Posts Tagged With: baking

Little Panda Cupcakes

Are these the cutest cupcakes you’ve ever seen or what?!  I am so in love, in more ways than one.

I got the idea from Angie at Bakerella. Last April, she posted these adorable mini panda cupcakes, and I’ve been completely obsessed with them ever since.  I’ve been dying to make them and finally seized the chance today. What’s the occasion, you ask?  Well, this Thursday (October 25) marks exactly three years since Sam asked me to be his girlfriend!  We’ve come a long way since then, and what better way to celebrate my Panda than with these cute panda cupcakes?

If you want to make them yourself, they’re really easy and fun.  You can use any chocolate cake base and any white frosting.  I chose to use my favorite chocolate cake recipe (Revell’s Food Cake) and my favorite cream cheese frosting (I used it when I made my Checkerboard Cake).  I’ve copied the recipes here for easy reference, but if making cake and frosting from scratch scares you, a box mix and a tub of store-bought frosting will work just fine.  You’ll be missing out on this delicious combination, though!

Revell’s Food Cake

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup strong black coffee
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Set mini cupcake liners into a mini cupcake pan and spray the cups with non-stick cooking spray (preferably butter flavored).
  2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl (the bowl of your mixer works best). Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee (hot), oil, and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes (batter will be thin and slightly bubbly from the hot coffee). Fill the cups 2/3 of the way full.
  3. Bake 12-15 minutes. Test with a toothpick or fork poked into the center. If it comes out clean, they’re done!
  4. Let cool for 30 minutes. Use wire cooling racks if you have them.

NOTEYou’ll probably want to halve this recipe.  It makes 96 mini cupcakes!

Cream Cheese Frosting

3-8 oz. packages of cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups of powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

  1. Whip together the cream cheese, vanilla, and butter in a mixer until smooth.
  2. Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time until light and fluffy.

Pour your frosting into a pastry bag (or, if you’re cheap like me, use a gallon-sized Ziploc bag).  Snip off a tiny bit of the corner with scissors and frost each cupcake with a swirl of frosting.

Then, one by one, begin decorating.  First, use a spatula or the back of a spoon to smooth the frosting into a flat surface.  Then, use chocolate chips pushed into the frosting upside down to create the ears and eyes.  Insert a chocolate chip sideways to make the nose.  I used Ghiradelli chocolate chips because the original recipe mentioned that they are bigger than normal chocolate chips.  I didn’t notice much of a difference in size, but the taste of these chocolate chips is above and beyond any other chips I’ve used.  I think I’ve ruined myself for the bargain off-brand chocolate chips, which is unfortunate because Ghiradelli chips are much more expensive.

I used chocolate sprinkles to make the mouth.  I put a tiny dot of frosting on the eyes, and used a sprinkle dot pressed in the middle of the dot to complete the eyes.  Here’s the first panda I decorated.  He’s pretty cute, but for the rest I tucked the ears partway under the frosting to make them look more like ears.

Yay!  A plate of pandas!  I have to warn you, these are very time consuming.  They would probably be easier if you were making them with friends and made some sort of assembly line.  They are worth the work, though.  I had so much fun making different facial expressions for them, and they’re just so darn cute I could hardly keep my eyes away.

Like I said, these take awhile.  I wanted to have them done before Sam got home from work so I could surprise him, so I did the next plate with just sprinkle decorations.  I think they turned out cute, too, and look like something you might find in a bakery.

They look cute together and would probably work well mixed together in a display.  I think this idea could also work for other animals.  Think regular bears with chocolate frosting, lions with orange frosting and butterscotch chips, tigers… So many possibilities!  You could make your own cupcake zoo.

When Sam got home, he loved the cupcakes!  They made him smile, even though he had a really hard day at school.  The only bad thing about these cupcakes is that they’re so cute, I had trouble eating them!  They are delicious, though, and after Sam enjoyed his first one I dug right in.  I’m sure these plates will be empty before Thursday!

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Famous Rankin Family Cookies

This is my absolute favorite recipe of all time.  My mom has used this chocolate chip cookie recipe for as long as I can remember.  She adapted it from the classic Toll House cookie recipe, and it has always served my family well.  It’s helped us make friends in every situation.  When you show up with a plate of these to a party, everyone will remember you.  They will invite you to the next party and request your cookies.  They make amazing Christmas gifts, get well soon gifts, and sweet “I love you” gifts (Sam can attest to that).  I received very heartfelt thank you notes from Sam’s Spanish II class, who got a few dozen of these cookies for their “Fiesta Day.”  They’ve helped me and Sam get extra points at work.  I mean, the potential for these cookies is endless.  They are magical and world-changing.  They’ve made my mom, my older sister Taylor, and me (the Rankin women) “famous” among our friends, and our cookies have always been unforgettable.

The recipe doesn’t have any secret or special ingredients.  In fact, chances are, you might have everything you need in your cabinet right now.  We kept the recipe under wraps for many years, but I’ve started sharing it recently.  I have to warn you: my family has a running joke about the “curse” that accompanies this recipe.  Legend has it, anyone outside of the family who tries to make it never successfully replicates the cookies correctly.  Something always mysteriously goes wrong.  This has most recently been proven by my friend Rebecca, who followed the recipe to a “t” but ended up with crumbly dough.  I have no idea if the “curse” is real or not, but friends have had similar results for over a decade.  I’m interested to see how the family recipe holds up in other families!  Good luck!  :)

This recipe makes the perfect chocolate chip cookie.  I can’t emphasize this enough.  It’s not too chewy, not too crispy.  It’s the perfect, blissful medium.  It’s important to use these specific ingredients I have listed.  Don’t use real butter, don’t use milk chocolate chips, don’t use wheat flour.  Just stick with these ingredients and follow the directions, and you’ll have beautiful gooey heaven.

Rankin Family Cookies

  • 2 C. Shortening (Butter Flavored Crisco)
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. dark brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 2 t. salt
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 5 c. flour
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips

Pretty simple, right?  No nuts (blech), no extra fancy stuff.  Just classic ingredients combined in exactly the right way.

First, beat the crisco, sugar, and brown sugar until smooth.  This is where my lovely KitchenAid mixer comes in handy.  Add eggs, baking soda, salt, and vanilla.

Add flour one cup at a time.  Mix until just combined; don’t overmix the dough!

Add chocolate chips slowly.  I don’t have an exact measurement because I just add them until I know it’s enough.  If I had to say, it would be a standard-sized bag of Toll House chocolate chips.  I just go by instinct and make sure there are not too few and not too many chocolate chips.  You want the dough and chips to balance each other, not overtake each other.

This step is important: refrigerate the dough for at least an hour.  Overnight is even better (although beware of sneaky midnight cookie dough thieves).  If you bake the dough right after mixing it, the cookies won’t be as fluffy.

After the dough is refrigerated, form it into 1-inch balls and place evenly spaced on a cookie sheet.  I know in the picture it shows them on aluminum foil, but they bake so much better on parchment paper.  I definitely recommend baking them on parchment paper because it helps them bake evenly and not stick to the cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 degrees for 10-11 minutes.  Let cool completely before serving.  Freeze if not serving within 3 days.  Yield 6 dozen cookies.  Prepare to change the world.  :)

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Checkerboard Cake

Well, the Panthers didn’t have a good week.  No points on the board in either the JV or Varsity games.  The coaches seemed a bit discouraged, so I thought I’d make a Panther Spirit Cake for Sam to take to school on Monday.  Their colors happen to be black and red, so its alter-ego is Checkerboard Cake.  I love this idea because it can truly be used for any combination of colors.  The possibilities are endless!  Think Superbowl Sunday with a team’s colors, Halloween with black and orange, or even rainbow (which would require a TON of layers, but could be really fun).  I think the next time I try this will be for Christmas with red and green.

I first got the idea for this recipe from Darla at Bakingdom.  She made a Hogwarts Vertical Layer Spice Cake for her release party for Deathly Hallows Part 2.  Well, her cake turned out amazing and was a wonderful tribute to the greatness of Harry Potter.  When I saw her cake, I was intrigued about how it would look with just two colors.  Since then, I’ve been dying to try!

I ran into some issues with this recipe, but thankfully I’ve worked out all the kinks for you.  I wanted a red and black cake.  The red part was a no-brainer: red velvet cake.  I had a nice standby recipe I found in a cookbook a few years ago.  For the black part, I immediately thought of the base cake for Revell’s Food Cake because it was dark and delicious.  Unfortunately, Revell’s Food Cake is very moist and fluffy… and completely wrong for this recipe!  You really need a cake that will be nice and thick and have a good supportive crust on the outside.  The red velvet recipe I used was perfect!  Next time, I’ll probably use that recipe for both parts to ensure that the cake has the same consistency throughout.  Food coloring and food gel can help you make any color you can think of.

Also, I love making cake from scratch, but if it’s not your thing, no worries!  This recipe will work just fine with a box mix.  Just add your food coloring and go for it!  Don’t be afraid to be creative and adventurous.

I used a delicious cream cheese frosting adapted from Kate at Our Best Bites.  I added extra sugar to mine because hers was a bit too cheesy for what I had in mind.  To me, nothing goes better with red velvet cake than cream cheese frosting!

Alright, here we go.  I lined up all my ingredients and got to work.

I know that looks like a lot, but that’s because it is!  You’re essentially baking two cakes at once, which will result in a four-layer cake.  That’s a pretty huge cake, but I’m confident a handful of football coaches can finish it off.  If you don’t want such a huge cake, consider using smaller cake pans or thinner layers.

Here’s the recipe I used for red velvet cake.  If you want a different color, substitute the red food coloring for something else.

Red Velvet Cake

2 1/2 cups flour

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon red gel-paste food color (2 tablespoons regular food color)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray cake pans with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together cake flour, cocoa, and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat sugar and oil on medium high speed until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Mix in food color and vanilla.

Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk and beating until combined after each.

In a small bowl, stir together the baking soda and vinegar (it will foam); add mixture to the batter, and mix on medium speed until combined, about 10 seconds.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until a fork inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

I made Revell’s Food Cake for the other two layers.  You can visit the original recipe to see how to make it if you’re interested.  It’s very delicious, but won’t work well with this particular recipe.

For the next step, I could’ve done some math involving finding the circumference and radius of the cake and measuring evenly spaced cuts, but really… If there’s a way to avoid math, I avoid math.  Here’s the English Major way, but if you’re a math person, by all means break out that protractor.

You’ll need to cut each layer into three pieces.  I used a funnel and a pot lid to get perfect circles.

Try to make the cuts evenly spaced apart.  Don’t forget to trim the dome off your cakes so they’ll stack flat.

When you’re cutting your layers, it helps to use a butter knife and make sure your cuts go all the way through so the layers don’t stick together.  When you’re done cutting, separate the layers onto pieces of parchment paper.

Once you’re done cutting all your layers, clean out your mixer bowl and go make the frosting.  My cake ended up requiring a double batch of this recipe.

Cream Cheese Frosting

3-8 oz. packages of cream cheese, room temperature

3/4 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature

3 cups of powdered sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1.  Whip together the cream cheese, vanilla, and butter in a mixer until smooth.

2.  Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time until light and fluffy.

Now it’s time to start assembling your cake!  You’re going to alternate colors.  Since you used the same objects to trace everything, it should fit together like a puzzle.

You can see where I had some trouble with my black cake.  Here’s what the next layer should look like:

Now, put a crumb coat on to ensure you’ll get a nice clean look when you’re finished.

The top layer had the black cake on the outside, and it crumbled into a mess.  I left that part off, so that’s why my cake has a weird dome effect to it.  Once your crumb coat is done, pop it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Then use a flat spatula to finish frosting, and you’re done!

The best part is cutting it open to see the inside!

Don’t be discouraged by the semi-ugliness of my cake… If you use the right recipe, yours will be gorgeous!

And, of course, no slice of cake would be complete without a nice drink of milk from a panda mug!  Life is good.

Categories: Revell Recipes | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Revell’s Food Cake

[Originally posted on August 19, 2012]

Today, I have created a recipe that I’m certain I’ll still be making when I’m a grandmother. I call it Revell’s Food Cake, and it will change your life. I promise.
 
I created this recipe from two different components: a base cake recipe and a frosting recipe. I chose to make cupcakes to send with Sam to school tomorrow. You might say I’m trying to make his fellow coaches like him by giving them delicious baked goods. You might be right.  I began by looking for a red velvet cake recipe because Maypearl’s school colors are red and black. However, I got sidetracked by this incredible recipe posted on Kevin & Amanda’s Recipes called Brownie Batter Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes.  This particular recipe got amazing reviews. It’s basically a cake base with a brownie center and chocolate frosting.
 
Everyone who knows me should be aware how insane I get for chocolate, but even I was a little nervous about the amount of chocolate in this recipe. It seemed a little overwhelming. I wanted a cupcake that I could eat without feeling like praying for forgiveness. However, I was very attracted to the frosting. It seemed like exactly what I needed: thick, gooey, and rich. The original recipe called for five sticks of butter! Five! I cut my recipe down to four sticks, but still. I should probably start praying. I cut down my recipe by one-fifths because sticks of butter are sold in groups of four. That’s why the measurements will be a little strange. You can find the original recipe on Kevin and Amanda’s Blog.
For the base cake, I remembered a recipe I’ve been meaning to try for a while now: Hershey’s Black Magic Cake. It’s a recipe that’s been floating around for decades. Originally, Hershey printed a version of it on their cocoa tins (back when their cocoa came in tins). I found this version on a blog called My Baking Addiction. It’s called Black Magic for a reason… It’s incredibly moist and feels completely evil. It’s soft and fluffy, just the way I like my cake.
With a little tweaking here and there, I combined the two recipes to make Revell’s Food Cake. It will probably make an appearance at a party or family gathering in the near future.
 
 
 

Revell’s Food Cake

Makes 1 cake (10-12 servings) or 28 cupcakes.
For the Cake:

2 cups sugar

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup strong black coffee

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans or one 13x9x2-inch baking pan. For cupcakes, set cupcake liners into a standard cupcake pan and spray the cups with non-stick cooking spray (preferably butter flavored).

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl (the bowl of your mixer works best). Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee (hot), oil, and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes (batter will be thin and slightly bubbly from the hot coffee). Pour batter evenly into prepared pans. If making cupcakes, only fill the cups 2/3 of the way full.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes for round pans, 35 to 40 minutes for rectangular pan, or 15-20 minutes for cupcakes. Test with a toothpick or fork poked into the center. If it comes out clean, they’re done!

4. Let cool for 30 minutes. Use wire cooling racks if you have them.

While the cupcakes or cakes are baking and cooling, wash out your mixer bowl and start on the frosting.

For the Frosting:

4 sticks of unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar

1 cup + 3 tablespoons + 1/2 teaspoon dark cocoa powder

1 cup + 3 tablespoons + 1/2 teaspoon light corn syrup

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

12 ounces chocolate chips (one bag)

Directions:

1. Melt chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring well every 30 seconds. Allow to cool for 5-10 mins.

2. Combine butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in your mixer bowl with a large spoon. Attach the bowl to your mixer and add the corn syrup and vanilla. Mix on medium speed until just combined; don’t over-mix! It will have a strange consistency at first because of the syrup. Add the melted chocolate and mix until smooth.

3. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. By then the cupcakes should be completely cool and ready to frost. Enjoy!

Are they good? Here’s what Sam had to say:

 

UPDATE: 10/20/12

Here is what this recipe looks like as a full cake!  :)

Ignore the strange glow from my computer screen.

 
Categories: Revell Recipes | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

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