Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Golden February!

WTG Team Canada on your Sochi 2014 success! Hard not to brag a little about my country's medal standings... top three is pretty awesome! I am so proud of all of our athletes and the game they brought to Sochi!

I've had a busy but fun week! Started off the week with Family Day, and then helped my friend celebrate her birthday the following day. I have been wanting to make caramel buttercream for awhile now, and thought pairing it up with chocolate cupcakes would be perfect for her.

The recipe seemed simple enough but I didn't read it through all the way and realized at 9 p.m., the night before bringing the cupcakes into work, that the mixture had to be partially cooked, then cooled and then whipped. Um, ain't no one got time for that! LOL Not at that hour. So I had to improvise.

I took out a can of dulce de leche condensed milk, and mixed it with icing sugar and some meringue powder. It smelled and tasted divine! Unfortunately, it wasn't as stable as regular buttercream, and I had to work fast and keep the cupcakes refrigerated to make sure the buttercream kept it's shape. it worked and they were a hit!

Obviously, I need to plan ahead a bit more next time I want to make caramel buttercream but it turned out pretty good!

We also had company over for dinner and I made my son Tyler's favourite dessert... Chocolate Brownie Trifle...

And of course, my latest pride and joy was a cake/cupcake combo for a friend's three year old daughter. She was having a birthday party with her little friends and I was so excited to do this cake.
I did a trial run a couple of weeks ago on a strawberry cake, and it was for this request. My friend asked that the cupcakes be chocolate, and of course, how can I say no to that? LOL!
Anywho... I iced and filled the cake and draped the pink fondant on top. I had cut out two black fondant circles a couple of days before to allow for drying time. These were going to be the ears on the cake. I put on some white fondant polkadots, and used matching ribbon to trim the cake, and also used some for the big bow.
To keep the ears upright, the night before the order was due, I cut out two smaller circles of black fondant and sandwiched a lollipop stick in between the two pieces and let that dry overnight. This allowed the ability to pop them right into the cake like suckers.
For the cupcakes, each one was first piped with vanilla buttercream. Then I put two mini Oreo cookies at the top for ears, and then a large Oreo right underneath those. My friend was going to have a couple of extra cupcakes so I took the initiative to put a mini polkadot bow on one of the cupcakes just for her daughter. I'm glad I did this because in the end, she decided to serve the cupcakes at the party and save the cake for her daughter's actual birthday. :)
I also included backup ears in case the ones I put into the cake fell apart or drooped (sometimes fondant is unpredictable, but I was fairly certain the fondant ears I made would last)... I just pried two Oreos apart and put a lollipop stick in between, and added some extra icing to the cookie sandwich.
I am incredibly pleased with the results!
Now I am off to find something to do since the Olympics are over :(  So boring... maybe I'll bake!
Stay Sweet!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Valentine's Day 2014

How was your day? Did someone show you some extra love? Did someone make your day just a little bit special?

My Valentine's Day started a few days before.. actually the weekend before. I began baking for my customers and preparing for all the orders. I also baked and froze cupcakes for National Cupcake Day coming up on the 26th. My boys will be each bringing in a dozen cupcakes to sell.

Then I had to try to catch my oldest when he was home to ask him what he wanted to do for his class valentines. He had cadet winter survival camp, and then worked Monday and Tuesday and had cadets on Wednesday. I'm really missing him, he needs to stay home more! So the kids told me they wanted to do the same thing as last year... So I had to take their pictures to make it happen:

It makes me sad to know that this will very likely be the last year Tyler will hand out valentines. Where did the time go? How is he heading to high school already?   :(  He told me his classmates were pinning the card to their shirts...  LOL!

I still have a few years with this cutie-pie though... his valentines were a total hit! And why not? Who can resist that face? Definitely NOT his mom! LOL

I didn't get to take pictures of the Valentine production line, it was just too busy. But the promotion was a big success, and I will likely run something similar again in the future. It was fun to do something like that... brings me back to the days I worked in the bakery when I had multiple orders to fill. Much more enjoyable doing it at home though!

Before Valentine's Day, I had a few ideas in my head and decided to make them a reality. I created some white chocolate cupcakes with white chocolate icing. They were scrumptious!

It's hard for a chocoholic to venture out of her chocolate haze and make something different, BUT... I enjoy doing it because it shows versatility and gives me a terrific opportunity to try, and offer, something different!
This cake was mostly chocolate with white chocolate drizzle and trimmed with pretty cream-coloured lace ribbon and bow. Simple elegance!
Then I did a trial run for a strawberry cake that is on the menu for a little girl's birthday next weekend. My family loves when I do trial runs... they have no shame in being my guinea pigs, none at all! I was playing with two ideas for this one... the strawberry cake, and the white chocolate icing.
The white chocolate icing is made up of two ingredients, butter and white chocolate, but it's cooked. It's a process of melting the butter and mixing in the chocolate and letting the blended mixture get cold in the fridge overnight. The next day, you put it in your mixer and beat it. This mixture becomes light and fluffy and so easy to pipe. The only tricky part with this icing is that you need to pipe quickly. The heat from your hands warms up the icing bag, and the icing, and if you aren't quick, it becomes too soft and won't hold its shape after awhile. I definitely will NOT be using this recipe for any summer cakes... it will just end up being a melted mess. But for winter, it's out of this world.
If you'd like to check out the recipe, I found it here.

I didn't make anything special for my honey for Valentine's Day. I know, terrible of me. But, I have plans for a chocolate trifle for when company comes over for dinner this weekend, and I'm going to try something new with my chocolate cupcakes to help a friend celebrate her birthday on Tuesday. Stay tuned for that.
If you've been wondering how my experiments with my new toy, the Cricut Cake, have been going, I'll be honest... it's not even out of the box yet. Here's why! The SAME weekend I bought it, I sliced my finger open on my Pampered Chef slicer while cutting vegetables to make homemade chicken soup. I was SO angry at myself because I decided against using the safety guard... and wouldn't you know it, it's actually provided for a very good reason.   >:(   Not one of my brighter moments, that's for sure. Anyway, it took forever to heal and I wasn't about to play with fondant in that condition. Note to self, don't think you're too smart to use the safety guard! Anyway, I am all healed now and hope to crack that baby open VERY soon! Maybe this weekend!
Happy Family Day to my fellow Canadians... enjoy your weekend with your family!
Stay sweet!