Archive | September, 2011

Hello Kitty Pops

25 Sep

My favorite baking site, bakerella.com, featured some Hello Kitty cakepops quite a while back. They looked really cute, and I used to collect Hello Kitty stuff as a kid. So I figured I’d make them one day…but they really weren’t an urgent priority. But lately I’ve been thinking about them nearly every single day at work. A certain 2nd grade teacher really likes kitties, and all week I’ve been seeing her with a Hello Kitty necklace or lunchbox. Seeing that cute little cat’s face so often made me think back about the cakepops so I had to try some this weekend.

I started with the basic cakepop mixture but instead of scooping them into balls I rolled them into more of an oval shape.

I really like chocolate cake pops better, so it’s a shame I couldn’t use chocolate cake here. But I knew that chocolate would show through once I dipped these in the white chocolate coating. So, yellow cake it is. Then I attached these to sticks and attached Reese’s peanut butter morsels as a shape for the ears. The instructions from bakerella.com say to use white chocolate chips. I just didn’t want to buy an entire bag of white chocolate chips and end up using only a dozen of them. So I used Reese’s morsels, because I already had them on hand.

Once the attached “ears” had time to dry I dipped the entire thing in white chocolate almond bark.

Kitty’s distinctive features come in the forms of black gel icing for the eyes and whiskers, a mini m&m for the nose, and a bow made of 2 jumbo heart sprinkles and one more mini m&m. I hope you like these, Stacia! These are just for you. 🙂

Up Next: Maybe the pillow cookies I mentioned last week…or maybe not. Maybe something that involves a cupcake with Goldfish crackers on top. Sounds intriguing, right? 😉

Random Thought of the Day: Thank goodness for my nice hubby. I realized after I already had everything strewn out on the counter for my cakepop assembly line that I was actually out of white almond bark. (How did I not realize this?!?) He went to the grocery store and got some for me so that I could keep working on the pops and not have to stop half way through. 🙂

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Candy Cake

18 Sep

Since I posted last week that I would be making my mom’s special cake, she’s given me a name for it. 🙂 The candy cake. The only problem I ran into was not having a tart pan. She uses a tart pan for hers, and the little indentation is perfect for holding in the fillings. Plus the textured edges look really nice. But it’s possible to make it without one, as I found out. It just won’t look quite as pretty as my mom’s. 🙂

This cake seems to me like it’s half cake and half ice cream sundae. It starts with 2 yellow cake layers, just like you’d use for a birthday cake. But instead of topping it with buttercream frosting, you add chocolate syrup, cool whip, and whatever candy toppings you like! It’s completely customizable.

I hope I did everything in the right order. Mom, you’ll have to correct me in the comments if I messed up.  I really don’t have any exact measurements for this part. I just started with one of the yellow cake layers and added “enough” chocolate. You get to decide how much is “enough” for you. Sometimes when I’m adding ingredients, I err on the side of caution. After all, it’s easier to add more than to take it out. But in this cake, I err on the side of “can you really have too much chocolate syrup?”

Then I added some cool whip. I used about one 8 oz. tub for the entire cake. So plop on about half of it here. 😉

Then you get to pick your topping! I chose Reese’s Pieces. I love the peanut butter taste, and then after I started sprinkling them on top I realized that it kind of looks like autumn colors. That wasn’t really my intention when I bought this candy. But it was a nice added bonus. When I started adding the candy, I also thought about how this cake is sort of like making a pizza. You start with the cake, which serves as a base like the pizza crust does. Then add sauce (chocolate, instead of tomato please!). The cool whip is about the same color as mozzerella cheese….and then you mix and match toppings however you’d like. Choose a 1 or 2 topping cake, or go full out supreme and pile on anything from the candy aisle that catches your eye. Of course, you can also substitute chocolate syrup for caramel, butterscotch, strawberry, or any other kind of syrup that you like.

Once you have each layer added, do it all over again one more time! It’s very easy and also fun to eat. 🙂 Of course, this needs to stay in the fridge until you serve it since it has the cool whip. There you have it.  A half cake, half ice cream sundae. I’ll have to get my mom to send me a picture of one of hers so you can see how much better it looks with the tart pan.

In the mean time, I did make a mini one. I used just 6″ cake pans for this one. I thought it would be a good size to take over to my in laws. And what cake isn’t even more adorable in a smaller version?

Up Next: Not sure. Possibly “pillow cookies.” Ever heard of them?

Random Thought of the Day: Halloween is coming up soon. When all of the extra candy goes on sale, stock up so that you can make candy cakes. 😉

Mocha Swiss Meringue Buttercream

11 Sep

It’s as delicious as it sounds. 🙂 Now, last week I posted a very easy recipe. This week’s icing is a bit more involved. But it’s completely worth it. The main star of this show is the mocha flavored icing. And the swiss meringue buttercream has a perfect texture. It’s a smooth as silk. But of course, I needed something to put the icing on. I used my trusty chocolate cake recipe that my sister gave me. I happened to have a few extra mini chocolate chips laying around, so I sprinkled a few in each cupcake liner just before baking.

While these were baking and cooling, I made the icing. I’ve heard people say that this icing can be a bit tricky. However, I’ve made it four times and it was a huge success each time. I followed the recipe here, and also watched the video a couple of times before my first attempt. The video is only a minute and a half long, and if you plan on trying this icing I highly suggest watching it. Seeing how the icing looks at each difference stage of the process helped to reassure me that I was on the right track.

The first step is to heat sugar and egg whites over a double boiler. The key is to warm the eggs very slowly, so that you don’t end up with scrambled eggs. 🙂 It needs to reach about 160 degrees. The very first time I made this icing, I didn’t use a thermometer at all. I just felt the mixture with a finger to see if it felt warm. It still worked ok for me. Since then, I’ve purchased a candy thermometer and I’ve used it just to double check how hot the icing gets. But if you don’t have a thermometer to use, just go for it. Live life dangerously. 😉

After being heated to 160 degrees and being whipped in the mixer until cool again, the texture and color are quite different.

The only other two ingredients are unsalted butter (lots of it! 😀 ) and vanilla.

After making the recipe from the link above, I also added 4 ounces of melted semi sweet chocolate and 1 Tbsp of instant coffee granules dissolved in 2 Tbsp hot water. This gives a really good balance between the coffee and chocolate flavors. 🙂 Make sure to let the melted chocolate cool to room temperature before adding it to the icing.

 

 

 

With just a disposable piping bag and some chocolate bark, you can also pipe some nice chocolate garnishes for the top of the cupcake. Just pipe onto wax paper, pop it in the freezer until firm, and then place on top of the icing. 🙂

One of the best parts about these cupcakes (besides the silky smooth, chocolate and coffee flavors of course. Did I mention that part already?) was the cupcake carrier I used to take them to school with me! This lovely invention was one of my birthday gifts from my husband. It is so great I’m tempted to leave it out on my dining room table for display. 😉

At first glance it looks like your average cake carrier.

But there’s more than meets the eye. 🙂 The top expands and there are 2 cupcake trays. So this one container is made to travel with a full batch of 24 cupcakes! Also, the trays have little indentations in them to keep the cupcakes in place. No more cupcakes sliding around during the trip, with smeared icing once I reach my destination. Isn’t it great!? It’s ok if you’re not excited enough about it to do a happy dance. I did one for the both of us.

Random Thought of the Day: I really am at a loss for words when it come to the anniversary of 9/11. Because I’m not a wonderful speaker or writer, I will leave it at this:
I am blessed enough to have not lost a loved one on that tragic day. Today I pause to pray for those who did. Their sacrifice is something that you live with on a daily basis, and you do it bravely. I hope today you can be proud of their worthy cause and will be able to cling to a memory of them in a very happy time in your lives.

Up Next: A treat right from the kitchen of my own mother.  I’d almost forgotten about this special cake she makes sometimes, and I was reminded of it when I visited her last weekend. I don’t think it has a title, so I’ll just call it “The Phyllis Special.” You don’t want to miss  it. 🙂

As Easy as Pie!

2 Sep

Have you ever heard this saying? It’s as easy as pie? I always thought the saying was a little odd. Depending on the type of pie that is in question, I don’t think they are all that “easy.” Of course, I don’t make many pies….but to make a really good one from scratch seems like it would require some effort. Making the dough, cutting out strips of it for the lattice design on top, peeling and chopping apples for apple pie, etc. I actually looked into this saying. As it turns out, the saying isn’t about making pie. It originated as meaning something is as easy as eating pie. Now that I can understand. Am I the only one who didn’t know that?

Anyways, this week I’m featuring a pie that really is easy all around. The making and the eating. It’s one of those no bake pies that true pastry gurus would surely frown upon. But I’m not a true pastry guru. And the only part about this pie that made me frown was when the last piece was gone.

I found the recipe here.

It starts with crushing oreos and then adding melted butter to form a pie crust. This is the only part of the pie you actually have to bake, and it only bakes for 5 minutes. Just enough to set the crust. So I don’t really think that counts as baking anyways. 🙂

The filling is started with a cup of peanut butter and a package of softened cream cheese.

 

 

Add to that some powdered sugar, and then a small tub of cool whip.

Pour the filling into the crust and let it set up in the fridge. There you have it. As easy as pie. 🙂 It’s not the prettiest piece of pie I’ve ever seen, but it sure was tasty.

Up Next: A new cupcake favorite of mine 🙂

Random Thought of the Day: Enjoy your THREE day weekend. I know I will. 😀