Wednesday, October 22, 2014

monkey and elephant cookies

After I made these caterpillar cookies for my friend Nancy's daughter's first birthday party, our friend Cindy K. got a chance to see and taste the cookies, and then asked me to make cookies for her daughter Reese's birthday as well! If you know Reese, she is quite the monkey, always climbing up on couches, counters, window sills, you name it! So it seemed only natural for Cindy to be throwing a monkey-themed party! She asked for monkey and elephant cookies, and luckily I already had these Wilton cutters which were perfect!

After baking up 2 batches of my buttery sugar cookies (recipe in my new book!), I whipped up a batch of royal icing (recipe also in the book!), divided it, and colored it. First up were the monkey cookies. I used brown stiff royal icing to outline the face and the ears. Then I used brown runny icing to fill them in.

After letting them dry for several hours (overnight), I used tan stiff icing to pipe an oval outline on the monkey's face, and then filled it in with tan runny icing. Then I used pink runny icing to fill in the ears. Once the tan icing had dried for several hours, I used black stiff icing to pipe the eyes, nose, and mouth. Cute!

For the elephant cookies, I started with stiff gray icing to pipe the elephant outline, as well as the outline of the inner ear, before filling it in with runny gray icing.

Once the icing had dried (overnight), I used runny pink icing to fill in the ears, and black stiff icing to pipe the eyes, nostrils, and smile. Super cute!

Once the cookies had all dried completely, I wrapped each one in a cellophane bag tied with raffia. Then I boxed them up with fat bubble wrap, and sent them on their way to Cindy!

Happy Birthday, Reese! Hope you had an awesome day, you little monkey! :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

very hungry caterpillar cookies

My friend Nancy was having a "Very Hungry Caterpillar" themed first birthday party for her daughter Isla, and she asked me if I could make cookies to go along with the theme. Since Nancy lives in LA and I have never shipped my cookies before, I told her I'd see what I could do, and she could be my test guinea pig for shipping!

But first I had to choose my cookie cutters. For the caterpillar, I searched through my giant container of Wilton animal cookie cutters, and turned out it did contain one for caterpillars! Yay! I didn't have an apple cookie cutter on hand though, so I ordered this one. And for the hole in the middle of the apple, I decided to use the back end of a piping tip, which worked great!

Since I was making 2 dozen cookies, I only need one batch of my sugar cookie recipe (you can find it in my new book!), which I chilled and then rolled out, cut out, and baked at 350F for about 10 minutes.

While the cookies were cooling, I whipped up my royal icing (recipe also in my new book!), divided it, colored it, and stored all the colored icing in airtight containers.

First up, the caterpillars. I started by outlining the head in stiff red icing, and then piped the sections for his body in leaf green (to get a darker green, I actually used leaf green plus a little bit of black and royal blue).

Then I filled in the head with runny red icing, and for the body I mixed a bit of my green icing with some yellow, and alternated runny green icing with runny green-yellow icing. Then I set it aside to dry for several hours.

Once my icing was dry, I piped on the final details with stiff icing - another red outline on the face, another green outline on the sections of the body, and then I used stiff yellow icing to pipe a circle for each eye, and dropped a dot of stiff green icing in the middle for the eyeball. And then a small dot of stiff brown icing for the nose.

For the apple cookies, I started by piping my apple outline with stiff red icing, and the leaf with stiff green icing.

Then I filled in the apple with runny red icing, and the leaf with runny green icing, and then set it aside to dry for several hours.

Once dry, I piped on my details once more - stiff brown icing for the stem, and stiff red icing to outline the apple.

I thought they turned out so cute! (Even though I didn't have room for the caterpillar antennae and feet!)

To package them, I wrapped each cookie in a cellophane bag tied with raffia, and then in my shipping box I alternated layers of fat bubble wrap with single layers of cookies. Amazingly, they all got there okay - not one cookie was broken! Hooray!

Happy first birthday, Isla! Hope you had a wonderful day and enjoyed the goodies!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

captain america cookies

To go along with the Captain America flag-inside cake that I made for my son Matthew's 7th birthday last week, I also made these cookies and individually wrapped them to hand out as favors (as well as for him to pass out to his class).

For the cookies, I made my super-simple sugar cookie recipe (recipe in my new book!), and used a large circular cookie cutter to cut out the shapes. Once the cookies were baked and cooled, I whipped up a batch of royal icing (recipe also in the book!), divided it into three portions, and colored it red and blue (and left the third portion white). Then I used the stiff icing to pipe circles onto my cookies to form Captain America's shield logo.

I thinned out some of the icing, and used that to filled in the gaps with red, white, and blue runny icing. Once that dried overnight, I piped a white star in the middle, filled it in with white runny icing, and once that dried I piped a final white outline on the star.

You'd think it would be super easy since I was just piping circles instead of all the other cookie shapes that I've done, but I'd have to say that it's pretty hard to pipe perfectly round and well-spaced circles! Most of them turned out to be very wobbly circles!

Anyway, they still came out pretty cute, and Matthew and his friends loved them! Hooray!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

captain america cake with flag inside and haupia coconut filling

My oldest baby Matthew turned seven yesterday! This was the first year where he invited his own friends to his birthday party (as opposed to us inviting our friends and their kids!) So he invited three kids from school, and then my family and our neighbors also came to celebrate with him!

This year he wanted a Captain America cake, so Captain America cake he got! On the outside AND on the inside! I've always wanted to make a flag-inside cake for July 4th or something, like this one at 17 and Baking, but never had the chance ... until now!

For the inside of the cake, I made two batches of vanilla cake (recipe in my new book!), divided and colored them, and baked them in 8-inch round pans. One batch of vanilla cake will make two 8-inch cake layers, so I ended up with four cake layers. Since I only needed three (one red, one white, one blue), I wrapped the fourth layer really well in plastic wrap and froze it for later.

To fill the layers, I made a haupia coconut whipped cream filling, based on Matthew's love of coconut (he recently decided that chocolate haupia pie from Ted's Bakery in Hawaii was his favorite dessert ever!). To give my whipped cream a nice coconut flavor, I used Trader Joe's coconut cream, since it was thicker and more concentrated than regular coconut milk.

To assemble the cake, I cut both the white and red cakes in half horizontally. The first white layer went on the cake round, and then I filled it with the coconut whipped cream. Then the first red layer went on top, along with another layer of coconut whipped cream.

Next I took a 4-inch cookie cutter, and cut out the middle of my blue cake layer (this layer does not get cut in half horizontally). Then I also used the 4-inch cookie cutter to cut out my remaining white and red layers.

Then I placed the blue ring layer on top, with the 4-inch white cake layer on the inside of the ring, more coconut filling, and then the 4-inch red cake layer. This is what makes the flag inside!

For the outside of the cake, I whipped up a batch of cream cheese buttercream (recipe also in my new book!), and did a quick crumb coat on the top and sides of the cake. Then I used a toothpick to draw my Captain America design on the top of the cake.

 Finally, I used used the markings to fill in the design with piped stars - white for the star, blue for the circle around the stars, and then alternating rings of red and white.

Matthew loved the cake! And it went perfectly with his Captain America shirt! :)

Although, he didn't even notice the flag inside! He didn't even realize it until I asked him about it on the way home! I had to show him a picture to prove it, and even then he asked "how come there are no stars on the blue part of the flag?"... (sigh)

He also only took one bite of the cake before running off to play with his friends, so he didn't even notice the coconut filling!

But, before bed that night we asked him on a scale of 1 to 10, how much fun he had at his party. At first he said it was a 10. And then he changed his mind and said it was 100! Awww...

Happy Birthday, my Matthew! Thanks for being such an awesome kid! :)

*** Update: You can also see the Captain America cookies that I made to go along with the cake, here!

Friday, September 26, 2014

iron man birthday ice cream cake

My oldest baby Matthew is turning SEVEN next week! How did seven years go by just like that?!

Speaking of how fast time flies, it's been a year since his last birthday and I never got around to posting the cake I made him! In the past I've made him a Spiderman cake, as well as a Superman cake, and last year he had insisted on having an Iron Man cake! We ended up having just a small family get-together, so I made him a cookies-n-cream ice cream cake, with Iron Man piped on the top. Not my best work, but he still loved it!

The entire ice-cream cake recipe can be found in my new book (look for the Badtz-Maru ice cream cake), so I'll just do a quick summary of the steps. It started with homemade cookies-n-cream ice cream, which I churned in advance and then poured into an 8-inch round cake pan that I had lined with plastic wrap, before letting it set in the freezer. (You may have a little ice cream left over, but no worries you can eat it like soft-serve right away!)

Closer to the date of the get-together, I made the chocolate cake layer. Once it was cooled (you may want to stick it in the freezer for a bit so that it's nice and cold and won't melt the ice cream layer), I unwrapped my ice cream layer and placed it on top of the cake layer. Then I used an offset spatula to smoothout the sides where the two layers meet, and then let it chill in the freezer while I made my whipped cream frosting.

Once my whipped cream was ready, I set aside about a cup of it, and to the rest I added cocoa powder to make it chocolate whipped cream. Then I quickly frosted the top and sides of the cake, working as fast as I could so the ice cream wouldn't melt.

Next I filled my piping bag (fitted with a Wilton #21 star tip) with the chocolate whipped cream, then piped a shell border on the top and bottom of the cake. Then back into the freezer it went.

With the frosting that I had set aside, I divided it and colored it black, red, and yellow, leaving just a tiny portion of white. Then I piped my Iron Man face, filling it in with piped stars using a Wilton #16 tip. Then i added some rainbow sprinkles around the edges of the cake to make it look more festive.

When I was done it still didn't look complete. Something looked wrong with Iron Man's face. So I added some vertical lines to make him look more Iron-Man-y.

Hmm .. it still didn't look right, but oh well, I was out of time. Good thing 6-year olds aren't too picky about minor details!

Here's a shot of the inside ...

And here's the birthday boy and his cake :) He was so happy!

Stay tuned for details on this years's upcoming birthday cake!

Friday, September 19, 2014

hello kitty pavlova

My new book, The Hello Kitty Baking Book, came out this week! Hooray! It's been over a year since I first embarked on this project, and I can't believe it's finally being released!

In honor of my new book, I wanted to show you something you can make with the book's recipe for Hello Kitty meringue cookies - you could also use the same recipe to make Hello Kitty pavlovas! Just pipe a large Hello Kitty, and once it's baked you can add freshly whipped cream and fresh fruit! The combination of delicately crumbly meringue with fluffy whipped cream is out of this world! Trust me!

To pipe my large Hello Kitty meringue, I used a disposable piping bag fitted with a large tip. I piped the outline of Hello Kitty, filled it in, and then added another outline on top to act as the border for the whipped cream. Then just for fun, I piped a bow for hello Kitty, to be placed on top at the end. Then I baked it at 225F for about an hour.

Once baked, your meringue should feel light and airy, and will be delicately crumbly.

Then I just topped it with freshly whipped cream, some fresh raspberries, and a sprinkling of powdered sugar. And of course the bow on top!

Or to change it up, you could even make it an espresso flavored meringue. I used espresso powder dissolved with a bit of water, and whipped it with the meringue after it was already whipped to stiff peaks. SO GOOD!

This time I decided to pipe my border with a large star tip, just to make it look more pretty.

Once baked, I again topped it with freshly whipped cream (this time I added a bit of mascarpone and Kahlua, to amp up the coffee meringue).

Then I added fresh raspberries. (You wouldn't think that raspberries and coffee go together, but it is actually really good!)

This time instead of a bow, I added coffee meringue stars that I had piped with my large star tip!


And again to finish it off, I dusted it lightly with powdered sugar. So pretty!

With the rest of the coffee meringue stars, I sandwiched them together with the Kahlua mascarpone whipped cream.


Make these today! You won't regret it! :)