Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cupcake a Week: Chocolate Chip

Chocolate can you go wrong with these lovely little morsels. Chocolate Chip cookies, chocolate chip ice cream....what about chocolate chip cupcakes? These are my all time favorite cupcake flavor! The cake is so moist and fluffy with just the right amount of chips inside and topped off with a buttercream icing and even more chocolate chips mixed in...sooo sooo good!

So what are you waiting for hurry up and whip up a batch of these tonight! I promise you will be eating more than just one!

This recipe comes from one of my favorites...Martha Stewart, check it out here.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Paul Frank Monkey Birthday Cake

Here's a Paul Frank Monkey themed birthday cake that I made for my friends Katie and Thomas sons' Joshua's 2nd Birthday! This is a 2 tiered yellow butter cake with vanilla buttercream frosting and fondant decorations.

Joshua LOVES the Paul Frank monkey line of clothing from Target, and every time he sees a monkey he says "EE-EE". So this clothing tag from one of his favorite shirts was the inspiration for his birthday cake!

First I found a graphic of the Paul Frank monkey on the internet and then enlarged it so I could print it out and use as a template for creating the face for the cake. I took some white fondant and dyed it a light brown to create the flesh color of the monkey face.

I traced around the monkey face print out using a sharp knife to create a total of 5 monkeys for the cake.

Next I took some black fondant and created the head and facial features.

And last, using red fondant I formed the big monkey mouth!

I tinted some more white fondant 2 shades of blue and cut out circles to be used for the birthday message on the cake.

This was the first time I had ever made a tiered cake! I've made many 2 and 3 layer cakes before, but never have I attempted to layer different size layered-cakes on top of one another! The bottom cake was two 8-inch layers that had 5 dowl rods for support placed inside. The top tier was two 6-inch layers. After I placed the top tier on the bottom tier I was a little nervous, hoping the bottom tier wouldn't collapse from the weight of the top tier. I know cakes are layered on top of each other all day long by professional bakers, but myself being an amateur just starting out I wasn't sure what to expect....thank goodness it all turned out ok and the cake didn't crumble to pieces!

Here's a close up of "Julius" the monkey on top of the cake!

The start of the fondant decorations around the cake.

Using a food safe marker I wrote on "Happy Birthday Joshua" on the fondant circles. Using a dab of water on a tiny paint brush I applied the fondant to the cake so they would stick.

I placed four more monkey's around the bottom tier of the cake.

Joshua and his parents just came by the house and personally gave me a Thank You card for the sweet is that! They said it was a hit at his birthday party today! He is the cutest little boy with blonde shaggy hair and a huge smile on his face! Joshua was wearing some new Paul Frank swim trunks he got today...they were orange, yellow and red plaid with the monkey sporting a pair of red cute!


Friday, January 22, 2010

Happy Birthday Margarita!

My friend Jennifer asked me to make a cake for her mother's 70th Birthday today! How could I refuse a chance to bake and decorate a cake, my new favorite hobby! The only requirements Jennifer gave me with this cake were that it can feed about 30 people and to make it feminine. Other than that she told me to be creative and to surprise her! My imagination started running wild, on how I could make a special cake for her mother Margarita's 70th birthday...what a special celebration. I haven't really made any celebration cakes before so my mind was running wild trying to come up with something simple, yet elegant at the same time. I started browsing some of my favorite cake and blog websites and quickly found something that caught my eye....fondant flowers!

One of my cake baking blogging friends, Evan had this great tutorial on her blog about how to make sugar flowers, check it out here. This was pretty much my third experience ever using fondant, so I was hoping to just come up with an end result that somewhat resembled Evan's beautiful pink layered flower! I got out my decorating supplies...white fondant, rolling pin, fondant rolling mat, fondant ball tool, flower-forming foam and some daisy shaped cookie cutters and had my computer set to Evan's blog page to walk me through this step by step.

First I rolled out the fondant and cut out the largest daisy shape. Then I cut it into half to create two halves of 3 petals each.

Next I cut out 2 more daisy shapes. To make the layered flower you need 3 different sizes of the same shape cookie cutter.

Next place the fondant cutout on the forming foam and using the fondant ball tool to go over the edges.

Then overlap the petal edges and stick together with a dab of water.

You will roll the edges of all three flower sizes.

To create the bottom layer of the flower, I used three 3-petal halves of the daisy shape. After you create each layer place it in the bottom of a plastic wrap lined bowl to allow to set up and dry. Place the medium size layer on top of the largest bottom layer and dab some water on the petals to hold them together. Then place the smallest flower on top following the same method.

Once you have all three layers of the flowers placed on top of each other add a round ball of fondant to create the center of the flower. Then add some flower stamens (you can get these at Michaels) around the flower center. The fondant flower is now finished!

I ended up making a total of four fondant flowers...2 larger ones and 2 slightly smaller ones. I made the flowers the night before I was going to add them to the cake so they could set up.

Now that my sugar flowers are ready it is time to decorate the cake! First of all I added a pink fondant ribbon around the edge of the cake to tie in the pink center of the flowers.

I placed the largest flower in the top left corner of the cake and on each side placed a slightly smaller flower.

I wanted to create an overlapping look with the three flowers. Now it's time to personalize this birthday girl's cake!

I was pretty nervous about writing on this cake...I mean this is the final step and the one that scares me the most b/c in an instant your cake could be ruined if you misspell a word, especially the name of the person who you are making the cake for.

I was pretty pleased with how the writing came out though. Using a pen and paper I could have never written this birthday message in cursive without starting and stopping after each letter, and even then it wouldn't have looked this flowy. There is something about writing with buttercream icing is just so smooth.

Well the birthday party that this cake is at is going on right this very moment, so hopefully everyone is enjoying the time they are spending with their loved one, Margarita on her special day!

P.S. I've got some exciting news! I just went and picked up my brand new CAMERA! I ordered a new Canon Rebel T1i after saving up my money for a few months and it just came in today. The battery is charging now so I'm sure by the end of the weekend you will see some new, better quality, more professional looking cake photos on my website. Be sure to check back at the end of the weekend...there is another birthday cake coming up...and this one will be featuring a monkey!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Cupcake a Week: 1-2-3-4 Cake with Marshmallow Creme Frosting

I can't believe it's already time for the third week of cupcakes in 2010! I was going through my collection of Paula Deen magazines this weekend, and writing down all the recipes I wanted to try this year and came across several really yummy cake ones. The recipe is called 1-2-3-4 Cake...sounds easy enough huh??? 1 cup of butter, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups self-rising flour and 4 large eggs...can't get any simpler than that. Of course there are a few more ingredients too, but this sounded pretty easy! And to top them off a batch of Marshamllow Creme frosting and some sprinkles of course!

Instead of the standard size cupcakes, I decided to make mini cupcakes this week. They are just so cute and bite size, you definitely can't eat just one. I just kept popping them into my mouth and before I knew it I had eaten 4 of them....but I figure that is probably the equivalent of 1 standard size cupcake right? You are going to LOVE these cupcakes, so hurry to your pantry and get out the 1-2-3-4 ingredients and whip up a batch now...I promise you won't be disappointed. These are some of the most moist cakes I have ever eaten and the marshmallow creme icing was simply delicious! I will definitely keep this cake and frosting recipe close by!

1-2-3-4 Cake (Paula Deen - May/June 2007 Magazine)

I made 24 mini cupcakes and two 6-inch cake layers with one batch of batter.

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
3 cups sifted self-rising flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place mini cupcake liners in cupcake tin. (This recipe will also make three 9-inch cake layers)
  • Using an electric mixer, beat butter until fluffy. Add sugar and continue to beat well for 6 to 8 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour and milk, alternately, to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Add vanilla and continue to beat until just mixed. Divide batter equally among cupcake liners.
  • Bake mini cupcakes for 14 minutes. (If you are baking three cake layers bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until done).
  • Cool in pans for 5 to 10 minutes and then place on cooling rack. Cool completely and ice with Marshmallow Creme Frosting.

Marshmallow Creme Frosting (Paula Deen - May/June 2007 Magazine)

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (7 oz) jar marshmallow creme
2 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk

  • In a medium bowl, combine butter and marshmallow creme. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixter until smooth.
  • Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar. Beat in vanilla and milk until spreadable consistency is reached.

Yesterday was my friend Renie's birthday so I wanted to make her a special cake too with half of the cake batter! I had just bought some new round cake pans so I figured I would use my 6-inch round pan and make a 2 layer cake!

How cute is this little individual sized cake?

Marshamallow Creme looks for some decorations!

My absolute favorite sprinkles are multi-colored non pareils...can't go wrong with these they are so colorful and festive!

And a personalized message on the cake board...Happy Birthday Renie!


Friday, January 15, 2010

Cupcake a Week: Mickey Mouse

This week's Cupcake a Week is a "Mickey Mouse" theme. I was in Disney World all last weekend coaching the Alabama Team in Training participants in the half and full marathons! I just so happened to go to Florida on one of the COLDEST weekends ever! The normal temperature this time of year in Orlando is in the low was in the high 20s in the mornings and got to the mid 40s later in the day while I was there.......bbbbbbrrrrr! I got to experience SNOW, yes you are reading this right, SNOW in Florida which was the first time in 30 years! It wasn't a lot of snow, but more just a combination of flurries, sleet and rain as we started off the half marathon on Saturday morning...either way it was frigid and wet! Cold and all, it was a great weekend and one that I will never forget. I got to meet new friends, run lot of miles (13.1 miles on Saturday and 26.2 miles on Sunday) and be a kid again roaming through all the Disney amusement parks getting my picture taken with the Disney Characters! I figured what better way to come home and celebrate a great weekend than with some Mickey Mouse cupcakes!

These cupcakes are super easy to make and would be great for a Disney themed kid's party! Just make a batch of your favorite flavor cupcakes and icing and then grab some black fondant to create the famous mouse ears! I used a circle cookie cutter I had to create Mickey's face and then the bottom of one of decorating tips to create the circles for his ears!

Mickey Mouse cupcakes in the making!

Next put some icing (I used traditional buttercream) in a piping bag with a large round tip and swirl it on top of the cupcakes! Gently press on the black fondant circles to create Mickey's face.

While I was in Disney, I just had to find myself something "Mickey" to bring back as a souvenir and I was so excited when I came across this red Mickey cookie cutter! Wow that is one large cookie cutter, but I know it is going to make some adorable cookies some day! All over Disney they have the famous mouse ears everywhere you look, hidden in the building architecture, on art work, souvenirs of course and also on super cute sweet confections! I couldn't help but take pictures of all the sweet treats I found with Mickey's signature ears all over them!

Gingerbreadmen Mickey's! What a clever idea!

Mickey ear jaw breakers!

Mickey Rice Krispie Treats on a stick!

and of course Mickey & Minnie chocolate covered apples! I'm thinking they probably used some marshmallows dipped in chocolate to create Mickey's ears and Minnie's red bow! Super Cute!

Here's a picture of Sarah (first time marathoner on left) and me with this really unique paint splattered Mickey statue!

And you can't leave Disney World without a picture of Mickey himself. I know I'm probably unrecognizable in all my layers of running clothes, but I just had to get a picture with the famous mouse and me wearing my "Will run for Cupcakes" headband....very appropriate!

Thanks for sharing in my Mickey adventures!
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