It's a nasty, icy day here in Stony Point (ice storms and freezing rain), and I can't get out of the driveway and our road in order to get to work. So, poor me, I'm stuck at home instead! A perfect day to sip my Chai tea and write a post about my birthday, which just happens to fall on New Year's Day.
This year was a biggie...40! So I threw myself a party. With beyond-the-call-of-duty housecleaning assistance from David, and two solid days of baking, I ended up with a clean house and quite a spread of goodies! The party was a real success. Here's some of what I cooked up:
Some little cinnamon-nutmeg cookies from a half-batch of dough I'd saved and frozen from Christmas, and petit fours from Martha Stewart's recipe, which were a nightmare to make! Everything went well until the glazing, when lavender glaze ended up all over me, all over the kitchen, and all over a few other rooms as well (long story!). But not so much on the petit fours themselves. It took a few coatings, and the whole process was such a pain that I didn't coat the whole batch. That, and with many casualties along the way, what you see here was about as many salvageable petit fours as I had. But...everyone loved them! They were a huge hit! There must be a better way to do the glazing. Onto other goodies:
In the foreground is an apple pie using a filling recipe from the King Arthur Flour site (it uses their Boiled Cider...well worth it!), and the Cook's Illustrated pie crust recipe that uses vodka...I believe you have to pay for membership on their website to get to the recipe there, but it can be found many other places on the web. It really works! The crust was easy to make, and came out tender and flaky. In the back is my chocolate trifle, and unfortunately I have no idea where the recipe came from...I printed it from a website and not sure which one. It's called "Chocolate Lover's Trifle", if you're looking to track it down. I made a few changes, but basically it has pieces of chocolate cake smothered in raspberry jam and brushed with Amaretto, layered with custard (which never set, and I had to mix it with whipped cream), raspberries, almonds and chocolate shavings. Really yummy, and another big hit!
But the piece de resistance had to be my decorated cake. Here it is:
I spent weeks learning how to do the gum paste so I could make the flowers, and it took me a long time to come up with a color scheme, and there were all sorts of snafus along the way, but I was very happy with the results! The cake is covered in fondant, which was a new experience for me too (went pretty well, actually), and everything on it is completely edible. Inside is a delicious hazelnut cake made from a recipe in the book Whimsical Bakehouse (which I highly recommend!), with a Nutella buttercream filling. Yum! Cutting into it was a little tough for me after all the work I put into it, but it tasted so good that it was worth it! And at the end of the party, I was left with:
Kinda sad, but well worth all the effort!