Buttery Shortbread Cookies

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Cookies | July 24, 2017 | By

Hey guys!! It’s been awhile. Here’s why- 

A few weeks ago my best friend in the whole world got married to the man of her dreams. It was an incredible wedding, and also made for a very hectic few weeks! 

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Also, I just spent an amazing week in Seattle at a conference with some of my favorite co-workers! The conference was so good, and I got to meet some of my SEO heroes, which was so exciting. 

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Anywho, today I’m keeping things simple. I’ve only been back home from Seattle for a couple days, and somehow still feel exhausted, so I’m taking the easy road on this one. Still though, this recipe is a great one to have in your back pocket. 

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Shortbread cookies are buttery, lightly sweet, and they don’t have any eggs which means a few things- one is that if you are out of eggs, it’s ok. Two is that if you’ve got kiddos, this dough is a bit more safe to eat raw, plus you can roll and cut it into shapes!

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I feel like shortbread cookies are pretty elegant honestly. You can flavor them with anything- vanilla, lemon, almond, thyme, rosemary, honey- literally anything you like. I’ve chosen vanilla with a hint of lemon extract for this go around. 

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Experiment with them, bake em up, enjoy em anytime guys! 

Buttery Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups softened butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon extract
  • 3 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, beat together the butter and powdered sugar until smooth.
  • Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon extract, or the flavorings of your choice.
  • Beat in the flour and salt until a soft dough forms.
  • Divide the dough in half, and form each half into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap, and chill for 30-45 minutes. (I know chilling dough sucks, but it does matter for this one, I promise!)
  • Preheat your oven to 325 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment or a non-stick sheet.
  • Roll one half of the dough out to about 1/4 inch-1/2 inch thick, and cut into your desired shapes.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are just golden. Cool and serve!
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Succulent Cake

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Cake | June 26, 2017 | By

Hi guys!!

I’m sharing something really fun today. A few weeks ago, I decided I would attempt to make a succulent decorated cake as a thank you to a friend who happens to love succulents. He and his wife bought me an adorable wood cupcake stand at Magnolia Market when they were visiting! (EEK, I dream about going there).  Sidenote- this friend, Chaz, always calls succulents “succies,” which we all thought was something he had made up, but it turns out that’s a real thing (what??). Seriously, search for it on Instagram and get amazed. 

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I want to preface this by saying that I have never once made a frosting rose or flower or plant or anything event remotely like this before. It took some practice and trial and error, but I’m so excited about the end result you guys, I was standing in my kitchen that night thinking “wait… wait. I made this??”

So, today I’m not actually including a recipe, I’m just sharing some pictures and the links to the tutorials that I used, as well as the list of tips that I used. The tutorials that I used were honestly way better than anything I could put together on my own to post here since this was the first time I’ve worked with literally any of these tips, or a flower nail even. 

So, here’s a few tips that I came up with during my adventure here: 

  • Use a flower nail. Seriously, I considered trying to pipe the plants directly on the cake, and now that I’ve used the flower nail it seems like it would be IMPOSSIBLE without it. 
  • Do it on a day when your house isn’t too hot. Mine was pretty darn toasty as we hadn’t gotten our swamp cooler up and running for the season yet, and I really think it would have been easier if my frosting didn’t keep melting. 
  • Freeze your flowers before placing them on the cake. Again, I’m just not sure how people do this otherwise, but it was a huge help to me when it came to taking them off the parchment and placing them on the cake. 

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Let’s start with the tutorials that I used: 

  • Tutorial one- From Wilton: There’s a video on the sidebar that was super helpful to me in figuring out how to stripe the frosting, and how to generally hold and use all the tips for each type of flower/plant.
  • Tutorial two- From Craftsy: Another SUPER helpful page- this one has fantastic step-by-step photos on how each part of your piping adventure should look!

And now let’s move on to the tips that I used on this cake: 

  • Wilton 233: For the grassy-looking stuff that is filling in most of the cake. 
  • Wilton 352: For the spiky-looking green plants.
  • Ateco 61: For the roses. 
  • Wilton 21: For the multi-colored wavy blob thing in the back. (clearly this wasn’t my fav plant on the cake ha).

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I hope you guys try this out! It’s probably the coolest thing I’ve ever done as a baker, and now I’m pretty pumped to find other occasions to do it again!

Berries and Cream Layer Cake

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Berries, Cake | April 24, 2017 | By

I guess you could say I’m on a bit of a cake kick lately. I’ve almost completely finished the cake section of my cookbook, and I think my office may or may not be getting sick of it haha. Today, it’s a cake just for you guys though! 

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So, here’s the deal with this cake. There’s a certain cake that a certain fancier grocery retailer sells in the springtime- it has chantilly cream and lots of berries, and it’s SUPER popular. Secret time- I have never had this cake. But, I wanted to create something similar, or at least what I think is probably similar based on what I know of said cake. 

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Anyways, my version has a sweetened vanilla custard cream, strawberries, raspberries, and fluffy white cake. It feels springy to me, and the cake is soft and lightly sweet. The cream is fluffy and smooth, and it’s overall a simple and tasty combo. 

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I’m writing this on a Sunday evening, and I’ve been baking all day long- much more than just this cake. I’m exhausted, and pretty unsure if I’ll ever get up from my current spot on the couch, snuggling with my pupper. Well, back to pretending tomorrow isn’t Monday- enjoy guys! 

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Berries and Cream Layer Cake

Ingredients

  • For the cake:
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 egg whites
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • For the cream filling/frosting:
  • 1 8oz. package of cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 10-15 strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 pint of raspberries

Instructions

  • For the cake:
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease three 6-inch pans.
  • In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add in the egg whites, and beat for 3-4 minutes, or until the mixture is completely smooth.
  • Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix into the butter mixture until completely incorporated.
  • Beat in the sour cream and heavy cream until the batter is smooth.
  • Evenly divide the batter between your three pans, and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool completely before frosting.
  • For the cream filling/frosting:
  • In a large bowl, whip the cream cheese and heavy cream until soft peaks form.
  • Add in the vanilla, sugar, and instant pudding mix. Beat several minutes, until the cream is thick.
  • Between each layer of cake, add a thick layer of the cream, and then a layer of the sliced strawberries and raspberries.
  • Frost the outside as desired!
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Celebration Cake and Big News

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Cake | March 30, 2017 | By

Sometimes you just want to be fancy. And sometimes things in life just deserve some small amount of fanciness, and you just must oblige with a cake. Look guys, those are just the rules, I didn’t make ’em! But apparently I’m here to enforce them..? Whatever. 

Vanilla Layer Cake

Here’s the first thing, buy yourself some 6 inch round cake pans, it’s just nice. Like, this recipe can be made using two 8 inch standard pans, but it seems a bit less fancy. You know what I said about being fancy guys. And with 6-inch pans, you can make these tall, pretty cakes without having to make, like, a ton of cake. 

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Alright so, now that we’ve got the fancy down, I have some exciting news to share. A couple of days ago I officially signed the paperwork, and I’m now working on publishing a cookbook! I’m working with Graphic Arts Books, and it’s going to be like, a real cookbook, that they sell in real stores you guys. IT’S CRAZY. 

This is something I’ve wanted for a really long time, but I’ve always thought of it as a long-term goal, and it’s kind of blowing my mind still. I’ve been baking nearly every day of the week because I am insanely excited (my co-workers are reaping some sweet rewards right now). 

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

I’ll share more about the book later on, once we’re a bit further into the process, but I will say that our anticipated release will be in October of 2018! EEEEE!

Alright, back to the cake, I’m calling it the celebration cake, cause, well you know. Anyways here’s the deal; it has sweet vanilla pound cake layers, thin layers of raspberry jam, and chocolate swiss meringue buttercream. It’s everything. 

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On the buttercream- listen, every single time I have ever made swiss meringue buttercream, I’ve been 99% sure I screwed it up. I always think to myself “Alright it’s cool, I have more eggs and butter, I’ll try again. Imma just whip it a little longer and then give up.” And then I walk away and come back, and it’s magically become this silky, beautiful frosting. Don’t. Give. Up. It looks weird for a while, and all broken and messed up, but it’ll come back together, really. 

Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Cake with Sprinkles

I hope today you have something to celebrate, and it’s totally okay if that something is that it’s Thursday. Enjoy!

Celebration Cake and Big News

Ingredients

  • For the cake:
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 12 tbs. softened butter
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tbs. whole milk
  • For the frosting and filling:
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 oz. dark chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup raspberry jam

Instructions

  • For the cake:
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease three 6 inch cake pans, or two 8 inch cake pans.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract.
  • Add in the flour mixture and the whole milk alternating, starting and ending with the flour. Beat for 1-2 extra minutes, until the batter is very smooth.
  • Divide the batter evenly into each of your cake pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes for 6 inch pans, or for 45 minutes for 8 inch pans, until a cake tester comes out clean.
  • Cool cakes slightly, and then turn them out of the pans. Wrap in plastic wrap, and freeze for 30-45 minutes, so the cakes are easier to work with.
  • For the frosting:
  • Over a double broiler, whisk the egg whites and sugar until the mixture reaches 160 degrees.
  • Transfer the mixture to a stand mixer, or use a hand mixer, Using the whisk attachment, beat the mixture until it has completely cooled, and forms stiff peeks.
  • Switch to the paddle attachment. One tablespoon at a time, add in the softened butter.
  • The mixture will begin to look thin and separated. Continue to beat for 5-10 minutes, until the mixture comes back together and becomes light and fluffy.
  • Add in the vanilla extract and melted chocolate. Beat for several minutes until the chocolate is completely incorporated.
  • To assemble the cake:
  • Trim your cakes so they are flat on top.
  • Place your first layer on your plate or cake stand. Spread half of the raspberry jam onto the cake in an even, thin layer. Top with about 1/3 cup of frosting.
  • Repeat this process for the second layer.
  • Top with the final layer of cake, and frost top and sides with remaining frosting. Gently drag a small spatula around the cake to create the ringed look.
  • Top with sprinkles for extra fancy.
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Salted Chocolate Covered Graham Crackers

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Chocolate | March 8, 2017 | By

Sometimes simple is good. 

But more importantly, simple things are easy to make. And when you want a chocolate covered graham cracker, you probably want it immediately. Or you could be normal and go to a candy store the day after tomorrow, whatever. 

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I just got back from a trip to California to see my husband’s grandparents, and I think we hit every candy store within a 50 mile radius. You might think thats probably only like one, but it’s more like 10. And somehow even after going to 9 candy stores, we still bought stuff at the 10th. 

My favorites are always chocolate covered graham crackers. Those things are crack you guys. So naturally, after the 18 hour drive home, and a day without food in my house, all the ones I bought are gone, and I still want more. You guys feel really bad for me, right?

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Anyways, turns out they are super easy to make, which I know shocks no one, and also that sprinkling some coarse salt on top makes them even better somehow. 

I used 24 oz of chocolate to make about 36 chocolate covered grahams here, but if you feel like you don’t need that many, (you are wrong) just ya know, melt less chocolate and go with it. Also, I suggest using chocolate that you like to eat. The first time I did this, I used something really cheap, and it didn’t taste nearly as good as I hoped. Since it’s just a coating of chocolate, it’s worth it to go for the good stuff.

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Anyways, it’s pretty straight forward; melt the chocolate, dip the grahams, shake off the excess, salt and chill. Enjoy!

Salted Chocolate Covered Graham Crackers

Ingredients

  • 24 oz. quality semi-sweet chocolate
  • 36 squares of graham crackers
  • Coarse salt for sprinkling

Instructions

  • In a medium dish, (I used a glass loaf pan) melt 3/4 of the chocolate in the microwave. Melt it in 30 second increments to ensure that you do not over-melt.
  • Then, stir in the remaining chocolate until melted completely.
  • With a fork, dip the graham crackers into the chocolate until coated. Lift out of the chocolate, and tap on the side of the dish to let excess chocolate drip off.
  • Slide the dipped cracker off the fork and onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Sprinkle with salt immediately.
  • Once you fill a sheet, chill until the chocolate has set.
  • Store in the refrigerator.
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