Archive | August, 2012

Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes

20 Aug

Earlier this month we celebrated my friend Amanda’s birthday, and of course my friend Laina and I had to make something!  I can’t take much credit for the original idea of these cupcakes as Laina showed me a picture of them that she had seen floating around the web, but I found them so cute and easy that I just had to share : ).

For these cupcakes you’ll need…

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Basic Buttercream

20 Aug

So I wanted to make a very simple post about buttercream.  Mainly because I make buttercream so much that this way I can just link back to this post instead of writing it out each time.

There are a couple of ways to make buttercream, most people use purely butter as their base, but I find that I like to use a mixture of butter and shortening as I don’t like that “buttery” taste.  Most people who have tried it seem to enjoy this mixture, so if you haven’t tried it, check it out : )!

In any case, all of my buttercream consist of the following ingredients, the only thing that usually changes is the liquid and flavoring.

1/2 cup of unsalted butter (room temperature)
1/2 cup of shortening (room temperature)
3-4 cups of powdered sugar
1-2 teaspoons of flavoring agent (such as vanilla extract, etc.)
1-3 tablespoons – 1/4 cup of liquid (such as whole milk, heavy cream, lemon juice, coffee, etc.)

The steps to making buttercream are easy!

1.) Cream butter and shortening
2.) Slowly add powdered sugar
3.) Add flavoring agent (such as vanilla extract)
4.) Add liquid (such as milk) as needed when buttercream is too thick

What you use as your flavoring agent is of course up to you, just make sure that when adding your liquid that you pick something that matches.  For example, if making a vanilla butter cream use milk or heavy cream.  If making a lemon buttercream I will use no flavoring agent except lemon juice and lemon zest.  If making mocha buttercream I will use coffee, and maybe milk if it’s too thick.  Milk is often the best choice because it is a neutral flavor and will mainly add moisture and texture.

Happy baking!

– Nikki

An oldie but a goodie! 1234 Cake

19 Aug

Earlier in the week I got back from a lovely cruise trip to the Bahamas. As it happened to be, one of my coworkers had just come back from his cruise to Mexico. I had asked him if he would be so kind as to bring me some Mexican vanilla extract, as it had been quite a few years since I had a chance to visit Mexico. Upon his return he presented me with a very large 500 ml bottle of wonderful Mexican vanilla!

If you’ve never tried different varieties of vanilla, I highly suggest it! It will seriously rock your baking world. There are so many types of vanilla out there, and all are great in their own way. However, I find that when purchasing vanilla at the grocery store you often get vanilla extract that has a bunch of ingredients listed. Pure Vanilla extract really should only have two ingredients: vanilla (or vanillin) and alcohol. Sometimes they will have water, and that’s ok too. There really shouldn’t be anything else in the ingredient list!

Anyways, I was really excited to make something with my new Mexican vanilla extract.  Just smelling it brought back memories of having pastries in South America, because they often tend to use Mexican vanilla extract in their baked goods. The smell is almost floral, and very very sweet.

Ok. I’ll stop talking about vanilla… for now anyways, because I intend to do another post about it later since I’ve now been inspired to create my own vanilla!

In order to test out my new lovely ingredient, I decided to make a quick and easy cake, the 1234 cake. One of the first cakes I ever made was when I was about 5 years old, and it was the 1234 cake. This cake is very simple, and one of the best cake recipes out there! Not only is it easy to remember, but it’s really the ideal cake base for any type of cake. I like this recipe because it delivers a cake that’s moist, spongy, yet firm enough that it could be used on a heavy duty cake being covered by fondant, or buttercream without caving in.

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First Post + Macaron Recipe :)

14 Aug

Hello everyone!

Welcome to my blog! If you don’t know me, my name is Nikki and I love to bake!  Baking has been a passion of mine, and I’ve been wanting to start a blog about my culinary adventures for a long time, but never seemed to have the time.  I’ve just recently finished graduate school, so that has given me some free time to finally get to work on this project : ).  If you’re wondering about the title of my blog “Science and Macarons” those of you who know me, will already know about my obsession with French macarons.  As for the science part? Well, science plays a big part of my daily life as an engineer, so what better name to describe myself than two subjects that I am very passionate about!

In order to kick start my blog, I figured I would make my favorite item, which is of course a French macaron.  For this particular entry, I’ll be doing an unusual variation: Lemon Cherry Blossom macarons.  The reason being was that I wanted to make something a bit more unusual than the average macaron as they were going to be a gift for a dear friend of mine : ).  Also, I’ve been dying to use some Cherry Blossom ingredients that I have laying around.  Fear not if you don’t have some of these ingredients, I’ll list substitutions when possible : ).

Let’s begin!

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