Lightning McQueen Chocolate Mint Birthday Cake

So for Chase’s 5th birthday I decided to make him a cool cake. Last year I did the Lego cake and was marginally happy with it, so I wanted to top it this year. I decided to go for broke and do a Lightning cake. I did some research on the ‘net and tried to find something I could copy but while I found some really cool Lightning McQueen cakes, I really couldn’t find anything out there with instructions. So I decided to just go for it and resign myself to making another plain ol’ cake if I really screwed it up.

The Cake

I started out with the Hershy’s “Perfectly Chocolate” chocolate cake (same one I used last year). It’s really the best chocolate cake recipe I’ve found – really chocolatey and really moist. One thing to note with this batter is that it comes out REALLY thin – watery, in fact. Just be aware, that’s the way its’s supposed to be.

 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

 

Directions

  • Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
  • Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin).
  • Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely.
So, I made two of these 13×9 inch cakes. Next, I made a buttercream frosting. Except since Chocolate Chip Mint is Chase’s favorite flavor anything, I substituted mint extract for the vanilla.

The Frosting

Ingredients

  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream

 

Directions

In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.

Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency.

Pear Spice Cake

Every year we get so many pears on the pear tree and of course, they’re all ripe at once. So last year I tried to figure out something I could make will all these pears! Well, after some searching, I found this recipe and this one is pretty much the same.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups peeled, cored and chopped pears
  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 4 egg whites
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped pecans


Directions:

Step 1

Chop your pears up into 1/2 inch cubes. Combine the pears and the sugar and let stand for an hour. The pears should be broken down pretty well at this point.

  

Step 2

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Spray a 10 inch bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Slightly beat the egg whites and combine them with the oil, chopped pecans and pear mixture.

Step 3
Stir the flour, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. Stir in the pear mixture. Pour batter into the prepared bundt pan.
 

Step 4
Bake at 325 degrees F  for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing form pan. After it cools, sift some powdered sugar over the top. Enjoy!
 

Pie Crust

People always fuss over pie crusts, some people won’t even attempt them.  Pie crusts are easy.  There are two things to remember with pie crusts:

  1. Use very cold water and if it is a hot day, cool the mixing bowl also.  Pie crusts are easier to work with when they stay at a nice, cool temperature.  A cool temperature helps the dough stay firm and easy to work with.
  2. Don’t over work your dough.  Roll it out, lay it in the pie dish and be done with it.  If it falls apart, just piece it back together in the dish with your fingers.  Once it bakes, it will look perfect!

Ingredients

 

 

 

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This is another Betty Crocker recipe, simple and perfect.  This is one of Chris’ favorites! I love making it for him- and eating it too! I follow this recipe to a T, because it is the best carrot cake ever!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 3 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

 

Directions

  1. Mix sugar, oil and eggs in a large bowl, beat for 1 minute.
  2. Stir in remaining ingredients, except carrots and walnuts, stir very well, beat 1 minute.
  3. Add carrots and walnuts, stir.
  4. Pour into a prepared 13x9x2 pan and bake for 40-45 minutes.

 

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 t milk
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 4 cups powdered sugar

 

  1. Beat cream cheese, butter, milk and vanilla in bowl with electric mixer on low.
  2. Gradually add 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time until smooth

**I usually double this recipe for Chris:)

Mint Chocolate Ganache Cake Balls

Ingredients

 

  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package chocolate cake mix
  • 1 (16 ounce) container prepared cream cheese frosting

 

Directions

 

  1. Prepare the cake mix according to package directions using any of the recommended pan sizes. When cake is done, crumble while warm into a large bowl, and stir in the frosting until well blended.
  2. You are suppose to use a melon baller to scoop out the mixture, but I make them a bit bigger. I use my hands and scoop about 2 tablespoons of mixture and roll into a ball.
  3. Lay the balls on a cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper. Once all of the cake balls are rolled, put in the fridge or freezer for an hour.
  4. Take cold cake balls and dip in Mint Chocolate Ganache. Place the dipped balls on cookie sheet with parchment paper, put in fridge until ready to serve. (These will taste better the second day, once the ganache has really set. If you make them the day you are serving, make sure you have at least 3-4 hours, once dipped, to refrigerate.)

 

Mint Chocolate Ganache

  • 16 ounces chocolate chips
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • peppermint extract (I add to taste, til it is as minty as I like it:)

 

I do this recipe in two batches, starting with 8 ounces of choc chips and 1 cup of cream. It is just easier to melt this way and it is nice to have a fresh batch to work with, half way through dipping. Since I really don’t have a recipe for my ganache and I eye everything, I am enclosing instructions from a recipe of Alton Brown’s. I have used this before and it is now the method I always use when making Ganache- it’s just so easy.
Place the heavy cream into a heat-proof bowl and microwave on high just until simmering, approximately 30 seconds. Remove the cream from the microwave and add the chocolate. Make sure the chocolate is completely submersed in the cream. Allow to sit for 2 minutes. Gently whisk until the chocolate is melted and combined with the cream, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.