December 29, 2010

Gingy-bread Men

Yes, that's right: "Gingy"-bread Men. Anyone here like Shrek? Well, my favorite Shrek character happens to be Gingy! So I thought that this year, instead of the minimal gingerbread men decoration that I usually do, I would decorate my cookies to look like Gingy.

I used my favorite thick and chewy gingerbread cookie recipe and opted to decorate the cookies with a traditional royal icing. What makes Gingy so "Gingy-like" are: white squiggles, white leg stitches (after he's tortured, of course), white dot eyes, a red mouth, and lavender eyebrows. Oh, and of course his purple gum drop buttons. My favorite part of these cookies are definitely the candy buttons.

December 27, 2010

Christmas Domo

Hope you're all having/had a wonderful holiday break! Today I have a quick post to start off my holiday cookie blogging. It's a twist on my Domo TKOs... a tutorial for Christmas Domos :). But, the main point of this post is to give you all a preview of all the cookies I made for Christmas, which I'll be blogging about in the next few posts.

Here is the cartoonized version of my Christmas cookie list. An actual picture of all the cookies is posted at the bottom of this post.
While I was making these Domo cookies, I realized that by adding different hats, they can be used for all sorts of occasions (sort of like Kirby in Super Smash Bros after sucking up different characters). Change the red hat to green and you have Elf Domo. Change the white cotton on top to a pom pom and add polka dots and you have Birthday Domo. A blue hat with stars makes Wizard Domo. Add the year and you have New Years Domo. Think of all the possibilities :D!

December 11, 2010

Wii Controller Cookies

Sorry for being MIA, but finals are coming up and I've been busy studying and writing papers :(. But luckily, that means that a week from today, it'll be winter break and I'll be free to turn on the Christmas music and start baking my Christmas cookies. I can't wait! This week though, I thought that I'd post about something fun, a little something to brighten up the day.

Remember the controller cookies I posted about back in April? Well today I'm adding another controller to the bunch: Wii Controller Cookies. I enjoy making controller cookies because it gives me an excuse to browse the candy aisles at the supermarket. I ended up getting white "mystery" Airheads and confetti sprinkles for some of the buttons. Sadly though, I couldn't seem to find a clear candy to use for the "A" button. But no worries, I just ended up making my own clear gummy candy buttons :).

November 28, 2010

Smiling Raspberry Millefeuille

Hope you all had a super Thanksgiving! Instead of a post this week, I decided I'd share this cute millefeuille recipe turned video featuring smiling raspberries and a mustached bottle of cream. I found it on one of my new favorite blogs: Griottes. Even if you don't read French, you should still check out both the video (which is adorable with catchy music) and the blog (which has lovely photography).

Video by Griottes {palette culinaire}. Hope you enjoy it! By the way, this totally inspires me to try my hand at making a video :).

November 21, 2010

Tailgate Football Cupcakes

Are you all familiar with Movember? It happens every November; many guys start growing a mo' (moustache = symbol of manliness) and keep it for the whole month in the name of prostate cancer.

In honor of Movember, C&C Cakery is holding The Manly Cupcake Challenge (and has started a donation team), to bring awareness of prostate cancer to the blogosphere. It's a great way for gals like myself to contribute, despite our inability to grow a mo'. The challenge: make a manly cupcake, in flavor or in decoration.

Here's how this cupcake is manly: 1) Beer (flavor), 2) Football, 3) BBQ Grill (meat!), 4) Lack of frilly liners, 5) Matcha (bitterness to tamper down on frosting sweetness), 6) Nature colors, and 7) Fire (the closest I could get to an explosion).

Cool right? I think the grill cookies would also be great for a BBQ or a 4th of July party. And, of course, these cupcakes would be great for the Superbowl, with the footballs decorated with your team's colors. So now that you're acquainted with Movember, if you have to time, read up more about it and donate.
The Manly Cupcake Contest Prize Sponsors: Blush Printables, Hello Hanna, Elise Steven’s Illustration and Design, Taraduff, Miss Kitty Creations, Bella Cupcake Couture, Drama Llama, & My Creative Side.

P.S. My friend mentioned that I should do something school spirit-y in this post, so I made some Cal football cake bites as well :) (see below).

November 13, 2010

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

It's pretty much a given that I'm baking something with pumpkin at this time of the year. For instance, last year around this time, I made pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Baked goods with pumpkin always turn out moist and delicious, with spices like cinnamon and ginger that really make the home smell like autumn.

Recently, I bought Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. As I was flipping through it, I saw a recipe for pumpkin whoopie pies, chubby little pumpkin cakes sandwiching a cream cheese filling; I knew had to make them. But as always, I knew a twist was needed. Instead of the typical round pies, I decided that I'd actually make them look like pumpkins. I piped the batter out: peach shaped blobs with stubby stems. After the pies were baked and cooled, I "painted" the stems with matcha white chocolate and piped on semisweet chocolate lines, thus making these pumpkin flavored pies literally look like pumpkins.

November 08, 2010

Happy (belated) Birthday!

As of today, Diamonds for Dessert is officially 1 year (+ 12 days) old! Considering that my first baking post here was a few days before Halloween, it'd be impossible to actually celebrate Diamond for Dessert's birthday on the actual date (too much Halloween baking to do). But I say, better late than never :D. Time for a celebration!

Today, I have a special recipe to share, a recipe for a wonderful strawberry cream cake. If you were to ask me what my favorite dessert EVER is, well, this is it. Really, if this weren't a birthday post, I'd name it "The Best Cake Ever." I've pretty much requested this cake from my mom for my own birthday every year since I was a little girl. It seems like such a basic cake with lightly sweetened whipped cream, a few layers of chiffon cake, and fresh strawberries, but don't be deceived; it tastes amazing. I decided to take a no frills approach to decorate this cake, no fondant, no sprinkles, only a piping bag of freshly whipped cream to prevent any distraction from the taste.

Even though it has only been a year since Diamonds for Dessert started, it feels like I've been blogging for much longer. Thank you to all of you out there who read my blog, new readers and old. Thanks to all of you who leave comments, from recipe questions to your results from trying these recipes; they really make my day. Happy Birthday Diamonds for Desserts; I hope for many more birthdays to come!

P.S. The recipe really isn't that long, just lots of notes throughout. By the way, doesn't this totally look like a cake in a manga? Haha :P.

October 31, 2010

Coffin Bread (棺材板)

One last Halloween post. Here is a delicious main dish type of recipe: coffin bread (棺材板). This is an actual dish originating from Tainan, Taiwan, the city my dad is from (so it seems appropriate that I should know how to make this). There, coffin bread is found served at the night markets along with all those other yummy Taiwanese dishes.

So what is coffin bread? Think of it as Tainan's version of San Francisco's clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. It's a crunchy golden toast "coffin" filled with a creamy seafood chowder. In Taiwan, the bread isn't actually coffin shaped; that's my own little Halloween twist/literal take on the name. Instead the bread is a fried, hollowed out toast block, the perfect vehicle for the hot chowder.

Graveyard Cupcakes

Happy Halloween! Anyone have any fun Halloween plans? Or a cool Halloween costume planned? I celebrated Halloween early with a party on Friday where I served all of these treats that I've been posting about here. It was quite fun, and in case you were wondering, I dressed up as Medusa with a black toga and snakes in my hair.

One of the desserts I served at the party were these Graveyard Cupcakes. The cool thing about these is that this decoration method can basically be applied to any cupcake/frosting recipe of your choice. All you need are some chocolate cookie crumbs and the tombstone cookies. I ended up making two types of cupcakes: pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and chocolate peanut butter cup cupcakes with peanut butter frosting (recipe below).

I wanted the tombstone cookies to look gray like stone, so I thought to make a black sesame shortbread cookie decorated with a bit of melted chocolate. And to make them easier to prepare, I sliced them from a log rather than cut them all out individually. I was also inspired by those kiddy crafts that use cookie crumbs as dirt, like potted flower cakes or dirt & worms. It turned out quite well with these cupcakes.

October 30, 2010

Almond Jelly (杏仁豆腐)

To continue with the Halloween theme, here's a recipe for a dessert that's easy yet quite impressive: ghostly almond jelly. This was my first time making almond jelly from scratch, but it turns out it's really simple. By making it from scratch, rather than from an instant powder, I could ensure that it was firm enough that shapes could be cut out without the jelly falling apart.

Isn't this cool? The jelly fluoresces under a black light. It's perfect for Halloween since it's ghosts are white, and it glows. The reason for this is that I replaced some milk with tonic water. Tonic water contains quinine, a bicyclic aromatic compound that fluoresces when exposed to UV light, emitting a blue light (my inner nerd is delighted by this, haha). Quinine is slightly bitter, but when it's not noticeable when diluted in the almond jelly. I can totally see this used for purposes other than Halloween as well. Wouldn't star cutouts be awesome for like a space-themed party, Pacman for a video game party, or maybe jellyfish for an under the sea/Nemo party :D?

October 29, 2010

Tomato Soup & Boney Grissini

The nights are getting longer and the weather's getting colder now that fall is finally making its official appearance (after all those randomly hot summer-like days). What better way to warm up than with a bowl of soup? And of course it's always nice to have something to accompany the soup.

I chose to cook up a pot of tomato soup since Halloween's right around the corner and the red-orangeness of the soup just seems to fit... evoking thoughts of blood and vampires. To accompany the soup, I thought it would be fun to make some bone-shaped grissini to further play on the Halloween theme. A bowl of creamy tomato soup with a dollop of creme fraiche accompanied by a couple of peppery bread sticks make a delightful way to enjoy autumn.

October 16, 2010

Domo TKOs

I'm not too sure why, but I find Domo-kun absolutely adorable. So, it was bound to happen that I'd bake something Domo-themed. In case you don't know who or what Domo-kun (どーもくん) is, he's the mascot of NHK, a Japanese TV station. He's a brown, fuzzy, rectangular creature with a perpetually open mouth who apparently hatched from an egg, and he appears in short stop-motion segments on NHK.

I got the idea to make some sort of Domo chocolate cookie, but it couldn't just be any old cookie. And then it hit me, why not Domo-fy TKOs? TKOs, Thomas Keller Oreos, are what I think of as a grown-up's Oreo. They're rich and decadent with salted chocolate wafers sandwiched around a creamy white chocolate ganache center. And so I did just that, giving a playful makeover to the fancy adult treat.

*Edited 1/30/2011: To all of you who want an alternative dough to work with, try Domo Icebox Cookies. The dough is easier to work with, and they aren't sandwich cookies. But, of course, they're equally cute!

October 03, 2010

Chocolate Orange Madeleines

So... I'm not very fond of oranges. I love all other types of citrus, but orange has never been my thing. I do have a few exceptions (orange zest, orange extract, and orange chocolate pairings), but any other form of orange is a no-go for me. Thus, these madeleines fit the bill perfectly; they combine chocolate and orange in such a way that even non-orange fans such as myself can't resist their charm.

Originally this recipe called for lemon zest, but I didn't have any lemons, so I subbed the zest of a whole orange instead. It was definitely a good move; chocolate and orange make a good combination (then again, chocolate seems to make everything better :D). This delightful recipe by Pierre Hermé was quite successful; it was one of those few instances where my cookies looked exactly like the cookbook picture. These madeleines are like mini cakes, with a tender crumb and distinctive humps, perfect with a cup of tea.

September 20, 2010

Glee Cookies!

Any Gleeks out there? I happen to love TV comedies, plus I'm a sucker for musicals, so Glee definitely fits my bill for awesome TV. Because the season premiere for Glee's second season is tomorrow, I decided to make some Glee character sugar cookies.

The challenge I had with these cookies was translating real people into a cartoon-y cookie form. Luckily, all the characters on the show have distinguishing hair and clothing, so it wasn't that big of a problem. I used the Glee Season 1 Volume 1 DVD set as my reference for the characters (which explains why some characters are missing and why Quinn is still a Cheerio), so for non-Glee watchers, if you're wondering who is who, you can always search up the DVD cover.

Seems like there will be some interesting couple drama in the upcoming season with the introduction of John Stamos's character as Emma's new beau, a love triangle between Artie, Tina, and Mike, the now post-baby Puck and Quinn, and Rachel and Finn getting back together. Oh, and fun cameos like Britney Spears, I can't wait!