Sunday, June 13, 2010

M&M Cookies

On the agenda for today was making some chocolate chip cookies. After having so much cake during the past couple of weeks I was ready for something different. This recipe is a tried and true favorite in my home. Whenever my husband wants me to make them he'll ask me "when are you making MY cookies?" I automatically know which ones he's referring to!

Here's the cast of characters:

2 sticks (1 cup) room temperature butter
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 (12 ounce package) semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 bag of M&M baking chips
1/2 bag of dark chocolate chips

Internet meet Bertha. Bertha this is the internet. Bertha has become my very best friend in the kitchen. I use her all the time because I love her so much and I don't want her to feel neglected. I wanted this mixing for the first 8.5 years of my marriage. She wasn't cheap which is why I had to wait so long to get her. My husband surprised me with her last spring and life has been wonderful ever since!
Okay, enough about Bertha. I just wanted to properly introduce her to you. Now we can make some cookies.

Preheat your oven to 375 F

With an electric mixer beat butter and shortening until creamy.

Gradually add sugars, beating well until fluffy.

Gradually add dlour, baking soda and salt to butter mixture beating until well blended.
Pour your chocolate chips and M&M's in to the mixing bowl.

Gently stir in the chocolate chips and M&M's. The goal here is to not break up the M&M's. You still want them to have a definable shape.
I use a rounded tablespoon to put the cookies on the prepared cooking sheets about 2 inches apart.
Bake for about 10 minutes until lightly browned. (you know your oven best-so shoot for ten minutes but if you're oven runs a little warmer shorten in by a minute or two)

Let cool for 2 minutes on baking sheet then move to wire racks to cool. If you look at the above two pictures you may notice something different. Someone couldn't wait for the cookies to cool (ahem, Honey!) so the second picture is missing a cookie. You'll want to let them cool for ten or fifteen minutes before you try moving them around because the chocolate chips will still be warm and will get gooey if you stack them etc.
Here's our final product:

This recipe is really versatile. If you don't have M&M's you could use another kind of chocolate chip, butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips, toffee pieces or anything else that floats your boat. I don't care for milk chocoalte-I'm a dark chocolate kind of girl but you could use milk chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate. Feel free to mix it up and do whatever works for you.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

How not to make a Bakugan cake

Warning: Incredibly long, drawn out cake drama below.

Where do I begin with this tale of heartache and pain? Hmmm...I guess the beginning is the best place to start the story. My baby boys 9th birthday is this Tuesday. We had his party this weekend. He told me several weeks ago that he wanted me to make his cake and that he'd like for me to try to make the cake in the shape of a Bakugan ball. Side note-apparently Bakugan are all the rage with the 8-10 year old boys. I don't understand it but I'm not a 8year old or a boy. I told him that I'd do my best to make the cake that he wanted. At this time I'd like to blame Ace of Cakes for making this whole idea seem so easy to make a reality. I'd been thinking about the logistics of making a round ball shaped cake. I knew that I wouldn't be able to carve it because my artistic skills rank in the negative numbers. I finally came to the conclusion that my best bet would be to bake the cake in a round Pyrex bowl and then assemble it from there in order to get a ball shape. I wanted to do a practice run with the cake during the week since the party would be on Saturday to be sure that it would turn out. Well, this week got away from me-I blame the 3 day weekend-and I wasn't able to test run my ideas until Friday night.
Wyatt and I were out doing some last minute running around Friday night and I asked him how he wanted the outside of his cake to look. Leave it to my son to tell me that he wanted a fondant covered cake. I did what any other loving mother would do and told him that I'd try to make it happen. I had found a recipe for homemade fondant on Amanda's blog ( and thought that I'd try that. I'll admit it here in the privacy of my own blog that I'm cheap. If I can make something as opposed to buying it I will do so in a heartbeat! I've priced fondant before because I've wanted to get some to play around with and see what I can do with it and I haven't bought it because I think it's kind of pricey. I weighed the price of the pre-made fondant versus the homemade and figured that the taste of the homemade would be better and worth the extra effort. Fast forward to almost 10pm Friday night-once we get home and eat dinner. I get the cakes in the oven with no problems. After looking at the Pyrex bowl I was using I didn't think it would be round or ball shaped enough so I added a 9 in round cake pan to the oven to even out the size of the ball. As I'm getting the cakes out of the oven I read over the recipe for the fondant. Crap!!! It's supposed to be refrigerated overnight or at least for a few hours. It's late but I decided to soldier on. I was determined to give my boy the cake that he wanted. So I'm assembling the ingredients for the fondant and guess what I don't have any of because I used it last weekend during the cake-a-palooza?? Yup, I'm out of powdered sugar. It's 11:45pm. Some people might have decided to give up-not me. The rest of my family went to bed as I ran to Wal-mart to get more powdered sugar. While I was at Wal-mart I decided to venture over to the craft department and look at the cake decorating stuff. Meanwhile I'm mentally going back and forth with just buying the fondant or making it myself. I grabbed the box of fondant and go to walk out. Right then it happens. Mothers, you might know what I'm talking about....Mommy guilt. And it killed me. I put the pre-made fondant back and grabbed the powdered sugar and left Wal-Mart. When I got home I finished making the fondant and put it in the fridge to do it's thing. At this point it's about 1am. I'm tired. Ready to go to bed. But my baby boy will have no cake if I don't do something. So I start assembling the cake. I didn't want to use dowels for support mainly because I didn't think that they'd work. So I trimmed a cake board and put it on top of the bottom layer of cake. I put the flat layer on next then topped it with other round cake. I put a crumb coat on it and put it in the fridge to set while I was waiting on the fondant. Meanwhile I check on the fondant and pull out what I had colored black for the decorations on the ball. I figured that I'd take some gold decorating dust and brush it on the black pieces to make it kind of shiny like the normal Bakugan balls. As I tried to free form cut the shapes I realized that I was in way over my head. So, I scrapped the idea of a fondant covered Bakugan ball shaped cake. I started gathering the ingredients to make a regular chocolate sheet cake. I went to grab the eggs out of the fridge and realized that I had just used all but one of them making the cakes. I was up the creek without a paddle. My baby boy was going to be so disappointed in me. I could have made a middle of the night run to Wal-Mart but I decided against it. Finally, after fighting with the voices in my head (I'm kidding but you know what I mean) I decided to head to bed at 2:45am with the intention of getting up early and trying to salvage the ball shaped cake. The party was to start at 11am and since we were having it at my moms house because she has a pool I wanted to get there at 10am to set up. When I went to bed I figured that I'd get up around 7am and have plenty of time to mess around with the cake or I could just run to the store in the morning and get eggs. I woke up at 8:30am. After running to the store and picking up eggs I realized that I wouldn't have enough time to bake a cake, cool it and then ice it before having to leave to go to my moms. Bring out the fondant! I roll it out and it starts sticking to my counter top. I'm trying to not lose my patience and through a hissy fit over this stupid cake. Finally I get the fondant rolled our and I've got it draped over my rolling pin like a pie crust. I put it over the cake and unrolled it and then my worse fears came to life. It cracked and folded and did everything that I didn't want it to do. I'm almost in tears!! Husband comes in and looks at it and had the nerve to say "can't you fix it?"-huh! As if I had any idea of how to fix it. Then Wyatt comes in and tells me that it doesn't look that bad. His suggestion was that we take the left over fondant and cover up the spots that didn't get covered when I unrolled it and then paint over it. Husband chimes in again with "can't you just cover up the mistakes with icing?"-I proceed to shoot daggers out of my eyes. Finally, after letting a couple tears out I tell Wyatt that we can leave early and go get him a cake from Wal-Mart. No way on God's green earth was I going to serve the Bakugan cake to anyone outside of my house. So, that's what we did. I went and let him pick out a pre-made cake from Wal-Mart and all was well for the party.
I did let them cut into the cake today since it's just been sitting in the fridge in the garage. I made them wait until I could get pictures of the atrocity to share with all of the interwebs. I don't know that I'll be trying to use fondant anytime in the near future. I think I've been scarred for life.
Here's the look we were going for: (sorry, you'll have to follow the link if you want to see)
And here's what we ended up with. I don't know why it looks so pink in the pictures. It wasn't pink in real life. It was more like a pinkish red-apparently my skills for using food coloring stink as well.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My weekend cake-a-palooza!

Well, this weekend I was in full out cake making mode. I made three cakes this weekend. It started Sunday afternoon and continued until Monday afternoon. My dad and a co-worker of mine both had their birthdays yesterday. Dad wanted a carrot cake and co-worker loves chocolate. I decided to make a chocolate cake with chocolate icing for co-worker. Not everyone in my family likes carrot cake so in addition to the carrot cake I made a vanilla cake. My mixer was definitely getting a workout this weekend!
I wasn't able to get pictures of the cakes before they were cut in to so I took a couple of slices that were salvaged afterwards and here they are for your viewing pleasure.

Carrot Cake
2 pounds carrots, peeled and finely grated (I put mine in the food processor to save my (knuckles)
3 karge eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or you could use the seeds from a whole vanilla bean)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Optional: Raisins, nuts

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Farenheit. Spray 3 nine (9) inch round cake pans with baking spray with flour or grease and flour pans. Whish together carrots, eggs, buttermilk, sugar, oil and vanilla. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Stir flour mixture into carrot mixture until well combined.

2. Divide batter evenly among 3 pans. Bake 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Transfer to wire racks and let cool 10 minutes, then turn out of pans and let cool completely.

You can top cake with whatever icing you prefer. I used a cream cheese icing and then added nuts around the sides of the cake. I purposely didn't add nuts to the cake batter because I knew I would be adding them to the sides of the cake.

Cream Cheese Icing
1 1/2 sticks of butter softened
12 oz of cream cheese softened (or you could use a brick and a half of cream cheese)
6 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 cups powdered sugar

Cream butter and cream cheese together. Add vanilla until creamy. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time and mix until smooth. The icing recipe will completely cover a three layer cake with some left over.

For the vanilla cake I just used a boxed cake mix and made my own icing. I did channel my inner Amanda ( and decide to do something a little different with the cake batter. I used three cake pans and I separated the batter in to 3 bowls. I added red food coloring to one bowl and blue food coloring to the second bowl. I left the third bowl uncolored. I baked the cakes as the box directed and set them out to cool. I wanted a lighter icing for this cake so instead of using a buttercream or cream cheese icing I made a whipped cream icing.

Whipped Cream Icing
1 8 ounce brick cream cheese softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups whipping cream/heavy cream

1. Combine cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and almond extract in a mixing bowl using the whisk attachment. Once combined slowly add in cream, scraping bowl occasionally. Whip until mixture can hold stiff peaks. Apply to cake as desired.

I really liked this icing. It wasn't as sweet as a buttercream or cream cheese icing but was sweet enough to nicely compliment the cake. This recipe for icing covered my three layer cake with about a cup of icing left over. I kept my cake refridgerated until time to serve as a precaution.

The chocolate cake that I made was just a boxed cake mix and a store bought chocolate icing. I was going to make it from scratch but I ran out of time and energy! When I served the vanilla cake to my family they oohed and awwed about it. It took no more energy or time to add a little food coloring to the batter and it made my family feel really special.