October 30, 2009

spider web cupcakes

i stole this idea from bakerella, one of my new favorite bloggers. happy halloween everyone!

October 25, 2009

maple-sugarer's birthday

word of mouth is starting to work. about a month ago i donated a cake to an on-line auction fundraiser for the Flynn. a few people bid on one of my cakes, and so far, at least three of the people who didn't win the bid called me anyway! one woman called because she was planning a surprise party for her husband's 60th birthday. he is a maple sugarer, so she wanted to pull that theme in a little bit, but since it was a fall birthday, and sugaring doesn't start until the spring, we went with more of a fall theme. here are the pics:

yellow buttermilk cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting and marzipan leaf toppers: 

chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting and marzipan toppers:

maple walnut cake with maple cream frosting:
see the little sap bucket on the tree?

happy fall everyone!

October 21, 2009

MarthaStewartCupcake Club Bonus: banana pecan with caramel buttercream

september's MSC club bonus was to make banana pecan cupcakes. i never got around to it. but, recently, i just happened to have some rotten bananas that were begging to redeem themselves in the form of delicious baked goods. how could i not oblige them? and what perfect timing -- book club tonight and grey's anatomy night with the girls tomorrow.

i don't really have much to say about the cupcake part -- pretty standard, though i see no need to splurge with 3 cups of cake flour. i'm sure regular flour would make the cupcakes taste pretty similarly. i did use cake flour -- i don't like to stray from the recipe first time around.

on to the frosting... caramel swiss meringue buttercream frosting. first, a confession: i have never made my own caramel before. i thought i had. i claimed that melting butter, sweetened condensed milk, and those caramel cubes was making my own caramel. i really did think that was homemade. but now i know the difference. making your own caramel entails boiling sugar and water FOREVER until it turns a dark amber. i watched it and watched it and i thought it was never going to turn dark amber like martha promised.

it finally did though, and then i added the heavy cream. it sizzled and sizzled and bubbled as i stirred until it really did become a very delicious (and HOT) caramel. then i let that cool. (i decided i would try to speed up the cooling process by removing it from the hot sauce pan, but it turns out that it cooled down too much, and i needed to reheat it anyway to turn it liquidy again).

the next step: mix the butter just enough to soften it, then set aside. this is the step where i realize that a great thing for someone to get me for christmas is a second kitchen aid mixing bowl. i had to set the butter aside and wash my one bowl (sad, single, lonely bowl) for step 3.

step 3: prepare simmering hot water bath in large pot. whisk egg whites and sugar in mixing bowl in hot water bath until sugar dissolves. then, using the whisk attachment, whisk warm sugary eggwhites until they are fluffy, white, and meringue-y. amazing! i watched the eggs transform before my very eyes.

step 4: add the softened butter.

step 5: add the caramel and beat with paddle attachment for 5 minutes. another complete transformation occurs: curdly looking eggwhite/butter mixture turns into light whipped ribbons of frosting.

martha describes it as a frosting that is "at once rich and ethereal," and it is sooo true. incredible.

i piped the frosting on with a 1M tip and sprinkled mini chocolate chips on top.

final step: take a bite!

i'm so intrigued with this swiss meringue buttercream and with making my own caramel. there is something so satisfying about the simple act of melting sugar and tranforming into something sweet and frostable. this frosting would be great on apple cupcakes -- caramel apple cupcakes -- perfect for fall and halloween parties. switching maple syrup for the caramel might be an interesting adaptation as well.

book club approved. hope the grey's girls like them...

October 18, 2009

MarthaStewartCupcake Club: pumpkin patch cupcakes

this month's martha stewart cupcake club challenge was the perfect opportunity for a fall photo shoot. i figured i should go out for some pumpkin inspiration, so that's what i did (in addition to reading all of the other MSC bloggers who actually posted on time):

pumpkin spice muffins with cream cheese frosting: yum, and not all that tough. i've been baking for quite some time now, so i always have nutmeg, ginger, cloves, & cinnamon on hand, not to mention pumpkin puree. some of the msc bloggers mentioned that pumpkin puree was hard to find this year. a shortage of pumpkin? not in my neck of the woods. even though pumpkins abound in vermont this time of year, i don't think i would ever attempt to make my own from scratch -- kudos to those msc bakers who did.

i was more excited to try my hand at working with marzipan for the first time. in my opinion, martha's cute little hand-made marzipan pumpkins were the piece-de-resistance (please say with french accent) to these fall treats.

the cream cheese frosting was a hit with paul. and our cat... we woke up this morning to find that she had licked the frosting off the 6 cupcakes that we'd left on the counter. exhibit a:

i'm really surprised that martha doesn't have a home-made marzipan recipe in her new cupcake book. it was nice to have the ease of using the pre-made stuff, but i was and am eager to try making it from scratch, or at least from almond paste. does anyone have a good marzipan recipe? i'll keep looking.

the marzipan was really easy to work with -- just a little messy adding the dye. but they sure were delish!

and, as i mentioned before, they stole the fall photo shoot show.

i have a job next weekend for a maple-sugarer's birthday, and am going to make marzipan maple leaves as cupcake toppers. glad to have had the practice this week.

special thanks to kim from what the whisk for picking this month's recipe. november's challenge will be candied sweet potato cupcakes chosen by karen of karen's cookies, cakes, & more. make sure you check out the other msc bakers creations. nice baking with y'all! happy fall.

October 12, 2009

igloo cake

aram has left the flynn for a colder climate in fairbanks, alaska:

chocolate caramel filled cake, caramel swiss meringue frosting.

October 8, 2009

a rave review

i couldn't have made this up!

The cake was a smash hit. I personally loved it - I thought the strawberries added a nice freshness to it - not that the cake really needed that - it was already very moist and delicious. The decoration and the icing were not only good looking, but also very tasty - I have to say I've never eaten really good cake roses - yours were the first! Many people at the party said it was the best cake they've ever had. I'll certainly tell all my other friends about you.

Anyway, thank you so much! I hope to be able to order more cakes from you in the future.

Best wishes,


October 4, 2009

happy birthday nikki

triple layer chocolate cake filled with almond buttercream and fresh strawberries. chocolate buttercream frosting.