Sweet Little Spaceman

spaceman cookie set

spaceman cake

Oh dear, the summer definitely came, and in a blink turned into crinkly yellow leaves flitting around the sidewalk. Darn it! There were so many bright, hopeful happy color creations I could have blogged about, if only the manufactured “beach” smell of off brand sunscreen and preschoolers running too close to the pool weren’t distracting me….

spaceman cookie set

So I come to you now a few projects behind but I can affirm that this little spaceman set is right off the presses! Just as soon as school started, a friend asked for help celebrating her 5-year-old son’s mid-September birthday with a blast of stars, creepy aliens, planets and flamed out rockets.

star

 I made a cake to match with a dreamy whipped milk chocolate ganache. The milder bite milk chocolate provides was perfect for kids and adults alike. I may never go back to my pure semi-sweet roots!

cake with cookies

My go-to chocolate cake recipe (a Martha Stewart one bowl standby) and the milk chocolate ganache, compliments of Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible, are listed below. Mmmmmmm is all I can say. Do try the milk chocolate ganache! Ganache is easy and now ever-pleasing for regular dessert folks like my husband, who will take a chewy fudge brownie or a rice crispie treat any day over a meticulously iced sugar cookie. His loss. At least he looks at them and compliments them appropriately. So we’re fine.

green aliens

He really liked these one-eye-ers. Me too. The green is captivating.

all spacemen

And then there was a sea of little Logan the astronaut. Adorbs. I can say that now without flinching. It’s in the dictionary, lol.

earth cookies

Logan saw the earth and the moon, up close and far away. And he had the stars in his eyes because the day was all for him. Good childhood stuff!

 moon cookies

One-Bowl Chocolate Cake

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook
(makes approx. 24 cupcakes or a 3-layer 8 inch cake – recipe doubled for cake pictured)

2 ½ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
¾ cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
2 ½ cups sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
2 large whole eggs, plus 1 large egg yolk
1 ¼ cups milk
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ¼ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups warm water

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2.  Line two standard 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners or place parchment paper rounds in 3 8-by-2 inch round cake pans, then coat with baking spray.

3.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, or large mixing bowl; sift together the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

4.  Attach bowl to mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and add the eggs, yolk, milk, oil, vanilla and warm water. Beat on low speed until smooth and combined, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed

5.  FOR CUPCAKES: Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling each about two-thirds full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, approximately 20-25 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Then remove the cupcakes from the pans and allow to cool completely. Frost as desired.

6.  FOR LAYER CAKE: Divide batter evenly among the greased cake pans (I use a kitchen scale). Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, approximately 40-45 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack and allow to cool Invert the cakes onto the rack and then immediately re-invert the cakes, allowing them to cool completely, top sides up. Frost as desired.

Light Whipped Milk Chocolate Ganache

Adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s, The Cake Bible
(enough to fill and frost two 8×2 inch layers – recipe doubled for the cake pictured)

12 ounces milk chocolate (bar, chips or disks)
9 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (bar, chips or disks – I use the big Costco bag)
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
¾ teaspoon vanilla

1.  Microwave the cream in a measuring cup on high until bubbling, about 1 ½ minutes. (Or, bring to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat).

2.  Pulse both chocolates in a food processor until very finely ground.

3.  With the machine running, gradually add the hot cream through the feed tube and process until smooth and thickened, for 3 minutes (this is important to ensure the ganache is perfectly smooth).

4.  Transfer the ganache to a medium bowl and cool in the refrigerator for 2 hours, stirring once or twice. Do not let the mixture get too cold or it will be too stiff to incorporate air.

5.  Once the mixture reaches the correct consistency, add the vanilla and beat the mixture with a hand or the paddle attachment of a stand mixer just until very soft peaks form. Do not overbeat. Conduct final mixing by hand with a whisk.

6.  If the mixture is overbeaten and grainy, it can be restored by remelting, chilling and rebeating.

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