Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Matilda Jane Trunk Party Cookies

So I got invited to my first Matilda Jane trunk party last week. I had heard of Matilda Jane, sort of, but didn't really know what it was. Turns out it's super cute girls' clothing (big and little girls!).

I was asked to make themed cookies, so I had to do a little internet research. I found out later that when Matilda Jane releases a collection, if an item sells out they don't replace it. So at least one of the dresses I based my cookies on was not available by the time the party was held. D'OH!

Oh well, I still think they were cute.

This was the "Once Upon a Time" collection for fall, and I really enjoyed the colors. These took me out of my comfort zone, too. I tend to do cookies that are similar in style most of the time. These were definitely not my regular style, but they were fun.

The girl accompanied me to the trunk show, of course, and she had a wonderful time! She is ALL about clothes right now. *sigh* At 8 she is more fashionable than I have ever been.

Well, that's all for now.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Fall Sugar Cookies

Decorated sugar cookies for fall! Leaves, pumpkins, apples, and sunflowers. I saw a couple different versions of the trees on Pinterest and decided to give them a go.

I think the trees sort of pulled them all together.

Well, that's all for now.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

The chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting and ganache that I made last year was so popular that I turned it into cupcakes. Because, honestly, they're easier to deal with sometimes.

Go-to dark chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting and a ganache drizzle. Very tasty, if I do say so myself.

They're best if eaten with a fork. Just being honest.

The cake recipe is here. To make cupcakes, fill cupcake liners 1/2 full and bake in a 375 F oven for about 16 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

Here is the frosting recipe:

Peanut Butter Frosting

1 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy...not natural, sorry)
1/2 cup shortening
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 lbs powdered sugar
1/4 - 1/2 cup heavy cream

Mix butter, peanut butter, shortening, salt and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer until well-combined. Add the powdered sugar and mix until incorporated. Add cream until the frosting reaches the desired consistency. Beat for 5 minutes on high speed. Frost cupcakes and top with a drizzle of ganache.


6 oz dark chocolate
6 oz heavy cream

Chop chocolate and put in a stainless steel bowl. Set aside. Heat cream in a heavy saucepan until it just starts to bubble around the edges. Don't boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and whisk gently until the chocolate is completely melted and the cream is fully incorporated. It will take a few minutes. I use a disposable piping bag with just the very tip snipped off to drizzle.

That's all for now.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes

Because who doesn't like a nice orange creamsicle?

Nobody who enjoys summer, that's for sure.

Orange cupcakes with vanilla cream cheese filling and orange cream cheese frosting. Yum! The folks at work seemed to like them. :-)

That's all for now.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Old Fashioned Peach Cobbler - Revisited

Peach cobbler revisited...because this recipe is amazing and deserves to be reposted. I think I even got some pictures that were better than the first time around.

I know that peach season is mostly over, so you'll have to forgive me for posting this so late. I blame the computer; it's having some issues right now. :-(

*Before we get started, I would like to say that I only make this recipe with fresh peaches from the fruit farm (unless I'm using frozen peaches that I froze myself after buying them from the fruit farm). Grocery store peaches just aren't the same. So if you can find some fresh-picked peaches, use them to make this.  You won't regret it.*

Anyhoo, start by mixing peaches, cinnamon, and sugar together in a bowl. Set the bowl aside and let the ingredients mingle for a while.

Next, in a new bowl, take some shortening and some sugar and beat the tar out of them until they're good and fluffy.

Remember when I burned up my hand mixer making petit fours? Yeah, I still haven't replaced it. Now mix the flour, salt and baking powder into the shortening mixture, alternating with the milk, in three additions.

Spread that into the bottom of a nice casserole dish. 8 x 11 is a good size, but your cobbler will be a bit thin. You can (and should) go a little smaller if you can, just so the cobbler is thicker. (8 x 8 or 9 x 9 are way too small, though.)

Now spoon the peaches gently onto the batter.

Beautiful! And here's where you'll think I'm crazy. Boil one cup of water and drop in three tablespoons of cubed butter. Pour the whole thing onto your cobbler.

Trust me, it'll be fine. Now bake it in a 350 F oven for 45-55 minutes, or until it's golden brown and delicious. While it's still warm, serve the cobbler with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and revel in the summery goodness.

You won't regret it, I promise.

Here's the recipe:

Old Fashioned Peach Cobbler

5-6 peaches, peeled and sliced
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger (optional)
1/4 tsp cloves(optional)

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk

1 cup boiling water
3 Tbs butter, cubed

Mix peaches, sugar and spices and set aside.

Cream shortening and sugar.  Add flour, baking powder and salt, alternately with milk.  Spread mixture into a 8x11 baking dish.

Gently pour peaches evenly over batter.

Drop cubed butter into boiling water.  Pour over peaches.

Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 45-55 minutes or until golden brown and delicious.  Serve warm with ice cream or cream.

Well, that's all for now.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Mommy to Bee Decorated Sugar Cookies

Made for a friend's daughter's baby shower. The theme was Mommy to Bee.

These aren't colors I use regularly, but it was nice to do something different! There was a lot of black and some of the designs were wet-on-wet, so I made the icing with extra meringue powder, just in case. I've heard that extra meringue powder will stop bleeding. (Of course, for my regular royal icing recipe I've halved the amount of meringue powder I use, so really it was just the normal amount.)

But whatever the reason, it worked! There was no bleeding black icing, even with the white polka dots.

All bagged up and ready to go! I really have to start taking pictures before they're in the bags.

I think that's all of them. I'm going to be making more cookies in the next couple weeks, so hopefully I'll actually get them posted to the ol' blog. Maybe.

Well, that's all for now.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Chocolate Peppermint Christmas Cake

Welcome back to the blog! I know it's been a while, but that just seems to be how it is these days. :-)

I'm going to be teaching a baking class at my church in October, and I needed to decide early what I want to bake. We wanted something Christmas-y, since October is now (according to most American retailers) the beginning of the holiday season. After much vacillating, waffling, hemming and hawing, I decided on a chocolate cake with peppermint frosting. Because cake.

I tried really hard to take better pictures this time. I'm pretty sure I failed, but the effort was there, I promise! I even went on the internet to see how other bloggers staged their cakes for photos. I went down to my basement and found a white plate! THAT is dedication right there.

This is the same chocolate cake I always make because, really, it's the best.

Start out by gathering your stuff. Here's some of the stuff you'll need.

The first thing you'll do is to mix some boiling water and cocoa powder in a bowl or large measuring cup and whisk until smooth. Go ahead and let that cool. It will take a LONG time. You could even do this part the day before and put it in the fridge.

Second, mix the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together in a bowl and whisk to combine. I never sift; I whisk instead.

Moving right along, cream the butter and sugar for 4-5 minutes. Don't skimp on this part. In fact, now is a good time to get your baking pans ready. Go ahead, the mixer isn't going anywhere.

Grease and flour 2 8-inch round pans. I use homemade cake release, but shortening and flour work just fine, too.

Once the butter and sugar are good and fluffy add the eggs one at a time and blend thoroughly after each. Free tip of the day: Never crack your eggs directly into your mixing bowl. If you have a bad egg your batter will be ruined. Crack the eggs into a separate bowl, then add them to the mixer.

After the eggs are blended, add the vanilla and stir to combine.

Here's where things get a little weird. Take the mixing bowl off of the mixer and grab a nice wooden spoon. Add the flour mixture alternately with the cocoa mixture, beginning and ending with the flour in three batches. Stir by hand after each addition. (I do this because I tend to get a little carried away with the mixer. And cakes do NOT like to be over-mixed. Trust me.)

So it will be flour, cocoa, flour, cocoa, flour. When you're all done it will look like this here:

Stir it a few more times to get rid of the lumps, but don't overdo it. Be sure to get all of the batter from the bottom of the bowl mixed well. Use a rubber spatula if you have to. Now, divide your batter into the two cake pans you prepared while the butter and sugar were creaming.

Tap them firmly on the counter a few times to get the air bubbles to pop. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes and they should look like this:

Let them cool in the pans for 10 minutes, run a knife around the edge and pop them out of the pans and onto a cooling rack.

Once they're completely cool, cut the domes off and get ready to frost! Mmm...frosting...

Because this is a chocolate cake and I'm using white frosting, I went ahead and did a crumb coat. I don't always, just depends on the cake.

See, I even put it on a nice plate! After frosting, crush some candy canes, or, if it's late August, some Starlight mints, and sprinkle them liberally on the cake.

Now cut a big piece and enjoy yourself!

So, what do you think, is this Christmas-y enough? I certainly hope so.

Here's the recipe:

Dark Chocolate Cake

2 cups boiling water
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 1/4 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 Tbs vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F, grease and flour 2 8-inch round cake pans. Set aside. Combine boiling water and cocoa powder. Whisk until smooth. Set aside and allow to cool to at least room temperature. Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, whisk to combine. Set aside.

Cream together sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, for 4-5 minutes or until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Add the flour mixture alternately with the cocoa mixture in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and bake in a 350 F oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Peppermint Frosting

1 cup butter
1 cup shortening
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp peppermint extract (use more or less to taste)
2 lbs powdered sugar
1/4 - 1/2 cup heavy cream
Peppermint candies (crushed) for garnish

Mix butter, shortening, salt and peppermint extract in the bowl of a stand mixer until well-combined. Add the powdered sugar and mix until incorporated. Add cream until the frosting reaches the desired consistency. Beat for 5 minutes on high speed. Frost the cooled cake and garnish with crushed peppermint candies.

Well, that's all for now.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Graduation Cake for a Future Doctor!

My friend's daughter got accepted into medical school! She's going to be an Ob-Gyn, so my friend asked for a themed graduation cake.

I was fighting humidity again...I'm going to stop doing graduation cakes because I can't deal with the melting fondant. :-(

Anyhoo, strawberry cake with hand-sculpted fondant decorations.

That's all for now.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

OK, people. I would just like to say that I recently found a new recipe for chocolate chip cookies, and these cookies are the real deal.

I didn't have particularly high hopes. I didn't even take any pictures of the process. I mean, a chocolate chip cookie is a chocolate chip cookie, right? Maybe. Maybe not.

I have made these approximately 8 times since discovering them on Smitten Kitchen last month. (And yet, somehow, I still only have the one photo.)

Anyhoo, I tinkered with the recipe a little bit, just because that's who I am these days. The one thing I need to stress is that you should use a chocolate bar, cut into chunks. Chocolate chips work, but the cookies are better with chunks. So far I've used Ghiradelli, Hershey Special Dark, and a Spanish baking bar I received from a friend. If I could easily get the Spanish chocolate, I would use it again, but since I can't, I've been using the Hershey bar. It's bigger than the other and cheaper. And just as good.

I made these with gluten-free flour once, too; I added a scant half teaspoon of xanthan gum. They were delightful. Nobody could tell they were gluten-free.

And you don't have to use the raw sugar, but it gives the cookies a little something extra.

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
2 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs raw sugar
165 grams dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp baking soda
heaping 1/2 tsp sea salt
220 grams all-purpose flour
8 oz chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 360 F. (Yes, that says 360. It is not a typo.)

Mix butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

In the meantime, mix the flour, salt and soda in a small bowl. Set aside.

Add the egg to the butter and sugar and mix until combined. Stir in the vanilla. Pour in the flour mixture and stir until incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently fold in the chocolate chunks by hand.

Scoop cookies by 1 1/2 Tbs scoops onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 12 - 14 minutes. Makes about 24 cookies.

Well, that's all for now.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Teal, Yellow, and Gray Baby Shower Cookies

A friend had a baby shower and I got to bring cookies and cupcakes! We were very excited for her, as this baby has been a long time coming.

Unfortunately, I got ZERO good photos of the cookies. And I mean ZERO-er than normal.

Made some onesies...

Some bottles, rattles and bibs...

 A plaque or two...

And then I also made some cupcakes! I used my usual go-to chocolate cake, plus some white to go with them. Half the chocolate cupcakes were filled with dulce du leche (the ones with the dollops on top) and half of the white cupcakes were filled with lemon curd (also with the dollops on top). They were pretty darn tasty. Again, not a good photo, but you get the idea. They're cupcakes. :-)

The little one arrived a few weeks ago and mom and dad couldn't be happier!

Well, that's all for now.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Honda Odyssey Cookies

So this was kind of weird. A friend of my mom's asked me to make some Honda Odyssey cookies for her. Basically she was looking for an excuse to have a celebration, and she decided to throw her minivan a birthday party.

So, I present to you a 2004 Honda Odyssey in royal icing! On a candy corn cookie!

I ended up doing royal icing transfers for the vans. They weren't great, but they were recognizable, at least. And I'm happy to say that after about 30 RI transfers, I can spot an Odyssey from 100 paces. Or more.

Well, that's all for now.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Valentine Love Birds

The girl saw the Valentine Love Birds floating around the interwebs and decided she needed them for her class Valentine's Day party. (Yes, I do realize it's almost summer.)

Her teacher is (was) gluten-free, so I made them with gluten-free ingredients. They tasted pretty good. And they were cute.

I kept asking the girl if she wanted the birds to be pink and blue instead of the original white and blue, but she insisted they be exactly like the photos. I don't know if I got them exactly, but they're pretty close. And I got to use my new(ish) petal dust palette on the cheeks.

Well, that's all for now.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Mother's Day Flower Cookies

Now that it's almost Father's Day, it seems like a good time to post some Mother's Day cookies.

Lemon cookies with lemon royal icing. Three dozen, if memory serves, in some fun spring colors.

Well, that's all for now. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Penguin on an Angry Polar Bear Birthday Cake

The boy is mildly obsessed with penguins, what can I say? About half the time he wants a penguin on his birthday cake. And since he's my boy, I humor him.

So we saw the penguin cake on Pinterest and copied it, only he wanted it to be blue instead of black. I still don't know why.

Then he couldn't think of anything to put on the bottom cake, and he really wanted there to be a bottom cake. Since the day of his party was getting close, I suggested an angry polar bear face. He agreed (though he had his doubts) and I think it came out ok. It was definitely unique!

We had a combined party for both kids this year and the girl wanted a cat cake. First she wanted a cheetah, because she loves cheetahs, but then she saw a cat cake on Pinterest (I know, I know) and changed her mind. Which was good for me because it was the easiest cake ever.

And here they are together:

Not a bad day's work if I do say so myself. The penguin was coconut cake, the polar bear was lemon chiffon (it was amazing, I'll post the recipe sometime), and the cat was eggless chocolate cake, and it was actually very good. It's an old depression-era recipe. I'll post that one sometime, too, in case you know a vegan or someone with an egg allergy that still wants to have cake.

Well, that's all for now.