Category Archives: Eating

I can’t really call this cooking because maybe I’m baking or maybe we are eating out and I want to share. In any event, in the end, we will be eating it. Unless it’s terrible, which happens on occasion.

Pip-Boy and Nuka-Cola

 
  

Until a few months ago, I had no idea what this meant. I still don’t really other than it has to do with Fallout 4. Which is a video game that was released on November 10th. Waaaayyyy back in June, it was announced that there would be a special edition released that would include a Pip-Boy. From what I gathered, a Pip-Boy is something worn on the arm by characters in the game. What I knew for certain was that my husband was really excited about this, but they were sold out…everywhere.

Thanks to my being home during the summer, I was able to monitor websites fairly closely and was ready to pounce when they came available. From then, it was just a matter of telling but not telling my husband to purchase the game.


The game finally arrived this week. There was a bit of a delay in the shipping, so by the time it finally arrived, we were both excited. It felt like Santa had arrived.

 

 

With all this excitement, I was inspired to make him a cake. When I finished my orders for the week, I used the tiny little 4-inch cakes I made with left-over batter to construct him a cake.

I used the few details I know about the game to help me design the cake. I know there are vaults in each version of the game. The vault for Fallout 4 is 111. The vault door was the inspiration for the top of the cake. After covering the cake in grey frosting, I added some copper powder to make it look old and rusted; just like everything on the screen looks in the game.

 

The cake is made using 1-2-3-4 Pound Cake recipe from Swans Down with a couple of alterations. I used 1 cup coconut milk. I also substituted the almond extract for coconut extract. Each layer was made from leftover dough from orders this week. One order included turquoise cupcakes which is where that one colored layer is from.

The little topper was made with candy melts mixed with light corn syrup. I just learned this trick. By mixing the two ingredients together, you create an almost fondant. Though it tastes much better. It also doesn’t dry out when you are working with it. It’s my new favourite discovery.

 

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Pink Peppermint French Macaron

I’m still working on launching my baking blog. It’s getting close, I promise. Despite not sharing here, I am still baking. I quite liked this photo of the mess of French Macarons I made a couple of weeks ago. I thought I would share it today.

French Macarons

Don’t they look amazing!

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Red Wine Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

Haunted Red Wine Dark Chocolate

My goal had been to make Halloween cupcakes that were blood-red. Or at least not the day-glow red that many red velvet recipes have to offer these days. After a couple of bouts of fruitless searching on Google and Pinterest (yes, I got that desperate), I remembered the amazing “Red Wine Velvet Cake” from Smitten Kitchen‘s cookbook. It doesn’t bake up bright red and it would be the perfect addition to a grown-up Halloween party. You can find a similar recipe on her blog. It is “red wine chocolate cake”.

I am not a wine connoisseur by any means. I chose a cheap red wine. I went in looking for a wine with a sweet flavor and a brighter red color. A fun label helps my decisions as well. I’m sure I didn’t spend more than $8.00. My reasoning for choosing a bright red wine was simply I thought it would add to the red color rather than the chocolate color. I don’t believe it did, but that may have also been because of my next mistake.

Haunted Red Wine Dark Chocolate

The recipe calls for cocoa. Specifically, Dutch cocoa. I cannot find Dutch cocoa at my local grocery stores. I typically use just regular powdered cocoa with good results. Often, I use dark chocolate cocoa since I am a fan of dark chocolate. My intention was to use the regular cocoa. But while I was baking, I got a little distracted (or something) and grabbed the dark cocoa instead. The darkness of the cocoa overpowered any hope I had of having a red tint to the cake. I don’t think even a bottle of red food coloring would have helped.

Since I had an entire bottle of wine at my disposal and there were going to be no children at this event, I decided to take the red wine flavor a bit further and add it to the frosting as well. Many recipes for frosting with alcohol just replace the milk (or cream), with the alcohol. Alcohol, while a liquid, is also a dehydrator. Think about how you feel after a night out. I have found that leaving in at least one Tablespoon of milk, helps retain the moisture needed. Adding the milk has helped with my ability to pipe the frosting onto cupcakes.

Haunted Red Wine Dark Chocolate

To make these truly Halloween worthy, I added black fondant cutouts. I used a marshmallow fondant. I have found I like the taste the best. Plus, it uses 3 ingredients versus the other types which would require finding a specialty baking shop. Most recipes yield about 2 pounds of fondant. I rarely need that much. I discovered that it is simply a matter of dividing the recipe so you end up with the amount of fondant you want. In this case, I divided by 4 to end up with one-quarter of a pound. Another trick I learned (and forgot to do this time) is to add the food coloring to the melted marshmallows before adding the confectioner’s sugar. This means you will only have one color, but it will save you from having to knead the color into a sticky brick.

Haunted Red Wine Dark Chocolate

You can follow the link  for the cake recipe. To make the cake into cupcakes, I used a muffin pan lined with cupcake liners. I baked them for 20 minutes, which I think may have been a minute too long.

Red Wine Frosting

  • 16 ounces confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 Tablespoon milk
  • 3 Tablespoons red wine
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • red food coloring (optional)

Directions:

  1. Cream butter in mixing bowl. Add vanilla.
  2. Slowly add confectioner’s sugar until it is all in the bowl.
  3. Add 1 Tablespoon milk.
  4. Add red wine 1 Tablespoon at a time. You may not need all 3 Tablespoons depending on the consistency of frosting you want.
  5. If you want your frosting more red, add a touch of red food coloring. (I didn’t have any on hand, so my frosting stayed pink.

Haunted Red Wine Dark Chocolate

 

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Halloween Treats

Halloween Treats

Just in time for Halloween, I have a quick cupcake treat for you to mix up for the kids. They went over well with my students after a long character day walk during school. They were delighted to kick their shoes off and settle into this brightly coloured treat.

I am not one to turn to box mixes, 99% of the time I bake from scratch. Every now and then, a box mix is needed for a quick project. Particularly when the crowd isn’t particular about the taste. Seven-year-olds would be happy with a scoop of frosting!

Halloween Treats

This isn’t a new trick, there are dozens of tutorials on how to make multi-coloured cupcakes. Essentially, you mix together a white cake recipe (I used a box for this project), separate into bowls (one for each colour), and mix in food coloring. Then you scoop a little of each color into your cupcake pan and bake away.

I will give this warning, if you are using a box mix, remember to only fill each cup about half full. Otherwise you end up with towering cupcakes. Which I ended up trimming down before adding the frosting.

Halloween Treats

I used a basic buttercream frosting tinted bright orange. I believe that was my favourite part!

Supplies:

  • White cake mix (or recipe) plus ingredients listed on back
  • Food colouring
  • Cupcake pan and liners
  • 3 bowls
  • Frosting

Directions:

  1. Mix cake according to directions.
  2. Separate into 3 bowls.
  3. Add desired food coloring to bowls (I used purple, yellow, and green)
  4. Scoop each color into cupcake pan.
  5. Bake according to box (or recipe) directions.
  6. When cupcakes are cooled, decorate with frosting.

Halloween Treats

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Baking With Booze

Irish Cream Coffee Cupcakes

It’s a risky title, but I’m going with it. Normally, I save my baking with alcohol until around St. Patrick’s Day. Admittedly, this is when I baked these cupcakes for the first time. Since this excursion into baking with booze, I have been seeking out opportunities to use alcohol in my baking.

I find it rather exhilarating to add a little element of naughty into something so sweet and innocent such as cupcakes. You should see people’s eyes light up when you mention there is beer or liquor in the cupcake they are about to partake. It’s as if they were 16 and sneaking a sip of their daddy’s forgotten beer.

Irish Cream Coffee Cupcakes

The delightful addition to these chocolate cupcakes is Irish Cream and coffee. The flavor of the Irish Cream is not strong (I will probably add more next time). I do plan on using a bit of coffee in all of my chocolate cake or cupcake baking in the future. The addition of the coffee, really accentuates the chocolate flavor. Next time you’re baking, add a quarter to half cup of coffee. I promise, it will be amazing.

I plan to tweak the recipe I followed to make these particular cupcakes just a little bit for personal preferences, but that’s not going to stop me from sharing the source. They are quite good. I followed the recipe posted here for Irish Cream & Coffee Cupcakes.  

Irish Cream Coffee Cupcakes

The one change I did make was with the frosting. I left the coffee out of the frosting. I don’t like a strong coffee flavor. Instead, I increased the amount of Irish Cream I used and added a little bit of milk. When using alcohol to create frosting, you will need to add more liquid that when using straight milk. I imagine it has something to do with the alcohol not moisturizing, but I have not done research on the topic. I just know I need to add more than 3-4 tablespoons to get the consistency I need to pipe frosting.

Irish Cream Coffee Cupcakes

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Birthday Baking

Pink Layer Cup Cakes

This year, I decided to try something new for my birthday treats. Yep, I still make birthday treats for myself. All my co-workers appreciate it. Then again, we are teachers and get birthday treats on a regular basis. Since those treats are store bought, I like to add a little homemade goodness to the mix.

Pink Layer Cup Cakes

I’ve seen stacked cupcakes featured on a few blogs and thought I would give them a try. Rather than try to bake something already round, I opted to bake the cake mixture as a flat sheet. I used a jelly roll pan that is 15 x 11 inches. By baking the cake in this manner, I ended up with a 1 inch thick cake. I then used a 2 in circle cutter to cut out my circles (I think next time, I’ll use a sharper edged cutter as the edges were a little rough).

Pink Layer Cup Cakes

I used a basic buttercream frosting. To make it interesting, I used variegated shades of pink, starting with white. After completing a layer of filling, I added a little more food coloring paste to darken the pink. (I’ll have to do this again as I didn’t take photos of each step.)

Pink Layer Cup Cakes

They turned out amazingly! The cake was fudgey. By using thin layers of frosting, I managed to avoid them being overly sweet.

Pink Layer Cup Cakes

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Lovely Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars

I connect lemons with summer. We always had lemonade. Though, not fresh squeezed lemonade, we had Country Time Lemonade. My mom knew how to mix it up just right. Now that I live in Florida, I am having to rethink all of my perceptions about when certain fruits and vegetables are ripe. Lemons are no exception. I do realise it is July as I am typing this, but I made these bars back in February when the lemons on the neighbour’s tree were ripe for picking. Though I am sure, these bars will be just a good with the imported lemons currently available.

Lemon Bars

Until this year, I had never used lemons. Like I said, lemonade came from a powder! I enjoyed testing out a few recipes using fresh squeezed lemon juice. Topping the charts was the lemon bar recipe I tested. It was the perfect blend of sour and sweet. Even the crust was amazing. It wasn’t too crumbly and it seemed to melt in your mouth.

Lemon Bars

Since this was my first time making lemon bars, I followed the recipe from Smitten Kitchen exactly. (You can find it here.) I used the full-sized lemon layer. It was perfect. Even my fiance (who dislikes cheesecakey things because of the texture) loved them. I thought he would prefer a thinner layer of lemon, but he didn’t.

Lemon Bars

I don’t believe I would change anything to make this recipe again. Well, except maybe line the pans with parchment. Even with greasing the pans, the bars stuck to the sides.

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Star Wars Cupcakes

Star Wars Cupcakes

You may have guessed by now, that we are a little on the nerdy side. Or maybe I’ve hidden that fact fairly well thus far. Which means, that we also have friends who are a little nerdy too. Maybe some a little more than others, but it doesn’t matter as we enjoy spending time with them. Especially for birthdays!

Star Wars Cupcakes

I have started offering to bring cupcakes or cakes whenever we are invited to parties. I’m working on getting my baking skills known so if I ever open a bakery, I already have a long list of customers!

Star Wars Cupcakes

This birthday boy, is a huge fan of Star Wars. With that knowledge and some newly acquired Star Wars stamp cookie cutters, I was inspired to do a little experimenting. (I really wish I had taken photos of this part.) The set includes; Yoda, Darth Vader, a Storm Trooper, and the Death Star. Not only do they work well when making cookies, they work exceptionally well on fondant. The most difficult part was making sure not to roll the fondant to thin.

Star Wars Cupcakes

The cupcakes themselves, were spectacular. I made Cupcakes-on-Tap from Bake at 350. This is my second time using this particular recipe. I used a different beer both times. The flavor was both amazing and different each time. For this batch, I used AmberBock. The birthday boy’s beer of choice. I highly recommend using this beer (though I also plan on testing this with other beers).

Star Wars Cupcakes

 I also followed the included frosting recipe. Having the touch of beer in the frosting, made it that much more fun. Though, the frosting was very thick. I recommend adding a little milk to make it easier to pipe onto the cupcakes.

Star Wars Cupcakes

These cupcakes are not child friendly. Make sure you are only serving these to people of legal drinking age.

 

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Limoncello Finire

Our limoncello is finally complete! I waited the maximum suggested time for both infusion processes. Following the soaking of the lemon zest (only the yellow part). You then add sugar and let it rest yet again. I’m thinking it was well worth the 2 month wait. Particularly since it is toasty warm again and our pool is ready for use. This will be a nice Sunday afternoon treat.

To complete the limoncello, you will need:

  • cheesecloth
  • bowl
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • funnel
  • bottle for storage

Directions:

  1. On the stove, heat water and sugar in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and let boil for 5-7 minutes. Remove pan from heat and allow to cool. This is a simple syrup.
  2. Dampen the cheesecloth. Spread a double layer of cheesecloth over your bowl (It helps to have an extra set of hands for this part). Carefully pour the infused vodka and lemon zest through the cheese cloth into the bowl. Be sure to squeeze every last drop of liquid out of the cheesecloth as possible.
  3. Pour the simple syrup into the vodka. For a clear limoncello, wait for the syrup to cool completely; for a cloudy syrup, pour in the syrup while it is still warm.
  4. Using your funnel, transfer the limoncello into your storage bottle. Seal the bottle and let age in that same cool dark corner for at least a week but up to a month. The longer you let it age, the smoother the taste. Refrigerate or freeze after ageing.
  5. Convince fiance to design a label!

 

For both processes, I let mine sit for nearly a month. It is wonderful. It is also very strong and sweet. I have found I can’t drink more than a shot or so of it at a time. It should last me for much of the summer.

I have seen other flavor options around. I may give them a go next!

 

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Filled Lemon Chiffon Cupcakes

This may be the first recipe I claim as my own. It didn’t begin as my own. I started off making a cake shared by cake journal and ended off going my own way with the entire process.

The cupcakes are light and fluffy with an almost angel food cake texture. Thanks to the airy-ness, the lemon curd filling didn’t glob all into one place, it spread around inside the cupcake. To complete the cupcake, I added a lemon cream cheese frosting. They were delicious!

I started out following the Lemon Chiffon Cake recipe from cake journal. With a few major deviations.

Lemon Chiffon Cupcakes

  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest

Directions

Heat over to 350° F. Line cupcake pans with liners. Separate the eggs into 2 bowls. In the bowl with the egg yolks, add the oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and water. Mix until just combined. In another bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt, and 1 cup of sugar. Save the rest of the sugar for the egg whites. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Mix until smooth.

In your mixer’s bowl, beat the egg whites until light and foamy. Slowly add the remaining sugar. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Mix the egg whites into the cake batter. Fold in 1/3 of the eggs at a time.

Scoop batter into cupcake pan. I use an ice cream scoop to get even results. Bake for 12-16 minutes. My oven cooks cupcakes in 15 minutes. The cupcakes will be lightly browned with a slightly rounded top when you pull them out of the oven. They will fall as they cool to have a flat top. Remove from pans and allow to cool on a baking rack.

Lemon Curd Filling

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 pound butter, room temperature
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions

Cream the butter. Beat in the sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mixing completely between eggs. Mix in the lemon juice. Mix until combined.

On the stove, pour the mixture into a 2 quart saucepan. Cook over low heat until thickened. It should take about 10 min. Stir constantly. I highly recommend using a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature. The curd will thicken at 170°F. You should see the change.

Remove from heat to let cool.

Once the cupcakes and lemon curd are cool, you can fill the cupcakes with the lemon curd. There are multiple ways to do this. You could remove a portion of the cupcake. I have an attachment for a pastry bag that I use for injecting filling.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 pound butter
  • 5 cups powdered sugar

Directions

In a mixing bowl, place the zest, cream cheese, and butter. Beat until fluffy. About 2-3 minutes. Slowly add powdered sugar. I usually add about 1/2 cup at a time to prevent any from being mixed over the edge.

Using your method of choice, frost your cupcakes. If you are not using a pastry bag, you can probably get away with making half of the frosting recipe.

Make It and Love It

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