Monday, October 31, 2011

Ghost Cupcakes

As usual I am running behind!  I wanted to post these for Halloween.  Nothing like waiting until the last minute!  Ghost Cupcakes - I thought they were adorable.  I got the idea from a picture in Food Network Magazine that a friend brought over.  I made chocolate cupcakes and covered them with chocolate fudge frosting - yum.  I stuck an unwrapped lollipop into the cupcake to hold up the ghost.  Then I used a 4" circle cutter to cut circles out of white fondant for the ghost body.  I had to mold the fondant to get the ghost body to look right.  I used black icing for the eyes and tip number 3.  They were easy to make and really cute!

Happy Halloweeen!  We will be trick or treating tonight with Lightning McQueen and a Blue One Eyed Moster!

S'mores Cupcakes

I wanted to try these cupcakes because I love S'mores and they are so comforting and it is getting cold here!  I used the Perfectly Chocolate Cupcake recipe and made my cupcakes.  I made sure to fill my cupcake liners only half full with the batter.  The cupcakes baked a little over the top of the liner so next time I may try to add even less batter! 

Next up was the Marshmallow Frosting.  I got the recipe from the Glorious Treats Blog.  I made the frosting according to the directions and it did not come out ok!!  My frosting was so thin.  I couldn't pipe it on the cupcakes (see picture).  I just had to spoon it on. 

I hate when something doesn't come out right.  Drives me bonkers!!  I knew what I did wrong.  Directions step 3 - beat the egg white mixture for about 2 minutes.  Well - I am a very literal person and that is exactly what I did.  WRONG!  I needed to make sure the egg whites thickened and became like a meringue.  So I made the frosting a second time.  I put the whisk attachment on my mixer and beat them for a long, long, long time.  I would say over 10 minutes.  The frosting came out better and because I was bringing them to a party I didn't have time to make it a third time.  So I went with it. 

I piped the frosting onto the cupcakes with a 1M tip.  I browned the frosting with my handy dandy kitchen torch.  I am so happy that we have found another use for that thing.  We have had it for 7 years and have maybe used it twice.  Be careful doing this though - it does get hot!  Then we put a piece of graham cracker and hershey bar on each cupake and done! 

Next time I would make sure I beat the egg white mixture on high with my whisk attachment for a long time until they were very thick.  And - I should have followed my own rule of not baking something for the first time when I need to take it somewhere!  I will definately make these again.  Love the marshmallow frosting.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloween Cupcakes

I am not sure if you guys are like me, but if you are, you like things that are simple.  I don't have a lot of extra space in my head for complicated recipes.  That is why I have always made my cupcakes, cakes or brownies from a box.  But since I am now on a quest to become a better baker I need to start experimenting with recipes from scratch.  I have made things from scratch before like the Carrot Cake Cupcakes I made a few weeks ago or the Buche de Noel cake I made for Christmas last year (definately one for the blog if I make it again!)  I searched the web and found a recipe for Perfectly Chocolate Cupakes on the Glorious Treats blog and decided to go with them.

The real test with these cupcakes is whether or not I would be able to make them with two toddlers at my feet!  I preheated my oven to 350*F and got to work.  Everything went smoothly and was much easier than I thought.  I filled my muffin pans and popped them in the oven.  The recipe says to fill the liners 2/3 full with batter.  I was using a large measuring cup to pour the batter in and it flowed fast.  I think most of my cupcakes were a little more than 2/3 full.  That resulted in a larger cupcake top then I would have liked - see photos below.

Once they were cooled I frosted them with my favorite buttercream recipe, which I will post at some point (if you want it now leave a comment and I can email it to you.)  I wanted a white/orange striped look for the frosting so before I filled my piping bag I used a toothpick to line each seam of the bag with orange gel food coloring.  Then carefully filled the bag with frosting and was on my way.  Another great tip from Glorious Treats!! 

I have to say this experience of baking from scratch was great.  It was a lot easier than I thought and I know I will be doing a lot more of it in the future!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Blue Cake Pops

Ok - I have a confession.  I love cake pops.  This is the third time I have made them and it gets easier each time.  I used chocolate cake and vanilla frosting.  I melted my candy in a double boiler instead of the microwave.  I found that worked better for me, no burnt candy!   I did add a little shortening to the melted candy to get a smoother consistency and to make dipping the cake pops easier. 

I have seen so many beautiful cake pops decorated with sprinkles and it seems easier than doing a Jack O' Lantern or something else.  Since I was short on time I decided not to decorate them in much detail.  I did try decorating them with three different kind of sprinkles: Rainbow Nonpareils, Polka Dot Nonpareils, and White Sparkling Sugar Sprinkles.  The White Sparkling Sugar Sprinkles won.  They worked the best with the blue color of the candy.  They tasted really good but didn't quite give me the look I was searching for.

I will keep practicing with cake pops!!  So yummy.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cake Batter Chocolate Bark

Two things I love - chocolate (of course) and other blogs about food.  I found another blog called How Sweet It Is.  As I was looking around I found a recipe for Cake Batter Chocolate Bark.  Cake batter and chocolate?  I love it!  I am always getting in trouble for eating the batter so this recipe sounded like a way for me to get what I love and not get in so much trouble.

The recipe was easy and didn't take that long.  I used a double boiler to melt my dark chocolate. 

Poured it onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and put it in the freezer for 20 minutes. 

Then melted my white chocolate and whisked in the cake batter, poured it on top of the dark chocolate, added sprinkles and back in the freezer for 20 more unbearable minutes!!  When it is done chilling break into chunks.

The end result was fantastic and everyone loved it.  While you are not eating it, which is hard to imagine, you must keep it in the fridge.  We didn't have that problem.  Next time we are going to try it with milk chocolate and peppermint (special request :)).

Monday, October 17, 2011

Dad's 75th Golf Birthday Cake

My Dad loves to golf!  For his 75th birthday I decided I would make him a golf cake.  There are so many great ideas out there.  I wanted the cake to look like a golf green.  I baked a double layer chocolate cake with rich buttercream frosting as the filling.  Dad loves chocolate so it is a perfect filler for him!The rich chocolate buttercream recipe is from The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook.  It is very rich and should be classed as a dessert all by itself - it is so yummy!  I have the recipe at the end of this post.

I made a double batch of buttercream frosting and colored it green.  I used wilton green, wilton blue and americolor forest green.  Getting the green I wanted was probably the hardest part.  I kept adding more and more coloring.  The frosting was looking very minty so I added some blue which made it darker like I imagined a golf course would look.

I frosted the entire cake in the buttercream.  Drew outlines for my golf green, water hazard and sand trap.  The rest of the top of the cake I frosted using tip 233 to make it look like grass.  I liked doing this because it hid the buttercream and so that didn't have to be completely smooth.

I wanted the cake to have a water hazard and sand trap.  For the water hazard I used piping gel.  I colored it blue and frosted underneath it with white so the blue would show thru.  Looking at it now I wish I had made it a darker blue - maybe next time.  I used my mortar and pestle to crush graham crackers to use for the sand trap.  I had to travel with the cake and I didn't add the graham crackers until we got to our destination.  I didn't want them to soak into the buttercream.

I also have somewhat of a scrapbooking addiction and I used my Cricut machine to cut out the flag and 75 for the golf flag.  I used a wooden dowl for the flag pole and voila - I was done!!  I think Dad enjoyed it :)

Rich Chocolate Buttercream

2 (1 Ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
2 (1 Ounce) squares semisweet chocolate
1 cup butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

- Melt chocolate
- Beat Butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.  Add chocolate, powdered sugar, and remaining ingredients.  Beat until spreading consistency.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011

    Frosting For The Cause

    I am so excited! I am going to bake for Frosting for the Cause on December 18th. Check out their website at . It is an honor! And nerve racking - I am going to start practicing now :)

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    Jack-O-Lantern Cake Pops

    In the spirit of Halloween and our trip to the pumpkin patch I decided to make Jack-O-Lantern cake pops.  I have made cake pops one other time and they came out pretty good (no pictures of them - darn!) so I thought these would be a breeze.  And they aren't that hard, but there are a lot of steps and in-between the steps you need to chill the cake pops so it can be time consuming.
    I made my cake, let it cool and crumbled it into pieces with my hands.  I looked at Bakerella's blog for inspiration.  I don't want mine to be too gooey so for one cake I used 1/2 cup of frosting which is Wilton's recipe.  I mixed the frosting in with my hands and rolled them into cake pops.  It is like rolling meatballs!  The neat thing is that you really can do any shape, think - ghosts or train - whatever!  After you roll them they must go into the fridge for a couple of hours.  When you take them out you are ready to insert the lollipop stick.  Dip your lollipop stick into melted candy - color of your choice, I used orange- and insert stick half way into cake pop.  Make sure you  use the same color for the stick as you are going to use for the pop.  Then back in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes until the candy has set.

    Next dip the cake pop into your melted candy.  Here is where I had trouble!  You can melt your candy in the microwave according to the package directions or using a double boiler.  I chose microwave - anything to save time!!  My problem - I burnt my candy first time around.  I kept thinking it wasn't melting and would put it in again.  When you overheat the candy it gets really thick.  YUCK!  I had to throw it out and start over.  The trick is to really, really stir the candy between each microwave trip.  I got the candy right and dipped my pops.  Once you dip you can gently tap the pop against the side of the bowl to remove excess candy.  Then back in the fridge!

    Now that my pops are covered in orange candy and chilled I can decorate.  I used green icing to add the pumpkin stem and black food coloring to draw the faces on.  Let me tell you - the food coloring is really hard to use as paint!!  I wanted to use an edible pen but only needed black and didn't want to buy the five pack of pens so figured I could just use food coloring - Wrong!!  The pen would have been much better and that is what I will use next time.

    So lessons learned from Jack-O-Lantern cake pops - 1.  Don't overheat your candy melts!!  2.  Buy the right tools, in this case the edible pens!

    Cake pops definately catch my interest.  They are so versatile.  I am sure you will see them again.  And the most important thing??  Very tasty!!