Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What Do Engagements, Birthdays, and Tailgates Have in Common...?


In my effort to catch back up to the present or even the past couple weeks, I am forced to do a summary blog post. A dessert drive-by, if you will. All the orders I had recently that I would love to go more in depth about, but need to get back on schedule. So, here are they are:

1. Becca and Barrett's Engagement Cupcakes

I know I mentioned in earlier posts that my coworker Becca (Remember the drink cakes? That was her order.) recently got engaged to her boyfriend, Barrett. Becca's friends threw an engagement party for them about a month after the proposal, and, knowing Becca's affinity for Dolce + Decadence's/my desserts, ordered some cupcakes to round out the celebration. As I have received much dessert feedback from Becca over our time as coworkers (and from Barrett, when she took my treats home to him), I knew red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting was one of their favorite cupcakes. I wanted to dress them up a bit, however, and thus thought of the dark chocolate engagement rings and "B"s, which conveniently covered ALL the initials of the soon-to-be Barrett and Becca Boody. After considering molds of some sort, I decided to just melt chocolate and pipe it out by hand. The one thing I learned was to let the chocolate cool a bit so you have more control over writing and it isn't freely running out the tip. The cupcakes were a hit at the party (I think my boyfriend ate about four of them), and Becca and Barrett loved them. Congratulations to them :)

2. Courtney's Birthday Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte

My cousin Courtney recently moved out of Ohio for the first time in her life to Chicago for a new job. Leaving Ohio also meant the first time in Courtney's life that my Aunt Nancy could not make Courtney's birthday dessert. But, how convenient - Courtney has one relative in Chicago that also happens to make dessert.... So, Aunt Nancy sent me a Facebook message (those tech-savvy baby boomers...) to ask if I would make Courtney a birthday treat that was some variation of chocolate and peanut butter, the birthday girl's favorite flavor combination. Funny, that's one of my favorite combinations as well (along with probably 75% of the American population), so I had an entire arsenal of chocolate peanut butter dessert recipes stored away for this exact situation.

After some brainstorming, we settled on a recipe I had stumbled upon recently on one of my favorite blogs, Brown-Eyed Baker: Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte. I have made a peanut butter pie very similar to this one in the past, so I figured I would integrate the two. The end-result started with a peanut butter Oreo crust. Then, I did the peanut butter pie filling and tried out Dorie Greenspan's addition of cinnamon and nutmeg. I was super skeptical about this initially, but it actually worked well, as it cut the richness of the peanut butter. Finally, I topped with a ganache made from a mixture of dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and peanut butter chips, and then scattered the chopped peanuts over top. The best part about making desserts for your cousin is that they invite you in to enjoy them with them, so I got to taste. And I have to say - yummmmmm :)

3. Eric's Mom's Birthday Carrot Cake

My coworker Eric has been a great support of my business ventures thus far, often forwarding blog posts and pictures to his mom, Wanda. Over time she had Eric forward recipes and compliments to me from her, and when the right time came she placed a request of her own: a carrot cake for her birthday, as a gift from Eric. So, I whipped up a three-layer carrot cake (you've seen it a *loved* the cake, but I didn't know to what extent until I received an email from her Monday. An excerpt follows:

"Can I just say WOW, WOW, WOW! You are definitely the carrot cake lady. That was the best ever, carrot cake and therefore the best birthday cake ever. The cake looked so beautiful, frosting on top so smooth and the nuts on the outer edges. I actually made sure to Oooo-Awww the carrot cake while it was still in the box. You can't imagine my anticipation and delight when I cut into the cake and had that ultimate first incredible bite. Not one flavor stood out on it's own but a harmonious blend of flavors. BES T CARROT CAKE EVER!!!!"

Now I need a testimonials page just for feedback like that... Does that make anyone intrigued to try my carrot cake? ;)

4. Bianca's Fall Tailgating Cupcakes

My newly hired coworker Bianca had heard through the grapevine about Dolce + Decadence and figured I would be the perfect supplier for her tailgating needs (sounds like a commercial, right?). She wanted a dessert to bring to a U of I football game tailgate, and I instantly thought of fall. It also helped the game was on October 1, which is the official start date of acceptably doing anything "fall": carving pumpkins, eating candy corn (with peanuts!), drinking cider, baking with pumpkin, playing in the leaves, etc. Luckily, I had been thinking about fall for awhile before it was acceptable to act on fall (ahem, like beginning of August), so I had some ideas ready to go.

We decided upon two dozen cupcakes: one dozen pumpkin spice with maple cream cheese frosting and toasted pecans, and another dozen apple spice cake with caramel filling, caramel buttercream frosting, and roasted peanuts. I was in fall dessert heaven when I tried the extra of each flavor. The pumpkin was flavorful and spicy, and a perfectly rounded and plump shape. The maple cream cheese reminded me of pancakes and was a great complement. The spiced apple cupcakes were dense and moist - they are the same recipe as my carrot cake, but with apples instead of carrots - with a smooth caramel filling. The caramel buttercream was my favorite part: a couple adjustments to Paula Deen's caramel frosting recipe produced a buttery sweetness just like caramel corn, but in the silky form of buttercream. The cake, filling, and frosting together just melted in your mouth, but then there was the salty crunch of peanuts - such a great contrast. I was so pleased with how both of these turned out and can't wait to make them again - more fall orders, anyone? ;)

Tops removed for homemade caramel filling.

Spiced Caramel Apple on left, Pumpkin Spice-Maple Cream Cheese on right.

Gooey caramel center.

1 comment:

Hallie said...

Yum, that last dessert has me drooling!