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Vanilla Buttercream

I’ve come to realize that there is a simple, basic frosting recipe that is missing from my blog.  Sure, I’ve got recipes for white, cream cheese, chocolate, chocolate cream cheese, egg white chocolate, cherry chocolate, chocolate fudge, caramel, whipped caramel ganache, peanut butter, Oreo, raspberry, and lemon frostings (phew!), but no vanilla.

With as much cake as I obviously make, you may well be wondering why in the world I haven’t shared a basic vanilla buttercream recipe with you yet.  And the truth is, I haven’t posted one because before last week, I’d never made it.  Not once.  Seriously!

I prefer cream cheese frosting for most cakes, so I never needed to make something so simple as a basic vanilla frosting.  Until I started making my nephew’s 6th birthday cake and realized (*gasp*) I was out of cream cheese.  But as soon as I realized it, I was excited to make a new frosting, even if it was such a basic no-frills attached kind of buttercream.

If you don’t like cream cheese frosting, and your cake doesn’t have to be perfectly white, this is the one for you.  I based the recipe off of my celebration (white) frosting recipe and prefer it MUCH more because, come on, it’s made with real butter.  The only downside, which won’t matter in most cases, is that it is ivory colored, even if you use clear vanilla, because butter has a soft yellow hue.  This does affect the resulting color of your buttercream when you add icing colors to it, lending them warmth rather than the pure color advertised on the bottle.  My Mom once made a baby shower cake with real buttercream rather than white frosting and the pink turned out peach.  It was OK, but if the color scheme is very important to your cake, you should stick with the white celebration frosting recipe.

If you want to fancy this up a bit, use vanilla bean paste or scrape out a real vanilla bean in place of the vanilla in the recipe.  I imagine the little black flecks would make your cake so pretty!

Vanilla Buttercream

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 (2 lb.) bag powdered sugar
4 teaspoons real vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
Milk or cream to thin, if desired

Cream the butter with an electric mixer. Add remaining ingredients and beat on low until powdered sugar is moistened, then increase speed to medium and continue to beat for a few minutes longer, until smooth and creamy, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. I don’t thin mine, but if you want yours more creamy, add milk or cream a teaspoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.

*For celebration buttercream, use two teaspoons crème bouquet flavor emulsion and two teaspoons vanilla extract. If you want to keep the color as light as possible, use clear vanilla extract.

Just for fun, here are the cakes I’ve made for Owen through the years.  His first birthday was teddy-bear themed, and his cake was one of the first I ever decorated.  The trouble I had with it inspired me to learn how to decorate cakes so that it wouldn’t be as stressful in future.

His Mom (my youngest sister, Lacey), made his second birthday cake, which is the only one I didn’t make for him.  I guess I was slacking that year!  I thought this was a really cute and simple idea–using cereal to make a picture on top.

Lacey had a Sponge Bob luau for his third birthday, by which time I’d finally taken the basic Wilton cake decorating class.  I used a trick I learned in the class to transfer a picture from the internet onto the cake in clear gel so I could trace over it with colored icing.

We went to the zoo for Owen’s 4th birthday so I gave his cake a zoo theme, cheating with some plastic toys and animal crackers.

He requested a “monster” party for his 5th birthday, and I had no idea how to make a monster cake so I asked him how he imagined his cake.  I made it exactly how he described it, which was a lot simpler than I would have done if left to my own devices, and he loved it!

This year’s dragon cake was the first shaped cake I’ve ever done.  Using that flat frosting tip pictured above really eased the frosting process–all I had to do was squirt and smooth.  (I actually use that tip for all my cakes, but it was especially handy frosting an uneven surface.)  Although I don’t enjoy decorating and do it only because I enjoy baking cakes and people, for some strange reason, expect birthday cakes to be decorated, I’m kind of excited to make future shaped cakes now that I know I can do it.  It was a lot easier than I thought!  I used the tutorial for the cake on Instructbables.  Creating an account is free, and if you make one, you can view each full-size step-by-step photo, which helped me a lot.

Update: Here’s his 7th birthday cake:


Vegan White Chocolate

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I have a confession to make.  I didn’t use vegan white chocolate on my Cinnabon Caramel Corn, despite my recipe calling for it.  It was my practice batch and since I was making it with things I had on hand, I used regular white baking chips.  I assumed finding vegan white chocolate would be simple and I could go out and buy it when it was time to make the real batch to ship to the winner.  Well, a friend of mine asked me where I got my vegan white chocolate because she had not been able to find any in Wichita so I called all the health food stores and none of them sold it.  I was shocked!  Apparently this stuff is harder to find than I assumed.

To remedy the situation and make sure I had some vegan white chocolate on hand when I needed it for the 100% vegan batch of Cinnabon Caramel Corn next week, I set out to make it from scratch.  And I’m happy to report that it is a smashing success.  Yowza, this stuff is good!  The cost of the coca butter makes it a little pricey, but when you need some vegan white chocolate, you need some vegan white chocolate, and we’re not going to let a $8 jar of cocoa butter hold us back, now are we?

Vegan White Chocolate

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 teaspoons soy milk powder (I used raw coconut flour with good results)
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 1/4 ounces food grade cocoa butter
1 vanilla bean (optional)

Measure the powdered sugar, soy milk powder, and salt into a sifter and sift into a bowl; set aside. Measure the cocoa butter into a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave for one minute; stir. Continue microwaving in 30-second intervals, stirring very well in between, until the cocoa butter is melted. If using the vanilla bean, scrape the seeds from the pod and whisk into the melted cocoa butter. Next, quickly whisk the dry ingredients into the cocoa butter until completely smooth. Pour into a chocolate mold (I used an 8-ounce candy bar mold).  If you don’t have a mold, paper cups or silicon bakeware will do in a pinch.  Gently tap the mold on the counter top a few times to release any excess air bubbles.  Allow to sit at room temperature for half an hour before placing in refrigerator to fully harden.  Pop the chocolate out of the mold and enjoy.  Store any leftovers (yeah, right!) in an airtight container.

Veronica’s notes: I read many first-hand reports of vanilla extract causing homemade white chocolate to curdle and become a vile consistency, so I chose to play it safe with vanilla bean seeds instead.  If you would like to try using extract or vanilla bean paste, consider yourself warned.  And please let me know if you try it and have success! UPDATE: I have now tried adding vanilla extract and have confirmed that it does indeed ruin the texture. Please do not try it.

Makes 8 ounces.

Recipe source: barely tweaked from It’s a Greyt Vegan Life

Fancy Applesauce & A Giveaway!

~This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Amanda, the lucky winner!

There is a shop in Wichita called The Spice Merchant that, until recently, I had never ventured into.  Now that I have, I’m slightly dismayed that it took me so long, but I’m very happy that I now have access to premium spices & products that I have been trying to find for years!  I snapped up some Vietnamese cinnamon that was so fragrant, it almost smelled hot like cinnamon oil.  I added whole nutmegs to my basket, saffron, vanilla beans, smoked paprika, fenugreek…I couldn’t stop marveling at all the things they had that I previously could only find online.

When I got home, I got to work making applesauce with 6 pounds of the apples a friend gave me from her tree.  I decided I had to add some of my newly purchased spices and the end result was the best applesauce I’ve ever had!  I usually despise applesauce except as an ingredient in baked goods, but I found this fancy stuff so tasty that I’m actually eating the last of it as I type this post–all six pounds gone!

*Moment of silence to observe the dearly departed fancy applesauce.*

To celebrate my first blogoversary, I purchased more of the same ingredients I used in the applesauce to give away to you!  If you like to bake, these will come in really handy this holiday season.

To enter to win 2 ounces of Vietnamese cinnamon, 4 Tahitian Papua New Guinea vanilla beans, and 8 whole nutmegs, simply leave a comment on this post.  I will draw a winner from the comments using on Black Friday.

Fancy Applesauce

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

6 pounds apples
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons Vietnamese cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 vanilla bean
1 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Peel, core and slice the apples.  Put in an extra-large bowl.  In a small bowl, mix the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean and stir into the sugar mixture.  Pour over the apples and mix until coated.  Dump into a 6-quart crockpot.  Combine the apple cider and lemon juice and pour over the apples.  Cover and cook on high for 4 hours; mash with a potato masher (will be chunky—to make smooth use a blender) and add additional sugar and spices to taste.

Recipe by Veronica Miller

Linked with Around My Family Table for BSI: vanilla

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