Friday, February 24, 2012

Pinned it, made it: Earl Grey cake + rhubarb/vanilla bean jam

Two of my favorite things in the world: Earl Grey tea & rhubarb. When I pinned this recipe from Rasperri Cupcakes, I knew I had to try it out - sooner than later.

I made a couple of tweaks to the recipe. Rather than bake it in a round cake pan, I decided to go with  loaf pans. I doubled her recipe and got four mini loaves. The cakes were a bit on the large size though, so you could easily get five. I didn't have any cream cheese handy, so I opted to make a rhubarb/vanilla bean jam instead of the glaze. The recipe also called for self-rising flour which I do not use. I found a conversion online (adding baking powder and salt to AP flour) which worked just fine.

The result:delightful! The cake was moist, not too sweet with lots of Earl Grey flavor. I loved it with the jam, but it was just fine without it too. Next week: fresh strawberry cake!

Rhubarb/vanilla bean jam
1 lb rhubarb, cut into 1" pieces
2 cups sugar
juice of 1 lemon
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped

Add all ingredients in a heavy pot and stir over low heat until the sugar disolves. Cook on medium heat until the mixtures boils and begins to gel, about 20 minutes. Stir regularly to avoid the rhubarb sticking to the pan and burning. Remove from heat and transfer to a glass jar and refrigerate.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Pinned it, made it: mini funnel cakes

Have you jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon? I am officially obsessed! To justify all of the time that I spend pinning away, I am committing myself to trying out a recipe (or maybe something crafty) once a week.

So, first up: mini funnel cakes. I love classic fair food and was super excited to try out this recipe. A traditional funnel cake is so huge that after a few bites the appeal has worn off. At only about 4" in diameter, you can enjoy the nostalgic goodness without feeling like you've had a few too many spins on the tilt-o-whirl. The tutorial is fantastic and I didn't change a thing about the recipe. I found they were just as good a few hours later (with a quick zap in the microwave), so if you wanted to make them for a dinner party, you could get all the messy frying out of the way before hand.

One down, 700+ to go!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sweets for my sweets

fresh strawberry milk and chocolate/chocolate cocoa nib shortbread hearts

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to win a giveaway from one of my favorite party stylists, Pure Joy Events for bunch of adorable Valentine's Day goodies from Cute Tape. As last minute treats for friends and family, I was able to put the heart straws and little chevron bags to good use.

By the way, have you ever made real strawberry milk? It is easy and delicious and actually tastes like strawberries!

Fresh strawberry milk
1 lb strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced in quarters
6 oz sugar

Combine the strawberries and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes until syrupy. Pour off the syrup and cool. At this point, you can continue to cook the strawberries for about 15 minutes to make a delicious jam. To serve: Mix 8 oz of milk with 1/4 cup of strawberry syrup and shake vigorously.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Lollipop, lollipop, oh my little lollipop

 I spotted these little lollipops  sold by Sweet Style in Australia and was charmed by their simplicity and size. I did a little searching and wasn’t able to find them available stateside, so I thought “what the heck, the laundry can wait another day, I’m making lollipops!” There are a lot awesome things about making these yourself – you can control the color, size and most importantly what goes in them. I am not a fan of artificial flavorings, so I used Boyajian natural orange oil that made these taste as good as they look. I added a pinch of Disco Dust to add a little sparkle (fullfilling my New Year’s resolution to be more sparkley).

A few words about working with really hot sugar: Working with sugar is super fun, but can also be a bit dangerous (maybe that’s why I like it!). This recipe is best attempted when you can give it your full attention – no kiddos running underfoot or multitasking on your Iphone. When you get about 10° below the desired temperature, do not take your eyes of the thermometer, because it will go rather fast. Take care not to get touch the very hot sugar – there’s nothing worse than a sugar burn!

Handmade Swirl lollipops – yield 12-18 lollipops depending on size.
Recipe adapted from here
2 cups of granulated sugar
1/2 cup of light corn syrup
1/2 cup of water
1/4 tsp. of cream of tartar
½ tsp. of natural flavored oil (or ¾ tsp extract)
¼ tsp of citric acid
2 drops of gel food coloring
1 pinch of Disco Dust (if desired)
White lollipop sticks

1. Add the sugar, corn syrup, water and cream of tartar into a large saucepan. Stir the mixture together until it is well combined, and the sugar is dissolved completely.
2. Insert the candy thermometer into the mixture and cook the mixture until the temperature on the candy thermometer reads 265 degrees F. Do not stir the mixture while it is cooking.
3. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the food color, flavoring, citric acid and disco dust (if using), stir to incorporate.
4. Pour the hot candy mixture onto a sheet pan covered with a Silpat (preferably) or sprayed parchment paper. As the candy cools, gently fold it on itself with a heat proof spatula.
5. When the candy is cool enough to touch, lightly spray your hands with pan spray and pull off a small portion of the candy mixture. Kneed the candy until it is opaque and roll it into a rope.
6. Create the circle swirl shape by coiling the candy rope around itself until you've achieved the desired size.
7. Place the candy swirl onto another Silpat covered sheet pan and press a lollipop stick firmly into the candy. Repeat with remaining candy. If it becomes to hard to work with, microwave a bit at a time for 5 seconds or until pliable.
8. Allow the candy to cool completely, until it is hard and set, then enjoy!

Monday, February 6, 2012

My subtle valentine

Unlike me, by husband doesn't like stuff. He doesn't collect anything or have any particular hobbies. This is all fine with me, but it makes gift buying difficult at best. The one thing I know he appreciates is homemade chocolate chip cookies (always with nuts!). With Valentine's Day coming up, I wanted to make him a sweet, but not cutesy, over-the-top gift. Using Silhouette vinyl and glass etching cream, I created the simple "Je t'adore" (I adore you) cookie jar that I can fill with treats he loves all year long.

Cooks Illustrated perfect chocolate chip cookies (with a couple of changes..)
1¾ cups (8¾ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons (1¾ sticks) unsalted butter, melted
½ cup (3½ ounces) granulated sugar
¾ cup (5¼ ounces) packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
¾ cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 350, and prepare 2 baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper
1. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.
2. Mix the melted butter and sugars together until fluffy
3. Add the egg and egg yolk and mix until combine. Stir in vanilla
4. Mix in dry ingredients, then chocolate chips and nuts.
5. Scoop out cookie dough into 18 balls and bake for approximately 16 minutes.

Note: In the original recipe the butter is browned, but I don't think this step makes a big difference. For thin, crispy cookies, bake immediately. I made a happy discovery by leaving the dough at room temperature for 1 hour before baking - the cookies turned out thick and chewy and crispy - perfect!

Would you like to make your own cookie jar? Leave me a comment with your email and I will send you the "Je t'adore" file.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Before and after

It's amazing what a fresh coat of paint and some new hardware can do!
(and a great photo by Sherry Heck)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Pink + Gold + Glittery all over ~ the sweets

As always, collaborating with Becca of Cake. and Sherry Heck is a dream - a very, girly sparkly dream in this case. We shot these photos in my recently renovated office and I've been sweeping up plumes of glitter ever since (just how I like it!).  We shot these with Valentine's Day in mind, but color scheme would be equally lovely for a shower or birthday party. Enjoy the recipes and make something glittery today!

Vanilla Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Cupcake Ingredients
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/4 cups whole milk

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring the eggs, milk & butter to room temperature (don’t skip this step, it’s very important!) In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and pale. Add in the eggs one at a time and mix until combined. Sift (yes you must, sift!) together flour, salt and baking powder together. Stir together vanilla and milk Alternately add dry ingredients and milk to mixing bowl, scraping down after each addition. Start and end with dry ingredients. Fill paper-lined muffin tins with batter 2/3 full. Bake at 350° for 18- 20 minutes.
recipe adapted from Amy Sedaris

Frosting Ingredients
1 lb unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
8 egg whites
1 cup crème friache or sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Seeds from 2 vanilla beans

Combine sugar & egg whites in mixer bowl and whisk together over simmering water until hot to the touch and all of the sugar has melted and no longer grainy. Transfer bowl to mixer stand and whip on high until fluffy & cool – about 10 minutes. With the mixer on low, add the softened butter 1 tablespoon at a time until incorporated. Add in vanilla, crème fraiche or sour cream, and vanilla beans. Beat until smooth (it may look curdled, but just continue to mix & it will be come together!).

Homemade Gumdrops
1 cup sugar
1 cup corn syrup
3/4 cup water
1 box powdered fruit pectin (1.75 oz)
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp citric acid
¼ tsp natural citrus oil
a few drops of gel food coloring

Pan spray Candy molds
Sugar for coating
Disco dust (if desired)

Prepare your molds (you can use chocolate or hard candy molds) by liberally coating them with pan spray. Mix the sugar & corn syrup together in a medium saucepan. Mix water, pectin & baking soda together in another saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Bring to a boil and cook for approximately 8 minutes, until the foam from the baking soda mixture has died down. Pour the baking soda mixture into the sugars and stir constantly for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the citric acid, citrus oil, and food coloring. Working quickly, fill your molds with the hot liquid. If you wait too long, the mixture will begin to gel and is difficult to pour. (Alternatively, you can pour the mixture into a 8” square cake pan and cut out shapes). Let your gum drop set up in the molds for several hours. When they are firm, coat them in sugar (with a pinch of Disco Dust for sparkle if desired). Enjoy!
recipe adapted from Sew Can Do

Truffle Pops
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
½ cup whipping cream
2 oz Brandy (or other liquor, if desired)
Candy Melts in your color of choice
Oil food coloring (if desired)
Disco dust (if desired)

Place the chocolate in a heat proof mixing bowl. Bring the cream and brandy to a boil in a small sauce pan. Immediately pour the cream on the chocolate and let it stand for a few minutes. Sir the chocolate with a spatula until smooth. Leave the chocolate at room temperature, stirring occasionally until firm. This can take several hours. Once the chocolate is firm, roll into balls of your desired size. Insert lollipop stick and refrigerate until hard, preferably overnight. Melt the candy melts in a heat proof bowl over a double boiler. If desired, add a few drops of oil based food coloring. Holding your pops by the lollipop stick, dip them into the candy melts and swirl to coat completely. Remove from the chocolate and tap gently to remove excess. Insert into Styrofoam block to dry. When dry, sprinkle with disco dust.


125 grams almond powder (ground blanched almonds)
225 grams powdered sugar
100 grams egg whites
25 grams of sugar
pinch of cream of tartar
Gel food coloring if desired

Separate the egg whites the day before you want to use them and leave them covered at room temperature. Put the almond powder & powdered sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade and pulse until well combined. Whip the egg whites, cream of tartar, sugar and 2 drops of food coloring (if desired) until glossy peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the almond mixture until combined – approximately 50 strokes. Pipe the batter into 1 1/2” diameter circles on a Silpat or parchment lined sheet pan. After piping out the macarons, give the baking sheet a whack on the counter and let them sit for about 30 minutes before baking (this helps develop their “feet”). Bake for approximately 15 minutes at 300°. After they are cooled, pipe center on 1 cookie with buttercream
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