Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pot Of Gold Cupcakes

 Because of our Irish heritage, we always celebrate St. Patrick's Day with a traditional meal. That also means that if you don't wake up with green on, everyone will pinch you until you do. Needless to say I am always in green (and yes, underwear DOES count, LOL) St. Patrick's Day cupcakes are an example of some of the sweets that I make every year. This year I wanted to decorate them a little different. I decided to do little pots of gold.


I started off with my yellow cupcakes. Using an open star tip I cut out a whole in the center of each one. I then filled them with lemon pastry filling. So not only do they have a gold pot, but they also have a golden surprise on the inside.
 I then piped the green grass on each cupcake using the #233 (Wilton) grass tip. Some of them look like the wind is blowing!! That wasn't supposed to happen, LOL.
 I then pipped the black pot on top of the grass. I just used a #2A (Wilton) round tip. To pipe on the gold pieces I used a #4 (Wilton) round tip. Enjoy!!

Thanks for looking, and  
Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies


One of my family's favorite things to eat are my homemade chocolate chip cookies. My husband knows that all he has to do is ask, and I will make them for him no matter what time of day it is. When I first started making them years ago, I had some trouble. I tried using the recipe that was on the bag of chocolate morsels, but noticed that once they cooled they would start to harden. I wanted them to actually stay as soft as possible and still be cooked in the middle. After many test batches (no one seemed to complain) I have come up with a recipe that works for me every time. Before I start making my dough I turn my oven on to the desired temperature in order to preheat it.
You have to start with room temperature butter or margarine. I test mine to see if it is ready by peeling back the wrapper and pressing my finger into it. If my finger can make an imprint without putting any pressure then it is ready. I have tried melting and cooling the butter and then mixing it with the other ingredients. This causes the cookies to just spread when they are cooking. Instead of having 12 individual cookies you end up with 1 or 2 large flat cookies. They still taste good, but they aren't pretty. 
 I then put my butter and sugars into my mixing bowl.
Using a hand mixer I cream these 3 ingredients on low speed. To make it easier on yourself and your mixer, you can use a table top mixer.
Don't forget to scrape the sides of your bowl so that everything gets evenly mixed together.
I then add in my eggs and vanilla and mix them on low speed until they are incoprated.
 Then I add all of the pre-measured dry ingredients, and mix the dough on low speed again. Don't forget to scrape the sides.
  This time your mixer is going to sound like it is working very hard, because you are working with a much stiffer dough. If you feel that the hand mixer can't handle the strain, the dough can be mixed by hand. Now you have a perfect cookie dough ready for any type of morsels and nuts. One of my favorite combinations is white chocolate morsels and tosted macadamia nuts. Mmmm!!
But, today all I have are milk chocolate morsels. I only use half of the 11.5 oz package, because I personally don't like the chocolate over powering the actual cookie dough. I mix in the morsels by hand until they are evenly distributed.
Now they are ready to be placed on the cookie sheet. I always use parchment paper to line my cookie sheets when making cookies. In order to have each cookie be the same size I use a small ice cream scoop. This one I found at my local craft store, and it was labled "Cookie Scooper".
Scoop out dough and smooth off the top by sliding the full scoop up the side of the bowl.
Place each scoop of dough about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet. If they are placed to close they will just stick together. Now they are ready to be baked.
The cookies are done when they are golden brown. Allow them to cool slightly on the cookie sheet before removing them. If you try to take them off to soon they will fall apart.
Remove them from the cookie sheet and place them on a cooling rack to finish cooling completely. A couple of them are missing, because they took a detour to my belly. Shh...don't judge!!
  
Chocolate Chip Cookies (Yield 36-48 cookies)
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 of a 11.5 once bag of  chocolate morsels

Bake 9-11 minutes at 375' F.
Enjoy!!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Elmo

One of the most popular characters for young children is Elmo. Both girls and boys love Elmo and there are so many ideas out there for parties. I wanted to make this face 2-D so that it would not just be a flat picture. I put the eyes on first using a #2A Wilton pastry tip. I made a big dot for the white parts and then a smaller dot for the black part. This made it easier for me to judge where the fur should start. As a rule of thumb I always have a picture of what I am making beside me for reference while I am working. I then used the #234 Wilton tip (grass tip) for the fur. For the mouth I used a #2 Wilton tip. For the nose I used the same tip as the eyes. It is supposed to be orange but after sitting for a little while it started to get white streaks. I think the main reason for this was that the entire cake was dairy free. Therefore, in the "Buttercream" Frosting I used a buttery spread made with olive oil. I didn't want to use just shortening, because the taste is horrible. I think the white streaks are the oils separating from the sugar. It didn't happen with any other color but the orange though. The numbers and letters on the side where done with the #2 Wilton tip and the shell border was done with a large closed star tip. I should have used a smaller one because the border looks too large for the cake. No matter what I, as always, had a lot fun making this cake. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me. Thanks and enjoy!!