Monthly Archives: March 2013
So I kinda suck. I made this big deal out of bringing these special gluten free cupcakes to Easter for my sister in law and then reneged. Awful, I know. I realized, though, that with traveling I would have to prepare them four days in advance and since I don’t have access to the potent preservative powers of say a Twinkie (RIP) or a Ding Dong, I would be hand delivering a dry, stale albeit gluten free brick. So I backed out. My sister in law was completely understanding of course, which makes it impossible for me to show up empty handed, so I whipped up this little number for her instead.
While its true that this dessert will not be earning any ‘Most Glamorous’ awards, it does pack a mean punch in the tasty department. It’s the kind of layered bar dessert that only gets more delicious with some chill time in the fridge and left in the pan, it couldn’t be easier to travel with making it perfect for the upcoming Holiday. I hesitate to even label this dessert as gluten free for fear that it will be pre-judged and left abandoned and uneaten on the dessert table. Even my husband, who has a deep rooted, unshakeable disdain for all things gluten free, was narfing this bad boy down like a Snickers bar. Honestly, if we’re going strictly by taste, I actually think its even a little better than the fancy cupcakes I promised.
Crust and Topping
7 tbsp butter
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 egg, large
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 cups Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix
1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips (Ghirardelli semi sweet chips are gluten free)
Butter and flour (use gluten free mix sparingly!!) an 8×8 square baking dish and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter and sugars together. Mix in egg and vanilla, then dry mix. Add chocolate chips and incorporate.
Place 5 scoops of dough (1 TBSP sized) on parchment lined sheet, lightly flatten. Bake for approximately 10 to 12 minutes. Let cookies cool slightly and use a spatula to remove from cookie sheet. Reserve cookies for topping.
1/2 cup plus two tbsp semisweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp unsalted butter
In small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips and butter uncovered on half power stirring every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth. Spread evenly over bars. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes
1/2 package (4 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon peanut butter
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp powdered sugar
1/4 cup whipping cream
In medium bowl, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, powdered sugar and whipping cream with electric mixer on low speed until blended. Beat on high speed about 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. Spread over chocolate layer.
Crush baked cookies on top and press in slightly. Allow to cool at least one hour before cutting into even bars and serving.
Dearest sister in law, I hope you will be happy with the substitute and I pinky promise that this will indeed show up at your door on Easter Day!
I decided a few days ago to sew a new dress for the girl child. I had plenty of patterns and pretty fabric in stash so I jumped right in.
She’s 3 right now and generally wears 3T or 4T from Target so I figured a size 3 of the pattern would be fine. I measured anyway just to be sure and the numbers indicated a 3 would work fine. Lies, Damn Lies! A size 3 was too tight in the bust and just a bit long ( she’s kinda short, like me..)
Anyway I figured I should be able to fix this problem easy enough. I had sewed it up to the point of installing the zipper so ripping out seams was not going to happen. Google was not much help here so I sat and thought a bit and decided to add a small panel on each side of the zip closure area and then put the zipper in, seems reasonable, right?
I added a small panel, sewing it down on both sides. I tried it on her and it was a bit tight still, too hard to get over her head. I cut it down the middle and got this:
Way too narrow to do much with. Out the stitches came (lesson learned here was to BASTE when experimenting)
It fit easily over her head but it gaped at the sides and did funny things at the bottom of the zipper opening area. I somehow didn’t get a picture of that part. So I sat and thought for another little bit and decided that the fix for this was to angle the seam a bit to cut the bulk out of the bottom area. Result of the re sew:
Mostly satisfied with the last round I added a larger than called for hem and called it a day. I happened to have just the right little cardigan to wear with this dress so the back will not be seen anyhow.
Yay for Semi-Acceptable dress fixes!
You might think that this decadent, rich Black Forest cupcake is a bit dark and moody for this time of year but think again…not only are we in the midst of National Chocolate Week, but March 28th is actually National Black Forest Cake day! I’d say this recipe satisfies both occasions quite nicely.
The name ‘Black Forest Cake’ conjures up an image of a dark, dense forest of chocolate with a blood red stream of boozy cherries running through it, you can’t escape and you don’t want to. The occasional Johnny Depp shaped, whipped cream cloud floats by overhead. This is what a stay at home mom, hobby baker fantasizes about. Hot, right? A typical Black Forest cake is of the spongy variety but the recipe I used is a nearly flourless, dense über chocolately number instead – it is Chocolate Week after all people! The crumb of this cake is quite different than my usual cupcake recipe, but definitely provides the fudgy feel I was going for.
It isn’t a Black Forest Cake without booze and I had some leftover Kirschwasser from last week’s pistachio cupcakes. The cherry brandy is brushed over the warm cakes, incorporated into the cherry whipped cream as well as the buttercream frosting so I’d say its sufficiently boozy though the flavor isn’t overwhelming. Just a few tablespoons sprinkled throughout so you won’t be catching a buzz from it or anything. This can easily be rectified, however if consumed with a bottle of wine or two.
Makes about 12-15
8 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into four prices
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream.
1-2 tbsp Kirschwasser
Preheat oven to 350 and line standard muffin tin with paper liners.
Melt butter, chocolate and cocoa in double boiler. Set aside to cool until just warm.
Whisk flour, baking powder and baking soda in small bowl.
Whisk eggs in a medium bowl to combine.
Add sugar, vanilla and salt. Whisk until fully incorporated.
Add the cooled chocolate mixture to the egg mixture. Whisk until combined.
Sift in 1/3 of the flour mixture, whisk.
Whisk in sour cream and then sift in the remaining flour mixture, whisk until combined.
Divide among muffin cups, no more than 2/3 full. A cookie scoop works best with this batter.
Bake 18-20 minutes, rotate halfway through baking time.
Let cool 3-5 minutes. Poke holes in the cake with a toothpick and use a pastry brush to brush on Kirschwasser. (optional)
Cool on wire rack.
Kirsch Buttercream Frosting
1 cup unsalted, room temperature butter (2 sticks)
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 tablespoons Kirschwasser
1-2 teaspoons heavy cream or milk
Beat the butter in medium speed until light and fluffy. I beat mine for at least five minutes so the color of the frosting would be whiter.
Slowly add in half of the powdered sugar, beat to combine.
Add in vanilla and Kirschwasser and beat.
Add in remaining powdered sugar.
Slowly add in heavy cream until desired consistency is reached.
Cherry Cream Filling
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/3 (or more to taste) cup cherry pie filling or jam
1-2 teaspoons Kirschwasser (optional)
Pre-chill beaters and glass bowl to help cream to whip
Beat whipping cream on medium until soft peaks form.
Add in vanilla and powdered sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks are achieved.
In a medium bowl, whisk together cherry pie filling and Kirschwasser.
Fold in whipped cream and refrigerate for one hour.
Core cupcakes and fill with cherry whipped cream.
Swirl on frosting. I used a 2d tip around the edges and filled the center with thinned out cherry filling.
I also added a melted chocolate garnish because they’re easy and delicious and added some chocolate shavings for good measure.
These could easily be adapted for a gluten free friend by using this flourless chocolate cake recipe instead. Now, go and celebrate National Chocolate Week in a way that is special and meaningful to you. And if that means filling your bathtub with Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup and pretending you are Augustus Gloop in Wonka’s Factory, then so be it. No judgements.
The improvements are still happening here, though very slowly. I just finished up the other window “treatment” and thought I’d show you the difference.
Here is a picture of the first one I did that I was not all that thrilled about.
And here is the second one I did.
Much better in my opinion.
It wasn’t all that hard to do, just time consuming. Particularly with 3 minions running around interrupting me constantly. It also takes a fair amount of time for it to dry, which is kind of annoying.
Here are the details on this method.
Start with your blank piece of plexi glass. Do a quick wipe with alcohol, let it dry. Take your paint marker and start drawing lines, making it look like stained glass. I just made mine random but if you were organized and had a print out you could do it sort of like a paint by numbers and cut down on your drying time/color mixing. If you make a mistake with your lines just use rubbing alcohol to erase it and start again.
For coloring in the sections I started off with Martha Stewart glass paints and the Liquid Fill medium. I put a little bit of paint in a mixing bottle and then Liquid Fill till it “flowed” like I wanted (who needs measuring?) This worked okay, but it takes a lot of Liquid Fill medium to get a good flow and the mixing bottle is not suited to big projects. It’s better for detail work ( and it’s expensive for a big project too)
I needed the bottom part to be more opaque so I started using regular old acrylic craft paint and thinning it down with the medium, adjusting the ratio as needed to get the right flow/opacity. This works pretty dang well. Can’t see through it and it filled in just fine. The MS glass paints were nice for the top because they let me use less of the flow mediums and get a better transparency where I wanted it.
After a while, I ran out of the Liquid Fill and switched to the Liquitex Pouring Medium. I think I paid 14 bucks for a bottle 2 to 3 times as big as the MS one and it works just as well. I got tired of using the tiny MS bottle and switched to decorating squeeze bottles. These work great for filling in big areas but make sure you keep it back from your lines a bit because it flows out faster, you can come back through with the MS bottle tip and bring it to the line or just use the head of a pin (yay, for sewing) to drag the liquid around. Once the sections were filled in and dry I went back over my black lines with the paint marker again to make them more visible and fill in some blank spots.
After it was finally all dry, I trimmed it to fit the window and used adhesive caulk to stick it to the glass. I don’t know how removeable this is but I’m assuming it shouldn’t be too hard to remove if we need to later.
A few tips and notes. Be careful to not drag your hand through a wet section ( lost count of how many times I did this). If you get too much paint in a section you can use a paper towel to absorb some out and then drag a pin head around it to fill in any spots that got too thin. Pins will be useful for clearing the tips of your bottles too, if you have to leave it for a minute and do something else for a while. The Liquid Fill stuff will mostly wash up with soap and water but I do not recommend getting it on your countertops. I seem to have a few bottle rings that won’t come off all the way.
I think that is about it. It was time consuming but I have to say I like it better than the first one and you know what that means….. I’ll be posting when I get the first one redone.
This is my first real attempt at legitimate gluten free baking. Sure, I’ve done the “cheater method” of gluten free baking by just omitting ingredients like this flourless chocolate cupcake or just making cheesecake with a gluten free cookie crust. But that’s kind of like saying “Here, I made you this bowl of gluten free ice cream”. This cupcake actually uses a gluten free flour mixture – Pamela’s Baking and Pancake Mix. This mix was recommended to me by my sister in law (and confirmed by google to be the best) but it certainly isn’t cheap. I paid $16 for a 4 pound bag compared to $4.95 for a 5 pound bag of the regular stuff – yet another reason I’m extremely grateful to not have Celiac’s Disease. So here’s hoping I can make it suck a little less for my favorite Celiac sister in law.
While trying to gather inspiration for this recipe, I was shocked at how many pistachio cupcake recipes do not actually require pistachios. Most call for pistachio pudding mix with artificial pistachio flavoring (sad), so my main requirement was that the recipe start with real, freshly ground pistachios. I adapted this recipe from Artisanal Cupcakes and I have to say the result is pretty phenomenal. The cherry cream cheese frosting and the amaretto chocolate mousse filling give it a delicious Spumoni-y flavor and the look is perfect to complement a Spring or Easter table.
Also, I first attempted this cupcake with an Italian Meringue Buttercream which was a total disaster (full rant coming soon – so bad it requires its own post).
Gluten Free Pistachio Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups Pamela’s Gluten Free Baking and Pancake Mix
1/2 cup unsalted, shelled pistachios
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp butter, room temperature
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon gluten free almond extract
2 eggs, room temperature
*1/2 cup + 2 tbsp buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-2 drops green food coloring (optional)
*I never have buttermilk on hand so I just add one tablespoon of lemon juice per one cup of milk and allow it to set for five minutes before using. Works perfectly.
Preheat oven to 350 and line muffin tin with paper liners.
In a food processor, chop the pistachios until they are finely ground. Set aside.
With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the almond extract.
Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing to incorporate after each addition.
Add buttermilk and pistachios and mix well.
Sift in the salt and baking mix and beat on medium speed for about 20 seconds until fully incorporated.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula and beat on high for 5-10 more seconds until the batter is completely smooth.
Add in food coloring. This is optional but the green color with the pink frosting is adorbs.
Divide the batter evenly among the paper cups filling no more than 2/3 full. This is a thicker batter so I had the best luck with a cookie scoop.
Bake for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Allow to cool for a couple of minutes in the pan and then transfer to a wire baking rack to cool completely before decorating.
Amaretto Mousse Filling
1/2 of a 3.9 ounce pkg of instant chocolate pudding
1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1-2 tbsp Amaretto
Pre-Chill bowl and beaters to help the cream to whip.
In a small bowl, whip heavy cream until soft peaks form.
In a large bowl, whisk together pudding mix and whole milk until thick, about 1 minute.
Add Amaretto to taste to the pudding mixture and fold in whipped cream.
Cover and allow to refrigerate for at least one hour.
Cherry cream cheese frosting
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
4 ounces cream cheese
4 cups gluten free powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4-6 teaspoons maraschino cherry juice
2-3 teaspoons Kirschwasser cherry brandy
Set your butter out at room temp for about 10 minutes. You don’t want it to be too warm or you will end up with runny frosting.
Beat butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Side note – If you are trying to achieve a whiter buttercream frosting, beat the butter for at least 5 minutes and you will notice a color change.
Add in the cold cream cheese and continue to beat until incorporated and smooth.
Add in two cups of powdered sugar, beating after each addition.
Add in vanilla, one teaspoon cherry juice and one teaspoon Kirschwasser and beat.
Mix in remaining 2 cups powdered sugar.
Slowly add in additional cherry juice and Kirschwasser until desired color and flavor is achieved. Be careful not to add too much liquid or you will end up with soup.
If your end product is too runny, slowly add in additional powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time and allow to chill for 30 minutes.
You could also skip the Kirschwasser and just use cherry juice, though the brandy adds cherry flavor without additional sweetness or color.
Core the cupcakes and fill with Amaretto chocolate mousse.
Swirl or spread on frosting. I used a petal tip (Wilton 125) to make the flower cakes and added a Godiva dark chocolate pearl to the center.
Marshmallow fondant flowers found here.
Shaved on some green candy melts for accent.
You could also just top with crushed pistachios.
And there you have it. Gluten free, adorable and most importantly hella good (I’m bringing hella back). Enjoy!
Hiya! I’ve been busy working on some outside projects (we had BEAUTIFUL weather this weekend) and putting together this little tutorial for you! It’s the kitty that I have posted about previously. I’m calling this version Fancy Kitty because she’s got a posh gold and black collar on.
Okay so here goes the explanation. If anyone has any corrections or suggestions or whatever you can post in the comments or email me at email@example.com.
I’m trying to figure out how to get my pattern into a printable sort of format, until then this is the best picture I have of it. The dimensions are roughly 11 inches tall and 6 1/4 inches from ear tip to ear tip.
Okay, so lay your pattern piece on top of your fleece/flannel/cotton fabric and trace around it with a fabric marker.
Cut it out leaving a bit of space all the way around it. Just eyeball it.
On the right side of fabric, draw the face with your fabric marker.
Decide on the right level of fanciness for your kitty. This looks about right.
Using 4 strands of embroidery thread begin to embroider the face in. I just use a simple back stitch for this. Be sure not to pull the stitches too tight and to keep them about 1/4 inch long.
Stitch over your marks and continue on to the next eye.
Here is a back view.
For the mouth area I started just below the nose, doing the back stitch again. Follow all the way down one side of the mouth, come back to the middle and do the other side.
Back view again
The nose gets worked with 6 strands of floss so it’s fills it in faster. Start right in the middle and do your first back stitch, then just go back and forth on either side filling in the triangle you drew (shorten the stitches as you get to the outside stitches.)
Trace the ears onto your contrast fabric (white fleece for me). Cut them out and go sew them down.
Cut your ribbon to length, leaving a bit extra on either side. Sew it on the top and bottom edges with matching thread.
Place your pieces right sides together and sew along the original tracing marks. Leave a gap at the bottom for turning.
After that trim your seams and clip the curves. These are the areas I usually do.
Turn it right side out. I use hemostats to help me turn the ears and other tricky bits.
Grab your stuffing, fluff it and start stuffing! Stuff it to your preferred level of firmness. This one is stuffed fairly firm.
Use the ladder stitch to close the opening at the bottom.
Wet a cotton swab and erase the marks from your fabric marker and you’re done!
Now you have a new Fancy Kitty to enjoy!
I’m breaking my own rule of ‘taste before esthetics’ a teensy bit with this garnish. Full disclosure – marshmallow fondant isn’t exactly something you would risk getting caught sneaking into a movie theater with because its just so delicious. It is certainly, in my opinion, better than store bought fondant though and I just couldn’t resist the cuteness factor.
Marshmallow fondant is insanely simple but oh so very, very messy. If my husband had walked in while I was wrestling with this sticky, powdery concoction I think he may have actually needed oxygen. (He’s a super neat freak. I’m the messy, crazy one. We’re the classic odd couple. Adorable, right?) Powdered sugar was everywhere. I was going to post a photo of the mess but decided to spare hubby the shame of it all. I actually attempted to use my electric mixer with this recipe which was my major downfall. I did eventually end up with fondant but I definitely should’ve just used my hands and kneaded it like bread from the beginning.
This was my first attempt at fondant style garnishes and I have to admit, I’m kinda hooked. It’s just like play dough and it’s really a lot of fun. I know I’m late to the game and there are a million fondant flower tutorials out there so the only new information I can add to the equation is that I created these flowers without any special fondant tools. So if any of you out there are like me, and you decide on a whim that you want to try this with absolutely no planning or preparation, then you might find some useful information here.
8 ounces mini marshmallows
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons water
There are about a million you tube videos on marshmallow fondant. Take your pick. I found this one especially helpful.
Wrap fondant tightly with plastic wrap and place inside Ziploc bag. Allow to chill in refrigerator for a few hours. Allow to come back up to room temp before rolling out.
Fondant Ruffle Flowers
4 circle cutters in descending sizes
I used decorating tips and couplers, a small metal container, a circle cookie cutter. You could also use a toothpaste cap, bottle cap…just scour your house for circulars objects. You’ll be amazed at what you can come up with.
I used a 1/8 teaspoon measuring spoon with a rounded back, worked like a charm. You can also just use your fingers to pinch and thin the edges.
I happened to have a foam sheet in my collection but you could also use folded up paper towel to make a softer surface to work on.
Dragees/sugar pearls for the center of the flower.
You could also just use a tiny ball of fondant in the center.
Clear flavoring extract
Paper towel roll – cut in half
Liberally dust your working surface with powdered sugar.
Roll out your fondant to roughly 1/8 inch or as thin as you can get it.
Cut out your circles.
Make sure you keep any fondant you aren’t working with wrapped tightly so that it doesn’t dry out.
Thin the edges of the circles with your ball tool, teaspoon or fingers so that they are delicate but stable.
Roll a toothpick along the perimeter of the circle to give it a ruffly, fabric appearance. Don’t worry if you get tiny tears along the way – this just adds to the effect!
Paint a tiny dab of the extract in the center of each circle and layer them together.
Gently press the center of the flower into the palm of your hand to create a rounded bottom.
Paint a dab of extract in the very center and add your pearls.
At this point you can use your toothpick to play with the edges of the flower, lifting some up and some down asymmetrically, for a more natural look.
Place on halved paper towel roll to dry overnight.
Keep an eye out for these sweet little things on some special Easter/Spring treats I have planned!
I also made these adorable tiny baby shapes using a pattern and an Exacto knife! These will be making an appearance on a special little cupcake soon too!
Hello there. I took a mini break so I could work on a project that has a (gasp) deadline. Not for pay or anything but a deadline none the less. I feel a bit more caught up on it so I can return to my usual slothfulness and pin-gazing (like star gazing but on Pinterest. Seriously, Pinterest is a time sucking vortex.)
Anyway, we worked a bit on the house this past weekend. We finished caulking the molding and painted (and repainted) the doors in the room. The small one was painted a coral color first but it was way too bright/weird/orange for what we wanted so off the hinges it came again and got repainted in the aqua instead.
The other doors got the same color but in different spots on the door to add a little bit of variety (husband was strongly opposed to this, he likes everything to be the same…and boring).
The windows are a work in progress. I am sometimes unable to execute an idea with as much skill as I would like so I’m not sure what’s on there will stay but here it is for now.
The light in this room can be so weird sometimes, freaking CFL bulbs…
It’s just a piece of plexi-glass from Hobby Lobby ( $5.95) painted with various Martha Stewart glass paints and acrylics, even some of the latex paint we used on the doors. After it dried I glued some sea glass pebbles to it and trimmed it to fit the window, sticking it to the glass with double-sided tape for now. I like that it lets light in and you can’t see through it but I wish I was a better painter.
The other thing we worked on this weekend is very much still in progress but it is something designed to help with this awful mess….
I’ll be glad to have it done.
That’s the news for now. See you again soon!
Whipped Mint Chocolate Ganache
3 ounces chopped Andes Mints or Andes Baking Chips
3 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips
6 ounces heavy whipping cream
Place chocolate/Andes mints in a glass bowl. Set aside.
Microwave heavy cream in 30 second intervals just until boiling.
Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and allow it to set for one minute.
Whisk the mixture until glossy and smooth.
(This is where you would stop for the chocolate drizzle bit.)
Place the bowl of ganache into a larger bowl filled halfway with water and ice – an ice bath.
Allow the ganache to firm up just to pudding consistency – about 7-10 minutes or so.
Whip on medium speed for 30-60 seconds. This can turn from dreamy chocolate mousse into chunky chocolate clay pretty quickly so whip with caution.
Pattern to trace
Print or draw your pattern and place on baking sheet.
Tape down parchment paper on top.
I melted together yellow and blue candy melts to make green and transferred the mixture to a pastry bag with a handwriting tip.
Trace the pattern and pop the baking sheet into the freezer for 15 minutes.
Core your chocolate cupcakes.
Fill with mint chocolate whipped ganache.
Swirl or slap on some frosting.
Drizzle with mint chocolate ganache.
Add your chocolate garnish.
If ancient pagan symbols aren’t your thing, then skip the garnish and just add some colorful chocolate curls or shavings.
I was also able to make some mint chocolate truffles out of the leftover ganache.
Use a melon baller to scoop out some ganache (you can roll it in your hand if you want a rounder ball) and roll it in some chocolate shavings, cocoa powder or powdered sugar.
If you find that your ganache is too soft or sticky to roll:
Melt the ganache in 30 second intervals with your microwave set at 50% power. Add in some more semi sweet chocolate chips (about 20% of the original amount you started with) to the melted ganache and stir very well. Place it back in the fridge and allow to set for at least four hours again.