Croc-alepsy…

Congratulations to another grad, Cory! He just finished his MBA at ASU, having spent the last two years working full time and going to school. Definitely a celebratory time… and what starts a party better than cupcakes?!

Lauren and Megan and I decided to bring some fun to the party with a playful pal. I used the Swamp Creature idea from the oh-so-famous, NY Times bestseller “Hello Cupcake!”

It’s a great book, with tons of fun ideas. Anyways, we did mister swamp monster, a.k.a. the crocadile…. Using chocolate cupcakes, a little green frosting, and some creativity/improvisation. Let the photo tour begin…

Step 1: Piping a nice “scaly” texture onto each cupcake, in green!

Step 2: Making the teeth out of marshmallow, and the claws (which were supposed to be banana runts, but apparently they are now an endangered candy as M&L tried 4 different stores for them) so we defaulted to some bright yellow fondant that I just happened to have laying around.

Step 3: Assembling the claws! And letting them hangout and marinate with my rice and soymilk in the fridge. Indeed. The spikes were made from fudge covered graham cookies, square shaped. We couldn’t find what the book called for, yet again improvising :).

Step 4: Bringing the monster to life! The eyes were two giant marshmallows and the pupils? Two purple skittles.

Step 5: Complete and photograph. Check him out on his aluminum foil bed, all ready for his close-up 🙂

Side view: Just screams “Happy Graduation,” doesn’t it?

Ah, but it gets better. One of our friends suffered from extreme “croc-alepsy” as he “fell asleep” on his cupcake…. behold the consequences of enjoying a cupcake (and/or party) a bit too much.

All that’s left are the eyes….!

Advertisements

Gradulations

Oh my, another post for May, I’m becoming too ambitious.

My friend Bri has been getting me “cake-gigs” with her friends who are celebrating! This weekend was a graduation for her friend Dave. He and two other friends just graduated from NAU with a degree in Education.

Amber, Dave’s wife, organized the cake and party. It was to be for 40 people (at least), preferably in the shape of a graduation cap, with the NAU colors (dark blue and yellow), and with a light blue tassle for Education.

At first I wanted to do a giant hat, and that’s it… a giant mortar board graduation cap. However, with a 14″ round pan as the base, it would have looked a little more than slightly ridiculous.

Scratch that idea.

Instead, we came up with a design where there’s a nice 9″ round hat sitting on a single 14″ round base. Proportions, I’m learning, are not as easy as they seem.

Anyways, Amber requested vanilla cake with chocolate ganache filling. An exciting time for me to use my baker’s scale (thanks for that great Christmas gift, Pezz and Mel) and a recipe for whipped chocolate ganache:

Chocolate Ganache

– 9 oz bittersweet chocolate

– 1 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions: Microwave whipping cream in a ceramic or glass bowl for 1 min. Remove from the microwave and pour chocolate chips/chunks/pieces into the hot cream. Let sit for 1-2 min. Whisk to an even, smooth and creamy consistency. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight, covered tightly with saran wrap. The next day, whip the ganache until it resembles a nice, thick, chocolate frosting.

Fill the cooled cakes with this rich, decadent frosting:

I wasn’t sure how ganache would work with fondant, as it’s a bit stickier and less solid than buttercream, so I stuck with my old stand-by this time… and butter-creamed the layers to prep for fondant.

The base layer:

Finally, fondant time! This was – and is- always the most difficult part- making and coloring fondant in a good sized quantity to ensure an even covering of the cake. Sigh, Bri put her muscles into this one, she was my designated kneader of the fondant.

Navy is probably one of the most difficult colors to achieve because of its darkness. For the flat mortar board top, I covered a 10.5″ square with blue fondant.

I covered the base in “golden yellow.” Looks a bit like cheese in the photo, no?

I mixed a little blue with a ton of white gum paste to make the tassel. I basically just rolled out a rectangle, made some vertical cuts into it to create the tassel look, and then rolled the top together, securing it with a little watered down golden yellow.

A close-up of the tassel on the hat.

The entire cake and its transportation device: A lovely cookie sheet and a no-stick blue drawer liner. I don’t really know what font I was going for with this… but it works. 🙂

Lastly, two photos taken at the graduation party. Ever so slightly different.

Congratulations Grads!

Bittersweet Funfetti

The best part about blogging is coming up with the titles, although if anyone were to search my blog merely by the titles, they wouldn’t get very far… or at least, wouldn’t find what they were looking for. Just like this one: by no means did I create a bittersweet funfetti cake, rather, the occasion for the cake was bittersweet.

My friend Mikaela got a new job (hooray!) within the same company but at a different site. A promotion, if you will, and what better to celebrate and send her off with than a cake at our daily staff meeting? It was an absolute whirlwind of a week, so this simple, no-frills funfetti cake was presented:

Yes, indeed, good luck! I didn’t have piping stuff, so some star shaped sprinkles were my medium of choice, as well as a little edible gold glitter, and some regular sprinkles on the side.

The buttercream did the trick, I think, as my group gobbled it right up! No leftovers for this puppy.

Thus begins the season of change 🙂

Sponge Cake ReMix…!

After making the peach sponge cake back in December, I ordered this mysterious Malaysian emulsifier called “Ovalette,” to see if it really was the magic ingredient. It came in the mail in these tiny plastic containers that closely resembled play-doh tubs, and the substance itself was not a far cry away either.

I didn’t have a recipe to follow closely, so I eyeballed about 10 grams of this sticky yellow substance and put it in the yolk mixture. I think it has some oils in it, but I’m not about to whip out my junior chemist set and figure out the exact component ratios.

I won’t re-paste the recipe, but you can find it in my recipes tab (above). I know not all of them have been linked/set up yet, but it’s a work in progress. 🙂

Instead of peaches, I used fresh strawberries, and of course, extra whipping cream! The airiness of the whip cream is supposed to complement that of the sponge cake (if the consistency is correct). However, I think I over-baked it this time because I used a 9″ silicon round instead of a 10″ springform pan. There were pockets of evenly distributed “holes” lending to what would be a more tender cake, had the baking time been reduced slightly. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

Dollops of fluffy cream!

All in all, I’m still going to keep experimenting, but here you go!

Strawberries n’ Cream

The title of this post is a little misleading. I basically wanted to test Magnolia Bakery’s famous Vanilla Cupcake recipe, and after I put them together, realized I had some extra strawberries around. Hence, the cupcake:

Magnolia Bakery’s Vanilla Cupcakes, recipe can also be found here.

Makes about 2 dozen cupcakes (depending on the size of your cupcake papers and muffin tins)

  • CUPCAKES:

  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

  • 2 cups sugar

  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • ICING:

  • Vanilla Buttercream (2 sticks butter, 2-3 Tblsp whipping cream, 2+ cups powdered sugar, a dash of vanilla)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
  5. Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

I… normally used unsalted butter, but for some reason I had salted around (a nice donation per my friend Megan). So, I used that in the frosting. I was rather upset because I could definitely taste the saltiness! However, I found out that people responded rather positively to it! Crazy, I guess it really is all about the sweet/salty balance.

Anyways, I loved the texture of this cake- very moist and tender. However, not a fan of the flatness. I am on the hunt for a cupcake that actually domes so one doesn’t have to improvise with tons of frosting (though I know people love their frosting). Anyways, I could’ve definitely made more than 24 with this recipe, as well.

Pure vanilla goodness:

Fresh strawberries- it’s coming into that season!

Staged on a lovely new cake plate that I procured at Homegoods. Love the bargains, love this plate 🙂 Reminds me of my mum (Shout-out to all Mom’s on Mum’s Day 2010!) she loves the red and white polka dot pattern. 🙂

Simply (Sin)namon

Oh man, I am so sad. I just wrote an entire post and for some reason, it didn’t save. 😦

Well, this one won’t be as good as the other, but it’s better than my lack of posts. I’m averaging 1/month at this rate!

Very well, let’s get on with it (said in my very best British nanny accent, in my head, of course). I’ve been looking for a good cinnamon roll recipe for a while, but I find making anything with yeast really intimidating. My friend Bri gave me this recipe from another one of her friends blogs, Cristine Cooks, and I procured a bread maker from friends at church, Carson and Gordon (like my shout-outs?) to put together a batch of these “Clones of Cinnabons.”

Here’s the recipe, also found at AllRecipes.com:

Clone of a Cinnabon

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup margarine, melted
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

Filling:

  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened

Frosting:

  • 1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle; press Start.
  2. After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.
  3. Roll dough into a 16×21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

*Note* Even though the original recipe called for a bread machine, I actually didn’t “technically” end up needing one. I put all the ingredients into the bread machine without thinking about its maximum capacity, and when I opened it up 45 min. later expecting a nice round ball of dough, I instead found (to my utter dismay) a hybrid mixture of dough and un-mixed flour/yeast. I didn’t want to waste it, so I popped that puppy into my kitchenaid with the dough hook, and voila! Still worked great! A+ on being a foolproof recipe, or at least forgiving*

  • Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.
  • Enough words!
    The ingredients:
    Uncooked cinnamon rolls, ready for the oven:
    Piping hot and just out of the oven:
    Smothered in the cream-cheese dericiousness:
    I’ll never buy another Cinnabon again!