Tuesday, February 15, 2011

This little piggy stayed home

My little nephew is 5 months old already!  I can't believe it.  He is so sweet and silly.  He is totally developing a personality!  It cracks me up.  This little piggy cake was made in honor of his 5 month birthday.  Its just a yellow cake with my favorite chocolate frosting.  Piggy is made out of marshmallow fondant and the grass and flowers are royal icing.  It was my first time using my "grass and hair" piping tip, and I must say, it's kind of fun!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine Brownie Treat

I was looking for a fun and easy Valentine's sweet to take to project night last Wednesday and I stumbled upon I Am Baker's alternate ego I Am Mommy.  Her post had a cute idea for Valentine's Day treats to make with your kids.  The brownie hearts with strawberries were just the thing I was looking for. 

I made it even easier, by baking my brownies in a heart shaped cake pan, rather than cutting out individual hearts.  Spread on a package of cream cheese lightly sweetened with about a 1/2 cup powdered sugar and add strawberries.  Awesome dessert.  So easy.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Giveaway Winner!

I was trying to figure out the best way to randomly determine a winner for the CSN Giveaway and I asked my husband what he thought. "Um, I can lend you a hat."  Of course.  The easiest way.  So, I wrote the numbers down, mixed them up and drew our winner.  The winner is...Katrina!  Congratulations Katrina, I will be emailing you with the giveaway code.  Thanks to everyone who stopped by to enter.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Brownies


For a long time, I have been looking for the perfect brownie recipe.  My mom always made great brownies, but try as I might, I could never replicate them.  As basic a bar cookie as  you can find, for whatever reason  I could not make a tasty brownie.  I had finally given up and decided to make my brownies from a box.  Then, oddly enough, my grandma gave me an old issue of Cooking Illustrated.  Lo and behold, these was a whole discussion on brownies.  I had never read Cooking Illustrated before and I was so pleased with the discussion regarding the pitfalls of making brownies.  I decided to try their recipe with fantastic results and just a tiny bit of modification.  This brownie is the perfect union of fudgy and cakey.  The cake flour makes the brownie not too dense, yet the melted chocolate gives it a ton of flavor.  The best part?  The fact that this recipe makes a 9x13 pan of these beauties, lots of deliciousness to go around.
 
Brownies* adapted from Cooking Illustrated
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted (I used 70% cacao Trader Joe's Pound Plus Bar)
1 1/2 sticks (12 ounces) butter, melted
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups cake flour

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a heatproof bowl in the microwave.  Add the sugar and mix well.  Add eggs one at a time fully mixed in.  Add vanilla.  Mix in baking powder and cake flour.  Pour into a well greased 9x13 pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool.

*The original recipe calls for a little more sugar and salt.  I reduced the sugar and don't add the salt.  I find that the brownies are delicious anyway.  I also typically omit the nuts that are called for in the original because I share my goodies with lots of picky eaters :)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Giveaway Goof

Sorry, for those of you interested in the CSN giveaway, I accidentally posted the wrong date.  The deadline for entry is actually Thursday, February 10th at midnight CST.  Thanks Liz for pointing that out and again, I am sorry for any confusion.

Friday, February 4, 2011

100 Day Cupcakes

My mom teaches first grade and she asked me to make some cupcakes to share with her students to celebrate their 100th day of school.  I made these cupcake toppers out of chocolate and white chocolate candy melts.  The cake is just box mix chocolate cake with Wilton's Chocolate buttercream frosting, slightly adapted because my mom has a student who cannot consume dairy.



Chocolate Buttercream Frosting adapted from Wilton.com
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup dairy free margarine
3 ounces melted and cooled bittersweet chocolate (I used 70 percent cacao)
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4-5 tablespoons of water

Beat together the shortening and margarine until creamy.  Add in the melted chocolate and beat until combined.  Slowly add the powdered sugar.  Add vanilla.  Add as much water as needed until the frosting is the desired consistency.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

CSN Giveaway

I am excited to announce that CSN stores has offered the opportunity for one lucky reader to win a $25 electronic gift certificate to any of their over 200 online stores where you can find anything from Delsey Luggage to Fiestaware!




To win, leave me a comment between now and Thursday, February 10th at midnight CST.  Sadly, this giveaway is only available for readers in the United States and Canada. FYI, Canadian readers, international shipping charges may apply.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Igloo Cake


The weather here is crazy.  We are having "blizzard like conditions."  Seems like a good time to snuggle up with some hot chocolate and igloo cake. 

I have had this cake bookmarked for a long time in an old issue of Martha Stewart Living.  The cake is meant to be an ice cream cake, but those I was sharing with don't care for ice cream cake.  I simply baked a box cake mix in a glass bowl.  I made it into three layers, filing the layers with lemon cream aka lemon curd mixed with whipped cream.  I then crumb coated the outside of the cake with American buttercream.  To make the entrance of the igloo, I used mini marshmallows and then piped over them with buttercream when making the "ice blocks."  Martha recommends using a large basketweave tip to pipe the "ice blocks."  I did not have one of those so I used a Wilton 127 tip (a very large rose tip).  The little penguins are just made of fondant.


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