Disney’s “Frozen”-themed Cake – decorated with images of Elsa, Olaf and some snowflakes, all made of chocolate. Price available upon request.
“the cold never bothered me anyway”-not!
I am not in my element in extremely cold places. Whenever I visit my sisters in New York, I easily get the shivers even if the temps are in the high 50s. It was spring the last time I was there, in May 2013, and I got a bad case of colds and allergies. So bad that I could not breathe as my nose was so stuffy. Having allergic rhinitis made matters worse. That’s what I got from going on an hour’s run in the park on a chilly morning (at least for me), with pollen flying around and me not wearing enough layers. To quote Charles Dickens, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. For me.
Now what’s all this talk about the cold and the chills when the Philippines is experiencing one of the hottest summer ever this time of the year? Because my next project was a “Frozen”-themed cake. Dr. M_ asked me if I can make a cake along this line for her little girl Lexie. Naturally, I was thrilled. First, the good doctor is a loyal client. Second, I also made Lexie’s cake when she turned one (the cake theme then was Angry Birds). Third, they are just a stone’s throw away from where I live. Neat!
Frozen, a movie so popular it made Idina Menzel a household name and spawned the Adele Dazeem name generator. And. I. Haven’t. Watched. It. Though it posed no problem to my project, I felt a bit disconnected to the characters I was drawing in chocolate. But hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.
I had a great time creating the cake. Dr. M_ sent me some photos and seeing Lexie with the cake was good enough for me. Thank you Dr. M_ for the continued patronage!
July 23rd, 2014
Beer and Bacon Cupcakes – cupcakes infused with San Miguel Premium All-Malt Beer with bacon bits on top. Price available upon request.
iba ang may pinagsamahan
The combo of beer and bacon in a cupcake might sound strange but surprisingly it works. You just have to look for or create the right recipe if you want the beer taste to stand out because as with all alcoholic beverages, beer easily gets baked out.
But why beer and bacon? I was preparing for a Father’s Day cupcake and I thought of chocolate and bacon. As I was searching for recipes, I came across a better fusion: beer and bacon. Game on!
The most popular recipes I found combine dark beer with chocolate. Sounds intriguing, right? So I put that on top of my list. Our nearest supermarket does not carry the beer called for (Guinness or Narragansett) so I just reached for the local version which is San Miguel’s Cerveza Negra. My test cake yielded a fluffy texture, great chocolate flavor but hardly a beer taste. I mean there is something different in there but you cannot place what it is. You will not really detect it’s there unless you are in on the secret. The cupcakes were delicious actually and even the youngsters in our house (aged 13-19, I swear!) gobbled them up, unfrosted. For the frosting, I first tried cream cheese with maple syrup and bacon drippings. It was too sweet for my palate but the youngsters preferred it. I frosted the remaining ones with ganache and to me and the other adults, it was perfect for the cupcakes.
I have never fried a bacon in my life. I hate frying more than anything because I don’t relish dodging hot sputtering oil. It’s a good thing bacon can be baked and this method is easier. You don’t have to flip the pieces because they bake evenly, you can cook a lot in one go, clean up is a breeze, you get them nice and crispy all the time and you don’t have to endure burns on your arms and hands. What’s not to love? More on how to bake your bacon later.
While the chocolate beer and bacon cupcakes I made looked good and tasted awesome, I felt they were impostors because the beer flavor I was looking for just wasn’t in it. I chanced upon Guinness in another supermarket so I tried again. Same results, just more chocolaty.
I tried another recipe that was like a vanilla cupcake with beer. I used San Miguel Premium All-Malt Beer because I am patriotic that way even if I am not a beer drinker. Of course I sipped some and tried to fathom why people are addicted to the stuff. All I can say is that beer is not that bad after all and it is really best when chugged ice-cold.
The batter for this cupcake was too watery and just as I suspected when I slid them in the oven, they turned out gummy. But the beer flavor was intact. I turned to another recipe and this time the cupcakes turned out to my liking. To boost the beer flavor, I poked holes on the cupcakes and poured a tablespoon more of beer per cupcake. I also used whipped cream with beer for the frosting which was perfect because it looked like beer foam. And for the “crowning glory”, bacon bits on the border.
I liked this golden beer version better because the beer taste is there. It was somewhat sweet because San Miguel Premium is sweet. The cupcakes also stay moist even right out of the fridge. Naturally, the younger members of our household were a bit turned off, repulsed even, because they said they were too “beer-y.” Perfect!
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how to bake bacon
I shun the act of frying food not because I am not a fan of grease but because I hate getting splattered with hot oil. Baking is the way to go when you want your bacon crisp and perfect all the time. Here’s how:
1. Line a baking sheet with foil. If your oven can handle it, you can bake two batches at a time.
2. Arrange bacon side by side but don’t let them overlap.
3. Turn oven to 400 deg F. Some say it is best to bake it without preheating the oven while others preheat theirs. I really don’t know if there is a difference because I have tried both methods. Baking time depends on the thickness of your bacon. The key is just to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.
4. Bake for about 12 – 15 mins, checking them for doneness near the end of baking time.
5. As soon as they turn golden brown, take them out of the oven and transfer at once to a paper towel-lined plate.
6. You can collect the the fat from the pan, store it in the ref and save it for other uses. Enjoy!
June 15th, 2014
Red, Black, White – cupcakes with red and black flowers molded from chocolate modelling paste. Price available upon request.
surprises and navigating a road less traveled
Our “honorary” sister M._ recently asked me if I can make cupcakes for her niece’s 18th birthday. They were to be a surprise gift as M._ is in the US. The celebration’s motif was red, black and white. I initially thought of making red velvet cupcakes frosted with cream cheese and topped with black flowers. But M._ said she prefers chocolate so chocolate (devil’s food chocolate) it is.
The venue was in far away Quezon City and with all the weekend EDSA road reblocking due to repairs, I knew it will take us quite a while to arrive at our destination. I was constantly tracking the traffic situation online prior to our departure. I always want to be an early bird because I don’t want to be caught setting up while the event is about to start. I was also worried that with the hot Philippine weather coupled with traffic, the whipped cream icing and chocolate toppers might soften. Fortunately, there were no major hiccups and we arrived on schedule.
As I was setting up, we met with M._, the mother of the birthday girl and boy was she really surprised! She thought her sister was coming to the Philippines because she was asking all sorts of questions about the party. I found out that the birthday was actually last January. They moved it to March because the family in the US had plans to attend the celebration and make it as a reunion as well. Unfortunately, the family matriarch got sick so the plan changed. But as the saying goes, the party must go on. It had to as there was no room for a third postponement!
We decided to take another route going home and it turned out to be quite an adventure. As I was unfamiliar with the area, I missed one crucial turn. All roads lead to another so I just relied on my memory and kept my eyes peeled for road signs. I joked to my niece who was left home that she should have gone with us because we were able to tour Manila and see Mabuhay Rotunda, the University of Sto. Tomas (UST), Quiapo Church, Manila City Hall and Intramuros. We got home safely albeit very thirsty and hungry – we were out on the road for four hours!
M._ later sent me a message that everyone was impressed with the look and taste of the cupcakes and they were very much appreciated by her family. I really had fun with this project. And hey, that’s what sisters are for!
March 19th, 2014
Monster High Cake and Cupcakes Project - cake and cupcakes decorated with the popular Monster High logo. Price available upon request.
When my grade school classmate M._ asked me if I can make a Monster High cake and cupcakes for his little girl, I initially thought the characters were Scully and Mike and Randall from Monsters University. I have never heard of Monster High. Apparently, there is a popular series in Cartoon Network featuring these characters. Hmmm, where did Kim Possible go?
I decided to make the Monster High logo Skullette as the decoration for the cake and cupcakes. As usual, they were made from chocolate. I also used the Monster High font for the lettering on the cake. Fortunately, I was able to find the male counterpart of Skullette (with hair!) although I gather that he is not as popular.
While working, one of my unfinished cupcake toppers fell. As I lifted the wax paper backing from the floor, the still warm chocolate left an eerie imprint. With those large and dark shiny eyes staring at you, who would not be creeped out?
The cake and cupcakes made it to the birthday girl’s classroom. My classmate Dr. M._ (he is a surgeon now) told me the children were so delighted and were shouting in glee when they saw the cupcakes. And that was enough to make my day. Thanks again, classmate!
March 18th, 2014
Mickey Mouse v.2 – cake decorated with Mickey Mouse image made of chocolate and cupcakes featuring Mickey’s ears. Price available upon request.
“M-I-C-K-E-Y-M-O-U-S-E” (from the Mickey Mouse Club theme song)
I was not really a big fan of Mickey Mouse when I was younger. Maybe because we weren’t exposed to him and his gang while we were growing up. My siblings and I were more into Sesame Street (which we watched everyday on TV). My first trip to Disneyland was when I was already out of college and working. We made a side trip to Anaheim, California prior to my sister’s wedding in New York and yes I admit, spending a day in the happiest place on earth was one of our most unforgettable vacations. That was the first and last time we were able to trick my mother to go with us in the Bobsled ride. Sure we got an earful after but my sisters and I were laughing so hard that getting scolded did not matter. I also lost my sunglasses during the climactic drop at the end of the Splash Mountain ride. So much for my attempt at trying to look hip!
We didn’t buy any toys of some sort, just a couple of keychains as souvenirs. And that my friends describes the degree of our family’s fascination with all things Mickey. Everything changed, though, when Disney bought Pixar. And that’s another story!
Anyhoo, when I got this inquiry about a Mickey Mouse-themed cake and cupcakes, I immediately suggested Mickey Mouse toppers made of chocolate, just like what I did for a previous project. M._ , however, told me she was on a budget – hey, who isn’t? I told her I will work around her budget and that her one year-old son will still have his Mickey Mouse party.
I decorated the cupcake with Mickey Mouse ears. The ears are made of chocolate and the cupcake base is vanilla studded with chunks of Oreos. Frosting was sweetened whipped cream. For the cake, I borrowed an image from the internet and worked my magic using chocolate. The birthday boy sure has a unique name.
When I talked to M._ afterwards, she said she was very impressed with the whole package, considering her tight budget, and that they enjoyed the cake so much (pairs well with coffee, she told me). As for me, I was just happy I delivered on my promise. Thanks, mommy M._!
March 17th, 2014