Sunday, July 29, 2012

Peanut Butter Blues

I'm obsessed with Peanut Butter. I think I've mentioned this before (Reese's Cupcakes?), but it's worth mentioning again. I find any excuse to use PB in any and everything. So when big sis Lindsay came home for the weekend and wanted to bake, there was no doubt what I would use. We both have a love for Reese's so this cake just made sense.

I used a basic chocolate cake recipe. My favorite is The Best Chocolate Cake Ever recipe that I used in my S'Mores cupcakes, but I didn't have all of the ingredients so I made this cake from It was okay, but turned out a little dry (I did forget I left the mixer on and had a panic attack after it had mixed for a minute too long so that may have been the cause). I used a normal PB Buttercream similar to the one from the Reese's Cupcakes a few posts down. (Salted Butter, Shortening, LOTS of PB, Powdered Sugar, and Whipping Cream) I've been adding Whipping cream to my buttercream just because it makes a great consistency. Throw in some chopped Reese's in the layers and on top and sides for garnish and you have a great cake. It's very rich though so a glass of milk will most likely be needed!

I took a little 3 day trip to Atlanta with Mikey and my best friend Jessica and her boyfriend, Jeremy, this past week. We had some Six Flags fun and got to see a Braves game, which they won, of course. We did realize that we are getting a little too old for Theme Parks unless they institute an Adult-Only Day because if you are not really into kiddos like me, it's pretty much torture. At the Braves game, we had the awesome opportunity to meet Walter, an usher for the franchise for 47 years who is an Atlanta native. Walter was extremely generous and so friendly. When given any number from 1 to 100, Walter could tell you tons of random facts dealing with that number. Some facts included Presidents, geography, previous Olympic winners and results, as well as tons of baseball trivia. (The #10 is the best, his knowledge of Chipper Jones is IMMENSE). Walter said that he loves talking to people and learning about them and will often listen to fans conversations merely because he's "nosey." Walter had decided that if he made at least one friend every year that he ushered, he would have 47 new friends. I'm sure he has made MANY more than that. He also knows when to stop talking to people. He said if the eyes start wandering then they've had enough because the eyes don't lie. Walter gave us so much information about everything else that I wanted to know one very important thing about him: What's his favorite kind of cake?

His answer: "Plain. I'm a basic guy. I like the simple things in life. There's no point in going for all the fancy things."

Well said, Walter. Well said.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Will You Eat My Cupcake?

There's just something about weddings. All little girls dream of their wedding day and most of us have ours pinned to every last detail (literally, ahem Pinterest). I had a little dose of weddings last summer with two of my very best friends saying "I Do" and my oldest friend (We saw Mouse Hunt in the movies together when we were's THAT serious) is tying the knot this December. Another of my dear high school friends is saying her vows today and I'm so sad that I'm missing the ceremony (thanks a lot Land 'O Lakes, but Congrats Andy & Amanda!). With weddings comes the infamous "Wedding Cake." The recent trend has been cupcakes and now even Cake Pops. No cutting, no plates, essentially no mess. My uber-unique best friend Jennifer, who scoffs at anything sweet unless it's cookies (and has the abs to prove it!) had a cookie tier at her wedding last summer, which I thought was so perfect. The ideas are endless, but nothing says "wedding" like a classic white cake with white frosting. 

And maybe throw in some pearls. 

I decided to do these cupcakes after multiple requests for "Plain Vanilla Cupcakes." Ahem, Hannah. First of all, what is fun about a plain vanilla cupcake? I mean REALLY. But, I figured I would see what talents my baking bones were capable of and maybe even use this as potential portfolio material. Problem: Camera still sucks.

I did another spin on these once I ran out of my white buttercream and made something to indulge another female dream. Here's a hint: It's a shade of blue that may or may not be best known for involving a box.

You've seen it. Sweet Home Alabama...Patrick Dempsey takes Reese Witherspoon into a dark room...turns on the lights - she's at Tiffany's. Oh and she gets to pick out any ring she wants. NOT. fair.

I took these cute little tokens of marital bliss to my softball team (who else?!) and told them it was to celebrate our new union with victory. That's right, we finally won a game. I gave Caroline one of the Tiffany blue cupcakes and after eating it she said she felt like I should have got down on one knee and proposed when I gave it to her. Maybe my wedding cupcakes can lead to a wedding?

Here's hoping ;)

Monday, July 16, 2012

S'mores & Sunshine

This past weekend, the missing piece to my being came to visit. Katie, my roommate from my first two years of college hasn't seen the beach in 2 years. TWO YEARS. 712 DAYS! I know I know, it's not healthy and I don't know how she is still alive, but she made it. Since I was so fortunate to have the weekend off, Katie came down for a little fun in the sun and her much needed salt water therapy session. We turned it into an affair and had some of my bff's from home, plus Michael and James come along for the fun.

Katie and I went random for our freshman roommates and by God's sweet grace ended up together. We're two peas in a pod, sisters that were separated for the first 18 years of life. Our undying love of Carolina Basketball and our unhealthy hatred of Duke University makes things that much sweeter. We have our handful of strange traditions and started a new one last semester during our Thursday night Swamp People episodes. Microwave s'mores. Sure, it's not as great as the real thing by a campfire, but it sufficed. Thanks to Uma for the Marshmallows, by the way.

I felt it was only fitting that this week's cupcakes be S'mores Cupcakes. I have been looking at S'mores cupcake recipes for forever and ended up collaborating as usual and making up as I go. The chocolate cake recipe I used is known as "The Best Chocolate Cake Ever," which could really be just that, and the Hershey's center and graham cracker bottom made them that much better. As for the Marshmallow Buttercream......we're not friends. Normal buttercream is a guessing game, you make it up as you go and add until it's just right. When you throw sticky, gooey marshmallow fluff in the mix, things get messy. Some cupcakes were topped with just buttercream, others with marshmallows on the buttercream, and others with toasted marshmallows. I mixed it up and they were actually kind of cute. Kind of....not really.

All in all, our beach weekend was a success. Friday was a nice day of relaxing, pizza, and putt putt with some entertaining interruptions added in (aka Jean). We spent Saturday on the beach then finished the night off with dinner at Cheeseburger in Paradise and shopping in Myrtle Beach. Soon Katie and I will be reunited for another year in the Happy Chappy except no longer roommates :( Unfortunately, that means summer will be over. Only 1 month left to soak up some sun and enjoy the salt water while it's still warm.

S'mores Cupcakes
adapted from Cookies & Cups and Kevin & Amanda
Graham Cracker Crust
1 1/2 cups of Graham Cracker Crumbs (use Food Processor to make fine crumbs)
1/4 cup sugar
5 tbsp butter - melted

Melt butter in microwave. Combine Sugar and Graham Cracker crumbs. Add butter and stir until mixed.
Best Chocolate Cake Ever
1 box devil’s food cake mix
1 small pkg Jello instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups mini chocolate chips

In a very large bowl, mix together everything except chocolate chips until well combined. Batter will be thick. Stir in the chocolate chips.
*I was able to make 30 cupcakes with this amount of batter. It will depend on how deep your tins are. 
Marshmallow Buttercream
1/2 cup butter - softened
1 cup Marshmallow Fluff
2 cups Powdered Sugar
2 tbsp Milk 

Mix Butter and Fluff together on medium speed until smooth. Slowly add Powdered sugar with mixer on low. Add milk then beat contents together on medium until smooth. 
*You may need to double this recipe depending on how many cupcakes you have to frost. 

Cupcake Assembly 
4 Hershey Milk Chocolate Bars
Jumbo Marshmallows or Mini Marshmallows
1. Place a heaping tablespoon of graham cracker crumbs into the bottom of each cupcake tin. Using a small glass or back of a spoon, press the crust down to make it solid. Bake at 350 for approx. 5 minutes.
2.  Add a heaping tablespoon of batter to each tin. 
3. Place 2 squares of a Hershey Chocolate Bar on top of the batter in each tin. 
4. Cover with another heaping tablespoon of cake batter.
5. Sprinkle leftover graham cracker crumbs on top if you wish. 
6. Bake Cupcakes at 350 for 18-22 minutes.
7. Let cupcakes cool then top with Marshmallow buttercream or toasted marshmallows.

**To Toast Marshmallows, place under broiler in oven for a few seconds until the top is brown. Be careful not to burn them! If you use this type of garnish, microwave for a few seconds before serving.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Catching Up

I haven't updated this thing in a while, which defeats the purpose of why I started it in the first place! I've been baking like a fiend, but not putting the work online! So here's a recap of what has been concocted since my last post!

First, I tried my hand at Cake Pops. I ordered Bakerella's new uber-cute book and decided to give it a whirl. They are adorable and quite tasty, but SO time consuming! I enlisted the help of my bff Hayley (and future business partner ;) ) to experiment with these guys. Mikey is a huge fan & declared that they have trumped everything, including his beloved Macadamia Cookies & Strawberry Cupcakes.

Then there were Cookies & Cream Cupcakes. I followed Your Cup of Cake's Cookies & Cream Cupcakes recipe with a little deviation here & there and they were pretty good. I was scared to do a Chocolate cake because I was worried it would be overload, but I wasn't really crazy about the Vanilla Cake, but everyone still seemed to like them! Forgot to take a picture of these guys before they were devoured. 

Next, for Father's Day, I made my Daddy's favorite: German Chocolate Cake, except in cupcake form! I followed Your Cup of Cake's (I just love her, okay?!) German Chocolate Cupcakes recipe and found these so fun to make. We've always whipped up the boxed & canned German Chocolate Cake for him because he isn't very picky, but these have made me a believer. JP3 had a birthday yesterday (GO HEELS GO AMERICA!) so due to Fourth of July commitments elsewhere, we had a family get-together Tuesday night and because I was unprepared, I whipped up a boxed cake we already had. And I dare say I turned my nose up at it, would not eat it. Canned coconut pecan frosting is really disgusting when you've made it from scratch. So, I hereby pledge to never buy it in a can again. Amen, Hallelujah, Motion Carries, etc, etc.

My softball team got the Reese Cupcakes of my last post, so I've been hounded at every game about the need for more sweets. My little BFF Jessica requested Red Velvet, so we gave it a shot! I used a box mix and souped it up and then made a typical Cream Cheese icing. I had a lot of fun with these because I finally got to try out the rose technique, which I love and is SO easy. These were a huge hit. Michael's reaction pretty much sums it up: "Something about these cupcakes just says Love." 

And then there was Cookie Dough Cupcakes. I had been dying to try these and combined about 209285093759 recipes to make them how I wanted. While everyone loved them, they were a pain. I later saw at Hobby Lobby that they make cupcake corers - I shall immediately invest in one because an Apple Corer just doesn't work. I made an eggless cookie dough to fill them with, but honestly, they store bought kind is soo much better. Anyways, these were also a hit despite their richness. Butter Cake with Chocolate Chips, Cookie Dough Filling and Cookie Dough Frosting with Chocolate Chip Garnish. Cookie in a Cake. Ta Da.

And lastly, Cake Balls! These are essentially Cake Pops sans sticks for you common folk out there. I saw this cool American Flag display on Pinterest and decided to try it for Fourth of July. Again, cake pops are a pain. The coating never gets thin enough despite the amount of shortening you put it in. Bakerella says to try Paramount Cystals but where do you find those things? Anyways, I managed and was able to make the display despite the strange shape of some of the balls. I sent it with my parents to our church's Fourth of July Cookout and the leftovers ended up in the hands of Mikey. Are we surprised? Not really.

If I have any readers, I hope summer has been treating you well. The heat is finally here, but enjoy it because soon it will be freezing and school will be in - NO FUN. My mother just bought a snazzy new SLR Camera so hopefully my photography will be getting better if I can enlist her help. More news, not sure if I've mentioned it, but we have a new addition.
Meet Miss Daisy

Here she is looking all cute in the kitchen watching me bake. Don't let her fool you. She's Marley from the book/movie reincarnated. If she can tear it up, she will find it and she will do it. She's gotten away with a lot so far just due to lack of time and consistency, but Puppy Bootcamp starts Monday so she better get ready. Here's proof of her misbehavior.

I also wanted to let everyone know that I am available to bake for birthdays or special events. I'm trying to learn more & more and experience is the best teacher. I love a new challenge so if you have an idea, let me know and we can work something out! And with that, Daisy & I say so long. 
Go Get Muddy or Something!

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