Friday, June 22, 2012

Ice Cream Cupcakes

I scream you scream, we all scream for ice cream. That's kind of been the theme around here lately. The kiddos don't go a day with out asking for a little ice cream or popsicles to cool them off. So I've been buying popsicles by the armful...and recently ventured into the ice cream section. Where I came across this.....

Seriously...birthday cake ice cream?! Appearantly I've been under a rock. I had no idea they made such a thing, but I knew it must come home with me. And in case your really does taste like birthday cake. It's like licking a cold beater of cake batter :).

I wanted to make the kids a little something cold they could enjoy outside, without sending out my bowls or spoons that always get hidden in the back yard. I ended up with ice cream cupcakes! I layered about half a cupcake, ice cream, topped with whipping cream and then of course tons of sprinkles. Just in case I lost you let me break it down Barney style:

Whipped topping - on top of bithday cake ice - cream on top of white it? ;) Together making the perfect birthday treat for party planning mommas! Just the right amount to serve the seems that every party we throw away plates filled with melted icing and left over cake. What I really love about them is you can just pull them out of the freezer and cake cutting or ice cream scooping required. (I really dislike scooping ice cream with all the kids standing around waiting)

Ready to make some?!

Here's what you will need:

1 box white or confetti cake mix (plus ingredients listed on box)
1 pint Blue Bunny Birthday Cake ice cream
1 can whipped topping
1 pint heavy whipping cream + 1/4 cup sugar

Makes 36 cupcakes.

Step 1: Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Step 2: Mix cake as directed on box. (if using a white you can now mix in sprinkles if you'd like)
Step 3: Spoon 1 1/2 TBS of batter into each cupcake wrapper. (I added sprinkles on now since I was spilting my cake batter)

Step 4: Bake at 8-10. Let cool in cupcake pan. While cooling get out ice cream to soften a bit.

Step 5: Once cooled spoon about 2 TBS of ice cream into the cupcake wrapper. Smooth with small spatula.
Step 6: Place in freezer until frozen. (mine took several hours)

Step 7: Once frozen top with whipped cream and then place back in freezer until ready to serve.

**To make your own whipped cream beat 1 pint of heavy whipping cream in cold bowl until fluffy, then beat in 1/4 cup of powdered sugar**

I love how these can be made ahead of time and served so easily. I made these in a birthday theme but of course there's nothing stopping you from making just about any flavor combo out there. Just a little heads up, they do melt quickly so do not remove from freezer until ready to serve.

Happy Baking!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cake Mix Lemon Rolls

Good morning! If your week has been anything like mine, your in need of a pick me up and a little sunshine :) Today I have just the thing for you, Lemon Rolls or we could just call them sunshine rolls!
A few weeks ago Christy at Made From The Oven posted some easy cinnamon rolls made from a cake mix. She even tried some in chocolate and added sprinkles for a birthday cinnamon roll. I knew I had to try out her recipe, and I'm so glad I did!
When I went to pull out a cake mix from my baking cabinet and came across the lemon cake mix I've been avoiding. I never really like lemon desserts but I bought the cake mix telling myself I needed to try to make a summery treat with it. I've never had a lemon roll why not give it a try.
The result was shocking. Seriously. Amazing. I was really shocked how much everybody loved these, even though most everybody had claimed to not care for lemon. I started with Christy's orignial recipe then swaped out the cake flavor, extract, and the filling. I topped it with a Duncan Hines vanilla glaze, another item that's been patiently waiting to be tested in the cabinet. It was light, not too sweet, not too tart, and such a great twist on a breakfast classic! The vanilla glaze was super easy and worked perfectly, a cream cheese icing would also be perfect.

Here's what you will need:
Lemon Rolls
 1 box of Duncan Hines Lemon cake mix
2 packages of dry yeast
2 1/2 cups warm water
1 tsp lemon
1 tsp salt
5 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup softened butter
Nutmeg (optional)
The icing options are endless here! You could use the glaze I used, your favorite vanilla icing recipe, or the cream cheese for sure. Just melt and drizzle :)
Step 1: Pour yeast packets into warm water and stir until dissolved.
Step 2: In a large mixing bowl combined cake mix, salt, and flour. I used my kitchen aid with the dough hook and it worked perfectly.
Step 3: Add warm water to cake mix, you may need to kneed the dough a bit.
Step 4: Cover with seran wrap tightly and let rise for an hour. After an hour punch down, and let rise again for 30 minutes to an hour.

** Here's where I changed things a bit more. This really made a lot of dough and I couldn't seem to get it thin enough. So I reccomend spliting the dough into two pieces and rolling them each seperatly. I ended up with some killer cinnamon rolls lol..lesson learned. Also my dough was still a bit sticky so after rising I worked a bit more flour into it.**

Step 5: Split dough into two parts. Starting with one at a time roll dough into a rectangle shape on a flour covered counter about until 1/4 inch thick.
Step 6: Spread half of softened butter on each rolled out dough. Then add sugar and powdered sugar, and if you'd like sprinkle on a little nutmeg.

Step 6 : Starting with the side farthest from you roll the down towards you.
Step 7: Cut into 24 equal pieces.
Step 8: Place rolls in two greased 9 X 13 glass pans.
Step 9: Cover and let rise on oven while preheating to 350 degrees.
Step 10: Bake for 15-22 minutes.
Step 11: Let cool slightly. You may either pour icing on as they are warm or if you would like you can wait and melt icing later and drizzle over top.
For more details and great photos check out her post here.

Happy Baking!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cupcakes With Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Icing

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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake Fudge

Hey there! Today I'm sharing a spin off one of the winner's recipes for the Duncan Hines frosting creation challenge. When I tried Becky's cotton candy fudge I just knew I had to try it out. During the winner's weekend she shared with us it was just three ingredients, I couldn't believe it! Easy to make, easy to cut, and just as easy to devour ;). The winning recipe was actually made with the cotton candy flavor packet, so I thought I'd try out a different flavor and the strawberry shortcake seemed to be calling my name.

And since you have 12 flavors to work with...think about the possibilites here! I know everybody loves the classic peanut butter or chocolate fudge but think about it... caramel, chocolate marshmellow, cherry vanilla, cinnamon roll...seriously awesome. Of course you can use any other flavor of regular canned icing. Fudge made from icing...who'da thought?! The chefs at Duncan Hines dressed up the dessert by cutting into these cute little triangles and adding pink cotton candy on top, which I though was adorable so I cut it the same and added some sprinkles on top for a fun look. Cute, eh?

Here's what your going to need:

1 can Duncan Hines starter icing
1 packet Duncan Hines frosting creations (any flavor you like)
1 bag white chocolate chips
Sprinkles or other topping/mix in (optional)

Servings: 64 1x1 inch pieces

Step 1: Line and 8X8 pan with foil.

Step 2: Mix frosting creations packet into icing starter.

Step 4: Melt white chocolate chips in microwave. Melt in 30 second spurts mixing in between.

Step 5: Mix icing ito melted chocolate chips.

Step 6: Pour into foil lined pan, sprinkle toppings on top if you would like.
(the fudge was so awesome I didn't even have to press it flat!)

Step 7: Chill for 2 hours.


For a printable version of the recipe click here.
This fudge is here to stay...the flavor combinations have only began in mey head. These will be awesome for the winter holidays, parties for any age, or maybe if your just trying to get on your coworkers good side ;). Be sure to let me know your reviews once you try it!

Happy baking!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

{How to} Freeze Cake, Cupcakes, and Cake Pops

You know that aweful traditon of freezing the top tier of your wedding cake and then eating it on your one year anniversary? Who on earth thought of that! Seriously, a horrible idea. I hate to admit it but we actually followed tradtion, as directed by family of course. My husband was fine but I got incredibly sick. It was so aweful, the memory scarred me. If your a bride to be, I highly recommend the new trend going back to the same baker and having them make you a small cake in the same flavor. No matter what your favorite aunt says, nobody wants year old cake.

So of course when I began making cakes freezing them wasn't even in the cards, no way. But as I began to get really involved I found that my system of baking the cake,  icing, and decorating all in one day was just not working. I wanted to keep it as fresh as possible...but I was always on a time crunch and by the end of the day my kitchen looked like a small bomb had went off and Lord knows where the children were (just kidding) . I came across several forums online where bakers chatted about freezing cakes, and some even claimed it made the cake more fresh. So I gave it a try, and it has completely changed the way I bake...seriously. Now I can bake cake the week before and freeze & make the icing and fondant the day before, which leaves me down to just assembling and decorating the day before it's needed. So much easier, and I have noticed no side effects to the cake. So much different then freezing an iced cake for a year ;). When people find out I freeze cakes they are always shocked and want to know more, today I'm finally getting around to that.

Of course you can also freeze cupcakes and cake pops. Which comes in SO handy! I often bake cupcakes in set of 24 but only need 12 so I pop the extras in the freezer. Which comes in great when I need last minute treats or if guests come over and I need a quick dinner dessert. You can also freeze them in singles incase you'd just like them for when your really craving something sweet.

To freeze cupcakes:

Step 1: After you have baked the cupcakes let them cool a bit, once they are just a little warm they can be wrapped. Lay large pieces of seran wrap in an X then place 12 cupcakes in the center. Fold in one side then the other creating a nice seal.

Step 2: Lay out a long piece of foil and place cupcakes in center. Wrap foil around and fold sides in.

Step 3: Slip into a gallon ziplock.

Step 4: Lable with date and flavor.

For cakes you can do the same thing. The only step I add is once I've wrapped the cakes in seran wrap I slip a cake board underneath before wrapping in foil. This helps keeps the bottom flat and makes it easy to transport without breakin the cake. It also helps with stacking the cakes. When I am freezing a cake with lots of layers I stick the first layer in for about and hour, then the second layer and so on going from largest to smallest Generally by the time the second cake comes out of the oven the first one is semi frozen. If you stack many cakes right away after baking they begin to squish. You'll want each cake to freeze a bit before stacking.

I freeze cake pops in a mini cupcake pan. It's the perfect way to keep the cake pops on their own, not sticking to others, in good shape. Just wrap in seran wrap and then foil. Don't forget to label with the date and description.

When your ready to use the cake/cupcake/cake pops remove from freezer and let set on the counter for a few hours until slightly soft. As you let it sit the condensation will gather up on the seran wrap. Then you can just pull it right off, otherwise once defrosted all the water would be in the cake.

Don't forget to label and date! Even if you think your just going to use it in a few days, plans change! I bake and freez my cakes one week before using, and I like to use them up within 2 weeks if not. But I have kept them in their for a month with no problem...any longer then that I can't say for sure.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Red, White, and Blue Meringue Cookies

I am having a hard time beliving it's time for 4th of July projects. The last few weeks we've been enjoying each day out in the warm sun, playing in the pool, water table, on the swing set, riding bikes, grilling out....anything to keep us outside. However, it seems like mother nature got a little confused this weekend because when I arrived back in NY I felt more like making hot chocolate and snuggling the girls on the couch. It's cold raining and seems to be hanging around. Ugh. Where were we? Oh yea 4th of July, which by the way really is 4 weeks away...despite the fact that were busting out coats here. I love making 4th of July treats it's so simple. Red, white, blue, stars...and you've pretty much covered it. But I wanted to share with you guys a few treats this year that don't involve blueberries, strawberries, and whipped cream :).

While I was at Duncan Hines this weekend Christy and I were blog/baking/4th of July chatting when I had asked her if she ever made meringues.They are kinda a new favorite of mine. Then it kinda hit white and blue meringues! So the first chance I got I had to experiement with it...and they turned out pretty good. These would be a new treat to share at cookouts, or even in treat bags for the fireworks! I really love making meringues because the kids love them, they are easy, I always have the stuff on hand, and I can change them up to match any theme! My husband says the only problem it you can't get enough, and it's true you'll find your stealing a few more then you gave the kids, hehe

Here's what your going to need:

4 large egg whites set out to room temp
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cream of tarter
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp clear vanilla extract
parchment paper
1-3 icing bag
1-3 large star tips
red and blue food coloring (liquid or gel works)

Step 1: First move your two oven racks very close together in the center of the oven and preheat to
200 degrees.

Step 2: Set up your work station. Line 1-2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set out 3 bowls with spoons, red and blue food coloring, and 3 icing bags with tips in them. If you don't have 3 bags and tips, you'll be fine you'll just need to rinse and dry the bag in between colors. Getting everything set up before hand makes the process smooth and quick.

Step 3: In an electric mixer beat room temp egg whites until white and foamy.

Step 4: Add in salt and cream of tarter beat until soft peaks form.

Step 5: Set your kitchen timer for 7 mintutes. Turn your mixer on a medium speed. Whie mixing slowly pour in your sugar taking the whole 7 minutes to do so. It should now look very similar to marshmellow fluff!

Step 6: Seperate meringue into three bowls. If you plan on stacking the cookies in red, white, and blue layers I would reccomend slightly putting more in the red bowl and slightly less in the blue bowl. Add blue coloring to one and red to another.

Step 7: Mix well. Fill piping bag with first color, red if you layering red, white, and blue.

Step 8: Pipe stars onto parchment paper. These stay the same size during baking! So you can put them as close as you need. Don't stress about shape. Then use your second piping bag to pipe the white on, then third bag for the blue. You  can layer them appling slightly smaller stars each layer...or simply pipe out all one color stars. If your new to piping just apply a little bit of presure then release and pull up.

Step 9: If you'd like you can add some 4th of July sprinkles! Now bake at 200 for about 2 hours. Thy will be firm when done but dissolve in the mouth quickly. They really are a great treat for the little ones.

Happy Baking!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Winners Weekend At Duncan Hines!

Wow, I have so much to share! Where to start!? Incase you've missed all the excitement....remember the Duncan Hines frosting creation challenge I have been posting about?? Well my easy chocolate mousse recipe was chosen a winner for the chocolate marshmellow flavor catagory!! So this past weekend Duncan Hines flew me down to their new state of the art test kitchen in Parsippany, New Jersey along with 11 other winners (one for each flavor) as well as three food bloggers Love From the Oven, Hoosier Homemade, and Cookies and Cups. And now I'm back to tell you all about it!

But first let's rewind a bit. I know some of you may be wondering why I'm just now posting about this. I was notified that I was a winner several weeks ago. But I did not want to share until after Duncan Hines released the winners, but that wasn't until the evening before. And in true baker fashion I was finishing up a cake/cupcake/cakepops leaving zero time for blogging.

Duncan Hines really knows how to entertain that's for sure! I enjoyed every bit of it, however, it was a very quick trip and we were always moving  making photo ops limited! But I did manage to snap a few pics to share with you guys.

Coming from northern NY my flight was a quick one into NYC. After being picked up at the airport by a super sweet chauffer I traveled from NYC to Parsippany, NJ  a 45 minute drive that turned into a 2.5 hour drive thanks to crazy NYC traffic. The good news here is I can now handle the hubs driving with ease!

The folks at Duncan Hines didn't miss a detail. Upon check in we recieved little goodie bags filled with  treats for our stay. I had about 15 minutes to freshen up an head down to the hotel lobby to meet the other winners and bloggers as we headed out dinner.

I guess I just assumed it would be dinner and back to the hotel, but boy was I wrong! Duncan Hines had reserved the back of great restaurant Delicious Heights in Bedminister, NJ. We were greated by a very welcoming group of Ducan Hines staff. We were able to mingle and enjoy incredible appetizers until dinner was ready. The food really never stopped coming, as we sat down the table was full of more appetizers, followed by a first course and entree the ended with an incredible choclate mousse created Duncan Hine's very own Pastry Chef Joe DiPaolo. (which was pretty much incredible)
Me,  Christy (Love From The Oven) and Lisa (fellow winner) getting ready to enjoy some delicious food!
We enjoyed many laughs an great conversations. This was like every bakers dream, never in my life have I been in a room filled with people so passionate about the same thing as me, baking of course! Oh how I wish I could share some of the conversation had in that room!
The very next morning we arrived at the new Duncan Hines State of the Art Test Kitchen where we spent the day touring the facility, previewing some new products, enjoying the winners creations, and spending time actually in the kitchen with Pastry Chef Joe DiPaolo. Because this location is where product devlopment and research takes place cameras were restricted to two locations inside of the building. But let me tell was incredible! There was clearly much time and consideration put into the design of the building making it a cozy, functional, and modern location where creation can't help but burst out of! It was no stiff office full of cubicles that's  for sure...lets just say a baker could only dream of using that facility. And my when-we-get-out-of-the-army-and-build-a-house list just multiplied by 10. The hubby won't mind 75% of the house  kitchen...right? ;)
As we arrived the red carpet was awaiting us, as well as a welcoming cheering Duncan Hines staff who suited us up with an apron and we were ready to go.

We started off in the ideation room, a large room suitable for creation! The walls were painted in dry erase paint, large presentation screen hung on 3 walls, cozy movable functional furniture decorated the room, and along the back wall is a large beautiful kitchen much like a regular home kitchen...only much much better!

A sweet little greeting welcomed us on the wall!
 Throughout the facility a winner slideshow played. This is where the pinch me feeling comes in! Hey that's me...and I made THAT! :)

We were given insight on how the frosting creations started and was really neat to hear how the process works and all the detail and work put into it.  Do you know a product like this often takes several years before the public sees it? Pretty crazy right!

Some of the winners writing their frosting creation suggestions on the walls.

From there we toured the rest of the building, which like I said was amazing. Really makes you want to bring in your luggage and move in...think they'd mind a small tent or something? Hehe. We were able to see how consumer research and testing is done and well as sample some future products.

And then it was time to learn from the best. We had several hours where Chef Joe just filled us with tricks, tips, and information...from the basic to the more advanced. As we walked in the room ha two tables lined with cake decorating sets icluding a pastry book, tilting turntable, tips and much more. I"m pretty sure it was like a kid in a candy shop for most of us. And of course because these guys were incredibly nice they sent home a set for each of us including much more (I'll share that later!).

The new wilton turntable! Isn't she beautiful! The book is called the Pastry Chefs Companion a favorite of theirs that I can't wait to read from cover to cover a few times.

And of course some other fun decorating products.

The information Chef Joe gave us was incredible. He didn't waste one minute of our time. We covered marzipan, leveling cakes, icing cakes, piping techniques, sugar decorations, modeling chocolate...and so much more. 
Like our cake? After creating modeling chocolate roses we all placed them on it..don't worry Chef Joe has far more talent then that!

After a refreshing lunch each of our desserts were recreated by the Dunan Hines Chefs. As all bakers do they put their little spins on each of them. It was very cool seeing your creation come to life by such talented bakers. For my chocolate mousse they added a bit of cake making it like a triffle.

I'm really still kind of in shock this recipe won! It was so easy and quick but so yummy. That's exacty what they loved it about it. Be sure to let me know how you like it if you try it :).

My favorite thing of all though was simply the people. The passion for baking amoung the group was so inspiring. The Duncan Hines staff couldn't have been anymore warm and inviting. They treated us like family and welcomed us right in. You could tell that they were actually excited to have us there, and they were busting to share everything and take what they could from us. The winners were all so full of creativity and took in every bit of information possible. I am sure many fabulous creations will come from this weekend. It was an experience I won't ever forget.

Master Chef  Joe Dipaolo and I.

Christy (Love From the Oven) and I.

Shelly (Cookies and Cups) and I.
All 12 winners, 3 bloggers, and Duncan Hines Crew.

And there you have it! Such a sweet weekend!I still have more to share from the weekend so I'll be back to share some tips and winner recipes in a few more posts! I hope you enjoyed a look into my Duncan Hines test kitchen experience.

Thanks Duncan Hines!