So, I guess I'm on a peppermint kick now. Tonight, my friend Marie (remember her...she LOVES peppermint) came to NJ for dinner. I made a delicious (if I do say so myself) shrimp and lobster scampi, and my mom, Marie, and myself had a little girls night. Tomorrow is New Years Eve. We are going to a party at my college roommate, Megan's, house. She too, LOVES peppermint. When we were in college, I used to buy her industrial size boxes of york peppermint patties, and the entire box would be gone in a week. So, the perfect thing to make for dessert for Marie's dinner and to bring to Megan's for New Years was chocolate cupcakes with peppermint buttercream frosting. I made these last Christmas...but today I did something slightly different. I added heavy cream to the icing instead of milk. It resulted in a much creamier buttercream. I also used a different piping technique. My mom insisted that I stage the photos to show some residual Christmas cheer. Enjoy!
Wow. It's been almost a month since I've blogged. Yes, I've been busy...just not really baking or cooking too much. On black friday, my mom and I took a short break from our day of shopping to stop at the Cheesecake Factory and have lunch. For dessert, we had their seasonal cheesecake which is a white chocolate peppermint bark cheesecake on a flourless chocolate cake crust topped with white chocolate mousse. I was in love with this cheesecake and of course I became determined to recreate it. I consulted with the law school's resident cheesecake connoisseur who gave me a few cheesecake tips.
I decided to do 2 peppermint cheesecakes...mainly because my very good friend Marie is obsessed with chocolate and peppermint and because my other friends always love my baked goods. For the first one, I followed my cheesecake lady's directions and baked the cheesecake in a water bath. Since I've never made a full size cheesecake, I had no idea when it was done. The recipe said to take it out of the oven when the center was "just set", but who knows what that means. So, I took it out...let it cool to room temp...took away the springform pan and watched it fall apart. I quickly replaced the pan and stuck it in the fridge over night in the hope that it would set. It did. I got it out of the pan the next morning and covered the sides with chocolate chips to cover the mess.
I repeated the process for Christmas Eve with my family. Don't tell my cheesecake lady, but I skipped the water bath this time. Yes, the cheesecake cracked...but at least it didn't fall apart...and I topped the whole thing with white chocolate mousse anyway so it looked fine.
So, here's how I did the cheesecake...brownie crust (because I couldn't figure out how to do the flourless chocolate cake crust without it drying out after 1.5 hrs in the oven), white chocolate cheesecake with peppermint swirl, and white chocolate mousse. We also had the Ciechanowski's famous banana cream pie, lemon bars and red velvet truffles made by Kelly, and my mom's cookies.
My mom made around 2500 Christmas cookies...all by herself!!! These are just a fraction of the cookies she made. Then, she didn't have school all week since we had a blizzard...so now she has 2500 cookies at home...mwhahaha. Now you see where I get my love of baking.
For 40 years, a favorite of 2 year-olds has been Sesame Street. We loved it as kids...and kids today still love it. So, for Avery's 2nd birthday, what would be better than Cookie Monster and Elmo cupcakes?
I made the Cookie Monster cupcakes by putting a layer of blue buttercream on the cupcake, placing a cookie on top, putting another heap of buttercream on top of the cookie for his head, sticking on marshmallows for his eyes, and then piping buttercream "fur" all over him. For the Elmo cupcakes (since red buttercream is really difficult to make) I used red jimmies.
I think this is it with the baking until after finals...we'll see...
Delaware is a seriously small world. I mean, there are less than a million people here, after all. So, when talk of my cupcakes made 4 people realize they had mutual friends, it was pretty standard. The person who started this cupcake talk was Kara. She's a friend and patient of Greg's and a friend of one of the attorneys I work with. She loves cupcakes, but for her husband's birthday, she wanted to do a cake. Her hubby loves sports, and since it's football season, I made him an Eagles cake. It's a vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream. I cut out an Eagles green circle of fondant and placed it on top. Then, I cut the Eagles logo out of fondant, and piped buttercream for the writing and side decorations. I rolled up balls of fondant for the bottom.
Some of the color was distorted when I took the pics below. The true color is in the first pic.
Back to pumpkin. You all know (or you should know) that I love pumpkin. In the last few weeks, I made pumpkin chocolate chip cake twice and pumpkin brown butter cupcakes with cream cheese frosting (yum)...they didn't make it to the blog. Last night, I had a bunch of friends over for dinner and game night. I made spinach artichoke dip, guacamole, pico de gallo, corn salsa, and fried plantains for appetizers; baked ziti, meatballs, and garlic bread for dinner; and a pumpkin banana mousse tart and homemade pumpkin ice cream for dessert. Marie brought an amazing salad (I know, I hate salad...but this one was awesome) and Mike brought a sweet potato pecan pie (yum!).
This torte was a little different for me. It was the first time ever that I used a springform pan....well, I guess that's the only difference. I really thought that the banana would overpower the pumpkin, bu it didn't....in fact, I think the pumpkin overpowered the banana.
I've never posted a recipe before, but this ice cream was so good that it would be sinful for me not to post it. Yes, I realize it has no eggs, but don't turn your nose up just yet. It's actually much easier to make without having to temper the eggs (you will have done that once already in the pumpkin torte). If you have to have eggs, I would think it would be just fine to use your regular vanilla ice cream base and then add the pumpkin and spices as directed. Hope you try it (and by you, I mean KMK, since she's the only person who reads my blog who even has an ice cream maker).
Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream
4 cups half and half
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 vanilla beans
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
7.5 oz canned pumpkin
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
Combine all dairy into a saucepan along with the sugar. Split and scrape the vanilla beans into the dairy and sugar mixture. Bring to 170 degrees F. to dissolve sugar then let cool at room temperature. Chill in the refrigerator overnight. While dairy is heating, grate nutmeg into pumpkin and add the other spices. Mix in a bowl to combine and chill overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, take pumpkin and dairy mixture out. Filter dairy mixture to remove large vanilla bean pieces. Add some of the dairy mixture to the pumpkin and mix well to loosen it up. Then mix both the dairy and pumpkin together. Freeze in your ice cream freezer according to the manufacturer's instructions. Let the ice cream harden for at least two hours unless serving all immediately.
I have a not-so secret double life. Seriously. I am, as it appears, a super serious law student by day, and an obsessed baker by night. One of my professors (who knows of this double life) always asks how I do it all, and I guess the answer (or at least the one I tell him) is that I don't sleep. The truth is that I just work really long days. So, today, after 10 hours at school of class, homework, and relearning 4 years of physiology, I came home to bake cupcakes.
My very good friend (and classmate), Marie (remember her? 4th of July cupcakes), is involved in the Environmental Law Clinic at school. She is one of 12 students who fights for environmental rights in the tri-state area. Every week, her group takes turns bringing "snack" to clinic class. In August, she came to me asking to help when it became her turn to bring snack to the clinic. Tonight, we made the snack.
We made chocolate and vanilla cupcakes and topped them with buttercream and fondant fancies! Marie and Lauren cut out the arrows for the reduce-reuse-recycle cupcakes while I piped the words on each one. Somehow I have a feeling that they are going to go over pretty well tomorrow for clinic snack time (yes--law students like snack time too)!
Ok, I admit, I don't like baseball. I do, however, love a social gathering, so I will sacrifice my hatred of sports to go to a party surrounding a sporting event. Tonight, for World Series Game 4, all of our friends are getting together. I made Phillies cupcakes for the event. Greg, being the Mets fan that he is, totally does not approve of this...but thought the cupcakes were cool anyway. See, this is the type of cool stuff I could do if I could spend all day baking (like I did today). GO PHILS!!
Today was Halloween. I spent most of the day at the mall (which was empty since everyone was out playing and watching the Phils). Before my fun-filled day, I made these really cute Halloween cupcakes for my co-worker (remember the Thomas the Train cake?). She has a 4 year-old son who loves pumpkins. The way to a 4 year-olds heart--cupcakes. Came home and made chocolate chip cookies...yum. Sounds like a great Halloween to me!
Seriously. I have amazing friends. My friend Jaclyn (remember her--everything's better in Texas cupcakes...) is also a cupcake lover. She's the one who really go me into all this. I cam home today from a VERY long day. Drove to Camden, learned lawyer ethics for 4 hrs, had lunch with a friend, shopped with mom, and came back to DE. After 13 hrs of running around, I came in to find a box from Jaclyn in my kitchen. I was so excited I nearly ripped the box open. Inside was this beauty. She had an apron custom made for me with the logo of my future bakery...Buttercup Cupcakes. She also included a cupcake trivet and potholder. WOW!!! What an amazing gift. I am floored. Thank you Jaclyn!!!
We have great professors at our law school. Sometimes, though, they have to give exams (I guess it's just the nature of the beast). Normally, the entire class grade rests on one exam. First year students, however, get a midterm...and believe me, it's bad. What's worse? Waiting for and checking the grade. Wow. What an experience.
Ok, so, this one professor decided that, as a congratulations for completing the first exam, he would give his entire class CUPCAKES. I mean, who doesn't love a cupcake? My first thought was to make law-themed cupcakes. Then I realized that this class, having just gotten their midterm grades back, might prefer pretty cupcakes to law-themed cupcakes.
I made 3 kinds of cupcakes. Being on the pumpkin kick that I am, I made pumpkin cupcakes with maple cream cheese buttercream frosting (holy crap is right!). Then, I made chocolate cupcakes with dark chocolate buttercream and vanilla buttercream. At this point, I just feel bad that they will have to choose between the 3 amazing flavors!
My college roomate moved to Texas. She is one of the women who inspired my baking (and knitting and card making and you-name-it other craft). She's always coming up with new things to try, and sending me recipes. Although it makes me want to hop on a plane to Texas...I always end up going to my kitchen and trying them out instead. This week she told me about dark chocolate cupcakes with pumpkin cream cheese frosting.
Now, I've been on a pumpkin kick. My mom makes this amazing pumpkin chocolate chip cake which I grew up eating. I was craving it, I made it (sorry, no pics), and the pumpkin kick ensued. So, when Jaclyn told me about these cupcakes, I had to go home and try them. I made my regular chocolate cake, but subbed 100% cacao for the regular cocoa. This gave the cake a rich chocolatey flavor. Then, I made pumpkin cream cheese frosting. It wouldn't hold its shape enough for me to pile on a good amount of frosting, so I decided to inject the cupcakes with it, then top them. What a good idea! I brought half to work and half to my cousin's house for cousins weekend 2k9.
My direct boss (remember him--forget the cholesterol test birthday cake) loves chocolate and mint (are we seeing a theme?). So, for boss' day...since he puts up with me all day long...I decided to let his palate chose the boss' day treat. I made Kelly's brownies with andies mint chips on the inside. Then, I melted the andies mints all over the top and swirled. I made little gift bags for all of my bosses! Unfortunately, I only took one picture, but you get the idea.
My friend Jess turned 30 last weekend! She's the one with the bridal shower cake--remember her? Her husband did a surprise party at her house with family and then we took her to Los Amigos-a fabulous Mexican joint in Atlantic City. Of course, they stayed in AC and partied, but, being the amazing student I am, I went home so I could wake up early to do work.
Jess' husband asked me to make the cake. I decided to do a yellow cake with white buttercream and then cover the whole cake in buttercream flowers. It came out pretty cool. HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESS!!!
I'm a young lawyer and self-proclaimed domestic goddess.
I believe in real butter and making everything from scratch.
I bake as a hobby. I find it to be an incredible way to unwind in a world of never-ending work. If you have a question, just ask! ENJOY!
Please feel free to e-mail me: LAnderson2@gmail.com