Short and Sweet Recipe: Mini Strawberry Shortcake.

strawberry shortcake3

Last week, my fiance and I were invited to another couple’s place for a game night. Being that we never like to show up anywhere empty handed, I decided to make a little dessert to bring along with us. I wanted something relatively simple, relatively summery, and relatively small, since it was going to be a small gathering. After much contemplation, I settled on the queen of summer desserts herself: Strawberry Shortcake. I already had some really nice-looking strawberries that had I literally just purchased the day before, so it would appear that the stars had aligned just right. (Except for that one star that I’ll call “heavy cream” – I had to send my fiance out to get that at the last minute).

But otherwise, I had all the ingredients to make a tasty vanilla cake, whipped cream frosting, and fresh strawberry filling between layers and adornments for the top.

top that.

top that.

Again, since it was for small gathering, I decided to make it a 6″ cake, instead of the traditional 8″. Not only would it be a more appropriate amount of dessert, but it also looked so darn cute. Like the puppy version of a cake.

baby cake.

baby cake.

And even with making it smaller, there were leftovers. Not that I’m complaining.

Wanna make your own for that Labor Day gathering you were invited to this weekend? Here’s how!

Mini Strawberry Shortcake.

For the Cake:

What you’ll need:

1 cup water

1/4 cup + 2 tblsp canola oil

1 tblsp white vinegar

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups sifted flour

1 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

(Plus 1 cup of chopped strawberries for filling and 5 additional whole strawberries for decorating)

What you’ll do:

Preheat the oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine the water, canola oil, vinegar, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sifted flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix until smooth. Grease two 6″ round pans, and evenly divide the batter between the two. Bake for approx. 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

For the Whipped Cream Frosting:

What you’ll need:

2 cups heavy cream

3 tblsp sugar

1 tsp vanilla

What you’ll do:

In a pre-chilled mixing bowl, whip the cream with the whisk attachment until it forms soft peaks. Add the sugar and vanilla, and continue whipping until stiff peaks form.

Frost the top of one of the layers of the cake with the whipped cream, and using a decorating bag fitted with the star tip, pipe a border around the edge, Fill the center with the chopped strawberries, and place the second layer on top. Cover both layers entirely with a smooth coating of the whipped cream. Using the same star tip, pipe a shell border around the base of the cake, and 8 rosettes around the top. Cut the 5 large strawberries in half, and place one half on top of each of the rosettes. Pipe a dollop of whipped cream onto on of the remaining two halves, and make a little strawberry and cream sandwich for the center.



Cake of the Living Dead.

My friend recently had a birthday, and I wanted to make him a cake – not just your everyday cake either. This is a friend I’ve known for quite some time, and who is fully aware of what I can do in the kitchen. So, I couldn’t just slap something together and call it his birthday cake – no – this cake needed to be….different. It also needed to be personal. I wanted it to be something that reflected my friend’s interests…something that he’d cherish always, and think back on for years to come. “Remember when you made me that awesome blah blah blah cake in 2013? Best. Cake. Ever.” Yeah, I wanted him to be able to say that. I wanted him to look at this cake and feel like he was looking in a confectionery mirror of his own life…

the baking dead.

the baking dead.

Yep. It’s a zombie cake. Not only is there a zombie on top of the cake, but the cake itself is strawberry – so it’s like you’re taking a bite of mushy brains – just like a zombie would.

cake or brains?

cake or brains?

My friend loved the cake, and I do believe it will be one he’ll always remember. After all, not many people can say they ate a zombie.

Recipe Tuesday: Chocolate Covered Strawberry Jam Cookies.


This should have been Recipe Sunday. But if you read yesterday’s post, you’d understand the baking drama which I went through these past two days in order to bring these cookies to fruition. And after eating not one, but two of them, I can say with complete certainty that all the pain and hardship was entirely worth it. It all started with a heart-shaped pan…

From which sprung forth white chocolate chip cookie shells….

a cookie to build a dream on.

Which were then filled with homemade strawberry jam…

a heart full of love (and jam).

And finally topped with melted chocolate, colored pink.

pink is the new chocolate.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Jam Cookies.

What you’ll need:

5 oz.   shortening

8 oz.   sugar

.25 oz.  salt

3 oz. (about 2)  eggs

.25 oz.  vanilla

10 oz.  flour

.25 oz.  baking soda

10 oz. white chocolate chips

What you’ll do:

Preheat the oven to 375° F.  In a large bowl, cream together the shortening, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs and vanilla, and add to the shortening/sugar.  In another bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda. Fold that mixture into the other ingredients until evenly mixed. Fold in the white chocolate chips. Scoop about a tablespoon sized ball of dough into each of the hearts, and smush it into the shape of the heart. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges of the hearts turn brown.You don’t need to spray the pan, but let them sit in the pan for at 5 minutes to cool before trying to remove them. I broke one trying to remove them too soon.

For the Jam:

What you’ll need:

2 cups fresh chopped strawberries

1/2 cup sugar

What you’ll do:

In a large saucepan, bring the sugar and strawberries to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and skimming off some of the froth. Turn off heat, cover pan, and leave covered until cool.

For the chocolate, I just melted white chocolate wafers and colored them pink. You can use whatever chocolate you prefer. 🙂

sunshine cake dream.

I had an order due last night for 12 dozen sunshine cupcakes, 4 dozen chocolate, 4 dozen vanilla, and 4 dozen strawberry. It was for my friends tanning salon, Dazzle Me Bronze, which is celebrating it’s 8th anniversary (and is an absolutely gorgeous salon, fyi). Being that I love baking, my friends, and tanning (it’s warm and i’m always cold), I of course agreed to the job, although I was a bit nervous at first, as 144 cupcakes is a lot for one person.

But as they say, one really does learn through experience, and one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned throughout my time as a baker is proper planning and preparation is key. I worked it all out in my mind ahead of time: all the ingredients were purchased and divided on Monday. The icing was made on Tuesday. All the little fondant sunshines were made on Wednesday. Two of the 3 flavors of cupcakes were baked on Thursday (Vanilla, and Strawberry – one should try and bake from lightest to darkest). I took off from my day job on Friday, baked the remaning chocolate cupcakes, iced and then decorated them all. The job was done around 7:30 PM which was pretty much exactly what I had estimated (I took some breaks throughout the day for chores and leisure, which I also knew I would do so I included that in my pre-planning – it’s good to know yourself). I delivered the cupcakes in tact, and came home to a clean kitchen – planning ahead also makes for an easier cleanup.

Anyway, the reason I’m telling you all this is to help you avoid some of the costly mistakes and frustration I experienced early on, including running out of ingredients mid-job, getting only 3 hours of sleep in order to get a job done in time, and turning your kitchen into a war zone of batter explosions and icing blasts. It also makes for a better end product – a more relaxed baker is a more focused baker and is less likely to make mistakes..

I’m sure now you are all dying to know just how the sunshine cupcakes turned out. Well, wait no more!! Feast your eyes below – it’s ok to stare directly at the sun in this case.

chocolate sun.

 Chocolate with chocolate buttercream and gold sugar sparkles….

vanilla shine.

Vanilla with buttercream and gold sugar sparkles, and…

pink sky.

Strawberry with buttercream and pink sugar sparkles.  It’s a sunshine day!!

beef and beer (and cupcakes).

Today, I made 4 dozen cupcakes for a beef and beer. I love being able to use my talents to help others, so I was happy to do it. Plus, in this scenario, particular flavors are not usually specified, as the recipients are usually just happy to take whatever you can give. This for me is the best part, as it allows me to get creative and have a little fun. Which is exactly what I did today.

Fun flavor #1:  Strawberry.

pretty in pink.

I LOVE strawberry cake. It’s not a very popular request though. I think most people actually forget it’s an option, or think its going to taste like that fake strawberry junk they use to make Strawberry Quick. Sure, I admit, part of me loves strawberry cake because it’s pink. But not all strawberry cakes are created equal. For mine, I chopped up some fresh strawberries, and mixed them into the batter, to make them authentic. Although the icing was pink as well, it was not strawberry flavored. Too much of a good thing is not always a good thing. I thought vanilla buttercream, colored pink would enhance the strawberry goodness, rather than overwhelm it.  Dust with a little light pink sanding sugar, and serve.

Fun flavor#2: Chocolate chocolate chip.

a lot o' chocolate.

I really didn’t want to get too crazy with the flavors – you have to give the people what they want, which is usually chocolate or vanilla.  I opted for chocolate, since, you really can’t go wrong with a chocolate cupcake. But I wanted to make it a little more fun, so I threw in some chocolate chips. The icing, is kind of  an interesting story. I will probably never be able to recreate this particular icing again. It started off as a chocolate whipped cream icing. But something went wrong – I’m still not sure what, but my guess is mis-measured ingredients. Anyway, it just wasn’t whipping. So I decided to add some confectioners sugar. This helped. However I didn’t want it to taste like pure sugar and cause unsuspecting cupcake eaters to lose their teeth on contact. So, I added some butter. This helped even more. The icing was slowly gaining in richness and thickness, and before I knew it, I had created some sort of chocolate whipped cream / buttercream icing hybrid.  It was damn good stuff. And it will probably never happen again. Good thing there’s a bunch left. I shall use it wisely.

Anyway, I love baking under normal circumstances, and it’s something that, whilst engaged in, I am truly happy. But doing it for a good cause – well that just about takes the cake.