Support Philabundance! Cupcake Smash ~ April 26, 2014

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I’m SO excited for Cupcake Smash this year! It’s going to be an amazing event, as always. It’s the 4th year that Cupcake Smash is being held, and it’s for such a wonderful cause. I’m a huge supporter of Philabundance. They do such wonderful things for the community. I’ve gone to their location to volunteer with my coworkers, and it was such a rewarding experience. So if I can support them AND eat cupcakes at the same time that is definitely a win/win!

What?

Philabundance’s Cupcake Smash challenges both professional and amateur bakers to create wild, ambitious and flavorful cupcakes.

When?

Saturday April 26th, 2014  ~  2pm – 5pm

Where?

The Piazza at Schmidts
1050 N. Hancock St.
Philadelphia, PA 19123
*Rain or shine!*

Cost?

Click here to purchase tickets.
Your ticket includes entry into the event, mini cupcake samples created by our professional and amateur bakers, complimentary cocktails* and more.

And you will see me there! I’m a Judge, and I couldn’t be more excited about it! I can’t wait to see all of the talented people competing this year! The weather should be gorgeous, so buy a ticket and come on out for some cupcakes!

The Baker’s Jar

BakersJarSmallWe all know that I. love. cake. It’s just a known fact. So when I heard that Avery Goldman was opening up a shop called The Baker’s Jar, I knew that I’d have to stop by and try out a few flavors. I love to support local businesses and see them thrive. There are way too many chain stores that are coming into the city and trying to take over.  The shop just opened its doors in early 2014. It’s a nice, bright little shop in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood in Philadelphia.

The Baker’s Jar is located at 625 S16th St. Philadelphia, PA (16th & Bainbridge).

I looked at the web site before going, and I saw a few flavors that I wanted to try.  I LOVE Birthday Cake so I knew that I had to get the Happy Birthday Cake jar. It’s a vanilla cake filled with sprinkles and topped with vanilla frosting.

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However, I was a bit disappointed that they don’t sell the Happy Birthday Cake in the standard-sized jar, even though it’s pictured on the web site in a standard-sized jar.  It’s only available in the mini-sized jar. She said this was because that’s a popular kid’s flavor and she wanted something small for them. If you ask me, I think it should be offered in both the mini-sized and standard-sized jar. Why not make both the kids AND the adults happy?  I know, I know. You’re probably saying out loud “But Jen, it’s really not that big of a deal!” And it’s not. But I’m just sharing my opinion as I usually do here on my blog. Especially when it has to do with CAKE!

Mud CupAs we know, Mr. Curly Fry is a chocolate guy. He loves all chocolate. So while regular white cake and vanilla frosting is one of my favorite cake flavors, his is chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. I was bummed that there wasn’t a regular chocolate cake with chocolate frosting jar. There’s the Ooey Gooey Chocolate Cake, but it also has caramel in it and he’s not really a caramel fan. So that eliminates that flavor. There was a Brownie Jar, but it was Dulce de Leche Brownie, so that eliminates that one for him as well. She has a Chocolate Bread Pudding, but we’re not bread pudding fans. So all that really left for him was the Mud Cup.  I wasn’t too jazzed about this flavor, which is Chocolate Pudding mixed with Chocolate Cake…with a worm or two in there. I’m just hoping that he likes it.

 

 

I love Carrot Cake, so I picked up the Ruby’s Carrot Cake jar. It’s a moist carrot cake spiced just right and topped with cream cheese frosting and a pecan.  Mr. Curly Fry isn’t into Carrot Cake so I get to have this whole standard-sized jar all to myself!

Carrot Cake Jar

Last but not least, I picked up the Lemon Pie Jar. This is the perfect balance of tart and sweet topped with a blueberry compote. I love lemon flavored things so I hope this is good!

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I was hoping to try the Apple Crumb Jar and Mom’s Banana Cake, but they weren’t available.

I think this The Baker’s Jar is a really cool concept, but I just wish that there was more variety. There are so many more flavors that can be offered. The possibilities are endless. I think adding more flavors would do nothing but good things for this shop.

Stay tuned later this week to see what we thought of these little jars of goodness!

Vanilla Drops

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I can’t believe that it’s already December. I feel like as I get older I have a harder time getting into the holiday spirit. And this year isn’t any different. I just can’t get into it. I don’t even want any gifts – there’s nothing that I want; there’s nothing that I need. I tried baking some cookies to see if it helps to get into the holiday spirit, but it just didn’t. So I can’t share that with you, but I can share some awesome cookies! And I’ll do just that.

We’ve been making this recipe for years in my family, and I don’t recall which cookbook it came from. I did not come up with the recipe. I just know that these cookies are super simple to make, and they always taste great. I love to use Penzey’s Double Strength Vanilla for a wonderful vanilla flavor. Make sure you use the real deal – not that imitation stuff. I think it really makes a difference.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cream Butter and Sugar.

Add egg and vanilla and blend well.

Stir together the flour and salt. Add to the creamed mixture and blend well.

Drop the dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto the [greased] cookie sheet, leaving 2 inches between each drop.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. The cookies should be slightly browned around the edges. The centers may appear to be a bit undercooked, but they will firm up as they cool.

Cool slightly on the cookie sheet and then transfer to wire racks to finish cooling.

MY NOTE: The cookies take 8 minutes in my oven. If I leave them in for 10 minutes they are crunchier, which I don’t like. I love a nice chewy cookie, which is how these should be.

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Mini Honey Crisp Apple Pies {Fall Favorite}

Mini Honey Crisp Apple Crumb Pies

I love fall. Here in Philly we had a taste of fall for about a week or so and then it got warm again! What gives? We had a cold front come through and the weather should be more seasonal now, which I’m happy about. One thing I love about fall: Apples! My favorite kind of apple? Honey Crisp! They are amazing and I’ve been a fan ever since I tasted one years and years ago.

There’s a Farmer’s Market right outside of my apartment building every Saturday and they have the BEST Honey Crisp Apple Sauce. It’s so good. We go through jars and jars of it.

I wanted to take a break from making Cupcakes, so I decided to make some Mini Honey Crisp Apple Crumb Pies. They were super easy and delicious! I will say that they are definitely better the same day that you make them. They are best served warm out of the oven.

These are the Nonstick Mini Round Tart Pans that I used.

INGREDIENTS

For the Apples:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 honey crisp apples chopped into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon apple pie spice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of apple cider

For the Topping:

  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (you can use more or less)

Puff Pastry Dough

INSTRUCTIONS

Toss the chopped up apples in a bowl with the flour and apple pie spice.

Melt butter in a small sauce pan on medium low heat. Add the apples and brown sugar and let the apples cook down for about 10 minutes or so. You don’t want them to be too soft, you want them to have a little bite to them.

Bump the heat up to medium and add in two tablespoons of apple cider. You don’t want it to be a soupy mess – you want there to be just enough so that it’s a bit saucy. Once it thickens a bit, remove from the heat and set aside.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Lay your (thawed) Puff Pastry Dough on a cutting board. You want to cut out a circle a little larger than your Mini Tart Pan. Take the circle of dough and push it into your mini tart pans. Cut off the excess dough at the top.

Spoon some of your Apples into the mini tart pan.

Honey Crisp Apple Crumb Pie
You can see how much filling I added. Don’t put too much because you still have a topping to throw on top!

To make the topping:

Mix the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Using a pastry cutter or a fork, cut the butter into the flour/brown sugar/cinnamon mixture. Do this until it’s nice and crumbly! You don’t want big chunks of butter.

Top each Mini Apple Pie with the crumb topping and push down lightly to make sure it gets down into all of the little holes.

Bake for about 15 minutes and enjoy!

Yield: 4 Mini Tarts.

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I had mine with some amazing Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream. A perfect fall treat!

Vanilla Cupcakes with Sugar Cookie Dough Buttercream

 

SugarCookieDoughSoloSo as you can probably tell, I’m a cupcake kick. Oh wait, this is nothing new. Last weekend’s flavor was the B-52 from Butch Bakery. It was booze-related and it was out of this world. This weekend’s flavor is cookie inspired. It’s a Vanilla Cupcake with Sugar Cookie Dough Buttercream. Now we all know that I’m a huge fan of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Buttercream. That’s no secret. One of my favorite desserts to take to a party is the Chocolate Chip Cookie Bites with Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Buttercream. Wow, that’s a mouth full, isn’t it? So anyway, I was thinking about how much I love the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Buttercream Frosting and I realized I’ve never seen Sugar Cookie Dough Buttercream. So I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to have some fun in the kitchen and create a fun flavor!

For the Cupcake I use the same recipe as I did for the B-52. Why? Because it’s amazing. It’s definitely my new go-to cupcake recipe. If you haven’t tried it yet, please do. It’s so soft and fluffy! I’ll definitely be playing around with this recipe in the future and I’ll definitely be coming up with some fun new flavors. But enough about that, back to this Sugar Cookie Dough Buttercream. Is this for real? Because it’s like a little taste of heaven every time I take a bite. It’s ridiculous.

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Ingredients 

{Yellow Cupcake} Cupcake recipe from The Butch Bakery Cookbook

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, broken into a small bowl
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup well-shaken buttermilk

{Sugar Cookie Dough Buttercream}

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. milk (I used 2 tbsp half & half – both work well)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Plan of Attack

{Make the Cupcakes}

Place a baking rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two muffin pans with liners and set aside.

Place a strainer over a medium-size mixing bowl and sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In another medium-size mixing bowl, with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Scrap down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs and vanilla, beating until well combined. Add the flour mixture and the buttermilk, beating on low speed, mixing just until all of the dry ingredients are completely incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Fill each prepared muffin cup  about 3/4 full. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until the tops are just firm to the touch and a tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Leave the cupcakes in the pan on a rack to cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer the cupcakes to the wire rack to cool completely before frosting, about 1 hour.

{Make the Sugar Cookie Buttercream}

Beat together the butter and  sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until creamy. Mix in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Beat in the flour and salt. Mix in the milk and vanilla extract until smooth and well blended.

Bite

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So the next time you’re going to make Cupcakes, make these. They are definitely delicious and are so fun to take to a party or get together. Or if you’re like me, just make them at home and give them away so that you don’t eat them all!