Monday, April 23, 2012

Best Peanut Butter Cookies Ever!

For those of you who follow my blog, you know that I have problems from time to time with high altitude baking since we live at almost 7000 feet here in Colorado Springs. Most of my cookies turn out fine, but every once in awhile, a cookie recipe will turn out a less than desired result... usually flat flat cookies. Such has been the case with my peanut butter cookies. However, not too long ago, I found this amazing peanut butter cookie recipe that works very well here in Colorado. Stock up on your peanut butter because this recipe calls for allot of peanut butter, but worth every bit. These cookies can be made with or without chocolate chips and they literally melt in your mouth... yum.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
(makes 4-5 dozen)

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups smooth or chunky peanut butter
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups chocolate chips (or peanut butter chips or both) optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine butter and peanut butter in large bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Add the brown and granulated sugars and mix until well combined. Add the eggs and beat for 1-2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Mix in milk and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix briefly. While there are still spots of flour, add in the chips and mix until well combined. Let cookie dough set for a few minutes to firm up. Scoop tablespoon size balls onto parchment lined baking sheets. Criss-cross with fork dipped in water. Bake for 10-11 minutes, taking care not to overbake in the slightest! Leave the cookies on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes to firm before removing them carefully to the cooling rack. The cookies may look slightly underbaked, but will firm as they cool. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

I finally have all my ducks in a row!

Look at this... all the little duckies in a row on this fun baby shower cake...

The awesome customer that I did this cake for went to the Ducky Shop in Manitou (I didn't even know that one existed) and got these 8 little baby duckies to use on the cake, then sent me a picture of a "ducky" cake. She gave me my decorator's free license to design the cake I wanted, and this is what I came up with. 
I had lots of fun making mama ducky out of rice krispie treats...
and learning how to make gelatin bubbles...

Click here for a link to the tutorial for making gelatin bubbles.
and making pearlized fondant ball "bubbles"
My customer, Jeanene, called after the shower to let me know that the cake was a huge hit and that it tasted wonderful (fudge marble with chocolate mousse filling). One of the greatest joys of being a cake decorator is hearing positive feedback from your customers. Thanks Jeanene.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Opposites...chocolate and vanilla fondants...same design


Look at these two cakes... very similar, yet very different... like night and day. Chocolate fondant with vanilla buttercream dots on quilted pattern, and vanilla fondant, with chocolate dots on quilted pattern... interesting comparison.

Whipped cream icing... tastes great, but not a favorite decorating medium

Yes, whipped cream icing tastes great, especially for those who like a "lighter" taste, but sometimes it can be a real "bear" to decorate with... and I found out  last weekend that edible pearls and stabilized whipped cream are not a good combination. I had never used edible pearls with whipped cream icing before. I decorated the cake the night before since it was a Saturday morning wedding delivery. Everywhere where I placed a pearl, the stabilized whipped cream cracked slightly. Still don't know why that happened, but I will not use them again. I will stick to the dots. Whipped cream is also very unforgiving, and is hard to get on the cake smoothly. Needless to say, whenever possible I will stick with the buttercream, ganache, and fondant. Thank you. 
Cake was vanilla with lemon curd, and yellow with whipped cream and fresh strawberries, covered in whipped cream icing.

Arizona Wedding

Last week I went to my friend LaDelle's wedding in Glendale, AZ. She requested that I come and do her wedding cake, so... because I had very limited time, I prepared everything except the cake itself before hand, and packed it into 2 check-in bags, and off I went to the airport. I made sure everything was labelled ... icings, fillings, fondants, flour, crisco, etc. ... along with cake pans and business card in each bag. Yes, both bags were inspected, but at least everything arrived intact. I got to AZ about 8 PM on Tuesday night, baked the cake, went to bed around 1:30 AM, got up at 8 AM on Wednesday to start decorating, and finished the cake about 10 minutes before time to deliver the cake... with a little help from my new friend Sara, who wanted to observe me as I decorated. I had an enjoyable time at the wedding, visiting with old friends while cutting the cake and giving best wishes and congratulations to my dear friend. Thursday morning I got up a little after 4 AM, and off we went to the airport for my trip back home to CO. Thanks bunches to my friend Denise, for letting me take over her kitchen to decorate, and for cleaning up my decorating mess and cake pans that I left because I ran out of time. A quick trip, but glad I could be a part of LaDelle's special day.

The happy bride and groom... LaDelle and Phil
Cake was chocolate with fudge nut filling and chocolate buttercream, and yellow with cream cheese and raspberry filling and vanilla buttercream, all covered in chocolate fondant.
Satin ribbon with antique gold embellishment, quilted pattern with ivory dots, and fondant rope border
Peacock feathers included in fresh flower arrangement on cake top. Sahuaro Ranch Park (where the wedding was held), is known for its peacocks which roam freely throughout the park and roost on the roofs of the building at night.