Sunday, April 23, 2017

dia de los muertos sugar skull cookies

When I was in the 5th grade, my family moved us from San Diego to the Bay Area, and my first friend was a girl named Sara who introduced herself to me on the school bus. We became fast friends, spent afternoons after school together, and often had slumber parties at each other's houses. But somewhere in junior high we drifted, and the last time I remember seeing her was in high school. Until recently, when we reconnected on Instagram of all places!

Sara now owns and runs the Soda Craft food truck with her fiance, and sometime last fall we thought it would be fun to have some of my cookies on her truck! They had a Dia de los Muertos event coming up, so we decided that would be a perfect event for me to bake up some cookies!

I knew I wanted to make sugar skull cookies, but since I didn't have any skull cookie cutters I asked my sweet hubby to make me one! Armed with my shiny new copper cutter, I made my favorite sugar cookie recipe (in my book, The Hello Kitty Baking Book!), rolled the dough out to 1/8 inch thick, and cut out my skull shapes.

After baking the cookies at 350F until golden brown (about 10-12 minutes), I let them cool and then whipped up a batch of royal icing (recipe also in my book!). I used stiff white icing (in a disposable pastry bag fitted with a small round tip) to pipe an outline on each skull, and then filled it in with runny white icing.

After letting the icing dry for several hours, I used stiff pink icing to pipe heart outlines for eyes.

Then I filled in the eyes with runny pink icing, and used stiff black icing to pipe the nose and mouth.

Then came the fun part - adding all the decorative details on the sugar skulls!

I looked online for pictures of sugar skulls as inspiration, and tried to make it colorful and festive with details in blue, green, orange, and pink.

It was so much fun working with Sara, and I can honestly say that after so many years she somehow looks exactly the same!!!

And the cookies did great on the truck! It was a successful first collaboration.

Happy Dia de los Muertos!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

miffy first birthday cake with handmade fondant miffy topper

Sometime last year, I made this yellow ruffle cake and cat and onesie cookies for my friend Bernice, who was hosting a baby shower for her sister Tiffany. One year later, Tiffany asked me to make a cake for her baby daughter, who was turning one! How fast time flies!

Tiffany already knew she wanted a miffy cake, and she wanted it to have rainbow insides. After a few emails back and forth, we decided on a design - just a plain white cake with a fondant miffy on top, wearing a yellow dress, next to a fondant orange #1. I couldn't wait to get started!

I began making the fondant miffy a couple of weeks before the party, so that it would have time to dry before going on top of the cake. I used white fondant to roll out shapes for the head and ears, and then used a combo of golden yellow and lemon yellow to color fondant for the dress before shaping them out. I let the pieces dry for a couple days so that they would retain their shape, and then used a toothpick to connect the head to the body.

Once assembled, I used an edible marker to add the details to the face.

Isn't she cute?

I also made a quick #1 out of orange fondant, and stuck a toothpick in the bottom so that I could later easily secure it to the top of the cake.

Then the night before the party, I made the cake. Tiffany wanted rainbow layers, but not too many laters so that it wouldn't be so tall, so we stuck to just four colors. I made my favorite vanilla cake batter (recipe in my book, The Hello Kitty Baking Book!), divided it into four bowls, and colored each bowl of batter a different color (red, green, blue, and purple). Then I baked the colored batter in four different 10-inch round cake pans.

Once baked and cooled, I filled each layer with lemon whipped cream - freshly whipped cream to which I added lemon juice and lemon zest.

To frost the cake, I covered the top and sides with a quick crumb coat of buttercream frosting (recipe also in my book!), let it chill in the fridge for 30 minutes, and then did a final coat which I smoothed out with an offset spatula.

I also piped a beaded border along the bottom of the cake, using a disposable pastry bag fitted with a medium round tip.

And the final step was adding the fondant toppers!

I used a bit of frosting on the bottom of the toppers to keep them in place. (At this point, Miffy was starting to lean a little bit, so next time I'll remember to put toothpicks in the bottom of my fondant figures before they dry, so that they can stay securely upright on the cake!)

Tiffany was nice enough to send me a picture of the inside of the cake, after it had been cut. I love how it turned out (and I also just adore that rainbow bunting that she decorated with!)

Happy first birthday, sweet baby Everly! Hope you enjoyed your cake!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

pusheen cookies

Recently, my friend Anita from Dessert First asked me to make Pusheen cookies for her daughter's birthday party, and of course I said yes! Anita is a baking blogger as well, and she is one of the sweetest people I know! (Some of you may remember this amazing macaron party that Anita invited me to!) You can check out her post of the Pusheen birthday party here - everything turned out SO ADORABLE!

For the cookies, Anita knew what cookie designs she wanted, so I just followed her lead! Since I didn't have any Pusheen cookie cutters, I asked hubby to make a couple for me, and look how perfect they turned out! (Thanks hubby!)

Armed with my shiny new copper cookie cutters, I rolled out my favorite sugar cookie dough (recipe in my book, The Hello Kitty Baking Book!) to about 1/8 inch thick, and cut out my shapes before baking them at 350F for 10-12 minutes.

Once all the cookies were baked and cooled, I whipped up a batch of royal icing (recipe also in my book!), and then used black stiff icing (in a disposable pastry bag fitted with a small tip) to outline each cookie.

Next I filled them in with runny grey icing, and while the icing was still wet I used a small tip to pipe in dark grey stripes on Pusheen's head, back, and tail. Normally I wait until the filled icing is dry before piping on the details, but in this case I wanted the stripes to be flush with the rest of the icing, instead of raised.

Then I let them dry for several hours before piping on the eyes, nose and mouth, and whiskers.

The first third of the cookies would be four-legged Pusheen, you know, just hanging out and being all cute.

The next third of the cookies would be Pusheen eating a donut (since, as you may know, Pusheen loves to eat!), so I piped an outline of the donut and the little paws, and then filled in the donut with pink runny icing. Then while the pink icing was wet, I and added rainbow nonpareils for the donut sprinkles.

And the final third of the cookies would be Pusheen eating chocolate chip cookies, so I piped the cookie outlines with black stiff icing, filled them in with tan icing, and piped the little chocolate chips with the smallest tip I had. (As one of my friends said, "A kitty cookie eating a cookie... It's cookie inception!")


I thought they turned out super cute!

Here's one more of all the gang.

And one special cookie was going to be the cake topper - Pusheen eating a birthday cupcake!

Happy Birthday Isabelle, I hope you enjoyed your Pusheen cookies!

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!