Saturday, April 30, 2011

Easter Cake Pops

I've baked a lot of cakes and cupcakes, but I hadn't yet tackled cake pops. They are all the craze and now every Starbucks offers them in three flavors. I'm an avid follower of the Bakerella blog (I know, I wish I'd claimed that name first) and recently bought her Cake Pop book.  For my first try, I made these Easter cake pops and have to say that they tasted fantastic.

It does take some time, but they are really quite easy to make. You basically crumble up a cake and add the appropriate amount of buttercream frosting to make what seems like a cookie dough texture to form into the cake pop shape of your choice.  I chose eggs. Add a stick and it's a pop!

I made some oval ones to attempt decorating like eggs and some round ones because, well, that was an easier shape to do.  It took me a few times, but I started to get the hang of how to dip them in the chocolate coating. I definitely wasn't freezing or chilling them in between dipping in the chocolate and that certainly would have helped.

I think it was a fantastic idea for how to decorate the "eggs."  You used a small brush with corn syrup to put on the frosted egg and add your sugar or sprinkles.

This was way too many cake pops to have at home, so I placed them in a little Easter basket to deliver to the office.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Cinnamon Chip Scones

It was a chilly Sunday morning.  We were getting ready to head to the White House Spring Garden Tour and had a relaxing morning at home baking scones, watching some cartoons and taking our dog for a walk.  I knew they smelled good, but when we came back after our walk, the smell of warm cinnamon was amazing.

I usually like making the traditional English scones that are filled with raisins and cut out with a biscuit cutter. Usually these huge triangle scones in the bakeries and cafes all seem to be dry and covered in huge chunks of sugar. I tried this recipe to take some scones into the office a few weeks ago though and loved it. They were not all crumbly and dry and while best warm from the oven, they were pretty good after they cooled as well.

So, I made a cup of tea, poured a glass of milk for little A and we enjoyed our lovely Sunday morning with a nice warm cinnamon scone.  It makes quite a big batch, so we just baked a few and froze the rest of the dough for when we have family visit.

It was quite difficult to find mini cinnamon chips anywhere, even in metro DC.  So, I actually ordered some mini cinnamon chips from King Arthur.  I know, I'm the baking dork that actually special orders baking supplies!  They taste quite strange on their own, but much better melted inside sugary dough!

I did see the regular sized Hershey cinnamon chips a few places, but I think the larger chips are too much.  The mini ones are perfect for these, especially if you want to make the smaller scones.

Instead of using the Kitchen aid, I like to use my old fashioned pastry cutter to blend in the butter.

While I like the scalloped edge biscuit style scones, this is nice as you have no wasted dough and you can just roll it out once and cut them out of a little round.  I made the round about 6-7 inches and then cut it in wedges.

I originally cut it into eight pieces, but then started cutting them in half as they are so big.

YUM. Fresh from the oven and ready for the taking.

With these melted cinnamon chips, you don't need butter, jam or anything on these. They're perfect just as they are.

Recipe for Cinnamon Chip Scones
Makes 8 large or 16 small scones

3 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. fresh ground nutmeg
3/4 cups unsalted butter (chilled)
1 cup buttermilk
1 t. vanilla
3/4 cup mini cinnamon chips

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In large bowl combine the dry ingredients. Cut in butter until it forms coarse crumbs. Stir in buttermilk and vanilla. Fold in cinnamon chips. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently.
Put in one large 7 inch circle and cut 8 wedges (or cut each in 1/2 to make 16) or divide dough in half and pat into two 7 inch round circles. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 425 for 13-15 minutes, turning halfway through.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pudding Filled Cupcakes

I made these cupcakes a while ago and just didn't think they were quite worthy of blogging about.  Not that anything I make is a pastry masterpiece, but some turn out better than others.  These tasted really good (or so the kids told us), but I wasn't as happy with the ganache topping or the writing I attempted to do on them.  They are my modern take on the Hostess cupcake.  I haven't made many filled cupcakes, so I thought I'd try.  I wanted to take some treats in for little A's last day at her cousin's school.  My original thought was to do writing on the top saying "Bye" and "Farewell" and so on. But, the white chocolate writing pen I had didn't work out as easily as I'd though.  So, we ended up with some messy squigglies resembling the Hostess cupcakes of our childhood.

They were yummy chocolate cupcakes made from Martha Stewart's one bowl chocolate cupcake recipe.

With some of them, we hollowed out the center with this special cupcake gutting tool.  The others, we simply injected them with the pudding filling.  I used an instant vanilla pudding mixture for something more moist vs. using buttercream.

Instead of frosting the cupcakes, the glaze looked so nice and good for writing on (had it worked out better), but I didn't follow the instructions thoroughly and used less heavy cream since it looked too thin.  I think it would have been even more smooth and easy to glaze if I'd used the correct amount. They still looked alright and most importantly they tasted good still.

So chocolaty and shiny!

The centers had a nice amount of pudding in them!

Here is my attempt at the Hostess squigglies.  Not too bad, but not the beautiful cursive white chocolate messages that I had imagined.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Cherry Blossom Cupcakes

I hadn't made any fun cupcakes in a while and was inspired by the cherry blossoms here in DC. It was wonderful and they were just as gorgeous as everyone says they are. So, here is my fun springtime take on a cherry blossom cupcake. 

I was going to make a cherry almond cake, but didn't want flavor overkill, so I just went with a vanilla cake. I had all kinds of fun flower and cherry papers that I had gotten in England last year so it was fun to have something to use those for.

I also decided to make two different sizes...little mini ones and standard size cupcakes. 

The frosting?  Real buttercream, of course and I made my usual vanilla buttercream with a cherry twist.  I used a few tablespoons of diced maraschino cherries and just one drop of Americolor soft pink gel food coloring. 

The maraschino cherries I found at Whole Foods are SO good.  They are organic ones that have no added color. It was nice to find some that aren't bright neon red and taste like they've been soaking in syrup. These actually seemed like fresh cherries with the stems still on and were already pitted (they were also $7 a jar).

I love how the frosting has little specks of red cherry in it.

I used already prepared marzipan (I know, slacker right?) for the little flowers on top. I have always made my own marzipan, but tried this one that I found at the store and it tastes amazing (and is much easier, of course).  I colored it pink with the same soft pink food coloring and used little candy pearls to press into the center of each marzipan flower.  My little marzipan cherry blossoms!

My little A tested a mini one for her snack this evening and loved it.  The rest are already packed to take to my fellow Washingtonians to enjoy at the office tomorrow.