Tag Archives: candy thermometer

Dexter Themed Cupcakes: A Gig

5 Feb

Friends come to me with various food questions quite regularly. This project started in much the same way. One friend wanted Dexter themed cupcakes for a friend of hers that is a huge Dexter fan.  Her inspiration was from a picture of cupcakes that were made for Magnolia Bakery for the show’s premier.   I gave her some names of local bakeries I knew of that did custom and theme cupcakes, but as she called around, it became obvious that no bakeries would make it. One offered to make it without the “glass,” but that just took the drama out of it.

I looked at the picture, looked around for sugar glass recipes, and concluded that I could absolutely make these cupcakes.

And so my first “paid gig” for baking began.

Since this was my first “professional” assignment, I decided it was absolutely necessary to make a test batch first.  The cupcake recipient actually was not a fan of chocolate, so my red velvet idea went quickly out the window.

First, I found a Martha Stewart recipe for the sugar glass, but I long ago realized that Martha’s kitchen staff makes everything look a whole lot better than I could ever get out of my kitchen. So I went on a quest for a “normal person” recipes and once again, AllRecipes.com came to the rescue.

I combined them both (and the use of 2 different thermometers to check on the temperature) and made my attempt at sugar glass.

Import December 2012 iPhone 543

I was really excited when it actually worked! It was ever so slightly yellow tinged, which was disappointing, but I deemed it good enough to work.

Import December 2012 iPhone 545

And made a few batches of varying thickness.

Import December 2012 iPhone 546

And just for fun, I dyed some blue and made some Breaking Bad Blue Sky (and put it all chopped up into a baggy for the friend who made the order, knowing she is a huge Breaking Bad fan.)

Import December 2012 iPhone 547

It was a bit rippled when I made the thick one.

Import December 2012 iPhone 548

But the thinner one was very clear and shattered just like glass.

Import December 2012 iPhone 549

And cut like it!

Import December 2012 iPhone 552

(Just kidding! Sort of…) It was definitely sharp, but it made for some great gag glass with just a bit of red food coloring.

For the cupcake itself, I decided to go with a very basic cupcake that I added some spices to (ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg) and then used the Bailey’s frosting that everyone loves.

Then it came time to figure out how to fill these bad boys. I wanted them to be filled with a blood colored jam of some kind that when cut into, would look like it was oozing blood.

First I tried a cherry pie filling (without the solids) in a squirt bottle.

Import December 2012 iPhone 553

And while it looked a bit like it, the narrow amount just didn’t have the impact I wanted and it absorbed into the cake in a few minutes, so it didn’t really ooze all that well.

Import December 2012 iPhone 555

So next I tried the “cone” method where you cut a cone out of the cupcake…

Import December 2012 iPhone 556

… then remove the section…

Import December 2012 iPhone 557

… fill the hollow with the filling…

Import December 2012 iPhone 558

… then replace the very top of the circle to fill the hole. This proved to be a pretty good method and I declared the trial a success. (The hole also let me drop a cherry into each, which I hoped would add to the flavor a bit).

Import December 2012 iPhone 559

And then it came time to assemble.  I used a pastry bag to pipe the frosting on, stuck the sugar glass on it, then splattered the top with red food coloring.  And then… we had a Dexter cupcake.

Import December 2012 iPhone 560

We tried a few different “splatters.”  Red food coloring, red gel icing, cherry filling, jam… But the good ol’ red food coloring was really the best.

Import December 2012 iPhone 564

And cutting into the inside wasn’t as oozy as I wanted, but the cherry inside was a really nice addition.

Import December 2012 iPhone 567

And since I had a few extras from the trial, I filled a few with jam and topped them with peanut butter instead of frosting.

Import December 2012 iPhone 609

Have I mentioned that I am a sucker for all things peanut butter and jelly?

Import December 2012 iPhone 610

So then came the day of the actual party.  I had ordered some specialty accessories including blood spatter cupcake liners, bone sprinkles, and bloody cleaver toothpicks.  (More on those later)

While the cone cutting was working, I decided to look through my stock of random kitchen accessories to see if I had something better. Sure enough, an old fashioned apple corer was perfect.

Import December 2012 iPhone 617

It pulled out a good well to add the cherry and cherry pie filling.

Import December 2012 iPhone 613

And left the top circle intact for replacing on the top.

Import December 2012 iPhone 615

All ready for frosting!

Import December 2012 iPhone 616

We decided to go with a spread frosting instead of a piped frosting, and then put the shards of sugar glass in them.

Import December 2012 iPhone 618

Then set up an elaborate blood spatter lab where we coated everything in saran warp, dropped the cap into the sink, and used pastry brushes to splatter the food coloring blood.

Import December 2012 iPhone 624

Then put them into the cupcake holder (which is never stable enough… why don’t they make the sides of those things just a bit higher?)

Ready for delivery!

Import December 2012 iPhone 625

But I figured I could get even more creative.  So I took a piece of sugar glass that looked like a knife, molded a chocolate handle, inserted a birthday candle and made an edible knife/candle holder.

Then I took a “naked” cupcake, strapped it down under plastic wrap, and stabbed it with the knife.  I hope Dexter fans will appreciate.

Import December 2012 iPhone 627

I also wanted to create some different kinda of decoration, so I decided to use the meat cleavers and bones in red topped cupcakes.

This is where I caution you… it is just about impossible to make RED frosting. I wound up with a whole lot of very pink frosting.  I then proceeded to dump every red colored thing in my cabinet into this (which included just about every fruit jam in history) and yet… it was still pink.  So Mike popped out to the store and got an industrial sized bottle of red food coloring and I dumped it in. I was concerned that the high concentration of red food coloring would change the flavor, but as it turns out there was so much fruit in there from all the jams that you couldn’t taste it (though no promises it wouldn’t dye your teeth red!)

Import December 2012 iPhone 629

The bar where they set up was dark, but I was told that they were the hit of the party.

z2012-12-08 21.07.12

z2012-12-08 21.08.02

z2012-12-08 21.08.13

And I’m very glad to have done such a fun project and make a Dexter fan happy.

z2012-12-08 22.04.39

Homemade Salted Caramels

5 Aug



The day Lori (of Stuff I Ate) came to my house with homemade salted caramels, I knew my life had changed.  These were just SO fantastic. I can’t believe it took me nearly 6 months to make them for myself.  But make them I did!  (Her post about it is here, and the recipe is here)

Though not without some, as usual, thermometer troubles.  I tried my new one, but it stopped moving after a bit, so I added the other 2 (which have shown various levels of accuracy) figuring that I would hopefully find 2 numbers that matched.



Since I didn’t have temperature to rely on, I used the method of cold water drop for caramel.  In this method, you drop a bit of the caramel into cold water to see if it’s done.



You can then scoop it up and test for texture.  I stopped the cooking when it was forming balls that didn’t spread out once formed and tasted delicious (ok… to be honest… I tasted many iterations along the way and they were all delicious).  They definitely hardened quite a bit from here, but the texture was great.



The first thing I did was fill my peanut butter cup molds up about halfway with the caramel, then top it with chocolate, and sprinkle on some sea salt.  This was DELICIOUS!



I then took the rest and put it into a silicon baking mold.  



I should have put it into a smaller one, since it got quite thin, but it still tasted great.



And then I topped it with sea salt.



And then cut it into pieces and, not having wax paper at the time, wrapped it in foil



They made cute little caramel pillows.


This recipe was delicious, but I do not recommend making them in the dead of a 100 degree heat wave.  Half of them melted together before I even got them out of the mold.  I definitely had to keep them in the fridge and each one MUST be individually wrapped or else it melts into one big (delicious) ball of salted caramel.  

I would say go make them NOW, but the heat wave is upon us again… so give it a few weeks and then GO! Make them! 





So what does this foodie want for Festivas?

9 Dec

Now that I have posted not one, not two, but all three parts of the First NYC Nom Nom Official Gift Guide for the Festive Foodie, I know you are all wondering what I want…

While I have pretty much every kitchen accessory that can possibly fit in my NYC kitchen, there is one thing for which I yearn… a GOOD candy thermometer.  I have officially overheated, steamed out, melted, and/or broke at least 4 different thermometers this past year.

Why have I kept the corpses?  I HAVE NO IDEA!  The dial one is steamed over and blurry, but it still works.  The mercury one I just keep praying will start working again… (because come on… it’s mercury!) but it doesn’t seem to register over 270 accurately (and my toffee needs to get to 295!).  The melted electric one still mostly works, however, I have to be very careful not to let any steam get into the melted part or the whole thing goes haywire and the screen goes black.  I’m especially upset about the last one since it was a pricey item from William Sonoma.  (And who puts plastic, that melts, on the bottom of a very short thermometer?!)

I just bought this thermometer from Amazon (it was tough to find one with decent reviews!) and I’m praying it works AND doesn’t break within a week.  But if ANYONE has a thermometer they love. I’m all ears…