When you find a recipe you LOVE, use that same recipe for 4 different delicious desserts! These desserts will work with any cake batter but I’m using a tiny batch of my Perfect Chocolate Cake. It makes the moistest cake that’s not too sweet.
For a glaze, filling AND frosting I’m using ganache which is delicious, super easy to make and only uses two ingredients. These recipes, which can be used to make any of the four desserts below, are at the bottom of this page.
#1 Baked Donuts
For the first dessert, spoon your cake batter into a piping bag. (t’s easiest to do this by lowering the bag into a glass and folding the top over the rim to hold it open.
Grease a silicon donut mold with an oil spray and pipe the batter into the donut rings. Keep in mind that these will rise so don’t overfill them or they’ll cover up the signature hole in the middle as they bake.
Donuts bake at 375F or 190C for 14-18 minutes depending on the batter. Let them cool until the mold has cooled slightly, enough to pick up and push through the silicon mold to get the donuts out. The donuts will definitely crumble and fall apart if you don't grease the mold so don't skip that step!
Make ganache by following the recipe below. Let it cool for a few minutes and then pour it into a wide, shallow bowl. It will be runny and this is the perfect consistency for a donut glaze.
Dunk the donuts in the ganache and twist them a few times to coat the top surface. Then flip them over onto a wire rack to let the excess drip off. If you want to sprinkle them with any toppings or sprinkles, do that now while the ganache is still soft and sticky.
Quick shortcut tip: if you want to bake these in advance, freeze them in a ziplock bag for up to a month before you glaze them and they’ll stay perfectly fresh!
You can use the same cake batter recipe to make cupcakes instead. Use an ice cream scoop to fill cupcake wrappers without making a mess. Aim to fill them up 3/4 full so that they don’t overflow and bulge out to make big muffin tops when they bake. Cupcakes bake for between 15 and 19 minutes at 375F or 190C.
While they bake, whip the cooled ganache until your whisk or mixer leaves a trail behind as it mixes and stiff peaks form.
Transfer the whipped ganache into a piping bag fitted with a star shaped tip like a 1M tip. Once the cupcakes cool, pipe a swirl onto the top of each one.
#3 Mini Cake
To bake a cake instead, use this recipe to make a three-layer 4" cake. Grease three 4” pans and divide the batter between them.
When the cakes have cooled, use a serrated knife to trim the tops to level them. This will make it easier to assemble a straight cake that doesn't lean, which will be prettier and also more stable.
Place the first layer of cake onto a plate, attaching it with a dot of whipped ganache. Use a round tip like a Wilton 1A to pipe dots of ganache in a ring all around the cake, working your way inwards to cover it.
Place the next layer of cake onto, centering it and pressing down slightly to attach it to the ganache dots, and then pipe another round of dots on top. Lower your final layer, flipping it over so that the flattest side is on top. This is the side that was at the bottom of the cake pan when you baked it, not the top that you trimmed. By placing it this way round you’ll keep your cake moister and also give it a nice flat top.
These naked cakes are SO quick to decorate and for me, the ratio of cake to ganache is perfect because it’s not too sweet or too rich!
#4 Cake Sundae
If your cupcakes bake too low or if they overflow or if your cake layers crumble, save that cake! I keep my cake scraps in a large ziploc bag in the freezer and most of them end up as cake sundaes! Spoon some whipped ganache into the bottom of a glass and optionally, add a scoop of ice cream. Press half a cupcake or some cake crumble on top and continue layering until you get to the top of the glass.
For bonus points for presentation, pipe a swirl of whipped ganache on top and drizzle it with some leftover ganache glaze - YUM!
Which of these desserts would you choose? Tell me in the comments!
How to make the cake for these 4 desserts
The recipe below makes enough cake batter for 6 donuts, 6 cupcakes, a three-layer 4" cake, or 6 cake sundaes.
To make this chocolate batter, start by whisking cocoa powder and hot water together until the cocoa powder dissolves. Do this first so that the mixture has a chance to cool to room temperature before you add it to the batter.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, which takes about 3 minutes on medium speed if your butter is already at room temperature. Since this is a very small batter, if you're using a stand mixer you'll probably need to scrape down to the bottom of the mixing bowl with a spatula to loosen any ingredients there because your mixer attachment won't be able to reach them.
Add the egg and vanilla and mix for about 30 seconds to combine. Whisk your dry ingredients (flour and baking soda) in a small bowl and add half to the mixing bowl. Mix on the lowest speed until you don't see any flour in the batter and you might need to scrape down to the bottom of the mixing bowl again to incorporate all of the ingredients. Add the cooled cocoa powder mixture and mix on the lowest speed until the batter is all the same shade of brown. It will look a bit grainy since there is so much liquid in the batter at this point:
Add the rest of the flour mixture and mix on the lowest speed to combine until the batter is smooth.
How to turn cake batter into 4 desserts
How you bake this batter will depend on which dessert you choose to make:
For donuts, grease a silicon donut mold with oil spray and spoon the batter into a piping bag. Pipe the batter into the mold and bake for 14 minutes at 375F or 190C.
For cupcakes, line a cupcake tray with 6 wrappers and use an ice cream scoop to divide the batter between the wrappers, filling each one 3/4 full. Bake at 375F or 190C for 15 minutes.
For a mini cake, grease three 4" pans (I love these mini springform pans) and divide the batter between them. Bake at 350F or 175C for 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of each one comes out clean.
For cake sundaes, use broken donuts or cupcakes that baked too low or too high or cake scraps from trimming mini cakes. To bake the chocolate batter especially for cake sundaes, I suggest baking cupcakes and dividing each one in half horizontally to make two layers. I use two layers of cake for each cake sundae so if you bake six cupcakes you'll be able to make six cake sundaes.
How to make a ganache glaze or frosting for these 4 desserts
The recipe below makes enough chocolate ganache glaze for 6 donuts or enough ganache frosting ("whipped ganache") for 6 cupcakes, a three-layer 4" cake, or 6 cake sundaes.
To make ganache, pour heavy whipping cream into a saucepan over medium heat.
Stir as the cream warms and when you see tiny bubbles forming around the edges of the pan and the cream feels very warm to the touch, remove the pan from the heat. Don't wait for the cream to simmer or form a skin on top.
Pour your chocolate into the cream immediately and push it underneath the surface of the cream. Leave it for 5 minutes so that the chocolate melts. Then whisk the mixture and you'll notice it get darker with little brown flecks and gradually turn darker and thicker.
When the mixture is smooth you've made ganache!
How to use ganache to glaze donuts
This ganache is ready to use immediately to glaze donuts. The easiest way to cover donuts with the ganache glaze is to pour the glaze into a wide, shallow bowl.
How to make ganache frosting
To turn it into a frosting you'll need to let it cool and then while it. Cooling will take 2 hours at room temperature or 45 minutes in the fridge. When the ganache has cooled it will still be shiny but it will be thicker so when you transfer it to a bowl you'll notice that it holds its shape better than when it was warm.
You can whip this by hand with a whisk or use an electric mixer with whisk attachments and it will take about 3 minutes to whip to stiff peaks. The ganache will get lighter in colour as you whip it and it will also expand.
When you can lift the whisk out of the bowl and the ganache holds stiff peaks, it's ready to use as frosting.
The recipe below has the quantities to make chocolate batter and chocolate ganache 6 donuts, 6 cupcakes, a three-layer 4" cake, or 6 cake sundaes. You can switch between US and Metric measurements and you can also scale the recipe up if you want to make a larger batch.
This recipe makes enough batter for 6 donuts, 6 cupcakes, a three-layer 4" cake, or 6 cake sundaes
For the chocolate batter: 1/2 cup hot water 1/4cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1/4cup unsalted butter 1/2cup white sugar 1 egg 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 2/3cup all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
For the chocolate ganache: 4oz heavy whipping cream 4oz semi-sweet chocolate (can be chips or a bar, chopped)
To make the chocolate batter:
1. In a small bowl, whisk cocoa powder and hot water together until the cocoa powder dissolves. Set aside to cool.
2. In a mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg and mix to combine.
3. In a small bowl, whisk flour and baking soda together. Add half to the mixing bowl and mix until you can't see the flour in the batter. Add the cocoa powder mixture and mix to combine. Add the rest of the flour mixture and scrape down to the bottom of the mixing bowl with a spatula to loosen any ingredients. Mix until the batter is smooth. It will be runny!
4. Follow instructions below for donuts, cupcakes, cake or cake sundaes.
For the ganache:
1. Gently heat heavy whipping cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. As soon as you see bubbles forming around the edges, before the cream simmers, remove the pan from the heat.
2. Immediately add chocolate and push under the surface of the cream with a spatula. Leave for 5 minutes and then whisk to make a smooth chocolate glaze.
3. Follow instructions below for donuts, cupcakes, cake or cake sundaes.
1. Grease a silicon donut mold with oil spray. Spoon chocolate batter into a piping bag and pipe into the rings of the donut mold.
2. Bake donuts at 375F or 190C for 14-18 minutes. Leave to cool in the mold for about 5 minutes. Flip the mold over onto a wire rack and push the donuts out. Leave to cool.
3. Immediately after making the ganache, pour it into a wide, shallow bowl. Dip each donut into the bowl and twist back and forth a few times to coat the bottom of the donut in the ganache glaze. Flip over onto a wire rack. Sprinkle any toppings over the donuts now, while the glaze is still sticky.
1. Line a cupcake pan with 6 cupcake wrappers. Use an ice cream scoop or 1/4 cup measuring cup to divide the chocolate batter between the cupcake wrappers.
2. Bake at 375F or 190C for 15-19 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
3. After making the ganache, leave to cool for 2 hours or refrigerate for 45 minutes. Using a whisk or electric mixer, whip the ganache until stiff peaks form.
4. Spoon ganache into a piping bag fitted with a star shaped piping tip like a 1M tip. Pipe a swirl onto each cupcake.
For a mini cake:
1. Grease three 4" pans and divide chocolate batter between them.
2. Bake at 350F or 175C for 18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of each pan comes out clean.
3. Leave cakes to cool in their pans for 5 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. When they cool, use a serrated knife like a brea knife to trim any domed tops off the cakes to leave them level.
4. After making the ganache, leave to cool for 2 hours or refrigerate for 45 minutes. Using a whisk or electric mixer, whip the ganache until stiff peaks form.
5. Spoon ganache into a piping bag fitted with a round or star shaped piping tip. Pipe a dot of ganache onto a plate and press the first layer of cake onto it to secure it. Pipe dots of ganache in a ring around the edge of the cake and then fill in the middle with more dots. Press the next layer of cake gently on top and repeat.
For cake sundaes:
1. After making the ganache, leave to cool for 2 hours or refrigerate for 45 minutes. Set aside 1/4 cup of ganache. Using a whisk or electric mixer, whip the rest of the ganache until stiff peaks form.
2. Spoon a layer of whipped ganache into the bottom of a tall glass and place a scoop of ice cream on top. Press cake scraps (e.g. cupcakes that baked too low or too high, the trimmed tops of cake layers, broken donuts) on top and repeat to fill the glass.
3. Pipe a swirl of ganache on top using a star shaped piping tip. Drizzle with the ganache you set aside and serve immediately.