My Nerdy Valentine: 8-Bit Heart Cake

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Hey everyone! I'm back and so excited about this post! A friend of mine at work requested an 8-bit heart cake for his wife for Valentine's Day. I normally don't do too many fondant cakes, but his idea was too awesome to pass up! Because you see, my husband is a nerd and I have a weakness for unique, nerd themed food. Lets do this!

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I used my traditional red velvet cake recipe with a vanilla buttercream as a base underneath all that fondant.

Red Velvet Cake
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 oz. red food coloring
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Lightly stir eggs in a medium bowl with a wire whisk. Add remaining liquid ingredients and stir together with whisk until blended. Set aside.
3. Place all the dry ingredients in your mixing bowl and stir together really good with another wire whisk.
4. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix on medium-high for about a minute or until completely combined.
5. Spray cake pans with nonstick spray, divide batter evenly between two 8" or 9" cake pans. Bake 30-45 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks.


I baked my cakes, let them cool then got them into the freezer. I like to freeze my cakes before assembling them, its not mandatory, just a personal preference. While my cakes are chillin', off to Michael's I go to get some fondant. In the past, I've used homemade fondant, but it is quite difficult (and annoying) to make certain colors, specifically red and black. Next it's time to make the frosting and assemble the cake!

Vanilla Buttercream
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
4-6 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions:
1. Cream butter on medium speed until smooth.
2. Add vanilla and milk, continue mixing on medium.
3. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until desired sweetness is achieved. Mix until combined and fluffy, about 2-5 minutes.

Now the fun part, cutting out the fondant squares!

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First I designed the 8-bit heart on top, then worked my way down the sides of the cake. There were some places that weren't perfect and my squares had to be trimmed down. Totally okay! As long as the 8-bit heart design on top looked perfect, I was happy!

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Shoutout to my amazing husband for getting these amazing shots of the cake while I was getting ready for our Valentine's Date Night!

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Happy Valentine's Day to all my nerds out there!

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Poke Cake: Blueberry Cheesecake

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Hello everyone! It's been a while.

This past weekend was Labor Day, the last weekend of summer vacation. With so many people jumping ahead to pumpkin spice everything(which I also love), I felt like I needed to give summer a proper goodbye. Because it is still hot and humid summer weather here in Michigan, I knew it had to be some sort of refreshing yummy dessert! It is also much too soon for any fall themed desserts. I also wanted something fairly easy, something anyone could make and take with them to a BBQ.

My brain immediately went to poke cakes. I've seen recipes for them time and time again but have never made one. I scrolled for what seemed to be hours on Pinterest, but couldn't find exactly what I wanted. I knew I wanted it to be something light and vanilla with blueberries. Because earlier in the summer we took my grandma out to one of the blueberry farms and I've been staring a huge bag of delicious blueberries in my freezer ever since.

So I started with some vanilla cake and cheesecake pudding mix.

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While the cake was baking, I started my blueberry sauce.

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Once the cake came out of the oven, time to poke!

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Now mix up the pudding and pour on top!

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Spread evenly and let soak in.

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Next layer the cooled blueberry sauce on top of the pudding.

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Then mix your second box of pudding with a container of cool whip.

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Spread the final layer evenly over the blueberries.

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Top with some blueberries and freeze!

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Time for some recipes! Here's what you will need;

- 1 vanilla cake mix (I used Betty Crocker French Vanilla) + ingredients for cake
- 2 packages cheesecake pudding mix + ingredients for pudding
- 1 container Cool Whip
- blueberry sauce (recipe to follow)


Homemade Blueberry Sauce

3 cups blueberries
1-2 cups sugar (depending on desired sweetness)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch

1. Add blueberries, 1 cup sugar (add more later if not sweet enough), cinnamon and lemon juice to sauce pan on medium heat.
2. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste test, add more sugar if desired.
3. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water to dissolve. Add to blueberry sauce.
4. Cook for 5 more minutes or until sauce thickens. Transfer to another container and cool completely before use. Can be made up to 2 days in advance and stored in refrigerator.


Poke Cake Assembly

1. Bake cake according to directions on package. While cake is baking, mix up your pudding.
2. Once cake comes out, poke repeatedly with a skewer and pour one box of prepared cheesecake pudding mix on top of the cake, spreading evenly.
3. Once the blueberry sauce is cool, spread on top of pudding layer.
4. Then mix the other box of prepared cheesecake pudding with the container of Cool Whip until smooth. Spread evenly over blueberry sauce. Garnish with blueberries and freeze until ready to serve.



Enjoy this cake and the last few days of summer everyone! Until next time!
<3hollicakes
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Hollicakes does Weddings!

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Hi everyone! Its been way too long since my last update. I have been super busy DIY remodeling our house, working in the bakery at Earth Fare, AND planning away for our wedding in September! And I have some exciting news! Hollicakes now does weddings! I have done two weddings in the last three weeks and they were both a success!

The first wedding was at a cute farm just outside Grand Rapids. Caitlin & Patrick had a vanilla cutting cake and four types of cupcakes! Peanut butter chocolate, funfetti, vanilla lemon and strawberry!


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Dylan and I had so much fun setting up this display! Cute & simple.

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Thanks so much to the new Mr & Mrs Butler for letting me take part in their special day! :)


Wedding #2 was a little bit more crazy. See, it was our good friends Kelsey & Nick that got married! (Dylan was a groomsman!)

So even though we were busy running around for bachelor/bachelorette parties & rehearsal dinner we still managed to get everything baked and set up in time!

The bride and groom ordered a vanilla cutting cake, 5 different flavors of cupcakes & a custom Chargers grooms cake! The cupcake flavors were red velvet, moscato wine, blue moon, reese's & twix! The perfect combination, a little something for everyone!

Here is their vanilla cutting cake, designed to match their wedding invite.

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I LOVE how this display turned out, especially the custom bobblehead topper!

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The cupcake flavor sign was a big help!

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Here we are all dressed up ready to watch our friends tie the knot!!

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The new Mr & Mrs Caras cutting the cake!

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So happy to be a part of this beautiful wedding! Cupcakes for everyone! :)

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So that was my last few weeks in a nutshell! I really enjoying catering these two weddings and I hope to do more in the future.

Until then...Happy summer everyone! Have a sweet one :)
<3hollicakes


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Dinner or Dessert?

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Is it dinner? Is it dessert? I say make it both!

I was inspired to make these cupcakes from one of my all time favorite baking books, Hello Cupcake. I have passed by these cupcakes time and time again while working on other projects. And finally the perfect occasion presented itself!

It was our friend Adam's birthday. You see, Adam is Italian and loves to cook. And hollicakes had a lightbulb moment...make spaghetti and meatballs cupcakes!

In addition, I wanted to share with you guys my take on "box mix secrets". AKA how to make box cake mixes taste like homemade! (or close to it!)

I started with these pretty basic ingredients.

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So my white cake mix said to add 1 1/4 cup of water, 3 eggs & 1/3 cup oil.

Instead I added 1 1/4 cup of vanilla almond milk, 4 eggs and 1/3 cup oil. I would never use water in a cake mix. Instead switch it out with milk, almond milk, soy milk, or coconut milk. Something that will give it that extra rich yummy-ness.

The extra egg also gives it another level of rich. And you can switch out the oil for butter, but in this case I did not.

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Behold, perfect white cupcakes!

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I made a standard buttercream frosting, adding 3 drops of yellow food coloring and 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder to give it the same color as noodles!

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OMG. Look how cool that looks! It really couldn't be easier, you just pipe the frosting randomly. Swirls, loops, whatever!

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Get crazy with it! Swoop the frosting over the edges of the cupcakes too!

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Next, take your fererro rocher candies and toss them in low sugar strawberry preserves. (Why low sugar? It has the best marinana-red color.)

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Dollop the "meatballs" over your frosting "noodles"!

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Grate some white chocolate "parmesan cheese" over the top...

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And there you have it. A unique dessert for the pasta lover in your life!

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All I can say is driving to lunch with spaghetti cupcakes sitting in your lap is scary!!

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Happy Birthday Adam!

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<3hollicakes
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Happy Summer! Let's have a beer...

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Hi my friends! I'm back with a beer inspired cupcake recipe for ya. Remember that time I made the Blue Moon Cupcakes? Well this recipe is a spin off those, but instead of Blue Moon, I'm featuring my newest favorite Michigan-brewed beer, Oberon.

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Michigan beer? What's Oberon?

So the story goes, in June of 1993 Bell's Brewery in Kalamazoo became the first brewery in Michigan to serve beer by the glass to the public. How cool is that? Bell's Eccentric Cafe has 20 beers on tap, including seasonal small batch varieties that are not distributed outside the pub.

The Eccentric Cafe also offers food everyday until 9pm, including a pulled pork sandwich prepared with Bell's beer! And there's no better place to enjoy a sandwich & a cold beer than in the Bell's Beer Garden, which features live music on the weekends!

Here's what Bell's has to say about Oberon:
Bell's Oberon is a wheat ale fermented with Bell's signature house ale yeast, mixing a spicy hop character with mildly fruity aromas. The addition of wheat malt lends a smooth mouthfeel, making it a classic summer beer.

These photos were taken in the Beer Garden, where the sunflowers are in full bloom!

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Here's what you need...

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Oberon Cupcakes
-makes 24

3/4 c unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 c sugar
2 1/2 c flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
orange food coloring
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 c beer +1/4 cup for brushing
1/4 c milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
2. Cream butter and sugar with paddle attachment until light, about 2 minutes.
3. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until each is incorporated.
4. Add vanilla, food coloring and orange zest and beat.
5. Mix beer and milk in a measuring cup. Add flour mixture and beer mixture alternating each. Mix on medium speed until combined.
6. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake for 18-20 minutes or until tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly touched.
7. Cool cupcakes on a wire rack.

Don't forget the beer!

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And the orange zest!

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Batter ready to bake!

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Time for some frosting!

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"Beer Foam" Meringue Frosting

3 egg whites, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp orange juice
1 c sugar
1 T corn syrup
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/3 c water

1. In a saucepan, mix sugar, corn syrup, water and cream of tartar. Cook on medium heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture is thick and bubbly, about 160 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, beat egg whites, vanilla and orange juice until soft peaks form. Slowly add hot sugar mixture, beating continuously. Beat for 7 minutes until stiff peaks form.


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This frosting is marshmallowy- fluffy & lightly orange flavored, just like the foam of your beer with an orange slice in it! Yum!

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Someone drank lots of Oberon while playing kickball this summer!

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In the Bell's Beer Garden!

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Hope the bartenders and servers loved the cupcakes! Thanks for letting us have a mini photo shoot in the garden! =]

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Have a good summer everyone! Cheers a beer at your local brewery!

<3hollicakes


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