Monday, October 27, 2014

Baking Monday – Candy Corn Cupcakes

We went to two pumpkin carving parties this weekend, so fall treats were in order! I used the Rainbow Cake recipe to make some candy corn themed cupcakes.

I hadn't used this recipe for cupcakes before, so I wasn't sure how full to make the cups. These pictures are of batch #2 … the first cups were filled too full, and they exploded out of the top of the pan. (Happily, they ended up getting mixed with vanilla pudding and turned into candy corn trifle!)

Lesson learned: fill the cups only halfway! I used two mini scoops of batter for the orange bottoms then two more for the yellow. The recipe makes about twenty very yummy vanilla cupcakes.

Each was frosted with vanilla buttercream (one stick butter, four cups confectioner's sugar, one-half teaspoon of vanilla and gradually add milk to piping consistency) and decorated with a candy corn. Theo is very happy because he's been requesting that our decorative fall dish be filled with candy corn for two weeks now. I'm happy because cupcakes! 

Both parties were so much fun. We are very lucky to have found such a great group of friends in our town. Neither of the boys were super into carving pumpkins … because it was a beautiful day, they were much more interested in running around outside with friends. So, Dora and I did the carving work this year, and opted to go traditional – a cat and a ghost. Looking forward to one more week of fall fun leading up to Halloween! 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Baby Shower Cookies – Pink Hearts!

We celebrated a triple baby shower in our family last month, for two cousins and my sister. All three mamas are expecting girls, so my aunts who planned the event wanted everything pink, pink, pink!

These cookies were my contribution. I wish I had taken more pics of the decorations. The party was held on the outdoor deck at my aunt's home in Maryland and everything looked beautiful. My favorite part? All the guests were asked to wear pink, and it was such a great idea. It was like another layer of decoration that tied everything together - plus all the photos turned out fabulous!

My aunt served each of the guest of honor's favorite desserts - red velvet cupcakes, gluten-free peanut butter cakes and a chocolate cake/cheesecake/ganache treat that was amazing. Looking forward to welcoming three new arrivals to our family! 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Baking Monday – Buckeye Brownie Cookies

Hello! I'm back! We really enjoyed a relaxing summer vacation and it always amazes me how quickly life moves once everyone goes back to school. I have not even yet begun to tackle my long to-do list, because the days have been full of more immediate tasks. And all the responsibilities that I've volunteered for at school all take place in the fall! Come October 25th, I'll have a little more breathing room. Unfortunately, blogging is one of the activities that has gotten pushed to the side, and the longer I stay away, the harder it is to get back into it. 

But I absolutely have been baking! These treats were for the first night of the new pool season, which happily I was able to go to, thanks to a visit from Grandma (who also helped me make these yummy cookies!)

Mom made peanut butter balls using the mini scoop, and I flattened them into pats before placing on top of each warmed cookie. The tops got a drizzle of melted chocolate chips. These cookies received great reviews. They are very rich and were a big hit! More to come … happy to be back!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Baking Monday – Rainbow Sugar Cookies

Goodness, I love rainbows. It's about the only trend that I loved as a kid and still love today. One of my Pinterest boards is devoted to rainbow-themed items that still make me squeee! (Entering "80s rainbow"  into the search bar sends me into a spiral of feel-good nostalgia. The shirts! Belts! Shoelaces! Stickers! I had them all!)

Doing a colorful dessert again was not the original plan ... just looking for an easy cookie to bring to Jeff's softball game.

The dough was tinted because I only had clear sugar on hand … but these would be just as adorable kept plain and rolled in differed color sugars.

I originally saved this recipe because I'm always looking for opportunities to use Princess Emulsion. It's gives the cookies a unique, unexpected flavor … something different from the usual vanilla and almond (which are both delicious, don't get me wrong!)

A few alterations to the recipe: butter instead of Crisco, 1 tsp of vanilla instead of tablespoon (that seemed like a LOT!), and chill the dough before baking. The dough would also work well as slice and bake. Bake until set, don't wait until browned … they turned out perfect!

What a great, simple, yummy cookie! And they make my rainbow spot happy! 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Baking Monday – Rainbow Cake!

This is so exciting … I have been wanting to make a rainbow cake for awhile! But we aren't big cake eaters around here, so we waited for an occasion to share a cake with friends. We celebrated the end of Dora's summer theatre workshop with fellow actor friends, in color!

I also wanted to make it from scratch. This recipe is great!! I doubled it for this cake, which is enough for at least 20 slices. It would have been six layers … but I dropped the orange batter on the floor while mixing. I said a very loud word ("SH…UGAR!") before cleaning it up, which was a big PITA. Happily, not a drop fell on my white shirt. So the yellow layer was more orangey-yellow to make up for it. The directions call for salt but does not list it in the ingredients … I added 1/2 tsp salt to the dry ingredients (1 tsp total, since the recipe was doubled). Finding a recipe was a challenge, because I really wanted to find one that uses all-purpose flour and whole eggs. I also recommend disposable pans (unless you happen to have six identical cake pans laying around) coated with Cake Release. And Dollar Tree prices (.50 each) were much more reasonable than the grocery store ($7.00 for three!) The cake turned out very moist and yummy. This recipe would also be super scrummy with almond extract!!

Buttercream icing on top … two sticks of softened butter, one bag of powdered sugar, one teaspoon of vanilla, and milk until it was spreading consistency. That made EXACTLY enough! I don't like a super thick layer of frosting, so this was perfect. Look, all white and innocent looking … just a boring vanilla cake ...

But wait!!! Rainbows ahead!!! We were all SUPER excited to cut into this cake. The kids made a point of not telling our guests what was waiting inside!

Very yummy. Rainbows make everything better! 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Baking Monday – Crunchy Nutty Muffins!

Clark saw this recipe in a Highlights magazine months ago and wanted to try them. Of the three kids, he's the one who most often helps out in the kitchen and enjoys baking with me. It took us awhile to get to making them … yay for summer vacation!

Walnuts are not my favorite, but I did enjoy these very much. They are buttery and moist, and I like the crunchiness (as promised in the title!) Plus cinnamon sugar makes everything yummy. Clark measured, poured, and mixed the ingredients and also filled the muffin cups!

I didn't get a great picture of him with the muffins, because he was excited to eat! He and a friend shared the first two and both gave them a thumbs up. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Zentangle Cookies!

So … while the kids were having their marathon decorating session, I snuck in and decorated a few for myself. I wondered if my new obsession with zentangle could be applied to cookies? 

Why yes indeed! I used a hybrid royal/glaze icing for the outlining, so the lines stayed very neat, with no blobbing or spreading. And though they were lovely as outlines, I really wanted to know what they'd look like in color ...

YAY! Love them! But super time consuming! I would MAYBE consider doing these for an order for someone very special. I used thinned out glaze for the color and a #2 tip to fill in (plus toothpicks for spreading).

I have a plan for the next round … stay tuned!