Tuesday, March 27, 2012

whale cookies

A while back, a friend of a friend asked me to make a Hello Kitty cake for a bridal shower she was throwing.  It turned out that I went to highschool with her!  Then it turned out that she has another friend, who I went to highschool with, who was interested in having me make cookie favors for her son's first birthday party!  What a small world!

The party was going to have a whale theme, with the colors of light blue and light green.  So I ended up making light blue whale cookies, as well as light green "M" cookies (for the birthday boy who's name is Maxwell).  I used my favorite homade sugar cookie and royal icing recipes, but you could of course use store bought.  And for the shapes, I used the whale cookie cutter from this animal set, and the "M" cookie cutter from this alphabet set.

To decorate the whales, I first outlined them with stiff blue royal icing, and then filled them in with runny blue royal icing.  After letting them dry overnight, I outlined them again with stuff blue royal icing, and then added an eye with stuff black royal icing.  At that point I thought that I was done with the whales, but still something seemed to be missing.  Ah, the fin!  So I also piped on a little fin on each whale.

For the "M" cookies, I first outlined them with stiff pale green royal icing, filled them in with runny icing, and then let them dry overnight.  She had liked the way I had decorated my flower and letter bridal shower cookies, so I decorated the Ms the same way by piping the small white dots around the perimeters.

After all of the cookies were completely dry, I packaged each one in a cellophane bag tied with raffia and a custom favor tag.

Happy (belated) birthday Max!  Hope you had a wonderful party and enjoyed the cookies!

Monday, March 19, 2012

baby shower duckie cake and cupcakes

To go along with the baby shower duckie and onesie cookies that I made a while back, I also made an 8-inch red velvet cake, one dozen chocolate cupcakes, and one dozen vanilla cupcakes.  For the red velvet, I used a recipe from Martha Stewart's "Cupcakes" book, except that I baked it in two 8-inch pans instead of making cupcakes.  Then for the filling, I whipped up a batch of cream cheese frosting and spread it onto the first layer of cake.

For the frosting, I made a batch of buttercream, and then added a stick of cream cheese to it at the end (this is my favorite frosting to use lately).  Then I tinted it lightly with sky blue coloring, to match the blue in the onesie cookies that I had made.

After first adding a "crumb coat" of frosting and letting that set in the fridge for a bit, I added another layer of frosting to the top only, and smoothed it out as well as I could with an offset spatula.  Then I piped on a basketweave design on the sides of the cake.

To finish off the basketweave design, I piped on a shell border around the top and the bottom of the cake.

Next I piped on a duckie using yellow frosting for the body, orange frosting for the beak, and brown frosting for the eyes.  I filled in the duckie body with a star tip, and used a #3 tip to pipe a swirly design for the wing.

The final touch was to pipe on a congratulations message with melted chocolate!

Since the cake would not be enough to serve the guests, I also baked one dozen chocolate cupcakes, and one dozen vanilla cupcakes.  I used the same piped basketweave design to cover half of them with blue frosting, and half of them with white frosting.  Then all of them were topped with a little piped yellow duckie, the same way I did the duckie cupcakes that I made a couple years ago.

I hope the happy parents-to-be enjoyed all of the goodies!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

lime green layer jello for st. patrick's day

There weren't very many things to sign up for on the sheet for the St. Patrick's Day party at Matthew's preschool this year.  A few slots for napkins or plates were still open, but I had been wanting to make cookies this year, and that section was already full!  In fact, only one food item was left ... lime jello.  So that's what I signed up for.

Last year the same thing happened with the Valentine's Day party, and I ended up making seven-layer rainbow jello.  I thought I could do the same thing again, except this time I would only have green and white layers.  So I used the same recipe as last time, except instead of four different flavors jello, I only used lime jello.

For the white layers, I didn't have any sweetened condensed milk on hand, so I ended up using a 12 oz. can of evaporated milk with 2/3 cup sugar whisked in.  I think it ended up tasting the same, however after the gelatin hardened the consistency wasn't as firm as it should have been, which didn't surprise me since evaporated milk is much more watery than sweetened condensed milk.

In the end, Matthew missed out on the party completely - he had a fever that morning, so he had to stay home from school that day.  Poor kid, he was so upset!  He kept saying, "But they're going to have a pinata!".  So I saved some jello just for him, and then I brought the rest to school.  Hope everyone at the party enjoyed it!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

golf ball cake - chocolate cake with cherries jubilee filling

My friend Bonnie recently asked me to make a cake for her husband's 40th birthday dinner, and I was excited because I hadn't seen her in years!  Among the things that she mentioned about her husband included his love for golf, as well as cherries jubilee ice cream.  So I decided to make a chocolate cake filled with cherries jubilee whipped cream filling.

As for the golf theme, I was a little undecided on what I wanted to do with this.  Initially we thought that I could pipe the Pebble Beach logo on top of the cake.  Or, I could decorate it with white chocolate golf balls, which would look similar to the golf ball cake pops that I had made a while back.  And then, I stumbled accross this cake at love & olive oil via foodgawker - it was such a cute and clean design (and not overly cheesy considering it was a golf ball cake)!  I immediately wanted to make it!

Bonnie only needed enough cake for 10 adults, so I made it a 6-inch cake.  For the chocolate cake layer, I used my favorite homemade chocolate cake recipe.  While that was baking, I started on my filling. I found this recipe at Epicurious for cherries jubilee, and proceeded the make the cherry sauce.  (The only thing that I changed was to add a little bit of corn starch slurry at the end to thicken the sauce.)

I had never had cherries jubilee before so I had no idea what it was supposed to taste like; it ended up tasting like caramelized cherries, but not with an overwhelming cherry taste.  So I pureed the sauce, and then mixed a portion of it with cream cheese, to give the filling a bit more tartness.  Then I made a batch of whipped cream, which I then folded into the cherry cream cheese mixture.

Once the cake was cooled, I put the first cake layer on an 8-inch cake round, and then piped on a layer of the filling.  Then, to add extra cherries jubilee flavor, I brushed on some of the sauce onto the top of the second cake layer, which I then inverted onto the filling layer.

For the frosting, I made a batch of buttercream, and then added a stick of cream cheese to it at the end (as I find regular buttercream too sweet, and I love the tang of cream cheese in a frosting).  I added just enough green coloring to suggest the color of grass, and then use an offset spatula to apply the first "crumb coat" layer of frosting.

After letting that set in the fridge for a half hour or so, I applied the final "smooth" layer of frosting.  I didn't worry too much about making the top super smooth, as that would end up covered with piped grass.

Then came the fun part.  Using a special tip that has multiple holes, I covered the top of the cake by piping on "grass".  And then I piped on a "grass" border on the bottom of the cake as well.

For the golf ball decoration I used white chocolate and this golf ball candy mold, and I made a few just in case there was any breakage.  The first step was to cover the insides of a few of the golf balls of the mold with melted white chocolate, and then placed it in the fridge for them to harden.  This would be one half of each golf ball.  Once they were set, I popped them out of the mold, and then repeated the step to cover mold in chocolate.

Then, before the chocolate hardened, I topped each one with the other half of the golf ball from step one.  This way, the new chocolate would harden with the other half attached to it, to form a complete golf ball.  I chose the best looking golf ball out of the ones I had made, and placed it on top of the cake.

The final touch was a little birthday banner that I made out of craft paper, thread, and bamboo skewers - similar to the ones I had made for the Superman cake and the Thanksgiving birthday cake.  I tried to stick with "manly golf colors" that would go with the color of the cake, but I guess you can only get so manly when it comes to a festive birthday banner!

It was so great to see Bonnie again after so many years, even if it was only for a few minutes when I went to drop off the cake.  Happy Birthday to her hubby Dave!  Hope everyone enjoyed the cake!

*** Update: Made a second golf ball cake here!  Except this time it was an 8-inch cake and filled with chocolate mousse!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

baby shower duckie and onesie cookies

My friend Cindy has a cousin who asked me to make baby shower goodies a few months ago.  We decided on an 8-inch cake and two dozen cupcakes (blog post to come later), and also duckie and onesie cookies for the favors.  I've made onesie cookies a few times before, but had not made duckie cookies yet.  Luckily, I had recently bought this animal cookie cutter set, which included a duck cookie cutter!

I used my favorite homemade sugar cookie recipe, but you could of course use store bought.  Once they were cut, baked, and cooled, I started on making my royal icing, also from the same book.  I divided the icing into separate air-tight containers so that I could mix in the colors; I would be needing white, blue, yellow, a tiny bit of orange, and an even tinier bit of black.

For the duckies, I started by piping on an outline with stiff yellow icing, leaving an empty space for the beaks, and then filled the ducks in with thinned yellow icing. Then I piped an orange outline for the beaks, and then filled them in with thinned orange icing.

After letting them dry overnight, I piped on another orange outline on top of the beaks, and then another yellow outline over the rest of the ducks.  Then I piped on the outline of the wings, and finally dotted each eye with stiff black icing.

For the onesies, I used this cookie cutter to cut out my shapes. Then once baked and cooled, I first piped an outline with stiff white icing, and then filled it all in with thinned white icing.  Once that dried overnight, I piped on an outline with stuff blue icing, as well as blue details including buttons and a little heart in the center of the onesie.

Once everything was completely dry, I packaged them in individual cellophane bags, tied with raffia and a custom favor tag.  I hope everyone at the baby shower enjoyed them!  Stay tuned for the cake and cupcakes that went along with these cookies!

*** Update: The matching baby shower cake and cupcakes can be found here!