Wednesday, July 27, 2011

another rhubarb tart

While my cousin Angie was in town visiting again, we had a chance to do a little shopping together, and I found these adorable plates at Anthropologie!  I made another rhubarb tart that same night, and couldn't wait to use my new plate for the pictures.

This time around, I arranged the rhubarb batons in a different pattern - instead of lining them perpendicular to the edge of the tart pan, I lined them up to follow the curve of the pan, which ended up looking like an octagon design.

To accompany the tart, I made fresh strawberry whipped cream again (I could eat this whipped cream by the spoonful, all by itself!).

This is such a perfect summertime dessert - tart rhubarb, flaky crust, and smooth sweet whipped cream.  I hope rhubarb season stays around for a while longer!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

rhubarb hello kitty macarons

I haven't been able to find rhubarb at my local grocery store lately, until one day it just showed up again!  I almost did a jump for joy right there at the store!

I decided to buy extra this time because, a) we had plans to have lunch with some friends over the weekend and I wanted to make rhubarb macarons for them, and b) my cousin Angie was coming to visit again (yippee!!!) and I wanted to make her another rhubarb tart.

For the macaron shells, I added a bit of bright pink coloring to match the rhubarb, and piped them out as usual onto my silpat-lined baking sheets.  Since my Hello Kitty macarons were such a big hit last time, I decided to turn a few of these into Hello Kitty once more!

For the filling, I whipped up cream cheese, butter, confectioner's sugar, vanilla, and salt.  Then I took one stalk of rhubarb and diced it up, and then cooked it on the stove with a bit of wine and olive oil.  Once that cooked down into a soft, pulpy mixture, I let it cool before mixing it with my cream cheese mixture.

Despite the slight bumpyness of the ears (from dragging a toothpick through the wet macaron batter to create the pointy ears), the Hello Kitty macarons still looked cute.  Then again, how can anything Hello Kitty not look cute?!

*** Update:
You can now find my recipe for Hello Kitty Macarons in my new book, "The Hello Kitty Baking Book"! Enjoy!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

flower sugar cookies with royal icing

I recently reconnected with my friend Vicky from high school, and with her daughter's first birthday party coming up I offered to make cookies for the favors.  Since she had planned a flower theme for the party, we decided that I would make flower cookies in her color scheme of light-aqua and yellow.

I used my favorite sugar cookie recipe, and a Wilton cookie cutter to cut out the shapes.  Then I whipped up some royal icing (recipe from the same book), and decorated half of the cookies with white icing and the other half with a light-aqua icing, with yellow centers for both.

I like to decorate my cookies by first piping an outline with stiff icing, then filling it in with runny icing of the same color.  Once that dries for a few hours, then I like to pipe another border on top, and then pipe on any extra decorations (in this case, the yellow centers and the white accents).

After letting the icing dry overnight, I placed two cookies in each cellophane favor bag, and tied them with raffia and custom tags that I had printed out on card stock (similar to the baby shower cookies that I made back in January).

The party was held at a park, and everything was beautiful!  It was a perfect warm sunny day, and Vicky had decorated the trees with adorable aqua and yellow tissue pom-poms.  She had yellow flower plates and napkins on aqua tablecloths, and even a station where kids could decorate little terra cotta pots and plant yellow flowers.

We had a great time, even though we had to leave early and missed the cake cutting!  Thanks for inviting us Vicky!  Hope everyone enjoyed the cookies!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

canteloup sorbet

My mom came over one weekend and brought us three fragrant and ripe canteloup melons.  I immediately knew that I wanted to make sorbet with it.

I went to my favorite ice cream book, David Lebovitz's "The Perfect Scoop" and found a simple recipe that just used canteloup, sugar, salt, and lime juice.

The resulting sorbet was crisp and refreshing!  Perfect for a hot summer day.

Monday, July 11, 2011

dinosaur cupcakes

I made these cupcakes for my friend Janice, who was throwing a dinosaur-themed birthday party for her daugther's 4th birthday.  Her daughter loves strawberries, so I made strawberry cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  And in case there was anyone who didn't like (or was allergic to) strawberries, I also made chocolate cupcakes with chocolate cream cheese frosting.

Although I had never piped dinosaurs before, I had piped duckie cupcakes for my friend Naomi's baby shower and thought it would be similar, except with an added neck, tail, and feet.  So I attempted to pipe green dinos on the strawberry cupcakes, and blue dinos on the chocolate cupcakes.

To prevent the dinos from looking like the Lock Ness Monster, I also piped yellow spikes along the dinos' backs and tail.  I thought the end result was cute, but kind of looked like dragons instead of dinosaurs!

We all had a great time at the party - the kids played and the adults got to chat and catch up.  Thanks for inviting us Janice!  Hope everyone enjoyed the cupcakes, and hope you had a happy birthday Sofia!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

father's day - triple chocolate mousse cake with strawberries

For Father's Day this year, I wanted to make something with chocolate and strawberries.  So I decided on making triple chocolate mousse cake once more, but this time with strawberries.

I planned on baking a 6-inch cake, so I baked the bottom layer (chocolate cake) in a 6-inch removable-bottom cake pan.  But I had forgotten that cakes tend to shrink a bit after being baked!  Since there were gaps on the sides between the cake and the cake pan, I knew I wouldn't be able to pour the mousse layers directly on top, so I created a 5.5-inch cuff using parchment paper and a cardboard bakery box.

Once I had my homemade cake ring, I lined the edge of the ring with halved strawberries, with the cut-side facing out.  Then I filled it with the middle layer of white chocolate mousse.

After letting the two layers set in the fridge for about half an hour, I proceeded to make and fill my top layer of bittersweet chocolate mousse.  Then I let the whole cake set in the fridge for the rest of the afternoon, and then decorated the top with more halved strawberries.  And I left the leaves on to add a splash of green to the cake.

I thought the end result was beautiful, but my husband commented on how funny it was that I was making a Father's Day cake that looked so girly!  Ooops!

The cake ended up tasting great, although the bottom layer became kind of soggy from the halved strawberries.  Next time I'll try adding a thin layer of mousse before adding the strawberries, and hopefully that will protect the cake layer from getting too wet.

Happy Father's Day honey!  Next time I promise the cake won't be so girly!  Or soggy!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

fourth of july - red white and blue blueberry macarons

For fourth of July we had made plans to hang out with our friends Diana and Gav and their daughter Naomi, and I (of course) wanted to make something for us to snack on.  Last year I made these red white and blue cupcakes, and this year I ended up making red white and blue macarons!

I decorated the macaron shells with red and blue star confetti sprinkles and white non-pareils before baking, and couldn't wait to see how they looked when they came out of the oven.

To my horror, half of them had horribly cracked, while half of them were fine.  I'm not quite sure what happened.  Maybe it was the addition of the sprinkles on the top?  I've also read that you need to hit your baking tray hard against the counter before baking, to get out all of the air bubbles.  I'll have to remember to do that next time.

I had originally wanted to fill a third of the macarons with raspberry cream cheese filling (for the red), a third with blueberry cream cheese filling (for the blue), and the last third with plain cream cheese filling (for the white), but ended up just doing the blueberry.

I chopped up my blueberries and then cooked them on the stove for a bit to soften them and reduce the amount of liquid I would be adding to the filling.  This gave me a jam-like consistency, which I cooled and then whipped with cream cheese, vanilla, salt, and confectioner's sugar.

Despite the cracked ones, the rest of the macarons turned out great!  I couldn't really taste the blueberry flavor though, so next time I'll have to add more.  Also, while I thought the star sprinkles were really cute, they ended up being rather hard when biting into the macaron.  So the next time I add sprinkles to my macarons, I'll attach them with the filling after their baked, like I did with my Hello Kitty Macarons, since I don't remember thinking the sprinkles being so hard (perhaps the filling softens them a bit?)

Happy Fourth of July!

Friday, July 1, 2011

fourth of july cupcakes

These are the cupcakes that I baked for the Fourth of July last year.  We were invited to my husband's coworker's house for a party, and I wanted to bring cupcakes.  I decided on making chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  And to make them red white and blue, I decorated them with red and blue stars.

I packed them up in my handy-dandy Cupcake Courier (my favorite way to transport cupcakes, and even cakes!), and off we went!

I haven't decided yet what I'll be making this year - possibly a fruit tart with pastry cream, decorated with blueberries and raspberries?  Or maybe macarons?  Stay tuned!