White Chocolate and Citrus Confetti Cake with White Chocolate Citrus Buttercream

4 layers of cake with layers of curd and buttercream standing tall

There’s this misconception that a lot of people have that baking is super complicated and requires people to be super precise. I argue for most cakes, muffins and cookies that home cooks are inclined to attempt, that’s not the case. Like with all cooking, being organized is the secret to success. Reading the recipe thoroughly a few times, assembling and prepping all your ingredients before starting any part of the cooking/baking process is essential to a successful result.

One of the things I like about baking, is that by simply swapping out an ingredient here and there you can completely change the flavor profile of what is essentially the same recipe. Case in point…the cake pictured above is the same base as the Peppermint Chocolate Layer Cake from a few months ago. I just swapped out white chocolate for the cocoa and dark chocolate and swapped out citrus for the peppermint oil and instead of crushed peppermint candy between layers, I used sprinkles and crushed Belgian Butter Cookies and Corn Flakes. Then I used the same method for assembling the cake. Otherwise the only other thing that was done differently, is that I baked the cake in 2 sheet pans and then used the outer ring of my springform pan to cut out the individual layers. It turns out that the cake cooks more evenly, faster and the top is more level than if you use round cake pans.

So my hope is if you learn anything at all here its that you discover that these are just ideas and you can riff off of any of them by changing ingredients here and there.

Here are the ingredients to make this particular cake,

Ingredients

  • 3 cups AP flour
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp each lemon and orange extract
  • 8 oz. melted white chocolate
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1 TBS each lemon zest and orange zest
  • 3/4 cup rainbow sprinkles/jimmies
  • Icing (see below)
  • 2 cups lemon curd
  • 1 cup of assorted sprinkles for decorating

Place a clean glass or stainless steal bowl over a pot of lightly boiling water to make a double boiler. Break the chocolate into small chunks and place into the bowl, stir until all the chocolate has melted. Set aside to let cool. While the chocolate is cooling, assemble the rest of the cake ingredients. In a large bowl, combine, flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and set aside. In another bowl, mix the oil, water, sour cream, vanilla extract, citrus extract and eggs lightly until combined then slowly pour into the dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined by hand or with an electric mixer. Slowly mix in the melted chocolate. Divide batter evenly between 2 prepared ½ sheet pans and bake at 350F for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Remove from the oven to cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then remove from the pans and let cool completely before icing.

Ingredients

  • 1lb unsalted butter (softened and room temperature)
  • 12 oz white chocolate chips
  • 2lb powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp each lemon and orange extract
  • 1 tsp each lemon and orange zest
  • 2 TBS corn syrup
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup cornflakes

Use a double boiler or microwave to melt white chocolate chips and set aside to cool. Once the white chocolate has cooled but is still liquid, whip butter in a large bowl or stand mixer with whisk attachment on high speed until the butter turns pale yellow. Scrap down the sides of the bowl add zest, vanilla extract, citrus extract and whisk on medium speed until flavoring is incorporated. With the mixer on low, slowly drizzle in the white chocolate and add the corn syrup*. Turn the mixer off and scrap down the sides. Add ⅓ of the powder sugar and turn the mixer on to low, mix until the powered sugar is thoroughly incorporated, turn off the mixer and scrap down the sides between each addition. Continue until all the powdered has been added. You should hear the motor of the mixer slow down. Now gradually start adding the heavy whipping cream. Your looking for a nice spreadable/pipable texture that’s not too loose. The icing should be airy but still hold a peak so you may not need all the cream.

For assembly

Use the outer ring of a springform pan, or a make a 6″circle out of cardboard to cut out 3 layers from you sheet cakes. Crumble the remaining scraps, to use as your base layer. Slowly build your layers, cake, curd, buttercream, sprinkles and cornflakes. Then keep repeating that process. At the top, you can drizzle some lemon curd, or pipe buttercream roses and finish the rest of the sprinkles.

Peppermint Chocolate Layer Cake with Peppermint White Chocolate Buttercream Icing

Rich chocolate cake stacked high with layers of Peppermint White Chocolate Buttercream Icing and finished off with more buttercream, chopped up candy canes, and peppermint bark

I hope everyone had a relaxing Christmas Holiday, things are settling back down around the homestead and the marathon cookie baking and decorating has come to an end. Now that we’re heading into the New Year, things are also calming down at work and I should be back to having consistent days off which will hopefully allow the blogging schedule to fall back into place.

This week’s recipe came about because I was asked to bring a dessert for Christmas dinner.  I’ve been intrigued (read obsessed) with MilkBar’s layer cakes (and their corn cookie and crack pie). The gang over at MilkBar always seem to come up with these fanciful flavor combinations for their cakes and they have a distinct visual style with their unfrosted sides. It’s been ages since I’ve baked a layer cake, so I thought it would be kind of fun to try my hand at building a MilkBar style towering marvel.

Over the years via interviews and various cooking segments, Christina Tosi (the genius behind MilkBar) has shared how she goes about designing and assembling these cakes with the cake itself, the frosting and a textural element as the basic components. In this case because of the holiday I opted for crushed candy canes and crumbled peppermint bark for my textural elements. I also decided to use peppermint oil rather than peppermint extract, because it provides an intense wallop of peppermint flavor. You can certainly use peppermint extract, it just takes a lot more extract to provide the same intensity of flavor and that will impact the texture of the frosting. I was able to find food grade peppermint oil at a specialty shop, but you should be able to find it easily enough on the interwebs.

As it turns out, I must have given away our cake pans when we moved from NJ to CA. So I had to go out and buy new cake pans. I opted for 7″ inch springform pans figuring that the springform would come in handy for assembly, transport and unveiling. I lucked out and was able to find 3 identical pans at Homegoods.

There’s basically three stages to creating this cake, first its the baking of the cake, then making the buttercream and then the last part is the assembly of the cake itself. The whole process took about 8 hours, which includes the time the cake had to chill in the fridge so the icing could set up and help hold the.cake together so It could be transported to its destination.

Part 1…the cake

Ingredients

  • 3 cups AP flour
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint oil
  • 8 oz. melted extra dark chocolate
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 8 tsp extra dark cocoa

Place a clean glass or stainless steal bowl over a pot of lightly boiling water to make a double boiler. Break the chocolate into small chunks and place into the bowl, stir until all the chocolate has melted. Set aside to let cool. While the chocolate is cooling, assemble the rest of the cake ingredients. In a large bowl, combine, flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and cocoa and set aside. In another bowl, mix the oil, water, sour cream, vanilla extract, peppermint oil and eggs lightly until combined then slowly pour into the dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined by hand or with an electric mixer. Slowly mix in the melted chocolate. Divide batter evenly between 3 prepared 8″ cake  pans and bake in an oven preheated to 350 for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Because I used smaller pans and filled them to about half full, the cake took closer to an hour to bake for me. Remove from the oven to cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then remove from the pans and let cool completely before icing.

Part 2….the Icing

Ingredients

  • 1lb unsalted butter (softened and room temperature)
  • 12 oz white chocolate chips
  • 1lb powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp food grade peppermint oil
  • 2 TBS corn syrup
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream

Use a double boiler or microwave to melt white chocolate chips and set aside to cool. Once the white chocolate has cooled but is still liquid, whip butter in a large bowl or stand mixer with whisk attachment on high speed until the butter turns pale yellow. Scrap down the sides of the bowl and add vanilla extract and peppermint oil and whisk on medium speed until flavoring is incorporated. With the mixer on low, slowly drizzle in the white chocolate and add the corn syrup*. Turn the mixer off and scrap down the sides. Add ⅓ of the powder sugar and turn the mixer on to low, mix until the powered sugar is thoroughly incorporated, turn off the mixer and scrap down the sides between each addition. Continue until all the powdered has been added. You should hear the motor of the mixer slow down. Now gradually start adding the heavy whipping cream. Your looking for a nice spreadable/pipable texture that’s not too loose. The icing should be airy but still hold a peak so you may not need all the cream.

Part 3….Assembly

Some assembly required. A springform pan and a sheet of clear vinyl hold the cake together during assembly.

 

  • large spoon or piping bag with large tip to apply icing
  • 1 cake pan
  • 1 cake board
  • a 10″ wide strip of acetate of clear vinyl.
  • clear tape
  • crushed candy canes
  • broken up pieces of peppermint bark

Cut the acetate of vinyl so that the length is equal to the circumference of the cake pan with 1″ overlap. The acetate/vinyl is what will allow you to build up the layers of the cake.  Level all three cakes, crumble the tops and set aside, you’ll use them to form the bottom layer of the cake.

Place the cake board at the bottom of the cake pan, then form a cylinder with the acetate/vinyl and place it into the cake pan, making sure that the cylinder is snug against the sides of the cake pan. Tape the top and bottom of the cylinder.

Spread a thin layer of icing on the cake board and pack the crumbled up cake into the bottom of the cake pan and top with a layer of buttercream. I find that its easier to use a piping bag for this rather than trying to spread with a spoon. Sprinkle the buttercream with crushed up candy canes and peppermint bark. Continue layering cake, buttercream and candy until get to the top layer. Frost the top layer and sprinkle with more candy canes and peppermint bark. Place a layer of plastic wrap over the top of the cylinder and place in the fridge to chill for at least 6 hours or overnight. This will allow the frosting to firm up which will help keep the cake together.

To serve, tip the cake onto its side and remove the cake pan, keeping a hand on the cake board so that it stays in place, turn the cake back up upright and place it onto a cake stand or plate. Cut the tape and remove the vinyl/acetate cylinder.

Enjoy….

* The corn syrup is necessary for texture and to help stabilize the frosting. Honey or agave will not substitute in this case because they’ll solidify and turn gritty when the cake is chilled.

No-Bake Blueberry Mousse Cheesecake

Blueberry Mousse Cheesecake decorated with fresh and dried blueberries and blackberries and dusted with powder sugar

I was asked to bring a dessert to a dinner party a few weeks back and I thought I would use it as an opportunity to test out a few different ideas. The first was to try to reproduce pastry chef Christina Tosi’s corn cookies. Chef Tosi recently opened the lone LA outposts of her chain of dessert bar/bakeries MilkBar. MilkBar is well known for their Crackpie and super tall Birthday Cake with the undecorated sides. But for me the hidden gem is the corn cookie. Its a perfect blend of salty buttery sweetness. I was able to successfully reproduce the recipe and made a pretty good facsimile of the corn cookie. To avoid possible copyright infringement issues, I’m going to link to the cookie recipe via the Washington Post website, here.

I thought corn and blueberries would pair really well together so I decided to use the corn cookies as crust for a no-bake cheesecake. I also took inspiration from the corn powder used in the cookies (which is just ground up freeze dried corn) and though I could do that with blueberries and that would allow for a really intense blueberry flavor, without adding a lot of extra moisture and sugar to the mousse which fresh berries would have.

I used 4 corn cookies to make the crust I just smashed them up with a couple of teaspoons of melted butter and pressed the crumbs into the bottom of a spring for pan and then placed the pan into the fridge to chill. While the crust was cooling I set about making my mousse

Recipe

2 packets unflavored gelatine

1 cup mascarpone cheese

½ cup of granulated sugar

Juice of 1 lemon

¼ blueberry powder*

1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream

1 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp lemon extract

1 tsp lemon zest

Using a double boiler or a heavy bottom pot, slowly heat up 1 cup of milk over low heat. Empty the contents of the 2 envelope into the warming milk and stir with a whisk and set aside to allow the gelatin to bloom. In a large bowl whisk the mascarpone, vanilla and lemon extract, lemon juice, blueberry powder and lemon zest together until well combined. In another large bowl, whip the heavy whipping cream and slowly add in the sugar. Whip until it has doubled in volume.  Use a mesh strainer and pour the milk and gelatin mixture into the mascarpone mixture. Stir until combined then slowly fold the whipping cream into the cheese mixture. Once everything is well mixed. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust. Chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight until set.

*to make the blueberry powder just take freeze dried blueberries (available at camping stores or some grocery store) and grind in a food processor or spice grinder.