Sunday, June 27, 2010

Busy Baking Birthday Cake

I am working on my daughters 14th birthday cake. The older they get the harder it is to make their interests into a cake. When I saw the Pinkalicious Party on the How Does She? blog today I remembered how cute little girls parties can be. It's back to the kitchen for me, I have more frosting to make.

My daughters Strawberry Shortcake Birthday

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Vegas Vacation

I went with my daughter to Las Vegas for her 8th grade graduation. At the beginning of the year I made a deal with her that if she got straight A's we would got on a mini vacation and she chose Vegas. It was definitely not my first choice but at least it had a lot of dessert options.

Our first stop on our "All Sugar All The Time Tour" was Serendipity 3. It's located outside Caesar's Palace next to Las Vegas Blvd. The atmosphere is great, the food not so much. They are known for their Frozen Hot Chocolate although we didn't try it because it just sounds gross. The Watermelon Supreme, a tart slushy in giant glass, was refreshing in the Las Vegas heat but a little goes a long way. By the time we walked to the Mirage for The Beatles LOVE show we threw the rest of the Supreme away. We did stop back by later for one of their donuts. The chocolate donut was the size of a head, but nothing more than a everyday chocolate donut. My favorite thing about the place was all the pink, and the Marie Antoinette mascot of coarse.

Our next stop was the Sugar Factory. Basically a overpriced candy store with celebrity endorsements. They have shops at Planet Hollywood, The Mirage and a new store opening in Paris. Like Serendipity I loved the atmosphere with the sugar themed music blasting, but the candy was just ordinary except for the ridiculous $20 suckers. We rested our feet at The Sugar Factory at Planet Hollywood which serves gelato, crepes, cupcakes and a few other baked goods. I bought a coconut gelato which was good, but not as good as the coconut ice cream from Tropical Dreams Ice Cream in Hawaii. I also bought a I Heart Sugar T-shirt which was cheaper than their stupid lollipops.
We searched for more desserts Monday night/morning but everything closed at 11pm, I guess that's why it's New York that's called "The City That Never Sleeps" and not Las Vegas. So at 8:30 the next morning we walked down to the Pallazio and found my favorite Napa bakery, Bouchon. Another disappointment. Being Las Vegas they have the opportunity to make an over the top bakery, but this looked like something you would find in the airport. Paris would have been a much better location and they could have the same rustic look that the Napa bakery has.  The menu wasn't much different than Napa except they had ginormous cupcakes. I got the chocolate cupcake. (Yes! It was breakfast.) The frosting caught me off guard, it was a marshmallow frosting that I wasn't fond of.(Maybe toasted on a S'mores cupcake.) The chocolate cake was a little dry and it was filled with a chocolate ganache/frosting similar to the center of their chocolate donuts. Between my daughter and myself we couldn't even finish it, that should tell you a lot. It was a sad sight, two Bouchon fans siting dessert-less in a beautiful faux Venetian street.
After going back to Mandalay Bay and splashing on their beach for awhile, we went back out in search of more crazy people and more sugar. In front of the new Aria there was a cute patisserie called Amore. After passing by it the night before and drooling over their macarons we stopped in. They had tons of yummy looking pastries and baked goods. Being summer in Las Vegas we couldn't order more than we could eat because it would just melt so we just sampled 3 of their macarons. Chocolate, Lemon and Peanut. They were all good, (Not as good as Paulette's in San Francisco.)  but the Peanut was my favorite. It wasn't peanut butter necessarily it had a richer truer peanut flavor, you definitely need to like peanuts to enjoy it. Next time I would love to try more of their desserts they looked very promising. Off we went to find people digging in fountains and jet skiing through Bellagio's lake.
On our last night we eventually made it to our favorite place in Vegas, Jean Philippe. With a giant chocolate fountain in the front and chocolate sculptures through out the shop the only thing that could make this place better would be if it had a fainting couch for me to lay in. Last time I was here I ordered one of everything just about, this time I only ordered the Triple Chocolate. It was divine, a mix of white, milk and dark chocolate mousse on top of a flourless cake, wrapped in chocolate and topped with a stick of chocolate fudge, gold leaf and a macaron. Thank goodness this place is in Vegas because I could really make myself sick if it was any closer. My daughter ordered a strawberry gelato and thought it was wonderful. I am not really into fruit desserts, they are a little too healthy for me, but this was very yummy and I would order it again for myself. Finally our love for sweets was fulfilled.
The next morning we were packing up to leave and decided to get some breakfast from Red White and Blue located in our hotel. When I saw their King Kong sized Rice Krispie Treat I couldn't help myself. (This little piggy built her house out of Rice Krispie Treats.) I had to take a picture of it with my phone next to it so you can see how monstrous it was. With a Krispie Treat this big I wasn't expecting it to taste that great it was more of a novelty. I was wrong, it was surprisingly good. Its wasn't gourmet or anything but it tasted as a Krispie Treat should, and they used a nice high quality chocolate to dip it in. I ended up bring it home with us and eating it over the next three days. (Quite the souvenir.)

With only 3 hours of sleep a night and nothing but desserts for meals the trip was a success.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Madison Avenue Cupcakes

I have a lot to write about considering I have been on multi-city sugar tour/vacation. It's going to take me a few days to review all the delicious place I have been to in the last week. I am going to start with this weekend and work my way back to last Thursday. Sunday I made Madison Avenue Cupcakes for Fathers Day. The recipe was inspired by a cake from Michelle Marie Patisserie called Park Avenue. Madison Avenue Cupcakes are chocolate cupcakes filled with caramel and frosted with vanilla butter cream. It's definitely a sugar overload.

Chocolate cupcake:
1 cup milk
1 tsp vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven 350 and prepare muffin tin.
Stir milk and vinegar in bowl of stand mixer, and let stand.
In a separate bowl whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Add to the bowl of milk the sugar, oil, and vanilla beat until foamy.
Add dry ingredients to the wet in two batches until no longer lumpy. (a few small lumps are ok.)
Pour into prepared muffin tin and bake 18-20 minutes.

1/2 cup water
2 cups sugar
1 can condensed sweetened milk
1 cup light corn syrup
12 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla

Combine water, sugar, milk, corn syrup, and butter in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat stirring constantly with silicon spatula.
Continue stirring until syrup reaches 235 or soft ball stage.
Remove from heat. Add salt and vanilla.
Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting:
1 cup shortening
1 cup butter softened
8 cups/1 bag powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup heavy cream or milk

In a bowl of a stand mixer cream shortening and butter
Add powdered sugar and beat until well blended.
On low speed add salt vanilla and cream.
Turn to high and beat until fluffy.


Twist round cookie cutter into center of the cupcake and pull out. Cut the removed cupcake center in half.  Fill center of the cupcake with caramel and place the top half of center back on top of the cupcake. Frost with butter cream.

You may want to make a dental appointment before making these yummy cupcakes, or perhaps next time make a less sugary frosting. :)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Oreo Truffles

I made Birthday Oreo Truffles for a coworker this morning along with more Boston Cream Cupcakes. Oreo Truffles are always a big hit and so easy to make. (My friend made these one year for Christmas and I was hooked, she always makes the easiest and best desserts) This time I tried something new and made a batch with Golden Oreos too. The golden were not very good, but it was worth the try.


 Oreo Truffles

1 package Oreo cookies (Not double stuffed, I grabbed those by accident.)
1 package cream cheese room temperature ( I usually use non-fat, it taste the same just less fattening)
8 oz  white, milk or dark chocolate

1. Crush Oreo cookies in a food processor until fine crumbs

 2. Mix in cream cheese with a rubber spatula until a dough is formed.
3. Roll into small balls and refrigerate for several minutes until firm
4. Dip into melted chocolate and sprinkle

Monday, June 7, 2010

Boston Cream Cupcakes

Not the quickest dessert to make or lowest in fat, but good none the less.

There are 3 separate recipes to make these cupcakes, but you can spread the recipes between two days to make it easier. I have made these before with other recipes but this time I used America's Test Recipe's.

 Pastry Cream
(I halved the recipe)

2 cups half & half
1/2 cup sugar
pinch salt
5 large egg yolks
3 Tbs cornstarch
4 Tbs cold butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Heat half & half and 6 tablespoons of sugar and salt in medium saucepan over medium heat until simmering, stirring occasionally.
2. Meanwhile whisk the egg yolks in medium bowl until combined. Whisk in the remaining 2 Tbs sugar until creamy about 15 seconds. Whisk in cornstarch until combined about 30 seconds
3. When half and half reaches full simmer gradually whisk the half and half into yolk mixture to temper. Return to sauce pan and return to simmer over medium heat whisking constantly until few bubbles burst and mixture is thickened.
4. Off the heat whisk in the butter and vanilla. Press plastic wrap on the surface to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until cold and set, at least 3 hours up to 2 days.

Yellow Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick butter softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1 large egg plus 2 egg yolks at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat 350. Line muffin tin.
2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a standing mixer. Add butter, sour cream, egg, yolks, and vanilla and beat the wet ingredients into the dry on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Stir by hand until smooth and no flour pockets remain.

3. Divide batter into prepared pan. Bake for 20-24 minutes. remove from pan and transfer to cooling rack.

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup chocolate chips

1. In a bowl of a standing mixer add the chocolate chips. In another bowl bring cream to simmer in microwave.
2. Add  cream to chocolate chips and let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth, cover and refrigerate until cool and firm.
3. When cool whip at medium speed until fluffy about 2 minutes.

1. Put Pastry Cream and Ganache Frosting in pastry bags.
2. Scoop out the center of the cupcake with a spoon.
3. Fill with pastry cream then cover in frosting.
4. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.
5. Serve before and extra long workout. :)


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