Archive for September, 2008

Halloween Cupcakes & the Cookbook Winner

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Well, today I put in a lot of time trying out some new decorated cupcakes for Halloween, so get ready for lots of posts about Halloween/Fall cupcakes!  I know most of my readers like tutorials, so I took the extra time to document the creations step-by-step…hope you like them!  Before I go into the cupcakes though I want to announce the winner of The Perfect Scoop…it’s #11 DanaD!!! Congratulations Dana…just email me your contact information and I will ship the book off to you.  Now onto the cupcakes!  This first posting is going to be all about pumpkins and Fall leaves.  

These pumpkins are quite easy to make and can be decorated any way you like them.  You can leave them all one color (which would be the easiest route) or you can choose to make a multi color pumpkin like I did. Here are some photos of the process…

First you mix some fondant colors together…I choose two different color oranges, white, and sage green. To get the swirls you have to fold the fondant over itself and then stretch/roll it out.  Continue doing the fold over and stretching method until you get the look you want. Then roll the fondant into one or two balls (depending on the pumpkin you want).

Then using a toothpick make a hole in the top and make ridges on the side of the pumpkin.

Next, using a little brown fondant or modeling chocolate make the bark/stem and use the toothpick to make grooves into it to give it a realistic look.

Use a little green fondant to make the vines and then stack the pumpkins if you are doing a double decker. Brush on luster dust on the pumpkin if you have it to give it a shimmery look. 

Now onto the Fall leaf cupcake!  

This leaf was made with modeling chocolate, which is basically corn syrup and chocolate melted together and formed into a paste/dough.  It tastes sort of like a tootsie roll (not quite as good) and is very easy to work with.  It holds its shape pretty well and is easy to mold into figures.  So here is how you do it…

First you roll out the modeling chocolate to whatever size you want it…mine is about 1/8″ thick.  Then use a silicone impression to imprint the look of a real leaf onto the modeling chocolate.

Next, cut out the leaf shape with an x-acto knife and brush it with luster dust to give it a copper shine.

Definitely try these out, they are a lot of fun!  If you don’t have modeling chocolate you can use fondant or marzipan and they will work great too!

Get ready for some more Halloween cupcakes this week…watch out because they might get a little scary!


Reeses Bars…Utterly Delicious! Plus another cookbook giveaway!

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

As promised here is the recipe and photos of the recent Reeses Bars I made.  This is a recipe from Pichet Ong’s book, The Sweet Spot, but I did tweak it slightly by using semi-sweet chocolate instead of milk chocolate.  Although I do love milk chocolate with some desserts, I am definitely more of a fan of semi-sweet and bittersweet, so I thought I would try it instead…and believe me…they turned out sooo good!  So without further ado here is the sinful recipe!

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Bars aka Reeses Bars

adapted from The Sweet Spot

Makes 8 Servings

Peanut Chocolate Base

1 T. plus 1 t. canola oil, plus more for greasing the pan

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

1/2 c. peanuts, toasted and chopped

1/4 t. salt

Peanut Butter Chocolate Filling

3 1/2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

1/2 c. plus 2 T. heavy whipping cream

3 T. cream cheese, at room temperature

3 T. creamy peanut butter, plus 1/2 c. for garnish

1/4 t. vanilla 

1/4 t. fleur de sel

Lightly grease a 9 x4-inch loaf pan and set aside.  Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl in 30 second increments, stirring well between each, until the chocolate is melted.  Add the peanuts, salt, oil and stir well.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared loaf pan and spread into an even layer.  Freeze, uncovered, until hard.  

Meanwhile, make the filling: Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl in 30 second increments, stirring well between each, until the chocolate is melted.  Set aside.  

Whisk the cream in an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until medium peaks form.  Transfer to another bowl and set aside.

Put the cream cheese, peanut butter (3 T.), and vanilla extract into the bowl of the electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on medium speed until light, fluffy, and doubled in volume, about 7 minutes.

Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, turn the mixer speed to low and add the melted chocolate in a slow, steady stream.  Once all the chocolate has been incorporated, gently fold in the whipped cream. 

Spread the filling on the frozen peanut chocolate base in an even layer and freeze until hard, at least 2 hours.

To unmold, invert the loaf pan onto a cutting board and gently tap the bottom to release the chocolate bar. Spread the peanut butter on top and sprinkle on the fleur de sel.  I also topped these bars with half of a reeses from Trader Joes and Valrhona Chocolate Crunchy Pearls.  Use a sharp serrated knife to cut the loaf crosswise into 1″ wide bars.  You can let them come to room temperature or eat them now…I prefer them cold.  

Hope you try these out…they are FABULOUS!!!

Well, since I do love sharing my dessert passion with others I thought I would do a book giveaway using one of my favorite books that I got this past year.  The book is David Lebovitz’s book, The Perfect Scoop!  If you don’t have this book then you are definitely missing out!  

To enter the giveaway contest just tell me your favorite flavor of ice cream and let me know by Saturday night!  Good luck eveyrone!


Cupcake Class Plus A Yummy Recipe

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

My cooking classes are in full swing and this time I have some fun photos from Prep Kitchen Essentials latest class on Cupcakes!!!  We had a great menu full of tasty cupcakes, fillings, and frostings and also played around with some fondant and marzipan.  We used the fondant to make little embellishments for the top of our cupcakes by imprinting them with scrapbooking stamps.  To check out this technique you can look at some of my past posts.  I will also show the easy pumpkin making technique in another post this week.  So here goes the menu for the class:

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cream Frosting

Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate Chunk Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Ganache Glaze

Candy Bar Cupcakes: Brown Sugar Cake, Caramel Filling, & Peanut Butter Chocolate Ganache Frosting


As you can see we had a great time and they came out with some yummy creations.  As always, I couldn’t leave you without one yummy recipe from the class so here it is!

Candy Bar Cupcakes

adapted from Demolition Desserts

Caramel sauce

1/2 cup water

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or fresh lemon juice

2 cup (14 ounces) granulated sugar

½ c. light corn syrup

2 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

In a medium saucepan with high sides, mix together the water, cream of tartar and sugar. Add the corn syrup and stir until just combined. Place the pan over high heat and cover. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the mixture comes to full rolling boil. Remove the lid, and cook until the syrup is a dark amber, 5-7 minutes. Remove the pan and add the butter. Carefully add the cream, standing back because it will sizzle and pop. It may form clumps, but that’s fine. The lumps will melt when the caramel is put back over the heat.

Place the pan over medium-low heat and stir gently with a whisk. Bring the mixture back to a boil and as soon as you see bubbles around the edge, remove it from the heat and strain the mixture into a heatproof container. Stir in the salt and vanilla and set aside to cool. Use immediately or refrigerate up to 2 weeks. 

Brown sugar cupcakes

3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

16 tablespoons (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened but still cool

1 ½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoon granulated sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 ½ cup whole milk 

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a 24 cup standard muffin pan with paper liners

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add the salt and set aside. In a large bowl, using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a handheld mixer, cream together the butter and sugars on medium speed for 3-4 minutes or until light and fluffy, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition until incorporated. Beat in the vanilla.

On low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions and the milk in two additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and beating after each addition for about 15 seconds or until combined. Divide the batter evenly among the cups.

Bake the cupcakes, rotating the pan after 10 minutes, for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cook in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, loosen the cupcakes from the pan, then let them cool completely in the pan before removing them.

Fill the cupcakes with the caramel sauce by putting the sauce in a 8-ounce squirt bottle with the tip cut to about 1/4-inch wide, plunging the tip into the center of the cupcake, and squeezing. When you see the top of the cupcake rise just slightly, stop squeezing the bottle and slowly pull the tip out of the cupcake. Don’t worry if some of the sauce comes out of the top; it’ll be covered with frosting. 


4 tablespoons (2 ounce) unsalted butter, softened but still cool

1 ¼ c. powdered sugar, sifted

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoon whole milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

10 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped

7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 heavy cream

6 tablespoons peanut butter


1 cup salted, roasted peanuts

Fleur de sel for sprinkling 

In a large bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds to 1 minute until light and creamy. Gradually add the sugar while continuing to beat, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. When all the sugar has been incorporated, add the salt, milk, vanilla and lemon juice, beating well after each addition. Then continue to beat on high speed for 5-6 minutes until fluffy. Set aside.

In a heatproof bowl, combine the chocolates. In a small saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat for 4-5 minutes or just until it comes to a boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the peanut butter. Let mixture cool for 10-20 minutes, then whisk in the butter frosting. You should have about 1 1/4 cups.

Spread the frosting over the filled cupcakes with an offset icing spatula. Garnish with the peanuts and a few grains of fleur de sel. 

Mini Desserts & Sugar Cookies

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

I am so excited to share photos with you from some of my last events.  This last week was my busiest yet for my business and by the end I was physically aching, but it was all worth it.  I also celebrated my 25th birthday this last Monday and am so excited that one of my birthday presents is going to be a trip to Florida to the Notter School of Pastry Arts where I will be lucky enough to take a three day cake decorating class from Colette Peters!!!  Colette is simple AMAZING and I can’t wait to watch her in action and learn some tricks of the trade.  So get ready for some fun posts in October as I document my class.  I have also never been to Florida, so if any of you have any “must eats” let me know!  

Well enough about that, lets get onto the desserts!  So this last week I had an order for 1,000 mini desserts for my church’s leadership & launch party.  The fun part about this menu is they left the choices up to me, so I got to try a couple new dessert ideas and play around with fun presentation ideas.  Overall the party went really great, but as I said earlier…I was so happy when it was all over.  Here are some photos of the goodies!

My Grandma’s famous caramelized party mix (not the savory kind).  This stuff is beyond addicting…don’t doubt it’s deliciousness!  I thought it would be fun to put them in paper cones, so I had my husband build me a custom paper cone holder that turned out just perfect!   

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting!

Chocolate cups filled with Chocolate Mousse and topped with Valrhona Crunchy Chocolate Pearls.

A view of one of the tables.  My brother-in-law made me this stand!  It is perfect because each part comes off…there is a total of 6 tiers, so it is nice that I can customize it to any party size.  Thanks Wes!

Mini Monster Cookies…peanut butter, oatmeal, chocolate chunks, M&M’s, and lots of sugar!

Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Pies with Oreo Crust and Chocolate Ganache Swirl.

Mini Keylime Pies!  Love the meringue tops!

Of course I couldn’t pass up a chance to use Bakerella’s adorable idea of cake pops.  I did three different kinds…Red Velvet, Buttermilk Banana, and Chocolate. These are so tasty, so if you haven’t tried them out I recommend you do!

And finally a last view of one of the tables.

Besides that order I had another 500 cookie order, but this time it was for USC…of course it had to be due on the same day!  Anyways, they were throwing a huge volunteer recognition party and needed some sweet treats for their guests.  These cookies were again made with edible frosting sheets like my last order.  You can click here to see the whole process of the last order.  

Thanks for taking the time to check out my photos!  I do love being able to share them with you!

Fun, Food, & Great Friends

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

Well, after some pretty busy work weeks I found myself with a free weekend night (a rare thing for me) and so some friends and I planned a last minute summer BBQ. We all love good food so instead of buying in lots of stuff we all brought dishes…it was so much fun!  I made a total of four things with the help of my friend Kate. I tried a new recipe from Food & Wine magazine and absolutely loved it.  The recipe is from Sue Zemanick, who was voted “Best New Chef” by Food & Wine magazine a few months back.  The recipe was Chile-Lime Crab Salad with Tomato & Avocado.  I highly recommend trying it out and not skimping on the the quality of the ingredients.  This salad is so fresh and tasty, but must have top quality ingredients for you to get the full experience.  


Like I said, we had a fabulous night and of course I had to fully document it with fun photos.  I also have to thank my friend Matt for providing some great eye candy for you too…I can always count on him for good photos!  So to let you in on the rest of the menu we had Crostini with Burrata, Olive Tapenade, Arugala, & Prosciutto, a delicious Farro, Cherry Tomato, & Arugala Salad made by my private chef friend, Jonathan, homemade grilled pizzas by my chef friend, Brian, and two desserts by yours truly…I will describe more later!  So I hope you enjoy checking out the photos!

And for dessert I made Sour Cream & Lemon Sorbet with Gingersnap Cookies and Pichet Ong’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars.  Both desserts were extremely yummy! I will be doing a full post on the Reese’s Bar to come so watch out for them because they will knock your socks off!

Thanks for checking them out! Here is the recipe for the Chile-Lime Crab Salad!

Chile-Lime Crab Salad with Tomato & Avocado

adapted from Sue Zumanick

Serves 4

  • 5 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon very finely chopped jalapeño
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, plus cilantro leaves for garnish
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound lump crabmeat, picked over
  • 1 1/2 Hass avocados, diced ( 1/2 inch)
  • 1/3 cup minced red onion
  • 1 large heirloom tomato, cut into four 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • Tortilla chips, for serving
  • In a small bowl, combine the lime juice with the olive oil, vegetable oil, jalapeño, chopped cilantro, honey and garlic. Season the dressing with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, toss the crab with 3 tablespoons of the dressing and season with salt and pepper. In a medium bowl, gently toss the avocado with the red onion and 2 tablespoons of the dressing; season with salt and pepper.

New Cooking Classes

Friday, September 5th, 2008

Cooking classes are definitely a huge passion of mine.  As some of you might know, before I went into the pastry field I was actually studying to be an elementary school teacher.  All of my life this is the job I thought I was going to go into and was blessed to be able to work as an aide for many years.  I absolutely loved teaching, but felt that God was leading me into a new passion and I jumped head first into it and have never turned back since.  However, God knew He didn’t give me the love for teaching and sharing my passions with others for nothing and has helped me find ways in this new field to share and bless others.  I feel so honored to be able to help and guide others that share my same passion for desserts and food and inspire those that never knew they had it within them.  I have loved being able to teach classes at Prep Kitchen Essentials in Seal Beach and at my church Rockharbor in Costa Mesa and now I am excited to announce a new opportunity that I have been given.  This month I am starting to teach cake decorating classes at MiraCosta College in Oceanside, CA.  I am teaching three separate courses that consist of three classes each.  Here are the three classes…

Module 1 – Basic Cake Decorating (9/08-10/08) $120

This relaxed and friendly course takes you through the basics of using a
variety of icings to decorate typical cakes required for birthdays,
graduations, etc.  You will be shown techniques related to piping, use
of modeling paste for flowers and ornaments, and the covering of cakes
using a variety of icings tools and equipment. This will be taught as a
beginners level course.  Perfect for either the recreational cake
designer or the individual who wishes to gain professional skills.

Module 2 – Wedding Cakes (10/08-11/08) $120
This course is suitable for creative cake-makers who may have completed
a beginners cake-decorating course. The course will primarily focus on
the techniques and styles needed to decorate beautiful wedding cakes.
Please do not sign up for this class if you are not familiar with the
basic principles of cake decorating.

Module 3 – Specialty Cakes (11/08-12/08) $120
This course caters for participants who wish to advance their basic
skills.  Learn a variety of new, contemporary techniques using icing and
fondant, allowing you to create beautiful and unique cakes.  On
completion of the course, students will have a greater understanding of
cake design and the satisfaction and confidence to further their

The classes still have spots left in them and are priced quite low for how much information you will be learning in them.  If you are interested in signing up just check out their website and they can give you all the information.  Hope to see some of you there!

Well before leaving I wanted to share some photos with you from my cooking class at Rockharbor.  This class was on appetizers and we had a great time!  The menu was…

Sun-Dried Tomato Dip with Pita Chips

Caribbean Shrimp Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

Crostini with Fresh Mozzarella, Arugula, Prosciutto, & Olive Tapenade


I wanted to pass on this recipe of Ina Garten’s from Barefoot Contessa.  Her recipe for Sun-Dried Tomato Dip is fantastic and extremely easy…a double winner in my book!  I highly recommend that you try it!

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