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Tag Archive for cupcakes

::buy this:: Ciao Bella Cakes

cupcake8975
This past week was craziness. Packing, cleaning, anticipating…all while trying to live our normal lives too. Monday we had our anatomy scan. This is the doctors appointment where they do an ultrasound to make sure little Bean is growing properly and doing well. If you want, they’ll also tell you when you will be having a little girl bean or boy bean. I knew I wanted to know. I NEEDED to know. PTB could have gone either  way. We didn’t have a preference, so it would be exciting either way. There wasn’t any room for disappointment.

Inspired by the internet, we decided the way to tell our families was to have a party. Since we are moving soon, it was a good excuse to have one last hurrah at our apartment before moving to the suburbs and “settling down”. I wanted to bake the color into a cupcake so it would be a secret from our guests until they bit in. Then PTB decided that’s how he wanted to find out too. I knew I couldn’t keep it from him for an entire week. And then, did I really want to try and clean up the mess of food colored cake batter before he came home one night?

This is when I needed to find a professional. I called quite a few bakeries in the area and only one seemed to really understand what I wanted. I’m not an icing fiend. I wanted batter piped into the cupcake, not icing after the fact. Stefanie Kitchner, the founder of Ciao Bella Cakes, not only understood, she seemed excited about it! This was exactly who I needed to be working with. So on Monday afternoon we went to the doctor. They put the answer in an envelope and I delivered it to Stefanie first thing Tuesday morning. I had to get it out of my hands!

Finally Saturday morning arrived. We went to pick up the cupcakes. Four dozen of them. We decided to open the little box and put them on a cupcake stand so that we could have some out while we explained to our guests what the plan was. I let Stefanie do her thing in terms of decorating, just letting her know I wasn’t crazy about a ton of icing. When i opened the first box I was a little panicked. All I saw were pink foils! We quickly realized there were also blue and gold, but mostly in the other box. Phew. The icing looked perfect, and the random sprinkles just made us smile.

Since we weren’t finding out yet, I can’t tell you about the cakes yet… So I will start with the icing. Oh my, that icing was amazing. When I had told Stefanie that I wasn’t crazy about icing her response was for white icing she usually does “vanilla buttercream. It’s super yummy! Not too sweet. Nice and light and fluffy. And lots of butter!”. I really could not describe this icing better. I got so many compliments throughout the day about the icing.

There were plenty of compliments on the cupcakes as well. And after eating at least 4 of them so far (thank goodness we ended up with extras), I can definitely stand my the moist perfection of the cake. YUM! Oh, and the big reveal that you’ve been waiting for? It’s a…..

BLUE!

I mean BOY! We are officially halfway through to our little boy bean.

Stefanie was amazing to work with. Incredibly easy going and she is very creative when it comes to wedding cakes, etc. She makes everything from scratch using high quality ingredients. No mixes, bases, or fake stuff. My kind of baker 🙂

If you are in the Philadelphia area and need a custom baked good large or small, I highly recommend Ciao Bella Cakes. Be sure to check out Stefanie’s website and be a fan of the bakery on Facebook! She can be reached at 267•229•0829

::sweet treat:: Cherry Almond Cupcakes

cherries7229
Ahhh!  It is almost the holiday weekend! Just a little while longer! I am completely un-excited about this weekend except the idea of spending a few uninterrupted days with PTB. I apparently have a cold! Who gets a cold in the Summer? It started with some sneezing Monday, and now has gotten progressively worse to the point that today I am full-on sick. It has killed my cooking-mojo since I am dizzy when I am standing up. But I realized that I had perfect posts to share for the holiday weekend, so I am here writing this up. It is the least I can do 🙂

I know everyone else is still going to have a great weekend, so I thought some ideas for picnics would be good. I was thinking about all the “patriotic” posts that have been everywhere this week. I was thinking how cheesy food is kind of obnoxious sometimes. And by cheesy I mean red cupcakes with bright blue icing and white candy stars on the icing. We are still part of the no kids group. I don’t need bright blue icing to enjoy a cupcake. I really don’t even need it to involve red, white and blue to eat it at a picnic for a national holiday. There will be flags hanging. I don’t need to eat one too.

But cherries. Cherries are one of those things that scream summer to me. And they are red. So patriotic! So this is why I thought, if you wanted to take a patriotic dessert with you this weekend, these cupcakes would be perfect. Oh! And there isn’t any icing – so they will be fine sitting on a picnic table!

Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. I hand-mixed the batter with a wooden spoon.

What You Need
Step One

2 cups blanched almonds, divided
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Step Two
1 stick of butter (room temperature)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Step Three
3 eggs (room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Step Four
~2 1/2 cups halved sweet cherries (~1 lb fresh)
Step Five
2 Tbsp brown sugar

In a small food processor, chop half the almonds to coarse chunks and set aside. Chop the second half coarsely and remove 1/4 cup setting aside separately from the first cup. Ad flour, baking powder, and salt to the food processor and grind to a flour consistency. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add eggs, mixing in one at a time, and then stir in vanilla extract.

Slowly stir in almond-flour mixture.

Fold in the cherries and the 1/4 cup of chopped almonds.

Stir 2 Tbsp brown sugar into the remaining cup of almonds.

Divide batter between 18 cupcake papers (~2/3 full). Top each with almond-sugar mixture.

Bake for ~20-25 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes on cooling rack, then allow to cool completely out of muffin pan.

Yields: ~18 cupcakes

::sweet treat:: Lavender Cupcakes

lavender tree

A few weeks ago I finally had the chance to go into a little shop in Manayunk called Village Spices. I have always wanted to stop in, but it is in a spot that we only really pass walking by at night with an ice cream cone.  I never think about it when we are there during the day.  Usually a daytime trip to Manayunk means I have a mission. And usually that mission involves food. On the other end of Main Street. Can you see how excited I am about having finally stopped in?

I was like a kid in a candy store in this place. I finally found smoked paprika! An ingredient I could not find anywhere! And let me just tell you, TOTALLY different than paprika. But I am going off topic. In this tiny little shop, there was a shelf I was fascinated with. Any extract you could dream of. The lavender immediately caught my eye. I had wanted to make Lavender cupcakes since I bought the book Cupcake Heaven and learned lavender could be a flavor not just a scent. When the lavender was blooming outside, however, I completely didn’t think about it. Lavendar extract though!  Think of the possibilities! And the year round use!

These cupcakes would be perfect for a baby or bridal shower. Something very girly. I might add lavender extract to my petit fours next time I make them. The best part of these cupcakes is that the recipe is quite basic, but produces perfect results. I didn’t realize until I was putting everything together that it is almost identical to the base of the Cherry Almond Cupcakes (coming soon!).  So if you don’t like lavender, use vanilla. But if you haven’t tried lavender, you don’t know that you don’t like it 😉

What You Need
Step One

1 stick of butter (room temp)
1/2 cup sugar
Step Two
2 eggs (room temp)
1 Tbsp Lavender Extract
Step Three
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp salt
Step Four
2 Tbsp coconut milk (or regular milk)

Preheat  oven to 350F. In a large bowl mix sugar and butter with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time and then stir in lavender extract. Sift in all step three ingredients (dry ingredients) and stir until combined.  Lastly add the milk.

Spoon batter into cupcake holders. Should fill 12 about halfway. Bake for ~18 minutes, remove from pan and cool on rack.

Once cooled, get your icing ready to making them officially “lavendairy”.

Icing
1 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 egg white
1 drop purple food gel

Mix the sugar and egg white until combined  Stir in desired color.  Use a spoon to spread on tops of cupcakes. Allow to set before serving.

Yields: 1 dozen cupcakes

::note to self:: Best Cupcakes EVER!

NJTO_5049

Obviously there is going to have to be some sort of baked good for Mother’s Day brunch.  I could make something that has a certain guise of healthy.  Carrot Scones, Carrot Tea Cake, Lemon Zucchini Cookies, OR I could make something that is simply sweet and delightful like Lemon Melt-Aways.  Since it is a brunch though, I like to make some sort of muffin.  One year is was pumpkin apple.  They were really good.  I need to find that recipe…

Anyway.  Off topic.  If I were going to bake something just to have something sweet as could be, I would bake these cupcakes.  They were the best cupcakes EVER.  Super moist, fluffy, perfectly sweet. They were everything you could want in a cupcake and more.  So my note-to-self.  I need the cookbook they are in.  More from Magnolia.  If your mom likes to bake, get her this cookbook as a Mother’s Day Gift.  Your dad will thank you  🙂

BTW – from what I hear – making them yourself from the book – turns out even better results than buying one from Magnolia.