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Cake

If you like carrot cake, you'll love Ginger-Coconut Carrot Cake. The extra hit of spice and the gorgeous tall layers make this simple cake spectacular.

Ginger-Coconut Carrot Cake

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If you like carrot cake, you’ll absolutely love Ginger-Coconut Carrot Cake. The extra hit of spice and the gorgeous tall layers make this simple cake spectacular.

Friends, this is your new favorite cake. I just wanted to say that first, in case there was any confusion as to why your life is changing at this moment. You have a new favorite cake! This is big news!Ginger-Coconut Carrot Cake
Many of you have lived to this point in your lives and thought your favorite cake was chocolate, or yellow cake with chocolate frosting – even spice cake or cherry chip. Heck, some of you may have even favorited plain old carrot cake (which is divine of course).
But I am here to change your life… Not really, I’m just here to share cool recipes with you…But in the process I’m changing lives. LOL.

You have a new favorite cake! Ginger Coconut Carrot Cake. This is big news!

Let me tell you a little story about where this cake came from. In cooking school we were tasked with making cakes in class one week. We were divided into groups and to be honest I don’t even remember who I was paired with. Our cake was probably fine. It’s long forgotten.
Michelle and her partner made a ginger carrot cake. IT WAS AMAZING! Even the chef instructor was pretty blown away. We all wanted the recipe. We all wanted nothing more than to bathe in the deliciousness of this cake for the rest of our lives. Michelle, what is the recipe?

Ginger-Coconut Carrot Cake

So Michelle didn’t have the recipe. SHE HAD THROWN IT AWAY! She had also gotten the recipe from the underside of the label that came off of her new cake pan. It was a brand recipe from the cheap-o grocery store cake pan she had bought.

We searched the garbage cans, she looked at home, we sat her down under an interrogation lamp to see what her brain could remember. Nothing! We came up with nothing. She didn’t even remember where she had purchased the pan.

I spent years searching online and looking at every grocery store cake pan I could find. The recipe never surfaced. I set out to make my own version. I could only hope it would be the same.
Friends, this is the closest I could get. And it rocks. Enjoy!

Ginger-Coconut Carrot Cake

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: 12 servings

Ginger-Coconut Carrot Cake

Think you like carrot cake? After you taste this, you'll absolutely love it!

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, plus more for pans
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 1 1/2 cups toasted sweetened coconut
  • Large coconut shavings, toasted
  • Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 lb (4 cups) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350˚ F. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans; line bottom of pans with parchment. Grease and sprinkle with granulated sugar, tapping out excess; set aside. Stir together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  2. Beat eggs and granulated sugar until light. Add ginger and oil. Stir in flour mixture. Fold in grated carrots, pecans, and sweetened coconut.
  3. Divide batter among three pans and bake for 25 to 30 min or until cakes bounce back when touched in the center. Cool 15 min. Turn cakes out of pans and cool, top sides up.
  4. For Frosting: Beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and beat just until combined and smooth.
  5. Assemble cakes on platter, spreading the center of each cake with a generous layer of frosting. Garnish with coconut shavings.
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Recipe & food styling Tara Bench
Originally published in Ladies’ Home Journal April 2009
Photographs Kate Mathis
Prop Styling Megan Hedgpeth

 

Pink Lemonade goes from the glass to the cake plate with this citrusy, sweet dessert.

Pink Lemonade Cake

By | Cake, Entertaining, Holidays + Seasons, Uncategorized | No Comments

Pink Lemonade goes from the glass to the cake plate with this citrusy, sweet dessert.

 

I’ll take mine in a cake please! She said when he offered her pink lemonade.
Fluffy frosting covers cake layered with pink lemon curd. Oh my! Kind of the perfect dessert ever created.

Pink Lemonade Cake

For the filling I made a traditional lemon curd but added some cranberry juice for a pink punch. Just like your favorite summer drink! The frosting is my lemony version of 7-minute icing (a fluffy, quick-meringue type frosting). I added lemon juice to give it a little zing of course.

You’ll want to frost the cake right after you make the icing. This type of icing stiffens quickly and loses it’s smooth spread. Once you get your perfect swirls and peaks on the cake though, it will hold it’s beautiful form for quite a while!

Pink Lemonade Cake

I candied some lemon zest to put on top. It’s a fancy feature you’re welcome to do as well! However no one will complain if there’s none, or some fun sprinkles instead.

 

Pink Lemonade Cake

Prep Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: Serves 10

Pink Lemonade Cake

To make the white lemon cake layers, add 2 tbsp lemon zest to a white cake mix or your favorite white cake recipe.

Ingredients

    For the Cake:
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup cranberry juice cocktail
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 large egg plus 2 large egg yolks
  • 3 drops red food coloring
  • 2 8-inch white lemon cake layers
  • For the frosting:
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 3 drops red food coloring
  • Candied lemon zest

Instructions

  1. To make the lemon curd filling, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, cranberry juice, lemon juice, egg and yolks in a medium heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture becomes very thick, 5 to 7 min. Continue to cook and stir until the mixture boils, then stir for 30 sec more. Transfer to a bowl over an ice bath to cool; add food coloring. Stir occasionally until completely cool, then cover with plastic wrap, pressing it onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming, and store in the fridge for up to a day.
  2. Trim domed tops from cakes and place one on a serving platter; spread cold lemon filling over the surface ½ inch from the edge. Top with second cake layer and place in the fridge while preparing frosting.
  3. To make the frosting, combine 1 cup sugar, lemon juice and corn syrup in a small heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until sugar dissolves; remove spoon. Brush insides of pan with a wet pastry brush to remove any sugar crystals and place a candy thermometer into the mixture. Boil (do not stir) until the syrup registers 230°F about 2 min. While the syrup cooks, whisk the egg whites and remaining 2 tbsp sugar with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. With the mixer on low speed, pour the sugar mixture into the egg whites in a slow, steady stream. Increase speed to high and beat until the mixture is thick and glossy, 5 min. Tint frosting with food coloring, then frost cake immediately. Garnish with candied lemon zest.
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Recipe Tara Bench & Khalil Hymore
Photograph Kate Sears
Prop stylist Pam Morris

Glossy, sweet candied lemon zest is the perfect topper to a citrusy cake.

Candied Lemon Zest

By | Cake, Candy, DIY, Entertaining, Fruit, Lifestyle, Tips And Techniques, Uncategorized | No Comments

Glossy, sweet candied lemon zest is the perfect topper to a citrusy cake.

Candied zest is nothing but the rind of citrus simmered in a sugar syrup. But the results are far from ordinary. The rind gets shiny and the bitter flavor disappears, but the candy retains its citrus taste.
I use a generous pile of candied zest on my Pink Lemonade Cake. You can use it to top any type of dessert, or chop it up and add it to cookies. It will keep in the fridge, tightly covered for several weeks, and the sugar syrup that goes along with it can be used in cocktails as a simple syrup.

Candied Lemon Zest

Ingredients

  • Zest from 2 lemons
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup sugar

Instructions

  1. With a sharp vegetable peeler, cut long strips of zest from lemons, being sure not to take any of the biter white pith. Slice the strips into ⅛-inch-thick strands.
  2. Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan; add the zest and simmer until translucent, about 20 min. Remove from heat and let cool in the syrup.
  3. Strain zest and use for garnish. Use the syrup in drinks or on pancakes. You can refrigerate both for 2 weeks.
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Rich chocolate frosting gets covered with light and crispy meringue kisses to make the most fun polka dot cake you'll ever make.

Polka Dot Cake With Meringue Kisses

By | Baking + Desserts, Cake, Entertaining | One Comment

Happy smiles is all you’ll see when you bring this fanciful Polka Dot Cake to the party.

Rich chocolate frosting gets covered with light and crispy meringue kisses to make the most fun cake you’ll ever make. This is one of those uber-impressive creations you’ll get showered with praise for. Feel free to take all the credit!

Polka Dot Cake With Meringue KissesMy recipe for Colorful Meringue Kisses makes a big batch – you’ll only need about half of them to decorate the cake. To create tasty cookies out of the rest: Sandwich kisses together with frosting, your favorite jam, peanut butter, dulce de leche, Nutella or any other dessert spread. They’ll stay crisp for a day.

Meringue bites

Color the meringue any hue you like. I mixed pastels for spring. Make sure you don’t attempt meringue on a rainy spring day! The moisture in the air makes it nearly impossible for them to dry out and get crisp. One of those sunny days will be perfect 🙂

Meringue bites

Polka Dot Cake

Prep Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 5 hours

Yield: Serves 10 to 12

Polka Dot Cake

My recipe for Colorful meringue Kisses makes a big batch - you'll only need about half of them to decorate the cake. To create tasty cookies out of the rest: Sandwich kisses together with frosting, your favorite jam, peanut butter, dulce de leche, Nutella or any other dessert spread. They'll stay crisp for a day.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 ¼ cups buttermilk
  • 2 16-oz containers chocolate frosting, whipped until fluffy
  • Colorful Meringue Kisses
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 3 large egg whites
  • Gel-paste food coloring

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans; line pans with parchment, grease and flour, tapping out excess flour, then set aside. In a bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  2. Beat butter and sugar until light, about 2 min. Add vanilla and eggs one at a time, beating after each. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately in 3 parts, beginning and ending with flour and scraping down sides of bowl often. Divide batter between pans and bake until a cake tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 30 min. Cool in pans 15 min. Turn out and cool, top side up.
  3. For Meringue Kisses:
  4. Heat oven to 175°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Prepare 4 large pastry bags fitted with ½-inch plain tips or plain couplers; set aside.
  5. In a small, heavy saucepan combine ¾ cup sugar, corn syrup and 2 tbsp water over medium-high heat. Stir until sugar dissolves; remove spoon. Brush insides of pan with a wet pastry brush to remove anysugar crystals. Boil, without stirring, until syrup registers 230°F on a candy thermometer, about 4 min.
  6. While syrup cooks, whip egg whites and remaining 2 tbsp sugar until soft peaks form. With mixer on low speed, pour sugar syrup into egg whites in a slow steady stream. Increase mixer speed to high and beat until mixture is thick and glossy, about 5 min.
  7. Working quickly, divide meringue between 4 bowls, then tint pink, orange, yellow or blue. Stir each one before transferring to prepared pastry bags. Pipe 1 ¼-inch round kisses onto lined baking sheets as close together as possible. Bake until set and cooked through, about 2 ½ hr. Turn oven off, leaving meringues to dry completely, about 1 hr.
  8. Assemble the cake:
  9. Trim domed tops from cooled cakes. Fill with a ¼-inch-thick layer of frosting and frost the entire cake. Decorate sides with Meringue Kisses.
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Recipe Tara Bench & Khalil Hymore
Photographs Kate Sears
Food Stylist Tara Bench
Prop Stylist Pam Morris
Originally published Ladies’ Home Journal May 2011

Cake pops that get their colorful toppers right from the pantry! Dried fruits, nuts and cookies make beautiful and tasty decorations for this classic treat.

Cake Pops With Pantry Toppers

By | Baking + Desserts, Birthdays, Cake, Candy, Cookies + Brownies, DIY, Entertaining, Fall, Holidays + Seasons, Kids, Lifestyle, Party Foods, Uncategorized | One Comment

Cake pops that get their colorful toppers right from the pantry! Dried fruits, nuts and cookies make beautiful and tasty decorations for this classic treat.

 

The gooey, soft centers of cake pops are irresistible!  Pretty sure that’s why they are ever-so-popular. They’re pretty fun to make (crumbling up a perfectly good cake into tiny crumbs and mashing it together with frosting!). They’re also very fun to decorate.

Cake Pops With Pantry ToppersThis variation is not claiming to be healthy because of fruit and nuts. But my goodness they make for pretty decorations. I love the pop apricots and cranberries make on the white and brown chocolates. I chopped the dried fruits into tiny little pieces to they look like little jewels on the cake pops.

Any nuts or seeds will do, but the green pepitas are the cutest; and white speckles of coconut are quite tasty. I don’t need to tell you crushed cookies are a great topper. You know that!

 

Cake Pops

Cake Pops

You'll be the coolest mom in your kid's class when you show up with cake pops.

Ingredients

  • 1 boxed cake mix
  • 1¾ cup prepared frosting
  • White-chocolate candy melts
  • Milk-chocolate candy melts
  • Chopped nuts
  • Dried Fruit
  • Sprinkles
  • Lollipop sticks

Instructions

  1. Prepare and bake cake mix and let cool. Grind the cake with your hands or in a food processor to form very fine crumbs.
  2. Mix the crumbs with 1¾ cups prepared frosting in a bowl until it forms a sticky dough. Roll mixture into 1-inch balls and freeze for 15 min.
  3. Dip lollipop sticks in melted chocolate and stick each one into a cake ball. Freeze 20 min more. Dip the pops in melted candy melts and decorate with chopped nuts, dried fruit or sprinkles.
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Recipe Tara Bench
Photograph Lisa Hubbard
Food Stylist Susan Vajaranant
Prop Stylist Penelope Bouklas
Originally published Ladies’ Home Journal September 2011

A little spice and a hint of lemon make this Ginger Pineapple Snack Cake a tasty treat for a party or picnic.

Ginger Pineapple Snack Cake

By | Baking + Desserts, Cake, Entertaining, Fruit, Snacks | No Comments

A little spice and a hint of lemon make this Ginger Pineapple Snack Cake a tasty treat for a party or picnic.

 

I think a little fruit with your cake makes it slightly healthy, no? Oh the ways I fool myself. I even added the word “snack” to the title to make it feel less indulgent! But my Ginger Pineapple Snack Cake is every bit as delicious as the most decadent of cakes.

Ginger Pineapple Snack Cake

Instead of cutting the pineapple in traditional rings, I opted for little fans. It’s easy to slice the pineapple like this after you core it. This shape gives almost every bite of the cake its fair share of fruit.

The recipe method calls for lining the pan with parchment and letting the sides hang over two sides. This allows you to lift the cooled cake out of the pan completely to cut and serve if you desire. I use this trick for all baked goods in square or rectangle pans. It’s a helpful alternative to just lining the bottom of the pan.

Ginger Pineapple Snack CakeThe method is a simple cream cake technique! Do you know why recipes call for adding eggs one at a time, and beating after each addition? It’s a typical method. The reason being is you were instructed to beat the butter and sugars just before adding the eggs. You’ve incorporated air into the butter and sugar mixture, and if you added the eggs all at once it would deflate the mixture. The weight of the eggs would take all the air out of that cake’s sails!

Beating air into the batter acts as part of the leavening for the cake. Beating eggs in one at a time allows the eggs to aerate before the next is added. Boom! Cooking knowledge for the day, check!

Ginger Pineapple Snack Cake SlicedThis cake is actually a very portable cake. Great for potlucks, spring parties and summer picnics. Keep it in the pan to travel and you have the perfect dessert…or snack.

 

Ginger Pineapple Snack Cake

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

Calories per serving: 285

Fat per serving: 16 grams

Ginger Pineapple Snack Cake

Surprise your guests with a gorgeous, easy-to-make dessert.

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅓ cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅓ of a pineapple, sliced ¼ inch thick

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment so that opposite edges hang over sides of pan and grease lightly. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and ginger; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 2 min. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the oil, lemon zest and vanilla and continue to mix until creamy, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just blended.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pan and arrange the sliced pineapple on the surface, overlapping slightly and pressing gently into the batter. Bake until done in the center, 45 to 50 min. Cool completely; transport in baking pan.
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Recipe Tara Bench & Hilary Merzbacher
Photographs Carol Von Zumwalt
Originally published Ladies’ Home Journal June 2013

Mile high crunchy pretzels, covered in sweet chocolate, make this gasp-worthy Pink Pretzel Party Cake the star of your festivities.

Pink Pretzel Party Cake

By | Baking + Desserts, Cake, Uncategorized | No Comments

Mile high crunchy pretzels, covered in sweet chocolate, make this gasp-worthy Pink Pretzel Party Cake the star of your festivities.

Call me crunchy. I don’t care…when it comes to this totally over-the-top cake! I took your typical salty snack and turned it into the ultimate cake decoration. Even beginning bakers can pull off this easy showpiece dessert.

Pretzel rods were made for dipping, that’s what I say. So dip I did, in white chocolate. I didn’t stop there, no sir, I went ahead and drizzled some razzle dazzle over those rods and covered a cake with them.

Pink Pretzel Party CakeSo some tips on making this showstopper. Pretzel rods are super tall, and even with a 4-layer cake they towered over everything. So to trim them use a sharp serrated knife and cut about 1 inch off one end. Saw gently so it cuts instead of breaks. You’ll want to measure them side by side so they are all the same height when you finish.

Pink Pretzel Party CakeI needed a super tall cake to match my super tall pretzels, so I used two cake mixes and baked them in 6-inch pans. I know that’s not your standard-size pan, so if you don’t want to get them here, then check out my Party Rainbow Cake post for a trick on using saucepans as cake pans! You may just have a 6-inch saucepan lying around just waiting to be used in the oven.

The recipe doesn’t specifically call for this because I was keeping it simple, but I like to add a little apricot jam in between the cake layers along with the Fluffy Vanilla Frosting. See in the picture, the drips and drops of jam oozing out.

Making Pink Pretzel Party Cake

The pink coating curls on top are just a bonus. You don’t have to make them, but they really take the cake to another level! Simple instructions are in the recipe. Feel free to drizzle those pretzels with any color too. No need to just stick with pink! Get creative. Share your cake creations with me on Instagram and Twitter by posting them with the hashtag #tarateaspoon! Happy baking.

Pink Pretzel Party Cake

Prep Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Yield: Serves 12

Pink Pretzel Party Cake

Even beginning bakers can pull of this easy showpiece dessert.

Ingredients

  • 2 boxes white cake mix, batter prepared
  • 1 recipe Fluffy Vanilla Frosting
  • 32 large pretzel rods
  • 2 1/2 cups white candy coating disks
  • 1 1/2 cups pink candy coating disks

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease 3 6-by-2-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment. Spread 2 cups cake batter in each pan (bake remaining batter as desired for another use). Bake until cakes spring back when touched, about 35 min. Cool completely.
  2. Trim the domed tops of cakes. Place one cake on a serving platter and top with 2/3 cup frosting. Repeat for next two layers. Cover cake in plastic wrap and chill before frosting the entire outside.
  3. Measure pretzel rods against the side of the cake and trim them with a serrated knife to hit just above the top of the filled cake. Melt the white candy coating disks. Dip the cut ends of the pretzels in white candy and coat almost all the way up the rod. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet to set.
  4. Melt pink candy coating disks. Mix remaining white coating with half the pink coating to make some of it light pink. Drizzle both light and dark pinks over the dipped pretzels. Let set at room temperature or in the fridge.
  5. Frost the outside of the cake, smoothing the sides and top. Place pretzels around the outside.
  6. To make pink coating curls and shards, remelt any remaining pink coating. Spread in a thin layer, about 1/8 inch thick, on the back of a clean baking sheet. Chill in fridge until solid, about 5 min. Using the back of a flat metal spatula or bench scraper, make shards by scraping the coating. Top cake with the curls and shards.
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Recipe by Tara Bench (photo and food styling of process shot by Tara)
Photography: Johnny Miller
Food Styling: Christine Albano
Prop Styling: Elizabeth MacClennan
Recipe originally published in Ladies’ Home Journal June 2014

Milk Chocolate Frosting makes the perfect chocolatey swoops and swirls on your cakes and cupcakes.

Extra Rich Milk Chocolate Frosting

By | Baking + Desserts, Cake, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Milk Chocolate Frosting makes the perfect chocolatey swoops and swirls on your cakes and cupcakes. I’ve got a tip that will guarantee a rich chocolate flavor every time!

I love chocolate. It happens to be an integral part of my favorite food: Chocolate Chip Cookies. So, naturally,  when it comes time to frost a cake I typically go to chocolate. Mmmm.
Of course, a good dark chocolate ganache or borderline bitter chocolate glaze is always a dream, but sometimes I need a little milky creaminess in my life. Milk Chocolate Frosting is just the thing.

Milk Chocolate Frosting

I have made versions where I simply sift the cocoa together with the confectioners’ sugar and blend it all with butter and milk – however that’s not as flavorful. So, I set out to make my frosting more chocolaty. I use the same ingredients but I’ve changed the method slightly. This is my hack for how to get really rich chocolate frosting!

I melt the butter and cocoa together first. Melting the cocoa into butter activates all the chocolaty flavor (and I add the milk too to save a step).  Besides enhancing the flavor, this quick step also creates a smooth chocolate mixture so, when I mix it in with the other ingredients, my frosting won’t have cocoa lumps. The best part is you don’t need to sift it! (I really hate sifting.)

To get a richer flavor in your chocolate frosting, melt the cocoa and the butter together first.

Finally, blend this flavorful sauce into butter and confectioners’ sugar. Just watch that luscious Milk Chocolate Frosting come together.

This recipe makes enough to frost a 2 or 3 layer cake, or a lot of cupcakes. If you have some left over, don’t worry. It freezes well and of course, any leftovers make tasty graham cracker cookies! You know the ones. Sandwich this delicious frosting in between two graham cracker squares and enjoy. I could eat a dozen!

Extra Rich Milk Chocolate Frosting

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Extra Rich Milk Chocolate Frosting

Melting the cocoa and butter together activates the chocolate flavors in the cocoa. It also helps make the frosting smooth and creamy.

Ingredients

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • ½ cup milk (2% or whole)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 7 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar

Instructions

  1. In the microwave or on in a saucepan, melt together ½ cup of the butter (1 stick) cocoa and milk and stir until smooth. Cool slightly. In another large bowl, beat remaining butter and vanilla together, then add cocoa mixture. Add confectioners' sugar 1 cup at a time, blending with each addition, until frosting is smooth and creamy. For a stiffer frosting for piping use all 8 cups of sugar, and for a softer frosting for swooping on a cake, use 7.
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Add a little flower power to your spring with my Almond Flower Cake. Chocolate and almond are a truly divine combination.

Almond Flower Cake

By | Cake, Entertaining, Uncategorized | No Comments

Add a little flower power to your spring with my Almond Flower Cake.

Chocolate and almond are a truly divine combination. Even sweeter when made into a darling spring cake for a birthday, wedding or baby shower or graduation party.

I wanted to create a chocolate cake on the lighter side for spring and summer so I went with milk chocolate. Instead of a dark, rich chocolate ganache, my Milk Chocolate Frosting is the perfect combo for a buttery almond cake.

Almond Flower CakeThe cake is a light and simple to make almond cake that starts with grinding almonds in a food processor–mixing up the batter, baking and frosting. Super easy! I love my 8-inch round cake pans because they are nice and straight-sided, and 2 inches tall. If you only have two pans, leave the third portion of batter aside and bake it once the other two are done.
For the choco-holics I’ve made this with a chocolate cake instead (cake mix is perfect) and it’s just as divine with the Milk Chocolate Frosting.

My almond flowers are just that, sliced almonds nestled into the frosting with a mini M&M center. These crunchy little flowers aren’t just beautiful on Almond Flower Cake – put one on the tops of a chocolate cupcakes to make them just as sweet!

Almond Flower CakeI’d love to see and share your cake creations. Share them on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #tarateaspoon. Happy baking!

Almond Flower Cake

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Yield: Makes 14 servings

Almond Flower Cake

Tasty almond cake with milk-chocolate frosting - a truly divine combination.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ cup (6 oz) slivered almonds, lightly toasted
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • Sliced almonds, lightly toasted
  • Mini candy coated chocolate candies
  • 1 recipe Milk Chocolate Frosting

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 375ºF. Grease three, 8-inch round cake pans; line bottoms of pans with parchment, grease and flour, tapping out excess; set aside. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  2. Combine granulated sugar and almonds in a food processor until finely ground. In a mixing bowl, beat together almond mixture and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and extract and scraping down sides of bowl. Stir in flour mixture and buttermilk alternately in three parts, starting and ending with flour.
  3. Divide batter among pans and bake until cake springs back when touched in the center, about 25 min. Cool 15 min in pan. Turn cakes out of pans and cool completely.
  4. If necessary, trim domed tops from cakes. Set one cake on serving plate and spread with ¾ cup frosting. Repeat with second cake and top with third cake. Frost entire cake with a generous layer of icing. Decorate with sliced almonds, forming flowers by using chocolate candies for the centers.
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Recipe and Food Styling Tara Bench
Photographs Kate Mathis
Originally published Ladies’ Home Journal April 2009
This post may include affiliate links. For more information please see my disclosure agreement.

Lemon Lover’s Layer Cake

By | Baking + Desserts, Cake | No Comments

A lemon lovers dream. Layer cake that really tastes like outrageous lemon, looks like a vision from heaven and makes everyone’s taste buds very happy. Find out what the secret is!

A lemon layer cake that really tastes like lemon, looks like a vision from heaven and makes everyone's taste buds very happy. Find out what the secret is!

Loving everything lemon is a career my mom ventured into before I was alive. She takes it very seriously. Lemon pie, lemon bars, lemon drops, lemonade, lemon slices, lemon wedges, lemon cake, lemon cookies, lemon icing, you name it, she loves it.
Loving that citrus is her business.

So when I told her I could make a cake, layered with lemon curd and frosted with the most lemony, buttery frosting she could imagine, she was intrigued.

My secret? A lemon juice reduction. Made in a matter of minutes, this fresh juice reduction is a super concentrated lemon bonanza, that is added to my frosting. The genius here is that because it’s concentrated and reduced, it doesn’t add a lot of liquid to my frosting. I still end up with fluffy frosting instead of a runny glaze, or frosting that loses it’s flavor because you had to add too much confectioners’ sugar.

I used cake mix, but you can make whatever cake you like. I opted for a simple white cake mix. I really like to bake layer cakes in 7-inch pans (get them here or check out my post about baking in saucepans–yes, saucepans. Here’s why I like 7-inch pans: the inch difference from your standard 8-inch pan gives the cakes more height. So each layer is about 1 big inch tall. That’s plenty of cake to slice into four layers. And a four layer cake is just so impressive. A tall cake is even more impressive!

The frosting is my standby Fluffy Vanilla Frosting. I take about a 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice, simmer it in a saucepan until it has evaporated, and reduced to about 2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons. Let that cool and add it to the butter as you start to make the frosting. I added a bit of extra confectioners’ sugar because of the extra citrusy liquid.

Color the frosting with a little yellow food coloring if desired. I piped a simple design on mine, inspired by Sweetapolita’s lemon blueberry cake. Easy easy. Oh you’re going to love it!

Lemon Layer Cake

This lemony frosting is easy to make, and tastes like butter, lemon and sugar–just pure delicious. I used my favorite Fluffy Vanilla Frosting and added a lemon juice concentrate. I bake a white cake mix in two 7- or 8-inch pans, depending on how tall I want it! Easy, easy. Get lemon curd at the store in a jar and this cake comes together in no time!

Ingredients

    Lemon Frosting
  • 1 recipe Fluffy Vanilla Frosting
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • Yellow food coloring
  • Cake
  • 1 white, 2-layer cake
  • 3/4 cup lemon curd

Instructions

  1. For the frosting: Reduce the 1/2 cup lemon juice to 3 tablespoons by simmering it and letting it evaporate. This will concentrate the flavor. Cool the reduction to room temperature.
  2. Make Fluffy Vanilla frosting but mix the lemon reduction into the butter before adding the confectioners sugar. Add the extra 3/4 cup confectioners sugar at the end. Tint to desired color with yellow food coloring. Use immediately or store airtight at room temperature for one day, chilled for a week.
  3. For the cake: Slice each cake layer in half to make 4 cake layers. Place 1 layer on your cake plate or platter and top with 1/4 cup lemon curd, spread evenly. Top with a spoonful of Lemon Frosting and spread over the curd; top with second cake layer. Spread that layer with lemon curd and frosting and repeat one more time with the third layer. Top with the last layer.
  4. Frost the entire cake with Lemon Frosting. Tint the remaining frosting with more food coloring for a darker hue if desired, and place in a piping bag. With desired piping tip, decorate the top and bottom edges of the cake to finish it.
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Recipe by Tara Bench
Image from Sweetapolita

 

The most impressive cake you'll bake all year! It looks like it comes from a bakery, but this rainbow cake is easy to make at home!

Party Rainbow Cake

By | Baking + Desserts, Cake, Entertaining, Party Foods | No Comments

The most impressive cake you’ll bake all year! This rainbow cake looks like it comes from a bakery, but this layered treat, decorated with every beautiful color, is easy to make at home!

Brighten your next party with a rainbow cake that will WOW your guests. I know what you’re thinking…”A tiered cake? I can’t do that!” Au contraire, I say! You can.

Party Rainbow Cake

I bake so much for my job, so I have every size cake pan you can imagine. But I know you may not. When you see a stacked, graduated cake you don’t even bother because it would mean purchasing all the different pans.

REVELATION!

Standard 8-inch pans, a small saucepan, an empty tomato can and a cupcake paper are all you need to make the different-sized layers!

Layer cake tools

I bake cakes in these!!

Make sure your saucepan is oven-safe. Most small saucepans are 6 to 7 inches in diameter–this is perfect for that tier. A 28-oz can is about 4 inches in diameter and paper removed and washed, makes a great cake pan! For the tiny topper I used a standard cupcake. And I know you have cupcake papers at home.

I took my inspiration for the rainbow cake decoration from a design Rise & Shine Bakery in Austin, Texas made, which sadly no longer exists. You could decorate your layers any way you’d like. The full recipe instructions are below with a link to my Meringue Buttercream (double batch). I like using a meringue buttercream so that I get smooth, glossy piping and it can chill in the fridge for even a few days. (A confectioners’ sugar frosting gets crusty after that long)

The vibrant colors come from gel paste food coloring. It comes in a lot of intense shades. You’ll need to use a fair amount to get these vibrant frosting colors. I also bought multiple #12 plain tips so I could have one for each color when piping.

Feel free to make your own cake. I used 2 cake mixes. YES! Only 2 cake mixes for this party cake. I like to fill my cakes with layers of raspberry or apricot jam. It’s usually quite universally accepted as delicious. Instagram or tweet your Party Cakes using the hashtag #tarateaspoon. I’d love to see them!

Rainbow piping bags

Party Rainbow Cake

Prep Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Total Time: 6 hours

Yield: Serves 15 to 20

Party Rainbow Cake

Bake the layers a day ahead and chill them in the refrigerator, which makes them much easier to stack and decorate.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. You'll need 2 8-inch round cake pans, 1 6-inch-diameter oven-safe saucepan, 1 clean 28-oz tomato can (label removed) and 1 cupcake pan. Line the bottoms of the cake pans, saucepan and tomato can with parchment and coat with cooking spray. Use 2 1/2 cups cake batter in each cake pan, 2 cups in the saucepan and 1 1/2 cups in the tomato can. Fill a cupcake paper in the cupcake pan half full of batter.
  2. Bake cakes at 350ºF until tops spring back when touched. Cupcake with bake in about 18 min, 8-inch cakes in about 30 min and the tomato-can and saucepan cakes in 40 to 45 min. Allow to cool and remove from pans.
  3. Wrap cooled cakes in plastic wrap and chill 5 hr or overnight. When you're ready to decorate, remove parchment, trim domed tops and slice each cake into two layers.
  4. Reserve about 3 cups buttercream for assembling cake layers. Divide remaining frosting among 10 bowls (I used about 1 cup each for the purple, blue and teal, 3/4 cup each for the greens and yellow, and 1/2 cup each for the reds, orange and pink) and tint with food coloring.
  5. Assemble cake starting with the 8-inch layers. Spread a bit of jam and a little of the white buttercream on each layer. Stack the 6-inch layers and the layers from the can on top, repeating the jam and buttercream. Place cupcake on top and coat the entire cake with a thin layer of buttercream, smoothing the sides to create uniform edges. Chill until cold, 20 to 30 min.
  6. Transfer cake to a serving platter to decorate. Place colored buttercream in piping bags fitted with a coupler and a #12 plain tip (I bought multiple tips but you can also wash one between colors). Starting at the base with purples and blues, pipe dots around the entire cake in rows. Finish with reds and pink on top.
  7. Keep cake chilled until ready to serve. When buttercream is cold, cake can be loosely wrapped in plastic and will keep, chilled, for up to 2 days.
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https://tarateaspoon.com/party-rainbow-cake/

recipe and food styling: Tara Bench
photography: Peter Ardito
prop styling: Courtney DeWet
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