Thursday, January 9, 2014

Christmas Cake and Cookie Ideas for Next Year!

 So I baked these LAST YEAR.  I didn't have a chance to post them before Christmas last year so I saved them for this year.  AND FORGOT.  So now I'm posting them for an idea for next year. 
 Most unorganized baker/blogger EVER.  Anyways, I found inspiration for these cookies on some stickers I bought from the Dollar Tree.  They are super cute and I usually do them every year.  The best part of decorating is finding the inspiration in cards, stickers, or decals--especially if your friend gave you a card and you incorporate the design in cookies for them. 
 I baked these cookies for a church bake sale last year.  I hope they raised a lot of money for the church!  I told them to charge $5 a cookie, which is reasonable, considering how much time and effort went into them.  Most of these cookies are quite large. 
 And they all have some edible glitter.  Which should add at least $1 per cookie.  That stuff isn't cheap. 
 But they went to a good cause :)
Here is my Santa Cake!!  I followed Royal Bakery's tutorial.  She is AMAZING and her tutorials are great for beginners. I cannot recommend her enough!

I hope this is inspirational for your baking next year ;)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year and Thick and Chewy Triple Chocolate Cookies!

Happy New Year!

Let's talk about resolutions.  When I was a kid, I tried really hard to come up with New Year's resolutions.  They weren't that great.  Unless you think a kid should make a resolution to budget tv time more prominently in their schedule or avoid vegetables.  In that case, maybe you would have appreciated my resolutions.

Now that I'm older, I don't participate in this tradition.  I believe that if you wait to make a change, you probably don't want to change all that badly and it probably won't last.

I do believe in making goals and changes in your life...just not in putting them off until the beginning of the year.

I have a friend who called my love "stupid" because he decided to make a change in his diet a few weeks ago.  I think his friend honestly believed that waiting until the New Year meant the change would magically come true.

If that is the case, I'm going to be really bummed I didn't make a "don't get fat" resolution.  I would love some magical aids in that department. 

These cookies probably won't help you avoid getting fat.  I've had two for breakfast so far and I plan on eating them for every meal until they're gone. 

These are officially my favorite cookies ever.  I baked them from the Cook's Illustrated Cookbook.  They taste good even a few days later (which I can't claim for some cookies).  Store them in an air tight container at room temperature.   Yield was around 4 dozen. 

FYI The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook is the BEST cookbook known to man.  I cannot recommend it enough!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Pink Ruffle Cake and Bee Party

  So this is one of those parties where EVERYTHING goes wrong.  I had stayed up basically the entire weekend trying to pull off this order and two others and nothing was cooperating---especially the fondant.  I was ready to pull my hair out. 
The cake looks nice from the front, right?  The back wasn't so lucky.  Good thing it was one of those parties were the cake was up against a wall and no one had to see the back.  Oh wait, that's right, it was at a park and the cake was in the center of the party.  Awesome.
 Exhibit A:  When something goes wrong, it goes as wrong as humanly possible.  I had originally designed a very cute yellow fondant covered cake.  Unfortunately, the universe decided that was not going to work out for this party.  I had made my first ever batch of Swiss Meringue buttercream and tinted it pink just for fun.  My plan was to fill and crumb coat the cake with the pink buttercream and cover it with yellow fondant.  The fondant had made a deal with the devil to ruin my life, so I threw the whole batch away.  I brought the cake to the party naked and undecorated and just sat there for a few minutes staring at it.  That was when I remembered the video Melody Brandon from Sweet and Saucy had posted on Youtube, and it literally saved my life.  Ok, just my pride.  Luckily (or unluckily?)  I had just enough buttercream for the front of the cake. 
 The cookies, on the other hand, were awesome. 
I used the design from the baby shower invitation to make some of them.  Others are from my favorite cookier, Sweetsugarbelle

 This is the birthday girl--or at least part of her.  Her mama made her these!
I love doing surprises inside the cake, so this is my attempt to make polka dots.  Some slices showed this technique super well :)

Recipes:

Swiss Meringue Buttercream by Sweetapolita
--I do not recommend this recipe.  I followed it exactly how it was written and it actually made the process about 3 hours longer than it should have been.  I recommend Martha Stewart's recipe. It is fabulous and very easy to follow.

Vanilla Cake: Perfectly Delightful Vanilla Cake by Sweetapolita
--I like this recipe because it bakes 4 8 inch layers without having to double it.

Cookies:  Chocolate Sugar Cookies by Lila Loa.  (She is hilarious and her work is fabulous!)
--I tried making chocolate cut out sugar cookies for the first time.  They were very well received, the cookies were very easy to make, and you didn't have to chill the dough to use it.  I personally did not like the taste of chocolate cookie with royal icing but they do provide a very nice contrast with the icing colors.

 Technique:

Polka Dot Cake by Snowy Bliss
--I left my polka dots whole--less work!

Ruffle Cake by Sweet and Saucy
So, so, so easy to do and looks gorgeous every time!  Melody Brandon was the first to create this technique and it has been seen EVERYWHERE.  She is, by far, my all time favorite cake designer.  Love her!  I took her buttercream class and it was phenomenal.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Rockstar Party


 Yesterday was my niece Kammy's birthday (happy birthday Kam!) and she turned seven years old.  Her birthday party is today and the theme is Pirate Girl.  I nailed it, right?

Actually...this is what I baked for her...last year.  Kinda shocks me that it took me a whole year to post her Rockstar Birthday Party.

 One of the worst things about lagging on posting my work is that I've gotten so much better during that time.  For example, the cake above is pretty cute.  However, now I know how to get the fondant to look pretty clean--without the wrinkles and the cake board showing underneath.  I also know what kind of fondant to use.  The fondant I used for this party is the recipe I have posted in one of my earlier posts.  I've since learned of a better recipe and some store bought brands that I really like.  But that is information for a later post!
 Of course Hello Kitty had to make an appearance!  She's a rockstar, right?
 I made ten gazillion cookies.  I tried to stick to some simple designs because, well, I just didn't feel like tearing my hair out and crying sporadically during the night before the party trying to get everything together. 
 My best friend made some cake pops to put on colored ice cream cones so that the kids could have microphones to eat or possibly sing from. 
 I love putting disco dust on cookies but my photos rarely show how sparkly they are.  If you have a cookie you aren't thrilled with, throw some disco dust on it.  Instantly fabulous.  Or really distracting and shiny. 
 Here is the pretty girl with her cake! 
 The inside of the cake was my favorite part.  I used Sweetapolita's recipe and I tinted the batter three different colors.  Then I used 1/4 cup and dumped the batter into the direct middle of the pan.  I didn't try to spread the batter out, I simply poured it in, grabbed a different color, and poured that directly on top until I filled 2/3 of the pan with batter.  The recipe is really yummy too!
 This is what everyone's slice looked like.  Super fun.
And the inside of the cake :)

Thanks for reading!  See you next month ;)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Hawaiian Party

Does anyone else have a hard time spelling Hawaiian?  I had to Google it.  I'm normally a very talented speller.  My natural method towards reading and writing as a child was memorization based.  I only recently figured out rules on phonetics and sounds...like the silent e on the end of a word makes the vowel say its name.  Thanks, but I'd rather memorize the word.

My main problem now is when I memorize a word incorrectly and I don't notice it.  I think it stems from, instead of seeing the word for what it is, I am seeing what I think is there, and skipping right over it.  Hawaiian, therefore, will probably always be wrong on my first attempt.  Sorry guys, nothing personal. 

I've learned a lot about cake decorating since I've done this party last year.  Yes, sadly, I have had these photos taken, edited, and ready to be posted for a year.  I'm not even going to bother apologizing for the gaps in my posts.  I've done it in basically every post and it hasn't made me post more often.  You know what will?  An assistant!

Who wants to be my assistant?  I pay in cookies, and sometimes, if you are lucky, in sarcasm. 

Just kidding.  Kinda.

I found Glorious Treats and Sweet Sugarbelle's cookie tutorials extremely helpful in making these cookies.  I highly recommend them! Thanks ladies, for always giving us hobby bakers such beautiful tutorials to make our own cookies!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Giveaway Winnner Announced!

The winner of the slow cooker is:

Cherry:  ooh, I'd love this slow cooker! let's see.. my idea for a challenge would be to wait a few minutes before eating something impulsively like chips or cookies. rather, try being more aware and ask yourself whether u really need to eat that.



Slimkicker will email you for details to give you the slow cooker.  Congratulations Cherry!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Angry Birds Triple Chocolate Cupcakes and a Giveaway!

One of my bosses requested some Angry Birds Cupcakes for her son's birthday party.  I found a delicious recipe I really wanted to try from Annie's Eats.  They requested chocolate cupcakes and vanilla cupcakes.  I decided to triple the chocolate because....well I don't need a because.  It is obvious why I tripled the chocolate.  It would be weird if I didn't triple it.  Right?
I made cookie toppers for the cookies and used the royal icing transfer technique to make the birds.  I was short on time and couldn't wait for the icing base to dry on the cookies, so I iced the cookies and got to work on the transfers.  They dried at roughly the same time and then I assembled the best looking toppers onto the cookies.  Which is fortunate because some of them were remarkably less cute than others. 
Gorgeous!  I love this frosting technique, especially when putting a flat topper onto the cookie. 

I also made a batch of vanilla cupcakes, and I used the recipe from Glorious Treats.  She went through a huge process to find the perfect recipe, and I am happy to report, they are really good.  Very easy recipe to follow and very reliable results. 
Triple Chocolate Cupcakes barely adapted from Annie's Eats
Please note that the ingredients are separated with directions for each part of the cupcake.  I find it easier to bake when I can refer to the ingredients near the directions.  Please look at all of the ingredients before you go shopping!

Ingredients for the cupcake portion:
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder [I used Hershey's.  Annie recommends Dutch-process cocoa powder]
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt [Annie recommends coarse salt, I used Trader Joe's Sea Salt]
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter [does not need to be room temperature]
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream at room temperature
Directions for cupcakes:
Preheat oven 350.
Prepare cupcake pan with liners.
Whisk cocoa powder and hot water together in a small bowl until smooth.
Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.
Combine butter and sugar over medium heat in a medium saucepan.  Stir occasionally until butter is melted.  Remove from heat and pour mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. 
Beat butter and sugar mixture on medium low for 4 to 5 minutes or until the mixture is cooled. 
Mix in eggs one at a time and beat well after each egg.  Scrape sides of bowl. 
Mix in vanilla and cocoa mixture and beat until incorporated. 
Set the mixer to low and add in half of the dry ingredients, then half of the sour cream, and then the rest of the dry ingredients, and then the rest of the sour cream until just combined.
Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full.
Bake 18-20 minutes or until you insert a toothpick into the center of the cupcake and it comes out clean.  [Annie recommends to rotate pans halfway through baking.  I never remember to do this, oops]
Cool cupcakes in the pan for 5-10 minutes and then cool completely on a wire rack.

Ingredients for ganache filling:
  • 8 ounces semi sweet chocolate, finely chopped [Annie recommends bittersweet, but I don't like dark chocolate.  Also, I used a food processor because I'm too lazy to chop chocolate.]
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream 
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 4 pieces
Directions for ganache:
 Chop chocolate using a food processor.  Or a knife and cutting board. 
Put chocolate in a medium bowl.
Heat heavy cream in a small saucepan to boiling. 
Remove boiling cream from heat and pour over the chocolate.
Let it stand for a minute undisturbed.
Grab a whisk and stir the mixture gently.
Once smooth, add butter pieces one at a time until incorporated.
Thicken the mixture by either putting it into the refrigerator or freezer, mixing every 5-10 minutes.
Remove once no longer runny.

Assembly:
Use a cupcake corer or a knife to cut out the center portion of the cupcake.  [Annie recommends a cone shape].  Keep the top part of the cupcake center to cover up the ganache center.  Eat or discard the rest.  [I baked these with a friend and she ate the cupcake centers while I filled the cupcakes.  Kinda unfair, right?]
Spoon some ganache into the hole and cover with part of the cupcake center.
Cover the the top of the cupcake center.

Frosting Ingredients:
  • 14 ounces of semi sweet chocolate, finely chopped [Annie recommends bittersweet here too, and I prefer semi-sweet.]
  • 9 ounces of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder [Annie used dutch-process]
  • pinch of salt [according to my measuring set, that is about 1/16 teaspoon of salt]
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespooons sour cream 
Directions for frosting:
Chop chocolate using a food processor or a knife and board.
Melt chocolate in a bowl over a pot of water on the stove. 
Remove from heat and allow to cool until barely warm.
Beat cream cheese and butter on medium high in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, until pale and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.
Mix in sugar, cocoa powder, and salt gradually. 
Beat in the melted/cooled chocolate.
Mix in sour cream.
Continue beating until smooth and well blended.
Frost cupcakes right meow. 

Top with mini cookies with adorably and painstakingly decorated Angry Birds. 

Giveaway time!  Who wants to win a slow cooker?
SlimKicker would love for you to win one!  SlimKicker is a online calorie tracker that takes all your diet + fitness goals and turns them into a level-up game. You upload a picture of something you'll reward yourself such as a new handbag, and when you reach a certain number of points, they''ll remind you to reward yourself with that. SlimKicker also has lots of coupon codes such as Oxy-Powder coupons.
The giveaway will be the same format as the last one.  Please comment, with your email address, a fitness or health challenge idea.  The challenge from the last giveaway was pretty cool, one reader suggested we eat a different colored vegetable every day for a week. 

This giveaway is open to US residents only [sorry!] and will run one week.  SlimKicker will choose their favorite comment and they will send you the slow cooker, so please do not forget to include your email address. 

Here is a link for another giveaway they have going on.  This giveaway is for a Bowflex gym, which is pretty sweet!

Good luck!