Baking Books

So I was reading up last year (or 2 years ago at this point…) and found a book called Confections of a Closet Master Baker by Sandra Bullock’s sister, Gesine Bullock-Prado.  To say that this book mirrors my lifelong goal is no stretch of the imagination.  She was working as a Hollywood Executive and dreamt of baking, all day every day.  What concoctions could she come up with?  What new recipes could she find?  Epitome of my days most days (to say that I was writing this on a lunch break from my 8-5 is not a stretch…).  I dream about recipes or what I will be making for dinner.  Pinterest is my best/worst frenemy.  I could spend hours on there, as well as in the kitchen, and never get through all of the delicious baked items I continuously pile on to my Food + Drink Board…

I digress.  Gesine’s book made me realize you can make your dreams come true and start a bakery to enjoy what you are doing.  Someday…

I also read It’s Raining Cupcakes for the Rhode Island Cupcake Madness.  This was a cute children’s story about a girl helping her mom realize her pipe dream of making cupcakes and each individual flavor.  I read the book in one sitting and got some great ideas for flavors for the competition.  The strawberry lemonade chapter may have inspired the 2nd place winner, Limoncello cupcakes :)

Pumpkin Spiced Latte Cupcakes

Fall. Not particularly my favorite season of the year because it leads into the dark and cold winter, but I do love ALL fall treats. Pumpkin anything. Candy corn. Apple crisps. You name it. My all time weakness in the crisp afternoons for a pick me up…pumpkin spice lattes. Fall flavors at their peak and so refreshing.

We were having a work bridal shower and the bride to be shares my love for pumpkin spiced lattes. I found this recipe on my favorite cupcake blog and just had to make them. Pumpkin Spiced Latte cupcakes. Whipped cream frosting and all the accoutrements. Can’t be beat! I believe I will be making here every fall as a treat. Less calories than the famous Starbucks drink and way more filling. I have to say, the whipped cream frosting sprinkled with cinnamon made this whole cupcake very decadent. My next hope that Javacupcake produces from the fall treats at Starbucks…the Salted Caramel Mocha!  Maybe I can take a stab at this one too :)

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Homemade Funfetti

Funfetti. Always a crowd pleaser. Vanilla cake with fun sprinkles inside. And the piece de resistance…Rainbow. Chip. Icing. Definitively the best part of the funfetti experience. It was my coworkers birthday and his favorite cake is funfetti. I decided that I would find a from scratch recipe in order to avoid the box and try to prove myself that I could do it. I found a recipe. Hate to say it butthe recipe was essentially a vanilla cake with sprinkles scattered in the batter.

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Yes, still delicious, but I thought there would be more pizzazz to it to make it that fun treat we all loved as kids. For my first time, I didn’t figure out how to make the rainbow chip frosting from scratch so I caved and bought the can of it – withOUT the rainbow chips.  I wanted these to be to a T so I fell for the “Funfetti” frosting.  Fail.  I should have stuck with my gut.  Funfetti frosting is vanilla frosting with sprinkles to throw about. For my next attempt since it’s such a huge hit, I found the actual recipe to make rainbow chip frosting. The secret…the chips are colored white chocolate! I am very excited to try this on my next turn to break the box conundrum of funfetti.

 

Pull and Peel Cinnamon Bread

Pinterest.  You all know it and have a love/hate relationship for the amount of time that you spend on there.  One of my first finds on Pinterest was a cinnamon pull and peel loaf.  As you can tell by my first blog, and a few others, that I do love my cinnamon rolls and cinnamon cupcakes, so a cinnamon pull and peel loaf was right up my alley.  I wish I had executed this in better fashion, but the end result was still delicious.  I didn’t heed the directions very well because I cut the loaf too much leaving the bread tearing and the deliciousness oozing out.

My poor torn loaf:

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Not to say oozing deliciousness isn’t normally good…but this one would have been better if it had stayed in the confines of the bread. We had to mop up a lot of the ooey goodness. I have also seen this done with savory bread ingredients that I want to try on a football Sunday – let’s preface this by the only reason I partake in football Sundays is to test out new recipes and indulge. No diet rules on the weekends :)

The finished product:

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Pink Lemonade Cupcakes

So my husband likes to brag to his friends that he gets baked goods frequently. It is status quo that when I make anything baked that I am expected to leave at least 3 of whatever was made for his consumption alone. Needless to say his softball friends caught wind of this baking expedition I take myself on and wanted to taste the cupcakes I make as well.  I decided, for a summer softball rec league I was going to go with a classic summer flavor – pink lemonade.  Refreshing after running around at a game in the dead heat and so easy to make.  This recipe called for Crystal light packets for the batter and frosting with a little bit of fresh lemon juice.  These cupcakes were so festively pink and decorated with pink sprinkles and a lemon wedge thrown in here or there :)  I brought the leftovers in to work and got this reaction from a co-worker “I bit into it not expecting anything and I thought, sonuvabitch! that’s pink lemonade!” Job. Well. Done.

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Toasted Coconut Scones

Hurricanes in the Northeast are fairly uncommon.  I take that back, they WERE fairly uncommon until the past 2 years where the Connecticut coast got walloped.  In 2011 we were still living inland in Fairfield county, but for my sister’s birthday we were down on the Norwalk to ride out Hurricane Irene.  My parents live right on the coast and storms have always been a big part of living on the water so we went to see what this one would be all about.  To pass the time, obviously I decided to bake.  My parents had gone on a trip through Vermont and ended up at the King Arthur Flour store, aka my Mecca.  They brought me back a boxed (I know what you are thinking! easy way out, blah blah blah) mix to make toasted coconut scones.  To. Die. For. You add some butter and a few other ingredients, bake, and PRESTO! You’ve got scones!  A little coconut glaze and you are in business.  King Arthur really does a great job on their boxed mixes and I have now noticed they sell a few here in Connecticut grocery stores.  I highly recommend :)

 

Don’t these just look so enticing??

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Philadelphia Cheesecake for Paige’s Birthday

My sister absolutely LOVES cheesecake.  If it is on a dessert menu, more than likely she will save room eating dinner just to have a little slice of cheesy heaven.  It was natural when I asked her what she wanted to have for dessert for her birthday, and cheesecake one.  I wanted to make a traditional NY style cheesecake without any accoutrements.  I took the Philadelphia Cream Cheese recipe off of the box and followed it to a T.  What I failed to follow though was the cooling to room temperature BEFORE putting it in the fridge.  I rushed the process trying to cool the cheesecake down for us to eat.  Needless to say, I  had to come up with a plan B to cover my cracks.  My defaults are always strawberries and chocolate.  A little Hershey’s chocolate sauce and some cut up strawberries and we were in business!

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Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

To put this mildly, I am obsessed with Starbucks banana chocolate chip bread.  Ever since I had it and becoming aware that it is on their lower cal menu, I have loved it.  Every time I make banana bread now, I refuse to put in nuts and put the chocolate chips in instead.  Huge crowd pleaser in my household because neither my husband nor I are huge fans of nuts in our baked goods.  Chocolate as a substitute for texture, sign me up!

When I saw this recipe on JavaCupcake, I knew this was my next endeavor.  My guinea pigs as I kindly put it (my coworkers) were the first ones to try out this new recipe I found.  It was a huge hit!  I think I got everyone on board for the chocolate chips replacing nuts in banana bread, AND the espresso powder was a nice touch in the recipe to give it a little zip.

 

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

My dear friend at work, Colleen, was plagued for a week with kidney stones.  We missed her dearly at work and I wanted to make her a welcome back treat!  She had always mentioned how she loved cookie dough anything, so off I went on my search to find a cookie dough cupcake.  I found one at JavaCupcake and just made it a vanilla base rather than chocolate.  There was a cookie dough filling AND a cookie dough frosting!  Double the cooki-ness!!  How could one go wrong?!

I am one who loves a cupcake with a different middle to change up the texture.  Finding cookie dough in the center of this one, pure genius!  The frosting also had a nice brown sugar flavor with chocolate chips sprinkled on top.  I think next time I will try it with the chocolate cake, but I thought it would be chocolate overload and wanted a nice balance before going overboard.

 

Look at these beauties!

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Shirley Temple Cupcakes

During my sister-in-laws second pregnancy her drink of choice was Shirley temples. Sweet, cherry, good summer flavor. Such a refreshing drink so it would make a perfect cupcake. We were going to Maryland to visit our godson and wanted to bring a treat with us.

First of all. I never thought maraschino cherry juice could be used in anything other than keeping those sweet not so typical cherries “fresh.”  I never thought to add them to a batter or drink for that matter but this worked wonders. It gave the batter a nice pink color that represented the drink and that telltale cherry taste you look for in the drink. And no one can say no to Cherry 7up. It’s that soda you don’t drink all the time but thoroughly enjoy when the situation presents itself. I am always a little weary of soda in cupcakes after my less than pleasant looking root beer float cupcakes but I am always willing to try. This attempt definitely paid off!  Refreshing cherry flavor with and airiness unlike any other. And such a fun color!

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