Monday, September 30, 2013

Carefree Caramel Cake

Carefree Caramel Cake

Cake. Caramel. Get Carried away!

Ingredients

Gather your ingredients. Butter, flour, sugar, milk, eggs, baking powder, salt and vanilla.

Vanilla Cake

Then start the cake making and get to mixing.

Broke Cake

Then get really bummed when you take your cake out of the pans too soon before they’ve cooled… and just before your going to take it to a friend’s house for dinner … in just over an hour. Have you been there, too? Ugh. So disappointing.

So that’s when the caramel layer cake I’d been dying to make became carefree.

And that’s perfectly okay, because this was one of the best tasting yellow cakes. It was so so good. Oh my gosh I could hardly stop eating pieces of it.

Crumbled Cake

But thankfully I stopped in time to save enough cake and turn them into personal desserts that I could easily carry.

Little jars. Big save. Score.

Now to make the caramel icing so I can layer it on.

Caramel Icing

Brown sugar, butter, evaporated milk and vanilla makes one thick glorious icing. You have to spread it quickly while it’s still warm because it will harden when it cools … that is if you’re icing a cake.

Caramel Cake

But in jars, and in a hurry… spooning it in worked just fine. My friends certainly didn’t mind.

Spoon. Crumble. Carry. On.

Caramel Cake

This caramel cake recipe came from a cute little book I have called Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott.

GiGi's Caramel Cake … in Jars

Servings: one 9-inch two layer cake or four 16 oz. jars

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • - - - - - - - -
  • 1 lb box light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 7 tablespoons evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees fahrenheit. Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans.
  2. Combine butter and milk in a small saucepan and heat on low until the butter melts. Stir and let cool to room temperature.
  3. Meanwhile, combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl using a wire whisk.
  4. In your mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar on high, scraping down the bowl often. Beat until light yellow, smooth and thick.
  5. Stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Mix just until the flour disappears. Add the cooled milk and butter mixture and then the vanilla. Stir well and pour into prepared pans.
  6. Bake at 325 for 25 - 30 minutes until cakes are pale golden brown and begin to pull away from the sides of the pans. Cool for 10 minutes on wire racks and then turn cakes out onto wire racks to cool completely.
  7. To make the icing… In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, evaporated milk, and vanilla. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Stir well and adjust heat so that the frosting boils and bubbles gently. Cook for 7 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes. Beat warm icing with a wooden spoon for 2-3 minutes until it thickens. Ice cake quickly or simply spoon into jars for easy carrying. Enjoy!
Source: Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott, 2007

Caramel Cake In Jars

Monday, September 23, 2013

Decorating Doughnuts

Dark Chocolate Doughnut Sugar Cookies

It’s Doughnut Time!

Dark Chocolate doughnut cookies

Or rather Double Decker, Dark Chocolate, Mini Doughnut Sugar Cookie time.

That’s a mouthful for these mini treats.

They are just too cute and too easy to make.

Dough making

Cocoa. Flour. Mix.
Cold Butter. Sugar. Cream together.
Add the egg and beat. Then add the flour mixture and combine it all together.

I made these yummy dark chocolate doughnut cookies using my sweet sweet friend Bridget of Bake at 350‘s super easy sugar cookie and royal icing recipe that I’ve used before.

This time I just swapped 1/2 cup of flour for 1/2 cup of special dark cocoa from Hershey’s.

Try it. You’ll like it!

Chocolate Sugar Cookie Dough

After you make the dough, it’s ready to roll and cut.

Doughnut Cookies

These are mini doughnuts, but you can make them any size you like.

Doughnut cutter

I used a 1 1/2-inch round cutter and a Ateco 807 tip. The two together make a mini doughnut shape.

Chocolate Doughnut Sugar Cookies

Pair the cookies up and they make the perfect proportions for actual size mini doughnuts.

dougnut cookies

And when you decorate them all super cute… you won’t even think they’re cookies at first glance.

Piping

To pipe, I just used a small squeeze bottle filled with royal icing that was thick enough enough to hold its shape without having to pipe an outline border first.

Doughnut Sugar Cookie

Oh and by the way … I totally make a major mess whenever I decorate cookies.

Well, I really make a major mess whenever I make anything.

That’s okay though.

Mistakes mean they are mine to eat.

Decorating Doughnuts

Pipe the cookies with pink royal icing and then you can drizzle the tops with an alternating color for a sweet glaze effect. When dry, Pipe a few dabs of royal icing on the bottom of the decorated cookie and then attach another plain cookie, with flat sides facing each other.

Decorating Chocolate doughnuts

Repeat with chocolate colored royal icing and sprinkles.

Chocolate Doughnut Sugar Cookie

Doughnut Sugar Cookies. Done.

You can also just make a bunch of single doughnut cookies if you want more and don’t need a 3-d cookie look.

Mini Doughnut Sugar Cookies

Doughnuts on the go

Make them more fun by packaging them in a cute little box to give away and make someone’s day.

Enjoy!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Boo. Hiss.

Boo the Dog Cake Pops

That’s right.

Boo Hiss… in the sweetest way possible.

It’s Boo. The World’s Cutest Dog.

Grumpy Cat Cake Pops

And hiss… it’s one Grumpy Cat.

Yeah, so this is what happens when cake pops and cute internet celebrity pets collide.

Adorable edible animals.

Chronicle Books

Did you know Boo and Grumpy Cat have their own books? Boo has almost 7.5 million Facebook fans, stuffed animals and calendars and Grumpy Cat even has a movie deal. Crazy.

And the three of us have a little something in common. We share the same publisher, Chronicle Books. I already had Boo’s book and when I found out Chronicle was publishing Grumpy Cat’s book, too – I was unexplainably excited – like I could stop by their offices or something and be able to cuddle that kitty. I thought a while back, it would be fun to surprise my friends at Chronicle and make these two cuties into cake pops and I finally got around to it last weekend. Hope they love them. By the way guys, if you’re reading… I totally want to be there for a Boo and Grumpy Cat playdate.

Boo Cake Pops

Boo is a little pomeranian with the cutest puppy haircut and bouncing personality.

Grumpy Cat Cake Pops

Grumpy Cat (whose real name is Tardar Sauce) on the other hand is not so perky with a permanent grumpy expression. Let’s just say that if these two hung out together, Boo would totally be Grumpy Cat’s Nermal. And if you get that reference you’ll probably enjoy this and this, too.

Now… if you have no idea who these two are or what I am talking about, just google Boo the Dog and Grumpy Cat for a little pop culture and you’ll get it. Adorable overload.

But even if you don’t know anything about them … they still make the cutest little pet pops. Here’s how I decorated them…

Crumbled Cake

Start with crumbled cake and frosting mixed together and rolled into balls.

You guys know how to do this by now, but if not… here’s a link to the full how-to instructions for basic cake pops.

Make 'n Mold

Once the balls are rolled, chilled and ready to dip, you’ll need some candy coating.

I melted chocolate and vanilla and yellow until I achieved a shade I liked that could work as the base for both pops. These candy wafers are by Make ‘n Mold and you can find them at craft stores like Hobby Lobby and A.C. Moore. Start with white as the base and add a few brown wafers in and then some yellow as you melt them. Stop when the color feels right for you. I wish I had kept a ratio of these for you, but I didn’t keep track as I was melting.

Boo Cake Pops Steps

When the coating is fluid, dip the pops in the coating in one motion – no swirling – and tap off any excess.

When dry, Reserve some of the melted light brown candy coating for later use and then add some more chocolate and yellow to the coating to make a darker shade. Dip Boo’s head in about half way and at a slight angle and let dry.

When dry, use a toothpick dipped in the reserved light brown coating and draw on Boo’s snout. Place a miniature pink confetti sprinkle in the coating while it’s still wet and then let dry. Then dot on more light brown coating to overlap the sprinkle. It will look like Boo is smiling with a tiny pink tongue sticking out.

Then use a toothpick dipped in the darker shade and dot/draw on Boo’s ears. Form the shape first and when it dries draw over the shape with more coating to make the ears look curved forward.

Finally, dot on some dark brown coating for a tiny nose. Then draw eyes with a black edible pen and dot then with a speck of white coating to finish the look.

Boo the Dog Cake Pops

Hey Boo.

Grumpy Cat Cake Pops

Now for a frowning feline. It’s grumpy time.

Grumpy Cake Cake Pops Steps

First, use some of the chocolate wafers and cut triangles out of them for ears using a sharp (non-serrated) knife.

When you dip the pops, place ears in position while the coating is still wet.

When dry, use a toothpick and etch out the shape for Grumpy Cat’s face. I drew a cake poppable likeness of Grumpy cat on paper to use as a guide.

Attach eyes (Jumbo confetti sprinkles broken in half) in position with a little melted candy coating and then use a toothpick dipped in more dark coating to draw around eyes in the shape etched on the pop. This way the confetti sprinkle eyes will look recessed a bit with the chocolate overlapping.

Grumpy Cat Cake Pops

Then draw in between with a toothpick dipped in melted white coating. Overlap the brown a tiny bit and let dry.

Dot on pink coating for a little nose and use some of the light brown coating on the ears. Finally draw on eyes and a lovable frown with a black edible ink pen and then dot the eyes with white coating.

A little tip to get sharper edges is when everything is done, use a toothpick to define lines and make sharper edges. You can remove unwanted candy coating pretty easily if you’re careful. You can also use the side of a toothpick to gently rub on the surface if you need to smooth out an area or on the edge of the ears to help make straighter edges. Fingertips can work great too.

Grumpy Cat Cake Pops

Grumpy Cat may be frowning on the outside.

Grumpy Bite

But Grumpy Cat is pretty sweet on the inside.

Boo Bite

Boo is too of course. I couldn’t resist those cute little chocolate cheeks. Could you?

Here’s Boo’s Book, Grumpy Cat’s book and mine, too if you want to check them out.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Handy Peach Pies

Peach Hand Pies

It’s time for pie.

Peaches

And peaches.

Peach Hand Pie

Pretty little peachy hand pies.

Yeah, I’m not sure what’s happening today. Fruit and pie. Instead of chocolate and cake. I never do that. I must be dieting.

Or pieting.

pie crust

That means pie crusting is happening. This pie dough is made with added cream cheese in the dough. Yummo!

Peach Pie Filling Ingredients

And peachy pie filling… you’ll need diced peaches, sugar, brown sugar, corn starch, cinnamon, lemon juice, and salt.

Peach Pie Filling

Toss the filling ingredients together and spoon a small amount in the center of circles cut out from the pie crust dough. Fold the circles together and seal the edges.

You want to keep all those juices tucked inside as much as possible.

hand pies

Then crimp the edges with a fork.

I cut out cute little letters for my pies with these mini alphabet cutters. This would be super fun to do if you were making pies in different flavors. Helpful and handy at the same time.

Here’s how to make them:

Just Peachy Handheld Pies

Servings:

Ingredients

  • PIE CRUST
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • PEACH FILLING
  • 3 cups diced peaches
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • beaten egg
  • more flour for dusting

Instructions

  1. FOR THE CRUST: Cut butter and cream cheese into half inch cubes and freeze for 20 minutes.
  2. In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar and salt to combine.
  3. Add butter and cream cheese cubes from freezer and pulse until small clumps form.
  4. Add milk and pulse again a few times until dough forms. Press dough together to test. If needed add another teaspoon of milk until the dough holds together when pressed.
  5. Turn out dough onto a floured work surface. Gather the doughy pieces and knead together. Shape into two 1-inch thick round disks. Cover in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight.
  6. TO ASSEMBLE: When dough is chilled, dice peaches and stir filling ingredients together.
  7. Remove dough from fridge, unwrap and roll out dough on a floured work surface or parchment paper until it's about 1/8 inch thick. Cut out pie shapes from dough and remove scraps. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and fill the center of each circle with a spoonful or two of filling depending on size of your shapes. I used a 5-inch round cutter for these.
  8. Brush beaten egg on the edge of each cut pie circle. Fold up like a taco and press seams together starting at the bottom and working up until you have a crescent shape. Lay on one side on parchment lined baking sheet and crimp edges with a fork.
  9. Refrigerate prepared pies for half an hour before baking and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  10. Before placing in the oven, brush each pie top with beaten egg and sprinkle sugar. If you cut out letters, attach them with a bit of egg wash first.
  11. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove and transfer to a baking rack to cool for a few minutes. Serve warm or store for up to two days. P.S. I would totally eat these warm with some handy vanilla ice cream, too.
Source: Adapted from Handheld Pies, 2011

Handheld Pies

There you have it. Peach hand pies.

Peach Hand Pie

They’re kind of handy… and definitely yummy…

Just Peachy Handpies

 

… and Just Peachy.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

It’s been weird being in moving limbo the last few weeks. I definitely don’t like having all my pans packed up. And all my stuff boxed away. But I’m almost unpacked. At least the boxes labeled pantry are in the pantry. That’s pretty close. I have a long way to go on getting that all organized.

Since I’ve been blogging, I’ve been storing things anywhere I could find a spot and now I’ll finally have a place where I can see my supplies in a central location. And I’m way excited. It’s been kind of like Christmas unpacking things already and finding five years worth of stuff I didn’t even remember I had. Out of sight is definitely out of mind. But not any more.

Oven

The first thing I unpacked though were my baking pans. A good place to start. Especially since I have a new oven to work. One 18 years newer than my last one. Yikes and Yay! I was actually kind of nervous … like meeting someone new and hoping you’ll be good friends. But you have to hang out together for a while first to find out.

Ingredients

So, I decided to break the ice with a cupcake recipe I make all the time. I thought it would be a good way to see how it compares to my old oven in terms of baking times and such.

Baking

So far so good.

Chocolate Cupcakes

Really good!

Peanut Butter

And I made chocolate and peanut butter frostings to go with it.

Creamy

And whipped up some peanut butter cookies to go on top of it.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

But, that was really just an excuse for me to try out some basic cookies in the oven, too.

So I stuck them on top of the cupcakes.

Peanut Butter Chips

I rolled chilled cookie dough into small balls and then rolled balls with peanut butter chips in my hand, instead of stirring them into the dough to make sure each little cookie was well covered in chips.

Frostings

Oh… and the frosting. Peanut butter and chocolate. I’m easy.

Place a decorator bag fitted with a 1M tip into a large glass and spoon even amounts of chocolate and peanut butter frosting on each side.

Frosting

Fill the bag, twist off the end and squeeze evenly until the frostings fill the tip.

IMG_0346

Then pipe pretty swirls.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcake

And put a cookie in it.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

And then take it out and eat the cookie.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

And then eat the cupcake.

Cupcake Wrappers

And then keep eating. I mean share with friends.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Servings: 18 cupcakes

Ingredients

  • CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup hot water
  • PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 oz. peanut butter chips
  • FROSTINGS
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 2 Tablespoons milk

Instructions

  1. FOR CUPCAKES: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Fill cupcake tray with cupcake liners.
  3. In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients together with a wire whisk. Add eggs, oil, vanilla and milk and mix until combined. Add hot water and mix. It will be very liquid.
  4. Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full. Pour into liner with a large spouted measuring cup for ease.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes or until done. Cool and make the cookies.
  6. FOR COOKIES: Note: You can make these ahead of time.
  7. Beat butter and sugars for 3-4 minutes until creamy. Add the peanut butter, egg and vanilla and mix until combined.
  8. In another bowl, stir the dry ingredients with a wire whisk and then add to the peanut butter mixture and stir until combined.
  9. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
  10. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough into small balls about an inch or so in diameter. Chill again if necessary and then roll in peanut butter chips.
  11. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 10-14 minutes. Cool.
  12. FROSTINGS: For chocolate frosting, beat 1/2 cup butter until creamy. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and mix. Slowly add 2 cups confectioner's sugar and cocoa and mix until combined. Add 1 Tablespoon milk and mix until creamy and smooth. For peanut butter frosting, beat 1/2 cup butter and 2/3 cup peanut butter until creamy. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and mix. Slowly add 2 cups confectioners sugar and mix until combined. Add 1 Tablespoon milk and mix until creamy and smooth. Fill a decorator bag fitted with a 1M tip with chocolate frosting on one half and peanut butter frosting on the other. Squeeze bag to force frosting into the tip and swirl frosting on cupcakes. Top with a little peanut butter cookie.
Source: Bakerella.com

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Enjoy!

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