Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Chocomint Brownies

Mint and chocolate... how can you go wrong? :) I whipped up a batch to bring to work (part of my holiday baking tradition). I hope everyone enjoys them tomorrow!

P.S. This update is short and sweet on purpose! :)

Monday, December 26, 2011


I haven't been updating my blog/website for the past couple of weeks due to CRAZINESS! Did I already mention that I have 4-hour commute to work in total, a husband, and 2 boys under age 4? Adding orders to the list make for lack of sleep and the feeling of not finishing in time (but I always do).

So, I will try to *briefly* mention what has kept me so preoccupied...

* * *
Pittsburgh Steelers Cake

Made for a football fan, this chocolate cake with vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream (SMBC) icing was topped with a royal icing transfer. Surprisingly, I was told it was easy to cut into; possibly due to it resting on the buttercream, which broke up the molecules in the royal icing. A test for me to experiment with in the future.
* * *

Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada Snowflake Cookies

The cookies were sugar and gingerbread cookies for the staff at the IRBC. The design is similar to what I made in the past, but with the addition of an edible image of the IRBC logo in the centre. Did I mention I love my edible ink printer? :)

* * *
Red Velvet Minis with Rose

So, my colleague wanted to bring these cupcakes for her niece's birthday. Initially, the niece said yellow was her favourite colour but then changed it to purple. Her mom wanted a rose on the cupcake, so I made them in purple and rested on cream cheese icing. The kids went to town so fast on the cupcakes that my colleague was not able to take even one photo of her niece enjoying them. To be 4 years old again...

* * *
Trifecta of Destination Wedding Cakes
Another colleague requested to have cakes made in honour of her daughter's wedding. The wedding was in Punta Cana, so parts of the cakes had a beachy theme. She was very generous and shared the cakes with us at work (which was her intention all along!). To make my life easier, I decided to change the order into three smaller and shorter cakes instead of two higher cakes (I had to commute by transit, after all).

Bride's Cake

Her daughter had calla lilies in her bouquet, which I made with fondant. Ruffles were everywhere to make it look like a bridal. The cake was vanilla with vanilla SMBC icing.

Beach Cake

Palm trees meeting together was the idea for this chocolate cake with vanilla SMBC icing.

Message Cake

So, I didn't end up having room for the text on both the first two cakes above. It was written on this one instead. This cake ended up having one layer of chocolate cake and one of vanilla, all iced and filled with vanilla SMBC.

Congrats Melissa and Lee!

* * *
26th Anniversary Cake

My colleague wanted a little vanilla cake to celebrate her anniversary. I put puddle dots and a couple of fondant flowers to decorate it very simply.

Happy 26th Anniversary!

* * *
13th Anniversary Cake

Another colleague's anniversary was on the same date as the above client - weird, huh? She specifically requested for a chocolate ganache filling, which I did but also covered the top and sides of the vanilla cake with it. The sides were finished off with SMBC. The second request was to make it colourful (for her kids) because this was also the first anniversary cake that was homemade (she never had time to make it herself).

Happy 13th Anniversary!

* * *
"Just Because..." Cakes

A colleague wanted to do something nice for a couple of people at work, so she ordered two generic cakes that could be served over the holidays. The cakes are vanilla with SMBC: the first one with fondant calla lilies and sugar pearls; the second one with rosettes and sugar pearls.

* * *

Snowflake Birthday Cake

This short vanilla cake with sweet vanilla icing just had snowflakes piped all over the fondant top.

Happy Birthday Nana!

* * *
21st Birthday Cake

This was the chocolate birthday cake with teal vanilla SMBC for the last surprise birthday party my colleague was going to give her son. SMBC 21's were placed on the black fondant top. It looked kinda retro, but I'm glad to hear it was enjoyed by all.

Happy Birthday Josh!

* * *
Gingerbread Christmas Tree Cookie

Of course, with all the baking I do, I had to bring something to work to share. I made some gingerbread cookies and sugar cookies (not pictured) topped with royal icing.
* * *
Girly Cupcakes

I had a request to make fuchsia SMBC cupcakes with girly teal and white toppers. The cupcakes were vanilla, chocolate and red velvet, topped with alternating white/teal butterflies, flowers and pearls. I really liked how the teal glitter made the pearls shimmer.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Let It Snow...flakes!

I finally got to make my cookie donation for work's United Way bake sale this past week: snowflake gingerbread cookies. I'm glad they sold out, as well as most of the other baked goodies; more money for the charity!

My other set of snowflake cookies were for a colleague's university alumni event. She wanted half the order gingerbread, the other half sugar. They were so cute and enjoyed by all!

My last snowflake item was for little girl's party. Blue and white cake pops with snowflakes; sounded like a simple order at the time. I had problems with the quins because they didn't want to stick onto the chocolate (too much chocolate coating resulted in the quins drowning; too little chocolate dried up quickly and the quins wouldn't stay on). The snowflake quins were also a bigger sprinkle, so it made it harder to work with. If I had more time, I would've attached each quin individually onto the pop.

Blue pop: chocolate cake; white pop: vanilla cake; both pops have Swiss meringue buttercream mixed in the cake, then dipped in white/coloured chocolate and snowflake quins

Christmas is less than one month away! Let all the bake-a-thons begin! :)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Something Blue Manolo Blahnik Shoe!

This was my first completed shoe ever... fortunately, it only took me the second try to get it right! Researching online, I encountered someone who made as many as nine attempts before she was satisfied. I do not have that sort of patience.

So, my colleague turned 24 and wanted me to create a shoebox cake (she's shoe-crazy). She decided to challenge me to make Carrie Bradshaw's satin "Something Blue" stiletto from the first "Sex and the City" movie. And challenging, it was! If the shoe was a sandal, instead of a closed-toe full pump, it would've been a breeze.

For structural purposes, it had to be made out of gumpaste, with a bamboo skewer in the heel. The blue parts were brushed with pearl lustre dust to give it a satiny look. The blue shell and the beige lining were on top of each other so that it would match up when it was cut. I cut a rectangular opening in the insole, then wrote the label onto a frosting sheet to appear under the opening (because my research showed the label in inset in the insole instead of on top of it). Finally, all the edges were finished with stitching marks, including around the label.

The shoebox is made up of three layers of chocolate cake filled with ganache, iced with ganache, then topped with marshmallow fondant. The real shoebox is just plain white, so I wanted to give it some flair with some contrasting striping, which was also brushed with some lustre dust.

I truly enjoyed the process of making this shoe (not the first attempt, though) and the results. I could not find a template for closed-toe pump, so it was only by trial and error that I was able to form the shape. At least I know now to use a sole pattern that is slimmer in width to achieve a slender toe box.

Bring on the next shoe order!

Happy Birthday, Vasiola!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Buttercream Galore!

19 years is a long time... it may feel even longer, if you're talking about marriage. Well, my colleague's wedding anniversary was this past week, and she specifically requested for it to be a heart-shaped vanilla and chocolate cake with vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream icing. Other than that, it was up to me to do whatever design I wanted. My intention was to colour the icing orange, but it turned out peach instead (because the buttercream was originally a pale yellow due to the butter).

I decided to make buttercream roses. I haven't done that since my first Wilton class, so I was kind of rusty and this was my first time creating flowers with real buttercream (Wilton's class buttercream is made up of icing sugar and shortening - also known as "American buttercream.") It was very melty because of the butter, so I had to work quickly. After a few tries, they managed to resemble roses. The goal was to put 19 roses on the cake, but they didn't all fit within the heart. I was told that everyone enjoyed the cake with the not-too-sweet icing.

Happy 19th Anniversary!

* * *
The movie "Sixteen Candles" was the theme of this birthday cake, for a teen turning 16. She loves all movies of the 80s (for now) so I surrounded the cake in pink ruffles and rosettes. Did I mention the cake was six inches wide and six inches high? Yes, you heard right... due to the three cake layers. The cake box lid had to be propped open.

The cakes were chocolate with vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream filling. I dressed up the border with sugar pearls and made chocolate transfers for the text. I hope she'll be happy with my cake rendition of a frilly pink party dress.

Happy Birthday, Celeste!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Something Old, Something New...

Yes, it's been a while since my previous post... made even longer because Blogger did not want to upload my images (WARNING: this will be a long update)... I was busy with my latest order, which is now complete!  So, here were my projects over the past few weeks:

 Maple Leaf Gingerbread Cookies

Fall Gingerbread Cookie

These not-too-spicy cookies were made from my standard recipe which produce soft and chewy results. My boys love them (especially Owen).

My intention was to donate two dozen cookies for a United Way bake sale at work. Unfortunately, the event was postponed and there was no way that the cookies would still be fresh a month later. So, I gave them all away to my colleagues, but I didn't have enough. I had to bring the extra circle cookies I made for the people I missed in my department. Hence, two different designs.

* * *

Piano Keys Birthday Cake

A colleague's husband's birthday was coming up, and I was asked to make a cake in the shape of piano keys. Keeping in mind that she commutes by transit, I made it 4"x12" to fit inside a 12" square cake box. The keys were white fondant/gumpaste mix and black chocolate fondant/gumpaste mix, and the moist chocolate cake was surrounded by chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream.

Happy Birthday, Mr Pianist!

* * *
Louise & Ken's Wedding Cakes and Cupcakes

My good friend got engaged two years ago, and at the time, we were working at the same office. She asked me to make her wedding cake, and of course, I didn't refuse! She wanted 50 cupcakes and a small bride's cake. In addition, she wanted to surprise her husband-to-be with a Batman-themed groom's cake and 50 cupcakes. All the cakes were red velvet with cream cheese icing.

I was also invited as a guest, so it made delivery of the cakes pretty tricky. Her venue, Old Mill Inn, could not guarantee fridge space and would only allow me to set up at 4pm (the reception started at 6:30pm). I had to scrap my original plan, which was to drop everything off before the 2pm wedding ceremony, then return to the venue to set up. So, to ensure the cream cheese icing wouldn't get spoiled, I had my husband buy 10 bags of ice to put in the trunk to act as a fridge (and thankfully, the weather wasn't too warm).

Set-up took longer than expected, but everything was completed on time, thanks to the help of my husband (<3). Oh yeah, the boys were with the in-law's, so that was also a bonus (who wants noisy kids at a wedding?). I was disappointed with the lack of lighting at the cake table (you can barely see the bat) but I guess the room wasn't designed to spotlight certain areas.

Bride's Cakes

Groom's Cakes

All the decorations were made out of a fondant/gumpaste mix. The bride requested mini calla lilies, roses, orchids, and hydrangea's - all in white. I made these to top the cake, as well as for the cupcakes (orchid only on cake). The groom's cake consisted of chocolate fondant buildings and bat on top. The bat cupcake toppers were made up of black royal icing transferred to a fondant/gumpaste mix disk.

I made the cupcake stands and the cupcake wrappers. It wasn't the brightest idea to start the projects the night before delivery, but they turned out OK. The beautiful bride and handsome groom loved their cakes, and that's exactly the reason why I do the things I do for my clients. :)

Congrats, Louise and Ken!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Running Graduate Birthday Cake

This request is for a guy who is a runner and has also completed his Master's degree. Yay, for higher education! :)

I thought it would be great if I merged the two things... I made a dark chocolate transfer of a graduate, running, and also sporting shorts and sneakers. White chocolate was used to outline the figure and it was placed on top of a dark chocolate disk.

This was a very moist, 3-layered chocolate cake with whipped vanilla icing.

Happy Birthday Uncle Marc!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Just Because... Cookies

What do you do with leftover royal icing? Since I hate wasting food, I baked more cookies and topped it with the icing. Usually, I make more than I need for an order, because it's a pain to make another batch when you're already "in the zone."

The patterns were not inspired by anything in particular. Just random dots and linework.

The next set, I plan on bringing to the boys' daycare. The edges were rolled into red coarse sugar and I iced numbers for learning purposes. I stopped the colour-alternating at 10... because I forgot... but that's OK, because I don't think the kids will care. I hope they don't have favourite numbers, because I only made one of each up to 16!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ooh La La, Baby!

My friend didn't know what to get a new mommy-to-be, so she decided to bring a cake. A vanilla cake with blue strawberry-flavoured Swiss meringue buttercream (blue for baby boy). My simplified version of a "diaper" cake:

Congrats, Pearl, and welcome to the club! :)

* * *

My other project due today was for a dinner party. A Paris-themed dinner party, to be exact. So, I used some of the most obvious French icons: the flag, the Eiffel Tower, and the Arc de Triomphe.

The flag was the easiest one. The Tower was, too, due to its smaller scale. It was the Arc that took the most time to do but it was also the most fun. I am pleased with the results and so was the client. :)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

This is something new for me: I haven't created a cake with peanut butter icing before. I looked for new recipes. The icing is very, very sweet. The chocolate cake was divided into 3 layers.

I wanted to do a basket weave design, since I haven't done that in a while. I totally forgot how easy it was to do yet it has a complicated look. It was a simple design and I only coloured the icing purple because it would be a very monotonous cake with all that beige by itself.

Happy Birthday, Serge & Krista (a.k.a the Super Mommy)!

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Birthday Cake... and Muffins

It seems like ages since my last post. Lots of changes since then... both the boys started daycare. With that, comes illness. Because their fevers have been yo-yo-ing and with other ailments, they've missed quite a bit of daycare since they're not allowed to come back for at least 24 hours. My husband was sick with the flu, and it appears that it was from the daycare, too.  For the worst day, I took a day off work to be Mama Bear and tended to the little (and big) sickies. Now, I have a cold, as well, but at least it's not the flu.

Anyway, back to yummy goodness...

My favourite client wanted a vanilla chocolate chip cake with sweet icing. Sweeter than my usual Swiss meringue buttercream. I had to go for another recipe, so I found a whipped vanilla icing that used icing sugar. It does not hold up as well as meringue, but as long as it's taken out of the fridge a half hour before serving, it will sustain its shape.

I had free reign on design and settled on an arty autumn theme. The icing didn't want to co-operate with me; it was very soft to pipe with, and needed to be refrigerated several times so I wouldn't pipe blobs. Other than that, I'm pleased with the results for the amount of time I spent on it (which is not as much as I wanted but my commute really takes a chunk out of my day).

Happy Birthday, Thad!

* * *

Today is my co-worker's last day in our department. We'll still see her, but she'll be on a different floor. She is a health nut. Or, she tries to be. :) I wanted to make carrot muffins, but mini-sized (for those watching their caloric intake). This was my first attempt at carrot muffins... ever. I hope everyone enjoys them!

Good luck, Jessie!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Farewell Cakes

This week was the end of my second week back to work. I'm doing OK, still need reminders, here or there, but most pertinent issues get resolved. I am happy to see my desk uncluttered with manageable groups of paperwork, tidily kept in their little cubbie-shelves.

Friday was the last day of several people, but I only made cakes for the known departees (in the same morning, we were surprised with news of a few who were also leaving, but to different departments/roles).

I would call these cakes "6-inch mini cakes" because they were between 2.5 to 3 inches high (normally, it's 4 inches). Both cakes were chocolate sour cream with vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream icing.

The pink cake was for the summer student, which I girlified. The blue cake was for the Australian-bound traveller. Both concepts were simple, because I basically do not have as much time to prep and decorate during the week. Plus, they also had to survive my 2-hour morning commute (GO bus, then subway, then bumpy bus ride).

The meringue icing was a hit! It seemed like to most, this buttercream texture was unfamiliar. Their taste buds were probably used to the grocery-store/bakery's sugary and grainy, shortening-based "American buttercream" icing that cover most cakes. I am very glad that I introduced them to the real buttercream, which isn't too sweet and soooo smooth. :)

Good luck, Maddie and Jason!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Lightning McQueen Cookies

2 posts in one day?! Well, today was the last day to post, otherwise, I wouldn't have time to do so during the week.

This was a Disney's Cars request. My client wanted Lightning McQueen cookies (no problem, now that I have my food-safe printer). This was my second attempt with edible images, so another lesson learned: don't put the image immediately onto the wet icing, as the image sank into the icing and created a little depression (easily fixed by piping a border onto the icing sheet edge). I guess it's the weight of the paper that caused the dip. They turned out awesome!

She also wanted a cookie cake.  Literally, cookies stacked to resemble a cake. Her son isn't a fan of cake, but loves cookies, so I made double chocolate chip cookies (4" and 6" in diameter) as the "cake layers" with drippy royal icing in between as the "filling." To top it off, I made a royal icing transfer of McQueen's tire, adding the birthday message onto it.  The cookies themselves are nice and chewy... yum! :)

Happy Birthday, Matthew!

Chester Cookies

Okay, so this past week I missed posting my last order. I went back to work after 12 months of maternity leave and an additional 6 months unpaid leave (to wait for a role to open at a closer office to home)... so, it was kinda hectic. :)

Here is an image of cookies for a little girl's birthday, based on the titled character, Chester,  by Canadian author Mélanie Watt. This was a great time to test out my printer that prints edible images.

Prior to the actual print job, I looked online for a circle template (the package didn't say where to get one and eventually, the found it on the website of the store that it came from). It was a fiddly process, because the circles on the sheet didn't match up to the template (!!!) and reading the advice of the virtual community, I practiced on regular paper until the alignment matched the icing sheet. Then it was just a matter of placing it on the flooded cookie (I decided to cut around the image, first). I thought that it was OK to brush corn syrup onto the back of the image (my cookie icing had already dried and I read too late that images need to be put on WET icing). But, lo and behold, the next morning, I find air bubbles underneath the image! :( Luckily, I was able to smooth the bubbles out. Lesson learned: place images right onto wet cookie icing. 

Regardless of my hardships, the client and her recipients loved them, so I did my job. :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Square Tiered Wedding Cake

This cake was based on an existing design (source unknown; the client provided me with the image). But the only thing that was the same was the square layout.

The top tier was chocolate cake; the middle, vanilla; the bottom, chocolate surrounded by vanilla. The original concept was to only have white chocolate ganache as the final layer. However, the ganache was not opaque enough (the 3 cake layers showed through), so a layer of white fondant had to be added. The filling was orange orange-flavoured Swiss meringue buttercream.

The black beads were made from chocolate marshmallow fondant. The purple lilies and orange orchids were gum paste. The cake board was purple royal icing with sanding sugar.

This was also my first tiered cake to be stacked on-site. I'm half-glad for this because the bottom 10" tier alone probably weighed 30 lbs or more! Not-so-glad because the product is incomplete when it leaves home-base, there's more pressure to finish in a certain window of time (I was there for an hour when I thought I'd be done in 30 minutes max) and a lot of things can happen at the venue.

Congrats, Tanya and Yaniv!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Ruffle Cake

I had a request to make a cake for a birthday that had to have flowers on it. We decided on chocolate cake with whipped cream filling and Swiss meringue buttercream icing. I wanted to try out the ruffle technique, and I loved how it turned out! The flowers were made from marshmallow fondant (MMF) with silver dragee centres, and they were painted with pearl lustre dust. The text and dots were piped with dark chocolate. The pearls were made from MMF, too.

Happy Birthday, Grandma!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Tire Cake

This past Tuesday, event planner Solmaz from Dress It Up Inc. (solmaz@dressitupinc.com), called me because her client wanted to know if I could make a carved motorcycle cake... for this Saturday! What?!  Less than a week's notice? I had to decline because that was not enough time to design, plan, and execute (I prefer 4 weeks lead time for carved cakes). So, the client settled on a replication of an image she found online. I've made some changes to make it my own, and it turned out great. And I hope the client likes it, too!

The cake was vanilla with vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream filling, covered in dark chocolate ganache, then topped with chocolate marshmallow fondant (which was also used to make the silver pearls). The cake board was covered in normal store-bought fondant and was made to imitate asphalt. I was happy that this order was completed in three days (only possible because my schedule was free and the design was not super complex).

 ... without motorcycle...

... with motorcyle!

Happy Birthday Chico!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I'm 30! Now what?

I turned the big 3-0 yesterday. I wanted a beach party (something different), and left all the planning to James. We went to Ashbridges Bay, and we were there for a few hours and left as soon as it started to get hot (1pm). A few people made it out to say "hi," but the majority declined due to the weather or prior plans.  I really appreciated those who made the effort to wish me a "Happy Birthday" in person! :)

We journeyed back home; both boys were done and slept for about an hour (yes!) and I did the half-awake, half-asleep nappy thing in the passenger seat. When we arrived home, James told me to start dropping our stuff in the house. "Surprise!" yelled the guests. I wasn't expecting a surprise party at all. It was a good feeling. :)

Anyway, you'd think I'd make my own birthday cake. Well, I planned to, but didn't have enough time to design and execute it, so it was easier to make desserts instead with the free pockets of time (and unlazy moments) I had.

I made chocomint brownies in honour of James' birthday (his is 10 days before mine) since he loves them. I was supposed to make his cake in conjunction with mine, but since I scrapped the idea of making my cake, he didn't get one, too. The brownies were baked in mini muffin pans and were topped with milk chocolate.

Chocomint brownies

The next things were chocolate cake balls. It's chocolate sour cream cake mixed with vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream icing, dipped in dark chocolate, then rolled in icing sugar. This was basically a sugar bomb!

Chocolate cake balls

I also made vanilla cake balls. It's just vanilla sour cream cake with Swiss meringue buttercream icing, rolled in icing sugar.

Vanilla cake balls

Of course, there had to be some sort of cookie. I made the popular oatmeal chocolate chip. I didn't put as much oatmeal, so it didn't spread as much. It was chewy and not too crisp on the outside.

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Lastly, I made chocolate banana cupcakes with vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream icing. Super moist cake with smooth icing - how can you go wrong?

Chocolate banana cupcakes with vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream icing

I brought these treats to the beach (not knowing that guests were at our house instead) but, later, they were also enjoyed by the party guests.

I had to "earn" coins by doing various stunts to "buy" my big-ticket gift  <insert bridal shower memories>... which was a brand-new Canon printer for edible printing jobs! Now I can print images of ANYTHING to top cookies (usually) or cakes or cupcakes! :D

Thanks to all that were able to take part in this big milestone with me, and to those who couldn't make it but passed on the birthday greetings. An even bigger thanks to my hubby, James, for keeping me in the dark so I could be surprised. I love you, but I will get you back for the coin game, just you wait.