Experimenting with Mousses

I’ve tried making different kinds of mousses before and I always failed miserably! They just never seem to be the right texture. A few months ago, I decided I have to make it work and I finally did! There are basically two kinds of mousse recipes that you will find out there. Some that rely on gelatin and others that just rely on the chocolate and eggs to hold things up.

Let’s start with the chocolate one. After experimenting with several recipes, this is by far the easiest and most delicious one I found: http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/4857/chocolate+mousse+in+minutes. I can’t believe I didn’t take photos of the final product! I had a get-to-gether at my place and decided to make mini mousse cups. They just turned out to be perfect! I highly recommend this recipe and you can purchase these cute mini mousse cups from Amazon. My guests went for seconds and thirds and one of them even thought that they were ready made, because the cups looked so cute and professional.

Now, after my huge success with the chocolate mousse, I thought that I can adapt the recipe a bit and use white chocolate instead. How bad can it turn out ?! Oh well.. pretty bad. First, the white chocolate was too sweet for my taste. Second, it didn’t actually hold up or turn into the fluffy divine texture of the original mousse. My idea was to make an actual strawberry cake (so the batter has strawberries) and fill it with white chocolate mousse. When the mousse failed, I ended up just covering the cake with it. It was pretty liquid-like, but it did harden up a bit once refrigerated. I wouldn’t classify it as mousse though. Here’s a pic:

Even though the white chocolate mousse wasn’t as successful, the strawberry cake was absolutely yummy! I used this recipe but didn’t add in the food coloring. That’s why mine isn’t as red.

Now to the second kind of mousses that require gelatin. I finally realized that I wasn’t preparing my gelatin correctly. Most recipes just say sprinkle it on some water, leave to harden, and then stir. The only way mine would work was if I actually heated up the mixture after sprinkling it and made sure it was completely dissolved. I guess that’s rather intuitive if you compare it to making jelly, but I’m not sure why all recipes insist on this “sprinkling” technique. After using completely dissolved and heated up gelatin mix, I got pretty good mousse cakes below (raspberry and mango). I can’t remember the recipes I used for each. I’ll try to find them and edit the post later. However, I tried a simple strawberry one as well (no pics) where I just used whipped cream, fresh strawberry paste, and gelatin.

 

I think I’ve done experimenting with mousses for a while.. so off to something else now..

Decorating with whipped cream

I wanted to make a cake for a new year’s celebration we were having. I didn’t want to use fondant since I honestly didn’t know where to buy it in Cairo, and wasn’t prepared to go through the hassle of making it myself. On the other hand, I find buttercream to be too sweet and heavy and always feel bad for how much sugar and butter I would be feeding people ! So I thought of giving whipped cream a try. I’ve never used it to completely cover a cake before.

The main problem with whipped cream is that it can break apart and become runny. I read that you can stabilize it with gelatin, but I also didn’t have any on hand. The next choice was powdered sugar and corn starch. Both can act as stabilizers preventing it from braking down. The sugar is also necessary to sweeten it a bit. The idea is to start beating the cream till a small peak forms and then you can add the sugar and cornstarch (just a little) and beat again till it firms up. I had the whisk and the bowl refrigerated overnight so everything was extra cold for beating. I also added jam to it for flavoring and a tiny, tiny amount of food coloring.

Even though it would be hard to make any shapes that would hold themselves, I found that making such flat flowers worked ok and everything held up for 10 hours or so. I also used shaved white chocolate to cover the sides. Don’t think I mastered that one that well, but it was my first try and I found it to be a bit messy to stick things with the palm of your hand.

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Doc McStuffin’s Birthday Cake

Can’t believe a year has already passed since I made the princess cake for Maya’s third birthday. Well, Maya’s already turning four and her mum told me her birthday theme this year is Doc McStuffins. I hadn’t heard of this cartoon before, and only had a week notice to prepare, so I decided to keep it as simple as possible while still getting some of the cartoon’s theme. This mainly included the color theme: purple, blue, and pink as well as the band aid and the bag. The band aid is made of white fondant mixed with a little brown gel color to get the beige color. I manually shaped the bag and used pink sparkles to get the same glitter effect on the character’s bag. I used a toothpick to stick the bag into the cake.

I wanted to try one of those edible cake toppers but they wouldn’t have arrived on time. We resorted to use a real doll instead which looked pretty good for a cake topper. I used two tooth pics hidden under the doll’s coat to keep her in place.

Well, without further ado, here is the final product:

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Another paleo icing recipe

This is another icing recipe I found. I actually used a very similar recipe as chocolate mousse before I saw this. The avocados give the thick, smooth texture to it so it’s actually a nice chocolate fix for chocolate addicts like me. My processor couldn’t really beat the avocados very well (I think the quantity was small for it) so I did get small pieces of green in the middle, but I convinced myself it was intentional decor 😉 This icing/frosting is thicker than the meringue one in my previous post. I haven’t tried doing any flowers or so with it but I think it might work with some effort and tweaking (maybe add meringue powder to it to make it hold?). Guess using it for some decoration will be my next experiment.

While we are here, the cake recipe in the link is also pretty good. Mine was a bit drier than I hoped for but tasted good overall. I used an 8 inch pan although I think 6inch for that quantity would have been better if u want it nice and tall (u would probably not use all the batter in a 6inch though). I wasn’t sure how much it would rise given that there’s no wheat flour in there but I would have generally preferred to be a little taller so you can fill it in the middle.

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Paleo cupcakes

So when was the last time I wrote a post ? Months ago! Yes, it seems I’m horrible at this blogging thing. Maybe doing a PhD and blogging about baking just don’t work together but oh well. As much as I love baking, and more so cake decorating, I have been trying to eat healthier for the past few months which is another reason I’ve been hush hush. I’m not on a strict diet per say but I’m trying to eliminate refined sugar and use more natural ingredients. In a sense, I’m doing a light version of the paleo diet.

I’ve tried different recipes for dessert (these brownies are by far my favorite), but the challenge is how to decorate them without using a ton of sugar (aka buttercream icing) so lately I’ve experimented with different frostings. My friend shared this recipe for chocolate quinoa cupcakes with me (yes, using cooked quinoa who knew!) and the best part is it had an icing recipe with it. The icing was surprisingly very tasty. I used the chocolate version, I couldn’t get it to the right consistency just using the egg white and honey. With the chocolate, the consistency was good enough to be swirled on top of a cupcake (see pic). I think you could also frost a cake with it, but it’s too soft to do any other kinds of decorating such as flowers etc. but at least u get nice looking cupcakes. Maybe, there are ways to decorate things without sugar after all!

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Eid Al Adha Cupcakes

It’s Eid Al Adha today. Eid Mubarak everyone! So decided to celebrate with some sheep shaped cupcakes (for those who don’t know the relevance, this is the eid where Muslims sacrifice a goat/sheep/cow on the first day and distribute a 1/3 of it to the less fortunate. We usually have a special meal cooked with lamb to eat on the first day). I looked for an easy way to make the sheep shaped cupcakes and found this post … but here’s the thing, yesterday was the Canadian Thanksgiving as well, and although we don’t really celebrate it other than take the opportunity to eat some great Turkey, I decided to make pumpkin cupcakes as part of the Canadian spirit so you can really call this my Eidsgiving celebration 😉

I used this gluten-free recipe for the cupcakes to try to make it a bit healthy (can’t say the same about the icing 😀 )

I did regular buttercream icing, and used a wilton tip 12 to pipe loop like shapes on top of each other onto the cupcake to resemble the fur.

For the heads, I bought some black Wilton shape and amaze dough, and created a ball from it, then pressed it with my thumb to create the proper shape of the head. Roll small pieces for the ears. I used white fondant for the eyes with small black dots for the pupils. I basically followed the post above except that I used the shape and amaze dough for the heads. I used the veining tool to create the nose on each head.

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Konafa (qatayfi) with cream and mango

Did a full version of the konafa with mango and cream. Was delicious. Several of my friends have asked about the recipe. Promise to post recipes in August when work pressure starts to cool off !

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Ramadan sweets

Ramadan is here ! Ramadan Mubarak everyone 🙂 I’m currently experimenting with oriental desserts and here are a few of my trials.

This dessert is know as qatayef. I’ld like to think it is originally Egyptian but I’m not that sure. In all cases, it’s a very popular dessert in Ramadan in Egypt. It’s traditionally stuffed with mixed nuts but you can really put whatever you want in there ! I’ve made a couple with Nutella (the slightly darker ones) and a couple with nuts. The qatayef are deep fried and then dipped in syrup. Dipping the Nutella ones in syrup is optional. I find they are already sweet as is !

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Next, we have konafa. Konafa is originally a Turkish dessert known as qatayfi, but in Egypt, we call it konafa. It is also traditionally stuffed with nuts, but lately people have been innovating with all kinds of stuffing. I’ve experimented with two of those I’ve seen lately. The small one is stuffed with Nutella (yes, you can guess I’m a fan by now) and the cups are small circles of konafa separated by cream (whipped cream made from heavy cream) and small pieces of mango. We are still waiting for Iftar so can’t tell if they taste good or not but I sure hope they do!

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Adding texture to your cake

Continuing with the tools I used for the wedding cake, these are the texture sheets I used for the bottom tier of the cake: http://www.countrykitchensa.com/shop/cake-decorating-supplies/floral-texture-sheet-set/38/527/1327/637898/

Now pros and cons, pros are I really liked the patterns on these and that you could either create texture or embossing depending on which side you use. However, the downside is these sheets are very small so completely aligning the pattern every time you have to move the sheet is hard. The other thing is that the fondant stretches a bit when you lift it to cover the cake ( needless to say, don’t use a smoother when u have a pattern on). Ideally, you can use the wilton impression mats since you roll the fondant over it and can just flip it on the cake which should minimize the stretching. However, I didn’t like the patterns used since they don’t really fit with a wedding cake, and they create an embossing and not a texture ( at least from what I’ve seen).

So I guess you should choose the option that fits your design and I’m sure there are large texture mats out there but I just didn’t come across one in Canada.

Large gumpaste roses

As promised (and long overdue), I’ll post a couple of the videos and tools I used to create the wedding cake in my previous post. My first challenge for the cake design I chose were the large roses. We only learned the small ones in class, and the cutters we used were not big enough. I came across this video during my search and liked the fact that she only uses circle cutters which makes it more flexible to create the size you want and makes it look more natural.

I had to try this a couple of times before it actually worked so just keep practicing till you get the number of layers and arrangement right for the look you want. Depending on which layer you are on, you also don’t need the whole circle so you can take half or 3/4 of a circle and only curl that part for a petal. I read somewhere on some forum about using pearl dust and steam to give the roses a more real look and I really liked the idea. So what you do is after the roses are completely dry (so a day or two later at least), brush your rose with pearl dust (I liked using the golden because it gave a shimmer and didn’t really look gold) then pass the rose quickly on top of steaming water a couple of times. It shouldn’t touch the water and should just quickly pass through the steam on top.