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American Girl Tea Party Birthday

After begging for an American Girl doll the past three years, my daughter’s greatest desire was granted her last birthday with the gift of a green-eyed, curly blonde haired mini-me. She promptly named her doll “Maddie” and they’ve been inseparable ever since. The gratification of at last owning an American Girl doll all of her own could only be topped by celebrating her birthday this year with a themed American Girl tea party extravaganza. She wanted all her friends to come over and play dolls with her, while enjoying a delightful (and very grown up) tea. So here’s my great big American Girl Tea Party Birthday post, complete with free printable invitations, menus, name tags and all the food and craft ideas you could hope for!

American Girl Tea Party Ideas and Printables - Bakerlady [Read more…]

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Pumpkin Spice Deathcakes (Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting)

 

Spice cupcakes have been a Halloween tradition for me since childhood. These “deathcakes” are full of cinnamon and pumpkin topped with a glorious cream cheese frosting. Delicious.

Pumpkin Spice Deathcakes - Bakerlady

Love this recipe idea? Check out more Halloween party food on my Fabulously Freaky Halloween Fodder post. It’s full of devilish and delicious ideas!

Print Recipe for Pumpkin Spice Deathcakes

Pumpkin Spice Deathcakes
from Cake Central

1 box spice cake mix
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
3 eggs
1 cup water
1 cup sour cream
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

Whisk together dry ingredients then add wet and beat on low speed for 2 minutes.
Bake at 325 for 20-25 minutes. Makes about 36 cupcakes.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup of shortening
1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter @ room temp
1 8oz bar cream cheese @ room temp
1 T vanilla extract
2 lbs shifted powder sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Directions

Cream together shortening, butter, and cream cheese until nice and smooth. Add vanilla into mixture and combine. Sift together sugar and salt, and slowly add to shortening, butter & cheese mixture. Make sure that all sugar is incorporated.

Hamburger Cookies

I got the idea for these adorable cookies from my friend Rachel. She’s always doing fun things with her girls and is just generally an awesome resource for delightful kiddo entertainment. I gave my kids a simple demo and then let them do the rest. They LOVED making (and eating!) these cookies! Easy, delicious and super cute!

Hamburger Cookies - Bakerlady

First you’ll need a box of Nilla Wafers, a package of dipped Oreos and two tubes of frosting (one red, one green). You could also use Peppermint Patties, Grasshopper Cookies or (during Girl Scout season) Thin Mints. I really liked the taste of the dipped Oreos though. Besides, not everyone likes mint…but who doesn’t LOVE Oreos?

Hamburger Cookies - Bakerlady

I gave each kid a frosting tube and put small star tips on the ends. One did three red ketchup swooshes, the other got to do the lettuce green swipes in between the red ones. You can also do yellow for mustard, and/or top with tinted coconut for lettuce instead of the green frosting – but each kid having a tube and assembly line simplicity worked really well for my two munchkins.

Hamburger Cookies - Bakerlady

Stick the Oreo together between two Nilla wafers with a little dab of frosting on the bottom.

Hamburger Cookies - Bakerlady

Done.

Hamburger Cookies - Bakerlady

Adorable hamburger cookies for your next BBQ. The entire plate was devoured. My kids were so proud of their creations!

Hamburger Cookies - Bakerlady

Print Recipe for Hamburger Cookies

Hamburger Cookies

20 vanilla wafer cookies
10 dipped Oreo cookies
1 (4.25 ounce) Betty Crocker red decorator frosting
1 (4.25 ounce) Betty Crocker green decorator frosting

Directions

For each burger you will need two vanilla wafers as the buns. Place a small dot of frosting on the bottom bun and then place your Oreo cookie on top to look like a hamburger patty.
Make three dots of red frosting on top of the cookie to look like the tomato or ketchup, then three dots of the green frosting to look like lettuce. Finish by placing second vanilla wafer on top as the top burger bun.

Crusting Buttercream & The Great Cupcake Pan

This week I had the tremendous privilege of making the topper for a wedding tower. The bride and groom wanted a giant cupcake, so that’s what they got. I tested out several buttercream recipes and absolutely loved this one. It tastes delicious and crusts up beautifully but is still soft enough to cut thru.

[Read more…]

Strawberry Dream Cake

I can honestly tell you that this recipe was a present for me. From God. No joke. Let me explain. Some lovely people I know just got married. A few days before the wedding I agreed to help out by making a giant cupcake for them to cut into for the smash-cake-in-your-face moment at the wedding. The bride wanted a strawberry cake, but every single recipe I could find used strawberry flavored Jello in it. I’m sure the Jello cakes would have been fine, but the color just seemed too fakey pink given that the bottom of the cake wasn’t going to be frosted.

I searched for several hours and couldn’t find anything that looked good enough for me to use. Frustrated, I went to bed. The next morning in my Twitter feed was a post from America’s Test Kitchen that said “Yes, strawberry cake without Jello is possible with our Strawberry Dream Cake”. (pick my jaw up off the floor) Are you kidding me? I made the recipe that day as a test. It was very good, but a little denser than I wanted. I decided I could make life a lot easier on myself by bumping up the strawberry portion and using a white boxed cake mix as the base. The result was a light deliciously strawberry cake that took only a little more effort than a basic boxed mix.  I’ve included both recipes for you. The resulting color is very pale pink and lovely. Since I was taking this to a wedding, you only get photos of the outside.

The cake mix variety I turned into cupcakes to taste test before the wedding and thought I’d share a very important tip with you. Do not frost cupcakes when they are still warm. Do. Not. Do. Not! It does not matter how good you are at frosting techniques, you will fail if the cupcakes are even a little bit still warm. Blame it on the delicious smell, I couldn’t wait. I wanted to try them! I used a new crusting buttercream frosting, added the pressed out strawberry solids from the cake instead of the water called for & adjusted with powdered sugar to get the right consistency. It tasted like strawberry ice cream. Delicious. You can just add the pressed strawberry solids to your favorite buttercream (or cream cheese) frosting. Pat them dry first though, moisture and frosting don’t go well together. Warm cupcakes and frosting don’t go together either. See?

Strawberry Dream Cake
a Bakerlady Original

1 box of white (or vanilla, french vanilla) cake mix
3 cups frozen whole strawberries
eggs & oil called for on back of boxed mix
1/2 cup of whole milk

1. Transfer strawberries to bowl, cover, and microwave until strawberries are soft and have released their juice, about 5 minutes. Place in fine-mesh strainer set over small saucepan. Firmly press fruit dry (juice should measure at least 1 cup); reserve strawberry solids. Bring juice to boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until syrupy and reduced to 1/2 cup, 6 to 8 minutes. Whisk milk into juice until combined.
2. Prepare cake mix as directed on box. Substitute milk and strawberry mixture for water called for. The boxed mix I used called for 1 cup of water. So I used 1/2 cup strawberry puree and 1/2 cup of milk. Adjust these amounts based on your box mix directions. Bake according to box directions and size of pan you’re using.
3. Top with your favorite buttercream (or cream cheese) frosting – add the reserved strawberry solids after patting them dry for an extra burst of strawberry.

Strawberry Dream Cake
from America’s Test Kitchen

  • 10 ounces frozen whole strawberries (2 cups)
  • 3/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 6 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups (9 ounces) cake flour
  • 1 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened

Instructions

1. For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, line bottoms with parchment, grease parchment, and flour.
2. Transfer strawberries to bowl, cover, and microwave until strawberries are soft and have released their juice, about 5 minutes. Place in fine-mesh strainer set over small saucepan. Firmly press fruit dry (juice should measure at least 3/4 cup); reserve strawberry solids. Bring juice to boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until syrupy and reduced to 1/4 cup, 6 to 8 minutes. Whisk milk into juice until combined.
3. Whisk strawberry milk, egg whites, and vanilla in bowl. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed until combined. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, and mix until only pea-size pieces remain, about 1 minute. Add half of milk mixture, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to medium-low, add remaining milk mixture, and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Give batter final stir by hand.
4. Scrape equal amounts of batter into prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking. Cool cakes in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans, discarding parchment, and cool completely, about 2 hours. (Cooled cakes can be wrapped with plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.)

“Bethany” Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes

For those of you who don’t know, occasionally I make a recipe that’s specifically for a very special person in my life. I name the recipe after them and someday when I have my own little shop, I plan to feature all my ode to friendship items. I’ll be surrounded by the baked versions of all the people I love. It will be awesome! Today’s friend is Bethany. More about her later.

These cupcakes are the best thing I’ve ever made. They are glorious. Incredible. You will need to close your eyes and breathe deeply upon first bite. They are a taste explosion. The reason I made this delicious treat is kind of a bummer. My best friend Bethany moved to Maui today. I dropped her at the airport this morning and we both bawled our eyes out. Very sad for me because I adore her. I’m trying to look on the bright side and remember that I have a new vacation destination with an extra bed, and that Bethany will be shipping me bottles of pineapple wine. But right now I just miss her terribly. Her birthday is in a couple of days so I had a pre-leaving-birthday-dinner for her and served up her favorite craving.

Bethany is the sweetest, most generous person I have ever met. We’ve been friends for eleven years and I cannot imagine my life without her. She is beyond amazing. Kind of like this cupcake. Rich chocolate cake with the perfect texture topped with fluffy salted caramel buttercream and a drizzle of fresh salted caramel sauce. I like to think of the salty kick as the hidden depths of Bethany’s character. You think you know her as this quiet, sweet woman – then you really get to know her and she’s full of spunk, stubbornness (in a good way) and sass.

The caramel sauce is the kicker in this recipe. The salty takes the edge off all that sweet decadence making each bite just perfect. There’s no caramel in the cake, but the method of melting the butter before beating it gives a little hint of nutty flavor to the chocolate. It’s halfway to a browned butter flavor and gives an excellent depth to the cake. But the caramel. Oh, the caramel. It would be fabulous on ice cream, drizzled over your favorite coffee drink or just be like me and gobble it up with a spoon. All by itself. Yup. That’s how I roll.

Print Recipe for Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes
from The Brown Eyed Baker

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon hot water
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 & 2/3 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¾ cup sour cream

Salted Caramel Frosting
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup salted caramel sauce (recipe below – can be made ahead of time)
4 cups powdered sugar

To Garnish:
Salted Caramel Sauce
Fleur de Sel (or other flaky sea salt)

1. Make the Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard-size muffin pans with paper liners.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and hot water until smooth. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

3. Combine the butter and sugar in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is smooth, and the butter is completely melted. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium-low speed until the mixture is cool, about 4 to 5 minutes.

4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla and then the cocoa mixture, beating until smooth.

5. Reduce the mixer speed to low, and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix each addition until just incorporated.

6. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners, filling each about two-thirds full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

7. Make the Frosting: Beat together the butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed for 5 minutes (I like to use the whisk attachment for my KitchenAid stand mixer, but it’s not necessary). Pour in the salted caramel and beat until combined. Reduce the speed to medium-low and slowly add the powdered sugar, a little at a time, until it has all been incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for an additional two to three minutes, until light and fluffy.

8. To finish, pipe frosting onto the top of each cupcake (or use an offset spatula to spread the frosting), drizzle with some additional salted caramel sauce, and sprinkle with a pinch of fleur de sel.

Salted Caramel Sauce
Yield: 2 cups of sauce
Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cook Time: 15 minutes

2 cups granulated sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1 tablespoon fleur de sel (or any other flaky sea salt)

1. Add the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a heavy saucepan, with a capacity of at least 2 or 3 quarts. Heat the sugar over medium-high heat, whisking it as it begins to melt. You’ll see that the sugar will begin to form clumps, but that’s okay. Just keep whisking and as it continues to cook, they will melt back down.   Stop whisking once all of the sugar has melted, and swirl the pan occasionally while the sugar cooks.

2. Continue cooking until the sugar has reached a deep amber color. It should look almost a reddish-brown, and have a slight toasted aroma. This is the point where caramel can go from perfect to burnt in a matter of seconds, so keep a close eye. If you are using an instant-read thermometer, cook the sugar until it reaches 350 degrees F.

3. As soon as the caramel reaches 350 degrees, add the butter all at once. Be careful, as the caramel will bubble up when the butter is added. Whisk the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted.

4. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour the cream into the caramel. Again, be careful because the mixture will once again bubble up ferociously. Whisk until all of the cream has been incorporated and you have a smooth sauce. Add the fleur de sel and whisk to incorporate.

5. Set the sauce aside to cool for 10 to 15 minutes and then pour into your favorite glass jar and let cool to room temperature. You can refrigerate the sauce for up to 2 weeks. You’ll want to warm the sauce up before using.

Perfect Every Time Sugar Cookies

I started a cake decorating class this week. Can I just say (while doing a little dance) “woo-hoo!”.  I’m incredibly excited. Can’t wait to practice new techniques and learn how to make lots of beautiful things. For the first class, I had to bring blank canvases. Which, in a decorating class equals round unfrosted sugar cookies. Everybody needs a great rolled/cut out sugar cookie recipe. It’s perfect for any occasion.

This dough will not spread or bubble. It will stay exactly as you cut it. Just right for making angels and trees during Christmas, pumpkins and ghosts at Halloween, hearts for Valentine’s Day, shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day, stars for 4th of July…you get the picture. A good sugar cookie is buttery and rich. The perfect bed for sweet light buttercream frosting. My favorite is included below.
Perfect Every Time Sugar Cookies - Bakerlady

Look how perfectly these bake. Each one just right. Light and crisp exterior with a soft buttery inside.

I know, the round cookies are pretty boring, but the recipe is so perfect, I had to share it. I didn’t have any dough sticking anywhere when making them. No frustrating perfect circle turned into a blob of cookie. Just easily rolled out exact shapes that stay how you cut them.

Perfect Every Time Sugar Cookies
from Rumbly in my Tumbly

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Directions

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
2-3 tbsp heavy cream

Directions

1. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter on medium-high speed for about 2-3 minutes. Add vanilla extract and continue to beat until light and fluffy. Slowly beat in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time until fully incorporated. Add salt. Beat for an additional 1-2 minutes until smooth. Add heavy cream, 1 tbsp at a time. Continue to beat on medium-high speed for another 1-2 minutes until desired consistency as been met. Add food coloring if desired.

Apple Oatmeal Cookies With Brown Butter Frosting

I’m pretty conflicted about sharing this recipe. On the one hand, the cookies taste delicious. They are kind of like an apple crisp cookie. They have chewy oats and sweet apples with a hint of cinnamon. Delightful. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure the recipe was missing a key step. Chilling the dough. My cookies spread all over the pan and were very flat. I recently got a new (giant) baking sheet, and fit all but about three cookies in one batch. So I got a bunch of flat flat cookies.

When they came out of the oven I got pretty irritated. I had to smoosh the cookies back towards the middle after removing them from the oven to get them mildly presentable. I don’t really want to admit this recipe failed, and blogging it means that I have to fess up. I hate with a passion when a recipe does not turn out. I feel like I’ve wasted my time, energy and ingredients. Rgh. Annoying. I’m sure you’ve all had this experience. Which is why I’m sharing. Sometimes, baking doesn’t produce what you are expecting. At times like these, you shouldn’t throw your pans out and start claiming you are “not a baker”. No. Just blame the recipe. Seriously. Many times, you are just missing a step. Like in this case, I think the dough should have been chilled. The taste was excellent so I’ll try making these again, this time with some fridge time for the dough. The resulting things on my pan just were not really very appetizing without some chilling. This is after I’d smooshed them back in.

Here’s the tricky thing. Because these cookies have a brown butter frosting (which is amazing), I can pretty well cover the shortcomings of this recipe. Just slap some frosting on and everything looks great. I suppose I could have just shared the photo below and told you these turned out great.

Brown butter frosting covers a multitude of sins. In addition to tasting incredible, it turned these lumps of misshapen cookie dough into beautiful(ish) looking delights. See? I could have just showed you this, and you’d never have been the wiser.

But that wouldn’t be very nice. Then when your cookies spread (just like mine did) you might think you’d done something wrong. I’m just keepin’ it real here. You will never get a recipe from me that looks good but secretly didn’t actually turn out. Everyone has baking failures. All of us. It happens. So, I’m not going to pretend they don’t. Go ahead and make these cookies, but be sure you chill your dough before scooping it onto the pan. Otherwise, you’ll have to spend a whole lot of time reforming them as they are cooling to get anything close to resembling this.

Apple Oatmeal Cookies with Brown Butter Frosting
from Lauren’s Latest

1/2 cup butter, softened
6 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup all purpose flour + 1 tablespoon
1 cup quick cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup peeled, diced apple

for the frosting:
1/4 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tablespoon milk {approximately}
cinnamon, for garnish if desired

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with silicone baking mat or parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Stir in egg and vanilla. Slowly incorporate all dry ingredients. Stir in oats and apples.  Chill for 30 minutes.

Scoop onto prepared sheet (I used a melon baller) and bake 10-12  minutes or until the edges are golden.

While cookies are baking, place 1/4 cup butter into small saucepan. With heat on medium, melt and brown the butter. Once the butter is a medium brown/amber color remove from heat and pour into a small bowl. Beat in powdered sugar and enough milk to get a spreadable consistency.

Frost warm cookies and sprinkle with more cinnamon, if desired. Serve.

Monkey Bites

No monkeys were harmed in the making of this dessert. I guess it’s called monkey bites because it has bananas in it, but really it should be called moist-delicious-awesomeness-banana-bites. Yeah, I guess Monkey Bites rolls off the tongue a little easier. I prefer my baked goods as ladies, not gentlemen. As in, no nuts. But if you dig a little crunch in your sweet soft bread, feel free to add some walnuts to these babies.
Gorgeous bite sized squares have all the goodness of warm banana bread, topped with a layer of brown butter frosting. Oh yeah. I said brown butter. You can’t go wrong there.

Since these made in a jelly roll pan, be sure you’ve got somewhere to bring them/ other people to help you devour them. Otherwise, I guarantee you’ll take down the pan yourself…and then you’ll be mad at me. We can’t have that.

I originally cut these into bars, but then cut the bars in half because they were so delightfully soft and delicate that they needed to be a bit smaller. Perfect for a little nosh.

These morsels of banana heaven were amazing warm out of the oven, and equally good after they’d cooled. I’ll admit…the bite size made me feel a lot less guilty about having one every time I passed by the pan.

Monkey Bites
adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 ¾ cups (3 or 4) ripe bananas, mashed
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour 10×15 jelly roll pan. Beat first four ingredients until creamy. Blend in bananas and vanilla one minute. Add dry ingredients and blend one minute. Stir in nuts and spread in pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown. Cool and frost with Browned Butter Frosting (recipe below).

Banana bread option: instead of spreading into jelly roll pan, this recipe will make about two regular loaves of banana bread, or about four small loaves. Regular loaves bake about 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Small loaves will bake about 25 minutes on 350.

Browned Butter Frosting

½ cup butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
about 3 tablespoons milk or half and half

Heat butter in saucepan over medium heat past the melting point until it boiling, and a delicate brown. Remove from the heat and immediately add the remaining ingredients. This should be thicker than a glaze and thinner than frosting. Using a spatula smooth over the top of the Monkey Squares immediately. The frosting will be easier to spread once it’s on the warm bread.

Best Buttercream Ever

For her birthday this year, my sweet daughter wanted a Rapunzel cake. She’s obsessed with the movie Tangled and her 5th birthday party was a reflection of that. I used this buttercream for her cake as well as my sons Cars birthday cake. It is very easy to work with, holds up when piping it on the cake and tastes delicious. [Read more…]

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