Hello world!

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Welcome to my new site! I’ve transferred my posts from my first blog, Baked by Beth, to this site in order to incorporate some of my other interests. I hope you enjoy!

 

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Italian Chocolate Balls

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I’ve been baking like crazy this month…Cake and Cupcakes for Ben’s 5th birthday party, a baby shower cake for a coworker and friend, cookies for The Great Food Food Blogger Cookie swap, cookies for a work cookie exchange….and then good old christmas cookies for family and friends. Woohoo! I’ve used some of my old standby recipes- Orange Drop Cookies (15 dozen made so far…woah!), Cutout Cookies (6 dozen), and Angeletti (3 1/2 dozen) as well as some new recipes. Preparing for Christmas stresses me out….but the baking relaxes me, which explains why I am making so many cookies!!

Two of the new recipes I tried came from a little box set of cookie recipes I found in the gift shop at the hospital I work in. It’s called One Smart Cookie, and it’s published by Daymaker inspirational gifts, and it has 50 cards with cookie recipes. It’s a cute little gift set…and I have one to give away to one of you as well!

This is a great recipe…coconut, nuts and chocolate all rolled into one, and the best part is that it doesn’t require any baking!

Italian Chocolate Balls adapted from One Smart Cookie
Makes 2 dozen


1/2 Cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup flaked coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
1 tsp salt
1 16 oz bag milk chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients except chocolate chips in large bowl, and stir  with wooden spoon until combined. Roll into small balls. Melt chocolate chips according to package directions, stirring until smooth. Dip* balls in chocolate and pace on waxed paper to cool.

* I have issues dipping things in chocolate…so I melted the chocolate, and spooned it onto each of the cookies. Might not be as pretty, but they’re still a big hit around here!

Giveaway Time!- 

Leave a comment here telling me what your favorite christmas cookie is, and you’re entered to win. You can gain additional entries by following Baked by Beth on  twitter and/or facebook and then leave me another comment with your handle(s). Winner will be chosen 12/30 and notified by email.

Congrats to Cindy B, the one and only entrant! Those are some odds…I’ll email you to get your shipping info, Cindy. Enjoy the recipes!
Enjoy!

My Cookie Swap Recipe: Orange Drop Cookies

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Today is the big link up of allllllll 625 bloggers recipes for The Great Food Blogger Cookies Swap 2011. The guidelines for the swap were pretty simple. Make 3 dozen homemade cookies, use a recipe you haven’t posted on your blog before, and send em to three unsuspecting food bloggers.

I decided to use my all time favorite cookie recipe for the swap. This recipe is a family favorite- it came from my mom’s childhood nanny, Grammy Grace, and I try to make these cookies every year at Christmas. These are Orange Drop Cookies…soft, citrusy pillows that are amazing with or without the orange glaze. I know this because I’m impatient, and typically eat a cookie or two four before they are iced.

My cookies went to Vanessa of  French Foodie Mom, Monica of Sweet Bites Blog, and Jenny of Jen eat, then speak. I’m hoping they arrived in good condition, and quickly..The post office around here definitely isn’t the fastest on the planet! One of the best parts of this project was being introduced to 6 bloggers you may not have heard of…I checked out the blogs of each blogger I sent cookies to, as well as the bloggers I received cookies from. I’ll definitely be back for more!

Sneaky little elf…tryin to hijack my cookies!





Orange Drop Cookies 
Makes 5 dozen cookies


1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 whole orange
4 cups flour (I used whole wheat, just as yummy as all purpose)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

1 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Finely grate orange rind, then remove remaining orange peel. Place orange slices in blender or food processor and grind until fine. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in eggs, orange and rind. Sift dry ingredients together, and add to butter mixture, alternating with milk. Using medium scoop, drop on prepared cookie sheets 1 inch apart. Bake 9-10 minutes, or until bottoms of cookies start to brown. Remove from oven and cool completely on wire racks before adding glaze.
Orange Glaze:
6 tbsp melted butter
6 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tbsp grated orange rind
Powdered sugar to thicken
Combine butter and orange juice and mix well. Add enough powdered sugar to thicken to desired consistency. Stir in orange rind, and spread on cookies.
Enjoy!!

The Great Blogger Cookie Swap 2011

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When I found out about The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2011, I *knew* I had to participate. I love cookies…who doesn’t love cookies! I love making cookies, especially during the holidays, and getting 3 mystery packages of cookies in the mail sounded like a no brainer!
When registration closed, there were 625 bloggers signed up to participate. That’s 1875 dozen cookies flyin’ through the mail over the past few weeks. How cool is that!! 
Monday is the official link up of the cookie exchange, with recipes and all. For now, I can share the cookies I  received in the mail! Talk about fun! 3 packages, addressed to me, full of cookies! 
My first box of cookies arrived Wednesday- and I couldn’t wait to see what was inside! Amanda from Sweet Fix sent me “London Fog” cookies…Earl Grey Tea Butter Cookies with White Chocolate Filling. These were thin, crispy cookies with a hint of earl grey tea filled with white chocolate, and they were to die for. I may or may not have eaten half of this tin of cookies myself!
London Fog cookies…photo from Beth at Just So Parenting
Thursday’s mail brought a beautifully decorated box from The Lushers…filled with oatmeal, cranberry and white chocolate cookies. Yum, yum, yum. Yum. No other words necessary. Yum. 
How pretty is that box? Photo from Beth at Just So Parenting

The Lushers’ Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies. Photo from Beth at  Just So Parenting
My final box of cookies arrived today , and I while I was sad it was the last box, I was not disappointed in the least as to what was inside! Beth from Just So Parenting sent me these slightly highly addictive Chewy Lemon Lavender Snowdrop Cookies. Soft, sweet, chewy, tangy….the list of adjectives goes on and on. Once I have my hands on this recipe, I’ll definitely be making these!
Chewy Lemon Lavender Snowdrop Cookies from Beth at Just So Parenting
(this is my photo….I actually got the camera out before the cookies disappeared!!)
Thanks to these three ladies for some amazing cookies, and thanks to Lindsay of Love and Olive Oil and Julie of The Little Kitchen for organizing this event. I’m sure it was a huge success! 
My recipe will be up Monday…can’t wait to share my all time favorite cookies with you!

Remembering my Dad

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My family and I celebrated my dad’s life yesterday- a life that ended very unexpectedly 10 years ago. We decided to celebrate together this year, as the cooker boy has had a lot of questions about Pop Pop Jim.We had lunch at the beach, and Ben sent Pop Pop Jim some balloons.  I baked this cake, which was always my dads favorite…He called it “Schocolate cake with schocolate icing” as a kid…the Schocolate stuck even as he grew up, and it became a family joke. I wasn’t into baking much when my dad was around, but I’m sure he’s drooling over this cake from up above.

Ben and Mom releasing the balloons and Ben’s note to Pop Pop Jim

I spent some time scanning old pictures and posting them on Facebook, as most of our family and friends are still in Ohio, and I wanted everyone to be included in the celebration. Several people posted great memories of my dad on my wall, and they were definitely fun to read. He was an incredibly funny guy, and that’s what I miss the most.

Family Pictures

The recipes. I used the “Too Much Chocolate Cake” and Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Frosting recipes for this cake. Talk about chocolate overload…exactly what my dad would have enjoyed!

Too Much Chocolate Cake from  AllRecipes.com

1 devils food cake mix
1 pkg instant chocolate pudding
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup warm water
4 eggs
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare (2) 9 inch cake pans with baking spray and set aside. In large bowl, combine dry ingredients and stir to break up lumps. Add oil, sour cream, milk and eggs and whisk until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into pans and bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted into center of cake. Cool in pans on wire racks until completely cool.

Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Frosting from Hersheys.com

1 stick butter
2/3 cup Hershey’s Cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Melt butter in saucepan and stir in cocoa power. Whisk until smooth and transfer into large mixing bowl. Alternate adding powdered sugar and milk, beating until smooth and creamy. Add vanilla extract and beat until just combined.

Enjoy, and let me know what you think!

Rose Cake

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I saw a cake like this on I am Baker, and thought it was absolutely gorgeous….as well as something I must try! I found this lovely little cake stand at T.J. Maxx, and needed something to put on it, so I decided to try my hand at this decorating technique. I used a chocolate cake mix to get my cake layers made quickly, and whipped up a batch of Kahlua Buttercream, and went at it.

I prepared this like I would any other layer cake- froze, filled, crumb coated, and frosted. I put the cake in the fridge to set the base layer of frosting, so I could wipe off any mistakes if I needed to (which I did…a few times). Once I got the hang of it, I realized that Amanda of I am Baker is a genius. This is a really simple technique that when finishes leaves you with a stunning cake!

I will send you to Amanda’s site, I am Baker, as she has wonderful step by step instructions on how to make this cake. I promise, it IS as simple as it sounds. The rest of her site is amazing as well- I try a lot of recipes I find here. If you find yourself with a few minutes, nose around. You won’t be sorry!

Kahlua Buttercream

2 Sticks Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
1 lb powdered sugar
4 tbsp Kahlua or Kahlua flavored creamer
1 tsp vanilla

Cream butter in bowl of stand mixer using whip attachment. Add powdered sugar in small additions, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla then Kahlua (or creamer) 1 tbsp at a time, using more or less to achieve the desired consistency.

Enjoy, and let me know what you think!

Big Birthday Cake for my Little Brother

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My “little” brother turned 30 this year, and that makes me feel older than my own 30th birthday did! My brother is the general manager of a local bar, so we decided to celebrate his birthday there and let some of his staff and customers in on the celebration. I decided  I’d make two cakes for his birthday, one for our family dinner, and one for the celebration at the bar.

The big cake was a moist chocolate cake covered in chocolate ganache with a hint of Chambord, filled with the same ganache and seedless raspberry jam. Yum, yum, yum. I am a big fan of chocolate and raspberry, and this was the best combination yet! I also made a small amount of white chocolate ganache flavored with Chambord to use for decoration. Obviously I need to work on writing on cake…Ganache probably wasn’t the easiest to start with! The white chocolate, however messy, was a great contrast to the rest of the cake,

This cake recipe is large..it made 2 full 9×13 layers! I ended up mixing the batter in halves based on the suggestion of Deb at Smitten Kitchen, the blogger I got the recipe from…the full recipe would have been way too much for my mixer to handle.

Chocolate Butter Cake with Bittersweet Chambord Ganache
adapted from  Smitten Kitchen

Cake:
5 1/3 C. cake flour
5 1/3 C. sugar
2 2/3 C. unsweetened cocoa powder (not dutch process)
6 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp salt
5 1/3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 2/3 C. buttermilk
5 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk
2 2/3 C. freshly brewed coffee
1 C. seedless raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 2 9×13 inch pans with baking spray, and line bottom of pans with parchment paper.

Combine dry ingredients in large mixer bowl. Whisk ingredients until combined. Add buttermilk and butter and mix on low until moistened. Increase speed to medium high and mix until batter is light and fluffy, between 2-3 minutes.

Combine eggs and coffee in a medium bowl, and whisk until combined. Add to batter in 3 additions, scraping down the bowl after each addition and mixing until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared pans, each pan uses about 5 1/2 cups batter.

Bake at 350 55-60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.

Let cool in pans on wire rack 10-15 minutes, then carefully turn cakes out onto rack to cool completely.

Bittersweet Chambord Ganache

2 lbs bittersweet chocolate chips, I used Ghiridelli
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 C. heavy cream
1/3 C. chambord liqueur

Place chocolate chips in large bowl. Heat cream in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, removing from heat just before it boils. Pour over chocolate chips, and let sit for one minute. Whisk until smooth, then add butter, continuing to whisk until smooth. Stir in liqueur, and let cool to room temperature.

Assemble cake:

Place one layer on cake board and top with a thin layer of cooled ganache. Let ganache set, then spread 1 cup raspberry jam on top. Top with 2nd layer, and apply thin coat of ganache as a crumb coat to top and sides of cake. Let ganache set, then spread the remaining ganache over top and sides of cake. Top with fresh raspberries.

Enjoy, and let me know what you think!!

Block O Grooms Cake

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Soon after my brother Jason and his wife Monica started making wedding plans, Monica asked if I could make a surprise Groom’s Cake for Jason. Of course I said yes…that was a no brainer! I knew I’d have my hands full, making 100 cupcakes as well as a surprise groom’s cake..in a kitchen that wasn’t mine, and trying to get the grooms cake finished without my brother finding out. I figured the best way to go was a Block O, since Jason attended the Ohio State University and was in the Ohio State University Marching Band. Our family is full of Buckeye fans…both the college “Buckeyes” as well as the candy ones. I decided to try to replicate a buckeye in the cake- chocolate cake filled with peanut butter mousse and topped with chocolate buttercream under the marshmallow fondant. I had my work cut out for me.

I did a trial run a few weeks before the wedding, to make sure everything worked out well. I originally planned just to ice the cake with red and white buttercream, but I didn’t like the way it looked once it was finished. That’s when I decided fondant was the way to go. I also knew this cake wouldn’t be complete without the Candy buckeyes all Buckeye fans love!

All said and done, Jason knew we were trying to pull something over on him. None of us females are all that great at keeping secrets! I think he was happy with the cake though…and I know the guests enjoyed it!

Buckeye Cake recipes from many sources, listed below


Chocolate Cake: my favorite chocolate cake recipe x 2 and baked in 9×13 cake pans. Can be baked ahead and frozen if desired, as the assembly and decorating takes some time.


Peanut Butter Mousse Filling: from Cafe Johnsonia


2 C peanut butter, not natural
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 C powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 C heavy cream, chilled


In large bowl, mix peanut butter and cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Add powdered sugar and vanilla, mix until all sugar has been incorporated….this mixture will be thick! Set aside. In bowl (preferably chilled) of stand mixer, beat heavy cream with whisk attachment on high speed until soft peaks form. Using a large spatula, gently fold whipped cream into peanut butter mixture in two additions. The first lightens the mixture without deflating the whipped cream. The second lightens it even more, and smooths it out. Cover and chill until ready to assemble cake.


Chocolate Buttercream Icing from Brown Eyed Baker


2 C (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 C powdered Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla
8 oz semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled


Using whisk attachment of stand mixer, mix butter on high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down bowl as needed. Add powdered sugar in small batches, and mix well on low speed after each addition. Once all powdered sugar has been added add vanilla and mix on medium speed. Add chocolate and continue to mix until light and fluffy, scraping the bowl as needed. 


Marshmallow Fondant from Whats Cooking America with Peggy Weaver


1 16 oz package mini marshmallows
2-5 Tbsp water
2 lb powdered sugar
1/2 C shortening

Place marshmallows and 2 Tbsp water in large microwavable bowl. Microwave for 2-2 1/2 minutes, in 30 second increments. Stir after each 30 seconds is up. Remove from microwave, and add 3/4 of the powdered sugar to the bowl. Use a wooden or plastic spoon to stir to mix partially, then dump contents of bowl onto shortening covered work surface. Using your hands (also well greased with shortening), knead fondant like you would knead bread..I use the push, fold, turn and repeat method. Add the remaining sugar as you knead. If the fondant starts to stick to your work surface or hands, recover with shortening. If fondant starts to tear, add water, 1/2 tbsp at a time, kneading well after each addition. This is a lot of work…I find that it takes 7-8 minutes and several applications of shortening to get the fondant to a nice stretchable state. Shape into a ball, rub outside with shortening, and wrap in plastic wrap (2 layers) before refrigerating. I find the fondant easier to work with after being refrigerated. Let come to room temperature before attemping to knead. Color or flavoring can be added as you knead before rolling out. I covered my cake with white fondant, cut the “O” out of white fondant, then “painted” with red gel food coloring mixed with a little vodka. The alcohol evaporates, and it thins the gel enough to paint with. The green for the leaves I mixed food coloring with fondant and kneaded since it was such a small amount.

I suggest checking out Peggy’s site for a great in-depth tutorial on working with Fondant, complete with pictures. I’m not doing the process justice,as I am still learning.


Candy Buckeyes: adaped from AllRecipes.com and previously posted on my site.

Cake preparation and assembly:
I baked my cakes ahead of time, wrapped in plastic wrap x3 layers and froze them. I had to transport all of my cooking utensils with me to West Palm Beach, so I wanted to make the process as easy as possible.

Made the mousse, stuck in the fridge, then made the frosting.

I drew the block O on wax paper and used that as a stencil for trimming the cakes before filling and frosting.
I also used a simple syrup to brush on the cakes for a little added moisture. Filled with mousse, stacked cakes, crumb-coated with a light layer of buttercream and stuck in the fridge.

While the crumb-coat was setting, I made the fondant. I didn’t frost the cake until I had the fondant ready to go, as I wanted the fondant to stick to the buttercream well. I Cut out the block O, painted with red food coloring and let dry. Made the green fondant, and cut out my leaves. I adhered these pieces to the cake using a little bit of simple syrup. Tinted a little white buttercream red to pipe around the edges of the cake to give it a more finished look.

I made the buckeyes last, and placed them on and around the cake after I placed the cake on the dessert table.

One lesson learned: Warm, humid weather and buttercream don’t mix…as the evening went on I noticed the fondant had cracked and started to slide a little. All in all, I was super happy with my first big fondant cake! I thought it looked great on the dessert table, and it gave the newlyweds a cake to cut for pictures!


Photo Courtesy of Dawn V. Gilmore Photography


Wedding Cupcakes!

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I posted a few weeks ago about all of the reasons I’d been baking but not blogging. Well, I’m still kinda slacking in the blogging area…I just recently moved, am trying to get organized for a garage sale, and have been working up to 5 twelve+ hour days a week…so pretty please be easy on me!

I wanted to get a new recipe up- and this is a  good place to start. A few weeks ago, I posted pics of the Cupcakes and Grooms Cake I made for my brother Jason and his wife Monica’s wedding. These cupcakes were a combination of a few of my favorite recipes. The cupcakes themselves are the Champagne Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling, and the icing is very brightly colored Lemon Buttercream. I figured what better way to celebrate than with Champagne in the cupcake batter as well as the filling- and the bride and groom (and my new nephews!) were easily won over with a test batch I made for them in February. The wedding was held outdoors in West Palm Beach, Florida, and the Raspberry and Lemon were light enough to enjoy…not too heavy to keep anyone from dancing!

The Cupcake recipe is from The Pampered Chef…and it is one of my all time favorite cake recipes! I usually make cakes completely from scratch, but this recipe is easy, yummy, and so tasty…you’d never know it starts with a mix!! Perfect for when you have 100 cupcakes to make, and no time for mistakes!

Raspberry Filled Champagne Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream Icing adapted from The Pampered Chef and my own imagination


makes 24 standard cupcakes

Champagne Cake:
1 box white cake mix
3 egg whites
3/4 C champagne
1/2 C milk
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract

Raspberry Champagne Filling:
1 1/2 C frozen raspberries
1/3 C sugar
1/4 C water
1 C champagne, divided
2 Tbsp cornstarch

Lemon Buttercream Icing:
2 sticks  unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 lb powdered sugar
juice of 1 lemon
gel food coloring,  if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins with wrappers. Place cake mix in large bowl and whisk to break up any large lumps. Add champagne, milk, egg whites and vanilla and stir until combined (2-3 minutes by hand).

I use a Pampered Chef scoop to place batter in liners so my portions are equal and my cupcakes are of similar size. Fill liners 2/3 full. Place pans in oven, and bake 22-26 minutes, or until tops spring back when touched. Remove from oven to cool.

Prepare filling while cupcakes are baking, or ahead of time if making large quantities. Place 1/4 C champagne and 2 Tbsp cornstarch in small bowl, whisk until smooth and set aside.  Combine raspberries, remaining champagne, sugar and water in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat until boiling, stirring occasionally. Slowly add champagne-cornstarch mixture to pan, whisking constantly. Continue cooking 2-3 minutes to thicken mixture. If you don’t want seeds in the filling, pour through a fine mesh strainer to remove. Set filling aside to cool.

When cupcakes and filling are completely cool, prepare icing. Place butter in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer if you have one…like I FINALLY do!!) and beat on high speed until smooth. Add powdered sugar and lemon juice in small batches, mixing well after each addition. Add more or less lemon juice to achieve desired consistency.

If coloring frosting, add small amounts of gel food coloring to obtain desired color.

To fill cupcakes, cut a divot out of the center of the cupcake, place filling inside, place divot back on top..and frost as desired.

FYI: I had about 33 cupcakes with each color frosting…and because my sister-in-law wanted bright, vibrant tropical colors, each batch of frosting used approximately 1 small container of Wilton Gel Food Coloring.
This is what happens when you use that much frosting:

Gorgeous Teal Frosting…not so gorgeous teal tongues!
Photo courtesy of Dawn V. Gilmore Photography

Just for fun….most photos courtesy of Dawn V. Gilmore Photography

More to come soon…


Busy, Busy Girl!

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I’ve had a busy few weeks, and while I’ve done a lot of baking I haven’t had the time to do much blogging. I am a little behind with my posting, so I thought I’d at least post pics of my latest goodies and will follow up with recipes soon!!

Top of Beach Wedding Cake for Monica’s Bridal Shower Dinner

Beach Wedding Cake with White Chocolate Shells

Cupcake Toppers for Jason and Monica’s Wedding

Block O Groom’s Cake for Jason
Cake Table at Jason & Monica’s Wedding
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcake

Rose Cake

White Cupcakes with Chocolate & Maple Buttercreams Swirled

Be back soon with recipes!!