Minecraft Enderman Cake

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An Enderman is a character in a video game called Minecraft. My son and his friends LOVE Minecraft. It is the “LEGO” of the video game world, building worlds, etc. I think that my son is drawn to the Enderman character in particular because it has the ability to teleport in order to avoid danger- how cool! 🙂

My son- who was also an Enderman for Halloween this year- requested an Enderman cake for his 9th birthday party at Lazerland! (For those of you without a young boy in your household Lazerland is Laser tag.) I realized that this cake could have used an additional layer to make it more “Enderman-esque” (more of a cube) but I didn’t have a large enough crowd to warrant a 4-layer cake. I made two layers of Classic Yellow Cake (almost a pound cake- my son’s favorite) with a “Busy Day Chocolate Cake” in-between. I had to weigh the batter in order to split in in half (weight below) because I only have one 9-inch square pan. I used vanilla buttercream as the filling between the layers (twice the recipe), and chocolate frosting on the outside- because an Enderman is black (close enough…). The chocolate frosting was very fudge-like and decadent. The cake was HUGE and delicious.

I made the eyes when making our family’s traditional Number Cookies, sugar cookies cut into the number of the birthday being celebrated.  I didn’t need my number “9” cookie cutter to make Number Cookies for my son’s birthday this year– he decided he wanted Roman numerals!! 🙂 We gave the cookies to our birthday party guests with an explanation: IX = 9! 🙂 He is a character.

For the Classic Yellow Cake: 

Recipe from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen

Yield: Makes 2 layers or 2 square cakes (each half of the batter weighs 2 lbs 8.5 oz)

  • 4 1/4 cups (530 g) cake flour
  • 1 T plus 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 cups (560 ml) milk
  • 1 1/2 T vanilla extract
  • 20 T (2 1/2 sticks / 315 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups (625 g) granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  1. Have all the ingredients at room temperature.
  2. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour the 9-inch square cake pan(s).
  3. To make the cake, over a sheet of waxed paper, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the milk and vanilla; set aside.
  5. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk mixture beginning and ending with the flour. Beat each addition until just incorporated, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  6. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan(s) and spread the batter evenly. Bake until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the enter comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Transfer the pan(s) to a wire rack and let cool completely.

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For the Chocolate Frosting:

Recipe from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen

  • 8 oz (250 g) unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped (I used Trader Joe’s 72% cacao dark chocolate)
  • 1 1/3 cups (345 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups (375 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  1. To make the frosting, in a heatproof bowl set over but not touching simmering water in a saucepan, melt the chocolate; let cool to room temperature.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until smooth, creamy and slightly fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the melted chocolate, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl to evenly distribute the chocolate.

To Frost the Cake:

  1. Place one Yellow Cake layer, top side down, on a serving plate. (I place pieces or parchment paper around the edge of the cake to keep the serving plate clean.) Using an icing spatula or a knife, spread half of the vanilla buttercream frosting evenly on top. (The recipe was doubled.)
  2. Place the “Busy Day Chocolate Cake” on top. Spread the other half of the vanilla buttercream evenly over the top.
  3. Place the final Yellow Cake layer on top, top side down. Spread the chocolate frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Remove the protective parchment paper, if using.
  4. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes before serving to set the frosting. (I refrigerated the cake overnight.)

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One Year Ago:

Butterbeer Cupcakes

My son was blessed with a snow day on his 13th birthday! We were able to load him up with his favorite meals all day long. 🙂

After having Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins for breakfast, some sort of meaty concoction involving kielbasa, sliced sourdough baguette, melted cheese and garlic powder prepared by my husband for lunch, and his ultimate favorite, Thai One-Pot, for dinner, we topped off the day with these Butterbeer Cupcakes. ❤

He is such a Harry Potter fan; he has read the series over fourteen times, now losing count. After visiting both Harry Potter Worlds at Universal Studios in Orlando, he is a HUGE butter beer fan as well. (We tried every version available. 🙂 )

This recipe is from PastryAffair.com, adapted from Amy Bites. I added cream to the frosting and halved the ganache recipe. I halved the recipe below with success; I weighed one beaten egg to use “half” of an egg.

I can’t believe that I have a teenager in my house! So sad to make “13” Number Cookies

Yield: 18 cupcakes

For the Butterbeer Cupcakes:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • generous pinch of coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon butter flavoring
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup cream soda (I used Dr. Brown’s)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), preferably on convection. Line a cupcake tin with baking cups.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Using a stand mixer, beat together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Beat in the vanilla extract and butter flavoring.
  6. With the mixer on low, add 1/3 of the flour mixture, then the buttermilk, 1/3 of the flour mixture, cream soda, and then the remaining flour. Mix just until incorporated. Do not over mix!
  7. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full and bake for 15 minutes one tin at a time, or 16 minutes for 2 trays (rotating halfway through baking), or until the cupcakes are golden and spring back when touched.
  8. Cool completely before frosting.

For the Butterscotch Ganache:

  • 5.5 ounces (1/2 package) butterscotch chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  1. In a small saucepan on medium heat, melt the butterscotch chips into the heavy cream, stirring until smooth.
  2. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature before using.

For the Butterscotch Buttercream:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup butterscotch ganache (recipe above)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon butter flavoring
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-4 T heavy cream (as needed)
  1. Using a stand mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Mix in the butterscotch ganache, vanilla, butter flavoring, and salt.
  3. Beat in the powdered sugar for 2 to 3 minutes, until incorporated.
  4. Add the cream a tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is achieved (I used 4 tablespoons).
  5. Beat until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.

To Assemble:

  1. Pour butterscotch ganache into a plastic squeeze bottle. Stab the tip of the bottle into each cupcake, completely immersing the tip, and fill with butterscotch ganache until it starts to overflow.
  2. Fill a pastry bag with butterscotch buttercream and pipe onto the top of each cupcake.
  3. Drizzle on the butterscotch ganache, as desired.

Notes:

  • If you have any leftover butterscotch ganache, it can be used as ice cream topping.
  • Store cupcakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.

I’m sharing my birthday treats at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #207 this week, co-hosted by my friends Judi @Cooking with Aunt Juju and Lily @Little Sweet Baker. I also brought these cupcakes to What’s for Dinner Sunday! Enjoy! 🙂

One Year Ago: Crème Brûlée

Two Years Ago: Eleventh Birthday Longboard Cake!

Three Years Ago: Black Hole Birthday Cake

Four Years Ago: Minecraft Enderman Cake

Five Years Ago: Birthday Cake Gallery

Eleventh Birthday Longboard Cake! (Yellow Cake with Chocolate Icing)

The number one gift on my son’s Christmas wish list was a longboard. He learned how to ride one with his friends at the beach this summer and has been desperate for one ever since. My husband & I let Santa know that WE wanted to give it to him! The designs on these longboards are really works of art. I cannot even begin to tell you how long we searched for the perfect one for our special gift. We fell in love with the giant squid eating a lighthouse!! Isn’t it cool? 😉

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So, of course, I tried to recreate this design on his 11th birthday longboard cake. (It’s pretty close considering I recreated the design with cookies and m&m’s!)

The second special thing I must share about this cake is where I got the amazing recipe. One of my friends gave me a very special- out of print- cookbook for Christmas. She has a copy and I had been desperate for my own. It is loaded with gold standard recipes for classic baked goods. The author’s shop is now known as Tate’s Bake Shop in Southampton, New York. What a sweet friend! ❤ I love it!!

The cake and icing recipes were adapted from Kathleen’s Bake Shop Cookbook: The Best Recipes from Southampton’s Favorite Bakery for Homestyle Cookies, Cakes, Pies, Muffins, and Breads by Kathleen King. I used unsalted butter and coarse salt. I also baked the cake in a convection oven. I made the squid, house, and axles with my birthday Number Cookie recipe. If you have been following my blog, you can guess that my son wanted Roman numeral “11’s” (XI’s) this year! 🙂

For the Yellow Cake:

Yield: Makes one 9-inch 2-layer cake (or 1 longboard cake)

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • chocolate icing (recipe below)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Grease and flour pans of choice, two 9-inch round cake pans for a layer cake or one Pullman loaf pan, one mini loaf pan, and 4 cupcake tins for a longboard cake.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In another large bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  4. Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  5. Beat in vanilla.
  6. Add dry ingredients alternately with the sour cream, ending with the dry ingredients.
  7. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Fold egg whites into cake batter, and pour into the prepared pans.
  8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  9. Remove pans to a wire rack. Cool 10 minutes before removing cake from pans; finish cooling on a rack.

For the Chocolate Icing:

Yield: 3 1/2 cups (enough to ice a 9-inch layer cake or 1 longboard cake)

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup milk (I used 1 percent)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Confectioners’ sugar
  1. Melt butter and chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler.
  2. Stir in milk; add vanilla.
  3. Stir in sugar.
  4. Place mixture in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  5. Chill mixture for 45 minutes, then beat with an electric mixer every 15 minutes (chilling mixture between beatings) until it becomes light and thick enough to spread. (This will take three or four beatings.)

I’m bringing this one to share with my friends at Fiesta Friday #103 this week hosted by Sonal @Simply Vegetarian777 and Petra @Food Eat Love. Enjoy!!

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Black Hole Birthday Cake

I am terrified by the concept of a black hole. Massive collapsing stars with such a strong gravitational pull they are swallowing up surrounding stars out there in the galaxy. It makes me feel like such a little helpless speck on this Earth…. On the other hand, my now 10-year-old son loves thinking about the concept of a black hole- completely fascinating (but still scary!) for him. 🙂 He has such an interest in astronomy and things greater than we are here on our little planet.

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I am also frightened to have four 9-year-old boys sleepover at my house! Well, I recently had to conquer these fears in order to celebrate my son’s birthday. All he wished for was a black hole birthday cake and a sleepover party. We all survived! (The cake was tasty- not scary- and we had fun!) 🙂

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This vanilla bean bundt cake recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, via Sweetapolita. The original recipe calls for lemon extract in the cake batter as well as a vanilla bean glaze over the top of the cake. I omitted the lemon extract because of my son’s preference for a pure vanilla cake. (Personally, I think it would have been tastier to include it!) After a bit of a struggle about how to create a black hole out of a vanilla cake, I replaced the vanilla glaze with a dark chocolate ganache in order to make the black hole “black“! The ganache was delicious, but I included the recipe for the vanilla bean glaze below because it sounds like a lovely alternative. The dark chocolate ganache recipe was adapted from Food and Wine. I melted the chocolate over a double boiler until it was completely smooth before drizzling. OR…Forget the glazes- this cake would be just as delicious simply dusted with confectioners’ sugar. I love how a simple dusting lets the beautiful shape of the cake steal the show.

I can’t believe my son is TEN!!! 😦 (For the second year in a row, he requested that his Birthday “Number Cookies” be Roman Numerals!)

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For the Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake:

  • 3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon (4 g) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 g) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon (4 g) salt
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (2-1/4 sticks)(255 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1-3/4 cups (350 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 vanilla beans, halved lengthwise or 2 tablespoons (30 ml) vanilla bean paste
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) pure lemon extract, optional but recommended
  • 1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk, at room temperature

For the Vanilla Bean Glaze:

  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped or 1 tablespoon 915 ml) vanilla bean paste
  • 2-3 tablespoons (30-45 ml) whole milk
  • about 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

For the Dark Chocolate Ganache Glaze:

  • 3 oz dark bittersweet chocolate,  finely chopped/shaved  (I used 72% cacao dark chocolate)
  • 1/2 T corn syrup
  • 1/2 T unsalted butter
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • 5 T heavy cream

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For the Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (convection) with rack in middle. Generously butter pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess.
  2. Weigh and then whisk together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Beat together butter and sugar in an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape seeds from vanilla beans with tip of a paring knife and add into butter mixture, reserving pods for another use, and beat until well combined, about 1 minute.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in lemon extract (if using) until well combined. At low-speed add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture, mixing until just combined.
  5. Pour batter into pan, smoothing and spreading evenly. Gently tap pan on counter to eliminate air bubbles.
  6. Bake until the tip of a knife or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes on convection, or up to one hour in a standard oven. Cool in pan 1 hour, then invert onto a rack and cool completely, about 1 hour more.
  7. Once the cake has cooled, drizzle glaze (vanilla bean glaze OR chocolate ganache glaze OR confectioners’ sugar) over top.

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For the Vanilla Bean Glaze:

  1. Split vanilla bean and scrape seeds into whole milk. Let sit in a spouted container, such as a large pyrex measuring cup, for about an hour.
  2. Add confectioners’ sugar gradually, whisking, until you get desired consistency–about 1 cup.
    You want to make sure that it’s not too runny, or it won’t dry white on the cake, and will run off too quickly. It should take a few seconds to whisk it, and it will feel too thick at first–keep whisking until you get desired thickness. If too thick, add a teaspoon or so of the vanilla milk.

For the Ganache Glaze:

  1. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil.
  2. In a heatproof bowl, combine the remaining 3 ounces of chopped chocolate with the salt, corn syrup, and butter. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let stand until melted, about 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. (At this point, I had to gently continue heating the mixture over a double boiler while constantly mixing until smooth.)
  3. Briefly let the ganache glaze cool until thick but still pourable.
  4. Drizzle the ganache over the cooled cake. Let the cake stand until the glaze is set, at least 30 minutes, before serving.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Crème Brûlée

My son wanted a dessert that he could “light on fire” to celebrate his 12th birthday. I hope that this is age appropriate. 😉

After rejecting my suggestion of Bananas Foster, he chose a classic crème brûlée. andyes, with close supervision, he torched his dessert!

This recipe was adapted from Barefoot in Paris by Ina Garten, via Food Network.com. I used large eggs, Cointreau instead of Grand Marnier, slightly adapted the method and increased the baking time. Special and delicious.

Yield: Makes 6 ramekins/servings

  • 1 large egg
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for each serving
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon orange liqueur (such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier)
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the egg, egg yolks, and 1/2 cup of the sugar together on low-speed until just combined.
  3. Meanwhile, scald the cream in a small saucepan until it’s very hot to the touch but not boiled.
  4. With the mixer on low-speed, slowly add the cream to the eggs. (I transferred the hot cream to a liquid measuring cup to ease adding it into the mixer bowl.)
  5. Add the vanilla and liqueur and pour into 6 to 8-ounce ramekins until almost full.
  6. Place the ramekins in a 9×13 pyrex baking pan (I placed a square silicone pot holder underneath the ramekins so that they didn’t shift in the pan.)
  7. Glide the oven rack out of the oven cavity and place the pan on the rack. Carefully pour boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. (I used a tea kettle.)
  8. Slowly glide rack into the oven and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the custards are set when gently shaken.
  9. Remove the custards from the water bath, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until firm. (I refrigerated them overnight.)
  10. To serve, spread 1 tablespoon of sugar evenly on the top of each ramekin and heat with a kitchen blowtorch until the sugar caramelizes evenly.
  11. Allow to sit at room temperature for a minute until the caramelized sugar hardens.

and…

Of course, it wouldn’t be a birthday in our house without also having Number Cookies. 🙂 I had to make a couple of numeric “12’s” to go along with my son’s Roman Numeral “XII’s”. 🙂 They were swimming pool blue for my swimmer this year. ❤

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Four Years Ago:

If you like this you may also like:

Number Cookies

Before my daughter’s second birthday, my mom gave me alphabet and number cookie cutters.  It started with pink “2” cookies and a new family tradition was born.  I have made them annually ever since. 🙂 We put them in birthday party goodie bags, bring them into school to celebrate, and serve them at birthday parties.  On my mom’s 75th birthday we served purple 75’s to her friends! Fun.

I use the sugar cookie and royal icing recipes from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.  I weigh the flour and the dough is always perfect.  I cut out the shapes, stack them with a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper between each layer, cover, and refrigerate overnight. I also briefly freeze the cut shapes just before baking.  The shape seems to stay more intact.

For the Sugar Cookies:

  • 4 sticks (1 pound) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour (21.25 oz or 1 lb 5.25 oz)
  • colored sanding sugar, or royal icing
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add eggs, vanilla, and salt; mix on medium-high speed until combined.
  3. With mixer on low speed, add flour in two batches, mixing until just incorporated.
  4. Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface.  Divide in half, a pat into flattened rectangles; wrap each in plastic.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 1 week. (I have also had success rolling the warm dough 1/4-inch thick between plastic wrap and parchment prior to placing it in the refrigerator.)
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection, with racks in the upper and lower thirds.  Line large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. On a lightly floured work surface (or between layers of plastic wrap and/or parchment paper), roll out one rectangle of dough to approximately 1/4-inch thickness.
  7. Using cookie cutters, cut out shapes.  Using a small offset spatula, transfer shapes to prepared sheets, placing about 2 inches apart.
  8. Chill in freezer or refrigerator until firm, about 15 minutes (or overnight if in refrigerator).  Set scraps aside.  Repeat the process with remaining rectangle of dough.  Gather all the scraps, and roll out again.  Freeze for 15 minutes; cut out more shapes, and place on sheets.
  9. Decorate cookies with sanding sugar or sprinkles, if using, before baking.
  10. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are golden around the edges and slightly firm to the touch, about 9-12 minutes on convection.
  11. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.  Decorate with royal icing, if using. (recipe below)
  12. Top icing with sanding sugar or sprinkles, if using.

Note: Cookies can be kept in an airtight container, layered between sheets of waxed paper or parchment paper, at room temperature for up to 3 days.  Makes about 3 dozen.

For the Royal Icing:

  • 1 pound confectioners sugar
  • 5 T meringue powder
  • liquid or gel-paste food coloring
  • sanding sugar or sprinkles, as desired
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugar, meringue powder, and a scant 1/2 cup water on low speed.  Beat until mixture is fluffy yet dense, 7 to 8 minutes.
  2. To thin the icing for flooding (filling in areas with additional icing), stir in additional water, 1 teaspoon at a time.  Test the consistency by lifting a spoonful of icing and letting it drip back into the bowl; a ribbon should remain on the surface for 5 to 7 seconds.
  3. To tint icing, dip a toothpick or wooden skewer into food coloring, and gradually mix it in until the desired shade is reached.
  4. Decorate with sanding sugar or sprinkles before the icing has set, if desired.

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