Triple- Layer Ice Cream Cake

I know I have been posting lots of ice cream posts lately, but exactly a week after my nephew's, Toby, turned one, it was his brother's turn, Nathaniel (although we call him by his Chinese name). It is definitely one of the busiest weeks full of family's birthday, two more was coming just a little over a week after that. His birthday was actually a month ago and yes it took me this long to post it.
Children are usually sold on the cake based on the decoration, they need to be colorful, cute, or has a theme according to the child's liking, but not for this nephew. While he definitely would appreciate well-done decorated cake, he would care more about how it tastes. Yup, he's definitely a foodie, he's been trained well :D.

When I asked him what he would like for his birthday, without thinking, he replied "ice cream cake!" "Why?", I asked. "I love ice cream and I want pineapple!". Well, he surely knows what he wants and good for me too as I don't have to think so hard on the cake :). Pineapple is his absolute favorite flavor of anything, even when it is made with pineapple flavoring, he still loves it. Since the sound of pineapple ice cream cake sounds a bit boring to me, I proposed to him to make a three-layer ice cream cake instead and he agreed as long as there's pineapple flavor in it :). He picked blueberry for the next layer and anything up to me for the third one, easy peasy.

Making ice cream is easy, but it is very time consuming, mostly on the waiting for the ice cream bowl to be frozen. I need to freeze the bowl for 24hrs before using it for the next batch so that it's completely frozen. I bought the pineapple a few days earlier to let the fruit to fully ripen before making it into a delicious sorbet. The birthday dinner was supposed to be on Saturday night, but when making the last batch of ice cream, I ran out of time and just use the ice cream bowl only after 12 hours freezing it. I guess it wasn't so good of an idea because the bowl was not frozen enough, causing the ice cream batter to never thicken. So I had to start all over again, and freeze the bowl for another day, the dinner had to be postponed to the following Sunday.

This cake has a layer of vanilla sponge cake as a base, blueberry ice cream, pineapple sorbet, and black raspberry vanilla ice cream. The last layer sounds fancy, but it wasn't really. I had a tub of vanilla ice cream ready in the freezer and since I ran out of time, I decided to melt it and re-churn it, then swirl the black raspberry jam into it. It didn't turn quite like a swirl, instead it's just mixed all together, oh well.

I learn some things while making this cake. To be honest, I've never pureed fresh blueberries before and when I did that and strained it, the puree becomes like a jello with unappetizing color. I didn't know what went wrong as I was expecting a bright purple hue, but what I got was far from that, so I froze it expecting that the texture and the color will get better. After a few days, I strained it again and it wasn't much difference than before freezing, but I only used the purple liquid coming out. I bought a bag of frozen blueberries after that and cooked it with a little sugar and lemon juice before pureeing it all together. The color was much much better, it was actually what I was looking for! the texture wasn't jello-y anymore. So, no more pureeing fresh blueberries for me in the future. Same thing happened with black cherry a few months ago though but that's different story :). Oh well, you learn something new everyday and I'm glad I learned this.

Since I've always have difficulty decorating ice cream cake, chocolate is always the best option and that's what I used. The original idea was to wrap the whole thing in white chocolate while forming some sort of "flower" in the middle. It looked pretty in my head, but of course it's different in reality. I used parchment paper to wrap the whole thing and I wish I had an extra hand or two to help me do it, since the parchment paper is pretty flimsy. The resulting finish looked like it has "plastic bag" look to it. I filled the middle with raspberries for the color to pop and dust some powdered sugar.

The cake certainly doesn't look like a child's birthday, it looked like an adult cake instead of children cake, but this nephew is a bit different anyway. He might turn eight this year but he's a lot more mature than his age. I can talk to him seriously as if he's an adult, I can ask his opinion, I can ask him to accompany me. He LOVES reading and math is his hobby, yeah go figure. Of course he's still a kid too at heart, he can be a pain sometimes, but he's a good kid. The parents (a.k.a my brother and his wife) let him pick which restaurant he wanted to go. We weren't going all out, it was just a simple family dinner with my other brother's family. And guess what he picked? He picked Texas Roadhouse steakhouse! I'm not complaining with his decision though, in fact I'm very pleased, hehehe.....

We cut the cake near midnight on Sunday after we came back from the restaurant. We were so full, there wasn't any desire to eat a cake but for some reason, everyone had a slice. I guess ice cream cake is not so filling or rich afterall, it was like a palate cleanser or some sort. I take it that my nephew loves his cake so much (and the other family member) as the cake disappears the next night and there weren't many of us in the house. We don't usually finish a cake in a short period of time, heck we barely have an appetite for cake when we finished dinner at 10pm and that happens quite frequently. So, Happy 8th Birthday my beloved nephew!

Pineapple Sorbet
adapted from Grand Livre de Cuisine by Alain Ducasse's Desserts and Pastries

1000 g pineapple pulp
240 ml water
240 g sugar
30 g atomized glucose
6 g (1 1/2 tsp.) sorbet stabilizer
  • Cook water, sugar, stabilizer, and glucose to make a sugar syrup. Let cool.
  • Stir in pineapple pulp
  • Cool to 39 F (4C), let sit and process in the ice cream maker
  • My pineapple was really sweet so I don't really need much sugar, adjust the sweetness to your liking.
Blueberry Ice Cream

250 ml heavy cream
125 ml whole milk
75 g sugar (see note)
3 egg yolks
350 g blueberry puree (cook the blueberry slightly with lemon juice and some sugar if the blueberries are not sweet)
  • Combine the cream, milk and sugar in a saucepan and bring it to a gentle boil
  • Meanwhile, break the egg yolks and whisk it until it blends well
  • Temper the egg yolk and the milk mixture, and put it back in the saucepan.
  • Bring the mixture to 84C over low-medium heat, stirring all the time
  • Remove it from the heat and strain it to avoid any lumps
  • Cool it until it reaches room temperature
  • Add the blueberry puree, mix well. You can use more or less puree, suit your taste.
  • Refrigerate overnight, and process in an ice cream maker
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
I'll post it on another post since I'm planning to make another simple dessert using this ice cream :)

Mascarpone Ice Cream Two Ways: Peach and Raspberry Swirl

I don't realize how I have abandoned this blog for two weeks! so much for wanting to update more, but I have good reason this time other than the usual excuse I gave, which is bake, work, and more bake. My friend found a really good deal to Hawaii last week, but we had to go in like two days after. We found the deal on Tuesday, bought the ticket for 10 people who signed up on Wednesday noon, and off we went on early morning Friday. It's surprising how spontaneous we can be at times :).

The vacation was so much needed and Hawaii, Honolulu to be exact, is such a beautiful place. The first thing that came to mind when we landed was how similar the island is to our home country, Indonesia, with American influence of course. I love the warm beaches and its breath-taking views and all the water activities. You've got to love how laid-back people are, it's like they have all the time in the world. Love those snow-cones, passion fruit and guava-flavored desserts (my all-time fave), and let's not talk about those hunky guys ;). I love how people in Hawaii start the day early (just like in Indonesia), I woke up around 6-7 in Hawaii and the sun was already up and you can hear all sorts of busy sounds in the street. I love my walk in the morning to get a cup of Kona coffee in a nearby store, oh how I miss the slow pace there. When I came back home, it was still pitch dark at 6am, even 7 (maybe not as dark), but you can clearly feel the difference.

The view on the highway on the way to north-shore
Now that I'm back to the fast-moving life and all the activities that comes with it, I have to catch up on my routine, doing my blog-reading round and see what I've missed on Tastespotting and Foodgawker, replying lots of email, catching up with work. I was welcomed back to California with rain, in fact, it's been raining for a few days now. It's been really cloudy and sad here (can't you tell I miss the sun? :D), but anyways....

I know Summer has officially ended and Fall is happily getting its way out here, but I still have so much items on my Summer list that I haven't get a chance to do, such as this one (and many many more). It's like secretly hoping that even though Fall is officially here, but I just have that tiny tiny hope that the Summer temperature would stay a little longer. I still see lots of peaches, nectarines, and strawberries in the market, which always makes me smile everytime, but I know that they won't be here long enough for me to get through all my list and my usual Summer-fruit freezing time.

Leaves are starting to turn red here and there, the wind is breezy, rain falls here and there, and I started to find myself waking up early in the morning because it's too cold and ended up curling up under my blankie. I started to close the window again at night because it's getting really cold at night. I am so used to let it open in the Summer time as I love the gentle breeze in my room and especially the smell of that fresh air in my room, but I guess it is almost the time to back in Winter mode. I saw lots of chocolate post, pear and apple goodies popping up on multiple blogs already.

Just to celebrate the season, or more like hanging on to the Summer a little longer, I decided to make more ice cream in the middle of the birthday month crazyness when the temperature was a bit warmer a few weeks ago. Mascarpone ice cream to be exact. Some of you might have already known my love toward this one ingredient and I especially love the combination of mascarpone and raspberry such as in this one and I want to recreate the same taste in the ice cream form.

I made one batch of basic ice cream and added a full 8-oz tub in it, then divide the batter in half, one for peach, and one for raspberry swirl. I feel like I have never given yellow peaches a fair share of its beauty in dessert form or anything at all, I barely eat it fresh. I always opt for the white type because I think it's sweeter and more fragrant. Other than that, I think what contributes the most to my hesitation towards yellow peaches is the canned peach. I am not a fan of those canned yellow peaches and back when I was still in Indonesia, we didn't have fresh peaches and all we know about peach is the canned one, and I think it tasted horrible. But before the season really ends, I decided to give these yellow peaches another chance and bought a whole basket of gorgeous yellow peaches in the farmers market. It was actually a lot better than I thought it would be, it was so sweet and juicy and I just couldn't turn it down, very different than the canned version (duh!). Although, I did try and bought a couple from grocery store, it looked ripe to me and fragrant too, but they weren't sweet at all, kind of tasteless and so mealy. So, I'll stick with my farmers' market for my source of fruits.

I blanched my peaches briefly to loosen the skin and the color was just gorgeous, I couldn't help but just taking a shot even though some parts are bruised from me squeezing it, but the color was just so vibrant and bright!

Talking about a farmers' market find, I also bought half a case of raspberries, my favorite berry of all time! I didn't have the chance to play a lot with it this summer because I thought I still have a few months to go, but I just couldn't resist getting some in the market. I froze 98% of them because I knew that I won't have time to do anything with them soon and we all know how fast raspberries go bad, although my mind was completely full of ideas when I saw the sweet sweet berry. I used a little of the berries to make the swirl for this ice cream.

To me, the taste of peach is subtle and it's hard to make it stand out, even after I put a huge amount of peach puree in it, making the mascarpone taste somewhat disappear. It's definitely peachy and I also put some cubed peach as well, but for some reason, the flavor is not very bold, unlike the raspberry one. It's not the ice cream though, it's just yellow peach in general, I guess peach is better in it's original form rather than processed into something else (in this case, it's ice cream). I barely taste the mascarpone in the peach version as I put a lot of puree in it. However, I love the raspberry version! You can never go wrong with mascarpone and raspberry anyway, LOVE IT! These two will always be one of my favorite flavor combination.

There are still a couple of frozen treats I want to try, but hopefully the warm temperature hangs long enough for me to make all of them, juusssttt a little longer :).
Mascarpone Ice Cream (peach and raspberry swirl)

500 ml whole milk
250 ml heavy cream
150 g granulated sugar
6 egg yolks
8-oz mascarpone cheese
  • Combine the cream, milk and sugar in a saucepan and bring it to a gentle boil
  • Meanwhile, break the egg yolks and whisk it until it blends well
  • Temper the egg yolk and the milk mixture, and put it back in the saucepan.
  • Bring the mixture to 84C over low-medium heat, stirring all the time
  • Remove it from the heat and strain it to avoid any lumps
  • Cool it until it reaches room temperature (or almost to room temp).
  • Add the mascarpone cheese and stir well. This is the base of the ice cream
  • For peach: Add about 500 g peach puree to half of the ice cream
  • For raspberry swirl: Make a raspberry coulis from about 75 g raspberry puree and some sugar (depending on the sweetness, I didn't weigh mine). Heat the two together until the sugar dissolves, let cool and set aside.
  • Refrigerate the ice cream batter overnight and process in the ice cream maker
  • For peach: Add some chopped peach in the final ice cream and churn for a few more seconds to mix
  • For raspberry swirl: Layer the ice cream and raspberry coulis alternating in the container (swirl it with spoon). Don't add the coulis in the ice cream maker as the churning will make the raspberry sauce to be incorporated completely and makes the ice cream pink instead of swirl

Toby Turns One!

Some of you might seen this face a few times before in this blog and yes, he is my beloved little nephew and he just turned one year! Oh, how time flies really fast, it feels like yesterday when he was born and now he's just so full of cuteness!

I did say in the older post that June/July is one of the busiest months for me, but nothing can beat September to early October for me. I live with one of my brothers' family with three kids and one mother in law, and all the three kids and the mother in law's birthday are one week apart, some even two days apart! Not to mention other friends and events happening at the same time that require cake, so you can imagine how stressful I am during that time. My niece and nephews are so spoiled with desserts, the older ones can request the flavor of the cake now, even the decoration! They watched me making cakes and decorate all the time, so they know what they like, most of the time.

Celebrating with big sister and Sunday School friends
Not for this nephew though, at least not yet, he's only one now but who knows what he'll request when he gets older. First birthday is a big deal, not so much for the years after except maybe the 18th or 21st but that's waayy in the future, so I tried to make it special this time. I came across this design when I was browsing for a wedding cake (another event for later) and immediately fell in love with it! I love the color, I love the simplicity-but-cute design, I love the 2D cutouts, a change from the normal 3D figurines that takes me hours to make. Coincidentally, my nephew has this zoo-animal-themed toy hanging on top of his crib, which resembles the cake so much, so it was set then.

There were two celebration for this birthday, which fell on the same day, at his Sunday school class at church in the morning and with family and close friends at home at night. It was a bit complicated deciding how the cake would work as I certainly don't want to make two smaller cakes and having to decorate them separately. I would rather make a tiered cake for appearance and divide the portion (somehow). After much deliberating, I decided to make a two-tiered cake 9"-6", and an additional 8" square cake. The 9" cake was chocolate cake with chocolate mousse, caramelized banana, and a layer of creme brulee in the middle (supposedly for the night party for the adults), while the top 6" tier and the 8" square will have the same flavor, fromage fraise (for the morning party which if for kids mostly). Everything got changed though when I found out that one of my tires went completely flat when I was about to go home from work, buy ingredients and make some of the components. To make a long story short, I can only make 8" fromage fraise and the top tier is the classic Indonesian cheesecake. (I got bored of making it but it seems like no one got bored eating it).

Making 2D cutouts is so much easier than making 3D figurines, although it still took me a good amount of time decorating the whole thing. Even though it's not perfect, I'm quite satisfied with how it turned out and I hope Toby would too when he get's older and look at his 1st bday cake pictures :). Happy Birthday my dear Toby!

Onto the giveaway result now, the winner is Lynne. Congratulations!! We'll send you an email shortly for the gift card :)

Baby One Month Celebration and A Birthday, And 25th Wedding Celebration

I decided to combine these two cakes in one post mainly because they have similarities in terms the disaster I was facing when making them :).

Remember my newest niece? She turned one month on August 25th (yup, this post is long overdue). It may not be a big deal for most of you, but in our tradition, we celebrate this special occasion. I think (I might be wrong) babies are still weak in that one month period since they still rely on the mother's immune system. They shouldn't leave the house during this one month due to the exposure to a lot of viruses. a lot of families would trim the baby's hair completely to let go anything that he/she carried from the womb, or something like that. It is also the time when you can cut the fingernail of the baby.

The one month celebration coincidentally falls on the same day as the mother's birthday, how awesome is that! They threw a party of 60 people to celebrate this special occasion and what is a celebration without a cake!

It was sorta last minute when the request for the cake came, and it took me quite a while to figure out how to incorporate the two theme into one cake. I browsed though A LOT of baby's cake pictures until finally decided on one I like. It was a three-tiered cake with pink and brown color combo, one of my favorites. I decided to just put a figurine of a mother holding a baby, which my friend, N, helped out with (Thanks!). She stayed for 4 hours until midnight to make the figurine while I was busy with the cake, fill, frost, cover, etc. It was a crazy crazy time, not to mention that it was on a weekday too!

We didn't really need a three-tiered cake to feed 60 people but we decided to do so anyway because it looks better with the color contrast. I made the second tier from dummy so that we won't end up with lots of leftover. The cake was a basic vanilla cotton cake, layered with fragrant blueberry preserve, and very cheesy cream cheese frosting.

I had to mention though, that San Jose was in the middle of a heat wave during the 3-4 days I started making the cake and to the actual celebration day itself. We do have AC (Thank God) but it wasn't enough to keep the house cold. It was quite a disaster as for some reason, the fondant I used to cover the middle tier cracked everytime I put it on the cake and I had to re-do it 6x before I finally decided to start with a new fondant (talking about being stubborn)!!! I don't think my wrist was functional after the 6th time, it was very exhausting and I think my wrist was about to crack anytime. Everything seemed ok that night, except that our fridge won't fit the 6" cake in, so I put it on the dining table unrefrigerated overnight, thinking that the weather at night and in the morning should be cool enough to keep the frosting in place. Oh, how I was so wrong. The next morning when I came down to check, the 6" layer was a disaster! The frosting went soft because it was too hot, making the cake very poor-looking. Oh yes, I almost cried that time, believe me. I almost didn't want to post this cake in this blog, as I don't want to be reminded of this nightmare but oh well, not everything always go smoothly and there's always a lesson to learn.

Other than the cake, I had to cook the Indonesian yellow rice and also a side dish. I don't know how, but somehow we managed to get them all done , just 30mnts late, which is a surprise really considering it was a weekday. But yeah, the cake went soft very quickly due to the hot weather, not to mention it had to stand outside on the table for a few hours before it was cut. It was messy but everyone doesn't seem to care or mind the appearance, fortunately :)

There was a lot of REALLY good food in the party, it was as authentic Indonesian as you can get here in the US, yumm!!

Speaking about making a cake during a heat wave, it happened to me once before, a few months ago. This cake was in my folder was so long and I never intended to post it, but since this other cake gets posted, it doesn't seem fair if I keep the previous one in the back. It was for a 25th wedding anniversary cake. I tried my best to keep it cool and perfect but it was so hot (100-ish), my AC was broken at that time, and the fridge was so full (bad combination). Despite all these imperfections, thankfully they still appreciated it and the cake still tasted good, which what matters the most really.

The 25th wedding anniversary celebration was held in their beautiful home, just checkout the landscape in the back! They set up tables in the backyard and put the food in the gazebo, it was truly beautiful. The flower topper for the cake is peony, back in the Spring when Peony was in season. Yes, it was that long ago and I'm too embarrassed to post this. See that wrinkles and unsmooth-ness of the fondant? It was similar to the baby and birthday celebration cake, the frosting gets really soft and it doesn't matter how much I tried to smooth it out, it won't be perfect :(. But there it is now, I'm showing it to the world. The wedding celebration cake has Swarovsky crystal on the cake, which makes the cake looked a little sparkly when the light hits it, but I don't think the pictures are doing it any justice.

I just bought a refrigerator a few months ago, but hasn't been used yet. It has fridge for times like this, and also freezer to stock all of the berries for Winter time, so I hope I learn enough not to let this incident from happening again.

A Welcoming-Back Cake: Chocolate and Hazelnut Mousse Cake

We're on a transition from Summer to Fall currently, and believe it or not, with this unpredictable weather (there is another heatwave now here in SJ, and a cold week last week), my life or my routine has been affected a bit. For example, my sleep. Sometimes, it is super hot in the afternoon but cold i in the morning and at night. A lot of time too I had to sleep with my window open at night because it was too hot and I find myself waking up in the middle of the night feeling really cold. I blame the weather, the bed, and the comforter too on this one :)

This is the time when I would dream for a new comfortable bed sets, modern and comfy. You see, for these past few years, I've been sleeping in an open futon with a really comfortable foam mattress next to a window. Not that I have too much complaint about it as it serves me pretty well, especially when it is not my own house, but I would really love to have one of this when I finally have a house of my own.

Anyways, just for some background information, I volunteered to order the food for my weekly lunch team meeting from the catering company for our company, mostly because no one didn't seem to want to doit and also so that I can choose the food I like :) (this is probably weigh more that the first reason). From doing so every week for more than a year, I somewhat knew the people I interact with, and although we can't be considered good friends (yet), but we have a good relationship.

There's this one lady that I used to see almost everyday down at the cafeteria, but I hadn't seen her for quite a while. I found out from the other lady later on that she just had a brain tumor surgery recently and needed a month to recover. She also asked me if I would bake her a cake to welcome her back in the workplace after so long and to celebrate her healthy comeback, and how can I say no to that?

This cake wasn't in my original schedule of cake making, but it was all well worth spending all the times and effort to make it for that very special joyous moment. It didn't take me too long to decide what cake I wanted to make for her. After a few questions of what she likes and doesn't like, I decided to make something with chocolate (yes, two chocolate cake in a row, during summer time! very unusual), more specifically a chocolate and hazelnut cake.

Do you remember this? It was the time when I would try so hard to recreate the flavor and the crunch of ferrero rocher in a cake. I would say it was very successful at that time, based on all of the feedback and request for the same cake from my friends. I used nutella and also some rice krispies in the cake, which was great, but maybe you would remember too that I lost the notes where I scribbled down all of the measurement I used. I've been wanting to recreate the cake ever since and this time, I also wanted to make it with the "correct" ingredients, for example, gianduja paste/hazelnut paste instead of nutella, feuilletine instead of rice krispies, and perfected the component layer that goes inside the cake.

I ordered all of the ingredients from one of my favorite sites a few months ago and they've been sitting in the box for quite a while now. After much thinking of what a "perfect chocolate and hazelnut cake" consist of, to me, I came up with this:
- Hazelnut dacquoise with scattered hazelnut on top
- Hazelnut paillete feuilletine with milk chocolate and hazelnut praline
- Gianduja mousse
- Dark chocolate sponge
- Brandy
- More gianduja mousse
- Thin milk chocolate plate (in between the mousse)
- Milk chocolate cream
- Dark chocolate glaze
- Chocolate Macarons and gold leaf decoration

It sounded like a lot of components and complicated but if you spend a couple of days making some component, it is not impossible. I usually avoid using dacquoise when making cakes, mostly because it is so sweet, but wanting to have that textural balance, I tried reducing the sugar by a lot!

There are a lot of ingredients that are new to me such as the gianduja paste, hazelnut praline, feuilletine, and I was scared to mess it up at first but thankfully it turned out fine. I LOVE the hazelnut praline, it tasted like the outer shell of ferrero rocher with that bits of hazelnut in it, so good.

I did try a slice of this cake just to see what improvement I need to make, if any and to my surprise, I think I've found what I've been looking for in a chocolate and hazelnut cake. If I can say it myself, it tasted very very similar to ferrero rocher, only better!! There's definitely lots of crunch when you bite into a spoonful of it and the different texture provides the perfect balance. I still need to work on my glazing technique, it is still very poor :(, but practice makes perfect? The most important thing is that the lady who came back from the surgery LOVES it, and that's all that matters to me.

This cake is a little bit involved than many of the cakes I made and I realized that the ingredients are not things that you could find in a grocery store or even whole foods, but some substitution can be made. I guess I need to make two versions of this, the complicated one and the simpler one, just like the first ferrero rocher I made before, using rice krispies instead of feuilletine, and nutella instead of gianduja paste. The amount and the recipe is definitely different but you can get the same textural balance and same great taste. I still need to work on the "simpler" recipe as I lost it when I made it last year, but I'll try to post the recipe whenever I make another one (and not losing it) :). The "complicated" version is still on my scratch paper somewhere, with little notes here and there, no direction even. I don't have the picture of the inside and forgot to take a quick snap on my slice, so this is all I got. I realize there's not much variation on the pictures, but I was lucky to at least got a few minutes to take pictures :)

Let's move on to the giveaway now. I did a giveaway for CSN store just a few months ago and they kindly offered me another giveaway for $45 that you can spend on their 200++ online stores. It won't be enough to get that bed set I was eyeing on, but I'll dream about it :). The rules are simple:
- Leave a comment on this post anytime between now to October 10, 2010. I will draw a winner randomly using and announce it on the next post when the giveaway has ended.
- No multiple entries
- For anonymous (preferably none), leave your email address and where you're located at
- If you disable your profile view, please do the same as item #3. I won't be able to email you or find out where you are if I can't view anything.
- This giveaway only opens for US and Canada residents only.