Red Wine, Chocolate and Coconut

When its your birthday, you can have whatever cupcake combinations that you want…

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First up, the Nutty Coconut Cupcake!  Have you tried the ice cream flavor at Baskin Robbins?  Its my favorite, so I thought it would make a great cupcake flavor… and it truly did!!  Its a rich coconut, vanilla bean cupcake, filled with coconut filling, topped with vanilla Italian Meringue Buttercream and topped with toasted pecans, almonds and coconut!  image

I know that there are some folks out there that are not fans of coconut and I can completely understand.  I actually don’t care for the taste of raw coconut.  For me, it has to be toasted or added to something (like this wonderful filling!) in order to be ‘acceptable’ coconut for me!  I would dare say that this Nutty Coconut Cupcake might be able to make a believer out of the staunchest non coconut eaters out there!

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Then there is the Chocolate Blackberry Red Wine cupcake!

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A deep chocolate cupcake, filled with a red wine infused chocolate ganache, topped with a blackberry puree Italian Meringue Buttercream, drizzled with a red wine syrup (I used a sweet Shiraz by Jam Jar) and topped with a wine soaked blackberry.  Pure decadence, really… If I do say so myself!

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Let me say a word about the wine syrup… it was SO good!  I’d never made wine syrup before, but thought that these cupcakes needed a little more wine flavor infused to be truly called red wine cupcakes!  This definitely did the trick.  It does take a while to make, so a little patience is required for it to reduce enough, but the end result is well worth the wait.  image

I received good reviews from the birthday girl, she said that everyone enjoyed them!  I also completed a good bit of taste testing on these myself and can attest to the fact that they are were quite good!

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Anyone in the mood for some some red wine, chocolate and coconut?  :)

 

 

A Day Late and a Biscuit Short

Yesterday was national BUTTERMILK BISCUIT DAY!

Unfortunately, I am a day late, so I missed the opportunity share my love for buttermilk biscuits on the official day, but thankfully for me, everyday is a good day to share about the wonders of the buttermilk biscuit!  So, in honor of the day after buttermilk biscuit day, I thought I would share a couple pictures of the lovely and yummy buttermilk biscuits I’ve eaten over time!   ENJOY!

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(Don’t you LOVE all those layers!!)

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(Nothing better than biscuits made in cast iron pans!!)

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Biscuit with the all the necessary accompaniments… bacon, eggs… YUM!

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(Above)  A slight twist on the classic… cheddar buttermilk biscuits… almost like red lobster?!

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I love how each biscuits is uniquely different…

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Jam + Fig Preserves = Perfection!

Lately, I have been topping my biscuits (after a good dousing with a little cream before baking!) with cracked black pepper… so good!

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My go to biscuit recipe is from one of the classics… the Joy of Cooking.  No adaptations, well except for the cracked black pepper!

Buttermilk Biscuits by the Joy of Cooking

2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons. baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into chunks
3/4 cups buttermilk

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients.  Add cold butter and using a pastry cutter, your hand or if you opt to do this in a food processor, pulse for a couple minutes until the butter is incorporated into the flour and about the size of peas.
  • Add buttermilk and lightly mix until the dry ingredients are moist.
  • Gather together the dough until it comes together and pat out the dough on the counter or on a marble board until its about 1/2 inch thick.  Cut with biscuit cutter and place on baking sheet.  IMPORTANT NOTE 1:  When cutting the biscuits, resist the urge to twist the cutter, just up and down to cut out the biscuits.  When you twist the cutter it causes them to not rise as high… and we want our biscuits to rise high, after all the higher the biscuit, the closer to God, right?  :)
  • Place biscuits on a parchment lined baking sheet and brush the biscuits with milk and add the cracked pepper if you please.  Bake them until golden brown on top and bottom, about 10-12 minutes.
  • Try to allow them to cool for at least 1 minute, then add butter and fig preserves or any preserves, apple butter or honey and repeat as often as you like.  But don’t go too crazy, they aren’t the healthiest of things to eat!  But they sure are good every once in awhile!  So now for IMPORTANT NOTE 2:  I use a small biscuit cutter (maybe 2 inches) so that I can eat two(ish) (or more) and not feel guilty… yep, you are welcome! :)

ENJOY!

Cake Decorating Love

Creativity is always a leap of faith. You’re faced with a blank page, blank easel, or an empty stage.    Julia Cameron
…or a blank cake!
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I love love love decorating… cakes, cupcakes, cookies… whatever!  I bake way more than what I actually share on my blog.  As an aside, I am going to try to do better and post more regularly.  The blogs I love the most are the ones that I can count on for regular content, so I am going to try to follow in their good example.

Now on to this cake…. I have been on a ‘yellow’ kick lately!  This is my second yellow cake and I’ve also used yellow in a couple of my cupcakes.  Maybe I am drawn to this color because I am hoping for spring to really come, or perhaps it reminds me of my mom who loves yellow roses.  Whatever the case, its a beautiful color and I think it made for a very beautiful cake.

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I have been trying to practice my free hand decorating.  I usually make the cake and create the flowers separately and then place them on the cake.  However, I needed to make finish this cake quickly, so I didn’t really have time for the extra step in pre-making the flowers, so I decided to give this a try and freestyle on the flowers… I was pretty proud of how they turned out!  Plus, I got this fancy cake decorating stand from my mom for my birthday, so I believe that it helped.

Yellow Flower Collage

Left to my own devices, I would bake something new… everyday.  Whether I had reason to or not.  I have so many saved recipes, cake decorating ideas and pictures of goodness that I would like to try.  So, I guess that’s the reason why when I get the opportunity to make something for someone, I go all in!  I go through my mental Pinterest, Instagram, cookbook catalog and decide which technique, recipe, look I will use for this precious baking opportunity I have before me. Sometimes its a little overwhelming… but I love it all the same.

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I decided to add leaves to the flowers this time.  Although I know flowers have leaves for some reason I tend not to include them when I make flower on my cakes.  I’m not sure why, but this time I did and I think that they make all the difference in the look of the cake.  Makes it look more alive and vibrant!

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This is a hummingbird cake, so as with all of my cakes of this type, I like to add the pecans on the top of the cake.  I decided to glaze these nuts in some of the pineapple syrup that was added to the frosting.  So, I guess these are pineapple wet nuts… I need to think about what else I can use this for, they were so good!

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No recipe to share, this cake is a classic, so I follow the original version from 1978 which can be found here.  No need to mess with perfection!

I’m always looking for great baking sites for more inspiration… I’d appreciate everyone’s feedback on your favorite baking sites!

S’more on S’mores Cupcakes

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Chocolate…

…Marshmallows

Graham crackers….

….Cupcakes!

Need I say more?

 

S’more on Smore Cupcakes

1 batch of your favorite chocolate cupcakes

1 batch chocolate glaze at room temperature, which should be more of a solid than a glaze at this point.

1 batch marshmallow frosting (7 minute frosting), this is my favorite one

A couple graham crackers

Directions:

1. Prepare cupcakes as directed

2. Using an apple corer, create a shallow hole in each cupcake for the chocolate glaze filling.

3.  Fill each cupcake with the chocolate glaze

4. Top each cupcake with a generous swirl of the marshmallow frosting.

5. Using the graham crackers, chocolate glaze and marshmallow frosting, create mini s’mores toppers for each of your cupcakes.

6. Admire cupcakes for a few minutes before eating

7. Eat cupcake and relish in the joy of a S’more on S’mores cupcake.

ENJOY!

 

Pink Little Diva Birthday Cake

Cakes are special. Every birthday, every celebration ends with something sweet, a cake, and people remember. It’s all about the memories. ~ Buddy Valastro
Pink Little Diva Birthday Cake

Every girl should have a pretty pink, ruffly two tiered birthday cake for their 5th birthday, right? Well, my answer is a resounding ‘YES’ and I loved every minute of making this cake! It was an amazingly fun challenge and I think that the birthday girl and her family and friends really enjoyed the cake!

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First let me say that this was the largest cake I’ve made to date!  It was larger than the wedding cake I made last year.  The bottom tier was a 12 inch cake with a lemon curd and Italian meringue buttercream filling and the 6 inch cake was a strawberry cake with a fresh strawberry Italian meringue buttercream filling.  Both tiers were covered with american buttercream and the flowers were made with Italian meringue buttercream.

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The initial picture I received as inspiration was a pink fondant cake with a purse, two high heel shoes and some make up and other girly accessories… it was very cute!  I decided to make as much of the cake as possible edible, so the high heels were made out of cupcakes and the little make up bag was a cake, the make up was made of chocolate and the monogram topper was made of a sugar cookie.  So, actually… the entire cake is edible!

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I think that I came up with something that was a good reflection of their initial vision.  I kind of like to exceed expectations with my cakes, at least that is what I aim to do.  The greatest compliment I received with this cake was when mom said it was better than the picture she had given me… Love it!!

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But this is ALWAYS the best part of making cakes…  getting to share in someone’s special day!  So, a big ‘thank you’ to mom for allowing me to share in this beautiful little girl’s special day!

Diva Pink Cake collage