Monday, November 28, 2011

Pumpkin Required

In my opinion, Thanksgiving requires that all baked goods have pumpkin in them. Why, you make ask. I don't know, that's just the way it is. So, I made spiced chocolate pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for some people at my husbands job. Soooo good, really!
I had left over cupcakes, perfect for our Thanksgiving desserts. Only, I did not feel like making cream cheese frosting, too effort. Instead, I made caramel frosting. So simple! Melt butter and brown sugar, bring to a boil, add milk, then confectioners sugar, whip it. While the frosting is still warm, dip the cupcakes into it. Let me tell you, these were out of this world mmmmm, delicious! I topped them off with little fondant pumpkins because, I just had to!

Can She Make a Cherry Pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy....?

Over the summer, when the cherries were ripe, I decided I should make a cherry pie for Thanksgiving. I purchased a cherry pitter, pitted the cherries, which were purchased at the farm market, and froze them. I was so excited about this pie! I got the recipe from "Confessions of A Master Closet Baker" by Gesine Bullock Prado. One of my all time favorite books! 
It was not a perfect pie :-(.  First, the juices oozed out of the crust. I anticipated this and put a baking sheet on the rack below. Thank God I did because it was like a lava flow! It had been in the oven for nearly an hour when I took it out. The crust did not look quite done in certain places. Weird, right? So I turned up the heat and that did the trick of browning it. Out of the oven again and onto a cooling rack. Something just was not right. When I tilted the pie a little, there was a wave of motion. What the hell? I realized it was juice from the cherries and proceed to dump some out but was afraid of breaking up the crust so I didn't drain it all. That's when it went back into the oven for another 30 minutes! When the pie came out of the oven, it actually looked pretty good! It also tasted outrageous! I am looking forward to next summers cherries and will not wait for thanksgiving to make a pie.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Chocolate Ruffles

       It was time for our annual gathering of family before my mother-in-law returns to Florida for the year. This event always falls out at the same time as my brother-in-law's birthday. He is a huge chocolate lover so every year he requests a very "chocolatey" cake and I am always happy to indulge him. This year my m.i.l. asked me to include all the birthdays of everyone present by writing " Happy Birthday Everyone". I still hate writing on cakes so I used leftover fondant letters from previous cakes. Somewhat of a cop out, I know.
       The decorating of this cake was inspired by a cake I saw on another cake blog. I thought it was so beautiful. The baker had piped vertical rows of butter cream ribbon, graduating the coral color from light to dark. It was stunning. Since I was making chocolate, I decided that graduating from dark to light would be so lovely. I "mis"remembered what the inspiration cake looked like, that is why my ruffles are horizontal. I actually ran out of butter cream!
         To assure that my brother-in-law's chocolate desire was fulfilled, I made a dark chocolate cake with a brownie and chocolate glaze filling. It was out of this world!

Monday, October 17, 2011


Every year I try to add something new. This year I made cupcakes that look like  bloody brains and also a bloodshot eyeball. Fun and quiet yummy in a creepy way!
(Last years pictures were much better.)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Chocolate Candy Cake

This  cake was made to celebrate the eighteenth birthday of a friends son. How well  does anyone know an eighteen year old boy, who knows what they want? Nothing too feminine, meaning no flowers or maybe "man" flowers, what ever that might be. What are his favorite things? Kinda hard to know when he doesn't reveal too much about himself. I was stumped. So I just started looking at  pictures of cakes, not a hardship I can assure you! I came across a few cakes that were decorated with candy, not cutesy but rather sophisticated. That was what I would do! I made my version using "Kit Kat" bars around the circumference, as well as malted milk balls. Originally I wanted to use fall colored "M&M's" also. After going to four different stores, I realized that would not happen. No one had them,arghhhh! Ah, but "Reese's Pieces" come in fall colors. With peanut butter on my mind I thought of "Reese's Peanut Butter Cups" and decided to chop them up and put them in between the layers. "Oh no", I thought, "what if someone has a peanut allergy!". A quick text, and I got he okay to go ahead with the peanut butter. So, I made a 12" vanilla layer cake with chocolate butter cream frosting and tons of candy. It was fun and I want a piece. Maybe there are leftovers :-)

Monday, August 22, 2011

First and Last (wedding cake)

I finally made a wedding cake. I loved so many aspects of doing it but quite frankly, I will never do it again! I know, "never say never", but as of today that is how I feel. It was so stressful, the worry over every little thing was monumental. 
  The most difficult part was leveling the cake and stacking it. My dowels were so exact because I shaved and sanded the ends to make sure they were all perfectly matched. I used a level when trimming the cake to assure that they were just right. This cake was level.!
  Another problem I had was placing butter cream flowers up the side of the cake. I made them 3 days in advance and left them (in a safe place) out to dry. They were still fragile and I lost quite a few in placement. I made plenty just in case of this. 
  It is August, it is hot and humid. I started the car and ran the A/C to get it cool enough so the cake wouldn't melt in transport. My husband carried the cake down stairs while I was outside, he didn't want me to watch because I would have made him nervous. Than he took it out of the house to soon and I thought I would have a heart attack! He said I acted a little psyhco. Who, me?
We drove to the wedding location, about 20 minutes away, in a freezing cold car. I was wishing for gloves. We live in a rural area, so there were lots of hills and curves along the way. A few flowers fell off the cake, but I was prepared with extra flowers and butter cream. Also a piping bag and spatulas.  

  I can't tell you how relieved I was to have this over with. I have worried since then about the possibility of the flowers falling off before the cake was served, or the cats who were lurking around had a butter cream feast when know one was looking. Most of all, I worry about whether they loved it or not!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Do You Want Fries With that?

I have been wanting to make a hamburger cake and was so happy when someone asked for one for their son's birthday! The cake was made of  3 layers, two vanilla, one chocolate. The chocolate became the burger and obviously the vanilla layers became the bun. I froze the cake in order to carve the shapes. (I heard freezing made it easier to carve) Since I wasn't using fondant, I did a modernist spin on the  tomatoes, onions and pickles with butter cream. The lettuce was also made from butter cream but it was actually leafy looking. There was no cheese on this burger because the birthday boy is not a fan of cheeseburgers. I don't know what happened to the condiments after the hamburger bun top was put on. Did they maintain their shape or did it all squish into one mass of butter cream? I think the most difficult part was mixing the color for the bun. I actually used a real bun as my guide along with my daughter Jess's acute sense of color mixing. I hope it was a hit with the birthday boy and enjoyed by all!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Duggan's Island Birthday Cake

Wow, I don't know where to begin this story. I guess with the inspiration; When I was a child my family had a small wooden outboard motorboat. It may as well have been a yacht! We loved that boat. On summer weekends my dad would hitch it up to the trailer while my mom made a picnic lunch then off to the boatyard we'd go. All six of us plus the dog would hop in and we'd sail off on our great adventure in the Great South Bay of Long Island. We lived dangerously, my mom did not know how to swim and we wore no life jackets and sunscreen was non existent. There's no way we could get away with that today! On our adventure, we came across a little uninhabited island in the bay which we claimed as our own and immediately christened  "Duggan's Island". We had a blast!!!! This has always been such a great memory.
Fast forward almost 5o years. My dad's 83rd birthday is coming up and I want to make an over the top cake that represented part of our lives. (I also wanted to practice stacking a cake, harder than I thought. As you will see, it is slightly crooked) I decided on a beach theme since so much of our formative years were spent at the beach. Then I remembered the boat and the island and knew that was where I wanted to go with this. I knew I made the right choice when my father brought up the island in a conversation we were having.
The bottom tier, which represents the ocean, is a 10", 3 layer  red velvet cake without the red. The shells are made of candy melts and brushed with luster dust. I made sand out of brown sugar and crushed  graham crackers over tinted royal icing. Sadly, I did not have enough so couldn't bring it to the edge.The next tier, which represents the beach and sky, is an 8", 3 layer vanilla cake filled with strawberries. The 3rd tier, representing the fluffy clouds in the sky, is a 6", 3 layer coconut cake with lemon curd filling, frosted with seven minute icing and  covered with coconut. All of this topped with a blazing sun. The boat, the sign, the fish, the birds and the sun are made of fondant.

I loved making this cake and learned so much while doing it. My father loved it and that, to me, is the most important thing!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Club Penguin Birthday Cake

A friend of mine asked me if I could make a "Club Penguin" birthday cake for her granddaughter. I said "sure, what is Club penguin?" I really had never heard of it, but why would I? Anyway, she brought over pictures of some cakes that had been made with "Club Penguin" characters so I would have some idea what I was getting into. It seemed simple enough to do.......
I had never made 3D figures for a cake before. So I did some research and found out how to use rice cereal treats to make them. That was the easy part. Covering them in fondant, which I initially thought would be easy, was more challenging than I imagined. I figured it out after some trial and error and maybe a few curses too. They did turn out pretty decent for a first attempt. 
They were huge, totally out of scale for an 8" cake, but I made it work!

Boxing it up was another challenge. Here is a picture of the" jimmy rig" I did. I set another cake box over the cardboard sides that I taped on.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Strawberries; a great way to kick off the summer, it is coming...

I saw a Martha Stewart recipe for strawberry cupcakes with strawberry frosting, my mouth began to water. I have been wanting to make a strawberry cake. Since they were on sale and my daughter had a friend visiting from college, the timing was perfect. I had to make a cake for our guest. I decided to make a vanilla cake,(so many tunnels, another story) fill it with strawberries and make strawberry frosting. I wasn't sure how many strawberries to use in the frosting so I guessed about six. I think it was too many because it was a very soft. I added more sugar and it was too sweet and maybe too stiff, so I added a few more strawberries and a dash of lemon( I read that would cut the sweetness some). I suppose I should have followed the recipe. I chopped up some strawberries for the filling, about six, and then gave the inner layers a crumb coat of frosting so the juice did not absorb into the cake. I was concerned about sogginess. The frosting was a little soft so I refrigerated it and it was fine. As you will see in the picture, some of the juice leaked but that did not have any affect on the cake. It was delicious, I had a large piece just to be sure. Then I had a smaller piece for breakfast to make sure it was still good. It was. 
I packed it up for my daughter to take with her when she returned to Philadelphia. Otherwise, I would have had it for lunch too :-)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Over the Rainbow for the GSA

This is the second time I have made this cake. The first time was for Samantha's 21st birthday. This time I made it for "The First Annual GSA Gala" for the local high school. When I got the invitation for this event, I was immediately planning to make this rainbow cake.
I noted that when I cut open Samantha's cake the seven minute white frosting had disappeared. I think it absorbed into the cake. This time when I made it, I brushed simple syrup on the cake hoping to seal it and prevent the above from occurring again. It worked somewhat. I'd still like to see more white in between the layers. I'll try more icing along with the simple syrup next time.
Then there is the frosting on the top. I tried to mimic what was on the inside but the colors got muddied. I couldn't help but think "Cake Wrecks". But then I added some piped dots and that helped it. I do love how seven minute frosting stays in whatever shape is made; the peaks are fabulous. The cake was delicious and well received.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Flowers for Mom

I made these beautiful cupcakes to give to Mom on Mother's Day. Flowers say "I love you" and they satisfy your sweet tooth at the same time!

Butterflies Are Free

Butterflies, so pretty and delicate, just like these cookies!

Here Comes The Sun....

Put a little sunshine in your life. These sunny cookies are made from my favorite cookie recipe. Such a simple recipe with only five ingredients. I never tire of making them or eating them!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Overwhelmed by Bunnies and Chicks

I could not believe what I had gotten myself into! These sweet, adorable little confections. Who could resist? Who knew~..........? What a pain in the ass they were. I got the idea from Bakerella's book "Cake Pops". Instead of serving them on a stick I decided to put them in mini cupcake papers. I also decided to use brownies so I could skip the butter cream step. They mush up very nicely and become almost truffle like. I proceed to dip them, messy and time consuming. Then I have to quickly stick in the bunny ears before the candy coating gets hard otherwise it cracks. I learned that the hard way. Then to my horror, the oil used in the brownie recipe starts to seep out from around the ears. Not on all of them though. It seemed to be the ones who's ears got stuck in last. I was dipping five, then putting in ears, dipping five, then putting in ears etc...
The chick were just as much a p.i.t.a.. I had to use tweezers to put on all the feet, beaks and wings. I kept thinking "I am out of my mind".

I never want to do this again, ...until next Easter, hahahahah!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Happy Birthday to my husband

I think this is the best cake I ever made! It is a recipe from the King Arthur Flour website. It was easy and delicious. My husband requested a vanilla cake with vanilla butter cream and strawberry filling. This recipe made two very tall 8" layers so I sliced them in half to make four layers. I thought I had more strawberries but I guess we ate more that I realized. It would have been nice to have more for the filling, oh well, it was still great.
Here's the hard part; I have always wanted to make a french meringue butter cream. I had a Martha Stewart recipe filed away for future use and this was the moment. Martha said to beat the egg whites and sugar in a double boiler until they reached 160 degrees. I fould it very difficult to beat this and take its temp at the same time. While beating, the pot kept moving off the burner and I was afraid it would fall off the stove causing serious injury to the beater, namely, me. I also got a blister on my hand which is a sign I need a new whisk.The mixture kept getting stiffer and stiffer but the temp was rising soooo slowly. At 140 degrees I gave up and removed the bowl from the double boiler and place it under the kitchen aid whisk. The whole thing had to get thrown out, it was so thick and chunky. I definitely have to find another recipe which doesn't require 160 degrees. Could that have been a misprint? I made regular butter cream instead which was, as always, wonderful!
Everyone loved the cake and I could not have been prouder. Even the birthday boy, who typically does not eat cake, ate some!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Baileys Irish Cream Cake

It's time again for the "Wearin' of the Green". It's time to celebrate all things Irish. What could be better than Baileys Irish Cream Cake. I found this recipe on the "Too Many Chefs" website. It sounded delicious and it is delicious!
I made these mini filled cupcakes for my husband to bring to work. They were gone in the blink of the eye. It is a good thing he got them out of the house because I would have been snacking on them all day today. Even now I wish I had stashed a few of them for my own personal enjoyment.

The luck of the Irish

Once again, my favorite cookies dressed up for St. Patrick's Day. Hence the title.

As you may have noticed in my pictures, my icing has been discoloring. Patches of a lighter shade appear after the icing sets. Perplexing to say the least, ugly to say the most. I called my sister-in-law Joanne, whose recipe, I use and asked her about it's cause. She suggested that perhaps I am getting water in the icing. Ahh Haaa! That is a possibility because I started painting the icing on the cookie and my brush may not have been entirely dry before I used a new color. Also, I have taken to sprinkling a little water in the icing while trying to get the right consistency. And maybe when I pipe on,the icing the tips are not completely dry. I have to exercise diligence to make sure that no water gets in the mix. We'll see how it comes out.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Promise of Spring

The winter has been harsh but the promise of spring is here. Some of the trees have buds, crocuses have bloomed, lawns are appearing from under the layers of snow and my heart turns to.....COOKIES.
I made this sunny batch of cookies for a friend who is recovering from surgery. Do you know the healing power of cookies??? Especially when they look like spring.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Just for Fun

Do you know how you save things, sometimes for years, just knowing you will need it some day? Well, I finally got to use one of those things. For my daughter's 13th birthday we did a tropical theme and bought little paper umbrellas to put in the drinks. All of them did not get used so I put them away knowing that someday I would need one. That was 8 years ago.
Fast forward to 2011. A friend of my husbands wanted a vanilla cake with pineapple filling. Pineapple made me think of the little umbrellas I had stashed away. This was also an opportunity for me to decorate a cake with something other than flowers.
This is the result. I think one umbrella is just enough. Great restraint was exercised not to use more because I wanted it to be about the pineapple

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Wear Red (Velvet)

I love Red Velvet cake. I use the McCormick's recipe and it is delicious every time. This time I made cupcakes for someone who wanted a dozen for Valentines Day. I made a 6" cake with the rest of the batter. Damn, I burned the cupcakes! :-(
I have a cupcake pan that I have long suspected of burning cupcakes. I have two pans of different makes. Whenever I make two dozen they turn out different from each other but I could never remember which ones came out of which pan. Now I know for certain who the offending pan is and vow never to use that pan again! (oh, how I hate to throw stuff out that will end up in a landfill)
Anyway, the new batch came out perfect and was scrumptious. (I always sample)