Tuesday, October 30, 2012

It's a Monster Mash!

I was working in the lab late one night, When my eyes beheld an eerie site. For my monster from his slab began to rise, And suddenly to my surprise... He did the mash! The monster mash!
Happy Halloween everyone! I know it's tomorrow but I couldn't resist posting these cookies today. I finished them in the nick of time, which definitely placed a strain on my school work (for those of you who have made royal icing sugar cookies, you know they are extremely time-consuming). I certainly could have chosen more simplistic designs; instead of doing all the monsters you see I could have kept to the spider web, tombstone, pumpkin and a few others. But, what fun would that be? Then we wouldn't have a monster mash for Halloween, and everybody knows there HAS to be monsters at Halloween.

Actually, I admit that choosing these characters was out of sheer creative laziness. I bought these fantastic cookie cutters through Avon a month or two ago, found here, and when it came down to using them or my equally new Wilton Halloween cutters that I got for my birthday, I chose these because the design was already there. I think my brain was zonked from writing a community needs assessment paper, and so I picked the easy way out. However! I would like to note that just because these were easier doesn't mean they took less time; quite the opposite in fact!

The Frankenstein definitely turned out to be my favourite out of the bunch (as I'm sure most of you gathered from seeing my Instagram preview). I love the different facial expressions he got with the addition of big bushy eyebrows. Sean pointed out that the mummies looked like a possessed (my addition) Michelin man. Nottt exactly the look I was going for, but I still like them. Speaking of Instagram, for those of you who wish to follow me, my username is michelleliehmann, and I'm slightly ashamed to say that I had to track down my phone to figure that out. I ALSO have to put in my email address every time I log into Twitter (which isn't too often) because I forget my username there, which is michellelieh3.

You can't really tell from the pictures, but I used lustre dust for the first time on the ghosts, collars of the Draculas capes, and some of the bats wings. It was the first time I used lustre dust and I think it added a really special touch; just a bit of shimmer to take things up a notch. I actually really liked the tombstones too, I thought the textured look of the stone added some interest (this may or may not have been because the icing was too thick to flood and looked like crap, and I was too lazy to thin it, so instead I got creative and dragged a toothpick through to make it look like rough stone). I'm actually glad it happened that way!

For those of you who are interested in making sugar cookies with royal icing, check out my post on Baby Shower Cookies. Have a spooky and safe Halloween everyone!

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Halloween Chocolate Covered Marshmallows

Chocolate covered marshmallows have to be one of my most favourite treats. I'm not talking about covering store-bought marshmallows with chocolate, I'm talking about the kind that comes individually wrapped for special holidays like Halloween, Christmas, Easter and Valentine's Day. You can't go wrong with a thin layer of bittersweet chocolate balanced out with a soft and fluffy sweet marshmallow filling.

If you're like me, these treats are for you! The recipe is very simple, but putting it all together is a bit of a challenge due to how quickly marshmallow starts to set. Ideally, you should have a helper who can smooth out the marshmallow in the molds as you go along and fill them. If not, you just have to work verrry quickly!

I only bought 2 chocolate molds, like the ones here and here, and still had enough marshmallow left over to fill an 8x8 pan. I didn't want to spend the money on more molds, but it would have been nice so I could have made more chocolate marshmallow lollies! For this kind of treat, you want to look for molds that are relatively deep, so that you can get a good amount of marshmallow in there!

Baker's semi-sweet chocolate, chips or wafers (I wouldn't recommend white chocolate after trying it) anywhere from 1/2 cup- 1 cup depending on how many molds you have
1-2 teaspoons vegetable shortening
candy/chocolate molds and lollipop sticks

4 1/2 teaspoons unflavoured gelatin powder
1/2 cup cold water
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup, divided
1/4 cup water
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
orange gel food dye (or preferred colour)
classic coating (3/4 powdered sugar, 1/4 cornstarch)

Place 1/2 cup of chocolate (cut into even small chunks if using baker's chocolate) in a heatproof bowl with 1 teaspoon vegetable shortening. Heat for short bursts in the microwave, starting with 30 seconds on 50% power. Stir after heating, and continue to heat on 50% power for 15 second bursts, stirring after each burst, until chocolate is completely melted and smooth.

Spoon a small amount of chocolate into each mold and cover all of the surfaces. I found that using a silicone brush worked the best for this task. If using a clear mold, lift the mold tray above your head towards the light, and any spots that have too thin of a chocolate layer will show through. You don't want the layer to be thick, but you do want it to be thick enough to hold the marshmallow without breaking. Once finished, set aside in the refrigerator to firm up.

For the marshmallow, lightly coat an 8x8 baking pan with cooking spray (if using between 2 and 5 molds).

Whisk together the gelatin and cold water in a small bowl and let soften for 5 minutes. In a medium saucepan over high heat, stir together the sugar, 1/4 cup of the corn syrup, water and salt. Boil, stirring occasionally until the temperature reaches 240 degrees F. Meanwhile, pour remaining 1/4 cup corn syrup into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Microwave the gelatin on high until completely melted, about 30 seconds. Pour it into the mixer bowl and set on low speed.

When the syrup reaches 240 degrees F, slowly pour it into the mixer bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes. Increase to medium-high and beat for 5 more minutes. Beat on the highest setting for 1 to 2 minutes more and beat in the vanilla; the finished marshmallow will be opaque white, fluffy and tripled in volume. If colouring the marshmallow, add in dye at this point and beat until thoroughly mixed through. Scoop some of the marshmallow into a large piping bag fitted with either a plain round tip or left empty. Remove the mold trays from the refrigerator, and pipe a small amount into each mold. This is where it's handy to have a second hand if you're filling a lot of molds. Insert lollipop sticks and quickly smooth the tops of the marshmallows with an offset spatula to create a nice even surface. *You want to leave a little room at the top to cover with chocolate. Set aside for 1 hour.

With the remaining marshmallow, pour into the prepared pan and smooth with an offset spatula again. Sift classic coating evenly and generously over top (about 1/4 cup). Let set for at least 6 hours, uncovered in a dry, cool place. Use a knife to loosen the marshmallow from the edges of the pan and invert the pan onto a coating-dusted work surface. Cut into whatever sizes or shapes you prefer, and dip the sticky edges of the marshmallows in more coating, patting off the excess.

To finish the molds, repeat the melting of the chocolate process described earlier. Spoon a small amount of the melted chocolate over top the marshmallow, smooth over while ensuring to cover every part of the marshmallow. Return to the fridge for at least a half hour to set. To remove the chocolate marshmallow lollipops, push on the underside of the mold to pop them out, like you would with ice cubes in an ice cube tray.

Source: marshmallows from Marshmallow Madness by Shauna Sever

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Apple Caramel Cake

This is truly a phenomenal cake. I saw it on Pinterest a month or two ago, and knew immediately that it was what I would be making for my birthday cake (several weeks ago now). When Mom asked me what kind of cake I would like her to make, I stated quite firmly that there would be no cake-making on her part, as I had something special in mind. Her initial protests of 'but it's your birthday!' shortly turned to 'well that's wonderful, I don't have to make something then!' were fine by me!

Not only did the flavours completely appeal to me, but the complexity of the recipe did. Complexity isn't exactly the right word... it wasn't a difficult cake to make, but very time-consuming with all of the components needed- IF you're making them all from scratch. Which of course, I had to. And boy I'm glad I did. This was one of the best cakes I have ever tasted. I try to stay away from saying those extremes so they don't lose meaning, but I do believe I enjoyed it more than my lemon blueberry cake filled with lemon curd (which you didn't get to see because it fell apart in transit- boo).

This cake had me begging for seconds. Because it was so tall, and with eating it not too long after Thanksgiving dinner, even the thinnest piece was more than enough for me. It was actually terribly disappointing to not be able to have a second piece due to honestly being too full. This would have been one time where I felt no shame in taking a second slice.

The apple flavour was a little more subtle than I would have liked, but it was definitely still there. Rather, the cake had more of a spiced cake flavour (probably due to all the spices!) which was perfectly fall-appropriate. By adding a layer of caramel to each cake layer, combined with the caramel buttercream really had the caramel shining through, but not in an overpowering way. Actually, I kind of wished I had put just a little more caramel on the cake layers. The cake itself was dense and wonderfully moist. All in all, I adored this cake. I'm thrilled that I have a little bit left stored in my freezer for later.

I would highly suggest making this cake! And if you have the time, make each component yourself. It's actually quite doable if you spread it over 2-3 days by making the apple sauce the day before, and the caramel can even be made a couple days before (as long as it's brought to room temp before using). The apple sauce was divine; because I made the full recipe of apple sauce and a smaller recipe for the cake, I had about a cup left over. I'm pretty sure that cup was gone before the sauce was even cooled it was that good! It tasted like apple pie. I would probably make the apple sauce again just on its own. The caramel was delicious, but how can you go wrong with caramel? Oh wait, there are lots of ways to go wrong in the cooking process! This however, was the first recipe where I didn't botch it at all, and it turned out perfect. I haven't seen the use of corn syrup before, so maybe that made a difference, I'm not sure. Either way, the leftover caramel syrup didn't last long in my house either because I was busy putting it on ice cream, dipping apple slices into it and [I'm not even ashamed to say because it was so good] eating it by the spoonful. MAKE IT! And the Italian Meringue Buttercream I shouldn't even have to speak to, because you should all know by now that with how many times I've used it, it's my favourite!

For the Applesauce:
3 Fuji apples, peeled, cored and quartered
3 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and quartered
2 cups apple cider
3/4 cups apple juice
2 tablespoons of brandy (optional)
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a medium saucepan, bring the apple cider over medium-high heat to a soft boil. Boil the apple cider until it reduces down to about 1/4 cup. This may take anywhere from 35-50 minutes (took mine about 45 minutes). This produces an intensely flavoured apple cider concentrate.

In a medium-large saucepan, combine all ingredients, and stir to combine. Cover the saucepan, and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until apples are soft. Allow to cool, then mash with a potato masher or a hand blender to your desired consistency. Chill sauce to room temperature before adding to cake batter (see recipe below).
For the Cake:
4 cups all-purpose flour          (3 cups)
2 teaspoons baking soda         (1 1/2 tsp)
1 teaspoons baking powder     (3/4 tsp)
1 teaspoon salt                         (3/4 tsp)
1 teaspoons cinnamon            (1 tsp)
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice  (1/4 + 1/8 tsp)
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves   (1/4 + 1/8 tsp)
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature  (1 cup + 2 tbsp)
2 1/2 cups sugar                      (2 cups minus 2 tbsp)
2 large eggs                             (2 eggs)
4 cups homemade applesauce (see recipe above) or store-bought unsweetened applesauce (3 cups)

Preheat the oven to 325-degrees. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans (or if cutting recipe down, then use 6-inch pans) using butter or shortening, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and grease the parchment. Dust the parchment with flour and knock out the excess flour.

Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves together into a large bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy, about 4 minutes. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat until combined.

Add the flour mixture to the mixer bowl in three parts, alternating with the applesauce, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl, then mix on low speed for a few more seconds.
Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and cool for 20 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto the rack, remove the parchment, and let cool completely.

*Note: The original recipe produced 3 thicker 8-inch layers. I anticipated the same result by cutting the recipe down; however, the recipe still produced a huge amount of batter. Each layer was high enough that it required quite a bit longer than 45 minutes (if I remember, closer to an hour) to bake, and also they needed to be cut in half before assembling. This produced 6 perfect sized layers; however 6 layers would have made the cake just a little too high and so I only used 5 and made a mini cake with the 6th layer and the remaining frosting.

For the Caramel Sauce:
Yield: about 2 cups
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter, softened, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 ½ cups heavy cream

In a medium saucepan with high sides, combine the sugar and corn syrup with 1/2 cup water. Stir the mixture gently so you don’t slosh any of it up the sides of the pan. Turn the heat to medium-high and continue stirring until the sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high, stop stirring, and allow the mixture to boil. Once it begins to turn a rich caramel color (if you don’t want to eyeball it, take the caramel to 300 degrees F on a candy thermometer), remove it from the heat quickly and add the cream slowly. Be careful as it bubbles up ferociously. Once the bubbles have subsided, add in the butter cubes and stir until butter is melted and thoroughly combined.

You can save the caramel sauce, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to several weeks (not sure on an exact time line, I was still eating it nearly 3 weeks later). 

For the Caramel Italian Meringue Buttercream
2 1/4 cups sugar, divided (1 cup 2 tbsp each)
6 tablespoons water (1/4 cup + 2 tbsp)
6 large egg whites, at cool room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
4 sticks (2 cups) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature

Over medium heat, bring water and 1 cup + 2 tablespoons of the sugar to a boil. Cover the pot and let boil for 2-3 minutes to wash any sugar crystals off the sides of the pot. Remove cover and cook until the sugar syrup reaches 248 degrees, F.

In the meantime, fit your stand mixer with the whisk attachment. On medium speed, whip egg whites, salt and lemon juice until foamy. Add the reserved sugar and beat to medium-stiff peaks. Try to time this so the sugar water and the whites are ready at the same time.

When the sugar has reached 248 degrees, F and the whites are at medium-stiff peaks, with the mixer on medium-high, carefully pour the sugar syrup in a thin stream down the inside of the bowl. Whip until cool, about 8-10 minutes.

Feel the mixing bowl, it should feel like it's room temperature. Add the butter 2 tbsp at a time, whipping until each piece is completely incorporated before adding another piece. The icing might start to look a little curdled, or conversely, feel like soft marshmallow fluff, but it should come together nicely by the time you have added all the butter. You should be able to see the consistency start to change, and the magical change occurs when you've reached the right combination of butter and time (sometimes I'm able to get away with not adding in all the butter required). Once the frosting has changed consistency to beautifully whipped, add in 1/3 cup of the caramel sauce that was made earlier (or store-bought). Give it a taste and if you decide you'd like a bit more caramel, go for it!

If desired, tort each cake layer in half, and level off the tops if needed. Put a thin layer of caramel sauce on the layers and then spread caramel buttercream on top. Next, add another layer of cake and frost as you did with the first layer. Place the last layer on top bottom side up. Spread a very thin layer of frosting over the entire cake (crumb coat) and place the cake on the fridge for 20 minutes, or until the buttercream has become firm. Remove the cake from the fridge and use the remaining frosting to ice the top and sides. An easy technique for getting beautifully smooth sides when using buttercreams, particularly Swiss or Italian Meringue, is to run your spatula under hot water, then dry it off before smoothing the frosting. The heat from the spatula slightly melts the buttercream, creating a smooth surface. Rinse and dry the spatula frequently. Use the remaining caramel to drizzle over the top. Add chopped peanuts, if desired.

Source: Apple Sauce, Caramel Sauce and Cake taken from The Great Cake Company, Buttercream from my post on Strawberry Cupcakes

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pumpkin Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Glaze

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but one of my favourite fall flavours is pumpkin, tied with apple caramel and then maple syrup. I've been looking forward to being able to bake with pumpkin all year, and was so excited to try using it with cinnamon rolls! This was in large part due to the fact that I have never made cinnamon rolls before, and have been waiting for a good time to make them, as I can't very well make 12 rolls for just Sean and I! (Although I've come up with a plan, to be discussed shortly)

These rolls were fantastic, and perfect for brunch! They were light and fluffy, and definitely had me going back for seconds. I didn't find that I could taste the pumpkin flavour that much, and so because I really enjoy that flavour I'll use just a tad more pumpkin pie spices in the mix to enhance it. And this is the type of breakfast that you don't need to feel [too] guilty over- it's almost half whole wheat and has over a cup of pumpkin puree in it. I mean, it's practically healthy!

It was really fun making these. I've made several bread doughs before, but never experienced what it was like to roll out dough and really work with it. It's quite the unique experience for those who haven't tried it! I'm not sure how to describe it, but there's something really special about getting your hands on a warm fluffy mound of dough and then smashing the air out, followed by rolling it out with a pin. I can't wait to try it again!

1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
scant 1 cup pumpkin puree (if using store-bought, make sure to buy the plain puree and not the pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 tablespoon dry yeast
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 3/4 cups while flour
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (for those of you whole can't find pumpkin pie spice, or when you do realize it's stinkin' expensive, it's very simple to make. You can find a recipe through Annie's Eats)

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2-1 cup brown sugar
2-3 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon maple extract
pinch of salt

Combine butter and milk in a sauce pan and heat on low until butter has melted. Once butter has melted, add sugar and stir well to combine, until sugar is melted. Remove from heat to let cool.

Add yeast to 2 tablespoons warm water (make sure it's not too hot, just warm to the touch). Let the yeast dissolve into the water.
Once butter, milk and sugar has cooled down to warm (not hot), combine it with the yeast and water mixture in a large mixing bowl. Add in pumpkin puree, flour, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Stir to combine; you may need to work the ingredients together with your hands to fully incorporate flour.

Once combined, set bowl, covered with a towel, in a warm draft free spot for 1-2 hours to rise. I find the most effective way to do this is to heat your oven for 1-2 minutes until it has just warmed up. Then, place a small bowl of boiled water directly underneath the bowl with the dough in it (in the oven). Heat and moisture creates the best environment for dough to proof.

After dough has risen (it should double in size), punch it down and prepare to roll it out. Cover your work surface in flour and set dough on surface. Knead dough six to seven times. Roll out with a rolling pin into a large rectangle. If dough is sticky, add a bit of flour to it, as well as your rolling pin.

Once dough is rolled out, brush softened butter over dough. Sprinkle on cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice followed by brown sugar.

Tightly roll dough up, starting from edge furthest from you. (Roll tighter than mine if you can!)

Continue to roll until you've reached the end. Slice cinnamon rolls into 12 even pieces.

Set cinnamon rolls in a greased 9x13 pan. At this point you can bake your rolls, cover and refridgerate for 24 hours, or place in the freezer to be used later. The latter is what I did. I individually wrapped each piece in saran wrap, and then put it into a freezer bag. If using from frozen, remove from the freezer and let thaw for at least an hour and a half to two hours. You want them to be at room temperature and starting to rise a little bit again, so it may take over an hour. If using from the fridge, take them out about 30-45 minutes before baking.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake the cinnamon rolls for 18-25 minutes, until tops are golden brown and centers look firm. Remove from oven and let cool for approx. 5 minutes.

While the cinnamon rolls are cooling, mix up glaze by combining milk, powdered sugar, melted butter, vanilla and maple extracts, and salt in a bowl and mix well. The glaze should be pourable. If it's too think, add a little bit of milk at a time.

Pour the glaze over cinnamon rolls. Serve immediately or allow to sit. Store covered.

Source: slightly adapted from Love From The Oven

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Lady Baltimore Cake

I was enlisted by my mother to make a Birthday cake for my Oma (grandma) recently, who just turned 89 years old! Wowza- and that's nothing if you compare her to my Opa, who is now 93! I have to admire them, they are still living in their home with not much support other than a house keeper and the occasional drop-ins from family. Unfortunately that doesn't mean they're doing great anymore, and so we cherish the times that we do have together.

I had a lot of things go wrong with this cake- so I can't honestly comment on how it might have turned out had everything go smoothly. For starters, the raspberry curd that I was going to use for the filling never thickened up as much as I wanted to. I attempted to thicken it further by cooking it down more and creating a slurry (mixture of cold water and corn starch) to add in, which seemed like it might have worked at first. However, for some reason later on clumps of cornstarch started appearing (despite my using the correct slurry) and you could taste the cornstarch. So if anybody has any hints or tips as to why this happened, you can let me know. THEN, I didn't read the directions properly and failed to whip the egg whites (added them into the butter-sugar mixture), which is what contributes to a light and fluffy cake. And lastly, about 5 minutes into baking the cake I accidentally turned the oven off without realizing it until 20 minutes later, so I'm not sure how that affected things. Regardless, the cake tasted fine but was somewhat dense and a little dry- which I attribute to the non-whipped egg whites and the baking time.

ANYWAYS, I imagine that the cake would taste amazing if done correctly, so I'm still going to give you the recipe! I divided the original recipe to fit 2 6-inch pans (to make a 4 layer cake). You also can use really whatever you'd like for the filling, but I think something light and fruity works best. I used a Vanilla Italian Meringue Buttercream that I have used many times before, which you can find in my post on Strawberry Cupcakes. Simply multiply the recipe by 1.5 x if using a different filling for the cake, and you will have enough.

Yield: 1 9-inch cake
3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
grated zest of one lemon
3 cups cake flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
6 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 3 9-inch cake pans with shortening or butter and line bottom with parchment paper. Grease on top of the parchment paper and flour lightly.

Cream butter, sugar and lemon zest together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together in a separate bowl and set aside.

Combine milk, water and vanilla. Add a third of the flour mixture to creamed butter mixture, alternating with the milk mixture until everything is incorporated. Beat until just smooth.

Beat egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff and gently fold into batter. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The cakes shouldn’t get very brown on top. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pans, then transfer cakes to wire wracks to cool completely.

Source: Sing for Your Supper

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Birthday Specialty!

Happy Birthday to me! And to one of my best friends Jaylene! We share a unique bond. Can you guess what? Our birthdays are the same! Let me tell you a story. Jaylene and I met on the first day of University (not technically the first day), but the day that we were scheduled to move into our residences. We we sharing the same rez suite; I was lucky enough to have a single room and Jaylene had a double room with one of her best friends from home, who also grew to be one of my closest friends, Robyn. In the next days to come, we discovered that we shared the same birthday. Over the years we became closer and closer, and found more and more similarities between our families (primarily that both our mother's shared pretty much the same person and were kind of identical in most respects).

A bittersweet turn to the story happened just in the last few months. Jaylene and I (and Robyn) went our separate ways. Robyn stayed in Ottawa to work and continue schooling, I moved to London to do my Masters degree, and Jaylene moved back to her hometown (temporarily) before leaving to teach English in South Korea just last week! This is the first time in 6 years that we haven't been together for our birthday :(, but we are both doing such amazing things (although I think I'm more jealous of what she's doing now that I've got a crap load of work to do).

So I decided to celebrate (somewhat) online by making confetti cupcakes and sweet sugar cookies for our birthday. While Jaylene couldn't enjoy the spoils, she was able to see the pictures and my classmates got the spoils! P.S. Forgive my crappy picture taking, there may be several posts like this. Lately I'll finish something late at night and then only have a very short amount of time in the wee-early hours of the morning to take pictures, so lighting has been abominable.

The cupcakes were interesting- not in a bad way, they were very tasty! I may have kept them in the oven a minute too long, I'm not sure, but the tops of the cupcakes became a little crispy. Upon doing a quality control test Sean deemed that they were the best cupcakes he'd had because he liked the texture so much. They were topped with a sweet and airy simple American Buttercream... yum! If you're interested in making decorated sugar cookies, check out this post on Baby Shower Cookies.

Yield: 24 cupcakes
1 cup milk, room temperature
6 large egg whites, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
6 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners. Whisk the milk, egg whites, vanilla and almond extracts together in a medium-sized bowl.

Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed briefly to combine. Cut the butter into 6 pieces and add them to the mixer bowl. Mix on low speed until the mixture is coarse and sandy. Add milk mixture and beat at medium speed for 1-2 minutes. Scrape sides of bowl and continue beating for 20-30 seconds. Use a spatula to gently fold in the sprinkles.

Divide the batter evenly among the wells 1/2- 2/3 full. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pan and allow them to cool completely before frosting.

Vanilla Buttercream (American)
2 tablespoons heavy (whipping) cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
20 tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2-3 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Stir the heavy cream, vanilla extract and salt together in a small bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on med-high speed until smooth. With the mixer on low, slowly add the powdered sugar until it is completely incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat in the heavy cream mixture. Increase the mixer to medium speed and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. If the frosting is too soft, simply add more powdered sugar, and vice versa if it is too stiff, add more heavy cream.

Sources: Cupcakes from Baking Bites and Frosting from Cooks Illustrated via Tracey's Culinary Adventures Pin It