Saturday, December 18, 2010

More tiny cupcake yummies!

Totally fun for kids to help out with!
Everyone LOVED this new recipe we tried from the Cupcake Bakeshop by Chockylit
(*Below recipe and comments by Chockylit:)
"These cupcakes sound more challenging to the palate then they are. I think it’s all the chocolate… The foundation of this cupcake includes two basic recipes – chocolate cupcakes and chocolate ganache. I decided to use the low-flour chocolate cupcake recipe I like and to sub out the wheat flour for quinoa flour and make them gluten-free. No one noticed a difference. If you are looking to make gluten-free, this is a great recipe to use. Your gluten-free friends will be very happy.

I really thought this recipe would end up being all concept with no real flavor excitement, but I was wrong. The pink peppercorn cream paired extremely well with the salted toffee. Those two things with the chocolate were just great. A couple of people weren’t into the pepper flavor and just scooped out the filling and ate the rest, but for the most part everyone enjoyed the cupcake. So, I guess whether or not this combination is a challenge to the palate depends on who you are. So far only the wasabi, white chocolate cupcakes I made in 2008 were too much for me…"

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cupcakes
~28 regular-sized cupcakes / 350 degree oven

7 ounces (200 grams) Valrhona 85% cacao (or any bittersweet chocolate)
3 sticks (343 grams) butter
2-1/4 cups (445 grams) sugar
8 eggs
1-1/4 cups (180 grams) quinoa flour, gluten-free (or all purpose flour for non-gluten free)
1/4 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon xanthan gum (if using gluten-free flour)

1. Chop the chocolate and transfer into the bowl of a standing mixer.
2. Add the butter to the chocolate and place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir until the chocolate melts and the butter is combined.
3. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar. Let the mixture cool for 10 minutes.
4. Measure out the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum (if using) into a medium-sized bowl. Whisk together.
5. Transfer the cooled chocolate/butter mixture to the electric mixer and beat for 3 minutes.
6. Add one egg at a time, mixing for 10 seconds between each.
7. Add the flour mixture and mix to combine.
8. Scoop into cupcake cups only 2/3s full. Bake all the cupcakes at 350 F for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Note: If the oven is not hot enough than these cupcakes may over-flow. One way to be safe is to either fill 2/3’s full or another trick I use is to preheat to 375, then drop the heat to 350 once I put the cupcakes in. I also rotate the pans after 15 minutes of baking. It is safe to gently move them at that point and I find the lower back of my oven to be a bit cooler.

Chocolate Ganache (*one note, I used my own Ganache because I like it better thatn the confectioner sugar version)
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate like Valrhona 61% cocao
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1. Chop chocolate and transfer into the bowl of your standing mixer.
2. Heat cream until bubbles form around the edge of the pan, pour cream over the chocolate.
3. Let sit for 1 minute then stir until combined.
4. Add vanilla and butter. Stir until butter is melted. Let cool to room temperature.
5. Sift the powdered sugar into the bowl and mix until fluffy.

Pink Peppercorn Cream
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
pink peppercorn
1. Whisk cream until soft peaks form. Add sugar and whisk until combined.
2. Add grindings of the pepper tasting occasionally until you are happy with it. I made it fairly strong as its a small component to the cupcake and will otherwise get overpowered by the chocolate.

Salted Toffee
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon water
1 cup sugar
1-2 tablespoons large grained salt
1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring everything to a boil. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
2. The mixture will start to boil with vigor. Do not stir. Let the mixture boil over medium-low heat until the mixture turns a deep nutty brown, about 20 minutes
3. Pour on to a prepared baking sheet (either covered in a silpat or oiled parchment paper). After a minute or so, sprinkle with salt. I used pink, Hawaiian salt.
4. Leave it to cool.
5. After the toffee has cooled, break it into small chunks.

Note: I like my toffee very dark – almost burnt. Getting the toffee just right for your taste can be a challenge. I think a nutty brown is a good place to start. One additional warning, if you cook it very long you could nearly ruin your pan or at a minimum create bunch of cleanup work for yourself. Don’t use your favorite pot or pan!

1. Fill the cooled cupcakes using the cone method.
2. Frost.
3. Top off with the toffee chunks, a little more salt (if desired), and a decoration (if you want).

Monday, December 6, 2010

Little "Love" Bites for the Holidays

I love the idea of giving these one & two bite treats a few weeks out before the holidays when people are in the thick of getting ready--- maybe a little stressed and maybe a little tired. Its a nice pick-me-up guilty pleasure, but not too guilty because, after all, it's just a bite!

Above: Little bites for the teachers and staff at school.
Ina Garten's Gingerbread Cupcakes with Orange Icing is probably my favorite new recipe that I tried this year. The dried crystallized ginger adds such a nice little bite, but still not too spicy for kids to love. (The flavor even continues to develop overnight).
Anyone who clicked on the Google banner over Thanksgiving found a page of perfect, simple basic and delicious recipes for the holiday from The Barefoot Contessa. I thought, OK fine, done. I used most of the recipes for our feast, the turkey the brussel sprouts, popovers and the Gingerbread cupcakes.
Above: a very festive Red Velvet. I've tried a number of different Red Velvet cake recipes and Elisa Strauss' Red Velvet cake recipe is my absolute favorite.

OK, and then there's chocolate. 'nuf said.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Gingerbread Nutcracker, Sweet

Cake Power and Baked Ideas present...The Gingerbread Nutcracker, our collaboration for this year's Gingerbread house display at The New York Botanical Garden .
We love "Gingerbread Adventures"
where kids are invited smell, touch, and taste the spices and other plant parts that make up a gingerbread recipe. They can also grind spices, make spicy sachets and ornaments, and decorate gingersnap cookies.

"Every Year five of New York's most celebrated and imaginative bakers design gingerbread houses for The New York Botanical Garden's Gingerbread Adventures exhibit in the Everett Children's Adventure Garden, on display from November 20, 2010, to Jan 9, 2011." NYBG

We are honored to be in the company of these wonderful bakers who have houses (that we can't wait to see!) :
Mark Tasker, Balthazar Bakery
Lauri DiTunno, Cake Alchemy,
Kaye Hansen, Riviera Bakehouse,
Irina Brandler, Sugar and Spice Bake Shop
(us: Kate Sullivan, Cake Power along with Patti Paige, Baked Ideas)

*For more about what kids get to explore at the exhibit see:
New York Times 2009 article 'GINGERBREAD ADVENTURES'

The Gingerbread house displays for the NY Botanical Garden stay up for months in all sorts of extremes of temperature and in direct sunlight. This always presents a special challenge in creating structures that can withstand the weather and condensation.
For our display, Nutcracker Gingerbread "Sweet", we made a cookie dough used mainly for houses and ornaments, because it bakes up so hard and solid. That recipe is from Colette's Christmas book.
❥ Since most gingerbread is made to be EATEN as well as seen, I thought I'd share the best most yummy & delicious Gingerbread recipe I know of, that works great for cookies, houses, and for eating!!

Patti Paige's Gingerbread Cookie Recipe
1/2 cup light brown sugar -- firmly packed
1 teaspoon ground ginger
10 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 egg
3/4 cup dark molasses
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Cream together butter and sugar. Add spices, salt, egg, and molasses, and beat well. Sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder; add to butter mixture and beat again. Chill dough for several hours. Heat oven 350 degrees. Roll dough 1/4 inch thick. Cut into shapes. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool.

Royal Icing: 2 large egg whites (or equivalent powdered egg whites); 4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar; juice of 1 lemon.
Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Add sugar, lemon juice and beat for 1 minute more. If icing is too thick, add a little water. If too thin, add more sugar. Spread on cookies or decorate with pastry bag and tip.

Hours for The Everett Children’s Adventure Garden:
Outdoor Galleries and Gingerbread Houses are open for exploration during regular garden hours- Tuesday-Sunday, 10am - 6pm.
Guided Gingerbread Activities take place:
Tuesdays - Fridays; 1:30 - 5:30 p.m.

Saturdays and Sundays (except for November 20 & 21, 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.) and extended hours days; 10 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.

*The New York Botanical Garden, spanning some 250 acres of Bronx Park, was founded in 1891 on part of the grounds of the Belmont Estate, formerly owned by the tobacco magnate Pierre Lorillard, after a fund-raising campaign led by Columbia University botanist Nathaniel Lord Britton, who was inspired to emulate the Royal Botanic Gardens in London. It contains 48 different gardens and plant collections.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Thanks to every one who came out to see us!

LILLY PULITZER BIRTHDAY EVENT @ BLOOMINGDALE'S (OK, this posting is more for moms than kids, but we hope to see you there...)
November 10, 2010, 4:00pm –

LILLY PULITZER BIRTHDAY EVENT @ BLOOMINGDALE'S (OK, this posting is more for moms than kids, but we hope to see you there...)
November 10, 2010, 4:00pm –

Enjoy music and sweet treats as you shop Lilly’s NEW Resort 2010 collection. Lilly Pulitzer will donate 10% of proceeds from the day's event directly to our friends at the American Cancer Society, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, to help create a world with more birthdays.
CAKE POWER'S KATE SULLIVAN WILL BE ON SITE DECORATING A SWEET TREAT EXCLUSIVELY FOR THIS BIRTHDAY BASH! Bloomingdale's 59th Street Bloomingdale's 59th Street The New View, Lilly Pulitzer Shop Level 3

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Then and Now ♡ (& can it really have been 13 years?)

Now and then an event comes around that really melts my heart.
In 1997 I made a "Winnie The Pooh" themed cake for a beautiful two week old baby girl named Remy. Just a few weeks ago, a stylish Bat Mitzvah cake for Remy, now an enchanting young lady.

Remy loves music and wanted to in corporate some of her favorite CD cover-art into the design of the cake. She wanted an atypical cake design that reflected her tastes and personality.

The silver base and laces are a reference to Remy's favorite Doc Martin silver boots.

Monday, September 20, 2010

(Very Fully Baked Ideas): I ❤ Patti's new Blog

Patti Paige (Baked Ideas) has finally started a blog! I'm pretty darn excited about this because I always look so forward to seeing what she will come up with next. She is the smartest Cookie I know.
I'm always inspired by and frankly, at least a little jealous, of how beautiful, interesting and original her work is.
☛ Look at these nautical cupcakes! How great are these?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Here's Looking AT-AT You, Kid (Star Wars AT-AT cake)

So, here's the assignment: Star Wars Jedi-In-Training Party for a 6 year old boy.
Now, I've always had a little crush on the vintage AT-AT walker toy our friend Jason passed down to our son, and so suggested an AT-AT cake.
Then I thought about it. (Its kind of a daunting concept once you get right down to it)

When I did a little online research, I was really surprised to see how many AT-AT cakes were out there. Great beautiful fondant covered and wonderful homemade buttercream masterpieces. I read on one blog how it took 60 hours to make theirs...and I thought---"no, no, no, I can totally do it faster than that." Oddly enough, I clocked in at right around the 60 hour mark when Chris and Lisa arrived to deliver the cake... and could easily have gone into overtime.

I wanted to emphasize the puppy-like qualities by making the paws and joints and head a little bit bigger. (head is cherry vanilla cake body is chocolate cake)

Here's one of my other favorite things I stumbled across in searching for reference material for the AT-AT cake:

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sometimes a Cake Stand isn't just a Cake Stand

Its hard to top a table-top presentation like this--- sometimes its just not about the cake. My friend, Patti though it would be fun to share this- "how all the cake stuff works as toys. Kids at my house used to put the metal tips on all their fingers, used cutters to outline, etc."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I love these guys!

I've been kind of in love with ♥ ➸ Alan Richardson for somewheres about 20 years. Since I was a magazine photo editor and he was my favorite photographer, who could bring absolute magic to pretty much any assignment.
These days he's also a best-selling author. Hello Cupcake and What's New cupcake are filled with hysterically funny, sweet and even magical how to designs that seriously bring down the house.

I love love love these do-it-yourself rubber duckies cuppies:

ion (front cover):

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Why IS it so hard to find a scratch strawberry cake recipe that actually has real strawberries in it?

Why IS it so hard to find a scratch strawberry cake recipe that actually has real strawberries in it? Strawberry cake is really good! And this is coming from a big I'll-have-chocolate-or-I'll-have-nothing-at-all person.

When 5 year old super sweet Polly (pictured above) asked for Strawberry Cake for her 5th birthday the hunt for a good recipe began. I found this one on Confessions of a Foodie Bride And then... I got distracted... and didn't pay any attention when I was putting it together. I just combined all of the wet to all of the dry in one fell swoop with butter thrown in at the end--- and it was still good!
Despite the abuse, and despite achieving that broken appearance going into the pans, the batter totally rose to the occasion and made some truly lovely and delicious cakes.

Katie’s Strawberry Cake
3/4 cup strawberry puree, room temperature (follows)
1/4 cup milk, at room temperature
6 large egg whites, room temperature
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup cake flour, sifted
1 3/4 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
12 Tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened (not melted)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare two 8 inch pans.

In small bowl, combine puree, milk, egg, vanilla and mix with fork until well blended. In bowl of stand mixer, add sifted flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and mix to combine. Continue beating at slow speed and add butter. Mix until combined and resembling moist crumbs.

Add liquids and beat at medium speed for about 1 minute or until full and evenly combined. Stop mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl and hand beat for 30 more seconds. Divide the batter evenly among the pans and smooth tops.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (time will vary). Let cakes rest in pan for about 10 minutes and turn out onto wire racks. Let cakes cool completely (about 2 hours).

Source: Good Things Catered, adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Classic White Layer Cake
Yields: 2 8-inch layers

Strawberry puree
24oz either fresh OR frozen (organic) strawberries, (thawed)*

Thaw frozen strawberries in whatever form (sliced, whole, etc) and in whatever container/bag you have them in. Pour into a fine strainer placed over a bowl and let sit. Lightly toss the strawberries occasionally to remove any pockets of excess liquid. Reserve the liquid for another use or discard. Place strawberries in a food processor or blender and puree.

Fresh strawberries: Just hull, slice and toss with a teaspoon or two of sugar and cover. Let them sit at room temperature for a couple of hours, or until nice and juicy. Place strawberries in a food processor or blender and puree.

Use leftover puree to fill the cake or fold into the frosting (I used 1 part puree to 3 parts vanilla buttercream and loved it), if desired. It’s also fabulous spooned over ice cream… and eaten straight up with a spoon.

Yields: Approx 1 1/4 cup strawberry puree