It’s been a looooong time since I’ve posted, and part of the reason is the little guy above. Our poor cat Hades had a urinary block in mid-August, and it has only gotten fully resolved recently. Turns out, he had to be hospitalized 3 times, and ended up having surgery the last time he was there (third time’s a charm, right?).
Without being too graphic, the surgery involved the removal of his male anatomy so that he will no longer get blocked if he develops urinary crystals. Poor guy had to wear a cone for 2 weeks and even though he got his stitches out yesterday, he has to wear the cone a few more days.
It’s like he’s saying, “Mom, why are you photographing my humiliation?”
He really has been a trooper through the whole process.
But you know who else was awesome? Our vet and his entire staff. They made sure our Hades was well cared for, and made sure the entire ordeal was affordable for us. At one point early on, I was worried we wouldn’t be able to swing the surgery and THAT was a scary prospect. But they worked with us, so that we could have the procedure done. Hades was so close to death the third time we brought him in, but they worked fast and brought him back (which was amazing). We are so grateful.
So when Hades had his stitches out yesterday, I decided I wanted to make cookies to thank everyone. And since Hades can be difficult at times (as his name suggests), I decided to make Hades cookies so they can bite his head off!
I can’t believe it’s been four months since my last post! Things have been so busy with the work and house…I haven’t had time to do much baking. But I did make these cupcakes last month for Father’s day, and they were a hit!
These were inspired by a tutorial I saw on Cake Central on how to make hi-hat cupcakes. They reminded me of the Mr. Softee cones, which I was first introduced to when I moved to New York. So I looked up how to make ice cream cone cupcakes, and to my surprise, you can actually pour the batter into the cone and bake it right in there for the same amount of time you would use for a cupcake liner. You can still bake them in a cupcake tin, just put one cone in each hole.
Then you make the hi-hat frosting, freeze for 10 minutes to solidify, and dip in melted chocolate. Easy! I used red Mercken Melts so they would look like a Mr. Softee cone. Also, because my husband hates regular chocolate (weird!).
What is cool is that when you cut it down the middle, there is cake all the way to the bottom! The cone gets a little softer and chewy, and takes on the taste of the cake. I used my go-to recipe for vanilla buttermilk cupcakes for this one.
The only real difficulty is how to transport these. My sister-in-law showed me some pics online of a setup where people cut holes in a foil tin and sat the cupcakes in the holes. I decided to do a variant of this, and got one of the chafing dish stands to help.
These are really fun to make, and also really fun to eat! Perfect for summer.
1 lb red Mercken's melts (or whatever color you prefer)
To make the frosting:
In a stainless steel mixing bowl, whisk together the egg whites, water, sugar and cream of tartar. Whisk until foamy. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and continue whisking until the egg whites are hot (about 160 degrees F). I used a candy thermometer.
Using a heavy duty mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, and the frosting has cooled to room temperature. This takes a while. I just let it go and came back occasionally to check on it.
Using a piping bag and a large round tip, pipe the frosting in swirls onto the cupcakes, until they are tall & pointed on top. Place frosted cupcakes on a cookie sheet and place them in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before dipping them in melted chocolate.
Microwave ½ cup Mercken's melts at a time with 1 TBSP Crisco. Microwave at half power for 30 second intervals and stir until it is smooth and flows freely from the spoon.
Pour melted chocolate into a tall cup, so there is enough depth for dipping. Gently hold cupcake cone upside down into the chocolate and swirl so that all the frosting is covered. Add sprinkles if you desire, while the chocolate is wet.
Place cupcakes on a plate and keep in refrigerator for 10-15 minutes so the chocolate solidifies.
Whichever cake recipe you use, bake cupcake batter in cones for the same time as specified on the recipe. Fill cones about ⅔ full.
Here’s another cookie post. I made these for my dental hygienist, who paints on the side and has given us some really beautiful artwork. He gave us this painting coincidentally on the same day that we put a bid in on our house. And how it’s hanging over our fireplace.
Since he shared his art with me, I wanted to share mine with him.
These were fun to make. I used a thicker layer of royal icing for filling in the palette by using Wilton tip #3, instead of my usual #2 tip. I still used the #2 tip for outlining the palette, though. For the paints, I used a large tip (#11 or 12 will work nicely) and full strength icing. A more detailed tutorial on how to decorate sugar cookies (and also the recipe) can be seen here.
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I’m really into sugar cookies lately. They are so easy to make, and then you can spend all your time decorating them in cute ways. You don’t have to worry about the structural integrity like with carved cakes, and they are easy to transport since the icing dries hard. And who doesn’t love a sugar cookie? Find me one person…I challenge you! My favorite recipe is this one, and it has never failed me.
Anyways, I made these for my friend’s baby shower, and as you can guess, she is having TWIN BOYS! Double trouble I can’t take full credit for the design…I found them on Pinterest. This was fairly complicated to draw on a cookie, but after a few tries, I got it. The entire design is done with royal icing (recipe here). Start by drawing the outline with full strength royal icing, and let that dry. I used a wilton #2 tip. Then, to fill in the cookie, add just enough water to the royal icing so that it flows freely from a spoon. You still want it a thick liquid, but fluid. I also used a #2 tip for this part, because if you flood the cookie too much, you will lose the designs. So I filled in with a thin layer of blue and peach icing so you could still see the faces and polka dots. If you are really concerned, you can add some icing to the cookie (using an icing bag and tip) and then spread it around with a toothpick.
Remember, for complicated designs, keep the pressure on the icing bag steady and move slowly and deliberately. I messed up most when I rushed. If you do mess up, you can take a thin paintbrush (that is devoted to cake decorating), dip it in water, and gently move the outline where you want it. You can also use this method to smooth down stray icing that doesn’t lay flat. But do this right away, as the icing dries fast.
Have fun, and be creative! Think of sugar cookies as your canvas and icing as your medium.
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My apologies to my Boston family and friends, but I cannot defend the Patriots this time. I’m all for creative plays (not that I understand them fully), but stealing the balls and deflating them is just too much. Luckily, I can have a sense of humor about it. So I decided to make “deflategate” cupcakes, and what better flavor than something made with Sam Adams beer?
The recipe called for Sam Adams Boston Lager, but I decided to go with the Boston Ale, because it was smoother and had hints of caramel. I thought it would be a better cupcake beer. It turned out great! The cupcakes were not overly sweet, and had a bread/yeast flavor. I would say these are a cross between a cupcake and a cornbread muffin. I decided to pair them with my new favorite cream cheese frosting.
Decorating was the most fun! To make the deflated footballs, I knew I needed some kind of dried fruit. At first I wanted prunes, but I know they are not a fan favorite. I found that dried dates look even better, and I think they taste better than prunes. We’ll see what people think when I serve them. I just did 5 stitches with royal icing, and it was all pretty easy.
I had to go with Pats colors, and the supermarket didn’t have red and blue sprinkles that I could purchase alone. So I had to get a few bottles of patriotic red, white, and blue sprinkles.
What happened to all the white sprinkles, you may ask. Well, a huge thank you to my hubby who sat with me and helped pick out all the white sprinkles! What a pain in the ass, but the finished product really does look good! Next time, I will leave myself 2 days so I can order single colors of sprinkles on Amazon!
Now they are in formation and ready to go for the Superbowl!
Who am I rooting for in the game? I’m not sure…I guess whoever makes it so that I win a little money in the pool I’ve entered!
Cupcakes made with Sam Adams Boston Ale (from the Sam Adams Blog)
Makes 24 cupcakes. Originally made with Boston Lager, but I made the decision to use the Boston Ale. I do not regret my decision
2 sticks unsalted butter
1.5 cups of white sugar
3 large eggs (at room temperature)
4 large egg yolks
2.5 cups of all-purpose flour (sifted)
1 TBSP baking powder
¾ tsp salt
1 cup milk
⅓ cup Samuel Adams Boston Ale
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line 2 cupcake tins with cupcake liners.
In an electric mixer, beat together the sugar and butter until fluffy.
Add the eggs and egg yolks and beat until smooth and fluffy.
In a large bowl, sift the flour and add the baking powder and salt.
In a small bowl, mix the milk and Boston Ale.
Add ⅓ of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, and mix well. Then add ½ of the milk/beer to the butter mixture and beat. Continue alternating adding the dry ingredients and milk/beer until it is entirely incorporated.
Scoop batter into the cupcake liners, and fill ⅔ of the way.
Bake 16-18 minutes (top rack of oven, bottom may take longer), or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes clean.
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