Friday, June 25, 2010

Chocolate overload

I may not end up at any cupcake bakeries during this road trip, but Nick and I did get to stop at a cute little candy store -- and gorge on lots of candy.

The store was called Main Street Sweets and was in Mason, OH.  There were classics like root beer barrels and licorice,  but what caught my attention was all of the chocolate-dipped stuff. Basically, the owner took whatever junk food you could think of and then dipped it in chocolate.  For example: Nutter Butters, Rice Crispy treats, pretzel rods, Oreos, Twinkies, and cookie-dough-on-a-stick.

I ended up buying the chocolate-dipped M&M-covered pretzel rod, the cookie dough (which I expected to be my favorite but, to be blunt, sucked), and the Rice Crispy treat (my surprise favorite). 

At first I thought this store was awesome,  a small-town shop with a local owner.  Then I realized anyone could melt some chocolate and dip store-bought cookies and cakes in them, and she was just taking the easy way out.  I would have prefer some unique, home-made chocolates.  But oh well, she didn't charge that much, and it tasted good enough (if you just want a sugar rush).

If I ever open a candy store, I vow to put some effort into it and create something new.  You can hold me to that.

P.S. - No, your eyes do not fool you.  In that last picture is a jar full of candy ducks.  Adorable.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

DIY wedding cupcakes

only 4 of 6 lbs used
The thing that led me to start this blog was preparing to make wedding cupcakes, and now I'm done!  In fact, I was done a week and a half ago.  I'm not sure what my next baking goal will be, but let me tell you a little about the wedding cupcake tower...

So the day before the wedding, my friend Kristine and I decorated all of the cupcakes we'd made the week before and frozen.  We ended up using about 6 lbs of powdered sugar and 1.5 lbs of butter to frost the 90+ cupcakes we made.  About half got simple vanilla buttercream (from the Domino sugar box) and half got chocolate butter frosting.

I piped the frosting onto each one, an then Kristine immediately (to make sure they'd stick on) dusted them with chunky white sugar sprinkles.  The vanilla-frosted ones also got little edible pearls, which she pressed in one by one (you have no idea how patient she is with things like that).

Let me tell you, frosting dozens of cupcakes is time consuming!  I thought it was absurd when I called bakeries in February to ask how much wedding cupcakes cost (the answers I got:  starting at $3.50-$4.00 per cupcake; stand and setup additional!).  But with two of us working on them, this took a good 6 hours, and the cupcakes were already baked!  I guess somebody more experienced would be faster than we were, but really, it's a lot of work.  If you are planning to make your own wedding cupcakes, make sure you have the time!

Despite my prior failure are cake-decorating, I decided to have a small cake on the top tiered of the stand.

I made two 6-inch chocolate cakes (okay I really made 3, but the first one totally fell apart when I tried to get it out of the pan, reminding me what am amateur I really am).

And then I coated it with a thin layer of frosting to seal in the crumbs.  (I wish I had known to do this intuitively or something, but really I just happened to watch a YouTube video a couple of months ago showing how to frost a cake.)

Then I covered the whole messy, frosted thing with fondant (which, admittedly, I bought and did not make.  I figured Wilton knew what to do better than I did) because I didn't think I could get frosting to look very smooth.  And, finally, I make a border around the top and bottom with some Ateco tips (I'd love to tell you which ones, but as I am in the midst of a cross-country move, they are packed away on the roof of the car and I don't have the desire or ability to dig them out.  Some day, if you keep reading, you will know which tips I used.  That day is not today).  And then the florist made a pretty cake topper. And there you have it:  a [sort of] professional[ish]-looking wedding cake!

Besides oodles of cupcakes. we also had Italian cookies and a frightening amount of candy for people to eat.

And after all that planning and practicing, it's over!  I'm not sure what I should work on next.  Continue with cupcakes?  Practice cake-decorating some more?  Branch out and try a different baked good?  I have time to decide though, because right now I'm on the move and have no kitchen.  I do, however, hope to find a couple of good cupcakes along the way.  

Friday, June 11, 2010

The time has come

Today is cupcake-decorating day!  Ahhhhh so much frosting to make.  And we've decided to do the small cake at the top of the stand, so let's hope I'm able to decorate it alright!  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Cupcakes have taken over the world (or just my life)

Word has spread among my family (and extended family) that I have a thing for cupcakes. And it's true, I really do. And I therefore now have and endless supply of cupcake paraphernalia, including (but not limited to):
  • A cupcake apron (see the photo of me on the side...)
  • A cupcake tray
  • A cupcake bath bomb
  • And there is a cupcake bench on the front porch of my grandparent's house for the wedding

So basically I could sit on the bench and serve you cupcakes from my cupcake tray while wearing my cupcake apron and...well I'm not sure how the bath bomb fits into this scenario.  Be creative.

I love absolutely every cupcake gift I have been given.  However, every time I look at one (which is pretty often considering how they have attacked from all sides and seem to be in every room I enter) I GET VERY HUNGRY. I mean really, look at that bath bomb; it looks real, right down to the little paper liner!  How could I not want to eat it?  And it smells like coconut (which you know I love).  Really people, you're killing me here. 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Lots and lots and lots of cupcakes

Ugh, I haven't written in weeks! In my defense, in the past two weeks, I have: had my first of two bachelorette parties, packed up my entire apartment, graduated from college, had a bridal shower, and baked 96 cupcakes for my wedding.

All of those cupcakes were baked yesterday, and it wasn't actually that difficult or time consuming to do them all. I'll be honest -- we (Kristine and I) used Pillsbury cake mix. Hey, look, after all my baking over the past few months, I never found a chocolate or vanilla cake recipe I loved. And the box mixes were easier for how many we were making. Don't judge me.

Anyway, the wedding isn't for a week and two days, so we had to freeze the cupcakes and we'll frost them the day before. So to keep them safe and un-freezer-burned, we wrapped each in plastic wrap and then also put them in freezer bags (we attempted to suck the air out with a straw to make them vacuum sealed, but it seeped back in. We ended up lightheaded and with air-filled bags)

I've decided to stick with simple chocolate and vanilla cupcakes and frosting (in each combination). I figured almost everyone will like one of them, and if not, they will not be left out of the sugar indulgence...

...because we have a ridiculous amount of blue and yellow candy. I'm talking 5 pounds of gummy bears, hundreds of those candy sticks, and pounds of candy coated chocolate. We may have gone a little overboard. Maybe. But I think I'm becoming immune to sugar with all that I've been eating. At my first bachelorette party, I had amazing raspberry-blueberry-cheesy crepe things from a place called Duck & Bunny...

...followed by a red velvet cupcake for dessert.

After that I had probably a dozen mini pastries during graduation weekend, and then at my shower we had: chocolate fudge, Hawaiian cake (yellow cake topped with pudding, pineapple, whipped cream, coconut, and walnuts), carrot cheesecake, mini raspberry cheesecakes, and mini Oreo cheesecakes. I tried each and every one of those desserts. To be honest, I feel kind of sick. And there is lots of junk food yet to come...