On a whim, I took a cupcake decorating class, and was hooked!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Long time no post!

I have been doing the baking thing, but not so much the taking-pictures and posting-to-blog thing.  I've been making cupcakes, for the most part, but also cookies of various kinds.  I especially enjoyed the oatmeal-craisin-raisin-walnut cookies from a recipe I found on the internet somewhere, but neglected to note the website.  I just cut the raisins back and added low-sugar craisins.  I think it came out to be over a cup of raisiny things, but who's counting?

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1  cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1  cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2  cup granulated sugar
2  eggs
1  teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2  cups all-purpose flour
1  teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1  teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2  teaspoon salt
3  cups oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1  cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Cream butter and sugars in a mixer until creamy, approximately 3 minutes.  Add eggs and vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes.  Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt and continue to mix until the dough has come together.  Add oats and raisins/nuts until mix until raisins are distributed.  Drop by rounded tablespoons or cookie scoop onto cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes or until edges are golden brown.  Remove from oven and allow the cookies to remain on cookie sheet for 3 minutes before moving to a cooling rack. 
I also made a batch of pumpkin cookies that my Aunt Wanda (see beginning post!) used to make at Christmas time.  I love making those cookies, and they're so tasty.  Rounded off cookie land with some chocolate chip and sea-salt cookies from Alice's recipe.  Fantastic, as always!  
In cupcake land, I've been so enthralled with Scharffen Berger cocoa powder that I've been making yellow cake cupcakes and chocolate buttercream out the wazoo.  I can't get over how fantastic this cocoa is, and I've ordered this through "Subscribe and Save" at Amazon for quarterly deliveries.  The rich chocolate flavor can't be beat, and I've discovered that the cocoa is made in the USA!  Pretty awesome.
I'm also pretty sure I've discovered why my cupcake liners flop open sometimes.  I think it's because I may be leaving them in the pan too long.  I'm going to try cooling them in the pan for just a couple minutes, then removing them from the pan and cooling the rest of the way on the wire rack.  I think that will do the trick!  The only problem is to keep the cats from eating the cupcakes while they're cooling.  I wish I were kidding!
Next step, I think, will be to hollow out the cupcake and fill it with chocolate, then put chocolate icing on top.  Or is that too much chocolate, do you think?  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Donated cookies

I made a double batch of Alice's Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies and sent them as a donation for a fund raiser happening weekend after this.  It's for Dexter's Birthday Bash, an event benefiting Cavalier Rescue, USA.  I can't go in person this year, but look forward to being able to attend in person next year.  Tonya gave a thumbs-up on the cookies, of course.  Alice knows her shit!

Monday, August 6, 2012


I am baking!  I don't think my shoulder/elbow unit is up to piping icing, so I'm making cookies instead of cupcakes.

I am making The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe EVER from Alice's Savory Sweet Life cookbook.  Man, are these cookies yummy!  The sea salt kind of "grows them up" a little bit.  Definitely going to do this one again, cause DAMN.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Carrot cake redux

I made another batch of carrot cake cupcakes last weekend, and gave them to my house painters.  Look - didn't they do a great job?

I've got one more weekend before my surgery on Monday, and would like to bake something.  Maybe these chocolate chip cookies from the Savory Sweet Life cookbook?  Not sure how my shoulder will be feeling this weekend, but I'll keep you posted.  :-)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Second time on the carrot cake!

The first batch of carrot cupcakes was so horrific I almost didn't even try a second attempt.  However, I promised Jon of Jon's Painting a dozen cupcakes of his choice, for giving me such a fantastic price for painting my house.  He chose carrot cake, so I searched online for a recipe that had good reviews.

And Google came to the rescue, as always, with this recipe for The Best Ever Carrot Cake Cupcakes.  I made them today, with hand-crushed pineapple (Thanks, Sweetheart!) and walnuts instead of pecans.  The recipe made about 30 cupcakes, and they came out very well, says my husband.  Whew!!  So I made up a double batch of cream cheese icing (2 blocks Philly, 3 pounds or so sifted powdered sugar, bunch of vanilla) and iced them up.  Stepson gave a thumbs up, so I think we're good to go.

I've got these ones in the fridge.  It's HOT here today, and I just don't think that cream cheese icing has the same ability to be stiff and fluffy that buttercream does.  Maybe THAT's why the cream cheese icing recipes always call for a little bit of butter, too.  I leave the butter out usually, but maybe next time I'll try putting the butter in.  It seemed to work very well in the lemon cream cheese icing, but I wanted it there to creamy up the lemon flavor a bit.  Hm.  Let's try, oh, I dunno, actually following a recipe and see what happens!

And while we're on the Philly recipe page, please join me in a SQUEEEEEE, 'cause, damn:

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon-Cream Cheese Frosting

I want to make these, DESPERATELY,  but I don't know if I'll have time before my surgery on June 25.  I have only 2 weekends between now and then, and I've got to get my house in order.  We'll see!

PS:  Alice's cookbook is out!!  And for a $2.50 upcharge, you can pre-order the Kindle version.  It might go OK on my Kindle Fire, but I am not sure enough to buy that version.  I think I'll stick with the dead-tree version!

Lesson Learned:  Recipes don't always know what they're talking about (witness the first carrot cupcake debacle), but it might be advisable to try following them before deciding to change them up.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Cupcakes from scratch

I'm making my first batch of cupcakes from a recipe today!  They're low-fat carrot cake cupcakes from Crazy About Cupcakes by Krystina Castella.  And I'm going to make a double-batch of non-low-fat cream cheese icing to top them off.  The recipe looks very simple, I've just bought the ingredients I didn't have on hand, and I'm getting ready to get started.  Stand by for a review and pictures.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Lemon cupcakes being mailed

I made a really nice batch of lemon cupcakes today, with more lemon creamcheese icing.  I used the same recipe as last time, only this time I actually followed the recipe for the most part.  1 block of Philly, half a stick of butter, 2 tablespoons of fresh-squeezed lemon juice, 2 teaspoons (actually, closer to three) of lemon zest, and a heaping teaspoon of Madagascar Bourbon vanilla extract.  Oh, yeah - and a bunch of powdered sugar to make it work.  :-)

I put mini cupcakes in Ball jars, then pipe on a LIBERAL layer of icing, then another cupcake and more icing, then this time I sprinkled the top with the vanilla sanding sugar I mentioned in my last lemony post.  Then put the lids and bands on the jars and we're ready to pack them up for mailing.

A batch of icing is *supposed* to be enough for 48 mini cupcakes, or 24 regular ones.  HAH!  I scoff at that.  When I make cupcake in a jar, it gets at least twice as much icing as a regular cupcake.  So a whole batch of icing is enough for 16-20 mini cupcakes.  NOM!!  Cupcakes are merely an icing delivery mechanism.  People look at you funny if you walk around eating icing by the spoonful, but they're merely consumed with jealousy if you've got cupcakes and they don't.

Half a dozen of these jars are going to Rebecca in North Carolina, and four are going to Lesli in Florida.  I'll mail them on Sunday if I can make it out to the airport post office.  

I've got plenty of cupcakes left over, looking for a home.  Gretchen and her folks will likely get some, too.  :-)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How much? Really?? Ummm...

I took the box of cupcakes in a jar to my local post office branch on Monday after work to mail it off to my friend Kim in Canada.  It turns out that one box containing a greeting card, some styrofoam packing piffles, and six 8-oz canning jars filled with cupcakes-n-icing costs

THIRTY SIX American Dollars

to mail to Canada.  EEEEEEK!

After I picked myself off the floor, I asked the helpful post office worker WTF?  He said that if I could get the box under four pounds, it would likely cut the price in half.  So I asked him for a pair of scissors and proceeded right there to open the box and remove two of the cupcake jars.  He put the box on the scale, and the postage had gone down to a WAY more manageable $16.

I asked the lady behind me if she wanted one of the cupcake jars, and she was delighted to take it.  Gave me a buck to help defray postage, too!  What a nice lady!  And I gave the other cupcake jar to the post office counter man.  His son doesn't like chocolate, either, just like my friend Kim!  So he was happy to have a nice treat to take home for him. 

Mission Accomplished!  The cupcakes are on the way to Canada, eh?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Now, we're talking!

After I finished putting cupcakes in a jar for my friend Kim, I had a bunch of cupcakes left over.  And for me, it's all about the chocolate!  So I made a batch of chocolate buttercream and went to town on the rest of the cupcakes.

This batch of cupcakes in a jar went home with my friend Lori.  It's so nice to have someone who appreciates cupcakes!

Don't they look yummy?

And I've still got a whole bunch left over, too.  I'll send some home with Gretchen, maybe.

The chocolate icing is just SO YUM.

I have a batch of lemon cream cheese icing in the fridge, for Rebecca's batch of lemon cupcakes.  I hope to be able to mail those to her next weekend!

Cupcakes, eh?

My friend Kim in Canada doesn't like chocolate, poor dear, so she requested white cake with white icing.  I'm not sure what 'white' icing is, so I made vanilla buttercream, and layered it in the cupcakes-in-a-jar.  Look how cute!

I'm going to box these up all snug and safe and secure, then will mail to Canada.  I hope to be able to take them to the post office Sunday.  WAIT - do I have her current address?  Eeeeek!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Lemon cupcakes with lemon cream cheese icing. YUM!

Cupcakes on a weeknight?  Absolutely!

The box of Betty Crocker lemon cake has been blowing raspberries at me from the pantry shelf for some weeks.  I've been wanting to make lemon cupcakes and either lemon or lime cream cheese icing, but just have not had the time.  Today?  Time!  (So happy to be done with schoolwork for now!)

I actually made 48 mini cupcakes and 8 regular ones.  I don't like to fill up the cupcake liners too much, and if there's a muffin top when it's done baking, that's too much!  It's easier to pick up if the cake part stays in the liner, so I only fill about halfway up with cake batter.

The icing recipe is from AllRecipes.com and got a lot of positive reviews.  I adjusted it somewhat: I left out the butter and used 2 blocks of Philly, and we ran out of lemons to zest before we got to 4 teaspoons, so it got lemon juice, some lemon zest, and not quite a teaspoon of lemon extract instead of the vanilla.  I usually like a firmer icing, but stopped adding sugar while this one was still on the creamy side.

I used my #1 favorite 1M tip and then sprinkled the first 35 with yellow Cake Sparkles.  The other ones that didn't fit into the pan for delivery to work were sprinkled with vanilla sanding sugar and that was surprisingly yummy!  I made Gretchen eat the first one, but we are in agreement that the vanilla smooths out the bright lemon flavor very well indeed. 

The ones in the picture above are going to work tomorrow, and the ones that didn't fit into that pan are being divided up!  Some are going to Gretchen's folks, and I'm sure my darling husband will want one or two, and Gretchen might want to take a couple home, too.  Free cupcakes to good home!

Lessons learned:  Keep the butter in next time, and possibly add the vanilla, too.  Also, get more lemons!!  I don't know how much zest comes off of each lemon, but it isn't very darn much.

Nefarious plans for the future:  I want one of those peeler thingies that makes tiny little citrus peel curls so that I can do this.  And I want a microplane too.  Too much of that precious zest was lost in the knucklebuster.  Wooo!  Wouldn't candied lemon or lime peels be a fantastic addition to the top of a lemon cupcake?? 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


The only name I've mentioned in this blog more than Moaning Myrtle, my KitchenAid, is Alice, of Savory Sweet Life.  I haven't done much in the way of kitcheny things, but Alice made it seem so possible for me to make my first batch of buttercream icing!  I love how Alice blogs recipes and techniques to make baking something that even I can do.  And I'm so excited that Alice's book is coming out in June!

I have been excited about books before.  I have met the postman on my porch and scurried off to read the new Harry Potter book.  I have gone to Cincinnati to have a book signed my Laurell K Hamilton before her Anita Blake series jumped the shark a few installments ago.  I have release dates in my calendar for favorite authors' new books on a fairly regular basis, and I snap them up on my Kindle and devour them.

But NEVER have I been worked up over a cookbook.


So I'm sharing the momentousness of that on my blog!  Alice has a cookbook coming out, and I want it!!  And I'll even go to her book signing, if there's one in driving distance and if I'm able to get someone to drive me.  I'll likely be in a sling and not allowed to drive by the time Alice takes her tour to the Midwest. 

I'm excited!  Over a COOKBOOK!  Go figure.  :-)

I'm a fangirl. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Light at the end of the tunnel!

Whew!  The first class in my MBA is almost over.  I have a paper to finish, and an evaluation on my team.  That's it, and everything is due day after tomorrow.  The team evaluation is already done, and we were all awesome, I must say!  And I'll bet you a shiny new quarter that I can get this paper done after work on Friday.  Do you know what that would mean?

A WEEKEND.  With no classwork.  What a concept!!

And maybe I'll get to bake some cupcakes?  Or maybe I'll just sleep all weekend.  The luxury!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Savory Cupcakes?

My tablemates at the VOICEcorps annual volunteer banquet got me to wondering about savory cupcakes.  I found this recipe on reddit, for Sweet Basil and Olive Oil cupcakes.  Hmmm.

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tsp finely grated orange zest
  • 3 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups self rising flour
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
Creamy basil icing (frosting)
  • 3 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 90 g unsalted butter, softened (but not too softened, as I learned..)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp natural vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped basil, plus small basil leaves to decorate
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 18 standard muffin holes with paper cases.
Whisk the eggs and sugar in a large bowl until well combined. Add the orange and lemon zests, then stir in the olive oil. Stir in the sifted flour alternately with the milk and orange juice. Stir the mixture gently for 30 seconds with a wooden spoon.

Divide the mixture evenly among the cases. Bake for 15 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

To make the icing, place half the icing sugar, butter, milk, vanilla and chopped basil in large mixing bowl and beat with electric beaters until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the remaining icing sugar until the icing is thick. Decorate each cake with the icing and a small basil leaf.

EDIT: recipe from a book called Cupcakes: a fine selection of sweet treats by Murdoch Books