Sunday, May 31, 2009


We caught the train out of Roma Termini, the main train station of Rome, to Florence which was only about an hour and forty minutes on a high speed rail. Located on the Arno River in Tuscany, Florence (Firenze in Italian) is the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance that spread throughout the western world.

After dragging our suitcases to the hotel, which wasn't too far from the train, but cobblestone streets aren't easy to drag suitcases on even if they have wheels. We tried to take Florence a bit slower than Rome and do more meandering. We found a great trattoria for lunch, had some delicious fresh pasta. We wandered around the streets taking in the sights. We stopped several times for a glass of delicious Italian wine.

Arch of Triumph in the Piazza della Repubblica, one of the main squares in Florence and marks the center of the city since Roman times.

every truck in Italy has 3 wheels and is supersmall

Il Duomo (Cattedrale de Santa Maria del Fiore) - The Florentine Gothic duomo was begun in 1296 and consecrated in 1436. The facade dates to the 19th century. Brunelleschi's Dome is a masterpiece of construction.

Arno River from Ponte Vecchio

The Ponte Vecchio is the oldest bridge. From the outside the bridge looks as if it were still crowded with the crammed blacksmith and butcher shops of the medieval period, but it's all glittery gold and tourist baubles today. Spared from bombing in WWII, it used to be built of wood but a rebuild in the 1300's made it mostly stone.

We decided to hike up to Piazzale Michelangelo, renowned for its panoramic views of Florence and the Arno valley. Piazzale Michelangelo, dedicated to the great Renaissance artist Michelangelo, has copies of some of his famous works in Florence: the David and the four allegories of the Medici Chapel of San Lorenzo. These copies are made of bronze, while the originals are all in white marble. We earned the views with the uphill hike, but it was so worth it! This is absolutely the most beautiful panoramic view of Florence that can possibly exist. Slender bell towers rise above the sea of terra cotta tiles that cover the roofs of Florence's palazzos. Brunelleschi's legendary dome dominates the skyline making it among the world's most recognizable cities. I could even see the hills of Tuscany in the distance.

We happened across the Piazza della Signora beneath the clock tower! This fantastic square was filled with replicas of famous statues around Italy as well as tons of people enjoying the day. In this plaza, Michelangelo's David was placed. Today, a replica holds the spot and the original was moved indoors to the Academia in 1873 to protect the work

Gelato shops are very prevalent in Italy. Gelato is Italian "ice cream", but is different from American-style ice cream. Ice cream is made from fresh cream, resulting in a butterfat content of between 10 and 30 percent. Gelato, on the other hand, is typically made with milk, and it has a fat content of between 1 and 10 percent. Gelato is not only healthier, but its flavor is easier to taste. The cream in ice cream saturates one’s taste buds; thus, its richness and sweetness prevail. I used the "healthier" excuse to have it daily while in Italy!

Many wealthy families in Italy had their own chapels within beautiful churches. The Medicis of Florence? They had their own whole church.

Florence isn’t that big, but it has the grandeur of such a scale. It’s center is riddled with tourists, but five minutes away you are discovering the hidden treasures the locals pride themselves with. It is a city with class, which manages to not be intimidating and is full of culture and arts. The streets are cobble stoned and full of arches, churches, cafes, amazing restaurants and jaw dropping Piazzas.

“I learned that the richness of life is found in adventure. . . . It develops self-reliance and independence. Life then teems with excitement. There is stagnation only in security.” – William Orville Douglas

More Highlights of Rome - Big, Bold & Ancient

Following is a very detailed account of our Rome adventure. Probablly more information than anyone wants, but its a good way for me to savor these memories.

After St. Peter's we headed down Via della Conciliazione past Castel Sant Angelo, crossed the river at Ponte Vittoro Emanuele II and headed to see the Piazza Navona. The Piazza Navona is one of the most famous and arguably the most beautiful of Rome's many squares. The large and lively square features three magnificent fountains. Another eyecatcher is the baroque church of Sant'Agnese in Agone. There were a few hundred people doing yoga in the middle of the square.

The Piazza Navona lies just a short walk from the Pantheon. The Pantheon dating from 125 AD, this is the most complete ancient building in Rome and one of the city's most spectacular sights. It is unusual in that there is an oculus (hole) the center of the dome. This is the only source of natural light in the church, and is also open to rain. This building is the best way to really picture the Eternal City in it’s original marble glory. After staring for a while, not believing I am finally seeing all of this in person, we continue.

Snaking our way through the streets there is just so much to take in. Also, it's easy to get lost...and it's a great place to get lost, too (except at 3 am with no sleep).

The Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II is also known as the Altar of the Fatherland or simply 'Il Vittoriano'. It stands at the center of Rome, next to the Roman Forum at the northern end of Piazza Venezia as a monument to Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy. Within the Monument is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with an Eternal Flame.
Past the Santa Maria in Aracoeli, up the long, beautiful staircase "Cordonata" to the Piazza del Campidoglio (Capitoline Hill). It is adorned with granite statues of Egyptian lions at the foot and two large classical statues of Castor and Pollux at the top. At the center of the square is a statue of Marcus Aurelius. Through Piazza del Campidoglioto to get a good view the Roman Forum.

Then along Via dei Fori Imperiali to a tour of the Colosseum. Built in the 1st century AD, this great arena could seat 45,000 spectators and was the largest Roman amphitheater in the world. This is where barbaric games were played by glatiators before a demanding Roman audience. More or less one could say it was built as an arena where people went to see blood and violence.

Next to the Colosseum is the 69ft high Arch of Constantine. Raised in memory of Emperor Constantine's triumph over Maxentius in the battle of Pont Milvius in the year 312 AD.

We then went on a walking tour through the Roman Forum which is between the Palatine Hill and Capitoline Hill. The Roman Forum, or Forum Magnum, became the central area around which the rest of ancient Rome developed. The area was continuously rebuilt upon and contains many layers of material. It was the main focus for civil administration, justice and commerce. As time passed the Roman Forum expanded to include numerous temples, the senate house and other law courts. It was mind boggling to think that we were walking the same routes as Julius Caesar! I sat here for ages…imagining the Forum in its day, alive with activity and the daily hustle-bustle of a powerful city!

Our adventure continued down past Theater of Marcellus, through Piazza Bocca della Verita where there is another beautiful fountain (Fountain of the Tritons) and there are two temples - Temple of Hercules Victor (temple of Vesta) & Temple of Portunus. To the south of the piazza is the famous church of San Maria in Cosmedin.

La Bocca della Verità ("the Mouth of Truth") is an image, carved from Pavonazzetto marble, of a man-like face, located in the portico of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. The Mouth of Truth is known mostly from its appearance in the 1953 film Roman Holiday. Starting from the Middle Ages, it was believed that if one told a lie with one's hand in the mouth of the sculpture, it would be bitten off.
Next it was over Pointe Palatino for a view of Tibor Island then to the Trasterver side of Rome. (You can see the last remaining arch of the Ponte Rotto which was the first stone bridge to span the Tiber.)

Of course there are countless bridges, piazzas, fountains, monuments, churches, museums, and other sites to take in. It is a bit overwhelming to the senses. There is so much to see and we were on a super tight schedule. I was awe-stricken by the amazing architecture…EVERYWHERE! Amazing churches…amazing obelisks…amazing fountains… amazing statues. Rome, the ancient center of civilization, the eternal city.

Next stop Spanish Steps:
The piazza di Spagna is one of the most popular meeting places in Rome. The Piazza di Spagna or Spanish Square is connected to a French church (Trinità dei Monti) on top of the hill via a long staircase, known as the Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti or Spanish Steps. All around the piazza, people are drinking, eating and chatting in the bars and cafes.

We walked along Villa Borghese (the largest public park in Rome) to The Pincio Gardens. These gardens offer one of the best views of Rome from the The Piazza Napoleone terrace overlooking the Piazza del Popolo. We happened to get there just at sunset and the views of Rome were stunning!
We walked down to the Piazza del Popolo, with its obelisk and twin churches, this immense square is a famed Rome landmark. It marks what was for centuries the northern entrance to the city, where all roads from the north converge and where visitors, many of them pilgrims, would get their first impression of the Eternal City.

Last highlight of the day was Trevie Fountain...
By this time we were pretty beat, and had a difficult finding Piazza Di Trevi. After walking around in circles, we finally heard the gushing water and the seemingly million people that surrounded it! The fountain is very popular with tourists who are often seen throwing coins over their shoulders backwards into the fountain, which is meant to guarantee one's return visit to Rome.

Today was a colossal day and by the time we got back to our hotel I thought my legs were going to fall off! It was about 11:30pm and we asked the reception desk for dinner recommendations at this late hour. We were in luck there was an fantastic, authentic Pizzaria about 10 minutes walk. Of course, you have to try authentic pizza while in Italy! The extensive menu was entirely in Italian, and although I know what a pizza is, we had no idea what toppings were on each of the pizzas (they weren't in my pocket translation guide). We were adventurous and just picked one! It was the best pizza ever with a wafer thin crispy crust.

Well, after my first trip to Rome, and hopefully not my last, there are so many things I could write pages after pages about. Rome is packed with masterpieces from more than two millennia of artistic achievement, and we only got to scratch the surface. To see Rome was to see our past, and revel in its greatness. Since then, a kingdom has fallen, a republic risen, and Rome has lived through three wars to a new era of Europe and a globalized world.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Back from Italy....

Wow, what a trip! I had some vacation I had to use, so we got a last minute deal to Italy. It was amazing! So much to see and do it was overwhelming, but we crammed as much as we could into each day rising at 6 am and not returning to the hotel until after midnight each day. We flew from LA to Munich and then into Rome and arrived late. I decided in would be adventurous when we arrived to take the train to our hotel. It wasn't the best idea. We got on a train headed in the direction we wanted to go, and when we need to change trains we couldn't find the one we needed, no one in sight, no ticket booth, and it was a bit of a sketchy area, so into a cab for the remainder of the ride to our hotel in Rome. Our hotel was in a nice quiet neighborhood about a ten minute walk from the Vatican. By the time we arrived it was late, but I was dying to get out and see something, so we decided to follow the map and see Vatican City at night. Vatican City is the smallest sovereign nation in the world. It comprises of just 1 sq km but houses the most important catholic collection in the world. They even have their own postal service, currency, newspaper, radio station and even an army of Swiss Guards to watch over the Pope's personal safety.
It was beautiful and breathtaking. Really magnificent! We walked around the entire perimeter of Vatican City which is encased in huge walls, had our first gelato, which was oh so good! Then got completely lost on the way back to our hotel and wandered around until 3:30am trying to find where we were. No one in sight and we had wandered off the map we had. We were exhausted and frustrated, and were so happy to finally make it back to our hotel that night.

Up at 6am (yep, less than 3 hours of sleep - I figured we could sleep when we got home). Great breakfast and the best cappuccinos at the hotel. We were happily surprised to find out that hotels in Italy provide free breakfast! We first walked back to St. Peter's Square/Vatican to see it during the daylight.

We got in the long but fast moving line to climb to the 320 steps to the top of the grand cupola (the huge 460 ft. high dome designed by Michelangelo). St. Peter's has the largest interior of any church in the world, holding 60,000 people. It really is amazing that this was built in the 1500's. Part way up the dome is a viewing balcony which runs around part of the inside of the dome. From this viewing gallery you can to look down on the ants below scurrying around the Papal Altar and the enormous nave of St. Peter's. It takes your breath away to look down from that height!The inside of the dome is decorated with fantastic mosaics and lettering.

The stairs continue further up the space between the dome and outer walls, getting progressively narrower and more inclined as the angle of the dome impinges upon them. Once you have arrived at the Cupola you are able to see over the roof of St. Peter's. The views are beautiful of Rome from the top.In the foreground are the 13 statues of Christ and various disciples and Apostles lining the top of the massive façade. Beyond is St. Peter's Square (Piazza San Pietro), designed by Bernini and built to be the same size and shape as the Colosseum. From this height the travertine lines set into the square are clearly visible radiating from the central obelisk.

After heading back down we entered into the Basilica, and the feeling of admiration and astonishment created by the grandeur of the interior and its decorations go beyond all expectations. To say the interior of St. Peter's is impressive would be an obvious understatement.

I am going to split up my Italy posts....

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Happy Caturday

I am out of town on an exciting last minute trip. I'll be back soon with some good photos of a faraway land.

Friday, May 22, 2009


For several years now, there has been a cupcake rage going on. What is it about a cupcake? The high frosting-to-cake ratio? Its portability? I'm not sure what it is about these pint sized cakes, but you could be standing in line for an hour or more at Sprinkles (I went last year on my birthday).

There are still cupcake shops popping up all over, three in my town, Violet's Cakes, Polkadots Cupcakes, Dots Cupcakes - 2 locations in town, My Sweet Cupcake in South Pasadena, and many more in neighboring towns! But the most famous ones are Magnolia in NYC (the store that started the cupcake rage) and Sprinkles in Beverly Hills. I've tried Dots, Yummy Cupcakes, and Sprinkles.

Magnolia’s Vanilla Cupcakes
Recipe from: More From Magnolia
by Allysa Torey From the Magnolia Bakery. This is their most popular cupcake, iced with vanilla buttercream. The most popular color for the icing is pink.

Makes 24 cupcakes
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
24 cupcakes

55 minutes 30 mins prep
Line 24 muffin tins with cupcake papers.
In a small bowl, add the flours; stir to combine; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter using an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat for 3 minutes or until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not overmix.
Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling about 3/4 full. Bake in a 350° oven for 20-25 minutes. Cool the cupcakes in the tin for 15 minutes. Remove cakes from the tins and cool on a wire rack before icing. Ice with tinted Vanilla Buttercream.

**If making a 3-layer cake, use the following proportions: 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, 8-10 cups confectioner's sugar, 3/4 cup milk, and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract.

Vanilla Buttercream Recipe
Recipe from: More From Magnolia
by Allysa Torey
Makes enough for a 2-layer 9-inch cake or 2 dozen cupcakes

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
6-8 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 layer 9-inch cake Change size or US/metric
15 minutes 15 mins prep
Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add in 4 cups sugar, then the milk and vanilla. On medium speed of an electric mixer, beat about 3-5 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well (about 2 minutes) after each addition, until the icing is thick enough for good spreading consistency (you may not need all of the sugar).
If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled. The icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
If you are icing a 3-layer cake, use the following recipe proportions:
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
8 to 10 cups confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Magnolia’s Chocolate Cupcakes
Recipe from: More From Magnolia
by Allysa Torey
Makes about 2 dozen cupcakes (depending on the size of your cupcake papers and muffin tins)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted (see Note)

  • 1 cup buttermilk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

ICINGS: Vanilla Buttercream (recipe above) or Chocolate Buttercream(recipe follows)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers. Set aside.

  3. In a small bowl, sift together the flour and baking soda. Set aside.

  4. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the chocolate, mixing until well incorporated. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not overbeat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

  5. Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing. At the bakery we ice the cupcakes with either Vanilla Buttercream or Chocolate Buttercream.

Note: If you would like to make a layer cake instead of cupcakes, divide the batter between two 9-inch round cake pans and bake the layers for 30–40 minutes.

Chocolate Buttercream Icing
Magnolia Bakery
Makes enough for one 2-layer 9-inch cake or 2 dozen cupcakes
• 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
• 2 tablespoons milk
• 9 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled to lukewarm
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
To melt the chocolate, place in a double boiler over simmering water on low heat for about 5-10 minutes. Stir occasionally until completely smooth and no pieces of chocolate remain. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5-15 minutes, or until lukewarm. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the milk carefully and beat until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and beat well, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat for 3 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and beat on low speed until creamy and of a desired consistency.

Magnolia’s Caramel Frosting
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
5 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 ½ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup milk
2 tablespoons dark corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla e

Instructions: In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat on low speed for 2 minutes. Add the milk, syrup, and vanilla, and beat until smooth and creamy, 3-5 minutes. Use immediately or store, covered, at room temperature for up to 2 days. Makes enough for 3 dozen cupcakes.

Sprinkles - delicious strawberry cupcakes from Candace Nelson of Sprinkles Cupcakes. Ingredients
Makes 1 dozen
2/3 cup whole fresh or frozen strawberries, thawed
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 large egg whites, room temperature

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside.
  2. Place strawberries in a small food processor; process until pureed. You should have about 1/3 cup of puree, add a few more strawberries if necessary or save any extra puree for frosting; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a small bowl, mix together milk, vanilla, and strawberry puree; set aside.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.
  5. With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk mixture; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.
  6. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely in tin before icing.

Sprinkles' Strawberry Frosting
Makes enough for 1 dozen cupcakes

  • 1/2 cup whole frozen strawberries, thawed
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, firm and slightly cold
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  1. Place strawberries in the bowl of a small food processor; process until pureed. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed and slowly add confectioners' sugar; beat until well combined. Add vanilla and 3 tablespoons strawberry puree (save any remaining strawberry puree for another use); mix until just blended. Do not overmix or frosting will incorporate too much air. Frosting consistency should be dense and creamy, like ice cream.

Magnolia's Red Velvet Cake/Cupcakes

This is one of the most popular items at Magnolia Bakery (and my personal favorite flavor of cupcakes) 3½ cups cake flour (not self-rising)
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 ½ cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature

6 tablespoons red food coloring
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ cups buttermilk
1½ teaspoons cider vinegar
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1 recipe Creamy Vanilla Frosting

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and lightly flour three 9- by 2-inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with waxed paper.

To make the cake: In a small bowl, sift the cake flour and set aside.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a small bowl, whisk together the red food coloring, cocoa, and vanilla. Add to the batter and beat well.

In a measuring cup, stir the salt into the buttermilk. Add to the batter in three parts alternating with the flour. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not overbeat.

In a small bowl, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda. Add to the batter and mix well. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth.

Divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the layers cool in the pans for 1 hour. Remove from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

When the cake has cooled, spread the frosting between the layers, then ice the top and sides of the cake with Creamy Vanilla Frosting.

To make the cupcakes: Use 2 muffin pans, each with 12 (½-cup) muffin cups, and line each cup with a paper liner. (There’s no need to grease the cups.) Arrange the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and bake the cupcakes, switching positions of the pans halfway through baking, until a tester comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

Cool the cupcakes in the pan 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely on a rack before icing.

To ice, mound about ¼ cup of frosting on top of each cupcake and use an icing spatula to make a swirl on top. If desired, decorate with colored sprinkles.

Creamy Vanilla Frosting
from MORE FROM MAGNOLIA cookbook, page 126

This silky smooth frosting is made by beating together softened butter and sugar with a thick saucelike base. Be sure to follow the recipe directions exactly.

6 T all-purpose flour
2 C milk
2 C unsalted butter, softened
2 C sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, whisk the flour into the milk until smooth. Place over medium heat and, stirring constantly, cook until the mixture becomes very thick and begins to bubble, 10 - 15 minutes. Cover with waxed paper placed directly on the surface and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
In a large bowl, on medium high speed of an electric mixer, beat the butter for 3 minutes, until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating continuously for 3 minutes until fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat well.
Add the cooled milk mixture, and continue to beat on medium high speed for 5 minutes, until very smooth and noticeably whiter in color. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes (no less and no longer - set a timer!). Use immediately.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 pound (two 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, softened and cut into small pieces
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into small pieces
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
5 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat well. Gradually add the sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating continuously until smooth and creamy. Cover and refrigerate icing for 2 to 3 hours, but no longer, to thicken before using.

Makes enough for one 2- or 3-layer 9-inch cake.

Fondant Notes:

  • If you cut out cute little hearts and place them in an airtight container, you should really layer wax paper between them otherwise they stick together.
  • To get the gel color to spread evenly, you have to knead the softened fondant.
  • It picks up fingerprints like you wouldn’t believe.
  • Powered sugar helps keep it from sticking to the rolling pin.

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