Friday, December 23, 2011

Week 51 :: Holiday Cupcakes!

This week I was able to make three sets of cupcakes.  My dear friend Sara helped me create these wonderful treats and I was lucky to have her assistance.  

First, some holiday cupcakes for Reagan's (Sara's daughter) school party.  And the snowman cupcake was born!

Then there were Christmas Cupcakes for work....

...the Christmas Tree Cupcake, complete with golden stars, ornaments and presents.  Sara is truly a natural at decorating!

Lastly, were baby gender surprise cupcakes:

This was such a special job.  A sweet co-worker of mine is pregnant with twins and the next ultrasound was to reveal the gender!  The results are going to be kept secret and handed to the sister who is planning a reveal surprise--which involves cupcakes!  I made two boy and two girl cupcakes for the sister, so she will be the only one to know before Mom and Dad.  Externally the cupcakes are all the same, but filled with pink and blue buttercream--when Mom and Dad bite in to the cupcakes they will find out the gender of the little-ones-to-be!  SO very excited to see how this turns out!

Just one more week to go!  Eeek! 

In the mean time...Merry Christmas and Happy Baking!! 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Week 50 :: Christmas Treats

I have always loved home made treats at Christmas time.  There is just something about the time and love that goes in to making Christmas treats that makes them that much sweeter (pun intended!)

Linzer Cookies
Over the past year many of you that live nearby have been able to try my sweets.  Many of my loved ones that live far away haven't been able to, so I thought--perfect opportunity!

Completed Tin

I was fortunate in that my Mom was easily recruited for the task.  She is full of great baking ideas and has quite a bit of experience herself.  After much deliberation and a carefully planned grocery list we ended up with Linzer Cookies, Macaroons, Gingerbread Men, Mint Fudge (below), Peppermint Bark, Sugar Cookies, Pfeffernusse Cookies and Peanut Butter Balls.  Phew!

Peppermint Bark

Many of the recipes we used are linked above.  Here is the recipes for the Mint Fudge (super easy):

Mint Fudge
Mint Fudge
Prep time :: 10 minutes
Chill time :: 1+ hours
Yields :: 2-3 dozen fudge squares
  • 1 lb. milk chocolate
  • 1 lb. semisweet chocolate
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp. peppermint extract
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. Melt chocolate and butter in a saucepan on low heat stirring constantly.
  2. Once chocolate is fully melted and smooth, remove from heat.  Immediately add sweetened condensed milk and extracts.  Mix well.
  3. Spread mixture on a wax paper lined 11x7 inch baking dish.  Allow to set in the refrigerator for at least one hour before cutting.

    Note :: For perfect fudge squares, let fudge sit a room temperature for 20 minutes before cutting.  Run a sharp knife under hot water and wipe dry before each cut.

We tasted everything (a few times to be sure) and I am really happy with how everything came out. Somehow I missed taking pictures of the Pfefferneuse Cookies and the Peanut Butter Balls before everything disappeared.  It was my Mom's idea to do Pfeffernusse Cookies and I am so glad we did.  There were by far my favorite and they have pepper in them--go figure!  Until next time...

Gingerbread People

Happy Christmas Baking!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Week 49 :: Cake Catch-up!

These past couple of weeks have been crazy with cake baking!  While exhausting I have thoroughly enjoyed it.  Here is quite a long re-cap of the cakes I have missed posting and some ideas/tips.

Happy Birthday Andres!

Double-yay for couponing and new cakes pans! I found a coupon in the paper this week for 50% off a full-priced item at Michaels (these coupons circulate almost every week).  I haven't bought many shaped pans (I usually carve the shapes), so I thought this would be a good opportunity to add to the collection for less than $7.  My friend Andres is a soccer fan and perfect circles are very difficult to carve so I thought the soccer ball pan would be perfect for several projects.

... and Happy Birthday Kietya!

This week I was asked to make another cheerleader cake for a girl's 13th birthday.  I remade this little girls head several times but I am happy with the way that it finally turned out.  I use star, heart, letter and square cutouts all the time.  They are inexpensive and super helpful in cake decorating and can be found here.

...and Happy Birthday Nikki! 

This cake was for another 13-year-old's birthday that happened to be the daughter of a dear friend I work with.  She had the party at the Brentwood Skate Center (so fun!) complete with pizza and cake.  I will be double that age next year but would it still be cool to have a party there?  I would require 80s themed attire and music, of course ;o)

Again, I used the awesome star and letter cutouts, but I also used pearly dust to create the gold effects (it is edible, as always).  I have found the easiest way to create cutouts like the dancer is to print the shape out, cut out of wax paper and trace with an exacto-knife into the fondant.  Is this the technical way to do it, you ask?  No idea--most of what I do is trial and error until I find something that works for me.  Often I find that when I try to do it "by-the-book" I either don't get it or it just doesn't work out.  On the other hand, sometime when I do it "by-the-book" I think "OH!  That is a whooooole lot easier and prettier."  In sum, if it doesn't work for you, just find another way to do it.  I honestly can't telly ou how many things I have redone or thrown out.

...and Happy Birthday Chloe!

Then there was a Sweet 16 Cake for Miss Chloe who loves make-up.  I researched some of her favorite products and made the decorations accordingly.  I tried a new trick with this cake as well--after I made the cake, assembled and dirty-iced it, I froze it.  When I was ready to decorate, I removed it from the freezer, gave the dirty ice another coat and then decorated while still frozen.  Well--don't do that.  Because the cake is so cold it causes the fondant to condensate and get really hard.  It all worked out OK in the end but I wouldn't do it again.

...and another Baby Shower!

The baby cake was a repeat request from an earlier week, but fun to try again.  The "box lid" is made out of rice crispies covered in buttercream and fondant.  I don't make a lit of things out of rice crispies; however, there are times when logistically you need something like this lid to hold it's shape with little support and it is perfect to use rice crispie treats!  the baby and all other decorations are made of fondant.

Phew....Happy Baking!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Week 48 :: Happy Birthday Liam!

Happy Birthday Liam!

This week was a busy cake week, but there was one cake in particular that was extra special.  My sweet friend Shay asked me to make her little one's FIRST birthday cake!  He is a unique little boy with what appears to be an affinity for yellow--bananas, giraffes, and his favorite dump truck which happens to guessed it--yellow!  So after much brainstorming came the Giraffe-Driven-Banana-Hauling-Dump-Truck!

Happy Baking!!