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All my life I have been living in a box.

 

It was safe. It was comfortable. I got out of bed in the morning. I drank my coffee. Ate some breakfast. And normally did close to the same thing almost every day. It was routine. It was safe.

And then I fell in love.

With Baking. And it helped me break out of that comfort zone.

I have made cheesecake.

Homemade Apple Pie with a Double Crust.

And created a whoopie pie filling I love (finally!).

Baking has opened doors for me and helped me be more creative. It has given me passion and also a distraction during these uncertain times.

What inspires you?

What makes you feel alive?

A Beautiful Sunset right before a storm?

Nature’s majestic but mighty beauty?

Or… being surrounded by wonderful people who inspire and strengthen you?

Sorry, no recipe this time around! Just a little inspiration to start off your weekend. I am going to be baking for most of it. 2nd Monthly Taste Testing begins on6pm this Sunday! I am going to be creating Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes, Caramel Apple Cupcakes, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies, Apple Crisp Pie. Which recipe would you like to see first?

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! Next post… Monday! Promise it won’t be so late (Oh and all pictures above were taken by me or the fiance and taken in the beautiful landscape of Maine).

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The taste testing was a success and I am hopeful for the future. I have big dreams for A Dab of Frosting and hoping things will only getting better. One of the featured desserts was a Hot Fudge Sundae Cupcake recipe that I created. It is absolutely perfect for the Summer because it tastes just like a Hot Fudge Sundae without having to worry about the melty mess (well only a little bit when you are making it!). Another thing that is great about them is that they work well with parties. You can have a variety of toppings and kids/family/friends can decorate their own! You can have Sprinkles. Nuts. Chopped up Candy bits. Caramel syrup. Strawberry Syrup. Cherries. The possibilities are great! I was not as creative as I should have been at my taste testing – but it is definitely something to keep in mind for the future.

Now the recipe is not quite perfect yet. It is close but not how I want it. The first time I made it there was too much sugar and the cupcakes sort of imploded… just a little bit but also had a crunchy top. Though delicious… it was not exactly the texture I wanted. Second time, was a disaster and ended up in the trash. I am still a little sensitive about the subject…

Third time was pretty close to what I wanted. It was tasty and soft but it still does not have the texture I crave for this sort of cupcake. It works well with the fudgy ganache and the whipped topping… but I want perfection. So I am looking for an excuse to make them again. Anyone interested?

This is currently what I have for the recipe. Maybe you can experiment and let me know your results!

2 ½ Cups All Purpose Flour

3 teaspoons Baking Powder

¼ teaspoon Salt

½ cup butter, softened

½ cup vanilla ice cream, melted

1 ½ cups Sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 eggs

1 ½ cups of Milk

Directions:

1. Preheat Oven to 350 degrees F. Line Cupcake Tray with 24 liners.

2. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together.

3. Beat the softened butter until smooth and slowly add in the sugar. Once butter and sugar is mixed well, add in the ice cream.

4. Add vanilla extract.

5. Beat in eggs one at a time.

6. Slowly add in Flour mixture and alternate with the milk. So about 1/4 of the flour mixture and milk at a time.

7. Fill cupcake liners about 1/2 – 3/4 of the way. Bake for 25 minutes.

While cupcakes are cooling… make the ganache! Very easy.

Hot Fudge Ganache

1 1/2 cup Chocolate Chips

1/2 Heavy Cream

1. Heat heavy cream in a sauce pan until it is bubbling/simmering

2. Pour over chocolate chips and STIR! Stir like crazy. If you find that the chocolate chips do not melt, that’s fine. Just stick it in the microwave. Oh you should probably do this in a microwave safe bowl! Sorry! 15 seconds will do the trick.

3. If you find that it is too “soupy” to put on cupcakes, just let it cool for 15-20 minutes. It gets thicker as it sets.

4. Put on cupcakes.

Then go crazy with toppings! This is how mine came out:

Eat Immediately!

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I am sorry. I am sorry with every ounce of my being and then some. I am sorry that there are no words to describe how sorry I am. So please forgive me? You do? Great! Because I did not get any real good pictures of the cheesecake. GASP! I know. It is terrible. It is so terrible that I should just go and make another cheesecake to make up for it. I will get on that. Probably next week. Yes definitely next week. And maybe the week after that. And the week after that. Until I can play the role of Mrs.Claus because I am so full of cheesecake. Ah, that sounds heavenly.

And no longer scary. I have to admit that I was absolutely petrified of making a cheesecake. I was reading horror stories of cracked, dry, flat, liquidy, flavorless cheesecakes… everywhere. It sounded like it was just a dream or a gift given only to the best bakers in thee world. No one else was allowed to enter the Pearly Gates of Cheesecake and I felt like a fool to even try. But I had to try. I had to throw caution to the wind and make a cheesecake. How could I call myself a baker if I could not even make one of my favorite desserts of all time? So I did it. I found this wonderful, wonderful, fantastic, amazing blog with a whole FAQ that seemed to be dedicated to me and it is perfect for anyone else out there that is afraid to take the plunge. Just do it. Jump into this world of creamy cheese and graham cracker crumbs. It is a beautiful place to land. Promise.

And I did it. I made a cheesecake. I was terrified. I was hovering over the stove like a dotting mom. I was scared when the timer went off after 35 minutes and it was still white! There was no golden brown top. It was white. Oh no. What was going on? Ok. Give it time. Another 5 minutes. Yeah. That should do it. But another 5 minutes went by and no change! Ok, ok. Maybe it was the water bath, it was just making things a little wonky. 10 minutes. That should do it. But it didn’t.

It was the scariest moment of my life. Yes, that is an exaggeration but it was pretty close to making the top 10 list. I was so afraid that this additional time was going to make it dry. I was so afraid that if I stopped then and there it was going to be liquidy. I was torn between perfection and giving up. But I kept going.

The total time for the cheesecake here in in-land Maine… was an 1 hour and 10 minutes. That is 35 minutes more than the time it said.

But I am glad I kept at it. Because it was the best tasting cheesecake I ever had. It was fine plain. It was even more fine with the homemade blueberry syrup. Or Strawberry Syrup. Or homemade whipped cream. It was so fine that I didn’t get any pictures of it because it was eaten up so quickly. And no one complained.

It was one of the happiest moments of my life. And it can be yours too. Go to Our Best Bites and worship them. Thank them for being alive. Thank them for taking their time to answer all the questions you could possibly have about cheesecake. And then you too can enjoy this amazing delicious creation…

The only one that made it into picture

Oh, and enjoy this cat in the box (yunno to make up for the lack of pictures…)

Mommy got this box just for me...I got business cards. Kitties got boxes to play in. It is a wonderful world. See, you can’t be mad now can you?

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A lot of changes are occurring for A Dab of Frosting — slowly it is starting to evolve into a small business and not just a hobby (because that is the dream to make your passion into a money making machine, right?). Right now it is not so much for profit but to build a fan base and also support my baking adventures so my other paycheck can go to… important stuff… like rent my horse. Who says I don’t have my priorities in order?

To get this feeling more professional, I have even started a Facebook page for it! Ok, well my fiance set it up. I’m not quite that tech savvy yet but I am working on it! Also, I am ordering business cards and making up brochures so I will be ready for our first Monthly Taste Testing party! Anyone who wants to swing by can enjoy Snickerdoodle Cupcakes, Hot Fudge Sundae Cupcakes and also the famous chocolate chip cookies that helped me fall in love with baking in the first place.

I have BIG dreams and I just know if I stay focus, they can come true!

Now on to the Tiramisu. I really wish I was better at taking pictures throughout my processes. I also wish I had a camera that could really capture the moments. But alas, I have neither. Tiramisu cupcakes are probably the hardest cupcakes I ever made (so far!). The whole process took about 5 hours altogether! So this is something you definitely do not want to do in one afternoon. I would start with the ladyfingers one day and then finish the rest the next morning if you wish to have it for dessert at a reasonable hour the next day. The custard takes about 6 hours in the fridge to set on top of the ladyfingers to get the best flavor. So patience on this one!

The idea to make Tiramisu cupcakes came from when a friend brought over Tiramisu Gelato (YUM) as a dessert for one of our evening gatherings. But then she mentioned how she never had actual Tiramisu! Which is just tragic… so I decided that her streak of being a tiramisu virgin must come to an end! And since I am on such a huge cupcake bender, I decided to try my luck at making them in cupcake form. I went to the internet in search of inspiration since a.) I never made Lady fingers b.) I have only had tiramisu once in my life and even though it was delicious enough to stick with me, it was not enough to replicate completely by memory and c.) I needed a list of ingredients.

and wha-la I found this amazing blog with a recipe for homemade ladyfingers and Tiramisu cupcakes and I highly recommend you check her out at The Cupcake Project. I made the ladyfingers just as she directed (which does involve separating an egg. How many people know how to separate an egg? if there are enough people who would like a little tutorial, I was thinking about doing one in my next blog post!). Now the problem is when you make these ladyfingers in regular cupcake size, and fill the cupcake liners about… a 1/4 up since you really want to layer on the custard…. you get about 30 cupcakes. Or at least I got 30 cupcakes. Either way, plan for A LOT of cupcakes.

Not even half of the ladyfingers! and I had to make my amazing fiance go out and buy me more cupcake liners because the ones I have ordered,  haven’t even come in yet (which is driving me a bit bonkers!).

Ladyfinger Recipe By Cupcake Project

4 eggs, separated

2 tbsp + 2/3 C white sugar

1 C all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 F. Line 24 cupcake liners (at least). Depends how much ladyfinger to custard ratio you want.

Separate Eggs

Place egg whites in a bowl and beat on high until soft peaks start to form. (Soft Peaks means that the egg whites have just passed the frothy/bubbly state and that it holds some sort of form).

Slowly add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and continue beating until stiff and glossy.

In another bowl, beat egg yolks and remaining sugar.

Whip until thick and very pale in color. (you can do this with a fork — it is a bit of a work out!)

On wax paper or in a small bowl, mix together flour and baking powder.

Fold half the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture.

Add in flour, and then add the remaining egg whites.

Fill cupcake liners about 1/4 full. They will bake up to fill 1/2 the cupcake liner.

Bake for 8 minutes.

Tiramisu Cupcakes

12 egg yolks

1 1/2 C white sugar

1 1/3 C milk (I use whole milk)

2 1/2 C heavy cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 lb mascarpone cheese

2 C strong brewed coffee, room temperature (use good coffee. Kevin and I have discovered a love for Caribou Coffee!)

4 tbsp rum

1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

a small amount of dark chocolate for chocolate curls (optional)

Directions

In a medium saucepan, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until well blended. Then whisk the milk and cook over medium heat. Make sure to stir constantly until the mixture boils (prepare to be stirring for awhile. It takes about 10-15 minutes to get the mixture to boil).

Boil gently for 1 minute, remove from heat, and allow to cool slightly. (When you can hold your hand over it and not feel it radiating any heat)

Cover tightly and chill in refrigerator 2 hours.

Remove from refrigerator and whisk in mascarpone (add slowly and whisk each time. About an 8oz container at a time) until smooth.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat cream with vanilla until stiff peaks form. (You can also add some sugar to make it a little sweeter. I added 2 teaspoons of sugar to add a little sweetness). Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine coffee and rum.

Drizzle approximately 1 tbsp + 2 tsp of the coffee/rum mixture over each pre-baked ladyfinger.  Add it a little at a time and wait for it to absorb into the ladyfingers before adding more.

Spread the mascarpone mixture over the soaked ladyfingers.

Pipe or spread the whipped cream over the mascarpone.

Sprinkle with cocoa powder. (I used just my fingertips to sprinkle it on. Don’t over do it!)

Optionally, top with chocolate curls.  Make the chocolate curls using a vegetable peeler on a piece of chocolate.

Cover and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours, until set. (Definitely better if you wait for 6 hours… but if you really can’t wait, you can eat one after 4 hours…)

 

And wha-la! You have Tiramisu Cupcakes! Perfect for a lovely date night, a dinner party, or just because you are craving something coffee flavored and delicious.

 

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Hi World,it’s been awhile. How you feeling? Sorry I have been in hiding for a bit. The past week has been a bit stressful and I finally got to take a trip away from it all. At least for a little bit. But the stress has kept me from baking and experimenting and so on that front I really have nothing new to share. I will probably be making cupcakes sometime tomorrow… most likely in the morning before the humidity gets too bad (it just wears me out!). The whole past week was definitely a learning lesson. One that I wish was required for all people to take a course in. I believe college would be a lot more useful if they had classes on how to deal with losing a loved one, attorneys and the law, making the right medical decisions for a loved one/family member. Because making these choices and trying to be all responsible, at the age of 21…where you were still hoping to get financial advice and support from your Dad at least 10 years down the road and suddenly, it is becoming more and more clear that he may not even know what year it is in a few weeks to a  month…forget financial advice, those good fatherly talks, the wisdom to make the right choice…You’re on your own and that fact scares the daylights out of me. I am now in a position where I would go to him and ask him what would be best…and he would tell me in his cryptic way where he would direct me in the right path but in a way that would be totally my choice… but at least he gave a guideline. I am suddenly in the dark without a guide.

For all you parents out there, please, please, please for the sake of your family, have some idea or something written down saying that if you are ever a vegetable and your diagnosis is not good, what you would want from your family. Would you want to be put on a machine even if it was just going to prolong your comatose state but you wouldn’t even be aware? Seriously, what would you want? Right now, I am in the position to make these choices should the problems arise and I do not know what is the best decision. So please, I know it is morbid and weird to write about the what ifs, but you are really doing the family a huge favor. Do not wait last minute. Just write something down and stick it in a file.

So that is just part of the stresses I have been dealing with…but I do not want this to become a ranting/venting blog…but it provides the back drop. Because the main point is that life can be crappy/stressful/painful/depressing/etc, but you can not let those emotions rule your life. When you do, then… it is like telling the dark side they won! And they lied.. and didn’t have cookies. And now you are just stuck in a rut feeling all those terrible things and cookie-less. But if you appreciate the light side of things, then guess what? You have the option of always having a cookie.

Or in my case, cupcakes. Besides the stress, I also had an amazing week since I just celebrated by 3rd anniversary of being together with my fiance. We went on a great vacation for 3 days to a place called Boothbay Harbor in Maine, and it was absolutely incredible. I love the ocean… and someday, I hope to live by it. We also went whale watching! And it was such a treat… we saw Finback Whales which happen to be the second largest whales… ever. As well as a Minke whale, harbor porpoises, seals and a basking shark. We had a traditional clambake that we had to travel to an island by boat to get, but it was absolutely worth it… as we watched the sun set behind and over the water while chomping down on 2 big lobsters, a bowl of clams, a baked potato, an onion, a boiled egg, corn on the cob and to top it all off…blueberry cake for dessert. Yum.

It was nice to just get away. All my problems would be waiting back at home, but for the weekend, I could be someone who had no problems. Just someone enjoying the beautiful weather and being the love of my life.

Life is always going to throw curveballs. It is going to knock you down to your knees and beg for the misfortune to be placed on someone else (seriously, not a good thing to do because the karma bug will bite you… but we all do it). But you have to look towards the light and reach out… Sometimes you have to take a mental vacation and just leave your problems at the door. They will be there when you get back, and you feel more energized to deal with them once you center yourself.

Next post I promise, there will be baked goods (since my love got me the big book of cupcakes from betty crocker for our anniversary!). Until then, do something nice for yourself. You deserve it!

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I have been thinking a lot about where I want to go with this blog and with baking — and I have come up with some ideas and goals that I want to achieve by the end of the year.

1. Support local produce by using fresh fruit, vegetables, etc from near by Farm Stands. Maybe even eggs? Any farm interested in starting some thing here? I buy eggs from you and you also get to try some yum yums? That sounds like a win/win.

2. I also want to use some fresher ingredients — I definitely need to revisit Bread of Life in Presque Isle. They have some amazing organic ingredients that I really want to give a try. I have only gotten catnip and soda (mmm, pumpkin pie soda with ice cream is absolutely amazing) from there. Definitely want to try using their flour and even different types of flour and create some gluten free baked goods.

3. Have an “open house” so to speak where I make a bunch of crazy arrangements of baked goods and people can stop by and test taste and give their feedback on the goodies and also on the experience.  I am planning this for maybe at the end of August/beginning of September. Anyone interested in participating? =)

4. Special somebody in your life and you want to make your own custom cake/their favorite dessert but only problem is you are not really a baker? I want to help you out! So instead of relying on a box mix, I can help you make everything from scratch. I hope to help at least one person within the year….besides, things test better when you put a little bit of yourself into it.

5. Make at least one baked good once a WEEK. Not Month. Not year. Week. And at least one. Special occasions may warrant more.

Those are my first 5 goals. What do you think? What would you like to see more of? What would you be interested in?

Also, I got to try something I have been wanting to try for a really long time. Put Cookie Dough inside of a cupcake. I told you. I have been getting a lot of inspiration from The Girl Who Ate Everything. This recipe is very quick and simple (especially since it uses mixes. I KNOW.Don’t look at me like that. The cookie dough is homemade, though). And it gave me the cookie dough recipe I have been searching for! Though I will probably make a couple of changes the next time I make it. which will probably be soon since I have some condensed milk that I need to use up soon. I am thinking… Cookie Dough Cheesecake? maybe? Shouldn’t be interesting regardless. I definitely need to start experimenting more and taking chances. Anyway here are a few shots of my Cookie Dough Cupcake adventure…

Look at the beautiful army of colorful cupcakes! This is after they have cooled completely from the oven (about 20 minutes) and I have cut little circles into them. Some of them look a little triangular. Oh well. Basically you just need a place to shove the cookie dough in. Gently. Or else you will tear your cupcake. Which I did to one. It’s ok. It ended up in a better place… really.

Mmm, filled to the brim with cookie dough. Do it quickly. The warmer it gets, the stickier it gets. And if you pull your hand away too fast, you will take the cookie dough and part of the cupcake with you. Though feel free to lick your fingers after all the cupcakes are filled…

I am not yet very fancy when it comes to frosting. I added mini chocolate chips to try and make up for that. Not like it matters. They will be gone quickly!

Mmm. Cookie Dough. And finally something with frosting! Enjoy!

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You know you love baking when you’re oven is not in baking order and you actually suffer from withdrawals. Seriously. There were some mornings I felt jittery and shaky and even a bit light headed and all I could think of was all the things I could NOT bake that day. It was absolutely terrible. I could almost smell the sweet aromas of cake and cookies wafting from the kitchen… and then I would wake up to another day without baking. Things were definitely looking down on the baking front after I injured my knee — which unfortunately is still not doing as well as it should be doing. Now would probably be a good time to get it checked out further, huh? I just absolutely loathe doctors… but that is another story. So without being able to bake, I looked to other ways to use my kitchen. One of the things that came from being oven-less was these pulled pork sandwiches that I got over at The Girl Who Ate Everything‘s Blog (check her out. She has been a lot of inspiration to me lately). I took her recipe and Kevin and I decided to add a bit of a twist to it. Instead of putting the pork on a regular old hamburger bun, we decided to sandwich it with garlic bread. YUM!

Melty cheese...Look at the melty cheese. And it was soo easy to make. 3 ingredients for the pulled pork. Can be slow cooked or even cooked in a big pot on the stove at a very low temperature.

3 Ingredient Pulled Pork by The Girl Who Ate Everything

2 pounds of pork tenderloin

1 can of root beer

1 bottle of bbq sauce (I used Baby Ray’s because it is my absolute favorite)

Put the tenderloin and the can of root beer in the slow cooker (or pot) and put on medium heat (for a slow cooker) or warm (on a stove). In a slow cooker, it normally takes 6 hours.On the stove top, it only took us about 3. We occasionally would take off the lid and smash the meat with a potato masher to help shred it. Once the pork is completely shredded and cooked, drain the root beer and add bbq sauce. Let it warm up a little bit more and it is ready to eat!! Then if you want to do like what Kevin and I did… bake up a loaf of garlic bread (we just got a frozen one from the grocery store) and use that to sandwich your pork. Kevin and I also added some Muenster Cheese because we like cheese…  It made quite a few meals for us and lasted about 3 days for the both of us…

Complete with macaroni salad, corn, and some chips. Enjoy.

Now, luckily this is not the only thing I have to share with you this time! Because finally! Over the weekend, I got my oven. My wonderful fiance cleaned the oven out for me so I could bake (he was very supportive of my withdrawals, and he was hoping I would make something out of his bananas… I know some of you are snickering at that one!). Truth is, I absolutely hate bananas. I hate the texture. I don’t like the mushy. I just do not like bananas. And also at one point in my youth, they tried to kill me. Not purposely… at least I do not think so. But I was 3 and eating my at the time favorite fruit… until I choked! I saw my short life flash before my eyes before I was able to cough it up by some miracle. After that, I could never eat a banana. Tragic but true. I remember that moment like it was just yesterday. Kind of. Some of the details are a little fuzzy. But I definitely know it was a banana. Unfortunately in this relationship I have with the Love, we have to make some compromises. And one of them is the fact that I have to stare at some of these cruel creations because he LOVES them. Well maybe not love since they seem to stick around… and get thrown out. Poor bananas. But not this time around. I decided to do something about it… I MADE THESE!

(Once again, excuse the terrible picture taking… I may need to hire a photographer just for my baked goods…). And what are these you are asking? Only one of the best things I have had in awhile (and that is saying something. Remember, I am the girl who hates bananas…). These are Banana Muffins. But not just any banana muffins… they have a secret ingredient!

Guess what those are? raisins? mice turds? NO! None of the above. The correct answer is MINI CHOCOLATE CHIPS. They are just so cute.. I couldn’t resist. And they added just enough sweetness without being overpoweringly chocolatey (since the Love does not love chocolate as much as I do… but he was nice to loan me his hand to model this amazing muffin). The best part is that this was pretty super easy to make.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

You will need:

3 bananas (mashed)

3/4 cups sugar

1 egg

1/3 cup butter melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (I actually did just a couple of shakes. I am not a HUGE fan of nutmeg, and prefer the cinnamon flavor more).

1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

Topping

1/3 cup of brown sugar (packed)

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

2 tablespoons of all purpose flour

2 tablespoons of butter

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line the muffin trays (should make about 10).

2. In a small bowl (or I actually use a sheet of wax paper), mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

3. In a mixing bowl, mix together the bananas and sugar. Then add the egg and beat together until it is mixed. Do not over do it. Add the butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix together. With the mixer on a slow setting, add in the dry ingredients from step 2 until everything is moist. Once again, do not over beat the ingredients.

4. Fill the muffin liners until almost to the top… maybe like 7/8ths of the way.

5. In another bowl, mix the topping ingredients together. I used a fork to press the butter into the sugar and flour. Do this until it is crumbly and the butter is pretty evenly throughout. Sprinkle this on top of your muffin batter.

6. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

7. ENJOY!

My Army of MuffinsHopefully next time… I will have something with frosting! :p

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