Tuesday, March 31, 2009

How to Make 3-D Chocolate Butterfly Cake Decorations

Here's another view of my 14-LAYER CAKE from Deanna's shower. I couldn't come up with a fun decorating idea for the cake... Until I remembered reading an article about making CHOCOLATE BUTTERFLIES. I don't remember in which magazine I read about this project, but it was years ago. I knew I had to make the butterflies, but without directions, I'd just have to "wing it". (That pun deserves, at least, a snicker!)
Step 1: Melt a square or two of chocolate "bark" in the microwave. Stir until smooth.
Step 2: Cover your butterly pattern with waxed paper and trace your pattern with the melted chocolate. You can pipe it on, use a paint brush, or use the end of a skewer or chopstick. If you don't like the result, toss out the wax paper and start again :-) DO NOT TRACE THE BODY! Your end result should be two separate wings.
Step 3: Melt a couple of squares of white "bark". Make sure your outline has hardened, then fill in your white areas. Next, tint the remaining white bark with "paste" food coloring. (Do not use liquid food color. It will make the bark hard and grainy.) Fill in the remaining areas on your wings and allow to harden. It only takes a few minutes.

Step 4: Drape a sheet of waxed paper over two "wing supports" (I used tongs for the biggest butterfly and chopsticks for the smaller ones). Lay your wings on the supports so they form a "V". Pipe on your butterly body with re-melted chocolate bark. This will connect your wings. Let dry.

Step 5: Pipe out several sets of antenae. Pipe heads onto your butterfly bodies while your antenea harden.

Step 6: Lay a chopstick (or other support) near the butterfly head, add a drop or two of chocolate bark, and position your antenae. Once the butterflies harden, they are ready to use to decorate any of your edible goodies.
For my next butterflies, I am going to try filling in the wings with a solid color (blue might be pretty!), dripping in dots of chocolate, and then cutting the dark color into the blue for a "marbled" effect. I'll let you know how it goes :-)
Hugs and blessings~

Monday, March 30, 2009

Deanna's Shower and "The Cakes"!

So... We had Deanna's Baby Shower at the Kumon Center on Saturday. I was very happy to finally get the chance to meet her beautiful mother, Loretta, and her sister-in-law, Sonya. I think they both had a great time getting to know Deanna's "Kumon family"!

Even Hailey had a great time! (But I think we had an even better time watching and listening to her. She's two years old, and smart as a whip!)

Woo hoo! Both of my cakes came out beautifully, and I'm soooo relieved. Above is my FLOURLESS BITTERSWEET MOCHA CAKE. I'll post the recipe and the tutorial later this week.
This is my 14-LAYER CAKE. I'm very proud of this one! I'll post pictures of the entire baking process later (including making the chocolate butterflies), but I got both the tutorial and the recipe from the absolutely amazing Bakerella. Her pictures are beautiful and her tutorial is easy to understand. http://bakerella.blogspot.com/2009_02_01_archive.html
Hugs and blessings~

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Baby Shower Project - Lifesaver Pacifiers

My friend and collegue, Deanna, is eagerly anticipating the birth of her second daughter. We're having a baby shower for her on Saturday, so my crafting and cooking projects are well under way. The picture above shows the gift basket I put together for her and the diaper cake I made. Cute, right?! Scattered in front of the gifts are LIFESAVER PACIFIERS, wrapped in cellophane and tied with curly bits of ribbon.

So... the directions to make the pacifiers is today's crafty project.

Supplies Needed:
Meringue powder & powdered sugar (for "glue")
1 Bag of Pep-O-Mint or Spearmint Lifesavers (Do not use the rolls. The candies are too small.)
"Jelly Belly" jellybeans (regular sized jellybeans are too big)
Cellophane and ribbons

Step 1: Make a small batch of Royal Icing (glue). Mix one cup of powdered sugar, one tablespoon of meringue powder, and two tablespoons of warm water in mixing bowl for about 5 minutes.
Step 2: Assemble your materials. Lifesavers will have to be unwrapped :-)

Step 3: Put a bit of Royal Icing "glue" on the edge of one Lifesaver. (I put my icing in a bowl and used a chopstick as my "gluing tool".)

Place the glued Lifesaver on top of another Lifesaver as shown above. Hold it for just a moment and it will stick. Royal icing is tough stuff! Place your glued Lifesavers on a cookie sheet and allow to dry for about 10-15 minutes.
Step 4: Put a drop of glue in the center hole and attach your Jelly Belly. I lined mine up along the edge of my cookie sheet in a "standing position". Allow to dry thoroughly before wrapping (15-30 minutes).

There you have it! A simple and quick project, sure to delight a mother-to-be and all of her baby shower guests.
Tomorrow will be my 14-LAYER CAKE project. I'm a little nervous about this one, but we'll see how it goes. Wish me luck!
Hugs and Blessings~

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sushi - How to Make a California Roll

I rolled up some "Maki Zushi" on Friday. This batch of California Rolls was made as a snack for our Easter basket weaving class last Friday evening. ) I'll post a picture of my beautiful Easter basket soon!)

Making California Rolls is easy, fun, and inexpensive. Here's the recipe and a tutorial:

3 1/3 cups uncooked medium grain white calrose rice (Botan or Nishiki brands are good)
4 cups water
Sushi Nori (seaweed sheets)
1/2 cup rice vinegar
4 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 cucumber (peeled, seeded, and cut into thin strips)
1 avocado (peeled, seeded, and cut into strips)
1 package surimi (imitation crab)
Soy Sauce and Wasabi (for dipping)

Sushi Supplies:
Bamboo mat (to roll sushi)
Rice paddle or large, flat plastic or wooden spoon (do not use metal)
Glass baking pan

1. Cook rice. I use a rice maker, but if you dont have one, follow the directions on your rice bag.

2. Make the vinegar mixture: Bring rice vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan. Add sugar and salt. Stir until dissolved. Allow to cool to room temperature.

3. Transfer cooked rice to glass baking pan. Do not use any metal because the vinegar reacts with it and causes a rather unpleasant taste. (Trust me on this!) Gently spread out the rice, and sprinkle in some of the vinegar mixture. Using horizontal cutting strokes, evenly distribute the vinegar into the rice. Taste test. Add more vinegar as necessary and repeat. Don't use too much vinegar or the rice will get mushy.

4. When rice has cooled to room temperature, it is ready to use for sushi rolls!

5. Toast sheets of nori by passing the shiny side over your stove burner. Do this very quickly... a couple of seconds is just about right! You'll see the nori change color just slightly.

6. Lay your bamboo mat out on a cutting board. Place one sheet of nori on the bamboo mat. Spread a paddle or two of rice on the nori, leaving an inch or so with no rice at the ends.
7. Lay your "fillings" on the rice at the end closest to you.

8. Lift the bamboo mat and begin rolling, one time around.

9. Move the mat and continue rolling. You should now have a sushi "log" rolled up in your bamboo mat. Slightly squeeze along entire roll. The roll should be tight, but not "compacted".
10. Using a sharp knife, cut your sushi "log" into 1/2" slices. Serve flat on a plate with wasabi and soy sauce for dipping.

Feel free to change the "filling" ingredients in this recipe. Fill with slivered celery and canned tuna. Smoked salmon and onions? Sliced steak and bell peppers (a Philly Roll?)... Indulge your creativity and enjoy your rolls!
Hugs and blessings~

Friday, March 20, 2009

Can you believe it? I'm blogging!

Hi. Welcome to my very first blog! Here, we'll explore a little of everything... Crafts, cooking, shopping, things I like, and things that bug me.

Today, the peach trees in my back yard are blossoming. Let's file that under "things I like"!

Keep coming back to visit. My next post will be a tutorial on making sushi. Think of what an impact this would make at your next dinner party or potluck! Cool, right?

Hugs and blessings~

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