Seriously my dear readers, I can NOT believe it has been this long since I posted!!! - UGH! I miss you and baking for myself so much! I have (thankfully) had TONS of stuff going on in my life (good stuff). I have been baking cakes for others almost every weekend since my last posting AND a few other things. I hope you bear with me for just a little while longer. I have TONS of fabulous, yummy things to share with you for the fall. In the meantime I wanted to share some of what has been going on with me. The most recent cake I made is this baby shower cake. I can't help but be in love with the teddy bear! He was almost too cute to eat! It was a two tiered cake with a 10 inch white cake and strawberry filling on the bottom topped with a 6 inch strawberry cake with butter cream frosting all of which was covered with fondant and of course this adorable little bear!
This cutie patootie surfer girl was another weekend’s project for a special 16 year olds birthday. She was made out of all fondant and the cake was a chocolate cake with strawberry filling, butter cream frosting and fondant. How cute is she???
Up next was Wow Wow Wubbzy for a sweet little one year olds first birthday party. They told me that she thought it looked so much like Wubbzy that she was slightly scared to eat it! It was as single layer chocolate cake frosted with butter cream frosting and covered with fondant.
Last but not least, we have the soccer lover’s cake! This was a birthday cake for a birthday celebration shared by two little guys who love soccer. I incorporated two colors of their uniforms and of course personalized the jerseys with their individual numbers. I think they really liked it and hopefully it made a good impression with the soccer moms! It was chocolate cake with butter cream frosting. The ball and jerseys were covered in fondant.
I have a fabulous wedding cake that I will be working on this weekend for a very beautiful bride and I will be sure to post pics as it will be a one of a kind!
Finally, here is something else that has been distracting me from my blog (but what a wonderful & beautiful distraction she is)
This is my 18 year old daughter Morgan. When Will got his promotion to California, Morgan decided to stay in PA to finish out her senior year. Well school is done and summer is winding down so I am proud and excited to say that Morgan is coming here to live with us!!! I have been making plans, shipping arrangements, flight arrangements, plans for going back home etc. (if anyone has any advice on shipping just clothing and shoes freight, I'd be so grateful if you'd share your knowledge and info. Thanks!) I will fly back home for a week the end of September/beginning of October to get Morgan and then after that I am all yours! Back full time and baking more than ever especially during fall which is my favorite time of the year! See you all soon!
Monday, September 14, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
Some things a girl should never tell…her age, her weight and her favorite recipe that has potential to make money for her someday. For that very reason I wanted to make one of my favorite cupcake ideas, but I’m not quite ready to share my secret recipes for my homemade goodies yet. Wipe your tears from your eyes my friends, this one is just as good and I’ll tell you are secret, come a little closer, shhhhhhhhh, it is all made from boxed mixes with the exception of the frosting. Will came in and said “are those homemade?” to which I lovingly answered “Well they were made in our home!” LOL. But ladies and gentlemen that is as close to homemade as these get. When I can’t or don’t want to use “from scratch” recipes, I like to at the very least try to dress up an otherwise lame boxed mix. That is just what these babies are all about! They are the can’t decide between a chewy chocolate chip cookie and a heavenly cupcake? HAVE BOTH cookie cake!
1 white or vanilla boxed cake mix of your choice.
Water - according to directions
Oil - according to directions
Eggs - according to directions
1 Cup Mini Chocolate Chips - plus more for garnishment.
1 TBSP of all purpose flour.
Paper cupcake/muffin liners.
Butter Cream frosting:
2 Cups shortening
2 tsp clear vanilla
7 TBSP of water
2 pounds of confectioner's sugar
1 pkg of Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix
1/2 Cup of Butter - 1 stick
Regular size chocolate chips for garnish
Mix and prepare according to directions on package. Toss 1 Cup of mini chocolate chips with 1 TBSP of all purpose flour. Fold into prepared batter. Bake according to directions. Allow to cool completely.
Butter Cream Frosting:
Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes at low speed with a heavy-duty mixer, 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand-held mixer).
NOTE: Keep all utensils completely grease-free for proper icing consistency.
* For stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water.
**When using large countertop mixer or for stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water.
*Instructions can be found on the Wilton website.
Prepare and bake cookies according to directions.
Once cupcakes have fully cooled, I used a long cake decorator’s tip to fill the middle of the cupcake with frosting. Take the longest tip you have (preferably one with a round open end), insert it into the middle of the cupcake and squeeze. Next frost the entire top of the cupcake with butter cream frosting. Style it according to your choice. (I decorated mine using only a pastry bag with a coupler inside.) Make sure you add an extra bit of frosting to the top center of the cupcake. Next you'll want to shake a good amount of the mini chocolate chips onto a plate, roll cupcake in chocolate chips. The way I did this was dip down and lift, turn slightly, dip down and lift until all sides are thoroughly covered. Next place a well shaped chocolate chip cookie on top of the frosted cupcake slightly tilted to the side. Top with a dollop of butter cream. Last but not least, garnish with a larger sexier chocolate chip and there you have it chocolate chip cookie cakes! Enjoy!
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
I don't know what to call these, I mean they are essentially cake balls BUT for whatever reason that just sounds so gross to me. They need a more chic name like cake truffles or cake bon bons, something. I should hold a contest to name my personally made ones. Too bad I didn't think of this sooner it would have been a perfect give a way! Bakerella does some FABULOUS things with these little delicious delights! You have to see all of the things she comes up with. Plain and simple, she ROCKS! Check her site out for complete directions and so many fabulous ideas! You can visit her by clicking here. I adapted mine slightly using vanilla frosting instead of cream cheese basically because I usually make my own frosting and therefore do not have usually have a can of store frosting around BUT I did have a can of vanilla that I found for a project that never came to be - ummmm, yeah I have way to many "good ideas" to mention that happen like that. The land of forgotten baked goods. You know those ingredients that end up being used for something other than their original intent. Oh well, all’s well that ends well right? I had cake scraps from a birthday cake that I made over the weekend. (The Steelers jersey birthday cake (for Bryan turning 24 - Happy Birthday Bryan!!!) that I mentioned in a previous post.)
NOTE: For the correct and entire recipe please see Bakerella's blog!!!
I used the cake scraps - or the left over cake from two 13 x 9 strawberry cakes - the crown (or top) which was cut off of both of them and about a quarter of the other 13 x 9 that I used to carve the sleeves. All in all it was probably about half of a whole 13 x 9. Did I lose you yet with all of that?
I crushed up all of the strawberry cake scraps to get them into crumbs and mixed about half of the can (15.6 oz) of vanilla frosting. Once I made sure it was thoroughly mixed, I used a cookie scoop and made approx 1 inch balls. I placed them on a cookie sheet with wax paper and placed them into the freezer for approx 6 hours until set. Once they were set enough to dip, I melted 1.5 bags of Wilton Candy Melts. (for directions on melting chocolate see my post here) (I have used Almond bark in the past). I used a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake ball to dip into the chocolate. Once completely covered I placed on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper, drizzled on the opposing chocolate flavor and placed in the refrigerator until it was set. Viola! There you have cake balls (truffles- bon bons- LOL)! Recycling never tasted so good! ENJOY!
Thursday, July 30, 2009
WOW, has it really been that long since I posted anything? Time sure does fly! In short, I have been up to my elbows in frosting and cake batter (and loving every minute of it!) I promise to be back in the next day or two with some actual recipes but for now I will entertain (and distract) you with some cakes that will hopefully make you smile! These were for Will's co-worker. She is pregnant with twins!!! How wonderful!!! Today is her last day before maternity leave and they are having a potluck luncheon for her. I was requested to make two round cakes both with butter cream (UGH - I just can't get used to seeing butter cream after working with fondant! I'm totally obsessed with getting it as smooth as possible to try to resemble fondant). They are both 9 inch rounds - one is white cake the other is strawberry. The figures on top are made totally of fondant. This was the first time I actually tried my hand at making figures. How'd I do?
Here she is from the side -
The colors were lavender and mint green to match the nursery colors.
Next we have the two peas in a pod, pea pod cake. I got my inspiration from this site. I think these are Will's favorites!
Here they are again looking down from the top. I also tried to incorporate the nursery colors in this one by including the little lavender flowers.
If you love that, wait until you see the back! Here it is - a huge pea pod!!! I needed support for the little guys as I knew Will would be driving on the freeway, alone, in a manual transmission car, so I knew it needed TONS of support - hence the giant pea pod.
In addition to these I had an order for a dozen blueberry muffins that I fresh baked at 1 am! Today is my "day off" and boy do I need it!!! I have another cake that is due on Saturday - a Steelers cake - imagine the irony of it all - a Pennsylvania girl living in California making a Steelers cake for a California man! Too funny! Poor Will, tomorrow is our 5th year anniversary and he'll be lucky to get cake scraps for our anniversary dessert. Oh the life of a baker!!! Hope you enjoyed them! Thanks for looking!
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Some things just go to be together: Peanut butter and Jelly, Bread and Butter, Batman and Robin, Movies and Popcorn, Smoke and Fire, Shoes and Socks the list could go on and on, AND now Cookies and Butter Cream Icing! These are two of my favorite things, and what do you do with two of your favorite things? Find a way to put them together to live in perfect harmony, which is just what these little bits of deliciousness are all about. You see one day I had left over cookie dough AND left over butter cream icing. Come on admit it, we've all had the lazy days where we think “you know what I could do with that frosting? No wait that would mean I have to make cupcakes. Or look at that left over cookie dough, but wait we just had chocolate chip cookies.” Out of this dilemma was born the cookie cup! When left in an office without a definition attached to them they have been known to be called “cookie muffins, chocolate chip cupcakes, “Mookies” or Cuffins.”
Will originally thought it would be too sweet but quickly realized the love affair between the two could not be denied. He now loves them as much as I do, as do his co-workers, friends and family.
As for the recipe you can use your own favorite top secret cookie dough, the one found here, or on occasion I have even (gasp) used the Betty Crocker chocolate chip cookie mix. Either way as long as they are a chewier type cookie it will work like a charm. I used the same process that I did with the Cookie Bites with the addition of making an indentation in the middle of the cookie after they are removed from the oven but prior to them cooling (if you wait too long after they begin to cool, they will crack). After they cool completely go back and pipe in butter cream icing into the center cavity. The recipe for butter cream icing can be found here or again you could use your own super secret formula. Auden said they are two thumbs up and she would "give them more thumbs up but I don't have any more thumbs”. :) Hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Okay readers; please don't hate me for this recipe. I will warn you in advance that this is a "William Original" which means no measuring on the spices. So, it's "to taste" when you get to the spices part of it. Trust me, I know, try living with him. :) On a positive note this chili won second place in a chili cook off several years ago at Will's work. Still to this day he is so proud of his second place finish and dollar store ribbon which he received as his prize. It's the little things in life people...
What makes this chili different is in the fact that is it sweet - but after visiting this blog, would you expect it to be anything less than that? I will type it out both ways for either our vegetarian counter parts or our meat loving friends as well. Either way you go, you won't go wrong with it! But on a side note, I will say that Will's second place award winning chili was made with the Morningstar Farm Crumbles and only AFTER they ate it and voted did they find out who made the chili (as the crock pots weren't marked) did they realize that they weren't really eating meat. The other nice thing about using the crumbles is that it makes it lower in fat, BUT like I said either way - vegetarians or omnivore, I will love you all the same either way you try it, it's not trying it at all that will make me give you the evil eye. :) Okay enough of the mindless chatter and poor attempts at humor, on to the recipe!
1 pkg of Morningstar Farms Crumbles (ground beef substitue) or approx 1 pound of groud beef *NOTE* I say approx. because I have obviously never cooked with it but on our vegetarian substitute it states that one bag of meatless crumbles is the equivelent of 1 pound of ground beef.
1/2 jar of chili sauce (12 oz jar)- approx 3/4 of a cup
2 TBSP of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 or 3 strips of sweet roasted red pepper strips (approx 1/4 cup finely chopped)
2 TBSP of ketchup
1 Can (15 oz) of red kidney beans - drained
1 Can (15 oz) of black beans - drained and rinsed
1 3/4 Cup of crushed tomatoes
1 can (4 oz) of diced green chilies - drained
1 1/2 TBSP of minced garlic
1/4 cup of finely chopped green bell pepper
1 can (15.25 oz) of Whole Kernel Sweet Golden Corn - drained
5 tsp sugar
Cumin and cilantro to taste - (I warned you!)
Mexican Style Shredded Cheese blend - Optional
*In a medium sauce pan brown meatless crumbles or ground beef in 2 TBSP of olive oil
* Finely chop sweet roasted red peppers and green bell pepper. Add to ground beef mixture
* Add chili sauce, ketchup, kidney beans, crushed tomato, green chilis, minced garlic, black beans, corn and sugar.
* Cook on medium to low heat for 30-40 minutes.
* Sprinkle top with Mexican Style Shredded Cheese Blend - optional
Monday, July 20, 2009
(Cue the dramatics) - I'll just say it, I have issues people! LOL. What is it about fondant that can bring a grown woman to tears? I mean come on, in the end it's just cake people! But yep that was me over the weekend. After my first fondant attempt last weekend, Will showed the cake to one of his co-workers (which is one of the sweetest people you will ever want to meet), and she ask if I could make a cake for her sisters birthday. The butter cream part of me screamed - "Sure no problem" and then I learned she wanted a two tiered fondant covered cake - UGH- the sick in the pit of your stomach feeling took over. The confidence turned from "Sure, no problem!!!!! to sure......no problem.... As you know this would only make this my second attempt at a fondant cake and NEVER have I had to stack heavy tiers on top of one another which meant supporting the cake by inserting dowel rods. I was a mess with worry to say the least. Then on top of all of that, "if" I ended up pulling the whole thing off, I had to worry about carrying it down 3 flights of stairs, and drive pass 5,000 speed bumps to get out of our complex. "If" we made it that far, we were left with driving a half an hour in a manual transmission car, on the freeway to deliver the cake, so sure......no problem.....
But I am happy to report all’s well that ends well. As you can see I pulled it off. Not to say that MANY "heart attack moments” didn't pop up along the way. My first issue, the fondant was sticking to my counter in the worst way. So I added powdered sugar BUT if I continued to add powdered sugar so that it wouldn't stick, it would quickly dry it out (okay and I'm sure the location of the central air vent in our kitchen blowing right on it didn't help matters), but I discovered you MUST make sure you surface is clean and I when I say clean I mean clean, clean. I think I was just wiping the surface thinking it was clean BUT you could feel powdered sugar residue left over from the previous rolling. Plus I needed to roll out a larger piece than I had ever previously done due to the fact that it was a tiered cake. After numerous attempts both cakes were covered. I'm not sure if it's just me but that is the worst part in my opinion. After the cakes are covered I totally love the decorating part of it. The next stressor was the adding of the dowel rods to give support when you stack the cake. It becomes so heavy with fondant that you don't want to have the bottom layer collapse when you place the top tier onto the bottom cake. First, you need to cut the dowels just right, about 1/16th lower than the cake is what I did, and you need to place them just slightly inside the perimeter of where the top cake will be placed. MAN, someone should warn you how stressful cake decorating can be; it was like me being a new surgeon operating for the first time. Will was my "assistant" handing me the dowel rods and cheering me on. Just watching yourself insert the rods into the bottom cake (and therefore destroying the flawless finish you just spent forever creating) and hoping you measured correctly is nerve wracking to the fullest extent. Next came placing the top tier onto the bottom, (or in layman’s terms - waiting for the bottom cake to collapse when you let go.....) My "assistant" had the important job of watching to see if any bulging occurred, and the first sign of it I wanted him to say "problem" and I would quickly remove the top as to save at least one half of the cake from total destruction. But guess what? It didn't happen!!! Next came Will wiping sweat from my brow, and me placing the center dowel rod down through the entire thing. If I made it through this I was going to celebrate with a nice margarita or two or three. Much to my surprise it went much smoother than my nerves would ever allow me to believe it could be. I had to just step back at that point and say "I did it”!!! I was so excited I think I cried happy tears. :) Sure there are a few minor flaws I have to work out and things I really would have been "better" with the cake but overall I guess for the stepping into to virgin cake baking territory (I’ve never taken a cake decorating class in my life) I didn't do too bad, did I?
Okay here is my list of questions for the fondant fans.....
* Other than the counter having some residue, is there anything else that could be making it stick? I am using the Marshmallow fondant recipe as seen here.
* I noticed that I got a few air bubbles even after I smoothed it out, any tips on how NOT to have that happen?
* What do you do it you accidentally mark the fondant after it is on the cake - like a finger nail scrap as you put the decorations on to the cake. Is there a way to smooth it out?
* How do I achieve a more realistic bow affect? I tried and still don't totally like how my bow creation turned out despite following an absolutley AWESOME bow making tutorial here (if you are a baker/cake maker you MUST check out there site for the most amazing software to assist you in running your business.)
* How long do you wait until you put ribbon on the bottom of the cake if you are indeed doing that so that it doesn't appear that it is bulging over the ribbon (and I also think I put it on too tight).
In the end, I did what I set out to do; I baked it, assembled it and transported it all in one piece, AND still lived to write this post. I guess it's true what they say, what doesn't kill you will make you stronger. I promise I’ll be back shortly with an actual recipe. Thanks to all who got this far in the post for my “therapy session”. You can all send me your bill in the mail.
Oh and on a side note - how many times can I say fondant and tiers in one post? I think I just set the record. :)