Sporty Forty + The Snack Stadium

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garfield-dairy-queen-cake

So what does one do when they are approaching the ripe and refined age of 40? How about HAVE A CHILDREN’S STYLE BIRTHDAY PARTY!????? Yeah. I turned 40 on November 15th! An age I was anticipating with both fascination and dread. For months I was hemming and hawing over what to do. My first idea was to have a ginormous 100+ person bash at our house, catered by a taco truck with the theme “Fruity Forty” and everyone would wear bright colours and I’d make a bunch of cakes that looked like fruit. Then, my second idea was to bury myself in blankets and cry and not want to do anything because 40 just sounded so OLD to me. Then, my third idea was to slap myself and remember that I could have easily not even lived to be 40. Then, my fourth idea was to think: “What do I actually even like doing right now??”

The answer:

1. I like basketball

2. I like playing the drums

3. I like karaoke

So I decided to fuggedabout having a fancy-ass party. No expensive new dress, champagne and canapés here. Instead, a homemade SNACK STADIUM, a Dairy Queen Garfield ice cream sheet cake (!!!) and some of my dearest friends and family running around like 5 year olds in a gym.

sport-forty-birthday-party_

Once the theme of Sporty Forty was established, it made perfect sense that this would be the moment in time by which I would finally make my own SNACK STADIUM. There are many examples of these on the interweb – slabs of meat-filled sandwiches stacked high around a guacamole field center; brand-name logos and trays of taco fixings. We based our snack stadium on a mix of this tray-based one and the cuteness factor of this foamboard non-guacamole-field one.

snack-stadium-DIY

A trip to the dollar store around the corner yielded these amazing brightly coloured sheets of foamboard for $2.25 each. I also picked up a few $1.25 packages of aluminum mini loaf pans in two sizes. Gather together a pencil, a utility knife/box cutter and a glue gun too. Rich traced the loaf pans onto the foam board and used the utility knife to cut out the shapes. He then cut brackets out of the foam board to elevate it into “stadium stands.”

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While Rich was constructing the stands, I worked on the washi tape pennant garlands – fold washi tape over baker’s twine, then trim the tape into the pennant flag shape with sharp scissors!

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I used these block letter stickers to add a clean typographic element!

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I wasn’t too keen on a guacamole field, for fear of it turning brown and looking icky – luckily I found this bright green foam board which acted as the base for the stadium. We added strips of white paper (not very accurate at all, oops!) and I cut out a little brown football to place in the middle because … sports????

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I loved the scoreboard – Rich’s idea to make the score 4-0. Heh heh. The HOME and AWAY are stickers I found at a craft superstore. I just have a collection of this stuff lying around as I’m a craft and typography hoarder. You could totally draw the letters/numbers too but I love the clean look of the letter stickers/stamps.

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Annnnnd I drew this MASCOT. GO BEAVERS! Hehe. To add a little more sporty flair to the snack stadium.

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Sung Stadium!!! Customized!!

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And the stadium filled with snacks!! The stadium was kinda pretty much more for show – we had bowls of other snacks and food beside this guy. It’s almost like it fits just enough snacks for 2 actual people to munch on.

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I used Crush because they had the cutest cans and colours. Duh.

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I added my late grandfather’s old golf trophy too… because I thought it gave it a nice aesthetic and also golf + football = MAKES SENSE??

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sport-forty-birthday-party-group

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BEST SISTERS!!

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Hehe! FUN. Extra special props to my cousin Mike (and his little guy H) who drove up from Seattle to surprise me, just for the party!

sporty-forty

I also wore my actual jacket from grade 9 and I got the green basketball jersey from a vintage shop. Pardon the VERY SWEATY look here – we really did play sports! I’m so glad I followed my gut (literally and figuratively) and went for the sports party. It was such a blast. (Special thanks to RT and my sisters for all your help!) 40 is a piece o’ sh*t! Not really! xo Lyndsay 

Asian Bowl Cut Sugar Cookies

Asian Bowl Cut Sugar Cookies - Coco Cake Land

Asian Bowl Cut Sugar Cookies - Coco Cake Land

I made these Asian bowl cut sugar cookies for Cynthia, to celebrate the birth of her INSANELY CUTE new little baby boy. Why?? Because every Asian has a picture of themselves as a kid with some variation of an Asian bowl cut… because, stick-straight shiny black hair makes the most beautiful, perfect no-fuss bowl cut …snip snip… hehe. Cynthia, you know Luke will be rocking one of these cuts in a few years while he’s wearing a mini tuxedo playing the piano like the Asian prodigy he will be!!

kawaii sugar cookies - Coco Cake Land

To make these smiley faced Asian bowl cut cookies:

1. Bake this sugar cookies recipe using a round circle cookie cutter.

2. Let cookies cool completely; frost cookies with a very thin, smooth layer of your favourite buttercream recipe or canned frosting.

3. Colour a small amount of white fondant with “copper/skin tone” gel food colouring, or whichever skin shade you want to make them. Colour a small amount of white fondant with black gel food colouring, or pre-purchase a small container of black fondant. Roll out the “skin” fondant to 1/8 inch thickness; using the same round cookie cutter, punch out circles. Gently place fondant circles on top of frosted cookies and press lightly into frosting to adhere.

4.Next, roll out the black fondant to 1/8 inch thickness; using the same round cookie cutter, punch out circles. Using a sharp knife, cut the black circles in two to create the bowl cut hairstyle. Using a small amount of frosting, stick the black hair onto the fondant face.

5. Finally, create by hand eye and mouth shapes by making tiny black fondant balls and pressing down lightly to create flatter circles. Alternately, cut out the shapes using the tips of open circle piping tips to punch out mini circles. Adhere with a toothpick’s tip amount of frosting or a teensy amount of water.

*Simple faces inspired by my mobile by Becky Brisco!

kawaii sugar cookies - Coco Cake Land

I have adored Cynthia for years now. Not only because she is an incredibly talented photographer and writer and maker of crazy-good-looking food - but because she has become a dear friend, like a cherished childhood pen pal, a woman who when I receive an email from her, or a comment on my blog, (or even a package in the mail to cheer me up with RAINBOW SPRINKLE BROWNIES!) – her thoughtfulness, intelligence, sweetness and sense of humour just radiates, and I always say out loud – “DAMN, THAT CYNTHIA IS SO NICE! I JUST LOVE HER!” Cynthia, I am so pumped for you on the arrival of your lil boo! SO much beautiful, crazy, insane-making, poo-filled, drooly, love-explosive and hilarious goodness ahead. He will change your life in ways you never knew, as I know he already has in just his first few days! What a guy! So much love to you, mama! xo Lyndsay 

Lookie! All of the epic #threeredbowls blog posts by some seriously talented folks (thank you Steph and Alana for hosting!):

I Am A Food Blog | Mac and Kimcheese Dolsot Bibim-mac
Fix Feast Flair | Dishoom’s Chicken Ruby Murray
The Fauxmartha | Mom Lunches
A Cozy Kitchen | Cornbread Chicken + Dumplings
Cake Over Steak | Salted Caramel Chocolate Crackles
The Pancake Princess | Stovetop Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Snixy Kitchen | Chicken Pot Pie with Chestnut Biscuits
Lady and Pups | Egg Florentine in Pullman “Bowls”
Betty Liu | Honeynut Squash Congee
Style Sweet CA | Date Bourbon Cinnamon Rolls 
Warm Vanilla Sugar | Broccoli Quinoa Bowl with Avocado Sauce
A Beautiful Plate | Coconut Cauliflower Soup
Girl Versus Dough | Tomato Grilled Cheese Soup
Fork to Belly | A HUGE Hawaiian Fruit Bowl!!!
Donny Tsang | Chawanmushi
Wit & Vinegar | Jerk Chicken Chili
Constellation Inspiration | Salted Egg Yolk Custard Mochi
twigg studios | Katsu Udon Soup wth Popcorn Chicken Croutons
Edible Perspective | Acorn Squash Bowls with Pears, Pecans, and Vanilla Bean Cream
Coco Cake Land | Asian Bowl Cut Sugar Cookies
Southern Souffle | Sorghum Apple Biscuits In A Bowl
The Bojon Gourmet | Smoky Sweet Potato & Lentil Tortilla Soup
Flourishing Foodie | Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Soup 
What should I eat for breakfast today | Little Bowl with Creamy Polenta, Cheese, Onions and Mushrooms
Top with Cinnamon | Squash & Crispy Kale Bowls with Pomegranate and Miso-Ginger Dressing
the broken bread | Roasted Celeriac + Fennel Soup
Fig+Bleu | Cauliflower Harissa Soup
my name is yeh | Corn Dog In A Bowl
Crepes of Wrath | Mini Scallion Pancake Challah Buns
O&O Eats | Persimmon Cobbler
Chocolate + Marrow | Parsnip + Potato Soup with Crispy Pancetta
With Food + Love | Caramelized Golden Beet Soup with Fall Roots + Garlicky Yogurt
The Pig and Quill | Slow Cooker Pumpkin Curry Beef Stew
Hungry Girl Por Vida | Rice Cooker Oats with Brûléed Bananas

Totoro Week! Blue Totoro Cookies

Blue Totoro Cookies - Coco Cake Land

I made these cutie hilarious blue Totoro cookies for TOTORO WEEK! I love how they look like slices of crazy-eyed, stunned sky blue toast. Remember when I got really into making sugar cookies there for a hot minute, inspired by Holly, Vickie and Patti?? Yeah, they’re still the best at cookies. Then I discovered Kikko’s freaking adorable sugar cookies over at Meet Me At Mike’s. I loooove how perfectly CUTE but also edgy and weird they are – a complete fantasy wonderland of sugar cookie magic. I am still hovering around a C+ for effort with my cookies but darn it the results are always pretty satisfying!

kawaii Totoro cookies - Coco Cake Land

HOT TIPS: I used an R2D2 cookie cutter for the Totoro shape and then used the triangular cone tip of an ice cream cone cutter to punch out ears, then simply pressed the ears into the R2D2 toast shape before baking. I feel like you could use any simple shape like a circle cutter or square cutter to make a Totoro cookie – making them “Totoro” is all in the decorating – crazy eyes, whiskers and a tummy! I chilled the cookies for 10 minutes in the freezer before putting them into the oven. I don’t think that step made a damn bit of difference this time but oftentimes it helps to maintain the shape of the cookie. For the whiskers, nose and eye dots, I used royal icing coloured with Dutch-process cocoa powder. I added a fair amount of cocoa powder, and then added tiny amounts of water as needed to get it back to piping consistency. I liked this idea much better than colouring royal icing with black gel colour!

Blue Totoro Cookies - Coco Cake Land

And… get into TOTORO WEEK!

STEPH went wild with Totoro cuteness – these soft and delicious looking BUNS, this TOASTORO and these black sesame toffee COOKIES!

Vickie made these adorable Totoro pops! 

Sylvia made these cute little individual Totoro pear pies!

Emily’s Totoro katsudon – YUM YUM!

Whiskkid made this PIE

My blue Totoro cake from last year!

My grey Totoro cake from two years ago!

And CATBUS!! My catbus cake! 

Plus, Steph made these Totoro pumpkin whoopie pies!! Best Totoro Week Dungeon Master ever, hehe.

Happy baking, sweet friends! xo Lyndsay 

Fuck Cancer Cake 2

breast cancer awareness cake - coco cake land

fuck cancer cake - breast cancer awareness

Fuck cancer and the demonic horse it rode it on. It rode into my life almost two years ago now, which is hard to fathom – in a way, it took 18 months out of my life. But in another way, it gave me more reason to live, and it gave me the opportunity to look at my life differently. Going through breast cancer diagnosis and treatment has become part of my life story, whether I like it or not – and I’m sure other survivors can relate to this, but often it just seems like it was all a surreal and horrific dream, a chapter book happening to someone else.

Buttercream roses - Coco Cake Land

breast cancer awareness cake - coco cake land

October is breast cancer awareness month – and I “celebrated” it last year by creating a post all about my breast cancer, as told through cake. I wanted to make something again this year – and all of a sudden an idea struck me, because I wanted to do a fundraiser of sorts. So I started the #fuckcancercake weird little cake campaign on a whim on Instagram with the idea that for every Fuck Cancer cake created in the month of October and posted on Instagram, I would personally donate $5 (along with my initial donation of $100) towards The Lipstick Project – an incredible organization here in Vancouver that provides massages and manicures to those living in hospice and their caregivers.

fuck cancer cake - breast cancer awareness

fuck cancer cake - breast cancer awareness

I remember walking down to my local manicure place, the friendliest Vietnamese ladies who knew my story, saw me go from long hair to no hair, and were so kind to me! Just getting that fantasy hour of pampering, and a fresh manicure and pretty polish, made me feel a little more put together, a little less bald, a little more human. Looking down at pretty hands. So I know how sometimes a little thing like getting your nails painted or a massage can uplift a person’s spirit, if only temporarily.

fuck cancer cake - Coco Cake Land

There’s still time for you to make your own, too – I hope you will join me in my Fuck Cancer Cake campaign! It’s actually pretty fun, because you get to make something pretty while also using SWEAR WORDS. Check out some of the #fuckcancercake projects that have sprouted forth too! This one by my dear cake friend Style Sweet Ca. And this super sweet blog post by Sincerely Syl. You can also make a donation directly to the Lipstick Project here. Thanks as always for reading… xo Lyndsay 

Molly On The Range: Chocolate Tahini Cake With Tahini Frosting!

edible flower cake - coco cake land

chocolate tahini cake recipe

chocolate tahini cake recipe

I’m a turd.

Molly has been singing, nay, operatically belting out the praises of tahini for years now. And I was still just a supermarket-homous-munching Canadian idiot with a little bit of tahini uncertainty. I loved the sound of the addition of tahini, but I hadn’t yet incorporated tahini into my desserts. So when Molly’s already-beloved cookbook Molly On The Range rolled onto my doorstep last week and I saw the ding-dong-beautiful photo of a dark chocolate cake with a thick layer of tahini buttercream punched out into the cutest mini cakes, I knew what I was making (well that, and SCHNITZEL BAO!)

chocolate tahini cake recipe

The chocolate tahini cake is indeed a fantastically unique flavour. I was licking the spatula for the batter while putting my pans in the oven – tahini incorporates marvellously with chocolate. Then, iced with the tahini frosting with vanilla, a teensy dash of cinnamon and a pinch of sea salt, and it becomes this terribly crave-able thing.

cake slice - coco cake land

I had everything in my pantry except a fresh jar of tahini – I actually blast through tahini quite heavily because I make this “glory bowl dressing” that I literally dump onto salad piles or brown rice bowls in an attempt to eat healthily. But, after reading Molly’s book, I realized the crunked-up tahini I had been buying all these years was NOT up to snuff. So I walked over to my favourite Triple A market (it has a lot of things Whole Foods has but it looks like someone took a giant dusty shit in the store – i.e., they don’t care one doodad about keeping aisles neat and tidy or “facing” their products – it’s a somewhat grungy green grocer but they have lots of organic produce) and eyed the tahini shelf and chose what I thought looked the most Molly-approved, a jar of Cortas from Lebanon!

molly on the range cake recipe

molly on the range cake recipe

This chocolate tahini cake! I was snacking on the cake trimmings with thick globs of the frosting while photographing the cake and I was trying to think of when I first came across Molly on the inter web – I believe it was on my pal Melanie’s blog You Are My Fave. I was like, who is this hilarious little rascal making this beautiful food?? Also, part Asian too?!! SOLD! (Some Asians (me!) tend to get excited when they meet other neat-o Asians.)

molly on the range cake recipe

edible flower cake - coco cake land

This cake is so chocolately, with the nutty infusion of sesame flavour, the frosting is creamy and extremely lickable, with a hint of cinnamon spice . I also added an extra pinch of fleur de sel sprinkled on top for a little sweet-and-salty.

dark chocolate tahini cake slice

Molly Yeh's Chocolate Tahini Cake

12-15 slices

For The Cake

  • 1 3/4 cups granulated white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup flavourless oil (I used grape seed)
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 3/4 cup boiling water

For The Tahini Frosting

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 2 cups powdered icing sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Make The Cake

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheight. Grease and flour three 7-inch round cake pans (or, one 13 x 9-inch baking dish).

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, oil and tahini.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
  4. Whisk in the boiling water.
  5. Divide batter evenly between cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 23-25 minutes.
  6. Let cakes cool completely before frosting.

Make The Frosting

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the butter and tahini until creamy.
  2. Gradually add the powdered sugar and mix to combine.
  3. Mix in the salt, cinnamon and vanilla extract.
  4. Beat on high until fluffy, about one minute.

 

Assemble The Cake

  1. Level any domes that might have baked up on your cake layers.
  2. Place the first cake layer cut-side-up on a cake board or plate.
  3. Using an offset spatula, fill the layer with tahini frosting; add the second layer, cut-side-down, on top.
  4. Fill the second layer with frosting and add the final layer, cut-side-down, on top.
  5. Frost the entire exterior of the cake and use a cake smoother to smoothe, if desired.
  6. Place cake in freezer to chill for 12-15 minutes to set the frosting.
  7. Remove cake from freezer and frost a final layer of frosting, using a cake smoother if desired.
  8. Optional: add a final sprinkle of fleur de sel and decorate with edible flowers or fresh berries!

 

chocolate tahini cake recipe

half eaten cake slice - coco cake land

I’m pretty pumped on Molly’s beautiful and hilarious book. It’s got wiener jokes, it’s got drawings, it’s got sweet stories and recipe titles like “Spaghetti and My Ex-Boyfriend’s Meatless Balls” (which, incidentally, his balls sound delicious). It has Molly’s signature cloudy-gorgeous-minimalist-gothic-dreamy-farm photography, pictures so lovely they wrap you up in a cozy wool blanket, and it has Molly’s writing, which is so cheerfully appealing, charming and open. I will quote myself when I describe Molly here: ”Molly YEH! Like a big old YAY. This woman. She brightens the internet like a half Chinese half Jewish, percussion-playing gorgeous firecracker blasting through the milky way, and she’s getting married to an EGG.” So many congrats on your book, Molly!! xo Lyndsay 

PS I interviewed Molly a while back and you can read that here!

Earl Grey Blackberry Cake With Torched Meringue (Inspired by Andy Bowdy)

torched meringue earl grey cake - Coco Cake Land

earl grey buttercream blackberry cake recipe - Coco Cake Land

torched meringue earl grey cake - Coco Cake Land

Fragrant earl grey buttercream, tangy tart blackberry-laden vanilla cake layers and an artful swath of toasty torched swiss meringue – it’s all a beautiful mess! Inspired by pastry chef Andy Bowdy (his cakes are gorgeously gargantuan, momentous and almost human!), I’ve been wanting to try decorating a cake with the “torched meringue” look – and, with a mini blowtorch burning a hole in my cupboard, the earl grey blackberry cake with torched meringue idea was born!

torched meringue earl grey cake - Coco Cake Land

earl grey buttercream blackberry cake recipe - Coco Cake Land

I decided to make swiss meringue for the artful swath, using the same method I use for my meringue kisses – that is, whipping the beautiful daylights out of a mixture of hot egg whites and granulated sugar. KitchenAid Canada sent me one of their new, very cute KitchenAid Artisan Mini Mixers in the mail! When I pulled the shiny pink mixer out of its box, my first thought was “oh my gosh, this is children’s sized.” I really thought it was so small at first and I was worried the cake and buttercream recipes I had in mind wouldn’t fit the bowl… but I was PLEASANTLY surprised that this lil baby whirred up my cake batter, buttercream and meringue just as beautifully as my old classic Kitchen Aid, with no spillover! In fact, the bowl is a generous 3.5 quarts, though it looks small. Which I guess is the point of the mini mixer – it’s compact, and perfect for a small kitchen! My only wish is that the bowl had a handle, as I’m so used to maneuvering the bowl by the handle. (Teddy and I also had fun turning the KitchenAid cardboard box into a race car! Cake board rounds make excellent steering wheels, FYI!)

earl grey buttercream blackberry cake recipe - Coco Cake Land

My favourite tips for getting a lovely, fluffy swiss meringue – ensure your bowl is very clean and completely grease-free. You can even rub the inside of the bowl with a wedge of lemon to cut any semblance of grease. Use a candy or digital thermometer! You’ll want the hot egg and sugar mixture to reach 160 degrees Fahrenheit in order to kill any nasty bacteria hanging out in the eggs.

slice of earl grey blackberry cake - coco cake land

torched meringue earl grey cake - Coco Cake Land

Along with the earl grey swiss meringue buttercream, I had some leftover salted caramel in the fridge so I added some for the dramatic drip effect. For the filling, I used blackberry jam and lemon curd, both store-bought – but you could make your own if you’re feeling truly heroic. Now go forth and make cake!!

new Kitchen Aid Mini in Guava Glaze

Earl Grey Blackberry Cake With Torched Meringue

12 slices

For The Cake

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated white sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup fresh blackberries, chopped into smaller pieces

For The Earl Grey Buttercream

For The Meringue

  • 1/4 cup egg whites (75 ml)
  • 3/4 cup granulated white sugar

For The Caramel and Fillings

  • I used leftover caramel from a previous cake, made from this recipe by Tessa Huff for The Cake Blog! 
  • For the fillings, I used store-bought blackberry jam and store-bought lemon curd.
  • You could also use store-bought caramel or dulce de leche; simply warm it up slightly to loosen it so it “drips.”

Make The Cake

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare three 7×2 inch round cake pans with vegetable oil spray and parchment paper rounds. 

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl as needed, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the eggs one at a time until incorporated.
  3. Add the pure vanilla extract.
  4. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  5. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the whole milk, ending with the flour mixture.
  6. Mix until incorporated into a batter, about 30 seconds – do not over mix!
  7. Fold in half of the chopped blackberries; divide the other half into three equal portions.
  8. Pour batter evenly into prepared cake pans; use an offset spatula to level the batter.
  9. Sprinkle each batter-filled pan with the remaining blackberries, pressing in lightly.
  10. Bake on the centre rack for 23-25 minutes, turning pans halfway to ensure even baking. Cake is baked when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  11. Let cool completely on wire racks before frosting.

Make The Buttercream

  1. Place 1 cup of the butter in a saucepan with the loose tea. Heat over medium heat until the butter melts, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat and let the tea steep for another 5 minutes.
  3. Strain the butter through a fine-mesh-sieve set over a bowl and refrigerate until it reaches softened butter consistency – 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, whisking to combine.
  5. Fill a medium saucepan with water and place it over medium-high heat.
  6. Place the stand mixer bowl on top, creating a double-boiler effect (the bowl shouldn’t touch the water.)
  7. Whisking intermittently, heat the egg mixture until it registers 160 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius) on a candy thermometer.
  8. Carefully move the mixer bowl back to the stand mixer.
  9. Using the whisk attachment, beat the egg white and sugar mixture on high speed for about 8-10 minutes until it reaches medium-stiff peaks. The mixture should have cooled down now to room temperature.
  10. Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk attachment for the paddle attachment.
  11. With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla paste, tea infused butter and remaining 1 cup of butter about a tablespoon at a time.
  12. Once incorporated, turn the mixer to medium-high and beat until buttercream is thick and lustrous.

(If your swiss meringue buttercream “breaks” apart, your butter might have been too cold – place the stand mixer bowl back onto the water filled saucepan and gently heat up for a minute or so, then try beating the mixture again. You’d be amazed at how something can go from curdled soup to fluffy perfect buttercream. See this post for more troubleshooting tips!)

Make The Meringue

  1. Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, whisking to combine.
  2. Fill a medium saucepan with water and place it over medium-high heat.
  3. Place the stand mixer bowl on top, creating a double-boiler effect (the bowl shouldn’t touch the water.)
  4. Whisking intermittently, heat the egg mixture until it registers 160 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius) on a candy thermometer.
  5. Carefully move the mixer bowl back to the stand mixer.
  6. Using the whisk attachment, beat the egg white and sugar mixture on high speed for about 8-10 minutes until it reaches medium-stiff peaks, glossy and fluffy.

Assemble The Cake

  1. Using a serrated knife, level off your cake layers, reserving trimmings for chowing down on later.
  2. Place a dab of buttercream on a cake board or large plate and put the first cake layer on top.
  3. Using a piping bag fitted with a large star tip, pipe a generous buttercream dam on the top far edge of the cake layer.
  4. Fill the center area with blackberry jam.
  5. Place the second cake layer cut-side-down on top of the first.
  6. Pipe another generous buttercream dam on top of the second layer.
  7. Fill the center area of the second layer with lemon curd.
  8. Place the final cake layer cut-side-down on top, pressing in lightly to adhere. Slightly adjust your layers as needed.
  9. Using an offset spatula, frost the entire cake with a crumb coat, using a cake bench scraper to smoothe as needed.
  10. Place the cake in the freezer to set up, about 12 minutes, or in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  11. Remove cake from the freezer; using your offset spatula, frost a second layer of buttercream, smoothing with cake bench scraper.
  12. Place the cake back into the freezer for about 12 minutes.
  13. Remove cake from the freezer. Using a small spoon, add drips of caramel.
  14. Using a large spoon, dollop a generous amount of meringue on top of the cake. Using your spoon (but without touching the cake), spread the meringue into an artful “swath”, going across the center of the cake and going down one side.
  15. Get your blowtorch ready! In a safe uncluttered area of your kitchen, torch the meringue in little bursts to avoid melting away your buttercream. (freezing it beforehand as above will help here too); torch until you’re satisfied with the toasted-level of your meringue.
  16. Finally, decorate with blackberries, fresh fruit and/or edible flowers!

torched meringue earl grey cake - Coco Cake Land

earl grey blackberry cake recipe - Coco Cake Land

Thank you KitchenAid Canada for sending me the mixer and for sponsoring Coco Cake Land. Pretty stoked to be a Mini Moments Ambassador! All opinions are my own. My first Kitchen Aid was a wedding present from my very beloved Poh-Poh. I miss her very much. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep Coco Cake Land chugging along, and happy baking, buddies! PS if you’re looking to amp up your meringue-based buttercream and frosting skills, here’s my affiliate link to Craftsy class Icing On The Cake by Jenny McCoy – I just watched it and learned a ton! xo Lyndsay 

In Memory Of John Dumont

in memory of John Dumont

in memory of John Dumont

This cake is so bright in colour, joyful, and I loved making it, hoping it would put a smile on the recipient’s face. But now when I look at pictures of it, I can’t help but have tears in my eyes. I made it for John, on his 41st birthday, just two and a half months ago. John passed away this past week on September 1st, one year after being diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer – sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma. John was a dear friend of my sister’s, and the decades-long best friend of her husband, so I knew John over many years, but not closely – I’d see him at a party or at my sister’s house. It was only after his cancer diagnosis that we became friends via email, as those diagnosed with cancer often do – you tend to gravitate towards each other, grasping through the haze and daze of fear, strength, doubt, sickness, hope.

turquoise drippy cake - coco cake land

In our emails he would always ask ME how I was doing, even though I knew he wasn’t feeling well himself. I would check in with him and see how he was feeling, or try to send messages of encouragement. He once told me he was inspired by me and happy to see how strong I was feeling. I remember crying after reading this, just so hopeful that he would be okay.

turquoise drippy cake - coco cake land

The last time I saw him was just after he was diagnosed, and we ran into each other at the cancer agency. I was in for my daily radiation appointment and he was there with his wife Trixie. He was a tall man, dark haired, athletic, handsome, and I recognized him immediately through a sea of shell-shocked patients. We hugged, with tears in our eyes. Why us? A shared fear and a sense of support. The unknown can be a gutting place. I have always admired Trixie too – strong, blunt, funny and beautiful. John was such an awesome person, adored by so many. I remember him being easy going, incredibly likeable, the type of person you like to be around. He was a powerhouse athlete – a star basketball player, and in more recent years, a marathon runner – he qualified for, and ran the Boston Marathon only three years ago. He was an amazing husband, and incredible father to three growing boys.

turquoise drippy cake - coco cake land

In memory of John Dumont

Rest in peace, John. You will be missed by so many friends and loved ones. To read more about John, visit here. To support John’s family and contribute towards a fund dedicated to the future education and endeavours of his three sons, please visit Support John Dumont. xo Lyndsay 

Sweet Child O Mine – Teddy’s 4th Birthday Party

ghost piñata - coco cake land

teddy-and-cake-1

Dear Teddy. It’s mama. Or mommy, or MA. You call for me in the mornings when you wake up to let me know you’re awake. Or you yell at me to come in to your room, and bleary eyed, I stumble out of bed. “Is it morning?” you ask. How did you get to be four years old? Just yesterday, you were the basketball bump in my tummy. The baby-to-be, forcing me to ingest whole ice cold watermelons and cut-up cantaloupes, and large cups filled to the brim with ice cubes, shimmering like a sculpture. Rolling around like an alien in my tummy, the strangest sensation. Now, here you are. Tall for your age, with soft lightly brown skin, cheeks of dough and eyelashes so thick and long they would make a drag queen jealous. You are growing your hair out like Joey Ramone’s. You don’t mind being called a girl at the park. You are fascinated by good and evil, good guys and bad guys. You say things like “mommy if a bad guy ever comes to take you I will PUNCH HIM and lock him up in jail!!”You really are a pretty little guy.

party garlands - coco cake land

sweet child o mine - coco cake land

Every day you are learning so much, questioning the world around you, asking what words mean, with a growing independence. I miss you so much when I am working and we are apart, yet you often make me lose my cool with your wildness. You shred on your guitar and sing all day long. You seem to love pop punk music, which is questionable. You love make-believe play and you are obsessed with cars. You ask about death and dying a lot. I try my best to answer your super-goth questions without freaking both of us out. I don’t have all the answers – sometimes mommy just does not know.

teddy birthday party - coco cake land

blue ghost piñata - coco cake land

ghost piñata - coco cake land

teddy in racing helmet - coco cake land

You are my whole heart. You are a huge nutbar. You are hilarious and fun and sweet and thoughtful but you can also sometimes be an asshole. You love jokes. I am trying my best to raise you as a cool guy, one who thinks of others, who loves freely, who shares (haha) and has gratitude. Lately we have been singing “A Whole New World” from Aladdin together and at the end I always say “nice singing, Teddy!” and you say “nice singing, mom!”

whacking the ghost piñata - coco cake land

dairy queen ice cream cake - coco cake land

turdwicks family pic - coco cake land

You are the one who makes me truly happy, Teddy! My heart and life is full because of you. You are so well loved by so many people. I am so glad I am here to be with you. Love, Mom