Posts filed under: ‘ButterCream‘

Failure to Launch Part 1

Heres a great youtube video on how to make Italian Merignue Frosting– a slightly different method than Swiss Merignue.

I some how failed to post this yesterday which brings me to my choice of topics– failure!  Failure is a pretty negative word and Im not one to quit on a project so when it comes to a cake that I’m less than please with I at least try find a lesson in whatever went wrong. Whether its learning a trick  to stacking a cake better (cause the top tier toppled over in the car ride) or just delegating my time better on a project.  Below are some photos of beautiful cakes made by some culinary greats that I was inspired to recreate only to have less than stellar results, and a couple of tips on different techniques.

The cake featured above is by none other than Sylvia Wienstock. She’s been the queen of fabulous culinary works of art long before the Cake Boss picked up his first pastry bag.  She’s based out of New York City and her work is featured at every big New York Wedding there is.  She’s been called the Leonardo Da Vinci of cakes– a title you don’t just earn over night.  I used this photo as an inspiration for a cake I made this weekend for a friends birthday. Ultimately I didn’t spend enough time on this cake to render a mirror image of the photo which left me frustrated…and only escalated when the cake frosting melted everywhere in the car ride up. So here some advice on Italian or Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

Italian Meringue/ Swiss Meringue ButterCream is alot less sweet and so fluffy some people think its whipped cream frosting.  It is by far my absolute favorite frosting but there are some down sides when working with it

First– its expensive to make. 2 sticks of butter a dolop of milk or water and a bag of confectioners sugar will run you about $5 bucks and render a great simple buttercream– and you can easily cover an 8″ cake with it.  Italian or Swiss Meringue call for a 2-3 cups of sugar, 2 lbs of butter and at least dozen eggs whites only but really after all the time it takes to make this excellent frosting whose got time to use the yolks?  –Its almost double the cost of American Buttercream and it doesn’t go as far. The time you spend whipping and mixing rarely will cover and decorate more than a 8″ / 10″ cake.  Its also a little tricky to make– I’ve screwed it up and gotten soup plenty of times to know. Both under mixing and overmising can lead to a total waste of time and ingredients.

Secondly, It also doesn’t take color well. Food coloring tends to drown in the meringue, barely blushing from a scoop of color. You will eventually notice if you pipe with it, that the color comes out as the frosting heats in your hand but that completely unpredictable.  Its so soft at room temperature I tend to find that piping flowers is only easy for those who are beyond the novice stage of piping.

And it melts….and melts and melts.  In the refridgerator you’ll find the frosting binds up just like butter does, making for a firm surface to work on once your cake is frosted, and chilled, but just let that cake find its way into a warm car for delivery or sit in the sun light and you are looking are melty soupy madness in no time.  I reconmmend experimenting with this before deciding to go and whip up a batch for the next birthday party your invited to.

Why would you suffer through something so finicky?  Well because it tastes soooo good! When I was making Jamie’s Cake this weekend it was suggested to not knock myself out with a crazy design but rather bring a cake that was simple and tasted delicious.  I was pissed I had to run into the kitchen of the restaurant and try and doctor the sides of the cake I had already spent so much time on only to have to use a butter knife to try to fix my now botched cake.  And those beautiful fondant roses I made? Were now covered in frosting…. Strangely enough the cake was a hit!  I watched people lick their plates literally to get a few more tastes of the ohhh so finicky frosting.

I didn’t originally photograph this puppy out of disappointment, but found myself tagged in facebook later, so I figured why not post it– so hopefully I’m not the only one learning from my mistakes.

Add a comment May 31, 2011

Old School Strawberry Cupcakes

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.

Add your batter just to the rim. And bake at 350 degrees.

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

Moment of Zen, Green Tea Cupcakes

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

"E" for Ella, and Eccentric

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.

Fill lined baking pans 2/3 full. Bake for 18 min
utes approximately or until a tooth pick inserted comes out clean.

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

Dulce De Leche Cake

I came across this blog as I was researching a recipe for Dulce De Leche Cake.  Spork or A great blog with all sort of entrees and desserts, breakfast and appetizers.  As I was cruising around the site I realize that me and this other fine foodie have a few things in common– both dog owners, we both studied theatre in College, and we both live in NYC and know all too intimately the trials and tribulations of living (and cooking) in the city that never sleeps.

The Empire State Building, from a Manhattan Roof Top

I sometimes wonder how many New York City foodie bloggers there are out there on the internet dealing with their tiny cramped kitchens as they document all their food loving experiements.  New York is a wonderful and tough place to live.  This all of course got me thinking about what my experience has been like living and coping, and coping with living in New York.  I still think after 6 years (where did time go?) that I’m not an expert enough to write any sort of  comprhensive guide to NYC but I have some of my insights.  I probably wouldn’t have made it through that first summer sublet if it weren’t for my first roommate and a copy of NFT Not for Tourist and An Actor Prepare’s… to Live in New York City I might still be upstate.

1. If you want a decent sized apartment for you dollar– go to the North Bronx.  I’ve got a gigantic (especially by NYC standards) apartment.  2 bedroom and the price aint terrible.  Amenities: public transport to NYC and Westchester, the Bronx River, which has tons of bike paths and is quite beautiful, subways  and the metro north can get you to midtown in 30 minutes at peak hours.  Of course when your living in the North Bronx you might as well live in Albany in terms of feeling like the city.   Riverdale, Norwood and City Island are all great spots, but you can also find some good deals in Brooklyn and Queens, with a similar commute and more of a view.

2.Parking and Street Cleaning.  If you have car in the city make sure its a compact car else you will lose precious hours of your life to seaching for parking.  You’ll also need to get a grip in the street cleaning dates and times.  Most neighborhoods you are permitted to double park for the hour, hour and a half of street cleaning, but DON”T Oversleep or forget to move you car back else you will find a ticket whihc cost about the same as a surf and turf dinner.   Should you get a ticket, pay it as soon as possible else (and i know from experience) they will find you and tow away your ride.  Call 311 if you have questions about street fairs, street cleaning, subway closures.  They don’t always have an answer but ca at least point you in the right direction.

3. Make a point to do the Touristy New York City things, preferably when you first get here.  Statue of Liberty, at least one broadway play, The Met –museum or Opera, Yankee Stadium, and dare I say Magnolia.  After you’ve done the “Sex and the City” bus tour, and are feed up with hanging out in Midtown, Make your own adventure to find what will soon become your Big Apple Favorites.  I once played what I called “whatever bus comes next.”  After spending some time at the Cloisters I decided to take “what ever bus comes next.”   I was in Inwood (northern most Neighborhood in Manhattan) and decided I would use my metro card fun pass (unlimited subway/bus pass) and let the City take me where it would.  I decided I wouldn’t request a stop but rather decided to get off randomly, when someone else requested it.  I ended up walking the last leg of the New York City Marathon– Spectators route on the runners all day long from their windows, even stop to clap on the streets– what amazing support.  Then I purused through the Conservatory at Central Park, before meeting up with some friends for Indian food at a great restaurant on 108th– The Indian Cafe.  Other times I’ve snuck into the Natural History Museum, or climbed up the Shakespeare castel in Central Park, or randomly run into in Robert DeNiro in Little Italy.  The best times I’ve had were typically unplanned so, get a fun pass and go get lost.

My best friends on a downtown Manhattan rooftop

4. New York City like anything in life is all about who you know.  So make friends.  I’ve been to Broadway premiers and Penthouse rooftops all from having made friends with some really cool people. It can be hard to break through that tough New York exterior that just about everyone has, but your sure to find good connections that will lead you to your next job or opportunity or at least a good party.

5. Keep your head up, because New York will kick your butt!!!  Whether you’ve got crazy weird roomates (I had one who stole my security deposit, and then turn around and try to sue me later–seriously!) shady cheap landlord who turns off your heat to save himself money, or totally unfair parking tickets– this is all part of the rhythym of the city.  If you really want to be here you’ll find a way to cope with the lack of space, abundance of noise and learn to love it, and if not you’ll have some good stories to bring back home withyou.

So how about that cake.  I made this for a coworker who originates from Ecuador.  As far as neighborhoods go I live in a predominantly spanish area and I love comparing recipes and learning new aways to approach cake, or Bizcocho.

The cake is a version of a white cake, without as many eggs.  It cooks up light and fluffy and evenly for the most part.  You’ll notice you won’t spend alot of time leveling this puppy.

The filling is dulce de Leche, cooked the easiest way– by boiling sweetencondensed milk (see my previous post)

And the Frosting.  I originally went with what SporkorFoon suggested: a caramel frosting from Paula Dean, but I found generally that it was too sweet and pretty runny, so I oppted to take all that gooey caramel and add it (slowly) to some Swiss Merignue I had already made.  It  kicked up the flavor just enough without killing the consistency.  I drizzled what was left of the caramel over the cake, and add some melted chocolate in a way Jackson Pollock would appreciate– I was inspired by this photo of Dulce De Leche cake on Technicolor Kitchen.  I love food photos!

Dulce De Cake from Spork or

2 1/4 cup cake flour ( I used all purpose)

1 c whole milk

6 large egg whites at room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 3/4 c grandulate sugar

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter softened

Combine milk, egg whites and vanilla in a small bowl.  mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a stand mixer on low speed.  Add butter and mix until crumbly.  Add 1/2 of egg-milk mixture into flour mixture. Mix at medium speed for 90 seconds.  Add last of egg-milk mixture and beat for 30 seconds.  Scrape bowl and mix for 20 more seconds.  Don’t over beat.

Pour into 2 greased and floured 8″ or 9″ pans and cook for 25 minutes.

Paula Dean’s caramel frosting can be found here or

Melt 1 stick of butter, 1 c brown sugar (dark is called for but I only had light– to each their own), and 1/3 heavy cream in a saucepan until the sugar is dissolved.  Move to a heat proof bowl add 1 lb (2 cups) powdered sugar.  Add more sugar for a stiffer consistency.  I allowed the frosting to cool then slowly stirred it into some fluffy swiss meringue I had made previously.

Cool for 10 minutes, remove from pans and allow to cool completely.  Level you cakes. Be sure to pipe a dam around the edge so you dulce won’t leak threw. Fill with Dulce de Leche, stack and Frost. Decorate as you’d like!

Add a comment November 16, 2010

At Last…

Photos by Chrissy Hennessey

I reached that point in my life where all my friends are getting married.  I’ve been to about 5 weddings this year alone, most of which happened this summer.  You might remember me mentioning my good friend Scott and his wife Mel last year after they tied the knot at City Hall.  They had a more formal wedding ceremony recently, and perhaps you already guessed that I was in charge of the wedding cake.

Photos by Chrissy Hennessey

I got to hear Etta James sing her all too famous song At Last a few years ago at Carnegie Hall.  She was still performing then– in her seventies and sounded as amazing as ever– perhaps even better and I feel that most great things get better with age.  She joked about how often it is requested that she sing this famous tune for weddings.  I love this song and the title album it debuted on.  And it was sung this weekend at my good friends wedding, for the first dance of the bride and groom.

Photos by Chrissy Hennessey

Being that I’ve had so much recent wedding experience its easy to compare the way the brides and grooms choose to go about the huge undertaking of their nuptials.  I really have to say I thought Scott and Mel were quite successful in making their wedding personal and one of a kind. They were simple with the local and decore were simple. The ceremony was outside and the reception in an old farmhouse.  All of the guest got to spend the whole weekend in a rustic Manor, meeting each other and spending time with the Man and Woman of the hour.They asked their friends and family to take part of the ceremony in number of ways.  Friends presided over the ceremony, gave speeches on how they first met, and their parents also gave speeches and blessings. They didn’t necessarily follow the typical guidelines but with sentiment so easily lost in what you’re “supposed to do.”

It was quite refreshing since sometimes its hard to get a moment with that friend or family member whose just tied the knot as they rush around the party trying to say hello and thank you, take pictures and hopefully get a chance to actually eat or have a drink or kiss when all the glasses begin to cling cling cling.  Weddings are stressful even if you have great family and friends! Making a great celebration about you and your significant other while including all the people who support and love you is no easy task.

Photos by Chrissy Hennessey

Recipe for a Wedding Cake

Favorite Cake Recipe x 20, in this case Red Red Velvet

Now level, torte, and frost each cake.  Red velvet was the bride and groom’s choice, and since I don’t trust cream cheese frosting to stay put in anyway whatsoever I used it as the filling.  The tangy flavor was still there with Italian meringue Buttercream on the outside, which brings me to the recipe.

Photos by Chrissy Hennessey


Photos by CH


Photos by Chrissy Hennessey

American buttercream is composed of butter and in many cases shortening, vanilla extract– clear vanilla if you don’t want a muddy white color, and powdered sugar.  Perhaps you’ve seen my YouTube video, maybe even left me a nasty comment about how many times I say the word “Ummm.”  I didn’t realize how unbareable it was at first… all the same BE NICE! and if you are a real deal baker, confectioner, Mistress or Master of the kitchen you will test your skill (and most likely convert to) using Italian Meringue or Swiss Merignue Butter Cream frosting.

Swiss Merignue Buttercream

3 c sugar

12 egg whites

2 pounds butter (8 sticks) at room temperature

candy thermometer

Now this isn’t exactly easy especially your first time. But I promise you this, the next cake you serve with this frosting I guarentee you will get compliments on how amazing it is.  In fact I was told by catering staff of the Manor, where Mel and Scott’s wedding was held that “my frosting was the absolute best they’d had.”  The manor staff also assured me that they  are absolute conisseurs of cake frosting being that there is a wedding at the Bucksteep Manor just about every weekend.  But I can’t credit… this recipe is all Martha’s from Martha Stewart’s Wedding Cakes.

Combine sugar and egg whites in a heat proof bowl.  Set over a sauce pan half full of water and heat on medium to high heat.  Now here is where the muscle comes in.  Start whipping with a whisk.  The egg whites will become foamy  but almost syrupy, but keep beating the eggs continuously.  Clip your candy thermometer to the side of the bowl until the egg mixture reaches 140 F degrees.

Once at 140 degrees the eggs are cooked, so if you are really hesitant about using egg whites in frosting– its cool– rather its hot– they are cooked so your fine.

Move the bowl to your upright electric mixer— If you are without aKitchenAid, simply use your hand held mixer.  Beat the egg whites at medium high speed until they are at the stiff peak stage.  Martha approximates this to be about 8-10 minutes.  I find it needs to be more like 12-15 minutes.   I’ve made this frosting a number of times– and screwed it up a couple times too.  Its easy to screw up in 2 ways.  1.  Under mixing– addingthe butter before your egg whites are stiff enough, or 2. Over mixing– and its hard to tell if you have.  The egg whites combined with sugar don’t stand up at the stiff peak stage , they way they would without the sugar mixed in.   So heres the way I test.  At 10-12 minutes, I stop the mixer and paddle the whites and sugar up around the whisk attachment. If they are thick– almost heavy and stand up straight– even if the peaks flop over a little bit. They are ready to go.

Mix on low  and slowly add butter a tablespoon at a time. You will see almost immediately see your beautiful egg whites deflate and become a little soupy.  Continue to add butter a dollop at a time. The mixture will be soupy and deflated right up until the last stick of butter.  And right when you think you’ve wasted a dozen eggs, and 2 pounds of butter Voila you’ll notice a little change in the consistency.  It becomes whipped and light.

Keep at room temperature. It refridgerate for a week or freeze it for up to a month.

4 comments November 9, 2010

Duff’s Stuff

Who doesn’t load up their DVR with the best of the cake decorating shows: The Cake Boss, Amazing Wedding Cakes, and those crazy cake challenges.  Well not only is Duff Goldberg bring culinary prowess into your living room, but now you can have his culinary tools in your kitchen.

Chef Duff

Chef Goldberg also known as the Ace of Cakes has recently come out with a line of frosting, fondant, and all sorts of baking pans, spatulas and other eccutraments that can be found in the aisles of your favorite craft store.  So heres the skinny ( in my humble opinion) of some of the new the products he recently debuted.


Its great to find large quantities of pre colored fondant available in a local store.   It can be frustrating to send away for Satin Ice or other professional Fondant.  Wilton is readily available in Michaels and other craft stores. Many people dislike the taste of the Wilton brand.  I won’t comment on the taste of Wilton (since I’m a Wilton Instructor and use it  daily) but I can say Duff’s Fondant has a mild flavor, and the availability of a 2 lbs container of say red or black Fondant is Great!  We all know how difficult it can be to dye your own fondant or frosting for that matter and actually achieve Red or black.  Also having it in a resealable/ reusable plastic container is very convienent.

I'm so happy this is available in large quantities and in local stores!

The elasticity of this fondant is EXCELLENT!!!!  I used the bright pink fondant on a cake just this past weekend.  Its important to roll your fondant out to 1/6- 1/8 of an inch thick to avoid tears.  I was convinced at one point I’d have a tear and have to start over, but Duff’s Fondant just kept stretching.  Stretch-ability is important to avoid tears and wrinkles and this Fondant has it!!

A birthday cake, featuring Duff's Fondant, for my god daughter

Cake Tattoos!

Super fun!  You can find all sorts of stencils and edible stickers to adhere to your fondant or frosting should you want to avoid handing painting or piping.   These cake tatoos have a Charm City spin with leopard print and Skull-n-Cross bones.  They include tracers for cupcake toppers.  Keep in mind that the photo you see on the packaging is exactly what you get– two  long stripes to go around the sides of your cake and a 4″ circle for the top.  If you have plans to use these decals on a bigger cake, make sure you get enough to do the job.


Not to sound like a total snob, but I make my own.  I accidentally purchase the frosting misreading the label– thinking it was a 5lbs. container of white buttercream fondant. I did however take advantage of my mistake and tast test the frosting and used it to cover a cake.  The texture is medium consistency– great most piping and frosting, and crusts quickly.  And the taste is great too.  It actually tastes like buttercream, not store bought, so if you are in a pinch I recommend this short cut.

Decorative wires

I thought this was a great idea to make available in stores. Lots of hobbiest/ amateur  decorators try to encorporate this design into their work but using wire and subsequently bending and twisting  wiring properly can be a challenge– and they don’t teach this in your average class.  Why not sell ’em cut and curled?

decorative curled wire

All in all Duff’s stuff is great quality and will definetly be found in my cabinets and on my cakes!

2 comments May 28, 2010

Stout Shout Out

Brooklyn's Chocolate Stout, a seasonal beer

I spent St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland one year and was asked repeatedly why I wasn’t back in New York where Patty’s day was inevitably more fun? I live not too far from a one of the bigger irish neighborhoods in New York.  Having had a pint in both the old country and here at home I can definetly say Guiness must be drunk on St. Patrick’s Day no matter where you are Irish or not.

The Chocolate and Coffee notes in Guiness nicely compliment of host of sweet flavors.  In fact its not uncommon in Ireland to have raspberry or strawberry liquor added to your pint.  Stout though dark is actually a very light beer (its got the same calorie count as your average light beer) and  is really versatile and fun to cook with.  I’ve got it lined up to make an appearance in Chocolate Cheesecake next.

So heres a really simple way to incorporate the luck of the Irish in your baking.  Add 1/4 c  -1/2 c (I tend to be more heavy handed with a 1/2 c) of Guiness or your favorite stout beer to a homemade chocolate cake.   Murphy’s is good, or Brooklyn Brewery makes a really rich Chocolate Stout around the holidays and I hoard it throughout the year for just this purpose.  Sometimes I throw a tablespoon of Irish whiskey in the batter just because. You’ll find the cake comes out light and fluffy!   To topp  ‘er off

Bailey’s Buttercream Frosting

1/2 c (1 stick) butter softened

1/2 c Shortening (you can 1 c butter total and omit the shortening if you aren’t keen on it)

1/4-1/3 c Bailey’s Irish Cream (Emmet’s Irish Cream or your favorite brand is also suitable.  Bailey’s now makes a variety of flavor infused irish cream liquors like Bailey’s Mint, or Bailey’s Chocolate, so feel free to experiment.)

4 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 tsp vanilla (clear or pure extract) optional

Blend all ingredients except for the sugar until creamy and smooth.  Add sugar gradually while mixing with an electric mixer.  Delicious.  I’ve watched many of my friends eat the left over frosting out of a bowl with a spoon its soooooo good.



1 comment March 17, 2010

Piping Roses

So now that the new year is here I’d like say my resolution is to do more video blogging.  So here is my first venture toward keeping that resolution!  Here are 3 different ways to pipe a rose out of buttercream icing.  Need a buttercream recipe?  Watch my other vlogs!

Also commenting on this post will enter you in the running to get a decorating bag holder!  By the way Chay Runnels of east Texas, was the esteemed winner of the Red Velvet cake in a jar which should be reaching her in Texas soon!

3 comments January 14, 2010

A Tease

Its been a pretty busy week for me. I had a big concert at the theatre I manage–my real job, many of my students had to bringing in their first cakes this week, and the holidays are just around the corner. Wow.

At some point this week I found a few minutes at my local Target store, to purchase  a few small things, one of which included Madonna’s new CD Celebration.   I figured I needed some upbeat motivational dance music, and after all I like that new single. 

What I didn’t realize is the track on the double disc CD is not the radio edit.  Isn’t that always such a let down!  The single you’d love to play on repeat isn’t actually on the album, and instead theres the first draft of the song?

Its like a blog without pictures!

Ahh thats better.

So what does this have to do with Fondant?  Well almost nothing except that this recipe was also just a tease.  In doing some exploring and going through various recipes for Fondant, I came across a ButterCream Fondant Recipe and was excited.  It seemed easy to make and perhaps it would offer a better flavor than the store bought (just about everyone I know HATES the taste of store bought.) And Buttercream Fondant is known to have a natural shine. Mmm sign me up!  


See how shiney?

Oh but I spoke too soon.  This Fondant kinda sucks!  The only ingredient it includes thats different than Buttercream Frosting is Corn Syrup.  Now Corn Syrup being a liquid seems like a strange ingredient variation, considering that its the reason that this frosting goes from a stiff liquid to a dough.  Buttercream Fondant is easy to roll out, and is shiney.  The corn syryp continually rises to the top of the surface adding a sheen to the fondant.  It also doesn’t dry out like your typical store bought fondant or Marshmellow fondant  So its nice not having to compulsively cover the dough when you’re not working with it.



Its difficult however to roll this dough out without using tons of powdered sugar to keep the fondant from sticking.  The more sugar you add the harder it is to keep the dough from cracking and falling apart.  

All in all this recipe was kind of a let down.  I had to re-roll the dough several times as it continually just craked and broke off my poor cooperative cake.  Even after I finally got it to stick the dough looked like there were lots of pox marks in it…Eww.  The recipe is below and I encourage anyone to try it, make me look like a complainer who just had a bad day with a new recipe, and should have just bought the song she wanted on iTunes. 

Butter Cream Fondant

1 cup shortening

1 cup corn syrup

1 tsp clear vanilla extract

2 lbs powdered sugar

1/2 tsp of fine salt

Mix the shortening, syrup, extract and salt until well combined.  Add sugar until you have a moldable dough.  


Add a comment November 15, 2009

Butter Cream Frosting

My first video blog or vlog if you will!!!!  I edited this myself with iMovie.  I’m not as Mac saavy as I’d like to be so I’m gushing with delight!!  For any of my new students who’ve just begun Course One this is the frosting you’ll need to prepare for class.  For anyone is just no good at making homemade icing, well watch below and see if you can improve your frosting skills the same way I’m improving my techie nerd skills. 

Butter Cream and Chocolate Butter Cream

1 cup Vegetable Shortenting


1/2 c butter and 1/2 Shortening

1 tsp clear vanilla extract

2-4 TB water or Milk

2lbs Powdered sugar (if making chocolate frosting omit 1/2 c powdered sugar and add 1/2 unsweetened cocoa powder)

1 Tb Meringue Powder (for Wilton class recipe, optional otherwise)

9 comments November 8, 2009

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The Cake Eccentric

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