Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Special Occassion Cakes

Graduation season is upon us and in my family that means birthday season as well. With all of the special events coming up, Yvonne and I decided to get together this weekend and focus on special occassion cakes.

My son, Nick, will be graduating from High School this week so I wanted to develop a recipe for a Strawberries & Cream cake. Nick loves lighter desserts, especially those made with fresh strawberries and whipped cream so I thought a light & airy vanilla cake with a vanilla cream and strawberry filling and a light whipped cream cheese frosting would be a perfect dessert for his Graduation dinner. Since this cake requires several different components, I decided to make things easier on myself and take a short cut using a boxed mix. I am normally not a fan of boxed cake mixes (and sometimes making a cake from scratch is just as easy), but believe me, with the simple addition I made to the cake batter paired with the vanilla cream and fresh strawberry filling, this cake did not taste like it came out of a box at all. Both fillings are very versatile and can be used for a wide varienty of cakes. In fact, I also made a homemade Strawberry Cake this weekend for my son Chris's birthday and used the same strawberry filling and whipped cream cheese frosting recipes to make it extra special.

Yvonne was inspired by her recent trip to Hong Kong where she enjoyed the sights, sounds and flavors of Asia.

Her Asian inspiration cake is a moist and delicious Green Tea Cake paired with a light-as-air Raspberry Mousse Filling and tangy Green Tea Cream Cheese Frosting. The unique flavor of the green tea paired with the delicious raspberry filling definitely makes this cake worthy of any special occassion. Yvonne's cake truly captures the flavor and beauty of Asia.

Green Tea Cake w/Raspberry Mousse Filling and Green Tea Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from All Recipes
Makes one 8" Cake, Serves 10-12 people

Note: Make the Raspberry Mousse and Green Tea frosting before baking the cake since they both need to cool/set. Both can be made a day ahead.

Cake Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons green tea powder
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup plain yogurt at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Mousse Ingredients:
10 oz frozen raspberries
1 cup sugar
1 package unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

Frosting Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 teaspoons green tea powder
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
6 ounces of cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 teaspoons heavy cream

Cake Directions:

Preheat oven to 350

Grease and flour two 8" round cake pans

Sift both of the flours, the baking powder, salt and green tea powder together into a medium bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat together the sugar, oil and eggs at medium speed until smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract.

Beat in the flour mixture, alternating with the yogurt , mixing just until incorporated.

Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans.

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Place pans on wire rack to cool for 30 minutes, then remove from cake pans and allow to cool completely.

Make the Raspberry Mousse:

Place the frozen raspberries, sugar and unflavored gelatin in a saucepan and simmer over medium heat until the raspberries break down and the mixture thickens. Strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove seeds. Allow mixture to cool.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, whip heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the cooled raspberry mixture. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Mousse is best used the same day it is made, but will last as a filling in cake for 2-3 days.

Make the frosting:

Sift the powdered sugar and green tea powder together into a large bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla and cream. Start mixer on low speed to incorporate the powdered sugar then increase speed and mix until ingredients are well incorporated. Refrigerate frosting for 30-40 minutes to set. Remove and check consistency before frosting your cake. If you prefer a thicker consistency, returm frosting to the mixing bowl and mix in more powdered sugar until you reach your desired consistency.

Assemble the cake:

Cut each cooled cake evenly in half, making a total of 4 layers. Place the bottom layer on a cake stand and top with 1/3 of the mousse. Repeat the layers.

Spread the frosting on the outside of the cake and decorate as desired. Yvonne decorated her cake with a traditional cherry blossom pattern. So pretty!

Take a look at the inside of the cake. Aren't the colors gorgeous?

Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Note: This is the brand of Green Tea used in this recipe. It can be found at Whole Foods.

Strawberries & Cream Cake
Adapted from Un deux sens
Makes one 8" or 9" cake, serves 10-12 people

Cake Ingredients:
1 box Super Moist Vanilla Cake Mix w/pudding in mix
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Vanilla Pastry Cream Ingredients:
1 small box (3 oz size) instant vanilla pudding
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Fresh Strawberry Filling
1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Whipped Cream Icing Ingredients:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream

Decorations: Chocolate Covered Strawberries, 2 containers of Pepperidge Farm Pirouette cookies (I used vanilla).


Preheat oven to 350

Grease and flour two 9" cake pans

Prepare cake mix according to directions but add in 1 tsp vanilla bean paste. Bake according to package directions and allow to cool.

Prepare the fillings:

Strawberry Filling

Place 3/4 cup of the strawberries, the water, sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch in a medium sauce pan. Cook over low heat until strawberries break down and the mixture is thickened. Fold in the remaning sliced strawberries. Remove from heat and allow to cool. The mixture should be a thick spreadable consistency. Place in refrigerator and allow to chill until ready to use.

Vanilla Cream Filling:

Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until thickened. Place in refrigerator and allow to chill for approx 30 minutes. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Prepare Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting:

Place the softened cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla in  a large mixing bowl. Using an electric hand mixer, mix on low speed until the powdered is incorporated then increase speed to medium and continue mixing until light and fluffy. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. You want the whip cream to be nice and stiff but don't overbeat.

Add the cream cheese mixer to the bowl with the whipped cream and whip for a few seconds to incorporate. Chill until ready to use.

Assemble the cake:

Place the first layer on a cake stand. Pipe a small border of frosting around the top of the cake to act as a border for the filling. Spread half of the vanilla pastry cream in an even layer inside the border then top with the strawberries filling.

Place the second cake layer on top. Spread the remaining vanilla pastry cream on top.

Frost the sides of the cake and immediately place the cut Pierette cookies around the sides. Dollop some of the frosting on top and spread being careful not to disturb the pastry cream.

Decorate the top of the cake with the chocolate covered strawberries and some crushed up cookies. Wrap with a ribbon and tie a bow if desired.

Place cake in the refrigerator for 1 hour to set before serving. Leftovers should be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.


  1. Wow, both of these cakes are spectacular, very unique, delicious sounding/looking and beautiful - can you tell I like them? :)

    1. We love that you like them! We had a lot of fun making them and hope you'll give them a try.

  2. Both of these cakes are so beautiful! Sometimes you just gotta do what works best, and if that's a cake mix, so what? The decoration puts them a step above the rest, plus the green tea in the first one is such a great idea. Congrats to your son (and his proud mom)!

  3. Thank you! My son was so excited when he saw your comment. I think he even took a screen shot and posted it on FB : )

  4. Both cakes are beautiful. The green tea cake is so unusual and it makes my mouth water to think about it. Did you serve it with green tea ice cream too?

    1. Oooh, Green Tea ice cream...now there's a thought! Great idea!