A Fighter Jet in the Sky Cake

I can’t believe my little baby has just turned seven! I guess he is not a baby anymore… It seems like he was two yesterday. We’ve been busy lately with all the planning and celebrating (that’s why I’m not always here and a bit slow to respond; my apologies). There are more parties to come, more cakes to bake (smaller groups of kids are easier to control).

I borrowed this jet decorating idea from Lindy Smith – a well-known cake decorator. Technically, the whole thing is edible, including the jet. The last is made of pastillage and gum paste. As for the cake, I thought these clouds presented a great opportunity to bake two different cakes, so the kids could have a choice. I baked a chocolate-orange pound cake and a lemon one (pound cakes are easy to shape without excessive crumbling) in a loaf pan, cut the clouds out of them, then sliced each cloud into three layers. I filled the chocolate cake with a Sicilian orange marmalade, and the lemon one with an apricot jam. For the frosting, I made a batch of Swiss buttercream with a generous addition of fresh lemon juice, then divided the cream in half and added a bit of lemon oil into the first half (to frost the lemon-apricot clouds) and some orange oil into another half (for the chocolate-orange clouds).

The decorated cakes can be both fun and delicious (I mean the part that is under the fondant), and can have a far more interesting taste than most of the decorators suggest.

Coconut Financiers with Tropical Fruits

I bake with coconut often. This is the only nut my kid can eat. And besides, I like the taste. For these financiers I went with good quality dry papaya and pineapple as a topping, the ones that can be found in a health food section. I prefer the fruits in chubby chunks rather than thinly sliced, the latter are quite tough and excessively chewy. If you are luckier than we are and live in a warmer and dryer place where berries are in season, scatter some fresh raspberries over the top of the cakes instead of the dry fruits, if you prefer.

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Hippo Cake

This is my attempt to recreate a girl’s favorite toy in a cake form for her 3rd birthday. I don’t exactly know why this creature turned out looking so sad. Maybe the fact that I was making it at 2AM is the reason… I didn’t want to incorporate too much coloring into the cake itself. So instead I covered the cake board with green fondant grass and planted some bright flowers.

Inside is the rich chocolate pound cake filled with seedless raspberry jam and Swiss buttercream.

Happy Birthday, Isabella!

Citrus Ricotta Cookies

We are on spring break now. My son keeps me busy involving into his numerous plays and activities (that’s a major disadvantage of having an only child). And although Tim loves his cookies readily available he is absolutely against me spending a lot of time (any time, to be correct) in the kitchen. So, this is a quick fix; my adaptation of Nick Malgieri’s cookies. I wouldn’t call them “terrific” as the author does (sorry…), I’d rather characterize them as “lovely”. And they are lovely and very kids-friendly, cakey and tender, perfect with a glass of milk.

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In my opinion (I’m sure I’m not alone here), the best part of these streusel cakes is the streusel topping itself. Can you imaging a goodie entirely consisting of the delectable buttery and nutty crumbs? And that  is exactly what the sbrisolona is – a gigantic (12-inch in diameter) crunchy cookie. Italians never cease to amaze me with their delicious creativity.

The recipe below is adapted from Nancy Silverton. I couldn’t resist a temptation and browned the butter instead of just melting it.

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Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies with Fleur de Sel Cardamom Caramel Filling

Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies with Fleur de Sel Cardamom Caramel Filling

The first thing that comes to mind when I hear “thumbprint cookies” is a jewel-like, jam-filled vanilla cookies. And they are delicious (if the jam is good), no doubt. But this time I decided to shake it up a little. I wanted them chocolate this time. And for the filling I reused (very successfully) the fleur de sel and cardamom caramel I made earlier. With all my respect to the old classic, I like these particular cookies of mine better.

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