Happy September: Cosplay and the Perfect Buttercream Frosting

Eeeesh. So I apparently abandoned my blog for the summer. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write… honest. And to make up for it I will share a wonderful recipe for the perfect chocolate buttercream that I found recently on Averie Cooks. But that will come later, fist I have a few fun and exciting updates.  First, I’m not sure how avid my fan base is, but those of you who follow me often enough will know that over the last year or so I’ve been slowly turning this baking blog into an everything blog. The next few months will be no different, because as my blog has grown, so have my interests, and I’ve moved everywhere from baking and cooking, to cake decorating, to DIY and arts and crafts, and now I’ve developed a love for Cosplay and Costume Making.  Last Halloween I made a fantastic Minion Costume and this year, I’m going all out with some badass Skyrim Cosplay! Here’s my progress thus far:

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I don’t know how much of a detailed tutorial I’ll post, but I’ll try to post more photos when I start adding more to my helmet.  I constructed this out of soft cardboard that I pulled from empty cereal and granola bar boxes. I cut out a few long strips, measured them around my head and then taped them together using electrical tape to make a large circle. I cut up the various shapes I needed and affixed them to the circle. I used foam paper to fill in the rest. I layered it with two full layers of foam.  I plan on using paper mâché to create the rest of the helmet, and then painting it a combination of black, silver, and bronze. I can’t wait! I’ll be completing the rest of my armor with a similar approach.

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In the end, it should look somewhat like this:

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I’ve also started a little vlogging here and there, and been having a lot of fun doing it. You can find my channel here. It’s all about Life as Kelsey Bakes, and I’ll be sharing all of it on here. 

Remember to please like and share my videos and subscribe to my channel!! Now… for that recipe I promised.

I make these bad boys for an end of summer work barbecue at my boss’s house. This has to be the best chocolate buttercream I’ve ever made. I don’t know why, but it was just better than anything I’ve ever made before, from it’s consistency, to it’s taste.  You can find the full recipe here along with a recipe for some yellow cupcakes.  We were celebrating a kind of end of summer-going away party-kelsey’s birthday party…thing.

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Perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Makes enough frosting for 12 – 15 cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), softenend
  • 1/2 heaping cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp. cream or milk

Directions

  1.  Add the butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Scrape down the sides as needed.
  2. Add the cocoa, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla, and beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, another 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides as needed.
  3. Add the cream and continue to beat until well combined. Note that it may not be necessary to add the cream, and you can omit it if you’ve reached the desired consistency. I had to add some, as my frosting was chunky and much too thick.
  4. Transfer frosting to a piping bag and using a Wilton 1M tip (for the standard cupcake swirl) frost the cooled cupcakes.

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So there you have it! This is a great recipe because it gives you the perfect consistency for frosting cupcakes. Of course, if frosting a cake i’f add a lot more cream to thin it out for the full crumb coat/coat. It was also my birthday a few weeks ago. I got spoiled, as usual.

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You can see one of the super duper fun gifts I got below. Have an excellent day! Happy baking!

Baby Shower Cake and Cupcakes.

Since my BFF is pregnant…like super pregnant…like about ready to pop out a tiny human of awesomeness kind of pregnant…I of course, as her BFF, had to plan a baby shower for her.  So what better way to celebrate then to create a magnificent baby shower themed cake and cupcake display?  Answer: There actually is no better way to celebrate.  I created a beautiful 3 layer, 2 tiered cake (2 layers of chocolate with a vanilla layer in the center), and 60 fabulous cupcakes.  I of course had a little help from my baking sidekick Stewy,  and together we made an amazing bunch of tasty treats.

Stewy picked up some really fun baby shower decorations at Michael’s, and we pretty well used those to decorate our 60 chocolate and vanilla cupcakes.  We chose blue, green, and orange as the colours (to compliment the cake and match the colours chosen for the baby room).  In terms of the icing, it was of course buttercream, and we simply died the icing to match our colours.  I used a new technique for a large majority of the cupcake swirls.  Using a standard 1M tip from Wilton, instead of doing a basic swirl, starting on the outside and working in, I did the opposite, starting my swirl in the middle and working my way out.  The icing doesn’t “stack” and it creates a rose.  You can find a tutorial here.  

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On to the cake…I had a lot of fun doing it and it actually didn’t take me that long.  I had dreams of teddy bear and letter block toppers, but I kind of failed on those ones…But I will practice. My teddy bear ended up looking incredibly creepy rather than cute, and I didn’t want to scare any children.  This tiered cake ended up working out alot better than the last one, because I actually stacked it properly.  I used cake circles to stack the cakes rather than mini cake boards, and when I inserted the dowel rods into the cake, I did so before I covered the tier in fondant.  The cake was fresher and there were no ugly poles sticking out of it once the top layer was removed.  Mind you, I thin k next time I stack the cake I will glue them together using buttercream rather than gum adhesive glue.  When we popped off the top layer it definitely pulled a nice chunk of the bottom layer’s fondant with it.  I also vowed that I would always do 3 layers per tier rather than two, which worked out well and made for much nicer, taller tiers.

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The first steps were to bake and layer the cakes, and then cover them in a coat of buttercream.  Again, I’m still having trouble with frosting cakes but I’m getting better.

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Then, once the frosting had hardened slightly, I inserted the dowel rods into the bottom tier of the cake, measuring them against the tier and cutting them beforehand.  I made sure they weren’t protruding past the top of the cakes, and then covered the cakes in fondant.  The bottom was covered in blue fondant, and the top green.

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Next, I rolled out some orange fondant and cut out a 1 inch strip using my fondant ribbon cutter.  I then decorated the top layer with white polka dots…you can’t have a cute baby shower cake without polka dots.

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I made the “bow straps” using the ribbon cutter, and then attached them to the cake.  The bow was actually relatively simple.  You can find a tutorial here. I followed her directions exactly and the bow turned out perfect.  *Note:  I did add gum paste to the orange so that the bow would harden faster.  I placed the bow on the cake (using gum paste adhesive) while the bow was still relatively malleable so that it would not crack or break while I pressed it on.  Adding gum bast to things like bows and ribbon decorations can make things much easier as it is more “cooperative” when you are trying to make shapes (particularly delicate shapes for things such as flowers and figurines).  

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Next I made the BABY letter blocks, using silicone letter stencils and a pizza cutter, and glued them into place at the front of the cake.

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I made some fun little roses put rolling out fondant and then swirling it around itself until it resembled a flower.  I thought these were more “baby-like” than the typical gum paste rose that you’ll find on a more traditional cake.  The original cake that I got my inspiration from can be found here.  This cake also had some vary cartooney roses that I really enjoy. I added an orange ball border (can you tell I like ball borders?), and voila! The only thing left to do was eat it…and I did!  The taste was great, and I really don’t regret making the third layer on each tier.  The vanilla in the center was visually a great touch and it really added to the flavour.

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So I think that this is one of my favourite cakes so far.  I just love everything about it! Lessons learned:  Covering the cake board would have been a nice touch to the overall display.  The “tin foil” look isn’t super appealing to me when it comes to things like baby shower, wedding, or bridal shower cakes, so next time I plan on covering it with white fondant, and possibly adding a design.  I think I could have toned down the colouring a little on the cupcakes.  I’m excited that they were nice and bright, but the tones of the orange, blue, and green didn’t match the tones of the cake.  This isn’t a HUGE deal and I of course received no complaints, but I think I would rather have added less colouring to the buttercream so that it matched a little better.  Also, I still really need to work on my buttercream techniques.  The worst thing about my fondant covering is that I often see the imperfections of the icing through the fondant.  Sometimes this leaves bumps on the sides and I can really notice it.  This can only be learned through doing more cakes!  I am so excited to make more.  But speaking of “making more” I promised another chocolate chip recipe this week.  I will make the mayo based chocolate chip cookie recipe within the next few days and I am super pumped to see how they taste.  Wish me luck! Happy baking.

Gum Paste and Fondant Flowers

So this week, instead of my usual “cupcake flavour of the week”, I decided to put some of the skills I’ve developed from my cake decorating course to use and created some amazing flowers to top some basic chocolate cupcakes.  This took a lot of time and effort over the weekend, but in the end I was able to create eight cupcakes with daisy toppers, eight cupcakes with rose toppers, and eight cupcakes with fondant blossom and sugar pearl toppers.  The daisies and blossoms were simple enough, but the roses took a lot of time, about 10-15 minutes per rose, plus some preparing the day before.  Can you say dedicated? Eek. Anyways, I had tons of fun putting these together, and so far they’ve been a hit.  At risk of this post being the longest post ever with all of the details I’d have to divulge regarding each flower, I decided to create a new section on my blog labeled “TUTORIALS”.  This page will be the designated how to page, and I will refer to it from now on for all of my future tutorials.  On another note, this week is my last cake decorating class! Yes, I am quite sad about this…I just want it to go on forever! However on the plus side I will be completing my master cake this Thursday, and will be giving it to my Aunt for her 50th birthday.  I’m planning a zebra print cake, yes, you heard it right, zebra print, with a hot pink bow.  It will be centered on a fondant covered, decorated cake board that I already prepared in last weeks class. Hopefully this doesn’t blow up in my face, zebra print looks complicated.  Wish me luck! I will update with my progress on Friday.

This weeks cupcakes were a “floral themed” bunch.  Here are some pictures of the scrumptious awesomeness that were my cupcakes. Follow the links to see the tutorial for each flower.  If anything is unclear comment and I will get back to you ASAP.

Gum Paste Roses

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Gum Paste Daisies

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Fondant Flower Blossoms with Sugar Pearls

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RED WINE CUPCAKES

When I first stumbled across this recipe I nearly fainted.  Chocolate cupcakes, with red wine in the batter….AND in the frosting. Oh my gosh have I died and gone to heaven?  So this was very exciting and of course I had to create this magnificent combination of flavours.  I borrowed the original recipe from here.  Her pictures are much better than the ones my iPhone is capable of taking. Poo. But no matter.  For my cupcakes I’m sure turned out just as wonderful!

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Chocolate and Red Wine Cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes

For the Chocolate batter…

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 oz. dark chocolate (72%), broken into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup plus 1/8 cup all purpose flour
  • 3\4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup red wine (I used a merlot, but the author from delacasa has used a shiraz as well and said it has turned out just as well)

1. Preheat over to 350˚F.  Line a muffin pan with cupcake papers.

2. In a medium bowl, combine cocoa powder and chocolate pieces.  Whisk in the boiling water until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is thoroughly combined.

3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and granulated sugar.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until well blended.  Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Mix until just combined.  Add the chocolate mixture and wine, and mix until batter is smooth.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, ensuring there are no flour streaks and the batter is well mixed.

4. Divide batter among cupcakes liners, filling them approximately halfway.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the red wine frosting…

  • 1 cup wine plus 4 tablespoons, divided
  • 1/4 cup granular sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened but still cold
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Small seedless grapes for garnish

1. Place the wine and sugar in a small sauce pan over medium heat.  Stir until sugar is dissolved, and simmer until mixture is reduced to scant 1/3 cup.  This…I did not find simple.  How do you know when the mixture is reduced? Uhg I kept having to take it out of the pan and toss it in a measuring cup, and then putting it back in to allow it to simmer more.  So confusing! But at last, I succeeded.  I feel like it was about 10 minutes, so I’m going to say, let it simmer for approximately 7 to 10 minutes.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, combine the softened butter and confectioners sugar.  Mix on low speed at first, and then on high until mixer is fluffy.  I suggest adding 1 cup of the confectioner’s sugar at a time, scrapping down the sides of the bowl between each added cup, as it will better blend with the butter.  With the mixer running, add the cooled wine and sugar reduction.  Add the salt and beat until well combines.

3.  With the mixer running, gradually pour the the 4 tablespoons of wine, 1 tablespoon at a time, until thoroughly mixed.  I found the frosting a little runnier than I would have liked, so at the very end I added another 3/4 cup of confectioners sugar, adding 1/4 cup at a time, until it was the consistency I wanted.  Transfer the frosting to a piping bag with the tip of your choice (I used a Wilton 1M attachment), and frost your cupcakes.  Garnish with a red grape.

So there you have it, chocolate red wine cupcakes.  Very tasty.  They were however, not my favourite, as they were a teensy bit too sweet for my liking.  I think it was most likely because of the amount of sugar in the frosting.  That obviously didn’t stop me from eating three out of this batch so clearly I did something right.  Happy baking!

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CINNAMON ROLL CUPCAKES

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Okay people, cinnamon rolls.  I love love love cinnamon rolls.  So the other day I was sitting at work, trying to figure out what kind of cupcake I should make this week, and I suddenly got a hankering for a cinnamon roll.  They’re so good, with their gooey icing of awesomeness, I just have to have one.  And that’s when I thought, hmmmmm how about a cinnamon roll cupcake? Brilliant! Is this possible? So I googled, and yes, a cinnamon bun cupcake is very possible.  I found a great recipe for one, you can find the original here.  Now let me tell you, I had some serious issue making these tiny mouthfuls of awesome.  The recipe and instructions were clear and easy to follow, so I followed them 100% and…well the cakes taste good but they don’t quite look as pretty as the pictures from the author’s website.  The consistency of my batter was a lot different (mine was much thicker, even though I followed the recipe down to the exact 1/2 tsp), and the icing from the original recipe didn’t quite do it for me, so I changed it, and it actually didn’t blow up in my face so hurray! This cupcake is a cinnamon roll cupcake, with a coffee flavoured icing and a cream cheese frosting. MMMMmmmmm cinnamon rolls.

INGREDIENTS

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For the cinnamon swirl:

  • 1/2 stick of unsalted butter (melted)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the cupcake batter:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the coffee icing:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (*I used three*)
  • 1 cup  confectioner’s sugar (*plus three to four more tablespoons*)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons brewed coffee (*I used four*)

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon heavy whipping cream

*makes 12 cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a muffin pan with cupcake papers and set aside.

First make the cinnamon swirl filling.  Combine all the ingredients together in a small bowl and set the mixture aside until it is ready to use.

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In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt.  Once combined add the baking powder.  Add the butter, sour cream, eggs, and vanilla and beat until smooth, scrapping the bowl periodically to ensure there are no streaks of flour.

Place one tablespoon of batter in each of the paper liners in the prepared muffin pan. Make a small well in the middle of each cup of batter with a toothpick. Stir the filling to make sure the butter is combined, then spoon a scant 1 teaspoon of the filling into each cup. Use a toothpick to swirl the filling and batter together. (ps for those who don’t know scant means slightly less…don’t feel bad I had to google this today hehe).  Add another tablespoon of batter to each cup and repeat the filling/swirling process.

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Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting them.

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The next step is to make the coffee frosting.  I used 3 tbsp of butter over the recommended 2 because I wasn’t able to combine all the ingredients to make a icing-like mixture.  My mixture was almost completely dry, even after I added the 1 tbsp of coffee recommended by the author.  In a medium bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Then, stir in the vanilla until combined. Add the coffee until desired consistency is reached. Even after adding the second tbsp of coffee, I didn’t find the icing actually tasted like coffee.  It just tasted like regular icing.  Which is why I added so much more coffee to the recipe.  Because of the extra 2 tbsp I added, I needed to include more icing sugar so the consistency of the icing wouldn’t be completely out of whack (mind you it was a little thinner than I would have liked but it really acted like more of a glaze, and it actually tasted like coffee, which is great).  Ice the cooled cupcakes with the coffee icing. Allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes, then top with cream cheese frosting.

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In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until completely combined. Add the sugar, one cup at a time, beating well between each addition. Stir in the vanilla until thoroughly combined. Beat the mixture well, until light and fluffy, adding in the whipping cream.

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I piped my frosting onto the cakes using a Wilton 1M attachment and a piping bag.  I just can’t not pipe my frosting on, it looks so much more like an actual cupcake that way!  The author of this recipe didn’t pipe the frosting on, and it looks great like that too, so try whichever way you prefer.  And there you have it! Cinnamon roll cupcakes.  The taste was amazing! They were a lot of work for the yield I got though, so I’m not sure if these will be something I’d make on a regular basis.  I’d also like to understand why my batter was so much thicker than the authors.  Her’s looked so fabulous and mine, well, didn’t.  I found my batter looked more like a cinnamon roll and her’s looked more like a cupcake, which is what I was going for.  Maybe I over mixed it? I don’t feel like I did… anyways, I’m sure I will recreate these at another point in time to see if I can perfect them.  Speaking of things I love…red wine.  Ever heard of red wine cupcakes? Ya those exist.  Guess what’s on my list for next week’s batch.

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CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CUPCAKES

Peanut butter and chocolate…my favourite combination.  There is nothing better than chocolate and peanut butter together.  I want them to get married and have babies, that’s how much I love them.  So clearly, making chocolate peanut butter cupcakes is a necessity to my cupcake endeavors.  The cupcakes turned out amazing! I used my favourite chocolate cake recipe for the cupcake batter, a peanut butter cream frosting, and topped it with a Reese’s mini peanut butter cup half.

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THE FROSTING

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugarphoto (11)
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

Combine the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla and salt in the bowl and with a mixer on medium-low speed mix until creamy.  Add the heavy cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

DECORATING THE CAKES 

Add the peanut butter cream frosting into a decorating bag, and using a Wilton 1M attachment create a swirl to cover the top of the cupcake.  For best results pipe the frosting holding the bag about 1/4 inch above the cake at a 90 degree angle.  Always make sure you have given the cupcakes the chance to cool before frosting them!

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Once the frosting has been added, add the Reese`s mini halves to the tops.  Freeze the peanut butter cups before cutting them into halves as they will be less likely to crack or crumble.

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