My Cake Decorating Gallery

Friday, July 31, 2009

Cookies For A Cause: Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies

Mmmm, moist carrot cake with a sweet cream cheese frosting. Maybe not the most common dessert, but carrot cake is one of the classics and it is delicious. For my latest charity cookie event, I decided to continue on with Martha Stewarts "Cookies" cookbook and chose these Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies. These are delicious! And the recipe truly does make a lot of cookies. Martha says 36 and maybe if you make them a little smaller (Watch out, the batter spreads - really keep it to a tablespoon per cookie!) but I probably ended up with 50 for a double batch. Some of those didn't make it because I didn't bake them long enough and they were too tender... these plus the ones at the end of the baking which missed out on the frosting went to work "naked" and these scraps were also gobbled up.

The cookies are cakey and tender, just like the category in the cookbook that they are listed under advertises. They have a wonderful spice to them - the cinnamon, ginger, and freshly grated nutmeg were perfect with the sweet raisins, oatmeal, and grated carrot. I hadn't grated carrot before but it wasn't so bad once I realized the fastest way was to throw small chunks into my mini cuisinart chopper - easy peasy!

Once the cakey carrot circles were baked golden brown and then cooled completely, I sandwiched them with a cream cheese buttercream frosting and chilled them overnight. I had about 36 cookies to bring into work and we made over $28 for Alzheimer's Association. That makes a total of over $150 collected for charities with my Cookies for a Cause adventure. So far, so good!

Like I've been telling my coworkers, I'll keep baking if they keep donating! I can't wait to see how far we'll have gotten by the end of the year. Maybe this will inspire some one else to do the same thing, too! Thanks for looking.

Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies
Here is the recipe on Martha Stewart's website. Enjoy!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Daring Bakers: Milano Cookies

The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network. Now, I only had time for the "Milan" cookies which... which was too bad because I know I would love the marhsmallow bars, but hopefully I'll get to try those sometime. I've had the Pepperidge Farm Milanos, which look exactly like these Milans, so I was pretty much expecting these cookies to turn out that way...

The Milanos weren't great.. first, I definitely piped them too thick so they all spread out and ran into eachother in the oven.

I also was busy working on a birthday cake and a blueberry buckle and these Milano cookies were just an afterthought... so when I was trying to jam my third cookie sheet into the oven, the parchment paper slipped off onto the floor. Haha.. so I had a smaller batch than normal.

The batter itself was interesting, basically a buttercream (butter and powdered sugar) and then you mix in a bunch of egg whites and vanilla and lemon extract. It was tasty batter, light and airy.

The real Milano cookies like Pepperidge Farm makes are light and sandy, but unfortuantely these resulted in chewy things, and possibly because I underbaked .. or who knows. The chocolate filling was cream, chocolate, and orange rind (orange chocolate ganache) so these had a lovely citrus overtone... not exactly the classic Milano but more like the orange version they sell at the store.

All in all, this recipe wasn't what I was expecting and I didn't execute it very well and it wasn't my best Daring Baker showing, but it was tasty cookie and a fun experience and I am glad for the opportunity. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Impossible Cake

This was something I've been meaning to try for over a year. I never would have thought of it except for a fellow highschool classmate - Heather - who I have found on Facebook, who is an extremely talented cake decorator, had done something similar for her class and had posted a picture. I couldn't find anything about an "impossible" cake online but eventually came across something famous in London called the Puzzle cake which looked similar, but a little more frumpy than Heather's.
There were directions for this frumpy Puzzle cake but I didn't quite like them and it didn't match up with Heather's 100% so I decided to make a game out of it and visualize and sketch out how this possibly was done. The "impossible" part is that when you take a slice of this supposedly normal looking cake, there is a section of cake layers that are going in totally different direction as the normal horizontal cake layers. Normal people don't really think much about this but for some one who bakes cakes, this is quite the puzzle as to how this is done.

The main idea was to make an alternating layered cake and then cut out a triangular ring, as close to an equilateral triangle as possible, and then rotate the ring and put it back on the cake, covering it with your last reserved layer.

This didn't quite go as smoothly as I had envisioned, I imagine in pastry chef school and as well as the Puzzle Cake description I saw online that, this should be done with stretchy sponge cake and not tender, moise box cake. However, I don't really like sponge cake that much so what was the point of something that looked cool but tasted like mushy nothingness? Box cake it was, and since the cake was for a family member's birthday, at least my audience would understand.

When I flipped the tubular triangle wedge upside down and back on the cake, the box cake totally crumbled off in some places and it looked like a total mess. I didn't even take a picture because I was thinking "well I guess I can just... bake a new cake real quick." But, something told me to just try and patch all of the sorry pieces back together with more frosting. By golly, it actually seemed to stay put and I quickly covered this piecemeal mangled layer with the last reserved layer of cake. With one final chocolate frosting coating all over the cake, it actually looked like a normal cake. I couldn't believe it!

I was hoping that even though I knew there were broken shards of cake in there, that we would still see the cool diagonal layer inside of a slice of cake, and that it didn't crumble as soon as I sliced it. Unfortunately I wouldn't be able to find out until after dinner and it was time to serve the cake to Chris!

I couldn't believe my eyes when I took the first slice of cake - it had worked! I was very excited. If I were to do this again, I would make the section opposite cake layers even larger so that it was more pronounced. I used a new chocolate frosting recipe from Martha but since it turned out sorta lumpy, I'm not going to mention which one. Hope you had a happy birthday Chris!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Cookies For A Cause: Apple-Cherry Crumble Bars

With another edition to my Cookies for a Cause charity adventure, we have the Apple-Cherry Crumble Bars up next!

I am still going with my goal to bake as many delicious recipes out of Martha Stewart's "Cookies" recipe book, and so far, so good. This was an easy pick because I knew The Husband (and my coworker Padma) would love this - anything with a cinnamon crumble and apples is going to be a winner for him. We would have collected more money for charity if I hadn't let him get into one of the trays of bars. :)

These tasty treats consist of a cinnamon spiced crumble topping that is mashed into the bottom of the pan, which is then topped with apple cider-steeped dried apples and dried cherries. Then more crumble topping goes on top of the fruit and then you bake. These are tender crumbly bars and quite tasty! It would be a good fall dessert, it tastes like a dutch apple pie plus dried cherries for a little zing. Yum!

I brought these into work to raise money for the Disabled Veterans of America and I am happy to report that I raised over $20! Not bad for a company that is in Bankruptcy!!! That brings a total of over $86 raised for charities, with the first $50 having gone to the Capuchin Soup Kitchen. This Cookies for a Cause adventure I've started seems to be going well so I am happy to keep going and see how much we can raise.. and how many cookies we can try. :)

Apple-Cherry Crumble Bars