Monday, October 29, 2012

spiderman birthday cake

To celebrate my son Matthew's 5th birthday, I made him a Spiderman birthday cake to go along with the Spiderman cookies that I made as favors.  And as described in last year's Superman birthday cake post, my son seems to only like vanilla cake filled with whipped cream and fresh strawberries!  So I decided to make the same cake.  Except this time, I wanted to try a different vanilla cake recipe and chose a vanilla cake from the book "Baking: From My Home to Yours" by Dorie Greenspan.

Since the recipe makes two 9-inch cake layers but I wanted to make a 10-inch cake, I increased the recipe to 1.5 times to allow for the extra batter I would need.

Once the cakes had baked and cooled, I used a serrated knife to level them off, and then whipped up a batch of cream cheese buttercream, and a batch of freshly whipped cream.  I colored the majority of the frosting bright blue, and then piped a ring of it around the perimeter of the cake before filling it with the whipped cream.  This was to act as sort of a border, so that the whipped cream filling wouldn't ooze out the sides of the cake.

Next I added a layer of sliced fresh strawberries, and then covered it with another layer of whipped cream.

Then I placed the second layer of cake on top, and then did a quick crumb coat with the blue frosting.  I chilled the entire cake in the fridge for 30 minutes, and then applied a second coat of frosting.

Then came the fun part - piping Spiderman's face on the top of the cake!  I started by piping a black outline of the shape of his face, followed by a black outline of his eyes, and the signature black web on his face.  Then I filled in the eyes with white frosting using a star tip, and the rest of his face with red frosting and a star tip.

Then to finish off the cake, I wanted to pipe a spiderweb over the entire cake as a background to Spidey's face.  So I piped long black lines extending from Spidey's face, over the sides of the cake, and ending with a small black blob on the cake board.

And then I connected the web with curved black lines.

By the time I finished the cake, it was late at night, so I boxed it up and put it in the fridge until the big reveal.  I couldn't wait to see the look on Matthew's face!

As soon as I brought out the cake at the party, all the kids ran up and crowded around the cake table.

And my friend Helen got an awesome picture of Matthew blowing out the candles!

Happy Birthday, my Matthew!  We love you!!!

*** Update:
I ended up making this cake again, two years later, for my coworker's son's birthday. But this time it was a chocolate cake filled with chocolate mousse. I was able to take some better photos this time around, so here they are! :)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

spiderman cookies

For my son Matthew's 5th birthday last month, he requested everything Spiderman.  (Last year, it was Superman - cookies, cupcakes, and cake!)  So I obliged, and started the birthday baking frenzy by making Spiderman cookies as birthday party favors.

I found a great tutorial over at The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle (love her site!), but made a couple of slight modifications for my cookies: a) I used a different design for the web on Spidey's face, based on a picture of Spiderman I found on the internet, and b) I wanted the web to be raised instead of flat with the rest of the icing, so I piped on the web design only after the red icing had dried (instead of piping the web immediately after the red as Sugarbelle does).

But first, I asked my husband to make me a custom copper cookie cutter in the shape of Spidey's head!

Once the cutter was ready, I make a few batches of my go-to sugar cookie recipe, rolled out the dough, and cut out my shapes.

After baking them for 10-12 minutes at 350 F, I let them cool on wire racks, and then transferred them to airtight containers so that I could decorate them the next day.

When I was ready to decorate the cookies the next day, I made a batch of royal icing (recipe from the same book), and separated the icing into different containers so that I could add coloring.  (I would need black, red, and white).  Then I piped on Spidey's eyes with stiff black icing, and filled the eyes in with white runny icing.

Next I piped an outline of Spidey's head with stiff red icing, and then filled it in with runny red icing.

After letting the cookies dry for a few hours, I was ready to pipe the web design on Spidey's face, using stiff black icing.  I also ended up piping another outline around the eyes to make them pop.

Then I let them dry overnight, before packaging them in cellophane bags tied with raffia.  

The kids loved them!  Especially my 2-year old daughter, who likes to scrape all the cookie icing off with her teeth before eating the actual cookie!

Stay tuned for more Spiderman goodies to come in the next couple of posts!

*** Update: Click here to see the Spiderman birthday cake, and here to see the Spiderman cupcakes that I made as well!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

raspberry marbled mini cheesecakes

My friend Sue invited me to her sister-in-law Nicolle's birthday pool party, and it was a potluck so I decided to bring dessert.  I had just made this classic cheesecake earlier in the week, so I was still in a cheesecake-making mood. :)  But I wanted to make something hand-held and easy to eat, so I made mini raspberry marbled cheesecakes!

I used the same recipe for the mini cheesecakes I made here, which started with making a graham cracker crust in the bottom of each cupcake liner.

Once the crust had baked up golden brown and cooled, I quickly whipped up the cheesecake filling, and then poured them over the crusts.

Then I pureed and strained some raspberries for the raspberry marble swirl.

Using a spoon, a dolloped a few drops of the raspberry puree onto the cheesecakes.

And then used a toothpick to create the swirl effect.

Then I placed the whole cupcake pan onto a 12x17 baking pan, filled the pan halfway with hot water, and baked the cheesecakes in the water bath.  And when they were done, there were no cracks!  Yay!

The mini cheesecakes turned out great, and the hint of raspberry swirl was a perfect compliment to the creaminess of the cheesecake.  We all had a blast at the pool party (especially the kids!).

Hope you had a happy birthday, Nicolle!

*** Update:

I also made these with a Valentine's Day version of these with cute heart design, using the raspberry puree and a toothpick! Check it out here!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

classic cheesecake decorated with whipped cream and strawberries

My daughter's daycare was throwing a surprise birthday party for her teacher Ms. Jerry, and on the sign-up sheet of things to bring was "cheesecake".  Not cake, or birthday cake, or even cupcakes ... specificially cheesecake.  Ms. Jerry must like cheesecake!  So of course I had to put my name down for it!

I decided to use a recipe from Dorie Greenspan's book "Baking: From My Home to Yours", a recipe which I had previously used for my red velvet cheesecake, except this time I would use a 9-inch springform pan.  So I started by making the graham cracker crust, which I pressed into the bottom and sides of my pan, and then baked it until golden brown (about 10 minutes).

Next up was making the filling.  The first thing to do was to beat the cream cheese until it became really light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.  Then I added sugar and salt, and beat it for another 4 minutes.

Then I added vanilla.

And then I added eggs and heavy cream (or you can use sour cream, but I used heavy cream because I almost always have it in my fridge for making ice cream!).

Once the filling was ready, I wrapped the outside of my springform tightly with aluminum foil, poured my batter in, and smoothed the top with an offset spatula.  Then I baked it in a water bath for 1 hour and 30 minutes, after which I turned off the oven and let the cheesecake sit in the oven for another hour.

And out came a beautiful cheesecake, no cracks!

Then I unmolded it, decorated it with swirls of freshly whipped cream, and placed fresh strawberries on each swirl.

Happy birthday, Ms. Jerry!  Hope you liked the cheesecake!