Monday, July 30, 2012

monogram wedding cookies

My cousin Yvonne got married to her longtime fiance Marvin a few weeks ago (YAY!), and I offered to help out my making wedding cookie favors!  Her wedding color was robin's egg blue, so I made blue and white "Y" and "M" monogram cookies, representing their initials.

As always, I used my favorite homemade sugar cookie and royal icing recipes, but you could of course use store bought..  Since I was making 200 cookies, I ended up making 8 batches of the sugar cookie recipe!  After letting the dough chill in the fridge, I rolled it out and used these Alphabet cookie cutters to cut our my letters.

When all of the cookies were baked (it was late at night by now), I stored them in airtight containers to keep them fresh overnight.  Then the next day I started on my icing.  I made two batches of royal icing, and colored half of it robin's egg blue (I used a combination of Americolor sky blue and teeny bit of lemon yellow), trying as best as I could to match it to the colors on the invitation.  I decided to make the "Y" cookies blue, and the "M" cookies white - by first piping a stiff icing outline around each letter, and then filling it with runny icing.

After the icing had dried (I let it dry overnight), I piped a dotted border around each cookie to finish it off.

Two hundred cookies later, I was done!

Finally, I wrapped the cookies in cellophane bags (one "Y" cookie and one "M" cookie in each bag), and tied them with custom favor tags and raffia.

The wedding turned out beautiful!  The ceremony was lovely, the food was deelish (lobster, filet mignon, cuban rice, and fried plantains!), and the Matthew and Melodie had so much fun dancing all night long.

Congratulations Yvonne and Marvin!  We love you!

Friday, July 20, 2012

purple ombre roses cake

My friend H introduced me to her friend S a few years ago, the day that the three of us stood in line at Macy's for hours to meet Sarah Jessica Parker at a perfume signing event.  It was so much fun!

After that day, I've bumped into S here and there, and we eventually discovered that we share a love for food and food photography.  Then one day recently, she asked me to make a cake for her birthday.  She specifically requested the rose cake (that I love to make), which uses the rose cake method from I Am Baker.  And since she requested either purple or white, I decided to make it a purple ombre rose cake, similar to my purple ombre petal cake, which would start with purple at the bottom and gradually grow lighter until it became white on the top.

For the cake layers I made my favorite homemade dark chocolate cake.  I only used half the recipe, which filled two 6-inch cake pans.  Then I filled the layers with chocolate mousse (recipe from the Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake from America's Test Kitchen).

Then I whipped up a batch of cream cheese buttercream, and did a quick crumb coat over the entire cake.

And then came the fun part - the piping of the roses.  I divided the rest of the frosting into three parts - I left the first portion white, then the next portion I colored a light purple, and the third portion I colored a darker purple.

Then using a Wilton 1M tip and I Am Baker's rose cake method, I covered the top of my cake with white roses.

Next came the lighter purple roses, and finally the darker purple roses on the bottom.

Isn't it pretty? :)

Happy belated birthday, S!  Hope you enjoyed the cake!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

hello kitty strawberry rhubarb tart

After making the strawberry rhubarb mini tarts in a recent post, I decided to make one large strawberry rhubarb tart, with a twist - I wanted to use the extra pie crust dough to decorate the top of the tart with Hello Kitty!

So I made an all-butter pie crust, rolled it out, and carefully lined a 9-inch tart pan with the dough.  Then I rolled my rolling pin over the top of the tart pan to cut off the excess dough, and wrapped the extra dough in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for later.

For the filling, I again chopped rhubarb and strawberries into same-size pieces, then tossed them with sugar, flour, and a pinch of salt.

Then I filled my prepared tart pan with the strawberry rhubarb mixture, using a spatula to push the mixture out to the sides of the pan.

Next, I took my extra pie crust dough out of the fridge, rolled it out, and cut out a few Hello Kitty shapes with a cookie cutter.  Aren't they cute? :)

I only had enough extra dough for four Hello Kitty shapes, which I arranged on top of the tart.

Finally I used egg wash to brush on top of the Hello Kitty shapes and exposed pie crust, and then sprinkled on some sanding sugar.  Then I popped it in the oven and let it bake for almost an hour.  Once it was done and the crust was golden brown, I took it out and resisted the urge to cut into it right away, otherwise all the beautiful juices would flow out!  So I let it cool before cutting into it.

And there you have it.  Flaky crust, tart rhubarb, and juicy sweet strawberries, and all topped with Hello Kitty!  A perfect combination if you ask me!

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

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

panna cotta with fresh berries and balsamic vinegar

For Father's Day this year, I asked my husband what he wanted to do.  He decided that he would love for the family to spend the day at a lake near our house, so I obliged and planned a day of hiking and a picnic lunch.  For lunch I made ham and cheese sandwiches with farmer's greens, while my mom made sticky mochi rolls filled with shredded dried pork (pork sung) and chinese pickled mustard greens.


For dessert I had planned on making little portable jars of panna cotta and fresh berries, but I had waited too long to make them and didn't have enough time to let them set in the fridge.  So I figured we'd have them when we came back from the lake, and instead made them in cute star-shaped ramekins - a recent birthday gift from one of my best friends (thanks Reggie!).

I used Ina Garten's panna cotta recipe, which uses heavy cream, yogurt, gelatin, sugar, and vanilla to create a tangy and delicious and panna cotta.  I poured them into my ramekins until they were almost full, leaving some space at the top for the berries topping, and then let them set in the fridge.

After they were set (about 5 hours later), I topped them with fresh blueberries and raspberries.

Then I made the balsamic strawberry topping from the same panna cotta recipe, which combines sliced strawberries with balsamic vinegar and sugar, and poured that over the fresh berries.

I also made a few in the little jars that I had planned on, just so I could see my original vision come to life.  Aren't they cute?

I think these would also be great for a simple Fourth of July dessert!