Monday, September 26, 2011

Ice Cream Cones That Won't Melt In Your Hands!

I had some leftover cake pop mixture left over from last week and wanted to find something to do with it.  Of course,  I turned to Bakerella and found these amazing ice cream cone cake truffles.  I could not wait to give them a try myself!  Certainly they did not turn out nearly as perfect, but, as the title clearly states, I am a beginner and proud of my first attempt!

To start, you need some cake truffle mixture.  Click here for instructions to assemble it.  Next, find a box top  or something similar for a makeshift cone holder.  I used a candy box.  Taking a knife, I cut "X" shapes to set the cones into after dipping so the chocolate could set.

It is best to prepare this before assembling the cones so you are not stuck when you begin dipping.  Now, roll the cake mixture into balls and press into the cones.  Be somewhat firm so the balls will not fall out while dipping them into the chocolate.  Place them in the refrigerator for an hour or in the freezer for 10 minutes or so.

A few minutes before your pops have chilled and are ready to be dipped, begin melting the chocolate.  I used Wilton melting chocolate, which can be purchased at craft stores.  I heated them in the microwave for 30 second intervals on power level 2.  Repeat until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.

Next, the dipping.  Coat the cake with chocolate and don't worry about imperfections, a bit of a rough texture creates more of an ice cream scoop effect and the drips look completely natural for ice cream.

I had to dip the white chocolate cones twice, because the chocolate cake showed through the coating.  I also made some pink ice cream cones, but I didn't like those as much.

Once the "ice cream" coating dried completely, I melted a small amount of chocolate to make "hot fudge" for the cones.  I melted a bit of red to make the cherries.  You can embellish the cones with sprinkles or jimmies, anything that suits you!

This is a more forgiving process than actual cake pops, since drips and drops actually work in the design, so you might want to give them try!

Summer may be over, but these ice cream cones will be a great treat all year 'round!  Enjoy.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

These Little Piggies Did Not Come From The Market - They're Homemade!

Last week I was excited to fill an order for piglet cookies and cupcakes.  My friend is attending a wedding this weekend, which is taking place on a farm.  The guests were asked to bring a treat for a potluck dessert buffet and my friend wanted to bring something to do with the farm theme.  She settled on pigs and I was delighted.  I love working with pink!

Next week I will post step-by-step instructions on baking, icing, and packaging iced cookies.  For this particular order, however, I was concentrating on the work rather than trying to photograph each part of the process.  Here is a quick run through in the meantime of my upcoming sugar cookie post.

After browsing online for decoration inspiration, I had ideas of adding hooves and a curly tail.  In the end, however, I settled on a minimalist pig  - simple icing and a sugar candy edible eye.  I began by outlining the cookie with thick pink icing made with sugar and sifted confectioners sugar:

Next, I filled the pig in with some thinned icing (I added a very small amount of water to the thick icing mixture) that flowed more easily.  I used a toothpick to nudge the icing to toward the edges until the outline was completely filled:

 Then, viola, a happy, pink piglet!

How cute are they?!  Adorable.  I left them to dry overnight before packaging them.  It's important the icing is completely set or it will smoosh and ruin your hard work!

To make the cupcakes I found this adorable version of a piglet and followed it pretty closely.  Begin by cutting large marshmallows in half (I used scissors).  Place the sticky side down onto the cupcake to create a snout.  Use edible eyes (I purchased some a Micheal's Crafts) to place above the snout.  Now things are coming together!  I piped the sugar cookie icing on to the marshmallow snout to tie together the colors of  the cupcakes and cookies.  Here are some cupcakes frosted in pink-dyed vanilla buttercream with their edible eyes and marshmallow snouts:

To add the ears, cut strawberry wafer cookies in diagonals and place them above the eyes:

I just love them!! And my friend who ordered them was very pleased, as well.   I hope they made it safely to the farm wedding for everyone to enjoy.  They were sent off dressed in their finest:

Congratulations to Tatiana and Graham on their wedding day!  I hope it was spectacular.  :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake Pops

This week has been busy, busy, BUSY! I'm still trying to set up a workable schedule for myself with baking, household chores/errands and the gym. My trainer has ramped up my workouts, which has left me with less energy than usual the last few days. I have never been a regular coffee drinker, but now I'm considering starting the day with some caffeine. Hopefully, it won't come to that and I can push through!

My next post will feature some "Piggy" creations - cupcakes and cookies. They are not quite done yet, so in the meantime I thought I would share another cake pop flavor combination - chocolate covered cherry cake. I was hoping it would turn out as tasty as I imagined, and they did!  When I tried one it was so similar to eating a candy chocolate covered cherry, which is one of my favorite treats.  Yum!

You will need Cherry Chip cake mix, Cherry Frosting, and melted dark chocolate.  I used a box cake because the Queen of cake pops, Bakerella, said it's okay.  And she is CRAZY creative and penned an incredible book, which inspired me to start making them.  If she's said it's alright, that's good enough for me!  Instead of the Wilton chocolate I usually use I tried the Merckens brand and the difference was amazing. Merckens not only tasted better, the melted consistency was also much smoother for dipping and set with such a lovely sheen to it. The colors are much more vibrant, as well. I'm going to use it exclusively now.  

Click here for the instructions on assembling the cake pops.  Make sure to leave yourself a few hours for this project. They are time consuming and can be frustrating, but the results make me feel satisfied every time.  And, people love them!  I sent the chocolate covered cherry pops to work with my husband and they were a huge hit!  The birthday girl loved them.  Nothing makes me happier.  :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Chocolate Covered Oreo Cookies

As I mentioned in my previous chocolate molding post, I also bought a chocolate mold specifically for covering Oreo cookies (the molds will be labeled as such, so you can be sure they will be deep enough to cover the Oreos completely).  Once again, I will say I need to do a bit more research regarding melting and molding chocolate.  This mold, like the dice mold I used prior, had a raised design surface.

I wanted to paint an outline of the glass with white and then "fill" the glass with pink to mimic a cosmopolitan.  Had I chosen a simple design and used only one color of chocolate to start, I believe I would have been more successful.  The extra step of staging colors and/or painting part of the mold is a whole other ballgame.  It requires a steady hand and precision, which, I must admit, I lack.  Here is an example of my difficulty with staying in the lines:

Perhaps if I had painting experience or had any artistic ability this would have come more naturally to me.  Maybe, but I am going to go with the-chocolate-was-too-thick excuse (actually it was!).  My next idea was to color the martini glass in all pink.  This was easier, but not without error.  I used a toothpick to trim the glass edges and hoped for the best.  They turned out better:

Finally, after the chocolate has set and you ease them out of the mold and it's finally time to take a bite, it's all worth the effort!:

You can never go wrong with an Oreo cookie and smothering them in chocolate seems like the right thing to do.  :)  I recommend trying this, they would make a great snack, dessert, or party favors.  You can put them on sticks and make chocolate covered Oreo lollipops (just make sure to use Double Stuff Oreos in place of the regular cookies).  Happy Molding!!

Black Velvet Cupcakes

A family friend of my Husband and mine is celebrating a birthday this week.  I wanted to use some of the edible glitter hearts I purchases and thought they'd look great with a black cupcake.  I was hoping for a sophisticated looking treat.  I do think I achieved the effect I was going for, but I have to admit the cupcake itself was not so tasty.  I am not even going to post the recipe because I cannot recommend anyone to make these themselves.  I'm not sure if it was the taste of the black dye, but this cake has a not-so-pleasant aftertaste.

I did find some adorable boxes to transport cupcakes.  I am thrilled to have a more attractive way of presenting my baked goods.  It's a shame these cupcakes don't taste very good, because they look wonderful!

I will tweak this recipe to make it more appetizing.  I love the idea of black cupcakes.  In the meantime, however, I am going to make some cute pink cherry chip cupcakes for our friend's special day.  I do want her to have a happy birthday, after all!

UPDATE:  I have since made delicious Black Velvet Cupcakes, which I have happily shared the recipe for!  Click here for the recipe!

Chocolate Dice Bunco/Casino Cupcakes

My latest interest has been molded chocolates. I was browsing through a cute shop that specializes in melting chocolates and molds and discovered the possibilities are endless and a bit overwhelming! Wandering around I felt like a kid in a candy store. Oh, wait, I guess I actually was (minus the kid part)! I tend to be an impulse shopper so I took my time and finally settled on a few molds that seemed as though they would be good for beginners. Right.

Let's start with the dice. Very simple mold. White dots, red chocolate. Easy. Except that I made the chocolate dots too thick, so when I added the red chocolate, the white melted and ran into the red. And the air bubbles! I did tap the mold against the counter to rid the chocolate of air bubbles, as is recommended.  However, I wasn't entirely successful and there were random, tiny holes in my dice. 

Examples of the dice should NOT look.  ;)
Sigh.  Obviously chocolate molding isn't as easy as I thought it would be!  I'd prefer to ice cookies any day of the week.  Since I purchased the chocolates and molds, though, I persevered and finally had some decent looking dice.  I baked chocolate cupcakes, mixed up some buttercream icing, and topped them with the chocolate dice.  These will be cute for a casino theme party.  I think the finished product looks great!  Unfortunately, my husband had our "good" camera while I was making these chocolates, so I was not able to document the process of making the dice.  I also made chocolate covered Oreos, which I'll cover in another post, that I was not able to document, as well..  When making my next set of chocolates I will definitely be photographing the process!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tiffany's - Not Just For Breakfast!

To begin this week I wanted to make something fun, so I chose to bake "Tiffany" blue colored cake pops. For an extra bit of color I made a deep pink strawberry cake for the inside. I love the way they turned out! The only challenge I faced was the consistency of the chocolate. It was too thick to smoothly coat the pops. After some research I found that Paramount Crystals will do a great job of thinning the chocolate, so I will buy some and try it for myself. I'll do another cake pop post once I have them and let you know the results! In the meantime, onto the "Tiffany" pops!

After baking a cake and letting it completely cool, it must be broken down into a sand-like texture. One way to do this is to cut the cake into fourths. Take two pieces at a time and "sand" the cake chunks by rubbing them together. The method I use is taking a fork and gently running it through the cake repeatedly until it turned into fine crumbs.

Next, add frosting. This is a tricky thing. If you add too much the cake does not stay put on the sticks while dipping into the chocolate. If you add too little, the cake will not form into balls and keep their shape. One tip I can share - ADD A LITTLE FROSTING AT A TIME! You can always add more, but you can not take excess frosting out. You may be surprised by the small amount of frosting that goes a long way. For approximately 3/4 of a cake I added about 2 large spoons full of frosting. It was plenty. After mixing (with a spoon to fully incorporate the cake and frosting) you should have a sticky, doughy result that can be shaped into balls.

Proceed to roll the mixture into balls. Some like to use a cake pop/cookie scoop for size consistency. I do it by hand and don't find have any issues. For now, that works just fine for me. Once the ball is rolled place it on a cookie sheet. Repeat until you have used all of the cake/frosting mixture.

Next, you will do one of two things. You can either place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for a few hours, or in the freezer for 5-10 minutes. I can be at times impatient, so I use the freezer method. Beware, however, if the balls are too cold when you dip them, the chocolate coating will crack. It's a fine balance that you will work out through practice, trial and error.

While the chilling is happening, begin the chocolate melting process. I used Wilton chocolate melting discs. You can also use white chocolate bark, and I will be investigating Ghiradelli melting chocolate, which I have read tastes GREAT and has a nice sheen to it. I have many bags of the Wilton chocolate, however, and until it's used up will not be purchasing any more! Okay, so now melting the chocolate (I use the microwave method. An alternative is to use a double boiler):

Pour the chocolate melting chips into a microwavable bowl. Heat at 30 second increments on power setting 2

Stir the chocolate at each 30 second interval. It will appear lumpy and seem like it will never be smooth, but have faith and continue heating!

Finally, smooth, melted chocolate.

Now it's time to add the color. When dyeing chocolate, you MUST use candy dye. Using icing colors will not work, it will cause oil separation and ruin the chocolate. I used Wilton Candy Dye. You can purchase it at craft stores, such as Michael's.

To achieve that classic Tiffany Blue color, add small amount of the blue candy color to white chocolate. Since it was my first time and I was nervous about adding too much blue, I used a toothpick to add the coloring. Once again, you have to just kind of use trial and error to get the color right. Also, again, you can add more coloring, but you can't remove it once it's once it been mixed! Eventually, I achieved the right hue. Be sure to time the melting and coloring of the chocolate so it will be complete at the same time your cake balls are finished chilling. Remove them from the refrigerator or freezer and get your lollipop sticks (can be purchased at a craft store, such as Michael's) ready - it's time to dip!

Every girl's favorite shade of blue!
Unfortunately, with only two hands (and both were busy dipping), I could not photograph the process of making cake pops, so I'll have to describe the last few steps. First, take a lollipop stick and dip about an inch and a half into the chocolate. Insert the stick inside a cake ball approximately 3/4 of the way up. Next, dip the cake ball into the chocolate and make sure the entire ball is covered and the bottom is sealed with chocolate. If you don't seal the entire ball the cake will ooze out. Once you've gotten reached this point in the time consuming process, you don't want small openings in the chocolate  to ruin your pop! Once the pop is coated, let the chocolate set by placing the it into a piece of styrofoam to keep it upright (pre-poke holes in the styrofoam before dipping into the chocolate). Here is an example of "setting" cake pops:

And there you have your cake pops! Here is a finished Tiffany pop. I love it:

Add a plastic wrapper with some ribbon and you have a beautiful party favor, dessert offering, or snack!

They are quite time consuming, but worth it. If you have a few hours you can set aside, try making cake pops yourself and enjoy!!

P.S. Tiffany did not compensate me for this mention. I just LOVE everything Tiffany!  Who doesn't?  :)

I shared this recipe on:  Things that make you say Mmmmm....Monday


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