Buttercream Frosting

Hello there!  I’m not sure if Tuesday is just a second Monday but here is a little sweet and colorful icing recipe to add some rainbows to your day, whichever day it is.  What is your favorite color?  What about your favorite cupcake frosting color? Are they the same?

rainbow cupcakes 01

If I had to pick one, mine would be blue.  Is yours blue too?  Just guessing blue because according to this info graphic, it is universally the most common favorite color whereas orange is the least popular favorite color.  I used to love reading those color personality tests because blue is often associated with trustworthiness, peace and intelligence and who doesn’t want to be associated with those things right?  Although I have yet to read a negative personality test result for any color 🙂

Lately my daughter is on a rainbow kick, insisting that rainbow is her favorite color.  She used to say it was blue, green and pink but lately she has added purple, brown, orange, yellow, red and gray as her favorite color.  So when it came time to put icing on some rainbow sprinkle cupcakes, she naturally requested rainbow frosting.

plain pudding cupcakes

Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Adapted from My Cupcake Addiction

Ingredients:

5 cups softened butter (250g/ 8.8oz / 2.5 sticks)
5 cups powdered sugar, sifted (600g / 21oz)
1 tsp vanilla extract (or extract of your choice)
1-2 tbsp whole milk, cold

Optional:  Food coloring if using.  The gel types would add less liquid to the icing

Directions:

 1. Soften Butter if necessary

TIP:  You can soften butter in the microwave using the defrost setting for approximately 10-15 seconds.

I can’t believe how giddy I was when I found how to soften butter quickly because it is usually impromptu baking for this mommy (and, well, I am just plain forgetful sometimes).  This is how my solid stick of butter looked after 15 seconds on defrost:

soften butter

2.  Beat butter for 5+ minutes

Beat room temperature butter for 5+ minutes

3.  Add powder sugar 1 cup at a time and beat for ~2 minutes with each addition so that sugar is well incorporated.  Add 1/2 tbsp whole milk as required if icing is too thick.  When ~1/3 sugar has been incorporated, add vanilla extract.

4.  Add coloring if using.

wilton icing colors

I envisioned a pastel rainbow so I used a small small amount of red, blue and yellow gel dye (a toothpick pokes worth of each).  I put the icing into a plastic bag and then poke each color into the icing, then tried to mix the icing so that the yellow and blue would make green and the red (pink) and blue would make purple.

Pastel Buttercream Frosting

icing in bag 02

Pastel Buttercream Frosting

After I started frosting, I saw that I got a good amount of green but didn’t mix enough purple.  My daughter still okay’ed it but I made a mental note for more purple next time.

Pastel Rainbow Sprinkle Cupcakes

This icing can sit in room temperature for a few days.  If refrigerated it can last for 1-2 weeks.  It can also be frozen for later use but I haven’t tried that.

I got the recipe and directions from this awesome YouTube video by My Cupcake Addition:

p.s. I only made 2/5 the recipe because I didn’t want to put 5 cups of butter and 5 cups of powder sugar on the table for dessert for 3 people.  As a result, I only had 1 cup of icing and it was enough to frost ~5 cupcakes as pictured below:

rainbow cupcakes 02

So let me ask again, what is your favorite icing color?  I think I’m changing my answer from blue to rainbow too.  SMILE!  It’s Rainbow-day.

Cheers!

with love charlie

 

 

 

 

Chocolate chip cookies

Hello Sunday!  Only one more day till Monday.  Boo….I know, don’t remind you.  Let’s just forget I said that.  🙂  I know what would make you feel better.  Cookies!  Chocolate chip pecan cookies to be exact.  I made these for my husband on his birthday last month (I’m a little behind I know, life happens).  We typically don’t buy each other gifts on birthdays and other special occasions (e.g. Christmas, Valentine’s Day, etc) anymore.  We already have everything and will buy whatever we want for ourselves whenever we want.  So, in place of gifts, we just buy a card and make each other dinner or go out to eat.  I decided to make these because I’ve been promising him months and months that I would make cookies.  I even went out to buy all the ingredients, but they sat in the cupboard as other things got in the way.  What could be more important than cookies?  Don’t get me started!  Well, this year my mom decided that she wanted to cook dinner for my husband’s birthday, so I was off the hook.  Yeah!  So, with dinner taken care off, the least I could do was make dessert, since there was no cake.

Cookies!

Cookies!

But who needs cake when you have cookies?!?  Especially when you’ve got these babies.  Bit crispy on the outside, yet soft on the inside with the perfect amount of chocolate and nuts.  Need I say more?

DSC_1447

Recipe (adapted from pinch of yum):

  • 8 tablespoons of salted butter
  • ½ cup white sugar (I like to use raw cane sugar with a coarser texture)
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1½ cups all purpose flour (more as needed)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips and chocolate chunks, whatever you prefer)
  • nuts (e.g. pecans or walnuts, optional but decrease amount of chocolate chips if using)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Microwave the butter for about 40 seconds to just barely melt it. It shouldn’t be hot – but it should be almost entirely in liquid form.
  2. Using a stand mixer or electric beaters, beat the butter with the sugars until creamy. Add the vanilla and the egg; beat on low speed until just incorporated – 10-15 seconds or so (if you beat the egg for too long, the cookies will be stiff).
  3. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix until crumbles form. Use your hands to press the crumbles together into a dough. It should form one large ball that is easy to handle (right at the stage between “wet” dough and “dry” dough). Add the chocolate chips (and nuts if using) and incorporate with your hands.
  4. Roll the dough into 12 large balls (or 9 for HUGELY awesome cookies or use a tablespoon for smaller cookies) and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 9-11 minutes until the cookies look puffy and dry and just barely golden.Warning, friends: DO NOT OVERBAKE  this is essential for keeping the cookies soft. Take them out even if they look like they’re not done yet. They’ll be pale and puffy.
  5. Let them cool on the pan for a good 30 minutes or so. These should stay soft for many days if kept in an airtight container.

DSC_1442

Happy Sunday!

A Cake for Mommy

What happens when my toddler wants to bake me a cake?  I baked myself a bake.

My kiddo helped more than I expected so that was a sweet surprise.

measuring ingredients

Bonus:  Refrigerator Art for Mommy

(AKA How I know she really really loves me)

Except when she excitedly showed me the hand prints she proudly made for me.  I suppose I should be thankful the sentiments are there, and glad that she didn’t protest too much when I had to removed her lovely creation.  I showed her the picture I took of it and said I would treasure it forever so I could clean the refrigerator.  She said “forever is a long time Mommy”.  That cheeky little monkey.  I will treasure her sass too.

flour hand prints

Sweet, but not too Sweet, Please

I wanted to find a recipe that didn’t have too much sugar.  I suppose too and much are subjective, but I went in search of a sponge cake recipe for cakes like those often sold in Chinese bakeries because they’re usually not too sweet (IMO).  I found one on the Nancy Baked blog  which had only one cup of sugar.  That’s not too much right?  And most importantly, I loved how she had detailed process pictures, very important (did I say that already?) for a baking-noob like myself.  Sigh, the things I get myself into for my toddler.

Chinese Bakery Cake Recipe

for 2 9″ round cakes, adapted from Nancy Baked

Ingredients:

6 eggs (at room temperature)
1 1/2 cup cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup sugar, separated into 1/3 and 2/3 cup
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Tips:  This sponge cake is light and fluffy because meringue is gently folded into the batter.  This is easier if you have two separate mixing bowls, one for the batter and one for the meringue.  Or if you only have one mixing bowl, divide and pour batter into the two cake pans and then wash the mixing bowl before making the meringue and fold it into the batter directly in the cake pan.

Nancy Bakes’ directions were to line the bottoms only, and not the sides of the baking pans, but I didn’t have parchment paper on hand so I didn’t line at all.  Instead I had rubbed a little bit of butter onto the bottom of the pans and felt the cakes came out okay.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (~176 degrees C)

1.  Separate Eggs

(with a Funny Egg Egg Yolk Separator)

I saw this egg separator at Walmart years and years ago and I *had* to get it even though I didn’t really bake because it was so fun looking.  I had it for over 10 years and this was the first time I used it for real.   Everyone who sees it in my kitchen comments on it but I was never able to say honestly if it worked or not.

And (this feels like a big reveal, ta-da), it actually worked well!  I We separated 8 eggs without any mishap so this funny egg egg yolk separator was a good $5 investment.  The recipe only called for 6 eggs, but it was so fun we did all 8 we had.  I just looked for it on Amazon and it’s still $5.  Not much inflation for egg yolk separators huh? (Affiliate link to buy your own funny egg egg yolk separator here)

seperating eggs

2.  Beat egg yolks and 2/3 cup sugar with an electric beater on high for approximately one minute or until it turns pale yellow.

3.  Sift cake flour and baking powder over the pale yellow egg yolk mixture and mix at low speed until just incorporated.

4.  Add water, oil, and vanilla extract and beat at medium speed until smooth and creamy.

mixing batter

My daughter performed the above steps but I took over for the following steps:

5.  Make meringue by whipping room temperature egg whites with an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until slightly foamy.  Then add cream of tartar and beat on high for approximately 3 minutes or until stiff peaks have just formed.  Then decrease speed to low and while the mixer is still on, add in the 1/3 cup of sugar.  Then beat at high for another 30 seconds or so until all the sugar is incorporated.  You should be able to turn the meringue upside down and it won’t move, but how risky you live your life is entirely up to you.

6. Gentle fold meringue into batter until just incorporated.  The less mixing, the fluffier the cake.  Then transfer quickly to baking pans (if not mixing directly in pans) for baking.  The longer the batter rests, the less fluffy the cake.

7.  Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees F (~176 degrees C) for approximately 20 minutes until tops are golden brown.  Every oven seems a little different – it took 25 minutes in my current oven (probably because, looking around sheepishly, ummm, the vents in the back of my oven are covered with cat hair).

ready to come out of oven

8.  Let cool until warm, approximately 8 minutes, before moving from pans to cooling racks to cool further.  The cake will shrink and your house will smell wonderful.  I had to guard the cooling cakes from my daughter because she kept pulling up the chair to try to sample them.  I don’t mind her sampling but didn’t want her to burn her cute little fingers.

9.  Decorate as desired when completely cooled.  I also used whipped cream and strawberries like Nancy Bakes did.  I try to always have heavy cream on hand for our family’s favorite creamy chicken recipe and since I often buy my strawberries from Costco, we usually have a little too many so this was a great way to use them up.  Whipped cream frosting is also nice when you want something lighter.

 

Whipped Cream Recipe

For a 2 layer cake, adapted from Nancy Baked

Ingredients:

4 cup heavy cream
2 cup powder sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (or extract of your choice)

Optional:  Food coloring

This whipped cream frosting is very light and the sweetness can be adjusted easily with more or less powder sugar.  You can also adjust the flavor with different extracts or additions.

Directions:

Tip:  It works best to use very cold equipment – leave heavy cream in refrigerator until ready to use and store whisk and metal bowl in freezer for at least 30 minutes prior to mixing.

1.  Whip the heavy cream with an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, starting at a low speed and gradually working up to high to minimize splattering.

2.  When the cream starts to thicken, gradually add powder sugar and vanilla extract.  We stopped intermittently to taste and determine if we needed more sugar.  Try not to eat all the whipped cream and save enough to decorate the cake.  That is very hard to do.

3.  Scoop whipped cream into a coriander to drain excess liquid.  Maybe we didn’t couldn’t wait long enough but nothing seeped out.

Nancy Bakes provides additional directions on adding optional gelatin to add structure and stiffness to the whipping cream.

Decorating cake

My daughter alternated a spoon of whipped cream for the cake and one for her mouth until we ran out of clean spoons.  For the astute, yes, my daughter is now in blue instead of yellow. Baking a cake can be a messy job for a 3 year old and may require a change of clothing, or two, to get the job done.

sponge cake

Mother’s Day is coming up.  While I had said I no longer expect any gifts as experiencing motherhood was the ultimate gift itself, I am not above using it as an excuse to order a big Baskin Robbin’s fudge crunch ice cream cake.  I mean cake is the answer to everything right?  And everyone gets to enjoy the treat so it’s not just for me right? Cake is love right?

I haven’t told the kiddo about Mother’s Day yet but if she wants to bake me another cake, maybe I would do it (sniff ice cream cake, I’ll miss you) since this time didn’t turn out a complete disaster thanks to Nancy Bake’s detailed pictures and to my kiddo for all the help.  How about you?  Would you bake yourself a cake?