Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Best Gift Ever (not a cake)

This seems like a good time to mention that I have the BEST brothers, sister-in-law and nephew ever (well, and niece, but she is very small and probably had little to do with this). They got me the greatest gift a person-who-loves-to-cook-but-has-a-tiny-kitchen could ever want - Personalized Spatulas.

I'm not sure how they found them, but they are super cute and totally useful William-Sonoma sturdy spatulas in three sizes. And the best part is that everybody knows they're mine :-)
(the little one is darker 'cause it's wet)

The Valentine's Cheesecake Fiasco (?)

A friend is having a Valentine's Day party this year for some of her single friends (and potentially the two guys we met at the bar last night, which could make things very interesting). I saw this recipe for white chocolate raspberry cheesecake and thought I'd make it to bring. I actually read the recipe in advance this time, so I was ready for the overnight setting in the fridge part. My problem was that I only had a round springform pan and I really wanted to make it cute and heart shaped. I had the option of going and buying a large heart shaped pan, or four small ones (which would have been even cuter). The problem is that I'm really cheap and I knew that if I dished out the cash for the new pan, everything I made in the future that called for a springform would end up being heart shaped. After some research and thinking during work, and a conversation with my brother (who is the expert in these areas), we decided that I could make a large round cake and then use a heart shaped cookie cutter to make cute little heart cupcake-esq cheesecake treats.

The theory was good, and they even turned out alright (pics are below). What I discovered though, is that I have no idea how cheesecakes work and I was so out of my element that I was forced to follow the recipe to a t and was very nervous about the whole thing. I have where I am convinced that recipes as people trying to limit me and tell me what to do and therefore, I constantly want to adjust and add things to make it my own. (Recipes: just another example of the man holding us down.) This is a lot easier in cooking where everything usually turns out alright no matter what you do, but in baking, well, let's just say that I have put cinnamon in things that were never meant to have cinnamon in them. Anyway, I followed this recipe exactly and even though I wasn't super convinced about baking anything without flour and baking soda, it seems to have turned out alright. At least there were eggs. I am familiar with eggs.

Completely done baking. Do you see my skepticism now? Are the eggs even un-poisonous yet?
Chilled overnight, goo'd up and ready to chill again.
Cheesecake Hearts! I got 10 "good" ones and one poor, unfortunate, lopsided guy in the corner.
The downside of doing it this way was the wasted scraps. Wait, did I say wasted? They were certainly not wasted, but it might be good that I joined the gym this weel.

The Chocolate-Strawberry-Chocolate Cake

My friend Megan's birthday was on Monday, Feb. 9th so I made a cake for her. Luckily, Megan is an equal-opportunist when it comes to cake flavors, so she gave me free reign. I found a recipe for Strawberry Jam Frosting that I thought sounded interested. And then, since it was a special birthday, I decided to actually make the cake from scratch. I followed the recipe on the back of the Hershey's Cocoa Powder container and I have to say, it turned out pretty spiffily. I used the strawberry jam frosting as filling and details and iced the whole cake in chocolate frosting (also from the container packaging). All the chocolate overpowered the strawberry flavor, which is very mild, so I might use it on a yellow cake in the future.
The cakes turned out perfectly :-)

Strawberry Jam frosting (kind of weird looking so close up)
fChocolate frosting
The final product. The final product had some spacing issues and made me glad I'm not a professional cake-decorator. Pretty sure it would have ended up on cakewrecks for that enourmous empty forehead...