutting one slice at the center yellow layer to create two pieces of cake from just one slice. 

    Keyword cake flour, egg whites, Nerds candy, orange buttercream, rainbow cake layers, whole milk

    You may also enjoy: LEGGI TUTTO

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    Sacher Torte

    Sacher Torte is a classic Viennese confection made with chocolate sponge cake and filled with apricot preserves. Shiny chocolate glaze with the originator’s name piped on top makes it a sumptuous dessert.

    Happy New Year, friends! I hope everyone had a nice holiday, or at least got to indulge in eating your favorite baked goods. I’m not much of a resolution-maker, but there is one blog-related thing I’m focusing on in the coming months.
    This year I aim to add more recipes for classic desserts to this blog. I’ve had Classic Sacher Torte on the ‘to bake’ list for a long time. And in the days after Christmas I finally sat down and did much reading and research on this Austrian confection. Earlier this last year my best friend mentioned being intrigued by the apricot-chocolate combination that Sacher Torte is so famous for. Because we spend every New Year’s Eve together, I was inspired to make it as a special ending to our holiday feast.

    Sacher [Sah-ker] Torte was created by sixteen-year-old apprentice chef Franz Sacher in 1832 for Prince Metternich when the court pastry chef fell ill. It was an instant success with royal guests. The original recipe has been kept a closely guarded secret and is yet the subject of litigation, however, it is probably the most famous chocolate cake in the world.
    Research and testing.
    Digging through online articles and old cake tomes returned a common critique to the highly regarded chocolate cake. Even from practiced pastry chefs that sampled the cake at its origin (in Vienna, at Hotel Sacher). The sponge tends to be dry. My testing confirmed this. But there is a simple fix. Much like the Hungarian Dobos Torte I posted last month, it requires a little extra help from simple syrup to live up to the Sacher Torte I’ve dreamed of eating.
    I’ve cobbled together my favorite components from multiple sources (cited in the recipe notes), and the result is lovely. It’s rich and luxurious, moist and tender. The chocolate is lifted by the unique flavor of apricot preserves. Overall, I’m so glad I did my homework.

    Get sifting!
    First of all, in a large bowl, sift together flour, almond flour, cocoa, and a tablespoon of espresso powder. Like most chocolate cakes with the addition of espresso power, its flavor is largely undetectable. It enhances the chocolate and deepens the flavor.

    Next, separate five eggs. The whites will be whipped into billowy peaks separately from the yolks.

    Beat the yolks with sugar until light and thick. Then add melted chocolate and stir it all together.

    Next, alternate folding the flour mixture into the creamed mixture with the whipped whites. Do this carefully so you retain as much volume as possible. The most common mistake a beginner baker can make is to knock all of the air out of the sponge. Use the motion of turning the bottom mixture to the top of the bowl repeatedly, occasionally using the spatula to cut through the center of the batter as you turn bottom-to-top.

    Let’s talk pans. Ideally, use an 8-inch springform pan. I didn’t have one, but I did have an 8×3 inch cake pan. It’s important that the pan have high sides for the sponge batter to climb up during baking. You could probably get by with baking the batter in a 9-inch springform pan, but the single baked sponge is torted in two. So if you do this, expect thinner layers.

    Simple syrup flavored with a spoonful of pureed apricot jam will go far to improve an otherwise dry sponge. It also imparts more apricot flavor.

    Use high quality apricot preserve, jam, or fruit spread for the filling, mixed with a splash of apricot brandy. La Vieja Fabrica is the brand I used, and it makes an excellent filling and tastes as good as homemade apricot preserve.

    Pour on more chocolate!
    The glaze comes together quickly. I was suspicious of its thin consistency, but this is by design. It falls in an even curtain and completely coats the entire cake. Be sure to place the cake on a wire rack over some parchment before you glaze to catch the excess chocolate. And save that chocolate overflow. You’ll use it to pipe the ‘Sacher’ name on top.

    That glaze is really something! It completely envelops the cake and holds in the moisture from the simple syrup and apricot jam. It was such a treat to share this with our party of four on New Year’s Eve. The cake was well-loved and I wouldn’t hesitate to make it again for a special occasion.

    Classic Sacher Torte

    Heather Baird

    Sacher Torte is a world-famous Viennese chocolate cake with rich history and flavor. Plan ahead, because this cake improves over time. The apricot simple syrup and apricot preserve filling need to infuse the chocolate sponge overnight for best results.I use semisweet chocolate in this recipe, but some recipes use bittersweet. The chocolate should have at least 55% cacao content, according to the Sacher website. Semisweet and bittersweet are often used interchangeably, as semisweet is usually 60% cacao.

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    Prep Time 35 minsCook Time 45 mins2 hours setting time 2 hrsTotal Time 3 hrs 20 mins

    Course DessertCuisine Viennese

    Servings 10

    Equipment8 inch springform panPastry brushPiping bag
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Sponge Cake4 oz. semisweet chocolate1/2 cup all-purpose flour1/2 cup almond flour1/4 cup unsweet cocoa powder1 1/2 tablespoons instant espresso powder1/4 teaspoon salt8 tablespoons unsalted butter softened1 cup granulated sugar divided5 large eggs whites and yolks separated1/2 teaspoon cream of tartarSimple syrup1/4 cup water1/4 cup granulated sugar1 tablespoon apricot preserves pureedFilling3/4 cup apricot preserves2 tablespoons apricot brandyChocolate glaze1 cup semisweet chocolate chips1 tablespoon unsalted butter softened3/4 cup heavy cream2 tablespoons light corn syrupDécor1/3 cup chocolate sprinklesWhipped cream for serving
    Instructions Begin this cake one day ahead of time so the syrup has time to fully soak into the sponge.Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and flour a round 8-inch springform pan and line the bottom with a parchment round.CakeBreak the chocolate into pieces and place in a small heatproof bowl. Rest over a saucepan of barely simmering water and leave for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until melted. Alternatively melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl at 30 second increments at 100% power until melted. Set aside to cool slightly.In a bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, almond flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and salt. Set aside.In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter with 3/4 cup of the sugar until pale and creamy, about 4 minutes. Add the yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition until thick. Fold in the cooled chocolate. Set aside.Whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Increase speed to high and gradually add in the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar; whisk until firm peaks form about 2 minutes more.Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the creamed mixture to loosen it. Fold 1/3 of the flour mixture into the creamed butter mixture. The mixture will be thick and folding may seem awkward but keep going. Gently fold in another 1/3 of the egg whites – do this carefully as to not delate the batter. Keep as much volume as possible. Fold in the remaining flour mixture. Finally, fold in the remaining egg whites, all the while folding gently. This will take several minutes of careful mixing to incorporate all the whites.Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the top develops a slight crack and is slightly puffed. A toothpick inserted near the center should come out mostly clean with a few crumbs attached.Turn the cake out onto a wire rack topside down; peel away the parchment. The puffed top should flatten with the weight of being turned upside down. Cool the cake completely. If the puffed top doesn’t fully flatten, trim it flat with a serrated knife. Cut the cake in half horizontally (torte) using a cake leveler or serrated knife.Simple syrupStir together the water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar is melted. Cool slightly. Stir in the pureed apricot preserves until melted. Using a pastry brush, coat the insides of the cake with half of the syrup.FillingStir together the preserves and apricot brandy. Fill the bottom half of the cake with the mixture. Top with the remaining cake half. Brush the top and sides of the cake with the remaining simple syrup mixture.GlazePlace the chocolate chips and butter in a large measuring cup with a pour spout. In a small saucepan, stir together the heavy cream and corn syrup; place over medium high heat. Cook while stirring until the mixture is hot and steams but does not boil. Immediately pour over the chocolate and butter. Let stand 5 minutes. Whisk together until chocolate is melted and smooth.Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper and place a wire rack on top. Place the cake on top of the wire rack. Pour the glaze over the cake beginning in the center and circling outwards to the edges so it flows down the sides of the cake. The chocolate will overflow the cake and drip down onto the parchment. Allow the cake to stand on the rack until the chocolate sets, about 2 hours, or place in the refrigerator to speed setting. Transfer the cake to a serving plate or cake stand.DécorGently pat chocolate sprinkles around the bottom edge of the cake. Brush away excess using a clean pastry brush.Using a spatula, scrape the chocolate that overflowed onto the parchment into a piping bag with a tiny hole cut in the end. Pipe in scrolling letters “Sacher’ on top of the cake. You will have leftover chocolate, so you may choose to pipe more detail around the edge of the cake.
    NotesThis recipe is cobbling of my favorite components and advice from multiple sources such as King Arthur Baking, New York Times,, and a host of baking books including Ultimate Cake by Barbara Maher.
    Depending on the brand or maker, apricot preserves range from small diced fruit to sliced chunks. If your preserves are the latter, pulse them in a food processor to finer pieces. They’ll spread easier and the cake will cut more evenly. I use a splash of apricot brandy in the filling. This is largely accepted as part of the original recipe, but feel free to omit it to suit your tastes or needs.
    The chocolate sprinkles are optional, and a last-minute decision as I decorated the cake. They add an extra touch of chocolate, which is never a bad thing.

    Keyword apricot preserve, bourbon simple syrup, chocolate glaze, instant espresso powder, unsweet cocoa powder

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    Mini Eggnog Bundt Cakes with Gingerbread Cookie Antlers

    These Mini Eggnog Bundt Cakes are flavored with prepared eggnog and brushed with golden rum syrup. Gingerbread cookie antlers add a touch of seasonal fun.

    ‘Tis the season to enjoy alll of the eggnog! I’ll take mine in the form of these mini eggnog bundt cakes. The eggnog flavor really carries through, and it’s enhanced by a golden rum syrup that soaks into the sponge. Gingerbread antler cookies are too cute and so tasty. Place a cookie atop each bundt cake to create a really sweet table display.

    Start with the fluffy cake batter portioned into four (or more) mini bundt pans. This recipe will make about 8 minis, or you can bake the batter into one large 12 cup bundt pan.

    Bake the bundts for 28-30 minutes. Mine cooked perfectly in 30 minutes. Next, bubble up some butter-rum soaking syrup on the stovetop. Poke holes in the cakes, then spoon or brush on the syrup.

    Nothing beats a classic!
    For the antlers, whip up a batch of my gingerbread house dough. It’s quite good and easy to work with. The antler cutter I used can be found here. Cutting the shapes is easy when the dough is chilled, but it’s a little fiddly getting the cookie dough out of the cutter. Even with a floured cutter I had to coax the dough out with a pinky finger inserted into each antler-end.

    You’ll need 8 cookies for toppers, or if you’re baking the batter in one large bundt pan you could serve them on the side. Either way, you’ll have lots of gingerbread cookie dough left over if you make the entire recipe. But since this is cookie season, I’m sure you won’t mind stamping out some extra gingerbread folk!

    Stand an antler cookie upright on top of each bundt cake and insert a toothpick behind a tall end of the antler. The toothpick keeps the cookie propped upright.

    These mini eggnog bundt cakes are so tender and lovely. The eggnog is truly present in flavor with the rum sauce carrying a light boozy note. These would make wonderful gifts, or arranged together for a fun centerpiece.
    The cookies will soften over time if left on the moist cake. Serve these soon after you assemble them.

    Mini Eggnog Bundt Cakes with Gingerbread Cookie Antlers

    Heather Baird

    These Mini Eggnog Bundt Cakes are flavored with prepared eggnog and brushed with golden rum syrup. Gingerbread cookie antlers add a touch of seasonal fun. Don’t have mini bundt pans? See the recipe notes for instructions on how to make this into one large bundt cake.

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    Prep Time 25 minsCook Time 30 minsTotal Time 55 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 8

    Equipment4 1/2 x 2 inch mini bundt pans (4)3 1/2 inch deer antler cookie cutterPastry brush
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Bundt cakes1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature1 cup brown sugar1/2 cup granulated sugar4 large eggs at room temperature3 tablespoons golden rum or spiced rum1 teaspoon vanilla extract3 cups all-purpose flour1 teaspoon baking powder1/2 teaspoon baking soda1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt1 teaspoon ground nutmeg1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon1 cup eggnog commercially prepared, room temp.Rum syrup1/2 cup unsalted butter1/4 cup water1 cup sugar1/4 teaspoon salt1/2 cup golden rum1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    Instructions Mini bundt cakesPreheat the oven to 350F. Coat four 4 1/2 x 2 inch mini bunt pans with flour-based baking spray and set the pans on a large baking sheet.In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes on medium-high. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well to incorporate before adding the next egg. Mix in the golden rum and vanilla extract.In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture. Mix until just combined. Add half of the eggnog; mix until just combined. Alternate the remaining flour and eggnog additions, ending with the flour mixture. Mix each addition until just combined and do not overmix. Scrape down the bowl and fold together any pockets of butter of flour by hand.Divide the batter evenly between the four mini bundt pans, filling them about 3/4 full. Cover the remaining batter in the bowl with a tea towel.Bake for 25-30 minutes. A toothpick tester inserted into the cake should come out clean when it’s done. Let cool in the pans 5 minutes, then gently turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.Wash and dry pans; re-coat with flour-based baking spray. Bake the remaining batter in the four mini bundt pans as before. Gently turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.Rum syrupIn a medium saucepan combine the syrup ingredients except the vanilla. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat then reduce to a simmer. Cook 5-8 minutes, or until the syrup thicken slightly. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla extract.Crumple a large piece of aluminum foil and place on a baking pan large enough to hold all 8 cakes. Place mini bundt cakes upside down on the foil. Position the cakes so the foil cushions the tops of the cakes. Use a toothpick to poke holes all over the bottoms of the cakes. Spoon some of the syrup over the bottoms of the cakes. Allow the syrup to soak in, about 10 minutes. Gently turn cakes over and lightly brush on more of the syrup using a soft pastry brush. You may not have to use all of the syrup.AssemblyFollow instructions for preparing and rolling the gingerbread dough in the linked post. Cut the dough using the deer antler cutter. Cut at least 8 antlers for toppers, and cut more to serve on the side of the cakes. Place the cut-outs on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 7-10 minutes, or until the gingerbread antlers are puffed and fragrant. Cool completely before using as cake toppers.Just before serving, place an antler upright on each cake. Use a toothpick inserted just behind one side of an antler to prop it up.
    NotesWhat to expect: These mini cakes have a soft sponge and a moist texture with notes of rum. The eggnog flavor is obvious and so delicious.
    Top the cakes with the cookie antlers up to an hour before serving. Any longer and they will lose their crispness over time. The cookies will soften due to the moisture of the cake. Some of my cakes that sat 24 hours topped with the cookies (covered in plastic wrap) softened considerably. The cookies were still delicious but their texture was fragile and more cake-like than cookie. 
    For one large cake, coat a 10 or 12 cup bundt pan with flour-based baking spray. Prepare batter as directed. Spread evenly in the bundt pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick tester comes in clean. Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Poke holes in the bottom of the cake using a long skewer and pour some of the rum syrup over the cake. Let stand until absorbed, about 20 minutes. Turn the cake out of the pan and brush with more of the syrup. 
    This recipe was researched and adapted from several recipes online, with thanks and kind regards to The Little Epicurean and Homemade Hooplah. The rum syrup recipe is adapted from King Arthur Baking’s Caribbean-Style Rum Cake. 

    Keyword eggnog, golden rum syrup, nutmeg, unsalted butter

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    Hungarian Dobos Torte

    Dobos Torte is a traditional Hungarian cake with thin layers of light sponge filled with rich chocolate buttercream. A showy caramel garnish makes it an eye-catching holiday centerpiece.

    Dobos torte is such a classic special occasion cake with rich history and flavor. Although the number of layers are often debated (6, 7, 8, 11?) everyone can agree it is both beautiful and delicious.
    The cake is named for its creator, József Dobos. The finer details of the original Dobos torte recipe were lost in the Second World War. Perhaps that’s why the recipes are so varied today. This this six layer cake is a fine version of Dobos Torte. It is balanced with light sponge layers and rich chocolate buttercream, and makes a very pretty holiday centerpiece.
    The Hungarian pastry chef József C. Dobos created this torte in the late 1800’s. Its decoration was considered minimalistic compared to the elaborate cakes of that era. The cake was such a sensation throughout Europe, it was often poorly reproduced by other pastry shops. Dobos donated his recipe to the local Confectioner and Gingerbread Industry Board so pastry chefs would have access to the true recipe, and to halt the bad imitations.-Researched and paraphrased from Dobos C. Joseph Memory Book, The Hungarian Gastronomy Book

    Feather light sponge layers.
    These days the sponge for traditional Dobos Torte is made with potato starch and flour. And like most sponge cakes the egg whites are whipped separately from the fatty yolk mixture. No surprises there. But take care not to over whip the egg whites or your cake will be too dry. Look for stiff peaks with a glossy finish. If you have stiff peaks with a dry or matte finish, you’ve gone too far.

    Use pasteurized eggs for this buttercream.
    The buttercream is wonderfully rich and silky, and that’s due to uncooked egg yolks whipped with the butter, sugar, and chocolate. This method for buttercream was new to me, but it’s not unlike the raw egg yolk custard in My Favorite Tiramisu. It is highly unlikely that microorganisms will grow in such a fatty, sugary frosting, and using yolks from pasteurized eggs is the most preventative measure. So, use them! And save your farm fresh eggs for the sponge layers.
    From my research, the addition of yolks aims to replicate the texture of the original buttercream that Mr. Dobos made. Based on the information available, his recipe used cocoa mass (cocoa liquor) and cocoa butter which are not usual staples in the home baker’s kitchen. So this is our more approachable option. If you remain dubious about using raw eggs, see the recipe notes for a quick chocolate buttercream that does not use egg yolks.

    The buttercream is not only the filling, but also the covering. I pressed in some sliced almonds while the frosting was still tacky, but you could use pecans, walnuts, or the traditional favorite which is hazelnuts.

    You’ll have plenty of frosting left over to pipe large swirls on top of the cake. These are important because they prop up the cake’s eye-catching garnish of hard caramel.

    The design creates an almost a windmill effect, and it’s beautiful from a bird’s eye view. The recipe is simply sugar and lemon juice cooked to amber hard caramel stage. It sounds really simple but timing is everything.

    How to make the caramel garnish.
    First, use the bottom of the same 8″ cake pan you cooked the sponge in to trace an 8″ circle onto parchment paper. Cook the caramel while watching it constantly and be ready to remove it from the heat at a moment’s notice. When the amber color is achieved, pour the caramel in the center of the circle and spread it out with a hot stainless steel spatula. You can make your spatula hot by placing it on the stove eye for 20 seconds, or if you have a chef’s torch you can heat it up with that. If you try to spread the caramel with a cold spatula, it will stick terribly.

    Practice makes perfect.
    Next, wait a few seconds until the caramel starts to set, then score it into wedges with a buttered knife. After the caramel is completely hardened, break it apart at the score lines. My first attempt at making this garnish broke apart irregularly. I had to make a second one, and it turned out much better. Practice makes perfect (or in my case, adequate). Luckily it takes very little time to repeat the process, because hard caramel doesn’t take long to cook!

    The swirls on the cake prop up each caramel wedge. I just love the effect.

    “A torte — is one with a pleasing appearance inside and out.”-confectioner’s description, early 20th century

    European cakes are often sponge-based and less moist than what American palates are accustomed to. And although it’s not original, I brush the layers with simple syrup which is included in this recipe. It seems to be an accepted practice, and some even add a boozy note with the addition of bourbon, whisky, etc. Tradition in baking is a wonderful thing, but a dry cake is not. The syrup is an extra step but improves the end result, and if you’ve overwhipped your sponge it’s a fail safe for a moist cake.

    Hungarian Dobos Torte

    Heather Baird

    Dobos Torte is traditionally a confection with thin sponge layers, filled and frosted with a rich chocolate buttercream, and covered with a clear sheet of caramel glaze. In this version the caramel is cut into triangles and placed in a fan design on top of the cake.The chocolate buttercream uses uncooked egg yolks. It’s very important to use pasteurized eggs for safe use in this dish. If you’re preparing this cake for guests who might be sensitive to this, or if you prefer not to eat raw egg yolks, I’ve included a quick chocolate buttercream recipe in the notes section that can be used instead.

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    Prep Time 45 minsCook Time 30 minsTotal Time 1 hr 15 mins

    Course DessertCuisine Hungarian

    Servings 10

    Equipment8 inch round cake pans (2)large closed star piping tipPiping bagPastry brush
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Sponge layers2/3 cup all-purpose flour1/2 cup potato starch or cornstarch2/3 cup granulated sugar6 eggs separated and at room temperature1 teaspoon lemon zestSimple syrup1/2 cup granulated sugar1/2 cup water1 teaspoon vanilla extractChocolate buttercream16 oz. semisweet chocolate chopped2 cups unsalted butter at room temperature6 large egg yolks1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt1 teaspoon vanilla extractGarnishes2/3 cup sliced almonds3/4 cup granulated sugar1 teaspoon lemon juice
    Instructions Sponge layersSift together the flour and potato starch. Set aside.Set aside two thirds of the granulated sugar. Whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until light and pale. When the beater is lifted the batter should leave a trail in the bowl (this is called ribbon stage). Stir in the zest.In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites into soft peaks. Gradually whisk in the reserved sugar to form stiff, glossy peaks. Stir two big spoonfuls of the egg whites into the yolk mixture to loosen the texture. Gently fold in the flour. This will take a bit of careful mixing and the texture will seem strange and thick, but keep going. When no streaks of flour remain gently fold in the remaining egg whites. Do all of these steps as gently as possible so that you don’t knock out all of the air.Preheat the oven to 425F. Spray two 8-inch round cake pans with flour-based baking spray, or grease the pans and line them with parchment rounds.Using a scale divide the batter into six bowls evenly (mine were about 3.30 oz. per pan, but yours may vary). This ensures each sponge layer will be the same thickness upon slicing. Alternatively, divide 1/3 of the batter between the two prepared pans. Spread an even layer in the bottom of each one using a small offset spatula or the back of a spoon.Bake for 5-6 minutes or until golden. Invert cakes onto wire racks and remove parchment, if using. Wash pans and re-grease. Repeat the process twice more with the remaining mixture to make another four layers of sponge, making six in total.Simple syrupIn a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Bring to a boil. Cook until the sugar is melted; remove from heat. Stir in vanilla extract and let cool completely.Chocolate buttercreamIn a microwave-safe bowl, heat the chocolate until melted and smooth, in 30 second increments, about 2 minutes total. Cool to room temperature but still liquid and pourable.In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip, beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes on medium-high. Add the egg yolks one at a time, mixing well before adding the next. Add in the cooled chocolate and sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to incorporate any hidden streaks of butter or chocolate. Mix in the salt and vanilla extract. Beat until fluffy.Place about 1 1/4 cups of the chocolate buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a large closed star piping tip; set aside. Brush a sponge layer lightly with the simple syrup using a pastry brush. Sandwich each of the six sponge layers together, brushing as you stack, with 1/4-inch-thick layer of the chocolate buttercream, then spread more buttercream evenly over the top and sides of the cake. To garnish the sides of the cake, press the sliced almonds into the sides while the buttercream is still tacky. Pipe 8 large rosettes of chocolate buttercream, evenly spaced, on the top edge of the cake using the piping bag of frosting. Chill for one hour before adding the caramel garnish.Caramel garnishDraw an 8” circle on a piece of parchment paper using the same pan you baked he sponge cakes in; set aside on a flat heat-proof work surface.Place the sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan and mix together until the sugar looks like wet sand. Cook over medium high heat, watching constantly, and stirring/prodding the mixture occasionally until an amber caramel is formed.Immediately pour the caramel into the center of the marked circle and quickly spread out using a hot stainless-steel spatula (to heat the spatula, let it rest on a hot stove eye, or heat it with a chef’s torch). Leave it for a few seconds until it starts to set. Grease a large chef’s knife then score the caramel into 8 wedges. Let set completely then gently break apart at the score marks.Rest a caramel wedge at an angle on each rosette on the cake.Store the cake covered at room temperature. This cake keeps well for a week and seems to improve upon standing.
    NotesUse the following recipe if you prefer to not make the buttercream with uncooked egg yolks. It is not as dark or silky as the yolk buttercream, but it is a fine replacement. The recipe is taken from the Dobos Torta recipe in the book Ultimate Cake by Barbara Maher. You may also choose to use your own chocolate buttercream recipe.
    Quick Chocolate Buttercream 

    3 teaspoons instant coffee
    3 teaspoons unsweet cocoa powder
    6 oz. semisweet chocolate chopped
    3 cups unsalted butter softened
    1 1/2 cups powdered sugar 

    Dissolve the instant coffee and cocoa powder in 6 tablespoons boiling water. Pour into a small heat-proof bowl and add the chopped chocolate; melt over a pan of simmering water. Let cool until thickened but not set.
    In another bowl, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together until pale and fluff. Add the chocolate and mix well until combined. Then beat the mixture until pale and fluffy and thick. Use to fill, frost, and decorate a 6-layer Dobos Torte.

    Keyword chocolate buttercream, hard caramel, potato starch, sliced almonds, sponge cake layers

    You may also enjoy: LEGGI TUTTO

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    Chocolate Mocha Yule Log Cakes

    Nothing beats a beautiful and classic bake for the holidays, like these Chocolate Mocha Yule Log Cakes. This recipe makes two yule log cakes from one sheet of sponge; one to give, and one to keep.

    This is my first yule log cake of the year, but I love the tradition so much I may post a second one this month. It’s my absolute favorite bake for Christmas, and for me, it’s right up there with making a gingerbread house. Silky-smooth crème au beurre au café (coffee-flavored French buttercream) fills a classic chocolate Swiss roll in these Chocolate Mocha Yule Log Cakes, and both cakes are wrapped in chocolate marzipan ‘bark’.

    Swiss roll batter starts with well-whipped eggs. Beat them until they are pale, thick, and when the beater is lifted the batter forms a trail in the bowl. The mixture will deflate slightly when the other ingredients are added, but should still yield a thick yet pourable batter.

    Bake the sponge in a 15×11-inch jelly roll pan (or similar size). When done, immediately turn it out and cut it in half so that you have two 7.5 x11 inch pieces. Then roll each half up into a sugar-dusted tea towel starting at a short end and cool completely.

    Crème au beurre au café (French coffee buttercream).
    While you’re waiting for the sponges to cool, whip up a batch of coffee-flavored whole egg French buttercream. It’s a lot like regular French buttercream, but instead of using egg yolks, you use whole eggs. Get out the ol’ candy thermometer for this one. It’s an extra step but worth it, I promise. Because it’s so silky-smooth and luxurious!

    Unroll the sponge and let the most curved end stay curled. Pipe lines of buttercream onto the sponge, spread evenly and then roll it back up. Repeat this process with the second sponge.

    Wrap both of the swiss rolls , in a double thickness of waxed paper and then with plastic wrap. The waxed paper helps the cake keep its round shape, and the plastic wrap prevents it from drying out. Refrigerate until firm.

    While you wait for the cake to chill, knead some marzipan with unsweet cocoa powder. We’re going to make faux tree bark, and marzipan makes a tasty and beautiful covering.

    Tree bark impressions.
    First, you’ll need to acquire a tree bark silicone mold, which can be found here. It’s inexpensive and easy to store because it’s flat. Apply some unsweet cocoa powder to the mold to ‘dust’ it before pressing the marzipan. Gently roll the marzipan onto the mold and then turn it out. Trim away the plain edges.

    Drape the marzipan over the cake and and fit around the top and sides. It should adhere naturally. But if it seems too dry, brush the cake with a little water before applying the covering. Trim away any excess ‘bark’.

    You just can’t go wrong with the flavors of chocolate and coffee together! The silky coffee buttercream is a lovely contrast to the sponge texture. The marzipan tastes mostly of chocolate instead of almond, as the addition of unsweet cocoa will overtake the delicate almond flavor. And that’s preferred for this deeply chocolaty confection!

    I opted for a simple presentation without meringue mushrooms (but if you’d like to make some, see this post!). Instead, I used some cute red axe cupcake picks, purchased from Cranky Cakes Shop. Although they are currently out of stock, you can find some for purchase here instead. I think they’re so funny and cute. And they’re perfect with this woodsy cake.

    Chocolate Mocha Yule Log Cakes

    Heather Baird

    Nothing beats a beautiful and classic bake for the holidays, and Chocolate Mocha Yule Log Cakes tick both of those boxes. This recipe makes two yule log cakes from one sheet of sponge.For the textured ‘bark’ marzipan topping, you’ll need a silicone tree bark impression mat. See the blog post for shopping links. Or, if you’re not keen on purchasing an impression mat, crumpled aluminum foil will create a vague tree bark appearance if you lightly press it into the rolled marzipan.

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    Prep Time 40 minsCook Time 12 mins1 hour chill time 1 hrTotal Time 1 hr 52 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 12

    Equipment15×11 inch jelly roll pan, or similar sizeTree bark silicone impression matKitchen dedicated art brushAxe cupcake picks
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Swiss roll1/2 cup powdered sugar4 eggs3/4 cup granulated sugar1 tablespoon oil2 tablespoons buttermilk1 teaspoon vanilla extract3/4 cup all-purpose flour1/4 cup dark cocoa powder1 teaspoon baking powder1/2 teaspoon saltFrench coffee buttercream1 cup granulated sugar1/3 cup water2 large eggs1 1/2 cups unsalted butter softened3 tablespoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water1/4 teaspoon fine grain saltAssembly14 oz. marzipan1/4 cup unsweet dark cocoa powder plus extra for dusting
    Instructions Chocolate spongePreheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 15×11 inch jelly roll pan (or similar size) with flour-based baking spray. Alternatively butter the pan and line with parchment paper.Lay out two tea towels on a work surface. Sprinkle each tea towel with 1/4 cup powdered sugar and rub sugar into towel with your hands.Place eggs in large bowl; beat using electric mixer on high speed, 5 minutes with a timer set. The whipped eggs will become thick and lightened in color. With the mixer still running, slowly add sugar and oil, followed by buttermilk and vanilla.In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Slowly add to the liquid ingredients. Mix until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth evenly with a rubber spatula. Bake 12-15 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back when pressed with fingers.Immediately turn the sponge sheet out onto one of the sugar-covered tea towels. If you used parchment paper to line the pan, remove it, then cut the sponge in half width-wise so that you have two 7.5 x 11 inch pieces. Roll each cake into a tea towel from a short side. Place the rolled cakes on a wire rack, seam-side down, and let cool completely.Make the French coffee buttercreamIn a small heavy saucepan set over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the water. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Continue to cook until it registers 240°F on a candy thermometer.In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs until they are thick and pale, about 5 minutes on medium high speed. While mixer is running, add the sugar syrup in a thin stream, carefully tempering the syrup into the eggs without cooking them. Beat until the mixing bowl is cool. Change to the paddle attachment and add the softened butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. The mixture will deflate and look runny, then curdled. Keep adding butter and mixing. This buttercream goes through several ugly stages before it reaches fluffy consistency. When all the butter is added, add the espresso mixture and salt. Beat on high speed until light and fluffy.Transfer buttercream to a piping bag with 1/2-inch hole cut in the end of the bag.Gently unroll a cake, letting the end remain curled. Pipe lines of buttercream over top of cake; spread evenly. Roll the cake back up and wrap in plastic wrap. Repeat with remaining cake and the remaining buttercream. Refrigerate until the frosting is firm, about 1 hour.Conservatively trim both ends of the cakes away with a serrated knife so the swirl is visible.AssemblyKnead the marzipan and dark chocolate cocoa powder together until the marzipan is consistently dark brown in color. Dust the tree bark impression mat with cocoa powder using a small kitchen-dedicated art brush to get into all the nooks and crannies of the silicone mat.Roll out half of the marzipan on a lightly cocoa-powder dusted work surface. Place it on the impression mat and roll so that the marzipan takes on the tree bark impression; don’t roll too hard or the marzipan will tear.Turn the marzipan bark out of the mold and place on top of one of the cakes. Cover the top and sides of the cake entirely, but do not cover the bottom. Trim away excess marzipan. Repeat the process with the remaining cake. Cut cake into rounds and add little axe cupcake picks, if using, before serving.Serve cakes at room temperature. Store leftovers in the refrigerator. Return cakes to room temperature before serving.
    NotesWhat to expect:
    This chocolate sponge is light in texture and deeply chocolaty. It does a good job of holding the rich coffee buttercream and supports the covering of marzipan very well. It’s a wonderfully rich coffee break treat. 
    I chose to serve this cake as a grouping, with one whole yule log cake as the centerpiece, and the second cake I cut into rounds and decorated with the mini axe cupcake picks on plates for easy serving. However, ’tis the season to give. You may decide to keep a cake and give one away.

    Keyword chocolate sponge cake, coffee buttercream, instant espresso powder, marzipan

    You may also enjoy: LEGGI TUTTO

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    Pumpkin Cranberry Mini Cakes

    Pumpkin Cranberry Mini Cakes celebrate two of the season’s best flavors. Cream cheese frosting balances tart cranberry filling sandwiched between layers of pumpkin sponge.

    Even though the first day of fall was in September, it feels like it’s only just arrived here in East Tennessee. There’s a snap in the air and the trees are finally showing their colors. I see geese flying south almost daily, and their path seems to navigate right over our backyard. I’ve seen and felt all of these things before, but each year it feels new. Funny, isn’t it?
    All of this has urged me to start holiday baking in earnest. I’ve been piecing together flavors for new recipes with autumn flavors. This recipe started out as an idea for petit fours, but as the build progressed it was clear they were meant to be a bit larger.

    Setting the scene.
    Before I get into the cake, I wanted to share this little table. My bestie and I set up an autumn-themed tablescape just outside my back door. The more we arranged the more I began to consider it a trial run for this year’s Thanksgiving table. My set of vintage Noritake china with persimmon-hued flowers seemed just right, and they inspired the decors for the mini cakes.
    (For those interested, the china has been discontinued but has some nice pieces here.)

    The cakes!
    Begin this recipe with an easy pumpkin sponge baked in a sheet pan. It’s a tasty base that can easily support layers of filling. Then spread on a layer of cranberry filling. This is simply made from a can of organic whole berry cranberry sauce.

    Next, the cream cheese filling. Spiced pumpkin sponge and cream cheese were made for each other, if you ask me. (See My Favorite Pumpkin Roll Recipe for more on this.) This layer also balances out the tartness of the cranberry.

    Trim the edges of the cake to neaten them using a large serrated knife. Then top the whole thing with a layer of marzipan. This is a classic element in most petit fours recipes, and it tastes great!

    Using that same large serrated knife you used to neaten the edges, cut the cake into pieces. I have a kitchen-dedicated ruler that really helps to make even portions. You can see this in action in the video at the end of this post.

    Draped glaze.
    After all the cakes are cut, cover them in a thick confectioners’ glaze made of powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. This is a much easier topping to make than poured fondant, and it dries to a satin finish. The coating doesn’t need to cover the entire cake. An asymmetrical drape will give enough coverage while still showing off those delicious layers.

    Small flowers can be fashioned by using leftover marzipan. I wanted to match the little flowers on the Noritake china on the table, so I tinted them an orangey-persimmon hue.

    Gold dragees in the centers of each flower gives them a little sparkle as a finishing touch.

    The cakes were really beautiful on the table. Petite but not too small. And you can’t get any more season appropriate than Pumpkin & Cranberry, right?

    These Pumpkin Cranberry Mini Cakes require a little planning and effort, especially if you make the decors on top. But they are well worth the effort. The recipe provided yields 20 mini cakes, but it can be halved to feed a smaller crowd.

    Pumpkin Cranberry Mini Cakes

    The pumpkin sponge cake portion will need to be made twice to yield the two 15×10 sheets needed for all 20 cakes. If you require less servings, the cake recipe can be made once and both filling recipes halved.

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    Prep Time 2 hrsCook Time 50 minsTotal Time 2 hrs 50 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 20 mini cakes

    Equipment15×10 jelly roll panlarge serrated knifesmall flower fondant plunger cuttersmall leaf fondant plunger cutterfluted pointed star fondant toolfood tweezers
    Ingredients  Cake ingredients3/4 cup all-purpose flour1/2 teaspoon baking powder1/2 teaspoon baking soda2 teaspoons ground cinnamon1/4 teaspoon salt3 large eggs1 cup granulated sugar2/3 cup canned pumpkinCranberry filling14 oz. canned organic whole cranberry sauce1/4 cup granulated sugar1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest from one large naval orange2 tablespoons cold water1 tablespoon cornstarch1 tablespoon orange liqueur such as CointreauCream cheese filling 1 pkg. 8 oz. cream cheese at room temperature1 cup powdered sugar sifted6 tablespoons butter softened1 teaspoon vanilla extractAssembly1 lb. prepared marzipan2 cups powdered sugar4 tablespoons milk or cream plus more if needed1 teaspoon vanilla extractCopper brown gel food colorMoss green gel food colorGold sugar pearls
    Instructions Pumpkin sponge cakesPreheat oven to 375° F. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan; line with parchment paper, or spray with flour-based baking spray. Cover a large work surface with parchment paper and lightly dust with powdered sugar.Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until thick and pale. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan.Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. (If using a dark-colored pan, begin checking for doneness at 11 minutes.) Immediately loosen and turn cake onto the prepared parchment paper. Remove parchment paper that lined the pan from the cake, if necessary.Bake the sponge recipe twice so that you have two 15×10 sheets of pumpkin sponge.Cranberry fillingPlace the cranberry sauce in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and stir until the mixture begins to steam. Stir in the orange zest. Using an immersion blender, blend the mixture right in the saucepan to a smooth puree. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, cool mixture and transfer to a blender pitcher to puree. Then return it to the saucepan and re-heat.)In a small bowl, stir together the water and cornstarch to make a slurry. Add the mixture to the hot cranberry puree while whisking, and stir until thickened, 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat an let cool. Add the orange liqueur and refrigerate until completely cool.Cream cheese fillingBeat cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until smooth.Scrape down the bowl and mix again until light and fluffyAssemblyCut one of the pumpkin sponge cakes into thirds that you have three 10×5-inch long pieces. Spread one of the cake layers evenly with the cranberry filling. Top with a second sponge. Spread a layer of cream cheese filling on top of the second sponge evenly. Top with the third layer of sponge. Refrigerate the cake until firm, about 25 minutes.Meanwhile, roll out half of the marzipan to slightly less than 1/4-inch thickness. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and brush the top with water (I used a kitchen-dedicated spray bottle to mist it). Place the marzipan on top of the cake and trim away the excess so that the marzipan fits the top of the cake exactly. Save marzipan scraps. Refrigerate again for 15 minutes.Repeat the entire process of filling, covering, and chilling the second pumpkin sponge.Remove the cakes from the refrigerator and score the marzipan down the center length of the cake using a serrated knife. Score width-wise every two inches so that you have 10 mini cakes portioned. Using gently sawing motions, cut the cakes at their score marks. Repeat the process with the second assembled cake so that you have 20 mini cakes.In a small bowl, stir together the powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons milk or cream, and vanilla extract. Whisk until thick glaze forms. Add a more milk or cream if needed. The mixture should be so thick that it holds in the balloon of a whisk, and slowly pours back into the bowl in an opaque ribbon. Pour a spoonful of glaze over each cake, gently nudging the glaze over the sides of the cake with the back of a spoon. Let the cakes stand until the glaze is firm, about 1 hour.Meanwhile, tint a 2 oz. ball of marzipan with the copper brown gel food color. Knead well until a consistent hue is achieved. Repeat the process with another 2 oz. ball of marzipan and the moss green food color. If the marzipan is sticky, knead in a little confectioners’ sugar.Roll out each piece of marzipan and stamp small flower shapes from the copper marzipan using the flower plunger cutter. Gently shape them using a fluted, pointed star fondant tool. Use the small leaf plunger cutter to stamp shapes from the moss green marzipan. A leaf veiner can be used to create leaf impressions in the marzipan, if desired.When the mini cakes are firm, arrange flowers and leaves on top of each cake. When they are arranged correctly, use dot of leftover glaze to adhere them to the tops of the cakes (or you could use a water dampened art brush). Using cake decorator’s tweezers, press gold sugar pearls into the centers of each cake.Place cakes in a large cake box or in a baking pan that is taller than the cakes’ height. Store loosely covered in plastic wrap in the refrigerator (an airtight container will cause the glaze to wrinkle – avoid this). Allow cakes to stand at room temperature for a few minutes before serving. This knocks a little of the chill off and the flavors will be well developed.
    NotesThe work of building this cake can be spread out over a couple of days. The pumpkin sponge and cranberry filling can be made a day ahead of assembly. 
    Marzipan decors can be made ahead of time and stored airtight for freshness.
    Cake layers will stay well-defined and sharp when refrigerated. If left at room temperature for more than a couple of hours, the cranberry filling will begin to soak into the bottom sponge. 

    Keyword canned pumpkin puree, cranberry cake filling, cream cheese cake filling, organic canned cranberry sauce, pumpkin sponge cake

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    Ghost Bark Cake

    Make this creepy-cute sprinkle cake for a fun Halloween party centerpiece. Ghost candy bark makes an edible cake topper and adds an extra-scary dimension.

    Hello, friends! Halloween is fast approaching – a little too fast, if you ask me. And I’m pleased to share my latest effort for Food Network. This Halloween-themed ghost cake is a fun and colorful confection dressed in black chocolate frosting and lots of sprinkles. It would make a tasty, eye-catching centerpiece for a ghoulish gathering.

    Halloween Hues.
    Begin with some fluffy buttermilk cake layers. Whenever a cake requires a colorful interior, I turn to this white cake recipe. Most cake-makers are familiar with the WASC cake (white almond sour cream) that uses white cake mix as an ingredient. The finished batter takes on food color very well, and yields rich hues. For this recipe I swapped the sour cream for buttermilk and it worked beautifully.

    Use black or dark chocolate cocoa powder for the black chocolate buttercream so you won’t need to add loads of black food color. Black cocoa powder will yield the best results, and it darkens as it sets on the cake.

    You’ll see in the video that I use a special technique to get those rings of sprinkles on the cake. It’s the same spray and roll technique I used for Peach Ring Cake, and it’s not too hard to master!

    The ghost bark is just TOO CUTE. There are lots of versions of it online, and I thought it would be a snap to make. Ha! Not so much. But there’s a trick to it. I ran into issues with the candy setting up before I could get all the ghosts piped and swirled on. But I discovered if you keep your oven at 200F, you can pop the entire sheet of bark in there for 2 minutes and the whole thing will re-melt. Use this re-heating technique and you’ll have a much easier time!

    Worth it! Look how cute. The best tool for making the ghostly arm and body trails is a chopstick. A toothpick is too thin for this job.

    When the candy is set, break it apart and use it for an edible cake topper. Insert shards upright so that it appears the ghosts are floating upwards!

    The interior is tangy, almost like a red velvet cake (it’s all that buttermilk!) and it is wrapped in the darkest chocolate frosting. Which tastes much like an Oreo cookie!

    You can find the recipe for Ghost Bark Cake on, right here. And don’t forget to check out the video, which demonstrates how to get that stripe-y sprinkle effect.
    Note: If you’re outside the US, you may not be able to view the recipe due to Discovery’s geo-blocking. If this happens, leave a comment and I’ll work on sending the recipe to your email address.

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    Salted Caramel Popcorn Cake

    Rich sea-salted dulce de leche buttercream will wow your taste buds in this Salted Caramel Popcorn Cake (aka Crunch ‘n Munch Cake). Along with three brown sugar cake layers it supports a pile of caramel corn, honey-roasted peanuts, and dulce de leche drizzle.

    The Tennessee Valley Fair ended last week, and I didn’t go for a bunch of reasons. It’s an end-of-summer tradition and a harbinger of fall. I love going to see the livestock shows and I never miss a look at the prize-winning pumpkin, but what I really go for is the food. I missed the funnel cakes, the smell of burnt sugar, snow cones, cotton candy, and the giant bags of caramel corn.
    This Salted Caramel Popcorn Cake is my consolation. It’s three layers of brown sugar cake, topped with the easiest, tastiest salted dulce de leche buttercream. I crowned the cake with loads of caramel corn clusters with peanuts (a.k.a. Crunch ‘n Munch). It’s pretty much the caramel cake of my dreams.

    The first thing I need to talk about is this salted dulce de leche frosting. Oooh, it’s so good. Easy, too! The recipe makes a big bowl, and it may seem like too much for an 8 or 9-inch cake, but it’s just the right amount for generous filling and those big swirls of frosting on top.

    Layer up!
    Bake up these tender cake layers made with butter and light brown sugar. The batter is so fluffy, and yields a delicate, slightly crumbly cake that doesn’t rise much. You might not even have to level it. It’s a nice vehicle for all that caramel frosting.

    Cover the cake in a thick layer of salted dulce de leche buttercream, and pipe on some tall frosting swirls. I topped each swirl with caramel corn pieces.

    Just a little heavy cream mixed and heated with dulce de leche will loosen it enough to make a nice drip/drizzle.
    Also, how much caramel popcorn on top is too much? Asking for a friend. If I’d had another box of Crunch ‘n Munch on hand, this cake might’ve been twice as tall! Top the cake with a mountain of caramel popcorn and then drizzle the heck out of it with more dulce de leche.

    Add pinches of coarse sea salt to the caramel for little explosions of flavor (seriously!). I used this homemade vanilla salt that I make around the holidays for Christmas gifts. It’s also really good on shortbread. But use whatever you have on hand! Or, if you’re looking for a good coarse salt to stock, this Celtic grey sea salt is tops.

    This is an evergreen cake that’s appropriate for all occasions. However there’s still something quite autumn about it, even though it’s not pumpkin. And it’s not spiced.

    Prepared dulce de leche is easily found at the grocery store in the baking aisle or in the ice cream toppings section near the frozen foods. I recently discovered n’dulce, (found with the ice cream toppings) which is what I used for this cake. It has that intense deep brûléed sugar flavor that translates so well in buttercream. It’s worth seeking out.

    Salted Caramel Corn Cake

    Heather Baird

    Rich sea-salted dulce de leche buttercream will wow your taste buds in this Salted Caramel Popcorn Cake (aka Crunch ‘n Munch Cake). Along with three brown sugar cake layers it supports a pile of caramel corn, honey-roasted peanuts and dulce de leche drizzle.
    Read the recipe notes for additional information, and what to expect when baking and assembling this cake.

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    Prep Time 13 minsCook Time 30 mins1 hour chill time 1 hrTotal Time 1 hr 43 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 12

    Equipment8 inch cake pans, 3large closed star piping tipPiping bag
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Brown sugar cake layers3 cups cake flour2 teaspoons baking powder1/2 teaspoon baking soda1 3/4 cups full fat buttermilk at room temperature2 teaspoons vanilla extract1 3/4 cup light brown sugar3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature1/4 cup light olive oil or vegetable oil3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt4 large egg whites at room temperatureSalted dulce de leche buttercream2 cups unsalted butter at room temperature7 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar one 2 lb. bag13.4- ounce jar prepared dulce de leche n’dulce recommendedMilk or heavy cream for thinning the frosting1 teaspoon fine sea salt
    Instructions Brown sugar cake layersPreheat the oven to 350F. Spray three 8-inch round baking pans with flour-based baking spray (or grease and flour pans).In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and baking soda together. Combine the buttermilk and vanilla extract in a glass measure with a pour spout.In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the brown sugar, butter, oil and salt. Beat on medium-high until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scraped down the bowl using a rubber spatula. Add egg whites one at a time, mixing well between each egg addition.Decrease the mixer speed to low and add the dry and wet ingredients in three additions. Begin and end with flour. Stop mixing when just a few streaks of flour remain. Finish folding together the ingredients by hand with a large rubber spatula. This will ensure that your cake’s texture is even and won’t bake with tunnels (air holes) throughout.Place approximately 2 2/3 cup of batter into each of the prepared pans. Smooth the batter evenly with a rubber spatula and tap the pans on a work surface to release any air pockets. Bake cakes until golden and crowned, about 25 to 30 minutes. The cakes are done when a toothpick tester inserted near the center comes out clean.Cool the cakes in the pans on a rack for 5 minutes, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Level them using a serrated knife or cake leveler, if needed (my cakes did not require leveling).Salted dulce de leche buttercreamIn the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, combine the butter and confectioners’ sugar. Beat on low speed, gradually increasing to medium as the sugar is incorporated. The mixture will be thick. When the butter and sugar are just combined with some streaks of sugar still remaining, stop the mixer and add the dulce de leche in three additions until thoroughly combined, mixing well after each addition. Beat in milk or cream 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture is a spreadable consistency, about 2 tablespoons. Beat in the fine sea salt. Beat on high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and beat again to make sure no streaks of butter or sugar remain. Beat again if necessary. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel to prevent the frosting from drying out.AssemblyPlace a cake layer on a cake board or flat serving plate. Top with 1 1/4 cups of buttercream; spread evenly. Repeat process with next cake layer. Place remaining cake layer on top. Frost the entire cake in a thin coat of the buttercream (crumb coat). Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.Cover cake with a second generous, thick layer of the buttercream. Smooth the top and sides evenly using an offset spatula, a cake smoother, or a bench scraper.Place the remaining buttercream in a large piping bag fitted with a large closed star decorator tip. Pipe 8 large swirls on the top edge of the cake. Immediately place a caramel corn cluster on top of each swirl.In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the dulce de leche and heavy cream. Heat 30 seconds or until hot, and the mixture stirs together easily. Pick up the mixture with a spoon and it should all in a ribbon back into the bowl. If it doesn’t fall correctly stir in a little more cream. Heat again if necessary.Spoon or pipe the 3/4 of the caramel on top of the cake so that it drips down the edges. Top with handfuls of caramel corn, drizzling as you go with the remaining dulce de leche so that all layers of the caramel corn get a little of the drizzle. Sprinkle the peanuts on top. Add pinches of coarse sea salt to the caramel drip and drizzle.Serve slices of cake at room temperature. Store leftovers covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator.
    NotesWhat to expect:

    Tender, light cake layers that won’t rise much during baking. You shouldn’t have to level these cakes, but if your oven runs hot it could force them to crown (rise in the centers). Go ahead and level them using a serrated knife. 
    Lots of buttercream. The recipe makes a big stand mixer-sized bowlful, but it’s the star of the show and really wows as the filling and covering on this cake. If you’re not a big frosting fan you could halve the recipe. But my tasters loved the cake recipe written, as is. 
    A thick drizzle. Some brands of dulce de leche thin better than others. Some may require more cream to achieve a nice ribbon-like consistency. My recommendation is n’dulce brand, which is well behaved and thins easily. If your drizzle doesn’t thin easily, experiment with a little more heavy cream and heat.
    Aaand, about the caramel corn’s crunch. Ideally, you’ll assemble and serve this cake on the same day. That way the caramel corn will remain fresh and crunchy. I used Crunch ‘n Munch brand caramel corn clusters, which has a thick coating of caramel that I feel has a little more longevity in the refrigerator that other caramel corn. Over time in the fridge, the caramel corn with soften and lose its crunch.

    Try to enjoy this cake within a couple days of assembly, and share the love! You shouldn’t have any trouble pawning slices off to co-workers, friends, and family.
    The brown sugar cake layers are adapted for this recipe from a New York Times recipe that you can find right here. The buttercream recipe and other elements are original to 

    Keyword brown sugar cake layers, caramel popcorn, coarse sea salt, dulce de leche, salted dulce de leche frosting, unsalted butter

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