Sunday, May 26, 2013

Strawberry Basil Lemonade

Hello from the beach!
I love the beach, and I love lemonade. So... lemonade + beach = very happy Kelly.
This lemonade is fantastic! I found it on Chow, and made it for my family. I left out extra basil and strawberries for garnish, but you should buy 2 lbs of strawberries just because they're amazing.

Strawberry Basil Lemonade
Makes ~12 cups- have a BIG jug ready!
Sugar- 1 1/2 c
Water- split into 1 c + 8 c (cold)
Strawberries- 1 lb, washed, hulled and sliced 1/2 inch thick
Basil leaves- 3/4 c, tightly packed
Fresh lemon juice- 2 c, chilled (I used ~12 big lemons, but have extra just in case)
1. Place sugar and 1 c water in a medium saucepan over high heat and stir until the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a boil.
2. Add the strawberries, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer until they've softened, ~8-10 minutes.
3. Remove from the heat, add basil leaves and stir to incorporate. Cool to room temp, about 45 minutes (longer is fine, I left it sitting for over an hour and it was fantastic).
4. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer set over a medium bowl and discard the solids. Cover the bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.
5. Pour 8 c water, lemon juice, and 1 1/2 c of the strawberry mixture into a big bowl or pitcher.
Note: I used all of the mixture and it was fantastic. But add the rest as you please. Serve over ice!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Graduation dessert

My first two weeks as a college graduate have been pretty uneventful- blissfully so! I think it's going to take a while to sink in, and I keep having nightmares about an unfinished English paper... But it's good so far!
Gotta give credit where credit is due: My awesome Aunt Ginna decorated my cap :)
My mom and aunt and I are still trying to get all our photos in one place, so once we've got it sorted out I'll post pictures of me and my friends and family!
I made these graduation caps out of fondant in honor of the occasion. I got the idea from Glorious Treats, and I'd been looking forward to making them for over a year. I used my favorite chocolate cupcakes and vanilla buttercream frosting for the base, and it was a delightful combination.
Graduation caps {for a photo walkthrough, check out the original Glorious Treats post!}
Materials needed:
1 package of ready-to-use fondant (I got mine from Michael's)
Food coloring
A ruler
Small rolling pin
Corn starch 
Paper towel
Food-safe gloves, if desired
Cutting board or a clean, dry counter/surface
Little bowl/cup of water with a bit of powdered sugar stirred in
Food-safe paint brush (like from Wilton)
1. Color your fondant (see this page from Glorious Treats for a how-to).
2. Roll out the colored fondant you plan on using for the hat. You'll have to experiment with how thick you want the fondant for the hats to be. 
3. Cut fondant into strips about 3/4" wide and 3 3/4" long. Feel free to play around with the dimensions, see what looks good to you!
4. Create a ring of fondant out of a strip, with the ends overlapping slightly. Secure the ends together by dabbing a teensy amount of the water/powdered sugar mix. Set aside to dry for several hours or overnight.
5. Cut squares (for the hat tops) about 1 3/4" x 1 3/4"- play around with these dimensions too! Set aside to dry for several hours or overnight. 
6. When the pieces are dry, use a small amount of the water/powdered sugar mix to attach the top to the base. Set aside to dry.
7. Time for the tassels! Roll a little bit of fondant into a "snake," then flatten the end slightly and use a knife (or your fingernail) to make little ridges to add texture. Use a bit of the water mix to secure it to the top of the hat, bend around the side and allow to dry. 

The Cupcakes! 
{Cooks Illustrated}
Dark 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.

Favorite Vanilla Buttercream
{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 extractsalt, 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.
Side note, there will be some pretty big new changes to the blog and its layout soon! I'm very excited :)

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Status: Graduated.

I graduated from James Madison University yesterday morning with a B.A. in Media Arts and Design and a minor in Spanish.
I still can't believe four years flew by so quickly. Once my family has assembled all the photos we took on all our devices, I'll post a lot of them, along with pictures of the super cute graduation cupcakes I made.
I am now on vacation. I don't start work til the end of July, and I'm going to enjoy this time at home with my family!
My wonderful Aunt Ginna is here for a few more days and we're going to spend the next three days baking and cooking. I'll be posting a step-by-step for her perfect cream scones shortly.
I'll leave you with this, the JMU fight song, for now :)
Madison, James Madison,
We are the Dukes of JMU!
Madison, James Madison,
The Fighting Dukes of JMU!
Fight for glory, honors won,
Brighten the lights of Madison!
Madison, James Madison,
Show your colors proud and true 
(Who are we?!)

Copyright © Kelly's Konfections | Blog Template by Lilipop Designs