4.23.2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

Recently, I've been driving myself crazy trying to figure out how to get more traffic to my blog. Baking is something that I really enjoy for many reasons. One, I like to think of it as a creative outlet. Two, I like cute things. Three, I love seeing my friends' reactions. And then there are other reasons, like I have a really big sweet tooth that I'm pretty sure I inherited from my father.


But I've been trying to get more traffic to my blog and build up my followers because I have this crazy idea that this could just be my job one day. Or I could at least relate it to the job I'm preparing myself for now while I'm in college.

SO. I came up with a plan. I feel like my baking has improved since I started this blog over a year ago, but one thing that hasn't improved is my photography. And I need better photography in order to get my pictures on FoodGawker. I believe I've submitted over 30 pictures to FoodGawker and they've only accepted one of them, my picture for Red Velvet Whoopie Pies. That blog post has so many more views than the other ones, it's ridiculous. That picture was taken at my house, though, at our kitchen table in front of a bay window. I've tried and tried to get the lighting right in my apartment, but that wasn't working. So a couple of days ago, I went home for the weekend and my dad helped me make a lightbox.


Once, I heard my aunt talking about how she made a light box in order to take picture for her Etsy store, but that was a loooong time ago. Most photographers prefer natural light, but there isn't a lot of that in my apartment and I'm usually in class during the day when the lighting is the best. So most of the time, I'm trying to take pictures at night, which really doesn't work out at all. I wish I would have asked my aunt about light boxes sooner because this thing really works.

I decided to finally make a light box after I came across this tutorial on BlogHer. It looked fairly simple and I already had three lamps and a box. All I had to buy was the tracing paper and the daylight light bulbs. The tracing paper can be found at Michael's and the light bulbs at Home Depot. And I recomment cutting a slit at the top/back so you can insert backgrounds for your photos.
For a test run I just grabbed some napkins, a pillowcase, and a carving of my cat that my grandfather made for me years ago. But once I got back to school, I decided I really needed to test it out. Last weekend, my friend Luke made some fudge with his mother's super secret fudge recipe. I decided to make some myself with a recipe very similar to his.

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE

Chocolate Fudge
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 cup  sweet condensed milk
2 cups chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate)
1 cup marshmallow cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Peanut Butter Fudge
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 cup sweet condensed milk
2 cups peanut butter chips
1 cup marshmallow cream
1 tsp vanilla extract


  • Spray/butter/oil a 9x13 inch pan.
  • Combine sugar, butter, and condensed milk in a large saucepan on medium heat. Bring to a boil.
  • Stirring continuously, so the mixture won't burn, boil for 4 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and add chocolate chips. Stir until completely melted and incorporated.
  • Stir in vanilla and marshmallow cream.
  • Immediately pour into 9x13 inch pan.
  • Repeat with a clean saucepan and peanut butter chips.
  • Then pour the peanut butter fudge directly on top of the chocolate layer.
  • Optional- sprinkle with mini chocolate chips for decoration.
  • Let them melt a little on top of the hot fudge and then let it sit in the refridgerator for 30 minutes to an hour.


4.07.2012

Easter Basket Cake (Round 2)

My oven runs 20 degrees hotter than it's supposed to. It's annoying sometimes, but it's not that big of a deal to turn it down 20 degrees each time I bake. Except I think it's getting worse because the hardest part of making this cake was getting it cook all the way through without burning the bottom and sides. I've mentioned it to my landlord before, but he just doesn't understand how important cakes are, you know?

Last year for Easter, I made this Easter Basket cake. That post has been getting a lot of views this month from Google searches, so I decided to make another one, but better. Instead of a cake with KitKats around it that kind of looks like a basket with Easter themed M&Ms poured on top (which was fastastic, by the way), why not make it look more like an actual Easter basket?

Easter Basket Cake


THE CAKE:
I can't tell you how easy it is to make this basket cake. You make a cake, frost it, and stick the KitKats around the outside. Originally, I'd planned on making a white chocolate cake with white chocolate frosting. I don't really know why since I gave up chocolate for Lent. I guess it's a good thing my oven burnt it and didn't cook it all the way through so I had to make another one. I was pressed for time at this point and just used a box funfetti mix and vanilla frosting.




When my mom and I spotted this edible Easter grass at Target, that's when I started getting ideas for this cake. Edible Easter grass? I didn't even know they made such a thing, but it comes in multiple colors and flavors. I went with green apple.


THE FONDONT HANDLE:
If the hardest part of making this cake was dealing with my oven, the second hardest part was making the fondont handle. This was the first time I've worked with fondont. That makes me more professional, right? I like to think so! The issue wasn't really the fondont, it was not knowing what to use to make the handle. I ended up taping some strips of cardboard together (It wasn't real cardboard, it was actually from a gift box from Belk), and then wrapping strips of fondont around it. I stuck toothpicks in each end of the handle and attached it to the cake. The toothpicks were a little short though, and the handle was pretty unstable. So I recommend using something longer than regular toothpicks.


THE CANDY:
Next came the candy. I think it's important to use lightweight candies or packages so they won't weigh down on the cake. I bought a couple of Reese's eggs because Reese's are my favorite. Which doesn't really matter because of the whole giving-up-chocolate thing. I felt like a chocolate bunny, Peeps, and Cadbury eggs were absolutely necessary. Also, empty Easter egg shells are perfect decorations for this cake. I didn't think about using them until I saw a whole row of them at the store on my way to check out and then I couldn't decide which colors to get. 



EATING IT:
When I told my friends I was making this cake, they got really excited and I couldn't wait for them to see it. I was planning on coming home today, so I encouraged them to eat a lot of cake, candy, and edible grass, which they enjoyed more than I thought they would! While we ate cake, we played a board game called Ticket to Ride. Have you heard of this? I never had, but it was left at my apartment for a week before we played it. It's about trains and Germany. It's a lot more fun than it sounds, I promise. You should try it out. I didn't think I was one for board games, but my friends continue to prove me wrong. I'm really lucky to have them. I don't know if I would have made it this far with this blog without all of the supportive and encouraging people in my life. So thanks, guys. :)

Today's Honors Day and we didn't have class, so this morning I headed home for the weekend. Round 2 of the Hunger Games happened (finally) and got to eat Mexican food for dinner. It's been a good weekend so far.

Have a wonderful Easter, everyone!

Easter Basket Cake

4.02.2012

Sunflower Peeps Cake


I made this cake back in February, which should tell you how behind I am on my blog posts. And how out of order they are. But I made this cake for my wonderful friend Hannah. I usually bake all my friends' birthday cakes, and when I asked Hannah what kind of cake she wanted, she showed me a picture of one of these cakes. I'd never seen one before, but it's so cute, I kinda wished I would have thought of it first.


While we were celebrating Hannah's birthday, our friend Luke said to me, "If you could make a cake that matched my personality, what would it be?" But before I could answer, my roommate Lizz said, "That's what she does with your birthday cake!" I thought about it for a moment and said, "Huh. I guess that is what I do!"

Wes had cupcakes with whole Oreos in them. Josh had a cake with a pie in it. Patrick had a cake covered in Reese's cups. Lizz's cake was shaped like an owl. Jacob had a Kahlua cake. I recently made my friend Kyle a Batman cake. And Hannah had this sunflower cake, which I think definitely describes her. Sunhine and happy.


The process for this cake is pretty simple.

1. I made a regular yellow cake with chocolate frosting.
2. Then I placed the peeps around the top. I let the Peeps' tails stick out over the edge a little bit.
3. I filled in the circle with mini chocolate chips.
4. Afterward, I decided that it needed some green leaves, but I'll pipe the leaves before arranging the peeps if I ever make it again.
Picture by Hannah Glenn :)
Funny story. When I put the candles in the cake, I put them between the Peeps, which are pretty close together. So one of them caught on fire. And I panicked. And I thought, "Oh no! I'll blow it out!" So I did. But the problem was that the majority of the candles were lit too. I thought I was blowing out the one Peep on fire, but really I was blowing out all the candles. Then I realized what I did and that everyone was staring at me, which was followed by a bunch of "You blew out Hannah's candles!", which was followed by tons of laughter. Hannah told me it was fine, but I still felt bad, you know? Who wouldn't? So, Hannah, I'm really sorry I accidently blew out your candles. But I hope you enjoyed your cake and your birthday!