Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween!  I hope there are lots of treats in store for you today.  I had the good fortune to be invited to my friend Mandy's Halloween party this past weekend.  Mandy loves this holiday and decorates more for Halloween than for Christmas.  Tonight, I get see my 1 year old nephew dressed up like a cowboy.  He will be my only trick or treater.  We live in a neighborhood with a busy street and not too many kids.  Growing up in the country we never had them either.  Good for my nephew though, I go out of my way to get him something special since he's the only one.

These cookies were left over from my recent sugar cookie project.  I also had a ton of black royal icing left over.  Luckily, I needed a teat to take to Mandy's anyway.  Spiderwebs are super easy with royal icing, all you need is a toothpick.  Simply pipe and flood your background with whatever color you desire (I chose white and orange).  Then take black flood icing and make three circles to look like a bull's eye.  Then, starting from the inside, drag a toothpick through the black and background icing at regular intervals to the outside of the cookie.  Allow to dry overnight.  The spider bodies are a royal icing "blob" made with a Wilton #12 tip and the legs were piped with a Wilton #1 tip.  If you can, give the spiders a few hours to dry a bit as well before taking them anywhere.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sugar Cookies

I made these cookies for my mom's school.  It's Be Drug Free week for the students and they asked me to make 275 frosted sugar cookies for the event.  The school mascot is a timber wolf, so they went with a paw print theme.  This is my first time creating cookies for an order that large.  I basically spent all weekend piping and flooding, calling in recruits (my wonderful mom) on Sunday to help me finish.   It was actually really fun to create cookies at such a large scale.

Sugar Cookies makes about 24 large cookies
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 stick margarine
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour

Mix together the shortening, margaring, and sugar.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Add in vanilla.  Mix in baking powder and flour.  Refrigerate for at least one hour.  
Lightly flour a cutting board.  Roll and cut out dough into desired shapes.  Bake at 350 degrees for 9-10 minutes for larger cookies.  Allow to cool and decorate as desired.

Royal Icing
2 pounds powdered sugar (about 8 cups)
10-12 tablespoons water
6 tablespoons meringue powder
2 tablespoons flavoring such as vanilla if desired

Put the powdered sugar, meringue powder, and water in a bowl.  With the whisk attachment of the mixer, gently start mixing the frosting.  Mix on low to medium speed for 7 minutes.  The frosting will look a little funky for a bit, but at the end of the 7 minutes, it will come together as a smooth icing.  The icing will be fairly thick at this point.  Add food coloring if desired.  The black food coloring takes some time to mix in and become the correct color.  Gradually thin the icing one tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

 When I first saw these cupcakes on Annie's Eats, I knew that I had to make them for my bosses' upcoming birthday.  I work in a small office, so ever since I started baking more, I like to bring in cupcakes for people's birthdays. (I have to get rid of all these baked goods somewhere).  My bosses' are married and they both love coffee.  In fact, I had just seen a new container of pumpkin spice coffee on the counter in the office when I read about these cupcakes.  I deviated from Annie's original recipe to accommodate the time I had available and the ingredients I had in the pantry.  I also chose a cream cheese frosting rather than a whipped cream frosting.  I feel like pumpkin and cream cheese frosting go hand in hand and always feel like whipped cream frosting leaves something to be desired.  The cupcakes are interesting in flavor because to me they have both a subtle coffee flavor and a subtle pumpkin flavor.  People who don't like pumpkin enjoyed them and people who didn't like coffee also enjoyed these cupcakes.  It's really the best of both worlds.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes adapted from Annie's Eats 
makes about 24 cupcakes (I got 24 regular and 6 mini)

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
6 packets Starbucks Via instant coffee (I used decaf) (it's about 3 full tablespoons)
1 1/2 tablespoons baking soda
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tablespoon ground nutmeg
1/4 tablespoon ground cloves
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup olive oil (you can use vegetable oil, olive oil is all that I had in my pantry)
4 eggs

Mix together olive oil, brown sugar, and granulated sugar.  Add in eggs one at a time.  Mix in the pumpkin puree.  Next add the cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, baking powder and baking soda.  Then mix in the instant coffee.  Finally, add in the flour and mix until just combined.

Put 2 tablespoons of batter into prepared muffin tin.  Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely and frost with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Buttercream
1 stick butter at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar

Beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Add in vanilla.  Slowly beat in the powdered sugar until smooth.  If you want a softer frosting,  add water 1 teaspoon at a time until desired consistency is achieved.

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