Sugar & Spice & Everything Christmasy!!!

So as proof that I’ve been putting my KitchenAid to VERY good use this holiday season…

Christmas cupcakes: for bowling night

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Cookies and Mini Cupcakes: to share with friends and family

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New Recipe!!!! Nutella Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies that Andrea and I made together!

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They are AMAZING!!!

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Chocolatey Chocolate Brownies by the Christmas Tree 🙂

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Traditional Christmas Cut-out Cookies, Lemon Bars, and (my personal holiday favorite) Chocolate Cookies with Peanut Butter Chips: to take to share with coworkers

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And a Christmas Cupcake Order! 🙂

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Merry Christmas to all and to all great Christmas treats!

Cookies & Cupcakes (JOE’S BDAY PARTY 2)

In addition to the Zucchini Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins that I made ahead of time for my cousin’s birthday, I also wanted to make some cookies and cupcakes! I made the cookie dough ahead of time as well and the cupcakes the day of the party.

THE COOKIES:

I’ve written about these “surprise peanut butter middle chocolate cookies” before… they are one of my favorites! But they take a while to make. The chocolate dough has to be chilled before flattening out each cookie in preparation to be filled with the peanut butter middles.

It can get a little messy but they’re fun to make (and so worth the work!!!) 🙂

They turned out well! Everyone loved them! 😀

THE CUPCAKES:

Since it was a birthday party… I had to make something I could decorate for the occasion! So I decided on chocolate cupcakes with white icing that I would decorate to look like the Philadelphia’s baseball team’s mascot The Phillie Phanatic! 🙂 It was not as clean looking as I would have liked since I was decorating cupcakes as if it were a flat sheet cake… But I think it turned out pretty well!

And Joe enjoyed “helping cleaning up” by sampling the leftover icing!!! haha

It was a very fun day! Great food, wonderful family, many laughs. 🙂

Thanks for reading!!

End of the year cupcakes

As the school year ends, cupcakes make great “thank you for the year” gifts for teachers/students/parents/etc. I made up this box for one of the private classes I gave two weeks ago. One of the parents set up a huge “merienda” (an afternoon snack) for our last class – so I knew I wouldn’t feel right coming empty handed!! 😉

I decided to make vanilla cupcakes and topped them with my homemade chocolate fondant, a white/pink pearl candy, and vanilla sugar. I think they turned out simple but elegant. I thought they’d look neat in the box I had bought way back at Expotarta, especially with my card stuck to the top! 🙂

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Littlest Pet Shop Cupcakes

So I’m really starting to get into decorating with fondant!!! It really brings me back to my play dough creation days!!! haha. Anyway, so the most recent dessert request I had was making 2 dozen cupcakes decorated with the theme of Littlest Pet Shop. I’d like to thank two of my English students (Clara and Bea) for letting me borrow some of their Littlest Pet Shop Toys so that I could use them as models as I was shaping the fondant to resemble them!!! I think they turned out pretty well… let me know what you think!!!!

They were a lot of work but really a LOT of fun to make! I love being asked “Do you think you can make __X__?” I ❤ a challenge! Let me know if you have a new challenge for me 😉

As always, thanks for reading 🙂

PS – Here’s a picture of my new favorite toys/tools that make fondant molding much more fun. If you think you’d like to get into using fondant… these are a must have!!!

Happy baking everyone!!!

Bowling Themed Cake & Mini Cupcakes

So as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve enjoyed baking for my bowling buddies ever couple of Mondays per month (((it was always a good plan – I love baking, but I don’t love having a whole batch of something delicious laying around my apartment for me to eat! – so it’s been great to share!))). Well, at the end of May, our bowling league came to the season’s end… so naturally I wanted to go above and beyond anything I had made throughout the year!!!! There were over 50 fellow bowlers that were going to be at the awards ceremony and I was asked to make a cake “or something” … some people prefer to let me decide what to make (which can also be dangerous because then I get too many ideas floating around in my head!!!! hehe).

Anyway, so I decided to make a cake (one of my favorites): Peanut Butter Tandycake!!!! For any of you not familiar with this typical picnic dessert, it’s a wonderful vanilla cake layered with peanut butter and then a layer of melted chocolate!!! I went all out and made it a double decker!!! (I only have one cake pan and it’s a 9×13)… so I had to make it taller because I had no option of making it wider! 😉

Knowing that the cake was going to taste amazing, I wanted to decorate it in a similarly amazing way… and here’s what I came up with:

I also made some mini chocolate cupcakes (some Spaniards are afraid of peanut butter!)… and I decorated some with little bowling pins (I would have done them all with cute little pins on them , but frankly I was spent after the bowling cake and making the chocolate mint cupcake order that I mentioned in my last post that I decided to scatter the pins and give the other ones a bit of a simpler decoration.

I actually don’t know how the mini cupcakes turned out! They were gone by the time I was finished cutting the cake! I didn’t hear many complaints! 😉

As always,
Thanks for reading!!!! 🙂

Caught without cocoa powder

How is it June already?! Where did May go? Well, I apologize again for not updating as soon as I wanted to. The truth be told, I’ve been a busy baking bee! (which is a good thing!) And something that comes along with baking so much is assuming that I always have the ingredients I need to make just about anything, stocked infinitely in my baking cabinet.

A few weeks ago I woke up early in order to make some chocolate cupcakes with mint icing. I was halfway through making the batter when much to my surprise I realized that I had next to no unsweetened cocoa powder left! I didn’t have time to run to the store, so, I decided to “wing it” as I’ve done before in the past….. however, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy given that I was going to be substituting an unsweetened chocolatey powder for sweetened melted chocolate bars…

For that very reason, they turned out like this:

They rose beautifully in the oven, but once they were done, they sunk in the middle leaving a crater-like pit in the center! So even though they turned out to be a bit disastrous, that crater was just oh so perfect enough to FILL with icing!!! haha. I was making these for our Monday night bowling league where no one minds being my dessert guinea pig. The fantastic thing was though that someone new tried these very “disaster cupcakes” and ordered a dozen from me for the following week! I decided to fill the order baking them according to my recipe though! It’s quite difficult to survive a baking disaster let alone remember how to repeat it again if all goes well and people like it!

But some of the greatest recipes of mine have been recipes I’ve found and then tweaked because I was stuck without an ingredient but was able to fudge my way around it! Don’t be afraid to experiment! It’s very rare that what you make will get tossed instead of eaten regardless of how ugly it might look! I got lucky this time that I was able to cover up my mini disaster with mint icing! Then I got creative with the extras!!!! 😉

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My creations for the EXPOTARTA contest

So a lot of time and thought went into my EXPOTARTA cupcakes for the decorating contest…. Here are some crazy pictures during “the making of”

(These are some “new toys” that I bought from the American store to liven up my decorations!
EDIBLE GLITTER!!!)

(Here I’m coloring my homemade Royal Icing to go with the same color scheme as the fondant I bought)

(These were the royal icing cupcake toppers that I came up with…
the only downside to these is that it takes them FOREVER to dry thus causing them to tend to crack!)

(I also purchased the “grass” icing tip for my baker’s icing bag… I LOVE the results!)

(It took a while to pick and choose the best ones
-you can see the trial cupcakes in the background!-
and then I had to figure out how I wanted to set them up!)

I think they turned out pretty well!!!! 🙂 I made it look like you were on a little cupcake picnic!
I took a TON of pictures of them!

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And here’s a picture of them all set up at EXPOTARTA along with the 25 other contestants.

Unfortunately for me, many of the participants were bakery owners and have a lot more experience with fondant than I do… The winners all used fondant to sculpt little people/figures to put on top of their cupcakes. I’ve always been more in favor of paying attention to the taste rather than just the presentation! That’s just the way I roll!! haha.

Anyway, it was a fun experience overall. Thanks, everyone for taking such an interest in my creations! Thanks again for reading!!! 🙂

Baptism Cupcakes

I was asked to make 4 dozen vanilla cupcakes for a baptism for a baby boy a few weekends ago and they turned out pretty nicely. I decided to try to make my own fondant since I don’t really like the taste of the store bought kind. It turned out pretty well! The only thing is that it takes a lot of food coloring to get it the color you want. The recipe I tried calls for marshmallows, powdered sugar, and water (which is still pure sugar and not how I’d like to eat my calories necessarily)… but it worked out well.

(Decorating!!!)

(The little white circles are made of my homemade fondant. I wrote on them with food coloring pens!!! They’re AWESOME!)

(These are only one third of the cupcakes! haha)

Leave a comment and let me know what you think!
Thanks for reading!!! 🙂

Chocolate Mint Birthday Cupcakes

So it was my friend Jenny’s birthday in April but she decided to celebrate in early March and we all know that once March rolls around, everyone thinks green (Shamrock Shakes, St. Patty’s Day, etc). As chance would have it, Jenny and I both share the love of the color green (any shade of green really). So when deciding what to bring to her birthday bowling bash I knew I wanted to incorporate green into the overall look of what I made. So I started with my “go-to” traditional chocolate cake recipe from the Better Home’s and Gardens Cook Book and tampered with it from there.

As a side note, whenever I bake I always have my laptop in the kitchen with me… whether to blast some good tunes or to watch a new episode of one of my favorite TV shows, my laptop is there on the counter top trying to stay flour or cocoa powder-free as I whip up my latest creation. Well, one of the new shows I’ve been recently hooked on has been Cupcake Wars. While watching one of the crazy Taste Challenge rounds of the show I decided to inject Nocilla into the center of my traditional chocolate cupcakes and top them with a mint frosting (which I colored green with food coloring) and an “after eight”-like mint candy. They turned out really well! Here’s a pic!