So it’s Valentine’s Day once again.  I had some trouble trying to figure out what to do for the boyfriend this year because I have no monies.  But, eventually, I came up with what I think is a fantastic surprise.

He has this digital image that he found that is kind of like a puppet version of Sally and Jack from Nightmare Before Christmas, and he kind of thinks it represents us.  So I got the idea one day to paint it and give him the painting for V-day, which was perfect since I already had paint and an 8×10 canvas (and it checks off one more thing on my New Year’s list).

This is the print out of the original image, after I drew the grid on it and folded it.

Then I drew the grid on the canvas, sketched the characters, and outlined them (I made them a little cuter).

After all the neutrals and background.

This is the final piece (or whatever you want to call it).  I was pretty happy with how it came out.

I know what you’re thinking, “YOU DIDN’T BAKE FOR VALENTINE’S DAY?!”  Well, don’t worry.  Like I could pass up an occasion to make cute, delicious baked goods.  Do you know me at all?

When I asked Ryan what he wanted me to bake him for Valentine’s Day, he said Red Velvet Cake (he doesn’t know how cliche that is).  When I told him he could have the cake any color he wanted, he got really excited.  He decided on blue and then orange, but then I suggested green because I had a ton of left over green food coloring from St. Patrick’s Day cupcakes from a couple of years ago.  I kind of wish I just gone with the orange and left the green for next month.

This is the buttermilk and the food coloring mixed together.  It looks so promising.

Cupcakes ready to go in the oven!  They seem so pretty…

Do those look green at all?  No.  Oh, well.

I frosted the cupcakes with the cookie press I got from my room mate for Christmas.  It worked out really well.

So they’re not green.  But they’re still cute and they taste good.

“So where are the hearts?” you’re saying. Don’t worry, they’re coming.

I didn’t want to bake all cupcakes because 1) I don’t have the patience for that many cupcakes, 2) I don’t have the supplies to carry that many cupcakes, and 3) where are the hearts?!

So, I baked a 9-in. round cake and cut it into the shape of a heart.  And then I made it cute.

I cut a heart out of parchment paper and used it as a stencil to make red sugar sprinkle hearts. Yay!

I put a border of icing around the edge with my cookie press, trying to hide the mess I made.

Don’t judge me for taking all my pictures right by the window.  I know you like the view.

I know you want to hear more about the disasters I had while baking, so I’ll tell you.  Then I’ll give you the recipes.

Frosting Fail

I always try to make everything that I bake as healthy as possible.  That means doing my best to cut down on the fat, increase the amount of whole grains, etc.  When it comes to cream cheese frosting, that means using Neufchatel, or 33% less fat cream cheese.  I buy it automatically, without even thinking about it.

Do you know what happens when you use reduced fat cream cheese for frosting?  MESS.  Big, runny, not delicious mess.  Yes, it tastes like cream cheese frosting, but the stickiness just ruins it.  And that’s what happened when I made these cupcakes.  FROSTING FAIL.

So I went back to the store, grabbed regular fat cream cheese (!!!), more powdered sugar, and then tucked my tail between my legs and crawled home.  The frosting came out perfect and delicious, however bad it is for you.

Another tip for you.  I decided to have a little experiment with the frosting since I had two blocks of cream cheese.  You’re supposed to use softened cream cheese for making frosting, but I was wondering if that contributed to the fail of my previous frosting and wanted to test one batch of warm and one batch of cold.

The biggest issue you face with cold cream cheese frosting is that you might get lumps of cream cheese in your frosting, which no one wants.  I used a spoon to mix the butter and cold cream cheese together to get it smoooth before mixing it smooth with the blender, and that seemed to work really well.  The frosting came out perfect.

The result was that both the cold cream cheese and the softened cream cheese (I used the microwave…did I mention that I’m not patient?) made good frosting, but I think that the cold cream cheese made the frosting a little more stiff, which I like, so I think I’ll use that method from now on.


Recipes and Reviews

The recipe I used for the cupcakes was Hershey’s Red Velvet Cake recipe.  I had originally planned to use Paula Deen’s Red Velvet Cupcake recipe, but I was turned off by the amount of oil and reviews that said the cupcakes came out oily, so I changed my mind.  I kind of wish I hadn’t.

While I like that the Hershey’s recipe uses a whole 1/3 c of cocoa (vs. PD’s 1 t), there wasn’t enough fat in the cake to make it really moist.  It’s okay,  but it’s pretty dry and crumbly, which made it a pain to carve into a heart.

I think next time I’ll either use some oil and butter or just use PD’s recipe and cut down on the oil.  I love trial and error.