Wednesday, February 26, 2014

It's a boy!!!

I have been wanting to do a gender reveal cake forever!!!  I finally got the chance this week.  A previous co-worker found out that she was expecting, and decided to get a cake for the office to let everyone know what she was having.  The only bad thing was that I was pestered like crazy after everyone knew that I had been let in on the secret!!!  What is normally a two day cake making/decorating process had to be cut into one just so I could stop the stream of text messages coming in about it!  (However maybe if I had held out there would of been some monetary bribes?!)

Congratulations Sophie!! 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Cookie Base #1

I love finding and creating base recipes.  Maybe it's a bit of laziness, but I do partly think of it as my sneaky little make one big batch of cookie dough and see how many different cookies I can make out of it without anyone realizing.  "Wow, made ALL THESE in just a few hours?!"  Work smarter, not harder right? 

Years ago I came across this recipe for chocolate chip cookies.  Award Winning Chocolate Chip Cookies  As you can see from the reviews, it's a fantastic recipe.  However, I always have had a difficult time keeping the cookies from sticking together when plated or trayed. They really are great cookies, but just too soft.  I've tweaked it many times, and finally today I think I might of perfected it.  The best part of this's an AMAZING base.  There are so many ways you can change this recipe up, from simply changing out the chips to something else (like I did today) to using different pudding mix combinations.  I've even left the chips out altogether and made them into sugar cookies (and sugar cookie bars with frosting.)

Cookie Base #1

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup bread flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 (3.4 oz) pkg instant vanilla pudding mix
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In mixing bowl, mix together melted butter, brown sugar, white sugar, pudding mix, and vanilla. (If butter doesn't look like it's fully mixing together with the sugar, don't will be fine once the flour is added.) Blend in both flours and baking soda until mixed together. ** Add eggs until completely incorporated. At this time, stir in your "extras " (chocolate chips, nuts, dried fruit, etc etc.) 

**Note:  Normally eggs ARE added before flour.  In this case, however, I'm adding them at the end to give the dough time to cool down in case the melted butter was pretty hot.  (Most people don't like scrambled eggs in their cookies!!  ;) ) 

Your yield is really going to depend on how much you add of your "extras" and what size scoop you use. You can see from my picture of the raw dough balls that I used a pretty big scoop.  With this batch, I ended up with about 16 of those large size cookies. 

I didn't have any chocolate chips, so I raided the cupboards and found an unopened bag of mini peanut butter cups that I had hidden away.  After my cookie base was together, I mixed in about 3/4 of the bag of the peanut butter cups (with the mixer) so that some had been chopped up and blended into the dough.
   I thought they looked awfully plain, so I dipped them in some melted milk chocolate and chopped up the remaining peanut butter cups to sprinkle on. I tend to like to stripe cookies, so I finished them off with a dark chocolate drizzle.

  I think Thing #1 approves...

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Happy Birthday To Me....

Today is my 34th birthday.  Or the 5th anniversary of my 29th birthday, as I prefer to say.  On the way home from lunch out today, Adam, the girls and I got on the subject of past birthdays and started reminiscing.  My 30th birthday party came up in the conversation, and all the sudden it hit me at how much has happened in just 4 short years.  On one hand it seems like time has flown by, yet on the other it's truly unreal at how much changed.  How much my girls have grown.  How much I've grown and changed as a person. Four years ago I don't think I would of guessed that we'd no longer be living in NY.  I asked the girls where they thought we'd be in four more years, and surprisingly neither of them thought we'd still be in NC.  Maybe they do have my gypsy spirit after all. 

The past two weeks alone have been a time of true reflection.  The last time I posted was two years ago.  Lord, where has that two years alone gone??  Frosting, Inc so far has not progressed to a store front.  I did, however, go the creative route...I rented a one bedroom apartment just for business use, and had it inspected as a commercial bakery.  At the end of my lease, I had a great customer base, but still not enough to financially be able to get my store front.  And then the apartment complex raised my rent, and I was forced to close up shop.  About that same time an opportunity for a full time corporate position came along, so I shelved baking and went back to banking.  Until two weeks ago.  Have you ever had one of those moments when something just snaps in your brain and it's just an automatic "I'm done."  I couldn't do it anymore.  A year of being miserable.  A year of having to put my kids second.  A year of "you will go where we schedule you, when we schedule you."  I was done.  And then came the "Ahhh, crap.  Now what?!"  Still no money to open my store front.  Definitely can't go back to a corporate mentality.  And like I said, it's my they say, I "ain't" getting "no" younger!

So, I'm blogging.  Who knows, maybe I can turn it into a little paying side gig.  Can't hurt to try?  Someone must be reading because I have to say, I can't believe how many views I've had on this cake. 
It's kind of funny actually, because I felt so bad making it for Adam; it's probably the easiest cake I've made. I guess it must look pretty cool because I see it all over Pinterest. I don't know who came up with the original idea (I found it on Cake Central.) I will say though, that the recipe I gave back in the original link, I haven't used that in years. Look in some upcoming posts for a new white cake recipe that is REALLY good. 

Earlier this week I was looking back through old pictures and came across cakes that I had made when I first started decorating.  It really was kind of a wow moment, to see how far I've come because I've kept at it.  It really was a little bit of inspiration for me in a time where I feel a little lost...keep at it even when it stinks, eventually you're going to get somewhere!

These two cakes are from very early in my career... 


And two of my most favorite cakes...

I'm really looking forward to seeing what this year has in store for me, Paige's Pantry, and Frosting, Inc.  Stay tuned!