Archive for April, 2008

Two Cakes & The Cookbook Giveaway Winner

Monday, April 28th, 2008

Well, I am so excited to announce the winner of my first cookbook giveaway!  Thanks to all 35 people who participated in this little contest! When I put the info into the random number generator on my computer it said that the winner was….#2!!! Congratulations Landa from the All-Purpose Girl Blog! Your new Martha Stewart Cookie Book will be on its way shortly!Now onto the cakes!  This past weekend I had two events…one wedding and one birthday party. This was actually my first official wedding cake and I got to deliver it to the Queen Mary. The bride and groom were from England, which made it even more exciting, and came over to the U.S. just for their wedding. They were having a 1920′s theme wedding and so they sent me a picture of what they wanted the cake to look like. I put my own little twist on it and overall I was pretty happy with the outcome. The cake was carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and the top and bottom tier were covered in fondant, while the middle tier was covered in modeling chocolate. I used a technique called brushed embroidery to decorate the cake. First I made royal icing and colored it gold. Then I piped the design on freehand…basically I just looked at the photo that they sent me and tried to make a design similar to it. When piping I worked in segments…I piped on the royal icing and then used a small, wet paint brush and brushed the royal icing. I then let the icing dry. To get the glittery gold effect I used gold luster dust mixed it with a little vodka and painted over the piping to make it shimmer.  Lastly I piped a simple border of royal icing around the bases of the cake.




The second event I had this weekend was a surprise birthday party where I made the appetizers and the cake.  The appetizers were Salmon Cakes with Lemon Dill Sauce, Bruschetta on Garlic Crostini, and Hot Parmesan Artichoke Dip with Pita Bread.  For the cake I made a chocolate cake with white chocolate whipped cream filling (see recipe below) and fresh strawberries and covered it with chocolate mousse buttercream.  As you can see from the photos of the cake, I have been getting more and more into using fresh flowers with my desserts.  I have the most adorable flower shop near my house and I love looking at their new flowers they get every day.  The theme for the party was “Tequila Sunrise” and so they wanted a cake with the colors pink, red, and orange.  I colored some vanilla buttercream I had red and piped a dot border around the edges of the cake and then used the same buttercream to pipe the birthday message.  To get the flowers to stick in the cake, I wrapped a skewer around the stem of the flower and secured it with floral tap.  Once I got to the party I was a little worried about the cake since we got a massive heat wave here in CA and it was around 90 degrees on Saturday…not so good for buttercream.  Thankfully it survived though!




The recipe for white chocolate whipped cream is quite easy and only uses two ingredients: white chocolate and heavy cream

White Chocolate Whipped Cream

adapted from Fran Bigelow’s book, Pure Chocolate 

Makes 3 cups

6 oz white chocolate, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled

Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl, at 30 seconds intervals, stirring each time.  Let cool slightly.  Whip the cream to very soft peaks.  Working quickly, with a hand whisk add the lightly whipped cream all at once to the cooled melted chocolate.  (Don’t reverse the order, or chips will form.)  Whisk until thoroughly combined, but don’t overwhip or you will lose the smooth consistency.  Chilled until needed.


Cream Puffs & A Cookbook Giveaway

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

Today has been so much fun for me because I had my first cooking class at Prep Kitchen Essentials, in Seal Beach, CA. What a dream place this is to teach in…fabulous food, top-notch equipment, and someone does your dishes for you too! I think I died and went to heaven! I was also so excited to have two of my blog readers come to the class! Well, I wanted to share a couple photos with you and one of the recipes too! In today’s class I taught how to make Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Cream and Fresh Raspberries, Mini Key Lime Pies with Toasted Meringue Topping, and Cream Puffs with Sweet Melissa’s Deadly Chocolate Fudge Sauce! The class was so much fun and I couldn’t help but want to share with you the Cream Puff recipe! This recipe is quite easy and so much fun for everyone. You can make these into profiteroles by substituting the whipped cream filling for a scoop of your favorite ice cream…doesn’t that sound yummy!



Servings: about 16 profiteroles/cream puffs

Pate a Choux:

adapted from The King Arthur Flour Baking Companion

8 oz. (1 c.) Water

5 ¼ oz (1 ¼ c.) AP Flour

8 T. Unsalted Butter

3-4 large eggs

¾ t. salt

Preheat oven 425 degrees

Put the water, salt, and butter in a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and add the flour all at once. Return the pan to the burner and start stirring vigorously. Cook over medium heat, while stirring constantly, until the mixture forms a ball. (About 1 minute or so) Remove from heat and let cool for 5-10 minutes, or until 140 degrees. Place the dough in a mixer bowl and beat in the eggs one at a time. Before adding the last egg check the consistency of the dough. Pinch the dough between your fingers and slowly pull apart. If the dough breaks easily, add the last egg. Continue beating for at least 2 minutes after the last egg has been beaten.

Place the dough in a piping bag with a #809 tip. Pipe the dough into small balls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat. If a peak forms, then gently dab it with a wet finger.

Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the oven temp. to 375 degrees and continue baking for 15 more minutes. The balls should feel like and hollow. Turn off the oven, open the door a crack, and leave the balls to cool for 30 more minutes.

Chocolate Fudge Sauce:

adapted from Sweet Melissa’s Baking Book

7.5 oz best-quality bittersweet chocolate coarsely chopped

¼ c. sugar

½ c. plus 1 t. light corn syrup

½ c. plus 1 t. water

¾ c. unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

¾ t. instant coffee or instant espresso powder

1 T. liquor (cognac, brandy, Kahlua, etc.)

Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl at 30 second intervals until the chocolate is completely melted. (You can also melt the chocolate in a double boiler set or simmering water.) Keep warm.

In a large saucepan over medium heat add the sugar, corn syrup, water, cocoa powder, and instant coffee. Bring to a boil, while whisking constantly. Once the mixture comes to a rapid boil, continue cooking for 1-2 more minutes.

Remove from heat and whisk in the melted chocolate and liquor.

Whipped Cream:

1 Pint heavy whipping cream

1 t. vanilla extract

Powdered sugar to taste

Whip cold heavy whipping cream with a whisk attachment until slightly thickened. Add powdered sugar to taste and vanilla extract. Continue whipping until soft peaks form.

Once cool, cut balls in half with a serrated bread knife and place small scoops of ice cream or whipped cream inside. Drizzle the chocolate sauce on top and enjoy!

Here are some more photos from the class!







To celebrate my happy day with my blogging friends and readers I wanted to give away a free copy of Martha Stewart’s new book “Martha Stewart’s Cookies“. This is a great resource for yummy cookies and I wanted to share it with one of you! All you have to do is leave me a comment with what your all-time favorite dessert is. I am looking to figure out new recipes to try and I want to know what desserts hold a special place in your hearts. Look forward to hearing your comments!  The deadline is Saturday night!

Chocolate Baby Cupcakes

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

It was my turn to bring dessert to my Bible study last Thursday night, which was around the same time I was making the cake for the Barbie cake, so I decided to use a little of the batter to make mini cupcakes for everyone.  To make the cupcakes even cuter I decided to use some adorable flower cupcakes liners that I got from Fancy Flours.  I think I have an unhealthy addiction to cute cupcake liners and once I see them…I have to have them!  



I been really into using one of Barefoot Contessa’s chocolate cake recipes and have found that it is my favorite chocolate cake recipe I’ve tasted yet…and believe me, I have eaten a lot of chocolate cake!  I use a pastry bag and fill it will the batter and then pipe it into the mini cupcake liners to make everything a lot easier.  To spice the recipe up even more I added a peanut butter filling from Chockylit’s Cupcake Blog (As she recommends, definitely add more milk to this recipe…just enough to make it creamy). To put the filling in the cupcakes I use a pastry bag with a medium tip and insert the tip into the cupcake and squeeze until the cupcake expands slightly and the filling comes to the top. 


To top off these yummy cupcakes I used a Chocolate Mousse Buttercream recipe from the book Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey, by Jill O’Conner.  This recipe is delicious!

Chocolate Mousse Buttercream

adapted from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey

yield: about 5 cups

6 large eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 T. Dutch processed cocoa powder

1 t. vanilla extract

pinch of salt

6 sticks (24 0z)of cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

12 0z semisweet chocolate, melted 

Whisk together the eggs, sugar, and cocoa powder in the metal bowl of a stand mixer.

Fill a large saute pan with hot water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Place the mixing bowl in the water and whisk the egg mixture constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is thick and fluffy and very hot, 3-4 minutes.  The temperature should be between 120-140 degrees.

Remove the bowl from the water and using the whisk attachment, beat the eggs at a medium-high speed until they are tripled in volume and form very soft peaks.  The bottom of the bowl should be completely cool to the touch, about 10 minutes.  Beat in the vanilla and salt.

Switch to the paddle attachment on your mixer and turn to medium-high speed.  Add the chucks of butter a couple at a time.  Once all is added, turn the mixer on high speed and let it mix until the buttercream comes together and is shiny and smooth…don’t worry if it separates at first, it will come together!  

Add the buttercream to another bowl (not metal…it is too cold and will seize the chocolate) and then add 1/2 of the warm chocolate and stir to incorporate.  Add the remaining chocolate and stir to fully incorporate.    Place the chocolate buttercream in a pastry bag fitted with a #807 tip and pipe your buttercream onto the cupcake.  To get the swirl effect, simply start at one end of the cupcake and pipe in a circle.  Continue piping until you have two layers of frosting.  Stop squeezing the frosting and quickly pull tip away from cupcake.

To make the fondant accent simply roll out your fondant to 1/8″-1/4″ thick and stamp your impressions onto it.  If it sticks add a little cornstarch.  Next use a brush to add luster dust to the fondant.  Then use a small circle cutter and cut circles out of the fondant.  Let the circles dry slightly before adding them to the cupcake or else they won’t hold their shape.   



 And here is the final cupcake creation!




Barbie Doll Cake

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Having so many family and friends that live near me always gives an opportunity to try out new dessert ideas. This past weekend was my little cousin’s birthday party and her mom and I decided that a Barbie Doll cake would be perfect for the party. This was my first time making a Barbie Doll cake and I was excited to see how it would turn out. Overall I was happy with it, but there is definitely some things that I would do differently next time.


Instead of buying a Barbie Doll pan for the actual cake part I just baked three cakes… 4″,5″, 6″ and cake rounds. I split the cakes into two layers each and filled them with vanilla buttercream. I then stacked the three cakes on top of each other and spread buttercream between them.


Next I trimmed the cake on the sides and placed the trimmed pieces of the cake back onto the cake so that the shape would be more rounded. I then coated the whole cake in buttercream and placed it on the cake board that I lined with fondant.



I rolled out my fondant to about 1/8″-1/4″ and draped it over the cake.  I just used my fingers to maneuver the fondant so that it created pleats like a dress would have.  I then used fondant to cover the top part of the Barbie and stuck the Barbie into the center of the cake.  To decorate the dress I used royal icing to pipe dots and the girl’s names and I used stamps to make fondant flowers for the dress too.




Lastly I wanted to say THANK YOU to Stephanie over at Stephanie’s Kitchen for giving me this “Bloggin with a Purpose” award.  I absolutely love her blog and was so honored that she thought of me when passing her awards out!  Definitely go check her out and the other nominated blogs!




Mini Cakes for a Beautiful Bride-To-Be

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

This past week has been full of baking, baking, and more baking, so look forward to many posts this coming week. The first of many posts is probably my favorite! This past weekend I had the pleasure of making more treats for my friend Karrie’s second bridal shower. This time the shower was in San Diego, CA and it was at Tea Upon Chatsworth. I had never been to a tea house before and had an absolutely wonderful time. Tea and yummy treats…what could be better! I was asked to make about 40 bridal shower favors for the ladies and decided that trying out mini cakes was the route I was going to take. My wonderful friend April from culinary school came over to help me with the project, but when midnight came she had to leave and that left me to finish them…lets just say that my head didn’t hit the pillow until around 4:30am…I don’t think I would’ve finished without April! I do have to say that I still ended up having a lovely day at the shower, even on 2 1/2 hours sleep, and I was pretty happy with how my little cakes turned out. The circle cakes were chocolate cake with chocolate mousse buttercream and fresh strawberries and the square cakes were buttermilk cake with passion fruit mousse and fresh strawberries. I took photos at my house and also at the shower, so sorry for the overload of photos, but I love taking pictures of my goodies…please let me know your favorite photo, so I can see which one I should put on my official website!


To make them I baked the cake in 13 x 9 pans and then used cookie cutters to cut circles out of the cooled cake. I used a serrated bread knife to make the squares out of the other cake. One I had enough cut outs for each cake to have two layers I piped on a outer ring of vanilla buttercream with a piping bag on the bottom layer and then piped in the filling for the cakes and added the sliced strawberries. Next I placed the second cake layer on top and piped buttercream around the cake before I smoothed it down. Piping the buttercream on the mini cakes is easier than trying to frost them completely with only a offset spatula because the cakes are not as stable as larger ones. After covering the cakes with buttercream I rolled out fondant, I prefer using Satin Ice Fondant, and smoothed it over the cakes. (Side note: I am really happy with Satin Ice Fondant and got many compliments on how the fondant tasted…since many people have a mad mindset about it. Also I have tried marshmallow fondant, but found that I didn’t like the consistency as much as regular fondant…so I’m sticking with Satin Ice). After the fondant is on the cake and smoothed I use a pizza wheel to go around the bottom edge of the cake and cut off the excess.



I then adhered different color ribbon around the bottom of each cake with a dab of buttercream. I also piped three small dots of buttercream at the seam of the ribbon and then adhered three silver dragees to the buttercream dots.



For a decorating accent I rolled out some gray fondant and then stamped the flower design onto the fondant and lust dusted the whole mini cake. As you can see in the photos I used three different flower stamps on the fondant. (For more info about these kind of stamps check out my other posts on cupcakes). I then used circle cookie cutters to cut out neat circles and adhered them to the cake with a dab of water. To package the mini cakes I used 4″x4″x4″ clear boxes, which you can get from Garnish, and tied them with different color ribbons. On some of the boxes I cut fresh button mums and stuck them underneath the ribbon.








And lastly here are some more photos from the shower that were too fun not to post…hope you enjoy them!













Featured on!!!

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

I was so excited to find out that my company, Sweet & Saucy, was featured on!!! Thank you so much Wedding Chicks!





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