Monday, July 20, 2009

Dessert Contest

So, my aunt is having a dessert contest at her next party on August 9th, and I've been trying to find a good dessert to make. Although the most popular desserts seem to be chocolate, I'm not a big fan of chocolate on hot summer days, so I was looking for something that is cool and refreshing. Maybe something with strawberries. There is a strawberry dessert that I make often that is always a hit, but it's something my family has all had before.

Or I could do a cold chocolate, like a pudding. But not a cake - I don't think cakes really go over well either.

Or a lemon dessert - that's refreshing. Citrus.

Can I make something that has been made before? I'm not sure that is a good idea. A tried and true? Or a new and unique? Any opinions?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Frozen Coffee

It was a sad, sad day for me when my favorite coffee shop closed down. It has been well over a year now, and I thought I wrote about it... but apparently I didn't name it appropriately. I haven't used tags before, so I can't find it! I spent months trying to find something comparable. There are others, of course, but none of them match the flavor that was their signature drink. There were days that I took that first sip and just... *sigh* It was a taste that just cannot be beat.

When they were closing I tried to find out how they made it, and I got the gist of the recipe, but it all centered around a powdered substance that gave it flavor as well as the smooth, milkshake-like substance. And the one they used is not available for public sales.

It took me a lot of searching, but I finally found another one. While it will never compare to the one that was made at Cafe-a-go-go, it is still very good. So, after a year of keeping it to myself, I thought I would share it with you!

You know, in case you are tired of paying $5 for that special treat and want to be able to make it at home. You can tweak the recipe to your own tastes, but this is how I make it:

First you will need some flavoring. I like caramel and I got this at my local GFS Store. I found out that Jungle Jim's (sorry to those of you who don't have Jungle Jim's!) has so many different syrups that it will blow my mind. In the interest of my finances, until I get a little extra mad money, I'm just sticking with caramel. I also used to add a white mocha powder as well, but ran out and haven't gotten anymore.

OK, so, for one blender full, I used 10-12 squirts of the caramel. I measured it out and it came to about 4 ounces.

Then I add the special ingredient. Polar Freeze! This powder already has caffeine in it, and the coffee flavor, so it isn't really necessary to add coffee, but you can add 1 oz of espresso as well. You can play with it and find the right combo. I have used coffee in the past, and it does give it a little extra flavor. I have only been able to find this stuff in one place - I order it via phone (or email now that Ray knows me) from Allegretti's Coffee Products in Washington.

Here it is out of the bag - in the container I keep it in when using it. You can buy it by the bag, in whatever quantity you'd like. I recently started buying it by the smallest case available - 6 bags. There is a discount when you buy it by the case. :)
So, for one blender full, I use 4 spoon fulls. Not the small spoons like you use to eat your cereal. But the big spoons. Heaping spoon fulls. Ray sent me a scoop to use, but I can't find it, so I just use a spoon.

Then you fill the blender with ice. I used the crushed ice from the door of the freezer because I don't like to make my blender work harder than it has to with those bigger chunks. I'm considerate like that - I don't want my blender to quit working on me!

And then you add milk. You can use whatever you want - whole, 2%, 1%, chocolate... just fill it to cover the ice. It look like in the picture that the milk doesn't cover the ice, but that's because the ice started floating while I got my camera to take a picture.
Pulse the blender a couple of times until it starts blending, then turn it on and let it blend for a minute or more. Until it is really smooth with no small ice chunks in it. Maybe a minute or more.

Just keep an eye on it, and if it is too thick and stops blending, add a bit more milk.

Here is the after it completes blending. Ahhhh so good. Mmmmmmm come to mama.

I use caramel Sundae Syrup to line the glass, then pour the delicious coffee to the top.

Top with whipped cream and a little more syrup, and enjoy!
Note: I don't always have whipped cream, that doesn't stop me from making it! It's not really needed, just makes it feel all the more special!
OH YEAH! I also need to add that I don't drink an entire blender full of this stuff by myself! Jeff usually has one, or if he's left for work already, I simply put the pitcher in the freezer. Then I can either set it out later to thaw for a bit and re-blend it, or I put it in the refrigerator before I go to bed and blend it again the next morning.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Cake

I didn't take pictures of all the steps involved with making Alli's cake - but I have a few. This was also my first time making chocolate icing.
The bottom layer was chocolate cake with chocolate icing. I cut the cake in half to put a layer of icing in the middle as well. After I put the icing on, I rolled out the fontant and placed it over the icing, smoothing it as well as I could
The middle layer was white cake and white buttercream icing. Again, I put a layer of icing in the middle as well.

I made the white roses out of the excess I trimmed off the sides of the cake after covering it. They weren't perfect by any means, but they turned out pretty good.

My initial thought was to do a multi-colored striped layer, then a multi colored polka-dot layer, but after coloring part of the fondant with pink food coloring and turning my hands and counter pink, I thought... pink will be good enough. :)

The finished cake with the "e" on Alli before she saw it.

I won't say I'll never do another fondant cake, but it will be a while. :)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Happy Sweet 16, Alli

Since Alli's 16th birthday fell on a Monday (the 6th), we had her party on the 5th. Being a holiday weekend, there were a lot of friends and family out of town, or had to work, so it was a small affair.

Here is Allie with her friends and Ceara on the couch hangin' out while we waited for people (Molly) to arrive.

I decided to try to make a three layer cake with fondant - my first attempt. I'll maybe remember to post some of the process of that at another time. It turned out fairly well, although it may be my first and last fondant cake!

I found some crazy looking spiral candles for the cake. I had 16 little roses on the top that I could have put the candles in, but they were made from the fondant and were too hard to put the candles through.

You can't tell in this picture, but I wrote "Sweet Sixteen Allie" on the board the cake was on. Alli prefers to spell her name without the "e" so she swiped off the "e" when I wasn't looking.

For the most part, she got what she wanted - money.

And some hair care products.

And some clothes - I actually picked some out that she liked! Only one return! Woot! Of course, Ceara went with me and helped!

Lots of funny cards... was I the only one who got her a sentimental one?!?!

She also got a toothbrush from Peepaw (my dad) - think he's trying to tell her something? lol

She has her temps, but so far hasn't driven that much. She's not in a big hurry to get her license like I was when I was her age. And I'm perfectly OK with that. We can delay the gray hairs for as long as she wants!
Happy Sweet 16th Birthday, Alli. I love you, and am very proud of the young woman you have become.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

So I can now post from my phone. What was I thinking when I signed up for that? Like I want to type a whole post on this tiny little keyboard?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Testing. Want to see if this works.