September 27, 2011

Construction Birthday Treats: Oreo Truffles

Have you guys seen some of those birthday parties on the internet that are pretty much beyond incredible?  If you haven’t, take a quick gander at Kara’s Party Ideas.  Uh-mazing.

I really wanted to do a big production like that…. but, here’s my *very* scaled down version:


That caterpillar, is scooping some oreo truffles!!  I first saw the idea from this construction party.  These “boulders” were a fun addition to the party, and enjoyed by all.  I mean, who wouldn’t love Oreos mixed with cream cheese, and dipped in chocolate?


Oreo Truffles recipe adapted from Kraft  makes around 48 1-inch truffles

8 oz Cream Cheese, softened

1 16 oz  pkg. Oreo Cookies, finely crushed (should make about 4-1/4 cups), divided

Candy Melts (I used chocolate, but I think vanilla might be even better, more of a contrast of flavors)

  • Mix cream cheese and 4 cups of the cookie crumbs together until combined.
  • Shape mixture into balls, chill. ( I did different sizes to go with the whole ‘boulder’ theme)
  • Melt your candy melts according to package directions.
  • Dip chilled balls into chocolate to coat, then sprinkle with remaining crumbs.
  • Let set up in fridge until ready to serve (about an hour).


September 19, 2011

Construction Birthday Cake

When my now middle child turned 2 (youngest at the time), I kind of had a melt down. I was in complete denial that my baby was growing up. And it made sense to me why mothers like to baby their youngest for so long.

But, this time around, I’m doing a lot better! I was actually really excited to make a cake, and help him celebrate. We’ve even been practicing how to say ‘two!’ and hold up 2 fingers.

I debated for a long time what kind of cake to make. He is all about any kind of big vehicles. Construction, garbage, emergency, big pickups, etc. My sister-in-law helped me look online to find some inspiration. We found this, and I was totally inspired.



Construction Cake 2 layer 8” cake

With a serrated knife, I cut out a part of the cake, flipped it over on top, so it looked like the excavator was digging a hole. Then I frosted the whole cake. I put crushed up Oreos in the hole and on top of the mound. I also added some of these rocks. The cones and orange circles are made out of fondant. I used cookie cutters for the squares of the cones, and also the circles. The tops of the cones I hand shaped.

Frosting: I made a triple recipe of my favorite buttercream, and added chocolate!

3 sticks (1 1/2 C) butter softened

4 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2 tsp vanilla

12 oz chocolate

  • Chop your chocolate (unless you’re using chocolate chips) and melt in a double boiler. Set aside to cool.

  • Cream butter, and add powdered sugar 3/4 C at a time, mixing to combine before adding more, scraping sides as needed.

  • Mix in vanilla, and cooled chocolate.

As much as I loved the outside of this cake, I think the inside was my favorite:

DSC_0289so, isn’t that cool??? I can’t lie, it turned out even better than what I was hoping. It was totally an experiment. I got my inspiration from this tutorial, but made my cuts slanted, so it would look like construction tape. Making it 2 layered made it even better, and it was the perfect touch to this construction cake!!

**I made a picture tutorial on the slanted stripes if you want more details!**

I made 2 cakes: one chocolate and one vanilla. The vanilla I dyed yellow with gel coloring, and the chocolate, I used black cocoa! It makes the cake totally black. It also smells like Oreos. But, if you can’t or don’t want to get black cocoa, just use the recipe with normal cocoa, and use black gel coloring.

Also, I made both recipes as is, so I had 4 layers, enough for 2 double layer cakes.  I cut them both, and then picked which ones I thought would look better.  If you don’t want that much cake, either make a half batch of each recipe, or, make the vanilla recipe and dye it 2 different colors.

Chocolate Cake Recipe makes 2 8” layers

found this recipe at Engineer Baker

1 1/3 C flour

1 2/3 C sugar

1/2 C cocoa (see note above for details of cocoa)

1 1/3 tsp baking soda

2/3 tsp salt

2/3 C oil

2/3 C sour cream

1 C water

4 tsp vinegar

2 eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare your pans with spray and wax paper.
  • Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.  Whisk to combine.
  • Add the oil and sour cream – this will be thick!
  • Gradually beat in the water. 
  • Add vinegar and vanilla and blend.
  • Whisk in the eggs and beat until will blended, scraping sides of bowl as needed.
  • Divide evenly into 2 prepared pans, and bake 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Let sit for 10 minutes, then invert onto wire rack, remove wax paper, and invert again onto a wire rack to let cool completely. 

DSC_0278HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my sweet little guy!

September 14, 2011

Lemon Pies with Vanilla Wafer Crust

While I was shopping with my mom at Sprout’s one time, she directed me to their vanilla wafers, and told me how delicious they are.  and they were on sale.  So, of course, I bought myself a bag. 

These little cookies were delicious! But every time I ate one, I kept thinking how they needed something to go with them.  These cookies needed to compliment something else delicious.  I wanted to make them into a crust.  And then I figured it out.  Lemon.  Light, refreshing, summery lemon.  It was perfect.


The sweet whipped cream, the tangy lemon pudding, and then the buttery, crunchy crust.  So good.


Lemon Pie adapted from MADE Makes about 6 little pies or 1 normal size pie


about 40 vanilla wafer cookies

2 Tblsp Butter, melted


1 cup Sugar

3 Tbsp. Cornstarch

1/4 cup Butter, melted

1 Tbsp. Lemon Zest

1 cup Milk

1/4 cup fresh Lemon Juice

3 egg Yolks, slightly beaten

1/2 cup Sour Cream

  • Zest and juice lemons.
  • Combine sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan.
  • Add remaining ingredients, except for the sour cream.
  • Cook over medium heat until thickened, stirring constantly. (I know it’s kind of vague, but when it’s thickened, it won’t drip off the spoon, but more glop. If that makes it less vague….)
  • Remove from heat and let cool.  (I transferred it into a different bowl to help cool faster)
  • While it’s cooling, make the crust(s): crush vanilla wafers until desired size.  Add butter and stir to combine.  Divide evenly into serving dishes, and refrigerate (Put them in the fridge so that the crust gets nice and crunchy)
  • Once filling is cooled, stir in sour cream. Chill until ready to serve.
  • Spoon over the crust, and top with sweetened whipped cream


September 11, 2011

Chocolate Cake with Ganache filling and Raspberry buttercream

My parents celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary last Sunday. Isn’t that awesome? and they’re pretty awesome too. DSC_0158

I asked my dad if I could make a cake to help with the celebration. He told me he considered just getting one from Costco. Wha???? Not that I’m against Costco (I love that store in fact…) But, I’m always needing reasons to make totally awesome cakes, and I can’t think of a better reason than to celebrate my parents being together for 30 yrs.


I even had something already picked out that I wanted to create.


Remember this chocolate raspberry cake? I loved the flavor combo, so when I saw this beauty, I knew what I wanted to do.


I loved eating this cake. It was moist, the ganache layer added just an edge of rich chocolate, all covered in a rich and smooth raspberry buttercream. My favorite was getting some of each flavor in a bite.

Chocolate Cake adapted from Sweetapolita Makes 1 jelly roll/half sheet cake

2 3/4 cups all-purpose Flour

2 2/3 cups Sugar

2 3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda

2 3/4 teaspoon Baking Powder

1 cup Cocoa Powder (I used Dutch process cocoa from Sprouts and it was delicious)

1 3/4 teaspoons Salt

2/3 cup vegetable Oil

1 1/8 cups buttermilk

1 cup hot Water (I just did hot from tap, probably around 120 degrees)

2 teaspoons Vanilla

4 Eggs

*this recipe is kind of like a box mix, except you make the powder part. But then you just dump everything else in. easy*

  • Butter the bottom of a jelly roll/half sheet pan (13”x18”x1”) and line it with either parchment or wax paper. Preheat oven to 350.
  • Sift all dry ingredients into a large bowl (I used my standing mixer bowl).
  • Add all wet ingredients and mix on medium for 2 minutes with paddle attachment, scraping the sides as needed. (I know that a hand mixer would work fine too)
  • Mine seemed really airy after mixing, so if yours does too, turn it to low for another minute or 2.
  • Pour into prepared pan, batter will be fairly runny.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, until toothpick comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Cool in pan on a wire rack.

Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

(for better step by step instructions look here)

1 1/3 C Egg Whites (I used 9 egg whites, it was slightly under, but totally fine)

2 C granulated Sugar

pinch of Salt

3 C (6 sticks) butter cut into 1T bits, at room temp

seedless raspberry jam, to taste (maybe 1/3-1/2 C)

  • Combine egg whites and sugar in a double boiler over simmering water.
  • Stir and cook until all the sugar is dissolved, candy thermometer reading about 150
  • Whip the egg/sugar mixture on high until it is smooth and glossy, and the bowl and frosting feel room temperature, no longer warm. (my kitchen was really hot that day, so this took a super long time –like probably 20 minutes. I eventually stuck an ice pack around the bottom of the bowl to help it cool down faster, and that worked great.)
  • Turn mixer to low and add the bits of butter 1 T at a time, letting it incorporate before adding more.
  • Once all the butter is added, turn the mixer to med-high and let mix until it comes together.
  • Add the raspberry jam a little bit a time, letting it incorporate before adding more.

Whipped Ganache Filling (for better step by step instructions look here)

8 oz chocolate, chopped

1/2 C heavy whipping cream

  • Put chocolate in bowl.
  • Heat cream over stove over medium heat until almost boiling.
  • Pour cream over chocolate and let sit for a few minutes.
  • Stir together cream and chocolate until all chocolate is melted and it is smooth.
  • Let sit until set up and no longer runny (throw it in the fridge to make it go faster)
  • Once set up, whip until light and fluffy.

*you will want to whip this as close to when you use it as possible, otherwise it might get too hard to spread easily*

Assembling & Decorating the Cake

You will want plenty of time to assemble this cake. I wouldn’t recommend trying to rush it.

  • The cake needs to be chilled, so either put it in the fridge for several hours, or in the freezer for 1/2-1 hour. Cut the cake into 4 equal parts:

cake cutting

  • The illustration on the left will give you more of a long, skinny rectangle, the one on the right is not as long and skinny. I did the one on the right.
  • Place one of the quarters onto your serving tray. My cooking sheet does not have straight sides, so I cut the edges to make them straight up and down.
  • Level layer if needed, and frost with desired amount of whipped ganache. Repeat with next layers alternating between buttercream and whipped ganache, and place the top layer upside down.
  • Place in the freezer for 15-30 minutes, I promise this will help you frost faster and easier.
  • Frost the top of the cake with desired amount, and just a thin layer of frosting all way around the sides. You’ll be adding ruffles, so you want it to be thin, it will just help the ruffles stick better.
  • For the ruffles, use a petal tip (I used Wilton #104).
  • Hold the piping bag at a 90 degree angle, as close to the cake as possible, with the wide part of the tip next to the cake, the skinny part farther from the cake.
  • Make a back and forth motion as you work your way up the cake, layer upon layer.
  • Do ruffles all the way around the sides, until it’s all covered.

Because of the ruffles, there is a lot of frosting on this cake. So be sure to cut big enough on the first slice


otherwise you might have a person who’s slice is half frosting :) But it worked out, he just added another slice on top of that one.

Happy thirty years to my wonderful parents!

September 6, 2011

Chocolate Ganache x3

If you have not heard of ganache yet, I think you will be in for a treat today.  Chocolate+cream=yum.  and that’s all it is, just 2 ingredients.  Can’t get much easier, right?

I’m going to show you not only how to make it, but also 3 different ways to use it!  I love this recipe because it’s versatile, and easy to alter the level of dark flavor, while still staying consistently delicious. 

    Chocolate Ganache

    this is a ratio recipe, 2:1 but I’ll also include an example with exact amounts.

    2 parts chocolate: (chocolate chips, a bar, or a combination)

    *use the chocolate you like best (milk, semi or bittersweet), but remember that you’re adding cream, which essentially makes it more ‘milky’  Play around, mix some, see which combination you like best*

    1 part heavy whipping cream


    For example:

    1 C or 8 oz chocolate (I used two 3.5 oz bars and a handful of chips)

    1/2 C heavy whipping cream

    • If you have a chocolate bar, coarsely chop it. Chocolate chips are fine as is:

      • DSC_0126

        • Set your cream in a small pot on the stove over medium heat.

        • Place your chocolate in a bowl large enough to hold both chocolate and cream.

        • Watch your cream.  When it starts to get foamy around the edges and bubbling like it’s almost about to boil, take it off the heat and pour it over your chocolate:

          • DSC_0131

            • Stir the mixture to coat all the chocolate and then let it sit for a few minutes.

            • Stir your mixture to help it combine, and keep stirring until all the chocolate is melted:

              • ganache

                • If you have a few stubborn pieces of chocolate that are refusing to melt, you can toss it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds then stir some more.

                Now that it’s made, here are the three ways you can use it:

                #1 use it right away.  It’s nice and runny, and is perfect if you want the drizzle look:



                #2 let it sit until it starts to set up.  If you’re in a hurry, you can throw it in the fridge, but I like to cover it with plastic wrap then forget about it for an hour or so.  Once it’s set up, it will look like this:


                um, that looks delicious.  and it is.  This is great for piping pretty chocolate decorations, or even frosting a whole cake.

                #3 make some whipped ganache. After it has set up (in #2) you can beat it until it’s light and fluffy:


                the color changes the more you whip it.  Whipped ganache is currently one of my favorite cake fillings.


                Have fun! Get creative! You honestly probably can’t go wrong with chocolate and cream!

                September 5, 2011

                Sweetened Whipped Cream

                I have a confession.  Heavy whipping cream is a staple in my house.  Yup…..  it no longer is a, “There is a special occasion treat that requires whipping cream, I’ll add it to my list,” but a “Oh no, we’re almost out of cream and milk, we need to go to the store. Now.”   It stays fresh for a long time, and I use it often enough that it’s worth keeping on hand. 

                I really love being able to make my own whipped cream.  It’s super easy! and so delicious.  It will transform your waffles.  or pie.  or hot chocolate. or cupcakes.  or whatever you’re planning to put it on!

                  Sweetened Whipped Cream

                  1 Cup heavy whipping cream

                  1/4-1/3 Cup powdered sugar*

                  1/2 tsp vanilla

                  *just depending on how sweet you want it.   

                • Put cream in a bowl, and begin to whip on medium high with either a standing or hand mixer.

                • When it gets to super soft peaks:


                • scrape down the sides, and add the sugar and vanilla. 

                • Whip on medium-high until your desired consistency!


                (note: this is really stiff.  probably even whipped it a bit too long.  But, it still tasted fabulous.  I have yet to mess this recipe up!)