Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Monkeying Around

Chocolate Banana Birthday Cake
I had an order this past weekend for a little boy's 1st birthday with a monkey theme. I love Curious George and I loved the color scheme that they had (yellow/brown/blue), so these were very fun to make. They wanted a bunch of cupcakes and a little "smush" cake for the birthday boy and the flavors would of course be chocolate/banana.

Chocolate Monkeys
I happened to be shopping at TJMaxx a few days previous and I found several adorable milk bottles filled with colorful candy bananas which, along with some sprinkles, worked perfectly for half the cupcakes.

Banana Monkeys
I was also browsing the web looking for inspiration for monkey decorations when I stumbled upon this fabulous blog that not only has the cutest designs ever, but it has the most fool-proof step-by-step instructions on how to make all sorts of different toppers: The Frosted Cake 'n Cookie. While I didn't have any fondant lying around, I figured sugar paste would work just as well.

Half the cupcakes were banana with a chocolate buttercream and the other half were chocolate banana with a banana buttercream. I think I'm going to work more on the banana cake before I share the recipe, but the chocolate banana recipe I found at Joy of Baking was absolutely perfect! The cake was a combination of both, so a layer of banana, a layer of chocolate with banana buttercream inside and vanilla buttercream on the outside since I wanted the pale baby colors to show.

I didn't bring my camera when I delivered the goodies, which is too bad because my friend fromTruly Smitten was doing the decorations and everything looked gorgeous! Look at these cute cupcake toppers she created:

And she was nice enough to send me these pictures to share with you, including a picture of the one she saved for herself and took home for later :D

Monday, September 21, 2009

La Belle Paris

Eiffel Tower
Whew, it's been a busy month. I've had several cake orders, crazy busy work days and a furiously hectic week in Paris, but I'm determined to get more then one post a month up, so I promise to try and be better.

Notre Dame Gargoyle
What can I say, Paris was everything I remember and a thousand times more. The last time I was there was over 10 years ago on a student exchange program and I barely got to see anything outside of the old medieval looking school in Lyon. During our short trip to Paris I remember kidnapping our teacher with a handful of other students to see the Louvre, while the rest of the group stood in line for Madam Tussuad's Wax Museum. But this time I was going to do things differently. This time I was taking my sister and this time I was going to let her go nuts, which basically means that in the traditional spirit of our family vacationing style, we were going to see absolutely everything. Time restrictions and physical abilities be damned. We walked up and down the city a dozen times over, faithfully following Rick Steves' Paris 2010, in a frenzied pinball machine fashion stopping only to eat and even then reluctant to stay still afraid we'd miss something. We climbed Notre Dame and saw the city through the eyes of the famous gargoyles. We went to the top of the Eiffel Tower (after a picnic on the lawn up front with a baguette, a bottle of wine and an impromptu visit from Ratatouille's cousin).

We walked up Champs Elysee past le Grande Palais, le Pettit Palais, Les Invalides, to Arc de Triumphe and climbed to the top of that too.

Arc de Triumphe
We walked up through Montmartre, visiting the homes and hangouts of all the famous painters, and back down to the still famous Moulin Rouge.

Moulin Rouge
We walked through the food markets, drooled at the windows of every pastry shop, patisserie, boulangerie, charcuterie, and every other kind of "erie" you can imagine.

And I've come away with a few questions, like why can't we have fresh Crepe stands in Chicago?

Fresh Crepes
I mean look at this Grand Marnier one right here, it was the absolute perfect thing to eat while sitting at a small table resting and people watching.

Grand Marnier Crepe

I think the world would be much better with more of these. Next thought: escargot can be absolutely divine if prepared properly:

EscargotEscargot gone
And I'd eat a lot more salads if they were accompanied by a warm slice of melty honeyed goat cheese:

Honey Goat Cheese Salad

And finally, American bakers need to spend more time taking french pastry courses. Have you ever even heard of a Cherry Tiramisu? I am definitely going to try and recreate this little beauty:

Cherry Tiramisu
If you want to see more pictures, I'm still going through them and uploading them, but you can find the rest of them here, and you can expect many more macarons from me in the future :)