Saturday, November 13, 2010

belated bday loot

This post has been a long time coming. When I went home a couple of months ago, one of my closest and dearest friends surprised me with a bunch of goodies! Want to see?

Let me explain this first one. When I started living by myself, I was on a missing to decorate my bathroom blue and yellow with a rubber ducky theme. My friend and my mom would find little things to help add to my collection. And just so you know, my bathroom is still the same to this day!

Rubber ducky cupcake liners! Wouldn't these be cute for a baby shower?
I need to find a creative way to use these, maybe some GIANT cupcakes?

[large] Flower cupcake liners! Maybe something for Mother's Day?

And now a nod to my two favorite things in this world: heels and pastries. If you see me on a daily basis, you are used to me in jeans, t-shirt, sneakers, and a ponytail all sans makeup. But ask anyone that's seen me dressed up for a function (oh let's say a wedding) you'll be told that I always rock a pair of fantastic heels and I have yet to wear the same pair.

High heel cake server (heel is magnetic).

Thank you K for such wonderful and thoughtful gifts! I miss you!!

What's up doc?

I've never been a carrot cake fan. I know, how can I not like carrot cake? It's a cult favorite. I think it's because I had bad carrot cake once and I was scarred for life. Most people like really sugary frostings, the cream cheese icing is heavy handed with the sugar. I also remember the cake I tried was dense, hard, and flavorless. So now you know where I'm coming from.

I was talking with a colleague about what type of frosting would go best with his carrot cake. I recommend the mascarpone/cream cheese frosting that I use on the pumpkin cupcakes. He wasn't too sure about it's ability to hold up. I told him that I would experiment with his cake recipe and my frosting and report back.

W.O.W. I know love carrot cake. I apologize for not having taken pictures, it just disappeared before I remembered to document it.

Carrot cake (adapted from colleauge):
2 c sugar
1/2 c + 1/3 c cooking oil
1/2 c applesauce
4 eggs

Mix/beat together in 1 qt bowl until well blended and sugar is dissolved.

2 c sifted flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt

Mix together, in separate bowl, then gradually add to sugar mixture, stirring until thoroughly blended.

3 c grated carrots (about 3 carrots)
1/2 to 1 c finely chopped walnuts (adjust to your taste)

Fold into mixture and pour into greased & floured pans. Will make layer cake or enough for 9x13 pan. I used 2 9"in cake rounds and only covered the bottom using parchment paper. Baked at 350 F for 45 minutes, but you might want to scale down the bake time and check it. (Mine was completely done at 45 min. I was afraid it would be dry, but the cake came out super moist.)

Colleauges notes: I like to use butter in the pan and I mix a bit of cinnamon into the flour in cup then flour the pans with that mixture. Bake in preheated 350° oven for ~45 min or until done. (depends on your oven)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pumpkin Season

It's Autumn! That means it's pumpkin season!

Pumpkin pie cupcakes:
Pumpkin cupakes
Mascarpone/cream cheese frosting
Cinnamon/sugar pie crust and fresh grated cinnamon stick for garnish

All photos by me.

Cupcake (adapted from Penzey's Spices recipe for frosted pumpkin bars)
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
4 eggs
1/2 c cup vegetable oil
1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
2 cups sugar
1 15 ounce can plain pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

1. Preheat oven to 350. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg and set aside. In a separate bowl, beat eggs, oil, applesauce, sugar and pumpkin.

2. Gradually add dry ingredients and blend well. Divide batter into 24 lined cupcakes and bake for 30-40+ minutes till toothpick in center comes out clean. Let cool on rack and frost.

Mascarpone/Cream Cheese Frosting (from Joy of Baking)
1 1/2 (360 ml) cups heavy whipping cream
1 - 8 ounce (227 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
1 - 8 ounce (227 grams) tub of Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (115 grams) confectioners' (icing or powdered) sugar, sifted

In your food processor, or with a hand mixer, process the cream cheese and mascarpone cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla and confectioners sugar and process until smooth. Transfer this mixture to a large mixing bowl.

Then, in the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. With a large spatula, gently but quickly fold a little of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture to lighten it. Then fold in the remaining whipped cream, in two stages. Cover and place the frosting in the refrigerator for an hour or two, or until it is firm enough to spread.

Sweet Surprise

*This is a dual post between this blog and my other blog.

Our photographer and his family are pretty amazing. I can't tell you how many questions and favors I've asked them over the last year. I'm amazed that they've put up with me, and we're still 9 months away from the wedding. Woah, 9 months! Crap!

Anyways, I wanted to thank them. What better way than a tasty treat? How about a tasty treat in the form of their logo?

Our photographer is Jason Angelini. Look them up, they're AWESOME!

These traveled well. I made them the night before we left to keep them as fresh as possible. Placed them in tupperware to keep them moist (at least that was the hope), frozen them, packed them in ice in a cardboard box, and then placed it in the fridge as soon as we got to FL. I was really worried about the heat and humidity, but as it turned out, Florida was experiencing record low temperatures.

Candy Logos

You asked, now it's my turn to deliver. I've tried to document my method on how to make custom candy logos/monograms to the best of my abilities for you. Keep in mind that is a relatively time consuming project, but a rewarding and tasty project.

wax paper
silicone mold - I use the square Wilton brownie mold, each square is approximately 1 3/8"
pastry bag
round pastry tip
color candy melts (you could use white chocolate and food coloring, but chocolate needs to be tempered properly to avoid crystallization).

Step 1: Manipulate your logo or design. Size it as close to the size of your mold as possible. And then the magic trick, you'll need to flip the image along the horizontal axis. I use Adobe Illustrator to edit my designs. You'll want to print multiple copies of the image on a single sheet of paper. Just be sure to leave space between each image.

Step 2: Now that you have your design printed on paper, cover it with a sheet of wax paper. I suggest either taping it directly to your print out (at multiple points across the paper) or use small dots of melted candy. This will help keep the wax paper flat and thus your design flat. I tried taping both the print out and wax paper to the counter, but I found that I like to move the paper around when I pipe the candy.

Step 3: Piping the details. It just happens that both candies I've done to date had letters. I melted white candy melts and used a piping bag, coupler, and a #1 round Ateco pastry tip. I also have a candy melter, but you can definitely put the candy melts in the pastry bag (prepped with coupler if needed) and stick it in the microwave. Here's a tip with the candy melter, careful when stiring. You can incorporate air into the melted candy and it will result in bubbly results. Once the candy is prepped, trace your design. The tip size will depend on your design. You might not even need a fancy pastry tip. Always make extra (unless you are really good) in case some don't come out right. Once you have a sheet completed, let it set up. If it's warm in my kitchen or I'm being impatient, I'll slide the wax paper onto the backside of a cookie sheet and place it in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes. I use the backside of the cookie sheet in order to keep the wax paper as flat as possible during transfer.

'N^2' piped backwards.

Step 4: Release piped design from wax paper. I push on the backside of the wax paper so that I'm not pulling the candy off. This is probably more because letters are delicate. Transfer letters to the brownie tray.

'N^2' situated in the brownie tray.
Step 5a: Melt more candy to fill. I found the easiest way is to use a pastry bag. The trick here is to make sure that your candy isn't too hot that it'll melt the delicate letters, but that the candy isn't so cooled down that it doesn't give adequate coverage. I usually fill a few at a time.

See the uneven edges and the voids near the 'a'? I whipped too
much air into the candy when melting it and the candy was a
touch too cool so coverage was spotty in the small areas.

Step 5b: I use the small end of a chopstick to help distribute the melted candy. I dip the end of the chopstick in the center (not too deep that you move your lettering around) and move the chopstick in small circles moving from the center towards the edges. I'll push the chopstick deeper at the corners to make sure the candy gets in the corners. Then I swirl back to the center and lift the stick. This step is completely optional, I'm just anal retentive about details.

Step 6: Let candy it set up. Time will depend on how thick your candy. Again, if it's warm in my kitchen or I'm being impatient, I'll slide the tray onto the backside of a cookie sheet and place it in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes.

Step 7: Pop them out and eat or use as garnish!

N^2 logo I created with the help of the other bridesmaids for a friend.

Jason Angelini Photography's logo!

Let me know if you have any questions!