Monday, February 25, 2013

Root Beer Cake

Root Beer 21st Birthday!

 Now this cake isn't really root beer flavored, it's chocolate because that's what the birthday girl wanted. Not that I had any reason to complain because I absolutely love chocolate cake. I got some of these ideas on Pinterest here and here, but we put a spin on them and made them our own!

We'll start with the individual cakes. Shelby and David found these cute little glass mugs at the dollar store. All I did was bake 12 cupcakes without baking cups (so make sure you spray the cupcake pan well with baking spray) and let them cool. If you find cups that are oven safe you could definitely bake the cake directly in the cup but I didn't know if these were and didn't want to take the chance of a huge mess.. And really these cups could have fit two cupcakes on top of each other so I ended up just breaking the cupcakes into little pieces to fluff them up a bit.

You can see that I crumbled some extra cake under the cupcake but they ended up being different colors and I didn't like the look so I just crumbed the cupcake up too.
Then my mom (thank goodness for her) made a double batch of Wilton Butter Cream Frosting and a double batch of Wilton Chocolate Butter Cream frosting. You can get the Butter Cream recipe here. And the Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting here. We then used this swirling method:

You'll need 3 piping bags, 1 with the tip you'll be using (we used a very large star tip) and the other two without a tip. Put chocolate frosting in one bag and the white frosting in the other being careful not to fill them up to much because you will then put both of the frosting filled bags into the bag with the tip. It took three of us at a time to pipe this much frosting because we were in a hurry and filled the bags up as much as we could! I wouldn't do that again. (Thanks Shelby, my husband and my mom). It was a TON of frosting but it sure did look cute. To top it off we just cut the end off of a regular straw and stuck it in whichever way we thought looked cute.

 For the birthday girl's cake, her husband David engraved the giant mug they also got at the dollar store. For the cake inside I baked what was left from the cupcakes I made and put it in a 8x8 baking dish that I sprayed and lined with parchment paper. After it was cooled I turned the cake out and cut out circle pieces to fit inside the giant mug.

 After the cake was in all I had to do was pipe in frosting... a LOT of frosting... and of course the bottle pouring in.. The bottle was really heavy so we ended up putting a dowel the length of the bottle and all the way down to the bottom of the mug. We used a Pepperidge Farm Pirouette Rolled Wafer to cover the dowel and swirled the frosting around it and down the sides like root beer foam!

So all of these shot glasses are full of different brands of root beer. NINE different kinds of root beer... David had this idea and set all of this up for us to try and guess which root beer was which brand and also which root beer was our favorite just from trying it. Let me tell you.... it was hard! I love root beer but after the first three they all tasted the same. I had to eat a breadstick to try and cleanse my pallet. I guessed terribly. I only got one right, but at least I got my favorite one right which is A&W. My husband and my brother got five out of nine so I'd say that's pretty good. HAPPY BIRTHDAY LITTLE SIS!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Super Soft Sugar Cookies

I LOVE these sugar cookies, they're so soft and not super sweet so you can top them with whatever sugary goodness you'd like. Pairing it with my Cream Cheese Frosting makes them perfect... in my opinion at least. I ate three for breakfast and had to stop myself from eating them all. I can't keep myself from sweets.

3 Cups Flour
1 Cup Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
3 tsp Baking Powder
1 Cup Shortening
3/4 Cup Milk
1 tsp Vanilla
1 Egg

Combine dry ingredients and then cut in shortening like a pie crust. Whisk egg into vanilla and milk. Stir into dry ingredients until combined. The dough will be sticky and very soft so use a little dough at a time and plenty of flour on your surface, hands and rolling pin.

*Tip* I like to split my dough in half, wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the freezer for a little while, or even a few days or a week or two if I don't want to use all the dough at once or just to have on hand. If you do freeze it pull it out when you're ready to use it and let it sit for just a couple minutes. It won't freeze solid but it helps with the stickiness a little.*

Roll out your dough a little at a time, use whatever cookie cutter shape you like. I line my baking sheets with parchment paper so I don't have to worry about them sticking to the pan. Make sure you don't put the cookies too close together because they will rise and expand some.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 8-12 minutes depending on the size you make them or until they are just barely golden on the edges. Let them set on the pan for a few minutes otherwise they could fall apart when you move them to a cooling rack. Like I said, they're very soft cookies. Allow them to cool completely on the cooling rack and then ice them cute or just plain white with sprinkles or no sprinkles..

Cream Cheese Frosting:
4 oz. Cream Cheese, room temperature
1/4 Cup Butter, room temperature
3 Cups Powdered Sugar
1-2 tsp Vanilla
1 T Milk

Combine until smooth. Keep refrigerated.  You can add color if you'd like.

The heart on top was made with melting chocolates. I just melted the chocolate in the microwave for 1 minute, then put it inside a condiment bottle and drew little heart designs on parchment paper. Let them set and when they were ready just put them on the cookie wherever they looked cute. It's nice that they don't really harden, it's a soft chocolate so it's nothing like the crunch you get with a sprinkle... so much better. But the kids love the sprinkles so we had to have some of those too..