Thursday, March 1, 2012

Cupcake This & That...Oh, and These Too!


I'm writing this post just to give you a few bits of information and to share a few of my favorite things. First up - a friend asked me today, "How DO you eat a cupcake?" Such a funny question and one I never thought about before! How DO I eat a cupcake? Well, I suppose this is like the "favorite way to eat an Oreo" question or "how many licks to the center of a Tootsie Pop" question. I know some people lick the icing off first then eat the cake. Some save the icing for last and eat the cake first. My sister gets rid of most of the icing *sigh* because she's not much of an icing fan. My answer? I take a bite from top to bottom first in order to taste all of the flavors together as they were meant to be. If it's a new cupcake flavor combo or someone asks me to taste something that they baked, the pastry chef in me cannot help but take a bite of each element (cake, filling, frosting, topper...) by itself to truly know if I love it! Baking is a science, people, and so the eating can be as well! 


Next, I wanted to let you know that my cupcake liners from papermart.com (see "Cupcake Liners At a Steal") came in last night and I couldn't be more pleased! So worth the effort (all of 30 seconds) to find them online. I received all 900 liners in good condition and as promised. The striped ones are so cute! This company has made a loyal customer of this blogger!


Now for a few of my favorite things. I wouldn't be the baker that I am without my KitchenAid stand mixer. Seriously, folks, if you don't have one of these, invest! You will NOT be sorry. Yes, I still have my trusty hand mixer (see below about how I got started with baking because of one of these things) and I use it when it's convenient, but the majority of my mixing is done in my gorgeous stand mixer. Well, to be honest, I'm using my mom's and mine is safely tucked away in storage, just waiting to make its debut someday! My parents bought mine for me - shiny, black, beautiful - a few years ago for Christmas. We were in Kansas visiting family and dad ordered it online so that it was waiting for me when I got home. About a week or two after our vacation, mom and dad went garage sale shopping and, lo and behold, a green KitchenAid mixer, hardly used, was for sale at a steal! All parts included!! Its home is on our kitchen counter and it gets lots of love and attention! 


Another favorite of mine is my apron that my Grandma, Tommie Jean Welch, gave me a few years ago. This lady was the epitome of the baking grandma people talk about growing up knowing. Most of my memories of my grandma involve her in the kitchen, up to her elbows in butter and flour. I can't smell biscuits and pork tenderloin without thinking of Saturday morning breakfasts at her house. She bought me my first hand mixer and taught me her basics in the kitchen. When I finished culinary school in '08, I took a cross-country drive from Florida to Maine where I spent 3 months on my externship before graduation. On the way up, I stayed with my Aunt and her family in Virginia and my grandma and her husband were living with them at the time. Grandma told me that she was taking credit for all of my future success because of that hand mixer and she just knew big things were in store! Seeing the pride on her face was enough success for me and the memory of her, waving me off as I headed to new places with a big smile on her face...priceless! After my externship was over my family headed up to VA for a big family Thanksgiving and I remember Grandma standing in the kitchen watching me do what she had done my whole life. By this time her health was failing and we knew it was probably her last Thanksgiving with us. Sure enough, her suffering ended and she went home to be with her Lord about 2 months later. Every time I'm in the kitchen I think of her. She was right. She is the reason I love the kitchen and I'll never forget the impact she made on my life!


My all-time favorite chocolate cake recipe is next. Some of you are gonna laugh. It seems so simple. I was introduced to this cake by my dear friend, Tina, a fellow baker and lover of all things cake! One bite and I was hooked. Truly, if you love decadent dark chocolate like I do, you MUST try this cake. Are you ready? It's the Hershey's Deep Dark Chocolate Cake and it is to die for! No joke. Moist, heavenly, rich, chocolate cake that just melts in your mouth!



Hershey's Deep Dark Chocolate Cake Recipe:


Ingredients - 


2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa or HERSHEY'S SPECIAL DARK Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
Photo courtesy of hersheys.com
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water


Directions - 


1. Heat oven to 350uF. Grease and flour two 9-inch round pans or one 13x9x2-inch baking pan.
2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs,
milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of electric mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water
(batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes for round pans, 35 to 40 minutes for rectangular pan or until wooden pick
inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool
completely. (Cake may be left in rectangular pan, if desired.)


Divine!


Well, there you have it. A few odds and ends about cupcakes, baking, and me. Here's a look at the upcoming posts:


Strawberry Lemonade Birthday Cake
A Lemon & Raspberry Friendship
Samoas, Thin Mints, & Girl Scouts, Oh My!
A Luck o' the Irish Month o' Cupcakes

And, on it goes....

As always, happy reading and, most importantly, happy cupcake-ing!



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Blessings,
Heather

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