CommunityBest of the Bluegrass


Halloween treats with Lexington baker Brandi Romines and 'Baking Impossible' winner Rodolfo Goncalves

Posted at 7:30 PM, Oct 22, 2022

Lexington baker Brandi Romines, owner of Happy As A Lark Cakes, and Rodolfo Goncalves became friends when they competed on the Netflix show 'Baking Impossible.' Now they are teaming up for a top-secret project for NASA and the Society of Women Engineers. Goncalves is also competing on the Food Network show 'Halloween Wars.' They join Jennifer Palumbo to share two easy and fun Halloween treats.



  1. Quick prep – Preheat the oven and line a 12-count cupcake pan. 
  2. Mix dry ingredients – In a large mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, salt), breaking up any big clumps of cocoa. 
  3. Mix wet ingredients – In a second bowl, whisk together wet ingredients (warm coffee, vinegar, oil, egg, vanilla)
  4. Combine batter – Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and whisk just until combined. The batter will be a little loose with small lumps. 
  5. Fill and bake – Fill each cupcake liner 2/3 full and bake at 350˚F for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes then transfer the cupcakes to a rack to cool before frosting.


  • American buttercream
  • 1 lb (4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 lbs sifted buttercream
  • .5 tsp salt.
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbs milk or water

Cream butter until light and fluffy using paddle attachment. Slowly add half of the powdered sugar. Add salt. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl. Add second half of powdered sugar.   Continue to whip on medium speed for 5-6 minutes. Add vanilla. Scrape down bowl and whip for an additional 2 minutes. 


  • 3 cups (360g) cake flour (spoon & leveled [])
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 Tablespoons (10g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature []
  • 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (240ml) canola or vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature and separated
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • liquid or gel red food coloring
  • 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk, at room temperature


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 9-inch cake pans [], line with parchment paper rounds, then grease the parchment paper. Parchment paper helps the cakes seamlessly release from the pans. 
  2. Make the cake: Whisk the flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the oil, egg yolks, vanilla extract, and vinegar and beat on high for 2 minutes. (Set the egg whites aside.) Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in 2-3 additions alternating with the buttermilk. Beat in your desired amount of food coloring just until combined. I use 1-2 teaspoons gel food coloring. Vigorously whisk or beat the 4 egg whites on high speed until fluffy peaks form as pictured above, about 3 minutes. Gently fold into cake batter. The batter will be silky and slightly thick.
  5. Divide batter between cake pans. Bake for 30-32 minutes or until the tops of the cakes spring back when gently touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If the cakes need a little longer as determined by wet crumbs on the toothpick, bake for longer. However, careful not to overbake as the cakes may dry out. Remove cakes from the oven and cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. The cakes must be completely cool before frosting and assembling.