Eyeballs and Octopussies

9 Jun

So I got bored the other day and decided to decorate cookies. But that wasn’t all I did – I set up a goofy photoshoot for them, too! I made these with crappy Betty Crocker mix sugar cookies, because I wanted them to come out quick and that recipe involves no chilling. They taste like crap, but they look awesome! I made eyeballs, undersea creatures, Texas, armadillos, dinos, and aTm helmets. I think that armadillos (arm-uh-DEE-yohs) are my favorite!

Mom was having fun with the cookies bahahaha.

Did you know that the ocean is made of tissue paper?

If y’all ever need cookies, you know who to call!

Happy Birthday Katherine!

8 Jun

Amanda and I made a cake for a girl’s 15th birthday this weekend. It’s totally my favorite cake so far! Her mom called wanting a two tiered chocolate one like the Republicake, so we priced that for her, and she got all cheapo on us (apparently she’s a rich lady) and decided on a single tier many layer white cake with vanilla buttercream covered in white fondant.

Oh shit. Fondant.

Seriously, thanks Food Network for making everyone think fondant is some simple thing to use, and that it’s normal to have it on every cake instead of just wedding cakes now. That stuff is a pain in the ass! But it went on better this time, and there were only a few spots to cover up. Dude it doesn’t even taste good!

We also got to play with gum paste for the first time! That stuff is awesome! I need to pick up a tub for myself and some little tools and stuff.

Ooh and one of those grass piping tips! That was fun, too!

I hope Katherine liked this cake – her mom didn’t even know her own daughter’s favorite color! She got one hell of a deal on it too – 4 tiered cake, decorated with fondant and gum paste for  $60. That’s why we were lazy on the butterflies hehehe.

The way the petals are bent out give it a really cool dimensionality that just flat or piped flowers wouldn’t have – I think that’s my favorite part! It has cool shadows. We were definitely stoked with how this one turned out!

Carrot Cake Step by Step and an extra good Good Dessert!

10 May

My mom has this dessert that she makes called the good dessert. I think it’s kinda boring, it’s all from boxes/tubs, and the flavors don’t especially work well or compliment each other. It’s a layer of not really shortbread with nuts, cream cheese, pistachio pudding, chocolate pudding, and Cool Whip (yes, Cool. Whip.) topped with more chopped nuts. But Bulldog LOVES it. He always requests it. I guess it’s one of those desserts that has a nostalgic thing going for it.

Good Dessert

Anyway, I made it and threw in some secret ingredients – namely 3 Tbsp powdered sugar and about 3 Tbsp more butter, and adjusted the ratios of each layer a little bit, and apparently I hit the nail on the head, because the entire dish was gone by the end of the meal! So here’s the recipe:

The Good Dessert

1/2 stick butter

1 cup AP flour

1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnut, toasted

Melt the butter and mix the above together and press into the bottom of an 8 x 8 pan. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, til it’s barely golden, and allow to cool completely. You just don’t want it to get soggy when you pile the rest on top.

1 8 oz brick cream cheese

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 8 oz tub Cool Whip

pinch salt

Beat the above together and spread about 3/4 of on top of the shortbread layer once it has cooled.

Pistacio instant pudding mix

Chocolate instant pudding mix

4 cups milk

Prepare each pudding mix and spread about 3/4 of each on top of the cream cheese layer, pistachio then chocolate is how we like it.

Top with the rest of the Cool Whip and more chopped toasted nuts (about 1/2 cup). This is the good dessert. Done.

And now for the carrot cake. I used Rose Levy Beranbaum’s recipe form Rose’s Heavenly Cakes, and adapted her Dreamy Creamy White Chocolate Frosting (aka ganache) to fit the type of frosting my mom likes. I was debating whether to use her recipe or the one from Best New Recipes, and I decided to use their method, which involves making an emulsion of the wet ingredients to avoid and dense sinky bottom, with her ingredients. It worked great and this is definitely a great old fashioned carrot cake. I also added some nutmeg and cloves like in the BNR recipe.

Rose’s Carrot Cake from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes

2 2/3 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup minus 2 tbs light brown sugar
1 1/4 cups canola or safflower oil
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups shredded carrots

Toast about a cup of nuts (I threw those in instead of raisins) and chop them, then toss with 2 Tbsp flour.

While they toast, shred a pound of carrots. Grate some extra to snack on – it’s better than snacking on batter!

Gather your dry ingredients – yes, that is cocoa powder, the secret ingredient that makes it taste old fashioned in an awesome way!

See how everything is all nicely and neatly gathered? The OCD monster in my head is satisfied.

Now here’s the magical part. Process the wet, excluding the oil, in the food processor until frothy. With the processor on, drizzle in the oil, like when you’re making mayo, and process until it lightens in color. This is your emulsion! Now you can pour it into a normal mixing bowl and continue like with any other cake. Bake at 350 for 45 – 55 minutes, until spongy on top and just barely beginning to pull away from the pan at the sides. Cool for about 10 minutes, then depan!

Dreamy Creamy White Chocolate Frosting

9 oz white chocolate melted
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
12 oz cream cheese, softened
1/8 tsp vanilla or almond extract

I threw in couple of cups of powdered sugar, since that’s the way my mom likes it, plus it was very runny

Beat everything together until combined!

This cake is dense, but in a good way. It’s not overly sugary, and the spice mix (I threw in 1/4 tsp nutmeg and 1/8 tsp cloves like in the BNR carrot cake) was not overpowering. Everything seemed to work very well together, and the cocoa powder is the secret! Do NOT leave it out! It makes it awesome!!

Sarita’s Birthday Cake!

5 Apr

Ok, ok, cake in a second…but first, I’ve been blogged!! My friend Tina‘s sister Kathy has random cravings for the chewy chocolate ginger cookies that I make, so last time Tina was in town, I gave her some to take to her sister (dur, and to nom on on her way back to Austin). They photo-ed them (yes, I am lazy and turned photo into a verb) and they look awesome! Both these girls have loads of Foodgawker-worthy photos on their blogs and Flickrs. Kathy makes the most awesome cake pops (dude check out the fur on these puppy pops) and was featured in the Austin Statesman. And now I will stop using so many asides (the things in parentheses).

Sarita is my sister-in-law who is totally awesome and super fun and probably the most perfect person that could come along to fit in our family. We all love her and she’s into cool stuff like going to shows and being all crafty and artsy and photography-y. It was her birthday in March, so I decided to make her a badass birthday cake. Here is what came of it.

I know she likes pistachio almond ice cream, and also yummy citrus flavors, so I decided to switch up the almond chiffon cake and throw in some ground up pistachios instead of almonds, keeping the almond extract. Pistachio-almond cake! I brushed it with almond simple syrup, and put orange preserves and orange whipped cream between the layers. Oh yeah. Three layers. This cake was sky high! Like 6 inches!

Aww look at the birthday girl! I couldn’t ask for a better sister. We had lots of good food and even PJ came down!  She got a whole new crop of plants, herbs, and flowers to plant in her garden after everything got killed in the freezes this winter. She was stoked! And that was the day me and PJ rode around downtown with dude from over at Houston Fixed Gear. It was probably the most fun day I’ve had this whole year.

A couple weeks later, Bulldog and Sarita went on vacation to Jackson Hole, and I took care of the boys, Toby and Lyle. Lyle gets a little extra bowl of kitty kibbles on top of the kitchen table because Toby is a chunky boy and eats Lyle’s kibbles. Anyway, Toby and Lyle made them a little welcome home treat – yellow cupcakes with tangelo buttercream and Welcome Home spelled out in cookies! You can tell it’s from them because it said meow!! I heard these were very yummy…maybe I need to team up with Toby and Lyle on a project…no tuna cakes!!

Ok, I am lazy, but I do want to say the Easter mango tart was a huge success, I rode 12+ miles today on my fixie, and  my aunt and I are waiting on our homemade strawberry-lemon marshmallows to set. Hope everyone had a good Easter aka Zombie Jesus Day!!



25 Mar

This is our cake for the Republican Primary election party a couple of weeks ago. There was a shindig over at Napa Grille in Sugar Creek and we supplied the dessert! It was a [dairy-free] chocolate cake with chocolate ganache between the layers, dressed in a dark chocolate buttercream – awesome! I’ll spare all the nitty gritty (or sugary spicey?) and just say it was a huge success and everyone loved it and we were overwhelmed with awesomeness.

Amanda made a little fondant Republican elephant and made it all cute!!

I did the frosting and made fondant Texas-es. I don’t know how to pluralize Texas. Probably because there can be only one.

Amanda decorated it with little fondant stars on top! She was the decorating genius behind the cake, I just follow the recipe directions hehehe.

Hospitality Room Baking

24 Mar

So one of my best friends got married March 6th, and asked me to do some baking for her hospitality room. I gladly agreed, forgetting about all the obligations a bridesmaid has the week of the wedding, too. I decided to get a leg up on the job and prepare all the cookie doughs in advance, so that the day before, all I would have to do is bake them off, bake the brownies and lemon bars, and decorate the sugar cookies. All together I’d say I only worked about 6 hours that day, and that included a botched batch of brownies! I delivered with 240 peices!

I made chocolate chip cookies using my favorite Best New Recipes recipe with milk and semisweet Callebaut chocolate chunks. Oooh that chocolate is so good! Hershey’s chips…spleck. Even Ghirardelli can’t hold a candle to it. I still have some left over in the fridge for another day when I decide to make some more cookies, or decorate something with mini chunks. These guys were small, perfect little tablespoons and baked up picture perfect! Donuts wanted in on the action, as usual. I mixed them up a few days early, rolled them, and froze them.

She also wanted some frosted sugar cookies, so I used Martha’s recipe and cut out plain circles with a biscuit cutter, and cut little hearts into some of them. I saved the hearts…they were like donut holes!! Frosted them with bootleg (aka no meringue powder or egg white) royal icing in pink and red. Circles were frosted solid and had little white heart sprinkles in the middle. Mmmm.

Brownie bites were next…I had a bit of an adventure with these. I had tried about 3 or 4 different recipes and settled on my tried and true favorite from AllRecipes, with a tablespoon of espresso powder thrown in. Mmm fudgy > cakey. And chewy? Um gag. However, I screwed up and put too much batter in the cups and they poofed over the edge, so I tossed them and had to make another batch. I wanted that poured ganache smooth top kind of look. The second batch came out perfect! I think I heard the most raves about these! I made a ganache-y sorta frosting with powdered sugar and melted semisweet chocolate and just poured it on until it completely covered the brownie and topped it with a little heart sprinkle. Sorry…only got a photo on the camera phone.

Last but certainly not least were the lemon bars. I used all regular lemons this time (I know, someone who will not be mentioned thinks that just because they’re a special kind of lemon and blahblah uses them and they are more expensive that they are better, but I wanted these to be really lemony, and lets face it, you’re not gonna get that lemon pucker using a mandarin/lemon hybrid fruit!), and was really satisfied with the tartness. I cooked the base and the custard longer this time, and they were really nicely set and cut perfectly. People really like these, with lots of people saying it was their favorite out of all the desserts!

So all in all, I think years of my mom’s Christmas baking prepared me for this pretty well, and everyone liked the treats, so it was a success! Definitely looking forward to doing more things like this in the future! Not in the words of Henry Rollins, I am a machine!

26 Feb

I’ve been lazy again. More like I’ve been in another town, baking, riding fixies, and running like crazy. I have a big job baking for a hospitality room for a wedding, so we’ll see what goes on with that! It will put my no snacking rule to the test…none of those cookies are for me so I can’t nom them! But it’s raining now, so if this goes on, expect more posts. No more lazy ass Katie hanging out on the computer right before bed, I’m that crazy girl that goes and runs 3 miles in the sleet before she goes to sleep.