April 29, 2011

Peace, Love & Happiness

Lately I've been having fun working with royal icing...not only on cookies but making cupcake toppers and cake decorations with it.   I made all the "Hippie Chick" pieces with royal icing and set them atop chocolate cupcakes frosted with chocolate buttercream.    I learned the hard way when a few pieces broke last time, so now I make 3 or 4 extras in case something breaks.
my plan

Drawing out a plan helps me stay on track.  After mixing my royal icing, I thinned it to "20 second consistancy".  20 second consistancy was perfect for piping & filling. First off, I piped the owl & bird eyes so they would dry and I could drop them in the wet icing.   Each piece was a 3 part process.. pipe the shape, set for 15 minutes, flood each shape, wait 3 hours, then finally add details..wings, dots, etc.
owl & bird eyes

Royal Icing: (I double this recipe)
1 lb confectioners sugar
3 tbsp meringue powder
5-6 tbsp warm water (ok to sub 1 tbsp water with non-oil flavoring of your choice)

Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes at low speed with a heavy-duty mixer, 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand-held mixer).
NOTE: Keep all utensils completely grease-free for proper icing consistency.
* For stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water.
**When using large countertop mixer or for stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water.
Thinned Royal Icing: To thin for pouring, add 1 teaspoon water per cup of royal icing. Use grease-free spoon or spatula to stir slowly. Add 1/2 teaspoon water at a time until you reach proper consistency


April 28, 2011

I Like you a Latte Brownies

I always run across recipes that I want to make so I print them out and put them in my "to do" pile.  A few weeks ago my friend, Kim, asked me what she should make for our monthly craft night group dessert.  I told her I had a few recipes that would be perfect.  I showed them to her and she picked "I Like You a Latte Brownies" that I found on Culinary Concotions by Peabody.   Kim made them in her ramekins which worked perfect for individual desserts.    She used Starbucks VIA for the espresso powder.  I got to her house as she was filling the ramekins and the batter seemed thin... but in the end they baked up perfect. It was a hard to get the chocolate & cream cheese to swirl but we did our best.  The espresso, chocolate & cream cheese was a tasty combo!   I will definitely be making this recipe on my own :)

A Like You a Latte Coffee and Cream Brownie Cakes
For the Swirl:
3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 TBSP unsalted butter, room temperature
¼  cup sugar
1 large egg
1 TBSP all purpose flour
For the Brownies:
6 ounces sweet baking chocolate (I used semisweet), chopped
3 TBSP unsalted butter, room temperature
½  cup sugar
2 large eggs
½  cup all purpose flour
½  tsp baking powder
¼  tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp espresso powder (Kim used Starbucks VIA)
½  cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup milk chocolate chips (for top)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter 8-inch square nonstick baking pan, muffin pans or ramekins
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in medium bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and beat until well blended. Beat in egg. Mix in flour, and vanilla. Set mixture aside.
Stir baking chocolate and butter in heavy small saucepan over low heat until smooth. Cool slightly.
Using electric mixer, beat sugar, espresso powder, and eggs in large bowl until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Mix in flour, baking powder, and salt.
Mix in chocolate mixture and vanilla extract. Stir in semi-sweet chocolate chips.
Spread half of chocolate batter (about 1 ¼  cups) in prepared pan. Using rubber spatula, spread cream cheese mixture over chocolate batter. Spoon remaining chocolate batter over top of cream cheese mixture.
If using muffin tins, use ½ scoop of an ice cream scoop of batter. Spoon cream cheese on top.  Using rubber spatula, spread cream cheese mixture over chocolate batter. Spoon remaining chocolate batter over top of cream cheese mixture.
Using tip of knife, gently swirl through batter, forming marble design. Top with milk chocolate chips.
Bake brownies until tester inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 25-30 minutes.


April 25, 2011

Ladybug Cake with Fresh Strawberry filling

Nothing says spring like LADYBUGS! and flowers! 
A few weeks ago I saw the most ladybugs I've ever seen in one place in my life near my office downtown. We looked them up online and found that they were mating. Now are seeing the larva on the walls of our building & they are developing their wings.
It's been fun to watch the circle of a ladybug's life.  They sure are ugly in the larva stage. You wouldn't think it was going to turn into a beautiful ladybug.

bottom layer - with a thin coat of fresh whip cream

piping a border (dam) on the cake so the strawberries don't push out the sides

border all the way around

start laying the strawberries

add the top layer & then stablize with a straw
insert the straw in the center of the cake til it hits the bottom

retract the straw about 1/4th of an inch and cut with scissors

push the straw down so it's below the surface

Straw below the surface

frost & decorate!


April 23, 2011

Baby's 1st Birthday

Makaella celebrated her 1st Birthday today! 

For her cake I made a 6" vanilla cake and frosted it with vanilla buttercream.   As I boxed it up, the fondant  "1" broke so I had to improvise and stick a candle in it (sorry no pictures, I was running short on time).   I made a bigger cake for guests along with some cupcakes.  The cupcakes were topped with fondant owls, sprinkles, pink daisies & royal icing toppers with her initial on it.  The more I do the ruffle frosting the more I love it.  It is so easy!!

Baby's personal cake..before the 1 broke

sprinkles..aren't the colors great?

The body was made with a Wilton circle cutter that I bent to make an oval
then I cut out another oval and used a star to cut out the center..and attached it to the bottom layer. I used royal icing to make the ears, eyes, nose and feet.  I used Americolor markers to to the black on the eyes. 

The pink topper was made with royal icing.  2 step process.  First make your circle. Let it dry overnight. Next day add the letter & top with disco dust

Fondant daisy.. Wilton daisy cutters, Center made with JEM daisy centers


April 18, 2011

Buttercream Frosting (no crisco)

Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream: (makes 6 cups)
4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 lbs sifted powder sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp cream, milk or water
1 tsp vanilla or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Cream butter, add liquids & salt... add in powder sugar slowly. Mix until fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Note: You can alter this with any extract to make different flavors or add fruit puree

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