Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cupcakes, cupcakes and a cake!

Cupcakes for Breast Cancer Awareness
WOW! So much has happened since my last post. I've had a wonderful September not only because it was my birthday, and I got the interview date for grad school, BUT I got some cupcake gigs and a birthday cake gig!
As you know I love to bake and will find any excuse to. I started a new job at this restaurant at the end of August - a privately owned place, wine bar cafe. I made a few things a couple times and the owners really liked them - including my cupcakes :) Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness, they asked me to bake cupcakes for the WHOLE month of October! All proceeds will be going to Breast Cancer research. I'm SO excited, but SO nervous! I will be baking EVERY day for a month straight. I'm narrowing down my choices on flavors, but I am thinking an almond cupcake w/ a light lavender buttercream and a Mexican chocolate cupcake. All will be topped off with a pink fondant ribbon. Wish me luck!

Cupcakes for my friend's B-day - Almond cake and a variety of icings...Cherry Amaretto, Chocolate, and Lavender buttercream.

Along with the cupcakes, one of the owners asked me to make a birthday cake for his son's 2nd birthday. I decided to be ambitious and make my first 3 layer stacked cake! It will be a super hero theme. I planned it all out, and I can visualize it in my head... I'm just trying to plan for "the worst case scenario." I can't wait to put it together this weekend and post pics!
I have two other cupcake "events" - one is for my aunt's engagement party and the other is for a girl I work with, for her sorority. October is gonna be CRAZY!! But I'm so happy I have been given these opportunities. Can't wait to post pic updates of all the baking I will be doing :)

My new cupcake carrier I got for my Bday!

Also today I found a new cupcake place at the mall. Its called YoCakes! And it has two of my favorite foods: cupcakes and frozen yogurt. It was the grand opening today, so everything was 50% off - I tried 3 cupcakes. Vanilla/Vanilla, Chocolate/Vanilla, and Strawberry. The cake parts were great, the icing on the vanilla and the chocolate were good. The strawberry was not so good - did not even taste like strawberry. The design of the cakes and set up of the place is kinda like Georgetown cupcakes. I'd go here, but not go out of my way to go her. I still am waiting for Georgetown Cupcakes to be built in Bethesda!! I can't wait :)

September has been such a great month - October should be even better (even though I have a feeling I'm gonna be a little stressed out!) ~Cara Lee

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Any excuse to bake

So I have a work meeting tomorrow, so I figured it's a good excuse to make another batch of cupcakes :) I wasn't sure whether people would be in the mood for vanilla or chocolate so I found a recipe for vanilla almond cupcakes. I love me some almond flavoring! What's a bit different about this recipe is there are no eggs, it uses coconut milk, and almond meal. Just a little warning about the almond meal - its friggin expensive!! But the cupcakes came out great. As for the icing I made the blackberry buttercream that was listed with the recipe. It comes out to a beautiful purple/pink color. I also made a batch of white chocolate cream cheese buttercream. Both taste great with the cake. For decor, I'm not experience in fondant yet, but for now I sprinkled a bit of pearl dust to add a beautiful shimmer to the icing. I Hope they like them tomorrow!

Vanilla Almond Cupcakes
(From Love and Olive Oil)

Makes 12 cupcakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup almond meal
1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup oil
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 vanilla bean (seeds only)

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, sift together flour, almond
meal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add sugar and mix. Whisk together oil, coconut milk, vanilla bean, and almond extract. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix until relatively smooth. Fill cupcake liners with a scant 1/4 cup of batter (should be just under 2/3 of the way full). Bake for 20-22 minutes or until golden, and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to cooling rack and allow to cool completely. *Notes: I doubled the recipe to make about 18 regular size cupcakes and 12 mini cupcakes.

Blackberry Buttercream
(From Love and Olive Oil)

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons fresh blackberry puree, strained

1/2 vanilla bean (seeds only)
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

For frosting, cream butter in electric mixer for 1-2 minutes until fluffy. Slowly add 1 cup sugar and beat until smooth. Add blackberry puree and mix until combined. Add remaining confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and beat until well incorporated. Add vanilla bean and extract and mix at medium-high speed until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Pipe or spread onto cooled cupcakes.
*Notes: When making fresh blackberry puree - use a cheesecloth to strain the seeds. White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
Baking Bites)

4-oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1-oz white chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp milk or cream
2-3 cups confectioners’ sugar

In a large mixing bowl, cream together cream cheese, butter and melted white chocolate. Beat in vanilla and milk, then add in the confectioners’ sugar gradually until the frosting reaches your desired consistency (make it a bit stiffer if you wish to pipe it onto the cupcakes instead of spreading it with a knife).
Spread frosting onto cupcakes with a knife, or transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a wide tip and pipe onto cooled cupcakes. *Notes: I used 1/3 of a fresh vanilla bean in place of the vanilla extract. I also used about 2-3oz white chocolate.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day Weekend

I had one of the most amazing Labor Day weekend vacations I've had in a long long time! I completed my first 1/2 marathon! I ran (well jogged) in the Rock and Roll 1/2 Marathon in VA Beach. That's 13.1 miles folks. No walking! It's such an amazing feeling I cannot tell you. I have so much more appreciation for running, and am looking forward to more races in the future. I'm not ready for a full marathon yet - it's just not a distance you take lightly - but one day!

Honestly, one of the reasons as my motivation to run and stay fit is so I can eat the things I enjoy. And unfortunately I LOVE sweets! Cupcakes, cookies, brownies... love them! Aaron and I were craving some homemade rice crispy treats when we got home tonight. I made half the recipe regular, then I kicked up the 2nd half of the batch with some Mexican chocolate! I'm kinda obsessed with it right now you could say. I was quite surprised they came out really good! They're quite sweet and you can really taste the cinnamon. The sugar crystals give it a bite.
Mexican Chocolate Rice Crispy Treats
(This is the mini recipe I kinda of came up with on the spot - you can modify the measurements to fit your needs)
-2 tbls unsalted butter
-1/2 bag of mini marshmellows
-1/2 a bar of Ibarra Mexican Chocolate
-A few dashes of vanilla extract
-2 1/4 cups rice crispies cereal
1. Chop up the chocolate and set aside
2. Melt the butter
3. Add marshmellows, mix with the butter
3. Then add the chocolate and a few dashes of vanilla.
4. Stir until melted and incorporated - I like a few marshmellow chunks
5. Remove from heat and add the rice crispies. Stir until rice crispies are coated with marshmellow mixture.
6. Transfer to a small pan - I used a 6x9in pan. Use wax paper to press down and mold into pan. Let cool.
7. EAT
*Some notes: I like my rice crispies chewy - so add more and less cereal depending on your taste :)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Cupcakes and a Bulldog

Just had to post this for fun. Two things I love - my dog (an English bulldog named Rocco) and cupcakes!