Christmas Tree Cupcakes

Here’s a quick post on something I made today. We’re in the midst of craft and bake sales, so November is pretty busy.

I’ve got a craft sale coming up tomorrow, so I whipped these puppies up. Use whatever cake and vanilla frosting recipe you wish (canned is ok, too!), and then tint your frosting green. I use the Wilton icing recipe, because it tints the best (Check out my ‘Hello Kitty’ post for the recipe!).

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Put the icing in a piping bag with a star tip (I used my largest one, I think it’s a 20), and go around in circles on top. Add some silver ball decorations (or anything, really) to look like ornaments.

For the star topper, I put some yellow melting chocolate into a piping bottle, and made a star shape.

My big boy is turning 3 next week, and he’s into Spider-Man big time. Stay tuned for a few posts related to that (notably cake decorating and cake pops!).

How to Make a Fantastic Muffin

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I’m teaching a first aid course over the next couple of days, and as the instructor, I’m in charge of our nutrition breaks.  I made a few batches of muffins, and tomorrow morning I’ll pick up a vegetable tray.  I thought that I’d use this opportunity to give you some tips to make your muffins even better!

1. The Batter

Muffins are different from cakes or cupcakes.  When you make cake batter, the batter is very runny, and can pour off of your spoon.  You do not want this with muffins.  You want it lumpy, and definitely not pour-able.  If you try to pour it off of your spoon, it will fall off in clumps.  The lumpy batter will keep your muffins from being tough.  I never use a mixer with my muffins, it’s usually a spoon!  Take away point: do not over mix!

2.  When are they ready?

With a cake, you insert a toothpick, and if it comes out clean, it’s ready!  That’s not the case with a muffin.  With a muffin, you touch the top, and if it springs back, it’s ready.  Other tell-tale signs are the smell, and the browning of the top.  If you take them out too early, they’ll sink in the middle, and probably be quite doughy in the middle.

 

I’m sure there are many other tips to help with your muffin baking, but these are the two that I always use.  Do you have any others?

PS – Happy New Year!  I do have some more posts to go up (including a rather delicious smoothie recipe that I made yesterday!), and hopefully they’ll be up within the week!

Just Another Friday Night

We had a night in Friday night.  Life’s been busy, so we just decided to stay in, and relax.  My little kitchen helper helped me make some cookies.  I decided to try making macarons again, because I had some aged egg whites from Tuesday, but because little boy didn’t like them, we made some pre-made cookies.  They were on sale at the grocery store, and came with a coupon, so I decided to pick up a package for the two of us.  He had a great time arranging them on the cookie sheet:

And then patiently watched them cook:

He even found the oven mit and put it on himself!

Meanwhile, I was trying macarons out again.  Yeesh.  Maybe I’ll get them right one of these days.  At least they weren’t hallow:

But by the time I put in the ganache, they were a little too tall for my liking:

Ah, well… at least they tasted good.  I’ll get the knack of them someday!  This is what happens when the mixture is too thick.  I don’t think that I had enough egg whites.  I had measured out 90g on Tuesday, and took 45g then, and I thought that I had 45g left, but I think it was probably a little less.  I’ll keep at it until I have them perfected, and I’ll be sure to share the secret with you!

Strawberry Cake Pops – a tip to help make your cake pops

I’ve tried a few versions of these over the past few weeks.  Here is the one I made a week ago:

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I used white sprinkles and everything.  However… I only made one, so I gave it to my son to eat.  Last week, I think I found the cake pop solution to them working out for me!  And maybe it was in the books that I have, and I just didn’t read all the way through.  I do that sometimes.

When you are making your cake pops, you first dip the stick in your melted chocolate before inserting it into the pop.  I had done that, but the things would still fall off the stick.  This week, I found out if I stick them back in the fridge for 15 minutes, the chocolate hardens, and they won’t fall off!  Success!  I made another batch of strawberry pops to sell, and they seemed to go over pretty well.

Adventures in Cake Pops

Sorry it’s been so long since my last post.  I finished up the school year on Tuesday, and then it was busy, busy, busy getting ready for the market!  I hope to get some more pictures up soon.

However, for now, I will regale you with my adventures in cake pops.  Cupcakes are normally my thing, but because there is another vendor at the market who sells them, I thought that I’d try something else.  So pops it is!

Here are my critters that I made:Image

I made pigs, cows, chicks, and chickens, and they seemed to go over really well with the kids.  They were placed on top of this cake:Image

Now, for the cake… it was a simple white pound cake made with buttercream frosting.  I realize that I need a little bit of work on my lettering, but I think it turned out pretty good.  The barn was made with rice crispie squares, then frosted.

Finally, as it was Canada Day, I made a few festive pops:Image

These were dipped in white chocolate with some maple leaf sprinkles (while I also used for the chickens!).  I had bought a maple leaf cookie cutter, and had every intention to dip those in red chocolate, but it didn’t pan out.  They were too heavy and fell apart in my chocolate.  Oh well.

The pops did pretty well.  Once I got the hang of them, they did turn out good, but my first ones (the pigs) were kind of lumpy.  It got better as the day went on.  They will definitely take more practice.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cheesecake

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Hello, lovely.

Apparently, the Kraft/Philadelphia website were down the other night.  I usually just go to the Kraft website, and use their recipe for peanut butter cheesecake, but I kept getting ‘404 – file not found’.  So I experimented, and this is what I got!

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cheesecake

Base:
1/2 cup margarine or butter (I used 1 square of Imperial Margarine)
2 cups of Oreos crumbs

Cheesecake:
2 blocks of cream cheese
1/2 cup of peanut butter
2 eggs
1 tbsp sugar
1 shot Kahlua
2-3 tbsps of melted chocolate (or 4… or 5…)

Topping:
Crumbled peanut butter cups

Base:
Preheat oven to 325.  Melt your margarine and stir the crumbs in.  Press down into the pan with your fingers.  When we cook cheesecakes, we put a layer of wax paper on top of the springform pan.  Bake for 5-10 minutes.

Cheesecake:
Mix together cream cheese and peanut butter.  Do a little taste test to make sure the peanut butter is strong enough for you.  Add eggs and sugar, and mix.  Add in Kahlua.  You’ll want to grease your spring form pan, just so the cheesecake comes out easily.  I forgot.  I poured in a little of the mixture before I forgot.  Ideally, you would spray some Pam onto the sides after baking the base.  I had to put some margarine onto a piece of paper towel and get the edges that way.  Once your have your mixture poured into the pan, add the melted chocolate, and swirl it around.  Bake at 325 for 30 mins.  If it doesn’t looked cooked at 30 minutes, leave for another 5.  It will brown a little when it is cooked.

Topping:
Once the cheesecake has cooled, crumble some peanut butter cups over top.  I had a bag of the Reese minis in our cupboard, and they all melted together in the heat wave last week.  They were perfect on top.

Enjoy with a big glass of milk!