Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Christmas Cocktail Party Challenge!!

This Friday, we are having a little Cocktail Party to celebrate the season with friends. Normally, when I have a party...a few hundred dollars are spent on food, drinks, decorations....etc. Well this year, here's my challenge: I will spend no more than $125 for everything!!!

Of course, I don't have to purchase any decorations...we are taking this year off from buying anything...we have oodles already (could use more of course) but we don't need it. I do have a small advantage...I get to purchase my wine at cost (a benefit of being in the industry) but the food is always challenging to keep the cost down. Now, I'm not taking into consideration the food and ingredients that I already have in the house...only what I will spend in addition.

The menu isn't finalized yet...I'll update later once the menu is set...ONE THING I am attempting though is a Croqembouche...a beautiful french cake that is coincidentally shaped like a christmas tree....

Probably the most difficult thing to attempt considering I'm such a novice baker...but I can wait!

I will also be making some cupcakes (of course) and peppermint bark (super easy)

We are having a yankee swap as well, so for one of the gifts I was going to do a little gourmet hot chocolate set, with some butterscotch schnapps and homemade toasted caramel marshmallows courtesy of Miss Ina Garten

Wish me luck! I'll post the menu...and then the outcome with of course loads of pictures of my $125 party!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Girls Weekend - Lets celebrate with cake!

So this weekend is my family's girls shopping I made a cake to celebrate! I also had to use up all the frosting from my Wilton buttercream practice session this morning plus I've been dying to use the delicious Martha Stewart chocolate frosting that was waiting in the freezer. It freezes great by the way!

So I have pink and white buttercream and a dark chocolate frosting to use up...hmm, what kind of cake should I make! Well I tried Martha Stewart's One Bowl Chocolate recipe and it was a GREAT choice!!! The recipe was so easy, flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder & soda, eggs, vegetable oil, water and buttermilk, all in one bowl! And it is GOOD! Delicious and moist, thanks to the vegetable oil. I made a 6 inch round and a dozen cupcakes which I filled with the rich chocolate frosting and topped with the buttercream. Of course I would just stop there...I did fondant cutouts which I monogrammed with the soon to be recipients first initial....

I really tried hard to get the cake smooth but couldn't do I covered it! Its got two layers of the chocolate frosting, and I also applied the monogrammed fondant cutouts on the side.....I went just a bit too far on the top of the cake with the chocolate frosting...I was going to little chocolate dots, but they really looked like little poops all through out the pink (yes I just used the word poop on a food sue me) so I covered them up with the star flowers...but in my effort to try and use up as much frosting as possible...I ended up making my cake TOO busy...but it sure will taste good!

I got these great little cupcake boxes at Michaels yesterday....I also splurged and bought the professional decorating kit! Its huge and awesome! Maybe I'll turn this into a money making hobby!

First Class and Wilton's Buttercream Recipe

I haven't posted in a while and have A LOT to post about! Originally I was going to squeeze it all in to one very long post...but I figured I would break it here is the first of a few...

So this past Sunday I had my first Wilton Cake Decorating Class. This one was just informational, we talked about what we would be learning, the instructor made the "classic" Wilton Buttercream and discussed the recipe, how to use it etc. The recipe is super simple:

1 cup All Vegetable Shortening
2 Tbsp Water or Milk
1 tsp Flavoring (butter, vanilla or almond)
1 Lb Confectioners Sugar (approx 4 sifted cups)
1 Tbsp Meringue Powder

Now lets talk about this buttercream recipe. First off, how can it be called buttercream when there is no real butter in it! I understand that using crisco definitely stabilizes the frosting and giving it a longer shelf life, especially when you use water instead of milk, but I want butter! Oh but it is good! I remember the many wedding cakes I had before fondant and swiss meringue became popular...I always loved the frosting, its usually my favorite part. And THIS is the frosting. Its pure sugar and so tasty, I love it!

Now when you make it, I have one recommendation....use the beater paddle, NOT the whisk! I was practicing some of the borders, dots and flowers for course 1 this morning and so I made the buttercream, used the whisk attachment and noticed that my frosting wasn't super smooth, a little crackly....and looked like this...

So I made another batch....using the beater paddle, and it looked much better!

Now I did wonder if maybe the addition of color made a difference but I don't really think so. I do recommend the beater blade though I think it really does make a difference. The frosting crusts pretty quickly which is good for writing and decorating and with a nice thin consistency, it frosts nicely as well...though if you're like me and don't like to wait a couple hours for the cake to cool, it does pick up a lot of crumbs, so be very careful!

I'm looking forward to this weekends class..though I will be on my way home from my girls shopping weekend...I really hope I make it! I have to bring a cake or cupcake in and some frosting and we get to work on shells I think and dots and star flowers! I'm sure I'll have lots of pictures!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Yellow Buttermilk with Dark Chocolate & Fluffy Vanilla Frosting

So here are some pics of the finished cupcakes...the ones that I couldn't even resist tasting! I did doubt Martha for a bit on the chocolate frosting, it has 2 bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips in it, melted of course making it very runny. The recipe said that it would pipe out beautifully and I really thought it would just run all over the place so I had to add some more confectioners to it to just assure myself that wouldn't happen, and it didn't and it looks beautiful!

I also LOVE my new tip from, it made that perfect gorgeous swirl on my cupcakes! I think I'll use it forever now!

The dark chocolate frosting (from Martha Stewart Cupcakes if I didn't mention it before) also spread and frosted the birthday cake wonderfully as only warning, chill it for a bit before traveling, because the layers did slide just a little on the trip into town...

And here is my new pride and joy...a cupcake carrier I found on Amazon and have been waiting over a month to receive because it was on backorder. All summer long, everytime I had to transport cupcakes, it was a game of trying to balance them on plates in my car without them sliding off the plate or into each other. Almost everytime, one or both happened, very frustrating. So, as someone who loves to bake but would rather give them to people than eat myself, a nice transportation vessel was definitely in order!

It has 3 stacking trays holding 12 cupcakes each, or in this case, I only needed one tray for cupcakes and it fit the cake very nicely as well! Very promising....and heres the link the the carrier... CLICK HERE!

So if you remember from yesterday, I still have some sugar cookies cutouts to make....but those may have to wait till later as I have some pressing homework to do...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Distractions.....and Yellow Buttermilk Cupcakes...and Sugar Cookies

I'm not sure what it it...I am starting to think I am NOT destined to be a wonderful baker. Either I never have the right ingredients but I only find out when I'm already half through mixing or I'm distracted by my kid's new found entertainment in writing on everything with any pen or marker he can find and I leave out the vanilla! Actually I blame that on Martha...I'm used to adding the vanilla into the sugar and egg mixture, not at the end..but in my want to follow the directions exactly..I forgot that final, crucial addition. I caught it just soon enough to put a little in the leftover batter and stir it into the cake pan but the cupcakes are doomed!

I also found a supposedly amazing sugar cookie recipe as I just purchased the box of 100 cookie cutters from wilton and am anxious to use some. I try to keep my baking supplies nice and organized in labeled tupperware containers...but alas I did not label the salt because I was pretty confident I could remember that the only NON-labeled was Salt and not Baking Soda or Baking Powder. Well my husband already made the mistake of thinking it was sugar for his coffee and I should have taken the notice then, instead I grab what I think is salt because I see no label (nor did I look for one) and of course, I found out well after the fact that it was Baking! Well the cookie batter I licked off my fingers tasted great, I guess we'll just see how they cook off.

I'll just have to try to be more patient I guess.....I'll update with pictures of the final products later!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wilton Cake Decorating Class - Course 1

So this Sunday I start my first real cake decorating class. Its taught at a local Michaels (well local being about an hour away), and I'm really excited!

The other day coming back from visiting my friend...I stopped in to check out all the cake decorating was just too much for me...I couldn't decide what I wanted (which was everything) so I didn't get anything. Now I'm wishing I had at least gotten some halloween sprinkles or something for the cupcakes I want to make tomorrow.

Well tomorrow I should have some more photos to post...and I can't wait until Sunday!!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Logos...oh vey

So I've been working on my logo for a number of months now and know the concept that I'm looking for...both of these have problem is the font! So what do you think? Which one do you prefer...and why...

1. (this font cannot be found anymore....I don't quite know why....its great I think!)

OR heres is my most recent version.....


Share your thoughts in comments! THANKS!

Mmmmm, coconut

The other day we desperately needed some food supplies but I didn't feel like driving ALL the way to town (a whole 15 minutes) so I went to our local little convenience store to grab some food supplies. While checking out the baking section, I had to decide between shredded coconut or cocoa powder...I went with the coconut. So the next day I had to use the Martha Stewart coconut cupcake recipe in her book because I love coconut! The cake batter was DELICIOUS, so I couldn't wait for the finished product.....

The cake was awesome...a little denser than I thought it could be...I tried to fill the cupcakes with raspberry puree, but could barely get any in there...maybe I have to work on my skills....and then I topped them all off with Martha's Seven Minute Frosting...first of all it takes longer than 7 minutes and what strange fascinating stuff it is! It tastes great but is so light you have to really adjust your pressure....then after another 7 minutes, it was already getting to be hard to use and losing its sheen....I will use it again though, just because I want to figure the stuff out! All was topped off with unsweetend coconut...pretty pretty pretty! If you'd like the recipes....shoot me an email or leave a comment.

I think I want to make some decorated sugar cookies next.....

Hello world, its me Martha!

For months now I've been drooling and dreaming about baking delicious cupcakes and decorating beautiful cakes. I've been searching out every baking blog on the web and frequent a number of popular ones of which I'll be adding to my blog roll very quickly. I've held off on starting my own blog until I really had some time to devote to my favorite hobby! Due to my very busy summer schedule....I've had to wait until now...but I'll wait no longer.

I don't know what flipped to switch that turned me into this wanna-be baking goddess, but I'm truly obsessed (though I'm not so much enjoying how hard it is to stay on my diet AND baking all these yummy things) Everyday I want to bake something new and more creative...I constantly think of new flavor combinations and intricate designs that I honestly don't have the patience for in real life. But for now....I will keep learning from some of you other blogging bakers, keep teaching myself and share my experiences here.

The title of my Blog will hopefully be the future name of my business, I thought maybe bringing it to life somewhere might motivate me more in making it a reality!

So to all you other blogging baker goddesses...thanks for writing and BAKING such amazingly inspiring stuff...I hope this blogging experience proves to inspire someone else!

Picture Caption: Blueberry Lemon with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting, Carrot Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting, and Vanilla with Vanilla Buttercream