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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Banana and Chocolate Cupcakes

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This summer has basically been a summer of working and baking cupcakes. I don’t mind. It’s extremely relaxing and pretty great. This weekend I made banana cupcakes with a chocolate frosting. I made these cupcakes nearly a year ago, and these look a lot prettier. The bananas I used overly ripe, making the cupcakes nice and moist and light with a delicious banana taste. The cake could have stood on its own, but the dark chocolate frosting made the overall cupcake a taste from heaven.

Xo,
JJC

Recipe
Cake, yield 16
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ripe bananas
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the buttermilk and vanilla extract.
3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
4. Add the eggs to the mixture one at a time.
5. Add the flour mixture and the liquids alternately, beating well after each addition.
6. Fold in the mashed bananas into the mixture.
7. Fill 16 cupcake liners about 2/3 full.
8. Bake at 325F for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

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Chocolate Frosting
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons milk with 2 cornstarch mixed in
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar

1. Whip the butter until it is light and fluffy.
2. Mix in the liquids, cocoa powder, and confectioner’s sugar until it is at a desired consistency.

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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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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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Banana Cake with Chocolate Espresso Frosting

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If you like bananas and chocolate, you’ll love this one. The dark chocolate taste complemented the sweet banana cake. It was also fun to use the remainder of the batter to make a small cake. I used extremely ripe bananas, which made the bananas very easy to mash. It also made the cake very moist.

Recipe
Cake
AllRecipes

Frosting
– 1/2 cup unsalted butter
– 2 tablespoons instant espresso dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
– 2 tablespoons milk
– 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
– 1 3/4 cups confectioner’s sugar

Xo,
JJC

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