Della's Birthday and Some Chocolate Cake

Apology for the rather long break on posting, I was out of town for the past two weekends. I had a chance to go to Napa two weeks ago with a few girls, it was a beautiful day, a bit chilly still but quite warm under the sun. It was nice to get away from everything, from work, from chores at home, from baking, from everything and just enjoying the view. Fortunately, we are all foodies, so it was only natural that food was one of the highlights of the day, lunch, dessert, ice cream, dinner, wine, it was all good.

Last weekend was San Diego, it was quite a long drive but good thing I wasn't driving. It was supposed to be raining all over California that weekend and we were a little bit skeptical in going, but again, it turned out to be a beautiful Saturday in San Diego. The trip was indeed filled with food and more food, beach too, but more food later :)

Although now we are back to the cold and wet San Jose weather, it only makes me crave for summer to come even more. I'm already making a list of cake/dessert for summer and I cannot wait! BBQ, berries, cherries, stone fruits, sangria, watermelon, ice cream making frenzy, ...

It was also my dear friend, Della's birthday about two weeks ago. She actually spent her birthday in Canada with some friends but she "demanded" that I made her a cake for her birthday, especially since I missed doing it for the past two years, which she kept bringing up :). We planned on having the birthday dinner among a group of friends the weekend after she got back, and there was only so little time to make the cake. She didn't even bother requesting what cake she would like as she knew that the chance of she's getting any cake at all is pretty tiny if she starts requesting stuff. It'd have to be whatever I can come up with, in just a short period of time. So there I was combining stuff and stacking them to make it at least a decent one, and I don't think I did a too shabby job at it given less than a day time frame (in my humble opinion of course), although I could probably do a neater job at stacking and trimming it, oh well...

I didn't want to make a chocolate type of cake because I think I made enough lately and craving for something lighter and a bit summery, but I've had a layer of tiramisu cream on top of espresso/rum soaked chocolate cake already assembled in the fridge. So what I did was, I made another layer of chocolate cake, soaked in espresso/rum mixture, dark chocolate whipped cream, rice crispy with hazelnut paste and milk chocolate layer, and a thin plate of just dark chocolate couverture. I made it into a square cake just for a change, and so that I won't have to decorate the side. Luckily, I also had some unfilled macarons in the freezer (which I filled with ganache later on), great time saver for decoration, and the cake was done! I even had time to babysit my baby niece which I don't get to see everyday.

It was nice to gather with friends, it's been a while we haven't done that. We used to just gather and eat almost every weekend, and I miss those days sometimes. What about the cake you might ask? Well, I was a bit disappointed that the crispy layer got soggy because I put the chocolate cream right on top of it. I guess I should pay more attention to the layering sequence in the future to avoid this to happen again., but other than that, it went well, and more importantly, the birthday girl got a homemade cake! Cant imagine the hard time I would get until the next year if I didn't :).

Here is the components that go inside the cake (no recipe sorry, it was just sorta add and mix without any weighing or much thoughts put on it), but I guess this cake is more like an idea of how you can make a decent and tasty cake with what you've already had. Which reminds me that Spring is just around the corner, and that means Spring Cleaning! I have quite a bit of different stuff in my freezer and it's time to clean them up and come up with something.

So here goes:
- chocolate cake drenched in espresso-rum mixture
- rice crispy layer with milk chocolate and hazelnut paste
- chocolate whipped cream
- more chocolate cake with espresso-rum mixture
- tiramisu cream
- chocolate ganache
- chocolate whipped cream (piped in the middle to support the chocolate sheet)
- thin plate of chocolate couverture
- decoration: macarons, gold leaf, chocolate sticks

It sounds a lot and complicated, but it's actually not, some of the layer is repeated.

I have to say that I haven't been baking as much as I used to lately. That doesn't mean that I stop making a list of the things I want to make. St. Patricks day might be over but that does not stop me from wanting to make something with Irish twist, Spring-inspired desserts, Spring-cleaning cakes, oh the list could go on and on, and lastly I want to make something in honor to the tragedy that just happened in Japan.

I'll leave it at that for now and I'm wishing you a great week ahead, don't forget to live your life to the fullest and make it as meaningful as possible as you will never know when the time will come. And lastly, I'm hoping that Spring (real Spring) will come soon.

Jewelry Party Dessert Table

San Jose is cold, wet, and windy at the moment. Definitely the least favorite weather of mine, it makes me want to curl up in bed and not doing anything. The fact that I still have to get up in the morning and go to work is really not exciting. I am longing for the warm weather even more than ever maybe.

Remember when I said I made a few dessert table in the midst of all the chaos that's been happening? This one was made about three weeks after the previous one. It was a smaller dessert table with about 80 desserts total for a jewelry party, four different types for yet another event by Le Amour Events. The theme color for the party involves white, green, and brown, so I tried to come up with a menu that showcases these color scheme.

Dessert Table Menu:
  1. Tropical fruit cheesecakepops
  2. Tiramisu verrines
  3. Salted caramel macarons
  4. Green tea eclair with chocolate glaze

It seems like each dessert had its own challenges, I didn't know what happen, it just did. I've never made cheesecakepop before and let me tell you, it is so much harder to shape up compared to regular cakepops. It was expected really as the texture of cheesecake is soft, it helped a little after a quick trip to the freezer, but it was still difficult. I might go crazy if I was making hundreds of them.

I was also having trouble with the macarons, completely not expected. You see, I always make a schedule, detail plan as to when I need to make certain component, when to decorate, when to buy ingredients, etc. This is very important because my free time is very limited and so everything needs to be planned well, especially in this currently impossible schedule, and I really didn't account for failure at all!. It was raining non-stop here for days or maybe even weeks, I really forgot when was the last time we had sunshine (a bit exaggeration here). To my surprise and disappointment, the first batch of the macaron failed, all of them. The macarons on the first tray looked like an exploded volcano, the others had uneven feet, and all of them weren't as crispy as the ones I made in the past. I would blame it on the humidity from the rain.

I was shocked, alright. Didn't quite believe what had happened, it also happened in the morning before I went to work, which then left me thinking for the whole day what could have gone wrong and how I can find the time to make another batch. Somehow I managed to bake another batch, and the same thing happened! Although this time was slightly better, but I still couldn't help but thinking what have I done wrong. I only needed at least 18 pairs, or 36 individual shells and fortunately I did. I wasn't completely satisfied with the texture and all but I was so glad when I heard that everything turned out great, what a relief!

I made tiramisu hundreds of time before, I know the steps, the measurements and everything by heart so the chance of I messed it up is pretty small. What I didn't know is that I could be so tired that I miscounted the glasses. I needed 18 but I only had 16! I don't know what I was thinking but long story short, I had to make another batch to account for the other 2.

I definitely learned some lessons from this dessert table, one of them is that always take into account some failure in your schedule, very important, so note to self, don't do everything at the very last minute.

All in all, everything was done on time and that I did manage to take a few pictures, not that great but better than nothing. And what makes it all worth it is that everyone is pleased with it :)

I feel like this post has a lot of complaining, please don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the process of it, I guess I was just making a note to myself of what's not to do in the future :D. Ugghh... and I really hope this weather can change soon and then comes Spring, cannot wait!

Onto the giveaway winner now. The winner is ...... (drum roll please) Hengky in San Jose, according to Congratulations and enjoy! I will send you the detail of the gift card shortly.
Thank you to all who participated.