Archive | March, 2008

Sticky Buns!

31 Mar

Sticky buns are one of my all time favorite dessert.  A couple of weeks ago, I watched Bobby Flay do a Throwdown with Flour Bakery in Boston.  (Amazingly, neither Nikki or KT, my two Boston friends, have been there).  Her sticky buns looked amazing though.  Ever since then I have been craving them.  So this weekend I finally decided to make them.

Saturday night I started the recipe.  (Note to self: Make sure you start these before 7:00 p.m….. 🙂 )

I made the dough, then it had to rise.  It got so big!

Dough rising

Making the caramel sauce and adding in the chopped pecans.

Caramel

Letting the rolls do their final rise.

Final rest

Then flip the pan over to let the gooey carmel run down the sides of the sticky buns.

Ready!

Ready to be eaten… and it’s only 10:30 at night, lol.

Final Product!

This recipe was wonderful!  I wouldn’t change anything else about it.  I did double the caramel topping though, since I wanted them to be extra ooey gooey. 🙂

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup margarine
1/8 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
1 (.25 ounce) envelope active dry yeast
1 egg
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, or as needed

2 tablespoons margarine, softened
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons margarine
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup pecan halves

DIRECTIONS
Pour the milk into a small saucepan, and set over medium heat. Heat just until a skin starts to form on the top, then remove from the stove, and stir in salt and 1/4 cup margarine. Allow to cool to lukewarm.

Place 1/8 cup of warm water in a small bowl. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Sprinkle yeast over the surface, and let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, stir together the cooled milk mixture and the yeast for 2 minutes using an electric mixer on medium speed. Add egg, and mix well. Use a large wooden spoon to stir in flour 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition until the mixture forms a dough. Knead on a floured surface, adding more flour if necessary, until dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Place in an oiled bowl, and turn once to coat the top. Cover, and let rise until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.

Punch down dough, and let rest on the counter while you prepare the caramel topping. In a medium bowl, mix together the corn syrup, 1 1/2 tablespoons of water, 3 tablespoons of margarine and brown sugar until smooth. Spread an even layer onto the bottom of a 9×9 inch baking dish. Place pecan halves upside down in rows over the sugar mixture. Set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to a 9×12 inch rectangle Spread with 2 tablespoons of margarine. Mix together 1/4 cup of sugar with the cinnamon; sprinkle over the margarine. Roll the dough up starting at the long end to form a log. Pinch the seam together to seal. Cut the roll into 1 inch rounds. Place the rounds into the prepared baking dish. Set in a warm place to rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Bake rolls for 20 to 25 minutes in the oven, until golden brown. Invert baking pan onto a cutting board or a clean cookie sheet while still warm so the caramel topping is on top.

Daring Bakers IV: Perfect Party Cake

30 Mar

When I logged onto the Daring Bakers at the first of the month, I was somewhat dissappointed with the recipe.  A white cake really isn’t “that daring” to me, but maybe is for some people, who knows….  I decided to make this cake to take to my parents house on Easter.  So, Saturday afternoon I starting baking.

First you have to cream the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy.

sugar butter

My cute little cakes getting a tan in the oven. 🙂

Cakes

Once the cakes were baked and cooled, I wrapped them up tightly in saran wrap until I had time to decorate them Sunday.  So, on Sunday morning I woke up early so I could make the icing and ice the cakes before church.

Meringue buttercream icing is sooooo delicious.  It is worth all the time and effort that goes into making it.  First I had to whisk the egg whites and sugar on the stove to warm them up.

Egg Whites

Then, I whipped the eggwhites in my mixture until it formed a meringue like subtance.

Mernigue

Then add the butter and beat until it is nice and fluffy.

In my hurry while putting the cakes together, I read over the part about putting buttercream in between the layers. (Yes, I know I should know this with all the cakes I’ve made, but it actually worked out for the best by not including that icing.) Instead I spread each cake top with Strawberry preserves.  Then I put strawberry slices on top of one cake, then flipped the other cake on top (jelly side down).

Cake layers

Since neither cake rose very much, I decided not to level the cake tops off (I know, mistake mistake).  I’d rather have a crooked cake though, then not enough cake.  Once I got the layers assembled, I definetly had a test to my icing skills.  Yes, that’s about a 2 inch gap that needs to be filled.

Cake Gap

Success!  Now I just have to wait for the icing to harden a little bit.  So, I let it sit until after church.  Patiently waiting….

Pretty as a cake

Since I’ve been taking cake decorating classes, I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to test out my skills. I decided to stay with the fruit them and add more fresh fruit on top.

Cake o' fruit

 This cake was very yummy.  I think it would have turned out better if the correct measurements had been posted on the Daring Bakers website but whatever.  My family and John’s family both loved the cake. We did agree the icing would be better without the lemon juice in it, just as plain vanilla buttercream.  My brother loved the cake.  He asked who brought the cake, I spoke up and said I made it. And he told me to quit lying, lol. 

If my cake wasn’t enough please visit the other Daring Bakers to see what they did with this challenge.

Recipe after the break. 🙂

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Butter!

25 Mar

Last night as I was reading my favorite blogs, I noticed Nikki had made butter!  I was completely shocked at how easy making butter really is.  While talking to Nikki today, I mentioned that I had a container of whole cream in my fridge that was past dated and she should’ve posted this sooner so I could make it.  Nikki told me to go home and smell the cream, that as long as it didn’t smell sour it was still good.  Yay!!  So, I rushed home at lunch and found the cream.  My lucky day!  The cream had no smell so it was still good.

First I poured my 1 pint of heavy cream into my mixer.

Cream

Then after a couple of minutes of whipping it on medium high for a couple minutes it turned into whipped cream.

Whipped cream

 Then it got to be really really thick whipped creamish.

Thick Cream

Almost butter!

Almost there....

Butter and Buttermilk!

Butter!

 Then, you have to put the butter into a cloth to strain the remaining buttermilk.

Ready to strain

And finally you have real butter!

Butter!

Stupid me couldn’t find any crackers at the house to taste this yummy butter, but I hear it is delicious.  Check back tomorrow to see what I’m going to make to tonight to eat with it. 🙂

Easter Cupcakes

24 Mar

My Mother-in-Law had Easter on Saturday night.  She told me if I wanted to I could bring over dessert.  I let out a quick “yippee!” I love bringing dessert for dinners.  I made some simple Carrot Cake cupcakes with cream cheese icing and placed a cute peep on top.

Easter Cuppys

It’s Peep-tastic!

21 Mar

On Wednesday I was talking to Nikkiand KT (still blog-less 🙂 ) I told them I made marshmallow for my Cupcake Hero entry.  They both mentioned that I should make peeps with the marshmallows.  I almost have peeps already, I just need to cut them into cute shapes and sprinkle with sugar, why not!

Meet the Peeps.

First up we have Little Bunny Peep:

Bunny Peep

Next, Little Chickie Peep:

Chickie Peep

And lastly, we have Little Bo Peep’s Peep:

Lambie

Decorating the peeps were definitely a challenge.  Some may even call it a peeps-capade.  I had to figure out how to make the details on the peeps. Melted chocolate of course! So I grabbed a ziploc baggie and melted some chips.  Everything was great in the world.  I was making record time placing the little eyes on the chickies, but oh no, wait…. what happened!

Graveyard

Yes, it was a gory sight.  These poor little chickies lost their lives due to a faulty ziploc bag.  (Note to self, don’t use Ziploc baggies to decorate with.  They will have a blowout at a very inconvenient time.)  So, me being the brillant person that I am (stop laughing) I decided to use my fancy decorating bags.  I inserted the coupler, put in the chips, microwaved for 1 minute.  I put on my Size 2 tip and began piping.  Success is mine once again!  Ouch, ouch crap! What is on this bag!  Shoot, I melted the bag along with the chocolate.  Oh well, it isn’t anything a little tape won’t cover.

ghetto bag

All in all, it was a great success.  They are sooooo much better than store bought peeps too.  Delicious!

(Yes mom, you will finally get to taste my homemade marshmallows on Easter. 🙂 )

Cupcake Hero Entry!

20 Mar

For several months now (since December) cupcake-iter CB has been forcibly kindly urging me to enter Slush’s Cupcake Hero monthly blog event.  I’ve always thought it looked like fun, but we all know, my cupcakes skills aren’t the best.  But when I heard this month’s ingredient was MARSHMALLOW, I knew I had to make something.

CH Picture

So, without further adieu: Rocky Road Cupcakes…. Nina style

Rocky Road Cupcakes

Since I cheated and used a box cake mix, I figured I should at least make some homemade marshmallows.  I also made something else very exciting with the marshmallows, I’ll post about that tomorrow though.

 Marshmallows are sooooo easy to make.  The homemade version are also about 1,864 times better than the store bought variety.  As long as you have a mixer, it’s a piece of cake marshmallow.  🙂

Homemade Marshmallows

.75-oz unflavored gelatin (3 envelopes of Knox gelatin)
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cups light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Line 9 x 9-inch pan with plastic wrap and lightly oil it. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water. Soak for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine sugar, corn syrup and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a rapid boil and boil hard for 1 minute.

Pour the boiling syrup into soaked gelatin and turn on the mixer, using the whisk attachment, to high speed. Add the salt and beat for 12 minutes.

After 12 minutes, add in the vanilla extract beat to incorporate.Scrape marshmallow into the prepared pan and spread evenly (Lightly greasing your hands and the spatula helps a lot here). Take another piece of lightly oiled plastic wrap and press lightly on top of the marshmallow, creating a seal.

Let mixture sit for a few hours, or overnight, until cooled and firmly set.In a shallow dish, combine equal parts cornstarch and confectioners’ sugar.

Remove marshmallow from pan and cut into equal pieces with scissors (the best tool for the job) or a chef’s knife. Dredge each piece of marshmallow in confectioners’ sugar mixture. Store in an airtight container.

Now for the Cupcake Recipe:

Rocky Road Cupcakes… Nina Style

1 box Devil’s Food Cake cake mix (plus all the ingredients needed eggs, oil, water, etc.)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts + enough to decorate cupcakes with
1/2 cup crushed pretzels (leave in big chunks)+ enough to decorate cupcakes with
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips+ enough to decorate cupcakes with
1/2 cup marshmallows + enough to decorate cupcakes with

Mix the cupcake batter per the directions on the back of the cake mix box. (I like to use unsweetened applesauce instead of oil when making cake mixes. It’s healthier and the applesauce makes the cake much moister. Then add the remaining ingredients and stir until mixed.

Bake as directed on the box.

When cupcakes cool, top with chocolate icing, marshmallows, walnuts, pretzels, and chocolate chips

You may be wondering why this recipe calls for pretzels.  Well, when I started thinking what Rocky Road ice-cream/fudge contains I started thinking marshmallows (duh), and milk chocolate, walnuts, and something salty it must be pretzels!  When I made my cupcakes, my dear friend Kris started to question why I was putting pretzels in the batter.  She informed me that Rocky Road does not have pretzels in it at all… oops.  Thus, they are now dubbed Rocky Road Cupcakes… Nina Style. 😀

Photography Class

18 Mar

John has recently enrolled in a photography class.  It’s being given at the local Vo-Tech, the same place I’m taking my Cake Decorating Classes at.  This photography class is about Nature/Outdoors.  John missed the first class, but thankfully the teacher let him enroll late.  John loves this class so far (I have a feeling he is going to try to get me to buy him a $$$ camera soon though…).  Here are two of the pictures he has taken so far.

Cardinal

Nuts.

Flag 

These were taken after only one class.  I’m so excited to watch as his skills develop!  Maybe I can contract him to take pictures of our food for this blog…. hmm…..