Danielle's Birthday

More bubbles and lace (I'm in love with my new lace molds!) for my friend Danielle's birthday party!  Both tiers were chocolate cake; the top was filled with chocolate ganache and cappuccino cream filling, and the bottom filled with chocolate ganache and raspberry preserves.

The gorgeous birthday girl with our friend Mike - and cake!

Danielle - HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!  Hoping that the year ahead is the best ever! xo

Featured on The White Library!

Remember the black, white, and red dessert table I created for my friend's housewarming party earlier this year?  I am thrilled and honored to say that it is featured on The White Library!  The White Library is an absolutely gorgeous resource for event design inspiration and inspired living.  Whether you're looking for some dessert table eye candy, home or event design ideas, or crafty projects - the White Library has it all.  Head on over and be inspired!

Ivory and Lavender Bridal Shower Cake

I made this gorgeous ivory and lavender cake for a bridal shower this past weekend.  The top tier was lemon cake filled with lemon curd; the bottom tier was chocolate fudge cake filled with chocolate ganache and raspberry jam.

I think one of the challenges when starting large(r) projects is estimating how much you'll need in terms of ingredients - as well as time.  It doesn't matter what industry you are in - it all comes down to resources and time!  Just to give you an idea of what goes into a cake like this ... 6" and 9" square cakes, 3.5 quarts of buttercream, an entire recipe of chocolate ganache that uses 1lb of chocolate, a pint of lemon curd, just over a cup of raspberry jam, and about 7lbs of fondant, between covering both cakes and the embellishments.  And yes - a lot of time as well.  Whew!

Laura and Jay - wishing you a beautiful wedding day and a lifetime of happiness together!

Kim's Graduation

I am SO proud of my little sister, Kim.  You all first heard about her almost 2 years ago, when she married her amazing husband, Brian.  Well, Kim has been a pretty busy bee over the past few years.  Yesterday, she graduated from her accelerated pharmacy school program as a Doctor of Pharmacy, and is now entering the Airforce as pharmacist and a captain!

Kim being promoted to *Captain*!

As part of her graduation gift, of course I had to make a cake.  I wanted to make something pretty and whimsical (and I also wanted to try out my new lace mold!).  The cake was chocolate fudge filled with chocolate ganache and fresh raspberries.  It was a super rainy day in Boston yesterday; I was very happy to have a few minutes to take some pictures outside.  Yes, my parents' backyard really is that green - spring is wonderful!

Kim - CONGRATULATIONS!!!  We are so incredibly proud of you, and we can't wait to see where your next adventure takes you!  I know that the next few years are filled with many unknowns, but I know that you can rise above any challenges that life throws your way.

Cupcake Kit Giveaway Extended!

Update 5/13: And the lucky winner is ... Nisha!  I'll be contacting you shortly so that you can claim your prize :)  Thanks all for reading, participating, and for sharing your favorite recipes - this is the first give away of many!

Due to the problems with Blogger yesterday and today, I've extended the giveaway for another day!  Apparently, they had some problems with a maintenance update that they put out, and "temporarily" removed all comments, etc from yesterday morning onward (check out Blogger's twitter feed).  So, a few comments on the giveaway post were removed :(

Sorry about this all - bad timing!  If your comment was removed, please re-add it :)  And for all of you that haven't entered yet - you now have until tonight at 8PM EST!

French Macarons and Cookies Class

Close-up of a hazelnut-pistachio financier

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of attending a French macaron and cookies class (with the lovely Victoria from Cakeology!) at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts.  The class was taught by Master Pastry Chef Delphin Gomes, who is absolutely amazing at his craft and super entertaining; we had so much fun!

Now, I was expecting to learn *something* in this class - but it completely blew my expectations out of the water.  The class was really, really fanstastic.  Life changing, even.  I learned A TON, not only about macarons, but about baking technique in general.  During the four hour class, we made four flavors of macarons and ganaches - pistachio, raspberry, lemon, and coffee - hazelnut-pistachio financiers, almond tuiles (delightfully flavored with orange zest), and lemon madeleines.

Just a few of the helpful macaron making tidbits that I picked up:
  • Two major factors when making French macarons are a) how you whip your egg whites, and b) how much moisture is in your batter.  Egg whites should never be whipped to stiff peaks; moisture makes your macarons crack.  Humidity should not be a factor (much to the contrary of many sources that I have read).
  • To go along with the whole moisture bit - it's best to flavor your macaron shells with extracts, herbs, spices, etc - in other words, you'll get much better results if you use intensely flavored, dry ingredients than it is to try to flavor your shells with say, fruit puree.  You would need to add a lot of fruit puree to your batter before it will add enough flavor, and in doing so, you'll add far too much liquid to your batter. 
  • Too many pans in your oven at the same time can create an environment with too much moisture - which means cracking macarons.  To mitigate this; prop your oven door open just a little bit.  That will be enough to allow the excess moisture to escape.
  • You can make macarons with really any nuts that you like, but make sure that you always use at least half almond flour.  Almonds are fibrous nuts that will help hold the batter together, and have a neutral flavor, which will keep the shells from being too over-poweringly nutty. 
  • If you want to make your own almond flour, freeze the nuts first, and then run them through your food processor with a bit of powdered sugar.  This will help you get a super fine flour, and will reduce or eliminate sifting!
Unfortunately, I was too busy taking notes and paying attention to take any action shots (I promise there will be some next time!).  Here are a few shots of our finished products:

All of the amazing treats I got to take home!

Pretty and perfect macarons

Deliciously crispy almond tuiles

I absolutely cannot wait to take more classes at the CSCA; Victoria and I are hoping to take every class that Chef Delphin has to offer!  If any of you are in the Boston area, I'd highly recommend the school; their recreational programs are awesome, and range from pastry technique to wine tasting classes to cooking classes for couples.  Boston peeps - go get your learn on!

And - don't forget to enter to win my first give away - an awesome cupcake decorating kit!

Cupcake Decorating Kit Giveaway!

Update 5/13: And the lucky winner is ... Nisha!  I'll be contacting you shortly so that you can claim your prize :)  Thanks all for reading, participating, and for sharing your favorite recipes - this is the first give away of many!

My blog just hit 100 followers WOOOHOOOO!! :)  Definitely cause for a little celebration, in the form of a giveaway!  I really can't thank all of you enough for stopping by to check out my latest cake creation, or to learn a little something from a tutorial.  If there is anything else you'd like to see here - tutorials, recipes, etc - please drop me an email at kristen@queenbeecakery.com.

Due to the popularity of my Cupcake Decorating Tutorial, I thought it was only appropriate to give away a cupcake decorating kit!  The lucky winner will receive:
  • 1 dozen handmade pinwheel cupcake wrappers
  • 1 dozen handmade flower cupcake wrappers
  • 4 extra large piping tips
  • 1 heavy duty 16" piping bag
  • 1 cupcake dummy for practicing
  • A variety of sprinkles and sugars for decorating!

All you have to do to enter is:
  • Follow my blog!
  • Leave a comment on this post, with a link to your favorite cupcake recipe.  Please also include your email address in your comment, so that I can contact you if you are the lucky winner!
And that's it!  Deadline to enter is Thursday, May 12 (extended due to Blogger maintenance problems on May 12/13) Friday May 13 at 8 pm EST.  One winner will be chosen at random* and announced sometime Friday evening on this post.

Good luck, and thank you all again!!!

Happy Mother's Day!!

Happy Mother's Day to all the amazing mamas out there!  I hope that your day is relaxing, beautiful, and filled with love and sweet treats (of course).  What could be more perfect than a chocolate cake with vanilla bean creme filling with lots of pink ruffles to top off a wonderful meal? 

How are you celebrating Mother's Day this year?  If you haven't quite figured out dessert yet - check out the recipe for my creamy Meyer Lemon Tart on the Pure Joy Events blog (Part I // Part II)!

Unfortunately, my sister and I will not be able to spend Mother's Day with our mom this year; instead we'll be on a little road trip, driving from Missouri to Boston.  Definitely looking forward to getting home to give my mom a great big hug, and remind her just how much she is loved :)

Pssstttt - only a few followers to go before I reach 100 - which means that my give away is going to happen soon (see this post for a few details...)!

Bloggers Bake for Hope - Virtual Bake Sale is OPEN!

The virtual bake sale at Bloggers Bake for Hope is now open, and you can bid until Midnight (EST) on Friday, May 6th. Please support this cause by bidding on a delicious baked good!  For more information about Bloggers Bake for Hope, see my post from last week, or head on over to Bloggers Bake for Hope!

Delicious "leftovers" desserts, and details about my first give away!

Last weekend, I donated dessert for an auction dinner at the church I grew up in, in my hometown.  Four types of cupcakes later, I still had some extra lemon curd and white and dark chocolate ganache!  I hate seeing food go to waste, so I decided to whip up some desserts for Sunday dinner with my parents to use up all of my leftovers.

I made a cinnamon-pecan cookie crust for a lemon curd tart, that was absolutely delicious...

... and rolled my leftover ganache into truffles - dark chocolate rolled in cocoa, and white chocolate rolled in shredded coconut:

These desserts were the perfect way to end a gorgeous spring day and a great dinner with family.  What are some of your favorite things to do with leftovers?

In other exciting news - my little blog is creeping up to 100 followers - yippee!  I felt that this was a good time to have my first give away.  Once I hit 100 followers, the give away will be triggered, and I'll make a post with all of the details.  Due to the popularity of my Cupcake Decorating Tutorial, I think it is appropriate to give away cupcake decorating supplies!  The lucky winner will receive:

  • 1 dozen handmade pinwheel cupcake wrappers
  • 1 dozen handmade flower cupcake wrappers
  • 4 extra large piping tips
  • 1 heavy duty 16" piping bag
  • 1 cupcake dummy for practicing
  • A variety of sprinkles and sugars for decorating!

The sooner I hit 100 followers, the sooner the giveaway will happen!  Please spread the word about my blog on Facebook, Twitter, by linking from your own blog, etc - and become a follower today! :)

Gearing up to celebrate 250 years - the Dover Church auction

The church I grew up in - the Dover Church, in Dover, MA - is celebrating its 250th anniversary next year, and preparations are underway for the sestercentennial celebration in November 2012.  This church has been operational since 1762 - 1762!!!  Everyone wants to make this once in a lifetime event memorable and meaningful.  This past weekend was the first major event - an auction - to kickoff the effort that will take the church on a journey for the next year and half.  The proceeds from the auction and other fund-raising efforts will go toward things like church restorations and other social concerns.

The evening was wonderful and hugely successful.  My mom and I volunteered to help serve dinner at the auction, and I donated all of the desserts - cupcakes!  It was truly amazing to be a part of such a vibrant, helpful, generous and genuinely nice community.  Everything looked gorgeous - I wish I had more pictures, but we were too busy running around!  Here are a few shots of the main room (I *love* the pink and green):

We were too busy to take pictures of the cupcakes at the event, but here are a few from earlier in the day.  The cupcakes - red velvet with white chocolate ganache filling, chocolate with cappuccino cream filling, coconut with chocolate ganache filling, and lemon with lemon curd and a fresh blackberry - were all topped with a generous dollop of vanilla buttercream and sparkling sugars.  I handmade decorative wrappers with scalloped edges and whimsical, swarovski crystal embellished flowers:

Check out my cupcake wrapper tutorial, to learn how you can make these decorative wrappers!

The cupcakes were served on tiered glass stands, and were enjoyed by all.  I even heard a few people say that they were the best part of dinner, which was a huge compliment considering how delicious dinner was!

I'm really excited to see how the church transforms over the next year, and I hope to be able to attend the momentous 250th anniversary celebration!

This just in ... Angry Birds play golf!

My friend Keerthi threw her husband Aravind a fabulous party for this 40th birthday - and of course she needed a special cake to end the night on a sweet note!   We decided to incorporate two of Aravind's favorite things - Angry Birds and golf - into the design for a small cutting cake.  The cake was chocolate with cappuccino cream filling, and was accompanied by red velvet and car bomb cupcakes for everyone to enjoy.  Everything on the cake (well, except for the flag pole!) is handmade and edible.

Also - don't forget to head on over to the Pure Joy Events blog to check the second part of my guest post this month - the recipe for the flaky, delicious tart shell for the Meyer lemon Mother's Day tart!