Monday, April 25, 2011

Mini Easter Cupcakes

By: Jill

These cupcakes are a mini-version of cupcakes that were first introduced to me by my sister-in-law Angela. She made them for a New Years Eve party and I was hooked - although not instantly. I insisted that I "did not like pistachio", but after one bite I did a complete reversal and have been obsessed ever since!

The recipe I choose was from SparkRecipes. It uses the dry Jello-O as an ingredient.

With only a few other ingredients, these cupcakes are tasty and quick to make.

I decided to make these cupcakes "mini" for Easter because I wanted something that was easy to eat amongst a bunch of other desserts. The recipe gave me about 50 mini-cupcakes, which was the perfect amount for the two different stops I had on Easter.

The frosting I used was a marscapone/whipped cream frosting.

It was an extremely light frosting, with only a small amount of sugar and vanilla added to the whipping cream and marscapone.

After piping the frosting, I added one chocolate chip to the top.

The mini-cupcakes were so cute and everyone at Easter loved them! I can't thank Angela enough for introducing me to this wonderful combination flavors.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pear Tart with Pâte Brisée

By: Jill
When I first learned how to make it during a cooking class given by Helen's Kitchen, I proclaimed it the "best" fruit-based dessert I had ever had. (I also highly recommend taking a class with Helen. I've taken quite a few of them!)
This dessert starts with a pate brisee crust. I've used this crust for numerous recipes and I love how flaky the crust comes out. I have always been disappointed by store-bought pie crusts for their tastelessness, but this recipe is full of flavor.
First, butter is cut into pieces and put in the freezer for ten minutes. This crust has a flaky texture because the butter is not allowed to melt while the dough is being made.
It is also extremely important to have precisely measured flour.
Ice water ensures that all the ingredients stay cold. A small amount of vinegar is also added.
After the mixer has combined the ingredients, the mixture is poured onto a flat surface where it is kneaded together very quickly (again, so the butter does not melt).
This recipe makes two crusts. They are refrigerated for an hour before they are used.
For the pear tart, butter and sugar are melted in a frying pan.
The sliced pears are placed in a circle and sprinkled with pumpkin pie spice and Cognac. Using Bosc pears is also important to this recipe, as they hold their firmness during the baking process.

After the dough is rolled out, it is formed around the cooled pears that are still in the frying pan.
 The result is an amazing tart!
The whole frying pan goes into the oven and, when the tart is cooked, it is "flipped" over into a dish.You must watch the pan very closely to make sure the pears caramelize, but do not burn.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Fancy Nancy Cake!

We had made a Mardi Gras themed cake for a little girl who was going to be turning 6 years old. She was having a second party, a family party, the next day and this party theme was “Fancy Nancy.” The requests for this cake were slightly less specific; lots of girly stuff & lots of glitter.
We started out with the cakes, and for this cake we decided to make the batter pink! After baking the cakes and allowing them to cool, we frosted the cake with white buttercream.
We used the gum paste cutting machine again for this cake. We used pink and purple gum paste to created teapots, butterflies, and a tiara. We made lots of tiny roses, by hand, to add to this cake too.
We wrote “Happy Birthday Sofia, in bright pink buttercream and piped on a bright pink star border. We added lots of pink and silver sprinkles to the top of the cake.
 We wanted the tiara to be a focus point for this cake so we added lots of purple accents, lots of glitter, and we added a “6” to the middle of the tiara.
We placed the roses, butterflies and teapots on top of the cake. We also placed some teapots and butterflies to the sides of the cake.

This cake was so fun and girly! We had a lot of fun making this cake because we were able to play around with the cake batter by making it pink and also we were able to make different shaped using the gum paste cutting machine.