Monday, October 24, 2011

Make your own.....Chocolate Syrup!!!

Okay! If you're a chocolate person, this is gonna rock your world. It is exactly like the "restaurant stuff", and is not even comparable to the Hershey's syrup, oddly enough. It's great for chocolate milk, desserts, and coffee.

The ingredients for this are crazy simple....the only thing you may have to run and get is some unsweetened cocoa powder. I use Hershey's, but you can use some fancier stuff if you have it (i.e. dutch process or whatever). I like Hershey's, it tastes great, is versatile, and you can get a monster thing of it at Sam's. :)

The only other thing you need is sugar, water, and vanilla. Pretty sure everyone has those! I'll give the amounts at the end.

Step 1:

Combine the sugar and water on the stove and bring to low boil over medium high heat, very much like making the simple syrup we made for the Pumpkin Spice Syrup.

Step 2:

add the cocoa power and salt and whisk to combine....let it boil for about another minute while whisking. (If you let it boil too long it will be more of a sundae sauce consistency and not squeezable out of a bottle).

*WARNING* It. Smells. Amazing.

Step 3:

Take it off the heat and stir in the vanilla. Let it cool for about 5-10 minutes on the stove.

Run it through a fine mesh sieve, just like before, to catch any sugar crystals.

You can see that the first batch I made only made a small amount. This, clearly, is not enough for me, so I made another batch right away with double the amount.

After we used what we wanted that night, this was all that was left for my bottle. So I made that other batch and it filled the bottle up. Be sure to let it cool before you put it in your plastic bottle if that's what you are using! It may seem thin at first but will thicken as it cools. I totally made this on the back burner while I was making dinner one takes NO TIME at all!! It keeps in the fridge really well and squeezes right out. If you have any issues with it, you can just let it sit out for a few minutes.

This recipe is adapted from Alton Brown's chocolate sauce recipe from Food Network. These amounts can be doubled or tripled.

To make 3/4 cup:

1/3 c water

2/3c sugar

1/3 c cocoa

1/4 t vanilla extract

pinch of salt

All are welcome to share and pin this post please just link back here! Thanks!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

(apologies for the terrible picture quality. I'm thinking even my camera was salivating over these)

Peanut Butter cup mini chocolate cupcakes!

Wait until you see what's inside....

Can we just get a moment of silence?

These are from one of my food network mag's from a while ago. There was a whole section on cupcakes imitating candy bars. These were made for some birthdays at my husband's work...he did a secret poll to see which of the candy bars was the favorite (among nestle crunch, butterfinger, snickers, almond joy, etc) and Reese's was the winner by a landslide!

These are chocolate cupcakes with a peanut butter topping made from peanut butter chips and milk chocolate candy shell. They taste exactly like the real thing. Can I getta AMEN?!?!
The sad part is, my husband doesn't even like Reeses cups....and I still married him!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Glamour Girl 7th Birthday Cake

This was for a little girl having her party at one of those salons for young girls...something I know nothing about so I had to do a little homework! They have different themes they can choose sock hop, princess, and "glamour girl" like this one. The girls dress up and get their hair in "up do's" and then have a little fashion show on a runway. Fun!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Reptile Ruckus Cake Walk Cake

Now that we have a child in "big boy school", aka Kindergarten, we are being introduced to school fairs and festivals (again). Tonight my son, who's school mascot is the "Lizards" is having their fall festival. They are having a "cake walk", and asked for donations of baked goods. So I figured I'd make a cake! This is smaller, 6inches round.

The main dilemma I had was deciding on what type of lizard to use. They use 3 different kinds that I've seen so far! The one on the logo looks, to me, like a friendly version of the dinosaur from Jurassic Park that flares out his neck thingy. The car stickers I've seen have gecko shapes on them. And they have horned lizards in tanks in the school! How am I supposed to know what to use??? Haha. Quite the dilemma.

And of course, I don't have cookie cutters for ANY of those types of animals. Nor could I get my hands on one in time.

I was all set to start hand cutting out some geckos, and I thought I'd look through my cutters one more time just to see if one magically appeared. This one is the only lizard type I have, from a set of Australian animals my mother in law sent me. It too, looks like the afore mentioned dino, with quite the scary face! I think it is actually supposed to be a bearded dragon. So, I wound up rolling out the fondant thinner than usual and using the cutter for the general shape, then used my gum paste tools to carve in a much friendlier face. I've said many times, I'm not an artist, so I think he looks a little weird, but not too too bad!

The pic below on the far right is the actual official mascot that's on the school logo.

I wound up making 3 of these and placing them around the sides of the cake. On the bottom is a border from one of my new fondant molds I haven't had a chance to try out yet.

EDF Apple-Pear Butter in the Crockpot

This is something I've been wanting to make since last year, but finally now have the motivation to do it. Most people have probably heard of "apple butter", but really there's a whole slew of fruits you can make "butters" out of. It's not really like actual butter, it's more like a really thick applesauce consistency. And very sweet!
As I'm going through the jars of jam I made, I am planning on making batches of this over the winter. First up? Apple-pear butter. This is from Martha's Everyday Food from Dec 2010. The recipe is on her website.

2.5 pounds each apples and pears. Each peeled, cored, and cut up. You bet I used my food processor for this!

Fast forward 20 minutes to this.....apples on the bottom, pears on the top, some dark brown sugar, and a cinnamon stick.

Stir it all up and cook in the crock pot for 4 hours.

After 4 hours, it looks like this: YUM already.
Take out the cinnamon stick and blend it up in food processor and return it to crock pot. Now it looks a little more like applesauce.

It will darken and brown in color as it cooks, uncovered this time, for 4 more hours. Having this on your counter top uncovered all day and not sampling it frequently is pretty much impossible.

This batch filled up 3 pint jars (16oz ball jars). I have one in the fridge and 2 in the freezer. I believe it keeps for a couple months in the freezer. You can use it on sandwiches or toast or ice cream or whatever! It's basically like really sweet and thick applesauce. It's really great on an English muffin with some actual butter.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

iCarly cake!

This was for one of my neighbors. I was really happy with the way it came out, especially for a non-fondant covered cake. (Well, the deco's are fondant, but, you know) I am getting much better at getting a smooth frosting coat! It takes alot of practice!

Also, for the record, I watched two whole episodes of iCarly for homework on this cake. It reminded me of my Saved by the Bell days!

For those other "grown ups" who don't know....iCarly is on Nickelodian, and it's basically about a couple young (9-10th grade?) girls who film a web tv show in their loft. I think they live with the older brother? A little confused on that. :) They have a remote that controls applause and laughter sounds that one of the girls always holds, that's what is on top of this cake. Did I get it right?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Paul Frank Monkey Cake

I am definitely deep into my "busy" season! This was for a combo father-daughter birthday. It was also a surprise for the daughter, which I didn't realize until her mom came to pick it up! I love surprises (and surprise cakes). I wish I could set up a hidden camera to see them! The daughter likes the Paul Frank monkey, and the dad is a drummer, so I put little drumsticks and music notes around the side for him.

Here's a better view of the "front" with his name on it too!