Valentine’s Day Treats

Happy Valentine’s Day! Many have coined this day a Hallmark Holiday, for me, I personally believe that we shouldn’t have to designate a specific calendar day to show the one’s we love how much we love and appreciate them (If you’re curious here’s a little history on the origins of the day.) We should take a lesson from my friend’s four-year old daughter who will ask me to call her mom while I am baby-sitting her just so she can tell her that she loves her. I will say though that Valentine’s Day does bring about some delicious treats available in stores. I highly recommend the Heart Shaped Brownie Batter Donut from Dunkin’ Donuts… It’s delicious! Something else that is available in stores… an array of baking items so you can bake up your own delicious treats. I definitely couldn’t resist quite a few of those…

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While I would have loved to bake up a batch of sugar cookies from scratch I had to settle on using a bag mix since I was short on time and couldn’t afford to wait the hour or so for my dough to be refrigerated.

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After following the mixing directions on the package for cutout cookies I rolled out the dough and used my heart-shaped cookie cutters to cut out cookies and then popped them in a 350 F preheated oven on an ungreased cookie sheet for six minutes. I got a jump start on decorating a few of them by sprinkling sprinkles on them prior to baking. I then let them cool completely before finishing my decorating.

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While the cookies cooled I made some cupcakes using Pillsbury’s Valentine’s Day Funfetti Cake Mix. How can you resist the Pillsbury Dough Boy on a Valentine’s Day themed cake mix box!?!? Once they cooled I frosted them using store bought vanilla frosting. I was planning on whipping up a batch of vanilla frosting from scratch, but, after shoveling snow for the umpteenth time this year I just wasn’t in the mood.

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I tinted half of the frosting pink and then sprinkled some Valentine’s Day sprinkles on them.

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And finally something I did make from scratch… Royal Icing to decorate the cookies.

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I used a squeeze bottle to decorate the cookies with icing and then once again used sprinkles to finish decorating them.

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And finally my Valentine’s Day treats were done and ready to be shared…

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Enchanted Castle Cake

First it was an Elmo Cake, then a Minnie Mouse Cake and this year my friend’s daughter requested a “princess cake.” I stretched that idea a tad and made an Enchanted Castle Cake which I then surrounded with her Disney Princess figurines. My reasoning… Princesses usually live in castles! The most important thing though…. She loved it. And while last year I opted to rent the Minnie Mouse pan this year I just went ahead and purchased the Enchanted Castle Pan from Wilton. Luckily Wilton has numerous different ideas for that pan so I am sure I will get a few more uses out of it. I will say that I did cheat a bit for this cake by using a Betty Crocker Yellow Cake Mix and a few containers of Betty Crocker Vanilla Frosting which I tinted in the appropriate colors.

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The before picture of the cake. Luckily the important aspects of the cake were visible for me to decorate, but, I did have to freehand the windows.

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Little by little the castle came alive. Of course I had my doubts along the way.

Enchanted Castle Step by Step

But, at this point of the decorating I was very happy with the outcome.

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All that was left was to add flowers to the castle. Since I have never been that good at making flowers, I decided to make them separately and then add them to the cake. I made simple drop flowers on wax paper and then let them set for a while before placing them in the freezer for a few minutes to make transferring them to the cake easier.

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I then “glued” them onto the cake with green tinted icing and then piped in some leaves for the final touch.

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And you can’t have a princess cake without some princesses.

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Along with the cake I also make Vanilla Squared (vanilla cake with vanilla frosting) cupcakes which I baked in Disney Princess cupcake liners and sprinkled with pink and purple cake sparkles then displayed on a Disney Princess cupcake stand.

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I wonder what next year’s theme will be….

Vanilla Cupcakes

Makes 12 Cupcakes

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2/3 cup whole milk, at room temperature

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Beat the butter and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to medium low; beat in half of the flour mixture, then all of the milk, then the remaining flour mixture until just combined.

Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool 5 minutes, then remove the cupcakes to the rack to cool completely. Top with frosting

Quick Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream

Directions

In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.

Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency.