Friday, April 28, 2006

The Wilton Rose

So I know it says up there in the heading " No classes here......" but my mom talked me into taking a Wilton Cake Decorating class with her. Honestly I wasn't really that interested but my mom has always wanted to take one of those classes and I thought it would be fun to hang with her.... she is hilarious to be around. So she signed us up and bought a ridiculous amount of cake decorating supplies (some of which she left in a Hobby Lobby shopping cart after the second class... bless her heart) and off to school we went. The Wilton stuff is kinds cheesy to me...but I guess it is a good foundation for cake decorating. Actually decorating with buttercream scares the hell out of me..... it's not like fondant. With fondant once you sculpt something and let it dry it is pretty hard to destroy (unless you have a two year old around screaming "ohhhhh mommy... pretty cake") ....but with buttercream it always seems so delicate. And messy. And I have a hard time with those bags..... But mom and I went and learned all we could. I did get a better grip on my bags and learned to make a pretty shell pattern... but what I am now obsessed with is The Wilton Rose.

Ahhhhh The Wilton Rose.... The crowning glory of cake decorating. I practiced that rose for at least 5 hours the other day and literally came up with 4 roses. But once you get it, you get it. It's like riding a bike.... when you know it, it doesn't leave you. And you become dangerously obsessed with it, waking up at 4 am wondering if anyone would hear the KitchenAid whipping up a new batch of icing. Now I am spitting those things out like crazy and I become very protective of each one.... like a mother over her child. I think I am addicted.

There were no recipes provided in the class, except for the Wilton recipe for buttercream. It is insanely easy to whip up and tastes suprisingly delicious. I just used Kate Sullivan's 1234 buttercake for my cakes and again... easy to whip up....

Wilton Buttercream

1 cup Crisco
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
2 tablespoons water (or milk)
1 lb powdered sugar (about 4 cups)
1 tablespoon meringue powder
Pinch of salt

Cream the Crisco with the vanilla and water. Add in the dry ingredients and beat until smooth. Yields 3 cups.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Extreme Makeover.... Blog Edition

Pretty swanky, huh?? My homegirl Ali hooked me up! She is the superfabulous designer of the new and improved Lick the Spoon... and I could not be any happier! I feel inspired and excited about posting now! I have always envied all of you with great looking blogs and wanted a new look myself.... I just never knew how to go about it.... but now, now, now.... ahhhhhhhhh! I finally have a great looking blog....

Thank You Ali for all of your hard work! I love ya, girl!!
Please check out all of her work here and let her know if she can design for you!!

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Drunk Tank.... SHF 18

Why, you little bunch of drunk monkies!
The simple mention of liquor really draws a crowd, huh?
For this months SHF we had a whopping 41 entries from all around the world! Seems like there are plenty of drunken cooks out there with the motto "When in doubt, add more wine!" I was very impressed with all the varieties of alcohol used and more impressed with how much you all were willing to use! Some people used up to 2 cups!!

Grab some asprin, a lampshade and your favorite coozie...
Let's Get This Party Started!

Limoncello Cheesecake - Something So Clever
Vanilla Vodka Cheesecake Tartlets - Je Mange la Vanille
Gelled Sparkling Wine - Fork and Pint
Pousse Glace - The Art of Drink
Cocoa Red Wine Cupcakes - Music and Cats
Rum Poached Apple Crepes - Belly Timber
Russian Caravan Amaretto Truffles - The Sour Patch
Eaton Mess - Virtual Frolic
Overnight Honey Almond French Toast - Weekly Dish
Mango & Amaretto Ice Cream - Occasionally Christine
Banana Fosters with Irish Cream Mousse - The Serendipitous Chef
Ali Babas - Cream Puffs in Venice
Cerveza Negra Ginger Cake - The Edible Garden
Prosek Chocolates - Make Life Sweeter
Drunken Berry Trifle - Food for Thought
Ginger Rum Churros with Chocolate Dipping Sauce - Habeas Brulee
Sweet Potato Pie with Bourbon, Pecans and Maple Syrup - Slash Food
Formage Blanc with Bachelor Jam - 18th Century Cuisine
Frangelico Honey Panna Cotta - A Blithe Palate
Spirited Marble Cake - The Candied Quince
Asian Pears with Sherry Saffron Ice Cream - Toast Point
Almond Apricot Pound Cake with Amaretto - Dessert First
Baily's Irish Cream Cream Brulee - Hungry in Hogtown
Lemon Raspberry Syllabub - The Domestic Goddess
Red Plum Sorbet - Mekuno Cooking
Amaretto Tiramsu Cake - Umruhren Bitte
Gateau an Vin Blanc - O Delices
Red Wine Tart - English Patis
Grandma's Advoocat Pudding - Kuchenlatein
Mini Pear Cakes - The Golden Shrimp
Whisky Apples - The Old Foodie
Hazelnut Raisin Pound Cake - Culinary Adventures
Strawberry Minestrone and Lillet - La Tartine Gourmande
Bourbon Truffle Brownies - Vegaquarian
Zabaglione - Cook (almost) Anything Once
Midori Kanten Jelly - Sweet Pleasure
Grand Marnier Brownies - Laura Rebecca's Kitchen
Tres Leche Cake - You Gonna Eat All That

My SHF contributions this month are Chocolate Bourbon Baby Cakes with Bourbon Laced Strawberries.

The cake recipe originally comes from Colette Peters. The cakes are amazingly soft and moist and just the right hint of the Bourbon.

Chocolate Bourbon Baby Cakes

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
1 ¾ cups hot coffee
¼ cup bourbon
5 ozs unsweetened baking chocolate, cut into small pieces
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 cups sugar
2 eggs, room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 275 (yes, 275). Grease and flour baking tins. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Combine the hot coffee, bourbon and chocolate and butter in large covered metal bowl. Let stand until completely melted. Whisk together. Whisk in sugar and cool. Whisk in the flour mixture in two batches, then the eggs and vanilla.

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 45 minutes. Check after 30 to ensure even baking. Cool cakes completely on wire racks.

Bourbon Laced Strawberries

2 packages sweetened frozen strawberries
1 tablespoon bourbon

Defrost strawberries and mix in bourbon. Spoon over baby cakes and add a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Feeling Upside Down

I have a seriously bad case of spring fever this year. It has been really really nice here in Alabama (evident by the lack of posts here) and Kathryn and I have been spending a lot of time outside playing. I am ready for the pool and for sunscreen and for flip flops... and for tropical flavored rum spiked drinks. When I get spring fever I tend to force my loved ones to eat grilled meats and veggies and sit outside on the patio furniture..... warm or not. I also start grocery shopping like it is summer... buying tropical fruits and popsicles. On one of my recent expeditions to Costco I convinced myself and my husband that I needed a case of mangos. " I've got several good recipes at home that call for mangos..." I said. Ahem... yeah. Several. After I get my case of beautiful mangos home I wonder... What in the hell am I going to do with all of these?! So I hit the books and a very unlikely gal came to my rescue... Ol' Martha.

Pineapple Mango Upside Down Cake

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp
1 medium ripe pineapple, peeled and cut into thick slices
1 medium ripe mango
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350. Butter an 8x8 pan, line with parchment and butter parchment. Using a 1.5 inch cookie cutter, cut rounds out of the centers of the 4 pineapple slices. Finely chop the remainder of the pineapple to yield 1 cup. Place chopped fruit in mesh sieve to drain.

Cut the mango lengthwise and using the same 1.5 inch cookie cutter, cut out rounds to fit inside the pineapple. Finely chop the remaining mango to yield ½ cup and add to the sieve.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream 2 tablespoons of the butter with the brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Using a small offset spatula, evenly spread the butter mixture on the bottom of the pan. Place the pineapple rings in each corner of the pan and fit the mango rounds inside the pineapple.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of the electric mixer, beat the remaining stick of butter with the granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Turn mixer on low speed and add in the flour mixture in 2 parts alternating with the sour cream. Start with the flour mix and end with it as well.

Spread the drained chopped fruit over the top of the pineapple rings, making sure to fill in any gaps. Spread the cake batter evenly over the fruit. Pop that baby in the oven and bake for about 50 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Invert cake onto serving platter and enjoy.

This is one Martha recipe that I can say comes out beautifully. The only substitutions I made were to use vanilla yogurt instead of the sour cream, simply because I didn't have any sour cream and I also used dark brown sugar instead of light for the same reason. The cake came out so delicious even with my messing with it.....

Try this for an after summer grilled dinner.... with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. Delicious!!