Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hydrangea Cupcake Bouquet Tutorial

I made this Hydrangea cupcake bouquet a couple of years ago to give as a gift to a friend for her birthday. I've been asked about how it's made many times and have finally gotten around to posting this tutorial. It's fairly simple to do but very impressive when finished. 
To make one small cupcake bouquet, you will need:

1 recipe (2-3 cups) buttercream frosting (you can use any type buttercream frosting you prefer. I used this recipe)
Violet or purple food coloring. The gel type icing coloring works best.
Pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. 
Container for your bouquet
Floral oasis or foam cut to fit the into your container
5-10 pieces of tissue paper cut into 4-5 inch squares


Add the violet food coloring to the buttercream but don't blend it in completely. Let some of the icing be darker and even leave some white bits. This will make your hydrangeas look variegated and more realistic. 

I used the Wilton 1M star tip. This is my go to decorating tip. I use it all the time!

Fill your pastry bag with the violet frosting and pipe stars all over the top of the cupcake. Pipe the stars very close together so that you cover the entire top of the cupcake.

I found these cute metal buckets for $1.00 at Target ! Small terracotta pots or any small flower pots work well too. Cut your floral foam to fit into your container. If you have a wide topped pot/container you may have to extra pieces to fit down into the sides. It doesn't have to fit perfectly, just make sure you have enough oasis to support your cupcakes.

Poke 2-3 toothpicks into the bottoms of you cupcakes. Two toothpicks usually does the job, but occasionally I need three to keep the cupcake in place.

Stick the tooth-picked cupcakes into the oasis in your container. Place the cupcakes as close together as possible. Fitting as many as possible around the top of the container. this will vary on the size of your cupcakes and the container you choose. I could fit 4 cupcakes on this bouquet. Don't worry that there are gaps where you can see the oasis. You will be hiding these with the tissue paper.

Grasp the tissue paper in the center of each square and twist. This will form your tissue paper "leaves". Going around the bouquet add the pieces of tissue paper anywhere you have a gap. I stick the pieces all around the edges and usually one on top. If you have a piece that won't stay in place you can secure it with a toothpick.

Voila, an edible bouquet, a great gift for almost anyone!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies...

or should I call them pop tarts?
I made these little cuties yesterday. After dinner last night, hubs grabbed one, asking mid-bite what it was he was eating. While I was saying, those are strawberry rhubarb hand pies, he says, "Oh my God those are the best pop tarts EVER."
No matter how much we begged, my mother refused to buy us pop tarts when we were kids. She said they were "all sugar, junk food". Whenever we asked for things like, sugary cereals, pop tarts, pretty much any prepackaged sweet, Mom would say no. She usually followed the "No" with, "You'd be better off eating the cardboard it came in." Don't feel too sorry for me. Mom did not withhold sweets from us. I didn't realize till I was much older that we were quite spoiled, in fact. She baked something from scratch nearly every day. The sweets in my lunch bag were the envy of all those around me at school lunch table! But as a kid, I always assumed my parents were withholding something wonderful, just to torture me.  I think I was in middle school or possibly high school when I ate my first pop tart at a friends home. I remember opening the foil package, thinking, "this is going to be awesome!" Wow, was I disappointed. I didn't even eat the whole thing. Mom was right, I'd have been better off eating the cardboard box it came in.
It didn't occur to me while I was making these hand pies, but they are very similar to a pop tart, sweet pastry with a fruit filling. Cut them out in rectangles and you've got the best pop tart ever!
Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies/Pop Tart
(Printable recipe) 
source: Southern Living May 2011
Yields about 2 dozen

For the filling
3/4 cup finely diced fresh strawberries
3/4 cup finely diced rhubarb
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest

For the crust:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 cup butter, cold
1/4 cup shortening, chilled
3 tablespoons ice-cold water
3 tablespoons orange juice
Parchment paper
1 egg yolk, beaten

Combine strawberries, rhubarb, cornstarch, 2 Tbsp. sugar, and 1 1/2 tsp. orange zest in a small bowl.
Preheat oven to 375°. Combine flour, salt, and 1/4 cup sugar in a large bowl. Cut in butter and shortening with a pastry blender until mixture resembles small peas. Stir in orange zest. Drizzle with ice-cold water and orange juice. Stir with a fork until combined. (Mixture will be crumbly and dry.) Knead mixture lightly, and shape dough into a disk. Divide dough in half. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Roll half of dough to 1/8-inch thickness on a heavily floured surface.

Cut with a 2 1/4-inch round cutter, rerolling scraps as needed. Place half of dough rounds 2 inches apart on a parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Top with 1 rounded teaspoonful strawberry mixture (Don't overfill or your pies will not stay together). Dampen edges of dough with water, and top with remaining dough rounds, pressing edges to seal. Crimp edges with a fork, and cut a slit in top of each round for steam to escape. Repeat procedure with remaining dough and strawberry mixture.
Stir together egg yolk and cream; brush pies with egg wash. Sprinkle with sugar. Freeze pies 10 minutes.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container up to 2 days. 

I know another strawberry/rhubarb recipe. In my defense, they are both in season in Spring and I look forward to strawberries and rhubarb all year! When I saw this recipe in Southern Living I knew I'd be making it as soon as possible. I loved the idea of little pies. Pie filling encased in flaky buttery pie crust. The best part, you can pick it up and take it with you! So much more portable than a regular pie. Perfect for lunch boxes or picnics.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Pineapple Upside Down Bundtlets

Pineapple upside-down cake is one of my childhood favorite desserts, as I mentioned when I made this apricot upside-down cake. Today when I had some leftover pineapple I needed to use up, pineapple upside-down cake came to mind immediately. Instead of making the cake in my cast iron skillet like I usually would, I thought I try making it in these cute little bundt pans I bought a while back. I bought these mini bundt pans a couple of years ago, mostly because I had never seen small bundt pans before and I thought, "How cute, baby bundts!" Yes, I buy bake ware based on looks sometimes, shallow, I know. Anyway because the pans are cute, and I love making individual sized desserts (also for the cute factor), I decided try using them for this cake. The mini bundt pans, made the perfect, individual, pineapple upside-down bundtlets.
 Little baby bundtlets, adorable!

Pineapple Upside Down Bundtlets  
(printable recipe)

Yields 6 one cup mini bundts

For the topping
4 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 8 ounce can of pineapple slices, drained. Reserve juice.
1/4 cup pecan pieces

For the cake
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
reserved pineapple juice and milk to equal 1/2 cup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
6 maraschino cherries (Optional, for garnish)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 6 one cup capacity mini bundt cake pan(s) with non stick cooking spray. You can also use the the super mini bundt mold pans or a muffin tin but will have to your adjust cooking time.
For the topping:
Melt the butter in a small glass bowl. Stir in the brown sugar and place bowl in the microwave. Heat for about 30 seconds on high heat just until the sugar melts. Spoon brown sugar evenly into the mini bundt pan molds.
Sprinkle the nuts over the brown sugar mixture, dividing them evenly between each bundt mold
Place one pineapple ring in each mini bundt pan. Depending on the size of your bundt molds, you may have to cut the pineapple rings to fit. 

For the cake batter:
Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the egg and beat well.
In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Add about one-third of the flour
mixture to the sugar and egg mixture, then one-half of the juice and milk mixture and mix
together. Repeat until the flour and juice mixtures are mixed into the batter. Add the vanilla. Blend until smooth. Pour the batter over the pineapple dividing it evenly into each bundt cake mold. Place bundt pan(s) on a baking sheet to catch any overflow while baking. Bake 25 to 28 minutes, less (about 15 minutes) if you have the really mini sized bundt mold pans, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool for 5 minutes. To remove the cakes from the pan, place a sheet of wax paper or
foil over the top of the pan. Place a wire rack face down on top of foil, flip over, and let sit
a few seconds. Lift off the pan. The cakes should remain on the foil or waxed paper.
You may have to spoon some of the nuts and sugar back onto the cakes.
Slice the cherries in half. Place half of a cherry in the middle of each mini bundt cake.

I've noticed recently that mini bundts are suddenly everywhere. I bought these individual 1 cup capacity pans a few years ago. At that time these were the only mini bundts I had seen, but now there are lots of different pans to chose from. You can use any mini bundt pan you have for this recipe, but your cooking times can vary widely.
You can find these pans here
I love my individual bundtlet pans, but I've got my eye on this pan