Jen Carden, author of beloved cookbook The Toddler Café, as well as just-released Little Pretty Baking Kit, is our guest blogger this week. If you enjoy baking mini cakes, this kit includes everything you need to make memorable, delicious gifts—10 easy recipes made with basic ingredients, 12 adorable pans, and all the cuteness to wrap it up pretty.
Step away from the prepackaged cake—seriously, put it back on the shelf. It’s the holidays and we are all busy, but baking and sharing can take just as long as a trip to the mall. Little Pretty Baking Kit is a great way to give a gift of love, from your kitchen. Bake up 12 of the cutest petite cakes, bag them up, and hand them off as a holiday gift. If baking isn’t your thing, then wrap up the little kit and give the gift of the scrumptious mini cakes to someone who does.
I’ve always wanted to make a kit so when the idea of making a very small baking kit surfaced I was jubilant. I love making books but I have always wanted to make products, and of course working with Chronicle was as fun as I figured it would be, again. Working with my trusty editor Amy, we discussed the package and how we would bag up the mini cakes. I tested bag sizes to get the perfect fit so the cakes would look most dapper in their little sleeves. We decided on adorable stickers to label the cakes and delicate ribbon to tie it all together. The fabulous designers at Chronicle made it all happen as usual. All the pans, stickers and ribbons are mix and match, making for fun packing choices you don’t have to think too hard about (in fact, you don’t have to think at all, because it all goes so well together).
As the author and food stylist I am very lucky to get to do all the photography with my husband! We work on lots of other authors’ cookbooks, doing the styling and photography. Recently, we had been shooting the Ice Sabers Star Wars Kit and Chef Olivia Kit. Little Pretty kit was special because it has been years since The Toddler Café, our first book from beginning to end working together. We work well together and we have a pretty good time at it.
Once the idea of the kit came together, so many ideas flooded my brain, flavors and frosting ideas swirled around and danced circles in my head…
Being a traditionalist, I of course went to classic flavors—lemon, chocolate, pumpkin—but I couldn’t leave it alone. There’s a twist of coconut or lemon or something else distinctive in each recipe. There are cakes for winter holidays, citrusy flavors for springtime and kid friendly events…
Each mini pan holds two cupcakes’ worth of batter so these recipes are easily transformed into even more petite cakes. I give a few snazzy ideas for decorating, but this is where you come in. I’d love to see your creative ideas on how you put these tiny confections together!
I hope you enjoy this recipe for one of my favorite cakes in this kit.
Chocolate Cardamom Coconut Snowman Cake
This not too sweet cake is packed with coconut and flavorful cardamom. It may remind you just a bit of a Mounds candy bar.
2 1/4 cups/ 285 g all purpose flour
1/2 cup/20 g unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup desiccated coconut, unsweetened
1 cup shredded sweet coconut
2 cups/250 g brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup/58 g butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp/10 ml vanilla extract
1/2 cup/43 g semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
Coconut Patty Modeling Paste
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 ounces (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg white
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) unsweetened coconut, packed, plus additional for rolling patties
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In a medium heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, butter, egg white, and salt until very liquid and warm to the touch, about 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and, stir in the coconut and vanilla. Spread out on a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Chill 1-2 hours.
To make cakes: Preheat the oven to 350˚F/180˚C.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, spices, salt and coconuts, set aside.
In a large bowl, beat together sugar and eggs until smooth. Stir in melted butter, milk and vanilla extract. Gradually stir in flour mixture until only a few streaks of dry ingredients remain. Stir mini chocolate chips.
Using a 1/4 cup ice cream scoop place two scoops in each mini cake pans.
Bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool completely before frosting.
To decorate: Roll out coconut modeling paste and cut 3 circles of different sizes using cookie cutters or a glass. Lay them on top of the cake like a showman, and use a few mini chips to decorate the face and body as a snowman.
Alternate topping idea: Cover the top of the cake with mini chocolate chips before baking.
Place in bags, tie and label and give away.
Purchase Little Pretty Baking Kit: Petite Cakes to Make and Give.
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