Monday, February 27, 2012

Nursing & Cats Cake, Panda Cake

This week I made a cake for a special girl whose turning 6 on February 29th, yup the 29th!! LOL, so with a birthday that come every 4 years, she is would then be actually 24 years old. (o^.^o)

Her wonderful boyfriend have came and asked me to design a cake around a nursing theme, I'm guessing she is in school for that field.   Cats was also one of her favorite animals, so I was ask to incorporate them in the cake.  I remember she also loves pandas since I had made her birthday cake last year. (shown in picture below) 

To start off the cake, I made a vintage styled nursing uniform dressed on a mannequin, of course with my own twist of style to it. Then I asked myself what do I think of when I think of the word "Nurse" then I just started to add the details.  I made medicine being spilled out of it's orange container and a stethoscope as the border around the cake, I was also going to add a needle but I'm SO afraid of sharp needles so I was a little, okay...very, afraid to actually make it.  Since the cake is from her boyfriend, I couldn't help but add a heart in there too! >.^ and that lead me to another detail of the heart reading, added with a little twist in there.  if you can see what is different with the readings, wink.  The birthday girl loves chocolate, yet not much of a fan of too much cream, so you can guess what she probably got for her cake!  Yup! a chocolate cake with milk chocolate ganache  & strawberry mousse.  Normally bittersweet ganache is used but the boyfriend was worried not everyone likes dark chocolate so he settle for milk chocolate.  Still yummy yummy!

Overall, I liked how the cake turned out and I was very happy to hear that the birthday girl loved her cake & she had said she almost didn't have the heart to eat it since it was so cute! I'm always thrilled to hear things like that because it shows that I've accomplished my goal, that everyone should feel special and have the most memorable birthday.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Frog Prince Cake, Bacon-Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Cream Cheese and Almonds

Happy Birthday Winnie! and Yinshu!

Boy oh boy, I'm so behind on updating my blog.  Anyways, my friend, Winnie's birthday was on the 10th of this month.  I had many cake orders that week, but I managed to squeeze some time in and pulled an all-nighter just to finished this birthday cake for her. For those who knew her,  Winnie absolutely LOVES frogs...[well, tree dwarf frogs to be exact]  I chose to just make her a cute little green frog that's, well...more appealing to everyone. : )  I threw a little crown on and a golden ball in to turn it into a fairytale, after all, which girl won't hope that the next guy she kiss will be her Prince Charming?! However, Fate loves to play games and many girls will kiss many frogs before finding her Prince or sadly just end up marrying a Toad!  I found my prince so I do wish my Princess Winnie will also find hers and have a happily ever after.<3

Ok, back to reality; I had tried really hard to obtain this specific shade of Turquoise/Aqua color that she like, maybe not quite but close enough.  Inside the cake is her absolute favorite flavor; Matcha Chiffon Cake w/ Matcha Mascarpone Mousse! favorite too!  I was notified at the last minute that there is another girl, Yinshu, with the same birthday as Winnie who happened to be attending the birthday dinner that night.  I really dont know the girl so I end up making a teddie bear with her initial, so she may feel included.   I havent had anyone remember or celebrate my birthday for almost 10 years, sighs, so I know how bad it feels to be left out and forgotten, wipes tears

Yes, the top comes off so she can keep the sugar topper! Me (LEFT) Winnie (RIGHT)

We went to dinner at the Mercat a la Planax, a wonderful Spanish Restaurant with a nice atmosphere and exceptional food.  It's located on the Magnificent Miles of downtown Chicago.  just beautiful.
We had a party of 8 and practically shared everything so everyone can have a taste of everything.
One dish that gave me the strongest impression is the dish called Paella Negra with Lobster, Scallops, Shrimp, Mussels, Cooked in Squid Ink served with Artichoke & Tomato Salad and Saffron Aioli.   It's also the most expensive dish, $75! and that "lobster" is actually half a lobster tail, barely 2 bites of meat.  This is going to be my next experiment, to try and recreate the dish. >.^
However, there is another dish I enjoyed, it's called
DÁtiles CON ALMENDRAS - Bacon-Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Almonds.  I actually did try it out at home, although it didn't quite come out exactly like the ones in the restaurant but I'm definitely trying it out again very soon!

Bacon-Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Cream Cheese and Almonds
  • 12  (1/4-inch thick) pieces cream cheese or goat cheese ^^
  • 12 pitted dates (preferably Medjool)
  • 12 salted and roasted whole almonds
  • 6 strips of bacon cut in half
  • Special equipment: 18 wooden picks
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Stuff 1 piece of cheese and 1 almond into each date, then wrap one piece of bacon around each date and secure bacon with a toothpick if desired. Arrange dates, bacon seam down and 1 inch apart in a shallow baking pan.
Bake 5 minutes, then turn dates over with tongs and bake until bacon is crisp, [make sure its very crisp] 5 to 6 minutes more. Drain on a paper towel or parchment. Serve immediately.


I actually made another Prince Frog cake like, wow, 2 years ago.  That was the time when I actually just started making cakes.  Boy, you can see the difference right? hahaha

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Lemon Goat Cheese Cheesecakes, Domo sugar topper

I love going to grocery stores and Whole Foods is one of them.  I don't know if its the piles and piles of neatly stacked fruits and vegetables that fascinate me or it just I love anything in it's natural form, do you get me? hahaha.   So during my recent trip to Whole Foods,  these round oranges piled up at one end of the aisles caught my eyes, I rushed over & start sniffing them. Do you know how much I love drinking fresh squeezed orange juice or the scent of freshly grated orange zest?  You won't know til you've tried.  Anyways, so I start reading all the signs of all these different oranges, then I read Blood mindlessly 4 of these gorgeous crimson fleshed citrus made its way into my cart.  I don't know! I get attracted to non-common things for some reason.  This is going to be made into a sauce for my cheesecakes, Lemon Goat Cheese to be exact.

This, my honeys, is the Lemon Goat Cheese Cheesecakes, made with half cream cheese & half goat cheese.  My first encounter with these were on the infamous Tartlette's blog, trust me goat cheese is the last thing in my mind to put in a cheesecake.  I'm not a big crazed about anything Lamb or Goat,  I mean I will eat it if it's put in front of me but I wont put it as my first option.  However, I will never say I don't like something unless I try it at least once. [I do give second chances because I'm sure not everything is created equal, let alone cooking/baking skills >.^]

However, these are actually pretty good!  the Lemon comes to the tongue first then followed in by the obvious goat cheese taste, it has a very...ummm...goat-y? taste.  If you like lamb or goat you may like this very much, an adventure for daring/curious eaters & not much for people that don't enjoy the goat-y taste.  hahaha...I know goat-y is not a word but hey! its my expression hehehe.

Today is also Little Eddie's younger sister's 15th birthday! So he came to me asking me to make her a cake, like VERY last minute, all he said was "she likes Domo & chocolate" Then he asked me to make these sponge cakes filled with cream and fruits, like those typical cream cakes sold at chinese bakeries.  I kindly reminded him that its his sister's birthday, she like chocolate, then at least give her something chocolate.  At last, I did a compromised, I made a chocolate cake, filled with whipped cream & fruits, which I topped with a sugar topper of her favorite character, DOMO! <3

Happy15th Birthday Maggie!!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Snickerdoodle Cookies

I always read about people making these cookies with a cute name, Snickerdoodles; finally I get to make some.  Actually it was one day when one of my friends, Little Eddie, calls me up out of the blue and say "hey ----, can we make some Snickerdoodles?"  As always, I said "Sure! why not, come on over" I never say no to a baking opportunity, especially when it comes to making something that I probably put at the end of my long loooooooong To-Bake list, hehehehe.   Well at least now there is one extra check on my list! Yay!

Ok, so we had 2 recipes to try.  One recipe was from that he had looked up and mines was from baking folder, lol... j/k, it's listed with the recipe.

Snickerdoodle Cookies
To me Snickerdoodle actually is/tasted like sugar cookies rolled in Cinnamon & sugar.  Call me Asian but I might tone down on the sugar used to roll the cookies in because its a tad bit sweet, not overly sweet but enough for me to say no thanks after the first or second one.  I have a sensitive sweetness tolerance, common level for Asians though, gosh so hard to explain or there is no way to explain it clearly, but this cookie is good, enough said.
Try it for yourself if you interested, the recipe is the one I used.  I'll also recommend to half the recipe to try it first.

makes about 2 - 2.5 dozens 
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup salad oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
2 large eggs
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar & 1 tablespoon cinnamon for rolling cookies in 

Preheat oven to 375°F. 
  1.  Beat together butter, salad oil, granulated sugar, powdered sugar, and eggs. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Slowly beat flour mixture into the butter mixture. 
  2. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar and cinnamon. Shape dough into 1-inch balls, then roll each in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place balls 3 to 4 inches apart on baking sheet. With a flat-bottomed glass dipped in cinnamon-sugar, flatten each ball to about 1/4-inch.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until edges are slightly browned. Cool and then serve. 

Source: Sunset, 1998.

Snickerdoodle Cookies, cant have some without the MILK! 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sweetened Swallow's Nest Soup w/ Milk

Swallow's Nest Soup sweetened with rock sugar

this is my very first time making this simple yet amazing & nutritious soup.  It started recently with a trip to the grocery store with a friend.  We went grocery shopping and for some reason we stopped by this counter where they sell all these herbal "stuff" [well you know, they all have these hard to remember scientific names! >.<] but more or less, everything that is good and beneficial for your body aka ginseng, dried scallops...errr, and yea swallow's nest. hehehe. 

Gosh, you can really call me a ABC [American Born Chinese] half the things the man at the counter tells me just leads to a big question mark "?" But all I heard was Swallow's Nest, good for body, beautifying abilities for women, nutritious for young and old.  OK! You got me on the Beauty part!

oh, did I tell you it also gave me a heart attack? I was all excited and forgot about the price until checkout...
1 ounce for $100!!!!!!!!!!!!  Well, for my families sake I guess a nice treat once in a blue moon is all worth it. 

Swallow's Nest is actually the bird's saliva or their spit.  The edible bird's nests are among the most expensive animal products consumed by humans. The nests have been used in Chinese cooking for over 400 years, most often as the bird's nest soup.  Many other countries get disgusted by the word saliva, but the nests actually have high levels of calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium, so its not eaten for nothing.

Swallow's Nest Soup [sweetened version]
- serves about 3-4 

4 pieces Swallow's Nest any brand, but be cautious of fake ones
4 cups of water for soaking
2 cups of water for the soup, I use filtered water, bottled water is fine also
rock sugar/candy add a big block or two depending on preferred sweetness
milk or evaporated milk optional
  1. soak the Swallow's Nest in the water for 4 hours.  The proportion of swallow's nest & water is 1:1, adjust, as you may or may not need more.
  2. Pour out water, put the Swallow's Nest in a steaming jar with the 2 cups of filtered water & your preferred amount of rock sugar, I put 3 big chunks, since I'll dilute the sweetness with added milk.  
  3. Carefully place the jar in a bigger pot with water up to half the height of jar and let water boil for 1 hour, steaming the jar [like a water bath for your cheesecakes]
  4. I like mines chilled so after cooling I have it sit in fridge and have it for breakfast ^^
    and I added some milk in there for a delicious smooth dessert like soup that's actually good for your body! My baby gobbled it up in no time! >.^

    I LOVED IT! wish I can have this every day for breakfast, lol!