Wednesday, June 30, 2010

An excuse to celebrate...

A dear friend switched apartments in NYC and had us all over for a housewarming. The evite said there would be cake, to which I interpretted that I should bake her a cake.

I used graham crackers and royal icing to make the house perched on top of the cake. Surprisingly easier than expected. The cake consisted of yellow cake with Martha Stewart's chocolate icing. This IS my new favorite icing recipe (see below). It was a Dark Chocolate frosting, and tasted like a chocolate candy bar on cake. Thanks Martha. Delish!

I then garnished with a white chocolate fence (which could have been easier if i'd just piped on the fence, but my initial idea was to have it stand out from the bottom of the cake, but it didn't materialize), a chocolate chip driveway and some green icing shrubs. To make the fence I outlined it in pencil on wax paper, flipped it over and used a new kids paintbrush dipped in melted white chocolate to paint within my outlines. I rested it on the cake mold (to get the right bend of the cake) in the fridge for a couple of hours.

My friend was thrilled and it tasted great - and well - thats all that counts.

Martha Stewart's Dark Chocolate Frosting
1 pound semi sweet chocolate (I used to chips so I didn't have to chop)
6 tbsp Cocoa Powder
6 tbsp Boiling Water
3 sticks butter
1/2 conf sugar
Pinch of Salt (I used salted butter so I skipped this)

Use a double boiler to melt the chocolate, stir until chocolate is completely melted (about 15 mins). Let chocolate cool to room temperature (take off the stove). Combine Cocoa powder and boiling water.

In electric mixer beat butter, conf sugar, and salt until light and fluffy (3-4 mins). Add melted chocolate, beat on low (1-2 mins). Beat in cocoa mixture. Serve!

Chocolate Chips on Foodista

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer Pies

I love fresh summer pies. I come from right near the Blueberry capital of the world, Hammonton, NJ. This year, my mom and I went and bought 20 pounds of blueberries. It will get us about 5 pies each. As a family we sorted through all 20 pounds of them and picked off stems and weeded out bad blueberries and put 4 cups each in a bag. We then place them in the freezer for instant gratification when the urge for a pie comes along. If you're going to do this - do not wash the blueberries before putting them in the freezer, wait until you take them out to thaw.

Fresh pies are well....easy as pie. Sometimes I make my own pie crust (I have an amazing recipe too) and sometimes I buy it. So kill me, I'm lazy.

Fresh Summer Blueberry Pie -
1 Box Pillsbury Pie Dough or Homemade Pie Crust
4 cups blueberries
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup tapioca
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tbsp butter

Combine blueberries, tapioca, lemon juice and cinnamon in a bowl, let stand for 10 minutes. Line pie dish with one pie crust. Add blueberry mixture. Dot butter on top of blueberry mixture. Top with remaining crust, crimp edges and cut vents. I recommend covering the crust edges with foil for all but 5 minutes of baking time to prevent burning. Bake on 450' for 45-50 minutes. Enjoy!

Tip - Place the pie on a cookie sheet in case your filling over flows.
Pic of Portobello staring down the pie and licking his chops. Crazy pup, pie is for people!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mt. Icing

I went to a local diner with my parents last Friday (See my yelp review here). I had already eaten dinner but figured I could grab dessert while they ate. I surveyed the dessert counters and settled on Mt. Icing.

1.) Because I love red velvet for the cream cheese icing (who doesn’t)
2.)Who could resist a cupcake the size of my head piled with enough icing to cover Mt. Rushmore?

Ultimately it took me three sittings to finish this cupcake. Some at the diner, dessert after dinner the next night and lunch the day after that. Believe it or not, it was best on the third day. It stayed moist and the candied walnuts were quite tasty. I had at least a 1/3 of the icing mountain left over too.

My only complaint? The cream cheese icing was made with way too much butter. Good cream cheese icing doesn’t need much butter. Therefore I’m going to skip sharing the Mastoris recipe and give you my favorite straight from the Philadelphia box:

1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pkg. (16 oz.) powdered sugar (about 4 cups), sifted
BEAT cream cheese, butter and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended.
ADD sugar gradually, beating until well blended after each addition.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Happy Healthy 30th!

This has to be one of my most ambitous cakes. My friend in Boise turned 30 last Thursday. All she asked for was to be rich and skinny. I wanted to make her a cake for her surprise party but needed to keep it healthy and had to get it from NJ to Boise. I found this cake as an inspiration online:

I'm pretty sure the baker in this photo used white chocolate around the edges. I used a similar technique with one and 1/2 cans of Pepperidge Farm Pirouette cookies cut in various lengths. I baked up some angel food cakes (4 in total), wrapped them in a ton of saran wrap, and packed them in my carry on. I had my friends boyfriend pick up 2 cans of Pirouette's, lots of fresh berries and cool whip. My grand idea was to icing the cake with cool whip and have it all stick together perfectly. Luckily I also had the foresight to pick up some whipped icing in case my grand plan went hay wire. Normally I would make my own icing - but I was getting off a 9 hour flight and had only a couple of hours until the big party and a million things to do.

I can tell you that cool whip does not work well on a defined cake, especially when your friends freezer is completely full of lean cusines. It starts slipping everywhere and needs to be in the freezer ASAP. I ended up using it on the bottom to ensure healthyness, but quickly threw the regular icing on the top half, hence why it looks sooo much better.

Either way my friend loved her cake, the whole thing was devoured and that makes me happy too! Here's my throw together traveling 30th birthday double decker recipe:

2 boxes Angel Food cake prepared in 4 cake pans (2 larger, 2 smaller)
2 cans of Pirouette cookies
Various fresh berries
4 containers of whipped vanilla icing or coolwhip (if you dare) - (I will find a homemade healthy whipped icing, but i'm going to need to experiment and update)
Fun Candles and ribbon for the finishing touch

Icing cakes and place cookies around the outside. Top with berries and candles and then tie the ribbon around the outside of the cake, if using cool whip stick cake in the freezer - perfectly level immeadiately to stabilize the cake and cookies. Otherwise the cookies will slide all over and you'll be playing Mr. Fix it with frozen icing. Keep cool whipped cake in the freezer for at least two hours.

Place the smaller cake on the larger cake and serve! Watch your guest smile.

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