Sunday, May 31, 2015

hello kitty macaron cake with neapolitan layers (and nut-free sesame seed macarons!)

I've been wanting to make a macaron cake for a long time now, ever since I saw this snowman macaron cake at Rasberri Cupcakes. (And even before that, when I saw her heart macaron cake! SO adorable!) Since Hello Kitty macarons are my thing, I decided to make a Hello Kitty macaron cake for my birthday this past April! And since I've been obsessed with neapolitan ever since making my daughter's neapolitan birthday cupcakes, I decided to make it a neapolitan cake! Wheee!

Since my daughter is severely allergic to all nuts, and macarons are normally made with almond flour, I set out to find a nut-free recipe to use since I wanted her to be able to enjoy a slice of my birthday cake. So I ended up trying out this recipe at Pizza Rossa, which uses ground-up sesame seeds instead of almond flour!

Since these macarons were going on top of a neapolitan cake, I decided to fill my macarons with a rich strawberry chocolate ganache (recipe here!)

The sesame in the macarons ended up tasting delicious, and with the strawberry chocolate ganache the combination reminded me of eating a peanut butter, strawberry jam, and chocolate sandwich! (Which is sorta scary to me because my daughter is severely allergic to peanuts!)

The only thing I didn't like was that I had used roasted sesame seeds, which caused lots of dark specks in my macaron shell, so next time I would use raw sesame seeds instead.

Once the macarons were done, I moved on to the cake! I wanted a light and fluffy neapolitan cake, so I found use this neapolitan sponge cake recipe at Not Quite Nigella (except I cut the recipe in half because I didn't want my layers so tall).

Once I had my vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate batters in my ungreased 8-inch pans, I baked them and let them cool.

To assemble, I started with the chocolate layer, which I topped with rich chocolate mousse.

Then came the vanilla cake layer ,which I topped with a vanilla whipped cream.

And finally the strawberry layer, which I topped with a strawberry whipped cream.

Then I proceeded to cover the sides and top of the cake with strawberry whipped cream. I'm telling you guys, this stuff tastes just like strawberry ice cream! So good!

And finally, I added my nut-free Hello Kitty macarons.


This is probably my most favorite Hello Kitty birthday cake. Well, besides this ombre Hello Kitty cake. And this Hello Kitty baked alaska.

Oh who am I kidding, I love all Hello Kitty cakes!!!

And the neapolitan inside! LOVE! :)

Happy Birthday to all you April babies out there!

Monday, May 25, 2015

balloon cookie pops on a stick

To go along with the Elmo cupcakes that I made for the class party to celebrate Micah's 2nd birthday, I also made balloon cookie pops as favors. I actually got this idea from my good friend Helen, who had originally asked me to make balloon cookies for her daughter's 2nd birthday party (but that later on turned into making Pink Panther cookies and rainbow cookies!).

Since I didn't have a balloon cookie cutter, I had my hubby make me a custom copper cutter! Then I made a couple batches of sugar cookie dough (recipe in my new book!), rolled it out to about 1/8" thick, and used my shiny new cookie cutter to cut out the shapes.

As mentioned with my heart cookies on a stick, once the cookies were cut out, I placed them on top of lollipop sticks that I laid out on my baking sheet, gently pressing the dough to surround the stick. Then I baked them at 350F for 10-12 minutes until just golden.

Then I whipped up a batch of royal icing (recipe also in my book!), divided it into three portions, and colored the portions red, green, and blue. Using stiff icing, I outlined each balloon cookie, and then filled it with runny icing.

After letting them dry overnight, they were ready! 

Since I was giving them out as favors, I wrapped each one individually in cellophane bags tied with raffia and a custom birthday favor tag, but you could also use them as cute centerpieces as well!

Nothing says "Happy Birthday" better than birthday balloons, right? :)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

elmo cupcakes

My youngest baby is obsessed with Elmo. To the point where he has to sleep with two Elmo dolls every night. "Two ... Ehmo", he says, if you only hand him one doll. And every morning he has to watch Elmo before school. And if there is a scene that Elmo is not in, he will repeatedly say "Ehmo ... Ehmo ... Ehmo ..." until I fast forward to a scene that Elmo is in. That is how much he loves Elmo.

So, in addition to the rainbow fruits layer cake that I made for his 2nd birthday this year, I also *had* to make Elmo cupcakes for his class party at daycare! I've made Elmo goodies for my other two kids in the past - Elmo cookies, Elmo cake, and also these Elmo cupcakes where I piped Elmo cupcake toppers with royal icing ahead of time. Even an Elmo ice cream cake (wow, was that really 4 years ago?!). This time I wanted to pipe Elmo directly on the cupcake, and I couldn't wait for Micah to see!

I started by making chocolate cupcakes (recipe in my new book, The Hello Kitty Baking Book!). Once baked and cooled, I whipped up a batch of cream cheese frosting, and piped Elmo's eyes with a large round tip.

Next I used orange frosting to pipe his nose, also using a large round tip.

Next I piped the eyeballs and mouth with black frosting, using a small round tip (Wilton tip #3).

And finally, I filled in his face with red frosting using a medium star tip (Wilton #16).

Two dozen cupcakes later, I was done!

I couldn't wait to see the look on Micah's face when he saw them!

Here are some of the photos I took on my phone to document his Elmo cupcake encounter :)

And finally, a video so you can see how happy he was to be eating his Elmo cupcake :)

Happy birthday my little Micah! Love you so much!!!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

rainbow fruits layer cake with freshly whipped cream and heart cookie topper

Out of my three kids, my youngest baby is the best eater. Besides rice and pasta, he especially loves to eat all kinds of fruits. So for his second birthday this past February, I decided to make him a rainbow fruits layer cake, inspired by this rainbow fruits cookie cake I found on Pinterest!

I wanted to make a really light cake so that the fruits could stand out, so I chose to use the same cake recipe as the strawberry cream cake that I made a few years ago. It had been very light and airy, and really let the filling stand out. So I baked three 8-inch cakes, each of which I sliced in half horizontally to give me six layers (although I only ended up using five of the layers).

For the rainbow of fruits, I chose to use red strawberries, orange/yellow nectarines, green kiwis, and blue/violet blueberries. Each cake layer got a healthy dose of whipped cream, then fruit, then more whipped cream on top, before adding the next cake layer on top of that.

I ended up making A LOT of freshly whipped cream for this cake - one big batch to fill all of the layers, and one big batch to cover the entire cake. I flavored my whipped cream with vanilla extract, but I think a bit of almond extract would go nicely with the cake and fruits as well.

After I added the first three layers of fruit and whipped cream, it had gotten pretty late in the night, so I covered the whole thing with a big cake dome and placed it in the fridge overnight. Then the next morning, I got back to work caking.

That meant my last layer of whipped cream and fruits, and my final cake layer on top.

I think I could have almost left it like this, for the naked cake effect! But I decided to go ahead with my initial plan to frost the whole thing with freshly whipped cream.

So I covered the entire top and sides of the cake with whipped cream, in what I call a "messy coat".

And then smoothed the whole thing out with an offset spatula and rotating cake stand.

Since the cake turned out so tall, I wanted a really simple frosting design, so I did a quick swirl effect with an offset spatula.

Since Micah is a Valentine's baby (born the day after Valentine's Day), I added heart cookie pop as the cake topper. And to make it more festive, I sprinkled a bit of edible gold glitter stars around the perimeter of the cake.

And then it was done!

While I loved the look of the edible glitter stars, after sitting on the cake for a few hours they melted into little puddles of gold! (Not pictured). So right before the birthday dinner I sprinkled a few more stars on, just to hide the melted ones.

Here's a shot of the inside of the cake. All that fresh fruit!!!

I just wish I could have cut a cleaner slice! But with the softness of the cake, plus the height and all the soft whipped cream and chunks of fresh fruit, that combination just didn't allow me to cut a clean slice!

I really wanted the colors of the fruit to stand out more than this, but this will have to do. Maybe next time I would cut thicker slices of fruit.

Happy second birthday, my little Micah! Even though you are a toddler now, you will always be my baby!