Thursday, February 21, 2008

Bake Sale....Coming Soon To A School Near You

Photo Courtesy Martha Stewart

Phew! It sure has been too long since my last post. I have the winter blues because the snow just won't stop piling up here in West Michigan. We are looking at record snowfall this year which makes life tough just getting out to the store. I am seriously lacking on my baking. However, I did bake some homemade brownies last week. Somewhat boring but I switched up my regular Hershey's cocoa for a mix of Dutch cocoa and American cocoa.

What's the diff you ask? The Dutch version has alkali added to neutralize it's acids. I don't know all the science behind it, but it is much more bitter tasting than the American cocoa powder. So beware! My hot cocoa recipe that I posted earlier was waaaay stronger with the Dutch cocoa powder.

I am coming up with some ideas for a bake sale that I am participating in next week. While browsing for ideas, Martha's year of cakes popped up. I love that idea, and I have had a goal of creating one really fabulous (decorated) cake each month. Check out
Martha's list of cakes to make for the year!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Adult Hot Cocoa

As a follow-up to the kids hot cocoa I made yesterday, I found this recipe for a Spiked Jones at Martha. It combines the best flavors of coffee, Kahlua and chocolate for those of you interested in a Triple Shot of Love!

Here is her recipe:

1/2 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup whole coffee beans
2 ounces semisweet chocolate (61% Valrhona), chopped
2 tablespoons Kahlua
1 teaspoon confectioner's sugar
1 tablespoon dark chocolate-covered coffee beans, chopped
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine milk, 1/2 cup cream, and whole coffee beans. Bring to a simmer, turn off heat, cover, and steep beans for 1 hour. Strain liquid and return to saucepan; discard beans. Bring the milk-and-cream mixture back to a simmer, add chocolate, and whisk until incorporated. Remove from heat; whisk in Kahlua. Whip remaining 1/2 cup cream and the confectioners' sugar until soft peaks form. Divide the hot chocolate between two cups and garnish each portion with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkling of chopped chocolate-covered coffee beans.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Mini Oatmeal Creme Pies

I am very into the Mini's these days. Mini cupcakes, mini pastries, and even mini whoopie pies. Yesterday I had some extra buttercream and decided to make some Mini Oatmeal Cream Pies. I used a teaspoon scoop for the cookies and a swirl of my tasty buttercream in the middle. They were absolutely de-lish! I had a hard time staying away from them....

I have to comment on my other pic here. The Domino sugar was wonderful! I have complained for years about sugar and flour coming in bags. I am going to have to figure out a storage system as I buy more in bulk, but for the average home baker who does not use that much flour or sugar, really, can some far thinking packaging designer come up with a better method than the bag? Am I really the only baker who loathes The Bag?? Bags are just so awkward and so when I finally opened this Domino Sugar container a heavenly chorus went off in my head. I do believe the sugar container is recyclable which was my reasoning as to why our dear sugar and flour manufacturers had not come up with something besides The Bag. Onto another tangent.

I love miniatures. So many people are loving mini-desserts these days. I love Tartelette, as you can see from my favorite things, and just realized late last night that she and Karen of Hot Potato are on a Mini Pie Revolution. They have a contest going for best Mini Pie that was due today. Uggh! Guess I missed this second contest for Mini Pies, but I will be on the lookout for the next contest. My husband has fond memories of his grandmother's Mini Lemon Tarts and Pecan Tassies, which has motivated me to re-create some Mini's of my own.

Magnolia Bakery Red Velvet Cupcakes

Just in time for V-Day, I found this video from Magnolia Bakery, and thought others might like to check it out. I have never personally made red velvet but hope to try soon. This is a great tutorial on how the pro's do it!

Beat The Cold

So, I whipped up a batch of hot cocoa for the kids today. My husband was taking them sledding so that I could study when we realized we were out of the mix stuff. We had a little cocoa powder left, so I jumped online and found this recipe.
Call me crazy but I didn't think of ever making homemade cocoa. I knew I had a winner when, unprompted, my six year old told me the cocoa was the "best ever". It's official, I am done buying the pre-mixed version.
I think the next logical step would be to add some lovely adult filler. Any ideas would be appreciated!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Jennifer Lanne Originals

Isn't her work amazing? I was throwing out old magazines (they are very hard to part with for me) and came across an article about her in Country Living Magazine. Jennifer and her husband live on a farm in upstate New York where she has a studio and creates her beautiful artwork. She is very organic in her work and life, and that all spills over into her art. I especially enjoy the greens and reds she uses in her work.

Never fear friends, I am going to be busy baking today and will share my outcomes with you very soon. What else is there to do when it won't stop snowing? I have not seen this much snow in West Michigan since my college days.....

Monday, February 4, 2008

My Little Cupcake

Honestly I never thought I would want an apron. I have one somewhere stashed away in my hope chest that was worn by my grandmother on the memorable holidays of my youth. All this baking I do makes me want to wipe my hands constantly and my dishtowels are quickly wearing thin. Etsy to the rescue! I really loved this apron especially though, because it is for the younger set. The above apron was posted by Boojiboo and there is also one available for us bigger bakers.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Ode to Olivia

These are some pics from my daughter's recent birthday party. The cake at the top is not my original version. My ten year old twins and their friend decided to jazz it up a bit. The bottom cake is my cake, although (can you believe it) my ten year old daughter did those two roses. The birthday girl originally wanted a Bratz birthday party, and I had an edible image of Bratz to put on the cake, but she and her brother could not keep from touching it and it broke apart. We decided to make the party a "pink princess, pinkalish (her words)" party because she is a pink princess. She wants everything in her life to be pink. She wants a pink house when she grows up and a pink car. It is so funny because my older daughters have always hated pink. So she is very enjoyable, diva girlieness and all.