Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Dessert Table for Bridal Trunk Show and A CSN Giveaway


It's been raining, more rain, and more rain here in San Jose, temperature dropped more than 20 degrees since my last post. It's sad that I can't enjoy the peak of cherry blossom season in warm sun and stroll around the park full of them. The weather site also predicted a chance of snow in the bay area! How cool is that!

I've also been working on 12-16hr/day of work schedule every single day for the last two months or so. It is not fun at all indeed, and I haven't had sleep deprivation in so long until these past few months. I was seriously thinking of just bringing comfy sleeping bag to keep in my cube. So, forgive me for lack of updates. What makes things worse is that my mom is here for the last 3 months and I feel so bad for not spending enough time with her. She's going back to Indonesia this Saturday, and I'm determined to take one day off tomorrow from work, hopefully everything goes well and I can do that with no problem. I let myself think that this timing for crazy work schedule is "perfect" for this bad weather, because if it's all sunny and nice outside, I would be really bummed having to spend the whole day inside the office. Sad, I know, but anything to make me feel better is certainly appreciated nowadays :)


With that, I haven't been able to bake for experiment at all, although I did manage making some desserts for a few dessert table and this is one of them. This dessert table, which fell on my birthday, was for a bridal-opening party for around 100 people, about 350 desserts total. In all craziness that's been happening, I was actually very happy that everything finished on time, even when that means only 3 hour of sleep that night. Special thanks to Randi from le Amour Events who organized this and BoLee Bridal Couture who hosted the event. It is surely an honor to be able to take part.

Sure there are a lot I wish I can do differently if I had more time but I couldn't be happier when I received the positive feedback, making all the sweat and the lack of sleep worth it. Many thanks to my mom and my brother who helped me out in the dawn of the night to make this happen. Wouldn't be able to do it without them.




Dessert Table Menu:
  • Fromage Fraise Verrine
    vanilla sponge soaked in red berry coulis - red berry gelee (raspberry & strawberry), cheese mousse
  • Red Velvet Cakepops
    with cream cheese frosting, dipped in white candy melts
  • Silk Pudding with Passion Fruit Coulis
  • White Chocolate Mango Cheesecake
    with jellied cream on top and almond crust
  • Raspberry and Rose Marshmallow


This was also the first time I made homemade marshmallow. I chose raspberry and rose flavor because it suits the color theme (pink) and anything with rose is gotta be romantic. I love the texture of homemade marshmallow a lot better than store-bought, although I have to say that it was still too sweet for me, but now that I know, it should be perfect next time :). I'm already thinking passion fruit marshmallow, strawberry & orange water marshmallow, endless possibilities!



I didn't have the chance to take any pics, all pictures for the dessert table are courtesy of Daniel Lee.


I baked the leftover cheesecake batter into individual cake ring mold and topped it with mango gelee and decorated with raspberry coulis. And as you probably have guessed, I went to take 3-hr nap immediately after the desserts were picked up :), a very-much needed nap indeed before birthday dinner :).

Now, onto the giveaway post. I have had the privilege to host CSN giveaway for three times and this is gonna be the forth time for $40 CSN Gift Certificate. I can't stress enough how generous they are providing all this wonderful giveaways and with hundreds of sites, they definitely have E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G you would ever need. I especially love this adjustable bar stools to put around the kitchen island or bar area. Oh I cannot wait to have my own place, I've always had this dream of having a real modern yet warm house with lots of windows for natural light to get in. This bar stool definitely going to make a great addition to my dream house :)

How to enter:
  • Must be US or Canada resident
  • Leave a comment on this post between now until Sunday, March 6, 2011 at 12am (PST)
  • Winner will be drawn randomly through random.org
  • No anonymous comment please. Please also enter in your email address if you disable your profile view.
  • One comment per person, multiple comments are welcome but only count as one entry
Have a blessed weekend!

White Chocolate and Mango Cheesecake

Crust:
95 g almond powder
55 g graham cracker crumbs
30 g sugar
3 Tbs. butter

Cheesecake Batter:

3 (8-oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
100 g sugar
1/2 vanilla bean seeds
3 eggs
5-oz white chocolate
150 g mango puree/pulp
  • Prepare the almond crust: Mix all ingredients together and press it onto the bottom of 8" round springform pan. Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until slightly brown. Let cool while you prepared the cheesecake batter
  • Prepare the cheesecake batter: With a paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese, vanilla bean seeds and sugar until smooth.
  • Add the egg, one at a time. Mix well
  • Melt the white chocolate and mix it into the batter
  • Lastly, add the mango puree/pulp and mix well
  • Pour onto the prepared crust
  • Bake in waterbath at 300F for about 50-60minutes, or until the edges are set but the center is slightly jiggly when shake gently.
  • Let cool and refrigerate overnight.
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Monday, February 7, 2011

Valentine Dessert Idea: Strawberry and Pistachio Mousse Cake with Red Berry Gelée




I'm going to begin this post with the weather forecast, just because I'm too excited over it :). While the rest of the country is covered with deep snow, even ice, when Texas is snowing, when midwest is hit with very cold temperature and storm, when everywhere in radio or TV talks about how to stay warm and all, here is low 70F in CA! Spring arrived a bit early this year, not that I'm complaining, in fact, I'm way too excited! It's usually raining the whole time in January and February and very cold, while we had our share of rain in December or early January, we're having sunshine ever since! For the first time since last Summer, I opened my window in the afternoon, I worked in the garden a little bit, I even wear shorts last night because it was too warm in my room! I'm planning to wear a cotton dress today too!


Last Friday night, when I was heading out from work at around 9:30pm (yes, this has become regular, even 11pm :() to grab some dinner with coworker, I managed to give him a slight heart attack I think. I saw the plum blossom (or cherry blossom) tree in the parking lot and they're blooming! I immediately squealed out of joy, I think he gave me this you're-a-weird-woman type of stare, he must have thought I'm some kind of a mad woman probably. If you know me, I wait for this time to arrive each year, just to see the cherry tree blossoming, covered with beautiful pink/white little flowers. It is not fully bloomed yet, but it made it looks more exotic and zen that way :). I think if I were by myself and out in the day, I would have picked a few branches to preserve it at home, take a gazillion picture of it, decorate cake with it, and stare until the flowers felt creep-ed out by me (if it's even possible). Yes, I love cherry blossom that much! Each year when it's blossoming, I always manage to make some fondant cake and decorate with cherry blossom theme here and here, both for my brother's bday. He did complain why does he always get this girly cake on his birthday, but hey the baker gets all the power to decide how she wants to decorate it, right? It was always raining in the previous years and it was always late in the season by the time I have time to make cake, so I haven't been able to decorate with real flowers in the past, but hopefully I will this year


Now that I got that out of my head, let's go to the real post. I am not much of a Valentine type of girl, well maybe not yet, but when the rest of the world gets excited over the most romantic day of the year, I just have to participate. Besides, I am such a sucker for any pink/red type of dessert (naturally colored is preferred) and who needs a reason to make a pretty pink cake anyway?



I received an email from California Strawberry a while ago, informing me that they are hosting a "Romantic Recipe Contest" for Valentine's day that would showcase strawberries and asking me if I would like to participate. My immediate first thought was "absolutely!". First, it's an excuse for me to go all the way (or almost all the way) and be creative; Second, it's a contest. Although I wouldn't say that I'm a highly competitive person, but when I am in a competition, who wouldn't want to try hard to win? Third, it's strawberries, which means pink. Enough reasons.


Align Center
Sure enough, my mind was full of different ideas for this, all sorts of combination, texture, and decorating ideas are floating around my brain and I just had to put in in a spreadsheet (can't live without spreadsheet) so that I can keep track. From the easy desserts to the most complicated desserts, it seems like the longer I think, the more headache I get, but I finally nailed it down to one, strawberry and pistachio. This combination of flavor is one of the classics and it makes a really nice couple, you can see this combo all around Pierre Herme's and Laduree's creations too just to name a few. To show the different layering of the dessert, I made it into a square shape; and since it's not a Valentine without anything heart-shaped, I also made heart-shaped pink macarons to go along with the cake. There are quite a few components of the dessert including pistachio joconde, red berry gelée (from raspberry and strawberry), pistachio bavarois, strawberry mousse, and also the pink heart macaron, but dividing it into few days will make it a lot easier to execute. I made a slight mistake calculating the time needed for each layer, which resulted the red berry gelée not having enough time to properly chill. You can see that the layering of that is not perfect, which bothers me, but I'll make it right next time :)



I submitted my photo and recipe just one day before the due date, and there are lots of gorgeous entries already! You can check them out at their fan page. The winner hasn't been announced yet but even if I don't win anything, I would still be grateful for the opportunity to participate. Without the contest, I wouldn't have any excuse for myself to make anything Valentine, of course winning is not so bad either :).


Valentine's day is a week away and even though I will be gone somewhere out there in the snow going snowshoeing in Yosemite (possibly meet a bear or two) on the Valentine's day weekend, I'm hoping I can make at least another Valentine dessert this week, an easier one I hope, if I can juggle between a birthday cake, snack for the trip, and more :)

Pistachio and Strawberry Mousse Cake

Pistachio joconde:

  • 2 whole eggs
  • 75 g almond powder
  • 75 g confectioners' sugar
  • 30 g pistachio paste
  • 20 g flour
  • 70 g egg whites
  • 20 g granulated sugar
  • 15 g melted butter
  • Preheat the oven to 400 F
  • Combine the eggs, almond powder, confectioners' sugar, and pistachio paste in a mixer bowl.
  • Beat the mixture for about 10 minutes until it's thick
  • In another bowl, beat the egg whites and granulated sugar until it forms a soft peak, set aside.
  • Sift the flour into the almond mixture and fold well.
  • Add a little bit of the meringue to the almond mixture, fold lightly.
  • Add the melted butter, fold.
  • Finally, add the rest of the meringue in two addition and fold carefully until it is well-combined
  • Divide the batter into two 8" square pan, it'll be thin
  • Bake the cake for about 10 minutes or until the top is slightly brown

Red Berry Jelly

  • 50 g strawberry puree
  • 50 g raspberry puree
  • 75 g sugar (adjust depending on the sweetness of the fruit)
  • 1 tsp. gelatin (bloomed with 1 Tbs. water)
  • Combine the two red berry puree and sugar in a small saucepan and bring it to a gentle boil
  • Melt the gelatin in a microwave for a few seconds, then add it into the puree.

Let cool slightly and pour into 8" square cake ring that has been lined with plastic wrap (for easier removal

Pistachio Bavarian Cream:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 30 g sugar
  • 20 g pistachio paste
  • 80 g milk
  • 1/8 vanilla bean seeds (or used vanilla pods)
  • 3/4 tsp. gelatin powder (bloomed with about 1 Tbs. of water)
  • 90 g heavy cream
  • Bring the milk and the vanilla bean to a gentle simmer in a small saucepan.
  • Meanwhile, whisk the yolk, sugar, and pistachio paste until thick and pale
  • When the milk is ready, temper the yolk mixture by pouring a little of the milk into the yolk, mix well.
  • Add the rest of the milk in a steady stream while whisking it.
  • Pour the mixture back in a saucepan and put it back on the stove under low heat
  • Bring the mixture to about 82 C, stirring constantly (or until the mixture coats the back of a spoon)
  • Melt the gelatin in a microwave for a few seconds (5-10 seconds), then add it into the milk mixture
  • Run it through a strainer to remove lumps, if any
  • Let cool to room temperature (use icebath to speed up the process)
  • In the meantime, whip the heavy cream until soft peak.
  • When the milk is no longer warm, fold the two together.
  • Pour the mixture on top of the frozen red berry jelly (still in a cake ring), and put it back in the freezer


Strawberry Mousse

  • 325 g strawberry puree
  • 130 g sugar (adjust depending on the sweetness of the strawberry)
  • 1.75 tsp. gelatin (bloomed with approximately 2 Tbs. of water)
  • 240 g heavy cream
  • 25 g granulated sugar

  • Bring the strawberry puree and the sugar to a boil
  • Melt the gelatin in a microwave, and add it to the hot puree
  • Remove from heat and let cool (use icebath to speed up the process)
  • Meanwhile, whip the cream and the sugar until it forms a soft peak.
  • When the strawberry puree is no longer warm, fold the puree with the cream
  • Use immediately

To Assemble:

Grand Marnier/Kirsch/Framboise eau-de-vie/any alcohol of your choice (fruit flavored is preferred)
8” square cake ring with 1.75”-2” high

  • Put one layer of pistachio joconde in the bottom of an 8” square cake ring
  • Moistened with enough alcohol (you can also mix the alcohol with simple syrup if you want). Don’t over-soak it as you don’t want the cake to taste like alcohol
  • Spread a thin layer of strawberry mousse on top of the joconde, then put the frozen pistachio cream/red berry jelly on top with the pistachio cream on top.
  • Spread another thin layer of strawberry mousse on top
  • Layer the other pistachio joconde, brush with alcohol
  • Pour the remaining strawberry mousse, and level the top with a metal spatula
  • Put the whole thing (with the cake ring intact) in a freezer and leave it overnight
  • When it’s completely frozen, warm the cake ring either with a blow dryer or a torch and remove the ring from the cake
  • With a hot knife, cut the cake into rectangles, wiping the knife before another cut.
  • Decorate

Decoration:

  • Red berry jelly
  • Pink heart macaron
  • Halved pistachio pieces
  • Fresh strawberry

Accompaniment: Champagne




Update: My entry came in 2nd place, yay!
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