Monday, January 24, 2011

$20 CSN Giveaway!!

I have some really exciting news!! I'm going to be giving away a $20 gift certificate to CSN Stores to one lucky reader this week. CSN has over 200 stores and carries almost anything from modern furniture to baking supplies. The $20 can be used in any of their stores to get any number of things (note: the gift certificate does not cover shipping). All you have to do is become a follower of the blog (completely free and very simple to do) and then post a comment below telling me what you would buy if you won the gift certificate. Make sure you provide an email address when you become a follower so that I have a way of contacting you if you win. The giveaway will close on Monday, January 31st at midnight and the winner will be chosen randomly. Good luck and happy shopping!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cookies and Cream!

When I saw these mini Oreos on sale at Kroger's to buy 5 for 5 dollars, I knew that I wouldn't be able to resist. And after it took me a week to eat one container, I knew I had to find a way to use the other 4 before I ate them all. And what better use could there be than to put it in a cupcake?
Cookies and cream cupcakes!

After making a yellow cake mix, I decided to crush the mini Oreos and add them to the batter. I started with a cup of crushed Oreos and then began adding more and more until the batter looked good. After making them I had wished that I used bigger pieces of Oreo in the batter so that you could taste them a bit more.

The cupcakes almost looked like overly-healthy muffins when they were done as they were darker than normal and had a grainy appearance. Luckily they tasted nothing like a grain muffin.

After the cupcakes had baked, it occurred to me that these were really just cookie cupcakes so far--I was missing the cream. I really had wanted to do something with the insides of the Oreo cookies to make a frosting or a filling for the cupcakes, but because the mini Oreos did not have enough cream in the centers I decided to use the next best kind of cream--marshmallow cream.

Using a spoon, I hollowed out a small hole in the center of all of the cupcakes where the marshmallow cream would go.

And after filling a plastic bag with marshmallow cream I began piping the cream into the center of the cupcakes. The marshmallow is so thick that I microwaved the jar first for about thirty seconds just to get the consistency a bit thinner so that the plastic bag didn't break as I filled the cupcakes.

This gave the cupcakes a nice, warm, rich center and seemed like more of an Oreo-style cupcake.

I used a whipped chocolate fudge frosting for the cupcakes and garnished the tops with a mini Oreo for decoration.
Some of the cupcakes I filled with hot fudge sundae topping to see how they would taste.
And yes, they were also delicious.

I frosted some with the chocolate frosting and then tried frosting some with the marshmallow cream to keep it a bit lighter in taste and ease up on the chocolate.

The marshmallow cream however did not hold up very nicely and spilled over the cupcakes as they sat.

The original cupcakes with marshmallow cream as a filling and chocolate fudge whipped frosting were deemed everyone's favorites, although all three of the variations were really good overall.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Monster Mash Continued!

Photos are finally uploaded and the monsters are here!
 Each one of these cupcakes takes one big cupcake, one mini cupcake, two suckers, and two peach rings (for the eyes--see below).
 I used my mini cupcake maker to make the smaller cupcakes.
Here are the finished mini cupcakes.
I bought Wilton decorating tips at Walmart when I was getting my car worked on...they were just too cheap and too fun to pass up.
I decorated some of the mini cupcakes while I waited for the big ones to finish.
I think minis are cute no matter what you do to decorate them.

Finally the big ones were done. I made the cupcakes using a yellow cake box mix (pictured earlier).
I tinted some of the vanilla frosting blue for the fur. It was the only food coloring I could find and I had Will in the back of my mind making comments about Big Blue Nation and big blue monsters (UK basketball), so I went with it and did them all in variations of blue.
I put the frosting in a Ziploc baggie and tried to use one of my new tips with it, however they kept sliding back into the bag like so.

To start stacking the cupcakes, I piped a dot of frosting on the center of the larger cupcakes and placed the mini cupcake on top.

This gives the monster a nice dome shape.
Next, I started piping in the blue frosting "fur" with a star tip.
Continue with a second layer, covering the tops of both cupcakes.
After finding two of the same color eyes that I had previously made, I carefully pushed them into the top of the mini cupcake on an angle.
Sometimes I would put the eyes in first and other times I would pipe the frosting first but I really didn't notice a difference in appearance.
Doesn't it look like he has a moustache?
Finish piping up by the eyes and your monster is done!

I tried piping a lot of different ways to change the fur, such as using a leaf tip like above.

Or piping strings all over like this one.
Without fur they look seem to look a bit like aliens.
Or at least aliens with a nice 'stache.
You can change the eye color.
Or the fur color.
After making the white monster I decided to add a few drops of blue into the bag of frosting and get a nice mix of blue and white fur. I also microwaved the frosting for 20 seconds to thin it out and create a lighter consistency since I was using so much frosting on the cupcakes.

If you look at the other side of the monster the eyes always seem to look evil.
I also tried making one using a knife to frost the cupcake to use less frosting (I was running out).
Adding sprinkles as the fur, it turned out pretty well.
Don't let the happy rainbow sprinkles fool you however, because this monster has an evil side...
When I began to run out of mini cupcakes (or people began eating all of the minis!!) I started using the smaller cupcakes to go on top and it worked out just fine.
Here's another attempt at the squiggly fur.
These three were all made with the thinner frosting but I don't think it was overly noticeable.
Here are two of the mini cupcakes with just plain blue frosting.
The frosting was too thin for the swirl but a big ball worked quite well.
The little curl made me think of the Cupcakes by Clever logo and made me want to revise it. We'll see if I have time this week.
Here are the finished monsters! I didn't use a nose like they did in the book, and I had made four more pictured earlier but the boys wanted to try them before I had finished all of the cupcakes. I wish I had gotten a picture of Will, Camul and Ben Allen with blue frosting all over their face as they tried to eat the cupcake in one bite! I loved making these cupcakes and they really were delicious. The only problem was it was weird to eat the suckers as you're eating a cupcake and since there were two you had to chew them. But as far as looks and taste goes, these were a huge hit and were definitely worth making again.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Monster Mash

This week has been exceptionally busy but I finally found time to make my crazy-eyed monsters (see poll on the left) this weekend. All you need to make them is a box of cake mix, a can of vanilla frosting, a bag of small suckers, a bag of gummy peach rings and food coloring.
I made the eyes for the monsters ahead of time to speed up the baking process a bit.

First I picked out the colors that I wanted the center of the eyes to be and chose sucker flavors accordingly. (Strawberry for red eyes, grape for purple eyes, ect.).
After unwrapping the sucker take a peach ring and carefully push the end of the sucker stick through one side of the ring.
Now slide the ring up around the sucker stick and pull it over top of the sucker so that it's surrounding the candy part of the sucker.
And pull it over top of the sucker.
Now you've made one eye. Continue on, using different colors but making two of each eyes.

Be careful not to push too hard on the sucker or else you'll break the stick.

You can make lots of different colors and flavors (after all, they are monsters, they're supposed to look strange).
Just keep them paired up with their flavor so that you don't have a cotton candy and a blue raspberry sucker together in a weird combination.

Unfortunately, due to issues with pictures not downloading properly, these monster cupcakes are going to have to be continued tomorrow morning. Check back for the final results!