Archive for July, 2009

Don’t want to bake? Place your orders today!

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

logo-frosted

Introducing …(drumroll please)
Frostedcakes, cupcakes & homemade treats!
  We are now accepting orders for the Akron-Canton area.
Email us at Jody@LifeWithCake.com if you are interested in ordering up some of our scrum diddly umptious goodies!

Have Your Cake and Donut Too

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009
donut-cupcake

Now you can have your cake and donut too...

With so many tempting treats out there, it’s hard for me to pick just one favorite.  However, there are few foods that can make me weak in the knees like a warm, hot off the press, Krispy Kreme original glazed donut.  Maybe it’s the way they melt in your mouth; maybe it’s how light and airy they are; or maybe it’s their magical aroma.  Whatever it may be, they give me a warm fuzzy feeling every time I eat one. 

Today while enjoying a warm Krispy Kreme I came across a new donut they are offering…the MiniKrispy Kreme Minis come in original glazed, chocolate glazed, and chocolate glazed dipped in sprinkles.  These little guys gave me the inspiration to try out a new cupcake today – The Coffee and Donut Cupcake! 

I have seen a few versions of this cupcake on the Internet already and decided I needed to put my own twist on it.  I wanted the base of the cupcake to be dense, yet moist, able to withstand a dunk in coffee.  The cake also couldn’t be overly sweet, lord knows the donut and frosting would handle that aspect.  So a sour cream coffee cake cupcake became the base of this masterpiece.  Coffee Swiss meringue buttercream would make the perfect creamy pillow for the mini donut to rest upon. Viola…a divine breakfast treat!   

Coffee Cake Cupcakes
Makes 16 cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

1.) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
2.) Line muffin pans with paper liners.
3.) Cream butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy, use paddle attachment. With your mixer set on a low speed, add the eggs one at a time…blending well after each egg. Add vanilla, buttermilk and sour cream, blend until smooth.
4.) In a separate bowl sift all dry ingredients together.
5.) With mixer on low speed add dry ingredients and beat just until combined.
6.) Fill cupcake liners and bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and your cake tester (or toothpick) comes out clean.

Note:  A hint of cinnamon would also be nice with these, or even a streusel topping. I chose to go simply this first time around.

How cute are these?

How cute are these?

Coffee Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Makes 4 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature

Directions:

1.) In a small bowl, dissolve espresso powder in 2 tablespoons hot water; set aside. In the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer, combine egg whites and sugar. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar has dissolved and whites are hot to the touch, 3 to 5 minutes.

2.) Transfer mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix on low speed, gradually increasing to high speed, until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 10 minutes.

3.) With machine running on low speed, add butter to the egg whites, beating until smooth. Add the espresso mixture, and continue beating until incorporated.

“Meating” in Buenos Aires

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

buenos-aires

Continued from Eating my way through Buenos Aires

Thursday- Joe headed to lunch with his colleagues at Osaka, which I should mention was the best sushi experience he has ever had – in Argentina, no less.  I spent the day with a new friend, Alison – a wife of one of Joe’s colleagues.  They live in Buenos Aires now, so I felt privileged to be receiving a guided tour of the area.  We had such a nice time, talking, eating and sight-seeing. 

Alison took me to La Recoleta Cemetery. La Recoleta Cemetery is a must see when in Buenos Aires – it was an educational, yet somewhat emotional experience.  We walked slowly through the corridors that housed over 4,500 mausoleums, each unique – each with its own family history and story.  One of the most famous is the mausoleum of Eva Peron.  

The Tomb of Eva Peron in Recoleta Cemetery

The Tomb of Eva Peron in Recoleta Cemetery

It was at this point that my camera battery died, so I had to rely on my cell phone camera – that was a real disappointment – considering I didn’t pack the charger. 
La Recoleta Cemetary
La Recoleta Cemetary
After returning to the hotel, I realized just how tired I really was.  My feet were burning from walking around the city in cute, but rather uncomfortable shoes, so Joe and I decided to stay close to the hotel.  We grabbed a quick dinner at one of the two Indian restaurants in the area, Mumbai.  In our usual fashion, we ordered Matter Paneer, Vegetable Biryani, Chicken Tikka Masala and Naan.  The Indian was comparable to some of the better Indian meals we have eaten; I was satisfied and full when we left.

Friday- Friday I worked most of the day, but we did have a chance to head out for lunch at a local Hungarian restaurant, Turandot.  Joe had the chicken paprikash; I ordered something similar, but with shrimp.  I must say we were a bit stumped when ordering since the menu was completely in Spanish.  After stumbling to place our order – we waited in anticipation to see what would be delivered to the table. 

Chicken Paprikash at Turandot

Chicken Paprikash at Turandot

The chicken paprikash was good, more oil based than cream based – but very flavorful.  The flavors reminded me of my mother’s chicken paprikash – so of course, I liked it.  The shrimp dish was served with a similar sauce next to rice.  I love saucy dishes that are served with rice – I think that is why I enjoy Indian food so much.

For dinner, we headed to La Cabrera, well known for its steaks. La Cabrera was located in Palermo Viejo, a few blocks from our hotel.  If you do a search for La Cabrera you will read reviews from people all over the world praising their prime cuts of beef as the “best in the world“, “the best steak I ever had” and so on.  For those vegetarians, don’t bother – this restaurant is strictly for carnivores.

This was hands down the culinary highlight of the trip, as well as one of my most memorable meals I have experienced. Rumor has it that this restaurant is extremely difficult to get a reservation at, especially on a Friday night.  Luckily, the group we were going with had some “connections.” 

We arrived around 8:30 and the place was packed, a line extended out the door onto the sidewalk.  That alone told me we were in for a treat, considering that other restaurants are dead at this time.

Our group of eight was led back to a cramped circular table in the back corner of the restaurant.  The décor was shabby chic meets steakhouse, the atmosphere was vibrant and fun with several waiters swirling about the small space.

Since we were dinning with locals, they knew exactly what to order – thank goodness, because I sure didn’t.  We started with a few orders of the Chorizo, and some provoleta, a grilled provolone cheese that is mixed with herbs.  The Chorizo was served with chimichurri and a cheese sauce; very gluttonous indeed, sausage eaten with cheese sauce.  The provoleta was brought to the table hot and melty, and then scooped onto your plate.  Spread on bread or eaten straight – simply put, it was a mound of melted, gooey, cheesy goodness.  The Chorizo was just amazing – there are very few things that I would describe as succulent, but this was one of them.   The snap of the outer skin as you bite into it, then a rush of fatty, salty, juiciness rolls over your tongue – incredible.

A huge selection of "sides" are included with your meal...

A huge selection of "sides" are included with your meal...

Each cut of meat arrives at the table on a long wooden board, accompanied by several small ramekins filled with a variety of sides and sauces.  Not only do you get these ramekins with your entrée, they bring out additional ramekins filled with even more sides for the table to share. I love this concept – it encourages sharing. There were so many little bites to taste.  It also appeared that each main came with a different combination. All night these ramekins were making their way around the table for people to sample.  They included pureed sweet potatoes and squash, potato salads, roasted sweet peppers, marinated garlic, tapenades, hearts of palm, a variety of cheeses, dips, sauces…the list goes on and on. I could write an entire post about these plentiful sides alone. 

The mains come with even more "sides"...

Skirt Steak at La Cabrera

Joe ordered the Bife de Chorizo (a strip sirloin) which I would assume is the house specialty.  It was enormous – resembling a small pot roast that could easily feed four. Joe described it as a lean, juicy, flavorful cut of meat that was cooked well with a noticeable chew.  I asked if that was his way of saying it was a bit tough?  Perhaps, but he did say that overall that the Bife de Chorizo was one of the better steaks he has eaten.

I choose a skirt steak that was very rare, barely cooked.  I noticed this same chew – but the flavor was incredible.  Definitely one of the more flavorful pieces of meat I have ever eaten.  If I could do it again, I would have ordered the Bife de Chorizo, rare. 

Most of the cuts on the menu would be considered a bit more common, perhaps even lesser cuts of meats to Americans.  Yet, these cuts were all transformed into something spectacular – there is something to be said for that. The menu consisted of rib eye, rump, sirloin, flank, and skirt – traditionally not prime cuts.  The Argentineans want robust flavors and big portions; they prize these qualities over fine marbling and supple textures.   

To top this amazing meal off, the waiter brought over a huge tower of lollipops for our table to share. Mind you, this was after the desserts and coffees we all indulged in. Again, another magical touch that I fell in love with.  I highly recommend La Cabrera for those looking to indulge (and indulge you will) in a classic Argentine steak dinner.

Saturday- We knew we needed to do some shopping, of course – we were in Buenos Aires.  I kept hearing about the amazing deals you could get on leather goods – we had to check that out.  So we headed to the shopping area of Palermo Viejo.  I made a few purchases, then we stopped for lunch at Bar Uriarte.  I recognized the name from Frommer’s, or Fodor’s, or one of the other travel websites I scour for informative tidbits before a trip.

The restaurant was stylishly decorated; with a very chic bar area.

I started with grilled vegetable bruschetta.  It was topped with goat cheese and then layered with grilled vegetables.  My main was ravioli in a lemon dill cream sauce.  The sauce was very rich and not too lemony, with a slight hint of fresh dill.  The restaurant was modern, the service was attentive – lunch was very tasty.

Lemon Ravioli at Bar Uriarte

Lemon Ravioli at Bar Uriarte

That evening we headed over to Alison and Sarne’s house for drinks and snacks.  Empanadas, poker and Cranium (the Aussie version) were on the menu for the evening.  Yes, I did say “the Aussie” version of Cranium. This put the American’s at a bit of a disadvantage, but we still fared well – thank you very much

I have never had an empanada before that night, but I now completely understand why they are so popular.  First off, they are handheld – so they make for easy eating.  Second, the fillings are extensive – so you get variety.  Third, the dough is awesome.  The dough reminds me of pie crust with more give…maybe a cross between pie crust and pizza dough. 

Empanadas

A variety of Empanadas...

Empanada means simply, “in dough”; they can be baked or fried; the baked being more popular. The fillings range from beef and chicken, to ham and cheese, to egg and olive and everything in between.   I personally liked the picante empanadas – with their juicy filling and slight spice.  

If you look closely at the picture above, you will notice that each pattern on the empanada is different.  This is how you distinguish what is on the inside – similar to how you distinguish vanilla creme from raspberry creme in your favorite chocolate sampler.  

Sunday – We were getting ready to head back to the States…ughh, the travel portion of the trip.  We had one final meal at Campo Bravo, another parilla, or barbequed meat joint.  I had the barbequed salmon with grilled vegetables and a side of chimichurri.  Very fresh fish – but the best thing was the chimichurri sauce.  I “heart” chimichurri, I do.  This simple mixture of olive oil, parsley and garlic can make anything taste zippier, flashier –  better.   I plan to start making it to serve alongside my steaks at home.    The trip was coming to an end…

A litte bowl of Chimichurri heaven...

A litte bowl of Chimichurri heaven...

What made this trip so memorable was the group of people we spent the week with.  We were a group comprised of so many different cultures and backgrounds – it really made for an interesting and educational time; oh, and the food wasn’t too bad either…

Happy Birthday Megan!

Friday, July 17th, 2009

birthday1

Many important things have happened on July 18th throughout history. July 18, 1955 in Anaheim California Disney Land opened it’s doors. National Hot Dog Day is celebrated, and many famous people such as Vin Diesel, Hunter S. Thompson, Nelson Mandela, and Red Skelton were born. July 18th also happens to be the 199th day in our calendar…unless of course it is a leap year pushing it to 200th. Aside from all these great things there is one event that stands out in my mind…the birth of my sister Megan. Megan is the brains behind this whole operation and without her, well, there really wouldn’t be Life with Cake. Writing this Blog with her has made our relationship stronger than it has ever been.  I am honored and proud to have her as my sister! Happy Birthday Meg, I love you!

Megan and some of her biggest fans...Nate and Alex!

Megan and some of her biggest fans...Nate and Alex!

Eating my way through Buenos Aires

Saturday, July 11th, 2009
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina

My husband was traveling on business to Argentina, so in my usual fashion, I decided to tag along.  We don’t have kids (yet) and as long as I have a reliable internet connection, my job can travel with me – so why not…right?  After some deep contemplating (it is a killer plane ride) and a bit of finagling, my ticket was booked and I was off.  

As usual, our travels center on food; this trip was no different.  What better place for a foodie to travel than to Buenos Aires.  After all, I have heard so many positive things about the food in Argentina, especially the barbequed meat.  Well, no wonder – the steaks were outstanding, some of the best I have tasted.  An Adkin’s dieter’s dream, as I like to put it.  And the value of everything, simply put – incredible. 

To put the term “value” in perspective – two people could dine at one of the top restaurants, split a bottle of quality wine, each enjoy a starter, a main, dessert and coffee for about $80-90 US.  

So you are probably wondering what I liked best about the cuisine in Buenos Aires?  Well, just to give you a taste…

 - the most flavorful, juicy Chorizo I have ever tasted (seriously); the tender, falling off the bone lamb; a trendy, unique restaurant on every corner; the “drinks like a $50 bottle” of $10 Malbec; dulce de leche everything; mounds of melted cheese as a side; the hand-held empanadas – with all sorts of tasty fillings; and of course, the grilled beef served with real chimichurri

One thing I simply could not get used to was the time the Argentineans eat.  Dinner does not start until 8:30PM, which is probably comparable to eating at about 5:00PM in the States.  We were always the ones hanging about, waiting for restaurants to open.  Boy, I felt old.

So what and where did I eat?  Good question… 

Tuesday – I arrived in the morning, a bit nauseous from the flight, so I didn’t eat much until dinner.  Dinner was scheduled for 8:30 at Sucre with my husband’s colleagues.

Sucre Restaurant

Sucre Restaurant

Sucre is an upscale restaurant decorated in dark earth tones and rich textures specializing in their grilled meats – with the house specialty being the barbecued pork.  Although I did not order said pork, I did sample a piece.  It was so rich, so succulent – I doubt I could have eaten more than three bites.  But, it was divine. 

I started with the farm egg.  To me, it may have been a bit too runny and not the best choice for my unsettled stomach. The flavor was nice, the texture not so nice. The flavors reminded me of a very rich French onion soup

(more…)

Basic Cupcake Baking Tips

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009
Jumbo Chocolate Cupcakes

Jumbo Chocolate Cupcakes

Our Basic Cupcake Making Tips

Downsize your favorite cake…

You can turn almost any cake recipe into cupcakes. I recently decided to turn a chocolate cake recipe that was a success into something even more spectacular – cupcakes.  King size cupcakes that is, which in turn equals about 2 ½ regular cupcakes.  Almost any cake recipe can become a cupcake – jumbo, regular, or mini.  Just be sure to keep watch over your oven; baking times vary.  The safest bet is to a keep your eye on them.

What to do after baking…

After baking I am quick to remove my cupcakes from the pan, maybe a bit too quick.  I fear by letting them sit in a hot pan they will “over-bake”.  Once they are out of the oven, I use my offset spatula to pop them right out.  Then I immediately place them on a cooling rack.

I must admit, I am a “last minute” kinda girl and have often been tempted to frost early…this is a no no!  Unless your recipe calls for it, do not try frosting before the cakes are completely cooled – it never ends well, trust me. 

The subject of frosting…

Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, you can frost. A generous amount of frosting is always good, but don’t go overboard.  Frosting tends to be extremely sweet, so a little goes a long way.  Try to create a balance of cake and frosting.

Directly after frosting, I get the cupcakes into the fridge. This helps set the frosting.  Buttercream, in my opinion, tastes best when it’s not too cold.  It can become hard and unappealing if it’s too cold – it is butter, after all.

It is best to keep your cupcakes chilled up until 15-30 minutes before serving.  Letting them come to room temperature will ensure that the frosting tastes its best.

Cupcake liners and wrappers…

Lastly, I need to mention cupcake liners and wrappers.  When baking a chocolate cupcake, plain wrappers work the best. The pretty printing on some wrappers just disappears with chocolate cake – so it can be a waste. It is best to use the fancy printed liners and wrappers with a lighter colored cupcake.

chocolate-cupcakes-chocolate-strawberry

The cupcakes pictured are chocolate cake with a decadent chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream, topped with a chocolate covered strawberry, YUMMY!

Replace the cupcake…Whoopie Pies?

Sunday, July 5th, 2009
Introducing the S'mores Whoopie Pie...

Introducing the S'mores Whoopie Pie...

This week I came upon some disturbing news; sources say the Whoopie Pie is the “new cupcake”.  Could this be true?  How could anything take the place of America’s sweetheart?  I’ll be the judge of that…

My brain was on overload looking through several recipes for Whoopie Pies.  Which one, which one?  There seem to be so many. 

The chief question among Whoopie Pie fans seems to be – should it be more cake like, or more cookie like?  After much intense research and three cups of Joe, I decided to mix a couple different ideas. Pumpkin, Chocolate, and Red Velvet seemed to dominant the Whoopie Pie world, so why not something a bit different? 

On a recent visit to my local market I came across Solo Toasted Marshmallow creme, and of course it ended up in my cart. Original Marshmallow Fluff is great, but toasted marshmallow creme just makes it that much better. This is where the S’mores Whoopie Pie was born!

Whoopie Pie - Cake or Cookie?

Whoopie Pie - Cake or Cookie?

The result was something not quite cake, not quite cookie.  The pie has a dense texture with a bit of chew, and the filling is sweet and gooey.  These were not the dry Moon Pies I was lured into buying so many times before.

Do I think they will replace the cupcake? Doubtful…but the Whoopie Pie has certainly found a place in my recipe box.

whoopie-pies

S’mores Whoopie Pie Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp. butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

S’mores Whoopie Pie Filling

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter brought to room temperature
  • 7oz. jar toasted marshmallow crème
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 pack graham crackers, crushed

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 375°F.

1.) Blend butter and marshmallow crème together until smooth. Slowly add powdered sugar, blend until creamy.

2.) In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar for a minute or so, until well combined. It will have the consistency of wet sand. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until smooth.

3.) In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa and salt. In a small bowl, stir the baking soda into 1/2 cup very hot water until dissolved.

4.) With the mixer on low or stirring by hand, add about a third of the dry ingredients, then half the buttermilk and half the baking soda mixture, mixing each time just until blended. Repeat with another third of the dry ingredients, the rest of the buttermilk and baking soda mixture, and then the rest of the dry ingredients, mixing each time just until combined.

5.) I chose to make these pies smaller than the classic…feel free to increase the size to suit your needs.  Using a small scoop (small Ice cream style scoop) drop batter onto greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 6-8 minutes, until the tops no longer appear wet and just spring back when lightly touched. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

6.) When completely cool, spread the bottom of one cookie with frosting and dip into graham cracker crumbs.  Spread a very small amount of frosting on other half of cookie just to make them stick. Viola – S’mores Whoopie Pies!

Master Paul’s 14th Birthday Cake

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009
Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

This past week the cake hotline rang with a request for a birthday cake.  This cake was for a young man with simple tastes who was turning 14.  I took a moment to figure out the cake plan. 

Chocolate and Strawberry are two flavors I knew he enjoys; this one was going to be a cinch!  A rich chocolaty layer cake filled with sliced strawberries and Swiss meringue buttercream, frosted with a sinful chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream and some homemade chocolate covered strawberries.  No frills, simple and classic, the kind of cake you might see in a coffee shop bakery cabinet.  It is the perfect cake for any occasion.

Sliced strawberries and whipped cream fill this chocolate cake...

Sliced strawberries and Swiss meringue buttercream fill this chocolate cake...

My sister presented me with a copy of Martha Stewart’s new cupcake cookbook…love it!  I made her classic Swiss meringue buttercream and then jazzed it up by folding in some melted, cooled chocolate.  This frosting is so good you could serve it all by itself!

Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Makes about 6 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6oz. melted and cooled semi sweet chocolate

Directions:

1. Beat butter with electric mixer until fluffy and pale. Transfer to small bowl.

2. In double boiler over simmering water, whisk sugar and egg whites until warm and sugar is dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to clean bowl of electric mixer; beat on high with whisk attachment until fluffy and cooled, about 10 minutes.

3. Reduce mixer to medium-low; add butter a scant 1/4 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla. Fold in the cooled melted chocolate.

4. Switch to paddle attachment; beat on lowest speed 3 to 5 minutes. Leave at room temperature if using same day. Or store airtight in refrigerator up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature; beat until smooth.

master-pauls-14th-birthday-cake

Happy Birthday Paul!


google