Chocolate and Vanilla Checkerboard Cake

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Greetings! It has been quite awhile since my last post. This last semester was quite rough, and ain’t nobody got time for baking…or sleeping for that matter. But now, I have officially finished my undergraduate studies, and it’s time to tackle bigger and tougher projects! For this post, I tried making a chocolate and vanilla checkerboard cake. The first time I saw this kind of cake was at Lady M Confections in New York City. It was absolutely incredible. Naturally, I wanted to try making it–challenge accepted, if you will (HIMYM fans?).¬†

 

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Checkerboard cake from Lady M Confections

The construction of such checkerboard cake is no walk in the park. If you ask my mother (happy mothers’ day to all moms out there. May your day be filled with joy), I probably spent 20 minutes trying to dissect the cake, but of course, without any success. However, thanks to the internet, I had a plan! I was going to make 2 separate 9-inch cakes–one chocolate, and the other vanilla. I would then use some circular cutters to cut the various rings of the cake to remove and alternate the flavors of the cake and give it the checkerboard look.

Even with this “foolproof” plan in mind, the task at hand was far more difficult than previously imagined. The making of the 2 cakes was an operation that took up the entire kitchen and our dining table.

After the cakes cooled, I took them out of the pan and put them onto parchment paper to start to cut and re-construct the cakes. The issue was that I didn’t have any of the fancy cake/cookie cutters that would form a perfect circle. Instead, I ended up using a lid for a pot, a cup, and…a shot glass to measure the circles. After outlining the print, I used a knife to cut through the rest of the cake. Little did I know, I made the cakes too fluffy! I wonder if it would be better to make a thicker cake so that it isn’t as crumbly when you cut into it and so it will stay together.

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There was quite a lot of “reconstructive surgery” to ensure the cake didn’t completely fall apart, but the frosting definitely stitched up the cake. After putting together the first layer, I put a layer of homemade chocolate buttercream, and then proceeded on the second layer. Most checkerboard cakes have 3 layers, but I decided on 2 tiers for the first try. I was also a bit grossed out by the amount of butter used in the entire cake, but that must be why it’s so delicious, if I do say so myself.

After constructing the 2 layers of the cake, I started to frost it with the buttercream. It definitely was a fun but also super messy experience trying to frost a crumbly cake. But again, the frosting served as a nice glue.

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Overall, the process took nearly 3 hours. It definitely is not the prettiest cake in the world, but it still is quite tasty and a good first attempt. If you are going to make a checkerboard cake/for future attempts, here are a few tips:

– Ensure that you fully spray the cake pan with vegetable oil so that the cakes don’t stick
– The cake should be more of a brownie consistency and not super fluffy. I was having trouble picking up the rings of the cake to assemble them into a pattern. I am still questioning how Lady M has so many checkers.
– It would probably be preferable to find cake/cookie cutting rings so that your rings actually are even. Time to take a trip to Sur La Table?
– I used chocolate frosting throughout the cake, but it might be nice to glue the inner layers of the cake using white or another color frosting to give the cake the “pop” and crisp looking lines. The brown chocolate blended with the cake, so it’s not as clean.

If you have additional tips, feel free to share them!

Happy baking!
-JJC

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Mojito Cupcakes

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Done with finals! Done with junior year! What better way to celebrate than with a cocktail and a cocktail themed cupcake. The recipe for the cake used was from BrownEyedBaker. We followed the recipe almost exactly, except that, in the first step, we forgot about the milk and the mint on the stove and kind of let the milk froth. It was funny, but don’t forget about the milk; it could end in a dangerous disaster. The batter itself was very light and airy. Upon baking for 20 minutes, the cake itself reflected the light airiness of the batter. I highly recommend this recipe, since the cake was light, not too sweet, and had a nice light lime and rum taste. The frosting, a buttercream thickened with powdered sugar added a nice sweetness to the cake.

Finally, thank you to Melissa for sharing this recipe with me and to Mari for making the cupcakes with me! I really loved this recipe (they just keep on getting better!). The garnish with a slice of lime and a sprig of mint was a nice addition and gave the cupcakes some nice color. It was especially nice with the actual mojitos to accompany the cupcakes. Not a bad way to kick off summer, if you ask me!

Xo,
JJC

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Lemon Cake with Raspberry Filling and Lemon Vanilla Frosting

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First, thanks to Nicole for the recipe and making the cupcakes with me! This cupcake is one of my favorites (to date, the chai and espresso is my absolute favorite). I would definitely add more batter to each cupcakes (fill about 3/4 of the way full, as opposed to 2/3 of the way full). But other than that, I can’t complain!

Cake
The recipe used was from Saifou.com. We kept to the recipe for the most part, but used all purpose flour. We also somehow made 24 cupcakes instead of 18. As a result of not using the cake flour and making more cupcakes than the recipe said it would make, the cake didn’t rise as much as they should have. They were fun-sized, if you will. Regardless, we just added more frosting, and the cake itself was delicious. The cake was had just the right hint of lemon and was not too sweet.

Filling
Using an apple corer (my favorite), we made holes in the cupcakes and piped in my uncle’s homegrown and homemade raspberry jam.
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Frosting
I still haven’t figured out the perfect vanilla buttercream. Every single time I am unable to record what exactly I used because I keep on adding more of a certain ingredient until it tastes “good.” The frosting started out with 12 ounces of unsalted butter, 4 tablespoons of milk, 2 teaspoons of vanilla, and a lot of confectioner’s sugar. We added some of the lemon juice from the recipe to make it not taste so much like powdered sugar and began to lose track from there. I really wish I measured exactly how milk, lemon juice, sugar, and flour we used because it was delicious. Any suggestions on vanilla butter cream would be greatly appreciated!

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Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

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In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we decided to make Irish Car Bomb cupcakes from Brown Eyed Baker. The delightful treats consisted of a Guinness chocolate cake, Bailey’s vanilla whipped cream, and filled with an Irish whiskey chocolate ganache. Thank you Kelsey (Champagne Tuesdays) and Denise for joining! As complicated as the recipe was, it was delicious. We added a bit more whiskey and Bailey’s than the recipe called for. As a result, the recipe was a bit watery, and we had to add flour to thicken the frosting and the ganache. When making it, I would definitely recommend to have lots of counter space for the number of pans/plates that were required.

Guinness chocolate cake
The cake was very moist and has a faint taste of Guinness. We used Ghiradelli’s hot chocolate mix instead of the Dutch cocoa powder. As a result, the cake was nice and light. This complemented the rich buttercream and dense ganache. The only issue I had with this cake was that it was extremely watery (I’m not sure if it was because we didn’t let the Guinness butter simmer long enough). To thicken it, we added flour, which led to a delicious cake.

Bailey’s Vanilla Whipped Buttercream
The flavoring on the frosting was not very strong, so we had to add more Bailey’s. Instead of adding more sugar, we thickened the frosting with about 2 teaspoons of frosting.

Irish Whiskey Chocolate Ganache
Very delicious. We made too much ganache for the amount for the fill, since I used an apple corer to create the hole. We ended up using the extra ganache to decorate the cake.

Xo,
JJC

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Maple Cupcakes

Maple Cupcakes

Recipe from Countryliving.com

Cake
I added extra maple syrup (1.5 cups) and some extra milk to make the batter a bit more moist. However, the overall flavor was still too light for the amount of maple syrup I put in. I would recommend more milk or even more maple syrup if you want to spend the money on a full bottle of maple syrup.

Frosting
The frosting was a vanilla buttercream, with a dash of maple syrup. The dash of maple syrup provided a nice touch, so then the frosting wasn’t just sugary butter. The consistency of the frosting was perfect. The maple syrup provided some liquid, but it was also made it so the frosting was smooth.

Overall
I don’t think I would make this recipe again because the maple flavor was so light that it didn’t taste like anything. I would recommend to add maple extract to give it more flavor. The cake was also a bit dry, even though I added more syrup than the recipe called for. A more economic option would probably be to make vanilla cupcakes with a thick maple buttercream.

Xo,
JJC

Honey Chamomile Cupcakes

Honey Chamomile Cupcakes

First, thank you to Sophia for coming up with the idea and making such delicious cupcakes. It was a very light tasting cupcake, which would be good for afternoon dessert. I never knew you could make a cupcake out of tea leaves. Next on the list will be chai cupcakes!

Recipe from Joy the Baker

Cake
The cake was very thick, and I thought it would rise in the oven. While it did rise with the heat, the cake immediately sank once it cooled (note the frosting to fill the crater). I would definitely add more rising agents. Perhaps increasing the baking soda from 1/2 a teaspoon to 1 teaspoon would do the trick.

Frosting (glaze)
We followed the recipe, and it was delicious. It was a thick glaze that wasn’t overly sweet and provided a nice complement to the light-tasting cake.

Xo,
JJC

Moscato Cupcakes

Moscato

The cupcake was a nice vanilla. Moscato is a very sweet wine, so it provided a nice flavor. I’m not entirely sure if I will make this again. I have a lot more recipes to try before re-working this one again!

Recipe from Brooke-Bakes

Cake
The cake was an interesting texture with a crunchy outside. Since the moscato burned out in the oven, I used an apple corer to create a crater in the middle of the cupcake and added one teaspoon of moscato. Then I re-covered the cupcake.

Frosting
Moscato is so sweet that the frosting tastes like vanilla. No matter how much you add, the flavor will be a creamy vanilla.