Saturday, March 31, 2012

Princess Tiara Cake

*~*~*Happy Birthday Princess Anna!!*~*~*

This Princess Tiara cake is perfect for a 5 year old princess!  The tiara is made with royal icing, which was carefully piped on wax paper (over a pattern), then air-dried over a cylinder (an oatmeal container!).  The bow is rolled fondant. Anna's name is also rolled fondant, which I cut with my Cricut Cake Mini (love this machine!).  The cake is also covered with rolled fondant, and has a quilted look to it.  I used a fondant impression mat for this, then went over the lines with a fondant rolling tool, and finished the look with little pink dots.

The cake itself is three layers of chocolate cake with Oreo buttecream filling.  Yum!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

A little treat for my kids' teachers to wish them a Happy Easter and Wonderful Spring Break!!   I'll put them in cute little Easter tins and tie with ribbon.

The recipe is from Taste of Home magazine in the December/January 2005 edition.  I adapted the recipe just a smidge.  I'll put an asterisk next to my additions in the recipe below.  

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (*I omitted)
1-1/2 pounds dark chocolate candy coating, coarsely chopped
*1/4 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until light andfluffy. Beat in vanilla. Gradually add flour, alternately with milk,beating well after each addition. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.

Shape into 1-in. balls; place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets.
Loosely cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until firm.

In a microwave, melt candy coating; stir until smooth. Dip balls incoating; allow excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. If desired, remelt remaining candy coating and drizzle over candies. Store in the
refrigerator. Yield: 5-1/2 dozen.

*I sprinkled tops with mini chocolate chips.

Parisian Birthday Cake

My friend Becky surprised her daughter for her 10th birthday, planning a huge surprise party!  It was a Paris theme, complete with stamped napkins, Eiffel Tower chocolate lollipops, and an Eiffel Tower on top of her cake.  Everything was decorated in black, pink, and white.  Jordan was thrilled!!  Here is the cake I made for her.

*~*Happy Birthday Jordan!!*~*

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Hummingbird Cupcakes

Today I made these scrumptious, moist, delicious cupcakes to donate to a fundraiser for our local kindergarten center.  They're having a big vendor/craft/bake sale to raise money for the playground fund.  I don't have a kindergartener this year, but I did last year, and I will next year!  :)

Anyway, I made "Hummingbird" cupcakes!  Have you ever heard of Hummingbird Cake??   Perhaps it's a Southern recipe because several of my friends up here in western PA have never heard of it before.  It has crushed pineapple, mashed banana, pecans, and a touch of cinnamon.  Yummy!!  The recipe is from Southern Living Cookbook, circa 1999.  It reminds me of my friend Kim in Virginia because she's the one that first introduced me to it! 

The recipe yields a three layer round cake.  I made one a few days ago for my husband to take to work for his customers.  Apparently this cake was "the talk of the simulator room"!  Thanks, honey!

Today I made cupcakes with the recipe, with no adaptations.  The recipe yielded 24 standard sized cupcakes, plus 1 mini loaf pan cake, which my family gobbled up at lunch.  Hungry, we were.

Here's the recipe for the cake, as well as my own cream cheese icing recipe.  Enjoy!


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained  
1 cup chopped pecans
2 cups chopped bananas

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
2 pound bag (8 cups or so) powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
dash of salt
1-2 Tablespoons milk

1/2 cup chopped pecans for topping

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; add eggs and oil, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. (Do not beat.) Stir in vanilla, pineapple, 1 cup pecans, and bananas.
Pour batter into three greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.

Prepare cream cheese frosting:   beat together softened cream cheese and softened butter.  Scrape down sides of bowl.  Add vanilla, salt, and powdered sugar.  Beat on low, drizzling in enough milk to reach desired spreading consistency. 

Spread Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake; sprinkle 1/2 cup chopped pecans on top. Store in refrigerator.

Dawn's note:   the recipe says "do not beat", and to mix ingredients by hand.  However, I used my stand mixer as I usually do.  Lazy much?  ;)

Bowling Cake

*~*~*Happy Birthday Natalie!! *~*~*

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pizza Cake

Looks like the real thing, eh??

The "crust" is simple yellow sour cream cake, and "sauce" is cream cheese frosting.  The "olives", "pepperoni", and "green peppers" are all rolled fondant.  And the "cheese" is grated white chocolate!  Awesome!

This "pizza" is up for auction tonight at the MOPS (Mothers Of Pre Schoolers) group for their Make It And Bake It Fundraiser.  May the best bidder win!!

Here's the box I decorated for the cake.   Ha!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tuesdays With Dorie: Irish Soda Bread

Top O' The Mornin' To Ya!   This week's TWD recipe was Irish Soda Bread, and I baked on St. Patrick's Day.  Obvious choice! 

We all enjoyed this loaf of bread!  It was rustic, crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside, and perfect slathered with butter.  I stuck to the recipe and didn't add any cheese or dried fruits.  My family's preference was to go simple, so I did. 

This recipes has only four ingredients, with the leavener being baking soda (hence the name!), so even the most novice bread-bakers will have success with this recipe.  It comes together very quickly, needs very little rising time, and bakes in less than an hour.  In other words, this recipe is definitely a keeper, and would be perfect beside a pot of stew or soup. 

Carla of Chocolate Moosey put dried cherries in her loaf, while Cathy of My Culinary Mission added Gruyere cheese inside and atop her loaf.   See how versatile this recipe is?  Next time, as I'm sure there will be a next time, I'll add some sharp cheddar and sliced green onions.  And the time after that I think I'll add some orange zest, a little sugar, and some dried cranberries!

Visit Tuesdays With Dorie to peek at other bakers' blogs! 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Charlie and Walter Cookies

The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, is here in Pittsburgh today.  I was very much looking forward to going and meeting her.  However, her schedule changed and the new time and location of her Pittsburgh stop today do not jive with my busy family's schedule.  I'm quite bummed.  (Ask my hubby---he saw the tears in my eyes yesterday afternoon when I realized this!)   I baked and decorated these lemon sugar cookies for Ree, in the shape of her family's two basset hounds, Charlie and Walter!  I'm disappointed I can't share them with her!

If you don't know who I'm talking about, Ree Drummond is The Pioneer Woman--- a blogger/photography/rancher's wife/mother/homeschool mom who has captivated me.  I, along with thousand of others, enjoy reading about her life on the ranch in sprawling Oklahoma (not far from my in-law's home).  She is a gifted cook and photographer, and her second cookbook has just released (Food From My Frontier).  I have her first cookbook and autobiography, both autographed, and was looking forward to meeting her in person and having her sign her newest books for me.  She has also written an adorable children's book,  Charlie the Ranch Dog

Anyway, Ree, these cookies are for you!   Hope you don't mind if my kids, hubby, and I eat them on your behalf.   ;)   If you add a book stop in D.C., I'll do my best to get there!  Otherwise, perhaps I can convince my father-in-law to go to your book signing in Ponca City later this spring.   He's the one who had your first two books signed for me. ;)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Leprechaun Hats

Aren't these little Leprechaun Hats adorable??!!!

I wish I could claim these as my own idea, but nope.  I saw them here and I thought they'd be so fun to make for my kids' classes at school!  (Visit The Domestic Rebel's blog for some other yummy goodness and witty words if you have the time!)

If you peeked at the link, you'll notice I made a few changes to the method of making these cuties.  I also didn't set them atop cupcakes.  Now, don't get me wrong, I love cupcakes as you know, but I seriously think my kids' teachers would call me nuts if I sent such a huge, sugary treat to school!  ;)


This is what you'll need:

*jumbo marshmallows
*Fudge Stripe cookies (I found chocolate ones!)
*green candy melts
*yellow M&Ms or Skittles or Reeses' Pieces

You'll also need wax paper, cookie sheets, and black frosting, black royal icing, or edible ink pen.

Begin by laying out your cookies, bottoms up, on a wax paper-covered cookie sheet.  Melt the candy melts according to package directions in a deep, narrow bowl.  Dip one flat end of each jumbo marsmallow in the melted candy and place one each cookie. 

If you have room in your refrigerator, chill for about 15 minutes to set the candy.

For the next part you'll need a long-tined fork, like a dinner fork, and a spoon.  Drop one cookie into the melted candy and spoon the candy over the marshmallow, allowing it to drip down over the cookie.  Slide the fork under the cookie and tap, tap, tap the side of the bowl, allowing the excess melted candy to drip off the cookie.  Gently lay the cookie back on the wax paper.  Repeat with remaining cookies.

Place cookie sheet back in the fridge to set the candy, about 15-30 minutes.  While you're waiting, try not to eat the entire bag of Reeses' Pieces or M&Ms while you're sorting out the yellows.  *eh hem* 

Remove the chilled cookies from the fridge and pipe a black line around the hat and immediately stick on a yellow candy.  The black frosting will set up very quickly because the cookies are cold!

Have fun making these adorable Leprechaun Hats for your kiddos!  or yourself......!  ;)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Peppermint Bliss Brownies

Chewy, fudgy brownies.  Refreshing mint buttercream frosting.  Semisweet chocolate glaze.  *drool*

There are lots of recipes "out there" for grasshopper brownies or other mint brownies, but I went with my own favorite recipes and combined them to make a super delicious treat! 

Brownie Layer

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Peppermint Frosting Layer

1 stick butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. mint extract
1 Tbsp. water
dash of salt

Chocolate Glaze Layer

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
2 Tbsp. white Crisco

To prepare brownie layer, first preheat your oven to 350.  Spray an 8 or 9 inch baking pan with nonstick spray for baking. 

In a large mixing bowl, melt 2 stick butter.  Stir in sugar and beat by hand until incorporated.  Add eggs and vanilla and beat by hand until smooth.  Add cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and salt.  Stir in until no lumps of flour remain.  Spread into prepared pan.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of brownies comes out with moist crumbs.  Cool completely on wire rack.

To prepare peppermint layer, beat together all ingredients until smooth.  Spread over cooled brownies.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

To prepare chocolate glaze, place chocolate chips and shortening in a microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave on high for 1 minute.  Stir until chocolate chips are melted.  If necessary, microwave an additional 10 seconds and stir again until smooth.  Spread over chilled brownies.  Refrigerate at least 30 to 45 minutes until chocolate glaze has chilled and set up.  Cut into squares.  Store in refrigerator.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are the best of three worlds-----peanut butter cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and oatmeal cookies!

The recipe was given to me years ago by a friend, and she called them Poppin Fresh Cookies.  That's a great name, but it wouldn't give any of you a clue as to the ingredients, so I just changed the name for the sake of the blog.  They are what they are-----delicious, chewy, yet slightly crunchy on the outside.  Mmmmm!

1 cup softened butter
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups quick cooking oats
6 oz. chocolate chips

Beat together butter and peanut butter.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add brown sugar, and beat well.  Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Beat on low until combined.  Add the oats and chocolate chips.  Stir.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Use a medium cookie scoop to place dough on parchment paper-covered cookie sheets.  Bake for 12 minutes, or until very lightly golden.  Cool on wire rack........or eat hot, straight from the oven, with a big glass of cold milk!  


P.S.  I made my cookies with a large cookie scoop, and then pressed them down slightly with the bottom of a glass.  I baked for closer to 14 minutes.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Wild Princess Cake

Sydney's 2nd Birthday theme is "Wild Princess"! 

This cake was inspired by an adorable outfit her mom bought for her to wear at her birthday party.   The outfit  had leggings with one leg as a zebra print, the other leg as turquoise with white dots, and pink ruffles around the ankles.  I'm sure Sydney will be adorable at her party today! 

The zebra stripes and polka dots are rolled fondant.  The princess tiara is rolled fondant with royal icing detail.  The ruffles are buttercream.  Unnoticeable in the picture is some pink edible glitter on the ruffles.

The bottom tier is chocolate fudge cake with strawberry buttercream filling.  The top tier is white almond cake with bavarian cream filling. 

*~*~*Happy Birthday Sydney!!!*~*~*

Blueberry Scones

I bought a pint of fresh blueberries this week, but my blueberry-loving 10 year old declared them too tart to eat.  I decided to bake something with them for breakfast today, but instead of the standard idea of blueberry pancakes or muffins, I went for something just as easy, but a little different----scones!

After making the scones and popping them in the oven, I had leftover blueberries, so I make a quick sauce.  I just microwaved them in the oven with a heaping tablespoonful of sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice for about 4 minutes until the berries had popped.  No need for a recipe.  Berries and sugar are hard to mess up.  ;)

The recipe for scones is from Taste of Home.  I love their simple recipes!  The only change I made to the recipe is the addition of some coarse sugar which I sprinkled on the scones before baking (after brushing with milk).  I love the extra crunch that coarse sugar gives on top of muffins and scones.

4 cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons sugar
4-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold butter
2 eggs
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk, divided
1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
2 Tbsp. coarse sugar

In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a bowl, whisk eggs and 3/4 cup milk; add to dry ingredients just until moistened. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; gently knead in the blueberries.  Divide the dough in half. Pat each portion into an 8-in. circle; cut each into eight wedges. Place on greased baking sheets. Brush with remaining milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes or until tops are golden brown. Serve warm. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tuesdays With Dorie: Rugelach

This week's recipe, Rugelach, was yummy, messy fun!  I'd never made rugelach before, nor was I even sure how to pronounce it.  I'm still a bit confused.  Is rugelach a singular word or plural?  Should I capitalize the word?  Grammar police, help!

Anyway, this week's hosts for TWD:  Baking With Julia are Jessica from My Baking Heart and Margaret from The Urban Hiker.  Please visit their blogs for the complete recipe and some beautiful photographs of their rugelach!  (Rugelachs with a plural s??  Ugh.)

The rugelach is a cookie, I suppose.  The dough is a cream cheese dough, which is so tender, but not-so-sweet, which is perfect. 

After dividing the dough, rolling, and cutting in half, a homemade apricot jam, called "lekvar" is spread on.

Then a cinnamon-sugar mixture is sprinkled in, followed by dried fruits and nuts.  I chose cranberries and pecans.  Yes, this seemed to be a tremendous amount of filling for the dough, and I wondered how I would be able to roll them up.   A few nuts and fruits escaped, but it worked!

The logs were chilled overnight, then brushed with an egg wash and sliced.  I used my electric knife to simplify things. 

The cookies are then rolled in a cinnamon-sugar-nut mixture.

Then the cookies are finally ready to bake!

The result is a sweet, delicious, tender yet crunchy yet chewy treat!  These will definitely be reserved for Christmas or other fancy-treat occasions, but the recipe is surely a keeper.  Next time I think I'll cut them smaller and possibly omit the cinnamon sugar on top.   I'll change up the filling, too!  It's fun to customize recipes, don't you think?  

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Caramel Fudge Brownies

I combined my favorite fudge brownie recipe with my favorite caramel recipe and added pecans and chocolate chips.  Caramel Fudge Brownie perfection!!!

The brownie batter is a Hershey recipe, and you can find it here.  It is sooooo yummy, and simple, and I usually have all the ingredients on hand!  I have made some adaptations to the recipe (added ingredients) for these brownies, but for a basic fudgy brownie, visit the Hershey website to see the original recipe.  Yum yum! 

Ya know, you could also use a boxed brownie mix and no one would ever fault you.  I keep boxed mixes on hand and use them frequently!  Semi-homemade, it's called!  ;)

Caramel Fudge Brownies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, divided
2 cups chocolate chips (semisweet are fine), divided
1/2 to 3/4 cup caramel (recipe below, or you can use storebought)

In a microwave safe, medium sized bowl, melt butter in microwave, about 1 1/2 minutes.  Stir in sugar and vanilla.  Add eggs and beat by hand until eggs and incorporated.  Add cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and salt, and stir gently until mixed.  Stir in 1 cup chopped pecans and 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips.  Pour into greased 9 x 13 inch baking pan.  Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup pecans and 1/2 cup chocolate chips on top.  Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30 t0 35 minutes or until brownie are set in the center and begin to pull away from the sides of the pan.  Remove to cool on a wire rack.

While brownies are baking, prepare the caramel!  Below is an easy from-scratch recipe for caramel that is so versatile.  If you don't want to bother making your own, you can certainly use caramel ice cream topping (though it's thinner) or warm up some prepackaged caramel dip (found by the apples in the produce section).  You could also melt the packaged, individually wrapped little square caramels as directed on the package directions.  Whatever you have time and energy for! 



1 cup butter (no substitutes)
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons vanilla 

In a heavy saucepan, bring butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk to a boil over medium-low heat.  Stirring continuously, bring caramel to the "soft ball stage", which is between 235 and 245 degrees.  Use a candy thermometer and stir constantly!!!  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Pour into a bowl immediately to cool slightly before drizzling on brownies.  Save the leftovers for dipple apple slices, spooning over ice cream, filling cupcakes, etc.  


I found the caramel recipe here several years ago and have made it numerous times for caramel apples as well.  You must boil the caramel to the "hard ball stage" for coating apples, however.  Visit the website to see the full recipe for that.  Caramel making may seem intimidating, but it's really easy!  Again, use a candy thermometer and stir, stir, stir!!