Hoops and Yoyo Birthday Cake

Hoops and Yoyo

If you have not heard of Hoops and Yoyo then you must go to the Hallmark website and check them out now!  They are so funny and are a great way to send someone an e-card.  My boyfriend's mom and husband love Hoops and Yoyo.  They have mini figurines of Hoops and Yoyo that they always take traveling with them and put them in pictures all across the world (for example, that's Hoops and Yoyo at the Bryce Canyon in Utah in the picture below).

Hoops and Yoyo

It was my boyfriend's mom's birthday this past week and her husband ask me to make a birthday cake for her party.  I couldn't think of anything better than to decorate her two favorite characters on the front.  I haven't done a lot of cake decorating before so I definately had to try extra hard with this one and I think it turned out pretty well!  I made a yellow cake and used buttercream frosting to decorate the outside of the cake and to pipe the characters on top.  I find that buttercream frosting is the easiest to use when decorating because the consistancy can be as thin or thick as you like and is easy to handle.  I had fun decorating this cake and I'll have to keep practicing and see what other characters I can have fun with.

Hoops and Yoyo

Blueberry Streusel Bars

Blueberry Bars

I know berries are not in season any more but if you have bags and bags of frozen blueberries in your freezer like I do then this recipe is perfect for you.  I like fruit bars because you feel like your kinda sorta eating something healthy (but you secretly know that your not).  These bars had a good soft crust, a juicy but firm center and and soft crumbly topping.  The original recipe, adapted from my 'Joy of Cooking: All About Cookies' cookbook, uses just jam for the filling but I thought it would taste great with some berries mixed in as well.  Feel free to use any berry you like but I found that frozen blueberries worked really well.

Blueberry Streusel Bars

2 Cups flour
1/4 Cup white granualted sugar
1/4 tsp salt
12 Tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces
3 Tbsp milk
1 tsp almond extract
1 Cup blueberry jam
2 1/2 Cups frozen blueberries (or more if desired)

For Streusel:
1 3/4 Cups flour
2/3 Cups sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
8 Tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 Cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 Large egg
2 Tbsp milk

Blueberry Bars

1) Preheat oven to 375F and grease a 13*9in baking pan (I used an 8in square pan and cut the recipe in half but I posted the full recipe so you could make more!)
2) Sift together flour, sugar, and salt then add cold butter and cut into flour mixture using two knives or a pastry blender until the mixture forms coarse crumbs
3) Stir in milk and almond extract and knead until mixture begins to hold together but is not wet (you can add more or less milk depending on the texture of your dough)
4) Press mixture into prepared pan and place in the fridge for 15min, then bake the chilled dough for 12-15min until the center is barely firm

5) While baking make the struesel: mix together flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt.
6) Cut butter into flour mixture using two knives of a pasty blender until the mixture forms coarse crumbs.
7) Stir in oats using a fork, then lightly mix in the egg and milk until mixture is just moist enough to clump together

8) When crust comes out of the oven spread jam over hot baked crust then sprinkle blueberries evenly all over, then continue with sprinkling the streusel evenly over the blueberry layer
9) Bake bars for 25-35min until blueberry mixture is bubbling and the struesel is evenly browned
10) Let bars cool in pan completely then cut and enjoy!

Pink Cream Soda Cake

Cream Soda Cake

I had some friends over for a big salmon dinner last week and I couldn't decide on what to make for dessert.  My friend Evan doesn't like chocolate and my friend Lindsay can be picky when it comes to dessert.  After searching the web, I found lots of cake recipes using soda pop.  My favorite type of pop is root beer but I didn't think Lindsay would like that so I decided to go with pink cream soda because 1) cream soda is awesome and 2) I thought it would be cool to have a pink cake to go with the pink salmon dinner.  The cake turned out really well, I served it plain with ice cream and it tasted like a cream soda float.  The cake itself was moist and didn't have an overpowering cream soda flavor and came out a light pink color.

Pink Cream Soda Cake

1 Box white cake mix
4 Large eggs
10 Oz. of pink cream soda
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
(you can add a few drops of red food coloring to it if you want the cake to come out more pink but it will still go a light pink color without it)

Cream Soda Cake

1) Follow the cake mix box instructions (I used a bundt cake pan but you can use anything just follow the baking times and temperature on the box)
2) Follow the cake mix box directions (mine said to mix all the ingredients together on low speed for 30sec. then continue blending on medium speed for 2min)
3) Pour cake into prepared pan and bake according to cake mix box instructions (I baked mine at 325F (because I used a dark non-stick pan) for about 30min or until my toothpick inserted in the middle came out clean)
4) Let cake sit at room temperature and serve plain, with ice cream, or make some icing to go on top and enjoy!

 

Tips for Chocolate Covered Strawberries

 

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Tips for Chocolate Covered Strawberries

  • Always wash and dry the strawberries before using them
  • I find its best if you make the chocolate covered berries the day of eating
  • I like to use semiweet chocolate (I find that milk chocolate is too soft and dark chocolate is too hard when they dry)
  • I like to use white candy coating rather than white chocolate (it melts better and is easier to use)
  • I find that it is better to dip the strawberries when they are at room temperature rather than cold because the combination of the hot chocolate and the cold strawberry can cause the berry to 'sweat'
  • I like to flash freeze the berries for 1min after I dip them - Once I've dipped about 10 berries I put them in the freezer for 1min or less so the hot chocolate doesn't 'cook' the berry too much
  • After some testing I've found that the chocolate covered berries can last overnight at room temperature and still be fine (I stored them in a box but still allowed some air to breathe)
  • If you need to keep them longer than overnight I would recommend you keep them in the fridge or else the berries might go bad (the only down side to this is that when you remove them from the fridge the berries form beads of condinsation - this is from the berries trying to breathe through the chocolate - they will still taste good but the apperance isn't the same as the first day you made them)
  • All in all making chocolate covered strawberries can be fun but can also be frustrating and involves a lot of trial and error - to be safe buy and make your strawberries the day of eating them and enjoy!