Monday, March 28, 2011

April Fool's Day & Giveaway

Whats better than a little April Fool's Day prank? These are cookies, even the plate!!!

This was a really fun project and you can go as simple or as complicated as you want to go. These bacon and fried egg cookies could be served on a regular plate too...or you can just make the eggs.

So, here's how to make the eggs. Make your favorite sugar cookies. Roll out the dough and cut out various blob shapes. Then roll quarter size balls out of some of the dough and flatten it with your palm slightly. Bake the cookies and let cool. Make your royal icing and separate some out to be made into yellow. Place your "egg yolk" cookies on a cooling rack and spoon yellow royal icing over top. Once the excess icing has dripped off (and before they start to dry) transfer the "egg yolks" carefully to a peice of wax paper. Let yolks dry to touch.

Next, put the "egg whites" onto a clean cooling rack and spoon white icing over top. Follow the same process as before, let excess drip off and then transfer to a clean peice of wax paper. Drop an "egg yolk" onto the "egg white" and let dry to touch. Super easy and a perfect gag for your friends and family!

Want to make the bacon? Take some sugar cookie dough and divide it into three parts. Color part a light reddish brown color and one a darker reddish brown color. Leave the third part "white". Roll a quarter sized peice of each color into a long strip. Take the three strips and roll the together horizontally. Be careful to not roll them too much, just enough to combine the doughs. Gently roll out the dough with a rolling pin into a bacon strip size. Transfer the strips to a cookie sheet and wrinkle dough to make look like fried bacon. Bake and VOILA! Tricky bacon cookie pranks! If you want to go the extra mile and make the plate, its not hard to bake but the icing part is much harder. You will need a plate that is oven safe. I used one of Williams-Sonoma's Everyday dinnerware. Roll out a large piece of sugar cookie dough and place on your oven-safe plate. Press the dough into the plate to form the shape of the plate. Then bake the dough on the plate. Once the cookie is completely cooled, gently remove from the plate. I dipped the plate into a large bowl of royal icing, doing both sides at once, but it may be easier to do one side at a time. After the royal icing dried, I dry brushed more food coloring on the "plate" to make it look like a handcrafted piece of pottery. Now its GIVEAWAY time!!!!!

Remember those awesome St. Patricks Cupcakes with the Cupcake Creations liners? Well, the company has given me seven packages (I have two of #5) of liners to giveway to my readers! If you want to win a package of these fabulous cupcake liners...

1) "Follow" my blog (on the right side of the page)

2) "Subscribe" to my blog (at the bottom of the page)

3) Finally, leave a comment to this post saying that you've "Subscribed" and "Followed" my blog and tell me which Cupcake Creations liners you would like to receive along with your email address.

I will choose 7 winners at random using on Sunday April 3, 2011. I will try my best to send winners thier desired cupcake liners, but prizes will be dependent upon the requests and the order of prize drawing. Entries that do not "Follow", "Subscribe" and leave an email address will be disqualified.

Good Luck and Happy April Fool's Day!

Sweet Charity

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Shamrock Delights

I love to bargain shop for interesting baking supplies. I always find cute and useful items that are reasonably priced and get my creative juices flowing. On Friday, I found Paula Deen cupcake pans at Ollies, that will replace my old rusty set. Then at TJ Maxx I found some really great cupcake liners that are extra thick made by Cupcake Creations.
St Patrick's Day is coming and I wanted to make something cute with my my bargain finds that would also use some Irish products. I thought I would make a Guinness cake with Baileys buttercream, but when I went to the store I found some other brands of Stout and Irish Cream made in Ireland that I thought I would give a try.

Kevin and I did a blind taste test to try out the Irish Cream, comparing Baileys to Carolans. Surprisingly, we both thought that the Carolans was better. It had better flavor, although a little thinner in texture/ At half the price , Carolans can't be beat. For the stout we used O'haras. No taste test here because I don't drink beer. (That's right, no green beer for me. Instead I'll take green Irish Cream spiked frosting!!!!)

The Chocolate Stout Cake recipe I used is from Epicurious and was easy to make. My mom and I usually use the recipe on the back of the Hersheys box, but this was even better. So moist and rich and most likely fool proof since I normally can't make a cake to save my life! I made the batter with Penzey's Dutch processed cocoa. Once upon I time I would use the Hershey's Dutch Processed Cocoa, but lately its been hard to find in stores. You can order Penzey's online, but if you live in the DC metro area, there is a store in Falls Church, VA.

While the cake was baking, I made shamrocks to make this project fancy and festive. This is a very easy project, if you just have a few items. I started out by printing out a sheet of shamrock pictures, which I taped under wax paper on a cookie sheet.

To make the shamrocks, you'll need a good semisweet chocolate, green candy melts and a couple of plastic bottles. I love the small decorator bottles because you can choose the size tip you want.

Break up the chocolate if you are not using candy melts and place in microwave safe bowls. Microwave on the defrost setting of your microwave at one minute intervals, stirring frequently. After the chocolate is melted fill the plastic bottles.

Pipe the dark chocolate outline leaving the center of the leaves open. Only do 2 to 3 shamrocks at a time to prevent them from setting up too quickly.

Fill the inside of the leaves with the green chocolate. The leaves are almost heart shaped, so when piping keep it simple and easy by dragging the bottle in a V shape. If you have a holiday in the chocolate, use a toothpick to spread the chocolate. Do not tap the pan, as the chocolate will spread and ruin the crisp shape.

To combine the colors, drag a toothpick through the dark chocolate into the green, starting at the indent of the leaves. Start with the left leaf, pulling into the center. Move onto the right leaf, cleaning the toothpick with a paper towel after each swipe. Finish with the top leaf dragging into the middle of the stem. Let the shamrocks set up at room temperature or transfer to the refrigerator for a few minutes.

Here are the cakes before decorating. I actually made the layers with pans that are a couple inches smaller than the typical 8/9 inch size. This made it so I could make a nice sized cake and cupcakes with the same batch of batter. The new cupcake liner I got were so wonderful because the liner did not get oily when baking.

The buttercream was made with the Carolans Irish Cream. So easy....3 sticks of salted butter, one 32 oz bag of confectioners sugar and Irish Cream to taste. I wanted a very soft consistency, so I used a lot! I started out with a couple tablespoons, but in the end I might have used more than a quarter of a cup! I colored the icing green and swirled it onto the cupcakes, sprinkled the frosting with chocolate jimmies and topped off each confection with a shamrock.

Here's the finished cake. I need to practice my piping skills, but overall I am very happy to have out-witted my cake curse. I also made Guinness ice cream which I will sample with the sous chef (I mean husband) when we cut into this luscious cake tomorrow night. I think I might just skip dinner tomorrow!

Happy Baking!

Sweet Charity

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mardi Gras Cupcakes Gone Wild!!!!

Warning!!!! Naughty cupcakes below!

For all of you that are reading my blog and assuming that baking is always easy for me, let this last minute entry prove you wrong. I decided weeks ago to make Mardi Gras Cupcakes... I started planning, buying molds, supplies etc. Then, my well meaning husband told me about this local cake contest...

Let me back track a little. I have this curse. Seriously, a witch cast a spell on me forever dooming every cake I bake... I even have trouble with the boxed ones. I can make almost anything else, pies, cookies, cupcakes, candy. I can even cook, but cakes are my nemesis.

So my husband calls me on Wednesday from work and tells me about this cake contest that has just been announced that is taking place on Saturday. So I am like, "honey, I can't make cakes, plus I have these Mardi Gras girls to make". He then basically eggs me on and tells me it would be good for the blog...

I am not one to back down to a challenge, so I turn all cake boss and plan this cake with three scenes, done in fondant (which I have never used on a cake).

Long story short, by mid Friday I had 6 collapsing layers of lemon chiffon cake with a sloppy wrinkled fondant covering... So, with my tail between my legs, I gave up.

By this time the kitchen is a disaster, but I still have to make Mardi Gras cupcakes... I planned to make the tops out of cakeballs and dip them in candy coating. The cakeballs came out great with the mold but when I dipped them, they fell apart. The few that stayed intact cracked.

So again I gave up...

Luckily, I am not a complete quitter. The cupcakes below were my last ditch effort to create naughty cupcakes gone wild. I abandoned the cakeballs and used fondant, which although less appetizing looks cute.

I have been to New Orleans and partaken in the jazz, hurricane drinks and beignets but I've never been to Mardi Gras. I have to say that with the tales I have heard from friends I think I would rather celebrate Fat Tuesday from afar...except...

...for the boobs! Breasts are a wonderful thing to be admired and adorned... So these luscious cupcakes are dedicated to everyone who loves boobs or who has celebrated Mardi Gras...especially that wonderful blond fellow on the West Coast, you know who you are...

So whether or not you plan to take part in all the raucous festivities, raise a glass today to all those women who are baring boobs for beads!

Happy Baking!
Sweet Charity