Chocolate Cupcakes. This recipe is from Zabar’s in New York City.
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
⅓ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) Earth Balance Vegan Buttery sticks, at room
temperature, plus extra for greasing the pan (can substitute unsalted butter)
1 cup dark brown sugar (can use coconut sugar)
⅓ cup sour cream (I used reduced fat in the video)
½ cup cold coffee or water
Chocolate Cocoa (Cacao) Butter Buttercream
This buttercream recipe stands out from all of the others in that real food grade quality cocoa butter is one of the ingredients. I’ve used cocoa butter in other recipes but not often because it’s very expensive and I can only find it on the internet. To purchase food grade quality cocoa butter here is the link
6tbsp cocoa butter, melted and slightly cooled
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (more for darker, and i often use dark cocoa powder)
2 1/2 – 3 cups powdered sugar (depending how sweet you like it)
1/4-1/2 cup heavy cream (or coconut cream)
1/2 tsp chocolate extract (You can sub vanilla extract)
Make your own chocolate extract
Swiss Merengue Buttercream Icing is my favorite kind of buttercream icing. It’s lighter, less greasy, tastes better, yet it still holds a great consistency for roses. My recipe below is a clean eating version. This recipe makes a lot of buttercream. Enough for 30 cupcakes or to fill and ice an 8 inch cake. You can freeze leftover icing for up to 6 months.
6 fresh large egg whites
1 1/2 cups organic sugar or stevia blend (organic sugar is a slightly off white color so your buttercream will be a little darker.
2 cups organic confectioners sugar, sifted (If you have organic sugar, make your own Confectioner’s sugar)
3/4 cup Spectrum Brand non-hydrogenated shortening (There are other brands of non-hydrogenated shortenings on the market as well. Mostly found in health food stores).
2 cups Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks (unsalted butter can be used too)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract.
For Chocolate Buttercream:
8 ounces of either bittersweet or semi-sweet melted baking chocolate
1 tablespoon Chocolate Extract (optional)
In a double boiler, whisk together the organic sugar and egg whites until it reaches approximately 125 degrees and the sugar has dissolved.
Attach the beater attachment to a heavy duty mixer.
Pour the egg white/sugar mixture into the bowl of your mixer and beat on high speed until it’s thick and glossy, approximately 3-5 minutes or until stiff peaks.
Turn mixer down to low speed and add in the confectioner’s sugar. Once the sugar is thorough incorporated, add in the butter and shortening. Continue to mix on high speed until creamy, about 5 more minutes. Last, add in the vanilla extract and mix for another minute or two.
For Chocolate Buttercream Leave out the vanilla extract and replace with optional chocolate extract. After you make the buttercream, add in the melted chocolate.
I hope to do more of these quick tutorials for beginner cake decorating. Keep in mind that even these easy techniques take some practice and getting used to.
Shell borders are found on more cakes than any other border. They are easy to master and even if you don’t do them perfect, they still look great. It’s the border I use on my signature cookies.
Icing should be stiff enough so that the shell will hold its shape but thin enough so the icing will squeeze through the tube.
I used a Wilton tube 22 in this video.
NOTE: This video was filmed with my Gopro which doesn’t have a zoom lens. To see the details better, watch this in full screen.
I used the Best Gingerbread Cookie Recipe
For these cookies I didn’t use any template but I did make a few outlines with an edible marker. I could have just eye-balled it. I also used very small tip (0,1) because my butterfly cookies were small. The technique used is known as “wet-on-wet” because the icing should still be very wet when adding the next color. You have to work fairly quickly so the icing doesn’t set.
If you don’t have a scribe, no worries. You can use a clean(never before used) sewing needle or a toothpick.
We all know someone we’d like to send these cookies to. To be honest, they are one of my favorite cookies to make and also very easy. It doesn’t take that much decorating skill either. Very little royal icing is used.
For the gems check our my video below
To make the ring, I used Gold gel paste color and various colors for the finger nails.
And here they are made with gingerbread. I just love the nail art.
Clear piping gell was used to hold on the gems because royal icing underneath the gems would change the clarity and color of the gem. I added sanding sugar on top of the purple nail and I used the wet-on-wet technique for the yellow nail.
If you look closely at these hands you’ll notice the mistake I made. I forgot to polish the thumbnail.
I was not one to jump completely on the bandwagon with rolled fondant. Not because I don’t like it. It’s just that I like cake decorated with buttercream and royal icing. It takes a lot more skill and practice to learn how to make cakes with icing stringwork, fancy borders, and flowers.
On the other hand, fondant can be used for sculpting and 3 dimensional decorations so I’m not knocking the use of fondant either. It’s just a personal preference for me to decorate with buttercream and royal icing.
The video above was made off the cuff but pretty much covers my thoughts on Rolled Fondant. As far as the taste goes, even though you can purchase flavored fondant, it still tastes nasty.
These chocolate hearts are were made using a Wilton candy pop mold and left out the stick. They are part of these cookies I am making.
No need to buy fancy cookie cutters, all of the cookies below, with the exception of Minnie Mouse, are made with heart cutters, creativity and simple patterns I found on Pinterest.
I poked a hole on the top prior to baking so I can make this an ornament with one or more cookies.
Minnie Mouse is actually 4 cookies. I used a Mickey Mouse cookie cutter I picked up at DisneyWorld. To make the bow, I used this image and made a template. Smaller hearts were used for the sunglasses
The heart cookie underneath Minnie is a nice complement and I attached a small matching ribbon with royal icing.
The silhouette was made using this template