Gingerbread Cupcakes – cupcakes that taste like the holiday cookie frosted with a swirl of vanilla whipped cream and topped with a chocolate gingerbread figure. Price available upon request.
christmas is coming!
I have never eaten a proper gingerbread man until last year when I bought a box of those cookies from Marks and Spencer. Gingerbread is not big in the Philippines but ginger root is. And ginger tea or salabat as we call it is as popular here during the holidays as hot cocoa is to the USA. I remember when I was young, gingersnap cookies were available in the supermarket and we used to buy some to bring to school as recess fare. However, for some reason they faded into oblivion which was such a shame as I enjoyed them very much.
I love baking cookies but I don’t have the patience to make cut-out ones so I never attempted to make gingerbread boys and girls. When I came across a recipe for gingerbread cupcakes, I was so excited to try it I was over the moon. But then I fell down to earth fast just as I had one bite of the finished product. It was too molassesy for my taste – ugh!
I was about to try the Chai-Tea Mini Cupcakes from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes book when I chanced upon the Gingerbread Cupcakes recipe. To my delight, it called for only 3 tablespoons of molasses for 22 cupcakes. And to my additional delight, they baked perfectly well! I was skeptical at first because there was no leavening. I frantically searched for reviews online of the cupcakes and one blogger said that beating the egg well is they key to make them rise. I do not know if that is true but I was indeed astonished when I peeked in the oven and saw that the cupcakes have risen significantly. And. They. Taste. Awesome.
Because the cupcakes already tasted like gingerbread cookies, I decided to just frost them with vanilla whipped cream. And as I mentioned earlier, making rolled-out cookies is not my cup of tea so I just fashioned the gingerbread figure topper out of chocolate. I must say that this is now among my favorite cupcakes. I could eat several in just one sitting. And there goes my diet!
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Gingerbread Cupcakes, makes 22 – (from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons unsulfured molasses
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together flour and spices.
2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the molasses and beat until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture, beating until just combined.
3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Top with frosting of your choice.
November 27th, 2014
Pop Art Cake – three-tiered cake of different flavors covered in white chocolate. Price available upon request.
pop goes the world …
I have never done a three-tier cake project before so when my good friend and namesake R._ asked if I can make such for her daughter’s 18th birthday, I knew I had my work cut out for me. The theme of the celebration was Pop Art and was conceptualized by the birthday girl’s elder sister. She gave me several ideas and color palettes. I was initially hesitant about the cake being three-tier but she was insistent. Besides, how can I turn down a challenge when I knew in my mind I can do it? Bring it on, baby!
Because the client wanted a matte look, I decided to use white chocolate as cake cover. For the first tier, I made a butter cream cake with hidden polka dots inside. It was an inspired choice but not an original one. I had to research how to do it (you can also make your own if you follow the instructions here) and made a test cake to see if my dots inside the cake will behave. I was happy with the results and happier that I have something to nibble on while I work on the project.
Second tier was chocolate chip cake. Just because it goes well with white chocolate. I would have wanted to make all tiers edible but budget-wise, the bottom tier had to be faux cake which was fine with the client.
White chocolate softens in warm temperatures so I had to be careful while enrobing the cake. The idea was to leave the lower tiers bare for the guests to decorate it. I made gel icing. I also prepared chocolate-dipped cookies that spelled out “happy birthday”. They were supposed to be attached to the cake. Unfortunately, the venue’s AC was on full blast drying out the cake’s coating’s natural moisture. Good thing there were enough icing for the guests to play with. Phew!
It was nice to see again my schoolmate from elementary until high school. I made the cake for her little boy way back and now it was her daughter’s turn to have a cake from me. From the photos I saw of the celebration, everybody had a grand time. It was a sweet gathering and I was glad I was part of it. Cheers to the birthday girl!
November 2nd, 2014
Guardians of the Galaxy Cassette Tape Cake – inspired by the movie of the same name. Price available upon request.
I haven’t watched the movie but with all the press releases, I felt as if I did. I adore Andy Dwyer*, I mean Chris Pratt, but I have never watched any of his movies, only the hilarious show Parks and Recreation where his character Andy Dwyer always leaves me in stitches. When my cousin J._ asked me to bake a Guardians of the Galaxy cassette tape cake for her daughter, my niece who was turning 13, I had some trepidations. She sent me a photo for reference and I in turn called on my faithful friend Google to help me. So I found a site detailing how to make this cake; thank you The Chic Site!
I made the cakes for Gwen’s fourth and eleventh birthday. J._ told me if I can frost the cake with the chocolate buttercream that they all so love. But I was going to use white chocolate modelling clay in order to get the colors of Peter Quill’s cassette tape right. I just warned her that they should be prepared to have black tongues, teeth and lips once they eat the cake.
I used my chocolate chip cake as base because it is sturdy enough to carry the weight of the chocolate coating. It was indeed a challenging project and backbreaking at that. But we bakers are gluttons for punishment, so there.
I was glad the birthday girl, her family and guests enjoyed the cake. J._’s sister has reserved her own cake for her birthday this December. And the photo below said it all. Now excuse me while I download the movie for watching later.
October 30th, 2014
my very own ramen burger
I’m not really much into food trends. Meaning, I will not go out of my way to queue up in a restaurant/cafe/bakeshop just to get my hands on the flavor of the month. Truth to tell, I haven’t even tasted a cronut yet.
When I heard about the ramen burger and saw how one can recreate it at home, I thought it was worth a try. First off, I love instant ramen. It has been part of my childhood when there were only two flavors available back then: chicken and beef. What we loved about it was that it came with sesame oil along with the seasoning packet. And it was made in Japan so there’s the authenticity factor.
I also remember having those cup noodles as midnight snack during our flights from Manila-New York-Manila. When local companies inundated the market with their version of instant noodles, our Japanese favorite somewhat disappeared. But now they’re back and with a variety of flavors to boot.
For my rendition, I used my sister’s hamburger recipe. It has soy sauce as an ingredient which I thought was perfect. And because I am obsessed with baking everything, I baked the beef patties. As I assembled the “sandwich”, I used Japanese roasted sesame as dressing, put some romaine lettuce (I’m not a fan of arugula) and added seasoned seaweeds for texture and crunch (as suggested by my nephew P._). And I sprinkled some toasted black sesame seeds on top of the buns.
Verdict: It truly was an unusual, savory burger. P._ said that putting cheese on it was not a good idea. The dressing certainly elevated the burger. The seaweeds, as expected, got soggy in a few minutes; maybe they would be better as a side item, like what french fries are to regular burgers. And my testers swore they could eat the ramen buns alone and still be happy. Yes, I would do that, too, especially if the buns are browned to the point that they are crispy. Overall, it is not something that I would look for when I am hungry. I would still choose the noodle soup any time, instant or the fancy one served in restaurants.
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*To make the ramen buns, cook noodles according to instructions. If there are seasoning packets, add them to the noodles once drained. Cool for a few minutes, then add 1 egg and mix thoroughly. Divide into ramekins, cover with plastic wrap and stack with a bottle or can to flatten the noodles. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Add oil (you can use sesame oil) to a heated pan, fry the bun until golden brown, about 4 minutes, then flip.
October 10th, 2014
Barbie Doll Cake and Cupcakes Project – Barbie doll with a gown made of cake and cupcakes with chocolate toppers featuring the Barbie logo. Price available upon request.
i’m a barbie girl . . .
I have never owned a Barbie doll in my life. It was so expensive back then and we being five girls in all, our parents never spoiled us with toys because money was set aside for the more important stuff. My sisters and I, we never complained; we just amused ourselves with whatever toys were on hand. Paper dolls were big at that time. Sometimes we would make our own dolls from cardboard and cut dresses from colorful magazine pages. Yes, we did have the regular plastic dolls but then, we were not much into toys anyway. We spent a lot of time outdoors running around, playing badminton, hide and seek or chinese garter. It was only my youngest sister who became so enamored with dolls but I don’t remember if she ever asked for a Barbie.
When I got the call for this project, I was not sure if I can pull it off because I have never made something like this. Initially, what I had in mind was to make the Barbie image cake topper with chocolate. But M._ told me she wanted the “doll” cake for her daughter and sent me photos for reference. M._ is a sister of a loyal client so I could not refuse. Enter Google. As I searched online for instructions on how to make this cake, I told M._ that if I have to provide the doll, she will have to shell out more since the doll alone costs a lot. She said she will lend me one of her daughter’s dolls which has a built-in bodice.
Typhoon Glenda nearly sabotaged this project because a few days before this was due, Glenda came bringing with her a massive power outtage that lasted for days. I already texted M._ that if there was no electricity yet by Friday (delivery date was Sunday), then the project would have to be shelved. Fortunately, power was restored in the nick of time. Back to regular programming!
I needed a sturdy cake because the layers have to be stacked high so I used my golden butter cream cake recipe. I threw in some colorful sprinkles in the batter to liven things up. I baked one cake in a bowl to get the dome shape and the rest were baked in regular pans. I do not have a round cookie cutter so I relied on my DIY skills and used a champange glass to cut holes in the center of the baked cakes where the doll will be inserted. Barbie’s waist down to her legs were covered in plastic wrap to protect the doll from the whipped cream icing. The flowers on her gown were made of chocolate.
The cupcakes did not require much work as the cake did. Toppers were hand drawn using chocolate. Frosting was also whipped cream. I think I overdid it with the pink but hey, Barbie is mostly pink so there.
Thank you, weather gods for clearing the skies; thank you Meralco for restoring power in the nick of time; and thank you mommy M._ for your trust.
September 4th, 2014