Vanilla Malt Buttercream Birthday Cake

Literally a few days before Casper’s 1st Birthday, he took his first (unassisted) steps! I am both horrified and delighted by this new skill. I mean, he’s still crawling a lot–it’s more efficient–but, he’s definitely walking even if it’s more of a Tommy Pickles stumble. It’s pretty cute but, it takes all of me to not scoop him up immediately every time he stumbles.

We celebrated his first year with some family and friends with a BBQ over the weekend. Sean smoked ribs–they are seriously delicious and he deserves major props for perfecting his method– I made a nectarine and tomato salad that I’ll post here soon, and my deviled egg potato salad that I’ve been trying to perfect (and I think is just about there). I also made this cake, obvs. The cake itself is just my chocolate cupcake recipe, baked as 2 6-inch cake layers. I split each layer, so I had a total of 4 layers because I like a tall party cake. This recipe makes sturdy, stackable, easy to split layers. There’s just something about all those layers that shout “CELEBRATION!” to me. I wanted a classic cake combo and after vacillating for days I decided on a chocolate cake with basic, sugary, vanilla buttercream. I knew Casper would only have a little, so I just kind of threw caution (or mom-crazy) to the wind and went all out with his cake. Even though I wanted a basic buttercream, I had to bump up the flavor a teeny bit more and add malt powder. I love the flavor of malt in sweet, vanilla desserts and it paired so nicely with the deep, chocolatey cake. I also used my homemade vanilla extract–vanilla beans + vodka + time–I actually used the last of my batch that I’ve had for years. Literally, years. Like, 5. It was a kindergartener. So the flavor was very vanilla-y and had specks of vanilla bean, which I love seeing in frostings but any good quality (aka pure) vanilla extract would be perfect. I iced it in what I’m calling a “water color stripe”–basically I followed the method for making an ombré cake, but alternated white and colored frostings instead. It turned out pretty cute, I think, and it was easy to do. This style of frosting is totally fine if it’s imperfect, leaving plenty of room for error. I appreciate that in a frosting technique. I sprinkled the edges of the cake with little star sprinkles to make it extra festive. For the cupcakes, I piped all the remaning colors–plus some pink, since it didn’t end up on the cake itself–into another piping bag and piped it onto the cupcakes using a star tip. I sprinkled those with some star spinkles plus some disco dust (aka edible glitter) and they turned out crazy but fun. I call them “space unicorn” cupcakes.

Anyway, then I made a little paper Totoro cake topper because Casper has a “Tototo” (as he says) plush toy that he LOVES (as well as a pillow and a print in his room). Sean is a huge Studio Ghibli fan, and it’s definitely getting passed on to Casper. He hugs and kisses Tototo and it’s so cute! It kills me. Initially I wanted to make a cake like this one from Lyndsay. I was feeling overwhelmed by the idea of trying to pipe a Totoro likeness, but I can put together a paper cut-out version, so I went with that. I also stuck some super cute sparkler candles in the top–thank goodness the didn’t catch Totoro on fire! It was a concern, but he remains unscathed and cake was had by all.

 

PS, You can see the lit sparklers and the rest of the food on my Instagram feed.

Vanilla Malt Buttercream Birthday Cake
 
Prep time
Total time
 
I did 2½ times (using 5 sticks of butter) this recipe to frost and fill a 4-layer, 6-inch cake and generously frost 9 cupcakes. For the cake, I usedthisrecipe and doubled it–which gave me the 2, 6-inch, cakes and 9 cupcakes.
Author:
Serves: about 3 cups
Ingredients
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • dash of salt
  • 4 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons malt powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
Instructions
  1. Beat the butter with an electric mixer or stand mixer until smooth and creamy. Beat in the salt. Add the powdered sugar, beating on low speed 1 cup at a time, until completely incorporated. Beat in the malt powder, vanilla, and heavy cream (1 tablespoon at a time, to reach desire consistency). Continue to beat the buttercream until it is smooth, creamy, and spreadable. Add more cream or powdered sugar to get your desired consistency. Tint with gel color, if you’d like. Pipe or spread onto the cake layers and cupcakes.
Notes
Adapted from Glorious Treats

Slow Cooker Winter Rosé Sangria


Slow Cooker Winter Rosé Sangria

Heeey! It’s officially winter here in the Northern Hemisphere and officially holiday times in my home. My parents are here with one of my nieces. My brother, his girlfriend, and my other niece will be on their way soon. We are scrambling around getting last minute things done and (literally) wrapped up, AND we’re finalizing grocery lists. Food, dranks, and food galore!

If you haven’t finalized your beverage plans, maybe I could suggest this wintry spiced Rosé sangria? It’s boozy and warm. There’s bourbon and warm spices like cinnamon, clove, vanilla. There’s also sweet apple cider, tangy cranberry, and zesty orange. It’s a perfect adult sipper, a little less rich than traditional mulled wine, but just as warming and cozy on these wintry holiday evenings.

Slow Cooker Winter Rosé SangriaHappy Holidays and Merry Everything to everyone, everywhere!!

For the recipe click on over to Betty Crocker. CHEERS!!!

 

Butter Pecan Granola

I cannot even believe there’s only about 1 week left until Christmas. My house has been decorated for a while and I have been wrapping way too many gifts (note to self, next year needs less gifts). The thing is…I have baked exactly zero cookies. I don’t know what’s going on, but I need to make some cookies happen asap. BUT, I have baked 2 batches of this granola for gifting and it is pretty much the equivalent of a cookie in granola form.

A buttery, oat-y, pecan studded, and maple soaked cookie in a granola outfit.

I usually go the coconut or olive oil route with granola, but since tis’ the season and all that jingle-jangley-Christmas-jazz, I went with butter. OH, MAN. Granola game changer. The butter gets that browned flavor from the long, low bake in the oven and mingles with the maple syrup that sweetens the granola in the most perfect, amazing, way. It’ll make your kitchen smell like butter and maple drenched heaven. It’s definitely not you’re health-conscious-crunchy-granola. More like your butter-drenched-sweet-and-decadent type of granola. I couldn’t help but eat a handful (okay, maybe 2) right off the sheet pan, still warm. I mean, the oats make it healthy-ish and the buttery, maple-y, pecan and coconut studded bits make it special and oh-so holiday appropriate. I packed it into jars and added a little tag for a super-easy, super-delicious gift.

[recipe]

Print Recipe

Butter Pecan Granola

Adapted from my Coconut Oil Granola recipe.

3 cups rolled oats

1 cup pecans

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat your oven to 325ºF and lightly grease a baking sheet (I love to use coconut oil spray for this).

In a large mixing bow, combine the oats, pecans, coconut, salt, and cinnamon.

In a small saucepan combine the maple syrup and butter. Heat over medium-high until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Add the maple-butter mixture to the oats mixture and stir to coat completely. Spread the mixture evenly onto the prepared baking sheet and bake in 15 minute intervals, stirring between each, for about 1 hour or until the granola is golden and starting to crisp. It will become more crisp as it cools.

[/recipe]