Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Candy striper cupcakes & Macaron!

An early afternoon potluck at my dear friend Tara's house (with her hilarious kid Esme) called for a fun little dessert. I made cocoa-crazy dark chocolate cupcakes, and since it was our friend Nadia's birthday and we hadn't yet celebrated, I made a cute little birthday announcement flag to make the cupcakes extra festive. The candy-striper cupcake liners were bought off of Etsy and I made vanilla coconut buttercream in a pale red, topped off with my old fave friend, Organic Raspberry!

The last picture is a gift from my sister Leanne, she just came back from three weeks in Japan! Macarons are all the rage there and this is a make-your-own macaron set. BUT... don't eat it!! Inside the box are plastic colorful puffed-out plastic macarons, and a bag filled with fluffy white glue stuff that looks exactly like a bag of frosting. There's also some sparkly little plastic jewels in which you can adorn the fluff once you've "piped" it between the macarons. Finally, attach the chain loop and you have a rippin' new keychain for you and three close friends! Excellent... and it's inspired me to make my own macarons, almond paste, lightly and delicately colored, with a piping of swiss meringue buttercream in the middle...!

Oh... and I also finally finished COCO CAKE! Go there and let me know what you think! Hooray for baking... !

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Crazy times for Coco Cake: Night For All Souls

Crazy day! This evening was Vancouver's Night For All Souls event at Mountainview Cemetary, a truly beautiful and contemplative evening run by artists, a night to remember those who have passed and to honor them with art, music, ceremonies and song, bouquets of fresh flowers, candles, notes, flags and celebration.

I was asked to create a selection of dessert items for this event, and with the Day of the Dead theme in my mind, I went for a selection of colorful candied chocolate cake skulls, mini tres leches cakes and... well, not very Mexican Day of the Dead, but dainty little pink buttercream vanilla tea cakes to accompany the tea pouring that would be warming up the chilly cemetary goers.

It was super cool because they had a find-a-grave service, and my husband and I managed to maneuver the darkness with a candle (and our cell phone lights--- extreme nerd alert) to find my great-grandfather's headstone! I put together a bouquet of roses and mums for him, and wrote a little note as well. He died two days before I was born, so I never knew him but have heard many stories about him from my grandma. It was the first time I felt I spent time with him!

I made 75 mini skulls, 75 buttercream vanilla tea cakes for cemetery-goers and 30 mini tres leches (three milks!) cakes for the hardworking volunteers. For the mini skulls, I followed the general Bakerella idea of dipping chocolate cake balls (or in this case, skull-shapes which I shaped by hand!) into melted candy, letting it set then decorating. I used royal icing to pipe the skull faces on. If you ever attempt to do this, it's imperative that you do not overheat the candy melts, or get even a drip of water in it--they lose their dipping consistency and it's a real drag to waste!

The pink buttercream vanilla tea cakes are pretty self-explanatory! I used these adorable pink-and-brown design cupcake liners I bought off of Etsy, a great site for finding cool handmade crafty things as well as vintage plates, clothing and baking supplies even! Vanilla sheet cake sliced into squares and topped with a buttercream flower.

The tres leches ended up being quatro leches-- I finished them with a dollop of fresh whipped cream to kick it up to quatro, with a tiny mint leaf and a fresh organic raspberry! I adore the look of berries adorning cakes and cupcakes...! Tres leches gets such a name because the trick to the cake is to soak it with a mixture of, yep, three milks. Condensed, evaporated and coconut milk is what I used.

So we've rented 2DVDs ("The Long Goodbye" and "The Killing Of Sister George") and I'm about to kick back and relax. Yay for crazy baking jobs!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tokyo Banana-- Sing To Tune of "Buffalo Soldier"

In 2001 a small obsession began. This obsession began in Tokyo, Japan in a tiny hotel, staying with my sister on tatami mats. We are a Chinese family, but this particular sister Leanne is who we call the "Japanese sister" because she loves all things Japan. "Breakfast!" Leanne said one morning before we hit the streets of Tokyo.

Unwrap a pale yellow paper wrapped box that reads TOKYO BANANA, open the shiny white box that says TOKYO BANANA, unwrap the Tokyo Banana and you have a most wonderful cake treat. Sitting in its plastic tray made just for it, Tokyo Banana is a soft and moist banana-shaped sponge cake, with a very delicious creamy banana filling. It is the Twinkie of Japan, and it is a small obsession of mine. Recently I was lucky enough to receive a box of this treasure upon my parents' return from Japan. In the future I will attempt to make a version of TOKYO B in my very own kitchen. Will it ever compare?? Dare to compare...

"People gather to TOKYO from here and there with memories of their home. And then, TOKYO gets everyone's home town. TOKYO BANANA."

Ain't it the truth, Tokyo Banana packaging.

"Tokyo Banana. In the arms of Lyndsay Sung. Oh yo yo, Oh yo yo yo, Oh yo yo yo yo Tokee oh yo."

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Lovely Fall Wedding Day... with Coco Cake!

For my good friend Miko's fall wedding on a sunday Thanksgiving afternoon, the pressure was on to devise the cutest of cupcakes for the cutest of gals. Miko has great style and taste-- (I got to see her wedding dress a few weeks ago, a silvery grey Vera Wang cocktail dress with a navy blue empress waistline band, and shiny burgundy open toed heels!)--thus the cupcakes would have to meet her high-adorability standards!

After a taste test, the requested cupcakes were coconut with raspberry jam filling and vanilla creamcheese frosting, and for cupcake flavour number two, dark chocolate with chocolate ganache buttercream! The weekend was spent preparing: I diligently and lovingly made fondant flower cut-outs in pink, blue and fuschia, adding silver dragees and white circle candies as centers, while my husband Rich polished away the tarnish on our collection of vintage silver platters. It was very cute to see him madly polishing-- there certainly is magic when the dark tarnish gives away to the brightest silver! Ingredients were laid out, cupcake liners were placed in muffin tins and the baking marathon began. A virtual kitchen explosion later and 120 cupcakes were baked, cooled, frosted, decorated and placed carefully in the most amazing of baking contraptions, the Cupcake Courier!

The wedding was beautiful-- fall colored flowers, a beautiful bride, handsome groom and a room full of love for them both. And... the cupcakes were a huge hit! I also made a mini chocolate cake covered with poured ganache and fuschia pink fondant flowers, and a homemade announcement flag! I was very pleased with how everything tasted and turned out. It was a special gift to a lovely couple.

What a day! And a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner at my auntie's topped off the evening. Good night!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Summer of '69

I could look at old photos forever. I just love them. Especially pictures of my parents! They were married in a church in Vancouver, with the first reception at Westin Bayshore and another one at Marco Polo, a now-gone fancy Chinese restaurant in Vancouver, with 500 guests! Check out that wedding cake. Royal icing madness, with dense fruit cake filling. Although I'm pretty sure most of the cake was a fakie for looks, with the actual serving cake likely in the hotel kitchen! I gotta ask my mom. Does anyone do the traditional wedding fruit cake with white icing anymore? My mom's bridesmaids wore butter yellow, with floppy yellow bows on their heads. Hmm, I'd like to try making the old-school fruit cake wedding cake. Maybe for my parents' 40th wedding anniversary? Or would they prefer the modern, trendy and adorable cupcake? Suddenly I have a deep interest in recreating an old-school cake...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Gems Of Times Past

Glossy pink seven-minute frosting, those beloved maraschino cherry chunkers in festive red and emerald green floating in a chiffon cake. Plus: chocolate mega party decorated with what looks like brazil nuts or skinned almonds dotted with more chocolate? Eggggcellent...

"Just one, dear!" Oh, the lucky bride-to-be and her display of petit fours at her second wedding shower! The prim white gloves daintily lifting a marzipan and poured fondant greenie. "Why can't I be you?"

Happy Birthday to me. Happy Birthday to me. Happy Birthday pink cake, happy birthday to me! The fine and steady hands that made the pattern on this one deserves a trophy with a bronzed cake on top. Not to mention a head nod or two towards the appealing food photography.

Sue, you lucky dog! Your sister and mum made these mini poured fondant covered cakes just for you! Happy 40th Birthday!