"Hey, I can do that!"

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Cake Ball Strawberries

Cake Ball Strawberries

I had the honor of co-hosting a baby shower for my brother-in-law and his girlfriend.  They are expecting their little girl in September.  Their nursery theme is watermelons and strawberries, so we decorated my mother-in-law's house to match for the shower.  I finally had an excuse to try out this idea that had been rolling around in my head.

  • Duncan Hines Red Velvet cake mix
  • splash of Coffee Mate's Vanilla Caramel coffee creamer
  • white chocolate colored red
  • fondant calyx
The tutorial for making cake balls will have to come another day.  I was slightly pressed for time and couldn't take all the pictures I wanted.  Essentially, I baked up a normal 8" round of red velvet box mix.  After it cooled, chunks of it went inside my itty-bitty food processor (I really need to buy a new one).  It took several passes to grind up the entire cake, but eventually I was left with a bowl of beautiful deep, dark red crumbs.

Typically I mix in some left over icing as a binder, but I forgot to make my icing (for cupcakes) before doing this.  So I tried using coffee creamer (as many have suggested on cakecentral.com).  Not sure where my French Vanilla went, so the only thing I had was Vanilla Caramel.  These are the liquid creamers that you keep refrigerated.   Only about 2-3 oz. of this stuff went in since the cake was already pretty moist.

I shaped clumps of crumbs with my hands until they looked like a strawberry.  Best thing at this point was that strawberries normally don't look perfect anyway.  When all the crumbs were gone, I had a couple trays of cake balls.  A flat toothpick was inserted into each one where the calyx would be.

These were put in the freezer for about an hour.

A while back I bought some red powder food coloring.  After melting several boxes of Baker's white chocolate, I mixed some coloring until I got a deep pink.  Buying Wilton's red candy melts would have been simpler, but I thought this might taste better.



It took a while to get a groove going when dipping these little darlings.  I tried using a fork and a spoon, but the best way I found was:
  • hold cake ball firmly by toothpick
  • insert cake ball into melted chocolate
  • rotate cake ball slightly until the entire thing has been covered by chocolate
  • very slowly extract the cake ball straight up
  • as it is being pulled up, vigorously wiggle or spin the cake ball (the excess chocolate will slide down into the vat easily and evenly)
  • lay on its side gently, holding it in place for a moment while the chocolate smooshes against the surface and thickens

The strawberries were left on the table overnight so they could firm up.  The next morning I topped and packaged them up.

I had a batch of marshmallow fondant (MMF) for covering cookies.  I mixed some of that with an equal part of Satin Ice green fondant so I could get a yummy taste and a light green color.  My Wilton Course 3 Student Kit came with a calyx cutter that was the perfect size.

I heated up the left over pink chocolate.  Carefully (otherwise I'd smear the chocolate), I picked up the cake ball and put it inside a little baking cup.  I slid the toothpick out, which kinda broke off some crumbs.  With a chopstick, I put a dollop of melted chocolate over the hole that the toothpick made and then stuck the calyx on top.

I had so much fun making these.  They made it to the shower intact with only a few problems.  Unfortunately, it's July in Texas.  The temperature changes from going from house to car to house made the chocolate a little funky.  I don't know the term for it, but some areas developed light-colored spots.  The baking cups got a few grease spots. 

When I brought them over, the house was a buzz with setting up for the party.  At some point, my mother-in-law tells me that she brought out a glass serving plate for my strawberries.  I had to say, "Oh, those aren't strawberries ... that's CAKE."

Everyone loved them.  Unfortunately, they were all gone when the party ended ... I had to take home my less popular left-over desserts.

Monday, July 5, 2010

DIY Lightbox

DIY Lightbox

I finally got around to making my own lightbox for photographing little things.  This tutorial is fantastic:

There were a few modifications in my design ... mostly because I hadn't read that tutorial recently and didn't remember everything.

  • cardboard box
  • freezer paper
  • hot glue
  • tape

My husband recently ordered a new computer, so I got a nice cardboard box to make my little photo studio.  I re-enforced the corners and folds with tape and a line of hot glue.  With a craft blade, I cut out panels from 3 sides and the bottom.

Rough-cut sheets of freezer paper were hot-glued to the box.  In the tutorial he uses tissue paper.  This substitute seems much sturdier.

I've got a bendy lamp with this bulb shining through the right side of the box.  I think I need more lamps.

I didn't have any posterboard to put as the background, so I just used more freezer paper.  It's definitely not ideal because it's not 100% opaque.  I think the lampshade also gave the light a yellow tint.

There's plenty of room for improvements, but at least I got this project started.  You can definitely tell I need more white light and a better background.  These pictures are with the lamp on the right and my camera flash pointing straight up.

It's nice to have a designated area to take pictures with.  Hopefully my cats won't think it's a great idea to jump in it.

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July!

Happy Birthday, America!  I got to try a couple new things here that I now love.  My guinea pigs were my husband's family that came over for some 4th of July festivities.

  • Duncan Hines Golden Vanilla box cake mix
  • cream cheese icing
  • swirled with Ateco tip #845
  • topped with cherry and blueberry pie filling
Last weekend was the first time I saw "Golden Vanilla" in the cake isle at the grocery store.  I don't know what makes Golden Vanilla different than Duncan Hines' French Vanilla cake mix, but they taste pretty much the same.  Yellow cake + vanilla = yum.  Can't go wrong with that.

This was my first attempt to make cream cheese icing.  After some web browsing, I concluded most recipes are butter + cream cheese + powdered sugar.  Easy enough!  I beat 2 sticks of unsalted butter, 2 (8 oz.) packages of cream cheese, and some enough powdered sugar until I liked the taste and consistency.  It probably was close to 5-6 cups of sugar.  I had my husband taste it (since he's the one that loves cream cheese icing).  He suggested a bit of lemon.  I added a few drops of lemon juice and 2 drops of LorAnn's Princess Cake & Cookie emulsion.  It came out very yummy!

I ventured out to the cake supply store the other day and got some Ateco tips.  I've been wanting to try new shapes for topping cupcakes.  Here is tip #845.  It's a 7/16" closed star tube.  Notice how the metal curls.  I really enjoyed piping with this tip.  I piped clockwise from the outside in.

I only needed 1 pass to ice the entire top.  Usually with the 1M I do 2 passes to make it full and tall.  I'm not sure if it was because of the icing (which was very thick and rich) or the tip shape.  It was easy to make a nice end peak too.

Cakecentral.com recently had a post where the baker filled her cupcakes with pie filling and then topped them with cream cheese icing.  I went the lazy route and just put the filling on top.

These cuppies were extremely yummy!  Cream cheese icing has made my favorites list.  It was nice to pipe; it kept its edges nice and crisp.  The left overs were put in the fridge because the cream cheese would spoil.  The icing got firm, but it was still easy to bite in to.  I'm curious to how it would be like to frost a whole cake with this stuff.

Hope everyone had a fun and safe holiday!

As Seen On

As Seen On Capital Confectioners