Baileys Tiramisu

Having good friends is a wonderful thing and lately, there are so many things worth celebrating. A friend of mine and my sister in law (which happens to be in the same circle of friends) were pregnant and we're throwing them a get-together to celebrate it. Unfortunately, as much as I want to, I couldn't make a cake for them :( due to some reason. But I guess it was okay since there were so many food that night, good food that is.

Holiday season also means more celebrations. We had thanksgiving (for which I didn't cook or bake since I was away), Christmas for sure, and lots of birthdays! This time, it's John's turn, one of my good friends at work. I literally had a headache for two days trying to come up with a cake, preferably something I've never tried before and something I've been wanting to try, but not so overly complicated, and the most important thing is, it has to taste great!

I know him pretty well to know that he doesn't like chocolate, so chocolate cake is out of the list. He loves coffee and fruit-flavored cake. We're pretty much shared the same taste in food. I thought of making a light cake with yogurt mousse, white peach, strawberry mousse, along that line, but the weather wasn't really supporting at all. It has been really cold here in San Jose, dark, cloudy, and rain at times, typical winter weather. I dont think that yogurt mousse cake would be suitable for the weather. As much as I adore light and fruit stuff, with this kind of weather, all I was thinking was something with coffee, chocolate, banana, caramel, tea, citrus flavor. It's interesting to know how weather can affect your mood and your selection of food :).

It wasn't until Saturday evening that I decided that I'll just make tiramisu. You would probably know by now that I'm such a sucker for tiramisu, really. I don't know how many times I have declared my love for tiramisu in this blog, but I'm pretty sure you got the idea :). But don't get me wrong, I didn't decide this solely for this reason, but one thing for sure, if the guy loves anything other than his family and friends, it would be his booze (no worries, he's not an alcoholic though)! Plus, there will be no baking involved since I can just buy a store-bought lady finger (Savoiardi). I was thinking of making it a cake version with chocolate cake (he wouldn't mind), but the idea went away when I thought that I had to bake some :). I'll blame it on the weather for this as it makes me want to cozy up under my blanket the whole day, not doing anything. So tiramisu was perfect as it was quick, boozy, and who doesn't like tiramisu anyway? To make it different, I used Baileys Irish Cream instead of the usual rum. I've always wanted to try this, but ended up using rum everytime. I guess I was too scared :(.

I was also using this opportunity to try out my new baking tool, cake textured sheet. I just spent a lot buying some baking stuff online. While they definitely would add to my growing baking tools at home, I felt kinda bad for it :(. This one is one of the things I bought. Cake textured sheet is basically just like a textured sheet plastic. It comes in probably a little bigger than a half-sheet pan size, so I had to cut it to fit 8" square pan. I used my 8" square pan for this as my square cake ring is too short. The cake has to be completely frozen before you can peel the plastic off. I tried removing it after about 3 hours in the freezer, but some of the the cream stuck on it. I really like the look of it after I dusted cocoa powder on top and put some gold dragees. Ever since I used Valrhona cocoa powder and high quality chocolate (I use Valrhona, Callebout, or El Rey), I'm never going back to the standard grocery store chocolate and cocoa powder. Valrhona cocoa powder has deeper cocoa taste to it, it's rich in flavor. Tiramisu is definitely one of the more expensive cakes in my repertoire :D.

Fortunately, everybody liked the cake and the appearance of it (phew!). It's a little sweeter than the one I made with rum, I guess it's because Baileys is sweet and it's adding some sweetness to the overall cake. I'm glad that the cake wasn't too boozy as the last time I made tiramisu with rum, I went overboard with the rum and almost got everybody at work drunk :P. Overall, the tiramisu is equally good with Baileys, but if I have to choose, I think I like the rum version better :)

I made the leftover cream into this mini version with chocolate sponge drenched in the espresso/baileys mixture

Taking Red Velvet to A New Level: Red Velvet Cake with White Chocolate Cheesecake Filling and Mascarpone Frosting

When my friend Yanni called me the other day (more like a few weeks ago :P) and asked if I would be able to make a birthday cake for two of her bible study group friends, I couldn't say no (I don't think I'd ever could). She specifically asked for a red velvet cake, which was making me paused for a second there as I wouldn't expect her to pick that cake. Red Velvet Cake is a type of American cake and I was never a fan of a dense (although it's moist) cake, with loads of food coloring added, encased in painfully sweet cream cheese frosting. If you read my blog regularly, you would know that I'm all about soft, spongy and light cake that won't make you feel sick after eating it, but more like a palate cleanser. Nothing against American cakes though as I really think it can be good as long as it is not super sweet (blame my Asian heritage :D).

So I asked her if she would be okay if I put some twist on the cake, meaning that it won't be the traditional red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, but something lighter and hopefully better :). She gave me all the freedom to twist it all I want (thanks Yanny, you're the best!) since her bible study group is a dessert lover, they will gobble anything as long as it tastes good :).

As soon as she said ok, my mind started to work hard trying to come up with something good. I googled red velvet cake and see what other people had came up with. While most of them made it with the traditional cream cheese frosting, I found one or two people that were trying to replicate "Stefanie's Ultimate Red Velvet Cheesecake" from Cheesecake Factory. I have never had it before but the idea sounds really intriguing. Imagine a cheesecake layer sandwiched in the middle of two moist red velvet cake. So I took the idea and tried to come up with my own twist, but still not taking all of the traditional elements of red velvet cake. I wanted to incorporate white chocolate, cream cheese, mascarpone, and heavy cream instead of butter for the frosting, but it sounds like there's a lot going on in one cake. But I made it anyway :D and finally came up with red velvet cake with white chocolate cheesecake filling in the middle and frosted with a combination of cream cheese and mascarpone frosting lightened with whipped cream.

This would be the second time I'm making red velvet cake and after a few days of research of the history and quite a few different recipes, I decided to recreate "Cakeman Raven" RVC recipe. I actually watched the episode where I think it was a throwdown and he won. I made the RVC the first time using the same recipe actually, but it wasn't what I expected since it turned out to be a salty RVC. Yes, I totally forgot to put the sugar in :P and everything ended up in a trash. But from what I have remembered, the textured was actually pretty good, not too dense and moist. I baked the white chocolate cheesecake first and after cooling in the fridge overnight, I transferred it to the freezer so that it would be easier to unmold (I used regular cake pan to bake the cheesecake in).

Since it was pretty cold lately, the frosting firmed up quickly. The cream cheese won't soften as much as during summer time and even after I microwaved it and beat it for a few minutes, it was still cold and it makes it harder for me to fold the whipped cream in. The end textured looked like a firm cream cheese frosting which makes it easier to frost as it's not runny. I thought I would need a cake ring to hold it in place until the frosting firmed up in the fridge overnight, but no need. I covered the sides with white chocolate shavings and topped it with white chocolate curls. It's my first time that I was successful in making white chocolate curls (thanks to winter weather :D). I used my marble board to do it although you can also use the back of a sheet pan. I didn't even have to refrigerate it, I just let it sit at room temperature (which as about 60-63F in my kitchen that morning) until I felt it was the right texture. It needs some trial and error for you to determine the right consistency or temperature of the chocolate to be curled up. I can't wait to do this with dark chocolate when I'm making something chocolaty.

I added red maraschino cherry to add some color to it. The idea was to make it christmas-themed. The white chocolate was supposed to represent the snow, and the red cherry was just a christmas color and to make the whole thing popped. I don't know if I executed correctly though :). I really don't know what the inside looked like as I forgot to ask Yanni to take a picture of it. But I have some red velvet cake left and some cheesecake filling that are now sitting peacefully in the fridge. I'm just waiting for the right time to make it :).

Espresso and Chocolate Mousse Cake with Cheesecake Filling

This was a week before Thanksgiving a few weeks ago that I received an email asking if I would be willing to make a cake for birthday party. Long story short, what I thought to be "a cake" turned out to be "a couple of individual cakes". They wanted 8 individual cakes with espresso and cheesecake flavors in one cake. I had to think really hard for a combination of the two that would actually work and how to incorporate it together and I finally suggested this cake, espresso and chocolate mousse cake with cheesecake filling and they agreed.

Little did I know that I would be really busy at work before Thanksgiving holiday, and I was gone the whole 3 days of the holiday for a retreat. The cakes were for Sunday afternoon and I came back home on Saturday afternoon. You would think that I would have plenty of time to make everything, and I thought so too, but flu came without notice. It was probably because I was out in the cold and slight raining for about two hours on the day before and my roommate was sick too, not a good combination I tell ya :). I did took a nap for a few hours after I got back home, but it didn't help much. It wasn't a fever, it was a sore throat, congested nose, headache, and ache all over my body (we had days packed of activities in the retreat), but don't worry, none of the virus was transferred to the cake in the making and I was really making sure of that :).

Fortunately, I already made the chocolate cake base and the cheesecake filling before I left and wrapped them really well in the freezer. It would make it easier for the cheesecake to be inserted in the cake as well. The sponge base was moistened with brandy mixture. I wasn't going to put the chocolate fence around the cake because I wanted the cake to show the different layer of chocolate mousse and espresso mousse, you can't really see the cheesecake filling since I put it in the middle of the mousse, smaller in diameter. But as wish would have it, there are some air bubbles showing and making it not perfectly smooth. So, the chocolate fence was a last minute decision. It wasn't what I envisioned it to be but I guess it was ok.

I was just glad that I could finish the cake in time and maybe I was also glad that it was for Sunday and not Monday because I could hardly stand that day. I'm so glad to hear that they all loved the cake afterwards. In the end, that's just all I wanted to hear :). Happy belated Thanksgiving!

Blueberry and Cheese Mousse Cake

I hope I haven't bored you with cakes by now as I still have a couple of other cakes on my archive to be posted. I know I should have posted it as soon as I made it as it's still fresh in my mind, but most of the time, it's very difficult to do.

Anyways, onto the cake now.
It was my good coworker friends, Tony's and May's birthday a few weeks ago. It was actually two weeks apart but due to time limitation, I combined the cake on the second birthday. I feel grateful to have such good friends at work. They're not just coworkers to me, in fact, I don't work often with some of them at work, but they are my good friends and I won't take it if they order a birthday cake from somewhere else :D. Well, with exception of course, but I do want to bake their birthday cakes if I can and I'll try to. We don't usually see each other at work, other than lunch time, but it was the time where we "bond" I think, that includes joking, story-telling, even arguing. We are completely different individuals but for some reason we became good friends and I'm thankful for that.

It was one of busy weeks and I had to come up with something quick and doesn't need a long time to make but still tastes good, a new cake I've never tried before is preferred :). But one thing leads to another and I decided to make this cake. I always love the combination of cream cheese and blueberry. I made the combination a few times before but I wanted to make something different with these two flavors, in terms of texture.

So here's what I came up with. I made blueberry compote with lemon juice, zest, sugar, and gelatin. The blueberries I had was very sweet and didn't need much sugar, it was very fragrant as well. Next, I made cheese mousse, which was based on pate a bomb. I usually made a quick cheese mousse with just cream cheese, sugar, gelatin, and cream, but I wanted to try something different and see if I can notice the difference. I think mousse made with pate a bomb base has better texture, although it is definitely more time consuming to make, involving boiled sugar syrup. I had some difficulties when I made this cake. Other than that I burnt my hands twice, it was cold in my kitchen that night and after beating the cheese until soft, I let it sit at room temperature for a while, about two hours because I needed to do something else. When I was about to fold the cream with the cheese, the cheese was cold and was harder to mix with the whipped cream. You can see little bits and pieces of solid cream cheese in the picture. Oh, and I forgot to put the gelatin in!!! First time I've done this. It was late already and I couldn't wait to rush to bed, but fortunately, the mousse held up well. The base was two layers of cotton sponge cake which I always use with blueberry and cheese combination.

The farmers' market was out of blueberries the day before when I was looking for it to decorate my cake with and I only had a handful of frozen blueberries left in my freezer. I thought hard of how to make it look nice, but it was one of those days when you really can't think of anything, you just run out of ideas. As you can see, the decoration is very poor and I'm not happy at all. Even the chocolate on the side had problems. Originally, I was about to do woodgrain pattern on the white chocolate sheet, but the dark chocolate set up too quickly (again, it was cold and this time was early in the morning) that it clogged the woodgrain pattern tool. So I scrapped everything off and started everything again and did a plain white chocolate sheet. I wrapped it in ribbon to make it more "colorful", and not too plain and boring.

There was another friend that has ordered a guava cake from a bakery. I couldn't actually make it to the celebration as I has my weekly meeting that day but I made it clear to them to save me a piece (a big one) of the guava cake as I was SUPER eager to try it. Sure enough when I came back to my cube, there was a HUGE piece of hot pink-colored cake waiting in my desk. From what I heard, my cake was gone so quickly and everybody loved it as it was really light and not too sweet at all. Phew... I was relieved, and I actually ate a little spoonful of it from my friend's plate. I definitely need to work on my cake decorating skill, but as long as my friends like it, that's all that matters the most right? Happy Birthday dear Tony and May!

Gift Box Cake

This one is another cake I made for a friend's birthday. It was actually requested by the wife for her husband. The birthday was on weekday so I had to pull an all-nighter and early bird to complete this cake. It might look simple to you, but fondant cake is never simple to me. If you're here in my kitchen, you would see that all tools are out and the table is full of fondant stuff and covered in white powdered sugar.

She wanted a gift box cake, which I thought was pretty simple, round with simple bow on top. I always thought that gift box cake is a really boring cake. It is simple but it's boring. It's just my thought, so I decided that I'd make it not too standard at least. Knowing that I didn't have much time to spare (I don't usually do fondant cakes on weekdays for a reason :D), I had to manage my time wisely and decide what did I need to make at night, or in the morning, making sure that I gave enough time for the bow to dry out and everything.

I was always curious of those gift box cake that has "lid" on top of them. I don't know how they can make it so perfect, perfect cut and finish, and perfectly straight. This is something about fondant, you have to make it perfect for the expected look or it won't like nice. I gathered my strength and decided to make one of those even though I knew exactly nothing about how to do it. I also wanted to do a diamond pattern in the middle because I felt like I needed to practice this as well. The one I did before for a wedding cake wasn't really satisfactory to me, so I wanted to learn more. I used a diamond cutter before to embose the fondant but this time I used a stitcher (I don't know what the exact name) with a roller to make the pattern. But I made it too big and I couldn't re-do it since the fondant was already applied on the cake. Oh, and for some reason that night, I had to roll and re-roll the fondant for four times!!! It wasn't enough the first time, and for a couple of times after that, the bottom sticks and torn up. I don't think I had energy left to finish the cake but I did fortunately.

I made two kinds of bow actually, the regular ribbon bow and this kind of bow but I felt like the ribbon kind is way too girly (and this is for a guy) so I decided to use this instead. I didn't make enough loops so I can only do a layer of it, and not a full loop ribbon (if you know what I mean), but I guess it turned out okay. It was simple and nice I think. The inside was Indonesian cheese layer cake that seems to be a favorite among my Indonesian friends :). I hope the cake adds up a little more joy to the birthday celebration. It's always a joy and a blessing to be a part of something special even if it's just through a cake :)

Guava and White Chocolate Mousse Cake

This cake was actually made short after the previous cake for another good friend of mine, Hengky. Their birthday is only three days apart and every year, we always combine the celebration including the cake. So we usually pick the day in the middle of the two birthdays od pick one of them, depending which one falls on weekend. They were always okay with it (I think, it's not like they have a say in this :D), but this year, they clearly said that they wanted a separate birthday a few weeks prior to their birthday. So, that means two cakes, two celebrations, two everything, sigh..\. One of the reasons that I got from them is that they wanted two cakes, they don't want a combined cake (talk about spoiled again :P). H like cheesecake in particular, while A likes pretty much everything.

This one was no different than the previous one, I mean he literally said that I need to be creative and surprise him with something that he didn't expect. I thought he was going to say that he wanted cheesecake for sure because he's been talking about it for several times already. So I wasn't really worried since cheesecake is easy, but after he said that I should be creative, my brain started to work hard. When someone gives me that opportunity to be creative, I'll think of something that I've never tried before, but this time, I chose something that I've already made previously, twice!

Remember the two guava cakes I made before, here and here? If you read those posts before, you would know that I wasn't satisfied with the result. I mean the cake tasted great, it's just that I barely tasted the guava flavor. I used guava extract for the first one (which tasted like candy), and guava juice concentrate for the second one (this one has a bright pink color but nothing taste like guava). I think I mentioned this before, but I brought back some pink guava puree from Indonesia that I pureed myself. The color was so vibrant and sweet, and strong and I was saving it for special occasion. Well, I think it's time for me to use it. Things didn't go as well as I thought, mainly because of the grainy texture of guava puree. If you've had guava before, you would understand the "grainy texture" that I'm talking about. I didn't notice it when I pureed it back then but when I thawed the puree, the juice actually separate from the pulp and I ended up using the pulp only. You can see from the picture above the grainy bits in the mousse. This is not what I had imagined. I imagined a soft pink mousse that smooth and creamy and light. The texture was really bothering me, and I mean REALLY bothering me the whole night and the whole day after, but there's nothing I can do about it. All I could do was just wished that the taste is fine. Oh by the way, the inside is a base of joconde with white chocolate mousse in the bottom layer, then goes the second joconde with smaller size 6" (I had this in my freezer :D), and on top of it is thin guava jelly, and guava mousse on top of that. The top surface was glaze with clear glaze.

I brought it to another friend's house, where the dinner was held and gave it to someone to put in the fridge. When the dinner was over, I was looking for the cake because it hasn't even decorated yet, the cake ring was still intact (yes, I was that busy) and I was gonna finish everything off before the cake cutting. I couldn't find the cake in the fridge and to my surprise, they put it in a room temperature under a hot lamp for about one hour!!! I almost passed out. I knew that the white chocolate mousse needed more gelatin and that it's not firm enough, let alone letting it sit under hot lamp for an hour??? Luckily the cake ring is still there and so there's something that hold it in place. After giving a short "speech" to some people not to let a mousse cake sitting at room temperature, I began decorating it. As expected, the mousse was really soft even after I put it in the fridge for ten minutes. I know it won't help, but that's the longest time I can put it in there since everybody was waiting.

The cake was still super soft when cut, and thus making it look ugly. I couldn't stand watching it butchered but I'm still glad that everybody liked it, except one person that's skeptical about anything irregular (he didn't even taste it). Oh well, his loss as the cake was well-received by everyone. Well, we come from the same tropical country and I know for sure that we do love this exotic fruit. I still have some puree left that I planned to make guava chiffon cake with it sometime. But I'm still curious about the texture though. I'm going to order those pink guava puree online and see it they have the same texture. Only then I can rest assured that my guava puree was normal :). Anyways, Happy Birthday Hengky!

ps: Sorry for the bad picture quality. It was really difficult to get a good shot at night

Caramel Mousse Cake with Flambeed Bananas and Creme Brulee Filling

Early November is always a busy time for me as so many birthdays are happening in the first two weeks of November. We have quite a few people among our group of friends, and when you have about 15 of them or so, you will need to make lots of birthday cakes! Sometimes I wonder if it's a mistake giving your friends so many cakes to try. At first, I thought that I had the advantages because I'd have "victims" for all of my experiment cakes, but maybe it is not always true. You see, when you spoiled them with many cakes, their taste buds started to grow and become more picky. They know what they like and what they don't and that's when you know that they're really spoiled.

It was Aldo's birthday this time, it was on November 6th. Having eaten so many of my cakes, this guy knows enough to know that I really like to use strawberries and raspberries and its friends, especially during summer. You can really tell by the amount of pink cakes I have on summer. You won't see any chocolate or caramel or winter flavor at all when summer is here. So I guess he got a little tired of it and requested that his birthday cake must be different. He allowed me to experiment but not with fruits again, the exact words that he said was "surprise me". Oy! But okay, I guess it's an opportunity for me to get a headstart on fall flavors. To be honest, even though I have the advantage of finding berries pretty easily at this time of the year in California, I got pretty tired of it too. I'm ready for something different and for some reason, I always thought that caramel is the perfect flavor for fall.

I made caramel mousse once before but the caramel flavor wasn't too pronounced, although overall, the cake turned out great. I wanted more this time so I began to think of what other flavors go great with caramel. I immediately thought of banana, and creme brulee too. Since I couldn't decide which one goes better, I decided to use all three flavors in the same cake, brilliant! The hardest part is that I didn't have any solid recipe that I have tried before. So since Aldo was kindly "allowing" me to experiment, I thought hey, it's your own fault if it doesn't turn out great, right? :D

But anyways, I started with a base of chocolate sponge (thank God for leftover sponge which makes my life a lot easier). I moistened the cake with brandy and topped it with caramelized and flambeed bananas. A thin layer of caramel mousse goes on top of it, then I put vanilla bean creme brulee that I have frozen beforehand on top of the mousse. More mousse layer on top, apply the cocoa brush, and a layer of clear glaze. I felt that there wasn't enough mousse because the end result was not as high as I expected, but it turned out ok afterall. I used to associate caramel with sickly sweet, sticky stuff that makes your teeth screaming when you bite into it, but it was nothing like it. It is nowhere near "too sweet", I added salt since I didn't have salted butter (salted butter goes great with caramel), not because it was too sweet but just to balance the flavor.

In the end, I was pleased with the result. Although the decoration is super simple (I didn't want to overcrowd it with lots of stuff on top), I think it looked okay. I was so glad that it was a hit with everyone. I don't normally like to eat banana by itself, but you really can't go wrong with banana cake or dessert, especially when it's paired up with caramel and creme brulee! I have the picture of the inside this time. Happy Birthday Aldo!

Mocha Chiffon Cake

This one will be a short post.

Kiki emailed me on Wenesday/Thursday two weeks ago if I would have time to make a birthday cake for Karen, one of our friends at church. The birthday was actually a month ago, but we're so bad that we forgot about it :(. So Kiki and friends were planning on having a belated birthday lunch on Sunday, well, it's better late than never right? :D

Karen likes anything mocha, and she loves mocha chiffon cake. I was originally going to make another type of mocha cake since it's for a birthday (besides, she already had a plain mocha chiffon cake for her birthday too last year), but the term "mocha cake" is so general. We decided last minute that we'll just go ahead with mocha chiffon cake due to time limitation. I love making chiffon as it is very easy and the result is always satisfying, not to mention very very light. This time, I made it into mocha-rum chiffon cake and frost it with rum buttercream. A little dusting of cocoa powder and pirouette cookies, and it's done. It's very very simple in my opinion, but I hope everybody enjoyed it :).

I made extra batter so that I can use this mini chiffon pan that I bought a while ago. They're personal size, about 4" in diameter, aren't they cute? :D. I have not been doing a good job in posting new cakes lately. It's not that I don't make as much cakes because I do. But some of them were just plain pandan chiffon cakes and Indonesian cheese cake that I'm sure you all are bored with already. I didn't even take any picture of them because I made them so often. But I will be posting quite a few cakes in the next few days as I have them waiting to be posted already :)

A Lovely Bridal Shower for Kathy

It seems like everybody around me is getting married now and I feel so happy for them!
This bridal shower happened almost three weeks ago (yeah, I know it was a long time ago and pardon me for my lack of post lately :( ). It was a week after Yossi's bridal shower, but I didn't need to make a dessert table for it, and also it was on Sunday which made it a lot better because that means that I have the whole Saturday (or almost) to work on it, yay! This cake was pretty straight forward and not as stressful as the dessert table (don't get me wrong, I totally enjoyed making it) since Kathy, the bride-to-be, has decided from the very beginning what kind of cake she wanted, which is Indonesian cheese cake with vanilla and pandan sponge alternating between layers. It's the same cake that I made for her sister, Vicky's wedding cake a while ago. Deciding what type of cake has always been the hardest part for me, so I was so relieved that she knew what she wanted, and an easy one at that too!

Decoration is the second hardest thing after the type of cake itself, but this time, it wasn't as difficult. There was no theme or anything, the invitation mentioned to wear something pretty a.k.a dress, colorful one if possible to match Kathy's cheerful personality. I immediately thought of pink and brown cake. I have been wanting to make a cake with these two color combo for the longest time. I had seen a lot of cake with these two colors and I totally fall in love with it, but so far, I had never get any opportunity or the perfect occasion for it. The color is modern, but still has femininity and girlishness to it. It also gives a cheerful and playful feeling, which I think totally matches Kathy's personality (she LOVES Disney too :D). So the cake and the color are set, next, I need to come up with the design.

After a few days of trying to find inspiration here and there, I decided to make something similar to this . This site has been my inspiration and it has a lot of gorgeous designs that I can only dreamt of making. Everything in their side is perfection. They have a pink and brown cake design that I really like. It is simple, clean, and yet so elegant. I have seen similar cake out there with similar design as well. Since Kathy's cake would be 9" and 6" tiered cake only (instead of 4-tiered cake), I need to think how to incorporate the color and the design without making it looking too busy or too plain, and here's what I came up with.

It was my first time using chocolate fondant (it is chocolate-flavored fondant and not just brown-colored fondant). I want to thank Hany SO MUCH for giving me this chocolate fondant for this cake. She even gave me more thatn what I needed! I couldn't imagine how many bottles of coloring I will need if I were to color it myself and it wouldn't be as good either. I would imagine the texture will be too soft due to the amount of the coloring. She has been a HUGE help in helping me out with almond powder (for Yossi's shower) and this chocolate fondant, not to mention the other tips she has. I learned that it's a bit harder to work with dark-colored fondant because the white from confectioners' sugar that doesn't dissolve, will really show in the finished products, making it look dirty. It is not so much of a problem before because I always used pastel color and it wasn't so obvious. I wish I could make the ribbon a lot thinner and a lot more neat, but overall, I think it's acceptable :). I brushed the ribbon with pink pearl dust to give it that shiny look, but I guess it wasn't really showing no matter how much dust I applied. oh well....

I also made a strawberry panna cotta dessert for this shower. It is the same idea as the mango panna cotta for Yossi's shower, but made with strawberries (the idea came from Cannelle-vanille). I was thinking that a light fruity dessert would fit really well since there will be other desserts that were more filling. This time, I didn't use that wine glasses to assemble my dessert (I have learned my lesson) and instead uses this mini 5.5oz tumblers. This is the smallest size I could find, even though I opted for something smaller, maybe 4 oz, but no luck. I was just glad the I found these because I didn't when I was looking for it for Yossi's shower.

It turned out that the cake and the dessert fitted really well with the decoration. There were red roses in a bucket, pink tablecloth, red plates and napkins, even the drink is pink! So the cake and the dessert have the perfect color to match! There were some Indonesian savory snacks too made by Yeye that were really yummy and everything was really sweet and nice. We only cut the bottom 9" tier for the guest to enjoy after the event, and Kathy took home the top 6" tier ( she later informed me that she and Vicky, her sister, finished the cake in one day!!).

In the end, I was so glad that everything was going great and congratulations again to Richard and Kathy! Wish you both all the happiness and great life together.

A Bridal Shower and A Dessert Table

I had the honor to make a dessert table for my dear friend, Yossi's bridal shower last week. She lives in TX with her fiancee currently, but they're going to move to Indonesia for good at the end of the year and have their wedding there. So when Yossi asked me if I would make a dessert table for her bridal shower that was going to be held here in San Jose, I was ecstatic! I was so excited and my head was soon filled up with thousands of ideas. I love making cute petite desserts in small glasses or petite everything, but I don't have many opportunity to do it.

Time went by pretty fast and before I knew it, it was a month away before the shower. I hadn't planned anything at all and work suddenly got really busy, my weeknights and weekends were full of events and full of cakes. I started writing down some ideas, and it took me two weeks to finalize it, but things changed so easily even the day before the shower. It wasn't until two weeks before that I really felt that I need to force myself to focus on this, writing down a timetable on a spreadsheet, cost, things to do, things to buy, where, when, etc. I started to freak out because I knew exactly that I wouldn't be able to do it by myself considering my work schedule at that time. Luckily, I'm surrounded by wonderful friends who are happily lending their hands, or thoughts, or moral support for everything. Without them, I wouldn't be able to finish this.

So the shower was for 50 people and I was planning to make quite a few types of dessert with different flavors. I tried to avoid making tea cakes or any sort of "heavy" cakes, and tried to keep everything light since there are so many types. I counted everything and tried to make every type at least 50 pcs, so that each person can get a taste of everything. In the end, I ended up making 8 different desserts, 1 big cake, and 2 savory (ready-made and bought). I was really afraid that there wouldn't be enough variations, or not enough amount, so i kept adding things to it. Initially, I was going to make a tiered cake as a centerpiece of the dessert table, but I changed my mind last minute, a few days before that I was just going to make one simple cake, not tiered due to time constraint and there will be plenty of desserts and tiered cake would be too much.

Tiramisu and Mango Panna Cotta Verrines

Mini Lemon Tart and Fruit Skewer

Indonesian Cheese Cake and Ispahan Verrine

So there I was, set with the menu, but it wasn't all smooth sailing all the way, nu-uh. From half of my macarons cracked and I had to changed the menu because I won't have enough time, and my trusty Kitchen Aid mixer died on me (this is really an interesting story), and to an online website that I was planning to order things from, suddenly decided that they will go to vacation. Everything that could go wrong went wrong (well, not quite everything perhaps). Some of the menu I was planning includes verrine, which is just dessert in a glass. I was set on my online research of where i can get the petite dessert glasses from, but the day I was going to order, they went on vacation starting that day and won't be back 10 days after. I almost shot myself at that time, didn't know what to do or where else I can get similar glasses with such a limited time. I think I couldn't go to sleep peacefully that night :). So I spent half a day driving around trying to find the smallest cups there is, but unfortunately, the smallest one I could find was still twice as big as the one I wanted originally. I bought it anyway because I had no other choice.

To make the story shorter, I was able to pull it off with the help of amazing friends who were willingly stayed up late on weeknights to help me with the desserts, printing out the menu, etc. I had such an amazing team, we started at 9pm on Thursday and continued for 3 hrs. On Friday, we started at 8pm until about 2:30am, it was super early morning for me everyday that week. I particularly want to thank Hany for all the help she gave me. She was such a HUGE help and was so kindly lending me most of the dessert plates and containers she has. She was also there for advice and support and not to mention that she offered her help many times even though we live oh so far away. Good thing I had quite a few people helping me so that I didn't have to drag Hany down here :). So the final menu of the dessert table includes three different kinds of verrine, tiramisu, ispahan (lychee-raspberry-rose), and mango panna cotta verrine. I also made some mini cream puff with vanilla bean creme diplomat filling, fruit skewer, blueberry mascarpone cheesecake, indonesian cheese cake (nana's last-minute request :)), and mini lemon tart. The big cake was raspberry and white chocolate cake, decorated simply with white chocolate and white roses. We also had some egg rolls from our favorite place and pineapple and teriyaki meatballs.

There are SO MUCH things I could learn from it and what I would do differently if there's a next time. Time management is really important, and also try to keep everything small in size (the wine glasses that I used were definitely way too big and not meant for desserts), variety in flavor and texture is important too, and don't try to make everything perfect because there will be some flaws and if you can't live with it, you'll just stress yourself out. I probably overestimated everything, I was so scared that we wouldn't have enough for everybody that I made more than what was needed.

It was the first time in such a long time that I had so little sleep. I guess I wouldn't be able to sleep well anyway knowing that there are so many things needed to be done and so little time. With the adrenaline pumping, I could stand for hours and multi-tasking all the time. It wasn't until the shower is done and I sat down on a sofa that I felt my body screaming for rest. I really hope that I could do a better job for Yossi's shower, I wish I could do this differently, make that a little more neat, etc. But I did my best and I hope that it's enough for her. Despite all of the craziness happened during the preparation, without a doubt, I would happily do it again :)

My Niece's 4th Birthday, Tinkerbell Cake and Cupcakes!

It was my niece's 4th birthday on October 9th, Krisalyn Satriya (Krisalyn means beautiful bearer of Christ), we were celebrating it just with family and close friends by having dinner together at the house. My niece is just like any other girl who loves anything princess, very girly, loves dresses, stuffed animals and barbie, etc. I made her a barbie cake and a castle cake the years before and after doing some thinking of what cake I want to make for her, I decided on Tinkerbell cake. I don't know where the idea came from, I was browsing around and I had the idea of making a fairy cake at first. But knowing that I won't be able to make a pretty fairy figurine (unless she wants a fairy that looks like a tiger), I decided to just make a tinkerbell cake. I didn't make the tinkerbell of course, it's a candle. I think this is perfect since I was really pressed with time as usual.

I wanted to make just a simple cake, nothing over-the-top since it was only with family and close friends. Besides, my niece would be ecstatic with anything that has a little of tinkerbell or flowers :). I know I wanted the cake to be pink fondant, although the end result was more pink that the one in my head, but it's all good as long as it's not hot pink color :D. I love the little mushrooms personally, although it's very easy to make, I feel a little proud of myself considering that I don't usually have the patience to make this kind of thing. At least they look like mushrooms in the end :).

The inside is raspberry jelly and white choc. and cream cheese ganache that I have made a few times already. This is the first time I made a cream-based cake with fondant. I was a little nervous at first, but it turned out to be fine!!! I frost the whole cake with thin buttercream so that the cream won't touch the fondant. The fondant didn't even sweat for a bit when I refrigerated this. Now that I know I can make cream-based cake with fondant, the possibility is endless as long as refrigeration is not a problem, yay! Thanks to Hany too who gave me the confirmation that I can make cream-based cake with fondant. She makes strawberry shortcake covered in fondant all the time, yum!

The main reason why I chose this cake other than that I wanted to see if I can make cream cake with fondant, is that I also have to please my fruit-lover family. I think I mentioned this before but my family loves everything light and fruity, especially my picky brother, so buttercream is out of the question, but I was so glad that they all loved it. I didn't actually eat the cake at all since I made it so often but even my brother had a few slices! As long as you don't eat the fondant, it's all good :). I love fondant for it's appearance, but it still can't get me hooked on its taste and it's sweetness just yet :D.

My niece couldn't stop starring at the cake the whole night. We took a lot of pictures of her, but it seems like she can't get her eyes off of the cake. After we finally done with the picture taking, she was so glad that she can finally cut the cake, the moment she had been waiting for so long. Happy birthday my beloved niece!

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Oh I almost forgot that I made cupcakes too for her to bring to her Sunday School class the morning after. I don't normally make cupcakes, nor do I like making and decorating each one of it, it's not my repertoire :P. But I made it anyway for some reason the night after the celebration. I was REALLY tired and luckily, my other sis-in-law (not my niece's mom) was ready to help me. The cupcake base was ready already, we "just" need to decorate it. Finally we finished every one of them with just a simple decoration, it's faaaarrr.... from perfect but it's for kids. So as long as they see some sparkles, butterflies, flowers, I think they're pretty happy :). I chose fondant decor so that it won't be messy and I know that parents don't usually like seeing their kids eating a mountain of frosting on the cupcakes. This has very little buttercream just to glue the fondant on the cake, and I filled the cupcake with the same white choc. cream cheese ganache from the cake leftover filling.