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DIY Fluffy Lamb Cake

Happy (early) Easter to those who celebrate it! I spent my afternoon making this adorable fluffy lamb cake – this one is easy enough for even an adventurous beginner. I can’t take credit for the design (stumbled upon it on Pinterest), but had to make it after my nephew saw it and gave his seal of approval.

You’ll need to purchase or make your own cake/icing (Immaculate Baking Co. cake mixes may be worth trying if you’re short on time – the ingredients are simple and don’t include preservatives).  Lyndsay from Coco Cake Land posted a great tutorial for decorating this cake on Handmade Charlotte.

My Tips:

In the spirit of saving time, I cut up marshmallows for the ears (rather than fondant), and melted chocolate chips for the eyes and mouth.  I used a marshmallow for the nose as well, dabbing a little frosting on it and sprinkling with pink sugar.  If you don’t have piping bags, cutting the corner of a Ziploc bag will work (just make sure to tape the corner to reinforce before you cut).  Freezer bags are thicker and will work a bit better.  I didn’t have the Wilton no. 22 tip, but used a similar star-shaped one and it worked great.

What are you making for Easter?
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chocolate raspberry lemon cake

Before I get to the recipe, I’d like to wish everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day and give a special congrats to Nathalie, winner of the corn heating bag giveaway!  As a thank you to all who entered (or anyone else who may be reading), I am offering 10% off of any purchase from my Etsy shop until the End of February… simply enter the code HEARTS at checkout.  

Now, about the cake.  I first made this 3 years ago, for a friend who celebrates her birthday right around Valentine’s Day.  I’ve made it few times since, and it’s always a favorite.  Here’s the part you may hate me for:  this cake literally takes all day to make, it is not healthy in any way… and the ingredients may add up cost-wise (especially if you use ‘good’ chocolate, which I recommend).  On the other hand, your efforts will be hugely rewarded when it comes time to eat the thing.

Let the fun begin!  There are 5 components (chocolate cake, lemon filling, raspberry soaking syrup, chocolate raspberry mousse, and ganache).  If you don’t want to be in the kitchen all day, you could make the chocolate cake a few days or even a week in advance, and freeze it until ready.  The lemon filling can be made the night before assembling (as it requires a period of refrigeration).  The raspberry soaking syrup (keeps the cake moist for longer) is a nice touch, but could be omitted.  

Chocolate cake:

3/4 lb (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces (Fleischmann’s unsalted margarine will also work)

1 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cornstarch (if you don’t happen to have this on hand, you may omit it – it is used for creating a structure more similar to cake flour)

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

3 eggs

1 1/4 C milk (you can add cream or half & half to make it more rich… almond/soy milk or non-dairy creamer may also be used)

1 tsp vanilla extract

Lightly spray insides of three 9inch cake pans.  Cut 3 parchment or wax paper circles, and press one into each.  These make the cake release much more easily after they’re done baking.  Lightly spray on top of circles and lightly coat each pan with flour.  Preheat oven to 350 F.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, and salt.  Set aside.

Place butter and sugar in Med-lg bowl.  Mix on low speed 1 min, then beat until soft, about 2 min.  Continue beating 2 more minutes until very soft.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating 30 seconds after each.  Alternately add the dry sifted ingredients you set aside and the milk until well blended.  Add vanilla extract, mix on low 5 seconds, and then beat on medium for 1 min.  The batter should now look similar to soft serve ice cream.

Spread batter evenly amongst the three pans – tap them to get rid of air bubbles.  Bake 25-30 min, or until toothpick in center comes out clean.

Let cool 20 minutes, and then invert cakes onto cooling rack or plates.  Remove parchment or wax paper circles.

At this point, you can either set your cake aside, or wrap and freeze each layer individually.

{This recipe also makes great cupcakes – but since it makes 3 layer cakes, you’ll likely want to cut it in half.  Check on cupcakes after 15 min. and use a toothpick to see if they’re done.}

This recipe is slightly modified from the ‘Celebrate with Chocolate’ cookbook.  Rich dairy components will make for a more flavorful cake, but non-dairy work just fine (however, keep in mind that the fillings and ganache require dairy)!

Lemon Filling:

The lemon filling recipe can be found by clicking HERE.  This recipe will require you to use a double boiler (or be extremely vigilant with a heavy saucepan).  I’m not usually a lemon filling kind of girl, but trust me when I say that this is some nice filling when it’s made right.  

Some tips:  A cheese grater works well for creating fresh lemon zest.  I used only 1 egg and also refrained from adding the heavy whipped cream.  You may be able to make this filling without a double boiler if you watch your saucepan VERY closely.  Good to know:  1 big lemon will produce about 1/4 C juice.

Raspberry Soaking Syrup:

1/3 cup water

3 tbsp granulated sugar

4 tbsp Framboise (in the cordials section of a liquor store)

In small pan over medium-low heat, combine water and sugar.  Stir constantly until sugar is dissolved.  Raise heat to med-high and bring syrup to a boil.  Remove pan from heat and stir in Framboise.  Keep covered until you assemble the cake.

This base syrup recipe as well as the following mousse recipe were modified from the Godiva Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Truffle Cake. (http://www.godiva.com)

Chocolate Raspberry Mousse:

4 bars (6 oz) Dark Chocolate, broken up into smaller pieces (I used Ghirardelli 60% cocoa bars)

3/4 C fresh or frozen unsweetened raspberries

1/6 C plus 1.5 Tbsp granulated sugar, divided (1/6 is a bit odd, but just fill your 1/3 cup half way)

1.5 eggs yolks (yes, I know… a half egg yolk.. just do this to the best of your ability and it will suffice)

1/3 C heavy cream + 2/3 C heavy cream, divided

2 tbsp framboise

1 tsp vanilla extract

Finely grind chocolate in food processor – about 30 seconds.  Leave in processor.

Combine raspberries and 1/6 C sugar in small saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves.  Mash raspberries until soft and broken up.  Remove from heat and press mixture through a mesh sieve and into a saucepan.  Cook the puree over med-high heat until bubbling for a about 30 seconds, stirring frequently.  Immediately pour raspberry mix into the food processor, on top of the chocolate.

Combine egg yolks, 1.5 Tbsp (which is 1 Tbsp + 3 tsp) sugar, and salt in small bowl.  Whisk until well blended.

Scald 1/3 C heavy cream in small pan over medium heat.  Whisking constantly, temper egg yolk mix with some of the hot cream.  Pour tempered egg mix into pan of hot cream (this is to prevent the eggs from scrambling).  Continue to cook over low heat, stirring constantly until mixture starts to thicken.  Don’t overcook – just until it thickens noticeably.  Turn on food processor and pour the hot mixture in your pan into the feed tube.  Process 15-25 seconds or until chocolate is fully melted.  Scrape down sides of bowl with spatula – add the framboise and vanilla.  Process for a couple more seconds.  Place mixture into a med-lg bowl.  Take the remainder of your heavy cream and place it into a bowl (a chilled bowl will make the process faster).  Beat with mixer until soft peaks just begin to form (overwhipping will lead to grainy texture).  Using rubber spatula, gently fold 1/3 of the whipped cream into the chocolate raspberry mix you have in the other bowl.  Now fold in the remainder of the whipped cream.  Don’t overfold, you want it to remain light and fluffy.

Assembling the Cake:

Brush the bottoms of the cake layers with the soaking syrup you have set aside.  Be generous.  This will keep your cake moist.

Now put as much of the chocolate raspberry mousse as you desire on top of one of the cake layers.  Spread out evenly.  Set another cake layer on top of the mousse.  Apply as much lemon filling as you’d like onto this layer.  Top with the final cake layer.

Ganache:

For the ganache topping, simply use equal amounts of dark chocolate and heavy cream.  I used 6 oz of each.  Finely grind your chocolate in a food processor and let it sit there.  Microwave the heavy cream until it begins to simmer (but don’t let it boil over!).  This doesn’t take long, so watch closely.  Pour it on top of chocolate in the food processor.  Let sit about 2 minutes.  Now process briefly until thoroughly mixed and promptly drizzle over center of cake.  You can use a spatula to help spread it.

I dipped fresh raspberries in white almond bark and the remainder of the ganache as decoration.   The ganache hardened up nicely in the fridge to give it a ‘chocolate bar’ kind of finish.

If you read to the end of this, I am thoroughly impressed – and I swear that the next recipe I post will be more user-friendly. :)

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sugarcookiehappyholidaysSugar Cookie Recipe

(hint:  I used a margarine/shortening combo to keep them lactose-free – worked great!)

Icing/Glaze Recipe 

(hint: using a ziploc bag with a tiny piece cut off one corner, squeeze/pipe a border around your cookie, then thin some of your icing and “flood” the rest of the cookie for base coverage – or you could skip the border and just brush on some thinned icing using a silicone pastry brush.)

mintcakeslice mintcakeChocolate Peppermint Cake

Chocolate Cake Recipe

Vanilla Buttercream Icing Recipe (hint:  Scroll to bottom of linked posting for recipe.  For this particular cake, I only added about 5 cups of powdered sugar.  Remove enough icing to place between the two layers and add ~1/4 tsp peppermint extract – add slowly and taste as you go.  Make sure you leave enough of the plain vanilla icing to cover the exterior of the cake. Crush candy canes and press lightly into side of icing.  The result is a moist and pleasantly (but not overwhelmingly) mint chocolate cake.

strawberrychocolatecandy strawberrychocolatecandy2 freezedriedstrawberriesDark Chocolate Strawberry Crunch Candy

This was a spur of the moment creation – and it’s super easy!  You’ll need:

  • A couple bars of dark chocolate (I grabbed one of the big blocks of 72% from Trader Joe’s)
  • Freeze-dried strawberries (also from Trader Joe’s)
  • ‘Sugar in the Raw’ (or some sort of similar coarse granular sugar)

Keep in mind that this recipe doesn’t necessarily require exact ingredient quantities – it’s pretty forgiving.

Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper.

Melt whatever quantity chocolate you have (I melt it in the microwave, and stir occasionally to prevent scorching) – use a spoon or spatula to spread a solid layer of chocolate around (whatever thickness you desire, though make sure that it’s not so thin you can see through it).  Make sure to leave about 1/3 of your chocolate to drizzle on top.

Lightly press pieces of freeze-dried strawberries into the chocolate, then using a spoon, drizzle the remainder of your chocolate on top of the strawberries.

Immediately sprinkle coarse sugar on top (this is optional, though the freeze-dried strawberries I had were fairly tart, so this helped even things out a bit).

Place in refrigerator or freezer for a short time (until chocolate is solid).  Break into pieces.  Store remainder in refrigerator.

squashrolls squashrollSquash Dinner Roll Recipe

(I have posted this recipe before, but it’s worth the repeat!   Hints:  I use frozen cubed butternut squash, boil until tender, drain, and mash.  I always make mine in a bread machine – so easy.  Just throw in the dry ingredients first, followed by wet ingredients – adding yeast last.  Set on dough cycle and then roll into balls and freeze for later or raise and bake .  Keep in mind that the recipe may need to be halved to fit in your bread machine.  Easily made in advance, these freeze great – just roll into balls and toss into a muffin tin, day before you’re ready to use, set in fridge overnight and then rise in a warm spot until well-risen.)

snowdogOk, so it’s not food-related, but I had to post a photo of my goofy pup – he loves to lay in a snow pile right outside the window (gazing inside)… enjoying the best of both worlds.  Hope you all are enjoying the holiday season!

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microwavecake

I have a great recipe to share (sorry about the less-than-appetizing lime green ramekins in the photo – they’re pretty when they’re not housing chocolate cake splatterings).  I haven’t had chocolate in a few days and was craving it in a big way, but just didn’t have it in me to bake something complicated.  This recipe is about as uncomplicated as they come – quick, easy, and tasty!  It can also be easily made gluten-free/dairy-free.  It’s a single-serving chocolate cake – made in the microwave.  Took me less than 5 minutes from start-to-finish.  The recipe comes from the Chocolate-Covered Katie blog… a great site!  Click on the link or use the recipe below (in my own shorthand version, but note that I didn’t modify it, except to add a few chocolate chips – this one is all her).

One-Minute Chocolate Cake

  • 1 Tbsp + 2 tsp cocoa powder

  • 3 Tbsp flour (white, spelt, or gluten-free)

  • 1/8 tsp salt

  • 1 Tbsp + 2 tsp sugar (see original recipe for other suggestions)

  • 1/4 tsp baking powder

In your ramekin or mug, thoroughly whisk/blend all of the dry ingredients together.

Now add:

  • 2-3 tsp vegetable oil, coconut oil, or applesauce (I used veg. oil)

  • 3 Tbsp milk (I used unsweetened soy milk)

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

  • my own optional chocoholic additions: sprinkle in a handful of chocolate chips, OR to make it extra rich, take a big chunk of dark chocolate and set it onto the center of your batter – spoon a little batter on top so it’s covered.  You’ll end up with a lava-like center!

Stir everything together, dropping the chocolate chips on top if you decide to add them.  Microwave, on high, until it puffs up and you see about a dime-sized wet spot left in the center.  The original recipe says 30-40 seconds, my microwave took 55 seconds… so it may vary a bit.  Goes great with ice cream, alone, or toss in a bit of crumbled candy cane to make it festive!  Quickest chocolate fix ever.

Think next time I’ll try using applesauce and substitute maple syrup for some of the sugar.  If it turns out well, I’ll update this post – in the meantime, let me know if you have your own version!

Update: I also made this using King Arthur gluten-free flour and a pinch of xanthan gum rather than white flour… changes the texture and flavor slightly, but still a good quick treat (especially with the addition of chocolate chips)!

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