Archive for December 2009

Buck Eyes

Before I announce the give away winner…and post a new video blog…and a second give away just in time for christmas I figured my favorite christmas recipe needed to be common knowledge.

This is what I think of when I think of the quentessential christmas cookie.  Maybe because it was always on the platter of assorted Holiday goodies when I was a kid.  Truth be told buckeyes are not really cookies.  More of a cross between a peanut butter cup and a truffle…and ohhh so delicious.

This is my grandmother’s recipe, she was quite the baker back in her day.  And if my childhood lessons with Nana in kitchen weren’t reason enough for me to take up cake decorating, it was most interesting to find out that my great aunt Betty, my grandmother’s sister, was a cake decorator herself.


1  1/2 c Peanut butter

1/2 c butter

1 box (14oz) Confectioner’s (10x) sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 c chocolate chips

1 tbsp crisco

Combine peanut butter, butter, vanilla and sugar.  Kneed into a dough or mix in your counter top mixer with a dough hook.  Roll dough into balls approximately 1 inch in diameter. For  best results use a small cookie dough scooper to achieve consistency in size. Chill on a cookie sheet for 30-60 minutes.

Melt chocolate and crisco (in a doubleboiler, in the microwave, or on very lower heat stirring constantly.)

Screwer doughballs with tooth picks.    Its best to pour chocolate into a drinking glass for dipping.  Holding toothpick, dip into balls into melted chocolate, about 2/3 of the way.  The “buckeye” is the yellowy center of the peanut butter peaking out.  Place each dipped buckeye into small candy cups or mini cupcake liners and chill.  These are a great addition to any holiday cookie assortment.

Or try the dipping method from the oreo truffles from a few posts past and use a plastic fork breaking the two middle tongs off. This allows you to toss the candy  in the chocolate.  I actual drew a little dot– for the buck’s eye with red chocolate just to change it up a little.


Add a comment December 22, 2009

Cake in a Jar

Now for a great Holiday idea!   I have a friend who is a wonderful illustrator and for christmas you may be lucky to receive a one of a kind sketch from him.  With that for inspiration, why not give the gift of baking?  Now you can give a big box of homemade cookies or dare I say…a fruit cake?  Or you can allow your gift recipients to bake it out for themselves…Heres what I mean.  

The red velvet recipe from the previous post fits perfectly into a jar of 4 cups.


Cake in a Jar!  I once gave a friend green tea cake in a jar as a gift which she then had to bring through security at the airport.  She got through with many compliments on what a great idea it was.  There are plenty of websites and stores that sell these premade, but if you’re anything like me, your wallet is somewhat empty as is your fridge, except for that huge pantry full of baking supplies from granulated sugar to gumpaste.  So heres how you do it:

1. Find a jar.  Either go through your recycling or you can go to Michael’s like I did…well I also work there, and grabbed one of these fancy plush holiday jars.

2. Fill with all the dry ingredients of a cake or cookie recipe, like the Scarlet Velveteen recipe below. Make sure to layer your ingredients to give some texture and achieve a striped effect.  Its best to choose a recipe that has diverse colors.  Cookie recipes are great as you get beautiful colors and textures between the brown sugar, walnuts, flour and chocolate chips.

3. Make sure to include directions to make you jarred confection, so that your gift recepient know what and how much to add of the wet ingredients.

Colorize your sugar


** For an extra cool striped effect for your Scarlet Velvet cake in a jar,  dye the sugar red.  Have you been spending your hard earned cash on fancy colored sugars? Not just the holiday blue, green, and red, but that fancy pink and neon green?  Use this trick not only to make your gift super cool, but to avoid spending cash on something you can do on your own.  To achieve colored sugar simply add a few drops of food coloring to granulated sugar in a plastic bag and shake it up.  Adding 2 TB to the 1 1/2 cups called for in the previous red velvet recipe is a little much so I recommend spreading the the sugar out on a cookie sheet to dry for a few hours.

WAIT THERES MORE!!!  IT’S TIME FOR MY FIRST GIVE AWAY!!!!  ‘Tis the season! So go ahead and comment on either this Cake in a jar post or the Scarlet velveteen and you just may receive (winners will be picked out of my santa hat) one of these great plush jars to make (and gift) your very on CAKE IN A JAR!!

7 comments December 17, 2009

Scarlet Velveteen Cake

Red Velvet Cake is pretty popular these days.  I first heard of it the first time I watch Steel Magnolias (the funniest movie to ever make you cry.) The Bleeding Armadillo Groom’s cake was so ridiculous and memorable, that it is often the very specific request of my friends when choosing their birthday cake.

I suppose with all these cake shows on TV these days Red Velvet is regularly featured and therefore very much in the vernacular of cake eaters, maker and decorators.  But where did it come from, what is it , and how can I make it? Well Red Velvet is a mildly chocolate flavored cake. Where as your typical homemade chocolate cake would be comprised of 1/3 c of unsweetened cocoa per aproximate 3-4 cups of batter, red velvet has only 2-3 tablespoons of cocao.  It gets its ruby hue from adding red food coloring.

I was a bit disappointed when I figured this out seeing as I expected something unique to be used in achieving this famously colored confection.  It turns out that historically Red Velvet was dyed red using something quiet unique in fact even if most people don’t make it this way anymore.  The Waldorf Astoria Hotel is famous for its red velvet cake and they used boiled beets to achieve the color.  My understanding is, that this was an economical way to concoct this cake during World War II when most ingredients were rationed.

I’ve been finding that both Red Velvet Recipes and Cream Cheese frosting recipes have been big searches on my site so here is one recipe for Red Velvet Cake.  I’m not sure where I got it from.  Just have had it sitting in my ever growing recipe box jotted on a piece of paper.  I assume the frequency of the search is due to the nature of this cake being perfect red addition to the dessert table during the holidays.  I’ll include a cool way to package this cake and give it away as gifts in my next post!

Scarlet Velveteen Cake

Sift together, then set aside:

2 1/2 c all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

2 Tb unsweetened Cocao

1/2 tsp salt

In a separate bowl lightly beat 2 eggs and 1 tsp vanilla.

Add 1  1/2c  sugar and  3/4 c vegetable oil .

Stir in 1 c buttermilk.  (if you don’t have buttermilk use 1 c milk with 3 tsp of apple cider vinegar.)

Add 2 tb red food coloring,Then add dry ingredients.  Mix and bake at 350 degreesfor about 15 minutes in a well grease pan.

2 comments December 16, 2009

Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream Cheese Frosting is featured on some of the most popular cakes namely Carrot Cake and Red Velvet.  I’v noticed recipes for Cream cheese frosting are routinely searched for on this blog so I figured it was high time I included one.  Its so easy to mix up and its totally hard to resist not sticking your finger in the bowl nonstop.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 block (8 oz) cream cheese at room temperature.

1 stick (1/2 c) butter

2 lbs of powdered sugar (apprx 7 1/2 c)

1 tsp clear or pure vanilla extract.

Mix cheese, butter, and vanilla till smooth then add powdered sugar. Cream cheese frosting is typically a little softer than buttercream.

Heres a couple of notes on this frosting.  First of all I’ve made this with light cream cheese before and was pleasantly surprise with my results. The consistancy is a little thinner, but whips up and is really fluffy.  I still recommend using clear vanilla to keep the color less muddy, so that should you choose to color your frosting, your more apt to achieve the color you want.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing, decorated like Snow Globes, from the Book "Hello Cupcake."

Add a comment December 15, 2009

Sugary Shout Out!

Heres a recipe that was a big hit this weekend at my theatre’s annual Holiday Reception.  And you only need 3 ingredients to make these truffles.  I found these on another wordpress blog ChocolateFool and she got the recipe from Bakerella.

The only thing I did a little differently is I used semisweet chocolate chips and not chocolate bark to coat the truffles. I did use Wilton candy melts for the white striping.  Check out both sites for different ideas on how to present these.

Grind up a whole box of oreo cookies mix with one block of cream cheese.  Make sure cream cheese is at room temperature.  Roll into balls and refridgerate.  Melt 2 cups of chocolate chips or chocolate bark and dip.  The chocolate fool recommends using a plastic fork with the center tongs broken off. It works so well I used it for the other chocolates I made.

1 comment December 15, 2009

Turkey Troop

I was recently invited to lead a cupcake project with a group of girls scouts, troop #2974.  I’ve got a super huge soft spot for the girl scouts having been one myself.  I was actually the top cookie seller in my troop, but I’m sure thats not hard to believe…and no I didn’t eat all the cookies myself!

We made a big mess, ate lots of candy and had tons of fun, and everyone had a fancy treat for their Thanksgiving tables!

I offer cupcake project classes every month at Michael’s in Pelham Manor as well as private classes for groups or parties!

Upcoming Cupcake Classes at Michael’s:

Holiday Cupcakes December 19th 1:30pm-3:30pm

Snowmen Cupcakes Saturday January 30, 1:30pm-3:30pm

1 comment December 11, 2009

The Best Pumpkin Pie Ever

Between hosting Thanksgiving and starting a new round of decorating classes this almost 2 weeks have gone by without a post!!  Speaking of classes the January schedule is out.

I found this recipe in a Martha Stewart Living magazine last year.  Since then I haven’t quite been able to locate it on her site so all the more reason to post.  It is I’ve been told my many who’ve eaten it…the best Pumpkin Pie EVER!!

Why?  Well this Pumpkin Pie recipe features one big difference, no pie crust.  Instead the crust is made from Baklava!!  And its soooo good.

One of the reasons its taken me so long to post this is that I’ve been working on an amendment to this recipe– Making miniture pumpkin bakalava pies, though I suppose that would render them tarts.  Its still a work in progress.  I was hoping for beginners luck on Thanksgiving.  They came out well enough, except that they wouldn’t come out of the baking sheet…too much sugar.  It did not, however, stop anyone on of my guest from picking up a spoon and scooping them out.

Caught red handed Itzy!

Heres the regular sized recipe

Walnut Oatmeal Streusel

3/4 c old fashioned oats

3 oz  finely chopped walnuts

7 tbsp flour

1/4 tsp salt

6 tbsp packed light brown sugar

3 tbsp unslated butter

2 tbsp honey

Preheat oven to 350.  Combine oats, walnuts, flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Melt butter in a sauce pan and whisk in honey.  Pour in oat mixture.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Spread streusel onto sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes, flipping occasionally.  Streusel will be golden brown. Let cool on a wrack.  Streusel stays good wrapped for up to 3 days.

Baklava Crust

1 c granulated sugar

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

17 sheets of phyllo

1 1/2 sticks butter melted,

Walnut Streusel

Working with phyllo dough can be a little difficult t.  Try to work fast so that the phyllo doesn’t dry out, but don’t make the mistake (like I did) by getting it wet with water…it just gets gummy. Covering what you aren’t using with a dry dish cloth can keep it from drying out.  Unroll phyllo from packaging.  Martha says to trim to the measurements of 8.5″x 13.5 ” I simply sliced off a column of phyllo about 4 inches wide and 10 inches tall.   A pastry cutter, or a pizza cutter works.

Combine sugar and cinnamon.  Brush phyllo with melted butter, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.  Add streusel to top half of phyllo.  Fold phyllo over top.  Brush with butter.  Place in pie dish.  Martha suggests folding corners beneath phyllo packet and scrunching to form a petal shape.  I simply placed mine against the edge, the ends standing a little taller than the dish.  Repeat, repeat, repeat.  The phyllo packets won’t reach the center of the dish and then out to the edge, so make sure to fill this center space with phyllo packets as well.  Martha says to weigh down the crust with a sheet of parchment paper and dried beans.  Then to cook for 10 minutes till crust is golden brown. Truth be told I totally skip this part when I make it.  But I wanted to stay true to the recipe, so you all at least have the option to skip it.

Pumpkin Filling

1 can ( 15 oz) solid packed pumpkin

1/2 c packed light brown sugar

1/4 honey

3 large eggs

1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk

1 tbsp cornstarch

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp coarse salt

1/4 tsp nutmeg ( freshly grated if you’ve got it)

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

3/4 tsp ground ginger

ground cloves

Combine all ingredients…That was easy! and pour over crust.  Bake at 350 for an hour.  Its suggested to tent the edges of crust with foil as the phyllo will brown quickly.  Let cool and serve with left over streusel and honey.

1 comment December 11, 2009

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The Cake Eccentric

Sugar, Frosting, and Fondant: an artistic exploration of Cake and other Sweets