Monday, May 28, 2012

Red White and Blue Layer Cake

*~*~*Happy Memorial Day!!*~*~*

We celebrate Memorial Day as a day of remembrance for men and women who died in service to our great country.  Parades, patriotic ceremonies, and American flags placed on the graves of our veteran----these are the things I think of.  I also think of my own dad who died in 1971 when I was an infant.  He served as LCDR in the Navy, and was in WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.  He dedicated his life in service to the United States of America, having joined the Navy at a very young age.  He passed away when he had way more life to live!  I'm left with a few stories from my mom, a handful of pictures, and some of his precious Navy memorabilia.  Even more so, I'm left with feelings of pride and respect, knowing he loved God, his family, and our country.  Thank you daddy, for demonstrating courage, honor, and strength!  I miss you!

Many families gather for picnics and cook outs on Memorial Day.  Ours was no exception!  The six of us had quite a delicious dinner, followed by this incredible cake.

A simple from-scratch vanilla cake batter, brightly colored, and baked in thin layers, is just perfect adorned with simple fondant stars.

Begin by whipping up your favorite white cake recipe, either from a box, or from scratch.  Yellow cake would work perfectly fine too.  Equally divide your prepared cake batter into three bowls.  Color one portion red, one portion blue, and leave one portion white. 

Butter and flour THREE 8 inch cake pans.  Equally divide one of the colored batters into the three cake pans.   I do this by using my largest cookie scoop:  one scoop per pan, continuing until all the batter is gone.  Use a small offset spatula to spread the batter evenly to the edge of the pan.  This will seem like hardly any batter at all.  You're right!  

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the cakes are beginning to pull away from the sides of the pans.  Cool for a few minutes in the pans, run a knife along the edges, and flip out onto a cooling rack.  Wash your cake pans (unless you have nine of them?!) and repeat with the other colored batters.

Cool the cakes completely and then prepare your favorite frosting (or pop the top of your favorite canned frosting---it's all good!).   Spread a thin layer of frosting between each cake layer.  I alternated red, white, and blue layers, but you could arrange them any way you'd like.  My 11 year old suggested having all the blue layers on the bottom, followed by all the white layers, then all red.  That wasn't my vision (haha), but it would be fun as well!

Frost the cake with a "crumb coat" to lock in those patriotic crumbs. 

Follow up with a nice thick layer of frosting, and decorate any way you'd like!  I had some red and blue fondant saved from a previous cake, so I cut some simple stars to decorate our cake.

Will you make a layer cake for the Fourth of July this year?  If you do, please tell me all about it!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Thumbprint Butter Cookies

My baby is graduating from preschool tonight.  My BABY!  How is this even possible?!  For the past decade (or so) I've had a child in preschool.  This is life changing for me as a stay at home mom.   Oh my. 

After the preschool graduation program tonight we're having a cookie social.  Kids and cookies go great together!  Parents were asked to bring a dozen or so cookies to share, so I whipped up a batch of these yummy treats.

The cookies are light and buttery.  I put strawberry jam on some, and on some I put chocolate chips, which melted on the hot cookies, creating a puddle of chocolate.  Yum!!

Here's the recipe, which is from Taste of Home.  Enjoy!

Thumbprint Butter Cookies

6 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon butter flavor (I omitted this---I'm not a fan of artificial butter flavoring)
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
assorted jams or preserved (or chocolate chips!)

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg, oil, vanilla, and butter flavoring.  Combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt;   gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. 

Roll into 1 inch balls.  Place 2 inches apart on baking sheets.  Using the end of a wooden spoon handle (or your thumb!), make an indentation in the center of each.

Bake at 350 for 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned.  Remove to wire racks.  Fill each cookie with 1/4 teaspoon jam;  cool.  Yield:  2 1/2 dozen.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Pink Lemonade Squares

We had a dinner at church last night, so I made this delicious dessert.  Pink Lemonade Squares!  Creamy, cool, sweet, tart topping with a crunchy pretzel crust.  Just perfect for summer!

I found the recipe in one of my Pampered Chef cookbooks, and modified it a little bit with the addition of strawberries as a garnish.  In my rush to make the recipe, I also added the entire container of Cool Whip when mixing the topping instead of reserving one cup for garnish.  Oops!  No harm done---the extra Cool Whip in the topping is yummy!!  Here is the original recipe.  Make it this summer---it's absolutely perfect for a cookout!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Pocahontas Cake

*~*~*Happy 7th Birthday Ali!!!*~*~*

Pocahontas is made with the "frozen buttercream transfer" technique.  The birthday lettering is cut from fondant with my Cricut Cake Mini.  Love it!

Firetruck Cake

*~*~*Happy 1st Birthday Cooper!!!*~*~*

Friday, May 18, 2012

Monkey Baby Shower Cake

My friend Megan is expecting her first baby in a few weeks, so today we had a baby shower for her!  She is decorating the baby's room in a cute monkey theme, so I made a monkey cake.  Of course!

The monkey is made with rolled fondant, traced from clip art, and cut with an x-acto knife.  The trees were cut freehand, and the leaves were cut with a small leaf-shaped fondant cutter.  The letters are cut using my Cricut Cake machine (love it).

The cake was three layers of dark chocolate cake with peanut butter buttercream filling.  Delicious!

Congratulations Megan!  I can't wait to meet your little one when he or she arrives!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Banana Cupcakes with Nutella Frosting

It's Teacher Appreciation Week!!  I whipped up these cupcakes for some incredible teachers at the kindergarten center today, and though I didn't actually eat one, I can attest to their yumminess......because I licked the spatulas!  Haha!

I used the Banana Cupcake recipe from the adorable cookbook called Hello, Cupcake by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson.  This cookbook is SO adorable with some super fun cupcake decorating ideas.  I've made a few myself!

For the Nutella Frosting recipe, I visited one of my favorite blogs, Sweetapolita.  Please go take a peek!

I sure hope the kindergarten teachers enjoyed these treats.  For all the sticky hands they clean, shoelaces they tie, band aids they apply, hugs they give, and essentials they teach, they sure do deserve a treat!

Banana Cupcakes

1 2/3 cups  flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 medium ripe bananas
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 stick butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl.  In another bowl, mash bananas and buttermilk.  Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time.
Add the flour mixture alternatively with the banana mixture in batches, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Stir in vanilla.  Scoop batter into paper lined muffin tins and bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.  Yield:   18 or so standard sized muffins  (My batch yielded 21.)
Nutella Frosting
2 sticks butter softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 ounces Bakers chocolate, melted and cooled slightly (I used semisweet)
1/3 cup Nutella
1 tablespoon milk
pinch of salt

In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the powdered sugar and butter and beat on low speed for about 1 minute. Add vanilla, and beat on low speed until well combined. Add the melted and slightly cooled chocolate and beat on medium speed until smooth.  Add the Nutella, milk and pinch of salt, and beat on med-high speed until fluffy.  Spread or pipe on cooled cupcakes.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Mason's Baseball Cake

*~*~*Happy Birthday Mason!*~*~*

First Communion Cake and Cookies

Leeann's mom asked me to make a pink and yellow gerber daisy cake and sugar cookies to celebrate her First Holy Communion!

The daisies are rolled fondant and made with some awesome fondant cutters by PME of England.

The cookies are rolled sugar cookies, and also have daisies on them to match the cake.  The hall was to be decorated with fresh pink and yellow gerber daisies as well!   These were party favors for Leeann's guests.  Edible party favors are always a hit!

Thanks for looking!  Congratulations Leeann!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

TWD---Hungarian Shortbread

I've not made many shortbread recipes, so this one was a fun and unique experience for me!  Before reading the recipe though, just going by the name of the recipe, I anticipated a thin, crispy, buttery shortbread.  After reading the recipe through and viewing the picture, I looked forward to trying something new!

The most unique thing about this recipe, in my opinion, was the technique of freezing the dough, then grating it into the pan.  Yes, grating it! 

My five year old came along at this time and asked me if she could taste "that cheese".  Haha!  I gave her a few shreds and after the surprise of not tasting cheese, she said, 'Mmmmm!  Tastes like cookie dough!'

The dough has a whopping pound of butter.  Yes, four sticks of butter.

The recipe called for a homemade rhubarb jam in the center of the shortbread.  Instead, I made a homemade blackberry and strawberry jam.

Following the advice of fellow TWD bakers, I baked the bottom crust for 15 minutes before spreading on the cooled jam.

After that I grated on the remaining frozen dough (my arms got a great work out!), and I thought for a second that my Hungarian Shortbread looked like lasagna.

(Oh, and Sweetheart, if you're looking for a great Mother's Day gift idea, the kids would love to get me a Kitchenaid Food Processor!)

I baked the shortbread for 40 minutes and liberally dusted it with powdered sugar.

Once cool, I cut into small squares, and we all enjoyed one for dessert last night.  These Hungarian Shortcake bars are absolutely delicious!  They're so very buttery and rich, and a small little square is perfect. 

For the complete recipes, please visit two of my fellow Tuesdays With Dorie bakers' blogs.  Lynette of 1smallkitchen and Cher of The not so exciting adventures of a dabbler are this week's hosts.  They both chose to bake their shortbread in round pans, and they used different fillings than I did, so please go visit them and take a peek.