February 4, 2011

How to make an impressive cake in non-impressive ways.

If you didn't know, Valentine's Day is quickly approaching. There are two different ways you can go about this joyous (or joyless) holiday of chocolate merryeatery:

1) Like the parentheses capture, be completely joyless and fester inside of your emo cave refusing to enjoy the bounty of 50% off chocolate bound to come your way on the 15th, slamming on your WASD keys until your mage reaches level 60 so you can commence with a hollow celebration at the nearest 7-11. Hey, slurpees are delicious.

2) Embrace the holiday by ignoring your New Years resolution to not eat your body weight in things so bad for you, but taste sooo good, and decide to go to the gym some other time.

I prefer the second. I also understand that some of you spend this day sending off gifts of delicious to other people, which is quite nice of you, but I'm greedy. Well, not really, I slave for days in the kitchen making delicious things for people who burn water on a regular basis.

Ignoring that, I thought I'd go ahead and share some tips and tricks for making really basic desserts look and taste better in order to impress your special someone.

Summon better cake.

The easiest way to impress someone is to make something completely elaborate and time consuming. I personally make dozens of cake balls every year, which is a three day ordeal for me (the pay off is I get to watch people engage in ferocious office and friendship battles over them!). Rainbow cake and cake balls are a sure fire way to win over anyone due to their appearance-- and for cake balls they're just so damn good.

BUT, for those of you who are like, "WTF is a spatula?!" Never fear! For there are a few ways to make a basic meh!cake become an mmm!cake.

1) Add food coloring. No, really, just add some food coloring and you can turn a white cake into a sugar soul sucking pink cake, or whatever color your person fancies (purple over here, y0). It will make you look creative AND thoughtful as you took the time to take that extra five seconds to squeeze in a few drops of coloring before mixing up the batter.

2) Use a shaped cake pan. This isn't particularly helpful if you're on a budget, but presenting the cake in unique shapes also helps. Heart shaped, star shaped, dinosaur shaped-- any shape but square or circle will make this cake extra special.

3) Make it mini. Girls will love it, guys will be too concerned about getting laid to say they don't love it.

4) Use unique flavoring. Nowadays, it's fairly easy to buy extract of various different flavors not always available in boxed cake recipes. This doesn't mean you have to make a cake from scratch (OH NOES!), simply add 1 tablespoon - 1 1/2 tablespoons of your choice of extract to the cake mix. You can also do this to frosting.

5) Never underestimate the power of Cream Cheese. Cream cheese frosting is the frosting of the gods.

Mix and match the various different tips. You could do a chocolate cake with mint cream cheese frosting with the frosting bright green in a star shaped pan. You could do heart shaped cupcakes flavored with raspberry extract and dyed a deep purple with chocolate cream cheese frosting. You could even do a standard sheet cake with strawberry flavored cake and bright orange cream cheese frosting.


**Notes: As I've mentioned in previous posts, Gel Food Colors provide bright and more intense coloring than regular liquid food colors. Substituting oil with apple sauce will make the cake more moist. If you're making cookies, take the cookies out one minute before the recipe calls for if you're looking for a chewier cookie. Also add an entire tablespoon of vanilla extract to chocolate chip cookies.

Trust me, your lover or your mouth will love you for it.

Also, Jeff Gallagher will probably read this blog entry.

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