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When Life Gives You Burnt Cupcakes, Make Cake Pops!

18 Sep

So, if you follow me on Facebook, you’d have seen my teaser picture of carrot cake, and my plans to try a new recipe this past weekend. Well, I sure did try it and it was definitely my newest baking (mis)adventure!

The back-story…

John: “Why are there so many carrots in the fridge? This is ridiculous!” *You should know that John is particular about cleaning and hates when things go bad in the fridge – I am the more relaxed of the two of us on the cleaning front – just sayin’

Me: “Well John, when Mom was here she asked me to get carrots for her sauce and chili recipes, and we used most of them, not a big deal. It was only a 5lb bag, don’t worry we can use them all up before they go bad”

John: “You mean you bought all these carrots?” *points to crisper in fridge filled with carrots- filled!

Me: “What the wha?? Where did all those carrots come from? I did not buy all those! (Seriously like 20lbs of carrots – clearly my mother cannot pass up a sale, even on carrots she will never use) What are we going to do with them? What can we make with that many carrots?!”

John: “Carrot Cake?”

And so began our journey toward the Great Carrot Cake Meltdown of 2012! *cue dramatic music

Here’s how it all went down… (notice the giant bowl of carrots pictured above)

I decided to make the recipe that Canadian Living calls The Best Carrot Cake in Canada, and because I wanted to get rid of the carrots, I decided to double the recipe and turn them into cupcakes so we could share them at both of our workplaces. Awesome idea, right? I’ve made cupcakes before, I thought, how could any of this go wrong?

Well, in all fairness it all went incredibly well… until it didn’t.

Things were going along swimmingly at first. I had the first batch in the oven and was working on the icing and preparing a second batch when the first came out – looking great at first glance…. The tops looked good but the sides and bottom…  not so much!

I have added a few steps to the recipe here. I would not recommend adding them unless your oven plays the same tricks on you as mine does on me. Hopefully your cake will turn out just fine, but these will help you get the picture of what happened next in my kitchen.

Final Step: Once the cake is done (toothpick comes out clean) leave it to cool. Cover in icing once cooled. (This is where most people would stop, satisfied with their creation)

But if you’re me you:

  1. Impatiently pick at the cupcakes until you eventually get one out of the pan, only to discover the worst thing of all… the cupcakes have burned on every edge except the top!

    So remember each time you diligently checked on them and relaxed in the fact that they “looked good”?
    You were living in a dream world in which you are the Cake Boss and people pay you to say “fon-dant!” in a thick Jersey accent! – (Not reality!)
  2. Now try to maintain composure because your friend is there and you don’t want to freak her out. (which only makes things more stressful)
  3. Fail miserably at maintaining composure and give into the crushing need to burst into tears. (Do this for about 5 minutes)
  4. Be angry at those damn cupcakes for being so easily burned and that oven for running too hot! It’s ok! You’ve worked hard for this!
  5. Rack your brain for what the heck you can do with burnt cupcakes. Trifle will come to mind – but everyone knows trifle is what you make when your cake burned!
  6. Remember back to a few days ago, when you were reading about Cake Pops and how all they need is icing (yes, I have that) and pieces of cake (yes, yes! I have that too)
  7. Now the acceptance phase: Decide on Carrot Cake Cake Pops and send John back to the store to get white baking chips and sucker sticks while you and your friend (who did actually stick around through your meltdown and subsequent mini fight with John) get started on the inside of the cake pops.

Here’s How To Make Carrot Cake Cake Pops:

You’ll need: Cake pieces, Sucker sticks, Styrofoam, Wax paper, Cookie sheet, Cream cheese icing, Mixing bowl, Pieces to make double boiler and Food colouring

  1. Take carrot cake cupcakes that burnt to a crisp and peel off burnt edges, leaving you with the lovely soft inside of each. Put them all in a mixing bowl. (You could use carrot cake that wasn’t burnt to begin with, but that is clearly too easy for me)
  2. Mash up the cake so it is not clumped together anymore.
  3. Add in cream cheese icing. You’re looking for the texture of a meatball – moist and sticky, not too runny or wet.
  4. Form into balls using a tablespoon measure (that was the trick I taught you last weekend! See I’ve learned too!) so they are all evenly sized and place them on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.
  5. Put them in the freezer for 15-20 minutes so they firm up a bit.
  6. Start a double boiler with white baking chips and melt fully stirring constantly to avoid burning.
  7. Dye it orange because you want them to look like carrots!
  8. Take a baking stick and insert it into the cake ball, so it is about half way through.
  9. Dip it in the chocolate and stick in the Styrofoam so it hardens while standing up.
  10. Repeat with as many cake balls as you have chocolate for. (In my case only about half )
  11. Take some cream cheese icing and dye it green then use a piping bag or sandwich bag (in my case) to put little “stems” on each one.
  12. Put cake pops in fridge and they will set after an hour
  13. Share and enjoy the fact that your cupcake meltdown was so creatively turned around into a wonderful success! Your friends will like cake pops more than they thought they would! (or maybe they feel bad for you? Hard to say)

I must say – I know they are certainly not the most polished or professional looking but for a first try and none of the proper tools needed – I think I turned it around pretty well!

And – they got rave reviews! Most people gave it a solid 10 out of 10!

“Just the way carrot cake should be:  a little kick of cinnamon blending nicely with the cream cheese and moist cake texture.  Yum!”

I did end up making a 9×13 cake with the rest of the batter it turned out amazingly as well – I would agree that it is the best carrot cake recipe in Canada!

Give it a try and remember if the cake burns, give yourself 5 mins to cry and move on to even better, more creative things. You’ll surprise yourself at what you can come up with!

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A Fantastic Night at The Bicycle Thief!

28 Aug

Alright so, picture this… A beautiful Saturday evening on the Halifax waterfront, sun is setting, people smiling, boats docked at the wharf, the cutest dogs off on an evening walk and me and my family watching it all pass us by as we dine outside on the patio at The Bicycle Thief.

What a great way to spend a night in Halifax!

I can’t say enough great things about this place, the food, service and ambiance were all top notch in my books!

I had shrimp in white wine cream sauce, pork ribs, tomato basil salad, veal parmesan and seafood linguine. (ok, well I had a taste of it all but didn’t eat whole portions myself! We’re share-ers in my family, our waitress caught onto that too!)

Just when I didn’t think I could fit another bite after courses of delicious food – they came with the dessert menu’s…so let me tell you about the desserts!

Coconut Cream Pie

This is not your average coconut cream here people! It starts with a chocolate crust, which has a lovely saltiness to it, topped with ever so creamy coconut filling and another cream topping!

If you are looking for a twist on the traditional coconut cream pie – this is an excellent choice!
Highly recommended! Great for sharing!

My Rating: 8 out of 10 – a return favorite
*should also note that this is the second time I’ve ordered it – you know its good when you choose it again on a return visit!

But wait… there’s more!

Peanut Butter Gelato Fudge Sundae

Now this was a first try for me on several accounts.

I had never had peanut butter gelato before, chocolate and other kinds, of course, but never peanut butter. I am a huge fan of the peanut butter chocolate combo though.  Also, I had never really considered ordering a sundae for dessert at such a fine restaurant (you know, sundae’s are usually saved for Friendly’s, or Swiss Chalet etc.)

This sundae is several scoops of peanut butter gelato, layered with homemade peanut brittle, peanuts and hot fudge. Can I just  say…MIND BLOWN!

It is all kinds of awesome! I loved it, and it was a hit with everyone at the table. The peanut brittle was a sweet crunchy surprise, it added to the gourmet factor.

My Rating: 10 out of 10

A sure bet for those who love the peanut butter chocolate combo!