Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Baker's Delight

I have really been neglecting this blog lately, but I am really hoping to change that over the next year. I have had creative blocks in my mind for a while, and in my life … but now thanks to family life getting back to “normal” a little, and having fallen into more of a routine than was the case for the last 2 years…that has started to change for the better.

I wanted to share some cakes and cupcakes I’ve made over the last few months. I was really into cakes for a while, but I have gotten really frustrated with my lack of skills in that arena. I plan in the coming year to take some intensive decorating classes, but until then…I will probably stick more to cupcakes. They are fun, and I can play around with flavors and fillings, plus they are easy to pretty up without getting too frustrated! I am going to try to go through my files to find the recipes I used for these - but sometimes I end up just taking a basic recipe and tweaking it (or winging it, as i like to call it!).

This is one of the few cakes that I really think turned out pretty well. It was a "Minion" cake for my son who was having a Despicable Me birthday party. I can see the flaws of course, but being that it was my first ever 3-D cake, and my first ever fondant covered cake, I am pretty proud of this one. He's pretty cute! It's made up of 3 6" layers (White Almond Sour Cream, Root Beer, Chocolate) and one 1/2 ball (Root Beer again, his favorite). Covered in homemade marshmallow fondant.

Another cake I was pretty proud of. This one is just a basic lemon layer cake, but I made it to try out I am Baker's rose cake design. Beautiful. Even though I can see the flaws...for my first try I think it is a really pretty presentation and not difficult at all.

 Death By Chocolate cupcakes...Dark chocolate cupcakes with chocolate ganache filling, and white chocolate frosting. Topped with a chocolate-covered espresso bean. Here is the cupcake recipe (note, I did not use the frosting from this recipe for this cupcake). And here is the recipe for white chocolate buttercream.

For the Ganache Filling, here is the recipe I used:
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. confectioners' sugar

Place chocolate, cream, and confectioners' sugar in a small microwave-safe bowl. Cook on high power until mixture is warm to the touch, 20-30 seconds. Whisk until smooth and transfer to the refrigerator. Let stand until just chilled, no longer than 30 minutes.

 Strawberry Shortcake cupcake - shortcake based cupcake that was only faintly sweet, filled with fresh strawberry filling and topped with strawberry buttercream and milk crumbs. Here is the recipe for the cupcake & frosting. I used the filling recipe from here. And here is the recipe for the milk crumbs (might have been the best part!!).

 Lemon meringue cupcakes - lightly flavored lemon cake with homemade lemon curd filling, topped with meringue.Here is the recipe.

These were lemon cupcakes with fresh blueberry buttercream frosting, made for my daughter's butterfly-themed birthday party. Here is the recipe (I added more blueberry to my frosting...clearly. We love blueberries around here!)

Blue velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, made for my son's Indianapolis Colts themed birthday party. These were a big hit! Here is the recipe!

‘Tis the season, and this year I have really been in a creative kind of mood, so stay tuned - I have been working on a lot of non-baking projects I will be posting about soon!

Until then - let the peace and creativity flow!
Mariah ♥

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Orange Dream Cake with Whipped Icing

I originally planned to make this cake for Valentine's dinner for my love, however, instead we had to go to a town an hour away to sign the contract for our new car - since they took too long last Saturday and couldn't get it together in time. So, I made it last night instead. Why Orange Dream you ask? Wouldn't Valentines Day speak more to something chocolaty and decadent? Maybe for some. But my husband's absolute favorite flavor is Orange Dream (or Dreamsicle, as it's also called I believe). So, Orange Dream Cake it is! I found the recipe on Cake Central. If you fancy yourself a baker (novice, expert or somewhere in between), or if you are looking for that perfect cake recipe - you MUST visit this website. It is a baker's dream come true. Helpful forums, TONS of recipes and pictures of beautiful cakes from other Cake Central users.

I digress. Our review on this cake - Seemed a little dense but that could have been my error (or I may not be used to making wedding-level cakes, maybe they are just more dense?)- but not dense in as bad way really...and it was SO delicious! I will definitely be making this cake again!

On with the recipe. Credit for this goes to Cake Central user "macsmom", who is a GENIUS when it comes to gourmet cake flavors.

Orange Dream Cake - macsmom
2 boxes white cake mix
2 C. melted orange sherbet
2/3 C. OJ
2 C. flour
1 3/4 C. Sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 C. sour cream
9 egg whites
1/4 C. oil
1 T orange extract **I used Orange Bakery Emulsion, I just prefer the flavor it gives over extract.
Food coloring (if desired) **I did not use this.

Mix dry ingredients by hand using a whisk in a very large mixing bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat on low speed for 2 minutes. Bake at 325 degrees. **The recipe does not say how long to bake the cake. It depends on the size of pan you use, and my oven tends to run hot anyway so I would just follow loosely the guidelines on your box, adjusting the time for the lower temperature - and watch carefully! ;-)

Once baked & cooled, top with your choice of icing.

One 14" round + one 6" round
OR one 16" round
OR one 12" round + one 10" round
OR one 12X18" sheet cake
OR one 12" round + one 8" round + one 6" round
Half a recipe makes: two 8" rounds
or two 6" rounds and 6 cupcakes

Whipped Icing
8 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 C. confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 C. heavy whipping cream

Combine the cream cheese, sugar and extracts in a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer. Fit the mixer with a whisk attachment and mix on medium speed until smooth. While the mixture is still whipping, slowly pour in the heavy cream. Stop and scrape the bottom of the bowl a couple of times during the whipping process. Continue whipping until the cream can hold a stiff peak.

Yield: 5 cups

Pink Lemonade Sugar Scrub

As promised, although VERY late - I am sharing the craft I made for Jessie's Valentine Craft Party. She has pictures up of the party on her blog here so I won't be redundant and post mine, which are virtually the same. But I will post pictures of my craft:

Pink Lemonade Sugar Scrub

I basically followed this recipe by Christy at From Glitter to Gumdrops, however I made a few alterations/additions.

Here are the ingredients I used, basically the same measurements as Christy's but I made a LOT of this scrub (I needed to make enough for 15 people).

As you can see, I swapped Mineral Oil for the Olive Oil in Christy's recipe. I did this because Mineral Oil is odorless and colorless, and I wanted to be sure to have pure colors/scents. I did try a batch with Olive Oil but I didn't like the way it tinted the color, and the smell over-powered the lemon scent. I also added lemon extract in place of lemon juice, and the zest of 2 lemons to my entire batch (would work out to just a scant amount per recipe using her measurements).

All you do is mix the ingredients together until combined. I used my stand mixer for this because a) I had to mix a LOT of sugar scrub and it made it much easier and b) all of the ingredients are food safe (mineral oil is used as a laxative, so although that's not appealing, it *is* technically food safe right?? LOL) so there was no worry of tainting my mixer.

And then scoop it into a pretty jar...

Add some ribbon, a label and gift tag, and Voila! Pink Lemonade Sugar Scrub, ready to gift! Couldn't be easier, but will definitely make your friend or loved one feel so special!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Valentines Day with the ones they love!

Until next time - Love,

Friday, February 4, 2011

Valentines Inspiration

Well hello there! Welcome to my new blog, where I'll now post all things creative - cooking, baking, crafting, etc. I have decided to reserve my Live Wholeheartedly blog for rambling discussing things that matter to me about life, love, faith, etc. and keep all of my craft posts in a separate blog altogether. I think it might make life a little easier (that is, if I ever get to the point with these blogs that I would like to and actually HAVE content in them, haha).

So on with my first post! I am just going to share a few pictures of things that I had over on my other blog which flow very well into the upcoming holiday - one of my favorites - Valentines Day! The holiday of love, hearts and all things pink and red!
The day you don't have to be ashamed to gush about the one you love!

Here are some things I've made in the past that would be great little gifts for any of the loves of your life - be they big or small :)

These are great little cookie bouquets and altered frappuccino bottles my friend Jessie and I made for our kids last year. They were fun, although getting those cookies on the sticks was a little aggravating, and it was so much fun to get to spend a whole day crafting with my best friend!

We used Starbucks Frappiccino bottles, added some pretty paper and filled them with chocolates for our kids and husbands. I love altering bottles/tins/containers...it's so fun to think up different uses for them!

The cookie bouquets ended up REALLY cute - and tasty! But, they were a labor of love (which I guess is the point, right? Valentines Day is all about showing the love!). I am still amazed the cookies stayed on the sticks, frankly! They were a big hit though!

This was actually something I made for a friend's birthday - but it fits the Valentine theme so well that it would be a perfect gift for your mom, best friend, or teenage daughter! It's a spa-themed set, made from - what else - a 4-pack of Starbucks Frappuccino. I fancied up the box with scrapbooking paper, stickers, ribbon & other embellishments, painted the lids of the bottles and added a "label". So sweet! Of all of the things I've made...this is definitely up there with my all-time favorites!

I made spa-items for 3 of the bottles (L-R: Wild Berry Bath Salts, Milk Bath, Wild Berry Sugar Scrub) - and of course - no spa set would be complete without a bottle of delicious Dove Chocolate! What woman wouldn't love to receive this wonderful gift of pampering themselves?!

That's all I have for today - hopefully this weekend I'll be back this weekend to post some pictures of the craft I'm working on for Jessie's Valentine Craft party this weekend! We all had to make a craft, enough for each person invited. I made Pink Lemonade Sugar Scrub! Can you tell I love bath products?? I can't wait to see what everyone else has made! We're making lots of tasty treats for the party and I will be sure and post some pictures of the party and all the goodies as well :)

Until next time - Love,