Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Welcome to Candyland

You know what's super easy to make?  Those gorgeous candy covered pretzels above.  So easy, that I can show you how to make them in one collaged picture.

Pretzels (either rods or bows will do)
Colored Candy Melts
Optional:  Sprinkles  (Because who doesn't like some added pretty?)

1. Melt candy melts in microwave in a glass bowl.
2. Dip pretzels in bowl, tap off excess candy and place on parchment paper.
3. Optional: Toss some sprinkles on top for good measure.
4. Pop in freezer or fridge for 5 minutes to harden.
5. Done!

What are these good for?  For EVERYTHING.  True story.  The salt and sweet combo makes you never want to stop eating them. I'm surprised I'm not eating some right now.  I made purple rods and blue pretzel bows. What for?  A blue and purple themed dessert table.

Bff called me a few months ago with a special request.  His niece was turning 15, he loves and spoils her like crazy, and she wanted a dessert table -- would I help?  Of course I would.  So I spent my time planning the table, he spent his time shopping for ridiculously cute candy and cupcake themed party decor.

We used all glass jars and trays  and filled them with blue and purple candy.  Bff made centerpieces with adorable lollipops.  We tied ribbons and bows to anything we could.

Then we used polka dots and stripes throughout the table.  Especially on the place cards and signs.  Oh those place cards?  Yeah, aren't they awesome and adorable?  Thought so.  A big, BIG thanks to Pam who blogs all things art and fashion at Just Pandippo.  She made the banner I use for this site but was also kind enough to take time out of her busy day to make these for us.  And she didn't even get a cupcake or cookie in return!!!  That's friendship.   And as an extra special Halloween treat, if you're looking for some blue and purple place cards/signs she's willing to give them to you.  :)  Just head over to her post here and download them for free!  Thanks Pam!   (Also, these actually print out teal, my printer colors were off and I didn't have time to redo it.  Oops.)

I also baked a little.  I made lemon filled blackberry cupcakes and my awesome peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.  The cupcakes are new.  That's not even a good look at them is it?  It's just a sneak peak.  :)

Did I mention we had another smaller side table too? We had to because we had a Chocolate Fountain!  It was so messy.  Bff got chocolate all over his dress shirt b/c they didn't secure it properly before turning it on.  The clean up was a pain, but it was worth it.  Especially if you got to make yummy little creations like that faux raspberry s'more down below.  That one was mine.  I ate it.  Twice.  Cinnamon graham cracker, chocolate dipped marshmallow and a chocolate dipped raspberry on top.  You know you want. (Do you see the heart in the chocolate on that other marshmallow by the way?  <3 cute="cute" p="p" so="so">

And then for good measure, we also had an ice cream float station with the best little sprinkle cups EVER.  I got kind of obsessed with them and took a bunch home.  I don't know what I am going to do with them yet... but be assured that you will see them again.  We had three kinds of soda to choose from. Whatever float you wanted, I served with a smile.   You will also see that I made some chocolate truffles.  Half were rolled in cocoa powder and half were rolled in graham crackers. They probably look familiar.  I've blogged about them before.  

And Oh my God the cake right?  My friend Jimmy made the cake, and BFF directed the decoration for it.  Jimmy is the same one who made this Hollywood cake for his own Birthday back in April.    Amazing right?  Two layers, two different flavors.

I had helped out with a pink bridal shower dessert table earlier this summer and was excited to do this (mostly) on my own.  It was a lot of fun.  A lot of work.. but a lot of fun.  The gorgeous birthday girl was very thankful  and gracious (so unusual for a teenager) that we spent the time to make her big day special.  

I had a blast.  And I might have had fairy wings on.  (Hey it was supposed to be a costume party, but apparently only I got the memo.) And a necklace with REAL sprinkles inside.  A candy fairy maybe?

Have a safe, sweet and happy Halloween! 

Recipe for the chocolate truffles..
Recipe for the cupcakes.
You can buy the chocolate fountain and chocolate candy we used online at Sephra.
Download Pandippo's awesome placement cards.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mexican Chocolate Sugar Skull Cupcakes

I like skulls.

That's probably the best way to preface this (really long, picture heavy) post.  Regular skulls.  Sugar skulls.  On my ears.  On my mugs.  On my scarves.  On my swim suits. On my clutches. On my shirts.  On my Giants gear.  I dig them, okay?  Mix them with flowers or studs and OMG-must-buy.  So I decided that I wanted them on my cupcakes too.

Sugar skulls are particularly big right now and with Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) just a few weeks away I felt compelled to celebrate a little early.  Google failed me when searching for pre-made sugar skulls to use as garnish.  But etsy didn't!

I bought plain skull molds and lotsssss of candy melts. Colored melts that I'd use to make the skulls into Day of the Dead skulls.  I love their heart shaped eye sockets!  The teeth were the only parts that I didnt' hand pipe.  The rest I had to do by hand. But nothing a steady hand, patience and some ziplock bags couldn't handle!

Once I knew I was making them, I racked my brain for what flavor to make the cupcakes.  I was going to do Mexican hot chocolate but my dear friend Katie brought me back something from her trip from New Mexico that was so delicious and awesome that  I instantly knew I had to use that instead.

She brought me back this Mexican chocolate from Kakawa Chocolate House.  A darker grade of chocolate at 60% cocoa, (who actually likes milk chocolate anyways?) with hints of cinnamon, almonds, cane juice and Mexican vanilla. The blend has something of a kick to it.  Not your ordinary chocolate here, so no way was I going to melt this stuff into a batter when I am still looking for the perfect chocolate cupcake recipe.

That'd be a waste.   I was making this into ganache.  I wanted to taste that kick that cinnamon and spices gives to the chocolate. I wanted to make holes in my cupcakes and shove so much chocolately goodness in the middle that it spilled over the sides.

It had to be done.

And to compliment the light spicyness of the chocolate I added cinnamon to  this chocolate recipe. And then since I was so heavy into the Mexican theme anyways, I busted out my trusty Mexican caramel -- cajeta.

Cinnamon Chocolate Cupcakes
Bake at 350* for 19 minutes, makes 20.

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Ghirardelli) 
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
3/4 cup hot water
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp canola or other vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract

1. In bowl of stand mixer, combine dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking soda and powder, salt and cinnamon) and sift together.  (Use a sifter.)
2. Turn on mixer on medium and add in wet ingredients (eggs, hot water, cream, oil and vanilla) one by one.
3. Mix until fully incorporated.
4. Bake cupcakes, cool on rack and then core middles to fill with the ganache below.

4 oz "Modern Mexican" chocolate (Kakawa Chocolate House)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1. Warm cream on stove top or in microwave until hot but before boiling.
2. Pour over chocolate and whisk until smooth.
3. Once cool enough to handle, put into a ziplock bag with the end cut off and pipe into centers of cupcakes.

Cajeta Frosting
1 stick cream cheese
1 stick butter
1/2 cup cajeta
3 cups powdered sugar

1. Cream butter and cream cheese together until smooth.
2. Add in cajeta and beat until fully incorporated
3. Add powdered sugar slowly until desired consistency is reached.
4. Pipe onto cupcakes.

The result was Cinnamon Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes with Cajeta Frosting.  Some had more of that divine Mexican chocolate garnished on top.

But the majority had my bright sugar skulls.

I loved how the skulls came out.  Although I do admit I wish the molds had been smaller since they covered all the cupcake/frosting, the bigger skulls worked well because they gave me more room to "draw" on them.  I think they all have some personality to them right?

I must admit that I have my favorites though. Mainly the two below.

Whats't not to love about mustaches right?  PURPLE MUSTACHES people!

Sadly, I am still waiting to find my PERFECT chocolate cupcake recipe.  I used Sprinke Bake's recipe this time because I am currently in love with her and think everything she touches is magic.  But it was a little crumblier than I hoped it would be.  So the search continues.  Anyone have any recommendations?

In any case, they cupcakes were still good and the addition of the cinnamon to the batter was an excellent choice.  When you eat them all together it turns into a mess of course, but the mess was so rich and delicious that it more than makes up for having chocolate crumbs and sticky frosting all over your face and hands.

But wait boys and girls.  There's more.  If that wasn't enough I decided that I had to take it one step further.  I mean, yes Mexican Chocolate cupcakes rock.  Yes, Day of the Dead Sugar Skulls on top of said cupcakes are even more awesome.  What else could I do?

San Francisco Giants Sugar Skulls.

With mustaches AND a beard!

 Loosely based off this awesome Oaklandish shirt I got earlier in the season.  A bad ass season that's brought us into the Post Season now!

I guess you can say that I'm a fan right?  First cookies and now cupcakes?  What will I do next? When we win the World Series (right before Dia de Los Muertos), i'll let you know.  Viva Gigantes! Happy Early Halloween!  Happy Day of the Dead!  (Orange) October is awesome.