Raspberry Whipped Cream

Hey. Remember the Flourless Chocolate Cake That No One Ate? I made it for a colleague’s last day at work and it had a much better reception this time.

I didn’t have time to take any photos pre-consumption, but the above is what was left post-consumption. That’s what I call Gluten-Free Redemption.

And that was what was left of my kitchen. First thing I did when I got home from work was, well, take the dog out. But after THAT I cleaned the sink before Hubs could come home from Philadelphia and reprimand me once again for being the World’s Messiest Cook. Had I known his train was going to be delayed, I would have had a beer first.

When I mentioned the cake, my office manger volunteered to make a raspberry sauce to go with it, which got my ideas flowing. This cake is way too rich to necessitate frosting but whipped cream is light enough to compliment the flavor and texture. I doubled the cake recipe and slathered this raspberry whipped cream in the middle. We then poured, I’m talking drenched each slice in the raspberry sauce–which I will need to get the recipe for!

I made these little cupcakes with the extra batter to have something to taste test but I over cooked them and they’re pretty much empty in the middle. But they look super cute with the whipped cream on top.

So here is the recipe: 2 cups of cream, 1/4 cup powdered sugar (sifted, if you think that matters), frozen raspberries.

Defrost and process the raspberries into liquid and then strain the seeds out (unless you like picking seeds from your teeth). Whip cream and sugar, preferably with a mixer but by the hand if you’re working on your arm strengths. Add raspberry juice to  taste. I wanted a distinct raspberry flavor but I knew I’d have the sauce to add another level. Also, I have no idea how much of the raspberry I added. I was making the whipped cream at lunch and was short on time. Hence, the above photo of my kitchen sink.

 

Dance 10, Looks 3

You know who are not friends? Me and Fondant. We tried to work things out, but fondant is super kneady and falls apart just when I need it most. I thought I was up for the challenge, but I think I need to stick with safe, predictable, sweet buttercream. I should have recognized a good thing while I had it. To be fair, I didn’t give fondant a try because I was feeling adventurous or up for a challenge. I asked to make my niece’s birthday cake and that’s what my sister-in-law already had in mind so I thought I’d give it a go. I practiced a few times, forcing thick, sugary, slabs of dessert’s play-doh on family and coworkers, but even so I was still unprepared for the big day.

The dye bled in some areas. The folds wouldn’t smooth out evenly. It had an all around lumpy quality. But man did it taste good.

Not the fondant. Fondant tastes like what you’d get it sugar and rubber had a baby. But the cake–all three flavors–stayed moist and flavorful and made it all worth it. The best thing to come out of this whole crazy experiment is that I now have a vanilla cake recipe that doesn’t call for nine pounds of butter like the old one I’d been using–that recipe is below.

The chocolate recipe is my old friend from Hershey’s. I still don’t like how it rises for cupcakes, but it makes a dependable cake.

As for the red velvet, I made a test cake using Ina Garten’s recipe, but it came out dry and dull. It completely lacked personality. One of my taste testers emailed me to say, “Find another recipe or use a box cake for the birthday party.” I’ll refrain from telling you who would be so blunt to protect her (now somewhat questionable) status as World’s Best Mother.

I panicked. I didn’t have time to test run another recipe. I was thinking maybe I could just up the butter and milk or add oil instead of butter but I was on a tight schedule and too rushed to do it over if it didn’t come out. So I did the unthinkable. I bought a box mix.  I spruced it up with buttermilk, chocolate pudding mix, red dye, and love, but the base was a run of the mill box of white cake mix. From Walmart.

I hope you haven’t lost all respect for me as a so-called “baker.” I have a new red velvet assignment coming up this Fall and before then I WILL find the perfect recipe. Thought I have to admit, whoever thought of adding pudding mix instead of cocoa powder was pretty spot-on. I might keep that little trick.

Super Successful Vanilla Cake

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 sticks butter

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

3 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup milk

Grease and flour two 8″ round pans

Preheat oven to 350

Sift/whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.

Beat butter and vanilla until creamy. Add sugar and continue to beat until smooth.

Add dry ingredients and mix until combined.

Add milk and continue to mix until smooth.

Pour into pans and cook for 25-30 minutes, until your tester comes out clean.

This Pasta Salad is Pretty Bad

I can’t stress enough how much I didn’t want to leave my house Sunday afternoon. I had a great weekend. I had a lunch with my mom. I was ready to sit on my couch watching TV with the dog. Yeah, it was sunny out. Sure, there was plenty I could get into. Absolutely, my fridge was empty. But I didn’t want to go out.  I had enough of “out.” I’m not sure who was hating me more–my wallet or my kidneys.

So I thought about the precious few ingredients I had available, and I made the decision that I was prepared to make pasta salad. Technically. Technically,  I was. I had pasta. I had mayo. I had veggies. But it was all wrong. I think it needed less relish, more salty stuff like olives, maybe some onions. And no artichokes. I definitely went wrong with the artichokes. But to be fair, they made up 50% of the veggie contingent so I couldn’t really move forward without them or it would have just been pasta and shredded carrots. I have a hard time calling that salad.

To be transparent, I’ve had this salad every day this week so it’s not that bad, but it’s certainly not worth replication. If I’m going for FULL transparency, I spent Sunday flipping back and forth between the Olympics and the Harry Potter marathon on ABC Family. And to take it a step further–I was mostly just waiting to see the Spice Girls during the closing ceremonies. If you can’t be honest on the internet, where can you be?

Unimpressive Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

2 cups dried pasta

2/3 cup mayo

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

Black pepper to taste

1/3 cup relish

2 cloves chopped garlic

14 oz can artichokes, chopped.

Cook the pasta, cook it with cold water, mix everything together. Eat at your own risk.

 

The iPad Ate My Blog Post or Cookie Butter Frosting

I wrote you a blog post two days ago. It was sassy and sarcastic and all of things that make you love me. It was well thought out with appropriate photo pauses at just the right moments to add suspense/humor/flare. But then my iPad ate it. It’s still there, I just can’t access it. It says that it’s uploading, but it’s been over 24 hours. I can’t read it. Can’t edit it. Can’t publish it. It’s just  there. This post was supposed to be up yesterday, but  just as I was adding the photos, my internet cut out. I decided this morning that if the draft wasn’t saved, it was the universe telling me that you’re not ready for cookie butter frosting. Lucky for you, the universe is on your side.

The original post started off with something like “hey! intro! I discovered this super cool thing and you probably already knew about it and why didn’t you tell me you knew about this super cool thing! you think I’m talking about one thing but I’m actually talking about Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter!” Cue photo of the cookie butter:

Then I added a brilliant/adorable/endearing anecdote about cookie butter which also has the affect of making me look like a complete pig, scooping everything I can find in my kitchen into the open jar of cookie butter. Then I told you how great cookie butter would be as frosting and how I went ahead and made cookie butter frosting and slathered it on chocolate cake. Cue the chocolate cake!

I’m making my niece’s birthday cake in a few weeks and since cakes aren’t really my thing, I’m putting in the practice hours. I definitely didn’t mention that in the original post. Director’s cut! Bonus material!

I then ended with another super cute one liner that makes you fall in love with me all over again. Cue the recipe!

Cookie Butter Frosting

Ingredients

3 sticks butter, slightly softened

11 oz Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter, which apparently is kind of like Biscoff Spread

1 cup powdered sugar

Cream butter. Add Cookie Butter and beat until smooth. Add sugar and beat until combined and fluffy.

Orange Buttercream Birthday Cake!

***Update: I totally forgot to credit My Baking Empire for the orange buttercream idea! I didn’t use her recipe, but it totally brought this cake together for me. Thanks!!***

So, here’s how things were supposed to go down:

I was supposed to have enough almond extract left to make almond cake. But I didn’t. I poured in such a small amount that it’s not even mentioning in the recipe. But you should know that I thought almond/orange/dark chocolate would be the perfect cake for my cousin’s summer birthday. Seriously, what part of that DOESN’T sound good. For the record, I know one person reading who has an aversion to fruit in her dessert, even if it comes from a small plastic bottle of orange extract. But the rest of you surely agree those flavors make great friends. They’re total BFF’s. Besties, if you like. But instead it was vanilla/orange/dark chocolate. Still yummy, but not quite as exciting.

Another thing. The chocolate was supposed to gently run down the sides of the cake like delicate raindrops on a windowpane. Instead, I got big fatty globs that had to be coaxed just to run over the top of the cake. I’m sure it’s a simple fix of adding more cream to the chocolate but once it’s on the cake it’s hard to take it back.

Finally: there should have been a more measurable amount of frosting in between the layers. I think the cake absorbed what was there. Also, it could have melted. Possibly because I didn’t wait for it to be COMPLETELY COOL before frosting.

But! If you take all of that into account, this was still a delicious cake for a wonderful person and a fabulous day.

Once again, I used CupCakeRecipes.com and poured it into two 9 inch round pans.

Orange Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

2 sticks butter, slightly softened

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon orange extract

2 cups powdered sugar

Cream butter until smooth and add vanilla and orange extracts. Slowly add powdered sugar until creamy.

***I would probably double this recipe next time to have more frosting for in between layers and especially if you frost the top, which I didn’t.

Dark Chocolate Topping

16 oz good dark chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup heavy cream

Put the chocolate in a bowl

Boil the cream, then pour on top of the chocolate. Let sit for a couple of minutes and then stir until smooth.

Pour over the top of the cake, letting it drop over the sides.

***I would probably up it to 3/4 cup cream next time to get a better drip. But I can’t promise that would work. Try it and let me know!

Liquor in Cupcakes: A Story About Wasting Booze

So. It turns out adding liquor to cupcake batter isn’t always a good idea. Sometimes it’s just a waste of booze.

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We went to a luau themed party last weekend and since I was still riding the high from my mint julep cupcakes, I decided to make margarita cupcakes and piña colada cupcakes.

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Sounds good, right? Well, they weren’t bad. The margarita were a little dry and you could only taste the lime frosting. After struggling with whether or not to put actual pineapple in the piña colada cupcakes I went ahead and did it and the texture was weird. A little too moist and slimy. The coconut frosting was good, so it wasn’t a total loss.

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The major disappointment was not tasting the tequila or rum. Total waste of booze. Fortunately, the party had a plethora of desserts and booze so I really only disappointed myself.

Fool-Proof Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Today’s post is for me. Well, for my convenience. This buttercream frosting is the base for pretty much all of my frostings and going forward, it would be nice to have one, easy to locate post to link back to. See, I’m kind of lazy. And by kind of, I mean very. And yeah, I know this is kind of a cop-out of a post, but trust me, it will come in handy. In fact, if you are reading this from the future because you clicked on a link featured in another post it already HAS come in handy. Wow, that’s so meta. Anyway. To make up for this lack-of-a-post, enjoy these ridiculously cute photos of Sylvie’s cat, Icarus. Photos courtesy of Sylvie’s Facebook page, which I unapologetically ransacked.

Fool-Proof Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

This frosting is creamy and flavorful and easily adapted. It’s firm enough to pipe. It’s not too sweet. It’s fool proof. I can frost between 12 -18 cupcakes but I use a ton of frosting. If you don’t pipe the frosting, you could probably get through 24.

Ingredients

2 sticks butter, slightly softened just to the point where you can beat it.

4 cups powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Beat butter on high until creamy.

Add vanilla and continue to beat until smooth and fluffy.

Slowly add sugar, beating until fluffy. Taste test at 3 cups and 3.5 cups to make sure it’s not too sweet.

Mint Julep Cupcakes/Madison Takes On NYC Rats

I really don’t know how else to say this except to say it. I went to a Kentucky Derby themed birthday party in Central Park and brought Mint Julep cupcakes and they were pretty much the best thing I’ve ever made, ever.

Once again, I didn’t want to Google my outstanding cupcake idea for fear that someone else had already thought of it. I did look for bourbon vanilla cake but I was disappointed with what came up. Since I’m still in love with the vanilla poundcake recipe I’ve been using for months, I decided, why not just add bourbon?

I made a quick test batch but it was severely lacking in bourbon flavor. My husband tried to help by employing some kind of pasta sauce analogy to impart some kind of proportional wisdom. I couldn’t follow his logic but trusted him when he said I could go full throttle with the booze. Nailed it. The cake was firm and spongy with a distinct bourbon flavor. The frosting was obviously mint, but subtle and not overpowering.

I added a quick 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract to my fool proof vanilla frosting and pulled off, say it with me, the best thing I’ve ever made, ever. These cupcakes survived an hour on the train, a 40 block cab ride, and 90 degree heat with 100% humidity. I’m kind of upset that the only leftovers I have are the not-nearly-as-good test batch.

Madison had a great day in the park, running back and forth along the fence trying to hunt down what could have been squirrels, but were more likely rats. On the up side, he slept the whole ride home.

Also–the ducky cupcake liners are leftovers from the baby shower which I used on the test batch and not what I used for the party.

Mint Julep Cupcakes

Bourbon Cake, adapted from Pound Cake Cupcakes

Ingredients, makes 48 mini cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs

1 cup softened butter

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup bourbon

Preheat oven to 325.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt until completely combine. Add butter, milk, and vanilla and mix in a stand or handheld mixer until smooth.

Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each egg.

Add bourbon and mix again until smooth and fluffy.

Fill cupcake liners about 3/4.

Bake your cupcakes for 15 minutes or until your tester comes out clean.

Mint Frosting

Ingredients

1 1/2 sticks butter, slightly softened just to the point where you can beat it.

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

Beat butter on high until creamy.

Add vanilla and continue to beat until smooth and fluffy.

Slowly add sugar, beating until fluffy.

Add mint and beat until incorporated.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream

I gave my hubs the choice of any ice cream flavor, aaaaany flavor he wanted, and I have to say he surprised me with his request for chocolate chip cookie dough. He’s not a big desserts guy. When I make some unusual cookie he laments that I never make chocolate chip. When I spend too much time swirling a mountain of frosting on top of cupcakes, he pushes most of it off to the side. So I was more than happy to make whatever ice cream flavor he requested.

I wasn’t counting on cookie dough.

Don’t get me wrong, I like cookie dough ice cream. I’ve been known to order it from time to time. But making cookie dough for the purpose of putting it into ice cream turned out to be more difficult than I originally thought. The recipe seemed easy enough–a scaled down version of chocolate chip cookies without the eggs, baking soda or baking powder–but it just didn’t taste right. I really wanted to knock one out of the park for the guy and I was disappointed with the end result.

Of course, it couldn’t have been too  bad since when I packed it to bring to my brother’s house he said, “I thought this was for me.”

I can’t quite put my finger on it. It wasn’t quite a consistency issue. Something was wrong with the flavor. My only guess is that there was too much butter, because of the remaining ingredients, I can’t imagine any that would explain the strange taste.

But the moral of the story is this: bad cookie dough ice cream is still better than no cookie dough ice cream.

Here is the recipe for the cookie dough: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Cookie-Dough-for-Ice-Cream-Eggless/

And I used my foolproof vanilla ice cream recipe:

Ingredients

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup milk

3/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

Whisk together cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla until the sugar completely dissolves. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap against the top of the mixture so a skin doesn’t form. refrigerate for at least three hours, though it can sit overnight as well.

Freeze mixture according to the directions on your ice cream maker. Add cookie dough while ice cream is still soft.