My Cake Decorating Gallery

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mini Key Lime Tarts and Rum Cakes

The Husband's coworkers were having another gathering and the theme again was cuban! I decided to think of some island-y desserts and one of our favorites is key lime pie. I have a mini tart pan and thought it would be great to put that to use and make mini key lime tarts with meringue.

I made a basic graham cracker crust - one or two batches (you'll know if you don't have enough, it takes no time to whip up more) and pressed it into my mini tart pan - high up on the sides so that the pies would (hopefully) pop out easily.  Then I made my favorite key lime pie filling recipe (per Blue Heaven Restaurant in Key West) to pour into each cup. That gets baked for a few minutes to set and then I let them cool. Last, I whipped up some meringue and piped it on top of each tart which I had already removed from the pan (they came out pretty easily!)

The meringue got golden and toasty under the broiler for a few minutes and then the tarts were complete. This is one of The Husband and I's very favorite desserts. I think we finally realized that we prefer sweetened whipped cream topping instead of meringue... however that is something I will have to reserve for serving this pie at home where I can keep everything chilled. These mini tarts with the meringue topping did fine sitting out for a few hours during the party.

I also decided to try out a recipe that I heard from a friend is popular in the Caribbean islands - rum cake! I found a copycat recipe online and gave it a whirl and decided it was time to use my mini tea cake pan. That pan has a lot of details and the rum cakes worked out OK but I think a tea cake recipe would be best for that pan in the future. The rum cakes were tasty - a rum-infused cake batter which incorporates nuts and gets baked until golden brown. Then a sweet vanilla island rum syrup (with tons of real rum) is created and poured into the warm cakes to soak in. This results in a moist little vanilla rum flavored cake with a zing - you can tell there's alcohol in it!

Basic Graham Cracker Crust
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (pulse in your cuisinart food processor, I used my mini one)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
a touch of cinnamon

Mix until a wet sandy mixture is formed and press into the bottom of your pie/tart pans. Bake in the oven at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

Key Lime Filling
Recipe claimed to be from Blue Heaven, a restaurant in Key West famous for their key lime pies
(this is a half batch which will be more than enough for 24 mini tarts)

1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
1/2 cup fresh squeezed key lime juice (use key limes or it won't be the same!)
4 egg yolks

Whisk in a stainless steel bowl. Pour into your already baked graham cracker crust shell(s).

Meringue Topping
This will make more than enough meringue -

4 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/6 cup of powdered sugar

Beat egg whites to a soft peak. Add cream of tartar and continue whipping until a stiff peak is achieved. Whip in the confectioners' sugar until stiff peaks are formed. Decoratively add the meringue on top of your previously baked and cooled mini key lime tarts. Place in the oven under the broiler and broil (carefully) until your peaks have a golden attractive color. Or, bake in a preheated oven at 450 until your meringue is golden in color.

Let cool and enjoy!

Almost Tortuga Rum Cakes
as seen here on this website

  • Basic Cake Mix
  • 2 cups cake flour
    1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
    4 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup butter , cut into bits
    3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • For the Cake
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
    1 (3 1/2 ounce) package vanilla instant pudding mix
    1/2 cup milk
    4 eggs
    1/2 cup whaler vanille rum (Hawaiian-style rum)
    1/2 cup vegetable oil
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Rum soaking Glaze
  • 1/2 cup butter (do not substitute)
    1/4 cup water
    1 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 cup whaler vanille rum (Hawaiian-style rum)
  • Directions
  • Basic Cake Mix:
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine basic cake mix ingredients.
  • On low speed combine ingredients until the mix is the consistency of fine gravel, and all particles are about the same size.
  • This mix may be contained and stored for up to 3 months in the refrigerator.
  • For the Cake:
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Spray a large Bundt pan (12 cup) with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Sprinkle the chopped walnuts on the bottom.
  • Place Basic Cake Mix, pudding mix, milk, eggs, rum, oil, and vanilla extract in a large bowl and combine on medium speed with electric mixer for 2 to 3 minutes, scrape down the bowl halfway through.
  • Batter should be very smooth.
  • Pour into Bundt pan.
  • Bake for about 55 minutes- until fully golden and tester comes out clean and cake springs back.
  • Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack while making the soaking glaze.
  • Rum Soaking Glaze:.
  • Combine butter, water and sugar in a small saucepan.
  • Bring to a boil carefully as mixture boils over very easily.
  • Reduce to a simmer and cook until sugar is dissolved and syrup is well combined and a little thicker.
  • Remove from the heat and add the rum, mix to combine.
  • While cake is still cooling, pour some of the hot syrup on top of the cake, allowing it time to soak in (this may take a few minutes as there will be a lot of syrup) continue to add syrup until all of the syrup is added.
  • Allow cake to cool completerly in pan before turning out onto serving platter.
  • This cake is delicate, so once it is turned out, it can not be moved around easily.
  • Can be eaten when fully cool, but even better the next day!

Planning Cake Portions and Servings using Cake Mix Boxes

I'm not sure why I didn't think of this earlier but I think this post might be helpful for many at-home bakers. Do you catch yourself asking, how many cake boxes do I need for this cake? I took a really basic cake decorating class a few years ago and the teacher gave us this simple hand out which had some numbers as to how many cake mixes you need for a particular size pan and how many servings it yields. The hand out was clearly copied from somewhere and I do not have the original source but I know it was not that class nor teacher, so oh well. I have fixed it up and added my own spin on things and created a handy PDF that you can download and print and use for your future reference.

A few notes:
1. Yes this is talking about using those store-bought cake mix boxes to make celebration cakes, wedding cakes, whatever kind of cake you want. I full well know how to make some kick-butt from-scratch cakes but sometimes I choose to use cake mixes. For an intricately decorated cake, I often prefer to focus my time on the decorating. Cake mixes are predictable and easy to use and taste fine

2. You can use doctored cake mixes or your own scratch cake recipe and still benefit from my serving and size estimations by using the following conversion: a cake mix box typically yields about 4.5 to 5cups of batter. You can measure out your batter and fill up the pans 2/3rds full and continue on as noted in the PDF

3. I tend to prefer Betty Crocker cake mixes and the "butter recipe" flavor variations are the best

Click here for the Kitchen Bliss Cake Portion Planning PDF

Ahh... Simplicity

I finally took some time to make a new blog title image. The previous one was definitely ugly and I am happy to see it gone. I hope you enjoy the new simple look, although the baked good that is featured is truly nothing special, but I guess sometimes it is the simple things that make us happy. I hope you all find yourselves having a great 2012!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ice Cream Pie - One of my New Favorites

You can't beat a super simple dessert that doesn't really require any baking but it's decadent and everyone will love it! I never thought to make my own ice cream cake (or pie) until some of our good friends brought over dessert a few months ago. They had stopped at TCBY and it was this chocolate decadance ice cream cake(pie?). I keep calling it a cake but there's no actual cake in it, so.. I guess it's a pie. I thought to myself - boy, this is delicious... AND... I could easily just make one of these myself but use my own flavors and toppings. Yum!

So, I waited a while for the right occasion to try this out - finally I had offered to bring over dessert to The Husband's parents house... I can't remember the occasion. End of summer, I think. Anyway, I found a recipe for a homemade chocolate cookie crust - 2 cups chocolate graham crackers, 1/2 cup melted butter, 1/3 cup sugar. For my 10 inch round cake pan that is 3 inches tall, I needed at least 1.5 batches of this crust, if not two. I wanted tall sides to my crust to hold all the ice cream in. Plan on using 2 of the 3 packages of graham crackers out of the graham cracker box.

Pat the crust into a springform pan and press against the sides, also. Bake at a 400 degree oven for 5-10 minutes and let cool.

Meanwhile, you could make your own ice cream if you have the time/equipment, but otherwise, take your ice cream out of the freezer and start to let it melt. I ended up microwaving mine for a few seconds here and there. Get out your other cake fillings also - anything goes here - chopped up cookies, snickers bars, nuts, candy, chocolate chips, fudge, caramel,... you name it!

Spread the soft ice cream into the cooled crust. I ended up making this cake a 2nd time, for the "adult" dessert at my son's 1st birthday party. The first time I made the cake, I used 2 flavors of ice cream and in between the two layers, I had oreo cookies and Sanders hot fudge spread around. The second time I made the cake, I used one gallon of ice cream but forgot to make a middle layer so I just dug some oreo cookies down in it and put the rest on top, topped with more Sanders hot fudge. I personally would like snickers bar chunks in here but I was avoiding nuts for some of my guests. Peanut butter cups and such would be great in here also, however, The Husband is really weird in that he hates peanut butter!

Anyway, the idea here is - fill up your crust with any ice cream flavor, topping, and filling that you can think of. I then used cool whip and took out a large star tip decorators tip and piped on a nice border of whipped cream. More oreos/chocolate chip cookie chunks/etc and hot fudge should definitely go on top for decoration. You could either be really casual and have a mish-mash on top, or you could spend some time making a really pretty design on top also.

After the crust is filled up (oh by the way, feel free to use whatever flavor crust you might like!), pop this puppy into the freezer. The first time I made this, I made it in the morning and took it over to another location and it had to go into the freezer there for a few hours also and it was still sorta soft by dinner time. The 2nd time I made it, I froze it overnight and it was as expected - rock solid - so that is ideal. You can let it soften for 10 minutes before cutting, but otherwise a sharp knife will do the trick. 

This is one of my favorite desserts and it takes no talent whatsoever. I used Hudsonville ice cream which is a Made-In-Michigan local product and it is absolutely fabulous along with the best-ever Sanders Milk Chocolate Hot Fudge, another Detroit specialty. Using high quality ingredients will set this over the top and your guests will love it. Enjoy!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Baby Shower Cake for Shiloh


Our wonderful friends are expecting to bring home little Shiloh any day now. I was very excited to make the baby shower cake for their family and friends. I was looking online for cute girl cake ideas and didn't come up with much until I saw this adorable owl theme. I decided to go with it since my little Clark's room has forest animals in it also and I really love owls. I thought it was a nice unusual animal but still cute for a girl-themed cake.

I used Rose Levy Beranbaum's mousseline recipe, it took one 11 cup batch and one more 5 cup batch on top of that and there was none to spare. I used the white chocolate mousseline recipe (and when I used white chocolate chips, they seized up and made for a gritty texture but this was OK) which I mixed sweetened shaved coconut into. I thought this was the best buttercream filling I've had in ages, I'd definitely do this again with the mousseline! I used the coconut filling for the bottom tier. For the top tier, I used mousseline mixed with raspberry preserves.

I used pink polka dotted ribbon to trim the cake and just used a frosting comb for the sides. I wasn't too pleased with the final smoothness of the cake but I really didn't have any more frosting to help me out with that. I tried out a new ready-made fondant from Sarah's Cake Supplies (which actually tastes good unlike the Wilton stuff!) and I made the separate colors for the owl the day before. I placed them on the cake then also, and left it all out overnight and everything was fine the next day.

Since Shiloh is from Ethiopia, I wanted to honor her heritage by bringing that into the cake design somehow. I decided to color the cake layers of the bottom tier into red, yellow, and green which matches the Ethiopian flag. I told Andrea and Jan that there was a surprise when you cut into the cake and everyone seemed to like that so I was happy I tried it out.

This was a really fun cake to make and it was nice to get back into the cake-decorating swing of things with a little one around. Hope to be adding more blog posts soon!