Posts filed under: ‘Cupcakes‘
This guy always steals my heart. This is the third birthday cake I’ve make for Braydon. He always challenges my skills with his requests. Raven from Teen Titans GO! this year and a peek back on the birthdays before. We’ll see what he thinks up in the years to come. Happy Birthday Braydon!
Add a comment January 26, 2015
This week has been crazy! Actually the last 2 weeks with multiple performances at the Symphony back to back.The last fortnight ended with a big birthday bash for a board member and extraordinary patron of the Arts who turned 95!!!
Check out the pics on TimesUnion.com. THATS MY CAKE!
And to come– a tutorial on how to make the white chocolate planks seen on the side of the cake.
Add a comment December 16, 2013
Anyone who follows this blog with any regularity can see some strange changes in terms of appearance. So I ask your patience in baring with me while I revamp The Cake Eccentric with new design and a better layout! Meanwhile if you live in the capital region and want to learn how to cake decorate with me sign up for my upcoming classes at Hobby Lobby in Latham! This month they are 55% off!
Tuesdays (starting August 6th) 6pm-8pm
Basic Cake Decorating
Wednesdays (start August 7th) 6pm-8pm
Flowers and Cake Design
Classes are 4 weeks long and meet once each week on their designated Day. Class supplies list given upon reciept of registration. Go to HobbyLobby.com for a full schedule of upcoming classes.
Ohh and here are some pics from a wedding cake this weekend:
Add a comment July 29, 2013
I’ve been dreaming about making French Macarons for over a year now. I get excited everytime I spot a picture of the colorful delicate sandwich cookie on pinterest or in one of my cookbooks, especially I Heart Macarons by Hisako Ogita.
Or when I got to work with the owner of Laduree at Jazz at Lincoln Center as we scrambled to find refridgerator space for the hundreds of Macaron filled gift boxes for a wedding. Or whenever I felt fancy enough to part with $15 or so dollars and saunter down to Bouchon at the Shops of Columbus Circle and and dive into 2 or more (their Macarons are huge) crunchy, gooey cookies.
I truly heart Macarons…except when it came to my prowess in executing them in my own kitchen. They delicate cookie can be an absolute Bear to make. Anyone whose made anything containing stiffened egg whites has probably had a few faux pas in the kitchen. I wasted and ruined more than a dozen egg whites and pounds of butter when I first endeavoured to make Swiss Merignue buttercream Frosting. And I won’t get back those hours of standing over a double boiler whipping egg whites and sugar to 200+ degrees only to find an hour later once 2 pounds of butter had been warmed to room temp and sliced and slowly incorporated that the thin and goopey syrup I rendered would never be the light whipped delicious frosting I’d intended. BUT I presevered and experimented and found that Italian Meringue Buttercream took slightly less time, less arm work and eventually I figured out just how to nail everytime.
Macarons apparently need the same finesse at least in my kitchen so after 3 attempts that resulted in the same milky goo and not a thick Macaronage (the proper name of perfectly mixed batter) I was PISSED!! Macarons are delicious beacause they are delicate with a smooth crunchy surface and a gooey center– not to mention the endless possiblities for filling, but the process is just a “delicate”. By that I mean Preparing them can be as finiky as working with a total diva celebrity even after I thought I could eye ball any meringue. So I poured over the internet on blog posts, youtube videos and tried to no avail to make the recipes in I heart Macarons work.
The anatomy of a macaron: domed, but not too rounded top, a smooth surface with a bit of sheen, no wrinkles or grease marks or cracks. The bottom of the cookie has a “pied” or foot. Its distinct and only perfectly made Macs have them. Heat, humidy and general weather conditions can mess your mac up big time…all that said they are worth the trouble.
After research heres the recipe I combined that ended up working for me:
3/4 c Almond flour– It cost like $12/ pound and you can make your own by grinding slivered (and peeled) almonds in a food processor
1 c powdered sugar– make sure its simply sugar, and does not contain corn starch– WHOLE FOODS powdered sugar does– there is just no reason for that
2 egg whites
5 tbsp granulated
2 tbsp water
First pre-heat your oven to 325. I like to get mine going early because it takes forever to adequately preheat. I’ve also met chefs who insist the success of macarons depends on the oven. Some people insist on preheating the oven for a full hour. Everyone’s oven is wildly different from the next so I’d say make sure its adequately preheated.
Sift almond Flour with a strainer Twice! Make sure to measure that you still have 3/4 cup! Sift powedered sugar– mostly to break up lumps, again measure your quantity after its sifted. Stir to combine. Set aside.
Begin to whip egg whites NOW: egg whites are “easier” to separate when they are cold. Most recipes I’ve read and researched insist the egg whites be 1. days old, and 2. room temperature.– Both conditions make for quick and easy whipping. I agree with all these statements but I let the eggs sit out for about 20-30 minutes before I started whipping and everything worked out just fine.
Heat granulated sugar and water to reach 235 degrees F. Soft ball stage. Typcially I do so in a pan on the stove but I opted this time to go for the microwave. Again everyone microwave is different if you go this route. I’d start with a minute and stir to make sure the water and sugar is combined. Then heat for 3-4 minutes. Check the temp and don’t over cook– once your sugar surpasses the soft ball stage a whole other chemical reaction will take place and letting it cool will not get the consistency back you are looking for.
Meanwhile start whipping your egg whites. When they reach a soft peak stage pour hot sugar in, in a slow steady stream. Continue to whip until the batter is cool and is at the stiff peak stage! It is essential the egg whites are properly whipped as if they are too soft they cannot support the almond flour. I find egg whites, espceially cool egg whites can take 8-10 minutes to reach the stiff glossy peaks. Older egg whites whip in about 4 minutes. If you choose to dye your cookies add the food coloring : gel or powder, right at the end.
Pour in about 1/2 of the flour mixture and delicately fold FOLD together. Folding means you preserve the air in the egg white and if you stir in a circular fashion all bets are off.
At this point I find that scooping the egg white mixture into the flour bowl and remaining flour is best because with only 2 egg whites whipping some of the sugar syrup sticks to the side of the bowl and you don’t want hardened sugar in the batter. Again delicately fold the mixture. I heart Macarons mentions Macaronage and Macaroner as methods of stirring intregal to making the perfect batter– but each time I interpretted the directions I always over mixed the batter and ended up with slop. Fold until just combined.
Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat non stick sheet. For the most round and uniform macarons scope the batter into a large 14″-16″ pastry bag. I find a large circular tip is great. for smaller macarons use a #12 tip. Pipe onto the baking sheet. A great tip is to actual stack 2 baking sheets on snuggly on top of the other. This prevents overcooking– it works for cake too! If you are worried your cake will burn on the bottom set it on a baking sheet. The extra insulation prevents burning.
Right before you place your macs in the oven turn the temperature down to 300 degrees. about 8 minutes in, spin the baking sheet around so that all cookies cook evenly. I also recommend placing your baking sheet in the bottom 3rd of your oven. After 12 -16 minutes they should be perfect. remove from the oven and Cool. eat as they are or fill with buttercream, ganache jam whatever tickles your fancy.
1 comment January 31, 2013
Read all about my trip to North Carolina for my firned Chrissy’s wedding, and the wedding cake I made for them, which will be hence for known as Cupcake Mountain.
Add a comment November 28, 2012
On one of out first dates, my “boyfriend” and I travelled to Little Italy in the Bronx, dining on eggplant parmigiana and cannolis. Years later one of the best date nights I have had with my “boyfriend” was the night we went to Babbo. An Italian restaurant on the lower East Side owned by Mr. Mario Batali.
After a night of grilled octupus, prosciutto, quail, and lamb chops, we finished with a delightful bevvy of desserts. And we nearly fell off our chairs when I tried to refill my own glass of wine… and the wait staff dove over to replenish. I guess we are are not as accustom to fine dining as I’d like to think. We spent a generous gift certificate on our dinner given to me by my dear friends Scott and Mel, an unexpected gift for the wedding cake I had made for them a year before.
Fitting…a wedding cake… as my “boyfriend” is no longer. Philip is now my fiance!!
On Christmas Day Phil, and I ventured from my parents house where we had spent a low key Christmas Eve having dinner with family, to his parents’ house 30 miles north. When my parents mentioned they’d be stopping up for dinner that night, I was a little suspicious. I know, after years of traveling all over upstate New York for the Holidays when I was a kid, nothing makes them happier than to staying home, vegging a little, and eating left overs on Christmas Day. I had even mentioned to my best friend from kindergarten that I had an inclination that an engagement was around the corner, perhaps days away. Sarah, is still my only witness that I knew it was about to happen.
At some point after dinner, my parents arrived. We dined –appropriately enough on ziti, italian sausages, mozzarella, and peppers. When, as I sat back down at the dinner table Phil, walked in with a huge wrapped box. He slid it across the floor when I notice there were a few purposeful holes punched in the top of the box. Considering both my cat and dog were wayward strays until we crossed paths– Phil and I are in need of another pet like a hole in the head. I was so caught off guard with the prospect of a puppy or kitten I completely forgot that I believed an engagement ring was in my future.
“What is this?!? There are holes in this box?!?!” I kept repeating. I opened the box to realize hanging beneath the top was a large printed sign “HERES YOUR PET ROCK!!” it said. Tied to the bottom of the sign was a diamond ring. His grandmother’s ring. In smaller letters, the sign read “Ella Kathleen Golding, Will You Marry Me?” When I realized what was written on the paper all the family and friends, his and mine disappeared, and suddenly there was only me and him. He was on his knee. “Will you? Will you Marry Me?”
I considered no other answer.
We went out for a drink that night to the only open bar we could find and started making a guest list and writing down our ideas. We’ve talked about our wedding a million times before, but now. Now it was real, in the present, happening. I couldn’t stop thinking of our engagment over and over for the next few days.
Since then we’ve set a date and booked a space and have started to venture toward the great test of –not get married, but surviving PLANNING a wedding!! hahaha!! and NO! I will not be making my own cake….BUT I’ll have plenty to say about shopping for one!
That was my big New Year’s news! And for me at least, BIG it was!! For my soon to be Italian (and Scottish) husband, Mario Batali’s Cannolis. In honor of our first dates and all the dates that will come.
From Mario Batali’s Cannolis from Food Network.com
So before making these I checked the reviews of the recipe. They weren’t so stellar–so I made a few suggested edits to the recipe, as notated and have to say these came out WONDERFULLY.
First things first you will need some type of cannoli mold. You can buy metal tubes, or like me cut an extra large cake dowel (approximately an inch in diameter) into 4″ pieces. I used this dowel as part of the legs of my last cake(pictures below), and as I’ve read using a broom handle is perfectly accetable for a cannoli mold. Wooden molds do have a shorter shelf life since they get so infused with oil in the frying process.
The next prep step is to drain your riccotta cheese using a cheese cloth. Its not listed in the directions but its a good idea based on the reviews. Wrap in 1 lb. Ricotta cheese in cheese cloth. I placed my cheese on a grease guard screen you’d place over a frying pan. This was suspended over a plate to catch the drippings. I placed another plate ontop and let it sit in the fridge. I actually put a 1/2 gallon of milk on top to help the cheese drain faster.
2 c flour
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp cocoa
2 tbsp cold butter
6 tbsp marsala wine ( i ended up using 8 tbsp)
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl, cut butter into dry ingredients using 2 knives…I used my pastry mixer like i would for a pie crust. Add marsala and mix to form dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refridgerate.
For the filling
1 lb ricotta cheese (I used part skim–cows milk, sheep’s milk was suggested)
1/2 c super fine sugar
4tbsp grated orange peel ( !!! Thats alot suggested!! I grated one whole orange and didn’t measure– it was plenty)
1/2c mini chocolate chips
1/3 cup lemon juice (!!!I used 1 tsp!!! 1/3 c will ruin your filling!)
Combine all ingredients for the filling thoroughly. If you don’t have super fine sugar (also called castor sugar) or don’t want to spend the cash on it, Take granulated sugar and grind it in your blender for a a few seconds–its the same as store bought.
1 egg white, lightly whisked for sealing the dough for frying
2 qt vegetable oil for frying
Powdered Sugar for dusting
Roll out dough to approximately 1/16 of an inch thin (my dough was definetly thicker). Cut with a 4″ circular cutter or with a knife. Wrap around cannoli mold and affix edges overlapping with egg white. Press firmly to ensure dough will not unwrap while frying.
Working in small batches carefullly set cannoli molds into a deep frying pan. Oil should be heated to 360 -375 degrees before cannolis are dropped in. When golden brown evenly, remove and let shells drain and dry. To Remove mold twist as you gently pull away from the shell.
Fill shells using a pastry bag with an open tip. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and Mange!!!
Heres to a very happy life with my sweetie!
2 comments February 2, 2012
I’m about a week late in terms of discussing this, but how about New York passing gay marriage?!! I’m very proud all New Yorkers are included in the celebration of marriage. And as I joked with some friends… Its also good for business! ha! Its a perfect topic to touch on as I put up some pictures of a little cake I did for 2 friends last week.
Peter and Kikki are big cake fans, always giving me a challenge when it comes to their kids birthday cakes, and they recently held a birthday/ anniversary celebration. They are both share the same birthday–hows that for soulmates?! and had a little party which also included their 15th wedding anniversary. Turns out, being as non traditioanl as they are that they never in fact had a wedding cake. They opted for strawberry rhubarb pie instead.
I figured 15 years together definetly needs to be celebrated with a big old cake, so I choose to do a baby blue frosting– which was the color of Kikki’s wedding dress–I said “non traditional” and do a strawberry rhubarb filling to reflect their first day as man and wife. With yellow cake and Italian merignue frosting– it was out of this world delicious– and still pretty simple as far as flavor profiles goes.
2 comments July 1, 2011
I say old school, because if you are anything like me I’m sure you recall the kids whose parent made a big deal out of their birthday and sent in tons of cupcakes into school on their special day for the whole class. Growing up in my little town this meant white cupcakes slathered in loads of super fluffy white frosting from Schuyler Bakery, and if you happened to the birthday guy or gal– your cupcake was particularly huge and piped with a giant pink or blue rose. the only other thing as good as having a giant bakery-made cupcake in front of you was if your mom make you these:
I was always jealous of the kid whose mom sent him in to school with none other than cupcakes in a cone– the very best of both worlds–cake, that looks like ice cream. Flavor and execution. Obviously my long harbored jealousies have thrust me into my current cake obsessed life. To be honest I think I tried to make these once in junior high and the tray of uncook cupcake cones toppled in the piping hot oven and I never tried to figure it out again… until today. See this weekend I’m missing out on another birthday tradition– My little lady friend Aela, has just turned 7, officially yesterday, but the party is this weekend. And for the first time in 4? 5 years?… Well I was there when she first made her worldly debut– and for the first time ever, I won’t be showing up with a crazy cake in hand ready to steal the birthday girl’s thunder…Perhaps that a good thing.
All the same Aela is one of the various inspirations for this site so I feel pretty down not celebrating yet another caketastic birthday. So here is Martha Stewart’s recipe for Strawberry Cupcakes from her book Cupcakes, with the baking variation of making them into ice cream cones.
2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 c cake flour (I totally skipped this and just used all purpose)
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/4 c sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 egss, + 1 egg white
1 c milk
2 c fresh chopped strawberries** (I blended mine to a fine puree in hopes of achieving a really pink cupcake. Chunks or puree its up to you)
Start by creaming the butter and sugar. Add one egg at a time, mixing thoroughly after each egg. Add vanilla.
Sift in flour, alternating with additions of milk.
Fold in chopped strawberries or puree and pour in.
If you are really hoping for a very pink color you will need to add food coloring as strawberries tend to fade especially after they’re cooked. Or just leave ’em be.
I used a mini cupcake tray and the regular size waffle cones fit perfectly snug in the tray.
Y0u can of course – do it the old fashioned way. Adding the frosting of your choice (Strawberry buttercream below)
Or Dark Chocolate Frosting with sprinkles.
Couldn’t resist the temptation!
3 comments April 2, 2011
Not too long ago my boyfriend’s neice Trinity celebrated her 4th birthday. This family takes cake very seriously which is why I love them sooo much. For the small family party Trintiy’s mom and grandma spent a long night making a Tangled themed rapunzel castle cake. A very impressive endeavour, considering all the wacky cake wrecks I made before taking a hobby class on decorating– and Trinity’s Mom and Grandma have never taken a class!
Cupcakes were the project for later that night as a birthday party with friends was set for Sunday, and the Tangled cake was all but devoured by family. Ann clued me in to a family recipe for fluffy frosting which she planned to decorate cupcakes with. To my shock it actually contains flour. Weird right! And by the way contains no marshmellow fluff.
Its pretty easy to make especially verses my (favorite) but labor intensive swiss merignue butter cream, but to be honest this won’t be replacing buttercream for me, definelty worth a try.
1 c milk
1/3 c flour
1 c sugar
1 cup shortening –yeah I know I hate shortening!! So opt for 1/2 c shortening, 1/2 c butter
1 tsp vanilla
The milk and flour will become thick and creamy. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Meahwhile cream sugar and butter/ shortening together. Once your flour mixture has cooled down add it to the your sugar and butter and beat on medium/ high.
A word to the wise, this frosting doesn’t harden or dry, its always kind of gooey. But its good and not too sweet. In fact I’m currently writing from a computer in a class I’m taking on social networking. It seems I’m a little ahead of the curve already having an established blog, but I’ve got a thing or two to learn about all the crazy ways to utilize the many social networks.
So tonight I wrote this post from class and debuted this frosting on cupcakes I’ve made for class…
You can see how mushy the frosting is as my cupcake toppers slide off! But…its good!!
2 comments March 9, 2011
So its been awhile!! I should mention first and foremost Aunt Penny is doing well. It was a little rough to be honest in the beginning but her spirits are high and things are good on the road to recovery. I saw her last week in the hospital and she said she couldn’t wait to read the blog again soon and was so thankful for everyone’s wishes of good health. So from Aunt Penny and Me thanks you for stopping in and thinking of her in the last few weeks, and sending all that good energy.
I’m finally starting to fit into a groove at my new job. This is a pretty big transition for me consider I’d been working full time at my last job almost 9 years. Its crazy when I think of where the time went?!
I started working at the Performing Arts Center as a college student, when the campus was in fact my home, and given the sheer time committment my job at the PAC required, my emotional investment was great. I’ve been thinkng of all the great experiences and people I’ve come across in the years I spent there. The growing I’ve done, both good and difficult. One of the biggest parts or perks of the job was all the great performances.
Just last year The Performing Arts Center became the set of Black Swan. Lincoln Center gets top billing of course, but truly every scene in the dressing rooms, backstage, on stage and the rehearsal areas in the film was shot at the Performing Arts Center. Yes I saw (Academy Award winner!!!!) Natalie Portman, and Mila Kunis around the “dungeon” as all the PAC staff affectionately call the backstage areas where the offices are. Can’t say I really had much interaction with actors, lets be honest I just took advantage of Craft Food Services, but nonetheless its a cool thing to have been around for.
One of my favorite performances was watching Savion Glover, tap dance, or hoof as its called, the several times he’s taken the stage at the PAC. It has always been an inspiration to the part of me that spent so many years studying tap dancing as a kid.
I’ve seen groups like The B-52’s, Joshua Bell, Matisyahu, Chuck Berry, The Righteous Brothers, Regina Spector, and the Legend James Brown. And comedians like Kathy Griffin and George Carlin. I’ve gotten to experiences some world class entertainment!!!
One of my favorite memories is of a young concert pianist by the name of Lang Lang (pronounced Long Long) who has performed many times at the Performing Arts Center. Lang Lang is kind of a rockstar in his own right. Hes in his 20’s, wears leather jackets, and pattened leather sneakers when he performs, so I think he’s trying to at least be himself, and both old and young people are always in attendance. Hes also a total prodigy and a completely rare talent and has been playing since he was 3 years old. And if you still don’t know who I’m talking about– he was part of the opening ceremony of the summer Olympics last year. OHhhhh that guy…
As time passes and my memories become more rose colored, I will still always recall how just about anything in theater can go wrong at the last minute. Its actually one of the things I liked best about my former job– having to problem solve at the last possible second. Un/fortunately for me I’m pretty good at finding a remedy for a last minute crisis, and putting out fires and its taxing to say the least– always operating on full throttle but totally rewarding.
On more than one occasion I’ve found myself inside the theatre while Lang Lang was rehearsing. The first time, I went in for a standard walk through of the theatre a few hours before the show. I walked across the back of the first balcony as he rehearsed. I didn’t know if it was Mozart or Beethoven. But it didn’t matter, I took a couple moments to enjoy my secret concert.
The last night Lang Lang performed there was lots of chaos. Between ticketing issues, technical issues, and lots of important people in the building, my staff and I were running all over the place. Just as we were about to open the theatre to begin seating for the show, I stepped inside. I was one of the few people inside the big Concert Hall. It seats more then 1300 people. I quietly moved inside towards the seats, the door shut behind me and all the noise and choas of people waiting to get in became quieter and quieter. As I stepped into the seats the melodic sounds of the solo piano grew. Lang Lang was warming up, and I was the only person in the audience.
This moment didn’t last for more than a few minutes as my staff began to take their positions at the doors inside, but for a moment, a moment, a brief moment of zen, I sat captive in my last private concert, given by Lang Lang at the Performing Arts Center.
In reverence to the phase of my life that have ended and all the great things I learned, and to all the great things in the future….
Zen Green Tea Cupcakes
This recipe is from my favorite (often referenced) cupcake cookbook: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World! by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero.
I’ve made many different versions of green tea cupcakes and these take the cake (pun intended). They are always super moist and fluffy. And I think Oscar winner Natalie Portman would also appreciate the lack of diary and eggs.
You will need:
1/2 c soy yogurt
2/3 c rice milk ( I’ve used regular yogurt and buttermilk if you aren’t concerned about keeping these cruelty free)
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/3 c canola oil
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/4 c all purposed (unbleached) flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3-4 tsp matcha green tea powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c granulated sugar
Green tea powder can be a little hard to find. I’ve found it near the cafe section of Whole Foods. Its what they use to make those yummy green tea fraps at Starbucks. Its a little pricey, but let me mention its about $10 for a few ounces. I’ve been to culinary fairs and festivals where its sold at $100 for a few ounces!!! So if you find yourself shopping online, don’t break the bank.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a separate bowl mix wet ingredients (obviously sugar doesn’t count this time) whisk soy milk and yogurt, vanilla, oil and almond extract until smooth. Sift in flour, baking soda and powder, matcha green tea powder, salt and sugar. I recommend using only 3 tsp of matcha powder, unless you really love the flavor. Its great in more mild amounts, too much?? taste like sea weed if you ask me. Mix until smooth.
Vegan Cupcake Take Over the World recommends a Matcha Green Tea Glaze, but this time around I flavored a couple cups of Swiss Merignue ButterCream with a tsp of Rose Water, and 1/2 tsp of blackberry extract I found at specialty culinary store. A little burgundy food coloring made for a beautiful and exquisite flavor profile.
3 comments March 7, 2011