Sunday, February 26, 2012

And the Oscar goes to....

Coca Cola Caramel cupcakes with salted buttercream and popcorn garnish

It is a big night for film buffs and fashionistas. Not the best time of year to forgo cable for cheaper forms of media entertainment, alas I will have to stream the event through my trusty laptop. I haven't seen many of the films up for the illustrious award - shameful for a film school graduate - but I won't let that keep me from cheering on my favorite thespians and making some kind of event out of it.

If you're planning an Oscar do, here are a few ideas to round out the night:
  1. Coca Cola caramel cupcakes with salted buttercream frosting and popcorn garnish
  2. Oscar night printables from Twig and Thistle - including ballots, popcorn boxes, dink tags and place cards
  3. An older version of Twig and Thistle's Oscar night printables and serving suggestions.
  4. Oscar party printables from Hostess with the Mostess
Have fun!

When In Doubt, Just Add Sprinkles

Chocolate Almond Butter Balls with nonpareils
My eldest is my picky eater. There is nary a food in the world she will eat unless it resembles a sweetie of some kind. This is genetic, I am certain of it. A chip off the ol' block, really.  She rarely gets sugary things, except those with naturally occurring sugars like fruit. So when we do make treats (a.k.a incentives to eat the veg on her plate) I try to make them healthy-ish but still appear to be sweet-ish. Hence the chocolate almond butter ball rolled in sprinkles.

This recipe first appeared in my uber healthy mother-in-law's arsenal. I'm trying to find the original source, so if you recognize it, do let me know! They are packed with good things like sunflower seeds, nuts and flax but there is enough cocoa and almond butter to hide the good-for-you my daughter does not know, or readily acknowledge, that they are not sweeties. My mother-in-law rolls them in coconut flakes at the end, but this did not go over well with my kiddos. Colourful nonpareils, that's a party on a plate. Yes it adds to the sweet factor, but by so little - and it is the kicker that eliminates 10 rounds of will she/won't she eat her carrots.

Here is the recipe I adapted from my mother-in-law's version.  Easy peasy:

1/2 cup cocoa powder (I use raw cocoa powder but any will do)
1/2 almond butter (or any nut butter)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup quinoa flakes (or rolled oats if you're not sensitive to them)
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup ground flax (or wheat germ)
1/2 cup flax seeds
1/2 cup toasted almonds (or hazelnuts or any nut)
nonpareils (optional)

Mix everything together. Spoon into hand and roll into balls. Roll each ball in a dish of nonpareils or sprinkles. Voila. Enjoy!

Chocolate almond butter balls covered in sprinkles...I ran out of nonpareils.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

It's a Rainbow Song for You!

White chocolate cake with white chocolate buttercream filling and frosting.
 My firstborn is turning five. This is both exciting and troubling as I scour the recesses of my mind to remember the cherub cheeked infant who used to call me "Mimi" instead of mommy...the toddler who, when she found her legs, ran belly first and head back at such a clip I was sure she was channeling Chariot's of Fire. Troubling how these memories are fading.

She's not a baby anymore. She's innocence, discovery, independence and attitude. She's a good fighter. I secretly like this about her when it doesn't exhaust me. She's brave. So brave. I'm secretly jealous of her courage when it doesn't send my adrenals into shock or add to the grey at my temples.

Resilient but fragile. Strong but would crawl back in the womb if she could. Desirous of constant attention but easily distracted. A total ham and ridiculously dramatic. That's what my little girl is made of.

Happy Birthday my sweet Madelaine Grace. A rainbow cake for you in honor of all the color you've brought into my life.

 The Cake:
Inspired by two fabulous cakes I first spotted on Pinterest:
Sprinkle Bakes
Rainbow Cake

The cake recipe is adapted from Anna Olson's White Chocolate cake. The measurements below yielded five 9" layers of cake and enough buttercream to fill, crumb coat and final coat the cake: 

White Chocolate Buttercream

  • 4 cups unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 32 ounces belgian white chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 4 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
In a stand-up mixer or in a large bowl with electric beaters, beat butter until fluffy. Beat in cooled melted chocolate on medium speed. Reduce speed and beat in icing sugar, vanilla and salt (icing will be a little soft). If needed, chill for about an hour to set before using.
White Chocolate Cake
  • 1 1/3 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 2/3 cups sugar
  • 8 large eggs at room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream at room temperature
  • 16 ounces white belgian chocolate, chopped
  • colored food gels
  • Preheat oven to 325 F (160 C). Grease and flour 9" cake pans with 2-inch sides and line bottom with parchment paper.
  • In a stand-up mixer or in a large bowl with electric beaters, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, and stir in vanilla.
  • In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour to butter mixture in 4 additions, alternating with cream, blending well after each addition.
  • Melt chocolate in a bowl over barely simmering water, stirring until almost melted. Remove from heat and continue to stir until melted. Pour warm chocolate into cake batter while blending.

  • Pour batter into 5 bowls in even amounts. I use a kitchen scale to get as close to the same amount of batter as possible. Add color to bowls one at time and in small amounts. Stir and add until you get the desired color. You don't need much and the batter is slightly yellow so you may need to play with color variation to get as true to the color as you want. 
  • Pour colored batter into each prepared pan and bake until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Allow cake to cool 30 minutes, then remove from pan to cool completely. Wrap cake and store in fridge (or freeze) until ready to assemble.
  • To assemble, slice cake tops horizontally to get a flat, even top. Spread  buttercream on bottom layer and repeat with the next layer. Crumb coat outside of cake on top and sides to cover and level. Chill for about two hours - until crumb coat is firm.

  • Cover with the rest of the buttercream and decorate anyway you wish!  

I usually do 6 layers, but I didn't have yellow gel colour when I made this...