Friday, December 23, 2011

Katey and Laura's Annual Christmas Extravaganza (and other happenings of the Christmas season)

Today was the day of the Christmas party! Lots of fun and lots of fantastic recipes to share! But first, let's see what's happened up until then. It was mainly visiting with friends and going back up to Seattle for work. Oh plus a parental/neighborhood xmas party that went heavy on the holiday drinks (of the non-Starbucks variety).

Zoolights yesterday was probably the most blog-worthy adventure, so here are some photos:
This is a dragon. One of my favorites. And one of the only ones that photographed well.

Weird animal things are also a highlight. My friend Matt is particularly obsessed.

This was Laura and I in front of the hippos but with the flash off (ooooops). 
Did I mention my ringtone is "I want a hippopotamus for Christmas?"

Alright, party time. It was a good one, although we weren't as prepared as we had hoped. Here are some of the best recipes and photos:


These are a pumpkin spice cupcake with plain cream cheese frosting. Super easy:

Cupcakes:
Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour1 teaspoon baking soda1 teaspoon baking powder1 teaspoon coarse salt1 teaspoon ground cinnamon1 teaspoon ground ginger1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg1/4 teaspoon ground allspice1 cup packed light-brown sugar1 cup granulated sugar1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled4 large eggs, lightly beaten1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin pureePreparation:1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice; set aside.2. In a large bowl, whisk together, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. Add dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in pumpkin puree.3. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway. Bake until tops spring back when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

Frosting: 
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Just mix it all together!
To do the Santa feet:

Just get Tootsie Rolls in regular, strawberry (technically "Frootsies") and vanilla
then melt them a teensy bit and shape them!


These were tricky. Bakerella told us to to them with candy cane stems. HA. False. They don't stand up right and you have to saw off (literally) the ends of the cones to make the cane show (way too risky), so we ended up just setting most of them on the cupcakes.

Here's the recipe we used for the EGGNOG cupcakes and frosting we used:

Eggnog Cupcakes
1/4 cup dark rum or bourbon
1 cup soy eggnog
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
scant 1/4 tsp nutmeg, freshly ground
1 cup sugar
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350F. Fill a 12-cup muffin tin with liners.
In a small bowl, mix together rum, eggnog, vegetable oil, vinegar and vanilla.
In a large bowl, mix together nutmeg, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Pour in rum mixture and whisk until just combined. Divide evenly into muffin tins (a 1/4 cup measure is a good tool for this).
Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the cakes spring back when lightly pressed.
Cool in the pan for 3-5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Eggnog Frosting
1/4 cup butter or nonhydrogenated shortening, softened
3 tbsp soy eggnog (or regular)
2 tbsp rum
generous pinch of nutmeg, freshly ground
2+ cups confectioners’ sugar
coarse sugar for “rims”
Cream together butter/nonhydrogenated shortening (depending on whether you want the frosting vegan or not), eggnog, rum, nutmeg and 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar. Add in more sugar if needed to make frosting stiff, but spreadable.
Spread on cupcakes and garnish with a sprinkle of nutmeg and cinnamon.


Here are the decorating instructions (brace yourself!):

Cupcakes
Sugar Cones
White Candy Melts
White Sugar crystals
Frosting
Pink Sugar crystals
Candy Canes
Fondant
Icing colors (I used Wilton Dusty Rose & )
Snowflake Sprinkles
Confetti Sprinkles
Cut off ends of the sugar cones, so the tree section is around 3 inches long. Use a serrated knife to carefully saw through without shattering the cone.
Dip cone sections in melted white candy coating. If you use a tall plastic cup, it will be easier to coat the entire cone.
Remove and let excess coating fall off.
Sprinkle white sugar crystals or sanding sugar over entire surface of the cone. Sprinkle over a large bowl and you can reuse the sprinkles.
Set on wax paper to dry completely. When dry, you can redip the bottoms to make sure the cone is completely coated.
Use 6 inch long candy canes and break the handles off so you are left with a straight piece that’s around 5 inches.
Cover cupcakes with tinted pink frosting.
Fill a small dish with the pink sugar crystals or sanding sugar and press cupcake tops into the dish until the entire surface is covered with sugar cyrstals.
Dip one end of the candy cane in some of the melted candy coating and insert the other end straight into the cupcake.
Place a Christmas Tree on top of the candy cane and let the candy coating dry and work like a glue.
If you want decorations, it would be a good idea to add them before you attach the tree. Just dot a small amount of coating on the surface and attach a colored sprinkle.
For presents, tint white fondant and shape the fondant into small squares by hand. Then use some of the white fondant, roll it out and use a knife to cut thin strips for ribbon. Attach the white fondant ribbon to the presents with a small dab of water. Then attach the snowflake sprinkles the same way.
Remember, use dense cupcakes instead of light and fluffy ones so the trees will not want to tip.
Or skip the candy canes, use the entire sugar cone and make big trees. Then you won’t have to worry.

Our snowman cake pops were a heinous disaster. We made like six moderately cute ones (and delicious according to those who ate them), but there will be no pictures. Word to the wise: do not experiment with cake pops when you're entertaining. Try it (and PRACTICE) when no one will have to see them. Whoever claims they are easy is lying.

One last super strong recommendation: bite-sized baked brie. Whitegirlproblems would die of awe at these. The recipe speaks for itself:

2 sheets puff pastry, thawed but still cold
1/2 wedge of brie, cold
1/3 cup cherry jam (or any flavor you fancy!)
1 large egg, beaten
splash of milk

I erased the instructions because literally you just put brie in some puff pastry with jam (optional) and bake it. Easy peasy. But recipe is bellow if you're a stickler for instructions.


I don't have a picture of ours but check out Joy the Baker's photos at http://www.joythebaker.com/blog/2011/12/bite-sized-baked-brie/

I'll leave you with a photo of the hosts and a friend at the party itself:


Now goodnight, Merry Christmas, and happy baking!

xoxo
Katey




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