Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hope everyone had a happy thanksgiving!

I hope everyone had a wonderful thanksgiving full of family and love and most importantly wonderful food! This year we had Thanksgiving with my mom's side of the family. It was such a wonderful meal. The turkey was perfection and the stuffing was so flavorful. I couldn't have been happier until I saw what was up for dessert! An assortment of 19-yes-19 homemade pies!! It was such a lovely sight to see. On the Paras side we kind of pride ourselves with making homemade everything, it would be very brave to show up with something store bought at a family event:) I started off with some of my moms coconut cream then sort of sampled every other one I could! It was such a wonderful feast that it will be hard to top it off next year.

I tried to fit all the pies in but some of them got cut off.

This may be a better angle...

Here is my mom's apple pie, it was so beautiful I thought it was noteworthy of a close up.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

It's that time of the month again.....the November Daring Bakers Challenge!

Boy was I excited to complete this challenge! After being absent from the last challenge and having the one before that a savory one, I was excited to do something sweet. And even more excited when I found out that it was a cake, but not just any cake a caramel cake! However, I was indifferent with the end result, probably because I did something wrong, but here's my take on how the cake turned out. I made the caramel syrup, which I think I over cooked. I followed the instructions to the T, even looked up some helpful hints on making caramel syrup. When I was finished it seemed perfect, but when it was time to put it in the cake it got all clumpy and didn't incorporate very well into the cake. I kept creaming it in trying to make it less clumpy, I finally got it to a consistency I was pretty happy with. There was some clumps and when the cake was finished it ended up having some caramel spirl in it from the clumps melting. The cake flavor alone wasn't anything I would jump up and scream about, but then again I may have done something wrong, however the texture was amazing.

Now for the frosting, I knew that the rules were we had to use the caramel syrup in the frosting but mine was a complete mess. So I used what i could and decided it needed to be more caramelly. I figured I used the syrup so now I could do whatever else I wanted to make this frosting lovely. So I looked up a caramel sauce recipe, whipped it together and added a little in, ok maybe alot in. It turned out amazing! One of the best frosting I have made! I was very happy with it.

So now for the finished product, the cake with the frosting: pretty good. I would love to make it again and see if I could make the caramel syrup better. I served it to a bunch of family members and they all had nice things to say about it. Maybe I was being a little critical because it didn't turn out how I wanted. Anyways if any of you have a change take a whack at it! Let me know if you had a better success. Also don't forget to check out the other lovely Daring Bakers!
Here is the begining of the makings of the caramel syrup, so
far everything is going good.

Now dumping the water in, it started splattering and going crazy! Which was normal,
it actually smoked up so much that my fire alarms went off!
I was very concerned it was going to platter all over my arms and hands,
so here I am looking very worried and trying to hold my hands away
as far as I could!

Ta da! Challenge complete!


10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature

Notes from Natalie for those of you baking gluten-free:

So the GF changes to the cake would be:

2 cups of gluten free flour blend (w/xanthan gum) or 2 cups of gf flour blend + 1 1/2 tsp xanthan or guar gum
1/2 - 1 tsp baking powder (this would be the recipe amount to the amount it might need to be raised to & I'm going to check)

I'll let you when I get the cake finished, how it turns out and if the baking powder amount needs to be raised.

Preheat oven to 350F

Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.

Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.

Sift flour and baking powder.

Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.

Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.

Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.


2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)
In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.

When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.

Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.


12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste

Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.

Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month.
To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light

(recipes above courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Nothing mini about the huge amount of flavor in these cupcakes!

I finally had the change to go to Mini's Cupcakes in Salt Lake and it exceded my expectations. It was so darling and cute inside. Had the funnest atmosphere and the best selection of mini cupcakes. And let me tell ya, there is nothing bad about a mini cupcake because I have learned when you eat a mini cupcake, you can have another and not feel bad! I also liked that I was able to sample a few different flavors because of how little they were. I was so impressed with these cupcakes. Take a look at the few different flavors I got....(and might I add each and every one of those babies was gone before I went to bed that night!)
From the top left curving around to the right:
black n white, breakfast at tiffany's, cocont, lemon meringue

The black n white"
Moist chocolate cake with butter cream frosting, amazing!

The lemon meringue:
vanilla bean cake, fresh lemon curd in the center
with meringue frosting. This one was so delicious and refreshing.

And finally, the Breakfast at Tiffany's:
have you seen a cuter cupcake? Vanilla cake, blue
cream cheese frosting with silver and white gems. This one was so fun to eat!
If you have a change go check out minis!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I finally made them!

For the past few months I have been dying to make cookie dough cupcakes. The idea was so intriguing and I thought how could that be bad? Cookie dough in a cupcake! Definitely a winner. So after months of wanting to make them, I finally did! It was my brothers birthday and I thought that that would be the perfect opportunity. There was a recipe from the Cake Mix Doctor for cookie dough cupcakes but I just made a plain yellow cake mix and put a frozen cookie dough chunk in the center. If you buy the tollhouse cookie dough already cut in cubes (the one that makes 24 cookies) I found that just one of those cubes was the perfect amount of cookie dough.

These cupcakes were super yummy and really fun for people to eat because there was a little surprise of cookie dough in the middle! For the frosting I did something I haven't done before. I wanted to make a SMBC but didn't have the right equipment for it. So...I invented a new frosting! I made a traditional chocolate buttercream with melted symphony bar and cocoa powder. Then I did the first step for SMBC which is to basically make the meringue and then I folded that into the buttercream. It made it so light and fluffy and not too sweet. People loved them and I can't wait to make them again!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

"From Head to Heel" Grand Opening!

Last Saturday I had the grand opening for my spa/boutique that I started in my basement. It was so much fun! I had no idea I would have such a great turn out of people. Thanks to everyone who came and celebrated my new business with me and offered their support. A lot of work went into this party. My husband designed the cutest fliers for it and made three amazing posters that we framed and hung up in the basement. And of course, I worked hard in the baking department. I made chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with chocolate and vanilla buttercream. I alternated all of the flavors so that it seemed like I had more flavors to choose from. They turned out pretty cute. Here are some pictures of my place....
Here is the little nook where I displayed my cuppies!

Not the best pic but those three pictures are the ones Micah designed.

This is where I display the skin care products I sell. I sell a few different kinds but the
main two are Rhonda Allison (which I am in love with!) and Vivant (I am also in
love with their products too!)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Creepy crawler cupcakes...a little late but still cute:)

This past week has been a crazy one. I have been planning and preparing every second for my grand opening of the spa/boutique I have in my home. It was yesterday and it went great! I will do a post about it but first things first, I made these cute Halloween cupcakes and need to post them even though it's late. Please forgive me! I would have posted them earlier but like I said my grand opening took all of my time, I was so busy I couldn't even do my Daring Bakers Challenge for this month :( I was very sad I had to miss my first challenge. So this month I am hoping will be a little bit more relaxed and I will be able to post a little bit more.

So back to the cupcakes, these are the yummiest homemade devils food cupcakes. Their texture is moist and the flavor unbelievable. the recipe is from the book "cupcakes" by Shelly Kaldunski. I have been very happy with this book. So feel free to try these out and you don't have to make them halloween themed you could just make them normal glazed cupcakes without the spider web. Enjoy!

Creepy Crawler Halloween Cupcakes

Devils Food Cupcakes:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 packed brown sugar
4 T. butter at room temp
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat over to 350.

Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into bowl. In another bowl, with an electric mixer on medium igh speed, beat the sugar, brown sugar, and butter until light and fluffy, 2-3 min. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the water and buttermilk, beating on low speed until just combined; srape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat on medium high speed just until no traces of flour remaing, about 30 seconds.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake 18-20 minutes.

Milk chocolate Glaze:
1/2 cup cream
1 T corn syrup
pinch salt
8 oz. milk chocolate, chopped

In a saucepan over medium high heat, combine the cream, cornsyrup and salt and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and add chocolate; let stand for 3 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Transfer the chocolate glaze to a small bowl and let cool to room temperature.

Vanilla Glaze:
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 T milk
1 tsp vanilla extract.

In a bowl whisk together the sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth; the glaze should be spreadable. If it seems too thick whisk in additons milk in a few drops at a time. If too thin add more sugar.

So heres what you do!!

Spoon the chocolate glaze of the cupcakes and then with the vanilla glaze places in a piping bag with a small tip, make circles on the cupcake, like this:

Then with a tooth pick, starting in the middle, drag it out to the edges and it will look this likes!;
I even put some in a box to give them as a gift, look how cute!