Saturday, March 24, 2012

Sweet Saturdays ~ Take 5 Cupcakes

We have a list of cupcake flavors we'd like to try. And we finally got some free time to make up a batch. I let my Facebook fans choose which flavor they'd like to try the most and the cupcake chosen was a Take 5 Cupcake.
The Take 5 candy bar is a combination of pretzels, peanut butter, caramel, and chocolate. Can you say yum! I found a great looking cupcake recipe on pinterest and decided to give it a go. As with trying out any new recipe, I'm always leary of what I don't know. But these turned out great (though I made a few small alterations).

This recipe is from Jamie at My Baking Addiction

Take 5 Cupcakes

YIELD: 24 Cupcakes
PREP TIME: 30 minutes
COOK TIME: 22 minutes


For the Cupcakes

1 (18.25 ounce) package devil’s food cake mix (I use Betty Crocker Super Moist)
1 (5.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup warm water
24 Fun Size Take 5 Candy Bars; cut in half

For the Peanut Butter Butter Cream

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted
6-8 tablespoons heavy cream (if using milk, amount will be less)

Caramel Sauce (recipe here)

Crushed Pretzels

For the Chocolate Glaze 

4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped into very small pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


For the Cupcakes

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tin with paper liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, eggs, vanilla and water. Beat for about two minutes on medium speed until well combined.
3. Using a large cookie scoop, distribute the batter between 24 muffin wells; about 3 tablespoons of batter per well. 
4. Bake in preheated oven for 20-24 minutes or until the tops of the cakes spring back when lightly touched.  Allow cupcakes to cool inside muffin tins for about 10 minutes.
5. Remove cupcakes from muffin tins and allow to fully cool on a wire rack. Once cupcakes are cool, prepare your frosting.

For the Peanut Butter Buttercream

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, cream butter and peanut butter on medium speed until fluffy. Turn your mixer down to low speed and slowly add in the confectioner’s sugar, and continue mixing until well blended.
2. Add vanilla and 4 tablespoons of heavy cream. Blend on low speed until moistened. Add an additional 1 to 4 tablespoons of heavy cream until you reach the desired consistency. Beat at high speed until frosting is smooth and fluffy
3. Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes. Prepare Chocolate Glaze.

For the Chocolate Glaze Assembly

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the heavy cream until very hot, but not boiling.
2. Place chocolate pieces in a heat safe bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and allow it to sit for about 5 minutes. Whisk the cream and chocolate until smooth and thoroughly combined. Whisk in the honey, corn syrup, and vanilla. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes. Do not let the glaze sit for too long or it will harden up before you spoon it over the frosting.


Sprinkle crushed pretzels onto the peanut butter buttercream. You may need to slightly press them into place. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of caramel sauce on top of the cupcake. You can use store bought caramel sauce but it won't be as thick. Top with another heaping tablespoon of chocolate ganache. Let set.

*Optional: sprinkling crushed peanuts onto chocolate ganache

Friday, March 23, 2012

Made from scratch caramel sauce!

Don't be intimidated by the title! This is possibly one of the easiest things in the world to make and tastes great. I originally found this recipe from Annie's Eats (I love her website!). I mentally bookmarked the idea and forgot about (in other words: was too afraid to try it) for a few months. Read the directions and you'll understand why. So for the time being, I kept using the gourmet sauce that my awesome husband was able to order for me through his work (Marrying a chef has it's perks). Eventually though, I was using so much, so sporadically that it was getting hard to figure out if we needed more and how much more. When you go from using 2 lbs of caramel sauce a week to not using any for two weeks, it's hard to decide how much you should keep on hand.
I operate completely out of my small house (Yay for cottage food laws!) so space is limited. I went back to Annie's recipe but I was a little afraid of cooking sugar. More specifically, I was afraid that I'd burn the sugar. So I tried several different recipes that had sugar dissolved in a liquid. And none of them turned out great. And if there is one thing I am a little OCD about, it's making sure that what comes out of my kitchen is great.
So reluctantly I tried Annie's recipe.
The first time I made it, I did not realize that the sugar on the bottom of the pan would be melting while it appeared like nothing was happening from the top. I'll admit it, it was a little overcooked but I noticed it too late into cooking the sugar to do anything about and figured what the heck, keep going and see how it turns out. It turned out great! The first day it was obvious that it had been over cooked. The second day, the flavor had mellowed out a bit and after the third day, my husband was declaring it better than anything he'd ever tried. Notice my jar of caramel....almost gone. I didn't think to take a picture of it until after I had filled up my squeeze bottle.

Vanilla Bean Caramel Sauce

Yield: 1½  cups
1 cup sugar
1¼ cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
¼ tsp. coarse salt
½ tsp. vanilla extract
Spread the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Place over medium-low heat, watching carefully.  When the sugar begins to liquefy around the edges, use a heatproof spatula to gently stir it towards the center.  Continue stirring very gently until all the sugar is melted, taking care not to over stir.  Measure out the heavy cream in a liquid measuring cup and scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the cream.  Set aside.  Once the caramel reaches a deep amber color, immediately remove the sauce pan from the heat.  (To test the color, spoon a drop onto a white plate or bowl.)  Carefully whisk in half of the heavy cream along with the vanilla bean seeds.  The mixture will steam and bubble violently.  Stir until the cream is well incorporated, then whisk in the remaining cream.  Stir in the salt and the vanilla.  If any sugar has hardened, place the saucepan over low heat and whisk until smooth.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  If needed, it can be rewarmed in the microwave or in a saucepan over low heat.

*From my experience, the sugar always hardens when you add the cream. I might try heating up the cream next time...if I remember...and see if that helps. If that happens, just keep the sauce over a medium low heat and stir (and stir and stir) until smooth. If you don't have vanilla bean or don't want to spend $4 on one bean, the sauce also tastes great without it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

DIY Electronic Quiz board

All three of my boys are Boy Scouts. Not only does that make our schedule extremely hectic during the school year, but it also keeps me super busy because I'm usually the one helping them out with their achievements/electives.
My oldest son's den went to the Science Center to learn about electricity. Because it was on a Sunday, we weren't able to go with them so we did our own electricity science experiment at home. At the beginning of the school year we had checked out a book from the library that had design plans for building an electronic quiz board. And naturally, because I decided that would be a good replacement achievement for Christian, I wasn't able to find the book again. But I wasn't too worried because I figured somewhere on google, there would be some information I could use. I was wrong. There are some made with a Christmas light bulb and aluminum foil on cardstock. But I had plans on using this board for impromptu home-school quizzes. 
Let me start out by saying, I have absolutely no experience with electricity except for plugging something in or flipping a switch. But I'm never one to back down from a challenge! Lowe's sells small 6W light bulb sockets and bulbs in the hobby section of their hardware aisle. But it would have been $10ish just for those two parts. Plus buying the wires, battery packs, etc. I wanted this to be cheap! Ultimately, I spent $16 on a large quiz board that we will use every week.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Customize a cake

Have I mentioned before that these months are the slow months for me? It's nice to get a break but at the same time, I love baking and trying out new flavors, and staying busy. I haven't had much in the way of orders the past few weeks. Or at least orders that are for recipes I haven't already shared with you.

I was however, asked to babysit for a family (that I love) so the mom and dad could celebrate her birthday. I was already trying to figure out a design for a birthday cake for her so this worked out great. In my mind I had picked out a beautiful design with modeled flowers spilling out over the cake. But once I learned that I would have their 3 boys my design took on a completely different design.
I had been planning on making one of the most adorable cakes for my husband for either his birthday in a few weeks or for Father's Day. It all depended on if I found another manly cake that I wanted to make for him and which occasion it would fit better. The idea was to have my kids collaborate together and draw a picture for him. My kids are quite the artists (if I may brag a little) so I knew that the picture would be full of detail and wouldn't need much design from me. And then I would use my edible image printer to copy that picture onto icing.