Saturday, April 9, 2011

Bumble Bee Birthday Cake

My daughter wanted a bumble bee birthday party, complete with the bee hive cake. After spending a lot of time on line checking out ideas, here's what I ultimately came up with.
I used two cake mixes - yellow and chocolate and reserved about 1/2 c. of each, then added the yellow to the chocolate, and the chocolate to the yellow and swirled it to create a marbled effect.  
I baked the cakes in 3 separate pans/dishes.  
For the base I used a glass pyrex bowl.  For the next layer, I used a cake mold I've had for several years.  You know, the doll or princess cake mold that makes the skirt, and you slip the doll top into...I just covered the hole at the base with parchment paper.  The top layer was a pyrex like small dish that I use to serve salsa or sour cream etc. in...all greased and floured liberally.  
I baked the smallest bowl for about 40 minutes and the larger ones for an hour.  After they'd cooled for 10 minutes, I removed them from the pans and let them cool completely.  
I ended up slicing the second layer in half (where it coned the most) and used it for a higher layer.  I assembled it all using a butter cream frosting.  
(And yes - this photo is sideways - I don't know why, and I don't know how to fix it.  I had other photos here, and they all 'broke') But, you get the picture. 

One of the ideas I found online suggested heating or melting my frosting (I just used a yellow buttercream - about 3 cups) and pouring it over the cake.  While it was a little weird, that's what I ended up doing.  At first, I thought it was a little gloppy (could've been too hot?) but it poured right over, but wasn't smooth or even, and left a few holes as it dripped down.  I decided a real beehive isn't truly symmetrical and perfect, and really liked the effect.

I placed it in the fridge and let it set.  The frosting actually became quite hard, and the flavor changed - it became yummier!

As the cake cooled, I went to work on the little bumblebees.  I'd seen several ideas online, but was still waiting for my inspiration.  I decided to use almonds and cover them with chocolate.  Just as I was ready to melt the chocolate, I had found my inspiration.  Instead of brown with yellow strips, I decided to go the other way.
I melted white chocolate bark and colored it yellow.  Then I dipped roasted almonds into the chocolate, and the placed them on parchment paper to dry.
I melted semi-sweet chocolate chips and drew stripes on each bee, and added yellow and white gumdrop slices for wings (I preferred the yellow in the end because the white looked too much like houseflies) - the chocolate stripes easily secured the wings.
I piped 2 white dots for eyes using royal frosting, and then added pupils with a toothpick and melted chocolate.  Really, they were super cute little guys, and really fun to make.  They reminded me of sesame street characters with their googly eyes.

And yes, some turned out better than others.  I was able to re-adjust them knocking off extra bits after it had dried.  
Today I affixed the bumblebees to the cake.  While I started out using royal frosting, I found that melted chocolate seems to glue things better in this case.
As a final touch, I added a few daisies.
The best part of all was that the cake was super cute, and tasted great too!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Ice Cream Tacos

Ice Cream Tacos??!!
I know - it just doesn't sound very appetizing - What a weird combination...
Although it doesn't sound great, we found this recipe many years ago in a 'Kid's Cookbook' by Pillsbury.  This is the second time we've taken these babies to school for a birthday treat and the kids were fascinated by the unusual prospect, and loved them.  As odd as the idea seems, the corn tortilla offsets the sweet ice cream, adding a delightful salty flavor as well as a fantastic crunch.

We made these the first couple of times strictly using chocolate chips for the chocolate part, but then I started using crushed up almond brittle, instead of the peanuts, and we REALLY love it this way.  Here's a link to the almond brittle. The almond brittle uses butterscotch chips which add a profound depth that satisfies without overpowering the chocolate.  Finally, this is a really fun kid friendly recipe - nothing too complicated for a kid.   Of course double or triple or quadruple this recipe as needed.   

 8 taco shells 
1/3 cup almond brittle, crushed
1/4 c. chocolate chips 
2 cups ice cream (any flavor)

 Heat oven to 350 degrees. 
Stand taco shells up in baking dish/pan. If needed, crumple up pieces of foil into balls, and stick them in pan to prop up taco shells. 
Heat taco shells for 5 minutes or until they are crisp and look light golden-brown. (If freezing these for a longer period of time or over-night, bake for 8-10 minutes to help retain crispness).  

Remove from oven, and let taco shells cool in pan for 10 minutes or until they aren't warm when you touch them. Leave taco shells in pan. 

Measure out almond brittle. Spoon 1 teaspoon into bottom of each taco shell. Reserve extra for later.  

Melt chocolate chips and spoon  into a small sandwich size plastic bag and set aside for a moment.   

Measure out 1/4 cup of ice cream. Carefully spoon 1/4 c. ice cream into each taco shell.  Sprinkle remaining brittle liberally over taco shells.

Snip a very small opening in the corner of the plastic bag of melted chocolate and drizzle chocolate over taco shells decoratively.  

Cover with foil and freeze for at least 15 minutes prior to serving.