Sunday, August 16, 2009

Blast from my Past - Buttermilk Cupcakes

Buttermilk Cupcakes 7
As a kind of homage to my past, I decided to make yellow buttermilk cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. You see the first thing I ever baked, from scratch that is, was a batch of buttermilk cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. I can't tell you what made me want to bake them or why I thought they would be good. I remember seeing the recipe for the cupcakes in the back of a magazine, although I am not sure which one.

I remember buying all the ingredients because before then, we really did not have lots of baking goods. We had some old flour, and a small amount of sugar. And when the recipe called for cake flour as well, we kind of had no idea what that was.We didn't even really keep milk in the house (no one really liked to drink it). We had to buy baking powder and soda, and I used years old vanilla extract. Before those cupcakes, we weren't really a baking family. Sure my dad and mom cooked a lot, and very well I might add, but baking was not something either one of them really did, and if we did have some baked goods it probably came from Pillsbury, Betty Crocker or Duncan-Hines.
Buttermilk Cupcakes 3
I got out our old, old stand mixer from the mid 80s that had a semi-broken beater and kind of sounded like it was dying when it was on. I combined the ingredients, although I had no idea about all the little things like how to measure them out correctly. I didn't even own any dry measuring cups, and instead found an ancient 1/4 cup measure that I used. I had no measuring spoons either and so I just used this old one I found at the back of our junk drawer. I didn't know to bring the eggs to room temperature or how to actually soften butter. I didn't know what 2/3 full meant when filling cupcakes. However, when it came to the timing it was like something just clicked. I got them out when they were exactly perfect, just knowing to check even when the timer said an extra 5 minutes.

Even being an extreme baking novice at the time, they still magically managed to turn out OK. Actually, better than OK, they were delicious. When my family told me how great they were, I felt really proud because it was all my work and it was all from scratch. I wouldn't say that it was like a light bulb moment and I immediately loved baking, but it showed me I could do it.

Over that first year I baked periodically. I had some disasters-like the homemade pumpkin cookies that when I went to cut the batch in half, I cut everything else but the flour and salt so the cookies were kind of salty. Slowly over that year, I started acquiring baking utensils like pans, measuring cups and extracts.
Buttermilk Cupcakes 4
It wasn't until about a year ago I really got into baking. I started baking more and more often, although I usually stuck to cupcakes and cookies. When school started last year, I brought my goods to school. People really like my stuff, and that encouraged me to bake more. One kid offered to buy my baked goods! Pretty soon I had a hand mixer and could bake more things. I tried my hand at royal icing at Halloween for the first time, which was a big step for me. I started reading baking blogs and that gave me a lot of inspiration. Finally in April, I started one of my own. This blog gave me the excuse to try different things and my passion for baking really exploded.

Now I have come full-circle exploring the very first thing I baked, again. I am not using the same recipe as I have lost the article, but from what I can recollect it is a very similar recipe. I am frosting it in cream-cheese for the same nostalgic flavor.

Speaking on a kind of unrelated note, I was arguing my friend about something concerning cupcakes. Is a cupcake the entire package including the cake and frosting or just simply the cake. Do you say buttermilk cake and cream-cheese frosting cupcakes or do you say buttermilk cupcakes with cream-cheese frosting as two separate entities? I think a cupcake is in theory the entire package including the frosting but in a sentence it usually refers to just the cake. I don't know guys... What do you think? Leave it in a comment, if you like.

I got this recipe from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes. This will be the first recipe I try from the book, but I have used Martha Stewarts recipes for cupcakes before. The buttermilk doesn't really do anything different for the flavor that is noticeable but what it does to the texture is amazing. It makes the cake tender, and combined with the cake flour makes for an incredibly light and fluffy cake, while the all purpose flour keeps it from being too tender that it falls apart.
Buttermilk Cupcakes 5
These cupcakes are a slight twist on the standard yellow cake-vanilla buttercream icing combo, but could work in any situation where you would normally use that, a birthday party, after dinner treat or at a picnic. Then again, some people aren't a fan of cream-cheese frosting (like my dad) but also some people don't like vanilla buttercream either (like me) so you never can please everyone! :)
Buttermilk Cupcakes 6
Yellow Buttermilk Cupcakes
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes
Makes 36 standard cupcakes (you could cut this in half for less cupcakes but be warned it calls for 5 eggs)

3 cups cake flour, like Soft-as-Silk. It is usually in a cereal-box sized box, not a bag!
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/8 cups butter (2 and 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
5 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
2 cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees farhenheit.Line standard muffin cups with paper liners.

  2. Sift together all dry ingredients, excluding sugar, into a medium bowl.

  3. With a mixer on med-high speed, cream butter and sugar until more pale in color. Reduce speed and add whole eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth. Add egg yolks and beat until combined.

  4. Reduce speed to low or off. (Trust me you want to do this very low, it seems like an amateur mistake but not thinking I made it and flour went everywhere!) Add the sifted mixture in three batches, alternating with two batches of butter milk. (Basically like flour-buttermilk-flour-buttermilk-flour, but you probably didn't need me to reiterate that.) Beat until combined after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

  5. Divide between the muffin cups, filling 3/4 full. (These do not rise a whole lot, but they do rise.)

  6. Bake for around 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

  7. Once cool spread with frosting (recipe below).

Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Martha Stewart Cupcakes
Makes 4 cups (Plenty to generously frost all 36 cupcakes)

2 sticks unsalted butter
12 ounces (1 1/2 8oz packages) cream cheese
1 pound (4 cups) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

1.With a mixer on med-high speed, beat butter and cream cheese until very fluffy, around 3 minutes
2.Reduce speed to low or off and add sugar in eight increments. Scrape down bowl after each increment.
3.Once combined, add vanilla and mix until smooth.

Buttermilk Cupcakes 2

Hey guys, and gals too! I just wanted to say I have some really great dishes coming up as well as something really special right before my school hiatus! I got my logo up and formatted the colors. I think it looks a little bit more professional and streamlined and elegant and that is really want I am trying to convey. Hopefully it can help take this blog to new levels. Once again, thank you guys for reading. It really means the world to me!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Incredi-Cake! Kentucky Butter Cake

Kentucky Butter Cake 3
This cake is, as declared by my friends and family, probably the best thing I have ever made. It has the perfect balance of sweetness, moistness and tenderness. Its perfect, even without fancy frosting, fillings, or decorations. Its simple and sophisticated with just a dusting of powdered sugar. The recipe calls the cake Kentucky Butter Cake. I call it delicious.

It is a pretty simple cake. It has more ingredients than a pound cake but I would call the textures very similar, although the Kentucky cake is less dense but is more rich, if that makes sense. It has buttermilk in the batter, but I have also seen sour cream exchanged for a one to one ratio, although I have not tried it that way. Personally, I love what the flavor of buttermilk does to a cake as well as how tender it makes it, so if I find a buttermilk cake recipe I tend to use it. There is no discernible 'twang' of the buttermilk when all is done, so just because it smells like sour milk that's thickened in the jar, it won't be like that in the baked good. Also just a reminder, if your out of buttermilk or can't find it, add one tablespoon of lemon juice, or white vinegar, to a measuring cup and fill in with milk to get one cup. Wait 10 minutes and it will be thoroughly sour and thus can make a substitute for buttermilk. Speaking of not being able to find it, I went to 3 grocery stores and could not find it. When I went to 4th grocery store they had 3 different brands of it, go figure you know!
Kentucky Butter Cake 3
The glaze that gets sucked down by the cake is basically butter and sugar. When you melt the butter, make sure you keep the heat pretty low. You don't want brown butter, although brown butter cupcakes are pretty delicious. Sorry unrelated, I got side tracked. You just want a smooth melted butter and sugar mixture that melts the sugar smoothly. I suppose you could do it in the microwave but the microwave is so finicky when melting butter (at least mine is) that in this case, the stove top is much easier.

When the cake is a little bit cool, poke a bunch of holes with a skewer, fork, your finger, who cares. You will want to do this in your bundt or tube pan so you can flip it over and cover the holes. With a skewer you can get all the way to the bottom, or top I guess when your eating it, but I had no skewer so I went with a fork. The glaze leaves these little pockets of super moist, tender, buttery, sugary areas of goodness that are the best part. You might think all of the glaze won't suck in to the cake, but leave it for 30 minutes and it will pretty much be all gone. The cake is like a sponge, although its not like a sponge cake- I know a bit contradictory.
Kentucky Butter Cake 2
The cake is good served a little warm or chilled even. We ate it with the homemade blueberry jam I posted earlier, but a little bit of macerated berries or dulce de leche would be divine as well. This cake has such a simple flavor and texture (although it is far from boring) that it works well with anything. Try using leftovers or scraps in a trifle for a delicious picnic dessert.

Kentucky Butter Cake 4
Kentucky Butter Cake
Unknown Source
Makes a one full-size tube or bundt cake

For cake:
2 sticks butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For glaze:
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
scant 1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 10-inch bundt or tube pan with a nonstick spray. You could also butter and flour if you have a tube pan but I would not reccommend buttering and flouring for a Bundt pan.

2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

3. In a bowl, beat the butter and sugar for 3 minutes at medium speed.

4. Add eggs, one at a time. Continue to beat for 1 minute.

5. Alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk, ending with the flour.

6. Add vanilla or rum extract. Beat for 20 seconds.

7. Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake for about 60 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

8. To make the glaze: In a small saucepan, combine sugar, butter, water and vanilla or rum extract. Do not boil, keep the heat on very low, just enough to melt it.

9. Poke the just out of the oven cake multiple times with a skewer, fork or finger if that's how you roll. Leave the cake in the pan. Pour all of the glaze over the entire cake, coating all holes and sides of cake

10. Let the cake cool completely, and soak up all glaze, before removing it from the pan.

11. Enjoy plain with powdered sugar or with a array of condiments like dulce de leche, chocolate sauce, macerated berries or jam.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Jammin'-Sorry, I couldn't think of a better pun title

Blueberry Jam 3
Ok. So I know I have been a bit of a bad blogger. I have neglected this blog, and really its been making me sad. I really started to miss the look of new posts every couple of days. Like I said before, AP classes are insane and I am not even in the school year yet! Well, not technically true as I am taking AP art history online right now. I just got caught up with that so I decided I would reward myself with finishing up my blog posts. I know kind of more work, but its a labor of love.

Anyways, long story short: this post was written almost a month ago! July 9th to be exact. So when I say today I don't really mean it. It's just taken me this long to find the time to get the pictures all prettied up and then on to Flickr and then on to here. So, basically, keep that in mind if something comes off weird. I also have the butter cake post on queue ready to be posted tomorrow. I want to give this one a little room at the top before I bump it down. Also I did make puff pastry, but unfortunately that post will not be coming to fruition. I made it and it just wasn't blog material, and I am not confident enough with it anyways. Instead I will be posting a recipe on Espresso Panna Cotta and some super delicious cupcakes. I promise, because you see if I take a picture of it I will be doing a post on it.

Thanks for Reading, and sticking through no updates,


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Blueberry Jam 4
Today I decided to make jam. And preserve it too. For anyone who isn't aware, jamming (as in the process of making jam) and preserving are NOT the same. Yes, they usually go hand in hand, but they are not one in the same. Jam making is simply cooking fruit down and thickening it, that may or may not use pectin. The different types of jam ( jelly, preserves, compotes, marmalades, jam, etc.) are determined by what part of the fruit is left in the jam (which is what we will call any thickened fruit spread).

Preserving is the act of taking the jam and putting it in sterilized containers and then processing until sterile and vacuum sealed. This makes the product (hopefully) shelf-stable and being able to open up the jar 6 months down the road, preserving that fresh fruit flavor in the middle of winter. For the speciality utensils like a jar tongs, canning funnel and lid lifter I found a pack from Ball brand that came with all the utensils except a canning rack. It was 6 dollars at Wal-Mart in their seasonal section. You could also go down to your local old-fashioned hardware store, like Ace Hardware, and find all of the utensils, jars and lids.

You can make jam, jelly or the like with out the some-what hassle of preserving and as long as you keep it in the fridge and eat it within 2-3 weeks. Of course, even if you open a preserved jar of jam, it must go in the fridge.

I chose to start with a spiced blueberry jam(and yes jam as in seedy, pulpy spread). It seems a little daunting for a first bout in jam making, but it came with a detailed video how-to that I thought would be a must for a semi-complicated process. I will link to it in the recipe.
Blueberry Jam 2
The recipe uses pectin so it is quicker to make than jam that the pectin in the fruit has to naturally develop. Also because of this, the jam retains a fresher fruit flavor. This recipe also uses frozen blueberries. I would use wild, as they are more flavorful but they can be more expensive and harder to find. I didn't use wild, and it was still delicious. The jam is just slightly spiced, and its not overwhelming. It just makes the jam have a subtle complexity.
Blueberry Jam 1
For the pectin, it is powdered. You can usually find pectin near the gelatin in the grocery store. It comes in a 1.75 oz box no matter what brand you use. And you use the whole box, no need to measure.

Spiced Blueberry Jam

Adapted from Alton Brown (My Adaptations are in Italics)

Preserving Hardware:
Large stockpot or canning kettle
Jar rack or cake
cooling rack (I had neither so I used a kitchen towel on the bottom, it will work in a pinch)
6 (8-ounce) Mason style preserving jars with lids and bands
Wide mouth canning funnel

Canning tongs (specially made for snatching jars in and out of very hot situations)
Large (8-ounce) ladle
Paper towels or dishtowels
Magnetized "lid-wand" or magnet tool from hardware store (optional)

Jam Hardware:
Medium-large saucepan
Wooden spoon
Hand masher

Jam Software:
2 (12-ounce) bags frozen blueberries
One (1 3/4-ounce) packet dry pectin
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 cups sugar
1/2 cup water

For the jam:

Place blueberries in saucepan over medium-low heat. Sprinkle with pectin followed by the anise, nutmeg, lemon juice and vinegar. Once liquid starts to gather in bottom of pan, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Lower heat slightly and boil gently for five minutes occasionally mashing mixture. Mash in sugar, add the water and return to a boil for 1 minute. You just made jam. Cool, jar, refrigerate and enjoy within 2 weeks. Or, move to the preserving phase.
Preserving the jam:

Thoroughly wash all hardware in hot soapy water. Then pile everything (excluding the jar lids) into the pot. Cover with hot water by at least 1-inch and bring to a boil and maintain for 10 full minutes to sterilize. Turn off the heat, wait 5 minutes then add the lids (waiting will insure that the sealing compound does not melt). Leave all hardware in the pot until you're ready to can.
Remove the ladle, tongs, funnel and other tools from the pot, (careful please, it's hot in there) to a clean towel or paper towels. Using the jar tongs, remove and drain the jars, placing them on the towel/paper towel surface. (Avoid rock or metal surfaces which could result in thermal shock and breakage.)
Place the funnel in the first jar (pick it up by the ring, avoiding the sterile interior.) Use the ladle to fill each jar just to the bottom of the funnel, about 1/3-inch from the bottom of the jar threads. This "headspace" is necessary for the jars to seal during processing.
Wipe the jar rims with a moist paper towel, checking for any cracks or irregularities as you go. Use the magnetized device of your choice to position lids on each jar. Screw the rings on finger tight. (Remember, the rings don't seal the jars they only hold the lids in place. Heat will drive out the headspace air, which when cooled will create a vacuum, thus sealing the jars)
Return the jars to the pot being certain that they don't touch the bottom of the pot or each other. (If you don't have a jar rack, try a round cake rack, or metal mesh basket. Even a folded kitchen towel on the pot bottom will do in a pinch.) Add additional water if necessary to cover the jars by at least an inch, and bring to a hard boil over high heat according to the table below. (Be sure not to start your timer until a true boil is reached. The headroom air may bubble out of the jars before a boil is reached. Don't be fooled.)

Here is the handy dandy link to that video. Part 1 is linked but just look next to the video on YouTube. (I think we all know how that works =]) Part 2 should be linked. This is thanks to Mr. Alton Brown, which on this topic I think is very effective at explaining. Video

Processing times: Within 1,000 feet of sea level: 5 minutes
1,000 -- 3,000 feet above sea level: 10 minutes
3,001- 6,000 feet above sea level: 15 minutes
6,000 -- 8,000 feet above sea level: 20 minutes
Blueberry Jam 3

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Another Super Short Update

Guys, I am so sorry for not updating pretty much at all in July. See, I started an AP class online this month, plus I had summer assignments for two more AP classes, so it really started to add up. Plus, my summer has less than a month left so I am running out of time. I will try extra hard to get out a lot of posts in August so it can bumper my diminished blogging I know will happen when school starts. And I still have those posts on blueberry jam, butter cake and puff pastry, plus more!

Plus, I have been working on trying to create a logo and new layout for this blog to make it a little more streamlined, so stay tuned (is that they word? stay reading? who knows...) as that will be coming sometime.

Thank you guys so much for reading, It really does make it all worthwhile to see the view count and comments, and I appreciate it so much.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Quick Update

First on the agenda of this quick little post, I want to thank Elissa at 17 and Baking for giving me my first blog award.
Elissa, herself, is one lovely blogger and she totally deserves it herself. Once again, thanks so much for the Award. It's always nice to have the support of another teen baker. So check her out her site, she has really creative stuff.

Now, it says when you get the award you are suppose to award it to more bloggers, so here goes.

  1. Flory at Sugar Sublime
  2. Cathy at la prochaine fois
  3. Cassie at How to Eat a Cupcake
  4. Ellie at Vintage Victuals (even though she has this award)
  5. Celine at her random cooking

Other than that, I have some posts coming up that I am working on, so they should be up in the next week. I have a post on Blueberry Jam that is easy and simply delicious and another on Kentucky Butter Cake, which is probably the best plain cake you will ever eat. Don't worry, I have more than that on the way, but those should be up in the very near future. Also, I am thinking of trying to make puff pastry so that may be up here!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Key Lime Pie

Need a recipe for a Fourth of July picnic, or just want to make something completely yummy? This is it. Its extremely easy, fun, summery, and a crowd pleaser.
Its Key Lime Pie.
Key Lime Pie 2
This dessert is not gourmet, by any means. You could barely call it made from scratch, but it is delicious and it is easy, and sometimes that's all you need.

The pie is super simple. I went the supermarket route. I bought a pre-made graham cracker crust. I would have made that because it is very easy, but my food processor isn't the best and I don't have a metal 9 inch pie pan!

For the filling, it is only 3 different ingredients. It is a can of sweetened condensed milk, key lime juice (not PLAIN lime juice) and egg yolks. Make sure you use key lime juice. It is different than regular lime juice. I recommend you use Nellie and Joe's Key lime juice. It is really the best in my opinion. It is a little hard to find, however. I could not find it at Wal-Mart, but Target does carry it (the super versions of both stores). I found it at my local grocery store, but I know nationally Whole Foods and Fresh Market do carry it.It is in a light green opaque bottle with Nellie and Joe's clearly on the front. Make sure it is their Key Lime juice, not their Key lemon juice. Check near the juice aisle by the bottled lemon juice, near the citrus in the produce department on a stand, and also the mixer aisle. We went back to a store we thought did not have it, but it was with their alcohol mixers, like you know cocktail olives, margarita mix etc.
Key Lime Pie 3
Yes, you could use actual Key limes, but if you have never seen them they are very tiny, about the size of a cherry tomato, so it is kind of a pain in the butt to juice them. Besides, the juice from the bottle has a distinctive taste that really makes the pie. I did, however, buy one regular lime strictly for garnish.

When you have all the ingredients, just blend until smooth and then pour into the pie shell. Bake for 15 minutes at 350. I baked it exactly that. It is just to set it and pasteurize the eggs; it should not get the pie brown. I used my toaster oven for this. It was just more convenient and does not heat up the house as much.

When done, generously top with whipped cream or Cool Whip. This type of Key lime pie does not really lend itself to meringue. I chose Cool Whip from the can for its staying power(UPDATE: I wrote this before I took pictures, I waited about an hour to take pictures and the cool whip was all flat so its not the prettiest pie in the world! See above photo compared to below photo and the diffrence in Cool Whip height), and its taste against the tangy pie. I would also use freshly whipped cream however, if that is what you like. Top with a lime slice or freshly grated lime zest or maybe a fresh lime zest ribbon.

Share and Enjoy.

Key Lime Pie 1

Key Lime Pie

Adapted from Nellie and Joe's Famous Key Lime Pie Recipe
Makes one 9 inch pie

For Crust (if homemade):
~15 full large rectangles of graham crackers
1/3-1/2 cup melted salted butter
1/4-1/3 cup sugar

For Filling: (enough for a completly filled crust, for less filling halve filling recipe)
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
6 egg yolks
Scant 1 cup of Nellie and Joe's Key Lime Juice

To Make Crust:
1. Pulse graham crackers in a food processor until crumbs.
2. Add melted butter and sugar.
3. Stir until clumps form. Pat into a 9 inch metal metal pie pan.
4. Bake at 350 for 7-10 minutes, or until slightly golden and set.

To Make Filling:
1. Pour sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, and lime juice into bowl.
2. Blend until smooth and thick, about 2 minutes
3. Pour into baked, cooled pie crust.
4. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Do NOT let the pie brown.
5. Top with whipped cream or Cool Whip. Garnish with lime slices, lime zest, or a lime ribbon.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Traditional Tiramisu

n. A dessert of cake infused with a liquid such as coffee and Marsala, layered with a rich cheese filling, and topped with grated chocolate.
Tiramisu 2
Tiramisu is probably one of my new favorite desserts. I had never tried it before a year ago, and I don't know why! It has all great components: cookies, coffee, cheese, and chocolate! The only problem is it costs upwards of 8 dollars a serving at restaurants! Making this dessert at home is definitely cost effective, even if the ingredients cost more than usual, you get a full batch of at least 10 servings! So as long as you spend less than even 50 dollars for all the ingredients (which I do not know how you could), you will be saving money.
Tiramisu 8
I looked online for many tiramisu recipes, but most were non-traditional and took a shortcut, and that was not what I wanted. I wanted one that had a zabaglione mixture, mascarpone, and savoiardi. I found a recipe with just that on the unlikely site of
The Pioneer Woman. Of course the best tiramisu recipe comes from a woman from a cattle ranch in the middle of America. I kind of mixed with her recipe the recipe on the back of savoiardi, or crispy lady finger cookies. These are not soft and mushy like many lady fingers when they come out of the package. They are very crispy and bland, made to be used in something. However, when soaked in the espresso/Marsala wine mixture, they become quite soft.
Tiramisu 6
So I started with making my zabaglione mixture, because it needed to be chilled. The zabaglione mixture consists of egg yolks, Marsala wine, and sugar. The egg yolks are whisked up with the sugar before they are whisked even more over a double boiler. Then, gradually, the Marsala is mixed in. When done cooking, the mixture becomes very, very thick. Just make sure you whisk constantly. If you don't it is easy to burn the mixture and that would not be very good. When that is done, chill the mixture, covered, in the fridge for about an hour.
Tiramisu 5
Next, I made the espresso/wine mixture. I used about 2 ounces of espresso. I know this because I went to Starbucks for a double espresso shot, which is like 1/8 cup. For the rest of the coffee to make up the 1 and 1/2 cup, I used especially strong brewed coffee. I then added a scant 1/4 cup of Marsala wine since I added a little extra to the zabaglione mixture. Then finally I added some vanilla. Oh, make sure your coffee/espresso is cool otherwise it might melt the cheese layer.
Tiramisu 4
I used a square 8 by 8 inch pan, because the 13 x 9 inch pan was dirty, and it wouldn't have fit in the fridge anyhow. I also only had one small package of savoiardi so I wouldn't have been able to have 2 layers, much less three like the recipe says. I only got 2 scant layers from the cookies, but with the pan I chose it worked out.
Tiramisu 1
I apologize now for the all-over-the-place-ness of this recipe. That said this recipe is not hard! I promise! Seriously, give it a shot you will be glad you did.
Tiramisu 3

Amended from
The Pioneer Woman and Alessi Savoiardi
Serves 9+ depending on serving size

For the Zabaglione:
5 egg yolks ( Make meringue cookies with the whites, if you want)
1/4 c sugar
Scant 1/2 cup Marsala ( I used more, but that was on accident, but unless you really like the flavor of Marsala I wouldn't recommend it)

For the Whipped Cream:
1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1/4 c sugar

1 lb (16oz) Mascarpone, softened (A good place to find this inexpensively is a bulk retailer like Sam's Club or BJ's. I found it for 4 dollars at BJ's for a pound. At a gourmet grocery store, I found it for 8 dollars for half a pound.)
(A substitute is also to use two 8oz packages of cream cheese mixed with 1/2 cup whipping cream and a heaping quarter cup of sour cream.)

Dipping Coffee/Marsala Mixture:
1 cup espresso or strong coffee (I would not use Starbucks canned sweetened espresso, as it will make your recipe too sweet)
1/2 cup Marsala wine
1 Tbsp. Vanilla Extract
3 Tbsp. Sugar (Optional)

2 Packages of 7oz Alessi Savoiardi Lady Finger Cookies (if using 9 by 13 pan and want 3 layers) (1 package for a square pan with only 2 layers)

Cocoa Powder, for dusting


For the Zabaglione:

  • Boil a pot of water that will fit your glass bowl without the bowl going all the way in. When boiling, reduce to simmer
  • Separate 5 eggs, putting the yolks in the glass bowl. Add a 1/4 cup sugar and whisk until lighter in color, about 4 minutes
  • Put the bowl of frothy yolks and sugar mixture on top of the simmering water. Continue whisking.
  • Add Marsala gradually, continuously whisking. Keep whisking, occasionally scraping down the bowl. When mixture becomes thick like paint, take off heat being careful of the built-up steam. Cover and let chill in the fridge for about an hour.

Arrange the cookies in an even layer on the bottom of your selected dish, making sure to have a roughly even amount for your other layers.

For the Dipping Coffee/ Marsala mixture:

  • Measure 1 cup of strong coffee or espresso or a mixture
  • Add 1 tbsp. vanilla extract and 1/2 c Marsala wine
  • Spoon 1 tbsp or more on each ladyfinger. I only put 1 tbsp. of the mixture on each cookie, and after sitting 2 hours the ladyfingers were still somewhat crispy. If you like that only add 1 tbsp, if you do not and want it very soft and mushy, add enough to visibly saturate the cookies
  • I would suggest adding sugar to this mixture, maybe 3 tbsp. The mixture tends to be a little bitter if you use espresso. However, if you don't like overly sweet desserts I would not suggest this, as the mascapone mixture still imparts a lot of sweetness

For the Whipped Cream:

  • Add 1/4 cup sugar to 1 cup of heavy cream
  • Beat on high for around 2-3 minutes, or until relatively stiff peaks in the cream form.
To Assemble:
  • Fold together the whipped cream, zabaglione, and softened mascarpone.
  • Spoon 1/3 to 1/2 of the mixture (depending on how many layers you are planning to have) on top of the soaked savioardi. Smooth out.
  • Dust a light layer of cocoa powder on top of the cream mixture.
  • Repeat the process of laying savioardi on top of the cream, spoon the coffee/Marsala mixture on the cookies, and covering with the cream mixture and cocoa powder, finishing with the cream mixture.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta

Panna Cotta 2
For those of you wondering Panna Cotta, according to Wikipedia, is an Italian dessert made by simmering together milk, cream, sugar and gelatin. Now, if I was to describe Panna Cotta to someone I would tell them its like if Jello was made with milk and was flavored vanilla, and had a less jiggly texture. I decided to make Panna Cotta because I wanted to try something different. I have been feeling more or less bored with baking. Although, cookies and cupcakes are my favorite desserts, they aren't exactly challenging. And even though, Panna Cotta is not difficult by any means, it is different, so I had to try it.

I used the recipe I found from Joy of Baking. I have mentioned that website before because there recipes are usually straightforward, come with a history of the dish (which is a personal favorite), and usually come out as expected. The recipe for Panna Cotta is no different. The only thing I changed was that I used vanilla bean paste to give the wonderful specks of vanilla bean seeds and make it extra luxe.

I molded it in silicone baking cups for ease of removal, although they did come out with those tell-tale lines. It took about 8 silicone muffin cups completly full to use all the mixture. I also did not use heavy cream, and instead used half and half mixed with whole milk, simply because I had no heavy cream.

I have to admit the Panna Cotta's were a little bland, and not very sweet. Some people like that they are not sweet, but I have a strong sweet tooth so it was lacking for me. Next time, I would probably make a flavored version like the Espresso Panna Cotta I almost made. To combat, the blandness I made a blackberry sauce, that was surprisingly simple. So after washing the very tart blackberries, I added sugar (maybe 1/8-1/4 cup) to them in a bowl. The sugar drew the water out of the blackberries making a sour/sweet fruit sauce in about 3 hours. I then drizzled the sauce over the Panna Cotta with a few blackberries. It really livened it up.

Recipe from Joy of Baking

Monday, June 22, 2009

Peanut Butter Buds!

Peanut Butter Buds! They're chewy, crunchy, chocolaty, peanut butter drops of goodness, or in one word delicious. I found the recipe on the blog, 17 and Baking, and I just love her approach to baking. Seriously, check out her website.

Anyways, I followed her recipe, which you can also find a similar (OK, its pretty much the exact same thing,) recipe for Peanut Butter Blossoms, the big version of what I made today, on
Hershey's website using larger cookies and Kisses for the chocolate.
Peanut Butter Buds 3
Anyways you combine the ingredients in normal cookie fashion. You then make smaller-than-bite-size balls using ,yes, only a quarter teaspoon! You then roll it in sugar. I first tried using coarse sanding sugar that was multicolored but I didn't think it looked like it should be on peanut butter cookies. I then used Sugar in the Raw, or turbinado sugar, which worked well until I ran out, so I ended up using just plain table sugar after that. Then you bake them for about 5-6 minutes although mine were all over the place, some took 7 minutes. Another batch took 4 minutes, but that is my oven for you.

Peanut Butter Buds 1
When they are out put a chocolate chip in the center of each one and press lightly, then let cool so the chocolate can re-harden. I used 3 types of chocolate chips on mine: semisweet, white, and milk chocolate.
The recipe says it makes 15 dozen but my entire recipe only made barely 10 dozen, although, that could because my cookies were a little on the large size.

Either way, the cookies taste delicious and even if you make them full size, they will still taste delicious.

Peanut Butter Buds
Originally posted by Elissa at 17 and Baking
States it makes 15 dozen small cookies, varies depending on size

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup shortening
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
3 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Granulated sugar for rolling
Chocolate chips (any type)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Beat peanut butter and shortening until well mixed, then beat in the two sugars until light. Add the egg, milk, and vanilla and beat until fluffy.

  3. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together, then add in 3 batches to the peanut butter mixture, beating well between additions.

  4. Using a 1/4 tsp, roll dough into 1/2 inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar and place on ungreased baking sheets. I recommend using parchment paper or a Silpat mat.

  5. Bake 5-6 minutes, on until slightly golden brownand remove from oven. Immediately press a chocolate chip into the center of each cookie. Let cookies cool a minute, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. [Note: the chocolate chip will be warm and gooey for some time, so be careful before stacking them.]

  6. Alternatively, roll heaped tablespoons of dough in sugar and place onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake as directed. When baked press a Hershey's kiss into the center, in the fashion of the chocolate chips for Peanut Butter Blossoms.
Peanut Butter Buds 2ed

The cookies will keep for several days at room temperature in an airtight container.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Scones and Lemon Curd, Two Ways

See, I had these 4 lemons that were begging to be used, and I needed something to make with them. So, I had the idea to make lemon curd. I had never made it before, but had been wanting to, so I though it would be the perfect time to make it.

But what to do with the curd? You can't really eat it straight, if you don't want an lemon overload. I thought about making lemon curd tarts, but decided I wanted to make tartlettes and I only have two tartlette pans, so I need to go buy a few more. Then, I thought about making biscuits but believe it or not I do not have a biscuit cutter or even a circle cutter. So I decided to make scones: those delicious, biscuit-y concoctions that are little wedges of goodness. Many of the recipes were flavored, which I did not want as it would clash with my scones, so I found this delicious sounding recipe that was plain but slightly sweet at Vintage Victuals. Her recipe is a traditional recipe from the British Isles for cream scones.

The scones came out, a little on the dry side and crumbly but I added extra butter because it didn't seem like it had enough, which could be why they were crumbly. I also had no heavy cream, or even half and half--bad planning on my part, so I ended up using skim milk (it was all we had) cut with a little bit of the more creamy part of melted butter. They cooked up perfectly. However, I thought I had baked them wrong. Turns out I didnt, but it led me to make a second batch using a diffrent recipe.

So then I looked in How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson because I thought it would have a really authentic recipe for scones. I used her recipe which had an insane amount of baking powder (like 2 tablespoons) and cream of tarter ( a whopping 4 teaspoons!) Those scones did call for an egg wash. I baked them, however they were more sticky and a quarter of them were left on the rolling board. They also called for both butter and shortening, and also contained no sugar in the recipe so they were not sweet at all. They were lighter, but not in a good way, but also somehow still tough.

I am partial to Vintage Victuals scone recipe, and actually the Domestic Goddess recipe scones were left uneaten and had to be thrown away.

The lemon curd is a recipe from Joy of Baking. I looked long and wide for a good curd recipe, although I really did not know what I was looking for since I had never made it. I chose Joy of Baking because other things I have made from them have turned out well with little fine tuning, and it didn't seem like it made too much. It also only called for a third of a cup of lemon juice which was all I had fresh.

Well, I made the first batch correctly, and it thickened properly but when I went to go to taste it, all I tasted was metal. It was because I had made it with an aluminum bowl and it had absorbed some of the taste. So I made a second batch, but I had no zest left over, and was very scant on the lemon juice. To compensate I downed the sugar and butter a bit. However, it did not thicken as much as the other batch did, but that could be it never got hot enough because I used a plastic bowl this time. The second batch was sweeter however, and so I liked it better. Also, the first batch lost most of the metallic taste as it cooled down.

The lemon curd with the scones was delicious by the way. The scones made with the Vintage Victuals recipe were crumbly and delicious and with a smear of jam and cream cheese were delicious. If I could afford the devonshire (clotted) cream at the grocery store, it would have been heavenly. See devon cream is like mayo textured but very sweet and just heavenly on scones, at least that's what it said on a website I went to. However, it is only made in a section of England. You also can not make it yourself as it needs unpasteurized cream to make, well unless you live on a farm where you can get unpasteurized milk. So naturally, its a little pricey. You could try putting a dollop of whipped cream on the scone for the same sweet, milky coolness. I also dipped some of the scone in some strong earl grey tea and it just absorbed the flavor of the tea wonderfully,

Try making the scones today. They are delicious for breakfast, brunch, afternoon snack or dessert.

Authentic British Cream Scones
Adapted from Vintage Victuals

1 3/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 butter (1 stick)
1/4 cup heavy cream ( could substitute half and half, whole milk or even skim if mixed with a little melted butter)
1 large egg

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
  3. Cut in the butter until it's chunky. I used a wire pastry blender.
  4. Combine the cream and the egg, beating lightly. Add to the flour mixture and stir with a fork very lightly. Turn the crumbly dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently 5 to 6 times, just until the dough comes together. (I did this on a floured surface as the dough was a little sticky. It helped because I did not flour the surface for Nigella's scones and 2 of them were left of the table because they stuck).
  5. Roll until around 1-1.5 inch thick. Use a sharp knife ( I used a dough blade) to cut into even sized triangles. Place the wedges on a greased cookie sheet ( I just used parchment paper), and bake for 12-15 minutes. The tops will turn lightly golden. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Things I Would Love to Make

This is a list I have been meaning to make for a long time, of all the different items I have been meaning to make. Some I have made before, just not in a long time, although many I have never made. If anyone has any recipes for any of the following items feel free to share or link to in the comments. I would love to hear them!

  1. Key Lime Pie
  2. Tiramisu
  3. Yeast Bread
  4. Donuts*
  5. Cannolis
  6. Tuiles
  7. Tres Leches Cake
  8. Pizza Crust
  9. Pumpkin Bread
  10. Lemon Meringue Pie
  11. Cranberry Cake
  12. Madeleines*
  13. Short bread
  14. Flag Cake
  15. Scones
  16. Fig and Goat Cheese Tarts
  17. Cheese Danish
  18. Eclairs
  19. Homemade Flan
  20. Granita
  21. Marshmallows
  22. Savory tarts
  23. Churros
  24. Ice Cream*
  25. Rhubarb Crisp
  26. Fondant covered anything*
  27. Petit Fours
  28. Cheese Muffins
  29. Bombe glacée
  30. Meringue cookies
  31. Cookie Dough Cupcakes
  32. Panna Cotta
  33. Graham Crackers
  34. Lemon Curd

* do not have required equipment

Baking Escapades

So, here are some pictures of random baking endeavors. Most of these were for birthdays, although some were just because. There has been much more than this, although these were relatively aestically appeasing compared to some. Others simple were gobbled up too fast to be photographed.

Birthday Cupcake D
Yellow Butter Cake, with homemade fudge icing. The letters and flowers are made out of candy melts which I used to draw over wax paper.

Cappucino Cupcakes 2
Cappucino Cupcakes 1
Espresso flavored sponge cake, with white chocolate sour cream frosting, with bittersweet chocolate onlays. Yes I drew all of those by hand, without a pattern. I just melted some bittersweet chocolate, then I put it into a zip baggie--no need to waste those expensive disposable piping bags, then I piped it out onto wax paper and let it dry. The cappuccino cups are my favorite but they were very hard to transfer without breaking.

Strawberry Cupcake 1

These were strawberry cupcakes, made on a whim one Sunday night, that I decorated using my gradient frosting technique. The frosting is vanilla. I decorated them with various pink and white jimmies and non-perials.

Birthday Cupcake F
These were cupcakes I made for my friends birthday. They are vanilla cake with vanilla frosting, however the vanilla cake was colored 4 different neon colors and then marbled together in the cupcake cup. You can see a hint of it in the photo. I then decorated them with various types of sprinkles including crunchy rainbow, soft chocolate jimmies, praline crunch, and neon dinosaur confetti. Some had lots of sprinkles and some had very few. My friend loved them when I gave them to her in first period, and by 5th they were gone!

Some of the things that didn't get photographed: vanilla bean cheesecake, blackberry butter cream vanilla cupcakes, chocolate chip muffins, banana bread, espresso chocolate cake,apple pocket pie, blackberry tart, peanut butter cup cookie dough mini cupcakes, blueberry crumb pie, red velvet cupcakes, cupcake bites, and more.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Pictures are Coming!Here!

Cupcake Cookies
Ahh, yes. I know, I know. I have said pictures would be up many, many times. Well this week they will actually be put up. I even have the pics on my computer now!
I would have done it sooner, but school with AP exams, and then plain Honors exams, last projects, and getting everything in check with final grades, is a big time consumer. But guess what? School is out, for the summer! Ok well only partially for me as I have 2 summer assignments and a complete online class. I feel like I am repeating my self, like I have said this on the blog before. Excuse me if I am.

But now, I have much more time. Which means more blogging, more baking, and more time.

See, it has always been such a hassle to get the pictures up on the blog because I use my father's DSLR, so its not mine so I do not know how to upload the pictures on to my computer (nor would my bipolar computer let it anyways), so eventually when he uploads them to his computer, when it is not at work with him, I have to get the pictures on it, copy them to a thumb drive, take the drive to my computer load them on it (a feat in and of itself with this sorry excuse for a computer). Then I have to pick proper photos, upload them to a third party site and then put them back in to this blog.

Exhausting, I know, but its a labor of love.

UPDATE: Pictures are up so look on the homepage for various photos, on some posts!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Monkey Bread!

So, today I saw a recipe for monkey bread, which to tell you the truth I had no clue what it was until about 2 hours ago. I had heard of it before on, believe it or not, Beauty Shop --the movie. Ya know, the part where the crazy lady comes in with her soul food and acts like a monkey and stuff. You know what I'm talkin about.

Anyways so, I was on probably my new favorite cooking blog, The Pioneer Woman Cooks (more on her blog later), and she did a post on monkey bread. I then realized, the bread was not this odd or gross concoction I had imagined it to be but pretty much it was cinnamon a pull-apart. And its delicious.

The recipe I used is an adaptation from PW's and the one I found on Pillsbury's web site mostly adapted for size, although the ingredients are the same except I did not use buttermilk biscuits. Instead, I used homestyle small biscuits that came in a 4 pack of ten biscuits which is more physical biscuits although it equals less then the amount of weight of biscuits PW uses and the same as Pillsbury. I know confusing, but it works.

I made it the same way as Pillsbury states, I cut up each biscuit into 4 sections and put it in a bag tossed with white sugar and cinnamon. I then stuck it in a tube pan laced with PAM spray and then poured a thick mixture of brown sugar and butter on top. I popped it in the oven for probably around 35 minutes. I say probably because I put the timer on for 10 and then another 7 and then 10 then I put aluminum foil hat over it to keep the top from overly browning and then another 10, at least I think.

And then there was the whole pan debacle. See, I used this old tube pan that I had only used once before for an angel food cake that had a removable bottom. Well the pan leaked sugar-butter all over my oven. It smoked up a mess and went crazy burning and well this weekend I am going to have to seriously deep clean that thing. I would do it tonight but I am kind of intensely busy with school. I'm lucky to have time to write this, seriously after this its homework.

Anyways, moral of the story: Put a lipped pan under your tube pan.

Monkey Bread Recipe from Pioneer Woman, with her excellent step by step photos.
Pillsbury's Monkey Bread: I made it without walnuts

Yay! I finally uploaded a suitable picture.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


Well I made the cookies this weekend,no two weekends ago. I did make them in ice cream cone/cupcake shapes, however I only took pictures of the final cupcake ones although the ice cream cone ones were just darling [cuter than the cupcakes]. I made them out of the recipe I got from Cookie Craft [seriously, pick up a copy of this-its like the bible of cut-out cookies and all you can do with them].
Cupcake Cookie 1
The recipe calls for the zest of a whole lemon, and usually I like my sugar cookies slightly lemony but once you add the royal icing which has lemon in it [more on that later,] they turn into lemon cookies not sugar cookies, however the texture is just right they didn't spread at all in the oven and didn't burn easily. The book also includes a chocolate recipe, and nut cookie recipe.

Now onto the icing. I also used the royal icing recipe used in the book although usually I use the one out of my Martha Stewart's Cookies book. The one from Martha is only made with meringue powder, while in Cookie Craft they give you a recipe for meringue powder, liquid egg whites, and powdered egg white. I would have used any of them but meringue powder was what was in my pantry. In Craft, they also include two different quantities for each egg product, and a different recipe for flood and piping icing, which is something most recipes don't do. Martha's recipe only includes one quantity, and one consistency.
They also include the very helpful hint of how long you must beat your icing. Wow! I had been doing it very wrong. They recommend beating your icing for 5 minutes with a Kitchenaid, or like product, and 10 minutes with a hand mixer, which really really makes a difference in both your piping and flooding icing, although it is a pain in the butt to hold up your feeble hand mixer for 10 minutes.
Cupcake Cookies
Speaking of which, I so wish I had a Kitchenaid stand mixer. At first, I was being picking saying I wanted the Artisan model mostly for the colors [Hello, pink or baby blue!] ,but also for the bigger bowl and power.I used the ones in our school kitchens and they were a pain to get the bowl out because to lift it up you got the stuff on the spoon again. They had a crank-lift head. So now I have decided I just want a Kitchenaid even if it is their low end Classic model [ but still expensive in these times $150].
However I want an Artisan model for my birthday in July so hopefully I will get that because I have been baking at least once a week and using the hand mixer [ a cheap model I got for my birthday last year] for that. I have also been using the argument that the Kitchenaid will last a lifetime and is a great investment.
See my parents have a stand mixer, I think a Sunbeam, that is straight out of an 80s wedding catalog, almond and brown color scheme and all, that's also broken and badly designed. So I cant use that. Seriously, a kitchenaid is not an appliance, its a tool, and it has the quality to last.
Yay! I finally got one for my birthday!

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Best Mints on Earth!

Cupcake Mints!!

I know right, how amazing. I mean you guys know one of my favorite things to make are cupcakes. I was given these mints by my mom who came back from Denver on a trip. She told me that the mints were found in a variety shop selling cute novelty gifts. They are frosting flavor ( I have not tried them yet nor opened them), but I believe the mint is shaped like a cupcake too. I just think they are absolutely adorable and I just had to share.

UPDATE: I tried them and have a picture waiting to be posted. The mints aren't cupcake shape which is disappointing, just pellet shaped. But they do taste good! They taste mostly like marshmallow. But still , the tin is really what makes them adorable!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Cookies and Cream Fudge

Fudge. It's something I always thought was impossible to make at home and even though I wasn't / am not a big fan of the straight chocolate version, I was always sure to pick up a few squares of the cookies and cream version when I went to the fair or amusement park. I was looking up recipes for Oreo cupcakes ( I so plan to make those one day!) I found a recipe for Oreo fudge. It seemed easy enough so I decided I would at least try it.
Here is the recipe I used: Cookies and Cream Fudge

So I made it to the recipe to a T but if your going to use this recipe, USE MORE OREOS IN BIG CHUNKS AND A LOT OF THEM SHOULD HAVE THEIR CREAM TAKEN OUT. Sorry its in caps, but seriously it will make it taste so much better. As the recipe is stated, the fudge turns out to be tooth hurting sweet. I would also recommend cutting down the sugar at least a half cup but up to a full cup in a half, although the oreos would help cancel out some of the sweetness.

Also, like the recipe suggests, line the pan in aluminum foil it makes it a breeze getting the fudge out and on your counter so you can cut it ( Use a very sharp, long chef's knife that has been run through extremely hot water and wiped off). I made it in a 9 inch cake pan simply because it was what I had around,so the fudge was very thick which I am not a fan of so I cut it into very small chunks. I stored it in a Glad Container so it would not suck up fridge odors or get soggy.

The fudge turned out surprisingly creamy though, which is a texture I like. It does however still have a evaporated milk flavor which is not something I am quite fond of, but I am not sure if this recipe would work with fresh milk or if you could use sweetened condensed milk and skip the sugar and milk in the recipe altogether.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Love Cupcakes and Cookies!

Hi. Wow I am excited for this! I have been wanting to make a baking blog for about a year now. I kept putting it off because it seems like so much work! Well, after some much needed motivation and insisting by my friends and family, I bit the bullet and started it. Now on to the Baked Goods ( why you are probably here in the first place)!

Love Cupcakes and Cookies!

OK, well, they were actually valentines cookies and cupcakes, but, well I have been goin' non stop since V-day so this is really my first chance to post these. So now they are just baked goods for love! It still fits though, I know this will sound cheesy but one of the best ingredients in anything is L-O-V-E!

So I used Pillsbury DJustify Fullough Sheets already floured and rolled, bought right from the store. I always have such chance with roll-out cookies. I have tried using sugar cookie cut out recipes and the bag mixed variation to roll out, but alas with each no luck. I tried these however, not to make nice cookies but for a project where I needed a smooth surface to use Cookie Markers ( I did not know the wonders---and perils, but that's another post!--of Royal Icing) and thus cut them into shabby squares and drew on them. Anyways I realized they did not spread whatsoever when baking (as a good cut out cookie should) and was thus drawn to them.
Valentine Cookies 4
You can only get them at holiday times unfortunately! I have seem that at V-day, Halloween, Christmas, and Easter. And you can only freeze them for two months but I still stock up when I see them in store. They may or may not come with pre-made packets of icing as I have seen them both ways. The packages with icing come with 2 dough sheets about 1/4 inch thick and about a foot by 6 inches. The packages without icing come with 3 sheets the same size. The dough can be rerolled after the initial cut just make sure to use flour because it will stick and will spread more.
Valentine Cookies 3
I do not have pictures of the rolling process or the dough sheet as this is a backdated post but in future posts I promise I will!
Valentine Cookies 2
The royal icing recipe I used came straight from the Pages of Martha Stewart's Cookie book. Royal icing was as well I was having a hard time getting the recipe quite right. Do I use egg whites from an egg, egg whites from the bottle, or egg whites from a can? Do I use cream of tarter or lemon juice or vanilla extract or none at all? So many questions and so many different answers, it was hard to come up with a general consensus. I used 4 different royal icing recipes with none with total success-- one never harden, one was too thick and then too runny, one would not take on color and the other recipe made absolutely no success. I tried the one in the book and I'm not gonna lie I was skeptical, but it worked perfectly and tasted nice (well as nice as any royal icing can taste) and took on color perfectly. The consistency was right too! So I would recommend that recipe, which I think you can find Martha's Website,
Valentine Cookies 1
For the cookies I used various heart cutters of all sizes and in smooth and crinkly--you will see in the pics. I outlined and decorated with a pastry bag and filled and flowed with a squeeze bottle.

I am not by any means an experienced baker or even a careful baker. My lines are sloppy, my edges are drippy and my work area is messy. These may not be up to the level of some of the baking bests, i.e. Bakerella over at her blog ( seriously check her out, her baked goods are art and everything she does is so classy and sophisticated much like the other baking best, Martha Stewart. I mean I already mentioned one of her books so you know I must like her style. Anyways my point was, please, pardon my imperfections and mistakes. And my wordiness! :)

Anyways, now on to the cupcakes.

Again, these were made from a mix. I always buy the holiday funfetti cake mix- frosting combos because they are so cute and you get free sprinkles (again I will elaborate on another post). It was the day after V-days and I felt guilty for leaving a Valentines mix in the pantry when it was after V-day, so I whipped them up in about 30 minutes and change so the little box of mix wouldn't go unused and unloved.
Love Cupcake 3
I also broke out the holiday cupcake liners and sprinkles. I decorated the cupcakes simply, although I am a fan still of the ornate ( just not the time consumption). Luckily, the mix made exatly 13 cupakes which is just right for my cupcake stand I bought to display my works. See I never really understood the rule of 2/3 fill cup. Is 2/3 in the cupcake liner or 2/3 in the actual cup in the pan becuase there is a big diffrence so I have never gotten the full 24 cupcake load.
Love Cupcake 2
I tried using a gradient technique that I atleast had not heard of until I thought of it. Basically what you do is you put a sweep of thick icing in one color in the pastry bag and then a sweep of the other color(s) and then you pipe it out and you get a gradient tecnique that can be unpredictable but beautiful. It however did work out quite as obviously as I would have liked. See the icing out of the can was already a light pink and I wanted a gradient to hot pink but it was not that noticable. Oh well, it still turned out relatively nice. I also just used a cut ziploc bag for this as I did not want to waste a pastry bag for non-intricate designs.