Cakes, Cupcakes & Brownies

Dinosaur Train Fondant Cupcake Toppers

by Shawnda on April 22, 2013

in Cakes, Cupcakes & Brownies,Dinosaur Train

Dinosaur Train Fondant Cupcake Toppers

Those are the fondant cupcake toppers from Landry’s Dinosaur Train birthday party. And the photo on the left was the inspiration for those cupcakes:

Dinosaur Train Fondant Cupcake Toppers

Seriously, I was this close to making the “Tiny” cupcake, too (the topper on the bottom left). And the fact that I am still alive today tells you that someone in this house convinced me to stick with one design.

For the record, “knows my limits” is #2 on the the million-item long list titled “Why I Couldn’t Survive Without Jason.”

Because the one design took several days by itself. But the good news – I made them a week out and didn’t have to worry about them as the party was approaching.

Dinosaur Train Fondant Cupcake Toppers

Step 1: Whip up a batch of marshmallow fondant. You can buy it but my experience with store-bought fondant has always been super unfavorable.

Step 2: Color the fondant (I used Americolor yellow, blue, and red).

Step 3: Spend an hour digging through your cake decorating stuff looking for comparable shapes to the inspiration.

The cutters used above came from the following sets:
3 – Wilton Fondant Alphabet Cutters
Smoke stack – Tulip from Wilton Fondant Garden Shapes
Smoke puff (large) – Flower from Wilton Fondant Garden Shapes
Smoke puff (small) – Wilton Fondant & Gum Paste Class Kit
Circle – ~2.5-inch round biscuit cutter

Step 4: Roll out the blue circles, cut them with the biscuit cutter and use an offset spatula to transfer to a rack for drying overnight.

Step 5: Cut out the yellow tulips, lightly brush the bottom of the flowers with water (don’t soak them – one pass with a paint brush or a finger tip dipped in water will do), and place them on the blue circles. Use the biscuit cutter to cut the bottom of the tuplip off, leaving a circle.

Step 6. Cut out the smoke puffs, and place them on the blue circles.

Dinosaur Train Fondant Cupcake Toppers

Step 7. When the smoke puffs are dry, cut the red 3s, lightly brush the bottom with water, and place on the large puff of smoke.

Step 8: Let dry completely and then store until needed. I loosely covered the rack with a dish towel and placed it out of the way on the countertop until the morning of the party.

Dinosaur Train Fondant Cupcake Toppers

The cupcake toppers will soften again after coming in contact with the moisture from the frosting. I topped the morning of the party and the fondant had softened by early afternoon party.

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Cranberry Brownies

Have leftover cranberry sauce? Me, too. Already.

In addition to the cranberry-apricot chutney that I’ve put on everything that was slow enough for me to catch, I also tested out a new port-infused cranberry sauce recipe for Thanksgiving.

It was simple and boozy. And beautiful. And boozy.

In trying to brain storm a way to use those leftovers, I decided it wasn’t quite right for The Cranwich and I definitely didn’t want to be tied down to a big cake or full batch of cupcakes so close to “Pie-palooza.” And that’s when I spotted the box of Ghirardelli brownies I keep on hand in case of emergencies.

(And now you know how we define “emergency” in this house.)

Cranberry Brownies

I simply prepared the brownies as directed on the box and then I dropped the leftover boozy cranberry sauce over top by the tablespoon, swirling it together.

I don’t know why it took so long to come up with the idea of cranberry brownies. Cranberries and chocolate are a delicious and under-appreciated pair. Around the holidays, Costco used to (and maybe still does?) sell dark chocolate-covered cranberries. Those things were like crack, if crack made you gain 3lbs in 3 days. The dark fudgey brownie was the perfect compliment to the cranberry sauce.

Cranberry Brownies

Use your favorite brownie mix (I used Ghirardelli Triple Fudge, it’s insanely chocolatey… and has chocolate chips!) and leftover whole berry sauce (homemade is easy and takes almost no hands-on time).

Cranberry Brownies

Rich, fudgey brownies swirled with leftover cranberry sauce. Dessert couldn't be easier.

Ingredients

  • 1 box brownie mix (or your favorite recipe) prepared in an 8x8 pan, according to package directions
  • ~1/2 cup leftover whole berry cranberry sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven according to the directions in your brownie recipe.
  2. Prepare the recipe according to directions and transfer to a greased 8x8 pan.
  3. Drop small spoonfuls of leftover cranberry sauce over the top of the batter (I used about 1/2 cup).
  4. Using a knife held vertically, swirl the cranberry sauce and the brownie batter together.
  5. Bake as directed in your recipe, (take note that my recipe needed an extra 8 minutes).
  6. Let cool and then cut into 4x3 or 4x4 servings.
  7. Leftovers should be covered and stored at room temp.

Notes

Yields: 12-16 servings

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 1 hour

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The Pastry Queen's American Beauty Cake

Today is the very last Project Pastry Queen challenge. Over 2 years ago, Ashley and I met up in Austin to attend a cooking demo with The Pastry Queen, Rebecca Rather. I’d forgotten about several great recipes in the book and decided that I’d cook and bake all the way through the book.

100-ish recipes later, it is my most used, most stained, and most beloved cookbook.

The final challenge is pretty representative of the book: an involved, multistep, Texas-sized, show-stopping dessert with 9 eggs, 26 ounces of chocolate, 2+ sticks of butter, and 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream. Y’all…

The Pastry Queen's American Beauty Cake

It’s an intensely rich, dense, flourless chocolate cake that’s topped with a semisweet chocolate mousse, and then coated in a chocolate glaze. The Pastry Queen calls it The American Beauty Cake. My husband calls it The PMS Cake.

It’s similar to the Chocolate Overdose Cake but has one less component. And it’s one of those recipes that require you to read all the way through first because there’s an overnight step. One I missed last night but welcomed the “quiet time” in the kitchen this morning for a little baking therapy.

The Pastry Queen's American Beauty Cake

The cake is meant to be served from the freezer, so if – like me – you were born with a negative amount of will power, there’s still hope. I cut the cake into wedges, placed it on a plastic wrap-lined baking sheet, and froze the slices solid (~2 hours) before individually wrapping them in more plastic wrap.

Check out the other PPQ members’ take on American Beauty Cake. Thanks to all those who’ve baked and followed along with the project over the last couple of years. It has been fun.

I’ve already started to work up a fun twist for Project Pastry Queen, Part Deux. Stay tuned :)

American Beauty Cake

An intensely rich flourless chocolate cake, topped with mousse and a chocolate glaze.

Ingredients

  • For the cake:
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter
  • 12 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp dark rum or liqueur of choice
  • For the mousse:
  • 4 Tbsp (1/4 cup) butter
  • 10 oz semi-sweet chocolate
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • For the glaze:
  • 4 oz semisweet chocolate
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • For serving
  • Fresh fruit, like raspberries (optional)

Instructions

  1. Make the cake:Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Line the bottom of a 9-inch sprinform pan (outside wrapped with a triple layer of foil to protect from leaks in the waterbath) with a parchment round and lightly spray the bottom/sides with baking spray.
  3. Melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave in a large bowl, on 30-second intervals until melted.
  4. Whisk in the eggs and sugar until well combined.
  5. Stir in the vanilla and liqueur and then pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  6. Place the pan in a larger pan (like a 13x9) and fill the larger pan with enough hot water to come up level with the batter.
  7. Bake 35-40 minutes, until firm to the touch, and then remove from the oven (but let cool completely in the waterbath).
  8. After the cake cooled, I cut ~4-inch wide strips of parchment and lined the sides of the springform pan, pushing the parchment down between the cake and sides (shrinkage made this possible). This helped with removal later.
  9. Make the mousse:Melt butter and chocolate in the microwave, stirring until smooth; set aside to cool.
  10. Whisk the yolks, sugar, and vanilla together until smooth and then whisk in the chocolate mixture.
  11. Using a mixer, whisk the whites until stiff peaks form.
  12. Fold the egg whites in 3 batches into the chocolate. Once an addition is almost completely incorporated, add the next. The texture will look completely questionable but keep going. It gets better.
  13. Place the cream into the mixer bowl and whip that just until soft peaks start to form.
  14. Fold the whipped cream into the mousse mixture until the texture is uniform - you'll fold this much, much more than a more traditional mousse.
  15. Spread the mousse over the cooled cake, wrap the top with foil, and freeze overnight (at least 6 hours).
  16. Make the glaze:In a small sauce pan, bring corn syrup and cream just to a boil.
  17. Turn off the heat and add the vanilla and chocolate.
  18. Whisk until smooth and then let sit in the pan for 30 minutes to cool and thicken.
  19. Remove the cake from the freezer and turn it out onto a rack set on a baking sheet or on a cake plate, mousse-side on top - remove the ring and peel off the parchment sides.
  20. Pour the glaze into the center of the cake, letting it flood the top and run down the edges (it won't cover the sides completely).
  21. I put the cake in the fridge to set the glaze and then cut pieces for the freezer.
  22. To freeze the whole cake, chill the cake to set the glaze and then wrap with plastic wrap and freeze.
  23. The cake is recommended as best-served just minutes out of the freezer.

Notes

Yields: 14-16 slices

Source: The Pastry Queen

Estimated time: 8 hours

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Roast Cherry Brownie Sundaes

Has any single pound of cherries ever been so decadent? I’m not so sure. And I’m not so sure it should ever be again.

The hardest part of buying cherries is not polishing off the entire bag before you even get to your bookmarked recipes. It’s a difficult race to pit the cherries fast enough for the 2-Year-Old. Because when I fall behind, she simply pops a whole one into her mouth, stem, pit, and all.

After making the Roasted Cherry Chocolate Cake for Project Pastry Queen, we were (I was) hooked on roasted cherries. I’ve had these brownies from Annie’s Eats bookmarked since last summer. Roasted cherries and dense, fudgey brownies? Sign me up.

Roast Cherry Brownie Sundaes

I roasted the cherries in some of our port to concentrate the rich berry flavors and then folded that almost magical reduction into my current favorite brownie recipe – Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Brownies. I have a couple of friends who swear that no homemade brownie can touch a from-the-box brownie. And after one bite of the Ghirardellis, I can at least temporarily agree.

For the sauce, I was looking for something less sweet. something to pair with the rich brownies and sweet vanilla bean ice cream. We simmered more cherries in more port to make a very grown-up topping for a very grown-up sundae.

I can’t even imagine how many miles in 863% humidity I’ll have to run to wipe that brownie sundae off the books. It’s probably better if I don’t dwell on it.

Roasted Cherry Brownie Sundaes

A rockstar brownie sundae celebrating cherry season: rich brownies studded with cherries roasted in port wine, topped with vanilla ice cream and a roasted cherry-port sauce.

Ingredients

  • For the brownies:
  • 1/2 lb cherries
  • 1/4 cup port
  • 1 box brownie mix (I use Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Brownies), or your favorite brownie recipe, prepared according to direction
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving
  • For the roasted cherry-port sauce:
  • 1/2 lb cherries
  • 1/2 cup port
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Remove stems, pit cherries, and then cut in half (or quarters if very large).
  3. Place in a small baking dish with 1/4 cup of port.
  4. Roast for 30 minutes, until the cherries are very soft and the port has slightly reduced (you'll have 2-3 Tbsp of liquid).
  5. Set the cherries aside to cool while you prepare your brownies according to directions.
  6. Reduce oven heat according to your brownie recipe.
  7. Grease an 8x8 baking pan.
  8. As the last step in making the brownie batter, stir in the cherries and accumulated juices and then transfer to the baking pan.
  9. Bake until a knife inserted in the center of the brownies comes out with moist crumbs attached (~45 minutes in my oven).
  10. To make the cherry port sauce, remove the stems and pits from the remaining 1/2 lb cherries.
  11. Quarter the cherries and then coarsely chop.
  12. Add to a small sauce pan with the port and sugar, cooking over medium-high until it begins to boil.
  13. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 35-40 minutes, until very thick and syrupy (you'll have ~1 cup of sauce).
  14. Serve brownies topped with a scoop of ice cream and a spoonful of warm cherry-port sauce.
  15. Leftover sauce will keep in the fridge for several days, serve rewarmed.

Notes

Yields: ~1 cup cherry-port sauce; sundae servings very

Brownies inspired by Annie's Eats, Cherry-Port Sauce from Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 2 hours 30 minutes

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