Thursday, August 18, 2011

Another Brick in the Wall - A 100th Post

I must be crazy. In a good way, yes, but crazy nonetheless. I thought that working two jobs and going to school three nights a week would be a fine and dandy idea, but let me tell you, it's a bit harder than I thought it was going to be. At one point this week when my alarm went off at 6:00 it took me a good hard minute to figure out if I was getting up in the AM to go to work or if I was waking up from a nap in the PM to go to class. I am also crazy for sketching up this Pink Floyd cake even though I have only worked with fondant oh...twice ever? You can put another tick in the crazypants box for staying up all night sticking little teeny tiny fondant bricks together for 50 pink-floyd themes cupcakes.

But you know what? I revel in the crazy. I am at my best when I am stressed out and way too busy. I feel better about myself when I have stuff to do, it makes me feel more grown up and responsible. Just  getting up in the morning with enough time to make breakfast and coffee before work makes me feel like I accomplished something. It's sad, yes, but its the little things in life, am I right? It also helps that I actually LOVE going to class, and now, going to work. I am two weeks into my new job at a specialty cakes bakery, and each day I think to myself, I can't believe someone is actually paying me to do this all day. This is awesome. Those thoughts are what is going to sustain me over the next few months with this insane schedule of mine. Hopefully my body clock will adjust to it's new pattern, and I can make time for relaxation and spending time with the ones I love. Until then, bring on the crazy.

This is my 100th post on this blog. It seems nuts to think that it has been two years since I started writing, and when I look back it makes me laugh when I realize how much has changed over that time. I wouldn't do a thing differently either. Thanks to all my lovely readers, your comments brighten my day, and without them, the motivation to sit down and write a post at 1:30 in the morning just wouldn't be there.

Onto the cake! One of my co-workers approached me a few weeks back and said he was throwing a Pink Floyd themed birthday party for one of his friends and if I could make a cake and some cupcakes. I of course said yes, even though I wasn't sure when I would possibly have time to make all of it, or even how I was going to make the damn thing. Sure I can totally cover a pointy cake with fondant, and have a giant rainbow sticking out if the side unsupported, why not?

This was by far the most difficult thing I have ever made, but it was so worth it to see the grins on peoples faces when I delivered it. 'Thats a cake??' is such a compliment. The cake is black velvet with a white chocolate buttercream frosting. A small departure from the typical cream cheese frosting, but it turns out its another great pairing.

Black Velvet Cupcakes & White Chocolate Swiss Buttercream
frosting adapted from Krissy's Creations
makes 24 cupcakes


2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 - 1 ounce bottle of black liquid food coloring
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon white vinegar

Butter and flour your cake pans and set aside. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl sift the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, mix the food coloring and cocoa powder until completely incorporated. Set aside.

In a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer) cream the butter and sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, and beat until thoroughly combined, being sure to scrape down the sides. Add the vanilla and the red food coloring-cocoa mixture and beat well to combine. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, beat on medium speed until combined, then add 1/2 of the buttermilk, and beat until incorporated. Add another 1/3 of the flour, beat well, then the other half of the buttermilk, scraping down the sides after each addition. Finish with the last 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat until just combined.

In a small bowl, mix the vinegar and baking soda, and immediately add to batter. Mix on high speed for just a few seconds until evenly dispersed, and pour right away into lined cupcake pans. Bake for about 20-30 minutes, until a toothpick entered into the center comes out clean. 


5 egg whites
1 cup sugar
2 cup butter (4 sticks) room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
8 oz. white chocolate, melted and cooled to room temp

In a medium sized heat proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, combine the egg white, sugar, and salt. Whisk constantly until hot to touch and foamy, it should reach about 160 degrees F. 

Transfer mixture to stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk on medium-high speed until completely cooled. It should form a shiny meringue with stiff peaks, and it should take about 5-10 minutes. Once mix is completely cool, turn mixer to medium add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each incorporation. Once all of the butter is incorporated, turn speed to high and whip until buttercream comes together into a smooth creamy frosting. 

Pipe onto cupcakes, and decorate as you please. 

Here's hoping for another 100 fun, satisfying, and delicious posts. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Bacon Marmalade BLT's

Two words: bacon marmalade. I could just stop this post right there, because if you are anything like me, you will hear those two words and immediately stop what you are doing to make a big batch of it.

In case you are still reading, let me tell you a little bit about these amazing sandwiches. A few weeks ago I was eating at one of my favorite lunch spots and the salad I ordered came with crostini with bacon marmalade. I wasn't sure what was in it exactly, but it was a revelation. I figured out the basic ingredients from the taste, but as soon as I got home I got on google and did some research. None of the recipes I found quite summed up what I was hoping to get out of my bacon marmalade making experience, so I pulled some ingredients from a few recipes and from my memory of lunch that day, and just went for it. It was good. Too good. So good I couldn't stop eating it with a spoon. It was even better the second time I made it, tweaking the recipe ever so slightly.

It's great eaten directly from the jar with a spoon, but it's better served on crusty bread with goat cheese, and even better smeared on toast with heirloom tomatoes, homemade mayonnaise, and butter lettuce. This really takes your average BLT to a new level. It is sticky and sweet and lightly spiced, and is nicely balanced out with the fresh tomatoes and lettuce and slightly tangy mayonnaise. Now I am wishing I hadn't given away my last jar of it to my classmates...guess I will just have to make some more.

Bacon Marmalade

1 1/2 lbs thick cut applewood smoked bacon, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
1 large vidalia onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup white wine
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
1/4 cup coffee
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
large pinch ground cloves
small pinch ground nutmeg
salt and lots of fresh ground pepper to taste

In a heavy saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat, saute the bacon slowly until just crisp. Don't cook the bacon too fast or it can burn or over cook and become crumbly. Remove the bacon to a paper towel -lined plate and drain all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat from the pan. Add the onion and cook over medium-high heat until soft and starting to caramelize, about 20 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 3-5 minutes until garlic is soft but not yet browning.

Add the white wine and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. When the wine has reduced a bit, about 3-5 minutes, add the sugar, coffee, molasses, syrup, allspice, paprika, cayenne, nutmeg, cloves, salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Add the bacon back to the pot, bring it up to a boil, then reduce heat to low so that the mixture is on a gentle simmer and cook for about an hour to an hour and a half, until the marmalade is thick and sticky. It will thicken more as it cools.

Store in jars or sealed container in fridge for a week or two. It also freezes very well. Before using, you can pop it in the microwave just for about 15 seconds to loosen it up a bit and be spreadable.

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