Sometimes winter comes overnight.
Last Saturday morning I was sitting in a cafe; I was seated next to a window and I was starring at a blue sky with a few cotton candy clouds and I tried to understand that it was already the end of November. It felt more like an early spring day but not like a late fall day. There were no foggy November days which I like a lot. I tried to come to terms with the fact that Christmas season is around the corner but I could not. Later that day I went to the farmers' market - wearing a trenchcoat and my favorite pair of ballerinas - and the thought of the holiday season seemed even more absurd.
Little did I know that the next morning I would wake up to snow. All of a sudden it became winter. The rooftops, trees and streets were covered with snow and it was continuously snowing throughout the day. I grapped my winter coat and I went out for a long walk in the woods. It was so so quiet outside; I only heard the sound of the snow under my feet as I was pacing along the paths in the woods.
While strolling around the forest - immersed in my own thoughts - cake was on my mind, too. Inspired by the lighly snow covered trees and the predominantly green, brown and white colors of the woods, I created little spice layer cakes with a cream cheese frosting and decorated the cake with little Dala horses which I made out of marzipan (colored with matcha powder). I am very pleased with my cake creation: they does not only look adorable but they are incredible tasty. I was contemplating making a mascarpone filling instead of a cream cheese filling but I think the cream cheese filling goes so well with the spice cake. I have been making this spice cake (I usually use a loaf pan instead of making little cakes) every Christmas season since I was 11 years old. I used a cookie cutter to make these marzipan horses. These horses are called dalahäster (Dala horses) which are a symbol of Sweden. Most of the time I use my dalahäst cookie cutter during the holiday season, in particular when making Swedish gingersnap cookies (it is one of my favorite recipes on the blog).
I had a lot of joy making these petite layer cakes. I hope you will enjoy making them as much as I did. Happy winter time and bon appétit.
Makes 6 to 8 mini cakes
- 100 g / 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, soft
- 125 g / 1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 100 g / 2/3 cup hazelnuts, finely grated
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 pinch of cloves, ginger, cardamon
- 125 g / 1 cup and 4 tablespoons pastry flour or 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 tablespoon rum
- 2 tablespoons yogurt
- Preheat the oven to 175 °C / 350 °F.
- Grease and flour a muffin tin.
- Beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add vanilla sugar or extract and eggs. Mix until all ingredients are well combined.
- Mix finely grated hazelnuts, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, cardamon and baking powder in a separate bowl.
- Add flour-spice mixture, rum and yogurt to the butter-egg mixture. Stir until well combined.
- Fill the cake batter 2/3 full into the muffin cups.
- Bake cakes for 20 to 25 minutes or if you insert a toothpick and it comes out clear the cakes are done.
- Let the cakes cool completely.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 225 g / 1 cup / 8 ounces cream cheese (full fat), room temperature
- 125 g / 1 stick butter and 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (cut into cubes), soft
- 125 g / 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Make sure that the cream cheese and the butter are at room temperature.
- Place the cream cheese in a bowl. Beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add little by little the butter cubes and beat until the mixture is smooth.
- Gradually add powdered sugar (make sure it is sifted) and mix until smooth. Add vanilla extract and mix well again.
- 25 g / 1 1/2 tablespoons marzipan
- Matcha powder or green food coloring
- Powdered sugar
- Knead a little bit of matcha powder or a little bit of green food coloring into the marzipan.
- Sprinkle your workspace with powdered sugar and roll out the marzipan. Cut out horses, hearts, et cetera with a cookie cutter.
- Cut mini cakes into three even layers (if your cakes have little "bumps", slice off the "bump").
- Spread the cream cheese frosting on each cake layer. Decorate the top of each cake with marzipan. Let the cakes set at room temperature.
- Store the cakes in the refrigerator.