Thursday, September 30, 2010

Green Tea Almond Cupcakes and Lemon Drop Mousse Cake

My two roommates Erin and Petunia's birthdays are only two weeks apart. That means lots of planning and baking for me around that time of the year.

For Erin, I decided to make cupcakes since we were planning to surprise Erin with a bunch of friends at a lounge in downtown PA -- no utensils required. Going along with our love of asian food, I made almond cupcake with green tea frosting and red bean filling. Red bean and green tea are classic asian combos. The cupcake itself was a soft sponge cake with a bit of almond to add a nutty kick and unique texture. It was then topped with green tea frosting made with melted white chocolate and filled with red bean cream. A generous amount of sweet red bean was crushed and mixed into pastry cream for this filling.

And then I got an idea of kicking it up a notch to make them extra special for Erin -- decorating them with custom fortune cookies. With the help of our friends, I found some very interesting fun facts about Erin, printed them out on strips of paper and inserted them into the homemade fortune cookies. Making fortune cookies turned out to be a lot more labor intensive than I had anticipated. I could only make 3 per batch because I had to immediately form them into the right shape as soon as the batch came out of the oven or else they would cool down and crisp up before they could be shaped.

Here are some new things I found out about my roommate and friend of over 6 years (some of them I already knew...).
  • Erin once broke a window with her head.
  • Erin can recognize people based on their calves (people = Stanford Bball Team)
  • She won a trophy for Kumon during high school.
  • She played with barbie dolls until she was in high school
  • One time when she was a kid, she laughed so hard that milk came out of both nostrils!

Now moving onto Petunia's birthday. For the past two years, I've created cocktail inspired cakes for her. Two years ago, I made a mojito cake and last year was pina colada cupcakes. While brainstorming with Erin about new creative cake ideas, I suddenly remembered Penny's baking lemon bars twice in a two week time period a couple of months ago. She loves lemons! What's a cocktail that has lemon? LEMON DROP.

You only need three ingredients to concoct this tangy sweet cocktail - vodka, lemon and sugar - making it quite simple to capture its flavor in a cake. I made a lemon mousse cake with buttery, crumbly vanilla shortbread cookie crust. The lemon mousse was made with sweet lemon curd and freshly whipped cream to lighten it up with a touch of vodka. Then the cake was topped with a thin layer of vodka lemon jelly to give it that vodka kick and a pretty shiny finish on top.
The light mousse cake with a refreshing lemony tanginess was perfect for the hot heat wave stricken day in south bay.
Love you both roommies! <3 nbsp="">

Blackberry Nectarine Pie

I am bummed my favorite fruit season - stone fruit season is over!
Time to start churning out apple pies...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Tim Chueh's Wedding Cake

I have been everywhere the past few weeks with birthdays and travels so my posts are very very overdue. Time to catch up!
Tim is a fellow classmate of mine from college and I was absolutely delighted by the opportunity to make a wedding cake for him and his beautiful finance Cyndy. Because Tim is living in Philadelphia, the cake planning had to be done long distance via emails. It ended up not being difficult as Tim and Cyndy were extremely cooperative and trusted me a great deal that I would deliver a quality cake. Because it was long distance, we did not even have a chance to do a cake tasting like I have done with other wedding cakes, but they decided to go ahead with the cake anyways. I sincerely thank them for trusting me so much.
After going back and forth on the ideas for the different flavors, we decided on chocolate raspberry cake and as Cyndy loves chocolate ganache (as do I!), I incorporated it into the cake.

This cake had chocolate cake as its base and had raspberry buttercream with fresh raspberries and rich dark chocolate ganache filling alternating between the four layers of cake. Then finally, the cake was frosted with velvety vanilla buttercream frosting for the classic white wedding cake finish.
I found decorating cakes with fresh flowers to be my favorite. To me, it's the most beautiful, the simplest, yet elegant while completely matching the rest of the reception site decor. And so Tim and Cyndy's cake was done this way as well.

While setting the cake up, I had a chance to look around the reception site. It was absolutely beautiful, decorated with flowers of my favorite color -- purple. And each table was labeled with restaurant names that are special to the couple where they shared memories together. It was simply perfect.
Congratulations you two!