Monday, August 30, 2010

Congratulatory Cupcakes part 3 .... Red Velvet

The final dozen I sent to work with the hubby were red velvet with cream cheese frosting.  The cream cheese was way too soft so I added some corn starch and about 18 pounds more powdered sugar .... or maybe just 1 pound.  The recipe called for a milk and flour mixture to be added to the cream cheese and sugar mix.  For piping I think the milk/flour could have been left out for a much better texture.  I'm sure the original would have been wonderful for spreading on a cake.  The frosting was still decadent, even with all the extra sugar and the cake was wonderful.  Long ago I loved red velvet, then I used a recipe I just didn't like.  Now that I've found this recipe I am absolutely in love again.  The flavor, the texture, the lightness .... it's all a little blissful if you ask me.

Today I started some whole wheat sour dough from starter I keep in my fridge.  I'll bake that tomorrow and update about it later.  I can't wait to taste that sour sweetness!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Congratulatory Cupcakes part 2 .... CHOCOLATE

The story is the same as the last batch but this time it's the chocolate.   Along with the 2 dozen yellow cupcakes I sent a dozen (plus a few) chocolate cupcakes to hubby's work.  Mmmmmmm, chocolate.  I used the recipe I adapted for my Reese's filled cupcakes for the cake with just a slight tweak, I found that my original adaptation left mouths craving water.  These were better and actually baked up nicer.  My sister and her friend helped with the leftovers and both gave them the big thumbs up.  They look very similar to the yellow cake but you might notice the delicious chocolateness peaking out from under the frosting.

Here's a little note on ganache.  When I made these I started with a recipe from Rose Levy Beranbaum  The flavor was great but it was meant to frost a cake and not to be piped so it was rather thin.  I kept melting and adding more chocolate until it became pipeable (yes, pipeable.)  Last night Shirley O Corriher taught me a lot about ganache and gave me formulas for pourable, spreadable and pipeable ganache.  I'm generally math phobic but I will hesitantly admit that there are cases when a good formula can come in handy, and when it's something as simple as "use twice as much chocolate as cream" that's pretty easy to follow.  Someday soon Shirley just might win me over with all her baking math but for now ... I'll just enjoy cupcakes.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Congratulatory Cupcakes part 1

Hubby and his friends at work have been busting their booties to finish the game they've been working on for about 2 years.  Def Jam's Rapstar will be a rap karaoke type game and it's getting incredible reviews so far.  It's going to have all kinds of cool features that no music game has had in the past and it has better technology so you score better if you don't just bluff your way thru.  Best of all it will look amazing because Hubby is the lead artist (he's amazing) and he has 2 great artists working under him.

Since they've been working hard I made them 4 dozen cupcakes and sent them to work with him.  I did it a little prematurely since they're still putting some finishing touches on the game but I know they all deserved a treat.  I made 3 flavors and today I'm posting about the yellow cake.  I topped some yellow cake with brightly colored buttercream and the rest with ganache.  Personally, I preferred the ganache but I'm a big chocoholic.  Mixing the colors for the buttercream was fun.  They came out looking bold and exciting, they tasted pretty yummy as well. 


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Candy Filled Cupcakes

Looks delicious already doesn't it?  Today you get to read about chocolate cupcakes filled with mini Reese's cups and topped with peanut buttercream.  I've made these twice in the last couple of weeks.  This was my first time to really modify a cake recipe and that made me a little nervous.  Baking can be so particular and if one little thing is off things just don't work out.  I am very pleased to say that these came out beautifully, both times.

The first time I made them it was just because I had seen the idea somewhere (I wish I could remember where) and decided to make some for a pool party and keep the rest for the hubby.  Hubby's favorite candy is Reese's.  These went well.  I modified the cake recipe because I found the chocolate cupcake recipe I use to use a little dry.  I also modified the frosting recipe by adding a smidgen of cocoa powder for flavor and a little corn starch to help it hold up better.  I think the cocoa was a nice flavor addition and the corn starch was a REALLY good idea.

I started by freezing the candy cups so that their wrappers would come off cleanly.  Then I prepared the batter and added half to the baking cups, dropped in the candy and then added the rest of the batter.  I am now IN LOVE with using an ice cream scoop to add batter to baking cups! 

I was so excited about how they turned out!  I posted pics of them on facebook.  One person said they looked happy.  Haha, I have to agree.  A friend saw them and sent me a message asking me if I wouldn't mind making a dozen for her hubby's birthday.  She was worried about the short notice but I told her it was no problem and went out hunting for new cupcake liners and a box.  Ok, I probably need to admit to my cupcake liner buying addiction.  It's not serious yet but at some point it may require treatment.  Hubby also informed me that cake boxes filled with cuppies are hard for some people to carry, so I now put cake boards in the bottom of the box.  He's right, it's easier to carry now.  Shhhh, don't tell him I said he was right.  The birthday cupcakes got a different swirl on top because I wanted to play around.  My friend was happy with them and her hubby, who is also a friend of hubby and me, let me know that he really enjoyed them.  CUPCAKE SUCCESS!  These are definitely going on my "menu."

Monday, August 23, 2010


I forgot to mention that Bake Wise arrived today!!!!   AND I only paid $26.40 with no shipping instead of the $40 I would have paid in a store.  I'm so excited.  I learned at least three new things just reading the intro!  I always enjoy Shirley's segments on Good Eats so I got the book.  Now I'm so in love with it already that I might be buying Cook Wise soon.  Baking is so much more enjoyable to me but having a few new cooking tricks up my sleeve might not be a bad idea.

Disappointment Cookies

I found myself heading to an event which would be attended by a good number of vegans.  Since my body hates soy being vegan hasn't really been an option for me so I've never delved into vegan baking before.  I searched around online and found something that looked pretty good.  Sugar free vegan peanut butter banana oatmeal cookies (or some combination of those words.)  I only got to taste test half a cookie because they're made with soy milk.  Let's just say I was underwhelmed, and so were most of the people that ate them.  This time I'll include the recipe so you can see what I was dealing with.

1/3 cup peanut butter (it's supposed to be sugar free, I went with Jif)
2 ripe bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons unsweetened soy milk (I wonder if coconut, rice or almond milk would work?)
2 tablespoons maple syrup (not pancake syrup)
2 1/2 cups quick cooking or rolled oatmeal
dash of cinnamon (optional)
1/4 cup flour

In a large bowl, mash bananas with a fork until smooth.  Add peanut butter, soy milk, vanilla and maple syrup & mix well.  Add remaining ingredients and stir until well combined.

Drop spoonfuls of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake 13 - 16 minutes at 350, or until done.

OK!  I'm thinking regular peanut butter was a good call.  Sweetened milk might have been as well.  A little brown sugar might also have helped.  I'm really glad I added the optional cinnamon because without it they would have been completely bland.  They may have needed a little more wet ingredients, a tad more milk perhaps?  or maybe some apple sauce?  what about a little extra peanut butter or banana?  I'm not sure yet.  These cookies have me a little annoyed so I've decided to show them who's boss by trying variations until they come out yummy!  I'll keep you posted.

At least they looked alright.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Baking for Friends

I'm about to run to Bed Bath & Beyond and Michael's to get supplies for cupcakes I was asked to bake for a friend!  Besides these, about which I can't post details yet, I may also be baking for a birthday, a wedding and a Scentsy party in the next couple of months.  It's all very exciting to me because each of these brings me a little closer to my goal!  YAY!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Peanut Butter Thank You Cookies

One night my husband needed one of his artists (or himself) back up to the office LATE and just as he had walked in the door from his 45 minute drive home.  He called his intern who happens to live closest to the office, poor guy!  I told him to tell the intern I'd bake him cookies for saving hubby a long trip back up there.  I gave the hubby lots of interesting options but he decided some nice, basic peanut butter cookies would be the best choice.  Since he'd just bought me The Cookie and Biscuit Bible by Catherine Atkinson I was excited to bake from it.  I may have mentioned this book before.  It has a lot of really interesting treats in it including some savory biscuits that I can't wait to try out.  It's English (like the country, not the language) but also gives good ole American measurements and names.

I used the basic Peanut Butter Cookie recipe on page 70 and I added a dash of nutmeg and used a mix and creamy and crunchy peanut butters.  Initially I chilled the dough in the fridge but opted for the freezer after the first few I tried to form were still a little soft.  For some reason my cookies didn't hold their fork marks, I'm not sure what that's all about.  They only needed 10 minutes and not the 12 that was recommended.  I found them to be a smidgen dry but then I love gooey cookies so I might have been slightly biased.  The recipient was very happy with his cookies so all turned out well!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Yesterday I made cupcakes and frosting from my own recipes for the first time.  Chocolate cupcakes with reese's inside and chocolate peanut buttercream on top!  It was pretty exciting.  It was even more exciting when they were all done and tasted fantastic!  I'll do a write up and post pictures soon.

Today I ordered Bake Wise to help me write even more of my own recipes and understand more hows and whys.  I went with the free super saver shipping but I'm so excited I want it here NOW.  I suppose I could have gone to a store to pick it up but saving $14 will be worth the wait.  I'll just pout like a spoiled child until then.  =D

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Coconut Cake

This time around you get 2 for 1.

My husband LOVES coconut.  Every year for his birthday he requests a german chocolate cake.  Every year I offer to try something new and he declines.  He wants german chocolate for the coconut.  This year, for our anniversary, I wanted to make him a very coconutty cake.  I went with Rose Levy Beranbaum's Southern Coconut cake.  With lots of coconut milk, coconut extract, fresh coconut (not the dried and sweetened kind) and coconut rum this was about as coconutty as I could do.  This cake was my first venture into Silk Meringue Buttercream and, believe me, THAT was well worth the effort.  He loved his cake and I generously helped him eat it. I couldn't expect the poor guy to eat the whole thing by himself could I?

There it is, all neatly composed.

And here's a little peek inside.  See that beautiful texture and the sinful looking buttercream?  Oh yes, it tasted even better than it looks!

Here comes the 2 for 1 part.  After I leveled the cakes I set the tops aside.  Something this delicious should never go to waste so I stashed them in the fridge for a day or two and then made cake balls.  YUM!  I crumbled up the cake and moistened it with the Silk Meringue Buttercream and a little coconut rum.  This divine mix got rolled into balls, dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with some of the remaining coconut.  You want to eat these, trust me!

Prep work for cake balls.

Drying and dripping in rows.

All finished and ready to eat!
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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Red Velvet Minis

I've finally worked my way up to the Red Velvet Mini Cupcakes!  I used Rose Levy Beranbaum's red velvet recipe and adapted it to make mini cupcakes.  These were ordered by a fetish model who lives in my area.  She requested 150 red velvet mini cupcakes with various buttercream flowers on top for her baroque birthday party held at a local night club.  I made about 30 extra to allow for mishaps, taste tasting, sharing with friends, personal enjoyment and to make it come out to an even number of batches.  (She was, of course, only charged for 3.25 batches.)  The color and the texture on these are the best I've seen in red velvet.
 batter zooming around in the mixer 

freshly baked

I think I used 4 batches of buttercream but to be completely honest, I lost track.  I colored it pink, purple, yellow, left some white and mixed colors.  The flavor was great.  I tweaked the buttercream slightly so that it would hold up and not be overly sweet.  Overall, I think these are the best cupcakes I've ever made!

pinks and yellows

yellow/whites and purples

purple and mixed

these were my absolute favorite

at the party

and these are the rejects which i set aside for friends.  they're some good looking rejects if you ask me.

I hope you enjoyed these and I hope I made you hungry.
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