Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’

Baby Shower Topsy-Turvy Pastry Creme Abyss


Made in two nights for the baby shower of a good friend, to match the crib set she chose and the party decorations at the same time. Sizes are supposed to be 10-9-8, 8-7-6, 6-5-4 inches, though I don’t think I carved out that much from the bottoms. Bottom tier is chocolate with roasted hazelnuts Kahlua ganache, w/ Kahlua simple syrup and espresso to enhance the chocolate flavor of the cake layers (yes, of course the mom-to-be was made fully aware of the potential harmful effects the miniscule trace amounts of liquor and caffeine per slice could have on the developing baby – blah!), middle is vanilla with pastry crème (completely safe!), top is alternating chocolate and vanilla with pastry crème and buttercreme. Covered in SatinIce.


Some more details about this cake, and a picture of the abyss for desert:


… And this is what happens when a 3-tier topsy-turvy gets pastry crème as filling in the middle tier… Bottom was rock solid in its chocolate cake ganache – I think it would have supported the top layers even without the dowels, and the fondant went on as smooth as it ever could! But even while I was filling the vanilla tier, nicely mortared (!), I knew it wasn’t going to survive – I think my pastry crème layers were too generous even with the mortar, and the weight of it all shifted the carved bottom tortes off balance. Still, it survived long enough for pictures…


But that’s not all that went wrong with this cake – or rather this one tier:
— I had to bake one of the vanilla layers twice, as I did cake mix (Dr.Oetker Organics) plus extender, but was on the phone with a friend, and I forgot to add the butter for the extender (!) so it only had the vegetable oil for the mix and its texture would be very wrong – I realized that 5 min into the baking, as I saw my nicely soften butter on the counter – on the bright side, it was ready for the redo, and now I still have two frozen rounds waiting their turn for cake truffles.
— The milk for the pastry crème curdled when I heated it up (with an exp. date 9 days ahead) which threw me completely off schedule as I couldn’t run to the store that instant, in fact not until 4 hours later.
— The white SatinIce was a nightmare… It kept tearing, overstretching, and doing all kinds of weird things, and after the third roll, I decided it was going on the cake regardless – as you can see, it looks like a cheese cloth all over, not like fondant…


Our guests were terrified of losing the cake and wanted me to take it apart right away. I knew its structure had the strength to hold on for a few more minutes, even with the abyss widening, and I was very amused to see their fear of not getting to taste it should it fall over… Well… for a second topsy-turvy (my first was only two tiers) I think it did ok…


Moral of the story for me: I should stick with ganache and buttercream for the topsy-turvies, pastry crème is too much of pain for them, dam and mortar and all, and still a mud slide in the end… But there’s nothing that goes so nicely with vanilla cake as pastry crème, is there?! Maybe next time I’ll throw in a couple of sticks of butter into it, it’s going to keep it firmer, and butter cannot possibly spoil a cake, can it now?! 🙂 


Topsy-Turvy with pastry creme abyss!

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Cakes

Chocolate Chips Cookie Cake w/Wrap

9-inch, 5-layer chocolate chip cookie cake with chocolate mousse filling and chocolate wrap. Way too many people want me to make this over and over again now… I used a soft and chewy recipe for the cookies and the mousse nicely moistens the layers so the cake slices like a regular cake, it has the texture of a cake, cut wedge does not break apart like a cookie, it is super smooth (well, with chocolate chips smooth). It also tastes surprisingly light for the amount of butter and chocolate in it…

Chocolate Chips Cake w/Wrap

Also, a 6-inch version with melted white chocolate chips, the wrap isnot smooth.

White Chocolate Chips Cookie Cake w/ White Wrap

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Wii and controller were unharmed in the making of this cake (unless refrigerating them counts)...

In the peace and quiet of the midnight hours a couple of months ago, I was mindlessly Googling “unique”, “fancy”, “strange”, “elaborate” and the like attributes, placed next to the word “cake”. I was quite determined, too, to steal creative ideas and techniques from anyone’s edible pieces of art, preferably ones without a price tag and “here’s how to order” button.  

And then, the most bizzare cake-related image materialized in front of my eyes, after following a link on page 7 or 17, not sure anymore… a Martha Stewart Wii Cake!!! On the cover of Wired magazine, mind you! I had to have it! It would be full of elaborate directions, an impossible-to-duplicate recipe (without spending 72 straight hours in a kitchen with five ovens, an industrial sized prep island and a team of a dozen bakers) and most of all – it would make me a hero in the geek community of my husband’s friends when I made him a Wii cake for his birthday.  

18 hours later, when hubby brought the magazine home from the office collection of a co-worker with no use for it, I was wondering if I got a defective copy with missing cake pages. After skipping though it forwards and back – twice – I still hadn’t found the five pages a cover story deserves… Eventually, after having diligently read through two-thirds of the magazine, I saw the tiny, useless blurb. Oh well. Nonetheless, the cover was still there – quite enough for inspiration, I suppose. I kept joking with my husband that I was going to make him a Wii cake. I had some other ideas brewing at the time, and in fact a plan for another Halloween/Birthday cake was already set in motion… 

Anyway, hubby’s Halloween birthday party came and went on the 27-th. The primary BloodRayne 2 chocolate raspberry cake fortress was an absolute hit. The secondary pumpkin-shaped, pumpkin-tasting cake also received compliments – in fact, people didn’t realize it was a cake until I sliced throught it! – they thought it was a decoration, yeah! But then, there was cake number three… Can you tell I go overboard in the number of cakes I make for a party?… I must have easily spent $150 just in supplies for those cakes, let alone the sleepless nights to bake and decorate them… Crazy? Maybe.

The fact is, for me it is a form of meditation and self expression… I get to forget about my mile-long, never tamed to-do list at work, I get to listen to the midnight silence, empty of the shrilling chatter and royal demands of our two adorable little guys, and remind myself that occasionally, the “I” in me still exists…  Like an artist watching a painting emerge with each brush stroke, seeing how a shapeless fluid brown mass turns into an evenly baked smooth and fluffy cake layer, which in turn absorbs the fresh, tangy raspberry flavor, to come to full harmony with the layers of smooth melted chocolate and cream — oups, that’s the wrong cake, sorry, check BloodRayne’s castle in the above flavour :-)… That’s a cake right?! And then the really fun part begins, when fondant, just like clay, can be colored and shaped in all things imaginable…

So there was cake number three – flourless walnut cake with meringue cocoa buttercream… Uncut. The other two cakes were so big that even after more than a dozen families left the party with to-go boxes of both cakes, number three was uncut.  

Then, it hit me. Cake number three had been waiting to become a Wii! It was its destiny all along! The night after the party I thought about it… The day after the party I looked at it, peacefully lying in the fridge, nicely cured but completely naked in its buttercream crumb coat.  I also happened to see this great attempt at making a Wii cake before the Wired cover… And I knew what I was doing that night…  

But a white Wii with gray base was already made, nothing original about that… There was still a day left before Halloween, and I did have some fondant left from an orange pumpkin and a black fortress… While my husband’s Wii and controller spent a few hours next to sugar and sharp tools, they were completely unharmed in the making of the cake (unless refrigerating them counts… just joking).

About this cake:

It is called Walnut Cake – it is flourless — and is made from a recipe in a cookbook dated 1962, with yellowish pages and orange fraying linen hard cover that my aunt bestowed upon me back in the days I didn’t know what a cookbook is used for but I vaguely suspected I had to have a “real” one. I could list the recipe in detail, thought I find it more curious to summarize that I made three batches for this 5-layer 9”x13” sheet cake, and among a couple of secret ingredients I used 33 eggs (you read it correctly, thirty-three eggs), 7.5 cups of powdered sugar, 3 cups of white sugar, 2 cups of cocoa powder, 7.5 cups of finely chopped walnuts, 3 cups of ground almonds, 1.5 cups semolina, 2lb of butter, rind of 2 lemons and 2 cups of rum. Yes! – 2 cups of rum! Enjoy.


It’s just a boring cake… until you flip it to its side…



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