Royal Wedding Scones

My friend Kate had a great idea, as I am sure many girls in love with Prince William had, to host a Royal Wedding Party.  Now, I am not one of those girls who follows gossip too closely, but when the royal wedding came around I was all over it.  I mean, who wouldn’t be?  The heart throb prince was marrying a beautiful commoner, every girls dream!  So, for the party, she had a group of girls over, all dressed up in their best royal outfits, fit with crowns and and sapphire ring replicas, with a blue hawaiian punch.  Fantastic!

So, what better treat to bring to a royal gala than scones!  I found the perfect recipe on Annie’s Eats for blueberry lemon scones.  To, die, for.  I have heard mixed reviews about people thinking scones are difficult or they are the easiest delicacy to make.  I tend to lean towards the easy side, BUT I have to try and remind myself that the pats of butter in the dough mixture WILL melt during the baking process.  Side note of why I have to remind myself: if you do not use a lipped pan the butter will melt and spill over into your oven, and possibly set off the fire alarms.  I will learn…eventually.

I like blueberries in muffins, or pancakes, or these scones.  They give it a nice texture, and bring out the lemon flavor in a great burst of freshness.  Definitely a nice springtime treat to enjoy at brunch, or the next royal wedding ;P

Carrot Cake

April is a VERY busy month for birthdays.  Brendan starts it off on the 16th, his brother is on the 17th, and then my Dad is the 18th.  After making the cookies and cream cake I was shot, but knew I had to get back on the horse and make a cake for my Dad; his request, carrot cake.  Traditional carrot cakes require nuts and raisins.  I eliminated those, probably to my father’s dismay, but if he wanted me to have a piece of birthday cake, I would have to make some adjustments, as would he :)

My border collie/black lab, Lexi, decided to help me with this cake, and ate my stub carrots after I could no longer grate them without grating my fingers as well.  Here she is enjoying her healthy treat!

I thought I would go out on a branch and attempt to make some cute little carrot marzipan pieces for the cake to add some decoration.  That didn’t happen.  The marzipan I bought from the baking aisle at Stop & Shop was rock hard.  Such a waste.  Needless to say, next time I attempt to use marzipan and make cute little shapes, I will try to make it from scratch, or use something different all together.

Here is the cake, plain jane but delicious all the same!

Cookies and Cream Cake

As you all very well know from my oreo cheesecake post, I love Oreos.  Can’t get enough of them.  I decided I was going to branch out for Brendan’s 25th birthday cause I was having a party with a bunch of our friends and family for him turning a quarter century, so I chose to do a Cookies and Cream CAKE from Annie’s Eats!  I am by no means a cake decorator.  I love my piping bag because it makes everything look pretty.  This cake, drove that point home that I have only mastered the piping bag, and not the spatula.  But, nonetheless, the cake was delicious!  (even if it had a crack down the middle of one of the layers)

The cake is a Hershey’s perfect chocolate cake.  I think the name says it all.  The filling, was the cookies and cream.  A creamy layer, with crushed Oreos.  To die for!  Then the cookies and cream was spread across the top of the cake.  Chocolate frosting smeared around the cake and (sparsely) decorated.  I believe my frosting was a little too liquidy because the piping I tried to do around the edges wouldn’t hold.  Needless to say, I smoothed them over with my spatula and kept going.  Then a few decorations of halved Oreos on the top with some drizzled Hershey’s syrup and we were good to go!

Brendan loved it and I was truly proud of my former non-cake decorating skills being able to pull this off and present it to our friends and family to celebrate the quarter century milestone :)

Pink Grapefruit Yogurt Cupcakes

One of my favorite things about winter is the abundance of fresh citrus fruits.  I am a sucker for grapefruit, even though I have an allergic reaction if I eat too many.  Such is life; hives won’t keep me away from this delectable fruit!  To celebrate the ripe delicacy, I figured there had to be a recipe out there on the Internet that would put this fruit to the forefront and let it do all the talking.  I found just that recipe on Ryan’s Baking Blog.  The grapefruit has a very nice tangy taste in these cupcakes, and the yogurt makes the cupcake nice and moist but does not overpower the citrus.  My favorite part of the cupcake was making the grapefruit sugar.  I think I may have to keep a jar of this on my counters throughout the year it was that good!  The grapefruit cream cheese frosting added a nice layer of tang but the cream cheese cut through so that the bitter fruit taste was not overpowering.  I think this recipe can be adapted to any of your favorite citrus friends: tangerines, oranges, clementines, you name it!  Truly a great dessert to brighten up your mood during those gloomy winter months and bring you to your happy place.
My happy little army of grapefruit cupcakes:

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

So since I have already received an order for Irish Car Bomb cupcakes for this years St. Patrick’s Day, I figured I should probably write my post from last year.  Don’t worry, none of my sense memories have failed me about making/consuming this delectable treat.  A chocolate Guinness cupcake (even if you aren’t a beer fan, you will be a fan of these moist little treats), chocolate Jameson ganache (to die for!), and a Bailey’s liquor buttercream.  It just doesn’t get any better than this.  First of all, St. Patrick’s Day is my second favorite holiday (first is 4th of July, purely for the fact that it is near my birthday and there are fireworks).  I mean, why not have my 2 favorite holidays be the (essentially) national holidays of my upbringing?  Anyways, St. Patrick’s Day to me is all about the Guinness and enjoying each other’s company while celebrating.  The Irish know how to party hard, and although you cannot order an Irish Car Bomb drink in Ireland (for obvious reasons) it is a widely known and enjoyed drink here in the States.  Putting this combination together in a cupcake, well it is simply divine.  2 years ago I made these cupcakes without the Jameson ganache, and I have to say I do not think I will ever repeat that “mistake.”  The ganache holds the moisture into the cupcake, and it is topped with a generous helping of Bailey’s frosting.  Beware: These cupcakes aren’t for the faint-hearted, but it is worthy of a taste test any day.  So much so, that we are having these as an choice option for guests at our wedding :)

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hands down, my favorite cookies that Stew Leonard’s used to sell in Norwalk, CT were the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.  Every time that I now frequent the store, I write a suggesting in the suggestion box to bring these cookies back.  Don’t get me wrong, the sugar cookies and chocolate chip cookies are divine, but they can’t hold a candle to my fond food memories of the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

To say the least, I decided I was going to change out the raisins in the typical oatmeal cookies and replace them with chocolate chips to try and replicate my childhood obsession with Stew Leonard’s cookies.  I took the traditional Nestle chocolate chip cookie recipe, but I cut the butter amount in half, and replaced it with Crisco instead.  This is a secret I learned from my future in-laws to make the cookies keep their shape rather than “melting” and forming a flat cookie.  I then add the oatmeal to the cookie mix, use an ice cream scoop to make a mound of a cookie, and bake away.  Eating 2 of these is certainly a feat, but oh so worth it!  I will continue to write my suggestions at Stew Leonard’s, but until then, I think I have found a pretty good replacement.

Tiffany’s Cupcakes Trial Run

My friend Kate had “contracted” me for my first official gig, to do a Tiffany themed bridal shower that she was helping host.  I was thrilled and honored to start using my passion as a platform, but panicked all the same!  I had never made 50+ cupcakes for 1 event, nor did I have anything to display them on!

Luckily, my dad is a master carpenter (when he puts his mind to it :) ) and was able to build my dream cupcake stand.  It holds about 75+ cupcakes and we would be able to add additional shelving, or take shelves away for smaller gatherings.  He would be great on Cupcake Wars building the displays for the 2 bakers competing for the grand prize, and would totally fit by wearing the flannel shirt sporting a beard!

Here is the stand in all of it’s glory.  It now sits proudly on my guest room dresser awaiting its next debut.

So, to start this daunting task I decided I needed to do a trial run in order to make sure that I could make the cupcakes all in one night, decorating the next day, and being able to have enough time to pack them up and deliver them in time for the shower.  So, one Friday night, I set off to make 60 cupcakes, half were Bailey’s cupcakes, half were chocolate cupcakes.  The cupcakes were so simple.  I could make cupcakes in my sleep sometimes.  No problems there.  Then it was on to the frosting.

This is my arsenal of decorating tricks and tools to make these look Tiffany-esque.

So a Tiffany’s cupcake meant that I was to dye the vanilla buttercreams to a Tiffany blue color.  I spent a lot of time researching online to see what dyes would work best, in what amounts, etc.  I came upon a blog that highly recommended the Wilton frosting gel dyes and in the specific amounts.  So I set off to moderating the drops of gel into the frosting, matching it to the Tiffany’s box.  This was a long process, as I didn’t quite follow the online blog to a T, but I tested and kept going back and forth between the box and was very happy with the result when it finally came together.

Here is what I got for frosting.  Pretty darn good!

The next task was distributing the 60 cupcakes to family and friends, but I don’t think they complained about the freebies from my test run ;P  I was ready to take on my first official gig as a baker!

And the freebies that my family and friends loved me for-pre frosting!

Rootbeer Float Cupcakes

I am going to start this blog post off with, I was not thrilled at the way these cupcakes looked, but the taste was pretty good.  I am not a fan of soda, but when I do indulge, I like rootbeer to quench my thirst.  My fiance and I were going up to Stratton Mountain in Vermont to watch the US Open snowboarding competition with Brendan’s brother and his girlfriend.  I decided since they were being so kind as to let us stay with them, I would bring them a treat.  That is when I found the recipe for rootbeer float cupcakes on The Cupcake Project!  (Please note: this was also because I needed to use up some of the BJ’s sized case of rootbeer that Brendan compulsively bought-so I was on a mission to find a cupcake with rootbeer in it!)  I used the cupcake base recipe from The Cupcake Project, and the vanilla bean buttercream from Brown Eyed Baker.

I wish I had cooked these cupcakes longer, as I don’t think they would have fallen apart as easily, yet would still have retained the moisture.  I have yet to try another cupcake with a soda base, but I hopefully will soon because there are so many yummy recipes out there!

I made some friends with these cupcakes, and left some for our lovely hosts.  Though I am not a frosting fan, this was possibly my favorite part because of the flecks of vanilla bean in the frosting. :)

Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes a la Martha Stewart

Oreos are arguably the best cookie ever made.  I have a predisposed adoration for these chocolate and vanilla cream confections due to the fact that my grandfather worked at Nabisco.  Let’s just say as kids, my sister and I played the Memory game, with a Nabisco version that was the cookies as the playing cards, and the whole game board smelled like Oreos.  I have yet to be able to shake this infatuation with Oreos.

At my last job, I was known as the baker in the 13 person office, so when it came time that I received a promotion, the running joke was that the promotion was not official until I brought in a baked good to celebrate, so that is exactly what I did!  Now, I don’t know anyone who could deny themselves of an Oreo, ever! so I decided to make the Martha Stewart Oreo cheesecake cupcakes from the Martha Stewart Cupcake book (a should be staple for the home baker). They were a huge hit!  Even the people who didn’t like cheesecake, liked these cupcakes.  A full Oreo at the bottom of the wrapper, with crushed Oreos in the cheesecake batter.  What could be better?! The cheesecake is a good glass of milk substitute :)

Valentine’s Day Cupcakes

What is better together than strawberries and chocolate? Strawberry and chocolate mousse cupcakes, on Valentine’s Day, that’s what!

So I am not a big fan of Valentine’s Day.  It is a Hallmark holiday and I refuse to celebrate it.  This year I decided, as I was celebrating home alone because my fiance was working, to make cupcakes.  A familiar and popular treat on Valentine’s day, chocolate covered strawberries, so I combined that into a cupcake!  I had seen a recipe for strawberry flavored cupcakes, flavored with strawberry jello.  Then, to add in the Ghiradelli chocolate mousse, I used my handy dandy cupcake corer (best invention ever!) and put the chocolate mousse into a bag to squirt into the opening.

Here is what the cupcakes looked like with the cores taken out before putting in the chocolate mousse:
For the frosting, I used a vanilla buttercream to decorate with hearts and xo’s, and to add another flavor level.  As I stated before, I do not like Valentine’s day, but this past year, I became a fan of Valentine’s Day cupcakes!  I cannot wait to plan my next Valentine’s cupcake in only a few months! (Yes I know, I am way behind on my posts).
Here is what they looked like!