Thursday, September 22, 2011

If you're in the mood for awesome...

You MUST try this recipe:

Browned Butter Snickerdoodle Brownies with Butterscotch Sauce

It is no exaggeration to say that this is one of the best things I've ever tasted. I was expecting a chewy, more brownie-like texture and a thicker sauce... but this turned out more like a extremely soft, rich spice cake with gooey caramel/butterscotch glaze.

There are so many overlapping flavors that as you keep eating it you keep experiencing different tastes: sweet, salty, buttery... but let me tell you that more than a small piece and you will be toast for the rest of the night. A little goes a long way.

Here's what I modified (though the recipe requires little modification) and a few things to note:

1) I lined the 9x13 inch pan with parchment paper, but only used spray cooking oil to coat the bottom - the flouring of the pan is really unnecessary for this recipe.

2) The directions on browning butter are very helpful - it enhances the butter smell/nutty flavor that you can taste in the final product, so don't skip this step!

3) Don't be afraid to use a full 2 teaspoons of salt in the brownie - it will actually enhance the sweetness of the brownie and highlights the other flavors.

4) I decreased the amount of brown sugar in the brownie to just around 2 cups - it's not much of a difference, but it made me feel a little less guilty serving it up. :)

5) Add the slightly beaten eggs to the mix a little at a time - this will keep the eggs from cooking in the hot browned butter.

5) I increased the mount of salt in the butterscotch sauce to almost 3/4 teaspoon (but I'm a sucker for salted caramel - I would recommend tasting the sauce and add more salt a very little bit at a time to find what you like best). Also, I added just a splash of vanilla to the sauce which helped the flavor and aroma.


Friday, September 9, 2011

What's Bakin'

Wow, talk about a serious lapse in blogging - I'm sure all two of you who follow this blog are relieved to see that (a) the last cake project didn't kill me and (b) I was not abducted by aliens.

In actuality, 2011 has been a very VERY busy year - from Memorial Day through Labor Day we experienced an almost constant flow of friends, family, and the occasional vagabond to keep us plenty busy all summer. It was a rich time with our loved ones, but left little time for blogging and baking.

And now fall is upon us. The weather (literally) changed overnight this week: hot and humid 90+ degree weather one day, and chilly and rainy 60 degree weather the next. We're officially in the season of apples and pumpkins (pie, anyone?), sweaters, trick or treating, and hay rides.

Speaking of trick or treating, I've started the (rather painful) task of figuring out Halloween costumes for the kids. Our daughter has started preschool this year and will be attending an actual Halloween party, so the pressure is on to put out some real effort.

The kids have been on a serious aquatic animal/creature kick these days, so it was no surprise when our daughter asked to be a jellyfish this year. At first I balked at the idea (my sewing skills are only slightly behind my bread baking skills - see here). Until I found this link for a no-sew jellyfish costume:

This seems doable even for a sewing/crafting dunce like myself. Hot glue and some ribbon? I think I can handle that.

This gave me enough courage to search for other aquatic-related costumes for little brother... and then I found this:

I think I just died from overexposure to cuteness.

This costume was listed in an article titled "10-Minute Halloween Costumes."


Eye-squelching cuteness factor AND can be completed in less time than it takes to check my email? DONE.

What kind of costume ideas have you got cookin'?


G-Bug loved her costume (though it does wobble a bit)

Little brother, on the other hand....
Note: Don't make this costume for kids who are sensitive to scratchiness.
Or goldfish. Or fun.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Wedding Cakes - A Labor of Love

When people look at wedding cakes, they (hopefully) see the dainty flowers, swirly icing, crisp edges, maybe even imagine what it will taste like.

What people usually don't see are the countless hours, weeks of planning, tears shed, baking snafus, flowers that shattered, illness, and the numerous other ways Murphy's Law tried to sabotage the entire project.

I choose to believe that prayers were answered in the completion of this cake for our dear friends Tim and Stephanie. It was such a joy to celebrate their coming together as husband and wife with them, and the fact that the cake was truly a labor of love made the presentation that much more rewarding.

Congrats, Mr & Mrs Tim and Stephanie Strader!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

I'm filling a little pleased with myself...

(Insert your groan here for the horrible pun, I couldn't resist.)

So, this weekend is kind of a big deal. One of Jason's best friends is getting married to a fantastic girl, and we couldn't be more excited for them. We are honored to be asked to join the revelry, as well as doing our best to make this celebration a really special day... the beginning of a new and wonderful season of marriage. Hooray!

As a wedding gift, I offered to make the wedding cake... my first three tier (gulp) and my first try working with gum paste (double gulp). So far it's been going well, mostly due to the fact that I allotted every evening this week to preparation. Tonight was cake baking and filling making night.

The bride and groom decided on raspberry buttercream filling in the bottom layer and honey cinnamon buttercream filling in the middle layer. I was pretty confident that both of these recipes would be tasty and bring a little extra oomph to the cake... but MAN! I am seriously impressed with the subtle flavors and the wonderful creaminess of these fillings! So much so that I am designating an entire blog post about them. Try them - you will understand why.

Raspberry Buttercream Icing
**Note: You can substitute butter for the shortening - it will be more natural and taste even better. However, if you are needing it to be able to firm up and hold its shape you will need to at least use 1/4 cup shortening. Also, I increased the amount of raspberry preserves to 1/2 cup for a little more flavor (I used Smucker's Simply Fruit preserves)

Honey Cinnamon Frosting
**Note: Double the cinnamon - you won't regret it. Also, you can increase the confectioner's sugar up to 2 cups if you need more stability, though it will make it significantly sweeter.

More wedding related posts coming soon!

Friday, January 7, 2011


The Pixar movie "Cars" has got to be on the Top Ten List for all children under the age of six - of course, my kids and several of their friends are no exception. In the last three months I have made TWO Lightning McQueen cakes as gifts to two very Car-lovin' boys.

I want to dedicate this first cake to my Wilton instructor, Miss Veronica. Even though I only made it to half of the classes, I gleaned a lot of helpful information that made this cake a success. So, thanks for letting an exhausted 3rd trimester pregnant student in to your class with her lopsided cakes and poorly mixed icing. Oh, and happy birthday, Owen!

The second cake was for our friend and neighbor Cameron - I used the frozen buttercream transfer method (FBCT - see this previous post for details of method):

Finding just the right picture for this cake was tough - none of the online coloring pages had just what I was looking for. I eventually ended up just printing an image of a Cars birthday invitation and used it as a stencil. Thankfully, the birthday boy enjoyed seeing both McQueen and Tow Mater on his cake, making all of the extra effort worthwhile. :)

So there are the Cars cakes... I think I've filled my vehicle cake quota for a while.