Sunday, January 15, 2017

chess cake with handmade chocolate chess pieces

My friends Helen and Irene have a friend named Kristina, who asked me to make a birthday cake for her little boy several months ago. He really loves pineapple, and he loves to play chess. So we decided on a vanilla cake filled with pineapple and freshly whipped cream, topped with chocolate chess pieces!

I made the chocolate chess pieces in advance, and used this chess mold to shape my pieces with. First I melted my dark chocolate in a double boiler, and filled the cavities of the mold. After letting it harden in the fridge, I was able to easily pop the pieces out.

Then I once again filled the cavities of the mold, and while the chocolate was still warm I pressed in the corresponding other half of each piece. Then I let it harden in the fridge again, popped them out, and used a paring knife to trim any excess chocolate from the pieces.

And then I repeated the process with white chocolate.

For the cake, I used my favorite vanilla cake recipe (you can find it in m book, The Hello Kitty Baking Book!) Since I was making a 10-inch cake, I make 1.5 batches of batter, and baked it in two 10-inch round cake pans. After the cake had baked and cooled, I sliced each cake in half horizontally, giving me four cake layers.

Next, I filled each layer with freshly whipped cream and chopped pineapple chunks that had been well drained.

Once all of the layers were assembled, I covered the top and sides of the cake with whipped buttercream, smoothed it out with an offset spatula, let it chill in the fridge, and then repeated the process with a second coat of frosting.

With the last coat of frosting, I smoothed it out as best as I could, before piping alternating beads of white and brown frosting along the bottom border of the cake.

Finally, it was time to top the cake with my handmade chocolate chess pieces! I alternated with the dark chocolate and white chocolate pieces, and used a little bit of buttercream on the bottom of each piece to hold them in place.

I loved the final look of the cake! The chocolate chess pieces created quite a dramatic effect!

The final touch was adding a little fondant plaque with a birthday message for the birthday boy! For this I rolled out white fondant, and then used a plaque cookie cutter from Cookie Cutter Kingdom to cut out my shape, before using an edible food marker to write the birthday message.

Happy Birthday Noah! Hope you loved your cake!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

dairy free chocolate cupcakes with whipped dark chocolate ganache frosting

Last fall we took a road trip to LA to visit with friends, and we stayed with one of my best friends, Reggie. Her daughter Rachel is allergic to dairy but loves baked goods, so I decided to make some dairy free cupcakes for her. I had recently come upon this recipe from Pastry Affair for vegan chocolate cupcakes, and while I was intrigued at how a cupcake with no eggs could rise to be soft and fluffy, I thought it would the perfect cupcake to try out for Rachel!

I ended up making two different chocolate cupcake recipes - the vegan one above, and my usual chocolate cupcake recipe with canola oil instead of butter, and coconut milk instead of regular milk. But I topped both cupcakes with the same vegan chocolate ganache frosting, which uses coconut milk instead of heavy cream.


To decorate the cupcakes, I filled a pastry bag with the whipped ganache frosting, and one by one I placed each cupcake on a revolving cake stand and used a a large petal tip #104 to pipe swirling rosettes on the top. (I've used this same ruffle technique to decorate cakes as well and I always love the way they turn out!)

After tasting them, most of us preferred the regular dairy free cupcake (with oil and coconut milk instead of dairy) when compared with the vegan cupcake (no oil or milk at all). The vegan cupcake was just missing a bit of richness that the other cupcake had. But for vegans I think this would be a great alternative, as the cupcake was still fluffy and moist, and full of chocolate flavor!

And now I'll leave you with some pictures from our fun weekend away. :)

Monday, January 2, 2017

brush embroidery flower cookies

In addition to the champagne glass cookies that I made for the bachelorette party that Cherish was putting together, I also made these floral brush embroidery cookies in striking black and white. We were going for a classy elegant bachelorette party vibe, and thought these would go perfect with the champagne glasses!

For the cookies, I used my favorite sugar cookie dough (recipe in my book, The Hello Kitty Baking Book!), and used a large round cookie cutter to cut out my shapes. Then I whipped up some royal icing (recipe also in my book!) and used black gel-based food coloring to get a nice deep black shade. I used a small round tip to pipe stiff icing to outline my cookie, and then filled it in with runny icing.

After letting it dry for several hours (I like to let it dry overnight just to be safe), I used white stiff icing to pipe my floral design. As with these brush embroidery teapot cookies and these brush embroidery lace wedding dress cookies, I piped a simple flower outline ...

... and then used a slightly damp (food safe) brush to drag the icing towards the center of the cookie.

Then I did the same for the inside petals of the flower.

To finish it off, I piped a few small dots in the center of the flower. I thought they turned out so pretty!

And I love the contrast of the white on black!

I thought that the design and the color scheme went perfectly with the champagne glass cookies! And The combination of these two cookies would be perfect for a New Years celebration!


Monday, December 26, 2016

baileys ice cream

Last year before the Holidays, Bailey's sent me a beautiful bottle of their delicious Irish cream, and it was delicious just added to our coffee at Christmas. We also made use of it on New Years Eve, when I decided to make ice cream with it! 

I loosely used this recipe, except that I modified the amounts (I used 1 cup heavy cream, 1 cup whole milk, 3/4 cup Bailey's, and 3 egg yolks), but the technique was the same.

It turned out super delicious, and I amped it up even more by drizzling Bailey's directly over the ice cream just before serving!

I may have to make it again this year!

Here's to Happy New Year!!!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

champagne glass cookies

You may remember that a few years ago I made a variety of goodies for Cherish's wedding (my first wedding dessert table!), which included Hello Kitty macarons, football and tooth cookies, mini s'mores cupcakes, and potted plant chocolate puddings. And recently, she asked me to make cookies for a bachelorette party that she was putting together! She was going for a classy and elegant bachelorette party vibe, so we decided one design would be champagne glass cookies.

Since I had no champagne glass cookies cutter, and could not find one that I liked online, I asked my handy hubby to make me another custom copper cutter! (Aren't I lucky??!) So I made a few batches of my favorite sugar cookies recipe (from my book, The Hello Kitty Baking Book) and used my shiny new cutter to cut out my shapes.

After baking the cookies until golden brown (350F for 10-12 minues), I whipped up a batch of royal icing (recipe also in my book!) and used ivory gel-based food coloring to get the perfect shade of champagne. Then I used stiff ivory icing to outline the top part of the champagne glass, filled it in with ivory runny icing, and then did the same with white icing for the bottom part of the glass.

The final touch was piping stiff white icing for the "bubbles" in the champagne!

I thought they turned out super cute and festive, and would also be perfect for a birthday of a  New Years celebration as well!

I also made a second cookie design to go along with the champagne glass cookies - floral brush embroidery cookies! Stay tuned for the tutorial!