Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cupcakes, cookies, and kids. Oh my!

Last week I went out for a little R&R with some friends and since I only had five thousand other things to do, I thought, why not make them some cupcakes!  So I did.
I made a couple dozen mini cupcakes. I had no idea that they made little wrappers for mini cupcakes until I was browsing through Michael's. Aren't they adorable?
All the cupcakes were chocolate! This one was also filled with a chocolate ganache and topped with a cream cheese frosting and gold sprinkles.
This mini is a chocolate cupcake with chocolate ganache frosting and pearl sprinkles.
Ready to head to their new homes!

I have to say I got a teensy weensy bit burnt out on cupcakes this week, well the clean up actually, but I was still craving something sweet and homemade. I found a new recipe for chocolate chip cookies while blog browsing and I thought I would give it a try. The kids were very excited to help.
Hands washed, check. Aprons on,check. Goofy smiles,check.
 The baby girl was a natural. I wonder if there's a correlation between being a good eater and a good chef. Hmm.
The little guy could use some lessons on keeping the batter in the bowl. And could he be any more posed? I obviously take way too many pictures.
All done!
Well I thought I had the best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever but I have to say this recipe gave my cookies a run for their money. My recipe is a bit moister and more melt in your mouth like, but these cookies were firmer, while still being soft, and much more cake like. They reminded me of Cowboy Cookies in San Luis Obispo. Mmm. If you have never had Cowboy Cookies then you have to try them!
I wish I had saved the link to the blogger that posted this recipe but sadly, I am infamous for doing things in haste. I copied and printed the recipe and then closed the blog window. If I remember her name I will give her credit. But for now, just know that the recipe is not mine.

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1tsp baking soda
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup softened butter (I use real butter)
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1-5 oz package vanilla instant pudding mix (JELLO brand)
Chocolate Chips (milk or semisweet, I like semisweet)

Cream butter and sugars.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.  In a separate bowl mix pudding mix, soda, and salt.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Add flour bit by bit until texture is right (You should be able to roll dough into a ball in your hands.  If it is too sticky, add more flour.)  Mix well.  Bake at 350 degrees on an ungreased cookie sheet until edges are just browning (12-14 minutes depending on your oven and your elevation)
 I got a thumbs up from the pickiest kid in America! He honestly is. 
We came up with a list of 12 things he likes to eat. Only 12. And two of them, mac and cheese and bacon, aren't even that great for you! He has been known to thumb his nose up at cakes, cookies, ice cream, and cupcakes if they don't meet his high standards. 

But both kids absolutely devoured them! 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Watch out Sprinkles!

For the past 6 years, the girl inside my head has had some serious writer's block. Maybe it's because the girl on the outside has been a stay at home mom for those 6 years and the amount of time needed to write anything more than folksy tales of life is not available in a perpetually dusty household with an overactive grade-schooler, a defiant toddler, and far too many dirty dishes. Or maybe it's because I figure every stay at home mom writer writes about changing diapers, that funny thing their kid did last week, or how to organize their unorganized life. Either way it is what it is and I have since found a newish hobby that I find is much easier to accommodate into my chaotic life.
I have become a baker of small cakes. I have always enjoyed baking sweets but now I am obsessed with all things cupcake. I think it started with the many cupcake shows on TV. Like an addict seeking their high I DVR every episode of Cupcake Wars, DC Cupcakes, and Cupcake Girls and then watch them over and over. I could not satiate my cupcake appetite with the watching of these shows, and so I began baking them. The cupcakes, not the shows. And I do a pretty decent job, I think.
I mean, I don't think Sprinkles Cupcakes really has to worry. I am not that fabulous a baker yet and I could certainly benefit from a few cake decorating classes at Michael's. But I am enjoying it immensely and I suddenly have visions of running a little sweets shop here in my rural town in California, more often than I envision myself in New York City, at a book signing for my best seller.
Now instead of neglecting my children to write, I include them in the testing of new recipes. So far, so good.
If you know my son you know he does not eat cupcakes. He is pretty much anti-baked goods in general which leads me to entertain the idea that he was switched at birth and that my bread, cheese, and potato eating son is out there, dreaming of a life with a mom who knows her way around a gratin. I used to bake cupcakes out of a box and he would lick the store bought frosting off and chuck the cake into the trash.
But apparently, my homemade cupcakes can satisfy even the pickiest kid in America. Last week he proclaimed my vanilla cupcake with rose water frosting was really, really good. He told me he would even eat two!
And today. Today he deemed me the best cupcake maker ever. He not only devoured 2 of my red velvet cupcakes, pre-frosting, he informed me that I would absolutely be baking for his birthday next year. He said there is no way he will eat any cake of any kind unless I make it.
Hmm. Maybe Sprinkles should be worried!

Today I did a red velvet cupcake with Italian meringue buttercream frosting. This was my first time making this kind of frosting and I have to say, I impressed myself. The buttercream is a lot lighter than typical buttercream and not as sweet. I am not a big fan of oversweet frostings so I am excited that this one came  out delicious. It works well with the delicate taste of the red velvet. I always felt like the cream cheese frosting was too overpowering for the red velvet. This is my favorite so far.

Really simple chocolate cupcake with rose water buttercream frosting and fondant roses.
Honey infused vanilla cupcake with a honey-cream cheese frosting and premade sugar bees.
I know, I know. Sprinkles would never sell prefab bees. But the founder, Candace Nelson, has been professionally baking for 5 years now. And her grandmother was a famous pastry chef in San Francisco. My grandmother was a seamstress in Mexico. Cut me some slack.
Peanut butter filled, banana cupcake with whipped cream frosting and topped with crumbled bacon and semisweet chocolate chunks. Kind of like an Elvis dream cupcake, but with chocolate. Mmmm.