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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Woodland Themed Cakes

Remember the 60th birthday cake I did for Danielle's mother in law? I got really feedback from Danielle and she even asked me to make cupcakes and a smash cake for her son's 1st birthday!

It's a lot less time consuming this time around since Danielle already got these super cute animal fondant toppers to put on top of the cake. The cupcakes consist of chocolate and vanilla cakes with chocolate  and vanilla American buttercream. I was thinking about making Swiss Meringue buttercream but thought the American buttercream might be more appropriate for a kid's party plus the frosting is easier to decorate with. The smash cake is in the shape of a tree stomp consist of vanilla cake with chocolate frosting. 

For the vanilla cake, I used the Flag Cake recipe from Ina Garten's, "Barefoot Contessa-Family Style" cookbook. It's not exactly a diet friendly cake consist of six eggs, sour cream, plenty of butter and sugar. The result is a wonderful tender butter cake great for cupcakes or use for stacked cakes. 

For the chocolate cake I just stick to my trusted Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" chocolate cake. For the frostings, I used Sweetapolita's vanilla American buttercream recipe. I used the same frosting recipe as the base for my chocolate frosting. Adding good quality melted dark chocolate to the vanilla frosting and adjusting the amount of milk to get to the right frosting consistency. 

Since I've been extremely busy with work this week, I didn't start baking until last night (6:30 PM). Took all night and I was finally done around 12:30 AM. Not bad for having to bake and decorate 48 cupcakes and a little stomp cake.

 Danielle picked up the cakes this morning and I hope they like the cakes since in the past she's only had my cakes frosted with Swiss Meringue buttercream. 

Used coconut flakes and sanding sugar to make it look
like snow. 

Super cute toppers! 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Beginning of Homemade Vanilla Extract

I bought these whole vanilla beans from Trader Joe's a while ago after I saw some posts on other food blogs regarding how easy it is to make your own vanilla extract. One of my favorite post is by No Recipes, using mini bottles.

 Since I have a little over a cup of vodka left, I finally decide to do it. It is super easy, all you need is a clean glass container (in my case, the vodka bottle), good quality alcohol (at least 35%) and vanilla beans.

I'm using vodka since I wanted a clean vanilla taste. You can also use spiced rum or bourbon. Most recipes I found call for at least 3 whole beans to 1 cup of vodka. Since I only have 2 beans, I will put more in the bottle once I buy more next week.

Homemade Vanilla extract

  • 3 whole vanilla beans 
  • 1 cup vodka
  • clean glass container with a tight lid (I just used the vodka bottle)
Split the beans lengthwise then cut in half. Place into the container with the vodka. Make sure the beans are completely submerged. Store in a dark, cool place for at least 2 months before use.

Below are info I found after look through countless recipes:

You can strain the extract with clean cheesecloth to get ride of the specks of vanilla seeds before use if you like. As you use up the vanilla extract, you can top the bottle off with more vodka. It is probably best to change out the vanilla beans every 6 months. You can air dry the used vanilla beans then stick them into sugar to make vanilla sugar. The vanilla extract should last for years if stored out of direct sun light. 

See you in 2 months! 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 Holiday Wrap Up

Happy New Year! Hello 2013!

Here are some additional pictures from Christmas.
Checkered cake.

Snow on Christmas! 

Made about 100 spring rolls.

For New Year's Eve this year, we went to Mohegan Sun Casino. In the past we've always gone to Mohegan Sun for New Year's Eve, except for 2010 and 2011 when we had parties at our house. We went with my cousin Angela, our great friends Lisa and Jerad. We also met up briefly with Jeff's cousins Matt, Lindsay and their significant others.

It was so packed in Mohegan that it was impossible to find an open slot machine or table. After the countdown, Jeff played a little black jack and won about $100. A good start to 2013!
Dinner at Tuscany.