Monthly Archives: January 2015

“Like store-bought” Chocolate Buttercream!

We’re only 2 proper weeks into winter here in the D.C. area and the saga of school closures and bad powers-that-be decisions continues. We got our first snow last week and kids have already been out or delayed from school for 4 or 5 days. We’ve already given up on trying to fathom the wisdom behind these decisions, but that isn’t stopping us parents from playfully betting on the odds for tomorrow after putting the kids to bed the previous evening. Texts fly back and forth as we wonder whether tomorrow will be another sleep-in day ending in widespread time-outs by early afternoon or whether, in fact, we can carry on with our routines while the kids are safely in school.

Today was one of those days for us. R has been sick and clingy and oh-so-whiny the last two days. V won’t stop poking fun at him for bursting into tears every 2 minutes, which makes R well, burst into tears every 2 minutes. The doctor’s office today was crawling with sniffling, too-loud children who all wanted to get on the weighing scale. After a vehemently requested but uneaten lunch, I gave up and lay on the couch while the kids had some computer time.

What does all my sob story have to do with the title, you ask? No, I’m not going to tell you how all this chaos made me crave store-bought frosting, so to mislead everyone reading I decided to name my post that. And I’m not going to philosophize on the vagaries of life resembling icing flavors (although, come to think of it, days like today = sour gummies, and days with chores done and kids in school = chocolate buttercream!).

IMG_0119So, when in doubt, BAKE! To break the monotony and turn around our afternoon, I decided to bake with the kids.I’d had my eye on this buttercream recipe by Amanda Rettke of the Surprise Inside cakes fame for a while. This is one talented lady. She has 5 kids and bakes the most fabulous cakes, updates a blog, writes cookbooks. HOW?!

In other words, she makes us regular people look totally incompetent. But whatever. Ahem.

IMG_0111I more than halved her recipe, and used milk instead of heavy cream. To my understanding, nothing I didn’t do made absolutely ANY difference to this frosting. It is F.A.B.U.L.O.U.S. I don’t think you can do anything wrong to botch this one up. It tastes divine, has the perfect consistency, is highly lickable. Just how you want your frosting to be. And it beats the grainy, too-sweet grocery store buttercreams by miles!

IMG_0129See those air pockets? That’s what makes this buttercream so soft and pillowy you’ll begrudge having to use it on the damn cake and not eating it right off the spoon. To make about 2 cups of frosting You’ll need:

1/2 c or 1 stick butter, at room temp.
1.5 c icing sugar
scant 1/4 c unsweetened cocoa
a pinch of salt
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla

Whisk butter and vanilla in a mixer with the whisk attachment until it becomes fluffly and whitish, about 2 mins. Sift sugar, salt and cocoa and add to butter and whisk slowly while trickling in the milk. Once the sugar stops flying around, increase speed and whisk on high for a couple of minutes.

IMG_0130Refrain from licking uncontrollably if you care about hygiene. If you don’t (because, say, you’ve been eating your kids’ leftovers for lunch for the last 5 years and saliva doesn’t scare you any more), feel free. Just book extra gym time tomorrow when the kids will be at school.

Hopefully.

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Logo Cookies: First Stenciling Attempt

I always thought that logo cookies were hard to attempt without any kind of projection contraption. Freehanding a preset design wouldn’t only be cumbersome but likely inaccurate as well. Then the Internet came to help. Again.

For V’s holiday bake sale at school, I finally bit the bullet and gave these logos a try. I fashioned a homemade stencil out of a folder sheet (you know those transparent, thin folders sealed at one end?) and got to work. I only had a few squares cut out for the logo; I’d compensated with more snowflakes and Husky paws (the school mascot) in case the logos didn’t work out.

I’m still very much an amateur and don’t have fancy tools like small palette knives so a butter knife would have to do the job. There’s more professional ways of stenciling as the experts outlined, with weighted down magnets for accurate positioning etc. but all I cared to do for my first time was to get a feel for the work required to stencil a design. The letters in the center are freehanded.

Not too bad, if I say so myself. 🙂

Each cookie had to be individually packaged for sale. Small clear bags with ribbon was the most obvious way to go. Then I came across this neat idea to use scrapbooking paper as bag toppers and to staple them closed. I got thick paper in the school’s colors (or as close as I could get them) and voila!

FHScollageAll boxed up and ready to go to bake sale.

Apparently the event was a big success. Who’s to say what part my effort had to play in it, but I do know that the first sale of the table was mine — V bought it! 🙂