Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I fall on the floor and I'm laughing

Can anyone guess what the title line is from? If you knew who these cupcake where for, you would be singing right along. Last week, my friend Cecilia celebrated her birthday, and I made up some cupcakes for her gift. Cecilia is one of my biggest supporters here in Green Bay. She's also my best friend here in Green Bay. So to celebrate her day, we went to Olive Garden for dinner, and I made her what you see below. The cupcakes where inspired by a cake I saw on the Cake Coquette website. As soon as I saw the colors, I thought of Cecilia, and knew I had to do something like that cake for her (although I did forget her pre-requested rhinestone...so, so sorry there Kookie). The cakes themselves are Chocolate Zucchini Cake (I got the recipe from one of the Moms in our playgroup...very yummy and no one knows about the zucchini). So here are the steps I took to decorate the cupcakes...

I colored (using gel food coloring) some royal icing orange and two shades of pink (although only one is pictured here) and colored the fondant to match (as best as I could) the buttercream on the top of the cupcakes.

I piped on the buttercream with a large star tip, just making sure to cover the cupcake, but not overdo it. The buttercream is there mostly to help the fondant stay in place.

I'm missing a picture (or two here but how many pictures of rolled out fondant do you really need to see), but what I did was rolled out the fondant and cut the circle out. Then using wax paper bags and the royal icing, I piped out the desired designs. Let the decoration dry and then place the fondant circles on top of you buttercream. One tip...you might want to (if you have time) let the fondant disks dry over night. That way they will be harden and keep their shape once place on the buttercream.

A close-up of my two favorite cupcakes. You will have to ask Cecilia which ones were her favorite.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Every baby needs a friend.

This is what I was told by my 4 year old critic ( aka Samantha), when I told her I was making a shower cake for a couple who were adopting a baby. I thought that was one of the sweetest things ever said, and oh so true. So last week, I set out to make this cake that my friend ordered for the shower. The couple decorated the little guy's room with No Jo Jungle Babies. After finding it on Toy R Us site, I decided I was going to make the cake look like a nightlight from the collection. I was pretty happy with the results (although I will always think of things I could have done differently), and I hope they liked it too (I haven't gotten any feedback yet from the shower).

I thought I would include the recipe I use for buttercream. It's such a easy thing to make and most people (even those whom claim not to like buttercream), seem to like it. Plus I have never had this recipe fail me, even when it looks like it not going to pull together. So if you decide to make the buttercream, please keep in mind that if you just let it whip in your mixer, it should come out okay.

Buttercream Recipe
4 egg whites

1 cup sugar (although as of late, I have been cutting this back to 3/4 cup)

1 pound butter, room temperature

(sorry no picture of the ingredients...I forgot to take one)

Whip your egg whites until soft peak, then slowly add the sugar. Continue whipping until stiff peaks form.

Add soften butter in chunks, and let continue to whip until buttercream is light in color.
When you first add the butter, the mixture may start to look like cottage cheese. Just keep whipping it, it will pull together.

Add whatever color you may need and then you are ready to go.

A tip for preventing crumbs... do a first icing where you are just basically covering the cake with the buttercream. It's okay if you can still see cake through the icing, just as long as there is a based coat of icing on your cake. Don't worry if you haven't perfectly cover the cake. Refrigerate the cake for about an hour, and then do a second icing, where you completely cover the cake and make the surface all smooth. Doing this method will save you from the annoying crumbs and believe it or not, you will end up using less icing to cover your cake.

Kneed some food coloring (I prefer the gel kind over liquid or powdered) into the fondant until you get your desired color.

I painted the edge of the circle with food coloring to get the appearance of a second circle.

To add a little interest and to go with the theme, I used a leaf tip to create the border.

Colored fondant and the design that I was following for this cake.

The finished product.

Welcome Ayden!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

All you need is...

According to the Beatles, it's love. But if you ask others, they just might tell you cake, and even more to the point, chocolate cake. I personally like both, but for this post, we are going to go with the chocolate cake. September 13th is my loving in-laws anniversary. And this year they celebrated 40 years together. So, their children (along with me) decided to throw them a surprise party at their house (although we told them the night before so they wouldn't be too surprised). My husband and I were in charge of bringing the burgers, brats, some beer and cake (really all you need for a party in Wisconsin). So I set out to have some fun making the cake. Now I should tell you (just in case you don't know this already) that the 40th anniversary is ruby. This got the little old gears in the brain a turning and came up with me making a red cake. While I have worked with color fondant before, I have never covered an entire cake with color fondant...until now. I went with making some red marshmallow fondant (sorry no recipe this time, I will try in a future post) with white fondant cutout flowers. If I do say so myself, the cake turn out very nicely, and I was super happy with it. I will say this being the first time working with marshmallow fondant, it's very simple to make, nice to roll out (as long as you don't use too much cornstarch, which I kinda did) and taste good too. So I don't have any recipes today for you all, but you could use any cake and frosting you wanted and make a cake like this. Here is the covering of the cake from start to finish.

Cake is iced and ready to go. Refrigerate the cake

for about 1 hour to set up your frosting before covering

with fondant.

Tools you will need for rolling out the fondant.

Roll fondant out in a square shape for easy covering.

After covering the cake, I rerolled the fondant and

then cut out long strips to wrap around the bottom of the

cake to look like ribbons, and hide any spaces where

the fondant may not of covered the cake.

I rolled out some white fondant, then using four

different size flower cutters and a large round tip,

created my fondant cutouts. I glued them to the cake

by brushing a little water on the backs.

Almost finished...

I cut out a fondant plaque, and using a food coloring

maker (wonderful things to have for this and decorating

cookies), put the finishing touches on the cake.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Yucky and disgusting, but taste good.

That's what my critics have said about my latest dessert. Of course my critics are my 4 year old, 2 1/2 year old (who basically eats nothing) and my husband (he gave me the good review). So yesterday morning, I decided to make apple tarts. The inspiration for this came from my brand new cookbook. Now if you have ever been to my house, you know I have a bunch of cookbook. My collection started because I needed the books for work and now I add when something looks really tempting or a friend has written the book. I actually have two books that are done by people I know. My latest is the one that gave me the idea for the apple tarts this week. The book is called "You Made That Dessert?" by Beth Lipton (we went to culinary school together). If you don't think you can bake at all, I recommend this book because Beth breaks recipes down so that anyone can make something. Like these apple tarts...they are super simple, and always get oohs and aahs (that is if you aren't serving them to 4 and 2 1/2 year old).

Now all you need for these tarts are some apples (I used Granny Smith), cinnamon, sugar, butter and puff pastry. And I highly recommend that you use the frozen puff pastry...you would be crazy to make it yourself...I used the frozen puff pastry...professional chefs use frozen puff pastry (is that enough of a hint). As for tools you will need, I used my rolling pin, cookie tray and a large mug to cut the circles (you could also use a very large cookie cutter if you have one).

So to make these yummy tarts (that's my review), you need to roll out the puff pastry a little(make sure to sprinkle a little flour on you work surface and puff pastry to avoid sticking) and cut out your circles or you can just cut out some rectangles (I did both). Peel and slice the apples (try your best to get them thin and about the same size), and then toss them in some cinnamon sugar. Arrange the apple slices on your puff pastry, brush with some melted butter and then sprinkle with a little raw sugar (I actually used a toffee sugar topping from Pampered Chef). Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until the puff pastry is nice and golden. Dress them up with a little caramel sauce, (I used one of the many caramel sauces we have from McDonald's when we get the apple dippers in Happy Meals) and some vanilla ice cream (we sadly don't have ice cream in the house right now) and...voila, you have restaurant style apple tarts.

For actual amount of ingredients, go out and buy the book (and no Beth isn't paying me anything to plug her book), or just wing it. I found this is one of the few desserts that you can do that and not mess it up. Maybe you like more cinnamon, maybe a little less. You decide. Also one more note...I have silicone mats lining my cookies trays so that nothing sticks. If you don't have these, you may want to get some parchment paper (you can buy it at the grocery store in with the wax paper) and line you tray with it. It makes getting them off the trays easy and clean up is a breeze.


Your basic ingredients...apples, puff pastry, cinnamon sugar and
sugar topping

The finished product.

Served warm with some caramel sauce.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cuckoo for Coconut

Lately I have been a little "cuckoo" about cupcakes and have thoughts of one day opening up a cupcake bakery (when the kids are all in school and I actually have something called time). So I figured it was never to early to start testing recipes that I might want to use. First up to bat is the coconut cupcake. I have been seeing these guys on a couple of different blogs, and they just looked so yummy. They also reminded me of little snowball (and living in Green Bay, we know what snow looks like), and with the weather already getting cooler here, I thought they were appropriate. So here is the recipe I used (should you like to try these at home) and how they came out.

Bake at 350 for 10-20 minutes depending on size of cupcake (I made mini and regular)

8 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 c sugar
1 cup cream of coconut

2 3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 cup milk
* Cream the butter, sugar and cream of coconut until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and eggs (one at a time) and mix until Incorporated. Add in flour mixture and milk, alternating ingredients and ending with milk.
* Put into muffin liners or greased muffin tins and bake until golden brown.

I topped mine with some cream cheese frosting that I whipped up and then loaded on the coconut. You could toast the coconut if you wished, but I wanted the snowball look. I believe I achieved it. What do you think?