My 1st Smash Cake!

I was thrilled to make my 1st smash cake for a photo shoot at the Miranda D Photography studio today! She takes such lovely photos of the littles and its an honor to have one of my sweet treats make an appearance in her work. I can’t wait to see how the photos turned out of the baby tearing up this cake to celebrate her 1st birthday. For now, I’m crossing my fingers that this little cutie was just as photogenic. πŸ™‚

Thanks for having me, Miranda β€” can’t wait to visit your studio again!

Go check out Miranda’s work at www.mirandadphotography.com.

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Sweet Treats: Cookie Butter Truffles

photo(11)I had the honor and privilege of manning my uber-talented friend’s boutique, Fox & Moon Clothing, on Sunday while she took some much needed time off to enjoy a music festival. I decided to promote a little treat as a “free gift with purchase” as an incentive to bring new peeps into the shop (Actually, it was just an excuse to get back in the kitchen and make something fun, since this summer has been so insane). I had limited time and funds available for the project, so when I came across this Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter Truffle recipe, it seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

I ended up tweaking the recipe a teensy bit, and I used milk chocolate instead ’cause I think it tasted better (you can absolutely use dark chocolate if you wish). I like to make them a little smaller so they end up as a perfect one-bite kind of treat. You should totally make some.


photo(7)Cookie Butter Truffles (a variation on Pint Sized Baker‘s recipe)

Three ingredients:

  • 2 cups Trader Joe’s Cat Cookies
  • 3/4 cup Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter
  • Milk Chocolate Chips

Directions:

  1. Throw the cookies in your food processor or blender and grind ’em up until they’ve turned into crumbs. Set aside. Take another handful or two, grind coarsely and reserve for the truffle toppings.
  2. Mix cookie crumbs and cookie butter together in a medium sized bowl until they’re combined. (Use your hands and really get in there to mix it) Texture should be grainy, but able to form a ball and hold. If ball won’t hold, add a tad more cookie butter.
  3. Lay the balls out on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Put them in the fridge or freezer to let them set up.
  4. Once balls feel firm (but not rock hard), melt chocolate and dip the balls. Return dipped balls to lined cookie sheet and sprinkle with reserved cookie crumbs.
  5. Wait for chocolate to cool and harden. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Anybody can make these little guys. Anybody.

Heads up: If you’ve never tried cookie butter, don’t expect cookie dough. Big difference. Cookie butter tastes like gingerbread, and its made with European style biscuits, so it’s not like chocolate chip cookie dough at all. It’s important to make that clear.

Once you get over that, you will love cookie butter! Mixed with the cat cookies, you get a crunchier more textured filling inside than you would with a usual truffle. Throw those babies in some mini cupcake/candy liners, and you’ll complete the sweet, confectionery look!

Sweet Treats: “Manly” Cupcakes and others inspired by Pie!

One of my dear friends turned 40 last night, and his awesome wife threw him a little “semi”-surprise party on a Tuesday night to celebrate. Although it ended up being a FANTASTIC gathering β€” it was a little bit, um … spur of the moment. So when she asked me to make cupcakes, I had to get things together pretty fast.

This crew is quite a group of beer aficionados, so right away I knew I wanted to make some sort of beer cupcake. And when I found out his favorite dessert was southern-style Banana Pudding with Vanilla Wafers, I knew I had to incorporate that in, too. So … drum roll please: these are the creations I came up with!

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These cupcakes were very manly β€” and freaking tasty, too. I’m not even a beer drinker, and I thought these were some of the most chocolatey, moist and delicious cupcakes I’ve ever eaten! The cake not only has a Chocolate Porter infused into the mix, but it has mini chocolate chips as well, which melted inside when baked and really kept the cake nice and gooey. As for toppings, I used crushed chocolate covered pretzels, ’cause really β€” what goes better with beer than pretzels?

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Want to make your own, but short on time like I was? It’s OK – you can use a box mix! I found this easy recipe from Duncan Hines and made some tweaks to it, and it was fantastic. I also used a Chocolate Porter instead of the Guinness Stout. And seriously – if you are in a time crunch, don’t feel guilty about using a box, just make sure if you are using one, its Duncan Hines.

Make your own!

Cake:

  • 1 (18.25 oz) box dark chocolate cake mix
  • 1 (12 oz) Guinness Extra Stout (or Chocolate Porter)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup mini-chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Place cake mix, beer, oil and eggs into a large bowl and mix together. Fold the chocolate chips into the batter. Fill cupcake liners 1/2 full. Bake 18-22 minutes or until cupcakes spring back when lightly pressed with finger. Cool on racks.

I also borrowed from this awesome post on the Bake at 350 blog when it came to styling them. Like she says, keep them manly – don’t use piping or swirls. And she topped them with the chocolate covered pretzels, which was pure genius.

You can use her recipe for beer frosting too on the post, or you can cheat like I did and use cream cheese frosting. It was a hit.

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The Banana Cream Cupcakes were also a cheat. I used Duncan Hines Yellow Cake mix, and made the cupcakes according to the package directions. Then, I used a cupcake corer to remove the middles and I filled them with Banana Pudding and Pie Filling. Use your favorite vanilla icing to frost them. Then, I smashed ‘Nilla Wafers to sprinkle the tops with and stuck a whole one right on top. Let me tell you, I can say with confidence these were the yummiest cupcakes I’ve ever made.

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Special Treats: Surprise for Mamas!

I sure am lucky to have a lot of mama friends in my life, and when new babies are born, I like to make “special” cookies, just for mamas. I found this special recipe after I had my daughter and they helped me, so I like to make them for moms who might want a little help, too.

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I made a batch yesterday and wanted to make a few surprise deliveries. My packaging supplies are a little tapped out lately, so I threw together these bags with stuff I already had. It’s super easy, and it’s not hard to do!

Here’s what you’ll need:

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1. Cardstock/Scrapbook Paper Stack; prices vary by brand and store / 2. Scalloped edge scissors; $3.95 / 3. X-Large Circle squeeze punch, $17.99 / 4. Plain brown paper lunch sacks, Prices vary by store

Simply choose whatever paper you’d like to use, cut the same width as the bag. Fold bag down, and fold paper over the bag fold. Punch holes through bag and paper and tie with ribbon or wraphia. Embellish using craft punches, scalloped scissors or whatever you have on hand!

If you’d like to make your own cookies for a nursing momma, check the recipe! Have fun surprising someone, too!

An epic birthday calls for an epic cake

Today is Mr. Four-Eyed Girlie’s 40th birthday. We had a party to celebrate his magnificent self last night (he really is the best) and I made a ginormous surprise birthday cake for him.

I could go into all the details of how I brainstormed with my parents after I was inspired by this cake. Or, I could elaborate on my dad’s brilliant idea to use petit fours icing to coat the “40” shaped cake, rather than try to frost it (and my mom found this delicious recipe for petit fours icing using white chocolate – yum!). Or, I could talk even more about how we spent the whole day putting it together and how my dad, AKA Mr. Precision, cut all those fondant Star Trek emblems for my cupcakes. But, sometimes you have to stop trying to document every moment β€” sometimes it hits the spot to just focus on having fun with it and do the best you can.

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I really wanted to surprise my husband. Never in a million years did he think I’d indulge his love for Star Trek with a cake. My parents have enjoyed being a cake making team for years and their enthusiasm has definitely rubbed off on me. Having them work with me and teach me was so fun, and the experience is what really ended up being the biggest gift.Β  Oh, and my husband got a surprise made with love from not just me, but my parents as well. πŸ™‚

So while I may not be the next Cake Boss, this came from the heart! Happy Birthday to the best husband ever – and a big thanks to my amazing mom and dad!

Sweet Treats: Carrot Cake Fudge

Truth be told, one of the things I love most about this time of year are all those adorable, pastel-colored Easter candies that float around alongside smiling bunny rabbits and super-cute baby chicks. The candy is totally my downfall … I love Cadbury Creme Eggs, Reeses Peanut Butter Eggs, and of course the old-school Easter favorite: Peeps.

It only seemed right to make candy for Easter this year, but because there’s usually such chocolate overload, I wanted to find a chocolate alternative. Then I came across this recipe for Carrot Cake Fudge and I knew I had to make it.

If you’re a fan of Carrot Cake, you’re definitely a fan of this Carrot Cake Fudge. It’s got a thick bottom layer of Carrot Cake flavor, and it’s even topped with a thin layer of Cream Cheese fudge. Yep β€”Β that means very rich and decadent. The original recipe called for Carrot Cake M&M’s, but since I never found any, I settled on Reese’s Pieces. I like the way the small bit of peanut butter pairs with the fudge.

Because I was feeling very confectionery, I decided to go old-school and wrap up the fudge in wax paper. I couldn’t seem to stop there, so I made a little “belt” for the wrapper out of various scrapbook papers I had available, and tied it up with a simple tag and wraphia.

Want to make your own? Follow the link for the recipe. Happy Easter!

Christmas Goodies: Old Fashioned Fudge

Everybody who knows me knows that I enjoy a retro slant to almost anything. Hair styles, clothing, music, imagery … yeah, everything. So this year, I stayed true to form and decided to make some old-fashioned fudge to give away during the holidays, because you know there’s nothing more “retro” than that.

Milk Chocolate Fudge w/Candy Holly Sprinkles

White Chocolate Peppermint Fudge

Fantasy Fudge with Chopped Walnuts

There’s a reason fudge has always been such a traditional favorite to give as gifts for the holidays. First off, it’s so easy to make! Seriously, it doesn’t take a lot of time, and the biggest thing you’ve got to worry about is not burning your chocolate. It’s also not very expensive β€” most recipes yield quite a bit, and because a little piece of fudge goes a long way, you’ve got lots to give out.

It took hardly any time to make the three varieties I selected. Once you get it all together and pour, you’re pretty much finished. And with so many ways to cut and embellish the fudge, it can look festive without being too labor-intensive, too!

The 1st fudge I chose to make was Martha Stewart’s Foolproof Holiday Fudge. You don’t even need a candy thermometer (see, I told you it’s easy!). I personally think Milk Chocolate tastes better than semi-sweet, and because I wasn’t going to add nuts or anything to this batch, I especially wanted to use real milk chocolate. I used the same recipe to make the White Chocolate Peppermint Fudge as well, and simply substituted peppermint mini-marshmallows for the regular ones (and of course, I used white chocolate).

The third batch of fudge I made was the tried-and-true Fantasy Fudge recipe, also the same as Mamie Eisenhower’s Million Dollar Fudge (AKA White House Fudge), which is completely old-school and retro as it gets!

Sorry Martha β€” as much as I love you, Mamie wins with this one. This fudge was perfection. Martha’s is tasty, but a little different in texture. I loved it, but Mamie’s is exactly what you expect fudge to taste like. It’s dense, rich, chocolate-y and absolutely requires walnuts. I decided to lightly sprinkle the fudge with Christmas-colored nonpareils, to keep things looking cute. Thanks to Martha, I got the idea to cut my fudge into circular pieces with a fondant cutter β€” they fit better in the cute mini-treat cups when they’re cut that way, and there’s just something about the round pieces that make them look a little fancier.

Bring the retro back and surprise your friends and neighbors with a sweet little box of holiday fudge. They’ll love it!