Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Witch Hat Cupcakes

Happy (almost) Halloween!  While many bloggers have been featuring spooky recipes all month long, I went the Fall route with apples and pumpkins.  But don't you worry, I have something festive to share with you!

First, to get in the spirit of the holiday, the hubs and I carved pumpkins with our friends on Saturday night.  

Evidently, the hubs has an artistic side that only comes out around Halloween and pumpkin carving.  He always "freehands" his pumpkins and they turn out the best.  So jealous.

Last year:

His is the dog on the very right. No stencil. Nothing.

This year:

His is the TX Longhorn.  And mine....the cupcake, obviously. But hey, I freehanded mine this year, too.  Just not as impressive as a longhorn. Whatever. 

Now onto the rest of the festivities!  After I brought those Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes to work last week, one of my co-workers approached me and asked if I'd be interested in making cupcakes for her to take to her daughter's soccer team celebrating her 9th birthday.  Give me an opportunity to bake and I'll take it.  Especially when she said it could be something Halloween-y.  

After doing a little research, I found an idea for Glamourous Witch Cupcakes by Confessions of a Cookbook Queen.  Thought these were too fun so decided to give them a try.


Pretty darn cute.

I went with a chocolate cake base with purple liner.  Electric green buttercream icing with purple sparkle dust on top.  I bought "Chocolate Melts" from the grocery store to dip cookies and sugar cones in.  Then a fondant rim.  

I was looking for a very flat cookie to use as the brim of the hat and ended up going with Keebler Fudge Striped Cookies and dipped the vanilla side in chocolate.  

At first, I tried the little pearl candies on the brim, but they just didn't do it for me.  That's when I took them all off and decided to go with my new favorite...fondant.  

My co-worker sent me a picture of how she packaged up the cupcakes to give out at the game and thought it was too cute not to share and such a good idea.

So if you have a Halloween party this weekend and need something festive to ya go!

Happy Halloween from the both of us!

Festive Witch Cupcakes (adapted from CCQ)

1 dozen cupcakes, flavor of choice (Need an easy recipe? Try this one!)
1 batch buttercream icing
1 dozen sugar cones (may want extra in case you crack some)
1 dozen flat-shaped cookies
edible sparkle dust, purple or green (optional)
chocolate melts, dark or milk
purple and yellow fondant

1.  Bake cupcakes according to directions and allow to completely cool.  
2.  Using a serrated, cut about 1" off the top of the sugar cones. (Most difficult part!)
3.  Microwave chocolate melts.  Dip sugar cones and cookies in chocolate and allow to cool and harden on wax paper.
4.  Cut out fondant strips and piece together for rim.  Strip of purple, square of yellow, very small square of purple.
5.  Once cones have hardened, dip the circular end of the cones in the chocolate and place on top of chocolate cookie.  Allow to harden.
6.  Wrap fondant rim around chocolate cone and using a dab of water, secure in place.
7.  Frost cupcakes with open star tip.  Dust with sparkle powder.  Place hat securely on top. 

Buttercream Icing

2 sticks of butter, softened
2 tbsp milk or heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar

Blend together butter, milk/cream, and vanilla until smooth.  On low speed, add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until fully combined.  If frosting looks too thick for piping, add 1 tbsp milk at time until reaches desired consistency.  Increase to medium speed and beat frosting until light and airy.  Add food coloring at this point.  Frost cupcakes.  

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

 Want to know a secret? I don't like pumpkin pie.  Never have, possibly never will.  Hate the texture, dislike the flavor, just. don't. like. it.  Sounds kind of like a treasonous statement, doesn't it?

Funny thing is....I like everything else to do with pumpkin.  Pumpkin muffins. Pumpkin bread. Pumpkin cookies. Pumpkin beer. Pumpkin pasta.  Pumpkin oatmeal.  And most of all, pumpkin cupcakes.

Like I said before, I refuse to buy and use pumpkin until at least October each year, then set it back up on the shelf around February.  It's reserved for a special time of year.  But I'm happy to tell you, it's that time of year!

 So may I present to you......
Pumpkin Cupcakes!

Warning: these are dangerous.  Usually when I bake, I can try a cupcake/cookie/blondie then for the most part be done with it and ready to give it away.  But these...I wanted to keep all of them for myself.  They were that delicious.  The cake was fluffy and moist and paired perfectly with my favorite icing. Dare I say, my new favorite cupcake. 

Thank goodness for a groggy head early yesterday morning when I thought, "how great would it be to take these to work for everyone to enjoy!"  Whelp. Regretted that decision when clear headed self came home last night to no cupcakes.  Kidding...kind of.  

These cupcakes received rave reviews at work and by my professional taste tester.  I just tweaked my carrot cake recipe a bit and voila!  Make these. You won't be sorry.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Caramel Apple Spice Cupcakes

I love the holidays.  More specifically I love December and Christmas and cold weather.  But, I also love October because it usually brings cooler temperatures, pumpkin patches, Autumn decorations, Starbucks specialty drinks (Pumpkin Spice and Gingerbread Latte, anyone?), "Fall Back" time change, and most importantly, it's only 2 months away from December.  

I also love Fall baking and I've been waiting all year to be able to whip out the cans of pumpkin.  Something just doesn't seem right about using pumpkin during the spring and summer.  Oddly enough though, this recipe has nothing to do with canned pumpkin.  But it is along the same line of thought....Fall.  

Browsing some blogs, I saw a recipe for Caramel Apple Spice Cupcakes at YourCupOfCake.  They looked delicious and I loved the idea of pie filling in a cupcake.  I just "spiced"  it up a little by changing the flavor of the cake mix and chopped the pie filling up more.....and made the icing a little different.

Result:  Icing=I could eat it with only spoon and no cake good.  Cake= more like a muffin, a little dense, but tasty.

The cake batter was pretty thick, but I was okay with that since I've glorified mixes before and the cake still turned out moist and wonderful.  I just don't think there was quite enough liquid though to make these more cakey.  Next time, I think I would still add the water that the box mix calls for in their directions, but cut the oil.   I would assume using the apple pie filling is similar to using apple sauce as a replacement for oil in recipes...right mom? 

Bring on the holidays. Dense cake and all.  

Caramel Apple Spice Cupcakes 
(printable recipe)


1 box Spice Cake mix
1 can apple pie filling
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place cupcake liners in cupcake tin. Place apple pie filling into food processor and pulse until filling is "chunky" and there are no more large slices of apple.  Mix together cake mix, eggs, and pie filling until combined. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 14-18 minutes.  Let cool.


1 (8oz) package cream cheese
2 sticks butter (1 cup)
6-8 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup caramel

Beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth.  Add caramel and mix.  Add in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until you reach desired consistency.  Frost cool cupcakes.  Drizzle frosted cupcakes with caramel sauce.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Angry Birds Cake

I've been a busy bee...and I love it.  Now that I've successfully completed one complicated cake (aka a wedding cake), all I want to do is decorate cakes.  Truth be told, I did not make this actual sheet cake.  That is compliments of Costco.  I did however make all of the Angry Birds decorations!  

Last week,  a few of my co-workers asked me if I'd be willing to make decorations for an "Angry Birds" birthday cake.  I'm not one to say no, especially when it comes to a challenge.  Before I actually said "yes", I looked up a few pictures online to see what I could come up with.  Then I sketched out my idea, presented it to them, and voila-I was hired!  They assured me I didn't have to make the actual cake part, which is a good thing because it was only three days ago that I made the wedding cake and wasn't quite ready to do it again.

I made everything out of fondant except for the logs/bricks which are tootsie rolls.  I had some leftover pre-made green fondant from the succulents that I used for the grass and the little green guys.  Then I started with basic white fondant and added Wilton gel food coloring to make the other colors.  

Not going to lie, the eyes and eyebrows on each of the birds and green creatures (what are they? pigs?!) were the most difficult part of this whole thing.  It took many attempts to get them to stick to the body rather than my fingers, but perseverance is key!

Now that I'm on a fondant kick, I've already got pictures and ideas for upcoming October birthdays....get ready. 

Succulent Wedding Cake

I love sugar, that's no surprise. And it's a good thing because this past Thursday, I had icing all over my arms, in my hair, down my shirt, and the stickiest hands ever.  Sounds like a normal day, right?  Well, maybe if I were in the business of making cakes, it would be. And that, my friends, is the goal.

8 dozen assorted flavors of cupcakes and one 8 inch top tier were made for the long awaited wedding of Lucy and Willy last Friday night. Sneak peak:  

Four dozen chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream frosting, two dozen carrot cake cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, and two dozen lemon cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting and one top tier of chocolate cake with strawberry filling and cream cheese frosting.  Whew, I did it. 

Not to mention, I spent hours making, molding, and shading a dozen fondant succulents. My inspiration for these succulents came from here and here.  

Sadly, I neglected to take any up close pictures of my succulents after I had shaded them, but I'm hoping the photographer snapped some good shots that I'll post later.

A brief run through, I bought the Wilton Gum Paste Flower Kit and an cala lily kit cutters to make the succulents.  I basically just looked at a few pictures and went from there.

Camera phone apologies.

My mother was a great help in making these and even let me do all of my baking and decorating at her house...she has double ovens.  For the win.

I made these succulents about a month ago because I wanted them to harden and keep their shape.  I placed a few of the larger ones in cupcake tins so they would maintain their shape and the big daddy in the first picture in a bowl for its shape.  Then I bought a dark purple, light purple, dark green, and moss green dusting powder for the shading.  I'm no professional, but when it was all said and done, I thought they looked pretty darn real...and cute.

Lucy and Willy built the cake tower themselves and added the teal ribbon.  I added the purple ribbon to their top tier.

Like I said before, I hope the professional photographer took some good pictures for me to show you later.

Overall this was an amazing experience.  My FIRST wedding.  My FIRST (detailed) fondant use. And my FIRST time to make that many cupcakes in one day.  And frost them all.  And panic when I had to transport everything.  I felt like I was on one of those shows when you finish everything then you have to transport it and every little bitty bump in the road feels like it could knock all the cupcakes over and result in disaster.  Thank goodness for my sister's mommy-van (aka the Mamba).  It packs a smooth ride.

Many thanks to my wonderful mother for all of her help throughout this whole process.  Little does she know she's signed on as my partner in crime for my bakery business.  Hehe.  AND thank you to my younger sister, Meredith, for her sweet cupcake baking skills that she contributed and my older sister, Brandy, for stellar cupcake placement on the tower and the smooth ride.

I yoinked this picture from Lucy's facebook page. I did not take it.  But congratulations, Lucy and Willy, and thank you for trusting me to make your cake!