Meet Cara. She’s made of rich, dark chocolate covered with creamy caramel. 

I baked this cake for a fundraiser at my son’s daycare to benefit its sister programs in Nairobi, Kenya. It was also a baking contest, each person who bought pieces of cake and pie got a vote.

Caramel Chocolate Cake by Amelie

When the director asked what my cake was named, it came to me. This caramel-chocolate sweetie’s name was Ms. Cara Cocoa.

Perhaps I have an unfair advantage, you say, when it comes to a bake off. But I’m a cupcake baker, not a cake baker. Plus, I wouldn’t say they were too serious about it. One parent brought a delicious and beautiful but store-bought cake and wasn’t disqualified.

I don’t often bake full-sized cakes. I’m used to short baking time with cupcakes and forget how long you have to leave these in the oven. Frosting them is also still a challenge. Evening the layers, stacking, crumb-coating, smoothing… Geez. With cupcakes, it’s often just a quick swirl and done.

Caramel Chocolate Cake by Amelie

I made enough frosting, at least. I sometimes stress about that. I followed Ovenly‘s Salted Caramel Buttercream recipe (check out their cookbook).

I couldn’t resist adding more caramel to finish it. I used a squeeze bottle filled with caramel sauce to adorn the edge with enough excess to drip down the sides of my cake.

Ms. Cocoa didn’t win. A pie won. A pie! I mean, really…

(I love pie, too. It’s ok.)

Caramel Chocolate Cake by Amelie

Only crumbs were left at the end, and that’s a big win in my book.

Cake - All gone!

Family Fun Night - Kids for Kids

FNaF cupcakes, for one of my favorite 9-year-olds…

If the animatronics at Chuck E. Cheese gave you the creeps as a kid, you are not alone. Five Nights at Freddy’s is a video game in which such characters come to life and try to kill you. Sounds about right.

What surprised me about this scary game is that there is a cupcake! It belongs to a backup singer chicken named Chica. She wears a bib that say  “Let’s Eat!” How bad could she be? (Bad, huh?)

Chica's Cupcake from Five Nights at Freddy's

Because the cupcake in the game is brown with pink icing, I made chocolate cupcakes with strawberry icing. I used real candles with flames made from gum paste and added candy eyeballs. 

FNaF cupcake decor

I’ve not seen or played this game–or heard of it before I got this request–so I relied on the good ol’ internet. As I saw many images of Chica’s Cupcake with a blue and white candle, that is what I used. The birthday boy later told me it was supposed to be yellow. Oh well… One party goer let me know that I got the cupcake “mostly right,” and I was happy with that!

FNaF Birthday Boy

Happy birthday to this guy! That makes nine cupcakes for nine years. Remember this?

Rainbow Bakes by Mima Sinclair
Rainbow Bakes
Mima Sinclair
Kyle Books (April 2017)

I was delighted to receive a copy of Mima Sinclair’s Rainbow Bakes. It is a beautifully shot, fun cookbook full of all sweets RAINBOW. If you or a little one you know is rainbow-obsessed, you need this for your baking book collection.

Sinclair’s treats range from full-sized cakes to cake in a jar and include cookies and candies, too. Rainbow Bakes not only has recipes but also offers tips and techniques on types of food coloring and sprinkles for different situations. Beware, not all sprinkles can withstand the baking process, so study up, confetti bakers!

Though there are many tempting recipes, I just had to try my hand at her Over the Rainbow Cupcakes.

Baking Rainbow Cupcakes

These cupcakes take a little work, as you must divide the batter and use food-coloring gel to make purple, blue, green, yellow, orange and red. You must then carefully fill the cupcake liners color by color, spreading each to make a distinct color layer.

Rainbow Cake Batter

Rainbow Cupcakes in progressThe cupcakes were good, I liked that they were not too sweet. They did come out a little salty to my taste. That may be to balance the sweet marshmallow frosting. (Yum!) If I bake these again–not sure I have the patience, though they certainly did impress!–I would use a little less salt.

Rainbow Cupcake
The layers can’t be perfect, and the batter moves around some when baking, but the result is striking!

The frosting with marshmallow fluff tastes delightful and has that fluffy cloud look. Top these off with Rainbow Fizzy Belt candies. (Thank you to my husband for the emergency run to It’s Sugar.)

Overall, these were very fun to bake, give and eat! I look forward to trying some of the other recipes next time I am in the mood for something colorful.

I received a complimentary copy of Rainbow Bakes by Mima Sinclair for review. For more information about this book, please visit the Kyle Books website.

A satisfied customer requested Minecraft cupcakes for his birthday the second year in a row. I had made Creepers last year, so this time I tried my hand at Skeleton and Enderman cupcake toppers.

Minecraft Cupcakes

I again used gum paste and the same general method as the 2015 versions. One change, I bought 1 cm graph paper, so I did not have to draw a grid. I simply taped my graph paper beneath parchment. I rolled out and cut 5×5 squares, scoring them lightly for the bases.

Underman Cupcakes - Minecraft

The Enderman toppers were a little tricky, as I needed a 1/2 square on each side of the eyes. I did my best, but did not go to the extent of measuring millimeter by millimeter.

Skeleton Cupcakes - Minecraft

The Skeletons were easier, just a lot more squares! Plus, I had help from the birthday boy’s mom.

Happy Birthday, Creeper

Candied Lemon Cupcakes

In 2007, I wrote a post about Harry Potter and mentioned my current fantasy favorite as George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. I noted that “I won’t run into too many people reading it on the subway.” Boy, was I wrong about that! Little did I know that these books would become a hugely successful HBO series. Almost everyone is familiar with Game of Thrones now, even if they do not watch the show.

I watch with some friends, and we tend to wait to view 2-3 at a time after the premier. I haven’t seen Episode 2 of Season 6 yet, please don’t tell me the Big Things that happened! I can tell this will be a tough season to delay watching.

Last year, I baked a castle cake for the premier. This time, I decided to make a version of the go-to Game of Thrones dessert, the lemon cakes Sansa Stark adores. Sadly, she has not gotten to enjoy any lately.

There are a lot of recipes out there for this Westeros treat. (If you are a fan of the series, you should check out Inn at the Crossroads.) My interpretation of a lemon cake is a lemon cupcake with a candied lemon on top. Since I have a tried and true Lemon Cupcake recipe, I didn’t mess around trying any others.

Lemon Cupcakes with Candied Lemon

To prepare the lemons, I cut them into 1/8″-1/4″ inch slices and removed the seeds. I tried to use a mandoline, but it did not work well for me. The blade caught on the rind—possibly a problem with my technique or the mandoline itself—squeezing the fruit too much before slicing. I had better luck carefully cutting with a knife.

I cut enough to get 12 complete rings of similar size, keeping the smaller ends of the lemons for juicing. I blanched in boiling water for 1 minute, then chilled in ice water. I dissolved 2 cups of sugar in 1 cup of water in a large pan, brought it to a simmer, then added the lemon slices in one layer. They simmered for an hour before I took them out to cool and harden on a wire rack.

I did not let the lemon slices dry completely before I put them on top of my cupcakes, so they would stick to the cakes. They remained moist, which was fine for my purposes. For real candied lemons, let them dry overnight.

I removed the cupcake liners before serving. I don’t think they have such things in the Seven Kingdoms!

Lemon Cakes from Game of Thrones

Recipe: Lemon Cupcakes

Makes 14 cupcakes

1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter
4 oz. cream cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 extra large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.

Cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar at medium speed, then reduce to low. Add the eggs one at a time, then add the lemon juice and vanilla extract.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the lemon zest to the flour mixture. Incorporate the dry ingredients gradually into the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined.

Scoop batter into lined muffin tins with an ice cream scoop or the method of your choice (about 3/4 full). Bake for a total of 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean, rotating pans halfway through.

Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan. Once cupcakes are room temperature, frost or dust with powdered sugar. (Lemon, raspberry or other fruit-flavored icings are all good choices, or get fancy with a candied lemon!)