Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Star of Christmas Cake

Hello beautiful Star...shining in the dark night sky! 

 

This December, I had the opportunity to make a cake for Half Baked - The Cake Blog .  Carrie was gearing up for their 12 Cakes of Christmas and asked me to be apart of an amazing group of talented and wonderful cake designers!  I was thrilled to be in such great company!  I love The Cake Blog and enjoy reading Carrie's posts so much!  She's featured me several times before and has always does such a perfect job retelling the story behind my cakes.  For me, the story is so important, because for me, there is always a story...always! :)  


Carrie told me that she wanted our cakes to represent what inspires us during the Christmas holiday season. There are so many things that are inspirational during this time of year...from families gathering together over long distances, to soldiers coming home to see their loved ones, to people reaching out with generous hearts to help their neighbors, there are so many things worthy of that inspiration.  But, for me, the only reason for love, for generosity, for hope, for my life and the sweet family I have is my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  He was the greatest gift...born into the world in order to die, so that we could be saved from our sins.  He is the Light of the world.  He is the Star of Christmas...and worthy of all my inspiration!
 
 Like I had mentioned in my write up on Half Baked, I wanted my cake to focus on the Star of Christmas.  I wanted the star to be center stage.  So, how was I going to achieve that!!??  I hunted around for inspiration online and found several beautiful pictures of the manger scene with a brilliant star overhead.  So, I thought about the city of Bethlehem and and how it's always depicted upon a hill.  Which then made me remember..

Matthew 5:14-16
You are the light of the world. A city build on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.

He is the Light of the World, and we are to reflect that light to a dark world around us, just like a city on a hill can be seen from miles away.  That is when I decided to do the hills with the star cascading down.  I added in the gold and silver dragees to represent us...

...His little lights...reflecting His love, shining to all the world.

This is the final sketch I drew up in AutoCAD.  Now...how to make it come to a reality?! :)

I imported it into Photoshop and began playing with the colors on it.  I know that ombre is really in right now, so I decided to make the hills in an ombre gray from light to dark.  I also knew I wanted the background in the picture to be black...which would help to emphasize the brilliant star.  I really don't like black background in cake photos normally.  For some reason is seems so harsh and really makes it hard to photograph a cake.  But, for this cake, I knew that's what would be best!!

 
 This is the final color version I came up with.  All the tiers would be square so that I'd have a flat side to work with.  I knew the darker yellow stripes would be gold glitter dust but how I was going to do that was up in the air! :) - which is pretty much how all my cakes go! :)

The first thing I did was start coloring four shades of gray fondant.  That was WAY more time consuming than I had thought! :)  Using black Wilton gel color to make gray fondant is slightly a joke...because you get a light purple color.  In order to manipulate that purple to a true gray, the trick is to add a TINY (and I say TINY for a reason) touch of green, then start adding a little bit of blue until you're happy with your gray.  The yellow in the green neutralizes the purple a bit and the blue helps to cool it down.  If you add too much yellow (which I did in the beginning), you'll get brown.  Opposite colors make brown...not black! :)  If you want a cool color, add cool tones to it...hence the blue.

 Then, I covered my 10", 8" and 6" square dummy cakes in the lightest gray fondant.  Before I cover my dummy cakes, I rub them with a thin layer of Crisco.  This helps to fill in any voids and gives me a nice "sticky" surface for the fondant to adhere to.  I roll my fondant to 1/8" or so and make sure to get my corners nice and sharp before smoothing the middle section.  I can't wait for you all to see the tutorial video that should come out in February!!  I'll be showing how to cover a square cake!! :) Yippie!


After they were covered, I rolled out the other gray fondants and used my template (from the AutoCAD picture above) for the hills.  I applied those onto the cakes and went to bed! :)  A girl has to get her beauty rest, right??! :)  Hind sight is 20/20...or so they say!  At that point, I should have done the dragees while the fondant was still soft...lesson learned! :)  I actually waited about two or three days before putting the dragees on (because I wanted to wait until after I did the stripes) and by that time the fondant hills were pretty firm.  I didn't quite think through that!!  

I didn't want to see any royal icing sticking out from the backs of the dragees, so I made tiny indentations in the fondant, used a tiny brush to add a smidgen of a 50/50 mix of corn syrup and water to the indention, then using tweezers, pressed the dragees in...almost 400 times.  Yes, I had just under 400 dragees!!  

Can you say TIME consuming!! - YES!  The problem I had was it puckered the fondant...and it wasn't as clean as I would have liked.  I didn't want the fondant to pucker and I didn't want to have royal icing sticking out from behind them...so, what's a girl to do?!!  I guess stay up all night putting dragees on my cake after I covered it in fondant!??  Anyone have any better ideas! :)

In the picture below you can see the little bubble of lighter fondant around each dragee.

 
For the stripes, I rolled out a piece of yellow modeling chocolate the same thickness as my hills.  I put the template on top and cut out one whole section for each tier.  I then marked on each section where the stripes were and began cutting out each stripe with a straight edge.  I separated the stripes that would be "glittered" from the plain ones.  I then glittered one set by brushing some melted Crisco on each stripe and sprinkling gold disco dust on it.  I used melted Crisco because you can't use water...it just beads up on chocolate.  You have to use grease or oil.  I pressed the glitter on just a bit and let it sit for a couple of hours.  I then started to put the pieces back together again using a little bit of yellow melted candy melts.  I LOVE modeling chocolate because it's so stable!!  Once the sections were back together and in one piece (thanks to the melted chocolate between each stripe), I carefully placed them on the cake with a little Crisco (seriously I love Crisco!)  rubbed onto the gray fondant.  Carefully being the tricky word! - I still got glitter everywhere! :)  I had to wait until it set up for a day before going back over the plain stripes with about 25 q-tips dampened with water to get some of the glitter stragglers off of there! :)  Silly glitter!

YES...time consuming!! :)

The star got mounted to the top with melted chocolate and stayed quite nicely.  I love love love modeling chocolate! :) - have I said that yet?


 It was all worth it!!  I was REALLY happy with how this cake turned out!  - although it was really hard to take pictures of.  The stripes were really glittery and sparkly, but I couldn't capture that in a photo.  

On a more serious note, I have to mention how timely this cake was.  

Carrie posted it Friday morning, December 14th.  Later that morning we got word that a horrible shooting happened in the US at a school.  To say it was a dark day is an understatement!  It was a black day full of sadness. Our pastor that weekend talked about how this world is so full of sadness and that darkness is all around us.  We, as little lights in the world should be shining so brightly now.  For, against a dark background, the light will be more brilliant.  

When someone asks us why we have hope and why we can shine amidst such sadness and such darkness, we should have an answer.  My answer is that this world is but a vapor...and I have the hope of Heaven.  In this world we will have trouble and tribulation...it's a promise...this world is fallen.  But my Jesus has overcome the world.  My Jesus has those sweet children in His arms and has protected them from the future snares of this world by taking them Home to be with Him.  Yes, it was a horrible, tragic thing, and yes, they will be RADICALLY missed and their families will NEVER be the same.  There is a huge amount of grief there and lives will be forever changed.  That is the reality of it all.  But, if you know you will see them again, you can have hope!  If you know how good my Jesus is, and how much He loves each one of us, and how much He loves those children, and how He mourns with us and holds us and comforts us when we weep, we can rest in His Sovereignty.  He will come again! - and when He does, He will wipe every tear away.  Every knee will bow and every tongue will declare that He is Lord.  He will set all things right...it's a promise! My hope is in Him.

We don't have to be weighed down by the darkness of this world.  Jesus is the Light of the World and in Him there is no darkness.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Yummy Mousse Cups - NOT Moose Cups! :)

Have you ever googled something only to realize you spelled it wrong and got something totally different than what you wanted???  Well, I did that...and didn't realize it for a good 7-8 minutes!!  


I wanted to make some yummy chocolate mousse to fill some chocolate cups for the dessert portion of a teacher's luncheon.  So, I searched "Moose Recipes"...and got lots of meat recipes...no dessert recipes.  Being an air head at times, I continued to press the search button on several other websites...still getting lots of meat recipes.  Then, all of a sudden, "DING!" - the light turned on!! :)  Spelling is not my strong suit and I love that spell check is an integral part of my life!!  - see...I spelled integral wrong...but with the squiggly red line I can make sure you all don't know!!  LOL!!

Well, all that said, I have a recipe to share with you because it was YUMMY!!  - and it didn't contain any animal parts! :)  - well, that I know of! ;)

They were soo tiny!  A sweet friend of mine gave me these little chocolate cups so I've been wanting to use them for a while now!!  Thank you Deborah!!

I found this recipe on Food Network's website.  Brought to you by Nigella, it's called

Ingredients
9 ounces white chocolate, broken into small pieces
1 cup heavy cream
*1 egg white (*yes...raw egg warning)
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract (I use Boyajiain natural peppermint flavour)
6 fresh mint leaves, optional


Directions
Put the pieces of white chocolate in a bowl, and sit this bowl over a pan over simmering water until it melts, stirring gently with a spatula every now and then. When it's melted, stand the bowl on a cold surface to cool down a little.
In another bowl, and using an electric handheld whisk for ease, whip the cream, egg white and extract together. You want soft peaking rather than a stiff mixture.
Put a big dollop of cream onto the slightly cooled chocolate and mix, and then gently fold the chocolate mixture into the cream.
Divide mixture between 6 small but perfectly formed glasses with a capacity of 60ml/ 1/4-cup each.
Chill in the fridge or give them a fast icy zap but sitting them in the deep freeze for 10 or 15 minutes. Decorate top with a mint leaf before serving.
The only change I made was I used some mint chocolate chips I had instead of the peppermint extract.  I think I used about 3 oz of the mint chips and 8 oz of white chocolate (yes...more than 9 oz total, but it didn't do anything noticeable to the recipe).

 
Also, instead of using the mint leaves (which I didn't have) I shaved some Andes Mints I had and sprinkled them on top.  A nice finish to a mint chocolate mousse cup.  My husband said it tasted like mint chocolate chip ice cream!  

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas!!  
Give your kiddos an extra squeeze today and savor every moment!!

Blessings!

Friday, December 14, 2012

My Star of Christmas Cake - The Cake Blog

If you've been anxiously waiting to see what my "Three Gray Cakes" are, you no longer have to wait! :)  Here's a sneak peek! :)

To see the rest of the cake, head over to The Cake Blog and check out my Star of Christmas Cake.  Inspired by the True reason for the season, I give glory to my Father in Heaven for His amazing gift!

Click here

*I'll post more info in the next few days on how I made this cake! :)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Three Gray Cakes...

(To the tune of "3 Blind Mice")

Three gray cakes. Three gray cakes.
What will they be? What will they be?
They sit so silently on the shelf,
To be decorated by myself.
Do you wonder what they might become,
These three gray cakes?

Sorry...but you'll have to wait! :)  
I'm working on a little Christmas project that I can't wait to share with you!!  But, it's not ready yet!!  Lots of surprises I know, so stay tuned!  If you have any guesses, please share!! :)

On a side note...square cakes take SO much longer to smooth!!!  I haven't done one in a while...let alone three!  Wow!  But, I'm happy with my sweet little cakes!! :)

Hugs to my sweet friends and Happy Holidays!!