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Monday, November 28, 2011

Not-so-Sweet Cupcakes

Remember the Cupcake Platter I made? Well.. the same person asked me to make some more for her, but she wanted a less-sweet frosting. Hmm... how are you to do that? Less powdered sugar will make the frosting droopy...right? AND she also wanted a mixed platter again, but only a few cupcakes. So I suggested that I make a Chocolate Cupcake with the Vanilla Frosting. Mixed :) She agreed (or else I'd have to make 3 batches of different flavors.. 3 frostings, and get stuck with most of them.. and then I would eat them all and be fat!!!).

I baked the Chocolate Cupcakes. I tried one....(yes, I tend to do that when I have extra). They tasted goooood! And then with the frosting... I did my regular frosting but I added a couple of drops more milk. (Yes, I put milk in my tastes good, promise). I also used a round tip when I frosted instead of the star one I usually use. I figured that the star-shaped swirl would drip more due to the detail it has.
And of course, I added little chocolate starts to show that the base is chocolatey...
And I made the frosting PINK.

Friday, November 25, 2011

To Bake Sale or Not to Bake Sale?

I decided I wasn't going to have a Bake Sale for Christmas this year since I will be working EVERY SINGLE DAY until Christmas, including Sundays, until 8 o' clock at night. There is no possible human way to accomplish a Bake Sale.

But everyone keeps asking me for one. So I had to come up with an idea. I thought about something, I shared it with the girls at work and my family at home, and they agreed. So now I am sharing with you, and if you think this is a good idea, let me know so I can proceed with the planning. If you don't think this is such a great idea, please tell me if you have a better one so I can take it under consideration.

I thought that I can bake batches of cookies every day and have different kind of cookies. I can make COOKIE PLATTERS for people. Starting at 10euro and going up, I can tell people the choice of cookies available at the moment, and they can tell me which ones they like and what price they want their platter to be. I can also offer the option of prety Christmas dishes, so they can keep after they are done with the cookies. I can also bake 2-3 Christmas Cakes (or bake them at request) for whoever wants one.

What do you think? I keep everyone happy, without having to commit to one whole day of a Bake Sale :)

Btw...I wanted to share with you what I just finished baking:

A Carrot Cake!! With Walnuts as a decorations...I ran out of Sugared Carrots :) 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Addicted to Pinterest

Apart from baking and baking and baking (ok and going to my full time job and keeping up with social life and eating and sleeping), I came accross Pinterest! I was googling for pictures, and one of them was on Pinterest. So when I opened it, I saw that there were many beautiful pictures on there. I needed to get one, too! You can't just sign up, you have to request an invite. I thought: What have I got to lose? And I did, and I got in!! So yesterday morning I woke up and set up my new account.

What you do is pick a subject for example, and then create "boards" of things that relate to your theme. You can be browsing on the web, and then all of a sudden a picture pops up that you like and you pin it on the borad! It always gives credit to the author, so that way someone else who repins YOUR picture on THEIR board, can still know where you got it from.

Of course, after I was done with creating my account, I checked my email, and my friend Karina (who now lives in Miami, FL) "I'm not sure this link will work out there, but I'm think you're going to like this thing called 'Pinterest'" !!!! Great minds think alike! I kid you not! Thank you my person! It was a great idea :!)
So I started a "Pretty in Pink" board with pink edible things, and a "Season of Joy" board for all the things Christmassy that you can eat :)

Check it out, it's addictive!: Joy's Pinterest

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Yogurt Frosting? YES!

I had a very easy going Sunday this past weekend and thought I should bake something for the house. I currently don't have many chocolate options on my menu, so I wanted to experiment with chocolate so I can widen the repertoire.

So I baked a classic 2 layer chocolate cake. Fine so far. Then, I needed the frosting that was going to make it a WOW chocolate cake! There's many options out there for a twist on the classic chocolate frosting. There's Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting..there's the Chocolate Butter Frosting..even Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting. You can add nuts in the frosting or coconut...or fruit. But let's go back for a minute: if there's Sour Cream Frosting, can't there be a YOGURT frosting??? Greek yogurt is strained nowadays and has a very creamy texture. Why not??

Let's give it a try:

First, I melted the chocolate with the butter. Let it cool a little.
Then I added the yogurt.
Put it in the mixer with some icing sugar.

It came out thick enough to frost a cake without adding to much confectioner's sugar. I don't like too much of that in my frosting.. it makes it too sweet.

Frosted the first layer.

And finally frosted the whole cake. It was very good tasting. Not too sweet like most frostings. I am very pleased with my creation. This will be a new addition to my menu: Chocolate Cake with Chocolate-Yogurt Frosting!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Cupcake Sample Platter

I have a friend and neighbor at work, who always tells me "bring me whatever you want to bake for me, and I'll pay you for it." But I never knew what to take one day she pops in at work and says: "OK. I want cupcakes, but I want more than one flavor. I want to try them all."
At the moment, I only have Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting on my menu, but I also have Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting and Nutella Cupcakes in my repertoire. So I thought I'd make a batch of each flavor and each frosting, and take her a Cupcake Sample Platter.

I spent a whole morning making was so much fun!!!
First, I baked the Chocolate Cupcakes.
Then I baked the Nutella Cupcakes.
Finally I baked the Vanilla Cupcakes.

Nutella Surprise Center
This is what I didn't do for the Witch Cupcakes.

And the most fun part of all, the frostings!
First, I whipped up some Chocolate Frosting.

I always use my mum's ancient Kenwood Mixer. She loves being in the kitchen, too, so she has all the attachments for food and dessert! Gotta love your kitchen-addicted mum! Thanks mum for letting me use your mixer and not making me buy a new one :!) xx

Then I did the Nutella Frosting.

And the last one was the Vanilla Frosting. I left this one last because I like to add color to it and play :) Ok it's not very grown up of me, but what can I do? I can't resist!
I decided I was going to make them Yellow this time around.

The very last thing (before boxing them up of course) was adding all the edible sprinkles and sparkles and such!
Colored non-pareills for the Vanilla, Orange pearls for the Chocolate, and Chocolate Stars for the Nutella.

Voia-la!!! A Cupcake Sample Platter!

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Making of: Spider Cookies

As I mentioned before, I saw the design for these on Bakerella. She used a cake box mix for hers, but since I am selling these after Halloween, too, I made my Chocolate Cookies from scratch.
I made one batch, made chocolate balls, put it in the oven, and waited for them to flatten out, like cookies usually do. But nooooooo, these ones decided to stay in the form of a ball! (Did someone forget to add baking powder???). How was I going to decorate them? I smooshed them with a spoon, but still, they weren't flat enough! So as you can imagine, I baked another DOUBLE batch this time, and layed them flat on the cookie sheets. These came out much better.

I didn't use a cookie cutter or a guide for the size since I was behind schedule with the non-successful batch, so some of them came out smaller than others. After they cooled completely, I made the Chocolate Frosting and spread it on top.
I wasn't sure what to do for the spider webs. I really wanted to use Royal Icing, but I didn't have enough left for all the cookies. So as a quick way out, I mixed icing sugar with some water to the consistency I wanted, and did the 3 circles.

Then I took a toothpick and formed the lines. If I had used Royal Icing though, I think it would've looked more spidery-webby like, but they still looked like webs. (Ok maybe not so much in this picture).

And then, the fun part! Adding the spiders! Well, I DID have some orange royal icing, so I used that for legs on all my spiders. I also used the green and orange that Bakerella used since it matches with the Halloween theme. I also added some brown ones, too. That's m & m's. With the peanut in them. They look more spidery rather than the plain ones :). I added eyes on the brown ones, too.

It was tons of fun! I received many good comments about these cookies. I think I'm going to put them on my menu and name them "Brownie Cookies." Everyone seemed to think they were just that. When I asked people what they liked, some said "Those Brownie Cookies." That must mean it reminds them of my brownies. Since I know those taste good, then that was a good complement.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Making of: Cat Cookies

I had an image in mind when I drew the sketch for these. They came out almost as I imagined them. See, my little secret is that I've only read about cookie decorating, but I had never tried it myself before the day I made these cookies...or had even seen anyone actually do it in front of me. Just pictures in books...and blogs. So I had to opt for something easy and somewhat quick-finishing. I had tons of things to bake for the Bake Sale so I wanted to make sure I had enough time for everything else.

So as everyone knows, at first, you bake the cookies :). I used my basic Sugar Cookie recipe.
And if you are thinking: those round cookies, don't all look perfects ROUND. Well....I didn't have a big enough round cookie cutter, so I used a drinking glass....shhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Since I was going to bake a big batch, I also thought to myself...why not make other designs with the Sugar Cookies?? I already had a design in mind: Polka Dots. While I was planning for the Bake Sale, I also had to think of decorations that weren't going to cost me too much. That's how I came up with the Flower Cookies, too! Not only were they going to cost me less than real ones, I got to sell them and cover other expenses as well. These last two designs I decided I was going to put on sticks: Lollipop Cookies.

Ok, the cookies are baked and cooled. As you can see, they are also stored in air tight containers since it was going to take a couple of days to decorate. I needed them to be fresh for the Bake Sale. But either way, as a good rule of thumb, I always keep my cookies in air tight containers :)

One thing I didn't make, was the Royal Icing. Since I was selling these, I needed the pasteurized egg whites and I didn't know where to get them (still don't just yet). So I bought a Royal Icing in which you add just the water and the color. I needed 3 colors: Orange, Black and White. I also needed more than one consistency. So before I started to panic, I started with the first thing I would need: the thick orange.

I did the outlines on all the cookies, including the flowers and the dots. Then I thinned the consistency and flooded the cookies (with the toothpick and all!)

Following the same steps, I did the black and white on the flowers and the dots.

Of course I let each color dry before I continued with the next one. If you see one round orange cookie with black around it...that was an expiramentation. I added the black sugar while the icing was still wet to see what it would look like.. I didn't think it matched my sketch, so I didn't continue with it.

Now for the black cats...see, the problem was that I didn't have a stencil. So I made one...a paper one... which wasn't the best idea. I used spray to do the cats, and after 3 cats, I had to wait for the paper to dry. I got a few cookies smudged all over, too. Most of them came out nice, though :).

But this wasn't the end of it.. I had promised my audience black sparkles!!! So i had to add them on the cookies! So I rolled them in jam, and then in black sugar, and got what I was going for. What do you think, close enough?

I made sooooo many of these cookies. They were the last to go due to the quantity.

Here's my Halloween Dots Cookies (as I named them):
Even though I first thought of putting my Flower Cookies in a vase, then I thought people would be more likely to buy them if they were on the table in a platter, like the rest of the goodies :).

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Making of: Witch Cupcake - Abstract

I thought to myself...I posted the pictures of the finished product. I also posted the pictures of my drawings...but that was long time ago. So I figured it would be nice if I posted them side by side with a few pictures before the product was finished, so you can see the process I went through :)

First off, my ultimate favorite (I know, I shouldn't favor one of my designs more than the other....) Ok ok I love you all the same!!! I just feel a pull towards the Witch Cupcake.

Hat Idea:
The base was going to be an Oreo cookie (which it was). Now for the top of the hat, I had designed a version with a Hershey's Kiss and a version with a dollop of Chocolate Frosting. Why? Well....I prefer the's easier and saves time, too, but we don't have Hershey's out here in Cyprus, AT ALL!! I was lucky because my friend sent me a few packages of Hershey's Kisses from California, so I had them on hand. I also used Royal Icing in a thick consistency for the Orange Ribbon on the hat.

I never thought they would turn out to be even better looking than the drawing! This was actually a hat alternative. The first idea was for a chocolate ice cream cone, but I thought it'd be way too high.

The Witch:

The reason I took this picture, is because I think I finally have down how to do the swirling effect with the piping bag. (Yes, I'm proud of takes practice!) I had to make sure the frosting was sturdy, so that the hat didn't fall off. I didn't make it any denser though, because then it would taste like icing sugar instead of Nutella. I just added extra swirls on the base of the cupcake to keep the top up. The reason why I chose Nutella was because the other cupcakes didn't have frosting. And Nutella is a big hit out here, so I knew everyone would love it. I used a Nutella Frosting on these with some food coloring to turn it green like my sketch.

Very similar right? I'm sooo proud of the design. I knew I would do something that looked like the drawing, but I never thought I'd be so close!

The reason for the "abstract" is because I had another Witch Cupcake that wasn't voted on the top 10, which had eyes (with the chocolate cone I mentioned earlier). This one was more literal that it was supposed to be a witch, so when I came up with the second one, I thought it was more abstract.

Both are cute, but as I said, the abstract one was my favorite one from all my designs for Halloween :)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Spooktacular Bake Sale

SOLD OUT!!!! The best thing I have to say about my bake sale! Everything was almost gone since early on, so I figured that I'd have some cookies left over but nope! Everything was gone!
So let me start from the beginning:

If you've been reading my blog, or follow my group on Facebook, then you know that I had a little contest going on. Every couple of days I posted a small story about something related to Halloween, and then drew some sketches that had to do with that story. Those sketches were of a cake, a cupcake, a cookie or whatnot, related to Halloween. People voted for their favorites, and I was going to bake the top 10. I was also going to have many surprises....but that never happened.

See, my mother ended up in the hospital on Friday night (the big night I was supposed to stay up and bake, so I can decorate on Saturday) so I never had the chance to bake all the top 10, or all the surprises I had in mind. But I will still share them with you :)

I must admit, that from everything votes, MY favorite, was the Witch Cupcake (I had drawn 2, one abstract because there were no eyes, and one with eyes. The abstract one was voted, and that was the one I wanted to bake either way ;p). I have a tendancy to put my everything in thing I like better than others.. (not such a good thing I guess), so I baked Nutella Cupcakes for this, since I loooooce Nutella.
I also have to let you know that I was rushing to get everything done, I was sleepless from the night at the hospital....AND I FORGOT THE NUTELLA! Nutella Cupcakes without the nutella! Haha well I made up for it. Since the Cupcake ended up being a chocolate cupcake (I was going to make holes in it and then add a nutella surprise center), I ended up making a Nutella Frosting... GREEN! It was...OMG! My fiance was running after me to get the frosting bag after I was done!

 I knew these would turnout great ever since I made the hats. See, in Cyprus we don't have Hersheys kisses, so my friend sent me some from California. And I wanted to use them for a special occasion. Glued them on the top of an Oreo cookie, and then put some orange Royal Icing to make it look even more witchy.
These were the first ones to go. As soon as I said "Nutella," people went nuts! I had also posted a picture of the hats on Facebook, so that people could see what they were to expect. I wanted them to know I could pull trough on my promise of the bake sale, AND the flavor. I mean, think: Oreo cookies, Hersheys kisses, Nutella cupcakes, and my love! What else does it take for delicious??

Now that I'm done with my favorite, let me tell you a bit about the first batch of cookies I made. I thought it was ok to make Sugar Cookies 3 days in advance because they last longer than cupcakes in an air tight container, and because they take forever to decorate since the Royal Icing needs to dry between colors.

So I baked the Cat Cookies. This was on Thursday (before the hospital incident), so I went ahead and made many, plus some other shapes to decorate for Halloween.

I stenciled the cats on, without a real stencil! I couldn't find that many Halloween things out here, so I ended up making a paper stencil. I had to wait after I sprayed 2-3 cookies so I didn't smudge everything all over. One of my coworkers, when I had showed them the pictures, said some of the cats looked like camels :) I could totally see it too! I made my fiance pay for those cookies that didn't look pretty enough to sell. He was going to eat them anyway, so why not help me with my first Bake Sale? :)

Halloween Dots Cookies
Keep in mind that this was the very first time EVER I had a cookie decorating experience! I had never decorated cookies before, I had never used Royal Icing before...I had never made more than 1 consistency of Royal Icing before.. never added colors...never had to wait for a cookie for almost 3 days to see the final result! I think that for the first time, I did pretty good! Practice makes perfect, so I expect that next time my cookies will look prettier and prettier and prettier :)

Flower Cookies
The Dots cookies and the Flower cookies I added on sticks to make them look like lollipops. Everyone loved the idea, and most hadn't seen it done before. The thing is that I didn't plan out the designs on these, because they were a last minute thought.

The number 1 voted creation, was the Mummy Cupcake. I used a Devil's Food cupcake base, since the name makes it more spooky, and then decorated on top. These took a veeery long time to decorate, they looked cute, and even though people voted for these, they preferred the Witch Cupcakes and THEN the Mummy ones. Of course, I also think that everyone loooooves frosting! And this was something missing from these, due to the design.

Another big hit, was the Spider Cookies. These were Chocolate Cookies with Chocolate Frosting. I baked this on Friday (before the incident) and then I was going to decorate at night, which was when I had to rush to the hospital. So I did the decoration the next day, and since I was running out of time, instead of doing a Royal Icing, I just added a little water in some confectioner's sugar. It wasn't something I wanted to do (because I personally think it doesn't taste all that great), but the whole point was to get the design down.

This particular design, I found on Bakerella. I used my own recipe from scratch (since I want to have a good design with a GREAT taste) and then I improvised on some other things. For example we don't have Trix out here, so I used m&m's.

Not quite the same, but very similar :)

I also baked a Spiderwebs Cake. This was an Apple Spice Cake, with a Brown Sugar Frosting. This was the first time I used this frosting, and it was a big hit. I had to cook it first, let it cool, and then turn it into a frosting. Whoever tried the cake, LOVED the frosting. I even had 2 people tell me they want to try it with the Carrot Cake I make.

My goddaughter brought me a Jack Skellington statue thing for the day, since I had said I was also going to surprise everyone with Skellington Cupcakes. I never got the chance :( I still decorated him though.

I used one of those cheap orange tablecloths, added a black piece of fabric on top and a white tablecloth underneath all. I had some small decorations for Halloween at home that I used, and I also found some free name tags on line that I printed, and I traced the names of the goods by hand, to make them look more Halloweenish.

It was a great success! Everything was gone, I covered my expenses and made some extra money to buy more supplies, and on top of all, I had fun and everyone enjoyed the idea and baked yummy goodies. I also sold my Pomegranate Jam that I made. I had positive comments from everyone, and they are expecting at least another one before Christmas. Let's see if I can do it :)