Thursday, February 26, 2009

We have good initials

It's finally over! Yes - my crazy and unbelievably long work hours are finally over. :) We filed the report yesterday and now my life is back to normal. The past two months really came and left in such a hurry. Those of you who are fellow auditors know how it is to go through a "busy season" and the hours that we are required to put in to meet the deadline.

I am especially thankful that in the midst of that busy life, I am given time - still - to bake some simple goodies. :) I had bought a set of alphabet cookie cutter from Martha Stewart's collection last month and I've been wanting to use it for a while. Finally I did! I have to say, Alvin and I have good initials together. :) We make positive messages with our initials and I am here to share it!

I also want to share with you what I had done with fondant since my first fondant cakes. It's nothing complicated or fancy, but I really adore each one of these little creatures. :) And now that my work is back to normal, I can't wait to play around with fondant even more!

Before I end this post, I really want to thank God for the strength that He provided throughout those long days. Every time I thought that I couldn't take it anymore, every time I thought that I'm missing on life by working such long hours, He reminded me of verses that encourages me. He sent friends who cheered me on. He gave me coworkers in the Lord who reminded me that there is a purpose for me here. I really am thankful. There is a purpose in whatever it is that we are doing when we are in God's hands.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Raspberry Mascarpone Cheesecake with Dark Chocolate Ganache

This is another one of my cheesecake try-out. :) I've been experimenting with different cheesecake recipes lately and I really liked the outcome of this one. The base recipe is from Giada's Mascarpone Cheesecake in Foodnetwork. Instead of 2lbs of cream cheese, she substituted 1lbs of it with Mascarpone cheese. I folded in some fresh raspberries inside the mixture just before baking it in a water bath.

I brought this cheesecake to my office and my coworkers liked it! I must say that they are quite the critics and so when they say that the cheesecake's good... I'm good. :)

I also want to share something with you guys. I emailed an old friend last week and she told me that she too keeps an online blog about her family (she just had a super adorable baby boy!). So I went to see her blog and just from 5 minutes of reading, I can feel warmth, love, and joy just flowing out of the words written by her. I thought in my head, "this must be how it is if you walk side by side with Jesus." It's amazing how much she can bless others through writing a blog.

Since then, I began to think of how I can bless others through my blog. I haven't figured out how yet, but I really hope that others will be blessed through the posts in this blog.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Carrot Cake

I had a blast this past weekend. I have a carrot cake order, a black forest cake order, a pandan chiffon cake order, and I'm making some fun cupcakes! And they're all for Sunday. Yay! I get very excited when I have the chance to bake a LOT. I really enjoyed baking and more than that, I really enjoyed the feeling when others enjoyed the cakes that I made. I'll post the entries for my weekend baking separately.

Here's the carrot cake entry:

This is the second time I'm baking for a first birthday. I am very excited about this cake and I'm really glad that everybody enjoyed it as much as I did.

The last time I baked carrot cake was back in May 2008 - the beginning of my baking frenzy. I really liked carrot cakes, especially when it's made from freshly grated carrots. This cake is made of 3 layers of carrot cake and it's filled and frosted with cream cheese icing. Before I came to the US, I've never heard of carrot cake as a dessert. When I was in Singapore, I use to eat carrot cakes , but it's a savory dish and it's nothing like this one that I baked. :p

The ideas for the decoration came mostly from Eva and Cecyl. They said that I should make a turtle that has the same expression as the birthday boy, Hayden. I tried my best to make the cutest turtles for his birthday. :) I also made several little details for the cake: carrots, birthday cakes, birthday presents, and a toy car. They are far from perfect, but I think if you zoom out enough, it'll look perfect. :p

PS: Thanks Cecyl for the pictures! You (your camera, I mean) saved my cakes! :)

Another Black Forest Cake

Here's the black forest cake that's part of the weekend baking frenzy:

This is a 2 layer black forest cake with chocolate-rum Chantilly cream and lots of dark chocolate shavings at the top. I've never been good with chocolate designs and I have yet to uncover the secret to chocolate decorations (chocolate fans, chocolate cigarettes, chocolate curls, etc). But this cake is my small step into chocolate decorations.

Here's a close up of the chocolate wall. It's made of dark chocolate and drizzled with white chocolate.

Neopolitan Buttermilk Cupcakes

Here are the cupcakes - part of the weekend baking:

I found this fantastic website that has awesome cupcake recipes and I've been baking a couple of cupcakes from this collection. Both times the recipes call for buttermilk and that's when I discover the beauty of it.

This one is a 3-flavor cupcake: chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. I first made the cupcake batter in one ig batch, then divide it into 3 and flavor them individually. Once done, I pipe the chocolate batter at the bottom, followed by vanilla and strawberry batters. I baked them in the oven and tadaa!

The recipe uses a cream cheese frosting for the cupcakes, but I've used up enough cream cheese for the carrot cake that I decided to do something else. The birthday boy's mom suggested making a tiramisu cupcake. So I decided to make a tiramisu italian meringue buttercream for the cupcake frosting. I added a little rum to the buttercream to kick it up a notch. :p

And this is what I do with the leftover batter. I made mini cupcakes! I brought all these to church and they were gobbled up pretty quickly. :) It felt so good to have others try your baking and enjoyed it well.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Dark Chocolate Espresso Cake

I'm very happy when my friends asked me to bake a cake for them. It means a lot to me that they trust me to bake something nice... for a special occasion. This time, my roommate asked me to bake a cake for her boyfriend's birthday. It's the first birthday for Ryan after they are together. We talked about the kind of cake that Ryan would like and Mery's request to me was to make a rich chocolate cake. :) So here it is...

This cake is made of 2 layers of dark chocolate cake, 2 layers of dark chocolate espresso mousse, a layer of black raspberry jam, and topped with chocolate rum cream. :)

I really wished that I had more time to do the cake. I wanted it to be extra special for both of them, but I had to work late these days and I didn't have much time to decorate the cake at night.

Again, I couldn't make it to the birthday surprise because of work, but I'm glad everybody enjoyed the cake. :)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Marble Cake with Vanilla Frosting - Version 2

This is the second cake I made for Eva's coworker. I decided that if I should make a cake that fulfils the request (marble cake + vanilla frosting) but is in my style.

This cake uses the same marble cake as the first one but instead of simple vanilla buttercream, I used vanilla Chantilly cream and filled it with some bing cherries as well. :) Then I lined the cake with some pretty ladyfingers, and drizzle it with dark chocolate.

I really don't know which to give to Eva's coworker so I had made up my mind to let Eva make that decision. :) I brought both cakes to church and let Eva looked at both cakes and cast the vote. I think the final conclusion is that Eva liked this second cake better because it's more my style, but she thinks that the first cake is more suitable for a little girl's birthday. Her final vote was for the first cake. I haven't heard from her on her friend's comment on the cake yet, but I'll be sure to ask. :)

So... what did we do with this cake? Well... it turns out that it was Chien2's birthday today and so we used this cake (we took out the Nicole, of course) to celebrate Chien2's birthday. :) I guess it was all planned out by God that I had made 2 cakes. :p

Marble Cake with Vanilla Frosting - Version 1

This is my second fondant cake. It's a simple decoration but I think that it's really cute. This was for my friend's coworker's daughter's birthday. The story of this cake began when Eva brought the black forest cake that I had made for her to work. Her coworker tried the cake and liked it. She then asked me to bake a cake for her daughter. I never spoke to her directly but Eva's the messenger between the two of us.

She had wanted a marble cake with vanilla frosting. I'd never made a marble cake before but I'm glad to have a chance to try. :) I also used simple vanilla buttercream to fill the cake and strawberry buttercream to cover the cake. I don't usually use this "american" style buttercream, but from past feedback from my american friends, they liked their cakes to be more on the sweet side. So I decided to use a sweeter frosting for this cake. After finishing with the cake, I covered it with pink fondant and decorated it with a teddy bear and a few hearts. :)

However, after long thoughts about the cake, I realized that this is not my kind of cake. I don't usually bake butter cakes and I don't usually use simple buttercream to ice my cakes. It's too sweet for me. I started to doubt this cake and so I made a second cake... just in case...

Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache and Raspberry Buttercream

It's my very first fondant cake! I am VERY excited about it and I'm pretty satisfied with it.

The story began when my friend asked me to bake a birthday cake for her daughter's 1st birthday. What an honor for me! First birthdays are always very important for the parents and for the little girl herself (when she's old enough to understand). I was very excited about this "prospect" and at the same time nervous. I wanted to make a cake that is memorable, taste good, and looks cute. When I got this cake order, I had never touched fondant before. I believe the call was on a Saturday night. Then on Sunday, I started playing with fondant. I made a little duck, little boy and girl, and a little turtle. It was after the turtle that I decided to make a fondant cake for my friend's daughter, Stina.

I had so many ideas floating in my mind. I knew that I wanted to make something simple - since this will be my very first time covering a cake with fondant. I also knew that I wanted the cake to be cute and girly. I also wanted the cake to be one of a kind. With all that in mind, I finally decided to make a cake in the shape of the little girl's face. :)

The cake itself is a 3 layer buttermilk chocolate cake filled with dark chocolate ganache and raspberry italian meringue buttercream. I then covered the cake with vanilla italian meringue buttercream. I waited for the frosting to crust and then covered it with fondant. It was SO MUCH FUN!

The sad part was that I couldn't make it to the birthday party. :( I really wanted to go, but I had to work that Saturday. The cake made it to the party with Alvin's help and, from what I heard, they loved the cake! It's all worth it... all those hours and energy... it's totally worth it!

I think that this cake really boost my morale in making more fondant covered cake. Which is exactly what I did for the following Sunday. :p