Monday, August 20, 2012

Website Launch "&" Cupcakes & Tutorial

Today I'm going to try out my first tutorial. I hope it is nice and clear for everyone.

This past week, my the company my dad works for launched their website. He works in an office of all women. He is the only male out of about 20 employees. The only other boy that comes around is his coworker's dog Snoopy.

For the website launch, My dad asked me to bring in some cupcakes. I decided to use their logo and make little chocolate ampersands.

For this project you will need:
An image to trace
Wax Paper/Transparency paper
Red Candy Melts
Disposable Piping Bags
#2 or #3 Tip
#1M Tip
#230 Tip
Red Sprinkles (Optional)

To start, you will need to find and prep your image.

If you are placing the image on cupcakes, you will want to make your logo about 2" wide (the average cupcake is 3"). I used Photoshop to size and repeat my image 12 times on a page, but this can also easily be done in Word. Then print this image out. I like to make a ton of extras because these babies are fragile and some of them will not be as pretty as others.

Next, tape your image down to a cookie sheet. Then tape a piece of wax paper over it.

Now, prepare your chocolate. I drop the chips into a measuring cup. For a 24 symbols, I used about 1 C. I wanted to make sure I had enough. Then I melt it for 30 seconds, stir and throw it back in the microwave for another 20 seconds or so. Once it is a nice smooth consistency, you can put it in your piping bag and being.

Trace over your image slowly and carefully, making sure not to drag your piping tip through the chocolate, but letting it fall into place. I like to make sure that my chocolate is really touching at the intersections and thick enough that it wont be too fragile.

Quickly and generously pour the sprinkles all over. After realizing that I liked the look of them with sprinkles the best, I found that it was best to pipe one ampersand, then immediately cover it with sprinkles. It covered all my boo-boos and held to the chocolate the best.

Once they are dry, which should take only about 10 minutes at the longest, they will be ready to peel off. How I like to do this is to take up all of my tape, then slide one hand underneath the wax paper, tap away my sprinkles until I can see my chocolate again and then peel the wax paper away from the back. I find this puts the least amount of pressure on the delicate chocolate.

At the end, when you have extra icing, I like to work around my sprinkles and create new chips, then when they are dry, they are perfect for remelting.

Also, use your wax paper to help get your extra sprinkles back into the sprinkle bottle. Just fold it in half with the sprinkles inside and pour them back in.

Then bake your favorite vanilla cupcake, whip up your favorite vanilla butter cream and maybe if you are feeling daring, make a big pot of chocolate ganache to fill these babies with. I've posted my favorite recipe for each below.

Finally assemble. I used a #230 tip to fill the cupcakes with chocolate ganache. Then used my favorite #1M tip to create a butter cream swirl on top.


Vanilla Cupcakes

(Adapted from Magnolia Bakery's Recipe)

1 cup (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened
2 cup Sugar
4 Large Eggs, room temperature
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
½ tsp Salt
2 ¾ cup Flour
1 cup Milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line two cupcake tins with cupcake liners.

In an electric mixer, at medium speed, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the baking powder, vanilla, and salt. Then add the flour in three parts alternating with the milk, scraping the bowl down with each addition.

Fill the cupcake tins about 2/3 of the way full with batter (I recommend using an old fashioned ice cream scoop).

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs or clean.

Vanilla Buttercream
(Adapted from Martha Stewart)

1 & ½ cup (3 sticks, 24 oz) Butter, softened
¾ lb (12 oz) Confectioners Sugar, sifted (or not... I don't, so shoot me)
½ tsp Vanilla

Cream butter in an electric mixer for a few minutes with the paddle attachment. Don't be shy. Then add the confectioners sugar in 3-4 parts. Beat the mixture. You can't beat butter cream too much, so really let it have it. Finally, add the vanilla and let her rip one more time.

Chocolate Ganache

12 oz Chocolate or Chocolate Chips
1 cup Heavy Cream

Put ingredients in a medium saucepan and heat on low until it all comes together to create a smooth and glossy chocolate. About 5-10 minutes depending on the temperature of your heavy cream.

Let cool completely. From here you can use it as a glaze, pipe it or even whip it.

Tip: The better chocolate you use, the better your ganache will taste.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Chocolate Porsche

My boyfriend loves cars. No. I mean. He LOVES cars. Probably more than I love baking (which is a ton). He loves everything about them. They way they smell, the way they handle. He loves old ones and new ones. In particular though, he loves the Porsche.

So, I figured that for my first chocolate painting, the Porsche logo would be great. It has the perfect amount of detail to try and just 3 colors (bingo!).

So first pick the image you want to use.
 Then flip it horizontally. And print it out.
Next, tape the image to the back of a cookie sheet or a counter. Then tape a piece of wax paper or a transparency sheet on top of it. (The wax paper works great for large blocky images, but if you have details, you will need a transparency sheet to see them).

Then melt your chocolate in microwave safe bowls or on a double boiler.

Then starting with the darkest color, work on your "foreground". I started with the black areas. I outlined the logo using a #2 or #3 tip. Then I let this cool and set.

I next went back in with the red color. For the red, I melted it in a bowl and just spooned it on. Because I was just filling in areas.

Then I repeated that step with the yellow.

Finally. I smothered yellow chocolate over the whole back just to make sure that there were no parts that could been seen through and so that it would be sturdy enough to pick up.

Here is the link to a more detailed tutorial. It is the one I followed. Their final product looks much better then mine does.

And here is the final result:

The Porsche logo made of chocolate
Overall, this technique worked really well. There were some air bubbles that I could have avoided if I had been more careful and really pressed my chocolate down and gone slower.

Now, I didn't to just hand him a slab of okay tasting chocolate and say "Love you!" So I made a cake and threw it on.

Big secret. My boyfriend doesn't really like cake. So I made that part for me. Whoops.

My foot and his foot snuck their way into my photo of the cake. Whoops.

Coconut Cake and Chocolate Bacon Cake

My father and my sister's ex boyfriend share the same birthday. So that meant one celebration, 2 cakes.

Coconut Cake (Perfection) and Chocolate Bacon Cake (Gross in ever way)

My father requested the tried and true Coconut Cake. This is the best and easiest cake ever. It uses a box mix base, whipping cream, coconut and cream of coconut. Super quick with a huge impact. Also, I've made it with a lemon curd filling which was equally delicious. But if you aren't into that, you cannot go wrong with just Coconut.

Then the ex requested a Chocolate Bacon Cake. Now, he is a chef, so this was quite an undertaking. Personally, I don't get it. I thought this was a terrible combination. First, the bacon is just crumbled in the cake. So its gritty and chewy and weird. I just was not digging this. Maybe it was my recipe, maybe it was the fact I'm not huge on bacon to begin with, or maybe its just a weird weird fad. If someone asks for it again, I would make a vanilla cake with a maple butter cream with bacon crumbles on the sides. Then you could avoid the bacon if you aren't into it (like me). Have you had better luck or have a good recipe for maple butter cream?

But in the end, the birthday boys both really loved their cakes. So, that's all that really matters.

Lattice Cake

Lattice Cake

Chocolate Cake. Vanilla Buttercream. Dark Chocolate Lattice.

Champagne and Rosewater Cake

I am obviously insane. This cake was for my older sister Reggie's 22nd Birthday. She was interested in a flapper/speakeasy theme. So I went to my local upholstery store and found fringe. Also, she was really into rosewater. I don't really understand this stuff at all. You can smell it but barely taste it. Very weird. So I went with a champagne cake with rosewater frosting. In the end it was really delicious. This cake was supposed to serve a ton of people, but only about 10 people ended up showing up, so we had cake for weeks. Oh well...

21st Birthday Drink Cookies

Drink Cookies
 So we have a Margarita, Cosmopolitan, Champagne, a Screwdriver, a PiƱa Colada and a Bloody Mary. Personally, I love the Margarita the best. I was experimenting with swirling the icing colors together. (Note, I am still perfecting the perfect citrus garnish. It was harder then I anticipated).

Also for the 21 cookie, I tried my first ever royal icing transfer. I just piped a 21 onto wax paper, then shook on the sprinkles and voila. I had a great transfer.

I made these cookies for my best friend Beth's 21st birthday last summer. I made my own cookie cutters using sturdy manilla folder paper. It worked very well. Usually, when I am making my own template, I make them out of a plastic binder divider because they can be washed and reused, but I made these before my mother found those great little jobbies down the basement.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Beach Birthday Cake

So for my boyfriend's grandma's 80th birthday, I was invited to make a cake. I was so excited, because a) I love my boyfriend and his whole family and b) it gave me an excuse to make a really cute cake. They love going to a beach in Maine, so the cake was designed after that beach.

I'm pretty proud of how it came out. It was definitely one of my biggest endeavors yet.

The Final Product

A major problem I encountered with this cake was the topper. I have never done a rice krispie topper before and I assumed everything would be fine. I cheated and stuck together 8 rice krispie treats hoping that they would be able to stay up on my center dowel. I was so wrong. After dropping the cake off, I went back home for a bit to clean up before heading back to serve it and enjoy a piece. And when I returned, the whole sun had slid down on the dowel (boo!). See the beginning of it below:


Also, because they don't have air conditioning and the oven was running in the kitchen, some of my details wilted or worse: fell off the cake! The whole thing ended up really shiny because of the humidity. Any thoughts on how to make sure this isn't a problem next time?

Another technique that I was completely unprepared for was the flying birds. I just hoped that they would stay up. Again, they didn't. It wasn't terrible, but they were a little sad by the time I came back.

Overall, everyone loved the cake. It was a chocolate cake with a raspberry preserves filling smothered in a ton of vanilla buttercream.

I made all of the figurines out of bought fondant. No judging. I already had it on hand and wanted to use it up. Also, I figured that no one in this group would eat it anyways. They aren't huge cake people to begin with, and my boyfriend usually picks around the icing, so store bought worked just fine this time.

I cannot take all of the credit for this cake. One of my best friends Aaron was visiting for the weekend and he was such a trooper helping me with this cake. He helped me roll fondant, transport the cake and was just great support in general. I especially felt bad because I made him miss the opening ceremonies to the Olympics the night before. Sorry!

Aaron and I in the kitchen. He wanted to commemorate me letting someone into my space...

Finally, I am still toying around to find the perfect, universal, delicious but easy chocolate cake recipe. I promise when I do, I will post it. The one that I used for this cake was an adaptation of the Mud Cake from the cookbook Planet Cakes. I took out the coffee and tried to make it chocolate-ier and sweeter. It was close, just a smidgen too dry. Oh well. Everyone still thought it was delicious. Me included.