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Archive for the ‘Cupcakes & Cakes’ Category

It’s nothing really. I just had a few extra pink cake layers. And you know what they say—when life hands you cake, make balls.

I’m not a cake decorator. So when people ask me to make cake for their special occasions, I refer them to Jamiecakes or Hy-Vee. But once in a while Jamiecakes can’t take anymore orders and I say yes to making a reveal cake for a family friend. The ultrasound was in the morning and they wanted the cake that night so I knew I needed to be ready with pink cake layers and blue cake layers because I wouldn’t have time during the day to bake.

It’s a boy! Which is why I had extra pink cake layers in my freezer, taking up valuable space that could be used for mocha cakes from Flandreau Bakery or cheesecakes. I was going to throw them out but I decided to tear them up, stir in a bunch of vanilla frosting, and make cake pops. It wasn’t as irritatingly tedious as I thought it would be. Although, I had intentions of actually making pops that weren’t upside down but I started the dipping process and realized I forgot to bring in a piece of styrofoam to hold them upright to dry. Oh well, I don’t think the gravity changed the flavor.

My daughter and I each ate one and we gave the rest away in random, special deliveries. I don’t have a specific recipe for cake balls. But this is what I did and how you can do it:

Cake Balls or Pops 

pre-made cake

one or two canisters of vanilla frosting

2 or more bags of Wilton pink candy melts

sprinkles

cake pop sticks

piece of styrofoam if you want the pops to be upright

  1. Line a pan that will fit in your freezer with wax paper to set the balls on.
  2. Crumble two 9-inch cake layers into a bowl (mine were homemade cakes but you could simply bake a box cake and use the entire cake – you don’t need layers, just cake to break up).
  3. Stir in at least one can of vanilla frosting (I used one and a half cans but it really depends on how much cake you have). You want this to be creamy, almost more frosting than cake really.
  4. Shape into balls, smaller than a golf ball but larger than a marble. Place on wax paper and set pan in freezer for approximately 15 minutes.
  5. Melt candy melts over low heat.
  6. Dip a stick into the candy melts, covering about one-fourth of the stick, and insert into semi frozen cake pop. Set pops on pan and put back in the freezer until fully frozen, at least 30 minutes. Keep candy melts warm. Add a few drops of vegetable oil to the candy melts to thin it out a little for dipping.
  7. Once cake balls are frozen, gently dip once into candy melts, fully covering the ball and letting excess drip off. Scatter sprinkles onto ball and place back on pan or insert upright into a piece of styrofoam (do a good job of tapping off excess). You’ll want to work this process quickly because once the balls start to defrost, they’ll fall off the stick when you are dipping.
  8. Let cool and set. Best eaten at room temperature. Can be stored in the freezer or refrigerator.

*****

Sweet wishes,

Staci

 

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My initial, snarkier title to this story was, “Stop whining about your life: get off your ass and do something about how miserable you are.” But I didn’t want to turn anyone off or put a damper on someone’s never-ending pity party. At least not until they read a sentence or two. After all, there is dessert at the end.

cherry crunchobblerumble

So after three weeks of writing this post, I deleted almost every word.

cherry pie filling in jars

Spoon pie filling into jars

I reminded myself that it’s really none of my business when someone who was in complete control of their own destiny acts as if someone else controlled their misery—as if they were a puppet on a rusty barbed wire. Instead of being judgmental and sad for a person who has so many regrets in life, I decided to spit my bitter pill across the kitchen, reflect on my own life, and just be thankful.

cake mix in jars

Sprinkle dry cake mix on top of filling

Thankful that after all the mistakes I’ve made, and as the smoke lingers from the unfortunate and life-changing things that I’ve dealt with, I have faith that I am right where I need to be. After all, the things I’ve done right outweigh any of my misjudgments.

melted butter on cake mix

Drizzle melted butter onto cake mix

Take if from someone who’s made some really awful choices and had to bust their ass to get through college as a single mom in their late 20s because of my own decisions and actions in my teens and 20s—success doesn’t come easy.

Successful people work hard and I can guarantee they have been so sleep deprived that they wear their shirt inside out and backwards in public, been stressed to their limits, been so frustrated they want to throw in the wet towel that’s weighing them down, have made tough and heartbreaking decisions which have led to unstoppable tears, sacrificed financial prosperity just to stay close to family, and persevered through many other sacrifices and harsh battles that only the few people closest to them know anything about.

baked cherry jars

Bake until golden brown

The happiness of life and loving family and friends prevail, and that alone is victory.

cherry crunchobblerumble

The “poor me I didn’t get to live my life like I wanted” story has gotten old. And I take my own advice. When I find myself complaining about the same thing time and time again, there comes a point where I need to take action or shut up.

Is your picnic basket old and cracked and you think it isn’t strong enough to carry something sweet? I bet it’s vintage and there are a hundred stories behind its tattered appearance. Cherish those stories of picnics, family reunions, lake days, and road trips taken. Strengthen it with a block of wood and get to your picnic. If it just doesn’t work anymore, toss dessert into a paper bag and get on with your life.

(Read “Do not call it pie, it’s cherry crunchobblerumble” to find out how it got its name.)

Cherry Crunchobblerumble in 4-ounce jars

30-ounce can cherry pie filling

1-1/2 cups dry yellow cake mix

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  1. Heat oven to 350°.
  2. Lightly grease eight, 4-ounce canning jars and set on a baking sheet.
  3. Evenly divide and spoon pie filling into jars.
  4. Sprinkle dry cake mix on top of filling, leaving approximately 1/4 to 1/2 inch open at the top.
  5. With a spoon, lightly sprinkle the melted butter over the dry cake mix, until all the dry mix has butter on it. You can spread it a little with the spoon.
  6. Bake at 350° for 20-23 minutes, or just until the tops are light golden brown.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool completely before you put the lids on.
  8. Leave the covered jars at room temperature for a day or two, or stick them in the refrigerator.

Sweet and snarky wishes with no regrets,

Staci

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Earlier this week I was passive-aggressively called heartless, rude, and arrogant by a grandmother and her (adult) daughter. Their Facebook pity party began with what was a concise, grammatically correct response from me to a text message. In the swift, and still puzzling response to me, I thought at first it wasn’t even intended for me. It was almost as if her finger had already pounded out the hateful words and her finger was on the trigger before I even responded. And her mother, well it only took THREE minutes before she took to Facebook to (passive-aggressively) attempt to demean this HEARTLESS, RUDE, and ARROGANT person (me) and express her wishes about bad KARMA on this nasty person (me).

plum cake

And you know what, it only took SECONDS for people to agree, comment, assess the situation which they knew nothing about, and help these two bullies stir their big, insecure, pot of disdain. Was it the swift and concise manner in which I responded? Or was it the proper grammar? In my experience as a communications professional, using phrases such as, “…as I was the one who…” can be perceived as being arrogant by circles of people who commonly use phrases like, “…ain’t no one told me.”

IMG_3806

Anyway, I am trying to think positive thoughts and not let this hurt me, but who’s kidding? I’m not offended by these two women because they are the kind who gossip, talk about people behind their backs, complain about bullies but are ones themselves, and will tell you anything you want to know about someone’s personal lives – who’s sleeping with whose husband, who is battling depression, whatever you want to know. But when people you know innocently rally around your haters, it’s going to sting. I even thought about posting the word-for-word text conversation that led to this bitterness so that people would truly have the opportunity to judge, but I tend to be one who (not easily) refuses to lower myself to levels such as this. So I’ll just take this as a good reminder that we shouldn’t be too quick to help stir other’s pots of hatred. We never know what heartless, rude, arrogant people are behind their pitiful campaigns.

So instead, I came home and enjoyed a delicious piece of plum cake that my friend Tracey made for me last week. Here’s the positive story I want to share with you – Quite a few years ago, I met this crazy fun Southern girl. (She uses words like “commode” and “cellular unit.”) We instantly bonded when we realized that we had the same childhood love for a certain plum cake made with BABY FOOD. For reasons only he knows, God brings people (and sisters!) into your life who bring you joy and true, honest friendship. People who are constant cheerleaders for all your dreams, friends who can have thoughtful conversations that don’t include gossip and bad-mouthing others. People who will bake cake for you. Keep those friends.

friends at hockey

Surround yourself with THOSE people.

sister

Stir their pot of goodness until it runneth over.

Kalli

Plum Cake

(As given to me by my mother, Linda Moe)

Cake

1 cup vegetable oil

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoons red food coloring

2 small jars plum baby food (If you can’t find plum, Tracey used plum/banana/apple or something like that as a substitute.)

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon cloves

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Icing

1/4 cup margarine

1/4 cup confectioners (powdered) sugar

2 tablespoons milk

pinch of salt

  1. Mix oil, sugar, eggs. Add vanilla, food coloring, and plum baby food. Mix well. Blend in dry ingredients. Stir in nuts.
  2. Pour into a well-greased and floured Bundt pan. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until cake tester comes out clean.
  3. For the icing: simmer margarine, sugar, milk, and salt for 3 minutes. Drizzle over cake while warm.

Sweet karma wishes,

Staci

I welcome positive comments on this post. Negative comments will be deleted. 

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Another year leaves us with a trail of flour dust and kitchen memories. We’ve read enough “Top 10 recipes of 2014” articles to set our Pinterest boards on fire. Maybe you want to know my most popular recipes for the past 12 months but for now, let’s have fun with the 24 most curious and amusing search terms that brought people to Random Sweetness Baking in 2014.

The searches that made me laugh. 

I’m guessing the following searches brought people to my second most popular recipe in 2014, I was a better than sex cake virgin:

  1. “How long does better than sex cake last in fridge?” In my house, a day if we’re all home. At the office, within minutes of an instant message announcing its arrival. But I suppose it could last a couple of days in the fridge before it would get soggy.
  2. “Better than whatever cake” Clearly, this person already knew there are multiple names for better than sex cake.
  3. “Is there a recipe for virgin cake or is there a virgin cake recipe like the better than sex cake?” I’m so confused.
  4. “Virgin first time sex” I hope this guy’s wife doesn’t look at his Internet search history. Maybe he should spend more time in the kitchen baking cake.

Better than sex cake

The next one made me laugh AND tell my sisters:

5. “Why do old people like bran muffins?”

6. “Bran muffins for elderly”

Bran muffins aren’t just for old people and raisins ruin everything probably didn’t answer their questions because I didn’t talk about the benefits of fiber.

bran muffins | Random Sweetness Baking

My third most popular recipe in 2014 drew in a lot of people from searches for buffalo chicken dip with ranch, chilled buffalo chicken ranch dip, chicken wing dip with ranch, buffalo chicken dip for 16 people, buffalo chicken dip without blue cheese, and many others like:

7. “Can you make buffalo chicken dip with dark meat?” Yes, of course you can!

8. “Blue cheese dressing without blue cheese in it” Since I don’t eat blue cheese dressing, my suggestion is to just make the dressing but don’t add the crumbled cheese. Or seriously, don’t eat it at all.

9. “I want to make buffalo chicken dip but I don’t have any ranch dressing” Oh bummer! Then you can’t make my version but here’s a recipe from Food Network for buffalo chicken dip with blue cheese and no ranch.

Buffalo ranch chicken dip | Random Sweetness Baking

10. “Make celery sweeter” I’m not a dietician but celery is a vegetable. Maybe add peanut butter and chocolate chips if you want it sweeter? But here’s how I use celery in my simple tuna salad sandwich, my kids’ favorite homemade chicken noodle soup with healing powers, and crunchy ex-in-law broccoli ranch salad.

Broccoli Cauliflower Salad

11. “Random shit you can bake” Ha ha! I’m picturing a sprightly redhead sitting at the nail salon waiting for the paint to dry on her toes, passing time on her phone and suddenly deciding to bake something when she gets home.

12. “I want to bake something sweet” Me too, me too! I’m glad you found me and I’m hoping you found some random sweets you can bake! How about making the #1 recipe on Random Sweetness Baking, Marshmallow Creme Crunch Brownies?

Marshmallow Creme Crunch Brownies

13. “Can kids have tequila lime chicken?” I won’t laugh because I’m sure there’s a concerned parent out there who didn’t know that alcohol burns off in the cooking process.

14.  “How do Mexicans make chicken street tacos?” I don’t know but this is how Minnesotans make chicken street tacos with cilantro and red onion.

cilantro lime chicken tacos

The searches that hopefully led to answers.

15. “Hershey’s Kisses won’t melt turned hard” It sounds like you passed that crucial melting point where the Kiss got hard and then there’s no turning back. Read about it in my recipe for mint pretzel Kisses.

mint pretzel Kisses

16. “If you bake a Hershey’s Kiss in a cupcake does it turn hard after cooling?” I’ve never baked a Kiss in a cupcake but I’m certain it would turn hard when it cools.

17. “Can you make cream cheese deli meat wrap a day in advance?” You certainly can. And in my recipe for crunchy deli wraps, I suggest that you can store the wraps in the refrigerator or a cooler for up to 12 hours. That’s why they are terrific for camping or picnics.

veggie and deli meat wraps

18. “Can I put baking dish from fridge into oven?” It depends on the pan. Never put a glass dish from the refrigerator directly to the oven or you risk the potential for the glass to shatter. But I think metal or stone would be ok. For example, if you prepare smoky ham and cheddar hash brown casserole ahead of time, you could put it in the oven from the refrigerator if it’s in a metal or stone pan.

19. “Only like the Chex cereal in the mix how to just use the cereal” Then by all means, substitute Chex cereal for all the mixed nuts and pretzels in Chex mix.

Staci's version of Chex mix

20. “Cookies chocolate island” If you found a chocolate island that serves cookies, I want to GO! All I can do is give you chocolate island mint bars.

Chocolate Island Mint Bars

21. “Hershey’s skillet cookie for 1” How about something even better – bake this giant chocolate chip skillet cookie, slice into triangles, eat a few, and freeze the rest.

skillet chocolate chip cookie

22. “Chocolate stringy brownie cookie” What exactly is a stringy brownie cookie?

23. “Casserole for boys” The most requested casserole from the boys in my family is hot dog casserole.

24. “Cook slice hot dogs with chips on the side” See #23.

And that’s a wrap on 2014! It’s been a fun and fast year of sharing what’s going on in my kitchen. Thank you for reading and sharing with me. There’s nothing better than getting an email from you asking about a recipe or seeing you in the grocery store and you telling me you have ingredients on your list to make something from my blog. Or when you stop me at a hockey game and tell me that what I wrote made you laugh. It’s just you and me kid.

Hoping to see you around Random Sweetness Baking on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. Cheers to a new year!

Sweet & bubbly wishes,

Staci

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There is no better fall smell than filling your home with the comforting scent of spicy pumpkin, especially when the cozy aroma wafts from your oven, not a candle or an outlet. Before your house smells like turkey and scorched potatoes, start your Thanksgiving festivities with pumpkin streusel coffee cake.

A few years ago I baked this cake to celebrate a coworker’s birthday. After I got strange looks from people that morning, I found out I was supposed to have brought treats the day before; but once we sliced into the soft, warm-in-the-middle cake, they quickly forgave me. See, look at those beautiful, forgiving smiles.

The recipe is from VeryBestBaking.com., a website on which I have a recipe box overflowing with homestyle goodness. But here’s what sends it over the top — instead of using plain nuts in the streusel, I tossed in Praline Pumpkin Seed Crunch from King Arthur Flour. I don’t think they sell it anymore, but you could use any praline nuts like pecans or cashews and crush them up.

Cozy cake wishes,
Staci 

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I got an F in art in middle school and I avoided the subject in high school. As an adult and a mother, I realized I liked buying scrapbooking materials but I never actually scrapbooked. I’m not much of an interior decorator either. Mostly I just slap my framed black and white photography in the hallways and call it good.

So why in the world I thought I could create delicately adorned petits fours is beyond me. But when my friend Ann asked if I could make them for her stepdaughter’s wedding I said, “Sure, I’ll give them a try.”

imperfect petit fours

To see what petits fours [that you’d actually want to serve at your wedding] look like, check these out on Pinterest.

mess of petit fours

Maybe my confidence and enthusiasm came from the experience I’ve gained making hundreds, actually thousands, of baby cheesecakes like Key Lime Cheesecake with Patrón Sauce, Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake, and Deepest Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Honey Ganache.

A few things I learned in this process:

  • Making sheet cakes and cutting 1-inch by 1-inch squares with a knife just doesn’t work. They are too small to handle the weight of stacked layers covered with fondant, which turns them into leaning and tumbling towers of petits fours. Use a small round or square biscuit cutter instead.
  • It takes a lot more pourable fondant to smoothly cover each petit four than what you’d think. A lot.
  • Petits fours are remarkably more time-consuming to make and assemble than baby cheesecakes.

If you are up to the petit four challenge, these are the websites I used to get me though the trial and error process. Golden Vanilla Cake from King Arthur Flour – a cake that I would definitely bake again because of its full vanilla flavor and soft texture. I used seedless raspberry jam for the vanilla petit four layers.

For the chocolate petits fours, I baked my Heavenly Chocolate Cake and made the Whipped Chocolate Cream layer in these Chocolate Pomegranate Petits Fours from A Spicy Perspective.

For the icing on both the vanilla and chocolate cakes, I made White Chocolate Poured Fondant Icing from King Arthur Flour and used the tips in their their article, “Pointed pinkies only, please: petits fours with poured fondant icing.”

Although the square blobs of cake were a fail in the context of serving them at a wedding, they tasted fabulous. Maybe the bride will come around to offering her guests adorable little cheesecakes instead. Dun dun daadun, dun dun daadun…

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Remember that double chocolate pumpkin cake you made a few years ago? The one with pumpkin buttercream frosting so good you ate the bottom first just to save the best for last?

double chocolate cake with pumpkin buttercream

This time, do yourself a favor and save the recipe in your online recipe box, email it to yourself, or better yet print it and tape it inside your cupboard door. Because you WILL be looking for it again. Double Chocolate Pumpkin Cake with Pumpkin Spice Buttercream from Picky Palate

In addition to the cinnamon, I added a few scrapes of fresh nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice to the buttercream frosting. As stated in the recipe, you can make two 9×5 cake loaves, 24 cupcakes, or two 9-inch round cakes. I made eight mini loaves and two medium cake loaves. There’s plenty of frosting so smear it on thick like a redhead with a bottle of sunscreen.

Sweet fall wishes,
Staci

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