Thursday, May 28, 2009

Summer Cookies Part I

"She wore an itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellowpolka dot bikini." Oh sorry, I got the song stuck in my head while I was decorating these cookies today. It makes me think of one of life's greatest questions: is it yellow polka dots or a yellow bikini with polka dots? You decide.
Or maybe we can just scrap that altogether and go for the red polka dot bikini.

And as you see I also worked on some school houses. It is my daughter's last day of school Friday and I made cookies for the teachers as a little (very little) thank you.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Lemon Meringue Tartlets

So, ummmm, yeah, I quit my job yesterday. I know it may sound like a stupid move now a days but I do have another job lined up starting around Fathers Day. My boss yanked my last straw and I was not going to put up with it anymore. So, maybe now I'll have more time to play around the kitchen until my new job starts. This week I had played around a little bit. I had a cake to make for my step-dad's aunt who turned 91. I made a white cake for her and had leftover egg yolks because of it so I found a recipe for lemon curd. I just had to figure out what to do with it. And here's what I did:

After I found that recipe for lemon curd online I decided to look through a few cookbooks I have. I didn't have to look too much because I picked up The Art & Soul of Baking first and found Lemon Meringue Tartlets. I tried their lemon curd instead of what I found online. And their recipe asks for shredded phyllo but I was trying to use what I had so I used their other suggestion of Vanilla Shortcrust Dough. I do this all really late at night so I don't have many pictures except the final product.

This is the Lemon Meringue Tartlet. I was going for a more rustic look in the beginning but it wasn't working out so I smoothed all the meringues down before toasting them and then with the left over lemon rinds from the lemon curd I made candied lemon zest to sprinkle over each tartlet. For candied lemon zest see my candied orange peel entry. It didn't take nearly as long to candy lemon zest as it does to candy peels though.

And this is the birthday cake I made that made the lemon curd possible. It looks like a cute little mini wedding cake. It's 4", 6", and 8" white cakes filled with strawberry preserves (I used Polander's strawberry spread) and frosted with good ole' buttercream. I use 1 pound of unsalted butter, 1/4 cup veg shortening and beat those until smooth then add four cups of powdered sugar and beat that until smooth then keep adding 1 cup of powdered sugar until it reaches the right stiffness, usually a total of 8 cups of powdered sugar. Then I use about 1 T of clear vanilla extract and whatever colored dye I may need if I need it.

Lemon Curd

3 large eggs

3 large egg yolks

1 cup minus 1 T sugar

3/4 cup strained freshly squeezed lemon juice

6 T cold unsalted butter cut into 1/2" pieces

  1. Fill large bowlhalfway with ice water and set aside. Fill bottom of double boiler with 2" of water and bring to a boil
  2. Place eggs, egg yolks, and sugar into top portion of double boiler off the heat and whisk til blended. Add the lemon juice and mix. Place egg mixture over double boiler and whisk constantly but not vigorously scraping the sides to make sure the mixture doesn't scramble. Do this for about 7 minutes. A finished curd should register 180* and hold its shape when picked up and dropped back in. (When I did this it didn't necessarily retain its shape but you could see where it had dropped when I picked it up and dropped it back in, like a ghosting of lemon curd. Does that make sense? Let me know if it doesn't.)
  3. Remove from heat from heat and strain through a mine mesh strainer set over another bowl. Add the cold butter peices and let them set for a little bit to let them melt then whisk them in until smooth and there is no more chunks of butter. Press plastic wrap over surface of curd and set bowl in the bowl of ice water. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days. Can also be made with lime juice or passionfruit juice.

Vanilla Shortcrust Dough

1 3/4 cups unbleached AP Flour

1/4 sugar

1/4 t salt

1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" pieces

2 large egg yolks

2 t pure vanilla extract

1 to 3 teaspoons water

  1. This can be done by and or in a food processor. I didn't feel like pulling out my food processor so I did it by hand and therefore that is the way I'll tell you how to do it. First mix togther the egg yolks, vanilla and 1 t water together and set aside. Whisk the flour, sugar, and salt together and add the cold butter pieces. Toss the butter in to coat in flour then either with your hands or a cutter work the butter in until it resembles bread crumbs or crushed crackers. If the butter starts to soften stick it back in the frige for a little bit. Add the wet mix into the dry mix and mix with a fork until evenly distributed. It should look crumbly but hold together when pressed together. If too dry add water 1 teaspoon at a time until it looks like that.
  2. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead two or three times to bring it all together. Wrap in plastic wrap and refirgerate for about 30 minutes.
  3. When ready to make shells roll dough out to 1/4" thickness and cut circles out that will be big enough to fit into a muffin tin, I think I cut mine out to about 5" circles. Spray muffin tins with oil and fit dough circles into each muffin cup. (I didn't have pie weights or beans so I poked the bottom of each tart with a fork to try to prevent risig and it worked pretty well. You may have to do it again halfway through the baking process). Freeze the shells for about ten minutes or until just chilled then bake them in a 375* oven for about 15 minutes or untill golden brown. When completely baked let cool on a cooling rack then turn out and let them completely cool before filling.


4 large egg whites

10 T sugar

  1. Bring the double boiler back out. Fill bottom of double boiler with two inches of water and bring to a boil. In the top of the double boiler whisk together the egg whites and sugar until blended. Place over double boiler and continually whisk while over heat. Keep an eye on the temperature of the egg whites. It needs to reach 160* and can happen pretty quickly. When checking the temperature take the egg whites off the heat. Just keep whisking while on the heat or you end up with scrambled eggs.
  2. When it reaches 160* place in bowl of stand mixer and whip until cooled, increased in volume and look like marshmallow.


  1. Spoon curd into tart shells. There should be left over curd. Spoon meringue over each tart. Art & Soul says to spoon meringue into pastry bag and pipe it onto tarts but I just spooned it on and smoothed it out. Toast under broiler making sure to keep rotating as to not burn the meringue.
  2. Enjoy!

Monday, May 18, 2009


OK. I have a few before class starts and I forgot the book I'm supposed to be reading at home. They blocked facebook and myspace so here I am bored and my good friend Cassie at HTEAC thankfully provided me with distraction. Here it goes:

Metal or non-stick? Depends on what I'm cooking. If it's sturdy enough - metal.

Cast iron or stainless? Cast iron.

Cutting board: silicone or wood? Wood

Knife: carbon steel or stainless? whatever I can get my hands on. My knife kits is stainless I believe

Kitchenaid or hand mixer? I have the Kitchenaid stand mixer and hand mixer

Cooktop: gas, electric, induction? electric :( and not loving it

Side-by-side, freezer on top, fridge on top? freezer on top. I don't really have a professional opinion but I love the freezer on the bottom.

Apron or whoops? At school and work aprons are a must but at home I usually just let it fly. But my mom's making me an apron or two.

Mashed potatoes: by hand, ricer, or mixer? Depends on what I'm in the mood for.

Sandwich or wrap? SANDWICH!

PB & _________ ? raspberry preserves

Pancakes: syrup or applesauce? maple

Cake: scratch or mix?once again, depends on what I have time for. I always prefer to do it myself but if time it tight then mix

Chili: beans or no? NO!

Napkin: cloth or paper? cloth if I'm eatting out but hell if I need something else to wash.

BBQ: takes the whole weekend to make or take out? I would love to do it myself but there's nothing like NC BBQ.

Chicken: white or dark?dark, I love the thigh meat

Ice cream: cone or dish? dish, I like lots of ooey gooey sauce on my ice cream.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Fun With Fondant

I got another mold the other day from for a cake I'm doing for a friend. I got to playing with it yesterday and thought I'd show you the fun I had. One I went to town with and actually painted with luster dust and petal dust to make it look like the Marine Corp seal. The other one I dusted all gold which is what my friend asked for for her cake I'm doing in June. Voila!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Bridal Shower Cake

I just finished doing a cake for a bridal shower. I was given free reign again and was only told that the bridesmaids are wearing navy blue. I already knew I wanted to work on my lace so I just went with the navy blue base and white lace on top. As I decorated it I added to it, like the roses and the fleur de lis. And here's my final product. I hope you like it. More importanly, I hope the customer likes the cake.

Here are some detail shots:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Baby Shower Sugar Cookies

So, those sugar cookies I told you about. Yeah, I got a job to do 3 dozen cookies for a baby shower for a baby girl. And thank God cause I do way better with cute girrly things than boy stuff. I've done these onesie cookies before for another baby shower as an experiment I threw in with a cake I did for hire. So sometimes do things for free pays off. At least I'll keep telling myself that :)
Not much to say about these. I mentioned previously that I did these same cookies for Valentine's Day and you can find the recipe at that blog entry. The same person that put this order in is also ordering a bridal shower cake and if she approves I want to do sugar cookies in the shape of lingerie. I'm already going to the store tomorrow to buy the cookie cutters anyways. If anything they can be swimsuits for the summer.

So anyways, here are a few of my favorite things.... Oooops, sorry. Got musicals on the head a little bit:

"That would be... harsher punishment for parole violators, Stan. And world peace!" --Gracie Hart

Who wants to be a doctor when they grow up?!? I wanna be a rock star!
Give peace a chance.

Tiny baby shout out to HTEAC.

Hey girl! Wassup?

Second star to the right, and straight on til morning.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Muffins, Mussels, and Decorated Sugar Cookies

This weekend I tried another recipe from The Art & Soul of Baking, this time from the quick breads section. The Feta, Roasted Red Pepper and Basil Muffins. I saw the picture of them in the book and the melty feta looked so yummy. My little girl ended up wanting to help me and it was perfect for her. I let her whisk the flour mixture, crumble the feta and mix the feta mixture, and mix the feta mixture into the batter. So, there was plenty for her to do. She was expecting more of a sweet muffin than a savory muffin so she didn't get to enjoy all her hard work. And because a four year old helped me that should tell you how easy this was to make. Whisk all the dry ingredients together, whisk all the wet ingredients together, mix the flavoring agents, pour the wet into the dry, then add the flavor. I've done easier but not much easier.
All these for me?!? Aww, you shouldn't have.


And for dinner Saturday night we had seafood. My step dad had shrimp and I had Mussels a la Mariniere. And my mom nibbled on both. My daughter tried to be brave and try the mussels all during dinner. Finally, she tried one after she had already walked away from the table. And she liked it. But anyways, back to the actual dinner. It was so good. I like mussels on their own but the sauce was a nice compliment. It's white wine, shallots, parsley and butter. It calls for bread crumbs but I used buerre manie instead. I found the recipe online after I found the mussels at the store.

I got three requests for this upcoming week: one for my sticky buns from last week, decorated sugar cookies for a baby shower, and a birthday cake for my aunt Dianne. I really wanted to do the sticky buns but I was way too busy and the cookies are getting me money and the cake is way more important than the sticky buns. So, I'll do them again next weekend.

For the cookies I'm doing the same cookies I did for Valentine's Day. But this time they're cute little baby onesies with sayings like "It's Hard Being A Princess" and "Cutie Pie". I'll have pictures next week to show next week since I'm working on them all this week.

And as for my aunt Dianne's birthday cake I'm doing the Red Velvet Cake that my good friend at How To Eat a Cupcake did before back in February. I love red velvet and use a different recipe each time just to play around. I'm even trying the boiled frosting but can't get it straight. I'm thinking it's a combination of the pot I'm using and the awful electric stove I have. One day I will own a gas stove, I swear. And once again there will be pictures of the finished product next week.

Well, I'm busy busy busy and I'll probably disappear for awhile. For five weeks (maybe more) the only people that will see me will be my co-workers and classmates.

P.S. I'll post the recipe later when I get a breather.