Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cakepops for the Cure!

October was National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

I have participated in "The Walk For The Cure" several times over the
last twenty years......but this year, I wanted to do something
a little different.

So I made Cakepops.

In fact, I made a hundred of them.

 Decadent chocolate cakepops with "pretty in pink" candy coating.
Then I wrapped each of them up,
and tied them with cute little "pink for the cure" ribbons.

And I donated the proceeds to the American Cancer Society.

Because we HAVE to find a cure.....

Need I say more?

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Shoes


it's just all


the shoes.

(even if I spelled it wrong. I'm sorry, Manolo.)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I haven't baked in weeks It hasn't rained in weeks.  Sweet Moses, it's a drought of epic proportions! Combine this with scorchingly high temperatures in addition to the sudden onset of my flaming, raging hot flashes and you'll know why I have taken a little "blogger" vacation. My once beautiful expanse of green grass has been reduced to something from the Dust Bowl, while most days you can find me with my head in the freezer (literally). For those that have never experienced a "hot flash".............let me set up a visual for you.  Imagine that it's wintertime. You are bundled up in a nice thick, warm coat.  You're comfortable and life is good. Then you enter a crowded department store. You're wedged shoulder to shoulder with other people. It's getting hot. You suddenly have a tremendous feeling of claustrophobia and heat starting to creep up your back. You know you need to remove your coat as fast as possible to cool down. But you can't.  Back to reality now......YOU CAN'T REMOVE YOUR COAT BECAUSE YOU'RE NOT WEARING ONE....THAT'S A HOT FLASH, BABY! Now, imagine this scenerio occuring about 15 - 22 times a day. While I'm working. While I'm baking. While I'm sitting still.

         I think you get the picture.

The business of moving is time consuming........ athough it's almost three months later and I know I still have six boxes left to unpack. Although, it's a little like Christmas when I open them up, and all the while I wonder, "How have I managed to live all these months without all of this CRAP?" It's amazing what we think "we need", isn't it? But other than that, my new house is F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S! My family is now only a four minute car ride away. Or 14 minutes on my bicycle. Or a 32 minute walk. Anyway, as a result, I get to see Kathy, John and the kids ALOT. Like everyday.

Sometimes three times a    twice a day.

My nephew Cameron is going to be fifteen this week. Gulp. Fifteen?? Didn't I just make that kid a cake? What? It was a year ago? This is such a freaky age for boys, isn't it? They struggle to act like adults, but somehow don't quite pull it off. It's all about being cool.....and I don't mean in temperature. It's hard to get a reaction out of him, at least the type of reaction that I want to see. You know, like when he was little, I'd pull up to his house in the car, he would immediately run and jump and hop and clap his hands.

I just don't get that reaction anymore.  It's a little depressing. Now, if I'm lucky, I may get a small smile and a head nod. But I get it. It's just not "cool" to jump and hop  and clap when you're fifteen.

So I roll my eyes and ignore the reaction. At least I try to. Because he's fifteen. Compared to what alot of kids are doing at fifteen (insert rolling of the eyes here), this kid's pretty boring. Um....moving right along...

Anyway, Cameron loves sushi, which I find unusual for a kid his age. In any case, even though I've done it before, I incorporated the idea into a birthday cake.

He loved it.


                                                                  I think.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Memorable Memorial Day

I lost my girl Emily this weekend.
I am heartbroken but I know that it was time to let her go. I miss her terribly and will treasure my memories of her forever.

My girl.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I'm Back In The Game!

I love baseball.

Something about a warm summer night under the lights, a light breeze blowing in, the faint smell of hotdogs and popcorn in the stands, happy, smiling faces.................and a bunch of hot athletic-looking guys running around on a field. Sigh.

I was recently asked to make a cake for a Nursing School graduation, but it also had to acknowledge the graduate's favorite Red Sox player. In short, the cake had to reflect a nurse taking care of Josh Beckett. No problem I said confidently. It was only after I hung up the phone did I look at Emily and say frantically, "I can't do this! Why did I say I could do this?

Once I came in from the ledge, I sat down and sketched a plan, then I assembled my tools and started working. I used an ample supply of Rice Krispy Treats and "glued" them together with chocolate frosting. Ummmmmm.

Don't you just love these little things? I like the homemade version better, but the commercially prepared ones are the most convenient when you're building a structure.

Next I had to mold people. Egads!!!! Since this was my first attempt, I knew the figures had to be more like caricatures, meaning that the facial and body features would be out of proportion and grossly exaggerated.


More fun too.

While this head was drying I had to face it towards the wall. The dog kept barking at it. I was afraid that during the night it was going to come to life and kill me in my sleep.

What a cutie pie....or is the term "hottie" more appropriate?

Poof! You're a cake Josh! It's been beaten with an ugly stick, yes.

But it's a cake none the less.

I used "Jimmies" a.k.a. "Sprinkles" to make the chest hair. LOL

Aside from some obvious skin grafting on his shoulder, giant mutant chest hairs and freakish man-breasts, it's pretty funny, isn't it?

Please note that this look can only be achieved with implants.
Fondant implants.

I tried to capture the little details.....note the shamrock "tat" on Ashley's foot.

I hope she liked that and wasn't put off or insulted by the sparkly red stillettos.....that I know all my nursing friends secretly wear.........while they're caring for Red Sox Pitcher, Josh Beckett.
......in their dreams.

The cake itself was a half sheet in size. One side was a rich chocolate and the other a golden vanilla. It was filled with a fluffy vanilla buttercream.

So congratulations on your graduation Ashley!

Now go play ball.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Someone hit the "Play" button please!

So, where was I? Ahhh, yes. A couple of weeks of baking literally hundreds of French macarons everyday....I finally mastered the technique. Just in the nick of time too, as my family and friends were starting to speak French fluently. So if anyone needs any advice in baking Macarons, please ask. I can make them in my sleep.

Then, I moved.

Yes. After years and years, I finally sold the house with that beautiful brand new kitchen with the stainless steel appliances and shiny black granite countertops. You see, it was all in the plan. My master plan....and it worked. I needed change in my life on so many levels that I started with the biggest. The other changes are a work in progress. It was a great feeling to unload sell that house and I haven't looked back once. I think that means that I was really ready to go, doesn't it?

I know that I have been so-o-o-o lame about posting to my Blog but all I've been doing is unpacking. Although I'm getting tons of emails commenting about my absence, rest assured I am working on a new baking project and plan to return very soon. I promise.

From a new kitchen.

In a new house.

In a new town.

Just 4 minutes away from my sister, Kathy.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Ahhhh....You're Nuthin' But A Creampuff.

Have you ever seen anything more beautiful?

I mean......other than me?

Okay, okay. Seriously, my sister Kathy asked me to make something for our annual Easter family gathering. I mean, aside from the usual cupcakes and cakeball pops. She gave me this recipe saying that she had sampled it at a friend's house and it was a show stopper. And as you can see from the photo.......................it is. It is so easy and quick to make it's almost ridiculous. In fact, I had to re-read the recipe twice just because I thought I missed something. But I didn't. So fasten your seat belts, because this one is going to change your life.

I used my large Creuset, a.k.a. Big Blue and followed the painfully SIMPLE instructions.
1 c. water
2 sticks OR 1 cup of butter
1 c. flour
4 eggs

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 large pkg. vanilla instant pie filling
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 (1 oz.) squares unsweetened chocolate
2 tbsp. butter
1 c. confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
4-5 tbsp. hot water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, then heat water and butter to boiling in 1 quart saucepan; stir in flour. Stir vigorously until mixture forms a ball, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add eggs, beat until smooth. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheet to form about an 8" ring. Smooth top with spatula. Bake until puffed and golden, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool ring, cut off top with sharp knife. (Pull out any soft dough) Beat heavy cream until it forms a fairly firm peak. Combine 1 cup milk, pudding/pie filling mix and extract in medium mixing bowl on low speed until blended, about 1 minute. Combine heavy cream and vanilla pudding mixture and fill cream puff ring. Replace top of cream puff ring. In a double boiler or small saucepan over boiling water, blend chocolate and butter, stirring until chocolate melts; remove from heat. Blend in sugar and vanilla, gradually stir in enough hot water until glaze consistency is reached. Drizzle over top of cream puff ring.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Then add 1 cup of water....

and a cup of butter (2 sticks) and bring to a boil in a large pot or heavy pan.

Once the butter is melted,

Add 1 cup of flour...

...and stir vigorously together until the mixture forms a soft ball, then remove from the heat.

In a separate bowl, whisk together 4 eggs and add to the flour and butter mixture.

I usually always crack the eggs in a separate bowl so I can catch any rogue shell pieces. Did you ever eat a piece of cake and all of a sudden crunch down on a piece of eggshell?? Ahhhhhh! Gag me.

This is where an electric hand mixer comes in handy. You can whip the everlivin' daylights out of a batter in a flash!

Once the batter is thoroughly combined, you can either drop the batter by heaping tablespoons onto a lined cookie sheet OR you can pipe the batter on with a decorative tip. Can you believe I just said that?? I just gave myself chills. I sounded just like Martha Stewart................NOT.

I am a huge fan of parchment paper. It's neat and it's clean. No fuss, no muss.

Bake your Creampuff Ring for 45-50 minutes or until it is golden brown. If you see the tops getting a little too brown, you can cover it with tinfoil.

It's a thing of beauty, isn't it?

Once it was completely cooled, I used a serrated knife to slice it in half horizontally. Now pull out all of that doughy pastry inside and throw it away. Why? Because we all know that the middle is the fattening part, that's why. Geez, some people. Anyway, when you slice the ring in two, some of the cream puffs may break off , but it's easy to hide once the chocolate sauce is on. Haven't I always taught you that chocolate sauce solves many problems???

Moving on.........I used my big mixer with the whisk attachment to whip the heavy cream, while in another bowl I mixed 2 cups of very cold milk with one large box of vanilla pie filling/pudding.

Then, I added them together.

The mixture should thicken up almost to the consistency of soft-set pudding. Once the Creampuff is refrigerated, the filling will finish setting up really well.

Again, I have to be difficult, right?? I usually use a glass vase to hold my piping bag open while I fill it.....but keep in mind that it's just as easy to spoon the filling into the Creampuff. This is just my obsessive-compulsive baking side rearing it's ugly head. Please ignore me when I get like this.

See? Spooning the filling works just as well.

Moses, I am such a fanatic sometimes.

If some of the Creampuff breaks apart, DO NOT BREAK GLASS. DO NOT PANIC. DO NOT CALL 911.

You'll be fine. Once you replace the top half, no one will know. Except the dog, of course.

And she's not telling anyone.

So now comes the really fun part. The chocolate.

Be still my heart.

This is yet another deadly chocolate recipe. Seriously, it's heart-stopping. Quick! Go and make some right now. I'll wait.

2 squares of unsweetened chocolate

2 tablespoons of butter

1 cup of confectioners sugar (powdered)

1 teaspoon of vanilla

4-5 tablespoons of hot water

Heat the chocolate and butter over a double boiler.......or just use a small pan over another pan of boiling water. Once it's blended, remove from the heat and add the confectioners sugar and vanilla and stir it well. Add the hot water gradually to get the consistency thick enough to adhere to the Creampuff, but so runny that it falls off the top.

Think Hot Fudge Sundae.

In fact........wouldn't that be a great saying for a bumper sticker? Unless of course you are a lifetime member of Weight Watchers. Then..........I could see how you may run into some problems at the annual convention.

Um, what was I saying?

Oh yes. Of course. THE CREAMPUFF. Once I finished drizzling and dolloping the chocolate fudge sauce over the top of the Creampuff, I reserved a little extra whipped cream to make some decorative little toppers.

Then I added some beautiful little red raspberries which had been dunked in a "smidge" of the chocolate. You know................for color. Then I filled the centers with fresh strawberries. I was going to dip them in chocolate too, but that's another post for another time.

The end result of this CreamPuff was heart-stopping. See? Aurelie doesn't know whether to slice into it or just karate-chop it with the serving knife.

It was all so exciting. And delicious. And when all of the screaming was over..........there was nothing left on either plate except the crumbs.

And maybe a couple of tears of joy.

So are you still sitting here reading this?

Jeepers. You could have made two of them by now.