Tag Archives: icing

The easiest Easter cupcakes ever!

Hiya, everybody! šŸ˜€ It’s Easter weekend!! The bunny is coming, and bringing sugar to small children that will make them bounce even further off the walls than normal! Friends are gathering, people are worshiping, and the flowers are blooming.

Thank goodness it’s finally spring…Cross fingers, anyway. It was 34 with a wind chill of 28 just four days ago here…*sigh* Four more weeks and I will be done with my degree! It’s so close I can taste it! And then I can blog all the time again! šŸ˜€ And have hobbies! And a life!

Anyway, my friend Dawn is having an Easter dinner tomorrow night, and I have volunteered to make dessert! Only because I found the most adorable recipe on Pinterest and *had* to make it, though! And, of course, I will be cheating a little bit just to make things easier. šŸ™‚ The cupcakes will resemble teeny weeny egg nests, and I am *SOOOOOO* excited! I hope that people will eat them and enjoy them, and think they’re as cute as I do!

So what are we waiting for, let’s get started!

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First, get some cake mix. I grabbed yellow cake because it’s my favorite. šŸ™‚ Next to carrot cake (but people probably wouldn’t want carrot cake for Easter). Then I cheated and got Easy Frost icing cans in chocolate (to be the brown nest!), and finally, some Robin Eggs.

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Mix the cake mix according to the package directions. Mine called for 3 eggs, 1/2 cup of vegetable oil (I used canola), and 1 cup of water.

IMG_20140419_154958783Put your cute little cupcake liners in your pan and fill them ~1/2 way with the cake mix. As you see above, I didn’t have a ladle small enough so I used a gravy ladle. Heh. My mom used to use ice cream scoops. Use whatever works.

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Bake them for 12-17 minutes, until they are done and a toothpick comes out clean. The mix should make ~24 cupcakes. Cool them for 3 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. šŸ™‚

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In the middle of making the cupcakes, I decided that the ladle wasn’t working for me. My mom needed to go to the local mall for something, so I offered to drive her and we swung into Bed, Bath & Beyond for this little gem. EASIEST LADLING EVERRRRRRRR! Seriously, I don’t know why I waited so long for this.

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When the cupcakes had cooled completely, I went ahead and started with the icing. I’ve never used the canned stuff before, but it turns out to be pretty darn easy! šŸ™‚ Press down, out it comes. Bonus! It has a star tip on it!

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Work the icing around the top of the cupcake like a bird’s nest, and then put two of your whopper Robin Eggs on top. Voila! šŸ˜€ Easy, quick, cute, affordable, and totally fun for Easter!!

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And there you have it! A nice little set of eggs nests, all ready for your Easter! And since I will be taking them somewhere, I bought this AWESOME cupcake transporter, that has its own separate little cupcake tower that you can use by itself, or keep in the carrier! Genius!!

I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend! Happy Easter!

Happy-Easter-23

 

 

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Lofthouse At Home: Cookies!

Lofthouse Cookies: You know the kind I’m talking about, even if you don’t know what they’re called. That was me up until about a month ago when my adorable baking enthusiast buddy Jessica saw Mother Thyme’s blog and flipped out that, “OMG SHE HAS LOFTHOUSE COOKIES!!! OMG OMG I HAVE TO BAKE THEM!!!”

No joke. That’s Jessica.

I don’t know if she ever baked them. She’s a Pinterest freak and last I saw, she probably had a million baking recipes pinned. To top it off, she has been on a S’mores kick lately, and she’s completely into baking stuff of that nature. I’m waiting for her next Friday off because she always seems to bake things on her long weekends.

But before Jessica’s spaz attack, I had seen (and eaten) dozens of Lofthouse cookies in the grocery stores and at parties. Hell, I’d even bought them to take to parties on a last minute whim. (That awkward moment when you’re heading out the door and your relative says “Don’t forget to bring your dessert!” Oops..) I just wasn’t aware that they were named “Lofthouse” cookies.

Look familiar? That pretty plastic package that promises way more calories than you should intake in a single day, but they’re just oh so pretty and oh so delicious you can’t resist them…and they’re so soft and moist and…yum.

So, once I put two and two together and realized what Lofthouse cookies were and realized I can make them at home (for cheaper than it is to buy a package, I’d wager), I, too, had a spaz attack and got extremely excited. I’ve been looking for an excuse to use the rest of my cake flour lately, so the fact that this recipe uses it was perfection! And I had some Duncan Hines frosting hanging out in my house for the future cupcakes I plan to bake..so I just used that instead of the actual frosting recipe (however I linked the recipe above, and you can make your own frosting if you’d like). You can never use all of your icing, whether homemade or not, on icing cupcakes or cookies, so it works out. Otherwise I’m notorious for sneaking a spoonful here or there…which is SOOOOOOOOO bad for me!

But enough about my bad habits, let’s bake some cookies!

Ingredients: Cake Flour (3 cups), Baking Powder (3 tsp), Salt (1/2 tsp), Butter (1 cup/2 sticks – room temp), Eggs (2), Sour Cream (2 tbls), Vanilla Extract (1 tsp), Sugar (1 cup)

In a medium bowl, combine cake flour, salt and baking powder. Set it aside.

In a larger bowl, add sugar and butter.

Cream together sugar and butter until fluffy.

Next, add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition.

Then, add the vanilla and sour cream. Mix well to incorporate.

Gradually add flour mixture until combined.

Chill your finished dough in the fridge for at least an hour. I took the time to watch more Holmes on Homes with the Ryan (and give myself more home buying anxiety!!). That show is terrifying and incredible all at once.

When the dough is ready, line your cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using flour on your hands if necessary, roll the dough into balls and press flat on the cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 for approximately 10 minutes. Cool on a wire cooling rack.

I cheated and used Duncan Hines Cream Cheese frosting because I didn’t want to make my own. Sometimes I get lazy. Also, the Confectioner’s Sugar would’ve made a big mess I wasn’t in the mood to clean. šŸ™‚

We clearly had to test one to make sure it turned out well (and ouch – see the bandaid? Left the chef’s knife in the sink and then did dishes…Derp!); Clearly cookies are desired by everyone in this house.

All done! I stuck these guys on a plate and popped them in the fridge to let the icing harden. The Ryan and I both sort of..snuck into the kitchen and stole a few, though. They were sooo delicious! And easy to make at home!

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Let them eat cake! The chocolate kind, of course.

I’m going to throw this out there and then duck: I hate chocolate cake. *ducks!!*

But before you continue to chuck rotten vegetables at me for my obvious travesty against the delectable dessert that is chocolate cake, I will simply take the opportunity to justify said preference with a “to each their own.” I do like chocolate. I love dark chocolate and coconut..Ohmygod. And I really love chocolate frosting…but only if it’s on a yellow or vanilla cake. So why am I baking a chocolate cake?

Because at some point in recent history I seem to have purchased a container of Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa…And because I was not aware of my foresight in purchasing said cocoa, so I bought another container of it this past weekend with the intention of making a recipe my cousin sent me. Now I have two containers of cocoa, and the fact that I’ve never opened the first one I bought (and didn’t even know it existed) should be testimony to how much cocoa we use in this house. To make matters worse, the recipe IĀ swore I saw in the bundle she sent me is not there. Non-existant….So now I gotta use the stuff, right? Truth be told, I will not eat the cake, but send it to work with the Ryan instead. I will therefore get my itch to bake out of my system only without the caloric consequences that would lead to guilt. Foolproof, no? Except…the Ryan loves chocolate cake. Could be dangerous.

Along with making the cake from scratch (which I can honestly say I have never done. Ever.), I also thought it’d be a spiffy idea to make my own vanilla buttercream frosting to go on said cake. Why load it up with chocolate icing? Yuck!

If you want the recipes I used, I got the recipe for the cake here and the recipe for the frosting here. Enjoy!!

So let’s satisfy that craving AND the need to create stuff and make some cake!!

Ingredients! Flour (2 & 3/4 cup), Sugar (2 & 1/4 cup), Baking Soda (2 tsp), Baking Powder (1/2 tsp), Salt (1/2 tsp), Butter (1 cup – 2 sticks – softened), Vanilla Extract (1 & 1/2 tsp), Eggs (4), Cocoa Powder (1 cup, unsweetened) and 2 cups of BOILING WATER.

In a separate bowl, measure out your cocoa powder. In the mean time, I hope you’re boiling your water. šŸ™‚

When your water has boiled, add it to the cocoa.

Whisk until smooth and pretty. You are supposed to let it cool, and since I had just poured boiling water into the bowl and knew it wasn’t going to cool any time soon, I shoved it in the freezer for like 20 minutes. It gave me time to start writing this and type up a study guide for another final exam I have to take tomorrow.

In a medium bowl, sift and mix together all of the dry ingredients. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter until “fluffy” (the recipe’s word..xD)

Add the eggs one at a time until lovely and creamy. Ohya.

Stir in a little bit of the flour mixture…

Alternating with the cocoa mixture.

Pretty, no? Don’t mind the mess. I’m not the most graceful in the kitchen. šŸ˜› But my food is always nummy (well…mostly always).

Lightly grease and flour your cake pan. The recipe called for three 9 inch round pans. I don’t have three 9 inch round pans. I do have this lovely springform pan that the Ryan’s parents got me for Christmas. I lurve it.

Pour your cake mixture in about half way up. Remember to leave room for the cake to rise in the oven. šŸ™‚ Caphiche?Admittedly, I did have more batter than I had room in the cake pan, so I had to pour the rest into an 8×8 brownie pan. The Ryan had his own personal square cake. He was pleased.

Bake that bad boy on 350 for about 30 minutes. I am having issues whereby the middle of the cake won’t bake, so I have to lower the temperature and cook for longer. This went for like 45 minutes on 325 with some aluminum foil over the top. It’s either the pan or our POS apartment oven. The world may never know. šŸ˜› Let it cool and then pop it out and onto a plate.

ICE IT. And then eat it. Ohhhhhh yeaaaaah. (I could do a step-by-step on how to make the icing but it is literally just “cream together butter and confectioner’s sugar. Then add vanilla. Then add milk or heavy cream – I used half and half cuz I didn’t have cream and thought milk would be too light – one tablespoon at a time until it’s the consistency you like. Done. Icing…so I thought it’d be redundant. Especially since I showed you how to make icing in the lemon sugar cookie post :O).

Enjoy!! It’s not too rich and is very yummy (I admit I ate some..curse you, PMS!!!). It is quite crumbly, though, so beware. šŸ™‚ Bon appetite!

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Coming up this week, potato wedges & feature.

So this upcoming week is going to be a bit hectic for me..Actually, the next two are. I am having surgery next Wednesday and will be down and out for the count for about a week – maybe a little more, maybe a little less. Depends on how much my body hates me.

Sadly, this means that I’m bogged down with double the homework and it’s a mad rush to do all of that PLUS my term paper by midnight next Tuesday.

That being said, there will be some cooking AND baking this week! I will be cooking a recipe my dear friend Mike inspired (we went back and forth over email about what I could cook for the blog this week) – and let’s just say that it’s a little Italian in its flare! šŸ™‚ But I’m not telling what it is just yet! Look out for it Thursday Friday (sorry, homework > cooking this week..:( And the Ryan is off, so I can send him on grocery store recon..BWAHAHA). And Saturday, I am going to do a guest collaboration with the girl who has inspired me to get out and bake more, my lovely friend Jessica. She is an avid and obsessive baker, and as an early birthday gift, we’re going to pick her up some new, good-quality tips and bags for icing. And since we’re also going to be in the vicinity of not only a Whole Foods, but Sur La Table, Bed Bath & Beyond, Williams Sonoma and Crate and Barrel, we are absolutely going to be putting together a giant baking collaboration of awesomness – all organic, and all from scratch! Look for that on Saturday!

In the mean time, remember how in my lemon sugar cookie post, I stated that I had about a quarter to a half cup of icing leftover? I decided to make a second batch of cookies to use the rest of that icing, and then send the Ryan to work with them. Many thanks to the Weis around the corner, as they are smart enough to carry cake flour – what a difference! I have not yet baked the dough (I’m letting my oven cool down from 450 degrees that I used for part of tonight’s dinner), but the quality, taste, and malleability of it is exquisite. These will definitely come out much nicer than my previous attempt. Very excited! Check out that pretty dough (sorry, only had camera phone..the Ryan likes to wander off with my digicam sometimes):

Cookies, 2nd time around - with cake flour!

And now for a FEATURE! Remember the avocado aioli? Remember the Mmmm, delicious potato wedges recipe I linked to it? Come to find out, the recipe was more for a different aioli as opposed to the potatoes AND aioli…so I improvised and made up my own recipe for potato wedges, which I baked (hence the 450 degree oven) tonight on my cast iron griddle. Mmm, they came out nice and crispy! And we used the aioli to dip them in. Yum, yum, YUMMY!!

Avocado aioli & potato wedges

So this feature got me thinking: if any of you, along the way, cook any of the recipes that I make, email me or leave me a comment and let me know! I will feature it each week (or more if it starts to become a trend) in one of my posts along with your name and what the recipe was. šŸ™‚ If you made any changes, let me know that too! I love to learn about other peoples’ creative twists, and certainly the way I do it is not the only way.

And finally, a quick step by step on how I did my potato wedges (I don’t measure, so don’t laugh):

Preheat your oven to 450 and let it do its thing.

Next, clean two Russet potatoes and slice them into wedges. In a bowl, toss them with 2 tbls of olive oil to coat. I added garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, rosemary and a small dash of chipotle pepper (for the Ryan) and tossed to coat. Don’t ask me for measurements, I don’t measure. I just kind of dumped it all in there. I can tell you, however, that I dumped more garlic powder (for the Ryan as well) in there than anything else.

I then sprayed my cast iron griddle (that lives permanently in our oven – and is in constant need of re-seasoning šŸ˜¦ ) with a little bit of oil and laid them on there for approximately half an hour. You may want to stop every 10 minutes and turn them, lest they get a little bit burnt on one side. Check them after the half hour and they should be nice and crispy. Leave them in longer if you have to, however. I had a second set of potatoes that didn’t fit onto the griddle that I put in an aluminum-foil lined bake pan, and they came out all grody after half an hour. So we just chucked them (yeah, I totally make mistakes in the kitchen!).

And voila! There you go. šŸ™‚ Any questions, comments? Leave ’em below. Bon appetite!

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Fresh, Springy, Easter-y…Lemon Sugar Cookies.

Happy Easter, everyone! As I write this, I am enjoying a nice cup of Starbucks Morning Blend (yay, K-cup machine!) and dreaming about all of the food I am going to be eating at Easter functions later today. The Ryan and I have two functions to attend, so we will have to taste everything sparingly to leave plenty of room, I suppose. It’s unfortunate that all of my friends and family are such good cooks sometimes. But on to the cookies!

The other day as I was doing my normal rounds on foodgawker, I came across a beautiful recipe for lemon sugar cookies with lemon buttercream icing – all from scratch. As soon as I opened the recipe, I immediately knew – those were coming out of my oven this weekend. The pictures were so bright and fresh, I have never wanted to bake anything more in my life!

I was relieved to read that the only thing on the ingredient list that I didn’t have in my house was cake flour. Oh, and a cookie sheet. So, after work, I headed to the store. I am pleased to thank Target for my brand new KitchenAid cookie sheet, and I am angry at all of the grocery stores for not carrying cake flour. I ended up with pastry flour, which is NOT the same as cake flour (the protein content of pastry flour is higher than that of cake flour, and cake flour is bleached to make it more delicate, where pastry flour is not), but out of the two evils (pastry flour or all purpose), it was the one I decided to go with. That being said, it is possible to substitute all purpose flour for cake flour by using a 1:1 ratio minus 2 tablespoons, and adding 2 tablespoons of cornstarch (the cornstarch helps to break down the protein and lighten the flour).

I didn’t do that, though, I just went balls to the wall with my pastry flour and had a good time. With the Easter parties we are attending this weekend, I had the perfect excuse to make these cookies. Normally if I want to bake something, I send the Ryan to work with the goods. We may eat a piece or two..or three, but for the most part, we let the hungry software engineers have at it. That’s the good thing about the Ryan’s work – plenty of hungry nerds to feed. As I understand it, most of my baked goods don’t make it past a half hour there. Try getting away with that at my office – not likely. Everyone just looks at the food and says, “That looks so good, but I can’t! It will mess up my diet!” It sucks to work with all women sometimes.

These cookies, however, will be eaten by hungry Easter party goers and their children today, so all is well. šŸ™‚ Here is the creation of these lovely Easter treats step by step:

All the ingredients!

Ingredients: 2 Lemons (Juice and Zest), 3 Cups Pastry Flour, 3 Teaspoons Baking Powder, 1/2 Teaspoon Salt, 2 Large Eggs, 1 Cup Sugar, 3 Cups Confectioner’s Sugar and 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla; 1 & 1/2 Cups Unsalted Butter; My hand mixer and flour sifter.

Sifty sifty!

Sift three cups of the flour into a medium sized bowl.

Dry ingredients

Add the salt and baking powder, mix until well blended and set aside.

Wet Ingredients

Next, set to work on the “wet” ingredients. Using your electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until it’s fluffy.

Eggs, one at a time.

Next, add the eggs one at a time and mix in after each addition.

Lemon juice, zest, vanilla

Finally, add the lemon juice, zest, and vanilla and mix until combined.

Add flour mixture

Gradually add the flour mixture and combine thoroughly.

Dough!

You should now have a pretty dough! šŸ™‚ Pop it into the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Parchment Paper

After the dough has chilled, line your cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Flatten the dough balls

Roll small balls of dough between your hands (use flour on your hands to keep the dough from sticking) and then press them between your palms to flatten out a bit. Line your cookie sheet with them and place them in the oven for 10-12 minutes. I found that following the directions of 3 inch dough balls made my cookies bake together onto my sheet (oops!) so I made about 1 inch balls and flattened them. I then placed them two to a row and they came out a much smaller, more manageable size and didn’t bake together. Also, my dough was a bit hard after being in the fridge, so I had to let it warm up a tiny bit at room temperature before it was malleable enough to work with properly.

While your cookies bake, get started on the icing.

Butter & Confectioner's Sugar

With your hand mixer, slowly combine the butter and sugar. I did my sugar one cup at a time and did not add the next amount of sugar until my mixture was a nice whipped texture.

Add zest & juice

By the third cup of sugar, the mixture will not “whip” anymore because there is not enough moisture. Add the lemon zest and juice, and mix again. This time, it will come out nice and fluffy.

Final product

The finished product of your icing should look like this. Start icing those cookies! I only used a thin layer of icing on my cookies, and I found that I had about a quarter to half cup of icing left when I finished. If you ice thinly like I do, you may want to halve the recipe for the icing.

Cookies!

Ta da! Lemon sugar cookies with lemon buttercream icing. The cookies alone are great, but the icing is really what makes them pop. I can’t wait to serve these later today at our parties. I am sure they will be a hit. Enjoy!!

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