Baby Shower Dessert Party

March 20, 2011

Recently, I hosted a dessert theme baby shower for a friend and co-worker. After a lot of discussions on theme and menu, we agreed on having a dessert and drink shower for a small group of her co-workers. There were only two desserts that she requested: carrot cake or cupcakes and lemon bars; and  I was basically left to go with the rest of the menu. I wanted to take more pictures of the party; but really ran out of time but here are a few pictures of the desserts I made. I thought that this was really a fun idea for a baby shower.

In addition to the desserts I listed below, her family made dessert crostini with ricotta spread, sliced strawberries and balsamic vinegar glaze and baked brie with apricot jelly, sugar cookies and Italian fried cookies (I have no recipes for those).  For drinks, we had coffee, iced tea, cold soft drinks, and bottled water.

Here are the desserts I made:

Carrot Cupcakes and Cream Cheese Frosting with Royal Icing Yellow and Purple Pansies


Chocolate Truffles

S’mores Pops (recipe coming up soon, I promise–these were divine!)

Lemon Bars (No pictures)

Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipster (No pictures)

Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies (No pictures)

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Red Velvet Cake

January 24, 2011

My friend Sarah was turning the big 3-0; but unfortunately I had to miss her birthday party. I invited her over for a birthday lunch the weekend after to celebrate and asked her what kind of cake she wanted for her birthday cake. She requested a red velvet cake; which I have never made before–and I definitely didn’t have a recipe for; which is kind of odd considering this is my dad’s absolute favorite cake! I went looking for a recipe–and really wanted a special cake that would not dissapoint. After all, this was for my friend’s birthday milestone. I then learned that Bridget had blogged about comparison of the recipes from several sources! Score! I was excited by the opportunity to try making this from scratch using a recipe that has been tried and recommended. I decided to make the Saveur recipe, that was originally tested by Kelsey from Apple a Day.



This cake, I have to say, turned out so perfect… as a special birthday cake should be! It stood tall, proud and cut beautifully… the kind that looks incredible on a dessert plate at a party. The bright red color was stunning and elegant against the white creamy cream cheese frosting. The cake itself was moist, not overly sweet, along with a bit of tang. It was delicious! I had originally made only one batch of cream frosting from Smitten Kitchen’s version; and as soon I made it, I realized that I would not have had enough to fill three-layers cake, let alone frost the side and the top. Therefore, I went ahead and made another batch. The recipe version I had written below was doubled to reflect the actual amount that I used although I had about 1/4 cup of leftover. I had originally wanted to make caramelized pecans for decorations but ran out of time; so I just arranged some whole pecans on top.

Sarah was elated; and so was I. So I must say that we found ourselves a winner here. Many thanks to Bridget for test driving all of the recipes for us!

As seen on The Way the Cookie Crumbles From Apple a Day, who adapted it from www.saveur.com

Ingredients

For the cake:
2½ cups cake flour
1½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1½ cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons (1 oz.) red food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar

For the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter room temperature
3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350°.

Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa, and salt into a medium bowl.

Beat eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla, and vinegar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until well combined. Add dry ingredients and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Divide batter evenly between 3 greased and floured 8×2″ round cake pans. Or, I used (1) 8×2″ and (1) 8×3″ which I split into two layers.

Bake cakes, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Let cakes cool 5 minutes, then invert each onto a plate, then invert again onto a cooling rack. Let cakes cool completely.

For the frosting: (Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, yield ~ 6 cups of frosting)
Place cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl. With a handheld electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low speed to combine. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.

Put 1 cake layer on a cake plate, level off with a serrated knife, and spread one-quarter of the frosting on top. Set another layer on top, level, and repeat frosting. Set remaining layer on top, level, and frost top and sides with the remaining frosting.

Chill for 2 hours to set frosting.

Yield: (1) 8-inch 3-layer cake


Berry Perfect Party Cake

June 5, 2010

My friends are often surprised when they find out that my favorite cake flavors are white, yellow, or banana (but I have to be in the mood for it!). Yet, I don’t really have a go to recipe for a white cake recipe. Enter Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake. I have heard a lot of raves about this cake from a lot of blogs and have put this on my mental to do list for a while. A couple of weekends ago, I ran into a copy of her cook book at a local used-book store for $10. Score! I knew that I had to make this cake right away!

Since strawberries are in the season, I decided to use sweetened whipped cream as the filling along with sliced strawberries, and frost them with fluffy butter-cream frosting, which is a lot firmer than the whipped cream. I might have whipped the heavy cream a little bit too much that it did not seal the two cake layers as well as I wanted them to; so halfway through cutting them, the two layers fell apart. Also, because I used regular butter, instead of white butter, the cake did not appear snow-white like Dorie’s on her cook book.

Overall, everyone really loved the consistency of the cake and the delicate flavor of the cake, frosting and filling! I actually liked this cake so much that I enjoyed a whole slice (which I rarely do with cakes!). It looks like I just found my go-to white cake recipe.

Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Ingredients
For the cake:
2 ¼ cups cake flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 ½ cups sugar
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ tsp. lemon extract (I used 1/2 tsp of clear vanilla extract instead)

For finishing:
1 recipe of fluffy vanilla frosting (see below for recipe)
1 recipe of whipped cream for filling (or, alternatively you can use the same one as the frosting)
Fresh berries of your choice

Directions
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°.  Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment paper.  Dust both pans with flour, shaking out the excess.  Set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk and egg whites.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar and lemon zest.  Mix them with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant.  Add the butter to the sugar mixture and beat on medium speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy.  Beat in the lemon extract.

Add one third of the flour mixture, continuing to beat on medium speed.  Beat in half of the egg mixture, then half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated.  Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.  Finally give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated.  Divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans and smooth tops with a rubber spatula.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well-risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted in the centers should come out clean.

Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes.  Run a knife around the sides of the cakes, invert the cake pans to remove the cake, peel off the parchment paper, and invert once more so cakes are right side up on the cooling rack.  Cool to room temperature.

Using a sharp, serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half.  Place one layer on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate, cut side up.  Spread one third of the preserves on top.  Cover the jam evenly with about 1/3 of the white chocolate whipped cream.  Top evenly with fresh berries.  Top with another cake layer, and again layer with jam, whipped cream and berries.  Repeat once more with a third cake layer.  Place the last layer of the cake cut side down on top of the cake.  Use the whipped cream frosting to frost the top and sides of the cake.  Top with fresh berries.

Because of the whipped cream, this cake should be stored in the refrigerator.  Remove from refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes before serving.

Yield: 12-14

Fluffy Vanilla Frosting

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients
1 -1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 pound (4 cups) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions
With an electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.

Reduce speed to medium. Add the confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed; after every two additions, raise speed to high and beat 10 seconds to aerate frosting, then return to medium-high. This process should take about 5 minutes. Frosting will be very pale and fluffy.
Add vanilla, and beat until frosting is smooth. If not using immediately, frosting can be refrigerated up to 10 days in an airtight container. Before using, bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.

Whipped Cream Frosting

Ingredients
2 cups heavy cream
2 tbsp of powdered sugar

Directions
Place heavy cream & sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; beat until thick and spreadable. Use immediately.

Makes: 4 cups


Power of Pink: Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

October 28, 2009

To promote October as a breast cancer awareness month, I wanted to make something pink. Jen from the Beantown Baker started this challenge last year, and I knew that I wanted to participate this year.  Since fall is truly here, I decided to whip up something with pumpkin flavor. I knew that several of my co-workers and friends really enjoy pumpkin flavor and cream-cheese frosting and I have been wanting to try this quick (seriously, very quick) recipe for pumpkin cupcakes.

powerOfPink

Whether you’re making or enjoying these delightful pink treats, please remember the importance of early detection and prevention to fight this deadly disease. Check out the websites for National Breast Cancer Foundation for more information on how we can all make a difference!

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Source: Blissfully Delicious original, inspired by several recipes on the Internet

Ingredients

1 box of yellow cake mix
2 eggs, room temperature
2 tsp of pumpkin-pie spices
5 tbsp of homemade applesauce
1 (15-oz) can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

Directions

Mix the eggs, homemade applesauce, pumpkin and spices together in a mixing bowl until smooth.

Add the cake mix.  Blend until smooth. Divide batter into 18 muffin cups.

Bake at 350 degree for 17 minutes.

Yield: 18

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from The Cake Bible

Ingredients

3 (3-ounce) bars white chocolate (I use Ghirardelli)
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
6 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Directions

Break the chocolate into squares & place in the top of a double boiler set over very hot water (no hotter than 160F) on low heat. The water must not touch the bottom of the double boiler insert.

Remove the double boiler from the heat & stir until the chocolate begins to melt. Return to the heat if the chocolate cools, but be careful that it does not get too hot. Stir 10 seconds or until smooth. (The chocolate may be melted in a microwave IF STIRRED EVERY 15 SECONDS. Remove before fully melted & stir, using residual heat to complete the melting.) Allow to cool.

In a mixing bowl beat the cream cheese (preferably with a flat beater) until smooth & creamy. Gradually beat in the cooled chocolate until smoothly incorporated. Beat in the butter & lemon juice. Rebeat at room temperature to ensure smoothness before frosting.


Ricotta Orange Pound Cake with Strawberries

April 15, 2009


I have been eyeing this recipe from Giada since I first saw her making it on Food Network. I have made a couple of Ina Garten’s pound cake recipes, all of which are yummy. But I really wanted to test how ricotta can play into this recipe.


I did make three modifications to this recipe… not in purpose, really. But for convenience purpose. I didn’t have cake flour on hand, so I decided to just use regular all-purpose flour. I measured 1.5 cups, and took out 2 TBSP out. I also substituted Amaretto for Grand Marnier, which I thought worked out well considering this recipe uses grated orange zest. And it did. Finally, I didn’t have the exact pan that she used, so I used my bundt cake pan.

Overall, we really enjoyed this cake. Go ahead and try it, and let me know!!

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature, plus more to grease the baking pan
1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 orange, zested
2 tablespoons Amaretto
Powdered sugar, for dusting
1 pint strawberries, hulled and quartered or 3 oranges, cut into supremes

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 5 by 3-inch loaf pan with butter. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine.

Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, ricotta, and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the machine running, add the eggs 1 at a time. Add the vanilla, orange zest, and Amaretto until combined.

Add the dry ingredients, a small amount at a time, until just incorporated. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake is beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 45 to 50 minutes.

Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Using a mesh sieve, dust the cooled cake with powdered sugar.

Meanwhile, place the strawberries (or orange supremes) in a small bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Let sit until the juices have pooled around the strawberries.

To serve, slice the cake and serve with a spoonful of strawberries and their juices over the top of the cake.

Lemon Yogurt Cake

January 22, 2009

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Adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home

I have been wanting to make this cake when I first saw it Barefoot Contessa at Home. It uses yogurt instead of butter, which was intended to have lower calories. I was surprised at how moist and fluffy this cake considering the omission of butter. The lemon zest added another depth of flavor and the glaze was a must as well! We absolutely enjoyed it!

For the cake
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Glaze
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice


Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake.


Molten Chocolate Cake

December 30, 2008


Ingredients

Serves 6

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for muffin tins
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for muffin tins
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  • Whipped Cream or Ice Cream for serving


Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Generously butter 6 cups of a standard muffin tin.
  • Dust with granulated sugar, and tap out excess. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and granulated sugar until fluffy.
  • Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • With the mixer on low speed, beat in flour and salt until just combined.
  • Beat in chocolate until just combined. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups.
  • Place muffin tin on a baking sheet; bake just until tops of the cakes no longer jiggle when the pan is lightly shaken, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes.
  • To serve, turn out cakes, and place on serving plates, bottom sides up. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, and serve with whipped cream, if desired.

Tips:
When they say “generously butter” the muffin tins, you seriously need to do this, or the cakes will not come out from the pans, like mine did.

Courtesy of Martha Stewart.