Tuesday, September 30, 2014

captain america cake with flag inside and haupia coconut filling

My oldest baby Matthew turned seven yesterday! This was the first year where he invited his own friends to his birthday party (as opposed to us inviting our friends and their kids!) So he invited three kids from school, and then my family and our neighbors also came to celebrate with him!

This year he wanted a Captain America cake, so Captain America cake he got! On the outside AND on the inside! I've always wanted to make a flag-inside cake for July 4th or something, like this one at 17 and Baking, but never had the chance ... until now!

For the inside of the cake, I made two batches of vanilla cake (recipe in my new book!), divided and colored them, and baked them in 8-inch round pans. One batch of vanilla cake will make two 8-inch cake layers, so I ended up with four cake layers. Since I only needed three (one red, one white, one blue), I wrapped the fourth layer really well in plastic wrap and froze it for later.

To fill the layers, I made a haupia coconut whipped cream filling, based on Matthew's love of coconut (he recently decided that chocolate haupia pie from Ted's Bakery in Hawaii was his favorite dessert ever!). To give my whipped cream a nice coconut flavor, I used Trader Joe's coconut cream, since it was thicker and more concentrated than regular coconut milk.

To assemble the cake, I cut both the white and red cakes in half horizontally. The first white layer went on the cake round, and then I filled it with the coconut whipped cream. Then the first red layer went on top, along with another layer of coconut whipped cream.

Next I took a 4-inch cookie cutter, and cut out the middle of my blue cake layer (this layer does not get cut in half horizontally). Then I also used the 4-inch cookie cutter to cut out my remaining white and red layers.

Then I placed the blue ring layer on top, with the 4-inch white cake layer on the inside of the ring, more coconut filling, and then the 4-inch red cake layer. This is what makes the flag inside!

For the outside of the cake, I whipped up a batch of cream cheese buttercream (recipe also in my new book!), and did a quick crumb coat on the top and sides of the cake. Then I used a toothpick to draw my Captain America design on the top of the cake.

 Finally, I used used the markings to fill in the design with piped stars - white for the star, blue for the circle around the stars, and then alternating rings of red and white.

Matthew loved the cake! And it went perfectly with his Captain America shirt! :)

Although, he didn't even notice the flag inside! He didn't even realize it until I asked him about it on the way home! I had to show him a picture to prove it, and even then he asked "how come there are no stars on the blue part of the flag?"... (sigh)

He also only took one bite of the cake before running off to play with his friends, so he didn't even notice the coconut filling!

But, before bed that night we asked him on a scale of 1 to 10, how much fun he had at his party. At first he said it was a 10. And then he changed his mind and said it was 100! Awww...

Happy Birthday, my Matthew! Thanks for being such an awesome kid! :)

*** Update: You can also see the Captain America cookies that I made to go along with the cake, here!

Friday, September 26, 2014

iron man birthday ice cream cake

My oldest baby Matthew is turning SEVEN next week! How did seven years go by just like that?!

Speaking of how fast time flies, it's been a year since his last birthday and I never got around to posting the cake I made him! In the past I've made him a Spiderman cake, as well as a Superman cake, and last year he had insisted on having an Iron Man cake! We ended up having just a small family get-together, so I made him a cookies-n-cream ice cream cake, with Iron Man piped on the top. Not my best work, but he still loved it!

The entire ice-cream cake recipe can be found in my new book (look for the Badtz-Maru ice cream cake), so I'll just do a quick summary of the steps. It started with homemade cookies-n-cream ice cream, which I churned in advance and then poured into an 8-inch round cake pan that I had lined with plastic wrap, before letting it set in the freezer. (You may have a little ice cream left over, but no worries you can eat it like soft-serve right away!)

Closer to the date of the get-together, I made the chocolate cake layer. Once it was cooled (you may want to stick it in the freezer for a bit so that it's nice and cold and won't melt the ice cream layer), I unwrapped my ice cream layer and placed it on top of the cake layer. Then I used an offset spatula to smoothout the sides where the two layers meet, and then let it chill in the freezer while I made my whipped cream frosting.

Once my whipped cream was ready, I set aside about a cup of it, and to the rest I added cocoa powder to make it chocolate whipped cream. Then I quickly frosted the top and sides of the cake, working as fast as I could so the ice cream wouldn't melt.

Next I filled my piping bag (fitted with a Wilton #21 star tip) with the chocolate whipped cream, then piped a shell border on the top and bottom of the cake. Then back into the freezer it went.

With the frosting that I had set aside, I divided it and colored it black, red, and yellow, leaving just a tiny portion of white. Then I piped my Iron Man face, filling it in with piped stars using a Wilton #16 tip. Then i added some rainbow sprinkles around the edges of the cake to make it look more festive.

When I was done it still didn't look complete. Something looked wrong with Iron Man's face. So I added some vertical lines to make him look more Iron-Man-y.

Hmm .. it still didn't look right, but oh well, I was out of time. Good thing 6-year olds aren't too picky about minor details!

Here's a shot of the inside ...

And here's the birthday boy and his cake :) He was so happy!

Stay tuned for details on this years's upcoming birthday cake!

Friday, September 19, 2014

hello kitty pavlova

My new book, The Hello Kitty Baking Book, came out this week! Hooray! It's been over a year since I first embarked on this project, and I can't believe it's finally being released!

In honor of my new book, I wanted to show you something you can make with the book's recipe for Hello Kitty meringue cookies - you could also use the same recipe to make Hello Kitty pavlovas! Just pipe a large Hello Kitty, and once it's baked you can add freshly whipped cream and fresh fruit! The combination of delicately crumbly meringue with fluffy whipped cream is out of this world! Trust me!

To pipe my large Hello Kitty meringue, I used a disposable piping bag fitted with a large tip. I piped the outline of Hello Kitty, filled it in, and then added another outline on top to act as the border for the whipped cream. Then just for fun, I piped a bow for hello Kitty, to be placed on top at the end. Then I baked it at 225F for about an hour.

Once baked, your meringue should feel light and airy, and will be delicately crumbly.

Then I just topped it with freshly whipped cream, some fresh raspberries, and a sprinkling of powdered sugar. And of course the bow on top!

Or to change it up, you could even make it an espresso flavored meringue. I used espresso powder dissolved with a bit of water, and whipped it with the meringue after it was already whipped to stiff peaks. SO GOOD!

This time I decided to pipe my border with a large star tip, just to make it look more pretty.

Once baked, I again topped it with freshly whipped cream (this time I added a bit of mascarpone and Kahlua, to amp up the coffee meringue).

Then I added fresh raspberries. (You wouldn't think that raspberries and coffee go together, but it is actually really good!)

This time instead of a bow, I added coffee meringue stars that I had piped with my large star tip!


And again to finish it off, I dusted it lightly with powdered sugar. So pretty!

With the rest of the coffee meringue stars, I sandwiched them together with the Kahlua mascarpone whipped cream.


Make these today! You won't regret it! :)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

hello kitty layer jello

If you've read my blog before, you'll probably already know that I have a thing for making rainbow jello. I make it for Valentine's Day, for Chinese New Years, I've even made a green and white version for St. Patrick's Day and an egg-shaped version for Easter! So while I was writing my new book (it comes out next week!!!), I wanted to include a Hello Kitty version, made in cute silicone molds!

You can find the recipe in my new book, The Hello Kitty Baking Book, but it's basically a finger jello made with different flavors of jello, clear gelatine, and a yummy creamy white layer in between the colored layers.

To get the beautiful layers, it does take quite some time (especially if you only have one silicone mold), but the results are striking!

You could do any flavor/color combination you like, and if you can't find the silicone molds you could always make it in a 9x13 pan and use cookie cutters to cut out the shapes.

To get the recipe and see brand new photos, you can order my book here!

Monday, September 1, 2014

maple bacon-brittle ice cream

A couple of months ago while my husbands parents were in town visiting from Hawaii, my mom decided to have a lunch so that we could all get together. I offered to make dessert, but my mom said she was already making apple cake. So I told her I would make ice cream to go with it!

At first I was just going to make vanilla ice cream, but then I thought maybe a maple flavored ice cream would compliment her apple cake well. Then the thought of maple ice cream reminded me of this amazing maple and candied bacon ice cream I had at Ici one time (my favorite ice cream place), and then I knew I HAD to make something similar! So I loosely followed this recipe.

But first I decided to reduce my maple syrup slightly to concentrate the maple flavor. I placed a cup of grade B maple syrup in a saucepan, and simmered it on low until it had reduced slightly. Then I set it aside while I made the ice cream custard base - I heated up heavy cream and milk on the stove, tempered my egg yolks and sugar with it, and then mixed it all together and cooked it on medium heat until the mixture turned thick. Then I strained it, added in the maple syrup reduction, and covered it with plastic wrap before chilling it in the fridge.

While my custard was chilling, I started on making the candied bacon. I fried my chopped bacon on high heat until it was browned and crispy, and then let it drain on a paper towel and set it aside. For the brittle, I cooked granulated sugar on the stove until it melted, then added butter, baking soda, and the cooled bacon. Then I poured the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with a silpat and spread it out into a thin layer. Once cooled, I broke the brittle into shards, and then chopped up about a cup of it and set it aside.

When it was time to churn my ice cream, I let it go for about 25 minutes before adding the chopped bacon brittle. Then I let it churn for another 5 minutes before pouring it into a container and placing it in the fridge to set overnight.

And then the next day, we had heavenly maple bacon-brittle ice cream. The only thing I would change is to add less maple syrup next time, as it was a tad too sweet. But other than that, it was heavenly!