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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Peach Crisp Cupcakes

I love the fall weather, it is cool enough to break out the sweaters and boots but not yet to the point where we are trudging through the snow and ice.  The chilly mornings of the last few weeks have been a little reminder that winter will be here before we know it and to enjoy the colors and flavors of fall while we can!  The warm cinnamon flavor along with the freshness of the peaches make these cupcakes a delicious fall treat!


Peach Crisp Cupcakes
Makes approximately 20 cupcakes

Peach Cupcake
2 Cups plus 2 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter (room temp)
1 1/3 cups sugar
½ cup peaches (I used fresh canned)
¾ cup sour cream
1/3 cup half and half (or milk)
4 Egg Whites
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp of juice from peaches (the peach flavor is really mild in these, if you wanted a stronger peach flavor substituting the juice for extract should work great!)

Preheat to 350 degrees, line cupcake pan. 

In bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

In another bowl mix the ½ and ½, sour cream and egg whites.  Set aside.

In bowl of stand mixer beat the butter for about 30 seconds.  Add sugar and peaches, beat until combined.  (Due to the natural juice in the peaches the batter seems to separate a little bit, don’t worry it will be smooth once everything else had been added)

Begin to add the flour mixture in three parts alternating with the sour cream mixture, beginning and ending with the flour until all ingredients are combined

Divide evenly into cupcake pan, filling each about 2/3rds full (I find that a large cookie scoop is the perfect amount)

Bake for between 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cinnamon Frosting
2 sticks unsalted butter (room temp)
1 block of 8oz cream cheese (straight from fridge)
4-6 cups of powdered sugar (depending on how thick you want it, I used about 5 cups and it piped great!)
4 Tablespoons half and half
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon (I would start here and add to taste depending on how strong you want the cinnamon flavor)
Meringue Powder(optional – sometimes I add a little bit to help stiffen the frosting without adding additional sugar…this does not change the taste of the frosting, I added about a tsp.)

In stand mixer beat butter and cream cheese until smooth and creamy.  Gradually add powdered sugar one cup at a time until each is incorporated.   After all sugar is added add vanilla extract and cinnamon.  Add the half and half one Tablespoon at a time until the frosting is the consistency that you want. 

Crumb Topping
3/4 cup all purpose flour
½ cup sugar
4 Tbsp cold butter

Combine flour and sugar in bowl; mix the butter in until the mixture has a crumb consistency.  Spread on baking sheet and bake for about 15-20 at 300.  Check it regularly so that it does not burn, I just let it get to a gold brown color.

Pipe the frosting onto the cupcake (I used an Ateco #8 round tip), sprinkle crumb mixture onto frosting immediately so the frosting does not set first. 

I garnished with a slice of fresh peach…if you decide to do this do not do so until you are ready to serve.  I was about half way through the batch when my husband so innocently asked me “won’t those brown”…oops!   FYI..they do J!

Enjoy & Happy Fall!

Christine

Monday, September 12, 2011

Polka Dots & Pinwheels First Birthday

I am so excited to share this table with you!  I created it for one of my very dear friends' youngest son who just turned one!  The color palette for the party started with the birthday shirt she had gotten him, blues, greens, brown and polka dots, oh how I love polka dots!!!  I added some pinwheels into the theme and love the whimsical addition that they made!  I especially love how the look of The Pastry Pedestal, that I finally got to use (they are seriously amazing and the possibilities are endless!!!). 

Here are some of the photos from the day:
Dessert Table - Crepe paper ruffles act as a runner for the table


Coordinating jelly beans were used to cover the foam that that was used to hold the cake pops.  So cute!  Sugar cookies with custom labels were given as favors to the younger guests :)!

The Pastry Pedestal was used for a couple of cupcakes on the table.

The darling birthday boy!


 Thanks so much for stopping by!

Christine


Construction Themed Birthday Party

Just over a month ago (I know, I am very behind on my posts!) I had the pleasure of working with Emily from Busy Mommy!  She is a local blogger and her site is a super resource for so many things including food, fashion and family among many other things!

Her son was turning 4 and has a love of all things construction!  We worked together to create a dessert table for the celebration they would be sharing with their family and friends.  Emily's husband works for a construction company so I love that we were able to use "real" construction materials.  A sheet of plywood created the backdrop, construction cones made great balloon holders, concrete blocks were the perfect vessels for "caution cones" filled with caramel corn and of course caution tape was a must!  We also used a small pallet that they already had in place of a cake stand to display the cake made by local baker One Sweet Treat.

Here are a couple of the photos that Emily took of the party, be sure to check out her site for the complete post! 

All photos property of Busy Mommy

Thanks for stopping by!

Christine

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Summer Baby Shower

I am so excited to be sharing a shower that I did a couple of weeks ago.  The shower was for second time mom, who is expecting her first little girl in just a few short weeks.  Though it was originally planned for outdoors we ended up deciding to bring it inside rather last minute due to the unreliable weather we had had the last couple of days, both with rain and the incredibly hot humidity!  Though we had a "make it work" moment, everything turned out beautiful.  The colors of the shower were raspberry and orange, creating  a both feminine and modern style.  One of my favorite quotes is "We give our children roots & wings", this was incorporated into the shower with the use of butterflys and flowers. 

A combination of brunch and dessert items were served along with Mimosa's and Raspberry Lemonade.  Food included mini donuts, macarons, mini muffins, grapes with goat cheese and walnuts, cherry pie pops, chocolate cupcakes with raspberry buttercream and egg breakfast muffins.  One of the mom-to-be's favorite treats is Penuche Fudge, which is a brown sugar fudge that her mother always used to make for her.  I was so glad to have this recipe shared with me and to be able to surprise her by having this at the shower. 

Hand stamped wish cards were available for guests to leave a wish for mom-to-be and/or her baby girl.  A small table was set up with beading and other crafts for the younger guests, small favor boxes were filled with pink and orange gumballs and topped with a butterfly were at the table for them as well.  Sets of custom note cards were sent home will all of the guests.

 I am so grateful to have been able to work on this party and look forward to meeting the new little one very shortly!

Thank you so much for stopping by!

Christine

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cupcakes & Cocktails - New Printables now in shop

I have just listed a new printable invitation set for Cupcakes & Cocktails (though this can be customized for any event!).  This set includes the inviation, cupcake toppers/favor tags and of course cupcake wrappers and straw flags for your cocktails!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

July 4th Cake Pops!

I really love how these turned out...however, after making these I can't even begin to tell you how glad I am that I purchased Bakerella's Cake Pop book awhile back!  My original plan was to do simple round cake pops dipped in red, white and blue.  Then I got this genius idea to do them in the shape of stars, much more fun and festive right?!?  I proceeded to punch out stars from the cake balls that I had already formed...still going smoothly!  Onto the lollipop sticks they went and then into the red candy melts, looking good...you see I thought I could use the Pirate Pop method (Bakerella pg 95)...um wrong!  After the red had hardened I started to dip half of each star into the white, here is where everything started to go completely wrong...the red melted into the white candy, so I decided to let them chill in the fridge.  Not sure what I was thinking at this point - maybe just a slight state of panic - but I put them in a glass pan before I put them in the fridge.  FYI, hot candy melts stick to glass when chilled and do not release!!!  I tried to pull them off the pan and ended up pulling out the sticks from each of the stars :( !!!

24hrs later...decided to try again!  Turns out I needed to dip them the Cupcake Pop method (Bakerella pg 19) not sure why, but this ended up working great!
The instructions are at the bottom of this post, sorry for the lack of pictures ( I sometimes forget to take pictures when I find myself doing multiple attempts).  Hopefully these directions will be clear, if you should try these and have questions I would be happy to help you!




Directions:
1. Roll out your cake balls prior to cutting them, I really think that this helps with consistency.
2. I flattened the ball into more of a disc shape and then pushed it through the cookie cutter.
3. Chill the cut outs in the fridge for a little while (I think I did about 1/2 hr or so).  This is really crucial so that it is sturdy enough to stay on the stick, otherwise they have a tendency to fall off in the candy melts.
4. Since I was doing 1/2 red and the other 1/2 blue I took each star and dipped it halfway into the melted red candy coating, I immediately put the lollipop stick into this side of the star, twisted it slightly to let any excess coating fall off and put the stick to stand in a piece of styrofoam.
5.  After are all dipped with the red bottoms and have sat for awhile it is time to dip the tops in the blue (depending on how many you make and the length of time you may want to put them back in the fridge for a bit to let the exposed cake harden again...my cake started to get to soft and it was a little difficult to work with. Once I chilled it it worked great!)
6.  Dip the top half of each star into the blue, making sure that it at least meets the red coating or goes a little past, twist again to remove excess coating, cover with sprinkles, non-pariels or just leave plan!

These are so cute and would look great in a variety of shapes and colors!

Hope everyone has a fun and safe holiday weekend!  Thanks for stopping by, if you try these I would love to see what you come up with!!

Christine

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

July 4th Printables - Freebie!

Hope everyone is having a wonderful summer so far!  It doesn't seem possible that next Monday is July 4th already!  Thought I would share some free July 4th printables with you for anything that you might be working on for the holiday!  Also the Summer Printables are still here for any other outdoor fun you may be planning!

Click here to download!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Summer Birthday

This past weekend was super busy, not only did we celebrate Jacob's graduation, my mom was also in town and we got to celebrate her birthday!  Since most of the planning happened for this between the graduation party on Friday and the dinner on Sunday it was not as elaborate as I had originally envisioned but there are some details that I really love.   Plus it was more important that we got to spend time together than that I found the perfect dinner plates :)! 

I had planned enough ahead to get the menu designed for the dinner, I was really happy with it and with a few adjustments I am going to make a set with this design and it will be for sale soon in my Etsy Shop (which is kind of empty right now :( !)

For the dinner itself I decided I wanted to have everyone make their own panini's (or at least select their own toppings).  I designed a list that coordinated with the menu where everyone could circle their selection and my wonderful personal chef, aka my husband made us wonderful paninis! We also served salad with gorgonzola and candied walnuts (I bought these from Trader Joes and they are one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted...that is if you like walnuts!), along with a mixed fresh fruit salad.  Since there were only a few of us I wanted to keep the desserts simple.  I made Lime & Basil Macarons, served strawberries as well as some spicy peanut brittle that my mom had made (this is from the recipe that Sandra Bullock and her sister created and it is beyond amazing!, the recipe is in a past issue of People Magazine, but I found a copy online here, hopefully you can see it!).  I also made Grapefruit Margaritas that I found on Pinterest, I think I made them a little too strong, but the flavor was pretty good...and the color was beautiful :)!! Here are some pictures from the party (not the greatest pics, seemed it was one camera mishap after another that day)!

It is a little hard to see some of the text in the pictures, but I love the bright colors of the design!  Oh and yes I used paper plates...I had had my eyes open for a couple of weeks looking for something that I really liked with no luck, finally late Sunday afternoon I found these at Target and the colors matched perfectly, plus made for easy clean-up!
Since the plates were so colorful I didn't end of using placements, instead I just layered the plates on top of these awesome (disposable) napkins!
Bought several bouquets of flowers and filled wrapped Mason jars in pink ruffle ribbon with the flowers.  Love the simple look of these jars.  I tied three of them together with the same ribbon on the dinner table for the centerpiece as well (didn't get a picture of this unfortunately)

Though I didn't have luck finding dinner plates, I did find these dessert plates...love the color and pattern of these!  I also found some oil cloth placemats that my mom had made a while back and used these on the buffet to separate the dessert area and the drink area. 

Love how these stemless white wine glasses looked when used for the margaritas!  A little salt on the rims and some awesome straws from  Polka Dot Market were the perfect finishing touches!
It was a very relaxing dinner and we were sorry to see her leave.  Next year will be a BIG party, as she is turning the big *0!!!

Look for this printable set coming soon to the shop!

Thanks for stopping by!

Christine

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Lime & Basil Macarons...Fresh Summer Flavor!

Earlier this spring when I was searching for flavor combinations for the boxes of macarons that I was doing, I stumbled across this recipe on Yael's Yummies.  Lime and Basil....YUM!  Okay, so maybe it sounds a little different, but the freshness of these flavors combined has no doubt become a fast favorite! 
I started with macaron recipe from my previous post here.  I kept the macaron itself just lime flavored.  I added the zest from one lime, but you could certainly add more depending on your personal taste. I also add a combination of green and lime green gel coloring to get that beautiful bright green color, this of course is optional, I just really like it when the color represents the flavor you will be experiencing!

I adapted the orginal recipe slightly, the measurements below are the changes I have made.

Lime & Basil Filling:
1 stick (1/2 C butter)
1/2 C + 1/3 C powdered sugar
1 lime (zest and juice)
5 fresh basil leaves - finely chopped (give or take a few depending on flavor preference :)!)

Combine all ingredients except basil leaves in mixer until creamy, fold the chopped basil leaves into the mixture until combined.  I like to pipe my filling onto my macarons so edge is smooth and uniform...maybe a little type A personality (thanks mom:)!), but you can pipe or spread as much filling as you would like between the two cookies.  I have found that when using a reasonable amount of filling, one batch fills about two batches of the macaron recipe.  Trust me, you probably want to make two batches!!


I would love to hear your thoughts if any of you try these!  Enjoy!

Christine

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

5th Grade Graduation Party - Purple and Gold!

Wow!  It seems so hard to believe that we officially have a middle schooler!  Though I am sure that it will sink in pretty quickly with Jacob reminding us frequently that he will be in sixth grade in the fall.  At dinner the other night "Wow!  My first burrito as a sixth grader!"...I am wondering if this is going to be happening all summer?!? 

Though he is most definitely your typical eleven year old boy, and I am quite certain after a night with him and his friends that teachers do not get paid enough, he is a wonderful young man and we enjoyed a great night with all of them!

It was a pretty small gathering and by no means fancy, but I really felt that it was important to celebrate the accomplishments that he (as well as he classmates) had made and the new step that they would be taking in the fall.  Dinner was pizza, chips, fruit kabobs (had to throw in something a little healthy for the night :)!) along with vitamin water in purple, yellow and white flavors.  The dessert buffet was stocked with mini cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, chocolate and vanilla cakepops, dipped marshmallows, 2011 sugar cookies, fudge dipped Oreos and the surprising favorite chocolate dipped Pringles!


I have to confess...I bought fudge dipped Oreos and made royal icing stars to put on the tops to customize them for the party.  I found these little boxes in the Dollar Section at Target and just filled them with the cookies.
One of my favorite parts of the table was using some of Jacob's books to both add some height as well as to personalize the table.  I went through his shelves and found books that had covers with colors that would coordinate and added a couple of stacks on the table!  This was so easy and free (love that!), since Jacob LOVES to read I really like the personalization it added.
The chocolate dipped Pringles were a big hit!
X-Large Campfire Marshmallows dipped in purple and yellow candy coating
I had seen homemade candy buttons on sandy toes & popcicles and thought that they would be great little favors for the party!  Check out her blog for a great tutorial as well as a template, they are super easy and look great in any color!


I looked for quite awhile to find a fabric or backdrop to use for the table.  I had already purchased the tissue paper daisies from Polka Dot Market, so I knew I had these to work with, finally about 2 days before the party I decided I would just hang sheets of different patterned scrapbook paper from the wall.  Looked pretty good for a last minute solution!  Here is a picture of the table in its entirety. 


Dessert Buffet

Thanks for stopping by!  Don't forget the printables from this are available here for your graduation parties!

Christine

Saturday, June 4, 2011

French Macarons - Updated Recipe

I have made so many changes to the way I have been baking my macarons I wanted to share with you in hopes that you will find some of these new tips helpful! I will be posting the amazing recipe for Lime and Basil Macarons shortly, be sure to check these out...the fresh flavor of them is amazing!

The recipe for the macarons can be found on Martha Stewart.  I have tried several different recipes and found that this is the best one to work from.  I have adapted this slightly (mostly on the preparation and the baking) with a whole lot of trial and error batches (this is updated greatly from the Pina Colada Macarons I posted earlier).  Since everyone's oven is different as well as many other factors including the humidty and possibly the mood of the ingredients, you may have to play with the oven temps and baking time a little until you find what is most successful for you.   

Ingredients: (changes are in parenthesis)
1 cup confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup almond flour ( I buy blanched almonds and make my own flour, since the almonds are oily naturally, add a little powdered sugar when you are food processing them to help dry it out a little bit)
2 large egg whites, room temperature (some recipes say that older eggs are better, I have not really had any better luck when using older eggs...sometimes I have not thought well enough in advance and have taken my chance with just room temperature eggs and they work just fine!)
Pinch of cream of tartar
1/4 cup superfine sugar (not regular granulated sugar, this is baking sugar)

Directions: (changes are in parenthesis)

Pulse confectioners' sugar and almond flour in a food processor until combined. Sift mixture 2 times. (when making my own flour, I sift the almond flour once (this is kind of time consuming...I would recommend not using a traditional sifter for this, once again the almond oils come into play and it gets caked at the bottom of the sifter, I have the best luck with a very fine strainer and a pestle) and then pulse with confectioners' sugar and then sift both ingredients together)

Preheat oven to (310) degrees. Whisk whites with a mixer on medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and whisk until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low, then add superfine sugar. Increase speed to high, and whisk until stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes. Sift flour mixture over whites, and fold until mixture is smooth and shiny. ( I don't usually sift again into the mixture, I have done this both ways and neither way seems to be better than the other) ( I know that there are recipes that tell you how many folds you should do, I have tried them all and the best advice that I can give you about this is to fold it until it is smooth and falls from your spatula like a ribbon, the number never seems to be the same for me.  After it starts to get smooth and easier to fold I usually test it every couple of folds...you can't undo it if you fold it too much and just have to start over...no good!!!!)

Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip, and pipe 3/4-inch rounds 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets, dragging pastry tip to the side of rounds rather than forming peaks. ( This is probably the best tip that I can give you, take a couple of extra minutes and trace circles onto the back of your parchment paper, I have a small round cookie cutter that I use but anything about a 1in size would work fine.  This allows you to keep a much more consistent size and makes for easier matching of the macarons for filling) Tap bottom of each sheet on work surface to release trapped air. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes (I leave mine for about 30 minutes, I haven't really varied this time in my batches). Bake 1 sheet at a time. 

From here on the directions are my own from my personal experiences.  I bake at 310 degrees (our oven runs a little cool)  I bake for 6 minutes with the oven door closed and then crack the oven door for another 6 minutes, rotating the pan after about 3 minutes.  This is what I have found to give the macarons the best feet.  Otherwise they seem to spread, they will still taste amazing though, so don't worry if this happens!

I leave my macarons on the parchment until they are pretty close to cool,  they should come off without a whole lot of trouble.  (I bought a silicon mat with the intention of using this for my macarons....NOT RECOMMENDED!  The entire batch had no feet and every single one stuck to the pan...think I will save that for other cookies!)

I match up the macarons next since there will be a little variation of their size.  I don't measure my filling, I fill my piping bag and pipe a small dollop onto the center of one side of the macaron.  Be sure not to pipe too much as the filling should stay inside the edges of the macarons...this is much better if you are packing these, if not I wouldn't worry about it too much!  I usually wrap mine in plastic wrap and put them in the fridge over night so that they can mature a little bit, though I almost always have a test one first :)!  They are also great to freeze, I have only frozen them already filled (I think you are supposed to freeze them w/o filling, but they were still great and defrost pretty quickly).

Enjoy!!!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

5th Grade Graduation – Part 1: Getting Inspired!

The last couple of weeks have been super crazy!  Between the May Day macaron orders along with other baking orders and trying to continue to work on the designs I have available on PaperStyle, I haven’t had time to sit down and get a post put together.  I just put a batch of sugar cookie dough into the fridge to chill (hopefully tomorrow or Friday’s post) and my wonderful husband took the kids to the park.  Even though my camera is full of things that I have been working on, and I do hope to get these posted soon, I decided that I should work on a post about what I am currently working on…5th Grade Graduation!  Jacob will be starting middle school in the fall and though I know he is getting excited, I also know that the nerves have already set in.  We decided that we would have a celebration with a small group of his friends.  With purple and gold being the school colors, I decided to use these for the color scheme.  I found a few coordinating things at Polka Dot Market, I love everything about this store and have been wanting to get stuff from here for a while now, this seemed like the perfect occasion!
I started working on the invitations and other printables (some of which are available free in my previous post J!) Since the invitations were pretty simple in their design and I did plan far enough in advance to order coordinating colors envelopes, I went with basic white and did a custom lining for them.  I also designed an envelope wrap to use as the address labels, I think that these might be my new favorite thing, I love how it gives a little sneak peek of what is inside. 
Invitation with custom coordinating liner

Envelope with wrap label
On to the inspiration part of this post...I love looking at different parties for inspiration, but really find myself inspired by a wide variety of things.  From clothing to furniture, patterned paper to paper towels…I know it sounds crazy but I found these paper towels with the best pattern on them J!  I guess the point I am trying to make is that anything can serve as inspiration.  By the end of the day I would have a stack of post-it notes with sketches or printed pages of pictures of something that I thought that would be good for this or that.  Fairly recently I had a wonderfully talented and creative friend introduce me to Pinterest (thanks Krista J!). I am sure that many of you are now familiar with this site, but if not it is one of the best ideas I think I have every seen!  Long gone are the sticky notes (at least most of them), they have been replaced with boards of inspiration filled with images from all over the web. I have started boards for several different parties I am working on along with other boards filled with amazing stuff.  What I love the most about this site is that it has introduced me to other blogs, stores and other sites that I was unfamiliar with.  I am sharing the board that I started for Jacob’s graduation party with you today, enjoy!   
5th Grade Graduation Board - click here
I look forward to sharing how everything comes together for the party along with a couple of projects that I have in the works!  Thanks for stopping by today, hope everyone has a great day!

Christine

Monday, May 16, 2011

Free Printables - Graduation

I am sharing some of the graduation printables I designed for Jacob's 5th Grade Graduation.  Since not everyone's school colors are purple and gold :), I did a black and white version for you as well!  I hope you enjoy!  I look forward to showing you the pictures from the party!
Click here to download the printables (both purple/gold and black/white files are included)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

100 "Likes" on Facebook = Free Summer Printable!!!!

WooHoo!!  Woke up this am to 100 "likes" on my Facebook page!

As a small thank you I am posting these summer party printables!  Thanks everyone, you guys are awesome!
Click here to download the zip file


Monday, April 25, 2011

Mini Flourless Chocolate Cakes

Happy Monday everyone!  Sorry it has taken me so long to get this post up, but here it is...better late than never, right ?!?! 

When I was looking through desserts to make for Passover this year I came across several different recipes for Flourless Chocolate Cake, I have made this before though it was so long ago I honestly can not tell you what it tasted like...taking a slight chance I guess but I like pretty much anything with chocolate so I didn't figure it could be too bad :) !!!  I had the cutest mini bundt pans that I had bought at an antique store about three years ago that I had yet to use and decided that these cakes would be even better (at least in presentation :) !) if I made them in these pans! 


LOVE, Love, love these mini bundt pans!!!
 I decided on this recipe I found on Epicurious, though I made white chocolate gnache for half of them (which ended up more like a glaze) and a dark chocolate gnache for the other half.  They seemed to be enjoyed equally, though I have to admit I never tried the white chocolate.  The recipe says it makes one 8 in cake, I got about 6 mini cakes per batch (one downside of only having 4 mini pans and making 18 cakes...it was a little time consuming!). On the cakes with the white chocolate I added a raspberry and the dark chocolate cakes were topped with candied orange peel (you might remember these from a couple of weeks ago when I burnt the first batch as well as my finger tips...the second batch turned out much better!).


Recipe: 8 in cake

  • 4 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)


  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter


  • 3/4 cup sugar


  • 3 large eggs



  • Preparation:
    Preheat oven to 375°F and butter an 8-inch round baking pan. Line bottom with a round of wax paper and butter paper (I used spray due to the type of pan I was using).
    Chop chocolate into small pieces. In a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water melt chocolate with butter, stirring, until smooth. Remove top of double boiler or bowl from heat and whisk sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs and whisk well. Sift 1/2 cup cocoa powder over chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. Pour batter into pan and bake in middle of oven 25 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust (the small pans needed to cook for pretty close to this amount of time as well). Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes and invert onto a serving plate.

    Ingredients

  • 6 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped, use best-quality


  • 1/4 cup heavy cream


  • Ingredients

  • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped


  • 1 cup heavy cream



  •  
    Directions:

  • 1 Place finely chopped chocolate in small heatproof bowl.


  • 2 Set over warm water on low heat (water should not touch bottom of bowl).


  • 3 Stir very frequently until almost melted. Remove from heat and hot water; stir until smooth, pressing out any lumps with back of spoon or a rubber spatula.


  • 4 In small saucepan over low heat, heat cream just to a simmer, stirring frequently.


  • 5 Remove from heat; all at once, add about two-thirds of hot cream to melted white chocolate.


  • 6 Gently stir to incorporate, then beat or whisk until smooth, scraping bowl as necessary with rubber spatula.


  • 7 Gradually stir in remaining cream



  •  
    I am hoping to have a few posts this week, have some fun projects I am working on for the house from Tip Junkie (AMAZING site!!!!), this is also the week that I am making the 16 dozen macarons...sounds like a lot of coffee and not a lot of sleep :) !!!  Have a great week, thanks for stopping by!!







     

    Sunday, April 17, 2011

    Passover Favors...Matzah Toffee

    Tomorrow evening is the first night of Passover, so we are getting a few things ready to take to the Sedar.  Last year I made Matzah Toffee that was delicious!  This year I decided I wanted to make Flourless Chocolate Cake (coming in my next post), but thought it would be nice to do the Matzah Toffee as favors as opposed to the dessert.  I got some great boxes from Garnish (little side note...this site is so amazing, awesome products, amazing customer service and super fast shipping, check it out if you haven't!) that I had no plans for...Perfect!  Some cute and simple plaid tags with some coordinating polka dot ribbon and they looked great!  The recipe for the toffee is below, there are many different ones out there to choose from but I love this one from Martha Stewart that uses coarse sea salt on top, it is such nice flavor in combination with the chocolate (though Jacob tells me he likes it without the salt...so I guess the salt could be considered optional).
    The recipe calls for 4 pieces of Matzah, I usually just use enough to cover the cookie sheet, since I break up the pieces it doesn't really matter the Matzah are kept in squares are not.  Depending on the number of squares that you end up using adjust your toffee recipe and amount of chocolate to cover the Matzah (probably about 1 1/2 times the original recipe).

    Ingredients

    • 4 sheets unsalted non-egg matzah
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
    • 1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
    • 1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)
    • Coarse sea salt

    Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
    2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper Place matzah in an even layer on baking sheet and set aside.
    3. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add brown sugar and immediately reduce temperature to low. Cook, stirring, adjusting heat as necessary, until sugar has completely dissolved and begins to bubble. Drizzle toffee over matzah and spread to cover using a spatula.
    4. Transfer toffee-covered matzah to oven and bake until toffee has a rich, shiny sheen, 10 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Tent matzah with aluminum foil and let stand 20 to 30 minutes.
    5. Remove foil tent and spread melted chocolate over matzah to cover; sprinkle with sea salt. Transfer matzah to refrigerator and let chill at least 2 hours.
    6. Break chilled matzah into pieces. Matzah will keep in an airtight container for up to 4 days at room temperature.

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    A cake for the BIG 3-0

    Not me of course...been there, done that...but my wonderful husband is 30 today!!!  David is so supportive and such a good sport whenever I bake anything, shoving spoonfuls of whatever it is at him even though desserts are not really his thing.  He is always asking me to leave some cupcakes or cake unfrosted for him...seriously?!?!  How about I leave some frosting uncaked...that sounds better to me :) !! This being said when I saw this cake on Martha Stewart several weeks ago I was determined to create a frostingless (well almost) cake for him for his birthday!  Over the past couple weeks there have been some amazing cakes that I have used as inspiration.  I used cake recipes from the unbelieveble talented Rosie at Sweetapolita, I could seriously stare at her site all day!  Then when I was trying to decide what I was going to use between the layers of cake I came across this Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cake Cheesecake from the also amazingly talented Heather of Sprinkle Bakes.  I think I could eat this entire cake, but since it isn't my birthday I decided to just use the Peanut Butter Frosting for between a couple of the layers and chocolate gnache between the other layers, then I found the cutest mini peanut butter cups at Trader Joe's last night and knew they would be the perfect finishing touch!  Happy Birthday David, I love you :) !
    Dark Chocolate Cake layered with White Cake Layers

    Here are a couple of other things that have kept me busy this week!

    Raspberry Macarons w/ Salted Caramel Gnache...still working on flavor combinations...this was VERY good!
    Coconut & Ginger Shortbread, dipped in chocolate and toasted coconut

    A couple of weeks ago after I made the Earl Grey Macarons, I was anxious to try using other flavors of teas in some baking.  When I went to the tea store to go find some chai that I thought would work, I came across some Coconut Ginger tea that smelled AMAZING, kind of sweet and spicy at the same time!  I decided that I would try adding some of this into a shortbread cookie.  I started with a basic shortbread recipe and put about one tablespoon of the tea leaves in the food processor with the flour.  The flavor that came through in the cookie was a little bit milder than I expected but was a nice compliment to the chocolate and toasted coconut on the outside.

    Gearing up for another weekend full of baking, trying some new recipes and hoping for some very exciting news to share soon!  Have a great weekend!!

    Friday, April 8, 2011

    Wishing for summer...Pina Colada Macarons

    Happy Friday!!! As you may have noticed, it has been a little while since my last post. Last week I got an order for 16 dozen macarons, I have to admit, after the excitement wore off the panic set in!  I have spent the last week in the kitchen, attempting different recipes and flavor combinations.  Several flopped attempts, a couple batches straight into the trash and a lot of cookies that never got filled.  When I made macarons for the first time in January, they worked perfect the time...beginners luck?!?  On Wednesday night, after I had attempted the same recipe for the third time with no luck, I would have said yes...this is the only time in the last week where I have been so frustrated that I just had to sit and cry for a minute.  It is a good thing my husband is a genius :)!!  He suggested that I go back to using the recipe that worked for me previously...not sure quite why this thought had not occurred to me previously?!? 

    So last night I went back to my original recipe, from Martha Stewart but a serious thank you to AmberLee @ Giverslog, who shares some incredibly helpful tips on her blog.  I have been wanting to find something to do with all of the bags of coconut that I had in the cupboard...I got a really good deal on it!  So I decided Pina Colada macarons. 

    Here is the recipe:
    Adapted from French Macarons

    For the Macaroons
    1 cup confectioners' sugar
    3/4 cup almond flour
    2 large egg whites, room temperature
    Pinch of cream of tartar
    1/4 cup superfine sugar
    1/4 tsp of coconut extract (I also added some almond extract, but it really overpowered the coconut flavor, so I would probably leave this out next time)

    Directions
    1.      Pulse confectioners' sugar and almond flour in a food processor until combined. Sift mixture 2 times.
    2.      Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk whites with a mixer on medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and whisk until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low, then add superfine sugar. Increase speed to high, and whisk until stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes. Sift flour mixture over whites, and fold until mixture is smooth and shiny.
    3.      Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip, and pipe 3/4-inch rounds 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets, dragging pastry tip to the side of rounds rather than forming peaks. Tap bottom of each sheet on work surface to release trapped air. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake 1 sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until macaroons are crisp and firm, about 10 minutes. After each batch, increase oven temperature to 375 degrees, heat for 5 minutes, then reduce to 325 degrees.
    4.      Let macaroons cool on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. (If macaroons stick, spray water underneath parchment on hot sheet. The steam will help release macaroons.)
    5.      Sandwich 2 same-size macaroons with 1 teaspoon filling. Serve immediately, or stack between layers of parchment, wrap in plastic, and freeze for up to 3 months.

    For the filling I started with a cream cheese filling that I have used before and made a few adjustments to make it a pineapple rum cream cheese

    Cream Cheese Filling

    6 oz cream cheese, softened
    4 oz unsalted butter, softened
    1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
    2 tbsp lemon juice (I put some pineapple in the food processor and substituted this for the lemon juice)
    1/2 tsp vanilla extract ( I substituted with 1/4 tsp pineapple extract and 1/4 tsp rum extract...you may want a little more of each, but this is a good starting point)
    Yellow food gel (this really gave me the bright yellow color I wanted)

    Beat the cream cheese and butter in an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar until combined, then mix in the juice and extract. Pipe a dollop onto one macaron and top with another.

    With the added flavoring in this it was a little thinner that I wanted it, just pop it in the fridge for a bit and it should help firm it up.

    Overall these macarons were a success, I will most definitely be sticking to this recipe for the ones I will be making at the end of this month.  I am looking for some flavor combinations to make for this order too, I really want them to be bright springy colors, with fresh flavors, here is what I have so far...I need two more flavors:
    Raspberry with white chocolate gnache filling
    Lemon with lemon mascarpone filling
    Lime & Basil (?!?!?!)

    Please share your thoughts, I would love your input!! 

    Here are a few pictures of the Pina Colada macarons...they are delicious!

    I have a few of things in the next couple of weeks I can't wait to share with you!!! 
    Have a great weekend! 

    Friday, March 25, 2011

    Jacob's Birthday Dinner

    Last night we hosted a dinner with some of our family for Jacob's birthday.  Jacob decided he didn't really want to have a party this year, but he did have some requests for the colors we used...neon green, black and pink.  I have to admit at first I was a little thrown off, and concerned about how I would make this work while looking young and fun and not too feminine.  I decided to really focus on the green and black and just throw the pink in with a few accents.  Here are the pics from the night, Enjoy!
    Gift Table
    I have been wanting to do a cake bunting for a while now, love how it looks in these bright colors!  Oh, and that is my new cake plate...Home Goods where have you been all my life?!?!?!
    
    For the placemats I went to the fabric store just thinking I was going to buy some green felt to cut and use and then I saw this AMAZING trim that was perfect!  I love how they turned out!  A couple of weeks ago I found a post on The White Library (which is amazing by the way!) where she incorported paper plates into the place settings!  I love how this added great pattern and color to the black plates that we used, but felt like it also helped to keep the dinner a little more casual.  I think one of my favorite things that we made were duct tape flowers.  Jacob has a pretty big obsession with duct tape (not quite sure I get it, but I decided to go with it), so when I found this green duct tape I decided that making these would be a more personal touch than using fresh flowers on the table. 
    Place Setting
    As you probably know I have a slight obsession with cake pops, so they were a must!  Bought some cute little pots from the Target $1 section and added some green crinkle paper that I have a huge bag of and have no idea where it came from ?
    
    
    Coordinating drink...a must!  Think this was Jacob's favorite thing!
    Jacob LOVES Indian food, so we decided to do a variety of dishes along with Naan (which almost caused a house fire, the original batch got left under the broiler while someone went to pick Jacob up from school, not mentioning any names, I will just tell you it wasn't me :)...thank goodness Trader Joe's is a block away!) and some homemade Samosa's, which were amazing...thanks honey!
    Most of these got eaten before I snapped a pic, they were sooo good!
    The inside of the cake...two layer homemade "Pink" Velvet cake with homemade neon green frosting!
    The birthday boy, well more like a young man now...such an AMAZING kid!!!!
    We had a wonderful night, but the best part was when Jacob thanked me for doing everything for the night...so sweet!

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    Jacob's Birthday...Eleven Already?!?!?!

    Wow, how time flies!  I can't believe that Jacob is eleven today...that means I will be...AHHH, can't think about it!  Jacob decided he didn't really want to have a birthday party this year so we decided to do a dinner with some family.  Jacob's request for colors...Neon Green, Black and Bright Pink!
    My mission:  Design a cake and table with colors that create a visual image of a pair of bad 90's bike shorts...hmmm.

    Here is a little preview of some of the things that I have so far, tonight's project will be the cake...wait till you see the color of the frosting...hope everyone there is willing to take a risk!!! 

    Can't wait to show you how everything comes together tomorrow night!!

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011

    Pinch Proof...Just in Time!

    A couple of weeks ago I saw the cutest shirt for St. Patrick's Day on Skip to my Lou.  This is the first time I have used freezer paper for a stencil and let me tell you the hardest part of this project was actually finding a store that carried the freezer paper...who would have thought?!?  I used the stencil that was on Skip to my Lou and added a few little hearts that I did in pink and painted the whole thing on a little pink tee...too cute!  I couldn't find the Glamour Dust that she recommended, but I did find a similar glitter for fabric paint that I used to cover the entire design. This project would so simple and cute to do for any holiday or birthday shirt!  Can't wait to see Miriam in this tomorrow at the parade!

    Up next...Jacob's birthday cake and my first attempt at fondant!
    

    Monday, March 14, 2011

    Chocolate Irish Cream Cupcakes

    I spent today making some amazing cupcakes!  I have seen several cupcake recipes over that last few weeks and I have been really wanting to make some for St. Patrick's Day, so today was the day!  Alot of the recipes I found called for mint, now I am a big fan of mint flavoring, would even consider mint chocolate chip ice cream to be at the top of my favorites.  However I made mint brownies several years ago and my husband said they tasted like toothpaste...decided I would try something else this time!  I ended up taking a recipe on Better Homes and Gardens and adapting to add the cocoa and the Baileys...YUM!  I made a vanilla buttercream frosting and royal icing shamrocks inspired by the fabulous Sweetopia.  I couldn't find disco dust at any of the stores around here so my shamrocks are a little lacking in the glam department...need to plan ahead and order online in the future!  Here is the cupcake recipe with the changes I made in green:

    Ingredients
    • 4    egg whites
    • 2  cups  all-purpose flour (changed to 1 3/4 cups)
    • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1  teaspoon  baking powder
    • 1/2  teaspoon  baking soda
    • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
    • 1  cup  buttermilk or sour milk*
    • 1/4  cup  green creme de menthe** (used 1/4 cup of Bailey's Irish Cream)
    • 1/2  cup  shortening
    • 1-3/4  cups  sugar
    • 1  teaspoon  vanilla

    Directions

    1. Allow egg whites to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, line twenty to twenty-two 2-1/2-inch muffin cups with paper bake cups ( I got 22 from the recipe so this is pretty accurate). In a medium bowl stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a 2-cup glass measuring cup combine the buttermilk and the Irish Cream. Set aside.
    2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl beat shortening with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, beating on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Add egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture to shortening mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until mixture is combined.
    3. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each about two-thirds full. Use the back of a spoon to smooth out batter in cups.
    4. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool cupcakes in muffin cups on wire racks for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from muffin cups. Cool completely on wire racks.

    Quick Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

    Ingredients

    • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
    • 1 cup butter
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream
    • Green food coloring (or color of choice if desired)

    Directions

    In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.

    Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency.

    Here is the link  for the instructions on making royal icing shapes, I did it freehand instead of using a stencil, but it definitely took many tries before I was getting a size and shape that I was happy with...they still aren't perfect, but look pretty cute on the cupcake.  By the way, cupcakes are much easier to photograph than one year olds!