August 24, 2011

Apple Cake Pops

It’s back to school time!  This is our first official school year, I dropped off my oldest this morning for her first day of kindergarten.  She was absolutely beyond excited, we’ve been counting down for over week.  I wanted to make it a special day, so that each year my kids will hopefully look forward to back to school, instead of dreading it. 


My kids LOVE ‘pop cakes’ (that’s what they call em) so they were very excited to see some apple ones.  Not sure if they made the connection with apples=school, but oh well.  I’m actually not even positive I know why apples=school, but it seems like they do.  It was the perfect little treat for my daughter’s first lunch at school.  My daughter also shared with her new teacher while I was dropping her off, and my almost 2 yr old tried to grab the cake pop back from the teacher :)


Apple Cake Pops (inspired from Bakerella)

basic cake pop tutorial

baked cake + 3/4 C whipping cream

lollipop sticks

red candy melts

pretzel sticks (the straight ones): break off an end to stick in for the stem

green candy melts (or green leaf shaped sprinkles of some kind)

    • Instead of rolling the cake mixture into round balls, try to make them shaped more like an apple.  I did thinner on bottom, and fatter on top, with an indent where the pretzel stick would go.  I also poked a hole in the middle of the indent with a lollipop stick. 

      I made my own leaves with green candy melts: 


    • melt green candy melts in a disposable piping bag, cut off the tip, then pipe leaves onto wax paper.  After the candy melts harden, they come right off.  It was fun practicing piping, and since I made so many I got to pick my favorites.

    • After they are chilled, dip them into melted red candy melts, and stick in the pretzel and leaf before the red candy hardens.


      There you go!  I hope everyone has a smooth transition during this busy time of year!!


    August 22, 2011

    How to make “Buttermilk”

    The only time I ever have real buttermilk in my house is when my husband isn’t traveling, and he feels like making some mean, from scratch, buttermilk pancakes.  Yeah, not so often.  But, I have some recipes that call for buttermilk, so…..  what’s a girl supposed to do? Make a special trip to the store for a quart of buttermilk only to use 1/2 C?  I don’t think so.  This is WAY easy, and you’ll never know the difference in your baked goods!  I got this tip from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, they call it sour milk.

    Sour Milk (substitute for buttermilk)  makes 1 cupbuttermilk

    1 Tblsp distilled white vinegar

    almost 1 Cup milk

  • Pour 1 Tablespoon vinegar into a 1 Cup measurer.

  • Add enough milk to fill the cup measurer to the top.

  • Stir the mixture to combine, then let sit for 5 minutes before use.

  • Done.and.done.  Wasn’t that easy?

    If you don’t need a whole cup, just adjust the recipe:

    for 1/2 C, pour in 1/2 T vinegar, and fill to 1/2 C with milk.

    August 14, 2011

    Chocolate & Raspberry Cake

    Last summer my husband and I were in downtown Seattle, and we stopped in a cute little bakery.  I remember I got a couple little handmade chocolates, and he got a pile of raspberries, covered in chocolate.  and he loved it.  We’ve talked about it a couple of times since then.

    So, when I asked him what cake he wanted for his birthday, I wasn’t super surprised that he asked for a chocolate layer cake with raspberry drizzle of some kind.  and I remembered a cake that both my cousin (she has some great step by step photos) and my mom have made and both loved.  I showed him the pictures from the original maker and he gave the stamp of approval. 

    Chocolate Raspberry Ganache Cake Makes a three layer 8″ cake
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 1/2 cups sugar
    3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder
    2 teaspoons baking soda
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 cup canola oil
    1 cup sour cream
    1 1/2 cups water
    2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 eggs
    Raspberry Ganache (recipe follows)
    1 cup raspberry jam (I recommend seedless!)

    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and prepare three 8” cake pans with parchment paper and either a flour spray (like baker’s joy) or butter and dust with cocoa.
    • Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl and mix together to combine. ( I did this in my standing mixer, with the paddle attachment)
    • Mix in the oil and sour cream (it will be thick!) then gradually beat in the water.
    • Mix in the vanilla and vinegar, then beat in the eggs until batter is combined. (now the batter will be fairly runny.  I was a little nervous, but it turned out great)
    • Evenly divide the batter into your 3 cake pans, bake for 30-35 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool in pans for 20 minutes, then flip onto cooling racks and cool completely.
    • While your cakes are cooling make the raspberry ganache (recipe is down the page a little bit)
    • Once you have all the ingredients, you can start assembling.  Cut your cakes to be level if you want.
    • Lay one layer of cake on a plate, and cover the top with 1/3 C raspberry jam.  Spread some of the ganache on top of the jam.
    • Repeat with the 2 other layers, including jam on the top.

      *I spread the ganache on top of the jam while it was still fairly warm/runny, then waited until it was more firm to ice the rest of the cake.

    • Spread ganache around the outside of the cake.


    I love that you can see the yummy raspberry jam swirling throughout the top!

    Raspberry Ganache

    15 oz chocolate, chopped *
    2 cups raspberries (fresh or frozen)
    1 C (2 sticks) butter, cut into pieces

    *What kind of chocolate depends on what you like. If you like dark, get bittersweet. If you like milk, get semisweet, or even sweeter. I prefer milk chocolate, so I would recommend somewhere around a 50% cocoa (you can mix and match chocolates to get what you like)

    • Bring a small amount of water to simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
    • While the water is heating, microwave the raspberries in 30 or 60 second intervals, stirring and mashing with a fork in between. Once it becomes more of a liquid than berries, pour through a mesh sieve. You should get between 1/3-2/3 C raspberry sauce. Set aside.
    • Make a double boiler: place the chopped chocolate and the butter in a heatproof bowl and set over the saucepan. The bowl should not touch the water. Stir until the chocolate and butter melt.
    • Add the raspberry sauce, and stir to combine.
    • Take off heat, and let cool until it’s thick enough to spread, stirring once in a while.


    This cake is seriously moist.  and delicious. and thank goodness my husband enjoyed it too.

    August 10, 2011

    Buster Bars


    in other words: oreo/ice cream/gooey chocolate goodness layer dessert.  With peanuts on top.


    This recipe is an old family favorite.  My younger brother requested it for his birthday, instead of cake, for as many years as I can remember.  We all love it.  Who doesn’t love an oreo crust? with a sauce tastes almost like a chocolate/caramel.  and with the salted peanuts on top, oh man. I promise you’re in for a treat.

    Buster Bars makes a 9”x13” pan

    1 package Oreos (I used about 40 cookies from a Costco pack)

    1 cube butter, melted

    1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream (or enough ice cream to make a layer), softened slightly

    1 cube butter

    1 can evaporated milk (not sweetened condensed)

    1 C milk chocolate chips

    2 C powdered sugar

    Spanish peanuts

    • Crush all the Oreos to a fine crumb and mix together with the melted butter. Spread across the bottom of a 9”x13” pan (that can go in the freezer)
    • Once the ice cream is easy to work with, slab (not scoop) it to form a layer on top of the Oreo crust.  Freeze until firm.
    • While freezing, melt cube of butter and chocolate chips in a pan over medium heat.  Add evaporated milk and powdered sugar, turn heat to medium-high, and bring to boil.  Boil for 8 minutes, stirring constantly.  Let cool.
    • After the sauce is cooled, pour over the ice cream layer.  (if you’re too anxious, it will totally melt the ice cream, you want to make sure the ice cream is frozen, and the sauce is cooled.)
    • Sprinkle with the peanuts, then throw it back into the freezer until it’s firm. (or, until you just can’t wait any longer to eat it.)DSC_0631

    August 6, 2011

    Macaroni & Cheese

    I mostly just enjoy making treats, but there are a couple of dishes that I like to make, and this is one of them.  I also love to eat this.  it is delicious. 

    I got this recipe from my sister-in-law.  She made it for me one night after I had my first baby, and it think it was one of the best things I have ever eaten.  I love pasta anyway, but this cheese to pasta ratio, with a crunchy breadcrumb top is just the best.


    Since then, it has been a special dinner in our family, reserved for birthdays and other occasions.  But my family has grown to love it so much, that it has moved up the ranks and is now in our regular dinner rotation.  My kids don’t even like mac n’ cheese from a box anymore, they always request this.  I can’t say that I blame them.

    Macaroni & Cheese

    3 Tblsp butter

    3 Tblsp flour

    2 1/2 C milk (my vote is the fattier the better.  I’ve never used skim, but I’m sure it would be ok)

    1 lb. sharp cheddar cheese (I always buy my cheese from Costco, we like the extra sharp)

    1/2 lb. colby cheese

    1 Tbslp dijon (I use this:DSC_0033. It’s our favorite)

    pinch+ of cayenne pepper

    salt and pepper to taste (I’ve started using white pepper, I like it.)

    1 lb noodles (pick your favorite.  I usually use curly elbows, but we’ve made it with penne as well.)

    2 Tblsp butter melted

    3/4 C panko bread crumbs

    • Cut the cheese into 1/2” cubes, and start a pot of water to boil for the pasta.
    • Preheat over to 350 and butter a 2 qt baking dish
    • Melt 3 T butter in a pot over med-low heat.
    • Add the flour, turn to med-high heat and cook for two minutes, stirring constantly. 
    • Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly and cook until thickened.
    • At some point during this, add the pasta to the boiling water to cook according to package directions.
    • Add about 2/3 of the cubed cheeses to your sauce, and cook over low heat until cheeses are melted.
    • Stir in dijon, cayenne and s&p.
    • After draining the pasta, stir together pasta, cheese sauce, and remaining cheese cubes in the 2 qt dish.
    • Melt 2 T butter and mix with the panko crumbs.  Sprinkle over top of noodles.
    • Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes until golden brown on top and bubbling.


    I love that you don’t melt all the cheese cubes into the sauce.  Instead, they all melt while baking, so while you’re eating it, you get extra little pockets of gooey cheese. Yum.


    This dish is also great for reheating, so don’t worry if there are leftovers, it will taste great the next day too!!

    August 2, 2011

    Flower Cupcake Tutorial

    Have you ever been to the site i am baker? She has a seriously amazing blog, and that’s where I learned how to do this:


    Aren’t they so cute? I’m am really happy with how they turned out, so I want to show you how I did it. 

    You will need:

    • Cupcakes.
    • Frosting.  I used Swiss meringue buttercream, but you could easily use buttercream.
    • At least 1 petal tip, I used Wilton #103 (yellow) and also #124 (purple)
    • A bag to hold the frosting and petal tip (decorator’s bag, ziploc with a corner cut off…)

    Start with the wide tip at the edge of the cupcake, add pressure to make a little dollop, then push the tip into the dollop a bit, and with continued pressure drag to the center of the cupcake.  Repeat all the way around.  Pushing the tip back into the dollop is what makes the line in the petal.  If that doesn’t make sense in words, I did make a video, I hope it’s helpful!

    *note……  the only noises in the video are of my kids =) love them, but they are kinda loud….*

    Hopefully your cupcakes won’t be sunken in like mine (it was a new recipe I need to change a bit) But even if they are, I actually kind of like the depth it gives to the flowers.

    You can leave it with one layer of petals, or add another layer (or 2):DSC_0581same concept, just a smaller layerDSC_0583I honestly can’t decide if I like the single color, or 2-tone better.  What do you think?

    How about some mini cupcakes?


    I think this one might be my favorite little one:


    on a random side note, Have you ever seen “The Swan Princess”? It’s an animated movie that came out in 1994.  and  It has great songs, that my siblings and I still sing sometimes, and now, so do my kids.  A part of one of the songs goes like this, “Practice, Practice, Practice!”  So to bring it back to cupcakes…..  That’s my best advice for piping.

    If you decide to try this, (or any of the recipes on my blog), feel free to post some pictures on the Facebook wall! I’d love to see it! Have a good day!