Tuesday, August 28, 2012

fresh plum ice cream

It's plum season!  And so I decided to make a batch of plum ice cream.  I found the pefect recipe in my favorite ice cream book, David Lebovitz's "The Perfect Scoop".

After cutting my plums into wedges, I cooked the down with a bit of water, before adding sugar and pureeing them with heavy cream.

Then I let it chill in the fridge for a few hours, before churning the mixture in my ice cream maker for about 25-30 minutes.  When it was done, I poured the semi-frozen mixture into a container to let it set in the freezer overnight.  And the next day, it was ready!

The ice cream turned out delicious!  It was refreshing, tangy, and sweet all at the same time, and reminded me of chinese preserved plums (li hing mui).

And I loved the color that it turned out!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

hello kitty graduation cake

My little boy graduated from preschool last month!  I can't believe how fast time flies!  His school had a graduation ceremony for his class, so I decided to bake the class a graduation cake.  Since I didn't get to use my designs and sketches from the last graduation cake that I made, I decided to use it now, except in blue!  The cake would have Hello Kitty piped on the top, with a graduation cap on her head, and a piped petal frosting on the sides.

I started by making my favorite homemade chocolate cake recipe, baked in two 8-inch pans.  Once the cake layers were baked and cooled, I made my favorite chocolate mousse recipe from America's Test Kitchen.  (Once again, the same chocolate mousse recipe from all the triple chocolate mousse cakes that I've made in the past).

After I piped my chocolate mousse onto the first layer of cake, I used an offset spatula to smooth it out, and then placed my second layer of cake on top.  And then I was ready to frost!

I whipped up a quick batch of cream cheese buttercream, basically a basic buttercream with a stick of cream cheese added to it, colored it light blue, and then did a quick crumb coat of frosting over the entire cake.

Then came the petal piping on the sides.  I first saw this great technique at Hungry Housewife, and since then have used it to make a purple ombre petal cake, as well as a camoflauge petal cake, and I love the effect every time!

The first step is to pipe a vertical row of round circles, using a Wilton #12 tip.  Then using an offset spatula, drag it accross each circle to smear the circles into petals.  Then pipe the next vertical row of circles, drag with the offset spatula, and continue this process until the entire cake is covered.

Then I used black frosting to pipe a Hello Kitty outline on the top of the cake, as well as a black graduation cap on her head, and a yellow nose.

Next I filled in Hello Kitty's face using a star tip and white frosting, and I filled in her bow with royal blue icing.  And the final touch was a yellow tassle coming out of her graduation cap!

By the way, it's no coincidence that I used UCLA colors.  GO BRUINS!!!

I also piped a congratulations message for his class, but I misjudged the spacing and so I had to add a bunch of exclamation marks to even it out!

The teachers served the cake at snack time, right before the graduation ceremony, and even though Matthew usually doesn't like chocolate cake, he ate the whole slice!

Here's a picture of him walking out of the graduation ceremony.

Happy graduation, my Matthew!  I'm so proud of you and can't wait to see you flourish in Kindergarten!

Friday, August 10, 2012

hello kitty strawberry mousse cake studded with silver dragees

My friend Kim has a daughter who was graduating from high school a few months ago, and so she asked me to make her a graduation cake.  Since her daughter likes Hello Kitty, we decided that I would make a Hello Kitty cake!  I had all these ideas in my head - she wanted a strawberry cake, so I envisioned a pink cake similar to this one, with a black graduation cap on Hello Kitty, and some sort of cute piping on the sides of the cake.  But a few days before the cake was due, my friend told me that her daughter LOVED my Hello Kitty cake with silver dragees, and wanted a cake like that one!  So I reluctantly dropped my brainstorm ideas, and set out to make a strawberry mousse cake instead.

Before making this cake, I had yet to find a good from-scratch strawberry cake recipe.  In the past I've made Martha Stewart's strawberry cupcakes, which I love, but when I had tried it in cake form instead it was always too dense and moist.  So after a few online searches, I decided to try this recipe, from I Made That!, as it had great reviews and sounded delicious.  Plus, it used strawberry puree to give the cake a pink color, no food coloring necessary!  But when the cake came out of the oven, I was disappointed by the color of the cake - it was kind of a gray-brown color, and didn't look very appetizing (although it did taste great!).

So then I made a second strawberry cake, using this recipe from Confections of a Foodie Bride.  This recipe used cooked strawberry puree to give the batter a more vibrant color.  This time when it came out of the oven, it was definitely more of a pink color, although still not as pink as I'd like it.  But it had a great strawberry flavor, so I would definitely use this recipe again (although next time I might add just a drop or two of color!).  By now it was the middle of the night, so after the cake cooled, I wrapped it up in saran wrap, and placed it in the fridge for the next day.

When I was ready to assemble the cake the next day, I used my Hello Kitty sushi pan mold (which I've used several times for Hello Kitty tiramisu, Hello Kitty triple chocolate mousse cake, etc.) to cut out my Hello Kitty shape, and then placed it at the bottom of my mold.  For the middle layer, I made a strawberry mousse from my new copy of "Sprinkle Bakes" by Heather Baird, poured it into the mold over the cake layer, and smoothed it out with an offset spatula.

For the top layer, I made a white chocolate mousse from my "America's Test Kitchen" book (the same white chocolate mousse on the top of my triple chocolate mousse cakes), then poured and smoothed that over my strawberry mousse layer.

Then I piped a congratulations message on the cake round (since I didn't want to pipe it on Hello Kitty's face!), using melted chocolate.

And then it was time to remove the mold.  I had lined the mold with parchment paper, which made it super easy to unmold the cake!

To finish it off, I added silver dragees to form Hello Kitty's eyes, nose, whiskers, and bow.  And then I was done!

Congratulations Claudia!  Hope you had a wonderful graduation!

Friday, August 3, 2012

hello kitty strawberry rhubarb tartlets

What do you get when it's rhubarb season and you're at my house?  Lots and lots of rhubarb tarts!  This time I combined the Hello Kitty strawberry rhubarb tart from my last post, with another recent post on strawberry rhubarb tartlets, and so I made Hello Kitty strawberry rhubarb tartlets!

For the crust, I again made an all-butter pie crust, and divided the dough into 6 equal portions.  Then I  rolled each portion into a circle and carefully lined each tartlet pan.  After running my rolling pin over the top of each tartlet (to cut off the excess dough), I wrapped the extra dough in saran wrap and put it in my fridge, which I would use to make the Hello Kitty cut outs later on.

For the filling, I chopped rhubarb and strawberries into same sized chunks, and then tossed them with sugar, flour, and a pinch of salt.

After filling each tart pan to the top, I used the extra pie crust dough and a small Hello Kitty cookie cutter to cut out my shapes for the tops of the tart.

After brushing the tops with egg wash and dusting them with sanding sugar, they were ready for the oven!  I baked them at 350F for about 50 minutes, until they were golden brown.

My favorite way to eat these was to take bites all the way around the perimeter of the tartlet, so that I was left with just the Hello Kitty piece at the end, which I would pop in my mouth for the last bite!  Yum!

*** Update:
You can now find my recipe for Hello Kitty Strawberry Rhubarb Tartlets in my new book, "The Hello Kitty Baking Book"! Enjoy!