Friday, December 18, 2009

Snowflake Sugar Cookies

My first try at decorated sugar cookies... I took the picture with my iphone, so please excuse the poor picture quality. I just wanted to share this picture, because I was pretty proud of how they turned out :)

Happy holidays again!


MSCC | Gingerbread Cupcakes

Oh, I am sooo late posting this. It has been a long month at work so far and I have been feeling drained. By the time I get home, all I want to do is grab a glass of wine and sit in front of the tv... and that is exactly what I have been doing these past few weeks.

Anywho, I did manage to bake these cupcakes! I baked these last Sunday (I could have posted this on time... grrr) and took them to work on Monday. I followed the recipe for the cupcakes but decided to use my cream cheese frosting. I sprinkled some nutmeg over the frosting to add a little more flavor and some color. I had a sugar cookie order, so instead of making gingerbread cookies, I made gingerbread shaped sugar cookies. I also sprinkled these with nutmeg and some granulated sugar.

The recipe called for molasses, so I was already nervous about trying this. Molasses has a very earthy flavor that I just don't like in my sweets... Overall, I thought the cupcakes were extremely dry. My cupcakes developed a crust on the top, did anyone else experience this? In the end, this recipe left me very disappointed. I probably won't make this again, but I like the gingerbread cookie cutout idea!

And, at least the pictures came out cute, thanks again to my boss!
If I had to make a cupcake or cake for the holidays, I would probably have to go with the sweet potato cupcakes we did last month. I just can't get enough of those!

Happy holidays everyone! Wishing you a safe and joyful season!


Amanda's Baby Shower Cupcakes

Recently I had the opportunity to do baby shower cupcakes for one of my coworkers and I couldn't be happier with how everything came out! Amanda requested "no pink" but she did mention that she liked sage green. I love that color too! I really like how this color palette ended up.

I wanted to use fondant decorations because I haven't done much of that lately. I had two different designs... onesies and a flower. I played with embossed fondant and non-embossed fondant. I also used a cupcake wrapper template that Judy in Her Natural Habitat came up with. Thank you Judy for the wrapper design! The most hilarious part of creating custom wrappers is that I work for Ellison, who is the parent company of Sizzix. Sizzix is a crafters dream, anywho, they make cupcake wrapper dies... if only I had planned ahead I could have used the die machines to cut out the wrappers instead of spending a good half hour cutting out wrappers. At least it was bonding time with Tyler :)

So here are the creations! First up, the fondant decorated ones...

I also wanted to do frosted decorated cupcakes for the frosting lovers in my company, which is almost everyone.

All the frosting ones disappeared first!

Thank you to my boss for taking pictures! Crossing my fingers that I get a camera from Santa this Christmas and then I'll need to learn how to use it...

Hope you enjoyed the cupcakes!


Saturday, December 5, 2009

All my favorites!!!

I love chocolate cake, it may be my favorite! So, when I had an order for a chocolate cake over Thanksgiving break, I decided to make a few extras for myself and my coworkers.

After trying multiple chocolate cake recipes, I have finally found the one! Colette Peters you are my hero, thank you for this recipe! I changed it just a bit to make it my own and I definitely can't share that little secret, but you should definitely go out there and buy her book! We have also been wanting to find a good coffee frosting recipe. When I interned at Sweet & Saucy, Melody did a lot of variations of cream cheese frostings and they were GOOD! But I love swiss meringue buttercream, so I sought Martha's advice. I didn't use her recipe (I have my own already), but I did follow her steps when it came to adding the instant espresso powder. I did double, okay maybe I tripled the amount of espresso powder though... it needed more coffee flavoring! Let me just say that this is my favorite frosting of all time!!! So good! And for good measure, I also sprinkled on salted caramel (I think it would have been better without it). Enjoy the pictures and be on the look out for new postings this week!

Monday, November 9, 2009

MSCC | Sweet Potato Cupcakes

I didn't think I was going to like these cupcakes at all... I didn't even want to try them. But I am glad I did, these cupcakes are amazing! You can barely taste the sweet potato, if anything I think it adds moisture and texture to the cupcake. These cupcakes are what fall is all about - fall spice, roasted marshmallows and candied pecans... um, yum!!! They are not too sweet and are therefore extremely dangerous because you could find yourself eating too many of these delicious morsels.

I followed the cupcake recipe exactly how it is written in Martha Stewart's book. When it came time to roast the marshmallows, the book recommends placing a few marshmallows on to a metal tray and then roasting them with a creme brulee torch. We tried this and it wasn't melting the marshmallows fast enough, instead we got blackened marshmallows. Next, I decided to place little mounds of marshmallows under the broiler. Although this worked... it was a little messy transferring the marshmallows onto the cupcakes. So, I tried another technique. I placed the marshmallows and candied pecans bits onto the cupcake and then placed the cupcakes under the broiler - much easier! And it didn't leave a mess, score!

I didn't use the candied pecan recipe from Martha Stewart. Back in October, I made pecan bars for my engagement party... my mom really wanted to try some, but living in Hawaii she wasn't able to attend our engagement party. We are going to visit my mom this week, so I decided to make her some pecan bars. I used the pecan part of my bars as the candied pecans on the cupcakes. I use orange and lemon zest in the bars, so it definitely gives a little extra flavor.

Now that I am working, I have two companies to share by goodies with... so I made a batch for Tyler to take to school with him and I made a batch of mini cupcakes for me to take to work. Look at how cute these are! They are the perfect bite!
And I wanted to show off our new platter... wood grain to add to the rustic feel of these cupcakes. Thanks to Shira for the platter, we love it!

Unitl next time, happy baking!


Friday, November 6, 2009

The difference a camera makes

I did an engagement cake this past weekend for a good friend of the family's and I had left over red velvet cake batter. So, I decided to make mini red velvet cupcakes for my coworkers. At work, we have a photo box to take pictures of our product and my boss graciously took pictures of my cupcakes. This picture is 5 million times better than what my little camera takes, so I just wanted to share it. I like how the cupcakes are reflected onto the plate! Tyler and I are looking at used professional cameras online, crossing my fingers that we can find one soon! Until next time, happy baking!


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Kitchen Remodel!

First a teaser! I forgot to take "before" photos and the only one I could find was from last years Halloween dinner... so here we are, Tyler, Talya and I celebrating Halloween 1950's style! Please note the gray cabinets... our kitchen cabinets were old and falling apart, Tyler put his knee through the under sink cabinet when he was doing some work... so it was time for a remodel!

And for a good laugh... here is this year's Halloween picture! I didn't have my pajama costume on yet, but Talya was a fierce woman from the '70s!

Okay, let's begin the story! Any work done on your house takes a lot of you, it's a lengthy process and for us it was difficult because we didn't have access to our favorite room in the house.

Tyler and I always joke around that o
ne day when we get the chance to build our own house, we are going to make the kitchen the largest room in the house. And, the best part is that we aren't really joking. We love being in the kitchen! Tyler and I love to cook and bake together. We share a passion for all things food, wine and beer related. Having this new kitchen has been great, Tyler and I are like little kids in a candy store... so here are the pictures, enjoy!

Our cabinets have arrived...

... which means, demolition can begin! And Tyler wanted to take care of that part himself!

Almost all of the cabinets have been removed at this point.

The fridge was moved to the dining room, so we could still have access to it. We also set up our coffee maker and old microwave on our dining room table... living off of microwaveable food for 5 weeks is really hard especially when you're a foodie like we are.

At this point, we could start construction on our kitchen. We had a huge water heater in our kitchen (it was in the far back corner, you can see the hooks that held it in). We decided to remove the water heater and install a tankless water heater in the attic instead to give us more room.

After the plumbers completed their initial tasks, our electricians came in and rewired the kitchen. They gave us more outlets!!! We only had 3 before and now we have 5! We also had recessed and under cabinet lighting installed.

Once that was complete, it was time to install the cabinets. In the picture below you can see the team at Le Gourmet Kitchen at work. They did a wonderful job and they were such great people to work with!

All the cabinets have been installed! Now, it's time to get the counters measured for our silestone counters. We had to have the counters measured because Bruce, our designer, put in rounded corners in the entry way to make it feel larger (it's amazing what a difference that made).

Okay, are you ready... here it is, our brand new kitchen! First, I have a shot of the stove. We left the stove in the same location, but we installed an overhead microwave (giving us more counter space... our redesign was all about giving us more room!).

Next, we have a view of our fridge and new pull-out pantry! This is my favorite feature... whoever invented the pull-out pantry is a genius! Our pantry is located where our water heater used to be and we moved the fridge over a bit.

Next is the view to the left our fridge. We have pull out drawers for our pots and pans... love! And we have a lazy-Susan cabinet in the corner where we store our mixing bowls, rice pot and all those other random items you have in your kitchen. We also installed extra upper-cabinets!

And the last view is of the sink area. We have a large and deep stainless steel sink that is amazing!

We are so thankful that we were able to do this remodel! Thank you to Tyler's parents and Tyler!!! And we also want to thank Bruce and his team for the work they did and for letting us use their showroom for our engagement photos! And now, it's lunch time and I need to go down to the kitchen to prepare lunch. Thank you for stopping by and until next time, happy baking!


Quick Halloween Cupcakes

This past week was a long week for me... I finally went back to work after being unemployed for 9 months. It's good to be back in the workplace, but I missed baking. So, I decided to bake some cupcakes for my coworkers for two reasons, 1. I wanted to bake and 2. I was hoping I could bribe them to keep me (it's a temp to hire position) :P

I baked three different types of cupcakes, vanilla buttermilk, chocolate, and chocolate with a Reese's peanut butter cup baked inside of it. The last one was so rich, it needed to be eaten with a cup of coffee or a large glass of milk.

Adding chocolate treats is pretty easy, I just placed the peanut butter cup in the cupcake liner and then poured the chocolate cupcake batter over it.

The batter didn't bake up as well as it does on it's own, but you can still eat it (and that is all that matters). Yum yum!

Needless to say, I think the cupcakes were a success! The peanut butter ones were the first to go!

Next up... the revealing of our kitchen (I know, I should have posted this weeks ago...)


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hello Kitty and Shopping!

A couple days ago my friend, Celine asked if I could make some birthday cupcakes for her sister. She had two themes in mind, Hello Kitty and Shopping. Hello Kitty was pretty easy, I did a cake last year for my friend's birthday. But I was a little stumped on the shopping... finally I decided to do items that reminded me of shopping... shopping bags, a purse, heels, and a big ring (Celine's idea). Scan down to the bottom of the blog for a "how to" on fondant decorations. Here are the cupcakes in a cute pink cupcake box!

Here is a view without the box... I am sorry for the really bad photos. My iphone does a better job at taking photos...

And a close up of the shopping cupcakes

Close up of the Hello Kitty inspired cupcakes... the pink bow is my favorite!

The "How To" in fondant decorating... at least how I do it

I first like to sketch out my ideas. Next, I decide on the size of the fondant decorations. I use my round cookie cutters to help me decide on sizes. Then, I sketch the item within the boarders created by the cookie cutter. Next, I take parchment paper and trace the item again with a permanent maker. I will use these as my templates.

Next, I roll out some fondant to about a thickness of 1/8" and then I place my template on top of the fondant. I then use an exacto knife (you could use a sewing needle as well) to poke little holes along the lines of the sketch.

When you lift the parchment paper you will see little dots and you can then cut along these dots with your exacto knife. You can create a lot of different things with this technique. It may take a good amount of time, but this trick does come in handy when you don't have an edible ink printer. I have used it with lettering, logos and even the Optimus Prime cake I did in August.

Good luck with your own decorations!

Thank you for stopping by! Until next time!


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Engagement Party Treats

Tyler and I celebrated our engagement with a few of our friends down here in Southern California and I of course had to create a mini dessert spread :)

Thank you to Byron for taking photos of my desserts!!!

First up... Mini Chocolate cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting and Salted Caramel
(all my favorite things in one little bite)

Next... a local Hawaiian treat, Mini Haupia Pie (normally, graham cracker crust, haupia and chocolate pudding... but in my version I replaced the chocolate pudding with chocolate ganache)

Pecan Bars... I love pecan pie and I love these Pecan Bars!!! I piped a monkey tail fern design on the bars with chocolate ganache.

Mini Vanilla Buttermilk cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Mini Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

And Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes with a Vanilla Glaze

I am so sorry for the bad picture quality, my camera just doesn't take good photos of food. If anyone out there has any recommendations of a good camera, please let me know. And if you have any advice to give on taking pictures of food, I'd like to hear them! Thank you!

Until next time, happy baking!


P.S. I wanted to add a few extra pictures...
meet two of my closest friends, Bryon and Aaron... they decided to take my mini cupcakes aka cuppies and dip them in the chocolate fountain :)

adding to the chocolate cupcake, peanut butter frosting and salted caramel...

You gotta love it!

Monday, October 12, 2009

MSCC | Pumpkin Patch Cupcakes

This month, the Martha Stewart Cupcake Club decided to bake the Pumpkin Patch cupcake recipe. My favorite thing about this recipe... it calls for Autumn spices!!! I of course sampled the batter before adding the pumpkin and I loved the flavor! The cupcakes were extremely moist and fluffy. The recipe makes 32... so I had Tyler take the majority of the cupcakes to school with him. Let's just say that the teachers at his school may be a little spoiled this year :)

I was torn on the decoration of these cupcakes... my girlfriend and I wanted to have a dark vintage themed Halloween dinner party, so I didn't want to decorate these cupcakes with anything Halloween related. Finally I decided to frost my cupcakes with my usual swirl of my cream cheese frosting and then I added royal icing decorations. I've seen this royal icing technique used multiple times on cooking shows, so I thought I would try it out myself. First, I had to decide what I wanted to trace. I could have gone online and found a pumpkin or two, but it was midnight when I did these so I went with what I had. I took my mini pumpkin cookie cutter and traced it with a ultra fine point sharpie on a piece of regular white printer paper.

Then I mixed up some royal icing and added orange food coloring gel. I put the royal icing in a small piping bag with a #2 tip. Next, I placed a piece of parchment paper over the piece of white printer paper. Then with the piping bag, I traced the lines of the pumpkin and added some definition lines in the middle.

I let the royal icing dry overnight because I don't decorate the cupcakes until the next morning right before Tyler left for work. I like when the frosting is freshly whipped and piped on the cupcake! Once the royal icing was dry, the pumpkins slid easily off of the parchment paper and I stuck a pumpkin in each cupcake.

You can try this technique with pretty much any pattern... you'll be seeing it again in a posting coming up. Until next time, happy baking!