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 
Knife
Ruler
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)
Directions:
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
Ingredients:
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
Directions:
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
Ingredients:
Bittersweet chocolate- 2 oz, finely chopped
Heavy whipping cream- 1/4 c
Powdered sugar- 1 tbsp
Directions:
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}
Ingredients:
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
Directions:
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 :)
Enjoy!


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