A Very Baking Christmas

You may be saying to yourself: ‘Meris doesn’t care about her blog anymore…either that or she’s become a vegan and spends her time shunning technology in an Amish hideaway.’ Lies, all lies. Truth is, I’ve been baking up a storm the last few weeks, squirreling away recipes and hurried photos so that I can once again bombard the Internets. [*Sidenote: I don’t think the Amish are vegans, but whatevs]

To begin with, I made strawberry cupcakes from a box with jar icing for my coworker, Little Jake, who says this is his favorite kind of cake and icing. Behold, my foray back into Betty Crocker [I couldn’t help it-had to make little star decorations]:

xmas2Next came the holiday cupcakes for my office:

xmas6Everything was made with either gum paste or stiff buttercream.

xmas3

The snowman was everyone’s favorite. And yes, I realize that’s more pimp hat than snow hat.

xmasThe cupcakes are red velvet with cream cheese frosting and gingerbread with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. You can find the recipe for the red velvet cupcakes here and for the cream cheese frosting here. The gingerbread cupcake recipe is here at King Arthur Flour and I use my own cream cheese frosting I listed above rather than KAF’s, but change it a bit by adding cinnamon to taste.

xmas5Enough to please a crowd!

xmas4My editorial cohorts, Denny and Jake in their holiday finest 😉

denny_jakeLaura and I in our 4-glasses-of-wine finest. I made duck face because I thought we were taking a funny photo…no one told me it wasn’t supposed to be funny o__0

laura_meAnd finally the Bûche de Noël (a French Yule Log) for my boyfriend’s family. [You can find my Frenchie mother’s handed-down-through-generations recipe here] Before I show you what I made this year, I thought I’d show you my very first try a few years back:

bucheAnd the Bûche de Noël of 2013! A little less cartoonish? My meringue mushrooms also don’t look like little albino poops. [You can find the fool-proof meringue mushroom recipe here]

xmas7I tried really hard to make a pine cone by just “winging it” and no research into how gum paste pine cones are actually made…sooooo it’s a flower-pine cone 😉

xmas8The holly-looking decoration was made with gum paste.

xmas9Aerial view. The “bark” was made by melting chocolate onto a huge sheet of waxed paper, letting it dry ALMOST completely, then breaking it off randomly into chunks.

xmas10I apologize for the lack of quality photos this time, peeps! I really was in a huge rush making these things this year for some reason, so I snapped and wrapped without much thought. Future posts will have much better photos!

Speaking of future posts, stick around…burnt caramel custards are on the horizon. And by that I mean literally in the next few days and not another few months as has been my horrible habit lately 😉

Happy belated holidays, everyone!

White Cake with White Chocolate and Peppermint Buttercream

Happy New Year! I always seem to forget that just because the holidays are over it doesn’t mean I can go back to wearing skirts and tanks. So, even though it isn’t technically Christmas anymore, the snow on the ground, my short-circuiting space heater, and my super sexy thermal underwear all revealed to me that it’s still okay to make a white cake for winter.

Let it snow.

winterEarly morning wilderness treks with Beau. Clearly, I’m still 5 years old and throwing snow balls at my poor dog.

me_chienThis cake was inspired by Southern Living‘s “A Very Southern Christmas” issue, which highlights cake contest winners. This year’s winner was a white cake with white frosting that had little fondant snowflakes as decorations.

And while the cake was beautiful, sometimes Southern Living‘s recipes are wonky, so I decided not to put my family through a potentially disastrous culinary experiment and made a tried-and-true white cake with my white chocolate ganache buttercream frosting. What makes this cake a smidge more wintery is the layers of white chocolate peppermint frosting between the 8″ rounds [done with a dash of peppermint extract].

It only took about 4 hours total to make this cake…so, between the short time needed, having the oven on for warmth, and the extra insulating layers this cake is sure to add to your body, how could you go wrong?

*Sidenote: Best part of the season? Winterizing your body. Happy 2013 non-dieting, everyone 😉

P1040624[White cake recipe can be found here from Wedding Cakes for You. Makes the three 8″ x 2″ deep shown in the photos]

White chocolate ganache/peppermint buttercream frosting [*Note: This makes enough for the filling and frosting of the cake. It’s an extremely light and not-too-sweet frosting].

Equipment:

  • Electric mixer
  • Double boiler or microwave
  • Sifter

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz. white chocolate
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 4 sticks unsalted butter, rm. temp.
  • 4 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
  • Wilton’s white icing coloring [optional]

Chop the chocolate and melt with the heavy cream in a double boiler or carefully in the microwave. Let cool to rm. temp., about 30 min., stirring occasionally.

Beat the butter and 1 cup of sifted powdered sugar in a large bowl at low speed for 30 seconds. Increase speed and beat until light and fluffy.

Add 4 cups of sifted powdered sugar, alternating with the milk and beating at low speed after each addition. Add MOST of the white chocolate ganache [I always find I need only about 3/4 of it] and beat on med-high speed until it reaches a spreading consistency.

This is where I add Wilton’s white icing coloring, just because most buttercreams tend to be a bit beige in color and I wanted this cake to be extremely white. Just add however much you want and STIR in to make sure all of the coloring is incorporated.

Scoop out about a cup of frosting and place in a small bowl. Stir in the peppermint extract. Use this frosting to go between the layers of the cake.

whitecake7Use the rest of the frosting to coat the outside of the cake.

*Note: Sometimes getting a very smooth-looking surface on buttercream cakes can be tough. An easy trick is to put the frosted cake in the fridge for a few hours until the buttercream hardens, then take it out and smooth the ridges in the frosting with a heated spatula. To heat the spatula, dip it in very hot water, shake off the excess water, then use to smooth the cake. Dab up any excess water with a paper towel. I like to move vertically over the ridges, as this make the smoothing easier.

whitecakeThe decorations were made using gum paste and edible white flakes and sprinkles

whitecake5I used aspic cutters to make the shapes

whitecake6Frosty

whitecake4