Tuesday, October 27, 2009

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 :)



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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

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.
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Strawberry Shortcake



This is kind of a late post since I made it late September, right on the first official day of Fall I think. Luckily here in the beautiful California, the weather was still quite nice, warm days although the day is a lot shorter, but during the day it was still warm and sunny. I can still find my sweet strawberries at my favorite strawberry stall in farmers market, and I was really determined to make a shortcake. A cake that maybe more suitable made in the beginning of summer to welcome the warm weather, but there I was waiting until the summer officially ended to make this summer staple cake. It seems like I was in denial that summer was really gone and maybe I was hoping that I could bring summer back by making a strawberry shortcake? Silly me, of course it won't happen, but hey, you can't blame a girl for trying :)



It was only two layer cake, and I intentionally made the sponge layer to be a bit higher than usual as I'm afraid the end result won't be high enough, but it turned out really high, about 3" high. The cake was only 8" round, but it looks like it's a lot bigger than that with 3" height. For simple cake like this, I like the cake to be very soft, and so I used cotton cake as a base, filled with mascarpone cream that has been flavored with a good doze of Cointreau. I always try to use orange-flavored liqueur, be it Cointreau or Grand Marnier as I find that the combination is prefect. I arranged the strawberries vertically inside the cake so that it would look pretty when cut, and it was! Too bad I didn't have a camera when it was cut :(. Even though the end cake was huge, it doesn't stop anyone who ate it to be intimidated by it. In fact, it was gone pretty quickly even though the slices were pretty big. The overall cake was super light, sweet and slightly tart strawberry and a hint of orange liqueur in the background.

I had to make the same cake again the night after as my niece and nephew kept asking what happened to the cake I made the night before and that they really want it. So since I have another two layers of the same sponge cake, although smaller 6" in diameter, I made another one. This time I used heavy cream without mascarpone and Cointreau of course! The only thing different was that I added toasted almond slices on the side of the cake and sprinkled a little on top too. The whole 6" was gobbled up by both my nephew and niece, not in one sitting though, they had it for dessert for three days I think. I thought it was pretty good since they're still a kid, but they liked it so much! I didn't bother to take a picture of this second cake, I don't know why. Maybe it was because after I was done making it at 9pm or so, they had begged me to cut it :)



I forgot how simple dessert can be this good and I'm sure that I'll be making it every year when strawberry is at its peak. If it's strawberry season at your place, make sure that you put this cake on your list of things to make. Don't forget to use only sweet and fresh strawberry for this.
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