Tiramisu Cake

One of my all-time favorite desserts is Tiramisu.  The creaminess of the filling, the sharp flavor of the liqueur-soaked ladyfingers, the bitterness of the espresso and the sweetness of the cocoa powder… my mouth is watering just thinking about it.  I have easily fallen in love with some Tiramisus in my time.

This year for my mom’s birthday (Happy Belated Birthday, Mom!!), she asked me to make this Tiramisu bundt cake that she had pulled out of a magazine around a year ago.  She has been bugging me to make it for somewhere over 6 months, but I kept finding things that I wanted to try, so I kept putting it off.

That was really, really stupid of me to delay this. Continue reading

“Champagne” Cupcakes with Strawberry-Champagne Whipped Cream

Happy second day of Cupcake Week!

(p.s.  who’s totally psyched for Top Chef tonight?!?  This girl!!)

I’ve already made champagne cupcakes in the past, and while I enjoyed them, I really felt the champagne didn’t lend enough flavor to the cupcake itself – what I tasted more than anything was the dryness of the champagne.

No longer.

This time when I found out I would be making these, I set myself on a quest for a good bubbly.  While I love champagne dearly, I have decided it’s just not quite appropriate for a cupcake.  This time, my goal was to find a prosecco or sparkling moscato to give these lil cupcakes the extra “oomph” they needed.  After spending some time at Trader Joe’s, I found exactly what I was looking for – a delicious tasting prosecco.  Has the bubbles, but just a bit more flavor than champagne.

And these cupcakes turned out mah-velously.

Continue reading

In Protest of SOPA and PIPA

Hi there foodies!

It’s been a while for me, with starting a new job, the holidays, and some stuff in between – I promise to bake soon!

But today’s post is about something much more important – joining the protest against the SOPA and PIPA acts that are in the House and Senate today.  I don’t want to write too much, but I feel the need to say something because of who I am and what this blog is about.

From my understanding, what these acts will do is allow companies to shut down any other websites they feel are infringing on their property, intellectual or otherwise.  Anything that can be seen as copyright infringement could be shut down/blocked right away by court order.  No trial needed.

For me and other food bloggers out there, I feel this could be a big impact – all it takes is one big name to put the kibosh on all the rest of us that use a recipe of someone else’s, that comment on said recipe, that have a follower comment on said recipe (oh that’s right – I didn’t mention that.  It doesn’t even have to be YOU who posts something, it can be just a comment on your space!).

While I agree with the general idea of providing protection for the Internet and its users, I also feel that there can be something done about piracy without DNS blocking (which is the same way China censors its Internet.  Interesting).  There can be a better bill written that doesn’t attack free speech online, that doesn’t offer up censorship to the extreme.

And for Senator Leahy, who believes that all opponents are obviously gaining from piracy in some way – I bake things.  I properly provide links to recipes I use.  I don’t steal intellectual property from other people.  Thus I’m not gaining from piracy, and I’m STILL against this.

If you agree with me – contact your elected officials and let them know.  I know I will.

You can sign petitions here and here.

Cookie cookie cookie!

Hello baking friends!

Every year, there is a tradition in my family of baking all the holiday cookies over the first weekend in December.  It’s called “Cookie Bake” (and sometimes “Cookie Insanity”).

This started back in 2004 with my cousin and I doing this alone – all in a Chicago apartment kitchen (ever seen one of those?  They’re not all that big).  Now it has evolved to include my mom and dad (my dad being the dishwasher and go-fer), as well as anyone else we can bribe and/or threaten into helping us (sometimes an aunt, sometimes a friend).  We run three mixers, three ovens and just go and go and go until everything is done and boxed up.

Every year we get rid of a few cookies and try some new ones, unless something is truly spectacular (more on that later).  This year, due to price of ingredients and all that includes, we decided to try to make less batches, but smaller cookies (so hopefully we’d still end up with crazy amounts of cookies).

Final tally for 2011 (including my guesstimations on some cookies): 2,467 cookies.

Yup, you read that right.  And that’s probably totally under-estimated. Continue reading

It’s Time For Some Funfetti!

Wow – it has been WAY too long since I’ve written an update (and yes, I know my last post starts the same way).

Anyway!

To kick start myself back into the baking (tis the season), I decided to formulate my recipe for funfetti cake – mainly because I had a groom’s cake with that cake type 🙂

For those of you who don’t know, funfetti is a great cake – basically a plain vanilla cake, but with some rainbow sprinkled mixed in to give all these little points of color within the cake when you cut it.  I swear it tastes better than regular vanilla cake… but I’m part of the funfetti generation, so I’m a wee bit biased!

The groom for this cake is a vanilla lover, so he requested vanilla with a simple vanilla buttercream.  Enter Kat – Funfetti cake with some Vanilla Italian Meringue Buttercream.  I’m excited for this cake – this was going to be my first fondant-less cake for an event. Continue reading

Baking GALS – a perfect way to donate this season!

Hi everyone!

I know, I know, it’s been far far too long since I’ve updated, but I can’t think of a better reason than to discuss an upcoming venture – joining the Baking GALS!

For those of you (like me) who had never heard of them before the “GALS” part of the title stands for “Give A Little Support”.  The purpose of this organization is to get bakers from all over the country to bake goodies to send to our men and women in war zones to give them a little something sweet that reminds them of home.

Thanks to my friend Paula (The Culinary Cheesehead) for introducing me to this wonderful organization.  And to all of you out there – I think it would be absolutely wonderful if we could get as many people as possible signed up to help give something back to those people protecting our country and our beliefs out there.  Even if you don’t agree with the reason that our soldiers are where they are, every soldier out there deserves some sort of comfort, especially going into the holiday season.

For those of you out there that I personally know, if you are interested in being on a team with me and Paula (go Star-Spangled Bakers!), let me know! 🙂

 

Apple-Raspberry Tartlets

Well… it’s been FAR too long since I’ve been on here!!  I was officially on a baking break for a while – after all the cakes I made, I needed to just stay out of the kitchen for a lil bit.

(To start with – I apologize for the crappy pictures.  I had left my camera at my parents’ house and had to make do with my cell phone.  That likely won’t be happening again any time soon.)

My birthday was a few weeks ago, and for the second time my family went apple-picking for my birthday get-together, which was a lot of fun.  This place (Garden Patch Farms) is AWESOME.  We got Honeycrisp apples, two types of Asian pears, some peaches, bell peppers, pickles, broccoli, raspberries, blackberries, cabbage and who knows what else.  There was so much to pick from, and we didn’t even get into some of the other stuff (they also had a tomato section and grape section).

Anyway – when I got back to my place, I had a pint of raspberries and an entire refrigerator drawer full of Honeycrisp apples (yum).  “What could I do with this?”, I wondered.  Answer: tartlets.

I had made the strawberry rhubarb tart earlier this year, and I have made apple pie in the paste.  I figured that there must be some way I could make this work… although Internet searches only yielded various “crumbles” – and those are NOT easily transportable (or servable in my opinion).

So once again, I decided I could make this up on my own.  I had my strawberry rhubarb filling recipe.  I had an apple pie filling recipe.  I could totally do this. Continue reading

Learning to Let Go of the Perfectionist Baker Gene (yeah… right)

I’m sure it’s happened to everyone.

You make a cake.  Situations arise.  You run out of time and have to just give the cake as it stands at that moment.  You are disappointed with yourself and want to beat your head against a wall.

This past weekend, I was to make a “Chicago” cake for a friend who was having a surprise party for her girlfriend who finally moved to town.  I was told chocolate cake with peanut butter buttercream, and other than that, just a “Chicago” theme.

My mind exploded, and I had all sorts of grand ideas for this. I finally nailed down some stuff a few days before – I wanted to make the Bean (I love the Bean), the Chicago Theater sign, the Wrigley Field welcome sign, and the Picasso (if possible) – and to have a skyline across the bottom of the cake.

I know, I know… I’m a little ambitious.  But my mind doesn’t understand the word “no” when it comes to cake decorating.  You try to tell me that when I’m in the midst of a cake.  I dare you. Continue reading

Christening Cake II (aka how to save a cake)

Happy Monday everyone!

Well…it finally happened.

Just a couple of weeks after reaching my first baking milestone of creating my own recipe, I reached another baking milestone.

My first cake disaster.

I got lucky with this disaster – it could have been MUCH worse.  This wasn’t me slipping and falling with a cake on top of me, this wasn’t finding one of my cats with its head fully enveloped in cake.

But it was bad enough.

I was so close to being done.  I had finished the decorations on the bottom tier of the cake, and all I had left to do was put polka dots on the top tier and figure out where the name was going to go.  The cake was sitting on my super nifty tilting turntable, which I love.  Or loved. Continue reading

Love, Loss, and Peanut Butter Pie Friday

It’s amazing to me how in this day and time, someone we don’t know and have never met can really affect your life.

A few days ago on Twitter, I saw mutiple people sending wishes towards a woman named Jennie, and from the tone of them, I knew something tragic had happened. It turns out her husband, still very young and in his prime, had suffered a fatal heart attack suddenly last weekend. Just reading her story, and seeing the video post on her blog of the “last dance” between her husband and daughter brought tears to my eyes and sadness to my heart.

Along with the emotions, it brought back memories. A few years back, my family also lost someone incredibly dear to us, my aunt. She was possibly one of the most amazing people I had ever met – someone who was always upbeat and sunny, someone who managed to overcome all trials in her life, and someone who always seemed to believe that things would work out.

Just like this man, she was taken from us far too young, and from a sudden heart attack. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her in some way, whether it’s in association with my family members, from looking at the last family picture we took, or just thinking in passing of something that reminds me of her.

It’s amazing how things change with an event like this. It feels like a piece of your heart, a piece of your being is missing, and you aren’t quite sure how to find it. It is just gone, gone into oblivion, and you are hopelessly searching to put your heart and self together again.

But time does pass. And no matter how hard it is to hear, time really does heal wounds. Sure, they can be opened again, and you will never forget this person or what they meant to you, but the pain changes. It becomes more bearable. And one day you realize that it doesn’t hurt like it once did, and that this person has just become a part of you in a different way, has been integrated in your life and soul. That you are a better person because of this individual. That no matter what, this person will never truly leave you.

On the first anniversary of my aunt’s death, my cousins (her children), my mom, and my aunt’s fiance put together a memorial for her. They passed out tulips to everyone, something that could grow every spring to remind us all of my aunt, right around her birthday. And every year, these tulips seem to sprout first, eager to burst into bloom and give us all a memory of someone so special.

Jennie, however, has her own way of asking people to help her and honor her husband.

This amazing woman was able to actually respond to those around her who wanted to help by putting up a blog post – a post in which she asked something simple from everyone.

She never got a chance to make her husband his favorite pie again – she kept thinking she could make it tomorrow. Now, in wake of this tragic change of course, she has asked everyone to make a peanut butter pie for their loved ones in honor of her husband, Mikey. She wants everyone to pass it along to their loved ones, and to “hug them like there’s no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on.”

I don’t know Jennie, and I never knew Mikey. I doubt I will ever meet her or her children. But this woman’s story has touched me, and I’m sure has touched so many others who have gone through their own losses.

In honor of Mikey (and Jennie), I will make my own peanut butter pie and share it with those important to me.

I hope you can do the same.