Lilac Vanilla Mini Cakes

Lilac Vanilla Mini Cakes

Once upon a time, there was a little black bear who woke up from a long nap. As she stretched, she felt her tummy growl. She ventured into the morning sunshine and smelled something sweet. She sniffed the air, following the sweet fragrance until she came upon a beautiful purple tree. She climbed up to a comfy branch and ate the tender, purple blossoms to her heart’s content.

Bears, butterflies and bees know something good when they see it. We humans can also enjoy lilacs. I knew lilacs were edible, but I hadn’t tasted them until recently. The flavor reminds me of beets, slightly sweet with a vegetable aftertaste. I really wanted to try lilac syrup after seeing so many photos of pretty purple syrup online. I discovered that lilac syrup is not purple. It’s more of a dull, brownish blue-green. Many people use food coloring or blueberries to color their syrup. I decided to skip that step since I would be using my lilac syrup inside of cake layers. I made a simple syrup with lilac blossoms and let them steep for a couple of hours. It was just long enough to give a subtle lilac flavor without being too floral. If you want a stronger lilac flavor, I suggest using more lilac blossoms rather than steeping longer to avoid bitterness.

I paired the lilac syrup with this soft, fluffy vanilla cake and silky Swiss meringue buttercream. If you aren’t a fan of lilac syrup, feel free to use vanilla simple syrup instead and just use the lilac blossoms to decorate your cakes. They look stunning on any cake or cupcakes.

Print Recipe
Lilac Vanilla Mini Cakes
Soft, fluffy mini white vanilla cakes with lilac syrup and vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream, topped with lilac blossoms
Course Dessert
Servings
mini cakes
Ingredients
Lilac Syrup
White Vanilla Cake
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Course Dessert
Servings
mini cakes
Ingredients
Lilac Syrup
White Vanilla Cake
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Instructions
Lilac Syrup
  1. Combine lilac blossoms, sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring gently to dissolve sugar.
  2. Turn down heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and allow lilac blossoms to steep for 2 hours. Pass lilac syrup through a mesh sieve.
White Vanilla Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, oil and vanilla bean paste with an electric mixer at medium speed, until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  4. On medium speed, beat in egg whites in two additions, then beat in egg until well combined.
  5. On low speed, beat in one third of the flour mixture, then beat in sour cream just until combined.
  6. Beat in the remaining flour in two additions, alternating with milk. Beat just until combined.
  7. Transfer batter to prepared cake pans. Bake for 28-33 minutes, or until top is light golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Do not over bake.
  8. Allow cakes to cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and continue cooling on a wire rack.
  9. Cut cakes into twelve 2 3/4-inch rounds using a cookie or biscuit cutter.
  10. Using a pastry brush, brush mini cakes generously with lilac syrup or vanilla simple syrup.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  1. Combine egg whites and sugar in a large heatproof bowl. Set over a pan of simmering water.
  2. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and temperature of 160ºF is reached.
  3. Transfer mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Whisk on low speed, gradually increasing to medium-high speed. Whisk until glossy, stiff peaks form and mixture reaches room temperature.
  4. Turn mixer to medium-low speed. Add butter, a few pieces at a time, allowing butter to fully incorporate before adding more. If mixture looks curdled, keep mixing and it will correct itself.
  5. Switch to a paddle attachment. On low speed, mix in vanilla bean paste and salt. Continue mixing on low speed for a few minutes until smooth.
  6. Remove about 3/4 cup of frosting and transfer to a small bowl. Using a toothpick, place two tiny drops of lilac gel food color and one tiny drop of violet gel food color into the bowl. Mix with a spatula until well combined.
Assembly
  1. Smear a bit of frosting on each mini cake board. Top with a cake round, frosting, then a second cake round. Frost with a crumb coat if desired. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Frost mini cakes with white Swiss meringue buttercream, then smear small amounts of lilac Swiss meringue buttercream around the sides and top. Smooth frosting with a bench scraper and smooth the tops with a small offset spatula. Decorate with lilac blossoms.
Vanilla Simple Syrup (optional)
  1. Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. When sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract.
Recipe Notes

*If you can't find ultra fine granulated sugar, it's ok to substitute with regular granulated sugar.

**To find the lilac gel food color I used, click here.

***To find the violet gel food color I used, click here.

****To find 3-inch mini cake boards, click here.

The Nutcracker Land of Sweets Cupcakes

Nutcracker Land of Sweets Cupcakes

The tradition of enjoying the Nutcracker Ballet at Christmastime is another thing the pandemic took from us. I’m not sure when I’ll ever feel safe sitting close to people in a theater for ballets, plays or movies. In the meantime, I can enjoy the music at home and share some Nutcracker inspired treats with you.

The Nutcracker Land of Sweets is a magical theme that has me mesmerized. Gingerbread, candy canes, gumdrops and billowy clouds of pink frosting are what dreams are made of. And that’s exactly what these dreamy cupcakes are made of. The cupcake flavor is a subtle spice cake. The recipe is adapted from a Martha Stewart cake recipe I made last summer. The original cake was paired with blackberry jam, but I knew plum jam would be perfect for these cupcakes. I topped them with a mildly sweet, fluffy Swiss meringue buttercream.

Part of the fun of making these cupcakes began at the store as I collected the sweets to decorate the cupcakes. Another perk of the job is taste testing the candy. I discovered that purple spice drops are licorice flavored and red spice drops are cinnamon. Who knew?

Print Recipe
The Nutcracker Land of Sweets Cupcakes
Spice cupcakes filled with plum jam, topped with fluffy pink frosting, gingerbread men and Christmas candy, and dusted with sugar snow
Course Dessert
Keyword cupcakes
Servings
cupcakes
Ingredients
Spice cupcakes
Pink Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Course Dessert
Keyword cupcakes
Servings
cupcakes
Ingredients
Spice cupcakes
Pink Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Instructions
Spice Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a 12 serving muffin pan with disposable baking cups. (I used silver foil liners.)
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, spices and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  4. Add egg, egg white, and vanilla, one at a time, mixing until well combined.
  5. Add flour mixture in two additions, alternating with milk. Mix until combined.
  6. Divide batter evenly into wells of prepared muffin pan, filling about 2/3 full.
  7. Bake until light golden and toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 16-18 minutes.
  8. Let cool in muffin pan for 5 minutes. Gently transfer cupcakes to cooling rack to cool completely.
  9. Core the center of each cupcake, removing a 3/4-inch deep circle. Fill with jam and replace the circle top.
  10. Frost cupcakes with pink Swiss meringue buttercream. Decorate with cookies and candies. Lightly sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Pink Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercreamgue Buttercream
  1. Combine egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl. Set over a pan of gently simmering water.
  2. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and temperature of 160ºF is reached.
  3. Transfer mixture to the bowl of a stand mixture with a whisk attachment. Whisk on low speed, gradually increasing to medium-high speed. Whisk until glossy, stiff peaks form and mixture reaches room temperature.
  4. Turn mixer to medium-low speed. Add butter, a few pieces at a time, allowing the butter to fully incorporate each time before adding more.
  5. Switch to paddle attachment. On low speed, mix in vanilla, salt and food color. Continue mixing on low speed for a few minutes until smooth.
Recipe Notes

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Spice Cake

Fairy Tale Meringue Cookies

Fairy tale meringue cookies

Sometimes we need a little magic in our lives. These pretty, dainty meringue cookies sparked a bit of magic in my life that I want to share with you. It started when I washed some beautiful little violas. Watching them float in a bowl of clear water was positively therapeutic. After pressing and weighing them down with a heavy book overnight, the reveal of perfectly flat, delicate blossoms was so satisfying. The process of making meringue is also very satisfying for me. I love the moment when the frothy egg and sugar mixture magically turns to glossy, billowy sweetness.

Piping the meringue circles was fun! I traced circles on the bottom of the parchment paper to use as a guide for stress-free piping. I used white chocolate to fill the center of the meringue circles, but you can also use white chocolate chips or candy melts. You can use any small edible flowers or flower petals. Feel free to express your creativity! Try using sprinkles, edible glitter or tint the meringue mixture with a few drops of gel food color.

fairy tale meringue cookies

Print Recipe
Fairy Tale Meringue Cookies
Meringue cookies filled with white chocolate and topped with pressed edible flowers
Keyword cookies
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Pressed edible flowers
Meringue cookies
Keyword cookies
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Pressed edible flowers
Meringue cookies
Instructions
Pressed edible flowers
  1. Gently wash edible flowers. Pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Press between parchment paper. Weigh down with a heavy book for at least 24 hours.
Meringue cookies
  1. Beat egg whites with an electric mixer at medium speed until frothy.
  2. Add cream of tartar and beat to soft peaks.
  3. Continue beating and gradually add sugar and almond extract.
  4. Turn mixer to high speed and beat to glossy, stiff peaks.
  5. Preheat oven to 200ºF. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Transfer meringue to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip. *I used Ateco #864
  7. Pipe two-inch circles about an inch apart onto prepared baking sheets.
  8. Bake for one hour. Turn off oven and let meringues cool in oven.
  9. In a microwave safe container, microwave white chocolate for 10 second intervals until melted or melt on the stovetop in a double boiler.
  10. Transfer melted white chocolate to a squeeze bottle or a piping bag. Fill holes of meringue circles with white chocolate. Top each with a pressed flower.
  11. Let chocolate set at room temperature. Do not refrigerate.
Recipe Notes

*To find Ateco tip #864, click here.

Honeydukes Inspired Pink Coconut Ice Cake

Honeydukes Inspired Pink Coconut Ice Cake by Brownie Mischief

I recently enjoyed a girls’ day out at Universal Studios Hollywood. My daughter is a Harry Potter fan, so of course we beelined straight to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter upon arrival at the theme park. We were spellbound by the ominous looking Hogwart’s Castle and the sparkling snow-topped shops of Hogsmeade. My daughter was in Harry Potter fan heaven, flitting around Hogsmeade, testing out her interactive wand and sipping some refreshing Butter Beer. It’s definitely a must-try

Our favorite shop was Honeydukes sweet shop, where anyone with a sweet tooth can get his or her candy wishes fulfilled. The candy selection was nothing short of magical. We picked up some Chocolate Flies, a Chocolate Frog and some Pink Coconut Ice candy.

Honeydukes Candy                   Pink Coconut Ice Candy

I was most excited to try the Pink Coconut Ice. I’ve been intrigued by the thought of this candy ever since it was mentioned in the book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling. The Pink Coconut Ice candy is similar to a stiff fudge. It’s very sweet, so you can cut it into small squares and have plenty to share with friends.

Pink Coconut Ice Candy

I imagined the “shimmery pink squares” a little differently so, I decided to build on my imagined version of the coconut candy by making a shimmery pink coconut cake. I used my favorite coconut cake recipe and pink coconut buttercream. I tinted my buttercream with Americolor gel food color soft pink. I covered my cake in large flakes of unsweetened coconut. To find unsweetened coconut flakes, click here. I think the large flakes look more whimsical and add texture, but feel free to use whatever kind of coconut you prefer. I colored my coconut a shimmery, soft pink. Click here to see how I colored my coconut flakes.

Honeydukes Inspired Pink Coconut Ice Cake by Brownie Mischief

You don’t have to be a Harry Potter fan to appreciate this pink, fluffy, coconut-covered cake. I can imagine this pretty cake at any party or event with a pink theme. I hope you enjoy this perfectly Pink Coconut Ice Cake as much as we did!


Print Recipe


Pink Coconut Ice Cake

Moist, fluffy coconut cake with pink buttercream and coconut flakes

Course Dessert

Servings
6-inch cake (serves 6)


Ingredients
Coconut Cake

Pink Coconut Buttercream

Pink Coconut Flakes

Course Dessert

Servings
6-inch cake (serves 6)


Ingredients
Coconut Cake

Pink Coconut Buttercream

Pink Coconut Flakes


Instructions
Coconut Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Grease three 6-inch cake pans.

  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

  3. In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar and oil together with an electric mixer at medium speed, until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.

  4. Beat in coconut extract. Gradually beat in egg whites until mixture is well combined, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl.

  5. Beat in flour mixture in three additions, alternating with coconut milk, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl.

  6. Pour batter into prepared pans, evenly distributing batter between the pans. Bake for 28-32 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of pans comes out clean.

  7. Place pans on wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans and place on rack to cool completely.

Pink Coconut Buttercream
  1. In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed, until light and fluffy.

  2. Add salt. Beat until combined.

  3. Turn off mixer. Add powdered sugar. Mix on low speed until sugar is moistened, then turn up to medium speed and beat until combined.

  4. Add coconut milk a little at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Add coconut extract and beat at medium speed until buttercream is smooth.

  5. Add gel food color with a toothpick, a little at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Beat at low speed until well blended.

  6. Fill and frost cake with Pink Coconut Buttercream.

Pink Coconut Flakes
  1. Place powdered sugar in a small bowl. Add a small amount of petal dust. Whisk together with a small whisk. Add additional petal dust until desired color is reached.

  2. Spread coconut flakes out onto a large shallow dish. Sprinkle powdered sugar mixture over coconut with a small sieve. Toss gently with gloved hands.

  3. Place cake on a baking sheet to catch excess coconut. Press colored coconut onto sides and top of cake.


Recipe Notes

*Do not substitute all-purpose flour. For best results weigh your dry ingredients. **For best results, use natural coconut extract. Imitation coconut flavorings may give your baked goods an unpleasant flavor. ***If your coconut milk is separated when you open the can, simply place it in a blender to emulsify before using. To find my favorite 6-inch cake pans, click here. To find the gel food color I used, click here. To find unsweetened coconut flakes, click here. To find the edible pearl dust I used, click here.