Sunday, March 12, 2017

minion cookies

To go along with the minion cake that I made for my son Matthew's 9th birthday last September, I also made minion cookies for him to bring to school, to celebrate his birthday with his class. In the past, his teachers allowed me to bring cupcakes for a short and quick class celebration, but this year his teacher only allowed a snack to be passed out as the students leave the classroom at the end of the day. (Maybe 4th grade is too old for class parties still?)

For the cookies, I used my favorite sugar cookie recipe (in my book, The Hello Kitty Baking Book), rolled out my dough to about 1/8 inch thick, and cut them out with circle cookie cutters. Then I baked them at 350F for 10-12 minutes, until they turned golden brown.

After whipping up the royal icing (recipe also in my book!), I tinted the majority of it yellow, and used a small round tip in a disposable piping bag to outline each cookie with stiff icing. Then I filled it in with runny icing.

After letting the yellow icing dry for several hours, I used gray stiff icing to pipe circles for the goggles, and then filled it in with white runny icing.

Then after letting the white icing dry for a few hours, I piped the rest of the details - brown icing for the eyeballs, and black icing for the pupils, hair, smile, and goggle straps. And the final touch was piping a little white dot in each eyeball, to bring the minions to life!

Happy Birthday, Matthew! We love you!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

minion cake

My son Matthew turned nine last September, and he really wanted to have a few of his friends over for an afternoon of video games and movies. So that's what we did! And we had balloons, a make-your-own-pizza station for dinner, and of course birthday cake!

This year I decided to make him a minion cake, since he loves minions and is always imitating them! I wanted to fill it with fruit cocktail and whipped cream, which is kind of a nostalgic cake flavor from my childhood. Since I wanted the fruit cocktail to stand out, I decided to pair it with a light vanilla chiffon cake, so I baked up three 8-inch cake layers. While they were cooling, I drained my fruit cocktail, to ensure I wouldn't end up with a soggy cake!

When I was ready to fill the cake, I used an offset spatula to spread freshly whipped cream on each layer, topped with the drained fruit cocktail. Then I covered it with more whipped cream, and then the next cake layer.

For the frosting, I tinted my freshly whipped cream with yellow gel-based food coloring, and covered the top and sides of the cake. Then I smoothed it out with an offset spatula.

For the minion face, I used a medium round tip to pipe gray frosting circles for the goggles...

.. and then used a smaller round tip to pipe brown frosting eyeballs, and then a star tip and white frosting to fill in the whites of the eyes.

Then I used black frosting and a small round tip to pipe the black pupils of the eyes, the hair, and the smile, as well as the outline for the goggle straps (which I then filled in with a star tip afterwards).

And then the minion cake was done!

I thought he turned out pretty cute!

The boys had a great time at the party, and Matthew loved having his closest friends over!

Hope you had a Happy Birthday, my Matthew! I can't believe this will be your last year in the single digits! :(

Sunday, February 26, 2017

coffee chiffon rose cake

It's my mom's birthday next week, and I'll probably be making her another coffee chiffon cake! The past few years I've been making her some form of coffee-flavored cake, so I think I'll continue the tradition this year as well!

This was the cake that I made for her last year - light and fluffy coffee chiffon cake, filled with espresso whipped cream. I started by baking up three 8-inch layers of coffee chiffon, which I filled with freshly whipped cream that was flavored with an espresso paste (espresso powder mixed with a few tablespoons of hot water).

After the layers were filled, I covered the top and sides with the espresso whipped cream, smoothing it out with an offset spatula.

Then came the fun part - decorating it! I've done several piped rose cakes in the past, a method first pioneered by the talented I Am Baker, and since I had yet to make one for my mom, I thought this would be the perfect time.

The technique is so simple, yet comes out so pretty! I filled a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip, and piped large rosettes around the sides of the cake. Then I piped large rosettes on the top of the cake, starting from the outside, until the entire top was filled.

There were still some open spots afterwards, so I just used the same large star tip to fill the gaps in. And then it was done! So easy!

This is still one of my favorite ways to decorate a cake, not only because it's fast and easy, but also because the effect is always so pretty.


Stay tuned to see how this years cake will turn out!


 Happy Birthday, Mom!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

dark chocolate tartlets with pretzel crust and rose peppercorn sea salt

A few weeks ago, we invited our neighbors over for a casual last-minute BBQ, and as we were prepping the food I realized that we didn't have anything for dessert! I instantly thought about using the adorable baking and dessert salts that Expertly Chosen had sent me a couple of months ago! I thought a simple and quick dark chocolate tart would be the perfect thing to use them on, and since I love dark chocolate-covered pretzels (especially the ones at Trader Joe's!), I decided to make a simple pretzel crust to go with it.

With a quick online search, I found this pretzel crust recipe from Betty Crocker, which sounded perfect! So I ground up the pretzels in my food processor with sugar, and then poured in melted butter to bring it together. (Although in the future, I would probably add a little bit more butter to hold it together better).

Then I scooped the pretzel mixture into mini tart tins, and pressed it into the bottom and sides of the tins. (I used 4-inch tart tins, and was able to get 9 mini tart crusts out of the pretzel mixture). I baked them at 350F for about 10 minutes just to set them a bit, and then set them aside to cool.

For the chocolate ganache filling, I used this recipe from Sweetapolita (just the ganache part), except I had to double the recipe to be able to fill all 9 tarts. Then I sprinkled on my flavored salts.

For the BBQ, I had sprinkled on the "espresso salt", which went nicely with the dark chocolate. But the next day, I had two leftover tarts that I hadn't added the baking salt to yet, and I thought I would try another flavor. I ended up choosing the "rose peppercorn salt", mainly because I thought the dried rose petals were so pretty (and also how cute would these rose petal tarts be for Valentine's Day?)!

The rose peppercorn salt gave the tarts a delicately flowery yet peppery flavor, which also went quite well with the dark chocolate. And honestly, I think every one of the salts would have paired well!

With this specific set, the options include:

Vanilla Cardamom Salt
Espresso Salt
Rose Peppercorn Salt
Hibiscus Salt
Orange Ginger Salt
Vanilla Lavendar Salt

Thanks again for the baking and dessert salts, Expertly Chosen! I can't wait to try them all!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

minnie mouse cake

Sometime last fall, a friend of a friend asked me to make a strawberries and cream Minnie Mouse birthday cake for her daughter. She originally wanted a Minnie Mouse hat cake topper like the one I had made for my friend Helen, but since I had less than a week's notice I wouldn't have enough time for the fondant cap to dry. So we settled on just mouse ears and a fondant bow instead.

To make the fondant bow, I rolled out white fondant and used a ruler and a pizza cutter to cut out a few wide strips. Then I used pieces of thin cardboard, rolled into tubes, to help form the bow.

I also wanted to add polka dots to the cake, so I used the back of a large star tip to cut out little circles of fondant. And for the fondant ears, I rolled out black fondant and used a large round cookie cutter to cut out large circles, to which I inserted toothpicks into one end so that the circle ears could stand up in the cake.

For the cake, I used my favorite vanilla cake recipe (recipe in my book, The Hello Kitty Baking Book!), baking 1.5 batches of batter in two 10-inch round cake pans. 

Once cooled, I sliced each cake in half horizontally, giving me four cake layers. Then I filled each cake layer with freshly whipped cream and sliced strawberries.

After all of the layers were assembled, I made fresh buttercream and tinted it soft pink, before covering the top and sides of the cake for a quick crumb coat.

After letting the crumb coat chill in the fridge, I added a final coat of frosting, and smoothed it out with an offset spatula. Then I used a medium round tip to pipe a white beaded border around the bottom of the cake.

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

First I added my fondant polka dots, using a bit of buttercream on each one to hold it in place.

Then I added my fondant bow ...

... and finally i added my black fondant ears (a.k.a black circles on toothpicks).

I thought the cake turned out pretty cute! Simple, clean, and perfect for a Minnie Mouse party!