Friday, December 24, 2010

It's Christmas Eve! I've been very busy the past two days visiting my family and all of my in-laws. There's been lots of candy making, gift shopping, and present wrapping this week too. I thought I would share this present cake I made a few weeks ago. The top cake is a blue gift box with snowflakes.  I used a Martha Stewart stencil (can be found at Michael's) to spread on the royal icing snowflakes and then attached sanding sugar to the icing before it dried.  The bottom cake is a blue gift box with white reindeer around it.  The reindeer are fondant cutouts made on the Cricut machine and then dusted with pearl luster. The presents are topped off with a silver loop bow.  I used silver disco dust to make the bow shimmery.  These types of cakes are so much fun because your options for the "wrapping paper" are limitless. This cake can easily be turned into a birthday cake by decorating it with the party's theme.  Another great idea is to add a gift tag coming out of the bow announcing the occasion. 

I also want to point out this great cake stand I found recently. Isn't it gorgeous? I found it at a Home Goods in New Jersey but I've seen others like it in other TJ Maxx's and Marshall's here in Austin. The crystal pendants are great accents for any formal dessert or cake. 

Have a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Decorated cookies are always a great addition to the dessert table at a holiday party. These sugar cookies are flavored with a hint of vanilla and decorated with American buttercream. To color your buttercream, use gel based colors instead of the liquid colors. Use a small angled spatula to spread the buttercream on the cookie and then use a piping bag and tip to decorate it any way you like!



Sugar cookies also make perfect party favors when placed in bags and tied with a matching bow.  Instead of using buttercream to ice the cookie, use royal icing. This icing hardens enough to be placed in a bag without harming the decorations. Click this link to get a great recipe for royal icing. It tastes yummy when almond extract is added to it!
A group of ladies took a shopping trip as their annual Christmas party. Each lady was given a goodie bag with one of these adorable purse cookies in it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Yule Log

Have you ever heard of a Buche de Noel? Or maybe a "yule log" ?  It's not very common here in the U.S., but it is a traditional dessert served during the Christmas holidays in many French-speaking countries.  It celebrates the winter solstice and Christmas by representing a log burning in the fireplace. 
Because the pastry school I attended teaches French culinary skills, we learned how to make a Buche de Noel. 
It is a sponge cake filled with chocolate mousse, rolled tightly like a jelly roll, and then frosted with chocolate buttercream. It is often decorated to look like a log by making bark lines in the buttercream, as well as placing meringue mushrooms and marzipan holly leaves on it. 

Click the link above to get the recipes and directions for making your own Buche de Noel. If you have any questions, please ask!! I hope see pictures of the yule logs you make!
Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Happy Holidays!

I can't believe it's December already! Where has this year gone?? 
This time last year I was busy preparing for final exams at culinary school and staying up all night to make this gingerbread house for a school competition. I found out about the competition a week before the deadline but decided to make it (or let's say stress out about it) anyway :)  I tried to replicate the house I grew up in and then decorated it for Christmas. 
The house is made out of gingerbread and "glued" together with royal icing. All of the bushes, garland, and wreathes are made of Rice Krispie Treats. I used bubble gum (painted black) for the shingles and then attached poppy seeds to them for texture. The windows were made from poured sugar. The snow is a mixture of coconut, powdered sugar, and edible glitter. I then used chocolate Twizzlers, Red Hots, Tootsie Rolls, Rolo's, and fondant accents for the final decorations on the house. 
I put in a large picture window on the back so you can see the inside of the house. There is a Christmas tree with presents, pictures on the walls, a couch, and all 4 of the wienie dogs I grew up with!

I had so much fun making my house for this gingerbread competition.  What made it even better was winning 1st place!!
 I couldn't bear to throw the house away so I boxed it up and brought it home.  You are probably wondering the same thing I am...
"what are you ever going to do with it?!?"

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!! I had a wonderful week with my family and friends and ate lots of great food! I made several goodies while I was at home last week and thought I would share them with you. 


This is my father-in-law's favorite dessert- Mississippi Mud Pie! It has layers of chocolate ganache, chocolate mousse, cream cheese mousse, and whipped cream all in a graham cracker crust. I topped it with chocolate shavings and candied pecans. Yum!


Next is a Pumpkin cake, layered with cream cheese filling and covered in candied pecans. 



What's Thanksgiving without Pecan Pie?!? These are Whiskey Pecan Tarts topped with creme Chantilly and candied pecans.


I saved the best (my favorite) for last...Sweet Potato Tarts topped with homemade toasted marshmallows. These marshmallows aren't easy to make, but completely worth it! And the best part is getting to toast them with a kitchen torch! So much fun!


Well, now that Thanksgiving is over, that means Christmas is right around the corner. I can't wait to share some great ideas for cookies, candies, and cakes with you!


Friday, November 19, 2010

 I was just visiting one my favorite websites, fancyflours.com , and found a great how-to for making these corn on the cob sugar cookies. How adorable! You could wrap these in a clear cellophane bag, tie a bow around them, and give them as favors at your Thanksgiving party.
Go to http://www.fancyflours.com/site/corn-cob-sugar-cookies.html to find the directions to make these cookies.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fall is in the air!!

Fall is definitely in the air!! It has been in the 60's and 70's here in Austin, and it feels great!!
When I think of fall, I think of Thanksgiving. This is one of my favorite holidays! I love getting together with family and friends to eat amazing food and enjoy each other's company without all the chaos of giving and getting presents. 
I wanted to post a few fall desserts I've made just to get you in the mood for the season!

First up, almond petit-fours with fondant cut-out turkeys. Gobble Gobble!


These are also almond petit-fours with fondant pumpkins, cornucopias, and leaves.


Here is a fall-themed anniversary cake I made for a friend. It has gumpaste tulips in fall colors. It was a chocolate cake, filled with chocolate ganache and chocolate buttercream. Yum!



And, of course, the turkey! Yes, I made this many many years ago, back when I didn't know much about cake decorating...but I just had to post this picture for my Thanksgiving-themed blog! 
The little legs look too cute to eat!

I plan to make yummy miniature desserts for my family Thanksgiving meal next week.  I'll be sure to post pictures of them!
Happy Fall everyone!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Noah's Ark Baby Shower

One of my good friends asked me to make a cake for a Noah's Ark-themed baby shower. The baby's nursery colors are brown and green.  
I made gumpaste elephants, monkeys, giraffes, lions, snakes, zebras, pigs, and birds to set around the cake....all "two by two"!  (I gave all the little girl animals a pink bow on their head!) 
The ark on top of the cake is made of Rice Krispie Treats and covered in modelling chocolate. The top tier is red velvet cake with cream cheese filling and the second tier is yellow butter cake with pineapple chiffon filling. 



To give the cake a "girly" touch, I wrapped the bottom tier with a fabric-like ruffle 
and textured band.



Here is a note I received from my friend: "...the cake was awesome! Everyone was beyond impressed!"