Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sugar Cookie Fun

I've been wanting to try the "flooding method" for icing sugar cookies for a long time. It just seemed easier and cleaner to me... piping a stiffer frosting on the outline of the cookies first, then filling them in with a thinned version of icing. That's how I did all the snowflakes. Easier said than done. Brandon, Nick and my Dad can attest to the mess it actually made in the kitchen. We had some "flooding" problems... like overflowing! Anyway, it was easier to do my old method just using a knife hence the mittens (all left hands sadly haha) were all done just with a knife. No flooding involved.

I made some gingerbread men with the leftover dough from my house. I made a skeleton man per Brandon's request haha. I'm not sure if you can tell but they're googly eyes are all goofy.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My Best Gingerbread House Ever!

I finally got to make my own gingerbread house this year. Don't get me wrong, I've LOVED, loved, loved making them from the pampered chef stone mold my mom has used for the longest time, I just wanted something bigger and different this year for my house. And I really wanted to try making the stained glass candy sugar windows (which worked beautifully!). Thanks Nick for helping me with that. It was alot more difficult to roll out and cut the dough myself than I had thought it would be. It was thin and cracked easily and was hard to roll out big enough. Cutting through the dough would distort the shape (which would be so important to the integrity of the structure come building time...). But I made it work. I had to make 2 huge recipes to squeeze in all that I wanted to do. The Necco wafer roof was a nightmare because all the Necco's came out of their package broken! Thanks to my Mom who helped me pick all of the good ones out. I used chiclets as little lights around the house, and lots of cut up candy canes. The wreaths are M&M's and the tree is an ice cream cone!! The walkway is nerds (idea courtesy of the gingerbread houses Brandon and I saw in PPG place when we went ice skating one night. Anyway, anyone in Pittsburgh should go check out all those houses. School kids made them all from around the area and they are really fun to look at and get ideas from if your into the whole gingerbread thing!). But anyway I'll post the recipe for the gingerbread and icing incase anyone wants to try it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sammy's 8th Birthday Cake

Brandon and I drove home one weekend in September to visit my family, swim with the sharks, and be there for Sam's birthday party. He requested this "Lionfish" cake (strange request for a 7 year old, don't you think?) haha but it turned out well. He like it, anyway! He just found a book with a picture of it and I rough copied it in icing on the cake. Yumm!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Cake with blueberry filling for Mom and Dad's Anniversary <3

I made this cake over the summer for Mom and Dad's anniversary <3 The blueberry filling was an experiment but the whole thing was really delicious. The big round flat sprinkles were a nice fun touch too. And for once I made vanilla cake instead of chocolate and actually liked it! Love you Mom and Dad!

Cakes for Amy's 21st!

These were really fun for me to make. I used the premade fondant for the first time and it was surprisingly easy to use. Brandon helped me dye the pink and green ribbons :) Everyone really liked them, the cake and frosting were really moist and tasty. I had originally planned to cover the whole little cake in fondant on all sides but I didn't think I'd have enough to cover all the cakes and the ribbons themselves took so long that I abandoned that idea and just did the bows on top. I'll have to try real, covered, mini cakes some other time, with a more dense cake recipe that isn't as sticky or hard to handle.

Friday, June 20, 2008


One of my favorite things to make and experiment with is cupcakes! I love how you can make all different kinds very easily with just one batter variation and one frosting variation. They keep forever and are easier to serve and eat as individual treats than cutting a cake. These were for Sammy's Spring Fair at New Eagle Elementary School. Chocolate cake (as always!) and then 3 types of icing. The flower ones are a dark chocolate thick ganache that is FANTASTIC, by far the best topping I have used. Then the ones with green swirls are a peanut butter buttercream. Each of those cupcakes has a cake tube cut out of it, then the filling piped into the channel, and the cake replaced and pressed down into them again. This way the frosting goes all the way through and you're not stuck with the good stuff on top and the boring cake at the bottom! The white topped ones are good old plain vanilla buttercream with red sprinkles. Some of these white ones got a little fondant flower and piped green leaf just for a change in pace. Very cute! I'll have to make a confession here... these were so good that they never actually made it to the Fair! My family wanted to keep them too badly and eat them all up! (which is exactly what we did in about 1 day).

One of the Family Traditional Favorites

This dessert is always the first request from my brother's and I for special occasions. This is one dessert I'll have to give alot of credit to my mom on. I have never tried to make it by myself, but I am going to try it as individual puffs next time. It's alot of work to make, but it is so delicious and the leftovers (when there are any) get even better in the refrigerator overnight! The shell is a light pastry dough arranged in a ring before it bakes. This way, it bakes up into a ring of connected big round puffs that are really attractive on a nice round tray. We pull out the extra inside dough so there is plenty of room for the custard that goes inside. Then we drizzle the top liberally with a thick chocolate sauce. It's so good! I'm all excited thinking about it now haha.

Welcome home/ late birthday cake for Lj

I made this little double layer cake for Lauren. It's chocolate cake with buttercream frosting and MMF on top (of course). That's pretty standard by now. I had fun playing with the piping decoration on this one. It was very simple but possibly the tastiest actual cake I have made.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

German Apple Cake

This recipe is from a cookbook called the Joy of Vegan Baking. (Incase you're wondering... I tried the whole vegan thing for about a month this past spring. Let's just say it's not my style.) But this cookbook is great! The vegan element inevitably cuts out alot of the dairy and cream and butter and what not so many of the recipes (like this one) are low in fat or fat free :D (very good news for my health conscious self.) The cake is mostly applesauce. Couldn't be any simpler!

Daisies in the Dirt

Made these cute mini cupcakes for an end of semester party my studio drawing class had. (Yes, very second grade of us). They were very good!! The perfect little bite :)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Best Apple Pie EVER.

This is a variation on my Mom's apple pie (which is the only apple pie I have ever LOVED). It has a little bit of nutmeg and lemon juice in it and uses vegetable shortening instead of crisco. There's also a bit of sugar in the crust. (I'm trying out the vegan thing, so this is a vegan suitable recipe, nothing weird in it tho.) The crust was tricky and crumbly but it baked into a perfect flaky crust. So tasty.

Tiramisu Cupcakes

I made these to bring to Adam's Aunt's house for dessert on Easter. They seemed to be a hit! So good, but definitely not an "eat with your hands" cupcake... these babies needed a fork!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Homemade amazing truffles!

These were so tasty! The centers were chocolate amaretto, then each one was dipped in coffee flavored chocolate. After that, they were either rolled in cocoa powder, powdered sugar, chopped chocolate, crushed pistacchio's, crushed cashew's, or left plain and delicious. A personal favorite was the pistacchio's. The salt on the nut and the sweet chocolate were perfect together.

Black Raspberry Meltaways

Tried a new recipe with Adam's favorite jam... they were pretty good! Hope you liked them babe, happy anniversary!!!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Jack Cake for Dad's Birthday

What did I want to do after my horrific experience at the airport early saturday morning? Bake of course. My Dad and I have a long standing analogy of a little mouse sneaking into the liquor cabinet to steal his Jack Daniel's Whiskey... (the story he tells himself to explain the rapid decrease in amount of alcohol in the bottle after all his children swear like angels that they did not take it!). Anyway, he's been begging for me to draw a picture of this scene in his head so I thought I'd be ambitious and make him this cake as a late bday present. It did not go so well... the bottle shape was horrendously unstable and lopsided. And it was particularly difficult to get the fondant over top of the strange shape. I ran out of brown food coloring for the piping and my Mom thinks the little mouse looks like a giant rat/polar bear/hippo. Haha so it was an experience in itself, I learned some great things about the MMF (that the microwave is my BEST friend for example...), and that you really really can make fondant dark black and brown, it just takes alot of coloring!! It will taste good I'm sure... dark chocolate cake with buttercream frosting and marshmallow fondant. Don't ask how I will cut it!! I have no idea!! I did have a great time making this cake. Mom, Michael, Nick and Sammy all helped and kept me company while I made a giant mess of the kitchen. Little Sammy knocked over the icing beaters which was so funny, making a huge mess all over the carpet by the sink. It was nice to be back home with everyone finally :)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Frosting :)

Last night I was in the mood for some chocolate cupcakes... I was going to make them for a class but they were too good!! Probably going to end up eating most of them.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

University Art Gallery

My drawing class just went to the opening of the Installation Artwork class' spring exhibition. It was a neat little experience. (Any pitt people reading this, you should take a half hour and walk through it, it's really worth it!) The entry is filled with GIANT red balloons, some filled with more amounts of helium than others I guess. You can play with these, throw them, pop them up, bounce them... It's fun! The next room you walk into is covered, in almost a stained glass or mosaic type of way, with paint sample pieces, all arranged in color groups. This was somewhat reminiscent of a Gaudi design or something like that. There was a blue plastic tunnel with a water drop music element playing. That was a strange feeling... Almost like being underwater or in a sewer haha. There's also another tunnel like design that you walk through made entirely of newspaper and giant trash bags filled with newspaper. That one was strange. You had to climb over the filled trash bags and stuff. There's an explanatory talk from the artist's on Wednesday at noon that I'm going to try and go to. Hopefully that will shed some light on the interesting stuff that I just saw.

Some Inspiration

My mom got me this book for Christmas! It has the most adoreable and creative cakes in it! There are also some really cute mini cakes I'd love to try and cupcakes that are to die for!! I'll have to get going on all these projects... How can I stay on a diet when my mind can't get off of baking!

Lauren's Birthday Cake

Here is my second attempt at a fondant cake... for this one I got a little more ambitious and decided to do a chocolate cake (2 tiers, 2 layers each) with chocolate ganache between each layer as well as a little simple syrup with raspberry extract. Underneath the fondant is a white buttercream frosting. Then to finish it all off was the MM Fondant and gumpaste polka dots. This was quite the process considering Adam's small kitchen (and my cluelessness as to where alot of things were). Thanks for keeping me company Erica! NOTE TO MYSELF- MMF Should be made in the microwave (sorry Adam haha), not on the stove. Stoves=disaster.

We took this cake out to Emiliano's (a fantastic Mexican place) for Lauren's Bday dinner. All of Adam's family was there!! The food was fantastic and the atmosphere was so neat! A nice warm type of feeling in the middle of this freeeezing Pittsburgh winter. I found some little Mexicano froggies that were too cute!

My Very First Fondant Cake

Ta Da! (As Adam's baby cousin Ava often says...) Here is my first creation. I'd like to give a special thanks to Nick on this one. He helped with the moral support end of this little fiasco! What a fantastic end result, I'd have to say. I used a marshmallow fondant reciped I found on Peggy Weaver's baking corner website:

MM (Marshmallow) Fondant Recipe

16 ounces white mini-marshmallows (use a good quality brand)
2 to 5 tablespoons water
2 pounds icing sugar (please use C&H Cane Powdered Sugar for the best results)
½ cup Crisco shortening (you will be digging into it so place in a very easily accessed bowl)

Melt marshmallows and 2 tablespoons of water in a microwave or double boiler: Put the bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds, open microwave and stir, back in microwave for 30 seconds more, open microwave and stir again, and continue doing this until melted. It usually takes about 2 ½ minutes total. Place 3/4 of the powdered sugar on the top of the melted marshmallow mix. Now grease your hands GENEROUSLY - palms, backs and in between fingers, then heavily grease the counter you will be using and dump the bowl of marshmallow/sugar mixture in the middle. (By the way, this recipe is also good for your hands. When I’m done, they are baby soft.) Start kneading like you would bread dough. You will immediately see why you have greased your hands. If you have children in the room they will either laugh at you or look at you with a questioning expression. You might even hear a muttered, “What are you doing?”

This worked fantastically! The fondant was smooth and pliable and rolled out so nicely.
Anyway, you'll see from the pictures how nicely the whole things came together. I'd have to say, the gumpaste was a strange medium to work with. It got too gooey when I added food coloring and too dry when I rolled it flat :/ I know what to expect now for next time!!

Food For Thought...

Always approach love and cooking with reckless abandon. -Dalai Lama