Friday, November 26, 2010

Vanilla Bean White Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake

Here is the recipe for the Vanilla Bean White Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake. I made this along with the shrimp scampi that I posted a few days ago.  It was absolutely delicious! I had many requests for the cheesecake. I promise you it won't dissapoint.  

1 1/2 cups finely crushed graham crackers
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg yolk, beaten
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Crush the graham crackers. I placed mine in a blender on a low speed.
Mix in the sugar. Add the egg yolk and vanilla, then stir in the melted butter.  
I finally figured out how to focus on something close up like I've seen on other blogs. I know this has nothing to do with the recipe, but I'm just so danged proud of myself.  ;)

Line a springform pan with non-stick foil. Press graham crackers into the pan.
Bake at 375ยบ for 8 minutes or until edges are slightly brown. Remove and let cool. (Since I used the mini cheese cake pans, I checked them at about 4 minutes.

16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
2 Tablespoons corn starch
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
vanilla beans from one pod

Combine cream cheese, sour cream, corn starch and sugar, mix until sugar is dissolved. Add butter, vanilla and beans, blend until smooth. Don’t overmix.

Bake at 350F 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 1 hour.

1 cup whipping cream
2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
4 ounces 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
4 ounces white chocolate baking squares, melted

In a cold mixing bowl (I used a metal bowl) beat cream until soft peaks form. Gradually add powdered sugar until stiff peaks form.

Put this in a bowl in the fridge. Don’t wash your mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese in it, until fluffy. Add the white chocolate and beat until smooth. Fold in the whipped cream.

1 cup whipping cream
1 Tablespoon powdered sugar
Beans from one vanilla pod

In a cold mixing bowl, beat whipping cream until soft peaks form. Gradually add powdered sugar and then vanilla beans, beating until stiff peaks form.

After the cheesecake has cooled spread the mousse evenly on top. Refrigerate for about an hour then spread the whipped cream on top. Refrigerate several hours before serving.

 Below are just a few notes that I've made about this recipe. Hope this helps!
*Vanilla bean can be very expensive at the local markets. About $14 for 2 pods in my area. I happened upon a site that has a variety of vanilla at a better price. Vanilla paste works well.
*I found the vanilla whipped cream recipe not to be sweet enough for my or my family's taste. I increased the powered sugar to 3-4 tablespoons. Also, I think the next time that I make this cheesecake, I will omit the cream cheese from the white chocolate mousse. It was good with the cream cheese, but I think I may enjoy it a bit more without it.
 *When choosing a pan for making a cheesecake, it is best to use a springform pan or any pan specifically made for cheesecake. Such pans make it easier to "pop" the finished product out for a prettier cake. For this recipe, I used the Norpro small cheesecake pans that I purchased on Cooking times will vary if you use a smaller pan, so you may want to follow the manufacturers' cooking instructions included with your pan..
*Lastly, I've made a variation of this wonderful cheesecake. I used Ghiradelli's milk chocolate instead of the white chocolate and I added a cup of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips to the cheesecake batter.  It was delicious if I do say so myself...and I do!  ;)
I found this recipe at the following link:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A mug, a bucket and a little creativity

As I've stated before, I'm in the process of relocating to Baltimore, so I am building business in this area as well as Philadelphia. Sometimes, I forget items that I need in behind in one state or another. I left my mixer in Baltimore. My kitchenaid stand mixer that I love like a family member. So, I had to use my hand mixer. Not so bad, right? At 4 am, I realized that I had left my fondant smoother and part of my turn table as well. I had a McGyver moment and looked around to see what I could use: a mug and a bucket.

I placed the cakes set on cake boards on the bucket that was turned upside down and used that as a turn table. May not seem like a big deal to you, but I was pretty proud of myself not having a melt down. Something that is very easy to do so eary in the AM with little sleep and with a long day ahead. If you do find yourself in the same predicament, I would advise you to be careful with spinning the cake around. I found myself having a few close calls with the cake slipping off. Other than that, it worked like a charm. I was able to dirty ice my cake very well.

I then iced the 1st cake for the day with the crusting buttercream that I made with my HAND mixer. (I am so spoiled and used to using my KA mixer. I didn't skimp on the the mixing time 10 to 15 mins to make sure it nice and smooth when applied. It was a lot of buttercream and I used a lot of elbow grease, but it was so worth it!). After I placed the buttercream on the cake I needed to be able to smooth it over using the VIVA towel method. Since I left my fondant smoother, I used a mug. One that was pretty smooth and not ornate. I've seen people do it with just their hands, but when I try, I always wind up with finger marks. I think it came out pretty well.

Based on a design by Pink Cake Box

After that, I had to smooth the fondant on the next cake. One day when watching Amazing Wedding Cakes, I saw Christopher Garren use a ball of fondant dusted with powdered sugar to smooth out fondant. It worked very well in my opinion. 

Using this method provided me with a very smooth surface to hand paint the roses on this cake. The first cake was a triple chocolate fudge cake for a customer in Philadelphia. The second cake was a white almond sour cream cake, I delivered to Baltimore.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Cheesecake Factory Shrimp Scampi

My finished product!
In addition to baking sweets, I also love to make savory dishes. Ask my hips...they'll tell you it's true.  ;) I was taken to the Cheesecake Factory for my 9th 29th birthday last year. *Ahem*...Anyway, I ordered the shrimp scampi and Oooh Eeeem, Geeee, did I fall in love with it. I scoured the internet for hours until I found the recipe that I thought was closest to their amazing dish. This is what I found. I've added pictures below chronicling my first attempt at this scampi. I also added a few notes to the recipe it for the things that I "tweaked". It turned out wonderfully. I also made a Vanilla Bean White Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake. I'll post that recipe soon.

Cheesecake Factory Shrimp Scampi
1 Lb. Extra Large Shrimp, Peeled and Deveined ( I like to use a little more)
1 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Parmesean Cheese (can use Kraft or fresh grated)
1/4 tsp. salt (I added a 1/2 tsp salt and then added more to taste one I cooked the dish)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2-6 Tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Large Plum Tomato Diced
8-10 Whole Cloves Garlic, Peeled
3/4 Cup Heavy Cream
1 Cup Dry White Wine-Don't skimp on the wine. Use one of quality
1/2 Large Lemon Juiced (Pay attention to this. I used a whole lemon and it was AWFUL the first time I made it)
1/4 tsp. dried basil
Angel Hair Pasta Cooked Al Dente

Soak shrimp in milk for 15 minutes.

Heat 2 Tbs. Olive Oil in large sauce pan over medium high heat.  Combine flour, parmesean, salt, pepper and cayenne in medium bowl.  Dredge the shrimp in this mixture, making sure it is well coated.

Fry shrimp along with whole garlic in oil until shrimp are golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.  Add more oil as neccessary.  Remove cooked shrimp and set aside.

 Leave garlic in pan being careful to stir frequently to avoid burning.
This was my second round of garlic. I burned the first ones.

When all the shrimp are cooked, add wine and lemon juice to the garlic in the pan and bring to a boil.

Turn heat to low and let wine reduce by 1/2.  Add cream and bring back  to a boil, turn heat to low and reduce by 1/2.  Add basil and tomato. Cook for a minute or so to slightly soften tomatoes.  Season with salt to taste.  Remove from heat.  Sauce will thicken upon standing.
Serve sauce over pasta and place shrimp on top.

Recipe found on

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Jimmy's Birthday Cakes 2010

My birthday is in February during the school year (I love Coach bags in case you wanted to know. *Smile*). When I was growing up, I never had a birthday party at school. It's not that my parents didn't do anything special for me, but it was always done at the church where my father was the pastor. We had a lot of fun, but I just wanted to have it at school like the other kids did. I vowed that I would have the biggest party allowed at school for my kid when I had one. son's birthday is in July. No school party for him. I could do an early one, but it's not the same. This is according to Jimmy himself. So, I try to make his birthday as special as I can. This year, he had two celebrations. One at home in Philadelphia and the other in Baltimore with Sean's family.

He turned 9 this year and he is a big fan of the Dragon Ball series. I hand painted his cake based on a design from a fellow cake First, I drew the picture of Goku (I think that's his name) on a piece of wax paper. Then I placed that on top of a piece of rolled out fondant and cut it out with an Exacto knife. I then hand painted the image using food coloring gels mixed with vodka (the vodka helps with drying). I let that piece dry a bit. I think painted the the 8" round cake with orange and yellow. After that dried, I then placed the cut out image on the cake along with star cut outs. He asked for a vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream and that's what he got. He absolutely LOVED it!

His second cake was for his "pool party" hosted by my friend Tracey. This was a Kit Kat cake with M&Ms. For this cake he asked for chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. It was a hit!

Hand Painted Bumble Bee Cake

Boy what a weekend this was! I am in the process of relocating from the Philadelphia to the Baltimore area. As a result, I conduct business in these 2 cities and surrounding areas. For this particular weekend, I had a face painting party in Baltimore on Saturday and this cake to deliver in New Jersey on Sunday as well as 24 decorated cupcakes. I did face painting at this party as well. I prepared for everything quite I thought. Baked the cakes on Friday. Iced them on Saturday after my face painting job with enough time for the cake to settle. Bottom tier is lemon cake with raspberry filling. Top two tiers are chocolate cake with Oreo filling. I woke up at 4 am to decorate the cake. I used fondant with tylose powder to make the bee topper. Covered the cake with white fondant and added the pink with the sponge method (the same one used with faux painting). Painted the rest using food coloring gels. Everything went smoothly. We lost power for a little, but that was only a minor set back. My fiance helped me pack the car and off I went for a 2 hour drive. Oh wait! I did forget something and Sean met me and then I was off for the drive. The cake wasn't to be assembled until I got to the party.

Then...I hit traffic...really, really bad traffic. There was a major backup at the tolls. The highway looked like a parking lot. I was about to burst out in tears. My 2 hour ride turned into almost a 3.5 hour ride. Thank goodness Sean gave me his GPS. It was my first time using it for such a long travel. I couldn't have imagined trying to read directions, obsess about my cakes and cupcakes in the car and then the added stress of being caught in traffic. One of my closest friends also helped calm me down. She and her friend turned my tears into smiles in no time. Thanks Fran-a-dan!

When I arrived, I had to stack the cake and assemble in front of a waiting crowd. I didn't notice until I saw the picture that it was leaning. I usually think to just move the tiers around til they are level...but I was so frazzled and really nervous with the onlookers! After I set the cake up, I then went straight to face painting.

My customer was really cool about it. And little Miss Tatum was absolutely adorable. Dressed in a bumble bee custom (The party was on Oct. 31). I've got something pretty special for her up my sleeve for Christmas since the mom was more concerned about my safety than anything else!

Face painting from the previous day's party

Mickey Mouse Cake

Several weeks ago, a friend from my childhood came to me and asked for a baby shower cake for his daughter. First off, let me just say, I think I felt a few gray hairs sprout from my scalp when he asked. Can't believe how fast time flies. It seems like just yesterday, I forced him to watch the Sound of Music with me and act out my favorite scenes. Now his daughter was having a baby.

I started my caking adventures in May of 2010 and haven't stopped since. I was very honored and touched that he asked me to make the cake. This was my first 3 tier buttercream cake. I used the techniques taught by Sharon Zambito of Sharon's Sugar Shack. I hope to purchase her whole DVD series.

For the cake topper, I cut out a letter on my scroll saw. By day, I am a children's illustration artist. Many of the items I paint are sold on upscale children's retail sites. My biggest seller by far are wall letters. I thought it would be great to combine the two things I love to do. I hand painted the letter and my friend's daughter can use the letter to hang above the crib or door...whatever she prefers to do. The top two tiers were a butter cake and the bottom tier was a chocolate cake with chocolate filling. From what he tells me, everyone loved it!