Sunday, February 20, 2011

Happy Sweet 16

This is a full sheet cake that serves about 108 people. The bitrthdays girls colors
were black and burgundy. Every detail on this cake is edible. My favorite part, the picture frame I created was piped in royal icing. Once it dried I painted it in silver. I also created the tiara and writing in royal icing.

When I delivered the cake (downtown Fredericksburg) at their venue, I had the manager help me carry it in, it was way to heavy for me to handle. We went up a very old school elevator (the gated kind). I propped it up with a piece of styrofoam. Once set, guests came to look at the cake including the birthday girl. Once I saw their reactions I knew my job was done :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Silky Sweet Cupcakes

I think Swiss Merengue buttercream will be my standard frosting from now on. I rarely make the typical overly sweet buttercream these days. It is just too sugary and really doesn't taste good.
Swiss merengue is a silky, light buttercream. It is the perfect accompaniment to any cake flavor and as above pairs nicely with fruit fillings. I have both fresh raspberries and strawberries on white and yellow buttercake.

Typical buttecream as found in stores is made with confectioners sugar, butter, milk or water and some extract. Swiss merengue on the other hand is a bit more involved. First you heat up egg whites and sugar until very hot. Then it gets mixed for a time until it becomes a merengue. Then you incrementally add butter and whip it up until light and fluffy. Lastly vanilla extract is added. My Swiss Merengue always reminds me of vanilla ice cream.  

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Shortbread Cookies

It's about time I start sharing recipes with the world. These are creative shortbread cookies that are just yummy. I dipped the ends in bittersweet chocolate. This was either loved or hated by my taste testers. If you can't stand the lack of sweetness in bittersweet chocolate feel free to dip in the chocolate of your choice or not at all (which was my preference).

Adapted From Mindy Segal, owner of HotChocolate Restaurant and Dessert Bar in Chicago.

1 Cup Granulated sugar
4 Cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/4" cubes
1/2 cup strawberry preserves
8 ounce bar of bittersweet chocolate
Powdered sugar for dusting

1. On low speed, using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment mix all the dry ingredients together for about 30 seconds.

2. Add butter and mix well until the dough starts sticking together. Be patient, this did not happen as quickly as I thought it would. If it is taking to long try coaxing the dough to form by increasing the speed briefly.

3. Bring the dough together on a work surface and form one big ball. Divide it into four equal pieces.

4. line a baking pan ( at least 9"x 4 x whatever length you have at hand). Roll each piece of dough about 1/8" thick to fit the pan you are using. All pieces should be equal in size (or as equal as possible, no worries if it is not perfect).

5. Place a layer of dough on the bottom of the pan (I added plastic wrap underneath going up the sides so the dough would be easy to remove). Spread a very thin layer of preserves on top of the dough. Keep layering dough and preserves, ending with the dough.

6. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, about two hours or overnight.

7. Preheat oven to 325 degF. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and spray with some pam or something like that. Release dough from the pan and cut into very thin slices (about 1/4"). Place slices in pan and bake until set. (Depending on your oven this can vary, start checking at 10 minutes, also the lighter your pan is the paler it maybe darker pans make cookies bake darker and more unevenly).

8. While the cookies cool, melt your favorite chocolate. I am assuming you know how to melt. remember don't overheat it or it will seize (clump up and be no good).

9. To finish your treats dip on end of the cookie in the chocolate and set on parchment paper. You could either refrigerate the cookies until the chocolate is set, or you can wait it out at room temperature.

10. Once set dust the chocolate with powdered sugar and Enjoy!

Mix it up....You could use any powdered nut for this as well as preserve.
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