Tuesday, November 24, 2009

IronCupcake and the Giveaway Winner

I am entering the IronCupcake Earth Challenge this month. What is the IronCupcake Earth you ask...well, it's a monthly worldwide competition where bakers make yummy cupcakes based on that month's theme. This month is apple, and that may sound simple, but really it's not. I say this because, you want to come up with something different, something that looks great and something that taste great so that the blogging reading public out there will vote for you. Yep, that's right, you all get to vote and maybe help me win some wonderful prizes. What are the wonderful prizes you ask, well to begin with there is The Demy by Key Ingredient (check it out here http://www.mydemy.com/). And then there are the books Hello, Cupcake by Karen Tack & Alan Richardson (http://blog.hellocupcakebook.com/) and The Cake Doctor Returns! by Anne Byrne (http://www.workman.com/products/9780761129615). Plus fun cupcakes accessories from Bella Cupcake Couture (http://www.bellacupcakecouture.com/), the Cupcake Stacker from Gourmac (http://www.gourmac.com/custset.html) and Beautiful Bakeing Liners by Vestli House (http://www.vestlihouse.com/index.htm). And last but certainly not least Sweet Cuppin' Cakes Bakery & Cupcakey Supply (http://www.acupcakery.com/info.html). How could you not want to enter this challenge with all these goodies up for grabs.

I decided I was going to make something that I love come this time of year. A caramel apple, preferably covered in chocolate. So here is what I came up with for this event... a caramel covered apple flourless chocolate cupcake. Wow, that's a mouth full for a little cupcake. And according to my guinea pigs, I mean friends who got to try the cupcakes, it's a tasty mouthful. Now believe it or not, this recipe is fairly easy. I do think I found just about the simplest recipe for a flourless chocolate cake, and it's very good to boot. Here it is along with pictures for you to enjoy.

4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

1 stick butter

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup cocoa

3 eggs

2-3 Granny Smith Apples, peeled and chopped

1/3 cup caramel chips

2 Tbsp. water

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a large bowl in the microwave for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Stir in the sugar and cocoa until Incorporated. Then add the eggs, and mix until combined .

Divide the batter up into your muffin tins. A tip to make this process very simple and pretty much mess free is to use a ice cream scoop. Ice cream scoops generally give you the perfect portion for a cupcake.

Top you cupcakes with half of your chopped apples. My original idea was to topped the cupcakes with all the apples and then bake them, but my 2 little helpers ate half of the apples before I could get to this step. Bake the cakes at 375 for 14-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out with some crumbs on it. (I know not the normal way you want the toothpick to be when testing a cake, but for these you do.)

While your cupcakes are cooling, take the remaining apples and saute them in a little butter just until they are soft. Then add you caramel chip and water, and heat until all the apples are covered in caramel. Let cool a little and then top each cupcake with more apples.

To finish off the cupcake, I melted some more of the semisweet chips and then drizzled it over the top of the apples. There you have it, your caramel covered apple flourless chocolate cupcake.

So if you think this looks good, please go vote for me. (please, please,please) Voting will begin no later than Friday, November 27th 8:00pm and last until Thursday, December 3rd at 12 noon CST. You can go to Nobody Puts Cupcake in a Corner at http://www.ironcupcakemilwaukee.com/ to vote for me (please,please, please). And if you would like to find out more about IronCupcake Earth, please go to http://www.ironcupcakeearth.com/.

And now the moment that some of you might have been waiting this whole time for...the winner of the cookie giveaway. First I would like to thank everyone who entered. It was great to read about your favorite cookies and it made be pretty hungry. This morning, along with my assistant Mackenzie (she's the one who got the pull the name out of the candy bowl) we picked our winner...and it is Gina. Congrats Gina, you have more cookies coming your way. I'll get in contact with you about me dropping them off.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Serve Out

This should be my last cookie post of the week. I have had a lot of fun making cookies I haven't done before. And I've been very pleased at how they have been turning out.

My husband came home last week after his Thursday night volleyball game, and said he needed a treat to take with him to next week's game. It seems his team has been razzing him as to why they hadn't been brought any goodies. One of his fellow teammates (hi Michelle) follows my blog and has told others on the team about it. So, to make everyone happy, I made up some volleyball cookies. Now I will be the first one to tell you I know very little about volleyball, but at least I do know what the ball looks like. Plus, I had seen volleyball cookies on The Sweet Adventures of SugarBelle blog, and decided that is what I would have to make for the team.

I included step by step pictures of how exactly I decorated these cookies so you too could make them for your volleyball player.

So like all my cookies, I iced these guys with royal icing and let them dry at least 8 hours. I had to make sure they where completely dry so that when I wrote on top, it wouldn't break through the icing. With a food coloring marker (and I must say who ever create these is a genius) I made a mark in the center of the cookie.

From there I divided the cookie into thirds. I made the lines with a bit of a curve to help give the cookie a 3-D appearance.

Then I divided each line into thirds to make where my next lines should be drawn.

After that, all I did was draw the remaining lines of the volleyball. Once again I gave the lines a slight curve.

Now I should say, you could stop right there and the cookies look great. But because I'm me, and I had some sugar dust, I didn't. So here is how I finished my cookies off.

Using a little water, I carefully brushed over the lines that I had drawn on. You don't want to use too much water because you will make the food coloring lines blur and even disappear.

Then using a baby spoon, I sprinkled my sugar dust (also might be called glimmer sugar, edible dust) all over the cookies. The dust will stick where ever there is water. Then I tapped off the excess dust and took a clean and dry paint brush to dust off any of the sugar that was on the white part of the cookie.

And here they are, some yummy, glittery volleyball cookies that are sure to score with any team. (sorry couldn't help myself on that last line)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My First...

GIVEAWAY!!!!! That's right, I'm doing my first giveaway. And I'm going to make it very easy to enter. All I need from you, as the reader, is an answer to this simple question...What is your favorite kind of holiday cookie? I actually have a tie for my favorite. The first one is an almond tea cookie that my Mom always makes for Christmas. They are so tasty and they look like little flowers with cherry centers. My second is the peanut butter blossom, at least that's what I call them. I think they are known by many names, but basically they are peanut butter cookies with a Hershey kiss in the middle. Growing up our neighbor down the street, Mrs James, would make cookie plates up for everyone, and she always made sure to include them.
So let me know in the comments, what cookie you look to forward every holiday season. I'm setting a deadline of Monday, November 23 by 12 CT. After that I will pick a name by random and post it on Tuesday's blog.

I'm sure you are probably all wondering exactly what it is I'm giving away, right? Well, the lucky winner will get a dozen of the snowflake cookies that I make during the holiday season. These are the sugar cookies that I have been blogging about this week. If you live here in the Green Bay area I will deliver then to you. If you live elsewhere, I will ship them priority mail to you. Below is a picture of what each snowflake cookie looks like. Colors will vary as each cookie is hand stamped (and for some reason my purple one was coming up real dark today).

I should also let you know that these cookies are made with all natural ingredients and have no nuts in them whats so ever.

Have fun entering..I can't wait to see everyone's answers!

Baby Mine

So here I am back again with a new post in my week of sugar cookies. In the parent play group that I belong to, there are several of the Moms expecting babies in the next couple of months. One little guy was just born last week, so I decided to make up some cute cookies to take over to the happy family. These came out even cuter then imagined, and I will definitely make them again.

I colored my royal icing a peach for the baby faces.

Then after whipping up a batch of marshmallow fondant, I cut circles out of it. Then I cut each circle in half to make the hats.

I used a small circle cutter to make the pompoms for the hats. I then took a knife and made little marks on each pompom . For the top of the pacifiers. I rolled out the fondant into a log, and then made the loop. I let them dry before I attached them to the cookie, so they would hold their shape.

To attach the pompoms to the hats, I used a little water.

Once again I used water to attach the pacifiers. Then using a food coloring pen, I made the baby's eyes and nose. There is nothing sweeter then a sleeping baby, unless of course it's a sleeping baby cookie.

I took some pink gel food coloring and hand painted on the cheeks. And there you have it, cuteness in a cookies.
Welcome to the world Fisher.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Going to the Chapel

With Christmas just next month, this is crazy cookie season for me. So prepare to have visions of dancing sugar cookies in you head.

A friend of mine from the playgroup I'm in here in Green Bay, took the plunge and got married at the end of October. To celebrate this happy day, one of the other Moms organized a bridal shower for her. At first, I was asked if I could make a cake for the shower. But here in Wisconsin, you have to have a license to make and sell goodies, so the restaurant wasn't to keen on me bring in the cake. Since cake was out of the question, I asked if I could make the favor for the party. I had seen a wedding cake cookie favor on one of the many blogs I check out, and really wanted to make them for the shower. Below, you won't find any recipes... sorry I can't share me sugar cookie recipe, but I will show you how to make these fun favors.

And since I do have a lot of cookies ( and some other treats I want to make in the next two weeks), I will be posting addition blogs this week. Plus, I am planning my first giveaway, so make sure to check back this week to enter.

I iced the sugar cookies with a royal icing and then let them dry so I could assemble them. The bottom tier is made up of 3 large rounds and the top tier is 2 smaller rounds.

To assemble, use a small dollop of royal icing to attach the tiers together. This way they stay together, but can be easily separated when you are ready to enjoy.

To decorate the top of the wedding cake, I made tiny fondant flowers, using the end of a paint brush and my hand to help shape the flower. Here they are drying, so they will hold their shape on top of the cake.

Now with the flower (plus a little fondant leaf) on top, the wedding cake favor is almost ready for your party.

Place the cookie cake in a little bag and tie off with some pretty ribbon, and you have the finished favor ready for a party. These could also make great wedding favors.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Out of the Box - Part 2

Thanks to my wonderful, tech savvy husband Jeff, I am once again able to upload pictures. So yesterday I tried to convince everyone that using mixes are not the kiss of death to your dessert. If you use it as a base, and add other component that are made from scratch, you can come up with some incredible looking and tasting treats.

So here is my Caramel Apple Brownies. I simply used a box of Duncan Hines Brownie mix and then before baking, topped it with chopped Granny Apples and some caramel chips. Yummy!

Here are the Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies. The recipe for the pumpkin cream cheese is as follows:

3 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 Tbsp butter, softened

5 ounces pumpkin puree

2 Tbsp flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 egg

Whip the cream cheese and butter together until light and fluffy. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until combined.

For the swirl brownies, put some of the pumpkin mix in lines across the top of the brownie layer and then, with a toothpick or knife, swirl the mix into the brownie. Make sure not to over swirl, or you will lose the effect that you are creating.

Mini Pink Lemonade Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream and topped with lemon zest,

Mini Pumpkin Brownie Cupcakes topped with Chocolate Ganache,

Mini Cinnamon Rolls with a Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting and topped with a Toffee Crunch.

For the cinnamon rolls, take a sheet of crescent dough, spread a mixture of butter, brown sugar and cinnamon (I'm afraid I have no recipe here for you because I just eyed the measurements on this one) over the top, and then roll to desired size. Cut and bake, let cool and then top with the frosting. To make the frosting, I used about 2 ounces of cream cheese and 2 packets of McDonald's Caramel sauce.

Instead of swirling the pumpkin with the brownie, I just made layers with the two flavors. For the ganache (which is one of the easiest icings to make and probably also one of the tastiest), I heated 8 ounces of heavy cream and then added 12 ounces of semi sweet chocolate chips. Stir until the chocolate is melted and then let cool to a consistency where you can pipe out the ganache to make the dollop.
And there you have it, fancy dessert without speeding hours in making it. With mixes, the possibilities are endless once you get creative with your recipe.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Out of the Box

Once again I am having trouble uploading pictures onto our computer so that I can post them on here. And while I didn't have a ton of pictures for you all today, I did have some, and they would have helped to demonstrate my point of the blog. Anyway, I figured I would still post, sans pictures, and hope to get them posted later this week.

With the holiday season upon us, I have lots of baking to do, and last week was no exception. My husband need a Thanksgiving themed dessert for a pig out at his work. I also had some friends over for a jewelry party, and had promised everyone goodies. So to make life easier, I turn to my good friends Duncan Hines and the Pillsbury Doughboy. Now don't be so surprised and please pick your jaw up off the floor. Yes, there are times I use mixes. Duncan Hines makes a kick ass brownie, and it's a lot easier then chopping all the chocolate. I know people see using mixes as cheating or just buying store bought bake goods, but if you really think about it, even if you use a mix, it's still home made, it's just not from scratch. Now, don't get be wrong, I just didn't open a box, bake it off and then tried to pass it off as some wonderful creation. I doctored everything, adding components that were made from scratch to my mixes. For The pig out party at Jeff's work, I made brownies two ways. The first was a caramel apple brownie, were I topped the brownie mix with chopped apples and caramel chips. The second was a pumpkin cream cheese swirl brownie. Here I made the pumpkin cream cheese mix and then added it to the brownie mix. (when I get my pictures on here, I will include the recipe for the pumpkin cream cheese filling along with another recipe).

My next fancying up of mixes came when I made mini brownies for the jewelry party. I had some leftover pumpkin mix, so I made some mini brownie cupcakes, topped them with the pumpkin mix and baked. After they were cool, I topped them with a dollop of yummy ganache. They were the hit of the night. Also for that night, I took a roll of Pillsbury Crescent dough (the sheet, not the rolls), made up a filling of butter, cinnamon and brown sugar, and made some mini cinnamon rolls. Once they were cooled, I took some cream cheese and some caramel sauce to make a nice icing for the rolls. And here's a little tip about caramel sauce. Caramel sauce is not something I usually keep in house, and I wasn't going to make a batch of it just for a little icing. So what I did was use the caramel sauce that comes with McDonald's Apple Dippers. You might find this crazy, but our kids don't eat the apples with the sauce (keeping part of the Happy Meal healthy), so we save a few for occasions just like this. Then you have caramel sauce and not the messy jar that always seals itself shut.

So after confessing to using mixes sometimes, I hope you all don't think any less of my baking skills, and see this post as a new way to make something spectacular, yet easy on you. You really can do a lot with mixes, heck there are books out there on this whole subject. And when you need something fast, mixes can be a great help, and still be home made.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Birthday Goodies for a Halloween Pumpkin

Pam, one of the Moms from my playgroup, has an adorable little girl, Hayden, who was having her first birthday on, you guessed it (or maybe you didn't if you don't pay attention to the titles) Halloween. So Pam contacted me to see if I could make some cupcakes and a smash cake for the party. Her request was for a pumpkin smash cake and cupcakes with a girly Halloween theme. I read this and thought, what fun! So after thinking and making up some sample cupcakes, I came up with a mummy with a pink bow, a black cat, and a pink witch's hat with a little black flower. To make these creations, I need to make up some marshmallow fondant (my recipe for the day...see I told you I would include one again soon). This recipe is very easy, not too messy and gives you a nice product to work with. So without further ado...here we go!

8 ounces marshmallows

2 Tbsp water

1 to 2 pounds powdered sugar

Crisco (or any type of vegetable shortening)

Put the marshmallows in a heatproof bowl and add the water. Put the bowl in the microwave and heat it for about 2 minutes until the marshmallows puff up. Stir the marshmallows until they get smooth. If you want to, you can add food color or give it flavor. Adding the color now does help reduce any mess of coloring the fondant by hand (learned that from personal experience and very colorful hands).

Now add the powdered sugar and stir the mixture with a well greased spoon. Keep adding powdered sugar until it looks like a dough. Turn out the dough on a greased work surface and with your hands, greased with Crisco, start kneading the fondant. Keep adding a little powdered sugar at a time until it is not sticky anymore.

Be careful not to use to much powdered sugar because it could make it too dry. When it feels pliable and ready to roll, you have your fondant. If you are not using the marshmallow fondant right away then rub a bit of Crisco on it, wrap it in plastic wrap and seal it in a airtight bag or container. But if you do want to get started on your creation, you are now are ready to roll out the fondant, or shape it anyway you like.

Pink Lemonade cupcake with vanilla buttercream and pink witches hat.

Chocolate cupcake with vanilla buttercream and black cat .

Vanilla cupcake with vanilla buttercream. The eyes and bow are made out of the marshmallow fondant.

Chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream and marshmallow fondant stem.

Happy First Birthday Hayden. Hope you had a spooktacular time! (sorry couldn't resist)