Thursday, April 5, 2012

Easter Dinner

Nothing gets me more excited then seeing the bright, festive, colors of spring popping up after a long and dreary winter.  My heart jumps when the snow begins to melt, and the cherry blossoms on the trees start to come in bloom.  For me, spring always brings a new hope to my life. Probably because I turn one year older, and I tend to always reflect on the last year of my life, and hope for whats next to come.
This year, I get to travel along with my family for a beautiful spring vacation.  Since we will be missing Easter, I decided to have it a little early this year.  I did it for my Mother  Birthday dinner which was last month.  I wanted to go with a very natural spring feeling.  I used a canvas table cloth, burlap table runner, beautiful spring plates, and cups,  and fresh greener and flowers to bring on the look of Spring! I added two glittery bunnies at both ends of the table, along with a european chocolate easter egg tucked away in each napkin, and a yummy Lindt chocolate carrot for each table setting.
The chandelier was draped with spring flowers and metallic Easter eggs, that matched the Easter eggs hidden in the napkins.

I served little cupcakes with speckled chocolate eggs, I wanted good tasting chocolate but in the end I think they look like golf balls on putting grass.  i wanted to keep the natural earthy feeling with the cake so I made a cake that looks like dirt and grass in a vase, with foiled eggs on top.  To make this I used a dark chocolate cake mix, followed the instructions on the back and baked it in a cake pan.  Once it cooled, I crumbled it up and  dumped it down for the first layer.  Then I made jello pudding mixed with cool whip for the chocolate mousse layer in-between, then I added another layer of cake crumbs and pipped the green frosting on the top, and finished it off with colored coconut.

Cream Cheese Whip Cream Frosting Recipe:

2 pkg. Cream Cheese (room temperature)
2 C. Heavy Whip Cream
1 t. Vanilla
2 C. Powder Sugar

In a mixing bowl I whipped my whip cream until it formed into soft peaks.  Then I added my cream cheese a little at a time mixing it into the whip cream.  Once it was incorporated I added my vanilla and powder sugar and mixed it into the frosting.  You might not need two cups of powder sugar.  I mixed it until it became a easily spreadable frosting.  It was a little thicker then the mousse, but not much.  I love how it turned out that.  It was an experiment, but it had a great flavor and was very light.

For the grass, I used super fine coconut.  Put it in a plastic bag with some green dye.  Then I sealed the bag, shook it up, and I had my green grass!
I had a lot of leftover cake mix, mousse, and frosting when I was done.  So I made little shot glass samples for each table setting for everyone to sample.  
Here is a close up picture of the chocolate egg.  I just wrapped some paper napkins up, tied them with a string and put the egg inside it.  Very simple and inexpensive.

Green salad with a light mustard vinaigrette and homemade rolls. For the Vinaigrette I used this recipe HERE. Although I do make homemade rolls very similar to this, a good friend of my Mothers made these for her for her Birthday.  They were simply divine!
My friend Andrea made this amazing soup for her Birthday, and I just had to make it for my Moms.  The original recipe is from Ina Garten, and you can find the link to it on my friends page HERE!  I could give you the actual link, but I want you to see my friends amazing woodland birthday party!
 Chicken Cordon Bleu with rice pilaf and steamed veggies. You can find the Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe HERE!
To finish off the night we had Creme Brûlée, my Mothers all time favorite dessert! Below is the recipe I used, which I tweaked a tiny bit, but you can find the original recipe HERE!

Vanilla Bean Creme Brûlée 

1 extra-large egg

  • 4 extra-large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for each serving
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla bean extract

  • Directions
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the egg, egg yolks, and 1/2 cup of the sugar together on low speed until just combined. Meanwhile, scald the cream in a small saucepan until it's very hot to the touch but not boiled. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the cream to the eggs. Add the vanilla and orange liqueur and pour into 6 to 8-ounce ramekins until almost full.
Place the ramekins in a baking pan and carefully pour boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the custards are set when gently shaken. Remove the custards from the water bath, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until firm.
To serve, spread 1 tablespoon of sugar evenly on the top of each ramekin and heat with a kitchen blowtorch until the sugar carmelizes evenly. Allow to sit at room temperature for a minute until the caramelized sugar hardens.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Once Upon A Time Sweet Treats Recipes

Below I have linked all the recipes for the food, however, for this recipe I did a combination of two.  Neapolitan cupcakes are a layer of Chocolate, Strawberry, and Vanilla cake.   I used the same chocolate recipe that I used on the spamoni, and then I used the same vanilla bean cupcake recipe for the mini cupcakes, and tweaked it for the strawberry.  So I will list the recipes that I used to make the Neapolitan Cupcakes, but note that it makes A LOT! 

Neapolitan Cupcakes
Vanilla Cupcakes

4 cups cake flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2 Cubes of butter, at room temperature

1/4 C. Sour Cream
2 cups sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1¼ cups milk, at room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.  Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt.  Whisk together and set aside.  Add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and creamy in color.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for one more minute.
Add the sugar to the butter mixture, ¼ cup at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition.  Mix in the eggs one at a time until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Add the sour cream to the bowl, beat on medium speed for 1 minute.  Scrape down sides of the bowl.  Combine the milk and the vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup.  With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer.
Strawberry Cupcake
I took half the batter from the Vanilla Bean Cupcakes and added six fresh strawberries that I blended in a blender, with a 1/2 C. Cake flour and mix it into the batter.
Chocolate Cupcakes
Yield: 24 cupcakes
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa powder½ cup plus 1 tablespoon hot water2¼ cups all-purpose flour¾ tsp. baking soda¾ tsp. baking powder½ tsp. salt2 sticks plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature1 2/3 cups sugar3 large eggs, at room temperature1 tbsp. vanilla extract¾ cup sour cream

Directions:Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder and hot water and whisk until smooth.  In another medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and whisk to blend.
Combine the butter and sugar in a medium saucepan set over medium heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is smooth and the butter is completely melted.  Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium-low speed until the mixture is cool, about 4-5 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Blend in the vanilla and then the cocoa mixture until smooth.  With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing each addition just until incorporated.
This recipe will make close to six dozen cupcakes.  Line your cupcake pan with some cupcake liners.  In each pan add two teaspoons of each batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 minutes.  Let cool, and frost with frosting below.
Classic Buttercream Frosting
2 cubes of butter at room temperature
1 pinch of salt
1-2 tsp Vanilla extract
4 C. Powder Sugar
2 T. Heavy Cream
Start by mixing the butter together, then add the salt and Almond extract.  Mix until well blended, scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula and add 2 cups of powder sugar.  Mix on a LOW speed and until it has blended in with the butter.  At this point it should be a very thick frosting.  Add the last two cups of Powder Sugar with 2 Tablespoons of heavy cream.  Mix well until blended together, then put on a medium high speed for 5 minutes.  This will make the frosting very fluffy! After I frosted the cupcakes, I dipped them in a very shimmery white sprinkle.
The fondant roses were pretty easy to make.  I followed a tutorial on line on how to make them.  When they were done, I used a paint brush and dipped it in Almond Flavoring and rolled it in edible glitter.  Thats how the top of the roses and silver and pink.  
 Vanilla Bean Mini Cupcakes 
Click HERE to get the recipe.
On top is a pearlised green sixlet.
The links below will take you to the original post with the links to the websites where I found the original recipe. I did change a few things in the original recipe from the Vanilla Bean cupcake.  Changing out buttermilk, for milk and sour cream and adding more flour.  Both recipes turned out great so you can do either or. 
 Coconut Cream Pie Parfaits

1 pkg. Coconut Jello Pudding
1 C. Whole Milk
1 C. Cool Whip
1 C. Graham Cracker Crumbs
1/2 C. Super fine Coconut (died pink, I just put it in zip lock bag with pink dye and shook it up)

In a bowl whisk together 1 Cup of Milk and 1 package of Coconut Jello Pudding mix.  Set aside in the fridge for 30 minutes.  When its set up.  Add 1 C. Cool Whip and fold into the mixture.  In a small parfait glass, layer graham cracker crumbs on the bottom, then pipe in a little coconut pudding.  Repeat until the parfait glass is full.  Top off with colored coconut and refrigerate until time to eat.
 Spamoni Cupcakes
Click HERE for the recipe!

 Sugar Cookies
Click HERE for the recipe!
I used the Sugar Cookie recipe and the Butter Cream frosting recipe on that link.
To View this party with all the tutorials click HERE!