Saturday, August 27, 2011

Another Cake Story: Cake Balls, The Happy Ending!

Finally after spending a week in my itty bitty kitchen space I finally finished making the cake balls for a wedding gig I picked up back in April (Congrats to the new happy couple!). To my greatest surprise, these cake balls got a lot more compliments than I had thought they would, apparently better tasting than the samples I made before :). I guess the tweak in the frosting recipe to make them less sweet worked! Anyways after much struggles, here is the completed cake ball favors:
The cake ball recipe I found at Bakerella (blog of the writer of Cake Pops) and the not so sweet cream cheese frosting recipe I derived from a few recipes. I'm nowhere near being a cake ball expert BUT I think I had enough "problems" come up during this whole process that I was able to be one step closer to becoming an expert.

A few words of advice:
  1. Work in a cool environment. Possible issues: candy melts will take longer to cool and harden/set. Cake balls that have been chilled in the freezer or fridge will quickly condense creating water droplets on the cake balls and when mixed with the candy melt will render the candy melts useless (cannot be used for coating). Solution: If and when water droplets appear, used a paper towel to pat dry before dripping into candy melt. Also if you work in a cooler environment (early in the morning/later in the evening for summertime), condensation will happen slower and water droplets will be less likely to form and you can avoid this extra step altogether.
  2. Make sure not to overheat the candy melts. Possible issues: candy melt will become lumpy and very hard to work with. Solution: There are 2 ways to insure the candy melt is at a good consistency. First when heating the candy melt (microwave) heat in 15 sec intervals, usually 30 seconds should do the trick, depending on the medium you put the candy melt in. If the candy melt appears to not be completely melted, keep stirring, usually that will help melt the rest of it. Never microwave until everything is completely melted, then you might run into overheating. Second: if you have already reached an overheated state, add/mix some vegetable oil to the candy melt and stir until its smooth again. You may add oil even if its not overheated just to thin the candy melt out slightly so it becomes easier to dip.
  3. Make sure the chilled cake balls are not too cold. Possible issue: If cake balls are too cold when you dip into the candy melt, later the candy coating might crack. Solution: Let the chilled cake balls sit out at room temperature for about 15 mins before coating them in candy melt. Unfortunately once the coating is cracked, there is no fixing it (at least I have not found a way to).
  4. Coat quickly. Possible issues: the cake balls are chilled so that they don't start falling apart while you are dipping it into the warm candy melt, however, because candy melt is warm, it can quickly warm the cake balls and cause the cake ball to shed off cake pieces into the candy melt stock. If that happens then cake lumps might get incorporated into other cake balls that you may be dipping into the candy melt. Solution: I wish I can tell you a quick fix, but this one you have to get the feel for, my suggestion is try to get the cake balls completely covered in 15-20 seconds.
  5. Find the right tool. Best cake ball dipping tool is when making a cake pop because you have a lollipop stick you can use. For me on the other hand, I had to make cake balls which means it should be coated all the way around. After experimenting/struggling with a number of tools (toothpicks, skewers, forks, etc) to perfect the nicely even coating, I settled for a spoon and a Wilton dipping fork. I believe everyone has their ways, so those are just a few suggestions.

Super long post and hopefully someone will find this information helpful. Happy baking and good luck! :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Do I Hear Wedding Bells?

Seems like the number of weddings have increased recently (in my eyes anyways). Perhaps I'm just sitting at the right age frame where people are starting to settle down and start a family.

Time sure flies.
In all the wedding madness, my friend asked me to make some wedding cards for her to give away and I thought I'd share those creations here:

main ingredients: elements of style, petite pair stamp sets, black embossing powder, melon mambo
I'm very fond of this one....not sure why but its very simple and clean yet detailed at the same time. Almost didn't want to give it away....perhaps I'll make a similar one another time.

main ingredients: elements of style, teeny tiny wishes stamp sets, real red, variety of ink color
This one is featured in one of my technique videos (inking with baby wipes). Seems very fitting for her particular request.

main ingredients: to have and to hold, ever after, creative elements stamp sets, melon mambo Another simple design. I bought this stamp set because it was so cute... but never really had the chance to use it...well this is the perfect excuse! :)

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

SU Holiday Mini 2011 Preview #4

I saw this technique in the Sept issue of Stampin' Success by Stampin' Up and I had to recreate one for myself. So many things you can create with the twist box so I decided to kill 2 birds with one stone: make the twist box and share another preview item.

featuring: Christmas lodge stamp set, designer velvet ribbon

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Another Cake Story: Treadcakes 2011!

Busy weekend as me and my friends try to crank out a cake for the Threadcakes contest (due today!) but after some sweat and tears, here is our proud finished product:

view our entry on Threadcakes!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Another Cake Story: Mango Mousse Cake!

After a long long break from my mini toaster oven, I decided it was time to whip out that mixer and make a mess in the kitchen!

Mango Mousse Cake!

I've always wanted to replicate a mango mousse cake that many Asian bakeries sell...
1. because they are delicious
2. because having to go buy a little piece for $3-$4 each time is just uneconomical (not to mention the gas I'd have to pay to get to a bakery)
3. because it'll be a great challenge to play with a new recipe :)
4. because I just miss baking.

The mango mousse I decided to use the same technique as for the cheesecake from a previous experiment. Only difference this time is I used fresh mangoes instead of frozen ones; taste and quality SO much better! I highly recommend using fresh mangoes if mangoes are in season. As for the cake, I used a chiffon cake recipe in my Better Homes cookbook but I also found one online during my research that contains more or less the same ingredients and directions. The results were more than what I had intended, amazing! :).

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

SU Holiday Mini 2011 Preview #3

Another Halloween card made using the Out on a Limb stamp set

I decided to use the new embossing folder template here as well. Its called snow burst...ideally used for holiday cards, but who's to say I can't use it here right? :P

and the inside of the card:
That should cover all the images from this stamp set. Again sentiments are from other sets, some retired and some not.

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Monday, August 8, 2011

SU Holiday Mini 2011 Preview #2

Here is another card made with another great stamp set from the new holiday mini coming out in Sept.
featuring: Christmas Lodge
A card inspired by a card I made previously in the past, keeping things simple and elegant.

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Sunday, August 7, 2011

August Collection

Great day and great gatherings in early August will result in some great creations!
Here's this month's cards from a SU hosting party:

Cute as a Button: A card for a good friend 
stampin' up:
crumb cake, whisper white, early espresso, perfect plum cardstock
button buddies stamp set (new SU 2011-2012 catalog)
friendly phrases stamp set (new SU 2011-2012 catalog)
houndstooth embossing folder (new SU 2011-2012 catalog) early espresso, perfect plum, certainly celery ink 

Always Interesting: Always Happiness card (telescope technique)
stampin' up:
whisper white, melon mambo, tempting turquoise cardstock
happy greetings stamp set (SU summer mini, ends Aug 31st)
bold blossoms stamp set (SU summer mini, ends Aug 31st)
old olive, calypso coral, melon mambo, tempting turquoise ink
Forever in my Thoughts: Just for You card
stampin' up:
basic black, whisper white cardstock
forever young stamp set (new SU 2011-2012 catalog)
word play stamp set (SU 2011-2012 catalog)
basic black scallop dot ribbon (new SU 2011-2012 catalog)
basic black, melon mambo ink

A Simple Thanks Will Do
stampin' up:
rich razzleberry, olive green, whisper white cardstock
pocketful of posies designer series paper (new SU 2011-2012 catalog)
pretty postage stamp set (SU 2011-2012 catalog) rich razzleberry ink

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Friday, August 5, 2011

SU Holiday Mini 2011 Preview

I know it's been a few weeks...but things have been a little crazy at work...80 hr work week and we'll end it at that.

Anyhow, I'm coming back with a bang! With the new Holiday mini catalog quickly approaching, I decided its time for some previews. I only pre-ordered a few things this time, so there won't be that many previews but some better than none right? :)

Halloween Card
(a little early but couldn't resist the stamp set!)

featured stamp set: Out on a Limb
SU Holiday Mini 2011: release date Sept 1, 2011

The sentiments are from another stamp set(s) because this one doesn't have any, other than that all the other stamped images are from that set. There are a few more images from this set so maybe I'll make another card.