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I really like the look of Wilton’s 3D Bunny Cake Pan, so I was excited to try out my first bunny-shaped cake when I discovered one small problem with the pan: it doesn’t come with a recipe. Instead, it comes with decorating suggestions and simply states that you’ll need 4 1/2 cups of pound cake batter to make the cake. This was a bit of a problem for me because, let’s face it, it is much easier to bake a cake that is the right size for a given pan. I didn’t want to take the risk of starting off with a too-small recipe that couldn’t be sure would rise up enough to fill up the pan. So, I picked a high-rising variation on a pound cake recipe I like and scaled it down to fit the pan.
This pan is very easy to use. You simply grease and flour it, then fill it with batter (once you’ve got the amount nailed down) and you’re ready to go. I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to check the cake for doneness, since you can’t see the cake as it bakes, but fortunately there is a small hole in the top of the pan to fit a toothpick or cake tester into and it works well. The cake bakes on its side, and it is easiest to handle if you set it on a baking sheet.
This cake recipe is tender, with a good vanilla flavor to it. It is a bit lighter than some pound cakes, more like a cross between a yellow cake and a pound cake. It’s still easy to handle as you’re decorating and quite sturdy. Use a wooden skewer or an extra long toothpick to test this cake for doneness, since a short toothpick will not get all the way to the center of the pan to see if it is cooked through.
Now, you can try other recipes in this pan, too. If you use a recipe that makes a big batch (say, a recipe that would ordinarily bake 2 dozen cupcakes), you can measure out the appropriate amount of batter for the bunny and bake the rest off as cupcakes. Choose a high-rising cake if at all possible to ensure that it will fill up the bunny. If you’re not sure, you’ll know you have enough batter when the bottom part of the bunny is almost completely filled up; this amount of batter will give you the best chance of having a complete bunny. And if you’re missing a tiny bit after baking – well, that is what frosting is for!
It’s that time of year again – time for holiday treats, Christmas cookies, big retail sales and jingle bell-centric music. It’s also time for Baking Bites 2nd Annual Holiday Cupcake Contest! I kicked off this contest last year and enjoyed seeing everyone’s creative holiday entries so much that I’ve decided to make it a tradition.
All you have to do to enter the contest is take a photo of your favorite holiday-themed cupcakes and submit it to the Baking Bites Holiday Cupcake Contest Flickr Pool (accounts are free, though you do have to sign up). You can submit multiple entries and any holiday-themed cupcake is eligible, whether they’re homemade, made by a friend, seen at a coffee shop or from a favorite cupcake bakery. Look for anything festive, from reds, greens and blues in the sprinkles and frostings, or santas and snowflakes as decorations. Good photos of tasty cupcakes are what we’re looking for here. If you bake your own, or know the recipe that was used, link back to the recipe in the comments of your submission so others can try it out.
There will be one Grand Prize and one runner-up prize, both great gift baskets of baking related stuff! All submissions must be in by December 23rd at midnight, so that gives you a couple of weeks to track down every holiday cupcake you can find. Winners will be chosen by an anonymous panel of judges.
Update: This contest is closed until next year! A big Thanks to everyone who participated!
Gingersnaps, whether you’re talking about the crisp cookies or the chewy variety, are a classic holiday cookie. Sweet, spicy and oh-so-flavorful, they’re a great addition to a holiday plate and go well with a cup of tea when the weather gets cold. The only thing they’re missing is some chocolate, so there are some chocoholics that pass up the gingersnaps and opt for ordinary chocolate chip cookies even around the holidays. This is an easy fix, though, so I made up some Chocolate Gingersnap Cookies to add to my holiday cookie rotation this year.
The cookies have cocoa powder in the dough and some chopped up chocolate chunks mixed in with the candied ginger that studs these cookies. This means that they really have a well balanced chocolate flavor to them. Fortunately, they are also just spicy enough that the gingersnap spices have no problem shining through in the finished cookie. The candied ginger actually goes a long way here, since every bite is gets a little extra kick of ginger flavor to it.
These have a chewy, moist center and a nice crisp exterior to them. They’re good warm from the oven, when the chocolate is still soft, and they will keep well for about two days. I like to use coarse sugar for rolling because it makes the “crust” just a little bit crunchier, but if you don’t have any regular sugar will work just as well.
I was watching a TV series on DVD recently, and in one episode, the characters ate a heck of a lot of chocolate pudding. They are so much that it kind of put me off of it. Now, don’t get me wrong because I do like chocolate pudding – I was just glad that had already eaten the chocolate chocolate pudding that I had made earlier in the week!
This pudding is just a little bit of a twist on a simple chocolate pudding recipe that I use as a go-to recipe. The pudding is made with milk and thickened with a little bit of cornstarch, instead of eggs. This means it is less fussy than some pudding recipes – no tempering of eggs required – and has a slightly lighter texture than some very heavy puddings that load up on egg yolks. It still has a good chocolate flavor, thanks to some cocoa powder and some melted chocolate that is incorporated into it. I’ve used it before in homemade Chocolate and Vanilla Pudding Cups. In this instance, the twist I’ve given it is a twist of mint. I added Chocolate Mint Bailey’s liqueur and a little bit of peppermint extract. The pudding is as chocolaty as ever, but has a refreshing note to the finish, as well as a hint of rich Irish Creme liqueur.
If you don’t have the Mint Bailey’s, you can substitute another chocolate liqueur, regular Bailey’s Irish Cream or just swap in some extra milk. The liqueur acts like a combination of chocolate extract and mint extract, in terms of the flavor it lends to the pudding, but a bit extra mint extract will help get the pudding to just the right level if necessary.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: serious bakers and cooks need to have a scale in the kitchen. The ability to weigh ingredients gives you a lot more precision than volume measures do, especially for dry ingredients like flour, where “1 cup” could be anywhere from 3.5 – 4.5 ounces depending on how hard you try to pack it into the cup (4-oz is a good standard for all purpose flour, incidentally). You can get by without one just fine, of course, but it’s nice to have. A good basic scale is the EatSmart Precision Pro Digital Kitchen Scale. It’s not too expensive, it’s easy to use and works very well.
The scale is small and lightweight, made of durable plastic that comes in a variety of different colors so that you can pick one that will fit into your kitchen. It runs on two AAA batteries that come included in the packaging and has a 3-minute auto shutoff to preserve battery life. It has a capacity of up to 11-lbs (4.98-kg), but will also measure a single gram for times when you need a very fine measurement. The feature that I like the best is the unit feature. Previous scales I’ve had require you to flip them over to change their measure from grams to ounces. On this scale, a touch of a button right on the front flips the measurement from grams to kilograms to ounces to pounds, which is very handy. Another nice thing about it is the size of the screen: it’s so large that you can almost read the numbers from across the room.