Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hello, darling readers!
Some random thoughts in these wee hours of the morning. I definitely have to be up at 6:30, but I just felt like sharing with you before I head off to sleep :)

You may have noticed that the blog address has now shifted to kellyskonfections.com. That's because I finally did it! I bought the domain name, so it's no longer .blogspot.com. Very exciting :)

I'm sorry I haven't posted in awhile, life has been a little hectic. I just realized that there is exactly one week left of my torture chocolate restriction, and there is a list of treats I want to make, the exponentially rapid growth of which is slightly terrifying. I have to ease myself back into it, however, so I can't just jump in and make 16 chocolate cupcake recipes, no matter how badly I want to.

One of my cakes was presented on the 5 o'clock broadcast at WHSV (Harrisonburg, TV-3) on Friday! One of the anchors, Alyson, lives in my building, had a cupcake of mine at a mixer, and asked me to bake a cake for her co-anchor Bob! I'll post the link to the video very soon!

I'm almost done with my Wilton Cake Decorating Basics Course. I've already signed up for the "Flowers and Cake Design" course, which begins next week! Then it'll be on to Gumpaste and Fondant. These classes are such an incredible deal- each course is only $22.50, which means that for 12 classes all I'm paying is $67.50. Just to give you a comparison, some places charge $75 for just ONE class!

That's it for my random thoughts. I'll be posting very shortly about my most recent adventures :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My first Wilton cake :)

I've completed two of the four Wilton Basic Decorating classes, and I've loved every minute! I highly recommend them to anyone interested in baking. I've been baking for a long time, and I considered myself pretty solid on the decorating front, but this class helps you take it to a whole nother level. For example, here is my first cake :)

One of these days, I'm gonna look into getting a professional-quality camera. I've been using my cell phone camera, which is pretty good, but I want this blog to be legit! :) If anyone has any recommendations for easy to use cameras, please comment below!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I successfully made Italian Meringue Buttercream!!!
I can't express how crazy excited and proud I am after conquering a frosting that gave me such trouble before. I'm not entirely sure what I did differently this time, but I'll let you know once I figure it out :)

I used the incredible photo tutorial by Whisk Kid as my guide. Eventually I will do my own photo tutorials, but for now I will just post the link and recipe :)

This experience reinforced, in my mind, that cliché saying "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

I gave myself a couple weeks to sit back and try to figure out where I went wrong, and then I was right back at it, this time with a successful outcome.

As for the differences between Italian and Swiss Meringue Buttercreams, it's all about the method. For taste, I think my new favorite is Italian. Swiss feels too buttery and dense to me, and Italian is nice and light.

I'm about to embark on three different baking adventures in the next 48 hours (*gulp*), and I'll write about them after I've (hopefully) survived :)

Here's the recipe!

Italian Meringue Buttercream
Courtesy of Whisk Kid
Egg whites- 5, room temperature
Sugar- 1 1/4 c, divided
Butter- 1 c (2 sticks), room temperature, cut into cubes
Vanilla extract- 1 tsp
*Note: there are endless variations of this recipe, so feel free to substitute almond or lemon extract, etc.*
Water- 1/2 c

*Note: you really need a candy thermometer to make IMBC. You can usually get away with not using one for SMBC, but it's critical for this recipe*

1. Pour 1 c sugar into a small saucepan with a candy thermometer clipped to the side. (Your stove should be at a medium temp)

2. Add 1/2 c water. DO NOT STIR! If you must move things around, you need to swirl the syrup, not stir. 

3. Wait for the syrup to reach about 230-235 degrees F, then begin whipping egg whites in an electric mixer. Once the egg whites are frothy, add remaining 1/4 c sugar. Continue to beat until very stiff peaks form. If you can hold the bowl over your head and none of the egg whites fall out, you're good to go. 

4. At the same time, be keeping a VERY CLOSE EYE on the syrup. The syrup should be done cooking around the same time the egg whites are done whipping. Once the syrup hits the 245-250 degree F mark (the "firm ball" stage), remove the saucepan from the stove.

5. This is the scary part- with the mixer turned on medium, pour a SLOW and STEADY stream of the syrup into the mixing bowl. Be very careful not to get the syrup on your hands, because it really hurts (trust me on this one). 

6. Whip the egg whites/syrup mixture on high until the bottom of the mixer bowl is cool to the touch. The mixture at this point should have the texture of marshmallow fluff (yum!).

7. Now it's time to add the butter. Reduce the mixer speed to medium, and add one cube of butter at a time, making sure each cube becomes fully incorporated before adding the next (I slowly counted to 10 in between each cube). Don't forget to scrape down the bowl from time to time!

8. After all the butter has been added, turn the speed back up to high. Sit back and watch as your IMBC goes through the various stages (soupy, thicker, curdly, final). Once it's thick and luxurious, add vanilla. 

YOU HAVE COMPLETED THE STEPS! Congratulations! Kaitlin at Whisk Kid has great troubleshooting advice. If your IMBC won't get out of the soupy stage, as mine did, try sticking it in the fridge for 10 minutes, then continue whipping. 

Stay tuned for more, I'll be posting frequently over the next couple of days :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011


On this day, the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001, remember not only to pray for those who lost their lives and their loved ones, but also to tell your loved ones how much you care. 

9/11 Always remember. Never forget.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Back to Basics

It's been quite a first two weeks of my junior year. I've baked roughly six times, and kind of messed up a lot. I'm not sure what's going on, but I think adjusting to a new kitchen might be a rough transition, getting used to a new stove and appliances and such. Idk, it's just been a little weird.

Last Tuesday, I made incredible vanilla cupcakes for a meeting. (Recipe to follow). I tried to make Italian Meringue Buttercream. Huge fail.

Then, I decided to switch to Swiss Meringue Buttercream, which I've made several times and am very good at. TWO MORE FAILURES.

There was an hour left before my meeting, and I was getting desperate. So I decided to go back to basics. Basic American Buttercream. IT WAS PERFECT! So sugary, so delightful, so perfectly perfect on top of the delicious vanilla cupcakes. And they were a huge hit :)

I'm still trying to figure out why I failed so badly with my meringue buttercreams, but for this weekend, there won't be much (if any) baking for me, as I am sick. I'm currently missing my boy's football game, although I am getting to watch it online. *sigh* I love technology.

So, without further ado, here are the recipes I used for my very vanilla cupcakes :)

Vanilla Cupcakes
Courtesy of Glorious Treats
*I doubled the recipe; the changes I made are reflected below*
Yield: 30 cupcakes
Cake flour- 2 1/2 c
Baking powder- 2 1/2 tsp
Baking soda- 1 tsp
Salt- 1 tsp
Eggs- 2
Sugar- 1 1/2 c
Pure vanilla extract- 3 tsp
Canola oil- 1 c
Buttermilk- 1 c

1. In a medium bowl, stir cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with a whisk. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat eggs on medium speed for 10-20 seconds. Add sugar and keep beating on medium for another 30 seconds. Add vanilla and oil, and beat.
3. Reduce mixer speed to low, and slowwwly add half of the flour mixture. Alternate with the buttermilk and beat just until combined.
Note: The batter will be thin! Do not panic!
4. Bake cupcakes at 350 degrees F for 12-14 minutes.

Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Courtesy of Savory Sweet Life
Butter- 2 sticks (softened, but not melted!)
Powdered sugar- 3-4 c, sifted
Salt- 1/4 tsp
Vanilla extract- 1 tbsp
Milk (or heavy cream)- up to 4 tbsp

1. In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed.
2. Decrease speed to low, and slowwwly add powdered sugar.
3. Increase speed back to medium, and add vanilla extract, salt, and 2 tbsp of milk. Beat 2-3 minutes. If your frosting needs more milk, add up to 2 more tbsps, 1 at a time; conversely, if it needs to be thicker, add more powdered sugar slowly.

Note: If you would like to view a tutorial on how to make pretty buttercream roses, please click here: Glorious Treats

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Issues + Whipped Strawberry Frosting!


Hello all,
Today is a day I come to terms with some of my recent struggles and failures. On the technology front, Google Chrome isn't letting me post anything new, so I had to switch to Firefox (*grumble grumble*). That's not my fault, but still, my ego is a little fragile, so it hurts a little.

My first week of classes has come and gone, and I have survived thus far! I'm finally done with all my general education requirements, so from now til I graduate, I can focus exclusively on my major (journalism) & my two minors (sport communication and spanish). Yay!

The first week of classes presented some difficulties on the personal front, as my roomie and I had to give up our little Camelot to make room for two new roommates. My beautiful kitchen became cluttered, much to my horror, but I found a solution- to add a second pantry shelving unit to our "pantry" (it's definitely supposed to be a coat closet, but I fortunately have a very understanding roomie who respects my baking & cooking insanity). It should all work out, but the turmoil was emotionally stressful, and I have reason to believe it may have affected my baking, at least one of the three most recent adventures...

Before I get into all that, however, I MUST share with you an utterly mind-bogglingly delicious frosting, created by Rosie of Sweetapolita. Last Saturday was my friend Candise's birthday, and to celebrate, my mom (who stayed with me last weekend to help me settle in- love her!) and I broke in my new kitchen and made dinner & dessert for her, and two of my other good friends :) I also used one of Rosie's recipes to make the vanilla butter cake, but I wasn't super crazy about it, to be honest. Mine turned out a little dry, and as far as I can tell, I did everything right. So, the quest for the perfect vanilla cake continues!
Second sidenote: for the next month I will be focusing on vanilla recipes- I'm being treated for migraines, and I cannot have chocolate for another month- it's been a very difficult "journey" that started August 4 and will continue til October 4. As I have been forbidden to eat one of my favorite things, I have been trying to find almost-as-good alternatives.

Anyways, to the frosting recipe! There should be some better pictures coming in, but these are the ones I have so far.

Whipped Strawberry Frosting
from Sweetapolita
Unsalted butter- 3 sticks + 2 tbsp (softened, cut into cubes)
Powdered sugar- 4 cups
Milk- 1 tbsp
Pure vanilla extract- 1 1/2 tsp
Salt- a pinch
Strawberry puree - 3 tbsp (made from frozen strawberries; they can be cool, but not icy/frozen)

1. Whip butter in electric mixer (with paddle attachment) for 8 minutes on medium speed.
2. Add powdered sugar (slowly!), milk, vanilla extract, and salt. Mix on low speed for one minute (mixture should be fluffy, light, and creamy).
3. Add strawberry puree, and mix until incorporated. 
Note: The puree will make the frosting a nice shade of pink, but if you want to make intensify the color, I suggest using Americolor Soft Pink Gel Paste.

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