Monday, November 9, 2009

Wizard of Oz Cake

My mother's birthday is tomorrow, and I promised her a cake. She LOVES The Wizard of Oz, so I decided to go with that. Back to working with fondant and modeling chocolate, I felt much more at home than when I was working with buttercream.

Wizard of Oz Cake

I did not use any new recipes for this cake. I did make a few changes to some of the recipes, but those will be listed below. It is a banana cake with vanilla cream filling, white chocolate fondant, and white modeling chocolate details (shoes and poppies). I put sliced bananas and strawberries between the layers.

I also used luster dust from Wilton to make the shoes and Emerald City sparkle. I think it added a nice touch.


Banana Cake
Vanilla Cream Filling - I added 1/2 cup of butter, softened, to thicken the filling.
White Chocolate Fondant - I used imitation banana extract instead of vanilla extract to give it a slight banana taste.
White Modeling Chocolate

Apple Cake: Last Course 1 Wilton Cake

As I mentioned in my previous entry, I did not particularly enjoy my first cake class because my teacher was a bit of a pill. She didn't really follow the rules the way I wanted her to, and I just didn't get along with her overall. Disappointing, but whatever.

I learned that I'm not a huge fan of working with buttercream and that I hate working with someone looking over my shoulder. I also realized that I do not work well when I only have two hours to do something. My final cake looks okay, I suppose...I wouldn't sell it, and I am sure I could do better. It doesn't really matter, though, right? It just got turned into cake bites for Walter's office.

This is the cake in all its amateur goodness. I was the only one who didn't bring pink/red for the roses. I got scolded for this.

Here are some of my better roses. They're still not great, but apparently the teacher was telling me to hold my piping bag incorrectly. Thanks, Teach.

Here is a rosebud. They were easy to make. I guess I made mine wrong, though. I got scolded because apparently you HAVE to have an odd number of buds on the cake. YOU HAVE TO. I don't know. I just added another bud and shut my mouth.

Here is the fluting done on the borders. My border was a little more white than my cake because I iced my cake with cream cheese frosting. I got scolded for that, too.

On another note, did you know that if you bake a cake, you can still eat it if you're diabetic because all of the sugar bakes out of it?! Yeah, neither did I. My teacher is full of knowledge.


Apple Cake

I made an this Apple Cake recipe from Foodie Two Shoes (I love that blog name, btw). I used the Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting from her blog as well, and it was all to die for. The cake tasted like apple crisp, and the frosting was heavenly. It was fantastic.

-1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
-2 cups all-purpose flour
-2 teaspoons baking soda
-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
(For these two ingredients, I used 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice)
-3/4 teaspoon salt
-2 cups packed light-brown sugar
-2 large eggs
-4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, two coarsely grated and two diced

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9 by 13 inch sheet cake pan and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together butter, sugar, and eggs until well combined. Fold in grated and diced apples. Add flour mixture and mix just until combined.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a pick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool for twenty minutes in pans, then invert onto wire rack to cool completely.

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

As I said before, this frosting was heavenly. It was the perfect compliment for this cake.

-2 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
-1 stick unsalted butter, softened
-1 1/2 pounds powdered sugar
-2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Combine cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl and beat until smooth.
2. Gradually add powdered sugar until mixture is desired thickness. Stir in vanilla extract.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Bananas Foster Cake Bites

Some friends of ours (the ones who ordered the Half-Life Cake back in June) had a fake Halloween wedding. They wanted lots and lots of cake bites. In fact, they ordered 200: 100 chocolate with chocolate buttercream, 50 red velvet with cream cheese frosting, and 50 bananas foster with almond buttercream. And so, last week I went to work. I was sick the beginning of the week and missed the third Wilton cake class, but I only really missed making the ugly little clowns, so not a big loss. Besides, I am not impressed with the teacher.

Anyway, Katie wanted the cake bites to be pretty, not Halloweeny, so I made them normal looking. Then, I sent the extras to work with Walter, and THOSE were full of Halloween goodness. Pumpkins and eyeballs galore.

By the way, I was a cupcake for Halloween. Walter was Charlie Brown in "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!" In addition to the ghost costume with extra eye-holes, he had a Charlie Brown shirt on underneath:

Bananas Foster Cake

This cake was sooo good. I found the recipe here at Erin's Food Files. I loved her video on the flambeeing, but I hoped my experience would be more fun.

It wasn't. It was disappointing. Very few flames and no fun. Tasty, though, which I suppose is really what matters...

This was also my first time buying alcohol. I turned 21 last month. I am such a grown up. :P

For the Bananas Foster
-1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
-1/2 cup packed brown sugar
-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
-2 ripe, but still firm bananas quartered (halved crosswise, then lengthwise)
-2 tablespoons dark rum
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Cake:
-2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I did use some whole wheat flour)
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
-1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
-3 eggs
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1/2 teaspoon dark rum
-Prepared bananas foster
-3/4 cup sour cream

For the Bananas Foster:
1. In a saute pan over medium heat, combine the butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cook until butter melts and sugar is dissolved (4 to 5 minutes). Add the banana slices and cook until tender, turning once for 1 to 2 minutes per side.
2. Stir together rum and vanilla. Turn off the burner and add the rum mixture to the pan.
3. Using a long match, light the alcohol by placing the flame just in the outer edge of the pan. Stand as far back as possible. The flame should extingish in a few seconds. There will not be nearly as many flames as you expect. Gently shake the pan from side to side to coat the bananas with the sauce. Spoon the bananas into a bowl and set aside.

For the cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.
4. Add eggs, vanilla, rum and banana to butter mixture. Mix well.
5. Add flour mixture alternately with sour cream. Blend thoroughly but do not overmix.
6. Pour into prepared pans. Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Almond Buttercream

This was a very smooth buttercream, and the almond went so well with the bananas foster. I found it here at Bake Space.

-1/2 cup butter, softened
-4 1/2 cups confectioners' Sugar
-3/4 teaspoon Vanilla extract
-1/2 teaspoon Almond extract
-6-7 Tablespoons Milk

1. Cream butter until fluffy. Add other ingredients gradually, mixing until desired consistency.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Spicy Bacon Chili

I am starting to really love chili. It's a lot of fun to experiment with different things, and since my cake class is at 6:30 on Tuesdays, it is much easier to make a slow-cooker chili in the morning than to worry about dinner in the evening.

Spicy Bacon Chili

This recipe is spicy, but not overly so, and I LOVE the subtle bacon flavor. It's definitely VERY subtle, but I think it adds depth to the chili that is fantastic.

-1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
-1 small onion, chopped
-2 Tablespoons crumbled cooked bacon (Hormel makes crumbled bacon pieces that work great)
-2 Tablespoons minced garlic
-1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
-1 15.5-ounce can chili beans in sauce
-1 7.76-ounce can medium homestyle Mexican salsa
-1 4-ounce can chopped green chilis
-3 Tablespoons Cumin
-1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
-6 Tablespoons chili powder
-1 Tablespoon bacon salt
-1 Tablespoon Dean Jacobs Garlic and Tex-Mex Spices (garlic, paprika, cumin, white pepper, onion, oregano, and thyme)
-1 Tablespoon Mrs. Dash Southwestern Chipotle Seasoning

1. Brown ground beef with chopped onions.
2. Combine all ingredients in slow cooker and stir to combine. Cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or low for 6 to 8 hours, stirring occasionally. Top with shredded cheese and sour cream if desired.

Pink Lemonade Cake (Wilton Course 1 Cake 1)

So, I started the Wilton Course 1 classes last week, on my birthday. So far, I am not sure I enjoy it.

My teacher is 73 years old and claims she has been decorating cakes for 50 years. That is great, but she is very sure that everything SHE thinks about cakes is correct. She also thinks she taught us things that she never mentioned. Nobody in the class (there are seven of us) is incredibly pleased with her.

She also believes in changing the rules some. We learned how to make the roses completely on the first night. I came to the first cake class expecting to make a cake with a star tip image on it, like I've seen from others who have taken the classes. Instead, we made a random practice cake using different designs that didn't look cohesive at all. I got scolded for bringing colored icing even though she told us it could be colored the week before. She scolds people if they add flavoring to the icing (I did it anyway. She didn't taste it, so she didn't know). We had a discussion about fondant, and she told me that the only fondant that is worth using is Wilton fondant, and that it tastes best (maybe just because she is doing a Wilton class, she has to promote Wilton products).

Overall, I think I am going to get what I want out of the class. She's a good teacher, albeit a bit too opinionated. But I think that when my cousin and I take Course 2, we are going to see about getting a different teacher.

Here are a couple shots of the cake:

I did pink icing because I was going to make a breast cancer awareness ribbon on my cake, since I assumed she'd follow what most people do in the classes. Note my kind of squiggly shell border.

A close up of my best rose. I am quite pleased with this one. Most of them turn out kind of funny, but this one is kind of pretty. It also has a few leaves from practicing with the leaf tip (which is really easy).

A close up of the circle of practicing the star tip. I really enjoy using the star tip, but she doesn't seem to think it's very important, so we didn't focus on it much.

I made a pink lemonade cake, inspired by the Deen Brother's recipe, but instead of white cake mix, I used this white cake recipe. I added some pink food coloring to get a nice, bright pink color. I didn't use the Deen icing recipe; instead, I used the Wilton Class Recipe with lemon flavoring.

After the class, I tore the cake up and made breast cancer awareness cake bites to send to work with Walter:

Pink Lemonade Cake

-1 recipe Classic White Cake
-3 tabl
espoons pink lemonade drink powder
-1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans and set aside.
2. Add pink lemonade powder and lemon zest to dry ingredients in white cake recipe. Make white cake according to recipe.
3. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until pick inserted into center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in pans for 15 minutes, then invert onto wire rack until completely cooled.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Zebra Cake

My fourteen year old cousin and I have always been very close. He came to stay with us this past weekend, and he asked me to make him a "zebra cake." I wasn't sure what that meant, but I did my best, and he did enjoy the results.

I used this recipe from Food Network for the cake, and I added one box of vanilla pudding to half of the batter and one box of chocolate pudding to the other half, then I swirled them together in the pans. I used these recipes for the buttercream-- with 1/4 cup cocoa powder added to 1/2 of the recipe--and the modeling chocolate (for the zebra). I used marshmallow fondant to cover the cake and for the cake's details.

Classic White Cake

This cake was just the right texture. It wasn't too crumbly for decorating like some recipes are.

-12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
-1 1/2 cups sugar
-2 cups all purpose flour
-2 teaspoons baking powder
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-6 large egg whites
-3/4 cup milk
-2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
3. Stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
4. Combine egg whites, milk and vanilla extract.
5. Alternately add flour mixture and egg white mixture, beginning and ending with flour.
6. Pour the batter into prepared pans. Bake about 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean.
7. Cool in pan on rack for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and let cool completely.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pumpkin Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies

The pumpkin shortage is finally over here in Missouri. I picked up four cans of pumpkin, just in case. That should hold me over until fall baking is through. ;)

Also, I was going to get a new camera this week, but the one I want is not actually out yet. When I do get it, I am hoping that my photos will be much better. :)

Pumpkin Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies

When I saw these cookies here at Erin's Food Files, I knew I had to make them. I LOVE butterscotch chips, and while I don't like the taste of pumpkin in some things, it was not overwhelming in these cookies. They also had a fantastic, chewy texture that I adored. Another thing I loved about this recipe was that it made five dozen cookies, meaning I only had to double it to make enough for Walter's office (I usually have to triple or even quadruple recipes).

-1 cup butter, softened
-1 cup sugar
-1 cup light brown sugar
-2 large eggs
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1 cup canned pumpkin puree
-3 cups all-purpose flour
-2 teaspoons baking soda
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
-1 cup chocolate chips
-1 cup butterscotch chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, beat butter until smooth. Gradually add both sugars and beat until light and fluffy.
4. Add eggs, one at a time, to butter mixture, beating well after each. Add vanilla and pumpkin and mix well.
5. Add flour mixture to batter in thirds and mix until combined. Fold in chocolate and butterscotch chips. Chill batter if desired (I chilled mine for about twenty minutes, and it made it much easier to work with).
6. Drop batter by large Tablespoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool on cookie sheet for two minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fallfetti Cupcakes

Today is National Cake Decorating Day! I didn't know about it earlier, so I decided to whip up some cupcakes to celebrate. Walter and I are going on a double date with a friend and his new girlfriend, and I thought it would be fun to bring my cupcakes with me.

I decided to do Funfetti cupcakes, but I didn't have any rainbow sprinkles. I had many fun fall sprinkles, though, so I used fall colors and call the cupcakes Fallfetti!

Fallfetti Cupcakes

I found this recipe here at Amber's Delectable Delights. She borrowed it from Annie at Annie's Eats. I really like this cake recipe. It was fast and easy and tasted great. Very moist and fluffy.

-1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
-2 teaspoon baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-6 Tablespoon butter, at room temperature
-1 cup sugar
-3 large egg whites
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1/4 teaspoon almond extract
-1/2 cup milk
-1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place 12 cupcake liners in cupcake pan and set aside.
2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk together and set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the egg whites to the bowl and beat until combined. Add in the vanilla and almond extracts and mix until incorporated.
4. Mix in the dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix just until incorporated.
5. Fold in the sprinkles with a spatula.
6. Spoon batter into cupcake liners. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a pick inserted into the cupcake comes out clean. Cool in pan for ten minutes. Frost when completely cooled.

Wilton's Buttercream Frosting

I usually use Wilton's recipe for frosting, but when I went to their site today, I found a different version of it that included real butter. I decided to use it instead of the normal one.

-1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
-1/2 cup butter, softened
-1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
-4 cups sifted powdered sugar (approximately 1 lb.)
-2 Tablespoons milk

1. Cream butter and shortening together until light and fluffy. Add vanilla extract and mix until combined.
2. Gradually add powdered sugar to the butter, mixing until incorporated. Add milk and mix until smooth. If icing is too stiff or too soft, add more powdered sugar or milk respectively until desired consistency.
3. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle with nonpareils or sprinkles.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cinnamon Apple Butter Cookies

Fall has wormed its way into my head and won't get out. Everything I make has to be spiced and autumnal, or I will explode.

Cinnamon Apple Butter Cookies

These cookies were meant to be spritz cookies, but I fought with my cookie press a lot and couldn't get it to work, so I added about 1/2 cup more flour and turned them into cutouts. This worked just as well, and they made lovely pumpkins and maple leaves.

I found the recipe here at Wilton's site. They were spiced and autumnal, soft on the inside with just a little crunch on the edges.

-1/2 cup apple butter
-1/2 cup butter, room temperature
-1 cup granulated sugar
-1 egg yolk
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
-2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
If making cutouts, add 1/2 cup flour

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In large bowl, cream apple butter, butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
3. Add egg yolk, vanilla, cinnamon to butter mixture and mix. Mix in flour until well combined.
4. FOR COOKIE PRESS: Roll dough into logs and fill cookie press. Using desired shapes, press cookies onto ungreased cookie sheet. FOR CUTOUTS: Roll dough out on lightly floured surface to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut shapes using desired cookie cutters, rerolling scraps.
5. Bake 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool for two minutes on sheet. Remove from cookie sheet and continue to cool on a baking rack.

WC Fall Exchange Gifts

The Fall Exchange has passed, and I got some fantastic goodies! My secret Elfster was WifeoftheChef, and she did a great job!

I received:

2010 Wilton Yearbook
Three different patterns of fall cupcake liners
Fall cookie cutters
Cute pumpkin kitchen towels
Fall sprinkles/sugars
Fall cupcake picks

Thanks, WifeoftheChef! I'm looking forward to the winter exchange!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Peanut Butter and Jelly Shortbread Cookies

I missed two weeks of cookies for Walter's office because of my illness, but now I'm on some great medication and ready to bake up a storm!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Shortbread Cookies

I decided I wanted to make these cookies late last week. I saw an ad for Smuckers Uncrustables PB&J Sandwiches, and I had an idea to make a cookie out of everyone's favorite childhood sandwich.

I'm considerably lazier than I sound, so I went recipe hunting. First, I found this recipe. I tried it, but the cookies all spread horribly, to the point that they were inedible. The reviews mentioned none of this, so I was very confused. I am not sure if I did something wrong or not.

So, I decided I'd use the idea of drizzled peanut butter and apply it to another thumbprint recipe. I found this recipe on, and it had a load of good reviews and ratings. The biggest difference between this one and the other one? Eggs. I am pretty sure the eggs are crucial to hold these cookies together. So, this second recipe was the one I went with, and then I drizzled them with Wilton's Peanut Butter Candy Melts.

-3/4 cup butter, softened
-1/2 cup sugar
-2 egg yolks
-1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
-1/2 cup fruit preserves, any flavor (I used 1/4 cup strawberry preserves and 1/4 cup grape preserves and filled half with one and half with the other)
-Wilton Peanut Butter Candy Melts, for drizzle

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a
medium bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and egg yolks.
3. Mix in flour a little bit at a time until a soft dough forms. If dough is too soft, refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes.
4. Roll dough into 1 inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart onto parchment paper-lined cookie sheets.
5. Press your thumb into the center of the cookie ball to make a well. Fill the hole with 1/2 teaspoon of preserves.
6. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown on the bottom. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.
7. Melt peanut butter candy melts and drizzle over cooled cookies.

Stepford Chili I

Now that I'm on a low carb diet, I am struggling to find foods that are delicious, filling, and low-carb (or only full of good carbs). Walter's favorite food is chili, but I am not a huge fan. But I am learning to like it.

Stepford Chili I

This is not the greatest picture, but let's be honest--we all know what chili looks like.

My last chili recipe, Volcano Chili, was far too spicy for me to consume. It was far too spicy for most normal people to consume. Walter is not a normal person when it comes to spice (or much else). He devoured it, sweat beading on his forehead, but he loved it. This one had to be a lot more mild so I wouldn't die eating it, and I think the green chilis made that possible without the chili being bland.

-1 pound lean ground beef
-1 medium onion, chopped
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1 4-ounce can chopped green chilis
-1 10.5-ounce can chili beans, undrained
-1 10.5-ounce can tomato sauce
-3 Tablespoons chili powder
-2 Tablespoons cumin
-1 Tablespoon Mrs. Dash Southwestern Chipotle Seasoning
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
-1 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce
-1 teaspoon bacon salt
-2 Tablespoons Dean Jacobs Garlic and Tex-Mex Spices (garlic, paprika, cumin, white pepper, onion, oregano, and thyme)
-1 teaspoon paprika

1. Brown ground beef with onions and garlic.
2. Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Cook for 6 to 8 hours on low or 3 to 4 hours on high, stirring occasionally and before serving.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fall Pumpkin Cake

My mother's best friend's birthday was on Tuesday, and she jokingly told her to make her a cake. I decided to take her up on the offer after finding some lovely leaf sprinkles at a party store.

I made a pumpkin cake with cinnamon cream cheese filling and white chocolate fondant.

Pumpkin Cake

I found this cake recipe and the cinnamon cream cheese frosting recipe here at The Milkman's Wife's blog. The recipe was originally for cupcakes, but I made it an 8-inch round three layered cake instead. This cake was wonderfully autumnal and moist and tasted like pumpkin pie. I loved it, and so did the birthday girl.

-1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
-1 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar
-1/3 cup granulated sugar
-2 cups cake flour
-2 teaspoons baking powder
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1 teaspoon ground ginger
-1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
-1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
(I used 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice in the place of these ingredients)
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (I ommitted)
-2 large eggs
-1/2 cup buttermilk mixed with 1 teaspoon vanilla
-1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin
-1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips, tossed in 1 tsp. of flour (keeps them from sinking) (I ommitted)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans and set aside.
2. Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
3. Sift together dry ingredients in another bowl. Set aside.
4. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Alternately add the flour and milk mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour. Add pumpkin and beat until smooth.
5. Pour batter into prepared cake pans and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until pick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

This frosting went with the cake wonderfully. It had just enough spice to compliment the cake well.

-2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
-1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
-2 cups powdered sugar
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Add sugar and cinnamon and beat until desired consistency.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Great American Taste Test--Arby's Apple Turnovers

The Great American Taste Test is a blogging event for the new book, America's Most Wanted Recipes by Ron Douglas.

America's Most Wanted Recipes is a book of copycat recipes for some of the most loved dishes from America's restaurants. Every blogger chose a recipe, took friends to try the real thing, and then recreated the dish using the recipe from America's Most Wanted Recipes in their own kitchen. I chose to make Arby's Apple Turnovers.

Arby's Apple Turnovers

Walter, my friend Roger, and I all went to Arby's and sampled turnovers. I must admit, we were not impressed. The pastry dough was thick, dry, and flaky, but not in the delicious way. There was very little apple filling in our turnovers, and I got a couple of cherries in mine as well. They tasted...okay...but they were not the most delicious turnovers we had ever had by any stretch of the imagination.

And then, I made the ones listed in America's Most Wanted Recipes. THESE turnovers were what Arby's turnovers should have been. They were flaky (in the good way), warm, and delicious. The apple filling was absolutely delicious and the dough was perfect. The recipes in the cookbook were supposed to be copycats...and, I think they did a good job, honestly. If the Arby's turnovers had been given a little more love and had been fresh (I assume ours had been there for a while, judging by how hard and dry the dough was), I think they would have tasted the same. The apple filling tasted the same across the board. The only difference between the copycat recipe and the Arby's one is that the copycat one was better. I think improvement is always a good thing. :)

-4 large apples
-1/2 cup sugar
-1 Tablespoon cornstarch
-1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1 teaspoon lemon juice
-1 17.3-ounce package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Peel, core, and thinly slice apples.
3. Cook the apples with the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and lemon juice over low heat, stirring often. Cook until apples are tender, then remove from heat.
4. Unfold the pastry dough on a floured surface. Roll two sheets into 120inch squares, and then cut each sheet into four 6-inch squares.
5. Place 1/4 cup of the apple mixutre in the center of each square. Brush edges with water, then form to fold triangles. Seal edges with fork.
6. Bake on parchment paper lined baking sheets for 25 minutes or until golden. Let cool on a wire rack.
7. In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar and 1 Tablespoon of water. Drizzle over cooled turnovers and allow to set.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am starting to struggle to find new cookies every week for the office. Soon I will have to start doing repeats.

Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies were great. Soft and chewy on the inside, like a brownie, but crisp and delicious on the outside. I also think they'd be great for the holidays if you subbed mint chips for white chocolate chips.

I found this recipe here at Allrecipes and made a couple of changes that were suggested in the reviews.

-1 cup unsalted butter
-1 cup white sugar
-3/4 cup packed brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar)
-2 eggs
-1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
-1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
-2 teaspoons baking soda
-2 cups white chocolate chips
I also added an additional 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition. Mix in vanilla.
3. Sift together the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
4. Gradually add dry ingredients to butter mixture and mix until combined. Fold in white chocolate chips.
5. Drop batter by rounded tablespoon onto parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until tops begin to crack. Cookies will still be very soft but will firm up after 3 to 5 minutes. Once firm, move to wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Stepford Sweets--Black and White Wedding Cake

This was the second cake I did for Stepford Sweets, and I am pretty pleased with how it turned out. It got a little warm on the way and melted a small bit, but it's still pretty nice, and the clients were very pleased with it.

It was white cake with vanilla cream filling and white chocolate fondant. It tasted amazing!

White Chocolate Fondant

This recipe was found here at A Year in the Kitchen. It is a little more difficult to make than marshmallow fondant, but I think it tastes even better, and it was actually more manageable for me. I think it is my preferred fondant recipe.

-1 pound white chocolate
-3/4 cup corn syrup
-4 pounds powdered sugar
-8 Tablespoons hot water
-1 cup glucose
-2 teaspoons vanilla
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-4 Tablespoons shortening

1. Melt the white chocoalte chips in the microwave or over a double boiler, stir in the corn syrup, set aside until cool.
2. Put powdered sugar in a large bowl and make a well in the middle.
3. Mix water, glucose, vanilla, salt, and shortening together in a saucepan. Heat until shortening is almost melted.
4. Pour into the well of powdered sugar and mix with a flat spatula until incorporated. Add chocolate mixture and mix well.
5. When mixture is too hard to mix with the spatula, take it out and turn on a powder sugar dusted surface. Knead in the remaining powdered sugar.
6. Wrap very tightly in plastic wrap, then place in a ziplock bag. It will get somewhat hard, but kneading it will loosen it up. Use within a month. (Do not refrigerate)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Chocolate Vanilla Spirals

Last week, Walter was in Chicago on business. His office missed my baking, so I am back again!

Chocolate Vanilla Spirals

These are called "Icebox Spirals and Bull's-Eyes" in Martha Stewart's Cookies cookbook (which is where I found the recipe, of course). They are delicious. The chocolate is very subtle but definitely there, and they're so fun to make! The recipe also made Bull's-Eyes (vanilla with a chocolate center), but I thought the spirals looked better, so I made all spirals instead.

-1 1/2 cups butter at room temperature
-1 3/4 cup sugar
-2 eggs plus 1 large egg white, lightly beaten (white separate from whole eggs)
-1 teaspoon salt
-2/3 cup whole milk
-1 Tablespoon vanilla
-5 cups all-purpose flour
-1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add whole eggs and salt and mix until combined. Add milk and vanilla.
3. Add flour slowly and mix until a firm dough forms.
4. Separate dough into two equal parts. Add cocoa powder to one part and mix until combined.
5. Roll out doughs. To form bull's-eyes: Roll 1/4 of the chocolate dough to a 12-inch rod about 3/4 inch thick. Refrigerate until firm. Roll half of vanilla dough to a 12 by 4 inch rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Brush with egg white and place chocolate rod along length of vanilla dough. Roll dough with your hands and enclose chocolate rod. Trim excess. Refrigerate until firm (I froze mine).
6. To form spirals: Roll out remaining chocolate and vanilla doughs on lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thick. Cut into two 9 by six inch rectangles. Brush egg white onto top of each rectangle. Place vanilla dough on top of chocolate dough. Starting on one long side, roll up dough. Gently press and pinch edges to seal. Refrigerate (or freeze) until firm.
7. Cut cookies from logs into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Space 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until firm, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Strawberry Walnut Streusel Cookies

I must say, sending sweets every week has made me quite popular with Walter's co-workers.

Strawberry Walnut Streusel Cookies

These cookies came from the Reader's Digest 1,001 Cookie Recipes cookbook. I altered the recipe a bit because I found that it didn't quite suit me normally. I had to add about 1/4 cup more flour to the dough to make it stiff enough to roll, and the streusel topping was a bit bland, so I added more cinnamon and some sugar. After my changes, these cookies were quite good.

For the streusel:
-2/3 cup all-purpose flour
-1 Tablespoon finely ground almonds (I used walnuts, hence the name)
-1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1/3 cup butter, cut up
I also used 1 Tablespoon sugar and an additional 1 Tablespoon cinnamon

For the cookies:
-1 cup all-purpose flour (I used 1 1/4 cup)
-1/8 teaspoon salt
-2/3 cup butter, cut up
-2/3 cup ricotta cheese
-1 Tablespoon vanilla sugar (For this, I just used 1 teaspoon vanilla with 1 Tablespoon sugar)
-1/3 cup strawberry preserves

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Prepare streusel: Combine flour, walnuts, cinnamon, and sugar in a small bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.
3. For the cookies, sift flour and salt into a medium bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
4. Stir in ricotta, vanilla, and sugar to form a stiff dough. Form dough into disc and chill for thiry minutes.
5. Roll dough to thickness of 1/4 inch and cut into 2 1/2 inch shapes. Place on cookie sheet 1 inch apart.
6. Heat strawberry preserves over low heat until thin. Spread over each cookie. Top with streusel.
7. Bake cookies for 15 to 20 minutes or until the tops are golden and the edges are beginning to brown. Cool on wire racks. Sprinkle with more cinnamon and sugar if desired.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mexican Pasta Bake

More casseroles!

Mexican Pasta Bake

This casserole, that I found here at, was fantastic. I made a few changes. For example, the pasta I used was a gem I found at Hy-Vee:

I also used ground beef instead of chicken and added crumbled Doritos, among other things. It was FANTASTIC. Walter loved it, and it will definitely be made again. Still not beautiful, but prettier than the last and still delicious. I will post the recipe as I made it, not as it was originally done.

-1 3/4 cups chili pepper linguine
-1 26-ounce jar medium chunky salsa
-1 10.5-ounce can of refried beans
-1/3 cup sliced green onions
-2 1.25-ounce packages Taco Seasoning Mix
-1 cup sour cream
-1.5 pounds ground beef
-1 cup nacho cheese Doritos, broken into crumbs
-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease 2-quart baking dish.
2. Brown ground beef and cook pasta.
3. Combine taco seasoning, salsa, refried beans, and green onions in medium bowl.
4. Spread 1 cup salsa mixture on bottom of prepared baking dish. Top with pasta.
5. Spread sour cream over pasta. Top with Doritos.
6. Combine remaining tomato mixture and ground beef and spoon over Doritos. Top with cheese.
7. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Potato Pizza Casserole

Look, look! An entry that's about cooking rather than baking!

Walter likes to take his lunch to work, so I have been working on trying different recipes that will reheat well. This is my first casserole, but it probably won't be my last (especially now that I am no longer lactose intolerant).

Last week, Hy-Vee had a sale on mozzarella--buy one 8-ounce ball, get one free. I couldn't pass that up.

Potato Pizza Casserole

I found this recipe here at AllRecipes. It was not a pretty dish, but it tasted fine. It was a little bland, but it will definitely be made again.

-1 pound ground beef
-1 small onion, chopped
-salt and pepper to taste
-1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
-5 cups peeled and thinly sliced potatoes (I used 1 26-ounce bag of shredded hash browns)
-1 3-ounce package chopped pepperoni (I used 1 5-ounce bag of Hormel mini pepperonis)
-1 10.75-ounce can condensed tomato soup
-1 10.75-ounce can condensed Cheddar cheese soup
-1/2 cup milk
-1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
-1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
-1/2 teaspoon brown sugar (I ommitted)
-8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (I used 16 ounces crumbled)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
2. Brown ground beef with onions. Drain grease. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
3. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the tomato soup, Cheddar cheese soup, and milk. Season with oregano, Italian seasoning, and brown sugar. Mix well, and cook until heated through.
4. Spread the sliced potatoes (or hash browns) in a layer on the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Spread the ground beef and onion over the potatoes. Place slices of pepperoni over the ground beef. Pour sauce over other ingredients. (I mixed ingredients together after this until the sauce was combined over everything. If using sliced potatoes, this would not work as well).
5. Cover the dish with aluminum foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil, sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the top, and bake for an additional 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Banana Walnut Chocolate-Chunk Cookies

I bought some walnuts recently, and I don't remember why, so I am using them for things until I remember.

Banana Walnut Chocolate-Chunk Cookies

This recipe was in Martha Stewart's Cookies cookbook, which I am loving so far. The cookies were perfect--moist, not too banana-y, not too chocolatey. I loved them and ate four before they got sent to Walter's office.

-1 cup all-purpose flour
-1/2 cup whole wheat flour (I used all-purpose flour for both measurements)
-1 teaspoon coarse salt
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-3/4 cup butter, room temperature
-1/2 cup sugar
-1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
-1 egg
-1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 banana)
-1 cup rolled oats
-8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chunks
-1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Whisk together flour(s), salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
4. Add egg and vanilla to butter mixture and mix until combined. Add banana.
5. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture and mix just until combined. Stir in oats, chocolate chunks, and walnuts.
6. Using a 1 1/2-inch cookie scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets about two inches apart. Bake for 12 to 13 minutes or until golden brown and just set. Cool on wire racks.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Lemon Dinosaur Cookies

Tomorrow is Walter's birthday. We have guests from out of town staying with us until tomorrow evening, so I did not have time to make the cake I had planned on. However, our guests went into the city for some sight-seeing today, so I whipped up some cookies.

Lemon Dinosaur Cookies

These cookies are Walter's favorites. I used this recipe and substituted lemon extract for the vanilla extract.

Wilton's Fluffy Boiled Icing

It occurred to me while baking the cookies that I had no powdered sugar, so I whipped up this icing instead. It was a little gritty, but for a sugar cookie icing, that is not really an issue. Instead of the 1/2 cup water, I used lemon juice to give it that fantastic lemon flavor.

-3 tablespoons Meringue Powder
-1/2 cup cold water
-2 cups granulated sugar
-1/4 cup light corn syrup
-1/2 cup water (I used lemon juice instead)


1. Beat meringue powder and 1/2 cup cold water until stiff, about 4 minutes.
2. Mix sugar, corn syrup and water (or lemon juice) in saucepan. Bring to boil and cool slightly.
3. Slowly add corn syrup mixture to meringue, beating until stiff and glossy.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Funfetti Picnic Table Cake

My family has a lot of July birthdays, so we have a joint party every year. I saw a cake similar to this one in Wilton's Celebrate with Fondant book, and I HAD to try it.

Funfetti Cake

For this cake I used this recipe for white cake and made the following changes:

Ommitted almond extract
Added 1 4-ounce box of French vanilla instant pudding
Added 1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles

I used Wilton's Classic Buttercream (also in the link above) for the filling and marshmallow fondant and white modeling chocolate for the details.

Close up of the cake, burgers, hot dogs, and catsup and mustard dispensers. All made from fondant and white modeling chocolate.

Close up of watermelon.

Close up of ants on the picnic table. When I was cutting the cake I thought they were real bugs!