29 November 2008

I'm Leavin' On A Jet Plane!

Hey Everyone... I hope you ALL had a wonderful Thanksgiving! You are probably wondering where I am...?.....

I am visitng my Mother-in-Law and hubby grandparents in Sofia, Bulgaria, my adorable (sometimes...) hubby's homeland. We brought the kiddies along with us. It is such a wonderful country- mountains, culture, great food, wonderful traditions. It is one of my MOST favorite places in the world. If only I could speak the language!! LOL...

Also, last week I was in Jersey, visiting my BEST girlie, Liz and her FAB family. Liz and I partnered with our buddy from the 5th grade, Milly, to go see Madonna live in Philadelphia!! I only have one word for that- AMAZING!! Madonna was absolutely UNBELIEVEABLE!! I filmed a minute of it and will post it later!

I will be back in a few weeks and will try to post when I can. I have SO much to show all of you- my crazy cakes, Madonna, Jersey pastries (*YUM*), Bulgarian cuisine (*YUMMY in my tummy*)

I really miss all of this blogging stuff. AND, of course, all of my wonderful blogging buddies! Talk to you soon, Peeps!! Chaio!

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11 November 2008

TWD: Florida Pie Rewind

Hey Gang! Hope everyone is enjoying life to the fullest! I have been SO busy. SO knee deep in fondant that I truly can't find the end of this sugary tunnel. I have had a serious flurry of cake orders: a doggie birthday cake, black belt graduation, my signature "cheese" cake, bridal shower AND my daughter's 5-tier Fancy Nancy monster for this weekend. (Help, I'm drowning.... *Gurgle*) AND, to my surprise, the Seminole Chronicle came out to interview me regarding my cakes yesterday! How exciting!!

So, here it is, folks. An old post, I know. Please forgive me. I promise, I will be back next week. However, this week's selection of Kugelhopf, located on pages 61-63. was chosen by Yolanda of The All-Purpose Girl. What is kugelhopf, you ask?? Beats me. I know it needed a dough hook which scared ME half to death. I'm sure it was easy as pie! Hee, hee...
Florida Pie happen to be my very first first post for Tuesday's With Dorie. Hope you enjoy!!

A new day, a new challenge! I just joined Tuesdays With Dorie , a great group of bloggers that LOVE to bake. All of the members are given a recipe from the book, "Baking, From My Home To Yours", by Dorie Greenspan. This week selection, Florida Pie, was chosen from fellow blogger, Dianne's Dishes. I have to say, I was a bit concerned with pie selection. I think I didn't realize exactly WHAT I was getting my self into. PIES? Oh boy...



Hey, you guys know I like a challenge!! Bring it on and a bag of chips! Or something like that! I got over the fear quickly and was excited. I live in Florida... Could this be a coincidence? Or did I just step into the Twilight Zone of baking? I am a true Jersey girl and never was daring enough to actually try Key Lime Pies, until now. NOW, I had no choice. And I don't give up easily.


What the H***!! NO graham cracker crust after Mother's Day?? Can you believe it? Did every one make a cheesecake last weekend or what?? I was surprised. I had to use a store bought pie crust, which I brushed with egg whites and baked at 350 degrees for 5 minutes, to harden the crust. I also substituted whipped cream instead of the meringue and toasted the coconut for the top, which totally brought out the flavor. I also could help myself, making a cake-ish sort of thing without busting out the pastry bag and tyring to make it look nice nice.



My hubby and I absolutely loved this pie. It came out SO good. The sweetness of the coconut kicks the tangy flavor down just enough. Yummy!! And EASY as pie, no pun intended.



Feel like having a stab at it? Please visit Dianne's Dishes.

Happy cakin', kids!!


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04 November 2008

Cheese & Wine Anyone??

Hey, who spilled the wine?? Hee, hee... This is a cake I made as a surprise for my husband's clients, John and Lisa. They were having a housewarming party for their new place. All of Lisa's relatives were down from NYC. Made me miss being back home for a second....
The cake was two flavors. The cheese was chocolate butter cake with cookies and cream filling and the big loaf of bread was coconut butter cake, filled with strawberries, pineapple, and Italian meringue buttercream. Each layer had a Malibu rum soak. I was doing everything I could NOT to put a little in my glass! (It was 5 o'clock somewhere!)


These were some of the fun details.... The wine glass was made from gumpaste and all of the details were fondant.
The cake board was covered with fondant and hand painted to look like wood.
I made the bottle using rice krispie treats, covered in chocolate fondant. I airbrushed it with antique green luster dust to give it a nice green glimmer. I never used rice krispie treats before and have a LOT more to learn about it!

And, of course, one of my biggest cake fans!!
Today is my daugther Sophia's birthday! Happy Birthday to my little sweetheart!! We are celebrating it in a couple of weeks. She has already placed an order for her cake!! Stay tuned!!

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28 October 2008

TWD: Chocolate Chocolate Spider Web Cuppies


It's Tuesday again, my friends, Tuesdays With Dorie. And "Pru The Baker" is here with this week's kick booty Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes, chosen by Clara from I*heart*Food4Thought on pages 215-217. And in the spirit of ALL things Halloween, I had to put a little, easy breezy spin on them!

I ate one of these puppies when they were HOT, right out of the oven. One word: *YUM*

I even found myself slathering on some extra ganache. I am a BAD girl!

To add my little twisty web and accompanying spider friend, it is EXTREMELY simple.

Get yourself some candy melts from your local cake supply or craft store, along with disposable decorating bags. You can typically buy them both in the same place...

Place the wafers into the bags and melt in the microwave according to the package directions. I nuke mine for 30 seconds, then give them a lovely massage to squish them all together.

When melted to a nice, smooth texture, cut of the tip of the bag. Don't go crazy! Just the tippy tip!!

Take your beautiful ganache cupcake....

Make a squiggly circle.... (Perfection is NOT necessary....)

Get a toothpick, not the one from dinner...

And PULL people, PULL!! Right from the center of the cupcake to the edge.

Tah Dah! Spider web done!

Now, for the spider.....

Use the same wafers and melt like above and cut off the tip.

On a parchment lined cookie sheet, draw little spiders by filling in the body and pulling out lines for the legs. Again, they DO NOT have to be perfect. They will actually be pretty ugly.....

When you are done drawing your heart out, stick them in the fridge for a couple of minutes to harden up.

Flip over your spider and place them in compromising positions on your cupcake. (Adults only!!)

That's it!!!!

"Thing 2" and "Thing 3" gave them a huge "thumbs up"! They ate all of the left over spiders too!!

As always, check out of the TWD Bakers and their FAB creations!!

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An Award, a Winner, and a Facelift!

SO, what do an award, a winner and a facelift have in common?? My blog!! All of these GREAT things have happened to my blog in the last couple of weeks!

First, the award...

I am honored to receive the "Butterfly Award" from my girl Theresa of Mexican-American Border Cooking. She graces me with her fabulous Mexican dishes that leave me drooling every time I am there! She is a such sweetheart! Thanks SO much, Theresa, for thinking of me!

I am going to pass this award to my three favorite blogging buddies:

  • Snooky Doodle Cakes: She is always bakin' her heart out, making the CUTEST creations!
  • Cake Wardrobe: For the sophisticated way she presents her cupcakes. She makes them look like a million bucks!
  • Eat My Cupcake: Sugar Betty is my sister from another mister. She has the best sense of humor and is always crackin' me up.

Thanks goes out to these blogs for making me inspired to create scrumptious bites!! They are always so kind, leaving a comment every time they visit! Take a minute to check out their goods!! You'll be happy you did!

Now, the winner....

Way back in August, I posted a giveaway for this wonderful book, along with my Tuscan Themed Wedding Cake. OK, I admit it. I was a total slacker.

I forgot.

COMPLETELY...


SO, the winner is: Stephanie of Confessions of A City Eater! I will creating her beach themed wedding cake design soon!

Congrats Stephanie!!



Now, the facelift....

No, I didn't get a facelift. Although, I do constantly slobber on tons of expensive creams to help STOP the glorious aging process. I do foresee SOME work happening in the future.. LOL...

I SO wanted my blog to get a new look. I hated my template and had been playing around with it for quite a while. BUT, they never looked like "me", ya know what I mean??


Well, Shannon of Eight Crazy Designs took REALLY good care of me.

If you are considering a facelift of your own, she is a great Blog Surgeon!! Her pricing is very reasonable and she is a JOY to work with. Stop by her place and check out her portfolio!

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20 October 2008

Sugary Halloween Picks





Halloween is right around the corner! I can't wait! We are all excited...


I have been so inspired by the GREAT blogs I have been reading with really cool Halloween ideas. So, I thought I would join in on the fun and create something really EASY, (there I go again) and a fun activity to do as a family.


Check out my Sugared Fondant Halloween Picks! EASY, guys. I swear!


Along with these basic supplies: small paintbrush, rolling pin, work mat & Styrofoam, you'll need:
  • 5oz. - Fondant, found at cake supply stores, in white or pre-colored
  • Mini cookie cutters in Halloween shapes
  • Colored sanding sugar
  • Toothpick or short bamboo skewers
  • Lemon extract or vodka (do not use water)
  • Kids (optional..)

Prepare your mat with cornstarch. Roll out fondant to 1/4" or desired thickness.

Prepare your cutter with cornstarch to prevent sticking. Cut out desired shapes in the rolled fondant.

Set aside fondant shapes to dry. Give it a good 30 minutes.

Stick toothpicks into dry fondant and set into Styrofoam to hold.

Pour lemon extract or vodka into a small bowl. If using vodka, please refrain from taking a shot! Do not use water. It takes a while to dry and will soften your fondant shapes. Using your paintbrush, paint a thin layer of the lemon or vodka onto your shapes. While wet, sprinkle on your sanding sugar. Set back into Styrofoam to dry. You can also make little eyes with royal icing or from small balls of fondant.

It's that SIMPLE, peeps. You can have the kiddies have fun cutting out the shapes and pouring on the sugar!

Have fun!!

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14 October 2008

TWD: Beautiful Biscotti, Baby!



Tuesday is here again, my friends. (I hope I am NOT turning into John McCain...) And this day truly solidifies the whole reason why I love Dorie Greenspan and her fab book, "Baking, From My Home To Yours" and Tuesdays With Dorie.

Easy and delicious recipes, kiddos!

This week's wonderful selection was chosen by our host, Gretchen of Canela & Comino who picked the Lenox Almond Biscotti on page 141 - 143. I know I say this ALL of the time... BUT, I really never knew how EASY it is to make, off ALL things, Biscotti! I am always amazed at how easy all of this hard looking stuff is. Easy, my friends. Easy, Easy EASY...

(OK, if I say easy one more time!)
A few changes I made: I added 2 TBSP. of Amaretto to the sugar mixture. (I will try to sneak alcohol into anything!) And I had whole almonds that I chopped up in the food processor. I threw slivered almonds on top and dipped the end in white chocolate. *YUM*
Tasty factor: Every time I went to the fridge to see my cutie pie biscotti, there was one missing. Come to find out, my hubby was shoveling them under the radar! I give this one a double thumbs up!!

Once again, I let my guinea pigs take a bite.


Enjoy-


Miss P

06 October 2008

Vintage Halloween Postcard Cookies

As I have said in my previous post, I am really, super cranked up for Halloween this year. Can you tell? I was surfing the web, visiting my favorite sites, when I stumbled across Fancy Flours, a web site devoted to all things baking. It is a bakers heaven, to say the least. Of all of the fantastic items they carry, they sell edible wafer paper, printed in various holiday designs. That was it! I decided to give these a try and make my own designs. (**See message at the end of the post!!) A few months ago, I purchased an edible printer. You can do SO many cool things with it! I found some great designs online that I printed on my edible paper OR frosting sheets, very similar to the wafer paper. I also found this GREAT recipe for sugar cookies on Cake Central. This dough holds its shape very well and doesn't spread when baking.


"No Fail" Sugar Cookie Recipe:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 tsp. pure almond

3 cups flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees (for at least 1/2 hour)
  2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla mixing well.
  4. Mix dry ingredients and add a little at a time to butter mixture.
  5. Mix until flour is completely incorporated and the dough comes together. (It will be pretty stiff!)
  6. Bake on ungreased baking sheet at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until just beginning to turn brown around the edges.
  7. Take the freshly made dough and place it between two sheets of parchment paper.
  8. Roll it out to the desired thickness then place the dough and paper on a cookie sheet and pop it into the refrigerator to chill, approximately 1 hour.
  9. When dough is chilled, cut 3.5" x 5.5" rectangles with a cutter. (I cut my cookies by hand since they were an irregular size.)
  10. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges just start to brown.


Now the fun part, decorating!! Make a batch of Royal Icing. You will need two batches: 1 very thin and 1 medium.

Royal Icing Recipe: Recipe makes 3 cups.

3 TBSP. Meringue Powder

1 pound (4 cups) confectioners' sugar

6 tablespoons warm water (*See note!!)

Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes at low speed with a heavy-duty mixer, 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand-held mixer).
*PLEASE NOTE: For stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water.
When using large countertop mixer or for stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water.
Use grease-free spoon or spatula to stir slowly. Add ½ teaspoon water at a time until you reach proper consistency.

How to decorate: Place edible paper in the freezer to stiffen. Thin out royal icing in a small bowl until it has a bit of a watery consistency. Then in a separate bowl, color medium consistency royal icing, as desired, with gel color (found at cake decorating supply stores). Fill the colored royal icing into a pastry bag fitted with a #5 tip. "Paint" thin consistency royal icing onto the cookie with a paintbrush. Cut postcards out of the edible paper, peel and stick onto cookie. Using your pastry bag at a 45 degree angle, pipe a line around the outline of the edible paper postcard. Sprinkle sanded sugar immediately onto the cookie.

I know, it SEEMS like a lot of work. BUT, it is worth it. You can also use a small can of premade icing instead of the royal icing.

(**BTW: Just wanted to clarify... I printed out my own designs I found online with my edible printer. If you do NOT own one of these GREAT items, stop by Fancy Flours and purchase the wafer paper they carry. To read more about edible printer and edible paper, stop by KopyKake! Thanks Nancy!!)

Enjoy!!

Miss P

01 October 2008

Itty Bitty "Caramel" Apples


October is here! It is, by far, my FAVORITE month of the year. My kids are starting to talk about their Halloween costumes. The weather even starts to cool down to the mid-80's here in Florida! (*burr*) The thoughts of fall brought me back to my youth, growing up in Jersey, when the leaves were changing and the air was crisp, visiting the apple orchard and trick or treating with a turtleneck and jeans under our costumes.


With the spirit of fall in mind, I wanted to do something that was cute and fun. I remembered the Martha Stewart Show featuring fellow blogger Bakerella, where she was demonstrating how to make her adorable "Cupcake Pops" .


Why not mini apples? I GOOGLED it and, of course, there it was! Family Fun had beat me to it. Ya know, what the heck! Can't I have a clever idea? I want to be on Martha! (*wah*) I began reading the horrible reviews their recipe had received. So, I started to play with it and came up with my own version.


RECIPE INGREDIENTS:
4-inch lollipop sticks
Melon baller
Granny Smith OR Red Delicious apples (one apple makes about 8 mini apples)
3 oz. Peanut butter chips
2 tsp. shortening
Paper towels
Nonpareils OR sprinkles
Empty egg carton
  1. Cut the lollipop sticks in half at an angle (the pointy end will go into the apple pieces easier).
  2. Combine the peanut butter chips and shortening in a small bowl. (DO NOT use caramel. Due to the moisture of the exposed apple, it will NOT stick!!) Heat chips in the microwave 30 seconds at a time until melted. Set aside to cool down, about 10 minutes.
  3. Scoop a ball out of the apple with the melon baller, exposing a section of apple peel. Work ONLY one ball at a time, to prevent the yucky browning. (See below!)
  4. Push half of a lollipop stick into the peel of the ball.
  5. Pat the apple dry with a paper towel.
  6. Dip and swirl the mini apples in the melted chips, covering the exposed apple completely, leaving only the peel showing. Set aside standing on a plate for 5 minutes.
  7. Roll the apple in sprinkles or nonpareils. Let stand for 15 minutes to harden.
  8. Place the mini "Caramel " apples in an empty egg carton and place in the fridge.

WARNING: These are very fun to make and very delicious. (Thanks goodness their small....) I was eating them as fast as I was making them.

BTW: You could also use lemon juice to prevent the browning, if you wanted to make a whole bunch at a time. I didn't want the lemon to interfere with the taste of the apple. AND after biting into them repeatedly, there was NO browning underneath the melted chip coating. I even ate them cold, right out of the fridge.

Enjoy!

Miss P