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Casual Confections Kids (CCK) – Cakesicles

CCK is back with another bake designed and executed by an almost-four-year-old. It all started with his grandfather’s birthday.

“Oh, it’s GP’s birthday! We need to make him a cake!”
“What kind of cake do you want to make for him?”
“A chocolate chip cake!”

As I showed him different photos for inspiration on what we could do with the chocolate chip cake idea, he spotted a set of colorful popsicles.

“Let’s make those!”
“We can do that. Those are cake.”
“Really?!”

The kid was hooked. We ordered two mini cakesicle molds and some small popsicle sticks.

Cakesicle Prep
Cakesicle molds and popsicle sticks

After a few more discussions about what flavor the cake and icing would be, we landed on chocolate cake with chocolate chips and chocolate icing. Perfect! The birthday boy loves chocolate and this would be far from chocolate overload.

Since we only had two molds, we used half a box of Devil’s Food cake mix and applied my usual modifications (butter for oil and double the amount, milk for water). Note: when making half of a box mix, be sure to half the wet ingredients. Store the rest of your dry mix in a sealed baggie and be sure to mark what type of mix it is, the expiration date, and any instructions you still need from the box. (These can easily be made with cake made from scratch, too.)

The small baker excitedly put on an orange apron and chef’s hat and got to work using the hand mixer. He did need some help after a while as the mixer is still big for his small hands, but he did a great job for his first solo mixer run! The junior baker wanted to also make this a mint cake, so we added some peppermint extract to the batter.

When the batter was ready, we greased a 9″ x 13″ cake pan, poured in the batter, and got ready to put it in the oven.

“WAIT! We forgot the chocolate chips!”

Indeed we had! Instead of scraping the batter back into the bowl, we poured a layer of chocolate chips on top of the batter in the pan, knowing the cake would rise over them (especially since I did not coat them). The pan then went into the oven, following the box instructions for time and temp.

Meanwhile, I had taken some leftover chocolate-flavored black American buttercream out of the freezer to thaw overnight. While the cake was in the oven, we let the buttercream sit out on the counter to further soften up. Since we were going to be mixing it directly into the cake, we did not re-whip it.

After the cake came out of the oven and cooled on a rack, we dug our hands in. This was a fun part for the junior baker. You crumble the cake into small bits in a bowl using your hands. This is great for kids because they can just go wild. After crumbling our cake to pieces (the chocolate chips had become melted chocolate at this point), we added two tablespoons (cereal spoons, not measuring spoons) of buttercream to the bowl. Now, we got really messy! We used our hands to blend the buttercream with the cake until it was one wet cakey mixture.

Now it was time to see how this mixture went into the molds. Since this was my first go, I greased the molds. The quality of the molds is so good, though, that they do not require greasing. My molds will be ungreased next time.

We continued to use our hands and pressed the mixture into the molds. Each cavity holds a surprising amount of cake mixture! After filling our eight molds, we slid a popsicle stick into each one. The design of the molds makes this step super easy as there is a rest for the stick and a slot for it to slide into. You still need to be a bit careful so you’re not pointing the stick up or down when sliding it in as this may cause the stick to pop out of the cake.

We hand plenty of mixture left and decided to make some cakepops. We took a small handful of mixture and rolled it between our palms until we had circles. Then we carefully pushed a lollypop stick into the center. We lined a baking sheet with wax paper and placed the cakepops and cakesicle molds on it. Once everything was shaped and molded, the entire sheet was popped into the freezer to set overnight.

Cakesicles in the freezer
Cakesicles and cakepops setting in the freezer overnight

The next day, we took the sheet out of the freezer. The cakepops stayed sitting where they were. We took the cakesicle molds and popped the cakesicles out. This was super easy! Start at the top and slowly push the cakesicle up and out. We placed the unmolded cakesicles onto the wax paper with the cakepops. While these sat out, we melted a bag and a half of dark chocolate candy melts in a double boiler. They melted fairly quickly. We poured our candy melts into a large red Solo cup for easy dipping since the cakesicles are tall. We took turns dipping our cakesicles first, since we’d need our melts to be higher up in the cup. While dipping the cakesicle, be sure to slowly turn the treat to get a good coating, especially around the area of the stick. Slowly pull the treat out of the melts and turn your treat right-side-up so that any chocolate on the top falls down onto to cakesicle or cakepop. The melts started to cool down and get a bit harder to work with as we went on, but that is easily fixed by reheating or adding newly melted candy melts to the mix to get it a bit more runny again.

After each dip, we added colorful sprinkles. Junior baker had his choice of sprinkles and made his own mix.

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Making our own sprinkle mix for cakesicles

The first couple cakepops we tried rolling them in the sprinkle mix, but the melts were still too warm and the sprinkles carried them right off the pop in dollops. The cakesicles did not have that issue as much because we did not roll them, we just pressed them into the sprinkles. After a few attempts with pressing and rolling, we both decided to use our fingers to sprinkle the sprinkles onto the pops and cakesicles. Instead of setting the cake pops in a stand so they were upright, we placed them right back on the wax paper, resulting in flat sides. This was fine by us as the pops were extras and were just for fun.

The candy melt coating set very quickly and letting the cakesicles and pops set on the wax paper worked out perfectly. Since junior baker wasn’t going to see GP for a few days, we needed to sore the cakesicles. Once they were completely set, we lined an airtight container with wax paper and placed the cakesicles inside. Each layer of cakesicles was topped with a piece of wax paper to keep them separated. The candy melt coating does lock in the moisture of the cake and help keep it preserved, but popping these guys in the freezer if you don’t need them for a while helps to extend their shelf life.

Now it was time to sample our work. The junior baker and I each took a cake pop and bit in. They were delicious! The various chocolate flavors (dark chocolate candy melts, Devil’s food cake, black chocolate buttercream, chocolate chips) combined with the peppermint extract resulted in a very tasty bite. The sprinkles, especially, gave the pop an extra crunch that really tied the treat together.

I highly recommend cakesicles as a bake to do with kids, especially smaller kids. They can have a lot of freedom in making them without you needing to make sure they’re not over-mixing or adding the wrong thing or doing something unsafe. Everything they get their hands into can be licked off immediately (the cake is baked, the buttercream is made, the candy melts can be tried as long as they’re not too hot) without worry. Doing them in two parts (baking and molding one day, dipping and decorating the second) means that each part does not take long, making it easy to keep the kids engaged before they reach the end of their attention spans. Plus, they get to eat what they created. Seeing their faces when they taste just how good the treat is and your remind them that they made that themselves, is priceless. It’s a great exercise and confidence boost for them.

So order at least four molds (I immediately ordered more after we were done) for a half cake (eight for a whole) and start planning your flavors with your favorite junior baker.

Have you tried one of our CCK bakes? If so, post your pictures in the comments, on our Facebook page, on Instagram, or on Twitter! Be sure to use the hashtags #CasualConfectionsKids #CasualConfections and #WeKeepItMessy!

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Surprise Inside Cake – Pinky the Ghost

A surprise inside cake looks simple enough. It’s a cake of any flavor with a design or different color cake inside of it. One complaint I’ve seen pop up in a lot of conversation about surprise inside cakes is that the design typically ends up dry since it’s baked twice. Having baked one now, I can see how easily that can happy but I also see room for tweaks to prevent that from happening.

For this experiment, I kept the cake simple so that I could focus on trying my hand at the technique. To figure out my approach, I checked out cakes by i am baker and My Cupcake Addiction. I love the colors in My Cupcake Addiction’s love heart cake and may try that as a rainbow surprise in a future surprise inside cake. For my first try, I opted to use a ghost cookie cutter to make Pinky, one of the Pac-Man ghosts.
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Surprise Inside Cake

1 box of white cake mix
1 box of devil’s food cake mix
coloring gel

Prepare one box of white cake mix either by using the instructions on the box or by the modified box method substituting melted butter for oil and milk for water. Add desired color (in this case, I added red with a dab of black to get a muted pink color). Line a cookie sheet or sheet pan with parchment paper and pour batter onto pan. Bake at 350F for 23 mins (or as described on the box).

Place a piece of parchment paper on a cutting board large enough to place the cake on. When the cake comes out of the oven, place the paper and cutting board on top of the cake and flip it so that the cake sits on the board. Lift the pan and peel off the parchment paper that is now on top. Pop the cake on the board into the freezer for 10-30 mins to firm up. This will help prevent the cake from crumbling as much when you use the cutter. Select a cookie cutter for your design and make sure it’s small enough to sit in the cake pan you’re using for the final cake. My ghost cutter ended up being slightly taller than what I needed it to be. Remove the sheet cake from the freezer. Flip the cake over again and remove the parchment paper. Trim the top of the cake with a knife to remove the browned part of the cake and reveal the brighter colors underneath. Use the cutter to cutout shapes from the sheet cake. Cut the shapes close to each other to maximize the number of cutouts. Any extra make tasty snacks.

Arrange the cutouts on the same cutting board and pop the board back in the freezer for at least 30 mins (I did 30 but will let them freeze longer next time to better prevent the moist batter of the second cake from soaking into the cutouts).

Prepare the second box mix as above (either via the box or modified). Using a rubber spatula, place some of the batter on the bottom of a greased and floured bundt cake pan and spread it out to cover the bottom of the pan. My Cupcake Addiction suggests a half inch of batter. Bake this layer of batter at 350F for 7 mins.

Take the pan out of the oven and immediately spread a layer of raw batter on top of the baked layer in the pan. The new batter will thin out quickly since it’s going on top of hot cake. These layers of cake and batter will help to hold the cutouts in place. Take the cutouts out of the freezer and start placing them in the pan. The top of the cutout should be in the bottom of the pan (remember, the cake is upside-down in the pan). The cutouts can be arranged close to each other or with lots of space in between depending on how your want your slices to look. A more spaced out arrangement will result in not knowing whether you’ll get an all devil’s food slice or a slice with a surprise design when the cake is served. If you do a more crowded arrangement, leave some space for batter in between. Don’t press them together too tightly.

Place the rest of the batter into a large piping bag. Cut a wide tip at the bottom. Using the bag helps to get the batter between the cutouts and between the cutouts and the edges of the pan. Pipe the batter into all the sections around the cutouts. After filling the sides and in between, pipe the batter on the top of the cutouts to cover them. Since my ghost cutouts were a bit too tall, my batter did not completely cover them. I used a rubber spatula to try to coat exposed areas of cutouts with batter to encourage the cake to cover them all. When done, tap the pan on the counter a few times to get the batter to fill any gaps. Bake at 350F for 33-35 mins (or as long as directed on the box). Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 mins before flipping it over. The cake should release easily. When ready to serve, cut slices and enjoy the surprise image inside.

 

 

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Survival by Chocolate: A Dementor Salve

A quick recap from the last post: I was recently asked if I would donate some goodies to a fund raising event for a local chapter of The Harry Potter AllianceCavendish Brewing Company was hosting a Yule Ball and was interested in treats for their room of requirement as well as pieces for the auction. I couldn’t resist supporting a good cause and coming up with themed bakes!

The second recipe to share from this experience is for my Survival by Chocolate: A Dementor Salve cake. This is pretty simple to put together and tastes amazing! This was an auction item for the night.

Start with a chocolate cake. I made a devil’s food cake but dark chocolate would work very well, too. I baked this one into two 9” rounds.

Then, make a Nutella buttercream. My Baking Addiction’s recipe utilizes a lot of powdered sugar and produces enough buttercream to top a large batch of cupcakes or very generously frost a 9” cake. I still had enough leftover buttercream to mix it with my cake scraps to make three large parfaits! Check out the recipe and notes on the site: https://www.mybakingaddiction.com/nutella-cupcakes/

To really help bring out the flavor of the Nutella, be sure to generously add baked and chopped hazelnuts and top with a chocolate ganache. For the ganache on this cake, I used a 1:1 ratio of heavy cream to chocolate.
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Survival by Chocolate: A Dementor Salve

Bake a devil’s food cake in two 9” round pans. Once the cakes have cooled completely, trim the tops so that they are flat. Save cake scraps for later. Add a generous amount of buttercream to the top of the first round. Make sure the buttercream layer is level. Sprinkle some chopped hazelnuts on top. Place the second round on top of the buttercream and nut layer. Add buttercream to the top of the new layer. Frost the sides of both cake layers. Work frosting until the top and sides are smooth. Save extra buttercream for later. Pour the chocolate ganache over the entire cake. Decorate with more chopped hazelnuts.

Chocolate Hazelnut Buttercream:
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 13-oz jar of Nutella or other chocolate hazelnut spread
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1.5 lbs confectioner’s sugar, sifted
6-8 Tbsp heavy cream or milk

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and Nutella until well combined, thick, and fluffy (about 5 mins). Slowly add the confectioner’s sugar and continue mixing until well-blended.

Add vanilla and 3 Tbsp of heavy cream. Blend on low speed until moistened. Add an additional 3-5 Tbsp of heavy cream (I used 5) until you reach the desired consistency. Beat at high speed until frosting is smooth and fluffy (about 3 mins).

Chocolate ganache:
6 oz milk chocolate baking chocolate, broken or chopped into pieces
6 oz heavy cream

Heat heavy cream on the stove or in the microwave. For the microwave, heat for 45 seconds to 1 minute. Cream should be steaming but not boiling. Keep a close eye on it.

Pour heated cream over the chocolate pieces. Let sit for 2-3 minutes to melt the chocolate. Stir using a whisk until the chocolate and cream are well-blended into a rich chocolate sauce. Pour ganache over cake (cake should be sitting on a cooling rack that is over a cookie sheet covered with plastic, parchment, or wax paper to catch the drippings).

Using the leftovers:
Place the scraps left from leveling the cake rounds into a bowl. Add all of the extra buttercream to the scraps. Stir until combined. Spoon mixture into cups, layering with hazelnuts. Top with whipped cream or serve over vanilla ice cream. Serve as parfaits.