Categories
Cookies Holidays Recipes

Super Cute Bunny Butt Sugar Cookies

 

You probably already know I am obsessed with super cute bunny butts this spring and Easter season. I am so excited about these super easy and super cute Bunny Butt sugar cookies! Aren’t their sprinkle tails just the cutest?!!???!!! Not only are they so adorable, but they are so delicious everyone has a hard time eating just one. This sugar cookie recipe has a secret ingredient that you do NOT want to miss. These cookies are so tasty and stand out from all the rest of the sugar cookie recipes out there. In fact with a side by side taste test, the other sugar cookies will taste like sweet cardboard compared to these sugar cookies!

 

I also just love these bunny cookie cutters I found on Etsy. I love the different floppy ears! The sprinkle cotton tails are super easy. I used this set of Wilton bunny on this cake, and noticed I had more bunny tails than sets of bunny feet. These extra tails inspired me for this design. I also had a bunch of super cute spring sprinkles I was dying to use, and if you have seen my gold accented wood Easter egg mantel you know I love a coordinating variety of colors!

 

I am pretty sure the Wilton bunny tails are made of hardened royal icing, and if I had a mold I would make my own. BUT convenience won and helped to make this a super easy project. I opted to use my Perfect Ratio Dreamy Cream Cheese Frosting, but I always am torn and love to use my Cooked Frosting as well. The cooked frosting is whiter than the cream cheese frosting, but I do not mind the off white bunnies either. I think they are pretty darn cute.

I didn’t use a piping tip for the bunny bodies and ears; I just used the open end of a piping bag. I love the effect piping the bunny bodies have with no piping tip. I basically outlined the different areas of the bunny bodies. I used a single line I piped “up-then-down” almost like it was in one single motion, and then I used my fingers to pinch off the tip of the ears to get a point at the end. Super easy.

For the sprinkle bunny tails, I took the pre-made plain white tails and ran them under water to wet them. I set them on a paper towel to sop up the extra water on the back sides, and any that may drip off the domed fronts while I got out a plate and the sprinkles I wanted to use. I then placed the wet bunny tails, that were sticky at this point, on the plate and I squished the sprinkles I wanted on each tail. I already had my bunny bodies frosted, and I am not patient so I risked positioning the sprinkled tails on the cookies right away. In retrospect, I am glad I did that so that the sprinkled dried on the sticky bunny tail surface in place. I’m not quite sure if I left them on the plate to dry that they may have ended up sticking to the plate and possibly damaging them to get them off.

The Last Sugar Cookie Recipe You Will Ever Need

Are you tired of boring, almost bland sugar cookies? Don’t even enjoy sugar cookies because they are almost like sweet cardboard? NOT these sugar cookies! There’s a slight tang from cream cheese, flavors pop with vanilla and almond extract, sweet and salty bring the best balance, and the secret ingredient: BROWNED BUTTER.  You cannot go wrong with these cookies. I like mine with a crisp edge, and an aldente but not quite soft texture. 

3/4 c. browned butter (1 1/2 sticks)

1/2 c. cream cheese (1/2 of a 8 oz pkg)

1 1/2 c. sugar

1 egg

2 tsp. vanilla

2 tsp. almond extract

2 tsp. salt

4 c. flour (reserve one cup as needed)

1) In a sauce pan on med heat, brown your butter. Watch the butter as it starts to froth up, and stir as needed. You will notice the froth will go down, and then start frothing again. By the 2nd froth/bubbling I have found this is about the time you want to stop browning the butter. Take the butter off the stove as you smell the nutty richness. Chill the browned butter until solid.

2) Let the browned butter and the cream cheese come up to room temperature. 

3) Cream the browned butter, cream cheese, and sugar until fluffy in a stand mixer, or using a hand held mixer in a large bowl. You will see the color turn light and the mix becomes fluffy. 

4) Add the egg, vanilla, almond extract, and salt. Scrap down the sides with a silicone spatula. 

5) Add 3 cups of flour and mix. Scrape down the sides. Add the remaining flour in 1/4 cup increments as needed. You know the dough is ready when it comes to a ball and is clean away from the side of the bowl. Depending on the humidity and elevation, you will need to be vigilant in how much flour you add, and may not need the extra full cup. The dough is pretty stiff, but not crumbly to where the flour is not incorporated. 

6) Split the dough into two equal parts. Wrap each dough section in cling wrap. Flatten into a rectangle, and chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours, overnight if necessary. An alternative step at this point(or just intentionally make a double or triple batch), if you choose to make frozen dough disks (I use an ice cream scoop and flatten the round dough to a puck shape, line a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper, freeze on a cookie sheet, then place the pucks in a freezer safe ziploc bag to keep frozen sugar cookie dough on hand for in a pinch cookie hankerings–you can bake frozen, just watch the cookies because they may need extra time being baked from a frozen state).

7) When you are ready to roll out, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You may need to let the dough warm up a bit on the counter, especially if it has been chilling overnight. 

8) Lightly flour the surface, then roll out your dough to 3/8 inch for thick cookies. If you prefer thinner cookies, adjust the bake time down. Cut out your dough, and place on a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Space them at least a half inch apart. The cookies should not spread. If you want to sprinkle sanding sugar on the cookies and not frost them, do so before baking them. These are great cookies to eat without frosting, but I have an even better recipe for sugar cookies if you just want sanding sugar on them, but these work as well. 

9) Bake for 9-11 min. If your cookies are thinner or small cut out, watch them at 7-9 min. A perfectly baked cookie will show golden patches on the bottom, but not dark brown or worse.  Rest on the cookie sheet until cooled enough to move the parchment without damaging the cookies, and cool on a counter off the hot cookie sheet, or in a airtight container. If your first batch of cookies does not have the wonderfully crackled look on top, knead the rest of the dough before rolling out and baking. 

10) Completely cool before frosting. Check out my Cooked Frosting, which I think beats any butter cream frosting on these cookies hands down!

Categories
Cakes Holidays Recipes

Stinkin’ Cute Bunny Butts Easter Cake

 

Easter is around the corner, and I’ve been obsessed with all things Spring and Easter for the past few weeks. Now that I finally have my Easter mantel decor squared away in my noggin’–I have a finished vision in my noggin’ that is just waiting for the time and energy to complete. In the midst of all the Easter decor projects bouncing around in my head, I’ve been thinking about beloved Easter traditions. Now what is bigger than Easter dinner? I don’t know about you, but that is pretty dang high up there. I mean, man, all the excitement from planning the meal to preparing it with loved ones around, laughing, loving hugging, reminiscing of old memories, and creating new ones…and then, eating it! My Easter menu is not finalized as of yet, and I get plenty of joy out of the planning because there are just so MANY choices. One thing is for certain this year…and that is dessert!

 

I have been obsessed with BUNNY BUTTS this season, so of course I am gonna put them on the CAKE! I had ideas swirling around, and it all came together after the My Little Pony Cake I made for a sweet little gal’s 3rd birthday. One idea didn’t quite make it, but I can tuck that one for another cake, or let it marinade until next year. 

I basically took the colors and piping tips I used from the this cake, along with a water color background from the purple, pink, and blue colors for the main color. I admit the colors in my head were far more pastel in strength and the color I imagined for the background was closer to a periwinkle than the fun punchy violet that I went with; however, I think the stinking’ cute bunny butts pop because of the darker background. I LOVE it! I also love how the foil chocolate covered eggs fits with the colors better than soft pastels would have.

The cake is dark chocolate cake with my Razzleberry fruit filling (bottom of the post) and my Perfect Ratio Dreamy Cream Cheese Frosting (bottom of post). So delicious! It is the flavor combo I used for my sealing reception wedding cake. 

I have been throwing around ideas for the perfect nest to nestle the chocolate Easter eggs I found at Costco, and it was serendipitous that I found this green apple flavored Easter grass candy at JoAnn Fabric’s that worked out better than I imagined with all the colors. It pops against the purple, and rainbow rosettes! SO much fun and the kids will go crazy for it.  

The tips I used on the rosettes and flowers are 1M, 199, 16, 22 (or 32–I lost track of that one), 172, 106, 12, and 131. I also used a random selection of fancy sprinkles including gold bars I got here.

Dark Chocolate Cake

This cake recipe will knock anyone’s socks off, it is so good. AND it will dazzle any chocolate lover’s taste buds. Check out the Perfect Ratio Cream Cheese Buttercream Recipe that is easy to decorate with AND tastes amazing with this cake. NOTE: I wrap up the baked and cooled cake layers I am not immediately using in plastic wrap, and freeze for up to 3 weeks. Freezing cakes like this keeps them moist when thawed and ready to use.

1 white box cake mix

4 eggs

*1 box dark chocolate mousse mix or chocolate instant pudding

1/2 c sour cream

1 c milk

1/2 c melted butter

 

 

 *NOTE: If I need multiple layers and double this recipe, I can customize the chocolate cake layers by using one dark chocolate and one milk chocolate mousse mix, or two of one kind depending on the chocolate flavor profile I am going for. 

OPTIONAL: 3/4 to 1 c Razzleberry Fruit Filling to fill layers, recipe below

1) Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees F …cook low and slow, and you may need to add time to the suggested bake time; use a toothpick or cake tester to check doneness in the center before you pull the layers out of the oven. 

2) Prepare your layer cake pans AND bundt cake with my Quick-Release Cake Prep Mix (recipe below). **Even if you have a non-stick pan, it is worth using the Quick-Release Cake Prep Mix–after all your time and energy making and baking your cake, the last thing you want is to have half of it stick to the pan, and get a big crumbled pile of cake.

3) Mix all the ingredients except the optional fruit filling in a stand mixer, or a large bowl and hand mixer until smooth. It will be thick. Do not over mix

4) Divide your batter between your prepared cake pans. Level your batter in the pan (knock the cake pan on the counter top to get rid of air bubbles) before baking. 

*For a 3″ layer in a 6″ round pan, use 3 cups of batter, and bake for 35-40 min.

*For a 2″ layer in a 6″ round pan, use 2 1/4 cups batter, and bake for 28-36 min.

*For a 3″ layer in a 8″ round pan, use 5 cups of batter, and bake for 35-40 min.

*For a 2″ layer in a 8″ round pan, use 4 cups batter, and bake for 28-36 min.

*For a bunt cake, use the number of cups your bunt cake pan is sized by. If you overfill your bunt cake pan, it will overflow in the oven and create a huge mess to clean up…and ani’t no one got time for that! Don’t forget to grease and flour your bunt cake pan. 

NOTE: I wrap up the baked and cooled cake layers I am not immediately using in plastic wrap, and freeze for up to 3 weeks. Freezing cakes like this keeps them moist when thawed and ready to use.

Razzleberry Fruit Filling

3 c fresh or frozen mix of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries 

1/2 c lemon juice

 

1 c sugar

4 T corn starch, mixed in 1 c cold water

 

1) Add all the ingredients except the corn starch & water mix in a sauce pan on med heat. 
2) Mash all the berries, sugar, and lemon juice with a potato masher. As the mix heats up and starts to boil, the berries will give off more of their juices and the sugar will dissolve. 
3) After the mix has had a chance to heat through, the berries give off their juices, and the sugar is dissolved, pour the mix into a blender. Blend until smooth and even. 
4) Strain the juice back into the rinsed pan through a metal sieve using a metal spoon to circulate the seeds to get all the juice through. Discard the seeds.
5) Bring the seedless berry mix to a boil.
6) Add the corn starch and water mix, and let boil stirring constantly until thickened.
7) Let the fruit filling cool before adding to an airtight dish to chill in the refrigerator. DO not use to fill cakes or to add to frostings until completely chilled. 
8) To fill a cake: frost the bottom layer with an even coating of frosting, pipe a frosting “dam” around the boarder of the frosted cake, then dollop a general tablespoon or two depending on the layer size, and spread evenly to the dam before topping with another layer of cake; and repeat until the top layer.

Note: Let’s get real. I love to cook once and use multiple times. This recipe is modified from using a full 48 oz. bag of organic mixed berries consisting of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries from my local bulk store.  I then store in an airtight container and either keep in the fridge if I use it quickly, or freeze to have on hand and thaw as needed. 

Quick-Release Cake Prep Mix

In a 1:1:1 ratio, mix flour, lard or shortening, and vegetable oil. Mix until evenly incorporated, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. For example, I use 1 cup of each ingredient to mix up and have on hand to prepare all my cake pans before adding batter, and then baking. Cakes will come out clean and easily, with no sticking. I coat my pans with this mix using a silicone baster brush. I also add a cut parchment paper to the bottom of any flat bottomed cake pan I use.

Categories
Cookies Holidays Recipes

Floral Easter Egg Sugar Cookies using Cream Cheese Buttercream

 

I am a fan of delicious sugar cookies with yummy buttercream, and what better time of year to have an excuse to not only bake but decorate THE best sugar cookies you have ever tasted than Easter! BUT it cannot be a sugar cookie that tastes like sweet cardboard–if you don’t know what I mean, oh you are in desperate need to make these cookies and have a side-by-side taste test with an ordinary sugar cookie recipe. Easter and spring go hand in hand for me, so after making such cute spring colored floral cakes like this one, it was a no-brainer to decorate Easter egg cookies in the same way!

 

I’ve wanted to try my hand at royal icing decorated cookies…but, I have always hesitated and I am not one to hesitate because I am scared of “failing”…if I hesitate, it’s because something just doesn’t jive…something just doesn’t fit…something is off…and then it hit me. I don’t make anything I personally will NOT absolutely go to food nirvana for. Royal icing just doesn’t tantalize my taste buds. I’m not into cookies that just look cute, I want to go to dessert 7th heaven so the calories, and what I gotta do to burn them off, is worth it!

Once you have a sugar cookie recipe that knocks people’s socks off–and trust me, you will get loads of people asking for the recipe, because the secret ingredient will set these sugar cookies light years apart of all the rest–the fun becomes how many different ways can you decorate them with buttercream. I feel like buttercream gets a bad rap with regards to sugar cookie decorating since all the gorgeous royal icing decorated cookies hit Instagram. Don’t get me wrong, they are stunning! 

You will savor every last morsel of these cookies, and the only thing you will be sad about, is when the last one gets eaten up!

How cute did these turn out! I used this cream cheese frosting (found at the bottom of the page), and the same piping tips as I used on this cake, as well as the same sprinkles. The cookie recipe is below. How are you planning to decorate your Easter sugar cookies?

The Last Sugar Cookie Recipe You Will Ever Need

Are you tired of boring, almost bland sugar cookies? Don’t even enjoy sugar cookies because they are almost like sweet cardboard? NOT these sugar cookies! There’s a slight tang from cream cheese, flavors pop with vanilla and almond extract, sweet and salty bring the best balance, and the secret ingredient: BROWNED BUTTER.  You cannot go wrong with these cookies. I like mine with a crisp edge, and an aldente but not quite soft texture. 

3/4 c. browned butter (1 1/2 sticks)

1/2 c. cream cheese (1/2 of a 8 oz pkg)

1 1/2 c. sugar

1 egg

2 tsp. vanilla

2 tsp. almond extract

2 tsp. salt

4 c. flour (reserve one cup as needed)

1) In a sauce pan on med heat, brown your butter. Watch the butter as it starts to froth up, and stir as needed. You will notice the froth will go down, and then start frothing again. By the 2nd froth/bubbling I have found this is about the time you want to stop browning the butter. Take the butter off the stove as you smell the nutty richness. Chill the browned butter until solid.

2) Let the browned butter and the cream cheese come up to room temperature. 

3) Cream the browned butter, cream cheese, and sugar until fluffy in a stand mixer, or using a hand held mixer in a large bowl. You will see the color turn light and the mix becomes fluffy. 

4) Add the egg, vanilla, almond extract, and salt. Scrap down the sides with a silicone spatula. 

5) Add 3 cups of flour and mix. Scrape down the sides. Add the remaining flour in 1/4 cup increments as needed. You know the dough is ready when it comes to a ball and is clean away from the side of the bowl. Depending on the humidity and elevation, you will need to be vigilant in how much flour you add, and may not need the extra full cup. The dough is pretty stiff, but not crumbly to where the flour is not incorporated. 

6) Split the dough into two equal parts. Wrap each dough section in cling wrap. Flatten into a rectangle, and chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours, overnight if necessary. An alternative step at this point(or just intentionally make a double or triple batch), if you choose to make frozen dough disks (I use an ice cream scoop and flatten the round dough to a puck shape, line a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper, freeze on a cookie sheet, then place the pucks in a freezer safe ziploc bag to keep frozen sugar cookie dough on hand for in a pinch cookie hankerings–you can bake frozen, just watch the cookies because they may need extra time being baked from a frozen state).

7) When you are ready to roll out, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You may need to let the dough warm up a bit on the counter, especially if it has been chilling overnight. 

8) Lightly flour the surface, then roll out your dough to 3/8 inch for thick cookies. If you prefer thinner cookies, adjust the bake time down. Cut out your dough, and place on a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Space them at least a half inch apart. The cookies should not spread. If you want to sprinkle sanding sugar on the cookies and not frost them, do so before baking them. These are great cookies to eat without frosting, but I have an even better recipe for sugar cookies if you just want sanding sugar on them, but these work as well. 

9) Bake for 9-11 min. If your cookies are thinner or small cut out, watch them at 7-9 min. A perfectly baked cookie will show golden patches on the bottom, but not dark brown or worse.  Rest on the cookie sheet until cooled enough to move the parchment without damaging the cookies, and cool on a counter off the hot cookie sheet, or in a airtight container. If your first batch of cookies does not have the wonderfully crackled look on top, knead the rest of the dough before rolling out and baking. 

10) Completely cool before frosting. Check out my Cooked Frosting, which I think beats any butter cream frosting on these cookies hands down!

Check out these holiday sugar cookies I have made with this recipe. I love to use my Cooked Frosting as well as my cream cheese buttercream on these. I also love to stripe fruit fillings to add another dimension of flavor and color. I love how all of these cookies turned out! Not only are they adorable, but they are so delicious! I hope I can convince you how cute buttercream decorated cookies are.

Categories
Birthdays Cakes

My Little Pony Rainbow Dreams Cake

 

I know a little girl who is OBSESSED with all things My Little Pony…and she was about to turn 3. I knew I had to design a super cute and girly cake with lots of My Little Pony colors and figures to make sure she was ridiculously excited about her cake.  There couldn’t just be little figurines, but it has to explode with color and rainbows because Rainbow Dash was her absolute favorite My Little Pony. I also cannot make a cake that just looks cute, but I always want to blow people’s socks off with taste, both kids and adults. A cake that tastes so good, I don’t care what diet you are on, you can NOT just have one bite!

 

I made the top 6″ tier and bottom 8″ tier a vanilla confetti cake filled and frosted with my Perfect Ratio Dreamy Cream Cheese Frosting. I added my Razzleberry fruit filling in between each frosted layer so everyone would savour every single bite.  It is important to note that if you are adding filling between each layer, you need to pipe a frosting damn on the outter perimeter to make sure the filling doesn’t ooze to through the crumb coat. 

To pipe rainbow frosting where it doesn’t get all muddy and you can clearly see all the colors, I made a tube with plastic wrap where I piped 3 lines of each color a length that would fit one of my large reusable piping bags on the flat sheet of plastic wrap. Then I rolled the frosting lines on top of each other by lifting one long edge of plastic wrap to fold the frosting on top of each other, and rolled the plastic all the way around, twisting to secure each end, almost like you have a rainbow frosting sausage. To pipe with the rainbow frosting, I made sure I had the tip I wanted in my large reusable piping bag, cut one end of the plastic wrapped rainbow “sausage”, and put the cut end inside the large piping bag first so it is open to freely pipe through my chosen tip.  I better make very clear that first off, I mixed each color individually before I filled each color in its own piping bag with a coupler so I could pipe with different tips later in each solid color; I then piped the lines with just the coupler onto the plastic wrap. 

You can see that the top tier used a combination of different tips to pipe flowers and rosette to add variety and interest using both the rainbow frosting, and each individual solid color frosting.  The bottom tier, I just used the rainbow frosting with the coupler, and no tip, to pipe dollops I then used my small cake spatula to drag out; I offset each row of dollops so that each one on the next row up would fit in between two on the bottom. It turned out so beautiful! I was mesmerized by it! The last dollop on each row is a challenge to get the same drag effect, so that’s how I came up with the sprinkle design on the bottom tier. 

The tips I used on the top tier are 1M for the largest rainbow rosettes and flowers,  tip 199 for rainbow swirls and dollops, tip 16 for the orange, tip 22 (or 32–I lost track of that one) yellow, tip 172 purple, tip 106 green, tip 12 blue, and tip 131 pink. 

I placed various size and shape rainbow, gold sphere and bar sprinkles around the top tier to add interest. I am just OBSESSED with how it turned out. I was definitely a jaw dropper at the party!!!

Of course I had to add the stars of the cakes, My Little Pony figurines.  I used this set even though I comtemplated using the cleaned full size ones that the client’s daughter already had and loved, however, I didn’t want the hair to get gooped up with frosting so I found these. They are perfect for cake toppers and cupcakes! 

Another happy experiment that turned out to be genius and I will definitely be using a LOT in the future, was the frosted pretzel rods! I had left over rainbow frosting and didn’t want to waste all that effort, and of course who doesn’t love salty-sweet treats, so I took the pretzel rods I had left over from my Dinosaur cake, pipped shells, and added sprinkles, and voila! Not only were they so ridiculously adorable, they were so yummy!

I  used a colored frosting to frost the bottom layer to hid any potential gaps in the rainbow pattern.

Vanilla Confetti Cake

This cake recipe will knock anyone’s socks off, it is so good. AND it will dazzle any kid with the fun confetti sprinkles in the cake batter. Check out the Perfect Ratio Cream Cheese Buttercream Recipe that is easy to decorate with AND tastes amazing with this cake. NOTE: I wrap up the baked and cooled cake layers I am not immediately using in plastic wrap, and freeze for up to 3 weeks. Freezing cakes like this keeps them moist when thawed and ready to use.

1 white box cake mix

4 eggs

1 box  vanilla instant pudding

1/2 c sour cream

 

1 c milk

1/2 c melted butter

1/2 c confettie sprinkles

3/4 to 1 c Razzleberry Fruit Filling, recipe below

1) Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees F …cook low and slow, and you may need to add time to the suggested bake time; use a toothpick or cake tester to check doneness in the center before you pull the layers out of the oven. 

2) Prepare your layer cake pans AND bundt cake with my Quick-Release Cake Prep Mix (recipe below). **Even if you have a non-stick pan, it is worth using the Quick-Release Cake Prep Mix–after all your time and energy making and baking your cake, the last thing you want is to have half of it stick to the pan, and get a big crumbled pile of cake.

3) Mix all the ingredients except the sprinkles and fruit filling in a stand mixer, or a large bowl and hand mixer until smooth. It will be thick. Do not over mix

4) Mix in the sprinkles and stir by hand with a spatula or spoon. 

5) Divide your batter between your prepared cake pans. Level your batter in the pan (knock the cake pan on the counter top to get rid of air bubbles) before baking. 

*For a 3″ layer in a 6″ round pan, use 3 cups of batter, and bake for 35-40 min.

*For a 2″ layer in a 6″ round pan, use 2 1/4 cups batter, and bake for 28-36 min.

*For a 3″ layer in a 8″ round pan, use 5 cups of batter, and bake for 35-40 min.

*For a 2″ layer in a 8″ round pan, use 4 cups batter, and bake for 28-36 min.

*For a bunt cake, use the number of cups your bunt cake pan is sized by. If you overfill your bunt cake pan, it will overflow in the oven and create a huge mess to clean up…and ani’t no one got time for that! Don’t forget to grease and flour your bunt cake pan. 

Razzleberry Fruit Filling

3 c fresh or frozen mix of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries 

1/2 c lemon juice

 

1 c sugar

4 T corn starch, mixed in 1 c cold water

 

1) Add all the ingredients except the corn starch & water mix in a sauce pan on med heat. 
2) Mash all the berries, sugar, and lemon juice with a potato masher. As the mix heats up and starts to boil, the berries will give off more of their juices and the sugar will dissolve. 
3) After the mix has had a chance to heat through, the berries give off their juices, and the sugar is dissolved, pour the mix into a blender. Blend until smooth and even. 
4) Strain the juice back into the rinsed pan through a metal sieve using a metal spoon to circulate the seeds to get all the juice through. Discard the seeds.
5) Bring the seedless berry mix to a boil.
6) Add the corn starch and water mix, and let boil stirring constantly until thickened.
7) Let the fruit filling cool before adding to an airtight dish to chill in the refrigerator. DO not use to fill cakes or to add to frostings until completely chilled. 
8) To fill a cake: frost the bottom layer with an even coating of frosting, pipe a frosting “dam” around the boarder of the frosted cake, then dollop a general tablespoon or two depending on the layer size, and spread evenly to the dam before topping with another layer of cake; and repeat until the top layer.

Note: Let’s get real. I love to cook once and use multiple times. This recipe is modified from using a full 48 oz. bag of organic mixed berries consisting of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries from my local bulk store.  I then store in an airtight container and either keep in the fridge if I use it quickly, or freeze to have on hand and thaw as needed. 

Quick-Release Cake Prep Mix

In a 1:1:1 ratio, mix flour, lard or shortening, and vegetable oil. Mix until evenly incorporated, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. For example, I use 1 cup of each ingredient to mix up and have on hand to prepare all my cake pans before adding batter, and then baking. Cakes will come out clean and easily, with no sticking. I coat my pans with this mix using a silicone baster brush. I also add a cut parchment paper to the bottom of any flat bottomed cake pan I use.

Categories
Cookies Home Recipes

Key Lime Cheesecake Sugar Cookies

 

After my last minute rush to get a Valentine’s dessert thrown together with leftover frosting, cookies, and raspberry filling, I stumbled on a NEW dessert that is so ridiculously AMAZING I don’t know how this desert hasn’t come to light yet! Cheesecake Sugar Cookies flavored with fruit fillings!!! I like to have holiday themes for each month and because it is March, I decided to go with a Key Lime flavor for my cakes and desserts. My new custom recipes this month included a  Blueberry Key Lime Cake, a Key LIme Tunnel cake, and a Key Lime Dressing for a spinach salad…AND last but definitely not least, my Key Lime Cheesecake Sugar Cookies. If you like Key Lime, you will LOVE these recipes! I am talking complete FOOD NIRVANA!

 

These cookies are so easy to put together, especially with a batch of my Key Lime fruit filling on hand, which is used in all the previously mentioned Key LIme recipes. I love having versatile recipes, and multiple uses with flavors I adore. And how cute are they as little Shamrocks! The piping was also very easy, and I didn’t even use a tip; I just used the open end of the piping bag. I started in the center of each shamrock, and piped two loops in each leaf, and ended at the stem (all in one continuous motion). 

 

In fact, I had a batch of my Perfect Ratio Dreamy Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe at the bottom), and I just mixed in enough of my Key Lime Fruit Filling to get that oh so delicious tangy key lime cheesecake flavor. I made sure to NOT add too much fruit filling so the frosting was still a good piping consistency. I also added a drop of green and a drop of yellow food coloring to get a beautiful chartreuse green hue. I brought my first batch of these cookies to test out the recipe with my co-workers where I teach high school math, and they RAVED about them! I knew I wasn’t looney for thinking they were so good. Now I had confirmation of how dang delicious they were. Everyone was saying how perfectly tangy they were, and there was no doubt they were Key Lime Cheesecake. They also said the cookie was the perfect size to have a yummy dessert, but not over do it…and not get all the calories from a slice of Key Lime Pie!!!

Because I use a St. Patrick’s day rainbow and shamrock “Lucky” theme for March, I wanted a way to incorporate that with this recipe. So I busted out the larger shamrock cookie cutter and my rainbow sprinkles to get these stinkin’ cute shamrock cookies! I also love the added crunch from the sprinkles!!! You can see that one of the larger cookies I used the same green frosting as the smaller cookies, one was just my cream cheese frosting, and one I lined the piping bag with 3 stripes of the key lime fruit filling (recipe at the bottom) to get a variegated frosted cookie. I love the variations, and all are so yummy!

This is my go to sugar cookie recipe, and you will get rave reviews! To make these Key Lime Cheesecake Sugar Cookies, you need:

1 recipe of sugar cookies, cut out, baked, and completely cooled.

1 recipe of my cream cheese frosting (found at the bottom of the page)

1/4-1/2 c of my Key Lime Fruit Filling recipe.

Mix in the key lime fruit filling to taste, then pipe or frost your cookies. Store frosted cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and they will last up to 3 weeks. They also freeze well in an airtight container for up to 3 months. These storing guidelines also work for leftover frosting. I also use this Key Lime Cheesecake Frosting on cakes, and this cake was particularly delicious!

Key Lime Fruit Filling
Do you LOVE Key Lime but you don’t love the time it takes to make a key lime curd? Then you will adore this recipe! This fruit filling recipe is so versitile, you will loose count how many diffierent ways you can use it. I mostly use it to fill cakes, flavor frosting, and even in a vinaigrette recipe for a spinach salad. 
2 c fresh Key Lime Juice (or 1 1/2 c lime juice plus 1/2 lemon juice)

 

1/2 c sugar

T corn starch, mixed in 1/2 c cold water

1) Add all the ingredients except the corn starch & water mix in a sauce pan on med heat.

2) Bring the juice mix to a boil.

3) Add the corn starch and water mix, and let boil stirring constantly until thickened.

4) Let the fruit filling cool before adding to an airtight dish to chill in the refrigerator. DO not use to fill cakes or to add to frostings until completely chilled. 

 

NOTE: I use this to flavor frosting, fill cakes, vinaigrette dressing, and many other key lime recipes.

To fill a cake: frost the bottom layer with an even coating of frosting, pipe a frosting “dam” around the boarder of the frosted cake, then dollop a general tablespoon or two depending on the layer size, and spread evenly to the dam before topping with another layer of cake; and repeat until the top layer.

 

Categories
Cakes Home Recipes

Raising Sweet Awareness: A Blueberry Key Lime Cake for cancer

 

I custom made this cake to honor and raise awareness of some thing my husband and I have been dealing with for the past year. This month marks the year anniversary that we found out about my husband’s terminal cancer, Pancreatic NET’s or Pancreatic Neuroendochrine Tumor Cancer. Of course, I can remember like it was yesterday being told he had Pancreatic cancer, and literally I couldn’t process anything beyond that because all I could think of is that he’d be gone in 6-9 months because that is all I knew of Pancreatic Cancers from a childhood friend’s older brother who I remembered had died in less than a year of finding out about his cancer and anything attached to Pancreatic Cancer to that point was basically a quick and awful death. Finally when I was able to process above my tears and crying to hear what the hospital therapist was telling me that he was gonna get the best care and it was slow growing and not the one I was thinking of…it felt like an alternate reality that was crushing my world. My likes to tell people it is the Pancreatic Cancer that Steve Job’s had, not the one Patrick Swayze had.

 

What I know now compared to then is immense, and I don’t think you can gain a true understanding the first time you are told these kind of world turning news. There’s a whole life to find new footing, then shift to new gears, and figure out the new “norm”, all while mourning the things you hoped for that would change, and the changes along the way you don’t expect. It is a fine balance because you also need to remember to not get consumed by it, keep your own awareness of it because everything will now be measured and done with a respect of the new limitations. I speak of this as the spouse, the caretaker of the one who has this cancer. I cannot for a moment say I know what he goes through. I get an insight here and there…

The ribbons that inspired this custom cake are: 1) Purple Ribbon for Pancreatic Cancer, 2) Zebra-print Ribbon for NET’s or Neuroendocrine Tumor Cancer, and 3) Lavender Ribbon for Caretakers. There are many origins for NET’s, and my husband’s happened to be in his Pancreas, which is shut down and he is insulin dependent for the rest of his life and takes 4 shots a day of both long acting and short acting insulin–just the experience we have had adjusting to that gives me so much empathy for those suffering with diabetes, childhood and adult, and that alone is not fun. The Zebra-print Ribbon brings awareness to rare diseases and the awareness month is February, but I felt it was more appropriate for our personal journey to share it in our year anniversary of the beginning of this journey. The lavender was to honor all those who have cared for me and David, specifically at the hospital as this is where we got to share this cake today; but also to raise awareness of the toll that a caregiver goes through and that the caregiver also needs support.

I’ve never been keen on the color lavender, but now it holds a special place in my heart. Granted, I admit I didn’t go as true lavender with the frosting as I could have, but now this color is very personal to me. If you are a caregiver, or ever have been a caregiver no matter the capacity, it truly is very difficult. I could not do this in a professional capacity, so my thanks goes out to all who dedicate their lives to the well being of others. This color is so personal to me because of journey as a caretaker through this. You get not just the whole spectrum of emotions, but a whole depth and breadth you didn’t even conceive before the new “norm” you constantly have to adjust to.

There is so much you do not know when cancer enters your intimate life, and combine that with unconsious expectations you may have from treatments, or thinking life will go back to the way it was after a “treatment”, or not understanding the reality of “chemo-brain”, or the toll it takes on yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically. I remember the results from the first round of chemo lasting from March-August 2018. Nothing had changed. NOTHING HAD CHANGED? We went through 6 months of torture for NOTHING TO CHANGE?!!?!!!? What took me a while to digest and understand, what that this was a good result. The cancer had NOT gone aggressive, which is a possibility starting treatments. AND what I didn’t grasp from the beginning is that this treatment was not to eradicate the cancer, like I was expecting, but to manage it and see how it reacts. What I didn’t understand is that this was terminal in that there is NO KNOWN TREATMENT to eliminate this cancer from my husband’s body. There was only treatments to manage the tumors, and keep them from interfering with LIFE DEPENDENT PROCESSES. Oh, wow. Ok, so now I had to throw out the word REMISSION, and come to terms with and redefine my understanding of TERMINAL cancer. 

I want to come back for a moment to “chemo-brain.” Your loved one’s body is being ravaged by poison when going through chemo, and so many horrible side-effects…it literally messes with their brain! Not just memory, because there is legit memory loss, but personality. I never saw such anger, rage, callousness in my husband as I did during that first chemo. It got to the point I didn’t think we would last, and that I was just there to help him through this–that is how bad it was. 

It wasn’t until I spoke with my mom who had been taking care of my brother and his cancer for 10 years, that she helped me to understand the reality of this phenomena. IN fact, she had attended support groups as she was going through the roughest times caring for my brother. The impact “chemo brain” can have on a patient is pretty dramatic, and it isn’t the imagination of the caretaker. It truly is difficulty on all accounts and on all involved. It takes a lot of patience, understanding, and compassion, because empathy is nigh impossible is you aren’t the one going through the treatments…and vice versa for the caregiver.

My not understanding this “chemo brain” definitely played a toll on my relationship with my brother at the time I wanted to be closest to him knowing about his terminal cancer, and he was the most caustic and mean to the point we stopped talking for years. I wish for all family and friends’ of loved ones who go through this to gain an awareness of “chemo brain,” the toll caregivers go through, and the support they also need. My heart goes out to any and all impacted by a terminal cancer, or any cancer and treatment that goes with it.

Time to change gears and talk FLAVORS!!! In my brainstorming phase of this cake, I first thought of blueberry because that is a flavor my husband has been especially keen on. Later, I found out the colors of the ribbons associated with the message of awareness I wanted to promote revealed the purple and lavender that was perfectly aligned with the blueberry I was planning. Also, I had recently made Key Lime Cheesecake Sugar Cookies in the shapes of shamrocks for fun March themes of St. Patrick’s Day. Blueberry and key lime are ridiculously good together and so it just seemed to work out as if it was meant to be! I am OBSESSED with how GORGEOUS the pale lime goes with the purples, and how you see the natural fruit which just adds to the design and elegance IMO. The sprinkles pop on the pale green key lime frosting. I only used a drop of green coloring for the lime filling to flavor and color the frosting. The blueberry did all the work coloring the dark  lush fruit filling and lavender frosting. I used the key lime frosting from the cookies, and then mixed the blueberry filling (recipe below) I made with my Perfect Ratio Dreamy Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe at the bottom), some fun sprinkles, and voila the masterpiece to voice my message of Pancreatic NET’s and Caregiver Awareness was born! It was also a perfect way to say thank you for all the people who have cared for my husband this past year at the hospital. And it was a hit! 2nd and 3rd helpings…meanwhile these red velvet cupcakes sat sadly overlooked that someone had brought. I’m sorry, but not all cake is created, or made, equal! Proof is in the pudding, or in this case in the first bite! It is sooo delicious!!! I wish there was such a thing as smell-o-vision or taste-o-vision! The scent of the key lime and blueberry is so divine! No sickeningly sweet tasteless cake here!

Blueberry Key Lime Cake

Would you imagine for a moment, a cake so moist, so flavorful, there is no way you thought it came from a box? This cake sure is, BUT it will surprise to find out this recipe uses a box cake mix. The thing is, the BOX cake mixes are so nice to get on sale, AND they already deliver the dry ingredients you need in the perfect ratios saving time and potentially money…now it is just a mater of CUSTOMIZING that box cake mix to a cake that will rival the best bakery out there. After making this cake, with the blueberry and key lime fruit fillings, along with the Perfect Ratio Dreamy Cream Cheese frosting, you will have a flavor masterpiece that will blow the minds of everyone who has a taste…and I dare anyone to just have “a bite”!

1 white box cake mix

4 eggs

1 1/2 packages white chocolate instant pudding

1 c sour cream

 

1 c milk

1/2 c melted butter

1 to 1 1/2 c white chocolate chips, optional

3/4 to 1 c Blueberry Fruit Filling, recipe follows

1) Pre-heat the over to 365 degrees F if above 3000 ft elevation, or 350 degrees F if lower than 3000 ft elevation.

2) Prepare your layer cake pans AND bunt cake with my Quick-Release Cake Prep Mix(recipe at the bottom of the post) mix or grease your pan with lard (or butter) and dust with flour, and a parchment liner on the bottom(optional but i do not risk all my efforts to possibly having the cake stick to the pan).  **Even if you have a non-stick pan, it is worth greasing your pans with lard/butter and dusting with flour, or just having a batch of the Quick-Release Cake Prep Mix (see recipe in post).

3) Mix all the ingredients except the white chocolate chips and fruit filling in a stand mixer, or a large bowl and hand mixer until smooth. It will be thick. Do not over mix

4) Stir in the white chocolate chips and mix by hand with a spatula or spoon. 

5) Divide your batter between your prepared cake pans. If you want to marble your cake with the fruit filling: A) use half the batter, B) dollop 2-4 T of fruit filling in 3-5 spoonful drops, C) use a butter knife to swirl, but not fully mix the fruit filling, D) add the remaining batter and repeat dollops of fruit filling and swirls with a butter knife half way down, and E) level your batter in the pan (knock the cake pan on the counter top to get rid of air bubbles) before baking. 

*For a 3″ layer in a 6″ round pan, use 3 cups of batter, and bake for 35-40 min.

*For a 2″ layer in a 6″ round pan, use 2 1/4 cups batter, and bake for 28-36 min.

*For a 3″ layer in a 8″ round pan, use 5 cups of batter, and bake for 35-40 min.

*For a 2″ layer in a 8″ round pan, use 4 cups batter, and bake for 28-36 min.

*For a bunt cake, use the number of cups your bunt cake pan is sized by. If you overfill your bunt cake pan, it will overflow in the oven and create a huge mess to clean up…and ani’t no one got time for that! Don’t forget to grease and flour your bunt cake pan. 

NOTE: The picture below left shows my dollops of Razzleberry Fruit Filling before I take a butter knife and swirl to get the marble effect with the cake layers I used in this cake. The pic below right shows what my marbled batter looks like before I put it in the oven.  I actually used a layered method for this cake to get the fruit stripes, however, I did not get pictures of it.  To get a layered look, spread out the fruit filling instead of marbeling the dollops as pictured below; then layer more batter, spread it out, more filling, and repeat until you get the desired amount of batter/fruit-filling in the pan before baking. 

Blueberry Fruit Filling

3 c fresh or frozen blueberries 

1/2 c lemon juice

 

1 c sugar

4 T corn starch, mixed in 1 c cold water

 

1) Add all the ingredients except the corn starch & water mix in a sauce pan on med heat. 
2) Mash all the blueberries, sugar, and lemon juice with a potato masher. As the mix heats up and starts to boil, the berries will give off more of their juices and the sugar will dissolve. 
3) After the mix has had a chance to heat through, the berries give off their juices, and the sugar is dissolved, pour the mix into a blender. Blend until smooth and even. 
4) Pour back into the sauce pan, and bring to a boil on medium heat.
5) Add the corn starch and water mix, and let boil stirring constantly until thickened.
6) Let the fruit filling cool before adding to an airtight dish to chill in the refrigerator. DO not use to fill cakes or to add to frostings until completely chilled. 
7) To fill a cake: frost the bottom layer with an even coating of frosting, pipe a frosting “dam” around the boarder of the frosted cake, then dollop a general tablespoon or two depending on the layer size, and spread evenly to the dam before topping with another layer of cake; and repeat until the top layer.

Quick-Release Cake Prep Mix

In a 1:1:1 ratio, mix flour, lard or shortening, and vegetable oil. Mix until evenly incorporated, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. For example, I use 1 cup of each ingredient to mix up and have on hand to prepare all my cake pans before adding batter, and then baking. Cakes will come out clean and easily, with no sticking. I coat my pans with this mix using a silicone baster brush. I also add a cut parchment paper to the bottom of any flat bottomed cake pan I use.

Categories
Cakes Recipes

Erupting Dinosaur Cake

 

I know a little boy who is OBSESSED with dinosaurs…and he was about to turn 3. I knew I had to design a cake with plenty of dinosaurs, but I wanted to make sure he was ridiculously excited about his cake.  There couldn’t just be a volcano for looks on this cake, it had to ERUPT! I also cannot make a cake that just looks cute, but I always want to blow people’s socks off with taste, both kids and adults. A cake that tastes so good, I don’t care what diet you are on, you can NOT just have one bite!

 

I made the top 6″ tier a vanilla confetti cake with my Perfect Ratio Dreamy Cream Cheese Frosting to make sure any of the kids, including the birthday boy, who have a hard time trying something new would love. The bottom 8″ tier I used the same cake and frosting, but added my Razzleberry fruit filling in between each frosted layer so the older kids and adults had something they could really sink their teeth into and not just enjoy, but savour every single bite. I also added some pretzel rods to add interest to the cake design, and who doesn’t like a sweet and salty treat with your cake? I know I do! Sweet-n-salty as well as sweet-n-sour are my two favorite sweet flavor combinations.

I made the volcano out of rice cereal marshmallow treats, but of course I cannot just go with ordinary so I made Peanut Butter Rice Cereal Marshmallow Treats (recipe below). I used a wide mouth canning jar up against the stacked cake layers, and build the volcano around it with the warm, still pliable marshmallow treats. The glass jar then becomes the reservoir for the water and dry ice I will add as we sing happy birthday to add the effect of the volcano erupting. I made sure the volcano went above the stacked cake layers, as well as the glass jar.  To make sure the shape held, I would have to push the marshmallow treats as they cooled to make sure they stayed to get the shape I wanted for the volcano.  I wasn’t about to use frosting on the volcano, so I made a chocolate ganache to frost the volcano knowing the flavor of the chocolate compliments the peanut butter the best in my mind, as well as getting a great dark texture on the volcano. 

AND yes, when it is project go time, all order goes out the window and my counters get crazy. I intentionally wanted textured green frosting on the cake layers, not smooth, and I for sure didn’t want the grass to look cheesy but more artistic. I also didn’t want to use any piped tips to avoid anything that might look “girly” for this manly man-boy turning 3! For the water falls and the lava, I just filled a decorating bag without a piping tip. I also do not like one-dimensional color, so I added stripes of aqua, blue, and the plain white frosting for the water. For the lava, I mixed a deep orange red, and a bright orange-yellow that I put half and half in the piping bag to get the variegated colors. 

I added in the dinosaurs, trees, and shrubs to add interest, keeping in mind I didn’t want the green dinosaur to be in front of the green frosted cake background, so I switch it with the yellow one after this picture was taken. Mis up the colors to keep the eye moving with an artistic balance. I also crushed graham crackers that I sprinkled on the white frosting I added to the cake drum to make the beach of the dinosaur island cake. It’s looking great, but it was missing that extra umph…

I slept on it, happy with what I had, but I knew there was something more I needed. I thought about a number 3 candle, but I just feel they are so lackluster, common, and do not add to the look of a cake. I had made a double batch of my The Last Sugar Cookie Cutout Recipe You Will Ever Need for shamrock cookies I was planning to decorate with St. Patrick’s day around the corner, and I had a huge spider web cookie cutter from Halloween, and it hit me–make a Dono-tastic 3 with scales and colors that will pop with the cake!!! I also added the 3 cake balloons, and I was thrilled! It was ready!!!

In fact, we wouldn’t keep the birthday boy from touching all the aspects of the cake, wanting to play with the dinosaurs, or eat the cake right away! Fortunately the party was at Flip ‘N Out Extreme so there was plenty to distract him when all the kids started arriving. His reaction to the cake was priceless, and just brings me such joy!!! Oh, I forgot. Did you notice the gold dinosaur egg? I used gold dusting powder on a small cadbury egg. The birthday boy definitely couldn’t wait to devour it! He was so excited, I cannot but beam thinking about it! The whole party was a hit! There was no cake thrown out or left uneaten!!! I loved how many adults who originally didn’t want any cake because of watching what they ate, or not liking anything that is “sickeningly sweet” were devouring a slice. I got so many compliments on how cute the cake was at the beginning of the party, but the spark in their eyes when they made sure to come tell me how yummy the cake was! One gal was hilarious, and said she only took a slice to be nice and thought she would take a bit and throw the rest away, but she couldn’t stop raving how yummy the cake was! I love it! It makes me so happy!

Vanilla Confetti Cake

This cake recipe will knock anyone’s socks off, it is so good. AND it will dazzle any kid with the fun confetti sprinkles in the cake batter. Check out the Perfect Ratio Cream Cheese Buttercream Recipe that is easy to decorate with AND tastes amazing with this cake. NOTE: I wrap up the baked and cooled cake layers I am not immediately using in plastic wrap, and freeze for up to 3 weeks. Freezing cakes like this keeps them moist when thawed and ready to use.

1 white box cake mix

4 eggs

1 box  vanilla instant pudding

1/2 c sour cream

 

1 c milk

1/2 c melted butter

1/2 c confettie sprinkles

3/4 to 1 c Razzleberry Fruit Filling, recipe below

1) Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees F …cook low and slow, and you may need to add time to the suggested bake time; use a toothpick or cake tester to check doneness in the center before you pull the layers out of the oven. 

2) Prepare your layer cake pans AND bundt cake with my Quick-Release Cake Prep Mix (recipe below). **Even if you have a non-stick pan, it is worth using the Quick-Release Cake Prep Mix–after all your time and energy making and baking your cake, the last thing you want is to have half of it stick to the pan, and get a big crumbled pile of cake.

3) Mix all the ingredients except the sprinkles and fruit filling in a stand mixer, or a large bowl and hand mixer until smooth. It will be thick. Do not over mix

4) Mix in the sprinkles and stir by hand with a spatula or spoon. 

5) Divide your batter between your prepared cake pans. Level your batter in the pan (knock the cake pan on the counter top to get rid of air bubbles) before baking. 

*For a 3″ layer in a 6″ round pan, use 3 cups of batter, and bake for 35-40 min.

*For a 2″ layer in a 6″ round pan, use 2 1/4 cups batter, and bake for 28-36 min.

*For a 3″ layer in a 8″ round pan, use 5 cups of batter, and bake for 35-40 min.

*For a 2″ layer in a 8″ round pan, use 4 cups batter, and bake for 28-36 min.

*For a bunt cake, use the number of cups your bunt cake pan is sized by. If you overfill your bunt cake pan, it will overflow in the oven and create a huge mess to clean up…and ani’t no one got time for that! Don’t forget to grease and flour your bunt cake pan. 

Razzleberry Fruit Filling

3 c fresh or frozen mix of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries 

1/2 c lemon juice

 

1 c sugar

4 T corn starch, mixed in 1 c cold water

 

1) Add all the ingredients except the corn starch & water mix in a sauce pan on med heat. 
2) Mash all the berries, sugar, and lemon juice with a potato masher. As the mix heats up and starts to boil, the berries will give off more of their juices and the sugar will dissolve. 
3) After the mix has had a chance to heat through, the berries give off their juices, and the sugar is dissolved, pour the mix into a blender. Blend until smooth and even. 
4) Strain the juice back into the rinsed pan through a metal sieve using a metal spoon to circulate the seeds to get all the juice through. Discard the seeds.
5) Bring the seedless berry mix to a boil.
6) Add the corn starch and water mix, and let boil stirring constantly until thickened.
7) Let the fruit filling cool before adding to an airtight dish to chill in the refrigerator. DO not use to fill cakes or to add to frostings until completely chilled. 
8) To fill a cake: frost the bottom layer with an even coating of frosting, pipe a frosting “dam” around the boarder of the frosted cake, then dollop a general tablespoon or two depending on the layer size, and spread evenly to the dam before topping with another layer of cake; and repeat until the top layer.

Note: Let’s get real. I love to cook once and use multiple times. This recipe is modified from using a full 48 oz. bag of organic mixed berries consisting of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries from my local bulk store.  I then store in an airtight container and either keep in the fridge if I use it quickly, or freeze to have on hand and thaw as needed. 

Quick-Release Cake Prep Mix

In a 1:1:1 ratio, mix flour, lard or shortening, and vegetable oil. Mix until evenly incorporated, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. For example, I use 1 cup of each ingredient to mix up and have on hand to prepare all my cake pans before adding batter, and then baking. Cakes will come out clean and easily, with no sticking. I coat my pans with this mix using a silicone baster brush. I also add a cut parchment paper to the bottom of any flat bottomed cake pan I use.

Categories
Self Care Sugar Scrubs Uncategorized

5 Minute home Spa Treatment: Bronzing Sugar Scrub

 

I don’t know about you, but I could use more self-care in my daily routine that won’t take precious time away from my already overflowing plate. I also have limited money to spend on the things I want more than need, which I call my “luxury funds”–Oooooo, “luxury funds”…doesn’t that  just make spending that money seem more…LUXURIOUS…no matter how big or small that fund may be. Oh, ya.  Just like we all have the same 24 hours to use, and must prioritize where our times goes, we have to prioritize where our “luxury funds” go.  No matter how I would LOVE to have more hours in the day and days in the week, it simply cannot happen; however, there are ways we can make our “luxury funds” stretch. For example, one way I choose to spend my “luxury funds,” which is imperative for me is my premium clinical grade skin care that guarantees results, delivers results, and I won’t live without–you only get one face and that is the first thing people see and 90% of your selfie! Haha! Another person may choose to use their “luxury funds” on a pair of shoes, an outfit, a spa treatment…you get the idea.

 

So the question remains, how can we have it all? Or at least make our “luxury funds” stretch? One way I have figured out to do this is make my own custom spa treatment part of my daily self-care: sugar scrubs as my last step in the shower! AND I use high quality ingredients that are so good for skin AND so easy on anyone’s pocket book. You can elevate your sugar scrub by adding in fragrance oils, or essential oils of your own to further customize and elevate your home spa self-care treatment, and add aromatherapy to your self-care routine without taking more time away. No appointment necessary. No pricey treatment. No travel time or traffic to deal with. Just a luxurious, aromatic, exfoliating treatment that feels amazing and leaves your skin soft as a baby’s bottom while you do what you are already doing–taking a shower.
The recipe is SOOOOO easy, and so easy to customize. There are only 3 main ingredients, and some optional ingredients. The main ingredients are granulated sugar, olive oil, and coconut oil. The optional ingredients are fragrance oils or essential oils, and mica powders or food coloring. These are also great luxurious gifts you can customize which will deliver a home spa treatment and self-care for someone else without breaking your bank account! Win-win!!! I love to use these fragrance oils, and their Grapefruit Lily is my all time favorite. You can do seasonal scents or flavors; yes, you can make completely edible sugar scrubs using flavorings that can really fun in the bedroom–ooo la la! The sky’s the limit and let your creativity flow!
I usually make a big batch at a time after I run out, and fill up a bunch of glass jars I have completely cleaned inside and out. I love finding second use for items that keep me from throwing out more trash saving me money not having to buy jars. I do buy canning jars to use for gifts, or if I need more jars on hand. 
I gave a jar to my good friend who was in town for a work conference. The day after we met up for lunch, she texted me, “I kept asking myself why my skin feels and smells so good. it was the sugar scrub you made me! You gotta sell this stuff!” I made her a Pink Lemonade sugar scrub that I usually made in the summer, so watch out for that post!
I use jars that are not too deep so my fingers can get to the bottom without having to use a spoon. I will splurge when I see a cute random glass jar on sale or at a discount store. I found the red lid jars on a seasonal sale at The Container Store. I like to dress them up with a ribbon or colored butcher’s twine.  I will also buy my sugar and oils in bulk at Costco or Sam’s Club to reduce the cost even more. For this bronzing scrub, I was inspired by Sephora’s Kopari Coconut Body Glow.  AND I can promise you for that same price, you can have loads of your own custom bronzing sugar scrub. Initially, I just made a coconut oil and olive oil mix with a bronze mineral colorant, and it sat on my bathroom counter because I never used it. Meanwhile, I was using up all my sugar scrubs. I put 2 & 2 together, and voila, a BRONZING SUGAR SCRUB! Woo hoo! 
And I love it. I added a White Tea & Ginger fragrance oil this time because I was longing for our vacation in Grand Cayman (pictured above), where the hotel’s white tea scented shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and body lotion smelled sooooo good, and just the smell transports me to floating in the crystal clear, ridiculously aqua ocean. I had to put in a picture of that water to transport you, and then you’d understand my rambling and why I made a separate order for that fragrance oil. And let’s face it, winter drags on this time of year, and with spring on the verge, who can’t help but dream of some tropical escape? I sure do! Just choosing a scent that transports you to a wonderful memory or place just elevates the aromatherapy you can get from a custom sugar scrub.  AND if you haven’t been to a restaurant like Echo & Rig that has an amazingly scented sugar scrub in the bathroom to use after you wash your hands, you need to…and you need to leave some of your custom sugar scrub next to the sink like  so you can have that same luxurious experience at home, and for your guests. They will be massively impressed, and will wonder where you bought your sugar scrub!!! You can tell them you made it…or not! Haha!
Bonzing Coconut & Olive Oil Sugar Scrub
Do you struggle to find time and money for a luxurious spa treatment to boost your self-care? Making this custom sugar scrub is the solution. Not only will your skin benefit from the exfoliation, but the hydration of the coconut oil and olive oils, as well as getting aromatherapy in your own shower. No extra time to book and drive to an expensive spa appointment. Your showers become a luxurious spa treatment and important step in your daily self care without taking time away from your busy schedule. And it is luxurious at a very low cost. Customize your sugar scrub with only a few ingredients, and minimal time to make.

1 c coconut oil, melted

2+ c granulated sugar

1 T bronze mica powder

 

1 c olive oil

1-2 tsp, or 1-2 T a fragrance oil, essential oil, or combination of your choice to the strength of your choice (different oils have different potentcies)

 

1) Mix all the ingredients together until even incorporated. If it is too wet, add more sugar; and vice versa, if the mix is too dry add more sugar.
2) Fill clean glass containers with the sugar scrub mix, and close with an airtight lid.
3) Use as your last step in the shower by taking a palm full and rubbing over various parts of your body to exfoliate in circular motions. Rinse the sugar off, and the oils will stay to hydrate your skin. Proceed to dry off as normal, and finish your shower routine.

NOTE: I usually make a huge batch and fill a load of glass jars I have saved and cleaned (and reuse each time I made more). I save glass jars that I have cleaned from salsa, and various other kitchen ingredients, as well as canning jars; I do, however, make sure my fingers can reach the bottom so I don’t need a spoon to get it all in the shower. 

Categories
Cookies Frosting Recipes

Raspberry Cheesecake Sugar Cookie Cut-Outs

 

If you love raspberry cheesecake, you will absolutely die having one of these Raspberry Cheesecake Sugar Cookie Cutouts! I sure did!!! Wow, these were so good, and frankly it was a fluke how I came up with these. I needed a dessert on the fly for my Valentine’s dinner I was having at home for my sweetheart, but I needed everything to come together FAST! We both just had a long day at work, and it had already been a long couple weeks, so we were tired. There was no way we were going to fight the crowds to enjoy a romantic dinner, and I LOVE pulling out the “fancy” linens and tablewares. I had a few heart cut-out sugar cookies from the Valentine’s cookies I made left over, but not frosted–BTW these are THE BEST sugar cookies you will ever have…no sweet cardboard here! I had leftover raspberry filling and my Perfect Ration Dreamy Cream Cheese Frosting from a Dark Chocolate Ganache and Raspberry Valentine’s cake I made,  and it hit me! Decorate them just like the other cookies I did but with what I have one hand, and use the gold and white sprinkles with the red sanding sugar and red heart sprinkles I had. Voila! What They looked stunning!

 

So with that, the Citrus Spinach Salad and Citrus Vinaigrette with all the salad toppings minus the Lime Grilled Chicken , and the Chicken Marsala with my fresh Silky Smooth Spinach Pasta, we were just about set! I just had my husband grab a dollar loaf of french bread on the way home. In almost an instant, we had fabulous Valentine’s dinner at home! Then I remembered I had leftover butter balls I made for an event, the stuff for my alcohol-free Sparkling White Grape Juice, left over strawberry filling I blended up to make Sour Non-Alchoholic Strawberry Daiquiris, lemons to slice for the water goblets, and boom, our dinner was just elevated to a 5-Star dining event without the high price and reservations, but full of fresh ingredients and the most flavorful meal we’ve had on a Valentine’s to date. Man, I have my work cut out for me to top this next year!

What I wasn’t expecting, was how freaking good those cookies I threw together were! Oh wow! I was in Raspberry Cheesecake Nirvana and I was eating a cookie!!! You don’t even know the pure blissful food-gasmic noises I was making eating that cookie. I wanted to eat my husband’s, but it look all my love and restraint I could muster to NOT eat his too! AND he is a slow, I mean S-L-O-W eater! Dang that was torture. The only solace I had was that I had enough cookies, filling, and frosting to have another tomorrow night along with our leftover from this dinner. Did I mention how much I LOVE leftover? I mean all the flavor, if not more, without the cooking and minimal cleanup!!! Win win win!!!

This was the Dark Chocolate Ganache Raspberry cake I made for a husband surprising his wife with on Valentine’s. It was so beautiful and the fresh raspberry filling I used in the dark chocolate cake layers, as well as to decorate and flavor the outside was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Decadent, rich, with the tang of cream cheese frosting, and the bright fresh sweet and sour of the raspberry was the perfect romantic combination to heighten all your senses. P.S. Did you know that besides sex, while eating we use all of our senses? How sensuous is that! No wonder food goes hand in hand with Valentine’s Day and any romantic date!

I had to show you the cookies I had all the leftover cutouts from, and my inspiration to decorate my Raspberry Cheesecake cookies. These are still my favorite, but you have to understand, I have a dickens of a time picking absolute favorites; to me everything depends on nuances and differences. These cookies for example, I couldn’t say which I my absolute favorite because they are both so dang good–one just happens to be more of a buttercream frosting, I call Cooked Frosting, and the other creamcheese, using my Perfect Ratio Dreamy Cream Cheese Frosting, both using different berries that are both so ridiculously good. So don’t ask me for all time favorites, unless you want a complete list with differing qualifications and my own custom sub-categories! Haha! Yes, I am THAT complicated when it comes too what I consider to be “favorites” and I have a ton of them!

Raspberry Cheesecake Sugar Cookie Cutouts

Have you ever thought what a Raspberry Cheesecake would taste like in a cookie form? These are it! Seemingly simple, the flavor will surprise you how good they are, and the all natural color you get from the raspberry fruit filling is only surpasses by its flavor.  Jazz them up with sanding sugar and sprinkles, and you have a masterpiece to indulge in by sight, smell, and taste. 

1 batch The Last Sugar Cookie Cutout Recipe You will Ever Need

1 piping bag (tips are optional for this look)

sanding sugar and sprinkles (optional)

 

1 recipe Perfect Ratio Dreamy Cream Cheese Frosting

1 recipe Raspberry Fruit Filling (below)

 

1) Let your cookies completely cool before frosting to avoid melted frosting. 

2) If you have chilled your frosting, let it come to room temperature, then beat with a stand mixer or hand mixer to regain creamy fluffiness.

3) Completely chill your Raspberry Cake Filling before using. 

4) Stripe your piping bag with the raspberry filling, twice, one on opposite sides of the bag. Sometimes it works better for me to fill the piping bag with cream cheese frosting before striping with the filling. 

5) I do not use a piping tip to achieve this look. Start the top, and pipe a round bubble of frosting, and as easing off your piping pressure, pull back and create a smooth shell shape. Continue in rows with the contours of the cookie cutout. 

6) OPTIONAL: Top with spangles and sanding sugar of your choice. 

Raspberry Fruit Filling

1 1/2 c fresh or frozen raspberries 

1/4 c lemon juice

 

1/2 c sugar

2 T corn starch, mixed in 1/2 c cold water

 

1) Add all the ingredients except the corn starch & water mix in a sauce pan on med heat. 
2) Mash all the raspberries, sugar, and lemon juice with a potato masher. As the mix heats up and starts to boil, the berries will give off more of their juices and the sugar will dissolve. 
3) After the mix has had a chance to heat through, the berries give off their juices, and the sugar is dissolved, pour the mix into a blender. Blend until smooth and even. 
4) Strain the juice back into the rinsed pan through a metal sieve using a metal spoon to circulate the seeds to get all the juice through. Discard the seeds.
5) Bring the seedless raspberry mix to a boil.
6) Add the corn starch and water mix, and let boil stirring constantly until thickened.
7) Let the fruit filling cool before adding to an airtight dish to chill in the refrigerator. DO not use to fill cakes or to add to frostings until completely chilled. 

Categories
Cakes Home Recipes

“Love is Sweet” Cake

 

The first time I saw this humongous heart shape lollipop, an image of an over-the-top “Love is Sweet” candy cake for Valentine’s Day popped vividly in my head. I KNEW this would be a hit to celebrate Valentines with kids. I also knew this was so delicious that the adults would enjoy it even more than the kids! The family that this cake went too said the kids went crazy over it and that the parents initially didn’t think they would be able to enjoy it because it looked too sweet…that is until they took a bite! “Five stars and two thumbs up! Everyone loved every aspect of it. My wife and I loved the flavor of it as well!”

 

Five stars and two thumbs up! Everyone loved every aspect of it. My wife and I loved the flavor of it as well!

DC Swanson

Dad and CFO of the Swanson Crew

Isn’t this every kid’s and adult kid’s dream?!!???! Oh, and the cotton cady was so good too. The cotton candy I used in this cake are not available anymore, but I have used this one here, glitter to top the cotton candy here, limited edition sprinkles here, the lollipop from Dylan’s, and I used these Sweet & Sour Conversation Hearts that I had never seen before this year’s Valentine’s season. I am OBSESSED with sour candy, so these were perfect, and so good. I had to have some as I was decorating this cake! I also used the cake recipe and Razzleberry filling from this post. You can learn how to marble the cake layers here as well.

Let’s talk cream cheese frosting for a second. Personally, I cannot handle sickeningly sweet frosting, and I want my frosting to add to the flavor of the cake as a whole. Besides this cooked frosting, I use cream cheese frosting on my cakes and cookies. The problem with most cream cheese frostings are that they cannot be piped and will NOT hold their shape. When I was planning my wedding cake pictured to the right, I was on the hunt for a cream cheese frosting that holds up to decorating or piping. I looked high and low. finally I found this one, a crusting buttercream. I found it to be easy to pipe and decorate my cakes. Of course I tweaked the recipe to create a truly custom gourmet cream cheese flavor that is out of this world so tasty, AND that is perfect to pipe and decorate any cake. May I present my Perfect Ratio Dreamy Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting!  

Check out the piping details, texture details, and edible black cake lace in the pics below.

This frosting holds any piping beautifully! If you are used to traditional cream cheese frostings, then you know what I mean when I say those recipes are great for a bunt cake or slathered on frosting BUT IN NO WAY would it hold up being piped or used to decorate a cake, cupcake, or cookies.

The wedding cake I used the crusting decorator’s cream cheese buttercream, and the other two cakes I used my Perfect Ratio Dreamy Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting. The recipe is posted below. I wanted to demonstrate the versatility of this frosting, and give you an idea why it is my go-to cream cheese frosting recipe. I also use it to make a frosting that is half and half with Cooked Frosting, as well as add fruit filling to stripe and flavor different variations of this frostings, which I use on my The Last Sugar Cookie Cut-Out Recipe You will Ever Need cookies. For this cake, I used this White Chocolate Razzleberry Cake recipe, and I used my cream cheese frosting recipe to fill and frost (at the bottom of this page).  I literally cannot get myself to use any other base frostings that these two: Cooked Frosting, and The Perfect Ratio Dreamy Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting (recipe below).  I build all other flavors from these, and have a blast coming up with different variations. 

Perfect Ratio Dreamy Cream Cheese Frosting

Have you been looking for a cream cheese frosting you can also pipe and stable enough to fill a cake? Do you not only want the flavor of cream cheese frosting, but the flexibility to design and pipe a gorgeous cake? Did you think you could have a cream cheese frosting that tastes better than you could imagine? Then this recipe of the perfect fit for you. The salt brings out the flavor and balances the sweetness in this frosting. The last thing you want is sickeningly sweet frosting to take away from your cake masterpiece. You do not want to miss the secret ingredients that add a dimension of flavor to your cream cheese buttercream that makes it out of this world memorable! This makes a great base frosting to customize with fruit fillings, or mix with Cooked Frosting.  Really, there is no limit what you can do with this frosting. 

1 c salted butter (2 sticks), room temperature

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature

1 tsp salt

2+ T butter powder 

2+ T cream cheese powder, to taste

 

1 T vanilla (clear vanilla for a whiter frosting)

1 tsp Creme bouquet Flavor

5 c powder sugar

*NOTE: If I want to turn this into a crusting frosting, I will omit 1/2 stick of butter, and use white shortening, and add 1 c of powder sugar 

 

1) Cream the butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer, or large bowl with a hand mixer until creamy and fluffy.
2) Add the remaining ingredients except for the power sugar, and miz untilevenly incorporated.
3)Add the powder sugar in 1 c increments with the mixer off, scraping in between with a silicone spatula until the right consistency is reached. 
4) To pipe, use right away. If you need to store the frosting, put in an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator; just know if you plan to pipe from a chilled state, I recommend letting it come up to room temperature and beat with a hand mixer or a stand mixer to keep fluffy before piping.