Archive for March 2010

Rainbows and Stars

Every year I make a birthday cake for my friend’s daughter Aela.   This year she turned 6 and requested a chocolate cake with rainbows and stars on it.  Of course I went a little overboard as usual.

Cupcakes are all the rage these days.  In fact I’ve read a couple articles recently discussing whether cupcakes (which are now being served at weddings in lieu of cake) are a passing trend.  The verdict according to my reading is that they are here to stay.  My opinion is that they are easy to serve at a party with a guest list comprised mostly of kids.  Theres little clean up and its an easy way to offer more than one flavor of cake.

I also like to match cupcakes to the cake in terms of decoration, so I fashioned fondant stars and rainbows in advance, once dry, its pretty simple to add atop the vanilla and raspberry buttercream frosted chocolate cupcakes.

For an added “Ahhh” factor I also made a rainbow cake as the largest tier of the actual birthday cake.  In terms of the theme of rainbows I couldn’t resisted experimenting with a fairly simple way embellish this idea.

The bottom tier was a white cake.  Once the batter was mixed I divided it into a number of different bowls and added a few drops of  food coloring.  I scooped the colored batter liberally into two pans, and baked as usual.

Theres no need to swirl the batter with a knife and once cooked the cake will appear golden brown on the outside and not as bright as you might expect.  Once you level your layers to start building the cake, you’ll find its very bright inside.

So Happy Birthday to my favorite munchin and cake eater, Aela!


3 comments March 31, 2010

Stout Shout Out

Brooklyn's Chocolate Stout, a seasonal beer

I spent St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland one year and was asked repeatedly why I wasn’t back in New York where Patty’s day was inevitably more fun? I live not too far from a one of the bigger irish neighborhoods in New York.  Having had a pint in both the old country and here at home I can definetly say Guiness must be drunk on St. Patrick’s Day no matter where you are Irish or not.

The Chocolate and Coffee notes in Guiness nicely compliment of host of sweet flavors.  In fact its not uncommon in Ireland to have raspberry or strawberry liquor added to your pint.  Stout though dark is actually a very light beer (its got the same calorie count as your average light beer) and  is really versatile and fun to cook with.  I’ve got it lined up to make an appearance in Chocolate Cheesecake next.

So heres a really simple way to incorporate the luck of the Irish in your baking.  Add 1/4 c  -1/2 c (I tend to be more heavy handed with a 1/2 c) of Guiness or your favorite stout beer to a homemade chocolate cake.   Murphy’s is good, or Brooklyn Brewery makes a really rich Chocolate Stout around the holidays and I hoard it throughout the year for just this purpose.  Sometimes I throw a tablespoon of Irish whiskey in the batter just because. You’ll find the cake comes out light and fluffy!   To topp  ‘er off

Bailey’s Buttercream Frosting

1/2 c (1 stick) butter softened

1/2 c Shortening (you can 1 c butter total and omit the shortening if you aren’t keen on it)

1/4-1/3 c Bailey’s Irish Cream (Emmet’s Irish Cream or your favorite brand is also suitable.  Bailey’s now makes a variety of flavor infused irish cream liquors like Bailey’s Mint, or Bailey’s Chocolate, so feel free to experiment.)

4 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 tsp vanilla (clear or pure extract) optional

Blend all ingredients except for the sugar until creamy and smooth.  Add sugar gradually while mixing with an electric mixer.  Delicious.  I’ve watched many of my friends eat the left over frosting out of a bowl with a spoon its soooooo good.



1 comment March 17, 2010

Cheesecake Machismo

First of all what great assonance in that statement…Cheeeeeeesecake Machiiiiiiiiiismo.  Well I’m giving a shout out to a little shop in Albany that goes by this very title… I recently visited this unassuming spot, owned by Lynn Beaumont and Bam Lynch, because they like me utilize the talents of one wonderful graphic designer who doesn’t mind being paid incake.  (See the artwork below.


Cheesecake Macchismo has a quaint little locale with a punk flair right in the center of Albany where they make over 290–THATS RIGHT 290 different flavors of CHEESECAKE!!! What started out as a hobby for them has quickly become a growing business and obsession, well at least for me and anybody else who has ever sampled any of their various cakes!!!  (True Confessions: I ate 3 different slices of their cheesecake just this weekend…)

Frankencake...any combo of flavors you like all in one cake!

Lets be honest though, cheesecake…well its not cake.  Its actually custard, making it ridiculously easy to screw up!  First you need a pan that’s boobytrapped to unhinge, a springform pan that is.  It must be baked …while soaking in a bath.  It takes forever to cook (so the eggs don’t coagulate–no seriously thats why!) Then it takes its sweet time sitting in the oven while it cools.  Cheesecake is as eccentric as Marie Antoinette (pictured above), and I can attest to the fact that it takes Machismo to really nail it.

Unless…unless you find this Ohhhhhh so easy recipe here on this little sight o’ mine.

Mini Cheesecakes (this one comes straight out of my mom’s recipe box)

Nilla Waffers (12)

2 8 oz blocks of cream cheese softened

3/4 c sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp Vanilla

Line a cupcake pan with paper liners and place 1 Nilla waffer at the bottom of each.  Cream the butter and cream cheese until nice and smooth.  Make sure you let the cream cheese soften else you will never beat the lumps out.  Add sugar, eggs and vanilla.  Scoop into cups.  I like to add a fruit topping.  You can thin down a jam or preserve by whisking with with a few tsp of orange juice. drizzle over the top of the cheesecake mixture.  Swirl a knife through to achieve an eye pleasing design.  Pop in the over for at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

If you’ve had a chance to sample Machismo, consider yourself lucky.  If not perhaps you can take some inspiration from the 290 Machismo flavors and spice up this quickie recipe with oreos, snickers, chocolate, ginger, boysenberries, apples, maple, chocolate stout, cinnamon, green tea…the flavor combinations go on for days.  What Lynn and Bam do to cheesecake is evil, sinful, just wrong…and I mean that in the most delicious way possible.   Machismo could go head to head with a Brooklyn slice any day of the week.  Thankfully I live pretty far away from their shop, else I’d have a serious weight problem.

2 comments March 8, 2010

Fondant Roses

Here is a simple and easy way to make fondant roses without using cutters or any sort of shaping tools, just your finger tips.  I led this exercise with a big group of girls scouts and it was very popular!! Enjoy!

I wanted to do a quick recap of a great event I was honored to be apart of.  the Girls Scouts of Westchester Hosted their First Annual Mother Daughter Event this past February 6th.

Over 130 Moms and Daughters joined in to decorate Valentine’s Day Cupcakes, Made their very own truffles and event sculpted roses out of Fondant.  I had a great time leading various introductory exercises in Cake and Candy Decoration!!

RECIPE RECAP: Most of these reciepes are listed on this blog already, so below you will find a links to the original directions (in light pink script) as well a quick recap of what we did at the GS Event.  Enjoy!!

Oreo Cookie Truffles

1  package of Oreos

1 brick (8oz) cream cheese softened

16 oz (1  standard package) semi sweet chocolate

1-2 tbsp shotening

Grind oreos in a food processor until they are a fine crumb.  Add soft cream cheese.  Roll into 1″ diameter balls and place on wax or parchment paper.  For best results refridgerate for one hour.

In a double boiler or microwave melt semisweet chocolate and shortening.  Chocolate burns easily!!!!!  In microwave you should heat for 30 seconds then mix.  Repeat until chocolate is smooth.

Dip chilled truffles in chocolate one at a time.  For best results use a plastic fork for the dipping.  Break off the 2 inside tines of the fork and balance the truffle on the two outer times to remove the truffles from the choolate.

Place on Wax or parchment lined trays and refridgerate.  For an added touch finish with a colored chocolate.  I suggest using Wilton Candy Melts.

They are available in a variety of colors and are easily melted in the microwave.  Pour into a plastic Pastry bag withWilton Tip One on the end to make a drizzled design on your finished truffles. Place in miniature cupcake cups or candy cups.

Marshmellow Fondant

1 bag mini marshmellows (get the name brand not the generic there is a distinct difference in the way the fondant sets up with the more expensive marshmellows)

4 Tbsp of water

2 lbs. of Confectioner’s Sugar

1/2 cup Shortening

Melt marshmellows and water in a double boiler.  You can also use the microwave to melt and mix in short spurts of time.  Do not overcook!!  Marshmellows should look bright white and foamy when done right.

If you have a couter top mixer grease the accompanying bowl with shortening.  Add the melted marshmellows and Confectioner’s Sugar and use the dough hook to need into a dough.

If you are kneading my hand stir in a few cups of confectioner’s sugar, then grease your hand with a generouse layer of shortening and begin kneading.  Fondant will form a into a strong ball of dough with a little elbow grease.  Fondant can be dyed with regular food coloring.  I recomend gel base food coloring (Betty Crocker makes a gel base colors found in most grocery stores, or you can use Wilton Color.) Add a few drops of the color of your choice and knead.  Wearing glove to keep your fingers color free is recommended.

***To store Fondant cover with a thin cover of shortening and seal (AIR TIGHT!!!!) in a plastic bag or with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.  Fondant dries and hardens when exposed to air so it it important that you keep what you are not using covered at all times.

4 comments March 1, 2010

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The Cake Eccentric

Sugar, Frosting, and Fondant: an artistic exploration of Cake and other Sweets