Sunday, May 21, 2017

camouflage inspired polka dot birthday cake

I usually make my husband some sort of camouflage inspired cake for his birthday, and last year was no exception! I had seen a fondant polka dot cake on Sweet and Saucy's instagram account, and I thought it would be so cute in camouflage colors, but with the polka dots done with frosting instead of fondant!

I baked up four 6-inch layers of fluffy chiffon cake, which I let cool while I prepared the filling. My husband is from Hawaii and has fond memories of eating freshly picked lychee from his grandmother's tree, so I decided to make him a cake with lychee filling. Unfortunately, fresh lychee is hard to find over here, so I had to use canned lychee, which I let drain over a strainer while I whipped up some fresh whipped cream. Then I chopped up the lychee into little pieces.

Once all the components were ready, I assembled the cake. I filled each layer of chiffon cake with freshly whipped cream, which I smoothed out with a spatula, then chopped lychee, and then more whipped cream on top before adding the next cake layer.

For the frosting, I whipped up a quick batch of cream cheese buttercream, and frosted the top and sides of the cake with it. (I typically frost my cakes with a quick crumb coat, let it set in the fridge for 30 minutes, and then frost it with a final coat, with I smooth out with an offset spatula).

Then it was time to pipe my polka dots! I divided the remaining frosting into four small bowls and colored them black, brown, dark green, and light green. Then I used disposable pastry bags fitted with medium round tips, and started randomly piping different colored blobs of polka dots.

While it started out looking really ugly, I kept piping polka dots and eventually I wound up with a kinda cute cake!

I still think I like the petaled camo cake the best though! ;)

Stay tuned to see how this year's cake will turn out!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

unicorn cookies

To go along with the unicorn cake in my last post, I also made unicorn cookies as favors for Melodie's 7th birthday! I had received this awesome unicorn cookie cutter from Cookie Cutter Kingdom a while back, and now was the perfect time to use it! (Thanks Cookie Cutter Kingdom!)

As always I made my favorite sugar cookie dough (recipe in my book, The Hello Kitty Baking Book!), rolled it out to 1/8 inch thick, cut out my shapes, and baked them at 350F until golden brown (about 10-12 minutes).

To decorate, I whipped up a batch of royal icing (recipe also in my book!) and used stiff white icing to pipe at outline around each cookie (using a disposable pastry bag fitted with a small round tip).

Then I filled them in with runny white icing and let them dry for several hours.

For the horn I used medium (in between runny and stiff) golden yellow icing, and a mix of Wilton violet and Americolor violet to color the medium icing for the mane and tail (the violet by Americolor was a little more on the blue side, so I had to mix in violet by Wilton to make it more purply).

I thought they were pretty cute, but needed something to jazz them up! So I used a little bit of royal icing to "glue" on a few edible gold stars onto each unicorn.

They added just the right amount of sparkle!

Hope you enjoyed your cookies, Miss Melodie! Happy birthday!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

unicorn birthday cake

My daughter Melodie LOVES unicorns. She is always drawing unicorns, has unicorn stuffed animals and toys, has unicorns on her backpack, and always says she wishes she could ride one. So for her 7th birthday this past December, I knew I had to make her a unicorn cake! (And this time it wouldn't just be piped on like last year's Toki Doki winter unicorn cake, or the pink Toki Doki funfetti unicorn cake the year before!)

I've been seeing this unicorn cake design all over Instagram and Pinterest lately (although I first saw it on Sweet & Saucy's instagram feed), and it's so cute I knew she would love it. So a few weeks before her birthday, I started making the fondant unicorn horn. I used white fondant, which I tinted with gold gel-based food coloring, and then I formed a long cone shape and used a toothpick to add the "unicorn horn" spiral details.

Then I let it dry on a curved plastic surface to keep the cone shape in place.

The night before her birthday, I started on the cake. I baked up two 8-inch vanilla cakes (recipe in my book, The Hello Kitty Baking Book!) and sliced them in half horizontally, giving me four cake layers. Then I filled each layer with freshly whipped cream and sliced pitted cherries.

Then I frosted the top and sides of the cake with cream cheese buttercream (recipe also in my book!), doing a quick crumb coat first, the chilling it for 30 minutes, and then doing a final coat smoothed out with an offset spatula. Then I let it chill overnight.

In the morning, I was ready to decorate!

Using black frosting in a disposable pastry bag and a small round tip, I piped smiling eyes, complete with long lashes.

Then I used gold luster dust mixed with clear vanilla extract to paint over the unicorn horn, giving it a shimmery look. (I forgot to mention that I also made unicorn ears!)

I placed the unicorn horn in the middle of the cake, and then piped a swirling rosette unicorn mane using a disposable pastry bag fitted with a large star tip (I filled one side of the pastry bag with pink frosting, and the other side with purple frosting, in order to get the half pink / half purple effect).

Then I added the unicorn ears, which had toothpicks inserted into them so that the ears would stay in place on the cake.

So cute! I loved the way it turned out!

I mean, what little girl wouldn't love a happy smiley unicorn cake?!

Happy birthday my Melodie! We love you!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

hello kitty dia de los muertos sugar skull cookies

Along with the Dia de los Muertos sugar skull cookies that I made for my friend Sara's food truck in my last post, I also made Hello Kitty ones as well!

Again I used my favorite sugar cookie recipe (in my book, The Hello Kitty Baking Book!), and rolled the dough out to 1/8 inch thick before cutting out my shapes (using this cookie cutter) and baking them at 350F for 10-12 minutes  (until golden brown). 

Once cooled, I used stiff royal icing (recipe also in my book!) that I tinted pink, and piped Hello Kitty's bow on each cookie. Then I used stiff white icing to outline the head, before filling both the bow and head in with runny icing.

I let the icing dry for several hours, and then used black icing to pipe the eyes and whiskers.

Then I piped the finishing details. I started with blue dots around the eyes, then gradually added flowers and dots and swirls in pink, orange, green, and blue. Finally, I finished by adding a yellow nose and a final pink outline around the bow.

Hello Kitty sugar skulls!

I thought they turned out rather cute! And it was so much fun to pipe the designs!

Happy Dia de los Muertos!

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!