Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Birthday Celebration Pt. 1


I decided I wanted to do something extra special for my two best friends birthdays this year. The three of us have been friends for 20+ years.  We have been through everything together; daisies, gymnastics, school, theater, etc.  Being the creative person I am, I knew it couldn't be that hard.  

Lets start with Tiffany.  She has had a Dr. Pepper obsession for as long as I can remember!  So when I came across a Dr Pepper cake recipe on Pinterest I couldn't contain my excitement.  This was the perfect birthday gift.  One snag... she lives in Chicago. Hmmm.....

I had to brainstorm how to get this cake to her.  Mail it?  I guess, but it might fall apart in the mail and the frosting will never survive.  CRAP!  Now What?

The recipe on Pinterest was way to elaborate for my "the simpler the better" motto, but I remembered my cousin telling me once that if you use a box cake mix and a can of soda you can omit the eggs and oil that the mix calls for.  Perfect!  Now the cake wont spoil over night and I will not have to freeze it.  Now the problem of the frosting.  The cake should already be sweet due to the soda, so a glaze should complement it nicely and ship very easily in tupperware.  

Now that I have my game plan.... lets start baking!

Ingredients for the cake:
  • Cake Mix
  • 12 ounces Dr. Pepper
  • allspice (to taste)
  • cinnamon (to taste)

Directions for cake:
  • In a large bowl combine cake mix and 12 ounces of Dr. Pepper. 
  • Start by adding about a 1/2 teaspoon of each, allspice and cinnamon.  Mix till there are no lumps in the batter.  (Hint: The spices really add to the Dr. Pepper flavoring)  Add more of the spices if needed.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 min.  Check if done by sticking a toothpick in the center and having it come out clean.
  • Once done let cool.

Ingredients for the glaze:
  • 4 ounces of Dr Pepper
  • 2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp caramel
  • allspice (to taste)
  • cinnamon (to taste)
Directions for glaze:
  • In a small pot pour 4 ounces of Dr. Pepper and spices.  Let it start to simmer
  • Add caramel and whisk together
  • Slowly add powdered sugar a little at a time while continually whisking the mixture.  The mixture will thicken a little. (Hint: You may not need all the powdered sugar, add to your taste preference.)
  • Let cool

For the finished product, drizzle the glaze in any design you desire and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Now to ship the cake to Chicago!  I baked the cake in a tinfoil cake pan so that it could be shipped right in the pan.  It would help keep the integrity of the cake shape during the shipping process.  Once the cake cooled  completely I wrapped it very tightly in tinfoil and in clear plastic wrap.  Once the glaze cooled completely I poured it into a small Tupperware container and wrapped it tightly in clear plastic wrap. I secured the two packages with zip lock bags blown up to act as air pocket cushions.

Tiff obviously loved it since she sent me a picture of it half eaten! Mission Accomplished!

Make sure to tune in next week for Nicole's Birthday present!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Off to School We Go...

As I was setting up my classroom and sharpening all those #2 pencils for the upcoming school year, I came up with a clever cookie idea:
Sugar Cookie Pencils! 

It doesn't matter how old you are, going back to school or office supply shopping is always fun and nostalgic.  I mean who can resist buying new pens, pencils, notebooks, Post It notes, etc.  Definitely not me!  Well this recipe is going to make your shopping trip even sweeter and more memorable.

  • 2 cup soft unsalted butter
  • 3 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 Tbs vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbs Butter Extract
  • 6 cup flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • white frosting (any flavor is fine)
  • yellow Sugar
  • 1 bag each of pink and black Candy Melts
  • Cream together butter and sugar til light and fluffy
  • Add eggs, vanilla extract, and butter extract, mix
  • Add dry ingredients.  Mix til thoroughly combined... but do not over mix
  • Wrap in plastic and let sit in refrigerator for at least 3 hours 
  • When ready to make the cookies slightly roll out dough between two pieces of parchment paper to soften it. Do not roll too flat.
  • Pull off small balls of dough and roll into long cylinder tubes about 1/4 in diameter.  Pinch the tips to look like points. See below:
  • Once the "pencils" are formed, let sit in the fridge for at least ten minutes to firm
  • Bakes at 350 degrees for 10-12 min, let cool
  • Frost cookies with a white frosting and roll in yellow sugar ........ (Hint: Only frost a few at a time so the frosting does not harden.  If it hardens the sugar will not stick as well.)
  • Melt pink Candy Melts in microwave safe bowl and gently paint the melted candy on the flat side to create an eraser.  (I used a butter knife because it had a nice flat edge.)

  • Finally, melt the black Candy Melts in a plastic piping bag. (Hint: Plastic bag works too.)  Pipe two thin black lines to separate the eraser from the wood and pipe a black tip on the point to create the look of lead.  Feel free to add any other embellishment you would like.  I chose to draw a small black line to look like it says "no. 2."
What student wouldn't want to start off the new school year with a few freshly sharpened "Sugar Cookie" Pencils? Now go make this school year extra special!

Monday, August 13, 2012

All Good Things Must Come to an End...

 Summer seems to go by faster and faster each year.  Not that I can complain, many people do not have a career where they get to enjoy a true summer vacation like I do.  Just one of the many perks of being a teacher!

In honor of summer coming to an end, I thought I would post my: 

'Gummy Bear Beach Party Cupcakes'

I made these cupcakes for a weekend at my friends beach house.  Don't worry, I made mini cupcakes!  No one wants to eat too many sweets when they are in a bikini!  

  • Betty Crocker Chocolate Cake Mix
  • 1 cup sugar free chocolate pudding
  • 1 can of vanilla frosting
  • blue food coloring
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 large bag of gummy bears
  • box of cocktail umbrellas
  • one quart size zip-lock bag 
  • wax paper
1.      Bake cupcakes according to box adding cup of sugar free pudding to the batter.  This insures the cupcakes stay moist. 
2.      While the cupcakes are baking, mix blue food coloring into frosting one drop at a time until you get your desired shade of blue. (Hint: Do NOT over mix.  It looks best with ribbons of white and dark blue mixed in.)  At the same time, mix the brown sugar and the white sugar in a zip-lock bag for a beach colored sand effect.
3.      Frost the tops of each cupcake with the blue frosting.  Create peaks with the tip of the knife to give a wave effect
4.      Tear a small piece of wax paper as shown below and cover half the cupcake. The uneven tear helps to create a crooked line for the sand.

5.      Dust the sugar mixture on the uncovered half of the frosting.
6.      Add gummy bears to the top of the cupcakes.  Make them look like they are laying in the “sand” and playing in the “water.” (Hint: You can also use Teddy Grahams.)
7.      For a final touch, add the cocktail umbrellas!

      Feel free to embellish your "beach party" as much as you want.  You can even add fruit loops and sour belts for rafts.  Now go enjoy my cupcakes and soak up the last bits of summer while you can!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Butts, Boobs, and Bachelorette Cookies...Oh My!

You know you are growing up when your friends start getting married...

I had seen these fantastic cookies at a bridal party and knew I just had to recreate them.  The cookies were the shapes of boobs and butts, and decorated with colorful icing to look like undergarments.  I finally got my opportunity a few weeks ago when my girlfriends and I went to Vegas for a bachelorette party. I couldn't be more excited!

To start I decided to make my own sugar cookie dough because homemade dough usually keeps its shape better while it bakes.

  • 2 cup soft unsalted butter
  • 3 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 Tbs vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbs Butter Extract
  • 7 cup flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
(Hint: The butter extract really creates a great authentic sugar cookie flavor.)

  1. Cream together butter and sugar til light and fluffy
  2. Add eggs, vanilla extract, and butter extract
  3. Add dry ingredients.  Mix til thoroughly combine... but do not over mix
  4. Wrap in plastic. Let sit in refrigerator for at least 3 hours 
  5. When ready to make the cookies roll out dough between two pieces of parchment paper.  This reduces having to add flour to the dough and making it dry. 
  6. Dip the cookie cutter in flour before pushing it into the dough. It makes the cutting process easier. (Hint: Let dough sit in fridge for about 10 minutes after you cut out the shapes.  This helps the dough keep its shape during the baking process.) 
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 min.  Let cool completely before you decorate. 

To get the two shapes all you need is a basic heart cookie cutter and a paring knife. A smaller cut at the bottom of the heart gives you boobs, while a larger cut gives you the butt.  See diagram below. (Hint: Cut the triangles off before you bake the shapes!)

For the "undergarments" I used Betty Crocker cookie icing and Cake Mate Cake icing.
They both come in a variety of colors and dry great so that you can stack the cookies on top of each other without ruining them! To embellish my cookies just a bit more I used star shaped sprinkles and colored sugar to look like glitter (not shown).  Have fun and get creative!

These were such a big hit that I might have to make them for more bachlorette parties to come!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Simpler The Better!

Being creative doesn't mean you have to get uber-involved.  In fact, the simpler the better.  Most of my "art" has very few ingredients and is usually semi-homemade! 

For example, the Sunflower Cupcakes in the above post started as a basic chocolate cake box mix with sugar free chocolate pudding added to the batter.  (Yes, sugar free.... but I swear you cannot tell!)  The pudding doesn't change the flavor it just insures that your cake stays moist in the final product.  The frosting is cream cheese frosting with yellow food coloring.  Each sunflower center was created by pushing mini chocolate chip into the frosting with the points facing down.  If the points are facing down it helps keep them in place and it creates a flat effect.  For a little extra touch I added M&M's and mini gumdrops to look like little bugs sunbathing on the flowers!

Recently I celebrated the 4th of July like most, at a BBQ with friends eating, relaxing, and watched fireworks. With Labor Day weekend just a month away I wanted to post my Patriotic Strawberries! It was an idea I had seen on Pinterest and I must give credit where credit is due. Talk about a simple recipe, it doesn't get any simpler than this with only three ingredients. 

Ingredients List:
  • Fresh Whole Strawberries
  • White Baking Chocolate
  • Blue Sugar/Sprinkles 

  1. Wash the strawberries and pat dry.  Make sure your strawberries are completely dry before you dip them in the chocolate.  (Alert! If any water accidentally touches the chocolate before you melt it, it will unfortunately cause the chocolate to burn instead of melt.)  
  2. Melt the chocolate.  I chose to do it in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl at 30-45 sec intervals. Keep an eye on the chocolate because it burns very quickly! When it is thoroughly melted go ahead and dip the strawberries about halfway in.
  3. Carefully pour the blue sugar on the bottom of the strawberry leaving a ring of white chocolate still showing. Let the strawberries set on wax paper until dry.  
  • I recommend melting the white chocolate a little at a time as well as completing the strawberries in small batches.  This is to ensure the chocolate stays hot enough to stick to the strawberries. 
  • I also recommend pouring the sugar on as opposed to dipping the strawberries into the sugar for two reasons.  1. It keeps the sugar from getting wet and clumpy in the bowl and 2. When you dip the the strawberries in the sugar you lose the pointy look at the bottom.