Thursday, April 28, 2011

A few more cakes...

I am upset I haven't had more time to blog but I guess that's life.  I have had a cake every week for the past few weeks and I've been BUSY!  Anyways, here are the last two cakes that I have done.

This is Pierson's 1st Birthday cake.  Pierson is my cousin's son... so he's my 2nd cousin???  I'm never good at that stuff.    The theme of his party was Mickey Mouse playhouse. 

For those cake lovers out there: the bottom tier was 10" vanilla butter cake with strawberry buttercream filling (insanely delicious), the middle tier was 8" chocolate cake with chocolate fudge filling and the top tier (the playhouse) was vanilla pound cake made by using half of the Wilton ball pan.  The entire cake was covered with homemade marshmallow fondant and all decorations were fondant.  However, I did not make the figurines as my aunt thought I had... nope not that talented sorry. :)

And because I got the gene of going overboard on parties from my mother... I made cupcakes too.  Vanilla/Almond cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  The little toppers are Oreo cookies (tutorial to follow one day).

Then, I found these adorable cookies that I just had to make.  They are suppose to look like Mickey's shorts.  I found the template here.  I used regular sugar cookies (I will post the recipe soon) and covered the cookies with modeling chocolate.  This was super yummy and a LOT faster than the royal icing method.  I do still love the royal icing look but in a pinch... modeling chocolate is the way to go.  Just roll it out like dough...use the same cutter or template for the cookie and viola!  a covered cookie in chocolate no less.

And finally the dessert table....

Let me start off by saying I am completely aware these pictures are not the best.  I should have moved the cake however this cake was so heavy and we were on a time crunch.  So I apologize for the bad pictures... 

This cake was for a friend's son, Justin.  I did not make the wrestling ring nor the figurines... just the two tiered cake.  I was given a picture to replicate.

This cake was a monster... the bottom tier was 18" vanilla cake with strawberry buttercream filling and the top tier was 15" chocolate cake with strawberry buttercream filling.  This was by far the largest stacked cake I have done and boy was it heavy!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Peanut Butter Pretzel Tart with Caramel Drizzle

I stumbled upon this recipe in a magazine while waiting in my doctors office one day.  The combination of creamy peanut butter, salty pretzels, and sweet caramel sent me into a frenzy to find a scrap of paper and something to write with.  In the end this poor little recipe was scribbled onto the back of a grocery store recipe and left in the bottom of my purse with all the other items that are missing from the universe... lip gloss, a mutilated granola bar, maybe a toy or two, a few lonely gold fish crackers that spilled out of the bag... heck maybe I should look there for the socks that go missing in the washing machine! 

Anyways, during one of my annual purse cleanings (just kidding it happens more than that... like twice a year) I found this recipe.  That day I tried to read what looked like my two year old's handwriting and whipped this bad boy up. 

Like I said I figured it just had to be good but I truly had no idea what I was in for.  This is one of those desserts that I like to call.... Get that out of the fridge before I eat every last piece of it!!!!  It literally calls to you from the fridge...okay maybe it doesn't call to you... It whispers though.

I highly recommend giving it a whirl... it would be a fabulous addition to your Easter dessert table. 

Start by melting 6 tbsp. of butter and then set aside for it to cool.

Add the pretzels to the food processor and well... process.

If you don't have a food processor, I'm sure you could crush them in a plastic bag with a rolling pin or something.  Add 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/8 tsp. salt.  Transfer to a bowl and add 6 tbsp. of melted butter.  After the butter is mixed in...

Then press the mixture into your 9" tart or spring form pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 18 minutes; allow to cool.  Meanwhile...

In a bowl, combine 4oz. softened cream cheese, 3 tbsp. softened butter, and 1/2 cup peanut butter.

Beat mixture until fluffy, about 1 minute.

Next, beat in the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar, the container of thawed whipped topping, and vanilla. Dump that all into your cooled pan, cover with plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge.

Now let's talk Caramel Drizzle....

In a saucepan, combine 1/2 cup sugar and 3 tbsp. water.

Bring to a boil without stirring...

until mixture becomes golden brown.

Starting to get a little color...

Getting closer...

Almost there...


Let cool 2 minutes.  Whisk in 2 tbsp. chilled butter, 1/4 cup heavy cream and 1/4 tsp. salt.
At this point you can cool the Caramel Drizzle completely and pop it in the fridge (just rewarm before you serve) or if your tart is ready then get after it!

Peanut Butter Pretzel Tart with Caramel Drizzle

2 cups broken salted pretzels
1/2 cup brown sugar, divided
3/8 tsp. salt, divided
1 stick + 3 tbsp. butter, divided (broken down into 6 tbsp. melted & cooled, 3 tbsp. softened, & 2 tbsp. chilled)
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 small container whipped topping
1/4 cup heavy cream or milk
1 tsp. vanilla
3 tbsp. water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
In a food processor, finely grind the pretzels, 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/8 tsp. salt.  Transfer to a bowl and stir in the 6 tbsp. melted butter.  Press the mixture into a 9" tart pan or spring form pan.   Bake until lightly browned, about 18 minutes; let cool.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, peanut butter, and 3 tbsp. of softened butter until fluffy, about 1 minute.  Beat in the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar.  Fold in the container of whipped topping and vanilla.

Spread mixture over the cooled pretzel crust.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 3 hours (overnight is fine too).  Before serving: In a saucepan, combine the sugar and 3 tbsp. of water and bring to a boil.  Boil without stirring until mixture reaches a golden brown color, 3-5 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool 2 minutes and whisk in the 2 tbsp. chilled butter, 1/4 cup heavy cream/milk, and 1/4 tsp. salt.  Drizzle over tart and serve!

*Note: The caramel drizzle can be made ahead of time, cooled and stored in the fridge.  Then just reheat when you are ready to serve his amazing dessert.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Tanee's Crawfish Boil Birthday!

This is Tanee.  She is my soon to be sister in law!  (I'm so happy about that by the way!)  She is so amazingly sweet and I love her to death.

My brother in law, Cory had a Crawfish Boil for her birthday and I made her cake... her it is!

The cake was strawberry with strawberry buttercream, chocolate with chocolate fudge filling, italian cream cake with cream cheese filling, and blueberry lemon with lemon buttercream filling!  Whew! 

A lot of flavors I know, but I like to have a variety when I do a large cake for a small group.. more cake gets eaten that way.

Aren't they the cutest crawfish ever!?!  My favorite is their wiskers!

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Easiest Fruit Dip Ever!

This recipe has been in my family since I was a little girl.  I don't remember who gave it to my mother but I do remember when we had our very first taste of this incredible dip.  My first bite of dip was slathered on a fruit and nut filled bagel.  Now I serve this dip with fresh fruit, mainly strawberries but grapes work great too. 

This recipe is great to entertain with... just mix it up a day in advance throw it in the fridge and then let it sit out a few hours before serving to soften.  Everyone goes crazy over this stuff!!

Here is the simplest recipe I ever!

Fruit Dip

1 pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 jar marshmallow creme (or marshmallow fluff, whatever you call it)

Throw both in a bowl and mix with a hand mixer, you could use a stand mixer too.  And that is it!  Viola!  The easiest fruit dip ever! 

I highly suggest making at least two batches.. people go nuts over this stuff.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Strawberry Muffins (Eggless)

Sweets for a Saturday #8- Strawberry Muffins (Eggless)
Click on the button above to check out a lot of other goodies!

I had a package of thawed strawberries in the fridge from a recent strawberry cake I had made and decided to put them to good use.  I already had strawberry cupcakes in the freezer and wanted something with a little more healthy snack vibe for the little tornado aka my two year old son.  Soooo... I whipped up his little recipe by looking at a few recipes online and inventing my own.  This recipe has no eggs so it's great for those with allergies (like my little guy) or if you just happen to be out of eggs.  These muffins are perfect for breakfast or snack (or dessert as my husband ate them).  They are just sweet enough without being a cupcake and make you feel it's okay to eat more than one... hey there's whole wheat flour in them...that makes it okay right?

Start by whisking the all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the strawberry puree, buttermilk, oil, yogurt and vanilla.

Dump the dry ingredients into the wet (no need for splitting it up into batches...just dump it) and whisk to combine.

Divide batter into prepared muffin tins... I made both mini and standard size muffins.

And back at 375 degrees... minis 5-7 minutes. standard 14-17 minutes...keep and eye on these... they are suppose to be super moist so you don't want to over bake them.  When a toothpick comes out clean they are done!

Strawberry Muffins

1 cup strawberry puree
1/3 cup plus 3 tbsp. sugar
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup low fat buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup low fat vanilla yogurt (you can add 1 egg if you prefer)
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; whisk to combine.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the strawberry puree, buttermilk, oil, yogurt and vanilla.
Mix the dry ingredients into the wet and divide into prepared muffin tins.  Bake at 375 degrees until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the muffin comes out clean.
Mini: 5-7 minutes  Standard: 14-17 minutes

Allow to cool a few minutes in muffin tins and turn out to cool completely on a wire rack.

Yield: Approximately 12 to 14 standard muffins

Coming Soon!  Party planning tips, recipes, tricks and treats!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tracy's Baby Carriage Theme Shower

This was the family baby shower for my sister in law Tracy.  The theme was baby carriage and of course PINK!  I love it!  Here is the cake I made...

The tier sizes are 10" and 8" rounds.  The topper was made by using the Wilton ball pan.

The bottom tier was two layers of almond-vanilla cake with cream cheese filling and two layers of chocolate cake with chocolate fudge filling.
The middle tier was two layers of blueberry lemon cake with lemon buttercream filling and two layers of strawberry cake with strawberry buttercream.

The top tier was made from rice krispie treats molded into the Wilton ball pan with one of the halves cut in half.  I then covered it in modeling chocolate to get a smooth finish and then covered that in marshmellow fondant.  The pink details are made from 50/50 pink marshmellow fondant and gumpaste.  The roses were made of the 50/50 mixture as well. 

The rest of the shower details.....

The food table

Fresh strawberries and fruit dip (I will be posting this recipe soon)

Banana Nut Muffins

Punch cups rimmed in pink sugar

Straw flags I made

Coming soon!  I will be sharing entertaining tips, tricks, secrets and recipes!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Modeling Chocolate

I have been trying to expand my knowledge of cake decorating lately and wanted to share one of the recipes that I use all the time.

I use this modeling chocolate to sculpt items for cakes.  Why modeling chocolate over fondant or gumpaste.  I actually use all three all the time but each has it's own benefits.

Fondant: rolls out smooth, it tastes great ( I use a homemade Marshmallow Fondant recipe), I use this for covering cakes and I mix fondant 50/50 with Gumpaste for decorations.

Gumpaste: I rarely use it alone as it dries extremely fast and will crack,  I use Gumpaste 50/50 with Fondant for flowers, bows, and other decorations.

Modeling Chocolate: I love that with modeling chocolate you can smooth out your seams (this is much more difficult with fondant)  and you can also sculpt with it more like clay rather than using fondant.

Here is the recipe I use:

Modeling Chocolate

10 oz. Chocolate melting disks (the ones that come in different colors I buy mine at Hobby Lobby)
1/3 cup corn syrup

Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. 

Use 30 second intervals and stir after each until chocolate is smooth.  When chocolate has a few small pieces left that are not melted, simply stir to melt those rather than returning to the microwave.  Once chocolate is melted and smooth add the corn syrup and mix well. 

Then pour chocolate/corn syrup mixture out onto wax paper. 

 Place another sheet of wax paper on top of the chocolate and press to smooth out in an even layer (1/4"-1/2").  Let modeling chocolate cool overnight and it's ready to use.  To store I just put the modeling chocolate in a Ziploc bag and store at room temperature.  I usually will use it within a week or so.

A tip: You can even cover a cake with this instead of fondant.  I have not tried this yet but I'm thinking about it. 

Coming Soon: Another Baby shower Cake this coming weekend!!  I will also be sharing all the crafts I made for the baby shower as well!!