Tag Archives: birthday cake

Croquembouche for a Sweet Sixteen

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The end of the school year and all of the activities that come with it have left me behind in writing about some of the treats we have been enjoying here. So today I am going back a few weeks to the Sweet Sixteen celebration we had for our Middle K. She didn’t want a party, but was excited to come home with a driver’s learning permit. Three drivers under the age of 21: don’t even ask about our insurance rates!

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Instead of a traditional birthday cake, Middle K wanted a Croquembouche: a cream puff tower drizzled with burnt-sugar caramel that sticks the cream puffs together. We filled them with a simple butterscotch mousse made from packaged butterscotch pudding whipped with half milk/half cream.

Many croquembouche are very tall (2-3 feet tall) and are served as wedding cakes. We were not quite as ambitious with ours, but it certainly made for a fun birthday cake.

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Just-Baked Unfilled Cream Puffs

RECIPES:

Croquembouche

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Cream Puffs
½ cup butter
1 cup water
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup flour
4 eggs

Filling: Pudding, whipped cream, custard or mousse

In a medium saucepan, combine butter, water and salt. Bring to a boil. Add flour all at once, stirring vigorously. Cook and stir until mixture forms a ball that doesn’t separate. Remove from heat. Cool 10 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating with a wooden spoon after each addition until smooth.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Drop batter by heaping tablespoons, 3 inches apart, onto a greased baking sheet. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden. Cool completely on a wire rack. Fill with desired filling (SEE ASSEMBLY TIP BELOW).

Burnt Caramel
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water

Place sugar and water in a saucepan and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat until sugar turns light brown, about 15–20 minutes. Remove from heat. (If caramel begins to harden in the pan before you are done, place pan over low heat until re-melted)

To Assemble Croquembouche:

Prepare cream puffs and desired filling (whipped cream, pudding, custard, mousse). Place filling in a pastry bag with a long filling tip. Pierce the cream puffs (do not cut cream puffs in half) with the pastry tip until tip is about 1 cm into the cream puff. Squeeze pastry bag to fill cream puff.

Place one layer of cream puffs in a circle on a serving plate. Drizzle the tops of the cream puffs with a small amount of the burnt  caramel. Immediately place a smaller circle of cream puffs on top of the hot caramel (work quickly before the caramel hardens). Repeat with increasingly smaller layers of cream puffs topped with caramel. Once your tower is assembled, use a spoon or fork to drizzle hot caramel in strands around the outside of the tower. Serve same day as assembling.

Cream Puffs

Croquembouche 3

½ cup butter
1 cup water
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup flour
4 eggs
Filling: Pudding, whipped cream, custard, or mousse
Optional glaze: melted chocolate to drizzle over top

In a medium saucepan, combine butter, water and salt. Bring to a boil. Add flour all at once, stirring vigorously. Cook and stir until mixture forms a ball that doesn’t separate. Remove from heat. Cool 10 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating with a wooden spoon after each addition until smooth.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Drop batter by heaping tablespoons, 3 inches apart, onto a greased baking sheet. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Cut cream puffs in half. Scoop out and discard any soft dough inside. Spoon in desired filling and replace top. Optional: drizzle tops of cream puffs with melted chocolate. Serve immediately after filling.

 

To make Eclairs: Prepare batter as above. Spoon into a pastry tube fitted with a Number 10 or larger tip. Slowly pipe strips of batter onto a greased baking sheet, making each strip about 4” long. Bake as above. Fill and frost with chocolate glaze.

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Partying with Penguins

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Today is my baby girl’s 9th birthday. We worked together to create this fun Penguin Cake. She has a delicious cotton candy belly.

Here is the penguin without the cotton candy:

Penguin Cake 1

We love having Little J in our family. She is just as sweet as her penguin friend.

Penguin Cake 4

Happy Birthday Little J

We love you always!

 

Inspiration for cake from an Australian Women’s World Cookbook magazine from 1998. Cake frosted with this Buttercream Frosting (with the addition of orange extract).

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A Butterfly in Buttercream

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Today is my Little J’s 7th birthday. It is amazing how quickly time flies. My once-upon-a-time-baby is all grown up and decorating her own cakes now! I am glad she is still interested in fun little girl things like butterflies. Last year we made Cupcakes topped with Chocolate Butterflies for her 6th birthday. This year it was one great big butterfly cake.4911 071-1

Little J was in charge of design and decorations. She chose the color patterns of the icing sections, the sprinkles and the M&M borders (I love Easter-colored candies!). She also put on all of the M&Ms and sprinkles and shaped the antennae. She is very meticulous! My job was heavy construction: cake cutting and icing spreading.

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She carefully separated a rainbow mix of sprinkles into separate colors.

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If you look closely, the sprinkles are shaped like tiny butterflies. Little J says they are the baby butterflies and the big cake is the Mommy Butterfly.

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Congratulations Little J on a cake well done!

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Happy 7th Birthday Little J. We love you lots!

RECIPE:

Buttercream Icing

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½ cup butter
½ cup shortening (or additional butter)
1 lb (4 cups) powdered sugar, sifted
2 Tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla
dash salt
Additional milk to thin icing

Cream butter and shortening with a mixer. Beat in powdered sugar, 2 Tbs milk, vanilla and salt. This yields 3 CUPS STIFF icing (for piping borders and decorations).

For thinner icing (spreading on cake): Gradually beat in additional milk, 1 tsp at a time, until icing is desired consistency.

FOR CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM: Add 3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled and additional 1 Tbs milk.

 

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Filed under Desserts, Kids' Cakes