Thursday, December 25, 2008

Award Winning Cheesecake

Yup, you read that right, I have an award winning cheesecake! Granted, it was an elementary recipe contest among the employees where I work, but I won nonetheless.

Award Winning Andes Mint Cheesecake

I was hoping I would win, especially since there was a $100 prize, but I tried to prepare myself for defeat. When my name was called I was so excited I started screaming with joy and jumping up and down (in 4-inch heels...). I don't think my coworkers were prepared for my jubilation.

I Won!!!

In other news, I am home for the holidays until Dec. 30th. My mom is hosting a dessert open house for some of our friends and neighbors so there is quite a lot of baking to be done. At last count, there were 6 or 7 desserts planned. I think I will feature each one of the desserts and the recipes over the next couple weeks or so (I am not dedicated enough to write a post everyday) so I can provide some new content, pictures and recipes! So keep reading. And I hope everyone's Christmas was as great as mine!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008


The end of the semester has finally arrived. It is nice to have some free time, but class is fun too because I get to bake. I will just have to make the most of winter break. Wednesday was my final practical for cake decorating. Our task was to create a two-tiered wedding cake with fondant and gum paste flowers. But because I am me, and I am crazy, I made a three-tiered wedding cake. I didn't want to go the super traditional route - white cake, roses, etc. - so I used chocolate fondant instead. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this cake. I think it turned out beautifully and I couldn't be happier.

The prep work took quite a bit of time...more than I had anticipated. First, I had to cut the individual layers out of sheet cake and each tier had to be two layers (2 12-in., 2 8-in., & 2 4-in.). Second, there was the frosting each layers with a buttercream crumb coat. Third, there was the bead border - individually fondant beads in three signature colors [espresso, bone & champagne], which also meant hand coloring white fondant. I think I made about 300 beads (to be on the safe side). And finally, there were the gum paste flowers which is a painstakingly delicate process...and nearly drove me to insanity. Just ask my roommate.

The crumb coat...

Here are some full view pictures from a couple different angles...

And some close-up shots...

The "champagne" beads [gold] were dusted with a gold luster. I don't have the exact bead count, but it was very close to 200.

Now I need to focus on baking for my work holiday party. There is a $100 prize and I intend to win. I am entering two desserts: Mint Chocolate Cupcakes and Andes Mint Cheesecake. I figured it would increase my chances to take home the prize. If you don't know, I am a bit competitive so I won't be very happy if I don't walk away a winner.

Monday, December 8, 2008

White Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes: The Recipe

Here is the recipe for the White Chocolate Mocha cupcakes:


Butter 9 oz.
Sugar 15 oz.
Sea Salt 1 tsp.
Bittersweet 3 oz.
Chocolate, melted
Semi-Sweet 3 oz.
Chocolate, melted
Eggs 8 oz.
Cake flour 12 oz.
Baking Powder .5 oz.
Milk 7 oz.
Coffee 7 oz.
Vanilla extract .25 oz.


Cream together butter and sugar
Blend in melted chocolate
Add eggs until mixed in, one at a time
Add sifted dry ingredients and liquid ingredients alternately in three parts, beginning and ending with flour (1/3 dry, 1/2 liquid, 1/3 dry, 1/2 liquid, 1/3 dry)

**This recipe calls for ingredients to be weighed, not measured. So, for example, if you measure 1 1/2 cups flour instead of weighing out 12 oz. it may not translate and I can't promise the cupcakes will turn out the way you want**

White Chocolate Buttercream:

1 cup butter
2 cups confectioners sugar
6 oz. white chocolate, melted
3-5 tblspns heavy cream


Sift confectioners sugar and beat with butter
Add chocolate and heavy cream
Beat for 3-4 minutes

Like I mentioned in the previous post, I kind of took some liberties with the type of chocolate and added coffee from the basic chocolate cake formula I found in my textbook. The outcome was good, but I think it is a recipe that can be improved.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

White Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes

As soon as I claimed my mixer on Friday afternoon I decided it had to be used immediately. I was actually planning on making cupcakes, so it was pretty much an added bonus I finally had a stand mixer instead of my hand-held mixer that I don't like very much because it is just too fast. Anyway, I have been wanting to attempt this recipe for a while now. I didn't really find it from anywhere so I had to scour websites, blogs and cookbooks to find an acceptable recipe for both the cupcakes and the frosting. One of the main problems I had was I wanted to use melted chocolate (a mixture of bittersweet and semisweet) and all the recipes I was finding called for unsweetened cocoa powder. And then I remember I am a baking student with a big fat text book, and voila, I had a recipe.

Since I pulled a recipe from my textbook, I need to weigh the ingredients instead of measuring.

Getting ready to scale out ingredients

Weighing the butter

The recipe I used was for a basic chocolate butter cake, but I took some liberties here and there. I really wanted a cake with a strong coffee flavor, not a chocolate cake with a hint of coffee. The formula called for 14 oz. of milk, so I substituted 7 oz. of milk and 7 oz. of cold coffee. The flavor worked out well, but I think I need to increase the amount of chemical leaveners I use next time.

Coffee & Milk mixture

My machine, hard at work, creaming butter...

And my beautiful batter...

This formula yielded approximately 36 cupcakes. They were on the smaller side and they didn't rise very well, but I suspect that is because of the proportion of coffee vs. the proportion of baking powder. And since I totally altered the recipe in a somewhat major way, I really wasn't expecting perfection in the presentation the first go at it.

Cupcakes cooling...boy, those look good

Next up, I had to prepare the white chocolate buttercream. For the frosting, I found a recipe online so I turned out quite nice.

I usually like to ice with a large star tip, but typically I think it leaves the cupcakes with a little too much frosting, plus since my formula gave me 36 cupcakes, I wasn't really sure if I would have enough frosting. Instead of a large star tip, I used a #12 round tip. They still looked pretty and I had just enough frosting.

Frosting the cupcakes

The finished product looked nice and tasted wonderful. I think the flavor balanced out nicely, but the frosting could of had a little more chocolaty flavor.

White Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes

I promise I will post the formulas later.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

"Santa! I know him!"

I received a very special delivery from the North Pole yesterday!!

My very own, very beautiful KitchenAid stand mixer!! Look at that dough hook! I was so excited I couldn't wait to use it. I broke it in with some White Chocolate Mocha cupcakes (Mocha cake with white chocolate buttercream). I'll post more on that later. Thanks, Santa!! And give the reindeer a little treat from me.