Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas Goodies

I can't believe I had enough in me after these to make more sugar cookies! For our friends, I made some simple sugar cookies with royal icing.
For other friends, I made Bakerella's cake pops, covered in white and red candy melts and painted them with gold luster dust.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy Birthday, Beansy!

Beansy's 3rd Birthday was spent in Utah since it's right before Christmas. She had an Alice in Wonderland Tea Party with her girl cousins. I made individual present cakes covered in pink fondant and black decorations. The cake was hot pink velvet filled with vanilla buttercream.
That night, she celebrated at the Cheesecake Factory with both sets of grandparents and one of her uncles. Her favorite character now is Celia from Monsters Inc. (random? yes) so she got a Celia cake for that party. The cake is white with pistachio buttercream.
And finally, here are the birthday cake cookies I made for her preschool class.

Friday, December 26, 2008

CS Bakers- Chocolate Hazelnut Nutcracker Cake

Whew! I'm starting to update. It's been a crazy couple of weeks! First of all, December's Cake Slice Bakers cake was Chocolate Hazelnut Nutcracker cake. A hazelnut sponge-like cake with grated chocolate mixed in, soaked in syrup, and layered with Creme Chantilly.
I personally was disappointed in this. The hazelnut flavor was great, but like this cake, I didn't like just whipped cream for the filling. I would also add more chocolate to the cake as I couldn't taste it. I just used simple syrup instead of run syrup.
Chocolate Hazelnut Nutcracker Cake
Makes one 9inch triple layer cake
Ingredients – for the cake layers
1 cup skinned hazelnuts (about 4 ounces)
10 whole graham crackers (5½ ounces), broken into pieces
1¼ cups sugar
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely grated
10 eggs, separated
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup all purpose flour
1½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp baking powder

Dark chocolate curls for decoration

Method – for the cake layers
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of 3 9inch cake tins. Line the base with parchment paper and dust the sides with flour, tap out any excess.
2. Spread the nuts onto a baking tray and toast for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned. Leave to cool completely. Increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
3. In a food processor, grind the graham crackers to crumbs. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Add the toasted nuts to the processor (no need to wash) and add ¼ cup of sugar. Pulse until the nuts are finely ground, but do not blitz too much or else it will form a paste. Add the nuts, graham cracker crumbs and grated chocolate together in the bowl and mix.
4. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and ½ cup of sugar using an electric mixer until well blended. Add the oil and vanilla slowly, beating until ribbons begin to form on the surface of the mixture. Then, fold in the chocolate nut crumbs.
5. Place the egg whites in a clean bowl and beat until thick and foamy. Gradually add the remaining ½ cup of sugar, continuing to beat until the whites form stiff peaks. Fold a third of the egg whites into the yolk mixture and mix well to slacken the mix. Sift over the flour, spice and baking powder and fold in. Gently fold in the rest of the egg whites until no streaks remain but do not over mix.
6. Divide the batter between the three pans and bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the layers cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire wrack to cool completely.
7. To assemble the cake, place a layer on a cake stand, flat side up. Sprinkle it with a third of the rum syrup and let it all soak in for 1-2 minutes. Spread ¾ cup of crème Chantilly over the top, right to the edge. Repeat with the remaining layers, letting the syrup soak in before adding the crème.
Use the rest of the crème to cover the sides of the cake. Decorate the top with dark chocolate curls.

Rum Syrup
¼ cup sugar
¼ water
¼ cup dark rum

Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Place over a medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and add the rum. Allow to cool before using.

Crème Chantilly
2 cups heavy cream
3 tbsp confectioners sugar
1½ tsp vanilla extract

Combine the cream, sugar and vanilla in a chilled bowl and whip until the cream is stiff but not too thick or buttery.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Tree Cupcakes and Present Cake

Is it just me or does every company do a United Way fundraiser every year? At almost every company I've worked (in multiple states), there's always been a United Way drive. Well, like every year, there was a bake sale. I made chocolate cupcakes with almond Italian meringue buttercream. These little trees were so fun.
And I made a mini cake present. I didn't have time to clean it up much, hence the powdered sugar dust on the decorations.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

TWD- Grandma’s All-Occasion Sugar Cookies

Starting the holiday season off right, we have yet another cookie recipe this week. Chosen by Ulrike of Küchenlatein, these are a variation on a couple sugar cookies recipes from Dorie. I love sugar cookies and the satisfaction I get from a whole batch of baked, decorated sugar cookies. What I don't love, is the time and effort it takes to get to the end of a whole batch of baked, decorated sugar cookies. All the chilling, rolling, cutting, baking, re-chilling, re-rolling (I know, sometimes you're not supposed to re-roll), more baking....and then you're still not done when they come out of the oven. Honestly, I'm only cut out for this kind of thing a couple times a year.
But it's the Christmas season and you HAVE to have some sugar cookies, right? Well, Dorie's recipe is great because you can just roll and cut right in the plastic wrapped dough disks! I love it!! No floured countertops (and floors)! The dough is super soft, though. To save 2 hours of chilling time, I put mine in the freezer for about 45 minutes. Worked just fine. I kept trading off between the two dough disks- kept one in the freezer while I worked with the other. Here's my helper. I know I shouldn't let her lick the paddle, but you couldn't resist that face, either. In Christmas jammies, no less! I topped mine with a simple sugar/milk drizzle and some colored sugar sprinkles. I also drizzled a few with melted chocolate.
So, not as cutely (is that a word?) decorated as I would've liked if I had more time, but these cookies are really good. Buttery and crispy... I am of the opinion that they need icing, however. A naked sugar cookie is not for me!! Check out Ulrike's blog for the fantastic recipe!

Monday, December 1, 2008

TWD- Chocolate Linzer Sables

Wow, I actually got these done. Luckily, I'm on the West Coast, so I saw this recipe by 2:30pm my time. This week's recipe was chosen by Noskos of Living the Life. I haven't made sables before, nor have I ever made anything linzer as I'm not prone to make anything with jam, but I figured I would make chocolate filling. Then I looked at the sidebar in the recipe and there it was! Great minds think alike, right?
I actually used finely ground unsalted cashews since that's the only nut I had in our pantry. I halved the recipe and also added 3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder with the flour/nut mixture.
Let me just tell you, the smell from these was AMAZING! The tiny bit of cloves (not a fan, normally) and cinnamon, with a hint of chocolate filled the kitchen, making it smell like the holidays. WONDERFUL!!I made the ganache a little thin and left some of the chopped chocolate in tact so there's a little surprise in some of the bites.
These cookies are honestly some of the best I've tasted. I would highly recommend giving these a shot. They're fairly quick (chill time notwithstanding) and easy and are absolutely wonderful!! Check out the recipe here! Thanks, Noskos for the great pick!