Monday, September 26, 2011

Monsters Inc Cake

My nephew's first birthday was coming up so I offered to make his birthday cake. The theme for the party was monsters so I started looking at Monsters Inc stuff for ideas. I have been playing around with fondant and had made my first cake using fondant about a month ago. I really can't stand to eat the stuff but for making creative and fun kids cakes it can't be beat. So I sketched up an idea and this is what I came up with. I have a lot to learn and it was by no means perfect. The bottom tier has a bulge from where the two cake layers meet and there was a  rip in the fondant that I was able to cover with the "Cameron" banner. For my second fondant cake I think it turned out pretty good.

All the fondant pieces are glued on with piping gel and the "Cameron" is tinted piping gel. A small batch of royal icing was used for the very top of the cake because the cream cheese frosting would not hold the shape of the decorating tip. The center of Mike, the monster was rice crispy treats.

My sister made a very cute personal sized smash cake just for Cameron that was a healthier option. Except for the royal icing and rice crispy treats, all of the recipes I used for the Monsters Inc cake and his smash cake can all be found below.

Beatty's Chocolate Cake
From Ina Garten of the Food Network
Butter, for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, a little more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Chocolate Buttercream, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

Chocolate Frosting:
(used this as the filling for the cake)
6 ounces good semisweet chocolate
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don't whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting:

Adapted from this frosting recipe by Dorie Greenspan.

(this frosting is what covered the whole cake)

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pound (3 3/4 cups) confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon orange juice 
1/2 teaspoon pure orange extract (or to taste)


Working with a stand mixer filled with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in the lemon juice or extract. If you wish, add coconut to half of the frosting.
Recipe and instructions for making  Marshmallow Fondant can be found here

Healthy Smash Cake:

Makes 1 double-layer 9-inch square cake; adapted from "What to Expect"
2 1/2 cups thinly sliced carrots
2 1/2 cups apple juice concentrate (you may use slightly less)
1 1/2 cups raisins
Vegetable Spray/Shortening
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 whole eggs
4 egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 Tbsp low sodium baking powder
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

Prep: Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two 9 inch square cake pans with waxed paper and spray the paper with vegetable spray/shortening.

Combine the carrots with 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the juice concentrate in a medium size saucepan.

Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, until carrots are tender, 15 to 20 mins. Puree in a blender of food processor until smooth.
Add the raisins and process until finely chopped. Let mixture cool.
Combine the flour, wheat germ, baking powder, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Add 1 1/4 cups juice concentrate, the oil, eggs, egg whites, and vanilla; beat just until well mixed. Fold in the carrot puree and applesauce. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans.
Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 mins. Cool briefly in the pans, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely. When cool, frost with Cream Cheese Frosting below or sprinkle a wee bit of powdered sugar if desired.

Whipped Cream Frosting
Makes  frosting for a 2 layer cake
1 (8 ounce) package cream
cheese, softened
1 cup powder sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar salt and vanilla until smooth. In a small bowl, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Fold into the cream cheese mixture.

Blackberry Crumb Breakfast Bars

Our summer in the Pacific Northwest was less than stellar. Everything in the garden is so behind and even the blackberries seem to be quite late this year. For the last few weeks I kept checking the blackberry patch but all I found was hard, green little berries. This past week they are finally ripe. So I put Baby Girl in her carrier and picked as many ripe berries as I could find. We have used up all our homemade jam so that was the first use the berries were going towards. I did end up with a couple of extra pints of berries and I had recently repined these amazing looking raspberry breakfast bars on Pinterest that were featured on the Smitten Kitchen.  It was the perfect time to make one of the recipes I had pined because then I could link up with the Pinterest Challenge that a new mommy friend of mine, the wonderful Subfertile Frugalista is hosting.

These bars are fantastic. Best breakfast bar I have tasted but that is probably because they really belong more in the bar cookie category than a breakfast bar. Don't let the term breakfast trick you into thinking these are healthy. They are less sweet than a typical dessert of this type which I really like. I used whole wheat pastry flour to bump up the nutritional value a bit. I think this recipe is perfect as it is for a treat but I think I could easily give it a healthy overhaul to make it truly a breakfast bar. Add even less sugar, reduce the amount of flour by adding flax and ground nuts and we would be getting close. I feel an experiment coming on.   


For the crust and crumb:
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (original recipe calls for all-purpose)
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
For the raspberry filling:
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound Blackberries, fresh or frozen (original recipe calls for raspberries)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled


Make the crust and crumb: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch glass or light-colored metal baking pan. Put a long piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, letting the parchment extend up the two short sides of the pan and overhang slightly on both ends. (This will make it easy to remove the bars from the pan after they have baked.) Butter the parchment.

Put the flour, brown sugar, oats, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a food processor. Pulse in short bursts until combined. Add the butter and pulse until loose crumbs form.

Reserve 1 1/2 cup of the mixture and set aside. (Note: The book suggests you reserve one cup only.) Pour the rest of the mixture into the prepared pan and use your hands or the back of a large wooden spoon to push the crust into an even layer at the bottom of the pan. The crust should touch the sides of the pan. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let the crust cool. Keep the oven on while you make the raspberry filling.

Make the berry filling: In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon and flour together. Add the berries, lemon juice and butter and use your hands to toss gently until the raspberries are evenly coated.

Assemble and bake the bars: Spread the berry filling evenly on top of the cooled crust. Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture evenly on top of the filling.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, rotating the pan every 15 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the filling starts to bubble around the edges.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then cut into squares and serve. The bars can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two days.

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking
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