December
22
Filed Under (Cakes, Sweet Stuff) by Coco on 22-12-2009

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Here’s a thought that crossed my spoiled mind this evening. What if, say, like my family in Australia, I can’t just run to the store and grab a box of red velvet cake mix off the shelf. I’ve obviously forgotten that it wasn’t that many years ago that I didn’t even know what a red velvet cake was! Imagine that.

This week I received an email from a fellow cake maker who asked me to share my favourite red velvet cake recipe since she wasn’t able to buy a box mix. Fellow bakers give me mixed reactions when I openly admit to using (insert scary music here)…. red velvet cake out of a box!! Well, I do and I’m not afraid to say it. Why not? It’s bad enough getting covered in red cake mix, which I usually do, without having to mess with red food colouring when measuring it out for a “from scratch” recipe.

Actually, there is a little history to my dread of red…  I used to own a small bakery in Australia and had left some decorating items out on the dining table in my brand new dining room, in my brand new home.  To cut a long story short, my youngest daughter was a climber and the result was red food colouring all over her and the brand new carpet!  We bleached it out and then had to dye the carpet back lovingly with teabags.  So you might now understand my dislike of red food colouring, even if red is my favourite color!

Ok, back to the cake at hand.  I tend to look at box cake mixes as a starting point, and usually tweak them by changing out the oil with apple sauce for instance, and adding my own flavourings, add-ins etc. I’m sure the good people at Duncan Hines, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury didn’t just whip them together in five minutes. It is my understanding that they have spent years perfecting their mixes for our convenience. And very often that is the time I have no compunction in reaching for one.

Sure there is nothing quite like a delicately created sponge or genoise but there are times when I just need to get out two dozen cupcakes in a hurry and trust me, 5 year olds very rarely call me out on using a box cake mix over a scratch baked cake. Their beaming little faces covered in frosting are all the proof I need that sometimes, it’s ok.

So let’s get this red velvet cake made!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup dutch processed (dark) cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons red gel food coloring
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter ( softened)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2  1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Method:

Preheat oven to 325°. Line muffin pan with paper liners.

Whisk together cocoa powder, food coloring, and hot water. Set aside to cool.

In the bowl of your electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and shortening until smooth. Scrape down bowl and add sugar. Beat until mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Stir buttermilk and vanilla into the cooled cocoa mixture. Sift cake flour and salt together into another bowl. With the mixer on low, alternate adding the flour mixture (in 3 parts) and the cocoa mixture (in 2 parts) to the egg mixture. Beat until incorporated.  Combine vinegar and baking soda and stir until baking soda dissolves; the mixture will fizz. Add to batter and stir until just combined.

Fill cupcake pans 2/3 full with batter. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven, transfer to a wire rack, and let cool for 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan, and let cool completely.

___________

So, of course I ended up with red food coloring up one arm and on the kitchen rug.  Still not sure how that happened!  These cakes are very light and fluffy due to the sifted cake flour. I topped and filled mine with my favourite crusting cream cheese buttercream and some decorator sugar and toppings I had on hand. I love the color with this recipe. I have made them in the past where they weren’t red enough but it helps to use the dutch processed cocoa powder because it’s darker than regular cocoa.

Don’t forget to try this recipe out making the Red Velvet & Cream Cheese Cake Balls, they’re delicious! Ok, so now I’m off to make a cuppa and maybe sneak one of these! ~ Colleen

Just in case I get busy in the next day or so!Merry Christmas from Cake Artisan


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December
19
Filed Under (Not Cake, Pies) by Coco on 19-12-2009

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As a Foodbuzz Featured Publisher I had received a great coupon from Pepperidge Farms and wanted to make a meal around their pastry.  Easy!  Chicken Pot Pie.  I used my coupon to buy the frozen sheets of pastry and lined two pie plates, made my filling and topped with two puff pastry lids.  Delicious, quick and very affordable!

Ingredients:

1.5 T olive oil
2 cups diced onion
1 cup celery
1 tsp. minced garlic
4T all-purpose flour
1 ea. 10 oz bag  frozen peas and carrots
2 cups chicken stock or strong vegetable broth
2 cups diced chicken

1 package Pepperidge Farms puff pastry
Melted butter as needed

Method:

Using a small stock pot, heat oil and sauté onion and celery until translucent.
Add the diced chicken and cook until done.
Add garlic and sauté two minutes more.
Add flour and stir with a wooden spoon until well incorporated.
Pour in stock and stir.
Simmer until filling has thickened.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add remaining vegetables and stir until all is cooked thru.

Roll out pie crust and cut it about 1/2 an inch larger than the pie plate  you are using.  Add some of the filling.  I usually fill it almost to the edge.  I do brush the edge of the bottom pie shell with egg wash and then add the top crust, also rolled out to be a bit larger than the plate.  Secure the top crust to the bottom with a fork or by a folding method whichever you are used to.

Bake in pre-heated 400° oven until the crust is nice and golden as you want to make sure the bottom crust is cooking also.  The filling is already cooked so you just have to ensure that it is warmed through especially if you had pre-made it and it was refrigerated.

When you have a nice dark golden colour on your pastry you can remove it and serve it up!

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December
18
Filed Under (Sweet Stuff) by Coco on 18-12-2009

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Print recipe hereAfter many emails and requests on how to do this I am going to do a quick post.  I have used coloured sugars on many cookies and cupcakes and it’s really simple to make your own.  I’ve even made it with a pearlized sheen.  It all depends on the food colouring you choose.  The main thing to keep in mind is that you must use a POWDERED form of food colouring.  Any liquids or gels will just melt the sugar and you’ll have a colourful but sticky mess.

I try to buy a coarsely ground sugar for my decorating sugars just so it gives a little more impact, or you can always use regular white sugar if that’s all you can buy or have on hand.

Colorful Decorating Sugars

To be on the safe side you should probably start off with just a little of the food coloring and see what shade you get after you shake it (with the lid on tightly of course!).  You can then adjust it and make it darker by adding a little more coloring until you get the desired shade you are after.

Store your sugars in a dry space so they don’t clump up from moisture.

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December
17
Filed Under (Cookies, Sweet Stuff) by Coco on 17-12-2009

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Hubby has a work Holiday party tomorrow so I decided to make cookies instead of cupcakes for a change.  Plus, who can resist some of the great cookie recipes synonymous with this time of year.  I went with a tried and true favourite – the peanut butter cookie with a chocolate kiss pushed into the top.  While at the store buying kisses I saw the white and red striped peppermint variety and thought how fun they would look in a chocolate cookie, so I made those also.

Here are the two quickie recipes which will have you rolling in cookies in very short order:

Red Green Candy Bar

Like I said, after seeing how cute the peppermint kisses were I just had to make a chocolate cookie to put them on.  I had some red decorator sugar in the pantry and rolled just the tops of the cookie balls into that before baking for some extra holiday sparkle.

Chocolate Peppermint Kiss CookiesPrint recipe here


Chocolate Peppermint Kiss Cookies
Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 chocolate kiss for each cookie

Method:

1.  Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt and place aside.

2.  Cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

3.  On low speed, beat in flour mixture a little at a time, until well blended and smooth.

4.  Drop chocolate cookie dough onto greased baking sheets or silicone mat by rounded teaspoons, about 2 inches apart.   I rolled mine in coloured decorator sugar before placing them on the tray.

5.  Bake at 350° for 12 to 15 minutes, or until set.

Gently push a kiss into each cookie as soon as they come out of the oven.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

***TIP***  If you don’t have the coloured decorator sugar available you can make your own but you will still need powdered food colouring to add to regular white sugar.  Place 1 cup of white sugar into a container with a tight fitting lid and to that add about 1/4 teaspoon of powdered food colouring.  Shake the container until the white sugar turns coloured.  Of course you can adjust the amount of food colouring to make stronger or paler colours.

Red Green Candy Bar

Peanut Butter Chocolate Kiss Cookie 

Ingredients:Holiday Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookie

  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup of white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (I like to use crunchy but we only had smooth on hand)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Hersheys Kisses – 1 for each cookie

Method:

1.   Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2.  Cream together butter, both sugars and peanut butter.
3.  Add the egg and vanilla.
4.  Add flour, baking soda and salt.
5.  Form into small walnut sized balls.
6.  Roll in white sugar and place them on a cookie sheet.
7.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
8.  Press Hershey Kiss into each cookie when fresh out of the oven.Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.

***TIP*** It really helps to have removed the foil wrappers from the kisses BEFORE the cookies come out of the oven.  I did it for the first batch but was scrambling to get them unwrapped for the second batch before the  cookies cooled too much as they break up more when pushing in the kisses if too cool.

Also, some recipes say to return the cookies to the oven for a minute once the kisses are on the cookie but I really don’t prefer this as the kisses lost their point and looked more like the teats off a baby bottle… um no.  You can see the difference in the two photos since I didn’t do it on the chocolate peppermint cookies.

Have a wonderful time making these cookies for your family and friends!  I know I did.  As always, your email questions are most welcome.

~Colleen

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December
15
Filed Under (Sweet Stuff) by Coco on 15-12-2009

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How delighted I am to have had my Super Strawberry-licious Cake included in Chackos Kitchen’s 30 best recipe discoveries of 2009!  Be sure to visit Abraham’s blog and view his selection of top recipes and his own great recipes and nutrition information.

Super Strawberry-licious Cake Thank you Abraham!

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December
06
Filed Under (Sweet Stuff) by Coco on 06-12-2009

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Print recipe here

I love hot chocolate.  My daughters love hot chocolate.  In the past we’ve bought and tried many packaged mixes with some degree of pleasure.  It’s a cold day here in Oklahoma so I thought why not try making some from scratch.  This is a recipe my Mum passed on to me.  Very easy, tasty and rich.

Ingredients:

1 can of sweetened condensed milk (I prefer Eagle Brand)
1/2 cup cocoa or drinking chocolate (I used Cadbury’s this time, yum)
1 teaspoon of vanilla
pinch of salt
3 cups of milk
3 cups of warm water

Mini marshmallows are optional but a nice addition.

Method:

Place all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat.  Stir to combine.  Heat all ingredients until the desired temperature but do not boil.  You can keep this covered in the refrigerator for later drinks, warming in the microwave or on the stovetop.

Serve warmed to desired temp and topped with mini marshmallows!  You can also add a dash of peppermint essence for a choc mint treat or for those of us who indulge, try adding a shot of Kahlua.. mmmmmm..  ENJOY and Happy Holidays to you all.

Colleen 🙂

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