Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dirt Track Racing with Lightning McQueen

There must have been something in the water, because this is the third Third Birthday Cake I've made in as many weeks.  And the second Lightning McQueen cake as well!

I really love this movie.  I watch the movie over and look for clips to find the right scene for inspiration.

This is a marble cake with chocolate buttercream frosting, which the birthday boy specifically requested. I filled the inside with chocolate pudding.  The rock formations are cereal treats covered in chocolate frosting.  The cactus and Mater's hood are fondant.  The gravel is crushed Nilla wafers.  I think it would have looked better if it were completely covered in fondant...But I don't especially like to eat fondant so I hate to over do it.

I think it was during the credits that Mater was fishing for his lost hood.   He said something like, "Look!  I found my hood."  He puts it on and with a noticeably nasal voice, say, "How do I look?!"  Sneeze and off it flies.  "Shoot."

Mater is by far my favorite character.  Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Thomas the Tank Engine

On the island of Sodor, there's a cheeky little fellow named Thomas the Tank Engine.  He's a big hit with little boys who are turning three years old.  So of course, when a friend asked if I could make a 3D Thomas, I jumped on board!

This was a chocolate cake with Vanilla buttercream.  Thomas was sculpted out of cereal treats and covered in fondant.  The railroad sign and tracks are also fondant and the gravel is crushed Oreos and Nilla wafer cookies.

Happy Birthday Lorenzo!!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Twins Third Birthday Cake a Safari

If you've ever met or seen my girls you know just how different they are for twins.

Twin A:  Straight, blond hair and dark brown eyes.
Twin B: Curly brown hair and cool blue eyes.

Their personalities are equally unique.

So when I was modeling the lions for the top of their cake I changed the Mane style...First of all because I wasn't satisfied with my first attempt.  But then I decided to keep them different because I thought it was a better representation of how unique each girl really is.

I felt the straight mane was just too flat.  Like a bad hair day.  So taking my lead from the pictured lion on the plate I made the second one with spikes.

I like the spike, and Paul likes the straight.  Leave a comment and tell me your preference.

I drew my inspiration for this cake and the look of the animals from the party plates the first photo.  This is my first time modeling these animals and I'm fairly pleased with how they turned out.  Also I made the letter for "Happy Birthday" using candy melts in molds I have that are originally intended for gum paste. So I was pleased how those turned out as well...Since I can not neatly writing with frosting to!

Here are a bunch more photos.

My giraffe munching leaves.

The idea here is that the zebra is emerging from the jungle...Even though zebra don't really live in the jungle.

My little purple monkey.

The cake is chocolate almond filled with dark chocolate pudding and covered with a vanilla swiss meringue buttercream.  I will be serving it with french vanilla ice-cream.  I can't wait to eat it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Glazed Chocolate Sweet Cake for Valentine's Day

A couple of weeks ago my best friend was cleaning out her basement, getting rid of some stuff she had inherited from her mother-in-law.  Her mother-in-law was apparently quite the baker and she had a little side business making cakes for folks.

Anyway, my girlfriend pulled together about 5 boxes of cake pans and various other baking things that she was not going to use, so she asked if I wanted any of it.  Ah, let me think about that for a moment...

YES PLEASE!  After lunch we pawed through the boxes and I left her house feeling like a kid who had just left the candy store after a free shopping spree!  It was great.

And among the treasures were some cute little heart shaped cakelette pans (in the background of the above photo).  Adorable.  One look and I knew I had to incorporate those into my Valentine's Day baking plans.

Then, by chance I was flipping through my Best-Ever Cookies book and found this recipe for glazed chocolate sweet cakes.  PERFECT!

Glazed Chocolate Sweet Cakes
From: Best-Ever Cookies by Nestle

1 c Nestle toll house semi-sweet Morsels
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/3 c vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup water

Microwave  the morsels on high for 1 minute in a microwave-safe bowl; stir.  Microwave additional 10 to 20 second intervals, stirring until smooth.  Cool to room temperature.  Combine flour, soda and salt in small bowl, set aside.
BEAT sugar, oil, egg and vanilla in large mixing bowl until blended.  Beat in melted chocolate.  Gradually beat in flour alternately with the water.  Spoon into greased muffin cups.
BAKE in preheat 350 degree F oven for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick insert in the center comes out clean.  Let stand 20 minutes.  Remove from pan; inverting onto wire racks to cool completely.

1 c Nestle toll house semi-sweet Morsels
2/3 c heavy whipping cream
2 T. butter
2 T/ light corn syrup

HEAT the morsels, cream, butter and corn syrup in medium, heavy duty saucepan over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat; stir until smooth.  Cool to room temperature.  Spread over tops and sides of cakes or dip cakes in glaze. 

Except...That's not exactly what I ended up doing.  I tried White chocolate ganache (from but it wasn't nearly as dark white (does that make sense?) as I had hoped.  Basically, you can see right through it.  I was about to make dark chocolate ganache, but then discovered that I still had some cream cheese frosting hiding in the back of my refrigerator.  I gave it the sniff and taste test...I'm still here, not sick = must be still good.  So that's what you see here.

Yum.  I love, love, LOVE cream cheese frosting.  Even if it's been sitting around in the fridge for a while.

And let me also share with you a new kitchen toy.  

Maybe you've figured it out already, I make a LOT of pancakes.  It's my go to meal.  And I'm always dripping batter here and there.  Cupcakes, I make a HUGE mess with cupcakes.  Grace is not one of my attributes.  So this little gadget has come to my rescue.  Just pour your batter in and squeeze the handle to dispense just the right about of batter.  I LOVE it.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Bake through a cookbook wk 3 - Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have a love - hate relationship with cookies.

I love to eat them, but HATE to bake them.

They never come out perfect.  I can't seem to judge when their done.  And over-done cookies are a crying shame so I inevitably take them out too soon.

These do NOT look like the photo in the book.  They are flatter than pancakes even though the recipe specifically calls for some shortening to give me a bit of height.  But...

They still taste really good.

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
From:  Williams-Sonoma Desserts

1 oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 salt
6 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 T. vegetable shortening
2/3 c firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 c granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c bitter-sweet or semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Melt the chopped chocolate, either in a double boiler (as recommended by recipe) or in microwave for those of us with patience problems.  Set aside to cool.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt until blended.  In another bowl, beat together the butter, shortening and sugars until well blended and fluffy.  (I'm lazy so I used my mixer but the recipe suggests using a wooden spoon - be my guest.)  Beat in the melted chocolate.  Ad the egg and vanilla and mix until blended.  Add the dry ingredients and stir until almost blended.  Add the chips and if using, the nuts and continue stirring until blended.
  • Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1 1/2 inches apart.  Bake until they are puffed but still look moist on top, about 15 minutes.  Let cool on racks to room temperature.  Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

OK, now go make some and send them to my house!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cornbread is comfort food

I love cornbread.

My husband thinks it's dry and dull, but I love it.  It's crumbly coarse texture and slightly sweet flavor.  My mom made cornbread fairly regularly and I always had seconds and then ate all the left-overs over the course of the next few days.

Warmed with butter and a touch of honey, it's a perfect mid-afternoon snack with a cup of tea.  I also love that it's easy to make with ingredients that are usually already in your cupboards.

This is my mother's recipe...In that it's the one she used.  I don't know it's origins.

From: Source Unknown

1 c yellow cornmeal
1 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c sugar (this time I substituted honey)
4 tsp baking powder
1 c milk
1 egg
1/4 c vegetable oil (this time I substituted melted butter)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Grease 8-inch square pan.
Combine dry ingredients in large bowl.
Combine milk and egg and beat together.
Add milk mixture and butter to dry ingredients, then add honey and mix just until combined.
Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Allow to cool slightly but serve warm with butter and a drizzle of honey.

I think I'll have another piece right now.

Friday, February 3, 2012

CAbi logo cake

Carol Anderson by invitation, (CAbi) is a clothing company who's business model seems to be a bit like Pampered Chef, Tastefully Simple and countless others.  A consultant comes to your home, you invite all your girlfriends and you shop in the comfort of your home and the company of your best friends.

What could be better?!  Girls LOVE this kind of thing, apparently.  Otherwise there wouldn't be so many companies using this business model.  So where does cake come into play???

Well, if you're throwing a CAbi party why not serve a CAbi dress cake.  Ta-da!! logo
My attempt to reproduce in cake.

This is a pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese frosting.  For all you people out there that WANT to love carrot cake...but you just don't, this may be the cake for you.

But then again I'm biased.  I LOVE Carrot Cake and spice cakes and cream cheese frosting. OMG!  How I  ADORE cream cheese frosting.  Best.Frosting.EVER!

And when paired with the spicy and moist pumpkin spice cake, I just want to dive in and spend the day.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

What should I call it?

I have musings of owning my own cakery.  A bakery that pretty much only produces cakes.  And I toy with the idea much like a cat toys with a mouse its caught.  I chase the dream and get serious about taking a bite, but then I let it go until I must chase it again.   Pretty deep, I know.

Here's the problem, every time I think I have come up with this fantastic business name...I realize just how fantastic it is.  Because it's already out there.

THis is where you come in.  I need your help and participation.

IF! I were to open up a cake shop...What should I call it?

Send me an email or leave me your suggestion in the comments.

I'm not saying I will open a shop...But I'm not saying I won't.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Butter Pecan Ice-cream

I LOVE ice-cream, even more than cake.  Gasp!

Yes, I did just say that.

Paula's Pecan Praline Cake got me thinking about pecans and brown sugar.

So of course, butter-pecan ice-cream came to mind.  After a quick search on the internet for recipes, I had what I wanted to try.  Have I mentioned just HOW much I love the internet?  OK, just checking.

Butter-Pecan Ice-Cream
An adaptation of a recipe.

4 egg yolks
4 T. unsalted butter
3/4 c packed light brown sugar
2 c heavy cream
1 1/2 c whole milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 - 1 cup pecans toasted and chopped

POUR cream in bowl that is inside a larger bowl of ice and water.
MELT butter in heavy saucepan over medium heat.  Stir constantly and heat until brown flecks appear.
STIR in brown sugar until completely melted.
SLOWLY <--  NO Seriously do it SLOWLY, add milk to saucepan and continue to cook until all the sugar is dissolved.  If you pour it in fast the sugar seizes up, sticks to the bottom of the pan and it takes FOR.EVER for it to dissolve.  Which it will eventually do.  Save yourself the panic and pain and pour it in slowly.
BEAT egg yolks in separate bowl.
ADD about one cup of hot milk mixture to eggs while whisking constantly to temper the eggs.  Then pour egg mixture into pan with the rest of the milk.
COOK until it thickens and coats the back of the spoon.
POUR custard into cream, stir in vanilla and cover with plastic wrap contacting the surface of the custard to prevent a skim from forming.
CHILL in fridge until completely cool or overnight.
PREHEAT oven to 400 degrees F and place pecans on tray in single layer.
TOAST until fragrant, about 4-6 minutes, stirring half way through.  Chop and set aside.
FREEZE in ice-cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.
STIR in chopped pecans and transfer to freezer container.

Viola!  Homemade Butter-Pecan Ice Cream.  Have you purchased your very own ice-cream maker yet?

Well, get to it!

Then you can have ice-cream for breakfast too.