Category Archives: Birthday

Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookie Bars

Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookie Bars​

I’ve had these Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookie Bars photos in my drafts for a long time—since September—waiting for the perfect time to post them. Fall was mostly spent getting back in the swing of things after my self-imposed break, and then there were the holidays, and then the post-holiday malaise. The Super Bowl or Valentine’s Day would have been a perfect time to post these, but I *just* posted those Vanilla Sour Cream Cupcakes and…

…well, there’s just never going to be a perfect time, is there? Or maybe anytime is a perfect time? I don’t know. This is confusing.

What I do know is that these Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookie Bars are spectacular. They’re a riff on my Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies (which are a riff on Lofthouse Cookies), but they’re bars, ya know? The cookie layer is thick and a little cakey; perfect for pairing with a thick layer of Vanilla Sour Cream Frosting! I made mine pink because pink food just tastes better, as does anything with way too many sprinkles on top.

Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookie Bars​

These are a great dessert for a multitude of occasions and non-occasions alike. Might I recommend this three day weekend in the middle of February? Seems like a perfect time to me.

Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookie Bars​
Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookie Bars
makes 1 9x13-inch pan (24 bars)

Dough:
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream (not fridge-cold)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For Decorating:
Vanilla Sour Cream Frosting (recipe below)
sprinkles of choice

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9x13-inch pan (or quarter sheet pan) with butter. Line with parchment, leaving some overhang on the long sides, and butter again. Set aside

Make the dough. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, confectioner’s sugars, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in sugar until creamy. Mix in egg, followed by sour cream and vanilla. Add dry ingredients in 2 installments, beating until combined. Dough will be sticky.

Drop large spoonfuls of dough into the prepared pan, make sure to use it all. Use an offset icing spatula or the back of a spoon to spread dough in an even layer to the edges of the pan.

Transfer the pan to the oven and bake 23-25 minutes, until the edges are turning golden and the center has puffed. Let bars cool completely in the pan on a rack. Meanwhile, make the Vanilla Sour Cream Frosting (recipe below).

Once the bars are cool, run a thin flexible knife along all the edges to release them from the pan. Use the parchment overhang to transfer them to a cutting board or other surface. Drop spoonfuls of the frosting over the top of the bars. Use an offset icing spatula or the back of a spoon to spread it evenly to the edges. Finish with your sprinkles of choice.

For the cleanest slices, refrigerate the assembled bars for at least 20 minutes before slicing into 24 pieces with a large, sharp chef’s knife.

After they’ve crusted, leftovers may be layered with wax or parchment paper and kept in an airtight container. They will keep at room temperature for a couple of days or in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Vanilla Sour Cream Frosting

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 pound (3 3/4 cups) confectioner's sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons heavy cream
food coloring, if desired

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Add confectioner’s sugar and salt in two installments, combining completely after each addition. Beat in vanilla, sour cream & food coloring (if using) nuntil combined.

Use buttercream to frost Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookie Bars.
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Vanilla Sour Cream Cupcakes

For the first few years I had this blog, I resisted writing cupcake recipes. It wasn’t for any particularly good reason—just that I think making layer cakes is easier. Also, I really hate washing cupcake pans.

Vanilla Sour Cream Cupcakes​

But then the pandemic came, and suddenly nobody needed a layer cake recipe (unless it was tiny), so I got over myself and started making cupcakes. And you know what? I love it. Cupcakes are so much fun to bake (and eat), and they’re pretty dang convenient in situations where you don’t have a knife on hand, which is (ideally) most situations.

Vanilla Sour Cream Cupcakes​

Today’s cupcake recipe isn’t new—it’s been on here plenty of times. Usually it’s all jazzed up with creatively administered food coloring or surprises hidden inside, both of which are fine and good…but sometimes you just need some no-frills vanilla cupcakes. Vanilla Sour Cream Cupcakes to be exact.

Vanilla Sour Cream Cupcakes​

I mean, what’s better than vanilla cupcakes? Made with sour cream, the cakes themselves are soft and buttery, and just dense enough not to disintegrate when their papers are pulled away. The frosting has sour cream in it too, which gives just the slightest tangy finish. It’s super rich and delicious—perfect for spreading into thick blankets over the cupcakes. Oh, and the double dose of vanilla flavor? Out of this world.

The sprinkles? Well, they’re technically optional. We’re going for a plain vanilla cupcake recipe, after all. But as with nearly all “plain vanilla” things around here, there’s no reason simple has to mean boring.

Vanilla Sour Cream Cupcakes
makes 14-16 cupcakes

1/2 cup milk, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Frosting & Garnish:
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons full-fat sour cream (or heavy cream)
sprinkles, for garnish (optional)

Make the cupcakes. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with cupcake liners. Set aside.

Combine milk and sour cream a liquid measuring cup, then use a fork to whisk them together. Set aside.

In a small-medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Beat in sugar. Add eggs one at a time, combining completely after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Mix in half the dry ingredients, followed by half the milk/sour cream. Add the remaining dry ingredients followed by the remaining milk/sour cream.

Fill liners 2/3-3/4 full. Tap full pan on the counter five times before baking for 18-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Make the frosting. If you are piping, you may need to double the recipe. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Add confectioner’s sugar and salt in two installments, combining completely after each addition. Beat in vanilla & sour cream until combined.

Frost and decorate cupcakes. Use an offset icing spatula (or piping bag) to frost filled cupcakes. Scatter sprinkles over the tops, if using. Serve.

Cupcakes will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.

Neapolitan Icebox Cake

Neapolitan Icebox Cake​

Beautifully baked, elaborately frosted layer cakes are all fine and good, but have you ever skipped the oven entirely, stacked Oreos with three different flavors of whipped cream, let the whole thing set up in the fridge and called it a cake?

Neapolitan Icebox Cake​

Oh yes, Neapolitan Icebox Cake is where it’s at. This triple-layered, triple-flavored no-bake cake hits all the buttons you want in a summer dessert, including keeping the kitchen cool. Even mixing vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry whipped creams, it takes less than 45 minutes to assemble and slide into the fridge to set up.

There are two secrets to perfecting this icebox cake. The first is dipping each Oreo in milk before assembling the cake. This allows the cookies to soften all the way through by adding moisture to the creme centers. If you skip the dipping, you will still be able to slice the cake, but the areas near the Oreos’ creme filling will stay a bit tough instead of softening to a cake-like texture.

Neapolitan Icebox Cake​

As with all icebox cakes, the second secret is time! Though it only takes minutes to assemble, this cake has to be refrigerated for at least 8 hours before serving. Luckily, we here at E2 Bakes love a make-ahead recipe almost as much as we love cake. And that’s really saying something because we love cake a lot.

Neapolitan Icebox Cake​
Neapolitan Icebox Cake
makes one cake ~9 inch cake

1 batch chocolate whipped cream (recipe below)
55-60 regular Oreos, divided (I used 57)
~1 cup milk
1 batch vanilla whipped cream (recipe below)
1 batch strawberry whipped cream

For garnish (optional):
Chocolate Shell
crushed freeze dried strawberries
crushed Oreos

Use an offset icing spatula to smear a thin layer of chocolate whipped cream onto a 11-12 inch round plate or platter.

Create the first Oreo layer. Take one Oreo, dunk it in milk, then place it in the center of the plate. Repeat this process, arranging the Oreos so that they are touching and make a vaguely circular shape (mine is technically a hexagon). I used 19 Oreos per layer.

Top the first layer with the chocolate whipped cream, spreading it all the way to the edges.

Repeat the Oreo dunking and arranging process. Top with the vanilla whipped cream. Repeat the Oreo dunking and arranging one more time, then top with the strawberry whipped cream.

Refrigerate the cake uncovered for 2 hours. Then, gently cover the cake with plastic wrap and let refrigerate for 6-20 more hours, until ready to serve.

About 30 minutes before serving, gently remove and discard the plastic wrap. Drizzle the cake with chocolate shell and other toppings, if desired. Refrigerate the cake for 10 more minutes to ensure a hard shell.

To serve, cut slices with a large, sharp chef’s knife, wiping it clean between cuts. Leftovers will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours. The freeze dried strawberry garnish will soften over time.


Chocolate Whipped Cream

1 1/3 cup heavy cream, very cold
2 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar

In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream, cocoa powder and confectioner’s sugar. Use an electric mixer to whip cream until stiff peaks form. Do not over whip (but if you do, just add a little more cream). Store in the refrigerator until needed for cake assembly.

Vanilla Whipped Cream

1 1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 confectioner’s sugar

In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream, vanilla, and confectioner’s sugar. Use an electric mixer to whip cream until stiff peaks form. Do not over whip (but if you do, just add a little more cream). Store in the refrigerator until needed for cake assembly.

Strawberry Whipped Cream

~2/3 cup freeze dried strawberries
1 1/3 cup heavy cream, very cold
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

Place freeze dried strawberries in a food processor and process until they are powder, about 45-60 seconds. Alternatively, place the berries in a sealed zip-top bag and crush well with a rolling pin or other heavy object.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream, vanilla, confectioner’s sugar, and pulverized berries. Use an electric mixer to whip cream until stiff peaks form. Do not over whip (but if you do, just add a little more cream). Store in the refrigerator until needed for cake assembly.

Tie-Dye Cupcakes

Tie-Dye Cupcakes

While all of us were inside last year, tie-dye made a huge comeback. It’s a fun and easy way to augment clothes, towels, bedsheets or anything else that will absorb color. Why not take that same bright & twisty aesthetic and apply it to dessert?! We’re talking colorful little cups of cake and clouds of vanilla buttercream with technicolor details. They’re fun and funky, and summery as all get-out!

You’ve seen these cupcakes on here before, but never like this. The base is my favorite vanilla sour cream cupcake batter which has been everything from yellow with Nutella Buttercream to spiked with honey and finished with candy corn to marbled with a streak of red velvet to dolled up for the Easter bunny. Today’s version might be my favorite variation of all. Tie-Dye Cupcakes are beautiful to look at and incredibly fun to make.

Start by mixing together the batter and dividing it into four bowls. Grab a few of your favorite shades of food coloring and dye each bowl of batter a different color. A word to the wise that gel food coloring makes for richer colors and doesn’t threaten to add too much liquid to your batter. That said, if liquid is what you have on hand, use it!

Once your batter is dyed, spoon the colors into your cupcake pans. There are no hard and fast rules on how to do this, except to get all the colors in each cup and only up to 2/3-3/4 full. I like to give mine a little swirl with a skewer before baking, but this is strictly optional. After you’ve got all your batters in your pans, bake your cupcakes and let them cool.

Tie-Dye Cupcakes

Next up: frosting! These swirly-twirly colorful plumes of buttercream may look intimidating, but they are just regular old vanilla buttercream with a little food coloring. Where most colorful frosting recipes ask you to whip the dye directly into the mix, I take a different approach here.

Before the buttercream is loaded into the piping bag, it’s rolled up in a piece of plastic wrap that has been painted with lines of gel food coloring, then formed into a log. I found it easiest to divide the frosting in half for this step. Once rolled, one end of the log is trimmed off before the whole kit and caboodle is placed in the piping bag and then…well, it’s piping business as usual. You know, except for the part where each cupcake looks different and the edges of the frosting are bright and beautiful!

Tie-Dye Cupcakes

It goes without saying that Tie-Dye Cupcakes are delicious, but let’s be real: these are all about aesthetics. They’re so fun—perfect for summer get-togethers, birthdays, or any occasion that could use a pop (or four) of color and a really spectacular bit of vanilla cake.

Tie-Dye Cupcakes
Tie-Dye Cupcakes
makes 12-14 cupcakes

Cupcakes:
1/2 cup milk, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 food colorings of choice (I used gel)

Frosting:
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons heavy cream
4 food colorings of choice (I used the same gels from the cake)

Special Equipment:
plastic wrap
food-safe paintbrushes
piping bag with a tip and coupler

Make the cupcakes. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with cupcake liners. Set aside.

Combine milk and sour cream a liquid measuring cup, then use a fork to whisk them together. Set aside.

In a small-medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Beat in sugar. Add eggs one at a time, combining completely after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Mix in half the dry ingredients, followed by half the milk/sour cream. Add the remaining dry ingredients followed by the remaining milk/sour cream.

Divide batter into four small bowls (about 2/3-3/4 cup batter in each). Add a different food coloring to each one and stir with forks to distribute the color (I used 5 drops each pink, blue, green and yellow gel).

To achieve the tie-dye effect, spoon a heaping 1/2 tablespoon of each color into each liner, adjusting as needed, until each one is 2/3-3/4 full. Tap full pan on the counter five times before baking cupcakes for 18-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Make the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Add confectioner’s sugar and salt in two installments, combining completely after each addition. Beat in vanilla & heavy cream until combined. Set aside.

Lay 2 14-16-inch long pieces of plastic wrap on a surface. On each one, use paintbrushes to paint parallel 6-inch stripes of each color of food coloring about 1/2-inch apart. The food coloring may bead on the surface of the plastic wrap—this is okay.

Top each set of stripes with half the frosting. Working with one assemblage of frosting/food coloring/ plastic wrap at a time, use the plastic wrap to roll and manipulate the frosting into a log shape with food coloring stripes going down all sides. Twist the ends of the plastic wrap so that the log looks like a piece of old-fashioned candy. Repeat this process with the other assemblage.

Working with one log of frosting at a time, trim one end and place the wrapped log trimmed-end-down in a piping bag fitted with a tip. Twist the piping bag closed and pipe frosting onto the cupcakes. Repeat trimming process with the second log of frosting when needed.

Serve cupcakes. Leftovers will keep covered at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 4.
Tie-Dye Cupcakes
Tie-Dye Cupcakes

Friday Favorites: Birthday Cake

Friday Favorites: Birthday Cake​

My birthday is tomorrow, so let’s talk birthday cake! From elaborate layer cakes to ice cream cakes to marble cupcakes to cookie cakes, the cake you choose to have at your birthday celebration is highly personal. Some people have the same thing every year. Others, myself included, like to change it up. No matter which camp you fall into, I have loads of cake recipes for you in my archives. Here are some of my absolute favorites.

Friday Favorites: Birthday Cake​

Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}

While feeling homesick on my birthday last year, I decided to recreate a Swiss-style Black Forest Cake that is hugely popular in my hometown. You won’t find any cherries or chocolate cake here, just layers of airy almond dacquoise, whipped cream and dark chocolate. It also happens to be naturally gluten-free and so, so good. I’ll be having the real deal for my birthday this year (lucky me!), but this homemade version hits the spot if you’re not near Fort Worth, Texas.

Friday Favorites: Birthday Cake​

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cake

Who doesn’t love ice cream cake? This one is simple as can be, starting with sandwiching mint chocolate chip ice cream with two layers of chocolate cake, then finishing it with whipped cream and anything else you like! Feel free to change up the ice cream flavor or just use this as a template and change the recipe completely. There is no wrong way to ice cream cake.

Friday Favorites: Birthday Cake​

Funfetti Cookie Cupcakes

When I was a kid, all the best birthday parties involved cookie cake. The same is true as an adult. I have Brown Butter Chocolate Chip, Chocolate M&Ms and Red Velvet Cookie Cakes in my archives, but this almost-36 year-old could really go for these colorful, miniature Funfetti Cookie Cupcakes right now!

Friday Favorites: Birthday Cake​

Red Velvet Marble Cupcakes

We all know a red velvet person. I usually save it for Oscar Night, but I think these Red Velvet Marble Cupcakes would fit the bill for birthdays too!

Friday Favorites: Birthday Cake​

Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cake

This chocolate cake is a thing to behold. Made with all vegan, gluten-free ingredients and stacked tall with vegan chocolate buttercream, it might just surprise you and become a favorite.

Friday Favorites: Birthday Cake​

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Something about Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting screams “birthday” to so many people. Mine is made with very good things like sour cream and brown sugar, mixed using the reverse creaming method, and finished with an irresistible chocolate frosting.

Friday Favorites: Birthday Cake​

How to Make Mini Layer Cakes

Not quite ready to start celebrating with larger groups yet? A mini layer cake might be the perfect solution! This tutorial has everything you need to make a birthday cake for 4-6 people.

Friday Favorites: Birthday Cake​

M&Ms Surprise Cake

This is the cake for that person in your life who’s a little extra. The one who likes all the bells and whistles and would enjoy slicing into a cake full of candy—this cake is for that person. Also? Hi, I’m that person.

Have you made these or any of my other chocolate chip treats? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

Friday Favorites: Birthday Cake​