Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Looking for an easy last minutes snack for a party? Or a simple Christmas treats idea? I have a good recipe for you. Star pastry snack. It is cute, simple, easy to make, and delicious. As long as you have ready to use puff pastry, egg, and sugar, you can make it anytime you want.

I got this idea about few days before my son's Christmas party at school. It's very common in here that the children will have a Christmas dinner together at school to celebrate Christmas every year. Basically, every children will gather together and have dinner together at school along with the teacher and their classmate. They get to use a nice clothing, such as a dress or suit, and sit around the nicely decorated table. There will be a candles and cute set of cutlery (of course it's plastic) as well. The party itself is a potluck. Each (parents of the) children have to bring one kind of food (preferable finger food). For a smaller children, they do not have dinner but they will have Christmas breakfast.

My son is still 2.5 years old and he's still in peuterspeelzaal (playgroup). He was going to have a Christmas breakfast at his school and I could bring some snack for the children. Hmm... Making a snack for 2-4 y.o children is not as easy as making snack for 8-9 y.o children. They're more picky and can not accept all kind of food. I suddenly remember couple months ago when I made pastry snack using some leftover puff pastry from making custard cream horns. There were a lot of small slices and cut puff pastry that could not be used to make custard horns. Instead of threw them away into garbage bin, I brushed them all with egg wash, sprinkle some crystal sugar on the top, and baked them by following the instruction as the usual. Based on the same method, I think I could make a good snack for his Christmas party at school. Beside, I know my son likes it.

I made about 30 stars, put them in a plastic bag and wrap it nicely complete with a ribbon. It could be a good idea for Christmas gift as well. Just stick a small Christmas card on it, and it's ready to cheers up someone else's day. Merry Christmas everybody ^^

Ingredients : (for making 20 stars)

  • 5 sheets ready to use puff pastry (I'm using 20x20 cm ready to use puff pastry)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • about 150 grams white granulated sugar 
Preparation :
  1. Thaw the puff pastry for about 10 minutes to make it easier to cut
  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven for 200 C (392 F)
  3. Prepare a baking sheet and line it up with baking paper. Set aside.
  4. Using a star cookie cutter, cut 1 sheet the puff pastry into 4 stars
  5. Place them on the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Repeat the process for all those puff pastry sheet. 
  7. Brush all the surface of the cut puff pastry with egg wash.
  8. Sprinkle granulated sugar on top generously.
  9. Put the pastry inside the preheated oven and bake it for 10-12 minutes or until they become golden brown. (Tip : take the pastry out of the oven once they become golden brown. the smaller the pastry cut, the shorter baking time that needed. It's really depend on the size of you pastry. But it is important to make sure that all the pastry have roughly the same size)
  10. Take the pastry out an let them cool completely. 
Tip : This snack is not meant to be stored for a long time. They could get soggy fast if it's not stored properly inside airtight container or not be eaten as soon as possible. If it's happening, put the pastry on the baking sheet and pop it into preheated 180 C oven for about 10 minutes. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Last month, one of my daughter's friend was celebrating a birthday. And it just happened that she loves minions. I and her mother were just chatting around, and she asked me if maybe I could make a cute minion cake for her daughter's birthday party. I said yes without thinking! Few hours after the deal was made, it seems that my nervous thought was just awake and started to question my ability to make it. Will I be able to make it? How if I ruined the cake? That's mean that I would ruin a girl's birthday. I don't want that to happen. I almost never make a sculpted cake before. Well, I've made some before. But those cake were not  meant for selling purpose.

Calm down and be positive. It's  great challenge. This could be a good opportunity to start what I've been dreaming lately which is turn my hobby into a business. I've made a Pirate Boat Cake before. So, basically I know how to carve a cake. Beside, there's a lot of tutorial on the internet. How hard could it be. (Maybe if her mother knows this she would not order the cake from me. Thanks to her for putting such a big faith in me.^^ ) 

Well, I'm so glad I decided to go on and trust my skill. Voila!! I'm so happy with the result. 

I'm not saying it was perfect. But it's not bad for first attempt. I was not saying it was easy either. But well, I made it. :) This is the rough sketch of the cake that I wanted to make. Sitting minion with banana cupcake (But later I changed the cupcake with a small round cake with candle on top).

To realize that sketch, my first step, is to make all the details of the minion such as the Gru symbol, his overall button, the goggle, and the hair. I made it about 5 days before final assembly. Thanks to Ann Reardon from How to cook that for sharing a nice tutorial how to make minion cake. From her video I could learn how to make the big and nice silver goggle and all those tiny minion hairs. 

This minion cake is built from vanilla cake with vanilla butter cream. I've made 1 + 1/4 recipe of vanilla cake and bake it in a 15 cm round cake pan. I don't have 15 cm round cake pan, so I made a disposable cake pan by myself using a cardboard and aluminium foil. Well, I guess I miscalculated the size of the cake. I made the cake too much. The order were a cake for 15-20 people. But I think the amount of the cake that I baked could feed about 20-25 people. 

After the cake is done, the real work is begin. Cutting, stacking, sculpting, and shaping. 

After about 30 minutes, I managed to sculpt and shape my cake from the left picture into the right picture. Not bad, right?  The height of my minion cake to be is about 23 cm (the cake only) with 13 cm diameter.  

I coat the cake with vanilla butter cream twice. First, I coat it with a thin layer of butter cream and put it into the fridge until it firm up. This first layer will catch the crumb cake that fall from the cake so it wont get mixed with the the next layer of butter cream. After I finished with second coating, I put the cake again into the fridge before move to the next step.

Now, it's time to cover the cake with yellow fondant. It turned out, covering a big cake with fondant is not as easy as I imagined. I accidentally tear the fondant and had to re-roll it again. Too bad I didn't have fondant smoother as well. Making the hand was not easy either. I had to use small ramekins to prop the hand and prevent it being broken. After the yellow part is done, actually I had to make a pants for my minion. But I was a bit nervous so I decided to do it later and put the eye and black goggle strap. 

For the pants, I made a simple template using a paper and cut the fondant by following those template. It was quite hard to make it without a template. I always made it too big and had to redo it again and again. After the pants is done, its time to put all the small detail on my minion such as his tiny little feet, the pocket with Gru's symbol, the buttons for the pants, his hands. goggle, hairs, and finishing the detail for the small round cake. And the banana of course! ^^

By making this cake, I got a lot of leftover cake crumbs. I can eat it just like that. But it was too much and most of the crumbs were really crumbly and I couldn't even poke it with a fork. Well, it just happened that I had white chocolate bar and leftover heavy cream. So, it was possible to make a cake pop out of it. Remember my "failed" cake pop? Using the same recipe, but with white chocolate instead of dark chocolate, I could make about 20 cake pop out of my leftover cake crumbs.

Make an oval shaped cake pop and put it into fridge to make it nice and firm.  After all the cake pop are nice and firm, first dip half part of it into blue melted chocolate. Before the blue chocolate became dry, insert cake pop stick into the cake pop and put 2 mini chocolate M&M's or choco chips for the minion shoes. Once the blue part is dry, dip the other half into melted yellow chocolate and stick the eye and the hair of the minion. I was using chocolate sprinkle for its hair and edible eye for its eyes. But maybe I should use another kind of white candy because my daughter said that the eye did not taste good. Well, next time better.

Tip : If your melted chocolate is too thick, add some vegetable shortening (I'm using Crisco), pop it into microwave for a few sec, stir it well until all the shortening are melted and mixed with the chocolate. Put it back into microwave and reheat it again if needed or if there is still lump on the chocolate mixture. 

It was only needed a few minutes to make all the chocolate dry. After that,  I start to make all the detail. I put leftover yellow and blue chocolate into zip lock bag, melted some pure chocolate candy and put it into another zip lock bag as well. I used it to draw all the detail such as minion's hands, goggle straps, and their pullover. It was not easy as I imagined. I could not make it as smooth as I wanted. Besides, I had some problems with chocolate and Crisco lump that clogged the tip of my pipping bag. But hey!! The result is not that bad. I even think that they are quite cute. Don't you think so?  ^^