April 26, 2015
YAY for Spring! I’m so happy to finally break away from all the cold weather and enjoy the warm outdoors. Wouldn’t it be nice if it could stay this way all year long. Minus the pollen.
Well, to celebrate the season, I’m having a super Spring Bake Giveaway for a KitchenAid Stand Mixer in one of the lovely colors shown below. The winner gets to pick their favorite! Awesome.
Which color would you want to see on your kitchen counter? Aqua Sky? Ice? Pink? Majestic Yellow?
Enter the Spring Bake Giveaway for a chance to win a KitchenAid 5-quart Artisan Series Stand Mixer:
To enter, just leave a comment on this post answering the following question.
What’s your favorite outdoor activity? Oh and pick your favorite pastel mixer color, too.
Deadline to enter is Thursday, April 30th at 8:00 p.m. ET
One winner will be chosen at random and announced sometime Thursday evening on this post.
Here’s to Happy Baking! Good luck!
April 19, 2015
A couple of weeks ago I had the super fun opportunity to travel to Vermont to visit Ben & Jerry’s Headquarters.
Here’s a peek at my adventures in ice cream through photos.
So let’s start by stating the obvious. Ice cream = amazing. I felt like I was in wonderland. By the way, their offices pretty much look like the packaging exploded all over the walls. Such a fun environment. From the indoor slide that greets you in the lobby, to the Cookie Dough Conference Room to an actual on-site ice cream shop in the middle of the building. It was undeniably Ben & Jerry’s at every turn.
Did you know employees can take home three pints of ice cream? EVERY. DAY. Repeat. EVERY. day.
I would be in such big trouble if I worked here.
Oh hey Cakespy. I forgot to mention the ultra adorable Jessie was there. My sweet friend from the days when I first started blogging. It was such a surprise seeing her that we almost fell down from hugging.
And by the way, you can totally stop reading my post right here and visit her blog for the best recap EVER. She basically illustrated all of our adventures in watercolor ice cream characters.
I’m not kidding. It’s awesome.
Okay, back to my less colorful account.
Before the trip, I would have to say that my favorite flavor was Chocolate Fudge Brownie. But that’s because it’s the only one I would repeatedly buy. It was like a dream to be able to try out so many different flavors while I was there.
But I still didn’t get anywhere near tasting them all of them so which ones are your favorites at home? I have a few new ones. New York Super Chunk, Cotton Candy, and Chocolate Therapy really got me.
During the event, we learned about the company’s values.
Their Product Mission, Economic Mission and Social Mission, which stood out to me the most because of how focused everyone at the company is to make things better. At first all I wanted to do was eat ice cream, but it was inspiring to learn about all of their initiatives outside of making great flavors.
Later in the day, we teamed up with the Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Gurus (real title) to make our own custom ice cream flavors. This photo pretty much sums up how much fun we had working with Peter.
With all the ingredients to choose from, it was hard to decide which way to go at first.
But we started with a really cute name that Jessie came up with and we went with it.
Our team (Me, Jessie and Nick of On Second Scoop) made a peanut butter ice cream with blondies, caramel and pecans.
It was pretty delicious and our flavor gurus loved it, too. Score!
Want to know our flavor name?
Gentlemen Prefer Blondies! After working out our flavor, we collaborated with one of the designers to create our own poster.
We also got a sneak peek at their brand new BRRR-ito that’s available in scoop shops starting TODAY!
That’s right… your two favorite flavors, topped with a fudge drizzle, cookie crumbs and wrapped up in a soft and chewy waffle wrap.
The next morning, we visited a dairy farm and learned more about how their Caring Dairy Program.
Here’s Stacie from One Hungry Mama making a new friend.
I made a couple, too.
In the afternoon, we went on a factory tour. Eeek!
Owen! Our truly awesome tour guide made it memorable.
They were making Coffee Toffee at the factory that day and we were able to enjoy it straight from the production line. Soooo good.
Here’s the whole ice cream loving group.
Amanda Topper, Deanna from Domestic Chicky, Sandra Perez, Colin Pinkham from Jezebel, Gwen Paja of the LA Girl, Kristin Hunt from Thrillist, Owen!, Stacie from One Hungry Mama, Jessie from Cakespy, Nicole from Popsugar, Natalie from NJinLA, Me, Nick from On Second Scoop and Katie from Good Life Eats.
After the tour we tried samples of this Vanilla Brownie Caramel flavor. It’s not sold in pints, but it totally should be.
Then in the afternoon, we went snowshoeing around the factory, through the woods and down to the flavor graveyard where people can pay tribute to the “dearly depinted.”
So much fun.
So much ice cream …
Oh and in the end, I even got to meet Ben!
It was a pretty sweet couple of days.
April 12, 2015
I had the most fun making this layer cake inspired by my blogging friend Sweetapolita’s new book.
Have you seen it yet? It’s full of all kinds of fun and yum. Page after page of recipes for luscious layer cakes and other gorgeous and adorable creations that make me want to get in the kitchen and play.
Here it is. The Sweetapolita Bakebook. When I saw the cover for the first time, I fell instantly in love. This cake spoke to me right away with it’s whimsical, playful design and I knew it would have to be one of the first things I tried.
It also didn’t hurt that I already had more than my share of edible ink writing pens on hand so I basically had to make it.
This is a big 8-inch triple layer chocolate cake filled with swiss meringue buttercream and covered in a layer of white fondant.
Basically, a big blank canvas for your creativity.
Once the cake is covered in fondant and the exterior has dried out a bit, you can start doodling. Outline or draw illustrations using the black edible ink pen first and let the ink completely dry before coloring in the shapes to help prevent the colors from mixing together.
It also helps to work in one area at a time instead of all over the place to help avoid smearing the black ink. For instance, if you accidentally rest your hand on the surface of the cake. Whoops. Yeah. That’s me. I’m a hand rester when I draw and I quickly realized that drawing at a 90-degree angle and trying not to rest my hand on the surface of the cake was a little harder than I had imagined. That’s ok though because I think some of my slightly wonky drawings add to the wonder and whimsy of this cake.
I drew simple sweets and things using pastel colors, but I could also easily see this transformed into a comic strip cake with words like POW and KABOOM and WHAM, etc. … all drawn in primary colors. It would be too much fun!
Once the black ink has dried, you can start coloring in the drawings. This was the fun part … to see it all come alive from black and white to bold and bright.
YAY. YAY. YAY. The super cutest cake. I love it. Thanks Rosie. And now, all I can think about is making another one. A fake styrofoam cake that I can cover in fondant to keep on display and look at every single day.
P.S. This cake is totally delicious. The project in the book calls for a black velvet cake recipe, but I switched it up a bit so I could try out Rosie’s Simple & Splendid Chocolate Cake and OMG………
Boom Clap! So. Soooooooo goooood!
Simple and Splendid Chocolate Cake
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups superfine sugar
1 cup dutch process dark cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup hot coffee
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Grease the bottoms of three 8 X 2-inch round cake pans and line them with parchment paper.
Sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt into the bowl of an electric stand mixer.
In a large spouted measuring glass, whisk together buttermilk, coffee, oil followed by the eggs, and vanilla.
With the mixer on low, gradually add the milk mixture and beat until smooth, about a minute. Use a rubber spatular to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans.
Bake the first two layers in the center of the oven for about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out with a few crumbs. Repeat with final layer.
Let cakes cool in their pans on a wire rack for ten minutes. Using a knife, loosen the sides of the cakes. Place a large piece of plastic wrap over on top of the cake pan and then place a wire rack on top. Invert holding the cake board and wire rack together and place on the counter. Lift the pan and then peel off parchment paper from the cake. Wrap the cake layer with the plastic wrap and repeat with other two layers. Place layers in the freezer for about 15 minutes or fridge for 30 minutes while you make the frosting.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
7 large egg whites
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into cubes
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt
Add egg whites and sugar to the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Make sure it is wiped completely clean and dry first. Place bowl over a pot of simmering water. Cook, whisking gently and continuously until the temperature reaches 130 degrees fahrenheit.
Return the bowl to the mixer and fit it with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium high speed until it reaches the stiff peak stage (thick and glossy) about 2-3 minutes. Decrease the speed to medium and beat until the bottom of the bowl is cool, about 10 minutes.
Switch to the paddle attachment and with the mixer running on low speed, add the butter one piece at a time. Beat until the mixture is silky smooth, about a minute. Add the vanilla and salt, and beat on low speed for three more minutes.
Tint frosting if desired.
To assemble and decorate:
Remove cake layers from the freezer or fridge and level each layer by trimming the tops of the cakes flat with a long serrated knife. Snack on trimmings while you finish the cake. : )
Place a dollop of frosting in the center of a cake board and place the first layer with the cut side down, on the cake board. The frosting will help keep it from sliding around. Place the cake board on a turntable for decorating. Spread frosting on top and then add the second cake layer, cut side down. Spread on more frosting and top with third layer, cut side down.
Apply more frosting on the top layer and down the sides for a crumb coat. The crumb coat is intended to catch any loose crumbs and to keep them from getting in your final layer of frosting. Once covered, you can use a bench scraper to easily smooth the sides.
Place the cake in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes for the frosting to firm up some. Then remove and apply a final coat of fluffy frosting on the top and sides. Make sure the surface is as smooth as possible. When frosted and smooth, return to the refrigerator at least one hour to set up before covering in fondant.
Roll out fondant to almost 1/4 inch thick with a diameter that equals at least the width of the top of the cake plus the height of the sides. In my case the cake was 5 inches tall X 2 plus 8 inches wide. So I rolled the fondant out until it was over 18 inches in total diameter.
Lift the fondant using your rolling pin and carefully unroll it on top of the cake. Smooth the fondant on top of the cake and down the sides with a fondant smoother and trim off the excess around the base.
NOTE: I’d recommend Rosie’s book to get all her tips on working with frosting and fondant to help you out. She has lots of tips and goes into much more detail than I have here.
Place the fondant covered cake back in the fridge for 1-2 hours to dry out before drawing. When firm and the fondant is dry, doodle little drawings with a black edible ink writing pen. Return to the fridge for another 1-2 hours to allow the black ink to dry. Remove and fill in the drawings with the colored edible ink pens of your choosing.
The cake will keep at room temperature for 24 hours and up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
Recipes and project adapted from The Sweetapolita Bakebook by Rosie Alyea, © 2015.
Here’s a peek at some of the other amazingness inside The Sweetapolita Bakebook.
I think you’ll love it.
* This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.
March 29, 2015
Look what the Easter Bunny brought early… bite-size baskets filled with candy and cake, too.
I used licorice belts for the basket handles. Just cut them into 1/4 inch strips that are about 3 1/2 inches long and set aside until you are ready to decorate.
If you cut them too long, they’ll droop on top of the pop.
Okay, now let’s shape the basket bases.
Follow the directions for basic cake pops and then shape the cake and frosting mixture into basket bottoms. Take a look at this post on how I shaped cylinders, but basically I roll them into balls first and then shape by hand as much as possible. When the basket shape starts to form, you can slide it on a wax-paper covered surface to achieve distinct edges.
After you have them shaped, use a toothpick to make two indentions on the top of the base. This is to help the handles have a slightly deeper place to be inserted for stability.
Dip the cake pops into melted chocolate coating and then insert the handles before the coating sets. That’s probably the trickiest part of making these pops.
But, it’s the rest of the decorating that’s the most fun.
First, draw an outline around the top of the basket with a toothpick dipped in melted candy wafers. Then sprinkle with white sanding sugar before the coating sets. Use a clean toothpick to straighten up any lines.
You can also use an alternating candy wafer color here to jazz them up even more. I went simple on the bases though, so the Easter eggs and grass would stand out.
The eggs are Sweetarts jelly beans. I like these because the colors are so vibrant.
Just dip the ends of the “eggs” in melted green candy wafers and attach to the center, top of the basket and let dry.
Now for the grass. I love this Green Candy Shred from my product line with Make’n Mold.
It’s pretty perfect for Easter grass, but you can also use shredded coconut tinted in pastel colors for a thicker grass.
With a toothpick dipped in coating, apply more melted green candy wafers on the top of the basket, around the eggs and in between the handles. Then gently press the green shred into the coating and let dry.
And that’s it!
Now, I did have to stop myself from overdoing these. I thought the baskets might have needed something else, but maybe if the borders were in alternating colors that would be enough for me.
In the meantime, I put a bow on it … with some leftover bows from last weeks bunny cookie pops.
Bow Update: Just went into the kitchen after finishing this post and the bows on the handles aren’t a good idea. They’ll make the handles droop from their weight. Instead try attaching them to the front of the basket if you want to add them. : )
Too cute. Enjoy!!!
March 22, 2015
I decorated some more oreos for you. Moreos. ; ) … I loved the letter cookie pops I posted last week so much that I couldn’t resist making cute cookie bunnies, too! They’re as easy as they are adorable.
I used my Playful Shapes Mold to make the bunny ears and bow ties. It came in pretty handy for these little hoppers.
P.S. … take a look at these bunny cookies from Cake Pop Crazy on instagram using the mustache and eyeglasses shapes from the same mold … super cute!
You can also use the mold to make flower petals and I’ve seen them used by Stacey’s Cake Pops to make crazy cute turkey feathers, too.
But for bunnies, fill the center of the ear shapes with melted pink candy wafers and let dry. Then fill the rest of the mold cavity with melted white candy wafers. Tap the mold on the counter to even out the coating. Then, place the ears in the fridge for a few minutes to set quickly. Remove the shapes from the mold by pressing on the plastic and twisting the mold over a towel on the counter.
Make the molded shapes ahead so you can save time the day you want to decorate.
Keep in mind: You could also make your own ear shapes if you don’t have a mold. Just pipe melted candy coating on wax paper in the shape you need. If you want a pink center, pipe the pink first, let it dry and then pipe over and around it with white to finish the shape. Use a toothpick to help guide the coating if necessary. When you’re ready to use them, the fronts of the ears will be flat with a pink center… the backs of the ears will probably be a little lumpy though.
Separate the cookies and dip the end of a pink pop stick in melted candy wafers. Press the stick into the creme center and put the cookies back together. You can also add a little coating around the base of the stick to help keep it from falling off. Let the coating set before dipping.
Take a look at last week’s #YAY cookies to see how.
Dip the cookie completely in melted white candy wafers and let the excess fall off.
Dip the bottom end of two pre-made ears in coating and position on top of the cookie. You’ll want to do one at a time and hold in place for a bit to keep it from falling off. Take your time. Trust me, I did have a few mess-ups before I got the balancing right. Place in a stand and let dry completely.
To decorate the faces, I just used a few things.
Use melted white coating to attach the individual candies. When it sets, the candies will be glued to the front of the cookie. Then just draw the eyes with a black edible ink pen.
But get creative and decorate them in different ways. Once you have ears in place, the front is pretty much a blank canvas. I can see heart sprinkle noses, confetti sprinkle eyes, mini marshmallow cheeks, and more.
Here’s “hopping” you enjoy these cookie cuties.
March 16, 2015
Here’s a quick and cute, no-bake way to say yay with cookies!
Or say anything else sweet for that matter. It’s a totally fun way to make someone eat their words, too.
Just start with your favorite sandwich cookies.
You’ll also need edible letters.
Use a letter candy mold and candy wafers in the color of your choice to make the words.
Fill the mold cavities with melted candy wafers and place the mold in the fridge for a few minutes to set quickly.
Gently twist the mold and/or press the back of the letters to help release them from the mold. Then turn the mold over on a dish towel on the counter so the don’t break when they release.
You can make them ahead of time and save them for when you need them.
Arrange the letters to say short words like YUM… YAY… HEY… or BAE ; )
Set them aside and then get ready to dip.
Separate the cookies. Dip the end of a pop stick into melted candy wafers. Press gently into the creme center and then sandwich the cookies back together.
Let the coating set and when dry, dip the cookies into more melted candy wafers.
I went with sky blue for these so the white letters would pop off the fronts.
Let the cookie pops dry completely in a cake pop stand or simply lay them flat on a wax paper-covered surface.
Attach the candy letters to the front of the cookie pops with a dot of coating to use as glue.
Then say HEY and give them to someone to brighten their day.
February 28, 2015
I’d rather be thinking about spring-themed treats right about now, but man… Winter will not leave. So I made these adorable little mugs of not-so-hot cocoa. Hopefully we’ll be on to warmer weather soon, but in the meantime, I hope you enjoy these cold weather inspired cocoa cake pops. I love how cute they turned out!
I wanted perfectly-shaped handles for the mugs to help pull off the look, so I thought I could use my Letters Candy Mold to make them and I think they turned out pretty great. If you don’t have a candy mold that would work, you could also just pipe thick C shapes on to wax paper.
To use the mold, fill the shapes with melted candy wafers using a toothpick or squeeze bottle. Place the mold in the fridge for a few minutes for the candy to set. To release the letters from the mold, give it a gentle twist and push on the plastic from the bottom of the shapes to help release the letters. Hold the mold over a towel so the letters won’t break as they fall out from the mold.
I used the letter C and also used D, G, O, Q by filling a curved portion of those letters to mimic the C.
You can make the handles ahead of time and then just save them until you need them.
Here are the basic cake pop instructions to get you started. Once you have them rolled into balls, continue shaping them by hand. Make an indentation on one end and then roll, rotate and slide the ball on wax paper to form a cylinder like above. The wax paper makes it much easier to shape and achieve defined edges.
The indentation in the top of the cylinder shape will act as a well for the “cocoa”.
These pops are dipped in melted marshmallow white candy wafers first and then melted chocolate is placed in the well. If you made a perfect cylinder shape without a well and dipped the pops in coating, once you placed the chocolate coating on top for the cocoa it could look like it was sitting too high above the mug. But you can totally skip the whole indenting step if you want. They’ll still be cute.
Here’s how they are dipped and decorated.
Dip the cylinder in the melted coating allowing the excess to fall off. Gently press a handle shape into the side of the pop and attach a red jumbo heart sprinkle on the front before the coating sets. Let dry completely and then fill the well with melted chocolate coating (Note: I mixed chocolate with vanilla to get a lighter, more cocoa-like shade of chocolate.) Use a toothpick to coerce the coating into a circular shape if needed. You can also gently tap the bottom of the pop stick on the counter to help settle and flatten out the coating.
But wait. We need teeny, tiny marshmallows for our cocoa.
Before the chocolate sets, place 3-5 into the coating.
Oh so cute!
Enjoy!!! Hope these warm your heart.
February 22, 2015
I was craving chocolate. Just chocolate. Okay … WAS is probably the wrong choice of words because I crave chocolate everyday.
And these easy Everyday Brownies from my friend Kamran’s new book Hand Made Baking were … p-e-r-f-e-c-t. < That was me singing btw.
So decadent and fudgy!
I love brownies because the ingredients are simple and you don’t have to mess with your mixer to make them. And truth be told, when I’m craving chocolate in a pinch, I will break out a brownie mix to quickly satisfy my craving. But these brownies. Oh my gosh, they are insanely chocolatey and totally worth making my craving wait an extra few minutes for their decadence.
They call for dark brown sugar in addition to the white sugar. Sweet!
And the chocolate. Oh, the chocolate. Cocoa plus chunks of chopped dark chocolate get mixed in before baking.
And in no time, you end up with these sinfully sweet squares to enjoy.
1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 1/3 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs, cold
3/4 cup all purpose flour
5 oz roughly chopped dark chocolate cacao (54-70 percent cacao)
Position rack in upper third of the oven.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper leaving an overhang on each side.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Mix in both sugars, the cocoa powder and salt with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon.
The mixture should be lukewarm before adding the eggs. If not, set aside to cool slightly. To test, a clean finger should be able to comfortable stay in the mixture without getting burned.
Vigorously stir in the vanilla and eggs. Once the batter appears shiny and the eggs are blended in well, add the flour and mix just until the flour has disappeared.
Briskly stir in the chopped chocolate and spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake for 38-43 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center emerges slightly moist with batter.
Allow brownies to cool in the pan placed on a wire rack. Life the parchment paper and transfer brownies to a cutting board and cut into 16 equal squares.
Recipe from Handmade Baking 2014, shared with permission from Chronicle Books.
Here’s a little peek.
I started out wanting to make this Everyday Chocolate Cake.
I mean if I could take a bite out of a book, I would eat the heck out of that cover.
But, then I wanted to make these Chocolate Snickerdoodles.
And then these Heartbreak Chocolate Truffle Cookies were calling to me.
They’re still calling to me… Screaming!
But there’s lots of other non-chocolate yumminess inside too.
February 8, 2015
I rounded up a bunch of fun treats for the fourteenth. If you’re looking for something yummy, cute or chocolatey to make for your sweetheart this Saturday, then check out the links below. The list is a mix of some of my favorite past Valentine’s Day desserts plus some straight up chocolate decadence, too. Enjoy!
10. Red Velvet Cake
14. S’mores Brownies
18. Cookie Molds
28. Oreo Kisses
29. S’mores Cupcakes
Hugs and Kisses and Happy Valentine’s Day this Saturday. Hope it’s the sweetest!
February 5, 2015
I have another easy little project to share with you today using candy wafers and one of the candy molds in my Bakerella for Make’n Mold line. If you liked the candy jewel pops from a few weeks ago, then I think you’ll enjoy this project too.
It’s a fun way to make the cutest candy cupcake toppers … perfect for your sweetheart!
First, we’ll need this Sweet Shapes Candy Mold.
Here’s a glimpse of the super cute packaging.
We’ll also need some candy wafers in happy colors. Melt them and you are ready to go.
Okay, let’s get some melted candy in this mold. You can take the easy road and fill the shapes with just a couple of colors …(or even just one) in no time, but I wanted to show you how fun they could be using all the colors in the product line.
To fill in the mold, use a toothpick dipped in the melted candy wafers to draw in defined areas. If you’re filling in larger areas with one color, you could spoon it in carefully or use a squeeze bottle to pipe it into the mold.
Then layer on more colors until the mold cavity is full. (This takes a little longer than just using one or two colors, but the great thing about these is you can make the toppers ahead of time.) Make sure to let each color set before adding another color on top. When finished, pop the mold in the fridge for a few minutes to set.
They don’t look like much here, BUT…
…When you turn them over, they’ll look as sweet as can be.
I mean, look at that cute little bear with his perfectly pink paws. Oh my gosh.
I illustrated these shapes and it’s so fun to see them evolve from a two dimensional drawing on the computer to an adorable edible 3d version.
To remove the shapes, give the mold a little twist, then turn the mold over and let them release on to your counter. You can do this over a dishtowel also to help prevent any from breaking. If some don’t want to pop right out, then twist again and gently lift them out by the edge, one at a time.
To turn them into cupcake toppers, just dip a toothpick in more melted candy wafers and attach it to the back of each candy shape and let dry.
That’s it. Super easy.
I like placing these toppers on vanilla frosted cupcakes so the colorful candies really stand out.
Leave them just like this or add a few pastel sprinkles around the edge of the cupcake to spruce them up a little more.
They’ll make the sweetest Valentine’s Day treat!
Below are the Bakerella for Make’n Mold products used in this post if you want to give them a go.
You can find them in stores at A.C. Moore Crafts.
Or, if there’s not a retail location in your area, you can also order online from Make’n Mold at the links below.
Sweet Shapes Candy Mold
Pink Pastry Bags