Tuesday, February 28, 2012

hello kitty tiramisu cake

While we were on vacation in Hawaii last month, I found this awesome tool!  And I had to buy it!  It's meant for making pan sushi, which is basically made of ingredients that you would normally roll up in sushi, but spread out in layers inside a pan instead (and usually made with a layer of furikake instead of nori/seaweed  paper), and then cut in squares to serve.

So what was the first thing I made with this tool?  I made a Hello Kitty tiramisu cake!  We were going to celebrate my mom's birthday a few weeks early since my brother was going to be in town, and since her favorite dessert is tiramisu I had been planning to make her tiramisu cake.  And while I was unpacking all the goodies I had bought on vacation, I suddenly realized that I could use the pan sushi mold make the tiramisu instead!

So I found a tiramisu cake recipe in my copy of Dorie Greenspan's book "Baking: From My Home to Yours".  The cake layer was a sponge cake, which I baked in two 9-inch pans.  While the cakes were in the oven, I used the mold to trace and cut out Hello Kitty on a cake board, which I then covered in foil.

Then once the cakes were baked and cooled, I again used the mold to cut Hello Kitty out of the cake.  I ended up using only one of the cakes, cut in half horizontally to make two layers, since both of the cakes together plus the filling would be taller than the mold itself.

Next, I prepared all the components I would need to assemble my tiramisu cake - I made espresso extract, espresso kahlua syrup (which uses the espresso extract), and freshly whipped cream to lighten a mascarpone filling (which also uses the espresso extract, as well as a bit of kahlua for extra flavor).  Once all of the components were ready, I placed my prepared cake board inside the Hello Kitty mold, followed by the first layer of cake.

Next, I the brushed the cake with some of the espresso syrup.

Then came a layer of the mascarpone filling, and then a dusting of cocoa powder (or you can use chopped chocolate).

Next came the second layer of cake, brushed with more of the espresso syrup (on both sides).  And then another layer of the mascarpone filling.  This would be the top of the cake, so I made sure to smooth it out evenly with an offset spatula.

And then the final touch - one last dusting of cocoa powder, using a Hello Kitty stencil, in order to bring Hello Kitty to life!

The cake turned out light and moist, and full of tiramisu flavor. 

I think the kids liked the cake even more than my mom!  Happy birthday, Mom!

The cake was pretty simple to make, and we liked it so much that I made it again the following weekend for my friend Diana's belated birthday (since we were on vacation during her actual birthday!).

I hope she liked it as well!  Happy birthday, Diana!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

golf ball cake pops

We recently returned from a three week vacation, visiting my husband's family in Hawaii.  Needless to say, I haven't baked at all in the past month!  Instead, I'll share with you the golf ball cake pops that I made a few months ago, which I never had time to post ... until now!

My friend Cindy has a friend who was interested in having me make cake pop favors for her upcoming wedding, after learning that I had made the cupcake pops at Cindy's wedding.  She specifically wanted the cake pops to look like golf balls, and asked me to make a dozen as samples for her and her family to try.  I immediately ordered these golf ball candy molds, and set out to make golf ball cake pops!

I started by making my favorite homemade chocolate cake recipe.  Once cooled baked, I broke up the cake and pulsed the pieces through the food processor in batches.  Then I made a batch of cream cheese frosting, mixed it into the cake crumbs, and formed the mixture into little balls.  I covered them in plastic wrap, and let them chill in the fridge while I went about preparing the melted white chocolate for the coating.

After melting the white chocolate in a double boiler on the stove, I dipped one end of a lollipop stick in the melted white chocolate, and then inserted that end into a ball of cake.  Then, instead of dipping the cake pop into the melted chocolate like I would normally do, I brushed the inside of the golf ball mold with melted chocolate and then pushed the cake pop into the mold.

After they set in the fridge, I popped each one out of the mold, brushed more melted chocolate into the inside of the mold, and pushed the other side of the cake pop into the mold.  I only had one mold so I could only do one side of the cake pops at a time.

The first few weren't pretty.  The seams were messy where the two halves of the golf balls came together.  And I didn't coat enough melted chocolate on the inside of the mold, so the dark cake showed through the thin coating of white.  I guess I didn't learn my lesson after making white hello kitty cake pops with chocolate cake inside!  Next time I will remember - use a light-color cake when using white chocolate coating!

But after a few batches, they started looking better.  The seams looked smoother.  And the cake didn't show through as much, because I made a mighty thick coating on those golf ball molds!  (Although, this lead to other problems - when eaten, the white chocolate felt way too thick and would crack heavily, leading the cake ball to fall off the stick.)

I'll definitely try making these again someday.  And as they say, practice makes perfect!

*** Update: You can also check out this link to see the golf ball pops made by Jasmin of 1 Fine Cookie, who was the first to come up with the idea of using a candy mold to shape the golf balls!

*** More updates: I used the same candy mold to shape golf balls as cake toppers!  You can find the golf ball cakes here and here!