Thursday, December 30, 2010

Crazy Carrot Cupcakes...

Yup, that's what I'm calling them. The healthiest cupcake I will probably ever make. I needed something that would taste good with cream cheese frosting, as there was a ton of it left from making the red velvet cake.

There are fruit and veggies in it, so it is just barely a cupcake... But I'm sitting here eating it and it is quite delicious!! Carrots and raisins and pineapple and nuts, and whole wheat flour. It's kinda lunch and dessert at the same time!

And after a bit of rest and then a walk with the dog, I tackled another biscoti. This one is a Pecan Cranberry one. The interesting ingredient is a box of corn muffin mix. Made for a very tasty biscotti. I like this idea of different flavors other than what the stores offer.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Day 3 brings the pictures...

The cream cheese frosting was a big hit, and they liked my attempt at decorating. A good improvement over the first. The shell border came out pretty, blended the red and white as I hoped. The flowers were again too soft to petal up the way they should have. The leaves were easier and better controlled for me, so I think I am getting more comfortable with the pastry bag.

Monday, December 27, 2010

2-day projects, a HABIT?

So much for making a few cupcakes in red velvet and then working on a little 6-inch cake!!! The first try came out HEAAAAAAVY, and very pinky red. We tasted them and they were eatable, but so very moist in the middle and so darned heavy. A decision had to be made- keep going and make the frosting, ---or dump the whole batch, go find another recipe and try again...

I can't believe I was able to get myself to throw away all that hard work,---but I did it. And decided to do a cake full size according to what the recipe asked. Two 8 inch layers. I had already made a raspberry filling for the first batch and now I can use it in the layers, to torte it.

Went to make the next cake and lo and behold!!! I reached for the baking soda container and realized it was the CORNSTARCH!!! That explained the brick cupcakes!

That actually made me feel much more hopeful for this next cake...Which came out a deeper red color and smelled and felt better when I took them from the oven.

So I torted them with my new cake leveler,and filled the layers and put on that rough coat of frosting to keep the crumbs under control.

And now it is the next day- day 2- and I will put the cream cheese frosting together and try to make this cake pretty. Pics to follow later...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

2- day cookies!

Sugar cookies are not supposed to be a two day project!!! But these managed to take that long because I was trying new techniques. Made the dough and then refrigerated. MORE than 3 hours later I tried rolling out the first half. It said 1/8th inch thick, so I thought okay realllllly thin and delicate. Well that doesn't work with a small cookie and sure doesn't work with a large snowflake cookie with cut-out holes!!

So I smooshed it all back together and put it back in the fridge. Took the other half and went to work on a thicker roll out. THIS was much better. So I cut and baked the whole batch and went looking for that simple glaze recipe I thought I had.

Grrrrr. I couldn't find it anywhere and my internet connection decided to DIS- connect for a while. When my husband got it working again, it was so late I only managed to find another online, and then I went to bed.

Next day I made the glaze and put some on white, and then added blue to do some more and then added lots more blue for a different shade. The yellowish tone of the cookie made the first blue kinda turquoise. So I used up all the store-bought liquid food color that I had on hand before I discovered the new stronger Gels.

Then, of course there was all the individual icing for the designs.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Feeling better...back to baking

The cold finally backed down and made life I was back to work in the kitchen yesterday. I loved the idea of sweet potato in a cupcake ever since I had seen a lady in East Haven on TV mentioned as a winner in a cook-off. They showed her lovely cupcakes and mentioned that one was made of the unusual ingredient- sweet potato. So I found a recipe to get me started which was called 'intermediate'. Which to me meant 'more work than you are used to'

It was my first try at a 'reduction' and I was a bit nervous as I always am about trying something I don't yet understand. I did it slightly wrong in the way of putting ingredients together, but it seemed alright anyway. It was used to coat the top of the finished cupcakes and then the rest was used in the frosting, which was VERY sticky to make. Marshmallow fluff from my childhood fav. sandwiches was folded into a huge amount of butter and that cider reduction stuff. Folding was a real workout for my wrists!!!

Had to coat chopped pecans with melted butter and a bit of salt and toast them. Never did that simple step before either. But it was worth it, cause they sure tasted good that way.

THEN came getting the frosting onto the cupcake!!! I had run out of the long plastic disposable bags so I thought I would use the first of the parchment paper triangles to make a bag. Well, they came out MUCH shorter and I had a terrible time keeping the frosting from squishing out the top and all over my fingers and I had to refill a million times, and it was a colossal mess!!! If someone had been home it would have been a hilarious video to have on record. But I smooshed thru and the cupcakes don't show any damage at all.
Forgot to mention, when I was feeling so miserable with the cold, I did manage a simple-but decadent- bar cookie....

On the same day I made those fantastic sweet potato cupcakes with apple cider frosting, I decided to tackle BISCOTTI.
And again, this was a type of baking I had not quite understood how to tackle. I did buy a biscotti baking pan in hopes they would come out better in the proper pan. And of course, it came with a recipe!!!

So I thought, before I try any fancy ones, lets use the one that is meant to be used in this pan!! As I put it together, I got the gist of what was necessary to make them taste so good and yet still be dry and crispy and dunk-able!! The dough was super sticky so I did add more flour than it called for to get it to shape into the long roll and fit the pan. It also said the roll would be 2 1/2 inches high and yet fit to the edges of the pan. NO WAY was it that high, but I hoped for the best.

I LOVED the results! And I will definately make more of these!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

wicked bad cold!!!

Caught a cold from my granddaughter and it is nasty. Slowing me down. I tried frosting more cupcakes and they were coming out terrible so I quit and gave in to the cold and rested up. Went shopping for more ingredients, and felt better, enough to get started with a cider reduction this morning to use with sweet potato cupcakes.

Other granddaughter Lex is coming down for her lesson this afternoon. Going to try orange cupcakes. Hopefully I will have lovely pics this evening to add.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

...Peachy I tried the cola cupcakes with the peaches added, and they came out a little more moist that I think might be right. They tasted fine and I went ahead and tried my hand at frosting them with flowers.

Made my second batch of butter cream frosting with the addition of meringue powder, and it came out MUCH stiffer than I expected, so I had to add more milk, and then my mixer DIED!!!

Yup, the darn thing just stopped dead, and I had to go get the older one that I had put aside for a future tag sale item... thank goodness, it still worked, and it definitely has more staying power than the newer, and apparently cheaper made one.

But the frosting wasn't still quite smooth enough, and I had to take another whack at mixing it more. But I had a small bowl of peach color frosting, and the big white bowlful. So I had twice the work and twice the mess.... I had bits of frosting allllllll over the counters.

And I have now developed a tremendous yearning for a STAND MIXER --- but the cost,,,ouch!!

Saw a nice black Kitchen Aid one for $299...that's three hundred dollars!!! Do I invest that much before I know whether this is going to be worth doing?? I expect I have already spent a hundred fifty or so on all the little tools and stuff needed.

They were real fun to make tho...hmmmmm

Friday, December 17, 2010

Trying a new idea...

Repeated the cupcakes my GD, Lexie, made but added a different touch. I took a single serve container of peach chunks and added it to the batter. Used the juice with the liquid required to make 1 cup liquid. They look fine, but I have a terrible cold and didn't feel like tasting them tonight. Will wait for morn, and hopefully will feel more like frosting and then taste testing.

I think I'll call them 'Peachy Keen Cupcakes" Watcha think?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

FaceBook fading...

Facebook is finally fading...because I found a new toy that has been there all along! My oven, who hardly recognizes me... is making my aquaintance recently. It started with my granddaughter, Alexis,considering her future in culinary school versus hairdressing, versus community college.

Paying to learn to bake is pretty expensive, as it turns out. Community college is seeming to be a better dear GD, how would you like to learn to bake with me???

Well she thought that would be great fun, so I re-arranged my kitchen and brought out all my baking tools that I could find, and then bought some more and then a super video-packed on-line baking book that really focused on the cake decorating I wanted to get into.

And off we go!

Lexie is more into cupcakes and all the cute things you can do with them. So we started simple, with a list of goodies in my kitchen for baking. She had to find all of them, so she would know where to get all her ingredients and tools as she baked. She was surprised at how long the list was!

BTW, she is 18 and is VERY limited in what she has baked in the past. So we had a fun time cooking from scratch. She made a simple chocolate cupcake with peppermint creme frosting. She decided to make half of them green and half of them white. The emerald toppers had chocolate curls to decorate, and the creamy white had bits of hard candy broken up with a hammer (she got out a bit of frustration with that!)

We were so excited to share them with the family at our Tuesday night get-together that we FORGOT TO TAKE A PICTURE

I made out a little opinion paper for each family member to give their opinion of the cupcake. It worked out very nicely, as we asked them to please be honest and not give her a 10 just because we are all family. It averaged out to about a 7, which I thought was a fair evaluation for her first try.


She is going to start her own blog and explain more about her adventures with me, so it is enough said that these cupcakes were not as pretty but soooooo much better tasting than the first. She got 8's and 9's on these. I'll let her tell you the secret ingredient...

On to my own trek into cakery...
I was going to be meeting my two sisters at our "Sisters Sewing Sircle" in a couple days, so it was the perfect motivation for making a desert. I chose to use a box cake for my first try, because I wanted to focus on the frosting more than the cake. I followed a couple extra pointers from that on-line book and the cake came out nice and smooth and even, and for the first time came out of the pans perfectly!!!

I got brave and tried cutting the two layers into four, so there could be a filling. I made a little frosting 'dam' around the edge and put in blueberry preserves for the filling in a lemon cake. Then I did the rough frost to keep the crumbs under control. Which WORKED!

The white underlay came out pretty good, and I loved the paper-towel lace effect. But the frosting for the yellow flowers was softened by the fact I had put it in the fridge overnight. I don't know what the cold does, but the petals wouldn't stiffen. I won't refrigerate the left-over frostings again.

The mail brought my first order for new fun tools, and I ripped it open and used the drop flower tip for the blue flowers. And because I didn't have enough pastry bags or know-how, I didn't change the drop flower tip for a star tip and the edging is not all that it should be. NOW I have the merngue powder to stiffen up the iceing and have figured out what to do about changing tips.

My sisters were amazed that I had made it and loved the taste as much as the look!!

I know I have a lot to improve on, but I felt pretty good about my first foray into baking with a purpose.

Friday, January 29, 2010

well hello there, blog...

Haven't been by in months, as I discovered Facebook and all the fun games it had to offer. And then there is the chatting going on. And messages coming in. And gifts to be received from fellow players.
It just goes on and on, and I am HOOKED right along with so many others.
My daughter Teri got me started with FarmTown and it merrily went on from there. I have since deleted FarmTown, for the cuter Farmville and am even more intrigued with Fishville.
And then my granddaughter got me going on Petville and is my stiffest competetion!!! lol

That same daughter, Teri, just started her own blog today, so I may stop in here more often after visiting hers. She wants to push her writing ability and see if anything really solid comes of it.