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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

Mmmmm...yummy!  The reason why I know for sure...I left six in a container before Rich went to hockey. When he came home, three were gone!

You may remember the posting from my trip to San Francisco back in December. My girlfriend Sarah surprised me with The GHIRARDELLI Chocolate Cookbook.  I decided to try the Dark Chocolate Cupcakes found on page 68 of the book.
Sift the dry ingredients.

Shake, shake, shake!

Combine wet ingredients.  Whisk the dry ingredients.  Add to the wet.

Divide the batter into muffin tins. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Let cool completely.

I used Wilton round tip 12 to pipe the frosting.

Creamy, rich and delicious!


Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes 12 Cupcakes

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Ghirardelli Unsweetened Cocoa
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk (I substituted vanilla soy milk)
1/3 cup strong brewed coffee or espresso
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners or spray with non stick spray and set aside. (I used mini muffin tins and the recipe went a long way. In total I was able to make about 24 mini cupcakes.)

Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, brown and white sugars. Whisk in the milk, coffee and melted butter. Whisk in the dry ingredients. Divide the batter evenly among the liners, filling them about three-quarters full.

Bake for 15 minutes or until a tester inserted in the middle of the cupcakes comes out clean. Let cool for ten minutes then remove from pans. Continue to cool on a wire rack to room temperature.

For the frosting recipe, click here.

My mom gave me these adorable candles that spelled out "Happy Birthday." They acted as very cute cupcake toppers!

Happy Birthday Julia!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Personalized Cookies for Ben's First Birthday

I received an order to make cookies for Ben's first birthday party. A request was made for cars and number 1's with Ben's name. They turned out really cute! 

The number 1's were personalized with Ben's name written vertically down each cookie.

Some cars had "Ben is 1!" written on them, while others were personalized with the names of Ben's friends to take home as part of their loot bags.

Planning ahead was key to making these cars look as car-like as possible. In the end, I actually changed some of the initial details because I needed to have enough space to pipe names on each cookie. 

To make these sugar cookies I used my all time favourite Sugar Cookie Recipe from the book Cookie Craft.
For all of you who have not yet gone out to buy Peterson and Fryer's book, what are you waiting for? There are so many tips and ideas to keep you busy for a very long time! Okay...for all of my followers who have been asking for my sugar cookie recipe...see below!

Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Once the cookies have cooled, pipe the outline of the car with black royal icing.

Pipe window, steering wheel and tires.

 Let piping dry completely dry before flooding.

Next step, flood carefully with desired colors.

Let dry overnight.

The next day, pipe names on each car with royal icing.

How adorable do these cars look on this neighbourhood tablecloth?

Beep! Beep!  We don't want to be late for Ben's first Birthday Party!

Individually packaged...

...and ready to go!

Rolled Sugar Cookies-taken from Cookie Craft

3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla* or 1 teaspoon vanilla plus zest of 1 lemon
food coloring (if cookie design calls for it)

*Instead of vanilla, you can use other extracts such as almond or peppermint.

1. Whisk together the flour and salt in a medium bowl.

2. Using your mixer, use the paddle attachment to cream together the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla (and lemon zest, if you're using it) or your extract of choice and mix until well blended.

3. With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until the two are thoroughly blended.

4. If your cookie design calls for adding food coloring, do so now, and continue blending until desired color is reached and is evenly incorporated.

5. Turn out dough onto work surface and divide into two or three equal portions, Form each one into a rough disk. Click here for step by step and visuals of how to roll out dough and attain cookies of the same thickness.

6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

7. After you have rolled and cut the dough and the cookie shapes are on parchment-lined cookie sheets, bake them in the middle rack of the oven for 12-16 minutes or until the cookies start to turn slightly golden around the edges.

8. Cool cookies completely on a rack before icing or decorating.

2 1/2-inch cookies--about 30
3 1/2-inch cookies--about 16
4 1/2-inch cookies--about 12

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bridal Shower Cake

Can you guess who made this cake? 

No, Carlo's Bake Shop did not make this cake for my Bridal Shower. Neither did Bakerella.

My sister Adrienne made it with the help of her friend Jen!

I just loved it! The cake was definitely the hit of the party....along with a few other surprises! Stay tuned for a post in a few weeks with detailed steps on how to make a cake just like this one. In the meanwhile...take a look at some of the pictures of this amazing cake.

My sister is going to have to give me some lessons on fancy fondant techniques.
Just look at the detail on the dress!

The letters are so cute!

Thanks Agie!  I just loved the cake!

And to all of my bridesmaids who made this day so special for me...Thank you!  A Cookie Decorating Contest was one of the highlights.  And for my teacher friends...they even made a rubric with success criteria to go along with it.  Check out some pics of the cookies below.

I had to select a winner based on the criteria from the rubric. For those of you who are not teachers, a rubric is like a checklist of "look fors" that students receive at the beginning of a unit/task to understand what the teachers will be evaluating on their final project when they are graded.

Creative...that is supposed to be me. Not funny Sarah!

I loved the pepper and the hot lips on the cookie above. "M" for Melissa was very neat and appealing. But the winner of the contest...the most creative wedding gown designed by my friend Julie! And although you can't see it, she was very resourceful and used a piece of cauliflower as the diamond on the ring! Just adorable.

Thanks girls.  This was such an incredible day that I will never forget.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


There's nothing like an airy meringue! When it touches your tongue, the sugar dissolves and tastes so sweet! 

Beat egg whites, pinch of salt, sugar and vanilla.  Add colors if desired. 

Pipe onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.

Bake at 225 degrees for about an hour or until outer shell is dry.

Leave oven door open and let cool on racks.

Arrange on a platter.

Store remaining meringues in an air tight container.

4 egg whites (at room temperature)
pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 pkg chocolate chips

1. Add salt to egg whites and beat with electric mixer until it stands in soft peaks.  Add sugar until incorporated.

2. Add vanilla (or any other extract) and continue beating until stiff peaks form, but do not overbeat.

3. Add food coloring (if desired).

4. Add chocolate chips and mix by hand (optional).

5. This recipe suggests using a teaspoon to spoon onto parchment lined baking sheet, however, I like to use a disposable piping bag with or without a tip.  This time I used Wilton star tip #1M and followed the technique demonstrated in the link above.

6. Preheat oven and bake at 225 degrees until outside is dry but inside is still chewy (about an hour).  Do not remove from the oven at once, but turn off heat and open door and leave them in the oven for 5-10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool away from drafts.

7. Store in tightly covered container, e.g. cookie tin.

Yield: About 60 piped meringes.