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Entries in tutorial (16)

Friday
May132011

Good Fish: Goldfish Bowl Cookies Tutorial

So, recently I received a review copy of a book called Good Fish: Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the Pacific Coast by Becky Selengut.

Now, I know why I received a review copy. It is because it was put out by the same publisher of my soon-to-be-released book, entitled CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life, which I might add is available for pre-order (nice plug!). It is also because I am a fan of Becky, who is not only a razor-sharp wit, but a heck of a cook, and a valued customer of mine (she used my cards for her wedding thank you cards, so she is guilty of very good taste).

But here's the thing. There's not one dessert recipe in the entire book. There are quinoa cakes, but of the savory persuasion. But everyone knows that savory cakes are just a good way to warm up your belly for sweet cakes.

So, in Becky's honor, I have created these goldfish-bowl cookies. Employing melted jolly ranchers form a translucent "bowl" over the goldfish crackers which are then finished off with writing icing, these cookies may look fishy, but taste anything but. While I would be lying if I said the jolly rancher taste was totally harmonious with the sugar cookie, it does make them awfully cute, and you can pull off the decoration before eating if desired.

Goldfish Bowl Cookies

 You need:

  • 12 jumbo sugar cookies, about 3 inches in diameter
  • Blue Jolly ranchers or translucent blue or clear candies (about 2 per cookie)
  • Goldfish Crackers (I used the S'more variety)
  • writing icing in various colors, for decoration

 Procedure:

  1. Lay your cookies in a row, and position the goldfish on each cookie in advance.
  2. Get out a small dish. Put about 4 of your candies in it at a time (you can do about 2 cookies' worth at a time; do more and it will get hard too fast). Microwave at medium heat until melted (for me, about 20 seconds). Holding the bowl carefully (you might want a mitt or something to protect you, because it will be hot), pour the candy directly on top of the positioned goldfish, using a spoon to smooth the candy into a circle. Work quickly because the candy will harden rapidly.
  3. Repeat, melting candy in small batches, until all of the cookies are done.
  4. Once the candy is hardened, use writing icing to form the bowl shape more clearly, and to add little fronds or pebbles in the "bowls".Decorating is more fun when you have feathers in your hair.
  5. Serve to your delighted friends after dinner, preferably something like this "heart-stoppingly delicious" dungeness crab mac and cheese from Becky's book, which can be purchased here.
Thursday
Jan202011

Let it Snow, Man: Snowman Cupcakes from Bredenbeck's Bakery, Chestnut Hill, PA

Winter got you down? Well, here's a way to add some sugar to the cold, dark days: Snowman Cupcakes!

Snowman-ify the cupcakes of your choice with this super-easy tutorial from Philadelphia's Bredenbeck's Bakery--not only is it easy, but it's fun and delicious when you're snowed in.

Here's how you do it.

You’ll need:
  • A dozen of your favorite cupcakes
  • 16 oz. vanilla icing
  • 22 oz. (two packages) white chocolate chips
  • Red shoestring licorice, black gel icing, candies for decorating
  1. Start with your favorite cupcake recipe and bake according to instructions
  2. Flip your cooled cupcakes upside down, and spoon a dollop of icing on top to add height
  3. Place the iced cupcakes in the freezer until icing is firm
  4. Melt white chocolate in a double boiler
  5. Place frozen iced cupcakes on a wire rack
  6. Spoon melted white chocolate over top of iced cupcakes, allowing excess to drizzle through wire rack
  7. Wrap a few pieces of shoestring licorice around for a scarf, create a face, nose and buttons using the black gel icing and candies.

Of course, if you make them, share your pictures with them on the Bredenbeck's Facebook Page for sweet snow day fun!

 

Tuesday
Oct192010

Guest Post: How To Make Gelatin Bows by Nellie Cakes

CakeSpy Note: This is a guest post from Nellie Cakes, a blog written by Nell, a mom who taught herself how to bake so her daughter could have way cooler cupcakes on her birthday than anyone else in school. 

First thing: look at the cake on the top left of the above picture. Now, disregard the cake for a minute, and check out that bow on top! How pretty is that? And guess what! It’s completely edible.  Here’s a closer look at it:

It doesn’t actually taste like much of anything, but it won’t detract from the taste of the cake either, if you decide to slice right on through it. (Which would probably be pretty tough to do.)

Bows aren’t the only thing you can make with this method either! (Flowers and butterflies would look gorgeous too, no?)

There’s another cool thing about it too! You can use the scraps from your project to make your own home-made edible glitter for all your other pretty desserts! To do that, just take the clippings that you’d normally throw away after you finished the project and cut them into tiny pieces. When I held my clippings next to the glitter I bought, I couldn’t tell the difference at all!

You’ll have to plan a little ahead of time if you want it to be ready for that cake you made because it takes about twelve hours for it to completely dry, plus the assembly time.

Ok, here’s what you need:

  • Unflavored gelatin (like Knox)
  • Water
  • Food coloring
  • A clean paint brush
  • A non-stick surface, like a pattern board for fondant. (I used Duff Goldman’s Texture Tiles, which were at Michaels for $5)
  • Scissors

Take one packet of the gelatin (about one tablespoon) and put it in a small bowl with 2 ½ tablespoons of water. Give it enough time to soak up the water completely, about five minutes.

After that’s done, put it in the microwave for about five seconds. Gelatin melts at really low temperatures, so that’s all you’ll need to liquefy it. When you pull it out, it should look like this:

Let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes. When it cools to the right point, a layer of… well, scum, will form on the top. Take a stick of some kind and lift that layer off. If it won’t stay on the stick, let it cool for a few more minutes and try again. It should come off mostly in one piece. Discard that part. Once that’s done, it should look like this:

Nice and clear.

By this time, it will probably be too thick to do anything with, so throw it back in the microwave for another five seconds. When it comes out, add the food coloring and mix it around. To make the pink/red in the bow, I only put one drop of regular liquid food coloring in there. If you want it to be more intense, you could always add more. You can also paint the dried gelatin afterward, with a mixture of high proof vodka and food coloring, so if it dries a lighter color than you anticipated, it’s not a total loss. If you do paint it, the gelatin will warp when it gets wet. Make sure you have two non stick surfaces you can sandwich it between, and put a book or something on top until it dries again.

Once you have it the right color, dip your paint brush in the gelatin and paint it onto the non-stick surface, like this:

I made mine pretty thin, stretching the gelatin to cover two and a half boards, which worked out perfectly for the bow, which measured about five inches across. If you want the bow to be bigger or smaller, you can alter the amount. 

My original surface had a simple pattern on it, so it came off pretty easily. Be careful with patterns that are deeper. They’ll cause the gelatin to pool in certain spots, which will make it pretty difficult to peel off the board without cracking it.

Now you wait. It will begin to harden up pretty quickly, but it takes about 12 hours to fully dry. You’ll know it’s dry because you’ll hear it popping off the board. The first time this happened, I walked all over the house trying to figure out what that crackling noise was. I figured it out about a half an hour into the search. I felt like a moron.

The second time I made this, I made sure to paint it on at night so it would be dry the next morning.

Now that it’s all dry (and weirdly plastic like), slowly pull it off the board. It’s amazingly strong, so you don’t have to worry too much about ripping or cracking it.

Take out a pair of clean scissors (you could even use fancy craft scissors) and clean up the edges so it’s a nice rectangle. Then, cut the rectangles into strips. Mine were about half an inch thick. Like so:

This is where it gets a little trickier. Take the strip and bend it in half, trying not to crease it anywhere. You kind of have to fidget with it to get it right. Once it looks good, warm up some more of the gelatin (if you have some left over. If you don’t, make a tiny bit more) and dip the opposite end of your paint brush in it, and put a dot of the gelatin where you want the edges of the bow to attach. Just pretend it’s Elmer’s glue. You might have to hold it there for a little while until it stays stuck, of you could use paper clips like I did:

 While those are drying, trim a little bit off the ends of the strips you have left, and make smaller loops. And then do it again with even smaller loops. While you wait for those to dry, you can begin assembling the larger ones, if you feel they’re stable enough. Use some of the gelatin to glue the edges together, forming a star with the loops, kind of like this:

Make sure you glue everything together on top of your non-stick surface, or you’ll end up chiseling gelatin off your table. (Not that I’d know first hand or anything…)

Once that’s stable, add in the smaller ones on top of the first row, but still in between them so it looks well spaced. Repeat. You kind of have to mess around with it to see what looks best. Keep adding the loops until you feel like it’s nice and full. Also, make sure to give yourself time between each major addition, so it doesn’t all fall apart on you.

Let it dry over night.When it’s totally dry, you’d be surprised how durable it is! Now you can put it on top of a cake! I used a couple dabs of corn syrup to make it stick.

Here’s a picture of the finished bow before it went on the cake:

...and here's the cake again.

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial! For more awesome, visit Nellie Cakes!

Sunday
Jul182010

Totally Sweet Guest Post: Decorated Party Cookies by Bird Crafts

CakeSpy Note: This is a guest post from Bird, who would like to introduce herself thusly: Hi everyone, I'm Bird from Bird Crafts and I love to blog, chat, craft and design printable party goodies (which you can get at my shop on Etsy). You can also find the full tutorial on her site.

Yep, these are my first decorated cookies. I don't say that to brag, but rather as a huuuuuge disclaimer and perhaps as an incentive for you to have a go too. 'Cause if a total cookie virgin can ("can" being a very loose term here...), then anyone can!

I got my cookie dough recipe and cookie cutters from a baking supplies on-line shop as they make tons of cookies for demonstration purposes, and so I figured their recipe would stand the test. And it did!

It held the intricate frog and butterfly shapes beautifully and tasted great! The only ingredient missing was 2 tea-spoons of bicarbonate of soda or some other raising ingredient, I think.

Anyhow, if you're using this recipe, be sure to persevere until you eventually get a smooth dough like the photo above and refrigerate the dough covered in cling film for at least 2 hours. It is a very short (crumbly) dough and it needs to be chilled before you attack it!

TIP: before rolling your dough, make sure to cover you working surface and rolling pin with flour. It does not say that on the recipe sheet, but I found it helped a lot.

Whilst you let your cookies cool down on the wire rack (Yep, I even attempted lollipop cookies, but that's another post..), prepare your icing.

Now, this was a total guess work but later I discovered the ratio of icing sugar to water is just so the mixture has a syrup consistency and covers the back of a spoon without being too thin (very scientific...NOT). But you'll be able to experiment and get the right consistency after a few attempts. 

TIP: If it's too sloppy, add more sugar. If it's too thick add more water (a few drops at a time).

Add a few drops of liquid food colouring and set aside covered with film so it does not get a crust. 

I must say that if it hadn't been for Wilton's Icing tubes, I would not be writing this post. 

TIP: If you're a novice to icing you should purchase these tubes to practice with, otherwise you may totally lose the will to live...

The tubes are sooo easy to handle even if you don't have very steady hands. Plus, you can simply screw the lid back on and store the rest for another occasion. Please note: Wilton are NOT paying me to say that!

Where were we...Now, draw a thin line all around you cookie. Doesn't have to be neat, you'll be able to re-do it later. You just need a line to act as a barrier holding the thinner icing inside. Fill the gap with the thinner icing you reserved. 

TIP: Don't be tempted to place too much on, otherwise it may run over the lines.

TIP: Use a tooth pick to help you "guide" the icing into the little corners and small spaces. 

TIP: Note that I am decorating the underside of the cookie? This is because the right side is slightly raised in the cooking process and you really need a flat surface to work with - So turn those babies upside down to decorate.

Let your cookies dry over night. I sat mine on a baking tray on my worktop.  

Next day, add the finishing touches to your design, like going over the edges of the cookie one more time with the Wilton's icing tube and adding detailing.
Let the cookies dry another day, but make sure there are no curious hands or teeth about. Place them in cute party bags and make someone's day!

Oh, and I used the cupcake toppers from my Garden Party Collection as favor tags, and my assorted  matching Fabrics as the the background (fabrics coming soon to my shop)! Tags vailable at my Etsy shop.

TIP: Although this whole process takes 3 days you can make the cookies in advance:

1. You can chill the dough and roll it out the next day.

2. You can freeze the baked cookies without the icing

3. You can also freeze the cookies already decorated in a covered plastic container, separated by grease-proof paper. Defrost them covered at room temperature for about 2 hours. They taste basically the same as fresh. Honestly, I tried!

I don't really know how long you can keep them in the freezer for, but I am testing that for you. I guess because the recipe contains butter it wouldn't be advisable to freeze them for longer than 3 months...(CakeSpy Note: but really, will they last that long?)

Sunday
Feb142010

Sweets for the Sweet: Valentine's Day Cupcake Tutorial from Hello Naomi

Now would be an appropriate time for me to act very high and mighty on the subject of Hello Naomi in a "I discovered her way before the fact" sort of way. After all, she was first featured on CakeSpy over 2 years ago, while she was still a student and baked only as a Flickr-posting hobbyist. But I'm not gonna be like that--I can share.

Of course, awesome like hers couldn't be contained, and now she's moved on to wonderful things including starting her own baking business, and she's also dipped into party planning and works with a company that does invitation design

And happily, she's offered up a sweet tutorial for Valentine's Day Cupcakes. It's not too late to whip up a batch for your sweetie!

Valentines Day Cupcake Tutorial

Makes 12

What you will need:

 

  • 12 vanilla cupcakes (here's Naomi's recipe)
  • 500g ready to roll white icing (fondant)
  • Red gel food dye
  • Blue food dye
  • Circle cutter (the same size as your cupcake tops)
  • 2 size heart cutters
  • Non-stick small rolling pin
  • Plastic mat
  • Pure icing sugar for dusting
  • Water or cake decorating glue w/ small paintbrush

 

 Procedure

  1. Divide the fondant into 4. Using a plastic mat, dye one lot of fondant red, one pink, one blue and leave the other white. Colouring is done by kneeding drops of colour into the fondant until mixed through evenly. Pink is made by using a small amount of the red dye, red is eventually achieved by using a fair amount of dye (using a gel dye is much faster than using liquid dye). Use sifted icing sugar to soak up any moisture from the dye and prevent sticking. Wrap each colour in cling wrap. Wipe mat after each colour.
  2. Roll out the white fondant until aprox ¼ inch thick. Dust icing sugar on the top and bottom if sticking and dust away excess.
  3. Cut out 3x circles using the circle cutter. Using a pallet knife or flat knife lift each circle, lightly wet the back using a paint brush and place onto a cupcake. Smooth the top and edges using the palm of your hand. Wrap excess fondant in cling wrap.
  4. Repeat for 3 pink cupcakes and 6 blue ones.
  5. Once all the cupcakes are covered it is time to decorate them. Roll out the remaining pink fondant and cut out 3 large hearts. Lightly wet the back and place in the middle of 3 blue cupcakes. Roll out the remaining white fondant, cut out 3 large hearts, lightly wet the back and place in the middle of the remaining 3 blue cupcakes.
  6. Roll out the red fondant, cut out 12 hearts, lightly wet the back and place in the middle of each cupcake.
  7. Package them in a cute box with tissue paper, alternating designs, and give them to someone special!

About the contributor: Naomi was studying her PhD in Computer Engineering when she discovered her love of cake decorating. By posting photos onto the photo sharing website flickr under the user name ‘hello naomi’ she quickly became well known for her original designs and demand quickly grew to the point where she decided to start a business in 2009. Since then she has also ventured into party planning, collaborating with Imprintables invitations to form scissors.paper.cake.

Wednesday
Feb102010

Sweet Hearts: Homemade Conversation Hearts for Serious Eats

Sure, conversation hearts are a sweet gesture. But are you sending the wrong message?

Do you really want, for instance, to say "text me" to someone from whom you'd rather not receive digital missives, or to downplay your serious crush by leaving it at "U R Special"?

Avoid etiquette blunders and tell them how you really feel by making your own personalized homemade conversation hearts. They're surprisingly easy to make, just as sweet as the store bought kind, and you have the freedom to set the tone you want--whether it's sweet, snarky, or confessional.

Find the full writeup and tutorial over at Serious Eats! Oh, and happy freaking Valentine's Day!

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