Saturday, November 17, 2012

1D party cookies

Vanilla Birthday Party Cookies
This was my first time making 1D cookies. When I was asked if I could make them, I have to admit that I didn't even know what 1D was! Thank you Google! Turns out, 1D, stands for One Direction, an insanely successful boy band - I guess I'm embarrassingly behind the times!
Callye is crazy talented! She is my cookie guru if there is such a thing!
I made Callye's recipe but I used Nielson-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract and because I love the little specks of vanilla seeds, I added a small dose of Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Paste The icing is vanilla royal icing. 

John Deere Fan

Chocolate sugar cookies (LilaLoa's recipe) - John-Deere-like symbol and tractor tires.
I made these cookies in September for a little almost 3 year old boy who is obsessed with all things  John Deere.
1 cup butter
1/4 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups granulated suga
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla 
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. 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.

I have got to tell you - this is the easiest dough I have ever worked with - so smooth and rich - I just love it! LilaLoa knows what she is talking about. Go to her blog and indulge in all of the knowledge she so willingly shares - she is a very talented lady!!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Pink Ombre Rose Cake

I bravely attempted this cake for our final Ladies Fellowship Hour in May - what was I thinking?
This is a three layer strawberry cake - each cake layer is a shade of pink - similar to the icing pictured.
By the time I transported this cake to church, the flowers were beginning to slide off of the cake! Disaster! I mad the best of it and took an "oh well" attitude, what else could I do? I took the cake to the kitchen and tried to force the roses back into place with a knife. It worked somewhat but when a friend began to slice it, it all just started falling apart - again, disaster! Everyone said it tasted good but what could they say? I hope I have learned my lesson but somehow, I think I will continue to take risks with my baking adventures!

Tiered Cake - final Wilton course

I made this cake on May 29, 2012 for my "tall cakes" class at Michaels. It was a 3 hour class and we brought our cakes ready to go - each tier iced smooth and ready for fondant or final touches if we chose not to do fondant. I chose smooth buttercream because I really don't care for fondant and my family feels the same way. 
The board was decorated with a soft pink satin ribbon and each tier received the same ribbon treatment. The flowers were fondant/gum paste mixture & some were just gum paste - all were made in advance. The 
leaves were piped on with buttercream when I was adding the finishing touches.
Each tier consists of two layers, the top is 6" layers and the bottom is 8" layers on a 10" board. 
The top tier is on an eight inch board and there are 4 dowels in the bottom tier to support the weight of the top. There is a long dowel that goes straight through the two tiers into the bottom board for stability. Driving the dowel through the cake and board proved challenging to say the least! I had to use a hammer and of course I missed the dowel several times and smashed my top tier - this explains the positioning of the flower cluster on the top tier! 
As you can see, there is a bit of a "lean" to the final cake - in transporting it home, it shifted on the uneven seat of the car and some of the icing got smooshed her and there. It was definitely an eye opening  & learning experience. I haven't had the urge to make another tiered cake since then. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Cherry Shortbread Cookies

New recipe!
First time seeing this recipe and just had to give it a go. The recipe can be found at Sweetopia along with a "how to" in making and decorating these yummy cookies. I followed Marian's recipe with one minor change - I added almost a full tablespoon of pure almond extract to bump up the cherry flavor. Next time I make these cookies I will be even more generous with the almond extract. These cookies are light pink with little specks of cherries throughout and are delicate and melt-in-your-mouth-delicious!
Check out Marian's blog and recipe here.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Two Tier Cake - My First Time

This is my first two tier cake - both the bottom tier and top tier are 2 flavors, dark chocolate and strawberry with strawberry buttercream and strawberry marshmallow fondant. It was also my first time making fondant! This was made for my daughter's 19th birthday in May.
The fondant was easy to make, simple instructions etc, but it doesn't roll out nearly as smooth as Wilton fondant. The cake looked like it had acne scars - it was very pitted which explains the over abundance of whimsical flowers everywhere! The fondant sure tasted a lot better but it did not give the smooth texture and results that I was hoping for.
I used the good old interwebs to learn about making a 2 tiered, stack on stack cake as we had not done the "tall cakes" class at Michaels yet. The top tier is a 6 inch round so I needed a 6 inch round thin cake circle. I also needed dowels of some kind. Since it was going to be only 2 tiers and the top was small, I went with plastic "straw" type dowels that I picked up at Flour Confections. They look like a bubble tea straw. They are easy to cut to size with a snip of the scissors. I also needed a 1/2" thick cake board to support the weight of the tiered cake. I purchased this at Flour Confections as well, I should have gotten a 12" but I got a 10" which served anyway. The bottom tier is 8".
I'd love to hear from you how you have made out with making your own marshmallow fondant and 2 tiered cakes.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

French Vanilla Cupcakes With a Twist

French Vanilla Cupcake with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
These cupcakes were made for Friday night "games night" with my sisters and friends. I tried something different and "painted" the inside of the piping bag with 3 colors of food coloring before filling the bag with icing. You cannot believe how brilliant they thought I was! I used a Wilton 1M tip and made a "rose" by starting at the center and working my way out just using a clockwise circular motion. I added a tiny fondant blossom which had a sugar pearl in the center. You really have to try this method because I got so many comments on this simple cupcake - everyone with think you are incredible, which you might be - I am just average on a good day so I was pleasantly surprised at the reaction :) Could you imagine a "rose" cake done this way? That would be pretty!
I also filled some of the cupcakes that I made with raspberry jam - I used Smucker's seedless raspberry jam that comes in the squirt bottle. I painted the piping bag with just one color, fuschia, so that it would be easy to tell which ones had filling and which did not. 
It was my first time filling cupcakes and my first time using LorAnn Butter Vanilla Bakery Emulsion in the frosting. I also used Nielsen Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla extract in the frosting and the cupcake.
French Vanilla Cupcake with Raspberry filling and Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

**** Wilton 1M - I have a situation - why do my two Wilton 1M tips look completely different?

I realized that it is actually the 2D tip that is supposed to give you the rose but I used the 1M tip on the left in the pictures.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Spring Has Sprung!

Well, I thought "spring had sprung" but it was cold and snowing (almost invisible but still) on Tuesday when I brought these springy cookies to Ladies' group - it was the only thing spring like about Tuesday morning! The cookies came to mind when I decided to bring Strawberry Cake for my contribution to the food table. I just had to make strawberry minis to go with the cake - more as decoration than anything - they are just cute!

The cookies are an adaptation of my favorite sugar cookie recipe by Sugarbelle. I made them with Nielson Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla and Nielson Massey Orange Extract and 1 tsp. of grated orange zest. They were  very deceptive - they looked like strawberries but tasted like orange - what trickery!

I made some little blossoms for some of the "strawberries" with white fondant and added a dot of yellow royal icing for the center of the fondant blossom. 
Of course - in my tradition of "over doing" almost everything - I just had to add a few chocolate dipped "strawberries" to the plate of springiness :) I also brought some actual chocolate dipped strawberries to completely take it over the top, because that's just how I roll ;) Looking at my "daisy" cookies in this pic - they look like fried eggs ;( oops

Wilton Course 3 Final Cake

Wilton Course 3 Final Cake
Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Buttercream Filling and Vanilla Frosting - Topped with Wilton Fondant 
Strawberry Cake
2 cups white sugar
1 package of strawberry Jell-O
1 cup unsalted butter (room temp)
4 eggs (room temp)
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup strawberry puree - can be made from frozen sweetened or fresh with 1 tbsp sugar ( I have only ever used fresh because I have never bought frozen sweetened berries

For this course cake, I only needed a 6" round so I made two 8" rounds for a layer cake to take to our Tuesday morning ladies' group. Normally, you could make this with two 9" pans - I've made it into cupcakes before as well. So for whatever you would like - prepare your pans. I use Wilton Cake Release and just to be safe, I also used parchment rounds.

Cream butter and sugar and Jell-O powder, beating until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and mixing well after each addition. Mix the vanilla and milk together.
Combine the dry ingredients together and add them alternating with the milk mixture until all are incorporated and stir in the puree. Pour into prepared pans and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack for about 10 minutes, remove from pans and finish cooling. Top with your favorite frosting.
This strawberry cake is the same one I have used in the 5 layer Neapolitan cake shown here.
This is the strawberry cake that I made in the two 8" pans to take to my ladies' group on Tuesday.

Friday, April 20, 2012

French Vanilla Cake - Cake Decorating Isn't for Sissies!

This is my first fondant covered cake. The flowers are fondant and gum paste/fondant.
Michaels Course 3 - Gum Paste and Fondant - week 3 we covered a square cake and learned how to make daisies and mums. 
The cake and buttercream icing are made with Nielson Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla. The fondant and gum paste are Wilton. We used the 20" wide glide rolling pin and the roll-n-cut mat to roll out the fondant for the cake.
Rolling fondant takes some serious muscles! I swear, my arms were aching the next day - I couldn't believe it. Cake decorating is not for sissies! 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Easter Cupcakes

Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream 
These cupcakes were decorated to look like birds nests in the grass. I made nests using left over royal icing which I tinted brown and I put mini gourmet jelly beans which I got from the bulk store. My daughter and I had been shopping and saw something similar for sale as decorations and she said - "Mom, you could make these" - so I did. The nests for sale were by Wilton and were about $8 in Michaels (CAD) (if I recall correctly). 
I also did some cupcakes in "Eastery" colors.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Easter Cookies

These are chocolate roll out cookies by LilaLoa and sugar cookies by Sugarbelle. 
The lambs were inspired by Marian at Sweetopia.
These bunnies on a stick were requested by a friend for a gathering she was going to where there would be some little ones who would enjoy these bunny face "mask" cookies. She told me afterward that they were a hit with everyone. I made some in LilaLoa's chocolate and the others in Sugarbelle's basic sugar cookie.
I also sent a dozen cookies to work with my hubby on Good Friday and he said they were a hit there too. 
Links to ingredients used to make all of these cookies....

Easter Cake

"John's Three Layer Apple Cake"
When planning what cake to bring for Easter dinner, my daughter suggested the apple cake, so my search ended right there since I know it is a favorite for everyone who would be attending. I also made a post about this family favorite here.
The filling inside is cinnamon buttercream and the outside is vanilla buttercream. The roses are the "star" of this cake, they are gum paste and fondant roses - I am now taking course 3 of the Wilton courses at Michaels. When I made these roses, we had not learned how to make them yet. I just followed instructions in the course 3 book and did my best - same for the leaves. 
What do you think? I think they are not too bad for a first try without guidance from our instructor.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Wilton Flowers and Cake Design

Last week I completed course 2 of the Wilton courses at Michaels - Flowers and Cake Design. Since one of the main reasons I started taking these courses was to learn how to do roses and flowers, I decided that my final project cake would have roses on it! My final cake for course 1 had roses too but they were different. We learned how to do the basket weave design on the side of the cake during the last class. We brought our cakes ready to decorate. My cake was a strawberry cake the same recipe that I used in the Neapolitan cake from a previous post. The strawberry cake recipe is from and can be found here.

2 cups white sugar
1 (3 ounce) package strawberry flavored
1 cup butter, softened
4 eggs (room temperature)
2 3/4 cups sifted cake flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup strawberry puree made from
frozen sweetened strawberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and dry strawberry gelatin until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Combine the flour and baking powder; stir into the batter alternately with the milk. Blend in vanilla and strawberry puree. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a small knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool in their pans over a wire rack for at least 10 minutes, before tapping out to cool completely.
I filled the cake with strawberry buttercream which was made with butter and a small amount of shortening, powdered sugar, vanilla, LorAnn strawberry flavoring and fresh pureed strawberries.
The frosting on the outside of the cake was Wilton class frosting - with a bit of real butter - class frosting is usually made with white shortening only but I really don't care for it and find if using Crisco, the frosting doesn't crust well so I used a small amount of real butter and flavored it with Wilton clear artificial vanilla.
Now I have completed 2 out of 4 Wilton Method Courses and tonight I begin #3 which is Gum Paste and Fondant. Gotta say, I'm a little intimidated but I'll give it my best try.
Another look at my final cake....

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes - Red and White Vanilla Buttercream

These cupcakes were made for a Christmas Eve get together.
Dark Chocolate Cake recipe made into cupcakes.
2 cups boiling water
2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ruddy Red cocoa powder from Bulk Barn)
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 1/4 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I use Nielson Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 350 ºF. This makes over 3 dozen cupcakes so prepare pans accordingly.

In a medium bowl, pour boiling water over cocoa, and whisk until smooth. Let mixture cool. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla. Add the flour mixture alternately with the cocoa mixture. Scoop batter into prepared pans.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes - check at 18 minutes. Allow to cool.

Birthday Boy Cookies

I made all sorts of cookies for my grandson's first birthday party. He was the only little one there the rest of the guests were adults (about 16 of them) who could really enjoy all of the food we had served. Of course, I wanted everything to be special so as usual, I over did - what can I say? that's just me!
I made cookies shaped like # 1s and decorated like Tigger, his favorite of the Winnie the Pooh characters. I didn't have any number cookie cutters so I used a paper template and a knife to cut out the 1s.
I did baseballs with his name and his age - baseballs because his grandpa wants Ben's favorite sport to be baseball. I also did flower cookies on sticks which I displayed in pails of packed brown sugar.
I know - flowers are not "girly" but there were going to be ladies there and I thought they'd look cute as part of the table decorations. My daughter helped me decorate the flowers. I also did cupcake cookies and other flower cookies as well.
The birthday boy was oblivious to all of my hard work but it seemed to be appreciated by some of the guests - ultimately, I was happy with it and was just thrilled to be able to spend the day with the people who love Ben and wanted to share in celebrating his 1st birthday.

Birthday Girl Cookies

These cookies were made for a little girl who was turning 7 - her party theme was cupcakes, so of course the cookies had to be cupcakes in girly colors. 
These cookies were made using the sugar cookie recipe from Sugarbelle's site. This dough is easy to work with and tastes great with different flavorings - for these cookies, I used pure almond extract to flavor the dough and I used Wilton clear artificial vanilla to flavor the royal icing. I haven't found anything else that is "oil free" to use for the royal icing. If anyone knows of any other oil-free flavorings, please let me know, I'd love to try something different. I make my dough using a mixer, someday, my mixer will go ca put on me because of the volume of cookie dough, cake batter, buttercream and mostly - royal icing that I make. My goal is to be able to buy a KitchenAid stand mixer - they are beautiful  and seem to be the stand mixer of choice with most bakers. Someday.... I can dream :)
Just had to make a special cookie for the birthday girl herself :)
I don't have cookie cutters for the cupcake or the tiara so I did templates on paper and used them to cut out the cookie dough using a knife - it takes longer than using a cutter and is a bit of a pain but you gotta do what you gotta do!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Fancy Caramel Apple Cookies

I have only made these once but everyone loved them and I think I should make them again. SOON!
This recipe is adapted from a recipe I found at Callye Alvarado's site: The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle - she is awesome, so talented and generous - she has so many tips, tutorials, recipes and great advice - she is my cookie hero. I don't know her but have been a fan for many months. I hope she doesn't mind me sharing her recipe here on my humble little blog with no comments so far. If you want to check out her blog - and I think everyone should, follow the link here
Okay - the recipe - when I say "adapted" in this case it means, I substituted some ingredients listed in the original recipe for things I could find here in my neck of the woods. Below, the recipe is as I made it with substitutions...if you follow the link above, you will find Callye's recipe.

3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla (I used Neilson Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla - it is my go-to vanilla of choice)
1/4 tsp. butterscotch flavoring - I used LorAnn Butterscotch Flavor which is kind of extra strength which is why it is    only a quarter teaspoon
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 medium Granny Smith apple, diced {about 1 cup} next time I will up the apple by about another half cup

1 c. pecan pieces
1 tbs. dark brown sugar

caramel sauce - I used stuff that can be heated and used to cover apples, got it at Bulk Barn
Hershey's dark chocolate chips and white chocolate chips (it's what I had on hand)

Method is the same as the method used by Callye at the link above. I am in no way trying to "steal" her recipe - just letting everyone know that I have tried it and it rocks! I am sure it would be even better if I could have made it exactly as she did!


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Three Layer Apple Cake

I made this cake twice - in November and for New Year's Day. The picture above is the New Year's cake and below is the birthday cake I made in November.
This apple cake was a huge success! The filling is cinnamon buttercream and the icing is vanilla buttercream. I used Neilson Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla. I use this vanilla whenever possible - when the icing doesn't have to be white-white as the vanilla changes the color to off-white.
The cake is adapted from a recipe found on Martha Stewart's website. It is called John's Three-Layer Apple Cake. I pretty much followed the recipe  but I did add extra grated apple and changed the frosting - did not use the suggested frosting because I read such mixed reviews in the comments section.
I have had requests from family to have this as their new birthday cake - my nephew who doesn't usually like fruit or cake, loved this cake - his birthday is not until September so he made sure to get extra slices at New Year's. 
If you try it, let me know how you liked it in the comments.

Wilton Decorating Basics

In February, I took the Decorating Basics course at Michaels - four weeks, 2 hours each Tuesday evening and this is the final cake. It was a dark chocolate 2 layer cake made with ruddy red cocoa powder. The recipe was found on All Recipes website, it makes three 9" cake layers but I only used two of them as the third one fell on the floor! Surprisingly, the mishap was only followed by a mild temper tantrum and a few bad words which I am not proud of but I gathered myself together and moved on. The little flowers at the bottom of the cake were made ahead using royal icing. The roses on the top were made with buttercream at our last class.
I had made the chocolate cake before - in October I made it for my husband's 50th birthday cake (posted here).

It is a delicious rich chocolate cake and goes well with vanilla buttercream. 
This chocolate also made an appearance in my sister's birthday cake in November - it was a Neapolitan cake.
This cake was great but it was a lot of work - I had to make 3 different 9" cakes - not sure I would ever make it again, even for my sister! 
If anyone wants more details, just leave me a comment.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Wilton's Giant Cupcake Pan

I found this pan for $20 at Home Sense - it is $50 at Michaels.
I decided to grab it and try it out before my grandson's birthday. I read a lot of comments on the Wilton forums before I gave it a try. The pan comes with a recipe for chocolate pound cake but from what I read, it seemed that it wasn't a good idea. Most of the comments said that modifying a cake mix was the best way to go. 
I used Betty Crocker cake mix but instead of oil, I used butter. Where the box called for water, I used milk and where it called for 3 eggs, I used 4. The pan is uneven - the bottom holding more than the top - which can cause the problem of one side being cooked and the other side not being cooked through. What I did was measure 2 & 1/2 cups of batter for the top side of the cupcake - on the empty side, I put water  and baked for 35 min or until done. *You must grease the pan well - I used Wilton Cake Release* After the top was done, I cooled it on a rack and cleaned the pan, coated the other side (bottom of giant cupcake) with cake release and added the rest of the batter...again, I put water in the empty side. Baked until cooked - toothpick test comes out clean. Cool on rack.
I had a bit of a "hump" on both cakes so I trimmed the humps off. I stuck the two sides together with icing and then decorated the cupcake as a whole. My first try was a Cherry Chip cake mix which I altered as mentioned above - but I also added some almond extract and chopped up maraschino cherries. The frosting was buttercream with juice from the cherries, almond flavoring, pink gel food coloring and some cherries pureed. 
I was moderately pleased with how the giant cupcake turned out but everyone was thrilled with how it tasted!
I continued to read more info about the best way to bake and decorate this big baby and came across a tip on how to decorate the bottom of the cupcake. Use the pan as a mold - melt candy melts or chocolate and pour into the bottom of the cake pan (the bottom of the cupcake) and coat the inside, chill and unmold. I tried this for my grandson's birthday cake and this is how it turned out....

French Vanilla Cupcakes

French Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream
I made these the day before St. Patrick's Day but I hid the "green" inside the cupcake - I turned some of the batter green with food coloring and layered the batter in the muffin cups. When the ladies at "games night" opened them up, there was the surprise for St. Patty's Day.
I used Nielson Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla - generously! The tasted and smelled delicious.