THIS is what I did this past week.

Weekend

I’ve done it again.  I got all wrapped up in a crazy-busy week and didn’t write a blog post for 6 days.  Ugh.  And guess what?  I won’t be really writing one today either.

Instead, I’m going to give you a very abbreviated run-down of the past few days.

Last week I did seven cakes, six dozen cupcakes, plus cake pops and dipped Oreos.  All pictured above, except my son’s Oreo Cake (and a couple of dozen plain cupcakes):

Caleb's 13th Birthday Cake

Caleb asked for a Lego cake with Oreo Cream filling for his 13th birthday and I did NOT want to disappoint.  He got *almost* as much filling has he did cake… and  he LOVED it!!

The other big thing… my nephew Rodney turned TWO!  His Monster’s cake from last year is here (I just posted it a few weeks ago and already a year has passed) and this year he had a Construction Party:

Rodney's Construction Party

I’ve mentioned before that my sister-in-law Amy and her mother ROCK party planning and those are just a few pics from his party!  She’s SO awesome!!

Paw Patrol Party Cake Cookies Oreos

And then, my most thrilling cake of the week… this Paw Patrol cake and sweets for Jamie.  He’s the little boy in our community who drowned a few weeks ago (I mentioned it on Facebook here) but thanks to his Daddy knowing CPR and some amazing medical staff and technology, and well, most importantly, the mercy of our Lord, he is alive and home got to celebrate his second birthday with his twin brother Harvey!

Praying for Jamie

He did suffer a brain injury from the accident and he has a long road of recovery ahead so please continue to pray for him and his family.   Having said that, I can say with certainty that I’ve never been more grateful for the privilege of making a cake!

Asher Nose

Okay… so after all that, Sunday my baby boy slipped and busted his nose and got a black eye… can you see how swollen his little nose is here?  It bled like crazy and eventually…

Asher Black Eye wm

…turned black around his right eye :-(  I don’t “do” blood, so it was more awful for me than him.  Just kidding.  Sort of.  Okay – that’s cruel, I know… but really?  Why do kids have to bleed SO much??   This Mommy can’t take it!!

And please excuse all the miscellaneous dirt on his face.  He’s a country boy through and through.

And yesterday was our first day back of homeschooling and it was, um, um, well… it was a Monday.  With 6 kids.  And they are not used to a routine.  Enough said.

Football game

But we did go see my nephew’s play 8th and 9th grade football, so that was fun!  We had burgers from the concession stand and I didn’t have to cook, so there’s that silver lining!

Then today I woke up to a very sick daughter and after getting her to the doctor and getting her on meds, I go out to find my truck locked and after getting a spare set of keys brought to me, I find my battery is dead.  I might have been a little on edge and I still had places to go, things to do.

Next, I also saw a new doctor today (a few minutes late thanks to my previously mentioned issues) – a cardiologist – who feels my heart condition (it’s not that serious – “condition” sounds ominous – it’s an arrhythmia) is probably exacerbated by my stress levels (WHAT?  Me?? StReSsEd???).   I’m starting a new medication and hoping that for the first time in months really, maybe my heart will act right.

Groceries

Then I went to Walmart.  Need I say  more??    Wait… except… does anyone want to pitch in on my grocery bill?  Pretty please??

So there… this is my non blog post.    What have you been up to for the last week?

 

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Petit Four Icing (aka Poured Fondant)

Petit Four Icing Recipe

After posting this Petit Four picture on Facebook today, I had someone ask about the icing.  Honestly… it’s what I struggle with the most, but  I do like this recipe… I just haven’t perfected my usage of it!

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So, here’ s a quick post (because you asked!) for how I’m currently making Petit Four Icing (aka Poured Fondant).  I’ve tried several recipes over the last few years and this recipe is my favorite so far!

I think the secret to this icing is the added white chocolate chips.  The petit four icings that I used before this one were too translucent and didn’t really cover the cake very well.  I really wanted my petit fours to look white – and the added chocolate does that!

Now – I told you on Facebook and I’m telling you again… I really wish I could make my petit-fours look as good as they taste.  None of them are the same size.  None of them are the same height.   Look at this picture… I was not kidding:

Petit Fours

I also couldn’t figure out how to get the icing to cover on all sides…. maybe I just don’t work fast enough??  Anywho – I appreciate all of your kind comments on Facebook, but really… I need to improve!

OH – I should also tell you that I use a make-shift double boiler method to make this icing.    It may or may not be the “best” way to make this kind of icing, but it keeps me from scorching it and  it keeps the icing warm enough that it doesn’t set up in the bowl (because with petit fours, I work sloooooooow!!!!).

However, even though the icing stays warm and fluid and it tastes amazing… it’s still a MESS!   If anyone can give me tips on making petit fours without making a mess – please SHOUT IT OUT in the comments!!

Raspberry Cream Cheese Petit Fours

Last thing – then the recipe – I promise!  I mentioned last week that I watched the Craftsy class,  Mini Cakes, Many Ocassions and that there is a whole lesson (or two) on making petit fours!

Well, that class is a wealth of information if you want to learn to make petit fours!   Mini Cakes, Many Ocassions includes videos, recipes and loads of tips!    I absolutely learned tons of great tips from it… I just need to watching it again to master some of what I learned!! ;)

Tell me!!  What do you struggle with?  Do you have a fool-proof method for making petit fours?  Wanna share!?!  Please!!  Pretty Please!!!

So now… on with the recipe!!

Petit Four Icing (aka Poured Fondant)

Petit Four Icing (aka Poured Fondant)

Ingredients

  • 6 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips

Instructions

Start by bringing a pot of water to boil, then placing a larger glass bowl over it. You'll do all of the recipe in the glass bowl!! THIS is my "double-boiler".

In the glass bowl, whisk together the confectioners' sugar, water, corn syrup and extracts. Note... you can eliminate or substitute different extracts to suit your recipe/tastes. I think lemon extract would also make an amazing icing!!

Continue whisking or stirring the until the mixture becomes smooth and consistent. It should be thin enough to drizzle from a spoon, but not so then that it all runs off the cake! You can also check the temperature and when it reaches 92° F, it's good.

When it's ready, add in the white chocolate chips and stir until melted. I like to turn down the heat but keep my water steaming underneath as I work to keep the icing from setting up!

Now - there are many ways to coat petit fours (dip, drizzle, pour the icing, etc.) and I can't tell you what's best! You can see several methods in the Mini Cakes, Many Ocassions Craftsy Class, but for me, I like to spoon it over the top.

I put my frozen petit fours on a cooling rack and I set that over a cookie sheet that is lined with wax paper (also shown in the Craftsy Class then I just spoon the icing over the top to cover the cakes!

I actually took some pics of part of this process but I'm ages away from posting those, so if you're in a hurry... you're much better off with the class!

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Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting

Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting

Last October (in 2013) I decided to make my own homemade vanilla extract.  I had been researching it for months and I really wanted to make it for myself and as gifts for Christmas for the ladies in my life.

Homemade VanillaOne of my homemade bottles… on Instagram!

It turned out to be a wonderful thing to do – it ultimately saves me lots of money on vanilla, it was a perfect homemade gift, and the flavor is amazing!   I know a few of you asked me about posting the recipe and maybe, just maybe I’ll eventually get around to that but for now, I want to talk about the vanilla beans.

You see it was all fine and good… except months later, as I start to empty the first of the bottles, I find myself staring at these “used” vanilla beans.

Since they were not cheap and I hated to just toss them out, I started searching  for ways to use them and discovered that I could cut those babies open and scrape out the “good stuff” inside.

Vanilla Bean Paste

Apparently, it’s what they use to make to make vanilla bean paste and other deliciousness…. hello beautiful!   Unfortunately, I’m not creative enough to come up with a good way to photograph the vanilla seeds that I scraped out of the bean, so that’ll just have to do!

You can mix it into *anything* that you want vanilla flavored (ice cream, frosting, whipped cream, cookie batter, etc.) or mix it into sugar and let it sit for a couple of weeks to make vanilla sugar or well… the sky is the limit!

Vanilla Bean Buttercream Cupcake

My first use of that vanilla bean goodness … this vanilla bean buttercream frosting.   It’s not a far stretch from my regular vanilla buttercream (I used the same proportions of butter, shortening and sugar), but you can definitely taste that his frosting is more potently vanilla!

Plus it has the added bonus of those tiny black flecks that just make the frosting look so much  more interesting… don’t you think?   Admittedly not everyone will see it that way… my kids thought I used a dirty frosting bag… buhahahahaha!

Click to see Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste

Back to seriousness… if you don’t have real vanilla beans, I highly recommend this Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste.  I’ve used it in the past and it is also amazing and would be perfect in this frosting!!

What do you think?   Have you made vanilla bean frosting before?  If not – will you be trying it soon?  I sure hope so!!  Here’s the printable recipe: 

Vanilla Bean Buttercream

Vanilla Bean Buttercream

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening**
  • 2 vanilla beans (seeded) OR 1 Tbsp. vanilla bean paste
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 3-5 Tbsp. heavy cream (or milk if you don't have cream)

Instructions

Using a stand mixer, cream together the butter, shortening, vanilla bean paste (or the scrapings from 2 beans), and the vanilla extract with the paddle attachment, scraping down the sides as necessary. Unless you use a SideSwipe paddle like I do... then no scraping is needed ;) Either way, continue mixing until it's smooth.

Add in the powdered sugar, one cup at a time until it's all incorporated and moist. The mixture will be stiff.

When all the sugar is mixed in, you can begin to add heavy cream, a tablespoon at a time until the consistency is good for you!

I like the frosting to be stiff enough to pipe, but not so stiff that it makes my hand hurt! I know that's an incredibly scientific texture, right?

Add more milk and/or vanilla bean paste until it's perfect for you!!

**Before you ask... YES, you can use all butter and skip the shortening, but it will not hold up as well in heat (I live in Mississippi ya'll) or pipe as beautifully because it will be a softer frosting. It will also have a slightly different taste and texture.

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