Friday, October 22, 2021

vegan boba milk tea cake, a collaboration with twrl milk tea

Wow, has it really been a year and a half since my last post? I could blame it on the global pandemic I guess, but really even despite that craziness, life has just gotten so busy! Anyway, it's time for me to get back to posting, I have so much content! And I'm so excited to share my latest project and collaboration with Twrl milk tea

Twrl is 100% women-founded and a minority-owned beverage company right here in the bay area. Their milk teas are ready-to-drink, plant-based, made with organic fair-trade tea, dairy and allergen free. So if you're looking for milk tea on the go and something plant based, check them out!

I found out about Twrl through my old high school friend Olivia. (Actually, we go way back to elementary school! But we lost touch after high school and only recently reconnected.) She was curating a limited edition box of goodies to celebrate the upcoming Chinese Moon Festival, and proceeds would benefit the nonprofit organization Project EMplify and would feature AAPI-founded brands. I offered to contribute royal icing cookies decorated to look like mooncakes (will post on that later but you can see what they looked like here). After our collaboration, we decided that I could do another collaboration and actually bake something with Twrl milk tea. And thus, this cake was born!

For the cake, we decided it had to be vegan, since Twrl milk tea itself is plant-based. So I decided to do a take on my go-to vanilla cake (recipe in my book, The Hello Kitty Baking Book), make it vegan, and incorporate Twrl milk tea as the liquid! Twrl currently comes in three flavors - Original Black Tea, Supreme Jasmine, and Hojicha roasted green tea. I chose to use the Jasmine flavor because I loved the floral notes, and thought it would really stand out and be delicious in a cake like this.

So I baked my vegan milk tea cakes in four 4-inch round cake pans, and once they were cool I sliced each cake in half horizontally to give me 8 cake layers. Next up, the filling.

I usually like to fill my cakes with homemade whipped cream, but since this filling had to be vegan, I decided to do a vegan pastry cream instead, using an entire can of the Jasmine milk tea. Since I didn't want the pastry cream to spill over the sides of the cake (I learned that the hard way here), I knew I would need to pipe a ring of buttercream to contain the pastry cream.

Lately I have loved the taste and texture of Swiss meringue buttercream (recipe also in my book), and since Swiss mergingue buttercream is made with egg whites, I made it vegan by using aquafaba instead (the liquid that comes in a can of chickpeas/garbanzo beans). I had recently been experimenting with aquafaba because my toddler niece is allergic to egg whites, so my previous aquafaba trials came in handy here! And instead of butter, I turned to vegan butter (there are lots of brands out there but I used Earth Balance organic whipped buttery spread). 

After all the cake layers were stacked and filled, I covered the top and sides with my vegan buttercream, chilled it in the fridge for 30 minutes, and then did a second coat of buttercream. Next, I made eyes and a smile out of fondant, and attached them to my cake with a bit of the buttercream. Then I colored a few scoops of the buttercream using black and brown gel-based food coloring, as well as a few tablespoons of sifted dark cocoa powder to reduce the amount of food coloring used. Using a medium round tip, I piped little "boba tapioca balls" along the bottom of my cake. And finally, I topped the cake with a large boba straw placed at an angle.

Isn't it a cutie?!

You can find the recipe on the Twrl website! Also, if you are interested in trying their milk teas. Use the discount code IHEART on their site. Valid 10/20/21-10/27/21. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 8, 2020

coffee chiffon cake with dark chocolate sail sculpture

I love to make birthday cakes for my friends, and at one point last year I became obsessed with making chocolate sculptures to decorate my birthday cakes with! I had seen it all over Instagram and fell in love with the way they added such artistry to cakes, in such a free-form and abstract way. 

The first of many chocolate sculpture cakes that I ended up making throughout the year, this one was for my friend Hsing, who I met at work years and years ago. At the time we were the only females on our team, and although we are no longer at the same company, we still make it a point to meet for lunches several times throughout the year.

I typically make chiffon cakes for Hsing, since she she likes the type of light and airy cake that you can commonly find at Asian bakeries. This time I decided to make a coffee chiffon cake, filled and frosted with espresso whipped cream.

I typically do a crumb coat of frosting, then let it chill in the fridge for at least a half our, before adding a second coat of frosting and smoothing it out completely with an offset spatula.

While the assembled and frosted cake chilled in the fridge, I got started on making the topper. In a double boiler, I melted dark chocolate with a bit of coconut oil, and then poured it out onto a baking sheet lined with a silicone liner. Then I positioned the silicone liner insde of a glass bowl, using binder clips to secure it in a way that would provide an interesting shape to the chocolate.

Once the chocolate had cooled, I removed the binder clips and carefully removed the silicone liner, giving me a chocolate sculpture!

I secured it to the top of the cake with a bit of the espresso whipped cream, and then it was done!

I love the simplicity of this type of decorative cake topper, plus it's edible!

Hope you had a Happy Birthday, Hsing!

Sunday, March 1, 2020

hand painted heart and diamond ring bridal party cookies

Sometime last summer, my friend Monica asked me to make bachelorette party cookies to go inside of goody bags that she was putting together. She was the Matron of Honor for her little cousin, and they were going to be travelling to Cabo for the party. She wanted a pink and gold theme, and wanted to customize the cookies with the names of each of the ladies. We ended up deciding on heart cookies and engagement ring cookies, each decorated with pink roses and greenery, with one white heart cookie for the bride and the rest of the cookies pink. This was definitely going to be a fun cookie project!

For the engagement ring cookies, I used a cutter from Cookie Cutter Kingdom, and my favorite sugar cookie and royal icing recipes (which you can find in my book, The Hello Kitty Baking Book!). Once the cookies were baked and cooled, I started to decorate with white icing for the diamond, and finished with gold icing for the ring (tinted with Americolor gold gel-based food coloring). For a tutorial on how I did this, you can see my previous engagment ring cookie post here.

Then I finished by using pink stiff icing to pipe tiny rosettes, followed by stiff green icing to pipe green leaves (using this leaf tip).

I thought they turned out pretty cute, and the rosettes and leaves added a nice feminine touch.

For the heart cookies, I used this heart cookie cutter set (which I also used for these lovebird wedding favor cookies and these lovebird bridal shower cookies).

Even though I only needed one white heart cookie for the bride, I made several in case I messed up on painting her name!

For the gold letter painting, I used a combination of gold luster dust mixed with clear vanilla extract to form a "paint", and then used a food-safe brush to paint the caligraphy names.


I loved the combination of the rings and hearts together! 

Happy Bachelorette Party, Victoria!

Sunday, February 23, 2020

minecraft wolf birthday cake with handmade fondant topper

So my previous post was about the Minecraft pickaxe birthday cake that I made for my son's 11th birthday. And here's the cake that I made for his 12th birthday (which was 6 months ago 😂)! He wanted a Minecraft cake again, this time a Minecraft wolf birthday cake! I took the same approach to making the fondant topper - using a small square cutter to cut out various colors of fondant. Then I secured the squares onto a cardboard cut out using frosting.

For the cake, he requested a lychee and whipped cream filling, so I baked up two layers of my favorite vanilla cake (recipe in my book, The Hello Kitty Baking Book!), which I then sliced in half horizontally to give me four cake layers. Then I filled each layer with freshly whipped cream and diced lychee, which I had drained of it's juice.

Once all of the cake layers were assembled, I covered it with Swiss meringue buttercream, which I tinted gray. I typically do a crumb coat first, then let it chill in the fridge before adding a second final layer of frosting, however lately I have been doing one thick frosting layer to save myself some time.

Once I smoothed out my frosting with an offset spatula (which usually takes several iterations of smoothing, adding more frosting to uneven spots, more smoothing, etc), I was ready to add my decorations. 

I started with adding fondant letters for his name (made with tinted fondant pressed into a silicone letters mold), and then added a few of the fondant squares that I had made in advance for the topper.

Then it was time to add the wolf topper!

I added bamboo skewers to the topper so that I could secure on top of the cake. The topper turned out quite large, but I suppose it has a dramatic effect?

I cannot believe that next birthday he will be a teenager! 😭 

Happy Birthday, Matthew! We love you!

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

minecraft diamond pickaxe birthday cake

Oh man. I'm so behind. I made this cake a year ago, for my oldest son Matthew's 11th birthday. And here we are, one year later, and he just turned 12!

He had requested another minecraft cake. But this time he wanted a giant Minecraft diamond pickaxe topper. I guess they use them to mine diamonds in the game? Anyway he showed me a picture of what he wanted, so I made it for him, out of various colored fondant squares that I had cut out one by one with a mini square cookie cutter.

And then when I assembled the topper, I realized that I had made it waaaaaay too big. Ooops!

For the cake, he had requested vanilla cake filled with whipped cream and STRAWBERRY JELLO. Hmm. Interesting combination, no?

To get started, I whipped up two batches of my favorite vanilla cake (you can find the recipe in my book, The Hello Kitty Baking Book!) and baked them in two 8-inch round cake pans. Once cooled, I sliced them in half horizontally to give me four cake layers. And then I filled them with freshly whipped cream.

And the Jello. I had made the Jello layer in advance, by chilling the prepared Jello in two 8-inch cake pans that I had sprayed with nonstick cooking spray so that I would come out easily. I did have a few cracks in the Jello while I attempted to place the layer on the whipped cream, but it was mostly in one piece.

After assembling the cake (four cake layers, three layers of whipped cream, and two layers of Jello), I covered the tops and sides with swiss meringue frosting (recipe also in my book!). I usually do a quick crumb coat, let it set in the fridge, and then do a final coat, which I then smooth out with an offset spatula. Then I put everything in the fridge to set overnight.

The next morning, I was ready to decorate! First I piped his name in the middle of the cake, and then I added a few of the fondant squares that I had made previously. Just to give the cake a bit of a pixelated look.

Next came the number candles (which I had bought from Party City, I believe).

And then came the topper! I really did make this way to big. And truth be told, it kept falling off the cake, it was just too big and heavy! 

In the end, I got mixed reviews on the jello / whipped cream / cake combination, but the birthday boy loved it so that's all that matters!

Happy Birthday, Matthew! We love you!