Friday, November 27, 2015

Chocolate Mondays

Hello and Thank you for Stopping by Chocolate Mondays,
You know when you love creating something after a while it comes easier in that you become better at it with every effort. I love to create/bake cookies, candies, cakes and flowers, especially with chocolate. It really is the best vegetable on the planet and makes everything better. The closer it is to it's original state the better it is for you. You can eat it, use it as a face mask (find that post here) and drink it. A cup of hot cocoa will warm you up much better than a cup of coffee without the caffeine side affects, but you don't have to take my word for it. I have to confess good mocha latte from a good coffee house, is clearly second to none!
That said, I started this blog to have a place where I can share golden nuggets about life, baking, chocolate and maybe help take some of the complications out of baking, because baking is fun. Find the fun and the work is done, deliciously and chocolaty!

Baking for

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Before and After... It's Not a Disaster!

I'm gonna let you in on a little secret...maybe you know or have heard of it...there's no such thing as perfect...excellence.. yes. Perfect implies no flaws, mishaps on the way everything went perfect as planned! The little critic in the back of our mind is thinking...somethings going to go wrong now for sure! Excellence is different, to me it's the best part of us, when we're at the top of our game, pushing through all kinds of obstacles and breaking down all kinds of inner misconceptions. Giving the very best of you and loving it! It can be a scary venture, the uncertain part, yet very exciting. One can't help but feel alive and thrilled when you get into the zone and you're a frosting pipping machine because you finally comprehend the hand motion or precision required to create the look you so want to present! Practice makes excellent work seem perfect!
Chocolate Mini Cups before frosting
Today I want to talk about before and after!
Below in the first four pictures, the sweet Itty bitty flowers at the top, were intended to decorate my petit fours. The first petit fours look even more monstrous with the flowers. In my opinion, perfect for a hollowed eve! The second set look much better suited for a tea party, because the cake had more structure. To me it came together more like a cookie dough. The glaze is better too using Chocolate, milds out some of the sweetness. Recently I learned of a way to make the glaze with a candy thermometer almost the same as making caramel. So I have another option depending on the need at the time, because no dairy is required and if the person request sweet sweet i can adjust it.

First attempt...cake didn't hold up
they look scary
Real almond cake recipe and
creamier chocolaty glaze! Yum
Made from scratch Carmel filling  and
Apple butter, just remember to brush off the crumbs!
Distractions will come: I find that order is a necessary platform for baking success. Prep lists or Mise en Place! Takes time to write, but they save time. Without it I feel so chaotic! Another way to keep order is focus toward the final outcome. Thinking about how to bring about the final product takes a bit of planning, but practice or trial runs will help you see what you miss, time needed and other adjustments.  I love tools and gadgets...the right tool for the right job, makes for light getting many hands to assist in some way. A excellent tool to keep the focus as you work on the outcome is a timer! invest in several! Some come in such cute can't help remember to set it. I would say, a good cook has at least 3. I love the one on my scale...great feature.

Purple, orange, Pink and white Chocolate modeling clay
A lot of kneading, rolling and manipulating take
take place to get the desired topper or cover. 
Zoe waiting to be place on her cake

Gift to a really tough but fair teacher!
Almond Paste for Marzipan

Last year the glazed marzipan snowman featured, in a free circular for Christmas, really inspired these creations. I wasn't in love with the off white color(not a fan of yellow snow) so I was really happy to learn how to make modeling chocolate cleaner snow! The earlier photos weren't all that great, I didn't have such a great camera. Practice and another camera, made the difference in this before and after, nice. The modeling chocolate is also easier on the budget and with pleasing results. I'm pretty impressed with the progress. 
Our best tools are clean hands, they can create all kinds of beautiful things. Tools used for non-eatable clay can alternately be used, for chocolate modeling clay and marzipan. Some gadgets are just nice to have but others make a projects

Here are two more before and after I'm not even going to say which came first ...
maybe you can tell

Just keep Creating, Till next time

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Hand Painted Mini Cake

Hand Painted on Modeling Clay
Chocolate cake

Happy Chocolate Monday :)
 I took a free hand painting class offered on Craftsy so today I want to share my experience painting and working with modeling chocolate. I now know how to bring all those lovely flowers I've photograph, to life on my cake creations, not to mention other fun patterns! I made this painted mini chocolate cake to compliment a dear friend's garden tea for 5 people. She was so tickled! Although this is my first attempt I am pretty please with the results. The modeling chocolate was really the biggest challenge getting the right thickness or thinness. Then placing it properly on the cake. More math and other important cake design skills, please! Gratefully found here on you tube with  Chef Alan Tetreault and John of Cake Style

This particular Class "Hand Painted Cake" is for beginner.  First I was impressed with the thoroughness of the class. The list of supplies and the steps being divided in a sequence that's easy to follow. If you miss something you can put the class on repeat. I also like the feature for taking notes that's stops the video where you need to come back. Before the actual application of the transfer the instructor, Erin Schaefgen taught to rub a thin layer of shortening on the surface of the modeling clay using a paper towel.  I didn't prepare the modeling chocolate by rubbing shortening on the surface, which may be the reason the paint didn't bead. I figured since there was so much oil in the clay to begin with, leave it like it is. Also the color may not have beaded up because the heat broke a bit. 

I Loved the painting process choosing and mixing the colors and putting the colors on the modeling chocolate. After posting this on Craftsy one person commented , she was surprised the colors didn't bead. I asked on the board of the class if anyone had tried using modeling chocolate instead of fondant? I really wanted to try it and see what happened, so by the time I'd collected all my supplies I moved forward without any response from anyone. Sometimes we ask questions and forget we can try and know for our self. That the great part of being is appreciating our efforts and seeing the turnout. I'm happy with the turn out, which isn't always the I'll try again. Either way I enjoyed creating this a great deal.

**Since I first blog this I came across another blogger Jessica, that said another way to paint on modeling clay is with pedal dust and vodka...or lemon juice. I've tried the method on candy flowers and the colour is very vibrant. The link below will lead you to Jessica's blog and she has a great Q&A on how to make you own modeling clay and how to avoid or fix any issues..**
Jessica Harris Cake Design

Go have a Great Chocolate Monday :D

Friday, November 6, 2015

Mocha and Dark Chocolate Flavored Frosting

Chocolate buttercream at it's best, My 10yr old baked and pipped these with me!
Ready for her luncheon at school. 

Dark Chocolate Ganache and Buttercream frosting you can see the  difference between this frosting and the cookies above. All because of the type and amount of chocolate.

"Cake Love" by Warren Brown, really helped me comprehend what was involved in making buttercream frosting. The ingredients are simple enough, but the technique seemed a bit of an intimidating venture for me. During my internship we used expensive amounts of butter and then scalding hot sugar...I'm a tad bit clumsy. Who isn't? I needed tools at home. The first time I made it, I surprised myself. It turned out so yummy! The bonus ... i didn't get burnt and it was easier than I thought. Somewhere along the way I soon learned about Ganache. My first impression was, "this tastes like pudding, really rich chocolate pudding!"  Bingo!
 Now Ganache is my favorite way to achieve the chocolate frosting I love! By researching and experimenting I found my chocolate frosting. I use Gretchen Price's  Swiss Butter Cream. I will get back to the Italian butter cream in Warren's book, now that I feel comfortable with the process of making a meringue. But I also love the vintage grandmothers made with butter, powdered sugar and milk, or the Happy Glad Chocolate Frosting I used to pipe roses.

 You can see a Ganache recipes here. at Ehow.  For the fun of it I'm posting a White Ganache that is really good as a cake filler. Just by letting Ganache sit in the fridge. you get truffles. The next venture will be making chocolate candy by starting with the Beans. Imagine the truffles from different beans and using them as gifts or on a cake!  
White Chocolate Ganache
Makes 16.05oz.

1 ¼  c. heavy cream

3 Tblsp. corn syrup
14 oz. white chocolate, broken into pieces, or white chocolate chips( make sure the first ingredients say cocoa butter)
⅓ c. (¾stick) unsalted butter

Pour the heavy cream and corn syrup in a small saucepan then bring just to a boil. Measure the chocolate into a large bowl. Once the cream is getting tiny bubbles around the edge, remove from the heat, and pour it over the chocolate. Let stand without stirring, for 5 min., then stir until smooth.

E how even has a link on how to tint the ganache, uh huh! Can you taste the chocolate rainbow?

My Favorite reads on Baking and Cake decorating
CakeLove How to Bake Cakes from Scratch
Warren Brown gives a thorough demonstration of
how to make Italian Butter Cream also in his you tube video
he gives a very good demonstration

Martha always delivers Beginner to Advanced! I love this book!
Everything, everything, everything a Baker needs to know! So many ways to make whipped cream frosting.

This book is Top of the line and easy to follow how to make Sugar Flowers, stacking, parchment piping bags, fillings and flavoring great find for a decorator! 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Equivalent Measures: The SciFi Side of Baking

Astoria Tree Tops

Hope your Chocolate Monday went well,
Earlier I had Hot Cocoa and Coffee with my hubby, I'm thankful for our times together. Today I want to talk about measuring, baking verses cooking. Cooking has more room for errors and you can work around them and get more good results. When it comes to Baking you will get a science lesson on how chemicals and formulas work together, after those lessons you can branch out with your creative prowess! One of the biggest hurdles is the math, fractions of this and that ingredient. For example, once you know 4 Tablespoons is 1/4 cup...your baking gets easier and you can move more effectively. Some recipes will tell you 3 tsp of something...that's 1 Tbsp. no need to do the same step 3 times, but God forbid you read those teaspoons as tablespoon or don't convert your grams and ounces properly! That's why reading a recipe through a couple of times is always a good practice. Practice being the main ingredient at mastering baking.

Yep, understanding measurements is just plain tricky, when your looking at recipes. One must be able to interpret the language of pounds to ounces or grams to cups. Also what to do with the ingredients is another factor to consider Some recipe will ask for 109 g. of warm eggs, while another ask for 8 oz of cold butter. For yrs. I used the my feeble math skills to convert and navigate recipes. Most of the time, my recipes turned out good, but I've had notable disasters that will be remembered for all time in our families archives! Haha...I can laugh at them now.
Pretty Cool Stuff!
No Storage issue
I have got to get these! :D

The internet has a huge array of online converters, to aid in getting the proper measurements, but a scale will save you so much time and disappointment too!  The goal is consistency, which is reached with exact measurements that work every time. Deviate from the formula you get something else...maybe better, maybe not;) Eye balling can only take us so far and when you want to have the same taste and feeling every time you make frosting, cake and cookies...a scale and proper measuring is key to achieve consistency.

Being able to find the equivalent measurements, making notes and having them at your finger tips is efficiency. Remembering for future recipes is genius! Below I've listed some of the Equivalents that help me get better baking results. Also at the bottom of the the home page I'm posting a converter. Hope it helps...till next time, Bake on! ;)

All through the ages scales have been a daily kitchen tool.  I was so excited the day my oldest son brought mine. I have a digital scale, but's sort of like paying rent, you know what I mean? So I am on the look out for a manual one similar to this pink scale.

Equivalent Measurements
I will add to this as I gather more

1 teaspoon (tsp. or t.)
1 Tablespoon (Tbsp. Or. T.) = 3 t
2 ounces (oz.) = ¼ c. = 4 T
1 ounce (oz.) = 1/8 c.= 2 T
1/2 ounce (oz.) = 1T
4 oz. = ½ c.  = 8 T
6 oz. = ¾ c. = 12 T
8 oz. = 1 c. = 16 T.

1 pint(pt.) = 2 c. = 16 oz.
1 quart(qt) = 2 pt = 4 c. =32 oz.

½ gallon (gal.) = 2 qt. = 4 pt. = 8 c. = 64 oz.
1 gallon =4 qt. =8 pt. =16 c. = 128 oz.

1 pound ( lb or #) = 16 oz. = 2 c.

Measurements by Tbsp.
16 tablespoons = 1 cup
12 tablespoons = 3/4 cup
10 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons = 2/3 cup
8 tablespoons = 1/2 cup
6 tablespoons = 3/8 cup
5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon = 1/3 cup
4 tablespoons = 1/4 cup
2 tablespoons = 1/8 cup
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons = 1/6 cup
1 tablespoon = 1/16 cup
2 cups = 1 pint
2 pints = 1 quart
3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon
48 teaspoons = 1 cup

24 teaspoons = 1/2 cup
12 teaspoons = 1/4 cup
6 teaspoons =1/8 cup

When your looking at Tbsp. and Tsp. be careful of the don't want to add Tablespoons of salt when you were supposed to add teaspoons! I've been there done that, not fun!