Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Cupcakes--Santa Bellies and Christmas Trees

Merry Christmas! I made these cupcakes for my fiancĂ©es work Christmas party. They were really easy to make and were a big hit! 
I used a box cake mix but added an extra egg so that the cupcakes were really moist. 
I used regular cupcake liners as well as these pretty paper cups. They're cute but guests seem hesitant to rip the paper and usually take the regularly wrapped cupcakes first. 
Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes. I like round fluffy cupcakes so I tend to almost overfill my cupcakes. 
But you can push down any tops that are too tall when you core out the centers. I use this cupcake corer but you could also use a knife or an icing tip. 
Pipe in some yummy fudge! This is actually canned Hershey's frosting but it's so thick that it seems like a homemade ganache. I like to use a mix and canned frosting for the filling to save time but make my own buttercream and decorations. 
For the santa bellies I used Wilton frosting. It's really hard to dye frosting to a true red or black and I didn't want to bother with it. These are bright vibrant colors that will stain your tongue for days! 
Florian from cupcake wars would complain about the frosting tasting like red lipstick, so I spread it nice and thin. 
I put the black frosting in a ziplock bag and cut a small vertical slit in the corner to try to pipe it in a flat line. If your line isn't perfectly straight or gets wavy you can use a knife to even things out and smooth the edges. 
Whip up some buttercream and set aside a small amount of white. 
Carefully pipe the white frosting into a large square belt buckle. 
You could leave them like this but I wanted to make them extra special and painted them with some silver luster dust. 
The luster dust makes the cupcakes seem really professional but it's so easy to use (and is tasteless). You just mix the powder with a bit of water and use a food safe paintbrush to carefully paint it on. 
Because the red tube of frosting only made about 6 cupcakes, I decided to frost the rest as easy Christmas trees. 
I dyed the rest of the frosting green. 
I used a large star tip (Wilton 1M or 2D would work well) and piped big swirls. I chose to decorate with whatever I had--Valentine's day heart sprinkles and Easter sprinkles. I thought about going out and getting yellow stars for the tree tops and little Christmas sprinkles, but these were easy and still cute. 
I also used the extra frosting to make a few "peppermint swirl" cupcakes. 
Merry Christmas! 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Engagement Ring Powdered Donuts

  I made these powdered sugar engagement ring donuts to hand out as favors during wedding dress shopping with my sister. We had a group of 7 people total to help her find a dress, and while it didn't take long to find "the one," it was nice to have a little treat afterwards to help us celebrate.
I used these TastyKake mini donuts, simply because they were on sale for $1. Any small donuts would work, just adjust the "diamond" size accordingly.
 I just printed out these diamond images from clip art, adjusting them to be about 1.5-2" in height/width. Again, any size would work depending on the donut you use.
I cut out the diamonds and carefully taped a toothpick to the back. Make sure you tape the toothpick about halfway up the back of the diamond, otherwise they will fall off too easily.
Make sure you have about 2" of toothpick to stick into the donut so that they are secure. 
And carefully place the toothpick through the center of the donut.
It's okay if the toothpick isn't perfectly centered or is slightly visible, it won't be as noticeable once in the bag.
Once I put them in a Ziplock bag however, I was a little deflated about how they looked. There was too much space and they looked very "soccer mom" to me. (Not that there's anything wrong with that...).
So I folded the bag over, taping about 1/3 of the bag to the back of the remaining 2/3.
I cut strips of scrapbook paper, folding it over the tops to cover the blue Ziplock closure, stapling the bags at the top and both sides.  
Despite the three staples they were pretty easily to tear into, the scrapbook paper just slid right off once torn.
I used two scrapbook patterns in purple and pink, which are her wedding color and accent color.
Overall they were a huge hit and were really easy and cheap to make.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Easy DIY Sea Salt Cupcakes Using Kraft Caramels

These DIY sea salt caramel cupcakes look so professional you'd never realize they were made from store-bought Kraft caramels and took only a few minutes to make.
I first whipped up a batch of plain chocolate cupcakes.
 I love this recipe because of how the cupcakes dome up once baked .
 I almost always over-fill the cupcakes because I think it just makes them look better.
 Now for the caramels! I took a bag of your typical Kraft caramels and unwrapped them all (which takes forever...especially when it's so tempting to eat a few!)
I used this Morton's Sea Salt, which I've been putting on everything and found at the grocery store for less than $2.00. The flakes are larger and the flavor is slightly stronger than regular salt.
Warming up the caramels, I carefully kneaded and pulled the caramels into a flat, square shape. Adding a sprinkle of salt to the center, I folded the caramels into a shorter rectangular log. For some reason I felt like seeing perfectly square caramels screams "store bought Kraft caramels" but oblong, rectangular caramels seems homemade or gourmet.
To finish them off I added another sprinkle of salt to the top of the caramels, pressing it down slightly to make the salt stick.
 I know it looks like I used a ton of salt, but these were just the right amount of sweet and salty.
 Just stick them on top of the chocolate cupcakes and suddenly they go from being plain and simple cupcakes to looking like really legitimate cupcakes.
 But if that isn't enough for you...
 Top them with some caramel syrup!
I drizzled it back and forth over the whole batch for an extra special touch.
 Just be careful not to drizzle too early, I noticed that the leftover cupcakes after a day became soggy from the caramel drizzle, even the caramels weren't quite as fresh due to the moisture.
The ones eaten right away however were perfectly yummy and I received a lot of compliments on how professional they looked and how it must have taken me hours!
Little did they know it only took me a few minutes...but I won't tell if you don't!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Frozen Chocolate Graham Cracker Sandwiches

I recently bought these chocolate filled Graham crackers thinking that they would be really good crushed into vanilla yogurt (i really like having low-fat vanilla yogurt for breakfast but it only fills me up if i add granola or a crushed 100 calorie snack pack.) Unfortunately, the crackers really just weren't sweet enough for vanilla yogurt, they became a bit tasteless. Eaten alone, the chocolate squished out of the sides of the sandwich and made a crumbly mess. I was pretty disappointed...that is, until i had the genius idea to leave them in the freezer! Once frozen, the Graham cracker sandwiches are so good! The chocolate is more of a fudge and doesn't make a mess and somehow it feels like you're eating a dessert. I couldn't help but think it would be something my 2 year old nephew would love, but that won't keep me from buying them again!