Friday, December 31, 2010

Cupcake a Week: Pink Monograms & Top 10 of 2010

Well it's officially my last "Cupcake a Week" post for 2010. I can't believe I have posted 52 weeks of cupcakes this year...and probably have gained about 10 pounds because of it too! In case you haven't been around all year, here are my Top 10 of 2010...Lemon Blueberry, Neapolitan, Jammin' Strawberry & Chocolate, Caramel Apple, Spooky Spiders, Sprinkles Inspired, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cones, Hamburgers, Pumpkin Cupcake Skewers, and Red Velvet Cones. I hope you all have enjoyed my cupcake recipes and decorating ideas and have found inspiration for your own cupcake baking!

This last batch of cupcakes is super special because they were made for my cousin Suzi in celebration of her brand new baby girl Hannah Elisabeth born on Dec 23rd. You all may remember the Cute as a Button baby shower I hosted for Suzi back in November. Well the precious little girl has arrived.

So in honor of little Hannah my last cupcake post for the year are some pretty pink cupcakes with royal icing & nonpareil "H" monograms. And since she is so cute I thought I would share some pictures with you.

Meet Hannah Elisabeth...

1 day old at the hospital in her Christmas hat. So sweet!

1 week old with eyes wide open! Pretty in pink!

Lounging on daddy's legs.

The proud parents! What a beautiful family! Congratulations Suzi & Tony, Hannah is adorable! I know she will bring you bundles of joy in the New Year!

Happy New Year to all! Looking forward to more sweets in 2011!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Gingerbread Peppermint Bark

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! I was lucky enough to have a white Christmas this year, the snow was beautiful! As usual, I overdosed on cookies, cakes and pies. Thank goodness for kickboxing these past 2 days to help burn some of those holiday calories! Before we head into the New Year I wanted to leave you with one last holiday dessert post!

My nieces and nephews favorite holiday treat is peppermint bark. Over Thanksgiving they were requesting some bark for Christmas, so as promised I fulfilled their wishes, only this year I added a special twist. I'm sure these gingerbread chocolates have already been devoured, but they are just too cute that I had to post the recipe with you even though Christmas is over!

I bought gingerbread cookie cutters, and layered them with milk chocolate on the bottom. Then added a layer of white chocolate on top that had crushed candy canes.

Then added sprinkles for buttons and eyes!

I love how these cute little gingerbread turned out.

Once the chocolate has hardened you just pop out the gingerbread chocolate bark from the cookie cutter.

For shipping purposes I left the chocolate bark inside the gingerbread cookie cutters. This way the cutter doubles as cute packaging and also the kids can use the cutters later to make some cookies!

Gingerbread Peppermint Bark

-10 gingerbread cookie cutters (or desired shape)
-1 package Milk Chocolate Almond Bark
-1 package White Chocolate Almond Bark
-6 crushed candy canes

  • Line baking sheets with wax paper.
  • Place cookie cutters on prepared baking sheets.
  • Melt Milk Chocolate Almond Bark as package directs and pour into cookie cutter about 1/3 of the way up the side. Allow chocolate to harden.
  • Melt White Chocolate Almond Bark as package directs and mix in crushed candy canes.
  • Pour White Chocolate & candy cane mixture into cookie cutter on top of Milk Chocolate layer.
  • Place sprinkles on top of peppermint layer to make eyes and buttons.
  • Allow bark to completely harden before trying to remove from cookie cutter. To remove from cutter gently press from the bottom and push up, the chocolate should come out easily.
  • Or keep bark in cutters an package up to give as gifts!
Thanks so much for all your support and comments in 2010. I'm looking forward to sharing more sweets with you all in 2011. There's also a blog redesign in the works that I'm hoping will be finalized soon, can't wait to share the new look with you!

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Cupcake a Week: Christmas Tree

Merry Christmas Eve! By now I'm sure you all have your trees decked out with strands of sparking lights and colorful ornaments...and if you don't you better hurry before Santa comes tonight! I have really enjoyed sitting by our tree nightly this month and looking at its bright lights and unwinding from the day. I'm going to be sad to take it down and pack away all our beautiful ornaments next week.

The Christmas tree is one of my favorite holiday symbols so I thought it would be fun to create an edible one out of cupcakes.

Bake a batch of cupcakes. These happen to be red velvet. Arrange them in a tree shape.

Frost with green icing.

Add some rainbow nonpareils for the lights.

Then decorate with fondant ornaments!

You've got one beautifully delicious Christmas tree!

I hope Santa brings you lots of goodies tonight under your tree!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Tree Sugar Cookies

Sugar cookies are definitely one of my favorite Christmas desserts. The possibilities are endless depending on the cookie cutter shapes, icing colors and sprinkles that you choose to decorate with. This year I decided to take a modern approach to my cookie decorating. By adding some lime green and pink to the traditional red & green color palette it gives the cookies a fresh new look!

Just by having the cookie jar stocked full of cookies decorated in bright colors has made me happy every time I walk into the kitchen. It is for sure an edible holiday centerpiece! I'm sorry to say that only crumbs are remaining in the jar now.

To decorate the cookies I used royal icing and thinned it down just enough so that I could use the same consistency to pipe a border of icing without it running over the edge and still was able to flood the centers with the same consistency icing as well. This technique allowed me to save some time decorating since I didn't have to trace the borders of each cookie using a piping bag and allow them to try before coming back and flooding. I really like how the cookies turned out, they are whimsical and free form, definitely not perfect but oh so yummy!

Sugar Cookies (makes about 3 dozen)

-3 cups all-purpose flour
-2 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp salt
-1 cup sugar
-2 sticks unsalted butter, cold, cut into chunks
-1 egg
-3/4 tsp vanilla extract
-1/4 tsp almond extract

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in bowl and set aside.
  • In the bowl of a mixer cream the sugar and butter well.
  • Add the egg and extracts to the butter mixture and mix well.
  • Gradually add the flour mixture, scraping down the bowl as necessary as mixing.
  • Grab a ball of dough and knead it together.
  • Roll dough out onto floured surface and cut into desired shapes.
  • Place cookies on prepared baking sheets and place in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. This will prevent the cookies from spreading when baking.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  • Allow cookies to cool 5 minutes on cookie sheets then transfer to wire racks to completely cool.
Decorate with Royal Icing.

When decorating cookies I plan out the colors I will be using ahead of time (for these cookies I used: green, lime green, pink, red). I separate the batch of royal icing into individual plastic containers with lids for each color of icing I plan to make. I then color each container of icing and thin it down with a 1/2 tsp of water at a time stirring after each addition until I reach the desired consistency for decorating. I transfer the icing into plastic squeeze bottles with a nozzle on top and use for decorating.

What's your favorite Christmas cookie to eat and/or decorate?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Chocolate & Peppermint Candy Cane Cake Balls

I still can't get enough of chocolate and peppermint this year! You may remember my Chocolate & Peppermint Whoopie Pies. I thought those were melt in your mouth delicious, but I think these Chocolate & Peppermint Candy Cane Cake Balls just one-upped them. I have been popping these into my mouth one after another, I'm addicted.

If you are looking for the perfect dessert for your Christmas party, this is absolutely the one you must make! I have taken these to two parties this past week and this is the one dessert that gets completely devoured in no time!

So here's what you need:

1. Chocolate Cake Recipe: I used Maratha Stewart's One Bowl Chocolate, a box mix would work just as well

2.Peppermint Buttercream: recipe from my Chocolate & Peppermint Whoopie Pies

3.White Chocolate Candy Melts: 2 bags, you can buy them at your local craft store

4.Candy Canes: 6-8 crushed for garnish

  • Bake cake per desired recipe in a 9x13 pan. Once cake cools cut into large chunks and grind up in food processor to fine crumbs. Pour cake crumbs into large bowl.
  • Add about 1 - 1 1/2 cups peppermint buttercream to cake crumbs and mix with spatula until cake will form into a ball. Roll cake balls and place onto wax paper lined cookie sheet.
  • Melt 2 bags of candy melts in microwave per package directions.
  • Using a spoon gently place cake ball into melted chocolate and roll around to cover completely. Remove cake ball with spoon, lightly tapping off excess chocolate back into the bowl and placing ball on cookie sheet. Garnish with crushed candy cane.
  • This will make about 50 cake balls.
These are so good and I want to share them with my family, but since I promised my husband I wouldn't do any baking while we are in KY I might have to convince my sister to make these for me. Emily if you are reading this, will you please please please make these cake balls for Christmas Eve! Pretty please with Candy Canes on top?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tis the season for baking!

My kitchen is officially cleaned up and "closed" for Christmas baking this year! Whew! There has been more butter, sugar and flour in the last week than probably the last few months of my baking combined! But all the hours in the kitchen, rotating cookies in and out of the oven, icing cupcakes and doing the dirty work of washing dishes has been completely worth it! This is my absolute favorite time of the year to bake and I have enjoyed sharing my sweets with neighbors and friends and hosting holiday parties!

We are packing up and starting our 11 hour trip to KY tomorrow to visit my family for Christmas and I have promised Randolph that this year there will be absolutely positively NO BAKING while we are there! So lucky for you, I had a marathon week of baking last week that I have enough photos and recipes to share with you through the end of December!

Last week I made all the desserts for a launch party for my friend Stephanie's new catering business! Stephanie recently started Bella's Bistro to pursue her love of cooking. Her focus is on Italian cuisine and let me just say her lasagna is Amazing! She recently won first place in the Mama Mia cook off in Daphne, AL for her Eggplant Caponata. I tasted this last week at her premier event and it was delicious! So if you live in Mobile, Daphne or any neighboring cities in Alabama keep Bella's Bistro in mind for your holiday parties, weddings, baby showers, etc. You are going to love what her menu has to offer!

Since Stephanie's love is for cooking and not baking, she asked me if I would be interested in making the desserts! Of course my response was YES! She gave me complete freedom to do whatever desserts I wanted, the only thing was I needed to have enough to feed around 200 people! WOW 200 people, I don't think I have ever baked for that large of a crowd before! So I tied on my apron and rolled dough, cut out and iced sugar cookies like it was my full time job.

In addition to cookies, I made cupcakes (from this post) and cake pops and cranked out enough desserts for an army! Let's just say I went a little overboard and had lots of leftovers. Lucky for me I have neighbors who are always willing to take sweets off my hands!

So here's a look at all the desserts I made for the party. Check back the rest of the week as I will post recipes for everything! I'll let the pictures speak for themselves right now!

I'm not sure if I made enough cookies...what do you think???

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tacky Sweater Christmas Party

Introducing our new Christmas look: "tacky sweaters", complete with snowflake turtlenecks! Last night my Team in Training marathon group had a tacky sweater Christmas party and this was our attire for the evening! And yes, Randolph is all decked out in a woman's sweater and turtleneck, what a trooper! I must say he pulled it off well, that sweater is classic with all the snowmen and sequins! I found both our sweaters at a local consignment shop and the turtlenecks came from Walmart! I think I will keep these around in our wardrobe for future parties!

Sugar cookies and cake balls I took to the party!

Here's a look at all the other tacky sweaters!

Paul & Jessica

Top: Debbie, Heather, Dana, Mary Kendall, Kimee, Katie, Ashton
Bottom: Heather, Me

Thomas & Katie

Heather & Me

Me & Randolph

Beth & Melissa
Now this is one tacky the dog "stockings" for boots and all the tinsel

Heather & Thomas signing karaoke Christmas carols
I must admit I did sing some Mariah Carey "All I want for Christmas Is You Baby"

Kimee & Stanton

Jamie & Susan
her sweater was handmade with a strand of Christmas lights and a battery pack underneath to make them glow or to flash - what a clever idea!

Girls: Katie, Beth, Jennifer
Guys: Brian, Thomas

Love the dueling female sweater vests!

Merry Christmas from the tacky sweater gang!
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