Saturday, December 6, 2014

Flower Cakes and Retro Cupcakes

We can talk, right?  Good.  Because my kids are driving me crazy.

I made it through college with honors.  I made it through basic training, more school, and being miles and miles away from the ones I love.  I worked full time and went back to school for the fun of it.  I'm not trying to brag here.  I came out with a few bumps and bruises along the way.  But I made it.

However, my down fall is going to be these two little brown-haired high energy whirlwinds on legs.  Most days are good and I sooo have the mom thing down.  But other days, I long for my Tempur-Pedic bed and there is not enough chocolate in the world to drown out the shrieks and shrills coming from the living room.  And do I even need to mention that my baby is walking now?

And even with all that going on, I somehow managed to get a sweet 16 cake and some really cool retro arcade cupcakes done this week.

I worked with the Americolor edible ink pens this week and I have to say I loved it. Finally.  I have tried the black ones before and failed miserably.  I think it was because I was trying to copy someone else's work.  I needed to find my own way with them.

I did find some inspiration on Pinterest for the sweet 16 cake.  But I didn't go searching to see how they pulled it off.  I just went for it.  And I love the results. And so did the birthday girl.

I hand drew the flowers with the black pen and then would work in small sections with the color.  A paintbrush dipped in a little water to spread the ink and I was on my way.  Just a little bit of water will do since you are working with fondant.  I love the effect it created.

I was also able to make some really cool cupcakes for a really cool kid I know.  I have a neighbor who is completely into retro arcade games right now.  As a matter of fact, he is spending his birthday weekend playing in an arcade that is stocked with old school upright boxes.  Of course, he is turning twelve and when you ask him what "old school" means he thinks about Pokemon and Kirby.  I took it a little further back for him and his parents though.

I included his Pokemon and Kirby characters but who can argue with a little Mario and Galaga?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Busy Summer

I know I promised at the beginning of the year that I was going to post more.  What I didn't realize was how busy and how tired I was going to be this summer.  We have been working on the house, hosting cul de sac BBQs, planning a HOA community picnic, meeting new neighbors, watching our babies grow, and so on and so on.

I have also found a fan of my baking in one of my husband's coworkers.  So I have been busy baking for him and his family recently.  One of the new things I tried was a Nutella buttercream frosting on top of a chocolate cupcake.

I got the inspiration from the Cannella Vita website.  As you can see, my cupcakes look a little different, but goodness they were delicious.  I used a chocolate cupcake recipe that I have been using for a while and then followed Erica's instructions on making the buttercream.  I just swirled mine instead of piping two different frostings.

I also had the chance to make my son a birthday cake this past week.  My little man turned three this past weekend and is blowing me away with what he knows.  His favorite television show right now is Paw Patrol.  And his favorite dog on the show is Rubble.  He helped pick out the colors and everything!

I make baked goods so often that our son informed his doctor at today's visit that our last name is "Cake".  Hey, it could be worse.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Cakes, cakes, and more cakes

I get asked a lot if I am a professional baker.  And the answer is "no".  I then get asked if I want to do this for a living.  And the answer is " I don't know".  Why do I feel weird telling people that I am still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up?   I am going to be 33 soon and I still haven't figured out yet what I want to do with my life.

But for right now, with my two beautiful babies still at home, I am enjoying what I do.  I really don't make any money off of my baking.  I sold two dozen cupcakes the other day but I have also spent a small fortune at the grocery store this week buying other supplies.  My husband recently asked me what I want for my birthday at the end of the summer and I sent him my Amazon wish list full of fondant cutters and other goodies.  It never ends.

This week I got to make three different cakes for three different occasions.  I was completely swamped with other things too.  I am worn out and my back hurts tremendously...but I kinda can't wait to do it again.

The first cake I made was for my father-in-law.  He LOVES golf.  Every single Sunday and Wednesday he is on the course.  And what's with the "Faja" you say? Apparently, he is also a huge Austin Powers fan.  He even has my son calling him Grandfaja.

The second cake I made was for my New York born and bred neighbor.  He just retired from the Post Office and makes me laugh every single time I see him.  As soon as I told him it was his favorite chocolate cake I make, he gave me a huge hug too.

The third cake I made this week was for another very special neighbor of ours.  I got to meet the mom and son while I was out walking with my children.  Her little boy was 15 months at the time and she explained that over the last few months he had been battling brain cancer.  I told her a little later on that I wasn't sure whether I wanted to cry or give her and her boy a hug.

You see, I left the conversation feeling so many things.  I was having, what I thought, was a pretty crappy day.  My daughter was not feeding well and my son was not listening to a word I said.  I went for a walk to get some fresh air and to wear out my energetic boy.  I quickly realized after talking to JR's mom that I could be dealing with so much more.  For all the heart break and stress she was going through, she had a huge smile on her face the whole time talking about how great he, her Superman baby, had been doing with his treatments.

So I just knew I had to make a cake for him to celebrate his treatments ending soon. I got to deliver my promise on his cake this weekend.

And seeing the joy on their faces when I showed up was payment enough for me.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

We have been trying to behave this week on food.  We even have lettuce in the fridge.  We are actually using the crisper drawer in the fridge for what it was meant for.  And here I thought it was just extra storage for unsalted butter sticks.

But after dealing with our third round of colds this year, and a three hour trip to the dentist today, we needed a little chocolate.  Luckily, my husband has coworkers who will eat anything we bring them so most of the cookies are headed their way.

I have to be honest.  I am not sold on these cookies yet.  It is probably because the original recipe calls for chunky peanut butter.  Don't get me wrong.  We LOVE chunky peanut butter.  But we have been die hard fans of NATURAL peanut butter for years.  And without the added sugar and other additives, the natural stuff will alter the outcome of the cookies.  They still taste pretty darn good.  But I am very curious to see what a difference a good ole scoop of Jif would make to these cookies.

What you will need

1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup of chunky peanut butter
1 cup of dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 cup of all purpose flour
1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 cup of semisweet chocolate chips

Two words for this recipe.  Super easy.  Cream the butter, brown sugar, and peanut butter together in a mixing bowl.  Once everything is light and fluffy, add in the egg and vanilla.  Now throw in your dry ingredients and mix together.  Once done, fold in your chocolate chips.  How easy is that?  I wasn't lying when I said "super".

Portion the dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

I will try to do an update soon with regular peanut butter to show a difference. Keep you posted!

Print Recipe - Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie

************STATUS UPDATE************

So I had an epiphany the other night in the shower.  Some people figure out how to end world hunger while shampooing their hair, others might realize just how to beat that level in the video game they are playing while soaping up...I think about cookies during my 10 minutes away from my screaming 3 year old.  

Not only was changing the peanut butter the key to these cookies but actually using the right type of leavening agent helped too.  I know.  I know.  I obviously was having a moment.  For some reason, I knew I needed baking soda but my hand grabbed the baking powder.  Hence the reason the cookie dough had a mousse like texture the first time around.  

But using baking soda and crunchy Jif, the second batch turned out so much better. They were a little sweeter and a little softer too!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting


I usually don't believe the hype when recipes are labeled "the best" or "the ultimate".  So when I came across this post labeled "Perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting", I was a little skeptical.  Boy...was I ever wrong.

This frosting is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

It doesn't take many ingredients.  And once you try it, you will be hooked.  Forever.

What you will need

3 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
1 cup of unsweetened cocoa
5 cups of confectioner sugar
1/2 cup of milk
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of espresso powder

If you checked out the post I mentioned (and you should), you will notice that I doubled the amount of espresso powder.  My husband loves coffee flavored anything so hence the change.

Beat the cocoa and butter together until well combined.  It will be a very dark sticky chocolate.  Add in one cup of sugar and one tablespoon of milk on low speed.  Once the two are combined, turn the mixer on medium speed for about a minute.  Lower the speed and add more sugar and milk and keep the cycle going until all the sugar is gone.  You may not use all the milk.  You will have to watch the consistency of the frosting.

Add in the vanilla and espresso powder at the end and combine until well mixed.

I have made this frosting the day before an event and just kept it in the fridge.  You can set it out until it gets to room temp or heat in the microwave on very small amounts until you can run a spoon through it.

It is absolutely amazing on the chocolate cake mentioned on the website too.

Now to thumb through the thesaurus for another word for "amazing"...

Print Recipe - Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Nutella Filled Cookies

We are going to revisit one of my favorite things...Nutella.   I have made Nutella cupcakes before and they were delicious.  But these Nutella filled cookies have them beat.

I found the recipe on Red Tricycle which is a site to help you discover cool stuff to do in your area.  The website also has crafts and food!

Now this recipe does require a little organization so please read through all the way before you start baking.  You will be working with browned butter which is something I have always heard of but never have tried till now.  Apparently, I have been missing out on something.

What you will need for the recipe

2 1/4 cup of all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 sticks of unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
1 large egg plus one egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla
1 tablespoon of plain greek yogurt
3/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup of milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips
1 jar of Nutella (chilled in the fridge)

Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.  Gather all the other ingredients before you start dealing with your butter because it will need all of your attention.

You know the easiest way to get just an egg yolk, right?  Of course, you can crack and egg and go back and forth between the shell halves draining the egg white.  Or, if you don't mind slimy things, just crack the egg into your hand.  The egg white drains off in between your fingers and you are left with just the yolk!

Now for the butter.  Put the butter in a saucepan and turn on medium heat.  The butter will melt and start to foam.  Start to whisk the butter and don't stop.  You don't want to run the risk of burning the butter.  The butter will start to brown and give off a nutty aroma.  Immediately pour the butter into a bowl to stop the cooking process.  For a great example of browned butter, take a look at Simply Recipes.  Let the butter cool for a few minutes before you start mixing any ingredients.

Combine the sugars and butter in a mixer and cream together.  Once combined, add in your eggs, vanilla, and yogurt.  The mixture will be a little soupy.

Now add in your flour mixture.  Once the dry ingredients are combined, fold in your chocolate chips.

Now because of the dark brown sugar and browned butter, your cookie dough will be darker than what you usually see for a chocolate chip cookie.  It's all good though!  Throw the dough in the fridge for at least two hours.

Once the dough is chilled (and your Nutella is firmly set), set your oven to 350 degrees.  Take a big chunk of the cookie dough, roll into a ball, and flatten it out. It's a little hard to do with the chocolate chips but you get the hang of it pretty quick. Take a teaspoon of Nutella and place in the middle.

Fold the dough around the Nutella.  Flatten the cookie once again and throw the pan in the oven.  The cookies only take about 10-12 minutes to bake.  Once the cookies start to darken around the edges, pull them out of the oven.  Let them sit on the pan for a few minutes because they will be extra gooey in the middle.  If you would like, and I highly recommend, sprinkle a little bit of course sea salt on top.

Transfer them to a cooling rack to firmly set up and store in an airtight container.   I hope you enjoy!

Nutella Filled Cookies - Print Recipe

Monday, March 17, 2014

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

I decided to use my husband's Christmas gift in my baking yesterday.

Yes, my husband got alcohol for Christmas.  My extended family from Boston decided to have a Yankee swap this past December.  Now for all you good ole Southerners out there like me, you are probably asking yourself what a "Yankee Swap" is.  It is like a Secret Santa, but you can steal someone else's gift if you don't like the one you picked out.  The theme of the swap was to buy something that would help you stay warm.  Girls bought for girls and boys bought for boys.  I got a super cute pair of red flannel pajama bottoms with reindeer on them.  My husband got liquor.  Enough said.

So I grabbed the alcohol, some pecans, and some chocolate chips and threw them into a frozen deep dish pie crust.  And it was delicious.

Here is the recipe

3 eggs
1/2 cup of light corn syrup
1/2 stick of melted butter
3/4 cup of light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons of bourbon
2 tablespoons of all purpose flour
1 tablespoon of vanilla
1 1 /2 cups of chopped pecans
1 cup of semisweet of chocolate chips
1 deep dish pie crust

This is so simple.  Take everything from the eggs to the vanilla and combine in a bowl.

Throw in your chopped pecans and chocolate chips and stir together.

Pour the mixture into your pie crust.  Like I said, I used a frozen pie crust.  Don't judge.  If you are feeling ambitious, and you don't have a toddler screaming his lungs off, then totally make your own crust!!

Bake the pie for 15 minutes at 425 degrees and then lower the temperature of the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake for an additional 40-45 minutes.  Pull out of the oven and cool completely.  I threw the pie in the fridge because we like to eat it cold with a little bit of whipped cream.

Your house will smell amazing all day after baking this pie.  You can thank me later.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sugar Cookie Recipe

Lil' bit and I worked on some sugar cookies the other day with this recipe from Katrina's Kitchen.  Please go to her site and check out the recipe.  I liked the fact that you didn't have to chill the dough like with most sugar cookies.  Just mix it up and go.  It will be very crumbly like she mentions so be forewarned.   Roll it out and cut your shapes.

My son loved the sprinkles part!

And whatever you do, do NOT over-bake these suckers.  If your cookies are starting to turn brown on the edges, it is too late!!

With that being said, these were very tasty.  My husband liked the addition of the almond extract.  They hardly lasted 24 hours in our house.   So give them a try and let your little ones do the decorating.  They may not be the prettiest cookies you ever made but who cares.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

It's been a long time

Where do I even begin?

Hi!  Let me re-introduce myself.  I am the Baking Pixie and I have been gone for way too long.  It has been over a year since I have been able to post and share anything sweet.  To say I was busy would be a little bit of an understatement.

You see...

We bought our first house this year.  We started searching last January and signed all the papers in March.  Then we got to painting and ripping out carpets and installing hardwood floors and removing plants in the front yard and...

And then after competing in an alumni swim meet back in my hometown, I found out I was pregnant with our second child.  

 "Morning" sickness needs to be renamed to "All Day" Sickness.  I'm just sayin'.  And just like with my son, I was unable to eat anything sweet for the first few months with my daughter.  We had some serious conversations late at night about her hatred towards chocolate chip cookies and ice cream.  I tried to tell her they were harmless and delicious.  She just wouldn't listen to me.

So while trying to deal with the queasiness and the growing belly, I was running and waddling after my little rugrat who is growing up way too fast.

And then we hit a month that was very hard for our family.  I was told that our baby was at high risk for having Down Syndrome.  I started doing some research and I knew no matter the results of all the tests that our child would be loved by everyone. But it was hard.  I am not going to lie.  We had extra tests done and a very detailed ultrasound to see if the baby showed any signs of having that one extra chromosome.  And then we had to wait for the results.  I cried during the wait.  My husband cried.  And our daughter turned out perfect.

This last year wasn't just all babies and fixing up the house though.  I did make my very first wedding cake in October for an awesome couple we know.  I even made a grooms cake.  And then had to explain to everyone in the family what a grooms cake was.  I guess that is one of the big disadvantages of growing up in the north.  That and the lack of sweet tea.  I would never make it.

I even got my blog mentioned in Fox News Magazine for National Peanut Butter Day, which was on the 24th of January.  You can check out the article here.

It has been a year full of ups and downs and crying for the good and the bad.  I so can't wait to see what this year has in store for us as we watch our children grow and we continue to work on our house.  I also can't wait to start baking again and sharing the recipes with you!

Thank you for waiting for me,
The Baking Pixie