Sunday, April 8, 2012

Domo-Kun Cookies... NOT

My niece Laney wore a cap the other day to her birthday dinner.
It was brown, with a patch of red rectangle, outline on top and bottom with a string of white triangles, lined with braces.
It was weird looking.
And she loved it.

Then my son Ryan wanted one for himself.
With a mustache.
This is what his cap looks like.

How am I getting so dated?  I should have known about Domo-kun.  How am I going to be a 'cool' Mom if I don't know these things?

So to redeem my 'cool', I decided to bake Laney somehting Domo-kun theme for her birthday.  I settled on the   Domo-kun cookies made by Diamond for Dessert.

What a disaster!

The dough was hard to work with.  It was soft and sticky.  When I left it in the fridge for too long, it got too rigid to shape.  Not cold enough and it was sticky.  And the dimensions provided made really small cookies.  And I didn't know how to shaped the dough to be 1 1/4-inch by 3/4-inch.  By the time you put all the pieces together, the dimensions were lost, and the dough took whatever shape it wanted.

So I started eyeballing it, no measurement.  It was better, but I was quite frustrated with the dough.  The first few cookies might look somewhat Domo-like, but the rest was just pathetic.  Consider the amount of work I put in, and the little number of cookies getting out of the whole thing... Disappointed. 

When time to bake them, I didn't realize that the cookies would expand so much.  That explained the small dimensions given.  My cookies came out meshing into each other. But again, by this time, I already gave up the ideas of even trying to decorate the cookies.  However, I was hoping that they still taste good since it was a Thomas Keller recipe.

The cookies were very tender.  I cut them 1/4-inch thick, but they spread so much during baking that the cookies came out pretty thin.  The cocoa in the brown part was dominant.  And it was salty.  There was 1 1/2 teaspoons in the cookies below.

But they didn't taste too bad actually.  My sisters didn't care for them.  The kids surely didn't care for them.  But they grew on me.  I don't usually eat my own baking, except for those noone else wanted to eat, because I couldn't just throw them out.

So I ate a lot of these cookies.  Maybe that's why they grew on me.  But for sure, I won't be making them again, so no point of getting the recipe.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Babycakes Cake Pop Maker

I finally bought the Babycakes Cake Pop Maker in March.  Yes, I know the 'Cake Pop' trend is almost over, but I never cared for the original cake pop with the thick gooey frosting mixing in cake and shaping into round balls.  Especially store bought icing.  With shortening.  Enough said.

And I knew about the Babycakes Cake Pop Maker, but I thought it was just too much hassle, until I went to a cake pop party.  Besides, for $20, I can justify for an afternoon activities with my sons and my nieces.  But I also got a Tovolo pancake pen for $10.  It was getting expensive, especially I didn't have any coupon with me.

Before starting, I consulted my best friend, Google, about what to do.  Some tips were helpful, such as using the pancake pen for filling the holes, unplug the maker while filling, coat the holes lightly with oil to prevent sticking, etc.

I started out with a basic vanilla recipe from the booklet that came with the maker.  It turned out well.  Some were round, some were not, and they were all eventually consumed.

This is the basic vanilla mix that came with the instruction booklet.  I didn't fill the wells / holes full enough.

Thus the cake pops came out flat on top.
Then I tried it out with a cake mix since I read that cake mix would work as well.  I wanted a lemon flavor but was too lazy to zest the lemons (that I have not bought), so I got a Duncan Hines Lemon Supreme cakemix. Prepared per instructions, and baked using the Cake Pop Maker. 

Then I tried with the cake mix.  This was the cake mix I used.  You will see that the 'moist' cake mix might not be the best choice for the cake pop maker.

The cake pops were full and well rounded when just baked.

But soon deflated with a cake mix.  The cake were too fluffy and soft and couldn't hold the structure.  Those cake pops made from the recipes from babycakes have firmer, drier and more dense, thus can keep their shapes better.

And finally, the perfect cake pop.  Haa, just kidding!  I just flipped the bottom over.  This must be how the  covered picture from the box was taken.

I went back to the babycakes recipe and tried the lemon one with lemon zest and lemon juice.  Good flavor. But again, a bit drier than cake mix. Tried dipping. The first time, I over heated the candy melt and thus couldn't get it to flow smoothly, no matter now much shortening I added.  I googled and googled and saw that a lot of people were asking the same questions I did - why couldn't I get the smooth shiny texture like others?

I tried again, heating in 20 seconds interval on DEFROST, stirred and stirred, and erred on the side of caution so it wouldn't be overheated.  I was able to create that smooth and shiny texture.  However, by the time the candy got coated and excess dripped off, it was too dry to evenly coated the sprinkles on.  I still needed to play with it a bit more.

My cake pops.  I just tried sprinkles with a few just to experiment.  And actually, by this time, I was pretty lazy and unmotivated to do anything creative.

This is my best one.  I put the sprinkles in the bowl and dip it in right after.  You can see the candy was dried  already.

Thomas the Tank Engine Cupcakes with Marshmallow Fondant

My 2-yo nephew loves trains, especially Thomas the Tank Engine and all his friends.  For his birthday, I wanted to make the cupcakes that his Mom liked, the same recipe that I made last month for the tie-dyed cupcakes.  However, for decoration, I wanted to do a train theme.  With my limited ability as a baker and a decorator, I know that anything 3D is out.  I googled for ideas, combined and simplified and came up with the design below, which I did mostly with the three round fondant cutters I have.  I also tried the marshmallow fondant recipe for the very first time to make these cupcake toppers.

 16 ounces white mini-marshmallows
4 tablespoons water
2 pounds confectioners sugar / powdered sugar
1/2 cup Crisco shortening (for coating your hands with).

I halved the recipe and still had plenty of fondant leftover.

Microwave the marshmallows and water in 30 seconds increment, stir in between, until melted.  It shouldn't take more than 2 minutes.

Mix the powdered sugar in slowly, stirring at first, until too thick to stir.  Grease your hand with Crisco and knead the rest of powdered sugar in until the mixture is soft and pliable.

I thought that I would have to knead a lot, but it came together quickly enough.

I used Wilton gel colors to mix in and color my fondant.  It worked out well.

People claimed that the marshmallow fondant tastes better than store bought fondant, I didn't even taste test it since I don't care for marshmallow nor powdered sugar nor shortening.  However, my son did, and he seemed to not mind it.

I initially made a lot of gray and black fondant thinking of a different design, but that was tedious and took so long, so I decided on this design.  As usually, my son Ryan is my trusted judge, and when he declared that the design "looked really good Mommy," I knew I had a winner.

I didn't make enough green and blue fondant, and past midnight, I didn't want to yet start another batch.  I still had some yellow and red left, with tons and tons of gray and black, so Ryan said let's do Angry Birds cupcakes.  He gave me some ideas for the design, and he even cut out the hair for the head and the tail.  We ended up liking the Angry Birds a lot.

The mouth below is too big.  Make it smaller next time.