Pumpkin Almond Chocolate Covered Cake Balls (or “How a Cheap Box Cake Became Something Totally Amazing”).

cake balls closeSo, the weekend after Halloween, I was browsing the cheap residual tricks and treats left on the shelves of the store, seeing if there was anything worth spending 92 cents on, when I came across a super discounted pumpkin box cake Yes, folks, a box cake. And guess what? That’s right, I bought it. It was the right price, and truth be told, box cakes do make pretty good cakes. Do I feel like I’m cheating when I make them? A little. But I told myself that this would be completely acceptable in this case, as long as I found something creative to do with it. And, by jove, I think I did.

I decided to bake the cake into two 8″ rounds. I froze one, and crumbled up the other one in a large mixing bowl. Remember that almond butter buttercream I made for the almond cupcakes? I still had about half of that left, so I threw that into the bowl, and rolled the mix into cake balls.

pumpkin + almond = TLF

pumpkin + almond = TLF

Next, I put them in the fridge for a bit, so they solidified a little and became “dippable.” (that might not be a word). Next, I dipped them in melted white chocolate.

the base coat.

the base coat.

I let them sit until the chocolate hardened. Then, I melted some dark chocolate, and drizzled it on top.

the finishing touch.

the finishing touch.

I let the dark chocolate harden as well, then put them back into the fridge for a bit more, to be 100% sure they were good to go. I then removed them, packed them up, and brought them to a party. They truly made the perfect party dessert – easy to transport and easy to eat without a mess! From box cake to beyond!

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Seeing Stars.

pops pink2

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post (Star-Glazing) about how I was asked to make chocolate covered star-shaped cake pops. Never one to turn down a challege, I accepted the task and enthusiastically dove right in. I Well, the time has come, and the pops have been made. But not without a bit of drama. I mean, that’s what being a star’s all about, right?

I should have taken a picture of the natural disaster-like conditions that had taken form in my kitchen. Chocolate was everywhere; cake was everywhere; sprinkles (those tiny little ball-shaped ones used on nonpareils) were everywhere and then some. I literally had to vacuum my kitchen (it has hardwood floors). Not to mention the lack of sleep. But ultimately, in the end, the huge mess was worth it. Through all the hard work, the sleepless nights, the cleaning up again and again, a star was born. Kinda like life.

These stars came in three varieties:

dark chocolate…

the stars are bright and big at night.

stars shining right above you…

…purple….

the stars are bright, and big at night.

the stars are bright, and big at night.

…and pink.

pretty in pink, isn't she...

pretty in pink, isn’t she…

Sometimes, wishes do come true – you just have to be willing to work for it…and have lots of patience..

Star-Glazing.

As I mentioned in my last post, I was working on star-shaped cake pops, and my first attempt had not gone quite as planned. There was some breakage and a little star and stick detachment. However, I didn’t give up. After a period of rest and regrouping, I returned to the kitchen with a new plan of attack. I made a handful more “cake stars” using a star shaped cookie cutter. I let them chill in the fridge for a bit. I melted the chocolate (a different kind this time). I dipped the sticks, and inserted them into the stars. I put the stars-on-sticks back in the fridge to chill a little longer. I re-warmed the chocolate. I removed the star-pops from the fridge and dipped each one in. They remained intact and on their respective sticks. The experiment is complete and the results are favorable. Star-shaped cake pops are now a reality. It only took courage, proper planning, patience, and an indomitable spirit. I suppose this is what it takes to be a star. 🙂

and we all shine on.

Counting Stars.

I know I haven’t posted in over a week, and I’m sorry. It’s been a bit crazy here in southern New Jersey, as you can probably guess if you’ve seen any of the news at all recently. Thankfully, I sustained no damage nor did I lose power for more than 2 minutes during the entire seemingly endless and devastatingly infamous Hurricane Sandy. Some of my friends and family were not so lucky. I will say this – people are always dissin’ on the Jerz, saying we’re angry and drive like maniacs, etc. However in times of trouble, we’re like a super state of hard-working best friends, all in it together. The genorosity and kindness I’ve seen and experienced during the past week and half have warmed my heart and yes, even brought me to tears. People are inherently good – I have always believed that.

Anyway, I haven’t done much baking, but the other day I was asked by a friend if I could make star-shaped cake pops that looked like magic wands. Honestly, I had no idea if I could do such a thing, so I told her I’d give it a try. I got the shaping of the cake part down pat.

twinkle, twinkle.

However, the chocolate I had was just not working for these, and each time I dipped them, they came off the stick, and one even broke into pieces. However, I made a bunch more, and I’m going to keep trying until I achieve cake-star-magic-wand perfection. I don’t give up that easily. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. And by jove, I will do this right, if it takes 1000 stars. I sure hope it doesn’t take that many, though.

To be continued….

Save the Cake!!

I’m beginning to get a bit of a reputation among my baking friends and colleagues as a kind of “cake environmentalist,” in regards to my love of saving and reusing leftover cake scraps. In school, they nicknamed me “the leftover queen” because I couldn’t bear to throw anything away, and always wound up taking bags of dough, cake scraps, fillings, mousse, whatever – home with me. And truth be told, it rarely went to waste. Often times I was able to use it in another dessert concoction. Other times, I just ate it. At least it didn’t wind up in the trash.

Anyway, last week, a baking friend of mine (who, let me just say is the best cake sculptor I know – just check out her photos at Sweet Simplicity Cakes) was working on a wedding cake, and wound up with some leftover cake scraps. She texted me immediately and asked if I wanted them, to which I replied “Abso-freaking-lutely!” So she bagged the scraps and brought them to me. Granted, she did tell me there were a lot, but I was still not prepared for what I was presented with – the motherload of cake scraps. O joyous day!

bags of cake!

I carried the bag of bags home (it was not light, I tell ya), and I started thinking about what to do with them. A week went by, and I found that all I’d done was eat half of one of the bags, grabbing a scrap or two every time I opened the fridge. This was NOT going well. Something had to be done, ASAP. So tonight, I mixed one of the bags with some leftover cream cheese icing I had, and made cake balls.

balls of cake!

I dipped them in chocolate (milk and white) and sprinkled them with a little Halloween flair to keep things seasonal.

chocolate covered balls of cake! with sprinkles!

And then I ate two of them. So much for that 10 mile run today…

Everybody’s Baking for the Weekend.

So this past weekend was an extra busy one in the kitchen! Not only did I have many things to bake, but I’m getting ready to go on my big European Vacation, so I was cleaning and putting everything away. There’s nothing  worse than coming home from a trip to a messy house – I’ve done it, and it just makes life a lot more stressful. When I come home, I just want to unpack, and relax – not clean up the mess I left for myself before I left for the trip.

Anyway, back to baking. So, this weekend, I started off with Chocolate Pixie Cakes. These were chocolate cake, with buttercream, covered in white chocolate, and drizzled with milk chocolate.

extreme makeover – chocolate edition.

Next up, were Red Velvet Pixie Cakes. These were red velvet cake, with buttercream, covered in white chocolate, and drizzled with pink chocolate.

wedding day perfect.

And last, but not even close to least – cinnamon chip cookies. I used my top secret chocolate chip cookie recipe (which you can find on the blog, here), but replaced the chocolate chips with cinnamon chips.

cookie confidential.

And now, I’m off to another continent, to visit castles, eat pastries, and ponder what I’m going to with my life. 🙂

Au revoir!

Embrace Your Inner Pixie.

When I was a wee lass, my nickname was “Tinks” which was short for “Tinkerbell.” I was christened with this delightful moniker by my dad, who I guess thought I looked like Tinkerbell, or reminded him of Tinkerbell in some way. I wonder if it was because I regularly attempted to fly by jumping off the porch. I was so sure one day, it would work.

a real life pixie.

Flash forward to today. I’m no longer a wee lass, however, I have never forgotten my pixie alter ego. I’ve even gone so far as incorporating it into my daily adult life (no, I’m not still jumping off the porch): through the beauty of Pixie Cakes.

I’ve definitely mentioned Pixie Cakes before, multiple times, but just in case you missed it, a Pixie Cake is a cake ball, mixed with icing, covered in chocolate and sprinkled with chocolate and “Pixie” dust. They have also recently become my best seller.

the most recent Pixie Cakes!

And so we have come full circle: from a childhood pixie jumping off the porch attempting to fly; to an adult pixie cake baker, who has been flying all along, but just didn’t know it.

Embrace your inner pixie: take that jump off the edge that you’ve always dreamed of; and have a Pixie Cake while you’re at it. 🙂

The Power of Pixies.

So the other night, I participated in WHYY’s Best of Chefs Event, as I mentioned in my last post. The event was a blast! It was organized, fun, well-attended and also provided me with a serendiptious opportunity to do some market research. Allow me to explain: I made an assortment of Pixie Cakes, in the following flavors:

Chocolate Pixies

Chocolate cake mixed with buttercream icing, dipped in dark chocolate, with chocolate sprinkles.

Vanilla Pixies

Vanilla cake mixed with buttercream icing, dipped in white chocolate, sprinkled with sugar.

Red Velvet Pixies

Red Velvet cake mixed with buttercream icing, dipped in white chocolate, sprinkled with red sugar.

Cookies and Cream Pixies

Chocolate cake mixed with cookies and buttercream icing, rolled in cookie crumbs.

and Coconut Pixies.

Vanilla cake mixed with coconut buttercream, dipped in white chocolate, and sprinkled with coconut.

I placed them all on a tray, as so:

Pixies on a plate.

Now here’s where it got interesting: the doors opened and the crowd shuffled in. As they approached my table, one after another after another went straight for the Red Velvet. And if it wasn’t the Red Velvet, it was the good old fashioned Chocolate. Now by mere coincidence, I made more of the Red Velvets than any of the others; but it didn’t matter – I ran out of them first, and people were coming back and asking me if there were anymore! When I told them I ran out, they were only dejected for a second, and then just sampled another flavor instead (and liked it!).

The moral of the story: cake is great, but Red Velvet rules.

The people have spoken.

Best of the Chefs!

It’s a busy week ahead for Small Indulgences!

I’ve begun planning and preparing for WHYY’s Best of the Chefs event, this coming Thursday, June 21st! Here’s a sneak peek of some of the sweets I’ll be contributing for your noshing pleasure:

pixie cakes!!

The event features local Philadelphia area chefs, serving up their delicious tasty bites, all for a chance to be crowned Best of the Chefs! And to top it off, all the proceeds benefit WHYY, which, personally I’ve loved since I was a child. If not for WHYY (affectionately known as “channel 12”), I would not have known Sesame Street. And that would have been a sad life.

This event is selling out fast, but tickets are still available! Again, it’s this Thursday, June 21st, from 7pm – 9pm. Below is the event flyer, with all the details! Hope to see all you Philly peeps there, supporting local chefs, and the awesome and educational WHYY!

Punk Rock Flea Market!

Tomorrow (Sunday, May 13th), I’ll be at the Punk Rock Flea Market, selling my book and even some baked goods. If you happen to be in the Philadelphia area, and maybe need a last minute gift for mom, the flea market is THE place to be. Besides my lovely cookbook and delightful assortment of baked goods (including White Chocolate Pixie Cakes, Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Red Velvet Mini Cupcakes), you’ll find tons of options for even the hardest to please hard-core punk-mom. Here are the specifics:

The Punk Rock Flea Market.

when: Saturday, May 13th, 10am to 5pm

where: The Punk Rock Flea Market Dome  (461 N 9th Street – Right Across From The Starlight Ballroom),

misc: $3 Admission Donation.

website: http://www.r5productions.com/event/101883/?utm_source=fb1&utm_medium=shr

enticing photos:

a cookie classic.

many many mini red velvets.

pretty in pink pixies.

So what are you waiting for? Come out and get your treat on – like a real punk.