Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Green Velvet Cookies

In honor of St. Patrick's day, when everyone is a little Irish, I decided to make some Green Velvet Cookies. These are exactly like Red Velvet Cookies or cake, but you add green food coloring instead of red. My enabling co-worker had brought some of these wonderful cookies in several months ago, and I thought they were fabulous! I tried making them with a cake mix instead of doing them from scratch...the results were less than satisfying. I mean, they weren't terrible cookies, but they weren't great either. Sadly, I don't have any pictures of these cookies, but they were much flatter and drier than this from-scratch recipe.

So, with no further ado...Happy St. Patrick's Day. velvet cookies chocked full of semi-sweet mini chocolate chips and topped with cream cheese icing. I'm sure there is something that is better than this, but I haven't found it yet!

The recipe is pretty simple, even if it does have quite a few ingredients. Personally, I hope to never have to make another batch of cookies where I have to stir them by hand. I'm in love with my Kitchenaid stand mixer and couldn't live without it. Although, I think it wouldn't be bad to mix these cookies up by hand. They aren't too stiff like come cookie dough can get. This is more like a firm cake batter instead of a stiff cookie dough. Depending on the size of cookie you make, you can get 2 or 3 dozen cookies out of on batch. It is also very easy to make a double batch.

I used about a tablespoon for each cookie. This makes a nice bite-sized cookie. Sure, it looks huge in the picture, but in reality, each cookie was only about 1.5 inches across (2 inches if I got a little crazy).

They don't spread out very much as they bake, so you can cram them onto the cookie sheet if you want. It is also very hard to tell when the cookies are done. My co-worker recommended just baking them for the full 11 minutes and said they should be firm when touched. I used a toothpick like you would with a cake on the first couple of sheets to test for doneness and that worked pretty good. If it came out clean, then they were done. I also found that she was correct on the took about 11 minutes for them to be done. After the second cookie sheet's worth, I just set the timer and took them out when the buzzer went off.

I'd never made cream cheese frosting before and was really surprised that you don't have to add any liquid. You have to add milk or cream when making butter cream (thus the name butter...cream) icing. This icing came out nice and creamy, not to mention yummy! There was just the right amount of icing, too, which was nice. I hate it when I run out of icing half way through a batch of cookies. Very annoying!

To summarize, this is one instance where you just can't use a box cake mix as a substitute and expect to get the same result. I'm sure might be able to come close, but I just don't have the patience to mess with it. I'd much rather just make this recipe from scratch!


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 (1 ounce) squares semi-sweet baking chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon red food coloring
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1.5 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted



  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper and then spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Melt chocolate in microwave. Start with 30 seconds, then stir. Then do 15 seconds and stir until the chocolate is smooth. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the butter, crown sugar, and granulated sugar. Beat on medium speed until smooth.
  4. Add the baking soda and salt, and resume beating on medium until incorporated. Add the egg and beat until batter is smooth. Add the food coloring and mix for about 30 seconds or until evenly distributed.
  5. Scrape down bowl. Then add the melted chocolate and mix for about a minute at medium speed. Scrape down bowl again. 
  6. At low speed, add half the flour (1 cup). When the flour is incorporated, mix in the sour cream.
  7. Scrape down the bowl again and add the rest of the flour. Beat until the flour is fully incorporated.
  8. Stir in chocolate chips by hand.
  9. Use a teaspoon to spoon the dough onto the parchment-lined cookie sheets. 12-16 cookies per sheet, depending on the size of the sheet. Bake at 375 degrees F for 9-11 minutes, or until they rise and become firm. Slide parchment from the cookie sheets and onto a wire rack. Let cookies cool on the rack before icing. (Note: You can reuse the parchment paper if you want).

Cream Cheese Icing

  1. Mix the softened (but not melted) butter with the room-temperature cream cheese. Add vanilla and beat until smooth.
  2. Add the confectioners' sugar in half-cup increments (at low speed) until the frosting is of proper spreading consistency.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Monster Themed Cupcakes

I always volunteer to make all the birthday cakes for my family, with the exception of my brother's cake. My sister-in-law always makes that one. Well, this year my nephew requested a "monster" cake. I had this brilliant idea of how to make a furry monster cake. It ended up being a lot more difficult to make, and the results were far below my original expectations. And, as usual, I was doing it late at night and at the last minute. He loved it though, and that's what counts.

He also requested that I make some monster themed cupcakes for birthday party at school. These turned out much better. I use the grass tip for the yellow icing. The arms were pretzel sticks. The eyes were white icing and sparkly piping gel. I used a triangle of strawberry fruit roll-up for the tongue. They turned out looking rather happy and totally unscary. He said that his friends LOVED them. Score one for Auntie!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Queen Dink!

Let me just start this post by announcing that I am the WORST Aunt ever!!! Remember all that careful planning I mention in my posts? Well, it doesn’t amount to anything when you neglect to look at the planner! The day of my niece’s birthday my sister-in-law looked at me and said, “She does have a cake, right?” My answer was a horrified, “NO!!!”

Yes, it’s true. I forgot to bake my niece’s birthday cake. I’m a total dink! Queen Dink, that's me. Now, everyone was upset with me, and since we were already on our way to work, there was no way I could bake the cake myself. Luckily, my mom agreed to go get all the stuff from my house and bake the cake while I was at work. The tricky part was going to be getting it decorated since we had plans to go out to eat before opening presents and eating the cake. Eating the cake was purely theoretical, since there WAS no cake at this point.

It worked out in the end, but I didn’t have time to ice the cake the way I had planned. It was done in a very, very quick manner and topped off with a Darth Vader candle. Personally, I think it looked like Vader is stuck waist deep in a big pile of poop…

Overall, I think the cake looked nice for the very minimal amount of time that was put into it. I still feel really bad about forgetting to bake it, but thankfully my niece is a sweetheart and she forgave me!

I would like to point out that me forgetting the cake wasn’t simply because I did nothing during the days leading up to her birthday. I had made a zillion cookies to give as gifts to coworkers (Alas, I have no pictures of these). Seriously, I made so many cookies that I have no clue how many dozens the total was once I was done! I also had two work functions to attend the Saturday and Sunday before her birthday. I was running around like a nut trying to get everything done, and the birthday cake was apparently just one thing too many for me to keep in mind. Frankly, I was lucky that I remembered which day her birthday was. Don’t get me wrong, I knew the NUMBER for her birthday…the DAY OF THE WEEK that it fell on was where I was having trouble.

My husband was helpful enough (please insert sarcastic tone) to inform me that this mistake was due to my tendency towards overdoing things; he would be correct, but that’s beside the point!

Giant Christmas Tree Cupcake

Please note: This post was written a while ago but not posted, so the yesterday I mention is not really the day before I posted this. See bottom of post for more information.

I saw a picture online of a Giant Cupcake done up as a Christmas Tree and just HAD to find a reason to make one. I also bought the red “Big Top” silicone version of the Giant Cupcake pan and need an excuse to try it out, too. Luckily yesterday was a friend’s birthday, and I decided to hit two birds with one stone. It also helped that my husband was away from the house at work and I would have plenty of time to clean up all the baking evidence. I seized the opportunity and this was the result.

I usually am able to plan ahead when I bake and therefore I bake the cake one night then decorate it the following night. This cake needed to be done all in one night and I couldn’t get it in the oven until after my daughter went to bed at around 8:00 p.m. With my daughter safely and quietly sleeping, I anxiously unboxed my new silicone “pan.” I’ve never used silicone bake ware before but was really more interested in the face that the thing was in two pieces. Wilton’s pan is just one piece and the top always cooks faster than the bottom. It annoys me terribly! This new one is in two pieces so if the top gets done first…I can simply remove it from the oven. What a novel idea! The bottom portion of the pan also has a fill line on the inside, which is helpful for those of us who hate to measure or are otherwise disinclined to figure out on their own how much to put in each side of the pan (Um, that would be me). And to make this version even better, the kit includes a nifty little top that you put on the bottom section of the pan so that when you bake the cake, there is a built in recess for a filling. How awesome is that. No scooping necessary.

So, after discovering all these new and interesting things about my new bake ware and doing a dorky little happy dance, I mixed up the cake batter. In an effort to try something new, I decided to add some mini M&Ms to the batter. I thought this would add some color to the inside of the cake…I was wrong. You couldn’t even tell that I had added anything to the chocolate cake mix. Total bummer, but the cake baked up nicely and came right out without a problem. So, I decided not to get too down about the M&M issue.

In the interest of getting to bed at a decent hour, which didn’t happen by the way, I threw the cake in the freezer to help speed up the cooling process. It ended up being in there for about 45 minutes and perhaps that was just a little too long. When I took it out the edges were really crispy. Turns out it wasn’t just due to being frozen. It was a combination of that and the fact that I was watching television when I was baking the cake and neglected to take it out of the oven on time. Dang! Oh well, I could just tell people it was the new pan’s fault, right?

Anyway, I mixed up the icing and merrily got to decorating. It went together very quickly and turned out quite nice. I kind of wish that I had used the “grass” tip instead of a leaf tip. Maybe next time. I used more mini M&Ms to decorate the “tree” and added some yellow icing on top for the star.


Well, I started typing up this post before Christmas, but got distracted by an unexpected event, and then work got really, really busy. It is obviously after Christmas now, but I figured I would go ahead and post. I would like to add though, that I’m glad I didn’t use the “grass” tip (233 I think) instead of the “leaf” tip. I used the grass one last night on my nephew’s birthday cake and was very annoyed (more on that subject later).

This cake inspired my cousin to use her newly purchased Giant Cupcake pan. She and her niece had a great time decorating their cake.

I can also add that this cake was a huge hit with my friend and tasted very good. I didn't even notice the crispy edges at all.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tie-Dye Giant Cupcake

While this giant cupcake is mentioned in one of my other posts, I feel that its awesomeness deserves a post all to itself. I made this cake for someone who was paying me. They told me the colors and gave me free rein with the design. I was excited to try something new but nervous that they wouldn’t like it, as always. I managed to take quite a few pictures throughout the process, however, I did not get one of the batter before it went into the oven.

Here’s a shot of the inside of the tie-dye cake. Pretty nifty, right!?!

After filling the cake layer and assembling the cake, I got to decorating. I decided to do a bunch of round dot-like decorating. After getting the cake covered, I decided that it needed that “something else” that in general I should almost NEVER add. For this cake, it ended up being drop strings. It looks okay on the bottom, but I liked the top part much better without the drop strings.

Plus, when designing a cake, one should always take into consideration how far the delivery distance is. If the distance is long, DO NOT make the decoration delicate and easily to ruin. This cake had a 30 mile commute, and I was a total wreck the entire time. It made it safely to the person who commissioned it, but then the box got angry and decided to flick the drop strings with the inner flap. This is why I do not bake for people all the time. Too much stress.

I have a few helpful hints about making a tie-dye cake. I just made one batch of cake batter. I divided it evenly (mostly) into two bowls and then added the food coloring. You don't need to be exact when you divide it out. It isn't supposed to be perfect. Next, you spoon the batter into the pan in a haphazard fashion so it looks all mixed up and wild once it is cooked. I’ve found that you have to be a little careful when adding the batter, or rather after you have added all the batter. If there is air in between the color sections, the cake won’t bake right. It will create bubbles or pockets and the cake will fall apart like a shoddy 3D puzzle. I found it best to tap the pan several times to help the cake batter settle and integrate. You can also try running a knife through the batter a few times, which also creates a swirled pattern in the batter. Just don’t use the knife too much or you might end up with “ick” instead of the separate colors.

Attack of the Four Giant Cupcakes

So, last week I had happily planned out my baking schedule and was thinking that it wouldn’t be too terrible even though I had a lot to do…and then, I received a message from someone requesting a Giant Cupcake. That put my total of Giant Cupcakes for this week up to four. And then I was given two tickets to a Christmas symphony concert, too. A busy week turned into a hectic week! I managed to make it through, though.

Cake #1 was for my niece last Sunday. Sadly, I don’t have pictures of it yet because I left the camera over at the in-laws’ house and haven’t had a chance to retrieve it yet. (I finally got the camera back and managed to get the picture of the cake downloaded!) The cake was pretty, white and turquoise with white candy pearls. I should have planned more with this cake or perhaps stuck with the original design I had envisioned. I actually got if iced in record time, but then I spent like 45 minutes adding the little candy pearls because I felt that it needed more. I wasn’t sure what kind of more, but it definitely needed something. I doubt I will ever use those pearls in the same way again unless forced to at gun point. It was very tedious as they kept running away from me.

Cake #2 was for my coworker’s birthday. Her birthday was Monday, but thankfully she decided to take the day off! So, I had an extra day to get the cake done. It was a Triple Fudge Chocolate Cake with a hint of hazelnut coffee and was decorated with chocolate and white chocolate buttercream. A friend of mine had given me this really involved recipe for an awesome chocolate cake…but I’m too lazy to spend that much time making a cake, so I decided to doctor up a cake mix and see how it turned out. I used a strongly brewed hazelnut coffee instead of the plain water that the cake mix directions call for and added in some extra vanilla. The cake was really moist and yummy with just the slightest hint of the hazelnut coffee coming through. It turned out to be my favorite Giant Cupcake that I have decorated so far. It just looked so pretty.

Now, before I continue, I should add that brewing the coffee was an experience in itself. I don’t drink coffee and have no coffee supplies at all. I had meant to snag a coffee filter from someone else but just flat forgot about it. I got the coffee made, but the process probably would have made any coffee aficionado cringe. My first thought was that I would just boil some water and then put the coffee grounds in a paper towel, which I would then submerge in the water to make the coffee.  Well, that didn’t work, or rather was taking much too long to work. I got mad and just dumped the grounds into the hot water. Now I had a new problem. I didn’t want to just dump the grounds of coffee into the cake; I just wasn’t sure how that would turn out. So, I grabbed a little colander that I had stuffed in the back of a cabinet and lined it with yet some more paper towels. Then I poured the coffee through the paper towels to strain it. Hey, it worked and I ended up with some very strong coffee.

Cake #3 was for the coworker’s mother’s birthday on Wednesday. I had grand designs for this one, but it ended up looking nothing like I had planned. It was supposed to have had a tie-dyed cake (forgot to do it and didn’t even realize it until much, much later when it was too late to rebake it). It was supposed to have white chocolate curls all over the top (I curse chocolate curls! Curse them I say!).

As you can tell from the picture, the chocolate curls just didn’t happen. I couldn’t get them to work no matter how I tried to do it. All that careful planning and designing and then at the last minute I had to come up with an entirely new design! Good thing I’m creative. All was not lost, and I’m told the cake was delicious.

Cake #4 was requested for delivery on Friday, but due to the concert on Thursday night, I decided to get it done a day early. Thank goodness I had the foresight to see the complication, otherwise Thursday would have been a very, very long night for me. Doing this cake prompted me to declare that drop strings are no longer allowed on my Giant Cupcakes. I was concerned about how they would hold up during delivery. They did really well until they got attacked by the box when the lid was taken off. The box popped a flap open and cut some of the drop strings off. I could, and may, do a whole rant about trying to find a good box for these cakes, but for not I’ll save you the drama. Suffice it to say that I will NOT be using this type of box again if I can help it. When we went to fix the damage, more strings fell off. Luckily, the woman I made the cake for is very nice and assured me that this would not be a problem. I felt horrible and this incident made me realize how happy I am that I don’t bake for a living. I would be a nervous wreck!

My “Note to Self” for this week is the following: Do not add that one last detail…When you are looking at something and wonder if it could take just ONE more detail to make it perfect…DON”T DO IT! On cake #3 I added a little flower at the top of the cake and regretted it. It didn’t look bad, but it definitely looked better before the flower. On cake #4 I added what ended up looking like a large swirly pile of green and orange alien poo on top, which I promptly removed. No one wants alien poo on their cake. On that note, I’ll wrap up this post.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thanksgiving Madness...I Survived!

I managed to make it through my last week of manic baking without my husband divorcing me. He once again informed me that I am way to nice and can’t tell people no. I pointed out that it is hard to say no to people when you are the one offering things instead of people asking for them. He does have a point, as usual. I tend to overdo everything and then I’m in a pickle. I always come through in the end, but I’m not always a happy camper.

Thanksgiving week would be one of those times when I bit off almost more than I could chew and very little of what I made was even requested. I just like bringing yummy food and while my husband now states that the mere thought of cake makes him want to vomit, his family is very happy when I arrive with my latest creation. He seems to be the only person who views my cakery (his term, not mine) in a negative light. I simply remind him that he should be happy that at least with this hobby the items I make leave the house and never come back!

This year we planned to attend Thanksgiving dinners for both of our families on the same day. My mom requested some cranberry orange cupcakes in honor of her mother, who used to LOVE orange flavored stuff. My niece requested a chocolate cake, and I had promised my dad that I would try making some angel food cupcakes. In the past I have almost always showed up empty handed to dinners with my husband’s family, and I always feed bad about it. I decided that this year I was going to bring LOTS of yummy stuff. So, I decided to do a small two-tier chocolate cake for each dinner. As luck would have it, I could get two cakes out of one cake mix which was really nice. I also wanted to make a strawberry cake with cotton candy butter cream icing.

So, I sat down and finished writing out all the information on my nifty little cake planner sheets and mapped out when I would bake or decorate what. I had an excellent, if over busy, schedule and if I kept to it everything would be fine. I did a respectable job of following the schedule and managed to get everything done.

The chocolate cakes were not quite as pretty as I had hoped they would be, but I decided that they were good enough. Besides, I knew that they would taste great and convinced myself that the flaws would make it easier for people to cut into them. Many people seem to suffer from “Pretty Cake Syndrome.” This is when someone won’t cut a cake because they think it is too pretty to eat. Aaaanyway, I used a tripe fudge chocolate cake mix and mixed mint oreo crumbles into the chocolate buttercream icing.



The cranberry orange cupcakes turned out very nice as well, although, I should have added more cranberries since quite a few cupcakes were lacking in the cranberry area. I didn’t take pictures of these cupcakes because I didn’t decorate them up special or anything, just a quick swirl on the top with orange flavored buttercream icing.

I was very excited about the strawberry cake with cotton candy buttercream icing. I had made the icing before and paired it with another type of cake. Those were really good, but I thought that a strawberry cake (the last ones were blue raspberry) would be much better. While I liked this pairing, I think that the strawberry cake overpowered the flavor of the icing. This cake was an experiment in smooth icing with buttercream. And what were the results, you might ask! Well, less than I had hoped for but better than I expected…

Also, you may notice that I tried my hand at drop strings on this cake. My lesson learned with this one is plan the design first, then measure and mark so that everything is even.


And lastly there were the angel food cupcakes. I didn't expect much from these really, and the end product was only slightly better than the expectation. I have no pictures of these because they were the last thing I made, and I was very, very tired when they were done. And they weren't very pretty at all. I did three sizes: mini, regular, and king sized cupcakes. The mini cupcakes were a disaster. Let's just say that when I shook the pan it sounded like I had rocks in the cups instead of cupcakes. The regular size cupcakes shrunk into ovals when I took them out of the pan but tasted okay. The king size cupcakes turned out the best. They kept their shape and were pretty soft, however, none of them held up very well over time. They got too hard and dry. I don't think I'll be making angel food cupcakes again in the near future.