Sunday, June 26, 2016

flag tart for fourth of july

Last year we spent our Fourth of July at a friend's place in Truckee, and we had decided we would all bring various foods and have a BBQ there. Among other things, I wanted to bring a dessert that I could make in advance, would survive the four hour drive, and would last in the fridge until the next evening. I remembered a rectangular flag tart that I had made a couple of years back, and I thought something similar would be the perfect dessert to bring!

This time, I decided to make an Oreo cookie crust instead of my regular pie crust, so I found this recipe from Crazy for Crust (the recipe uses whole Oreos, with the cookie filling and all!)

After pulverizing my Oreos in the food processor and adding a bit of melted butter, I pressed the crumb mixture into a 9-inch tart pan, and baked it at 350F for about 10 minutes until set.

While the crust was cooling, I whipped up the no-bake filling, recipe from Martha Stewart. (Note: I only ended up using half of the filling, as the recipe is meant for a 2-inch tall springform pan)

Then I made my "flag" with fresh blueberries ...

... and fresh raspberries for the stripes on the flag. (Note: after washing the fruit, make sure to blot the fruit with paper towels, so that they don't leak water all over your pie!)

The combination of flavors was wonderful! With the chocolate crust, creamy filling, and tangy fresh fruit, it was perfect and refreshing for our Fourth of July celebration!

Hope you have a Happy Fourth! Enjoy!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

cookie monster cupcakes

Last year for my son Micah's birthday, I made him Elmo cupcakes because he absolutely loved Elmo at the time. This year for his third birthday, I decided to make him Cookie Monster cupcakes, because he just loves to eat!!!

I made the same chocolate cupcakes as I did last year, and piped Cookie Monsters details with cream cheese frosting. I started by using a large round tip to pipe white frosting into two eyes...

And then a #3 tip with black frosting to pipe his crazy eyeballs.

Next I used the same #3 tip to pipe the mouth (and filled it in with the same tip).

And finally, I used a #18 star tip with blue frosting to pipe Cookie Monster's fur!

Isn't he cute?!

And of course, Cookie Monster wouldn't be complete without a cookie hanging out of his mouth! (I used mini chips ahoy, instead of baking my own, just to save time!)

 Happy happy birthday, my little cookie monster!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

rum raisin pie for father's day

By Father's Day each year, we are usually all caked out. With our youngest son's birthday in February, both of our moms and my brother's birthdays in March, my birthday in April, Mother's Day in May, and my husband's birthday in May as well, that's a lot of cakes that we have eaten by June! So by the time Father's Day rolled around last year, I figured the hubby would enjoy a nice pie instead!

One of my husband's favorite ice cream flavors is rum raisin, so when I saw Martha Stewart make this rum raisin pie recipe on her show, I knew that I would make it for him. The recipe starts out with making a flakey pie crust, which is first blind baked (with parchment paper and dried beans or pie weights).

I suggest freezing or chilling your pie dough after you've rolled it out and placed it in your pie dish - I skipped this step and look how much my pie crust shrank after baking! Doh!

Anyhow, after your baked pie crust has cooled, sprinkle golden raisins in an even layer on the bottom of the pie shell. Next you will make a quick custard on the stove, with a bit of rum stirred in at the end. This custard is poured over the golden raisins in the pie shell, and then the pie is baked until the center is set.

Once out of the oven, let the pie cool.

To decorate the pie, I made a little fondant "dad" topper, which I painted gold using edible cake paint. (I had just recently made this gold fondant monogram topper for a baby's first birthday cake, and was still feeling inspired!)

The pie ended up having really good flavor, but I must not have been diligent enough while stirring my custard on the stove, because the texture of the pie was a bit on the grainy side.

Nevertheless, it was a good tasting pie, and perfect for our Father's Day celebration.

Hope you have a happy Father's Day!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

mickey mouse face birthday cake

In addition to the kids Mickey Mouse cake with handmade fondant topper for Marni's 2nd birthday party, I also made this 10-inch cake with Micky's face piped on top! This time we decided on a coffee chiffon cake, since it would be for the adults!

Normally I would bake two 10-inch cakes and then cut them in half horizontally to create four layers of cake, but this time I was making chiffon cake, which is really light and airy and too delicate to cut in half horizontally for assembling. So instead I baked four separate not-as-tall cakes, which I then filled with espresso whipped cream.

I decided to also cover the cake with whipped cream as well, since I didn't think the chiffon cake could handle a heavy dose of buttercream.

After smoothing out the top and sides of the cake, I piped a simple beaded border around the top of the cake.

Then I was ready to pipe Mickey's face on top! I started by using a toothpick to outline Mickey's details, and then went back with black frosting and a small round tip to pipe over the outline. I also filled in his nose, eyeballs, and mouth with the black frosting and the same small round tip.

Then I used a star tip to fill in the rest of Mickey's details - black frosting for his ears and head, ivory frosting for his face, white frosting for the whites of his eyes, and red for his tongue.

And then it was done! Simple, clean, and cute - just the kind of cake I love to make!

I thought the two cakes looked great together on the cake table, and with the homemade oreos as well! And Helen did such a good job with the decorations!

Funny story, when it was time to cut the cake, Helen and I realized that neither of us had brought a cake knife!!! Or any knives for that matter, not even plastic knives! So (to my horror) I ended up cutting the cakes with wooden coffee stirrers. But while the slices were super messy, people still asked for seconding helpings, so (I think) at least it tasted great! And that makes me happy!

Happy birthday, Marni!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

mickey mouse birthday cake with handmade fondant mickey hat

My good friend Helen has an adorable daughter named Marni, who discovered Disneyland and Mickey Mouse a few months before her 2nd birthday. She loved it so much that Helen asked me to make a Mickey Mouse cake for the birthday party! We collaborated on ideas for a few weeks, before deciding to do two cakes - one for the kids, and one for the adults - and this is what we decided on for the kids cake! An 8-inch strawberries and cream cake, topped with a handmade fondant Mickey Mouse hat!

A few weeks before the party, I got started on the fondant hat, since I knew it would need time to dry completely. So I bought some black fondant (to save myself the time and colored hands it would take to color my own fondant), and got to work!

I started by rolling out the black fondant pretty thin, and then used an upside-down bowl to form the shape of my Mickey hat.

Then I used a pizza cutter and a paring knife to trim off the excess fondant.

Next I rolled out more fondant and used a round cookie cutter to cut out circle shapes for the ears. These would fit into little slits that I cut into my hat once everything was dry. (I also used black royal icing to "glue" the ears into the slits in the hat).

For the lettering on the hat, I used white fondant which I colored with golden yellow, and rolled it out into a long thin rope. Then I formed that into my cursive lettering and let it dry for several days before attaching it to my hat with just a bit of water.

Then the evening before the party, I started on on the cake. I baked two 8-inch vanilla cakes (recipe in my book, The Hello Kitty Baking Book!), which cooled and then cut into half horizontally, giving me four cake layers. Then I filled each layer with freshly whipped cream and fresh sliced strawberries.

Once the cake was assembled, I whipped up a batch of cream cheese buttercream, which I tinted bright red before covering the top and sides of the cake with it (first a crumb coat, then a 30-minute chill in the fridge, and then a final smooth coat of frosting).

The next morning, the cake was ready to be decorated!

I added two white fondant circles for Mickey's buttons ...

.. and then came the final touch, my handmade fondant Mickey hat!

I couldn't wait for Marni and Helen to see it!!!

In addition to the cake, I also made homemade oreos (based on Thomas Keller's TKOs), as well as the cake for the adults (stay tuned for my next post!)

The party was at a beautiful park with a playground, and featured dim sum, pizza, a one-man bubble show, as well as a live Mickey Mouse who came and played and danced with the kids! Soooo much fun!!!

Happy Birthday, Marni!!!