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Archive for the ‘Cupcakes’ Category

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A couple weeks ago I was hired to make cupcakes for a wedding.  The bride was open to what flavors she got, but she did request a batch of gluten free.  I had given her some of the cupcakes as a taste test from Harry’s Birthday party.  She loved the Almond Joy cupcakes and the Lemon Delight.  But wanted something different than the blue suede.

We settled on Lemon Delight which was lemon cake with homemade lemon curd filling and light whipped frosting (I love my Bettercream!).  I garnished them with white sugar crystals, yellow nonpareils and lemon gumdrops cut into wedges.

The next flavor was the Amond Joy I’d made before.  The cake was chocolate almond cake with coconut cream filling and topped with rich vanilla almond buttercream.  I garnished these with coconut shavings and raw almonds.

The next flavor was Raspberry white chocolate.  This was a white cake with raspberry filling and white chocolate mousse on top.  It is a very simple and classic wedding flavor.

Finally was the gluten-free.  I made a a gluten-free chocolate cake and filled it with a rich chocolate buttercream.  I topped it off with caramel mousse and light brown and dark brown sprinkles.  Long gone are the days of gluten-free being synonymous with tastes bad.  These ones were really rich and a huge hit.

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A couple weeks ago I made these awesome hostess copycat cupcakes. They’re chocolate cake with cream filling, chocolate ganache, and cute little loops on top. I used my good ol’ faithful pastry pride for the filling. I made the ganache with Nestle Tollhouse milk chocolate chips and cream. When making the ganache, I recommend finding a chocolate that you really like because that’s what the flavor will come from. Put it all in a sauce pan over low heat and add a little bit of cream. I know, lack of measurements is probably not very helpful, so here’s a rough guess of what I used – 1 cup chocolate chips and 1/4 cup cream. You can use more or less cream, but the whole point is to have the chocolate soft and pliable even when it cools back down.

The key to these cupcakes is the tall paper liners. I found some tall liners at Hobby Lobby, but I’ve also seen them at my local cake and candy supply store. The tall liners keeps the cake from spilling out and allows you to add the ganache once you’ve added the cream filling. Speaking of adding the ganache, I just spooned some onto the cupcakes once they were baked, cooled and filled with cream filling. While the ganache was still warm, I put a little white buttercream frosting into a ziplock bag and cut the corner off and piped the loops right on top. By doing this step before the ganache set, it allowed the cream to sink in a bit and set with the chocolate.

I had been wanting to try these for a while, so when my mom asked me to bring cupcakes for my dad’s birthday dinner, I was happy for an excuse to make them.

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We decided to have a library themed party for Harry’s first birthday.  We chose this theme because we want to promote reading, of course, and because Harry loves his books.  We also go to a weekly library that Harry really enjoys.  I started the party with the invitations.  I had a great idea of how I wanted it to look, so I got it done a couple MONTHS in advance.  But once I had the invitation done, I needed to start planning the actual party and I realized my idea wasn’t quite as broad as I had thought.  But, I was very happy with the way it all came together and I believe both Harry and our guests had a good time.

I mimicked the old libabry check-out cards for the invite.  I bought some old books at a thrift store to create a pocket that the card would slip into.

I mimicked the old libabry check-out cards for the invite. I bought some old books at a thrift store to create a pocket that the card would slip into.

I made this shirt for Harry.  I used some iron on bonding to adhere the ribbon suspenders and the one.  The bow tie I glued on with a hot glue gun.

I made this shirt for Harry. I used some iron on bonding to adhere the ribbon suspenders and the one. The bow tie I glued on with a hot glue gun.

While most of the party was outside, I did put up some decorations inside as well.  I found some cute 4x6 card packs on sale in the scrapbooking section of Hobby Lobby.  I punched holes and threaded them with yarn to make the banner.  Harry liked them.

While most of the party was outside, I did put up some decorations inside as well. I found some cute 4×6 card packs on sale in the scrapbooking section of Hobby Lobby. I punched holes and threaded them with yarn to make the banner. Harry liked them.

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I made banners out of old children's books.

I made banners out of old children’s books.

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We put clusters of balloons nailed into the grass to add color to an area where we couldn't otherwise hang anything.  It looked great.

We put clusters of balloons nailed into the grass to add color to an area where we couldn’t otherwise hang anything. It looked great.

Along the side of the house that has a wooded fence, we put up library sections and posters with books related quotes that I made on my computer then had printed at Staples.  I decided to go with a chalkboard look so that I could print in black and white without losing any of the effect I was going for.

Along the side of the house that has a wooded fence, we put up library sections and posters with books related quotes that I made on my computer then had printed at Staples. I decided to go with a chalkboard look so that I could print in black and white without losing any of the effect I was going for.

We put library section sings all around the yard, wherever we could find a way to make them stick.  This were hung on the balcony that over looks the backyard.

We put library section sings all around the yard, wherever we could find a way to make them stick. This were hung on the balcony that over looks the backyard.

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We hired a taco man for the main food, but wanted to make sure there were baby friendly foods as well.  I do think many of our guest (not just the little ones) enjoyed the option of Peanut Butter and Marshmallow or Cream Cheese and Jelly sandwiches.

We hired a taco man for the main food, but wanted to make sure there were baby friendly foods as well. I do think many of our guest (not just the little ones) enjoyed the option of Peanut Butter and Marshmallow or Cream Cheese and Jelly sandwiches.

I wanted to make sure there was something for the kids to actually do at the party besides just sit around, so I had an arts and crafts station and we gave out books as the party favor.  At the arts and crafts station, they could decorate party hats, decorate a bag to take home their goodies in, mold something out of play dogh and color.

I wanted to make sure there was something for the kids to actually do at the party besides just sit around, so I had an arts and crafts station and we gave out books as the party favor. At the arts and crafts station, they could decorate party hats, decorate a bag to take home their goodies in, mold something out of play dogh and color.

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I local thrift store sells children's books for 25 cents, so I was able to get enough that each child could pick one to take home as a favor.

I local thrift store sells children’s books for 25 cents, so I was able to get enough that each child could pick one to take home as a favor.

I made three types of cupcakes, Almond Joy, Lemon Delight, and Blue Suede.  They were all pretty good, but my favorites were the Blue Suede and Lemon Delight.

I made three types of cupcakes, Almond Joy, Lemon Delight, and Blue Suede. They were all pretty good, but my favorites were the Blue Suede and Lemon Delight.

I bought two packs of the candles that spell out Happy Birthday and swapped out the p's for r's and spray painted them so the candles would spell Harry's name.

I bought two packs of the candles that spell out Happy Birthday and swapped out the p’s for r’s and spray painted them so the candles would spell Harry’s name.

This shot cracks me up!  Harry didn't want to touch his cake at first, but once I finally got him to taste it, he realized he liked it after all.  He wanted to give it a big hug!

This shot cracks me up! Harry didn’t want to touch his cake at first, but once I finally got him to taste it, he realized he liked it after all. He wanted to give it a big hug!

This is Harry with one of his Aunties who he doesn't get to see too often, Paul's sister Kristi.

This is Harry with one of his Aunties who he doesn’t get to see too often, Paul’s sister Kristi.

Harry with Grandpa.

Harry with Grandpa.

This is Harry's cousin Gia.

This is Harry’s cousin Gia.

One of my dearest friends Tiffiny was able to make it!

One of my dearest friends Tiffiny was able to make it!

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Harry enjoyed some time with Grandma Katie before the party got started.

Randi and I met last year in our new mom's group right after our babies were born.  Her little guy, Charlie, is one of Harry's first friends.

Randi and I met last year in our new mom’s group right after our babies were born. Her little guy, Charlie, is one of Harry’s first friends.

Dan is one of Paul's oldest friends.  They went to high school together and Dan one even one of Paul's best men in our wedding.  It was great to see Dan and Sarah as they live pretty far and we don't the opportunity too often.

Dan is one of Paul’s oldest friends. They went to high school together and Dan one even one of Paul’s best men in our wedding. It was great to see Dan and Sarah as they live pretty far and we don’t the opportunity too often.

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This is Grandma Katie with Harry's youngest cousin, Luka, who is only a month old!

This is Grandma Katie with Harry’s youngest cousin, Luka, who is only a month old!

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These are my parents, Dan and Mary. Harry loves his grandma and grandpa!

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This is my Grandpa, so Harry’s Great Grandpa, with one of my younger cousins Tommy. We were so glad they were all able to come.

There was a great turn out for the part!  We were so glad to see everyone and it was fun to gather all the kids for a picture.

There was a great turn out for the part! We were so glad to see everyone and it was fun to gather all the kids for a picture.

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A few years ago, I experienced a maple bacon donut. DH and I were at the LA County fair, and it was the featured food. And it was amazing! First of all, it was as big as your face. The enormity of it alone made it fun, but really it was the crispy warm freshness that made it especially good. It was the perfect balance of fried, sweet, and salty. It is the epitome of fair food.

There's my hot hubby showing off that wonderful donut!  I wasn't exaggerating when I said it's as big as you're face.

There’s my hot hubby showing off that wonderful donut! I wasn’t exaggerating when I said it’s as big as you’re face.

Since then, I have started to see maple bacon desserts in various forms all over the place.  They all look so fun, so a couple years ago, I tried a maple bacon cupcake recipe myself.  But that recipe was too involved and I haven’t done it again since. Recently, however, I happened to have about six pieces of cooked bacon that we didn’t have a specific plan for, so DH suggested I make maple bacon cupcakes again.  I decided to go for it, but instead of following the old complicated recipe I used before, I wanted to keep it simple and experiment.  Here’s what I did.

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Cupcake Ingredients

  • One Box White or Vanilla Cake Mix
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/3 Cup Vanilla or Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Maple Extract
  • 1/2 Cup Real Maple Syrup
  • 6 Pieces of Cooked Bacon

Cupcake Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake pan with paper liners.
  • Mix first five ingredients in a medium mixing bowl until incorporated (careful not to over mix).  Batter will be thick.  Crush up the bacon and add to batter.  Mix briefly.
  • Spoon batter into cupcake pan to be two thirds full.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until tops are dry.  When finished, allow to cool completely before frosting.

*Recipe makes 12 cupcakes

Frosting Ingredients

  • 1/4 Cup Butter, softened
  • 6 0z. Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp. Maple Extract
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 lb Powdered Sugar
  • 1-4 Tbs. Milk, as needed

Frosting Directions

  • In stand mixer, cream together butter and cream cheese until smooth and fully incorporated. Add extracts and salt and continue mixing.
  • With mixer on low speed, gradually add sugar.  Once sugar is added, frosting may be crumbly and pasty.  Continue mixing and add milk one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency it reached.
  • Spoon frosting into a ziplock back and seal.  Cut a corner off the bag, and pipe onto cupcakes as desired.

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I have been meaning to write this post for a couple months now.  I have been putting it off, though, because I have been going back and forth between wanting to simply showcase the party, or offer some how-to’s of some of the details.  Well, right now, I’m going to do a showcase.  I plan to add a few other posts here and there with more details for some of the projects.  But for today, I’m going to keep it simple.

Before I share the party, I want to share the story.  I have known my friend Katie since we were really little girls.  I’m talking, like, 25 years or more!  I don’t even like saying that because it makes me feel old.  But that’s how far back our friendship goes.  She and her husband got married young and have recently celebrated a decade of marriage.  Over those years, they wanted to start a family, and unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned.  But the Lord put it on their hearts to adopt and this last summer, they finish the preparation and were just waiting for the call telling them a baby was waiting.  So, to help them prepare, my husband and I threw them a baby shower.

Nautical themes are pretty popular these days and they can be pretty gender neutral.  Also, it’s not too frilly which we thought was appropriate for the men who were invited.  We wanted to make sure Dad-to-Be and his friends were comfortable.  The party was also close to the Fourth of July, so I was able to find lots of wonderful red, white and blue decorations to incorporate.

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Katie wanted a modern looking invite with clean lines. I wanted to celebrate the fact that they were opening their home and hearts to adoption.

 

We decided to keep the menu simple by barbecuing, but we made a beautiful buffet in the dining room.

We decided to keep the menu simple by barbecuing, but we made a beautiful buffet in the dining room.

 

For the drinks, I kept it simple again, by sticking with lemonade, iced tea, and water.  But I classed it up a bit by putting out some fancy garnishes and flavoring syrups.  The drink station was a hit.

For the drinks, I kept it simple again, by sticking with lemonade, iced tea, and water. But I classed it up a bit by putting out some fancy garnishes and flavoring syrups. The drink station was a hit.

 

For dessert, I wanted variety, so I got out this cupcake tower I built a while back and changed the ribbon to match this party.  I made a gluten free cupcakes, caramel and chocolate dipped marshmallows, and Neapolitan rice crispy treats dipped in white chocolate.  We also made jello-boats and the mother of the dad-to-be brought some gluten free lemon cookies and brownies to add as well.

For dessert, I wanted variety, so I got out this cupcake tower I built a while back and changed the ribbon to match this party. I made a gluten free cupcakes, caramel and chocolate dipped marshmallows, and Neapolitan rice crispy treats dipped in white chocolate. We also made jello-boats and the mother of the dad-to-be brought some gluten free lemon cookies and brownies to add as well.

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I wanted the whole event to be very special, of course, and there were so many things I wanted to include.  That is why I decided to keep the menu simple and elegant (if I’m allowed to use the word elegant to describe hamburgers and hotdogs).  But keeping it simple allowed me to spend more energy on some of the decorations and games.  I will share those in my next post.

 

 

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My husband is brilliant. Not that I didn’t already know this interesting factoid, it’s why I married him after all. But he showed his brilliance once again recently when he was cleaning out the garage.

I had put an old spice-rack in a yard sale pile thinking I had no need for it. It was full of spices I didn’t use and, as much as I liked how cool it looked on my countertop (it made me feel like a better cook than I actually am), I figured I could get a little cash for it since I honestly didn’t use it. But DH saw it when he was cleaning and organizing our junk and thought of a great idea for it.

You see, when we had our house tented for termites this last summer, we had to bag everything. It was a horribly tedious project that happened to highlight how many sprinkles I have acquired over the last few years. I have a couple dozen little cups of sprinkles in all the colors of the rainbow. And when DH was cleaning the garage he saw the old spice-rack and for some reason thought of the sprinkles.

And that’s how my brilliant husband came up with the brilliant idea to use the old spice rack to store my colorful sprinkles beautifully displayed instead of hidden away to be forgotten about. .

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Don’t they look pretty?

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I apologize, I really need to get caught up on sharing some of the projects I’ve done lately.  I have a handful piled up to share, but I’ll start with this delicious batch of cupcakes I made for my Grandpa’s 88th birthday party this week.  (Sadly, he wasn’t well and missed his own party!)

These cupcakes are a basic chocolate fudge cake, delicious in and of itself if you ask me.  But I wanted something richer, so I really went for it.  I used my apple corer to empty a small well inside the cupcakes, then filled it with caramel.  And, it’s the easiest caramel ever to make.  Simply fully submerge a can of sweetened condenses milk in water in a crock pot and turn it on low for about 6 hours.  That’s it!  Once its’ cooled, open the can to find wonderfully creamy caramel.

I scooped the caramel into a ziplock back, snipped of the corner, and squeezed some into the center of each cupcake.

 

I whipped up a batch of cream cheese frosting, for the top.  The frosting consists of one block of cream cheese, one stick of butter, about a teaspoon of vanilla, about a tablespoon of milk, and about a pound of powdered sugar.  I use the term “about” when referring to these measurements because it all depends on the texture you’re going for.  I wanted smooth and creamy, but still firm.

 

The cupcakes were so rich and the caramel inside was a wonderful surprise.  Of course I totally forgot to take a picture of them all finished and placed on the cupcake tower.  I also had plans to drizzle them with caramel sauce as a garnish (and as a clue to what’s inside) but when I went to the store to get the caramel, I got a distracted by the other things I needed and totally forgot about it.  So I ended up adding a few prickles instead.

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