Chocolate Maraschino Cherry Cupcakes with White Chocolate Roses

Chocolate Maraschino Cherry Cupcakes with White Chocolate Roses

Chocolate Maraschino Cherry Cupcakes with White Chocolate Roses

I love the things that can be done with fondant, but although nobody seems to acknowledge it, the stuff doesn’t really taste very good.  Years ago I saw the recipe for white chocolate (which I adore) plastic but had forgotten about it until I saw it again recently and thought I’d give it a try.  It still isn’t quite as good as plain white chocolate but it is much better than fondant.  After I did these, I got a suggestion that I tried on a new batch which made them even better.  Being artistically challenged, I was having trouble with the petals drooping unless I kept them pretty thick (as you can see in the pictures the cupcakes are thicker and the how-to pictures are thinner) and she recommended keeping a cup of ice water handy and dipping them in.  That worked much better and faster than trying to refrigerate them after each step since my hot little hands were making the chocolate too soft.  The quick dip in the ice water helped them to keep their shape.  I loved these cupcake papers and with the roses, they looked quite special for the birthday girls.
For the cupcakes I used the recipe Magnolia’s Chocolate Cupcakes, from More From Magnolia but for each cupcake I put two maraschino cherries in the middle of the batter and added a little of the maraschino cherry juice to a swiss buttercream.  I know the recipe is on a wedding site but the recipe is great and even has a video to go with it.  For the last step, I added about 1/4 cup of the maraschino cherry juice to give it a touch of flavor and a nice pink color.
Printable Version for Making White Chocolate Roses
Now for the roses:
First a day ahead, make the white chocolate plastic which is basically white chocolate and corn syrup melted together.  When you’re ready to begin you’ll need plastic wrap, small pastry roller or rolling-pin (you can use your fingers if you don’t have one but this works faster) and a medium to large size bowl filled with ice water.  If you want to color the white chocolate, you can knead in some food coloring (paste works best) or as I did, use a food color spray and some cake glitter after they are assembled.  Keep the white chocolate plastic wrapped in plastic except the portion you are using or it will dry out.
Cover a cutting board or table with a large piece of plastic wrap and have another piece the same size set aside.  For each rose, pull off a very small piece of the chocolate and roll it into a cone shape.  Roll about twenty very small  (between 1/4 and 1/2 inch at the most) balls making some really small, some just a little larger and some a little larger placing them about 2 inches apart on the plastic.   You don’t have to be precise, flowers are never exact anyway and they will look more natural that way (in case you can’t tell, as well as being artistically challenged I’m not a perfectionist but if it suits you, go for it and make them all consistent – I’m hoping to improve both speed and accuracy with practice).   You can make more or less petals (for buds) and larger or smaller cones and petals for different size roses.

Roll into balls

The next step is to cover them with another layer of plastic wrap then flatten the balls (not the cone) using the pastry roller.  I gave them a little dent in the middle, then pushed out each side.  Again it’s up to you how perfect you want your petals to be.  I did find that using the ice water later allowed me to make them much thinner which I thought made them more realistic although the thick ones did hold up a little better. Refrigerate them while making the next batch.

Making White Chocolate Roses

Making White Chocolate Roses

After the petals and cones have firmed up, take the cone and starting at the top gently wrap a petal around it.  Add petals overlapping each one until you have the size and shape you want.  If the petals start to droop dip them into the ice water for a second or two and they will firm up.  When you’ve finished again place them in the refrigerator so they will keep their shape.

Making white Chocolate plastic roses

White Chocolate Plastic Rose put together

The next step (if you didn’t already color the white chocolate) is to either spray or use a brush to paint color on.  I used the spray and when that was dry, a little cake glitter.

White Chocolate rose finished

Here’s how it looked.  I also made a few red ones.  The spray did tend to make some “dots” but I kind of liked it.  If you don’t just spray a little lighter or use a paintbrush if you want to just do the tips of the petals.  I plan on trying lots of different flowers, it was quite fun and they came out pretty well considering my lack of talent.

Red White Chocolate Roses

Here’s some other pictures.

Chocolate Maraschino Cupcakes with White Chocolate Roses

Chocolate Maraschino Cherry Cupcakes with White Chocolate Roses

Chocolate Maraschino Cherry Cupcakes with White Chocolate Roses

Easter Egg Cake Balls

Easter Egg Cake Balls

Easter Egg Cake Balls

This is one of my older, but favorites so I’m reposting one of my favorites for Easter.  These were a big hit and I’m sure I’ll be making them again this year!
Although I don’t quite get it as I guess I’m just not that much of a cake fan, cake balls are very popular around here and I do have to admit these are pretty cute.  I mentioned to college Daughter that I was going to make some and her exact words were “send them here, send them all here” and I’ve made them for several friends, who all seem to love them.  I did have some cheesecake pops at a party recently and those are going to be my next batch as they were amazing.
The basic idea is simple, mush up a cake and icing, roll it and dip in chocolate.  The best site for ideas is Bakerella, she even has a cookbook out just for them.  Previously I made some simple chocolate ones for a birthday party following Bakerella’s instructions.  This time I used a cherry chip cake mix (I usually make my cakes from scratch, but Daughter had left this box of mix here from her last visit so I decided to use it) and some cream cheese icing I had leftover from a birthday cake.

Ingredients

Ingredients:
Cherry Chip Cake mix with eggs and oil (or homemade cake)
1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries (added to the cake batter for a little extra flavor)
2 cups cream cheese icing (homemade or purchased)
Dipping chocolate white and dark (I prefer Ghirardelli’s candy coating because I think it has the best quality but it’s not always easy to find.  Sam’s Club carries it around the holidays so I stock up but you can also use chocolate melts which you can even get pre-colored)

Cake

First bake the cake and cool completely.

Crumbled Cake

The crumble the cake in a large bowl.

Adding the icing

Add the icing.

Cake and icing mixed up

Smash it together and form into a thick disk – a spatula works but hands work better.  Wrap in plastic and put in the refrigerator for about an hour to stiffen up.

Best spoon for making the balls
Making the eggs

This is a great spoon for making the balls or cookies.  It is a hard plastic with a rubber bottom so the portions are even and you can easily push the dough out.  It comes in several sizes and I’ve seen it at most kitchen stores, the grocery store and even at the dollar store.  For this, I used the Tablespoon size, rolling them into egg shapes and placing them on a cookie sheet.

Eggs rolled

As you can probably tell, I’m not into perfection, I just don’t have time or the patience.  I admire those who do and if you are one of them, you can make them really great.  Some of my eggs aren’t shaped exactly right but they still look pretty egg like and they don’t last long anyway.

Wrap and freeze

Next wrap and place them in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.

Stand
Dipping
Tapping off the excess
Hardening

I have tried two methods of dipping, using a toothpick and putting them on a styrofoam floral stand that I got from the dollar store and just using a fork and putting them on waxed paper.  I find that the fork works better for me but they each have good and bad parts.  In order to get them to stay on the toothpick, I had to freeze them, which then caused the chocolate to crack as it hardened but they seemed to have the best shape if you can keep them on the toothpick.  Any little drips on the bottom can be trimmed with a sharp paring knife.

Fork Dipping

I switched to “warmer” balls on the fork letting them harden on a piece of waxed paper, which seemed to solve the falling off/cracking problem and seemed to be faster.  It sometimes leaves a bit of a flat base, but that is easily trimmed with a sharp paring knife or you can just leave it and serve them with that side down.  I used both white and dark chocolate, adding gel food color to the white to make a couple different colors.  Make sure you keep the chocolate warm, if it starts to thicken heat for a few seconds in the microwave to keep it easier to dip.  When it gets thick it also makes them more likely to crack (I’ve learned these things from the error part of trial and error).  The good news is that I learned the decorating can cover up the cracks pretty well!

Decorating

Here they are after the first round of decorating. Note there are cracks and not so perfect spots, but those will be fixed soon!  I used the spray on color on some of the white ones which made a sort of marbled effect that I liked.   I tried someone’s suggestion for painting corn syrup on then putting sprinkles, but I just didn’t like the way it looked and am not that much of a sprinkle fan anyway so I ended up using the colored white chocolate instead.  Plus, that worked perfectly to fill in any cracks.  I always use a small plastic squeeze bottle when decorating with chocolate, you can get them from Wilton at the craft store or pretty much anywhere and they are very inexpensive.  Just melt the chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave.  Depending on how much you do at a time it can take from 1-2 minutes.  I start with 1 minute, then stir and do 15 second increments until it is melted, then pour it into the squeeze bottle.

Looking Better

Again, those of you who are more creative and have more patience could do a much better decorating job.

Molding and trimming the chocolate baskets

I also used a chocolate mold (from Wilton that I got at Wal-Mart) to make some little baskets.  You just melt the chocolate, put it into the bottom of the mold then put the top.  Using the same sharp paring knife I trimmed off any excess before I unmolded them as sometimes it was hard to judge just how much chocolate to put into the mold – the directions on the package just say fill “half full” but there are no markings so you just have to get a feel for it.

Eggs in Baskets

Here are a couple in the baskets.

Easter Egg Cake Balls

Easter Egg Cake Balls

Easter Egg Cake Balls

Since I’ve been quite busy lately, I’m taking advantage of timing and reposting one of my favorites for Easter.  These were a big hit and I’m sure I’ll be making them again this year!
Although I don’t quite get it as I guess I’m just not that much of a cake fan, cake balls are very popular around here and I do have to admit these are pretty cute.  I mentioned to college Daughter that I was going to make some and her exact words were “send them here, send them all here” and I’ve made them for several friends, who all seem to love them.  I did have some cheesecake pops at a party recently and those are going to be my next batch as they were amazing.
The basic idea is simple, mush up a cake and icing, roll it and dip in chocolate.  The best site for ideas is Bakerella, she even has a cookbook out just for them.  Previously I made some simple chocolate ones for a birthday party following Bakerella’s instructions.  This time I used a cherry chip cake mix (I usually make my cakes from scratch, but Daughter had left this box of mix here from her last visit so I decided to use it) and some cream cheese icing I had leftover from a birthday cake.

Ingredients

Ingredients:
Cherry Chip Cake mix with eggs and oil (or homemade cake)
1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries (added to the cake batter for a little extra flavor)
2 cups cream cheese icing (homemade or purchased)
Dipping chocolate white and dark (I prefer Ghirardelli’s candy coating because I think it has the best quality but it’s not always easy to find.  Sam’s Club carries it around the holidays so I stock up but you can also use chocolate melts which you can even get pre-colored)

Cake

First bake the cake and cool completely.

Crumbled Cake

The crumble the cake in a large bowl.

Adding the icing

Add the icing.

Cake and icing mixed up

Smash it together and form into a thick disk – a spatula works but hands work better.  Wrap in plastic and put in the refrigerator for about an hour to stiffen up.

Best spoon for making the balls
Making the eggs

This is a great spoon for making the balls or cookies.  It is a hard plastic with a rubber bottom so the portions are even and you can easily push the dough out.  It comes in several sizes and I’ve seen it at most kitchen stores, the grocery store and even at the dollar store.  For this, I used the Tablespoon size, rolling them into egg shapes and placing them on a cookie sheet.

Eggs rolled

As you can probably tell, I’m not into perfection, I just don’t have time or the patience.  I admire those who do and if you are one of them, you can make them really great.  Some of my eggs aren’t shaped exactly right but they still look pretty egg like and they don’t last long anyway.

Wrap and freeze

Next wrap and place them in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.

Stand
Dipping
Tapping off the excess
Hardening

I have tried two methods of dipping, using a toothpick and putting them on a styrofoam floral stand that I got from the dollar store and just using a fork and putting them on waxed paper.  I find that the fork works better for me but they each have good and bad parts.  In order to get them to stay on the toothpick, I had to freeze them, which then caused the chocolate to crack as it hardened but they seemed to have the best shape if you can keep them on the toothpick.  Any little drips on the bottom can be trimmed with a sharp paring knife.

Fork Dipping

I switched to “warmer” balls on the fork letting them harden on a piece of waxed paper, which seemed to solve the falling off/cracking problem and seemed to be faster.  It sometimes leaves a bit of a flat base, but that is easily trimmed with a sharp paring knife or you can just leave it and serve them with that side down.  I used both white and dark chocolate, adding gel food color to the white to make a couple different colors.  Make sure you keep the chocolate warm, if it starts to thicken heat for a few seconds in the microwave to keep it easier to dip.  When it gets thick it also makes them more likely to crack (I’ve learned these things from the error part of trial and error).  The good news is that I learned the decorating can cover up the cracks pretty well!

Decorating

Here they are after the first round of decorating. Note there are cracks and not so perfect spots, but those will be fixed soon!  I used the spray on color on some of the white ones which made a sort of marbled effect that I liked.   I tried someone’s suggestion for painting corn syrup on then putting sprinkles, but I just didn’t like the way it looked and am not that much of a sprinkle fan anyway so I ended up using the colored white chocolate instead.  Plus, that worked perfectly to fill in any cracks.  I always use a small plastic squeeze bottle when decorating with chocolate, you can get them from Wilton at the craft store or pretty much anywhere and they are very inexpensive.  Just melt the chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave.  Depending on how much you do at a time it can take from 1-2 minutes.  I start with 1 minute, then stir and do 15 second increments until it is melted, then pour it into the squeeze bottle.

Looking Better

Again, those of you who are more creative and have more patience could do a much better decorating job.

Molding and trimming the chocolate baskets

I also used a chocolate mold (from Wilton that I got at Wal-Mart) to make some little baskets.  You just melt the chocolate, put it into the bottom of the mold then put the top.  Using the same sharp paring knife I trimmed off any excess before I unmolded them as sometimes it was hard to judge just how much chocolate to put into the mold – the directions on the package just say fill “half full” but there are no markings so you just have to get a feel for it.

Eggs in Baskets

Here are a couple in the baskets.

Cranberry Cookie Bars:  what to do with that leftover cranberry sauce

Cranberry Cookie Bars: what to do with that leftover cranberry sauce

Cranberry Cookie Bars

I always have left over cranberry sauce and never know what to do with it.  Due to my preference for sweets and distinct lack of interest in turkey (or any other kind) of sandwiches that only use a teaspoon or two at a time anyway, it is always a challenge to use up.  I’ve finally found something that tastes great and uses a lot at once – cookies!
These aren’t really anything original, mostly replacing the traditional raspberry jam with the cranberry sauce in a very simple cookie crumble dough, but it was a nice combination and looks very festive.
Printable Recipe for Cranberry Cookie Bars
Ingredients:
3 cups flour
3 cups powdered sugar
3 cups ground toasted pecans or walnuts
1 1/2 cups butter
1/12 teaspoons cinnamon
3 cups cranberry sauce
Procedure:
Heat the oven to 375 degrees.  In a 9 x 13 pan, place a piece of foil across the bottom and spray with vegetable spray. (I do have better pans but of course I like to use the ugly one – oh well didn’t really notice until I saw the picture.)

Make a foil lifter

In a large bowl stir all the ingredients except cranberry sauce together mixing well. Using your fingers, make sure that there are “lumps” and pieces to give it some texture.

Mix

Pour all but 2 cups of the dough into the pan and flatten it out using the heel of your hand or a cup. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the crust is golden brown.

Press dough in the pan

Cover with the cranberry sauce.

Add the filling

Crumble the remaining dough on top, keeping various sized chunks and leaving some open space.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned.

Crumble the dough on top

Cool then remove from the pan using the foil handles and cut into pieces. Sprinkle with a little powdered sugar and serve.

Cranberry Cookie Bars

Enjoy!

Chocolate Dipped Pecan and Cherry Cookies

Chocolate Dipped Pecan and Cherry Cookies

Chocolate Dipped Pecan and Cherry Cookies

These are wonderful holiday cookies and is one of five recipes chosen to be published in the Las Vegas Review Journal .  Starting with a basic sugar cookie dough I added two of my favorites, pecans and cherries and of course for the rest of the family they had to have chocolate.  I’ll be posting more variations soon!
Printable Version
Chocolate Dipped Pecan and Cherry Cookies
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter softened
3 tsp almond extract
1 egg
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 cup toasted chopped pecans
3/4 cup chopped dried cherries
1 cup melted chocolate
1 cup melted white chocolate
1. Mix powdered sugar, butter, almond extract and egg in large bowl.  Stir in remaining ingredients except chocolate.  Dough will be thick, but should not be dry.
2. Divide dough in half. Roll each half into a log about 3 inches in diameter and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Heat oven to 375ºF.
4. Remove rolls from refrigerator and slice into 1/2 inch rounds.
5. Place on ungreased cookie sheets 2 inches apart.
6. Bake 10-15 minutes or until edges are light brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack.
7. Microwave chocolate until melted starting with 30 seconds and checking at 15 second intervals.
8. Dip and/or drizzle cooled cookies in white, dark or mixed chocolates (if the chocolate is too thick, add a small amount of corn syrup or vegetable oil to thin).
Servings: 24
 

Chocolate Dipped Pecan and Cherry Cookies

 

The Daring Bakers' Challenge:  Povitica (really great nut swirl sweet bread)

The Daring Bakers' Challenge: Povitica (really great nut swirl sweet bread)

Povitica

This was another challenge I could totally appreciate – a great sweet bread with nuts, cinnamon and sugar swirled throughout!  As a special bonus, this one is pretty good for a workout – lots of kneading and rolling but totally worth it.    Thanks so much to Jenni of The Gingered Whisk where you can find her beautifully photographed and detailed instructions.  I followed them (below) and it came out perfectly.  It makes 4 good sized loaves so I only filled 2 and froze one of the completed loaves and the dough to make two fresh ones for Thanksgiving when we will have some houseguests.   I plan on filling one with apple/cinnamon/honey caramel and the other with strawberry jam.  There will be a nice variety but nothing too heavy so the appetites will be safe for the big meal.  I think I’ll make another batch for holiday gifts too!

Povitica

The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!

Povitica

Printable Recipe
Ingredients
To activate the Yeast:
2 Teaspoons (10 ml/9 gm) Sugar
1 Teaspoon (5 ml/3 gm) All-Purpose (Plain) Flour
½ Cup (120ml) Warm Water
2 Tablespoons (30ml/14 gm/½ oz/2 sachets) Dry Yeast
Dough:
2 Cups (480ml) Whole Milk
¾ Cup (180 ml/170gm/6 oz) Sugar
3 Teaspoons (15 ml/18 gm/2/3 oz) Table Salt
4 Large Eggs
½ Cup (120ml/115 gm/one stick/4 oz) Unsalted Butter, melted
8 cups (1.92 l/1.12 kg/39½ oz/2½ lb) All-Purpose Flour, measure first then sift, divided
Walnut Filling:
7 Cups (1.68 l/1.12 kg/2.5 lbs) Ground English Walnuts
1 Cup (240ml) Whole Milk
1 Cup (240ml/225 gm/2 sticks/8 oz) Unsalted Butter
2 Whole Eggs, Beaten
1 Teaspoon (5ml) Pure Vanilla Extract
2 Cups (480ml/450 gm/16 oz) Sugar
1 Teaspoon (5 ml/4 gm) Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 Teaspoon (5 ml/3 gm) Cinnamon
Topping:
2 Tablespoons (30 ml/28 gm/1 oz) Granulated Sugar
Melted Butter
Directions:

To Activate Yeast:
1. In a small bowl, stir 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon flour, and the yeast into ½ cup warm water and cover with plastic wrap.
2. Allow to stand for 5 minutes
To Make the Dough:
3. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk up to just below boiling (about 180°F/82°C), stirring constantly so that a film does not form on the top of the milk. You want it hot enough to scald you, but not boiling. Allow to cool slightly, until it is about 110°F/43°C.
4. In a large bowl, mix the scalded milk, ¾ cup (180 gm/170 gm/6 oz) sugar, and the salt until combined.
5. Add the beaten eggs, yeast mixture, melted butter, and 2 cups (480 ml/280 gm/10 oz) of flour.
6. Blend thoroughly and slowly add remaining flour, mixing well until the dough starts to clean the bowl.
7. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead, gradually adding flour a little at a time, until smooth and does not stick. Note: I did not use all 8 cups of flour
8. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces (they will each weight about 1.25 pounds/565 grams)
9. Place dough in 4 lightly oiled bowls, cover loosely with a layer of plastic wrap and then a kitchen towel and let rise an hour and a half in a warm place, until doubled in size.
To Make the Filling
10. In a large bowl mix together the ground walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and cocoa.
11. Heat the milk and butter to boiling.
12. Pour the liquid over the nut/sugar mixture.
13. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
14. Allow to stand at room temperature until ready to be spread on the dough.
15. If the mixture thickens, add a small amount of warm milk.
To Roll and Assemble the Dough:
16. Spread a clean sheet or cloth over your entire table so that it is covered.
17. Sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons to a handful of flour (use flour sparingly)
18. Place the dough on the sheet and roll the dough out with a rolling pin, starting in the middle and working your way out, until it measures roughly 10-12 inches (25½ cm by 30½ cm) in diameter.
19. Spoon 1 to 1.5 teaspoons (5ml to 7 ½ ml/4 gm to 7 gm) of melted butter on top.
20. Using the tops of your hands, stretch dough out from the center until the dough is thin and uniformly opaque. You can also use your rolling pin, if you prefer.
21. As you work, continually pick up the dough from the table, not only to help in stretching it out, but also to make sure that it isn’t sticking.
22. When you think it the dough is thin enough, try to get it a little thinner. It should be so thin that you can see the color and perhaps the pattern of the sheet underneath.
23. Spoon filling (see below for recipe) evenly over dough until covered.
24. Lift the edge of the cloth and gently roll the dough like a jelly roll.
25. Once the dough is rolled up into a rope, gently lift it up and place it into a greased loaf pan in the shape of a “U”, with the ends meeting in the middle. You want to coil the dough around itself, as this will give the dough its characteristic look when sliced.
26. Repeat with remaining three loaves, coiling each rope of dough in its own loaf pan.
27. Brush the top of each loaf with a mixture of ½ cup (120 ml) of cold STRONG coffee and 2 tablespoons (30ml/28 gm/1 oz) of sugar. If you prefer, you can also use egg whites in place of this.
28. Cover pans lightly will plastic wrap and allow to rest for approximately 15 minutes.
29. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.
30. Remove plastic wrap from dough and place into the preheated oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes.
31. Turn down the oven temperature to slow 300°F/150°C/gas mark 2 and bake for an additional 45 minutes, or until done.
32. Remove bread from oven and brush with melted butter.
33. Check the bread at 30 minutes to ensure that the bread is not getting too brown. You may cover the loaves with a sheet of aluminum foil if you need to.
34. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes, still in the bread pan. Remember, the bread weighs about 2.5 and it needs to be able to hold its own weight, which is difficult when still warm and fresh out of the oven. Allowing it to cool in the pan helps the loaf to hold its shape.
35. It is recommended that the best way to cut Povitica loaves into slices is by turning the loaf upside down and slicing with a serrated knife.