Monday, 31 October 2011

halloween cuppies!

"healthy" halloween cupcakes?... yep, that was the order! i used a vegan chocolate cake recipe and reduced the sugar, and they still came out very moist and yummy! i reduced the butter in my buttercream and tried to use it sparsely... not so easy when one has a cute design idea in mind! hope the teachers at felix leclerc enjoyed them :)

vegan chocolate cupcake with vanilla buttercream and fondant pumpkin
photocred: Carolyn Chin

photocred: Carolyn Chin

Thursday, 20 October 2011

baking nerd

hi all :) sorry it's been a while since my last post, i've been busy re-doing my bedroom! as i didn't have any cake orders in the last week, i've used this time to do some pastry (and cooking) reading. i absolutely LOVE cookbooks. i'd take them over a novel any day; add pictures and i will read that baby cover to cover! discovering new flavour combinations and presentation ideas is invaluable to a chef. recently i've gone a bit overboard book shopping. i hit the jackpot at winners in the book section- found 3 cookbooks i had been on the lookout for, for over half off! i couldn't not buy them! i've gone through a good chunk of each one already, and was impressed by "the art of the dessert" by ann amernick (she worked in the white house!). each recipe is founded on multiple simple, good recipes, and is clearly written and organized. love it!

[on another note, "bon appetit: fast, easy, fresh" by barbara fairchild is going to be my new dinnertime/ anytime bible... amazing]

sooo i love cookbooks. i'm also a sucker for a good deal. when the mediatheque at my school had their used book sale, guess who was first in line to get in? (actually though.. thanks for letting us out of class, chef!) i bought an old school "larousse gastronomique" from '67, i figured it was one of those staples that every chef should have. and yes, it is literally a dictionary for cooking terms. nerdy much?
i also was lucky enough to spot the only copy of "baking and pastry" by the culinary institute of america.. for a whopping $4! that actually made my day :) ahh so i now go to bed reading my new cookbooks... heaven.

just a portion of my ever-growing cookbook collection :)

UP NEXT: halloween cupcakes, a bunny birthday cake and a tropical surprise birthday cake... stay tuned :)

Sunday, 2 October 2011

cheesecake converts

this weekend was my friend chris's birthday, and his wonderful girlfriend jess managed to pull off a spectacular surprise party for him! knowing that there would be a big crowd, i bought a few desserts from school and saved them for the occasion. for the piece de resistance, i decided to go for a classic new york style cheesecake, chris's favourite. i went all out and bought a 1.5 kg package of philadelphia cream cheese (nothing else compares!)... which meant i would use ALL of it in the recipe :) i had so much batter that i was able to make a 2 tier cheesecake and 12 cheese-cupcakes for my family to enjoy.

btw... minor problems as i was baking the cheesecake. i've heard and read of many methods of baking in order to achieve a perfect cheesecake: baking in a water bath, heating the oven then turning it off and letting the remaining heat cook the cake, greasing the sides of your springform pan so the cake doesn't retract and crack, etc... it seems that every baker on the web has their own method of baking, and they swear by that one only! i was a bit torn as to what to try so i simply did it the "regular" way of baking, in a 350F oven until it was almost done then removing it so it can finish baking with the heat already absorbed in the cake. let's just let the picture speak for itself (try not to laugh)...

cheesecake faillll
alas, i was able to salvage the cake. it tasted great despite the grand canyon-sized crack running through it. i think the crack may have been due to overbeating the batter but i could be mistaken, as i found the texture of the finished cake very smooth and light, which i liked! i'll have to keep testing different baking methods. i slathered it with lots of raspberry jam, applied praligrain on the sides and then assembled the 2 tiers (thank goodness the top one turned out nicely!). to finish, i topped it with fresh strawberries and raspberries. ta daaaa, no one even noticed the uneven-ness in the bottom tier. i got such great reviews from everyone at the party! four people even told me that they aren't cheesecake fans, but they loved this one! made me feel so warm and fuzzy inside, and it reminded me of why i love this profession :)

happy birthday chris!!