Red, White and Blue Velvet Cupcakes!



As I have mentioned before, one of my favorite things about holidays is baking holiday themed desserts and the Fourth of July is no exception!   For my first Independence Day dessert I made Red, White and Blue Velvet Cupcakes. 

For me, Red Velvet is definitely a true American cake, and having the right color for the occasion made this the perfect cake flavor for the occasion.  Of course, I didn't just want to frost with them cream cheese frosting...more had to be done to dress up these cupcakes to celebrate our nation's birthday.  



Red, White and Blue Sprinkles were a must, and I love the stars and stripes cupcake liners that I found.  But my favorite part of the cupcake is the lobster on top! Being from New England nothing says summer to me more than Lobster!   And I think they are the perfect finnishing touch to this dessert.   Happy Fourth of July!  I will have at least one more Independence Day item in the next few days.


Cookies and Cream Cupcakes





Two of favorite things are cupcakes and oreos!  I have made these a  cupcakes a couple of times since I first saw these on Annie's Eats and I have gotten nothing but great reviews each time.   Since the first time I made these I have added more frosting.   The frosting is so great that I feel like each cupcake needs a good amount on top!

I also have made the chucks of oreo in the frosting a little bigger.  I like having something to bite into. I think it really make the cookie in the "cookies and cream."  The one problem I have found with the bigger oreo chucks is that I can't pipe the frosting because the chucks get caught in the tip. So rather than pipe the frosting I had to use a scoop instead.   But I think I'm starting to like the scoop for these cupcakes better than the tip - it looks almost like a scoop of ice cream!

Chocolate Cupcakes 

I used the Hershey's Chocolate Cake recipe for the cupakes.  

Ingredients
2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Directions 
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. 

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin).  Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely.


Cookies and Cream Frosting

Ingredients  
2 Cups Whipping Cream
4 tbsp powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
One Dozen Oreos Crushed
12 Oreos Halved for Garnish

Directions 
Combine cream, sugar and vanilla in a bowl.   Beat with a whisk attachment for 5 minutes until stiff peaks form.   Fold in crushed oreos.     Frost cooled cupcakes.   Garnish with oreo halves. 

Adapted from Annie's Eats


Campaign Cookies!


A very good friend of mine is running for Selectman in her hometown.   Her kick off event for her campaign was this last night and I brought cookies for the big event.   My original plan was make cookies that look like her bumper stickers.   But I wasn't thrilled when I originally started baking them.  Because the cookie cuter was so large I wasn't getting nearly enough cookies.  So, I decided to break out my circle cutters and make campaign buttons to bring with the bumper stickers!




Once I started using the circles I was a lot happier and getting much more cookies.  I decided to use different size circles for the buttons. I made almost 100 cookies and it was definitely time consuming.  Late into Thursday night when I was decorating I realized that I wasn't got to get all the detail work done that I was hoping to do.   The tiny cookies only  ended up just saying the candidates last name- but I think it ended up looking okay.






Overall I was pretty happy with how this came out.  I liked how they displayed together at the event.  The candidate was very happy and that was the most important thing!  

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cake


Chocolate and peanut butter and are two of my favorite combinations, and Mr. Apron loves peanut butter cups so when I saw this cake on Annie's Eats a few months ago, I knew I had to make it.   I originally made this cake in the fall for a family member's birthday and I made it again for a co-worker's birthday in March.   (You wouldn't believe how much peanut butter we keep in the office.)

I made a few changes to the cake.  Instead of filling it with peanut butter frosting, I filled it with chocolate buttercream mixed with broken up peanut butter cups.   And I used the left over chocolate buttercream to top the cake with the peanut butter cups.   

 

You can use any chocolate cake recipe for the cake.  I used the Magnolia Chocolate Buttermilk Cake recipe.

Magnolia Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted (either in microwave or over double boiler)
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and lightly flour two 9 x 2-inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with wax paper (I actually found that all of my cake pans are 1 1/2-inches deep...).

In a medium-size bowl, sift together the flour and the baking soda. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and the sugars until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the chocolate, mixing until well-incorporated.

Add the dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with the buttermilk and the vanilla extract, beating after each addition until smooth. Divide the cake batter between the prepared pans and bake for 25-35 minutes or until a cake tester (or fork, or toothpick) comes out clean.

To Assemble Cake:
Make two batches of peanut butter frosting, and one batch of chocolate buttercream. 

Hershey's Chocolate Buttercream

6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
2-2/3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa or HERSHEY'S SPECIAL DARK Cocoa
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chop in half one and half bags of mini peanut buttercups.  Mix about 1/3 of the peanut buttercups in the chocolate buttercream.  Spread 3/4 of the chocolate butter cream on top of one of the cake layers.

Place the unused cake layer on top of the layer with the butter cream.  Frost the top and sides with the peanut butter frosting.   Use the remaining chocolate frosting and peanut buttercups to garnish. 



Bunnies and Chicks and Eggs, Oh My!




Since I started doing sugar cookies with royal icing I love making cookies for the holidays and other special occasions and easter this year was no exception.   My initial plan for easter was to just do eggs and make a bunch of different colors and decorations.   But when I saw the chick and bunny cookie cutters I knew I had to do more than just eggs.  

I love the chicks-unfortunately they did not photograph very well.  I used yellow sparkling sugar over the icing, but it's hard to tell from this photo.   The sprinkles looked so much better in person.

Rather than plain white bunnies I made them a bit more colorful with pink and purple, which I think is a lot more fun than white.  I used white sparkling sugar to make the bunny tale, you can see it on the purple bunnies in the middle.  

(Disclaimer- I took this photo before I started blogging so I wasn't prepared to show different details for cookies in the photo.)

My favorite eggs are the purple with the diagnoial lines.   I used two different hues of pink for the lines and only put sprinkles on one of them, and I really liked the way they came out.  If I had more of the larger pink sugar pearls, I would have made more green eggs with the pink.  (I love putting pink and green together. It always reminds me of Lilly Pulitzer!)

I put green plastic easter grass on the platter to help dress up the cookies.  

Every time I work with royal icing I feel I learn something new.  This is was the first time I took on this many colors at once and it was definitely a pain to keep cleaning the squeeze bottles for flooding.  I have since bought a few more squeeze bottles to have so I don't have to keep washing them when I am trying to decorate.  With more squeeze bottles, Mr. Apron can help me with the clean when all the decorating is done.  







Strawberries and Cream Trifle


I went to a cookout this weekend and needed to bring dessert. Since there was only four of us eating and this is a group that tries to eat well and not over indulge I didn't want to make a huge cake or something that would have a huge amount of lefovers.  I finally decided to bring strawberries and cream trifle, knowing I could take advantage of the fresh strawberries and it wouldn't be a heavy dessert. 

I normally do not make many trifles- they are not challenging to me- but for some reasons they are a definite crowd pleaser.  Whenever someone brings one to a party people love them . My father has already requested a chocolate one for fathers day!   


This is not a hard dessert to explain how to make, however you will notice my use of liquor.  I am big fan of the adage, Candy Is Dandy But Liquor Quicker, and I think the small amounts used in this dish make all the difference.  

To Make the Trifle:  

Slice and hull  3 quarts of strawberries. Reserve several strawberries for garnish.  In a bowl combine the strawberries with two table spoons for sugar and 4 tablespoons of grand marneir,  refrigerate for at least three hours.  I like to let it sit overnight.  

For the cake, use your favorite yellow cake recipe.   For this trifle I used the recipe from the Joy of Baking.   I only used half of the cake for this trifle (my trifle bowl is on the smaller side).   Once the cake is cool, brush three or four tablespoons of rum on the top of the cake.   Then cut the cake into small bite sized pieces. 

Using one pint of heavy whipping cream, make fresh whipped cream.   If you have never made whipped cream before, here are Martha's instructions on how to make it. 

Assemble the trifle, alternating layers of sliced strawberries, whipped cream and cake. Garnish with the whipped cream and reserved strawberries.



 





 








Red Sox Cookies


One of my oldest and best friends turned 30 in May.   Not only was it her birthday but she is also pregnant with her first child.  So, when I talked to her husband about her party I knew I wanted to bring something special!  She is one of the biggest Red Sox fans I know-which is saying a lot living in Boston- so make Red Sox cookies was perfect!   


 


I wasn't sure what shapes to make at first, but I found a baseball cookie cutter set so I bought that and made all the different shapes except for the baseball globe.   I wish the baseballs themselves were bigger, when I make these cookies again I will get a bigger circle for the baseball. I also didn't like how the pennants came out.   Because they are larger than all the other cookies they look a bit longer to bake and the ribbons on the end did not make storage easy and many broke off in storage before I decorated them.  I think next time I will skip the pennants.

Overall I was pleased with how these came out and the birthday girl loved them!   I think my favorite shape are the jerseys.   As I write this up I am realizing it might be the right time for some basketball cookies.   

Sugar Cookies
6 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder 
1 teaspoon salt 
2 cups unsalted butter 
2 cups granulated sugar 
2 large eggs 
2 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Cream sugar and butter until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl and add to butter mixture. Mix well. Put a handful of the freshly made dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll to desired thickness. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Put the rolled dough, including the parchment paper, on a cookie sheet and refrigerate for 10 minutes or longer. Your dough will be chilled and ready to cut and bake with now wait and no added flour! Repeat with scraps after cutting cookies. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 -10 minutes. Let cool.

Source: Fancys Flours

Royal Icing
3 tablespoons Meringue Powder
4 cups confectioners' sugar sifted 
6 tablespoons warm water
Beat all ingredients until icing forms a peak (7-10 minutes at low speed with a heavy-duty mixer, 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand-held mixer). 

Source: Wilton

The Gemini Cake (Mixed Berries with White Chocolate)


I recently made a Birthday cake for one of my co-workers.   When I asked her what type of cake she wanted I mentioned berries, since its finally summer  and berries are readily available.   I love using berries in desserts, but I like using fresh, local products, which can get challenging in the Boston area in the winter and spring.

The plan for a berry cake were slightly altered when I learned that the birthday girl soes not like cream- so a the whipped cream filled I was thinking of was now out of the question.   So I searched for other ideas- I thought about cream cheese frosting and a vanilla buttercream.  But when I came across the idea for white chocolate buttercream I was sure I had the answer!  



The cake itself was a yellow cake ( my own recipe)  filled with strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries and the white chocolate buttercream.   More berries with a raspberries glazed topped the cake.  (There's a good shot the inside of the cake below-even though it was take with my blackberry).

When the office was eating the cake, the idea was suggested to called it the Gemini Cake since the berries are in season during Gemini birthdays.  That's how this cake was named Gemini.


White Chocolate Buttercream adapted from Bon Appetit.  

Thin Mint Cake


A few weeks ago a friend of mine asked me to make a birthday cake for her friend.   When we were trying to figure out what kind of cake to make the idea of mint came up.   I loved the idea, but then I realized I hadn't made a chocolate mint cake before.  I immediately thought of creme de menthe to get the mint flavor, but I wasn't sure what else to add to the cake, and whether the mint should used for the buttercream or the filling. 

I thought about a couple different options, but my favorite was using the girl scout cookie thin mints.   Unfortunately girl scout cookies are not available in the grocery store and it was well past cookie selling time.  I happen to mention this idea to a co-worker, and she knew that a mutual friend of ours happen to have an extra box of thin mints.  So thin mints were found and the chocolate mint cake was slowly coming together.

I finally decided on chocolate buttercream and using the mint for filling and topping.   I put a whole box of crushed thin mints in the filling and topping.  Unfortunately there are no pictures of the inside of the cake, but the filling is was like mint whipped cream with crushed thin mints.  

Every time I make a chocolate buttercream I change it up a little.  Each time trying something a little different trying to improve upon my previous creations.  Personally I was quite proud of the buttercream I made for this cake. It was chocolaty and creamy.   Mr. Apron thought it was the best I have made. 

My only regret with this cake is that I never got to taste an actual slice. I put some frosting, filling and left over cake from leveling, and I thought it came out very well, but I will need to try it again and get the full experience.



The chocolate butter cream and mint filing were my own creation, so I am not attaching the recipe.  But here is the chocolate cake recipe I used for this cake from Hereshey's.  I like this cake recipe and I use it often.   It never fails and it is a lot easier and less time consuming than some of the other ones I use the involve melting chocolate.

Bridal Shower Favors


This past weekend my sister has a bridal shower for a wedding she is the Maid of Honor for and she asked me to make the favors for the shower. 

I enjoy doing favors because I get to work with royal icing.  The first few times I tried royal icing the results were not very pretty, but like most acquired skills the more I practiced the better I have gotten.  I had done a similar cookie before, but I was not thrilled with the results.  I didn't like the way the detail work came out and the hearts didn't not looks as good.  Although these cookies are not perfect, I am much happier with these wedding cake cookies than my previous attempt. 

For these cookies I did a fuschia heart to compliment the black and fushia bridesmaids dresses.  I used fuschia colored sugar on top of the icing, but that part doesn't look as good in the photos.   The cake detailing also has sugar crystals on but it is hard to tell by the photos. 




Speaking of photos I am trying to get better taking photos of food.   I just use a photo and shoot camera, so I am not sure if I need something a little fancier, but I have a feeling it is mostly user error.  Like royal icing I hopefully I will get better with practice.  

The royal icing recipe I use is courtsey of Wilton.

Sugar Cookies- from Fancys Flours
Ingredients:

• 6 cups all-purpose flour

• 3 teaspoons baking powder

• 1 teaspoon salt

• 2 cups unsalted butter

• 2 cups granulated sugar

• 2 large eggs

• 2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions:

• Cream sugar and butter until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl and add to butter mixture. Mix well.

• Put a handful of the freshly made dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll to desired thickness. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Put the rolled dough, including the parchment paper, on a cookie sheet and refrigerate for 10 minutes or longer. Your dough will be chilled and ready to cut and bake with now wait and no added flour! Repeat with scraps after cutting cookies.

• Bake at 350 degrees for 8 -10 minutes. Let cool.

Welcome!

Welcome to the Pink Apron! 

After much encouragement from friends and family I am starting to collect and post my baking accomplishments.  Although I have already started collecting photos on Facebook, this will provide a more formal outlet for my baking.  I am not sure how often I will be updating, but my goal is at least one post per week and although I do plenty of other cooking beside baking, I have decided to keep this blog strictly desserts and baked goods!   After all isn't dessert the best part of the meal.  

If I use a recipe from a source (ie book, food network, another blog), I will always note where it came from.  But lately I have been creative in the kitchen so sometime I might want to keep my secret recipes a secret.

Since I already have a collection of photos from the past few months I will start by sharing baked goods I have made previously and as I continue working in the kitchen I will start putting up my newest accomplishments.