14 September 2012

Dreamy Cake

While Lauren gave me 'spicy' presents, my friend Sarah, who started this whole word thing, gave me 'dreamy' presents; one of which was an instructional cake decorating book, Cakes to Dream On. While I figured  most of them were quite beyond me, I decided that if I used the shape of one and tried for the decorations of another, I just might have a chance.

Coconut lime butter cream frosting. YES!
I fell in love with one of the cakes decorated with gum paste flowers that look like they've been quilled. So on top of all the Sriracha things I made over the long weekend, I also decided to try my hands at making a dreamy cake. I immediately ordered some dowels and gum paste and spent a good chunk of Saturday dying gum paste and making flowers. By the time Siricha Sunday came around...TA DA!!
From Cakes to Dream On
No, I lie. That's the cake I tried to make, well the decorations anyway, that shape was well beyond me. Gum paste dries out freakishly quickly and I couldn't make the multi colored flowers because they'd dry before I got the next part done. Also I'd get sick of kneading color into the paste so I ended up with really pastel colors. I'm thinking I just need to set aside a big chunk of time to play with the gum paste.

What my quilled gum paste flowers actually looked like.
On to plan b! My friend Dunja gave me a fondant recipe that actually did not sound heinous so I decided to continue with the fondant plan and just decorate with it.

A fondant recipe that calls for honey-interesting
I have to say that I was pleased by the fondant even before tasting it. It was so smooth and pliant and I just knew it would be easy to use. I started with a pale green and separated it smaller amounts to darken the green. I figured if the quilled flowers were a failure, then I should go with shades of green fondant to emphasize the lime-yness of the frosting.

There was a lot of powdered sugar going on
What truly sucked was that because it was so unbearably hot, I had my floor fan in the kitchen, but I had to turn it off while working with the fondant. To make sure nothing sticks, you need to cover your work space with a lot of powdered sugar. And obviously I couldn't have a fan pointed at a table of loose powdered sugar!

Cutting out darker green fondant leaves
All in all I was pretty pleased with the cake when I finished. Sadly it's probably the best decorated cake I've ever managed to turn out. I really need to pick a skill, like gum paste, and sit down and work on it over and over until I've got it; rather than deciding willy nilly that I'm going to do it for a cake I'm making today.

Not too bad!
Coconut lime cake adapted from My Baking Addiction. Instead of cupcakes I used one each 8-inch, 6-inch, and 4-inch round pans. The recipe was enough for all of them.


  • 50 grams of butter or margarine (Dunja told me margarine but I used butter-worked fine)
  • 1 soup spoon of light colored honey
  • half a bag of plain gelatin
  • 30 ml hot water
  • vanilla
  • powdered sugar as needed
  1. First dissolve the gelatin in water and set aside
  2. Melt honey in a small sauce pan but be careful not to boil it
  3. Once melted, remove from heat, add the butter, vanilla (or other flavor, I also used coconut), and gelatin
  4. Add powdered sugar in small batches. Dunja said mix by hand but I cheated and used the bread hook on my Kitchen Aid. If you're mixing by hand, keep adding sugar until you get a pizza dough-like texture. If you're cheating like I did, add sugar and mix on low-medium until the fondant pulls away from the sides of the bowel and wraps around the hook.
The fondant was really easy to work with and, shockingly, not bad tasting! We didn't even remove it from the cake before eating!

03 September 2012

Sriracha Day

Another gift from Lauren, far less traumatic than the napalm caramels, was the Sriracha Cookbook. Yes there is such a thing brought to us by the same genius behind the Sriracha Blog, Randy Clemens. Naturally after I got the cookbook I had to have a Sriracha-themed dinner party!

Perhaps I didn't choose the best weekend for a dinner party with DC being in the upper 80s/low 90s with like a 1,000% humidity. This was yet another realization that while cooking with gas is so much better than electric, cooking with gas in an air conditionless apartment in DC weather is less of a good thing. On the other hand, maybe I sweat off all the calories I was about to put on!

I don't use my food processor often but I love it when I do!
I chose five recipes from the cookbook to try to make: carne asada,  fire-roasted corn chowder, bacon sriracha cornbread, peach sriracha sorbet, and sriracha truffles. The carne asada has quite the marinade which includes tequila and a lot of citrus juice. It always amazes me how lemon and lime juice can find cuts that you didn't even know you had!
I bought the tequila just for this; but we put it to good use later!
I let the meat marinade over night and much the next day, taking it out only when everyone arrived and it was  time to start broiling it. The recipe calls for four pounds of meat, but as a friend of mine rightly pointed out, four pounds is a lot, especially when you have other things. I only ended up broiling about half the meat and I think we ate about half of that.
Mmmm, meat.
Unfortunately my food pictures aren't as good as the ones in the book; but I promise that the carne asada was quite tasty; especially cooled down with a little sour cream and avacado.

Both a little frightening and yet ingenius
The corn chowder was my favorite dish, no contest. Roasting half the corn did, as promised by Clemens, add a smokey depth to chowder that brought it to the next level. Lacking a grill a did as he suggested and roasted the ears over the flame on my gas stove. It was a little scary listening to it sizzle and pop and watching the little mini fires as the silk still clinging to the ears caught fire...but utterly worth it.

I might just start doing this regularly
Yes summer seems an odd time to make a chowder; but it's also when corn is in season so I went for it. It's also a really simple soup to make especially since I inherited an immersion blender from a good friend before she moved across the country. Not having to put the soup through the blender in multiple batches was so nice.
Corn, garlic, red onions, peppers (hiding under the onions)-so simple
I accidentally stabbed myself in the palm of my left hand while I was chopping. No idea how I managed to do that and thankfully it wasn't a mortal wound, but still it made the rest of the chopping and cooking a little awkward.
My kitchen in the midst of the cooking frenzy
The corn bread was equally tasty and easy to put together; especially since I eschewed all the sifting. I get why sifting is a good thing...but partially I'm lazy and largely, in lieu of AC, I had a fan pointed directly at me which would have made sifting flour into some sort of winter wonderland (sans the cold).

Corn bread with BACON!! WIN!
Also corn bread that has bacon? Yes please. Funnily enough, in the carne asada, the sorbet, and the cornbread I forgot the Sriracha! Luckily I remembered just in time each time but I couldn't believe I was forgetting the theme ingredient.

There's bacon grease in each tin. Yes.
Because not all my guests were huge fans of spicy food I slightly lessened the amount of Sriracha in each recipe figuring people could add more as they liked. The one recipe where I didn't do that was the chowder. And wow I think maybe I should have. It is Spicy with a capital S!

Not quite napalm but close!
Do I think I did the awesome job that these recipes deserve? No. I'd certainly change a couple things about how I did the carne asada for round two and put a little less sriracha in the chowder, but overall was I pleased? Sure.

Perfect way to end summer
Would I have thought about making peaches spicy? No. Honestly that never occurred to me. It should have though because it was pretty great. Especially when we'd decided we hadn't drunk nearly enough and mixed the sorbet with tequila and vodka. Not together of course though. Ew. The sorbet had that nice cool, sweet peachyness upfront with a bit of a burn in the back. Not too much of a burn to be intimidating though.

I love my ulu. Any excuse to use it...
Also having just enough burn to be enjoyable were the truffles. Now of course I've put spice with chocolate before; everything from black pepper to cayanne, but I certainly never thought to use sriracha!

Sriracha + chocolate = good
Unfortunately, as I often do, I forgot to take pictures of the finished desserts; we were too busy eating them! The winner for me though was definitely the chocolate. Paired with a nice red wine that held up to the chocolate and all the spices made the truffles a fantastic starter and finish!

Cinnamon & orange zest really added depth to the truffles
Now I'm not going to copy any of the recipes here because that just wouldn't be fair. But I would definitely recommend getting your own copy of the Sriracha Cookbook! Available on Amazon as all good things are!