|Top: Rich, moist white cake filled with fudgey chocolate filling and ganache frosting. |
Topped with buttercream roses.
Bottom: Lizzy Bee's brownies and orange butter cookies (a sleeper hit!)
Now onto ideas for graduation! If you're not ordering from the bakery, but are looking to bake at home, you'll need some finger foods to get your guests moving and mingling. Here are a few ideas that are easy to pick up and enjoy:
Black and White Cupcakes
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons milk
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- MAKE THE CUPCAKES Preheat the oven to 350° and line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. In a bowl, whisk the flour with the cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and baking soda. In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, then beat in the sour cream and vanilla until smooth. At low speed, beat in the dry ingredients. Scoop the batter into the lined muffin cups.
- Bake the cupcakes in the center of the oven for about 17 minutes, until springy and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let cool slightly in the pan, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
- MEANWHILE, MAKE THE FROSTING In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until smooth. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, salt and 2 tablespoons of the milk and beat at low speed just until combined, then beat at medium speed until smooth. Scrape half of the vanilla frosting into a medium bowl. Add the cocoa powder and the remaining 2 tablespoons of milk to the frosting in the large bowl and beat at low speed until fully incorporated.
- Lay a large sheet of plastic wrap on a work surface with the long side facing you. Using a small spatula, spread the vanilla frosting in a 3-inch-wide strip down the center of the plastic wrap. Spread the chocolate frosting in a 3-inch-wide strip alongside the vanilla. Using the plastic, fold the chocolate frosting over the vanilla, twisting one end of the plastic to seal. Pull the twisted end of the plastic through a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip and cut off the protruding plastic at the tip. Refrigerate the frosting until barely firm, about 15 minutes. Pipe onto the cupcakes and serve.
Caramel Crumb Bars
- 20 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
- 2 1⁄2 cups flour, plus more for pan
- 1⁄2 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
- 1⁄4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 tbsp. light corn syrup
- 1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
- Heat oven to 350°. Line a 9" x 13" baking sheet with parchment paper; grease and flour.
- In a mixer fitted with a paddle, beat together 16 tbsp. butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt until fluffy. Add 2 1⁄4 cups flour; mix. Transfer 3⁄4 dough to pan; press into bottom; chill.
- Rub remaining dough and flour into large crumbles; set aside.
- Combine remaining butter, brown sugar, syrup, and milk in a 2-qt. saucepan. Cook, stirring, over medium-high heat to make caramel, 8–10 minutes.
- Pour over dough; scatter crumbles over top.
- Bake until golden, 25–30 minutes. Let cool. Cut into bars.
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (64% to 66% cacao), melted
- 1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 extra-large eggs, separated, at room temperature
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- Invert a baking sheet and spray it with nonstick cooking spray. Line the top with parchment paper. With an offset spatula, spread the melted chocolate evenly across the parchment. Place the baking sheet in the freezer until firm, approximately 30 minutes.
- Lightly coat a quarter sheet (9 by 13-inch) pan or glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and line with parchment paper, leaving 1 inch of overhang on the long sides.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter on medium speed for 5 to 10 seconds. Add the granulated sugar and beat the butter mixture until it is aerated, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together.
- Add the water and vanilla to the egg yolks. On medium speed, add the yolks, one at a time, mixing briefly until the batter resembles cottage cheese, approximately 5 seconds per yolk. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together. Mix on medium speed for 20 to 30 seconds to make it nearly homogeneous.
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Add the flour mixture all at once and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together but still looks shaggy, approximately 30 seconds. Do not overmix. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer. With a plastic bench scraper, bring the dough completely together by hand.
- Transfer the dough to the prepared pan. Using a rubber spatula and then your fingertips, press the dough into the corners of the pan and smooth the surface.
- Remove the chocolate from the freezer and break it up into shards. Scatter the chocolate shards across the surface of the dough and then press into the dough. Cover the top with plastic wrap, pressing down through the plastic to smooth down the top. Refrigerate until the dough is set, at least 20 minutes or overnight. (If refrigerating the dough overnight, refrigerate the egg whites as well, letting them come to room temperature before proceeding with the meringue.)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and a pinch of kosher salt on medium speed until frothy, approximately 45 seconds. Add the brown sugar and whip on medium-high speed until shiny peaks form and the meringue holds its shape, 2 to 3 minutes. Spread the meringue evenly over the chilled dough.
- Bake, rotating the pan halfway through the baking process, until the meringue resembles a lightly toasted marshmallow, 23 to 25 minutes. It will start to crack on the sides but should still be slightly soft in the center, and the shortbread should be cooked through but still pale-not golden brown. (Do not overbake or the shortbread will be too crumbly to cut.) Cool completely in the pan. Once cool, refrigerate until chilled.
- Lift the bars out of the pan using the parchment handles and transfer to a cutting board. Cut the bars lengthwise into 3 strips. Cut the bars crosswise into 10 strips to make small, rectangular bars. Serve the bars at room temperature.