Saturday, March 29, 2014

individual mini blackberry mousse cakes

I made a blackberry mousse cake for my brother's birthday this year, and I happened to have enough components left over to make a couple of individual mousse cakes as well! I just used my 3-inch cake rings (similar to these) to assemble them. (I've also used these rings to make these individual triple chocolate mousse cakes, and they're great for making tuna tartare as well!)

I divided the chocolate crust mixture between the cake rings, and then used a shot glass to pack the mixture down before baking them at 350F for about 7 minutes. Then when the crust had cooled, I just poured on the middle cheesecake layer, let it set in the fridge for an hour, and then poured on the blackberry mousse layer on top of that. (See here for more on the layers.)

I let the cakes set overnight, and then carefully unmolded them before topping them with a few fresh blackberries.

And there you have it - a simple. delicious, and (mostly) no-bake dessert!

Friday, March 28, 2014

blackberry mousse cake

My mom's company threw her a retirement party last fall, and when she brought home the leftovers of her retirement cake, which was a blackberry mousse cake, my brother texted me a picture of his slice and told me that I needed to recreate it because he liked it so much. So naturally, I attempted to recreate the cake for his birthday dinner last week!

I started with the chocolate crust. The retirement cake had a crunchy, chocolately crust, and the crunch reminded me a lot of these European wafer cookies that you see a lot during the holidays. So to make my crust, I used a food processor to grind up enough Oreos (with the filling removed) to make about a cup of crumbs, as well as a cup of crumbs from those European wafer cookies (good thing we still had an unopened box in our pantry from the holidays!)

Then I added a few tablespoons of sugar, and half stick of melted butter. I pressed the mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan, and baked it at 350F for about 10 minutes. Once cooled, I removed the springform sides of the pan, to reveal a crust which looked like this!

I put the springform sides back on the pan, and then got started on my filling. I decided to make a no-bake cheesecake filling for the middle layer, based on this recipe at Barbara Bakes. I let a packet of gelatin bloom in 3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice, then added it to a whipped mixture of cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract, and heavy whipping cream. Once everything was mixed and fluffy, I poured it into my springform pan on top of my chocolate crust, and smoothed it out with an offset spatula. Then I let it set in the fridge while I made my blackberry mousse layer.

First I pureed my blackberries in my food processor, and then strained out and discarded the seeds. I was left with a tart and luscious blackberry puree.

To that I added more gelatin bloomed in water, and then folded in a couple cups of freshly whipped cream.

Then I poured the blackberry mousse layer on top of my cheesecake layer, which by now had already set. After smoothing the top with an offset spatula, I placed it back in the fridge to set overnight.

When it was time to bring it to the party, I carefully unmolded it and decorated the top with fresh blackberries.

The combination of the lemony cheesecake with the tangy blackberry mousse turned out great, and the crust added just the right amount of chocolatey crunch. Although, I think next time I would use a higher ratio of European wafer cookies to Oreo cookies, just to up the crunch factor. :)

Happy 30th Birthday, Michael!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

meatloaf cupcakes with mashed potato frosting

In all the excitement of posting the funfetti cake, ice cream, and cupcakes that I made for Micah's first birthday celebration this past February, I almost forgot to post what I made for dinner! We wanted to make a simple dinner to celebrate with family - I decided to make my favorite macaroni and cheese (from America's Test Kitchen) since the kids love it, along with meatloaf and tossed salad.

As I was preparing the components for the meatloaf, I suddenly remembered a show on Food Network I had seen a long time ago, where they featured a restaurant in Chicago that made meatloaf cupcakes topped with mashed potatoes as frosting. (I specifically remember it was in Chicago because I had immediately texted my cousin in Chicago to ask if she knew of the place!) And so I decided to turn my meatloaf into cupcakes as well!

After forming my meatloaf into giant meatballs, I patted them into a cupcake tin, and then brushed on a mixture of brown sugar, ketchup and ground mustard.

I baked them at 350F for about 25 minutes, until the meat was cooked through and the glaze had become dark and sticky.

My husband whipped up a quick batch of mashed potatoes, deliciously flavored with butter, heavy cream, and salt. Then I filled a piping bag fitted with a large star tip, and got to work piping my mashed potato "frosting"!

The final touch was a sprinking of chopped green onions. Aren't they cute?!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

funfetti birthday cupcakes with whipped cream frosting

In addition to the funfetti birthday cake and funfetti ice cream that I made for Micah's first birthday celebration, I also made these funfetti cupcakes for him to celebrate at school (well, daycare!). I used the same recipe as I did for the cake, and instead baked them in cupcake tins at 350F for 20 minutes.

For the frosting, I made the same blue-tinted whipped cream frosting as I did for the cake, and used a Wilton 1M open-star tip to pipe rosettes on top of each cupcake.

Then, to match the cake, I sprinkled the same multicolored round confetti sprinkles all over the top!

I've said it before and I'll say it again - this boy loves cake! He wolfed his cupcake down in a matter of minutes, as he did his slice of birthday cake the day before!

I also had enough batter leftover to make a few mini cupcakes as well! They were small enough to eat in just one bite - Yum!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

funfetti cookies-n-cream ice cream

To go along with the blue funfetti cake that I made for my youngest son Micah's first birthday, I decided to make cookies-n-cream ice cream. But this wasn't just any cookies-n-cream ice cream ... I wanted to add lots of sprinkles to it, for a festive birthday feel that matched the confetti cake. And, when I went to the store to pick up Oreos, I found these - birthday cake Oreos! With funfetti in the Oreo filling! How perfect!

So I made my custard base as usual - I mixed egg yolks with sugar, tempered them with a hot cream and milk mixture, and then cooked it all over the stove until the mixture thickens. Then I strained it, added vanilla extract, and let it cool before churning (I typically let it cool overnight in the fridge). 

During the last 5 minutes of churning, I added a cup of chopped birthday cake Oreos, and finally a few handfuls of rainbow sprinkles. Once everything was all mixed in, I poured it into a container to let it set in the freezer overnight.

While I didn't totally love the birthday cake Oreos by itself (I prefer the original Oreos better), I absolutely LOVED it when paired with the ice cream. It added the perfect amount of "birthday cake" taste to the ice cream. And it was the perfect compliment to the funfetti birthday cake! I'll definitely be making this again!

Friday, March 7, 2014

chocolate mint layer cake for st. patrick's day

It's been almost a year since I made this St. Patrick's Day cake, and I'm only now getting around to blogging about it! Oh well, at least it's just in time for this year's St. Patrick's Day!

I didn't have much time to make the cake, as I had just given birth to my third baby a month earlier (and I was still nursing every 2 hours so I had to work in small half-hour chunks of time throughout the day), so I chose my favorite chocolate cake recipe which can be made in one bowl. I baked it up in two 8-inch pans, and while they were cooling I whipped up a quick batch of peppermint whipped cream (with a few drops of coloring to tint it green).

Then I sliced my cake layers in half horizontally (giving me four cake layers), and filled and frosted the layers with the peppermint whipped cream.

Decorating it had to be simple as I only had small spurts of time, so I piped a simple shell border, and a quick four-leaf clover in the center.

I thought it still looked rather plain, so I sprinkled some green and white confetti sprinkles over the shell borders.

With our corned beef and cabbage dinner that night, we had green beer and decorated with festive paper napkins...

... and ate yummy cake for dessert!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

tiramisu birthday cake with piped swirl ruffle sides

My last post was about this mocha pocky layer cake that I made last year for my mom's birthday, which started out as one cake, and then turned into a different cake altogether! For this year's cake, the same thing happened! I had this whole vision in my head - I knew I wanted to make a tiramisu cake, because out of all the cakes that I have made for my mom, she seems to have liked this Hello Kitty tiramisu the best (she prefers desserts that aren't too sweet, and she loves the flavor of coffee). For the design on the top, I pictured something similar to this lace cake that I had seen on Pinterest somewhere, except that I wanted to dust on cocoa powder instead of sugar. And for the sides, I wanted to try this pretty swirl ruffle piping that I had pinned on Pinterest about a year ago.

So I doubled my Hello Kitty tiramisu recipe to make two 8-inch vanilla cake layers and sliced them in half horizontally. Then I topped each cake layer with a light brushing of espresso syrup, a layer of espresso and Kahlua creamy whipped filling (made with cream cheese this time instead of mascarpone cheese), and then a dusting of cocoa powder before adding the next cake layer. Then I finished it off by using the same creamy filling to frost the top and sides of the cake.

Next I attempted to dust on my lace design with cocoa powder. Let's just say that it didn't come out too pretty. So I decided to dust the entire top with cocoa powder, and then try the lace design with powdered sugar. At first it seemed to work, although the design was very light...

.. but then before I knew it, the powdered sugar started to dissolve into the cocoa powder, until the lace design was not even recognizable. Boo :( Oh well, at least I would still have the pretty swirl ruffles piped on the sides.

But even that didn't come out as I had envisioned. I think I should have gone one more swirl higher than I did.

In any case, it still looked like tiramisu, although a tad plain. So I decided to sprinkle some sugar pearls on the top, to pretty it up a little.

Right before the party, the cake was still looking a little plain, so at the suggestion of my husband I threw on some light green cymbidium orchids (although I didn't have time to properly photograph it).

To my delight, my mom loved the cake! I think I may have to make tiramisu cake for her every year!

Happy Birthday, Mommy!