Saturday, January 29, 2011

I'm a Winner!

Check me out!
We have good friends who are very involved in a Scottish society, , and every year they celebrate Robert Burns,  Every year there is a dessert contest, and like I wouldn't enter a dessert contest. 

I made a "red" velvet cake, but instead of red I made it purple to go with the scottish thistle design I planned to do on the outside of the cake.  And of course, cream cheese frosting, my favorite!

To change things up a bit, I decided to make my own fondant and utilize that.  Initially it was a little too fragile, but I added more powdered sugar to remove some of the moisture and was able to get the cake covered. 

I had been pondering how to do a scottish thistle design, or maybe a 3D thistle out of gum paste.  I looked through Google images to give myself inspiration, and happened upon thistle jewelry, which helped me figure out a flat design.

I was pretty happy with how it turned out, but have additional ideas for my next opportunity. 

I always have it's getting the skill and experience to truly make them happen.

I would also like to thank my baking assistant.  He's a good helper, and all I have to do to reward him for his assistance is let him have one beater.  Though my preference would have been that he not lick the beater while inside one of my pop up hampers...
Note to self...this one is now for dirty clothes only....

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Dark Side

So I'm working on Pop Tarts again.  My husband and I work for the same company and typically the last Friday of the month is Food Day.  Well in my husband's department they moved it up a day, so I'm baking for his department tonite. 

I must say, my kitchen smells so AMAZING!  I made chocolate pastry crust with a peanut butter filling for these pop tarts. I haven't even tasted them yet, they just came out of the oven, but based on the smell, they can't taste bad.  Here's hoping!

I did make regular pastry with the raspberry and the fudge topping again as well.  And this leaks.  My hot fudge sauce has been in a jar in my fridge, and to be honest, it's not sauce.  I basically have a jar of fudge...not a bad thing!  It worked much better. 

I will post more details tomorrow, I still need to clean up and get to bed at a decent hour.   And maybe go get a glass of milk.....and a pop tart........

Yeah, cleaning can wait.....

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Not so Vanilla's vanilla.  But it'll be homemade vanilla.  Real vanilla extract is kind of expensive and I read on another blog about how to make your own...and it's so easy. 

1.  Find/purchase bottle of liquor.
           Vodka is recommended as it doesn't have much flavor. 
           I had rum and Bakon vodka, so I went
           with that.  Plain vodka has been added to the grocery list.
2.  Find/purchase vanilla beans. 
            I went through for my vanilla beans. 
            It was much less expensive than
            buying locally, even with shipping.

3. Slit vanilla beans, add to liquor.

4. Shake it once a week, it will keep getting stronger the longer you wait.
And to make more, just add more liquor to that bottle. 

I also poured some sugar over a slit vanilla bean to make vanilla sugar.  And same deal, I will just continue to add sugar to the vanilla bean jar as I use it.

Now I'm suspecting your wondering why the vodka says Bakon and why I want to purchase 'plain vodka'.

Yep...Bacon flavored vodka...premium even.  And what, pray tell, would I use bacon-ish vanilla for? 

I will let you know as soon as I figure it out....

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cake of Dragon

So who in their right mind decides for their first fondant covered cake to make a DRAGON!  Not a little round cake, or a square...A DRAGON!


My first attempt to shape krispie treats into the shape of a dragon then cover it in fondant was an EPIC fail.  That whole "it looks so easy on TV" think got me. 

My second concept went well...until I changed my mind.  I was going to do a smaller fondant figure of the dragon on a volcano cake.  I know how to do the figures and that seemed a pretty safe bet.  Then yesterday...yes...the day before I am to deliver the cake, I find this:

That could be cool, and one of the reasons I asked to do the cake was to be able to try something new.  So I went for it.  I already had baked two round cakes so I had everything I needed.

Stage one:  The basic shape

I then frosted this with chocolate cream cheese favorite!

Fondant Stage:

Yeah....practice makes perfect.  The base went on pretty well, but a little short in a couple spots, did a little patching, then started working on the face.  The spikes went well, but I did a couple of different things before I decided the mouth needed carved out.  Wings...needed more time to dry, but they did the job.  My main issue was I wanted it fierce, not cute.  Apparently big teeth, a unibrow and heavy eyeliner = fierce (or fiercer anyway).  My son was concerned that it would scare the birthday girl and make her cry, I figured at 13 she could handle it.

The birthday girl's Dad suggested the dragon sitting on a pile of gold.  Metallic food kinda freaks me I looked for candy with gold wrapper...Rolo's filled to bill perfectly, then added some party favor rings. 

All in all, didn't turn out too bad and I learned a ton.  Hopefully the birthday girl enjoys it. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

D & D

Last night I started working on a cake for a good friend's daughter.  Being her father's daughter, she's huge into science fiction, fantasy, and comics.  I love these too, so I was excited to be able to do a cake for her.  Hopefully it turns out, I'm still new to the whole decorating thing and this is pretty ambitious.  I will definitely post pics (good or awesome) when it's done.  I'm still at the beginning stages.

One thing to keep in mind for Mom's of boys...girls like this are AWESOME!  She gets a little flack for being so into things that should be 'boy' territory.  Mom's let your boys know, girls like this grow up sexy, will want to play video games with him, she swon't drag  you to chick flicks, can likely kick their butt with a light saber and will allow the vintage collection of Star Wars collectable to be displayed in the living room vs. being boxed up in the basement.

My inspiration for the cake....we'll see how close I get...fingers crossed.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Popping Tarts...

So in 41 years I have never made a pastry pie crust.  I'm not a big fruit pie person cause honestly, I don't really like pie crust.  I've typically been a 'if it's not chocolate it's a waste of time' sort of person.  However there is one thing with pastry crust I do love...Pop Tarts.

I don't eat Pop Tarts very often.  When I do I eat the crust first to get it out of the way, then eat the middle.  My favorite is the chocolate fudge Pop Tarts.  Mmmmmm.... 

On one rare occasion where as adults we took over the television, we tuned into Food Network to one of the shows where the cooks talk about there favorites foods.  One item that came up as a favorite was homemade pop tarts.  *insert gasp of awe here* 

My mind first went to how to make them more nutritious...I'm actually pretty proud of myself for going that direction first.  I googled and found some pastry recipes, then started pondering on how to make them decadent.

So fillings...I made a homemade hot fudge sauce, a peanut butter and raspberry jam.  The homemade hot fudge....mmmmmm....

Doing the pastry crust had me worried. I didn't want to fight with stickiness and I had the added pressure of a four year old begging to help.  I floured my surface, then put a piece of parchment paper over it to roll it. Once pretty flat, I carefully removed the parchment paper, floured it again, then rolled it thinner.  Nothing stuck. 

The only real issue I had was one I totally saw coming, but went for it anyway.  The peanut butter filling and especially the hot fudge filling totally ran out.  They were too thin and I, predictably, overfilled the tarts.  I had made them like little ravioli's vs. big tarts.

The resulting tarts right out of the oven...

But once peeled off and prettied up....

And they tasted AWESOME!

Everyone said so.  I will be continuing to play with these and checking out different flavor combos and a chocolate pastry crust with cheesecake filling, or a cinnamon trust with pumpkin pie filling...the possibilites are endless. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Mike's Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie....

Tonite was one of those nights where making cookies with your four year old is the perfect end to your day.  A couple of days ago my husband had forwarded me a recipe from one of his co-workers with the statement 'we ARE making these cookies this weekend'.  Hey, I have no issue with that. 

I pulled out the 'dolly' measuring cups, one of my favorite Christmas gifts of this past year.

I measured and he poured, then covered his ears while I mixed.  Then he helped me use my cookie scoop to load the baking sheets.

The finished chocolate chip cookies...

My husband is a happy camper munching on these cookies. 


2 sticks of butter
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Cream the above ingredients then add:

2 1/2 cups flour (I used whole wheat flour)
1tsp baking soda
1 large box vanilla pudding

Mix then add:

chocolate chips

Let the batter sit for 10 minutes (good time to pre-heat the oven), then bake at 350 for @13 minutes.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What I had in the oven 5 years ago...

A bun.

Okay, a baby.  I have a syndrome and wasn't sure if I could become pregnant.  When I realized I was...SO EXCITED!  I was 36 years old and starting a whole new chapter.

I felt awesome during my pregnancy.  No morning sickness!  I was happy and had some good energy for portions.  I was also excited that we were able to find out it was a boy.  At the ultrasound it was pretty obvious...he had one leg up again his ear and his bits were right there for anyone to see.

I did have a few complications:

My Age
My Blood Pressure
Gestational Diabetes
RH Negative
Large Fibriods
Undersized Baby

For the last two weeks of my pregnancy we spent every other day running to doctors having stress tests, non-stress tests and ultrasounds.  I think I knew a couple of months in I was destined for a c-section, which I was fine with.  Now to convince the doctors.  Finally at 8:45 in the evening the doctors came in and let us know if was c-section time.  I think they were a little shocked when we cheered. 

Killian was born healthy, if small at 5 lbs and 1oz not quite 2 weeks before his due date.  He finally got on 'the chart' at age 3 for weight.  He's an animated, active, tall, skinny kid and my miracle baby.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I started a baking project and really realized that it's a weekend project.  I'm hoping that one element of this project isn't going to be gone before the weekend. 

Hot fudge.

Got a jar in the husband bought ice cream for the brownies....DANGER!

On the flip side, I recently found a recipe for hot fudge I would like to make. I eat what's in the fridge and make the homemade hot fudge in addition to the other project?

eh.  I'll wing it and see what happens when I get there.  Isn't that part of the fun?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Who likes chai?

MEEEE!!!!  *As I run around my living room chanting 'I Love Chai!'*  Okay...I'm not actually running around my living room chanting 'I love chai!'  It would give my son ideas and my husband concerns.  I do however love chai. 

I have a cupcake recipe I've made in the past that calls for coffee, there are a lot of those out there combining coffee and chocolate.  I'd recently made them, then happened to be walking by a Starbucks.  I'm not a coffee drinker, but I love me some chai tea...if you haven't figured it out.

Then it hit me.  Chai Chocolate Cupcakes.  The sky opened and angels sang. 

Now how to implement the chai.  I actually chose the powdered chai latte in those little tins.  It would store well, I could experiment with the amounts, and it wasn't expensive just in case it just really didn't work.

It worked.  I frosted with chocolate cream cheese frosting and took some to work. One of my co-workers said she would do a commercial for me where she would exagerattedly eat one of the cupcakes with a look of joy and wonder while saying nom nom nom. join my son running around the living room chanting 'I love chai and Iron Man!....'

Monday, January 10, 2011

I was hijacked...

I've been pondering blogging for a while and decided I wanted to start blogging about the baking I've been doing.  I have so been enjoying pulling the different flavors together and the rolling avalanche of ideas it becomes.  The things I enjoy have always seemed to be taking elements and putting them together to create something new.  And in this case...tastes good.

Tonite I was going to start on experimenting with a certain type of pastry that will, at this time, remain secret to entice you to come back for further posts. 

The hijacking:  I started pulling down the baking ingredients...and my four year old son quickly knew what he wanted...BROWNIES!  I know this because he yelled 'BROWNIES!' at the top of his lungs and started doing a little dance.  That really wasn't my plan.  Then my husband jumped on the hijacking bandwagon.  They sat next to each other, gave me the 'cute faces' and said please.  How on earth could I resist that?  There's no saying no to cute faces on your two favorite guys. 

So peanut butter swirled chocolate brownies with chocolate chips and butterscotch chips (had no peanut butter chips so punted...and it worked) were baked. 

My son likes to help pour in the ingredients, then stand with his hands over his ears while the mixer goes.  This is actually a huge improvement from him running screaming from the kitchen to his bedroom when it was time to mix.  Each guy got a beater, then we enjoyed the end result with a little bit of chocolate chip ice cream served while the brownies were still warm.

Tomorrow I will distract them with the brownies we made tonite so I can get back to my plan.  At least that's what I hope happens.  You just never know.