Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Birthday Alien Cupcakes

I'm going to keep today's post short and sweet, because to be honest, I didn't actually make these cupcakes. But I had to share them with you, because they're amazing.

On a side note....I'm pretty sure that's Lisa Frank confetti that I found. Which is awesome.

Yes, that is a Toy Story alien cupcake. My awesome baby sister made them for my birthday today!! I'm so stoked! Yeah, I'm an adult another year older....but my sister knows the way to my heart is through Disney treats (well, Disney anything, really).

I can't wait to share these with my friends and family tonight!! Wait....do I HAVE to share?? ;)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Crockpot Pear and Cherry Cobbler

I hate cooking. There, I said it. Baking is one thing, but cooking? Cooking has the potential to send my OCD into overdrive. Here's the dealio: baking is sort of like a formula. If you don't do certain steps in a certain order, or if you don't put the right amount of certain ingredients in, you can completely ruin your baking. With cooking, you can just throw whatever you want together, and as long as it's cooked and it tastes good, you can call it a meal. No recipe or order required. It drives me BONKERS. I don't do well just wingin' it.

One thing cooking DOES have going for it is the crockpot. Coming from someone who is ALWAYS hungry, there is nothing worse than having to take the time to prepare dinner when you're already STARVING. That's why I looove using our crockpot- just throw everything in the pot in the morning and it'll be ready by dinner time! And who would guess that it also makes some mean desserts!

I know it's not much to look at (it's scooped out of a crock pot, whaddaya expect?), however it more than makes up for that in taste. This is something our lovely next door neighbor Yolanda brought over to a Christmas party one year, and it was a HUGE hit. I HAD to get the recipe from her, stat! So here it is for you guys:

Crockpot Pear and Cherry Cobbler

1 large can cherry pie filling
2 cans diced pears in juice
1 cap of almond extract
1 box yellow cake mix
1 pkg brown sugar instant oatmeal
1 stick butter- sliced

Spray crockpot with butter cooking spray. Add ingredients in order listed, placing butter slices over the dry mix. Place paper towels on top, close lid. 
Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Um, YEAH. It's THAT easy! Easy and delicious?? SOLD. GAWD...I love my crockpot and the easy-peasy goodness it produces. =)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Malted Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

I'm a chocolate girl through-and-through. When I'm craving something sweet, it's one of two things: peach ring candies or something chocolate. The chocolate cravings I get from my mom without a doubt. Or perhaps it's simply a girl thing? Either way, if you're a chocolate lover, making these cupcakes is a must. I bring you, the delicious malted chocolate chip cupcakes:

And if you're thinking, "YUM" you are absolutely right. They are most certainly yum. I've gotta say, while the chocolate chip cupcake is pretty tasty, it's honestly the frosting that really makes it. Whole lotta yum going on right there. I found the recipe in a book titled "cupcakes". I crap you not. Straight and to the point- I like it. Cupcakes by Shelly Kaldunski. I should add: this recipe makes 6 jumbo cupcakes....yikes. I instead got 12 regular cupcakes out of this recipe.

Jumbo Malted Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

1 2/3 C. All-purpose flour
2/3 C. malted milk powder
1/2 C. sugar
1/4 C. firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 whole milk
6 tsp unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (although honestly....regular chocolate chips will be fine.)

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, malted milk powder, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat until just combined; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Stir in the chopped chocolate. 

Chocolate Malt Buttercream

3 large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 C. Sugar
Pinch of salt
1 C unsalted butter, room temp
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder 
4 oz semisweet chocolate
1/4 C malted milk powder
1/4 C milk

In a large heatproof bowl, combine the egg whites and sugar. Set the bowl over (but not touching) simmering water in a saucepan and heat the mixture, whisking constantly, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is very warm to the touch, about 2 minutes. Remove the bowl from the saucepan. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the egg white mixture until it is fluffy, cooled to room temperature, and holds stiff peaks, about 6 minutes.
With the mixture on medium-low speed, add the salt and the butter, a few pieces at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes more. 

In a separate bowl, whisk the cocoa powder into the melted and slightly cooled semisweet chocolate. Whisk the malted milk powder into the milk until dissolved. Add chocolate mixture and milk mixture to the base and beat until combined. Use right away.

Chocolate lovers BEWARE: these are QUITE addicting. You have been warned. ;)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Tulips

Happy Easter everyone!!

I've gotta be honest, Easter is just an ok holiday for me. I mean, I'm all down for the egg hunts, the big dinner, and don't even get me started on the chocolate bunnies (like the whopping two-pounder my sis and I were eyeballing at Target the other day). But let's be honest- Easter is no Christmas. Or Thanksgiving. At least to me. I think my favorite part of Easter is the spring-y goodies I have the excuse to make. Like my chick cake pops last year. Or these tulip cookies.

Yep, nothin' too fancy. ALTHOUGH, can we agree that 20-second icing is like the best icing ever?? I'm in freakin' LOVE. Yes, I know, I'm lazy. But seriously, if you decorate cookies and you HAVEN'T tried using 20-second icing, go over to Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle. You'll be glad you did. For something simple like these, it made decorating so much easier and faster. Nothing against the outline-flood method, but I imagine I'll be using this a lot more often now.

So these beauties are what will be gracing my table for Easter tonight. What beautiful dessert will be on YOUR table tonight?

Happy chocolate bunny day Easter! 
I DID tell you...I'm in it for the chocolate bunnies. ;)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Happy Birthday Mom!

I'll keep this short and sweet, because while all you normal people are getting up to greet the morning, I just got off work and am totally ready to hit the sack. Every year, I ask my family members what treats they want for their birthday. Usually it's the run of the mill cupcakes, cake, or cookies. But this year when I asked my mom, she requested a Boston Cream Pie, something totally new. She's been wanting one FOREVER, so without further ado, I present to you: Mom's Birthday Boston Cream Pie!!!

Boston Cream Pie

3 large eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 C. granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
3/4 C. cake flour

1/2 C. granulated sugar
1/4 C. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 C. milk
6 large egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

1/2 C. granulated sugar
3 Tbl light corn syrup
2 Tbl water
4 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Beat together egg yolks and vanilla at medium speed until blended. Beat in half of sugar until very thick and pale. Using clean, dry beaters, beat together egg whites and salt at medium speed until very soft peaks form. Gradually beat in remaining sugar until stiff, but not dry, peaks form. Fold yolk mixture into egg whites. Sift flour over mixture; fold in gently. Pour batter into greased 9-inch cake pan. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes. 

While cake cools, prepare filling. In a saucepan, mix together sugar and flour. Gradually whisk in milk, then egg yolks, vanilla, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat; boil for 1 minute, whisking constantly. Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl. Press plastic wrap on surface and chill for 30 minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut cake in half. Spread evenly with filling. Top with remaining cake layer. 

To prepare glaze, in a saucepan, bring sugar, corn syrup, and water to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; let stand for 1 minute. Whisk until smooth. Gradually pour glaze over cake, allowing it to drip down sides and let stand until the glaze sets. 

I found this simple recipe in our Great American Home Baking cookbook. As you might be able to tell from the picture, my chocolate "glaze" wasn't quite "glaze"-y. It still tasted good though. All that matters right? I can't wait to dig into this tonight, because today  is my mom's birthday! Woo! Let us eat pie!...er....cake!


Monday, March 25, 2013

Brush Embroidery Butterflies

*Sigh*...Ok...I'm back. I've been having SERIOUS issues adjusting from vacation mode to reality mode. I know, it's been a month, but I have had SERIOUS vacation brain, where I don't want to do ANYTHING. But I'm back. And it's about time, because I've got a pile of goodies that I have to share with you guys. 

So I've been DYING to use this brush embroidery technique that I've been seeing everywhere. I mean, talk about fancy, those brush embroidery flowers are just straight up elegant. So I wanted to test the technique on some butterflies. I mean, I've only seen it on flowers, but why not? It's just brushing the icing with a paint brush. Sounds easy enough. And one of our awesome daycare moms, Krista, had a birthday coming up. Two birds, one stone. 

This was the end result. They didn't turn out bad, but they didn't turn out how I expected them to. And I'm not sure what I was doing wrong...Hmm... I'll have to give this technique another try sometime to get it down. Along with these cookies, Krista got this awesome card my mom made to match it. Check it out- see the resemblance? Coordinated card-goodie gifts are the coolest!

Stay tuned- I have lots more to share with you! In the less-than-a-month near future. =)

Monday, February 18, 2013

These are a Few of my Favorite Things- Disneyland!

Hey Guys!

For my first installment of TFFT, I feel it's appropriate to talk about my favorite place, and the Happiest Place on Earth: Disneyland!! And why is it appropriate, you ask? Because as you're reading this post, I just so happen to be on my way down to Disneyland! Huzzah!

My taller-than-me baby sister and I our last trip.

Growing up, I was one of those Disney kids: always watching a Disney movie, always a Disney princess for Halloween, Disney EVERYTHING. I was like this until... well, come to think of it, I guess I never really grew out of being a Disney kid. :) So considering we were one of "those" Disney families, we've been to Disneyland er, a few times. It helps that it's only a short 8 hour drive. Happiest place on earth is TOTALLY worth it.

My dad and I tried on aviator caps in DCA. Adventure is out there!

We've also been to Disney WORLD in Orlando. That was way back when, when I was like...12. I think another trip there is in order. And Harry Potter Land. OBV.

So, I'll spare you guys a gruelingly long post and keep it short instead. Because believe me, if I don't keep it short, we'll be here for days.  So, how about it? Any other die-hard Disneyland fans out there? Bakers with a secondary Disney obsession? Or perhaps the other way around?