holidays

As I previously promised (though a little belated), I made a mini pink ombrè cake to commemorate the one-year anniversery of this blog (and just in time for Valentine’s Day!).  :)

I followed the same layering concepts as my Surprise Rainbow Cake, but wanted to play with just one color and some cake piping.  Instead of the 6 layers I used for the Surprise Rainbow Cake, I kept it simple and made only 3 layers.  For a 5-inch round cake, 3 layers is enough, no? 

 I used a simple buttercream frosting.  But, instead of using completely butter, I used 2 parts shortening and 1 part butter.  Shortening is great for making sturdier frosting, which is ideal for cake decorating, but butter gives the frosting a better flavor than shortening.

I used about a third of my batch of frosting for the crumb coat that covers the entire cake before it gets decorated.  Be sure to put some parchment paper down around the edges of the cake.  Any extra frosting from the decorating will get on the parchment paper and not on the cake stand.  You can remove the parchment paper when the cake is complete.  This will make the decorating process a little less messy — I’m a bit of a messy cake decorator.  Don’t judge.

 Here’s all three layers with a crumb layer around it.  For good measure, you should put enough frosting that would leave the surface smooth and even.  For this cake, I rang out of frosting for the crumb layer and didn’t make a perfect crumb layer (I’m a rebel, I know!).  But because this cake will be covered completely with roses, I wasn’t too worried because the roses would hide those imperfections.  ;)

To decorate the cake, I used an open star tip attached to a pastry bag filled with the remainder of the frosting that has been mixed with food coloring and piped layers of roses.  To make a rose,  start in the center of where you want the rose to be, then slowly move the tip in a circle around the center point.  Loop around the center point about twice and try to end at the same point for each rose.  I started from the bottom of the cake and worked around the cake until the bottom row of roses were complete before moving up to the next row.
 

Ta da!

After you have covered the cake with roses, you can pipe some extra frosting into any extra spaces between the roses.  If you pipe in the same direction as the neighboring rose, it will look like it’s apart of the rose.   Sneaky, I know.

 It’s not perfect, but I was happy with how it turned out.
 

 My favorite part is the different gradients of pink layers inside!

 And yes, I cut a pretty fat piece for myself.  I mean, someone has to be the guinea pig.  Plus, it’s only a 5-inch round cake — it’s practically a diet cake!  :P

The cake was moist and the frosting had the perfect buttercream and sugar consistency.  I washed this piece down with some milk, and  I may or may not have been on a sugar high for the following few hours.  :)

Mini Ombre Cake

Makes a 3 layer 5-inch round cake
 
Ingredients

Three-Layer Ombre Cake

  • Vegetable shortening
  • Parchment paper
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 sticks (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup milk, room temperature
  • gel food coloring of your choice

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting 

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 8 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk

Directions

Three-Layer Ombre Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush three 5-inch-round cake pans (or as many 5-inch cake pans as you have, reusing them as necessary) with shortening. Line bottom of each cake pan with parchment paper; brush again and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar. Slowly add egg whites and mix until well combined. Add vanilla and mix until fully incorporated. Add flour mixture and milk in two alternating additions, beginning with the flour and ending with the milk. Mix until well combined.
  3. Divide batter evenly between three medium bowls. Using a food coloring color of your choice, add enough of the color to each bowl, working on one bowl at a time.  Whisk the color in until you have reached the desired shade for that layer.  I recommend starting with the darkest of the three range of colors you want and work your way to lighter colors.  That way, you avoid the possibility over coloring your lightest layer because you can compare it to the next darker color. 
  4. Transfer each color to an individual cake pan. Use a rubber spatula and smooth out the batter so that the cake will be as level as possible to minimize the amount of trimming necessary.
  5. Transfer to oven and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes (working in batches if necessary).
  6. Remove cake layers from oven and transfer to a wire rack; let cool for 10 minutes. Wrap the cake layers individually with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator while making the frosting (below).
  7. Remove the cake layers from the refrigerator.  Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cake layers to make level, if necessary. Place four strips of parchment paper around perimeter of a cake round or lazy Susan. Place the darkest layer on the cake plate. Spread a scant 1 cup of the white buttercream filling over the first layer with a small offset spatula so it extends just beyond edges. Repeat process with next darkest layer.
  8. Place the lightest color layer on top, bottom-side up. Gently sweep away any loose crumbs with a pastry brush. Using an offset spatula, cover the top and sides with a thin layer of frosting (also use any of the excess frosting visible between the layers). Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.
  9. Put an open star tip onto a pastry bag and then fill it with the color buttercream frosting.  To make the rose, start in the center of where you want the rose to be, then slowly move the tip in a circle around the center point.  Loop around the center point about twice and try to end at the same point for each rose.  

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

  1. In a KitchenAid Stand Mixer or medium bowl, cream butter and shortening until light and fluffy.  Add salt, vanilla, confectioners’ sugar and milk.  Beat well.
  2. Use 1/3 of the frosting for the white crumb coating. 
  3. With the remaining frosting, blend in some gel food coloring until it reaches the desired shade of color.  This will be the frosting you use to decorate the cake.  

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There’s something really homey and nostalgic about the winter holiday season.  The air is brisk and energizing and the bitter cold part of the winter season has not yet arrived.

During the winter, I love curling up on my couch under a fleece blanket with a nice book and a mug of hot cocoa.  With my hot cocoa, I like to drop in a few marshmallows.  It takes me back to childhood, when I adored marshmallows and may or may not have, on more than a few occasions, stuffed marshmallows in my mouth to see how many I can hold at once.  Ohh, to be a kid again.  :)

While I do not stuff marshmallows in my mouth like that anymore, I do still adore marshmallows.  So, in the spirit of this holiday season, I made some a lot of homemade peppermint marshmallows.

Once you know how to make marshmallows and realize how easy they are to make, it’s hard going back to the store-bought ones.  Plus, you can flavor and shape your marshmallows anyway you’d like, so the possibilities are endless!  For these peppermint marshamallows, I used peppermint extract instead of the vanilla extract that would go into a regular marshmallow.

To make marshmallows, first mix some unflavored gelatin with some cold water and let it sit until the gelatin softens like this.

While the gelatin is doing its thing, mix the sugar, corn syrup, salt and cold water together in a sauce pan on medium heat and bring to boil.  Stir and continue to boil until the sugar has completely dissolved.  Once all the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat to high and boil without stirring until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F.

Then remove from heat and with the electric mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar mixture into the gelatin mixture and whisk.  Slowly increase the speed to high and whisk the mixture until it has tripled in volume.  This will take about 8-10 minutes.

The end result should look something like this.  It has the consistency of melted marshmallows.   Mmmm.  It’s okay to do a taste test at this point.  :)

Pour the marshmallow mixture into a pan that has been lightly buttered and dusted with confectioner’s sugar.  With an offset spatula, level the marshmallow as much as possible.

Let the marshmallow set in room temperature, about 12 hours.  When it’s ready to cut, pour some confectioner’s sugar on top and using your  hands, make sure the surface of the marshmallow is no longer sticky.  Then with a small sharp knife or metal spatula, trace the edges of the pan to loosen the marshmallow from the pan.

Invert the pan and allow the marshmallow to fall onto a large cutting board that has been dusted with confectioner’s sugar.  The parchment on the bottom of the pan will come in handy at this point.  With your hands, rub some additional confectioner’s sugar over the marshmallow in the areas that are still sticky.

Cut the marshmallow into squares.

 

Toss the marshmallow cubes in a bowl of (more) confectioner’s sugar.  I know it may sound like you’re using a lot of confectioner’s sugar, but really you’re only using it to dust the marshmallows and prevent it from sticking to one another.  I did not find myself using more than a cup or two for this large batch of marshmallows.

These are pretty easy to make and perfect holiday gifts.  I stored mine in my tea tins.  Remember this adorable peppermint tea tin I bought at Harney & Sons earlier this year?  I thought this was a perfect new home for these peppermint marshmallows.  :)

Mmm.  I see a lot of hot cocoa in the near future for me.  :)

Peppermint Marshmallows

Print this recipe!

Makes about 140 3/4-inch square marshmallows

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup cold water, divided in half
  • 2 - 1/4 ounce envelopes unflavored gelatin
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated white sugar
  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 1-2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions

  1. Lightly butter the bottom of a 9 x 9 inch baking pan.  Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and sift about a tablespoon of confectioners’ sugar onto the parchment, which will later help remove the marshmallow from the pan.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer filled with 1/2 cup of cold water, mix in the gelatin and let it stand until the gelatin softens, about 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a two quart saucepan, mix together the sugar, corn syrup, salt and remaining 1/2 cup cold water.  Stir over medium heat and allow the mixture to come to a boil.   Continue to boil and stir until the sugar has completely dissolves.
  4. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and increase the heat to high and boil, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 240 degrees F, about 8-10 minutes.   Once at 240 degrees F, remove from heat.
  5. With the electric mixer bowl with the gelatin mixture fitted with a whisk attachment, slowly pour the hot syrup with the mixer running at low speed.  Gradually increase the speed to high and beat until the mixture has tripled in volume and is very thick and stiff, about 10 minutes.  It should have a melted thick marshmallow texture.
  6. Add peppermint extract and beat until it is combined in the marshmallow.
  7. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan and spread the marshmallow evenly with a damp offset spatula or rubber/silicon spatula.  Try to level the marshmallow mixture as evenly as possible.  Let stand, uncovered, at room temperature until set, about 12 hours.
  8. Dust the top of the marshmallow with another tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar and remove the marshmallow from the pan by first running a small sharp knife or metal spatula around the edge of the marshmallow to loosen it from the plan.  Then invert the pan onto a large cutting board that has been dusted with confectioners’ sugar.  Cut the marshmallow into squares using a sharp knife or pizza cutter.  Drop and toss the marshmallow cubes in a bowl of confectioner’s sugar so that marshmallows are evenly coated and no longer sticky.
  9. Shake off excess sugar and store the marshmallows in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2-3 weeks.

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Vintage Mini Coopers

December 1, 2011 · 0 comments

in holidays,Mini

I adore vintage Mini Coopers, and when I saw this picture in my inbox this morning, it made me happy.  I swear, this is like Oreo‘s grandpa, can’t you see the resemblance (same color!), haha.

Although, I love my Mini, I’m not sure I would actually put that many boxes of gifts on top of my Mini for transport.  No offense to Oreo – I’m not sure I trust my driving skills and want to risk the chance that all my Christmas gifts are scrattered on the street.  That would be awful. 

Nonetheless, this picture warms my heart.  The Christmas season is official here!  Let the shopping, decorating, and cooking begin! :)

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Happy Father’s Day!  For my dad, I made this easy blackberry cheesecake bars with an added twist — I incorporated some sweetened condensed milk into the cheesecake batter to add a new layer of creaminess.  Something special for one special dad :) .

To start, in a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until it’s light and fluffy.

Add in the eggs, one at a time.

And, here’s the twist to this cheesecake:  condensed milk.  If regular milk tasted like this, I know I’d easily get my daily dose vitamin D (sadly, that is not the case).

Slowly add in the condensed milk to the cream cheese mixture.  Beat until the mixture is well-blended.

In a bowl, crush about 5-6 pieces of graham crackers.

Mix in some sugar.

Then, pour in some melted butter.  Mix well.

Press the mixture into  a baking pan.

Pour the cream cheese mixture onto the graham cracker mixture.

Now for the blackberries.

Place the blackberries evenly on the cheesecake mixture.

In the oven it goes …

Here’s what it looks like coming out.  Some of the blackberries have disappeared into the cheesecake.  Poor things.

The creaminess of the cheesecake compliments well with the sweet and tartness of the blackberries.

If you like your cheesecake on the thinner-layer side, you can reserve about 1.5 cups of the cream cheese batter and 3 tablespoons of the graham cracker mixture for a half dozen cupcakes.  Each cupcake liner will get about a 1/2 tablespoon of graham cracker mixture.

Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, pour in a cupful of cream cheese batter to each cupcake.

Dress each with a blackberry on top.

Viola!

Blackberry Cheesecake Bars

Print this Recipe!

Makes 16 bars
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Ready in: 8 hours

Ingredients:

  • 2 – 3 cups crushed graham crackers (about 5-6 pieces)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3 large eggs
  • 14 ounces can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 pint fresh blackberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C).
  2. Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended.
  3. Gradually add sweetened condensed milk, and continue beating until blended.
  4. In a bowl, stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter.  Once the mixture is evenly blended, press the mixture into the bottom of a 9×9-inch baking pan.
  5. Pour the cream cheese mixture into the baking pan on top of the crust.  Sprinkle the blackberries evenly on top of the cheesecake batter.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Turn off oven, and let cheesecake stand in oven 30 minutes.
  7. Remove cheesecake from the oven, and let cool completely.
  8. Cover and chill for 6 – 8 hours before serving.

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So, I (unabashedly) admit that I’m one of the 15% of Super Bowl viewers who watch it exclusively for the commercials. Though I know which teams are playing, I’m a little fuzzy on where they’re from.  Lol.  Ignorance is bliss, no?

During a Super Bowl Party, while some are glued to the game, I’m usually found socializing or stuffing my face like there’s no tomorrow (hey, life is short).   Don’t worry, I do come up for air during commercials though.

Speaking of food, it’s not a Super Bowl party without food.  Oh, food, glorious food!  But, Super Bowl parties should be fun, for both the guests and the host.  So, don’t slave away in the kitchen to make your guests happy.  Here are a list of easy party food ideas for your Super Bowl Party:

Super Bowl Finger Food Ideas

1.  Pigs in a Blanket Recipethis is probably the easiest, cheapest, and fastest thing to make.  Yum.

Pigs in a Blanket

 

  1. 2.  Seven Layer Dip RecipeOh. em. gee.  Whoever invented the 7 layer dip should win a Nobel Food Prize (if Nobel Prizes were awarded for food).

 

 

Seven Lay Dip

3.  Chicken Buffalo Dip Recipe – makes these because your guest will love you for it.  They are always a hit when I make them.

Chicken Buffalo Dip

4.  BBQ Chicken Wings Recipea staple food for a super bowl party.

BBQ Chicken Wings

5.  Spinach Dip RecipeI love dips, especially this easy one.  Perfect with tortilla chips, bread, or crackers.
Spinach Dip Recipe
6.  Hamburger Sliders Recipe - you can make it pretty basic or dress it up and make the sliders fancier.
Hamburger Sliders
7.  BBQ Deviled Eggs Recipe - if I wasn’t worried about high cholesterol, I’d eat a plate of these.

BBQ Deviled Eggs

8.  Easy Chilli Recipe- perfect for this frigid weather.

Chili

9.  Bacon Wrapped Smokies Recipe-  Bacon.   Need I say more?
Bacon Wrapped Smokies
10.   Cheesy Beefy Nachos Recipe

Cheesy Beefy Nachos

 

Super Bowl Dessert - no meal is complete without something sweet :)

1.  Peanut Butter Cup Cookies Recipethese are really fun to make, and a sneaky way to enlist the help of your kids, nieces or nephews.

Peanut Butter Cup Cookie

2.  Cheesecake Cupcakes Recipe – portable and individually-portioned.

Cheesecake Cupcake with Cherry Filling Topping

3.  Glazed Mint Brownies Recipe- these are delicious and taste like Andes Mints!

Glazed Mint Brownies

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