Thursday, December 30, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!

This is my Christmas goody for everyone here in town. Some chewy chocolate chip cookies, chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, peanut butter cookies, chocolate revel bars and white chocolate chip brownies. All goodness in one can! Hope you had happy holidays everyone!



Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Jungle Birthday Cake

This was supposed to be Adam's cake, it was his birthday last Saturday, but this one ended up as a kiddie cake for Abelito's birthday. Abelito is Adam's youngest nephew and he is turning 4 today. This cake is a 3-layer cake of chocolate and orange butter, filled with orange buttercream.

Not my usual toned down simple cake, but the kiddo loved it!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Vanilla Vanilla!

Yes this is all Vanilla - Macarons and Frosting. It's been a few months ago since I attempted making Macarons, with one batch out of 3 turning out successful. I had been planning on baking Macarons since, but these needs extra time and attention that is why I never attempted baking it. I felt that I needed a whole free day to be able to bake these.

So I finally made these again, and to my delight - everything came out perfectly (or at least for me, they're perfect). Maybe I could use some more feet, but I don't really know what a perfect feet would be. My first introduction to Macaron when I was in Europe, I was not baking yet so I did not look on the details of that little Macaron. My main goal that time was just to devour on that expensive diva!

I finally bought some new Silpats too! They are expensive at 20$ each, but it's so worth it. Seeing my Macarons look like these right out of the oven makes the Silpats some really good baking investment. Perfect shells, little feet - how lovely!

And they're not just pretty to look at, they taste so good! I very rarely eat a lot of what I bake, but I ate a lot of these Macarons! Even Adam's niece and nephews who are picky eaters loved this, and my favorite little girl Maia loved it! Can't wait to bake more! :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Thanksgiving Carrot Cake

Adam and I were going to a friend's place for Thanksgiving dinner. With both of us not growing up here, Thanksgiving is not part of our culture. He's been here longer though, so he's gotten the feel of it, and they've had several Thanksgiving dinners and all with his family. As for myself, it is only my second Thanksgiving, having spent the first one is Houston with the Mantarings.

We were going to Fort Bragg for Thanskgiving and Adam's friend John knows that I bake and he asked if I could bake a Carrot Cake. "Well, definitely", I said. I know of a killer recipe from Sarah, I made it once and it was just heavenly. Sarah's Carrot cake recipe is so moist and just delicious!

I made the whole Carrot cake, and frosted it with Sarah's matching Cream Cheese frosting. I love Cream Cheese frosting. They're tangy, not so sweet, a little sour and there's a bite to it. Sarah's recipe calls for two 9x2-in pan, and I made mine on two 8x2-in ones so I had some leftover batter which I made into mini cupcakes. I started baking pretty late Wednesday already so after I finished, it was already starting to get dark and we had to go to Adam's house first for an early Thanksgiving dinner since we were leaving the next day. I brought the mini cupcakes to Adam's house and I am surprised that even the kids loved it! I thought they'd never eat anything with carrots, especially for a cake, but they muched on it like they're eating chocolates.

So with all the running and buzzing that I did before our Fort Bragg trip, I was not able to take a picture of my Carrot Cake. I knew I would not be able to, so I purposely left three mini cupcakes for a picture when I come back. And the mini cupcakes were even better after being left in the fridge for three days. Haha.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Fancy Cake Balls

I do think that photography and baking go hand in hand. It's a different genre but they do compliment each other. And I'm in love with both. I love taking nice photos of my baking. I think photography makes me creative, it makes me think of wonderful baking ideas that could turn into nice photos.

I had been thinking about making cake balls for sometime already, and I decided to make these last night. They are pretty easy to make, but glazing the balls is tricky. If you look at my photos of the cake balls, they're not perfectly round and smooth. But I'm fine with it. They're still pretty. The chocolate recipe is from my baking mommy Sarah, and it's the best chocolate cake recipe. I have tried other chocolate cake recipes but I always go back to her Ultimate Chocolate Butter Cake recipe. So after crumbling the cake, I just added a little chocolate frosting to make the balls.

Now the fun part, I melted some of the Ghirardelli bars that I got from Jojo as birthday present (it was from May!). I still have a lot of unused chocolates because I stopped baking for a few months. I enrobed the balls with those yummy melted chocolate. I can't stop licking the melted chocolates too! Once the chocolate coating settled on the balls, I melted some white chocolates, colored with pink coloring, and then piped it on top of the balls, then I just decorated it with some sugar flowers. I'm so thrilled with how it turned out!

It does look pretty, but it was also so tasty! Adam was just so thrilled with all the chocolate overload. Can't wait to make more with different designs!

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Gourmet Cake

I had been thinking about making a layered sheet cake for some time, and I finally bought a new 13x9-inch pan to do the layers. With all the moving that I did the past 2 years, I have lost some of my stuff and I don't know where my 13x9-inch pan went (among other stuff).

I needed a sturdy base for the cake, so I made Sarah's Cream Cheese Pound cake. It holds, yet it is soft and moist. I first baked that on the sheet pan, and after about 20mins, I have my first layer. Then I made the Chocolate Cake. While I was baking, I made the Swiss Buttercream, halved it and flavored each half with Raspberry and Vanilla. I also made the Dark Chocolate Ganache.

Assembling the cake was so much fun, with all the variety and the colors! I cut the cakes lengthwise in half and I used the first half of the pound cake as the bottom layer. I still have some homemade raspberry jam, and I frosted the bottom layer with it. Then the next layer was the Vanilla Buttercream, and then the Chocolate cake layer. After the chocolate cake layer was the Raspberry Buttercream, and then the other half of the pound cake. It was tall enough without using the the 2nd half of the chocolate cake. I glazed the top with the chocolate ganache (which by itself is to die for!).

After putting everything together, I was thinking of what to put on top of the cake. I had always wanted to do sugar candies, spun sugar, or something like that. I think it makes desserts look fancy. I just never tried making it because it is messy! I made a simple sugar syrup for the sugar decoration. While I was boiling my syrup, my fire alarm came off! I was so scared that it went off since it was already in the middle of the night! It scared the wits out of me! After figuring out how to turn off the alarm (think Phoebe in Friends, lol), I continued with the sugar syrup. After much ado, I had my very first pretty sugar candies with only two burnt fingers to boot. Haha.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Banana Coffee Pie

I am not a pie person, let alone whipped cream and pie together - not my palette. However, Adam one day wanted something with banana and chocolate and I thought of the Banana Coffee Pie, or the Banoffee. I remember this dessert being really popular back home in the Philippines, it being almost always on the menus of restaurants and coffee shops. Even Starbucks had it on their limited pastry choices.

As always whenever I need a recipe, I go to Baking911. I remember Sarah has a recipe there of the pie and I decided to make it for Adam. It has a wonderful pie crust made of grahams, a layer of chocolate, bananas and espresso whipped cream. I don't like whipped creams, but this one is to die for. It's so light, and tasty. This recipe is also very easy to make, and is ready to serve in no time.

The pie was an awesome dessert to our wonderful steak and potatoes dinner.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Ultimate Chocolate

If you've been following my blog, you'd know that I am not really a chocolate person. I would sometimes crave for some chocolate cupcakes and some dark chocolate ganache, but after eating half a cupcake, I would be all ok already. I made some chocolate cupcakes the other day though, because I was trying out this technique of making a ganache with the food processor. I basically just processed some chocolates in the food processor, heated the same amount of heavy cream, and combined them in the processor afterwards. And voila! I have a shiny chocolate ganache. So what to do with the ganache? Make cupcakes! So I also made Sarah's Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake which is my favorite, because it's soft, fluffy and moist - qualities not very easy to get from other recipes. I just made 12 cupcakes, ate that piece after taking a picture, and gave out the rest to Thet and to Adam's niece and nephews.

The ganache was awesome. I would be making more ganache from now on, since it's way easier to make with the food processor. :)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Maddie's Birthday Cupcakes

As much as I'd love to bake, I really don't have much time lately to do so. I always have a lot of baking ideas and decorations in mind, but I very rarely get to execute them, or if I get to, I am already cramming. Much like the cake and cupcakes that I'm supposed to make for Maddie - Adam's niece. It was 3 weeks ago since I learned that I'd be baking for her birthday and all the while, I had so much ideas on how to do it. It's a pool party, so I was imagining beach, shells - and most of all - umbrellas! Her party was yesterday and I thought since it's a Sunday, I will have plenty of time over the weekend. I have all Saturday to do everything. Wrong.

So I woke up Saturday at 12nn! I overslept and Adam was calling me at around lunch time, and he was even apologetic for having woken me up. Haha, I needed to wake up already! And then I had a mail that I had to pick up and the post office closes at 3 on Saturdays. So after a shower and a sandwich, I was headed to El Dorado Hills Post Office, only to find out that they made a mistake and my mail is actually in Folsom. So I drove back to Folsom, barely made it, got my mail and brought some stamps. It was already almost 4, and I went to Michael's to buy matching blue and pink ribbons, some glue, and some tissue to cover the cupcake tower. It was already 6 by the time I got home. And then I got on the phone, with my mom and with Adam. By the time I started mixing batter, it was already 8. Huge headache + oversleeping = yet another sleepy head. LOL.

To cut a long story short, I already have 34 chocolate chip cupcakes, 20 vanilla cupcakes, and a 6in cream cheese pound cake at 4am, fully decorated and ready to go. Talk about Iron Chef baking. I'm so sleepy. These was one of those days though that I got close to what I had in mind. Close but not quite. For one - those darn wilton paper cups are so nasty. I will never use those again to bake! I'm happy that I was able to incorporate the umbrellas in the design. The kids loved it.

Here's while I was setting up the cupcakes.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sarah's Glazed Lemon Cake

After all the business trips, the travelling and the long hours at work, I am just happy to get a few hours of total freedom. I very rarely get days's off - a really free day, with nothing to do and no plans. I just planned on sleeping in today until around lunch time, but my stomach was already grumbling at around 930am. I was planning on going out of the house today, stop by the nearest Starbucks at Broadstone and get a coffee and a slice of their lemon cake. Their lemon cake is actually decent and I normally have it together with my morning coffee if I get the time before work. I was too lazy today though to get dressed and go out of the house, but the craving for the tangy lemon taste lingered. I decided to make my own cake with my own coffee. I still have a lot of Jamaican Ground Roast at home, and I love it. I just don't always have the time to make coffee at home.

I have Sarah's Glazed Lemon Cake on had, I've had it for so long and I had always wanted to try it since I love Lemon Cakes. So I decided to bake and while at it, I have started tinkering my new D40 and the new 17-55 lens. The lens doesn't fly with my apartment's low light and my kitchen, so I switched the lens with my trustee 50mm. Worked as always.

After about 45 minutes, I have that smell of freshly baked cake filling my kitchen. It smelled like lemons! I am hungry, and excited. I glazed the cake, cut it into 9 pieces since it's an 8x8 square cake, made my coffee, sat in a chair and started eating my breakfast. What a wonderful morning.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Birthday Cupcakes

I went to Austin for my birthday and I made some cupcakes. Annie is throwing a housewarming party at the same time. :) It was fun making the cupcakes, at another house's oven and kitchen. It's a challenge to find stuff and to actually make the cupcakes rise since I'm not used to using her oven. It worked really well. I love Sarah's recipes, you can bake it anytime, anywhere. Just use the recipe to the T and everything will work.

We only had sprinkles to decorate the cupcakes. But it was still pretty cute. And the cupcakes were so yummy! These are the Ultimate Butter Cake filled with Strawberry Jam and the Ultimate Chocolate Butter Cake with Chocolate Chips, topped with Vanilla Buttercream.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My First Mini Cupcakes

These are my first mini cupcakes. Yup that's right. I have never made minis before because I don't have any mini cupcake pan. When I started to bake again a couple of weeks ago, I bought some new stuff, one of which is a mini cupcake pan. I love the sizes, they're just about the right bite sizes.

Here I made the UCBC recipe by Sarah Phillips. This is my staple chocolate cake recipe, loaded with chocolate because of the powder and the melted chocolate combination. Whenever I crave for some chocolate cake, I whip this up.

I made these for Jojo's Despedida Party.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cheesecake and White Chocolate Strawberry Mousse

Ever since I started thinking of baking again, I had always wanted to make a mousse. I have never made a mousse before because in Israel, all the available cakes for sale were mostly mousse. I started to learn how to bake because I missed the bready, buttercreamy cakes. I also like my cheesecakes denser, and they're so fluffy in Israel.

Hence, necessity is the mother of invention.

Now that I'm away from Israel for so long (excluding that one excursion last March for a 2-week business trip), I long for some mousse once in a while. I had been thinking of what to do together with a mousse. I can't eat a mousse just by itself, I want something else with it. I was thinking of whether to do it with a sponge cake at the bottom, or some cheesecake. I opted with the later.

So here's my Cheesecake and Strawberry Mousse. It has some Graham Crust, Sarah's Luscious and Creamy No-Crack Cheesecake on the middle layer, then a variety of Sarah's White Chocolate Strawberry Mousse on the next layer, then some home made strawberry glaze on top, with some Italian Buttercream on the side. Sounds like a lot!

For the mousse, instead of using Raspberry, I used fresh strawberries, pureed it in the food processor for about 30 secs. And then I added an extra envelop of gelatin to make it hold as a layer when chilled in the fridge. I baked the cheesecake first, then chilled it, before adding the mousse layer on top.

The recipe takes a lot of time to make, but it's not really hard to do. All the wait was so worth it, everything was so good and the flavors just blended together! There's just everything to love about the recipe!

I was planning on taking a nice picture of a slice of it with some fancy garnish, but I ended up just taking a quick photo because I had to bring the cake somewhere else. Oh well, I can take a picture of a slice next time.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Chocolate Brownies

You may have noticed that I very rarely make brownies. For all my baking life, I have baked brownies only once before - twice, if you would count my Chocolate Revel Bars. Adam said he loves brownies so I promised him I will make him one of these days. As usual, for all my baking recipe needs, I always run to Baking911 for a reliable recipe. These are Sarah's Chocolate Fudge Brownie Recipe.

I don't even remember anything while I was baking it. I was like on auto-pilot while doing it. All I recall is smelling that heavenly baking smell just when the brownies were almost done in the oven.

I am really not a chocolate person, and I would prefer my cheesecakes and butter/pound cakes over my chocolate cakes anytime, but I do make good of chocolates in the kitchen. These chocolate brownies are so good, I might be baking these again soon for other friends. :)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Some More Macarons

These innocent looking pastries seem easy to make. Well they are, after a lot of practice and tons of almonds. After making my first macarons, and failing, I'd been itching on baking the perfect macarons. I got it perfectly after my 3rd attempt, although my choice of colors seem to have dulled. LOL. I will make brighter ones next time.

I used Sarah Philips' French Macaron recipe, filled it with French Neoclassic Buttercream. What's a baker got to do with all the left over egg yolks? Make a French Buttercream!

Shiny top, check. Nice little feet, check. Heavenly taste, super check. :)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My First Macarons

I'm officially baking again and to start off my baking spree, I am making some Macarons for the first time. Macarons are the new Cupcakes now. Shops selling these had been popping all over and they sell it at an exorbitant 1.95$ per piece!

These are my first ever Macarons. I used some Almond flour that I made out of whole Almonds that I bought. I ground the almonds in the food processor and got some really nice flour.

I think I did well for the first time, but I'm not happy with it. Perfection. Perfection. Some of the Macarons had cracks on the surface, and these are supposed to be really smooth, delicate little pastries. As I got them out of the oven, I was disappointed that I had cracks. So what I did was to make what I do perfectly - Buttercream. I just filled the Macarons with Swiss Buttercream. They tasted heavenly!

I want to bake more Macarons. I want perfection.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Day I Met Sarah

It's snowing in New York! I woke up feeling groggy today because I have only slept for like 3 hours. It was a long night but I think I have enough rest for now. I'm pretty syched, I'm meeting my baking mentor, Sarah Phillips. I'm supposed to meet her at Les Halles at 9:30am and I started preparing really early (like 3 hours ahead of time). I don't want to be late, and I still have to study how to get there. After getting dressed, I'm off to the subways. After getting a feel of how it was riding the subway, it was fairly easily, and convenient. Plus very cheap!

After getting off the sub, I walked (giddily I must say!) towards the restaurant and it was snowing. I loved it. It wasn't that bad really. I got ahead of myself into fearing the cold and the snow in New York. I got at Les Halles at around 9:20am, and Sarah was already there. I can see her from the street. And when I got inside, I got a huge mommy hug from her. She was so warm and accomodating. And she looked prettier and younger in person than in the photos! I'm already in love with her. We talked about almost everything, like I've known her forever. Like a kid talking to her mom about her series of misadventures and bad lucks. :) We talked for hours in the restaurant while I'm having coffee and crepes (which by the way are sooo good!) until we had to go. Her daughter Liz had a doctor's appointment and she had to come with her. So we said our goodbyes and I headed towards the Grand Central. When I got there, I planned on going to Macy's or Bloomingdales for some window shopping. I got sidetracked a bit because I took photos in the station. While I was taking pictures, Sarah texted me saying that they did not have to go to the doctor anymore because the doctor's just gonna call them with the results. She's inviting me back to her house to bake some cakes! Omg! I was so ecstatic! While I was texting her back, she was calling me already. And so I walked back to her apartment.

When I got there, she asked me what do I want to bake, and I wanted a Genoise because that I feel is my worst cake. :) So on we baked with me wearing a cute apron and Sarah wearing her baking clothes. And off to work we went. I finally figured out where my Genoise went wrong, and it's in the folding. I was stirring instead of folding. While baking, I had a wonderful time talking to my "Jewish Mom". Sarah is really a wonderful soul. Very kind and very warm. And I also met Liz her daughter, who looks really beautiful. The smell of the Genoise in the oven filled her aparment and I was so excited to try it out. The Genoise rose really nicely, and the texture was very light. And the taste was so delicious. She made me a tall glass of coffee with the Genoise. Wonderful right? I was in baking heaven. I can't even take good photos because I was so distracted!

It was late in the afternoon already when I left her apartment, and I took half of the Genoise that we made. I walked aimlessly around for about an hour, getting a feel of New York living and then it started snowing again. I went to the nearest subway station and went back to the hotel. I took a nap for a bit, then had a wonderful dinner. Come to think of it, anything with an ice cold coke is wonderful. I bet I won't be sleeping again tonight with 2 cups of coffee and a can of soda.