Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mini Triple Layer Banana Cake & Finding the Yummiest Cream Cheese Frosting

DSC02112 I made this cake four or five weeks ago when I promised my sitter, Miss Karolyn that I’d make cream cheese frosting (this was the fave) for her mom who was baking 100 banana cupcakes for a baby shower.  Her mom, Beth wasn’t sure what cream cheese frosting tasted like so, I decided to use my brown speckled bananas to bake a  few cupcakes and top them cream cheese frosting for her to try.  I only baked 6 cupcakes and  used the rest of the batter to make a mini three layer cake and three mini bundt cakes (My bundt cakes stuck to the pan, so no photos.).   I also used this opportunity  to try out two new recipes.  I used this lovely layered banana cake recipe and its cream cheese frosting recipe which I found on the blog, Evil Shenanigans.


The cake was great the first day and even better I thought the second.  The frosting on the other hand was good but not great.  Miss Karolyn’s mom who I passed along all the cupcakes to liked both the cupcake and the frosting but I thought I could do better with frosting. 

DSC02122When Miss Karolyn had first asked about the frosting I called my blogging buddy Monica to ask her opinion about how many cups of frosting I would need and to see if she had a recipe to recommend.  She did and I should have listened up and made it from the get go.  I didn’t but luckily I talked to her again and she convinced my I needed her recipe a try.  Oh, my goodness!  It is hands down the yummiest cream cheese frosting I have ever had.  My only issue with it and every cream cheese frosting I’ve ever made is that it doesn’t hold it’s shape or at least mine doesn’t.  It  gets so soft.  Yes, I added powered sugar, as much as I could without over doing it.   Is there some secret I’m missing?  Help! 


Vanilla Bean Frosting from Cupcake Bakeshop

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I only added a splash as I used  vanilla bean paste)
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out (I used 1Tbs vanilla bean paste)
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar (I used 5 cups)

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined. Then add the vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, and 3 cups of powdered sugar and beat at low speed, occasionally stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, until light and fluffy. Add more powdered sugar to arrive at the consistency and sweetness you like.

Makes enough to frost 24 cupcakes.



Thanks everyone for all your get well wishes.

If you like fun kitchen gadgets check out this post for a chance to win your own Microplane nutmeg grater.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Little Thank You with a Touch of Fall


The official start of Fall was just the other day and while it’s still hotter than Hades here (FL) I know some of you are already enjoying cooler weather.  With the Fall season underway many of you are breaking out those Fall spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  Those of you who have read my blog for awhile  know cinnamon and nutmeg are spices that I happily use all year long.  While I don’t grate my own cinnamon I do grate nutmeg as I need it.  I use this handy dandy gadget by Microplane and I love it.  You can definitely see and smell the difference between the ground bottled stuff and the freshly grated. 


As a little thank you for bearing with me and my sporadic posting and commenting I wanna give you the chance to win your own handy dandy nutmeg grater.  Along with the grater I’m going to send you a bottle of nutmeg AND cinnamon sticks.  Why stop with nutmeg, right?!  The only thing you have to do to win is leave a comment telling me what’s your favorite gadget and fall dessert.  When leaving your comment don’t forget to include a way for me to get a hold of you.  Unfortunately, I’m not certain what rules there are when shipping “food/spice” overseas so this giveaway will have to be for those in the continental US. Sorry! 

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Out Sick....

Okay, so things finally slow down this week and don't you know I've been sick the past few days! Just my luck. :(

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Cinnamon Caramel Popcorn with Pecans & White Chocolate Drizzle!

Is that not a mouthful or what, but boy was it good!  On Wednesday my buddy, Michelle from One Ordinary Day made some cinnamon popcorn that she claimed was quick, easy, and delish!  DSC02276Unfortunately as quick and easy as it may have been the kids’  homework and studying this week has left no time for baking. Lucky for me the next afternoon I found this recipe, for cinnamon caramel popcorn with pecans and white chocolate on Our Best Bites.  Was it coincidence?  I think not! Sara’s recipe even had the pecans and white chocolate I thought of adding to Michelle’s.  Fate and a break in homework had me making a batch of this last night. 


I only made one change to this most delectable popcorn and that was to use Ghirardelli white chocolate bars instead of the almond bark.  While incredibly good the next time I make this and there will be a next time, I am going to change things up.  These changes are to satisfy MY taste and  not necessarily yours.  My first change will be to double the pecans added and leave them in bigger pieces.  My second change is a biggie.  Next time I’m not going to bake it, at all!  Both the twins and I agreed that it was equally if not more yummy with the caramel mixture still sticky and warm just poured over the popcorn and pecans. Because I’m not baking it I’ll toast my pecans before adding them.  The last change is again, one of personal preference but I’d leave out the white chocolate drizzle.  I don’t think it needed it.  The bites that had white chocolate seemed too sweet.  I just noticed that Sara changed her recipe and left out the salt (1/4 tsp) but I think the popcorn benefits from the salt (sea) and could probably stand another 1/4 tsp of it to cut through the richness of the caramel. 


Cinnamon Caramel Corn with Pecans                      & White Chocolate            Recipe by Our Best Bites

12 C popped popcorn (about 1/2 C kernels)
1 C pecan halves, roughly chopped
1 C brown sugar
3/4 t cinnamon
1/4 C karo syrup (or honey makes a good substitution)
1 stick real butter (1/2 C)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 squares almond bark (about 4 oz)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees
Place popcorn and chopped pecans in a large bowl and set aside.
Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a 4 C capacity microwave safe bowl.  Mix well.  Chop butter into chunks and place on top of sugar mixture.  Pour corn syrup over the top of everything.  Microwave on high for 30 seconds and then stir to combine.  Return to microwave and heat for 2 minutes.  Remove and stir and then microwave for 2 minutes more.
Remove from microwave and add in vanilla and baking soda.  Stir to combine.  Mixture will foam and rise.  Pour caramel mixture over popcorn and pecans and stir very well so everything is well coated. 
Spread popcorn mixture onto a foil-lined jelly roll pan.  Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. 
Remove from oven and spread out on a large piece of parchment, waxed paper, or foil.
Melt almond bark according to package instructions.  Drizzle over popcorn mixture.  When almond bark is hardened and popcorn is cool, break into chunks and enjoy!  (I might have topped some vanilla ice cream with the last of the it! :))


Here’s Michelle’s recipe for cinnamon popcorn

Cinnamon Popcorn

  • 8-10 c. of popped popcorn
  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 hefty pinches of kosher salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Pop popcorn and spread onto a large cookie sheet.  (Michelle used a hot air popcorn popper.)  Melt butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a microwave-safe bowl until sugar is dissolved and butter melted, 1 – 2 minutes.  Stir in vanilla extract.  Spoon butter mixture over popcorn and sprinkle with salt.  Toss to coat as many pieces of popcorn as you can.  Place in oven for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool completely.  If storing {not likely!}, place in an airtight container

**Speaking of Michelle she participating in Cupcake Hero this month and created the very delicious looking (& I’m certain tasty) Banana S’mores Cupcakes.  I haven’t made them yet but they are at the top of my “to make” list.  Check them out and if you think they are as delish looking as I do you can vote for her here!    Go Michelle!  :)


Over the last six months or so I’ve received several blog “awards”.  I want to take a moment to thank all of you for thinking of me and my blog.  I know that the “award” rules say I need to chose 5, 6, 7, or 10 other bloggers to pass them along to but if you’ve been reading my blog awhile you’ll know how I feel about calling out a select few.  ALL of you have a unique voice and something special about your blogs.  I apologize if  my not passing along the awards offends anyone but there it is.  Thanks, again and I’m sorry it took me so long to say it!


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Marshmallow “Not So” Frosted Brownies

In keeping with the marshmallow theme of my last post here’s some marshmallow frosted brownies I made.  This is actually the third time I’ve made these brownies though the first time I’ve tasted them myself.  The very first time I made them was last school year for one of Devon’s classes.  They must have been a hit because his teacher asked for them again the following week.  After the second batch I told his teacher that I preferred to bake and try different recipes so, no more marshmallow frosted brownies.  I know you guys know what I mean.  :)


This last batch I baked was intended for Babygirl’s cheerleading squad but due to rain, practice was cancelled and they never made it.  Initially I was annoyed. This was the second time I had baked something for her to bring but didn’t get to because thunderstorms forced practice to be cancelled.  I did say initially.  After tasting one I was more than pleased with both the brownies and the fact that I now had a pan full.  Miss Karolyn, the children’s sitter enjoyed them as well.  To keep from gorging myself I gave a third of the pan to her to take to home.  


I found this recipe at Mommy’s KitchenTina, the bloggess of Mommy’s Kitchen is a HUGE fan of Paula Deen and has tried many of her recipes which means she has a blog full of yummy food!


For the most part I followed Tina's recipe with the exception of being generous with the ‘mallows.   On this last batch though I did goof up a bit.  As you can see my brownies are not really frosted.  This was due to impatience.  I hurriedly made the glaze and then poured it, still HOT on to my just out of the oven, marshmallow topped brownies.  I know that the recipe says to but you don’t really want  the frosting boiling hot so much as really warm.  It also didn’t help that the marshmallows hadn’t gotten that crunchy skin on them that they get after being roasted and then coming to room temp. (read, I needed to let the brownies cool and didn’t read the recipe carefully.) They weren’t so pretty but it all worked out. The frosting seeped into the brownies making them so moist and yummy.  If you want  marshmallow “frosted” brownies you should probably follow the recipe a little better than I did this time around.  Oh, and Tina says to follow the box directions for cakey brownies….I say no, if we’re gonna go marshmallows and frosting, then it’s fudgy all the way!


Marshmallow Brownies
1 - (9 x13) boxed brownie mix
Miniature marshmallows
Frosting (recipe below)

Make the brownie mix according to package directions for CAKE LIKE brownies. Bake according to package directions. When brownies are done, cover them with a layer of miniature marshmallows and put back into the oven for a few minutes until marshmallows are nice and puffy. Cool brownies and top with frosting recipe below.

1/2 cup butter
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons water
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Bring 1/2 cup butter or margarine, 4 tablespoons cocoa, 3 tablespoons water, and 3 tablespoons milk to a boil. Remove from heat. While still hot, add confectioners' sugar, and vanilla. Beat well. Pour frosting over brownies while frosting is still hot. Allow to cool before cutting.


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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Cookies & Cream Rice Krispy Treats

I made these cookies and cream rice krispy treats treats last Sunday for Devon and three of his DSC02241football buddies that were coming over for dinner and to spend the night. To say that the boys liked the treats would be a huge understatement.  They tore into them and had eaten all but four of the treats by the following morning.  I know you’re thinking well, it was four boys but they didn’t start eating the treats until after 8:30pm and they also each had a piece (or two) of the ice cream cake I made!  (That post soon to come.)


While I didn’t follow her recipe I did take inspiration fromDSC02237 Culinary Concoctions by Peabody.  I initially was going to give it to you but instead I’m just going to tell you to check out your Rice Krispies box.  The one thing I do differently when making rice krispy treats is I always increase the amount of marshmallows.  Marshmallows are what makes the treats so yummy, be generous.  For this batch I added another half a bag of marshmallows and about two rows of oreo cookies that I cut into quarters.   I didn’t want a strong chocolaty flavor and  I wanted to have oreo cookie chunks so I was careful not to add any of the oreo crumbs.


Do you like oreos?  Do you like rice krispy treats? Then I recommend giving this a try and if you are super keen on chocolate, up the oreos, add the crumbs, and use Cocoa Krispies.  For all of Sunday and Monday I was “d’man”!  All three of the boys went home talking about my cookies and cream rice krispy treats!  One of the boys even went so far as to hide one of the treats so he could bring it home for his parents to try.  :)


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Raspberry Lime Tea Cakes

DSC02138If you’ll remember Monica and I have been baking our way through Martha Stewart’s Cupcake cookbook.  Our previous two cupcakes were a cookies and cream cheesecake and a black forest cupcake


This go round was Monica’s choice and I couldn’t have been happier when she chose the Strawberry Jam Tea Cakes.  I was worried she’d go for something chocolaty and I’d had my fill of chocolate with the black forest cupcakes.  The original recipe called for a strawberry filling and orange flavored glaze but I chose to go a different route.  One of the first blogs I started reading was Elle’s New England Kitchen. If you’ve read her blog a time or two you might have picked up on her love of raspberry and lime together.  Until these tea cakes I’ve had it lingering in the back of my mind.  I’m thrilled to say that raspberry and lime taste great together though I don’t think it beats my blackberry and lemon combo.


Notice anything about the above photo?  The raspberry preserves SUNK!  What the heck is going on?  Everything keeps sinking on me!  Monica said I should rename my blog, “my fruit sinks”!  :)


A lot of you have Martha’s cookbook so I’m not going to give you the recipe.  You can find it on page 117  if you’re interested in trying  it.  (My changes were to use raspberry preserves for the strawberry jam and to use lime zest and juice instead orange.) The recipe makes more than what it said it does.  I got 18 tea cakes and I overfilled my muffins tins.  So, if you’d like to make the recipe but not the whole thing here’s the link to the online recipe at Martha’s. The online recipe says it makes only 6 tea cakes but that has to be wrong as it’s half of the book’s recipe and the book says it makes 16 tea cakes.  I’m thinking the magic number is 10.  Another thing to be aware of is my tea cakes baked in less than 3o minutes. More like 20 though I only baked one pan at time.

sept 61

If you wanna see some terrific photos of these tea cakes hop over to Monica’s, blog!  Not only will they be better but she usually has some interesting ones.

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Friday, September 4, 2009

A Failure and A Success

I know I’ve been MIA lately.  The kids, their homework, and extracurricular activities have kept me super busy.  They’ve adjusted well to going back to school but I’m still struggling to balance everything.  (I think it’s been a week since I last baked anything. :(() I’m hoping to get back into the groove of things soon!


A few months ago I had my first giveaway.  One of the items which I gave away was Martha Stewart’s Cupcake cookbook which I preordered for the winner.   At the same time I preordered the winner’s(Noodlegirl) cookbook I preordered one for myself.  When I received the cookbook I excitedly flipped through looking for a cupcake recipe  to try.  It didn’t take long for me to settle on  the snickerdoodle ones.

 DSC01742 I decided instead of baking up 28 cupcakes I’d bake a two layer six inch square cake (I had also recently bought two Fat Daddio pans) and with the rest of the batter a few cupcakes.   Everything went smoothly.  The cake batter was delish and the yummy cinnamon-y aroma filling my kitchen was driving me crazy! My cake layers which I baked up first looked great and my six cupcakes were the most perfect looking cupcakes to ever come out  of my oven.  To say that I was excited was an understatement! 

As I waited for my layers and cupcakes to cool I got busy making my frosting.  Instead of making Martha’s seven minute frosting I decided to make the cinnamon brown sugar buttercream I had  recently seen on the blog, Lick the Bowl GoodMonica’s buttercream is the success part of this post.  The buttercream is actually an Italian Meringue and I’m happy to say it came together without a hitch.  It also piped like a dream. 


Now for the failure part.  The snickerdoodle cake and cupcakes that looked so wonderful coming out of the oven?  While cooling they had shrunk in on themselves DSC01746-1and when I tried one of the cupcakes it was bone dry!  How can that be?  When I did the toothpick test it came out with a crumb or two stuck to it and that was five minutes prior to when the recipe said they should be done!  Talk about disappointed!    The worse part?  A few days after I tossing (with force) the cake  into the garbage disposal (I should have made cakeballs, duh!  Throw in enough frosting, dip into chocolate, and just about anything will taste good.) I came across several blogs that raved about the cupcake recipe.  (Here’s one of them.) Maybe it was me?  I’d like to give it another try but I’m scared.  So, I think I’ll just stick to this snickerdoodle cake recipe or this snickerdoodle bundt cake one. 


I’m sorry that the photos are crappy but once I realized how awful this was I really couldn’t muster up any enthusiasm for the the photos.  The only reason I took any to begin with is that Babygirl frosted and decorated the cake.