Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ashley's Monthly Bake Sale - January

My monthly bake sales have become something I really look forward to. I've been fortunate to find some recipes that have been real homeruns. January's recipe is one of those. I adore Ina Garten, & I had previously used her Outrageous Brownie recipe for one of my bake sales. I had remembered watching an episode of Barefoot Contessa where she made coconut cupcakes that were gorgeous. Now let me tell you right off the bat that I hate coconut...I hate the flavor & I hate the texture. Buuuut the girls at work all said that they love the stuff, so I wanted to make a coconut cupcake for them & went right away to Ina's recipe. In true Ina fashion, it did not disappoint. I love, love, love these cupcakes! Me, little Miss "I hate coconut," thought they were sooooo good! All my girls loved them too. They don't look nearly as beautiful as Ina's did, but the taste completely makes up for it.

Ina Garten's Coconut Cupcakes

3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut
For the frosting:
1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 1/2 pounds confectioners' sugar, sifted
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of coconut.
Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth.
Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.
Makes about 2 dozen.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Amano is Amazing!

That's right, folks, two chocolate posts in a row! I told you I love the stuff!! I wrote a post a while ago about the opportunity I had to sample Amano chocolate & how much I loved it. Loved it! Art Pollard from Amano Chocolate gave a few of BlakeMakes' Sooper Heros a chance to try his new Jembrana chocolate. This chocolate comes from the Jembrana region of Bali, Indonesia, & in true Amano style it is amazing! Out of all kinds of chocolate, dark is by far my favorite, & Amano makes quite possibly the best I've ever tasted. This little beauty of a bar is in my desk drawer at work, & I have to have a little square every day!

Art, you've outdone yourself again! Thank you so much for letting us taste your amazing chocolate! Thanks as always to Blake of BlakeMakes!!

Chocolate Cake Yumminess!!

I feel I should start this post by saying that I love should be a food group all it's own! Back in October I was lucky enough to be graced with the chance to try a chocolate cake mix that is Peanut/Egg/Dairy/Nut Free made by Cherrybrook Kitchen. We were also given chocolate frosting that is Peanut/Egg/Dairy/Nut Free, & it's also Vegan. Now I know you're thinking "Ick!", but let me just tell you this stuff is fabulous! It's so great for anyone with food allergies! I have a younger cousin with several different food allergies, & Cherrybrook Kitchen's products would be perfect for her. I highly recommend trying any of these products if you ever get the chance...the cupcakes that I made were soooo yummy! They certainly satisfied my chocolate craving!

I love the's so cute!

Just out of the oven.

Notice there are 2 missing...Mom & I couldn't help but dig in right away!

Thanks a million to BlakeBakes & Cherrybrook Kitchen!!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Baby Cakes & Mishaps

Oh look...another day, another post! I'm doing better I tell ya!

Back at the beginning of last year, I had the pleasure of making a wedding shower cake for my cousin, Tosha. She & her husband are now expecting a baby girl in a couple of weeks, & her sister asked me to make the cake the baby shower. There's no way I was going to say no! I had never tried a multi-tiered cake before, so I really wanted to try one for this cake. I was given a couple of the napkins to be used at the shower for inspiration, & this is what I came up with...

Now this is what the cake looked like this morning before we left the house. When we got to the shower...not so much. The fondant decorations had started to droop & pull down the buttercream icing with them. It didn't look horrible, but it wasn't that great either. I didn't want to give her a crappy looking cake. Everyone said how much they liked it, though, & it did taste really good...I can't complain too much, I suppose.

So I have a question to all of you seasoned cake much internal support should go into a cake like this? It's a 8" on top of a 10", & there are 4 rather small wooden dowels in the middle of bottom tier. Help a girl out!

Anyway, that's my dilemma for the day. I've got a couple of Blake Makes posts coming up so stay tuned!!!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Christmas Cookies Rock My Socks

Hello my lovelies!! I am so completely behind on posting that I figure I'll just start at Christmas & work my way forward. (Why Christmas, you ask? Because I love Christmas!!) This year I made it my personal mission to make some super freaking cute Christmas cookies. Since I'm absolutely in love with the book Cookie Craft, I decided to use the cookies in the book as inspiration. I made a double batch of the sugar cookie recipe in the book & a single batch of the gingerbread recipe, & let me just tell you I had cookies everywhere! I can honestly say that I spent 3 solid hours at the kitchen table decorating cookies, but I loved every minute of it. These little beauties went to my office Christmas party with me, & everyone fell in love with them.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy 2009!

Happy New Year!!!

I have severely neglected my poor little blog, so one of my new years resolutions is to update this thing A LOT more often! It's been so long since I've posted any of my work that I'll probably spend the next month or so catching up on some of my favorites. The holidays were very busy for me, so I've got a lot to show off!

I hope 2009 is an amazing year for everyone!