Saturday, February 21, 2009

Orange you glad...

that those little mandarin oranges that come in a can are so darn tasty? They're great on salads, in fruit tarts, and most certainly, in cake.

Robin ordered a truly custom birthday cake for her husband, Craig, and boy, was it fun to concoct. She requested a confetti cake [a.k.a. Funfetti to friends of that famous little Pillsbury dough boy, myself included (oh, we go way back)] with Grand Marnier, Craig's favorite liqueur. Having never worked with Grand Marnier, but knowing how delicious it is, I was excited. My assistant (ahem, my less adventurous half) was a bit skeptical: "How do you reconcile something as fancy and grown-up as Grand Marnier with something as casual and kid-friendly as confetti cake?"

What is there to reconcile?
Funfetti cake: good
Grand Marnier: great
Funfetti + Grand Marnier = FANfrickinTASTIC

And that's what I did in this Grand Mandarinier Cake

Confetti cake layers with Grand Marnier in the batter, a Grand-Marnier-infused custard center with neatly-arranged mandarin orange slices, and a Grand-Marnier buttercream frosting topped with fresh raspberries and--you guessed it--more mandarin orange slices

The fragrant orange flavor of Grand Marnier weaves through every bite of this cake, which is sure satisfy the most sophisticated of tastebuds, while the colorful sprinkles that dot the cake layers are sure to bring out the kid in you. Seriously, who doesn't like sprinkles?

Thanks, Robin, and happy birthday, Craig. I hope you both enjoyed the cake!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

So far, most of my customers have been gentlemen buying cakes for their girlfriends, be it for her birthday or for Valentine's Day. (Note: I'm really fighting the urge to throw in that old cliche, "Sweets for the sweet" right now. Fighting. But I guess that's what happens during a holiday of bright red and pink decor, Pepto-Bismol-tasting conversation hearts, and all sorts of cloyingly cute and cheesy Valentine's messages from "Bee Mine...bzzz buzzz" to "I love you beary much." Oh my...)

Well, the tables have turned, and I've had a couple of great girls treat their boyfriends to some truly special Valentine's Day specials.

Like my very first cupcake order! Li-Ming and Tina both agreed to a Valentine's Day spending cap this year with their boyfriends, and ordered a batch of Carrie's Custom Cupcakes, accordingly:
Left half: chocolate whiskey cupcakes topped with Bailey's buttercream frosting and either a dark chocolate-covered espresso bean or chocolate shavings and a coffee cream pirouette cookie
Right half: chocolate whiskey cupcakes topped with white chocolate ganache and fresh strawberry halves

Cupcakes are the current superstars of the bakery world, with cupcakeries sprouting all over the place. Whether it's the link to childhood memories, the generous frosting-to-cake ratio, the perfectly petite serving size, or the fact that they're just so gosh darn cute, cupcakes seem to be winning hearts everywhere.

Ladies, I certainly hope these cupcakes won your hearts...and your boyfriends' too!

And Nikki put in the only official order for Carrie's Valentine's Day special. So as a thank you, I spruced up her cake a notch, and decorated with more than just chocolate-covered strawberries.

Presenting, Carrie's Valentine's Day SUPER Special:
A dark chocolate whiskey cake with an outer ring of Bailey's buttercream swirls and an inner starburst of white chocolate ganache, topped off with fresh strawberry halves.
Thanks again for your orders, ladies. Happy Valentine's Day to all you lovebirds out there, and cheers to all the sassy singles. Clink.

For the love of...cake!

Well, not exactly. My latest customer, Brian, put in two custom cake orders not for the love of cake but out of love for his mom and girlfriend. What an upstanding guy! He wanted a birthday cake for his mom, and chose a pina colada layer cake with a milder rum flavor (a.k.a., one that won't leave you smelling like you spent the last twelve hours at a swim-up bar in Hawaii after just one slice). Not a problem. And because it was a surprise for his mom, I thought that it'd be nice to make the cake something of a surprise as well.

Ta dah!
A pina colada layer cake masquerading as a coconut lime cake: two layers of lightly rum-infused yellow cake filled with a thick layer of crushed pineapple, frosted with a coconutty southern flour frosting (a light, fluffy, not-too-sweet alternative to the cream cheese frosting I would usually use in a pina colada cake) and topped with coconut shavings and lime slices to give it a tropical look and feel. Sweet, tangy, and refreshing like a pina colada...and equally caloric--if not more so--but that's quite all right! Everything in moderation ;)

And for his girlfriend, Winnie, for Valentine's Day, Brian requested something with white cake, strawberries, and white chocolate. And with that, I knew just the thing:

A White Chocolate Strawberry Dream
This may or may not be my favorite non-cocktail cake. (It is). Let me walk you through the layers of this gem.

First, you take one layer of a vanilla cake and top it with french vanilla custard and fresh strawberry slices:
Then, you place the second cake layer on top and drizzle generously with creamy white chocolate ganache before neatly arranging strawberry halves on top:
After that, you create of fence of vanilla cream pirouette cookies to keep those strawberries from slipping and sliding right off the sides of the cake (oh, white chocolate ganache: as delicious and pretty as you are, you sure can be one hell of a slippery pain to work with sometimes. Sheesh!) Top with a crumbled pirouette and a strawberry, and voila! You get this:
and this:
Brian, I hope you and the two very special ladies in your life enjoyed the cakes. A very happy birthday to your mom and a happy Valentine's Day to you and Winnie.
Speaking of valentines, my assistant worked into the wee hours of the morning putting these two together. What dedication! Happy Valentine's Day, sweetheart. I <3 you!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Who Spiked the Coffee?

I did! ::guiltlessly raises imaginary hand::
All for my latest customer, Andrew, who wanted something special for his girlfriend's birthday. He made a specific request for Jack Daniel's, her favorite liquor, and my brain was sent spinning with possibilities: "Should I go with Gentlemen Prefer Blondes straight off my cocktail cake menu or something custom, like a Jack and Coke (oh, the prospect of making a fizzy frosting!) or Apple Jack (paper thin apple slices would make such a unique and pretty garnish...)?"

And in my excitement over the possibilities, I got a little stuck...that is, until my assistant, who works with Andrew (yes, she has a day job), told me that he's almost always armed with a cup of coffee. And with that, I knew I had the perfect cake that both he and his girlfriend could enjoy:

Presenting, the Midnight Mocha:
A dark chocolate layer cake infused with Jack Daniel's Tennessee whiskey, filled and topped with a creamy Bailey's Irish Cream frosting, surrounded by coffee cream pirouette cookies, and garnished with chocolate-covered espresso beans.
Why call it "Midnight Mocha"? Well, this isn't exactly the kind of coffee cake you want to start your day with. This chocolate and coffee combo is something you want to melt into the night with, so kick off your shoes, indulge, and have a very happy birthday, Katie!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Sweet Somethings

February already? You know what that means. Valentine's Day is right around the corner. Treat your loved one to a Carrie Cakeaway special sure to knock his or her socks, and maybe more, but YMMV :P And for the single guys and girls out there (myself most certainly and unabashedly included), Singles Awareness Day is a wonderful time to indulge in something sinfully rich and deliciously caloric, whether snuggled under warm fluffy covers on the couch with a great movie for some serious self-pampering or rambunctiously with equally fun and single friends. What I'm trying to say is: Valentine's Day is a perfect day for cake. Oh, and love is nice too, but shouldn't that be a year-round thing?

Presenting, Carrie's Sweetheart Special:

A dense, single layer chocolate whiskey cake with a fudgy ganache topping that drips oh-so-temptingly down the sides and an array of chocolate-drizzled and -dipped berries on top. Variations include powdered sugar raspberry, cocoa buttercream, chocolate curl delight for true chocoholics, and any other special requests that you may have, including whiskeyless chocolate cake. All this for $15. Get your orders in by this weekend to to ensure that you have something sweet and sexy you can really sink your teeth into. The cake, people, I'm talking about the cake!

Cake + loveseat = recipe for a very happy Valentine's Day <3

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Very Special Birthday

I want to thank my latest customer, Albert, for purchasing a custom cocktail cake to celebrate his girlfriend's birthday and giving me the opportunity to craft my first wine-infused cake. He specifically requested moscato, or muscat wine, because it's her favorite, but gave me free reign to choose the cake type, filling, and frosting. I decided that a lightly spiced yellow cake would bring out the sweet, fragrant flavor of the moscato, and went from there. I must admit that it took me a couple of tries, testing the patience of my ever-faithful assistant (ehh, I wouldn't feel too bad for her. She enjoyed a glass or two to mellow out, whereas I, being imaginary and all, could not), until we were both happy with the end result. And happy we were!

Presenting, the Moscato Staccato Cake:
The wide range of flavors in this cake, from the lightly nutmegged, wine-infused yellow sponge layers and the wine-soaked strawberry filling to the dark chocolate ganache and chocolate-covered strawberry finish, are as distinct as staccato notes in a sheet of classical music. While distinct, they complement one another, creating a melody on the tongue. Wine, strawberries, and chocolate--now that's what I call dessert!

Happy birthday, Stephanie! I hope you enjoyed the cake!