Friday, December 31, 2010

Marshmallow Madness

Marshmallows are one of my favorite things. I even tried to go on a fat-free diet before once, eating only marshmallows and Swedish fish (super healthy right?). It lasted about 3 days before I admitted how unhealthy (but delicious!) it was and stopped. But seeing how cheap marshmallow cream is when shopping one day I decided that I had to buy a jar, not to eat--of course ;) ;) but for baking purposes.

So to keep myself from eating all of the marshmallow fluff with a spoon, I decided to make mini cupcakes illegally in my dorm (shh!! don't tell!) and pipe marshmallow cream into the centers. The chocolate cupcakes I made in my mini cupcake maker (see below, you plug it in to the wall and the cupcakes are done in about 7-8 minutes, almost like a George Foreman grill).

I figured the marshmallow cream would be so sticky that it would be easier to spoon into a plastic bag and pipe the cream into the centers of the cupcakes, but the fluff is so thick that it was fairly difficult and I ended up just using two spoons and scrapping it into the center of the cored cupcakes

Honestly, you couldn't really tell that the cupcakes had marshmallow inside of them, most likely because they were so small of cupcakes, however everyone thought they were delicious! The marshmallow made the cupcakes moist and gooey and chocolaty, yet they weren't too overpowering because they were mini. A little bit of pink buttercream to make them cute and the cupcakes were done. Simple, but great.

Here's another mini chocolate and pink cupcake that I thought I'd include since I only have one picture from my phone of them. Instead of chocolate cake mix I used brownie mix, and instead of homemade buttercream I used an aerosol can of cupcake frosting that you can buy at the grocery store. The cans come in lots of different colors and have four different plastic tips that you can use (I used the star tip). While they were really quick and super easy to make, they ended up being a really nice little brownie bite with just the right amount of frosting.

Chicks Ahoy!

While this cake is quite old (2 Easter's ago) I thought I would include it anyways, as it was my first (and possibly last) attempt at using homemade marshmallow cream fondant. I made the fondant using a simple recipe: marshmallows, water, and lots of powdered sugar. I microwaved a bowl of jumbo marshmallows (jumbo or mini, doesn't matter) with 2 tablespoons of water in 30 second increments, stirring in between each time as the marshmallows melt. Once the marshmallows are completely melted, stir in about half of a bag of powdered sugar so that the marshmallows aren't so sticky. Grease a counter top, or a big baking pan and cover it with powdered sugar (like you would flour if you were rolling out cookies, but use a lot more) and pour the mixture onto the powdered sugar and begin kneading the sugar into the marshmallow mixture until it has the consistency similar to dough.

Grease a rolling pin and sprinkle it with powdered sugar, and then roll out the fondant like dough, until it is about 1/4" thick. After baking and frosting the cake, (mine was a layered yellow cake with a vanilla buttercream) carry the fondant draped over the rolling pin and carefully lay it across the cake, making sure to cover the sides. Smooth the fondant down onto the cake, making sure there is no tears or wrinkles. The fondant is really sweet since it is essentially just marshmallows and sugar, but it becomes very chewy after awhile and you have to be careful when cutting the cake to make sure you get through the fondant first so that it does not tear it off of the cake.

While it made the cake look nice, it really did not seem worth all of the extra hassle and work for a non-tiered cake. I also think next time I'll just buy pre-made fondant and save half the time. For the yellow chick in the center, I used a circular cookie cutter to make an imprint on the cake for both the body and the head and then piped the fur with yellow frosting, using an orange frosting for accents and a white frosting to make a pearl border around the cake's top and bottom.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pigs and Ham

....Well, at least pigs and hamburgers. 
Anyways, the pigs were made for yet another one of mom's third grade field trips, this time, to a farm.

Wheel of Fortune

One of my sister Jenn's all-time favorite shows is Wheel of Fortune. Yes, she even has her own Spin-ID and will shout out the answer to the puzzles the second she figures it out, no matter where she is or who she is around. Jenn however, is quite picky about her sweets (hence her being so stick-thin and making me being so insanely jealous) and asked for an angel food cake for her birthday cake instead of a regular cake. See, the thing about angel food cakes is that they're typically baked in a circular bunt cake pan with an open center so that the cake sticks to the sides and rises, become lighter and fluffier than a normal cake. However, I didn't think that there would be a lot of room for decorative creativity until I figured out that I could make her a wheel of fortune cake.

Using a really thin, watery icing so that it wouldn't overpower the angel food cake and so that the colors would have a nice shine, I dyed the icing in different bright colors to make the panels in the wheel, and I made a thicker black icing (it turned out slightly gray because of the food coloring I used) to write the numbers and also to make the bankrupt space.

Taking a serrated knife, I made marks in the cake where I wanted the panels to be, trying to get them evenly-spaced and after spreading each one of the colored icings, I used a white frosting to pipe in between each one and around the center. To make the handles on the wheels, I cut a wooden skewer into pieces and pressed them into the cake about 1/4" so that they'd stand upright in the cake.

Jenn was so surprised when she first saw the cake, I loved seeing her reaction.

It's a Jungle out There!

Almost everyone in elementary school takes a field trip to the zoo, and Mrs. Clever's third grade class was no exception to the trend. In celebration of one of their field trips I decided to make zoo-themed cupcakes for the kids.
Using my moms favorite funfetti cake mix and a vanilla buttercream icing tinted green, I made these caged-animal cupcakes. The animals are pink and white frosted animal crackers pushed through the top of the cupcake to anchor them in place. Again, do this right after frosting the cupcakes to ensure that they stay in place. Next I stuck pretzel rods into the frosting surrounding the animal to represent the cage bars. To complete the cage, I used a half of a graham cracker square that I frosted (you could use a less-noticeable color, but I was feeling lazy and kept the green) and carefully placed on top of the pretzel sticks.

Just Beachy

Beach cupcakes. Perfect for December, right?

Black Licorice Birthday Cake

Because what goes better than black licorice and birthday cake? (Answer: Anything!!)