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