Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Test Kitchen Tuesday ~ Week 12

I got off easy the past couple weeks with my no-bake pies.
Sadly,I think I've burned my family out with the no bake stuff.
This week I decided to make cupcakes. Not just any old cupcakes, something that pulls the sun rays right out of the sky.
I found a recipe for Blueberry Lemon Curd Cupcakes on Your Cup of Cake that look wonderful.
I made so many adjustments to the last few recipes I tried that they were no where near what the recipe called for.
This week my only adjustment was using Vanilla Bean Paste instead of a vanilla bean or vanilla extract.
If you have never used vanilla bean paste please try it. I use it in place of vanilla extract and it has such a wonderful flavor.
I buy it in the 32 oz because 8 oz doesn't go far.

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First I made the lemon curd and let that cool.
Next I whipped up the cupcakes and baked them.
While they were baking I made the fresh blueberry buttercream.
I usually use extracts to flavor my buttercream. This was my first time using fresh berries.
Finally, I have an opportunity to use my cupcake corer

What a gem!
I don't know if I will ever make un-filled cupcakes again.
I cored the cooled cupcakes.

Filled with the lemon curd and replaced the tops.

Top with a small swirl of blueberry buttercream.

These were great!
The lemon curd was rich and delicious, the addition of buttermilk and sour cream to the cake mix covered up the chemical taste I can usually detect with a box mix.
The blueberry buttercream...eeeh...not my favorite.  I will give it another try tomorrow after the flavor has time to marinate.
I would absolutely make these again but with a vanilla buttercream , or a lemon buttercream.
Again, it's just my personal taste, you may find the blueberry buttercream to be very tasty.

Don't forget to enter my contest to win a free Craftsy Class, today is the last day!
You have until 9pm EST to enter.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Test Kitchen Tuesday ~ Week 11

Last weeks Cakeapalooza was a success and I can sleep at night again. No matter how many cakes I do, wedding cakes still stress me out.
When I have that much caking to do , I don't cook much due to the fact my oven is tied up.
Last week I made a no bake peanut butter pie as a result.
This week I am making another no bake pie. 
Not because my oven is tied up, but because 
#1 they are fast and easy. 
#2 the last one went over so well I was asked to make another.
#3 I'm just plain tired of baking and cooking after last week.
I love key Lime Pie. If it's on a dessert menu, I'm ordering it.
I have made them before, but they required baking, and sweetened condensed milk. 
I found a recipe on Eat Good 4 Life that did not require either so I decided to give it a try.
The catch is, the only ingredients I had on hand that the original recipe calls for are cream cheese and confectioners sugar.
So from that recipe, I made my own ( which is shown on my recipe card ).
I can guarantee the original recipe would be fantastic and worth trying.( I plan to when I have all the ingredients someday )
Here is my easier version of a no bake key lime pie.
I used bottled Key Lime juice and pre-made graham crust for mine. I also top mine with fresh whipped cream.

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I can't rate the original recipe because the pie I made has so many alterations.
So I will rate my version.

Like last weeks pie, it's not restaurant quality. It is fast and easy to make with great flavor.
The only thing I would do different next time is add more key lime juice. I like a very tangy pie. I would increase the key lime juice by at least 1 TBSP.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Camouflage Fondant

I live in New York.
People outside of New York assume I live in New York City.
People in New York City assume I live in New York City. They consider Westchester County to be Upstate and where I live in New York might as well be Canada.
Even though I live in a city I am surrounded by farm country.
I live near towns where your closest neighbor may be a mile away.
I live in the part of New York where both the women and men are avid hunters.
It's not unusual for me to get a request for a camouflage cake, it's quite popular here in Central New York actually.
What is unusual is getting a request for a camouflage, zebra, deer hunting cake...for a girl.
Fortunately I was given a photo of a cake to use for inspiration. I had no idea what to create for this. I am a city dweller, have never hunted, don't know a thing about camouflage and live where my neighbors are so close I can hear them snore.

I started by making the bottom tier in a zebra print with a big pink bow.
I have a tutorial earlier on my blog showing how I do zebra print.
The top tier I did in a pink camouflage.
When I make camouflage I take chunks of fondant in the colors I plan to use and flatten them a little by hand into camouflage shapes.
Don't go too crazy with this because when you roll it and it can distort considerably depending on the thickness of your fondant chunks.

I lay the chunks in a random pattern on my mat.

I place the top mat on and roll it all out until the pieces are seamed together.

Then I lay it on the cake and smooth it just as I do plain fondant.

This is what you get for a girl who loves zebra print and hunting deer.

Welcome to Central New York!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Test Kitchen Tuesday ~ Week 10

If you are a subscriber you may have noticed I dropped the ball last week on test kitchen Tuesday.
Between the excitement of winning a cake contest and the task of creating the largest cake I have ever made, I blanked.
So this week I have to make up for it.
But what do you do when you have a massive amount of cake to bake, your oven is tied up from sun up to sun down and your family wants dessert with dinner ? ( and you have to come up with something for Test Kitchen Tuesday)
A no-bake dessert.
Quick and easy, I can whip it up while my oven chugs along with cake.

I love anything peanut butter and chocolate, in fact if you give me plain chocolate, I will dip it in peanut butter.
This recipe for No Bake Peanut Butter Pie from Key Ingredient caught my eye.

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The only change I made was to use an Oreo crust which I put on my recipe card instead of a chocolate graham cracker crust the original recipe calls for.
I had this whipped up in no time and in the refrigerator.
The key is to not over mix the frozen whipped topping and to refrigerate the full 4 hours.
I left mine in for 6 and it was perfect!

This recipe gets a 

It may not be your restaurant quality peanut butter pie , but when you are in a pinch it makes a wonderful, quick dessert for the family with minimal distraction from my caking.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


I believe that eventually every decorator will have a caketastrophe.
Minor or major, they are heart stopping.
After 13 years of caking I had mine.
I've had minor issues where something happened while constructing the cake, or before delivery , that were quickly fixed and the recipient never knew what happened.
My caketastrophe happened during transport.
It was the Dr. Seuss hat , carved to be floppy and top heavy.

I knew when I walked out the door that I needed to keep a close eye on this cake.
I was worried it would flop over so I decided to hold it on my lap so I could steady it.
Normally I would never transport a cake on my lap, only on the flat surface in the back of the SUV, but this one was special and had me very nervous.

The cake was for a little boy's 1st birthday and the parents even built a Dr Seuss themed display for a cake stand.
The cake was important and had to be perfect.
Ten miles into a 25 mile trip I look down and watch the bottom crumble and the cake start to lean.
All I remember saying was " Turn around, we have to go home, I have to fix this".  The next 10 minutes are a blur. I could hear my heartbeat and I was starting to sweat.
I had no idea how I was going to fix it, I just knew that I had to.

The cake was going to be late, and that in itself was more than I could stand.
I messaged the recipient to let her know the cake had an accident but would be fixed and we would be a little late.
Brandon held the cake up while I just stared at it trying to figure out what I could do to fix it. I swear I could hear the clock ticking...
There was no way to repair, it had to be redone.
I stripped off all the fondant, re- carved it to be less top heavy, re- iced it and redecorated it. My hands shaking the entire time.
I must work best under pressure because I had the cake redone and we were on our way to the party in just under 40 minutes.
I was 40 minutes late for the delivery but fortunately the delivery time had been scheduled for a considerable amount of time before the party started so I was able to beat most of the guests.
Was I happy with the reconstructed cake? No, I was just happy to have gotten one there to complete the display.

All that matters is that the birthday boy's parents were happy with the cake and the guests were ooohing and aahing.
That's when I think my heart started beating again.
Caketastrophe's are a cake decorators true test.
How you handle them can make or break you.
After experiencing one for the first time there are things that I realize should be done different.
#1 Plan on delivering at least 1 hour before the event starts. I do this with wedding cakes but have not enforced it with basic birthday cakes.
#2 If you leave to deliver a cake and it doesn't feel stable, it isn't.  Make adjustments before you transport.
#3 Always have an extra batch of buttercream and fondant on hand.
#4 Try to stay calm, breathe, and do the best work you can, quickly.
#5 In some cases a " fix' won't cut it and a re-do is the best option. ( in my case)

Fortunately this happened at a point when we could get home quickly to repair it and not as we were carrying it in to the event.
Also, the cake was a very simple design to decorate so I was able to re-do it quickly, had this been a more elaborate design I may not have been so lucky.

Caketastrophe's happen, even to the best, I've seen them on Cake Boss and D.C. Cupcakes.
If it happens to you don't panic, you made it, you can fix it.
Even though I feel I am more prepared to deal with a caketastrophe, I hope I never experience one again...EVER!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The World's Coolest Cake

A month ago I got word of an international cake contest.
My first thought was that my cakes  are not contest winning material, but then I mentioned the contest to Brandon ( my better half ) and he told me to go for it.
I figured it's free, I have nothing to lose, why not?!
I love the site that was hosting the contest ' Coolest Birthday Cakes' .
 I have even used the site to help come up with ideas from time to time.
I submitted 4 of my cakes along with tutorials, not expecting to win.
Last night I received an email...my cake was a winner!
They had 750+ submissions and my Baby In a Box cake was one of the winning 6.
I was excited beyond words.
This morning the official announcement was made, and I was STUNNED!
Not only was my cake selected as one of the 6 winners, I won the Grand Prize in the Professional category.
My Baby In a Box is the Coolest Birthday Cake !!!

Check out all the great cakes on the site and all of the other wonderful winning cakes.
Congratulations to all who placed!

Speaking of contests, don't forget to enter to win a Free Craftsy Class ( $30.00 value ) that I am giving away at the end of the month.
Just leave a comment on the contest blog post and you could win.
No catch, no hassle, no gimmicks... just a give away to celebrate being accepted as a Craftsy affiliate and to introduce everyone ,who hasn't already introduced themselves, to Craftsy.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Free Craftsy Class

Over the past few months I have spent time exploring the Craftsy website.


I have found this site to be almost as addictive as Pinterest.
It's as good or better than actually attending a class and they have all the hot new techniques.
The instructors are incredible, even a beginner can produce a professional looking cake by the end of the online class.
The chevron pattern everyone is craving...on there.
The handbag cake...on there.
Piping ( which is such a challenge for me ) ...on there.

While I was visiting the other day I had an idea hit me...
I contacted Craftsy and received word back today that they have accepted me as an affiliate.
I can't remember the last time I was THIS excited.
The only thing better would be asked to create a class for them but until then, this is just fine!

To celebrate my induction into the Craftsy affiliate program I will be giving away a FREE Craftsy class ( up to a $30.00 value ) on my blog to one lucky subscriber.

To enter to win the free class subscribe to my blog ( if you are not already a subscriber ) .
*You can do that by entering your email address in the box at the top right of this page.
Then just  leave a comment on this post stating which class you are most interested in winning. 
*To leave a comment just click where it shows the number of comments at the bottom of this post.

It does not have to be a cake decorating class.
I will be using randomizer.org to select a winner April 30, 2013. ( The first comment will be number 1 etc...)
Winner will be drawn and announced in a blog post May 1st 2013.
Limit of 3 entries per person.
Entries must posted by 9:00pm EST April 30.
Winner will receive a link to your Craftsy class ( up to a $30.00 value ) by email.

Good luck!

Now click on the link below to head on over to Craftsy and see what interests you. Even if you are not ready to enroll in a class right now go to Craftsy and register so you will be notified of all their newest classes as they are released.

Starting April 5th through April 8th, a different set of Craftsy classes will be on sale each day, up to 75% off their normal price. Don't see the class you want on sale? Check back tomorrow - a fresh pick of courses will be on sale! 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Test Kitchen Tuesday ~ Week 9

If I make a dozen muffins it's a pretty safe bet that I will end up eating 10 of them.
Brandon will eat 1 when it's piping hot out of the oven.
Little B will want one just because Dad is having one, his will end up in crumbs strewn throughout the house after taking 1  bite.
That leaves me to make sure none go to waste. It's a dirty job , but someone has to do it.
Ever since joining Pinterest I have seen a lot of  single serving muffin recipes.
A portion controlled muffin right in my coffee cup made in minutes.
I finally gave in and decided to see what all the hype is about.

I chose the Berrylicious Microwave Minute Muffin from blogilates.com
It appears to be a much healthier option than my buttery, strudel topped creations.
If this works in a win!

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At the last minute I decided to mix in some raspberries, other than that I prepared the recipe as written.
I put everything in my mugs.

Mixed it all thoroughly with a fork.

Popped them into the microwave for 1 minute.
That wasn't nearly enough time in my microwave. My muffins ended up taking 2.5 minutes.
The tops become pretty firm.

Then I flipped it out of the mug and onto the plate .

I sprinkled mine with a little granulated sugar.

Survey says:

If you are looking to satisfy a muffin craving these won't do it.  As you can see by the ingredients they are quite healthy and taste it as well.
They are not your typical fluffy muffin which I had expected seeing as it is an oatmeal base and no flour.
They do taste pretty good though, and I would make them for a quick healthy grab and go breakfast.
Brandon liked them as well but suggested I add a bit of cinnamon and maybe a little granola for some crunch ( he loves crunchy food ) next time.
I agree, some cinnamon would take this up a notch for me. They weren't as flavorful as I like a muffin to be. I also wasn't really into the texture, but that is probably because in my mind I wanted a fluffy muffin.
I will absolutely be making these again, my 3 year old devoured his and wanted another.
Breakfast is usually a struggle with him but if I can whip him up a healthy muffin with oatmeal, egg, and fruit in 2.5 minutes...I can't lose. That's where we give it a thumbs up.

So, I do suggest giving them a try. They were very easy and I can't deny they are healthy and do taste pretty good.

Stay tuned, I have some exciting news and a give away coming up.