February 29, 2012

Congratulations Greg!

Our friend earned his BLACK BELT!!
Way to go GREG!
His wife, Susana, asked me to make a simple cake with a black belt.  I used my 9 x 13 rectangle pan and made two 1.5" layers.   Once I had the cakes together, I carved the sides as if they were a waist.  I do not like to cover cakes in fondant and prefer to use buttercream for as much as I can - straight butter, no crisco.   This cake was done in all buttercream aside from the collar and the belt.  I spent more time frosting than I did making the pieces trying to make it nice and flat since I wasn't putting borders on to cover any imperfections.  The collar & belt tie had to sit overnight to firm up before I put them on the cake.  I used a little vodka to stick the tie to the rest of the belt and it was done.

Susana found perfect party goods for his party from Party City
Nice sturdy plates and they fit the occasion perfectly!

Ridges in the belt were made by placing drinking straws underneath in various directions
I used the Wilton serrated quilting/cutting wheel to make the stitched lines in the belt.

Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream:

5 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
2 lbs confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp cream, milk or water
1 tsp vanilla extract (I used my homemade vanilla extract & the flavor is amazing!)

In a stand mixer, cream the butter. Add the salt, water & vanilla.  Gradually add sifted powder sugar until fluffy.   Easy as that.. and so much better tasting than store bought.

February 22, 2012

Golf Cookies

This set of cookies goes with the Golf cupcakes I made for Justin a few weeks ago.
The golf cleat is made on a flip flop cutter.  Sometime you have to think outside the box... it's a little big but it worked.   I think I've finally found a cookie recipe that I will stick with. It's easily modified to make different flavors like mini chocolate chip, lemon, orange and chocolate.  

I'm in the middle of organizing my cookie cutters. I have 236 to be exact, although 2 of those are alphabet sets which have about 30 pieces in each and 2 are number sets with 10 cutters in each.  So really it's more like 300.   Hopefully I can finish organizing it in the next few weeks & then I'll share photos of how I've done it.   

http://www.bakeat350.blogspot.com/2012/02/storing-icing-tips-couplersworks-for-me.html posted a great blog yesterday showing how she stores her tips & couplers.   I have mine in an embroidery thread container & the couplers are on my bottles.  I would like more #2's & PME 1.5's.  I'm happy that I can use the PME 1.5's without clogging now thanks to The Bearfoot Baker.  I haven't tried PME 0 or 00 tips with her method yet...but will, soon.

How do you store your tips & cutters?   Share with us on my Facebook Wall. We would love to see!

Flip Flop Cutter

White stripes using PME 1.5" tip

February 19, 2012

Tee Time

Round 2 of Golf Cupcakes
These are almost identical to the ones I made for my Gramps 90th Birthday.

Happy Birthday Justin! 

February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day to my Valentine!

For my Valentine ~  My sweet husband...on our 15th Valentine's Day

February 13, 2012

Vegas or Bust

This week my friends are moving from Northern Oregon to Las Vegas, Nevada in hopes of finding more sunshine than rain.  They planned to make a roadtrip down the coast stopping to see friends & family along the way.  She is originally from SoCal so that's why the route has a "hook" in it because she could not plan a road trip without stopping in her hometown.   I bought a USA cutter last month and thought it would be cute for many occasions...going off to college, moving across the country, traveling, etc.    Their move gave me a great excuse to make my very first USA shaped cookie with LilaLoa's Chocolate Cutout Cookie recipe (it's sooooo good!)    The recipe is at the bottom of this post but please visit her website.. it is fabulous!!
Key representing a new home

and of course, my version of what that home will look like
even though I'm sure it's better than my version!

If you love chocolate, try this recipe... it's one of my favorites.  I made it with all butter.

The End-All Chocolate Cookies Recipe by LilaLoa

1 cup butter
1/4 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup cocoa
3 or 3 1/2 cups flour

Cream butter, shortening and sugar together. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Add baking powder and salt and mix again. Stir in the cocoa until well blended. Add flour 1 cup at a time. IF YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE COOKIES RIGHT AWAY, ADD 3 1/2 cups flour. If you are going to "chill" the dough, or just wait for another day to make your cookies, STOP AT 3 cups. It will be totally soft and look all wrong, and you will want to ignore me completely and add more flour, but I'm telling you -- DON'T DO IT. Practice self-restraint. You will be glad you did, and I will be proud of you. Roll out on lightly floured surface. Bake at 375 F for 6 1/2 minutes.

LilaLoa's tips:

*** I don't have conversions for the metric world. I'm sorry. Please don't leave me hating messages. But I will tell you that this may be the most forgiving cookie recipe in the world. You can just google conversions and anything that's remotely close to being right will work for these cookies.
*** You don't have to add shortening if that grosses you out or you hate it on sheer principle or you can't find it where you live. It just makes the cookies a little softer. You can omit it entirely or substitute it with butter.
*** If you find that the dough has cracks in it when you try to roll it - don't freak out. It's okay. Just knead it for a minute and it will be ever so smooth and wonderful.

Beach Lover

If you have been following me since last summer, you've probably seen a version of the
Beach cupcakes before for my boss's birthday.  I went with blues & greens for this set.

Flip flop tutorial here
I ended up not liking the shade of frosting that I did for sand
and redid it before I took them for the Birthday boy..
Happy Birthday MARTIN!

Surf trunk tutorial here

Beach Towel tutorial here

I picked up the umbrellas at Cost Plus World Market in the
cocktail/beverage section .. perfect for beach themed cupcakes

February 10, 2012

Beach Cookies

It's hard to believe that it's February in SoCal... our temps have been in the mid to high 70's for the last week except for 1 day that we had a storm blow over and leave us trace amounts of rain (enough to make the roads dirty & my white car brown).

This set of cookies would be great for a "Welcome Summer" party or pool/beach party.

I used a square cutter and cut 2 sides at a slant so they would
look like surf trunks.

The Flip flop cutter - I've also used this to make Golf Shoe cookies

Beach scene was made on a scalloped square cutter
I added turbiano sugar to the sand after flooding the sand and letting it sit about 10 minutes.

February 8, 2012

Valentine Letters

Love Letters

My mom asked me if I would make cookies for her "shut -in's" and co-workers. I saw some "love letter" cookies on Pinterest and they were so cute.  They worked up very quickly and would be a great beginner cookie.

Small heart - same heart as I used for the Cowboy Valentine

Start with a rectangle cookie

Pipe a rectangle

Let it dry for 20-30 minutes

Flood the rectangle

Let it sit 20-30 minutes

Pipe a "\" across from the corners

Repeat in the other direction

Pipe a heart in a cordinating color & fill..

Easy as that... 1-2-3.

February 7, 2012

Cowboy Love

I had every intention to blog this set of cookies earlier today from my sisters but her Ipad didn't want to cooperate with my blog pics & I was forced to sit back and enjoy the day instead:)  This set was made especially for them because both of them love good ole' country.  I made 2 shades of Cake Craft Super Burgandy & mixed Chocolate Brown with a touch of black for the hats.

His Initials

Her initials

My nephew's initials (couldn't leave him out)

I covered up a mistake..the heart on the hat was made with icing
that was too thin. I let it set up and then outlined it with stiff brown icing.
It wasn't the look I was going for but it worked.

Rolling on dowels makes the thickness the same every time!

Wishing NZ, BZ & SZ a Happy Valentine's Day!!

February 6, 2012

Valentine Cupcakes

Valentine's Day is right around the corner...8 days to go!  I purchased heart sparklers from Jilly Bean Kids a few weeks ago & thought they would be cute in cupcakes.  I gave 2 away in my Sweet Valentine Giveway & then gave the rest to our friend's teenage daughter. She thought they were "cool".  

It's been a while since I've used  a sparkler so I had Juls assist me in
getting it started - (yes I'm a chicken)
For some reason I thought the whole thing would be a
sparkler at once

Have you tried my favorite buttercream recipe?   I use it exclusively, even to decorate with.  I don't even have crisco in the house... it can be done in all BUTTER despite what Wilton teachers tell you :)  I've had this recipe stand up in high temps of 85, in the sunshine with no melting... it works perfectly.

Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream
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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