July 28, 2010

wedding cookies

this past weekend i hosted a bridal shower for my best friend from college. it was great to open up my home to all her friends and celebrate her upcoming wedding. i even used it as an excuse to my husband to buy a beverage container that "every party needs"...

i spent several days trying to figure out the decor and baking details. i got fresh flowers from a local shop (which happens to be having "flower happy hour" every time i go in!), purple rock candy to match her wedding colors and went to the store for all the right ingredients.

alongside the other MOH, i think we pulled off quite a spread of homemade chicken salad on croissants, taco salad (one of amy's favorite meals), veggie pizza, a summer salad, cupcakes and cookie favors! oh, and the lemonade in my new container...

in the process, i did learn that i was a little too eager in my baking and bit off a little more than i could chew. long story short, i was up until 1 am the night before baking, only to realize the first time you make fondant or a two tiered cake shouldn't be right before a shower. so i may or may not have served cupcakes from marsh. i know, i cringed too.

BUT i did have one great success - the favors! below is a step by step documentation of the cookies. and i'll start with confessing these take a lot of time and patience! but they sure were worth it!

homemade pinwheelts for outside!
amy with the pennant banner i made!

July 9, 2010

strawberry shortcake from scratch

i think it is only proper to greet summer with one of her best gifts - strawberries! for those of you who know me, you know my disinterest in anything "non-chocolate" - but i must admit i've already made this dessert three separate times in the last month! it is pretty quick and easy to make (as long as you have some heavy whipping cream handy) and making the cream in my kitchen aid mixer is so gratifying...i can't believe there was a time in my life when i would stand over a bowl with a hand mixer waiting 5 minutes for "stiff peaks" to form?!

i've also had a few requests to start posting the recipes i make. i had originally considered doing this but since i was essentially just taking them from other blogs and trying them out, i felt guilty just re-posting. i wanted to get good so i can modify them on my own and put my own spin on it. BUT i have been swayed. and to top it off, i actually slightly modified this recipe myself!!

but, due to the lack of time today (and relocating the two blogs i modified these from) i will have start this trend with my next post...which i promise will be sooner rather than later!

May 28, 2010

strawberry, chocolate and champagne cupcakes

last weekend, i had the joy in celebrating the upcoming marriage of one of my girlfriends. before we headed out to paint the town red, bachelorette party style, we all got together beforehand for dinner, gifts and the like.

i found it only proper to include alcohol in the evening's menu - and made two kinds of cupcakes: champagne cupcakes with a chocolate ganache and strawberries and an "irish car bomb" - which included guinness in the chocolate cupcake and bailey's irish cream in the frosting!

even though 99.9% of the time i prefer chocolate as the main ingredient for my desserts - i have to say my new favorite may be the angelfood textured champagne cupcake with the bittersweet ganache. the strawberry didn't hurt either. i certainly plan to make this one again!

lessons learned this time?
1. it is about time i dedicate myself to mastering the frosting tips - my irish car bomb cupcake didn't look very pretty.
2. I DON'T KNOW HOW I EVER LIVED WITHOUT A KITCHEN AID MIXER. seriously. go buy one. now. you need it. and if you think you don't, then you are wrong. it will change your life.

May 17, 2010

double chocolate cupcakes with DetermiNation

so the past few weeks have been busy and have not allowed me much time to bake. however, among the craziness that is the month of may i did complete my first "order" for the American Cancer Society's DetermiNation pre-event dinner. for those of you just tuning in, that is exciting!

i learned a lot of new things about myself and baking (see below for my list) but had a really great time through it all and look forward to taking on some new projects as they come.

this time i stayed to the classic favorites  and made a french vanilla cupcake with vanilla icing and a double chocolate cupcake with a chocolate ganache. all in the ACS theme in red, white and blue and topped with candles to show appreciation for those who ran this year's mini marathon to help end cancer (and make more birthdays)

lesson(s) learned:
1. i have decided there is a difference between "made-from-scratch cupcakes that look pretty and wow the taste buds" and "cute and crafty cupcakes that steal the show". therefore, i learned that i am not at a level to attempt both versions and must pick one to be satisfied with my efforts (for this post, you can see i aimed for the tasty homemade and skipped the attempt to make the cupcakes look like running shoes...maybe next time)

2. making cake bites for a large amount of people takes a massive amount of patience and precision. be prepared to spend several hours on these if you want them to look perfect. after making 20 (half way there!) i realized they didn't look perfect and i wasn't prepared to give them strangers. check out the photo below on the 10 or so that did turn out how i wanted!

3. when baking for a large group of people during the work week, you need to stagger you steps - monday bake the cupcakes, tuesday ice them and deliver on wednesday. i think i also shouldve wrapped the cupcakes to keep their freshness and prevent them drying out. don't know if the box i bought to store them did the trick.

April 26, 2010

ice cream cone cupcakes

i had a few birthdays to celebrate all in one week, so i decided to try turning cupcakes into ice cream cones.

turns out it was a big hit that was super easy. the best part about these is that they aren't a dripping mess, they get everyone excited about life and who doesn't love ice cream cones and cupcakes...no really, who?

April 20, 2010

my first official order!

okay, so technically since it is for the American Cancer Society it is more of an "in-kind" order, but who cares about the details, right?!

one of my good girlfriends heads up ACS's DetermiNation program - which works with athletes who want to end cancer and save lives by dedicating training and race participation in marathons, triathlons, cycling, and other endurance events. the first week of may, before the Indianapolis mini-marathon, they are having a pre-event banquet and yours truly will be baking for the cause!

after trying to think of a cute theme, we came up with piggy-backing off ACS's current campaign - celebrating birthdays. how suiting considering mine is that weekend...hmmm ironic. details, cupcakes and more to come...

April 9, 2010

sheep cake

not to be confused with a sheet cake (da-dun-ching)

i was torn with a name for this one - it was either a sheep cake or lamb cake, but calling it a lamb makes me think more of meat than sweet. and let's face it...meat and cake are not a desired combo. unless of course you are into that sorta thing...

this little buddy was pretty easy and quick to make. though i did learn one lesson: if you plan on adhering marshmellows to the entire cake, you should apply promptly after icing. otherwise the icing dries and they won't stick...say, by the time you come back from the grocery store with more marshmellows...