Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Taking A Break

Hey all you faithful followers!

Sorry I havn't been posting anything as of late.  I'm an Interior Design by trade, and during the Christmas season (yes that official starts the first of November for me!) I am hired to decorate homes for the Holidays.  So I just havn't had time to catch up on any post.  I will be on a break until the weekend after Thanksgiving when I come back from a much needed Vacation!  But dont fret, I plan on working on my blog DURING my vacation so that I can do 2-3 post a week in the end of November and all through December.  As promised my first post will be the Baby Shower I keep promising to post, and then Christmas recipes and decor!  I have great ideas coming up so stay tuned!

Here is a sneak peak from last year. The first tree is in my apartment and sadly I didnt get great pictures of it, but this year, I have a new camera and cant wait to show you more details of these trees and better shots of them!

Peacock Tree
Candy Lane Tree

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Time Out For Women

Today I was featured on Time Out For Women!  It's a website about every day women from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the amazing things they do, uplifting stories about trials they experience and just life in general! I am so thankful to have this opportunity to be featured on such an amazing website! Check out the post called Chocolate Anyone featuring my Smores cupcakes.  You can see the link HERE!

Also stay tuned for my first baby shower called "Just Too Sweet" coming soon!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Stella Rose 1st Birthday

I don't know if you remember your first Birthday, I dont.  But I do have a darling picture of me sitting in my high chair with my messy red hair smeared in frosting, and my bright green eyes glowing from the excitement of digging into my white cake with pink frosting!  Maybe it was then that I discovered my love of cute desserts... who knows? 

You can only imagine my excitement when my friend and personal trainer Loriol asked me if I wanted to help create her beautiful baby girls 1st Birthday party.  I couldn't wait to start creating!  The theme was to be a rose theme, after her name Stella Rose, It would be set in the park with fun festive colors, but using pink and yellow as the main colors!
We decided to the cake as a Red Velvet cake with Cream Cheese frosting,  So of course I had to make it pink, with little rosettes all over, and then I did a twist on modern roses on the sides in fondant.  Then we had dark chocolate cupcakes with a raspberry filling, dark chocolate ganache, and butter cream frosting on top, and vanilla bean cupcakes, with buttercream frosting done in large and minis with fondant roses.

The wind was a bit out of control before the party, so it was a constant battle to keep the sign, lanterns and ribbons stable! But it calmed down once the party started.
We used funky flowers in teapots and candy dishes in the yellow and pink color scheme! A cute girly sign, along with ribbon streamers and festive lanterns for decoration.

Fresh roses adorned the present table.

Ribbons and fabric adorned the sides of the tablecloth to create a whimsy feeling to the table.
The darling Birthday Girl, showing off her walking skills!
Birthday girl enjoying her cupcake in Moms arms, and opening presents with Mom!

For all the recipes to this party click HERE!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Stella Rose Birthday Cake

Little girl birthday parties are one of my favorite events to do!  So you cant imagine my excitement when my friend, and personal trainer, Loriol asked me to help her with a party in the park for her beautiful girl who was turning 1. The theme was to match her name, Stella Rose, but be fun and playful with bright colors.  So we used pink as the main color, Roses in the cakes and cupcakes, and played off it from that.  For the birthday cake I made a Red Velvet cake with a Cream Cheese frosting. For the guest I made chocolate cupcakes with a raspberry filling and dark chocolate ganache on top with a little buttercream dollop, and vanilla bean cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting.  The recipes for the cupcakes are below:
Red Velvet Cake with Pink Frosting

Red Velvet Cake Recipe
(Makes 3 - 8 or 9 inch layers)

2 1/4 C. sugar
3/4 C. vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 1/2 T. white vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 T. cocoa
3 oz. red food coloring
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 C. buttermilk
3 3/4 C. flour
1 1 /2 tsp. vanilla
     Cream sugar and oil, then mix in eggs one at a time, beating
 after each one.  
     Mix vinegar and soda and set aside.
     Add cocoa and food coloring to egg mix (you can cut it to 
2 oz, but it won't be as vibrant of a red.)
   Beat in the flour alternating with the buttermilk.  Add soda 
mix and vanilla.  
     Line bottoms of 3- 8 inch pans with parchment paper.  Do
 not grease the pans.  Pour batter evenly into the pans.  Bake 
at 350 for 30 minutes or until springs back.

So here are my tweaks... 

I always sift the flour and salt together, and I never use anything but cake flour.

Instead of 3 oz. of food coloring I did 2 bottles, and then filled one with water and added that.

I always mix the cocoa and food coloring together and make it into a paste then add it to the mix.  It was just what I was taught so its the way I do it.

Last tweak, instead of mixing the vinegar and soda early on, I was always taught to wait until the end and mix it, and then fold it in after everything is added.  So after you add the vanilla, mix the soda and vinegar together and fold into the cake.  Then I put the cake into two 10" cake pans. I prefer doing the 3 layers, but I was feeling a little lazy...

Honestly, I highly suggest trying this recipe, everyone LOVED it and I cannot say enough good things about it!

The original recipe is from PURPLE CHOCOLATE HOME, her blog is amazing, and has the best recipes!  Her Halloween decor and recipes were beautiful this year and I cant wait to see what she does for christmas!  The original Red Velvet Cake recipe is here.

For my frosting I used a Cream Cheese frosting on the inside of the cake, and then a stiffer buttercream  to make the pink flowers.

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 pkg. Cream Cheese (room temperature)
1 cube of butter (room temperature)
1 T. Vanilla
5 C. Powder Sugar
2-4 tsp. Whole Milk

In a mixing bowl combine cream cheese and butter until they are mixed together well.  Next add the vanilla and mix together.  Add one cup of powder sugar and beat on a low speed until it is blended in well.  Next, add another cup of sugar with one teaspoon of milk.  Continue this process until you get the right consistency.  You want it so it easily spreads on the cake, but is not runny.  So depending on how thick you want it, depends on how much milk you add.  IF you feel like its too runny, dont worry, just add more powder sugar.  I like to get it so if i swipe my finger in the frosting, it comes out with a bit of a peak to it.
After I frosted the cake, I let it refrigerate for an hour letting the frosting harden so I could decorate the cake better.  I call this layer the crumb coat.  So It didn't matter if it was beautiful or not, I just needed the flavor.

Buttercream Frosting

1 C. Butter (2 cubes at room temperature)
1. tsp Vanilla
4 C. Powder Sugar
2 tsp. Whole Milk

In a mixer, combine both cubes of butter and vanilla and mix together well.  Add one cup of powder sugar and mix well.  Next, add another cup of powder sugar and 1 tsp. of whole milk and mix.  Repeat process until all the powder sugar and milk are combined.  Continue beating the frosting for a minute or two until it gets nice and fluffy! Add desired color and mix in, then add to piping bag ready to pipe!

If you really want your frosting to be stiffer and easy to decorate, its best to replace one stick of butter for 1/2 a cup of shortening.  I just have a hard time using shortening, if its going in my body.  So I prefer butter, but if you like it, you will have a much stiffer frosting thats easier to pipe and design with!

For the white flowers, I used fondant rolled out into very thing circles.  Then i placed forks and spoons underneath them to get the folds in them.  Set them out over night and they hardened.  The roses are also fondant along with the leaves on all the cupcakes!
For the Vanilla Bean Cupcakes you can find the recipe HERE!  Instead of the strawberry frosting, I used the cream cheese frosting on these as well.
Dark Chocolate Raspberry filled cupcakes with a Dark Chocolate Ganache.

For the cupcake recipe I used my Chocolate Cupcake recipe found here, but I used Hershey's dark chocolate cocoa instead of regular.

So first step was I baked the frosting, and then let them cool.

Next, I made the Raspberry Cream Cheese filling:
Take one package of Cream Cheese at room temperature and place in mixing bowl.  Add 2 Tbs, of fresh raspberries, 1 cup of powder sugar, and 1/2 tsp of vanilla and 1/2 tsp of raspberry extract.  Blend all of them together.  If the mixture is soupy add more powder sugar, until it comes out thick.   If your Cream Cheese is not at room temperature then you will have lumps of cream cheese and it will look kinda gross. Try to keep mixing it until it all comes together, hopefully!  Also if your not using fresh raspberries, I cant be sure how this will turn out.  Frozen raspberries tend to be more wet, which will make your filling more soupy.  So if you cant get the fresh raspberries, then maybe try using a raspberry jam without adding the sugar.  It might work, though I have never personally tried it!

Place a whole in the cupcake, either using a cupcake device that creates wholes, or using your fingers and smashing the middle of the cupcake in... it works I promise!  Though I used the device now!

Place raspberry filling in a piping bag and fill up the cupcakes with the Raspberry Cream Cheese mixture.

Next make the Ganache:

For the ganache.  I used a double broiler, then placed 1 bag of Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips, with 2 tsp of Whole Milk and stirred them together until all the chocolate was melted and the milk was incorporated in.  It will become a thick, shiny, almost frosting like paste.

Take a teaspoon of ganache and gently spread it across the cupcake.  You can use more the just the teaspoon but you want it to get near the edges but not over the edge of the cupcake.  Spread it out and let them sit for a bit.

Next take some of the left over cream cheese frosting (you probably need two batches if you are making all of these cupcakes) and pipe a little rosette of frosting on the top.

Add a fondant rose and your done! Now how do you make a fondant rose?  Good question, I had never done it before this party either.  So I found this tutorial from Make Fabulous Cakes and used it to make my roses!  You can find it HERE!

Stay tuned for the party to be posted on Monday!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Dark Chocolate Salted Carmel Cake

I noticed that the biggest recipes going around this fall were the Salted Carmel cakes, cupcakes, brownies, hot chocolate... I mean honestly, it never ends.  So I thought I would attempt a cake.  The problem was there were so many to choose from. So i looked at a few, got inspiration from others, and ended up with this.
For the inspiration, I saw this cupcake on PHENOMENON and was going to do that, but after reading the recipe I decided to go with a chocolate cake, instead of a pumpkin cake.  So I used this one I found on ANNIE EATS instead.  I loved it!  I did end up adding the Chocolate Ganache from Phenomenon on top, I made it a little too thick, but oh well.  Originally I made a sugar glass bowl to sit on top of the cake, but it shattered.  So i just put all the shattered pieces on the cake!

Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Layer Cake
Printer-Friendly Version
For the cake:
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
2¼ cups sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
2¼ tsp. baking soda
1½ tsp. baking powder
1½ tsp. salt
6 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. buttermilk
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. brewed coffee*
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
For the filling:
1 cup sugar, divided
¼ cup water
¼ cup heavy cream
Generous pinch of sea salt, such as fleur de sel
4 large egg whites
1½ cup (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the frosting:
12 oz. good quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
¼ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
¼ cup very hot water
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. (18 tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
Pinch of salt
Fleur de sel, for finishing
*Note – Coffee is used as a flavor enhancer in many chocolate cake recipes.  Even if you are not a fan of coffee, don’t be afraid of this – it’s still chocolate cake, and you don’t taste the coffee.
To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Grease and flour the edges of 3 8-inch baking pans, shaking out the excess.  Line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Mix on low speed to blend.  Add the vegetable oil, buttermilk, coffee, eggs, and vanilla to the bowl and mix on low speed until well blended and completely incorporated.  Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.  Bake 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let the cakes cool in the pans about 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.  Remove the parchment paper.
To make the caramel buttercream filling, place ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a medium saucepan.  Mix in the water.  Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat.  Stop stirring and let the caramel cook, gently swirling from time to time, until it is a deep amber color (test a drop on a white plate or bowl if necessary), watching it carefully to avoid burning.  Remove the mixture from the heat and slowly whisk in the cream and then the salt.  Set aside and let cool.
Combine the egg whites and the remaining ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160° F and the sugar has dissolved.  Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.  (The bowl should be cool to the touch.)
Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated.  If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more (or longer - don’t worry, it will come together!)  Blend in the cooled caramel until smooth and completely incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
To make the frosting, place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.  Set aside and let cool to room temperature.  In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder and water and stir until smooth.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, confectioners’ sugar and salt.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  With the mixer on low speed, gradually blend in the melted and cooled chocolate until well incorporated.  Blend in the cocoa powder-water mixture until smooth.
To assemble the cake, level the cake layers if necessary.  Place one of the cake layers on a cake board or serving platter.  Top with half of the caramel buttercream and smooth in a thick, even layer.  Place a second cake layer on top and smooth the remaining caramel buttercream over that.  Place the final cake layer on top.  Cover the top and sides of the cake with the chocolate frosting and smooth with an offset spatula.  If desired, use additional frosting to pipe decorative accents on the cake.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Before serving, sprinkle with fleur de sel.