Sunday, June 28, 2015

giraffe baby shower cake


A few months ago, my neighbor and good friend Cindy was helping to plan a baby shower for one of her friends, and she asked me to make a small baby shower cake for the dessert table. It wouldn't be for the the 100+ guests to eat, rather a little cake for the parents-to-be to bring home and enjoy. Since the baby shower theme colors were yellow and gray, we decided on a 6-inch yellow cake with gray letters and piped beaded border. And a little giraffe fondant topper for the top!

Inspired by the fondant work by Paola's Creations, I set out to make my fondant giraffe. I've only done a few fondant toppers in the past (an elephant with balloon, a mustached baby, and "BABY" letters), so I was excited to be making a giraffe!


First I tinted my fondant with a combination of lemon yellow and golden yellow gel-based food coloring. After kneading the coloring into the fondant to get an even tone, I roughly formed the giraffe's pieces.


For the head, I made ears and added a light brown fondant for the muzzle, and dark brown tinted fondant for the little tuft of hair. Then I used an edible food marker to add his eyes and nostrils.


Then I added dark brown fondant to the feet and a dark brown tuft of hair, and then light brown fondant for the spots and antlers. And then I could assemble it!


Isn't he cute?!


I also made some green fondant leaves for the giraffe to sit on, to add a little more color to the cake.


For the cake, we had decided on strawberry shortcake, so I baked up my go-to vanilla cake (recipe in my book, The Hello Kitty Baking Book!), cut each layer in half horizontally, and filled it with freshly whipped cream and sliced strawberries.



Then I made a batch of yellow buttercream and covered the top and sides of the cake with it.


I smoothed out the frosting out with an offset spatula, and then piped a quick beaded border along the bottom with gray buttercream.


After adding lettering and securing the fondant giraffe with a bit of buttercream, I thought it was so cute as-is that I almost didn't want to add the fondant leaves!


But in the end I added them anyway, for a pop of color.



The best thing about making fondant toppers is that the recipient can keep it indefinitely! Just wipe the frosting off of the bottom, and you can keep it on a bookshelf or something, as long as it's not in the sun and in is a cool dry place.


Hope you had a wonderful baby shower, CC and Ryan!

Monday, June 22, 2015

baby face cookies for a baby shower


Last year I made this macaron-topped peaches and cream baby shower cake for my friend Irene, and while I was at the baby shower, I bumped into a girl named Stephanie that I went to high school with years and years ago! We hadn't seen each other since high school, and it was so nice to catch up with her!

Several months later, Stephanie asked me to make a cake for her twin sister Selena's baby shower! While I wasn't able to make the cake because of previous commitments, I offered to make cookies instead, since I could make them a few days in advance and then wrap them individually in cellophane bags to keep them fresh.


The cookies would be cute baby face cookies to match the logo on the baby shower invitations, so I used a 3.5 inch round cutter to cut out shapes from my sugar cookie dough (recipe in my new book, The Hello Kitty Baking Book!)


After the cookies were baked and cooled, I whipped up a batch of royal icing (recipe in my book as well!), and tinted the majority of it with ivory gel-based food coloring. Then I used ivory stiff royal icing to outline my circles, and ivory runny royal icing to fill them in.


Then before the ivory icing dried, I dropped two small rounds of pink runny icing (for the cheeks) into the still-wet ivory icing. This way, the pink cheeks wouldn't be raised, and would be flush with the rest of the ivory icing.


Then I used black stiff icing with a Wilton #2 tip to pipe the eyes and the little swirl of hair.


Finally, I used a Wilton #1 tip (the smallest tip possible!) to pipe the cute little smiling mouth.


After I let them dry completely, they were done!



Just look at all those little smiling baby faces! Brings a smile to my face!


Stephanie ended up giving the cookies out as the favors, which worked out perfectly because they were already individually wrapped!


Happy baby shower, Selena! Hope you enjoyed the cookies!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

half naked layer cake with fresh blueberries and lemon whipped cream



Last year I made this macaron baby shower cake for my friend Irene, and while I was at the baby shower I met her good friend Sharon. Almost a year later later, Sharon's friend Jennie contacted me about making a cake for her husband's surprise 50th birthday party! It's always so exciting for me to hear that friends of friends like my work, so I of course was super excited to make this cake!

Jennie and I went back and forth with several cake designs, and in the end we chose to do a rustic naked cake decorated with fresh lemon slices, inspired by a cake made by Knead To Make. To continue with the lemon theme on the inside of the cake, we decided to go with a vanilla cake filled with lemon whipped cream and fresh blueberries.


For the vanilla cake, I made two batches of my favorite vanilla batter (recipe in my book, The Hello Kitty Baking Book!) and baked it in two 10-inch round cake pan. Once cooled, I sliced each cake in half horizontally, giving me four layers. Then I whipped up a large batch of whipped cream, which I lightly sweetened with powdered sugar, and flavored it with fresh lemon juice and lemon zest to give a nice lemony tang. Each cake layer was then filled with a heavy dose of lemon whipped cream and a layer of fresh blueberries.


Once the cake was assembled, I whipped up a batch of vanilla buttercream frosting and covered the top and sides of the cake with it.


I did my best at smoothing out the frosting while still keeping the "naked cake" effect, allowing some of the cake layers to peek out from the frosting. 


I let the cake chill in the fridge overnight, and the next morning I started prepping my fresh lemon slices. Since I wanted the prettiest, biggest lemon slices (cut from only the middle of the lemon), I ended up using seven lemons while looking for the perfect slice! I blotted each slice with paper towel, and then dusted each one with powdered sugar to help keep them looking glossy.


The frosting had set nicely by now, so I piped a bit of frosting on the back of each lemon slice to attach them to the cake.


The final touch was a few sprigs of fresh rosemary, which I secured with toothpicks.


I loved the end result! The combination of the vibrant colors, graphic shapes, and "striped" effect of the naked cake was just what we were going for!


Jennie ended up topping the cake with lots of candles and sparklers, and while I don't have a picture of it or the inside of the cake, she informed me that the cake was a hit, and even people who normally don't like cake came back for a second slice! That just made my day.


Happy Birthday, Jennie's husband! :) 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

japanese cheesecake with whipped cream and raspberries


I've been meaning to try making a Japanese cheesecake again, after making this one a few years ago. I remember it being very light and fluffy, yet super flavorful at the same time (think soft fluffy cheesecake instead of a dense rich cheesecake!). So when it was time to make something for my brother's birthday, I thought it would be the perfect cake for him!


What makes this cheesecake so light and fluffy are eggs whites, which are whipped to stiff peaks and then folded in with the rest of the cream cheese batter.


I used this recipe at Diana's Desserts once again, but this time instead of baking it in a 9-inch springform pan I baked it in an 8-inch round cake pan (lined with parchment paper), in a water bath.


Look how tall and fluffy it got!


After letting it cool to room temperature, I let it chill in the fridge overnight. Then the next morning I whipped up some fresh whipped cream, tinted with a bit of vanilla extract and sweetened with a bit of confectioner's sugar, and covered the top and sides of the cake with it.


Then I used a Wilton #104 petal tip to pipe rows of ruffles along the sides of the cake. (My new favorite way to frost a cake, see here and here!)


Then I decorated it with a ring of fresh raspberries (since my brother likes cakes with fresh fruit!)


I loved the color effect - the striking red of the raspberries against the white of the whipped cream. So cute! (Now that I think about it, this combination looks a bit like the Mother's Day cake I made last year ... hmmmm.)


Happy Birthday, Michael! Hope you enjoyed the cake! :)

Sunday, May 31, 2015

hello kitty macaron cake with neapolitan layers (and nut-free sesame seed macarons!)


I've been wanting to make a macaron cake for a long time now, ever since I saw this snowman macaron cake at Rasberri Cupcakes. (And even before that, when I saw her heart macaron cake! SO adorable!) Since Hello Kitty macarons are my thing, I decided to make a Hello Kitty macaron cake for my birthday this past April! And since I've been obsessed with neapolitan ever since making my daughter's neapolitan birthday cupcakes, I decided to make it a neapolitan cake! Wheee!


Since my daughter is severely allergic to all nuts, and macarons are normally made with almond flour, I set out to find a nut-free recipe to use since I wanted her to be able to enjoy a slice of my birthday cake. So I ended up trying out this recipe at Pizza Rossa, which uses ground-up sesame seeds instead of almond flour!


Since these macarons were going on top of a neapolitan cake, I decided to fill my macarons with a rich strawberry chocolate ganache (recipe here!)


The sesame in the macarons ended up tasting delicious, and with the strawberry chocolate ganache the combination reminded me of eating a peanut butter, strawberry jam, and chocolate sandwich! (Which is sorta scary to me because my daughter is severely allergic to peanuts!)

The only thing I didn't like was that I had used roasted sesame seeds, which caused lots of dark specks in my macaron shell, so next time I would use raw sesame seeds instead.


Once the macarons were done, I moved on to the cake! I wanted a light and fluffy neapolitan cake, so I found use this neapolitan sponge cake recipe at Not Quite Nigella (except I cut the recipe in half because I didn't want my layers so tall).




Once I had my vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate batters in my ungreased 8-inch pans, I baked them and let them cool.


To assemble, I started with the chocolate layer, which I topped with rich chocolate mousse.


Then came the vanilla cake layer ,which I topped with a vanilla whipped cream.


And finally the strawberry layer, which I topped with a strawberry whipped cream.


Then I proceeded to cover the sides and top of the cake with strawberry whipped cream. I'm telling you guys, this stuff tastes just like strawberry ice cream! So good!


And finally, I added my nut-free Hello Kitty macarons.


WHEEEEEE!


This is probably my most favorite Hello Kitty birthday cake. Well, besides this ombre Hello Kitty cake. And this Hello Kitty baked alaska.


Oh who am I kidding, I love all Hello Kitty cakes!!!


And the neapolitan inside! LOVE! :)


Happy Birthday to all you April babies out there!