Thursday, May 31, 2012

Red Velvet B52 Cupcakes

I got super lazy and did not decorate them really, a few blue sprinkles and I was done.  I may have taste tested a little too much boozy frosting.  So you are just lucky I got a picture.  And it is even sort of in focus.  Double win!

  I love thinking up things that I think no one has thought up before. I also like to not google my idea, because more often then naught it's been done before.  I am sure these have been done, in some form, but there is no way I am going to look.  I want to just imagine I am the first ever to do this.  So you know, at least I don't crawl into a hole and cry that I have nothing to call my own in the baking world.

  So these came about when I was walking by the liquor store and thought, I have not been in one in ages.  The last time just before the holidays I had no clue where to even find stuff.  So I went in and looked at all the stuff.  I had wanted to get some Bailey's but the different flavors only came in huge bottles, so I went to the cash and checked out the stuff there.  I found these tiny bottles, about $8 each and thought they would  be good.  I then remembered that a B52 was something I had always liked the sound of, never had one actually, so no idea why I thought of it.  Anyway I googled it and found that I needed amaretto or something, anyway it was an almond flavor so I figured that I could use almond extract.  

This is what I used, and I wasted almost 3/4 of a cup of the stuff when I ruined my first batch of icing.  If I was a drinker I might have cried.  As it was I swore a bit at the waste of money.
  Now I made these with a Red Velvet cupcake, since Pork Chop had been asking me to make him cupcakes for a few days. And he made it very clear he wanted red velvet.  No idea, he is weird.  Usually he is all " I want cupcakes!" So we make them and he decorates them with a million sprinkles, and I even scrape the icing off for him at his request, then he doesn't eat them.  So I was a little leery of making them.

  But I said I would and I did, I made him 4, 1 with frosting and 3 without.  He ended up eating 3 and only leaving one icing free cupcake.  Which is amazing for him.  And I just did plain frosting for him, he is crazy enough without booze, and it might be illegal or something too.

  So to make these I used the same cupcake recipe that I used to make wedding cupcakes.  I did not post the recipe on that post, but here I will. And since this post is going up before the wedding one, it totally works out.  It is an oil based recipe which was weird to me, but everyone who has had them has said they are super moist and really good.  I agree, so this is going to be one of my make again and again things.

This is the oil and sugar, I was really worried at how it would turn out, I had my doubts.
   So I had pinned this recipe on My Baking Addiction a while back.  I had never made red velvet from scratch up to this point.  So maybe they all use oil as a base, I don't know really.  That would require research and I just don't want to do it.  So whatever, this is a great and easy recipe.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
From My Baking Addiction

makes 24 large

Pre heat oven to 350

-2 cups cake flour
-4 TBPS cocoa powder
-1 TSP salt
-1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
-1 1/2 cups sugar
-2 eggs
-2 TSP vanilla bean paste or regular vanilla
-red food coloring as needed*
-1 cup butter milk **
-1 TSP baking soda
-1 1/2 TSP white vinegar

*I used gel paste and just put in enough to get the colour I wanted, I think it was about 1 TSP, but just put in a little at a time to see how much you need

** I make my own by putting about 1 TBSP of white vinegar in a measuring cup then filling it up to the 1 cup line with the milk, then stir and let sit for about 5 minutes

  My Baking Addiction suggested using the wire whisk attachment on your mixer, I tried it with that and the paddle, I think it was just as easy with the paddle.

  Mix the sugar and oil until combined, then mix in the egg.  Slowly add your vanilla then the food colouring until it is a nice dark red.  Have all your dry ingredients sifted together ( except the baking soda) and add half of it, then the buttermilk, then the other half of the dry ingredients.  Mix until just blended.  Then add the vinegar to the baking soda, stir it until the soda dissolves then add it and mix into the batter.  Then fill baking cups and bake for about 15 minutes. Or until a tooth pick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

This is after the food gel was added, it got even darker when I added the dry ingredients due to the cocoa powder.

  I found the batter to be really thin, so I did not use my ice cream scoop as I usually would.  I filled the largest squeeze bottle I had and that worked great.  I managed to spill a bunch of it, as I thought using a measuring cup would be smart.  I probably was smart, I am just not smart enough to do it properly.

This was my super smart idea to fill the bottle and not spill.  I did not take a picture of the table with the huge puddles of batter, that would have given you the idea I am not so smart.

  They bake up nice and fluffy and they are not a dense cupcake like some other recipes I had done, which is fine.  I love a nice dense cupcake, but these were fluffy like a box mix, but moist not dry.  I cannot see this working well for a frosted cake as it would not be very sturdy.  But as a cupcake, it is perfect!

I also took a top view so you would not see the Halloween cupcake liners I used.  They were on sale so I have like 5 million of them.

 So once they were cooled I got to work on my icing.  And I will tell you right now, I had to toss out about 8 cups of icing, all because I am lazy and ruined the first batch.  If you know me you know I usually don't measure, and this can lead to you screwing up.  Usually it is not an issue, if you add too much milk, just add some more sugar to thicken it up.  Too much vanilla, same thing, add more milk and sugar.  But when you are using something very strong like almond extract, which is very alcohol y tasting you have to be careful, which obviously I was not.  So take it from me, if you add to much, just stop and start again.  I kept adding more sugar and booze trying to make it better, it did not work.  Pork Chop nearly lost his mind when he saw me tossing out all the icing.  He was all "What are you doing!" And I was all, the icing went bad, I have to make it again.

  He must never know I am not perfect!

  So this is an easy recipe, you can use more or less booze, you can even use amaretto or whatever it is in a real B52, I was just cheap and this is what I did.  As they were for my co workers and I did not want them to be drunk as they were working.  Although that would have really made for a fun day for me, I used half milk and half booze.

 B52 Frosting
Adapted from me just tossing stuff in a bowl and mixing it and it will cover about 24 cupcakes

-1 cup butter
-2 TBSP vanilla bean paste, or vanilla
-milk as needed
- 1 1/2 TSP almond extract or amaretto as needed
-Irish cream as needed
-Kahlua as needed
-icing sugar as needed
-2 TBSPs cocoa powder

Cream the butter and vanilla until well blended.  If using almond extract blend that in as well. Add the cocoa powder.  Mix together your booze, I did about 1/4 cup of each.  Add the booze to the butter and blend, it will be sort of lumpy.  Add icing sugar and then alternate between icing sugar and milk to get it as thick as you like and as much as you need.  If you want more booze, cut down on the milk and obviously if you want less, use more milk.  You can also get all of the flavorings for this in most baking supply stores.  And be warned that if you only use booze it is strong, but I like that as I don't drink.  What is better than getting drunk off a cupcake? Nothing, that's what!

And again, the post frosting picture.

  So I made 12 for work and they were gone so fast, which is great, because some times things don't go so fast and I think people hate them.  I probably work with a bunch of closet drunks and they don't even realize it.  That's okay as long as they like them.

 And since Pork Chop liked the ones without boozy icing you know I will make these again. And when he is of age, look out!  Boozy cupcakes every day!
The DIY Dreamer

Photobucket HookingupwithHoH Somewhat Simple

Monday, May 28, 2012

Cake Pops 101 and Star Wars Pops

May the Baking Force be with you!
  Hey all this is a post I did for a lovely blogger at Whisked together and thought I would post the full tutorial here since it was my first time working with edible images on cake balls.  They turned out okay, not thrilled, but you know they were cute.

 So here is my cake ball 101 and Star Wars cake balls.

I had Hubby make my cake because I was working.
So I always start the same way, with a cake and a plan.  I use a box mix and canned frosting usually.  My reasoning is that it is easiest and most cost effective.  And I figure I am crumbling it all up so you know, why not.  But you feel free to use whatever kind of cake and frosting you like.  For this I am using a chocolate cake and frosting.

I also usually do my cake balls over a few days. I do this because I am usually making a large amount and I never have a day just for baking.  I work too much don't you know; well at least that is what I tell hubby.

My baking goes like this.
Day 1- bake your cake
Day 2-mix and shape your cake balls, and leave in the fridge
Day 3-decorate your cake balls

Makes it so easy for me to do a little each day, but you will figure out what works for you.

Here is the mix, see how it is like a dough now, that is because I was careful not to add too much icing.
So to start bake your cake and let it cool completely, if you are in a rush just pop the pan in the fridge or freezer.  Once cooled you crumble it up.  Bakerella does it by hand from what I can tell, but I am lazy.  So I crumble it up into my kitchen aid then with the flat paddle just finish crumbling it up.  Then I add frosting by the spoon full until it all comes together.  If you add too much you risk the mix being too soft, and this will cause problems when you try to shape and dip the balls later.
I used a spoon for the first one so my hands would be clean enough to use the camera.  For the rest I just used my hand to scoop out some dough into the fondant cutter I used.
Once you have your mix ready you can shape it however you like.  Traditionally you want a ball of some sort.  I use all different sizes of ice cream scoops, from my tiny itty bitty TSP one, to my large 2 TBSP one.  Just depends on what you want to make.  For the Star Wars cake pops I actually used another technique.  I am sure I am not the first to do this, but I figured it out by myself and thought I was smart.  Feel free to think I am smart too if you like.
Make sure you press it down to make it full and as even as possible.

Then just push the shape out, it should not be too hard to push it out.
So I always work on wax or parchment paper.  I put the cookie cutter I want to use down then fill it with cake ball mix.  I press it down to make it flat then lift the cutter up.  Then I put the shape on a flat pan or cookie sheet covered in wax paper and put it in the fridge for a few hours or the freezer for about 20 minutes.
This is how I put them in the freezer. If they are going to be in there any longer than an hour I wrap the pan in plastic wrap to stop them from drying out.
While the cake balls are cooling get your stuff together.  You will need something to dip your cake balls in and then whatever else you want to decorate them with.  When I do just normal cake balls, I use my favorite chocolate candy melts and either sprinkles or a different color chocolate to drizzle over them.  For these Star wars ones, it will be different but the same.
I set up my dipping station, lots of wax paper gets used in my house.
When dipping a cake ball, I use the candy dipping tools I got at Micheal's, you can use a fork or spoon or whatever feels right. Also only take a few cake balls out of the fridge at a time so they do not get too soft.  Then dip your cake ball, tap off the extra chocolate and put it on a sheet of wax or parchment paper to dry.  Then decorate, if you are using sprinkles I suggest putting them on as you dip the cake balls.
Always dip the stick in melted chocolate that gives it something to stick to the cake pop filling.
If you are doing pops you can do this a few ways.  To have self standing pops, dip the stick you are using in the melts, then put it into the cake ball, dip the ball and set it on the wax paper to dry with the stick facing up.

If you are doing traditional pops, instead of standing the ball up, stand it up with the stick in Styrofoam or a block of some sort.

When you dip, try not to move the pop around too much or bits of it break off making the chocolate all chunky.
For these flat shape pops I just dip the cake pop on the stick, drag some of the chocolate off the back and then just lay it on the wax paper to harden.  I usually leave then for at least 30 minutes, this allows them to come back up to room temperature.  And as they do they may crack.  I am not sure if it is because of the chocolate being hot, or the middles being too cold, or what.  I just know that I end up double dipping mine to cover the cracks, it's easier than trying to figure out why I cannot get a good crack free coating in one go.
And that is how they look once dipped.
So once they are all dipped I let them dry, if you are doing regular cake balls, you don't need to double dip really.  I will used another colour of chocolate and drizzle it over to hide the cracks.  And with regular round cake pops, same thing as these I double dip usually.
And this is how they look as they are drying, some of them are cracking, as as you can see one fell off it's stick.  I always make extra for this very reason.

See the crack, you are going to cover it in chocolate then the image.

While the cake pops are drying I get my decorations all set up.  Depending on what you plan to do you get it all set. This was my first time making cake pops with pictures on them.  As I was going to cover them I did not need to double dip to cover the cracks.  So I started by getting Hubby to put some pictures together for me.  Since our computer at home is broken he just got them printed out on regular paper.  Then we scanned them on my edible printer and printed them out.  If I was smart I would have cut them out and put them all on one page to save the icing paper.  But I am not smart and do not think of these things until after the fact.  

This is the icing sheet, you can see part of the fondant cutter.  It is just like a paper cutter, just cooler.
To start I cut out my pictures, I have a fondant cutter from Wilton, I never used it before, but it worked great.  You just have to push on the blade a bit, but it was much faster than trying to cut it all out with scissors.  Then I put them in a baggy so they would not dry out.  The paper dries out so fast!
I keep them in a baggy so they don't dry out.
As this was my first time doing this I was not sure if I should use melted chocolate or maybe corn syrup to attach the image.  I tried the melted chocolate and it worked great.  It also made it easy to fill in all the cracks with chocolate.  So I just used a pastry brush and brushed on the chocolate then stuck on the image. You need to make sure your hands are clean  and dry, as you need to press the image out to make it stick and wet hands will tear the paper.
I used the left over chocolate to brush on and stick the pictures to.
So once the images were all on, I went back and painted the rest of the pop and dipped it in white decorating sugar.  This allowed me to cover all the rest of the cracks and sparkle up the pops.
Don't worry too much about the edged, they will be covered in sugar later.

It is hard to see but there is coarse white sugar all over the sides and back of the pops.
When I was all done I put them in little sucker bags and tied them with ribbon.  I also curled the ribbon.  Something I never do when just giving my treats to friends.  This was for a party so that is why I got all fancy don't you know.
And here they are all wrapped up and ready to go.  I do not put them in the fridge as they will get condensation on them and make the pictures bleed.
So have fun, and remember there are so many ideas on line, just google for what you want and chances are you will find something.  And if you want to do images but not buy a printer you can usually get them at your local bakery by the sheet.  I think my printer has been one of the funnest things ever.  Also my kid loves to eat the paper I don't use, so you know there is that too.

Hope this has given some of you some ideas and maybe even the push to try it out yourself. Skip To My Lou

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Iced Coffee, Pioneer Woman Style

This is the jug I keep in the fridge to just use as I like, it is nice and thin so it doesn't take up too much space.  It also was the last one in the store and it was missing the lid, so I got a discount and used one I had.
  So I never ever liked coffee.  It's just something I couldn't get into.  I sort of dislike all hot drinks, I mean sure I would drink a hot chocolate now and then, but I didn't really enjoy it.  I tried to get into tea, I mean I bought a butt load of it and even got a tea press in Disney.  But to no avail, I could not drink the hot stuff.  I sort of get this flushed sick feeling drinking hot things, so I must be weird or something.  I blame my parents, who else can I blame really?

  Then one day it all changed. Sort of.

  Hubby and I had taken Pork Chop to the Beach ( or is it Beaches now? Darn Toronto changes things so much)  Anyway we were there and it was getting late and Hubby was so tired, I said I would drive the 40 minutes or so home but I needed some caffeine.  Now I had to give up any sort of pop before my gastric bypass and to this day I still do not drink it, so I gave in and went into Starbucks.  I asked for something with coffee, no sugar and lots of caffeine, oh and it had to be cold and not carbonated.  The sweet lady suggested an iced coffee.  And I was hooked ever since.  Ask Hubby,  now both Pork Chop and I beg to go to Tim Horton's.  Pork Chop could eat his weight in chocolate Tim bits, which I guess should make me mad since he won't eat my baking usually.  Anyway, I was addicted.
This is all you need, notice the blue card Pork Chop made for Hubby.  There was nothing for me, but you know he still likes me right?

  So this was in the fall, and I was loving it and thinking of ways to make it cheaper at home.  I bought instant coffee and it was gross, I tried the cappuccino powder that you just add water to,and it was gross.  I was paying a lot for my Tim's addiction.  So I did what every other sane woman does, I googled it.  And I came across this!  I knew it was fate. Pioneer woman has some great stuff, trust me.

I just use the whole can of coffee at one time, this is a 4 quart container I think, and I got it just for my coffee.
  At this time it was about to be the holidays, and Hubby was all ready to get me something amazing and I was cutting off every idea he had.  He even went so far as to send me all these links to single serve coffee makers that made iced coffee.  But they were the pod ones and I hated the idea of having to buy the pods. I had been looking for a cheap brewing coffee pot, as we had given ours away as we had only used it once in our marriage up to that point.  Hubby even picked one out, and as with all things I told him no, I had better plans!  Because I always have to ruin his fun.
I think this looks so gross, but figured my post would not be complete without it; and the back ground of my super messy counter.
 So I read what Rea had written, went out and got a large container that I could use just for this, one for my fridge to keep my stuff in and a can of Tim Horton's coffee.  I got home and set to work, I even weighed out my coffee like Rea, as she uses good stuff and I just got what I knew.
So this sits on my counter for 24 hours, in that time the tutor was in my home.  Wonder what he thought it was.
  So I panicked because she said to let it set for at least 8 hours, which to me meant 8 hours only.  And I work and don't have time to time this stuff.  So I did what I could, mixed it up before bed and the next day after work strained it out.  Now I am not sure if it was done too long or what, but I found the taste different than the one at the store.  I need an insider to tell me how they do it! 
Another shot of my messy counter, but this is how I do it, a large strainer and a bowl.

I line the strainer with paper towel, I end up having to switch it out twice while I strain it all.
  Anyway, after some fiddling I found if I added some water to it then the ice and cream and sweetener it would be perfect!  So there you go, I had it all set. I find now that I use the whole can in the 4 quart bin filled with cold water.  Then I leave it, for about 24 hours.  While I strain it I add about 50-75% more water and it is almost perfect!
I know, gross if you don't know what it is.

I put it in a measuring cup then add about 50-75% more water then put it into the container. 
 I still admit to hitting Tim Horton's when we are out and about, and I have to be very clear that they not add any flavor syrup, that stuff causes me to get very sick and have "issues" if you know what I mean.  If you don't then google "affects of sugar alcohols on bowels"  and then just imagine it way worse because I have had gastric by pass.  The people at Tim's give you the look when you ask like 5 times if they put the syrup in, but a few times they have and I have not realized until I have taken a good long drink, then spent the next hour or so in pain.
Way cheaper than Tim's, but not as convenient when you are not home, if you know what I mean. And I just realized there is a Mcdonalds iced coffee in this picture too.  I had to have something to drink while I made my own.
  So there you have it, how I am amazing, became addicted to iced coffee ( which I am not supposed to have too much caffeine after my bypass, bad bad me) and managed to ruin Hubbies Christmas gift idea, again, and saved some money.  I know, it's amazing right?  And now I will get back to what I know, baking and sugar and stuff.
Photobucket Somewhat Simple I'm Lovin' It at TidyMom