Stuffed Red Velvet Cupcakes

I don't like the idea of wasting leftover cake and icing, so where do my extras go?? My taste-testing coworkers, of course! I like to stop by their desks exclaiming "Free Cupcake Friday" or something stupid and delivering an extra special treat. Sometimes I don't make it to the delivery phase... they disappear as soon as I open the lid! My mom lovingly refers to my ravenous associates as "seagulls at the dump" when I describe how quickly sweets vanish at my office.
In making the Super Mario Kart Groom's cake, I had enough batter left to make a dozen cupcakes. 

Wanting to do something different, I decided to fill them with semi-sweet chocolate ganache.
 I scooped out the centers of the cupcakes with a small knife (set the cupcake middles aside) and filled the center with the chocolate ganache.

Semi-Sweet Chocolate Ganache Filling:
1 pkg. bittersweet/semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 12-14oz.)
½ cup heavy whipping cream
1. It’s a good idea to chop your chocolate pieces in a food processor first so they blend with the cream easily and don't create lumps.
2. Heat the whipping cream in a saucepan just to boiling point. DO NOT BOIL!!!
3. Remove from heat and add chocolate chips, stir until smooth and glossy.
I usually have to make this recipe twice since my first batch always seems to get too high in temperature. I advise keeping an extra bag of chocolate chips and buying a big enough carton of whipping cream until you get the hang of it. Or maybe it's just me and my impatience...

It’s also a good idea to make this recipe after the cupcake middles have been scooped out so that it’s still an easily pourable consistency.
I like to let the ganache set before applying the frosting so I get a nice clean finish without the two running together. While the ganache was solidifying, I mashed up the red velvet cupcake middles into a dough-like cake ball and rolled it flat. I used a greased star shaped fondant cutter to cut the star shapes to place on top after icing... so festive!

I used a hybrid mix of cream cheese icing and vanilla buttercream to top these off. I’m not a big fan of cream cheese icing so I needed to add the buttercream to sweeten it up to my liking. I'm actually not a lover of cream cheese when it is not in it’s original cream cheese state… so yes, that means I’m not a fan of cheesecake. Tragic, I know. I really wish I was but I guess it’s a good thing (for my waistline) that I'm not.

I don’t have a recipe for that hybrid icing just yet. I just plopped some leftover sweet vanilla buttercream in my mixer along with the fresh cream cheese icing I had just made and blended it all together.

  I used and recommend Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Red Velvet Cake Mix. It’s tasty and very very very red – which on the upside keeps you from having to play around with that messy red food coloring!!

I should’ve made these for the 4th of July! They’d be cute with blue fondant stars on top! Maybe next year…


Final Lap for Groom

You can usually predict my next move by what I claim I will never do. For instance, I swore I would never ever ever ever over my dead body wear bell bottoms... until one day I bought a rainbow polyester pair with purple daisies on them to wear with an orange short sleeve mock neck velour shirt. What did I think I was in the 70s?? Okay, I admit I should've stuck to my promise about that trend but afterall bell bottoms did catch on for awhile. 

I also swore I would never join a sorority. That was until I fell in love with legally Blonde and joined Tri-Sigma first semester my sophomore year in college. Unlike the bell bottoms, I don't regret that decision. I also vowed I would never start a blog... yet here I am typing away about stuff no one cares about. I know the internet is flooded with tons of people writing about every topic under the sun (and some not of this earth) but I admit it feels good to jot down my thoughts and share my experiences in baking with someone, even if no one is reading them. 

Now let's see if my not wanting to get married and have kids holds true! 
Marriage may or may not be for me but that doesn't mean I won't cater to those who are getting married. One of my sorority sisters was getting married and asked me to help her by making a groom's cake for the rehearsal dinner. She requested a red velvet Super Mario Kart themed cake after seeing the Super Mario Bros. cake I made for a coworker.

The cake tiers are double layer 8" and 12" rounds covered in cream cheese icing and fondant. Mario and the "final lap" cloud are made from gumpaste.

 My figure making skills are coming along nicely. It must be all those days of my childhood spent making a mess with Play-Doh that helped out!

I have to say that although red velvet cake is really yummy, it is a pain to clean up after! Everything in my kitchen, dining room and living room were stained red! Ok, well not everything but it seemed that way. My sink looked like it witnessed a massacre after rinsing all my baking utensils in it.
My best advice is to cover all your baking surfaces with a disposable tablecloth and use vinyl gloves when working with this red-dyed cake.


South Beach Style Bridal Shower

The past two years, a bunch of my close girlfriends and I took a trip to South Beach as an early fall getaway. This year one of them is getting married in the Dominican Republic so we'll all be taking a trip to attend her destination wedding. We'll be staying in Punta Cana, which is absolutely beautiful-I've been before and loooved it, but we're all still missing our girl's trip to SoBe. Her lovely maid of honor decided to throw her a South Beach themed bridal shower and employed me to make her cake.

The bride-to-be always gravitates towards bright colors like orange and pink - her bridesmaid dresses are orange and she's even wearing pink shoes with her wedding dress - so I used those colors to create her cake.

I made an 8" 2 layer orange flavored cake & a 12" 2 layer vanilla cake and covered them in vanilla buttercream. **Special thanks to a generous friend for letting me take over her air conditioned kitchen and helping me safely transport the cake to the final destination! Although we almost had a huge mishap with an unexpected pothole... but nonetheless, it arrived perfectly**

This was my first attempt at gumpaste, I used Wilton's website to learn how to make the pink ruffled fantasy flowers. I think they added a much needed tropical flair to the cake. I used two tone orange fondant strips to cover the sides of the cake and vanilla buttercream to pipe the scrolly design.
The orange flavor was a favorite... I'll definitely do more fruit flavors in the future!
Best wishes to the beautiful bride-to-be!!


Carnival of Fun

I'm pretty sure most kids won't remember their 1st Birthday cakes other than what they'll see from pictures but I still think kid's celebration creations are the most fun. I admittedly have a terrible memory... but I do somehow remember a birthday cake I had when I was about 5 or 6. It was a sheet cake with fluffy whipped icing covered in an airbrushed zoo design with mounds of blue sweet buttercream "ponds." The topper was a menagerie of plastic zoo animals, trees, and cages. That was the best present of all! I held on to the plastic toys like they were gold... I'm sure they're lurking in my parent's basement tucked away with all my other little treasures that were once so highly valued.

Anyway, where I'm going with this is... I was asked to make a Circus themed cupcake tower for my friend's son's first birthday party. She showed me the super cute party supplies she ordered through Oriental Trading and I used some of the elements to design matching cupcakes.

"Ladies & Gentlemen! Boys & Girls! Step right up! Step right up!"

I made popcorn cupcakes with vanilla buttercream and mini marshmallows painted with yellow food coloring. I used a scissor to cut into some of the marshmallows and make them look more like kernels.

Next up, little lion head cupcakes. I added cocoa powder to the buttercream to get the different shades for the lion's face and mane.

I had to buy these silly yet cute yet creepy clown heads while taking a Wilton cake decorating class but ended up conveniently forgetting to take them to the class with me... oops. Glad to put them to good use here on these brightly pleasant little cupcakes. (On the up side... they are no longer lurking in the storage bin under my bed - phew!)

I tried to stripe the inside of a plastic icing bag with different food colors but I didn't get a very strong color effect like I had wanted. I decorated them with pre-made royal icing decorations from Wilton. How could you resist those cute faces?

Here's an assortment.

What's a circus without a big top?
I carved this out of four 8" round layers. I ended up wasting quite a bit of cake this way - and when I say wasting, I mean eating it with my roommate. I'm sure there was a better way but I didn't think it all the way through. I covered the tent in buttercream and cut out red fondant strips from Chef Duff's new product line at Michaels to cover the sides. I used Satin Ice fondant for the white stripes and tent scallops. Doesn't it look inviting?
"Come closer, you won't believe your eyes behind this curtain! Step right up!"

Circus tower of 1st Birthday fun.

Lots of children running around and heat didn't allow for the cupcake tower to stand in all it's glory but still looks pretty cute at the party.

Isaiah - the birthday boy!!
Side note- I ran out of Crisco for the vanilla buttercream and it was late at night so I used an organic shortening I found at a local market... not a good idea. It changed the consistency considerably! It didn't taste much different but was quite a bit grainier and I had to add extra powdered sugar to make up for the droopiness. No more organic shortening experimentation for me!
I also used organic eggs for the cupcakes. The first egg I cracked had two yolks. Does that count as one egg? or two? I still don't know, I counted it as one.