Learning to bake fearlessly <3

Archive for March, 2012

DIY sugar heart candies


I’ve always been the sort of strange child who eats sugar plain and loves it. When I was tiny, my grandmother had to keep me out of the sugar dish because I would attack it with a spoon. So, now that I’m an adult, I buy sugar candies all the time because now I can eat them anytime I want. So when I found this recipe to make my own, I was super excited. Cause you know, blue hearts are kind of my thing. I intended to make them rainbow too, but…that’s a LOT of sugar. So next time I’ll halve my batches and make all six colors! You can make these as party favors or cake decorations, or just eat them plain like I am.

These are super easy to make, I finished in probably half an hour. And they’re yummy too! Be sure and save a few for a recipe I’ll be posting in a few days.

DIY Sugar Candies

Adapted from Wedding Chicks

Ingredients:
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp egg white
1/4 tsp room temp water
Paste or powder food coloring in whatever shade you like

Preheat your oven to 200 F. Combine your ingredients in a small bowl and mix well with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is evenly distributed and looks like wet sand. If it’s too dry, add a tiny bit more water or egg white, but don’t overwet or it’ll dissolve and be impossible to cut. Spread the sugar mixture out on a piece of parchment paper to 1/4 inch thickness and cut with a tiny cookie or fondant cutter; if it’s the right consistency, it’ll cling to the cutter. Hold it over a silpat or parchment paper-lined pan and tap gently to release it.

Bake for 10 minutes (long enough to cook them slightly, not long enough that the sugar melts) and let cool before eating or packaging.

If you’re making more than one color, save the cutout leftovers and mix them on another parchment paper for a tie-dyed marbled look!

Strawberry and nutella mini cheesecakes


You know that adage, never go shopping when you’re hungry? Yeah, listen to that. Last week, I rolled out of bed and went grocery shopping without breakfast, and…well, I came home with some interesting items. One of those was a box of store-brand Nilla Wafers. Which I do love when I’m in the mood for them, but I just wasn’t feeling it this week. So, they became something even more delicious! I sat down and thought about it, and realized they would make an amazing cheesecake crust. And everyone loves cheesecake, right? (Lie to me if you must.)

Know what else everyone loves? Nutella. And strawberries, which are in season right now and looking luscious. So this recipe was begging to be made. The only trouble I’m having is not eating them all before my family gets home!

Strawberry and nutella mini cheesecakes

Adapted from Annie’s Eats

Ingredients:
For the crust:
3/4 cup nilla wafer crumbs
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 tbsp sugar

For the filling:
1 pound (16 oz, or two packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature

For the topping:
Four or five large strawberries
1 tbsp sugar
About a cup of nutella

Makes approximately 17 mini-cheesecakes

Preheat the oven to 325 F and line your cupcake pan with cute liners. Take your nilla wafer crumbs (I used a food processor to pulverize them), and mix them with your sugar and melted butter until the mixture is moist and crumbly. Then take about a tablespoonful and press it into the bottom of each liner, pressing it down hard. I used a small cup to help. Bake these for about five minutes, until solid.

While these are cooling, make your cheesecake filling. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the cream cheese on medium-high until fluffy. Add the sugar and mix well. Then add the vanilla and the tiniest pinch of salt and mix until incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing in between. The filling should now be about pudding consistency and easily spoonable.

Let that hang out in the mixing bowl while you make the topping. It’s simple–chop the strawberries, add them to a food processor with the sugar, and puree. The resultant mixture will be thin, but that’s all right. Spoon the strawberry puree and nutella on top of the cheesecake batter in any configuration you like (half and half, or both on all, or some of each!), and swirl with a knife or toothpick to get a pretty wave. Bake for 22 minutes, until firm, then refrigerate for four hours before serving.

Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes


I am a very bad sister.

When I started this blog, I brainstormed a whole bunch of recipes to try, and when I got to “raspberry lemonade cupcakes,” my little sister, Kessie, was like “DO THAT ONE NEXT.” Actually, I think I only got as far as “raspberry le–“. Girl likes her raspberries.

See, she’s not my sister like we grew up together and made faces at each other in church and fought over the backseat on long car rides. Nah, she’s my sister in the sense that a long time ago, like two or three years now, we met online and got to know each other and decided we’re going to be friends for life, and we and a couple of other friends, all of us from different states, talk every day. So, that’s another thing that makes me a very bad sister–she’s going to have to come to Virginia to get one of these.

I also, however, am a very good sister. My one biological sister (was there right after she was born, bought her her first teddy bear, had a few very fierce and bitter years where her favorite thing to do was run into my room and steal my pokemon toys) looooves lemon things. The girl will save the lemon from her water in restaurants to suck on after the meal–no sugar needed. I don’t know how she does it.

Did you know that they sometimes call cupcakes “fairy cakes” in England? So unfair. Can we steal that? I’m sure going to!

One final note: I made these using two different recipes I married. One of them calls for a box of yellow cake mix. I subbed in a scratch yellow cake batter. If you want to use mix, I totally won’t judge you. This is a no-judging-for-using-mixes space. I just like baking from scratch because I’ve got the time, and it’s really cool seeing something I made come together into food like that!

Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes Fairy Cakes

Adapted from Sweetapolita and Bake at 350

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1¾ cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1¼ cups milk
1 4.3 oz box of lemon pudding mix
3 tbsp of lemonade concentrate, thawed

Makes about 2 dozen cupcakes

To start, preheat the oven to 350 F, and line your cupcake pan with cute liners. Cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of a mixer, on medium-high speed. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.

When the butter/sugar mixture is combined and fluffy, add the eggs in one at a time, then the vanilla. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk, mixing until just combined. Add the pudding mix and lemonade concentrate and mix it up a bit more.

Scoop the batter into the cupcake liners and bake 15-17 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean.

Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Ingredients
9 large egg whites
2 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar
6 sticks (2 pounds) unsalted butter, not cold, cut into cubes
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups seedless raspberry jelly/jam

I heard about swiss meringue buttercream probably a year before I actually tried it. It seemed so intimidating—a hundred different things seemed like it could go wrong! But I’m here to tell you that it’s actually really really simple, and I’ve made it twice this week simply because I can. And oh my gosh, is it delicious. I licked every implement used to make this completely clean before washing—I couldn’t bear to let any of it go to waste. And don’t stop at just raspberry. You can make it any flavor you like! Because SMB isn’t sweet-sweet, any flavor will shine.

I always cube and set out my butter on a plate first thing, and let it warm up while I work on the rest. Wipe out your mixer bowl and mixer attachments VERY well, making sure there’s no trace of grease. The first thing you’re going to do is make a meringue, and any grease could cause it to fail. Heat a large pot with an inch or so of water on the stove until it’s just simmering—we don’t want to cook our egg whites. Add the egg whites and sugar to your mixer bowl and whisk constantly until the sugar is melted and the egg whites are warm. I’ll level with you: the first time I made this, I intended to run the sugar through the food processor beforehand, making it superfine, but it melts just perfectly without it, so I don’t bother.

Stick your bowl on your mixer with whisk attachment and whip the egg/sugar mixture on medium-low (say 3 on a Kitchenaid) for a couple minutes, then switch to medium-high (say 7 or so on a Kitchenaid) until they’re white and fluffy, and the bowl is neutral to the touch. For me, it takes around 7-8 minutes. Voila! You made meringue. But it’s going to get even better still.

When the bowl feels room-temperature, switch to the paddle attachment on low speed and add your cubed butter one or two cubes at a time. This is the tricky part, and where it looks like everything’s gone wrong. At this stage, it is totally okay if your buttercream looks grainy, more like scrambled eggs. Trust me! Just keep whipping it, scraping the paddle clean if need be. Eventually, it will turn into creamy, smooth loveliness. Taste a little of it now—isn’t it just knee-weakeningly good? But it’s going to get even better!

Add your jam/jelly, vanilla, and salt, and whip it a bit longer, until they’re evenly incorporated. And don’t be afraid to play with different flavors or proportions. Pipe onto cupcakes, but make sure you have a little left over to eat with a spoon! ;D

Note: I know I have a HUGE mound of frosting on there like usual, but for this recipe, less is more so you don’t overpower the lemon. Also, these cakes didn’t bake up as nicely as I liked, so next time I’m going to fill the wells more (close to the top, probably, they really didn’t rise all that much).

Cup(cakes) of Scorn


I’m not generally a horror-movie girl, but about three years ago, I fell in love with a movie called REPO! The Genetic Opera. It’s a rock opera set in a dystopian future where organ repossessions are legal and surgery, a fashion statement, and it follows the ascent of a young girl into adulthood over the course of a single tumultuous day. It’s an amazing movie, and if you have a stomach for a little gore, I would definitely suggest checking it out, but through it, I found a much greater treasure–some of the best friends I’ve ever, ever had. That’s what’s kept me into it.

And a few months ago, we added a new bunch of friends to our chat group–you see, the guys who made Repo have nearly finished work on a new creation, The Devil’s Carnival!

It’ll be airing as a road tour next month, and I’m super excited. So this recipe is my nod to one of the characters: the Painted Doll, played by the lovely Emilie Autumn!

“Cup of scorn” is a phrase that’s been tossed around the fandom, so I asked myself, what would scorn taste like? Sweet and enticing, but dark and deep, with a bit of spice and a wicked bite. And this is what I came up with: sweet, dark molasses and bittersweet chocolate, seductively smooth and silky nutella, cinnamon’s sweet spice, the burn and bite of good bourbon, and a bit of hellfire in the form of cayenne pepper. I garnished with a half-heart slice of apple, a nod to the Doll’s character. And the verdict? Sooooo good. Dad kept sneaking to the mixing bowl for a bit of frosting. I’d say that’s a winner!

Dark chocolate molasses cake
Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 of a 4.3 oz box chocolate pudding mix
1 egg
1/2 cup black coffee
1/2 cup milk, room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon molasses
Small amount of bourbon (to brush)

Makes roughly a dozen cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 350 F, and line your cupcake pan. Whisk together the dry ingredients in the bowl of a mixer. Add the wet ingredients and mix on lowest setting with the paddle attachment until just combined, then at medium speed (around 6 on a Kitchenaid mixer) for two minutes. The batter will be thin, that’s fine. Fill your baking cups about ¾ full and bake 15-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center cupcake comes out clean. Allow to cool, then brush with bourbon.

Nutella cinnamon swiss meringue buttercream
Ingredients
9 large egg whites
2 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar
6 sticks (2 pounds) unsalted butter, not cold, cut into cubes
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup nutella
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Cayenne pepper (for sprinkling)

Makes enough frosting for 2 dozen cupcakes

I always cube and set out my butter on a plate first thing, and let it warm up while I work on the rest. Wipe out your mixer bowl and mixer attachments VERY well, making sure there’s no trace of grease. The first thing you’re going to do is make a meringue, and any grease could cause it to fail. Heat a large pot with an inch or so of water on the stove until it’s just simmering—we don’t want to cook our egg whites. Add the egg whites and sugar to your mixer bowl and whisk constantly until the sugar is melted and the egg whites are warm.

Stick your bowl on your mixer with whisk attachment and whip the egg/sugar mixture on medium-low (say 3 on a Kitchenaid) for a couple minutes, then switch to medium-high (say 7 or so on a Kitchenaid) until they’re white and fluffy, and the bowl is neutral to the touch. For me, it takes around 7-8 minutes. Voila! You made meringue. But it’s going to get even better still.
When the bowl feels room-temperature, switch to the paddle attachment on low speed and add your cubed butter one or two cubes at a time. This is the tricky part, and where it looks like everything’s gone wrong. At this stage, it is totally okay if your buttercream looks grainy, more like scrambled eggs. Trust me! Just keep whipping it, scraping the paddle clean if need be. Eventually, it will turn into creamy, smooth loveliness. Taste a little of it now—isn’t it just knee-weakeningly good? But it’s going to get even better!

Add vanilla, nutella, cinnamon, and salt, and whip it a bit longer, until they’re evenly incorporated. And don’t be afraid to play with different flavors or proportions. Pipe onto cupcakes, but make sure you have a little left over to eat with a spoon! ;D Sprinkle with cayenne, to taste.

Dark chocolate cupcakes with raspberry swiss meringue buttercream


OMG, it has been such a cupcake week, and especially a buttercream week. So far, I’ve used up nine sticks of butter and more eggs than I’d like to admit–I kept breaking the fragile little sillies, as clumsy as I am. But my family’s more than happy to serve as taste testers, especially after tasting the gorgeous, silky swiss meringue buttercream. I honestly think I’d be happy never making another kind of frosting my whole life, it’s luscious enough to go on everything!

This recipe is the one that made me confident enough to start this blog. If I can handle meringue, I can do anything!

Yummm <3

Both recipes in this post were adapted from Sweetapolita.

Dark chocolate cupcakes
Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup dutch-process cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 4.3 oz box chocolate pudding mix
2 eggs
1 cup black coffee
1 cup milk, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Makes roughly 2 dozen cupcakes

These are probably the perfect cupcakes. Bar none. They’re moist, fluffy, and soooo chocolatey it hurts. They disappeared in three days, and that’s saying something for my health-loving family. Definitely not to be eaten standing up!

Preheat the oven to 350 F, and line your cupcake pan. Whisk together the dry ingredients in the bowl of a mixer. Add the wet ingredients and mix on lowest setting with the paddle attachment until just combined, then at medium speed (around 6 on a Kitchenaid mixer) for two minutes. The batter will be thin, that’s fine. Fill your baking cups about ¾ full and bake 15-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center cupcake comes out clean.

Black raspberry swiss meringue buttercream
Ingredients
9 large egg whites
2 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar
6 sticks (2 pounds) unsalted butter, not cold, cut into cubes
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
Two large spoonfuls black raspberry jelly/jam

I heard about swiss meringue buttercream probably a year before I actually tried it. It seemed so intimidating—a hundred different things seemed like it could go wrong! But I’m here to tell you that it’s actually really really simple, and I’ve made it twice this week simply because I can. And oh my gosh, is it delicious. I licked every implement used to make this completely clean before washing—I couldn’t bear to let any of it go to waste. And don’t stop at just raspberry. You can make it any flavor you like! Because SMB isn’t sweet-sweet, any flavor will shine.

I always cube and set out my butter on a plate first thing, and let it warm up while I work on the rest. Wipe out your mixer bowl and mixer attachments VERY well, making sure there’s no trace of grease. The first thing you’re going to do is make a meringue, and any grease could cause it to fail. Heat a large pot with an inch or so of water on the stove until it’s just simmering—we don’t want to cook our egg whites. Add the egg whites and sugar to your mixer bowl and whisk constantly until the sugar is melted and the egg whites are warm. I’ll level with you: the first time I made this, I intended to run the sugar through the food processor beforehand, making it superfine, but it melts just perfectly without it, so I don’t bother.

Stick your bowl on your mixer with whisk attachment and whip the egg/sugar mixture on medium-low (say 3 on a Kitchenaid) for a couple minutes, then switch to medium-high (say 7 or so on a Kitchenaid) until they’re white and fluffy, and the bowl is neutral to the touch. For me, it takes around 7-8 minutes. Voila! You made meringue. But it’s going to get even better still.

When the bowl feels room-temperature, switch to the paddle attachment on low speed and add your cubed butter one or two cubes at a time. This is the tricky part, and where it looks like everything’s gone wrong. At this stage, it is totally okay if your buttercream looks grainy, more like scrambled eggs. Trust me! Just keep whipping it, scraping the paddle clean if need be. Eventually, it will turn into creamy, smooth loveliness. Taste a little of it now—isn’t it just knee-weakeningly good? But it’s going to get even better!

Add your jam/jelly, vanilla, and salt, and whip it a bit longer, until they’re evenly incorporated. And don’t be afraid to play with different flavors or proportions. Pipe onto cupcakes, but make sure you have a little left over to eat with a spoon! ;D

Greetings!


I see you’ve stumbled upon my humble baking blog! It’s lovely to meet you. <3 My name’s Shiro. I’m 20 years old and an amateur baker, just starting to understand how things work. I’m a little new at this, so you’ll have to bear with me, but I promise with all my heart, I will post nothing but my best.

A little bit about me: I am in loooove with cupcakes and cake pops, and lean a little on the nerdy and literary side. Glitter and hearts are my favorite things in the whole wide world, and blue foods come in a close second, so you’ll want to stock up on blue gel dye while reading. Chocolate, raspberry, and caramel are my personal favorite flavors, but I’m always on the lookout for something my friends or family will enjoy. So you’ll be seeing a ton of different things! And I’m going to bet I’ll be as surprised as you are by some of it.

Some of my favorite bloggers to read:

Annie’s Eats, who makes the yummiest-looking things, both sweet and savory!
Bakerella, she of the original cake pop!
Confessions of a Cookbook Queen, her descriptions always make me smile. A lady after my own heart!
The Decorated Cookie, home of some of the cutest sweets-on-sticks I’ve ever seen!
Bake at 350, who’s made me resolve, right now, to try royal icing cookies sometime this week. Her creations are just tooooo adorable!

Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy!