Disney Princesses Cake Project – sheet cake decorated with hand-drawn chocolate images of Disney Princesses. Price available upon request.
today is my birthday and i’m a princess!
Most girls dream of being a princess but that excluded me when I was younger. Although I read a lot of fairy tales growing up, I just wasn’t drawn to that kind of world. Tiaras, ball gowns, castles, pomp and pageantry never interested me. Prince Charming or a knight in shining armor, you say? Hmm, that’s another story!
Dr. M._ emailed me about a princess cake for her niece’s first birthday. I had already done a princess cake and cupcakes project but the theme for this party was specific: Disney princesses.
Since I don’t have any chocolate molds for these, I searched online for images of Disney princesses and made my usual chocolate toppers using the chocolate method (tracing the image with chocolate and filling them in with colored chocolate).
The cake requested was chocolate marble. I frosted it with whipped cream and added chocolate tiaras to the decorations to complete the “royalty” theme.
Chocolate Basil Cupcake – rich chocolate cupcake baked with fresh basil, frosted with dark chocolate ganache infused with fresh basil and decorated with chocolate leaves. Price available upon request.
herbs in your cupcake
I first tasted basil cake in InterContinental Manila Hotel during lunch years ago to celebrate my sister’s birthday. I always head to the dessert section in buffets because aside from being a sweets person, as a baker I always want to try the creations of others especially those that intrigue me.
The cake had me at first bite—it was delicious! It wasn’t really a fancy cake, just a plain small square that you can spear with a toothpick but it packed a lot of flavor. Note to self: must bake this! I even had my mother plant a seedling which died months later much to our dismay. I think bugs were the culprit.
Though testing this cupcake got pushed to the backburner, I never forgot how good the InterCon cake was. Just this month while on a trip to Cartimar, I found fresh basil being sold by my mother’s favorite vegetable purveyor. I thought it was time for me to get down to business!
I have long bookmarked this recipe I found online. It called for a food processor to facilitate the chopping of basil—it was processed with the sugar. I don’t own such an equipment so I chopped the basil manually and also included some sugar in the mix while doing so.
I love the aroma of basil and when I had a bite of the baked cupcake, I loved its flavor even more. This definitely belongs to my cupcake flavor favorites. Paired with dark chocolate ganache infused with basil, I must say it’s the epitome of perfection!
* * *
I had no idea that my mother snitched some basil from the batch we bought in Cartimar. She put them in water and a few days later roots appeared on the stem. We didn’t know that basil can thrive that way but I have heard of a method like that and it is called hydroponics.
Hydroponics, as defined by hydroponics.com, is the cultivation of plants in a nutrient solution rather than in soil. Although popular in other countries, growing produce using this system is somewhat new to the Philippines. I’m sure a few of us have put some plants in just water-filled containers, sometimes with added pebbles like how some maintain fortune plants. Yes sir/ma’am, that is a form of hydroponics although liquid nutrients are seldom added to the water.
Hydroponics allow people to grow their own produce even with limited space because a tract of land is not necessary. Sometimes an empty PET bottle will suffice. The plant’s roots are suspended in the container of choice filled with minimal water enriched with essential minerals to nourish the plant. Hobbyists especially those who do not have a backyard for planting will surely take to this.
A high school classmate of mine is growing her garden via the hydroponics route. She has been called “obsessed” by her family but she does not care, aherm. She loves the system because for a hobbyist like her it is easy: there is no need to water the plants everyday (conserves water!), she doesn’t need to buy soil for planting, and it allows her to enjoy working in her tiny but abundant garden from where she plucks fresh basil for a pesto pasta or cherry tomatoes for tuna pasta. Hmm, maybe it’s time for me to pay her a visit so I can savor all those good and healthy stuff! Paging L._!
So what happened to my mother’s basil-in-a-liquid detergent cup-experiment? It went from this …
… to this – in just a matter of days.
I noticed that roots will appear after three days and will continue to grow long as they drink from the water. Studies show that hydroponically grown plants mature faster allowing for shorter harvest time because the plants easily get the nutrients they need due to their direct access to water. Whereas when planted in soil, the roots expend some effort to locate the precious nutrients and this takes some time.
As I stared at the mass of roots of my mother’s basil-in-a-cup-of water-project, I can just imagine how those growth will be if the water is nutrient-rich. Umm, why do I have this vision of the enormous venus fly trap in the movie The Little Shop of Horrors? Hahaha! As they say, I watch too many movies. Besides, Audrey II IS a potted plant.
As of this writing, my mother has transferred her basil to the traditional soil medium. I, on the other hand, have started my own basil-in-a-water-filled-cup project. I need to get some of those nutrient solution from my friend if I want my project to succeed.
Let me just say that there is more to hydroponics than what I wrote here. It can be a simple setup like how my friend L._ has done in her garden and it can also be large-scale. In recent years commercial hydroponic greenhouses have sprouted and this endeavor entails large capital and more sophisticated growing methods—proper containers, equipment, and other necessary materials—to ensure the success of the project . There is actually a small community in the Philippines practicing this system of raising crops. You can watch the report here.
Lastly, I could not resist sharing this hilariously horrifying musical number from The Little Shop of Horrors. And let me repeat, hydroponically grown plants will not turn out like this. *wink* *wink*
Barney and Friends Cake and Cupcakes Project – cake decorated with Barney image made of chocolate; accompanying cupcakes decorated with Barney and Friends cupcake picks. Price available upon request.
hello baby rosette!
It’s always gratifying to know that your clients are satisfied with your products and service and hear how their guests raved about the cake and cupcakes you have done for the event. The “icing on the cake” is when clients rely on you again for their next event. It was heartening to get a call from I._ again. She has a new baby and the family was set to celebrate the first birthday as well christening of their newest member.
• 1 Birthday cake
• 175 cupcakes to accompany the cake, 100 pieces in individual boxes as party favors and 75 pieces for serving;
• 1 Christening cake
• 7 small cakes for the godparents
I had so many challenges with this project. First was storage space. We have two large refrigerators at home and I reckoned I still don’t need a standby chiller if I get a large order. Besides, my mother said we can always ask one of our neighbors to hold some of my cupcakes and cakes. Alas, when the time came, our neighbor said they gave away one of their refs and the remaining one is just enough for their everyday necessities. I kept repeating the phrase “positive thoughts, positive thoughts” in my head as that became my mantra. I mapped out our refs and declared that there should be no additional items to be put inside. I threw most of my stuff, some which were supposed to be thrown away ages ago in the first place (glazed fruits, anyone?).
Second was the quantity of the items to be done. I am no stranger to baking a hundred or so cupcakes in a day. I have done it before. Given that I don’t have a commercial-type oven but one that can handle two cupcakes trays in a go (although I think if I have an extra rack, I can bake four cupcake trays at the same time), I say it’s a mean feat.
I just don’t know why the Fates sometimes toy with me on opportune times. I already have my cupcake batter ready and they just need to be put in the oven when our LPG tank ran out. The replacement tank was leaking so bad I was so horrified and went to panic mode. I was ready to cry and said aloud how can this be happening? How am I supposed to finish everything with only a day to go before the project’s due date? My mind was so messed up maybe because of all the baking and standing up all day and night and getting very little sleep. I was so sure my father wanted to slap my face but instead he told me not to panic, that he will take care of it. So while he went out to get a new tank, I put the prepared batter in the refrigerator and started frosting the christening cake instead. I was sitting down when I was slathering the ganache on the cake and that really calmed me down.
In the end, things went back to their proper order and all was perfect in my universe again. And I ended up frosting all the cupcakes that same night, thank you very much.
The theme for the birthday was Barney and Friends. For the cake, I used whipped cream as frosting and decorated it with a hand drawn chocolate image of Barney.
The cupcakes sported whipped cream swirls and DIY Barney and Friends cupcake picks.
The christening cake was a take on my go-to design. The blocks of letters were brownies covered in marzipan and the booties were chocolate.
The seven godparents were presented with small cakes as gratitude for their acceptance of the responsibility of being second parents to Rosette.
I was unable to catch I._ during the the event. I finished my set up but the family was still in church for the baptismal rites. It was nice to reconnect with I._ again albeit just through emails and Facebook. I also made the cake and cupcakes for her eldest daughter’s first birthday and now that little girl will be turning four this September!
Thanks I._ for the continued trust. All the best to you and your family as you continue your life together in a foreign place.
Camera Cake - edible camera in cake form! Price available upon request.
I was deep in my Christmas baking—so many orders to fulfill!— when a text message from R._ came. Our high school batch planned a surprise birthday party for a friend and she being a newbie photography enthusiast, R._ thought a camera cake would be apt for the celebration. I have not yet attempted such a cake and given the short time frame, I felt I had my work cut out for me. Challenge accepted!
Our friend uses a Nikon (pronounced as nick-on) camera so I searched for a photo that I can use as a pattern. Cake base is my mocha cake because my go-to devil’s food chocolate cake recipe is too soft for such a design. I also thought the mocha flavor goes well with the dark chocolate ganache filling and marzipan coating. Yep, still no fondant cake covering for me.
I was nervous at the beginning but once I got started, I got on a groove. I wanted to put the white markings on the buttons but I knew it would give me a hard time because they were too small so I left them out. I did make the LCD screen, though.
I also wanted to add the strap but I was too pressed for time. Slave away into the night I did but I was happy with the turnout. Alas, I found out too late that the model I made wasn’t the one our friend uses. Oops! But I knew she wouldn’t mind, hahaha.
I was unable to attend the festivities because I still had pending projects. Special thanks to my sister and her family for bringing the cake to the venue. Thanks, R._ for trusting me in making the cake and to T._ for holding the cake in her office for safekeeping before the evening celebration. The birthday girl sure was surprised. She sent me a text message thanking me for the cake. I told her I was just tasked to make it. Just the same, you’re welcome my friend, ’twas my pleasure. Good luck on your newfound passion!
Thanks also to power couple J._ and B._ for the lovely photos below. The first one shows the lady of the hour and her beautiful daughters who were part of the “covert” birthday prep.
Ribbon Cake – cake tied with a bow made of chocolate with miniature gifts surrounding the base. Price available upon request.
tie a chocolate ribbon …
This cake was commissioned by B._ for her family who live next door to us. The family was set to have their clan reunion on Christmas eve and the cake was to be the contribution of B._ and her two other sisters, who like B._ are based overseas. Since it was also Christmas time, I suggested a cake decorated like a gift, complete with a bow. I adapted a cake design I found in the internet and put miniature gifts around the cake base but I personalized it and wrote the names of the overseas-based family members.
I am tempted to call this my “Inception” cake because it is like a “gift-within-a-gift-cake.”
I initially wanted the bow to be like loops, just like the design I saw in Bon Appetit magazine but I was having problems with them staying upright. In the hot Philippine weather, chocolate softens at room temperature and the loops I made were no exception. So I just arranged them laying down.
B._’s mom told my mother that they were thrilled with the design. They were so enamored with the personalized “chocolate gifts” that they waited for some days before savoring the cake!
Made only with the finest ingredients, baked to perfection and artfully decorated to give you a dessert experience nonpareil. All cupcakes are tested and developed in my kitchen in Paranaque, Philippines.