Monday, February 28, 2011

Cupcake Spotlight (March 2011)

When I think of St. Patrick's Day, I don't think of green beer and corn beef cabbage.  I think of leprechauns, rainbows and pots of gold.  This months feature is inspired by the wonderful images of rainbows.  Now I can't claim to have invented this technique, but I can show you how it's done.

I was cruising around the Internet and saw a patriotic cake done in red, white and blue.  It had a wonderful layered effect and I thought I could just change up the colors for a rainbow.  Then I simply made them into cupcakes instead of a big cake.  I also used a large cupcake pan, which is equivalent to about two regular size cupcakes. 

This technique is very simple and can be adapted to any color scheme.  For example, pink, purple and white for a princess party.  Let the creative juices flow and have fun with it.

Linking to these parties.

Friday, February 18, 2011

President's Week

I remember when I went to school, we got off one day for President's Day not a whole week.  Times are changing.  I'm really not going to complain, because this week off is allowing me to go home and visit family.  So for this upcoming week, I won't be blogging but enjoying family.

I will leave everyone with a couple of facts about President Washington and President Lincoln.

  1. George Washington was born February 22, 1732. He served as our nations first president from 1789-1797.
  2. George Washington suffered from the following illnesses : malaria, smallpox, tuberculosis, malaria, dysentery and pneumonia
  3. George Washington was the only president who was unanimously elected. He ran unopposed for both terms. He declined to run for a third term, setting a precedent which held until 1940.
  4. George Washington never attended any school or college, he was educated as a child by his father and brother, and also self-educated as he became an adult.
  5. Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12th 1809, and died April 15th 1865 at the age of fifty six.
  6. Abraham Lincoln was the tallest U.S president at 6ft 4 inches.
  7. He was the first president to have a beard.
  8. Lincoln's Gettysburg Address of 1863 became one of the most quoted speeches in history.

Have a great week and I'll see you back here on March 1st for the new cupcake of the month!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Little Experiment

I have been struggling with the question, "Can you freeze cookies frosted in royal icing??" Well, the answer is, Yes you can!! 

I like to decorate my cutouts with royal icing.  I pipe the borders and flood the inside.  They have a smooth, shiny finish and look great.  The only downside is, they are time consuming.  It seems I am always making the cookies a day or two before the event I need them for, and I get stressed.  So when I made the valentine hearts, I decided to freeze some to see if it would change the cookie.

I read a lot of different reviews on line, but the general opinion was, as long as you freeze them carefully they are fine.  One reviewer who works for Cookies By Design, even gave a few tips.  Basically, you need to freeze the cookies after the royal icing has completely hardened (about a day after decorating).  Also, lay wax paper between the layers.  Finally when defrosting, leave them set at room temperature undisturbed for several hours. 

If you follow these simple steps, your cookies will be perfect and very tasty.  The general guidelines also said you can freeze them for up to two months like this.  So the next time you have a special cookie to make, go ahead and do it early at take some of the stress away.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

We celebrated Valentine's Day early in our house.  Between school and work on Monday, it seemed logical to celebrate on Saturday.  Jay took us to dinner at a local restaurant called The Depot (very good family friendly food), and I made a Valentine cake for the boys.  Brandon picked the cake flavor and Adam picked the frosting.  So what did they come up with???? Chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting, and I baked it in a heart pan, just for fun.

The cake was just a simple box cake mix.  The frosting was home made, creamy, and delicious.  I took a basic butter cream recipe, cut down the sugar a bit, added peanut butter, and a little half and half to thin the texture.  This would also be great as a filling in between a layer cake.  I hope everyone has a great Valentine's Day and remembers to tell someone special, "I love you!!!"

recipe (yields enough to frost 8 or 9 inch cake)

peanut butter frosting

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 c. powder sugar
1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
3 tbsp. half and half (you can also use milk or heavy cream)

In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and peanut butter until smooth.  Slowly add the sugar and vanilla.  Finally add the half and half one tablespoon at a time, until you reach desired consistency. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Nice Pound Cake, But Not Sara Lee

I have had a day full of disappointment.  It began this morning when my car decided she didn't want to start in the sub-zero temperatures.  Then moved onto a few small things throughout the day.  Finally it was topped off with a recipe that was not what it promised to be.

I consider myself to be picky when it comes to yellow cake.  I know that sounds bizarre, but I am not a huge chocolate fan.  I always have a yellow cake for my birthday, and my two boys are following suit.  I have always also loved Sara Lee's pound cake.  If it is in the house, I will literally eat the entire loaf until it is gone.  My  mom used to slice it in layers and put strawberries and whip cream between it.  I have also drizzled it with pineapple topping and praline syrup.

So, I have been surfing the Internet for a while now to find a "copy cat" recipe.  Most of the reviews on recipes have said the same thing, nice pound but not like the original.  Then I stumble across a recipe from the Copykat website, that promised to be just like the real thing.  I set out to make it today, and oh boy, was I disappointed.  The one thing that draws me to Sara Lee's pound cake is the texture. It has such a tight crumb and density, that I enjoy. 

When I cut into it, I knew right away it wasn't the same.  I kept an open mind and sampled a piece.  It had a pleasant vanilla pound cake taste, but the texture was way off.  The bottom line is, it's a nice pound to serve as a short cake or with ice cream, but it's not Sara Lee.

If you want to try it for yourself and give me your review, here's the recipe.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Valentine Hearts

I actually wasn't planning on making cookies for Valentine's Day.  I am on a weight loss journey, and to date have lost 18 pounds, with another 12 to 15 to go.  So being on this journey, I was abstaining from sweets this Valentine's.  Then I was asked to make unfrosted heart shaped sugar cookies for Brandon's preschool. 

So, I made his couple dozen unfrosted cookies and had a few dozen left.  I could easily just freeze them for a later date, but Adam asked who those other cookies are for.  Being the softy that I am when it comes to my kids, I decided to whip up a batch of royal icing and frost them for the boys, Jay included.  Now I won't lie, I will sample just one, probably the biggest one.  The rest are for the boys and a few other lucky friends.

The recipe is the same one I used on Halloween for the ghosts, and for the cupcake cookies on Brandon's birthday.  Click here for the recipe.  I colored the royal icing with red gel food color (I also use pasteurized egg whites in a carton to make the royal icing).  A few drops for the light pink border, add a few more drops for hot pink icing, and even more for red.

Linking to these parties.