Friday, December 30, 2011

Frosting for the Cause!

Cancer Sucks. But we can make a difference!
I'm really excited and proud to be posting my contribution for Frosting for the Cause. It's a truly awesome project spearheaded by Paula over at Vanilla Bean Baker.
This is the background given by Frosting for the Cause:
"Beginning January 1, 2011 a total of 365 sugar cookie & cupcake bakers/decorators and bloggers from across Canada and the United States will take turns doing a guest post here at Frosting for the Cause. Once a day, every day for a year you will be treated to a new and talented blogger who will showcase their home-made, hand-decorated cookies, cupcakes and sweets or all kinds together with their recipes. Almost everyone, everywhere, has been touched by cancer in one form or another. The guest bakers will also share in a very personal manner with readers of Frosting for the Cause, about a woman in their life who had to face this terrible disease head-on."

I only found out about the project recently, and I was so excited to find out there were a couple of days left in December! I'm currently on vacation, so I did this ahead of time. 

Why am I participating?
I've mentioned previously that I lost one of my best friends to brain cancer in August 2010. Natalie was a truly incredible person- always optimistic, she brightened every room she ever walked into. She was a talented composer, piano player, and singer. She was diagnosed in April of 2009, the spring of our senior year of high school. Chemo almost killed her that summer, but radiation was enough to send her into remission. The same time in 2010, the cancer came back, this time for good. We lost her on August 3, 2010. 

In Boston

In Spain

In Rehoboth, at the Fractured Prune

Right before our junior prom :)

Please, please consider donating to Frosting for the Cause! It's such a great project. Two of the aspects of committing to participate are donating money to a cancer charity or organization, and donating our baked goods to a hospice or women's cancer center. I chose the National Brain Tumor Society and the Cancer Center at Mount Vernon Inova Hospital in Alexandria. 
Everyone I know has been touched at some point in their lives by cancer, either directly or indirectly. I was very touched by Frosting for the Cause's mission, and I'm so excited to participate. 

Peppermint Hot Chocolate Cupcakes
I used my Award Winning Chocolate Cupcakes, recipe re-posted below. I had mini peppermint marshmallows I wanted to use, so I searched for a marshmallow buttercream recipe that used one! I'm posting that recipe, as well as my favorite marshmallow buttercream recipe :)

Chocolate Cupcakes
Bittersweet chocolate- 3 oz, finely chopped
Dutch-processed cocoa- 1/3 c
Hot, strong-brewed coffee- 3/4 c
Bread flour- 3/4 c
Sugar- 3/4 c
Salt- 1/2 tsp
Baking soda- 1/2 tsp
Canola oil- 6 tbsp
Large eggs- 2
White vinegar- 2 tsp
Vanilla extract- 1 tsp
1. Put chocolate and cocoa in a bowl, then pour the hot coffee over it. Whisk until smooth, then transfer to refrigerator until cool, 20-30 minutes.
2. In the meantime, whisk floursugarsalt, and baking soda together, and set aside.
3. Whisk oileggsvanilla, and vinegar into the cooled chocolate mix.
4. Add flour mixture to the mix, and whisk until batter is smooth.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 17-19 minutes. In my oven, it worked best when I rotated the cupcake pan at 17 minutes, then let them bake an additional two {it would probably be better to do it halfway through... let me know what you find!}

Ganache Filling
Bittersweet chocolate- 2 oz, finely chopped
Heavy whipping cream- 1/4 c
Powdered sugar- 1 tbsp
1. Place chocolatecream, and powdered sugar in a microwave-proof bowl. Cook on high until mixture is warm to touch, about 30 seconds.
2. Whisk mixture, then put bowl in refrigerator. Let stand until chilled, about 30 minutes.

Peppermint Marshmallow Frosting
Adapted from
Full disclosure: Following this recipe didn't work out super great, so I adapted it/added some ingredients (included). In this case, it's more about tinkering with the recipe and ingredients to your own individual taste.
Peppermint mini marshmallows- 64
Cold butter- 3 sticks
Milk- 1 1/3 c
Vanilla- 1/2 tsp
Peppermint extract- 1 tsp
Powdered sugar- 1/2 c
Marshmallow fluff- 1/2 c
Red food coloring
1. Combine mini marshmallows and milk in a medium sized saucepan turned to low heat. Allow mixture to heat until the marshmallows dissolve. 
2. Remove mixture and allow it to come to room temperature.
3. Cream butter, then slowly add marshmallow mixture and vanilla. Beat until combined. 
4. Optional to add peppermint extract, powdered sugar and marshmallow fluff. Tint with red food coloring to make it cute and pink :)

My Go-To Marshmallow Frosting Recipe
You could totally tinker with this to make it nice and peppermint-y :)
Courtesy of Baked Bree
Butter- 1 c, room temp
Marshmallow fluff- 1 (7 oz) jar
Powdered sugar- 2 c
Vanilla- 1 tsp
1. Cream butter until light and fluffy. Add marshmallow fluff. Whip for 2 minutes.
2. Add powdered sugar and beat for another 2 minutes. Add vanilla extract and beat for 1 minute.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Nannie's Coffee Cake

One of the most important traditions in the Kimball family (my mom's side) is the making of Nannie's coffee cake for special occasions- Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays, etc. It is a truly incredible dish, and one I can't imagine my life without!
This recipe stretches so far back in our family history, we don't even know where it came from. We just always call it Nannie's Coffee Cake :)

Nannie's Coffee Cake
Butter- 1 stick, softened
Cream cheese- 1 8 oz package
Sugar- 1 1/4 c
Eggs- 2, large
Vanilla- 1 tsp
Almond extract- 1 tsp
Flour- 2 c
Baking powder- 2 tsp
Baking soda- 1/2 tsp
Salt- 1/2 tsp
Milk- 1/2 c

1. In a large bowl, cream butter and cream cheese well. Gradually add in sugar.
2. Blend in eggs, vanilla, and almond extract.
3. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
4. Alternately add the flour mixture (dry ingredients) and milk (wet), beginning and ending with the dry. Blend well.
5. Turn into a buttered 9x13 pan. Then add....

Nannie's Coffee Cake Topping!
Butter- 1/2 stick, FROZEN (do not soften!)
Flour- 1/2 c
Dark brown sugar- 1/2 c
Pecans- 3/4 c

Blend all ingredients in a cuisinart! Then GENEROUSLY cover coffee cake batter with the deliciousness. Bake coffee cake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas to All!

Before I head off to sleep, I HAD to share this EXQUISITE creation by my Aunt Ginna. It's a gingerbread farm. Yeah, you read that right. A gingerbread FARM.
It's for the cover of her latest book, which I will be promoting furiously as soon as it is released (and will be devouring as soon as I get my hands on a copy).

Courtesy of Ginna BB Gordon :)
How incredible is that?! She's been sending me pictures of the work in progress, and I've been speechless the whole time. I want to be her when I grow up :)

On that note, may you all have a wonderful Christmas! I shall post some recipes on Monday before I go on vacation :)

Here's Aunt Ginna's blog:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

My Very First Wedding Cake!

Congratulations to Zully & Freddy!
Zully is my best friend's godmother, and as soon as she got engaged, she asked me to make my sour cream cake for the wedding :)
There were some bumps in the road, but the cakes came out nicely. I made two of the tiered cakes, plus 2 dozen vanilla cupcakes.
Official wedding pictures to come :)
Sour Cream Cake
Yield: 20 servings
Butter- 1 c, softened
Sugar- 3 c
Eggs- 6, divided
Flour- 3 c
Baking soda- 1/4 tsp
Sour cream- 1 c
Almond extract- 2 tbsp
Vanilla- 1 tsp

1. In bowl of standing mixer, whip egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar.
3. Add egg yolks, one at a time. Beat well after each addition.
4. Sift flour three times into a medium sized bowl. Mix baking soda into sour cream
5. Alternate adding flour and sour cream mixture to the butter & sugar. 
6. Add almond extract and vanilla. Fold egg whites into batter. 
7. Pour batter into a greased and floured bundt pan. Bake at 300 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. 

I used Classic Vanilla Buttercream, substituted almond for vanilla extract.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Anniversary Cake

Me & Chris

That's me & my honey. Wednesday the 14th will mark our first anniversary :) 
Since both of us have finals this week, we celebrated this weekend. I, naturally, made cake. 
Unfortunately, said cake was devoured so quickly I couldn't get a good picture of it. Yeah, it was THAT GOOD. 
Fortunately, its level of amazingness has made it Chris's official favorite cake. Thus, I will be making it AGAIN when I stop by his campus on my way home Wednesday. 
So, this picture will have to do for now, but a better one will be up soon!

Almond Anniversary Cake
The Cake Itself
Courtesy of Always With Butter
Yield: Two 8 or 9" layers (use 8" if you want to split them)
Flour- 2 c
Baking powder- 2 tsp
Salt- 1/4 tsp
Butter- 3/4 c (1 1/2 sticks), softened
Sugar- 1 1/2 c
Almond extract- 2 tsp (a little extra is okay)
Egg whites- 6
Milk- 3/4 c

1. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, whisk egg whites and milk together. Set aside.
3. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
4. In alternating batches, add flour mix & milk mix to the butter. Beat until combined. Add almond extract and beat to combine.
5. Pour into prepared pans (I always use Baker's Joy), bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Raspberry Cream Filling
Adapted from Always with Butter
Butter- 1 c (2 sticks), softened
Raspberry preserves- 3/4 c
Powdered sugar- 2 c

1. Beat butter and raspberry preserves until combined.
2. Add powdered sugar, and beat until smooth.

Almond Buttercream Frosting
Adapted from Imperrfections
*Note: to make enough for the cake, you should probably double these ingredients (I made half the cake, because it was just for me & Chris). I added the doubled amounts in parentheses.
Powdered sugar- 2 c (4)
Almond extract- 1 1/4 tsp (2 1/2)
Egg white- 1 (2)
Water- 1/2 tbsp (1)
Butter- 3 tbsp (6), softened

Combine all ingredients and beat at low speed to mix. Increase speed to medium and beat for 3-5 minutes until smooooth and fluffy.

After the cake layers are completely cooled, split them using a bread knife or cake leveler. Spread raspberry cream filling in between each layer, and slather on almond buttercream frosting. Be generous! It's soooo good!

Here are a few more pictures of the two of us :)
As the Green & Pink Power Rangers for Halloween
After one of Chris's football games

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