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    Red White and Blue Firecracker Cake

    Celebrate Independence Day with this colorful Red, White, and Blue Firecracker Cake. It’s patriotic inside and out!

    Summer is in full swing, and July Fourth is just around the corner. I’m always looking for new ways to make the holiday special. This year I dreamed up a fun way to decorate a cake for the occasion. It’s so festive and extremely simple using candy from the grocery store. Anyone can do it!

    Batter up!
    This cake is patriotic inside and out! Start by whipping up the cake batter. It’s a tangy and thick with buttermilk and Greek yogurt, and it’s pale enough to take food color well. For the colorful interior, three shades of food color does the trick! Use red, sky blue, and navy blue or royal blue gel food colors. I’ve been using Chefmaster gel food colors for a few years now, and this is a good starter set if you’re looking to try it out. Tint three bowls of batter with the food color and leave one plain.

    After the colorful cake batters are baked into 6″ cake layers and cooled, stack them and coat with good old fashioned American buttercream. (Was there any other choice for this cake?). I almost left the frosting white, but at the last minute I decided on pale sky blue. I l love this color with the red firecracker decors.

    Piping fun!
    The rope of multicolor frosting on top is a fun and really eye-catching element. The most labor intensive part of this process is tinting the frosting with food color. The rest is easy!
    First, divide and tint the frosting red, sky blue, and royal blue. Transfer each to a piping bag. Place some untinted frosting in a fourth piping bag. Next, lay a sheet of plastic wrap out on a work surface. Pipe a fat line of royal blue frosting on the center of the plastic, about 8 inches long. Pipe the light blue color frosting right next to the royal blue frosting. Follow with the white frosting, the red frosting, and another line of white. After the piping is done, fold the plastic over the frosting to roll it together.

    Next, squeeze out a some of the icing in a circular motion on a piece of scrap parchment. This will give you some practice piping the rope, and sometimes it takes a few passes for all of the colors to extrude together.Now you’re ready to pipe on the cake!

    Sprinkle now, not later.
    Immediately after piping the fat rope of frosting, add sprinkles. Have them ready to hand because this buttercream crusts in just a few minutes. If you wait too long the sprinkles will bounce right off! I used a combination of white confetti, white nonpareils and gold dragees.

    The firecrackers are TOO EASY to make. Just get yourself some SweeTarts Ropes in Cherry Punch flavor and black licorice laces. Trim the ropes down to about 2-inches and insert a small length of licorice into the cream center. I used a toothpick to remove a little of the cream filling to make room for the licorice. That’s pretty much it for assembly!

    By the time all of the firecrackers are assembled, the buttercream frosting on the cake will be well set. Use a little leftover buttercream to attach the firecrackers to the cake. I used a toothpick to apply a little to the backs of each candy.

    Because this cake requires quite a few of the firecracker decors, enlist some help! Kids can help put them together.

    This was a fun little bake, and it’s 6-inch size makes it small yet tall. A slice is a tower of color!

    This cake recipe was new to me. I found it in a community cookbook and decided to give it a spin. It has the tightest crumb and yet it is moist with all that yogurt in the batter. It’s tangy and relies on pure vanilla extract for its bakery-made flavor. I think it would be the perfect consistency to hold chunks of fresh fruit throughout, so I may try a summer peach version with it next!

    Red White and Blue Firecracker Cake

    Heather Baird

    This is the perfect party cake for a July Fourth party or cookout. The frosting recipe provides the large quantity needed to fill, frost, and make the rope border for the cake. You will have a little frosting leftover. Use it to attach the firecrackers to the outside of the cake. SweeTarts Ropes candies were used for the firecrackers can be found at most US grocery stores. You could also use strawberry licorice ropes or Twizzlers.

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    Prep Time 40 minsCook Time 40 minsTotal Time 1 hr 20 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 8

    Equipment6 inch cake pans, 4Kitchen scissorskitchen dedicated tweezers
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Cakes4 1/2 cups cake flour1 tablespoon baking powder1/2 teaspoon salt1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature2 cups granulated sugar4 eggs1 egg white1 cup Greek yogurt1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract1 1/4 cups buttermilkRed sky blue, and royal blue (or navy blue) gel food colorAmerican buttercream and decors2 cups unsalted butter softened2 lb. confectioners’ sugarMilk or cream to thin1 tablespoon pure vanilla extractRed sky blue, and royal blue (or navy blue) gel food color2 tablespoons white confetti sprinkles2 tablespoons white nonpareils1 tablespoon gold drageesFirecrackers3 SweeTarts Ropes in Cherry flavor1 licorice lace about 12 inches long1 tablespoon white confetti star sprinkles
    Instructions CakesPreheat the oven to 350F. Coat four 6-inch round cake pans with flour-based baking spray.In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time until combined. Add the egg white and beat again. Add yogurt and vanilla extract.Add the flour and buttermilk alternately; begin and end with flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and fold together by hand until all the ingredients are well incorporated.Divide the batter evenly into four bowls (slightly more than 2 cups per bowl). Leave one bowl untinted. Mix red food color into one of the bowls; begin with 1/2 teaspoon and increase amount until the desired vibrant red hue is achieved. Tint another bowl with the sky blue food color, and the last bowl with the royal blue food color. Mix well until no streaks of white remain. Transfer batters to the prepared pans and bake for 40 minutes, or until cakes are completely set and a toothpick tester comes out clean.Remove cakes to a wire rack to cool completely. Trim domes from the tops of the cakes with a serrated knife to level.ButtercreamIn the bowl of an electric mixer with the whip attachment, beat butter until creamy. Add half of the confectioners’ sugar. Beat until combined. Add the remaining confectioners’ sugar and beat on low speed. Add milk or cream a little at a time until mixture whips and is of spreading consistency. Add the vanilla extract and beat again. Beat on high speed until light and fluffy.Remove about 2/3 cup of white frosting to a piping bag.Place 1/3 cup in each of three bowls. Cover remaining frosting in the bowl with a damp towel to prevent drying.Tint one bowl with red food color, one with sky blue, and one with royal blue. Transfer each to their own piping bags. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on a work surface and pipe a line of royal blue frosting 8-inches long. Pipe a light blue line alongside it, followed by a white line, and red line, and another white line of frosting, all touching each other. Roll the frostings up together in the plastic and twist the ends. Snip one end. Place the snipped end into a piping bag fitted with Ateco #824 open star tip. Set aside.Tint the remaining frosting with a small amount of sky blue food color and beat until a light blue color is achieved.AssemblyPlace the royal blue cake layer on a serving plate. Cover with a thin layer of buttercream. Stack the light blue layer on top; cover with a thin layer of buttercream. Continue with the with the white layer and frosting. Top with the red cake layer. Crumb coat the outside of the cake and refrigerate until set, 15 minutes. Coat the cake with a final layer of sky-blue buttercream. Use a bench scraper or cake smoother to smooth the edges of the cake. Refrigerate until firm, 15 minutes.Use the reserved bag of multicolor frosting to pipe a fat rope of buttercream along the top edge of the cake. Immediately add white confetti, white nonpareils, and gold dragees while the buttercream is still tacky. Reserve any leftover frosting.FirecrackersCut SweeTart Ropes int 1 1/2 to 2-inch pieces. Snip the licorice lace into small pieces using a kitchen-dedicated pair of scissors. Use a toothpick to make holes in the cream centers of the rope pieces. Insert a piece of licorice lace into the holes to make a firecracker ‘wick’.Using a toothpick place small dots of buttercream on the backs of each firecracker and attach to the outside of the cake. Repeat with star confetti sprinkles. Use a pair of kitchen dedicated tweezers to apply them to the outside of the cake. Refrigerate cake. Bring to room temperature before serving.
    NotesThe cake’s texture improves after a night in the refrigerator. Consider making the layers a day ahead. After they cool, wrap in plastic and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. 
    If you can’t find SweeTarts cherry ropes, try using red licorice ropes or Twizzlers.

    Keyword buttermilk, cake flour, candy ropes, greek yogurt, licorice laces

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    Italian Cream Cake

    Italian Cream Cake is a classic! Three soft cake layers are loaded with pecans and coconut. Rich cream cheese frosting is the true hallmark of this cake.

    This is my family’s recipe for Italian Cream Cake. Years ago my mom gave me a book of hand-written family recipes. It’s something I treasure, and it’s extremely useful, too! This recipe comes from those pages. You probably know by now that I love a good homestyle cake. This one is a classic, known and loved by many. I made it for our Father’s Day luncheon last Sunday because it’s my father-in-law’s favorite cake.

    My mom included tips, tricks, and stories with each recipe in the book. Here is what was written alongside the cake entry.
    “Our family discovered this recipe in the 1970’s. We loved it. My recipe card has spots all over it where I made it so much. I once made it for a co-worker. He paid me $20 for it. I thought that was outrageous.”-mom
    Haha! Who else thinks $20 sounds like a steal? You can almost spend that on a bag of good pecans.

    The batter comes together quickly, even though there’s the task of dividing the eggs and whipping the whites separately. It’s an extra step but so worth it. The cream cheese frosting in this recipe is probably my favorite of all time. It’s so easy, so smooth, and pipes well. It tastes great and performs – what more can you ask for?

    Let’s just take a moment to look at that interior. The cake layers stay moist because the smooth cream cheese frosting seals all that moisture in.

    The rolled wafer cookies on top were my addition. They’re optional, but they make a quick and easy final flourish – and they’re tasty, too!

    Italian Cream Cake

    Heather Baird

    Italian Cream Cake’s beginnings are murky, but it is said to originate from an Italian baker that moved to the southern US. This is our family recipe, passed down to me from my mom. It’s a delicious classic cake that everyone should try at least once. (I’m certain you’ll be hooked!)Make sure the cake layers are completely cool before frosting them. Cream cheese frosting is soft and easily meltable.

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    Prep Time 20 minsCook Time 25 minsTotal Time 45 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American, Italian

    Servings 10

    Equipment8 inch cake pans, 3
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Cake layers1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature1/2 cup vegetable oil2 cups granulated sugar5 eggs yolks and whites divided2 cups flour1 teaspoon baking soda1 cup buttermilk1 teaspoon vanilla extract1 cup sweetened flake coconut1 cup chopped pecansCream cheese frosting and décors16 oz. cream cheese at room temperature1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature7 cups confectioners’ sugar 2 boxes, 1 lb. each2 teaspoons vanilla extract1/3 cup ground pecans8 pecan halves8 striped rolled wafer cookie I used Pirouettes
    Instructions Cake layersPreheat oven to 350F. Generously coat three 8-inch cake pans with flour-based baking spray (or grease and flour pans).In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter, oil, and sugar. Add egg yolks one at a time, beat well after each addition.In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda. Beat the flour mixture into the creamed butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk; begin and end with the flour. Add vanilla, coconut, and pecans.In a separate bowl, beat together egg whites to stiff peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter. Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown and set. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.Cream cheese frostingCream together the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the powdered sugar in two additions. Beat until smooth. Add vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat again until combined. Cover frosting with a damp towel to keep it from drying out while you work.Remove about 1 cup of the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large closed star tip. Set aside.AssemblyPlace a cake layer on a serving plate or cake stand. Top with a thin layer of frosting; stack another layer and frost. Top with the third cake layer. Apply a thin crumb coat of frosting to the outside of the cake. Refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes. Cover the cake with the remaining frosting. Smooth top and sides using a cake smoother or bench scraper. Immediately press the ground pecans onto the lower edges of the cake.Pipe eight large swirls of frosting on the top edge of the cake using the reserved piping bag of frosting. Immediately sprinkle swirls with leftover ground pecans. Place a pecan half between each swirl. Top each mound with a rolled wafer cookie.Refrigerate cake. Bring to room temperature before serving.

    Keyword chopped pecans, cream cheese frosting, sweetened flake coconut

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    Cherry Limeade Layer Cake

    Celebrate summer with this sweet and tangy Cherry Limeade Layer Cake, inspired by the iconic fizzy beverage from Sonic Drive-In.

    Cherry limeades are nostalgic for me. I’ve loved them for ages – since my high school days. They always bring back memories of marching band. I was drum major my senior year, and a cherry limeade was often my reward after marching and practicing for hours in the blistering sun. Maybe someday I’ll digress on that amazing life-changing and very disciplined experience here, but for now I’ll stick to the sweet stuff. Sonic Drive In was on the way home from school, and the cold fizzy beverage was like an antidote to the heat and exhaustion. I’ve translated those sweet, tangy flavors into a summery cake made for sharing!

    The alternating layers of cherry and lime are doused in simple syrup. Cherry syrup for the cherry chip layers, and key lime syrup for the lime layers. It gives the cake a damp, almost wet crumb and really turns up the volume on the flavors.

    Baste those cake layers just like a turkey at Thanksgiving! Use a lot of syrup for a wet crumb, or a little syrup if you’re looking for a more spongy cake crumb. The texture you see here is a result of using all of the syrup. This makes the cake layers delicate to stack, so take a little extra care when handling them. Making this cake reminds me a lot of my 7UP cake – another beverage inspired confection!

    Now that get-togethers are a thing again, this cake is perfect for a crowd of people. Five 8-inch rounds makes a tall, generous cake, so it’s perfect for potlucks and all kinds of summertime events. The flavors are so refreshing. And with the syrup-soaked layers, I think this cake is fantastic chilled.

    Frosty-looking frosting? Yes!
    A hefty cake requires a lot of frosting to fill and cover it all, so expect to use a lot of butter. I must have tried five different frosting techniques before I found one that suited my vision. I wanted the cake to look frosty (like accumulated ice crystals) and white buttercream smudges over chilled pink frosting worked well enough. Just drag the white frosting around the cake using a bench scraper and don’t aim for perfection. I think I may try this technique on a winter-themed cake.

    To finish, add a few swirls of frosting on top, and the all-important maraschino cherry and lime garnishes. Sonic Cherry Limeades have exactly two cherries in the bottom of their large cups, unless you ask for extra. I always do.
    Side note – I dip-dyed the napkins you see here back in May, which matched this cake perfectly! I loved using them here. You can find my tutorial on how to dip dye your own right here on Confetti Fix.

    See all those soaked layers stacked up? So packed with flavor! I recommend using key lime juice in a bottle, because it’s one of those conveniences that doesn’t sacrifice taste. Key limes are tiny with bold, tart flavor, and juicing a bunch of them for this recipe would be a total pain. If you can’t find key lime juice in a bottle, then regular bottled lime juice would work, as well as fresh-squeezed standard limes.

    The cherry chip layers are so speckled with chopped maraschinos. If you’ve ever made a cherry chip cake, then you may see a familiar flavoring – almond extract. It really brings forth the maraschino flavor. Together with the lime layers you can’t help but feel like it’s party time. It’s just an all-around FUN cake!

    I have a summer bucket list this year, which involves lots of family time and patio parties and picnics on the lawn. I can’t wait to share this treat with my people. And it’s certain that I’ll be sending them home with a few slices.

    Cherry Limeade Layer Cake

    Heather Baird

    Celebrate summer with this sweet and tangy Cherry Limeade Cake, inspired by the iconic fizzy beverage from Sonic Drive-In. I recommend using bottled key lime juice in this recipe because it shortcuts to work of squeezing lots of tiny limes. This recipe also calls for ‘cherry juice’. By this I mean the juice from the jar of maraschino cherries. The soaking syrup in this recipe can be variable. Use all of the syrup on the cakes for a wet crumb, or lightly brush for a little moisture. The picture shows the texture when using the entire amount of syrup.

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    Prep Time 1 hrCook Time 1 hrTotal Time 2 hrs

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 20

    Equipment8 inch round cake pans (3)cake smootherPiping bag with large closed star tip
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Cherry chip layers1 3/4 cups whole milk room temperature6 egg whites room temperature3 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice1 teaspoon pure almond extract2 1/4 cups granulated sugar3/4 cups unsalted butter room temperature3 1/3 cups cake flour1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder3/4 teaspoon fine grain salt1 drop red soft gel food color1 cup finely chopped maraschino cherriesCherry soaking syrup1 cup sugar1 cup water1/4 cup maraschino cherry juice2 teaspoons almond extractLime layers4 large eggs room temperature1 cup milk2 Tablespoons vegetable oil1/4 cup key lime juice2 1/2 cups cake flour1 1/2 cups granulated sugar1/2 teaspoon) salt2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder1 tablespoon lime zest fine1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter softenedA few drops of lime green soft gel food color such as Chefmaster Neon Brite GreenLime syrup1 cup sugar1 cup water1/4 cup key lime juiceLime buttercream and decors2 1/2 cups unsalted butter room temperature6 cups confectioners’ sugar6 tablespoons key lime juiceMilk or cream to thin1/2 teaspoon fine grain saltA few drops of soft red gel food color such a Chefmaster Super Red8 maraschino cherries with stems8 fresh lime wheels2 tablespoons white nonpareils optional
    Instructions Cherry chip layers and cherry syrupPreheat the oven to 350°F. Coat three round 8-inch pans with flour-based baking spray.In a large glass measure, whisk together the milk, egg whites, cherry juice, and almond extract.Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium-sized bowl.In the bowl of an electric mixer cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.Set the mixer to medium speed and alternately add the flour mixture and liquid mixture; begin and end with the flour. Scrape down the bowl. Continue mixing on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add a small drop of red gel food color; mix. Fold in the chopped cherries.Evenly divide the batter evenly between the 2 prepared pans. Bake 30 minutes, or until a toothpick tester comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool in the pans 5 minutes before turning them out on a wire rack to cool completely.For the cherry syrup, heat the sugar and water in a microwave-safe glass measure for 2 minutes at 100% power. Stir well until the sugar is dissolved. Add the cherry juice and almond extract; stir. Baste the cake layers on all sides using a pastry brush. Use all of the liquid for wet crumb, or use about half of the syrup for a drier crumb.Lime cake layers and lime syrupPreheat the oven to 350 degrees.Coat two round 8-inch pans with flour-based baking spray.In a large glass measure, combine the eggs, milk, vegetable oil, and lime juice. Whisk together until combined.In the bowl of an electric mixer add the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and lime zest. Whisk to combine.Turn the mixer to medium speed and add butter a little at a time. Increase to medium speed until the butter has coated the flour and the appearance resembles coarse wet sand.Slowly add half of the wet ingredients until a thick batter is achieved. Mix for 1 minute and scrape down the bowl. Add 1-2 drops of lime gel food color; mix. Add remaining wet ingredients and beat until incorporated. Divide batter between the two pans.Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool cakes 10 minutes in the pan and then turn out on a wire rack to cool completely.For the lime syrup, heat the sugar and water in a microwave-safe glass measure for 2 minutes at 100% power. Stir well until the sugar is dissolved. Add the lime juice; stir. Baste the cake layers on all sides using a pastry brush. Use all of the liquid for wet crumb, or use about half of the syrup for a drier crumb.Buttercream and assemblyCream the butter in the bowl of a large standing mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Add half of the confectioners’ sugar and mix until incorporated. Add the remaining sugar and mix on low. Dribble in the lime juice a tablespoon at a time. Increase mixer speed. Add milk or cream a little at a time to bring to spreading consistency. Beat in the salt. Whip on high speed for 3-5 minutes, until lightened and fluffy.Remove 1 1/2 cups of frosting to piping bag fitted with a large closed star tip. Cover the tip with a damp paper towel so the frosting doesn’t dry out.Begin with a cherry chip layer placed on a serving plate of cake board. Do this carefully if you used all of the soaking syrup as the wet cake layers will be delicate. Spread a thin layer of buttercream on top. Repeat process alternating lime and cherry cake layers. (Order: cherry, lime, cherry, lime, cherry.) Coat the entire cake with a thin layer of buttercream (crumb coat). Refrigerate until firm, 15 minutes.Tint the remaining frosting with 1 small drop of red gel food color. Mix well. Increase color intensity if desired with more food color (aim for a medium pinky-red color). Cover the chilled cake with the tinted buttercream and smooth evenly with a cake smoother or bench scraper. Refrigerate until firm, 15 minutes.Place a few dots of white frosting from the piping bag on the outside of the cake over the pink frosting. Use a cake smoother or bench scraper to lightly scrape the white frosting over the first layer of frosting. Don’t aim for a perfectly smooth surface, the outside edge should look like accumulated frost (small accumulated ice crystals).Use the bag of white buttercream to pipe 8 mounds of frosting on the top edge of the cake. Top each mound with a maraschino cherry. Add a fresh lime wheel half between each mound. Sprinkle over the white sprinkles, if using.Serve slices of cake at room temperature or chilled. Cakes with a wet crumb are especially good chilled and eaten on a hot day.
    NotesThis cake is more enjoyable to make if you divide the work over two days. Bake the cake layers and refrigerate them. Also make the soaking syrups. The next day baste the cakes, make the buttercream then fill, frost and decorate the cake.
    Hand the soaked cake layers with care. They will be tender and will break apart if not handled gently.
    Food colors in the cake layers can be optional. If you choose to leave them out, the cherry layers will be mostly colorless with specks of red throughout. The lime layers will be creamy light yellow.

    Keyword cherry chip cake, key lime buttercream, key lime cake, key lime juice, marachino cherries

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    Giant Hostess Cupcake Cake

    What’s better than a Hostess Cupcake? A super-sized one! This Giant Hostess Cupcake Cake is three chocolate layers with a cream-filled center and rich ganache frosting.

    Nostalgic childhood treats prove to be a very rich well of inspiration for me. You may remember this Snowball Cake that I made all the way back in 2012. It’s still such a favorite! Well, today I’m adding a new one to the recipe index. This Giant Hostess Cupcake Cake has been a while in the making, with repeat testing and even a few fails along the way. Now it’s just right. I’m totally obsessed with the texture of these cake layers. And, there’s a literal core of cream filling inside!

    It’s easy to complicate things when developing a recipe. Usually the secret to success is to keep things as simple as possible. I had to remind my self of that after a few setbacks. This recipe has three main components, each fairly simple. The first is really great chocolate cake. It freezes well and has a firm yet moist crumb. Second – whipped filling that’s actually a frosting your grandma might have made. Seven minute frosting is so light it’s almost like marshmallow. And third is good ol’ trusty ganache. You just can’t go wrong here!

    It’s what’s inside that counts.
    The filling little more than cooked egg whites and sugar with the whipping power of an electric mixer. It’s so easy. Always keep in mind that the enemy of meringue is fat. Always make sure your mixing bowl and whip is without a trace. To be sure, cut a lemon in half and wipe down the bowl with it. Do the same to the whip then wipe them down with a paper towel. This removes any trace of fat or grease.

    The word billowy comes to mind! Other frostings were attempted, but this one was the lightest and best contrasted all of that chocolate.

    The buttermilk cake layers don’t really puff up much during baking, so I didn’t even have to level them (who doesn’t love that?!). Cut out the centers of the bottom two layers using a large round cutter, or just free-hand it with a serrated knife.

    Fill the cake all the way to the top with that amazing fluff!

    Removing a cake slice reveals the creamy center, which will sigh down slightly, but won’t totally spill out of the cake. It just kind of relaxes.

    See? I feel relaxed just looking at it (wink). A slice of this cake will definitely remind you of the flavors of a Hostess Cupcake. The soft outer covering of creamy ganache just seals the deal. The creamy center makes this so decadent. I wish I could teleport a slice to each and every one of you!

    Serve slices on their sides instead of upright. They’ll be a little top heavy and the cream filling will ooze out otherwise. The flavor and texture of the chocolate cake is just outstanding. I refrigerated my layers overnight and I think this made the texture even better. Enjoy!

    Giant Hostess Cupcake Cake

    Heather Baird

    This Giant Hostess Cupcake Cake is three chocolate cake layers with a cream-filled center and rich ganache frosting. It’s a great all-purpose cake for nearly any special occasion. Save the cut-out cake centers. You’ll have a little leftover cream filling and can assemble your own personal-sized mini cake with the scraps and leftovers.

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    Prep Time 45 minsCook Time 35 minsTotal Time 1 hr 20 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 15

    Equipment8 inch round cake pans (3)
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Cake layers1 cup unsweet cocoa powder1 cup hot water1 cup unsalted butter room temperature2 cups granulated sugar4 large eggs room temperature1 teaspoon baking soda1 teaspoon fine grain salt1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder1 cup full fat buttermilk3 cups all-purpose flourGanache3 cups semisweet chocolate chips1 1/2 cups heavy creamCream filling1/2 cup egg whites about 2 1/2 egg whites, I used carton egg whites1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar1/2 teaspoon vanilla extractConfectioners’ glaze for décor1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar plus more if needed1-2 teaspoons of milk or cream plus more if needed
    Instructions Cake layersPreheat the oven to 350F. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans with flour-based baking spray.Combine the dark cocoa powder and hot water in a small bowl and whisk together until smooth and dissolved. Set aside.In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in eggs one at a time. Scrape down the bowl and mix again. To the creamed mixture add the baking soda, salt and baking powder. Mix again briefly.In a 4 cup or larger glass measure with a pour spout, combine the dissolved cocoa mixture and buttermilk. Whisk until combined.Mix in the flour in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk/cocoa mixture (Order: 1/3 of the flour, 1/2 the liquid, 1/3 flour, remaining liquid, remaining 1/3 flour). Mix on low speed until each is incorporated.Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool cakes in the pans for 5 minutes, then turn out to cool completely on wire racks. When cakes are cool, cut out and remove a 3.5 inch circle from two of the cakes. Save cake scraps for snacks, cake pops, or for a quick hot fudge sundae.GanachePour the chocolate chips in a large microwave-safe bowl. Add the cream and tamp the chips down into the cream so they are all covered. Microwave at 100% power for 2 minutes. Let mixture stand for 1 minute then whisk together until a shiny, thick ganache is formed. Transfer to the refrigerator to firm. Stir ganache intermittently until mixture is of soft spreading consistency, like buttercream, which should take about 20-30 minutes.Cream fillingBring a pot with 2 inches of water to a simmer. Place egg whites, cream of tartar and sugar into a stainless-steel mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Set the bowl on top of the simmering water and whisk constantly until the mixture is hot and sugar is dissolved. Check by rubbing a little of the mixture between your fingers. If the mixture is still grainy, keep whisking and cooking. Mixture is ready when the sugar is melted and an instant-read thermometer registers 160F.Remove the bowl from the simmering water and pour into an electric stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Beat for 5-7 minutes on medium high until the mixture is thick and billowy, and holds stiff peaks. Beat in the vanilla extract.Place a cake layer with a hole in the center on a cake board or server. Frost top edges with ganache. Top with the second cake layer with a hole in the center. Frost top with ganache. Pour cream filling into the center, filling the hole all the way to the top of the hole (You will have a little cream filling left over). Top with the final cake layer without a hole. Frost the entire cake with a crumb coat of ganache. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.Ganache will set, so re-heat, if necessary, in the microwave for 15-20 seconds, or until loosened. Remove cake from the refrigerator and apply a second thick coat of ganache.Confectioners’ glazeMix the confectioners’ sugar and 1 teaspoon of milk in a small bowl. Whisk together until a very thick paste is formed. It should hold in the balloon of the whisk and very slowly fall out. Use more or less of each of the sugar and milk to reach this correct consistency. Remove to a piping bag or zip-top bag with a small hole snipped in the corner. Pipe a series of consecutive loops on top of the cake in Hostess Cupcake fashion.Serve slices of cake on their sides instead of standing upright. The filling will fall out of the cake slices otherwise. Serve with ice cold glasses of milk for an extra dose of childhood nostalgia.Cover cake leftovers with plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.
    NotesIf you’re not using carton egg whites as I did, beat three whole egg whites lightly in a bowl, then pour into a 1/2 cup measure. 

    Keyword buttercream filling, chocolate cake, ganache frosting

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    Tiramisu Semifreddo

    Tiramisu Semifreddo is a mashup of two classic Italian desserts in frozen form. Frozen espresso mousse is surrounded by soft lady fingers and topped with sweet mascarpone cream.

    I’ve decided that this is my new favorite dinner party dessert for summer. It’s so decadent, but also silky and light in texture. And it’s so easy to make ahead! Assemble it days in advance and store it in the freezer, then bring it out when you need a beautiful ending to a meal.

    First thing, get yourself a couple of packages of soft lady fingers from your grocery store’s bakery. Line them up around the sides of a 9×5 inch loaf pan. Cover the bottom, too!

    Next whip up some egg yoks, sugar, and espresso in a double boiler. This makes a quick custard base for the espresso mousse. I always keep instant espresso powder on hand because I’m a Tiramisu fanatic (see here, here, and here). It’s so good in this recipe so I recommend using it! Delallo is a great brand of espresso powder.
    After the custard base cools, you’ll fold it with some lightly sweet whipped cream.

    Next, pour all that billowy espresso mousse into the lined loaf pan. It will fill the pan almost to the very top. Give the pan a few taps on the counter top to knock out any air pockets that might be hiding. Now its time to freeze! Three or four hours later, you’re ready to top it with fluffy mascarpone cream.

    Heavy cream and mascarpone cheese along with a little powdered sugar makes the perfect topping. But I couldn’t stop there.

    Indulge a little more!
    I couldn’t help myself! Tiramisu always needs a chocolate element (unless it’s my Quick Berry Tiramisu) so I went all in with a chocolate ganache, chocolate shavings, chopped almonds, and chocolate-covered coffee beans. The latter is courtesy of Sconza. I can’t say enough good things about their products. They are one of my favorite food gifts to give to colleagues, friends, family – everybody!

    Semifreddo means partially frozen. So if you’re expecting a frozen rock hard brick of dessert, then think again! Even well-frozen your knife will meet little resistance. The mousse stays soft. The texture is just so silky, and the lady fingers make it cake-like. And it becomes cloud-like as a slices warm to room temperature.

    Let’s end all of our summer dinners this way, okay? This dessert tastes restaurant-quality, and it’s not hard to make. The video below will help you get better acquainted with assembly.

    Tiramisu Semifreddo

    Heather Baird

    This restaurant quality dessert can be made a few days ahead and stored in your freezer. Enjoy the classic flavors of Tiramisu in frozen form.

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    Prep Time 25 minsCook Time 10 mins4 hours freeze time 4 hrsTotal Time 35 mins

    Course DessertCuisine Italian

    Servings 8

    Equipment9×5 inch loaf pan
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Semifreddo2 tablespoons instant espresso powder1 tablespoon hot water30 soft lady fingers4 large egg yolks1/2 cup granulated sugar1/4 cup dark rum1/4 teaspoon fine grain salt2 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream4 oz. mascarpone cheese5 tablespoons powdered sugarChocolate toppings1/2 cup heavy whipping cream1 cup finely chopped semisweet chocolate1/3 cup chocolate shavings1/4 cup chopped chocolate-covered espresso beans such as Sconza2 tablespoons chopped almonds
    Instructions SemifreddoDissolve the espresso powder in the hot water; set aside.Line a 9×5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap that overhangs all sides of the pan. Line the sides and the bottom of the pan with the lady fingers, standing up vertically around the sides of the pan. Tear small pieces of lady fingers and press into gaps in the bottom of the pan (see video).Fill a saucepan with 1 inch of water and bring to a simmer. Set a large metal bowl on top and add the egg yolks, sugar, rum, and salt. Add the espresso mixture. Whisk until the mixture thickens like custard. The mixture is ready when an instant read thermometer registers 160F. Remove from the heat and cool 5 minutes. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with the whip attachment until the bowl feels cool to the touch, about 5 more minutes.Beat 1 3/4 cups of the heavy cream on medium-high until slightly thickened. Add 3 tablespoons of the powdered sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the beaten espresso custard mixture. Spoon the mixture into the lined loaf pan. Smooth the top and tap on the counter top to remove air bubbles. Fold in the plastic wrap and freeze until solid, about 4 hours or overnight.Beat the remaining cream on medium-high speed gradually adding the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar. Add mascarpone a little at a time while beating. Whip to stiff peaks. Spread the top of the frozen semifreddo with the whipped mascarpone cream. Return to the freezer.Chocolate ganache and toppingsHeat the heavy cream in a saucepan until steaming but not boiling. Add in chopped chocolate. Let stand one minute and then whisk together. Let cool until thickened yet still pourable, about 15-20 minutes.Remove the semifreddo from the pan from the overhanging plastic. Unwrap and place on a serving tray. Cover with chocolate ganache. Sprinkle on chocolate shavings, chocolate-covered espresso beans, and almonds. Serve immediately or return to the freezer until set. When the chocolate is set, cover in plastic wrap until ready to serve.

    Keyword espresso mousse, mascarpone cream, soft lady fingers

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    Cheesecake Factory Copycat Celebration Cheesecake

    Perfect for any party, the Celebration Cheesecake is a star on The Cheesecake Factory’s dessert menu. Now you can make this copycat version at home!

    Get your sprinkles ready! This copycat dessert was inspired by The Cheesecake Factory’s famous Celebration Cheesecake, which debuted on their menus in 2017. It has a whopping 8 layers of flavor – actually 9 if you count the exterior. And lots of sprinkles. I love the original, but it’s been a goal of mine to figure out a scratch-made version. And here it is – The Cheesecake Factory Copycat Celebration Cheesecake.

    I know it looks like a lot of work, but it’s actually not that hard to make. First, let me give you an overview of the layers from top to bottom.
    Cream cheese frostingClassic cheesecakeBlue vanilla mousseFunfetti cakeChocolate mousseClassic CheesecakeStrawberry mousseFunfetti cake
    This cake looks like sweet overload, but it’s not the sugar coma you might expect. All the layers are well balanced. It helps that the mousse is fluffy and the cake is just sweet enough. It is rich, though! (But perhaps not as rich as this copycat cheesecake I made in 2011!)
    1. Prepare strawberry mousse. 2. Spread it in the pan. 3. Prepare chocolate mousse. 4. Layer one cheesecake over the strawberry mousse. 5. Pour chocolate mousse over cheesecake layer. 6. Spread chocolate layer evenly and freeze solid.
    Let’s get into it!
    To get started, the thin crustless cheesecake layers should be made first and frozen solid. As a result, they’re easier to work with. For the mousse layers, you’ll mix up one big batch of mousse. Then you’ll divide it into three bowls and flavor them. The confetti cake is baked as a single layer and then divided into two (torted). Not so bad, eh? Use the numbered pictorial as a guide for assembling the chocolate mousse, cheesecake, and strawberry mousse layers.
    Mix up the blue vanilla mousse and layer on top of a cheesecake. Freeze solid.
    I know this sounds repetitive, but it is essential that all of the mousse and cheesecake layers are frozen because they hold together for assembly. Therefore, I recommend making this recipe over the course of two days. Dedicate the first day to making all the layers. The second day can be for assembly and frosting.

    Assembly’s not so bad!
    Remove the frozen layers from their pans and start stacking! First, you’ll lay down a funfetti layer on a serving plate. Second, the frozen tri-layer of chocolate mousse, cheesecake, and strawberry mousse goes on. Third, invert the frozen bi-layer of vanilla mousse and cheesecake on top. Now you’re ready to cover it with cream cheese frosting.
    The exterior of the original tastes like cake crumbs or soft vanilla cookie pieces mixed with sprinkles. So I went with crushed Nilla wafers. I think they are just perfect.

    A few more confetti sprinkles on top, and you’re ready to party! This cake looks great with birthday candles on top, too.

    Fans of The Cheesecake Factory’s Celebration Cheesecake will love this version too. It’s a wonderful tribute to the original, and easy enough for the home baker. Just make sure you have plenty of people to share it with because a little goes a long way!
    Please note, no restaurant recipes were used in this dessert. It was inspired by the restaurant original, but developed with my own formulas.

    Cheesecake Factory Copycat Celebration Cheesecake

    Heather Baird

    The Celebration Cheesecake is a star on The Cheesecake Factory’s dessert menu. Now you can make this copycat version at home! Make this recipe over the course of two days. Dedicate the first day to making all the layers. The second day can be for assembly and frosting.
    The confetti cake formula in this recipe contains no eggs! It’s not an error.

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    Prep Time 2 hrsCook Time 1 hr 25 minsTotal Time 3 hrs 25 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 18

    EquipmentTwo 8×2 inch round cake pansOne 8×3 inch round cake pan (can be spring form)
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Crustless cheesecakes1/2 cup unsalted butter softened1/2 cup granulated sugar16 oz. cream cheese at room temperature3 tablespoons instant vanilla pudding2 eggs1 teaspoon baking powder1 teaspoon vanilla extractConfetti cake2 cups all-purpose flour3/4 teaspoon salt1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder1/2 teaspoon baking soda3/4 cup water1/2 cup vegetable oil3/4 cup granulated sugar4 teaspoons white vinegar1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract1/3 cup rainbow sprinkles jimmiesMousse layers1 envelope powdered gelatin .25 oz.2 tablespoons cold water3 egg yolks1/2 cup sugar1/2 cup hot milk microwave 40 seconds8 oz. white baker’s chocolate finely chopped1/3 cup fresh strawberry puree seeds sieved out1/2 teaspoon strawberry extract of flavoring oil such as Amoretti or LorAnn2 drops pink food color1/3 cup semisweet chips melted1 teaspoon vanilla extract2-3 drops blue food color1-2 drops purple food color1 3/4 cups heavy whipping creamCream cheese frosting and decors1/2 cup unsalted butter softened8 oz. cream cheese at room temperature1 teaspoon vanilla extract1/4 teaspoon salt3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar1 cup vanilla cookie crumbs such as Nilla3 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles jimmies3 tablespoons rainbow confetti sprinkles
    Instructions Crustless cheesecakesFill a 13×9 baking pan with hot tap water and place on the bottom oven rack. Preheat the oven to 325 F.Grease two 8” round cake pans with shortening, line the pans with parchment and then lightly grease the parchment.Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add cream cheese a little at a time until smooth. Beat in the powdered pudding mix. Scrape down the bowl and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Beat in baking powder and extract. Whip the mixture on high speed for 2 minutes, or until the mixture becomes lightened in color and fluffy.Divide the batter evenly between pans. Smooth batter with an offset spatula and bake for 35-40 minutes. Cheesecake will puff around the edges then deflate when removed from the oven. Do not turn out cheesecakes when they are finished baking. Put them directly in the freezer and leave until frozen solid, 4 hours.Confetti cakePreheat the oven to 350F. Coat an 8×3-inch round cake pan (springform, or otherwise) with flour based baking spray (or grease and flour pan).In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. In a separate bowl or in a liquid measure with a pour spout, combine the water, vegetable oil, sugar, vinegar, and vanilla. Whisk well.Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients with the mixer running on low speed. Blend until well combined. It’s ok if a few small lumps remain. Stir in the sprinkles. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes. Cake will not crown much, but if there’s a small upward bow in the center, press it down with a clean tea towel with a flat hand – and be careful of the hot pan edge and escaping steam when you do so.Turn out of the pan and let cool completely. Wrap in plastic cling film and refrigerate.Mousse layersIn a medium saucepan sprinkle the gelatin over water. Let stand for 1 minute until absorbed. Whisk in the eggs and sugar. Stir in the hot milk. Cook over medium heat whisking constantly. Mixture will thicken after about 5 minutes. Add in chopped chocolate and whisk until blended and even in color. Divide mixture evenly into three separate medium bowls (a little more than 2/3 cup per bowl). To one bowl, stir in the fresh strawberry puree, strawberry extract, and pink food color. In another bowl add the melted semisweet chips. Stir well until thoroughly combined. In the last bowl stir in the vanilla extract and blue food color. Add purple food color one drop at a time until a sky blue color is achieved (without the purple the hue will be turquoise/aqua). Allow all 3 bowls to cool slightly.In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the heavy cream to stiff peaks. Gently fold 1/3 of the whipped cream into each of three bowls. Stir well until no streaks of white remain in each bowl.Assemble cheesecake and mousse layersGently remove frozen cheesecakes from their pans. Trim off the puffed ring of cheesecake around the top edges of the cakes using a serrated knife. Wash the pans and line them with plastic wrap that overhangs all sides of the pans.Into one pan, pour the strawberry mousse and spread until even. Top the mousse with a frozen cheesecake layer. Pour the chocolate mousse over the cheesecake layer and spread evenly. Gently fold the edges of the plastic wrap in to cover the pan and transfer to the freezer.Into the other pan, place a cheesecake layer into the bottom. Top with the blue vanilla mousse and spread evenly. Fold in the edges of the plastic wrap to cover the pan and transfer to the freezer. Freeze both pans overnight, or for at least 4 hours.Cream cheese frosting and decorsCombine the butter and the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Beat on high until creamy and no lumps remain. Add vanilla extract and salt. Add confectioners’ sugar and mix on low until combined, then switch to high and beat until lightened in color and fluffy.In a separate bowl, combine the cookie crumbs and the rainbow sprinkles (jimmies). Reserve confetti sprinkles for the top of the cake.Assemble entire cakeUsing a cake leveler or serrated knife, evenly cut the confetti cake in two (torte horizontally). Place one layer on a serving plate or cake stand. Remove the chocolate mousse, cheesecake, and strawberry mousse layer from the freezer. Remove from the pan using the overhanging plastic. Unwrap and place so that the strawberry layer is touching the confetti cake layer. Next, add another confetti cake layer. Remove the blue mousse and cheesecake layer from the freezer. Remove from the pan using the overhanging plastic. Unwrap and place so that the blue vanilla layer is touching the confetti cake.Cover the sides of the cake with the cream cheese frosting. Pat on the mixture of cookie crumbs and sprinkles. Frost the top of the cake with the cream cheese frosting creating a swirl from the middle using an offset spatula. Sprinkle the top of the cake with the confetti sprinkles.Refrigerate cake until it is no longer frozen and just well chilled, about 2 hours.
    NotesIf you don’t have a 8×3 inch cake pan for the confetti cake, you can use two 8×2 inch pans. Divide the batter between the pans. Baking time will be decreased by about half.
     

    Keyword cream cheese frosting, funfetti cake, strawberry mousse, vanilla mousse

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    Butter Pecan Praline Cake

    Here’s a cake as southern as the Kentucky Derby itself! Butter Pecan Praline Cake is the perfect sweet treat to make for Derby Day, but it’s a favorite for all occasions.

    This cake is so nice, I made it twice!
    Derby Day is coming up and I wanted to make something special for the occasion. A cake brimming with butter, brown sugar, and pecan flavors seems fitting. It’s a southern favorite that I make year-round. It would be great for Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, or bookmark it for Thanksgiving because those brown sugar flavors taste just right when the leaves turn.

    I couldn’t resist making a horseshoe-shaped version of this cake loaded with red roses in true derby style. The pageantry – namely the blanket of red roses draped across the winning horse’s back – is truly a sight to behold. This cake pays homage to that.
    However, the original 3-layer version is a good no-frills, all-purpose recipe. So I made it, too! And you should make it any time you crave something that tastes like it came from a southern grandma’s kitchen.

    This cake is an easy task for home bakers. The buttery layers don’t rise much in the center, so they really don’t need much leveling, if any. The buttercream frosting is loaded with finely ground pecans. It lends itself best to big swirls with an offset spatula, but you can also pipe it! The ground pecans are fine enough to pass through a decorator tip.

    The only thing more it requires is some chopped pecans pressed into the bottom edge of the cake, and a sprinkle on top.

    The horseshoe garland cake.
    Bake the batter in a 13×9 pan instead of 3 round layers. Cut a horseshoe-shaped template from a piece of parchment and tack it onto the cooled cake using toothpicks. Give it a trim with a serrated knife and save the cake scraps for breakfast (or a trifle!).

    Cover the horseshoe in a thick layer of the butter pecan frosting. In addition, you’ll need a double batch of American buttercream tinted red for the roses. You can find my recipe for that here (or in the Sprinkle Bakes book!).
    Also, you can find my buttercream rose tutorial here. The same technique applies for these roses, except you’ll make them slightly smaller and pipe the roses on a #7 flower nail head. Scoot the flower off of the nail head using some flower-lifting scissors, or a spatula.

    Place each rose side-by side on the cake. I don’t think any two of my flowers were the same – ha! My advice is to aim for beauty, not perfection. Those are two very different things, in my opinion.

    So, now I have two Butter Pecan Praline cakes – guess I’d better get to sharing! I don’t think I’ll have a problem finding any takers, do you?
    The recipe below gives the instructions for the 9-inch round layer cake, and you’ll find directions for the horseshoe cake in the recipe notes.

    Butter Pecan Praline Cake

    Heather Baird

    This Butter Pecan Praline Cake is a southern favorite. It’s perfect for Derby Day, but it’s welcome at our table at any time of year!Be sure to use the spoon and sweep method when measuring the flour, and sift it so the baked cake has a light, fluffy texture.

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    Prep Time 25 minsCook Time 30 minsTotal Time 55 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American, Southern United States

    Servings 12

    Equipment3 round cake pans, 9 inches each
    Ingredients  Brown sugar cake layers3 cups all-purpose flour1/2 teaspoon baking powder1/2 teaspoon baking soda1/2 teaspoon salt1 cup unsalted butter room temperature1 cup light brown sugar1 1/2 cups granulated sugar4 large eggs room temperature1 tablespoon vanilla extract1 1/4 cups whole milkButtercream pecan frosting2/3 cup unsalted butter6 cups powdered sugar1/2 cup heavy cream or milk1 tablespoon vanilla extract1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt1 cup pecans finely ground1 cup chopped pecans
    Instructions Brown sugar cake layersPreheat oven to 350 °F. Spray three 9″ round cake pans with flour-based cooking spray.Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter until creamy. Add brown sugar and granulated sugar and beat until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Mix well with each addition. Add vanilla extract and beat until well-blended.Add 1/2 of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture. Add in all the milk; mix well. Add remaining flour mixture and combine until just incorporated. Using a large rubber spatula, scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl and fold together by hand so that all ingredients are well incorporated.Divide batter evenly into the prepared pans, slightly more than 2 cups of batter per pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick tester comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pan 7-10 minutes. Turn layers out of pans to rest a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.Butter Pecan FrostingIn the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the butter until creamy. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Drizzle in a little heavy cream. Gradually add remaining powdered sugar alternating with the heavy cream. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the mixing bowl with a spatula so that all ingredients are well incorporated. Add vanilla and salt; beat well. Beat in the 1 cup of finely ground pecans.Fill cakes with the frosting and stack; coat the outside of the cake with a thin crumb coat of frosting. Refrigerate until firm, 15 minutes. Cover the outside of the cake with swirls of frosting. Press chopped pecans onto the bottom edge of the cake. Transfer leftover frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large open star tip. Pipe stars around the top edge of the cake. Immediately sprinkle chopped pecans over the stars.
    NotesFor the horseshoe cake, bake the cake batter in a 13×9 inch pan for about 50 minutes. Tent the top of the cake if it begins to overbrown.
    Lay a piece of parchment paper flat on a work surface. Lay the bottom of a 13×9 inch pan on the parchment and trace around it. Cut out the shape. Draw a horseshoe within the shape and cut it out to use as a template. Lay the template on the baked, cooled cake and tack down onto the cake with toothpicks. Carve around the cake using a serrated knife. Save cake scraps for cake pops, trifles, or snacking.
    Make the butter pecan buttercream as directed and frost the entire cake. Tint two batches of American buttercream red (scroll to the bottom of this post for recipe). Pipe roses using #104 petal tip onto #7 flower nails (see this post for buttercream roses tutorial). Transfer to the top of the horseshoe cake using flower lifting scissors or a spatula.

    Keyword brown sugar cake, butter pecan frosting

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    Cabbage Cake

    Freshly picked from my kitchen to yours, this “Cabbage” is made of butter cake layers filled with toffee-speckled buttercream. The trompe l’oeil exterior is molded using real cabbage leaves!

    Baking has always been my happy place, but making this cabbage cake was the most fun I’ve had in a while! I got the idea for it while browsing some old pastry periodicals. I’ve made little chocolate leaves plenty of times. You just paint chocolate right onto a mint or rose leaf, let it set, and then peel away to reveal your edible foliage. This was the same idea, but on a much larger scale!

    Start with a sturdy cabbage with big waxy-looking leaves. I did a test run and found savoy cabbage to be the most convincing because of their deeply veined leaves. They also have a pretty frilly edge.
    Pick off about 6 or 7 leaves. Wash and dry them thoroughly.

    Choose your coating.
    A few leaves were tested with white chocolate, and others with vanilla almond bark. Both came out pretty and looked just the same, but the almond bark is less meltable while you’re handling it so that’s what I used. Almond bark is a confectioners’ coating with a silly name because it doesn’t actually have any almonds in it. But that’s a story for another time.
    Use what you prefer, but if you have very warm hands then you might want to consider using the less melty almond bark as a fail safe. I tinted these leaves bright green (maybe a little too bright?!) with a combo of green and yellow oil-based candy coloring. Coat the inside of the cabbage leaves using a soft art brush. Make sure to go all the way out to the curly tips.

    Don’t underestimate the amount of chocolate/candy you’ll need here! There’s a lot of real estate to cover on these big curved leaves. And they require a second coat for stability. You’ll need about 48 oz. which could be very costly using real white chocolate. Two 24 oz. packages of almond bark would get the job done cost effectively.
    Crumple up some aluminum foil to make a cradle for the leaves. The coated leaves are heavy! The aluminum foil helps them keep their curve.

    Chill the double-coated leaves in the refrigerator until they are firm. It’s so much fun peeling the leaves away from the chocolate. Because the leaves are so waxy, like silicone, they don’t stick!

    Kids will love this. If you don’t want to make a whole cake you could just have fun making the cabbage leaves. There’s absolutely no trace of cabbage flavor on the candy leaves, if you were curious.

    The cake!
    Underneath those leaves I built a 6-inch butter cake with toffee bits folded into the buttercream. It is a tasty little treat!

    Keep this cake on the small side. The leaves should be able to fit around the entire cake comfortably, with most of them resting and meeting at the top center.

    Round the top of the cake by carving away the top edge. Doing this is important because it helps the curved leaves have something to easily form to. You want the cake to bear the weight of the leaves.

    The leaves are heavy so stick the first three leaves on to the freshly iced cake then refrigerate it. It’s important that this base layer is sturdy, because more heavy leaves will be added.

    Re-heat your leftover green candy and use it as glue to stick the remaining leaves on. If it seems to take a long time for the leaves to stick together, tie some kitchen twine around the center of the assembled leaves. This will hold it all together until the candy dries.

    Remove a leaf or two to cut the cake, or you could smash it open if you were into theatrics (or if you’re in front of a crowd – I would totally do this at a family dinner!).

    I will go on record to say, this is the yummiest cabbage I’ve ever tasted! (Hehe.) If you like the looks of this cake, then you might like to see my Peas and Carrots cake right here.

    I learned so much from making this cake, and I’m already planning another one in a different color. Be sure to check out the video to see the entire assembly.
    Remember folks, Eat Your Veggies!

    Cabbage Cake

    Heather Baird

    Freshly picked from my kitchen to yours, this “Cabbage” is made of butter cake layers filled with toffee-speckled buttercream. The trompe l’oeil exterior is molded using real cabbage leaves.I use a special oil-based food color to tint the candy. This can be found at specialty baking shops and online. Or, you could leave the candy untinted for a white cabbage. Semisweet chocolate or chocolate almond bark can also be used for a dark brown chocolate cabbage, which is cute, too!

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    Prep Time 1 hrCook Time 30 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 10

    Equipmentsoft bristle art brushaluminum foilkitchen dedicated tweezerskitchen twine
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Cabbage leaves7-8 savoy cabbage leaves washed and patted dry48 oz. vanilla/white almond bark or white chocolateGreen oil-based candy food colorYellow oil-based candy food colorCake1 1/2 cups unsalted butter softened2 1/2 cups sugar5 eggs at room temperature1 tablespoon vanilla extract3 cups all-purpose flour1 teaspoon baking powder1/2 teaspoon salt1 cup whole milk at room temperatureButtercream frosting2 cups unsalted butter softened8 cups confectioners’ sugar1 teaspoon vanilla extractMilk or cream if necessary1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt1/3 cup toffee bitsGreen food colorAssembly1/2 cup chocolate cookie crumbs
    Instructions Cabbage leavesPlace the savoy cabbage leaves on a large baking sheet. Melt the white candy/chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl in 30 second increments. Stir well in between heating, and use the residual heat from the bowl to melt the candy. This will prevent over-heating. Stir in the food colors a little at a time until a bright green color is achieved.Pour about 1/4 cup of the candy into a cabbage leaf and use the art brush to spread the candy all the way to the edges. Crumple a piece of aluminum foil to cradle the leaf and return the leaf to the baking tray. Repeat the process with remaining leaves. Allow the leaves to stand until set Re-heat candy if needed and give the leaves a second coat. Transfer to the refrigerator while you prepare the cake. Reserve leftover candy.CakePreheat the oven to 350F. Coat four 6-inch cake pans with flour-based baking spray.In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until lightened in color and fluffy, about 4 minutes.Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk; begin and end with flour. Beat until the batter is smooth and thoroughly combined.Divide batter between pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cakes are golden on top and a toothpick tester comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in the pan. Invert and transfer cakes to cooling racks. Cool completely, then level the tops of the cake using a serrated knife or cake leveler.ButtercreamIn the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together the butter and sugar. Begin mixing on low speed until the mixture is crumbly. Increase to high and beat for 3 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and beat again for another minute until light and fluffy. Beat in the sea salt. If the buttercream is too stiff, add milk or heavy cream 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture is of spreading consistency.Remove 1/2 of the frosting to a bowl and fold in the toffee bits. Tint the remaining frosting green using the food color.AssemblyPeel fresh lettuce leaves away from the candy. If pieces of fresh cabbage stick into grooves, remove them with a pair of kitchen-dedicated tweezers. Set aside.Place a cake layer on a serving plate or cake stand. Fill and stack using the toffee buttercream and other cake layers. Chill the cake for 30 minutes. Trim away the top edge of the cake using a serrated knife to create a dome shape. Cover the entire cake with the green buttercream. Reserve leftover buttercream.While the buttercream is fresh and tacky, position three cabbage leaves around the cake, allowing the curved edges of the leaves to rest against the top dome of the cake. Refrigerate until firm.Re-heat leftover green candy and have green frosting ready to hand.Stack more leaves around the cake, covering any large gaps. Use a small art brush to dab dots of melted candy where the edges of the leaves meet the other leaves. Tie kitchen twine around the center of the assembled leaves to hold them in place while they set. Transfer the cake to the refrigerator to speed setting. Use dots or swirls of frosting to fil in any gaps using an offset spatula.Before serving, remove the kitchen twine and spoon chocolate cookie crumbs (‘dirt’) around the edge of the cake.To serve, disassemble one or two lettuce leaves at a time; cut the cake into servings. Break the leaves into pieces and serve alongside slices of cake.
    NotesMake sure cabbage leaves are completely dry before using.
    Chocolate and candy food colors are found at kitchen specialty shops and online. See blog post for resources.
     

    Keyword butter cake, savoy cabbage leaves, toffee bits, vanilla almond bark

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