Chocolate Butter Cream Ganache

Oh yeah, baby! Chocolate. This will be a very short blog post, as there is only so much you can say about a simple little cake like this. Double chocolate chip cake filled and iced with whipped all-butter chocolate buttercream and then covered in ganache and decorated in whipped ganache. Even the piping (writing) is ganache. This is my little girl’s favorite cake flavor (she loves ganache) and she literally whimpered when this cake left us. Lucky for her, we’ll be doing her birthday cake in about 4 weeks!  Woo! 

If you like the cake board on this cake, check out the tutorial for using scrapbook paper to cover a cake board found HERE.

Oven’s on – I’ll be back soon!

~ Peggy

Cake Update! Parker’s Circus Cake!

Parker is an old “regular” of mine. I made her Dora cake last year and was excited to do her circus-themed cake this year, when she turned the big OH FOUR. 04. Yes, for half of her life, I have been making Parker’s birthday cake. Woo!

Man, this cake was way harder than I had anticipated. Trying to get that concave look in the “big top” nearly did me in. I had to stack A LOT of cakes, and ended up carving most of it away. Oh the waste. Oh the carnage! 

Parker’s cake was WASC (white almond sour cream) with vanilla bean ABC (American butter cream) filling and icing. I smoothed it using the viva method (read all about ABC and the viva method HERE) and covered it with red fondant stripes, pink fondant borders, and pink buttercream accents. The flag was gum paste (fondant with tylose added) for added stiffness, but it was so hot and humid the day of the party, you would have sworn it was made from wet noodles. Thankfully, it held up, but wow, just barely.

If Parker isn’t the cutest thing, I don’t know who is. Look at this little face just beaming, and then tell me that this isn’t the BEST part of making a cake. I could just squeeze her!
Her mom, my good friend, Amanda, has an amazing knack for putting things together and is always just blowing the roof off with her party plans. Read more about her HERE, and if you’re local to the Jackson/Brandon, MS area, check out her sweetest “Little Occasions” party rental HERE or on Facebook HERE.

Happy birthday, sweet Parker!

Oven’s on – I’ll be back soon!

~ Peggy

Recipe: Crusting American Buttercream Icing

For me, 2012 has been the year of SMBC (Swiss meringue buttercream). In fact, you can read all about that HERE. I’ve just recently met SMBC and fallen madly in love with it – but I must confess: love affair or not, I still couldn’t live without my trusty ol’ crusting American buttercream.Very different tastes, very different textures, very different techniques – but each has its place in my cake world. I know ABC is an enigma to many, so let’s break it down!

American Buttercream – Decorator’s Recipe
(Perfect for frosting and decorating)
(See “All-butter” recipe below that’s perfect for filling)



1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter (4 ounces/112 grams)
3 sticks (1.5 cup) shortening
1 two-pound bag of confectioner’s sugar
1/8 cup water
1/8 cup liquid* from list below (more can be added for desired consistency)
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract


Step 1: Cream butter and shortening well, until white and fluffy. Add 1/8 cup water, mix.
Step 2: Add sugar all at once and mix on low. Be sure to cover your mixing bowl with a lid. I then cover the lid with a clean, dampened towel. You may also want to use a raincoat, Avenger’s shield, and giant beach umbrella, as you will have a bit of sugar storm.
Step 3: Mix on low and add more liquid as necessary to attain desired consistency. Scrape sides, mix again. Add extracts.
Step 4: Mix on medium-high for a quick minute until well blended.

Don’t incorporate too much air by overmixing or your icing won’t be silky smooth.

If you triple this recipe, you’ll have a VERY full bowl, but your icing level will be above your paddle attachment and if you mix on high until all visible air bubbles are eliminated, you’ll be creating the smoothest, most perfect buttercream ever. When making a triple batch, it’s not only fine, but preferred, to mix on HIGH.

See the Youtube video by Sharon Zambito on how she makes her buttercream HERE for more information on this “air removing” technique. Although my icing recipe is completely different than Sharon’s, I use her exact technique. I use it because it’s brilliant and can’t be beat. Ha! No pun intended.
I always try to triple this icing recipe whenever possible for this very reason – a big, full bowl of icing means no air – and that means the most beautiful, smooth consistency you can imagine from a crusting ABC.
This icing is perfect for smoothing via the Viva method, found HERE. Here’s a photo of an undressed (indecent!) cake finished with this exact recipe (the shortening/butter version) and smoothed using the Viva method.

American Buttercream – All Butter Recipe
(Perfect for filling)

2 sticks of salted butter (8 ounces/225 grams)
2 sticks of unsalted butter (8 ounces/225 grams)
1 two-pound bag of confectioner’s sugar
1/8 cup water
1/8 cup liquid* from list below (more can be added for desired consistency)
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract

Ideas for liquid options:

  • Water
  • Skim milk
  • 1% milk
  • 2% milk
  • Whole milk
  • Half and half
  • Heavy whipping cream (my favorite!!)
  • Flavored liquid coffee creamers (I’m partial to the French vanilla and hazelnut, but don’t bother with the sugar free, as they leave a bit of after taste in the icing
  • Extracts beyond or instead of vanilla and almond
  • Fresh squeezed fruit juice
  • Coffee
  • Anything else you’re brave enough to try; I think I’ve tried it all!

If you try it, give me a shout and let me know how it worked for you.

Oven’s on – I’ll be back soon!

~ Peggy