Tuesday, May 27, 2014

mother's day coconut cake with surprise inside heart, fresh whipped cream, and raspberries

Last year for Mother's Day, I made this flower suprise-inside cake. So when my friend Helen sent me a link to this super cute typography cake, I got the idea to do a cake with letters "MOM" inside the cake when Mother's Day rolled around this year. I was so excited, I even bought these mini alphabet fondant cutters!

The typography cake used "edible dough", but I didn't know what that was (and it doesn't sound very tasty either), so I decided to make the letters cut out from chocolate cake! So I baked up a homemade 8-inch chocolate cake, let it cool overnight in the fridge, and the next morning I set out to cut my letters out of cake!

Only, it didn't work. The cutters were so small, that I couldn't get the pieces of cake out in one piece! I suppose that's why the typography cake was made from "edible dough" in the first place - doh! I thought about using fondant instead, but who wants fondant baked into the middle of their cake?! So, I had to abandon my surprise-inside letters idea and settle for a simpler (and bigger) shape to cut out of chocolate cake. Hearts it would be!

Once I cut out a bunch of shapes, I made a batch of homemade vanilla cake. Except I've been toying with the idea of making a non-dairy white cake, so I decided to replace the butter with coconut oil, and I replaced the milk with coconut milk. It would be a coconut cake!

I poured a bit of the batter into the bottom of my prepared loaf pan ...

... and then placed my chocolate cake heart cutouts into the batter. (Note that I placed the hearts upside down, so that I could flip the cake upside down and have a flat bottom as the top of the cake, and then the hearts would be right side up. That sounded confusing, but I'm sure you know what I mean!).

The cake came out of the oven and looked rather flat. Darn. I suppose the problem could be either: a) I used coconut oil of butter, b) I used coconut milk instead of milk, or c) the fact that I've never baked my vanilla cake recipe in a loaf pan. (I'll have to experiment with this more!)

Once the cake cooled, I whipped up a batch of fresh whipped cream, and covered the top and the sides of the cake. (Note that if I were to make this a truly non-dairy coconut cake, I would use a meringue frosting instead of whipped cream.) I had just done this ruffled baby shower cake the weekend before, so I used the same piping technique on this cake. It didn't look quite as nice as the baby shower cake though, since my cake wasn't very tall it didn't have quite the same effect.

Before serving the cake the next day, I decorated the top with fresh raspberries. 

I just love the color combination of the cool creamy white with the bright fresh red of the raspberries!

I couldn't wait to cut the cake and show my mom the surprise-inside chocolate heart!

The cake wasn't quite coconut-y enough, but at least the heart came out quite cute, even though the words "MOM" inside the cake would have been way cuter. Guess I'll have to figure out a way and save that for next year. :)

Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

pink baby shower dessert table - sugar cookie favors, macarons, mini cheesecakes, and ruffle cake

In addition to the pink ruffle flower cake that I made for my best friend Sue's baby shower, I also made a few other items for the dessert table! I envisioned a girly pink table, with handmade tissue pom poms floating above the table, and some desserts on tiered cake stands beside the cake. In front would be onesie and flower sugar cookie favors, and the table would also include some fizzy pink lemonade in cute drinking jars. Here's the sketch that I made during the planning:

And here's how the desserts turned out!

The first dessert I started on was the sugar cookies a week before the shower, since I would be wrapping them individually as the favors and they keep really well this way. I decided on onesie cookies, as well as flower cookies (click on the links for more details).

I did the onesies in white, with pink outlines...

... and the flowers in pink, with white centers.

Then three days before the shower, I made the strawberry macarons, since they need at least 24 hours to set in the fridge.

Two days before the shower, I made the mini cheesecakes. The crust was made with a combination of chocolate graham cracker crumbs, and regular graham cracker crumbs...

... topped with a creamy cheesecake batter and baked in a water bath to avoid cracks ...

.. and the top was decorated with fresh strawberries and strawberry jam to hold them in place.

Finally, the day before the shower I baked and decorated the pink ruffle flower cake (shown in my my previous post).

During the week I also made these mint ice cubes to put in a cute pitcher of water.

The secret to getting the mint leaves to stay in the middle of the ice cube (instead of floating on top) was to fill the ice cube trays halfway and then place the mint leaf in the tray, freeze it to keep the leaf in place, and then fill the rest of the ice cube tray to trap the leaf perfectly in the middle!

Oh and I forgot to mention the handmade tissue pom poms! I started on them about a month before the shower - I would make one or two whenever I had some free time, using this tutorial at Martha Stewart. I ended up making ten poms (five above the dessert table, and five above the food table), and they turned out super cute! I ordered tissue paper in various colors from Amazon - pale pink, darker pink, and two different shades of gold.

I also bought cute pink stripe paper straws, wooden utensils, and cute paper plates and napkins on Amazon.

Sue loves afternoon tea, so the girls and I had decided to make that the theme. We made various tea sandwiches, deviled eggs, scones, tossed salad and fruit salad, and had a cheese and crackers platter as well. We also had four different flavors of tea at the drink station, as well as the mint ice water and more fizzy pink lemonade.

Everything turned out lovely and we had such a great time celebrating Sue and her baby girl on the way!

Happy baby shower, Sue!!! We love you!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

pink ruffle flower chocolate mousse layer cake for a baby shower

My best friend Sue is expecting a baby girl, so when we were planning her baby shower, I knew I wanted to make her some sort of pink girly cake! I thought maybe I'd make another piped rose cake, perhaps in ombre, but then I decided I wanted to make a ruffle flower cake instead!

I asked Sue if she wanted a chocolate cake filled with chocolate mousse, or a vanilla cake filled with fresh fruit and whipped cream, and she immediately chose the chocolate. Then she thought, well maybe her mom would like a lighter, less rich cake, but I told her "this baby shower is for YOU, and since you want a chocolate cake, that's what you're going to get!"

So I baked up two 8-inch chocolate cakes, and sliced them in half horizontally, giving me four layers. Then I whipped up a rich bittersweet chocolate mousse (no raw eggs of course), to fill between each cake layer.

For the frosting, I made a cream cheese buttercream and tinted it pink, and used an offset spatula to cover the sides and top of the cake.

For the ruffles, I used a Wilton #104 tip to pipe vertical ruffle "petals" all the way around the sides of the cake.

Then I used the same tip to pipe petals all over the top of the cake as well.

I actually ran out of frosting by the time I reached the center of the "flower", so I had to use a bit of strawberry cream cheese filling that I had leftover from the strawberry macarons I was making for her baby shower dessert table. (More to come on the dessert table!)

For the final touch, I carefully dropped a few white sugar pearls onto the middle of the cake, for the center of the "flower".

I loved the way the cake turned out! And I'm actually really glad that I ran out of frosting, because having the center petals piped with a paler pink gave it a nice touch!

Happy Baby Shower, Sue!

Stay tuned for the rest of the baby shower dessert table!

Monday, May 12, 2014

baby shower peaches and cream layer cake with macarons and handmade fondant letter toppers

When my friend Irene asked me to make a cake for her baby shower, I said yes right away! Irene is not only super stylish, she is also a major foodie, and I was so flattered that she asked me! I met Irene through my friend Helen, also a stylish foodie, and what's really cool is that a few years ago Helen had asked me to make macaron and cookie favors for Irene's bridal shower, so I had a part in making goodies for Irene's bridal shower and baby shower!

Irene already had this cake by Herriott Grace in mind, and it was adorable so I couldn't wait to start on it. We decided on vanilla cake layered with fresh peaches and whipped cream, and covered with cream cheese buttercream. (Note: You can find a similar the recipe in my new book, "The Hello Kitty Baking Book", except with fresh strawberries insteaf of peaches!)

The first thing I started on was making the fondant letters, about a week before the baby shower, as I knew I would need to give them time to dry out.

For this I used store-bought fondant, which I colored, rolled out, cut, and shaped into letters (using these cookie cutters as guides).

Then a few days before the baby shower, I made the macarons, since they need at least 24 hours in the refrigerator to "set" properly. I followed the cake example and made them in pink, green, and white.

And filled them with a peachy cream cheese filling (flavored with peach preserves).

Then it was time for the cake. Homemade vanilla cake. Freshly whipped cream. Fresh sliced peaches. What a combination!

After filling and stacking the cake, I whipped up a cream cheese buttercream and tinted it mint green, and then covered the top and sides of the cake with using an offset spatula.

After smoothing out the top and sides, then came the fun part - piping the sides! I followed the cake example and used a star tip to pipe vertical ruffly swirls up along the sides of the cake. So simple and yet so pretty!

The final touch was stacking the macarons and the fondant letters. I used royal icing to attach each letter to a macaron, and then I used a thin floral wire to connect all the macarons together and hold them in place on top of the cake.

And then it was done! I think the letters were a tad too large for the cake, but I didn't care, it looked so cute!

Irene's baby shower ended up being so beautiful. The food was made by her good friend Sharon, who made delicious bulgogi sandwiches, chicken salad sandwiches (both sandwiches on Acme bread), tossed herbed salad, and pesto pasta salad, as well as a delicious Meyer lemon fizzy drink! Everything was perfect, and everyone had a great time celebrating with Irene.

Happy Baby Shower, Irene!

*** Update:
To see more of my recipes and techniques, you can pre-order a copy of my new book, "The Hello Kitty Baking Book", due out in September!