Saturday, May 30, 2009

Janet & Ethan's cake

I am really loving how this cake came together, the pale dusting in the flower centers and scattered piped stamen.

This cake is traveling to Stone Barns at Blue Hill Farm, so we opted to make a smaller cake for cutting, and then have additional cakes for the guests.

The flowers were made in all shapes and sizes, and dusted with a combination of handmixed colors using yellow, aqua, light brown, avocado petal dusts. What I love so much about decorating cakes is feeling like I am working on a painting or sculpture.

The base is a pale sage, tying into their flowers, invitation colors, and of course, the lush green pastures that surround the farm. My friend made this bouquet of flowers for me, which certainly helped inspire me as I decorated the cake.

The centers have a sprinkling of stamen, I wanted to not have every flower piped since the effect of the handbrushing feels so lovely and soft.

Happy Wedding!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The force is with me

Because I have two little ones, I get asked often to do children's cakes. I often find the time that goes into them is hard to charge, and tends to take more time than wedding cakes, but knowing how much that little one will enjoy the cake that makes me say 'yes' every time.

Such is the case with this Yoda cake, made for a cutiepie in Manhattan. I can relate to the Star Wars obsession since Clyde is right up there.

The Force is quite organic and delicious...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Alicia and Joel's Wedding

Alicia and Joel were married in a beautiful space in Long Island City last night- a raw industrial loft filled with wild bouquets of herbs and flowers, antique furniture and lovely friends.
The cake: whipped espresso buttercream between layers of dark chocolate cake. It meant a lot to bake this cake because I love Alicia so much and am so inspired by the jewelry she creates. Not only is she an amazing cook, designer, and friend, but she is a true romantic. When I met her years ago she dreamed about falling in love and being happy, and its so wonderful to see it all come true.

The decorations for the cake were inspired by her love of vintage lace, fabric, as she mixes modern clothes and vintage with ease. The colors are classic; cream and nude. Since the space was industrial, she wanted to bring nature into it with greens and creams for the flowers.

I used these amazing lace molds that I hand-cut each flower out, and dusted with pearl luster dust.

I molded each flower, then molded the pearl stems and leaves. I piped small pearl centers on the flowers to give some further dimension.

The golden butterflies are in two sizes, small and large. They are placed to flutter through the lace flowers. I piped beading on the edges and painted them with the pearl luster to simulate more pearls.

A spray of blossoms held dangling cards for place seats, with feathered birds on the branches, continuing the feel of nature in the room.

I loved the mix of herbs in the bouquets and table settings, and floating candles in stainless steel buckets.

There were bottles on mantles, tables, and window ledges filled with herbs, flowers, and purple artichokes.

After dancing to music and cocktails, they cut the cake. Such a lovely couple.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mothers Day Cookies- Rainbow Madelines

Since living in NYC means we are far from close family, for Mothers Day I have to think of something that can be sent via mail, that will taste delicious, and will also have a bit of a dazzle factor.

So I thought it would be easy to bake madelines. Since they have lots of butter in them they are sure to stay moist. But how to make them a little more special? First thoughts were to add rosewater, orange blossom water, dip them in chocolate; all good things, but a delicate simple lemon buttery flavor seemed perfect.

lemon zest on the pale fluffy whipped eggs and sugar

Why not just color them in an array of colors so they seem special and in the spirit of a rainbow, which is how moms can make you feel on the gloomiest day?

my assistant preparing the colors

Once cool they can be wrapped in plastic bags, and even more special, wrapped in drawings made by the kids.

Happy Mothers Day!

Rainbow Madelines

1 stick organic unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 organic large eggs
3/4 cup organic cane sugar
2 tablespoons lemon zest (from about 3 lemons)
1/2 cup organic all purpose flour

assorted food colors

1. In standing or hand mixer, beat eggs and sugar together until thick, pale, and fluffy, about 5-8 minutes.

2. Add lemon zest and melted butter, mix until combined.

3. Sift flour over mixture and gently combine.

4. Cover batter and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

5. Preheat oven to 375, butter or spray madeline pan.

6. In small bowls, add a drops of different food colorings and mix batches of batter to color them. Keep remaining batter in refrigerator.

7. Fill each cavity with a tablespoon batter, so it is about 2/3 full. Bake for 10 minutes until edges are light brown.

8. Use fingers or spoon to gently coax madeline out of pan, and let cool on wire rack.

9. Once cool, keep in airtight container or bag in between waxed paper to prevent sticking.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Homeade Mallomars

A deep dark secret of mine is my love for a Mallomar-- A sugar cookie covered with a blob of marshmallow, cloaked in a thin shell of dark chocolate. Sold only in the cool months because of its delicate composition, I realized that this past winter I spent too much time eating test recipes from my book to make room for them, and now the mention of them in a magazine last week set off a deep obsession that needs to be fulfilled.

Like Girl Scout cookies, these tend to last less than 48 hours in our house, but like my other former bad-junk-desert obsessions, there had to be a way to make these organic and homemade.

I decided to make my own version, slanted towards a deconstructed smore. I wanted the cookie base to have more oomph, and a graham cracker cookie would give it some chew and deserved texture.

To make authentic graham crackers, one needs to use graham flour, but since I don't have it on-hand and am positive the local shops would not either, my recipe uses many of the same elements such as molasses and honey for a similar flavor but with basic pantry supplies. Wheat germ gives it a bit of a hearty crunch.

graham cracker dough rounds

The beauty is, after you have cut out all your rounds for a cookie base, you can either re-roll the scraps or just bake them as is, then crumble them up for a graham cracker cookie crust. (perfect for a mini tart )

I pricked them with a fork to keep them from puffing in the center.

first batch eaten by cookie bandits

As for the marshmallow filling, one must make homemade marshmallows. Seems like lots of work, yes its true, but one batch will make a huge supply of fluffy, delicious marshmallows that you can freeze for future summer smores.

peaks of marshmallow goo await their chocolate fate

Last the chocolate glaze is the easiest part, either melted in the microwave or stovetop with a bit of shortening to firm up.

Homemade Mallomars

For Graham Cracker Base:
1 1/2 cups organic all purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 tablespoon packed organic dark brown sugar
pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
7 tablespoons chilled organic unsalted butter, cubed into small pieces
1/4 cup whole organic milk
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses

1.Prepare two sheets of parchment paper the size of a baking sheet. Set aside.
2.. In food processor add all dry ingredients. Pulse until mixed.
3. With food processor running, add butter one at a time until mixture looks like coarse meal.
4. In separate bowl, add milk, honey, and molasses together. Pour into food processor and pulse until dough is combined, about 30 seconds-1 minute. The mixture will be very sticky.
5. Scrape dough onto one piece of parchment paper. Cover with second piece and use a rolling pin to roll dough thin, about 1/8" thick. Chill in refrigerator for 15 minutes.
6. Preheat oven to 350 and cut cookies with 1 1/2 inch circle cutters. Use a fork to prick the centers so they dont get puffy.
7. Bake cookies until darkened around edges, about 11 minutes. Let cool on baking rack.

Marshmallow Filling
*note: When just made, these are piped onto the cookies, but you will have lots left over for the standard square cut size to save for future use.

3 envelopes gelatin
1 cup cup water
1 1/2 cups organic cane sugar
2/3 cup organic corn syrup (light from whole foods)
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
for dusting:
powdered sugar

1. In bowl of standing mixer, place gelatin and 1/2 cup of the water, let sit for at least 5 minutes.
2. In small heavy bottom saucepan, mix can sugar, corn syrup, salt and turn on high. Avoid stirring, use candy thermometer until temperature is 240 degrees, (soft ball stage). This takes around 8-10 minutes.
3. Fit standing mixer with whisk. Once mixture reaches 240 degrees, turn standing mixer on low speed, and evenly and slowly pour the hot mixture into the mixer. Immediately increase speed to high and let the magic happen. In about 5 minutes, the mixture will look thick, white, and fluffy, like marshmallow fluff. This is good.
4. Keep beating until mixture has cooled slightly and is thick. (total beating time about 10 minutes).
5. Stop mixer and add scraped vanilla pod and vanilla extract. Mix until combined.
6. Fit a piping bag with coupler but no tip. Fill bag with marshmallow and squeeze gently over the cookies on a wire rack. Let the marshmallows set for at least an hour before you make the chocolate coating.
*For extra marshmallow: Line a small casserole or baking pan with plastic wrap, spray with canola oil and add marshmallow to the lined dish. Sift some powdered sugar on top, and let sit overnight to dry out. The next day, fill a glass with hot water. Dip the knife in the water to cut the marshmallows into even squares.
In a small plate, sift powdered sugar, about 1/2 cup. Dip sides of marshmallows in sugar to prevent sticking. Store in airtight container .

Chocolate Coating
12 oz fine dark organic chocolate (about 3 bars)
3 tablespoon organic shortening (Spectrum brand)

1. Chop chocolate into small pieces, place in small glass bowl.
2. Add shortening and microwave on small bursts for 20 seconds at a time until just melted. Stir until resembles a liquid.

3. If using a double boiler, place chocolate and shortening in a larger glass bowl, over a saucepan filled with warm water on medium heat. The water should not touch the chocolate, its just for heating it up indirectly.

4.Using a fork, dip cookie in chocolate, use small offset spatula or spoon to spread over marshmallow. Let chill in refrigerator for a few minutes. Die from kitchen exhaustion and eat 6 to revive your body!