Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The 6th Love Language

I have decided that their should be a 6th love language. Food. I realize that I tend to love my family with food. When I celebrate them I ask them what I can make for them. I love to cook them yummy healthy food with a delicious dessert thrown in every so often. This is where I am conflicted. I want them to be healthy and learn to not over indulge and yet I find myself wanting to make desserts for them all the time! When they come home from school or from a friends, when they have had a rough day, to celebrate anything, when they have a sleepover. I find myself just wanting to express my love through food. And then through in that I am a vegan and yet I love desserts. Healthy meets not so healthy.

How I am trying to come to grips with this is to teach them moderation in all things. I feed my kids all sorts of vegetables and for the most part they eat what I give them. They will eat all sorts of sea food, fruits, vegetables, sushi, and even drink my green smoothie. Joseph will even choose a salad if we go out to eat over hamburgers or chicken nuggets. My kids don't love fastfood and complain when we have to eat it. So I must be doing some things right. Right? Even if they love desserts as much as I do.

I am also trying to teach them that 1 or 2 cookies is good but more then that is not healthy. That a serving of any dessert tastes so good but to much causes a tummy ache. Really isn't the first bit usually the best anyway.

Wow that was a long tangent. My point? What was my point? Oh that's right that I love with food. We went to visit my family this last weekend and I wanted to make my dad a delicious cake for Fathers Day. My dad is the one who gave me my love for food. As a kid he would have me try all sorts of strange and unusual foods and for some reason I tried them all. From dried squid to snails. I would try most anything once.

I wanted to spoil my dad so I decided on a very chocolate cake. Dark chocolate cake with dark chocolate ganache filling with a chocolate marshmallow frosting then covered with more dark chocolate ganache.

I am going to call it Chocolate Truffle Cake. It tasted like sees candy in a cake form. My only regret is that I did not save myself a bit for the next day.

Chocolate Truffle Cake
1 box duncan hines dark chocolate fudge cake mix
1 cup coconut milk (the kind meant as a milk replacer)
1/3 cup water
1/2 oil
5 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350

Combine all ingredients in a mixer and beat on medium until well combined, 1-2 minutes. pour into two 8 inch round prepared cake pans. I use the flour and shortening method. Let cook for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clear.

Let cool on cooling rack. While it cools make your ganache.

Dark Chocolate Vegan Ganache
3/4 Cup Coconut Milk (again the kind meant as a milk replacer)
1/4 Cup dairy free butter
12-14 oz Dark vegan chocolate

Melt all ingredients in the microwave on 70% power 30 seconds at a time. Stirring after each 30 seconds until nice and smooth. About 2 minutes.

Pour about 1/4 of the mixture over one of the layers. Add the second cake on top and stick in the fridge while you make the Frosting. Put the leftover ganache in an airtight container in fridge until the very last step.

Chocolate Marshmallow Frosting
1 cup butter (vegan)
1 tsp vanilla
2 TBS coconut milk (the kind meant as a milk replacer)
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 bag marshmallows (melted in the microwave 20 seconds at a time until smooth)

Mix butter, vanilla and milk on medium low speed until smooth. In a separate bowl sift together sugar and cocoa powder. Add to mixer and beat until just smooth and fluffy. Add marshmallow cream and beat just until mixed on low speed.

Apply a nice crumb coat on the cake and then put it back into the fridge for an hour or so. Leave it on the counter until it comes to room temperature. Then add the second layer of frosting not being to concerned about smoothness.

Pull out your ganache and reheat it using the same method you used to cook it. This is the easy part. Simply pour over the cake letting the ganache drip down the sides. You can serve warm or let it harden and serve in a 1/2 hour or so.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie brownie cupcakes with chocolate peanut butter buttercream frosting.

I discovered something amazing this last week. Chocolate chip cookies with brownies, then through in some peanut butter, all in one amazing bite? Um yes please! When ever I look at the blog Confessions of a Cookbook Queen I drool and I want to make everything she makes. So yummy looking. She posted this and I knew I had to make it. But of course I made it vegan and I enjoyed every yummy bite. I may or may not have eaten one for breakfast. I am usually really good at eating just one when it comes to yummy desserts but this one I dreamed about.

The first time I made it I made it with chocolate marshmallow cream frosting. That was super good. But peanut butter makes everything better. I will share both frosting recipes because they are both very light and yummy!

Cookbook queen used store bought cookie dough and box brownie mix. Great idea for the non vegan who is not overly picky about cookie dough. I however love a perfect chocolate chip cookie dough and my MIL's is awesome. Granted she has 13 kids and the recipe is huge so I usually half it and it is still enough for this recipe plus extra.

Recipe Chocolate Chip Cookie brownie cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350 and line 24 muffin tins or 48 mini muffin tins with cupcake wrappers.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
I use my kitchen aid and basically just threw it all in

Beat together on medium speed:
1 cup vegan butter (I use Earth Balance)
1 cup sugar
2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp Vanilla
4 egg whites or egg substitute

Add on medium speed:
2 tsp salt
2 tsp soda
5 cups flour

Lower speed to stir and add:
Vegan mini chocolate chips 1/2 to 1 bag depending on what you like.

Fill muffin tins about 1/3 full with the cookie dough. Then mix up the brownie mix.

Brownie recipe made easy:
1 box super moist chocolate cake (did you know it has no dairy or eggs in it?)
1/4 cup oil
1/3 cup water
2 egg whites or vegan egg substitute

Mix all ingredients in a mixer until just mixed.

Spoon brownie mix over the cookie dough about 2/3 full.

Bake for about 15 minutes. I think it took longer then that but you can start checking about then. I think it ended up being more like 20.

While you wait for the yummy smells to fill the air began making your frosting.

Chocolate Marshmallow Frosting
1 cup butter (vegan)
1 tsp vanilla
2 TBS almond milk
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 bag marshmallows (melted in the microwave 20 seconds at a time until smooth)

Mix butter, vanilla and milk on medium low speed until smooth. In a separate bowl sift together sugar and cocoa powder. Add to mixer and beat until just smooth and fluffy. Add marshmallow cream and beat just until mixed on low speed.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Butter cream (say that 3 times, seriously, it's fun)
1/2 cup butter (vegan)
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter. Make sure it is fresh good Peanut Butter. I used organic
2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 pinch of salt
1 tsp Vanilla
1-2 TBS almond milk
1/4 bag marshmallows (melted in microwave 20 seconds at a time until smooth)

Beat butter and peanut butter together in mixer until smooth. In separate bowl sift powdered sugar, salt, and cocoa powder together. Add sugar/cocoa to mix beating at a medium speed until fully combined. Add vanilla, almond milk and melted marshmallows and beat until light and fluffy. If the mixture is to creamy add more powder sugar and if not creamy enough add more almond milk. You know if it is to creamy when it won't stick to the spoon and you know it is to dry when the mixer is having trouble with it.

Wait for cupcakes to cool before you pipe on either of these yummy frosting's.

The one on the left is the marshmallow cream and the right is the Peanut butter. I added a little piece of a Mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cup so people could tell the difference.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Playable Angry Birds Cake Instructions

When I saw this video on you-tube awhile back I just knew I had to make it. I figured it would be the perfect challenge for me since I have not worked to much with fondant characters. When I first watched the video I thought all the pieces were made from cake. That looked rather tricky. Then I was studying it real closely when I noticed they were chocolate covered wafers. I knew I could do that. Then I found his instructions here. I did things a little bit differently so I will explain my version.

I spent one day, maybe an hour, making and coloring fondant for the birds and pigs. If you have a kitchen aid Fondant is actually very easy to make. Store bought is softer and easier to work with but it always has a chemically smell and the taste is not the best.
My Recipe


16 ounces white mini-marshmallows(use a good quality brand)
2 to 5 tablespoons water
2 pounds icing sugar
1/2 (Or so) cup Crisco shortening

Melt the marshmallows in the microwave for 30 seconds stir. Keep doing this until melted. The last time I made it I think it was about 90 seconds total. Grease liberally with shortening Then I stick the sugar, 2 TBS water, and melted marshmallows into my kitchen aid and let it mix for 5 minutes or so. If you notice it is sticking to much to the bowl add about a TBS of shortening. If it is to sticky add more sugar, if it is to dry add more water. When adding water be careful to add very small amounts at a time as a little will go a long way.

You want it to be a nice playdoh consistence. It should not break apart to easily when you pull it and it should not feel sticky. Roll the fondant into a ball and grease it with crisco. Wrap in plastic wrap then put it into an airtight container. You should wait 24 hour or so before using.

I made all of my fondant on a Friday. At this time I also colored the fondant. I made red, yellow, green, and blue. I had left over black I had bought for the superhero cake I had made. Black is so hard to get the right color I was ok using store bought. I used Satin Ice if you are wondering.

Then on Monday I made the birds and pigs bodies. I let them sit overnight. I had made a practice bird a few days earlier and found that the bodies would squish when I tried to add on the details. And squishy birds pre-flinging isn't really what I was going for.

Monday we also made the cake board. I say we because it required power tools and as of yet this is not one of my skills. Some day I will tackle that one and I will make amazing things like cupcake towers and cake pop stands. The board was one piece of fake wood flooring. You can get a sample from places that sell flooring for super cheap if not free. My Father-in-law happened to have one I could use.

Ryan made two holes using a super cool tool. He then shoved the pre-cut dowels in. I don't really know how big they were. I want to say half a foot. My husband is so awesome. I was just going to use one of Jared's slingshots but it was going to be way to powerful. So he made this one out of felt, iron-on backing and two hair rubber bands.

On one piece of felt he folded it in the middle to create a pull-type thing (my technical terms amaze even me) It had the iron on backing already on it so it would stick to itself when he ironed it. Then he stuck it to another piece using the stitch witchery (that's really what it is called) He then cut small slits in the sides and knotted the rubber bands on. It worked so perfectly.
Monday I also covered the board in green frosting. In hind sight I would have done this right before I put on the cake but it worked good enough. Any frosting recipe would work for this. I used a basic vegan butter cream cause I was out of shortening. I think this is my new go to recipe. I then tinted it green using Duff Goldman's food coloring. I love it the best and I can buy it at Micheal's. It is this stuff. You can use less food coloring and still get the desired color.

Vegan Butter Cream Frosting


  • 1 cup vegan butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 8 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
Mix butter, salt, almond milk, vanilla extract, and half of the powdered sugar with a mixer for 5-10 minutes.

Add the rest of the powdered sugar and beat until mixed through.

Add additional almond milk for desired consistency.

I just slathered it all over the board. Then with my spatula I went over with an up and down motion lifting the frosting up. So much quicker then the original plan to frost it on using the hair/grass tip.

Tuesday morning I made a spice box cake because that is what Jared asked for. I had intended on frosting it with chocolate frosting but when it came out such a perfect dirt color I left it. Granted it was dry this way but the boys at the party were not interested in eating the actual cake part of the cake. If my son liked cake I would have made cupcakes for the party guests to eat instead of knocked down cake pieces.

Here are the awesome store bought finds that made this cake so easy to make. I didn't use many of the mint cookies because they ended up being an odd shape. The boys did devour the cookies. What I didn't use for the cake I had on a plate for them to enjoy. They were even eating the ones that had become angry birds casualties.

I really had no structure planned in my mind when I put this together. I have played the game a few times and every level is so different I don't really think it matters to much. As I built it I did keep in mind that I needed places to place the pigs. The angry birds ended up being easier then I thought. I would take one style at a time. I would design one and use it as my model. Then I would make each piece in sets. I made all the eyes first since that was the easiest. I used a decorating tip with a medium size circle I think it was a #10. But really just look around your house and see what you could use to get the size you want. a pencil could be traced or a pen cap. I then flattened it with my finger to get the size I wanted.

To attach the parts to the birds I used a paint brush and water. A little water goes a very long way. If you use to much it will smear the colors and cause them to bleed. I stuck my paint brush into the water then shook all the water off leaving a very small amount on the brush. That seemed to work best.

Then I would make the beaks. For this I did a typical play-doh move. I made snakes. As a child that was the only thing I was good at. Play-doh was not my thing. I could never come up with anything worth the time and effort to make that didn't end up looking like a sad sad blob. I guess I have come a long way. I digress. Snakes oh wait beaks. I would roll them out long then cut them the shape I wanted. Fold them over so that the top was longer then the bottom. Most of them were to thick at this point so I just cut off the excess to get it nice and thin.

The eyebrows were super easy as well. I rolled out the fondant into a squarish shape. With a sharp knife I cut them into the different rectangle sizes.

For the feathers on top of the red and blue birds I used a similar snake technique that I used for the beaks. But this time I left them thick. I cut them to shape and folded them in the center. If one piece was to long I would break it off with my finger and then roll the end with my finger tip to make it look nice.

Here they are without the eyes drawn on yet. The white parts of the eyes need a couple hours to dry before you can draw on the black dots. My Brother-in-law said they look like zombie birds.

I used a black edible marker. I went to buy it Tuesday afternoon from the local cake decorating store called RoZ's. They only sold them in a pack of 8 or so and they were a little pricy. When I showed her what I was using them for she gave me her old pens. She is really awesome like that. Much better right?
I was a little nervous to do the pigs for some reason. Then when I did them I realized they were easier then the birds. Less detail. I can't really give much tips for the ears. I just form a triangle like shape then use a spaghetti noodle to help mold the center. For the snouts I just molded the shapes with my fingers. Then I used a noodle to poke into the snouts for the nose holes. My girls made the crown and the birthday hat.

I cleaned off my island and then slathered it with frosting, but only the length and width of my board. The frosting worked so good as my glue. It stuck to the table and did not move when Jared was slinging the birds across the room.

I seriously enjoyed the whole process of making this cake. I think that is because I have never done anything like this. My vision for this cake was exactly what I wanted and that is huge for me. Usually I have an amazing picture in my head and it doesn't end up the awesomeness I desired. But with every step of this cake I was giddy because it truly was exactly what I wanted.

Sarah took this picture of me then laughed when she saw it. She says I look like I am really concentrating.

The finished product.

I think I put in about 5 hours worth of work into this cake. Jared teased me that this cake was not really for him but for me. I just smiled cause my son sure knows me well.

With that said He loved it and I knew he would! Look at his face. It was so fun to watch him demolish this cake. He was really into it and Jared said it was easier then he thought it would be. Which was awesome because that means it worked well!
After he had sufficiently demolished the cake he let his friends have a go. It was a big hit. literally. There were angry birds all over the floor.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Joshua's superhero cake

My Joshua loves parties. I mean... a lot. He has been planning his party for several months. Picking the theme was easy, Superheros. The first thing he picked out was his cake. He would have me look online at cakes until he decided on just the right style. We ended up doing a mix of several cakes simply because I was not about to make a three tier b-day cake for a 5th birthday party.

I learned a lot doing this cake. Both good and bad. I wish I had taken more pictures of the bad but maybe documenting my mistakes will insure I don't make them again.

Look at this beautiful filling. When Josh said he wanted Strawberry cake for one of the layers I was thrilled to try a new recipe. I found online a recipe from sprinkle cupcakes. I tweaked it a little and it came out looking beautiful! Recipe to come.

Hear was mistake number one, to much filling. Did you know if you put to much filling you will create a nice bulge in the side of the cake that can not be fixed unless you take all the frosting off and start again? The lady at the local cake decorating store explained it to me like this. "When you have fat (excess) on your body their really is no way to cover it up. no matter how many layers you put on over the top of it". I think I tried smoothing it out 3 different times by adding more frosting but to no avail until I had to re-frost it.

Why did I have to re-frost it you ask? While I was at the gym my sweet 2 year old took a handful out of the cake. My husband was very cute about the whole thing. When he told me he said, "I have some news for you and you could take it as good or bad" He knew I was not pleased with the way the frosting had come out and this was I could start over. He helped out by cut a nice slice out of the cake and had it for breakfast. We turned it into a stage for the bad guy to have a place to stand.

So I guess that was a failure turned success.
I used the viva paper towel method again and I am such a believer now. I have learned that part of getting a cake really smooth is having a thick, but not to thick, frosting. That helps a ton. Store bought stuff on it's on is to soft and sticky and just doesn't seem to stay put. I have added powdered sugar to store bought to get the right consistency when I am in a hurry.

Another thing I learned was that when layering cakes you really always do need support. Even if it is a small cake. When I put the top layer on it was to heavy for the bottom layer and caused the cake to sink a bit in the back. I am not sure you can tell in this picture but I will always add support from now on.Those are comic book style buildings above and brick wall below. Turned out more like wood but it works. The brick wall was for Spiderman and the building for Batman. The clouds on the top layer were for Superman.

Joshua told me several times this was the best birthday cake ever. My mom says every cake is better with toys on it and I think Joshua could not agree more. He didn't even care that he couldn't play with his presents until after we ate the cake.