Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Bunny Butt Cake

How was everyone's Easter? Ours was pleasant and mellow, exactly as I like it. We have decidedly secular traditions, mostly involving egg hunts and candy. Max and I dyed eggs on Saturday, the grown-ups seeded the backyard with candy-filled neon plastic Saturday night, then we had a lovely big family lunch and egg hunt on Sunday. Max got to hunt to whole mass of eggs himself this year, which was kind of fun. The grownups helped ferret out the last few at the end.

Then Max took all the real dyed eggs out and hid them for the grownups to find. That was his idea and I thought a pretty cute twist. The Easter Bunny (ahem *Gramdmas!* ahem) also saw fit to bring him a candy & toy bucket and a Lego set. So Max built Legos while we made deviled eggs and set up lunch. Delicious food was had, then we got to my Easter treat for the year. 

Mom had sent me a link to an adorable Easter cake a week or so ago, and I happily took up the challenge of making my own version. Have you seen a Bunny Butt cake? Maybe on Pinterest or somewhere? They're pretty cute. The one Mom linked me was from My Button Cake and was too cute not to love. Here's her version:
So cute! The full tutorial is here
I really liked her tutorial but had to make a few changes for my family's tastes. I stuck with her chocolate cake recipe (which I really liked!), but filled mine with homemade blueberry jam, then frosted it with dark chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream. Because, really, once I tried that frosting and got it right, none other will now do!

For the bunny butt itself, I used edible modeling dough. (It's edible, but only technically. Yuck.) The flowers, leaves, and twigs were molded out of gum paste. (Also just barely edible.) Details were added with food coloring pens like these. All told, it's probably on of the prettiest cakes I've made. I love how it all came out and it was darn tasty to boot! 





Did you do anything special for Easter? Or Spring? Let us know!

TTFN!
Cady

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Let's Talk Ice Cream

I love ice cream. I try not to eat ice cream as often as I want it, because that would leave little time for other things. Plus, you know, veggies and stuff.

Anyway, Matt loves ice cream too, and it has been one of the things hardest to replace since we learned he was lactose intolerant. Yes, there are several non-dairy ice creams available now, but we haven't been able to find one he really likes.
There a few reasons for this. First, most of the ones people like best are made from coconut milk, but the poor guy's allergic to coconut too. So scratch those. Second, just consider the scale: there is a whole aisle devoted to regular ice cream, but usually about half a case for the alternative stuff. This means the non-dairy folks have to cover the basics - vanilla, chocolate, and sometimes a few fruit flavored ones. That's pretty much all we see, none of which he got terribly excited about. Fair enough - I don't go for those flavors either. This means he's been going through life ice-cream-free for quite a while.

A few weeks ago my mom brought us a gift; this ice cream maker attachment for my Kitchen Aid. She figured I could now make some ice cream he could actually eat. Awesome! The next challenge was finding a good recipe, which was harder than I thought. Most of the ones that I found were coconut-based again, or had descriptions and reviews that made it clear they were not the creamy indulgent experience I was aiming for, but rather a sorbet-like concoction. No. We're shooting for ice cream, darn it!

So, after some experimentation, I am pleased to share with you my 2 non-dairy ice cream recipes. Matt's favorite, Chocolate Brownie Marshmallow, and my favorite, Coffee. Both were made with my Kitchen Aid attachment, but should work in a regular ice cream maker, or even using a machine-free method like this one. Enjoy!

This would be the coffee ice cream with hot fudge. I think the other was eaten before we managed pictures!

Dairy Free Chocolate Brownie Marshmallow Ice Cream

Ingredients
3 cups soy creamer (I use Silk)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 egg yolks
1 cup super fine sugar
2 brownies
1 cup mini marshmallows

Follow the instructions for your ice cream maker. For mine, the bowl needs to spend at least 15 hours in the freezer before mixing.

Heat soy creamer in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in cocoa powder and vanilla. Heat until just about to boil.

In a kitchen aid (or bowl with hand mixer), beat egg yolks and sugar until light yellow and fluffy. Reduce speed and mix in heated creamer, 1/2 cup at a time, until all incorporated.

Return to pan over medium heat. Heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens slightly. It won't get all the way to the custard stage (like regular ice cream), but it should get thicker and very smooth.

Remove from heat, bring to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Toss the brownies and marshmallows in the freezer at the same time.

When ready to mix, follow the directions for your ice cream maker. For mine, you attach the bowl to the Kitchen Aid, set on low, then pour in ice cream base and mix for ~20 minutes. Chopped brownie pieces and mini marshmallows should be added for just the last 2-3 minutes.

Transfer ice cream to sealable container and freeze. If you eat it now, it's like soft serve. Ice cream needs to cure for a few hours to reach real ice cream consistency.

Enjoy!

Dairy Free Coffee Ice Cream

Ingredients
3 cups soy creamer (I use Silk)
2 shots of espresso
3 Tablespoons instant espresso powder
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup super fine sugar

Follow the instructions for your ice cream maker. For mine, the bowl needs to spend at least 15 hours in the freezer before mixing.

Heat soy creamer in a saucepan over medium heat. Dissolve espresso powder into coffee, add vanilla. Stir into creamer. Heat until just about to boil.

In a kitchen aid (or bowl with hand mixer), beat egg yolks and sugar until light yellow and fluffy. Reduce speed and mix in heated creamer, 1/2 cup at a time, until all incorporated.

Return to pan over medium heat. Heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens slightly. It won't get all the way to the custard stage (like regular ice cream), but it should get thicker and very smooth.

Remove from heat, bring to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

When ready to mix, follow the directions for your ice cream maker. For mine, you attach the bowl to the Kitchen Aid, set on low, then pour in ice cream base and mix for ~20 minutes.

Transfer ice cream to sealable container and freeze. If you eat it now, it's like soft serve. Ice cream needs to cure for a few hours to reach real ice cream consistency.

Enjoy!


Seriously, I hope some of you try this out - they're good enough that I don't even have to buy separate regular ice cream for myself!

TTFN!
Cady



Wednesday, April 2, 2014

April Fools' Day!

I hope you had a fabulous April Fools' Day! I have somewhat mixed feelings about this holiday. I'm really not a fan of the kind of mean jokes and pranks that often get pulled on this day. But I do like an excuse for some silliness.

This year I went with the dinner time theme. We had 'cupcakes' for dinner. They were meatloaf made in a cupcake tin (from Grandma's recipe), with mashed potato frosting, green pea sprinkles, and asparagus candles. The photos aren't great, but Max got a kick out of them and they were pretty yummy.



For our dinner beverage we had strawberry 'juice' that was actually Jello. Max tried really hard to drink it through the straw before switching to a spoon.



For dessert we had 'grilled cheese sandwiches' which were actually toasted pound cake with orange frosting for cheese. These were also a hit. Overall, Max spent quite a bit of dinner time cracking up.


The other thing I've come to love about April Fools' Day is the way many of my favorite tech companies get into the spirit. Did you find Pokemon on your maps yesterday? Or try to buy a Flux Capacitor Car Charger? There were a bunch on fun tech gags this year, here's a list of some of the best: http://techcrunch.com/2014/04/01/best-of-april-fools-2014-roundup-list

Did you partake in any silliness?

TTFN!
Cady