Tag Archives: Baking

A Modern Twist on a Classic Favorite

As a kid, you quickly learn that most things are better with sprinkles: cookies, ice cream, and, of course, cupcakes. In the last year I’ve been paying more and more attention to how my bakes look as well as taste, and while I am still unwilling to compromise taste for style, I am very big on getting the most bang for your buck. To be honest, I hadn’t given sprinkles a fair shake. I assumed that the only things available were the same things I had grown up with. Imagine my surprise when I discovered Fancy Sprinkles for the Modern Baker . What the what? Turns out all those crazy shape and color combos I’ve been impressed with on Instagram are available in easy color coordinate containers and bento boxes.

I am also a fan of the names of their combos; “Call Me Maybe” and “Purple Pony Party” are two of my favorites. I must admit I’m not quite to the place where I would subscribe to their monthly bento box, but there are a few projects that I have planned that would benefit greatly from some sprinkled embellishments.


I Made A Cake!!!!

Monday I got an email from my husband asking if I would be willing to make this birthday cake for one of his coworkers. My knee jerk reaction was “mmmmm, I don’t think so”, but then he told me it was a surprise birthday cake for the lady who had sweetly sent me my beloved “Baking the World a Better Place” kitchen sign. There was no way I could say “no” to something for the nice lady who gave me presents, right? So I told him I’d try. The rest of the conversation went like this: When did they need it? Wednesday. Next Wednesday? Nope, this Wednesday. Okay then, emergency run to the grocery store it is.

Here’s how things went down.

l1Tuesday night I baked three layers of triple chocolate cake, sandwiched chocolate chocolate chip buttercream between the inner layers, and dirty iced the outside with vanilla buttercream. After all that was done, I placed it carefully in the fridge so it could “set up” over night. l2Tuesday, I made another batch of vanilla buttercream and gave the set cake its final coat of frosting using a icing smoother and the Viva towel method to smooth things out a bit but still maintain the charm of classic buttercream. Then I made my very first drip glaze for the top and side of the cake.  l5There was a minor set back; the Dunkin Donuts near my house was out of pink frosted donuts, plus they had no alternative colors with the required sprinkles. So I bought plain white frosted, took them home, brushed them with a little heavy whipping cream, and dipped them in my own damn sprinkles. That’s right people, I Tim Gunn’ed the thing 😉 l4The rest was really easy. Stack donuts, cookies, and roses, and finish with a handful of sprinkles to tie everything in. Andy was even kind enough to drive me back to his office so I could guarantee that my precious cake baby arrived safely. l3So, will I be taking up cake decorating as a new profession? Probably not, but I did better than I though I would, and Andy said his coworkers were very pleased with the results. I’m gonna chalk it up as a win, and now I have a couple more tools in my baking arsenal.


Sometimes You Don’t Have Time – Baking Mixes

I do a lot of “scratch” baking (there are some situations where store bought just can’t stand up to homemade), but sometimes you need/want baked goods and you don’t have 3 hours to whip egg whites and temper chocolate. I always keep a box of brownie mix and a box of gluten-free cookie mix in my pantry. Along with convenience, box mixes are getting more and more sophisticated. Recently, my Target started stocking a number of swanky looking baking mixes, and I picked up a few, for those “just in case” moments. We hit one this weekend, and I pulled out the Milk Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookie Mix.

Milk1 Milk2 Milk3 Milk4Reaction:

  • This required a little more effort than the standard rip and dump method of most box mixes. That being said though the flavor was spot on, and I learned the only thing more delicious than frosted flakes was toasted frosted flakes. They gave the cookies a chewy toffee-esqe element that made it even more difficult for me to leave them alone.
  • I followed the directions on the box exactly, but as you can see, I did not end up with the prettiest cookies. Fine for me and Andy, but I wouldn’t have given them to other people. My kitchen was really warm while I was cooking, and I think my dough got too soft. Next time I’ll pop the filled cookie sheets in the fridge for 15 minutes before baking.
  • Also, I think it is important to note that these cookies are not vegetarian. Unless otherwise specified, marshmallow contains gelatin which is decidedly not vegetarian. If that is something that doesn’t bother you, bake on, but if it does, you can easily swap the provided marshmallows with Dandies.

Summary:

These cookies are delicious: a tiny bit labor intensive, but completely worth it. I’ll be buying the mix again.


I am sick today but…

I have to tell you about my new favorite way to convalesce. The first part (couch, cats, blanket & tea) is still the same, but instead of my stand by movies (Under the Tuscan Sun, Chocolate & Pride and Prejudice), I have a new love – The Great British Baking Show. It showed up on my Netflix queue, and my day has been that much better for it.

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The food is incredible, and the contestants are really enjoyable to watch. There isn’t any of the maneuvering or sabotaging that you see in a lot of American contests. You are really pulling for these guys, and when you see their masterpieces emerge from the oven in golden baked perfection, you’re truly excited and happy for them.

GBBS2

The show has also reminded me that there are so many beautiful baked goods that I have yet to attempt. I may make a pretty mean cupcake, but there is so much more I want to learn. Now all I have to do is get some rest so I can get off the couch and back into the kitchen.

If you love baking and have Netflix, you should absolutely check this show out. If you want to learn a bit more about the show you can check out these three Buzzfeed features (one, two & three).

Images from here & here.


Chocolate Ooey Gooey Butter Cake

A coworker baked this for our office “tailgating” party last week. It was the kind of good that makes you feel like you’ve done something really dirty when you grab a second piece. I had to go home and try the recipe myself. So here we go, recipe #4 is Chocolate Ooey Gooey Butter Cake.

choclate-ooey-gooey-cakes

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted, plus 8 more tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted, plus additional butter, for greasing pan
  • 1 (18.25-ounce) package chocolate cake mix
  • 1 egg, plus 2 eggs
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

 Heat oven to 350 degrees (325 convection) and prepare and 9-inch round cake pan.

  1. Combine the cake mix, 1 egg, and 1 stick melted butter, and stir until well blended. Pat the mixture into prepared cake pan and set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the remaining 2 eggs, and the cocoa powder.
  3. Lower the speed of the mixer and add the powdered sugar. Mix until everything is well combined. Slowly add the remaining 1 stick of melted butter and vanilla and continue to beat the mixture until smooth.
  4. Pour filling over cake mixture in pan. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the cake; the center should still be a little gooey when finished baking. Let cake partially cool on a wire rack before cutting into pieces.

So I had a bit of a technical fail with this one. First I didn’t have the right size pan which threw off the cooking time. Then I couldn’t figure when to take it out, since you can’t use the clean tooth pick test with this recipe: it’s supposed to be gooey. The edges were overcooked by the time the middle set, but it tasted great. I guess that’s all that matters, right?