Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Birthdays Galore Ahead...

I had a busy weekend and even managed to squeeze in some baking for a party.   I made oreo cupcakes.  They were tasty but not so photogenic.   I want to make some adjustments and will post pictures and a recipe soon.   

In the weeks ahead I will be busy with cookies.  I may have to table the quest-to-find-the-perfect-frosting for a couple of weeks as I work on decorating and baking some cookies.   Besides I don't think my hips can handle cookies and frosting at the same time.   

I am planning on helping a dear friend with some cookies for her son's first birthday and my nephew's third birthday is fast approaching.   Here is a hint below of the template I am working on for his themed cookies.   I need to find a thick cardstock that will hold up well because I will need to hand cut these cookies.   

I hope to have some fun pictures up soon. 


Friday, February 17, 2012

The Quest

I am on a quest. A very very important quest. This quest is big- it could impact thousands of lives. I know that when I complete it- I will be changed forever. What is this quest? THE Quest to find the perfect frosting of course....

I am a frosting girl. I love it. But, I am kinda particular. Gone are my days of buying a tub of chocolate frosting and eating it with a spoon. Okay- not really- but for the sake of science I am willing to give that secret habit up. So I figure that in my quest to find "my" perfect frosting I may find yours. I am willing to sacrifice my hips to all of you in my quest. And also my poor coworkers who will probably be eating a lot of cupcakes in the meantime.

Now let me clarify- I am testing cake frosting here. I love cookies and do agree that there are quite a few variations of cookie frosting out there, but I tend to stick to two types for my cookies.

Instead I want to find a perfect cake frosting- preferably a version in chocolate and one in vanilla.

I started out this quest with a simple recipe for cream cheese frosting. This recipe is from Annie's Eats. I loved how simple it was and also how she explained her secret to the frosting. I also love her beautiful photographs. Food photography=Love.

Here are the ingredients:

I wanted to tell you about some of the mistakes I make along the way and this is one of them. If you did not already know (because I know you all have read my blog from the exciting beginning to now....lol), but I have a new oven and with a new oven you are always experimenting and figuring out how things are going to "bake" in it. In my old oven I was able to pop two pans of cupcakes in one on top of the other and they would bake up fine. But, as I learned- not in my new oven. Here is why:

The cupcake on top was baked on the middle rack and the cupcake below was baked on a lower rack, but it was not at the bottom of the oven either. Which was why I assumed that it would bake up fine. In my old oven I could not bake two pans side by side on the same rack because it was too hot in the back of my oven and the cupcakes closest to the back would bake more quickly than the ones in the front despite pan rotations. Anyway, the cupcake on top is how I prefer my cakes to turn out- evenly baked with a slight crust on top. The cupcake on the bottom had some funky air pockets on it and remained "gooey" to the touch even after adequate cooling time.
So below are the lovelies that turned out well. Luckily the "special bottom row cupcakes" tasted just as good as the others and you would never know the difference unless you had seen them pre-icing.

Here is me mixing up the frosting. This frosting is also great because it does not require a fancy stand mixer. Your standard hand mixer will work just fine. And if you have arms of steel and titanium fingers you may be able to mix this by hand. Not me.

And here is the frosting on some simple Devil's Food Cupcakes. And for the record- the cupcakes are not homemade. They are from a box. After all I was busy saving the world that day and did not have time to add "made from scratch cupcakes" to my to do list.

I enjoyed this frosting. I enjoyed it a great deal. I enjoyed it on many cupcakes. I am far too polite to tell you how many were eaten. by me. alone.
I liked this frosting because it was sweet, but not too sweet. I also love the tang and creamy(ness) that you get with cream cheese. I also loved that this frosting paired really well with the deep chocolate of the cupcake. It truly was one of the best cream cheese frosting that I have had. Most of the time, cream cheese frosting's are too sweet or too thick. All in all a very very nice try for my first attempt on my life-altering-quest-to-find-the-perfect-frosting.
My only side note to this recipe is that it did not cover two dozen cupcakes. It covered more like 18-20 cupcakes depending on the size of your cupcake and how generously you frost them. Personally, I say double the recipe and eat whatever is left with a spoon. Better yet, put it in a red tub with a lid and sneak bits of it on a spoon all day long... Yum!!

Here is the recipe from Annie's Eats if you want to try it for yourself.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
10 oz. cream cheese, chilled
6½ tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3¼ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
4 tsp. clear vanilla extract
Combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the confectioners’ sugar and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat 2-3 minutes more. Blend in the vanilla.

Friday, February 3, 2012

It's all in the tools...

LilaLoa is a blog that I follow and love. She makes amazing cookies and cakes and I see her work and dream of being so talented. Recently, she posted a picture of her icing colors and how she stores them. And she challenged us to show her our icing colors and how we store them.

So here is a peek at my cookie (and sometimes cake) supplies.

And here are my Americolor icing colors. I really do like these gel colors. The small bottles are my favorite to buy as I always am convinced that I just "need a teeny bit". Until you make something red, or blue or black... and then I feel like I use the whole small bottle.

So I have invested in some large bottles of color. So if you need some black food color just call me cause I am your gal.

Does anyone else have a hobby that requires a bin of supplies? I feel like so many of my interests require bins of tools. Someday I will find a hobby that requires nothing... Like tv watching...just kidding....well maybe.... (and if you haven't noticed yet- I like to use my punctuation incorrectly. I know English majors out there are cringing. But, I like it because I feel like pauses look like periods in my head- so hence many periods and many exclamation marks).

My nephew has been asking about cookies so I think I am going to plan another "Cookie Decorating- but really just need the sprinkles" Day with him. I CAN'T WAIT!