Saturday, October 27, 2012

A few recent projects....

I know I haven't posted anything all summer and has been CRAZY!  I am planning to get back into the blog business very soon...but for now, here are some pictures of my most recent sweet creations..hope you enjoy them!

This cake was for a Central Park West bride in Manhattan.  She was having a lingerie themed bridal shower.  The cake was made to match the color and lace detail of her invitations.  She LOVED the cake and thought it was DD-licious!
I included her name in the lace detailing and added a special tag of "100% Bride. Handle with Care" to complete the cake.  This was a golden vanilla cake with raspberry filling.
This pretty in pink cake is perfect for a little girl's birthday.  My sister and I LOVED Angelina Ballerina and I think she will always be a relevant character to young girls.  The tutu clad mouse is entirely edible and she is perched atop a vanilla cake with strawberry filling and buttercream ruffles!
These adorable little guys were made for woodland themed baby shower.  I made them in three colors: Light pink, Coral, and Lilac. 
 Each cookie was a dense, thick, and doughy sugar cookie decorated with royal icing.  A simple project with adorable results!  WHO doesn't love OWLS?
This Cake was SO much fun to make.  A Halloween inspired cake that was scary...but adorably delicious!
This rich chocolate cake was filled with vanilla buttercream and heathbar crumbles, covered in fondant and covered in a marshmallow spider web.  The spider is a vanilla buttercream and heathbar filled chocolate cake covered in black sprinkles.  The spider legs are made of sugar cookies dusted with grey petal dust.
Hope you enjoyed a peek at a few of my projects...I'll be back soon with my regular posts! (=

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Bengali Lesbian Bridal Shower 'Fish' Cake

I love creating cakes for so many reasons.  I enjoyed this cake in particular because of everything it represented.  When creating this cake, I was able to embrace the traditions of a beautiful culture, while also embracing elements of modern day ideas and thinking. When asked to create a 'Fish Cake' for a Bengali Bridal Shower, I was immediately excited...and a bit confused haha.  I learned that it is Bengali tradition to present real fish dressed as the bride and groom to the soon to be married couple as one of many elaborate gifts.  For this event, the client wished to break from the tradition and make it into a gift more visually appealing than two dead fish, as well as have something delicious that everyone could enjoy.  With another break to tradition, this wedding was between two women, so I dressed one fish in a traditional white wedding dress, and the other in ethnic wedding attire.
The first fish was draped in a red Saree embellished with gold details.  A red jewel bindee and sparkly nose ring adorn the fish to complete the ethnic Bengali wedding look.
The 2nd bride was wearing a traditional white wedding dress which sparkled with a thin layer of luster dust.  The beautiful fish bride was dressed with a white veil and blue garter to complete her wedding day look.
The cake board was decorated with sugar paste Gerber daises, pearls, as well as earrings and bangles.  Red and clear jewels were scattered around the fish to add to the opulence of the entire piece.  The cake board was orange fondant painted with gold and red to mimic the look of silk.  It was then piped with a royal icing henna inspired design which was then hand-painted gold.
Both cakes were made of tiramisu mousse layered between golden vanilla cake soaked in a mixture of coffee and Kahlua.  A layer of semisweet chocolate curls added just a hint of chocolate flavor to the decadent dessert.
The smile on this brides face was worth the many hours put into this cake.  I will never forget how awesome it felt to make such a unique cake with so much symbolism and love behind it.  This project was a great reminder of why I have so much Passion for the Sweet Life!

Friday, May 11, 2012

ALL about the OREOS Cupcakes

I LOVE Oreos; however, I rarely let myself indulge in them.  When I do indulge, I like to incorporate them into dessert recipes. One of my favorite desserts of all time is ice cream pie with an Oreo cookie crust. I was contemplating making one the other day when I thought of how amazing a cupcake would taste with the same Oreo crust instead of the usual and boring paper cupcake wrapper. Eager to see if it would work, I created this recipe for ALL about the OREO Cupcakes. These cupcakes are made of Oreo cake batter scooped into an Oreo crumb crust. A sweet frosting reminiscent of Oreo cream filling is speckled with Oreo crumbles and swirled on top. The result is a decadent and delicious cupcake LOADED with Oreo flavor, the perfect partner to a cold glass of milk!
This recipe is different then most cake recipes in the way it is mixed together.  Instead of creaming the butter and sugar together first as most recipes do, this recipe calls for mixing all the dry ingredients and slowly incorporating the wet ingredients into the mix.  The batter looks weird in the first few steps, but comes together beautifully by the end, and the result is delicious! 
3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cups milk
3/4 cups softened butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1/2 cup milk
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
16 crushed Oreos (I pulsed mine in the food processor and left some large chunks)

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add 3/4 cup milk and shortening.  Beat until well blended.  Add the additional 1/2 cup milk, 3 eggs, and vanilla.  Beat for 2 minutes.  Add crushed Oreos.
 Fold Oreos in the batter until fully incorporated. Set batter aside.
OREO Crust:
30 Oreos (crushed finely)
1/2 stick of butter (melted)

Pulse around 30 Oreos in a food processor until they are turned into very fine crumbs.
Melt 1/2 stick of butter and add to the Oreo crumbs.
Thoroughly mix the melted butter into the crumbs until it forms a cookie crumb dough.
Spray each cavity of the cupcake pan with Pam. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP.  Spraying it with Pam ensures that these cupcakes slide out beautifully after baking!  Divide the crumbs into the cupcake molds (should be able to get around 20-24).
Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and sides of each cupcake form.  This takes a little time and patience but the result is awesome!  Don't press the crumbles to the very top, leave some space, as the Oreo crust rises quite a bit as it bakes.  Don't stress too much about making it perfect, just try and make sure there are no holes around the sides.
Scoop batter into Oreo Crusts.  I used a small ice cream scoop to fill mine.  You should have enough batter to fill about 2 dozen Oreo crusts.
Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes depending on your oven.  The tops of the cupcakes should spring back slightly when they are cooked through.
The cupcakes take on a somewhat rustic look when cooked inside of the Oreo crusts which I think makes for a unique and surprising cupcake.  If you want a more traditional look, you can bake the same batter in regular cupcake liners.  The Oreo crust; however, bakes up to a create a nice chocolate casing around the moist cake, combining a crunchy and soft texture with each bite...I highly suggest you give it a try!
1 1/2 lbs of Confectioner's sugar (1 1/2 boxes)
1 1/2 sticks of softened butter
1/2 cup fluff
2-3 tbsp of milk
About 14 Oreos (finely crushed)

Combine the first 3 ingredients in the mixer and beat until smooth.  Add milk until desired consistency is reached.  Stir in Oreo crumbs until completely combined.
I decided to just cut a whole in the top of my pastry bag and frost these without a tip because I think it added to the rustic charm of these cupcakes.  You can fancy them up with different piping techniques if you prefer.
A few extra Oreo crumbles or possibly a mini Oreo on top completes this delicious cupcake.
I forgot to get a picture of inside the inside of the  cupcake (Silly, I know!), but it is very beautifully speckled with Oreo bits.  The vanilla base really allows you to taste the Oreo, cream and all, instead of overpowering you with chocolate as most Oreo Cupcake recipes do.
These are delicious!  This cupcake tastes like you are eating an OREO but in a much more decadent way.  Make up your own batch and experience the AMAZING results of making a cupcake ALL about the OREOS! (=

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Lady Bug Cupcakes Tutorial

This past weekend I made the trek home to my hometown in NH to spend the weekend with my mom for her birthday.  The last few months have been rough on her so I decided some lucky ladybug cupcakes would be the perfect birthday treat to bring smiles and lots of luck to her this year.  My mom has believed the little red bugs bring good luck ever since I can remember; she even kept faith in their powers as they forged a mass invasion on my brother's bedroom!  I knew that these cute cupcakes would be the perfect birthday treat to bring a smile to her face and remind her of how lucky she is!
I started with a banana caramel muffin baked in a red scalloped cupcake wrapper.
I swirled cinnamon cream cheese frosting on each cupcake.  This was the base for my ladybug decorations!  Feel free to use whatever flavor of cupcake and frosting you desire.  I would not use chocolate frosting, I think the ladybugs stand out best against the white. (=
To make the ladybugs:  Pull out a batch of sugar cookie dough that you have had chilling for at least an hour.  Roll to between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick.  I rolled mine pretty thick because I wanted the ladybugs to really stand out on the cupcake.
I used the back side of a random tip I had lying around to cut out the small round shape for the ladybug.  I gave each cut out a little press after to flatten the top out a tad.  You can use a tiny circular cookie cutter if you have one as well.  Arrange on a baking sheet and bake at 350 until the sides begin to brown slightly...these are tiny so keep an eye on them!  Set aside on a cooling rack until they are completely cooled.
I used a circular cookie cutter to create the leaf shape for the cupcake.  If you happen to have a leaf shaped cookie cutter feel free to use it.  You can also cut out a template to cut around if you prefer; however I found it was just as easy to do it this way (= 
I turned the circular into a leaf in 4 simple steps.  Step 1:  Punch out a circle with your cutter (you could use the top of a small glass as well)
Step 2: Pinch one side of the circle to create the stem of the leaf.
Step 3:  Using your thumb and fore finger press against the sides of the circle as you stretch them out slightly to create an elongated shape from the pinched edge.
Step 4: Pinch the last edge to create a pointed tip.  Feel free to play with the shape until you like the way it looks.  Don't get stressed about making them all look exactly the same...imperfections add to the charm of these cupcakes!
I wanted the leaves to have some natural shape to the so I baked them on the curve of my cookie sheet.  I baked some lying vertical and some lying horizontal along the curve to add some contrast.  I couldn't fit very many on each sheet so had to do multiple bakes, but it was worth the effort.
Bake until the edges of the leaves begin to turn a golden brown.  Remove from baking sheet and transfer to wire cooling rack until completely cooled.
Once cooled, thin some green Royal Icing to painting consistency with a small amount of water.  Using a pastry brush or paint (clean!) brush, paint the icing onto the top of the cookies in a thin and even layer.  I first just painted the tops of the leaves and then decided I wanted them to look completely covered, so I went back and painted down the sides as well.  The finished look of the leaves was cute but it made the process a little messier!  If you want to get fancier with the leaves you can pipe veins on after the base coat dries.
To make your ladybugs, fill your piping bag with black royal icing fitted with a very small round tip (I used size00).  Pipe a straight line down the center of the cooled cookie.
With the same bag, pipe a circle at one end and fill in for the head of the ladybug.  Try to use icing that is thin enough to melt back into itself slightly, but not so thin that it doesn't keep its shape on the cookie.
Fit a piping bag filled with red royal icing with the same size 00 tip.  Pipe the outline of the ladybug wings on either side of the black middle line. 
I used the same icing bag to then fill in the centers of the wings since these guys were so small. If you have more patience and want a more precise look, you can thin out some red icing and flood the wings after the outline dries instead.
After the red dries, add details such as black dots on the wings and little antennas to complete your lady bugs.  Let dry.
To decorate your cupcake, press your cookie leaf into the soft frosting of your cupcake.  Attach the ladybugs to the leaves by dipping them in a small amount of royal icing and pressing them onto the leaves.  Have fun arranging the ladybugs as you desire.
These cupcakes are sure to bring lots of smiles, good luck, and happy bellies to any celebration.  Have fun making these lucky bugs to adorn your next cupcakes and make sure to spread the luck around as much as you can!

Love you Mom <3

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Starbucks VIA Sugar Cookies---An Anniversary Gift

Two years ago I was sitting in an NYC Starbucks in Soho, sipping a cappuccino and staring at the door. I was waiting for my blind date to arrive and was BEYOND nervous. Minutes later a tall, dark, and handsome man walked in looking nervously around. I waved him over and he sat down across from me with a huge smile. He was SO nervous to meet me that his hands were shaking was adorable.  I reached across the table and held his hand to calm him down and from that moment on Francisco and I have been absolutely inseparable...the very best of friends.  Today is the two year anniversary of our meeting and to honor that moment I created anniversary Starbucks Cookies as a treat for my amazing boyfriend.
To make these cookies I simply added Starbucks VIA into my regular regular sugar cookie recipe.  I doubled the amount of milk in the recipe, warmed it, and dissolved one package of Starbucks VIA instant coffee.  The next time I make these I might add a little bit more coffee because I LOVE a strong coffee flavor!
I printed out pictures of the Starbucks drinks and sized them to between 3 and 4 inches.  Using my x-acto knife I cut out a hot vanilla latte, java chip and peppermint mocha frappuccinos, and an iced caramel macchiato.

Before baking the cookies didn't look like much....
But after they were decorated they looked as yummy as the real things!
I mixed cocoa powder and peppermint extract into the royal icing to decorated the Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino.  Cocoa and chopped chocolate created the Java Chip flavor.  The Vanilla Latte was flavored with vanilla extract.  I did not have any caramel extract and caramel sauce cannot be mixed with royal icing so the Caramel Macchiato was the only one that didn't taste like its name.  I colored the 'caramel' with light cocoa to avoid using coloring, so the only unnatural coloring used in the cookies was for the green plastic straw!
Today is a day to celebrate LOVE
And a day to celebrate STARBUCKS!
I will never forget the day when I first met Francisco and will always have a special place in my heart for Starbucks for being part of it. It was the best date and cappuccino I ever had! 
Two amazing years and many more to come...
I LOVE you Francisco!