This time My Oldest happened to be staring over my shoulder as I was flipping through the Jan/Feb issue of Food Network Magazine. They had an entire feature that had a cake idea for every month of the year.
Once he saw the Cookies and Cream cake, he was sold! So, I agreed to bake this 2-layer cake for his birthday. But, previous experience has shown me that I have to do a test-run before we share it with others... so, the taste-test cake was baked about a week before the party.
Needless to say, that test cake was dessert every night leading up to the weekend of the party... it would have been gone sooner if I had let them have bigger pieces every night!
The recipe begins with a Basic Vanilla Cake that is so simple to put together, that you may just give up your box mix. You know I have no problem using a box mix and adding to it to make it a bit more special... but, I think you could easily do the same with this very simple cake recipe.
I did substitute the vanilla extract with Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste in the cake and the frosting. This substitution really brought out the vanilla flavor so much more than what I've noticed with regular vanilla extracts. The other thing that I figured out between making this cake two times in one week, is that when you are frosting the second layer, it helps to add a layer of frosting on the bottom side of the top layer. This helped keep the layers together since there are chopped Oreos in that layer of frosting.
The frosting didn't need any adjustments, it made just the right amount to properly cover a 9-inch round two-layer cake. I like it when I don't have to make a little more to finish covering a cake! I also prefer not to have leftover frosting... mainly because I have a hard time resisting the urge to get a spoonful whenever I pass by the fridge... my hips are better off when I can avoid that!
The cake was topped with a fabulous fondant Halo Master Chief topper by the incredibly talented Janet of Luv and Buttah! What was kind of funny about how this came about was that she had asked me to have My Boys give some input into a cake she was making for a local Arizona client. I had shared some photos she texted me and they thought it was the coolest thing ever... so, with Aaron's birthday a couple weeks away, she said she could make a smaller version cake topper and ship it to me!
What a cool mom I turned out to be on this birthday - not only was the cake homemade (and I wouldn't put one of Janet's amazing creations on anything but a homemade-from scratch cake), but the main decoration was of something that all of the boys think is cool.
I really can't say enough about Janet's creations! If you have a need for a completely from scratch cake that will be decorated with care and love, she is THE baker to go to! Even if you are not in the Phoenix area, there are a number of items that she can ship... contact her and talk about what you need. It would have been difficult to ship me an entire cake (although we would have been drooling while waiting at the door for it to arrive), her alternative suggestion to create the fondant decorations and ship them to me worked beautifully! You can see some of her fabulous creations in her Facebook photo album.
Note: Links in the above post may take you to Amazon (for the magazine and the vanilla bean paste) where you can learn more about the products and purchase if you choose. If you do purchase via those links, I receive a small referral fee.
The recipes are linked to the Food Network website where they are available for printing (see the link for the cake and the frosting up above).
Please note that all photos and content belong to Patsy Kreitman, unless otherwise noted. If you want to use something please ask first. Tweet