Rubber Ducky You’re the One…

Baking, DIY, Sweets

..making chocolate so much fun.  Okay so that might not be the right words but this past week they made my cupcakes absolutely adorable.  My cousin’s are both pregnant and our family decided to throw them a joint baby shower two weeks ago.





I love baking so I decided to bake something special for them.  I made vanilla cupcakes with baby blue butter cream icing.





The design I was going for did not come out right since I never took into account how hot and humid it was going to be that weekend.  Let me just say that my adorable duckies that were supposed to bring the design together became nothing but pool of chocolate and icing. Complete and utter failure but still delicious.




The duckies were easy to make and if I can make them in my first attempt you can too.  You will need to purchase a candy mold, candy melts, oil base food coloring for added color, and something to stir them with. Once you have your materials then you’re ready to begin.  Follow the directions on the mold.  Clean the mold. Dry it.  Melt the candy melts in the microwave (or in my case melt the chocolate in a double broiler).  Pour the melted chocolate into the molds and let it set in the refrigerator.  So those were basically the instructions that came with the mold.  What I learned along the way was that if you work with chocolate you need to have a candy thermometer handy.  It turns out that chocolate is sensitive and one needs to learn how to temper it correctly.  Since I used Ghirardelli chocolate for my duckies I found it useful to read what they had to say about melting it correctly.  Let me just tell you that I found it easier to work with white chocolate rather than milk chocolate.  To get the different colors on the duckies I mixed the colors in a separate bowl and added them first to the mold then on top of those colors I added the color yellow.  I used a long pick but you can use special brushes they have at the craft store for this specific task.  It was so easy to make especially if you have a microwave where you can melt the candy and then just pour.  I hope you guys have fun making your own designs.


I really enjoyed making these and I can’t wait to try other molds.  Next time I’ll make sure to check the weather report before hand.

Have you guys ever worked with chocolate before or attempted anything with candy molds? 

Argroves Manor Coffee Cake (Cake 7)

Baking, Cakes, Sweets

I’m going to begin by saying that this has been my least favorite cake so far.  

Things new to me: 
Stewing fruit  

What I learned from baking this cake:
When it looks like you’re mixing in too much fruit with the batter it probably is too much, I learned that the hard way. 

Like I said before I really didn’t care for this cake and neither did my hubby.  I think that the taste was affected by the amount of fruit it called for.  It made the cake soggy since everything sank to the bottom.  I was hoping that this blueberry cake would be tastier but I was disappointed. I didn’t share this cake with any of my family or friends since I did’t like it

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Sweets: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Baking, Cookies, Sweets

Once a month I try to bake something for my hubby and his co-workers especially on those days when I know they have a deadline. I’m all about rewarding their hard work.  I realized last year that if I was going to be sending baked goods to work with my hubby it needed to be something that required little effort for him to distribute.  I decided that cupcakes and cookies work better in an office setting since they don’t require plates, silverware, or any cutting.


My hubby’s favorite cookies are chocolate chip so this week I made him a batch from a new recipe I found.  My hubby loves my default recipe but I’m still on a quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie so I’m try new ones.  Along with the perfect recipe I’m also reading up on different techniques that might help my cookie overall.  I have found out that letting the batter rest at least 24 hours before you bake it helps to create a chewier cookie.


Here is the recipe I used:

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

INGREDIENTS

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces) 
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks (I used a mixture of milk, white, and semisweet chocolate chips)
3/4 cup chopped pecan or walnuts, toasted (optional) (I didn’t use the nuts)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. 1. Place the rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Whisk flour and baking soda together in a bowl and put it  aside for later.
  2. 2. Heat 10 out of the 14 tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium-high heat until its melted. Stir the butter with a wooden spoon constantly until butter is dark golden brown but don’t burn it.  Take the skillet off the stove and pour butter into a heatproof bowl. Stir the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter into the hot butter until completely melted.
  3. 3. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until completely mixed. Add egg and yolk one at a time whisk until mixture is smooth with no lumps.  Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. (I know it sounds lame but seriously make sure you give the batter time to rest.)  Stir in flour mixture for about a minute until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using) but don’t over mix.
  4. 4. Cover batter and let it rest for at least 24 hours in the refrigerator.


    5. Spoon out about 3 inch balls unto cookie trays and bake 1 tray at a time for about 10-12 minutes.  I baked mine for 10 minutes and turned the tray 1/2 way through the baking process.  Bake until the cookies are golden brown and still partly soft in the middle.


    6.  Let them cool before serving but not completely because they are yummier warm.  Share with a loved one and with a nice cold glass of milk.


    Adapted from Cooks Illustrated.


    This recipe came out great and the cookies themselves came out perfectly.  The consistency of the cookies were a tad crunchy on the outside and chewy in the inside.   My hubby’s co-workers devoured the cookies and were asking for more.  I suggest you take a look at the original recipe because they give you great tips on how to make the perfect cookie.

    What’s your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe?    
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The Barefoot Contessa’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake…(Cake 6)

Baking, Cakes, Sweets

When I read that I was going to be making a cake from the Barefoot Contessa I got giddy!  Ina Garden does an amazing job on her cooking show that I couldn’t wait to try her recipe.  



Things new to me:
Cake Flour (I had used it previously in another cake but I’m still learning about it)
Real Maple Syrup 


What I learned from this cake:
Sifting flour together is not necessary according to Melissa Gray but I did it anyways
Butter melts faster when your trying to mix the streusel with your fingers


My hubby tried the cake after I had sent it to my aunts house and he was disappointed that I had only left him a small piece. Needless to say my hubby loved it but I think so far he’s loved all the cakes I’ve made. My aunt and cousins, who had no idea I’m on a baking journey, raved on about this cake.  I thought this cake was really good but I guess I’ll let you be the judge of that.




I had never bought real maple syrup before and I have to say that it was expensive but it was worth it.  (I guess I’m going to have to make pancakes for the hubby this weekend to use some of it up.)  The real maple syrup combined with the confectioners sugar made such a nice but not too sweet frosting. 




Here’s the recipe so you can try it for yourself:


For the cake:




  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the streusel:

  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional

For the glaze:

  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons real maple syrup
A 10-inch tube pan

Directions:


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan. 
  • Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Finish stirring with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed. 
  • For the streusel, place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a bowl and pinch together with your fingers until it forms a crumble. Mix in the walnuts, if desired. 
  • Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out, and scatter the remaining streusel on top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. 
  • Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Carefully transfer the cake, streusel side up, onto a serving plate. Whisk the confectioners’ sugar and maple syrup together, adding a few drops of water if necessary, to make the glaze runny. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork or spoon.
  • Enjoy!

Please let me know how it turns out! 

Procrastinatin’ Drunken Monkey Banana Bread…(Cake 5)

Baking, Cakes, Sweets

The name should say it all.  This cake was a a twist to the banana nut bread I’m used to.  When I first read that it required rum and cherries I was a tad confused but once I tasted it I knew there was no other way to make this cake.

Things new to me:
Dark Rum
Dried Cherries

What I learned from this cake:
I learned how to plump cherries with rum and boy was it fun and easy.

I shared this cake with our friends and they went bananas for it. (Pun intended! Ha Ha)  In all seriousness though this cake came out extremely moist and the fruit made it sweet but not overwhelming.  I used to have a great banana bread recipe but after making this one I won’t be going back to it.

This cake by far has been my favorite one and I can’t wait to make it again.  My hubby loves bananas so you can just imagine how he felt about this one. This cake gets a two thumbs up from both of us.

Do you have a banana nut bread recipe you would like to share with me?

Key Lime Cake…(Cake 4)

Baking, Cakes, Sweets

This cake was simple but delicious.  I love lemons and limes so I thought this cake was perfect.  The only I didn’t like about this cake is that the recipe makes only a 8-inch cake.  We shared this one with my in-laws. 


Things new to me:
Key lime


What I learned from this recipe:
Pocking holes in a cake shouldn’t be done with a knife
Double check ingredients to make sure you don’t run out during baking process


I ran out of confectioners sugar and ended up using less of the glaze than it called for.

So what did everyone think about this cake…

…they thought it was perfect because it was not overwhelmingly tangy.  My hubby loved it because he prefers cakes that don’t have frosting and so does my mother-in-law.  I thought it was a delicate cake that you can have with tea.

Missy G’s Sweet Potato Pound Cake…(Cake 3)

Baking, Cakes, Sweets

I would have never thought to put sweet potato in a cake but oh man is it tasty.  I called my mom up to ask her how she cooked sweet potatoes and to my surprise it was the same way Melissa’s mom told her to.  My mom informed me that my dad loves sweet potatoes (also known as camotes) and that she makes them for him at least every other week during the winter.  Once I confirmed how to bake them I began my task.  For this recipe you need to get begin early because you need to first cook and cool the sweet potatoes before mixing it in with the rest of the ingredients.   I used the methods that Melissa previously mentioned about being patient while creaming the butter and mixing in the rest of the ingredients thoroughly.  I also made sure to center the 10-inch tube pan in the oven and not the actual rack.

Things new to me:
Sweet potatoes
Maple flavoring
Granny Smith apples

I had never used maple flavoring before or worked with apples.

What I learned from this recipe:
Patience

I was too impatient and when I attempted to flip the cake it broke.  Oops.  Since we had already called my in-laws and told we were brining cake I used confectioners sugar to cover some of my mistake. Normally I would have just baked another cake and taken that one but since I am turning over a new league and trying to be less of a perfectionist I took it anyway.

So what did my in-laws think about this cake…

..they loved it.  My hubby thought that this cake was good but not great.  I thought it was surprisingly good.

The recipe for this cake can be found here.

Brown Sugar Pound Cake…(Cake 2)

Baking, cake, Sweets
So I’m sure you realize that its the 2nd pound cake that I made.  When I made this cake my hubby exclaimed this is the best cake you’ve ever made and I just smiled.  This cake I decided to make this cake for my hubby and his co-workers.  I knew it was going to be a stressful week for them and since I try to bake for them something at least once every two months I figured it was about that time. 
Things new to me:
shortening
What I learned from this recipe:
Making Cream Cheese frosting is not that difficult
My oven temperature is on target
My mom has cooked or more liked baked with shortening but since I hadn’t done that before I’ll stick it under things new to me.

Since I had previously learned that being patient is a good thing when baking I put my new skill to the test.  Since I began my little adventure I haven’t opened the oven once but I did set the timer for a shorter amount of time for some reason I thought it was faster.  This cake was a tad underdone but I’m glad that I now know the truth about my oven.

I made the Cream Cheese Frosting Melissa (okay so we are not on a first name basis but since I figure I’ll probably never meet her its cool) and I’m glad I did because it was delicious. It gave the pound cake a little something it needed. 
So what did my hubby’s co-workers think about this pound cake? Well, let’s just say that people who normally don’t have meeting around his desk were doing it that day. I personally didn’t think it was as amazing as my hubby thought but maybe that’s because I’m not really into brown sugar and he is. 

The Man Catcher…(Cake 1)

Baking, Cakes, Sweets

The name of this cake was funny to me but not so much to my hubby who said, “Why do you need to catch a man?”  To which I replied, “I don’t need to catch one I need to know how to keep one.” So I told him I would rename it if I could to the man keeper.

When I began reading through this recipe I realized that by taking the challenge on of baking all these recipes one every week I was going to find myself purchasing ingredients I had never used before.

Things new to me:
Lemon extract
Orange extract
Tube Pan

What I learned from this recipe:
Patience
How to cream/mix butter/ ingredients properly

I’m not kidding I realized that I was the type of person Melissa Gray jokes about that keeps opening the oven door thinking that is going to speed the baking process along. I also learned along with my patience that taking the time to cream the butter makes a lot of sense.  I think that if I owned a stand mixer my task would have been easier but since I’m the frugal type and I don’t have one of those fancy Kitchen Aid mixers I just used my hand held one.

Okay so I began to prepare for the big day when I was going to start baking I had to decide who my first victims (oops I meant to say tasters) were going to be. Since my hubby and I have game night with some of our friends on Wednesday nights I decided to take it along to share with them.

So after I baked my heart away what did the boys have to say…

…delicious. Well they really didn’t say anything but I didn’t have any leftovers to bring home so I’ll take that as delicious. My hubby did say that he loved how sweet and citricy (is that a word) it was.

So the verdict was that the Man Catcher-Sour Cream Pound Cake was a big hit!  I had never used sour cream in my baking experience or had ever made a pound cake but I did both and it was amazing.

You can find the recipe here