Friday, April 8, 2011

Birthday Cake Planning

I just realized that I completely forgot to post Eric's birthday cake from last year when he turned 4.  I guess I was less excited to post the cake because I ordered it from Safeway. And it was slightly different from the cake catalog, which is the same as this Transformers Bumblebee and Optimus Party Cake Topper Set. I think it's worthy of appearing on Cake Wrecks. See what we got?

You know, it tasted OK, but the looks just really bothered me. It was kinda like looking at a turd, wondering if it was really a turd, and then eating it, but it tasted like chocolate.

Anyhow. On his actual birthday, we gave him some things, including a big, new, bike.

His party day started out with a few close family members giving him some presents at home.

Then we ventured to the bounce-house bonanza birthday extravaganza. The kids were wild hyenas. By the time we sat down for pizza and cake, all kids were sweaty and tired. The grandparents took it easy on the sidelines.

Inside the party room, the kids devoured pizza and juice. I think they mostly picked at the cake. That's OK.

Now it's already a year later! I have to do this all over again.  I think this time, we might end up at Boomtown or Coconut Bowl. We are still undecided.  But I'm leaning back towards making his cake myself. Because you saw the Safeway cake up above right? You saw how crappy is was.  Honestly, I do can do better piping than that and I'm just a crazy mom who like to cook.

Eric has already told me he wants yellow cake with my strawberry mousse inside. He wants red, blue, yellow and Transformers again. I'm sorting things out. Shaped cake?  Sheet cake?  Some crazy layered cake?  Cupcakes? Cake pops (BTW these will be all from scratch if i go there. I hate canned cream cheese frosting!)

Designs are still computing.  Check back later for the results.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

 I have been meaning to do up this post on chocolate dipped strawberries since early February. Well, time has not been on my side lately. So I'm too late for Valentine's Day, but just in time for Mother's Day. Well, Mother's Day in the US.  Not so sure when that falls in other countries.

Men and inexperienced cooks take note. This recipe is so easy, even you can do it! It's impressive, but always has an impact, even if the chocolate isn't perfect.

You don't have to use strawberries either. You could actually dip anything you like in melted chocolate. Cookies. Pretzels. Potato chips. Just keep in mind the typical shelf life or refrigerator storage lifespan of the item you are dipping. For berries, they are good for about 3 days. I'd even go for a banana, but you'd have to eat it right away so it didn't turn brown. And apparently my sister and bro-in-law grill bacon and cover it in chocolate.  So get creative!

1 1-lb package of ripe strawberries
1 cup chocolate morsels or chips, any flavor (I used Ghiradelli 60% bittersweet chocolate here)

1. Wash the berries. You can use any of them as long as they aren't bruised or going bad. I used large ones for this since they look nice and are easier to handle.  I like to put the berries in a bowl of cool water with a fruit wash product (like Fit Fruit Wash). Swish them around gently to get the dirt and seed hairs off.  Rinse with fresh water then dry. If you are in a hurry, dry them with a paper towel. Just know, damp berries won't hold the chocolate as well as dry ones.

 2. Put your chocolate morsels in a microwaveable small bowl or measuring cup.  Microwave in 30 second intervals, mixing after each time until chips have melted.

3. Pick up a strawberry and hold it by the leaves so they are all held up and out of the way.

4. Dip the strawberry into the chocolate. You will probably need to tilt it to get the sides covered evenly. Don't dunk it all the way to the leaves. It's good to have some naked berry left to see. Let the excess chocolate drip back into the cup.

5. Place berry carefully on a plate or or dish that will fit in the fridge, leaves down, being careful not to disturb the chocolate.

6. Alternatively, you could lay the berries on their side, just be sure to use wax paper or some kind of easy-release liner. See this one that fell over? The chocolate stuck to the plate. I had to eat it because it wasn't perfect. (Oh darn!)

7. Place plate in the fridge until the chocolate is firm. Keep dipped berries in the fridge, covered or in a container so the berry doesn't dry out and shrivel.

8. Optional extra decoration: If you want contrasting chocolate drizzle over your base layer of chocolate, you will need some white chocolate chips melted the same way as step 2. Use a fork, dip it into the melted chocolate and drizzle it over the strawberry after step 5. This will make a cleaner edge if the base chocolate is already firm.