Friday, May 29, 2009

More Cakepops!

The end-of-the-year school picnic is tonight and the occasion called for CAKEPOPS!

A collection of pops - some inspired by those at Bakerella, some I made up myself.

These went much better than the apples - mostly because I used better ingredients (Black Magic Cake and DeDe Wilson's Fudge Frosting from A Field Guide to Cupcakes) and Wilton Candy Melts, which are not as fancy as the Valrhona white chocolate, but they're much easier to work with.


Play Ball!

I used a food coloring pen for the laces - if I had more time/gumption,
I'd do them with royal icing

Cupcakes!

Bakerella has instructions for how to make these

Hello Kitty!

Max asked how she can be called "Hello" Kitty when she doesn't even have a mouth?

While you ponder that, you can see how to make these here



Have a nice day!

Teacups!

How cute are these?

I wish I had taken pictures of the steps to make these, but there they are. Feel free to email me if anything is confusing:

1. Line a 1-tablespoon measuring spoon with plastic wrap, with enough for a 3" or so overhang
2. Fill the spoon with Cakepop mush level with the top
3. Drape the excess plastic wrap over the top of the spoon
4. Gently press into the plastic wrap with a film can or small spice bottle with a diameter smaller than the tablespoon to make an impression.
5. Remove the plastic wrap and pop out the molded Cakepop mush. Freeze for 15-20 minutes.
6. Put the stick in the pop and dip in colored Candy Melts just as for other Cakepops.
7. When the candy is set, fill the teacup with chocolate candy melt to make the "tea" (use a pastry bag)
8. Decorate around the rim with Candy Melts - use a pastry bag with just a teeny snip or a #1 round tip.
9. To make the handle, pipe a small "c" shape on waxed paper and let it set, attach to the cup with Candy Melt.
10. Voila - teatime!

I've been thinking about teapots too, and have a couple of ideas....


"One lump or two?"


Cakepop Parade!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Don't Mess with Maxo


They boy's been working on a report on Texas for most of the semester. The child's now an expert on the Lone Star state. Did you know there was a Dr. Pepper Museum in Waco? He can tell you all about it....

I had some time to kill at the Ferry Building on Tuesday and while poking around at Sur La Table I found a Texas-shaped cookie cutter. What are the odds? It was in there with the cowboy boots and cactus. We'd been thinking about making chili for him to bring to class to go with his written and oral reports for Open House - but a Texas-shaped treat would be even better. I was thinking cookies, but the fellow at Sur La Table suggested cornbread - a great idea and much easier than rolling & cutting cookies.

I think the baking goddesses sent me that cutter, because when I got home I discovered that Open House was the NEXT DAY not the NEXT WEEK as I'd thought. Luckily, I had the ingredients for a batch of cornbread on hand and my newly-acquired cutter ready to go.

They were a big hit in class - and now I'm set for any other Texas-themed events that may come along. Maybe I'll have a party for the premier of the big-screen version of Dallas :)



Wednesday, May 20, 2009

These are your cupcakes....


These are your cupcakes on drugs....

Any questions?


See, what happened was - I was making cupcakes. Lemon cupcakes. Lemon cupcakes for the teachers at the boy's school. That same night I was also making cornbread and finishing up the cake pops and well... there was a lot going on in the kitchen and I grabbed the pancake mix instead of the flour. It can happen to anyone, right?

Especially when you keep you flour and pancake mix in identical containers

See what I mean?


Luckily, Maxo noticed what I was doing 1/2 way into the recipe - so it wasn't ALL pancake mix, but there was enough extra leavening in the batter that some of the cupcakes 'sploded.

But the ones that didn't were DELISH! Super light and tasty. Max thinks were onto something with this and wants to experiment with more flour-to-pancake mix ratios. Maybe topped with maple-flavored frosting and bacon sprinkles?

I'd been practicing the flowers that we'll be making in Wilton Course 2 - and oh are they pretty and fun to make! I topped each of the intact cupcakes with a single blossom and made a garden of treats.

Flower roll call:


Pansy

Daisy

Chrysanthemum

Rosebud

Daffodil

Apple Blossom

Primrose

Violet

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cakepops!!



I've been dying to make Bakerella's Cakepops since I first discovered her blog. They are the cutest things ever. I knew my next baking opportunity was the teacher appreciation lunch at Max's school, so I decided that my maiden voyage into the world of cakepoppery would be apples. I definitely learned a thing or two in the process.

What you do is take cake, mush it up with your fingers or a food processor, then mix it with frosting into a moldable paste. I used the leftover 1/2 layer of cake from when I made the Fairfax Theater and some of the frosting I use in the Wilton classes. I put the frozen cake in the food processor to crumble it, but in retrospect I'd have let it thaw first and used my hands. I also think I added too much frosting. But hey, you live and learn.



I rolled the mush into balls, and froze them for about 1/2 an hour. To make the apple shape, I rolled the bottom half into a cone shape.

Then I put the small end of the cone on the cookie sheet and pressed down with my fingers and the handle of a wooden spoon - this gave me a tapered look to the apples, a flat bottom and a pretty good approximation of the top of an apple. These went back into the freezer for about 15-20 minutes.



While the pops were freezing, I melted white chocolate. I had a 7oz bar of Valrhona white chocolate that my friend Deborah had given me (she does their PR - it pays to have friends in high places) I dipped the tip of the lollipop sticks in the melted chocolate and then stuck them in the pops. Then back to the freezer.

I added pretty much a whole tub of Wilton No-Taste Red food coloring to get it to the right shade. In retrospect, I would have used Red Candy Melts. Because the chocolate was kind of thick, I thinned it out with Paramount Crystals. These are waxy "flakes" that makes chocolate thinner and more elastic. I use it when I want to get a nice "splatter" effect on cakes and cookies.


It took a while to get the hang of dipping the pops in the chocolate, but I was able to get a smooth-ish surface after a while.

I chilled the pops again for a couple of days, and then added the leaves and stems. The leaves are fondant (more leftovers from the Fairfax Theater project) cut with a leaf-shaped cutter, and the stems are pieces of these fancy French chocolate twigs (thanks again Deborah!)



I wanted to bag them into lollipop bags - but the bags were a very tight fit, so I sliced each of the bags down the side and overlapped two over the pop -voila!

And I just knew those 100 6" x 6" foam squares I got from Freecycle would come in handy!

This was a super fun project - I think I may make some more for the end of school picnic next week - stay tuned!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Clownin' Around

Due to some scheduling conflicts, Melinda has a private class tonight. We had a great time chit-chatting and learning new tricks - and she made this adorable clown cake, with one clown for each of her kids - I have a feeling they're going to ask her to cut it right down the middle and give each of them half!

Now That Really Frosts My Cupcake!


I mean, really - it does. It's an easy white chocolate buttercream and quite yummy. I usually don't care for powdered sugar-based frostings, I find them to sweet and cloying, but this one has a smooth texture and luscious mouthfeel due to the addition of melted white chocolate.

If you've got access to luxurious white chocolate bars by all means use them, but this works just as well with chips. The finished frosting gets quite white, even with the addition of real butter, so you can color it and achieve bright, true hues.

White Chocolate Buttercream (courtesy of Baker's Chocolate)

6 oz white chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup cream or milk
1 cup cold unsalted butter
1 cup powdered sugar

Microwave the white chocolate and the cream/milk in a large microwaveable bowl on high for 1-1/2 minutes. Stir 1/2 way through cooking time. Stir until white chocolate is completely melted. Cool 30 minutes or until room temperature.

Beat butter and sugar gradually into the cooled white chocolate mixture with an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy.

Makes 3 to 3-1/2 cups


More from Marla

Another adorable Nurse Cake from Marla - so cute!

Friday, May 15, 2009

I'd like to thank.....


Why, thank you Monica at Bored Housewife for this lovely award! Here are the rules:


1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link. (Done!)

2) Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.


There's only one problem: Most of the blogs I read are pretty high-level (Project Rungay, Jezebel , Bakerella etc) with thousands of readers. So I'll list a few from ordinary folks like me, and when a new one pops up that I can't tear myself away from, I'll add them later. I know this isn't part of the rules, but its all I got for now.


Check 'em out:


Bored Housewife - my new friend Monica's true tales of life as a Marin SAHM

Somewhere I Have Never Travelled
- my friend Daphne makes art, reads books, cooks a lot and blogs about it all with heart & humor

CFS Warrior - Daphne's partner Terri is fighting Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Her somtimes heart-wrenching, mostly hopeful blog is chronicleing the journey.

Jennifer's Cakes - Jen was a student in one of my first Course 1 classes at Michaels. She's documenting her cake-ventures here.

Parentheticals - Julia's way to busy to post very often, but when she does its always a funny and/or insightful treat




Love, Loss and What I Baked: Only A Masquerade




My friend Julia's 40th birthday in January was the first of a LOT of 40th birthdays in 2009 among my circle of friends (including my own)

The year of milestones was kicked off with her Masquerade/Karaoke/Dessert Buffet party - what could be more fun? I love to doll up in costumes and despite my utter lack of talent, I love singing Karaoke too. And, I got to get some more use out of the mask I made for Mardi Gras way back in college, and the feather boas I picked up at a yard sale that I just knew would come in handy one day.

The party was a hoot and a half - I got two of my friends to join me on "Bad Girls" and "Express Yourself" and the treats on the dessert table were yummy.

The cake is Black Magic Cake, topped with Mocha Neoclassic Buttercream. I rolled the sided in chopped almonds, and topped them with a chocolate mask.

To make the mask, I found an image online and copied it 6 or 8 times onto a sheet of paper. I placed a sheet of waxed paper over the image, and piped melted chocolate over the outline. I filled it in with melted white chocolate into the outline to fill in the mask. To keep the chocolate from hardening while I was working, I used a heating pad. I folded it in half and tucked the bags in the middle wrapped in a dish towel.

I popped the chocolate pieces in the freezer to harden, and then peeled them off of the waxed paper. Then you flip them over and use the side that was on the paper. I added one of my horded gold dragees to the center for a touch of glam.

Why am I hording gold dragees? Because they are illegal in California. Yep, that's right - you can't buy them here and online companies will not ship them here. Why? Because a lawyer in Napa got it into his head that they are dangerous and started suing everyone from McCormick Spices to Martha Stewart to local cake decorating stores. You can read more about it here. So, if you have friends or family out of state, have them smuggle some in for you!




Monday, May 11, 2009

Love, Loss and What I Baked: The Prince's Castle


We had Max's 4th birthday party at Round Table Pizza in Novato. It's a great place for a party - there's a large indoor play structure that the kids can run around on. For the cost of a couple of pizzas everything's taken care of - no clean up or dishes for Mom. Sweet!

Since the theme of the place is King Arthur - I decided a castle cake was in order. I stacked two 8" squares for the main part of the cake, and baked batter in two Progresso soup cans for the turrets. (Is that what they're called? Turrets?) The towers are ice cream cones covered in blue buttercream.

For the doors, windows and bricks around the top, I used Dark Chocolate Dough. I love this stuff - it's tasty (like a really good Tootsie roll) super easy to roll out and work with, and freezes like a dream. I've used it to make all kinds of decorations - including bows for a present cake.

I achieved the brick effect using a #47 Basketweave Tip on the plain side (as opposed to the serrated side you usually see in basketweaving) piping out 1/2" bricks and alternating the rows.

The day before the party I was at the park with the boy thinking about finishing the cake later in the afternoon - then I spied a toy castle in the sandbox. It had a drawbridge. Drawbridge! My cake needed a drawbridge! Max had a Bob the Builder Play-Doh set that included a mold to make a 3"-ish rectangle of "wood." Perfect! I used that to mold a drawbridge that not only was the just the right size, but also had a faux bois pattern.

Of course, there's no point in a drawbridge without a moat, so I swirled one around the castle in blue buttercream. The rest of the baking sheet was filled in with crushed chocolate graham cracker "dirt."

My little prince loved his party and his cake

Dark Chocolate Dough

6 (1 cup) ounces chocolate chips
1/4 cup light corn syrup

Melt the chocolate and syrup in a double boiler over simmering water, stirring with a spatula until the mixture is smooth. Scrape the dough into a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap directly on the chocolate mixture. Let it sit up to 8 hours (the recipe I copied from a book I can't remember says not to put it in the fridge - but I do, just bring it to room temp before using)


Remove the dough from the bowl and kneed it a few times. You can mold it into shapes and flowers as is, or roll it out to cut into shapes. To roll it, pat the dough into a flat disk and roll it out between two sheets of waxed paper. Pull off the top sheet of waxed paper. If it is too sticky to pull off cleanly - stick it in the fridge for a few minutes.

Cut out shapes with a sharp knife.

White Chocolate Dough

6 oz (1 cup) white chocolate (I've used both chips and bars)
3-1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup

The procedure is pretty much the same as for the Dark Dough, but the recipe says you should put it in the fridge and bring it to room temp to use. If it's too hard to roll, put it in a warm place for a few minutes (or zap it on low for 15 seconds at a time)


Post-Graduate Work: Fun with Fondant

I'm so proud! Students from my April Course 1 have sent me photos of cakes they've made after class. Jen and Marla both experimented for the first time with fondant - and the results are delish:

Jen made this adorable Birthday Cake -I love the color scheme

Jen's documenting her cake-ventures on her blog

Marla made this cheery cake - I love the graphic look of the roses

Marla also made a cake for the nurses who cared for a friend - the little spray of roses at the base is super cute


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Hello Cupcakes!

After class today I did a demo of cupcakes using the tips and techniques taught in Course 1 - how cute are these?


These are details of two of my favorites

A little purse! I also did a pink purse on a white background

A lady who came by the demo said these were "very Martha Stewart" - I'll take that as a compliment!

Flower Finale - Saturday Class

My Saturday class created their finale cakes today - the ladies did such a great job!


Marla made a bunch of blue blooms

video

Then added finishing touches on her cake


Ta-da! This from a woman who didn't even own a mixer when she started class - bellissima!

Kelly added Sweet Peas and swags to her cake

video

Jen perfects pink roses


Another chic brown and pink cake - I love the shell/flower border on the bottom

I had so much fun teaching my first series of classes - I'm looking forward to more Course 1 in May - and then onto Course 2 in June!