Wednesday, January 30, 2013

elephant baby shower cake

My good friend Helen just had a baby girl this month, and had asked me to make a cake for her pink and white baby shower a couple of months ago (which is also featured this month on the  Hostess With The Mostess blog!).  I had happened to see a cake that she had pinned on her Pinterest board, and I quickly realized that I had already seen this cake before on Hello Naomi's blog, while drooling over her gorgeous cake creations!  What better inspiration to model my cake after!  So I decided to replicate the adorable fondant elephant, but I wanted to do the cake covered in cream cheese buttercream instead of fondant.

I started by making my fondant elephant almost a week before the baby shower, in order to give it time to fully dry.  At first I tried molding the elephant body and then attaching the trunk and legs, but I couldn't get it to look smooth.  So I ended up molding the entire elephant out of one piece of fondant.  Then I rolled, cut, and attached pink elephant ears on either side, and used an edible Foodwriter pen to draw on the eyes.  For the balloon, I shaped it out of pink fondant, and then formed floral wire into a spiral and stuck it into the bottom of the balloon while the fondant was still moist.  Then I let both the elephant and the balloon dry for the rest of the week.

Helen requested a vanilla cake with strawberries and whipped cream.  I had already made this exact combination a number of times but with different vanilla cake recipes - first for my son's Superman birthday cake, then a year later for my son's Spiderman birthday cake, and then again for my cousin's blue whale baby shower cake - but in my opinion they were all too dense.  I was searching for a really fluffy vanilla cake instead.  I decided to go with Sweetapolita's recipe once more, but instead of adding the whipped cream to the batter at the end, I decided to try using sour cream.

Once the cake had baked and cooled, I set out to assemble it, alternating layers of cake, freshly whipped cream, and sliced strawberries.

Then I whipped up a batch of cream cheese buttercream, colored most of it pink, and applied a quick crumb coat of frosting.

I let it set a bit in the fridge, before applying a second coat of frosting.  Next I used white cream cheese buttercream to pipe the baby's name on the side of the cake, and also piped little dots in sets of four all over the cake.  To finish it off, I piped a white beaded border along the bottom of the cake.

And finally, I added the fondant elephant topper!

Then it was time to bring it to the baby shower!  Stay tuned for the rest of the pink and white desserts that I made for the shower!

Congratulations, Helen!  Little Marni is so precious and adorable! :)

Update - To see the other goodies that I made for the dessert table, click here!

Friday, January 18, 2013

blue whale baby shower cake

My cousin Yvonne asked me to make a cake for her baby shower a few months ago, and of course I was happy to do it!  We decided on a vanilla cake filled with fresh whipped cream and strawberries, with a blue whale on top (inspired by her current favorite emoticon).  After doing a quick sketch of the whale, I also decided to do blue ombre petal sides on the cake, to resemble waves.

For the vanilla cake, I decided to use the same Sweetapolita recipe that I had used for my son's Spiderman birthday cupcakes this year, except for an 9-inch cake instead of cupcakes.

Once the cake layers were baked and cooled, I whipped up a batch of fresh whipped cream flavored with a hint of vanilla, and also a batch of cream cheese buttercream, which I used to pipe a border to contain the whipped cream.

After filling the piped border with whipped cream, I arranged freshly sliced strawberries in an even layer, and then covered it with more whipped cream.

Then I added my second layer of cake, and then did a quick crumb coat with the cream cheese buttercream.

Then came the fun part - the ombre petal sides!  A while ago I found a great tutorial at Hungry Housewife, and since then have done a purple ombre petal cake, an all-blue petal cake, and a camoflauge petal cake as well!  They are so much fun to do!

Next, I divided my frosting, colored, and filled my piping bags (fitted with a Wilton #12 tip), and then I was ready to do my petal sides.

Then I was ready to pipe my whale.  I started by piping an outline of the whale, then added eyes and the fins, and then filled it in using a star tip.

Then I added a dotted stream of water coming out of his spout, and a congratulatory message to finish it off!

Baby Ethan was born about a month later, healthy and happy!  Isn't he adorable? :) Congratulations Yvonne!

Monday, January 14, 2013

hello kitty meringue cookies

After making the mini s'mores cupcakes for my first wedding dessert table, I had a ton of Swiss meringue left over.  As I don't like to let things go to waste, I decided to make meringue cookies with it!  After all, meringue cookies are simply made with meringue, and then baked at a low temperature until the meringue hardens.  So re-whipped my Swiss meringue, and filled a piping bag fitted with a large Wilton 2D tip.  Then I piped rows of pretty stars on a baking sheet lined with a silpat.

But while I was piping my stars, I realized that I could actually make any shape I wanted ... and what I wanted was Hello Kitty meringue cookies!  So I switched to a  large round tip to pipe my Hello Kitty faces, and a Wilton leaf tip to pipe my Hello Kitty ears (similar to how I've piped Hello Kitty onto cupcakes using frosting, or this cake using Swiss meringue buttercream).

For the Hello Kitty bows, I used heart-shaped sprinkles, just like with my Hello Kitty macarons.  And then they were ready for the oven!

I ended up baking them at 250F, for about an hour with the Hello Kitty meringues (and a little longer for the large star meringues).

After they were baked, I thought I could draw Hello Kitty's eyes, nose, and whiskers with edible Foodwriter pens (as I did with my Hello Kitty macarons), but alas the edible pen would not write well on the surface of the meringue!  But no matter, I still thought that the Hello Kitty meringues came out adorable even without faces!

Even the star meringues came out quite cute as well!  Hooray for using up leftovers!

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

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

holiday birthday ice cream cake

My husband's parents were visiting from Hawaii recently, during which we celebrated my father-in-law's December birthday.  I knew that on previous visits, he had liked my homemade coffee oreo ice cream, so I decided to make him an ice cream cake!

For the bottom layer I made a 6-inch chocolate cake using my favorite recipe.  Then for the ice cream layer, I made my coffee oreo ice cream, and froze it in a 6-inch cake pan.  Once the ice cream was frozen, I assembled my cake.

To decorate the cake, I wanted to avoid using buttercream, as I wanted something light and not too sweet, so I chose to cover the cake with freshly whipped cream.  As I have found with past ice cream cakes (see my links for Elmo ice cream cake and Hello Kitty ice cream cakes), covering an ice cream cake with any frosting has it's challenges, and requires putting the cake back in the freezer every few minutes to avoid the melting of the ice cream layer.  But I was eventually able to cover the cake with two coats of whipped cream, and then I finished it off with a simple shell border.

I wasn't planning on making anything fancy, but I still wanted the cake to be festive, so I sprinkled edible red, green, and white confetti all over the cake.  The final touch was a quick birthday message.  And of course, birthday candles!

Then we sang "Happy Birthday", and the kids helped Grandpa blow out the candles.

Hope you had a happy birthday, Dad!  We're glad we got to spend it with you this year!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

champagne sherbet

Happy New Year!

On New Years Day we had half bottle of champagne left over from the night before, and of course I couldn't let it go to waste!  So the first thing that came to mind was to make champagne sorbet!

After a quick internet search for a recipe, I found this one at Simply Recipes, which looked and sounded delicious!  But halfway into making my sorbet, I realized that I didn't have any fresh grapefruit on hand.  So I did another search, and switched over to this recipe at Sugarlaws.  After cooking my sorbet mixture on the stove, I tasted it, and it tasted like a really bad cocktail!  So I decided to add some heavy cream to mellow it out.

After adding about a cup of heavy cream, I tasted it again, and it had magically transformed into a delicious creamy champagne concoction!  So I put it in the fridge to chill for the rest of the day, and later that evening I churned it in my ice cream maker for about 30 minutes.  I was a little concerned because even after 30 minutes of churning, it was still quite soft, but I figured that the amount of alcohol in it was the cause.  So after it was done churning, I poured the mixture into a freezer-proof container, and let it set in the freezer overnight.

The resulting sherbet (I call it sherbet since the addition of heavy cream no longer qualifies it as a sorbet!) was refreshing and full of champagne flavor.

Here's to a wonderful 2013!