Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cupcake Day for EDEN

On the last post I told you that I was going to be baking a storm of cupcakes for a friend. Well the day has come and gone of the Cupcake Day. I was asked by a friend and coworker of Matt's to make a batch of cupcakes to raise money for the awareness of the media's effect on women's self image. The organization is called EDEN, standing for Eating Difficulties Education Network; every year they run a campaign selling cupcakes and raising awareness on the issue. Here is the site for the organization, if you are interested. This year, they decided to run the Cupcake Day at Oktobor, and they asked if I would bake the cupcakes for it. Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to bake. I started researching new ideas, and came across tons of amazing bakes.

I also told you on the last post how excited I was getting for Halloween. I got a little over excited, and couldn't help but combine the Cupcake Day and Halloween. To start off, I found myself in this store, called Milly's Kitchen. They have the most amazing kitchen supplies, and oodles of great gear for baking, cooking, and general wasting of time. They have just come out with all of these Halloween necessities (they are necessities!), and of course, I stocked up. Again, I was so excited about Halloween that I may or may not have jumped the gun on the goodies for the joyous holiday. Ok, I did jump the gun. But it was worth it.

I bought the candy molds at Milly's Kitchen, and got started on making some chocolate tombstones and skulls. I also found the cutest bone sprinkles there, which were perfect for the recipe I decided on. But first the chocolate.

 Pretty cool huh? And scary of course...

So the recipe I found was from the all-talented Martha Stewart. Is there anything this woman can't do? She has so many awesome Halloween treats, including the recipe I tried. They are called Tombstone Cupcakes and have a delish Devil's Food Cake middle, a Chocolate Ganache frosting, cookie crumbles to appear like dirt, and the chocolate molds on top for me. Here are the bare cupcakes, pre-decoration.

And here's the decoration line up. 

And the finished product ready to be eaten. 

And again, just because they're pretty. 

I had way too much fun with those. And in case you're wondering, those are really easy to make, so make them for Halloween this year. You can make the cookies that she puts on top, or come up with another fun idea to make them look like graveyards.

The next cupcake I jumped at the chance of making is Red Velvet Cupcakes. This one of course came from my favorite sweets blogger, Bakerella. Again, in case you wondering (and I know you were), she has the BEST Red Velvet Cake recipe (not that I've tried any other) on the planet. Seriously. So moist, and so so scrumdiddlyumptious! And they look so...


Don't they? Ok, so the lighting, and my camera, and my non-expertise didn't mix well with these ones. But they were yummy, despite the appearance.

Matty took some better pictures of them all iced up and ready to eat, but apparently I don't know how to make a straight line with cupcakes, so ignore that too. I promise they were good! Please make these too. 

This next recipe came from a new blogger that I recently found, thanks to one of Matt's bosses wives. They are Cheesecake Cupcakes with Crumb Topping. For 12 cupcakes you use two packages of cream cheese. Yes, two. And although I didn't get to taste these, they went fast, so I assume the two packages are worth it. I am going to make them again soon so I can taste them. But aren't they pretty, even without the fruit on top?

And here is what they look like once you garnish them. 

Use whatever fruit you have on hand. Here they are displayed with the Red Velvet ones in the background. At least those ones look like they're in a straight line... 

And one more picture for good measure; this time with the tombstone cupcakes hiding behind them. 

The last batch of cupcakes I made again came from Bakerella. Have you gone to her site yet? Why not? You should. She's amazing. Ok, back to the cupcakes. These are called Cookies and Cream Cupcakes. Hers are a lot prettier than mine, but hey, mine tasted good too!

Here I am icing them. Don't mind my grimace. Apparently I give dirty looks when I'm concentrating. I apologize for that, if you have ever thought I was giving you a dirty look, I was probably just thinking about something.

 I love the look of these when they're finished, with the icing and Oreo placed on top. Yum, I want another. So sad they are gone.

 Matty and his pictures. When I grow up, I want to take pictures like him...

 Here is the line-up for the Cupcake Day. You can't see the Cookies and Cream Cupcakes, but they are hidden back there, or maybe they were trying to jump in my tummy. No one knows.

 And lastly, here is the lovely Paulo, getting ready to chomp the Red Velvet Cupcake, and double fisting it for seconds. I think they must have been good!

All-in-all, the day was a success, raising just under $300 for EDEN. Oktoborians are a very generous people. I was proud that they gave that much and enjoyed some cupcakes at the same time. I made between 75-80 cupcakes and the majority of them were gone in the first 10 minutes. I had so much fun baking for this today, and I am uber excited to focus on Halloween treats now. Stay tuned for those. And speaking of Halloween, Oktobor gave us the green light on a party! Woohoo! Time to get planning!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

So Many New Bakes!

I have been on a baking craze lately! Not only have I been baking quite a bit, but I have also been doing a lot of research on new things to bake and going from store to store to buy things to bake new things. I bought a new big muffin tin, a cake leveler, and lots of decorations and colorings for my stuff. Next week, I will be baking between 50 and 100 cupcakes (I haven't decided how many yet), for a friend who needs them for a campaign. We are selling them at Oktobor for the non-profit organization that she works for. I am so excited to bake for that, as I hardly ever bake cupcakes. I will be posting on what I end up baking, so check back on that.

I don't know about you, but I am also overly excited about Halloween this year. Is it just me? Probably. But I am. Maybe its that I discovered my baking passion after Halloween last year, but I cannot wait to bake for Halloween this year. Again, check back on what I did for it. Lots of ideas roaming around in my head, but none solidified yet. I am shopping around for goodies on this too! I found some yukky finger cookie trays, and some tombstone candy molds that I cant wait to start messing around with. Any other ideas I cant do without? Let me know.

Ok, so now to the stuff I have already baked. On the last post I said I would find the recipe online for the Lemon Crisps I made. Here's the picture of them again.

 Oh boy those were good.  Here's the link.

A new recipe I tried this past week was a huge hit at Matty's work. Some said these were the best cookies they have tasted. You should definitely make them as soon as you can, and be ready for a taste explosion! They are called Chocolate Chunk Peanut Butter Swirl Cookies. I got the recipe from Picky Palate, who has a lot of amazing recipes. I follow her blog. You should too.

Go here for the step by step instructions on these cookies. And by the way, I have been experimenting with taking pictures, since Matty never is around when I bake (I wish he didn't have to work), so he can't take the pictures for me. I bought some fabric when my mom was here, and have been enjoying messing around with that. If you have any comments on how to make the pictures better, please share, but just know, I am NOT an expert (I'm sure you knew that), and I only have one lens for the camera. We could use a better one, but not in the budget right now. But still, comments? Let me know.

These cookies are ones I had never made, but had tasted. A friend made them for a group of us, and I was automatically obsessed. They are a savory cookie, but what's wrong with that? I say nothing. I made them for the first time this past week, and was so excited about them, but they jumped into everyone else's mouth before it got to mine, so I didn't get to enjoy them. Guess I'll have to make them again... They have a extraordinary mix of flour, salt, pepper, extra sharp cheddar cheese, and jalapenos. Oh yes, and don't forget the butter. Never forget the butter. Butter is so good. Butter is so great. Butter makes baking great.

Oh, sorry. I went on a rant. But really. Butter. Yum.

Anyway... you want that recipe too? Ok here you go. Please enjoy.

 A couple months ago, Matt and I went to the Food Show at the ASB Showgrounds in Auckland. If you have ever been to one of these types of conventions, you know they give out a lot of free stuff, and at a food show, they just might give out free recipes (they did) trying to promote certain products. Well this next recipe is one that came off of one of those recipe cards. I didn't use the products that they suggested, and I changed quite a bit on the recipe, so this is an adapted Stout Cake Recipe, and I'm going to share it with you. I know, you're excited. But first, look at it.

 Isn't it so pretty with the black in the middle and white on top? And what an amazing addition to cake to add beer. Yum!

Adapted Chocolate Stout Cake (I used black beer instead of stout beer, but Chocolate Black Cake doesn't sound as good, do you agree?)

Cake Ingredients:
-125g butter, cubed and softened
-100g dark chocolate
-2cups all purpose flour
-1 1/2tsp baking soda
-2tsp cinnamon
-1/2tsp salt
-1 1/2cups sugar
-1/2cup unsweetened plain yogurt
-2 large eggs
-1 bottle black or stout beer
-1/2cup cocoa powder

Frosting Ingredients: (the recipe called for a different one, but this is what I did)
-1/2cup butter, softened
-2cups powdered or icing sugar
-3Tbsp black or stout beer
-1/2tsp vanilla

-Preheat oven to 180*C/350*F. Grease a round cake pan, the bigger the better.
-Put the butter and chocolate in a medium sized glass bowl and melt in the microwave, or using a double boiler. Don't overheat. Heat a little, stir then heat again.
-Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into a large bowl. Using your fingers, stir in the sugar into the dry ingredients.
-Stir the yogurt and eggs into the chocolate mixture, then add this mixture and the beer to the dry ingredients. Stir the mixture together using a whisk, but don't over mix.
-Pour into the cake pan, and bake 45-60 minutes, or until skewer stuck in the middle comes out clean.
-While the cake is cooling, make the frosting. Mix butter, icing sugar, beer and vanilla using an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.
-When cake is completely cooled, ice the cake all around, and make sure to admire the contrast when you cut into it.
-Make sure you enjoy :)

A few weekends ago, Matt's work had a big BBQ, and it was a potluck BBQ, which of course meant that everyone expected me to bring some great sweet treats. I decided to make one recipe I have made before, because it was a big hit, and another that I haven't made before. The new one was this Carrot Cake recipe. The kitchen had it out for me the day I made that, as I ended up with lots of cuts and burns, but the cake was great! Try it soon. Even if you don't like some of the ingredients (pineapple, coconut, etc), try it anyway. You will be amazed. Oh I also substituted almonds for the pecans and I thought it was awesome.

The other is Mississippi Mud Pie, which I got from the cookbook that started this whole adventure. Such an amazing recipe. Find this recipe online and make it! It's so great!  I'm not sure if I am allowed to share that recipe, since it isn't mine, but I will email it to you if you want it, so let me know if that is the case.

So there you go. I know it was a lot to share, but I have just been having too much fun with it. I am super excited to be making new things coming up here, so please be checking in. Also I think I fixed the problem with the comments. I think anyone should be able to comment now, so please leave more comments.

Thanks for checking in, and check back soon.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My recent baking fun.

It has been a long time since I have been able to blog about my baking adventures, so I thought I would tell you about the ones I have taken pictures of.

My first one, I am extra excited about, because it is the first recipe that is 100% my own! I have baked quite a few quiches since we moved to New Zealand, and each time I find new ways to make it better, and in turn, it has turned into a recipe that I call my own. I am writing it down, and look out soon for a post on Carla's Quiche Recipe, where I will share it with you :) Here it is with my messy notes on the recipe.

This next one is an Oreo Peanut Butter Pie, which I found originally from Bakerella. She found the recipe from Pioneer Woman, and here is the story behind the pies. A blogger named Jennie lost her husband just over a month ago, and she asked for people to support her by making Peanut Butter Pies for Mikey, her husband, and give it to someone they love. So I made mine be Oreo Peanut Butter Pie for Matty.

Here is Jennies blog, if you are interested. It is sad, but good. www.injennieskitchen.com
Here is Bakerella's blog again www.bakerella.com
And here is the original recipe of the pie http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2009/06/another-pie/

This is an amazingly great pie, but very rich. Be careful but please make and enjoy. It's worth it! :)

Here's another fun one from Bakerella. I just cannot get enough of her blog, and these were just so fun to make! Go see the post.  http://www.bakerella.com/goodie-goodie/

Here's another recipe from Pioneer Woman. These were another huge hit for Matty, so be careful if you make these. Youll never get away from making them, but they are good and definitely worth it. My suggestion is to make them mini's, to make yourself feel better, because they are Muffins that taste like Donuts...


The last picture I have are of Lemon Crisps. They are delish cookies with lemon juice, lemon zest and almonds in them. YUM. I had tons of fun making them with my friend Tiffany one Saturday. They were very good and they went fast. I will try to find the recipe online and show it to you, because I cant find it right now.

Just a side note, as we are staying at least until July next year, I will be looking into going to baking school here! Im very excited about it! If schooling here doesnt work out, I am going to look into some classes for cake decorating and look into schooling back home when we get there. I am really loving this new advenrure in life and cant wait to see what else God has in store for it :)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy birthday to me!

Another one from Bakerella's site that I have been wanting to try for a long time. I have to be honest and say that I have never had red velvet cake before. I know! I figured what a better time to try it for the first time and make it for the first time, than my birthday!

Bakerella has the best recipes ever, and this red velvet cake just looked so scrumptious and soft, and man, when it was done, I was sure glad I chose her recipe! Look how pretty the red looks.

Matty taking pictures of me frosting the cake. 

You would never know the red is underneath lol. 

But goodness that looks good when you cut into it. YUM! 

So pretty! 

It was so yummy and it was a perfect addition to my wonderful 24th birthday. I had a lot of fun making it, and I learned what I would do differently next time. It is definitely not as pretty as Bakerella's, but I'd like to think it tasted just as good ;-)

Here's the post I got the idea from:

Bakerella, I did enjoy my heart out! :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Congrats to Matty!

I am so proud of my husband! His first episode that he worked on for Penguins of Madagascar aired last night in the US on Nickelodeon. I am just so happy for him and so so proud of him! His first professional work. WOW.

I wanted to show him how proud I was of him, so I went in search of a great recipe. Where was the first place I looked you ask? Bakerella of course! You cant go wrong on her site! She is genius, such an insipration, and frankly, has the best recipes ever! Go see her site (www.bakerella.com). Anyway, I looked and I found!

Chocolate Crackle Cookies. So YUM! And what fun they were to make too! I had to take pictures of the progress, because it was just so much fun, and they were so pretty!

You start out with butter and brown sugar. You cream it, then add eggs, vanilla and melted chocolate. Of course you are suppose to do this in a stand mixer or using a hnd mixer, but we all know I dont own a stand mixer, and of course, after 2 months of using my hand mixer, it died on me. I know. I guess next time Ill put out more than $15 for it...

So... I stuck with the whisk. And it worked pretty well for me, and for this next picture, it made it look really pretty. This is where you add the melted chocolate to the butter sugar mixture. So fun!

Then you add the dry ingredients which is flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt to the mixture, as well as milk. Divide the mixture and put it in the fridge for a couple hours. I put mine in the freezer because I only had a couple hours to make them before Matt got home and discovered his surprise. Then you take the batter and divide it into equal squares, roll into balls and get ready to dip. In the picture is the batter which I divided with a knife (thank you Bakerella!), and my dippings, granulated sugar (I used caster sugar) and powdered sugar. 

Then you dip! First in the granulated sugar, then the icing sugar. I took a cute picture of the steps. 

Drop the dipped cookie balls onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and bake away! It was SO much fun to watch them in the oven then when you take them out, this is what you get! 

Isnt it just gorgeous?!?! I loved them so much, and let me tell you, they are a major treat for the mouth too! 

So Matty came home right after they came out of the oven, so the apartment smelled great, and he asked what I made. I told him to look on the table and he saw these. Man they looked good (and no its not becuase I am so good, they just turn out this good on their own!)

This is what he saw. I was just too proud of him not to do anything. It wasnt much, but it was a good reason to do something I love and give him something he loves. They are so pretty and so so good to eat. YUM. 

Congrats Matty! I love you so much and I am so proud of you! :)

So here is the post that I found on Bakerellas site for these. Hers look even better than mine! http://www.bakerella.com/chocolate-crackles/

And here is the original recipe, which came from Martha Stewart.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The New Apartment

Hello again! I am very sorry it has been so long since I have last posted anything. I had to take quite the break after the bake sale. We also got the great pleasure of moving out of our tiny little apartment and moving into one that actually feels like a home rather than a hotel. It is SOOO nice and of course the best part is the new improved kitchen! :) It is much much bigger and I can actually move around in it now. It took me a while to start baking in it; we had so much to do with moving in and then Matt's parents came and visited us (see our Walkers Go Kiwi site for that post: www.walkersgokiwi.blogspot.com), so there hasnt been too much room for baking in that time frame. But now that I can, I thought that I would give a tour of the new place. You can see how we live over here in NZ too :)

Here is the entrance and a little bit of the kitchen. To the right is the table and behind that, you can see our drying rack with towels and jeans drying away. We have a tumble dryer, but MAN that takes up a ton of power, so this is the way to go! And the little R2D2 that is standing in front of the drying rack is a DE-humidifier. Yeah I know! I didnt know those were possible either, but we can cure world thirst with ours alone! I have to empty it at least once a day! I know!

Of course the creme de la creme is the kitchen (for me at least- Matty may beg to differ haha). SO SO much bigger with lots of counter space and i have a REAL oven! I can't even explain how happy it makes me! It took me a long time to get used to the controls though; things are way different here, including how to use an oven! And the best part is my freshly baked banana bread on the edge of the counter :)

Oh yep, a better picture of it :) and my friend the oven.

The view from the kitchen. Our living area and the balcony. You cant tell, but we have a great view! A beautiful tree outside and we get to see some fun birds in the morning. The best part about the view is at night we can see the Sky Tower all lit up through the tree. It's great.

Our bedroom! We have an actual bedroom! Oh how nice that is!

And I know you wanted to see the bathroom haha. But I had to show it to show that it is WAY bigger than before. We are happy :)

I hope you enjoyed the tour of our new apartment! I will be posting again VERY soon, as I am now starting to bake again, and I even got the pleasure of selling some of my goodies to Oktobor, so I will tell you all about that soon! :)


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bake Sale for Japan

I wanted to take my cake balls further than I have before, and I found the perfect excuse to do this over the weekend. At Matt's work, some of the animators (mostly Tiffany) decided to do a bake sale for relief efforts in Japan. We all thought this was a great idea and decided to do another baking day at Kate's place.

I already knew that the pops would take a long time so I made the cake the day before, and I also went to the store to get some candy for the decorations on my pops. You can cheat, and look down the blog a bit to see what I made, but let me tell you what it is and why I did them.

The bake sale was to take place at Oktobor, where Matty works; they animate (and do other things) for the TV show Penguins of Madagascar, so I thought it would be really cute to make the cake pops little penguins. I took a picture off of google as my model, then went to the store to see what I could find to use as the wings, beak and feet. Here is what the candies looked like before and after cutting them into the shapes I needed.
 I am so glad that I did some prep the day before, because even without doing that I was in way over my head! I dont know how Bakerella does this so well, because I was super exhausted and I didnt even get nearly as many done as I wanted to. But man was it fun! Here I am at the beginning of dipping.

Yum, chocolate!

This is Kate, getting me back for the picture I put of her on the last blog post :) haha.

Some pops that had been sitting for a while in the fridge and a fresh batch going in.

Here I am starting out the decorating process. They started with a layer of dark chocolate as the base and I am making the eyes and the body with white chocolate. My lovely mom :) sent me some food writers from the states, because I havent been able to find them here, and I used the black marker to make the pupils of the penguin.

And here I am with one of my finished products! This is another victory pose; I couldnt believe I actually did it! I have to say that I was pretty proud of myself, for these only being the third time I have made cake balls, and my first time actually making them into something. I do, however, also have to say that I was expecting to get about 40 of these made, and only 16 made it to penguin shapes. I was really afraid I was going to be at Kate's house until it was time to take them to Oktobor! But luckily, I got enough done, and the rest just stayed chocolate.

Matty said that I gave birth to 16 penguins! And let me tell you, it was hard labor! Haha :) Here's my babies.

And a close up...

The bake sale took place at Oktobor, in the kitchen area. Here is Tiff's amazing cheddar and jalapeno cookies, and she even cut out "Japan" and some hearts! Too cute!

Here's all the goodies we were selling. Kate made some lemon slice and hedgehog. Those both seemed to be a big hit. Tiff made her savory cookies and some chocolate cupcakes. Dan's wife made rice crispy treats and strawberry white chocolate chip cookies, Mercedes made some other cupcakes (not sure what they were), Claudia made two amazing cakes that were gone before you could blink your eyes. Cant remember what either of them were though either, and I made my cake pops, which were chocolate cake with white chocolate chips and chocolate frosting.  We didnt expect a lot of people to contribute and eat the goodies, but boy were we wrong! It was gone in a matter of 30 minutes!

Here is Dan (and Tiff's Matt behind him) holding a cake pop to take to his kid at home :) 

Our money jar. In the end, we raised over $700 that is all going to the relief fund for Japan. Pretty cool! 

The amazing Tiffany who organized the whole thing! We are all thankful for her for doing that. She is holding a cake pop. I still am not sure if she has eaten it. She just couldnt find it in her heart to kill the cute little thing! :) 

On the last post, I said that I was so jealous to be in Kate's apartment and whether I said it or not, I got a little spoiled baking in her great kitchen. Well I can no longer say that, and unfortunately my blog is no longer going to be valid being called "Cooking Without a Kitchen". As of tomorrow, we will be in a new (and much bigger) apartment. I will have to show pictures of what it looks like when we get in there, but the kitchen is also much bigger and there is an actual oven. So unfortunately, my blog name isnt as valid, but the point will still stand; that I am learning to bake in a new country and discovering my passion for it! :) We are excited!