Friday, December 10, 2010



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What Holiday Treats Do You Look Forward To?
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American Cake Decorating did a poll to find out just what people really look forward to at Christmas.  The results were unanimous for Cookies!  Almost 70 percent of the people polled look forward to Christmas cookies as opposed to 15 percent, gingerbread houses, and 12 percent, other.  Wow, I guess because the cookies are usually so delightfully colored and with such beautiful shapes!

On the same poll they asked what theme would they choose for their New Years cake.  The majority chose a theme of champagne and a midnight kiss, while others mentioned themes of fireworks, streamers, and confetti.

So what will be your themes?  Gingerbread houses? Wreath cakes? or something truly unique?  If you'd like to read more of the American Cake Decorating "slice" you can go here and check it out.

From cakesandmore.com

From polsb.com













Below you'll find the best (so far) sugar cookie recipe.  I like it better with vanilla instead of almonds but that depends on your taste buds.

Sugar Cookiesrecipe from ourbestbites.com

1 C real butter (no substitutions!)
1 C sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 t almond extract (you could use vanilla instead)
3 C flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy- about 2 minutes. Add in eggs and extract and mix to incorporate.

In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt and whisk to combine. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until completely combined.

Shape the dough into 2 flat disks and wrap in waxed paper and place in the fridge to chill for 1-2 hours. If you want your cookies to hold their shape well, the dough needs to be chilled properly.  A great tip to speed things up is to immediately roll dough between 2 sheets of waxed paper and place on a flat surface in the fridge. It will chill super fast and be ready to go in no time.

When you're ready to roll out dough lightly sprinkle flour onto your work surface and roll out dough with a rolling pin.

Bake at 350 for 8-12 minutes. The baking time really depends on how you like them. If you like them really soft under-bake them. In my oven, about 8 minutes does it. However if you're making large cookies, or ones with small parts or heavy frosting, you might want to be careful because they might break when they're super soft.

About 8 minutes will get you a really soft cookie, a few minutes longer (when they start to just brown around the edges) and you'll get just a little crispiness around the edges and then a soft center, bake even longer (and roll thinner) and you'll get a buttery, crispy cookie that will just melt in your mouth. Any way you do it, they'll taste good. Remove onto cooling racks when you're done and let cool completely. I honestly think these even taste better the second day.

The best icing recipe is found at http://www.wilton.com/recipe/Royal-Icing.  You can use less Meringue Powder and/or water depending on the consistency and drying time desired.  More powder means it dries faster.  Thicker for borders and writing, etc.  Thinner for filling in between the lines and to get a smooth finish.

From denislambing.com
Sugarcraft

Readers Digest

Readers Digest

Readers Digest
 Until next time.....happy baking!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Send me your ideas!

We're now almost into December AGAIN! Seems like the year just flew by! I have some ideas for cakes and desserts for the holidays approaching but I'd really like to hear from you. What do you do that makes your holiday so special? What desserts to you bake? How do you decorate your cakes, cookies, etc to give them that personal appeal? What are your favorite recipes from childhood that you have carried forward for your own children?  Mine is my grandmother's deliciously chewy (fresh) ginger cookies....yyyyuummm!
Please, I want to know more about my readers! And yes, I have many, many readers! In fact at least 75-100 (actually I just checked and it's as many as 567!) and sometimes more visit my site daily! I love this but I would like to hear from you also. I truly hope you have a wonderful holiday season and vacation for those who get a break from school.










I look forward to ready your comments.  Until next time......happy baking!


Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Cupcake Cakes

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When most people think of cakes they think of the traditional round or sheet cake.  But becoming more popular these days is the cupcake cake because of the ease of serving it.  Just pull one off and hand it out; no slicing needed.

I had my own series of cupcake cakes when I worked for WalMart's bakery.  They are easy to put together and once smooth you can give them most any look.  For Thanksgiving I had a series of pilgrims, indians and turkeys.  I also had the convenience of an airbrush for all but the turkeys.  However, you can make a simple color sprayer by using an atomizer, some food color and water mixed to suit your need.  Simply mist the areas lightly to obtain the color needed.  It doesn't look as good as an airbrush but it does ok.  I only needed some rosy red for the cheeks on these guys:

See how wonderful they turn out? And they sell like hotcakes!

You just change the order of the cupcakes depending on the design you're wanting to achieve.

All of the one's here have 12 cupcakes and buttercream icing.  I used the grass tip for hair.  Works great!


She wasn't quite as beautiful as I wanted.  I made her a few days after the others and had forgotten the shape of eyes I'd used on the one's before her.  So she turned out a little beady-eyed! but not bad.   use the rose tip to make the ruffled hat.
This guy is made from only 2 cupcakes.  I cut the corner from a cake board to make a support for his tail.  Once you get the two cupcakes iced using a 21 or 22 border tip then you just stick the board to his back side and ice onto it - both sides starting from the outside and working in so the feathers fall on top of each other.  Make his face the same as with the first turkey.

Hope this gives you some more fun ideas with the kids and for your special Thanksgiving Day!  

Until next time..... Happy Baking!


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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thanksgiving Cake Ideas

With Thanksgiving not too far around the corner it's time to start thinking of ideas for your family Thanksgiving cake.  Many people are satisfied with just a pumpkin pie or some apple dumplings; yet others want something a bit more exciting.  I've taken some time to look around the web and pull some ideas that I thought were really awesome looking cakes.  I hope this will trigger some unique ideas for your special day!


 The cornucopia is always popular during this season


 Nice and colorful fall leaves add a nice touch to this 3 tier


Gobble Gobble......Nice job with fondant!



 Oh, I love this basket weave.  I wonder if the nuts are real or fondant.


Very delightful looking turkeys if I do say so myself!  And look, they have card holders for a message.  Maybe the turkeys are porcelain?


 Yyyuuummmm, Looks like a carrot cake with walnuts!  My favorite!


 Now, I think this is my favorite so far!  Cute little scarecrows in a pile of leaves... Adorable!

And how about those Indians and Pilgrims?   If you're a chocolate lover this one's for you!



 Very nice and calming.

 Ooops, what was I thinking?  Funny pic huh?

 From Martha Stewart, acorns and pumpkins

 Oh, I like this one!  I love those "twistie" cookies!  Bet it's delicious!


We can't forget our little ones!  These are probably made with 4" rounds.  Too cute!

With whatever you choose to make I hope you have a wonderful holiday!

Until next time.....happy baking!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Cupcake Truck - Awesome Story!
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A few years ago while watching television I saw a story about this couple in New Haven, CT who began baking cupcakes from their home and selling them on the streets....literally.

Every morning this couple gets up in the wee hours of the morning, while most of us are still sleeping, and they begin baking cupcakes. They load them into what looks like a renovated ice cream truck and park at various places around the city. What's really cool is they have a website and a blog site. Each day you can go online and find out where the truck will be parking and also to see what the menu will be for the next day! Icing is also your choice and comes in a variety of flavors.  On their main website you can hover over each flavor to find out what day they make that flavor.  One day may be Chocolate, Red Velvet, and Sweet Potato Pecan cupcake with vanilla or chocolate buttercream, cream cheese, peanut butter or caramel icing; another day may be lemon meringue or salted caramel.


What started out as a simple and some might say crazy idea has really grown.  At the time I first saw this story they only had the truck; but now they have a sister store located in Bridgeport, CT as well!  Wow, great going you two!   Great and unique idea!  I love it and am so excited for you!  Good luck for continued success.

Until next time.......happy baking!

When you're finished here please come visit my new jewelry page at:
http://www.etsy.com/shop/debraparker63

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Make Your Cakes
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If you remember back in August I posted a blog about "Make Your Cakes" website. This is an ever-growing site with recipes, material descriptions and directions for some of the most beautiful cake designs.  She's constantly adding more cake ideas so always check her site if you need something fresh and new.



This site was created by Arq. María Victoria Pomponi.  She founded the Maria Victoria Pomponis Institute in 1986.  She gives lessons all around the country and abroad. She makes annual expositions with her pupils where they show their achievements. She was cakes decorating jury in different national and international competitions.  She shows her knowledge in many TV programmes.  Author and editor of Tortas y algo más, Sukkar, and Sugar magazines.  Author and editor of books and manuals.  She uses the Step by Step method in all her publications with a photograph for each movement of the explanation getting that all readers can make their own work.  Since all the success in the country and abroad, she shows her products in ICES International Cake Exploration Societé, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA.

Her passion for teaching and her desires of forming the pupils from different parts of the world, takes her and her daughters to show all her knowledge through the web.  

Click HERE to go directly to her site and see what she has to offer you!  Below you'll also find some of her books listed on Amazon.com.  Until next time........happy baking!

When you're finished here please come visit my new jewelry page at:
http://www.etsy.com/shop/debraparker63

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fun to Make Monkey Cake
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While this fella looks like a lot of work, it's quite the opposite.  He is made from 7 - 7" round cakes and two cupcakes.  That's it!  The only carving done was for the feet.  Here's how I did it:

After coloring your decorator's icing the desired colors, on a full-sheet board, stack two of the 7" layers, icing between them if desired within 5 inches of the top of the board and centered vertically.  Then place the next stack of two layers touching and just below the first ones.  Ice the sides and just about 1/2" around the top of your layers, smoothing it as best you can.  Then ice the center of the top and smooth it.  You may want to go back over the outer area of the top with a wide-tip piping to make it as perfect as possible.

Next Take a single layer and center it on top of what you already have iced, positioning it slightly more to the top as you want the belly to be larger than the eye area.  Ice this layer and smooth it.  After about 30 minutes the layers should start to crust over and you can take a paper towel or parchment paper and lay it lightly onto the cake and gently smooth it with the palm of your hand.  If it's still sticky, wait a few minutes longer.


For the ears take a single cupcake for each ear and cut the bottom off at an angle from top corner to the opposite bottom corner.  Lay them with the taller side on the outside and the short side touching the side of the head.  Ice them using the same process.  You may find a smaller piping tip and a smaller size spatula or spreading tool works best for getting close to the cake when doing the ears.    
Pipe on your arms, eyes, nose, mouth and don't forget the belly-button!  If you want to do numbers; put the numbers onto the board after making the arms but before doing the hands as you'll want the fingers to wrap around the number as if he is holding it.

With this cake you can play around with it and make it a female, adding a flower in the hair or clothes, etc.  When I started making these at Walmart, I had at least three orders per week for this cake.  Children really love monkeys!  I only wish I had taken pics step by step for these instructions.  If you have questions feel free to write me or comment below.


Until next time.........happy baking!

When you're finished here please come visit my new jewelry page at:
http://www.etsy.com/shop/debraparker63

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Royal Icing Sugar Cookies....Yumm!

Taken from Good Houskeeping's website
 
From Our Best Bites website
From Our Best Bites website

Usually, I make my cut out cookies from a simple sugar cookie recipe which I found works best and they're not overly sweet.  It's a very simple recipe and takes only a few minutes to make.  You'll need the following:

Simple Sugar Cookie Recipe

1 Cup Real Butter (unsalted)
1 Cup Sugar
1 Egg - large or xlarge
1 1/2 teaspoons flavoring (vanilla or almond are good)
3 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy- about 2 minutes. Add in eggs and extract and mix to incorporate.

In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt and whisk to combine. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture a little at time and mix until completely combined.  Don't forget to scrape sides and bottom of bowl from time to time.

Shape the dough into two flat circle shapes and wrap in waxed paper and place in the refrigerator to chill for an hour or so.  The dough needs to be really chilled for best results.

A idea is to roll the dough between 2 sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap and place flat in the refrigerator. It'll chill faster so you can get started sooner..

When you're ready to roll out dough lightly sprinkle flour onto your work surface and roll out dough with a rolling pin. Cut them out and place them onto cookie sheet.  If you want them on a stick make the dough a little thicker.  Make sure the stick goes half way up the back of the cookie for it to hold well.  Bake 350 degrees farenheit for about 10-12 minutes or until golden.  Depending on how you like them you may choose to lessen or increase the time by a few minutes.

The icing recipe that works best for quick decorating is this one from Wilton's website:
 

Royal Icing Recipe

This smooth, hard-drying icing is perfect for making decorations that last. It is also useful as a "cement" to fasten decorations together. Royal icing is edible, but not recommended for icing cakes.

Ingredients:
  • 3 tablespoons Meringue Powder
  • 4 cups (about 1 lb.) confectioners' sugar
  • 6 tablespoons warm water
Makes: About 3 cups of icing.

Instructions

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).
NOTE: Keep all utensils completely grease-free for proper icing consistency.
* For stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water.
**When using large countertop mixer or for stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water.
Thinned Royal Icing: To thin for pouring, add 1 teaspoon water per cup of royal icing. Use grease-free spoon or spatula to stir slowly. Add 1/2 teaspoon water at a time until you reach proper consistency.

MY NOTE:  This may make 3 cups and it sounds like a lot for royal icing but it isn't enough to cover but maybe 3 dozen cookies unless you thin it down to a consistency where it will pour but not too quickly.  You have to be careful not to thin it too much or it will run off the cookies and that will not give a nice appearance.
I personally don't like it as thick as the recipe but I like it just thick enough that it sets quick and doesn't run anywhere.  


ANOTHER NOTE: If you want to do designs through the cookie using a toothpick, You might consider having it slightly thinner otherwise you may have cracks where the toothpick goes through if the icing is starting to setup when you're making your design.

Separate it into bowls and color with paste food coloring for best results.  There's a new gel food coloring out now.  It can be found in the cake mix section of the grocery store.  It works pretty good as well.



STORAGE OF ICING:  I like to put my icing immediately into pastry bags.  I roll down the open end and tape it so it doesn't run out.  I don't snip the decorating end until I'm ready to start.  While I'm working I just fold the decorating end over so it doesn't run out when not in use.

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Once you have your cookies and icing made up you're ready to start decorating!  Let the FUN begin!  I enjoy doing these cookies so much now that I have an icing that I can work with!  You may want to start with a border trim to hold the filling in.



Here are my first attempts at making these delicious babies. 


 




I made this (below) for a friend of mine's son whose birthday falls near St. Patty's Day.  
I made the cookies on a stick, found an inexpensive basket a leprechaun hat 
and a spray to stick in the background, some hot glue and wallah! She loved it!


Here are some nicely decorated cookies that I found around the internet.  So beautiful and so much fun to make!








I can't wait to try this idea! (above) I love it!








Until next time.....Happy Baking!
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