Saturday, October 30, 2010

halloween cupcakes - pumpkin cupcakes with browned butter cream cheese frosting

A few weeks ago, I had signed up to make pumpkin pie for Matthew's preschool class Halloween party.  I had envisioned making cute individual mini pumpkin pies instead of one large pie.  But when Halloween week rolled around, I was more in the mood to make cupcakes!  So I decided to make pumpkin cupcakes instead.

I found a nice Martha Stewart recipe for the cupcake, and it came out tender and moist, with just the right amount of spices to enhance the pumpkin.  For the topping, I upgraded my favorite cream cheese frosting by adding some browned butter, just to give it a nuttier taste, and in the end the flavors of the frosting and the cupcake married quite nicely.

To go with the Halloween theme, I made my frosting look like spiderwebs:

I was originally going to pipe spiders on top of the webs too, but spiders really gross me out, and I don't want to even think about eating them!  So instead I piped a happy jack-o-lantern on top.

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

hello kitty ice cream cake

Since my last couple blog entries were Hello Kitty related, I wanted to also show you the "hello kitty" cakes I've been making.  I made this ice-cream cake for my best friend Sue's birthday back in March.  It was a chocolate cake with homemade coffee-oreo ice cream - my favorite combination!

Before that, I had made this one for my friend Hsing last October.  It was a chocolate cake also with homemade mint oreo ice cream.

And I also made this mini 6-inch ice-cream cake for my friend Diana last February. It was a chocolate cake again, but I can't remember what ice-cream flavor I made.  I think it was my plain coffee ice-cream?

I think next I'm going to make something "hello kitty" for my daughter's first birthday, in December.  I need to start brainstorming for some new ideas!

*** Update:
You can now find my recipe for Hello Kitty Ice Cream Cake in my new book, "The Hello Kitty Baking Book"! Enjoy!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

hello kitty cake pops

Wow!  My "hello kitty" cupcakes somehow made it on to the Cupcakes Take The Cake blog!  I love that blog!  I'm not even sure how they found them, since I didn't submit anything?  They also showed up on Cakeology too!  Awesome!  I'm stoked.  Pleasantly surprised.  Excited to make more things Hello Kitty.

Can you tell that I have a slight obsession with Hello Kitty?

Which leads me to these cake pops I made a while back.  I started reading Bakerella's blog after seeing her on Martha Stewart's cupcake week, and have been drooling over her creations ever since.  This was my attempt at her "hello kitty" cake pops, while practicing for the wedding cake pops I was going to make for K and C.  

Next time I need to use a light-colored cake though - you can see the chocolate cake peeking out from underneath the white chocolate!  Hello Kitty is also missing her whiskers - oops!  My edible ink pen wasn't working out on the chocolate.

Here's a picture of one of the many casualties below.  But don't worry, it still tasted great! :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

fresh strawberry hello kitty cupcakes

Today is my friend Hsing's birthday, and since we both love Hello Kitty, I wanted to make her Hello Kitty cupcakes.  Last year I made her a Hello Kitty ice cream cake - chocolate cake with homemade mint oreo ice cream (a post is in the works on that one!), so this year I wanted to do something totally different.

I pictured doing a pink frosting with a white Hello Kitty piped on top - similar to the duckie cupcakes I did for Naomi's mini baby shower - so I decided that a fresh strawberry buttercream would be perfect.  For the cupcake, I wanted to try a new recipe (I had found one for a new dark chocolate cupcake that I had been dying to try), and while it came out very moist, the texture was dense and more like a brownie cake - not what I was going for.  So I went with a strawberry cupcake instead, which called for fresh finely diced strawberries folded into the batter (recipe from Martha Stewart's book "Cupcakes"!).  The end result was a delicate white cupcake with melty bits of fresh strawberry inside - yum!

For the frosting, I pureed fresh strawberries in the food processor, and added it to my standard buttercream.  This made it a nice pale pink, but since I was going to pipe Hello Kitty in white, I wanted a darker pink shade, so I added a tiny bit of pink food coloring.

Then I made another batch of white buttercream for Hello Kitty's face, and added red food coloring for the bow and nose, and black/brown coloring for the and eyes and whiskers.

I had lots of extra strawberry buttercream left over, so I piped some flowers on top of the cakey brownie cupcakes (can't let those go to waste!).

While the strawberry cupcake and strawberry buttercream combination were good together, I thought the frosting made everything a tad too sweet, so I think next time I'll go with a strawberry cream cheese frosting instead.  Or maybe even a honey cream cheese frosting.  I just love the tang in a nice cream cheese frosting!

Anyway, Happy Birthday Hsing!  Hope you (and Avery and Chenchi) enjoyed the cupcakes!

Monday, October 18, 2010

canelles and cake for auntie shelfee's birthday

A few of my aunties were in town over the weekend, and since Auntie Shelfee's birthday is coming up and we were going to be taking her to an early birthday dinner, I decided to make her favorite dessert - canelles.  They're made with milk, butter, flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and the secret ingredient - rum - and then baked in silicone molds at a very high temperature to give it a crusty, almost burnt exterior, while maintaining a moist chewy cake-like interior.

I also had two 6-inch chocolate cake rounds in the freezer (previously baked and then double-wrapped with saran wrap and stored inside a large ziploc bag), that I had intended to make into ice cream cake for Matthew's birthday (but never got around to doing), which I defrosted and then made a quick coffee buttercream frosting to ice it with, so that we could bring a cake to dinner for dessert.

First we hung out at the house and played with the kids, while snacking on canelles, coffee, and my mom's homemade banana bread.

Then we were off to dinner at our favorite local Italian restaurant.  We dined on fried calamari, polenta with cheese and mushrooms, caprese salad, butternut squash ravioli with sage and brown butter, linguini with seafood, and gnocchi with sausage, spinach and red wine sauce.

Then it was time for dessert!

Happy (Early) Birthday, Auntie Shelfee! See you at Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

cupcake pops for a wedding

Our friends K and C got married over the weekend - Congratulations you two lovebirds!!!  C knows that I love to bake, and she thought cake pops would be cute to have at the reception.  So a couple months before the wedding, I started baking and testing and practicing making Bakerella's famous cupcake pops.

The first attempt was okay.  The pops were cute, but I needed practice in shaping them and I also needed to practice my dipping technique.

For the second attempt a few weeks later, I made a batch of 30 pops for my co-worker's birthday.  These turned out a little better.

And the third attempt was for the real deal ... the wedding!  I ended up making 100 pops - although some didn't look too great, so my taste testers (my hubby and my 3-year old) got to eat the "mess-ups".  And me, of course.  So only 90 of them made it to the reception.  My husband even built special styrofoam and wood stands for me to display the pops in.  (Thanks hon!)

It was really chaotic setting them up at the wedding, and since I had the two kids with me, I didn't get a great picture of them all set up at the wedding.  But here's how it ended up looking.

Hope you enjoyed them K and C!  I had fun making them!  And I had fun watching people eat them!!! :)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

chicken pot pie

Chicken pot pie is one of those dishes that just makes you feel good.  For me, it is the ultimate comfort food.  Flaky buttery pie crust, rich delicious chicken and veggie soup - I don't know anyone who doesn't love chicken pot pie!  Even my three-year old, who usually has to be told over and over again, "Eat your dinner!", will happily wolf down my chicken pot pie without being told once to eat his dinner!

I like this recipe from Everyday Food on PBS, except I make my own all-butter pie crust, and I also add celery and potatoes to the soup.  For the chicken, I boil four chicken thighs in salted water until tender, and then I take the meat off the bone and cut into bite-size pieces.  Then, I use that broth in the soup instead of canned chicken broth.

I use these Corningware baking dishes for my individual pies:

And a ramekin for Matthew's mini pot pie:

Cover the baking dishes with homemade pie crust, cut slits for vents, and brush with egg wash:

And thirty-five minutes later, it's time for delicious homemade chicken pot pie!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

duckie cupcakes

I made these "duckie" cupcakes for my friend Naomi's "mini" baby shower.  Her mom planned an intimate gathering that was separate from her real baby shower, and she was doing a "duckie" theme, so I made a dozen red velvet cupcakes, and a dozen carrot cupcakes.

Her mom did such a good job with the table and decorations!

Everyone brought a dish or two, and it was all deelish!

I especially loved Naomi's deviled eggs.  I think I must have eaten like five.  Probably more.

We ended the day with games and dessert.  And lots of chatting and gossiping and catching up.  Happy "mini" baby shower, Naomi!

cars cupcakes

I can't believe my little boy is THREE now!  It's crazy how fast time flies.

For his birthday party at preschool, I made my go-to cupcake ... a chocolate cupcake with chocolate cream cheese frosting.  Last year I made him "elmo" cupcakes, and this year when I asked what kind of cupcakes he wanted, he chose "cars".  (Well, actually first he wanted "spiderman" cupcakes.  Then he wanted "star wars" cupcakes.  Finally he wanted "cars".  Good thing he didn't change his mind again!)

For his party we also brought "cars" goodie bags and a "cars" pinata, which the kids LOVED.

I think the pinata was the kids' favorite part of the party.  Most of them didn't even eat the cupcake, they just scraped all the frosting off and ate that!  Go figure.