Sunday, December 19, 2010

Candyland Cheesecake, NYC and Porter Christmas Cookie Extravaganza 2010

The Kitchen Aid mixer on Country Way has certainly been getting a workout lately. A lot has been going on this week, including a Candyland Cheesecake, a trip to NYC, and the first annual Porter Christmas Cookie Extravaganza. So seeing that there is so much to get to, I'll stop chattering and get to the point.

Candyland Chocolate Cheesecake

So my new favorite show is Dessert First with Anne Thornton on the Food Network. I think the name explains it all. Anyways, a couple weeks ago she made this absolutely stunning Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream Cake.  The candy brittle on the top was so beautiful, and had that whole Candyland look that I love (hence the spice drop garland in the earlier post). We had a resident party at work coming up, and there was my excuse to make it.

Instead of the ice cream cake recipe, I made a chocolate peppermint cheesecake instead. It would definitely be easier to transport, and we had no room in the freezer. Making the candy brittle was much easier than I expected. You definitely need to have a candy thermometer, and I did find that it set very quickly. If you have a volunteer to help you put the candy on, I think it would be easier. Most of the spice drops fell off, but I used a bit of melted white chocolate to glue them back on. Check it out!

Candyland Cheesecake 2

Candyland Cheesecake 3 

Trip to NYC

In a previous life, I think I was a New Yorker. Last Thursday my aunt, Andrea, and I went to the city for the day. It was the perfect pre-Christmas day! We were pretty much Will Ferrel in Elf when he first gets into the city...picture the scene when he is running through the revolving door screaming at the top of his lungs. That was us. Here are a few of my favorite shots....

Henri Bendel & Candy??? Happiness overload!

Shamelessly taking pictures in Dean & Deluca.


We took a break for cappuccino and chocolate at Café Charbonne in Saks 5th Ave.

The lights at night were absolutely gorgeous!


This picture doesn't even do Saks justice...


And a picture in front of the tree...

Porter Christmas Cookie Extravaganza 2010

Every year, Jeff's mom makes dozens and dozens of cookies to give to friends, families, and neighbors. This year we decided to make it a family affair, and Jeff's sister, Kristen, came down and we made it a full fledged Porter Cookie Extravaganza. We even had two mixers going! Below are some of the classic Porter cookie standards, made by Jeff's mom, and I also added my touch to the tradition and made Cranberry Orange Cupcakes!

Trying out a new thumbprint cookie recipe...they were a hit!
Thumbprint Cookies

Mrs. Porter's Infamous Peanut Butter Blossoms
Peanut Butter Blossoms

The making of the mint brownies...
Mint Choc Brownie

Me showing Kristen how to dip the cake pops. I'm rockin' quite the outfit and hair-do!
Steph & KP

Last but not least were my Cranberry Orange Cupcakes. These are the perfect Christmas cupcake! The recipe is from the Primrose Bakery in the UK. The combination of cranberry, orange, and cinnamon is the perfect winter treat. They are topped with an orange cream cheese frosting, and a sugared cranberry for decoration. I also played around with a few different liners and toppers too.

Orange Frosting

Cranberry Orange Cupcakes 3

Cranberry Orange Cupcakes 6

Cranberry Orange Cupcakes 1

So as the holiday baking season comes to a close, I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and an even better 2011!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Peppermint Meringues & Buttercream Roses

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Below is my favorite part...the leftover sandwich!

thanksgiving sammy (1)

thanksgiving sammy (2)

So if you know me at all, you know I am completely obsessed with Christmas. I've been listening to Christmas music since the first week of November, I already have the majority of my shopping done and wrapped, and Jeff and I had the house decorated the day before Thanksgiving. I think I may have scared people.

Last Christmas, I picked up a copy of Martha Stewart Living. It was dangerous. I love wrapping gifts almost as much as baking, and I got the bright idea from Martha that I should make all of my own gift tags using her paper cutters from Michaels. And as always when I do a craft, $50 dollars and 4 hours later it was a disaster and a mess. Thanks Martha.

This year, I stupidly picked up the Christmas issue again. Apparently Martha thought it was a GREAT idea to string spice drops on a needle and thread. In a previous life, I think I lived in Sugar Plum Land, so anything that would help transport me to that world always gets me. $3 dollars and an hour later I was up to my elbows in stickiness and annoyed. Thanks again Martha.

Anyways, the point I am trying to get to is that good did come out of this year's Christmas issue. On the back, there was a recipe for peppermint meringues with a chocolate ganache. They looked so beautiful!!! One evening later, success! The recipe is on the very last page of December's issue, however it is almost identical to the Peppermint Meringues with Chocolate Filling recipe on her website.

Check out the link below, and also my new fancy watermark Jeff made me! Don't forget to check out what he's been up to at Jeff Porter Design !

peppermint meringues (7)

peppermint meringues (6)

peppermint meringues (2)

Next up, buttercream roses. I've been watching videos on YouTube on how to make them for the past few weeks. The equipment needed to make them was cheap, so I finally got up the courage to give them a shot.

A co-worker's birthday was today, so I figured it was the perfect opportunity to give them a shot. Even if they didn't come out perfect, the 5 others that I work with never complain about being my guinea pigs.

I made my usual chocolate sour cream cupcakes from cupcakes! cookbook. These always taste absolutely amazing but for the life of me, they sink in the middle and separate from the liner every time. But, I have an easy fix for that...coring them and filling the center with ganache. Heh heh.

I made a Swiss buttercream (warm 3 egg whites and 3/4 cup sugar in a double boiler until the sugar has dissolved, whip to a stiff peak in the stand mixer, then add in 2, yes 2, sticks of butter one tablespoon at a time, then add vanilla extract) so the frosting would have stability.

I started by trying to pipe the frosting on the cupcakes with a purple swirl like in the meringues. That didn't work out, the color didn't take to the frosting like it did to the meringue, and it looked like a streaky mess. So I scraped the frosting off and tried tinting the whole batch of frosting purple. For some reason it wouldn't take, so hence the dull shade of purple.

I covered up the mess the best I could by smoothing a layer of frosting on the cupcake. Next up....the roses...palms I go...

Buttercream Roses 5

The end result, not to bad. The hardest part was trying to transfer the rose to the cupcake. I need to work on my aim! But here they are, in all their depressing gray-purple glory. Not too shabby for a first try if you ask me!

Buttercream Roses 1

Buttercream Roses 2

Buttercream Roses 4

Friday, November 12, 2010

Yesterday was a busy day...

First off, I am SO EXCITED to be featured on the Bake it Pretty blog!! Check out the link: !!!

Now down to business. The OLQM bazaar was the perfect excuse to try some of the cupcakes I've been eying but also not have them lying around the house. So, 10 hours, 8 sticks of butter, 2 bags of powdered sugar, and a dozen eggs are the results!

I started with Neapolitan cupcakes. The link is here:

Unfortunately, I neglected to notice that each batter makes 12 cupcakes, not both batters combined, so the result was jumbo, not so pretty cupcakes. I decided to try making them again later because I wasn't happy with the results, but I will show you how that turned out later.

I didn't use the frosting recipe from the link above, I tried something different. I'm so disappointed with the results! I wanted to top them with a strawberry buttercream that was made with fresh strawberries. It tastes great but looks a little funky. But, here is the final product. Not exactly the prettiest, but they are tasty!

Neapolitan  (1)

Waffle Cone (4)

Next up was the peanut butter truffle cupcakes. I actually just doubled the chocolate batter recipe from the Neapolitan cupcakes to make life a little bit easier. I made the truffles the night before and kept them frozen. They taste like Reese's Pieces!

I made the icing off the top of my head, with cream cheese, about a 1/2 a cup of peanut butter, a little vanilla extract, 3 or so cups of powdered sugar, and a few splashes of whipping cream. It tastes like the frosting on the peanut better cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory.

Peanut Butter Truffle (3)

Truffle recipe:

6 oz. white chocolate, chopped
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Place white chocolate in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium just until chocolate is soft; stir until smooth. Whisk in ¼ cup peanut butter until smooth.
Refrigerate 20 to 30 minutes or until firm. Using 1 tablespoon each, roll chocolate mixture into 12 (1-inch) balls; place on waxed paper-lined plate. Roll each ball in cocoa powder to coat completely. Freeze on lined plate 1 to 3 hours or until frozen solid. (Truffles can be frozen overnight.)After filling the cupcakes in the liners, drop the frozen truffle into the center.

Now it's on to cupcake #3. Apple cider cupcakes. I came across this recipe when I was looking for a fun fall cupcake.

I was a little weirded out about using unpasteurized cider, but I figure they wouldn't sell it if it was that bad, and it can't be any worse than licking brownie batter from the bowl.

The first step included boiling down the cider so the flavor is more concentrated. This took FOREVER. And then I had to wait for it to cool. Next time, I'm doing this way ahead of time. Also, when you are boiling down the cider for the frosting, keep an eye on it. I let it go on it's own for a while and came back to a sticky burnt mess.

These definitely scream FALL! I added a little more flour to the recipe, and I think next time I will cut down on the clove and use a little bit of nutmeg.

Apple Cider (1)

Apple Cider Cupcakes Recipe

Finally, it's time for some cake pops. I made these with Fufetti cake and frosting- the Betty Crocker kind with the rainbow bits in the frosting. Pillsbury cheaps out on their frosting and just gives you vanilla frosting with a packet of sprinkles. LAME.

OLQM Cake Pops (4)

OLQM Cake Pops (1)

OK, I debated posting this picture for three reasons:

1. It might give my mother in law a heart attack.
2. You may lose faith in me.
3. It may prove to my mother than I am useless in the kitchen after all.

But, when Jeff fell on the floor laughing when I opened the oven door and the smoke alarm started going off, it might give everyone a good laugh.

Remember how I said I was going to make the Neapolitan Cupcakes a second time? That didn't work out so well. So here it goes, and I would like to call this work of art..."Don't forget the baking soda."

DISCLAIMER: Mom P- I PROMISE this oven is now 100% back to normal.

Don't forget the baking soda

Oven Disaster (1)

I hope you all had a good laugh about that one. If you haven't already, make sure to check out my husband's photo blog here: Jeff Porter Design . If it wasn't for him, my stuff wouldn't look half as good!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Cupcakes for Breakfast?

Why not?? I used my grandmother's top secret (sorry Aunt Krissy) banana bread recipe and poured it into cups. Easy. But my favorite part of the cupcake is the frosting. So I looked in the cupboard...basic buttercream...too expected and too sweet. Peanut butter? Maybe. But as I pushed away the Skippy, staring back at me (insert a beam of light and the angel "ahhh" noise here), was the Nutella.

Half a package of cream cheese, 1/4 cup of the silky chocolaty heaven that is Nutella, a couple cups of powdered sugar, splash of cream and ta-dah! Cupcakes for breakfast! Mission accomplished.

Banana Bread with Nutella Frosting 1

Sorry but you won't find the recipe for the banana bread here, posted for the world to see. But, if you are really nice to me and buy me a nice Christmas present, maybe, just maybe I will send it to you. Please be prepared to sign a 9 page secrecy contract.

On a side note, I ordered a few things from this adorable website, Bake It Pretty. When I opened the box at work today, I was so suprised. Now, a disclaimer, I am a complete sucker for packaging. Look at how they shipped it! So simple and so cute!

Bake it Pretty

For the sake of my waistline, and Jeff's, I am trying to stay out of the kitchen this week. But, I am donating cupcakes to the OLQM bazaar on 11/13, so expect lots of yummy stuff in a of couple weeks!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Mudslide Cupcakes. Round 2.

Ok. It's official. The mudslide cupcakes are incredible, if I do say so myself. My manager's last day today was the perfect excuse to make them. I did tweak the recipe slightly. For this round, I used the Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes recipe from cupcakes! by Elinor Klivans.

I also added a little under a teaspoon of espresso powder to the batter, and about a half a teaspoon of the espresso powder to the Kaluha frosting as well. Instead of using semisweet chocolate in the Kahlua frosting, I used 60% cocoa bittersweet chips. The result was equivalent to a chocolate covered espresso been. Fabulous!

When it came to actually frosting the little buggers, I also changed it up a bit. The Kahlua frosting is a completely different texture than the Baileys, much silkier and not as stiff. When I piped them in the same bag last time, it came out ok, but I had a hard time with it. So, this round, I put a layer of the Kahlua frosting on top of the cupcake, and then topped it with the Baileys. This should work out well, because the Kahlua frosting is very bold and could easily take over the flavor of the Baileys. We'll see. I topped them with a malted milk ball. YUM!

Mudslide Cupcakes 1

Mudslide Cupcakes 2

Mudslide Cupcakes 3

The full original recipe can be found here. I still have no idea how they got the Bailey's frosting to be so white, or the Kahlua frosting to be so dark. I used store bought Baileys for mine, but if anyone tries making the homemade, let me know how it turns out!

Here is my version of the frostings...

Butter Cream Frosting Base

• 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
• ¾ sugar
• Pinch salt
• 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into 16 pieces

1. Combine egg whites and sugar in a large heat proof bowl. Set the bowl over (not on) simmering water in a sauce pan and heat, whisking constantly until sugar has dissolved. The mixture is ready when with it is very warm to the touch, about 2 minutes and approximately 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer.
2. Remove from mixture from heat and transfer to a stand mixer bowl and beat on high until egg white mixture is fluffy, led to room temperature and holds stiff peaks, about 6 minutes.
3. Turn the speed to medium low, add salt and the butter a few pieces at a time, beating well after each addition. Turn the speed to high and beat until mixture is creamy, about 3-5 minutes more.
4.Put about 1/3 of the frosting into a seperate bowl. This will be the base for the Kahlua frosting.

Bailey’s and Chocolate Kahlua Frostings

To make the Baileys buttercream add 3 tablespoons of Baileys into one bowl and beat until combined.

To make the Chocolate Kahlua Frosting in the other bowl, add 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder and 4 oz of melted bittersweet chocolate and 3 tablespoons of Kahlua and beat until combined.

Using a small spreader, spread the Kahlua frosting on the top of the cupcakes. Then, pipe the Bailey's frosting over each cupcake. Top with a malted milk ball or chocolate covered espresso bean.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Here are a few pics of what I've been up to...

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake Pops

Strawberries & Cream Cupcakes

*Recipe from Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery

Mudslide Cupcakes with Bailey's & Kahlua Frosting 
(Happy Birthday Chad!) 
 *Recipe by Bakers Royale  Click Here for the Recipe! 


I've always had a sweet tooth. It became evident when I poked three holes in my aunt's wedding cake at the age of three. It seems that every time fall rolls around, I get the urge to bake up a storm in the kitchen. But for some reason, this round has been more addictive than before. It started when I was forwarded a link to Bakerella's Hi-Hat Cupcakes about a month ago. I haven't left the kitchen since!