Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Still for my daughter's birthday edition. (I know this is a very late post because her birthday was in January)

Like as usual, every birthday, she would bring some treats for her classmates at school. If last year I made her no stick cake pops, this time I wanted to make  her a decorated sugar cookies. My first plan for the cookies was just a very simple round cookies with royal icing on top. When I was trying to find my round cookie cutter, I found my alphabet cutter. It has been sitting untouched for a month inside my storage box since I bought it on sale last December. Then it has been decided to cut my cookies into alphabet shapes instead.

I made the cookie dough about a week before her birthday, divided it into 3 big part, froze them separately, baked them about 3 days before the big day, and glazed them with royal icing on the next day. It was a lot of work. Maybe because of the size of the cookies or maybe because I'm not used to do it, I needed a lot of time to glaze all of them. I need more than 2 hour to glaze only 1/3 from total cookies that I made. I promised myself I will learn how to glaze faster next time. But really. It was fun and the result were cute. I really like it.

After done with glazing, I divide them and put them into a paper cup that has been cut and modified into a gift box. I found on the internet nice tutorial how to make a gift box out of a paper cup. It's easy to make and cute. Check it from this website. It's perfect to pack small treats such as pop corn, macaroons, and sugar cookies.

Just fill the cup with the treats (in my case I fill the cup with my alphabet sugar cookies), and fold the cup to close it up (open the link above). Because I was using a plain white paper cup, I decorated it with washi tape and a print out label like this. 

This is the recipe for the cookies. It is a different recipe from my own sugar cookies recipe. I was using sugar cookies recipe from Katarina's kitchen. I need sugar cookies with medium-soft, chewy texture and this is one of good recipe I've tried so far.

Ingredients :

  • 227 grams (1 cup) butter, room temperature
  • 200 grams (1 cup) white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 384 grams (3 cups) all purpose flour

Preparation :

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F) 
  2. Prepare a baking sheet and line it with baking paper. Set aside
  3. In a big bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth
  4. Beat in extracts and egg
  5. In a separate bowl, combine baking powder with flour and add a little at a time to the wet ingredients. At this point, the dough will be very stiff. 
  6. Turn the dough onto a countertop surface which has been dusted with flour and knead the dough by hand.
  7. Divide the dough into 3 batches 
  8. Take 1 batch and wrap the rest with plastic wrap and keep it in the refrigerator. 
  9. Roll out the dough onto floured surface (make it about 5 mm thick) and cut it into desired shape.
  10. Place the unbaked cookies on the prepared baking sheet and bake them for 7-9 minutes.
  11. Once it's done, let them cool until they are firm enough to be transferred to a cooling rack.
  12. Store the cookies in the airtight container.

For the glazing, I was using instant royal icing. I only need to add some water on it and it is ready to use. Sometimes, glazed cookies could get soggy after a while. It is because the moisture from the glazing has been absorbed by the cookies. It happens a lot especially if you live in place with high humidity. To prevent my cookies become soggy after glazing, after the surface of the royal icing is dry, I usually "bake" them once more. But this time I only set my oven to 50 C and put my glazed cookies into the oven for about 5-7 minutes. I won't put them too long into the oven because I worry the color of the glazing will become brownish because of the caramelization of the sugar from the icing.

Well, end of story, my daughter's friends like the cookies. They even thought the cookies are cute and unique. When my daughter told that to me, all I can say was my hard work has been paid very well :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

"Let it go... Let it go.... Turn away and slam the door." I bet most of you already know what song that is. Yeap!! That is Let it go from Disney Frozen movie. My daughter was crazy in love with that movie and the songs. And now she wants a Frozen cake for her 9th birthday. Hmm.... another project for me.

First, I was thinking to make Elsa cake using an Elsa's barbie doll. The concept is like making a usual barbie cake, but this time just change the barbie doll, with Elsa's doll. After days of thinking and googling, I found a problem. I could not find an Elsa's barbie doll. Anywhere. I had to buy it online but the price was not cheap as well. It's not that I could not afford it, but it's not that worth it. That's why, I decided to change the whole idea by making a cake using  Disney Frozen movie character figurines. I had to buy it online as well (I found it on ebay), but the price is much more affordable.

After days searching on the internet, I wanted to make a tier cake with stairs and I will decorate the cake with the Frozen figurines. The whole cake will be made by using combination of vanilla and chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream to cover the whole cake. I wanted to make it looks like a snow mountain. Don't ask why the mountain has stairs on it. Just let it be. ^^

About 5 days before my daughter's birthday, I found on the internet, a picture of Frozen cake decorated with blue hard candy. It looks gorgeous. It seems the hard candy is not that hard to make and I think it is a good idea to decorate my cake. I only need white granulated sugar, light corn syrup, water, and royal blue coloring agent. The problem is, light corn syrup is not  easy to find in here. To be exact, I can not find it anywhere. Well, based on my memory from what I've learned in University, in making hard candy, light corn syrup is needed to help make the hard candy more clear and transparent. Basically it will make the candy is clear like glass and not opaque. But it is optional. Because of that, I decided not to make blue hard candy without light corn syrup. I couldn't find it anyway.

It worked (after 3rd attempt) . I got a clear thin blue hard candy. After it's done and cool completely, I store it inside a zip lock bag. 4 days after, when I started to decorate the cake, I kind of regret that I made the candy too early. I do not know why but the candy is not clear anymore. They become opaque. It seems that the sugar are crystallized. I didn't have time to make a new one, so I keep decorating the cake with that opaque candy. Sad, indeed but it worked just fine.

Since the beginning, I wanted to learn how to make a spiral stairs cake. I was so eager and curious to make it until I did not really pay attention to the detail of the overall cake. It was until last minute when I decided to  cover an ice cream cone with white chocolate melted to make snowy trees and trying to stick some blue hard candy to the tower using white chocolate. And my first plan to dust the cake with powdered sugar as the finishing touch to make the snow a little bit more real was totally forgotten until my daughter blew the candles and cut the cake.

 I have to admit this cake was not my best especially with the details but not really that bad either. Now I know hot to make a spiral stair cake and  I can still see the frozen movie over there complete with Sven, Kristoff, Olav, Anna, and Elsa. I'm really sorry for prince Hans. I have no place for you over there. You had to stay in Arendelle anyway.

Well, now, let me share some pictures of this cake.

When I made this cake, I still had two nice big sliced of vanilla cake and a lot of buttercream frosting. I decided to make some small cake using those leftover cake, cover it with frosting and fondant, wrapped them nicely with transparent plastic and ribbon. It would be a nice going to home gift for my daughter's friends after party.