Red Velvet Strawberry Rose Cake

Happy Valentine’s Day! As someone who loves all things pink and feminine, Valentine’s Day décor is right up my alley. This cake was inspired by Ron Ben Israel’s rose cake which I’ve been obsessed with as soon as I laid my eyes on it. It was always on my “to-try” list but I never got the chance to take on the challenge. Recently, there was a blog post by NYC Cake Girl who used to work with Ron Ben Israel with a how-to on the very cake I loved. The amount of work and the detail work was perfection (as always), and I knew I simply didn’t have the time (and possibly even the skill) to recreate the cake. So I created this cake which looks similar and uses real rose petals.
As for the cake itself, I used half of my giant doughnut cake pan instead of baking a round cake and carving it into a dome like the tutorial. A similar effect could be produced with a shallow bundt cake, but I think the smooth exterior of the doughnut pan really makes things easier. The cake flavor is red velvet (because it is THE cake of Valentine ’s Day), and is layered on the inside with fresh strawberries and vanilla frosting. I know I know, I almost felt like it was sacrilege not to use cream cheese frosting, but I didn’t have cream cheese in the fridge so, vanilla it is. Please feel free to use cream cheese frosting if you prefer it.
I picked a bouquet of flowers that varied in shades of pink in hopes of making an ombre effect. However, once the petals were stripped from the flowers, they kind of ended up being the same color. I saved the lightest rose for the center though. Although in hindsight, I think I should’ve just picked the flower that had the least blemishes. You essentially layer the petals one by one in alternating layers around the cake to form a giant rose. It is a bit time consuming and is not completely symmetrical like the fondant petals from the original cake. But, I think it kind of gives it a homemade vibe that people can appreciate.I went a little heavy with the pictures because it was SO STUNNING. Like… the photos can’t do it justice. I loved even how the slices had petals on them fanning out the back, like a very fancy cape or headdress. I can almost guarantee that you will get “wows” and surprised looks when you bring this cake. It won’t disappoint.
I hope all of you got some sort of recognition of love this Valentine’s Day. If not, I baked this cake for you. 😉

Red Velvet Strawberry Rose Cake

You will need:

1 batch red velvet cake, baked in a dome shape (recipe below)
1 batch vanilla frosting (recipe below)
About ½ pint strawberries, sliced horizontally (enough to cover the area of the cake twice)
1 dozen roses (pesticide-free)

Instructions:

  1. Slice the red velvet cake in half (horizontally), and smooth a thin layer of vanilla frosting.
  2. Layer it with fresh strawberry slices and repeat layer with vanilla frosting and fresh strawberries using frosting to fill in any gaps. (shown in picture #2)
  3. Place the top half of the cake onto the frosting layer and crumb coat the entire cake with a thin layer of frosting. (shown in picture #3)
  4. Put cake in freezer for about 10-15 minutes until the frosting is set and then remove from fridge and give it a full coating. (shown in picture #4)
  5. Pick the flower you will be using as your center flower. Trim and place it in the center of the cake. (shown in picture #5)
  6. Get a few petals and fill in the gaps around the hole. (shown in picture #6)
  7. Now start layering the bottom part of the cake by pressing the petals into the frosting of the cake. Try to press the bottom edge of the petal only. (shown in picture #7)
  8. Try to use the largest petals you have for the bottom layer and go all around the cake. (shown in picture #8)
  9. Layer the next row of petals around the cake. (shown in picture #9)
  10. Try to alternate the position of the petals. As in, try to place the petal of the next layer between two petals of the bottom layer. (shown in picture #10)
  11. Repeat until you get to the center of the cake, try to use smaller petals as you get to the top of the cake. I had to replace some of the lighter petals because the lower petals turned out to be too pink to get a more seamless look. (shown in picture #11)
  12. Get ready to stun the room. 😉

Red Velvet Cake

Ingredients

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups cake flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ tsp. salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
¾ (1 ½ sticks) cup butter, at room temperature
2 ¼ cups granulated white sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ounce bottle of red food coloring (2 Tablespoons)
1 ¼ cups buttermilk
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons vinegar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, spray either your bundt pan or the top half of your giant doughnut cake pan with nonstick spray. (I highly suggest using either pam for baking or baker’s joy for extra insurance of “nonstickage”.)
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat butter on medium speed for 30 seconds.
  4. Add sugar and vanilla, and beat until combined.
  5. Add eggs one at a time on medium speed.
  6. Lower speed to low and add in food coloring.
  7. Add ⅓ of flour mixture to the egg mixture on low and add ½ of the buttermilk.
  8. Repeat with ⅓ flour mix and the rest of the buttermilk.
  9. Finish mixing with the rest of the flour mixture. Mix until just combined.
  10. Stir together baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl. Add to cake batter and beat just until combined.
  11. Fill cake pan until ⅔ full, bake 30-40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  12. Cool pan on rack for about 15-20 minutes. Try to use a small spatula around the edges to ensure a clean removal. Remove cake from pan.
  13. Let cool completely.

Vanilla Frosting

Ingredients:

1 c. whole milk
¼ c. flour
¼ tsp. salt
8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. In a saucier pan, put milk, salt and flour and whisk until combined on medium heat.
  2. Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
  3. Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture and put into the fridge until fully cool.
  5. In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add vanilla extract and mix until combined.

 

Strawberry Pretzel Squares (AKA Strawberry Pretzel Salad)

Strawberry Pretzel Squares The English language is a funny thing. I never understood why some dishes that are sweet are called “salads”. It’s off-putting. It’s in the name. If you hear “strawberry pretzel salad”, what do you picture? I imagine a bowl of salad greens with strawberries and pretzels. No, thank you. Other examples of such salads are Jello salad, snickers salad, cookie salad and the list goes on and on.
Strawberry Pretzel Squares Strawberry Pretzel SaladBut after reading numerous blogs all featuring the same recipe and all with glowing reviews of how they grew up with this particular dish and how it’s everyone’s favorite at their family gathering, I broke down and had to try it. And after trying it myself, I can see why people would like it, especially with fresh strawberries. The pretzel crust is salty and crunchy, the cheesecake layer is smooth and creamy and the strawberry jello layer is fruity and refreshing. You pretty much hit every flavor profile. The best part? It’s super easy and the ingredient list is very short. Oh! Also, you only have to bake the pretzel crust for 10 minutes so your kitchen doesn’t get too hot. It’s a serious win-win-win situation.
Strawberry Pretzel SaladStrawberry Pretzel Squares (AKA Strawberry Pretzel Salad)

Ingredients:

2 c. finely crushed pretzels
1 cup and 3 tbsp. sugar, divided
¾ c. salted butter, melted
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
8 oz. cool whip, defrosted
2 c. boiling water
1 – six ounce package strawberry jello
1 ½ c. cold water
4 c. hulled and sliced strawberries

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F and prep a 9×13 inch baking dish by spraying the inside with nonstick spray.
  2. In a bowl, stir the pretzel crumbs and 3 tablespoons of sugar until well mixed.
  3. Pour the melted butter over the pretzel mixture and stir until evenly coated.
  4. Press the pretzel crumb mixture into the bottom of the baking dish, pressing it down with a spatula to form an even layer.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown and cool completely.
  6. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and 1 cup of sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Fold in the cool whip and spread evenly over the cooled pretzel crust. (Wipe off any cream cheese mix you get along the sides of the glass pan for a clean presentation later on.)
  7. Refrigerate crust while you prep the strawberry layer.
  8. In a large bowl, mix the strawberry jello mix with the boiling water. Stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in cold water and refrigerate for about 1½ hours. (At this point, the mixture should have the consistency of egg whites.)
  9. Stir in fresh strawberries into the jello mixture and carefully pour over the prepared cream cheese layer and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or until the strawberry layer is set. If you wiped the sides clean as suggested in step 6, the strawberry layer should set to a glass-like finish.

Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker.

The Pink Cupcake (#10000cupcakes)

DSC_0318October is breast cancer awareness month! When I found out that KitchenAid is donating $1 to Susan G. Komen for every original picture of a cupcake baked and shared, I had to jump on board.

DSC_0336Since pink is the color for breast cancer awareness, I decided to make the pinkest cupcake I can possibly make. With a pink velvet cake base and strawberry frosting, the cupcake is already pink. But once topped with tiny sparkling pink macarons sandwiched with chocolate ganache (macarons are my favorite!), pink and white colored edible pearls, edible silver stars, gumpaste flowers and specks of pink shimmer, it is filled to the brim with all things pink and white.
DSC_0329DSC_0344Of course, you don’t have to decorate the cupcakes like I did. The pink velvet cake, strawberry frosting, ganache and macarons are all delicious individually and together. And I encourage you to try your own combination of flavors and components to make your own unique creation.
DSC_0327So here’s to all to those who are fighting, supporting, hurting, recovering, helping, treating and healing from breast cancer or with a loved one with breast cancer. You are stronger than you think.

The Pink Cupcake

1 batch of pink velvet cupcakes (recipe below)
1 batch of strawberry frosting (recipe below)
1 batch of pink mini macarons (recipe below)
1 batch of chocolate ganache (recipe below)
edible pink pearls (optional)
edible white pearls (optional)
edible silver stars (optional)
edible pink shimmer dust (optional)
white gumpaste flowers (optional)

Instructions

  1. On a pink velvet cupcake, with a 1M Wilton frosting tip, frosting a swirl of strawberry frosting.
  2. Sprinkle with edible pink and white pearls and sprinkle silver stars and pink shimmer dust.
  3. Top with two pink mini macarons and two gumpaste flowers.
  4. Enjoy.

Pink Velvet Cake

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
½ c. butter, at room temperature
1 ½ c. granulated white sugar
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. pink gel food coloring
1 cup buttermilk

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line two muffin pans with cupcake liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix both flours, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed for 30 seconds.
  4. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.
  5. Add eggs one at a time until incorporated and beat in food coloring.
  6. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk to egg mixture on low speed.
  7. Fill cupcake liners two-thirds full.  Bake 15-17 minutes until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pans and cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:

Strawberry Puree

Ingredients:
3 cups of strawberries, smashed
1 tsp. lemon juice

Instructions:

  1. In a small pot, cook strawberries and lemon juice on medium heat until mixture thickens and reduces 1/3-1/2 of the original volume, about 5-10 minutes.
  2. Once thickened, put in a bowl to cool and refrigerate.

Basic Vanilla Frosting

Ingredients:
2 c. whole milk
½ c. flour
¼ tsp. salt
1 1b. (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 c. sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. In a saucier pan, put milk, salt and flour and whisk until combined on medium heat.
  2. Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
  3. Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture and put into the fridge until fully cool.
  5. In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add the vanilla extract and mix until combined.

Strawberry Frosting

Ingredients:
1 batch of strawberry puree
⅔ batch of vanilla frosting

Instructions:

  1. Mix vanilla frosting with ½ of strawberry puree until the mixture turns strawberry pink and fluffy.
  2. Give mix a taste and if not flavored enough, add puree ¼ at a time until desired flavor is reached.

Pink Mini Macarons

Ingredients:

212 g. almond meal
212 g. powdered sugar
172 g. egg whites, divided to 82 g. and 90 g (aged, if possible)
236 g. sugar
158 g. water
pink gel food color
pink sparkling sugar (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Line four baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  2. In the bowl of your food processor, add the almond meal and powdered sugar and pulse until thoroughly combined.
  3. Sift the mixture over a large mixing bowl, throwing out the lumps as they appear. Add 82 g. of the egg whites and stir until you get a thick mixture.
  4. In a small pot attached with a candy thermometer, combine the sugar and water over medium heat and boil until the syrup reaches 200˚F.
  5. Once the syrup reaches 200˚F, start whipping the remaining 90 g. in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed until soft peaks are reached.
  6. Once the syrup reaches 248 degrees, remove the pot off the burner and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl with the egg whites on medium speed.
  7. Once the egg whites are fully incorporated, increase the speed to medium high until egg whites form glossy, stiff peaks. Add two drops of the pink gel food color and mix until batter turns a light shade of pink.
  8. Mix a ⅓ of the egg white mix to the almond mixture and stir together until the batter is slightly lighter and less pasty. From then on, fold in ⅓ of the egg white mixture at a time until the mixture “flows like magma”.  The mixture should be smooth and run thick ribbons off the spatula.
  9. With a pastry bag fitted with a ¼ in. plain tip, pipe mini macarons by squeezing the pastry bag with slight pressure.
  10. The piped batter may have peaks but should smooth away in a minute or two. Let the batter stand until the tops of the macaron batter have dried*, about 30 mins to 1 hour.
  11. Optional: If using pink sparkling sugar, sprinkle it on top of macaron batter after the batter is piped.
  12. Preheat the oven to 275-325˚F. If your oven tends to run hot, go for 275˚ if not then 325˚.
  13. Bake 10-13 minutes, until the feet are formed and the tops are smooth. The batter is done when you slightly wiggle it and it starts to come off of the parchment paper / silicone mat.
  14. Let cool and fill with chocolate ganache filling.

Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients:
8 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
¾ c. heavy whipping cream

Instructions:

  1. In a heatproof bowl, pour heavy cream on top of chocolate and microwave for one minute.
  2. Let stand 3 minutes and stir until combined.
  3. Let mixture cool in the fridge and stir every 4-5 minutes until the ganache is firm enough to be spread onto macaron shells.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake  3Is it the middle of February already?? I feel like February just started and here it is already nearing its end. As Valentine’s Day approaches, I can’t help but feel a little more love and happiness in the air. Maybe it’s all the hearts plastered every way I turn or people posting all things related to love on social media, but I’m digging the atmosphere. Yes, I know that you should show your love and affection to your significant other/ loved ones every day of the year but what’s the harm of celebrating that love?
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake  2I once had an ex-boyfriend who frequently bought me chocolate covered strawberries from Godiva. Not knowing how much they cost ($7 a piece!!), I used to eat them in one seating without much thought. I only found out how much they cost recently and boy, do I feel bad about not savoring them. But that was my first encounter with chocolate covered strawberries and it’s been one of my favorite flavor parings since.
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake  4This cake is my spin on a chocolate covered strawberry. A rich dark chocolate cake is filled and frosted with fresh strawberry frosting and covered in a chocolate ganache and adorned with chocolate dipped strawberries. Because fresh strawberries in February are not the tastiest, I suggest buying frozen strawberries for the frosting to ensure full strawberry flavor. I happened to have this cake pan that I bought on clearance a year or two ago, and I thought it fit the theme perfectly. If you do not have the cake pan, you can always make the same cake sans the strawberry frosting heart in the middle. Talking about clearance, am I the only person that scours the holiday section at Target after every major holiday? I cannot resist the themed sprinkles and sparkling sugar at a deep discount. Sometimes, I’ll land on a real gem… like this cake pan at 75% off. It’s a guilty pleasure and I look forward to going to Target post February 14th. 😉
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake  1Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake

Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:
1 ¾ c. all-purpose flour
2 c. sugar
¼ c. natural unsweetened cocoa powder
½ c. Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1. tsp. kosher salt
½ c. vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. strong, hot coffee

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease and line 2 cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, both cocoa powders, baking soda, baking powder and salt until fully combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract until combined.
  4. With the mixer speed on low, add the egg mixture to the flour mixture until combined.
  5. Turn off the mixer. With a spatula, scrape the sides of the bowl to fully incorporate the two mixtures.
  6. Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the hot coffee to the batter. Once added, raise the speed to medium until completely homogenous.
  7. Divide batter equally among the two cake pans and bake about 25-30 minutes. Checking at 20 minutes for doneness with a toothpick test.*
  8. Let stand for 5-10 minutes when done, then put onto a cooling rack to fully cool.

Strawberry Puree

Ingredients:
2 lbs of strawberries, smashed
1 tbsp. lemon juice

Instructions:

  1. In a small pot, cook strawberries and lemon juice on medium heat until mixture thickens and reduces 1/3-1/2 of the original volume, about 20-30 minutes.
  2. Once thickened, put in a bowl to cool and refrigerate.

Basic Vanilla Frosting

Ingredients:
2 c. whole milk
½ c. flour
¼ tsp. salt
1 1b. (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 c. sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. In a saucier pan, put milk, salt and flour and whisk until combined on medium heat.
  2. Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
  3. Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture and put into the fridge until fully cool.
  5. In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add the vanilla extract and mix until combined.

Strawberry Frosting

Ingredients:
1 batch of strawberry puree
1 batch of vanilla frosting

Instructions:

  1. Mix vanilla frosting with strawberry puree until the mixture turns strawberry pink and fluffy.

Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients:
8 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
¾ c. heavy whipping cream

Instructions:

  1. In a heatproof bowl, pour heavy cream on top of chocolate and microwave for one minute.
  2. Let stand 3 minutes and stir until combined.

Assembly

1 batch chocolate cake
1 batch strawberry frosting
1 batch chocolate ganache
6-8 strawberries, rinsed and dried

Instructions:

  1. Fill and frost chocolate cake with strawberry frosting.
  2. Chill in freezer for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Pour ¾ of chocolate ganache and use offset spatula to push ganache over the edge.
  4. Before the ganache sets completely, dip the strawberries in the remaining ganache and garnish the cake.

* Chocolate cake recipe adapted from Ina Garten.