Saturday, July 18, 2009

Airbrushing a Wedding Cake ornament

I had a wedding cake client that ordered up a beautiful buttercream layer cake with a silver bow cascading down the front. Traditionally, I hand paint everything that has any kind of edible silver on it. However, this bow was just too big. So, I bit the bullet and purchased an airbrush machine. Much to my husband's dismay I am now hooked. Next up I will probably be trying to spray tan myself and give all the neighborhood kids tatoos!
I researched the various options for an airbrush and they come in all shapes, sizes and price ranges. I found through speaking to a large number of experts and doing some online homework that the KopyKake Brand is really the best choice. I chose the air master model which has adjustable settings for air pressure of 0-30psi giving you greater contgrol over details. Here it is: The cost is steep ($250) but you will have it for the long term and there are a million things you can do with it.
So, I delivered the cake last Saturday, 7/11 and I already recieved a home visit and beautiful thank you note from the bride and groom. I am very happy with the way it turned out and looking forward to doing some more airbrush work!

Toffee-Tiramisu Layer Cake

My new 2009 Christmas with Southern Living arrived and I quickly devoured it's contents. There were so many delictable choices! I settled up on a cake that had a mix of my favorites: French vanilla cake, heath bar and whipped cream! The recipe is rather simple. A important note however! I also make the cake at day ahead and let it sit in the fridge for at least 24 hours or longer and meld in all the flavors. It is even better! I received RAVE reviews when I served this and will definitely make it again!

Here are the simple steps>
The Cake:
Prep time: 27 min. Cook time: 30 min. Other: 24 hr.
  • Wax Paper
  • 1 18ox pkg French Vanilla cake mix
  • 1 pkg (1.16 oz) Swiss Mocha Cappuccino mix ( I used International foods Suisse Mocha Drink mix)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 lg eggs
  • 3/4 cup Cinnamon Espresso Syrup: See recipe below
  • Mascarpone Frosting: See recipe below
  • 3 (1.4 oz) chocolate covered toffee candy bars (i used ALOT more!
  • Garnish: additional chopped toffee or white/dk chocolate shaving
Preheat over to 350. Lightly grease 2 round cake pans. Line with wax paper. Lightly grease wax paper. dust pans with flour, shake off excess and set aside.
Beat cake mix, next 3 ingredients and 1 cup water in a large bowl at low speed with electric mixer 30 seconds then beat for 2 minutes at medium speed. Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake at 350 for approx 28 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into cake comes out clean. Let cool in pans on wire racks for 10 min and then remove. Discard was paper and cool layer completely on wire racks for an hour. Wrap and chill layers 1-24 hrs (this step enable you to split layers with ease.
Using a serrated knife, slice layers in half horizontally to make 4 layers. Place 1 layer cut side up on a cake plate. Brush with 1/4 of cinnamon espresso syrup. Spread with 1-1/2 cup of mascarpone frosting. Sprinkle with one fourth chopped chocolate covered toffee pieces. Repeat process with remaining 3 layers, syrup, frosting and chopped candy bar. frost sides of cake with remaining frosting and garnish as desired. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Store in refrigerator. Yields 12 servings:
Cinnamon-Espresso Syrup:

  • 1 cup water
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 3" cinnamon stick broken in half
  • 1 Tbsp instant espresso powder
  • 1/4 cup coffee liqueur
Bring 1 cup water, sugar, and cinnamon stick to boil in small saucepan. boil 1 minute. Remove from heat and let stand 15 min. Remove and discard cinnamon stick. Stir in espresso powder and liqueur
Mascarpone Frosting:
  • 2 8oz containers of mascarpone cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon espresso syrup
  • 2-1/2 cups whipping cream, whipped
Beat first 3 ingredients at low speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add Cinnamon Espresso syrup, beating until smooth. Fold in whipped cream and cover and chill until ready to use. Yields 8-1/2 cups

French Vanilla Cake Mix
I used 6 heath bars!
Espresso Syrup
Two layer cakes soon to become four
Fill layers with Marscapone Frosting
Refridgerate for at least 24 hours. Slice and Serve.
So Amazing you will LOVE IT!

Monday, July 6, 2009

The BEST Cherry Pie EVER!

I came across an easy and absolutely divine recipe for Cherry Pie that I made yesterday for my Dad (whose favorite pie is cherry). It requires only a few ingredients and is pretty basic, yet it tastes as if you spent hours in the kitchen. So, here is is:

The Ingredients: 6 cups frozen tart or fresh cherries, 2 cups sugar, 6 tablespoons corn starch, 1/4 teaspoon almond extract and your favorite pie crust recipe (double batch for top and bottom).

Mix 2 cups of sugar with 6 tablespoons of corn starch in small bowl

Take the 6 cups of cherries and cook COVERED over low heat until cherries emit their juice. This may take up to 5 minutes

Add the sugar mixture and stir continuously while it thickens.

Once thickened, stir in Almond Extract and remove mixture from heat and allow to cool
Pour cooled mixture into pie dish that has one layer of pie crust placed in in. I used a heart shape cookie cutter to cut out heart shapes to place on the top of the pie as my final layer. I then sprinkled sugar on the top of the crust and placed in oven preheated to 375 degrees and baked for 50 minutes. I would recommend placing the pie on a cookie sheet covered in foil to prevent spills in the oven. I also like to cover the crusts with a layer of foil for the first half of baking to ensure that the crust does not get too brown. This pie is to die for and your friends and family will LOVE it!


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Life is Bumpy

Life is Bumpy. It has it's twists and turns, ups and downs, hills and valleys, laughter and tears. But in the end, it is the journey that makes us who we are. I will never regret any of the bumps along the way, as each one has taught me a lesson about myself and helped me to better understand my destiny and purpose. And it is through each bump I encounter that I am reminded to celebrate my life and all there is to learn about the real meaning of happiness.

Today was a rough day for me. I had a lot on my mind and was having difficulty getting out of my own way. Sometimes the fear takes over, and common sense does not prevail--and in the midst of it all, I find myself heading down the wrong path paved with negativity and self defeat. In those times, I always try to think of things that make me happy, or I go searching for some infinite wisdom outside of myself. Maybe the advice is found in one of my many books or tapes, or sometimes it is via the net (facebook, twitter, a blog) that someone's words resonate with me. Today it was twitter and it was a guy I stumbled across who's name is Charlie. He owns an advertising/marketing firm called Curve Detroit. I have never met him in person, and don't really know much about him. What I can tell you is he taught me a lot today about why life does not have to be bumpy. He posted a video on his blog that spoke to the fact that there are three things that make happiness. First, buy the best mattress you can afford. Second, do something you love for your career. Third, find a mate who "gets you". The video was short, but the message was HUGE. I suddenly realized how easy it really is to stay in a positive space.

Here is what I do know. I have the Sleep Number bed which I love. I have the amazing husband who is my soul mate and loves me just as I am. I also have a great job in advertising and a part time baking business that allows me to indulge in my true passion. It is just that simple......I needed to be reminded I really do have everything I need to be happy and fufilled.

So, to celebrate this new revelation that got me out of my rut, I baked four dozen BUMPY cupcakes. I am going to take them to work tomorrow and share with my co-workers the three simple ingredients of a happy life. Thanks Charlie!!

Here is the link to Charlie's video:

Sunday, April 5, 2009

In Memory of Ellen

Today, at 10:15am a dear friend and amazing human being, Ellen, lost her courageous battle with cancer.

Ellen was the type of woman who brought an energy to the room that was undeniable. Her spirit was resounding and she would light up a room each time she entered it. She was the most selfless person I have ever met, and despite her many health challenges, she always found time to do things for others.

Her fight was courageous and her spirit contagious. Ellen taught all those around her what the power of postive thinking is. I never once saw Ellen down, or victimized. Instead, she constantly told everyone how blessed she was to be alive.

There are very few people on this planet who can inspire those around them in a way that changes their life forever. Ellen did this for so many.

As Ellen transitioned today, The Lord and Heaven just recruited one of our best. Ellen will be missed in ways that are unimaginable. Not just by her two stoic daughters who have been at her side during this journey, but her loving and supportive husband and all her friends.

There will be a void that will never be filled with Ellen's passing. I will miss her lovely demeanor, her beautiful laugh, her inspiring smile and her amazing insight. I will miss the light in the room that is no longer. My only peace is in knowing that her light has traveled and resides in a place much more grand than this the hands of God.

I love you Ellen, and will miss you. Please know that I will cherish your memory and live each day to the fullest, knowing that you are watching over us all and continuing your work in Heaven.

The Sweet Taste of Happiness

A Tower of Sweets!
Brownie Truffles-Yummy

I had a magical moment a couple of weeks ago. The kind of moment that reminds me why I love to bake, and how amazing it feels to really do what I feel passionate about.

For those of you who don't know me all that well, baking is my true passion. I have continued to do it part time providing sweet treats for many occassions. Two weeks ago Saturday, I had a wedding cake tasting appointment set up at 1:30pm. I had worked until 2am that morning at my "day job" in advertising, and came home exhausted. Duty called, however, and I had 3 pies to bake and a number of different style of cupcakes to bake and decorate. So, I baked, frosted and set up until 5:30am and hit the hay for a couple of hours so I could get up early and finish up the details. Funny thing is once I started the process not only was I not tired, but full of energy and delight.
So a beautiful bride to be, Morgan, and her very sweet fiance Brett, showed up at my home for the tasting to decide what they wanted for their big day. The theme was Martha Stewart inspired from the February issue. Morgan had given me some leadway to make it my own. I had baked three pies: one Cherry, one apple and one cherry/apple. I also baked 2 dozen mini and standard style red velvet cupcakes and used my creative prowess to come up with some unique decorating ideas. Last but not least I did 2 dozen heart shaped brownies and some brownie truffles. I painstakingly placed all the goodies in a creative display fit for royalty.

So here comes the magical the couple stepped into my dining room, the look on their faces was pure joy. The bride gasped in delight and her fiance had a smile that let me know I got the stamp of approval. As they sat down for the tasting, the bride kept commenting on how beautiful everything looked. They started with the mini cupcakes and worked their way into each of the pies. Every bite was met with resounding compliments, oohs and ahhs. As the bride looked over at me, she said, "Bev, not only is this exactly what I wanted, it is far beyond what I could ever have expected." Those are the moments I live for! She went on to explain that the wedding planning process has been painful and a number of her vendors have been unable to come up with anything unique or special. She was so thrilled at the idea that I had not only went above and beyond to meet their expectations, but that my creativity was outstanding. WOW-does that make the lack of sleep, the aching feet and the complete exhaustion worth every moment it took to get there.

The lesson for me: Do what you love and the magnificene will come! I am so honored and thrilled to have the God given talent to be able to bake and decorate these treats, but having a day like today is a reminder of how happy it makes me to bring so much joy to such a magnificent event.


Cherry Apple Pie
Cherry Pie
Apple Pie

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

LAWSUIT Triple Berry Muffins

I love muffins! One of my favorites is the Triple Berry variety. I have searched out various recipes in hopes of uncovering the perfect one. Once again, I land with one of my tried and true favorite bakers, Marcy Goldman. She has several books out, but one of my absolute "go to" is: THE BEST OF BETTER BAKING. She has a recipe for the Lawsuit Buttermilk Muffin. The story goes that as a Pastry Chef in NYC, Marcy spent many laborious hours concocting a 5 star muffin for a bakery she worked at. They were selling 75 dozen a day! She started with a Bon Appetite recipe and revised it to come up with the Lawsuit Muffin. Why call it a Lawsuit Muffin? Well, after working at yet another bakery who hijacked her recipe after firing her, she decided to seek legal counsel and settled out of court for a nominal sum. In the end, she was the sole proprietor of HER recipe. Thus, the "secret formula" for the perfect muffin was shared in her cookbook. After baking up 6 dozen to take to work this week, I must say that they were DIVINE! All of them were gone within 30 minutes!!! They live up to their name and then some!

First, you make the struesal topping. It's a combination of brown sugar, butter and walnuts. You can make extra and freeze it for future baking!

Then, you mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

Mix light brown sugar, vegetable oil and buttermilk with vanilla extract. After that, you mix the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until mixed.

Add frozen triple berry mix to batter. Frozen berries work better because they don't bleed and turn your mixture pink! I use ALDI brand triple berry mix. The berries are delicious and the price is fantastic!

Put batter in paper cups in muffin tin using ice cream scoop. Sprinkle stuesal topping on batter. Make sure oven is preheated to 375 degrees before placing in the oven.

Bake muffins at 375 degrees for 15-18 min. Turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Let muffins cool in pan for 5 minutes and then cool on rack.

Pour a glass of milk and ENJOY!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Mascarpone Cream Cheese Frosting

My parents were born and raised in the south. Winchester, KY to be exact. That was also the birthplace of your's truely. So, being of southern lineage, I am always looking for the absolute BEST red velvet cake recipe. I stumbled upon an article in Victoria Magazine over 8 years ago that featured a woman named RebeccaRather. She was a single mother, like myself, who left her day job as a caterer to follow her dream. She opened up a small bakery in Fredericksburg, Texas called Rather_Sweet. The rest is history. Ten years later she has a thriving business and is the belle of the ball. Not only does she operate her successful bakery, but has a small restaurant down the street as well. She has also published two cookbooks, The Pastry Queen and ThePastryQueenChristmas. I purchased both, of course, and have made a number of her recipes. By far, one of my favorites is the Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe from The Pastry Queen Christmas. These cupcakes are DIVINE . Tender, moist and amazing! The accompanying Mascarpone Cream Cheese Frosting is what makes these cupcakes over the top!

So, after a long day at work, and a two hour meditation class, I was feeling the urge to splurge. It is another co-worker's birthday tomorrow so I decided to whip up some for the troops. I was not so great at documenting the whole process, but you get the drift. Forty eight DELICIOUS cupcakes are ready to be eaten tomorrow (well, 47 as of about a minute ago cuz my husband stole one!). Wow, speaking of the Devil, I hear him moaning right now as he is devouring it.......I think that is a good thing!

You can purchasae this book at The_Pastry_Queen_Christmas

So, you bake them up ( I doubled up the batch to make 48 small)

And you make the yummy frosting while they are baking

And then after you have let them cool completely, you frost them up.

You add some sugar sprinkles while the frosting is still wet.

And then you DIG IN!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Bananas Peach Foster with Pecans

My husband always makes some kind of culinary delight on Sunday evenings. Tonight was extra special because my parents were going to join us. So, the menu was comprised of brown rice stuffed Cornish Game Hens with an amazing sauce and side of French green beans. So, to make it even more special I decided to do a dessert. Usually, I would make some calorie laden concoction, but since we are all trying to watch our weight these days (not go up!), I decided on a lighter fare. I pulled out my Weight Watchers Cookbook and found a revamped Bananas Peach Foster with Pecan recipe that looked delicious. It is only 4 points for those of you who are on the Weight Watchers Program. For those of you who are not it has only 215 calories per serving with only 4.8 grams of fat! So, after tasting this, I have to say this revised lower fat version was not short on taste and was absolutely delicious! It was also very easy to make (less than 10 minutes total!).
So, here is the recipe:
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tbsp light butter (Land O Lakes)
  • 2 ripe bananas, peeled and cut into 1-inch slices
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 can of "lite" peaches
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups vanilla fat-free or sugar free ice cream

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add pecans, and cook 2 minutes or until nuts begin to brown, stirring frequently. Remove from pan and set aside in separate bowl.

Add butter to pan, and cook over medium heat until butter melts.

Stir in bananas, brown sugar, and cinnamon: Cook 1 minute, tossing with 2 spoons until banana slices are coated with sugar mixture.

Add peaches, and cook 1 to 2 minutes or just until banana slices are soft, stirring constantly. Do not overcook! Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Divide banana mixture evenly among 6 dessert bowls, top evenly with ice cream, sprinkle with toasted pecans and serve immediately. ENJOY!

Per Serving: CAL 215; FAT 4.8g (sat 1.1g); PRO 3.5g; CARB 42.5g; FIB 2.3g; CHOL 2 mg; IRON 0.8mg; SOD 50mg; CALC 68mg.