Cake Decorating Class: Part III

My final week of cake decorating we were told to come to class with some ideas of how we wanted to decorate our final cake.  Of course I went in with nothing in mind except wanting to practice more flowers.  We were given two cupcakes and an 8-inch cake and were basically told to go for it.  Oh, we also learned one more new trick for flowers.  Freezer flowers!  I love this trick!  You pipe the flowers on a piece of parchment paper and let them harden in the freezer.  Then you can put them on the sides of your cake.  Makes it so much easier than piping flowers on the side of a cake.

photo1photo2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For my cupcakes I decided to practice my roses more.  They definitely take a ton of practice but I think they are so worth it.  I love the way that they fill up the top of the cupcake with decoration.  So there you go, there are my cupcakes.  They could be better but I think it wasn’t too shabby for 3 weeks of cake decorating class.  Now I just need to keep practicing.

Now for the cake.I wanted this cake to be my pièce de résistance, it was after all, going to serve as my final project so I had to do something that would be worthy of an A+.  I decided to stay with the flower motif but wanted to really go all out with it.  Basically covering the cake with as many flowers as I could.  I figured adding in some vines would be a good way to go to really tie it all together.

photo4photo3

I’m definitely happy with the way it turned out.  I loved covering the cake with the vines and the flowers.  And while I’m not sure I’ll be making a ton of cakes to decorate, it was definitely good practice for my frosting roses and flowers.  And see those flowers on the side of the cake?  Those are the freezer flowers.  Love them!

photo5 I’m my own worst critic but I think this was my best project yet.  And not too bad after three classes.  I can’t wait to take more advanced classes.  So what do you think about my final project?

Cake Decorating Class: Part II

Week two of cake decorating class was all about frosting flowers and fondant.  It was definitely more successful that the first week but I think that’s because working with fondant is like working with play-doh.  It’s super easy to roll out and cut shapes from it that look like they took a lot of work.

Just looking at the flowers and the butterflies seems super impressive but I pretty much used cookie cutters to make the shapes.  I think I’m going to have to start using some fondant decorations on my cupcakes to really up the wow factor of them.  cupcake

Frosting flowers on the other hand aren’t quite as easy as fondant.  They definitely require a bit more skill to get the frosting to do what you want it to do.  And did you know that you have to make those roses on a wooden dowel sharpened like a pencil and then transfer them to the cake on a pair of scissors?!?  I didn’t and it’s definitely as hard as it sounds to make the transfer.

IMG_3467[1]

Excuse the blurry picture from my phone but there’s my cake complete with roses and lily of the valley (which was much easier than the roses).  I had originally just had the roses and pipped pink dots all over it but when I saw the lily of the valley I had to try it.  So I scrapped all the pink dots off for the lily (you can see the remnants of the pink dots smudged into the white frosting).

Stay tuned for the final installment of cake decorating class!  I really think I improved by the third class!

Cake Decorating Class

It’s been a long 3 months away but I’m excited to share about my most recent adventure.  Cake decorating class!  I’m taking the class through Party Favors in Brookline and I couldn’t
be more excited about it.  It’s a three week class where we learn everything from basic frosting, to flowers, to fondant!  And the best part of this class is that I don’t have to make the cake or frosting to bring with me.  Less prep!

IMG_3427[1]

Last Wednesday was my first class and it was a ton of fun but I have to tell you I was a little deflated after.  I walked into class all confident thinking I’d be the star.  I mean how couldn’t I, right?  Well making pretty things with cupcakes isn’t as easy as it looks.  Sure I can do all sorts of swirls on my cupcakes but that doesn’t transition over into frosting animals and flowers apparently.

IMG_3431[1]

IMG_3432[1]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first class was on cupcakes and we started with a few different kinds of flowers.  Let me tell you, getting the right pressure and movement of the frosting is tough.  After flowers we move into animals.  Penguins, pigs, and dogs to be specific.  The penguin wasn’t too bad, it’s pretty basic.  But as you can see my little piggy isn’t as cute as he could be.  And don’t even get me started on the dog.  It looked like a turd and I couldn’t get the shape I wanted so I scrapped it for another penguin since those little guys are pretty cute.

IMG_3429[1]

IMG_3435[1]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clearly I need to practice a little more.  I’m nervous that we’re going to be working on roses this week because my attempt to teach myself was disastrous.  Keep your fingers crossed that with some one-on-one teaching I’ll get a little better at this!

Cranberry Orange Cupcakes

Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching…seriously, where did November go?  I wasn’t planning on necessarily making any Thanksgiving cupcakes but we were having a potluck at work so of course I was going to bring cupcakes.  Knowing that someone was already bringing a pumpkin dessert…pumpkin cheesecake which was amazing!…I started racking my brain for something that would be Thanksgivingish.  Cranberries!  And orange with cranberry is a match mead in heaven!

IMG_3127[1]

For Cupcakes

Makes 24

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 Tsp. salt
  • 1 Tsp. baking powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • zest and juice of one orange
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries tossed with 1 Tbsp. flour
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two cupcake tins with 24 liners.
  2. Beat eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add in sugar and mix until well incorporated and light yellow in color.
  3. Add in oil and make sure to mix until well incorporated.
  4. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda.  Slowly add into the egg, sugar, and oil mixture and alternate with the milk until well combined.  Then add in orange juice and zest and mix well.
  5. Gently fold in fresh cranberries.
  6. Divide batter among the cupcake liners and bake for 23-25 minutes or until golden brown and the tops are springy to the touch.

Cranberry orange

For Frosting

  • 1 stick of butter at room temperature
  • 8 oz. of 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. Mix together butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer
  2. Add in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed
  3. Mix in vanilla extract until smooth

Cranberry orange

The bitterness of the cranberries mostly cooks out but gives it enough flavor to pair nicely with the sweetness of the batter and the orange.  This cupcake pairs very nicely with the  mostly neutral flavor of the cream cheese frosting.  But I did consider making a spiced version of the frosting with cinnamon and a bit of ginger which would probably go well.  Whatever you choose for the frosting, these will make a great end to a Thanksgiving or holiday meal.

Pear Spice Cupcakes with Honey Mascarpone Frosting

FallFall is the best time of year.  It’s finally cool and no longer humid, boot wearing weather!  Plus it’s leaf peeping time!  Looking at the beautiful colors of the fall is one of the few times that I love the weather in New England.  

Pear

Going apple picking is one of my favorite fall activities.  If you spend any time on Pinterest you know that apples and pumpkins get all the credit in the fall recipe arena.  The apple and pumpkin definitely dominate most of the recipes you see at this time of the year.  But everyone forgets that fall is also pear season!  I love pear picking just as much as apple picking.  Plus pear recipes at this time of year seem so much more unique than an apple or pumpkin recipe.

For Cupcakes

[Inspired by Annie Eats]

Makes 16 cupcakesPear spice

  • 3 medium pears peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1 stick butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar plus 3 Tbsp. sugar, divided
  • 1 and 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 Tsp. cinnamon
  • Dash of ginger
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • 2 Tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 Tsp. salt
  • 1 Tsp. vanilla bean paste (found on Amazon)
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  1. Heat oven to 350° F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  Set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of water in a large skillet over medium heat.  Stir in the pears, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, the cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.  Reduce heat to medium-low and cook mixture until the pears are fork tender, about 7-8 minutes.  Set pear mixture aside.
  3.  In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. In a separate bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light in color.
  5. Add eggs one at a time and mix to combine.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed.
  6. Add in half of the flour mixture into the sugar, butter, and egg mixture and mix to combine.  Add in half of the milk.  Repeat with the remaining flour mixture and milk until all ingredients are combined.
  7. Fold in cooked pears until well combined in the batter.
  8. Divide batter among the cupcake pans and cook the cupcakes for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

For FrostingPear spice

  • 1 stick of butter at room temperature
  • 8 oz. mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-2 Tbsp. milk (as necessary)
  1. Cream together butter and mascarpone cheese until combined.  Add in honey.
  2. Add in powdered sugar one cup at a time until well combined.
  3. If the mixture is too thick, add in a little bit of milk at a time until you get your desired consistency.
  4. Frost cupcakes.

These cupcakes taste like a bite of fall!  The pears make it so these cupcakes almost can’t dry out.  I had one when they were fresh and one from the freezer a week later and they tasted just as good as the first day.  The honey mascarpone frosting is pretty sweet but the actual cupcake isn’t super sugary so it balances out when you eat them together.  I brought these cupcakes into work and someone told me the cupcakes reminded her of her childhood.  She couldn’t quite pin point why but I’m going to assume that is a good thing!

Bacon Chocolate Cupcakes

It’s no secret that bacon is popping up in just about every recipe lately.  Just take a look at Pinterest and you’ll see everything from bacon cookies, bacon corn bread, and bacon pancakes.  So it only seemed natural to follow the trend and put bacon in a cupcake.  Because everyone likes bacon, right?  And everyone likes chocolate!  They’re a prefect salty/sweet combination.Bacon

For Cupcakes

Makes about 18 cupcakes

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (I’ve done them with plain skim milk and have been fine)
  • 3 tablespoons bacon grease
  • 6-8 strips of bacon cooked crisp and crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven o 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside.
  2. Sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl.
  3. Add eggs, warm water, buttermilk, bacon grease, and vanilla, and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes.
  4. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well mixed (it will be very liquidy but trust me, this is how it’s supposed to be).
  5. Fold in crumbled bacon, reserving about 2-3 tbsp. of bacon for sprinkling on top if desired.
  6. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

For Frosting

  • 8 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 stick of butter at room temperature
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-3 Tbsp. milk
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  1. Cream together butter and cream cheese until smooth.
  2. Add in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time scraping the sides of the bowl down as you go.
  3. Mix in milk 1 Tbsp. at a time until the frosting is smooth and creamy.  If it is too hard you can add in a bit more milk.
  4. Add in cocoa and mix to combine.

Bacon

I know they sound like a weird combination, especially with the bacon grease in the batter, but trust me, the bacon and the chocolate works!  It’s salty and sweet like a chocolate covered pretzel.  In fact, I feel like I could have added in a little more bacon to the batter to give it more of a salty taste.  They were definitely more of a novelty kind of cupcake that some people were a little nervous to try but if you can get people to try them it’s definitely worth it!  They’ll be impressed!

Lucky Charms Cupcakes: They’re Magically Delicious

Seriously, it’s been over three months since I’ve posted?  That’s horrid.

And I have so much to update, especially my giant baking project in January but that’s for another time.  I have to start with the most recent.

IMG_1481[1]

As we all know, this past weekend was St. Patrick’s Day and I like to believe that no one celebrates it better than we do in Boston.  My wonderful friend Nip lives on the parade route so the whole weekend is a party at her place.  I’ve done a few St. Patrick’s cupcakes like car bomb and green velvet but I wanted something new this year.  What better than Lucky Charms cupcakes?  They’re Irish, right?  I forgot how much I liked Lucky Charms when I started making these.  I’m not usually into sugary cereal but there’s something about this one.

For Cupcakes

[Inspired by The Cupcake Project]

Makes 36 mini cupcakes

For the crust:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups crushed Lucky Charms
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  1. Preheat oven to 350 FIMG_1484[1]
  2. In a small bowl, mix together crushed Lucky Charms and melted butter
  3. Divide mixture evenly between the mini cupcake liners.  Pack it firmly into the bottoms of the liners
  4. Bake for 10 minutes

For the cupcakes:

  • 1/4 cup corn syrp
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. cake flour
  • 3/4 Tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 Tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 Tsp. salt
  • 4 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups Lucky Charms
  1. Mix together all flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder
  2. In a large bowl, mix together sugar, corn syrup, and oil
  3. When these are well mixed, beat in egg and vanilla
  4. Mix dry ingredients into the wet alternating with the whole milk in two batches
  5. Fold in the Lucky Charms
  6. Divide among the mini cupcake liners that have the pre baked crust and bake for 11-13 minutes

IMG_1483[1]For Frosting

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3 cups of powdered sugar
  • 2-3 Tbsp. milk
  • Green food coloring (optional)
  1. Beat butter in a mixer until soft
  2. Add in powdered sugar one cup at a time
  3. Mix in 2 Tbsp. milk.  If the frosting is too thick, add in more milk one Tbsp. at a time
  4. Mix in green food coloring if using and frost cupcakes.  Decorate with Lucky Charms marshmallows

You know how Lucky Charms has those crunch little marshmallows?  Of course you do! They melt into the batter for a nice swirl of color and taste.  And the dry cereal pieces give the cake some texture.  I thought these tasted a lot like the cereal.  They should be breakfast cupcakes, right?

I’ve got to leave you with my favorite St. Paddy’s Day flare I got to wear.  How can you not love an Irish cupcake tattoo??!!?

IMG_1514[1]The necklaces, stickers, and glow bracelets were all good and fun but this has to be the best!  Thanks to Nip’s sister Kathy, this might be my annual face decoration!