Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ella's First Birthday Elephant Cookies

For Ella's first birthday, I was able to make these cute little elephant cookies.
Her family affectionately calls her Ella-phant, thus the pink elephant cookies with the number one on them.
The child is extremely cute with the sweetest smile. She's also the youngest of four, so she gets lot's of love from all of her siblings and aunts and uncles- lot's of love, and nicknames like Ella-phant. 

They are shortbreads iced with royal icing. Click here for my shortbread cookie recipe.

Derby Pie

I lived in Kentucky for just about 3 years. I went to school at a small Christian university just outside of Lexington. While living there I learned a lot about the people and their culture, and next to UK basketball, the Kentucky Derby is a pretty big deal. It's almost like a mini-holiday. Personally, I know how much of a sport horse racing is. My grandfather was a very accomplished pediatrician and race horses were his hobby. He owned several horses and named one after each of his grandkids. I remember attending races watching mine, my brother's, and my cousin's horses- Little Marikate Danny's-a-Honey, & Sun Shines on Kyle.

Why do race horses have such funny names? Those ones are actually quite "normal".

Anyhow, I remember going to those races. I remember hating having to dress up to sit at a noisy race track. I remember visiting the farms his horses were boarded at. I remember loving that part. I remember hearing stories of how my grandpa boarded horses at his barn before racing at the Derby. In all of my exposure as a child to the world of horse racing, I never heard of Derby Pie.

Of all places to eat Derby Pie, I was with my fellow education classmates getting ready to take a final exam for the Human Growth and Development course. The professor, Prof. Crook, had brought us all lunch, and for dessert: Derby Pie. Everyone who had eaten it before (Prof. Crook always makes it for his students before a final exam) was raving about it. Now I rave about it.

I had asked Prof. Crook for his recipe many times. I even brought him a recipe card to a class once to help him remember. It wound up taking him about 1 year to get it to me. It was a pleasant surprise when I finally got it though. My husband and I received his family's yearly newsletter around the holidays with a hand written note on the bottom of the page that read:
"The Derby Pie recipe is on the back. =) Finally."

Basic Pie Crust
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup all vegetable shortening
• 1/4 cup very cold water
• 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Prof. Crook's Derby Pie
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1 stick butter, room temperature
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
• 1/2 cup chopped pecans
• 1/3 cup shredded coconut
• 1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. To prepare the pie crust combine the flour, shortening, water, and sugar in a mixing bowl and combine well using a pastry blender
2. Once the dough forms to a ball, turn out onto plastic wrap. Form into a disc, wrap tightly, and refrigerate 15-30 minutes. 
3. Meanwhile, prepare the pie filling by creaming the butter and sugar. 
 4. Add the pecans.
5. And add the coconut.

6. Set this mixture aside and begin to form the pie shell. Turn out the refrigerated pie dough onto a floured surface. 
7. Roll out the dough to an 11 inch circle. 
8. Transfer the crust to an ungreased pie dish. The easiest way to do this is to roll the crust over the rolling pin, and then roll it back out over the pie dish. 
 9. Crimp the edges with your fingers.
10. Fill the bottom of the unbaked pie shell with chocolate chips.
This would be my generous 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.
11. Pour the the butter and sugar mixture over the chocolate chips and bake in a 350 degree oven for 55 minutes. Let cool before serving.
Derby pie before baking...

Derby Pie after baking.
The top crust is crisp and flaky. Just below it's gooey and chocolatey.

This won't last long!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Ladies Luncheon

I had the wonderful opportunity of making desserts for a ladies luncheon at church this weekend. The spread was pretty simple, but it was definitely the most cupcakes I've baked at once and the most chocolates I've ever made. The desserts were a huge hit. They looked beautiful and they tasted amazing.

Here is what I made.

Mini Dark Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Buttercream
Min Milk Chocolate  Cupcake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream

Salted Caramel Cups

Peanut Butter Cups

Chocolate Mousse Cups

Mint and Hazelnut Chocolates

Cake Truffles Made with White Cake and Vanilla Buttercream and then dipped in White Chocolate

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Addison's 4th Birthday Cakes

For this little lady's fourth birthday she celebrated with two parites: one with her friends and one with her family. I had the wonderful opportunity of making both of her birthday cakes. Better yet, the colors were pink and green, one of my favorite combinations, and the parties were strawberry themed. 

Birthday party with friends cake.

Birthday party with family cake.
The first cake was a teeny cake (for a tiered cake of course) because there were only a few party guests. The bottom tier was a 6 inch 3 layer cake, while the top tier was only a 4 inch 3 layer cake. I used white cake and filled the layers with white chocolate mousse and fresh sliced strawberries. After stacking the tiers and frosting them up with vanilla buttercream, I piped all of the swirls and stripes finishing it off with mini candy strawberries I made out of color flow icing. The topper was 3 hand dipped white chocolate covered strawberries rolled in pink sanding sugars. The end result was perfect for a small party.

Addison's second birthday cake for her family party was similar to the first, but still different. I wanted her to be surprised again. I didn't want her to see this cake I had spent hours working on only to think, "It's the same as last time." She probably wouldn't have cared much because cake is cake, but to me it had to be special.

I used the pink and green again, but this time the cake was much bolder in color. I loved it. I was also able to use the same color flow icing strawberries I made for the first cake, and they still had matched well.

One obvious change besides the color was the piping. I did paisley on the bottom tier this time around. It's so girly and cute. (Just like Miss Addison.) I love the way it turned out on this cake. 

This cake was slightly larger with a 8 inch 4 layer bottom tier and a 6 inch 4 layer top tier. The cake was alternating layers of vanilla and milk chocolate cakes filled with vanilla buttercream.

Classic. Simple. Delicious. Appeals to most everyone. 

I kept the topper the same just because it's cute and fits perfectly with the theme. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Princess Tiara Cookies

I had the opportunity to make cookies for a baby shower for a friend's friend. The couple was expecting their first baby, a sweet little girl named Kimora. My friend planning the shower, Nicole, throws the most beautiful, thoughtful, and well coordinated parties of anyone I know. This shower was appropriately themed as a princess shower for new little one, so tiara shortbread cookies were the perfect choice.

I hand decorated each cookie with color flow icing, royal icing, and a variety of sanding sugars and sprinkles. After the color flow had dried, and before adding the piping details, I brushed each cookie with luster dust to add shimmer. I was inspired to do all of the piping by these cookies I came across on the internet doing a google search. I loved the intricacy. The pearlized sprinkles make these cookies fit for a princess.

"K" is for Kimora.