Cake Moda Cupcake Wars at Crush Barrel Wine Market

That might be the longest post title I’ve ever used.

There are few things in the world better than cupcakes and wine. I mean think about it. Excluding Life’s essentials, what’s better than delicious gourmet cupcakes and free wine? Nothing right? Not even cats in top hats!

Since Ryan was going to be working much of the time that I would be in California, I asked him to find a few things for me to do while I was out there. Ryan is incredibly good at this sort of stuff. He planned the epic spring break we had a few years that went from Kansas City to Buffalo New York to Niagara Falls Canada to Toronto to New York City to Washington DC and back to Kansas City. Quite possibly the best vacations of our lives.

Never to disappoint, Ryan managed to find three of my favorite things as events in the city. Cupcakes, wine tastings and a half-off coupon, in this case, all together. It’s the San Francisco Cake Moda Cupcake Wars at Crush Barrel Wine Market. I’m in and so were my friends Kevin and Dave.

We made the bus ride to San Francisco’s wharf to the Herbst Pavilion and readied our tickets, thanks Eventbrite and Yelp for the hookup. We were in for the gastronomic time of our lives. Right? There was lots of fun live music, great wines to try out and a coupon for $10 off any wine purchase. Win!

Alas, who knew it would be possible to go to an all-you-can-eat cupcake and wine tasting and not have a single cupcake? Also, who knew that not eating all day coupled with drinking lots of wine could be a bad idea?

Both lessons were learned on this voyage to Cupcake Desert, Wine Oasis. Apparently 1,000 other people had the same idea and the free cupcakes became $1-4 cupcakes and all you can eat became all you can afford and dare to wait in line for. We wandered around for a bit, enjoyed some wine, kevetched on the complete absence of free cupcakes, took some photos and eventually decided this wasn’t our scene.

Instead we opted for a cupcake from Ghiradelli Square and dinner with Ryan and Mark at Home.

The next morning I woke up extra early, picked up my rental car, a sweet Volkswagen Jetta and headed north to Healdsburg where a limousine, Kayla and a great time awaited me.

Cake and a Movie

So, I’ve mentioned it a few times here and have even posted pictures of the cakes here but, now officially, a post just about Cake and a Movie.

I started Cake and a Movie Night during Winter Break… I was bored and had all these ingredients so there we go, baked a cake.  Then made the call, invited a bunch of friends over and we watched a movie.

Now it has grown through Twitter and the hashtag, #CaaM.  Each week I have about 20 or so people over, we drink wine, watch a movie and eat cake.

So, I built a site to keep up with it!

Cake and a Movie

Check it out!  My friends Karen (@ok2bapincess) and Josh (@brooding_soul) help with the site by writing wine and movie reviews. I post all the recipes I use/create along with photos of the cake and the process.

You can even vote on which movie we watch!

Anyways, just wanted to put the info out there, the site is up and running and growing every week. Thanks for checking it out!

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The Peanut Butter-Chocolate Cake

The full title of this post should be…

Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter-Cream Cheese Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Ganache

Michael (@mdanbom) joined me in making this delicious cake for the last Cake and a Movie night (#CaaM) which happened last night.

We had a wonderful crowd come over…

@laurenreid, @aurablush, @taylorjm10, @ok2baprincess, @brooding_soul, @savannahbrooke and @coreyschmidt.

It was suggested that we watch Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and it was a great film. But I’m a sucker for Michael Cera and Kat Dennings; oh and any movie with a band full of really hot gay guys, especially when the gay characters aren’t so annoying.

Now I guess it’s time to post my Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter-Cream Cheese Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Ganache.

This is an original of Sky High: Irresistable Triple-Layer Cakes modified by the and further adopted by me.

With no further adieu… the

Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter-Cream Cheese Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Ganache

Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake Base
Makes about 7 cups

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa w/ 60% cacao
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the 3 prepared cake pans.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes.

Place cakes in freezer for thirty minutes. This will allow these incredibly soft, moist cakes to firm up before frosting. Now is a good time to make the frosting.

Peanut Butter-Cream Cheese FrostingMakes About 5 cups

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 5 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time to prevent lumping. Mix thoroughly after each addition and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended. Use the spatula to fold frosting to ensure it is smooth and creamy.

Frosting a dark cake with a light frosting can be difficult. Here are some tips to make this as easy as possible.

Measure out just enough frosting to put a thin layer of frosting on the cake using an offset spatular. Microwave frosting for 20-30 seconds to make frosting soft and spreadable. Let this cool on the cold cake, firming up the frosting and preventing any rips in the cake.

Place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread about 1/2 cup of the frosting evenly over the top. Repeat with the next layer.

For a smoother frosting, use 1/2-2/3 of the remaining frosting to finish up the top and sides, reserving 1/3-1/2 for later. Place layered cake into the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes. Warm frosting in microwave for 20-30 seconds before smoothing the rest of the frosting on the chilled cake.

Place cake back into the refrigerator while you prepare the ganache.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter GanacheMakes about 1 1/2 cups

  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream

In the top of a double boiler, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the whipping cream, beating until smooth.

Let the ganache sit for a few minutes. It should be warm but not hot when applied to the cake.

Slowly pour the ganache over the top of the cake, and using an offset spatula, spread it evenly over the top just to the edges so that it runs down the sides of the cake in long drips.

Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the glaze and frosting to set completely.

Use warm, sharp, thin knife to slice the cake, cleaning between each slice with warm water and dry towel. This will make each slice as beautiful as the first.

Let me know how it works for you and if you have any suggestions for modifications or cake suggestion for the next Cake and a Movie night. So far it sounds like a carrot cake is winning out. If you’ve got a great recipe, send it over!

Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Cake

This is my version of the popular Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse cake from Gourmet magazine, February 2006.  I like a thicker, richer mousse and sturdier, easier to cut through crust.

Everyone seemed to just love this mousse, sure to be a winner.  Make your slices thin, this thing is RICH!  I like to garnish it with fresh, thinly sliced strawberries but a light dusting of dutch process cocoa and/or powdered sugar makes for a great, simple decoration.

Shortbread Crust

  • 4 tablespoons hazelnuts
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt


  • 1/4-oz envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 6 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 13-oz jar hazelnut spread such as Nutella (5 oz)
  • 1 cup mascarpone (1/4 lb)
  • 3 cups chilled heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 6 tablespoons sugar


  • 2/3 cup plus heavy cream
  • 7 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped

You will need one 8-inch (20-cm) springform pan; parchment paper


Make shortbread base:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the spring-form pan with a 1″ tab.  Close spring-form with tab going through the bottom of the pan.  Coat pan with baker’s non-stick spray.

Bake hazelnuts at 350°F in a small pan for ~10 minutes.  Remove hazelnuts and wrap in a towel.  Let sit for two minutes.

Massage the towel to remove the skins from the toasted hazelnuts, not all skin will remove.

Pulse hazelnuts with sugar in a food processor until hazelnuts are finely chopped. Add flour, butter, cocoa, and salt and pulse until dough forms..

Press dough evenly onto bottom of springform pan with your fingers. Bake crust for 15-20 minutes, until edges are dry with the center still slightly moist.

Remove from oven and let cool., about 30 minutes.

Make mousse while shortbread cools:
Sprinkle gelatin over water in  a medium sized heavy saucepan and let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. Heat and stir gelatin just until melted over medium heat. Whisk in chocolate hazelnut spread until combined and remove from heat.

Add mascarpone to the chocolate hazelnut mixture.

In a large, chilled bowl, beat together cream, cocoa powder, and sugar with an electric mixer at low speed, increasing speed to high and beat until cream holds soft peaks.

Line the sides of the springform pan with parchment paper, feel free to use bakers tape on the exterior side of the parchment paper to keep the paper together.

Fold in whipped cream mixture into the hazelnut mixture in the saucepan until well combined. Spoon filling onto shortbread base in pan, gently smoothing top with an offset spatula.

Cover and chill in a freezer for 2-3 hours or until center is firm to the touch.

Make ganache and glaze cake:
After mousse if firm… Bring cream to a simmer in a small heavy saucepan and remove from heat. Slowly and with even distribution, add chocolate pieces. When chocolate has begun to melt into the cream, slowly whisk until completely melted and smooth.  Allow ganache to chill for 15 minutes before pouring over chilled mouse.

Add any garnish, sliced strawberries, raspberries, chopped hazelnut, etc.

Place covered mouse back into freezer or refrigerator for 45 minutes to an hour before serving.  For a firmer, easier to serve mouse, use the freezer.

Release springform sides from the cake base and peel parchment paper from the sides of the cake. Using the tab from the parchment paper, pull the cake from the springform base and onto a serving plate.

Slice cake with a chilled knife, cleaning blade between each piece.

Cake and a Movie Night

Each week I have friends over for a cake and a movie.  Most of those who come over are from my wonderful group of Twitter friends.

We watch movies, all sorts really but normally not the ones you’ve already seen. Independent films, foreign films, sha know, good movies.

We’ve had a few different cakes, traditional, fudge, frozen, mousse… I think the next one will be Crème brûlée. Yeah yeah. It’s not a cake, I get that. Whatever, it’s delicious.

This is what we had last night for Cake and a Movie night, or #CaaM on the Twitters.

I made the same thing for the previous movie, Happy Together by Wong Kar-wai, but this time I didn’t rush anything and it came out even better.

Last night we watched Ghostown. It was an awesome movie and the first feature film for #CaaM.  Of course, it wasn’t a usual #CaaM night, instead of Twitter peeps, it was my grandmother, our client and Ryan.

Want the recipe for the cake? I’ll give that to you later. 😉

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We’re All Going To Die

That’s what the weather casters are saying and the people of Houston and South East Texas are figuring.  Why?  Cause of some measly little storm… (Which I captured with Jing, woot woot)

Yeah, that doesn’t scare me. I’ve been through worse and I’m pretty sure this is just another way that someone is trying to ruin my birthday week. Yes, birthday week cause A) I’m that cool B) Cause I like to party. Tomorrow is when the family is getting together to shower me with their love and adoration and the day I get to break the diet for a chocolate and raspberry truffle cake.

No tropical storm or hurricane can take that away from me!

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