Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Home-Made Pop Tarts

I have a friend, Muffin, who's youngest (age 9) was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3.  He has been on a gluten-free, casein-free diet since shortly after being diagnosed.  One of the foods that she has not been able to find a substitute for is Pop-Tarts.  According to a lot of the people on the message boards she frequents, they haven't found one either.

Since I love a challenge, lol, I decided to see if I could come up with something that might work.  I started my search online, and was led to this website.  Now, the major problem that I could see with making pop-tarts gluten free is the pie dough.  After much research, I found out that gluten-free pie dough does not generally act like regular pie dough.  The gluten in regular pie dough is what gives it it's elasticity and ability to be picked up and placed in a pie plate, etc...  There are many combinations of all the gluten-free flours that can be mixed in as many different combo's as there are people.  Since I am not made of money, lol, I wasn't about to start experimenting with all the gluten free flours available.

In my travels online, I ran across Gluten Free Bisquick! this gave me some ideas.  I read the ingredient list, and it seemed to be basically gluten-free flours with leavening added to them.  So, I decided to do a little test with the original recipe I found for homemade pop-tarts.  The recipe is flour, butter, shortening and water.  I made it without the butter, since my friend's son can't have regular butter, and his butter substitute does not behave like normal butter.

So, I mixed together flour, shortening and water until it formed a ball.  I only made a small amount, since it was only a test of the recipe.

The recipe called to cut the dough into rectangles (ala pop tarts), but I used round cutters.

The recipe called for jam to fill the pie dough with.  I used Polaner All-Fruit because that's what I had.

So, I put about a half tsp between two small circles of dough, crimped the edges together with a fork, and popped it into a pie plate and then into the oven.  I baked it at 425 for about 6 minutes.  The recipe said it should brown, which it didn't, so I think next time it needs to bake a little longer.  Here's what I ended up with:

I am heading over to my friend's house on Sunday for dinner and to exchange gifts.  We are going to attempt to make pop-tarts with Gluten Free Bisquick, soy-free shortening (yeah, he's allergic to soy too), water, and jam.

The icing for the pop-tarts will be confectioner's sugar and his milk.  It won't be able to be put on until after the pop-tarts come out of the toaster.  That's something else we have to test....whether these can be reheated in the toaster like regular pop-tarts.

I'll be sure to report on our fun!

Some more goodies :)

I didn't get a chance to take pictures of my Christmas baskets until today.  The other's will have to wait until I give them out, lol.  I gave some out on Christmas Day, but forgot to take pictures of them.

So, without further ado:

Here's a close-up of the inside:
This basket is for a family of four (two adults and two children).

Friday, December 24, 2010

Slowly but Surely!

Well, started this morning by getting some ganache I made on Tuesday, out of the fridge to roll truffles with.  Turns out the ganache was too stiff, so I let it sit out on the counter and decided to put together my gift baskets.  I found these great Christmas themed metal pails at Christmas Tree Shops to use, and some red basket filler.  I got most of the baskets put together, but needed to finish my cocoa cones before the baskets would be done.  I also had the caramels to put in the baskets, but decided to "sprinkle" them into the basket, rather than tie them into a baggie.

So, I started making the cocoa cones and ran out of piping bags to do them with, and would have run out of marshmallows.  So, they got put on hold until I could get to the store.  By this time it was close to 2:30 and I had to get ready to head out.  Took my friend's kids out shopping to buy their parents a small gift for Christmas.  Since I forgot about the truffles until that point, I brought them with me to do at her house, lol.

Got the truffles all done and headed home after dinner.  Got home and realized I forgot to buy more marshmallows (did get the bags however!).  Also realized I need a cake mix for some cupcakes for Sunday.  That's the day I'm getting together with my friend, Muffin, and her family to celebrate Christmas.  There were also a few other things I needed, and weighed the pros and cons of heading out to Walmart at 9:30pm on Dec 23rd versus 9:30am on Dec 24th.

Dec 23rd won out.  So, I headed back out to the store.  Well.....I wasn't the only one with the same idea!!  The parking lot was mobbed, and by the looks of the carriages in the parking lot, there were none in the store.  So, I found a parking space and took a cart in with me.  I quickly located the items I needed and ended up getting in line at about 10:30pm.  I have to say, though, that WalMart really should have had more than ONE speedy checkout open!  However, I only ended up waiting in line for 15 minutes before it was my turn.  I was shocked!  I thought for sure 30min minimum.

Arrived home without incident and decided it was now too late to get into anything (11:15pm).  So, I called it a night, and will start bright and early tomorrow morning!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Gluten, Casein, Soy Free Baking!

I have a very dear friend (whom is nicknamed 'muffin', lol) who's youngest son was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 3 (he is now 9!).  Upon hearing the diagnosis, she immediately went online to research and learn absolutely everything she could about it, and in her research happened across the Gluten Free Casein Free Diet.  She read in depth about it (did you know caramel coloring has gluten in it??), spent a lot of time reading labels in the grocery store and put him on the diet.  The websites (and her pediatrician) did caution that it doesn't work for everyone, but she had to give it a shot.  When it comes to her kids, she is as OCD as it comes, and this diet is no exception!  She has found gluten in ingredients you wouldn't think it'd be in!  Besides the caramel coloring I mentioned before, Modified Food Starch can have it, Vanilla extract can have's amazing where it can hide!  Some might be thinking 'oh it's only a little bit', but every little bit makes a difference!

So, anyway, I have made cakes and cupcakes, etc... for him that he can eat since he was diagnosed and we found the appropriate ingredients that could be used.  A few years ago, it became apparent that he is also allergic to Soy.  Do you know how many products don't contain gluten or casein, but DO contain Soy??  A LOT!  She had to find new items for basically every dairy item he was eating, that now doesn't contain Soy.  His milk is hemp milk ($4+ for a QUART), his ice cream is coconut ice cream, etc....  She continually looks for foods that he can have the mimic what the rest of the family is eating (they can't afford to feed the entire family gluten/casein/soy free food).  Along the journey she has found some foods he absolutely loves and some that he despises.

In an effort to keep his Christmas treats the same as his brothers and parents, I set out on a mission to make everything I am making for the rest of the family, for him.  My list included: caramel, chocolate caramel, peanut brittle, cupcakes (chocolate w/choc icing), cake truffles, and peanut butter cookies.

Here are some of the ingredients I used in baking for him:

I was going to make the cake from scratch, but when I saw the cost of the ingredients necessary (xanthum gum for instance) to make from scratch.....the box of appropriate cake mix was a lot less.  It was yellow cake, but I found a way to turn that into chocolate cake. The company (123 Gluten Free) makes a chocolate cake, and the store had it in stock, but it had either milk or soy in it (I don't remember which).  To make it a chocolate cake, I melted 3oz of Baker's 100% Cacao chocolate and added it to the mix along with 3 Tbsp of cocoa powder and an additional 2Tbsp of his milk.  It made a very sense cupcake, but had a pleasing taste to it.
After the cupcakes were cooled, I broke up 5 of them with my Kitchen Aid to make cake truffles for him.  I used his milk as a binder, and melted some chocolate chips (by Enjoy Life) with a tiny bit of canola oil and used that to coat them.

I had some melted chocolate leftover, so I mixed it with some peanuts and made Peanut Bark for him!

 I attempted to make caramels and chocolate caramels for him.  I found a recipe online for Vegan Caramels, and figured I could simply substitute his butter and milk for those called for in the recipe.  I cooked the sugar, corn syrup, milk and butter in the pan, when it got to temp, stirred in the seeds from a vanilla bean, and it wasn't looking very caramel-y.  I decided to just put the chocolate in and make only chocolate caramels.  I did so, and poured the mixture into a pan lined with parchment and let it cool.  I went to cut it a few hours later, and it wouldn't cut.  It was like hard candy, rather than caramel.  I ended up using a rubber mallet and the point of a BIG knife to break it up into pieces.
Come to think of it........I may have omitted the milk from the pan........or at least half of it.  I seem to recall there being quite a bit left in the 32oz package of milk.......that could be why it's not caramel-y!!!

I also attempted to make Peanut Brittle.  It came out ok (I've made regular peanut brittle before).  The only difference was using his butter after it came off the stove rather than real butter. 

 My friend "Muffin" has a peanut butter cookie recipe that she makes for her son, so I thought I'd make him some for Christmas.  The recipe is super simple: 1 cup peanut butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 egg.  She said it yields 18 cookies (from walnut-sized dough balls).  I figured, 18 cookies isn't much, so I doubled the recipe.  I used my melon baller to portion out the dough balls, and ended up with 9.5 DOZEN cookies!  lol    At least he has a lot of cookies now!

I am planning to make chocolate frosting for the cupcakes, but that won't be until Saturday night probably.  I can't use Crisco (it has Soy in it), and I'm not confident his butter will react properly to make frosting, so Muffin said she had some Soy free shortening and gave me a cup of it for the frosting.  The tub has approximately 2-3 cups in it and is $8!  I was grateful that she gave me a cup of it.  She only uses it to season her cast iron pans so she can use them to cook food he is eating (as well as the rest of the family), so the tub lasts a loooooong time!

Tomorrow's plan is to get all the baskets packed up to give out on Saturday.  Also to get some truffles rolled and coated in cocoa for my mom as a surprise for Christmas :)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Relaxing Day (kind of) :)

Today was sort of a breather, lol.  I only had to bake two cakes and some cupcakes, and decorate them for tomorrow.

I started by getting up late, lol, and having breakfast.  I first mixed up one of the chocolate cake mixes for the cake (two layer, 11" hexagon), got that in the pan and into the oven.  Then I mixed up a box of yellow cake for the cupcakes.  I filled the cupcake papers/pans and ended up with 22 cupcakes.  I am going caroling with my friend's family tomorrow (that's what the cake is for) and on our route, we sing at a Senior Center.  The cupcakes are for the senior center, and 22 did not look like enough for everyone at the center.  So, I mixed up another box of yellow cake, and filled more cupcake papers.  I ended up with 44 cupcakes total - that seemed MUCH better!  Once the first cake came out of the oven, and it's pan, I washed it and mixed up the other chocolate cake mix and poured it in.

While everything was baking and cooling, I figured I'd make the frosting for all of this.  I have been using a non-crusting buttercream recipe lately, I find it tastes better and no 'crunchy' icing!  My plan was to cover the hexagon cake with fondant, and there's no way the non-crusting b/c would stand up under the fondant.  So I made a batch of regular crusting b/c.  When I tasted it, it was SWEET!!!!  So, I mixed up a batch of non-crusting and then mixed them together, lol.  Much better!

For the cupcakes I wanted to use the non-crusting b/c, so made a batch of that.  I had a lot of leftover white chocolate buttercream in the fridge, so took that out and added about a third of it to the b/c.  It tasted awesome!  It didn't look like enough b/c, so I made up a second batch of it, adding another third of the white chocolate b/c to it.  I thought I'd add some raspberry jam to the leftover and use it to fill the hexagon with.  I started decorating the cupcakes, and it quickly became apparent that there would not be leftover icing, lol.  I bought a new cupcake tip and it uses A LOT of icing!  So, I got the cupcakes decorated, and sprinkled red and green non-pareils on them.

I had used just about all the white chocolate non-crusting b/c, so I made two batches of non-crusting, mixed the rest of the leftover white chocolate b/c in, and then mixed in raspberry jam until it was the color and taste I wanted for a cake filling.  Can you say YUMMMMMMMMM :)

Next, I started on the cake.  The original plan was to use Wilton's medium petal pan and cover it in fondant, then put fondant trees on the side.  Well....I couldn't find the petal pan (big surprise!) so I used the hexagon pans.  I leveled and torted the cakes.  I stacked them, using the crusting buttercream for an icing dam, and filling with the raspberry white chocolate b/c.  Four cake and three filling layers later I had a stacked cake!  I started to frost the hexagon cake with the remaining crusting b/c and it quickly became apparent that there was barely enough icing for the sides, and not enough for the top.  I also decided about this time that I was in no mood to deal with fondant, so I was gonna leave the cake b/c covered.

I decided to pipe the sides of the cake with a star tip (I used 19).  The only problem was, all of the icing was basically on the sides of the cake (some was falling off though, lol).  I took my bench scraper and very carefully scraped off ALL of the icing that I could, with minimal crumbs.  It was pretty successful, only a few crumbs.  I then loaded up a bag with my star tip and my icing.  I started piping the sides of the cake, up and down, kind of like big zigzags.  I actually managed to pipe all six sides, lol!  When I was done, there was not enough white icing to finish the top of the cake however.  So, I looked over at the pink raspberry icing and figured, what the hell, I'll use that.  I piped a shell border around the top of the cake to finish off the sides (the bottom didn't need one).

I decided to alternate pink and white stripes around the outline of the hexagon, on the top of the cake.  I ended up doing two stripes of pink, one white, one pink, one white, then started over again with two pink.  I used a zig zag motion with a tip 13 star.  It came out looking really cute, almost like a rug, or a sweater.  It occurred to me, while piping the stripes on the cake, that the pink I ended up with is the same shade of pink that my friend's recently deceased grandmother loved.  She always came to the carol sing every year.  The cake looked nice, but I didn't want it to be only a reminder of Grandma, so racked my brain with how to Christmas-fy it.

I looked through my stash of Christmas candy decorations and found a small green candycane Christmas tree I got last year on clearance (it's candy, it doesn't go bad, lol).  I wanted to see how it looked on the cake, but without messing up the icing on the cake.  So I cut a straw long enough to go into the cake and hold the tree an inch or so above, and put it together.  It looked really nice, but now the sides needed something on them.  I decided to take mini candy canes and put them on the sides.  So I cut open twelve of them, piped the back of them so they'd stick, and stuck them on.  It came out really nice looking!

Here are some of the cakes and cupcakes I've done in past years for the Carol Sing:

Friday, December 17, 2010

It never ends........

......getting ready for Christmas, that is!  I was able to finish dipping the rest of the cake truffles today.  I also dipped the dog bones, one side into carob the other into a yogurt coating.  Then I bagged up the cookies, caramels, boxed up the cake truffles, bagged up the dog and kitty treats, made some cocoa cones, put a few baskets together (I need them for this weekend).

On to the pictures!!!!!!!!

Orange cake with dark
chocolate coating

 Yellow cake with milk chocolate coating

Chocolate cake with mint dark chocolate coating

  Chocolate cake with peanut butter coating

Butter pecan cake with
butterscotch coating

I then packaged up dog treats: bacon balls (gingerbread man), honey peanut butter treats (tree in the back), soft pumpkin treats and soft beef treats (small bag with presents on it), dipped Milk Bones (carob and yogurt), and yogurt bark (with sprinkles!)

They were packaged into a cute plastic container:

Then I packaged up chicken flavored kitty treats in these cute containers!

After I was done with all the pet treats, I packaged up the cake truffles into boxes and tubs:
There is no picture of the boxes, since the one I took ended up very blurry!

I also packed up a couple of the baskets, but put them in the car before remembering to take a picture.  There will be more next week, and I'll be sure to take pictures of them!

Tomorrow is baking cupcakes and cakes, and decorating them both. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cake Truffles

Today was cake truffle dipping day!  Since I had to find all the supplies for dipping the cake truffles (and because I slept late and was lazy, lol) I didn't get started until about 2pm today.  I was able to get six of the ten flavors dipped today!  For some reason, there's only pictures of three of them however, lol.  I'll have to find out what happened to the other three pics and post them tomorrow. 

Since I had four flavors that were getting dipped into white chocolate, I started with those:

Spice cake with White Chocolate coating

Lemon cake with White Chocolate coating

Orange cake with White Chocolate coating (Creamsicle)

I decided to use colored non-pariel's to designate the different flavors of the cake inside.  I purchased red and green ones (for raspberry and mint, respectively), but didn't think about the other flavors when I was in the store.  Fortunately I had white ones, so I used some petal dust and lemon extract and colored them the colors I needed (orange and yellow)!

As I mentioned, before I started, I had to find my supplies.  The only thing I couldn't find were the small candy cups (mine were different holiday prints) that I had purchased the day after Thanksgiving (yes, I'm crazy!).  I called my best friend (we went shopping together) and the bag was not in her house, so I figure they'll turn up eventually.  Probably right after I give out all my gifts, lol.  While looking, however, I came across a bunch of candy cups that have holly prints on them (and match the boxes I have!), so I will use those and the others can be saved for next year.  It always seems that my things are hiding on me! 

Since I am a HUGE Survivor fan, I had to watch it tonight (finale is on Sunday!), but didn't want to take the time to watch it and do nothing.  I still had to cut and wrap my chocolate caramels, so I cut them before the show started, and wrapped them in foil squares while I was watching.

They don't look it, but they are the chocolate caramels!  They filled the better part of a gallon zip top bag!

Tomorrow I am planning to finish up dipping the rest of the truffles, make peanut brittle (because I don't have enough to do!), dip some dog bones into carob and yogurt coating, make cocoa cones and package up all the treats for the weekend.  Friday I have to bake and decorate a cake and cupcakes for Saturday.

A friend's family goes caroling every year, the Saturday before Christmas, and for the last few years I've been going with them.  It's a little corny, but it's tons of fun!   Where we go, there is a Senior Center that we go in and sing for, and I have been bringing cupcakes for them to enjoy.  I always make the time to make them, because I think they'd be disappointed if I didn't bring them, lol.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cookies, cookies, and more cookies!

Today I finished up baking the rest of the cookies.  I got a late start, since I had an appointment this morning.  For some reason, I was completely exhausted by the time I was done!  I baked up the Orange Snaps that had been in the fridge since yesterday (was too tired last night to bake them), and mixed up and baked what were supposed to be Cherry Bomb cookies.

I say 'supposed to be' cause that's not what they ended up.  The premise of the cookie was to take 'a little bit' of cookie dough and wrap it around a maraschino cherry (with it's stem sticking out), then bake them.  Well.......I tried a few and realized very quickly I did not have the patience for that.  So then I thought I'd roll them in a ball and push a quarter cherry into the top.  That didn't work out all that well either.  So I ended up chopping up a bunch of maraschino cherries (sans stems) and mixing them into the dough BY HAND.  Yes...with my actual hand. was pretty gross.  No...I don't plan on doing that again!

I started rolling them in balls, but they were a pain to do that.  So I put the dough in one of my piping bags (same one from yesterday) and piped out the cookies.  That went sooooo much better!   They came out really cute too, once they were baked.

Here they are:

Here are the Orange Snaps:
I forgot to take the pic while they were still
on the cooling rack

After the cookies were baked and packaged up, I finally got around to cutting the caramels and wrapping them.  I have waited to cut them until I had the time to wrap them, otherwise they will just stick back together again.  I cut all of the regular caramels and started wrapping them.  I had silver foil, red foil, gold foil and silver with holly leaves on it.  So I chose the holly leaves and started wrapping.  I counted the caramel as I was cutting them and realized that I had way more caramels than wrapping foil, lol.  So, I wrapped them in the silver foil with holly leaves, and finished with the plain silver.  I am going to head out to the store tomorrow and buy more of the red foil to wrap the chocolate caramels with.

Here are the caramels:

and here they are after being wrapped and bagged up:

Tomorrow's plan is to get all the cake truffles dipped, chocolate caramels cut and wrapped, and hopefully the dog bones dipped also.  Then Thursday I would like to get all the baskets made up.  I may decide to make peanut brittle also, but that's pretty fast to do.  I still have to make the cocoa cones and a cake and cupcakes for Saturday.  Sometimes there doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day!

Monday, December 13, 2010

It's...................Cookie Day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As the title said, today was cookie day.  I got a LOT of cookies baked today.....four of the six varieties I had planned to get done.  The other two will get done tomorrow.

All of the cookie recipes that I am using can be found in Joann Fluke's Hannah Swenson mystery books.  The recipe's are not available online because they are publishing a cookbook next fall.  However, you can see a list of the recipes and which book they are in.  I simply borrowed the books I needed from the library.

Without further ado, here are the cookies that were baked today!

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies
White Chocolate Supremes

Peanut Butter Melts

Boggles (Cranberry-Oatmeal Cookies)

On the docket for tomorrow are Cherry Bombs and Orange Snaps.  I also still need to cut my caramel candies and wrap them.  After that, I have to dip my cake truffles and coat some dog biscuits in carob and yogurt.  Those are Wednesday's activities, lol.  Thursday will hopefully be reserved for packaging up all these yummy treats to start handing out this weekend!  Friday I am baking and decorating a cake and cupcakes for Saturday.  Somewhere in there, I need to make Cocoa Cones also.  Hopefully there isn't anything I have forgotten!  

Oh!  Next week I am endeavoring to make gluten/casein free cake truffles and caramel.  Possibly caramel apples also - we'll see!



Pant - pant - pant.................

That's what I heard most of yesterday.  Why is that?  I was baking dog and cat treats all day.  My dog quickly figured out that he was getting to taste test what was getting baked.  He was a very happy, and good, dog all day!  Not that he isn't a good dog anyway, lol. 

Judging by his expressions and the look in his eyes after eating one (anyone with a dog knows what I mean), he loved all of them.  Oddly, he seemed to like the cat treats the most, lol. 

I made the following dog treats:
Bacon Balls (bacon fat was among the ingredients)
Peanut Butter and Honey Dog Treats
Pumpkin Dog Treats (soft treats made with pureed pumpkin)
Soft Doggie Cookies (made with jarred beef baby food)
Kitty Treats (made with chicken broth)

There are a lot of treats in my refrigerator right now!  I made the Bacon Balls last year and they were more like bacon blobs (I think I used the wrong flour, or my bacon fat was liquid instead of semi-solid), and it didn't make many, so I made a double batch..........I have an entire gallon size ziplock bag FULL of them!  Guess one batch would have been plenty, lol.

The PB & Honey treats I ended up making four batches - two just didn't look like enough treats.  I made two batches of the Soft Doggie Cookies, and one batch of the pumpkin.  The pumpkin and the soft cookies I actually used a piping bag and big star cupcake tip to squeeze out - MUCH easier than using spoons like I did last year!  I made two batches of the Kitty treats also I believe.  I was making so much, I kind of lost track of how much I was making. 

I am also planning on dipping Milk Bones into carob and yogurt coating that I purchased, and decorating them with some crushed up colored bones and such.

Believe it or not, that was all finished by like 6 o'clock.  After eating, there wasn't enough time to make and bake cookies (plus, the butter wasn't softened), so rather than wasting the night, decided to make up the caramel and chocolate caramels.  Made both batches and poured them into 9x13 pans to cool, ate dinner, and by them it was almost 11pm, so I called it a night. 


Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Word of Advice about Kitchen Aid's

What's my advice???  If you have your HAND in the mixer bowl, keep your other hand FAAAAAAAR away from the speed knob!!!!!!!!!    How do I know this????  Eeeeeasy......I accidentally TURNED ON my Kitchen Aide with my HAND in the bowl!!  Yeah, it feels about how it sounds.  Thankfully I had my plastic beater blade in the mixer and not the metal paddle (yikes!).  Who knows what I actually did to my wrist, but with ibuprofen it's not so bad, and I'll go see the chiropractor next week and it will all be fine.

Anyway, lol, I did get the cake done this morning for the party tonight.  Amazingly enough, I got it stacked, filled and decorated in an hour and a half!  That's kind of like a miracle!  Thankfully it was not my piping hand that tangoed with the mixer blade!

Here is the cake:

Closeups of the top and bottom:

Thankfully I had the flowers and leaves pre-made and all I had to do was put them on the cake :)

Tomorrow's plan is to get the animal treats all baked, and possibly the caramel's also.  Tuesdays plan is to get all the cookies baked, and Wednesday to dip them all.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

A miracle may have occured today!

I actually got to work on my cake balls today!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I am soooooooooo excited!!!!!!!  Not only did I get to work on them....I got them all rolled (all 1,183 of them)!!!!

Now, 1,183 might sound like a lot, and it probably is, lol, but there are ten flavors that I am making.  They are not dipped in chocolate yet.  In fact, they are in cake pans, covered with Stretch-Tite, in a sealed plastic tote in my garage.  Thank goodness for cold weather in December!!!!  I don't know what I'd do without my extra 'refridgerator', lol!

So, you're probably wondering what flavors I'm making........well, here they are:

Orange truffles with Dark Chocolate Coating
Orange truffles with White Chocolate Coating
Raspberry truffles with Dark Chocolate Coating
Raspberry truffles with White Chocolate Coating
Chocolate truffles with Mint Chocolate Coating
Chocolate truffles with Peanut Butter Coating
Lemon truffles with White Chocolate Coating
Yellow truffles with Milk Chocolate Coating
Butter Pecan truffles with Butterscotch Coating
Spice truffles with White Chocolate Coating

Most of these I have made before, and they are fantastic!!  The raspberry and butter pecan are new this year.  Hopefully they'll go over as well as the spice did last year.  I have some ideas for other flavors.  These include: strawberry truffles, red velvet truffles, and cinnamon truffles.

To make my truffles, I make my regular doctored box mix cake in the flavor I want, let them cool, then bust them up in the kitchen aid mixer.  If the edges are hard, I cut them off.  Same with the bottom of the cake.  I used liquid creamer to bind the crumbs together.  I just pour a thin stream into the mixer while it's going, until the consistency is what I want.  I then use a melon baller to scoop out the mixture and roll it in my hands.

I was then faced with the problem of where to store them until I can dip them.  There's no way there was going to be room in the refridgerator.  So, I thought of the garage, and that's where they are now, lol.

So, the cake for tomorrow's party isn't done.  I just had to get the cake truffles rolled today.  I am going to get up early and decorate the cake tomorrow before I leave for the party.

Tune in tomorrow to see how that goes! 


Friday, December 10, 2010

..........and it continues...........

Today's plan was to get up fairly early (at least for me, lol) and spend the day baking.  Once I got up and had breakfast, I realized I needed to attend to my duties as head of the cake club that I belong too.  Once I was done with everything I could do today, it was 2pm and I was hungry for lunch, lol.  So, I had lunch and proceeded to mix up the first cake to be baked today - raspberry cake.  It was a recipe I found online that started with a box white cake mix.  Yes....I bake with box mixes.  It's a personal choice, and I'm quite happy with it.  Mixed up and baked the raspberry cakes.  They came out great!  I tasted a small bite of it, and was shocked at how good it tasted.  Once it cooled, I proceeded to crumble it up in my Kitchen Aid in preparation for making cake truffles.

I then had to go out and pick up my car, and while out had dinner, lol.  Got home and baked the cakes I need for the weekend for a celebration cake for my cousin's wife.  So, I mixed up an baked the lemon cakes (added a few drops of lemon oil to the mix for an extra boost), let them cool and packaged them up to keep them fresh until tomorrow when I decorate it.  By this time it was close to midnight, and I called it a night, lol.

Tomorrow's plan is to roll all the cake truffles in preparation for dipping them.  Hopefully I can get around to dipping them also, but I don't think that's going to happen.  I have the party on Saturday, so hopefully they will get dipped on Sunday.  I'm busy for part of Monday, so next week I am planning on getting the 6 varieties of cookies baked, 2 batches of caramel made and 5 varieties of pet goodies made. 

Happy caking!


Thursday, December 9, 2010

It's always something.............

Why is it that when you have a plan of what you're going to do in a day, it always seems to be sabotaged?

I started out this morning by heading out to meet with a hotel to set up a function, and then proceeded to Lorraine's Cake Supply in Hanover, MA to get some butterscotch melting wafers for some of my Christmas treats.  Of course, I did not buy just what I went there for, lol!  After there, I had planned to head to the grocery store to finish up buying some ingredients, and then to another cake shop for some boards and boxes.

Turns out the car had other ideas!!  I guess it spent so much time at the dealer that it was homesick.....  I left Lorraine's and got on the highway to head to my next destination and noticed something red flash on the instrument panel on the dash.   At first I thought I was seeing things....then it happened again and stayed on.  It was the battery light, and after stopping and checking the owner's manual, learned that it meant the battery wasn't being charged while driving.  ABS light also kept flashing on and off.  Well......that pretty much nixed the trip to the grocery store, and I turned around and headed to the dealer.

Got there about 1:00 or so, told them what was going on.  About 3:30 or so, they came and said that I needed a new alternator, new rear brakes (old one's won't pass inspection, and mine is expired), and my brake fluid was black.  Great!  The service tech said it would be ready in 3 hours....I actually said to him 'Will it really be ready in 3 hrs??'.  Cause everytime they give me a time estimate, it's never ready at that time.  I told him I'd be back tomorrow to pick it up.  I had already been there 2.5 hours and was in no mood to be there another 3-4-5 hrs.  So, I called my wonderful brother and he came and picked me up and brought me home.

Since I didn't get to the grocery store (and wasn't going to have wheels to go tomorrow), my mom and I went out for dinner and then to the store and finally got home about 8:30.  Needless to say, I had no desire to do any baking or anything else.  So I decided to relax tonight and spend tomorrow baking and treating :)

Hopefully, there will be pictures for you tomorrow!


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas Treats

It is Christmastime - Yeah!!!  I love Christmas, it's my favorite holiday of the year.  I also love making Christmas treats.  For a few years, I've been giving them as Christmas gifts, and the recipients all seem to enjoy them! might be wondering....what kind of treats am I making?  Probably too many, lol!  Here is the list that I have come up with so far, hopefully I won't be adding any more - I seem to be running out of time to make them (eek!):
  * Cake Truffles - I am planning 10 different flavors of these.  They seem to be a love'em or hate'em kind of treat.  Most people I know love them, but there are a few that don't like them.  That's fine with me, and I do buy a gift for those that don't like them :)
  * Caramel Apples - These may get nixed.  I did a trial run of them, and it was ok, but I wasn't all that impressed with them.
  * Caramel Candies - These are stupendously delicious!!
  * Chocolate Caramel Candies - Haven't made these before, but how can chocolate and caramel be bad together?
  * Cocoa Cones - Assorted flavors
  * Rocher's - My first time trying to replicate a store-bought confection!
  * Cookies - Right now I think about 6 different varieties....this could change depending on time constraints however!

I also have a friend who's son is on a Gluten Free Casein Free diet.  I will be making him his very own cake truffles and peanut butter cookies.  

Last but not least - PETS!!  Can't leave them out, they love homemade treats too!  It was an experiment last year, and it seemed to go over VERY well!
  * Peanut Butter Honey Dog Treats
  * Bacon Balls - last years turned out to be bacon blobs, but I think I used the wrong flour, lol.  My dog did not complain about the taste!
  * Pumpkin Dog Treats
  * Dipped Dog Bones - store bought bones dipped in carob coating and yogurt coating
  * Soft Doggie Treats - a few friend's dogs have trouble eating hard crunchy treats, and I didn't want to leave them out
  * Cake Truffles - these may or may not get done....I found a recipe for Doggy Cake, and had the idea, lol
  * Kitty Treats - since many friends seem to have cats!

So far, I have 8 of the cake flavors baked for the cake truffles.  I have 2 more left to bake tomorrow.  No pictures yet, but perhaps I will remember to take some while in the process of making the truffles tomorrow!  Then again.....maybe not....don't want to give out ALL my secrets, lol

I will post pictures along the way, however.  I just haven't taken any yet.


White Rose Cake Show

Ohhhhhhhh, where to

The White Rose Cake Show was held the first weekend of November, in York PA.  It's about a 9hr trip from where I live.  Fortunately, we had an incident-free trip on the way there (not so much on the way home, but we'll get to that later).

I had originally intended to create one entry for the show.  However, once the cake was done, I decided that to add anything else to it would detract from the cake, so I ended up with two entries.

I had decided to do a cake based on daisies.  I tend to pick a flower/flowers and then design a cake around that.  I tried to think of a color I haven't used lately, and picked orange.  Not halloween/pumpkin orange, but rather a muted/subdued orange, almost tangerine like.  Amazingly enough, there were no real issues or aggravation laden moments with the cake or the flowers!  There are things I will do different in the future, and learned a few things while doing the cake, but I was actually pretty happy with it when it was finished.

Here is the cake that I entered:

The daisies and leaves are made from gumpaste, and have 3 layers of petals.  The stems are piped from royal icing.

The side scallops are done in royal icing, using a template to space them properly.

The border is done with tip 32, with drop strings piped over them.  Then little green dots are piped between the shells to tie in the green from the stems.

The cake won Second Place in it's category.

I had also made a lei of daisies that I had originally intended to put around the base of the cake.  After finishing the cake, I decided the lei would not improve the cake any, so I finished them up and entered them as their own entry.

The lei won First place in it's category.

If you read my entry the other day, about the Abby Cadabby cake, then you'll remember me mentioning car repairs.  I picked the car up the night before I left for the 300+ mile trip to York PA.  Unfortunately, the saga does not end there, oh no, it's gets A LOT better!

As I said above, the trip down to York was uneventful, as was the weekend.  We left York on Sunday night, and had planned to drive to New Jersey to stay the night (I's NJ....but it was half way home!), so that I didn't have to drive the whole 9hrs home the next morning.  Everything was going along fine, until we decided to make a pit stop about an hour from our hotel.  Got off the highway, and suddenly the car can't accelerate above 3k rpm's.  Shutting the car off and restarting it didn't work (hey, cars have computers, you never know, it could have worked).  I, fortunately, drive a standard, and was still able to shit, albeit a little earlier than I usually do.  So, I made the executive decision to continue on our way to the hotel, an hour away....driving no more than 55mph (I normally drive 65-70).

Got to the hotel, and looked up the closest Honda dealer (yes, I'm one of those that takes the car to a dealer).  There was one 3 miles away that would be open in the morning.  Great...went to sleep and planned to be up and at the dealership when it opened.  Got there, and explained to the service manager was was going on, and what work had just been done on the car.  At this point, I'm thinking it has to be related to the head gasket work, since they pretty much had my engine all apart.  After a few hours, and a few phone calls to my home dealership, it was determined that there was an oil leak somewhere, and that I HAD NO OIL IN MY CAR!  They found the leak...apparently a seal had not been placed back correctly, which caused ALL the oil to leak out.  The leaking oil, subsequently, damaged some other parts in the engine - FABULOUS!  This dealership in NJ could fix it, but wouldn't have the parts until the next day.  After a few phone calls to my home dealership, they agreed to reimburse me for the repairs in NJ, as well as a hotel room, since I would not be going home that day.

Got a call the next morning at the hotel, and the car was finished and ready earlier than I had expected (noon).  Got a ride to the dealership, paid for the repairs, and were on our way.  Stopped and topped off the tank, and headed for home.  We took the Tappanzee Bridge home (no way I was dealing with GWB), and went to accelerate out of the toll plaza, and AGAIN couldn't accelerate over 3k rpm's.  We were no more than 35 MILES from where we picked up the car!!  I pulled over and called the service manager.  This time, shutting the car off and turning it back on somewhat solved the immediate problem.  We continued home, without stopping, mostly without incident.  Got off the highway, about 10 miles from home, and it happened again.  I figured, I was close enough, and drove home.  Checked the oil when I got home AND THERE WAS NONE!

I called my home dealership the next day, had the car towed to it, and told them I didn't want the car back until it was fixed, and expected a free loaner car.  Got the car back a week later, no charge, and so far it's been ok.  Turns out the technician that did the head gasket work, nicked some housing in the engine that caused the oil to spew out.  UGH!!  At least it's fixed.  It was one hell of a few weeks though!