Sunday, March 14, 2010

St. Patrick's Day Baking Extravaganza

spd collage

Hang on. It's going to be a photo-filled post! Don't say I didn't warn you.

I actually planned ahead for St. Patrick's Day. Hey, it's as much of a shock to me as it is to you, trust me. I had a hankerin' to make sugar cookies and knew I wanted to send some to friends hither and yon, so I got to baking last weekend.

I knew which recipes to use and that I wanted to make shamrocks, but wasn't sure about how to decorate them. So I did some looking around and found this:

So cute! Now I had my inspiration, just had to execute. First, the recipes:

The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies
Allrecipes by Jill Saunders

Note: I halved this.

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
Preheat oven to 400 °F. Roll out dough on surface sprinkled with powdered sugar (won't make the dough tough like flour will) 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on parchment lined cookie sheets.
Bake 6 to 8 minutes until JUST turning golden on the edges. Cool completely on racks before decorating.
If you want to keep these simple, just sprinkle them with decorator sugar, non-pareils or other decorating sprinkles before baking. These cookies are very good all on their own!

Royal Icing
Dries hard - makes for easy transport. Mine held up through a UPS trek to NY 

3 tablespoons meringue powder
4 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or other flavoring of choice - watch color though, it will tint the frosting)
6 tablespoons water (less for really thick icing, more for thin)

Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl. Beat on high for at about 10 minutes or until stiff peaks form.
Divide and color as desired. Add more water as needed for flooding or more sugar if you get a little heavy handed with the water.

Now for the pictures:
green icing bowls
I divided the icing into thirds, keeping one white. The other two are as you see.
ltgrn outline
I outlined some in light green...

dkgrn outline2
And some in darker green.

Here's a handy tip for filling bags. (I just use sandwich bags instead of decorator bags. Snip the corner and you're good to go.) Place the bag in a small drinking glass, pulling the edges over the sides. Fill with icing, twist the top, snip the corner and decorate. The icing is pretty runny though, so work quickly and try to keep the end pointed up.
filling bag-1
filling bag-2
Also, keep the bowls covered with damp towels. It will keep the icing from drying out. It will form a crust pretty quickly!

After the outlines have dried, it's time to flood the insides.
dk green-flooding
Smear it around with a tooth pick to get the icing to all of the edges.
dk green-flooding-done
ltgreen-flooding done
white flooding

Once the flooding dries,  it's time to decorate. Rember the idea cookies? I loved the swirly one, but...
Hm. Not exactly like the picture, eh? I laughed and laughed, then moved on to a different attempt. I stuck with a checkerboard and dots. Even with just three colors and two "designs", I ended up with a nice looking mix.
finished cookies2
finished cookies1

Then I wrapped each one in plastic wrap, nestled them in a bed of crinkly paper and shipped them to well-deserving folks.


This weekend was Round Two.

I knew I wanted to do cupcakes and quickly got my inspiration from Bakerella. I didn't use her recipe, but loved the GREEN!

Green Velvet Cupcakes
Slightly modified from Joy of Baking

2 1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (original called for 1/2 cup - I had 2 sticks ready so I used both. Stick with original for lower fat option.)
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk (I used powdered buttermilk. Add powder to dry ingredients, add water when adding wet)
1 oz (one bottle) liquid green food coloring (see pic below)
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar (used white wine vinegar-didn't have any distilled on hand)
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Combine flour, cocoa and butter in medium bowl. Set aside.
In mixing bowl, beat butter until smooth and light. Add sugar. Beat until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well between each and scraping down sides of bowl. Add vanilla. Add food color to buttermilk (or water if using buttermilk powder).
Alternately add flour mixture with buttermilk/color beginning and ending with flour, beating well each time. Mix SLOOOWLY to start when adding the liquid. Otherwise it will splash and get green food color everywhere. (It's a good idea to wear an apron or at least something that won't be ruined if you get food color on it.)

In small bowl or measuring cup, dissolve soda in vinegar. It will bubble (yay, chemistry) quickly add to batter, just folding in until incorporated - don't beat in.

Divide into 2 prepared 9" cake pans or cupcake liners. I got 12 cupcakes and a single 9" layer.

Bake cake approximately 25 minutes or until toothpick comes clean. Cupcakes will only take about 15 minutes. Ovens vary, so keep an eye on them. The might need more or less time. Cool in pans about 10 minutes then transfer to racks. Cool completely before decorating (or turning into cake pops).

The Best Buttercream Frosting EVER
I used this on my niece's birthday cake. It's da BOMB.

spd-cupcakes-soda vinegar
Woo-Chemical reaction in progress! And really, that's what baking is all about.

Now THAT's green!

The large Pampered Chef scoop works great for cupcakes.

SPD-cupcakes-1st decorated
I used plain white frosting first, but decided I need a bit of color to make the white sprinkles show more.
SPD-cupcake-dye icing1
SPD-cupcake-dye icing2
SPD-cupcake-dye icing-mixed
Dip a clean toothpick in the gel color, smear into the frosting and mix. A nice, pale green, just what I wanted. Obviously you can add more if you want a deeper shade. Go crazy!

Better! And I got to use my cupcake stand - so fun.

Next up — CAKE POPS!

Take the 9" cake, crumble, add frosting (about a 3/4-1 cup), mix, scoop.
spd-cakepops-mixing collage-sm


almond bark



SPD-cakepops-in sugar


If you didn't get enough pictures here, head over to my Flickr photstream for even more. (Yes, there are more!)

And if you're wondering about the wood stand in the group cake pop photos, stay tuned. I'll be posting a "How-To" on that later this week.


  1. Oh WOW that really is amazing! You have inspired me to do some St Paddy's Day baking as well. Where to start though!?
    I really do love your blog! Definitely my favourite "baking and stuff" blog.

  2. sometimes the word 'extravaganza' is inappropriately-used. this is not one of those times. amazing work, kelly!

  3. Those cookies were as delicious as they were gorgeous! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Can I request the cupcakes next year, just to change it up?

  4. made my mouth start watering all over again. I'm glad we got to sample some of the extravaganza. Now I want to make cake pops - those things ROCK.

  5. Wifey- Wow! That's quite a complement. Thank you so much. I'm so glad you enjoy my blog. Have fun with your baking. I think cookies would be a great place to start! :)

    Grace - Thank you!

    DB - You're very welcome! As soon as I can figure out a way to get cupcakes to you a) intact and b) still edible, I'm all over it!

    Barb - Go for it! I had one for breakfast. They do, in fact, ROCK. ;)

  6. Great job! You're so darned talented at so many things... color me green with envy. ;)

  7. Everything looks great. I really believe I'm a "well-deserving folk". I'll be expecting a batch of cookies LOL!!!

  8. Jodi - Ha! Good one. :)

    Memória - A virtual batch of cookies heading your way... :)

  9. These are beautiful.. not only is your food amazing and yummy looking and just beautifully prepared, but your photography is perfect!! You are WONDERFUL!!!


  10. When I come back in my 2nd cooking life, I want to be as talented & creative as you! :)

  11. Amanda - Wow - thank you! ANd thanks for stopping by my blog - I just love yours!

  12. Susie-

    Says the woman competing in the Pillsbury Bake-off! I've got nothin' on you, lady. I just happen to bake and you happen to cook. See, we compliment each other perfectly. :)

  13. So cute! Everything turned out so pretty and I wish I had the motivation to make all these things!!

  14. When does the Cocoa Powder and Salt come in? Ended up making my pops w.out it because I was just following the directions step by step :( . They are in the oven right now, and they sure smell good regardless.

    1. Yikes! I'm so sorry that I missed putting that in the instructions. I've adjusted the post, but both should be whisked together with the flour before adding to the batter as instructed. My apologies!

  15. I was a little confused on the step: "Alternately add flour mixture with buttermilk/color beginning and ending with flour, beating well each time." Does this mean...mix them together in another bowl..adding one, then the next, then vice versa - ending with flour? Because I just plopped them back and forth and mixed in their own bowls :( The pops are in the oven now...a little crummy...but hopefully yummy!! Great job :)

    1. Hi Aimee! What you do is add some of the flour mix to the main batter, beat, then add some of the buttermilk mix to the main batter and beat, and continue alternating. So it'll go: flour-buttermilk-flour-buttermilk-flour... each added to the main batter. Did that help or did I make it worse? :) I'm sure there's some sort of logic behind this, but I think if you got all of the ingredients in there, it's probably ok.

  16. Hi Kelly! I love your recipes sooo much and would like to try this one out, but is there anything I can use in replacement for meringue powder? Thanks!

    1. Hello! I emailed you a reply but wanted to post here, too. Meringue powder can also be called powdered egg whites, if that helps at all. I also did a search to see if anything came up and I found a great post by baker and blogger Marian at Sweetopia.

      Here's the link:

      I hope this helps, and thank you for reading my blog and taking the time to comment!

  17. What is ypur trick to thw sticks on the cake pops. I bought my sticks from target but the cake part seems to slide on it when dipping then eventually slip all yhe way through:( what can I do?

    Also after dipping in the almond bark.. its still pretty wet.. whats a trick so im not holding it forever or how long it it hardens.. maybe my almond bark is too hot. HELP!!

    Other then that .. everything tastr delicious!

    1. Hi Christine! It sounds like your cake pops might be a little too wet, like maybe there's a bit too much frosting - but that's a guess. I've never had them slide down, but one thing you can try is dipping the sick in the bark, let it set up just a little, then slide on the cake. That might help anchor it. It does sound like your bark might be a bit too hot, so let it cool slightly and give it a shot. It does take a little while to set up, not a long time, but it's not like magic shell. It won't set immediately. If you don't have a stand or a way to keep the pops upright while they dry (floral foam is a good way to go for holding the pops) you can set them upside down on wax paper. Just serve them like that, with the sticks up. I've seen that done and it's super cute.

      Good luck!!


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