Sunday, December 12, 2010

Birthday cake for Brittany (my first fondant cake)

My best friend Brittany turned 22, and I had to make her a cake. An amazing cake. And when I think of amazing cakes, I think of fondant. That glorious edible play doughy stuff that turns regular cakes into works of art. And I had to try it. 
The cake itself was a simple recipe that I found on A deep, rich, chocolate chocolate cake that (surprisingly) isn't completely from scratch. Sure I guess that's cheating, but I figured since the outside of the cake was going to take me forever that I could cheat a little on the inside. Am I right? Definitely. The icing was regular buttercream icing, and made (yes, made) the fondant.
This cake was hard to make. It took me 4 hours. 4 hours non-stop. But I had to make it. And I did. And I'm glad I did.

First, I made the cake:

Recipe adapted from

1 box devil’s food cake mix
1 small box Jello instant chocolate pudding mix 
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate chips
Basically, all ya have to do, is put all the ingredients in a big bowl, and mix it really well.
And once you're done mixing, scoop it into your cake pans.

I found that the amount of time on the cake mix box was about right, but check it after the minumum time (not before or it will fall!)

While the cake was cooking, I made the buttercream icing, which is super simple
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (approximately 1 lb.)
2 tablespoons milk

Cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed.When all sugar has been mixed in, add milk slowly and beat at medium speed until a good consistency is reached (should be smooth and not dry). Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.

Fondant time. Oy vey.

For this, you will need: 
16 ounces of name brand white mini-marshmallows  
2 to 3 tablespoons water
2 lbs of brand name icing sugar
1/2 cup of all vegetable shortening
1 tablespoon of flavoring (if you want it)
Put the Marshmallows, 2 tablespoons of water and a tablespoon of your favorite flavoring in a big bowl, and stick it in the microwave for about 20 seconds. Take it out, stir the marshmallows and put it back in for another 20 seconds. Keep doing this until the marshmallows are completely melted (about 2 minutes).

Remove your marshmallows from the microwave and stir in half the bag of the powdered sugar using a big spoon (not your hands)

While it's cooling, line a flat surface with parchment paper and tape it down well. Cover the parchment with shortening and also coat your hands.

Dump your marshmallow mixture on the counter.

Start kneading like you would bread dough, slowly adding the rest of the powdered sugar. Add more shortening to your hands if they get sticky. Knead it for about 5 minutes or until its not sticky anymore. When it was about the consistency of bread dough, I added some color. All you do is flatten the ball of dough, and put about a teaspoon of gel food coloring into it, and knead like crazy.

When your done with kneading roll the fondant into a ball, cover it generously with a coat of shortening and wrap it with plastic, then put it in an airtight plastic bag/container and refrigerate.

Cakes are done!! Time to frost those puppies!!

(p.s. The frosted cake should not look like this. It should be perfectly smooth and white and crumb-free. But I suck at frosting cakes. And it's gonna be covered in my purple fondant anyway ;p)

Okay, now the hard part. The really hard part.
Take that fondant out of the fridge.
stick it in the microwave for ten seconds if it seems a little stiff. Then re-grease your parchment with shortening. Using a big rolling pin, roll out the fondant till it's about 1/4 inch thick. It should be a large circle, large enough to cover that whole cake (and then some).
Once you have a smooth, even layer of fondant, take a deep breath, and start to slowly peel it off the parchment paper CAREFULLY!! Be extremely careful not to rip it. Then, place it over the entire cake like this:

Trim the edges of that sucker with scissors, and smooth out all the air bubbles so it looks pretty.

And there you have it. Your fondant cake.
Now you can decorate it however you choose. I used ribbon and rhinestones cause I love things like that. But you can do whatever you want at this point. It's like a blank canvas.

Here is my finished cake. Gorgeous, isn't it? ;]

And here's Brittany opening her box to reveal her gorgeous cake

And here's her cutting it

and eating it

Ahh, sweet success.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The softest chocolate chip cookies. Ever.

Yesterday was my boyfriends brothers Birthday. And of course, I felt the need to bake something. Since a cake had already been made, Joey (boyfriend) suggested M&M cookies, which are his brothers favorite. I searched for awhile looking for a recipe that was different than the usual chocolate chip cookie (flour, eggs, sugar blah blah blah) until I found this one for "soft chocolate chip cookies" which calls for sour cream in the recipe. I was into it. These cookies turned out so amazingly delicious and soft, that I decided to bake another two batches today. Super simple and amazing. Love it.

Soft chocolate chip cookies. Adapted from Martha Stewart. That bitch knows what she's doing.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons sour cream
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup milk-chocolate chips (or M&Ms ;])

Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. Beat butter and sugars with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with sour cream, and beat until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips by hand. Cover, and freeze for 10 minutes.
                                                              Mmm....cookie dough.....
Using a spoon (or your hands) drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment, spacing about 2 inches apart. Flatten slightly. Bake until centers are set, about 12 minutes (but check after 10, to make sure the bottoms aren't burning)