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Amy's Cake

Cake Competition

I’m so excited – I won my first cake competition! ¬†It also happens to be the first one I entered. ūüėä I found this online cake competition that picks a winner monthly. ¬†You just have to submit one or more pictures of your birthday cake creation along with the story behind the cake.
I entered my Avengers cake featured in my blog here. I guess they liked it because they gave me the prize for the month!

 

If you are interested in competing too, you can find more details on their site:

http://ideas.coolest-birthday-cakes.com/submit/

 

Happy baking and good luck!

I am in no way affiliated with Coolest Birthday Cakes. 

St Patrick’s Day Mint Chocolate Cake¬†

This St. Patrick’s Day I thought I would share one of my favorite cake recipes – mint chocolate cake and cupcakes! ¬†They taste just like an Andes mint turned into a cake.

One of my favorite desserts growing up was cream de menthe brownies. They are brownies with a layer of mint and a layer of chocolate on top. We would store them in the freezer and they would last forever. We could keep pulling one out to eat every night. I would usually eat it frozen and rock hard because I was too impatient to wait for it to thaw.:)

For St. Patrick’s Day a few years ago I wanted to turn this childhood favorite into a cake. I took the brownie recipe and my Wilton vanilla buttercream recipe and created this *dare I say* masterpiece.

The first time I made this recipe I made the cake version. It is a chocolate cake with mint icing and chocolate “ganache”. I used Andes mints as decoration. I say “ganache” because this recipe just uses chocolate and butter. True ganache uses cream and chocolate. It still tastes and looks good, so I’m not complaining!

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I loved the cake so much (this was back when I was still eating sugar) that I made this recipe again, but decided to make it into a cupcake. Cupcakes are faster to make, so I wanted to try this alternative. I garnished each cupcake with an Andes mint cut diagonally.

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I love Andes mints! ¬†So it’s no surprise that I would love these cupcakes! ¬†The cake is a boxed cake mix – can’t really get any easier than that. The icing is American Buttercream with cream de¬†menthe. ¬†They cream de¬†menthe adds color to the icing so there is no need to add food coloring. If the green is not strong enough, then the flavor is probably too weak too.

This is one recipe I will be keeping in my recipe box – and pulling out all year long. How about you? ¬†What are your favorite St Patrick’s Day recipes?

 

Recipe


Cake

Your favorite boxed cake mix baked according to the box directions.


Icing

Covers and fills an 8″ cake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2lbs powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cream de¬†menthe
  • 2-6 tablespoons milk

Steps

  1. In an electric mixer, beat the butter and shortening until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the vanilla.
  3. Slowly add the powdered sugar, beating on low speed.
  4. Once the powdered sugar has been incorporated, add 2 tablespoons of milk and the cream de menthe. Mix well at low speed.
  5. Add milk to thin the icing as desired.

 

Ganache

Covers an 8″ cake

Ingredients

  • 1/2cup butter
  • 12oz semisweet chocolate chips

Steps

  1. Melt the butter and chocolate chips in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally.
  2. Once the chocolate has melted, remove from heat.
  3. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before applying to cake. Putting hot chocolate on buttercream can melt the buttercream! Placing the cake in the fridge prior to applying the cake can help prevent melting.

Sugar Free Buttercream Frosting

I ate a cupcake!  I am jumping for joy!!  And also getting laughed at by how giddy I am.

I had this ah-ha! moment with Italian Meringue Buttercream.¬†If it uses granulated sugar and manages to come out smooth and not grainy, then I could use Xylitol (and not have to powder it) and I should be able to make a super smooth buttercream, right? ¬†That’s exactly what I tried, and after a disastrous first attempt, I did it!! ¬†I managed a silky smooth completely sugar free buttercream!

For my first attempt, I took a standard Italian Meringue Buttercream recipe and substituted the sugar for Xylitol. I didn’t make any other changes. ¬†The meringue was gorgeous, but after I added the butter I ended up with was a big soupy mess!

Meringue
Meringue

 

Attempt 1
Soupy Mess!

So, I figured I would put it in the fridge to stiffen it up a bit and then re-beat. ¬†I left it in the fridge for about an hour and it did start to thicken. ¬†It seemed like the right time to put it back in the mixer, so I started to beat it. ¬†Right away it started to separate. ¬†But have no fear, they say Italian Meringue can do this but just keep beating and it will come back together. ¬†Well… It did not. ¬†I ended up with liquid egg/xylitol syrup at the bottom of the bowl and solid butter attached to my beater blade. ¬†Completely 100% separated! ¬†A complete failure!!

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Complete Failure!

But, by now I had already baked the cupcakes and I needed frosting to go with them, so I wasn’t going to be deterred. ¬†I went back to the store for more butter and tried again. ¬†Maybe I did something wrong the first time and my temperatures were off?? ¬†I had to try. ¬†The same thing happened that I got a soupy mess after I added all of my butter.

Attempt 2

BUT Рthis time I decided to keep going and added more butter.  I added an extra half stick of butter and the clouds parted and the heavens shined down.  I had buttercream frosting!

Success

 

Icing Review

It’s so silky¬†smooth, it just melts in your mouth and makes you want to say “mmmm”. ¬†I could serve this icing to other people and they wouldn’t know it was sugar free, which is the best compliment I can give any sugar free recipe!

What I like best about this icing is that it isn’t too sweet. ¬†For anyone that has been off of sugar, full sugar foods are just disgustingly sweet. ¬†But this recipe is nothing short of¬†sinful it is so delicious. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! ¬†You have got to go and make this now!!

 

Cupcake review

On its own, the cupcake is ok, but not great. ¬†It is a little dense, which is to be expected since I switched out the all purpose flour for whole grain flour. ¬†It isn’t very sweet or flavorful. ¬†This cupcake tastes more like a muffin than a cake. ¬†In fact, my 4-year old daughter ate one without frosting thinking it was a muffin. ¬†That’s actually a compliment because I usually can’t get her to eat muffins or cake (just frosting).ūüôā

The cupcake and icing together didn’t work well. ¬†When the two were mixed together, the cool Xylitol flavor in the cupcakes started coming out a tad bit. ¬†And the two just did not compliment each other at all. ¬†I have high hopes that with a different cupcake recipe, I¬†will find a winning combination! ¬†For now,¬†I’ll eat my dozen cupcakes and enjoy my amazing icing while searching for my perfect cupcake.ūüôā

Sugar Free Cupcake 1

 

Cupcake recipe:

I used the vanilla cupcake recipe found here and substituted whole grain flour for the all-purpose flour:

http://www.xylabrands.com/sugar-free-cupcakes-with-xylitol/

 

Sugar Free Italian Meringue Buttercream Recipe:

Recipe easily covers and fills 8″ cake

Ingredients

  • 1¬ľ cups Xylitol, divided (I like Zint found here or Morning Pep found here)
  • ‚Öď cup water
  • 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • ¬ĺ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2¬Ĺ cups (5 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

 

Instructions

  1. Place 1 cup of Xylitol and water in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Brush sides of saucepan occasionally with wet pastry brush to remove crystals.  Simmer until the Xylitol has reached 248-250 F on a candy thermometer.  Meanwhile, prepare the egg mixture.
  2. Whip the egg whites with a whisk attachment of a stand mixture until frothy. ¬†Add the cream of tartar and continue whipping until soft peaks form. ¬†Add the remaining¬†¬ľ cup Xylitol slowly. ¬†Whip the mixture on high speed until glossy white stiff peaks form.
  3. When the Xylitol mixture has reached the desired temperature,¬†remove from heat. ¬†Note that Xylitol will not achieve the “soft ball” stage that sugar achieves where the consistency¬†begins to thicken. ¬†The only method to determine¬†readiness of Xylitol is through temperature. ¬†With the mixer running at low speed, pour¬†the Xylitol syrup into the egg mixture in a thin stream, ensuring the syrup does not touch the sides of the bowl or the whisk attachment.
  4. Whip the meringue mixture at high speed until cooled (5-10 minutes).  At this point, switch out to a beater attachment.  Then, add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time until all of the butter has been incorporated.  The icing consistency may look off during the process, but have no fear!  Continue to add butter and beat.  It will come together in the end.
  5. Add any desired flavorings to taste. I used almond extract and vanilla extract.  Just using vanilla extract did not hide the cool mint Xylitol flavor completely.  The flavor options are endless here!

 

Icing recipe adapted from bakepedia:

http://www.bakepedia.com/italian-meringue-buttercream-recipe/

 

I have not been compensated by Zyla in any way for my review of the Xyla cupcake recipe.

Ice Cream Sundae Birthday Cake

For my next fun cake, I made a faux ice cream sundae with over sized candles.  It is a 4-layer yellow cake with Italian Meringue Buttercream icing.  The pictures really speak for themselves.

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I added some heat to the bottoms of the flames by spraying them with red paint.  The wicks are made out of spaghetti painted black.

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The sundae comes complete with a maraschino cherry and whipped cream.  I added a crack in the cherry that the maraschino cherries sometimes get and added a corn syrup glaze for some extra shine.  The glaze is made out of equal parts corn syrup and white rum (I was out of vodka!).

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The cherry and whipped cream are made out of fondant.  The candles, flames, and cherry stem are made out of modeling chocolate.

One mistake I made was that I would support the candles all the way through next time.  This would help them stand up perfectly straight.  I put the supports for the candles straight down into the cake board, which helps prevent the candles from falling over and keeps the weight off the cake.

Doesn’t this just look delicious? ¬†I can’t wait to dig into a bowl of ice cream!

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Dr Seuss Cake

I have been traveling and haven’t been able to bake for a couple weeks. So, I decided now is a great time to tell you all about my daughter’s 1st birthday cake! This is the first cake I made. I made a few practice cakes ahead of time – testing the flavors and the colors. My coworkers loved getting all my practice cakes!!

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Practice Cake – Testing Colors
I even practiced stacking the tiers in the topsy turvy way that I wanted it!  I obviously wasn’t concerned about perfectly smooth buttercream for the practice cake.ūüôā

 

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Practice Cake – Testing Colors
We had picked a Dr Suess theme for the party.  Not “The Cat and the Hat” or any one book in particular, but all of the Dr Suess books. All of the food fit the theme in some way, we made Truffula tree decorations, and had a home made Cat in the Hat food platter.
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Naturally the cake had to fit right in. The cake is centered around “Oh, The Places You’ll Go”.

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The clouds and hills were made out of gum paste.  We wrote phrases from the book with an edible marker. The marker did bleed slightly, which makes the words less crisp. I did mine the day before and the bleeding occurred as it sat over night.  Some trial and error with the brand of marker may avoid this problem in the future.

We used pre-made gum paste from Wilton for the decorations.  We then colored it and rolled it out to the desired thickness and cut out the decorations.

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The baby was made out of clay. I am not the best sculptor and was nervous about creating this the day before it was needed and not having it turn out well – wish I knew about modeling chocolate back then!!  I despise using non-edible items on a cake, but this was my first one after all. I had to make some choices.

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Dr Suess is all about things at wacky angles and defying the laws of physics, so I wanted the cake to look like it was falling over, but not in your typical topsy turvy way. As a 1st birthday cake, I wanted it to represent my daughter too. She LOVES climbing on things. 3 years later she is still climbing all over the furniture and seeing what she can jump off of. So the idea of having a baby climbing up the cake and pulling over the top layer seemed perfect!  I wanted it to really look like the baby was pulling the cake down.  Here is a 360 look of the cake:

FrontRight sideBackLeft Side 1Left Side 2

In the clouds and the hills it says

“Congratulations! Today is your day.  You’re off to great places!  You’re off and Away!”

“You have brains in your head.  You have feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

The practice cake was a bit more stable than the final cake.  After about an hour the top layer fell over.  We could all see it coming, so I had time to fix it if I wanted, but I kind of liked the end result.  It seemed even more fitting since babies are known for causing trouble!

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The inside was colored to fit the theme of the day as well:

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So there it is, my first cake.  It’s not perfect and I think I’ve come a long way since then!  But I will always love my first.

Baby Shower Cookie Bouquet

I love Craftsy.  I am producing better cakes and cookies than I ever thought possible since I found this site!  Most importantly, it gives me the confidence to try new things.

I have never decorated cookies before now. Ok, that’s not entirely true. I sprinkled sugar cookies with sprinkles. This past Christmas I tried decorating sugar cookies with my daughter and her friends… a total failure! ¬†I bought a tube of sugar cookie dough and tried using that to create cut out shapes. It was too sticky to roll and wouldn’t cut out shapes! ¬†We ended up molding our own shapes but they deformed into melted snowmen in the oven and you could barely tell what they were suppose to be!

And now enter Craftsy… ¬†My mom had given me cookie decorating with Autumn Carpenter (Decorating Essentials: Designer Cookies) for Christmas and I couldn’t even wait until I was home from vacation to watch it. It was so awesome with the best tips and step by step instructions. ¬†So now just a few short weeks later I made my first cookie bouquet!

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I used Autumn’s cookie recipe that she provided in the class. I rolled out the chilled dough to about 1/4 inch thick. Then I cut out the shapes for the cookies.

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I printed out a template for the cookies in regular paper and then sprayed the back with cooking spray so that the paper wouldn’t stick to the dough.

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The first cuts I made were with a pizza cutter and just the rough outline of the cookie. The pizza cutter makes clean cuts where a knife leaves jagged marks. Once the outline was done, I removed the paper and then used a knife for the rounded corners and details.

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Before I put the cookies in the oven, I poked a stick through. This has to be done before the cookie is baked as it would crumble after baking.

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After the cookies have been baked and cooled, the stick should be reinforced by adding icing to the back side of the cookie. Turn the cookie right side up and allow the icing to harden for 24 hours before moving the cookies. You can decorate the cookies in this time.

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Apply icing to secure sticks
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Icing after flattening and hardening

Now it is time to decorate the cookies! ¬†This is where the Craftsy class really comes in handy. Autumn shows you how to thin royal icing to the right consistency to make run sugar and lots of techniques to make different effects depending on what you are going for. For instance, the white part of the duck’s eye I made to blend in with the yellow by applying the white while the yellow was still wet.

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The black part of the eye and the wing are raised because I waited for the white to dry before adding the additional detail.
Unless you are an expert royal icing decorator, I would recommend letting the layers dry completely (24 hours) before adding additional features. On one of my bottles, my icing came out sooner than I had expected and I got a big glob of icing where I didn’t want it. I, of course, panicked even though that’s the #1 rule that everyone tells you about cake decorating – not to panic. So I really quickly wiped up the extra icing. But! The icing hadn’t completely set. ¬†The top had crusted and was hard, but it was still wet underneath. When I wiped up the icing, I made a divot in my base layer! ¬†I tried to fill it in as best I could, but there really is no hiding it completely.

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Once all the cookies were decorated and the icing was set, I arranged them into a bouquet.

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Odd numbers are more appealing in bouquets, so be sure to count your cookies at the start.  I put a piece of styrofoam into the pal to hold the cookies and decorative rocks at the bottom for weight. But a large chunk of modeling chocolate would have been better. If you use modeling chocolate, it adds weight by itself. Also, you can easily stick the cookies into the chocolate repeatedly while you determine the best position for each cookie.
For final touches, add a plastic wrap or bag to each cookie for freshness. They should be loosely wrapped, not airtight.

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So there you have it – the cookie bouquet! ¬†It’s not so scary after all.

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Almond Cookies

In my never ending quest for sugar free / grain free desserts, I bring you sugar-free Almond Cookies! ¬†This cookie recipe was derived from Carpenter’s sugar cookie recipe. She describes her cookies as a soft crumb. That is also a good description of these cookies, though they are not as firm.

My all time favorite cookie is the walnut crescent and this sugar free cookie tastes just like them! ¬†Next time I will try rolling them in xylitol while they are still warm and I’m sure it will be an exact replica of my childhood classic. ¬†Yes, I realize one is made of walnuts and the other almonds, but you would be amazed how similar they taste in the end.
This sugar-free /grain free variety uses almond flour instead of white flour. The almond flour gives it a nice soft almond taste without being overpowering. ¬†When baking with almond flour, the final product is a bit more grainy than they are when using regular flour. That works to our advantage in this recipe as it gives the illusion of finely chopped nuts in the cookie. You would never know it wasn’t made with white flour!

The other key benefit to this cookie is that it uses xylitol instead of sugar. Xylitol has an extremely low glycemic index, which makes it a great choice for anyone trying to control their blood sugar levels. You can read more about how much I love xylitol here.

These cookies are perfect for cutting out shapes and decorating. After making the dough, chill it several hours. Then it will be ready to roll out and cut to the desired shapes. When baking, they won’t deform, so the shape you cut is exactly the shape you will get in the final cookie!

Sorry for the lack of pictures on this one! ¬†I forgot to take pictures along the way…:-/ ¬†Here’s a look at the final product. ¬†I covered some of them in royal icing, which is made with powered sugar and those ones are therefore obviously not sugar free.

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Recipe

Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, softened

3 ounces of cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup xylitol, optional: powder the xylitol for better blending (I like Zint found here or Morning Pep found here)

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/2 cups almond flour

1/2 cup coconut flour

 

Directions

  • Mix the butter and cream cheese in an electric mixer on medium speed until well blended.
  • Add the xylitol and mix on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  • Add the egg and mix on low.
  • Add the almond flour and coconut flour, 1 cup at a time. ¬†Scrape the bowl after each cup. ¬†Mix until just moistened. ¬†Be careful not to overmix the dough or it will toughen.
  • Remove the dough from the mixer and knead by hand if necessary to blend the ingredients thoroughly.
  • Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
  • Remove the dough and it is ready to roll out and cut into shapes. ¬†If the dough is sticky, refrigerate for longer or add additional coconut flour.
  • Tip: Cut out the shapes directly on the cookie sheet, this will prevent you from having to move your cookies and potentially deform them.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 9-11 minutes or until the edges¬†have just started to turn brown.

 

This post may contain affiliate links which means that, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase. Thanks so much for your support!

Avengers Cake

If you need to make a cake for a superhero fan, like I did, it’s only natural to choose the Avengers. It’s a collection of superheroes all in one. Ok, so it’s not always the best or classic superheroes like Spider-Man and Batman, but you’ve got Thor and Iron Man and Captain America! ¬†So I set out to make the best Avengers cake for a superhero fan.

Most importantly, I didn’t want the cake to be too unevenly weighted towards one of the superheroes. ¬†So, I decided to cover the cake in grey fondant with smaller fondant pieces “riveted” on to make it look like metal. I love the way it turned out! This technique could be used for all sorts of cakes.

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This metal look is much simpler than it appears. Once the cake is covered in an even layer of fondant, cut out odd shaped pieces of fondant. You can be creative with the shapes and they don’t need to be exact, which means you can move quickly. To attach the pieces to the cake, add water to the back of the fondant shapes. ¬†This will make the fondant stick together.

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Once you have your pieces in place, use the back of a skewer to make round dots that look like rivets all along the inside and outside edges of the fondant pieces.  The best part about this technique is if you have a blemish in the original fondant, just cover it up with a fondant shape!  Just look at this huge mess I covered up:

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I had to lift my fondant off the cake after I laid it down and I didn’t want to have to redo the whole thing.
One issue I ran into with the fondant is it wouldn’t stick to my cake. In all the online tutorials they show you just rolling the fondant over the cake. Simple right? ¬†But what they don’t tell you is that fondant doesn’t stick to crusted buttercream! ¬†Next time I would put the fondant on directly after icing the cake. Or if that isn’t possible I would spritz the buttercream with just a small amount of water.

 

The other problem I had with the fondant is that it weighed down my cake. I had wanted to save myself some time and used a box cake mix I had laying around. Big mistake!  The first layer of grey fondant was so heavy it start to squish the cake and I ended up with a bulging cake.
Once the base layer of fondant is in place it is time to add decorations. I chose to create all of the characters from Avengers: Age of Ultron.

I free handed a mask for Iron Man and then let it dry over an 8″ pot. You could also use a template for this. Then I dusted the entire mask with gold luster dust to give it a gold metal look.

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For Thor, I created his hammer. ¬†The mallet is made out of Rice Krispie treat and covered in grey modeling chocolate. ¬†One of the nice things about modeling chocolate is that it stiffens quickly. You don’t need to wait the few days it would take for fondant to dry. ¬†It is also very sturdy, so I wasn’t worried about the hammer getting deformed in any way.

For the handle, I snaked out a brown piece of modeling chocolate and then put a skewer all the way through the length of the handle and into the mallet. I then wrapped grey modeling chocolate around the handle for embellishment.  I used Wilton Dab-N-Hold to help keep the design where I wanted it. I was so thankful to have this!  The chocolate kept slipping down without it. Definitely a life saver.

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For The Hulk, I made his iconic green fist. First, I molded Rice Krispie treat into a fist. I did this step while the treats were still warm because I could freely form the treats into any shape I wanted. After they have cooled, they are much too hard to mold. The only way to shape them into a fist at that point would be to carve the treat.  Once I was happy with the fist made out of Rice Krispie treats, I left it to harden.

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The following day, I covered it in green fondant, making sure to push the fondant into the grooves I had created in the treat. I then added indentations into the fondant such as knuckle lines and the natural folds of the skin. I enhanced these areas with food coloring. I simply mixed gel food coloring and water and brushed it on to the areas I wanted to darken, such as the knuckles and lines on the palms. I also added veins on the back of the hand for character. The water in the food coloring inadvertently made areas of the fist shiny. Oops! ¬†I hadn’t quite planned on that. It was a good thing I had a few days before the big reveal. It gave the fist time to lose the shine. Some of the color dulled as well, but not too badly. Next time I would mix vodka and food coloring. ¬†This should keep the fondant from getting shiny.

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Captain America’s shield was one of the easiest components. I purchased circle cookie cutters of various sizes. Wilton has this great set of matching cutters with consistently larger circles. This allowed me to cut the circles evenly. I used a glass that was just the right size for the final ring as I didn’t have a cookie cutter large enough. For the center, I picked out a star size that matched the inner ring (Wilton also sells the star set). Then, I attached all the pieces together by brushing the backs of each piece with a little bit of water, making sure to brush all the way to the edges. And voila! A shield!

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The last two characters I debated about adding to the cake, because let’s face it, they are kinda lame. Who’s heard of Black Widow or Hawkeye? ¬†But an Avengers cake wouldn’t be complete without all the latest Avengers. And a true Avengers fan would notice! ¬†Since Hawkeye is known for his bow and arrow, I created two arrows for the cake. I wrapped two posts in black fondant and molded an arrowhead and feathers and placed it on top of the cake.

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For Black Widow, I created a black widow spider out of fondant. ¬†I used a toothpick to help secure the head to the body. ¬†The legs are made out of black licorice that I poked into the body and secured with black royal icing I had lying around. To make her shiny, I mixed corn syrup and water and painted it on for a glossy finish. ¬†I used a¬†toothpick to keep the spider from falling off the cake. I love the way she’s positioned like she’s crawling over the edge of the cake!

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For Hulk’s fist, I wanted it to look like he¬†had just punched through the metal. To do this, I first needed to lay a circle of parchment paper down on my cake before covering it in the grey fondant. ¬†This was the step I almost forgot! ¬†I had to lift my fondant to put the parchment paper in and ended up with that large blemish I mentioned earlier. ¬†The parchment paper will keep the fondant separate from your buttercream so that when you peel back the fondant, it comes off cleanly. After the cake is completely covered, make 3 long intersecting cuts in the top of the fondant, giving you 6 wedge pieces. You can then peel back the triangle pieces of fondant to reveal to hole for the fist to “pop” through. With a small blade, snag the parchment paper and pull it out before inserting the fist.


I also gave the triangles a twist to make them look like twisted metal. ¬†I put 2 long skewers through Hulk’s fist. I measured the cake and cut my skewers to the exact same length as the cake. This prevents sagging in the center of the cake due to the extra weight of the fist.
What do you think of the final cake?   I loved the way it turned out!  The spider was my favorite, even though she was one of the easiest things to do!

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This post may contain affiliate links which means that, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase. Thanks so much for your support!

 

Coconut Pecan Cake

In my quest to find a sugar free / grain free cake, I have stumbled upon this amazing coconut cake. There are tons of Paleo recipes out there that are grain free, but they also come with sugar substitutes that raise your blood sugar. Even honey or bananas are enough to raise my blood sugar level. And I don’t do artificial sweeteners. ¬†I have tried them all – Stevia, Nutrisweet, Monk fruit, you name it. They all have an awful after taste or give me a headache.

So what’s the answer? ¬†Xylitol. Wonderful, glorious xylitol. ¬†It is an all natural sweetener that tastes just like sugar! ¬†It has become a popular sweetener for sugar-free gum in recent years. ¬†It doesn’t have a horrible after taste like so many other sugar substitutes. And best of all, it has a low glycemic index so it won’t raise your blood sugar level. Be aware that you shouldn’t eat xylitol in large quantities as it may result in mild gastrointestinal discomfort. ¬†It is also fatal for dogs, even in small quantities, so keep it away from your canine friends.

There are two types of xylitol, the kind made from birch (made in USA) and the kind made from corn (made in China). ¬†If you want to stay away from GMO’s, then be sure to find the xylitol that specifically states “birch” on the packaging. ¬†I like this one. ¬†If you do not mind xylitol made from corn (they taste the same in the end), then your best deal is to pick up Xylitol By Zint here.

But I digress.  This cake is a combination of coconut flour, xylitol, and coconut sugar.  As anyone who has ever tried it knows, it is quite difficult to substitute coconut flour for regular flour as you also need to adjust the amount of eggs and liquid in the recipe.  It took me a few tries to get the ratio right, but I have finally found the winning combination for this recipe.

Recipes with coconut flour tend to be very dense and eggy. To avoid this problem, I have separated the eggs and whipped the egg whites before incorporating them into the cake batter. The results are a moist cake that is much lighter than a traditional coconut cake, though still a little denser than a cake from a box mix.

For the icing, I have substituted xylitol for powdered sugar. Xylitol comes in granular form and looks just like granular sugar. In order to use it in frosting, you need to grind it into a powder with a blender or coffee grinder. I prefer to grind my xylitol to a powder before adding it to the cake as well as xylitol does not dissolve as easily as sugar. In icing, the primary flavor is xylitol, but xylitol has a “fresh” taste to it. Sort of like that feeling you get after you brush your teeth and then anything else you eat or drink is colder than usual. This works out great if you’re making a mint frosting, but if you aren’t (like this recipe) you need to overpower the xylitol fresh taste with other flavorings, such as extracts. It doesn’t take a lot but will take more than the standard icing recipe. For a standard buttercream icing, I like to add almond and vanilla extract. ¬†For this recipe I decided to add some coconut extract which gives the icing a kick of coconut while knocking out the xylitol. A win-win!

Let’s just say that I am in love with this cake! ¬†I practically enhaled it. And I kept going back for more! ¬†It could been because I’ve been deprived of cake for over a year now or it could just be because it is that¬†good. ¬†I saved one layer for myself (I had to taste test it afterall) and I served the other layer at a baby shower and all the guests loved it – sugar free / grain free and all!

 

 

Coconut Pecan Cake Recipe

Ingredients
For the cake:

  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut (Use unsweetened for a sugar free cake. ¬†You can use sweetened flaked coconut if you don’t mind a small amount of sugar.)

For the frosting:

    • 2 cups chopped pecans, divided
    • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
    • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
    • 4 cups powdered xylitol (measure after)¬†(I like Zint found here¬†or Morning Pep found here)

 

Instructions:

Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Prepare two 8″ round cake pans. (I like to use Wilton Cake Release)
  3. Mix together coconut flour and baking soda. Set aside.
  4. In an electric mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy.
  5. Measure 1/2 cup of xylitol, then grind to a powder in a blender or coffee grinder (optional).
  6. Gradually add the xylitol and coconut sugar. Mix well.
  7. Add the egg yolks, beating well after each yolk. Reserve the egg whites.
  8. Mix in the vanilla.
  9. Add the flour mixture alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix at low speed.
  10. Stir in coconut.
  11. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  12. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
  13. Spread the batter evenly into prepared pans. Bake immediately.
  14. Bake for 35-45 min, or until cake has darkened across the top and the center springs back when touched.
  15. Cool on cooling racks for about 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely.

Icing:

  1. Spread the pecans as a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast the pecans at 350 degrees for 3-6 minutes. Be careful not to over bake as they will burn quickly! Set aside to cool.
  2. In an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together at medium speed until fluffy.
  3. Add the vanilla and coconut extract and mix well.
  4. Grind 2-3 cups of xylitol to a fine powder. Use a fine mesh sifter to filter out larger xylitol particles. Measure out 4 cups of the powdered Xylitol and add it to the icing mixture gradually. Beat at low speed after each cup of xylitol is added.
  5. At this point I chose to grind 1 cup of pecans so that the icing was fairly smooth with only a few chunks of pecans. You can add 1 cup of chopped pecans to the icing if you prefer. Mix well.
  6. To make the icing light and fluffy, switch to a whisk attachment and beat on high.
  7. After icing the cake, garnish the cake with remaining 1 cup of chopped pecans.

 

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Cake Batter
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Cake ready for oven
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Cake after baking
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Finished 1-layer cake

cake.jpg

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