Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Please forgive me. I haven't participated in the Tuesday's With Dorie entry's in two weeks! I've been so busy and totally baked out between BBQ's, birthday's and what have you. I'm leaving for California on Friday and won't be back until mid next week. However, I'm going to do my best to make next week's recipe, Black and White Banana Loaf, chosen by Ashlee of A Year In The Kitchen. I'm going to visit my brother who has informed me that his kitchen doesn't work. Um, what does that even mean? How do you not have a functioning kitchen? I will have to make do because I've been dying to make this banana loaf so stay tuned!

Check out TWD for all the entry's from this week!

P.S. Please disregard Marley's haircut--he's the little one in front who looks like the Taco Bell dog. I had no choice but to shave him because he was all matted and I'm so NOT OK with his new do...eeeek!

Friday, July 25, 2008


This was my first time experimenting with fondant, also known as sugar paste. I had planned to take a cake decorating course on fondant but life kind of got in the way. A very good friend of mine is celebrating a birthday next week and all fingers pointed to me for the birthday cake. Of course, I'm happy to do so, only this time, I'd like to make a tiered cake covered and decorated with fondant. I've been reading an introductory book to fondant and thought I'd give it a try. So, I set off to make a red velvet cake from one of my new books, Cakes Galore by Phillipa Vanstone and Valerie Barrett. This project didn't have me so concerned with the actual cake, but more so with the decorating aspect. Rather than making this about the cake, I wanted to focus on the aesthetics! With that said, this red velvet happened to have been delicious. I made 4 layers, filled with cream cheese icing and, according the my book's directions, smeared a crumb coat around the sides and top, allowing it to set slightly to a tacky, sticky consistency. I bought ready to use rolled fondant from my local Michael's and began my adventure. After covering the cake with the white fondant, I colored it using pink and purple coloring gels and used my fondant star cut-outs to create the different sized stars. 
In closing, this wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. I realize my first fondant cake is nothing to gloat about, but I now have the confidence to create a fantastic birthday cake for next week. Keep in mind, I'm a fondant virgin!  Keep in mind, I'm a fondant virgin! I am going to bake the different sized layers (10in, 8in, 6in) for my friends birthday this weekend and begin decorating on Sunday. I've mapped out a plan for this!  I'll be sure to post when it's all finished. Wish me luck!!

Your thoughts on the cake? Leave a comment and/or suggestion!

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Before I get to the Tag (a.k.a meme) please let me take this opportunity to show my love for the NY Mets. Today they have sole ownership of 1st place!!!!  Wooooooooo!! OK, moving on...

Alwayz Bakin' and Baking With The Boys both tagged me for meme's! For what a meme is and the rules that go along with it, check out my last meme post here.

I looked at each meme's questions and decided to go with Alwayz Bakin's meme! OK, off to questions..

1. Last movie I saw in a movie theater?
Baby Mama with Tina Fey in APRIL! That's embarrassing coming from a movie buff..

2. What book are you reading?
I'll just stick to the fiction side of this question being that I'm reading several cook books simultaneously! "Babyville" by Jane Green.

3. Favorite Board Game?
SORRY, hands down.

4. Favorite Magazine, People or US?
Is it safe to say this meme is pretty much directed at women? No Maxim option? I would have to go with US. 

5. Favorite Smells?
I love the smells of Fall. Pumpkin spice, cinnamon, etc.

6. Favorite Sounds?
This has to be at Shea stadium with a packed crowd, bases loaded in the 9th for a walk off win! The place goes CRAZY.

7. Worst Feeling in the world?
Since I don't have children (yet) and my dogs take the place of children, I would have to say the worst feeling is when I leave them alone and I hear them crying and whimpering from outside the door. My heart melts...

8. First thing you think of when you wake?
If I'm being honest, my exact words every morning are: "I hope my puppies held it in..." HaHa. They are only babies!!! 

9. Favorite Food Place?
Hmmm...I live in Manhattan and I have soooooo many favorites! I'll keep it simple and go with the diner on my corner...I literally eat there Monday-Friday of every week. Yup, I love that place.
*************Um, I just realized that this meme is 29 questions long! I'm going to just pick 5 of my favorites from the remaining list!*************
10.Do you drive fast?
To put it simply, I don't drive without my radar detector.

11. Favorite Sport to watch?
That's a toss-up between football, baseball, and soccer. 

12. Morning person or night owl?
100% night owl. My father doesn't call me "vicious" in the morning for nothin...

13. Favorite Ice Cream Flavor?
Haagen-Dazs COFFEE!

14. Favorite Drink?
Birch Beer

15. Favorite place to relax?
Under the sun in Florida. Definitely Florida.

I'm tagging the following bloggers:

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


The last dessert I brought to the BBQ was this Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake. I found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen and oh boy am I happy I did! This was AMAZING. I repeat, AMAZING. Anything bound together by brownies and cheesecake can't possibly disappoint! The cheesecake came out like a gem. There were no cracks, slits, or dents; it was completely blemish-free. Every bite had rich chunks of chocolaty brownie. This cheesecake was extremely rich and I ended up taking home 3/4 of it, where it will be served this weekend at another BBQ! While this cheesecake involves two different recipes (the brownies and the actual cheesecake) it was fairly easy to make and ended up being a 2-day process. 

Day 1: Brownie Recipe
This recipe is referred to as a "one bowl" brownie recipe. Enough said? It's super easy, super fast, super delicious and requires super easy clean-up! Basically it's all out "super".  I made these a day in advance and put the uncut sheet of brownies in the fridge to cool overnight.
Day 2: Brownie cubes and Cheesecake
After cooling and refrigerating overnight, I sliced the sheet of brownies into 1x1 inch cubes using a pizza cutter. I would highly recommend using a pizza cutter; this made the process much easier and created no crumbling. Finally, I was ready to make the cheesecake which had a base/crust of crushed chocolate teddy graham's. I've never used such a cookie as a crust, but let me tell you, this won't be the last time! Smitten Kitchen gives recipes for both a single and double crust. 

Naturally I stuck with the double crust because a girl can't get enough crust in a cheesecake! The actual cheesecake portion of this recipe was so easy. Cream cheese. Eggs. Vanilla. Sugar. That's it! When the cheesecake filling is poured into the crust you gently fold the brownie cubes in and bake! Once cooled, the cheesecake is topped with ganache filling (which I altered, see below) and you have yourself a beautiful impressive brownie cheesecake! I had extra brownie cubes left so I crumbled them up and garnished the top of the cheesecake with them. This cake is sure to impress your friends, co-workers, family member, etc. I highly recommend this cheesecake to everyone!!

Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake

Part One: One Bowl Brownies

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate (Baker’s chocolate, optional of course)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
1 3/4cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 13×9-inch baking pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan. Grease foil.

Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min. or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and salt; mix well. Spread into prepared pan.

Bake 30 to 35 minute or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. (Do not overbake.) Cool in pan on wire rack. Remove brownies from pan, using foil handles.

Cool brownies, then cut* them into 3/4- to 1-inch squares for use in the cheesecake. You will have more than the two cups of cubes, loosely measured, than you will need, and I’m sorry, you’re just going to have to decide for yourself what to do with the extra. Add cubes to cake batter as directed below.

* I find that brownies are fantastically easy to cut once they’ve been refrigerated–you end up with nice clean lines, and in this case, a sharp pizza wheel was especially helpful. Also, brownies taste better cold. I’m just saying.

Part Two: Crumb Crust

I like a doubled crumb crust. I can’t get enough cookie. Below are proportions for one crust with the amounts to double the recipe in parentheses. You know you wanna.

1 1/2 cups or 5 ounces (3 cups or 10 ounces to double) finely ground cookies such as chocolate wafers. Or Chocolate Teddy Grahams.
5 tablespoons (10 tablespoons to double) unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup (2/3 cup to double) sugar
1/8 (1/4 teaspoon to double) teaspoon salt

Stir together crust ingredients and press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of a buttered 24-centimeter springform pan. Fill right away or chill up to 2 hours.

Part Three: Cheesecake

3 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar

Make crumb crust as directed above for 24-centimeter cheesecake. Preheat oven to 350°F.

Make filling and bake cake: Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until fluffy and add eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla and sugar, beating on low speed until each ingredient is incorporated and scraping down bowl between additions.

Fold brownie cubes in very gently and pour mixture into prepared pan. Put springform pan with crust in a shallow baking pan. Pour filling into crust and bake in baking pan (to catch drips) in middle of oven 45 minutes, or until cake is set 3 inches from edge but center is still slightly wobbly when pan is gently shaken.

When completely cool, top with following glaze.

Part Four: Ganache Glaze (I didn't have patience to bust out the food processor so I used this ganache recipe. I had some left over and froze it for later use)

3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, broken up, or 1/2 cup chocolate morsels
2 oz. butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon confectioners sugar

Grind the chocolate into powder in the food processor, scald the butter and cream in a saucepan (or in a Pyrex cup in the microwave). With the machine running, pour the hot cream/butter mixture slowly through the feed tube onto the chocolate. Blend until completely smooth, stopping machine to scrape down sides once or twice. Add the extract and sugar and process until smooth. Spread over cheesecake while ganache is still warm. Chill until ready to serve.


The next dessert I made for the BBQ were Chocolate Mint brownies. I've wanted to make these for quite some time now and rather than making plain boring chocolate brownies I decided to give these a shot.  I've made chocolate mint cupcakes and now it was time to experiment in the brownie department. I got this recipe from Joy of Baking which is a fantastic site. This brownie consisted of a dense moist brownie layer followed by a mint icing layer then topped off with chopped Andes mints. These were so good that I had to leave 1/2 the batch at home for my family to enjoy. That was an order. 
I didn't make any revisions to this recipe except the addition of chopped Andes mints. I've seen Andes baking bits on other sites however I can't seem to find them in my supermarkets anywhere! So, I chopped up a package of them and they added the perfect umph! 

Brownie Layer:

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

4 ounces (114 grams) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated white sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1/2 cup (70 grams) all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

Mint Layer:

2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup (115 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted

1 - 1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract or 1-2 tablespoons crème de menthe

green food coloring (optional)

Chocolate Glaze:

3 ounces (90 grams) semisweet chocolate, chopped

1 tablespoon (14 grams) unsalted butter

1 bag of Andes Mints (chopped)


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven. Have ready a 9 x 9 inch (23 x 23 cm) square baking pan that has been lined with aluminum foil across the bottom and up two opposite sides of the pan. Set aside.

Brownies: In a stainless steel (heatproof) bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla extract. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well (with a wooden spoon) after each addition. Stir in the flour and salt and beat, with a wooden spoon, until the batter is smooth and glossy and comes away from the sides of the pan (about one minute). Pour the brownie batter evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes or until the brownies start to pull away from the sides of the pan and the edges of the brownies are just beginning to brown. A toothpick inserted in the center of the brownies will come out almost clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to completely cool.

Mint Layer: In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat all the ingredients until smooth. Add a few drops of green food coloring if you want the frosting green. If the frosting is too thick, add a little extra cream. (The frosting should be just thin enough to spread.) Spread the frosting evenly over the cooled brownie layer. Place in the refrigerator for about 5-10 minutes or until firm.

Chocolate Glaze:  In a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter. Spread over the mint filling and refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until the chocolate glaze starts to dull. If you decide to use the chopped Andes mints, sprinkle them on top before you refrigerate.

To Serve: Remove the brownies from the pan by lifting with the ends of the foil and transfer to a cutting board. With a sharp knife, cut into 30 squares. It is a good idea to wipe your knife between cuts with a damp cloth. These brownies can be stored in the refrigerator for several days or else frozen.

Makes about 30 1-inch (2.5 cm) squares.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Clearly I've been on a S'more kick lately. My friend Ed had his annual BBQ over the weekend and I was summoned (by choice) to make the desserts. This S'more pie was a recipe I've wanted to make for a long time. Deb from Smitten Kitchen made this a while back and I tagged it immediately! I knew a BBQ would be the perfect excuse to make it. So I was on a mission...
I had so many incentives to make this pie:
1) I. LOVE. S'MORES. End of story.
2) I have been jumping at the opportunity to use my new blow torch but have yet to find a recipe that required it. 
3) My friend Ed repeatedly insisted I make this pie and I couldn't disappoint.
4) I love making marshmallow meringue.
5) I think that's enough reasons...no?
This tasted like a ginormous S'more. I only had one complaint: bittersweet chocolate. The next time I make this recipe (and yes, there will be a next time, I assure you) I will use milk chocolate to symbolize the classic Hershey squares used in real S'more's. I also used How To Eat A Cupcake's Swiss meringue marshmallow rather than Deb's. Everyone at the BBQ loved the pie. More posts from the BBQ to follow...
My friend Julie with the PIE!

For crust
5 tablespoons salted or unsalted butter, melted, plus additional for greasing
1 1/2 cups cookie crumbs (10 graham crackers or 24 small gingersnaps; about 6 oz, pulsed in a food processor until finely ground)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt (omitted if you use salted butter)

For chocolate cream filling
7 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not more than 70% cacao; not unsweetened), finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 large egg, at room temperature for 30 minutes

For marshmallow topping (the recipe I used found here)
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (from a 1/4-oz package)
1/2 cup cold water
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Vegetable oil for greasing

Special equipment: a candy thermometer

Make graham cracker crust:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter pie 9- to 9 1/2-inch pie plate.

Stir together all ingredients in a bowl and press evenly on bottom and up side of pie plate. Bake until crisp, 12 to 15 minutes, then cool on a rack to room temperature, about 45 minutes.

Make chocolate cream filling:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Put chocolate in a large bowl. Bring cream just to a boil in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan, then pour hot cream over chocolate. Let stand 1 minute, then gently whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Gently whisk in egg and a pinch of salt until combined and pour into graham cracker crumb crust (crust will be about half full).

Cover edge of pie with a pie shield or foil and bake until filling is softly set and trembles slightly in center when gently shaken, about 25 minutes. Cool pie to room temperature on a rack (filling will firm as it cools), about 1 hour.

Make marshmallow topping:
Sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup cold water in a large deep heatproof bowl and let stand until softened, about 1 minute.

Stir together sugar, corn syrup, a pinch of salt, and remaining 1/4 cup water in cleaned 1- to 1 1/4-quart heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then boil until thermometer registers 260°F, about 6 minutes.

Begin beating water and gelatin mixture with an electric mixer at medium speed, then carefully pour in hot syrup in a slow stream, beating (avoid beaters and side of bowl). When all of syrup is added, increase speed to high and continue beating until mixture is tripled in volume and very thick, about 5 minutes. Add vanilla and beat until combined, then immediately spoon topping onto center of pie filling; it will slowly spread to cover top of pie. Chill, uncovered, 1 hour, then cover loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap (oiled side down) and chill 3 hours more.

Brown topping:
Preheat broiler.

Transfer pie to a baking sheet. Cover edge of pie with pie shield or foil and broil 3 to 4 inches from heat, rotating pie as necessary, until marshmallow topping is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Cool pie on a rack 10 minutes. Slice pie with a large heavy knife dipped in hot water and then dried with a towel before cutting each slice.

You can also use a kitchen blow torch rather than the broiler. That's what I did.

Note: Pie (before browning topping) can be chilled up to 1 day.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Marshmallows. Chocolate. Graham Crackers. 'Nuff said?

Three ingredients uniting together to create a sublime flavor so good that it causes your taste buds to do flips! Super S'More Crisps is what Elinor Klivans likes to call these bad boys. I got the recipe from her book, Big Fat Cookies, and thought they would be the perfect treat for a friend's BBQ tomorrow. S'mores are a classic treat for summer BBQ's and rather than making actual S'mores using whole graham crackers, whole squares of chocolate, and a jumbo marshmallow all to be roasted over a fire, I thought these cookies would suffice. This was a very crispy cookie with loads of chocolate packed in. Three cups of graham crackers are added to the recipe creating a thick dough and lastly, the marshmallows, once baked, carmelize giving a crunchy toffee-type of taste. Rather than dolloping on the chocolate coating I took a pastry bag, cut a small hole at the tip, and zig-zagged the chocolate on. I also used semi-sweet AND milk chocolate chips to vary the taste a bit. These are so good! I would encourage everyone to make this creative take on S'mores!

Cookies ready for the oven...

INGREDIENTS: (my changes in red)
3/4 C. unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 C. sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 C. graham cracker crumbs
1/2 C. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 C. milk chocolate chips (about 8 1/2 ounces) (I used 1 cup milk chocolate, 1/2 cup semi-sweet)
1 1/2 C. miniature marshmallows  (I threw in an extra handful)

6 ounces (generous 1 cup) milk chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet) or milk chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon canola or corn oil

Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the over to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. (I didn't have anymore parchment paper left so I sprayed the pans with PAM and they didn't stick--they came out perfect)

MAKE THE COOKIES: In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and sugar until smoothly blended, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. Add the egg and vanilla, mixing until blended, about 1 minute. On low speed, mix in the graham cracker crumbs, flour and salt until a soft dough forms that come away from the sides of the bowl. Mix in the chocolate chips and marshmallows.

Using an ice cream scoop or a measuring cup with a 1/4 cup capacity, scoop portions of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, placing them 4 inches apart. Flatten each cookie slightly to about 3/4 inch thick.

Bake one sheet at a time until the tops feel firm and the marshmallows near the edges of the cookies have melted and become clear and carmelized, about 15 minutes. (Some of the marshmallows in the center will remain white.) Cool the cookies for 5 minutes on the baking sheets, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer them to wire rack to cool.

MAKE THE CHOCOLATE COATING: Put the milk chocolate and oil in a heatproof container or the top of a double boiler and place it over, but not touching, a saucepan of barely simmering water (or the bottom of a double boiler). Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from the water and let cool and thicken slightly, 15 to 20 minutes.

Use a small spoon to drizzle the chocolate coating over the cooled cookies. (I used a pastry bag, cut a hole at the tip and zig-zagged the chocolate on). Leave the cookies at room temperature until the chocolate is firm, about 1 hour. Or refrigerate the cookies for about 15 minutes.

The cookies can be individually wrapped in plastic wrap an stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Melissa from It's Melissa's Kitchen (no, not my kitchen) picked this week's TWD recipe. She went with chocolate pudding which is definitely a feat I've been trying to master. After 3 failed attempts with this pudding, I finally got it right and when it's right, it's right. I used all semi-sweet chocolate rather than the suggested darker bittersweet which is why my pudding looks lighter and milkier than the other TWD'ers. It was a creamy, chocolaty, silky pudding that could be paired with just about anything. Throw in some sliced bananas, chopped chocolate candy, fruit of any kind, chocolate chips, heath bar, or even just a dollop of whipped cream. There are endless opportunities to spice up this chocolate pudding but the best part is that it is just as delicious plain.  Dorie Greenspan has done it, yet again! All of her recipes have proven to not only work, but taste as delicious as the enticing photographs make them out to be. Check out the other TWD blogroll, here!

Click here for the recipe!

Monday, July 14, 2008


I went baking-book happy at Border's this past week. I met a friend for dinner Thursday night and she was running a few minutes late. To my surprise, Border's was located directly above the restaurant so I hit up the baking aisle immediately. I left there 5 books deep and $100.00 poorer. So it goes...One of the many books I purchased was The Essential Chocolate Chip Cookbook by Elinor Klivans. I have a few other books by this author including Big Fat Cookies and Cupcakes! She is totally awesome. Her books offer gorgeous photos, tempting recipes with wonderful flavors, and in depth explanations/directions for each recipe. Every recipe I've made from these books have come out perfectly and delicious. 
The first recipe I made from this book was a chocolate chip hazelnut pie. This pie was fabulous. I haven't gotten the opportunity to work with hazelnuts very often, but let me tell you, that notion has officially changed. Hazelnuts rock. They offer a rich nutty flavor and, in this recipe's case, when bound with a spice such as cinnamon, the flavor is even more potent.  This pie was super easy. The dough took about 10 minutes to make (food processor included) and the "filling" consists of only chocolate chips. The top is then latticed and you bake it for about 35 minutes. The end result was a crumbly cookie type texture with gooey chocolate chips inside. I would definitely make this again as it was simple, tasty, and not overly rich. This would be so good with coffee ice cream.  I'll post the recipe later today...

Saturday, July 12, 2008


I was a feature interview at the Cupcakes Take The Cake site!!! This was such an exciting opportunity! Check it out here! Woooooo!

Thursday, July 10, 2008



Success!! Everyone loved the cake. I finally got to try it and it was beyond delicious. I think this was the best cake I've ever made.  I loved the combination of the sweet sugary buttercream in between the layers with the smooth silky chocolate almond Nutella SMBC around the sides and top. They complimented each other perfectly. I will most definitely make this cake again using different varieties, i.e. chocolate cake with fudge buttercream, etc.  Julia Stiles, who I absolutely love, was at the show last night. I wonder if she had any cake...
Anyway, here are some pictures from last night. I didn't have my awesome Nikon camera on me because it's to heavy to schlep around so I used my dinky little digital camera. Enjoy!
Everyone's plate looked like this within 5 mins. Except.....
this one. Why in the world would you eat the entire slice and leave out the best part?  This pained me to see! That SMBC took me 20 minutes to make! Shame on you! ha.
Star/host/writer/creator of the show loved it!! Now everyone go check out his website -

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


As mentioned in my earlier posts, my cousin is a writer, comedian, and producer living and performing in New York. He is the creator/producer of the NYC cult hit show, The Rejection Show, as well as the New York City Beard & Moustache ChampionshipsThe Delicious Sandwich Social,The ECNY Awards and many other popular live events. Tonight is the season finale of the Rejection Show and he asked me to bake a birthday cake for one of the many performers at tonight's show. Naturally I agreed in a heartbeat and got to work. This was a 2 day process as all layer cakes should be. From here on out I will bake the cakes/layers on day 1, wrap it up in plastic wrap and freeze overnight. Day 2 will involve the decorating. Anyway, while brainstorming, I knew I wanted to involve Billy's Vanilla Vanilla cupcake recipe, but in cake form, found here. These cupcakes were just too damn delicious to not use as my basic "go-to" vanilla cake. 
Since I was unable to take a picture of a slice of the cake, (it would be rude to bring an already-eaten cake!) above is a picture of the 4 layers with pink special vanilla buttercream in between. Since the birthday is celebrated by a woman I thought I'd throw in a touch of pink! After the show tonight I will try to snap a few pictures of a slice! 
I frosted the entire cake with the most amazing Nutella Swiss Meringue Buttercream. I really don't like buttercream at all. I think it's way too thick, sweet, and is only good for piping, in my opinion. However, the SMBC is seriously outrageous. It's silky and smooth and finishes off a cake so glamorously. It tastes amazing also! Despite taking more time to prepare than regular old buttercream, it's very well worth it. Trust me! The added Nutella gave it a chocolaty-almond taste which was ridiculously delicious.  I peaked the top of the cake and sprinkled chocolate flakes. I really can't wait to taste this cake tonight! I'll give ya'll an update tomorrow; hopefully with a few cross-section pictures. Happy birthday Michelle!
Boxed up and ready to go!

Special Buttercream Frosting 
(I halved this recipe since I only needed enough buttercream to frost in between the layers- my changes are in red)
2 cups Butter Flavored Crisco ( you can use regular shortening)
1 cup Crisco 
8 cups confectioner's sugar
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 tsp Salt
2 teaspoons clear imitation vanilla extract
1 tsp Vanilla
6 fluid ounces heavy cream 
3 oz heavy cream

1. Cream shortening until fluffy. Add confectioner's sugar and continue creaming until well blended.
2. Add salt, vanilla, and whipping cream blend on low speed until moistened. Add additional whipping cream if necessary (up to 2 ounces).
3. Beat at high speed until frosting is fluffy

Nutella Swiss Meringue Buttercream
(adapted from How To Eat A Cupcake)

Makes about 4 cups (enough to generously frost 24 cupcakes or, in my case, 2-9inch rounds)

4 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, (2 sticks), softened, cut into tablespoons
1/2 jar of Nutella (about 1/2 - 2/3 cup)

Put egg whites and sugar into the top of a double boiler over a pan of simmering water. Whisking constantly, cook until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm (about 160 degrees). Pour heated egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat egg white mixture on high speed until it forms stiff (but not dry) peaks. Continue beating until fluffy and cooled, about 7 minutes total. Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low, add butter two tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. Increase speed to medium-high; continue beating until frosting appears thick, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low; add Nutella a few tablespoons at a time and continue beating until incorporated.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


FINALLY! From the day I purchased the book, "From My Home To Yours", by Dorie Greenspan, I ogled this recipe while simultaneously wiping the drool from my mouth. Amy from South In Your Mouth picked this week's Dorie recipe: Double Crusted Blueberry Pie- a.k.a. Blueberry heaven! I. Love. Blueberry. Pie. 
I'm not such a huge pie fan in general, but Blueberry pie could be my all time favorite, for sure! Pair it up with some vanilla ice cream and it most certainly could bear some resemblance to heaven. I really enjoyed this recipe, especially the addition of the lemon rind and juice, which I ended up doubling; giving the pie a great tart flavor. The pie dough was easy, quick to make, and very pliable to work with.  I had some extra dough so I made flowers to garnish with as well as a mini strawberry pie! It was delicious!
Mini Strawberry Pie!

If I haven't already made it clear, this pie was so tasty. I paired it with vanilla ice cream and served it for my 4th of July BBQ which comprised of Chinese take out and wine!  Thankfully there was one item of food on the table that was 4th of July-worthy! Check out the other TWD'ers pies. Thanks Amy for choosing this amazing recipe!

Thursday, July 3, 2008


Wow. Last night I experienced my first dose of baking frustration. I just bought the book Cupcakes! by Elinor Klivnas and tagged several recipes (OK, basically the entire book) and thought I'd make the Chocolate Hi-Hat cupcakes with an independence day theme. Well, this plan clearly isn't pictured above. After 3, yes 3, failed attempts at making the Swiss meringue- type marshmallow fluff frosting I thought I finally got it. The 4th attempt was peaking and thickening the way it was supposed to. I know this because I made this exact type of frosting last week when I made Billy Reece's vanilla cupcakes so I knew I was capable of success! The directions say to pipe the frosting on the cupcakes in a cone like shape 2 inches high. All went well with this step as I was feeling good about the outcome. I put the piped cupcakes in the fridge while I made the chocolate dip. I used semi sweet chocolate as well as red, white, and blue melting chocolate. The directions then said to hold the cupcake by the bottom and dip into the chocolate, allowing the chocolate to drip off. Here's where my night of cupcake'ing went down the drain. As I dipped each cupcake, one after another, it's as if the frosting melted right off and landed in the bowl of chocolate, creating a monster mess. It was after midnight at this point and I decided to fore go salvaging my beautifully peaked frosting and spooned large amounts of colored chocolate over the cupcakes, garnished with sprinkles, and topped off with festive toothpicks. 
I brought these into work today and everyone loved them. They tasted great despite the unexpected failed appearance. I will most definitely take another stab at these down the road, but not until I try all the other fabulous recipes that this book has to offer!