Sunday, November 5, 2017

mini blueberry cheesecake tarts

I was so enamored with the little chocolate cookie crusts from my previous post, I made them again for my second day of Thanksgiving "Harvest Potluck" at my kids' school last year. (The first day was for my oldest son, the second day was for my daughter, as they have their potlucks on different days). This time, instead of using the cookie crusts for mini chocolate cream pies, I turned them into mini blueberry cheesecake tarts! 

You can check out my previous post on how I made the cookie crusts, but for this filling I made a no-bake cheesecake type of filling. I've made it before for large tarts (such as this flag tart and this father's day tart), and the filling worked just as well for mini tarts. (You can find the recipe at Martha Stewart's website.)

After using a disposable pastry bag to pipe the filling into each cookie crust, I topped them with fresh blueberries. So simple and easy!

The final step was a light dusting of powdered sugar.

This cookie crust and filling combo is so versatile, you could top them with any fresh fruit, or even a drizzle of salted caramel or chocolate ganache instead of fruit would be delicious!

These little tarts are the perfect portable dessert for potlucks or picnis, and elegant enough to serve at dinner parties as well! Enjoy!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

mini chocolate cream tarts

Every year before Thanksgiving, my kids' school has a "Harvest Potluck" to celebrate, where parents sign up to bring food and desserts and have a nice luncheon with their kids. It's a really nice event and I love going every year! Last year, I signed up to make dessert, and decided that I wanted to make little mini chocolate cream tarts.


Upon searching for mini chocolate cream pie recipes, I ended up using this one at Flour Arrangements and thought they were so darn cute! I loved the scalloped shape of the mini pie crusts! They're made by rolling out what is essentially a chocolate sugar cookie dough, and then using a flower shaped cookie cutter to cut out the shapes, before fitting them into a cupcake tin to bake.

Two things that I learned while making these - a) the chocolate sugar cookie dough was much to wet for me to roll out, so I ended up adding more flour. But the end result was a not-so-tender crust, and lacked the chocolate flavor that I was craving, so next time I think I'll try using Thomas Keller's homemade oreo (TKO) cookie dough recipe. And, b) it's easiest to roll out the cookie dough while the dough is sandwiched between two sheets of parchment paper, otherwise you will need to add flour to the rolling pin and this will leave white splotches all over your beautiful dark brown cookie crusts!

After the cookie crusts were baked and cooled, I filled them with the chocolate cream (essentially a chocolate pudding). Again, I thought the chocolate cream lacked the chocolate "punch" that I was craving, so next time I'll go back to my dark chocolate pudding recipe instead.

After letting the chocolate pudding set in the fridge, I piped little dollops of freshly whipped cream on top, in a cute little pattern to resemble the inside of a flower.

And finally, I dusted each tart with a rich unsweetened cocoa powder.

I thought they turned out super cute!

Even though I thought these could have used a more chocolatey crust and filling, they were a hit at the potluck!

These little treats are perfect for any potluck, or even Thanksgiving dessert itself! Enjoy!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

curious george birthday cake with handmade fondant topper

My best friend Sue's daughter Leia turned three this past summer, and since Leia love Curious George, she asked me to make a Curious George cake for her party! Leia's only requests were: a) it was green, and b) it was chocolate. (She doesn't like "yellow cake", only "brown cake"!) So we decided on a chocolate cake filled with fresh strawberries and whipped cream, decorated with piped green grass frosting and a fondant George on top!

A couple of weeks before the party, I started making George out of fondant, since I knew I'd need time for the fondant to harden. So I tinted my fondant with brown gel-based food coloring, and shaped the pieces that I would need.

Next I attached the legs to the torso with a little bit of water, and used ivory tinted fondant to make his little feet (the back of a paring knife worked perfectly to make his little toes).

Next came the arms, complete with little hands.

And finally, the head!

I used an edible food marker to color in his eyeballs and lashline, and added tiny white nonpareils for the white dot in his eyeball.

Then I attached his head to his body (with a toothpick connecting the two), and then he was done! He looks a little sleepy, in my opinion, but still cute nonetheless?

Next was the cake, which I made the night before the party. I baked up two 8-inch round chocolate cakes (recipe in my book, The Hello Kitty Baking Book!) and let them cool before slicing them in half horizontally with a serrated knife. This way I would end up with four cake layers.

Then I filled each layer with freshly whipped cream and sliced strawberries.

Once the cake layers were assembled, I whipped up a batch of cream cheese buttercream (recipe also in my book!) and tinted the majority of it green. Then I used an offset spatula to cover the top and sides of the cake with a quick crumb coat.

After letting the crumb coat chill in the fridge for 30 minutes, I did a smooth final coat, and then used a grass tip in a disposable piping bag to pipe the grass on the top of the cake. (see here and here for more examples of piping the grass!)

Finally I piped her name with gray frosting on the side of the cake, and placed little George on top (with a little bit more frosting on his bottom to hold him in place!).

His arms looked a little wonky, but at least Leia recognized him!

And here are some pictures from her party. So much fun!

Happy Birthday, sweet Leia! Hope you enjoyed your cake! <3 p="">

Sunday, October 8, 2017

superhero logo birthday cake

Along with the Fantastic Four birthday cake that I made for Marni and her four-way birthday party with her birthday friends, I also made this Superhero logo cake! This one would be a coffee chiffon cake (as requested by Helen after I made it for her birthday and for Marni's birthday the year before), and it was mainly for the adults to eat! We decided it should be a "superhero" cake, to go along with the Fantastic Four theme. Each birthday girl would be wearing a custom made cape, complete with a logo with the initial of their first name, so that idea would carry on to the cake decoration.
Before making the cake, I made these fondant toppers in advance, by tinting the fondant and rolling it out thin, and then using cutting out the shapes. For the stars I used a cookie cutter, and for the letters I used mini cookie/fondant cutters (I bought mine at Williams-Sonoma, but these look pretty similar). Once the shaped had hardened for a few hours, I attached the letters to the stars with water and a food-safe brush, and then attached sandwiched the stars onto bamboo skewers, to give me Superhero logo toppers with the first letter of each girls' names.

And for the cake itself, I made three 8-inch coffee chiffon cakes, which I filled with espresso whipped cream.

Then I covered the top and sides of the cake with whipped cream, and used a medium round tip to pipe a beaded border along the bottom.

I let the cake chill in the fridge overnight, and the next morning I was ready to add my cake toppers!

Superheroes Emily, Marni, Sabrina, and Lauren to the rescue!

Happy Birthday, girls!