Sunday Family Dinner

Family Dinner Celebrates the January Babies!

January 2018 Fam Din
Seester T and  Nini are our January Babies! So with all birthday Fam Dins, it was all about them!

January 2018 Fam Din
The evening included some of their favorite foods and of course, succulents. My Fam are somewhat succulents-obsessed….to put it mildly. And T and Maya put this adorable pot together for Nini that just had her written all over it.

Orange is her fav color.

And so are pugs—particularly Princess Leia.

And she also has been known to say that Maya is her Spirit Animal….so there’s that.

January 2018 Fam Din
While we were admiring their handy work, I put my efforts towards that night’s cocktail – Pomegranate Moscow Mules!

We’re big fans of mules with its gingery, citrus punch—and the addition of pomegranate juice was the perfect kick to update the classic.

January 2018 Fam Din
Then it was time to get down on some appetizers! Nini asked her mama to make pork belly baos.

Seester N marinated the pork belly overnight with soy, sugar, rice wine, garlic, ginger and a few other goodies. Once it was ready, she handed it over to me and I sous vide the belly for 10ish hours.

After the belly finished its bath, we placed it in the fridge for a few hours so it was easier to slice.

January 2018 Fam Din
When we were about ready to eat, she took the slices of pork and seared it up on each side.

I wish you could have smelled the house when she did this. It was simply intoxicating.

January 2018 Fam Din
A few hours beforehand, she made the dough for the baos and had it proof for a bit.

January 2018 Fam Din

Then it was time to roll it out.

Super adorbs rolling pin, right?

January 2018 Fam Din
Here they were before she placed them in the steamer.

And now here’s a confession……

Although everything looked perfect up to this point, the baos did not rise after they had steamed. It was the strangest thing!! We did taste a small piece of it and it was great! But we were looking for a smooth, puffed, mini-dome and somehow ended up with a pancake.

BUMMER!!!

January 2018 Fam Din
Luckily Seestrah N thought ahead and was prepared for any potential mishaps. You know, in case we “pulled a Monica”. Please tell me someone got that reference….

While at the Asian market, she swung by the freezer section and picked up a few packages of pre-steamed frozen bao dough. Think of it like the frozen dinner rolls you can buy and just throw in the oven.

They just needed a few minutes in the steamer and they were perfect!! Then it was assembly time.

January 2018 Fam Din
Get a look at these beauties!!

Sis also pickled up some thin cucumber slices earlier on in the week and stuffed them inside the baos along with freshly sliced cucumbers, carrots and a few sprigs of cilantro.

January 2018 Fam Din
They were insanely good — as delish as any I’ve had in restaurants! The pork belly was tender and succulent. The glaze was salty and sweet. And the veggies were the perfect offset for freshness, acidity and texture.

Sous Vide Pork Belly Baos — I highly, highly recommend them!

January 2018 Fam Din
Next up — OYSTERS!!!

To be honest, T had requested those crazy, 10 feet tall seafood towers for dinner. But c’mon now…that would be, as my nieces say, “very extra”.  Brother V got her to compromise and go with a Swan Oyster Depot-esque theme.

Which really just means HELLA seafood.

January 2018 Fam Din
V picked up a gazillion of fresh oysters and clams from our local Dry Dock Fish Company. Birthday gal got to work and was shucking away! I’m telling you, Nini is a Shucking Queen.

January 2018 Fam Din

I whipped up a quick mignonette for them but they were just as delish with a squeeze of lemon and tabascco.

January 2018 Fam Din
And then it was time for a GINORMOUS platter of these babies – DUNGENESS CRAB!!!!!

LOOK AT ALL THAT ROE! HOLY MOLY!

Brother also picked up a few dozen clams too. He meant to have us enjoy them raw, but dang it! Those suckers were tough as heck to shuck!

January 2018 Fam Din
So I did a little quick inventory of what N had in her pantry and decided to whip up a 20 minute dish – Seafood Squid Ink Pasta!

I sauteed some aromatics and threw in some crushed Roma tomatoes, clam juice and white wine. I then added the clams and some calamari N had in the freezer. Once the clams opened up, I tossed in some al dente squid ink pasta. Hey–we were going for seafood overload, right?

It was quite tasty and for a dish on the fly, we were pretty happy with it!

January 2018 Fam Din
Then it was time for us to do a little clean up before dessert.

Which for Leia, that means commandeer her fur cousin’s crate for a post dinner nap.

January 2018 Fam Din
Which is 100% okay for Bella because she prefers the couch with blankets.

January 2018 Fam Din
Then it was dessert time!

And of course, I had to make one for each birthday girl.

Nini loves all things green tea so when I asked her what she’d like for her bday dessert, she quickly said Matcha Mille Crêpes Cake! She’s a fancy one….

January 2018 Fam Din
It all started with matcha crêpes. And I’ve got to admit, they were the bane of my existence…well, while I was making them at least. I hadn’t made crêpes in YEARS and it took a while to get the hang of it down again.

It probably didn’t help that I started making the crêpes at 11pm the night before Fam Din but at least there was wine!

When all was said and done, I made 25 crêpes with the batter.

January 2018 Fam Din
The next day, I made a matcha flavored whipped cream and began assembly.

One crêpe, then a thin layer of the whipped cream.

And repeat.

January 2018 Fam Din

Once I was done, I had a total of 50 layers. But since I wanted to cover the whole cake in ganache, I used the whipped cream and covered everything in a thin layer before chilling it for a few hours.

January 2018 Fam Din
While I was glazing the chilled cake in a layer of ganache, I put birthday girl to work by having her cut out a stencil of a succulent.

Yes, I know. We’re obsessed.

January 2018 Fam Din

And VOILA!!

Nini’s Matcha Mille Crêpes Cake!

January 2018 Fam Din
And here’s a peak inside.

All.

Of.

Those.

Layers.

January 2018 Fam Din
Pretty, right?

I’ve got to admit, it was quite delicious too!

January 2018 Fam Din
And then it was seestrah’s turn!

After texts upon texts of me pestering her, she finally said she wanted a traditional chocolate cake. Now usually for us, that means Ina Garten’s version of Beatty’s Chocolate Cake.

Man, that is a damn good cake. But as good as it is, it’s not a great cake if you’re looking for a solid crumb for decorating.

January 2018 Fam Din

So I chose a sponge that I used for Maya’s cake a few years ago. It’s really chocolately and delish too–but just sturdier.

January 2018 Fam Din
And then I did this to it.

Because purple is seester’s favorite color.

It’s mine too.

And mama’s.

January 2018 Fam Din
Chocolate Layered Cake with Ombre Swiss Buttercream Rosettes.

January 2018 Fam Din
I actually kind of loved how it turned out in the end.

Now that I think of it, they kind of remind me of Sterling Roses that seestrah really loves.

I mean–I didn’t just think of it. I meant to do it that way all along!

*not

January 2018 Fam Din

Now here’s the thing about us. As much as we love desserts and as much as we bake….we’re not really into eating a lot of frostings or buttercreams. It’s just too sweet or too much most of the time!

Since I figured we’d get our fix of buttercream via the rosettes, I only used a thin amount between each of the cake layers.

Trust me, it was still plenty!

January 2018 Fam Din

And I just had to include this picture because Lucas and Maya’s expressions have be DYING.

January 2018 Fam Din
And that’s a wrap!

Happy Birthday January Babies!!!!

xoxo ❤

January 2018 Fam Din
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This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Pomegranate Moscow Mules, Various Wine
Appetizers: Sous Vide Pork Belly Baos, Fresh Oysters
Entrees: Steamed Dungeness Crab, Seafood Squid Ink Pasta
Dessert: Matcha Mille Crêpes Cake, Chocolate Layered Cake with Ombre Swiss Buttercream Rosettes

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Desserts/Pastries · Miscellaneous

Lucas’ Galatic Star Wars Birthday Party

Lucas' 4th Birthday

It was my Lucas’ 4th birthday the other week. And as his auntie/godmama, I’ve affectionately nicknamed him Lucasaurus.

Don’t let his charming smile, bright wit and adorable face fool ya. He can be a downright rascal—– a veloci-rascal!

Lucas' 4th Birthday

But I just adore the kid to pieces.

So last year, when I mentioned to my seester (pictured above with her super photogenic fam) that we should throw him a Star Wars themed birthday party–she was all for it.

And that’s where I was in trouble. Now some of you all may have witnessed my tendencies to go overboard with certain things and that my OCD habits can get me in a tough spot. Well–then you have not met my seesters…..and in particular, my over-the-top party planning sister, T.

Star Wars1-001

Nearly 5 months before Lucas’ birthday, she started sending me texts about deals she found on party favors, decorating ideas she found on Pinterest, signage she had created, etc. The next thing I knew it, we were headed warp speed into Star Wars mania.

As for me, I just went along for the ride hoping my desserts would get the stamp of approval by the party planning Jedi.

Lucas' 4th Birthday

But look at this little guy? How could we not get carried away?!

…Wrapped around his finger, he has us….

So then this happened.

Star Wars Dessert Tablescape

A bountiful Star Wars tablescape with desserts and goodies galore. But as much as I wish I could take the credit for all the galactic-goodness, I was only in charge of the desserts.

Seester did all the decor (that she started putting up 2 weeks before the party), cute signs, overflowing swag bags, and all the adorable touches that would have made the Jedi Council proud.

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Of course a regular Star Wars themed party wouldn’t cut it, so they upped the ante and arranged a Jedi Training Camp in order for all the padawans to prepare for their path to Jedi Knighthood.

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Lightsabers and Jedi Robes were a must, including cadet boxes to store all their goodies.

Star Wars4-001

To quench our thirst on the beautiful day, we sipped fresh Millennium Margaritas (for Jedi Masters 21+), Yoda Soda and Vader-Ade. Special props to my brother-in-law for hand squeezing the 25+ limes I needed to make the margaritas.

Trust me, we will never scoff again at those who own electric citrus juicers–DOH!

Star Wars2-002

And to fuel our Force, we summoned the Taco Master all the way from Orange County— I mean Tatooine. 🙂

Mouthwatering Carne Asada, Carnitas, Fish, Nachos….ideal nourishment to battle the Empire.

Taco Master from Tattoine

Back at our tablescape, Seester put together these cute Star Wars themed candies. Yoda Treats, Han’s Rolo, Edible Ewoks, & Thermal Detonators.

Star Wars-001

And poor Han.

All he wanted to do was to come wish Lucas a Happy Birthday but then he got himself frozen in carbonite again.

Star Wars3-001

Seester got to employ her knife skills by carving a watermelon Death Star. Lord Vader would have been pleased.

Watermelon Death Star

Lucky for us, Chewbacca was kind enough to guard the goodies from any other Sith Lords.

Lucas' 4th Birthday

Speaking of Sith Lords, I started off my dessert contributions by molding Stormtrooper and Darth Vader chocolates to place on top of the cupcakes. They later received a bit of edible disco dust for a bit of sheen….they are from outer space after all.

Darth Vader & Storm Trooper Chocolates

They perched atop rich Chocolate Cupcakes topped with big swirls of Vanilla Bean-Swiss Meringue Buttercream and sprinkles. Some of the cuppies were also topped with vanilla whipped cream.

Darth Vader & Storm Trooper Cupcakes

I paid additional homage to Darth Vader with these Chocolate Shortbread Cookies made with Valrhona cocoa powder.

Chocolate Darth Vader Cookies

How would it be a party without Master Yoda? These were Citrus Scented Sandwich Cookies filled with a Dark Chocolate Ganache.

Delicious, he was.

Yoda Sandwich Cookies

And to keep Darth Vader company, I made an army of Stormtrooper Sugar Cookies that were decorated with Royal Icing.

They were super fun to make and all of the cutters can be purchased from Williams Sonoma.

Storm Trooper Sugar Cookies

There were also pops for all to enjoy…..

Princess Leia Cake Pops & Death Star Rice Krispy Pops

“That’s no moon-it’s a Space Station!”

Not quite Master Obi-Wan but you’re close. They’re Rice Krispy Pops shaped as Death Stars. Not only a superweapon but super-yummy.

Death Star Rice Krispy Pops

And Princess Leia Cake Pops. Lucas really enjoyed these.

Princess Leia Cake Pops

And what’s a birthday party without a birthday cake?

I just had to make a little cake for our Jedi in training although Seester called it a “gentleman’s cake”. This was a 6 inch, 3-layer chocolate cake frosted with Vanilla Bean-Swiss Meringue Buttercream. I decorated the little cake with a fondant Stormtrooper accented with royal icing, fondant lightsabers, fondant Star Wars banner, Darth Vader molded chocolates, fondant stars and a star sparkler.

Star Wars Birthday Cake

At Jedi Training Camp, there was a Space Pod and stations for the padawans to bottle their own galaxies.

Lucas' Birthday

And then it was time to don their robes because…

Lucas' 4th Birthday

Duh, duh, duh, dum, da-dah, dum, da-dah………..

Darth Vader appeared! He was powerful, all-knowing, and—

Lucas' 4th Birthday

He liked parachutes. Yup, parachutes.

Lord Vader thought it was an integral training tool for the young padawans and can be seen here strategizing with the younglings.

Lucas' 4th Birthday

Heck–Vader even cleaned up after the parachute exercises!

There may still be good in him.

Lucas' 4th Birthday

Then he showed the padawans how to properly yield their sabers and spar.

I think that Lucas is saying– “You look a lot bigger on TV but I still pity the foo’ who messes with me!”

Oh yes, that was a Star Wars–Mr. T crossover moment.

Lucas' 4th Birthday

Cake Time!

Lucas' 4th Birthday

But that sneaky Vader used The Force to make the candles relight after Lucas blew them out.

He’s quite a trickser—when he’s not serving the Emperor and upholding the Dark Side.

Lucas' 4th Birthday

Lucas and Vader. They’re BFFs now.

The Lucasaurus always wins over the Dark Side.

Lucas' 4th Birthday

It was an action packed and exhausting day but the little guy had a blast.

And of course, we prevailed by restoring balance to the Force.

Lucas' 4th Birthday

The Force is strong with this one and I look forward to watching him grow into Jedi greatness.

Until our next Jedi Episode (hopefully for my other nephew, Leonidas’ birthday)— MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU!

Lucas' 4th Birthday

Desserts/Pastries

Sweet Treats from 2012 and Happy New Year!!

Alice in Wonderland Chocolate Cupcakes

With just a few hours left in 2012, I wanted to wish you and your loved ones Happiness, Joy, Endless Laughter and epic Foodventures! May 2013 be everything you wish it to be and more.

I also wanted to show some sweet treats that I pulled together in 2012 but didn’t get a chance to share with you before.

Alice in Wonderland Chocolate Cupcakes

Alice in Wonderland  themed cupcakes for my niece’s Birthday Tea Party. Chocolate Cupcakes frosted with Vanilla Buttercream with toppers that were molded from fondant and edible markers

Mini White Chocolate-Brownie Chunk Cheesecake

Mini White Chocolate-Brownie Chunk Cheesecakes

Chiffon Cupcakes w/ Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Chiffon Cupcakes with Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Chocolate Malt Cupcakes

Chocolate Malt Cupcakes

Chocolate Soccer Cupcakes

Soccer Themed Chocolate Cupcakes for my nephew’s 3rd birthday

Chocolate Soccer Cupcakes

Toppers made with fondant and painted with gel food colors, royal icing and edible markers

Chiffon Cupcakes w/ Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Vanilla Bean Chiffon Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream topped with handmade White Chocolate Shell Candies for a Beach Themed Bridal Shower

Chiffon Cupcakes w/ Lemon Curd & Swiss Meringue Buttercream

4 layer Vanilla Bean Wedding Cake filled with Lemon Curd and frosted with Swiss Meringue Buttercream in a “ribbon” pattern

Vanilla Cake Pops

Vanilla Cake Pops for a Bridal Shower

Chocolate Raspberry Petal Cake

3 layer rich Chocolate Cake filled with Raspberry Coulis and frosted with Chocolate Buttercream in a “petal” pattern for my niece’s birthday party

Chocolate Raspberry Petal Cake

Creating a “petal” pattern with Chocolate Buttercream

And with that, I’m off to the countdown with friends and bubbly. Here’s to a delicious 2012 and Cheers to all of the wonderful things to come in 2013! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Desserts/Pastries

Gingerbread-Pear Cupcakes + Nambé Winner!

Gingerbread-Pear Cupcakes

Is it just me or is time FLYING by?!

I feel like I was just wondering what my Halloween costume was going to be and within a blink of an eye, Thanksgiving has come and gone and now we’re barreling towards the Winter Holidays. YIKES!

But with the Winter Holidays comes all the flavors that I adore —- and gingerbread probably tops the lot.

These gingerbread cuppies are wonderfully spiced, deeply flavored with molasses & fresh ginger and are quite moist. I added in some pears for an additional level of flavor and texture and think they paired well with the spiced frosting. However, if you feel like cutting out some sweetness, simply serve the cupcakes inverted as the pears will act as a wonderful “topping”. Either way, your guests will adore you for them.

Gingerbread-Pear Cupcakes

And now for the winner of our Nambe platter! Drum Roll please………….

CONGRATS Ryan M. who said he would use this platter to feature local cheeses and jams he has made this year. MMMmmm!! Ryan, please check your email for instructions.

THANK YOU to everyone who participated! And a big THANKS to our friends at Nambe!!!!

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Gingerbread-Pear Cupcakes with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes approximately 24-28 cupcakes

Ingredients:

Batter
2½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup boiling water
2 teaspoons baking soda
¾ cup molasses
1¼ cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, beaten
½ tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 cup chopped pears

Frosting
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon molasses
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5-6 cups confectioner sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line muffin tin with paper cups.

In a bowl, sift together the flour and dried spices. Set aside.

In another large bowl, whisk together the boiling water, baking soda, sugar and molasses until combined. Stir in the vegetable oil. Allow the liquids to cool slightly. Mix in the dried ingredients and then the eggs, vanilla extract and fresh ginger. Once the batter has been combined, carefully fold in the pears.

Fill the paper cups three-quarters full and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of them comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pans on a wire rack 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

While cupcakes are cooling, prepare the frosting. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Whip in molasses, cinnamon, and cloves. Gradually whip in the confectioner sugar, ½ cup at a time. Continue adding sugar until you reach your desired consistency. Fill a piping bag with the frosting and pipe large swirls on top of the cooled cupcakes.

Desserts/Pastries

Thin Mint-Chocolate Cupcakes for St. Paddy’s Day!

Thin Mint-Chocolate Cupcakes

 

 

This is the time of year when I stock up on bottles of Guinness, Baileys and well…..all things Green.

To make dozens and dozens of Guinness and Baileys Cupcakes, of course!

But this year, I wanted to go a different route and since my niece (alright, more like my sister) was selling Girl Scout Cookies, utilizing the beloved Thin Mint® Cookies was a no brainer!

 

 

Thin Mint-Chocolate Cupcakes

These cuppies were a great alternative to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Rich and moist chocolate cake filled with chunks of  Thin Mint® Cookies and topped with a lightly minty buttercream and cookie. DEE-LISH!

But if you aren’t big on Thin Mints® (which may be slightly CRAZY!), try one of these other GREEN LOVING cuppies!

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Irish Cream Buttercream

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Irish Cream Buttercream

Fluffy Lime Cupcakes with Lime Whipped Cream

Fluffy Lime Cupcakes with Lime Whipped Cream

But no matter which sweet treat you choose, have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!!!

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Thin Mint-Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes 2 Dozen Cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:
½ Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1½ Teaspoons Baking Soda
½ Teaspoon Baking Powder
½ Teaspoon Salt
1¼ Cups Granulated Sugar
5 Ounces Dark Chocolate, finely chopped
1 Cup Buttermilk
1 Cup Strong Brewed Hot Coffee
2/3 Cup Vegetable Oil
2 Large Egg
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 Cups Thin Mint® Cookies (or other chocolate mint cookies), roughly chopped

Buttercream:
4 to 5 Cups Confections Sugar, sifted
2 Cups Unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 to 5 Tablespoons Milk
½ Teaspoon Mint Extract

Garnish:
1 Dozen Thin Mint® Cookies, cut in half
Shamrock Sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place paper liners in muffin pans and put one cookie on the bottom.

Place finely chopped chocolate in a bowl and pour hot coffee over it. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to sit for a few minutes. Remove plastic and stir until smooth. Sift together cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, and salt into a large bowl. In a mixing stand, beat egg for a few minutes until it becomes pale yellow. Beat in oil, buttermilk, and vanilla extract.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and slowly add the chocolate. Slowly add dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Fold in chopped Thin Mint® Cookies. Scoop batter into the lined cups–about 3/4 way. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to cooling racks.

Prepare the frosting: In a large mixer bowl, whip the butter for several minutes until very light and fluffy. Slowly add about half of the powdered sugar a few spoonfuls at a time until incorporated. Slowly drizzle in the milk and whip until combined. Mix in the mint extract. Add the rest of the powdered sugar until your desired consistency has been achieved.

Fill a pastry bag and pipe frosting on top of cooled cupcakes. Garnish with ½ a cookie and sprinkles.

ENJOY!

Desserts/Pastries

Red Velvet Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream

Red Velvet Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream

It’s hard to believe but it’s been over a year since I’ve made a batch of Red Velvet Cupcakes.

Crazy, eh?

But I think at some point, I had just overdosed on them.

Yes, My Friends…….I had too much of a good thing.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream

But then the next thing I knew it, the holidays were smacking me upside the head. Everywhere you looked it was hues of blues, silvers….green, red. I just had to bring out my tried and true Red Velvet recipe to ring in the holiday cheer. The beautiful color is just so darn festive.

And let’s face it. It would be near “Grinch-like” if I didn’t.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream

To add a little different flair to my Red Velvet Cuppies, I decided to swap out my favorite cream cheese frosting with a super decadent and sweet White Chocolate Buttercream. It was a nice change from the tangy cream cheese but if you don’t like sweet frostings or want to cut back a bit, you may want to stick with the classic.

But c’mon now—it’s the holidays! I won’t tell if you don’t 🙂

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Red Velvet Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream
Makes approximately 18-20 Regular Sized Cupcakes

Ingredients:

Batter:
1¼ Cups All Purpose Flour
½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
¼ Teaspoon Salt
1½  Tablespoons High Quality Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
½ Cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Large Eggs, room temperature
½ Cup Sour Cream
½ Cup Milk
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2-3 Tablespoons Red Food Color, depending on desired intensity of color

White Chocolate Buttercream:
10 Ounces Unsalted Butter, room temperature
6 Ounces White Chocolate, melted and cooled
3-4 Cups Sifted Confectioner Sugar, varies due to preferred frosting consistency
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2-3 Tablespoons Milk, if needed

*Optional: White Chocolate Shavings to top the cupcakes.

Preheat the oven to 350°degrees and place paper liners in pans.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a standing mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy for about 3-4 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add milk, sour cream, vanilla, and food color. Slowly incorporate dry ingredients until well blended.

Fill each lined cup 2/3 full. Bake for approximately 18-20 minutes, rotating halfway between baking time. Cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes clean. Cool completely in pans on top of a wire rack.

While cupcakes are baking, prepare the frosting. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the vanilla and butter until fluffy.  Add the white chocolate and whip until combined. Gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar, a few tablespoons at a time. Continue adding sugar to desire consistency. Should the buttercream appear dry, whip in a tad of milk.

When cupcakes are thoroughly cooled, frost or pipe decorate swirls on top. Sprinkle with white chocolate shavings.

Happy Holidays!!

Sponsored

Foodventures at the Wilton Food Blogger Workshop

 

A few weeks ago I was flown out to Chicago to attend the Wilton Food Blogger Workshop <insert high-pitched squeals of joy here>.  It truly was an honor to join 26 amazing food bloggers from across the country for a trip filled with all things Wilton!

Early Saturday morning we were whisked away to the Wilton Headquarters. And although I hadn’t met any of the other bloggers prior to the trip, I instantly knew I was with my kind of peeps the moment we walked through Wilton’s front doors as everyone began feverishly snapping away photos. It’s wonderful to be around people who get me 🙂

 

Here are a few demo cakes that they had on display

 

We spent the next several hours practicing our piping skills, experimenting with fondant, touring the site, and learning about the hottest Wilton trends.

 

Sandy Folsom, Director of the Wilton School, was our main instructor for the day.

Some of my buttercream rosettes, stars, and basket weave.

 

And of course, what better way to demonstrate our newly acquired skills than a cake-decorating competition! We were broken into teams and given about an hour to decorate a two-tier cake. My fabulous teammates included Julie Deily of The Little Kitchen and Vanessa Druckman of Chef Druck Musings.

 

Some of our competition supplies.

You would think that an hour would be plenty of time to whip out a nicely decorated cake but trust me, it’s much harder than it sounds! So much talent with so little time! But we were quite happy with our final product. 🙂

 

Our bright and colorful “spring” themed cake.

Cake Decorating Contest : Wilton Blogger Workshop

 

As I had mentioned, we did a quick tour of the facilities that included the prep rooms, photo studios, and testing kitchens.

 

One wall in their prop room…….needless to say, I need to get me a prop room stocked like this 🙂

 

 

Snapshot of a photo set up. And yes, those are holiday items being photographed in June!

 

We were then zipped away to a quick stop at the Wilton School and the Wilton Enterprises. The talented Colette Peters happened to be teaching a Masters Course when we arrived at the school. I was a bit giddy when we saw her—so much to the point that the pic I snapped of her was so blurry that I’d rather not post it.

 

We did a little sampling of goodies in the test kitchens.

 

And what could top a day filled with cake decorating, photography, eating, and meeting talented food writers? Just one thing really……SHOPPING!!!

This year marked the 25th anniversary for the Wilton Tent Sale—-and was it ah-may-zing! A ginormous white tent was jammed packed with over 3,000 items up to 75% off! Every item a baker could dream of……and even some housewares and scrapbooking supplies, too! I picked up so much loot that I had to ask the hotel for an empty box to check on the plane. I obviously didn’t prepare well enough 🙂

 

Baking tools, GALORE!

My loot shamefully spread all over my hotel bed

 

Our day ended with a celebration Awards Dinner where we all got to enjoy delicious food, recount on a wonderful trip, and were given awards from the cake decorating competition!

 

Our awards for the evening.

Our competition cakes

 

Our team took home the award for “Best Use of Color”—and we sure did use tons of it!

 

Yours Truly, Julie Deily of The Little Kitchen and Vanessa Druckman of Chef Druck Musings (photo courtesy of Wilton)

 

My cake statuette is currently standing proud in my kitchen

It truly was an AMAZING, fun-filled, and jam-packed trip! In addition to gaining more exposure to Wilton and their long-standing contributions to the baking world, I am honored to have been in such wonderful company with the talented food bloggers in attendance. I look forward to our continued friendships!

And after a good amount of persuasion and encouragement from these talented ladies, I FINALLY took the plunge. Yep, it’s true—we’re now on Twitter!

And if you haven’t done so already, be sure to “LIKE” us on Facebook!

I’d like to extend a huge hug of gratitude to Wilton for such a memorable experience. THANK YOU for your extreme generosity and for taking such good care of us!

 

 

Disclosure: Although I received Wilton products and the trip to the Wilton Food Blogger Workshop, all opinions and views are my own.