Little Black Dress Fondant Cake

little black dress cake

Yes. ANOTHER fondant cake. These cakes are just so much fun to plan and make. After my last holiday fondant creation, I was ready for more. My best friend was having a little black dress themed party a few days before her wedding and so I insisted on making her a surprise cake. I got to try out a few new techniques on this cake, which I will be using in the future as well. Enjoy the tips!

Few Tips for Fondant Cakes:

1) Stamps. These are the simplest items to have as a final touch on your cake and they are just so lovely. Make sure you are using a stamp that is new so that you do not get any paint or toxic residue onto the fondant. To use the stamp, take a brush and dip it in black gel food coloring. Paint the stamp and practice on scraps of fondant so you can get an idea of the amount of pressure that you would need to apply to get a crisp and clear image.

2) Cookie Cutters. Long gone are the days when I only pulled out my cookie cutters for sugar cookies. There are just so many uses for cookie cutters and cutting fondant is only one of them.

Check out this fun post on Buzzfeed here about 47 different ways to use cookie cutters ranging from gift tags, ornaments, and even fruit salads!

3) Molds. These are super easy to use, because you just push the fondant in the mold and pop it out. The one I used on this little black dress cake could also be used for monograms or a small message. At 2 am in the morning, I had no time to make black icing and so I had to settle for no initials.

4) Ribbons. Any type of ribbon will look beautiful on your cake and will cover the bottom edges if the fondant happens to be uneven or messy there. What I learned with this cake is to use a ribbon that preferable has no sparkles or sprinkles on it that could fall off. I had to keep brushing off the sparkles from the ribbon and a satin ribbon in place would have made it much easier. Ribbons can be easily attached with a few drops of buttercream icing.

5) Fondant Pearls. The most trouble I always have with these is making them all the same size. I found a very helpful tip to help with this common problem, which is to use a very small circle cookie cutter (or a bottle cap, anything circular and small).

little black dress cake

Any tips of your own that you have found helpful for dealing with fondant cakes?

 

Holiday Themed Fondant Cake

holiday fondant cake

Whenever the holidays start to come around, signups begin for all the holiday potlucks to enjoy at work, school, or even amongst family and friends. Sometimes you get signed up for a dessert at a company you don’t even work at too. Yep, my mom signed me up for her potluck. I didn’t mind, because it was a great stress reliever for finals even though I had two papers to write on the same day. It was also the perfect opportunity too to use these gold edible sprinkles that I have. I ended up making a two-layer chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream icing in between.

The Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake recipe can be found here  on a previous blog post of mine.

holiday fondant cake

Previous recipes where I have used this Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate recipe are below:

hershey's twizzler bites

Hershey Twizzler Bites 

mini chocolate bundt cakes

Chocolate Bundt Cakes: Mini and Normal Versions

Hershey's Chocolate Cakeballs

Hershey’s Winter Themed Cakeballs 

Batman Cake

Batman Fondant Cake 

 

 

 

 

Hazelnut Acorn Cookies

Hazelnut Acorn Cookies

There are times when you see something and just have to buy it. Or you may stay thinking about it only to come back hours later to buy it. That was my case with my acorn cookie cutter. I saw it at World Market and figured I would just come back later for it. What happened instead was that I went to a few stores next door and ended up coming back for the cookie cutter before I went home. No regrets. Hakuna Matata.

I loved making these cookies because I didn’t have to use the royal icing, which always takes forever to dry. We were going to visit one of our neighbors before she left for the holidays and so I figured it would be the perfect occasion to use my acorn cookie cutter. Later on, while jogging around my neighborhood I noticed many acorns on the sidewalk and so I picked up a few to use as decor for when I would make these cookies. Enjoy these as they will be the perfect addition on your dessert table for Thanksgiving!

Hazelnut Acorn Cookies 

Printable Recipe Here

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon hazelnut extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ cups cups finely ground hazelnuts, divided
  • 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 8 ounces chocolate candy coating/ chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Beat butter and sugar at medium speed until fluffy
  2. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition
  3. Mix in the vanilla and hazelnut extract
  4. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder
  5. Add 1 cup of hazelnuts to the flour mixture
  6. Gradually add this to the butter mixture and beat on low speed until smooth
  7. Add the cream and beat until well-incorporated
  8. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or up till overnight
  9. Preheat the oven to 350° F
  10. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside
  11. On a lightly floured surface, roll out your dough to ¼ inch thickness and cut with your cookie cutter
  12. Place the cookies on the prepared sheets and bake for 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned
  13. In a microwavable bowl, melt the chocolate candy coating and dip the top half of the cookies
  14. Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup of hazelnuts over the top half
  15. Add some chocolate coating to a plastic ziploc bag or piping bag and design as you wish
  16. Store in air-tight container for up to 5 days

Recipe from the All American Cooking magazine

Hazelnut Acorn Cookies

 

 

NY Style Cheesecake

This cheesecake almost didn’t happen. The night I had planned to make it for a lunch we were holding the next day, I conveniently forgot where the springform pan’s base was. I sat for a while on Pinterest trying to get inspirations for another dessert to make, but nothing was appealing to me. Once I had the idea to make this cheesecake, I just couldn’t forget it and that was the problem. I tried again, opening every cabinet and looking between pans that the springform base could be hidden in. Just when I was about to call it a night, my mom yelled over to me and there it was in her hand. Apparently it was in our outside refrigerator; an area that I never thought to check. Cheesecake is one of those desserts that is really worth making because the end product never fails to satisfy. Check below to enjoy your own home-made version as well!

new york cheesecake

New York Style Cheesecake

Printable Recipe Here

Ingredients

Crust

  • 2 cups crushed graham wafers
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake Filling

  • 32 ounces (4 of the 8 ounce packages) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest  (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Put the wafers in a food processor and blend until they are small crumbs
  2. Pour the crumbs in a bowl and add the 1/4 cup of sugar and melted butter
  3. Spray the springform pan with cooking spray and press the crumbs on the bottom and halfway up the pan
  4. Refrigerate while you make the cheesecake filling
  5. Put the cream cheese, 1 cup of sugar, and flour in a mixing bowl and beat until well incorporated (1 minute)
  6. Add the eggs, one at a time, until they are blended in
  7. Scrape the sides of the bowl as you mix so that you do not have any lumps of cream cheese remaining
  8. Add the whipping cream, lemon zest, and vanilla extract and beat for a minute or until well mixed
  9. Before you pour the filling into your crust, cover the outside of the springform pan with aluminum foil (so no water gets in)
  10. Pour the filling into the aluminum wrapped springform pan
  11. Put the springform pan in a large baking dish and fill the dish with water (so the water is halfway up the pan)
  12. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes
  13. Reduce to 250 F and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until only the center is a little wobbly when you shake the pan
  14. Cool and refrigerate overnight and decorate/serve the following day

Tips

  • For the design, I melted semi-sweet chocolate and dipped strawberries in it. For some strawberries, I covered them with chopped almonds and for the others, I dipped them in a ready made strawberry glaze.
  • If you do not have graham wafers (as I did not), be creative and improvise with ANYTHING that you have. I used waffle cones that we had and just put those in the food processor. I have also used animal crackers in the past so anything will work.
  • Baking the cheesecake in a water bath will prevent it cracking because then the outer edge will not bake faster than the center (the hottest the water bath can get is 100 C).
  • Short 1 minute video for how to assemble a water bath here

Recipe modified from ZoomYummy

new york cheesecake

new york cheesecake

 

For more ideas check out some of my past cheesecakes below:

reeses cheesecake

 

pecan cheesecake

 

cheesecake

 

 

Houston Bites: Cedar’s Bakery

Houston Bites is back!!!

Driving back home with a colossal stack of white boxes, I knew that my brunch with my mom had gone successful. A planned brunch date quickly turned into stocking up a week’s supply for the family which was quite successful, although it disappeared without a trace. The effect after my first visit was similar as this is one place that is definitely hard to leave. I will have to warn you: you need to eat at least one of the mana’eesh (flatbread pies) in the store before heading home with a load, or else you may find yourself driving with one hand because your other fingers (that are now covered in olive oil and sesame) could not resist the temptations driven by the aroma of Middle Eastern herbs.

Cedar’s Bakery, a Lebanese family-owned business, may not have an extensive menu of breakfast or lunch items to order, but why have that when you have a range of quality mana’eesh, pita sandwiches, and assorted mini pastries? Watching your mana’eesh come out on long wooden paddles from the authentic twin brick ovens only adds to the experience as compared to simply picking up a pizza in a box from Domino’s. One of my favorites is sojok, a beef crumbly sausage flavored with cumin, garlic, and red pepper that is also mixed with a crumbly cheese. The sweet cheese and savory sausage complement each other on the soft, chewy pita flatbread. Other favorites of mine include the zaa’tar (a spice blend of sumac, thyme, oregano, sesame, & marjoram) and the parsley with akkawi cheese. If you are looking for a flatbread that is not so savory, I would go for the labne bread (a popular Middle Eastern cheese topped with tomatoes, olives, & a spice blend). Other than the famous mana’eesh, I have also tried their crunchy spinach and onion pies which are great to-go items for a quick snack. You can pair up some coffee or tea with your steaming baked good or you can be a bit more adventurous and go for the fragrant rose-flavored drink.

Quick “Must Order Bites” List

  1. Sojok Mana’eesh (my favorite although I am fan of their whole menu)
  2. Half Zaa’tar/ Half Cheese Mana’eesh
  3. Parsley & Cheese Mana’eesh
  4. Labne Mana’eesh
  5. Spinach Pies
  6. Rose Flavored Drink

Take a look at their menu here , complete with mouthwatering pictures to make your decision even harder on what to order haha.

Newsworthy Tidbit: Cedar’s has been rated as 42 out of the top 100 Houston restaurants for the Houston Chronicle in 2014 so come grab a quick bite here!

ADDRESS

8619 Richmond Ave

Houston, TX 77063

HOURS OF OPERATION

MONDAY-FRIDAY: 7am – 6pm

SATURDAY: 7am – 5pm

SUNDAY: 7am – 4pm

CONTACT INFO

EMAIL ADDRESS:info@cedarsbakeryhouston.com

TELEPHONE: (713)706-4141

 

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Sojok Mana’eesh

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Parsley & Cheese Mana’eesh

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Labne Bread

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Rose Flavored Drink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Daring Baker’s Challenge- Sachertorte

Success! I’ve joined the Daring Baker’s community and completed this month’s challenge: Sachertorte- a classic Austrian dessert.

This October’s Daring Baker’s Challenge was brought to us by Korena from Korena in the Kitchen. Sachertorte is a rich chocolate cake filled with an apricot glaze,  topped with chocolate ganache, and served with a dollop of whipped cream on the side. The history behind the making of the Sachertorte is pretty interesting. It originates back to 1832 when Prince Metternich requested a dessert for his dinner guests. His pastry chefs were ill at the time and so his apprentice, Franz Sacher, concocted this fancy dessert that is now famous internationally. His son, Eduard, later opened the Sacher Hotel in Vienna where the cake is made with its closely guarded recipe. The cake is so well known that it can be ordered online and shipped worldwide too.

Sachertorte

Sachertorte

 Printable Recipe Here (with step by step pictures too)

Sachertorte

Servings: 12-16

Cake Ingredients

  • ¾ cup (4 ½ oz) good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used 70% Lindt Smooth Dark)
  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
  • pinch fine grain salt

Lindt Chocolate

Directions

Preheat: 375 F

  1. Prepare a 9-inch springform pan by spraying it with cooking spray and dusting it with flour. Line the bottom with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Fill a saucepan with an inch of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Place the bittersweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl and put it on top of the saucepan (make sure that the bowl is not touching the water). Stir occasionally until melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and beat on medium until light and creamy. Add the confectioner’s sugar on low speed, then increase to medium speed and beat again until light and creamy.
  4. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  5. Add the cooled chocolate and vanilla and beat until well-mixed.
  6. In a separate bowl, add the egg whites and one tablespoon of granulated sugar and beat on high until foamy. Gradually add the remaining granulated sugar and continue beating until you form soft, shiny peaks.
  7. Add about 1/3 of the whipped egg whites and whip vigorously into the chocolate mixture to lighten it up. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Be sure to be gentle so that the egg whites are not deflated.
  8. In another bowl, combine together the flour and salt and mix until combined. Sift half of it over the chocolate mixture and fold in with a spatula until almost incorporated. Sift the remaining flour over the chocolate and fold until combined.
  9. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Place into the oven and bake for about 35-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The cake will crack and dome as it bakes, but will flatten as it cools.
  10. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then invert onto a rack. Remove the bottom pan and parchment paper. Turn the cake right-side up and allow to cool completely.

Apricot Glaze

Servings: 1 quantity (about 1 cup)

Ingredients
1¼ cup (14 oz) apricot jam or preserves
2 tablespoons water

Directions

  1. Boil the jam and water in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Cook, stirring often, until the mixture thickens and drips slowly from the spoon, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Strain through a wire mesh sieve, pressing firmly on the solids. You should have about 1 cup of glaze. Use warm.

Cake Assembly

Directions

  1. Turn the cake upside-down so that the perfectly flat bottom of the cake is now the top. Cut the cake horizontally into 2 even layers.
  2. Place 1 cake layer on the 8½-inch (22 cm) cardboard cake round and spread it generously with about half of the apricot glaze. Allow it to soak in.
  3. Place the second cake layer on top and spread the top and sides with the remaining apricot glaze. Work quickly before the glaze has a chance to set and use a metal offset spatula to smooth the top.
  4. Place the cake on a rack set over a plate or baking sheet lined with waxed paper and allow the apricot glaze to set.

Chocolate Glaze

Servings: 1 quantity

Ingredients
1 cup  granulated sugar
½ cup water
4 0z good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Directions

  1. Place the sugar and water in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  2. Cook while stirring for about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the chocolate. It might thicken up quite a bit. If it does, return it to low heat and add a few drops of water if necessary to thin it out to a runny, pourable consistency. The glaze should be smooth and shiny.
  4. Off the heat, stir the glaze for 30-60 seconds to cool it slightly. Immediately pour it over the top of the cake, first around the edge (allowing the glaze to spill down the sides) and then in the middle. Spread the excess glaze over any bare spots using a spatula. Before the glaze has a chance to set, move the cake to a serving platter. Note: Any excess glaze can be stored in a container in the fridge and added to a mug of hot milk to make hot chocolate.

Writing Chocolate

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup (1.8 oz) chopped good quality chocolate
  • ½ – 1 teaspoons vegetable oil

Directions

  1. Heat the chocolate until just melted, then stir in enough vegetable oil to get a pipeable consistency. If necessary, let the chocolate mixture cool slightly to thicken so that it is not too runny.
  2. Place the chocolate in a disposable piping bag or small Ziplock bag and snip off the tip to make a small hole. It might pay to do a practice run on waxed paper before writing on the cake.
  3. With the writing chocolate, pipe the word ‘Sacher’ in the middle of the cake and add any decorative flourishes you wish. Chill the cake until the glaze is completely set, at least 1 hour.

Final Assembly

Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, cold

Directions

  1. Let the cake come to room temperature for about 1 hour before serving. Whip the cream to soft peaks (this is best done in a cold bowl with cold beaters). If desired, sweeten it with icing sugar to taste.
  2. Cut the Sachertorte into wedges with a large sharp knife dipped in hot water and wipe off the blade between cuts. Serve each wedge of cake with a large dollop of whipped cream.

Tips:

*Store up to 2 days in an airtight container at room temperature

*Highly recommended to check out the great series of videos found on Epicurious of a pastry chef making this Sachertorte recipe from start to finish, with some very useful tips on technique

Sachertorte

Stay posted for more recipes and next months Daring Baker’s Challenge!

 

Surviving Midterms: Foodie Style

It’s that time of the year again. I wish it could have been Thanksgiving but no, it’s midterms time where any form of joy is killed. It’s when you really appreciate the carefree time you had last week where you had the luxury to choose whether to watch a new episode of American Horror Story or go grab a quick bite at Panera Bread. This is all up to you of course. Midterms or not, we always have food so why not use it as a stress reliever and motivator? Step away from living off vending machine snacks and camping out at a single cubicle to learning simple tips to making your studying experience a bit more enjoyable.

  1. Find a few great studying spots and alternate. Studies show that alternating your study area improves retention compared to studying in one location. Try studying anywhere and everywhere to find out what works for you, even if it’s while flipping pancakes.

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2. Sometimes we all need a little motivation and it doesn’t hurt if it comes in the form of a gummy bear.

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3. Studying with a furry (or not so furry) friend nearby can lend for some company. Not when they steal your chair though haha.

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4. Next time you grab for a snack, go for berries and fruits. They are loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants which helps your memory and improves brain performance.

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5. Go for a change and try out coconut water: it’s high in potassium and low in sodium and calories. A diet low in potassium can cause fatigue which is a bad combo for studying. A high potassium and low sodium diet helps lower blood pressure, therefore lowering your stress levels.

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6. If you are in the mood for an actual meal then Chipotle is the way to go! It’s an easy to-go meal that you can save for later if you get full. The best part about October is that you can get $3 Burritos if you come in a costume for Halloween.

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7. Need an actual break from studying? Whip up these 3-ingredient Nutella brownies or make yourself an easy mug cake.

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8. We all know what’s not good for us, yet we tend to buy it anyways. Treat yourself every now and then, because you know you deserve it.

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9. When studying gets dull, you can always light a candle or candles. Candles can help reduce your stress, improve your productivity, and help you stay more focused on your studies.

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10. Pack a healthy snack like a salad or some pumpkin spice scones to the library so you aren’t stuck living off of vending machine food, because all the real food is way too far away.

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