Monday, May 2, 2011

Marshmallow Flowers

A great way to easily decorate cupcakes or cakes is to use marshmallows. Now that summer is almost here, you can just use any leftovers from S'mores!

All you need to do is take a regular sized marshmallow and cut it in half, so each half is a circular shape.

Then, lay 5 halves on your cake or cupcake in a circle, use some icing for the center of the flower, and you have a marshmallow flower! When you place your marshmallow halves down, put them sticky side up so that you can sprinkle colored sugar onto the flower and it will easily stick. 

For a cupcake, you can do one flower per cupcake, but for a regular cake you can make many more flowers! You can also use mini marshmallows instead of regular sized ones to make mini flowers, like in the picture. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wilton Batter Blender

While I love Kitchen Aid stand mixers, sometimes they can be annoying to take out, clean, and put away after baking: especially when all I'm mixing is cupcake batter. 

Now, instead of pulling out the Kitchen Aid, I use my batter blender. I've had it for over a year, and it has made my life so much easier. It's a wisk and a spoon combined, and it really works!

I bought mine at Chef Central but they sell them where ever Wilton products are sold. 

This batter blender is something every baker should have. You use it the same way you would use a spoon to mix, but it works better.

It's also easy to clean, cheap and easy to store. There's no reason not to have one!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

3 Tier Cake Pan

This 3 Tier Cake Pan is another one of the many cool cake pans I own. 

You can use boxed cake mix, and simply pour it into each of the molds. Follow the directions that come with the pan for baking times. 

These cakes are easy and fun to decorate! I would suggest dying your icing different colors and using a different color on each tier. Also, you can pipe designs on each layer, like a real tiered, professional cake!

Each cake can be shared among a couple people, and they are great for decoration. They are perfect for birthdays, or just any day you feel like making 4 pretty cakes :)

The main reason I love these cakes is because they are great for practicing different icing techniques. Since there are 4 of them, and they are small, its easy to try different icing tips, icing colors and even fondant.

If you love decorating cakes and trying new ways of decorating, this cake pan is for you!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Decorative Sugar & Sprinkles

In the midst of trying to make the most crazily decorated cupcakes I can manage, I sometimes forget how pretty a simple cupcake with piped icing and decorative sugar can be. 

I made this cupcakes for my friend's birthdays (Happy (belated) Birthday Liz & Karen!) and they were really easy to decorate.

I started by making 24 cupcakes in cute hot pink/white/light pink striped cupcake wrappers I purchased at Sur La Table a while ago. Then, using white icing, I spooned it into a icing decorating bag, and decided to cut off the tip of the bag without using an actual decorating tip. From there, I piped the icing on each cupcake, starting from the outside and working my way to the middle. 

Before the icing had a chance to harden, I used my different decorative sugars and simply sprinkled the sugar over each cupcake. It makes a mess, but it's easy to clean.

For these cupcakes, I used pink, white, purple, multicolored, pink/orange/yellow, blue/green/purple and light green decorative sugar. I also used light green sugar pearls on a few of the cupcakes.

Overall, these cupcakes were delicious and looked great, and did not take that much effort. Next time you want to make cupcakes that make a statement, you don't always have to get out your Hello, Cupcake! book. Sometimes, cupcakes can be just as impressive when they're decorated with just some icing, sugar & sprinkles. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Basket Cupcakes

This Easter, I made these Easter Basket Cupcakes at the last minute. I wasn't planning on baking anything, but these are so easy to make and take such a short time that I couldn't resist. 

To begin with, bake 24 cupcakes, any variety. I baked mine in white wrappers to keep the color neutral. 

Then, take about 3/4 bag of shredded coconut and place it in a bowl. Add some green food coloring, and mix the coconut until it is all evenly coated and add more color until you reach your desired shade of green. 

Ice each cupcake with white icing, then take a handful of green coconut and press it against the icing until it is completely covered. 

Using any sort of Easter egg shaped candy, place three eggs in the middle of the cupcake.

Then, using rainbow Twizzlers, place a tooth pick in each end of the Twizzler so about half of the tooth pick is still showing. Insert the Twizzler into either side of the cupcake, bending it to look like a basket handle. 

In a short period of time, you have made Easter basket cupcakes! They are easy to make, but look adorable. Next Easter, definitely give these a try!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I Heart Macarons

I <3 Macarons, is a cookbook I own, and the recipes inside are pretty complicated. But, macarons are one of my favorite desserts, so when my mom saw this book in Urban Outfitters she knew she needed to buy it for me.

They used to sell macarons in Wegmans food stores, and that's how I got hooked on them. Now that they no longer sell them there, this book is perfect whenever I'm in the mood for some. 

Macarons are French, and they consist of two light and airy cookies sandwiched together with a cream filling. There are many different varieties, and this book has every variety you can think of. 

They need to be made in a very particular way, so the recipes may seem daunting at first. However, once you finish, they are so worth it!

If you're up for the challenge, these cookies are pretty to look at as well as delicious!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Baker's Edge Brownie Pan

My favorite brownies are the ones with edges, so when I found out they made pans specifically geared towards making edge-only brownies, I had to buy it. 

When you're making brownies, you use this Baker's Edge brownie pan no differently than a regular brownie pan. You use any brownie mix you want, then pour it into this pan instead. After pouring, make sure you spread the batter evenly throughout the pan.

When its done baking, literally every brownie has at least one edge! 

I bought my pan at Chef Central, but they sell them at many different retailers. If you love brownies, this is a pan you need to buy. It's easy to use, but makes the brownies extra delicious!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chocolate Trifle

For those of you who have never had chocolate trifle, you are seriously missing out. The recipe I use, from is to die for. Layers of fudgy brownies, sweet chocolate pudding and airy whipped cream come together to make the perfect dessert. 

To start, make sure you have something to serve the trifle in. It can be an actual trifle bowl, like the one pictured, or it's fun to use numerous smaller serving bowls to make individual portions. Either way, make sure you use something that's glass or at least see-through so you can see the pretty layers!

Next you bake a pan of brownies, any variety. I personally like to use ones that will come out the fudgiest, since those are my favorite. When they are cooled, cut the brownies into 1x1 squares, and divide them evenly so you can make two layers. 

Then, following the recipe, make the chocolate pudding. It consists of Cool Whip, sweetened condensed milk, and Jell-O pudding mix. You will also need extra Cool Whip for the 3rd layer. 

Once all of your layers are made, you can start putting together the trifle! Start with the brownie squares, and place them on the bottom of whatever serving bowl(s) you are using. I like to make a circular pattern, filling the outside rim of the bottom first, then making my way to the middle. Make sure you only use half of the brownies, since you'll need the rest for the second layer.

Next measure approx. half of the chocolate pudding, and pour it onto the brownies. Spread it around so you have a smooth, even layer, and make sure it touches the sides of the bowl so the layers are clearly defined from the outside. Next, use half of the Cool Whip to make the final layer. Then, repeat each of the layers once more so you have 6 layers total, and you are done!

For a finishing touch, I like to add chocolate chips or chocolate shavings to the top layer of Cool Whip. You can also add caramel, strawberries, raspberries, Oreo cookies, or whatever you want! Once you get the hang of making the trifle, it's easy and fun to personalize it. 

Whenever I make this chocolate trifle, everyone always raves about it. It's so delicious, and so easy to make. It also looks really pretty! It's perfect for a party or anything that involves a large group of people because it holds a ton of servings and is pretty filling. 

If you've never had a chocolate trifle, you have to try this one!!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

If you're a fan of pumpkin, these pumpkin whoopie pies are definitely something you need to try. They take a little bit of time to make, but are very much worth it.

Every year, I make these whoopie pies for Thanksgiving and they are always everyones favorite dessert. I use a recipe from (one of my favorite baking websites) & they are always so so good. I recommend browsing through the website next time you're in the mood to bake, since everything looks amazing.

To make these whoopie pies (or any type of whoopie pie) is simple, it just takes some time. First, you make a cake-like cookie dough that you spoon onto baking sheets in tablespoon-sized drops. You bake the cookies until the tops of the cookies, when lightly pressed, spring back. Then you make the filling, which usually consists of shortening, butter, sugar and a few other ingredients. When the cookies are cooled, you just take two, spoon some icing/filling into one of them, and sandwich the two cookies together to make the finished product!

These pumpkin whoopie pies are one of my favorite things to eat and make, and even though there are still many months until Thanksgiving & the Fall in general, who says you can't eat pumpkin during the summer? 

After you try these, definitely look at for more delicious recipes!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Wilton Color Mist (Food Color Spray)

Spray food coloring has to be one of my favorite things to use when I'm baking. Whenever you watch Ace of Cakes or DC Cupcakes, they always use air-brush food color, and Color Mist by Wilton is the closest I've gotten to air-brushing my icing or fondant like the pros. 

The picture I posted is of a cake I made for a friend's birthday. I covered the cake in a thin sheet of plain white fondant, then I used my Color Mist spray to give it a tie-dye effect.... it came out so cool! I used pink and yellow, which gave the cake a pink/orange/yellow tie-dye look. Wilton sells every color of the rainbow, and they are really inexpensive. One bottle is less then $4! 

In addition to spraying fondant, I have also used my Color Mist spray on cupcakes and cakes. After piping the icing on top of a cupcake and briefly spraying it with some color, it gives it a really cool professional-looking effect where some white and some color are showing at the same time. 

Using this spray makes everything look unbelievably professional... which is always what I'm striving for! It's cheap, easy to use, and will make any cake or cupcake look amazing! The only stores I've seen the spray at are specialty stores such as Michaels or A.C. Moore, but if you look here you can find your nearest retailer. 

Color Mist food coloring spray is something every baker needs!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Chef Central

The next time you need any baking-related accessories or supplies, visit the store Chef Central

There are only 2 locations, one in Paramus, NJ and the other in Hartsdale, NY but you can also order online. Although, if you live close enough you really should go to the store itself... it has everything you could ever need for baking or cooking, and browsing through everything is really fun. 

Chef Central is where I buy most of my cool baking pans, such as the Ice Cream Cone Cupcake Pan. I've also bought rolling pins, decorative sugar, cupcake wrappers, cake boxes, cake mix, food coloring and more! They have so much stuff that it's hard to leave without buying anything, but you'll definitely love anything you buy! 

Every time I go, I end up finding things that I never even knew existed, which is always exciting. They also have a lot of different accessories you can use with fondant, such as fondant rolling pins and cutters. 

Shopping for baking supplies and accessories is always fun, and Chef Central is definitely the place to go. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ice Cream Cone Cupcake Pan

The next time you're craving some ice cream, have it with a cupcake ice cream cone! I received my ice cream cone cupcake pan a few years ago, and I love using it. 

The pan comes with directions on how to make the cupcakes, and once they are baked and cooled, it's simple to make it a delicious dessert! You can pipe icing on top similar to soft-serve ice cream and top it with rainbow sprinkles. Or, you can use actual ice cream and just scoop some on top of the cupcake! However you decide to decorate it, it's a fun, easy and adorable way to eat a cupcake! 

The pan makes 6 cupcakes at a time, and one per person is the perfect serving size. Now I can't wait for summer so I can make these! 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Easter Lamb Cake

With Easter in about two weeks, it's time to start thinking about what to bake!

For the first time last Easter, I made this Lamb Cake using a cake mold I was given by a family friend. I didn't know this, but apparently making a cake in the shape of a 3D Lamb is an Italian Easter tradition, so since I'm Italian I decided I needed to give it a try. 

The mold was easy to use: I just followed the recipe that was given with the pan to make the cake. After letting the cake cool, I placed it on a white dish before icing it, since I knew it would be difficult to move it after it was done.

I iced the cake with white icing and used a bag of shredded coconut to cover it completely. All you have to do is take handfuls of coconut and press it against the wet icing, and it automatically makes the cake look more realistic. I set aside a little bit of the icing and died it a bright pink, and used that to ice the inside of the lamb's ears. Then I took white icing, made dots for the eyes, and then used black icing to make the insides of the eyes. I also used the black icing for the nose, using a toothpick to smooth the icing around and make it the shape that I wanted. 

When I was done with the lamb itself, I put about half a bag of shredded coconut in a bowl, added green food coloring, and mixed it around until all of the coconut had been dyed green. When I was done, it looked just like grass & I spread it around the lamb, adding egg shaped jelly beans that almost every store carries around Eastertime. When the cake was done, it was adorable! & the perfect centerpiece for Easter day. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Daisy Ann Cake Pan

I love shopping at Williams Sonoma, and another great cake pan I have from there is this Daisy Ann cake pan. 

   A Daisy Ann cake pan is pretty much just a cake pan, with a pretty design around the edges, that bakes with a small well in the middle that you can fill with berries, cream, icing or whatever you want! When I use my pan, I use this recipe which fills the well with lemon curd and uses different berries to decorate the top. It's the perfect summer dessert, and is so so good! 

     The cake is sweet but not too sweet, and the mix of the sourness of the lemon and the sweetness of the fruit is perfect! For anyone who's a fan of lemony things, this recipe is for you. When I make it, I decorate the cake with raspberries, blueberries, kiwi, strawberries, or whatever summer berries/fruit look good! 

    On the Williams Sonoma website, there are also some other recipes that you can make with this cake pan. Whichever recipe you decide to make, its an easy and delicious dessert that looks pretty no matter what!

This is a Daisy Ann Cake I made recently. It was delicious!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Oreo Cookie Cake

 I love this cake!

Going along with my post about the Oreo Truffles, I figured I'd share one of my favorite cake pans that I own. This cake is made with the Sandwich Cookie Cake Pan from Williams Sonoma, and you can also buy the cake mix for the pan from the store too! It's a little pricey, but definitely worth it. Not many people can say that they've made a cake in the shape of an Oreo cookie! And the mix that you buy from the store is delicious, and makes it really easy to make this cake! :) 

Even if you don't buy the mix from the store, you can use any cake mix that you want. You can also try varying the color of the icing in order to go along with any theme! (possibly yellow to mimic the springtime Oreos that are out this time of year?) Whatever you choose to do, this cake is going to be fun and easy to make, and eat! :) 

This is the cake mix and the pan that you can buy from Williams Sonoma!

(Famous) Oreo Truffles

You can't go wrong with Oreo Truffles.

In high school, I became kind of famous for my Oreo Truffles. They are easy to make, and are really really good. People are always asking me for the recipe, so now I'll just post it here!

What you need:

1 Pack of Oreo Cookies
1 8 oz bar of Cream Cheese, softened
1 12 oz bag of Chocolate Chips

*the chocolate chips can be semi-sweet, white, dark... whatever you want!

Making the truffles:

Step 1: Using a food processor, process the entire pack of Oreos until you create a fine, Oreo powder.

Step 2: Pour the Oreo powder into the bowl of a stand mixer, and add the softened bar of cream cheese. Mix the powder and the cream cheese until no white streaks remain.

Step 3: Place the Oreo truffle dough in the fridge, for about 30 minutes to an hour (or until it seems hardened enough to work with)

Step 4: Roll the dough into tablespoon-sized balls, then place them back in the fridge to harden so they do not fall apart in the melted chocolate.

Step 5: Melt the chocolate according to the directions on the package, then dip each Oreo truffle into the chocolate, coating completely and evenly.

Step 6: Let the chocolate harden, and then the truffles are done!! While the chocolate is still wet, you can add sprinkles or other toppings to the truffle. You can also drizzle a different type of chocolate on top!

These truffles are to die for, and they taste as though they are professionally made. No one will believe they were this easy! Everyone will fall in love with them, so make sure you make extras!

Monday, April 4, 2011

American Flag Cupcakes

These are easy to make!

If you ever need to make American Flag cupcakes, this is the way to make them! I got the idea from my Hello, Cupcake! book but I also used some of my own ideas.
In high school, we had a fake Inaugural Ball that was pretty much just a school dance, and I volunteered to make this for the event. They were gone within minutes! and pretty easy to make.

After making 48 cupcakes in white wrappers and letting them cool, and colored my icing red, blue and white. I started with the blue cupcakes, and after icing one I used mini marshmallows and/or white M&Ms to make a design (to replicate the 50 stars). I did this for 12 cupcakes, and varied my design each time.

Then I moved onto the 16 red cupcakes. For these, I used Twizzlers that I cut up, red Mike & Ike's, Swedish Fish, Red Jujube's, red M&M's and red star-shaped sprinkles.

For the 20 white cupcakes, I just iced them with white icing. You can also add white decorating sugar to make them stand out.

When I was done decorating each cupcake, I just had to organize them to look like an American Flag. and then it was done! To make them yourself, you can vary it however you want. Use whatever red and white candies you can find, and color the icing whatever shades of red and blue that you want! Just remember that laying 48 cupcakes out on a flat surface can take up a lot of room, so make sure you find somewhere that you can keep them or carry them when you're done! I used a sheet cake box from Michael's and it working out perfectly. Good luck!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Magnolia Bakery = Love

One of my favorite bakeries, anywhere. 

So I was just in NYC last weekend, and I had just enough time at the end of my day to stop at Magnolia Bakery and get some cupcakes :) best. place. ever. 

It's such a cute little bakery (I went to the one near Rockefeller Center, but there are 3 others in NYC). I've been there a few times before, but every time I go in I can hardly contain my excitement... everything just looks so good, and pretty! I got a Barbie cupcake (vanilla cake with pink buttercream icing) and a classic red velvet cupcake. They were both to die for. While we did have to wait in line for about 20 minutes, it was so worth it. Magnolia is prepared for crowds, and has someone letting you know when you can enter the actual store so it doesn't get too crowded on the inside. 

Here's a link to the menu (which has more than just cupcakes), but here are the cupcake flavors:

Red Velvet
Devil's Food
Truffled Chocolate

I don't think they have every flavor everyday, but no matter what's in the store its going to be delicious. They also have specials sometimes, like the Barbie cupcake!
Plus, if you love the bakery enough, they sell t-shirts and other Magnolia Bakery apparel :) 

Next time you're in NYC, take the trip to any of the 4 Magnolia's. It's worth it. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Babycakes Cupcake Maker

This cupcake maker reminds me of Easy-Bake Oven, but for adults!

From Easy-Bake Ovens to BabyCake Cupcake Makers 
(or Cake Pop, Donut, & Whoopie Pie Makers!)
Who else had an Easy-Bake Oven growing up?! Not only did I have one, I was pretty much obsessed with mine. My friends and I used to have Easy-Bake Oven bake-offs, where we would each bake something different in our individual ovens, then have our finished products taste-tasted and judged by someone who hadn't been baking. No matter the result, Easy-Bake Oven bake-offs were SO. MUCH. FUN.

Now that I'm in college (and not below the age of 10) I no longer use my Easy-Bake Oven :( Although, I did buy this awesome book, The Easy-Bake Oven Gourmet, a couple of years ago. It's a book full of recipes that you can bake in your Easy-Bake Oven, and when I saw it in Sur La Table I had to have it. I have yet to try any recipes, but I still have my oven, along with the Real-Meal Oven, Lemonade Maker, Blender and more (I wasn't kidding when I said I was obsessed), in my basement :)

I never thought I'd find myself baking in a portable oven again, until I got my BabyCakes Cupcake Maker for Christmas this year! It's honestly an Easy-Bake Oven, but for adults/people who are no longer young enough to use an Easy-Bake. I immediately fell in love with my BabyCakes maker as soon as I opened the box, and I suggest that anyone who misses their Easy-Bake go out and buy one asap. The little cupcakes it makes are adorable! And it comes with a recipe book that tells you how to make mini pies, tarts and more in it too! 

The first time I used it, I used mini muffin liners and boxed cake mix. The recipe book inside the box tells you how to prepare half a box of cake mix since with the cupcakes being so little, you can make a lot with only half a box. They were delicious! and they only take about 6-8 minutes for 8 of them to bake :) It's perfect for someone like me, who doesn't always have access to an oven since I'm away at college.

So, if you're like me, and loved (and still loves) your Easy-Bake Oven, get your hands on a Babycakes Cupcake Maker as soon as possible :) you won't regret it.

Babycakes also makes a Cake Pop, Donut, and Whoopie Pie Maker! Next time I see any of those while I'm shopping, I don't know if I'll be able to resist buying them! :) 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Layered Jell-O

These are so pretty, and fun to eat too :)
So I know that Jell-O isn't exactly something you bake, but since summer is so soon (or at least it feels like it's so soon) I figured I'd share this since it's a perfect summer dessert :) I made these layered Jell-O bars last summer for the first time, but my mom has been making them for years. They always come out so pretty! & like the fishbowl cupcakes, they're actually pretty easy to make! (they do take a long time to finish though... but it's so worth it!)

Here's the recipe that I used:

You need these ingredients for each layer: 
1 small package Jell-O
1 cup boiling water
1/3 cup Cool Whip
1 packet Knox gelatin
1/3 cup cold water

1. Dissolve the Jell-O in the boiling water.
2. Add the Cool Whip and stir until dissolved.
3. In a separate cup, combine the Knox gelatin with the cold water.
4. Stir the gelatin and cold water mixture into the Jell-O.
5. Pour into a 13x9 pan (or any pan close to that size).
6. Put the pan in the fridge for about 30 minutes to let it set. 

Repeat these directions for each layer of Jell-O you make!
& just continue to pour the Jell-O on top of the previous layer as you make more and more layers :)

You can do as many layers and use as many colors as you want :) I used the colors of the rainbow, but any combination of colors will come out great! No matter what, if you bring these bars with you to a party or just make them for fun, everyone is going to be impressed :) 
& if you like Jell-O, these bars are yummy too!