Saturday, October 18, 2008

Mom's Birthday Cake

My mom's birthday was last week, and I've been wanting to make her something special.  Cupcakes just wouldn't do.  I hadn't made a tiered cake in quite some time so I decided I would make one for my mommy.  I love making fancy pretty things.  :)  I scoured through thousands of flickr photos and all of my cake books for ideas.  I have to say I was inspired by so many cakes.  You guys and ladies on flickr are true artists!!  So many ideas, so many beautiful cakes, but I needed something simple since I only had one day to do it.  I had to cook Thanksgiving dinner for my family of 18 the same weekend.  

I made a sketch of what I wanted to do so my mind will stay focused.  I see so many of you out there with gorgeous drawings of your creations, but all I could muster was swirls for the flowers and dots all over the cylinder and hexagon (brings back memories of geometry in JHS).  It's a pretty pathetic drawing since I'm a stick figure type of gal, but it helped immensely on staying focused.  I had my sisters over to brain storm on flavors and colors.  We originally agreed on MMF covered dark chocolate cake with ganache and cheesecake, but I was making cheesecake for Thanksgiving, so we switched that to sponge cake with lemon curd and homemade strawberry jam.  Our mom loves pink but we didn't want a princess-y girlie cake so we went for ivory/ light pink with pink accents.


I even signed up for gumpaste classes hoping I could make beautiful bouquets of calla lillies, roses, orchids, and every other flower that was offered in the class description.  Just my luck, first class was cancelled due to low enrollment, so I went to another school, signed up, purchased all the supplies, and waited only to find out it was postponed.  As my last option, I went to my local Michael's to take their classes, but classes had already began.  Boo hoo hoo... what do I do?!?  I had all the supplies already so I just played around with the rose kit a couple of days before and came up with flowers that remind me more of magnolias than roses.  They took me forever since my klumsy fingers kept ripping the petals and pulling the entire flower out of the wires.  I ended up with a handful of passable ones that I dusted with pearly dusts in different colors.  They aren't that pretty, but I liked them anyway especially since I made them all by myself.  I'm sure the light bulb will go off, and I'll have a good chuckle once I get into a class.

In the end, my mom loved the cake and was quite impressed with the flowers even though I saw all the flaws.  The cakes tasted much better than I had anticipated (we finished all of it), so all in all I'm quite proud of it and can't wait until my next one.  :D

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Awesome Desserts in Hong Kong

It's been a while since I've posted, and it's been even longer since I've posted ones that aren't related to baked goods.  (Well, there are more cupcakes, cookies, and a birthday cake coming up.)  As I was looking through my summer photos today, I came across these.  

This is a little dessert shop my mom took us to.  She had seen a Hong Kong dining show introducing this place.  I don't have an address (no business cards available) and since I don't read Chinese no English name to share.  Sorry.  But I do know it's located next to Newport Theatre which is a famous older movie theatre in the Mong Kok District.

It's a very popular joint among the locals and movie goers.  It's tiny and super crowded, and they manage to maximize every square inch.  If you don't have a full table, you are forced to share.  So a small table for four could seat six most of whom are strangers.  But no one seemed to mind, and in fact it added to the atmosphere.

They had a small menu, but special dishes were posted on the walls.  My mom insisted on trying the "Stir Fried Rice Noodles".  It's actually fresh mango chunks with noodles which I believe is probably some sort of coconut gelatin strips.  

It really did look like rice noodles, but with a firmer texture almost like fresh young coconut flesh.  The mangos were perfectly ripe and the mango puree was so smooth.  The dish was fabulous!!  I could have eaten another bowl of it all by myself. 

My sister Jess ordered the "Steamed Rice Rolls" which were black sesame "noodles" stuffed with black rice and fresh mangos and topped with coconut milk and sesame seeds.  It was served warm and not as sweet as the other desserts.  I liked it, it was very creative, but on a hot Hong Kong night, I preferred the cold offerings.  

My mom also ordered the newest dish "Fruit Salad with Hawthorn".  It was a mixture of fresh fruits including cantalope, honeydew melon, mango, and hawthorn gelatin topped with evaporated milk.  Hawthorn is good for you on hot days.  It helps detoxify your body from the heat.  It is also an appetite enhancer.  Before this trip I've only had hawthorn candy, so it was a treat to try it prepared differently.

As for me, I chose a "Tower of Shaved Ice".  Yum - my mouth is watering just thinking about it.  Since my trip to Taiwan a few years back, I've been obsessed with shaved ice.  I have it everywhere I see it, and I still think Taiwan serves the best.  But that's left for another post.  

The shaved ice is served with a variety of fresh fruits.  I chose strawberries and watermelon.  Some of the other options were mango, coconut, cantalope, honeydew, Asian pears, and mixed beans and gelatins (which is the original way to eat shaved ice).  Almost every table had ordered this "Tower".  The ice, though not the finest I've had, was pretty fine and was surrounded by fresh strawberries and watermelon balls.  It was then all topped with watermelon juice and condense milk.  Oh, it was so refreshing and sweet.  I loved every bite and slurp.  (l0l)

As you can see, between the three of us we did a pretty thorough job on the desserts.  Everyone else pretty much ordered one dish per couple.  (lol - We love our desserts).  I can't wait until my next visit, so I can try a few more creative sweets.